Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WWF/ SWS Super Wrestle 91

Tokyo Dome; Tokyo, Japan

1) Masa Funaki v. Jerry Flynn- 3

Okay, Funaki looks like a killer (no, not Ichi) except for the pink do rag on his head. I swear Jerry Flynn played a goon in an 80's Schwarzenegger flick- his mullet is almost touching his ass. Oh, shit yea, this is going to be a "worked shoot", for those of you who don't know this is basically a UFC contest worked in the confines of wrestling logic where the winner is already pre-determined but they let the participants build the match. This one didn't go long but had a good story of Funaki just schooling Flynn on takedowns and completely controlling him on the mat. Flynn was known for his kicks, which one errantly caught Funaki in the eye and put him down, but not for long. Armbar submission and we out!

2) Ultimo Dragon v. Jerry Estrada- 5

Dragon comes out wearing one of the most foolish looking head dresses ever captured on camera- it's so damn big and lopsided he has to hold it on with two hands. Estrada is apparently Mexico's answer to Alice Cooper working out to the Oldies. This is worked Lucha style for the first few minutes but both men are green here, Estrada flubbing some simple arm drags and Dragon falling off the turnbuckle as he was trying to do his headstand; it was one of those pitiful but sad moments as he lay on the outside, looking stupider than Vince with his pants down and just puts his head onto the mat and feels sorry for himself. He definitley makes up for it in the remainder of the match, pulling off spectacular high flying moves, including an Asai moonsault that takes both men 3 rows deep in the crowd in an amazing spot. Dragon gets the win with the ultra-acrobatic German suplex with rolling cradle into a bridge.

3) Haku/ Yoshiaki Yatsu v. Davey Boy Smith/ Ashura Hara- 4

We got the intros here, but I think they may have jumped into the match a bit here as well, because Hara and Yatsu were sucking wind like they had been on the treadmill with the steep incline. Both guys threw some effective strikes though. There was a good sequence where Haku and Yatsu were both delivering bone crunching backbreakers and piledrivers to Davey. You could tell the WWF guys were put in as the young stallions to carry the old horses who should be taken behind the barn and shot. Still, a decent way to spend 8 minutes.

4) George & Shunji Takano v. The Rockers (joined in progess)- 3

Not sure if these guys are related but they looked nothing alike and neither one were really very good hands in the ring. This was definitley under way but not sure how long. Pretty bad stuff here, a lot of people jockeying for position, some no selling from both teams, particularly one part where Michaels had just tagged in and would not go with something, then lured the big one into their corner driving hard knees into the stomach. Marty looked real uncomfortable controlling a 6 foot Japanese guy who didn't like him. Jannetty hit a pretty cool superkick at one point but that's the highlight, they were running the Rockers breakup angle at this time so ole' HBK got to do some bad dramatic acting after the match. They left seperate but most assuredly found each other later on at a transvestite's coke party.

5) Kerry Von Erich v. Ted Dibiase- 5

God Von Erich looked like he had just left a clambake and he was the clam. He looked like he was using an Easy Bake Oven and he was the tasteless brownie you get at the end. He looked so disoriented but got a pop. Dibiase turned into Larry Z here with the stalling but all of his offense was really good, punches, chops, suplexes. Damn it I hate Kerry's bumps here, delayed protected shit that doesn't work at this level unless you're sixty years old. I do like he keeps teasing the claw on Dibiase, causing him to take a powder. Teddy gets all IWA Japan on the future suicidalist and throws his ass into the crowd for a quick beatdown with some chairs. Sherri takes the claw and Dibiase hits a DDT that even the high, embarrassingly lumpy, shriveled dick Jake Roberts of today would be ashamed of and that's it.

6) Rick Martel v. Naoki Sano (WWF/SWS Junior Title Match)- 6

Martel was fucking awesome here coming out from the entrance like royalty, brushing imaginary dust off of his spiffy ring jacket. Sano i recently discovered in his brutal affairs with Jushin Liger, here he slips on some gold confetti on the ground on his way to the ring and can't seem to let it go. I'd love to have the history of this Title on a disc somewhere. As soon as they get in the ring, Martel's pomp and circumstance turn into Baiscs 101 as he is snapping off armdrags and headlocks like nobody's business, lightning quick too. He came to rassle and he looked better here than in 6 years of the WWF characterized bullshit. Martel just dominating with tons of great offense, Sano only had the advantage in power and highflying, which he compresses Martels' chest with a front flip from the top rope to the outside at one point. We never see the Boston Crab but a lot of other back work from Martel who's hair, incidently, never moves an inch it's so geled down. Sano gets the surprising win with a German suplex thrown the way it was meant to be, sixty miles an hour and higher than Von Erich was earlier. Martel looks genuinely shocked as his head gets jammed into his chest. Very fun match.

7) Ishinriki v. Yoshiaki Fujiwara- 5

I think this is some kind of teacher v. cocky student match, lots of feeling out, Ishinriki does a ton of palm strikes and slaps but i found most of them quite pussy. Fujiwara doesn't sell much either but he's not quite the walking dead yet, as he knocks his opponent outside then runs the ropes as if he will hit a plancha, then stops and gives a sly grin in a funny moment. You old Jap Codger you! You got 'em on that one! He is probably still telling stories of that spot. He only sinks the famous armbar in once but quick escape to the ropes. The veteran ultimately wins with a nifty bow and arrow move; this match had a great story and it's almost recommendable except both guys can't really do much.

8) Legion of Doom v. Natural Disasters (WWF Tag Title Match) - 4

LOD come out to "Iron Man" and are real favorites here in Japan. I'm not sure if Disasters just don't lay their stuff in or not but both of them were going real easy on the strikes here. They really needed to exert their authority and drop a big fatty forearm down on these guys instead of just nice and easy strikes. Quake did get a little rowdy at one point dropping Hawk through a ringside table which he sold like he was going down a waterslide. The match was slow paced and pretty disorganized until the last sequence where LOD made their comeback and wrecked shop on their heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy........heavy opponents.

ps. hey brian, didn't you meet typhoon at a meijers store years ago, wearing some heinous threads?

9) Genichiro Tenryu v. Hulk Hogan- 6

Crowd reactions here were worth the price of admission. Don't let anyone ever tell you a man can't be a badass with a perm because Tenryu is the balls. Hulk looked motivated and started the match out with the quickest transition into a cross arm breaker I think i've ever seen. Hulk's ground work actually looked quite superb in most of this except his chinlock which looked more like he was holding the guts of a pumpkin before depositing them down his ex-wife Linda's pants. Tenryu didn't like getting schooled so he erupted with a thunderous chop across Hulk's chest that he didn't like too much. We got several more throughout the match and obviously Tenryu could have cared less how many shitty movies Hulk had made in the US and how much merch he pushed; millionaire or no millionaire, you better be able to work! Some great strong style clotheslines, weak enzugiri's (from both men; Hogan's looked like a senior citizen jumping out of a plane) and a folding powerbomb to Hulk were the highlights during most of the middle. Hulk adapted well and the crowd sounded torn a lot of times and really turned it up in the later stages of the match with hard right hands and a near decapitation of Tenryu's head with a lariat that would make JBL revert back to childhood, pissing his pants and collecting Cabbage Patch Dolls. Hogan followed up with a lousy head kick to win after that lariat and both men hugged after the brutal match. In a side note, Tenryu kicked out of 2 legdrops at a time when no one kicked out of Hogan's finish. Pretty impressive stuff.

2 recommendable matches, the rest is all decent with no match really getting the time it needed to properly have a classic, except the main.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #2

1. Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (1/26/92) – 6
2. Kenta Kobashi vs. Terry Gordy (5/21/93) – 8
3. Kenta Kobashi vs. Steve “Dr. Death” Williams (4/15/94) – 6
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (1/19/95) – 10

The focus in the tag match was mainly Kikuchi and not Kobashi. Kikuchi was controlled by Jumbo and Taue for the majority of the match with submission holds and hard shots. The chops were kept to a minimum but they weren’t totally non-existent. Jumbo was just being a total prick and was bashing Kikuchi and Kobashi in the face just for fun. Every time the opposing team would go for a pinfall, Jumbo would jump in a kick them in the face. Taue executed a nice suplex on the floor on Kobashi. All four guys worked a good pace and kept the action fast and furious. I liked the finish with the numerous false finishes from big moves. The match-up with Gordy was jaw-dropping. Gordy is known as one of the baddest men to ever step foot in a wrestling ring and he definitely showed it here as he took Kobashi’s best shots and just smiled in his face. The two men matched each other move for move, chop for chop. They kept the pace up as well. The match ran under 14 minutes as was a hell of a battle. Kobashi hit a moonsault to try to put Gordy away and the look on his face after Gordy kicked out was priceless, as it was a look of astonishment and almost tears. Kobashi would hit another moonsault to get the win in a hard hitting and fantastic match. As good as the Gordy match was, that’s how much I was disappointed in the Doc match. I expected much the same thing that was presented in the Gordy match. The match had its moments and was a good contest that was more based on the ground than the hard-hitting style of Gordy. Doc and Kobashi still traded some chops but not as much as I’d like. I was toying with giving it a “5” but in the end, I settled with a “6” because the finish was nice and clean.

Behold my first-ever “10”!!! I was saving it for a match that would be so incredibly awesome that nothing else I’ve watched since I’ve been reviewing for NHO could possibly eclipse it. Well, I’ve found that match and it’s Kobashi vs. Kawada. Remember what I said about their match on the first disc being just a sampling of what they’re capable of? Good, because this match is two epic gladiators pounding it out to see who is better. Kawada controlled the first portion of the match while working Kobashi’s leg. He did so by ramming it into the canvas and by wrapping it around the barricade. Kobashi gained the upper hand when Kawada tried to kick him coming off the top and hurt his leg. Kobashi upped the ante by working over Kawada’s leg harder. There was a nice spot where Kobashi had the figure-four applied and Kawada was trying and trying to get to the ropes. Everytime Kawada would inch closer, Kobashi would pull him back and apply more pressure. At the 40 minute mark, these guys were completely gassed. As a testament to their fortitude, they pressed on for another twenty minutes with some more holds and then some chest chops. The two were trying to gain momentum when the bell rang as both men fell to the mat exhausted because they had just gone 60 minutes non-stop. Afterwards, Kawada is presented with the Triple Crown, helps Kobashi to his feet, and raises his hand in the air in a moment of class. This was a breath-taking match and one that must be seen by all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

ROH Vendetta II

1. Rhett Titus and Delirious vs. Alex Payne and Silas Young - 4
2. Jay Briscoe vs. Erick Stevens - 5
3. Chris Hero vs. Pelle Primeau - Lights Out Match - 3
4. Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. Tyler Black and Necro Butcher - 5
5. Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli - 6
6. MsChif vs. Sara Del Rey vs. Daizee Haze - 4
7. Brent Albright and Roderick Strong vs. Go Shiozaki and Adam Pearce - 5
8. Nigel McGuinness vs. Jerry Lynn - 6
9. Austin Aries vs. Jimmy Jacobs - 7

The opener was originally a four-way scramble, but Titus is persuasive so we get him and Delirious teaming up instead. Payne and Young, surprisingly, a
ctually run the match and dominate most of it, looking quite well. It’s a story development match (some sordid love triangle with Rhett, lizard boy, and Daizee) but entertaining and fast-paced. Jay and Erick is a throwback to old school ROH, or at least the philosophy they once embraced: just two dudes throwing big bombs and all they’ve got at each other in attempt at proving who’s the better on that particular night—really good stuff.

When Pelle throws strikes, mostly forearms, they’re decent so he doesn’t look completely inept against Hero and his Taue impersonation but the problem here was that it was a match where the goal is to knockout your opponent and Primeau’s offense consisted of mostly elaborate, flashy armdrag spots. Granted, they’d look rad and at home in Chikara, but they’re certainly not going to KO anyone. The tag was great, story as I perceived it was Black wasn’t getting the job done, but Necro constantly turned the favor to the side of AofT, like blocking a Generico flying spot by simply putting his clenched fist out and popping him in the face. Of course, you get a Necro bump off the apron on the floor, fast-paced tag stuff by fan favorites Generico and Steen, etc. so it’s enjoyable.

Danielson and Claudio do an extended giant swing sequence; they both trade them, and then even try spinning the plump ref in a fun spot. They switch gears as Bryan is tired of joking around and works over Claudio pretty thoroughly, with Castagnoli unable to stage much offense. This helps the surprise ending, as Claudio ends up scoring a victory by tossing Bryan into the air and hitting him with a European uppercut mid-flight. This was a good sampling of more to come between these two, but still for what it is, you’ll be satisfied by Danielson’s controlling segments and dig this.

The women’s match, while sloppy in parts, was pretty physical and better than the standard ROH women’s fare. Del Ray brings the stiff boots and could be a good hand for either major American company, should they invest some money and “enhancing” her look. The following tag was awesome stuff. I was afraid Pearce would sandbag it, but he actually tried to step up his game to everyone else’s level, the end result being some of his more solid work of ’08. Of course, with Strong and Albright you’re going to get great, intense stuff, they’re too hot to be anything but singles right now but could make a hell of full-time pairing. Go looked good, go figure, and busted out a devastating sidekick that’d make you eat your turkey club out of a straw.

Nigel and Lynn, Lynn’s first ROH match since ’04 I believe, and it was terrifyingly tits. Adam, who bought this disc solely for this match, wasn’t feeling it as much as I, saying he expected Lynn to “fly around” more. Dude, he’s 45! All kidding aside, this was all about slow methodical arm work and Nigel treating Jerry like a chump. Lynn’s hope spots were hot, including a surprise tornado DDT off a guardrail which was the first effective in-ring homage to ECW possibly since they’ve closed (eat that Stamford!). The near falls were fantastic, I thought Nigel had convincingly won a couple times in a row and was completely wrong.

The main event is a good payoff to the Aries versus AotF feud, as it had been built well and it’s also an interesting character study of Jacobs, getting one of his first solo main events in his career. It’s basically a half-hour of ass kicking, some crowd brawling, athletic spots, strikes, etc. all blended together in a nice hatred purée. Big props to Jacobs, while it bordered on unbelievable how many kickouts he was able to pull off, I was sincerely surprised at his fortitude and guts as he was getting murdered in the third act and kept getting up for more. This show would rank in my top three ROH events of 2008.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jushin "Thunder" Liger TV Special: Disc #3

1) Liger v. Negro Casas (04/19/91)- 5
2) Liger v. Owen Hart (04/28/91)- 7
3) Liger v. Norio Honaga (04/30/91- IWGP Jr. Title Match)- 7
4) Liger v. Akira Nogami (03/21/91- IWGP Jr. Title Match)- 4
5) Liger v. Pegasus Kid (07/04/91- Mask v. Mask Match)- 6

Casas switched up his Bigfoot jr. outfit for that of a snow leopard, still with the furry shoulder stripe. This match didn't have anywhere near the level of crowd heat the first did but it still contained that passionate hatred these two conveyed in their match on disc 2. Casas broke out some classic lucha spots like the kick off into the steel post from the ring apron. They both were guilty of some haphazard moves and some sloppy chair spots but Liger did put forth his usual perfunctory pissed off performance with a real spot-on dropkick to the teeth and a balls out front flip. It's so nice to be able to go back and watch Owen in his young days. He was a hell of an athlete, and he and Liger went back and forth with great spots, not really slowing down at all. Liger amazes me how much he can sell and connect with the audience. He was a truly great babyface in that way. Owen is flying all over hitting all his signature spots and taking Canadian all star bumps like back superplex from the top. I see so much of Bret in his performance here, as he throws every kick and punch like he's fighting in a decrepit alley in Manitoba. There's some great moments in this match but no one kills themselves; they just put on a very competitive match that was action packed from bell to bell.

Not familiar with Honaga's work, only the name and looking at him, he don't look like much of anything; skinny little dude with a greasy Isaac Yankem mullet, black leotard workout pants and tiny white boots. His strong point is aggressive attack, he stays on Liger and uses some high impact stuff (powerbombs & swank German bridges) to keep him down. He has a hell of a heart too, kicking out of tons and tons of big moves. His selling needs some help though, not just bodypart but overall, after taking moves and such. This was worked in classic style, lot of time, good build and the crowd was popping at every move near the end. The finish was sort of anti-climatic even though it looked good. This match, I believe is from the first WCW-New Japan supershow, even though it says Starrcade 91 on the mat. Akira turned into a living voodoo doll complete with headdress since his early days, very strange look. I think his work suffered as a result of the change- he was a tenacious mat grappler on the first 2 discs but here he's merely a passive guy, grabbing rest holds on the ground setting Liger up for his next offensive move. Liger lets himself be controlled on the ground a lot here, and this doens't add up to much at all.

Surely another classic in these two's canon of work- while this is still worth seeing, it's not the best of their series. The beginning starts out like any long Liger match, boring ground work that doesn't lead anywhere, such as Benoit hooking a scissors around Liger's legs for at least 3 min. then not attacking the legs again the rest of the match. The whole middle section is their ballgame- all the reversals and high impact moves, the dives outside, Benoit killing himself with a basement dropkick from the top rope to the outside mats. Liger is bumping his ass off and just folding himself like a Slinky for all of Benoit's moves. The end feels empty, and hollow, like the skull of Anna Nicole Smith, both when alive and now in a grave. It felt like whenyou're reading a "Who Done it?" book and you have your two or three suspects and then you find out it was a rare liver disease and no one killed the guy- just completely out of nowhere and unsatisfying but you can see their chemistry is completely in sync and I can't wait to see their next encounter on Disc 4.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #1

1. Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (7/1/89) – 5
2. Kenta Kobashi vs. Ricky Fuyuki (7/11/89) – 7
3. Kenta Kobashi & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu (7/15/89) - 9
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Johnny Ace (9/2/89) – 5
5. Kenta Kobashi vs. The Great Kabuki (1/3/90) – 4
6. Kenta Kobashi & Tiger Mask II vs. Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid (1/20/90) – 5
7. Kenta Kobashi vs. Tiger Mask II (3/6/90) - 6

Damn, this set doesn’t waste any time in kicking things off the right way. Kawada and Kobashi keep the pace slow and work submissions on each other early on. There was a mesmerizing section where they traded slaps so hard my jaw started to hurt just from watching it. Kawada had a nice dive over the tope and threw Kobashi so hard into the railing that it broke. Kawada’s German suplexes are a thing of beauty. The match wasn’t very long, probably around 12-14 minutes and was just an inkling of what was to come in future battles between them. I remember the first time I watched this DVD, I was totally awestruck by the bout with Fuyuki, however, upon a second viewing (or is it my third), it wasn’t that memorable but it was a definite battle. Name two other guys who can beat the living hell out of each other for 30 minutes and still have the deceny to shake hands afterwards … see, you can’t do it can you! Upon first glance, Fuyuki, in all his weathered-down and curly haired splendor, doesn’t exactly look like a guy who can bring it but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have some of the stiffest chops this side of a Brooklyn butcher. He smacks Kobashi so hard with a chop that he falls off the ring apron. Kobashi doesn’t back down, though. He busts out a sick cross-body block from the top rope to the floor and some German suplexes so nice, they could possibly make Kurt Angle blush. The bell rings on a pinfall attempt and a fabulously stiff contest comes to an end.

The tag match against Hansen and Tenryu started off hot and never let up once. The bell rang and Kobashi and Tsuruta exploded onto their opponents. Kobashi paired off with Hansen who was bludgeoning him with chairs while Tenryu and Tsuruta exchanged chops in the ring. This was a back and forth contest where no one gained the advantage and everyone was being a totally stiff prick. Hansen was destroying everyone with stiff clotheslines, Kobashi with chops, Tenryu with slaps and chops, and Tsuruta with chops and submissions. Everytime someone would work a submission, their opponent would fight out and get even more pissed with every shot they traded. The crowd was super hot too. It was probably the hottest Japanese crowd I’ve ever seen. At one point, Tenryu slapped the shit out of Kobashi and knocked him on his ass. Everytime Tsuruta and Tenryu were in the ring together, they just pounded the living crap out of each other. The finish was Tenryu muscling up Kobashi in a powerbomb and dropping him hard for the winning pin. Damn. I’m so exhausted after watching that, that I have to stop and catch my breath! I don’t really see why the Ace was included on this set. Ace and his blonde mullet didn’t really present anything out of the ordinary for me. He did, however, bust out a nice dropkick and some nice chops but, that didn’t make up for the sloppy bump over the top rope and a pretty ugly headscissors that sent Kobashi over the top rope. Kobashi was the saving grace of this bout. He worked the ground solidly and whipped out a very swank dive from the top turnbuckle to the outside. Two Ace-Crushers in three minutes defeated Kobashi in a match that didn’t really have any memorable moments for me.

Kabuki appeared here sporting a thin Ron Jeremy-esque moustache and in pretty awful shape. I didn’t really get much out of the match aside from Kobashi’s regular offense. Suprisingly, Kabuki took the win … then again, maybe it wasn’t too suprising since Kobashi has lost every match except for the second match on here. I really enjoyed the exchanges between Dynamite and Tiger Mask as they were getting after it pretty hard and trading some nice shots back and forth. On the contrary, the primary exchanges between Davey Boy and Kobashi didn’t offer anything exciting. Davey was executing his regular power moves with some nice efficiency but it just seemed like he was out of place. Closing out the first disc was the good contest between Kobashi and Tiger Mask. At this particular juncture, Tiger Mask was being portrayed by the legendary Mitsuharu Misawa and, to the best of my knowledge, this was the first meeting between the two. Kobashi jumped out on to the floor onto Tiger Mask and the camera angle they used was tremendous. It made Kobashi look like he was sailing through the air. Much like the Kawada match, this was just a glimpse of what they would put on in future battles.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

MLW Reloaded Tour - Night #1

1. Stampede Bulldogs vs. Bobby Quance and Puma - 3
2. Richard Criado and Chad Hart vs. Shane Twins - 2
3. Matt Martel vs. P.J. Friedman vs. Chasyn Rance - 1
4. Dark Fuego and Pete Wilson vs. Roderick Strong and M-Dogg 20 - 3
5. Chris Hero vs. Chad Collyer - 4
6. Sonjay Dutt vs. Jack Evans - 2
7. Havana Pitbulls vs. Los Maximos - 5
8. Teddy Hart vs. American Dragon - 4
9. Michael Modest vs. Jerry Lynn - 3
10. Raven and Vampiro vs. Steve Corino and Sabu - 2
11. Homicide vs. Low Ki – 6

The production on this show was a fucking disgrace. The hard camera was out of focus, they tried extreme zooms like the worst of ECW’s days, and thr
oughout the entire show the announcers were inaudible with hardly any volume on their commentary (possibly a good thing). Show started decently, for prototypical American independent bullshit, with the Bulldogs keeping the match on their side of the ring and doing basic tag stuff fairly well. Puma wasn’t making me believe any of the stuff he was eating, and when Quance finally got in I was chuckling at his over the top bouncy set of kicks that’d make Ron Killings wince. The referee’s lack of paying attention to legal man issues aggravated me here and throughout the show. Still, this wasn’t too bad, they just weren’t seasoned but it ended up being some of the least offensive stuff off this entire show.

Criado I can’t forget from an earlier MLW show where he bumped off a stage in a wheelchair and nearly died. This was short and real bad. Hart looked green and Dick, or Richard, has terrible facial acting. Shane Twins are immobile and I can’t believe they were immortalized as action figures by WWE. The three-way is barely a minute long and shit save for a decent tilt-o-whirl backbreaker by Martel.

Jesus, the next tag deserves to be seen by all, as it’s quite possibly the shittiest match I’ve seen all year. Just so bad that it’s impossible to pull your eyes from the ensuing carnage. Pete Wilson is just unbelievably awful. He looks like a kid from a trailer park that idolizes Jack Evans, just pasty and white as hell and is more worried about buttoning up his pants than selling throughout the whole match. Strong is the only saving grace, just being a stiff prick and that’s all fine and all, but there’s so much heinous stuff constantly happening that it doesn’t matter. Fuego and Wilson do simultaneous moonsaults from a balcony but neither gets caught and both end up splatting on the floor in an ugly spot. The finish sees both M-Dogg (terrible name) and Strong laid out in the center of the ring and Fuego and Wilson do simultaneous 450 splashes on them, of course Wilson overshoots, landing face-first on Strong’s knee and probably breaking his jaw.

Hero and Collyer is fine, save for it feels out of place on such a desperate show, and the lousy crowd aren’t giving them any respect. My biggest issue with this is Hero’s still at this point way too over the top in the selling department, just doing a lot of wide-eyed, goofball sells of stuff that are quite business exposing and blatantly unnecessary. Evans and Dutt suck dong. Evans is crap in this, completely choreographing his shit, yet still managing to fuck all of it up. He overshoots a spot to the floor so bad that he completely goes over Dutt’s (balding) head and lands awkwardly against the guardrail.

I liked the Maximos match more than any of theirs I’ve seen in years, largely because it wasn’t a spot fest of epic proportions, which are tired and cliché and all of Whipwreck’s students have made high flying hackneyed and passé. This is more of an old school tag match, not exactly, but closer to traditional than most of their stuff and its for the better. Reyes and Romero hold up their end, including some good double-team sequences. Adam said Danieslon and Hart were putting him to sleep—I didn’t feel that way though. Even back then, Dragon was a smooth operator and was able to keep Hart from going overboard. The finishing sequence didn’t work for me, though. Coming off a crazy aerial spot Teddy acted like he’d seriously injured his arm, Danielson capitalized with “Cattle Mutilation” but Hart easily rolled out into an armbar that Dragon immediately tapped to. If Teddy was indeed hurt, how could he use his injured limb to apply the proper pressure to make his submission work? And, if he was just playing possum, why didn’t they do a better job getting that across?

Lynn and Modest was fine for a few minute match, I like the way Modest moves about the ring and transitions, his Japan experience shows in subtle ways. They never left first gear, though, and interference by Homicide ruined this one. The tag match, featuring arguably the show’s biggest names, was just a complete and total waste of time. Raven turned on his partner Vampiro after just a couple minutes; strangely, he hit Vampiro with his finisher (“Even Flow DDT”) and went out to the apron, only for Vampiro to continue wrestling the rest of the match as if oblivious to that significance. This was just sloppy beyond any explanation and these guys were all clearly just collecting paychecks, which is inexcusable in my eyes.

The main event was solid and felt completely unlike anything else on this miserable show. These guys know each other well, inside and out of the ring, so that familiarity allows them to respectfully take each other to another level. Adam made mention of its pace, especially in the earlier stages, feeling that it was slow; again, I disagreed, explaining that it was too soon to tell and suggesting to watch as the context unfolded. Low Ki was a real general here, controlling everything and looking fabulous while doing so. My respect for this man continually grows. The crowd was dead (all night) so they didn’t help elevate this, but the workers didn’t seem to notice or care, as they still brought their trademark intensity in spades. The aftermath featured some random interference, but the real fireworks took place near the show’s end, as some rube in the crowd threw a drink in Low Ki’s face, only to be viciously mauled by Low Ki until security dragged the slob away. This was followed by the company’s owner getting whacked in the face by Homicide with a broom which he sold like it literally killed him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

WWE: Hell in a Cell - Disc #1

1. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Bad Blood 97) – 7
Am I the only one who finds it amusing that Mick Foley, now affiliated with TNA, is hosting this DVD? Anyway, Foley intros the disc and we’re off and running with the first-ever Cell match from 1997. Shawn’s bumping throughout the entire match was tremendous. Taker was controlling for the first ten minutes or so by just beating Shawn from pillar to post, or, as Vince stated on commentary, “a over t”. Shawn gained momentum after Taker fell into the cage after executing an Irish whip. This is where the volume started to turn up. Two ultra hard chair shots to the back and a skull-fracturing piledriver on the steps were the highlights of Shawn’s comeback. Taker returns though, firing Michaels over the top rope and onto a plant camera man, who Shawn summarily destroys. Now, the plot thickens. The referee opens the door so the cameraman can be helped out and they brawl through the cage. Taker slingshots Michaels twice into the unforgiving fence and rips him open from eyebrow to eyebrow. Michaels scales the cage and they brawl up top, across to the other side, and Michaels takes a sickening fall into the Spanish announcers table. Back inside, Taker grabs a chair, destroys Michaels with one shot, and out comes Kane! Kane rips off the door, kills the ref, and plants Taker with a pretty sick tombstone piledriver. Shawn crawls out of a pool of his own blood and gets the duke in a truly memorable match.

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Undertaker vs. Mankind & Kane (Raw – 6/15/98) – 4
This wasn’t really a match as it was a wild brawl. The cell is lowering with Mankind, Kane, and Paul Bearer in the ring. Mankind recites a poem of vileness directed towards the Undertaker. Austin comes out and after two Undertaker introductions, starts brawling wildly with his two opponents. Up on the ramp, Kane executes a shitty back drop as Paul Bearer locks himself in the cage. Taker comes up through the ring and utterly destroys Paul, busting him open from ear to ear and chins to forehead. Kane climbs up top as Mankind and Austin slug it out some more. Two sickening chair shots to Mankind and Austin chases Kane up the cell and Raw ends right there. Umm, yeah … next!

3. The Undertaker vs. Mankind (King of the Ring 98) – 6
Saying this is the most famous Cell match of all time would be an understatement. This definitely one of the WWE’s most memorable matches in its long illustrious history that dates back to 1963. If someone says “Mick Foley” or “Hell in a Cell”, this is the match that comes to mind. To give you the shear scope of how violent this was, I’m going to throw in some quotes from Jim Ross, who was calling the match at ringside. We start off on top where Mankind is literally tossed off the top of the cage and lands on the Spanish announce table so hard that it separates his shoulder. JR: “Good God almighty! That killed him!! With God as my witness, he is broken in half!” After about five minutes or so, Mankind climbs back up where is greeted with a chokeslam through the top of the cage! JR: “Would somebody stop the damn match!” After that, the match is just some basic brawling and small moves to quiet down the crowd until the big finish where Mankind sprinkles and then pours thousands of thumbtacks all over the mat. With Mankind on ‘Taker’s back, he applies the Mandible Claw until ‘Taker wakes up and slams him into the tacks. JR: “My God, he’s a human pin cushion!” A chokeslam on the tacks and a tombstone later, Undertaker wins one of the most violent matches in WWE history.

4. Mankind vs. Kane (Raw – 8/24/98) – 4
There wasn’t really much substinance to this match. Mankind tried to get on top of the cell numerous times and almost crowned Jerry Lawler, who was on commentary, a few times with a chair when he was trying to fling it up on top. Undertaker came down to ringside with Kane. He grabs Mankind and sends him off the side of the cage into the commentary table in a pretty gnarly fall. Back inside, nothing really major happened unless you count Kane chucking the steps in Mankind’s direction. Mankind grabs a bag of tacks that barely gets used, Austin comes out from under the ring to brawl with Kane while the ref calls for a DQ. Huh? I thought there weren’t any disqualifications in a Hell in a Cell match! Two stunners on Kane and this one’s history.

5. Cactus Jack vs. Triple H (No Way Out 2000) – 5
Fellow writer Brian gave this match a “7”. Well, good sir, you are entitled to your opinion but I must respectfully disagree. While this match was bloody and violent, it seems to me that the only memorable moment from this was Jack going through the top of the cage and breaking the ring at the end. I do agree that the spot where Jack bumps himself through the cage, thus ripping his bicep open, was pretty ridiculous. JR calls a chair shot to HHH’s yambag “barbaric birth control”. Okay? The chair-assisted elbow was tits as was the fall from the side of the cage (what is it with Foley and falling off the cage?) where Jack crashed through the announce table. Wait, didn’t he do the exact same thing in the previous match? Anyway, Jack grabs the barbed wire board that’s hidden behind the ring announcer for an unknown reason, and crawls up on top of the cage with it. The finish sees HHH backdrop Jack through the roof where he breaks the ring when he lands, in what is perhaps the only truly memorable spot in the match. The match wasn’t bad but the ultimate legacy of this one has been tarnished with Foley’s repeated comeback attempts.

6. Triple H vs. Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Armageddon 2000) – 5
This match was a raucous pile of shit. The only thing anyone could do at any time was punch, kick, and choke. Sure, there were some exchanges in the ring between the combatants but ultimately nothing to take note of. The most awkward moment was when Vince, Brisco, Patterson, and a demolition crew backed up a flatbed truck and started dismantling the cell. The truck rips off the door and Foley comes out to stop Vince as the combatants begin to make their way out of the cage where they brawl some more but this time bump on the junk cars that are piled up on the aisleway. HHH takes a pretty nice bump onto an Oldsmobile’s hood, courtesy of Austin, but that was after he gave The Rock a sloppy pedigree on the roof of a pretty tarnished Buick. They make their way back to the cage and HHH, Austin, Angle, and Taker scale the cage and brawl more up top. I seem to be noticing a trend in this match. Trips and Austin head back down after they become stricken with Vertigo and Rikishi begins to scale up. The big moment comes when Taker slams Rikishi off the roof and onto the bed of the aforemention truck. Did I mention the truck bed was covered in kennel bedding? Back inside, more lame ass brawling and Angle gets the pin. Not good. Not good at all, especially since this was the first time I’ve ever seen it.

All in all, the first disc was hit and miss. The Shawn/Taker and the Mankind/Taker matches are really the only two that deserve to been seen off of this disc. Since we’re at the end of the first disc, I’ll give a quick shout out to the awesome Best Buy cashier named Alicia who I had the pleasure of waxing philosophic with about Sunday Night Heat and the N.W.O. On to disc two …

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jushin "Thunder" Liger TV Special: Disc #2

1) Liger v. Naoki Sano (IWGP Jr. Title Match- 08/10/1989)- 8
2) Liger v. Hiro Saito (01/18/1990)- 4
3) Liger v. Akira Nogami (01/25/1990) -6
4) Liger v. Villano III (09/30/1990)- 6
5) Liger v. Pegasus Kid (IWGP Jr. Title Match- 11/01/1990)- 6
6) Liger v. Negro Casas (IWGP Jr. Title Match- 12/28/1990)- 4

The first match is a phenomenal way to start this DVD and the best we've seen so far. Liger's selling here, even with a mask on, blows away most anything I can remember in recent years. He gets his arm wrenched at one point, it's not even a big move and it bothers him the rest of the match as Sano keeps going after it. Liger just sells and sells it and it's hard not to think he's a master. Then the match takes a turn and they go outside where Liger gingerly but recklessly hits his front flip plancha and when they come back in Sano has been busted open. Well, Liger fucking takes it to the streets on his head and just continuously kicks it for nearly the next 6 minutes, viciously stomping his head like he's a Marvel Zombie. Sano fights back and snags a few armlocks for some really close calls while Liger struggles to fight with one arm. I'm forgetting to even mention the spot where Sano does a missle dropkick from the top buckle to the floor and where Liger decides to commit homicide and tries superlpexing Sano from the top the arena floor, while he fights it with everything he's got. Both guys are seemingly fighting for every move and the finish is breathtaking- a super back suplex from the top that folds both guys in half- i won't reveal who gets the duke but this is an awesome match and for two guys still who are still fairly rookies in the sport at this time,it's an amazing acheivement.

This begins like a high school mugging for a free lunch ticket with Saito just throwing chairs at Liger (who is now officially in his body suit that we all know and love now) Saito has always languished in New Japan's midcard and there's a reason; he's not that great. His offensive section is really lacking in fire or execution- the best sequences are when Liger leads him through some good pinfall reversals. Liger beats his ass in the crowd as well even piledriving him on the table but it just doesn't get me going. Very lackluster match. The 2nd Nogami match was very much like the first, mostly on the ground, Nogami controlled a lot more of the match this time really working a boston crab for long periods. The finish was pretty abrupt and even Liger was surprised he won after picking Nogami up in a Torture Rack to which he tapped to, althought Liger still dropped him in a backbreaker and went for a pin. This, I believe, is my first look at Villano 3 although I'm very familliar with his predecessors. He's just as quick as Liger even though you can tell he's older. His strikes are open hand chops and he has a lot of technical prowess although they mostly use Lucha sequencing here, never going outside of their realm and trying new things, just applying the techniques they are good at. Liger matches him hold for hold and even takes the match with a nifty submission that these darling brown eyes have never seen- kind of a version of an upside down pretzel lock with the legs.

Benoit and Liger is just as stiff in the beginning of their run as they were at the end of it. Benoit is pure aggression, like Andy Dick on coke errantly wandering into a Claire's at the mall. He pulls out a swank yet suicidal missile dropkick, Owen Hart style to the outside floor that kills both men. Liger's Capo kick is prevalent throughout the DVD, using it early and often and he pinpoints the spot between Benoit's eyeholes in the mask and kicks it in every chance he gets. Just like on his offense, Benoit's sells are fierce and sudden and both men have a similar move set they use to lead to a satisfying finish to a recommendable match. Casas looks like Giant Gonzalez' offspring, adorning a flesh colored outfit with a fur stripe along the shoulders. The crowd is so damn hot for Liger in this match and I never knew how much heat Casas garnered as a heel. I'm wondering if it's like a battle of nations here. Well, they play it up quite well, measuring out Liger's offense to work up the pops he gets as Casas plays most of the match like the veteran he is, sidestepping a lot of moves and putting his foot on the rope on pinfalls. Liger wins the match in satisfying fashion to a massive pop from the fans; it's the most like an American crowd I've ever seen a Japanese arena.

Disc 2 building on Liger's stellar legacy and I'm just pumped to get through the other 6 discs in this set.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Burger Kang #4

Stan Hansen vs. Leon White - (AWA 4/8/86) - 5

This is my project tackling random matches, haven't done one in ages, and am ready to bring back the love. Seeing Hansen and White, or Vader to most, way back before their classic wars in WCW and AJPW rings was a real treat to discover. Leon "Baby Bull" White works a side headlock throughout the match, but he really puts his weight into it, where it actually feels like an effective tool in getting him a victory, not just a rest hold as its been relegated to en massse these days. While that makes up the bulk of this one, whenever Hansen does do something, he does it really freaking hard, like back elbows, etc. I liked this as an AWA TV main event, as it made you think the champion was in trouble, etc. and again was a cool discovery.

Triple H vs. Ric Flair - Last Man Standing - (Survivor Series '05) - 6

The next match I'd previously graded and griped about when I reviewed the Survivor Series '05 show itself (it sucked, for the record). Now, Adam loved it, but I really hated it. I can see where a lot of my original disgust came from, but after seeing it again I've warmed up to it significantly. Here's my original opinion: "Triple H and Flair was nothing more than a glorified bloodletting. Flair bladed early, and proceeded to crawl and stumble around everywhere as Hunter methodically punished him, and us, with bad weapon shots." They're smarter than that, and the story here is that Hunter had essentially called out Flair, saying essentially, "old man, you ain't got it no more." So, it was Flair's pride on the line as he reignited that old fire and went toe-to-toe with today's toughest and the end result was a bloody, barbaric fight that was ultimately satisfying and about as much as one could have hoped for from Ric at that time in his career.

Abyss vs. Christian Cage - (TNA Impact 9/11/08) - 3

This match sucked like Jake Roberts does at staying sober. The real problem is that both are faces so structurally this wasn't much of anything. It was also a show opener, so again, not anything to write home about. I couldn't really get behind it as such, with the back and forth stuff seemingly meaningless, and the overbooked ending further cemented this one as a stinky turd salad.

Norman Smiley vs. Kazuo Yamazaki (UWFi 6/11/88) - 3

There's no "Big Wiggle" here, bitches--this is Smiley working in UWFi which is an amalgam of MMA-inspired ground work and cripplingly stiff strikes. I love listening to the Japanese crowd politely clapping and "oohing and ahhing" whenever the fighters are stood up, there's a rope break, etc. Kazuo is a kicker but every time he tests the waters Smiley hooks the leg and takes him down, so most of this is all Norman working Kazuo's legs on the ground with varied results. Yamazaki finally gets off a combo of kicks and Smiley starts backpedaling, shortly after Kazuo has "Black Magic" grounded and as Norman tries to roll to escape Yamazaki locks him in a sick armbar for the tap out victory. I love UWFi-style, but this didn't have enough build or back-and-forth to be recommended.

Triple vs. John Cena vs. Edge - (Backlash '06) - 7

The three-way was really cool in that all three of these guys' characters were in full-swing and at their greatest at this point and the resulting combination was enough to wet even the most staunch WWE hater's briefs. Cena, hardworking, nose to the grindstone everyman, Edge, ultimate opportunist, slimeball, and slut stuffer (sorry, Lita), and Hunter, obsessed madman with only one goal in mind. The one thing that's really weird about this is Hunter's gigantic bladejob, which seems sort of like overkill, as here we have this really evenly executed, well-done match and then... bloodbath! Hunter's literally swimming in his own plasma but what's new? The finish was creative. Cena had Edge in the FU but Trips kicked him, thus dislodging Edge from Cena's shoulders and sending him flying out to the floor below, then HHH kicked Cena and was hooking him in for a Pedigree but our boy doublelegged him, flipped forward and bridged for a surprising roll-up win.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

WWF In Your House #4: Great White North - October 1995

1) Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Fatu - 6
2) The Smoking Gunns vs. Razor Ramon & The 1-2-3 Kid - 5
3) Marty Jannetty vs. Goldust - 4
4) Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas - 4
5) Diesel vs. The British Bulldog - 5

First off, I have to mention that this is the WWE 24/7 version of the show, in which they've mysteriously omitted the Mabel/Yokozuna match. Helmsley was bouncing around like a loose tire at the local Midas. He and Fatu kept a brisk pace and really brought it in a match that I thought would be a snoozer. Fatu's "street cred" gimmick never really did it for me. I did notice that his tights said "Just Say No" and that makes me wonder why he said "Yes" to that ridiculous gimmick. Razor and The Kid gave the Gunns a good fight but came up short in their quest for the tag titles. Bart Gunn took a frightening bump over the top rope that, in real time, was uber sick. Kid looked motivated for once and way laying some serious kicks in on the Gunns. The finish was Razor dominating and Kid getting the tag but getting immediately rolled up. This would lay the foundation for the Razor/Kid feud in early 96. Overall, a fun match.

Goldust was debuting here in an elongated but competitive squash of Jannetty, who was beginning somewhere around his third go-around with the WWF. He was bumping big for Goldie including a pretty wild-ass bump into a post. Looking back on it now, it's very interesting to see how the Goldust character evolved from the WWF's first blatantly suggestive character to nothing more that a comedy act in 2002. Douglas won the Intercontinental Title from Shawn Michaels by forfiet and then went on to subsequently lose the belt to Razor, who was pulling double-duty. Douglas was really trying to prove he could hang with the top guys but ultimately failed as he and Razor had a pretty shoddy match. The main event was touted as Bulldog's first shot at the WWF Title but I don't think that he really clicked with Diesel. He spent the majority of the match working over Diesel's knees and applied a pretty shitty sharpshooter, that even had Bret Hart musing "that's a different way to put it on". The finish was a total schmozz in which Bret brawled with Bulldog and then Diesel to put an end to a rather lackluster show.

Jushin "Thunder" Liger TV Special: Disc #1

1) Liger v. Kuniaki Kobayashi (Liger's Debut- 04/24/1989)- 3
2) Liger v. Hiroshi Hase (IWGP Jr. Title Match- 05/25/1989)- 5
3) Liger v. Black Tiger (IWGP Jr. Title Match European Rounds- 07/12/1989)- 5
4) Liger v. Akira Nogami (07/28/1989)- 6
5) Liger v. Takayuki Iizuka (11/03/1989)- 4
6) Liger v. Naoki Sano (07/13/1989)- 5

I am pleased and honored to be able to look back at the career of this amazing talent, a guy I personally inducted into 2nd class of NHO Hall of Fame. In his debut, Liger was wearing a vastly different costume than he's known for now. It was a full bodysuit but with a mask that had no face and was red with gold stripes; he looked like a member of the short lived and probably even less likely remembered VR Troopers show. Kobayashi, who i'm quite sure has disappeared into the ether, was a pretty green guy at this time. Liger relied on stiff kicks and pin point dropkicks as offense, but this match featured little else. Both guys seemed a little overwhelmed on this big stage. Hase was really young here too but still had that fire he's known for. He competed a lot like an amateur wrestler would breaking into the business, he concentrated on awkward throws and suplexes and a lot of his stuff looked really unpolished. These two had very good chemistry though and near the end of the match they pulled off a devastating back superplex that had me cringing.

This match features the original Black Tiger (complete with fancy cape) whose style seemed very lucha based mixed with some showy technical stuff. Liger worked to Tiger's strengths and I'm sure the match was better for it than Liger's sometimes stiff, prickish style. This didn't go long but did feature several neat reversals and a great dive spot that would highlight Liger's somersault plancha from this point forward that could literally land anywhere and hurt to a varying degree, on both opponent and himself. Nogami came in looking like any other dojo boy in nondescript black trunks and white boots but damn that boy can wrestle! His strength was definitley technical and submission style and he took the agression to Liger for a good portion of the match. Liger pulled out a lot of high impact moves to stop the young sensation including his suicidal flipping plancha outside. This match also featured (at least on this dvd) the first Ligerbomb we'd see and it was a beauty!

Iizuka was in the pink trunks and looked pretty lost- obviously another young boy. Liger took no mercy on him for his inexperience and dealt out the same kicks and palm strikes on him as he had done on every other opponent. They picked up the pace near the end and finished stronger than they had began. This match didn't do a lot for me but was not a lot inherently wrong with the work, pretty basic. Sano was a fireplug, built well but wearing track pants and gym shoes so he didn't look like much. He and Liger were really competitive, hitting big moves like sliding dropkicks and planchas outside while working hard inside the ring too. Both guys were using submission moves along with power moves to try and throw each other off their game, but Liger in the end got the duke with another back breaking Liger bomb.

The first disc was fun but featured Liger against a lot of younger guys yet already in the beginning of his career he looked like a ring leader. Most of the matches had a lengthy time to them showing Liger can work with most of the guys fairly competitively and well. Onto the next disc.....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

WWE Wrestlemania X-7 (April 1, 2001, Houston, TX)

Greatest show ever? That's the buzz on the 'net- well, i'm here to definitively answer that question, one way or the other.

Dark Match:
1) Grandmaster Sexay/ Steve Blackman v. X-Pac/ Justin Credible (2:46) - 1

Now, i'm not going to hold this particular match against the show, but I thought it would be cool to review it for posteriety sake. I've never seen this match and the first thing I notice is the look of the show, it's grand in scale and pagentry and was WWE's return to stadium shows for Mania which they hadn't really done since WM6 I believe (Mr. Knowledge, help me out on this one?) Anyways, it looks like the Superbowl of sports entertainment and that goes a long way to making the show feel like it could be the biggest of all time. This turd goes about 3 minutes and is barely worth putting on the tights for. X-pac is working stiff however, just unleashing a fury of kicks to Sexay's head and facial area. Blackman's offense is so limited and so mundane that he could make a 450 splash feel like a side headlock. It's funny seeing Credible here in this arena with nearly 70,000 people in it and now knowing all I have to do to see him now is venture down to Waterbury, Connecticut and peek my head in the kitchen area of the local Olive Garden and that prick would be sorting breadsticks, 5 days a week. Damn, ain't life sweet? Credible takes bumps like a guy with no insurance policy. The double superkick fin was almost botched, but came off looking good. Now, onto the main show!

Main Show
1) Chris Jericho v. William Regal (IC Title Match 7:08 )- 5

Wow! a huge fireworks display kicks this event off, after a very dramatic video of people around the world watching Mania's from the past and bringing people together. Touching message. The first match is for the IC belt, which has had some real classics at past Mania's, obviously Savage v. Steamboat comes to mind. This one started out fast, as if Jericho had a cribbage game in the back to get to. Jericho overshot a plancha early and had ran through a gamete of moves already 2 min. in. Regal's chest turned bloody red, like the stains the Queen leaves in her bloomers, from Jericho's chops. Regal takes advantage after getting his knees up on the Lionsault and continues like Jericho by hitting big move after big move, with really no ample time to sell it. The psychology of the match is Regal is going to hurt Jericho's shoulder which Jericho makes work with good selling, including having to give up his attempt at a Liontamer because of the pain. They use an exposed turnbuckle in their finish, which wasn't really emphasized so I'm thinking the audience didn't even catch it. The finish kind of just happened and was really flat. While technically this match was perfectly fine, it didn't catch the attention of the audience nor did it accomplish what your opening match should and that's excitement. The pace was kind of dull and the moves weren't strung together in a way that was exciting, but still decent match.

2) Right to Censor (Val Venis/ Bull Buchanan/ Goodfather) v. Tazz/ APA ( 3:53)- 3

Bradshaw gives a rousing speech in APA headquarters about the legacy of Wrestlemania and how it can make careers.....then he is apart of a throwaway 6 man tag. Tazz & Val start out in a weak brawl that looked like a 6th grader's rendition of "Raging Bull." I'm not sure whether he got legitimately rocked or not, but Tazz was clearly out on his feet the whole time he was taking punishment from RTC. Faarooq did nothing and Bradshaw came in at the end and got in a good amount of offense on all members, including "old white socks" Steven Richards, as JR called him. Val took a sick back superplex off the top (surprisingly in this short match) and a fall away slam that he sold like he fell on Uncle Fester's bed of nails. The finish was well timed, but this match was quick and pretty lackluster.

3) Raven v. Kane v. Big Show (Hardcore Title Match 9:18)- 4

This match doesn't hold up to my memory- at the time it happened, it felt fresh and innovative with all the backstage antics, now that I watch it for the work, it's pretty piss poor. Show is noticeably the worst, with slight shoulder shrugs as sells. Kane's selling isn't far above, and Raven's is pretty over the top and messy, like his cokehead girlfriend's apartment. The brawl in the maintenance closet is pretty weak sauce and vaguely reminded me of a Big Japan backstage fight, but without any of the blood or urban wear. Raven busting the glass window was fun, as was Big Show-Kane's reenactment of the T2 scene where they bust through doors and walls but everything was so obviously pre-cut that watching it a 2nd time, it completely exposes the whole layout of the match. The golf cart spots were entertaining, if not unique, but most of the weapons shots were real hackneyed, nearly as much as the ridiculous finish where Big Show and Raven get booted into a giant ? ( I guess tub of plaster would be the only thing you could describe it as?) Why on earth a giant box covered with dry wall and crash pads underneath it would have any place on that stage unless it was used for a match is beyond me- as far as entertainment, this was mildly successful, but from a workrate judgment, it falls pretty short.

4) Test v. Eddie Guerrero (European Title Match 8:30)- 3

This is a poor excuse for a Wrestlemania match, probably one of Eddie's poorest efforts. Neither Test nor Eddie's punches looked realistic in any way, more like an 80's WWF action figure with the looping right hand. Test was fairly green still and ran off about 4 or 5 big power moves in a row at one point where he could have spaced them out into the context of the match. Test's foot inadvertently gets caught in the top rope in a very strange moment. Here's the fucking funny thing (and I was watching this closely): Eddie put more emphasis into his kickouts than any other thing in this match. Every single cover, he shot his shoulder up like he was coming up for air underwater, but nearly everything else he did was routine. He applied a "Princess Bride" sleeper hold and the crowd took a nap with Test. Test hit a big boot and the crowd really only popped during one sequence at the end where they were teasing some finishers. Perry Saturn (complete with Lugz tee & large fuzzy hat) & Dean Malenko (in Hawaiian shirt, looking like a tourist) interfered several times to further diminish the overall quality of this stinker. Huge disappointment.

5) Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit (14:02)- 6

Angle insults the Houston crowd pre-match, insisting "they lose the freakin' cowboy hats- what are you, 7 years old?" JR takes it personally. Anyways, the first 7 minutes or so of this match are so different and unique, the crowd reacts well to it and it's refreshing. They basically try and prove who is the better wrestler with ground work, trying to get top position and so forth, which tells it's own little story in itself. Angle keeps getting the takedowns, but Benoit gets in the best position from the bottom and keeps locking in the Crossface. Benoit doesn't react to some of the slams, like in UFC, because he doesn't want to seem as if it hurt him. Benoit crashes into the steel steps, like he does on all his bumps and it's so Dynamite Kid. There's an Angle control section that silences the crowd for a good few minutes but Benoit's comeback livens them up. They are breaking out some good stuff, but you can also see that they are holding back- could be a # of reasons for that. Benoit hits a suplerplex from the top and I hail him as having one of the best superplexes of all time where he puts his whole body into the move and just obliterates both men. Benoit also hits a pretty swan dive and the rollup into the finish section was just a sampling of the great stuff these two would go on to do later.

6) Ivory v. Chyna (Women's Title 2:39)- 1

You have to love WWE's marketing: When they brought Chyna in, she was marketed as a muscular hermaphrodite, basically, tougher than most men because it was assumed she had a large cock under her stretch pants. At this time, they were marketing her as an athletic woman who should be a role model for young girls saying it's okay to be very man-like, even if you had a cock at one time. and the thing is, it seemed to be working. Sick, sick world. I love Ivory's being scared- she's really overdoing it but it works.....Wow, that's it. This barely went over 2 mins. Chyna's selling is probably some of the worst acting since Bernie the dead guy doing a conga line in Jamaica. Even a basic hiptoss looks complicated with these two in the ring. Ivory can't strike, but Chyna can hit a competent clothesline. Not much to say this was pretty garbage for a Mania match, but at the time the women's division was so far behind where it is today.

7) Vince McMahon v. Shane McMahon (Street Fight 14:12) - 4

This match was basically as close as you can get to a physical soap opera. Let me name the players involved: Vince, Shane, Stephanie, Linda, Trish Stratus, Mick Foley and a cameo by some old WCW guys. The match was pretty laid out by spots so there wasn't a lot of errant brawling like you'd see in a McMahon match today and you have to know at this time the McMahon family feud, as far as in-ring stuff, wasn't so played out as it is today. Shane missing the elbow through the table had to hurt. I loved when they used to oil down Trish's breasts for effect- she and Stephanie's catfight took up some valuable time. The biggest pop of the match and of the night thus far, was Linda standing up out of her drug-induced coma to kick Vince in the nuts. God, that woman just dries up charisma- she's so damn dull I'm not sure why they keep using her. Foley took a couple of chair shots to remind him he used to be a great hardcore wrestler. Shane's punches weren't so bad but Vince selling them was utterly ridiculous. The finish was spectacular, the coast to coast dropkick, very Wrestlemania in it's execution so for these two putting on a spot fest, it worked to that level but as far as workrate- there was nearly none involved.

8) Edge/ Christian v. Dudley Boyz v. Hardy Boys (TLC II- 15:51)- 8

Oh, man this was wild- I'm going to try and call out some of the action here, there's no real psych to speak of, so it's more or less a free for all. I'll go ahead and point my finger at Bubba for selling the least, as far as selling the pain of the bumps and such. I love early on after a double team spot, Matt slaps Jeff on the back on the ground, saying "good job." It' s hardly noticeable but as someone who has competed in some crazy backyard matches, when you get that little sign of approval from someone else in the match, it gives you some confidence. There's a spot where everyone goes up on 3 separate ladders and they all bump off of them except Bubba and Edge, who were in the middle ladder, basically just push each other off and do a big comedy pratfall. Thought that was pretty dumb. In this match, you have the 3rds for the teams: Rhino, Spike, & Lita and they all bring in a diff. excitement to the match, all taking hurty bumps in the meantime. There were some sick chair shots delivered in this match, the Dudleys took a few and Lita, surprisingly, tries to crack Spike's head open with one.

Wait a minute, stop the presses! Why didn't we see it before? You remember watching this that Jeff Hardy was suicidal- No , really I think he was trying to kill himself, maybe he wasn't happy at home, maybe he wanted to be the one to bite Lita's ass at night, who knows, but all the daredevil stunts, wait a minute, did he set fire to his own house in another attempt? Well, maybe that was too far, but he's also tried to commit career suicide- the constant alcohol & drug abuse, the TNA stint. Anyways, He puts Rhino & Spike through a table off a 20 foot ladder (so JR says) and he takes a spear from hanging from the belts. That spot and Bubba & Matt going through the 4 stack outside were both absolutely insane and when those 2 guys hit, you may as well have dropped them from an airplane, it looked that destructive. The match worked well with the last few spots being big and everything was timed well and the match was increasingly exciting as it went on. Great job.

9) Gimmick Battle Royal incl. Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, The Bushwhackers, Nikolai Volkoff, Tugboat, Gobbeldy Gooker, Brother Love, Michael PS Hayes, Jim Cornette, Duke "the Dumpster" Droese, Earthquake, Doink the Clown, The Goon, Hillbilly Jim, Kamala, Kim Chee, One Man Gang, & Repo Man (3:05)- 2

Nostalgia is the main word that comes to mind; I got a few nice smiles out of seeing some of these names, but for the most part this was supposed to be a big rib on most of these gimmicks when it should have been a rib on Vince for thinking them up. The action itself was pretty deplorable. A few guys were selling punches, but not many, Hayes was one. OMG took the best spill outside because of his mammoth girth, but he propelled himself over. A lot of the eliminations were just a guy grabbing another guy and tossing him, no matter his size or anything. By Battle Royal standards, this was pretty shitty. If you want to see a great battle royal, go back to SNME of April 1991 where Mr. Perfect goes to the end with Greg Valentine, now that's a great battle royal. But, I digress; the most rewarding part of this was the special announcers: "Mean" Gene Okerlund (who cut a very entertaining RF Video shoot) and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (whom I've confessed my man love for many times.) There's not much to cover in a 3 min. battle royal, but Heenan had some great lines that I want to share with the blogspot world.

The Iron Sheik coming down the aisle, slower than a car with one tire - Heenan: "By the time the Sheik gets to the ring, it'll be Wrestlemania 37!

Repo Man's entrance- Heenan: "This guy's so nuts he repo'ed his own car!" Okerlund: "About 5 years ago, he got my Mother-in-Law's!." Heenan: "About 4 years ago, everybody got your Mother-in-Law!"

Gobbeldy Gooker entrance- Heenan to Okerlund: "Didn't you used to date her?"

Sgt. Slaughter big screen video, showing him shooting heavy artillery guns- Heenan: "That was then, now he shoots blanks!"

Aftermatch attack- Sarge puts the Sheik into the Cobra Clutch- Okerlund: "He's trying to put the Sheik out!" Heenan: "You can't put him out- he's not even conscious!"

10) HHH v. Undertaker (18:17)- 6

Trips gets the big entrance treatment after a classic (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) Motorhead performance. The lead singer looked like the Cryptkeeper with a wig on. The match itself started out in a brawl where Trips takes a big spill through a folding table in a spot that almost made me shoot my Pepsi out through my nose in it's absurdity. Trips was giving good sells for everything but Taker's punches, he kind of just jerked his head back like he just saw Chyna's former cock for the first time. High back drop on Trips and he lays in the corner selling the cumulative damage well. He runs through most of his move set within the first few minutes. Their chemistry is perfectly fine and they probably are doing themselves a favor by working the slow, measured pace they are using. Jim Ross even makes mention of the slow pacing. Taker is giving himself up for Trips' offense like a good McMahon robot. Trips takes a crazy sideways flip over the ropes and out to the floor. They go out into the crowd where Helmsley takes another back drop, this time onto some spilled soda. They brawl up into this monstrous electrical station where a bunch of monitors and shit is, but strangely no one is there working? There's a cameraman up on a little dais getting some very strange shots and this is being filmed like an action movie with the close ups and panned shots of the physicality. Taker gives Helmsley a big chokeslam off the side of this thing, which is a really cool visual but you don't see the move completed or the bump. In 2001, this was a rare sight and called for marking out- but now we know when the shot is hidden, there's a foam pad underneath. And as sure as Shane-O-Mac is already taking Viagra, there is a giant piece of fucking Memory Foam from the Serta Mattress Factory. Taker drops an elbow onto it and even though the camera is right there, they still miss the shot. Some EMT's show up to help the Game, but Taker gets rough with them and they bump like stuntmen over the gurney. Oh, forgot to mention that the ref took an elbow drop from Taker before this long brawl sequence which was probably near 8 minutes, well they go back to the ring and he's still out! I mean, ref's are supposed to be pansies, it's in their contracts but come on, you're unconscious from an elbow drop, Really? The finish comes off well and they do a punching sequence where both guys are just laying in some heavy leather- the hammer comes into play and Trips uses it on Taker's forehead only a minute before he hits the Last Ride for the win. I like how Taker blades anyways in the last minute due to the weapon shot- it feels more real. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this was well planned and both men gave a lot of effort, besides some of the hokey brawling on the platform in the middle of the audience.

11) The Rock v. Steve Austin (WWF Title Match No DQ 28:06)- 7

Well, I've rewatched this match for a 2nd time in a few weeks- I'm leaving my review largely the same, just adding a few tidbits here and there. This match starts identically as their first Mania encounter into a brawl right as the bell rings, luckily this time they spend only a few seconds outside after Rock takes a huge, manly bump over the top rope. They are really pushing Austin's comeback here and his punches are fast and furious but Rock's offense is high impact and he's not holding back at all against the Rattlesnake. Austin sometimes reminds me of a Rock'em Sock'em Robot because he always has his hand cocked back ready for another strike. Austin is selling the cumulative damage well, in a groggy state like back at home, leaving a bar in Victoria after too many Coors Light, then goes home and watches his old matches against Hacksaw Duggan and decides to call him at 4 in the morning just to say "your beard itched in headlocks."

The crowd is epic- loud and raucous like you want a Mania crowd to be and they love Austin and are anti-Rock. Both men take the blade and neither starts out well (blood wise) but they both end up dripping blood like perspiration and it culminates in a sharpshooter spot where both men's heads squeeze like sponges from straining and the blood pours as Austin fights out of it and Rock struggles to keep the hold. It's a very dramatic moment and the height of the intensity in this match. Then, you have what I like to call the "JR Factor." Jim Ross is at the announce booth and is a God-born Austin mark and can't help it. His emotion comes through in big matches like this and I don't think an announcer and a performer ever had a better relationship as far as getting the message across that they care about the end result of his match and it shows. It really kicks this thing up a notch and keeps it from going down the drain with more McMahon interference.

Vinnie Mac rears his ugly head for the slow, eventual Austin heel turn. Rock and Austin both do a phenomenal job at their roles- Rock as the never say die champion, taking loads and loads of abuse to keep his belt, and Austin, the desperate man looking for career rejuvenation, who will do anything or align with anyone to win the title. The crowd hates the turn and they largely boo McMahon out of the building, not because he's such a great heel but because he was so burned out at this point to the viewing audience but he wouldn't stop interjecting himself in angles. The finish is a lot of chair shots but it's not so offensive because so much of this match works and the story is deep and the selling is all there. I think Austin's audible cue that he needed to go over clean was right on the money, as he says on his 3 disc DVD, but leave it to Vince to think he's the one bringing in the audiences and every major storyline has to revolve around someone in his family. You can literally hear the crowd trying to ignore the turn as the match goes on and Austin holding back on it because the fans were so 99% behind him that was the last thing they wanted. I guess on the bright side, it lead to some funny and awkward hugs between Vince, Austin and Angle.

Overall, workrate wise, this show was decent- it had 4 recommendable matches and one of them was very damn hard hitting and fun. As far as an entertainment viewing, this show did have everything and the way it was planned out made perfect sense and a lot of the stuff, even if it wasn't good, felt like a once a year match, a true Mania match. Most of the undercard was very forgettable but a lot of the top matches delivered. Best show ever? I prefer Wrestle War 1992 or NOAH Destiny 2005.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twist of Fate: The Matt Hardy Story

1. Matt Hardy vs. Kane - No DQ, No Count Out Match - (WWE Vengeance '04) - 5
2. Matt Hardy vs. Edge - Steel Cage Match - (WWE Unforgiven '05) - 8
3. Matt Hardy vs. Joey Mecury - (WWE SmackDown! 3/2/07) - 6
4. Matt Hardy vs. Mr. Kennedy - (WWE SmackDown! 5/4/07) - 7
5. Hardy Boyz vs. Serial Thrillaz - (OMEGA 1/29/99) - 6

The documentary portion of this DVD was tremendous. With so many different Hardy-related videos circulating around, be it sit-down interviews or compilations, even WWE-produced fare, I wasn't sure I'd learn anything new or find it particularly worthwhile. What I discovered is that I identify with Matt Hardy more than I do with any other wrestler alive today. As a kid, starting with taking bets on WrestleMania IV, his love for wrestling began which lead to a lifelong passion for it that's truly admirable. We get to see the genesis of Matt and Jeff's first backyard federation, the TWF (Trampoline Wrestling Federation), their desire to take it further, the conception of OMEGA (Organization of Modern Extreme Grappling Arts), etc. All of this was fueled by Matt's desire to be involved in wrestling in any capacity, but most desirably, as future tag team champions of the WWE alongside his kid brother, Jeff.

The documentary also deals with the trials and tribulations Matt has went through. He talks about feeling overshadowed by his brother's daredevil antics, and having always felt he was just as good if not better in the ring, and considers himself the "glue" that held them together. The other most prolific segment of the documentary showcased how his real life and on-screen girlfriend Lita started seeing one of his best friends (Edge) behind his back. It was really heart wrenching stuff, and while we all know or are at least familiar with the story, this DVD provides details and footage that I'd never encountered previously. We see how Matt was there for Lita when she broke her neck; sitting next to her while she's in her neck brace, Matt is all smiles undeterred, talking about how he's not concerned that she'll miss a year of action, just so long as in "20 years we'll be able to walk around the zoo together eating popcorn."

Then we get details about his actual discovery of the affair. Lita was living with Matt at his house, one he pretty much built with the goal in mind it'd one day be the home of their family. One night Matt was having difficulty sleeping due to a sore throat so he went downstairs to get a drink of water. While down in the dark kitchen he heard Lita's cell phone vibrating in her purse, a phone bought and paid for by Matt, so he got to the phone only to see a new voicemail had been left by Adam Copeland. Matt immediately listened to it only to discover a man's biggest fear, that his longtime girlfriend had been sleeping behind his back, and him being left out in the dark about the whole ordeal.

So he pulls the covers off her and says, "We're going to play a little game called telling the fucking truth!" and proceeds to boot her ass out of his place. Abbreviating some of the proceeding details, Lita left Matt for Edge, while he was recuperating from a knee injury none the less, and then the cherry on top, he was fired as he finished recovering before he got a chance to make his return. Now he'd lost his life's love and was jobless. To quote James Storm, "sorry about your damn luck!" Matt Hardy. One of the more uncomfortable bits of footage was a joint interview done on WWE's online Byte This program with Matt Hardy at one location, and Edge and Lita at another, where the bad blood was brought to the forefront and the hatred was palpable. If you couldn't sympathize with Matt Hardy in this situation you're as heartless as Rob Feinstein.

The documentary does take a turn for the positive in Matt's life, his rehiring, the whole "V1" and "Mattitude"-era which a lot of people commented on as being great stuff, his successful feud with MVP on SmackDown!, etc. More than one interviewee stated they could see Matt Hardy as a future world champion.

On to the extras, which were all matches, the first being a payoff to a violent feud from '04 against Kane. They were battling over who was the father of Lita's unborn child, as Matt was her boyfriend, but in some sick, twist of fate (pun certainly intended) Kane ended up "marrying" her and forcing her to do presumably many perverse things. The story of the match was great, as Kane was established as this diabolical beast, and Matt was obviously fired up so the fireworks were exploding and from the opening bell they were going at it non-stop. Matt's very specific style of selling is great for Kane's stuff, as Matt does a good job of making stuff look like its devastating subtly without doing any kind of over the top theatrics, etc. He'll just fall over like a tree, these slow, lumbering spills that look like he's out on his feet, etc. Lita ran down at the end, distracting Kane enough to allow Matt the chance to use a chair to block a shot by Kane with steel ring steps that reversed the monster's momentum sending the steps back onto a falling Kane's face.

The Matt versus Edge match wasn't the payoff to their feud, that'd come when Matt would lose a "Loser Leaves Raw" match later, but it may have well been, as it was a huge, emotional victory for Hardy. Thus far in the feud Edge had always founding a way over getting one over Matt, just like he'd done in the battlefield of romance. But here Edge got his due, as Matt beat his ass unrelentingly, bloodying up Edge, etc. This match is so good because it packs such an emotional wallop (not to be confused with the word dollop, i.e. "the dollop of peanut butter you put on your dick to get your dog to suck it", etc.) and is very fulfilling in that regard. A testament to Matt's professionalism, Edge, even with all the personal heat, said that Matt was one of the only people in the industry he'd have trusted dropping a legdrop off the top of the cage on him, which is exactly what Hardy did in the thrilling conclusion to this epic match.

Next is a "Money in the Bank" qualifying match with King Booker doing hilarious guest commentary at ringside. I liked this a lot, these guys go way back, all the way to OMEGA, so they know and respect each other and that usually type of dynamic usually results in supberb stuff. They also give it some time, around thirteen minutes total, so Matt and the future Age of the Fall member Mercury get ample time to craft a decent little story. They do a good job throughout teasing finishes, and the end itself was great, as Hardy removed the protective facial mask of Joey's (from the grotesque in-ring injury he'd suffered weeks before) and gave him a "Twist of Fate" which Mercuy sold face-first like a true pro.

The match against Kennedy is just fantastic, it was during this time of SmackDown! that none of my friends were watching, completely sleeping on some of the best American TV wrestling in the past decade, and I specifically remember after seeing this match wanting to call them each up individually and ask them what the hell they were thinking? This is similar to the Mercury match in how uniformly solid it is, but then takes it one step further, with Kennedy bleeding hard-way from the nose, getting more time, and Ken being a better heel foil to Hardy. There's some great near fall excitement, enthusiastic commentary by Cole and JBL, and the finish, a "Twist of Fate" is executed perfectly and a great topper to one of the more competitive WWE TV matches of that year.

The OMEGA match was, as mentioned by both Hardy bros., Helms, and Moore who do special audio commentary, voted as "Best Indy Match of the '90's or something" referring to a DVDVR poll. The guys ham it up throughout their commentary, tossing kayfabe out the window, and chatting about the in-ring work amongst themselves. It is good, but definitely not great. Still, one thing I will give them tons of credit for, the 1,200 (biggest OMEGA crowd ever) in attendance in this high school gymnasium were just going insanely crazy for every second of this. You know how on most wrestling video games the generic crowd all have their hands raised above their heads, swaying back and forth, as if they're continuously ecstatic? This crowd nearly replicates that. The Hardy Boyz, longtime faces, were on their way out going to greener pastures in Stamford, so role-reversed and played heels here. Helms, who attended the high school the show was held at, was the workhorse for his team (his partner donned in "Thug Life" trunks has since disappeared from the wrestling zeitgeist) and the crowd was eating from his palm (just like Lita did like a dog once when she was drunk at a Hardy house party). The heat for this match is incredible, thus the recommendable status, and they don't overdo it like many indy main events are prone to do.

Overall, with almost every match making it over into the prestigious recommended category, you don't need to just see this, you owe it to yourself and Surge to own this DVD.

Friday, October 3, 2008

NHO Road Report #1: WWE Raw - 9/22/08

Report by Adam and Brian

A: Brian met me in the employee lot at work and we headed down to the arena. When we got there, we walked around for a bit, aghast at the size of the lines that had already formed waiting to get in the doors. Finally, we found a nice spot overlooking the river where we spoke of the simple virtues of Lord Alfred Hayes and Mid-South Wrestling. Once the doors opened and the crowd waiting outside slimmed down, we headed to our seats.

B: I got to the area early so I stopped in at Barnes & Noble's and while there chatted up a cute barista--old habits die hard. I swung into Adam's work lot at 6:32PM sharp and was greeted by his handing over of The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect DVD and a stack of misc. discs for Jessie.

A: We were up in section 211 and our seats were in exact alignment with the ring on the side opposite of the hard camera. I headed down to grab a pretzel and some drinks and talked with a guy who was bringing his son to his first live show. Once back, Brian and I chatted about WCW events that were held in the building and then the show started.

B: Yes, the scene outside the arena before the doors opened was hideous, to be certain. There were mutants everywhere (no I wasn't at Xavier's school) and the smell was noxious. Once inside, found the seats were great, it literally felt like the entire Raw set was sitting in my lap. As Adam said, we discussed WCW shows that had previously taken place in the building, many of which I attended, including several Monday Nitro telecasts, Souled Out '00 (with the controversial Benoit title change), and a house show feat. one of Jericho's last matches in the company, a stellar Vampiro vs. Chris Adams bout, and a pleasant surprise Flair vs. Sting main event.

Dark Matches:

1) Snitsky vs. Rory Fox – A:4 B:3

A: I didn’t even recognize Fox when he came out. Snitsky worked his power offense amidst chants of “brush your teeth”. Fox looked good as he apparently grew about eight inches and bulked up. I figured the match would be a squash but it was actually pretty competitive. Fox scored the upset victory and the crowd popped huge.

B: I didn't recognize Fox at first, either; but I shouldn't feel bad as neither did his middle school sweetheart when he showed up randomly drunk at her house one late night recently. Besides the teeth, Snitsky needs something, a prop or wardrobe change to give him a little more character than just "big, nasty dude." This was fairly good and the surprise roll-up finish was a nice touch.

2) D-Lo Brown vs. Eric Escobar – A:4 B:4

A: I know nothing about Escobar and apparently no one in the crowd did either. He got some generic heel heat when he started cutting a promo in Spanish. Brown got a decent pop when he came out. Escobar’s facials were excellent when he would work a hold. D-Lo hit a very nice sky high and a good looking Lo-Down for the victory.

B: Escobar is yet another in this new "talent initiative" jive and seemed pretty comfortable on the mic pre-match blasting the crowd for being too stupid to know a second language. Fuck him, I'm taking Spanish 201 in college right now. Kid's not bad, though, and he and Brown went through the motions, in an emotionless yet solid match. I was hoping D-Lo would have had flashbacks to his stint in Japan and dump 'ol Escobar on his head but no dice.


3) C.M. Punk vs. Cody Rhodes – A:6 B:5

A: This was a tremendous match to open with. I thought Punk showed quite a bit of intensity during the beginning because it was partially Rhodes’ fault that he lost the World title. Rhodes working Punk’s leg was excellent as you don’t really see holds being applied for a length of time today. Punk did a sweet sequence by scoring with some knee strikes from the ground and then reversing the hold into an ankle lock. Punk gets the win with the GTS and then gets attacked by DiBiase and Manu afterwards. He’s saved by Kofi and they stand tall. Five points for the match itself and a bonus point for the post-match shenanigans.

B: This was really quite good. Punk was able to express his anger and hatred at Orton effectively through his actions towards Rhodes. I like all the mat-based stuff, too. I made the comment live that I'd love to see those two guys given twenty minutes to craft a match in an ROH setting. Rhodes' selling is quite good, especially for his age and experience level, and he made Punk's GTS finished look absolutely gruesome.

4) Santino Marella vs. Deuce – A:2 B:1

A: Santino did some mic work directed towards Batista before the bout. As for his opponent … we get Deuce? Wow, he’s still employed? Deuce got a few nice moves in such as knee lift and fist drop. Santino got the win with a sunset flip.

B: I'm not really buying the widespread Santino love. Sure, some of his material is comedic, but what's the shelf life of his current character? One-liners and playing stupid can only carry someone so far, especially when he's not considered a viable threat in the ring itself. This was a throwaway bout, Deuce deserves better, and maybe the best solution would be placing Marella back in developmental companies for "seasoning" after this wears off.

5) Kane vs. Evan Bourne – A:4 B:6

A: Nothing beats Kane’s pyro live. I mean, damn, you can feel the heat from it in the upper deck! Bourne used his quickness early to attempt to evade Kane and scored a couple of kicks in the process. There was an uber-awesome moonsault to the outside by Bourne and a really pimp double-knee strike from the top that pissed Kane off. A sickening uppercut, three backbreakers, and a chokeslam later, Bourne was done for. Mysterio runs in and attempts a springboard cross-body. Kane kicks him out of the air and pummels him.

B: I'm not sure where Adam's score of "4" is coming from. I fought internally giving this a "6" actually (see below). Nobody, including Rey the week previously, has made Kane look this good in a really long time. Plus, Bourne got a lot of his own stuff off here and it all looked fabulous. His moonsault to the floor gave me a boner I hid with the popcorn box of the guy next to me in a DX t-shirt. Also, much love to Kane, as the ending sequence saw him do all this awesome power shit to Bourne without ever letting go of him. Fuck it, I'm officially changing my score now!

6) Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix – A:3 B:4

A: Kelly has really improved over the past year. Her springboard armdrag was nice. I though Phoenix would go over here but Santino tried to distract Kelly but a miscommunication by Glamarella helped Kelly get the pin.

B: Kelly is getting better, no doubt, and she'll make me infinitely happier soon enough when she gets her enormous tits out for Playboy magazine. This started a little loose, but got moving, and the aforementioned finish was unexpected. I also loved that Kelly busted out an Essa Ríos spot.

7) Cryme Tyme vs. John Morrison & The Miz – A:4 B:3

A: They kept the pace pretty quick in this one. JTG was launched to the floor by his partner is a cool double team move. Morrison and Miz regained control and worked over JTG. Once Shad got tagged, he really cleaned house with a bunch of huge power moves. The end saw Morrison nail Shad with a sick kick to the back of the head that allowed Miz to get the pin.

B: This was kind of awful and really had no reason being so. Miz and Morrison are both underrated, and Cryme Tyme are picking up momentum and finally starting to figure some things out in the ring. So, young talent, exciting personalities, should be fun, right? I'm not exactly sure why it didn't materialize into anything worthwhile. Communication seemed to be a bit off, for starters, and I haven't watched my DVR of the show yet, but live it failed to tell a story us as a crowd could connect and stay interested in.

8) Shawn Michaels & Batista vs. Chris Jericho, Lance Cade, & JBL – A:5 B:5

A: The crowd was super hot for Michaels and Batista. When Michaels was caught in a hold, everyone was cheering and stomping so loud that I could feel the building shaking. Michaels and Jericho had some nice spots including a sequence where Jericho ducked the chin music, attempted the Walls of Jericho, and was then reversed into a roll-up. Cade got the shocking pin on Michaels at the end with the sit-out spinebuster. After the cameras stopped rolling, Michaels and Batista cleared house and glad handed with the fans to send everyone home happy.

B: This would be pretty forgettable save for the hot ending with Cade getting a clean pinfall of the industry's most notorious egoist Shawn Michaels. I will given HBK credit for being able to pop a house, though. Most of my favorite stuff came after the cameras stopped rolling, as the triumphant heels ran back down to ringside only to all eventually eat Michaels' "Sweet Chin Music." JBL's selling was phenomenal during all of this stuff, barely pulling himself up to his feet after having already been laid out, really milking it, only to get kicked in the mouth by Michaels and knocked right back down. Also, if you've got this handy, watch Batista's entrance again as he was a few seconds early on his "imitating a machine gunner" pose which made him look like something other than just a steriod abuser, but an idiot as well.

A: We took Reading Road back up to the theatre and saw some dude who had wrapped his hybrid around a pole at the Norwood Lateral interchange. I dropped Brian off at his car and we drove separately over the Waffle House, which was about five minutes away, and spoke of the virtues of what we had witnessed and indulged in some greasy hashbrowns and eggs.

B: Man, that dude totally wrecked his car into a fire hydrant, and was sitting on a nearby curb selling his apparent neck injuries better than most active wrestlers could ever hope to. Maybe I should have borrowed Adam's iPhone and shot some video of it and mailed it to the offices of a few notable American independents and had their guys study it. Anyway, got back to my ride, drove over to Waffle House while spinning Silverstein's Arrivals & Departures. The waitress was one of those short, mousy types, making eyes at me from across the restaurant while I tried to choke down my cheese, ham, onion, tomato, and mushroom covered hashbrowns. We discussed the surreality of life, "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers, and other things. I drove home in the darkness at 1:30AM, got to my apartment, did some pre-Algerbra homework until 3:30AM, and hit the bed where I dreamt of ditzy Maria putting me in a nude bearhug.