The 2009 post
I finished the first disc of the '08 Champion's Carnival (covering the A Block). Lots of good stuff here, with a ton of stories woven through. You have Kojima's injured lariat arm, Kea busting his ass like crazy, but not being able to eke out a win, Tanahashi just generally being a douchebag (in the best way possible!) and Mutoh/Kawada bringing the veteran presence.
Favorite match so far was probably Mutoh/Tanahashi. Tanahashi dicks it up, eventually going to work on Mutoh's gimpy knees. Mutoh makes the comeback to show the young buck how to properly crack a kneecap and then they sprint to the finish. It wasn't a *great* match, but I was digging it all the way through. Kawada/Tanahashi was decent as well, but there were some dead spots that the Mutoh match didn't really have.
Kea is something of a revelation. I don't watch a ton of puro, so I'd only seen a few of his matches. He mentions being Triple Crown champion at one point. Is there anything from that era worth tracking down? Don't know if he was just picking it up for the big shows, but he was pretty great through all of this.
Went back to the DVDVR Memphis project today. After tomorrow, I'm taking off for an entire week, so my plan is to finish off as many of these discs as I can. Maybe even get my ballot in, if I'm lucky.
Anyway, from what I watched today, I'd say that the Lanny Poffo vs. Ron Garvin and the Garvin vs Savage cage match were the two standouts. Poffo is so much better than WWF job duty ever indicated. To the point that I'm wondering if anyone ever did a comp of his earlier work, because I want to see more. On the other hand, he does commentary on both of these matches and yeah...he should stay in the ring. He comes across as if he's half asleep, which isn't necessarily the vibe a sportscaster of any sort should be going for. At any rate, he busts out a moonsault, standing moonsault and pretty much a proto-swanton here, in a match that happened in 1982.
Savage/Garvin is just a fun little bloodbath. Garvin, of course, isn't afraid to kick the crap out of *anyone* and this is Savage in his absolute prime. Some great punches thrown here and the use of the cage actual augments the match instead of getting in the way. Loved the finish (Garvin crotches himself up top and Savage pulls him directly into a piledriver) as well.
I also watched all but the last few minutes of ECW's Heatwave '94 show, as I was starting to fall asleep. Decent show, but nothing that demands a second viewing. Main event w/ Douglas vs Sabu is probably the only thing you'd really want to track down. I actually dug the Chad Austin vs. Mikey Whipwreck match a bunch, too, but I'm probably the world's only Chad Austin fan and this had a bunch of awkward spots where he almost kills Mikey with various head droppy stuff. There's a brainbuster, in particular, that made me cringe.
Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee (Loser Leaves Town) from 6/6/83 is as perfect a wrestling match as I think I've ever seen. It feels absolutely EPIC, including all of the other wrestlers sitting around ringside just to watch. The crowd is absolutely molten hot and these two just put on a clinic. Amazing, amazing match. If it's not #1 on my Memphis ballot, I can't imagine what will knock it down.
(Note: This match did indeed take the top spot in my Memphis ballot. You want to see it. Trust me.)
Watched the Global Lt. Heavyweight title tournament. Most of it is shown only in short clips, which seems to be for the best. It's amazing how much wrestling has changed stylistically since that point, especially in terms of juniors. There was some awful looking stuff on display here. The Lynn/Waltman final is complete and almost as good as I remembered it. Kid looks like he's 10, but he hits all sorts of flippy stuff and is years ahead of his time. I had forgotten that Lynn used to do some high flying as well.
There's also a second show with Eddie Gilbert defending the TV belt versus Chaz. They have three fans frisk Gilbert for weapons beforehand and, of course, they all find something. Gilbert is hilarious here. Anyway, Chaz sucks, but Gilbert could work circles around pretty much anyone so this was fun. Just as a reminder of how stupid ESPN was (is?), this match ends with Gilbert fireballing Chaz, but it's off camera, because I guess it would encourage the kiddies to fireball siblings, teachers, nuns or the like.
I watched an ep of WCWSN last night (5/2/92), co-hosted by Jason Hervey. JR's utter contempt for him is just barely disguised, so the commentary in this is really fun. Main event features an Arn Anderson/Big Josh 2/3 falls match that goes about 35-40 minutes w/ commercials. Really good match. Matt Bourne should be remembered way more fondly. He was still pumping out good matches even into the Doink run.
Only one match into the B Block of this year's Champ's Carnival, but consider me an official entrant into the Church of Minoru Suzuki. How have I not seen every pro wrestling match that this guy has ever had?
What a tremendous dickhead. He wrestled Doering in the match I watched and he just smothers him, going from limb to limb and basically tries to rip off a body part and take it with him. And when he's not doing that, he's smacking Doering over and over again, then standing there, coldly laughing as Doering tries to pick himself up. The ref gets in his way at one point, so Suzuki casually flicks him to the mat and again, starts cackling about it. He chokes Doering out at one point, then stands back and admires his handiwork. Sweet christ, was it ever great.
Overall, it was a lackluster match because there was just too much of a style clash, but if nothing else, I couldn't look away from Suzuki. Can't wait to see the rest of his matches. I'm trying to wrap my head around sort of match that he and Nishimura will have, but I can't quite figure it out.
WCWSN - 5/9/92
Not much of note through most of the show. Co-host this week was one of the guys in the band Alabama. There was a fun interview segment with Rick Rude, where three separate women in the crowd claim to be having affairs with Rick Steamboat (who the Dangerous Alliance is accusing of stalking Medusa). One of them repeatedly calls the other a slut and JR isn't happy about that at all. Rude, however, can barely stop himself from cracking up. Main event is Austin vs. Windham, 2/3 falls (don't know if I mentioned it, but the gimmick of the shows at this point is that the main event every week is 2/3 falls). Not as good as the match these two had from the show a few weeks before, but still pretty awesome.
I also watched another disc of the Memphis set, mostly focused on Savage matches. Seriously, he wrestles like he was shot out of a cannon. I've always thought that early Muta was about the quickest wrestler I'd ever seen, but Savage is just all over the place and looks absolutely smooth and effortless with every single thing he does.
Tried to watch Doering/Nishimura last night, but it put me to sleep. I get why people like Nish (and I think if I were in the right mood I'd dig him as well), but he sure can be deliberate at times. Makes sense that he's so close with Dory Funk, because I've always felt the same about him, too.
Through mid-'86 in the Memphis set. The December '85 Dundee/Lawler loser leaves town match is just about perfect. Actually the entire angle is fantastic, as Dundee is like a man possessed. He's been great through the entire set, but during this timeframe, he turns it up like 5 notches. Quite possibly one of the best angles that I've ever seen. Here's pretty much how it plays out.
Much spoilerage follows, if you ever plan on watching any of this...
-Lawler/Dundee are teammates.
-Fabulous Ones cut a promo talking about how Dundee mentioned that they were better than the Fabs. They think it's fine that he brags about beating teams like the Road Warriors, but they'd never wrestled the Fabs and he didn't want fans to think that it was a sure bet just because Dundee said so. That brings out Dundee, who decides that they're going to have the match right there and then. Fabs pretty much demur because they feel that the good guys shouldn't be wrestling one another, but kicking some heel ass instead.
-Lawler comes out and agrees with them and pretty much tells Dundee to chill out. Dundee is just raring to go the entire time. Lawler points out that the Fabs are the tag champs and that he's the Southern champ. Dunbdee takes exception because he doesn't have a belt and can't get a title shot versus his "friends." He's starting to come off as a bit of a jerk in the process. Lawler is pissed and says that he doesn't want to team with Dundee anymore. Dundee goes berserk and attacks everyone in sight before running off.
-Later in the show, Dundee demands a match versus Lawler, putting up his $25,000 sports car to sweeten the pot. Lawler calls it a pile of junk and turns down the match. Dundee then puts up his hair and that's good enough for Lawler. So they have a great match and Dundee CHEATS TO WIN! Lawler wants a rematch, but Dundee tells him that he won't get one for 30 days, then spills the beans that Ric Flair is coming to town in 28 days and that Lawler won't be getting the NWA title shot...he will. And that when he beats Flair, he's not even going to wrestle Lawler then. He's going to *give* him the Southern title, because he won't be needing it at that point.
-Even later in the same show, Lawler comes out with a baseball bat and tells Dundee that he's got 10 seconds to give him the rematch, or his beloved car is going to be smashed to bits. Dundee finally agrees.
-Jump to the LLT match (which is almost two months later, so I can't wait to get to the extras disc that covers this feud in more detail to see what I missed), where somehow, Dundee and his wife's (!) hair are now on the line as well. One of Lawler's eyes is completely bandaged up from a previous attack, so everything he does in this match is just slightly mistimed because of it. Because people sold stuff like that once upon a time. The rest of the roster surrounds the ring in the front row, mush like they did in the first LLT match between these two.
-Lawler/Dundee proceed to brawl around the entire building and have one the greatest brawls that I've ever seen. The finish sees one of the heels at ringside (Tony Falk) slip Dundee something, which he then blasts Lawler in the eye with. 1-2-3! Lawler actually loses a LLT match! In the Mid-South Coliseum! Crowd is pretty much wetting itself and the babyfaces around ringside look like they're ready to cry. Just a phenomenal job by everyone here.
(Note: This was #3 on my Memphis ballot)
Finished the '08 Champs Carnival today. The Tanahashi/Suwama final was 12 flavors of awesome. Probably a top 10 match of the year for me, actually. It maybe got a bit nearfall heavy down the stretch and it was hurt by me knowing the result going in, but yeah...loads of drama and a lot of quality nearfalls over the last few minutes.
I was largely underwhelmed by the rest of the B block matches, but as I said in a previous post, Minoru Suzuki is so great that his matches made up for any other lackluster action. The match with Sasaki is king sized. Sasaki just beats the snot out of him with chops as MiSu stands there and laughs in his face for a bit before bitchslapping him. Who the fuck does that to Kensuke Sasaki, of all people? MiSu, that's who.
Got through the first night of the 2008 wXw 16 carat tourney. Quackenbush/Danielson have a good match (these two have yet to have the blowaway match you'd expect, though. It's always just slightly...off) and the Doug Williams/Marufuji match is worth tracking down as well. Everything else is pretty middling, though. I'm about halfway through Night 2 and again, there's nothing awful and the big name guys are pumping out quality matches, but I wouldn't go out of my way to call anything "must see."
Finished off night two of the '08 16 carat tourney. Quack/Saint is even better than the hype would indicate. I love that Quack just has the biggest grin on his face through the entire match, like even he can't believe the match is happening and then you have Hero totally marking out on commentary as well. At any rate, if you like Saint, you'll love this, as it's pretty much a primer on all of his goofy (and I mean that in the greatest way possible) reversals and limb work with Quack staying right beside him the entire time.It never occurred to me before seeing this match, but I've come to the conclusion that a Saint vs Skayde match would make the entire planet implode from too much awesome.
-Danielson vs Marufuji was pretty much what you'd expect. Good match, but if you've seen their ROH stuff (single match and tags) you wouldn't need to track it down.
-Then there's the Steve Douglas vs Alex Pain match. Pretty much every little thing I hate about modern indy wrestling (total overkill, lots of fighting spirit junk, a shit ton of nearfalls that you'd never buy as the finsh) combined into a package that...I absolutely loved. I don't even want to try to explain it, but this had me marking out nonstop. I think Hero and Bryce on commentary helped a lot and the crowd is pretty much rabid, so it felt like a really "big" match and all that crap didn't come off as being unnecessary.
-Also, for what little it's worth, I watched the best of '08 Impact deal and it's the first TNA show in weeks (maybe months) that didn't have me heavily leaning on the fast forward button. TNA airing wrestling? Oh, the humanity!
Fallout 3 has really cut into the amount of wrestling I've been watching since Christmas, but I am halfway through the third night of the '08 16 Carat tournament. The Hero/Danielson match is good. Not great, but definitely worth watching. Can't help but to think that they wrestled an unnecessarily long match just to do it, though.
Is there any sort of story behind the Chuck Taylor/Taiji Ishimori matches here? On Night two, they're on opposite sides of a six man tag. Ishimori gets pinned after an Awful Waffle and immediately pops up and gets in Taylor's face. On night three, they face each other one on one. Ishimori absolutely obliterates him with a DDT, looking like he legit shook Taylor up. The finish was definitely blown, as Bryce ends up hesitantly counting to three as Chucky T just lays there looking stunned. Ishimori proceeds to lay in a few shooty looking stomps and generally acts like a giant dick. Can't imagine what sort of heat these two would have. It's not like they're generally working in the same circles. I didn't see anything in the tag match that looked unprofessional on Taylor's part, either.
Finally finished the 16 Carat tourney.
-4 Team elimination match was just a crazy spotfest. It was also a mess, but not necessarily in a *bad* way. PCO nearly kills a fan, as he press slams Adam Polack over the top rope and directly onto some dude at ringside. Nutty. I'm starting to dig Big Van Walter. His stuff w/ PCO was pretty fun.
-Quack/Marufuji was really disappointing. They didn't seem to click at all. I might have been looking forward to this almost as much as Quack/Saint, but yeah...really lackluster.
-Steve Douglas vs Generico was more overkill than you can shake a stick at (there's a sequence where they trade half and half suplexes that's just ridiculous, though Chucky T trying to explain the concept of fighting spirit on commentary is pretty great), but again, it ended up being a fun little match. I thought the finish was pretty clever, as Generico hit his running Yakuza in the corner. His leg ended up draped over the top and he was playing to the crowd as Douglas collapsed. Douglas has just enough energy to suddenly lift him up and spike him with a Rubix Cube for the win. From what I've read, he refers to the move as Natürliche Auslese, which I believe translates to Natural Selection. That's a nifty name for a finisher, actually.
-Danielson vs Bad Bones in the finals was...decent. I think Bones will end up being really good in a few years, but there were stretches here that I wasn't into. Of course, it had more overkill and I was starting to burn out on head drop after head drop. When he stuck to working Danielson's injured leg and doing strike exchanges, I think it came off much better. Why has simplicity turned into such a dirty word in wrestling?
I also started Hardcore Heaven '94, which has one of the most blown finishes I've ever seen. It's the TV title match with Jason challenging against Mikey Whipwreck. Ref is bumped by an inadvertant Mikey chairshot. Mikey then nails Jason and covers him. He's looking around for a run in that someone apparently dropped the ball on. Ref counts 1-2-3...or did he? He actually just collapses into a heap at the third count. Much confusion reigns, as the crowd thinks the match is over. Pibulls (finally) run out and crotch Mikey on the post. Jason rolls him up and the ref magically revives in time for the three count. It's Philly, so the crowd shits all over this.
Started a Stan Hansen comp...
-Disc 1 opens with a cage match versus Sammartino (1976). This is clipped to shreds, but looked like it would have been a really hot brawl in it's entirety.
-Next up is a match against Inoki (2/8/80). The more early 80s New Japan I see, the more I like it. God, the crowds are molten. Just to show how over/feared the lariat was, the crowd oohs and ahhs every time Hansen whips Inoki into the ropes, regardless of the intent. Anyway, this is a great little brawl and Hansen just kills him with a Lariat at the end.
-You know who deserves more credit? Bob Backlund. He typically gets painted with the Howdy Doody, white meat babyface brush, but the guy could work an incredible brawl and was just freakishly strong. He essentially deadlifts Hansen with *one arm* in this match. Not the typical "Backlund lift" setup where the guy being picked up can help with the lift, either.
-Last match I watched before crashing was versus Andre (9/23/81). I rarely hear people mention this match. They should, because it's FANTASTIC. Andre is totally mobile here and bumps around like a freak. He's working heel in this match and just has some great timing feeding into Hansen's comebacks and what not. He also laughs maniacally after delivering moves, so what's not to love? You could almost say that this was worked as a sprint and Andre never slowed down at all. It originally ends up in a DCO, but Andre basically threatens to murder every man, woman and child in the building if it's not restarted. Hansen is okay with that, so we get a few more minutes of them beating the shit out of one another. Andre even loads up an elbow pad and murderizes the ref with a Lariat of his own, just to show Hansen how it's supposed to be done.
After the match, there's like 6-7 guys trying to hold Andre back and he casually flicks them off like they weren't even there. They continue to brawl and it resembles a Godzilla movie, as tiny Japanese dudes scramble to break up two crazy dudes intent on killing one another. If you haven't seen this...do so.
Through the first disc of the Hansen comp. None of this is less than exceptional. Hansen was such a beast. Every single thing he did looked like it hurt like hell. Only thing I couldn't get into was the Hansen/Brody vs Funks ('82 Tag League Finals) match. I've actually seen it before and it's a great match, but the copy I have on this disc doesn't have sound. Wrestling isn't the same without the crowd response. Or even the simple sound of guys taking bumps, for that matter.
This disc also has the best Baba match (9/3/83) I've ever seen. I typically can't stand to watch him work. Honestly, that has more to do with his spindly looking arms and his protruding ribcage than anything, but, uh...yeah. He actually works at a pretty decent clip here and Hansen isn't afraid to lay in some shots.
I also watched the ECW "Double Tables" show. Benoit/Snow holds up, though you have some bits in commentary and Benoit's postmatch promo that make it a bit awkward to watch in retrospect. There's also a Douglas match versus Tully Blanchard that you'll want to avoid. These two don't click at all. Also, Sandman/Cactus in the famous(ly awful) Texas Deathmatch, where Sandman gets a concussion moments in and seemingly forgets the match type and keeps getting up for no reason, causing Cactus to practically have to kill him to keep him down for a 10 count.
Main event is Public Enemy vs Sabu/Taz in the eponymous double tables match. PE is, quite frankly, so underrated that it isn't even funny. WCW killed their aura and turned them into kiddy fare, but in this time period, in this company, they were amazing. One of the best teams of the 90s, really. Sure, Johnny Grunge sucked, but he could dependably take a beating and bleed, which is all they ever asked of him. People forget how good Ted Petty was. I'm sure there's a newer generation of indy fan who don't know him at all outside of his name being attached to TPI, which is a shame. Amazing worker on an indy level years before things like that mattered. At any rate, this brawl is a blast to watch and definitely captures the "spirit" of ECW. This also has the famous spot where Benoit runs in postmatch and powerbombs Sabu off the top, through Rocco Rock who's laying on a table. We've kinda gone through an era where we've seen it all, but in '95, this was revolutionary. I remember thinking that Rocco was dead when I first saw it.
Ran through another episode of SMW. 2/15/92, to be exact. Featuring the debut of "Hollywood" Bob Holly. He's sporting long, flowing brown hair (he goes blonde for the Hardcore gimmick, but not a Hollywood gimmick? Crazy!) and is working a much more fast paced, athletic style than he would go onto in later years. Finishes the job guy with a kneedrop of the top that even Jim Cornette is comparing favorably to Bobby Eaton's. Of course, then he opened his mouth and the Alabama accent was decidedly un-Hollywood, but...yeah.
-Paul Orndorff also makes his debut (I guess pointing this out is redundant. It's the second show...pretty much *everyone* is debuting) against Rip Rogers. Fun match. Rogers is fantastic as always. No piledriver from Orndorff, as it's outlawed in SMW.
-Dutch Mantell/Scott Armstrong is there pretty much just to sell Bob Armstrong laying down the rules on episode one. Dutch uses the whip and gets fined $500.
-Main event is the Fantastics (Jackie Fulton version) versus Ivan and Vladimir Koloff. Not sure who Vlad is, but he's super green, to the point that Ivan is pretty much calling the entire match from the apron and telling him every single thing he should do. Good stuff, though, if you appreciate the southern tag formula match.
-Show closes with a truly bizarre Terry Gordy promo that makes me wonder how many different things he was on in '92. I wish I could youtube it (actually, I'm sure I could, but that's a bit more effort than I'm ready for tonight), because I'm sure you'd all get a kick out of it. Bob Caudle is left staring at him blankly, wondering what the hell just happened.
Interestingly, they're already starting to sell the debut of the Heavenly Bodies, even though they won't show up for a few more months. At any rate, these shows are great. SMW was probably the last "territory," so to speak, and it's always great to watch that sort of small show where the crowds are molten hot and it's more of a family atmosphere. That Cornette booked the sort of wrestling that I'm into doesn't hurt, either.
-"Hollywood" Bob Holly vs Pat Rose opens the show. Now Holly has added a bit of a porn 'stache. It's not a good look for him. It must have thrown off the aerodynamics of the top rope knee as well, as he almost crushed Rose's sternum with it...
-Ivan Koloff introduces Jimmy Golden (AKA Bunkhouse Buck) as his new partner. Apparently, Vladimir was shipped back to Russia. Can't argue with this, as Golden is 12 kinds of awesome.
-Rip Rogers versus Joey Maggs isn't as good as I was hoping. Maggs is a guy who did job duty for Crockett for ages and was always perfect in that role. He was one of my favorite enhancement dudes over the years. Rip Rogers seems to have slipped through the cracks. I don't know that people who weren't watching back in the day have heard of him at all, which is a shame. At any rate, there was nothing awful hee, but Rogers seemed like he was off.
-Robert Gibson versus THE MIGHTY YANKEE! Ha. Gotta love southern wrestling. Not sure who Yankee was (Carl Styles, maybe?), but he was awful. Gibson's coming off of a knee injury that put him out for almost a year. To sum up, this was horrid.
-Tim Horner versus Barry Horowitz was fantastic. If Horowitz was like 6" taller or came into the business 10 years later when he could have wrestled as a junior, he'd have been a star. Just a tremendous worker in every promotion I've ever seen him in. Even in the early Jack Hart days he was always going to give you a much faster paced match than anyone on the show without compromising his ability to actually work a match.
-Brian Lee vs Dutch Mantell is the main event. Fun brawl. Finish was Dutch trying to use knucks (obtained by manager Ron Wright), but Lee steals them, drops lee and covers him. Ref counts two, sees the knucks and DQs Lee. At this point in time, that was more clever than cliche, so the crowd was ready to kill.
-One of the big angles of these early shows is that Ron Wright is looking for a guy to manage. Wright is great, as he's probably in his late 50s at this point and is in a wheelchair because he needs hip/knee replacements, but his medicare won't cover it. So he needs to find a guy that can make him cash so he can get his operations. You get this brokedown looking old guy heeling it up while the crowd is calling for his death. The heels are totally sympathetic to him all the while. It's a really neat little twist.
-There was a match with Brad Anderson (son of Gene). He spends the entire match *not* working the arm. Have you ever heard of Brad Anderson before now? Now you know why. Heh.
Decided to start watching TPI '08, just because a bunch of the matches are on the '08 MOTYC set and I wanted to see them in context. I finished night 1 in one sitting and it was off the charts. I understand that night 2 is supposed to be much better, so I'm already comfortable in placing this right under '04 as the best TPI ever.
-Having only seen one other full IWA show in '08, I'm not at all invested in the Strife/Dingo feud, but the opening angle really made me want to see the LLT match in the main of N1. And holy crap, did Dingo ever hit a gusher.
-Ego/Ali was a fun opener with both of them just busting out the ridiculous spots to get the already hot crowd even more into the show.
-Smothers/ Taylor was nothing special, but did it's job to get Taylor over. Smothers had the working shoes on, as we got no shtick at all from him.
-Bobby Fish is way better than he was the last time I saw him. Scorpio is one of the best workers on the indy scene period right now, so this was 12 kinds of awesome.
-Death Rey vs. Trik was basically there to start setting up the Trik/Hero match on night two. Nothing wrong with this, but definitely one of the weaker matches of the night.
-Drake vs 2 Tough Tony? Eh. It's always fun to watch a guy like Tony who doesn't usually work a straight wrestling match do just that, but there was never any douby that Drake was going to win and that took away from the match a bit.
-Umm...Cassandro has a death wish. He took two bumps in this match that were absolutely, cringe inducingly ridiculous. Then he nearly killed Chucky T on the finish, dropping him collarbone first. Nasty stuff. Anyway, this was full of shtick and all of it was awesome.
-Sami versus Hero was typical, "Hero murders the young guy" match that Hero's been working in IWA for years. If you're a stiffness mark, you'll adore this. The postmatch stuff with Hero/Trik didn't work as well, though, if only because they just picked up an angle that hadn't been touched on at all in like 2 years. Sure, I want to see Hero kill the crap out of Trik, but it's not because the angle was well built. Heh.
-Necro/King is a top shelf brawl. These two never have a bad match. Kingston looks legitimately touched at his reaction, so no thoughts of a beautiful death tonight...
-This is possibly the worst match Josh Abercrombie/Raymond and Tyler Black ever had. It's a shame, as Raymond was one of my favorites a few years ago and he's seemingly fallen off the map in the interim.
-Ace/Ares just flat out sucked. I don't get the love that Ares seems to have. There's definitely a reason that Claudio became the bigger star. Ares is just sorta there through all of this. Hey...if he doesn't care, either do I.
-Can't stand Michael Elgin or Ricochet, but I can give credit where it's do. Great match, with both guys working really well from the big vs little template. Elgin probably bumps around for him a little too much, but yeah...it's hard to complain too much about that.
-The Claudio/Jacobs match would have worked better in front of an ROH audience, but it was still pretty decent overall. Jacobs is amazing at just about everything he does, but working a more technical match seems to be his weakness at this point.
-Dingo/Strife is a fun, heated brawl. Not *great* by any means, but you have two guys working a brawl based on emotion and hate. It didn't feel like they were going through the motions, so to speak. The blood helped sell the match that much more and Dingo is really great at timing the comebacks. I definitely need to see more of him.
-Not sure if he's the regular announcer now, but I really liked Mike Z. I never dug Ben Jordan that much, because he was easier to derail from calling a match than even Prazak was. The commentary got way too in-jokey and just flat out dumb at times. Mike Z seems to know his stuff pretty well, lets the color guys add color without stepping over their stories (I love Smothers blowing move names and Mike Z just sitting there saying that he's the one paid to be the wrestling dork and that Smothers can just call stuff whatever he wants to) and actually sells the angles, no matter how silly.
Almost through TPI, as I'm getting ready to watch the Trik/Hero match. Night 2 is indeed a whole lot better than night 1. I'm sold on Sara Del Ray's awesomeness, which isn't something I would have said going into this show. I guess watching her have to wrestle down to a lesser opponent doesn't showcase what she can do (which jives perfectly with the underwhelming Trik Davis match in rd 1, actually). But put her in there with someone who can actually go and it turns out that she's fantastic.
I didn't hear the goofy 6 man match getting much love, but if you enjoy comedy wrestling, this is pretty choice as well. Made all the better by Kingston/Taylor on commentary with Mike Z.
I started into the MOTYC '08 set.
Takashi Sasaki & Yuko Miyamoto vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yoshihito Sasaki (Big Japan 1/2/08)
I dug this a lot, even if it took me half the match to figure out who was who (Sekimoto is the only one I've seen more than a few matches of). Lots of overkill here, but you can get away with that in a tag match, since you always have another guy to break up a pin instead of kicking out of 27 ridiculous headdrops in a row all on your own. Sasaki/Miyamoto, in particular were pretty fabulous. Sekimoto was actually fairly understated, as you'd think this would be the sort of match that would let him indulge all of his worst tendencies. Instead, he actually sells some stuff and doesn't overtly try to murder anyone. Heh.
Bryan Danielson vs. Low-Ki (PWG 1/5/08)
I wrote about this one already, even if it's long since purged. To sum up, I love the matwork here. All kinds of nasty little stuff like Danielson trying to rip Ki's ear off. It came across as two guys fighting for position, instead of being locked into a generic sequence that we've seen a hundred times before.
Teddy Hart vs. Eddie Kingston vs. Homicide (JAPW 1/19)
I seriously think that the only joy that Homicide gets out of life is to cause Teddy Hart as much pain as he possibly can. Both he and King just kill the crap out of Teddy. Stiff strikes, tons of chairs thrown awkwardly and dangerously in his general direction. Teddy takes his beating like a man, though, and manages to pop off a few moonsaults off of stuff. Because that's what he does, you know? I wouldn't call this a MOTYC at all, but it sure as hell was fun. King kinda comes off looking weak (even scared) in parts of this, but I have no idea what the angle going in between he and 'Cide is, so, uh...yeah.
Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black (ROH 1/25/08)
I liked this a whole bunch. I guess this was Black's big breakout match, hence the name of the show? He maybe overdoes the cocky little punk act a bit, but it actually works into the match, as his total disrespect throughout the match throws Dragon off his game a bit. I guess my big complaint (if it's really a complaint at all) is that Black works this match way too much as a face when he's not dicking it up. Lots of spots built around his determination and the spunky "refuse to lose" attitude. I, of course, am much more of a "traditional" fan, so I want to see heels show ass, backpedal and generally just act like chickenshit douchebags. I can certainly appreciate the match, it's just not necessarily what I'm personally into.
Finished the first disc of the '08 set. I was kinda dreading the long NOAH 6-man at the end of the disc (Kobashi/Honda/Taniguchi vs. Morishima/Marufuji/Suguira from 2/21), but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. They seemed to want to build Kobashi versus Morishima, but I was left wanting to see Kobashi/Marufuji a whole lot more. He doesn't show it as much in his work in the States, but Maru is such a great young punk. I was getting a similar vibe as I got from Kanemoto/Ohtani in the early 90s. He has utter disdain for his opponents and wants to not only make them lose, but look like complete idiots in the process. I don't think the concept of respect even pops into his head for a second in this match.
I also watched the second disc (and half of the 3rd) in the Edge set. I think they go into overdrive with the opportunist stuff at times but otherwise, he's one of the best heels in the last decade and I enjoy literally every single match he's involved in. The part I watched was his transformation into the "Rated R Superstar" and there was just one really fun brawl after another. There's an absolutely fantastic match versus Orton from Raw that I don't remember at all. Both guys playing "can you top this" just in their heel shtick alone.
Went through both "Tragedy & Triumph" and "All the Glitters" on the CHIKARA front (and started Vanity & Violence). The Quack/Shane Storm matches were all sorts of awesome, as you don't normally get to see Quack work an all out brawl where he's only out to whip some dude's ass. All sorts of other fun stuff as well, but nothing that I'd particularly recommend to someone who wasn't already going to check out most, if not all, CHIKARA shows.
Also watched the first Nitro from '97. I picked up the entire year ages ago, but never made it a priority to watch them, as I'd already seen them all. There's a nifty Rey/Psicosis match and maybe the best match Duggan had in WCW (versus Regal) and, uh...a whole lot of nWo junk. Also a really awkward, in retrospect, promo with Kevin Sullivan. Benoit & Woman no showed Nitro that night and Sullivan is wondering where they are.
I'm just about through May in the WCWSN '92 season. I'd seen all of these as well, but this is my favorite show in my favorite promotions best year ever, so I have been watching these as much as possible. Short show this week (the Braves are still my least favorite non-Phillies team in baseball because of this), but there's a Zbyszko/Anderson vs Steamboat/Koloff match that's pretty great. I'm up to the main event, which is Scotty Flamingo vs Johnny B Badd 2/3 falls. Scotty cuts a wacky promo beforehand and I'm forever confused at how he so seamlessly transitioned into the Raven character from...this.
Got the 3 disc Legends of Wrestling set with the roundtable discussions from 24/7. Watched the Lawler/JYD episode and the Flair segment on the second disc. These are pretty outstanding. Michael Hayes and Dusty Rhodes just hold court with all sorts of funny stories. Pat Patterson is a bit too humble about his creative role, but he'll get a few good lines in as well. Mike Graham is useless, but he seems to know that as much as anyone, so he largely shuts up and lets everyone else talk. His best lines so far have all been self deprecating. Like Hayes asking him if he'd buy a ticket for a one hour draw with Graham/Race or Graham/Flair and Graham pointing out that no one *ever* bought a ticket to see him. JR is decent in the moderator role, but I'd prefer him on the panel proper, as I'm sure he has as many great stories to tell as anyone.
Loveed the Bob Backlund/Sgt Slaughter TX Death Match from the Slaughter section of the Legends set. Absolutely fantastic in every single way possible. People sleep on both of these guys so much. Slaughter is maybe the best bumping big man out there and absolutely proves that you can sell for a smaller guy without losing an ounce of credibility. Backlund tends to get labeled as a vanilla "technical" guy, but he worked a number of amazing, high level brawls. Not as good as Slaughter's Alley Fight w/ Pat Patterson or the Boot Camp match with Iron Sheik from the same general time period, but still a match that I wouldn't hesitate to say that people should track down...
Watching a load of World Class from early '83. This is right after the big Freebirds heel turn, so a lot of this is aimed really specifically at their feud. And christ, is it ever amazing. Terry Gordy is an absolute beast, with Hayes/Roberts providing the chickenshit heel dynamic to the group. I'm really gaining a new appreciation for Kevin Von Erich. He's a lot better worker than he was ever given credit for. Hell, he might even be better than David, though he would never have gotten the push that David was in line for (or Kerry got) simply because of size. Lots of proto-light heavyweight spots, but he also had great strikes and could hold up his end of a brawl.
Lots of King Kong Bundy on the stuff I'm watching as well. He was a bit smaller at this point and could get around the ring pretty quickly. I'm a sucker for a talented big man who's willing to bump and sell for smaller guys, so his matches with Kevin are all great fun.
I also finished the "Heatseekers" episode of the Legends of Wrestling set. I like the Lawler/Hayes/Foley/Bischoff panel a lot more overall, though Dusty is sorely missed. I continue to be astonished, for whatever reason, at how cool Bischoff always comes across in interviews and stuff like this. He may be the only guy in the business who's actually at peace with the way that the end of WCW shook out. Oddly enough, I don't remember any of the matches on the disc other than the Freebirds debuting in MSG, so I'll assume that there's nothing else worth mentioning. Heh.
Still going through the Best of '08 set. Random-ish thoughts shall follow from what I recall over the past disc and a half or so...
-Kasai/Numazawa vs Sasaki/Miyamoto (6/23) was so much fun to watch. I hadn't watched a straight up deathmatch in quite a while and, while I'll never consider myself a fan of the style, they can definitely be fun in small doses. Nice to see that Kasai is still a total loon. Dude has the biggest death wish in the entire business.
-Hero/Tornado cage match was simultaneously one of the best matches I've seen from '08 and also one of the worst. Horribly overbooked at times and the overkill got pretty silly, but damn...what a match. Tons of drama, palpable hate, leg work that actually meant something. I think the positives outweigh the negatives overall, but I can also see sitting down to watch this in six months and hating it that time around. It's a match that I'll have to be in a specific mood to actually dig.
-The big six man elimination match from BattlArts was...underwhelming. I'm not sure why I didn't like it, but I didn't. Actually, I fell asleep the first time I sat down to watch it. That might be part of the issue, as I've been more exhausted than usual as of late. I'll definitely watch it again at some point, but yeah...didn't like this at all.
-Liked the first Bam Bam vs Pequeno Damien 666 match a lot. It has me pumped to see the hair vs hair match that closes out disc 6. Lots of really quick action, which hasn't been a part of most of the lucha I've watched lately, which has been more of the slower "traditional" style match ups.
Watched the first disc of CHIKARA's Vanity & Violence last night. Really solid show so far. Nothing that really stands out as much watch, but I've generally enjoyed most everything on the show so far. Best match on disc one is probably F.I.S.T vs Super Smash Bros. Don't think I'll ever be a fan of Uno, but Stup just keeps getting better and better. I did hate the fatality bit at the end, though. I've always been all in when it comes to CHIKARA's brand of goofy, but this just came off as stupid to me.
Drake/Vin is decent but the finish, no matter how much it made sense and tied into the angle, was awful. My mind still boggles at the thought of me ever liking Equinox, but yeah...good stuff here.
Oh, I finished 'Mania as well. I should have seen 'Taker/HBK sooner. It's my favorite match of the year so far and I think I've watched it 2-3 times since I went through it the first time. I wish every pro wrestler had the ability to evoke the emotion that this match does. There aren't a whole lot of wrestlers out there right now that actually make me care, so when you come across a match like this it's just that much better because of it.
CHIKARA's "The Artistic Pursuit..." (the midwest debut) show last night. The lucha tag was just brutally bad, but from that point on, the show was fantastic. The Vin Gerard/Fire Ant match just blew me away. I wasn't expecting it to be quite that good. I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that Vin was once Equinox. Talk about improvement.
The Increibles match was just one of those really fun, goofy sprints that CHIKARA busts out from time to time. Seemed like the partners mixed it up a bit more than in past Increibles matches as well, so that added an interesting dynamic.
I should also mention that Mantis was absolutely on fire in commentary as well. He was just spitting out killer line after killer line every time he opened his mouth.
CHIKARA - Cibernetico Begins.
Really fun show. Probably the best Cibernetico show overall, though the last two Cibernetico matches were probably a tad better than this one.
-Super Smash Bros vs 2.0 was shockingly good. Not a fan of either team, but this was really fun. Actually, I guess I'm not a fan of Uno. Stupified/Dos is pretty great
-Brodie Lee vs Hallowicked was fantastic. Not the typical match you get from CHIKARA, as these two just beat the crap out of one another. It would have been considered a good brawl anywhere, but in CHIKARA, it's probably top five.
-Claudio versus the Fab Two wasn't great, but they told a nice story and I like how they're setting up the Claudio/Sweeney team.
-King was awesome in the Cibernetico, generally stirring up his team and being a disingenuous douchebag. Also, he killed both Fire Ant and Lince DEAD with two of the more brutal backfists he's ever thrown. My only real gripe with the match is that, whenever he was in the ring or next in the lineup, Lince would act all hesitant about being on the rudo team, but because he was visible on the hard cam, you sepnt the entire match watching him casually chatting and yukking it up with the other rudos when he was lower in the batting order. The old school fan in me cringed at that. Otherwise, this was really well booked and had a ton of action.
Just watched the Super Crazy/Ultimo Dragon/Great Sasuke match from the Nosawa Bom-Ba-Ye show in July. I assume this is what sets up the Ultimo/Sasuke mask match, because we get all sorts of unmasking antics. Match is okay I guess, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. Super Crazy is mostly just in the way of the shtick with the other two, but to his credit, he takes a pair of ridiculous bumps to the floor to provide the athleticism of the match.
On the "Best of '08" set, I also watched the Ibushi/KENTA vs. Nakajima/Marufuji from the ROH Tokyo Summit show. Wouldn't call it a MOTYC myself, but it was perfectly fine professional wrestling. I guess my problem is that it was just worked as a complete exhibition and there was no reason to care about any of it. I have no problem watching a fun sprint for what it is, but that's not really my personal idea of "good" wrestling.
Rey Misterio Jr vs Juventud Guerrera - cage match (1/31/96)
This was amazing. All sorts of hate filled, mask ripping fun. People forget that before The Juice got, err...juicy, that he was an absolute top level talent. He and Rey mesh so well together and this just brings the goods from start to finish. They do some stuff that was state of the art in '96 and the build to the finish will have you holding your breath just to see if one of them can manage *not* to die. There's even a homage to the ECW "chairshot heard 'round the world" spot just to show you how far reaching ECW's impact was in this time period, for those of you who like to understate ECW's place in the grand scheme of 90's wrestling.
Hybrid Dolphins vs Young Bucks (DDT4 Finals)
God, this was really fun as well. Possibly my favorite Danielson match ever, actually. He channels Regal in this match to an absurd degree and just beats Matt Jackson down. Strong kills him a bunch as well and it's all just glorious. I didn't buy into the finish at all, though, and couldn't understand why the heels were wrestling for a hot tag (seriously, are the Bucks so set in their ways that they can't adjust to a crowd that so obviously wants to hate them?), but every second that Danielson was killin' fools was worth watching.
The Mistico/TMIV match from 8/15? You can skip it. Tiger Mask is just dull and these two don't mesh well at all. No one really sells (except for the inexplicable part where they both sell exhaustion as if they've been working 45 minutes...after like 5). I guess you want to watch it for historical value, but yeah...not really worth seeing otherwise. At least it's fairly short.
Chris Hero vs Low Ki (BoLA 2008 - Finals)
Absolutely fantastic match. I'm a sucker for pro wrestling being presented as a battle of will if it's done correctly, and this was pretty much spot on. Both guys sold like crazy (of course, they really were beating the shit out of one another, so they didn't have much choice). Probably Ki's last big indy match at this point and it's a nice coda to that stage of his career. Pretty brutal, but it's not brutal just for the sake of doing it.
I continue watching random downloads...
Started with the KKK deathmatch thing from BJW with Jun Kasai and Abdullah Kobayashi. The kenzan/chairshot spot made me look away from the monitor. Disgusting. I get that some people love this sort of thing, but yeah...it's never been for me. I'll occasionally be in the mood to watch something like this, but I'm reminded quickly why it'll never be a regular thing. There's is a nice visual with Kasai walking the barbed wire strung ropes...in his barefeet.
G1 2009 Finals: Makabe vs Nakamura
I wasn't blown away by this. Of course, it was also the first G1 match I watched this year, so if there was any context to the match, I didn't get it. There's nothing really wrong with it, I guess. Nakamura acts like a total dick and Makabe works nicely as a fiery underdog babyface (though I thought he was a heel?). I guess I'll go back through the rest of the tournament eventually. Of course, I've had all of last year's on DVD for almost a year and I'm now a grand total of one match into the first night. Heh.
MIKAMI vs Great Sasuke (M-Pro 3/2/03)
Sasuke truly has a deathwish. He does things in this match that he doesn't need to and that most people in his position wouldn't even think of. Some really scary looking bumps by both guys here and there's a sequence involving a ladder that will make you cringe. MIKAMI, in particular, brings the hate and makes it worth a look.
Steen/Generico vs American Wolves (Tables are Legal - 5/30/09 HDNet show)
Fun match, but if this is really one of the best ROH matches of the year, then I'm not missing much. Some big bumps, but there's not much going on between them. Edwards doesn't seem all that good and yeah, Davey...we get it. You're REALLY, REALLY INTENSE. Now stop yelling like a moron. You don't look like a badass. You actually appear to be constipated.
I'm starting to think that Generico might just be the most underrated guy out there. He looks like an absolute star in everything, but doesn't get nearly the hype that he should. Other than King, I'm not sure that there's anyone I enjoy seeing more on the indy scene, as he can work with literally anyone and have a good match.
Hayato Jr Fujita vs Yoshitsune match (Michinoku Pro 12/12/08).
You definitely want to see this. Been watching a lot of Sugi recently since he's on AAA every week, but he's like 1000x better here. He absolutely mauls Hayato's sternum with his flippy stuff, to the point that I'm honestly surprised that he was able to get through the match. Just some brutal stuff, including a double stomp off a balcony that makes you wonder which guy is more insane. Hayato was more strike based and he certainly wasn't afraid to bring the pain, either. Can't say it's the best match I saw from '08, but it's top 10 material without a doubt.
I grabbed the entire DDT show from 8/23, just because I'd only ever seen individual matches here and there and I wanted to see at least one show in it's entirety. Some great, bizarre fun so far. I just wrapped up the Takagi/Randy "The Ram" Sasuke match. It's amazing how Sasuke can go from comedy to the goofy, self destructive spots at the snap of a finger. He seems to be gunning for a third skull fracture. The postmatch stuff was confusing (much like when I watch lucha, I really wish I spoke the language), but Dino, err...violating that other dude through the entire thing brought the funny.
Haven't watched the second half yet, but I'm hoping it will be as zany as the first...