Friday, 29 November 2013

And Still Watching 80s Lucha

El Faraón, Herodes & Mocho Cota v Lizmark, Ringo Mendoza & Tony Salazar (2/24/84)

So the rudo unit here is fucking awesome. I've already lumped a ton of praise on Cota, and he deserves all that and more, but Herodes is another guy that's just great. He's a short, tubby little bruiser, and his M.O. in this match is to kick the shit out of people. And he's good at it. I'm not really sure if there's a main match-up here that's setting up a singles match down the line, but if there is then I'll assume it's between Herodes and Salazar, if for no reason other than the fact they're the two that wind up bleeding everywhere and drinking each other's blood. First ten minutes are literally all rudos. Tecnicos get nothing. Shit, only reason the match even goes to a third caida is because the rudos get DQd in the second for gang mauling Salazar so bad. It looked like they were legit trying to kick him to death. Tecnico comeback is great, and one of my favourite things about lucha trios brawling like this is the way you can instantly tell when the big comeback is on. There are times where the tecnicos fight back and you'll be able to tell by the rudos' demeanour that they're not ready to let go just yet. When the switch is flicked and it's time for some real comeuppance, you just FEEL it. And the crowd do, too. Herodes being punted in the balls at the end was exactly the kind of receipt someone like that deserves. This ruled.

Solar, Ultraman & Super Astro v Sergio El Hermoso, Bello Greco & Rudy Reyna (2/26/84)

This was a ton of fun, like a house show version of your greatest southern US tags where everybody knows how to work with everybody else and there's a million and one things they can all do together to send a crowd home happy. Loved all of the exoticos' shtick in this. Reyna and Astro have an awesome exchange at the start where Astro does a bunch of super quick nip-ups. When Reyna tries one he messes it up and kind of flops like a seal, so he just throws his hand up like "fuck this" and tags straight out. Some of the sequences these guys are doing are exactly the sort of sequences fans of the MX and RnRs would dig the hell out of, so in that respect this is another match I could see non-lucha fans really liking. This also has a totally incredible Super Astro dive, and that's the kind of thing anybody can get behind. Halfway through I was hoping Hermoso would bust out his awesome armdrag bumps that he did on the New Japan set, then it gets to the third caida and he takes like five of them in a row. On a set full of piss and blood and guts, this is probably the most straight up fun that you'll get. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

More 80s Lucha (Mocho Cota!!!)

Mocho Cota v Americo Rocca (2/3/84)

Thought this was a few levels below the first match (which really came out of nowhere as a total slam dunk to me personally), but it was still pretty fuggin' great. I really wish we had a truckload of Mocho Cota footage, because the guy is just fantastic. His boots have a symbol on them that looks like a hand with missing fingers, which, y'know, is awesome. First caida has a bunch of quality matwork again. There's one bit where Rocca has Cota in an Indian Deathlock and repeatedly slams the back of his head into the mat, and Cota sells it like someone assaulted him with a rolling pin. Cota gets the better of Rocca in one exchange and musses up his hair like a condescending jackass, and if I was Rocca I'd want to slap him silly as well. The finish to the fall is legitimately the best roll-up spot I've ever seen. Really, it's breathtaking. Cota comes out strong in the second caida like he did in the first match, but it doesn't feel quite as ruthless and one-sided an asswhipping this time. He has these awesome overhand armdrags where he really whips Rocca over, and Rocca takes great bumps off of every one of them. They all look super impactful and way more painful than most armdrags I've ever seen. Cota's submission to take the second fall is still outrageous and someone should absolutely steal it (Punk probably picked this set up...). Third caida is really short, and in that sense it kind of disappointed me, but Cota laughing in Rocca's face in the post-match was just the greatest bit of douchebaggery. This is my working #6 right now after 13 matches. This match, this good...#6. How loaded is this set?

Atlantis & Lizmark v El Egipcio & El Faraón (2/17/84)

I'm not really sure what the pre-match was all about, but it had the Infernales starting shit with Faraon and Egipcio and ended with MS-1 taking an MS-1 face first bump into the ring post. Then Lizmark jumps in the ring and Faraon fucking floors him with a right hook. I wasn't hugely into this, but it had its moments. Faraon and Egipcio are pretty fun ruffians in this; they get a chance to brawl a bit and both guys will tumble around for the technicos. Lizmark hits an awesome springboard armdrag where he gets major height on the springboard part. Atlantis was fine but not quite the Atlantis that's one of the all-time great technicos just yet. Faraon rips off Lizmark's mask post-match (after he'd already kneed him in the stones) and chucks it away, and there's at least one guy in the crowd that I thought was going to jump the ring. I'm interested in seeing more Faraon, because the only memory I really have of him is the Pirata Morgan hair match where Pirata drinks his blood. I mean, that was a hell of a match, but it's mostly Pirata that I remember from it.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rush, Thunder & Maximo v Negro Casas, Polvora & Mr. Aguila (CMLL, 6/7/13)

I thought this had a lot of pedestrian brawling between four guys, interspersed with some AMAZING brawling from two guys. Casas and Rush, shockingly enough, being the two that brought the goods. Natural comparison would be to the Panther/Casas trios matches where it was those two hating each other to death while everybody else could've provided white noise and it still would've been worth watching for Panther/Casas (I basically wrote about a match exactly like that not long ago). This is wholly worth watching for Casas/Rush, and I absolutely cannot wait to see them kick the shit out of each other some more. At one point Rush comes flying into camera shot and dropkicks Casas REALLY hard right in the face, so Casas later gets Rush in the corner and starts jumping on his head. Rush throws one of the nastiest headbutts I've ever seen and I'm not sure how Casas' nose never got spread across his face. I'd never seen Thunder before. He's pretty huge and imposing and makes his pecs dance a whole lot, like Ahmed Johnson under a mask (although significantly less black). He also seemed pretty slow and cumbersome at first, but then he went a did a cool leaping rana and hit a truly awesome somersault plancha so maybe I should just shut my fucking mouth. He does the rote "I'll puff my chest out while you slap it, then you puff your chest out and I'll slap that, and neither of us will budge because we're MEN" bit with Aguila, but instead of slapping Aguila back he fucking potatoes him clean in the jaw with a punch that looked super reckless and crowbar-y. Basically he struck me as the best possible masked Sid Justice. Not sure that's a compliment and/or makes me want to watch more of him, but I at least find myself fascinated. Still this is 98% Casas and Rush and my body is ready for the next instalment.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Another 80s Lucha Entry

Satanico v Atlantis (1984)

Basically the Satanico show, and a hell of a show it was. Atlantis is fine enough here, but it's Satanico that makes just about everything. At points Atlantis looks...not lost, but he'll take Satanico down and rather than follow up on it he'll kind of look to the crowd for approval and pump his fists like he's about to take care of shit. It's "getting fired up," but then he never actually, like, gets fired up. On the flipside, Satanico just revels in the fact he's being booed and hissed at for brutalising a rookie. He needs no one's approval. There's one great visual of him slicking his hair back with an amazing no-fucks-given grin while everybody around him jeers. I mean, god damn is Satanico good at the pro-wrestling. He spends the first caida bumping and rolling around, then in the segunda he fights out of an octopus stretch by elbowing Atlantis in the balls, and from that point on it becomes a shitkicking. Then it becomes a massacre. He tears Atlantis' mask, bites him in the head, spits his blood; just smashes the living shit out of him, and like a true sadist, clearly loves what he's doing. When Atlantis makes his comeback he bites Satanico right back (as in, literally bites him right back), and it looks like Satanico blades straight after it, which was pretty cool in a morbid sort of way. Usually the blading comes after a post shot or something, then comes the forehead biting. This time it was the forehead biting that drew blood in the first place. Satanico continues to rule it into the post-match, feigning a show of respect before punching Atlantis in the chin. This was really great, and it's pretty much all because of Satanico.

Mocho Cota v Americo Rocca (1/27/84)

So Manuel Cota only has three fingers on his right hand (hence, Mocho/Cripple...yeah). I don't know what happened to them, but I like to think he lost them fighting a bear. I also like to think that bear later became a rug in his living room. Cota was incredible in this, and I thought it was a truly outstanding match. I could see non-lucha fans digging it a bunch as well, because it has plenty of American/Japanese wrestling aspects to it. First caida matwork was awesome, everything fought for and rugged and gritty. It's still very "lucha," but I can't see someone that ordinarily doesn't like lucha matwork complaining about holds being given up too easily or any of it feeling cooperative. The close-ups of Cota are really cool, because you always see him grimacing or visibly straining to gain position. Second caida is where things become a bit more "American." Cota zeroes in on Rocca's arm, and it becomes a focus of the rest of the match. It's rare that that's the case in lucha, which is another thing that sometimes turns people off ("the limb work never went anywhere"), but Cota really goes after it and Rocca sells it like it means something. Cota takes him down in really nasty ways, like kind of headbutting him in the shoulder while driving him to the mat, then he twists and pulls the arm like he's trying to take it home with him. Rocca basically gets no offence in the second caida. Cota fucks him up good and proper, and the submission at the end had me thinking "what the fuck even WAS that?" Third fall keeps building and building, but Cota still goes after the arm when he gets the chance. His second also starts running subtle distraction spots so Cota can half choke Rocca, and as the match goes on the more obvious the cheating becomes. Cota fucking nukes Rocca in the face with a dropkick and I can't even tell you how glorious this dropkick was. Then he nukes him again with a tope and Rocca flies like fourteen miles up the ramp. It gets to a point where Cota is becoming frustrated at not being able to put Rocca away no matter what he tries, so when the ref' gets bumped you have a pretty good idea of what's coming. Finish isn't actually as blatant a screwjob as I was expecting, and I actually liked it a lot given how relatively subtle it was. Post-match isn't quit near-riot material, but the crowd are not happy one bit. Which means we get a rematch, which means I'm a happy boozehound. Seriously, this was tremendous, and even this soon into the set it feels like a top 20 lock.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Lucha Libre Month???? Probly.

Sangre Chicana v Ringo Mendoza (10/28/83)

And now for a totally different look at Sangre Chicana. Pretty sure this is the first time I've seen him in a title match setting (and the second time where he isn't bleeding and brawling all over the shop like a fucked up lunatic, after the Andre tag earlier on the disc). As a match I didn't think it was a real slam dunk - although it was really good - but there's still plenty of Chicana-isms present. Just about everything the guy does feels like a big deal, sort of like how Hashimoto makes even a stare down feel momentous. They do a bit where they both keep hold of an armdrag and end up on the floor, still with their arms hooked, and you get the sense that if Chicana were to fling a punch then and there things would deteriorate into a hurricane of blood and piss and vinegar real quick. Not that that would be a bad thing, of course. He's such a great seller, the way he kind of walks the line between overstated and just right to perfection. Mendoza's dive fake-out in the primera was really awesome. He run the ropes and Chicana expects the tope, so he hits the deck right away. Mendoza stops short and lies flat on the mat, then when Chicana jumps up on the apron (after he looks around and can't see Mendoza) he gets knocked back down with a dropkick, and that's followed up by a plancha. Ringo's struggle to reverse Chicana's stretch plum (or whatever) into a torture rack down the stretch was really fucking cool. Made the whole thing feel like a real gruelling contest. Could've done with a few more minutes at the end, but folks throwing money in the ring and the kids jumping in there with Chicana post-match is an awesome bit of 80s Mexican wrestling that went a ways to making up for it.

El Hijo del Santo & Atlantis v Fuerza Guerrera & Lobo Rubio (11/25/83)

Well this is a Fuerza match, so you know that even if it was total garbage I'd still find something about it that tickled me. It was not total garbage, however. It was way the fuck in the other direction. Fuerza hasn't really honed his douchebaggery into the razor sharp sword of shitheaded perfection quite yet, but he will still try and handshake his way out of a situation. Then of course he'll cheapshot you and I'll love it to death. He throws a few incredible punches in this, right under Santo's chin. This is mostly a technico showcase though, and it fucking ruled the earth. First caida is just loaded with awesome exchanges. The rudos are pretty much the perfect counterpoint to what Santo and Atlantis are doing, hurling themselves around, catching and flying into everything, etc. I think this is the first time I've seen Lobo Rubio, but he was great in this. I mean, in order for the technicos' stuff to look as good as it did, you need a good base, and Rubio was a GREAT base. Is there a more graceful wrestler in history than Santito? He has fourteen million headscissor variations, and there was one in the the first caida that might have been the most gorgeous headscissor I've ever seen. Then he rolls out these amazing armdrags that might've been the greatest armdrags of all time. All of Atlantis' stuff looked spectacular as well, and shit, maybe HE'S the most graceful wrestler in history. Fuerza and Rubio going all "fuck it" and taking the match down a darker path in the segunda is exactly what I wanted. Rubio chucking Santo out the ring down the stretch like he was taking a throw-in was fucking outrageous, and I'm surprised Santo's ACLs didn't snap like rubber bands then and there. The stereo dives at the end were as huge as you want them to be, too. Atlantis' tope suicida was exactly what you'd expect out of a move with "suicide" in its name. Total blast of a tag match.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Virus! Panther! Virus Again!

Virus v Blue Panther (CMLL, 5/12/13) - EPIC

So this is leading to a lengthy singles match between the two, right? Or even better, a lengthy singles feud where we get a bunch of lengthy singles matches and trios focused on said feud. Right? I don't even care if it doesn't go the Panther/Casas route of them stomping the absolute dogshit out of each other every time they match up; if they stick to doing this every time then I'll be completely content. I mean, this was pretty much everything you want in a ten minute Virus v Blue Panther primer. Whole match is more or less worked on the mat, and it ruled like you hoped it would. I get the standard criticisms of lucha. Most of them don't really bother me and the rest don't bother me at all. Some of those criticisms are actually things I find add to the charm of lucha in general. I hear the criticism that lucha matwork can look too "exhibitiony" and/or holds are given up too easily. Most people that like lucha have heard that criticism. It's like Dylan fans hearing non-Dylan fans say his voice is too nasaly and they can't understand what he's saying. I've managed to get people who don't like Dylan to listen to Blood on the Tracks, and they've wound up coming out of it saying it was really depressing and his voice was too nasaly. I've managed to get people who don't like lucha to watch IWRG matches that I love, and they've wound up coming out of it saying it felt too exhibitiony and holds were given up too easily. I understand that criticism of IWRG because there are absolutely matches where guys like Navarro and Solar will take turns at tying each other up, letting go, then seeing what the other guy can come back with. I actively enjoy that aspect of it, but I get why others don't, especially if you're not high on lucha (and, by extension, lucha matwork) in the first place. This wasn't that. This was two masters struggling for everything and giving no ground, and it was grade A fucking awesome. There's one bit where Panther is trying to lock in a Tapatia, but Virus just will not give up his arms. Panther then starts twisting the ankle so Virus rolls over to alleviate the pressure, and that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for a guy with as many holds in the holster as Panther. "Human chess match" is a cliché term, but if it applies to any match, it applies to this. And if this isn't the precursor to something bigger...

Virus, Puma & Misterioso Jr. v  Fuego, Hijo del Fantasma & Hombre Bala Jr. (CMLL, 5/19/13) - GOOD

Shockingly enough, Virus looked great yet again. Of everything I've watched so far, he's probably my frontrunner for Best in the World (or Best in the Mexico, because I doubt I'll watch much from anywhere else). The early exchange with Fuego was really good and picked up where the October '12 title match left off. I don't have much of an opinion on the technicos either way, but they all looked good here. Hombre Bala Jr. hits a killer tornillo in the third caida, Hijo del Fantasma takes out Puma and Misterioso Jr. with a sweet Dustin Rhodes-esque clothesline from the ramp into the ring, and Fuego's tope con hilo in the third was totally spectacular. But this was mostly about the rudos. I've mostly been talking about your Viruses and Panthers and Negro Casas' since I started going through this stuff, but CMLL has a ton of great supporting cast guys like Namajague and Puma. Puma was a really fun shithead in this. At one point he kicks the middle rope as Fantasma goes to springboard off it causing him to splat on his neck. Misterioso is in hyper dickhead mode and is all rudo posturing and douchebag behaviour. He pulls the top and middle ropes apart as Fantasma is about to run them, and that causes Fantasma to splat on his neck again, only this time on the ramp. For the finish he just decides fuck it and rips off Fantasma's mask. Then he puts the boots to him while Fantasma tries to cover up.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I Said I was Gonna get Caught up on 2013 CMLL, so I'm Getting Caught up on 2013 CMLL

Blue Panther, Averno & Shocker v Negro Navarro, Black Terry & Villano IV (CMLL, 4/7/13)

Panther/Navarro is everything you want out of Panther/Navarro in this very wrestling match. Their exchange in the first caida is really the highlight of the whole thing, the way they'll counter and roll through and counter again into nastier and nastier looking shit. It's a shame that there probably isn't going to be a lengthy singles match between the two, because it'd rule. For a fifty six year old man, Negro Navarro has such a genuine badass aura about him, like a balder Danny Trejo wielding Espectrinos rather than machetes. It must suck being the guy Navarro tries all of these medieval torture holds on. You think the Hart kids had it bad? Sheeeeit. I haven't seen any Black Terry in about a year and a half, but shockingly enough he still looked tremendous. He's sixty one years old at this point and he's probably been one of the ten best wrestlers on earth this decade (fuck, about five of those ten guys are in their fifties at least). Villano didn't do a ton on the mat, but he was spin kicking people in the lungs and rolling out super fast tubby guy armdrags. Shocker was, once again, pretty visibly the worst guy in the match. I'm beginning to wonder if he was ever all that good. I mean, I could say I'll go back and watch some 90s Shocker (because I watched a bunch of 00s Shocker over the last couple years, and he wasn't very good in any of it), but I really can't be bothered.

Virus, Puma & Namajague v Angel de Oro, Diamante & Valiente (CMLL, 4/30/13)

Man, Namajague had a rough couple months. First he loses the mask, then he loses his hair. The tag with Okamura against Cometa & Stuka was actually the first time I'd seen him, but I'd read enough pimping of him that my expectations were high. After that match and now this (still need to see the match with Cometa where he loses the locks), I can say they've been pretty well met. He never did it in this match, but in the tag there was this great spot where he went to kick Cometa in the gut, but Cometa caught his leg and pulled him forward, so Namajague wound up doing the splits, and while he was in that position Cometa just kneed him clean in the face. He's clearly a total bump freak of the highest order, and here he takes two AMAZING monkey flip bumps out of the corner where he gets like four seconds hang time. Honestly, I don't remember the last time a Japanese guy came in and took to lucha like this. Still, for all that, the Virus/Valiente section at the start was the highlight of the match. When are we going to get a singles match? Oro and Diamante do a bunch of neat rope-assisted armbrags in this, but they're at their most interesting when the rudos are mugging them. The technicos' stereo topes in the tercera was a pretty great spot, though. I'll take Virus v Valiente now, thanks.

Monday, 18 November 2013

2013 Lucha

Rey Hechicero v Charles Lucero (Monterrey, 8/4/13)

Well this was exceptional. Every time I've seen Hechicero over the last five or so years he's been really great. I haven't exactly followed current wrestling closely in a while, so maybe I just haven't read a ton about him, but he feels like one of the best wrestlers in the world that hardly anybody is talking about. Lucero is a guy I'm not even sure I've seen before. Luchawiki confirms what I thought about him - dude's old - and suggest he's primarily a Monterrey guy. I think I've watched less Monterrey in recent years than I've watched TNA, so that probably explains why I haven't seen much(any?) of him before (although Hechicero is mostly a Monterrey guy as well so who knows). Match is really an awesome blend of lucha maestros matwork (I guess Hechicero isn't really a maestro (as in, he's not that old), but the match is paced like that) and lucha title match build. First caida is supreme. Both guys just rip it up on the mat and there were about six holds that I'd never seen before. Lucero is slower and feels more like a Navarro type, whereas Hechicero is quicker and has a bit more snap to everything. In true grumpy old man fashion Lucero will get fed up and punch him in the dish. Second caida is like the calm before the storm that is the tercera, but Hechicero's submission at the end of it looked absolutely killer. Like most of your super high end lucha title matches, the third caida is what really pushes this into the upper tier. Everything builds really well, then Hechicero goes and brains himself by taking a fucking screwball headfirst bump into the front row off a missed tope. They run about fifteen replays, and every single angle makes it look insane (because it was). The doc is out trying to stick a neck brace on him while Lucero tries to go in for the kill, then HE goes and takes a nutso bump off the apron and the doc is ready to stop the whole thing before someone literally dies. The final submission is the kind of thing that makes you think, "yeah, that was a fucking lucha title match." The spot before it probably also broke every rib that Lucero had left. I won't watch a truckload of wrestling from this year, but even if I wound up watching everything, I can't imagine finding more than five matches better than this.

Virus, Cancerbero & Raziel v Magnus, Stigma & Starman (CMLL, 2/24/13)

I dug this a ton. Honestly, I thought the first caida here was up there with just about any opening caida that I've seen in a long time. I loved all three Cancerberos in this, but Virus especially looked incredible. His opening exchange with Stigma was really awesome, but he was great any time he was doing something, no matter who it was with. Stigma looked really crisp and can obviously go on the mat considering he was hanging with fucking Virus himself. I'll try and check out some more of his stuff from this year. Los Cancerberos were pretty awesome shitheads in the third caida, instigating a mugging then back-pedalling when it blew up in their faces. Virus gets into a slap exchange, then when he thinks it's going south he just waves his hands and leaves the ring like, "nope, this is not fun after all." Cancerbero gets caught in between Starman and Magnus on the ramp, and he has this great "okay, let's just be friends" reaction to it. It's like they're just waiting for the right moment to strike, then it presents itself and the niceties are thrown out the window like you and I and everybody else knew they would be. Virus is probably the best wrestler on the planet at this point in time.

Astral & Shockercito v Demus 3:16 & Pierrothito (CMLL, 3/29/13)

Well shit, maybe it's actually Demus who's the best wrestler on the planet at this point in time. If I'm going to sit and watch guys run through highspots in 2013 then the CMLL minis are the guys I want to sit and watch run through highspots, and this was a hell of a highspot showcase. At one point Shockercito gets monkey flipped onto Demus' shoulders where he then headscissors him to the floor, and it probably would've been the best spot of 2013 if Rey Hechicero hadn't torperdo'd himself into a fixed seat five months later. Demus was fucking outstanding as your rudo base here, though. Well, both rudos were great bases, but Demus was on a whole 'nother level (and not just as a base, either). He tears into Shockercito for being tiny, then later on he and Pierrothito literally chuck him all the way across the ring. When the technicos run into him and Demus doesn't budge, you can buy that. He's such a stocky little fucker that it's probably like running into a garage door, especially when you're a midget. He also bites Astral's fingers and nipples, which I guess is exactly the kind of offence you expect out of a guy that looks like Demus. The powerbomb he kills Astral with before the finish also looked horrific. This was just a ton of fun.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Blue Panther, Shocker & Mascara Dorada v Negro Casas, Mr. Niebla & Felino (CMLL, 2/12/13)

This was pretty much a complete two man show. Shocker and Niebla do literally nothing of note, and I don't actually think I've seen a single post-'99 Shocker match that he's been any good in. This is the first time I've seen Felino since he lost the mask and he looks like a rapist drummer in a hair metal band. He's dressed like something from an Eric Prydz parody video here. Dorada tries to take him over with a sunset flip at one point, so Felino blocks(counters?) it by wiping sweat from his armpit and rubbing it in Dorada's face. Which was different. To be fair, Dorada is really only there for a few moments of flash, and those moments do look really swanky. But fuck all that because this is about Negro Casas and Blue Panther. I'm a scumbag of the highest order and still haven't watched the hair match from last year, but everything they did in that feud was fucking awesome, and their exchanges in this take a page right out of that same book. Casas mugs him in the aisle and Panther ends up half hanging off the ramp while the guy sitting directly underneath has this great "what do I do? Do I help him?" look. At one point Panther is sparked out in the front row like some old geezer just took a stroke in the middle of a crowd of people. Casas also bites Panther multiple times. Panther has an armbar so Casas bites his fingers, then Panther does the corner fasewash bit and Casas starts biting Panther's thigh! Then he spits on him a bunch and it fucking ruled. Seriously, you could stick four other utterly useless guys in there (Shocker and Niebla weren't utterly useless as opposed to just...being...there) and this would still be worthwhile for Casas and Panther.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Some 2013 CMLL

Rush v El Terrible (CMLL, 1/22/13)

When did Rush get so good? I don't think I saw a single Rush match from last year, so maybe it was a 2012 thing and I just missed it, but he definitely hasn't been at this level in anything I've seen him in before. He was fucking awesome here. Terrible throws some really vicious looking strikes and brought a level of hatred to everything, but Rush was doing all that, ramping it up about seven more notches, and then doing a bunch of other great shit on top of it. I'm pretty sure Rush is a full time technico at this point in the year and Terrible is a full time rudo, but the crowd is almost entirely behind Terrible. It's not like a smark crowd turning on Cena, though. Terrible deliberately acts like a sympathetic rudo. And oh my Christ does Rush deliberately act like a complete cunt. There's a great bit where he pretends to take Terrible's head off and punt it into the crowd like a football. He's so good at making his comebacks with these amazing roid-raged spurts of violence, like repeatedly chucking Terrible head first into the ring barricade in a really nasty fashion. He also hits a screwball tope con hilo that would've taken a six year old's head off if there were no barriers around the front row. All of the slugfest spots looked killer, primarily because Terrible is at his best when he's throwing wild hooks, and Rush has a few incredible KO sells of potato shots. Stretch run got a bit your turn/my turn, and Tirantes is the WOAT pro-wrestling referee (well, prominent one, anyway. He's been around for like sixty eight years), but Terrible constantly putting his feet on the ropes during pins to a chorus of cheers was great. And if you're gonna do a dick kick finish then you really need to do it right. Terrible did it right.

Negro Casas v Valiente (CMLL, 2/4/13)

Thought this was a step down from Rush/Terrible, but well, Rush/Terrible feels like a real MOTYC to me, so that's a pretty high bar. This was still pretty great, though. First caida in this certainly had better matwork than the first caida of Rush/Terrible. Although the primera in Rush/Terrible was more about the hint of violence that everything carried as opposed to guys WORKING THE MAT. This didn't have the same kind of violent and hateful tone to it, but it wasn't supposed to. What it did have was two guys that can go on the mat, GOING on the mat. They kind of flub a spot and wind up tangled in the ropes, so Valiente grabs a leg and tries to hook an ankle lock while Casas tries to shake him off and scoot away. It was a minor moment, but it's the kind of thing two lesser guys wouldn't have been able to pull off. With most guys it would've looked like a flub. With these guys, it looked like a legit struggle. Casas will pretty much always have cool little bits like that in his matches, not necessarily in covering up for flubs, but by adding neat touches to otherwise routine things. There's another example in the tercera where Valiente hits one of those Lesnar-style double pwerbombs. Usually I hate that spot, because it's so obvious that the guy taking the move is cooperating because the guy doing it basically can't pull it off properly without his help (I think Lesnar is the only guy with freakish enough Hercules strength to make it look at least somewhat organic, and that was on Spike Dudley who weighs about fourteen pounds). After Valiente hits the initial powerbomb he holds on so he can cradle Casas. Casas then tries to pry open Valiente's grip, so there's at least a viable excuse for him holding onto Valiente as he's picked up for the second powerbomb. It's obviously still cooperative, but it's a cool touch that at least makes it easier to buy into. Casas works the leg briefly in the segunda, and even though it gets dropped after a few minutes it means you get Casas taunting Valiente to get back to his feet before kicking him in the knee again. He also drags him into the crowd and stomps a chair onto the knee, so it was worth it. Badass finish, too.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

And More 80s Lucha

Sangre Chicana v MS-1 (9/23/83)

Pretty much a masterpiece. I mean, this is what pro-wrestling is all about, right? Two guys that do not like each other putting something of value on the line (in this case, pride via hair) in a seedy, dimly-lit arena and proceeding to kick the living shit out of each other until one of them can physically no longer get up. In the end the ring mat is covered in blood and mucus and it looks like a slaughterhouse floor, and you think, "Did anybody REALLY win that? Was it all worth it?" Then you take one look at Sangre Chicana as MS-1 throws a bald bitchfit and you think, " was worth it." MS-1 jumps Chicana at the start and repeatedly rams his head into the edge of the ring mat, and if you've heard the stories about the canvases in Mexico then you can buy it as him ramming Chicana's head into a brick wall. Chicana is bleeding all over himself after thirty seconds and MS-1 just REVELS in it, like nothing in his life has filled him with this much joy. First caida is 100% MS-1. Chicana gets nothing. Not a thing. Heading into the segunda you're wondering if Chicana is going to be able to mount any sort of comeback whatsoever. Then he ducks a punch and fucking DRILLS MS-1 with a left hand, and the crowd just comes completely unglued. It's probably one of the best transition spots I've ever seen, and it leads directly to Chicana hitting this incredible tope that looks really reckless and desperate, which is exactly how a tope should look when it's being done by a guy that's lost so much blood he can barely stand. MS-1 gets split open from the edge of the ring apron, which is a great payback, and of course he starts bleeding everywhere himself. So by the final fall you've got blood staining everything. Some of the selling in the tercera is truly impeccable. Both guys look like they're on their last legs and having to dig deeper than they've ever had to dig before. Which is how it should be, really. Even something as simple as MS-1 staggering and falling as he tries to walk over to the corner; it's so simple and small, yet it adds so much. MS-1 goes for a double-underhook suplex and can't grip his own hands because they're so slick with blood, so he has to just grab Chicana's tights instead (credit to goodhelmet for spotting that one). He goes for a tope as Chicana is staggering around on the floor like a wino, but as he flies through the ropes Chicana manages to sidestep it and basically chuck him head-first into the front row, which is just about the greatest counter to a tope that you ever did see. There's a bit where Chicana is trying to slap some life into himself and appears to hit himself so hard that he almost knocks himself out again, which is something that would probably come off as a comedy spot in most matches, but in this there's nothing funny about it. And then the finish. I saw literally no give on the mat when MS-1 came off the top, and with the way he lands all awkward I'm wondering how he didn't wind up in a wheelchair (is he in a wheelchair nowadays? Estrada is so I see no reason to believe MS-1 isn't). Everybody should watch this. I get that lucha isn't a style everybody will enjoy, but this at least has elements that everybody can get behind. Even watch it for the performances of both guys. I mean, no match is going to hit the sweet spot with everybody, but I honestly don't remember reading or hearing anything but praise for this. There have been minor criticisms here and there and no match is perfect and all that, but the general sentiment that I've gotten has always been overwhelmingly positive. Maybe this feels fresher because it's a relatively "new" discovery (only really surfaced about eight years ago, I think) in a style of wrestling that not THAT many people talk about (it's basically a sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre) while your big All Japan matches like 6/9/95 and 6/3/94 have been talked about to death for almost twenty years. Shit, it DOES feel fresher, at least to me personally, which is kind of strange considering I've watched this more times since I first saw it than I have any of the big All Japan matches. But in general I think there's been so much discussion on All Japan over the years that a lot of people are actively looking for something new and fresh. Well, I guess people are always looking for something new and fresh. I'm not even sure what point I'm trying to get across now. Fuck it. Y'all should just watch this match because it's pretty much up there with anything ever and if you like pro-wrestling then you'll find something to like about this pro-wrestling match.

Sangre Chicana, La Fiera & Mocho Cota v MS-1, Satanico & Espectro Jr. (9/30/83)

This fucking ruled as well. MS-1 is pissed after losing his hair so he and his team just mug Chicana and pals before they've even stepped in the ring, and from that point on it pretty much never lets up once. Match is really one gigantic clusterfuck brawl, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Whole thing is wild and out of control, and a wild and out of control lucha trios match is one of my favourite things in wrestling. Everybody in this was fucking great, but Satanico might've been king of the mountain. He lays into everybody and goes on an absolute tear. The Infernales will isolate someone in the ring as the other two technicos (Chicana's squad are guys I normally think of as rudos as well, but within the context of this feud I guess they're technicos) frantically try and climb in, and Satanico is awesome as this enforcer that will boot them in the face to knock them back down to the floor. The technico comeback really fells like it's earned. A few times it looks like they've got a foothold, but it rarely lasts long and soon enough they're back eating ringposts again. When they do finally take over the crowd realise it, and the reaction is as great as it should be. Of course the return beatdown on the Infernales is everything you want it to be. At one point Fiera rips off Espectro's mask (which is a fucking belter, btw) and walks around with it like he's just scalped him. Chicana and Satanico then take turns punting each other in the dick, and well, if those two weren't already great enough they go and show you how you're supposed to sell getting punted in the dick. Even in the post-match Chicana looks like he's about to puke. This was pretty much a perfect follow up to the apuestas match.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Leono & Tigre Blanco v Bobby Zavala & Disturbo (CMLL, 1/1/13)

So the 80s lucha set kind of put me in the mood to get caught up on lucha from this year. I've watched practically no wrestling from 2013, but from what I've read CMLL has had a really good year with a bunch of really good stuff, so I wanted to check out most of the things that have been pimped and/or things that just plain interest me on paper. A couple days ago I started doing that. And I'm gonna try and keep doing it, like little intermissions, as I go through the 80s set.

This happened on the first day of the year so I figured it'd be the best place to start. The only one of the four that I know I've seen before is Tigre Blano, but I don't remember any sort of impression I got from him in the past. He was pretty terrific in this, though. His rapid fast ankle lock thing in the first caida was fucking spectacular. Like, I'm trying to come up with a list of guys that could do that as quickly and as smoothly as he did it in this match, and there aren't many coming to mind. His rolling headscissors over the top rope was really cool, too. The other three guys absolutely held up their end in this as well. Disturbo hits an INSANE backbreaker in the segunda that I expected to leave Leono paralysed, Zavala threw a bunch of quality strikes, and Leono really came across as a guy that was going to use this chance in the spotlight to go balls out. The double springboard moonsault from Leono and Tigre looked completely wild, although unfortunately we never got multi-angle slow-mo replays. Finish is pretty daft, but everything leading up to it was really good. If I come across another Leono or Tigre Blanco match on this excursion I'll make a point of watching it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

More 80s Lucha

El Canek v Don Corleone (2/14/82)

Frasier is the ref' again. This was alright, but I thought it was definitely the weakest of the four matches so far. It's the kind of thing I guess I could see non-lucha fans liking more than folks that naturally enjoy lucha, because it's worked more like an old-school NWA title match than a lucha title match. If you do enjoy lucha then this might not do a ton for you. People that just don't get much out of lucha would maybe rank this relatively high on the ballot. People that do like lucha probably won't rank it very high at all. So, like, there's that. But even then this isn't a great example of an old-school NWA title match, and if you don't enjoy lucha then why would you be watching the set in the first place? so maybe I'll just move on already. Prevailing opinion here seems to be that Corleone was the better guy in the match, while Canek outright sucked. I agree with the former, but I didn't really think Canek was terrible. There was a cool bit where Corleone has him in a sort of chinlock, so Canek reaches up and starts twisting Corleone's head in almost a neck vice, so Corleone drops the point of his elbow on Canek's trapezius. Corleone's tope in the tercera looked real good. I came out of this thinking, "Man, El Canek's mask was super swank." I came out of the set opener thinking, "Man, that was fucking great. Plus Perro's boots were tremendous." I guess that when someone's ring gear is the FIRST thing you think of upon reflection on a match...

Tatsumi Fujinami v El Canek (6/12/83)

Same vein as the last match, in that it felt less like a lucha title match than a 70s NWA title match. Honestly, if I'd muted this and blatantly ignored the fact everybody in the crowd are Hispanic, I'd have figured this was something off the New Japan set rather than the lucha set. Match never did a ton for me. Canek does these weird flying forearm things that are more like diving elbow drops, but they're done to a standing opponent rather than an opponent lying on the canvas. They look kind of cool in a reckless sort of way, but I'm not sure he doesn't do them because he's just not very good. It's like he's a character in a Smackdown! game (or a WWE 2k game now, I guess) where the elbow drop button's been pressed, and that's the move that's being done whether the other character gets back to his feet or not. The command has been made; there's no coming back. Ref' bump in the tercera was actually pretty great and I wasn't expecting it at all. Shitty finish...wasn't pretty great. Both Canek matches are basically interchangeable as my current barrel-scraper.

Kevin von Erich, Mascara Ano 2000 & Halcon Ortiz v Coloso Colosetti, Pirata Morgan & Herodes (9/23/83)

Kevin Von Erich being in this match gives it a WAR point for its sheer randomness. He clearly isn't used to this style and there are some points where he kind of takes a step back like, "well shit, this ain't Texas." But he holds up his end fine and he has these amazingly stiff and reckless elbow drops. Plus his barefoot hillbilly crossbody looked great. Kevin's unfamiliarity aside, this was the closest thing to "traditional lucha" on the set so far. That and the fact it came after two matches that never did a ton for me (nor did they "feel" like lucha) probably helped it, but I really dug this a bunch. Herodes is such a great portly rudo asskicker here, throwing some wild looking punches and eating a crazy KVE elbow drop in the guts. Pretty sure he sells it over the course of two falls as well. Pirata Morgan does what Pirata Morgan does and almost dies at least two times. His first bump to the floor was probably the craziest of his two big bumps in the match, but his second looked the more likely to smash his tail bone into a million pieces, even if the fall wasn't from as great a height. I don't think I've seen Halcon Ortiz before, but I was into all of his exchanges. There's a great bit where Colosetti keeps charging him only to be armdragged to the mat time after time, so eventually he just throws his hands up and walks away. "Aw fuck it, what's the point?" I'd say this is close to being my working #1 to this point, but the next match is Chicana/MS-1 and there's but a handful of matches in wrestling history that are fucking with that match, so right now anything else is simply a place holder.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Lucha 80s Set

So I got this about a month or so ago, and this is me finally cracking it open. Set list looks incredible, of course. I will now watch it (over the next eight months) and write about what I feel like writing about, I guess.

Gran Hamada & Satoru Sayama v Perro Aguayo & Baby Face (4/13/80)

Perro fucking ruled this. His caveman boots are spectacular and he was surly as all get out. I don't even remember the last time I watched a Perro Aguayo match, but I'll assume he's always had great knee strikes and I just never realised it. He throws knees right to the sternum of standing opponents in this and they looked super nasty. His senton off the top in the segunda was even more rib-crushing than the knees. He also has this aura of condescension and "you are beneath me" about him, and there's a great bit where he and Hamada end up the ring together so he just strolls out because what is Gran Hamada to Perro Aguayo? The escalation of their exchanges from the first fall through to the finish is a cool theme. Hamada is as graceful and sharp as ever here. There's an awesome bit where he comes in and runs rings round the rudos with armdrags and flips, and it ends with him mule kicking out of a Baby Face full nelson, rolling forward up to his feet and instantly clocking Perro in the chin with a right hook. Sayama was fine here, too. He does his stuff and he does it really fast, and for a change most of it comes off looking like it actually connected. I'm not sure what he was doing at the end of the first fall though, just kind of running through submissions that he couldn't apply properly before finally settling on something that might've been a cross armbreaker. "Alright, fuck it, this'll do." He also looks a bit like Luis Suarez. Unfortunately he did not bite or racially abuse anybody (that I could tell, anyway). Match really had a bit of everything, from nifty sequences to bloody brawling to Perro Aguayo's incredible boots. Perro's punt to the plums for the finish was fucking grade A as well. Great way to start off the set.

Andre the Giant & Cien Caras v Sangre Chicana, Herodes & Alfonso Dantes (1981)

I think this is the only time I've ever seen Sangre Chicana where he isn't bleeding and brawling all over the shop like a fucked up lunatic. He's still just about the most charismatic fucker you've ever seen, though. His posturing in front of Andre pre-match is so awesome. You want to crack him in the teeth just from the way he chews his gum. Match is pretty much a total Andre showcase. All the early stuff where he hoists Herodes and Dantes up off the ground while they apply top wristlocks was cool, and the crowd seem totally into it. Chicana has that genuine star aura about him, though. No matter what's going on I can't help but have my attention drawn to Chicana, which is a massive compliment considering Andre is in there for 90% of the match. Herodes and Dantes bump and stooge and play along like they mean it. Those guys are at worst "good" in this match. But Chicana is just everything that is RIGHT about pro-wrestling, and to me this was basically fifteen or so minutes of Chicana being Chicana, albeit on a much smaller, less chaotic scale. Cien Caras also participated.

Gran Hamada v Centurion Negro (2/14/82)

At first I thought Frasier Crane was refereeing this. Then the camera zooms in a bit and it's actually Lou Thesz, which is sorta random and cool. Matwork to start isn't exactly Navarro/Solar levels, but then not much is, I guess. It was solid enough and I was definitely into it, though. Centurion Negro reels off about four underhook belly-to-belly suplexes in this and every time it looked like he was trying to bridge into a pin attempt but could never bridge high enough or get Hamada's shoulders down properly. Then as the match went on it looked like that might've been deliberate, and instead of trying to pin Hamada he was actually applying some kind of Cattle Mutilation/chicken-wing submission. The camera shot of Negro's dive in the tercera wasn't great, but it definitely pasted Hamada like you'd want. They're in an outdoor arena and the floor is filthy (must've been raining), so Hamada comes up looking like he's just rolled around in dirt. Centurion Negro literally toped Gran Hamada to shit. Hamada's flip out of a back body drop is probably the best in history.