Saturday, 17 September 2011

Where did all the Good BASTION BOOGER Matches Go???

Bam Bam Bigelow & Bastion Booger v The Smoking Gunns (RAW, 1/3/94)

This was the "main" match of the show. As in, this was the match that got the most time. I was legit looking forward to this. Bam Bam is looking like one of the best guys in the company in '94 and I remember being hugely disappointed as a kid when Booger pulled out of the Royal Rumble at the last minute. No IDEA why I wanted a Bastion Booger appearance back then, but there you have it. I think Virgil was his replacement. Fuck Virgil. But yeah, Booger is utterly grotesque. This kind of sucked, unfortunately. Billy and Bart were pretty crappy here, Booger moves a mile a century, and Bam Bam, try as he may, isn't able to pick up the slack and drag this into "not sucky" territory. Did I mention Bastion Booger is utterly grotesque? They run some angle at the end where Luna (Bigelows' MAIN SQUEEZE at the awesome is THAT?) starts rubbing the hump on Booger's neck, and Booger sees this as her coming onto him so he starts trying to molest her or some shit. I am not making this up. Bigelow eventually notices and tries to pull him off, they start brawling (or "clutching") and the Gunns win by count-out. Bastion, you dog, you.

The Quebecers v Marty Jannetty & 123 Kid (RAW, 1/10/94)

This was really fucking good, maybe a top 5 TV match of the year. Gets plenty of time (about 20 minutes) and everybody brings it. Marty and Kid have a bunch of neat double teams and the Quebecers keep having to stall and regroup. They tease Marty going FIP when Jacques (I think) pulls the rope down from the apron as Marty's running in, and Marty takes a really cool bump over the top. When he lands it looks like he splats his nose on the floor. When Kid comes in after this he strings off a couple great highspots. Vince's call of the somersault plancha off the top is amazing. It sounds like he swallows his tongue because his brain is overloading trying to think of a way to describe it. "GBLUGH. DID YOU SEE THAT?!" Quebecers eventually take over when Kid is up top ready to go for the kill and Pierre shoves him off. I don't recall seeing more than 5 Quebecers matches in my life, but I was shocked at how good their heat segment was here. They don't really work it in a way that allows for good hope spots, which admittedly sounds pretty counter-productive, but instead they just murder Kid with a bunch of great looking shit. Pierre's assisted top rope somersault senton looked brutal (that's one thing about them I do recall) and they absolutely kill Waltman with this Total Elimination variant where Pierre hits a running lariat as Jacques casually sweeps his legs away. I would've liked them to build to the finish a wee bit better, but that's neither here nor there. Pop for the title change is a POP and Savage hitting the ring and celebrating is why I love that crazy bastard.

Bam Bam Bigelow v Bastion Booger (RAW, 1/10/94)

This was...not good. Only got about 2 minutes. Bigelow tries to slam Booger at one point and almost falls and gets squashed underneath him. He's all "Nah, fuck that shit" and just picks him up and does it again (this time properly). Booger gets his head rammed into the steps and the way he just lays over them after it like a harpooned whale was hilarious. Imagine Rosie O'Donnell trying to seduce a prostitute. THAT was what this was. I hope to uncover at least one good Bastion Booger match for this project. This wasn't it.

1994 WWF Project

Sunday, 11 September 2011

King of the Ring 1994

It's rare that I'll sit and watch an entire wrestling show in one sitting these days, and while I didn't watch THIS show in one sitting, I DID watch the whole thing (in two sittings, which I guess is the next best thing), shitty IRS matches and all.

Razor Ramon v Bam Bam Bigelow (King of the Ring 1st Round Match)

This wasn't a great match or anything, but Bigelow looked pretty damn good as this big bear with flames tattooed on his dome. They do an extended torture rack spot here that was pretty weird. Bigelow hoists him up and Razor just kind of lays across his shoulders for like 3 whole minutes. It's an interesting choice for a resthold since standing still with a 250 pound lump of dead weight on your back is hardly the best way to get your wind back, and by the time Bigelow drops him he looks suitably fucked. A good old chinlock probably would've done the trick just fine. Bigelow's bump for the finish looked pretty gnarly, though.

IRS v Mabel (King of the Ring 1st Round Match)

Rotunda's promo pre-match is great in a totally "this is crap, but it's funny crap" way. He points at Mabel and starts talking about Tatanka and how after he's done with Mabel Tatanka will never have to face IRS again. Uh, what? He also stammers over lines and it was no Antichristo promo. "I AM TAX MAN! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" probably would've made me legitimately piss myself. Match itself is a tad shitty. Mabel hits a pretty looking northern lights suplex for a morbidly obese guy, but it's strange seeing him dance around like DJ Casper to "whoomp, there it's is" chants. I guess I just conditioned myself to look at him as the guy that sexually harassed Lillian Garcia before turning into the monstrous (in the BEST way) Big Daddy V. Finish was a really lame "grabbing the ropes for leverage" spot. Mabel goes to splash IRS from the middle rope, but Irwin pops up and shakes the ropes to cause Mabel to fall off (and he does hit the mat hard). He quickly scoots over and, without putting any pressure on Mabel's shoulders at all, hooks the leg, puts his hand on the bottom rope and just kind of sits there while the ref' counts to three and Mabel tries to make it look like he's actually struggling to break free without lifting his shoulder off the mat. In the end he just looked like an overweight walrus. I'm a fan of cheating spots like that when it looks like the guy is ACTUALLY using the ropes for leverage. This wasn't one of those times.

Owen Hart v Tatanka (King of the Ring 1st Round Match)

This starts out a little weird, with Tatanka - the babyface - jumping Owen - the heel - before the bell and laying into him briefly before slowing it down with a headlock. And he stands there and doesn't do anything with it. I can't say I've watched a ton of Tatanka matches recently, but surely he has some better stuff to kill time with than THAT (cool spot where Owen throws him high over the top and he lands on his feet, though)? Owen eventually takes over and things become a little more interesting. Owen's a guy that I've basically been apathetic towards my entire time as a wrestling fan. I can see that he's good and he does lots of things well and he's involved in a bunch of matches I like/really like...but I've never had much of an opinion either way. Fuck if I know why, but this solid-if-totally-unspectacular match sort of got me excited about watching a stack of Owen Hart matches for this project. I mean, this isn't a match anybody needs to go out of their way to see, and it's not even an Owen performance that stands out from the million performances I've seen from him, but for some reason, for the first time ever, I actually feel like I give a shit about Owen Hart. At some point Tatanka does his warpath Hulk-Up thing and I dig how he throws these overhand tomahawk strikes rather than regular punches. He also plants Owen right on his head with a DDT that had Art Donovan marking out. Ultimately forgettable match, but if it winds up making me an honest to goodness Owen Hart fan then...then I'll still not be sure why.

123 Kid v Jeff Jarrett (King of the Ring 1st Round Match)

Man, Waltman might be the second best guy in the company in '94 (I wouldn't call myself a huge Bret Hart fan, but I'd say he was pretty unfuckwithable as the best guy in the company in '94 and I can't see me changing my mind on that any time soon). He isn't quite fucking with a Rey Mysterio, but his timing is great, has awesome and varied hope spots, takes monster bumps, has a ton of great looking kicks, and generally comes across as a dude you want to root for. People often point to the Owen match later in the show as an example of a great sub-5 minute match, but this was pretty fucking choice in its own right. Kid comes out at the start in a karate stance so Jarrett bails and ends up dragging him out to the floor. From there he wails on him while Kid peppers in his hope spots. Jarrett hits a slingshot suplex, Kid replies with a victory roll. Most of Kid's openings actually come from Jarrett missing something of his own and he's really good at trying to "seize the opportunity." Awesome spot where Kid charges into the corner and Jarrett kicks him in the back of the leg so Kid takes a fucking Psicosis corner bump and lands right on his neck. Finish is also cool, as Jarrett spots his opening (with Kid selling the leg) and goes for the figure-four, but takes his sweet time and gets rolled up for three. Post-match he hits 3 piledrivers and storms off, and I wish these guys wrestled in Memphis because that would RULE.

Bret Hart v Diesel (WWF Title Match)

So I really like the Royal Rumble '95 match between these two. I really dislike the Survivor Series match from later that year. Diesel was good in the former and sucked for large parts of the latter. I hadn't seen this, which I think is their first televised match together, in years, but it's definitely closer to the Rumble match than the Survivor Series one. Diesel is capable enough here and brings enough to the table that I'd say he was "fine" (although he starts to gas pretty noticeably towards the end), but this is a total Bret show/Bret formula and I thought it turned out to be a Hell of a match. They use the first few minutes to establish the roles you'll have seen in a hundred Bret v huge guy matches. Diesel's inexperienced but he's HUGE and already gave Bret a monster Jackknife on a previous episode of RAW, so Bret wants to avoid that happening again. Bret needs to stick and move until he can create an opening; he's the technician and he doesn't intend to go toe to toe with the big guy (okay, so the backstory's different, but it's the same "Bret v Big Guy Psychology" in the end). When he eventually takes over he goes to the leg, and it's all pretty much Bret101. Not a knock, it just is what it is. They do a slow transition into Diesel's control segment, first by having Shawn catch Bret with a GREAT cheapshot (Shawn is awesome as Diesel's douchebag second in this). That leads to Anvil chasing him all around the ring in a cool cat-and-mouse segment, culminating with Diesel dismissively sidestepping an attempted plancha to take over. Nash is fine in control, working bearhug spots, leaving Bret open for more Michaels's pretty standard stuff, but it's effective enough. Still, the whole stretch run is what puts this over the top. Maybe it's just because I haven't watched any WWF (or Bret Hart) main events from around this time in ages and I'm struggling to remember if most of them were built like this, but it was a really fucking good finishing run..."epic", even. Bret being up in a Canadian backbreaker and slowly wriggling free, turning himself around and throwing on a sleeper, all while practically scaling Diesel's body, was a great catalyst for a comeback. The heat for everything is through the roof, Bret's still getting nearfalls off of most of his signature comeback stuff, he takes his crazy turnbuckle bump (dude is one of the best turnbuckle bumpers ever. Slaughter's signature bump is still the gold standard, but Bret running full speed into the corner and crashing chest-first into the buckle is right up there with any other signature corner bump ever), and Michaels just HURLS himself into a ridiculous guardrail bump off a punch (he's up on the apron acting like a jackass again). Finish is whatever, but if you took the best parts of this, the best parts of the Rumble match and the best parts of the Survivor Series match (an actual finish being one of them) and stick them all together, you've got some really great shit. Definitely the best match I've watched so far.

Razor Ramon v IRS (King of the Ring Semi-Final Match)

Well this wasn't very good. I like a bunch of Scott Hall/Razor Ramon matches and Rotunda has generally always been one of those "solid hand" type guys, but this was basically 7 minutes of nothing with a few worthwhile spots thrown in and then a finish that just kinda happened. At least Irwin does a "feet on the ropes for leverage" spot that could plausibly give you leverage this time. I don't know if I could go as far as to say this was disappointing, because I wasn't expecting anything all that great anyway, but both guys had better first round matches and it's not like those were blowaway or anything, either.

Owen Hart v 123 Kid (King of the Ring Semi-Final Match)

Totally great sprint. You tend to find a lot of the people championing Owen as a superworker pointing to this match as "evidence" (even if it's only about 4 minutes long). I always kind of brushed it off as hyperbole, but it really is a cracking little match. Don't think it provides any more evidence for Owen as a superworker than it does for Waltman, but that's beside the point. Owen's baseball slide as Kid is about to get in the ring looked CRAZY. It wasn't quite on the level of that one Nogami took on the New Japan 80s set, but it was ridiculous all the same. They manage to cram a ton of shit into this and they're moving through it all pretty quickly, but I was surprised at how everything they did still came across as being as big as it aught to. The spot where Kid tries a spinning wheel kick and Owen catches him and PLANTS him with a German was especially fucking awesome. Owen just yanks him out the air and Kid's feet barely touch the floor as Owen is setting it up, so it looked like a really impressive strength spot. NASTY powerbomb straight into the Sharpshooter for the finish looked boss, too. I think I had this in the bottom spot on my Greatest WWF/E Match Ever ballot for the Smarkschoice poll. I didn't really remember much about it going into the re-watch, but I can see why I stuck it on there when I did.

The Headshrinkers v Yokozuna & Crush (WWF Tag Team Titles Match)

Man, how about THIS for a fuckin' Yokozuna bump highlight reel? He seriously takes like 5 awesome obese guy bumps in this one match. He does his through the middle rope bump THREE fucking times and every one was GREAT. He also misses an avalanche in the corner and staggers out before falling flat on his face. I love how they start this out. Spots built around Samoan wrestlers having heads made of granite are the bomb and they do this bit where Crush and Yoko pair off with a Headshrinker and each give them a headbutt. Obviously neither guy is fazed, so each Headshrinker fires back with a headbutt of their own. Strangely, Yoko and Crush also seem to have rock hard noggins (Yoko actually IS Samoan, Crush is from Hawaiian wrestlers have hard heads as well?), so Fatu and Samu just headbutt them in the cheek bone instead (which is where Yoko takes his first bump to the floor. He staggers around all dizzy and shit after it as well which totally ruled). Back in and Yoko whips Samu into the corner, charges in and winds up getting drilled right under the chin with a superkick. Then Fatu compresses Crush's spine with a FUCKER of a piledriver. I mean God damn, Jerry Lawler must have stood and applauded if he was watching backstage. Crush and Yoko take over when Crush brings Fatu down with a drop toe-hold and Yoko murders him with an AWESOME twelve hundred pound leg drop. Do people ever talk about Yoko's leg drop? His middle rope bump gets praise - and rightfully so, because it's fucking ace - but I can't remember anybody talking up his leg drop. They should, though, because that's also fucking ace. Loved the spot after the hot tag where Samu is about to splash Crush off the top, but Fatu pushes Yoko into the ring post and it causes Samu to lose his balance and crotch himself on the turnbuckle. Gorilla on commentary says the ring moved four feet or some ridiculous Gorilla Monsoon shit like that. It obviously wasn't four feet, but Yoko has 78" thighs and weighs as much as a forklift, so you could buy him crashing into the post and actually causing the whole ring to shake (and he hit the post Samu was climbing next to, anyway). Like an elephant knocking a cat out of a tree. They run some Luger distraction bit at the end, but it leads to a cool finish where Samu, who's the legal man, gets clotheslined over the top by Crush, and as Crush starts jawing with Luger, Fatu sneaks in and cracks him with a superkick while Samu stops Yoko from making the save. I thought this was a blast. Gets about 12 minutes to flesh out, has a great shine segment with the Headshrinkers doing their thing and Yoko bumping like a loon, a great transition spot, a solid FIP section, and a fairly hot finishing run with one really sweet spot and a fine finish. Not a sleeper MOTYC or anything, but the kind of thing that makes a project like this totally worthwhile.

Owen Hart v Razor Ramon (King of the Ring Final)

Disappointing final. Razor hits a big back suplex off the top that looked pretty nasty and he busted out a sweet chokeslam, but other than that I'm only remembering a headlock segment before Owen takes over and works an abdominal stretch (where he's too busy jawing with the crowd while grabbing the top rope to notice the ref' looking right at him. Then the ref' just seems to ignore it so they can milk the cheating some more...made him look pretty stupid). Razor goes for the Razor's Edge and gets backdropped to the floor, at which point Anvil hits the scene and helps him up. And then clotheslines him and rolls him back in. Owen finishing it off with a nice top rope elbow while Savage is disgusted on commentary was a cool finish, at least.

Jerry Lawler v Roddy Piper

Piper's promo earlier in the show was spectacular. He just goes off on one and makes no sense at all. It was seriously fucking great. Lawler comes out to the ring staring at people with complete disdain. There's this one lady with a sign that says "Piper for President" and Lawler notices it, bursts out laughing, then shoots her a look of pure disgust. If this match happened ten years earlier it probably would've been tremendous. By '94 that ship had sailed, but it's not because either guy sucks (shit, Lawler is STILL awesome in 2011, never mind 1994). Lawler is my personal pick for greatest puncher in pro-wrestling history, and it's unsurprising that he throws a bunch of GREAT looking punches. Piper's punches aren't nearly as good, but what he has is a GREAT eye poke. He casually pokes Lawler in the eye after a flurry of punches and I honestly rewound it about 4 times. Best moment of the match (which is as good as any moment on the entire show) is Lawler peppering Piper with first class punches while Piper is propped up against the ropes. Piper is belligerent to the end, telling him to bring it, spitting on him, using the ropes to drag himself back to his feet. When he throws a big haymaker, Lawler goes down like a ton of bricks and the arena pops like it should. Not a great match, but it's something a fan of either guy can enjoy.

1994 WWF Project

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Is ADAM BOMB The Lost Great Worker of Forever?

Probably not, but I'll always have the memories.

Adam Bomb & Rick Martel v The Smoking Gunns (Superstars, 1/22/94 [taped 12/14/93])

One thing I'm looking forward to with this project is watching some Adam Bomb matches. I was an inexplicably huge mark for the guy back then and when I heard he teamed with Martel for a brief spell I got pretty excited. They're the perfect Battlebowl team. Hell, Inoki should book them for his next IGF show. Toss them in there with Mil Mascaras and Bastion Booger ( he even still alive) and we're good to go. This only went about 6 minutes but it was pretty great for the time it got. I haven't watched any mid-late 90s Martel in ages, but he still looked real good here, doing a cool spot where he leapfrogs Billy who's just made a blind tag, stops short of running into Bart like "Hey, it's cool man, I got no beef", before getting blindside dropkicked into a big powerslam. My excitement for an Adam Bomb/Rick Martel team seems justified as they do a great double clothesline spot where Martel is still on the apron and Bomb is in the ring. Adam also hits a big clothesline on the floor that looked nasty and pulls the top rope down as Billy runs into them as the transition into Billy playing FIP, and well that's an awesome spot that I'll never tire of. Finish is kinda crappy, but I'm glad I took 6 minutes to watch this. It gets the "Happy Camper" stamp.

Adam Bomb v 123 Kid (Superstars, 5/28/94)

This is a King of the Ring qualifier and a super cool big v small match that I seriously dug. Doesn't get a ton of time (like, 5-6 minutes), but they cram in a bunch of great looking shit. Bomb has some real nice power spots that Kid bumps huge off of. He launches him halfway across the ring with a hiptoss, drapes him over the top rope and yanks the rope back to send Kid flying, catches an attempted plancha and slams him on the floor, and cuts him off by KILLING him with a knee that hurls Kid about 5 feet in the air. Looked totally Yoshihiro Takayama-like. He also takes a spinning wheel kick right in the grill once Kid makes his comeback. Finish is some Kwang suckiness where Wippleman distracts the ref' for three years, but everything else ruled. This will be a totally worthwhile project if there's a bunch of Waltman Superstar matches like this scattered over the course of the year.

1994 WWF Project

1994 WWF Project

Yeah, time for another one.

I'm not really sure where the urge to pick this year from this company as a dorktastic project piece came from, but there it is. There's plenty of really good stuff from '94 WWF, though, like Bret's run, some really fun Shawn stuff, some good-very good stuff from the 123 Kid, etc. I just bought a bunch of footage from my crack dealer so hopefully I'll turn up some hidden gems (or whatever your metaphor of choice is) in addition to the things that have already been pimped and talked about in the past.

Same deal as the '92 WCW project (which I still plan on updating from time to time -- there always seems to be more interesting stuff turning up), although I doubt there'll be as many matches worth sticking on a "best of" list, so hopefully it'll be a bit easier to manage over time. I'm also gonna go by air dates rather than the dates on which stuff was taped and just update as I watch (so I'll leave off the no-brainers until I've seen them again).

  1. Bret Hart v Owen Hart (Wrestlemania X, 3/20/94)
  2. Bret Hart v Diesel (King of the Ring, 6/19/94)
  3. The Quebecers v Marty Jannetty & 123 Kid (RAW, 1/10/94)
  4. Owen Hart v 123 Kid (King of the Ring, 6/19/94)
  5. The Headshrinkers v Yokozuna & Crush (King of the Ring, 6/19/94)
  6. The Quebecers v Bret & Owen Hart (Royal Rumble, 1/22/94)
  7. The Quebecers v Razor Ramon & 123 Kid (RAW, 2/21/94)
  8. Marty Jannetty & 123 Kid v The Headshrinkers (Wrestlefest, 1/11/94)
  9. Randy Savage v Yokozuna (RAW, 2/28/94)
  10. Adam Bomb v 123 Kid (Superstars, 5/28/94)
  11. Bam Bam Bigelow v Tatanka (Royal Rumble, 1/22/94)
  12. Adam Bomb & Rick Martel v The Smoking Gunns (Superstars, 1/22/94)
  13. 123 Kid v Jeff Jarrett (King of the Ring, 6/19/94)
  14. Jerry Lawler v Roddy Piper (King of the Ring, 6/19/94)
  15. Marty Jannetty v Johnny Polo (RAW, 1/31/94)
  16. Randy Savage v IRS (RAW, 1/17/94)
  17. Marty Jannetty v IRS (RAW, 2/7/94)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

2011 Needs More FAT Guys

Dick Togo v HARASHIMA (DDT, 2/27/11)

Thought this was pretty badass, even if it did have its problems. Dick Togo was not one of those problems, however. Dick Togo is king and this was another really good Togo show. HARASHIMA winds up kicking the ring post early on and Dick goes to work on the leg, and I was surprised at how much I dug HARASHIMA's selling of it. He jumps over the top rope onto the apron to do a springboard, but as he lands on the apron he grabs the knee like it's still bothering him, and there's another spot where he whips Togo into the corner and does some corner running junior heavyweight stock spot, but he makes sure to slow the "run" down and at least sell the idea that the leg is giving him bother. He doesn't run a million miles an hour like there's nothing wrong and then start clutching his leg like he's just been shot directly afterwards. I hate it when guys do that. He gets his spots in, but he's at least selling the leg fairly well while doing it. But then he does some thing where he knees Togo in the head with the bad knee and that's pretty much the end of him winning me over with the selling. They eventually move past the leg work (which I don't really mind, because Togo working it over in the first place felt like a "seizing the opportunity" thing rather than blatant time-killing) and build towards the finish. There's some really nifty shit down the stretch, like Togo snatching HARASHIMA straight out the air into the crossface. Togo is really awesome at constantly going back to the crossface; he's like a Doberman that refuses to let go of a piece of steak, and the spinning headscissors directly into the crossface spot was fucking SWANK. HARASHIMA's "choked out" face at the end got him back on my good side, too (since I'm sure he was bothered about being on some drunken idiot's shit list). Not on the level of the Honda match, but it's another really good Togo performance (and match).

Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi v Ryoto Hama & Manabu Soya (BJW, 4/28/11)

Well shit, I was SHOCKED at how much I liked this. I mean, I had seen enough guys whose opinions I actually take seriously pimping it, so I expected to enjoy it going in...but not as much as I did. HAMA! God damn he was awesome in this. Dude must weigh about 900 pounds and he looks like Taylor Wiley (aka Teila Tuli of "Gerard Gordeau punted my face through my head at UFC 1" fame) if Taylor Wily had a diet consisting entirely of gravy-coated livermush. He is FAT. He's also an All Japan invader so he's booed mercilessly, and he just soaks it up and continues to use his ginormous girth to crush livers and punch people in the head. If a morbidly obese guy walking around flattening a couple of roid heads and glowing with self-satisfaction while a crowd boo him silly isn't your thing, you can go eat sandpaper because we will never be friends. He does a rolling senton, sits on Sekimoto's chest to counter a sunset flip (which looked as chest-crushing as that spot should when a fat guy is doing it), busts out a Vader Bomb that I totally bit on as the finish, throws big Vader-like soup bones in the corner, and best of all stands and laughs when someone tries to shoulderblock him. There's a great spot where Okabayashi comes in off the hot tag and Hama just creams him in 2 seconds flat. If there's a better Ryoto Hama performance out there then I really need to see it. Everybody else was good too, though. Sekimoto has bulked up even more since I last saw him and almost has no neck. His deadlift German suplex still looks kind of slow (although it's an impressive power spot, no doubt) and he has one strike exchange with Soya at the start that was goofy and stupid and pointless, but otherwise I thought he was pretty great. The initial strike exchange was suitably erased from my memory thanks to the fat guy and a later strike exchange that was waaaay better, anyway. Soya probably could've assholed it up a bit more, but he was good too, and Okabayashi was right there with Sekimoto from the home team. His top rope splash looked AWESOME, there's a great spot where he comes out of nowhere to spear Soya and allow Sekimoto to powerbomb Hama from the middle rope (which was as cool as it sounds), and his exchanges with the fat guy were always a ton of fun (he tries to put him in a torture rack at one point!). Finishing stretch was loaded with nearfalls, but I don't think they overdone it thanks to how well they paced everything. Just a Hell of a match that I honestly fucking loved.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

MORE 2011 Wrestling?!?!

I might even be able to scrape together a top 20 now...maybe.

The Miz v John Morrison (WWE RAW, 1/3/11)

The stuff pre-commercial break was fine, even if it didn't do a great deal for me. Morrison's dive off the big 'W' sign was pretty cool and I liked Riley constantly trying to stick his nose in, but I thought Morrison's expression of ANGER and DISTASTE after he takes Riley out was pretty hilarious, as was Miz's scaredy face. Morrison is a ladyboy that jumps off of stuff onto other stuff; you're not scared of that and you're fooling nobody. Still, things picked up post-commercial and got real good. Miz hitting a string of big moves and saying "What do I have to do...what do I have to do" after every Morrison kickout felt really goofy to me, but it did make for a nice in-match story. Morrison's bump off the missed Starship Pain through the table was fucking crazy. I was surprised he managed to even DO the move from where he was standing, let alone take the bump. I wasn't sure what to expect from this since I don't really care for either guy (although Miz has definitely grown on me), but it was good stuff and probably one of the better WWE TV matches of the year.

Koji Kanemoto v Hayato Jr. Fujita (New Japan, 5/26/11)

This has turned into one of the most reliable match-ups in wrestling over the last couple years. I like their '09 J-Cup and BOSJ match from last year more, but this was still what you want out of these guys. Follows the same pattern as their other matches -- they're pissed off at this stinking world and they take it out on the other guy by kicking them real hard. Fujita's apron running punt to the guy on the floor spot always looks brutal, and it did again here, but I thought it was even better this time because he started clutching his foot like he'd just kicked a door. I know this for a fact, because I'm a guy that broke his foot two days ago because he kicked a door (like a fucking idiot). There's a couple really amazing counters in this as well. Hayato throws a side kick and Kanemoto catches his leg, so Hayato goes to enziguiri him, but Kanemoto grabs that leg as well and instantly turns it into a dragon screw while Hayato is still in mid-air. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before and it looked bossy as Hell. Kanemoto breaking a guillotine choke by deadlifting Hayato and grabbing an ankle lock was pretty great, too. These are also two guys that can bust out a tired and generally shitty trope of current day wrestling like the super stiff strike exchange and actually make it good. I mean, shit, if that isn't worthy of multiple snowflakes then what is?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

FINALLY...I get my Hands on Some 2011 Finlay

Fit Finlay v Sami Callihan (EVOLVE, 7/26/11)

This. Was fucking great. I had really high expectations for it and it totally lived up to them. God damn Finlay is the fucking best. His WWE revival is one of my favourite runs in wrestling history, and I honestly thought this was fucking with the best stuff from his incredible 2006. Story of the match is basically Callihan trying to step up to the plate and prove he's capable of hanging with The Man. In the end, Finlay respects him for it and gives him his props, but he sure as shit makes him earn it first, stretching him all over the place (some of the leg submissions looked super nasty) and generally beating the tar out of him. The very first spot of the match might have been the best of the whole match, as Callihan tries to come out like a whippet and Finlay just shuts him down by DRILLING him in the face with a forearm. "Do you know who the fuck I am?" There were points of this where it felt like a pro-wrestler showing up to a bar fight. Don't bring a knife to a gun fight, don't bring a death valley driver to a bar fight. Wield the knife properly and you'll do some damage, but in the end, the shotgun always wins. Callihan's chops are nasty and a few of them land right on the throat (Finlay's post-match raspy voice putting them over was awesome), but knife-edge chops are pro-wrestling. Headbutting someone on the bridge of the nose is a bar fight move. Guess who comes out worse? Finlay puts a stop to a flurry of chops by just picking Callihan up, sitting him on the top rope and shoving him out to the floor. Callihan wants to go strike for strike "like men", but Finlay responds by shouting "How can we fight like men when I'm the only man here?" (he actually said that word for word, and yes, it was as great as you'd think) and kicks him right in the kneecap. Callihan tries to hit a baseball slide at a couple points. But that's pro-wrestling and this is a bar fight, so Finlay just catches him and chucks him into the guardrail. Callihan goes for a tope, but Finlay casually sidesteps it and Callihan careens into the guardrail throat-first. "Tope suidica? In a BAR fight? Does not compute." Finish is awesome, too. Callihan is on his last legs, but he's defiant to the end and refuses to stay down after a Celtic Cross. Finlay gives him another, but Callihan is still breathing. He knows he's fucked, but he won't go quietly and flips him the bird, so Finlay picks him up and plants him with a tombstone. Just a tremendous match.

Callihan gets a ton of hate in some places, but I'm honestly not seeing why. His facial expressions are pretty hammy, sure (although this is a guy who wrestles on the same indy circuit as Davey Richards), and this IS probably a career match, so it's not fair to expect something as good every time out, but he was still great in it. Take Finlay out and stick someone else in and you don't get something nearly as special (Dave seriously looked like one of the best in the world here), but Sami is clearly holding up his end perfectly well, eats a HUGE ass stomping, fires back with plenty of nasty looking shit, and best of all punches Finlay directly in the fucking teeth (THAT spot was tremendous). Feel like I should watch some more of the guy and it's just the hardcore indy nuts spewing bullshit. Anyways, strong MOTYC and I need to get my hands on more Finlay ASAP. What a fucking king.

Monday, 5 September 2011

So I Actually Watched Some Wrestling From 2011

Virus v Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 6/7/11)

I'll probably only watch another 10 non-WWE matches this year, but I see this and get the sense I could watch a hundred and not find anything better than it. This was terrific. Virus used to wrestle in the minis division as Damiancito El Guerrero and he had that match with Cicloncito Ramirez that's the best fucking match ever. That was 14 years ago. And he STILL rules it like an absolute king. The first caida matwork isn't quite up there with the best IWRG grappling, but it was all good-really good stuff. Third caida is what propels this into the stratosphere, though. Just tonnes of great moments and the finishing stretch is as dramatic as any lucha finishing stretch I've seen in the last 10 years. There's one woman who looks to be in her 20s in the front row completely losing her shit. At one point the camera pans to her and it looks like she just had a heart attack. Not sure what my favourite part was. Virus' dive was truly spectacular in a totally chest-crushing sort of way and served as the *perfect* catalyst for his comeback, but the chop exchange that ends with Virus "winding up" his right arm for a big chop only to CRACK Maya right in the grill with his left fist was TOO fucking great. And I have no idea what you'd even call that finish, but it looked amazing.

Dick Togo v Antonio Honda (DDT, 1/30/11)

This was seriously fantastic, and if I actually bother to watch any more matches from Japan this year I'll be shocked if anything manages to top it. Togo is 6 months shy of retirement here and he is totally the Edwin van der Sar of wrestling. Van der Sar retired from football/soccer at the age of 40, and he went out as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, arguably as good as he had ever been. Togo goes out at the age of 42, at a time where he looks like an honest to goodness best in the world candidate. I can't say I've ever seen Antonio Honda before, but a quick check tells me he's normally a comedy wrestler. Well fuck that because on this night he tosses that shit out the window and punches Dick Togo right in the fucking face. Togo is the star here, but Honda absolutely holds his own and looked great in the process (although for all I know he could be good in general). Honda comes out the blocks and zeroes in on Togo's arm, cranking on a hammerlock, yanking him down to the mat, refusing to let him get any breathing space. Togo's selling, especially the way he screams in pain any time Honda torques on a hold, is really awesome. He tries to go for the Pedigree early on and can't hook it with the bad arm, so Honda reverses it. He does that spot three times over the course of the match before eventually succeeding (and that's not until we're about 20 minutes in). At the ten minute mark Honda goes for a tope and winds up getting his forehead cut open, so Togo rams his head into the post and starts stomping on the cut. Honda's comeback is AMAZING. Togo's repeatedly blasting his head off the turnbuckle and Honda goes one hundred fucking percent Jerry Lawler on him, dropping the strap and unloading with a huge flurry of punches. Over the course of the second half of the match I lost count of the number of straight up AWESOME punches. I mean my God this was some Lawler/Dundee shit right. Phil Schneider talked about this a few months back and already made a "Mid South Coliseum main event" comparison, so I feel pretty cheap busting out the Lawler/Dundee line, but really, it might be the closest thing to a classic Memphis brawl that I've ever seen in Japan and if YOU'VE seen something like Lawler/Dundee or Lawler/Dutch, YOU will instantly be giddified at the similarities. The double knock down spot is just out of this world great. How does a match that's happening in non-FUTEN finisher overkill current Japanese wrestling manage to get a fucking PUNCH over as a legit nearfall? Togo is the fucking greatest. I would give this twelve stars.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Yoshihiro Takayama v KENTA (NOAH, 6/27/04)

This was spectacularly violent. Takayama offers up a handshake at the start and KENTA slaps his hand away like a little prick, so Tak just fucking KILLS him. It's not a Tenryu-like hurricane of rage and brutality with the pissed off facial expressions; Takayama doesn't look any more pissed off than he usually does, in fact he seems perfectly calm, but that "fuck a handshake" bullshit is straight up mockery and he's having none of it. He knees him clean in the face, kicks him ridiculously hard in the solar plexus, punches him in the jaw, and best of all he just hoists him above his head and throws him out to the floor (and KENTA's head really smacks the guardrail when he lands). KENTA is a guy I don't really care for at this point, but as a piss and vinegar junior punching above his weight against the big lumpy dudes, he's pretty unimpeachable. He lands a bunch of super nasty looking shots in this, almost from a clinching position, and will full throttle punt someone in a body part. Not having to sell (then shrug off, then sell again, then shrug off again, rinse repeat) a leg injury and only worry about getting cracked in the teeth also works wonders for him. Takayama's selling in return is some GREAT shit. He eats an elbow to the face early on and immediately responds by caving KENTA's head in, but as the match goes on, the more shots he gets hit with the slower he is to respond in kind. It might seem redundant to say something like "he sells each strike like it actually hurts", since that's kind of the point of pro-wrestling in the first place, but there's so much crappy no-selling of stiff strikes in current day puro that it's honestly worth mentioning when someone actually sells it WELL. And sweet Jesus does that final knee look horrific. This is a match dynamic that can be awesome when it's done right. THIS was done right.

Yoshihiro Takayama v KENTA (NOAH, 1/15/11)

This was fucking crazy, too. It's just as stiff, but it might be even more harrowing since Takayama's an honest to goodness stroke victim. His face is pretty much a wreck at this point in his career; it honestly looks like someone stuck their hands in putty and made random shapes around two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Then gave him it and told him to wear it as his face. He eats a bunch of sick strikes and takes a double stomp from the top rope to the floor that looked totally ribcage-shattering. There's points where he sort of stumbles around with this "Why am I even doing this? I should've retired and opened a fucking restaurant as soon as Don Frye punched me in the nose" look on his face and I'm thinking "Aw man, someone do the F.A.S.T Test, quick." On offence he is what you expect -- just a mean motherfucker that'll maul you if he has an opening. He winds up bleeding hardway after cracking KENTA with a total bar fight headbutt, and there's a spot later on where it looks like he's set to throw another one only to bring KENTA's head down and obliterate him with a knee. Then they top it off by shoot punching each other DEAD in the fuggin' face. Definitely my favourite match from Japan this year. The dynamic is the same as the '04 match, but KENTA takes more of this while Tak spends some time trying not to keel over and die. There's a couple parts where Tak has to stand waiting on KENTA doing a springboard or some corner running spot, but everything leads to something brutal and I guess I can buy a guy with 3 braincells standing around looking confused for a few seconds. I'll honestly be surprised if he retires in one piece, though.