1) Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (WWF SummerSlam ’96, 8/18/96) – A: 4 J:5
A: I really can’t buy the fact that a headscissors and a hurracanrana from Shawn could take Vader down with such ease in the early going. Shawn jumped off the top at one point to deliver an elbow but just jumped down and then started yelling at Vader. Further proof of his unprofessionalism during this time. Vader’s offense was particularly nasty, just clubbing Shawn with hard blows. Shawn was way too close on the Vader moonsault. Wasn’t a fan of the two restarts as it made the match feel sloppy and disorganized.
J: No, you're right, it was really hard to swallow that part. Vader seemed to be relishing getting his ass whipped in the first little bit. That pissed me off, as he also stomped Vader really hard in the face. I'm guessing Vader saw his employment in Stamford flash before his eyes as he had to have wanted to kill Shawn. The whole first half was really dynamite, Vader does what he does best; one one end plays a nasty monster who brutalizes anyone he fights and on the other, he can make someone look like a world beater when he wants to. His powerbombs were weak sauce too, yeah those restarts reeked of backstage politics.
2) Too Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu (ECW Cyberslam ’96, 2/17/96) – A:7 J:7
J: Sabu took some crazy risks in the first ten minutes or so. The springboard senton into the crowd was pretty ballsy. He looked good here, probably the best I’ve seen him look in a long time, especially after the toilet bug that was his late ’10 TNA run. Scorpio’s kicks and strikes were superb, just connecting stiff with everything. Good selling by Scorp but the main problem I have with Sabu is that unless he’s legit hurt, he only sells for a bit then moves right on to the next spot. Late match moonsault to the outside by Sabu resulted in him cracking his shins against the railing. Wild dive by Sabu into the crowd and through a table. Great nearfalls from the middle of the bout right up through the very end.
A: Really awesome ECW match, Sabu for some reason seemed to gel with Scorpio like no other, as even the most improbable stuff Sabu tried worked out really well. I really dug the intricate spots they pulled off, mixed in some wear down stuff with holds and locks, and still had the death defying stunts. As much as I like Sabu, I have to agree with you on his selling Jess. The whole run to the end with both men trying damn near everything to win made so much sense, as did the finish.
3) Kofi Kingston vs. Christian (WWE Smackdown, 5/14/10) – A: 6 J:5
A: A forgotten gem from this past spring on Smackdown. Both guys busted their ass and Christian, who I’ve been down on for a while due to him suffering from “repetitive match syndrome”, made me rethink that point. I liked the elbow he hit Kofi with early on and the pinfall reversal sequences were really smooth. Kofi really got some good air on a couple moves. I still don’t know what that standing-whirly-pinning move that he does is call but I really dig it. Not sure why Christian insisted on clapping at one point instead of going for a cover.
J: Remember seeing this match when it aired and really liking it. They did work hard, funny when Christian got his lip split open as I'd consider Kofi one of the least stiff guys in the company. Most stuff was smooth but I noticed some of that "waiting in line for the bus" kind of stares as guys are waiting to hit moves and be hit by them. No feeling out process either. I'm more a fan of Christian's flying lifter. I think it's called "Standing-Whirly-Pinning move" but I could be wrong, haha. The slow clap? I think he thought he was in a John Huges film; Kofi's finishing kick looked sick from one angle then the other one it looked like it missed.
4) Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera (WWF In Your House: No Way Out, 2/15/98) – A:5 J:6
J: How good would a Taka run in CMLL be? Pantera runs this match nearly flawlessly, hitting all his high spots as clean as you could hope in any Lucha style match and Taka has all the right instincts to go with them perfectly. The backwards headscissors off the apron followed by a suicide dive through the ring post was an oil painting of beauty. Ending sequence had a great nearfall that pushed an extra sequence into this that secured it's recommended status. I get a kick out of Ross bringing up Lawler and Christopher's similarities, but damn those were some ugly genes in that family.
A: Have to agree that this was a pretty good bout but the fact that Brian Christopher and Jerry Lawler kept burying everything on commentary ruined it for me. Pantera’s high-risk stuff was really nice, especially the suicide dive and the aforementioned headscissors. Taka selling the back while attempting a Michinoku Driver late in the bout was a nice touch.
5) Lita vs. Trish Stratus (WWE Raw, 12/6/04) – A: 5 J:6
A: Trish sporting a nose guard here. Lita almost broke her neck, literally, on a suicide dive. I forgot how awesome Trish was at selling. The superplex spot was awesome. Some really good nearfall spots off of counters. This completely blew away any WWE divas match of the past 3 years, and it was only about seven minutes. This was Lita before she could barely wrestle. Here she showed energy and vigor. Trish stood out due to her heel tactics (hitting Lita with the nose guard) and her intelligence of working the neck.
J:That suicide dive has been stuck in my memory for years. I really don't know how she didn't snap her spine. They showed the replay like 5 times. I would agree, the superplex, the near falls near the end, but what makes all that great is Trish; she of all the women divas knew how to elongate a match and at the same time elongate a dude's joystick. She was great at pacing, and building a match up with someone who could keep up. I disagree there; Lita had already been in the business 8 or 9 years, this was near the end of her career. Yes Trish as a heel worked better than Austin as a heel in his last attempt.
6) Sabu vs. Rob Van Dam (ECW Guilty as Charged ’00, 1/9/00) – A: 5 J:5
J: These two have fought many, many times, and while I can't say this was worth finding and watching, it still was a fun 15 minutes. Sabu was his usual self, moving from one garbage spot to the next, to his own detriment. Doing a splash on a table that's propped in the corner of a guard rail is as smart as taking a road trip while on Tylenol PM. I'd say more of Van Dam's stuff come off than Sabu's especially when he jumps backwards from the 2nd rope to hit the split leg moonsault, that was impressive. Lot of errant chair shots that were sloppier than ordering a Double Whopper sandwhich. Fonzie was involved too much too.
A: This was one of Sabu’s last ECW appearances. These two have had some good matches in the past but this was defenitely not one of them. Sabu seemed as if he just was out there to collect a check while doing sloppy spots and injuring himself. RVD held this together as best he could. Why was there a ref bump in a match that has no rules? Why was Bill Alfonso randomly in the ring at one point during the match? These questions and more were left unanswered, probably for the better actually. And yes, having choked down a few Double Whoppers in my time, those are very sloppy and a bitch to handle.
7) Steel Cage Match: Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga (WWE Raw, 1/7/08) – A: 5 J:6
A: I never was a fan of Jeff Hardy’s singles run. I think his offense is pretty much awful and looks sloppy. Hardy took some wild bumps including getting thrown into the cage and landing on his neck. His selling was great too. Randy Orton was at ringside for the match and just randomly starting throwing chairs in the cage in the middle of the match. Ok? Umaga just seemed kind of bland to me here, not doing anything to make himself stand out. Props to Hardy for the wild “Whisper in the Wind” move off the top of the cage. Doing it blindly takes balls. Jumping off very tall objects every match takes stupidity.
J: Seriously? I do remember you saying that before. I dug the hell out of Jeff's singles run, it's like he really found himself as a singles worker. I thought he was on defense here way more than he normally would be; usually he's all over the place but since he was getting the huge babyface push, he had to take a huge beating. Ithought Orton's contributions were numerous to this bout, from telling Jeff he was about to get "squashed" in the corner to his wild eyes when Jeff made a comeback; not to mention his replaying of Terry Gordy from Christmas Night 1982 with the cage door. Ditto on Umaga, guy had a okay move set, but he could really be plain in a match, as he was largely here. Oh yeah that's a highlight reel staple and was very nuts to even attempt. I'd love to find the after match footage of Jeff's celebration that night; would make Limp Bizkit's old concert footage of groupies look like a Parent-Teacher conference.
8) Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero (WCW Halloween Havoc ’97, 10/26/97) – A: 6 J:7
J: I've already reviewed this match several times and seen it several more than that. Again, it's only 13 minutes so I checked it out again. For a 13 minute match, they packed more into it than most could. Rey's high flying is at an all time high as he tries things he'd never before attempted before or since. Eddie, in all his drug fueled rage, was a nasty heel here and him trying to rip Rey's mask off is a nice piece of business. Def. see this if you haven't before, but after 7 vieweings, anything will wear on you.
A: A lot of people pimp this match as one of the greatest matches in WCW history. I say, yes, it was good but I can think of a number of other WCW matches that were equal to or better than this. Eddie was such a great heel here. Just his mannerisms exerted an air of cockiness. I really dug the finish with Mysterio reversing the splash mountain bomb into a nice hurracanrana. Like Jessie, I too have seen this match multiple times over the years. Fun bout if you’ve never seen it (truth be told, Halloween Havoc ’97 is a great event in its own right). So check it out for a fun way to kill about 13 minutes.
* Juventud Guerrera vs. Billy Kidman (WCW World War 3 ’98, 11/22/98) – A: 5 J:8
A: Juvi’s headscissors off the apron from the top rope was pretty nuts. I liked Kidman’s dropkick catching Juvi in mid-air as well. Juvi nearly messed up on a dual springboard from ring-to-ring. I thought Kidman selling was decent but emotionless. Juvi seemed like he may have just have been going from move to move. Kidman’s offense was good. The use of all three rings gave the match a unique feel.
J: I really have to speak up here, you way undersold this match and I am surprised this didn't get a recommended grade from you. Just as Brian wrote about Ultimo v. Rey a few months ago, this is a piece of treasure from the Cruiserweight division stuff that is golden. Yeah, awesome and balls out headscissors off the apron by Juvi. Kidman giving homage to Brian Pillman was choice. Some of Kidman's selling was off, yes, but Juvi's was superb, not getting that 3 count really late in the match that angers him enough to slap the referee? stellar and kudos to Schiavone for instantly saying Juvi will get $5,000 fine for his actions, putting some realism into this carny business. I was totally digging them going to all 3 rings, not everything was a sure fire hit but the effort was there. Every reversal was smooth as cocoa butter and the whole ending sequence had some great ups and downs with all the aerial stuff being done at an expert level, which I think people take for granted; just because you've seen 1,000 shooting Star presses now doesn't make any single one of them less impressive if done correctly and in the right context. Loved this match, def. check it out if you want to wax nostalgic for possibly the greatest collection of matches in American wrestling in any decade, WCW's cruiserweight division (before Russo took over)