Friday, 19 February 2016

There's Nothing to it Mister, You Won't Hear a Sound, When Tenryu Brings Your Whole World Tumbling Down

Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka v Shinya Hashimoto & Nobutaka Araya (New Japan, 6/1/98) - GOOD

I could count on one hand the number of match-ups in wrestling history of which I feel like I need to see every single second that made tape. Ikeda v Ishikawa is one. Rey v Eddie is another. Lawler v Dundee have been doing their dance for a thousand years, but it's always watchable (and on more than one occasion it's been absolutely transcendent). And then of course there's Tenryu and Hashimoto. This had some clipping, but I got about eight minutes of those guys leathering each other until the cows come home and I'll watch that every day of the week. Strike exchanges in Japanese wrestling kind of suck at this point. If you're one of the four people who've read any number of these blog entries in which I talk about modern day wrestling from Japan then it won't be much of a revelation to you that I think that, but watching Tenryu and Hashimoto slabber each other like this really rams home how wack a lot of guys today are at doing strike exchanges. This isn't some goofy back and forth 'you hit me and I'll hit you' exchange where nothing seems to have any consequence because nobody will sell anything. This is two guys throwing bombs trying to put the other guy down, but it's the selling that really makes it. I don't want to sound like one of those "wrestling sucks now, it was way better back in the day" people, but I've seen so many instances of rote forearm-trading where guys (some of whom I like, btw) just stare at each other and ask for another one while showing almost no emotion or reaction that it's like...why don't more people take a page from the Tenryu/Hashimoto playbook? I mean, this crowd is going apeshit for a strike exchange in the first five minutes because both guys make it seem like it actually has consequence. I couldn't tell you the last time I watched a match from Japan where fans reacted to a strike exchange like that in the first five minutes. I'm not expecting guys these days to be as good as Tenryu or Hashimoto, but it would be cool if more people tried to ape those two rather than whoever started the current trend (was it Kobashi and Sasaki? That probably had something to do with it, surely). Anyways, whatever, Tenryu and Hashimoto knock lumps out each other and it's everything right about the pro-wrestling. Araya kind of ruled as the dude punching above his weight here as well. He really tries not to put up with Tenryu's horse shit, but obviously he ends up getting abused. There's an amazing moment where Tenryu is beating on Hash with a chair down on the floor while Araya tries to put Koshinaka away in the ring. He drops him with a brainbuster and climbs up top to finish him off, so Tenryu just launches the chair off his head and Araya tumbles off the turnbuckle.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Dandy v Fiera - Last Stop Before the Hair Match

El Dandy, Atlantis & Pierroth Jr. v La Fiera, Emilio Charles Jr. & El Satanico (CMLL, 11/13/92)

This is the feud that keeps on giving, and this is the match that finally gave me that one big tecnico revenge rampage. The rudos jump Dandy while he's doing a pre-match interview backstage, and you might be forgiven for thinking this is going to be a similar story as before, where the rudos just go on a tear and the tecnicos can't quite compete with that sort of chaos. The first caida is all rudos, but this time the tecnicos DO make the big comeback in the segunda. And what a comeback. Dandy has had to put up with so much shit during this feud. He's been strung up across the ropes with a chain, hurled into rows of seats, left bleeding all over the place, and punted repeatedly in the balls. In a lot of ways he's taken a back seat to Fiera and basically let himself be abused. Not tonight, though. This was the moment where he decided he'd had enough. When Fiera grabs the chain Dandy goes total fucking apeshit and tries to murder him, whipping him with it, wrapping it around Fiera's neck and hanging him over the ropes while referees try to claw him away. It wasn't just Dandy that dished out some payback; Atlantis and Pierroth had fire in their bellies and were also clearly fed up being whipping boys. Emilio being included on the rudo side probably bumped this up a couple levels as well. That guy is a masterful trios worker and his stuff with Atlantis never fails to rule. There was one exchange where he got completely and utterly schooled and could only resort to faking that he'd be fouled in order to save some face. I'm still trying to keep my expectations for the hair match low, but the build up has been consistently excellent.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Chicana v Perro (80s Lucha Set)

Sangre Chicana v Perro Aguayo (2/28/86)

Pretty much everything you want in a hair match. This was goddamn unbelievable and Sangre Chicana is the unquestioned ruler of the world. I don't think there's anybody in wrestling history that takes punches like him. Perro jumps him early on and Chicana's eventual punch drunk selling is absolutely incredible. Perro rips up the ring apron board and slams Chicana on top of it, then he wraps a towel around his fist and punches him some more. It was like something Jack Bauer would do to interrogate a prisoner without leaving bruises. Except Perro doesn't give a shit about concealing bruises and actively wants to leave them, so before long he ditches the towel and goes back to regular bare-fist punches. In addition to being the greatest eater of punches ever, Chicana is a complete master at timing a comeback. The whole match is full of moments that have been milked to the absolute maximum in order to get the biggest reaction possible, but Chicana waits until a couple minutes into the second caida before throwing his first punch of the match, and of course the whole fucking building shakes. Chicana's tope might also be the greatest tope ever hit. He hits the ropes at a million miles an hour (he was running so fast it looked like he might fall on his face) and just uncontrollably javelins himself out into Perro's chest. Perro's second dive wasn't far off it, though. One of my favourite things in lucha is multiple rows of people running for their lives because they know a dive is coming and the guy taking it will psychotically hurl himself four rows deep, and this is Sangre Chicana who is the biggest psycho of them all so just about every person on that side of the building has to make way. Then afterwards Perro climbs over all the seats Chicana ripped off the ground with his projectile of a body to get to Chicana again, whereupon they brawl in amongst broken chairs and scattered confectionery. Third caida might've gone on a couple minutes too long, but the heat never dies and the reaction of one Chicana fan (you'll know the one as soon as you see him) at the end is why you love the pro-wrestling. If there's also one thing this match makes you wish more than you already did it's that crowds in Mexico weren't so shoddily mic'd, because this is a fancam and the heat is 1985 Mid-South level from word one.

More Dandy/Fiera Build-Up

El Dandy, Pierroth Jr. & Ultimo Dragon v La Fiera, Negro Casas & El Supremo (CMLL, 10/30/92)

Man, if Fiera was washed up in 1992 then he was snorting some unreal chico during the Dandy feud, because he's fucking incredible in all of it. He projects a real aura of confident and deserving ringleader to every group of asshole scumbags he associates with, and that's really saying something when King of Asshole Scumbags Negro Casas is also in this match. Casas has such a palpable and undeniable charisma that it's sometimes difficult for him not to be the centre of attention - even when he doesn't appear to be trying - but Fiera is wreaking so much carnage from the front that you know those other guys are there to back HIM up. I really loved the first caida here because Fiera isn't just content to put a beating on Dandy; he wants to take his arm home with him in a sack. Long term limbwork isn't really a staple in lucha, so when it does happen it tends to stick out (especially when it's good, which this was). Everybody got chippier and chippier with each other as the match went on, to the point where you just had guys going fuck it and straight launching themselves at someone. Ultimo Dragon is one of my least favourite wrestlers of all time, but he was crazy good fun in this. His interactions with Supremo were regularly great, culminating with him unloading a flurry of super fast knees before putting Supremo right on top of his head with a snap fisherman-buster. There's one bit post-tecnico comeback where Casas and Fiera are trying to coax the other into getting in the ring, so Dandy comes running round the apron and fucking decks Fiera in the jaw. Because lucha is a cruel mistress who giveth as much as she taketh away, the Casas/Pierroth sections are tremendous and really make you want to see the singles match that probably never happened. Finish is unfortunately out of nowhere and really deflating, but Casas standing in the ring counting along with the referee while everyone else brawls on the floor was pretty great. Casas might just be the best wrestler who ever lived, you know.

El Dandy, Pierroth Jr. & Vampiro v La Fiera, Black Magic & El Supremo (CMLL, 11/6/92)

This started with Fiera whipping and choking Dandy with his chain before trying to hang him over the top rope with it, which was pretty fucking amazing, but it soon settled down a bit and never really got back up to the level of the first couple minutes. Fiera was great again, though. I'm not sure why he and Dandy have beef, but I guess maybe Dandy ran over Fiera's cat or something because Fiera hates him to DEATH. I've always considered Dandy's peak to be '89-'92, but he's clearly taken a back seat to Fiera in this feud. Maybe I'm just on a Norman Smiley high after the '94 Dandy/Llanes trios, but I thought he was really fun again in this. He's mostly all stooging and cowering, but it was good stooging and cowering and it made you want to see him get punched in the mouth, which is really the whole point. The one gripe I've had with this feud so far is that the rudos have been massive dickheads and sought to abuse the tecnicos at every turn, while the tecnicos haven't ever really been able to dish out some serious comeuppance at any point. Granted, a lot of that is down to Fiera having matches thrown out for kicking Dandy in the balls when his side seem to be losing control, but if the hair match doesn't have Dandy exacting some sweet revenge then I'm probably gonna be left wanting (I guess in that sense the trios have made me want to buy the hypothetical ticket. So, you know, they're definitely doing something right).

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Dandy v Fiera - Building to the Hair Match

El Dandy, Atlantis & Pierroth Jr. v La Fiera, Sangre Chicana & Gran Markus Jr. (CMLL, 11/20/92)

This had a ridiculous pre-match vignette with Pierroth in a Stetson on horseback. The horse then lies down for him and Pierroth stands on it like he's the horse whisperer. Yeah, I dunno. I skipped the video ahead a bit and I initially thought he'd killed it or something. Upon further inspection he did not, but I'm sure PETA would still be less than impressed. This is building to the Dandy/Fiera hair match. I actually don't think I'd previously seen anything from that feud, but if it's all like this then I should probably watch every second of it. Fiera was fucking unreal in this. The tecnicos don't even make it to the ring before the rudos swarm them, and pretty soon Dandy taps an artery. Fiera is in full on vampire mode, chewing Dandy's forehead and spitting his blood in the air, dragging him around ringside throwing him into posts and chairs. At one point Dandy staggers into the crowd bewildered and near death, so Fiera comes over and leaves him upside down on one of the seats. Fiera is relentless and utterly committed to making Dandy's life a misery, while Dandy can't mount any offence because the rudos won't leave him alone long enough to wipe the blood from his eyes. Chicana was relatively reserved in this, though he still came across as a psychopath. He'd been growing his hair out a bit and this was as long and stringy as I'd ever seen it. He looked like the girl from The Ring after crawling out the TV. Still the most charismatic motherfucker in history, though. A third caida with a big tecnico comeback might've pushed this into serious 'best trios matches of the 90s' territory, but what we did get was a hell of a rudo gang-beating and quite the set up to a hair match. Plus, if that finish doesn't make you want to see Dandy fucking kill someone then I'm not sure why you're watching the pro-wrestling.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

More Jerry Estrada, and Dandy/Llanes: The Lead-In!

Bestia Salvaje, Jerry Estrada & La Fiera v Huracan Sevilla, Blue Demon Jr. & El Hijo del Solitario (CMLL, 1/24/92)

How's that for a fucking rudo unit? Bestia, Estrada and Fiera are like a gang of scummy, sleazy rapist bandits whose faces folk put on 'WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE' posters outside taverns in Dodge City. Huracan Sevilla is the bounty hunter tasked with hunting them down. Of course he picked a shitty goddamn posse to bring along with him. He really had no chance here with these kids. Blue Demon Jr. hits a decent enough looking tope (camera doesn't quite catch it, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt), but is otherwise just kind of whatever (which I suppose is better than wretched, at least). Hijo del Solitario pisses off Fiera at some point and Fiera abuses him in tremendous fashion the rest of the time. Fiera was pretty damn inspired in this, actually; spin kicking everyone and trying to strangle Solitario's kid for ripping off his bandana. Match only went two falls and did feel pretty squashy, but LOOK at those teams. There was really only one outcome for the tecnicos, and it wasn't them walking away with that bounty. Post-match brawl was pretty awesome as well. Fiera body slams Solitario's face into the ring apron board which, I mean, c'mon. I can't even do that justice.

El Dandy, Atlantis & Ringo Mendoza v Javier Llanes, Mano Negra & Black Magic (CMLL, 2/15/94)

This is the lead-in trios to Dandy/Llanes that people had been clamoring for for years. I actually think a couple trios from the feud have surfaced now, but I know this is the first of them I've watched. It's pretty much everything you want in a lead-in trios. Dandy/Llanes is obviously the central pairing; they make no bones about that, and as a result the other four guys sort of play supporting cast, especially Atlantis and Ringo. Black Magic and Negra are very much thug henchmen here, cutting off Dandy any time he starts to build up a head of steam against their captain. This also has to be Norman Smiley's finest hour in Mexico. He wasn't the least bit tentative and looked like a natural rudo shitheel with his interference and begging off -- the perfect lackey. He's always the first to try and shut down Dandy's comebacks, takes a splat bump to the floor by literally diving through the ropes to get away from Atlantis, does an amazing Indian "war dance" to mock Mendoza, and he celebrated at the end like Llanes had just picked up the biggest win of his career. He was a true ride or die lieutenant. Mano Negra only really had a few moments to shine, but they were great moments. At one point Atlantis demands he get in the ring and fight, so he pulls on his black glove like he means business only to be promptly dropped by Atlantis. First caida isn't a TOTAL brawl, but it progressively goes down that road into the segunda, albeit in fairly one-sided manner as the rudos have no compunction about triple teaming. The tecnico comeback in the second caida is basically a Dandy comeback. He's the catalyst for it, and everything leading up to that point really meant Dandy had to kick the shit out of someone (and all three rudos do indeed get popped, with Smiley especially deserving of being punched in the mouth). Third caida almost feels like a Dandy/Llanes singles match. They go toe to toe for pretty much the entirety, but fuck if it wasn't great. Best moment of the whole match might've been when Dandy finally decided he'd had enough of Mano Negra's horse shit by stepping out onto the apron and absolutely flooring him with a right hand. Killer match.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Your Monday Evening Jerry Estrada

Jerry Estrada, La Parka & Satanico v Mascara Sagrada, Octagon & Lizmark (AAA, 6/4/93)

More of a great rudo showcase than a great match, but it was a hell of a showcase. La Parka was channeling Fuerza at points of this with his shitweasel act. Estrada being drunk as a skunk might just be an apuestas thing, because he usually seems lucid in trios and title matches. He was running the ropes here like he could actually put one foot in front of the other without tripping over himself (unlike the Stuka hair match). Satanico was surly as fuck from start to finish here. He has a bit of a 'fish out of water' feel about him working for Pena, but while he's past the point of being able to do graceful armdrag sequences or pretty workrate matwork (though I suppose that was never really his calling anyway), he'll still put the fear of god into a young tecnico. Second caida is a pretty great rudo beatdown, with Estrada making a point of yanking every tecnico into the ring post balls-first (he does it to Sagrada while La Parka stands on Sagrada's head at the same time). He also takes a headcase bump in the crowd that nearly wipes out three rows of married couples. Looked like a flyaway windshield after a car bomb went off. Satanico was probably the standout, though. The rudos tie Octagon to the top rope with the tassel on his mask, then later Satanico tries to strangle him with that same tassel, dragging him around ringside like a carcass before tying him back to the rope. The ref' then tries to pull him back so Satanico uses Octagon's flimsy belt to tie the ref' to the rope as well! Satanico was pretty much the last person you'd want to fuck with in this match. Finish also ruled, with Satanico ripping Octagon's mask clean off while Octagon was mid-springboard.