Thursday, 25 March 2010

AAAAAAAAND VADER!

Vader v Dustin Rhodes (WCW Saturday Night, 11/21/92)

Great little underdog vs. monster match, which you have to expect given the participants, anyway. Vader comes into this with a bit of vulnerability to him after Sting smashed a 2x4 over his back a little earlier on the show, so you get the impression Dustin actually has a chance (this was the semi-finals of the King of the Cable tournament and Dustin had beaten The Barbarian the week prior, so it's already established he can pull out the win over a bruiser/monster). He comes out strong, more or less handing Vader his ass for a period before Vader takes over. Both guys throw some really great punches in this, stiff as Hell for the most part. I mean, Vader's always stiff, but he's throwing some BIG soup bones here. Rhodes is great at throwing punches from the bottom, landing a couple AWESOME uppercuts from his knees. Match also has one of my favourite Dustin inside-out flip bumps ever, as he gets murdered with a lariat out on the floor and takes a crazy bump on the unprotected concrete. By that point it's more or less academic, but Vader still finds time to kick him in the face before rolling him in the ring again just so he can splash him. I actually don't think I've seen their Clash match from '94, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.


Vader v Nikita Koloff (WCW Main Event, 11/29/92)

I'd say this is better than their Halloween Havoc match, but it's still nothing special. Not as good as Nikita/Hughes from earlier in the year, for example. Every time I watch a Vader match these days I find myself comparing his opponent to a type of automobile. Like, Sting would be a Dodge Charger and Brian Pillman would be a Corvette. Vader's a monster truck, and when a Dodge Charger ploughs into a monster truck, the monster truck wins. Nikita's a little bigger and stronger than someone like Sting, but fuck, he's not a monster truck. I always find it really cool how Vader will either ramp up or tone down the "collisions" with his opponents based on whether they're a Corvette, Land Rover, Fiat Pinto, etc. This is similar to the Bash match with Sting in that Nikita's having to string together some combos at the start to get Vader reeling, but Vader's content enough to hit the floor and jaw with some fans before getting back in having recovered some. And Vader, being Vader, can swings things with a couple punches. There's some sloppiness in parts and Nikita seems a little lost from time to time, but on the whole this is alright.


Vader & Rick Rude v Sting & Ron Simmons (WCW Saturday Night, 12/5/92)

I watched this a few months ago and never really dug it a whole lot, although I couldn't remember why that was exactly. This time I dug it quite a bit. It's structured almost like a hybrid of a southern tag and a Lucha trios (minus a guy on each side, obviously), each guy pairing off with the opponent they're scheduled to wrestle in singles competition a few weeks later. Rude and Simmons match-up at the start since they'll be wrestling for the World Title at the Omni on the 28th, and they have themselves a good exchange. They work it in a way that shows Simmons has the slight edge in strength and that Rude will have to find another way to beat him, which leads to him going after the leg. He makes the tag to Vader, but instead of Simmons being worked over, he tags Sting and both he and Vader get to match up for an exchange. The southern part kicks in when Sting gets overzealous and winds up having his back driven into the ring post, and from there we get Sting in peril. The subsequent heat segment is pretty good. Rude and Vader target the back and Sting sells well enough, so I can't ask for much more. Hot tag to Simmons has him going postal and mowing people down like you'd expect. Finish is sort of weird in that Simmons kinda lays around for ages while the other guys get into position before Rude hits a knee drop off the top rope, which is illegal in Watts-era WCW, behind the ref's back. Then there's some more hanging around while Rude waits for Vader to give him the tag so he can go ahead and hit the Rude Awakening and pin the champ. The spot that leaves Simmons on the deck in the first place is pretty cool, though. He takes a long run up off the ropes and careers into Vader, which results in him coming off worst (see: don't football tackle a monster truck). Vader sells it with a big "tiiiimmmmbeeeeer" bump, too, which I liked. Not among the top tier WCW tag matches for '92, but that says more about the level of tags the company had that year than this necessarily lacking anything.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

VAAAADAH!

Continuing to work my way through Goodhelmet's Vader set. At this rate I might have it finished before 2012.

Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow v The Steiner Brothers (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 6/26/92)

This is sort of a bigger version of the Vader/Hughes v Steiners Clash 18 match in WCW, only this has Bigelow in Hughes' place. This also gets more than 10 minutes, so it isn't as much of a big bomb throwing heavyweight sprint. Don't worry your pretty little head, though; there's still plenty of bomb throwing to be had here. They actually work a few of the same sequences that they did in the Clash match, so you can pretty much call what's coming next at points. Difference here is that Scotty takes an extended run as a face in peril. I kinda like him in that role, because he sells well enough and belly-to-belly suplexing a fatboy for a hope spot is something I can get behind. There's a cool moment where he gets smacked out to the floor by Bigelow, so Vader picks him up and appears to be ready to dent his cheekbone only to roll him back in the ring like a big ol' sport. He looks out to the crowd with his arms outstretched, like "See, we're nice guys." Then he tags in and pancakes him with a fatboy splash. Bigelow continues to be the guy that'll wear the opponent down with a 400 pound headlock after Vader's boxed them around for a few minutes, and I really wish Bigelow had done a stint in WCW that year other than working the New Japan shows that happened to feature WCW wrestlers. Bigelow v Steamboat on Worldwide... how could that not be good? A ref' bump/flash pin surprised me a little, but it was executed well enough so I'm not complaining. Vader was on his way to the World Title anyway, and as far as I'm aware this was one of his last appearances in New Japan. Rick Steiner takes a bitchin' big boot in the corner, btw. I mean in general. Just runs straight into it, face first. Looks real nasty.


Vader v Sting (WCW Great American Bash, 7/12/92)

Excellent match, although I'd probably call it "only" their third best together. Match is basically built around Sting having to use big offensive hit-and-run flurries while trying to avoid Vader's face-caving punches, because once he strings together a couple punches it usually leads to bigger stuff, which all equates to a heavy hurtin' that Sting wants no part of. The early stages has Sting unloading with a couple big combos, but all they really do is cause him to hit the floor and regroup with Harley. They establish the fact it's a total uphill battle right from the start and they never let you forget it. Vader's stretch on offence is largely really good (shitty looking Scorpion Deathlock aside). It's slow, but it's definitely not dull. Everything looks nasty - Vader's dishing it out, so obviously - and it's a great example of a big guy working "methodical", just taking his time and laying in the meanest shots at the best moments. Some people lose their stack for Nash working "methodical" in the Survivor Series '95 match against Bret, but comparing Nash there to Vader here, Nash just seems bored and uninterested. THIS is what I want from a big guy working "methodical". Sting's comeback rocks, too. There's a couple hope spots where he'll charge right into Vader at a million miles an hour, but charging into Vader is like running headfirst into a snowplough and he winds up floored as a result. His answer to this is to hit a freakin' Koppo kick, which really looked awesome. There's another great spot where Vader does the Shawn Michaels 'lying across the ropes in the corner while my opponent kicks the shit out of me' spot - sans flying 5 feet in the air after every kick - which Sting uses as a set-up for a huge Samoan drop. He really milks it for all it's worth too, determined to stand upright on rubber legs before finally dropping back when it looked like he'd be going face first the other way. We also get a nifty ref' bump that's way less contrived than just about any ref' bump I can recall seeing in recent memory, as Sting manages to hit a big German suplex on Vader, but the ref' had taken a knock just beforehand (as a result of Sting partially catching him with his boot as he's reversing a Vader suplex attempt) and it means he's a few vital seconds too slow at getting over to count. Ross on commentary points out that it may only have been a couple seconds, but those seconds against Vader are crucial. I'm a big fan of the finish here, too. Sting has Vader in the corner, so he blitzes him with a Stinger Splash that doesn't drop him but instead forces him to stagger into the opposite corner. Sting charges in for another one and winds up coming in TOO hard, overshooting it and KO'ing himself on the ring post. The visual of Sting, bleeding from the forehead, feebly trying to throw punches before collapsing face first is pretty amazing. One Powerbomb later and it's over. Vader winning as clean as he did really went a long way in establishing him as being *the* monster. Great drama, great finish, great match.


Vader v Ron Simmons (WCW, Baltimore, MD, 8/2/92) (Aired on WCW Main Event, 8/16/92)

This is a Hell of a match as well. Off hand, I don't think there's ever been another Simmons match as good as this... he really brought it here, as did Vader. Crowd is totally INSANE right from the jump, never letting up at all. Simmons takes a real pounding; much more so than I had remembered. Vader's just letting loose with punches flush to his face and he's eating them all like a trooper. His power offence is great in this, especially his hope spots. Vader'll shoot him down with a big splash or a flurry of punches and Simmons kicks out of everything with such vigour that the crowd are losing it more and more after each one. The responses to the roll up nearfalls are pretty tremendous, too. The pop for the finish itself is just indescribable. I mean... Jesus, it's phenomenal. It's a perfect way to end the match, because you've got Vader on the cusp of killing him dead with a powerbomb only for Simmons to reverses that and fight through everything else he's been hit with to reel off a massive powerslam and stun the champ long enough to hold him down for three. Visually, it looks awesome, because he picks him up and drives him into the mat like Vader was 200 pounds lighter, so a big guy being slammed like THAT is a believable way to pull off a flash pin. Makes Simmons look like a guy that used his heart and athleticism to overcame the obstacle that was Vader to win the world title as opposed to lucking his way into it with a fluke pin. Honestly, the match could be a train wreck and it'd still be worth watching for one kid's reaction at the end. Watch the match, you'll know who I'm talking about. Can't replicate that shit.

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #6

Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton & Steve Austin v Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons (WCW Worldwide Wrestling, 1/11/92)

I can watch just about any match from the Dangerous Alliance/Sting, Steamboat, Windham, Rhodes, etc. feud from this period and enjoy the Hell out of it. Stick any combination of Anderson and buddies up against any combination of Steamboat and buddies and I'm all over that like Dennis Rodman on a crackwhore. Sorta warms my heart then, that as fun as this is, it probably isn't even as good as half a dozen other multi-man tags WCW ran during the first 6 months of the year alone.

Arn and Steamboat are the stars of their respective teams here. Steamboat's a man possessed, just attacking the Alliance from time to time in busts of rage. There's one moment where Dustin's tossed out to the floor and Arn levels him off the apron with a double axe handle, so Steamboat sprints all the way around the ring just to get a piece of him. The camera shot's terrific, because you get to see Steamboat appear into the picture from nowhere while Arn tries to hightail it, and Schiavone's "STEAMBOAT'S HAD ENOUGH!" call of it is perfect. While this is going on Dustin winds up getting posted and Steamboat's throwing a fit, yelling at the ref' and stuff. Back in the ring and Arn measures Dustin with a knee drop, but Steamboat dives on top of Dustin, sacrificing himself by taking the knee drop instead. Arn's expression is almost that of confusion, like "What the fuck are you doing, taking the hit for a damn kid?!", before going back and beating on Dustin anyway.

Arn brings all of his usual greatness, both on offence and defence. The early going has the babyfaces coming up with an answer for everything the heels throw at them, whether it be Dustin running riot with bionic elbows, Steamboat throwing karate kicks or Simmons bowling people over with football tackles. Arn even calls a meeting with Dangerously, saying "He's just too strong", talking about Simmons, before sending Austin in there to give it a shot. Of course, that fails, too. The eventual transition into Dustin's FIP segment is really cool, with Dustin trying to fight his way out of the Dangerous Alliance corner, almost managing it before Anderson spots an opening by ramming Dustin's head into a dazed Eaton's. Thought it was a nice "for the good of the team" spot that came off as being subtle yet effective. The heat segment on Dustin is as good as you'd expect, and Arn goes about punishing him with a bunch of trademark Arn-ness. We even get another variation of the Anderson noggin'-knocker spot, which sees him attempt to drive Dustin's head into Austin's knee, only for Dustin to reverse it by sending Arn's head into the knee, which then causes Arn to bounce back and bump the back of his head with Dustin's forehead. Always love it when guys find new ways to vary their favourite "stuff", and Arn's one of the best ever in that regard.

The post-hot tag run to the finish was always pretty hectic in these matches. This time we get a nice Simmons power spot for the finish, with Arn holding him so Eaton can come off the top, except Steamboat gets himself some revenge by coming off the opposite corner and nailing Arn with a double axe, which frees up Simmons to catch Eaton with a spinebuster. The post-match beatdown has Steamboat taking a beating so you know that's good. Then Windham hits the ring with a 2x4 and you know there's gonna be Hell to pay.

Everybody looked good here. Arn and Steamboat looked great, and Dustin wasn't too far behind them. Austin's a guy I'll always really like, but he was the weakest guy in the Dangerous Alliance stable. It kinda makes me laugh when people talk about how Austin was some great "technical wrestler" before he got his neck mashed and then use his WCW run as an example of that. I can't for the life of me see how someone could watch any of this stuff and come to the conclusion Austin was robbed of his technical skills that time Owen Hart decided to piledrive him on the top of his head, thus forcing him to become a brawler, robbing us of "technical wrestler" Austin. Still, he could throw a mean lariat when he wanted to, and he busts out a peach here. Goes without saying that this is well worth your time.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #5

Arn Anderson v Shane Douglas (NWA World Championship Wrestling, 2/17/90)

Totally awesome Double A performance here, from bumping, stooging and shtick-ing on defence to working a body part like a FIEND on offence. Douglas is a perfectly good fired up babyface to start before selling his ass off once Anderson takes control, but this is all about Arn working a perfect example of a sub-ten minute 'seasoned heel v house o' fire babyface' match.

Match is unfortunately JIP, but I can't imagine us missing much, anyway. The early going is all about Douglas having an answer for every attempt Arn makes at scoring an advantage while controlling him with some standard babyface control holds -- armbars and a headlock, mostly. Arn's so good at making "confusion" spots look legit. The way he'll whip Douglas into the corner only to have Douglas leapfrog over him, run to the other corner, fake the crossbody and then actually hit the move is a simple enough sequence that we've all seen a million times, but Arn plays it out as a heel better than pretty much everybody. He's sprinting after this kid one second because he wants to hurt him before hitting the deck the next because he wants to avoid him, and by the time he's back to his feet he doesn't know what the fuck is going on. Then he turns around and bam... Douglas almost caught him. Couple other really neat moments, like when Arn tries to break free from an armbar by tugging Douglas to the mat with the hair, only for Douglas, who's flat on his back, to hang on and yank an unsuspecting Arn down with him to regain control, which is a spot I don't recall seeing before (or at least being done as well), as well as Arn's awesome bump off Douglas' flying forearm.

Arn finally gains control by tossing Douglas to the floor and distracting the referee long enough for Ole to throw him shoulder first into the ring post. From there, Arn is just relentless. I love dudes that throw great punches in wrestling; like Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dick Murdoch, etc, but guys that throw great STOMPS... I don't think there's anybody that's better at convincingly stomping the shit out of you than Arn. He's not theatrical about it in the slightest, doesn't stamp his other foot on the mat to make it sound louder, doesn't do anything at all fancy -- he just sees his opponent's face or fingers or knee as a bullseye and he's gonna stamp on it like it's a discarded cigarette. Arn using one foot to hold a guy's hand in place while he uses his other foot to hammer away at the outstretched arm is probably my favourite stomp variation in wrestling. I could probably write a term-paper on everything Arn does for the six minutes he's in control here. I really can't stress how great he is at trying to mutilate Douglas. To his credit, Douglas chipping in with hope spots by throwing punches with the opposite arm and furiously kicking at Arn is really good stuff.

Finish sees Anderson all over Douglas in the corner, wrapping his arm up over the rope and continually trying to remove it from his body. Cornette on commentary calls him a pitbull and it's hard to disagree. Eventually Pewee Anderson decides he's seen enough and, despite Douglas' pleas to let it continue, calls the match before Douglas is permanently injured. Of course, Arn doesn't give a shit and goes right back to some DIY amputation before the Steiners hit the scene and the Andersons bail.

This isn't the best Arn Anderson match - it's not close, either - but it's as good an example of why the guy rules SO hard as just about any I can think of. Like I said, Douglas is good in his role here, but Arn's your daddy and don't you forget it.

VADER! THOU SHALT BE FUCKED UP... BY VADER!

Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow v Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 5/1/92)

God DAMN this was great. I rambled about their first match a couple days ago, and while I really liked it, it more or less felt like an extended squash. I mean, the natives got their shots in and came close enough down the stretch, but on the whole Vader and Bigelow mauled them for around 20 minutes. Here, the natives come out and really take it to the monsters, and it feels like a far more even contest as a result.

In the first match Vader was killing Hase dead by punching him flush in the face, just halting any momentum with a big left hook or castigating him with a lariat. Mutoh would try and get something going on offence and Bigelow would brush aside a dropkick and flatten him with a splash. It was like a couple of pike trying to tackle a pair of Great Whites. This time, even from the first Mutoh/Bigelow exchange, the challengers bare less resemblance to a couple pike than, say, a couple tiger sharks (I have no idea if any of that actually makes sense since my knowledge of sharks isn't, uh, good, but I'mma roll with it anyway). Mutoh ducks Bigelow's enziguiri, dodges his strikes, and generally avoids all initial fat man offence. Then the Hase/Vader exchange confirms that the natives are far better equipped this time around, because Hase actually OUT-STRIKES Vader. There's another really cool moment where Vader goes to hit him with a short-arm lariat, but Hase has it scouted and counters with a Fujiwara armbar. Total reverse from the first match, because the natives control the majority of the first 7 or 8 minutes.

Then Bigelow says "Hey, Hase has a big ol' pressure bandage on his head. Let's fuck him up." And so they do. Bigelow comes in and peels the bandage off, and the look he gives the crowd is great because there's this collective "oooooh, shit" reaction. I love how he and Vader work over the cut - no fancy bullshit, just two big bullies wailing away on an open wound. Hase REALLY has the plasma flowing too, so Bigelow holding his limp body up so Vader can pepper him with jabs gets some great heat.

I really like Bigelow's role in the team. Just about any other partner and he'd be the chief asskicker of the duo, but when VADER'S your partner you practically take a backseat by default. This being the case, he's content to let Vader be the guy that'll Kermit Washington your face through the back of your head while he'll stick to throwing headbutts. I've watched three Vader/Bigelow tag matches over the last few days and I don't recall Bam Bam throwing more than a handful of punches in any match. In general they sort of look weak compared to Vader's anyway, but his headbutts look great, so he doesn't deviate. He's also the guy that'll come in after Vader's bludgeoned the opponents with fists and start to wear them down with a headlock or whatever. Doesn't come across as a "rest hold", though; all of their opponents have been faster than them, so a 400 pound guy lying on your head is a pretty smart spot in theory. Also doesn't have it locked in long enough for it to reach "downtime" territory. I dug his variation of that here, coming in after Vader's routine mauling and very briefly going for a headlock, only to realise there's a better option and throwing the fucking CLAW on Hase's gushing forehead! Crowd booes mercilessly and it was awesome.

Hase's comeback is kinda weird, because he doesn't fight his way back into things long enough to be able to make the hot tag to Mutoh, rest up on the apron for a couple minutes before getting back in to help his partner and then all parties heading Hell on wheels to the finish, which is what I was expecting. Instead, he makes his comeback and Mutoh gets in the ring anyway, once Hase has already regained the advantage for his team by himself, at which point they decide to take out Bigelow on the floor (with a nasty front suplex onto the barricade spot) while they hit Vader with a bunch of bombs in the ring, presumably because they've decided he's the one they're gonna try and pin. It's only once Bigelow is hurt outside and Vader is in bad shape inside that Hase decides to make the tag, which still gets a huge pop because we all know it's moonsault time. I'm not saying it was *bad* or anything, and I guess you could look at it as Hase showing he's fired up SO much since last time that he can make a comeback on his own, but it just seemed... weird, is all.

I also had no idea who won this going in, so I was buying a couple of the nearfalls down the stretch. Hase and Vader know how to work a chokeslam spot, btw. Vader just wraps both hands around his throat and powers him up while Hase kicks his legs in a feeble effort to escape. Then he gets dropped on his fuckin' head. Looks totally uncooperative and nasty. This was a blast.

****

Sunday, 21 March 2010

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #4

Arn Anderson & Ric Flair v Bobby Eaton & Brian Pillman (WCW Main Event, 6/9/91)

So these four get around ten minutes to work a tag match. It's not mindblowing or anything, but fuck man, like this COULDN'T be at least decent.

Match has both Pillman and Eaton taking a turn at face in peril, and while they don't have a whole lot of time to work up any kind of amazing heat segment, both are good in the role. Pillman and Flair always had some really choice strike exchanges, so you get a few examples of that here. Pillman isn't afraid to really let loose with those overhead chops of his, and Flair's knife-edges speak for themselves anyway. Eaton has some great punches, too.

Arn's the one bringing the hot shit for his team here, because Flair's pretty much content to chop people and Flair flop all over the arena. Flair circa-'91 is a strange beast. I mean, I don't think he sucked or anything, but he wasn't all that good, either. I could totally see someone that isn't a big Flair fan to begin with thinking he was outright bad. That said, I don't mind him shtick-ing his way through a ten minute TV tag because ARN is fuckin' ARN and works for two anyway. Finish is pretty crappy, though.

Arn, Pillman and Eaton would all go on to have an exceptional year six months down the line, and while this isn't up to those lofty standards, it's still worth a look.

WATCH IT HERE!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #3

Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko v Bobby Eaton & Big Josh (WCW Worldwide, 8/17/91)

Eaton and Josh are about as random a pairing as I've seen from around this time, but Eaton's a king and Borne's a guy I like quite a bit so I'm not complaining. I mean, if I'm gonna complain about anything it's that Eaton's involved for literally about 30 seconds of a 7 minute match, but I'm in a decent mood so I won't bother. I'm also hungover to shit so I can't really muster up the strength to whine, anyway.

Arn and Zbyszko are a fuggin' great team, btw. You watch them and you really get the sense they're actually trying to cut the ring in half and make it as difficult as possible for the opponent to make the tag. If he wants to tag out, he doesn't just have to weather an ass-stomping, but he's gonna have to crawl that little bit further to get to his corner. The way one of them will make the tag and then clutch onto the opponent until the partner gets in is a small detail, but I mark for little things like that and Arn and Zbyszko are great at bringing neat little touches to everything.

Arn's typically Arn-like here, bringing the hurtin' and whatnot. He doesn't do much in the way of classic Anderson stooging, but Zbyszko makes up for that by getting punched around, running face first into turnbuckles, "OOOH"ing like his name's Larry Zbyszko, etc. He also throws a few awesome punches in this, with one looking particularly sweet. Josh isn't Ricky Steamboat or anything, but he plays a perfectly decent FIP, too. Eaton comes in as the house o' fire and throws some punches, but then we get a Freebirds run-in and a big brawl for a DQ finish before he can do anything noteworthy.

Not a match that's likely to blow anybody away, but I've got no problem watching a bunch of random Enforcers tags from this period. There's a few floating around on dailymotion, youtube et al so I'll have to check them out. Too bad I can't find the Enforcers v Murdoch/Slater tag from the 9/8/91 episode of Main Event because I can't imagine that not making me wet.

HERE SHE IS!

Friday, 19 March 2010

VADER SMASH!

Watched some more of Goodhelmet's Vader set last night (send Goodhelmet your money, btw. Buy something from him. Do it now). I shall now ramble about it.

Vader & Mr. Hughes v The Steiner Brothers (WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII, 1/21/92)

I'm struggling to remember much about this specifically (that'd be the booze, I guess), but it's not the kind of thing one watches in hopes of a "deep wrestling match" or whatever, and going on who's actually in the match, provided you're familiar with any of them, you should have a decent idea of how it's worked, anyway. As in, they throw each other around a whole lot. Match only goes about 10 minutes, but like most Steiners matches, they manage to cram in a heap of bombs in that time. Hughes is a guy I've seen very little of, but I guess I should go and watch some of his WWF stuff because I dug him a bunch here. Wasn't aware he played football at Kansasa State (thanks, Jim), but I suppose that would explain his ability to eat some really cool big "athletic" bumps. He takes an overhead belly-to-belly from Scott at the start and I was expecting him to wind up crippled via 'spine-jarring-head-drop', but to my surprise he managed to rotate all the way over and take it on his back. I can't imagine any of his WWF stuff being anything remotely similar to this, though, unless he was matched up with the Steiners again while they were in the WWF, because I don't think anybody else could throw him around like this. Vader takes some big bumps as well, including an overhead belly-to-belly, which might've been even better than Hughes', and a Rick Steiner German suplex. There's a couple moments where a Steiner takes a stint at sort of playing face in peril, but this is largely about who can toss a fatty the farthest. Big heavyweight sprint and I dug it.


Vader, Mr. Hughes & Cactus Jack v Sting & The Steiner Brothers (WCW Main Event, 2/9/92)

Another heavyweight sprint with the Steiners tossing people around and Vader and Hughes chipping in with some bombs of their own, only this time Foley and Sting are added to the mix. I liked Foley quite a bit here. He still manages to come across as this unhinged crazy dude, but he almost seems like his team's glue, making quick tags and doing a good job keeping a babyface in the heel side of the ring. Like "there's a method to his madness" type guy. The Vader/Sting exchanges were good here; Sting was never afriad to let Vader punch the shit out of him. Finish is similar to the Clash tag with a pier-sixer erputing and someone catching Hughes with something off the top. Poor guy. Gotta watch out for those bastards.


Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow v Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 3/1/92)

I really liked this. Vader and Bigelow are just two big burly motherfuckers that are almost impossible to topple while Hase and Mutoh are the native babyface champs, trying to chip away at the monster gaijin. Hase in particular seems to have pissed in Vader's cereal because Big Leon really lays waste to him here. There's one point where he's got him in a seated abdominal stretch and he's hucking off punches flush on Hase's nose, so Hase gets pissed and starts slapping him only to be socked with a straight right that floors him again. I was a little surprised at how little the natives were actually given, though. Both of them are worked over for an extended period of time, but other than a few hope spots, Vader and Bigelow control about 90%. I guess that's to be expected, but I dunno... still kinda caught me off guard. Finishing run is pretty choice and I was half expecting Mutoh and Hase to pull it off at a couple points. The nearfall off Mutoh's moonsault was especially dramatic and shit. Vader and Bigelow have this really simple yet awesome signature double team move where they both stand in opposite corners and wait for an already half-dead Mutoh to struggle to his feet before simultaneously running towards each other, crushing Mutoh like Paul Bunyan just clapped his hands and killed a flee. Then they both hit a splash and Mutoh's dead as shit. Vader even manages to punch Hase in the head again as he tries to save his partner. Some parts kinda drag, but on the whole I was a fan. The match versus Hash and Chono and then the rematch with Mutoh and Hase coming up on the disc have me sorta giddy.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

2010 MOTY List (Updated)

  1. Black Terry, Negro Navarro & Dr. Cerebro v Solar I, Zatura & Suicida (IWRG, 1/28)
  2. Angelico, Solar I & Ultraman Jr. v Negro Navarro, Trauma I & Trauma II (IWRG, 1/7)
  3. Rey Mysterio v CM Punk (WWE, 2/12)
  4. Trauma I & Trauma II v Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/14)
  5. Black Terry & Dr. Cerebro v Gringo Loco & El Hijo Del Diablo (IWRG, 1/24)
  6. Bryan Danielson v Kaval (FCW, 2/7)
  7. Christian v Ezekiel Jackson (WWE, 1/31)
  8. Black Terry, Dr. Cerebro & Cerebro Negro v Pantera, Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/7)
  9. Christian & Kane v Ezekiel Jackson & William Regal (WWE, 1/26)
  10. Negro Navarro v Angelico (IWRG, 1/21)
  11. The Undertaker v Rey Mysterio (WWE, 1/31)

-----

1. Black Terry, Negro Navarro & Dr. Cerebro v Solar I, Zatura & Suicida (IWRG, 1/28)

This is pretty excellent. For one fall it's really excellent, and while the second and third falls are a step down, mainly because they're so short (first goes about 15 minutes; second and third go about 4), there's enough good stuff in both for this to steal my number one spot.

Primera caida opens with a teased Solar/Terry exchange, but Solar wants Navarro instead. I don't know how many years these guys have been locking horns for at this point, but it's almost an eternal struggle between them that neither has been able to "win" yet and I dig it a whole lot. The Navarro/Solar exchanges in the 1/7 trio were great, but I think I liked them even more here. They pair off for an extended match-up in the first and it's pretty breathtaking. The 1/7 match had them building on each exchange from caida to caida, but here they have one big exchange that builds and builds over the course of the fall, starting with them trading armdrags before working a long mat sequence that then escalates into bigger and nastier holds. Of course, it ends in a stalemate, but that's to be expected. Not sure what my favourite part of the exchange was (too many to note, anyway), but Navarro going to stand up after tying Solar in a knot only for Solar to grab his leg and instantly drag him back down to the mat was cool. Almost like he's saying "You haven't won yet, motherfucker!" There's no hold--break--hold vibe to this; it's a struggle and neither is letting the other get the better.

And then Black Terry and Zatura pair off and fuck me sideways but I thought it was even BETTER! I'd probably have Terry as my worker of the year so far, just ahead of Navarro, and the exchange here was sublime. The Navarro/Solar pairing always seems like a massive game of one-upmanship (although "game" doesn't really highlight the intensity of it all), but this was just two guys ripping it up on the board trying to take the other guy's leg home with them. Again, this isn't hold--break--hold matwork; it captures a real sense of struggle and it's REAL fuckin' good. The Suicida/Cerebro exchange is short, but it's really fast and has Suicida flying all over the place leading to him hitting a sweet tope. Solar's key lock that ends the caida is beautiful.

Already mentioned the second and third caidas being too short to be anything truly great, but they both have their moments and they're still very good in their own right. The second has more Solar/Navarro and Terry/Zatura exchanges (there's one moment where Solar takes Navarro down with a single leg that I thought looked tremendous; just the way he charges like a bull and forces this badass to the canvas), and ends with Cerebro going to town on Suicida. Third has a great little niggling moment where Zatura has Cerebro tied up in a hold and Navarro comes in to take a shot at him, and that brings in Solar who gets all "Don't even think about it, motherfucker," so Navarro leaves them be and Terry decides he'll get him some instead and dropkicks Zatura right in the fuggin' face. Solar's reaction is great. He just kinda throws his hands up like "Ah, fuck it. At least it wasn't that Navarro bastard." Also features more 'Cerebro hates Suicida because Suicida took Cerebro's hair in November' stuff and that rocks, too. Suicida's definitely climbing my list of favourite current wrestlers, mostly for the fact the dude ain't afraid to eat a HELLUVA shitkicking. Trauma II punched him six ways from Sunday in the 1/14 tag and Cerebro is just rifling off fists here and Segura's taking every one of them like he's Yuki Ishikawa or something. I'd feel sorry for the guy if it didn't look so friggin' great.

This was BOSS.

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #2

Arn Anderson & Vader v Stars 'n' Stripes (WCW Saturday Night, 4/25/95)

I don't remember a ton of 1995 WCW, but this has to be sitting around the top 5 matches they put on that year. I mean, by and large, 1995 WCW isn't exactly loaded with great wrestling matches, and I wouldn't go to bat for this being as good as, like, 20 WCW matches from '92, but in a year where there's very little to pick from, something like this stands out.

Stars 'n' Stripes are the team of Buff Bagwell and The Patriot, and they're really good here, working within a southern tag formula and hitting all the right notes. Bagwell's a guy that takes enormous amounts of shit in some circles, but he was really good a lot of the time in the early-mid 90s. Re-watching a ton of nWo era WCW isn't something I plan on doing any time soon, so I dunno how he'll hold up on that front, but fuck it, Buff was the STUFF. He's the hot tag guy here and the crowd totally lose it for him going toe to toe with Arn and Vader down the stretch. Patriot's role isn't really that of a "powerhouse", because he doesn't work any more obvious powerhouse shtick than Bagwell does, but he brings plenty of cool offence - like a great looking flying shoulder tackle - and plays a nice FIP to boot. Him and Vader almost work a little sub-story during this, with Patriot letting loose on him any time he can with no fear, only to have his clock cleaned leading into his FIP section and then to come back and hit a big back suplex at the end to a massive pop. Current wrestling needs more Stars 'n' Stripes.

Arn and Vader are about as good as one would hope when working as a team... which is very good. Vader's this big bulldozer that'll plough through anybody while Arn will go about grinding you down and drilling your head into the mat with a DDT. Arn takes a whipping from the faces at the start, but manages to get something going by drawing Patriot in to distract the ref' while he and Vader do this awesome slingshot into chokeslam spot on Bagwell. I was thinking that would be the transition into Bagwell playing FIP, but it's only a tease because they wind up running through another awesome double team spot that transitions into the Patriot FIP section, with Arn popping both babyfaces with a punch, goading Patriot into chasing him around the ring where Arn ducks a clothesline and Vader's there waiting to squash him. Nifty cut-off spot later as Patriot has Arn reeling only for Arn to catch him with a drop-toe-hold and Vader to come in and drop the elbow while he's trapped. I love southern tag formula and will pretty much always enjoy a match that follows it, so I really get a kick out of seeing how and where guys plug in transitions, spots, cut-offs, etc. and I dug all of it here.

Run towards the finish is choice with Arn busting out another one of his noggin' knocker variations leading to the hot tag, and I already mentioned Bagwell coming is as a good house o' fire. Also mentioned the big back suplex spot on Vader which was really cool. Finish rocks as Bagwell has Anderson locked up tight with a fisherman suplex in the middle of the ring, only the ref's trying to get Patriot out of there so Vader comes in and hits a jumping headbutt to Bagwell's ribs. Arn rolls him up and that's game. Really good match. I don't know if I've ever seen this pimped anywhere, so I guess you could call it a "hidden gem" or whatever because it's better than all but one match I've seen so far this year.

Should also point out that Flair comes out to the ring mid-match, and I'm guessing it's his return after a fairly long absence because Heenan is going on about it on commentary and the crowd are amped up to the gills. It's awesome because he's going nuts out there, choking Bagwell and Patriot with his jacket if they get near him, telling fans to shut up, strutting around wooing, etc. Then at the end we get a shot of him repeatedly stomping on some Hulk Hogan foam finger thing like a geriatric lunatic. Great fun.

WATCH IT HERE!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #1

So I totally ripped this idea off of Phil Schneider and TomK from DVDVR who went about a 'Dustin of the Day' and then a 'Fujiwara of the Day' project a long ways back, and since Arn Anderson's become one of my all-time favourites over the last year or so I figured I'd do something similar for ol' Double A.

Basic idea is that I'll watch and talk about an Arn Anderson match a day (although not every day; that requires a level of effort I'm incapable of putting in) until I've worked my way up to 'DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #40' or so. That's the goal, anyway. Whether I'll actually reach it... we shall see.

Also wanted to do this after my comment about Arn being better than Bret Hart started a shitstorm of hilarious proportions on a certain forum. Hopefully this inspires people to seek out some more Double A - particularly the people that flipped their shit in the first place - because dismissing the notion that Arn's better and instantly claiming anyone who believes that to be the case is "drunk" or "high" is retarded. Let's just ignore the fact I actually *was* drunk at the time :).


Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko v Dustin Rhodes & Ricky Steamboat (WCW Clash of the Champions 17, 11/19/91)

This is Steamboat's return match, subbing for the injured Barry Windham as Dustin's partner. They do the whole "mystery partner" deal and Steamboat comes out with this big dragon-like costume thing. Arn and Larry are perplexed initially, then the goofy costume comes off and the mystery partner's revealed as Ricky motherfuckin' Steamboat and Arn and Larry's perplexity morphs into shock, awe and fear.

Opening minutes are all about the faces, especially Steamboat, going to town on the heels and the heels trying - and failing - to do anything to combat it. They manage to get a few look-ins, but there's just nothing they can do to get anything worthwhile going at all. The Enforcers are forced to bail to the floor, and Arn gives a pep talk about how Steamboat's "just a man".

The transition into the face-in-peril section is pretty cool, with Larry playing Jerry to Steamboat's Tom after slapping him in the mush, which leads to him making the blind tag to Arn that in turn brings about a cheap shot and double team. Steamboat playing FIP is a nice little twist, because Dustin-in-peril is the kind of thing you'd expect 9 times out of 10 in a situation like this. Of course, Steamboat playing FIP is magic. I've always loved him as a seller, but I watched four or five matches from Goodhelmet's Steamboat comp last night and I think I'd call him my favourite seller ever now (probably strange, but the match that made me realise this was the Summerslam '91 six-man. Dude was fuckin' AWESOME in that). Some of his subtle touches really make you appreciate a great match even more.

And Anderson's just as great in his role. He really comes across as the boss here. I haven't seen a ton of Enforcers tags from before this, so I'm not sure if Larry always worked "secondary" to Arn, but this is all about Arn pulling the strings for his team. He's great at directing traffic, and you get to see it at the start with him calling a meeting with Larry, which I already mentioned. Then you see it as both he and Steamboat are doing the slow crawl to make the tag, as he realises Steamboat's gonna make the tag while he can't, so he shouts to Larry "Get him! There's no time!" Fuck the tag, they just wanna keep Steamboat down no matter what. Completely unrelated to the "Arn working as boss" point, there's a bunch of other stuff he does that rocks as well. He's right up there with Bill Dundee and Dick Murdoch in terms of my favourite 'guys with incredible shtick' wrestlers, and he gets to bust some of it out here. There's a spot early that I love where he goes up top only to be caught there by Dustin. What's awesome is that he works variations of shtick, so he could wind up crotched with a bug-eyed sell, could wind up being tossed off the top ala Flair, etc. This time, however, he totally 180s that and, instead of being tossed or crotched, he drills Dustin right in the eye with a nasty little jab before coming off the top and hitting a double axe. I could probably write an essay on Anderson's shtick every time out, it's that good.

Post-hot tag run to the finish is shorter than I had remembered, and it forces Steamboat to start up some offence sooner than I'd hope, but it's not really something I can complain too much about.

Great match, deeply "southern" in its approach. Not sure who I'd say the "star" is since Steamboat and Arn are both excellent, albeit entirely different, here... Arn's shtick or Steamboat's subtle selling? Arn dishing a beating or Steamboat taking one? Flip a coin or something. Definitely gonna search out some more Enforcers tags from their title run, though. They ruled as a couple badasses cutting the ring in half and beating on a motherfucker here. Probably seems like a silly thing to say given the fact Arn was paired up with Eaton in the Dangerous Alliance, which is a combo you can't go wrong with at all, but I would've liked to have seen some more of the Arn/Larry team during that period. Watched a shit load of Goodhelmet's Dangerous Alliance comp over the last year or so, though, so maybe there was a chunk of Arn/Larry tags and I'm just forgetting them. Either way, this was gooood.

2010 MOTY List (Updated)

  1. Angelico, Solar I & Ultraman Jr. v Negro Navarro, Trauma I & Trauma II (IWRG, 1/7)
  2. Rey Mysterio v CM Punk (WWE, 2/12)
  3. Trauma I & Trauma II v Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/14)
  4. Black Terry & Dr. Cerebro v Gringo Loco & El Hijo Del Diablo (IWRG, 1/24)
  5. Bryan Danielson v Kaval (FCW, 2/7)
  6. Christian v Ezekiel Jackson (WWE, 1/31)
  7. Black Terry, Dr. Cerebro & Cerebro Negro v Pantera, Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/7)
  8. Christian & Kane v Ezekiel Jackson & William Regal (WWE, 1/26)
  9. Negro Navarro v Angelico (IWRG, 1/21)
  10. The Undertaker v Rey Mysterio (WWE, 1/31)
-----

Well fuck me, I actually managed to get a top 10 before June.


4. Black Terry & Dr. Cerebro v Gringo Loco & El Hijo Del Diablo (IWRG, 1/24)

Ton of fun. This is just a bloody brawl with an awesome crowd, something you don't get to appreciate often enough in Lucha since the crowd rarely comes off well on TV. Black Terry Jr's handhelds are definitely the way to go in that respect. Star of the match is Black Terry, who bleeds everywhere and both takes and dishes out an asswhooping. Gringo Loco and Hijo Del Diablo are real scummy looking motherfuckers and the crowd are all over them. It's great seeing Diablo, who looks like the kind of person you'd see selling 14 year old girls in some back alley in Tijuana, trying to rally a crowd chant for himself only to be met with a chorus of booes. I've heard great things about the Cerebro/Hijo Del Diablo match from 1/31, and this only makes me even more hyped to see it. My favourite spot of the match might be Gringo Loco bringing a bag of cactus leaves into the ring and grating one right across Terry's open wound. It's a spot that I could imagine coming off as being really goofy a lot of the time, but I thought it was awesome here. Opening is cool, too, as Terry and Cerebro head up the aisle to meet Loco/Diablo right off the bat, only to be jumped from behind and plastered with a couple chairs. Terry's receipt for that later by murdering Loco with one of those non-folding ones looked REAL sore and hurty. Black Terry... fuck yeah!

Black Tiger v Wild Pegasus (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 6/11/96)

So, I watched and talked about the Liger/Sano 1/31/90 match a few days ago and briefly mentioned this at the end as being the better match. Watching this again, I still stand by that. I also called it my #1 New Japan juniors match ever, and I still stand by that, too.

The thing I like about Eddie's two "big" matches in the '96 BOSJ tourney (vs. Benoit here and vs. Liger in the final) is that they both use the opening 6 or so minutes to establish roles and strengths, as opposed to working the mat with the perfunctory junior heavyweight matwork that crushes my soul. In the Liger match they established parity. Here they establish Benoit as the better on the mat and the one that's content to grind things out and win with holds while Eddie's a step quicker and has the advantage when it comes to flying and "bringing the Lucha"... or something. Couple examples of that in the early stages with Benoit coming out on top of some initial hold-trading by tying Eddie up in a high-angled Boston crab, or Eddie countering Benoit's matwork by hitting a headscissors and a couple of Hilos -- one in the ring and one on the ramp, which was pretty fuggin' nifty.

From there it builds to Benoit trying to crank Eddie's head off his shoulders with a TIGHT headlock/sleeper, almost like that Fujinami/Fujiwara exchange during the 5/86 gauntlet where Fujinami uses the sleeper as a foundation for his offence. It's already been established that Benoit's the better grappler, so he goes about keeping Eddie from working to his strengths by wearing him down on the mat. The next ten minutes or so are all about Benoit being relentless with the sleeper, draining Eddie's energy to the point where a couple big bombs should put him away, while Eddie tries to shake him off and create enough distance so he can get his head back in the game and mount something in the way of a decent run of offence. The way the crowd get more and more pissed at Benoit while rallying behind Eddie is really cool.

Should also point out that Eddie's selling through all of this is fantastic. He's subtle about it, but when he's working though his hope spots he makes sure you know the sleeper's took a big toll. He'll climb up to the top rope, but he'll do it much slower than he usually would, almost slipping off the ropes as he goes, and you know he hasn't regained his bearings. He'll try and hit a plancha after being trapped in the sleeper for a spell and he'll do it almost lethargically, so Benoit will catch him and whip him into the guardrail which in turn sets up Benoit to hit a tope of his own. He'll avoid a Dragon Suplex by fighting to the ropes, but he still hasn't got it all together yet and winds up letting go and essentially walking backwards right into the same move. Even something as simple as loosening his mask just to get the blood flowing a little better... it's all really awesome.

Final few minutes are all about whether Eddie can overcome the effects of the sleeper and pull out a win while Benoit makes to build on it and put him away with a big bomb. The "stretch" is kept real tight and focused, so there's no bullshit or overkill and they work four or five big nearfalls to far greater effect than ten or eleven. The tombstone off the second rope tease is a great callback spot that the crowd buy into huge, because they know Benoit put Eddie away with it in last year's tourney. This time Eddie *does* weather the storm, though, and manages to both escape the tombstone and go on to hit the top rope brainbuster for the win.

Really excellent match. *Might* be in my top 3 for both guy's careers, but I'd have to think some more about it and/or re-watch some stuff. A juniors match half this good this year would put a smile on my face.

****1/2

Monday, 15 March 2010

2010 MOTY List (Updated)

  1. Angelico, Solar I & Ultraman Jr. v Negro Navarro, Trauma I & Trauma II (IWRG, 1/7)
  2. Rey Mysterio v CM Punk (WWE, 2/12)
  3. Trauma I & Trauma II v Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/14)
  4. Bryan Danielson v Kaval (FCW, 2/7)
  5. Christian v Ezekiel Jackson (WWE, 1/31)
  6. Black Terry, Dr. Cerebro & Cerebro Negro v Pantera, Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/7)
  7. Christian & Kane v Ezekiel Jackson & William Regal (WWE, 1/26)
  8. Negro Navarro v Angelico (IWRG, 1/21)
  9. The Undertaker v Rey Mysterio (WWE, 1/31)

----

3. Trauma I & Trauma II v Suicida & Zatura (IWRG, 1/14)

Man, Trauma II was a totally awesome asskicker here. His slaps looked particularly brutal, like big, looping palm blasts right to the ear. He throws some nasty looking jabs to the face and body as well. Most of this is directed at Suicida, who both Traumas set about assaulting at the end of the first caida. The first caida itself is all about the II/Suicida pairing, with some really good matwork that's broken up by batches of them punching each other in the face. Their exchange practically makes up the entire fall, but it's so good I can't imagine anybody complaining. I still like IWRG matwork a lot despite the fact I tend to find the holds are given up without much of a struggle, so Trauma II breaking up a Suicida submission by jabbing him in the jaw is the little cherry on top. He also busts out a really swank hold towards the end of their exchange, almost like a standing reverse Texas Cloverleaf before dropping down and using his legs to grapevine Suicida's entire body. Trauma I stopping a Zatura tope by kneeing him in the face as he's ready to dive out of the ring was also pretty tremendous. And then the post-caida beatdown... that was some surly shit.

I just wish the second and third caidas were longer. The second picks up where the first left off with Los Traumas whipping ass on the technicos, and of course that leads to the technico comeback which in turn leads into the deciding fall. I could see someone thinking the technicos winning the fall with such a brief comeback after being stomped so thoroughly for the past 5 or 6 minutes is a bit of a cop out, and I can understand that line of thinking myself, but it always seemed like Los Traumas were beating these two dudes up because they're Negro Navarro's kids and they just want to beat a couple motherfuckers up, whereas Suicida and Zatura went about things in a way that looked like they were trying to *win*, not simply punish.

Third caida has a nifty double fall restart deal, and the Trauma I/Suicida showdown was good enough, albeit a step down from Suicida's exchanges with II. Trauma I does have this incredible submission move, though, that I guess I can only really describe as a reverse figure-four combined with an ankle lock, all starting from a standing position before working to the ground with a quick spin of the hips. It's really fuckin' cool.

As a whole, this is really a Traumas showcase with the technicos coming along for the ride. Zatura is basically a non-factor, but Suicida does still manage to look real good, especially when he's in there with Trauma II. Trauma I isn't as polished as his brother, but he throws some nice strikes and I'd still call him a good worker (I dug him in the 1/7 trios, too). Trauma II is friggin' great and his performance here makes me think he's gonna be one of the best in the world this year if he keeps it up.


8. Negro Navarro v Angelico (IWRG, 1/21)

Not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand, Navarro still looks like one of the best in the world, but I wasn't expecting this to be worked as even as it was considering the fact Angelico isn't... like... good. I mean, I don't seem to dislike him or think he's as offensively bad as a lot of people do, and I thought he was at least decent here, but he's just not on Navarro's level at all and it was pretty weird seeing him hang all the way through. His kicks are atrocious, though.

It's a title match worked almost entirely on the mat, but I was always expecting Navarro to just flip a switch and start tearing shit up. It never really happened, though. I dunno, maybe because Angelico's Navarro's student he wanted to work it more evenly than he would were he in there with some other young guy.

In any case, Navarro's really good at looking more and more frustrated the longer things go without being able to put the kid away. His selling of Angelico's holds is always strong, laying on the mat after each exchange Angelico wins with a great "Fuck me, this should be easier than this" look, almost like he's either thinking a few steps ahead or having to re-think those steps every time Angelico gets the better of him. Angelico winning the first caida with a quick flash submission is about what I was expecting.

Second caida is shorter and has Navarro coming as close to "flipping the switch" as we get, but I still felt like it was too even on the whole. I did like the finish, though, with Navarro refusing to let Angelico escape the key lock, constantly rolling through and doing this really cool little shimmy thing on the mat, always manoeuvring so Angelico can't force a rope break.

Third caida is more of the same. Navarro reversing a shining wizard right into a submission was awesome, but Angelico reversing that into a submission of his own and actually WINNING caught me off guard.

Judging this on what it is and not what I was hoping/expecting (Angelico more or less working even with Negro Navarro as opposed to Navarro taking a limb home in a bag), I do think it's pretty good. I could totally see someone watching it and thinking it's garbage, especially if they don't watch much Lucha, because there isn't much struggling over the matwork at all and it seems more like them trading the submissions and holds in their holster in a game of "top this" than anything else, but I did mention I like IWRG matwork despite that, so I won't complain. I'd be surprised if this finished near my top 20 by the end of the year, though.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

VADER!.. AND HANSEN! EYE POPPING!.. LITERALLY!

So I watched some of Goodhelmet's Vader set today. Lots of punches were thrown. Nasty looking punches.

Big Van Vader v Stan Hansen (New Japan v All Japan Super Show, 2/10/90)

This is quite the famous (or infamous... I dunno... whatever) little match. As an actual *match*, it's nothing special, but it's mostly talked about for the fact they hit each other really hard because Vader's a big grizzly bear with a Road Warrior-esque haircut and Hansen's a surly, tobacco chewing Texan and those two combustible elements combine to create such stiffness that causes Vader's eye to pop out its socket. I'm not entirely sure what actually does the damage - or at least enough damage to cause one's eyeball to do the jump - but I'm assuming it's one of Hansen's punches to the side of the head, because they're throwing fists and forearms right off the bat and about five minutes in they kind of go into a clinch, and when they come out of it Vader looks like he's been stung in the eye by that big wasp in the old Donkey Kong games. Rest of the match is pretty fuckin' stiff because they really lay it in despite Vader being in as bad shape as he is. There's some nice rib-work on Hansen, though, which big Stan sells really well. They work a bunch of teased double count-out spots that the crowd eat up, too. Of course, it eventually does finish in that exact way, but it's hardly surprising given the fact it's Hansen... and Vader... and nobody's "losing". You know how it goes. As a brawl that's more or less built around two guys stiffing the shit out of each other, it's almost like a precursor to the Vader/Foley Saturday Night match from April '93, only this has Vader's opponent giving it as good as he gets, as opposed to Vader assaulting the opponent for the duration.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Jushin Liger v Naoki Sano (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 1/31/90)

This used to be floating around my all-time top five matches. I wouldn't hold it *that* high anymore, but it's still a tremendous match.

It's a simple match. There's nothing especially "intricate" about it, but I'm at the point now where I'd rather watch two guys tell a simple story really well than two guys trying to pump out a "storytelling epic" or whatever. I mean, I love 90s All Japan as much as the next guy, but most of the time I'm more inclined to sit and watch something like this - something that doesn't require one to think too much about - before something like Misawa/Kawada, even if the latter is technically better. Or something.

Anyways, this is all about Liger stepping up to the plate and asserting himself as the boss of the division. He's the Liu Kang to Sano's Shao Kahn. The Ryu to Sano's M. Bison. There's another "Asian guy" movie reference in there, but I'll be damned if I can think of it right now. He comes out the blocks full of piss and vinegar, even opting to slap Sano rather than shake his hand, and generally goes about trying to make short work of the enemy.

Then Sano gets pissed at the fact he's being bitched out by this fuck in a goofy costume and just goes to town. He posts him, rips at the mask, busts him open... he beats the shit out of him is what I'm saying. Liger's selling is amazing, too. He's bleeding all over the place and stumbling around like he's ready to pass out, trying to string together as much offence as he can before Sano's able to get his bearings and kill him dead. Any kind of offence he does manage to muster feels more like a hope-spot than anything, even the INSANE tope that clears the ring barrier. Liger's in total survival mode at this point and Sano's the one going in for the kill... problem is, that fuck in the goofy costume just won't stay down.

Last few minutes are about Liger FIGHTING his way back into things while Sano struggles to keep his grip on the situation. Liger's offence doesn't seem as much like "survival instincts" now and you get the sense he might actually have weathered this little shit kicker's storm. Then he strings together two big moves and the Shooting Star Press... storm weathered.

So yeah, I'm not as big a fan of it as I was in the past, but my tastes are always changing and I had a decent idea that it would fall out of favour ever so slightly. That said, it's still a Hell of a match. I'd probably put the Eddie/Benoit match from the 1996 BOSJ tourney over it as the best New Japan juniors match ever, and I still love both Liger/Ohtani matches, but I can't imagine this falling out of my top 5 if I were to sit and really think about it.

****1/2

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

WWF 1997 Ramblings

Shawn Michaels & Steve Austin v Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith (RAW, 5/26/97)

Awesome match. I watched just about everything that had led up to this a couple weeks ago - and indeed would've watched the match itself afterwards were it not for unforeseen disc issues (ie. it's fucked) - and this is about as perfect a "blow off" as I could hoping for. Owen and Davey are the tag champs, have been for a while, and are without question a formidable cohesive unit. Shawn and Austin, however, don't like each other one bit and have only found themselves in the position of having to tag with one another since they share the same BURNING HATRED for the Hart Foundation. Their hatred for their partner can be put on hold, even just for a little while, so they can stick it to their enemies by taking their gold belts.

Match is total southern tag formula with the babyfaces coming out the traps on fire, burning the heels (GEDDIT?!) at every turn. Austin's like a balder, drunker, meaner sociopathic Robert Gibson and Michaels is like a prettier Ricky Morton with a better haircut and cooler wrestling tights that makes the ladies shriek the shriek of THE HORN. The Beer 'N' Queer Express.

Michaels is a guy that, as a singles worker, people either tend to love or hate. No point going on about the pros and cons of Shawn Michaels in a singles environment because it's been done, done, done again and then done a couple more times, but as a tag worker I'd still say the guy's pretty exceptional. He's usually the go-to guy for the face-in-peril segment, and the heat segment on him here is really good. It comes after a short Austin-in-peril segment, but the work over on Michaels lasts much longer and in turn gives him more opportunities to eat Owen and the Bulldog's offence. Michaels working hope spots and selling a beatdown as the FIP during a tag match is perhaps where Michaels is at his best, and this is one of his best performances in that role. In terms of "singles star Shawn Michaels working a tag match", it's probably his best.

That said, Austin might be the best guy in the match. As 'Stone Cold', Austin was always so animated and seemed to be doing something to keep the crowd amped up at all times. This is a great example of him using his character to do a bunch of stuff that the crowd gladly eat up. The way he'll storm the ring, throw punches at Owen and Bulldog and then flip the ref' the bird before getting back onto the apron and yelling at Shawn to get his pretty boy ass in gear gets a massive reaction. He even makes the "phantom tag that the referee doesn't see because the heels have him distracted" spot look great, because it actually looks like he's trying to get a hold of Owen and Davey, as opposed to waltzing over to them and waiting for the ref' to stop him and throw him back out again like you see so often. Hebnar grabs a hold of him just as he's ready to rifle off a huge haymaker, and you get the sense he was legit ready to decapitate a fool, which he probably would've had he not been shut down because of a measly technicality. My favourite spot of the match might be Austin's reaction to the transition that kicks off Michaels' FIP section -- Davey hoists Shawn up and goes to crotch him along the top rope with that "gorilla press and walk backwards before dropping him on his grapes" spot they liked to do, and Austin's standing on the apron with his hands on his head and a look of dread on his face, which leads to him burying his face in his hands because his partner was just emasculated and probably cost him the tag belts as a result. It was great. The general aura of chaos he exudes has people going batshit all the time, too. You can buy the fact insanity just follows this guy around and any time he's on the scene there's the propensity for sheer motherfucking havoc to be wreaked.

Probably sounds like I'm talking this up as some kind of babyface carry-job, but it's not. Davey and Owen are good in their roles, working cut-off and distraction spots, but on the whole, this is a terrific performance from the babyfaces.

Post-match is a blast as well, with the Foundation hitting the ring and gang raping Shawn while Austin leaves them to it in favour of jumping Bret, who's been left all alone atop the ramp.

****

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

2010 MOTY List (Ongoing)

Besides the fact "ongoing" is more or less me sugarcoating "I'll probably drop the ball with this in about a week and a half", doing something like this is pretty much the only way I'm gonna feel at all motivated to keep up (kinda) with 2010 wrestling. I've gradually stopped following "current" wrestling since "current" was 2007, but I figure I might as well use this blog nonsense for something.

List is kinda bare at the moment, but I'm working my way through the IWRG stuff that's up on youtube and I'm planning to catch up with some puro that's been getting pimped, so hopefully I'll have a top 20 relatively soon.

Don't expect this to be updated any more than, like, three times a month, by the way.

Anyways...

1. Angelico, Solar I & Ultraman Jr. v Negro Navarro, Trauma I & Trauma II (IWRG, 1/7)
2. Rey Mysterio v CM Punk (WWE, 2/12)
3. Bryan Danielson v Kaval (FCW, 2/7)
4. Christian v Ezekiel Jackson (WWE, 1/31)
5. Christian & Kane v Ezekiel Jackson & William Regal (WWE, 1/26)
6. The Undertaker v Rey Mysterio (WWE, 1/31)

----

1. Angelico, Solar I & Ultraman Jr. v Negro Navarro, Trauma I & Trauma II (IWRG, 1/7)

I thought this was really, really good.

Match is mostly focused on the Navarro/Solar pairing, and if you're not familiar with either of those guys... well, just know that that's a very good thing. Their armdrag exchange in the first caida is real slick and fast, and it builds from there as the match moves from caida to caida, almost like a big game of one-upmanship spanning across three falls; the groundwork being set in the first with neither really managing to establish a clear advantage, the tension building in the second with Navarro sneaking in the back door and winning the fall at Solar's expense, and culminating with an extended exchange in the third. It was awesome.

It's not ALL about Navarro and Solar, though -- the other four guys bring it, too. I hadn't seen Angelico before, but he's practically the double of a young Robbie Savage, thus I found myself expecting him to drop this Lucha carry on in favour of trying to mow some guy's legs down at a million miles an hour. No such luck on that front in the first two caidas, but he does hit an awesome dive in the third that lands him ass-deep in row number five. His exchange with Trauma I in the opening caida was real pretty and stuff. Almost Steve Wright-esque. Ultraman Jr. and Trauma II are relatively quiet, but their exchange in the first is nice - albeit short - and it's not like they're anything less than good throughout, anyway. It's just that there's Negro Navarro and Solar I and... yeah.

Top o' the pile so far. Very much looking forward to working through the rest of the IWRG stuff from January.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Bob Backlund v Superstar Billy Graham (MSG, 2/20/78) (8mm silent film clips)

Obviously not the full match here, but it's the Backlund title win so I'm guessing it's on the set for HISTORICAL PURPOSES. Most of what we see is Bob finding interesting ways to out-power the powerhouse, and some of the feats of strength on Backlund's part are nuts, like dead lifting him clean off the mat and ragdolling him in a bearhug like he was 75 pounds. I guess Backlund's always gonna be remembered by a lot of people for being this batshit crazy, borderline retarded, old dude that hung around with Kurt Angle for a minute back in the day, or some skin headed loon that got flattened by Kevin Nash on a house show before trying to become President, since I can only assume the one thing more important than the WWF title is to become President of the United States, but the guy really was a fuckin' machine. So, so strong.

Anyways, Backlund wins the strap and breaks down in tears after a few minutes of jumping around like a kid that's just been told they're going to motherfuckin' Disney Land or something.

The BOB era begins... hail, hail.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Bob Backlund & Bob Roop v Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 7/25/74)

This is probably more interesting than anything, since I can imagine people watching it and thinking "Hey, Backlund's someone's lackey here!" or "Hey, that Giant Baba guy actually COULD move and stuff! And that Jumbo Tsuruta kid looks like he's got some chops!" or "Hey, there's that Bob Roop guy from... wait, who the fuck is Bob Roop?", but I watched it a couple years back and really dug it, so I knew what to expect this time around. Aaaaaand I dug it.

It's two out of three falls and the first fall is mostly built around the two young guys - BOB(Backlund) and JUMBO - getting chippy with each while the two, uh, "old" guys - BOB(Roop) and Baba - also get chippy with each other in between bouts of getting chippy with the young/old guy on the opposing team. So basically everybody's gettin' chippy with everybody. Good times ensue. Couple cool little moments where Backlund does something to get under Baba's skin, like stick his knee up as Roop whips him(Baba) into the corner, which results in Baba chopping lil' Bob for not knowing his place. It felt like a Tenryu moment only 20 years earlier. Fall ends with Roop taking a double boot to the mush, which of course pisses him off because that shit ain't legal.

Second fall only goes about 4 and a half minutes, but it's mostly filled with Backlund and Jumbo teasing punching each other in the face. Backlund's a goofy little fella, but he has this aura of ass-stompery about him even if he hasn't quited figured out how to channel it into ACTUALLY stomping someone's ass... until he gets all "Shove ME in the chest after a rope break, will ya?" and dumps Jumbo flat on his bean with a butterfly suplex. The short Baba/Backlund interaction that rounds out the fall is really fun, and the big galoot even serves Backlund up on a platter for Jumbo to dropkick right in the teeth. Lil' Bob takes the fall this time (as opposed to not-as-lil'-Bob) and the natives score the two-zip win.

So yeah, this is more of an interesting look at Backlund working as this young, fired up little tough guy punching above his weight than a great match, but it also gives you a look at young Jumbo, spry Baba, and, well, Bob Roop in general, since there's hardly an abundance of Bob Roop pimping going on (watch the Mid-South set; it's awesome).

So, Bob Backlund is your daddy and I'm gonna ramble about a Bob Backlund comp and make whiskey references!!

Title says it all, really. Been toying with the idea of starting one of these for a little while, and a great man -- a sober man -- convinced me to go ahead and do it since there might actually be a market for drunken retards like me talking about something as goofy as pro-wrestling.

"Hey, you should totally start a blog. And make it about WRESTLING!"

Totally.

Gonna start watching some BACKLUND later and I'll update this as I go. Should be interesting to see how long I can keep it up before I lose interest. Or just forget it even exists... Latter, probably.

I'll update this post as I watch/talk about the comp as I go.

1974

Bob Backlund & Bob Roop v Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (All Japan, 7/25/74)

1978

Bob Backlund v Superstar Billy Graham (MSG, 2/20/78) (8mm silent film clips)
Bob Backlund v Ivan Koloff (MSG, 8/28/78)

1979

Bob Backlund v Greg Valentine (MSG, 2/19/79)