Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dragon Gate - Gate of Anniversary 3/22/09

1. KAGETORA and RYOMA vs. Akira Tozawa and Kenshin Chikano - 2

A decent, plucky, although dispensable, start to the show. There was effort and some crowd support, but story was tossed aside for sheer volume of spots. Kenshin did some crisp kicks. Tozawa dumped RYOMA dangerously on his head with a compact German suplex. RYOMA was not to be outdone, later hitting a breathtaking Tope Con Hilo to the floor.

2. Masaaki Mochizuki, Don Fujii, and Magnitude Kishiwada vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Takashi Okita, and Kento Miyahara - 4

There was a lot to like in this one, Fuji's lucha-inspired work, Masaaki stepping up to show the young Kensuke boys how to work snug, Kishiwada's mask squeezing his enormous head, and of course, Nakajima. Mochizuki got his team the victory with a pin on Okita after a barrage of kicks.

3. Susumu Yokosuka and Gamma vs. Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi - 3

They gave this some time, but it never truly got off running, albeit sputtering with life at moments. The heels worked an extended heat segment on Gamma, which while it worked with moderate success on me at home, didn't seem to echo much sympathy from the live crowd. Gamma hit a Skytwister Press on Horiguchi, but Saito broke up the subsequent pin attempt using a blue, plastic box as a foreign object. Besides the box, a laughable weapon choice at best, the match also saw use of a kendo stick and mist. It felt like a placeholder match in the overall scheme of their feud.

4. Masato Yoshino vs. CIMA - 5

CIMA looked pretty good, in this, his big return match. His facials are still some of my favorites, with his big, expressive eyes. This went short of twenty minutes, but built decently, with a couple really choice spots. Yoshino's "Octopus Hold" makes me want to eat some octopus--perhaps I've been watching too much Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel. Masato's selling is hit-or-mess at best. A lot of times, he does this really grandiose sell where he'll sort of sit up stunned like he just awoke from a cocoon. It works on occasion, but can be done to overkill. The rest of his sells are shoddy, often looking like his underwear is chaffing and he's mildly aggravated instead of genuinely in pain. The finishing sequence was hot and CIMA got the win after coming from the top turnbuckle with double knees onto a fallen Yoshino.

5. Shingo Takagi, Dragon Kid, and Taku Iwasa vs. BxB Hulk, Naoki Tanizaki, and PAC vs. YAMATO, Yasushi Kanda, and Kenichiro Arai - 4

This was fun in that train wreck kind of way. So many people in and out, hard to tell a coherent story, but we did get crazy, super fast spots in spades so at least it was entertaining drivel. PAC did more flying than Delta Airlines and it all looked swank. Everyone brought a little something to the dance: Dragon's smoothness, Arai's jumpsuit (looked like he just got done changing someone's oil), Shingo's intensity, BxB's homoerotic longings, YAMATO's well... nevermind. Kenichiro got absolutely fucking killed by taking a reverse hurricanrana while he was sitting on top of Takagi's shoulders, and did I mention, Takagi was sitting on the top turnbuckle? Ouch!

6. Cyber Kong vs. Anthony W. Mori - Mask vs. Hair Match - 5

Cyber Kong does a Warlord-like character and for a guy who inducted the Powers of Pain into our HoF you know I can dig that. I enjoy the psychology of a big guy vs. little guy match when done well. Kong did a German suplex to Mori while he was sitting in a chair. If anyone in high school is reading this I suggest you try that to someone in study hall. A bunch of people run in and there's a ref bump and things get wacky. Match re-starts and Mori fights for his life using a triangle choke but Kong's powerful enough to lift him up and destroy him with a Running Lyger Bomb for the victory. Afterwards saw Cyber Kong delight in shaving Mori balder than a Buddhist monk. I've been feeling a good haircut lately myself--anyone got Kong's pager number?

7. Naruki Doi vs. Koji Kanemoto - 7

This was a good main event to one of the biggest Dragon Gate shows to date. It had a real interesting dynamic, basically, Koji was wrestling the next generation’s equivalent to what he personified in the 90’s. Koji was the brash, not afraid to kick you straight in the fucking face, high-flyer of NJPW back then and Doi is trying to build a similar mantra for himself. Koji just whips Naruki’s ass for large batches of this, just real, mean, hurtful kicks and strikes, etc. Naruki gets the occasional hope spot, but as a rule of thumb, Kanemoto ignores a lot of Doi’s offense making the conscious effort to swat it away or just blow it off completely.

This match had the best facials of the night. Doi sells like he’s doing a Popeye the Sailorman impersonation, one eye tightly closed, etc. Koji looks unruly, like Cletus Spuckler from The Simpsons with a bad goatee. Koji, at one point, having just hit Doi with something big, is seen in a close-up giving this subtle confident smirk that was so money. This isn’t New Japan, it’s Dragon Gate, and the homegrown boy does good as Doi rallies for the win.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wrestlemania V

1) Hercules v. King Haku- 4

We have two big brawny dudes, one thinks he's a mythical hero and the other a Samoan king wearing something Wart (from Mario 2 fame) wouldn't be caught dead in. Incidentally, Haku has always been my favorite of the Samoan heritage wrestlers over the years, he's not big on selling but he takes a licking and keeps on kicking. Herc does these one arm whip-ins that I blasted in a previous Mania- well they continue to suck ass here. Haku with a sick backbreaker and looked like Herc had no idea how to sell the move. They had some false finishes surprisingly and the savate kick counter from the top, while creative, looked like the equivalent of a pile of dog vomit. They use the same finish from Herc's Mania 4 match, guess it was the only one he could remember. Love Heenan's lavendar jacket though.

2) Twin Towers v. Rockers- 5

Michael's first Mania match, if you're counting. Gorilla Monsoon describes Jannetty piecing up Akeem who was napping on the apron as "Rather exciting and innovative." Always delivers a classic line. This match just geled well, Rockers had a good amount of time to show off fancy double teams, such as double shoulderblock from the top and double top rope dropkick, which was a crazy misfire. Michaels takes his first crazy shot in Mania with a sick sell from an Akeem clothesline. Bossman hits a powerbomb on Shawn from the top and 747 and we out. Almost recommendable if a little lengthier.

3) Ted Dibiase v. Brutus Beefcake- 3

Old Teddy takes a hell of a backdrop, have to say that. Match had two big names in, for the time, and the crowd enjoyed what they saw besides the match wasn't too great. Beefcake's moveset is limited at best and there's only so much believability in Dibiase bumping his off for the weirdo. Nice slugfest broke out during the middle, but I would have loved Stan Hansen to wander in and show them how to brawl. Small package near fall got biggest pop except the showing of the shears, Whole final was heatless and fell flatter than a Crash Test Dummy from a roof.

4) Fabulous Rougeaus v. Bushwhackers- 1

Extraordinarily sloppy match with no direction, in a lot of ways, capsulates most Mania matches. Many are brief, devoid of much action and unsatisfactory, like a frozen Hershey's candy bar, or jerking off to old Sable photos from 98 Raw magazines. Jimmy Hart pulls out his pre=requisite comedy spot and the match became a complete mess 2 minutes in. Luke took a cool bump into the corner in the highlight for me, as this one wound up with bad refing, legal man issues abound and a putrid double clothesline that was sold badly and executed even worse.

5) Mr. Perfect v. Blue Blazer- 5

Ventura states right from the get-go this could be a show stealer. It's so abundantly clear how ahead of his time Owen Hart was with his athletic counter wrestling and high flying. Hennig could work the proverbial broomstick to a good match so this, albeit short, match was pleasing to the eye. Highlights include Hennig's crazy sell over the tope rope for a dropkick, Blazer's crucifix near fall and Hennig's KO punch that most assuredly would black out Lidell these days. This as an IC Title match with 15 minutes would be astounding.

6) Demolition v. Powers of Pain/ Mr. Fuji (Tag Team Title)- 3

A power match that didn't bother exceeding expectations. Demolition must have been electric jackhammers in another life because all they seemed to do was swing their fists downwards. But they were reasonbly spry for their size and body type. Barbarian threw some nasty kicks, probably akin to some other nasty things he'd be doing to some of New Jersey's finest hookers in a seedy motel room later that night, with facepaint on. Fuji just looked plain old and he attempted some move off the top that gave me a good chuckle. You could see Ax & Smash taking it easy on Fuji in the ring for the finish too. Get me some good tag shit and shelf this thing for good.

7) Dino Bravo v. Ronnie Garvin- 2

"Hands of Stone " made to look like "Jobber of Suck" here. Shameful really, probably because he was NWA champion Vince gave the order to look like a complete moron in this match. Bravo just batted him around like a giant cat with a ball of yarn except for a few of those legendary right hands and chops. Bravo wins with a sidwalk slam and Garvin hits his big spots after the match.

8) Brainbusters v. Strike Force- 4

You could see the talent level rise a few notches here, as Blanchard and Anderson were born to be a team. Within 20 seconds they've already cut the ring in half and used 2 double team moves behind ref's back. But, they still give them their famous Horsemen weak heels routine, incl. a double figure four- possibly a shot at Flair? Who knows, who cares. Tito was on fire, and pulled off a nice bridge up with Tully, which you never see in undercard matches. Arn has so many great tag spots to use, his Benny Hill -like reach for the tag, then gets tag in corner and holds opponent down for partner to do damage. Guy's a fucking Hall of Famer, so just induct his ass already, Vince. Martel quits match and this was big news at the time, done subtlely too, not like what today's production would be. Sick Spiked piledriver for the end.

9) Andre the Giant v. Jake Roberts w/ Big John Studd as Guest Referee- 3

so Andre mauls Jake right from the get go like he was a Japanese prostitute trying to steal his wallet while he was busy taking a shit in the bathtub. Andre does his famous caught in rope spot and Roberts throttles him really violently; i'm sure he was picturing his gothic daughter at the time. Chokes & chops littered most of the match, but I think Roberts is a better opponent for Andre than Hogan was. He can give you that painful sell and can fly across the ring realistically to show off Andre's enormity. It's really sad because Andre goes down like a ton of bricks from a knee to the midsections, hurting his mystique, but he's so obviously in pain from it. The ending was a giant of a cluster as Dibiase stole the snake and Andre choked Studd out with his tights.

10) Greg Valentine/ Honky Tonk Man v. Hart Foundation- 5

2 good tag matches on 1 show? This could only be 80's WWE. I love watching Bret (yeah, i know that's really cliched) no wasted movement, everything crisp. Anvil shows he can fly better than the Hindenberg and gets a catapult shoulderblock off. Valentine throws some gnarly shots but almost 90% of Honky's offense is goofy looking garbage, arm twists to every single punch and then they don't connect that well. Anvil with the hot tag and breaks out his not often used dropkick. Killer lariats for the Jimmy Hart tandem and Neidhart didn't know much in the ring, but he knew how to swivel his hips to get the most out of a clothesline.....well, and how to braid a goatee. Harts pick up the win by using the megaphone because they so loved to have the heels get their comeuppance way more than clean wins in this time.

11) Ultimate Warrior v. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (Intercontinental Title Match)- 6

Welcome Ladies and Gents to the Rick Rude show! He begins by being flopped in the corner like a Death Row victim being fried in a stone walled room as a hick deputy chewing on a deep friend chicken thigh watches on , hitting the corners with way more Impact than TNA has ever fucking known. OH, PINK HOTNESS, all in your FACE! The sickest flying dropkick these baby brown's have seen in quite some time and he tears Warrior's head off with it. Highlight of the show right there and haven't even seen the final 3 matches yet. Warrior with long bearhug sequences, probably to stall for time, or for him to think up weird shit to say later on. Rude has done some of the most rigorous work on the whole show, taking back-cracking bumps on all of Warrior's power shit, and it's coming off really well. Rude has a devastating piledriver, but he's not known for it because it's top shelf stuff and he doesn't use it every match. A master in his own time. Oh shit, Warrior blew a backbreaker after figuring he'd do 2 in a row, i'm sure he's of the variety of people that don't walk and chew gum at the same time. It takes them a few minutes to set up the finish, which at this point is way overdone but was quite fresh here, as Rude takes multiple manly lariats that prove you can have big ones while sporting a puffed out mullet. Ventura gloats as Rude takes the belt and Heenan is left to contend with the aftermatch sloppiness guru known was Warrior.

12) Bad News Brown v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan- 2

Kind of reminded me of two gorillas pawing at each other over the food sat out in their preserve at the zoo, just a bunch of punches, some really outlandish selling by two old veterans. A battle of weapons ended it, chair v. 2x4 but i'd much rather see snake vs. mongoose, hell for that matter, Wolverine v. Sabretooth.

13) Bobby "the Brain" Heenan v. Red Rooster- 1

Brain took a nice corner bump then got pinned. Rooster cut an absurd promo beforehand, but we are talking about a grown man who believes he's a farm bird, so guess it wasn't out of context. Who was on the pipe when that shit was created?

14) Randy Savage v. Hulk Hogan (WWF Title Match)- 4

I'm leaning onto a 4 for this one when I think back, Hogan starts with nice go behind, Savage hooks on a headlock for no apparent reason and they give it a minute. Rest holds were used throughout the first 10 minutes with not a lot of thought behind them probably besides checking out the high roller hoes in the front row. Savage was hitting hard on every bump, but it felt like they were really stretching for time. Hogan apparently opened up hardway at some point, but bled little more than a skinned knee. Macho had a great high knee in his day, i'd argue better than Race or HHH, because he comes at you with velocity, truly offensive move, not just a whip in spot. Elizabeth actually made sense in the match and was doing her job well, still showing she loved Savage even though he was in complete Redneck abuse mode. Hogan took the axhandle onto the guard rail but camera shot showed him blocking it well ahead of time right after a quick word with the Donald. Savage stuck to working the throat, funny his moveset complemented the strategy well but kind of sapped me after he worked so hard just for Hogan to do the normal Hogan comeback and a simple legdrop for the win. Seen a match from MSG years back where Hogan juiced like one of the monsters from "Shadow of the Colossus" that was leagues better than this hackneyed compost.

II= 43%
III= 39%
V= 34%
IV= 34%
I= 32%

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jerry Lynn vs. Roderick Strong - (ROH 4/24/09) - 8

Even though the crowd was full of douchebags trying to make The Wrestler-related jokes at Jerry’s expense, this was outrageously good, albeit after taking a bit to get going. I’m not sure how it’ll turn out on DVD, but live, this was great. Roderick was a bloody mess, just dripping plasma all over himself, Lynn busted out some top-shelf stuff like a tornado DDT off of the apron on the floor, and then the nearfalls… oh, the nearfalls! I’ve seen Tyler Black nearfall-a-thons on DVD but never really got the appeal. But, against all logic, knowing they weren’t likely putting the belt on Strong at a Dayton show (which Aries even referred to as a “B” town on the mic earlier), everyone was still reacting to each and every one of the close falls in the last stretch. Strong, with a blood-drenched face, doing all kinds of sick backbreaker variations, big kicks, and a Boston Crab, all had us thinking Lynn’s old back was about to be broke. A really fun main event that didn’t feel like anything else on the show.

Monday, April 20, 2009

WrestleMania IV

Gladys Knight (w/o the Pips) kicks us off with a catalog of Patriotic tunes and she's wearing a jacket that has more endorsements on it than a UFC fighter.

1) 20 man Battle Royal, incl. Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Sika, Bad News Brown, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Jacques Rougeau, Raymond Rougeau, King Harley Race, Ron Bass, Hillbilly Jim, Sam Houston, Paul Roma, Jim Powers, Danny Davis, Nikolai Volkoff, Boris Zhukov, Ken Patera, George Steele and Junkyard Dog- 4

This felt more like a social gathering than a battle royal, pretty easy going. Guys just kind of bailing out left and right no cause or reason. Race took a nice face plant against the apron during his exit which had to have hurt. JYD was the only guy who seemed to be in a position to win as he got a couple of nice close ups. Crowd loved when Davis was thrown out- I'm sure the boys in the back didn't because he'd be back in the locker room bothering them. JYD, Bret & Bad News were final 3; crowd popped when they were left then quickly died again once they did nothing with their time. JYD fought and fought going out but was deposited unceremoniously. Bret took a nasty enzugiri and his famous face first turnbuckle shot before being thrown out. He got retritubution by destroying Bad News' trophy. Wonder if they figured it should be a tradition now after Andre smashed his in '86.

2) Hacksaw Duggan v. Ted Dibiase- 4

Dibiase arrives with Virgil and Andre in tow. He takes first big spot of match and goes bouncing over the top rope in a crazy bump; think it's one of his patented. These guys pick up where they left off in Mid-South with bruising chops and punches, Duggan takes a big flurry of them and sells them pretty well. No wasted movement from Dibiase and I think sticking with a brawl here was a smart move. Andre distracts Duggan and Dibiase picks up the win with a knee to the back and a fistdrop? okay, decent.

3) Dino Bravo v. Don Muraco- 3

Muraco is really explosive, I'm digging his work more and more. Totally botched a half ass attempt at what I can only guess was a Vaderbomb. Bravo threw a couple good suplexes, but his punches and kicks are borerline pansy. Some Leg work from Muraco that went nowhere right before he does a Cactus Jack and gets his neck hung in the ropes. Billy Graham is sweating profusely standing at ringside; I love how Ventura is playing up he might return saying "he heard rumblings of Graham quoted in the locker room saying "I'll be back. What does he mean by that? what is he the Terminator?" These guys are throwing the heavy artillery because every shot has all their brawny muscles behind them. Finish was weak sauce though; a lame DQ ending.

4) Greg Valentine v. Ricky Steamboat- 5

Ricky brought Ricky jr. down in a matching outfit that said "Little Dragon" on it; Monsoon tries to guess what he's thinking and comes up with "I don't know what's going on but this is a happening!" He must have used that phrase 100 times so far. Dragon looks in phenomenal shape; he goes on a flurry for the first couple minutes, transitioning from chops to deep arm drags to moves off the ropes all while keeping Valentine off balance. They missed what would have been a cool rollup spot early on. Dragon takes a hell of a bump while being pulled like a rubber band from the bottom rope. Dragon keeps going back to the arm though, old school there. I hate to say it, but Valentine resembles a disgruntled old housewife living in a trailer. Hammer's lariat would make JBL retire 5 times over. Some good near falls; Steamboat is the king of them; don't know if anyone has utilized them better over a career. They go all Puro at the end with chops from Dragon and forearms from Hammer, and it makes me want to pop in some All Japan 95 real badly. Roll through on the end with the tights and Hammer moves on. Seems like could be the best match of the night.

5) Randy Savage v. Butch Reed- 3

2 really charismatic guys here. Savage is in full blown underdog mode here; both guys play up the power v. speed aspect well for such a short encounter. Seems like they are geling well together but entirely too short to be anything of note. Savage misses the elbow bigger than shit for the end. Blue seems like Elizabeth's color.

6) One Man Gang v. Bam Bam Bigelow- 1

Gang has a nice punch, kind of surprising like when you buy a new book of stamps just as the price increases. I love when Gorilla calls guys out on spots, ex. being Bam Bam's really lame splash where it basically looks like he fell down. Both guys are just standing around trading strikes, match doens't have any direction at all. Bigelow takes a crazy backwards fall over the top rope and is seemingly counted out even though he's only on the floor for about 5 seconds and the ref lets the match continue for a good 30 seconds before calling it. Terrible finish to a nothing match.

7) Rick Rude v. Jake Roberts- 4

1st 2 lockups show more psych than almost half the show so far; Rude pushes Snake off the first one then tries it again but Roberts lets go as he does it and Rude falls face first. Beautiful. Both guys have a great bodyslam; you just don't see that much care being put into it these days. They work a silly armbar spot where Roberts won't let go and pulls Rude down to the ground from his back; I"m not buying it with Rude's physique. Liked the kneelift off the 2nd rope though; hard to make look believable. Love the missed kneelift spot where Jake takes a huge bump then arches his back like a Mexican prostitute getting it hard in the sack while 3 other chulos' watch on, all with Speedy Gonzalez tattoos on their needle filled arms. Rude slows match down to a crawl with 4, count them 4 seperate chinlocks during a big portion of the match. Roberts doesn't do much on the ground to really sell them either; shame. Crowd gets a small "Boring" chant up and they immediately lift out of the move. No wonder Rude broke his back, he takes backdrop bumps right on his spine! Sick back suplex from Rude that no doubt Chono would give him a receipt for in their under-pimped series in '92. Time expires with no warning as Rude goes for pinfall. Think they could have done a lot more with 15 minutes; maybe they were told to stall for time by the person running the show; personally i hate that bullshit. It usually comes from the mouth of an insecure shitheel.

8) Hercules v. Ultimate Warrior- 2

Warrior is in the midst of his no selling days- come to think of it Herc isn't doing much selling either. Lots of chops and clotheslines; feels like you're at a flea market and you keep seeing the same 2 crappy items at every booth or playing the latest Raw v. Smackdown! iteration and you can only do 2 moves and neither of them have ever been performed by the guy you're using. Go outside for a moment of forgettable brawling, then back in with the back suplex where one guy gets his shoulder off the ground. I like the idea of it but it came from a full nelson attempt and Warrior exectued the kick off so sloppily Herc grabbed him in a waistlock while on the ground. Terrible performances from both guys.

9) Andre the Giant v. Hulk Hogan- 2

Andre goes to work immediately with big swipes and chops. Then he poops out. He looks very weary less than 2 minutes in, avoiding some of Hogan's big shots. Andre falls slowly down to the ground after 3 lousy punches, really sad watching this. He looks hurt after obviously bracing himself for impact before a stiff clothesline from Hulk. Double DQ nonsense with the chair, easiest way to get both men out and not get pinnned. A big dud and really disheartening because you can tell Andre should not be in a ring at this point.

10) Don Muraco v. Ted Dibiase- 4

There wasn't much heat in this match but some good solid wrestling. Muraco's one arm whip-ins are a real eyesore and seem really backyard, but his powerslam rocks the house. Tide turns with giant oversell into steel post which was actually pretty crazy. Both guys looked tired and we're only really moving at 75%. Finish was excellent as Dibiase broke out the classic Austin Stun gun for the win.

11) Randy Savage v. Greg Valentine- 4

These two had some chemistry, Savage still playing the underdog as Valentine just pounds him mercilessly as if trying to put up a tent with Savage's body. His elbows are just cringe inducing and I like how Savage sells this one little shot to the throat, scrunches his whole body up like squeezing a sponge. Macho explodes late in the match with an offensive flurry that had announcers and Valentine stumbling over to adjust. Hammer is a master of pacing as he completely breaks down Savage's momentum then turns this back into a Presidential Address (by that I mean slow and long) Small package quick fin made sense for this one.

12) Honky Tonk Man v. Brutus Beefcake (Intercontinental Title Match)- 3

This is going to be the comedy match of the show, unfortunately I'm not in a laughing mood. Right off the bat, Beefer gives him a Noogie and this feels like a bad WB drama about high school life where guys moonlight as professional wrestlers. Well, he did put together a nice rope spot that ended with a high knee that was good. That was the highlight of the match; Honky hooked in his Shake, Rattle & Roll then let it go only realizing he was out of place and pulled Beefcake over to the ropes and tried it again. Lame. DQ after ref gets blasted with megaphone than Jimmy Hart gets a haircut, actually saw him transform his haircut from something out of the 80's to the 90's. Of course seems like his hair grew back like a Chia Pet because he's sported the same stupid mullet for 25 years.

13) Islanders/ Bobby Heenan v. British Bulldogs/ Koko B. Ware- 4

This is Heenan in the dog catcher's outfit. Actually way better than I thought. Tama was taking crazy bumps right off the bat, incl. one where he spilled over the top rope and splattered on the floor like a stream of blood falling on a pancake griddle. Haku & Davey have some miscues though, but make up for it by Haku just kicking him in the throat. Koko has a beautiful dropkick; I had to pause it and give it it's due appreciation, like a piece of art. Heenan works him over something good though and beyond all fucking comprehension, their spot made me want to see them in a one on one singles bout with no lame characters, just pure wrestling. Heenan takes his own goofy bumps into the corner right before he picks up the win on Koko due to his Island buddies help. Then Davey Boy has Matilda chase Heenan down the aisle and the announcers are screaming "Stop that vicious dog" when he's not even attacking Heenan,; Davey Boy keeps throwing him on Heenan's overselling body.

14) One Man Gang v. Randy Savage- 2

Savage more offensive minded here than all night, doing the hit and run strategy, like that guy who tried to mow down Jeff Hardy. Never revelaed who that was damn it!!!! I"m still dying to know. Anyways, Savage pulls off his clothesline over the top rope using Gang's gnarly beard. Gang effective on offense but he's slower than a one legged man with a dead body attached to it. Some pretensious cane spots end this dud.

15) Strike Force v. Demolition ( Tag Team Titles)- 5
The faces define tag teams in the glory days, all their big spots are double teams, done in synchronicity. They worked the arm of their much bigger opponents in the first few minutes, but it was Tito who ate a clothesline for lunch from Ax. I know he wasn't hungry after that one. Demolition now with the momentum; nothing they do is pretty, but it's loads of fun watching them pound people into the ground with repeated blows to the back. They look like if you take those angry gorillas from "Congo" and put face paint on them. They keep the ring cut in half (there's a phrase never used anymore) well. Martel gets the hot tag and and it's as smooth as a marble counter top. Wait a minute, even Fuji has a cane???? that's like 3 managers that hav eall used cane spots in their matches. Took forever for them to pull off the finish, someone missed their cue. All I know is Tito just keep beating Fuji until you could literally see some of Fuji's soul depart from his body. This was classic tag wrestling though, done right. Could have stood to added a couple minutes though.

16) Ted Dibiase v. Randy Savage (WWF Title Tournament Finals)- 4
This match features the only switch & reversal from a lockup I've seen all night. They go to Andre tripping Savage quickly, to build up the high spot of Hogan coming out. Both guys are going for a lot of covers, which makes sense even if they are from low impact moves that probably wouldn't even faze Abe Vigoda (we miss you Abe; no, he didn't die, Conan just released him back into the wild.) Savage gets great velocity bouncing into the ropes, looks like the Tazmanian devil hopped up on Mama Juana energy pills. Actually reminds me of a certain murderer I love and revere (not OJ; do I look like Hulk Hogan?) Dibiase sells Macho's over the ropes clothesline like a Cirque de Solel performer. The Hulk entrance makes the crowd pop big time. Love Dibiase's fistdops; they look so nasty. After the stage is set with Andre & Hogan at ringside, not a lot is going on in the ring, as if they're stalling for time. Great spot where Savage got the advantage momentarily and went up for a quick elbow, but missed. The end came quickly, way too quick for a main event, but time could have been running long or both men could have been winded. Hate to see Hogan hogging most of the spotlight to Savage's big moment.

II= 43%
III= 39%
IV= 34%
I= 32%

Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 WWE Draft Analysis

What had originally started as a brief e-mail between friends morphed into a pretty thorough analysis of the 2009 WWE Draft. So now, looking at it brand by brand, is NHO's analysis of the draft as written by Adam, Jessie, and Brian.

- A: Good pick-up ... should fit in well in a very stagnant Raw undercard. US Title on Raw? Great idea. It's run it's course on Smackdown.
- B: Hopefully this is will be a platform for him to be able to deliver like those in the know realize he can. A guy that, while in prison, had a guard that snuck him in Johnny Saint and Dean Malenko tapes is a readymade backstory. The fact they jobbed him out continously last year as an "initation" of sorts is sad and pathetic but here's hoping he makes everyone forget about that mess with a stellar run on Raw.
- J: Yeah, nice to switch up the belts, company probably sees big things for him and I like that idea of getting tapes, although they would never acknowledge workers like that.

Big Show
- A: Kinda predictible since they were doing the whole angle with Vickie (by the way, did that just randomly get dropped?)
- J: Yes, kind of dropped it, predictable move.
- B: I like it -- Show's got a great past year and will be a big (literally and figuratively) on Raw.

- A: Switching the titles is an excellent idea. Smackdown has a very dry women's divison and she ran out of people after McCool.
- J: I think it was her charisma that got her moved. Could be a great women's wrestler, Phoenix will turn face to feud with her.
- B: Don't know what Adam means -- SmackDown had the superior Women's division (Natalyia, Maria, McCool, Kim, Bella twins, etc.) but Marsye is the leader of the pack and will hopefully get the spotlight that Melina had been receiving on Raw.

Triple H:
- A: Very predictible since he's still feuding with Orton.
- J: This was a given.
- B: Agreed, anyone that knows HHH fucks Stephanie and has backstage pull could easily figure that, with his old, tired knees carrying all that mass, Hunter's best years are behind him and he wants to go out strong.

Matt Hardy:
- A: Maybe now we can take his turn seriously because it just felt forced on Smackdown. Should fit in nicely on the US title picture.
- J: Glad he is on the big show, hopefully he doens't end up as Val Venis.
- B: He was tits on ECW and I dug the Hardy fued -- I agree with Jess, I hope they don't completley drop the ball and just feed him to top-shelf faces.

Mr. Kennedy:
- A: He's still employed?
- J: Unfortunately....
- B: I agree with Jess again, having this idiot on the payroll isn't smart.

Carlito & Primo:
- A: Presumably to keep Rhodes and DiBiase occupied.
- J: Still think tag champs should be floaters.
- B: True Jess, not a lot of thought put into grounding the "unifed" champs.. what becomes of the other two brands tag divisions, then? - Primo resurrected Carlito's once faltering career..

Nikki & Brie Bella:
- A: Presumably to keep the Colons occupied in bed.
- J: Think that storyline has run it's course and they should be so lucky, I mean the Colons.
- B: I think they should have split them, personally -- kind of convenient they both got drafted.

The Miz:
- A: Could be a sleeper pick.
- J: It'll be up to him how far he goes.
- B: Could get lost in the shuffe - has improved but we'll see how he rolls sans the more dynamic Morrison.

- A: Who cares?
- J: Yeah, don't get that.
- B: Horney has had a couple of entertaining moments but the joke is dead and so should this charade.

- A: Dumb idea to break up that team. Will be unemployed in a month.
- J: Probably a good prediction, unfortunately.
- B: Dumb idea for whom? I think Festus will do better without Jesse.

Brian Kendrick:
- A: If he can regain his momentum from last fall, then he could fit in really good in the US title picture. Otherwise, he's probably stuck in the Val Venis spot.
- J: See him jobbing soon.
- B: Unfortunately, I don't see his status rising in the co. anytime soon, which is a shame, and hopefully he won't re-sign and can do some good in Mexico or Japan after the fact.

Chavo Guerrero:
- A: Mama Vickie needs her bedpan swapped out.
- J: To push Vickie around.
- B: They've pretty much ruined any credibility Chavo had established (his '06 feud with Rey is tits).

Chris Jericho:
- A: Huge move. Having him on Smackdown will really help all the younger guys there. Plus, there's new options with Jeff Hardy and Undertaker already over there.
- J: Yeah, dying for both of those matches, plus he'll get to work longer matches.
- B: I agree.. this should be fun to see what he does in the new environment.

C.M. Punk:
- A: Excellent idea. There's already a built-in story with Edge from last summer. Could he make it two-for-two against Edge?
- J: He will get the title at some point this year, it's a given, probably get a longer run on the 2nd hand show.
- B: Probably go after the built at Judgment Day which is in his hometown Chicago -- besides Triple H and Rey, this was my other pick I strongly thought would be done.. - Look forward to some fresh match-ups, maybe a feud with Shelton.

Rey Mysterio:
- A: As I mentioned before, a great idea to switch the IC and US titles. Mysterio could really help out on SD by jumping in the main event scene or even having a decent undercard feud with the IC belt.
- J: More of a political thing, with the hispanic crowd, but he always seemed an odd fit on Raw; hoping they give him & IC belt a good run.
- B: One of the best in co. history and will help improve any show he's on.

- A: Again, switching the titles was a great idea but aside from Gail Kim and Michelle McCool, who is there to work with on Smackdown?
- J: Not a lot, should be interesting.
- B: Taking the Bellas, Maryse, and Nataylia hurts the SD! Diva contingent - not real impressed with Melina and her random outburts of emotion (been caught crying almost a half-dozen times at non-scripted moments) or her work.

Candice Michelle:
- A: The once improved is now the often-injured. If she can stay healthy, she can contribute, but she'll probably be injured and on the shelf as much as Kennedy.
- J: SD women's division is now better than Raw's, much better; Candice at one point was improving, but can't see her wrestling much longer either w/ constant injuries; also used to be much sexier, what happened?
- B: Plastic surgery and injuries have made her look like a Bratz doll - rather see her play the slutty sex-kitten character (see Beulah, Francine, etc. in ECW) with a real kickass heel or badass face.. - will probably end up with CM Punk (both on and off screen) though.. - don't see her wrestling career materlizing into much more than what it was.. would like to see McCool rough her up..

- A: His act is old on Raw. Moving him over freshens him up a bit. Will be teaming with Undertaker by summer.
- J: I don't ever see his act freshening up, could happpen.
- B: Him and Festus would have been number one and the best, but maybe they can find something for him, possibly team him with someone for a mutual rub.

Alicia Fox:
- A: Good pick ... are there any heels in the SD women's division?
- J: Yeah, McCool.
- B: Alicia is entertaining on ECW and her FCW run.. could be good here but not sure what direction they'll take her character.

Cryme Tyme:
- A: Not sure why they decided to move them over because there sure as hell isn't anyone they can work with.
- J: For comedy I guess.
- B: I honestly would have moved Shad to ECW and fired JTG or sent him to FCW for the remainder of his contract.

Charlie Haas:
- A: He'll be teaming with Shelton again soon or be impersonating Dirty Ernie from ROH when he's begging for change on the corner to buy groceries.
- J: Wish they would take him seriously as a great wrestler, could have been pushed as a Swagger type character.
- B: Will stay untelevised job guy -- probably for the best because he just doesn't have any presence.

Mike Knox:
- A: Him and his beard need to be trimmed.
- J: No push can help him.
- B: Turn him and Kane into two hellraisers and have them and Cryme Time beat the shit out of each other the rest of the year.

Ricky Ortiz:
- A: He's still employed?
- J: Probably won't do much, but has some charisma, still needs work in ring.
- B: A good beating dummy for dominant heels like Jericho and Edge.. - maybe him, Dolph, and Alicia can do a love triangle.

John Morrison:
- A: Sleeper pick. He's going to be awesome on Smackdown where he can be a total dick and have kick ass matches. He'll probably get the IC Title to run with.
- J: Yeah, he'll be feuding with Rey soon.
- B: He does need a belt -- I'd have rather seen him on Raw going for the IC title and fueding with guys like HBK, Batista, and MVP.

Dolph Ziggler:
- A: Nice knowing ya.
- J: 50/50 with him, like Miz depends on his performances.
- B: Not on Miz's level and won't last as long, either.

Vladimir Koslov:
- A: Lost all traction he had on Smackdown. Should be a nice fit on ECW.
- J: Just another monster in the list of 24 they've put on ECW over the years ... Show, Khali, Knox, Snitsky, same push, same idea, none of it was good.
- B: Wouldn't say none of it was good, Jess -- Big Daddy V and Mark Henry were both fun monsters - but, I don't think Koslov has got it and is an eyesore at press time.

Ezekiel Jackson:
- A: Had a good thing going with Kendrick. This leads me to believe that one of them will be either re-packaged or unemployed.
- J: We'll see, this guy needs a lot of work still.
- B: Rather seem him as a powerhouse with momentum than Koslov.

Zach Ryder:
- A: He's still employed?
- J: Needs a new gimmick and could help him out tremendously.
- B: The lesser of the two Edgeheads gets a new deal? This is laughable and he'll be forgotten by next year's draft.

D.H. Smith:
- A: If they don't team him with Tyson Kidd, then they're a bunch of idiots. Hopefully, he's gained some much needed experience in Florida.
- J: Yeah, see the Hart Foundation coming together soon.
- B: Hart Foundation 2K9 will be sweet but thought Tyson was doing plently fine w/ just Natalya.

- A: Wasn't she already on ECW?
- J: Don't know but if so she's the only woman, what happened to that Raw- ECW talent exchange?
- B: She was on SD! but managed Tyson n ECW - now its official, but now she has nobody to wrestle which sucks because she's arguably the best woman wrestler in the co.

Hurricane Helms:
- A: Stand back ... wait ... he's still around?
- J: Might have a chance to shine here, anywhere else seems to be lost in the shuffle.
- B: I like this move, his return matces on SD! were adequete, needs to lose the newfound gut, find that old passion that made him a standout on shows like WCW Thunder and Saturday Night.. - would have loved to seen him and Morrison feud, but will gladly settle for matches with Christian, Bourne, Tyson, Noble, etc.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

UWF Capital Punishment II

1. AJ Styles vs. Joey Matthews - 6
2. David Young and Daffney vs. Jake Manning and Gail Kim - 3
3. Senshi vs. Ruckus - 4
4. Abyss vs. D-Lo Brown - 4
5. Team Sgt. Slaughter (Dustin Rhodes, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Kirby Mack and TJ Mack) vs. Team JBL (CW Anderson, Steve Corino, Hernandez, Homicide, and Elix Skipper) - UnCivil War Double Ring Double Cage Match - 5

I’ll start by saying I really enjoyed this show. I’d seen a different UWF show awhile back that took place in the old, original ECW Arena, and it had a completely different vibe to it. They brought out the Dudleys in an attempt to do a brawl that’d capture some of the old magic but it failed miserably. This show, though, is done in Richmond, Virginia, in a packed house in front of a raucous crowd, and feels like the sort of “fun” independent show that’s becoming increasingly harder to find.

Styles and Matthews worked a really snug, physical match, reminiscent of ROH-fare except sans the pretentiousness. It started with some in-ring mic work to put some heat on it, but after that, both guys just brought their best stuff and complimented each other well. The mixed tag match wasn’t anything too special, but going back to that “old school” independent vibe, it fit nicely and was enjoyable for the live crowd. Manning is working a “Man Scout” gimmick, that is, a grown version of a boy scout—it’s as ludicrous as it sounds, but even his goofy park ranger-like attire couldn’t distract me from Daffney. Now, pardon me, for sounding like a cliché male pig, but I found it difficult not focusing on Daffney, largely due to having just finished an episode of TNA TV beforehand, where she’s slimmed down and is quite petite; but here, she’s rocking a huge ghetto booty and magnificent, voluptuous fun bags that’d smother even the bravest of souls.

Moving on, my boy Senshi, a true favorite of mine, had a pretty good outing with Ruckus. Senshi, while an awesome worker, is like everyone else, in that, you’re only as good as your opponent. Here, he’s got perpetually stoned slacker Ruckus, who didn’t bring his best stuff. I preferred Ruckus before his stint in CZW, when he was a chubby dude doing outrageous bumps in his neighborhood backyard federation, which I’d occasionally see clips of and boisterously laugh about. Senshi works at his own pace and methodically gets a victory and a good, yet not recommendable bout. Abyss and D-Lo are next, and also fall just short of the recommended category, but that’s not to say their match wasn’t good as I enjoyed it. It got more time than certainly Abyss was used to utilizing, given TNA demands, which really went far in making it not just another forgettable match.

The main event, I’m not going to try and sell as great, but given how many really, really bad “War Games”-style cage matches I’ve seen, this one is actually not bad. Starts with two guys, then one man enters from the heel team, then from the face team, etc. Certain guys in here obviously aren’t going to offer up a lot, like Corino, Skipper, etc. But, there is plenty of fun to be had, as both of the Mack bros. bump big throughout, Homicide is a blast watching cause trouble, Hernandez is killing people (including launching one of the Mack bros. with a powerbomb from one ring into the other), the Steiner bros. are dumping people on their heads, there’s some blood, etc. All in all, a good main event, not terribly overbooked (like the MLW “War Games” I watched last year) and sent the fans home happy from an overall entertaining show.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wrestle Mania II

April 7, 1986
Nassau Colisuem, Long Island, NY
Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL
Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA

First, one comment, Ray Charles performed an amazing rendition of "America, the Beautfiul" probably one of the best I can remember at a Mania.

1) "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff v. The Magnificent Muraco- 3
I like the originial "Rock"s selling, for a big guy, it's never over the top but he still takes great bumps. He's feeding himself to Orndorff's offense well, and working the armbar on defense better than Orndorff is working it on offense. Rock hits a killer Samoan drop that makes Dwayne Johnson's look like the Kibble he fed that bulldog in a tutu in his last Disney flop (no the one before the terrible remake about alien kids) The end just falls apart though, like a Whopper sandwhich. They bumble going over the top rope then do a Double Countout which promptly sends the raucous NY crowd into a loud "Bullshit" chant that Vince half acknowledges.

2) "Macho Man" Randy Savage v. George "The Animal" Steele (Intercontinental Title Match)- 4
I remember hating this match when I was a kid, never really being into all the goofy hijinx matches like this had to offer. Can't say I'm a fan even now but can appreciate the work put into this. Speaking of work, I'd love to work over Elizabeth's ears, neck and ample chest with my mouth because she was looking smoking hot here. Both guys are on with the psych game- they know exactly how to run this match. 2 big moves right from the start are Savage's high knee into Steele's face and the neck hang (popularized by WCW Wrestling for the NES) to Savage. Savage blows a flying bodypress early on and they stick to the comedy mainly after that. Stiff shot with a bouquet of flowers, that's a first. Another first is having a mid card guy kick out of a rising star's finisher which Steele easily throw's Savage off his cover from the flying elbow??? Well done harmless comedy though.

3) George Wells v. Jake "the Snake" Roberts- 4
Wells starts off with quick street fighting punches that rock Jake bad. Where the hell did this guy come from and more importantly, where did he go? His power game looks good, ex. shoulderblock, powerslam and Roberts is the right person to give some believable sells to them. Roberts timed the kneelift through the middle rope perfectly, kind of a squash but a competitive one. Wells bites down on some Alka Seltzer for the frothing effect after the match as Jake tries to get the python to wrap around Wells' neck but it's just not happening.

4) Mr. T v. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (Boxing Match)- 3
No real way to grade this , work rate wise, so we're purely going on entertainment value. 1st round was pretty dead even with both guys feeling each other out and taking no chances or showing off. 2nd round Piper lets a flurry loose on T and gets 2 knockdowns while looking quite good. T evens the score in the 3rd and Piper sells the knockdown like a wrestler would were he to find himself in a worked boxing match. T is completely blown up. 4th ends with the stool shot to T's knee cap (ouch!) and a sloppy bodyslam. Mildly entertaining but loved both guys just trading blows at the end. Always heard there was real heat between these two- wish they wouldn't have hid it so well, seemed more like mild disinterest.

5) Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre (Women's Championship)- 3
Moolah starts out super aggressive, like an elderly Sabretooth with man tits. Velvet fights barefooted, always liked when white people wrestled like that. Great pace, Velvet met her demise when she missed a splash from the 2nd rope and her tiny "A" sized breast popped out. Moolah mounted her like a horny yak. Less than 2 minutes but action packed.

6) Nikolai Volkoff v. Corporal Kircshner (Flag Match)- 2
There's that damn heat machine Russian Anthem again!!! Volkoff starts the match by hitting a spin kick and burying a knee in Cpl.'s midsection. Cpl's punches are really exaggerated, gets posted outside and apparently has some blood (that "Mean" Gene notices) but I never saw it. Another quick one after an errant misthrow of the cane by Blassie. This one was for the America pop.

7) 20 Man NFL/ WWF Battle Royal, including Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Ernie Holmes, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Big John Studd, Tonga Kid, Ted Arcidi, Danny Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, Russ Francis, Pedro Morales, Iron Sheik, William "Refridgerator" Perry, Bruno Sammartino, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Harvey Martin, Tony Atlas & Andre the Giant- 5

Always thought this was a fun battle Royal, kind of light on punching and stuff and heavy on bear hugs and awkward grabbing and holding for long period of time. NFL guys didn't fare too well, most of them going out pretty quickly, but never realized till now they used several retired NFL players for this and god were they out of shape. Two nasty eliminations were to Bill Fralic & Big John Studd who are so tall when they flipped over their necks got caught under the bottom rope and snapped them back. Fridge looked to adapt to the wrestling style kind of easily, the Harts took a huge shoulder tackle from him at one point. Andre prevailed in the end but eliminating the Harts in easy fashion; still wish they would have shown where he chucks the trophy over his shoulder and shatters it in the aisleway.

8) Greg Valentine/ Brutus Beefcake v. British Bulldogs (WWF Tag Team Titles)- 7

You can feel a change in the style of match this is from the rest of the show. Hard hitting, physical style and the fans and announcers are eating it up instead of the usual comedy stuff and goofy characters. All the guys except Beefcake are using really damaging suplexes throughout the match. Hammer uses same break pace tactics as in Mania I, diving outside and such; he also works most of the match himself. Heels are giving up some good near falls to the challengers who keep the pressure on with quick moves and powerful offense. Valentine trades blows with both men, my favorite instance is a near slap box match between he & Dynamite, with Hammer succumbing to the tough little shit's brutal forearms to the face. I like Hammer's ode to D-von with the leg shakes after he gets a knee dropped into his forehead. He throws in a sick piledriver that looks reminiscent of a shitty move DDP used to use like a piledriver except this one he dropped Dynamite directly on his thick skull. Hammer has enough after taking Flair bump from top rope, they start working the hammerlock on Davey Boy after that. The finish is crazy but directed by future TNA cameramen where Dynamite sacrifices himself and gets rammed into Hammer then flies to the floor outside, but you don't see how he landed. Big win for the Bulldogs and this is easily match of the night.

9) Hercules Hernandez v. Ricky Steamboat- 6
A great mesh of styles here, aggressive powergame matched up with Dragon's expressive selling and quick pace. The fans were just eating up everything Steamboat did, much like on Raw last week. Herc was trying to keep up with Dragon's quick sequences and you saw enough of a mix of different things that it kept the match interesting, like several reverse whip-in's, tilt a whirl escapes and other nifty tricks. Both guys were using a great amount of energy, but Steamboat's looked replenishible. Herc nailed 2 vicious clotheslines during the 3rd act that had Dragon reeling, as well as a stun gun. The finish came off really well and was built up sufficiently with Steamboat being punished leading up to the breathtaking flying body press like only he can execute.

10) Adrian Adonis v. Uncle Elmer- 4
God Adonis looks absoutely hideous. Elmer gets a big pop from the L.A. crowd, surprising. He mocks Adonis' overtly gay actions and I feel like I"ve just been transported to an Indy show in southern Georgia where JC Ice will work Semi-main doing his racist hating. Adonis is all over the ring, taking liberally dangerous bumps just to appease a crowd who could give a shit less if he jobs to the gigantic, and probably heart failure risking Elmer. Elmer stumbled over after throwing a lazy punch in a hilarious moment. Adonis hits about 2 offensive moves and Elmer is done for the night, mostly comedy but entertaining nonetheless.

11) Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog/ Tito Santana- 6
Typical Terry Funk made this match so much more than just filler and it began when he was fucking with Lee Marshall (who was ring announcing) and the ref. He was being a wild man, falling over the ropes randomly, feeding himself to vicious Tito punches. Dory showed off his famous Euro uppercuts as often as he could when not trying to corral Terry back in the corner. Tito & JYD both can have hot tags that are well worth seeing and the Funks give them everything they have to make them work, which they do. Terry sells a near fall he got with a suplex well. I'm sure Vince was hoping this was a throwaway right before the main , but it's fun, it's unpredictable and the crowd loves to see the Funk's get their asses handed to them. Terry takes a huge backdrop all the way to the concrete below courtesy of the "Juker" as Gorilla Monsoon lovingly refers to the Dog as. Turns into a wild Southern brawl outside complete with Terry taking a table bump. Misdirection for the finish a little off, but a minor tiff in a largely fulfilling and madhouse brawl.

12) Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy ( WWF Title Steel Cage Match)- 5
Hogan starts out rough, just how Linda used to like it, but it makes sense for this because it's a hate filled feud and Bundy is taking his licks. His flabby chest makes great noise when Hogan chops or clotheslines it. I still imagine how strange he looked with hair when he was down in Texas getting his ass beat nightly by Brody & the Von Erichs. Bundy has some appropriate facial reactions too. I assumed Hogan playing the hurt ribs would give him the chance to lay low and do some convulsive selling and go really low impact wit this one and it goes according to plan for a while but Hogan actually gets a whole beatdown section where Bundy is his bitch and gets some juice. It's funny because Bobby Heenan reaches through the cage and it's pretty obvious he's blading Bundy's head and for some reason the camera just stays on them. Bundy is just the star of this fucking show- love that he tries to escape the cage 4 times in the first 5 minutes. He also takes a Ron Simmons-esque powerslam and a free fall bump from the top rope to the mat en route to a losing effort but he made Hogan a lot of money on this night.

II= 43%
III= 39%
I= 32%

Monday, April 13, 2009

Strikeforce on Showtime 4/11/09

I started this as an e-mail to some buddies but figured it'd be worth sharing here, too. Download this show like I did -- it's worth it.

wow.. opening video production made UFC look like TNA.. - really awesome, movie-like opening that came off very high class.. - Strikeforce 2.0 looks like it's officially the #2 dog and will be tough competition..

current champs:
- Cung Le
- Robbie Lawler
- Jake Shields (anyone catch him on Bully Beatdown last night? great stuff)
- Alister Overeem (seen him in K-1.. super big, tough)
- Josh "the Punk" Thompson
- Renato Babalu
and are rumored to sign Tito Ortiz, returning Kevin Randleman, Gina Carino, Shinya Aoki (who i've seen in DREAM and is crazy skilled on the ground), Andrei Arlvoski, etc. etc.

brett rogers beat abongo humphrey :

two heavyweight sluggers.. - brett rogers is now 9-0.. - could be scary in UFC or anywhere.. - remember, he was in the first MMA fight in broadcast television history for Elite XC.. - he hit over 23 knee strikes and bloodied Abongo's face real bad and Ko'D him.. - brett's nickname is "Grim" and he fits the bill.. him vs. Overeem would be HUGE!

cris "cyborg" santos beat Hitomi Akano :

cyborg came in massively over weight limit.. - cyborg starts off intense.. - Akano comes from the SmackGirl promotion in Japan (where they beat the hell out of each other) but Cyborg is too strong and just beats her at will.. - Hitomi keeps falling to back trying to get fight to ground.. - Akano attempts a flying armbar that was tits.. but cyborg smashes her into oblivion

scott smith beat benji radach :

two razor sharp strikers... - bas rutten is in radach's corner.. says he has the toolset to beat Anderson Silva.. - really? - first round one of the damnedest slugfests i've seen in ages.. AWESOME! - second round.. damn.. Smith was out on his feet but survived.. - he's one of the most resilient fighters in MMA.. - remember him vs. Lawler? - he ate some nasty shots in that round.. rocking a crimson mask.. - round 3.. benji gets crushed but counters with a giant, wild slam.. - both men bloody like camp crystal lake kids.. - WOAH! - smith just KO'd Radach with a right hook and then collapses in the center of the cage.. - great fight.. - smith embraces his two little boys after the fight.. his youngest, five, askes "are you alright?".. classic..

gilbert melendez beat rodrigo damm:

gilbert was supposed to have a re-match against champion and friend "Punk" Thompson but the match was changed due to a last minute injury.. - saw their first battle on the Strikeforce on NBC (Saturdays @ 2AM - DVR it!) show and enjoyed it.. - Damm taking a five minute, five round fight (for interim title) on one-week notice is rough.. - melendez grinds him down wtih ground & pound the whole 1st round.. - gilbert backing him up throughout the second round until he catches him with a vicious right for the KO..

nick diaz beat frank shamrock:

big main event.. lots of electricity with the trash talk and the big face-off at the press conference.. - built as nick being a younger version of frank.. - somebody should give Diaz RVD's phone number.. - could get him that hook-up on the sticky icky bud.. - Big John McCarthy refs for the 1st time since stepping away.. that shows the scope of this re-launch.. - second round its clear Diaz's reach is just too much for an older (46 yrs. old vs. 25) Shamrock who hadn't fought in a year since Cung Lee smashed his arm to bits with a kick.. - Diaz starts landing stuff at will, knows he has him, starts playing to the crowd, sticking his neck out, etc. then ground and pounds a fallen Frank for the TKO.. - Diaz immediately helps up Frank afterwards in a nice showing of respect..

overall, a real tight, good show.. - had Thompson not got injured this would have been super stacked.. - i'd rank it up with UFC 96 (Rampage vs. Jardine) and DREAM 8 as the best MMA shows of '09 i've seen so far.. - their next Showtime show in June has Lawler vs. Shields and Babalu defends so i'll be downloading it the day after, too.. - good time to be a combat fan..

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wrestlemania I

March 31, 1985
Madison Square Garden
Estimated Attendance- 22,000 (11th of 25 in attendance)

Okay, this is my initial Mania review; over the next couple months I plan on getting through all 25 of the biggest event in wrestling history (thought it was about time). You can find Mania reviews strewn all over the web, but I'm not going to go into these with preconceived notions from the past; it's a clean slate. At the bottom of each review, I'll list the Mania with the percentage from my scores, thus easily ranking my favorite to least favorite show with no messy clean up. Hope you enjoy.

1) Tito Santana v. Executioner- 4

Criss cross to start, Tito has a high dropkick and kicks this thing off right with Executioner's flabby body sailing into the camera outside. Love the grind Tito puts on his headlock. The ropes are ridiculously loose, very Megan Fox like. Announcing is superb so far, Ventura sounds more hyped about this than possibly winning a box of cigars from Arnold over who has the bigger biceps (see Predator Special Edition DVD) Our masked heel isn't giving a lot on sells, as far as emotion but is taking some decent bumps. Crowd oooo'd when Tito ate knees to the belly on a big splash attempt. Basic Figure-4 gets the win and the crowd was sufficiently amped after match; good opener.

2) SD Jones v. King Kong Bundy (w/ Jimmy Hart) - 1

This is one of the most classic squashes of all time, due to it being at the first Mania. Not much to say, Jones cut a great pre-match interview, hate to see the poor sap go down so easily. Bundy's neck and back are conjoined.

3) Matt Borne v. Ricky Steamboat- 3

A reserved Ricky Steamboat is not what I was expecting out of this one. Shows good leaping ability, leapfrog, top rope dive, kneedrop but I don't see much fire in his actions. Borne gives a quick aftersell on each move then promptly moves to next spot. Solid unimpressive match, Dragon hits one of his less spectacular body presses in memory.

4) Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny V) v. David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) - 3

David's physique is not one that appeals to the human eye, roundish sort of like a wheel of cheese. There's no one I want to see stall for 5 minutes less than Beefcake either. Dave is being pushed as a mat grappler and he has decent movement. You can tell he knows some holds, he just doesn't know how to work them in the context of a pro wrestling match. Beefer tries to steer him through but it's the blind leading the blind, except for a kick Brutus uses to snap David off his ankle. David pulled off a nice diving knee onto Brutus' arm. Beefcake chooses to adjust his wardrobe accessories instead of selling the armlock he's in. I think the issue is this match was given too much time; Beefcake's offense is that of a caveman, just a bunch of sloppy, flailing forearms. Both guys still under seasoned (sounds like i'm talking about a beef brisquet). Bruno hops in for the high spot of the match and the crowd comes alive for a second. Probably the only match in history where a brief "David" chant was started for that particular person. I'm sure he much rather enjoys his life as an accountant now.

5) Greg "the Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Junkyard Dog (Inter-continental Title)- 5

JYD's intro set the building on fire, not literally like in TNA but finally the people were heard loud and clear, even showing random fans with mullets mouthing the poetic lyrics to "Grab them Cakes." Valentine is on his game, throws brutal forearms & elbows, makes good facials on defense and keeps slowing down Dog's pace. Valentine goes to leg quickly here, and it all works. I like JYD's short punches and Valentine's aftersell of them, just very realistic. Not very long, so match didn't tell a complete story, but kind of did a Dusty finish where Tito told ref about Valentine cheating, so Dog gets the countout to send the fans home happy. Would have like to have seen this get about 6-7 more minutes.

6) Barry Windham/ Mike Rotundo (w/ Lou Albano) v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Fred Blassie) (World Tag Team Titles)- 5

God, that Russian National Anthem was a heat machine! Volkoff is being littered with garbage during it. This kind of America bashing from Sheik would be dangerous today, post-9/11. Both teams are well structured, and this is very reminiscent of a classic tag match, one scientific guy and one power/brawling guy per team. Perfect technique from Rotundo, every offensive move he does is just executed perfectly, all clean moves ex. suplex, hiptoss, scoop slam. Sheik slaps on a brutal abdominal stretch during Rotundo's beatdown. Heels control for a few minutes but not long enough for my taste, didn't really feel Rotundo was in danger of losing. Windham comes in with hot tag and crushes Nikolai's skull with a bulldog. Cane to the back and this one's history- probably my favorite match of the night but it also suffered from not enough time so the ebb & flow of it was rushed. 1st title change in Mania history though.

7) Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan) v. Andre the Giant ($15,000 Bodyslam Challenge)- 2

All these 2 behemoths can do is strike, so they both lay it in from the opening bell, Studd just chopping Andre as hard as he can, and the big man throwing brutal open hands all up and down Studd's manly beard and chest. Strangely, Andre keeps Studd cornered during most of the match, like he's trying to trap a snake under a box. A violent choke about 3 mins. in, very Homer Simpson-esque. Rest holds galore and Studd is getting no room to breathe, just being smothered by Andre's mass and standing locks. Liked Andre, the's leg kicks though. Slam comes out of nowhere, probably due to Andre being bored, hungry or horny, or all 3. Not much of a match but slightly entertaining.

8) Lelani Kai (w/ Fabulous Moolah) v. Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) (Women's Title)- 2

First lockup looked like two drunk chicks coming out of bar trying to lean on each other for support. Kai did some quick shoulder work, commendable but didn't add up to much. Richter's strikes were pitiful, nearly as much as the sight of Lauper at ringside with her makeup running onto her teeth. Stiff reverse slam from Richter leading into the end sequence with several botched rollups for the finish. Moolah comes in and does some pratfalls to get the one hit wonder over some more.

9) Roddy Piper/ Paul Orndorff (w/ Bob Orton jr.) v. Mr. T/ Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Snuka)- 4

I reviewed this last year for the Piper DVD and found the match was built more upon Piper v. T and my suspicions are reaffirmed after reliving the iconic image of their faceoff. The match breaks down, several times in fact but this match is purely based on crowd reaction and heat spots, not work rate. Hogan gives some inspired facials on the ground but I personally find it funny when he has to tag back in after T looked like a snail under a magnifying glass for his beat down section. The wideshot the match is in too doesn't do it any favors, can't see the details of the work. Finish is out of nowhere and so many guys were off their cue, what a jumbled mess. If you take away crowd heat you have a sure fire dud, but NYC was on their feet for this main.

I= 32%

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TNA Destination X '09

Downloading wrestling has kick-started my passion again. My friends and I used to always talk, imaging a utopia where we’d actually get current Japanese wrestling here in America on TV. Well, now I can see every show, from almost every company, both the largest and more obscure, oft times mere days after they’ve happened for free via downloading. On top of all the American TV I watch weekly, I now routinely watch the latest NJPW, AJW, NOAH, etc. and am practically as up-to-date on what’s happening across the globe as I am with the usual fare.

Then I started seeking deeper, looking for a way to see DVDs of some of the smaller, independent companies I always hear discussed and celebrated on forums; companies like IWA: Mid-South, PWG, Chikara, XCW, etc. Lo and behold, I found more downloading sites, these giving me completely free access to hundreds of hours of the lesser known, yet expensive to procure, independent wrestling I’d desired.

And now this, I’ve found sites that almost instantly post all of the brand new UFC, WWE, and TNA pay-per-views. I typically read feedback on pay-per-views I’m not fortunate enough to see live, but now, if I feel so inclined, I can skip the reading of others’ thoughts, and generate my own by watching the shows completely free from the comfort of my own computer desk. And that, my friends, brings us to this:

1. Taylor Wilde, Roxxi, and The Governor vs. The Beautiful People (Velvet Sky, Angelina Love, and Madison Rayne) - 4
2. Brutus Magnus vs. Eric Young - 2
3. Matt Morgan vs. Abyss - Match of 10,000 Tacks - 3
4. Awesome Kong vs. Sojourner Bolt - 3
5. Scott Steiner vs. Samoa Joe - 1
6. A.J. Styles vs. Booker T - 6
7. Team 3D vs. Beer Money, Inc. - No Disqualification Off the Wagon Challenge - 3
8. Suicide vs. Alex Shelley vs. Chris Sabin vs. Consequences Creed vs. Jay Lethal - Ultimate X Match - 6
9. Sting vs. Kurt Angle – 5

So, I just started watching the show, and during the opening, which is done in black and white and supposed to draw parallels about our nation facing obstacles and then somehow connect that to wrestling, I noticed the following error: in a bold white font on a black background the text: "WE MUST ENDEAVER TO SOAR" appears. Wait, what? The word they were trying to use is "endeavor". TNA, not even a minute into the show, and they're already botching stuff…

I enjoyed the opener. The extended heat segment for the heels on Roxxi was nice—I dug them taking advantage of a distracted ref and all three of them choking and clawing at Roxxi in the corner. The hot tag segment was great, too; Governor doing a springboard off of Roxxi’s back and hitting a flying crossbody over the ropes on Love and Sky was a cool moment. Taylor’s German suplex for the victory looked great. The next match was a flop. It’s too bad the kid in the front row’s Botchamania sign got confiscated, as this would have been the ideal time to showcase it. Magnus was supposed to catch Young, who was doing a dive from the second buckle, but unceremoniously dropped him. Brutus also does a splash, which I saw him do the night before this pay-per-view at a house show in Ohio, where he’ll miss and awkwardly land knees-first. I do like his high-knee, though, maybe he’s a closet HHH fan. His finisher is sort of a spinning “Death Valley Driver”/”TKO” from the second buckle and came off crudely.

Morgan and Abyss delivered a relatively painless brawl, it lacked intensity given the backstory, but wasn't the train wreck their match at the previous month's pay-per-view was. Matt hit his "Carbon Footprint" kick on the ramp to knock Abyss off onto a platform that held two large trays of thumbtacks for the finish. The women's match, which caused Meltzer in his review to drop an "F bomb" started off peppy enough, but Bolt botched a spot in the corner real bad early. For me, some of the awkward, less smooth moments actually made it feel more logically like a fight. Still, it wasn't much, but Kong came off strong which was the right route to go. The Joe/Stiener match barely lasted two minutes before it was tossed out; the intensity was there, though, with Scott bleeding early and some stiff shots being thrown, it's just a shame the PPV audience got screwed out of an advertised match.

Booker and AJ really worked physical, laying in their shots, etc. and that's always a big plus. Styles is a really top-notch performer, but he's constantly saddled with bad storylines, etc. in TNA, so it's nice to see him here focusing on wrestling, as opposed to his role as comedy relief last year chasing Karen Angle around backstage like a puppy dog. Styles drops Booker with a couple nasty suplexes, including a nice bridging German, and also gets off his signature spots like the Pele kick and Styles Cash. Both guys' selling was good, too; Booker really shined, he has dynamic facials, and even makes things like punches seem real, rocking his head back and reeling from shots.

The tag match was fine, when it was going through the paces; not great, though, with lapses in logic, the referee doing a poor job of maintaining the legal men, and a pace that could be accurately described as a casual stoll. Still, it was decent enough tag fair until the extremely screwy ending killed any goodwill I was willing to give it. Beer Money Inc. got intentionally disqualified, then Cornette restarted the bout, only for them to quickly leave ringside to lose via count out. If Cornette was able to restart the match once, why couldn't he do it again? Another unacceptable ending on a pay-per-view that the paying customer is getting burnt on. But ending on a high note, when Beer Money was taking off, recently gone bad Don West handed them their belts, which led to a humorous exchange as Team 3-D grilled a red-faced West at the announcer's table.

The Ultimate X match is a spectacular spot-fest as we've come to expect. Creed was reported to have suffered a legitimate concussion and it's easy to see why, he takes four or five really big bumps right on his skull. There's some innovative stuff, too; Suicide had Creed up on his shoulders on the apron, then he did one of those Finlay rolling slams with him out onto the other three guys on the floor, etc. TNA can't win despite themselves, you've got a crazy, enthusiastic crowd that's full of energy and really helps the show, but on the other hand, you book a character based off of a poorly selling video game that's helping to bankrupt your company as one of your major champions. But, poor decisions aside, this match is a fast-paced train wreck that's a joy to cringe through.

The main event feels like your typical "Attitude"-era brawl, but lacking the sizzle or heat, which is for shame, as this had some of the better build of any TNA main event in a long time. Sting just can't hang with Kurt physically these days. Kurt does some real basic "punch, kick" offense early, but revs up things a notch by taking some unnecessary dangerous bumps, like taking a backbody drop over the ropes and turning it into a fifteen-foot high spill right on top of his surgically repaired neck. Sting busts out a powerbomb? I guess he'd taken so many over the years back in WCW that he felt he was due to deliver one himself. Angle is obsessed and driven, signs Benoit displayed, hopefully Kurt doesn't completely self-destruct. The finish is stupid as fuck, I won't detail it bit by bit, but needless to say, special ref Jarrett takes an inadvertent clothesline and sells it like death, selling it much harder in fact than either of the active participants did eachother's finishing moves. Foley hobbles into the ring, there's some spots with a chair, Kurt spits a giant wad of phlegm into Jarret's face, then has to lay down after a weak Scorpion Deathdrop by Sting to end things.

Overall, not a particularly strong effort, but certainly worth a free download. I guess I'll be downloading Lockdown '09 later this month...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

ROH on HDNet 4/4/09

WrestleMania Pre-Show Matches

1) Steve Blackman & Grandmaster Sexay vs. X-Pac & Justin Credible (Heat - 4/1/01) - 1
2) Rob Van Dam & Kane vs. Lance Storm & Chief Morley (Heat - 3/30/03) - 4
3) 29-Man Battle Royal (WM 21 dark match) - 3
4) 18-Man Battle Royal (WM 22 dark match) - 2
5) 24-Man Battle Royal (WM 24 dark match) - 3

We’re just hours away from the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 25, and to get your in the mood for ‘Mania, I’ve tackled a few of the pre-show bouts from recent WrestleMania events. The first bout up was from Sunday Night Heat before WrestleMania 17 and was total junk. Blackman looked like a total goof trying to dance before the match and Grand Master was annoying as usual. The only thing he did right in my book was eat a giant clothesline from Albert, who was in X-Pac and Justin’s corner. Blackman got the tag and was pinned by a double super-kick moments later. Just a terrible way to start off one of the biggest shows in recent memory.

Next up, I picked the pre-show bout from WrestleMania 19, which was broadcast on Heat moments before the show. This was by far the best of any of the pre-show bouts. RVD and Kane I thought always had good chemistry as a team. Morley was subbing for Regal, who apparently was injured. The Dudleys were also hanging out around ringside. Kane hit a very sloppy cross-body over the top rope and the coersion of RVD. Lawler makes a crack at Morley’s previous persona by referencing Viagra. Morley and Storm worked well as a thrown together unit, despite having almost the same working style. RVD takes a sick bump into the rail after getting thrown off the top rope by Morley. The Dudleys get involved, give Storm a 3-D, throw RVD on top, and the Bubba drops a big elbow on RVD costing RVD and Kane the tag titles. I’m not sure where the finish led to storyline wise but I assure you it led to steroids and marijuana in the locker room.

The three battle royals were almost identical, especially the ones from WM 21 and WM 22, so let’s talk about those first. They were set up in the form of Raw vs. Smackdown with the wrestlers from each show wearing their respective show’s t-shirt. Heidenriech was a focal point of the WM 21 battle royal by trying to get Hurricane’s mask and shaking his hand before the bout, and then ripping up a turnbuckle and stomping on the aforementioned mask. Both matches looked like a bunch of red and blue guys beating each other up and the t-shirts made it really hard to tell who was who, especially the lower card scrubs that not even Cole and Tazz had any clue about. To close out, the battle royal from last year’s ‘Mania was a bit better than the previous ones as there was acutally something worth fighting for, a shot at the ECW title. Jamie Noble had a nice spot where he was thrown over the top and walked on people’s backs to climb back in the ring. Henry, Kane, and Snitsky were the last three with the victory eventually going to Kane. There wasn’t much action to describe as it was mostly just a lot of random people failing about. Hope these matches got you in the mood for WrestleMania 25 which is sure to be a fantastic show.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

'Mania Match of the Day #24

WrestleMania XXIV
John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton - 6

It’s been a year since I’ve watched this match and I can say that I enjoyed it more now than I did a year ago. These three play really well off of each other. Cena was using the power game to his advantage which I’ll get into in a little bit. Orton starting the match off by clobbering both guys with the title belt was a very unique way to start. The crowd was pretty much split 50/50 for Triple H and Cena. Actually, let me rephrase that and say it was more along the lines of 55/45. JR mistakenly calls a modified backbreak a reverse atomic drop. Ok, now he’s just making shit up. As I mentioned, Cena’s power was his strong suit (no pun intended). A prime example of this is him deadlifting Orton off the mat and onto his shoulders. The flow of this match was also really good and every time you would think someone was going to tap, the other combatant would come in and break it up. I really enjoyed the crossbody that Orton did off the top onto Cena who was on HHH’s shoulders. Orton tried to get a double hangman DDT to work but HHH and Cena folded like wet noodles on the way down. Later in the bout, HHH busted out a modified verison of an Indian deathlock, which JR says he hasn’t seen in years. Me either, pal. Orton was noticeably absent for the closing moments of the match where Cena and HHH were just tearing each other up. When I saw this live, I thought the finish was rather abrupt but after re-watching it I can see why I thought that, mainly because Orton had been missing and then just suddenly re-appeared to kick in HHH’s skull after he had just given Cena a Pedigree. The match was good and the action was pretty much non-stop … better viewing on the second time around though if you’re not ready for the quick fin.

Friday, April 3, 2009

'Mania Match of the Day #23

WrestleMania 23
The Undertaker vs. Batista - 5

I had very low expectations going into this bout, mainly because of Batista’s lack of skills and I was literally frightened by the fact they might just end Undertaker’s undefeated streak. However, the way everything came off in this match was a pleasant surprise. Once again, though, they messed with the crowd noise and changed the boos to cheers for Batista during his entrance. That kind of crap annoys the piss out of me. I digress, the action went to the outside fast where Batista whipped Taker into the steps so hard that he flipped over them. Taker rolls back in and Batista issues a shoulderblock off the top rope. Well damn, Big Dave, you’re actually trying new things, props to you! Taker hits a marvelous suicide dive for the first big spot of the match. Just about halfway through comes the only thing I remember from this match. Batista clears off the ECW announce table and the Raw announce table, grabs up Taker, and gives him a front powerslam through the ECW table off of the Raw table. That was pretty incredible. The spot is replayed a couple times as JBL talks in more soundbites on commentary. Back in the ring and Taker gets a nearfall off of a Last Ride. Batista tries a Batista-Bomb and gets a nearfall. Taker reverses a Batista Tombstone attempt into his own and scores the win. Wow, this match is nothing like I remember it being. I thought the nice tease of ending the streak with the Batitsa-Bomb was good but after Taker kicked out, it was pretty obvious he was going to win. The first part seemed like just one giant build-up to a big spot. It exceeded my expectations, but not by much.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

'Mania Match of the Day #22

WrestleMania 22
Mick Foley vs. Edge - Hardcore Rules Match - 5

I thought this match was incredible when I saw it live on pay-per-view but it’s not as great as I remember it. Foley was taking some violent shots to the head early on with some cookie sheets and a road sign. I forgot to mention that Joey Styles is doing guest commentary on this match, which always makes me happy. Edge spears Foley and blades his arm because Foley has barbed wire wrapped around him. Umm, ok. Foley gets a barbed wire bat from under the top half of the ring steps. Why was that there? Lita jumps on Foley’s back to prevent him from doing any damage to Edge but the Cactus clothesline takes place anyway and Lita takes a seriously rough bump. Nice tease of a table spot and Edge douses Foley in lighter fluid. It should be noted that later on in the bout, Edge pulls out a bag of tacks from the same spot Foley got the barbed wire bat from. Let’s try to look at this logically, if you were setting up the ring, and you noticed that there was a barbed wire bat and a bag of thumbtacks under the steps, wouldn’t you start to get a little curious? It makes no sense for them to be there. Under the ring with the other weapons? Yes. Under the steps? No. Anyway, later in the bout Foley whacks Edge in the mid-section with said barbed wire bat. Ok, time out. Let’s be honest, if you were hit in the gut with a barbed wire bat, wouldn’t you be cut and bleeding? Well, this isn’t the case for Edge as he takes these shots and doesn’t loose an ounce of blood from the mid-section. The finish sees Lita finish dousing a table in lighter fluid and lights it on fire for the big climax of the match as Edge spears Foley off the apron throught the table and pins him. Edge’s post-match selling was tremendous as he was literally shaking from the violence that had ensued. I enjoyed the hardcore chaos but the flaws in logic hurt the score for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Abismo Negro vs. Black Abyss - (AAA 3/21/09) - 3

So, Abismo Negro is found, facedown in a muddy riverbank dead, and it felt appropriate to honor his legacy by reviewing one of his very final matches. Maybe a better idea in theory, as after watching this, I’m thinking asphyxiation sounds pretty fun comparably.

In the history of wrestling, there have been many great “clone” feuds, my personal favorite being the Patriot vs. Dark Patriot that played out in GWF, but lest we forget other such notables as Undertaker vs. “Underfaker”, and, well, Kane vs. “Fake Kane”. Black Abyss is essentially you’re “bizarro” Abismo, jockeying his look, move-set, but hopefully not his cocaine habit.

The match goes eight minutes, with the ref working heel, giving Abismo slow counts on pinfalls, but not much was noteworthy outside of that story cog, well, I did get a smirk after an Abismo tope when a kid in the front row tried to stuff his denim ballcap onto Negro’s head which already sports a comically large mask. Very surreal post-match, too, as after pinning Abismo with Negro’s own trademark finishing “Tombstone Piledriver” (one of the most feared moves in Mexico) move, Black Abyss then uses an aerosol can and lighter to literally roast Negro’s carcass into a charred slab of meat similar to the carnitas (pork) he’d use to stuff tacos with later.

'Mania Match of the Day #21

WrestleMania 21
Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - 7

I remember watching this particular show at my friend Todd’s apartment with his sister and her boyfriend at the time. Shawn working the mat early on was really good, especially with him dusting off the short-arm scissors. When was the last time someone used that move? The exact moment J.R. talks about how great Shawn is on the mat, the two combatants have to be broken up in the corner. Shawn goes to the outside and tears apart the SmackDown announce table but Angle grabs him and bends him backward on the ringpost. Thus far, everything has been decent but the only thing that’s really been bugging me is the audio. It sounds like they got the audio tracks switched or something because the audience is louder than the commentators. Also, the referee is starting to get on my nerves. The key thing for a referee is to blend it seamlessly with the action, something this referee fails at. Everytime Shawn would chop Kurt, he would do some sort of weird signal, and anytime Shawn was in the ankle lock and didn’t submit, he would give the “safe” sign in baseball. Referee distractions aside, there were two giant spots in the middle of the match. First, was when Shawn damn near slipped off the top rope on a cross-body attempt to the outside and accidentally kneed Kurt in the face. Moments later came the second one where Michaels did a springboard off the second rope and crashed onto Kurt, who was sprawled out on top of the SmackDown table. Every time Michaels went for the superkick, Angle would catch it and reverse it into the ankle lock. Shawn finally hit a superkick for a close near-fall and Kurt did a giant belly flop off the top turnbuckle when Shawn moved on a moonsault attempt. Shawn’s facials toward the end of the match were terrific, especially when he was locked in the ankle lock. Kurt’s over-the-top “intensity” seemed a bit forced at times and there was a ridiculous spot where he pulled up the straps on his singlet only to take them back off. Why was that necessary? Kurt was dominant for the majority of the match, except when a high spot needed to be done. I would’ve liked to have seen Shawn have some more offense but I’ll take what I can get.