Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, May 25, 2018

Inside La Parka's Burning I Can See Clear Through

La Parka/Psicosis/Villano IV vs. Juventud Guerrera/Silver King/Hector Garza WCW 6/30/97 - GREAT

PAS: This was a dark match for a Nitro and all six guys just went all out for seven minutes. Everyone was moving at a pretty breakneck speed, Villano IV is a stout guy, but he is flying all over the place, and even hits a great looking tope. La Parka comes off like such a big star in matches like this, even when he isn't the guy doing the most work. I like how they mixed in some classic lucha trios spots like the Star and everyone missing dives from the top. WCW Lucha trios were so much fun I really wish they ran them on every TV show and we had hundreds to watch, cool that a HH showed up though, I imagine there are dozens of house show trios which were just as good.


ER: So many of us were so lucky to have been exposed to lucha through WCW trios matches, just a bunch of unselfish guys trying out material, knowing they weren't even making tape but still going all out on a Nitro dark march (though I guess there's a chance they didn't realize it was dark...). What I loved about these guys going all out in a Vegas dark match, was they structured the match so that 2/3 of the moves missed. I don't know if I've seen that before. By the end of the match we got a few big dives, bullet topes from Villano and Juvi, Silver King's plancha, and a huge hangtime crossbody from Psychosis; but outside of the traditional multiman lucha spots (the Star, the tandem surfboards while Juvi crawled underneath everyone for a nearfall), most of the moves were designed to miss! We had a huge section where everybody misses splashes and sentons off the top rope, and the crowd gets more and more excited the more guys dive into an empty pool! But it's not just missed top rope moves, a lot of spots are set up by guys missing everything: missed dropkicks, missed clotheslines, missed spinning heel kicks, all misses! Most of the bumps in this match come from guys missing their moves. I've never seen a match so built around offense completely missing. La Parka and V4 were my favorite guys in the match. V4 threw a couple hard lariats and was working like a little bulldozer. Parka gets easily the best reactions of the match, that guy could have been a real superstar in WCW. Phil is right that he always stood out in matches like this, even with everyone doing crazy things, he had such a style to his hits and misses. Here he's taking bumps bigger than 1997 Psychosis, which are indeed huge bumps. Watch him violently miss that upside down in the buckles bump, and listen to the crowd get louder everytime he runs in and cuts someone off. Silver King took a big spill early to the floor, V4 and Parka had a contest to see who could take a bigger backdrop bump, and it really is a shame that so many other matches just like this just weren't recorded. There is no excuse for WWF/WCW to not be setting up a hard cam at house shows for the past 30 years. No vision.


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE LA PARKA

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Psicosis and Rey are Never Sweating Your Girl Cause She's a Skeezoid

Rey Mysterio Jr./Konan vs Psicosis/Damien 666 AAA 7/5/96 - GREAT

PAS: This was a cage match at a AAA sold show in Arizona which all of these guys worked after they had already left AAA. This was a total TJ style cluster fuck, with everyone hurling weapons at each other and taking silly bumps. In some ways it is a waste to have guys as talented as Rey and Psic working Tommy Dreamer matches, but if the guys are as talented as Rey and Psic they are going to be really good Tommy Dreamer matches. Psicosis especially takes a bunch of really nuts spots, he does a missed somersault legdrop with a chair underneath, which I am sure wasted his tailbone. Lady Victoria was in the cage the whole time and ends up getting VCR chucked right at her head. There is a dozen run ins at the end, including Halloween getting a pumpkin placed on his head to get chair shotted, the pumpkin falls off and he eats the chair full on the top of his dome. Enjoyable chaos, although the ECWizing of lucha was a bit much

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE RIVALS

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW Pro 4/6/96 & 4/13/96 Redux

ER: Rachel and I had some drinks on a Saturday, and played Tokyo Jungle, then I got the craving to watch some WCW syndicated pro wrestling. What I didn't realize, was that I grabbed a disc of WCW Pro that I already reviewed, three years prior. I obviously had no memory of it, it all felt new to me, but I went through two full episodes of Pro before finding the old reviews. So I thought it would be fun to post both of my reviews side by side, with drunk me from Saturday night, reviewing the same matches as (presumably also drunk) me from 2015. It's kind of fun to see me comment on different things in the matches, comment on things I possibly missed, but also make some of the exact same jokes, and act like I'm saying something profound and for the first time (when I turns out I had some of the same revelations years earlier, apparently). Oh, and also, I skipped the Konnan match. Once I knew I had already watched it, I decided that in life there's just no need for a man to double up on Konnan matches. Here are the musings from the two viewing sessions:

4/6/96

Barrio Brothers vs. Craig Pittman/Jim Duggan

ER15: I have no memory of Sierra and Santana actually being called "Fidel Barrio and Ricky Barrio". I mean I have no memory of Ricky Santana in WCW, let alone as Ricky Barrio. And this was not good.   Sierra leaned out of all of Duggan's clotheslines (which were not thrown with much authority anyway), and then Pittman/Duggan just worked arm wringers on Sierra for what felt like 3 minutes. This has a classic WCW syndicated finish. The call to go home happens right at the 4 minute mark, except only the ref and Duggan know about it, so Santana breaks up the pin at the 2 count and Nick Patrick just calls for the bell anyway. This really seems like it happens every few shows. I mean Santana literally pulled Duggan by the leg off of Sierra, and Patrick didn't even count the 3, just called for the bell after 2. Usually it seems to happen in Konnan matches.


ER18: Whoa I had no idea Pittman and Duggan were ever a team, and this starts the night off with classic innocent 90s jingoism. A flag waver and a drill sergeant taking on a couple of mulleted ambiguously brown people. But it's strange to me that a team of Cuban/Puerto Rican workers wouldn't be huge territory babyfaces at the Florida tapings. If they did there shows in a Florida neighborhood and not a theme park for white families, you would get a totally flipped reaction running this match. I want the entire fucking series. Duggan throws some big meaty fists and I am much more of a Duggan apologist the older I get. This was fun, though I wish it had a bit more clubbering and less "Pittman holding an arm". Still, there were some nice shots, Santana takes a big backdrop bump, you'd dig this.

Scott Norton vs. One Man Gang

ER15: I had no idea these two ever matched up, and right when Gang came out I realized it was a match I REALLY wanted to see without having ever thought about it existing before. Like, Norton walked out and I was like "oh okay, a Norton singles match. Didn't realize he was getting singles matches this early in WCW." and then Gang came out and I was like "I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD!!!" I had no idea Gang was still working WCW at this point. The Konnan US Title loss was a few months before, and I don't remember much of him after that. So was surprised to see him pop up here. And it was awesome. BUT only 3 minutes long. Heartbreaking. But these 3 minutes are really good with both men working stiff with big clubbing blows and punches. Gang towers over Norton here which shocked me. I mean Gang looked enormous here, a good 6" over Norton. Rachel, not knowing the size of these two relative to others, thought Gang was Big Show size. Really carried himself like a giant, but worked really quick here. He took a huge bump off a Norton lariat, hit a super fast avalanche in the corner, really able to both bully Norton around while also look vulnerable. Norton will never have a problem clubbing a dude, and the match-ending powerslam he hits on Gang was epic. Picture Norton doing his normal fast high arc powerslam, but to a guy as large as Gang. Crazy finish. Two more minutes, shoot probably even one more minute and this would be a great find. As it is, it's wonderful, and they cram a lot of stiff action into three minutes, but just needed a *bit* more.

ER18: Ohhhhhh shit this is a big boy banger right here! One Man Gang is such an undeniable wrestling badass. He throws these hard downward elbows, big fists, and has a couple different super nasty face rakes on Norton, ripping at his nose and clawing at his mouth. No more than one minute into the match, this turns into a straight up shoot, as Norton stands up and punches Gang right in the fucking ear a couple times. This cruelly only goes 2.5 minutes, and you want 5 more minutes of these two beating the shit out of each other, but Norton hits a big ass rotating powerslam for the win, and I can't complain too much. But with even 2 more minutes this match would be legendary status.

Men at Work vs. Public Enemy

ER15: Boy there were a lot of Public Enemy tags on syndicated WCW TV. Many of them not good. This one? This one totally worked. PE just throw out nothing but clotheslines, and Mark Starr and Kanyon bump all over the place for the clotheslines. Men at Work would gain a minor advantage, stop and mockingly do the PE dance for all the white-shirted losers, and then PE would hit another clothesline. Clotheslines all around! Sometimes double clotheslines! There were no less than 13 clotheslines in this match. Clothesline, flat back bump. Then Rocco hit the asai moonsault on both guys, and put it away with the Drive-By. There must have been some kind of in-joke here. Or, Grunge and Rock just wanted to throw all of the clotheslines, and Men at Work had no problem with that. Men at Work did throw a nice double elbow drop at one point. Whatever, this all worked for me. Most of these guys are dead now.

ER18: Well, when you watch wrestling from 20+ years ago, you're going to eventually hit a match where everybody in it has been dead for 5+ years, and it takes the mood into total Bummersville. But these guys ain't dead in April '96, and this match rules. There must have been a backstage bet going on at these tapings because we've seen some nice stiff work from everyone tonight. Men at Work were a fun team that probably never had the chance at a great match, but they worked as really fun fake Barry Windhams. PE kinda suck but Rock's somersault senton lands hard, and the match was good.

Shark vs. Pez Whatley

ER15: Tenta...doesn't give Pez a whole lot here. There's a good leapfrog segment that allows Pez to show off his hops, Tenta crushes him with a nice elbow, hits a real nice falling slam, steps on him a bunch. After Shark gets the never-in-doubt win, Chris Cruise says "Well...it would appear...that maybe Pez Whatley never had a chance." It would appear so.

ER18: Pez goes for a single leg and Dusty freaks the fuck out and starts screaming that Pez is trying to bite Shark in the knee. Shark's singlet is one of my favorite outfits in wrestling. I love Tenta. Shark hits a big elbow drop and leg drop, big avalanche, hits the Shark Attack reverse bulldog (a pretty cool finisher that was only used a short time). We're on a pretty bleak run of dead guy competitors, and Pez really didn't offer a ton, but I always love seeing Tenta.

Ice Train vs. Lex Luger

ER15: So before you know what happens in this match, let me ask you how you would have guessed this match going. I would have guessed "test of strength, couple of shoulderblocks where neither man goes down, Ice Train gets a miniscule advantage, Luger calls for it to go home out of nowhere 2 minutes in." That sounds like exactly what you were picturing, right? Don't act like you expected this - what actually happened:

The match went almost 10 minutes, Luger gave Ice Train practically the WHOLE match, Ice Train won by DQ when Jimmy Hart attacked him with the megaphone, then Luger got punked out by Norton and Train after the match. Seriously. That's what happened. Luger stooged for Train the whole match. Train worked over Luger's arm and Luger put it over huge, sold his left arm, clutching it to his side, even setting up runs for Ice Train by doing things like missing a corner charge with his bad shoulder/arm. He gives Train everything. He even puts over Train's strength by going for a pinfall and then comically launching himself off of Train on the kickoff. And Ice Train really really really does not make the most of this gift. He looks so bad throughout so much of this. His punches are just impossibly bad. His arm work and Fujiwara armbar are surprisingly good, even tossing out a legdrop to Luger's wing at one point. But then he went and hit the worst drop toe hold I've ever seen. Luger didn't know what it was supposed to be. None of the announcers had any idea what it was supposed to be.

Actual exchange after the alleged drop toe hold:

Chris Cruise: Well I...believe that may have been some...maybe a drop toe hold?
Larry Z: Well we might never know unless we get...Quincy on the case.
Cruise: Quincy!?
Dusty: Quincy!! Quincy hasn't been on the air in 10 years!
Cruise: Maybe 20!
Larry Z: Look...with 80 cable channels you can find anything...
Dusty: Quincy Adams! Quincy Jones!
Larry Z: You know what...

Norton runs in after the interference, Luger clubs him and Norton completely no sells it, then Luger BEGS OFF!

I mean, this was awesome. Luger just totally stooged the whole time for a guy who really didn't deserve it. 1996 Luger has been just so consistently good.

ER18: Luger in '96 was really good, and I'm not sure why a bunch of us were such idiots back then. Was it always uncool to like Luger, like it would take points off your smart cred? Luger in '96 was like Big Match John Cena, if he embraced a heel side. Luger had this cocky smirk and gave Ice Train 4 straight minutes of big bump selling, getting leveled by shoulderblocks, stumbling and falling on his face, begging off, and after that he starts raking Train's face on the ropes and dropping big man elbows. He grabs a bearhug on a guy bigger than him, AND IT LEADS TO AN ICE TRAIN BEARHUG REVERSAL!! Ice Train pulls of a credible press slam kick out. Luger hits a big backdrop slam that Ice Train has the balls to stand right up from and Ice Up. And Luger generously shows more ass, taking a backdrop bump, getting DQ'd when Jimmy Hart hits Train with the megaphone, begging off from Scott Norton postmatch and eating a double clothesline. Luger was a fucking god in 1996. He is so much better than people ever gave him credit for.

4/13/96

State Patrol vs. Fire & Ice

ER15: This was really fun, and according to Chris Cruise the debut of Fire & Ice!! Historic!! Parker is a guy who won't back down and he jumps Train and immediately stiffs him up. It doesn't last long as Train gives Buddy a massive backdrop and a lariat right into Parker's throat, then Norton tags in and steamrolls him with a shoulderblock. State Patrol get to double team him for a bit, choking him out on the ropes and clubbing him, until Norton does a cool double vertical suplex on them. Finish is Norton hitting his nasty shoulderbreaker on Parker followed up with a huge standing splash from Train. Really fun tag.

ER18: Chris Cruise is saying this is the first time we've seen the Fire & Ice team, I am on such a great run of Pro because you know all of these dudes are gonna beat the shit out of each other. State Patrol are probably a team worth of a Complete & Accurate (though I'm leaning Beverly Brothers), and Parker is great. A C&A Buddy Lee Parker really should happen. He stiffs up Ice Train with elbows, takes a ridiculously high backdrop bump, eats a shoulderblock from Scott Norton that would separate my shoulder, but work convincing double teams and strike hard. Fire & Ice dish it right back though, and Norton hits an absolutely world shattering shoulderbreaker on Wright (rough enough that Rachel asked if those were illegal now), and Train laid it in with a super high Big E style splash. This was really damn good.

V.K. Wallstreet vs. Cobra

ER15: This was maybe the most offense I've ever seen Cobra get. He throws a nice dropkick, some decent-ish punches, threw a really nice high arc powerslam. A lot of guys threw pretty nice powerslams during this era WCW. But Cobra really was a guy who seemed green for several years. I once saw somebody selling a "Super J" comp tape from their tapelist. I assumed initially that it was some Super J Tourney Comp, but no, it was legitimately a Jeff Farmer comp, just during the time he went by Super J. That is probably the weirdest comp tape I've ever seen.

ER18: Cobra is a guy who really should have better, but he was a fun generically handsome 90s straight to video hero, the kind you'd see opposite of Lance Henriksen and think "Man why doesn't this Lance Henriksen guy get better gigs?" Wallstreet has a rep as a boring guy who would hold an abdominal stretch too long, but he's popped up for me in a few weirdly good performances these last few months. He had an awesome IRS/Kerry Von Erich match that I'd never seen before, that had this cool section with KVE fighting for a claw and IRS trying to tangle him up in the ropes. And here Wallstreet is throwing sharp back elbows and big shoulderblocks against a big dude, planting him with a powerslam, really looking like a tough guy. There are some good Rotundo performances out there, and I'm happy for him.

ER18: We get an amusing promo from Ric Flair, sitting with champagne in front of a lavender backdrop, with Woman at his side and Elizabeth lying down behind him like Simone Simon in Cat People, and Flair just talks about what a lucky guy he is and how much he loves women and how jealous Randy Savage must be of him. This guy needs a beating.

The Giant vs. Butch Long/NOT THEE Manny Fernandez

ER15: Manny Fernandez is announced as Vern Henderson here. I always feel for jobbers when they get their name announced wrong. But an onscreen graphic to boot? Ouch. So Manny and Long didn't actually get any offense here. I'll give you time to collect yourselves. Giant threw a nice corner clothesline, and (recurring theme!) a big powerslam. Cool spot where Manny was trying a single leg on Giant, Long flew in with a crossbody that got caught, Giant did a huge kneelift to Manny and then a fallaway slam on Long. This maybe went 90 seconds.

ER18: Manny and Butch have sorta matching tights. Were they going to be a regular team that ended up forgotten and lower on the totem pole than Disorderly Conduct? Sadly for Mr. Fernandez, the prematch graphic said he was Vern Henderson. Chris Cruise does him right during the match and calls him by his true name, but man that's gotta be frustrating to show up on TV and not even get to see your name. Giant shows off some cool stuff, a big powerslam, a great kneelift, throwing a guy like a basketball into the other's face, a fun throwback squash. Both guys were big enough that it looked extra impressive.

Men at Work vs. Brad Armstrong/Steve Armstrong

ER15: This was awesome. It's a fun example of WCW syndicated hierarchy, as there are still matches that surprise me with who's going over. I didn't see Norton going over One Man Gang, and here it was more of a toss-up. Armstrongs don't win a lot, neither do Men at Work. Armstrongs won this one, but ask yourself if the result wouldn't have been different if it were Scott and Steve instead of Brad and Steve. Steve/Scott seems like a team that could feasibly lose to Men at Work. But man this was good. Starr and Brad had glorious slicked down tightly curled mullets, you got a shit ton of dropkicks (and Brad is a guy with a great dropkick), Kanyon showed off a beautiful piece of underrated pro wrestling by nailing Brad with a big right hand coming out of an arm wringer (think about it, picture a guy doing an arm wringer, twisting up and under, only to be met with a right hand on the other side. You love it.), Steve continues the TREND by hitting a big rotating powerslam on Starr  (seriously, EVERYbody did a powerslam and it's the best), Kanyon predicts indie wrestling 15 years into the future by hitting a urunage onto his own knee, and that early match urunage leads to a great finish where Brad scouts it, reverses it later when Kanyon goes for it and slips right out the back into a dynamite Russian legsweep. This was just wonderful classic tag wrestling.

ER18: Armstrongs were so safe and wholesome and professional. They're working axe handle to arm spots, they're throwing armdrags and dropkicks, they're setting up miscommunication spots with Men at Work colliding on a rope running spot, and the white middle class fans are eating it all up! Steve hits this great high angle powerslam like he was Rick Steiner, but Kanyon drops a pitch perfect elbow drop across the back of Armstrong's head while he's pinning Starr. Seriously the perfect elbow. We get a nice long FIP section with Starr capturing Steve in a body vice and Kanyon dropping knees. We get a cutaway that makes Scott Armstrong look like a real weirdo: He's been out there the whole time at ringside, rooting for his boys, and wearing black windbreaker pants and a turquoise Universal Studios shirt tucking into them. And 3 minutes into the match we get a camera angle way from the back of the studio, a crane shot moving away from the action, the kind they use to get a look at the crowd...and all of the ring crew visible in the shot (camera man on the apron (a role that doesn't exist in modern TV wrestling), camera man on the floor, guy in charge of how much slack cable a camera operator needs)...are wearing the exact same thing as Scott Armstrong. They all got tucked in Universal Studios shirts, tucked into their black workout pants. Why did Scott Armstrong come out to ringside, wearing the exact same gear as the WCW ring crew? He could have worn anything. You don't want to be the guy wearing a red polo and khackis to Target. Did the Universal Studios security not believe Scott Armstrong was a wrestler so he had to sneak to ringside as a member of the ring crew? I'm so in the weeds on this clothing choice. Earlier in the match Steve Armstrong went for O'Connor roll and Kanyon broke it up by waiting for Starr to kick out, then hitting a uranage backbreaker on Armstrong. I thought it was dumb, as it was a bit too much of Kanyon's NOVA-ish side, but more that he was just assuming Starr would kick out. "I'm gonna hit this big innovative move once my partner kicks out of that plausible pinfall." BUT at the end of the match Brad gets an O'Connor roll on Starr, Starr kicks out, Kanyon grabs Brad in a uranage...and Brad reverses it to snap off a Russian leg sweep for the win. That move that I thought stood out as stupid, paid off in the end, and I left this match a happy man, other than the fact that I will never ever get an explanation for Scott Armstong's attire.

Lex Luger vs. Vern Henderson

ER15: Henderson is a fun old roided guy who pops up a couple times of year in WCW. He always tries, attempts offense he probably shouldn't, and takes at least one big bump a match. I always smile when Vern pops up. Luger is a little more controlling here than he was against Ice Train, but he still gives Vern a lot. Vern breaks out a neat little floatover armdrag that you wouldn't expect him to, and as advertised gets tossed to the floor and takes a big back bump without getting slowed down by the ropes. His punches are bad and Zbyszko calls out how awful his hammerlock is. "Luger must just be letting him put that thing on to be kind!" Luger hits a powerslam (THEME!) and runs nicely into Vern's corner boot. But then it's torture rack time. Fun little match. Luger was like Bill Dundee in terms of 1996 WCW studio taping mastery.

ER18: We get two straight weeks of Luger main events, and Vern Henderson gets his name graphic on two different matches AND a main event slot. Vern Henderson is having the best week ever! But then Dusty calls him Florence Henderson, and that good week window slams shut. Henderson is an older musclehead that I always end up liking, he bumps big for a guy who looks like he can't move his torso much, and he always tries new offense that he's probably too big for. Luger is way too generous in these matches but it's awesome, he gets a couple of early elbows and throws Henderson to the floor through the middle rope (with Vern taking a nice no hands bump to the floor), and the rest of the match he totally gives to Henderson. Henderson does this very slow but very awesome Tim Horner armdrag, rolling over Luger's back. He also hits a big flying back elbow that looked nice, all of this with Luger bumping all over for him. The only actual drawback to syndicated WCW is that the finishes can get lazy (which is a dumb statement coming right after the fun ending to the previous match). With the big stars you often get them showing ass until it's time to go home, and then just hitting their finisher. Macho Man obviously did this a lot, Flair not shockingly as well, and here Luger bumps all around for Vern until he just kicks him and gets him in the Torture Rack. Still, we got a fun match up until that bit of uninspiration.

Barbarian vs. Konnan

ER15: Woof. What a waste of Barbarian. Let me be the first person to talk about how awful a wrestler Konnan was. At this point he had been given the US title, yet still clearly had no idea how to take offense. He had no idea how to fall, and many times came off like a totally untrained wrestler. At one point Barbarian hits a lariat and Konnan puts his arms at his side and just tips over. Later he spun around twice before hitting a kick to the stomach. I can't actually figure out a way to type what he did, to properly convey how misguided it looked. Barbarian was in the ropes, Konnan right in front of him, in place, just spun around clockwise - twice - on his feet, and at the end of the second spin just threw his leg out, so it was like a sidekick to the stomach. Barbarian sold it properly, like a confused man who kind of got flicked in the nuts by a good friend. Just holding his stomach and looking up at Konnan, confused. Later Konnan has problems getting up on a powerbomb (didn't seem like he intentionally sandbagged Barb, just looked like he was clueless) so Barb muscled him up and planted him anyway. The finish is Klassic Klueless Konnan, as Barbarian goes for another powerbomb, Konnan is supposed to do a rana, but Konnan instead manages to completely brain himself, just awkwardly dropping right onto his own head and neck. Barb tries gallantly to roll through it, and Konnan ends up sitting on Barbarian's chest holding his own head for the pin. A true champion.


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Complete and Accurate WCW B-Sides



Syndicated WCW is my anytime mood brightener, my absolutely favorite wrestling to watch and absorb. Gassed up Power Plant guys, one off appearances, matches from guys you didn't know were under contract, theme park tourist fans in a rolling sea of white shirts, just the easiest to digest wrestling. This will cover the syndicated programming airing during the Nitro era.

WCW Worldwide

4/9/95
4/16/95
11/5/95
11/19/95
12/10/95

8/4/96
8/11/96
9/15/96
9/22/96
10/27/96
11/3/96

5/4/97
5/11/97
8/10/97
11/9/97
11/16/97

7/4/98
8/1/98
8/9/98
12/5/98
12/12/98
12/19/98

2/13/99
2/20/99
2/27/99
3/6/99
3/13/99
3/20/99
3/27/99
4/3/99
12/5/99

WCW Saturday Night

2/7/98
2/14/98
6/13/98
6/20/98
10/17/98

1/16/99
2/13/99
6/26/99
7/31/99
9/4/99
11/27/99

3/11/00 Pt. I   3/11/00 Pt. II

WCW Pro

3/23/96
3/30/96
4/6/96
4/13/96
8/10/96
8/17/96
8/24/96
8/31/96
9/7/96

WCW Main Event

6/23/96
7/7/96
7/14/96
7/21/96

5/24/97
5/31/97
9/6/97
9/13/97


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All Time MOTY List Head to Head: Parka vs. Santo VS. Tijuana Trios

Rey Mysterio Jr./Damien 666/Vampiro vs. Rey Mysterio Sr./Halloween/La Parka Tijuana 10/26/01

PAS: I assume this is a relevos incriebles match with Mexicos Most Wanted on different teams, and dueling Mysterios, but I will admit I am not totally versed in the angles of early 2000s Tijuana lucha. Rey Jr. was post WCW pre-WWE and was in the midst of baggy pants Rey, he still knocked off some cool moves, but kept having to pull up his pants after every move.  I actually enjoyed Vamp and Rey Sr. in this too, they had some energy and Rey Sr. actually based really well for his nephew.


This was mainly focused on Damien 666 vs. La Parka and it was totally awesome stuff. There are fans burning Parka gear in the crowd, and he riles up the crowd right to the precipice of a lucha riot. He throws Damien into the crowd and starts mashing him with a chair right in front of the guy who burned his pennant. He also gets some giant piece of wood and smashes Damien with it and powerbombs him through it. We also get an awesome Rey Jr. vs. Parka section where he pinches him on the cheek like a little baby, before getting ranaed in revenge. Parka is a fucking superstar in this match, and plays the chaos of this match like a master conductor. I really loved the finish too, with Parka burying Damien under a Parka flag and then getting rolled up when he gets too preoccupied with taunting.  I forgot how much I loved Tijuana chaos and this was a great example of it.

ER: This is just a nearly perfect lucha match for me, and really takes me back to seeing live Tijuana lucha cards from this era 15 years ago. We saw some wild stuff (oddly just missing all of these participants, but involving adjacent performers like Nicho and Super Parka) but the brawls never got this wild and the work never felt quite as mean, and the matches I saw didn't have as many highs. Everybody gets and delivers big moments in this match, even Vampiro. Even before the bell sounds Mysterio shoves his nephew and shows they won't be effing around. Of course this was the La Parka show, but no one man owned this match. Parka in 2001 was so skinny (compared to what we've gotten used to) that I'm going to start spreading misinformation that this was actually an all time great performance from AAA La Parka. You get all the stuff you love out of current La Parka, but against fresh match-ups, like a spry Damien and a having fun free agent Rey.

We've seen Damien as a slow guy with a big belly hitting people with a kendo stick for over a decade now, it's great to see him snapping off fast ranas on Parka, taking a crazy bump into the crowd (followed by getting pelted with chairs from Parka), and it's cool to see how wildly the crowd gets behind him after his beating at the hands of Parka (considering there are some major names in the match, I wasn't expecting Damien to emerge as the hero). Damien paying Parka back for his beating was huge, and the great thing about violent, chair throwing, table launching, drink smashing La Parka is that he always takes back whatever he gives. Parka gets tossed through a table, Damien hits a big senton on the table, Parka gets tossed into the crowd, pelted with chairs, really gives back generously. We never got a ton of Parka/Misterio in WCW, just a handful of tag matches and one singles (which I basically need to seek out tonight), and in AAA they mostly were on the same tecnicos side, so the whole match I was salivating at the chance for a Parka/Rey clash, and it totally delivered. Parka acts like the cocky older brother and shoves Rey back about 6 feet before Rey starts outwitting him with speed. Yep, gonna need those WCW tags tonight, thank you.

Halloween is the lost super worker of the 2000s, never got much of a chance to shine in WCW, emerged post-WCW as a big bumping asskicking heavyweight, and was at the peak of his powers here. He gets mostly paired with Vampiro, which could have been a disaster, but totally makes it work. Vampiro was kept to his nice spinkick and nice full leg extension superkick, Halloween flew fast to the floor off the spinkick, leaned in chin first on the superkick, throws great knife edge chops, and late in the match hits this great jumping kick. Misterio Sr. was a guy who never really got talked up by the people buying lucha tapes, so either this match was a career performance or there is more cool stuff out there to mine. Him shoving his nephew really set the tone for the match. You typically don't get that kind of start to a match when guys are planning on dogging it, and he was always a great presence throughout the match with stiff right hands. Finish was fun with Damien getting to be the unexpected tecnicos hero, after getting buried in all kinds of Parka gear (and it should be noted that before the match, someone was literally BURNING a La Parka pennant in the crowd!) and catching a pose-happy Parka in a roll up.

Hijo del Santo vs. La Parka review


Verdict:

PAS: The Trios match was awesome stuff with an all timer Parka performance, but the Santo match also had an all time Parka performance, and also had classic Santito so it gets the win for me.

ER: This trios was basically everything I love about lucha and an excellent collective performance. I love those lucha trios where not only are the individual parts good, but the whole rises above as well. This was way WAY closer to the Santo/Parka bloodbath that I would have guessed, and there were parts of this trios where I was flipping out and was definitely planning on voting for a new king. Really the only thing that dropped it down for me was the odd moment where Vampiro almost punched Halloween/Misterio's valet in the face (though I liked her overall interference, it's odd that the tecnicos was literally going to punch a woman in the face, when she had just been chopping him in the chest). It's a small moment, but a weird one, and we're still left with a match that easily would have finished in my top 10 for 2001. But, the champ retains.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE LA PARK

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Complete and Accurate LA Park



With his recent invasion of CMLL and build to what should be a world destroyingly awesome apuestas match with Rush, it feels like there is a chance that the legendary LA Park might be dropping his mask and winding down his incredible career. He is a guy who has been kicking out classics for 25 years plus, and we are still discovering unseen bangers.

2001

La Parka/Halloween/Rey Mysterio Sr. vs. Rey Mysterio Jr./Damien 666/Vampiro Tijuana 10/26/01- EPIC
La Parka vs. El Hijo Del Santo Monterey 12/23/02 - EPIC

2016

LA Park/Super Parka/ Hijo de LA Park vs. Rush/Pierroth/Toscano Liga Elite 4/27/16 - GREAT
LA Park vs. Rush Tijuana 6/3/16 - EPIC
LA Park vs. Rush Liga Elite 7/14/16 - EPIC
LA Park vs. Rey Escorpion Liga Elite 11/4/16 - GREAT

2018

LA Park/Damien 666/Psicosis vs. Garza Jr./Bestia 666/Mecha Wolf 450 The Crash 4/5/18 - FUN

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Monday, May 21, 2018

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Casas vs. Soberano

32. Negro Casas vs. Soberano Jr. CMLL 4/13

ER: Casas is back and it seems like his new goal is to just break out any offense he can think of and go speed for speed with youngsters. We get tons of Casas maestro submissions, I love how he goes after a leg and stretches hammies, and it looks cool on Soberano's long legs. Casas is equally adept and bumping appropriately for offense, I love how he takes an armdrag, and I liked how he escaped and hot stepped out of the way of Soberano grabbing for an ankle pick, but then didn't notice the legsweep that knocked him on his butt. We've seen a lot of work on the apron in recent years, but I think Casas is the best at making apron stuff seem epic. The whole shot looked really great: Lucha being filmed in HD, the expanse of Arena Mexico growing behind the two competitors, shot from low on the ground making it seem like they were having a scaffold match; Casas is great at milking these moments, leaning way back and hitting his straight kicks, working tiny moments of drama, and eventually planting Soberano with a DDT (which Soberano takes vertically and sticks there frozen in time). To add insult, Casas bends Soberano's arm over the corner of the apron. We get a nice nearfall section with Casas getting more and more exasperated while not being able to put the kid away. Everything about Soberano's surfboard hold was great, with Casas doing all sorts of great things, like gripping his arms close to his body to keep them from Soberano, to reaching quickly for the ropes but snapping them back to keep them from being swiped, to fighting mightily when they do get swiped, to then paddling his arms in the air to try to swing his momentum over. I wish we would have gotten an actual finish, but the fans did seem genuinely excited when they realized Soberano went the distance, and we got a nice false finish with just a couple seconds to go, when Casas gets a high tight roll up after Soberano had missed a cannonball and dropped on his head. I'm not sure what it would take for me to not love a 10 minute slice of singles match Casas.

PAS: Casas is a really amazing TV worker, I can just imagine how great Casas would have been in 90s WCW working random dudes on Saturday Night for six minutes. Soberano is about Super Calo level talented, but Casas can find enough fun things to do with him to make an entertaining match. I really enjoyed all of the apron stuff, and Soberano's bump on the DDT was totally goofus and uncalled for. Time limit draws are always a bit deflating, but it does nicely set up the revanche match, which I am excited to check out.

2018 MOTY MSATER LIST

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Shinya Hashimoto will Lay his Burdens Down by the Riverside

Shinya Hashimoto/Shiro Koshinaka vs. Tiger Jeet Singh/Kim Duk NJPW 10/17/91 -FUN

PAS: You kind of know what you are getting with a Tiger Jeet Singh match, some crowd brawling, lots of hidden foreign object stuff, no bumps. We did get some fun fired up Hashimoto when he got a hot tag and laced in to both of the heels, I also enjoyed Kim Duk taking an upside down bump in the corner, but this was mostly just the Tigers doing their thing.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 146

Episode 146

Arik Royal vs. Dirty Daddy

ER: Damn what a keg of dynamite this match was! Ferocious Royal is an absolute king, and this was some of my favorite Royal stuff ever. He worked this as an aggressive Junkyard Dog, lunging in hard at Daddy with diving shoulderblocks and booming headbutts, jumped him at the bell with big punches, just kept on him the entire time. This is some of the more vicious work I've seen from Royal (and makes me more grumpy we got robbed of TV champ Royal doing this stuff every week), and then he ramps things up with a crazy spinning backbreaker, then yanks Daddy's limp body off the mat into a short arm clothesline. I don't know if I've seen someone pull a guy off the mat into a lariat before, and I loved it. Daddy's comeback was a good one (he's a great babyface), and I loved him beating down Royal with chops and forearms and a big running elbow. Daddy always has what looks like a weak delivery on chops and elbows, usually no big wind-up, but they always land hard and look like something that could drop a big guy like Royal. Royal kept at those grounded attacks, and the big upending shoulder tackle is a favorite of mine. Awesome battle.

PAS: Yeah this was a really great compact brawl, this kind of six minute fight is something CWF does really well. Royal is so good as a stooging, shit talking, stalling heel, but he is also really great as a focused killer and he was brutal here. Daddy is also great at intense brawling and I loved his chop and punch beatdown in the corner and his diving clothesline which really hit with a thud. Royal has great explosion, he would have been an awesome middle linebacker, his tackles and cut blocks look great and part of the reason is that he can go from 0-60 so quickly.

Mace Li vs. Snooty Foxx

ER: Fun match and a fine Foxx performance, impressive that he can make someone like Li seem credible, and not just credible because of Coach and Royal at ringside. It's an important distinction. Li is still a hard guy for me to pin down, he'll do something great one moment, then get lazy a moment later. There was a weird moment where Foxx hit a back elbow but Foxx was the one who sold it, and Li went right back on offense. Not sure what happened there. Foxx is really good at big man leapfrog exchanges, love seeing him move quick and time that leaping back elbow, always looks great. I also thought the fight through the crowd was fun, these fans are always right on top of the action and it's always cool to see the workers not hold back right next to them. Finish was probably better on paper, with Royal holding Snooty's boots so he can't kick out, even though his boots were practically hanging off the apron. He's breaking the plane of the ropes, ref! The aftermath is simple match building, Li and Royal jumping Foxx all building to Foxx crushing a huge spear, instantly made me excited to see them fight back in Chapel Hill.

PAS: This was a match where both guys had good ideas, but still lack the execution to pull everything off. The idea of defensive wrestler Li catching a break and damaging the power guys knee. There were parts of this that looked great, but then Foxx would throw a dodgy punch or mostly miss on a clothesline, or Li would really poorly apply an Indian deathlock and I would be taken out of it a bit. These guys are basically still rookies, so the fact that they have good ideas is promising, and I am sure the execution will come.

Cain Justice vs. Cam Carter

ER: I could easily see the Cain/Sharpe team making a nice long run in the Kernodle Cup. Let me rephrase, I want Cain/Sharpe to make a nice long run in the Kernodle Cup. I don't believe we got to see their match from earlier this year, but it's no surprise that these two match up nicely. Carter is slippery and Justice has no shortage of mean tricks, so it's a fun combo. I dug all of Carter's flips out of Cain's wrist control, and Carter has a bunch of precise kicks and knees, and Cain is always game to lean into a kick or knee (that flying knee off the top looked like it bounced right off his jaw). This is a bit different than most Cain matches, as he has Ethan Sharpe running interference on the floor, and I don't recall him ever having someone interfering on his behalf before. I like how Cain typically structures comebacks in his matches, so the interference took away from that a bit and made the result less in question, but the action was good, and I liked Sharpe giving him leverage on an armbar. I don't think I've ever seen someone lock in an armbar and then hold it with one arm while grabbing his partner's arm with another. Carter sells the arm nicely and we get some fun moments, like Cam dodging a crane kick, sidestepping Cain and tripping him into the ropes to set up the 336. Cain is really great at removing or shifting gear to accentuate a beatdown. When I was a kid I would always get a kick out of Greg Valentine turning his shinguard before locking on the figure 4. I had no idea the significance of it, but it seemed cool to me. Cain is good at shifting a kneepad, removing a shinguard, something to signify that this next knee or kick would be somehow even worse. I loved Cam holding onto the ropes while Cain yanked on his arm, and the Twist Ending is always especially mean when he holds the arm and kicks it before locking it in. Tons of fun.

PAS: Cam Carter comes into Square Biz by Teena Marie and immediately vaults hugely up my favorite wrestlers list. This was another great Cain match against a relatively limited opponent. Carter has great athleticism, but doesn't always hit everything cleanly (I know I sound like a coded racist Sports Announcer right now, but he really does get great snap and height on his moves), Cain feeds him some big comebacks and is great cutting off the ring and really doing some vicious arm work.  Justice landed some vicious short kicks on the arm to loosen it up, and he is really great at violent focused attacks. I love how he varies the speed on it, he does the methodical Arn style arm work, but will also be frenzied, and the set up to the twist ending here was great. The commentary mentioning a rumored leg submission he is keeping secret got me excited, I can't wait for him to pull that out to win a huge match.  I do agree that Sharpe was a bit OTT on the outside, and some of the ref distraction spots didn't make a ton of sense. still I loved this match it made our 2018 Ongoing MOTY list and continue to be 100% all in on Cain.

Zane & Dave Dawson vs. Matt Houston/Louis Moore

ER:What a weird, unnecessarily long match. We have now written up over 60 episodes of CWF, and this tag is the 2nd longest tag match during that time! Why did this match go over 20 minutes!? There was not nearly enough happening to fill 20 minutes, and the last half felt like tired tubs lying around gathering their breath for their next move. Having a match this long really played up every participant's weakness: The Dawsons don't have enough interesting offense to be in control for that long, and they're genuinely bad at setting up opponent comebacks, so they took forever to get to the Outlaws' run of offense, and when it finally arrived they didn't do them any favors. This match dragged so much that when the 20 minute mark was announced I called my computer a damn liar. Houston is a guy I want to like. He's a spitting image of Dick Murdoch, skinny legs and an even bigger belly and even facial similarities, and his moonsault was surprising as hell. But the Dawsons have no clue how to set up his hot tag. Seriously they are terrible at finding ways to occupy themselves while waiting for spots, so they end up just standing frozen still, or awkwardly wandering. I had never seen Moore before and I liked how he bumped for a big chop in the corner, but man did he eat it on a rolling somethingorother to the floor: Houston had been "caught" by the Dawsons on a plancha (they dropped him, but he was kind enough to be lifted and held into position, and Moore rolled into everyone with a senton...except he corgi legged the jump, barely hit them, and splatted directly to the floor. I like a couple Dawsons eyepokes, liked Zane's big lariat for a nearfall, but this was just way too long and way too slow. There is no reason to have the Outlaws be the toughest opponents yet for the Dawsons. I'm pretty sure the crowd at one point even started a "This Match Sucks" chant, which is stunning coming from the familial Sportatorium crowd. This really felt like one of those rookie matches where they repeatedly miss signals from the back to go home, and the fed has to start flashing the lights in the building to get their attention. I have never watched the Hero/Punk 93 minute match, and I'm not totally sure how time and space works, but I bet I could have watched Hero/Punk in the time it took me to watch this match.

PAS: This was really ponderous, it felt like they were waiting for someones flight to arrive, like one of those WWF house show matches where Ron Bass and Tito Santana sit in a chinlock for 8 minutes because there was bad weather into Tulsa. Eric talked about Zane's lariat, but I thought Houston straight armed the taking of it, so it looked bad, Zane responded by straight arming the belt shot a second later. I did like the finish, really great looking accidental head smash into your partner and the double powerbomb looked good, but if you just showed me pictures of these four guys I would be totally jazzed for this match, and instead they basically laid an egg.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE CAIN JUSTICE

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Andre the Giant Will Race to the Bottom of a Glass

Geant Ferrer vs. Scarface French Catch 1/1/68 - FUN

PAS: This might be the earliest Andre match available, and while it isn't the classic that Franz Van Buyten match is, any chance to see young Andre is a treat. This is basically a brawl, with Scarface being this cheap shot artist, who is always looking for an advantage, with babyface Andre fight back valiantly. I loved all three of them (including the ref) spilling out over the top rope, and there was some good clubbing by both guys. I really liked Scarface's almost cartoon selling, when he got clubbed on the head, it felt like the way Elmer Fudd might sell being hit by a frying pan.

ER: This was a real fun disjointed mess. Scarface is a real jerk who looks like a beefed up Mr. Bean, who was really aggressive about attacking Andre and tying him up with tough headlocks, even having the stones to grab a bearhug! Grabbing a bearhug ON Andre! Scarface has really great kicks to the stomach. He'd muscle Andre down by the arm, or in a headlock, ref would break it up (really the ref spent 20 minutes trying to break up everything. I was over it.), and Scarface would push kick Andre in the stomach as he was walking away. At one point Andre just picks Scarface up over his head while Scarface was holding a headlock, and the crowd shrieks as it looks like Andre is going to throw him into the 4th row. Andre was somehow turned into a sympathetic giant with how aggressive Scarface was being, and this whole thing peaked when both men (and the intrusive referee) tumbled over the top to the floor, and Andre and Scarface really started beating the tar out of each other, two big guys throwing big shots right next to people. It's fascinating to see this earliest Andre, so we can see Andre with actual terrible offense. He is still throwing amazing European uppercuts this early (and while it's cute that Scarface sells them by puffing his cheeks and exhaling, these looked like murder blows and really should have been treated as such), but Andre also has these really terrible overhand shots, and I'm not really sure what they're supposed to be. He lifts his arm up fast and violent, tucks his elbow like he's coming down with a Dusty elbow, but then kind of lightly extends his fist to barely bonk Scarface on the chest, and even makes his hand "explode" as if he just did a fist bump. They're really perplexing and bad strikes, and a few weeks later during his excellent match against Franz Van Buyten they are completely gone. Still, this was a fun look at the earliest Andre, and I believe our first time seeing old cranky Scarface.

Andre the Giant/Giant Baba vs. The Land of Giants AJPW 11/25/90 - FUN

ER: Sadly, I couldn't quite go EPIC on this one, even though I wanted to in my heart. While it's probably not the best tag in All Japan history (and I'm sure there will be some out there that consider it the worst, which is not unfair), what they fail to note is that it is - in all likelihood - that it is probably the tallest tag match in All Japan history, and that still means something in this world. Andre the Giant Versus Skywalker Nitron sounds like a disappointing 50s sci fi flick, or a bad down period Marvel comic, and the same things can be said for Giant Baba Versus Butch Masters. I know these words but that sentence makes no sense. So you have two tall white guys, one a future Michael Myers and X-Man, one a future Giant Warrior, against two broken Giants, and it's weird and amusing and then it ends. I give Skywalker Nitron credit for doing his best against our lovable old duo, both because he really knew when to ham it up properly, and also because I'm likely never going to get the chance to write the words "Skywalker Nitron" again. Nothing here will knock your wrestling socks off, but there are moments of joy to be had, like Skywalker Nitron being put into double arm breakers by Andre and Baba, and kind of jumping and yipping every time they bring his arms down over their shoulders; or Andre working a really cool knucklelock spot that I've never seen, where he grabs Walker's hand in his literal Giant hand, squeezes it, and then rears back and punches Masters in the hand; or the way Baba sold Skywalker Nitron's punches with disdain; or Baba actually doing a drop toehold (well, we knew it was supposed to be a drop toehold) on Skywalker Nitron. Baba and Andre's finish is almost adorable, as Andre whips Masters into a big Baba boot, and then Andre unexpectedly drops an elbow. Now, the elbow was...basically Andre widening his legs until he was just about close enough to drop onto Masters, but just seeing Andre hit the mat in any way was pretty unexpected at this point, and it was tough seeing him slowly pull himself up by putting a lot of weight on the referee's shoulders. But, Skywalker Nitron and Butch Masters were good sports, I still can't take my eyes off of barely mobile Andre, he's still somehow and I like that this happened.

PAS:  I thought Nitro and Masters were pretty terrible, nothing they did looked like it had any impact at all. I can see why you wouldn't want to hit Baba hard (he really looked like he was made of porcelain at this point), but Andre was solid enough that you could make contact at least. I thought Andre looked pretty good. I love when he lurches his arm out to grab someone by the throat, and while that elbow drop wasn't graceful, it sure landed with a thud. Even in his last days he still had an aura about him. Honestly this was a pretty bad match, but as a spectacle it is definitely worth watching.


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE ANDRE

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Friday, May 18, 2018

1968 Match of Year

Jean Ferrer vs. Franz Van Buyten French Catch 1/20/68

PAS: This is the earliest Andre match we have, and just showed up on the internet. Agility of Young Andre is off the charts, Buyten actually takes him over with a pair of hurricanrana's and Andre bumps like a monstrous Juventud Guerrera. He also really is ferocious, his bear hug looks like he is squeezing human juice out of a toothpaste tube, and I loved his huge press stomach breaker. Buyten looked good too, some really fun grappling takeovers, and some stinging uppercuts, and the reversal of the stomach breaker was an awesome spot. Nothing I love more then a unearthed gem and this was a flawless one.

ER: This is probably the most important historic wrestling "find" of the last several years, maybe since the first batch of French Catch showed up and we were all awaked to what was happening in France 50 years ago. This is by far the youngest Andre we've seen, and he has the posture and Army jacket of a shy quiet high schooler. Watch how bashful he looks kissing a lady on the cheek before the match! Van Buyten would look strapping and powerful against most other wrestlers (especially 50 years ago) but here is lean, toned, muscular Andre making him look tiny. Andre is gigantic but does not move like a giant at this point. He moves like a normal man, making Van Buyten just look like a tiny man. There is no lumbering Andre yet, he's just a normal man who happens to be gigantic.


It's wild to see someone working takedowns with Andre, but Van Buyten looks super credible, and his leg work looks like he was trying to snap Andre's legs in multiple spots. I want to see Sabre or Thatcher steal some of his legwork, it looks just as painful if not more. With Andre on his back, Van Buyten straightens Andre's leg vertically, begins twisting at his ankle, then starts putting all his weight on the sole of Andre's foot, forcing his one leg to hold up all his weight. It really looked like something that could immediately cause a leg to hyperextend or buckle, really dangerous looking. He works a couple early calf crusher variations, really bending Andre's calf around. The rana takeovers were really cool, as they weren't smooth at all, there was struggle, and you don't often see a rana snapped off with the guy taking it fighting against it. Here the fight was because Andre towered over him, so he couldn't just hop up and flip Andre over. Van Buyten basically had to scale Andre's body like a climbing wall and then whip him over, and Andre get rana'd into the ropes made it look like it shifted the entire ring. Not a sight I ever thought I would see. Once Andre starts getting his mitts on Van Buyten, we get a ton of awesome Andre offense that we've never seen: these huge press slam gutbusters and backbreakers that seem like they should snap a man in half, a bearhug that looks like he is entirely gulfing Van Buyten, and my favorite, a couple European uppercuts that seem like they should be outlawed. Andre hits that first uppercut and I realized "I have no idea who Van Buyten is, this match may be the cause of his death". Andre hits this picture perfect European, as fine as any you've seen from any of the modern masters like Regal or Finlay, except thrown by a man twice their size. The fact this match got discovered and brought to the masses is a treat in and of itself; the fact the match is as great as it is, is just a true gift to wrestling fans.


ALL TIME MOTY MASTER LIST

La Compl├Ęte et Exacte French Catch

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE ANDRE THE GIANT

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Real Slow and Before You Know Super Dragon had a Shotgun Pointed in the Window

Super Dragon vs. Vic Grimes APW-LA 10/18/03 - GREAT

PAS: Vic Grimes was an APW trainee who had one match in WWF as Droz's drug dealer Kilo, was an ECW Baldie and went to XPW where New Jack tried to murder him in a ring. Perfect guy to have a nutso potato fest with Super Dragon. Grimes is a total bump freak, he places Dragon's head in a chair and then misses a legdrop off the apron landing tailbone first, Dragon isn't afraid to hit him as hard as he can. Dragon takes some big bumps too, including getting crucifix tossed into a concrete support pole. Both Grimes and Dragon hit really hard which kept this from just being a stunt show. Dragon hits a crazy senton from the top rope to the floor through a table, and then keeps double stomping Grimes in his ribs like he was trying to squeeze cake frosting out of a tube. Lame finish kept this from being an EPIC, Grimes hits a bunch of big moves and keeps pulling Dragon up at two (including an awesome fat guy top rope elbow) we have a run in from Adam Pearce (maybe, the video isn't pristine and there is no commentary), then Disco Machine and Excalibur run in and they fight with Grimes until Dragon rolls him up. The amount of punishment both guys took was pretty intense, the booker really let them down by booking such a dog's breakfast of an ending.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE SUPER DRAGON

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Low-Ki Used to Watch Dynasty Just to See Heather

Low-Ki vs. Austin Aries Wrestling Superstar 5/6 - FUN

PAS: This was from a show in Lima Peru, and it was fun to watch these two guys work a house show match. This is what I imagine a touring match between the two would have been if I had seen them work a WCW show in 1997 in Fairfax VA. There are a lot of shticky spots to get the crowd involved, including a collar and elbow tie up, which they roll out of the ring, walk around the arena and roll back into the ring without breaking. There are a bunch of teases of big spots, including Ki trying a Ki Krusher on the apron. but it is all teases. Both guys are such kinetic athletes, so it is fun to watch them do simple things. Finish is kind of lame with a ref bump and a run in by what I am assuming is a local Peruvian heel faction.

ER: Love Low-Ki will skip town on WM weekend bookings, but he's going to show up at some club gig in Peru. This is some weird Egyptian theme (or possibly Stargate themed...) club that doesn't feel like a wrestling club, feels more like an all purpose club that will have industrial bands, metal bands, occasional wrestling, and bare chest calendar contests. For being two of the biggest indy wrestling names of the last 15 years, these two really haven't crossed paths much: A couple of ROH matches (one I remember really enjoying at the time) and a couple fun but short TNA matches. Phil is right that this is a house show touring match for them, but these two are good with teases and good with simple spots, never mechanical. I liked them fighting through the club with a collar and elbow, falling onto chairs and moving people off a couch, and Ki is always interesting working simple knucklelock stuff. It's not simple with him, it always looks like it could go somewhere cool. Ki threw some really great downward strike elbows and took a great snap neckbreaker over the middle ropes, and I loved the way these two moved around each other. It's probably worth it to go seek out their few matches together, as this was a cool glimpse.


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE LOW-KI

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

BCW/CWF Mid-Atlantic Tap Out Cancer 11/12/17

ER: I saw the full show got posted online (Lee/White Mike, the 4 way, and CW/James aired on CWF TV) and the rest of the card was super intriguing (especially that main event!) that I figured I'd check it all out. This will all surely lead to me doing a NC road trip and doing a road report. I really love the scene they have there and need to start documenting as much of it as is available.

 Chris "TNT" Taylor vs. Beastly Brody

ER: Perfectly acceptable match on a card like this. I've not seen Brody before but he works a little more like Barbaro Cavenario than Bruiser Brody, and an American indy Barbaro would be a welcome thing (although this one has a little more respect for his knees). Taylor is getting there and would probably be better if he dropped some unnecessary flourishes; just focus on throwing a decent lariat or punch, not the 360 spin before the punch or lariat. Both guys do some things I like, Brody commits on a splash and has good energy.

Snooty Foxx vs. Tre G

ER: Pretty simple match with G trying to go toe to toe early, running into a lariat and Snooty's great leaping back elbow, then spending the rest of the match trying to cheat or trying to get Foxx to make a mistake. G is good at stooging into Foxx offense, like jawing with fans leading to him turning around into a side slam. I like how Foxx keeps things simple. There are too many large rookies that get into wrestling now and want to learn a standing moonsault. Foxx is learning more valuable skills like how to be a large guy but still sell convincingly. The end got a little silly with G's second interfering from the floor, leading to a kind of missed ball shot, then some fine fake weapon hiding that Foxx kicks out of. The ending was kind of a mess. But I like Snooty's powerslam finish, and the match was worthwhile.

Ricky Morton vs. Matt Houston

ER: 60 year old Ricky Morton is plump, but still unafraid to wrestle without a shirt, and that still means something in this crazy world. And this was about what my brain pictured a 2017 Ricky Morton match looking like. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, but there were enough moments to make it an enjoyable watch. Houston is a fat cowboy in his 40s, which is a worker I'm going to like, and he's good bumping around for Morton, running into a boot in the corner, nothing flashy but a good opponent for a 60 year old Morton. Ricky still throws a nice overhand punch, nice kneelift, and ended the match with a really great roll up. The match was probably worth watching for the roll-up. It was a gifable roll-up. He stopped his momentum in the corner by sliding down and grabbing the bottom rope, then yanked Houston by the trunks as he as he ran by, and got in tight for a snug roll-up. It was a roll-up that would believably win a match.

Dave & Zane Dawson vs. The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude/Rob Killjoy)

ER: You knew these teams would match up nicely, so that's not a shocker. These teams have their bit down, and it's always worth checking out. This had a bunch of fun "Killjoy using Lude as projectile" moments, like Lude rolling into a Killjoy-assisted backdrop or getting launched over to the floor (and caught) or soaring off Killjoy's legs to nail Launchpad McQuack. It's a real fun thing they got going. Dawsons really busted butt here, and they're both good at killing the Ducks while also looking vulnerable to guys so much smaller than them, eating a couple big dives from them and takings ranas (Zane flies all the way across the ring off a Lude rana), and doing Phillie Phanatic prat falls for them. I liked when Dawsons would just brute force their way through a Ducks flying spot, like Lude getting punched out of the air or Dave surprising with a dropkick during a rope running spot. It's a great thing they have.

Cain Justice vs. Darius Lockhart vs. Nick Richards

ER: The match goes a shade past 5 minutes, but they manage to get a lot of cool stuff into those 5 minutes. We get a couple great early moments of alliances turning on Justice, with Lockhart sending him running into Richards (who sidesteps him and sends Cain to the floor), and then Cain getting back in and getting punched by both Richards and Lockhart to send him to the floor again. The brawling around the floor was good, with Lockhart hitting a big flip dive as the other two brawled, and then doing some fun disjointed floor fighting. And by that I mean nothing was timed and dodged, nothing looked rehearsed, just a three man tangle with awkward shots like Richards getting elbowed in the back of the head. I thought everybody worked around being the third man well, and I liked the opportunistic finish with Richards hitting the cutter on Lockhart, but Cain hitting Richards in the eyes and stealing the pin. They made the most of their allotted time.

PAS:  Fun short match. Cain is really great at these small show benefit cards. He is such an expressive wrestler that he can really bring a crowd into what is happening. Even in a random three way with no stakes, he can make you want to see him get his ass kicked (apparently this fed ran Cain vs. Trevor Lee in a cage but that show is not on youtube, talk about a holy grail). I like all three of these guys a bunch and they really kept it moving and kept in entertaining. Cain stealing the pin is the perfect finish.

ER: We wrote up the next the matches (Trevor Lee vs. White Mike, CW Anderson vs. Mark James, and Royal vs. Sterling vs. Skyler vs. Tracer X) as part of CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 135. All three are worth watching, especially the singles matches.

Career vs. Career: Damien Wayne vs. Lee Valiant

ER: Real good match, and a perfectly respectable way to end a 10+ year career. Valiant was allegedly a babyface for a big chunk of his career, but I've only seen him as a heel and can't really picture him as anything else. But, against a bruiser like Damien Wayne it showed through. Both guys worked tight (as you'd expect in a big stips match) and both took some nasty spills. Wayne will take your punches, but he'll be right there to fire back with hard shots to the stomach (Wayne may have the best kicks to the stomach in wrestling) and chops that will be harder than most wrestlers you will ever face. Valiant takes a nice beating, including a Lawler level bump into the ringpost on the floor. Wayne goes in big on everything, so that leaves him open to some big misses, like a huge bump over the top to the floor on a missed charge, and those misses lead to a Valiant comeback. Wayne bleeds big on Valiant's comeback, but was a total monster throughout, hitting increasingly bigger and meaner elbowdrops (a big rotating one, a bigger, meaner, and prettier one off the top, and then the match ender off the top with Valiant under a chair), and a big sunset flip powerbomb off the top. Wayne never skimps on pins, using full body weight, making each Lee kickout seem like a big moment. Very good match, and hats off to some tertiary people in the match: I really liked the moment where Wayne was pissed about a two count and shoved the ref over (while the ref was on a knee standing up). The ref jumped up to his feet and got in Wayne's face that it was only a two count. It was done in a way where Wayne didn't act afraid of the fired up ref, and the ref didn't back down, but never looked like he was getting any kind of shine. And post-match, hats off to whomever filmed this video, as I really liked the looks at Valiant hugging friends in and out of the business, and the close-ups on the wrestling boots he left in the ring. Nice work by everyone involved.

PAS: This was really good. I have also only ever seen Vailant as a sleazy heel, but he was really good working under against Wayne. Damien Wayne is one of my long time favorites and he was a beast here, moving forward lacing Valiant with hard chops and all timer punches. I loved how he cut off Valiant's top rope attack with that hanging neckbreaker and hanging legdrop, such a hard combo to pull off without looking contrived and Wayne and Valiant pulled it off. The double juice helped the stakes of the match too, most of my Wayne experience has been from no-blood Virginia, but that was a great grimy blade job. I did think maybe Lee needed one more big near fall, if he was dropping his career, but otherwise this was great stuff, a quality coda to Valiant's career and a reminder of how good Damien Wayne can be.


2017 MOTY MASTER LIST

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE CAIN JUSTICE


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Monday, May 14, 2018

La Petit Prince is Having the Prime Time of His Life

La Petit Prince vs. Michel Saulnier 9/30/67 - EPIC

PAS: This was worked like is Godard directed Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko. Saulneir had these nasty cauliflower ears and would try to ground the Prince with tight headlocks and hammerlocks , and be countered by the Prince who was flying all over the ring with absolutely crazy backflips, headscissors and reversals. When Saulneir got on his feet he would move really quickly too, but the Prince was really next level with his speed and acrobatics. There were a couple of very cool unique spots, including a great sequence of reversals and counter attempts built around a short arm scissors, and a fun spot where Saulnier tries a bodypress and gets caught by the ref. Only minor flaw was kind of a flat draw ending, where the ref just kind of stops them mid lock up, no real drama or build to the draw, they just do stuff until it ends. It was super cool stuff though.

ER: And here I just copy and paste from every other French catch match and talk about how it's some of the most mind bending athleticism I've ever seen in a wrestling ring. These guys are like Cirque du Soleil (I'm casually proud of myself for not needing spell check on that one) performers with their balance and movement and spacial awareness, always coming up with new tricks and always taking exchanges a different direction that I expect. Petit Prince is adorable, in the ring with his little cape and his eye glasses, and Saulnier is a bit more of a brute, and I loved the longer the match went on the more brutish Prince worked. Prince had this amazing ability to grab a headscissors out of nearly any position, and there were no cheapies where Saulnier had to go over for a headscissor that wasn't quite locked in. Prince would catch Saulnier in one so snug that he wouldn't have any choice but go over, and that's kind of the greatest thing about this stuff: We get tons of hyperspeed hold exchanges (seriously, some exchanges look like the frame rate is sped up, but then you see the brie-baked ref slowly walking by in the background and you are reminded that these men are just super freaks), but they all look strong, never look like one of the workers is bumping something too early or going through a rehearsed sequence, which seems flat out impossible. There are no shortcuts taken with these moves; snapmares look like they're going to pop a guy's head off, same with the headscissors, backdrops look natural and headlock takeovers look violent.
 Fans get really excited when Prince makes his comeback, puts niceties aside and starts taking it to Saulnier. Prince suddenly starts throwing in these dickish gestures, scraping his heel across Saulnier's chin, throwing in an absolutely brilliant spin kick right into Saulnier's chin, a spin kick that came so fast and landed so precise that I don't know if I've seen one better. What's amazing is these guys don't often strike, so you wouldn't expect them to just have this rarely used amazing strike hidden in their cape. We get a couple fantastic, unique moments, down the stretch: The two men start choking each other and wind up in the ropes, the ref attempts to get in between the choking and the two just continue choking each other around the ref. We get a fun missed crossbody where Saulnier flies into the ref after Prince ducks, with the large ref catching him and setting him down, like the most natural occurrence of a silly midget match spot. The draw finish was disappointing, but it didn't make me think the 20 minutes of wrestling was any less spectacular. And I disagree that there was no build, as the moves clearly ramped up down the stretch, with Prince especially working more big shots. It came out of nowhere to us, as there were no traditional announcements of a time limit, and these matches aren't built around going for a lot of nearfalls, so we don't get a ton of "cues" that a time limit is imminent. But I think the work definitely built, and really could have kept on going.


La Compl├Ęte et Exacte French Catch

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

What Good is Dreamin if Shinya Hashimoto Must Dream All Alone By Himself

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Jake Roberts NJPW 9/23/93 - GREAT

ER: I thought the Rude match was kind of weird, as he went over to Japan and Hash worked almost a WWF style match with him. But I didn't know what weird was until I watched this. Roberts is one of the biggest names in wrestling to rarely work Japan. Roberts somehow worked Japan even less than Lawler. I believe this is the lone match from Jake's lone New Japan tour that made tape, and it's great and weird. It's basically Roberts coming to Japan, and working a match as he would work a Tito Santana match. You know, cruising to Japan for a week, working with the 2nd or 3rd biggest name in the company, but still working the Tito formula. It's weird and it works. He plays Jake mind games with Hash, and it's weird just because he's opposite this burly asskicker and he does things like point to his head to show how smart he is after blocking an Irish whip. This hits peak surreal when Jake's knee buckles on a leapfrog, and he begs off in the corner while holding his knee, even asking for a time out. I'm willing to bet this was the first time a New Japan crowd had seen someone ask for a time out in many years. And of course it's all so he can jump Hash, hit the short arm lariat and the DDT. After the DDT he even does jumping jacks and a squat to show that the knee is doing alright. The crowd reacted when Hash kicked out of the DDT, but it sounded more like confusion that elation. Hash didn't even really get to ramp up to his comeback too much, as you assume Jake isn't going to take a super dangerous brainbuster bump or anything, but Hash wins with the big spinning heel kick. Post match things get ridiculous as Jake dumps an actual cobra out of a bag and lunges at Hashimoto with it, like Berzerker stabbing his sword into the mat trying to murder Undertaker, Jake flies cobra first into the mat trying to kill Hashimoto!! Then he fakes throwing the snake into the crowd, the way you would a t-shirt when there is a competition to see which side of the ring has the loudest fans. He actually pretends to throw a cobra, then just lets it slither out to the floor while the commentary crew freaks out. I'm really glad this match happened.

PAS: It is famously hard to score in Japan, but Jake looks like he found a way. This is fully in the period where Jake looked like the heroin addict you go to if you need to have a body disappear, which is also exactly how he wrestles. I loved Jake breaking out the fake knee injury in Sumo Hall like he was working a no bumps match against Tom Brandi at the Sheboygan American Legion. All of Jake's offense looked good, he has a great jab and the short clothesline is the best short clothesline in the history of New Japan. That albino cobra is fucking nuts, I assume that was just the pet of whatever exiled Yakuza he horse hunted from this morning, "Let me get some of that snow white, and let me borrow the snake for tonight."


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE HASHIMOTO


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Accentuate the Positive

I did one of these posts in 2010 talking about some stuff I was excited about (Danielson vs. Sawa in EVOLVE) in an otherwise cloudy wrestling landscape. I am not sure if wrestling is better 8 years later (My personal life is a lot better, the state of our country is arguably worse), the overall worldwide house style has become more homogenized towards a style I don't care about, but in that, there are still pockets of fun stuff to look forward too. I am in a good mood today (had an awesome time with the Baby Zach at the Zoo) and want to talk up some stuff I am excited for.


-Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. at Verano De Escalando. I am not a big fan of AAA main events, but Rey Jr. working a singles main event against an all time legend like Doc Wagner is super intriguing. I can't imagine these two having crossed paths many times before (if ever), and I imagine Rey will really want to show out.

-The possibility that Josh Barnett wasn't just BSing. Barnett tweeted about bringing back the UWF a couple of days ago, and tagged guys like Riddle, Thatcher and Cobb. I know Barnett is a big time shoot style wrestling fan, and the thought that he could set something like that up is super intriguing.

-Cain Justice and 2 Cold Scorpio at the Scenic City Invitational. There are going to be a bunch of really good indy wrestlers at this tourney and I am excited to see what 2 Cold still has in the tank and what Cain, who is my favorite young wrestler in years, can do with guys he isn't as familiar with, should be a chance to see one of my old favorites and one of my new favorites.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Low-Ki is from the West Bubblefuck so Fasten Your Seatbelts and Buckle Up

Low-Ki vs. JT Dunn WHAT Wrestling 3/11/18 - FUN

PAS: Late 2010s Low-Ki is 100% worth watching, he wrestles so rarely and is always going to bring something cool and memorable. This match definitely had those moments, early in the match Ki backed Dunn into the corner and unloaded these awesome body shot combos. They also had a cool stage fight with Ki using a broken pool cue to block and counter Dunn's kendo stick shots (I am all for Low-Ki entertaining himself by putting Jackie Chan fights in his wrestling matches). Unfortunately Dunn was pretty awful in this, real Adam Cole is pretty unwatchable, third generation Kinko's copy Adam Cole is about as bad as it gets. His offense was corny, his crowd taunting was stinko and he provided nothing as the opposite side of the a Ki match. Ki might only wrestle 10 times this year, shame that one of them got wasted.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE LOW-KI

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Friday, May 11, 2018

NJPW Sakura Genesis 4/1/18

ER: I saw AXS was showing much of this show, and I really dug the Sabre/Tanahashi match from a week or two before, and was excited to see what he could drag out of Okada. Rest of the card looks okay, but the guys I actually like are sprinkled throughout the card so it could be a nice sleeper show, or a show that will put me to sleep.

Minoru Suzuki/Davey Boy Smith Jr./Lance Archer vs. SANADA/Tetsuya Naito/EVIL

ER: Not bad, but really only notable for SANADA taking a bunch of big bumps off DBS/Archer throws. DBS is bland as hell, although his white mouth guard gives him a hateful quality as it makes him look like he has shitty veneers like trump jr. SANADA eats a big northern lights, bigger deadlift German, gets whipped hard into the mat off a sitout powerbomb, really makes KES look good. There were potentially interesting moments that never went anywhere due to cluelessness, like Naito and EVIL both dropkicking Archer in the knee a minute apart, first to get him to drop SANADA and later with a low Casas dropkick, but Archer sells dropkicks to the knee about like he'd sell a punch exchange, so we don't get any kind of vulnerability, and therefore not much interest.

El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. SHO/YOH vs. Hiromu Takahashi/BUSHI

ER: This could be fun, and El Desperado is easily one of my favorite guys in NJPW. I really liked him as Namajague in CMLL, and he's even better now. He and Kanemaru is a good team, and while Kanemaru wasn't usually one of my top 10 NOAH guys on a given tour, now he's grumpy and learned a more interesting base style than New Japan guys, coming up under Kings Road. He really rattles YOH's spine with a vertical suplex, and throws hard back elbows. All of these guys are really good foes for SHO and YOH, all 4 are good at setting up their offense without making it look dancy. SHO and YOH don't always hit hard or land hard or have follow through, but BUSHI and Takahashi made their offense shine. They're a little too generous at times, as a lot of this match was controlled by SHO/YOH, and I wasn't quite buying it. Desperado commits to making a silly triple German suplex work, taking the point position meaning he had to jump backwards and blind over 3 other bumping dudes, and BUSHI can plaster a guy into the guardrail with a tope. Kanemaru is officially awesome as he breaks up a pin by dragging the ref out of the ring by his foot and throwing him into the railing and looking at the ref like "why did you make me do that?" Ref deserves full WoW ref point for the bump too. I really need to seek out any Desperado/Kanemaru tag matches.

Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay

ER: I have been on a real positive Ospreay run, he's been almost exclusively a part of stuff I've liked in 2018, but daaaaaaaamn this will be the real test right here. If this turns out to be anywhere close to as good as the hype, Ospreay will probably end up in my top 25 at the end of the year. But man Scurll sucks in so many ways. He's verbal in a way that's more cornball than Barry Darsow, saying lame shit like "You Suck!" before a chop, stopping in between moves to taunt and pose more than the worst of RVD, and this one specific thing that really bugs me: He's got terrible aim. You watch old World of Sport and guys have these precision movements, all of them are practically ace sleight of hand artists, able to yank a foot or hand or be immediately right in the position they need to be. Scurll reaches. We know he's the worst of the fake World of Sport style guys, but he always fumbles for anything intricate. Even grabbing a knucklelock he's fumbling his hand around trying to find where to grip, he'll go to rip nostrils and be feeling around his opponent's face like he was Helen Keller, making his opponent have to just hold still until butterfingers can do his spot. He's no different here. But Ospreay is really good, and pays a lot more attention to little things than other swing dance instructor wrestlers. He swings low and fast on missed clotheslines, works rope running sequences fast and snug like Finlay used to do against Power Plant muscleheads, throws some hard strikes, and he can make opponents' offense look good and make bumps look painful, not just easy. He gets superkicked from the apron and crumples up and almost spikes his head into the floor, and he sells injuries so well that I've been tricked into thinking he's suffered mid-match injuries. His neck selling here is really good, really turning himself visually into a man who is now a dangerous driver because he can't turn his head to make sure he's merging safely. And giving credit where it's due, Scurll's neck work was good, and I liked that once Ospreay started selling the neck, Scurll went almost exclusively for neck impact moves. There's a dueling chant that...have I ever heard a dueling chant in Japan before? It sure doesn't sound familiar. But even then he's still way shittier than most. Guy can't just drop a guy on his head, he has to set up a fully implausible skin the cat tombstone spot. But Ospreay's snaps himself in half on a neckbreaker and gets me back into this. Ospreay is yelling so much that he sounds like the final 5 minutes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Every time he's touched he's grunting and shrieking in anguish. We get a real lousy punch exchange, and more Scurll making Ospreay freeze in time so he can get in a catchphrase, but Ospreay hits a couple cool kicks and then takes a throw over the top rope neck first on the edge of the apron. This guy is crazy and is really saving a shitty Scurll match. But as much as I love Ospreay's selling, it's really stupid how much dangerous stuff he still does with an injured neck. Like you think you'd change up your offense to avoid doing a Spanish Fly off the apron to the floor that smashes your own face on the apron on the way down (though it does bust him open and give him some good color). Scurll just can't help doing something shitty when he does something cool, which is more frustrating that just being shitty. He hits all these brutal stomps to Ospreay's neck, really pounding him, enough that I would have bought a stoppage finish. But right before that he set them up by doing a finger break spot on both of Ospreay's hands, and there's not a spot around that needs a breather like the finger break. And after all of the crazy shit that happens in this match, Ospreay wins with a cutter. Seriously? The fact that it comes moments after he had a couple fingers broken, had his neck stomped in, and got dropped on his head with a kneeling piledriver. He just kind of decides to come back and win with a cutter, even though Scurll hadn't taken much offense in the minutes before losing. An 80% great performance from Ospreay, and an 80% lousy performance from Scurll, we ended up with a match that was really good in spots, but overall frustrating.

Cody/Hangman Page vs. Kenny Omega/Kota Ibushi

ER: Cody is infinitely more interesting when Brandi is out there, gives him a whole different attitude and a better demeanor. She is not out there. However, Cody is also more interesting when standing next to Page, due to the sheer uninterestingness of Page. Page is the designated ugly friend. Cody throws nice short rights, can convincingly bully a guy into a corner, and warms my heard with a perfect Arn Anderson somersault bump after a shot to the stomach. I support his wearing of a weight belt like he was Masa Saito or something, but the whole "Nightmare" thing is pretty goofus. Ibushi and Omega can bump, obviously, and I liked them getting bodyslammed by Page on a table, but jamming in a Young Bucks conversation into the middle of the match was a really stupid idea. Just having them come out when Cody is about to leap off the top, and have everybody stop and stare at them so Matt can go "Come on. Come on, Cody. Com on," for a couple minutes effectively made this pretty uninteresting pretty quick. Ibushi has a real nice hot tag but I hate that they only went back in control because of that Young Bucks intervention. Now Cody is bleeding, lost momentum due to his buds trying to get him to dye his hair back, and he's somehow looking like the sympathetic figure in the match. That shouldn't be what they're going for. We hit a fun trainwreck spot of one guy running into to do a big move to someone who just did a big move, Ibushi really got planted on a Cody DDT, and Page gets planted himself on a snap dragon suplex. Setting up apron spots with Omega is always questionable, and we get a overly complicated dance involving all four guys, but the table that had been set up for this apron move does come nicely into play a few minutes later with Omega bumping back through it. But Cody cheating to set up a roll up win was pretty lame and didn't really go with the rest of the match.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada

ER: Jim Ross mentions Negro Navarro early, as Sabre's MMA trainer, and I have to rewind to make sure I heard that right. It's weird to me to think that JR might have watched a Negro Navarro match at some recent point. And I really liked this match, it was a brisk 35 minutes with a super strong Sabre showing, and Okada stepping it up nicely for their first singles together. I don't know if this was as good as any of the Tanahashi/Sabre series, but this was real good. Okada is a guy with usually bad execution on simple strikes and transitions, a guy who is mentally focused on the "big move" of a sequence so glosses over the stomach kicks and offense that's meant to missed, going on autopilot at times. Here he's really present, really facially sells that Sabre is tearing him apart, and really laces in some strikes like isn't always guaranteed. And I really liked the build to this, with them stressing that Okada had only tapped once (to Nakamura) and here you have Sabre who's been a submission spider monkey for the last 6 months. It's a classic, simple story: X is tough to beat a certain way, Y is the best at doing that certain way. And Sabre was awesome, really vicious with leg submissions. At one point he had his weight leaned so far back on a half crab that it looked like he was trying to rip Okada's leg out from the hip joint. I love when he works these nasty leg grapevines and we got some cool ones, and in one of the more vicious things I've ever seen him do, he does a standing twist with Okada's leg wedged between his legs. It looked really swift and violent. He even turned a dropkick into an STF in a pretty cool moment. Okada worked meaner than usual, throwing his forearms like he was Laettner coming down from a layup. They had a good brawl on the floor, with Sabre taking a couple great hard bumps on his hip, really making Okada's offense seem more dangerous than it felt, falling hard into the front row, really feigning a good asskicking. I still can't decide how I feel about the back half of the fight. Sabre wisely switched up his attack to Okada's arm, which is some more classic "weaken the champ's biggest weapon" stuff, but by the end it felt like he did so much nasty stuff to the arm, and it didn't once stop Okada from attempting to still use that arm. If Okada wins every match with the Rainmaker, and a submission guy who has been tapping everyone works on that Rainmaker arm for 10 minutes, and it doesn't weaken it one bit? That essentially makes Okada out to be the Terminator, which makes things a lot less fun. Okada hasn't lost in 2 years, and I think Sabre would have been an awful mega asshole to break that streak. I thought the arm submissions were awesome, some arm scissors, armbar caught from an elbow drop, dodging that Rainmaker into more armbars, and a tight triangle that really felt like the finish. But then Okada started dropping clotheslines anyway and it felt like it didn't matter. I did think Sabre kicking out of them felt big, and the tombstone dropped Sabre right on his dome, so I can't deny the brutality of that finish...But I also kind of resented that finish. This match review has taken me all evening to finish because I can't decide whether this was really damn good or really good but flawed.

I'm gonna go watch that I Hate Christian Laettner documentary.



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