Sunday, June 12, 2022

WWE Monday Night Raw 4/12/04

1. Kane vs. Grandmaster Sexay - 2
2. The Masked Ninja vs. Tajiri - 1
3. Lita vs. Trish Stratus - 3
4. The Hurricane vs. Sylvain Grenier - 2
5. Evolution (Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Oton, and Batista) vs. Chris Benoit, Mick Foley, Shelton Benjamin, and Shawn Michaels - 4

Sexay was announced as making his return after a 2.5 year absence. Kane has made some horrid comments in the media this week downplaying gun violence in America on the heels of the Uvalde school massacre -- so fuck him. Grandmaster puts his goggles on a kids' face a la Bret Hart. Wonder if he kept them over the years and now they take up the right corner of his sock drawer. Basic squash to give Kane some momentum heading into whatever tedious feud he'd be booked into next. Jonathan Coachmen brings out a masked ninja portrayed under the costume shop outfit by Al Snow's hockey jersey collection. Some real mistimed strike exchanges. Ninja's kicks are Bischoff-level strip mall dojo quality. What agent thought it was a good idea to give Ninja 80% of the offense. Lita was to be a guest on Jericho's Highlight Reel but Stratus attacked her on the ramp which was then turned into an official bout. All kudos to Stratus who, we can now look back 20 years removed, was not just ahead of her peers at the time but one of the more complete women performers in the co. the last several decades. Bulk of action is a side headlock which Trish somehow keeps completely captivating by wrenching it and mugging. Dug Lita doing a monkey flip but keeping a hold of her opponent's hair to help her roll through to a top mount position to drop ground and pound. Gilbert Yvel take note. Bad fashion reigns from Trish's parachute pants to Christian who was at ringside wearing a shirt that looked like a Magic Eye picture. If you stop and stare at it closely, subtly crossing your eyes, it'll unlock an image of Gangrel holding a chalice and his pud. Non-finish brought it down as otherwise that was heading into recommended levels.

I'd like to say further study has proven Sylvain to be some under-appreciated lost super worker of the early aughts but that is not the case. I'd forgotten Helms' Green Lantern tattoo. I wonder if he was a fan of Ron Marz's run as head writer. Today's WWE product/content seems as assembly line as possibly ever with no rough edges -- but back in this era I was living within stone's throw of both OVW and HWA the farm league system for WWE, so had a lot of firsthand experience seeing guys who were being brought up to the big show or older talents not deemed needed for TV squandering last years of their in-ring career in-front of crowds of dozens (never forget Brian Adams aka Crush/The Demon walking in mid-show through fan entrance at an HWA show as a failed mega surprise appearance to a chorus of laughter). Other than one mean kneelift by Grenier and a silly finish involving Eugene's stuffed rabbit having its head ripped off this was utter dross. And now the reason I picked this random show, I woke up wanting to see a wild multi-man tag bout, and a cursory scroll through the 'net lead me to this listing, so here we are. Why didn't someone stop Flair at this point? Foley didn't even have to change when he arrived at the arena. Just "working" in black jeans and a Backlash t-shirt with a Wendy's chili stain. Crowd livens up for Benoit and Triple H squaring off. Shawn has worse hair of the whole bunch. The #1 movie in the country the week of this episode was Home on the Range and Flair's rubbery breasts look like udders. Michaels does a slingshot tumble over the top onto Evolution on the floor that looked on par with Papadon at a JAPW show. Give me Monsta Mack or Groot over Batista any day of the week. Fun to see Benoit and Flair trading chops and shots. Watching Shelton work the likes of T-Bar and Karrion Kross on WWE Main Event this past year he's looked so much slower, but back then he had crazy speed. Orton had taken crazy (amounts of) speed in the plane traveling to Chicago for this show. Overwritten choreographed vapid finishing stretch where all eight guys had to (attempt) to be in the right spot to make it all go off. Ultimately, Orton took the fall, then HBK and Benoit shared a moment together staring into each other's eyes as the show faded to black.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

ROH Defy or Deny

Here's a piece I abandoned a few weeks ago before I moved but wanted to share it in its inchoate state.


ROH Defy or Deny 3/18/11
Plymouth, MA

We didn't land on Plymouth, Mass -- it landed on .. oh, wrong oratory. Picked the most milquetoast ROH show from 2011 I could find. Just a mood.

Show starts with a Mike Bennett promo in-ring. Eventually everybody soured on his shtick but he had some charisma here, adds a little flourish of personality to the oft times flavorless ROH house show. Steve Corino comes out looking like a sixth grade kids' football coach, wearing ADIDAS track pants and gray cutoff shirt, his flabby arms looking like Gabourey Sidibe's dunked in non-dairy creamer. This shouldn’t have gone 12 minutes.

1. Mark Briscoe vs. Kyle O'Reilly - 4

Mark jerking curtain while his brother headlines. Kyle's gear looks like '93 Minnesota Timberwolves stuff. Maybe he's a Marlon Maxey fan. Nice missile dropkick off the apron by O'Reilly. Story of match was Briscoe "big brothering" him. This was almost 11 years ago now -- not the same KOR that regularly main events NXT shows nowadays, and Briscoe, who at 17 was wrestling at CZW shows, could now make the new young boy earn his keep. Finish was a powerbomb followed by the Froggy 'Bo.

2. All Night Express vs. Grizzly Redwood and Steve Corino - 5

Mix of shticks here. Seem to recall after a few years together ANX exceeded expectations and got pretty good. Alert the authorities: Corino threw a dropkick. Nice sequence of combo offense by ANX looked like a Streets of Rage combo melee. This almost had a bit of Southern tag charm which helped calcify it as fresh compared to the staid environment many Ring or Honor shows I attended often had.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CZW Eye For An Eye


1. Pre-Show: Tyler Veritas vs. ??? vs. ??? vs. Erik C. Jones vs. Ernest Montgomery O'Keefe vs. Jimmy Starz vs. Justin Andrews vs. Sexy Steve (Junior Heavyweight Scramble) - 2
2. Jon Dahmer vs. Toby Klein - 4

Opener had a lot of emotionless automaton action with the scattershot group wandering from spot to spot sans any emotion or belief. It was like they were being controlled from offsite like mechs. Suplex bump on the floor less than 60 seconds into the bout tells you all you need to know about the layout of this tepid trainwreck. I don't get Dahmer. He shares a name with an obese murderer but is dressed up looking like a fatter version of Jamie Kennedy in Malibu's Most Wanted here? I wrongly thought I was going to have snark on Klein a noted deathmatch worker doing a straight up match but I was actually pretty charmed by his performance. He tried a few ambitious things like a springboard back elbow and a 180 splash off the top that weren't flawlessly executed but that sort of made them .. better? Like if your hillbilly pockmarked uncle tried out CMLL spots inside his trailer home. Dahmer dropped Toby on his head a couple times nastily including the match-ending "Murder Plex".

3. Greg Excellent vs. Devon Moore - 3
4. Drew Blood vs. Pinkie Sanchez - 5

Devon Moore always looked like the guy smoking cigarettes behind the grocery store. I have a disconnect with Excellent. I get that his appeal is he's supposed to be an everyman, as if a slob got up off their Doritos crumbs' covered sofa, and stepped into the ring -- but watching him wallow in a faded t-shirt he likely woke up in makes buying into his matches facile to me. Not a lot to say, main takeaway was Moore kicked out of all of Greg's big stuff, but the stakes were low. So back in college I randomly reviewed a previous Blood vs. Sanchez bout. Since that past bout was from CZW's 10th Anniversary show I assumed they were probably given more leeway then, but I was wrong, as here they went "Full Tilt Boogie" to borrow a phrase from Terry Bollea. While this had some slop, they righted the balance by laying a lot of their offense in. They botched the same spot they blundered in their other match where Pinkie gets whipped into the guardrail but hops up, balances, then leaps back off to attempt a hurricanrana. Last act of the match is full of "holy shit!" moments: my favorites were Sanchez getting launched by a German suplex onto an opened chair in the corner of the ring, a truly horrendous running version of Takao Omori's Axe Guillotine Driver off the apron by Pinkie onto four opened chairs on the cement floor, and finally, a running powerslam/Michinoku Driver hybrid by Blood directly into the steel ring post outside the ring. I really wanted to gift this a "6" but the ending with a "fan" leading to a distraction finish took some of the wind out of my sails.

5. Egotistico Fantastico vs. Ryan McBride - 3

Break out the Carhartt gear because these boys are going to work! 😂 So this wasn't my cup of ginseng. McBride I struggle to see the appeal of. Guy in gear with a clipart cloverleaf, bad tribal tattoos that reek of casino MMA undercard, and working highspot style sans sizzle. Only spot of note was McBride splattering a chair outside the ring after a running somersault that Fantastico dodged. Appears match was legit ended prematurely after Ryan took a hellacious bump into the ringpost shoulder-first and was injured. Guess he should have swung by Mandalore on the way to the ECW Arena to get some beskar steel. Had a chuckle when they handed him the mic as he winced and shuffled to the back with the aid of staff and as he went to speak the DVD cut to the next segment. 

6. BLK-OUT (Sabian and Ruckus) vs. Alex Colon and LJ Cruz - 3
7. Team AnDrew (Andy Sumner and Drew Gulak) vs. The Best Around (Bruce Maxwell and TJ Cannon) - 2

Next match starts with the announcement Ruckus took a better payday to wrestle elsewhere that night then 3 seconds later he walks out anyway to zero reaction as Robby Mireno chortles they swerved everybody. LJ Cruz comes out solo and gets worked over for a few min. until Alex Colon joins him. Sabian points out to the cameraman a guy in the front row looks like Eddie Kingston. Crazy dumb spot where Cruz does this massive double ax-handle off the top to the floor but Sabian was already lying down so LJ busts his own knees falling from 9 ft. up onto concrete. Colon seemingly stole Super Nova's old trash bag Venom trunks. Poor execution on the finish where Sabian seemingly could have broken up the pinfall but fails to. It was supposed to be scripted discord but didn't translate. I've seen more than a half-dozen TBA matches before and they instantly vanish from memory due to the most generic of indy-chaining together-spots work and bland personalities. The pink and black vinyl ring gear, etc. it's all just dreadfully dull. Gulak is quietly one of the very best wrestlers in the WWE currently, regularly turning in work on WWE Main Event that blows whatever stupid shit The Fiend is doing this month out of the water. This match wasn't much though and at this point, on the day after my second Covid-19 vaccination, my headache and fatigue put me in a weird somnambulist state which this match's non-finish (thanks to an interruption and Gage's grotty ego) didn't help alleviate.

8. Nick Gage vs. Deranged - 2
9. The Switchblade Conspiracy (Sami Callihan and Jon Moxley) vs. Brain Damage and Drake Younger - 5

Was still in a mental fog during the Gage bout but man I really didn't find much at all to like therein. Recently saw a Nick Gage vs. Necro Butcher gem from an IWA M-S "King of the Death Match" show in-front of maybe 22 people. This was more of an angle than a match. Humpty Dumpty Deranged took the requisite disgusting bumps like being press-slammed off the top down onto several chairs below on the floor, and we had some broken panes of glass, large barbed wire wrapped boards, etc. but the pacing or flow was non-existent and lead to a real wet fart of a finale where Gage sprayed Deranged with lighter fluid looking like a kid with a squirt gun at East View swimming pool in Hamilton, OH circa 1991 forcing him to quit instead of being barbecued. Also had random asides like Nate Hatred coming out and putting meth head Billy Gram through a table at ringside that only further denigrated it. Main event begins spilling over from the last segment. Jon and Sami came from right here in my hometown Cincinnati and I got the opportunity to watch and meet them both at local shows. This was a period where they were spreading their wings and gaining notoriety and buzz. They clearly elevate the material in a big, big way here. CZW seemed very insular for a long time and these maniacs were injecting some much needed spice. Moxley especially shined here wearing the proverbial crimson mask. He let Damage really go to town on his head with a fork. Sami is great at unhinged and Younger was as reliable a hand as the co. had at that point. There's a few garbage spots for the fan with bloodlust but this really stands out as a time capsule for these guys' explosion in the scene. Callihan cuts an exquisite promo post-match running down CZW and its locker room of failed backyard wrestlers (his words) and uncouth reprobates (mine). Trent Acid comes out and drills Sami -- I later at an HWA event asked Callihan specifically about working Acid but I'll keep the contents of that conversation private. Upon researching it -- looks like Acid's last match was at JCW's Oddball Bonanza, a card that featured a handicap match where Isis went over Frick, Frack, and Fuck,  just three months before his untimely death. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

First-ever WCW Saturday Night Match

I wanted to look at the inaugural broadcast, the premiere, the very first episode of WCW Saturday Night. Upon reflection arguably my favorite televised wrestling show? As a kid Saturdays at 6:05PM I was in-front of the TV. This show was always appointment viewing. I'd be in the backyard shooting hoops or with friends recreating Jean-Claude Van Damme's Cyborg and rush straight in. Fun open where it looks like Jesse Ventura hacks into TBS' live feed and barks at the production crew to "put on that new music I brought in!"


Flyin' Brian (c) vs. Brad Armstrong - World Light Heavyweight Championship Match - 4

Armstrong's American flag jacket calls to mind flea market goers buying swords and venison. Don't know if it's mental whiplash due to there not being live crowds at wrestling shows this past year but those in attendance at this taping seemed incredibly and enthusiastically loud. Bungle where Pillman got whipped into the turnbuckle and attempted to scale it to leap off but lost his footing. Ross is great talking about Brad's 10 pound weight advantage and lending morsel of credibility. Lots of sitting in holds by Armstrong without much visible torque. Nice spot where Armstrong ascended to top buckle and Pillman leapt up to him with a dropkick to send Brad tumbling off. Highlight sees Pillman go for a humungous dropkick off the top rope and Armstrong counter it with a standing dropkick of his own. Good nearfall off Armstrong reversing the momentum of a top rope crossbody by Pillman. Pillman scales the buckles yet again for massive air time on a big splash but Armstrong got his knees up. I bit on a few of the false finishes which made the immediacy of the Pillman springboard clothesline that ended things come off pretty good. Felt sudden and less orchestrated. Interesting to see what framed a "Light Heavyweight" bout back then. Tons of top rope offense.

For posterity, elsewhere on this halcyon broadcast was the facial hair fractals of DDP & Cactus Jack vs. the Freebirds, a Rick Rude squash, and the first-ever WCWSN main event of Z-Man versus "Stunning" Steve Austin in a 2 out of 3 Falls bout.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Mercedes Martinez vs. Rhea Ripley – Steel Cage Match

Mercedes Martinez vs. Rhea Ripley – Steel Cage Match – NXT Super Tuesday II 9/9/20 - 5


Pre-match Martinez is digging under the ring pulling out a table like she’s Snoopy rummaging in the garage to retrieve chairs for Charlie Brown’s makeshift Thanksgiving meal and Rhea attacks from behind to get us underway. Ripley is a favorite among Hot Topic shoppers everywhere. Rhea ducked a chairshot but didn’t take much effort as Mercedes swung it 3 ft. above opponent’s head like she was swatting a fly. Rhea’s gear has more studs and chains on it than Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising. Sad to say Mercedes’ opportunity in WWE came about six years too late – she could have been a major player. Anyone else get distracted by Drake Younger as a referee? Like I can’t help but think his internal monologue is going something like, “Hell, I’d have taken a Death Valley Driver off the top of this damn cage onto a table on a gymnasium floor if this was Indianapolis”. Both women were perched on the top turnbuckle to see Mercedes hit a Shane Helms-like flying neckbreaker for a highlight. They set up a table and Ripley hits her patented Riptide finisher (sort of a pump-handle powerbomb) off the 2nd buckle (why not the top?) for the finish.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Parenthetical Monkeyflip Roadshow

Popping in with thoughts on some random wrestling TV as I catch up:

Angel Garza vs. "Gentleman" Jack Gallagher - 2 (NXT 10/23/19)

Chain-wrestling as innocuous as a chain letter begets some nifty grappling and jockeying for position on the mat. Garza's pants-tearing wardrobe gimmick gets a hefty pop. Jack had a good outing versus Brian Kendrick on 205 Live also in Oct. so keeping busy seems to be in his best interest. Gallagher has a real nice headbutt and dishes out a quality one here. Garza's match-ending springboard moonsault was kind of soft and lacked the oomph desired of a finish.

Isaiah "Swerve" Scott vs. Ariya Daivari - 4 (WWE 205 Live 10/25/19)

I haven't gotten a handle on what Scott brings to the table thus far in my exposure to him. Seeing him team up with Breezango on NXT recently wasn't a good look. What I've seen of his tenure in Lucha Underground and CZW he's a moderate prospect. Guess nobody told Ariya not to wear white after Labor Day. He's the type of guy who rented Jason Reitman's Labor Day from Redbox. Isaiah takes a nice flipping bump into the security wall at ringside. Daivari is one of a half-dozen generally dependable talents on 205 Live that can be plugged in for whatever slot needed. Nice release German suplex dolled out by Swerve. Scott got the victory with a jumping kick I can only imagine has a name that references Maniac Mansion or something similarly dastardly clever.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dash Wilder vs. Rhyno

Dash Wilder vs. Rhyno (WWE Main Event 9/14/17) - 3

Borrowing from David Bordwell's more formalist analysis on film a big difference in regards to technique and quality thereof I detected within the first minute of the match was Rhyno's extremely vocal selling of some basic, perfunctory armwork to start things, screaming with every ounce of pressure Wilder applied, whereas once Dash started eating attacks he did this wide-eyed Looney Tunes selling style that seems a byproduct of his NXT training. It'd be stooge selling if it was committed but falls short. Rhyno takes a surprisingly big bump for Main Event getting shoved off the top rope and spilling to the floor. Crowd was actually behind Rhyno with chants and support. Dash is more solid than I'd previously thought, not in the sense of being dependable, but thick. The finish, a fairly lackadaisical-looking Rhyno spinebuster fell flat, especially coming moments after a well-timed Wilder nearfall where he'd had his feet on the ropes for illegal leverage.  The range of motion of both men was so limited that it felt like the playing out of a wrestling match with action figures that have no articulation like the old LJN wrestling toys. As I'm getting caught up on the last couple months of Main Event I'll be seeing plenty more of both of these guys.