Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dirty Heels vs. Young Bucks

Dirty Heels (Austin Aries and Bobby Roode) vs. The Young Bucks - House of Hardcore VIII - 5

This was the evening’s main event following a bloody Tommy Dreamer and Eric Young brawl. On a sidenote I really dig HoH. It has came closest to capturing the ECW zeitgeist and milieu. Dirty Heels’ t-shirts look like they were designed using Mario Paint. Aries was always known for his unbelievable speed and snap but as he’s aged he’s needed to rely more on craftiness. Both teams trade some perfunctory arm work to start. Not sure why you’d target the Bucks’ arms when their offense is mostly Superkicks and springboards.

You could call the Heels by the names Moe and Curly cause they’re Stooging. Has anyone ever definitively answered who’s the best Jackson: Matt, Nick, or Malachi? I’ve sometimes wondered is Roode a really measured worker or a habitually lazy one? Aries leans into some Matt forearms before going for a double-leg to stop the flurry like he’s trying to secure a spot in the TUF house so he can share a bunk with Julian Lane. “Let me bang bro!” Aries’ wobbly selling is camp.

I get Dreamer booking this on top wanting to tip his hat to the current era but this has felt like a pretty safe touring match that’s awfully self-contained. The Dreamer/Young deal with two mystery run-ins and blood felt way more appropriate as a finale (especially with Rey Mysterio shocking the crowd). Ref apparently letting this become a Tornado Tag as all four guys go at it in the ring. You’ve seen all of the Bucks’ Superkick tricks but I’ve got to point one out here as Matt nailed Aries who was flying in mid-air attempting an accelerated corner dropkick. Meltzer Driver ends Aries. A “5” on the patented NHO scale seems low for a main event but this was uniform and fairly pedestrian stuff. Post-match all four guys jerking each other off mid-ring felt especially deprecatory (like “yeah we’re four buddies that just but on a laissez-faire show for you”) then they started fanboy-ing out as Sandman’s music hit and the show faded to black.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

MVP vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

MVP vs. Jimmy Wang Yang - WWE SmackDown! #467 8/1/08 - 3

Jeff Hardy is ringside popping a squat on an unforgiving chair (of the steel not lawn variety). Anybody remember MVP’s Beat Down Clan in TNA? Listed on Wikipedia as a “villainous stable”. Foley on commentary says it took “great restraint” for Hardy to withstand MVP’s verbal abuse pre-match. Ross suggests perhaps he’s “filing it away for later” like that Juelz Ventura clip Shannon Moore showed him on the long car ride to the Giant Center in Hershey. MVP does some nice vocal work on his sells and dug him targeting Wang’s abdomen. He got in a nice series of knees to the mid-section early and later caught Yang coming off the top with a gut-buster. The Drive-By Kick ends it with finality.

Now hop on the Network and relive the Hardy & MVP feud which began in earnest the week prior when MVP cut a promo on the untimely death of Jeff’s dead dog that burned in a fire. Jeff’s threat post-match “If you ever mention my home, the fire, or my dog again I’ll prove to you what kind of man I am” had me guffawing.

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 dodges 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.