This originally started as a draft of one match, but since i've been watching a bunch of stuff lately, i figured why not write about a half dozen or so
1) Briscoe Brothers v. Kings of Wrestling (No DQ)_ ROH Death Before Dishonor VIII- 9
Granted i've not seen everything from last year, but i've seen quite a lot. This was my favorite match I'd seen by far. Let me gush like a proud parent for a little bit about it.
I saw this match about 3 weeks ago and fucking fell in love. The overall crux of this is 50% story, 50% violence. The four of these guys, when I saw them for the first time, seemed pretty terrible. But, at this point, I would say they're easily carrying the bulk of the ROH ship to smoother waters. If you watch this match and feel the NWA permeating from your screen (sorry, National Wrestling Alliance, not Niggas with Attitudes) you're feeling what I did. Hero does his shcmozy mic work to start, really heeling it up, pointing out the fact they beat up the Briscoes dad when the rednecks themselves charge down and put a whipping on the champs. At one point or another everyone in this match gets blood, and not just a trickle but a gory face mask of oozing plasma that shoots the drama quotient to the roof. But just because a dude's bleeding doens't make a match. It always has to be there to enhance the story you're telling. If you blood for blood's sake (see JBL v. Big Show Barb wire cage, actually don't- it blows) it's worthless.
There's little to no dead points in this match, it's a fight for your life. Mark takes a huge beating during the stretch into the final act as Jay has been tied by the neck to the ringpost like he was a traitor to Pompei's Roman empire. Near falls are key too. They're done to perfection here, honestly. Everyone's so beaten and bloodied, every time a big move goes down you think that's it. Never has a fire extinguisher been used so right as Jay's "fiery" babyface comeback. Hagadorn gets his for some extra 80's flavor and don't forget the loaded elbow pad near fall which, at least to me, supercedes the HHH tombstone at Mania this year (don't get me wrong, I said that was one of the greatest nearfalls in Mania history, under the Taker reaction after Shawn kicks from the Tomstone at WM25.)
You know what really stoked my engines about this match? It's one of the rare times you can watch ROH and not feel like you're watching the same old ROH you've seen for years. Hero didn't have to do 100 elbow smashes for fanboy pops, Briscoes didn't go through their entire move set and every other team out there to pull the fans in for near falls. They worked a simple formula with a few added twists and it fucking blew my mind. I can't rave enough about this and while I love this match, a 10 still seems too far away even though I wouldn't begrudge someone. Geo reviewed this last year and gave it an "8" and there's not often a score that high is an undersell but I think it was. Go check this match out, and become a better wrestling fan and person for it.
2) Genichiro Tenryu v. Shinya Hashimoto (WAR )- 7
WAR was about 2 things: great juniors wrestling and Tenryu bringing in huge names to do battle with and overcome them. Here we have the baddest hombre in all of Puro, Hash stepping in to take the challenge. Love the staredown at the beginning, as chilling as that Taker-Nailz WWF magazine cover i had as a kid; just jesting, this stuff was legit. Lots of feeling out and then Hash unleashes- like the new Red, White & Blue Kool-Aid (tried it out Brian, great stuff) There's a ton of leg locks here that I didn't necessarily feel Hash wanted to do, more like a Tenryu request, like when he asks his wife to dress like Jem (80's cartoon) during intercourse. His kicks are bone shattering though and Tenryu starts to try to avoid them as the match goes on. Some great skin folding powerbombs are sprinkeled throughout the ending parts for flavor. All in all, this was a really fun match, can't call it great because I didn't honestly feel Tenryu should have won with the buildup but it's his fed, his money, his hoes, his boys, his locker room, his towel, his ring, his ropes, his fro, his yellow boots and his cock that made WAR the force it was.
3) Talia Madison v. Lollipop (BMD 481)- 3
This is an oddity. Talia is Velvet Sky pre-Velvet Sky. This is shot in a well lit small building with a legit AWA ring setup. Verne (and Greg, for that matter) would soil themselves if they knew these scantily clad babes were down for action in their old ring. There's no audience, this is almost like a strange tryout/voyerism for the few camera dudes watching. Velvet is wearing a two piece blue and red tight outfit with the Superman logo strategically placed on her cleavage and her love button. The match itself, is all basic holds and locks, with some reversals and rollups. Very little physical stuff takes place, which sets it apart. The most fun aspect of it is the shit talking that takes place. Since there's no crowd, you can hear everything they say and hear all the vocal selling. Velvet is queen of this and I gained more respect for that part of her professionalism. She uses her high pitch bitchy voice to convey her pain and annoyance on every move. Plus she really slings the mud at her opponent. This is part of an hour long Highspots tape featuring 5 matches all like this. If you see it on a forum, shill out a few bucks but no more than that.
4) Frankie Edgar v. BJ Penn- (UFC 118- Edgar v. Penn II)- 5
With having a family and our crazy work schedule, I don't get to see every MMA show; try to with downloads but even them some get lost in the shuffle. This card was one of them. It wasn't the strongest event but still enjoyable. The much malinged BJ was steaming after letting his belt slip away in their first match and Frankie was even more amped up to prove it wasn't a fluke. Here we go (thanks Mike Goldberg)
This thing went all 5 rounds and with unanimous 50-45 scores across the board, that tells the whole story. Penn, who is one of the most talented guys in UFC, simply couldn't do a damn thing with Edgar. I'm sure it must have been frustrating, but Edgar has proved several times now his heart was transplanted from Rocky Balboa into this chest. Loved his combos of trying a takedown, failing or letting go and popping BJ in his Hawiian face. He did time and time again with success. Can't recommend this one even though if you're an Edgar fan, this is truly something to revel in, akin to Emma Stone's performance in Easy A; you'll see someone with talent having loads of fun and being confident in what they're doing.
5) Meng v. Sting (WCW Great American Bash 1995)- 4
remember these two having a kick ass match on a beach once. Wish that would have been the story here. Meng really laid his shit in, and was always throwing a little attack in, whether a judo thrust or a homeplate back kick. Sting just wasn't all there; never realized his cut in the 90's looked like he styled it with a handful of cum. At one point he sold a Tiger Bomb like he woke up with a migraine headache. The finish actually kicked this thing up a gear because it was totally out of nowhere and made me feel warm inside; the exact opposite of a Katherine Heigel romance film.
6) Miyamoto v. Shadow WX (Big Japan Moonlight & Lemons)- 7
This seemed to be the time tested tale of the young gun coming in and challening the aging, legendary gunslinger to saddle up and meet him at the OK Corral, except instead of saloons and taverns there'd be electric lights plugged in and barricades and instead of guns they'd use glass and lemon halves. I really thought Shadow would be a pile of mush here, as i'm used to seeing him but I actually think he's a much more enjoyable package nowadays when his youth is behind him. Gone are the heinous Karl Kani gear and in it's place we have a lariat that rivals the best in Puro and a void where a conscience used to be. Big Japan is so crazy nowadays; not only do they still push the level of violence and weaponry but now there executing King's road matches combined with the craziest high flying stuff all in one huge career shortening packages and all for less money, less fans and less fame. They say staying home on a Friday night is lame; but i say if you can witness one man doing a backflip onto another man with a bundle of illuminated halogen bulbs on his stomach, it was worth it. The lemons are a nasty touch; visually the amount of juice flowing onto Shadow's cut early on looks like Miyamoto's squashing a dying animal of it's lifeblood onto his cut. The lighting is a major issue, as parts of this are in darkness because well....they broke all the lighting over each other and under each other. I'm still straining my tired eyes to try and see what's happening though so they've got me. Why would you ever lariat a huge light fixture? Good heavens this is insanely stiff. My score may seem high because as the match progresses you do miss a few spots. But once the lights come up, it looks like both men are laying wounded from schrapnel.
7) Barbarian v. Kendo Nagasaki (SWS 10/30/91)- 4
This was a strange matchup of mongrel villains from the 80's. Barbarian was dressed like a Nordic warrior but looked more like someone's concubine the way Kendo treated him. There's a really fun crowd brawl that felt right out of Big Japan back in the day, with Kendo doleing out chair shots like stocking stuffers at the Tenryu Christmas party. Barbarian pulled through though, the end sort of slowed down and the wrapping top rope lariat was an interesting fin.
8) The Miz/ John Morrison v. Kane / Undertaker (ECW 04/15/08)- 4
Real interesting matchup here, this went about 8 minutes. Kane impressed me, doing some really visual selling, not quite on par with Christian Bale as Dicky Ecklund but on the right path. Morrison's counter to Taker's apron legdrop added a surprised element to the this match it was missing. Miz still looked a little green, like I feel after seeing a Joe Rogan standup set. But Morrison was killing himself for anything those guys did to him.
9) Gorgeous George v. Frankie Talliber (AWA 1951)- 3
So i've wanted to see this legend compete for some time; you can tell he's the first guy in history of this business that knew how to entertain and leaved and breathed his character. He's that guy as soon as he appears and the crowd, ref, opponent and most assuredly the announcers are all buying into it. George is a bumper too- fuck all that indy shit we get now. I'd be a content man to watch a 6 hour comp of his best. Talliber is a barrel chested red blooded American who probaby idolizes John Wayne and never eats vegetables. George's crazy headlock whipovers win him this one and they looked crazy/ only complaint about finish is the lag in time to cover and Talliber's awful acting during it.
10) Necro Butcher/ Kintaro Kanemura v. Mr. Pogo/ Shadow WX (Big Japan 09/22/02)- 3
This is from the Best of Necro in Japan, and after seeing a couple singles against Taguchi & Kanemura, I think i picked the worst of the bunch. Pogo is one step away from being Baba; he can barely move, looks older than Maury Shaffer and can barely move. But he still bludgeons Necro with a sword and a power impact drill. Remember that famous I Love Lucy scene of her crushing grapes with her bare feet? Necro looks like he did it with his head, somehow. He's grotesque. Kanemura looks like the worst player the Tennesse Volunteers ever drafted in his orange garb. Lots of clotheslines and boots and not much else.
11) SHINGO/ YAMATO v. BxB Hulk/ Masato Yoshino (Dragon Gate Summer Adventure Tag league 3 08/02/09)- 6
Dragon Gate, at least in my head, is a very polarizing promotion; they're uniqueness has been their blessing and curse. When Toryumon first came on the scene, it blew the doors off of Juniors wrestling, esp, in Japan but everywhere. Once Dragon Gate invaded ROH it opened the eyes of hardcore fans across the globe. But it became rote at some point and stale. This match thought assauged those fears by featuring 4 of their top guys in a hard hitting match with nearfalls galore and some stellar work. You're saying, that sounds like most Dragon Gate output, but no, it's not. I so dig YAMATO, he was born in the wrong decade;should have been an 80's heel. His smugness, throws great elbows and knows when and how to reel it in moreso than any of his other counterparts here. SHINGO actually showing his selling off like a proud papa showing his kid's baseball trophy at a dinner party. Nothing went into overkill in the build to the finish where all the finishes came out and some were downright devastating, like a Transformer battle just plowed through your local neighborhood. Finish, love it or hate it, they did the best they could with those cards.
11) Wrath v. Damian (WCW Thunder 04/08/99)- 3
This was a weird bout- Wrath didn't quite seem to know what he wanted to do with Damian from one minute to the next. All his moves hit hard but the lag in between felt like if you watched a movie and every actor paused for 15 secondsd between sentences. Damian did get a few spurts of offense, but nothing incredibly substantial.
12) John Cena v. Chris Jericho (WWE Summerslam 2005)- 7
For some fun, go back and watch this show; sorry, was under the impression you're idea of fun was achieving blueballs and then cutting them off. Lots of really great matchups and all materialized into water vapor. But this was the golden egg from the show, not the botchfest Eddie & Rey's ladder match was, or the short badly booked Edge-Hardy fight, and esp. not the flaccid, overblown Michaels-Hogan main. Jericho was nearly done with the company, so had nothing to lose here and worked as if still employed by WAR. He abused Cena from bell to bell with hard slaps, kicks and strikes at every chance. Cena even here sold his ass off, especially in different torutring submission holds. The counter wrestling stuff near the end which is now Cena's bread and butter came off really great.
13) Dan Henderson v. Fedor Emelinaneko (Strikeforce: Fedor v. Henderson)- 7
God damn, this didn't have the longevity of the Liddell v. Wanderlei fight several years ago but was every bit as dramatic and deadly. Both guys have been in the sport for a decade plus, accomplished many things and are bonafide MMA legends, but for them to turn it out and go for broke from the get go shows you they still have the passion. Henderson's finish was so fucking brilliant and devastating. I enjoyed this one rounder (Strikeforce's new main event style) as much or more than any MMA fight this year.