Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lawler v Dutch, Dundee v Sugar (Memphis, obv)

Jerry Lawler v Dutch Mantell (Barbed Wire Match) (Memphis, 3/29/82)

I like the No DQ match a bit more, but this is just a timeless match-up. I love how they start the match all cagey-like. Lance is great as always on commentary, saying that even hitting the ropes requires caution because of the barbed wire being so close. There are some attempts at dragging each other into the wire, but for the most part it's a lingering monster in the background and doesn't come fully into play early on. Some of the punches in this are just unbelievable. Whole last ten minutes or so are basically a game of Punch-Out!! and it's everything that's great about Lawler v Mantell brawls. The hooks, the jabs, the uppercuts, the double KO's, the punch drunk selling - everything rules. The barbed wire wasn't used a whole lot, it was more about  the punches (which I'm all for), but both guys really dug it into the other's face like they were trying to rip out eyeballs. There was one bit as well where Mantell was on the deck and just booted Lawler in the nuts, then got up and dropped the strap, and it was maybe my favourite moment in a match with about a hundred and fifty awesome Jerry Lawler/Dutch Mantell punches. Finish is pretty much perfect, I thought. Both guys are utterly spent and running on empty, and it all came down to one guy basically being lucky enough to fall down on top of the other. Epic scrap, which is exactly what you'd expect out of these guys at this point in their careers.

Bill Dundee v Sweet Brown Sugar (Scaffold Match) (Memphis, 6/21/82)

There hasn't been a scaffold match in history within a hundred miles of this, right? I mean, one or two have been "good for what they are," but it's always kind of faint praise. It's not like you can do a whole lot in a scaffold match, anyway. This is just a ton of fun though, and I can't think of any other match that manages to be so good despite such obvious limitations enforced upon it by the stipulation. Dundee as a former steel worker/circus act that's totally at home in a match like this because he has no issues with high places is so great. Some of the stuff he does is really awesome, from swinging around under the platform like a monkey to shaking said platform so Sugar loses his balance. At one point Sugar tries to throw him clean off the scaffold and for a second it looks like Dundee is heading straight for death, but he clings on and climbs back up like Spider-Man scaling a skyscraper. Koko was a blast in this as well. He never worked in the circus so he's not used to being up this high, and he has a bunch of great petrified facial expressions when it looks like he might fall.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Immortality of Virus' Fame is the Measure of Others' Torture, Burnt Offer from a Flaming Author

Virus v Dragon Lee (CMLL, 12/9/14) - EPIC

You already know Virus rocked in this. If you've seen enough Virus title matches then you know what he brings. He's basically can't-fail in a title match, and sure enough he did not fail. Dragon Lee really stepped up and impressed me a bunch, though. He was a lunatic in the Busca de un Idolo tournament and busted out some of the most spectacular highspots of last year, but this is a title match and not a seven minute sprint, so he had way more time to fill in between doing any crazy shit. And while Virus could carry just about anyone to a decent title match, Lee absolutely held up his end. Some of the first caida matwork was really great, especially how they'd fight over something like an abdominal stretch. Virus is one of those guys that makes everything look like a struggle, but Lee really wrenched and pulled at joints to get out of predicaments. Segunda was a bit short, maybe disappointingly so (although that's probably a recurring issue with modern CMLL since I don't think it was any shorter than usual), but the third caida was fucking tremendous. Lee is going to be awesome when he manages to put everything together (kid's only been wrestling for about four years), but one thing he already has down pat is his dives. Holy shit was his tope an absolute scud missile. Virus countering a running dropkick and turning it into an STF was an incredible spot (didn't look choreographed at all), and the fight over the resultant STF was great. Lee claws his way over to the ropes and reaches out to grab them, but Virus shifts the hold around to use Lee's own arm to apply a choke. Cena should steal that. Hell of a match; one of the best Virus title matches over the last few years, which is pretty high praise.

Complete & Accurate Virus

Friday, 17 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#8)

The Shield v Team Hell No & Kofi Kingston (RAW, 5/20/13)

Well this was pretty fucking great. Gets plenty of time (like around 25 minutes), they run an AWA-esque double heat segment, and everybody got to stretch out and look good. I've watched a decent chunk of the Team Hell No run (up to this point in time) since I started this...project, I guess, and the main thing I took away from it regarding Bryan is that he was super fun in all of it and him and Kane had a bunch of entertaining backstage segments. He wasn't exactly a comedy guy, but I think of him in Team Hell No as more lighthearted fun and kinda whimsical. This wasn't that Bryan. He took the fall in the tag title loss to Reigns and Rollins at the PPV, and now he is fucking pissed. He ruled in this. Dude was going a hundred miles an hour, taking guys out left and right to prove that he isn't the weak link of his team. Rollins constantly shit talking him from the apron was great as well ("c'mon, ya little weak link"), primarily because it only wound him up more and led to him killing folk worse. He hits one clothesline that about broke Rollins' neck, pulled him into a surfboard by yanking him up by his nose, and punted Ambrose all over the place. Then he went FIP and might've been even better at that. Just an incredible performance. Have I told y'all I'm a fan of The Shield? I always love how they isolate someone and seem to make an actual effort to cut the ring off, but it's also really cool how they work like they genuinely have each others' backs. When one of them gets in a little trouble, another member will do their utmost to bail them out. Even the way they communicate from the apron, like how Reigns and Rollins will clap and praise Ambrose for doing something good, or how Rollins shouts a warning when Kane tries to come in. Finishing stretch was great too, especially Bryan and Kofi's stereo topes. One of the best Shield matches up to this point and just a killer TV tag. Everything I wanted from it.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#7)

Daniel Bryan v The Miz (Night of Champions, 9/19/10)

This was total underdog babyface Bryan, and man did he rule. It's kind of strange seeing Bryan fighting from below against Miz, even in 2010, even before he blew up and became this goat-faced beard machine that got insanely over, even before he won the World Title in the main event of a fucking Wrestlemania. Like, I don't think Miz is terrible or anything (although I don't like him much, either), but Daniel Bryan/Brian Danielson as underdog against Mike Mizanin is hard to buy if you're a geek like me that's been watching Danielson stretch indy scrubs for 10+ years. It's almost unfathomable that Miz was ever a bigger deal than Bryan. Fuck, Bryan even has the hotter wife now (I'm a brunette guy). But, you know, that's not really how pro-wrestling works. Everything needs context, and within the context of 2010 WWE, Daniel Bryan working underdog against The Miz makes sense. And even if you still had a hard time buying it, Bryan sold the arm so well that it really felt like an uphill struggle for him (loved how he'd hang his arm limply by side during a strike exchange). A lot of that was down to Miz as well, though. He makes a few goofy intense facial expressions (I literally cannot buy him even having distaste for something, never mind hate), but all of his arm work looked painful and varied, and I thought he controlled the match in a believable way. There was one super nasty spot where he leans back and just rips Bryan's shoulder over the bottom rope. Thought the finishing run was great, especially Bryan recreating the crazy clothesline on the ropes bump from the McGuinness matches (side question: has Bryan ever used Cattle Mutilation in WWE?). Loved Cole's reaction to the finish as well. He was such an obnoxious douchebag at points during this, and the absolute last thing he wanted to do was give Bryan any credit for winning. Great match.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

As the World Turns, Rey Spreads Like Germs, Bless the Globe with the Pestilence, the Hard-Headed Never Learn

Rey Mysterio v CM Punk (Rey Joins S.E.S v Punk's Hair) (Over the Limit, 5/23/10)

I've watched the three PPV matches these guys had in 2010 over the last week or so, and this was definitely the best. The Wrestlemania match was a great little sprint, but the Extreme Rules match, while good, felt a bit up and down and wasn't hugely interesting in the middle. Everything clicked here, though. Punk looked visibly annoyed at the blood stoppage, but it came at an okay point considering it followed Rey's awesome bump into the barber's chair. Punk going ballistic and hurling Rey into the barricade in a bearded rage after he got patched up was great, and everything after that kept building really well. Dug Punk's facial expressions a bunch, too. He would look feral one minute, then he'd start smiling all crazy-like as if he'd come up with the master plan that'd finally work. The last sequence with Punk catching a moonsault and going for the GTS, Rey fighting out and hitting the 619 and then Punk sitting up to dodge the splash was great. Punk clutching his hair in realisation at the end is such a cool contrast to how he was stroking it and grinning at the end of the ER match. Also liked how they set up the actual head shaving. I figured they'd just go the old 'heel gets put out with a sleeper hold and wakes up bald' route, but Punk being handcuffed to the ropes and begging for mercy while Rey shaves his bloody head was great. Punk looked like a wild dog that got kicked into a helicopter propeller afterwards. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Whiskey & Wrestling Turns 400!

It's a momentous day. If you'd told me five years ago when I started a blog that it'd still be going in 2015 and I'd have written 400 entries for it I'd have laughed in your adorable face. I mean, only about ten people actually read this, but fuck it. To celebrate such an occasion I watched a few of my favourite matches ever. This might be the most positive entry Whiskey & Wrestling has ever seen. Raise a glass, brothers and sisters. Drink deep this night.

Bobby Eaton & Sweet Brown Sugar v Dutch Mantell & King Cobra (Memphis, 7/19/82)

Fuck sake, what did Eaton do to Mantell? Dutch wants to get at him in the worst way and spends the first few minutes intermittently sprinting around the ring area trying to grab him. Did Eaton wax Dutch's back hair while he was sleeping? Apparently Dutch and Cobra have had beef in the past, and they do this great spot where Dutch accidentally pops Cobra with a punch, teasing some dissension while Eaton and Koko jump around like goobers trying to instigate a fight. Then Dutch and Cobra run across and punch the two of them all over the ring. Eaton and Koko are sooooo the greatest Midnight Express that never was (wonder how many times I've said that over the course of the last 400 posts). The heat segment on Mantell was fucking terrific in this. Obviously Eaton's only willing to get within eight feet of Dutch if he's sure Dutch can't punch his face, and when he's satisfied enough that that's the case, holy shit does he unload with the offence. Crazy powerslam, a Demolition-style assisted elbow drop off the second rope, awesome looking running clothesline, and there's one bit where he and Koko take turns dropping about ten elbows in a row while the ref' tries to keep a lid on Cobra. Koko is just working the absolute hell out of the apron here. I don't think he stays in the one spot for more than five seconds. At one point he runs over to the adjacent corner and climbs the ropes so he can shit talk Cobra and a section of the crowd at the same time. I thought Dutch yanking Eaton clean off the middle turnbuckle by fucking lassoing him was wild enough, but Koko absolutely hurling himself over the top rope to get away was truly insane. Just an awesome tag match.

Dick Murdoch v Afa (WWF, 10/22/84)

100% Dick Murdoch masterclass. He basically runs through every bit of shtick he has and it's completely fucking awesome. It's a total broomstick job. Like, Afa throws a few headbutts and no-sells getting hit in the head. That's pretty much...yeah, that's it. Everything else is Murdoch being God. He cowers in the corner the first couple lock-ups when he thinks Afa's about to hit him, then when it's his turn to break clean he takes a swing. Afa of course moves so Murdoch is on his knees in the corner begging for his life. Then he gets some distance and calls Afa a cave raider. "One more time, you cave raider! One more time!" You know, as if it's Afa who's pushing his luck. He has so many ways to put over Afa's granite-hard head. He elbows him in the head and sells his own elbow, blocks a headbutt with his forearms and sells the forearms, punches him in the head and sells the fist, headbutts him and lays himself out, then Afa throws his head into the turnbuckle and he stumbles all around the ring before falling outside. Then he voluntarily headbutts the turnbuckle a bunch of times to show that his head is hard as well and ends up knocking himself out. His punch drunk, face forward bump with his butt sticking in the air is amazing, like a Hanna-Barbera character who's fallen asleep standing up. The atomic drop sell is absolutely unreal. I couldn't do this justice with words, so I won't even try. He works the majority of the match from the bottom, but his spurts of offence rule as well. He throws Dick Murdoch punches, chokes Afa with electrical cable, then undoes a tag rope and chokes him with that as well. At one point he grabs a 40 from under the ring and bonks Afa on the head with it! His reaction to Afa being unfazed when he rams his head into the mat. I'll stop now because I'd be here for ages trying to note down everything he does, but I loved all of it. I mean, you could probably say Murdoch made it all about himself and worked AROUND Afa rather than work WITH him, but Afa's rubbish so what can you really do, you know? Not a great match, but an out of this world performance and a perfect example of someone carrying a limited opponent by basically working the match around some strength of said opponent (or sole thing opponent brings to the table, since I'm not sure you can actually credit Afa complying with the 'Samoans have rock hard heads' trope as a strength).

Nobuhiko Takada v Shinya Hashimmoto (New Japan, 4/29/96)

Pretty much the perfect Tokyo Dome main event. Pretty much the perfect sub-15 minute match. Pretty much an incredible piece of pro-wrestling. Hashimoto is just the master at this kind of match. Everything he does builds drama, whether it's a stare, a grimace, or a kick that shatters ribs. He was phenomenal in this and it's one of his finest performances. Takada in this setting is a different beast from shoot-style Takada. Takada dogging it and lying around in kneebars can get to fuck, but this Takada is gravy. There's one bit where he kind of sits in a half crab and has the facial expression of someone flossing before bed, but other than that he was fairly unimpeachable in his role, and he does bring an air of legitimacy that fires the atmosphere into the clouds. I remembered this having more of a duel limb work story, with Hash going after Takada's leg and Takada going after Hash's shoulder, but I never noticed it as much this time. It was still there, but Takada's leg was more of a subtle piece of the story while Hash's shoulder was a centerpiece. Hash's selling of gradually being broken down by Takada's kicks was really something. Just about everyone in Japan for the last 10/15 years has tried to do the "gritting it out"/selling through toughness bit, but nobody has ever managed to do it like Hashimoto. Not a single person in wrestling history. This has a couple of my favourite spots from any match ever. Early in the match Hash catches Takada with a leg kick, and Takada does this amazing delayed sell of it to set up that little sub-plot (that's not one of the spots I was talking about, but it was awesome and sets one of those spots up). First spot comes when Takada has Hash on the ropes, literally, as he's peppering him with big shots while Hash tries to pull himself back to his feet. Takada won't let him out though and keeps swinging kicks, so Hash just blasts him in the guts and Takada crumples like he got lanced. Later on he has Hash rocking with kicks to the shoulder, the leg, body and head. He's going full pelt trying to put him away. He shoves him back a little to create a bit of distance, then he gears up for a big home run KO, but as he throws the kick Hash ducks down and just cuts Takada's standing leg in half with a low sweep kick. Crowd goes completely fucking ballistic. The brainbuster at the end looked like it compressed Takada's spine, and the pop for the tap out is exactly what the match had been building to. New Japan was undeniably Shinya Hashimoto's house at this point in time. It didn't really need confirmation, but I guess him having the big belt again provided it.

Eddie Guerrero v Big Show (WWE Smackdown!, 4/15/04)

I love this match to death. I love everything about it. It's maybe my favourite monster v underdog match ever, and I also think it's genuinely one of the best. Both guys were really awesome here. When I wrote about Show/Sheamus from HIAC 2012 a few days ago and I said that I never really thought of Show as a guy that managed to incorporate his size and general giganticness into a killer beatdown. Like, in terms of massive brick shit houses that can throw regular-sized people around like bags of potatoes, I wouldn't put him in the same bracket as Mark Henry. He was great in that Sheamus match, though, and he was even better in this. I don't remember him coming off as such an unfuckwithable presence before. It helps that Eddie was on some next level underdog babyface shit, but it takes two to make something this good. All of Show's arm work looked amazing. He hoists Eddie about eight feet in the air with an arm wringer and then holds him up there, applies a one-handed armbar while squeezing the rotator cuff with the other hand (his hand covers the entire shoulder), stretches Eddie out by wrapping him in a hammerlock around the turnbuckle bolt, drops massive elbows on the shoulder joint, headbutts the arm; just a bunch of awesome stuff. Eddie was as scrappy as I've ever seen him here. All of his hope spots where things you could see someone doing in a real fight against a massive man trying to pull your arm off. You can't do much when you're the size of Eddie against a guy the size of Show. You can't pick him up. You can't take him down. You can stomp on his toes, though. You can yank his chest hair out (THAT fucking ruled). Grabbing a wrench from under the ring and stuffing it in Show's boot as a distraction is such a cool Eddie Guerrero thing to do. Show is so great at pleading his case to the ref' as well. "That's not mine! I had nothin' to do with that!" Eddie unloading with a barrage of punches while Show's guard was down felt like Sting going fuck it and laying into Vader after being pummeled for ten minutes. Finish is great. Ref' gets bumped and Show grabs Eddie for the chokeslam, but Eddie kicks him in the plums and then drops him with a DDT and Frog Splash. I've watched a few corkers of WWE TV matches recently, but this might be the best of the lot. I'm not totally locked into the idea that it's the best Smackdown! match in history, but it is waaaaaay in the discussion.

Here's to four hunner more!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Drew McIntyre! Was Really Fucking Good!

Drew McIntyre v Kofi Kingston (Fatal 4-Way, 6/20/10)

I thought Kofi/Ambrose might've been Kofi's best match (well, it was the best I'd seen at that point, at least), but this was better. This was really fucking good, and I thought Kofi absolutely held up his end again. He bumped well and he sold the arm well, both during and after the armwork. There was one cool bit where he does his boom/clap set-up to Trouble in Paradise and actually sells the arm after he claps, like he forgot about the bad shoulder and that clap jarred it again. So yeah, that was neat and people would've lost their shit for it if Bryan or Ambrose did it. Your mileage'll vary on the strikes of course, but that poor horse be fucking dead y'all so we'll leave it well alone. Still, this was Drew's show. He had so much awesome offence around this time. Was there anyone in the company who had as many interesting ways to work over a body part? I love how he'd take over matches by using parts of the ring to injure someone. This doesn't have as cool a spot as the Christian match, it's just a plain old ram into the ring post, but it's effective. Dug all the arm work, especially the Codebreaker to the shoulder. He also threw a corker of a bit boot at one point right to the arm. Kofi's float-over DDT to start his comeback was a great spot. Didn't look contrived or silly at all and you know Drew took it straight on his cranium. I don't really remember anything about the Teddy Long storyline that was happening, but the crowd went pretty ape shit for him standing up to Drew, and it all made the whole thing feel pretty big. Strong PPV opener.

Drew McIntyre v Christian (Smackdown!, 7/30/10)

Yeah, this held up. Pretty much the perfect TV match. These guys are just a match-up made in pro-wrestling geek heaven, because Drew has amazing ways to work an arm and Christian was pretty much the God of selling an arm injury for a while there. They don't do much of a shine segment at the start; it's basically a minute or two where Drew takes a couple killer bumps on the floor (the bump into the ring apron off the dropkick was so great), then they head into the arm work off the amazing transition spot where Drew smashes Christian's shoulder into the metal frame of the ring. Has anybody else ever done that spot before? I really can't remember seeing it. All of the arm work from then on out ruled, as did Christian's sell of it. The shoulderbreaker on the ring steps is just a holy shit level spot, all of his armbars looked nasty, and Christian sells by wiggling his fingers around like he's got nerve damage. Christian keeps on selling all the way to the end and the finish leaves a rematch on the table, and you can't really ask for much more from a wrestling match on free TV.

Drew McIntyre v Chris Masters (Superstars, 8/26/10)

Man, this wasn't a whole ways off the Christian match. I mean, these two have legit cases for being the best heel and babyface in the company in 2010 (I'm probably at the point where I'd say McIntyre was the best heel. Masters has a bit more competition for best babyface), and this was about what you'd expect out of guys at that level. McIntyre taking over by throwing Masters' leg into the post was another great transition spot from a guy that had a ton of great ways to take over a match. All of his leg work was great, which shouldn't surprise anyone. At one point he dropkicks Masters in the knee and it looked fucking awesome. When did people actually stop and go, "right, hold up here. Chris Masters really fucking rules at the pro-wrestling"? He obviously never got this good overnight so I'm wondering if there weren't always signs. Maybe someone needs to go back and watch his first run. His sell of the leg was pretty fantastic here. He hobbled around and always showed at least discomfort, and I love him throwing desperate chops from his knees. The leg comes into play again at the finish, and this is another match on free TV that you can't really ask for much more from.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#6)

Sheamus v Big Show (Hell in a Cell, 10/28/12)

My first thought when I see these two matching up is, "I want this to be a slugfest." And that's what this was. Both guys were pretty great in their roles here. Sheamus almost works this like he's Rey Mysterio, or even how Rey Mysterio would work if he was against Sheamus (did those two ever have a match, btw? That sounds like it could be money), but instead of hope spots built around springboards and armdrags, Sheamus' hope spots are built around him trying to slabber Show. Show was a demon in control. He's obviously naturally imposing, but I don't really think of him as a guy that's always great at translating that into a killer beatdown. He was totally Henry-esque in this though, emphatically cutting Sheamus off, chucking him all over the place (the bumps over the top rope were great, but the table bump was spectacular), and he really went Hashimoto with the overhand chops. Sheamus' chest looked like a chewed up hamburger by the end. Dug how Show showed gradual frustration throughout the match as well, similar to the Del Rio LMS match (which he was amazing in). After every kickout he loses a little confidence, a little poise, and when even the KO Punch can't put Sheamus away he's about ready to have a fit. Everything in the finishing run looked brutal. The KO Punch and Brogue Kick were two of the most protected finishers in the company at the time (still are, actually), so both kickouts felt huge, but neither felt cheap. I figured another KO Punch was coming when Sheamus was gearing up for the second Brogue Kick, but that never made it look any less awesome. Hell of a finish. Is this one of the best matches either guy's ever had? It's not the best WWE match of the year since 2012 was the year of Cena/Lesnar, but it could be top 10 (I say that as if I'll ever get around to watching enough 2012 footage to even know what a top 10 would look like).

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#5)

Dean Ambrose v Kofi Kingston (Extreme Rules, 5/19/13)

Pretty quality sub-ten minute match, probably the best Kofi match I've ever seen and maybe the best Ambrose (in WWE, I mean) singles match up to that point. Match actually feels sort of Nitro-ish in the best way possible, like both guys knew they only had ten minutes and decided to just cut the fat and go flat out. It wasn't really a sprint, but they never messed about, either. Ambrose's offence wasn't as wild and reckless as it usually is, but he still busted out some great stuff. Like, he looked more like a pro-wrestler in this rather than a psychopath that's stolen riot gear and flinging himself at people. His double underhook superplex was a great spot, and there's one bit where Kofi goes for a leaping something and Ambrose just yanks him out the air right into a crossface chicken wing. He also has some awesome facial expressions, like the "okay, so we're doing this now?" smirk after Kofi kicks out of the aforementioned superplex. I have to go to bat for Kofi here as well. This was about as on point a babyface performance as you could want out of him He gets the crowd going with the massive height he gets on leapfrogs and cross bodies, he does some cool lingering selling of the chicken wing by hanging his arm by his side for a few minutes afterwards, and yes, most of his offence looked good. Trouble in Paradise especially came off better than I've ever seen it before (helped that Ambrose took it clean in the face like a fucking nutter, mind you), then when he tries it a second time he ends up taking a nice bump into thw ropes. Ambrose post-match: "gimme that fuckin' belt." I also LOVE the other two Shield members coming down and celebrating with him in the ring afterwards. Made the US title feel special and like this was a title change that held some weight. I adore The Shield and this was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#4)

CM Punk v Randy Orton (Last Man Standing) (Extreme Rules, 5/1/11)

I watched the 1/11/13 Big Show v Alberto Del Rio Last Man Standing match yesterday. It was great, maybe the best Del Rio match ever and one of the best of Show's career, but I wouldn't have said I was all that high on the Last Man Standing gimmick. That said, I can think of a decent handful of WWE LMS matches that I'd call really good. This wasn't as good as Show/Del Rio (or Cena/Umaga, obv), but I thought it hit really good level pretty comfortably. I'm honestly not a massive Punk fan, but the guy can be super great on a micro level. Just with awesome little touches here and there. Some of his mocking shtick was a blast in this, like when he does his running knee in the corner and shit talks Orton for a few seconds before going for the bulldog. For a PPV opener this managed to feel like a pretty brutal war with some killer bumps. Orton's back suplex across the guardrail looked sick, there was a nasty Russian leg sweep on a chair, and in a totally crazy spot Punk wrapped a chair around Orton's throat and flung him straight into the ring post. Orton ate it like a fucking psycho as well and I'm wondering how his trachea never got crushed. I'm not sure if they were using sturdier kendo sticks than usual, but every shot looked seriously painful, both guys sold the shit out of them (especially Orton, who really writhed around like he was getting the cat o' nine tails treatment), and they left welts on bodies. Also liked Punk using one as a makeshift walking stick towards the end, hobbling around like the old arthritis-afflicted Hapkido master in a martial arts flick. Don't think they moved from spot to spot down the stretch as well as something like Show/Del Rio, and it never felt as organic as that match either, but the finish was suitably big. This feels like one of the best PPV openers of the decade and I'm surprised I haven't seen it pimped before. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

It Ain't Hard to Tell, Rey Kicks a Skill Like Shaquille Holds a Pill

Rey Mysterio v The Undertaker (Royal Rumble, 1/31/10)

This is a really cool match-up to me on paper. Rey flying around and Undertaker plucking him out the air like a zombie Anthony Davis sounds like a fun prospect, and it more or less worked in practice just like I hoped. Some of the early spots ruled, like Undertaker just throwing Rey clean over the ropes to the floor to cut off a strike flurry, Undertaker's punch while Rey goes up for a springboard (Rey's bump looked awesome), and at one point Rey tries a splash and Undertaker hits a big boot while Rey's mid-flight. It creates a pretty cool dynamic of Rey having to take to the air even more often than normal, just because being close to Undertaker is so dangerous. Unfortunately they don't do as much cool stuff in the middle of the match and instead have Undertaker kind of work "methodical." That's not bad by any means, but it doesn't really play to the main strengths of Rey either. I did like Rey frantically kneeing Undertaker in the face to get out of the Tombstone, which wound up giving Taker a bloodied nose, and Rey doing a sliding dropkick as Undertaker sits up was great. Cool finish as well, with one of the best, most emphatic Last Rides ever.

Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston & John Morrison v The Miz, Alberto Del Rio & R-Truth (Summerslam, 8/14/11)

Fun PPV opener; not quite as good as some of the multi-man stuff from the last couple years, but this is still one of my favourite ways to watch wrestling so of course I dug it. Everyone got to do a bit, though Kofi was the prominent guy on the babyface end and I'd rather it was someone not him. He gets massive hang time when he jumps so the beginning of all his highspots look good, but then they connect and look lousy. He goes from Kevin Von Erich to...well, Kofi Kingston is basically shorthand for lousy looking offence at this point, so I guess he goes from Kevin Von Erich to Kofi Kingston over the course of a move. He'll at least bump around all rubbery now and then. Rey wasn't featured much - rather than playing FIP he come in off the hot tag, so we never got a beatdown, but we did get him zipping around taking guys out. Dive train at the end was sweet. Kofi gets huuuge height off the springboard. Then he just sort of falls down to earth like Wile E. Coyote when he walks off a cliff like aw shit what the heck do I do now.

Rey Project

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#3)

Mark Henry v Randy Orton (Night of Champions, 9/18/11)

This was peak Hall of Pain Henry so you know he ruled in it, but I thought Orton was right there with him and more than held up his end of a match I thought was pretty damn great. He has to stick and move early on and goes to the sleeper, but Henry takes over by just swiping him across the ear with a big old paw  that sends Orton crashing from the top rope to the floor. Henry is one of the most imposing guys ever working from the top like this. He flings folk around, makes people bounce off him, and his smack talk is always great. Orton's middle rope DDT was put over huge here. He tries it a couple times and Henry fights him off, and the commentary makes you wonder if he can even lift Henry into position for it. When he eventually does manage to hit it it feels like a serious game changer, and Henry takes the bump flat on his face. Loved the finish. Orton knows it's over, but he'll die on his sword and go for the RKO anyway, and that World's Strongest Slam is one of the more emphatic heel title win moments in a long time. I remember watching this live and wondering if they'd actually pull the trigger on Henry. Judging by the reaction in the building at the time, I wasn't the only one.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Catching up with 2010s WWE (#2)

Dean Ambrose v Kane (Smackdown!, 5/3/13)

Not having been subjected to a whole shit ton of rubbish Kane stuff over the last few years is probably why I'm not quite as sick to death of him as everybody else is. I mean, I don't have any interest whatsoever in watching Authority Kane, but I've seen a bunch of the Team Hell No run now and I've actually thought it was a pretty good run all things considered (and not just because of Bryan). This felt like one of the better Kane singles matches ever, and he held up his end of it. Kane cleaning house at the start looks great because the Shield will really fling themselves all over the place for him. Reigns' bump is especially great, clearing the announce desk and piledriving himself onto a swivel chair. Ambrose ruled in this. He takes over with some leg breaker thing (Kane tries to hit a big boot in the corner, so Ambrose catches the leg and sort of, like...does a Stunner to the leg? Looked like it'd hyper-extend the knee whatever it was) and has some nice stuff to work the leg, including a cool spinning toe hold around the ring post. To his credit Kane sells all of it pretty well, too. More Shield interference leads to Rollins taking a sick table bump, and I think this is about the time Ambrose debuted Dirty Deed as a finisher based on how Cole reacts to it scoring the win. Is this Shield run the closest WWE ever got to the Dangerous Alliance? I haven't watched the whole run yet, but they seemed to be having good matches practically every week, sometimes twice a week, had a ton of fun stuff against any number of babyface combinations, and the best stuff I've seen so far is GREAT. They never had a Wargames type blooodbath, but the Wyatts stuff is a pretty fucking good trade-off, and I think that Elimination Chamber match is right there with the best DA matches.