Well let me get this started off, recently posted a New BMD review on the blog full of interesting matches I watched piecemeal from a variety of different discs, so I won't go into those but will talk about the other stuff I caught this weekend. Finished last match on the now ancient WWE Cage Match dvd, Edge v. Kurt Angle. It was quite exciting, Edge kind of sold like an PWG midcarder, which is to say he didn't sell facially much at all, but Angle was killing himself. Two giant bumps off the top rope in particular, the backwards flip he did off a super backdrop was just nuts. Some Hogan interference really watered down the ending though.
I've found my love for Dragon Gate again! Watching Open the Compilation Gate 2010 and the fast paced action and different characters had me enjoying this promotion as if I was watching with "New Eyes." I think the reason is I was not only seeing top dogs like Hulk & Shingo but also some lower guys like KAGETORA and Kzy and it gives you a well rounded perspective of the matches and builds accordingly. Caught a six man featuring Akebono one one side and Abdullah the Butcher on the other. He was fun for novelty, but, and this will sound terrible, at points his massive mammories parting behind his back as if he was going to wear them like a sweater around the hips from the 80's was quite distracting. He couldn't do much but sold his hesitation against facing Akebono really well and I have to say, despite the hideous Orange tights, thought Ake looked very competent and comfortable in his role and pulled off some nice moves.
TNA iMPACT! was really good this week. My favorite match was Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy. A first-ever meeting, went to a time-limit draw, and they packed a lot into it while it lasted. It was the best possible version of Lashley vs. Cena from GAB. Joe's viscousness came out and Hardy's fiery babyface comebacks are still some of the best in the industry. The STF on Hardy had some of the best facial storytelling I've seen on TV in months, Joe wrenching back, and then Hardy, whose eyes were bugging out of his head like he was in an electric chair. Also, the Beer Money, Inc. vs. Motor City Machine Guns street fight was awesome. Those two teams are quietly having the best feud in America. The PPV match was great, last week's ladder match was spectacular (and slightly better than this match), but this was still a lot of fun. I dug the running spots on the long ramp, very reminiscent of NJPW. Shelley sold getting a beer bottle broken over his head like I imagine the first person seeing Uncle Fester making a lightbulb glow in his mouth must have looked. Angle vs. Hernandez was good, it was Kurt's formula, which he can plug just about anybody into, but I love his intensity, and Hernandez looked better than normal here, I especially liked him showing some cockiness in subtle facials/body language, and the top rope belly-to-belly was out of this world. Lastly, the ECW in-ring reunion circle jerk was stupid. It felt like a bunch of self-aggrandizing, whimpering pussies and not the hardcore elite. What's so extreme about Tommy Dreamer's tears?
Last night when my baby Owen woke up I turned on some of the DVDVR Best of the '80's Mid-South/UWF set. Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum T.A. vs. Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart - Cage Match (12/25/83) was a great eye-opener at 5:30AM. Butch has been the big revelation of the set so far, it's a shame McMahon never utilized him properly. Magnum is a terrific sympathetic babyface, the heels keep dumping him to the floor and against the cage and he keeps spatting on the same spot of concrete floor again and again withering in pain. The hot tag is molten, Mr. Wrestling comes in and starts cleaning house. I also need to mention Mr. Wrestling's performance in the set's next match (w/ Magnum again vs. Midnight Express - 2/10/84) as he has the craziest body language, doing these short little jigs and disco-like rhythmic shuffles while owning the MX boys. Condrey and Eaton are fabulous at being stooges in it.
I'm off to watch the recent episodes of Superstars, SmackDown!, and Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors. If anything soaks my shorts I'll toss out some more comments.
Awesome, keep those Mid South Musings coming, love to hear about that great unearthed set. The things I've seen are quite random, but will relay them anyways
BMD goodness (as they keep on rolling towards that 500 disc milestone) with a 4 team DDT featuring Kenny Omega & an American couch potato as well as Taka & Togo as Italian Mobsters, was fun while it lasted and the eliminations all came at key points in the match when it would break down. The babyface hometown team kept the spirit alive as this match was not long on over kill nor great tag action but was satisfactory enough.
Is Ikuto Hidaka getting better with age, Sub Question: Has his body survived the years of Ishikawa armlocks and planchas into the crowd enough to where he's still a viable puro king? Time will tell but i'm betting on yes (this sounds like a JR blog post.) He impressed me here while working a completely different style than he's known for from years of Battlarts action, with some quickness and stiffness that felt very Rey Mysterio-ish. His opponent, perennial Z1 star Kohei Sato was a puny mess of an athlete, a starved lycan almost, who just brushed through a typical power wrestler offense as Hidaka kind of built this fun match around him, sort of like he was trying to make a breakthrough beating this big superstar but he wrestled circles around Sato but of course still lost. Would like to see more current Hidaka.
Quiet Storm, you're still around? He looks like the worst possible Chris Walker there could be. He's jacked tot he gills with such a short frame and his movement is lethargic. He's wrestling a guy named Psycho (creativity just spilling out of this guy) who is a Japanese Rat Fink. He does a Backcracker and a moonsault outside within 4 minutes so he's even worse than I thought. Neither guy looked particularly seasoned at all even though at this stage in the game, Storm's been around a good 7 years but I'm guessing "the gas" has numbed his skull permanently.
Dipping back into the extras of the DVDVR Texas 80's set (which did I mention is the greatest thing I"ve ever received in the post; sorry Aziz Ansari comedy special from Netflix) and saw King Kong Bundy v. Harley Race which was quite amazing. Bundy sold as well if not better than most of his Stamford contemporaries in this match alone and I think it was that very Vader like quality (where he could just as easily dominate someone as sell big for them) that worked so well against a guy like Hogan as it did here. Race almost seemed to be trying to out sell him, especially after his shoulder ram into the post that really felt like a drunk Hell's Angel member did that to him at a honkytonk in '72 after a long drunken argument over where the best cigars are from, geographically. Really hokey finish (as we were forewarned from the people who put this set together) but everything in between was well done, didn't quite have a title match feel, there was no near fall stuff or clear face/heel structure but still I liked the individual performances better than the whole.
I dig hearing that those BMD discs are getting their well-deserved love. Jessie, if you're digging on Hidaka, you need to check out the EVOLVE 2 disc I passed your way, he headlines with Hero and they work this really slow-paced, methodical mat-based burner that goes maybe 40 min. and has some nice strikes and psychology to boot. I watched Raw and NXT but not going to waste any more time on them than I already reluctantly did. I've mostly been on a movie kick (averaging two per day this week with Being There currently being the standout) mostly but did spin ROH Aries vs. Richards (11/13/09). Overall, a pretty run-of-the-mill, low-end '09 ROH show, complete with requisite filler and lousy crowd. My favorite match was Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kenny Omega, a real nice meshing of contemporary, hard-hitting Japanese juniors style with high-flying, fast-paced recklessness. Young Bucks vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico, I've seen this bout about a half-dozen times in ROH so far, this being one of the better offerings, but for whatever reason the Young Bucks never really took off or connected with audiences in ROH like they did elsewhere so it felt largely soulless. Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero, again, hate to sound like a broken record (just dusted off my vinyl of The Fat Boys' Coming Back Hard Again the other night) here but this paled in comparison to their work together in PWG. Other random notes, Tyler Black looked like shit against Claudio Castagnoli, making a somersault to the floor look like a paraplegic trying gymnastics, The House of Truth need rehab, Delirious and Colt Cabana are an awful idea for a tag team (unfortunately each guys' annoyance doesn't cancel the others' out), and The Super Smash Bros. said stay in Chikara (or the local arcade). Lastly, the main the show is titled after, Aries vs. Richards, went 50 min. and ranged from mildly mediocre to groundbreaking greatness. I think I liked it more than the heavily touted Danielson vs. Richards from Boston, but still felt too padded, and Richards, save for his intensity and willingness to hurt himself and others, is really a pretty shitty performer.
Last week's SmackDown was one of my favorites in recent memory. To start off the night with such a spectacular match as Drew McIntyre vs. Christian is really setting a standard. This match was a hell of a lot of fun. I think my favorite thing about this bout was Christian moving out of his (what we've come to call) 'copy&paste' zone. A lot of great shoulderwork in the match, especially Drew dropping Christian on his shoulder on the ring steps. Really fun and intense matchup. Ziggler vs. Kofi was a great match as well. Great in ring, but the best part came when Kofi kept attacking Dolph -- he looked like a crazed lunatic. I really liked Swagger/Mysterio NODQ as well. Moving the action outside to the slippery Gulf was a really unique move and I loved Swagger basically jumping into the water after the rana by Mysterio. Regarding TNA, the one match that really sticks with me is the MCMGs vs. Beer Money cage match. Roode was bleeding everywhere and MCMG were pulling out all the stops. I really hope everyone got to see this match, and the rest that these two teams have done with each other -- really fun stuff. I also watched the 2010 IWA-DS Carnage Cup -- seedy southern deathmatch at it's finest.
So, just finished the 8/6/10 WWE Superstars, out of the 30+ episodes this year, I'd say this would rank in the lower-third. Layla vs. Tiffany, skip it, save for the Indian deathlock-into-a-cover Layla whipped out to my dismay. Some community college level bad hammy acting in this one. The Dude Busters vs. Vance Archer/Curt Hawkins was like a C-level version of KroniK vs. The Perfect Event from '00 Thunder. Lastly, Evan Bourne vs. Zach Ryder was like an B+-level version of Steve Bradley vs. Ace Darling (I know someone's got to have the '99 ECWA Super 8 tournament handy--pop that sucker in for a rewatch, you won't regret it). Ryder did maniacal better laying on the mat doing a headlock than Spacey did in all of Superman Returns. Ryder's "face wash" is a long way from Kanemoto's, but not far behind Samoa Joe's. Zach sold the "Shooting Star Press" like a stoner coughing on Cheetos dust.
I also finished ROH Boiling Point (11/7/09) today. A lot of it sucked: Dutt is awful, I'm sick of tags involving Necro and Joey Ryan, a six-man tag with Grizzly Redwood went broadway, a random Tony Kozina vs. Bobby Dempsey match shows up on the second-half, etc. I did see my favorite ROH match I've watched in maybe a half-year, though; Delirious vs. Roderick Strong was really, really good. It went almost 25 min. but avoided a lot of the independent pitfalls. It was just good, back-and-forth wrestling, nice nearfalls, exchanges, crowd pops, etc. I was surprised at how shockingly watchable it was considering I'd generally rather watch a real lizard wrestling than Delirious. Main event was a deplorable yawner involving Steen/Generico vs. Hero/Richards that looked like four buddies just going through the motions, I didn't buy into any of the "conflict" or "storytelling", it was just a smattering of stagey bumping and faux-violence amid the backdrop of disillusionment in the Jersery crowd.