Monday, March 6, 2017

Chris Jericho vs. Paul London

Chris Jericho vs. Paul London - WWE Raw #790 7/14/08 - 4

Slotted in a relatively dead spot in a really odd episode of Raw (which saw new champ CM Punk buried not once but twice, and Cryme Tyme main event) this match was fuel for the ongoing "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels and Jericho program that was really heating up. I was in the audience in Indianapolis a month later when Jericho "accidentally" punched Michaels' wife Rebecca in the face.

London was a trainee of Michaels' and idolized him making him a perfect target for antagonism and anger from Jericho. What made this stand out was a rare look at Jericho as aggressor. It was almost as if he was stepping into the role of one of his career best opponents Chris Benoit. He marches London back into the corner to start and just starts attacking amid the referee's pleas to separate. And Jericho was getting legit heat. At one point outside the ring you could actually see some drunken stepfathers swiping at him from across the barrier! Not to speak ill of the dead but Jericho was seconded by his stooge Lance Cade who was useless at ringside playing the muscle but felt as out of place as Uwe Boll at the Oscar's. After punishing Paul a bit Jericho made him tap like he was Harold "Stumpy" Cromer.

Post-match HBK came out on the ramp looking old and as leathery as the jerky he surely makes from all the elk and deer he murders in the name of sport. Delicious postscript to this is a month later at a house show Paul London broke Cade's nose as a receipt for getting busted open by a botched move. All's fair in love and WarGames.

Monday, February 6, 2017

D.I.Y. vs. Tajiri & Akira Tozawa

D.I.Y. vs. Tajiri & Akira Tozawa - NXT 370 - 12/28/16 - 6

The yellow brand invaded Osaka and while the D.I.Y. versus Revival feud found prominent placement on many fans’ Best Matches of the Year ballots I wanted to look back at this intriguing match-up. At this point Tozawa hadn’t made his debut on 205 Live where he’d been heavily promoted so this was many fans’ first glimpse. I came to know him through his vocal performances in PWG and elsewhere. Some grappling to start with Akira and Johnny. Akira wants the left arm of Gargano but JG uses his speed to keep things cooking leading to a “respect face-off” spot earning a 6.5 on the RVD/Lynn scale.

Tommaso and Tajiri enter but Tajiri quickly breaks the lock-up to spray green mist into the air in a visual spectacle. Not sure I dig the goofy emoticon-like trunks on D.I.Y. Tajiri starts pretzeling Ciampa up. This pair also does a slightly less elaborate “respect face-off” spot. Make Wrestling Choreographed Again t-shirts are sent to the printers by Robert Szatkowski in Battle Creek.

I wonder if Tajiri ever got Tozawa booked in SMASH. Advertisement airs for merchandise including Bayley and New Day ugly Christmas sweaters surely the belle at the ball at many a holiday family get-together. Pecan log and abdominal stretch tips by the fireplace. JG targets Tozawa’s back with some elbows and a mean backbreaker. Akira’s mouthpiece looks like an old Dentyne gum ad. Tozawa wakes up with a pump-kick out of the corner into Ciampa’s face then Tajiri storms in and starts targeting D.I.Y. with a vicious kick assortment. Tajiri holds both foes in-place outside the ring while Tozawa does two consecutive suicide dives.Tozawa teasing his world famous German suplex but Ciampa fights out with ablomb leading JG to Spear himself back into the match.

Tajiri kicks JG in the arm which he admirably sells then Gargano gets locked in the deadly Tarantula. JG nimbly doges a killshot headkick. Forearm exchange by JG and Tozawa. Camp gives Tozawa a taste of his own medicine with Rolling German suplexes which possesses Akira who quickly rips off his own patented German suplexes onto both of D.I.Y.

Great nearfall off a brutal-looking Project Ciampa (powerbomb dropped into a double knee backbreaker) by Ciampa on AT. Tajiri made the save. Finish is the D.I.Y. special move Meet In The Middle (running knee smash/superkick combo). Don’t agree with Tozawa taking the fall when it wouldn’t have hurt the vet but enjoyed it overall.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Tempura Boyz vs. War Machine

The Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu) vs. War Machine (Ray Rowe & Hanson) - ROH Road to Final Battle 10/21/16 - 4

Little house show action from the War Memorial Auditorium in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Tempura gets the party started with some big dives out to the floor. Shortly after Sho and Yohei get thrown like darts directly into each other. That’s a bar game worth workshopping. Sho is the beefier of the two which certainly doesn’t hurt when going toe-to-toe with War Machine. Komatsu could be the next Milano Collection A.T. I didn’t know Rowe was a member of CM Punk’s S.E.S. but the three X’s on the back of his trunks tells another tale. Hanson does a series of about a dozen charging clotheslines in the corners to a big crowd pop and I liked Tanaka’s whipping of his hair for a more visually arresting sell. When Syxx did a Bronco Buster it was noxious not painful-looking but when Hanson jumps dong-first at an opponent it’s a scary scenario. I’ve seen about ten Tempura Boyz matches so far inc. TV and VOD fare and a sampling of their Mexico run but this is the best match of theirs I’ve came across so far and a lot of that is due to War Machine (both for their boss offense but also for letting the Boyz dish out some their own).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ray Traylor vs. Konnan

Ray Traylor vs. Konnan - (WCW Monday Nitro 12/9/97) - 4

This is Traylor pre-nWo wearing an ash gray button-up shirt only partially buttoned (‘natch). Ray connects with some great uppercut shots in the corner. This guy must be for the proletariat cause he’s all about the work. A brawl outside the ring goes poorly for Konnan until he launches Ray into the ringpost and stomps him like a cockroach on grandma’s vinyl kitchen floor. Weird spot that Tenay calls an “inverted DDT” on commentary. I guess? I’ll say Traylor makes being whipped into the buckles look legitimately painful not just a stock transitional spot. The lights go out in the arena. Flashbulbs illuminate millisecond glimpses of something as violating as a Srdjan Spasojevic film. When the lights return Konnan is unconscious and Traylor gets the less than reputable win in an opener of a hot show at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo that registered a 4.3 TV rating (beating a paltry 3 by a Raw show featuring Marc Mero versus Salvatore Sincere in the semi-main event).

Monday, December 5, 2016

ECW Hardcore TV (Ep. #1) 4/6/93

1. Super Destroyers vs. Hell Riders -1
2. Sal Bellomo vs. Tommy Cairo - 2
3. Tony Stetson vs. Rockin’ Rebel - 3
4. Jimmy Snuka vs. Larry Winters - 3
5. Sal Bellomo vs. Ernesto Benefico - 0

Origins of the most influential wrestling TV show of all-time are a middle school gymnasium. Three-man booth on commentary (feat. Terry Funk) and everyone is talking over each other. Destroyers two chunky guys in black sweatpants, tank tops, and gimp masks. Riders haven’t rode the exercise bike as the path they cruise down leads to the Jack in the Box drive-thru and dialysis clinic. Goofy Sandman music video with cheesy surf rock and dissolves. Cairo yells over the house mic “Sports Channel and ECW is a winning tag team combination!” Kicking of the TV Title tournament is Sal seconded by Cosmic Commander a truly abhorrent Grand Wizard knockoff. Bellomo’s gladiatorial gear probably fetch a crisp $20 on eBay today if he needs the loot. Call Cairo BP cause he’s gassed. Looks like the original tape masters were left in a damp cellar as weird colorful glitches abound like a Stan Brakhage experimental film with a message on the bottom from the WWE Network that it’s preserved to the best possible condition. Sal throws a decent headbutt. Johnny Hotbody interference on the behalf of Sal goes sour and Bellomo gets counted out escaping ringside in shame.

Sorry, Bret — Stetson is the real “Hitman” to me. Rebel officially has the best mullet in wrestling of all-time. Rebel’s trunks are so ’90’s. Like a neon teal with dozens of purple and yellow prisms. Looks like the wrapper of a Bic Wavelengths ink pen circa ’95. Stetson with a very Tito Santana-like flying forearm. Shockingly “Hitman” executed a leg drop off of the top was about a .7 on the Alabama Jam scale. Rebel puts his feet on the ropes to get the cheap victory. Heard the other day Snuka has six months left to live. I'm sure they've already got a room booked for him in hell for what he did to Nancy Argentino. Bad botch where Snuka backdrops Larry then topples over backward onto him. Nice crisp corner chop by Jimmy. The #1 seed secures the victory with his patented Superfly Splash. Bellomo is back at ringside jawing with the commentary crew. Guess he wanted to get his heat back, brother! Squashes Ernesto in about 12 seconds with a bodyslam. So, the first-ever episode of ECW, eh? During the ending credits there’s a plug for a “Dream Match” contest where you can mail off a letter to HQ with the match of your dreams — I’m guessing Glenn Osbourne vs. Johnny Hotbody was really riling up fans’ imaginations. Kudos to the Network for the instantaneous history though. Besides this I also watched an episode of NWA World Championship Wrestling from June ’89 this week and I’m loving the ability to do deep dives into the past. Now if they’d just get the complete run of WCW Thunder up there I’d be thrilled.

Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Matches on TNA One Night Only: Rivals 2

select matches from TNA One Night Only: Rivals 2

8. The Dollhouse (Marti Bell and Jade) vs. The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky) - 2

Action starts with all four women in the ring at once. Marti and Jade are seconded by a woman that appears to be wearing one of Ringo Starr's jackets. Rayne leg lariat looked like Daniel Stern slipping on ice in Home Alone. I wonder if Gregory Helms will attend Velvet's inevitable HoF induction ceremony. This Rivals pay-per-view has been one slipshod production and the "rivalry" theme has been given as much thought as Regal determining which flight attendant to piss on. Shortest match on the show thus far. Jade looked the best of the bunch but this was pretty hollow.

9. Jesse Godderz vs. Robbie E - 3

There was some pose-off pre-match that I suffered through. Robbie E probably regretting quitting his gym teacher job. Robbie gets a plancha to the floor in then doubling down on the dangerous dives does a huge crossbody off the top inside the ring but hits nothing but canvas. Collectively this pair is known as The BroMans so maybe this "rivalry" is a friendly competitive one a la the Davey Richards versus Eddie Edwards opener which was a 14 min. snoozefest. The crowd in Bethlehem, PA is rolling out sleeping bags like it's nap time in pre-school. Godderz drives Robbie into the mat with an awkward powerbomb. I watched all 163 min. of American Honey at the theater the other night and barely blinked an eye but sitting through 6 min. of this match felt like an endurance test. Jesse grabs the tights for the cheap win.

10. Mr. Anderson vs. Bram - No Disqualification Match - 4

This aired on 2/5/16 and now 8 months later at least 7 performers from this show aren't on TNA programming anymore including main event focal point Mr. Anderson. Bram was formerly married to WWE superstar Charlotte but domestic battery and false imprisonment charges loomed large and that marriage sizzled out like Ashley Fliehr's brother David's in-ring career. By the way, if you've got a Roku, on the Fight Network channel there's a free preview with lots of videos to watch free of charge including something like 30 or more of these TNA pay-per-views. Pre-match locker room promo with Anderson sees him discussing maybe he should just go home and be a dad. Sick as a dog I attended a TNA iMPACT taping in Cincinnati few years back and the major angle running through the taping was the forthcoming birth of Anderson's twins. Never has domesticity neutered a performer as it did Anderson. We get it -- you've got kids! Now fight! Bram wraps a steel chair around Anderson's head then chucks him into the ring post in an actually really brutal looking spot. Both guys working in almost identical gear: black boots, black knee and elbow pads, and tiny black trunks with green designs. Somewhere in an airpot right now Randy Orton watches this on his phone and laughs at how he ruined Anderson's career. Hilariously dumb spot where Anderson sits up two opened chairs only to get pushed off the top onto them seconds later except he'd pushed them back too far so has to struggle in mid-air to make the ersatz landing. Anderson wins with a Mic Check onto a table that was partially standing but at least Bram dove headfirst into the bump.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bellomo, Smith, Sandman vs. Funk & Bad Breed

Sal Bellomo, J.T. Smith, & The Sandman vs. Terry Funk & Bad Breed (Ian & Axl Rotten) - ECW Hardcore TV 12/21/93 - N/A

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate staying up with current wrestling & MMA from across the globe, watching 700+ movies per year, and running RtW I’ve found myself digging into all the 1993 ECW stuff off of the WWE Network. Look at the names above. Closely. This was your main event just days before Christmas night 1993. Thoughts of glazed ham, stockings, blinking lights, and opening up your new WWF LJN figures raced through your head. Bellomo’s gladiatorial attire a nice contrast to Axl’s torn heavy metal shirt. The lights are flickering on and off in the arena. This transpired throughout the show and I assumed it was legitimate initially due to the bingo hall not being a state of the art production facility. But now it’s pure gimmickry. Weird spotlights adorn the men in the throes of grappling in a mostly pitch black arena as if Commissioner Gordon gave up the Bat-Signal in lieu of a halogen. All kinds of guys appear at ringside to enter the fray and its bedlam as chairs and tables are getting tossed like cornhole bags at a family picnic. Terry Funk is running the ropes in a mostly empty ring as if stuck on a loop.  Rockin’ Rebel is in the ring in stonewashed jeans with a BFG-sized mullet and discount rack Reeboks. Maybe Spielberg will get him a job on his next flick. The show ends in total pandemonium like the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine.