Friday, 30 May 2014

Virus & Valiente! Twice!

Virus v Valiente (CMLL, 4/3/09) - GOOD

So this is a lightning match. It's not really the kind of match you want for a Virus/Valiente singles match, or a Virus match in general, but then there was that Virus/Panther lightning match from last year that was truly awesome, so it's not like this couldn't be good. Sure enough it was good. It really makes me wish we got a lengthy title match between the two (Virus usually gets to have one or two a year, so here's hoping...), because an abbreviated version of it is super fun. You get flashes of the killer mat exchanges, you get Virus doing at least one great transition spot, and you get Valiente wiping him out with at least one amazing dive. The crazy inside-out armdrag that set up Valiente's springboard moonsault was totally spectacular as well, actually. Even in lightning matches Virus manages to get across the wear and tear of the match. A lot of guys will run through as much stuff as they can and there's no selling at all, but Virus strikes the balance between keeping things moving and getting in everything they need to within the time limit, while selling enough after each big dive that you know it hurt like a bastard. Dives aren't just meant to look cool or pretty or elegant; they're meant to hurt. Virus reminds you of that. Now somebody give us the title match.

Virus & Arkangel de la Muerte v Fuego & Valiente (CMLL, 2/21/12) - GREAT

More Virus v Valiente. Honestly, every exchange pretty much pushes a lengthy singles match - preferably title match - into personal dream match territory. First caida is so great. Arkangel and Fuego start it out, and it's good stuff. Arkangel works really rough yet sort of stoogey, interspersing leverage holds with moments where he'll back up incredulously after being chopped. He was kind of Regalish in that sense. Fuego is fine enough of the mat and is all fist pumping tecnico charisma. Then Virus and Valiente get in there and just rip it with their exchange. Practically every time Virus takes it to the mat, regardless of opponent, he'll do something I've never seen before. Second caida is where Virus and Arkangel go full on rudo asshole and throw all sense of sportsmanship out the window. Working civilised never got them anywhere, so they shift gears and put a beating on Fuego and Valiente. Couple of the double teams looked pretty brutal, especially when Arkangel drapes Fuego across the top rope and Virus hits him with a running dropkick to the face with so much force that he ends up flying back in the ring. Third caida has some nice comeuppance with a couple sweet dives, and this was all just great stuff.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Complete & Accurate Virus

So over the last few years Virus/Damiancito El Guerrero has become one of my favourite wrestlers, not just currently, but ever. He's one of those luchadors that's having incredible matches well into years of his life when the majority of wrestlers in history are on the steep decline. He's also a guy that's had two periods of his career looked at pretty closely (circa-1997 and the last six or so years), while there's a huge chunk in the middle that's almost never talked about. Given how amazing he was/is in the two periods folk have actually looked at, I don't doubt that there's a bunch of great stuff in the middle that's just right there to be discovered (or at least talked about a bit more). So I guess that's what I'm gonna try and do.

Same deal as the Tenryu and Anjoh projects -- I'll watch stuff and talk about it, and it'll all go under EPIC, GREAT, GOOD, FUN and SKIPPABLE. Here's to even more great years of Virus.

Damiancito El Guerrero & Pierrotito v Cicloncito Ramirez & Ultimo Dragoncito (CMLL, 4/5/97) - GREAT

Virus v Valiente (CMLL, 4/3/09) - GOOD

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

Virus v Loco Max (CMLL, 2/7/12) - GOOD
Virus & Arkangel de la Muerte v Fuego & Valiente (CMLL, 2/21/12) - GREAT

Virus, Cancerbero & Raziel v Magnus, Stigma & Starman (CMLL, 2/24/13) - GREAT
Virus, Puma & Namajague v Angel de Oro, Diamante & Valiente (CMLL, 4/30/13) - GOOD
Virus v Blue Panther (CMLL, 5/12/13) - EPIC
Virus, Puma & Misterioso Jr. v  Fuego, Hijo del Fantasma & Hombre Bala Jr. (CMLL, 5/19/13) - GOOD
Virus, Fuego & Vangellys v Negro Casas, Stuka Jr. & Valiente (CMLL, 6/14/13) - EPIC
Virus v Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 10/6/13) - EPIC 
Virus & Shigeo Okamura v Blue Panther & Delta (CMLL, 12/23/13) - GREAT

Virus, Okumura & Bobby Zavala v Stuka Jr., Fuego & Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 1/3/14) - GOOD
Virus, Terrible & Vangelis v La Mascara, Rush & Titan (CMLL, 1/21/14) - GREAT
Virus v Titan (CMLL, 1/28/14) - EPIC
Virus, Hechicero & Cachorro v Negro Casas, Cavernario & Dragon Lee (CMLL, 5/23/14) - EPIC
Virus v Dragon Lee (CMLL, 12/9/14) - EPIC

Virus v Dragon Lee (CMLL, 4/5/14) - EPIC

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Virus - Best Wrestler in the World?

Virus v Guerrero Maya Jr. (CMLL, 10/6/13) - EPIC

Might not be quite as great as their 2011 match, but fuck me if this wasn't still awesome. First caida is more less spent entirely standing up with both guys grappling and trading holds from the feet. They fight over hammerlocks and headlocks and it all felt really surly and nasty. When they eventually deviate from that Maya Jr. grabs Virus in a Gory Special, and Virus' struggle and eventual escape really encapsulated that first fall. Second caida is when they take it down to the mat proper, and I could absolutely watch Virus work the mat all day. I mean, Maya Jr. is capable and hangs in there, but Virus is a master. So I guess it made sense that Maya Jr. would ditch that and go to the high impact moves. His one-two punch of an insane neckbreaker followed by a really violent drop down dragon sleeper to finish the fall looked really awesome. Like their 2011 match, the third caida launches this into serious MOTYC territory. It's pretty much the perfect example of a third fall in a modern day CMLL title match. Maya Jr. hits two insane dives, the first of which is a no-hands screwball tope that I rewound like fifty fucking times. The second is a plancha from the top rope to the floor where his whole body connected with Virus' face. Virus might be the best wrestler in the world at working big transition spots into his matches, because they always feel different and are often spectacular. This time Maya Jr. goes to ram his face into the post, and Virus counters by running up it and using it as a launch pad to armdrag Maya Jr. on the steel floor. Guys trading indy roll-up nearfalls is one of my least favourite things in wrestling at this point, but now and again you'll see that spot not totally sucking. These two do it late in the match and it felt like two guys who are utterly exhausted really going for broke, rather than two guys doing it because they saw Eddie and Malenko do it way back. Even the ref' looks spent after it. That final submission is why Virus is king. Awesome match, and maybe my MOTY from last year.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I Watched Some Wrestling from 2014

John Cena v Cesaro (WWE RAW, 2/17/14)

Cracking match. It was obviously the real coming out party for Cesaro, and he was great in it, but I thought Cena was too (some crummy punches aside). He was a pretty awesome ace in this and really went above and beyond to make Cesaro look on his level. Thing you remember most about this is the highspots, but in addition to being great on their own, they're all built to really well (some are used as hope spots or cut-offs -- Cesaro doing a lightning quick sunset flip to counter Cena's sit-out powerbomb and halt his comeback was honestly one of my favourite spots of the match). Cesaro has to be one of the most spectacular "big spot" wrestlers in the world right now. There was the fallaway slam with the bridge, both uppercut spots, the bit where he just deadlifts Cena and holds him there for a few seconds before muscling him into a gutwrench suplex, and of course the incredible outside-in superplex. I saw a clip of him do that to Kofi Kingston, which was impressive enough, but doing it to a guy like Cena is wild. Then Cena goes and hits a fucking DDT out of the giant swing (the build to Cesaro eventually doing it properly was also perfect) and busts out the crazy AA at the end and you're wondering if he doesn't have even more freakish strength than Cesaro. Cena has always felt a bit like a modern day Bob Backlund to me, in that Backlund would do all kinds of spots that required mutant strength as well. And that lariat to cut off Cesaro at the end was fucking amazing. I've seen hardly any wrestling from this year, but this is probably the best thing I've watched. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hashimoto Killing People!

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata v Zazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka (New Japan, 6/12/96)

Well it's only taken me like three years, but I'm finally halfway through the '96 yearbook (well, almost. Fuck it). I've probably forgotten more than I can remember, but Hash has definitely been right up there as one of the best wrestlers in the world so far. One of my favourite things in wrestling is Hashimoto going total apeshit and trying to kick someone to death, and this time it's Yamazaki that gets it. Ref' tries to step in at a couple points and almost gets caught in the crossfire. When Hash flings him all the way across the ring you know it's for his own good, because taking a stray kick would be a whole lot worse. Yamazaki has to get his ribs taped up after the first exchange and looks to be in agony the rest of the match (I'll assume he wasn't really injured, but being repeatedly roundhouse kicked by Hashimoto has to really suck either way). Hash naturally paints a bullseye on it. At one point he just starts jumping on his stomach and Yamazaki looks like he's about to puke. It actually gets to the stage where the crowd are firmly behind Yamazaki and Iizuka, which should be a pretty good indication of how much of a shitkicking he had to take in order to make that happen. Finish is out of nowhere, but that's by design and totally works. I guess it might've looked like Yamazaki kind of popped up too easily, but as soon as it's over he goes back to trying to hold his ribcage in place. He certainly doesn't look like a victor. Has to be said that his selling was pretty fantastic through the whole thing, but you watch this for Hashimoto being a fucking wrecking ball. Everything else is gravy.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Lawler v Mantell x 2

The Loser Leaves Town studio match is sandwiched in between the No DQ and Barbed Wire matches on the Memphis set, but even though the LLT is dated as a week after the no DQ I think the LLT happened first. Maybe it was an issue with air dates and taped dates. I watched the LLT first, anyway.

Jerry Lawler v Dutch Mantell (Loser Leaves Town) (3/27/82)

Dutch's promo and challenge to set this up is great. He hates Lawler from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head and Memphis isn't big enough for the both of them, so he wants a match for all the marbles right there on TV -- winner gets the belt and the loser buys a bus ticket out of Memphis. Lawler of course accepts, and Lance is Lance in making it seem like a huge deal. "On TV? Are you crazy?" Match itself has a real feeling of unpreparedness to it. In big matches sometimes you get the sense the participants have had time to work out a gameplan. Sometimes they appear tentative, like they're sizing things up or waiting for the opponent to play into that gameplan (that sounds like something from a kayfabe documentary or some shit but whatever). This isn't that. This is just pure adrenaline, on-the-fly punching the shit out of each other and both look exhausted after five minutes. It's the kind of exhaustion you get when you're sitting there minding your own business, just having a beer watching the ball game and the next thing you know you're in a bar fight. They've just walked into this and it's been balls to the wall from the get go; they haven't been able to pace themselves. Lawler nails Dutch with an absolute corker of a punch here as he's coming out the corner; one of the best I've ever seen him throw. Dutch is also great at getting himself in position for the spot where Lawler will get a running start on the floor and pop the opponent half hanging out the ring. Mid-match bullshit with Dutch rules. He feigns sincerity and wants to team up now, because why should he and Lawler beat each other's brains out when they could both go after guys like Hart and the Midnight Express? Lawler is hesitant at first, because why wouldn't he be? but Dutch talks him around. And then bang. Lance: "Aw, c'mon. Dutch!" Lawler was great as always here, but Dutch carried this, from talking Lawler into accepthing the title/LLT stip in the first place, to realising he might've made a mistake, to conning Lawler into buying into his truce, to taking advantage and beating him senseless. Then to top it off he walks away with Lawler's belt. Memphis was maybe the king of taking an angle and match and putting it together into one seamless package, and this is an awesome example of that.

Jerry Lawler v Dutch Mantell (No DQ Match) (3/22/82)

This was #4 on my Memphis ballot, and on re-watch it was every bit the top 5 match I remembered. Lawler comes out the blocks swinging here and Dutch has no answer to any of it. Lance drops the classic "Lawler is usually a slow starter" line, but Dutch stole his title and Lawler is in no mood to fuck around. First five minutes are all Lawler. He throws Jerry Lawler punches and at one point almost catches Dutch out with a sunset flip. Then Dutch grabs a chair and fucking javelins is at Lawler's leg, and if that isn't just about the best transition spot in history then I don't know what is. I'm not sure if he meant it or not (Lance wonders if he never tried to launch it at Lawler's face...), but Dutch goes after the leg either way. He only really focuses on it for a few minutes (though he does go to it as a cut off after a brief Lawler comeback), but it's alright because he drops it in favour of smashing Lawler's face into the ring post a buncha times instead. This was some Austin/Angle Summerslam '01 shit right here. I mean, fuck, Lawler will fearlessly fling himself face first into ring posts. Dutch also blasts him in the teeth with a wild chair shot (he swung it like you'd swing a baseball bat, basically, and Lawler barely protects himself on it). I actually thought Lawler's comeback looked like it came a bit too easily, which is weird considering he's probably the best comeback guy ever. I mean, after six or seven postings, a chair shot to the face and a piledriver, it felt like he just kind of went fuck it and that was that. Normally he'll milk the shit out of it before dropping the strap. Not that the crowd never lost their mind anyway, but still. Like, if this was Michaels kipping up in the same situation then you know be outrage. But fuck all that because the last few minutes are amazing with both guys lighting each other up and Lawler getting revenge with a chair shot of his own. Mantell pinning Lawler clean as a whistle shocks every person in that arena as well. When the biggest complain of this match is that the big comeback spot didn't feel quite as well built to as other big comebacks from the master of the babyface comeback, you know you're onto something pretty great. This might be a top 20 match of the decade for me.

Friday, 23 May 2014


I'm watching a bunch of stuff from the Memphis set again. Some of it I haven't watched since I originally went through it almost six years ago. Oh, Tojo Yamamoto, how I've missed thee (disc 2 might be the best disc of any wrestling comp in history). 

Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee v Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Onita (8/1/81)

I had this at #26 on my original Memphis ballot, which seems kinda crazy in hindsight because it was pretty much an extended squash for nine minutes. But it was a super fun extended squash. Seeing Masa Fuchi as a stooging goofball heel doing a mocking Bill Dundee strut is so awesome. He was always really charismatic, but you get so used to seeing him as a dirty cheapshotting little prick in the cathedral of stoicism that is All Japan that you're sort of taken aback that he can work this style as well as he can. Fuchi and Onita do a bunch of the classic stooge spots and Dundee/Lawler light them up with Dundee/Lawler punches. At one point Fuchi sets himself in a cooky "martial arts" pose and Lawler backs into the corner, so Dundee sneaks in and pops Fuchi in the chin with a hook. Tojo is skulking about ringside dressed like someone taking golfing lessons and you're always ready for him to jab someone with a stick. At some point I think Jimmy Hart hits the scene and the whole thing deteriorates into a gigantic brawl. I think the entire locker room empties and it's just a total pier sixer. Rick Gibson gets shot in the face or something because he is a fucking MESS, and Fuchi is right there stabbing him with a kendo stick. During all this Dundee ends up getting pinned, so Fuchi and Onita win the belts! I think. Anyway, if nothing else this is a cool glimpse at young Fuchi and Onita, and especially at how good Fuchi was even then (how awesome would a Pat Tanaka/Masa Fuchi Orient Express have been? Not that the Fuchi we actually got wasn't an all-time great level wrestler, but you know).

Ricky Morton & Eddie Gilbert v Atsushi Onita & Masa Fuchi (Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl) (9/4/81)

"Look out, Randy, get outta the way!" Christ almighty this is even better than I remembered. I'm not even sure how they wind up in the concession stand in the first place, but once they do it's just complete and utter carnage. Gilbert upturns a box of ice, so everybody's slipping and sliding all over the floor, chucking kitchen utensils and condiments like this is a high school food fight. After about thirty seconds they're covered in everything and I'm not sure what was blood and what was ketchup. Tojo's sitting under the sink like a fucking homeless person covered in mustard and Gilbert keeps smashing things over his head. And holy shit is Morton laying it in with the kendo stick (kendo stick belongs to Tojo; they're not actually selling kendo sticks in the arena). I think Fuchi got stabbed in the ear somewhere along the line. Could've been with a fork, could've been with a broom, could've been with a broken mustard jar; I have no idea. Eddie Marlin comes in and tries to break it up so Gilbert cracks him with a plank. Then he breaks it over Tojo's head. And Tojo goes fucking ballistic. Some guy in a white shirt ends up getting involved (fuck if I know how) and Tojo tries to choke him to death (dude's white shirt is covered in blood and mustard). Then a hysterical lady in a summer dress - maybe white shirt's husband - tries to drag him away so Tojo CHOPS HER IN THE HEAD! HE CAN'T BE STOPPED! SOMEBODY STICK A FORK IN ME BECAUSE I AM DONE!!! I can't tell you how hilarious Tojo was during this whole thing. He's the last one left in the concession stand at the end, so he grabs a board and crawls over the counter like a gremlin looking for somebody to attack. Just amazing. When we cut back to the studio Lance and Dave are shaking their heads all disapproving like and you can see Dave is just DYING to laugh. If hating Tojo Yamamoto hitting people with sticks is wrong then Dave Brown doesn't wanna be right. And neither do I. This is my favourite thing ever.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Old AWA Set Stuff

I never finished the AWA set in time to get a ballot in. Shit, I never finished the AWA set, period. But I started watching it again a few days ago and came across some things I'd written from almost two years ago, mostly about the matches from the start of the set. I never posted them here at the time, so I'll do it now, twenty two months down the line.

Bobby Heenan v Lord Alfred Hayes (1/13/80)

Yeah, this was a super nifty way to kick the set off. Hayes has some pretty killer looking right hands, and the tricky Euro holds looked cool, which has more or less sold me on watching that other Hayes match that's online somewhere. I dug how this was basically two shitheads trying to outshithead each other. Hayes doesn't try to hide the fact he's cheating any chance he gets, but this is Heenan he's choking with his singlet strap and blatantly punching in the nose, so the crowd are all for it. Then Heenan returns the favour and they just tear into him. Heenan on top for a bit longer would've made me an even happier camper, but eh, what can you do? Surprised Heenan didn't bleed all over the ship or take at least one bump directly on his neck, but he KOs two dudes with the one chair shot in the post-match (fucking ruled) so I guess I'll take that as an acceptable trade-off. Can't imagine this cracking many top 50s (although I've watched all of the first two matches so far so I don't really know shit about shit), but I'm glad it got repped on the set and I doubt it'll be scraping the barrel at the end.

Big John Studd & Jerry Blackwell v High Flyers (2/210/81)

Brunzell is just about fucking with Kevin Von Erich for the 'Dude With the Best Dropkick of the 80s Project' award. Jerry Blackwell is pretty much unfuckwithable for the 'Fat Dude With the Best Missed Fat Dude Splash of the 80s Project' award. Those two are a couple guys I was really looking forward to seeing a whole lot of on this set, and this was a fine way to introduce them. This is probably the best I've ever seen Studd look, which doesn't seem to be something I'm alone on. He has pretty slow and clumsy looking elbow drops, but eats a big slam and crumples Gagne's spine with a nasty looking atomic drop, so I can deal. The way he stands around looking goofy at the finish is kind of...uh, goofy, but I did dig the way he just sort of stared at his hands like "WTF did I just do?" Final five minutes were really good and seemed plenty hectic. I get the sense there is going to be performances from everybody here other than Studd that'll end up blowing this away, but this is perfectly good, middle of the pack stuff.

East-West Connection v High Flyers (3/1/81)

I liked the Gagne/Super D v Heenan/Bock match more, but this is sitting #2 right now, and obviously my second favourite tag match on the set so far. Totally digging the double FIP structure of these tags as well. When I watched all of that 2002 WWE a few years back for the WWF/E Poll the Smackdown! guys did the same thing, only in a more "workrate-y" kind of way. In terms of guys doing a bunch of cool looking shit in that kind of setting, I'd much rather watch Adonis fly around like a lunatic than Angle suplex everybody 15 times (although I wasn't really getting the sense Adonis was just bumping like a nut for the sake of it here, which he did tend to do now and again). As surprised as I was by Studd's performance in the last match, I was even more surprised by how much I liked Jesse here. He's a guy I don't think I've ever actively liked for an entire match in the past, but this went around 20 minutes and I don't remember thinking he sucked even a little bit at any point. The spot where he just hoists Gagne up into an Argentine Backbreaker (is that what it's called?) like a ragdoll only for Gagne to use the ropes to flip himself back over and use that momentum to end up in a pinning situation was great. And there's an awesome Indian Deathlock spot between Greg and Jesse. Finish is what it is, but Jesse yanking both Adonis and Gagne over the top in order to both break the sleeper and possibly convince the ref' it was worthy of a DQ was a really fucking cool spot. And Brunzell continues to be awesome, dropkick and all.

Nick Bockwinkel vs. Pat O'Connor (3/22/81)

This was short and probably won't make it out of my bottom 30 at the end, but I always dig watching Pat do his thing (and it was hardly a bad match). He looked pretty fuggin' spry here (he's even older than Verne was against Bock, but I thought he was moving around like it was the other way around), and there was one takedown in particular that looked real quick and slick. Still, while I probably enjoyed Pat working opposite Bock in this more than I did Verne working opposite Bock in the 7/18/80 match, it was still Bock I kept finding myself drawn to. The way he grabbed this half-assed headlock after breaking the sleeper hold as if he was merely trying to keep a lid on things for a minute just so he could get his shit together was such a cool little moment.

East-West Connection vs. High Flyers (Cage Match) (3/22/81)

Well God damn, Adonis is THE motherfucking pinball bump freak psycho in this! He takes, like, four lunatic bumps in the ten minutes we get to see, and I'm pretty sure he's bounced his head into every side of the cage within the first two minutes. The missed dive off the cage at the end was completely spectacular and had me losing my shit, but that upside down bump in the corner was totally nuts as well. That shit'll tear your shoulder up in a hurry. I pretty much loved this. Adonis' bumping was definitely my favourite part (even if it bordered on silly at a few points), but Jesse held up his end well again and the Flyers continue to rule it. The vampire in me kind of wished we got a better shot of the blood, but that isn't really a complaint I can toss at the actual match. I'm probably going to end up overrating this because of Adonis' bumpfreakery, but fuck if I'm going to feel bad about that.

Nick Bockwinkel vs. Jim Brunzell (6/11/81)

So, again, I end up ask myself why I never really "got it" with Bockwinkel. I don't have an answer to it, either. Watching this first disc I get the sense we've barely scratched the surface with him on the set, yet I've already completely turned the corner on him. He just seems like a guy I absolutely should've dug long before coming around to him now. Well whatever, I thought this was a blast and featured my favourite Bock performance in a singles setting so far. Loved the leg work. The way he goes after a limb, he doesn't look like a pro-wrestler trying to slap a hold on another pro-wrestler -- he really roughs you up and gives everything a real raw edge. He's really Finlay/Regalesque in that regard, which again makes me wonder why I was never sold on him. Brunzell getting some payback by wrapping Bock's leg around the post is a great receipt, and the finish was pretty unexpected. Seriously, who has the better dropkick, Brunzell or Kevin Von Erich?

Adrian Adonis vs. Jim Brunzell (6/28/81)

Man, Brunzell is fucking awesome and this set is already worth the $45 just for turning me onto him. I've still got a couple singles matches to go on the disc, but I'll be surprised if this doesn't end up as my highest ranked singles after the first disc is in the books. Match kind of feels like it's split into two halves, with the first being the duelling body part work and the second being about both guys having a semi-extended run on offence after the initial spill to the floor (which kind of serves as the bridge). I suppose the body part work in the first half gets dropped in the second half, but Brunzell goes back to the leg almost in desperation enough times (like repeatedly punching Adonis right in the hamstring, which was awesome) to remind you it was a focal point earlier on. I did think the second half was a step down from the first, but on the whole I really dug this. And Adonis really looked like he was yanking at the tights at the end. No half-hearted cheating here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

More Satanico! And La Fiera!

Satanico & Espectro Jr. v El Faraon & La Fiera (8/12/84)

This was pretty fucking great, but the dodgy tape jumping at points means we miss out on what looked like a few big transitions/momentum swings (Satanico/Espectro are mid-comeback, then there's a skip in the tape and it jumps to Faraon dropping Espectro with a fucking Ganso Bomb!). And that always bugs the shit out of me. Still, what we get ruled pretty hard. Fiera was a wildman in this, punching guys with a spiked glove, drinking their blood, nearly killing himself on a missed tope, etc. He and Faraon take the beating too far and are DQ'd in the first fall, and in between falls there's a crazy shot of both of them biting Satanico while Satanico lies there quivering helplessly. It was like something out of a Rob Zombie flick. At one point they grab Espectro in a dual surfboard and start ripping his mask at the same time. The tape jumps are especially annoying because they usually happen right as Satanico snaps and goes to murder folks. And those are moments you don't want to be missing. Finish is nuts, with Faraon body slamming Satanico face-first onto Fiera's knee (looked crazy as shit), Fiera missing a tope on Espectro and taking a psychotic faceplant bump to the floor, then Faraon following it up by actually hitting a tope of his own. Post-match bodies are strewn everywhere and Faraon is even giving Fiera chest compressions! Should comfortably finish top half.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

More Satanico

Satanico v Shiro Koshinaka (7/30/84)

A few years ago I thought this was amazing. Didn't think as highly of it this time, but it's still really fucking good. I've said it a million times before, but the gap between good Koshinaka and bad Koshinaka is ridiculous. How a guy can be as dishwater dull as he was at points on the New Japan set compared to how much fun he could be going up against guys like Tenryu in the WAR feud just boggles the mind. This is a hair match, so it's built on hatred and brawling, and that's the Koshinaka I want to watch. There were a few moments where he looked a bit rough around the edges, but for the most part he brought the hate and violence like I wanted. Satanico felt like the guy holding this together, though. He brought plenty contempt of his own, but he's awesome at doing those little things that make a match stand out, like really forcing Koshinaka's shoulders to the mat in a super tight rollup. Sometimes a cradle will look real neat and pretty, but Satanico makes it look like it'd hurt. The bit where he just loses it and jumps on Koshinaka like he's trying to tear his skin off was amazing. Some of the post shots these guys are taking are bonkers as well; face first unprotected, straight into the steel. I still don't know whether the finish was an actual nut shot from Koshinaka or Satanico pulled a Neymar, but I kind of like it either way (although I prefer the sound of the former...yeah, let's go with that). I'll still have this fairly high, but not top 20 like I figured coming in (although that says a lot about how loaded this set is).

Monday, 19 May 2014

El Satanico!

Lizmark v Satanico (April 1984)

This was good, but I was hoping for spectacular and it wasn't that. I actually couldn't REALLY get all that into it, which is surprising given the participants. Maybe I should re-watch it. First caida matwork was super solid stuff and all looked like it was fought for. Whole match felt like a struggle, really. Like Satanico trying to keep hold of a Boston crab while Lizmark is trying to counter with a kind of hurricanrana, and both guys look like they're putting everything into that one battle. Lizmark has this awesome quality where he tends to come across as a master bullfighter (especially in title matches). He'll be charged at and he'll just skip aside effortlessly, and more often than not the bull goes flying through the ropes. That happened here, and he even followed up with a couple big dives. Satanico was his usual self, which, you know, awesome. His sell of taking the two piledrivers was great, writhing around on the mat like he got nerve damage. It had actually been quite a while since I last saw Satanico in a singles title match, and even though this never blew me away it certainly got me amped for the ones to come (especially re-watching the Cochisse match).

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Rush and Casas RIOT! Again!

Rush, Terrible & Vangellys v Negro Casas, Shocker & Valiente (CMLL, 9/3/13)

So Rush and Casas still hate each other to death. This wasn't on the level of the amazing 6/28 match, but it was still plenty wild and had enough Rush v Casas for you to want to watch it. Have I mentioned that their feud is awesome? Because it is. Rush is a fucking psychopath in this, picking fights with partners and opponents alike, jumping on guys' heads and kicking around a midget. I know I'm like eight months behind on CMLL, but he's probably my favourite wrestler on earth right now. He absolutely drills Casas in the face with a running dropkick in the primera (Casas gives him one right back later that looked equally insane), then in the tercera he hauls off and headbutts him square in the snout. At the end of the second caida the tecnicos build up a head of steam and are pretty clearly ready to win the fall, so Rush just walks out and casually observes from up the ramp while Terrible and Vangellys eat pinfalls. Such an amazing dickhead moment, like "fuck it, why should I lose face for them?" Casas has the scrappy-old-man-underdog-that's-not-to-be-fucked-with role down to perfection. Rush is so much bigger and more imposing and he's running around obliterating everything in sight like a lunatic. Casas is almost a pensioner with greying hair and knee-high socks. But he just will not give this kid the satisfaction. Shocker had a few cool exchanges with the rudos and this is the second match in a row in which he hasn't looked dogshit. I'm kind of looking forward to him and Rush having a singles match, although that's like 97% because of Rush. The only problem with the Rush/Casas feud is that it's gonna be practically impossible for a singles match to live up to my expectations. But I'm sure as shit stoked about it all the same.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

80s Lucha Stuff (tryna finish this set before the World Cup starts)

El Hijo del Santo, Ringo Mendoza & Chamaco Valaguez v Jerry Estrada, Fuerza Guerrera & Talisman (3/9/84)

Estrada and Fuerza in the same team? Oh my days if that isn't a dream come true. This was mostly Santo against the rudos with Mendoza and Valaguez as background noise. Santo/Fuerza seemed to be the main match-up and I'm gonna choose to believe they never went on and had an awesome singles match, because the thought of them actually going on and having an awesome singles match and it just not being recorded is too cruel to consider. The Premier League season ends today and the Arsenal game isn't even on TV and I refuse to compound my misery. Estrada didn't look absolutely guttered here. I thought he'd be shitfaced. You know, for a change. He's a super fun bully, dismissively slapping Santo around and acting as Fuerza's back up. He also takes a back body drop bump by flying THROUGH the ropes to the floor, which I don't think I've seen before. I've said it before and I'll say it a bunch more, but it is not the least bit surprising that Jerry Estrada is in a wheelchair. Also dug the rudo miscommunication spots in this. It's the kind of thing non-lucha fans would probably dig as well. I mean, it's basically Midnight Express shtick turned up to 11, and who won't dig that? All the craziness with the masks at the end was fun, too. I wish the crowds in Mexico weren't mic'd so poorly, because I bet they'd be rabid for that shit.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Lawler, The (Other) Funk, The Memphis

Jerry Lawler v Dory Funk Jr. (Memphis, 3/30/81)

Man, I completely forgot about Jimmy Hart dangling above the ring in this. That is just about the damnedest thing I've ever seen. He's just swinging there in a harness hanging from the roof. At least in Texas they stuck Gino in a cage. This was actually way the fuck better than I remembered. At this point it seems pretty clear to me that Dory was never really all that good and the whole "great technical wrestler" bit is kinda nonsense, because Terry did everything Dory did but was a thousand times better and more interesting at it. If I'm going to watch Jerry Lawler versus a Funk, I want that Funk to be Terry. That said, Dory was pretty damn good here. I mean, he's not Terry and this isn't the same kind of wild, bloody brawl as Lawler/Terry. But it was never going to be. Dory is a pretty mean roughhouse, though. Surly, even. He throws great looking stiff forearms and it's actually him that takes it to the floor after the early hold-trading (which I even found kind of engaging in its own right. You know, for Dory). He comes across as a sort of "thinking man's wrestler," which is one of those cliché terms normally associated with Dory, bailing outside a few times to regroup and halt Lawler's momentum. At one point Lawler breaks the leg off a chair and chases him up the aisle, which in central Scotland is where you'd hear someone shout, "run mate, he's got a chib!" And Dory's jelly-legged sell of Lawler's punches was really good, too. Basically this was about as much fun as I've ever had watching a Dory Funk Jr. match. As Lawler starts firing back the ref' grabs his arm to stop him from throwing punches, so Dory sneaks in a couple knees that looked a few inches below stomach territory. Lawler's comeback is amazing as he drops the strap with a total "enough of this shit" look and just walks over to blatantly kick Dory right in the dick. Final few minutes with them hitting each other with chain-wrapped fists and tossing the ref' around felt like something you'd see if this was Lawler and the other Funk brother. This might honestly be the best Dory singles match I've seen. It doesn't have the hideous blood-loss of Dory/Brody from the AJ set, but everything else was probably better. There's a chance I'm overrating it because of the low expectations I had going in (because Dory), but it was still a hugely pleasant surprise and I'm glad I decided to re-watch it.

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Lawler, The Funk, The Memphis

Jerry Lawler v Terry Funk (No DQ) (Memphis, 3/23/81)

Yeah. I had this top 10 on the Memphis set and I think it's the match I've re-watched most from that set since then (I've watched the first disc like four times now for a bunch of different nerd projects that I've either scrapped or haven't finished almost six years later), and of course it held up great. Match is like fourteen minutes long and feels like one of the best sub-fifteen minute matches ever. I wish Funk stayed in Memphis for more than a cup of coffee, because the kind of matches he'd have had with Dundee, the Fabs, Mantel, etc. would've ruled. He's like a pro-wrestling Rivaldo: somebody that at one point was probably the best in the world in his sport/profession and will go down as one of the best ever in said sport/profession, even if he only stuck around a bunch of the places he wound up at for about five minutes (I don't remember Funk showing up in Mid-South at any point, so I guess he was to Mid-South what Rivaldo was to the English Premier League). He was amazing in this. I love the bit at the start where he bails to the floor and gets tangled up in the safety rope at ringside, and what's even better is that I honestly don't know if he meant it or not. I mean, he probably did, but he's running around like a maniac throwing haymakers at mid air and I can't tell if he even noticed the rope or not. Even when he's taking bumps it all looks wild and reckless, sometimes hilariously so, but not to the point where it looks like full on comedy bumping (he has a sort of embellished "cartoony" edge to a lot of his bumping and stooging, but he's more or less the best ever at that kind of drunken goofiness without making it seem TOO silly). They're brawling on the floor early and it looks like Lawler's gonna bump Funk's head off the table, which is a standard spot in a situation like that, but instead Funk just throws himself face first into the ring bell and you're thinking, "yeah, that was Terry's idea all day long." When he shifts onto offence he still staggers around all crazy like, but now instead of throwing punches at nothing he's biting Lawler's forehead and spitting the blood in the air. He still looks like a basket case, but now he's a basket case of the fucking cannibal variety. And that's not as amusing if you're a Lawler fan. The Lawler comeback of course rules, and the punches of course RULE, and this match would've been eighteen stars if it had ended thirty seconds later. Except it doesn't end thirty seconds later and we get Funk coming back by trying to break Lawler's leg with a chair, which is then followed by ANOTHER amazing Lawler comeback where HE tries to break FUNK's leg with the chair. A count out finish in a no DQ match is the kind of thing that'll maybe bug some folks, but fuck that because there's no way you can watch this and tell me that shit wasn't as decisive as a pinfall or submission. Lawler practically bludgeoned Funk to death with that chair and decided to get back in the ring so he could count along with the ref' and the crowd, just to rub it in that little bit extra. A match doesn't always need a "real finish" for you to know it was fucking finished. And Lawler finished him, plain and simple. It's been almost five years since I re-watched the empty arena match (my #2 during the voting process), and I'm as amped for it now as I've ever been. These guys were good at the pro-wrestling.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Herodes v Salazar - Who Bleeds Most? (Another 80s Lucha Entry)

Tony Salazar v Herodes (3/2/84)

I think more than any of the 80s sets so far, this one has had the most amount of guys I'd barely heard of show up and be fucking awesome. And I'm only on the second disc. Herodes is a total rudo bruiser. He's rocking the Harley Race mutton chops/moustache combo with the Harley fro and I loved it. First two falls are over in like two minutes flat, but I dug how it kind of had a payback theme running through it even before they got to killing each other in the tercera. Herodes rams Salazar's head into the post, so Salazar does it right back. Herodes goes after Salazar's arm (does a senton onto his outstretched arm which was really cool) so Salazar goes after Herodes'. When Herodes loses the first caida he lies there like "okay, that did not go how I was hoping it would." Loved the bit in the second fall where Salazar annoys Herodes with his armwork to the point where Herodes just punches him in the back of the head. Third fall is for the vampires. Good golly miss Molly do they bleed. Herodes looks like he's trying to rip the skin off Salazar's forehead at one point so the ref' has to physically climb on top of him to get him off. Herodes takes a posting like a fucking man, then he takes a bulldog face first on the floor. By the end both guys look like they've been stabbed in the face. I thought it started to drag a wee bit towards the end, but other than that this was bloody and beautiful lucha brawling.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Rush! And Casas! Again!

Negro Casas, Terrible & Shocker v Rush, Maximo & Rey Escorpion (CMLL, 6/28/13)

Oh my Christ. This was pretty much a prison riot. I have no idea why Rush and Casas hate each other as much as they do, but it makes every match they're involved in worth watching just to see how they'll try and murder each other this time. Both guys were holy shit amazing in this. Any time they square off they just smash the living shit out of each other and belligerently come back for more. Honestly, this is some of the stiffest brawling I've ever seen in lucha (the face stomping is straight out of a Battlarts playbook, and I don't remember ever getting that vibe in lucha before). Casas is punting Rush in the face and Rush is jumping on Casas' head like it's a pogo stick. The ref' DQing Rush in the first caida feels truly warranted, because you get the sense Rush would literally stomp Casas to death if he didn't. Rush has been amazing every time I've watched him lately because everything he does is so violent and nasty. He was on some Hulk shit here just indiscriminately attacking everyone in sight, including his own partners. There's an amazing bit where he's trading shots with someone, and I don't remember who it was with because it literally could have been anyone, and he just hauls off and headbutts them straight in the face (his no-hands headbutt is my favourite strike in wrestling right now). It feels like I say this every time I write something about a Negro Casas match, but the guy is indescribable. He's fifty four years old and taking powerbombs on concrete floors like a psycho. At first I wasn't really digging Maximo and kind of felt like he was a bit out of place, but by the end all of his diva shtick came across as being really wild and vicious, like Lindsay Lohan on smack just running around scratching eyes and ripping out hair weaves. Plus there's a great bit where he tries his nonsense with Terrible and Terrible dismissively cracks him in the jaw. This is also about as good as I've seen Shocker in like fourteen years. He's barely mobile at this point, but he makes up for it by potatoing people really hard and he and Rush, like Rush and everybody else, take a turn at smacking each other in the face (which ends with Rush dumping him into the front row on top of a group of kids and pensioners. Did y'all know I fucking love Rush?). Casas/Rush is one of the best feuds I've seen in years, and this seriously feels like one of the best matches of the decade. Fuck this was awesome.