Wednesday, November 22, 2023

WWE Velocity 6/15/02

Billy and Chuck vs. Mark Henry and Randy Orton – 4
Rikishi vs. Albert – 4
Jamie Noble vs. Funaki – 4
Kurt Angle vs. Hardcore Holly – 6

Summer of 2002, I was 20 years old, living in my parents’ basement, and having an absolute blast. A few months later the FoxBox Saturday morning line-up would premiere giving us Ultraman Tiga, Fighting Foodons, Ultimate Muscle, and Kirby: Right Back at Ya! I was staying up late hanging with friends almost nightly, blowing what meager money I earned on stuff at Toys ‘R Us and fast food, and taking in an unhealthy amount of wrestling. Even on WWE’s C-level shows we were getting some quality in-ring action.

Opener was good stuff. Chuck and Henry started. All of Mark’s cutoff spots were real blunt and meaty. Just shoving Chuck down like a hockey check. Billy and Orton mixed it up next and really emphasized Billy’s veteran savvy. Randy threw a few sweet dropkicks. Chuck did these big ‘70’s era wind-up elbow drops that I just loved. Was far too short to get anything approaching a proper story told but I was still into it. Henry ate a Chuck savate kick followed by a Famouser for the loss.

Two beefy boys going at it. “You ever have a chick lick your face, Cole?” says Taz on commentary. At first I wasn’t exactly jibbing with it as it was pretty simple meat and potatoes stuff. But then I had to tip my hat as these big lugs were laying it in. Couple nice big splashes by Albert where he got nice air time. Rikishi dropped that ass on Albert and got the win with a Bonzai Drop. Nice clean definitive finish gets it an extra point.

Ah yes, my favorite ROH champ (just kidding) James Gibson in action. Nice aggression on display by Jamie with a focused attack throughout. Funaki’s blue and white striped trunks looked like coastal mariner décor. Not enough depth to rate higher but solid. Main event sees Angle still wearing that goofy wig under his headgear. They reference this is a week away from Kurt getting a shot at Hulk Hogan at King of the Ring and I attended that show live. Never will I forget the look on my friend Steve’s face when his hero Hulk tapped out to Angle. Holly dishing out some stiff chops and a compact powerslam for the scrapbook. Some real nice throws and suplexes by Angle. What a treat to watch him at this time. Holly busts out a massive powerbomb like it’s no big deal. Some nifty counters on display. Holly survives an Ankle Lock and even rallies back but Kurt uses a hefty handful of the ropes for the tainted win. Really dug the hell out of this. Angle made Holly look good and gave a damn fine performance. Just aces.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Ranking the 2010's Indies

The last five years have seen seismic changes in my life. And while I’ve surfed the ebbs and flows, losing a parent suddenly, a divorce, surviving a bad case of Covid-19, etc. wrestling has remained. Sometimes in the background. Other times more present. Most often as a late night vice to sort of decompress from the events of the day: the office job, fatherhood, time with my girlfriend, to slip into the world of my youth … wrestling.

Lately, I’ve daydreamed of writing, podcasting, just doing something constructive and creative as a response to all the matches that unspool in-front of my eyes while the other houses in my neighborhood are darkened by slumber. But maybe that’d rob my late night escapism pleasure of its richness and reward? So, I haven’t found my “in” yet. To return to this blog full-time. But, for the first time in over a decade, the thoughts keep reoccurring of finding my way back.

Until the inspiration strikes – here’s a little piece on me ranking the early-2010’s American indies (in terms of my own personal enjoyment). I’ve been watching a metric ton of footage from the 2010’s (approx. ’07-’12, and then some stuff from ’14-’17) all new to me.

CZW – I’ve watched more CZW the last year than any other company. What I really like is their shows have a variety. Obviously, you’ve got Tournament of Death on the calendar, but their month-to-month regular events usually consist of a smorgasbord feat. high-flying juniors, less serious fare with Greg Excellent, some low-tier regulars like Sozio, John Dahmer, etc., whatever program DJ Hyde was in (and his bad mic work), deep tag division feat. The Best Around, Team AnDrew, BLKOUT, etc., and different types of hardcore inc. more workrate-driven stuff with Drake Younger, Scotty Vortekz, etc. mixed with the more traditional ultraviolence of Necro Butcher, Toby Klein, Brain Damage, Matt Tremont, etc. It makes the event more fun and better-paced when there’s different types of acts and talent getting opportunities.

PWG – I get many of the criticisms aimed at PWG, but kudos where its due, I exhausted my supply of their footage faster than any other company I’d stockpiled, and really wish I had more to delve into. While the high-octane, rarely stopping to catch a breath, style can certainly be tiresome to some – I love the how insanely talented that locker room was and how seemingly dedicated they were to always outdo the last show. Makes for splendid viewing from the comfort of the couch.

ROH – So, this era isn’t prime ROH, its mostly tags (World’s Greatest, Briscoes, Kings of Wrestling, Future Shock, American Wolves, All-Night Express, Bravado Bros.), and Davey Richards atop the cards taking himself too seriously, but despite myself I still enjoy the uniformity and solidness of the shows. I realize this sounds like a backhanded compliment. But dependability is a net positive. I can always toss a Ring of Honor event on and know I’m going to get some physical in-ring stuff, and will always respect what it takes to work that style.

EVOLVE – This has probably been the biggest surprise of my last few months’ binging. I think a lot of people think of EVOLVE as I did, only seeing their early shows which were always built on a big marquee indie dream match, then undercards that smelled suspiciously like Gabe (aka FIP, DG USA, ROH lite) that were dimly lit and sparsely attended. Then, there’s the latter day EVOLVE, when it was essentially an NXT/WWE feeder farm league. But what I watched recently was over a dozen shows from EVOLVE 47-75 era. And it’s an entirely different beast. While not quite an American cousin to Battlearts, it is very, very focused on limb work, grappling, and technical acumen. The regular crew featured guys like Tracy Williams, Zack Sabre Jr., Matt Riddle, Drew Gulak, Fred Yehi, and Timothy Thatcher. Then some other indie favorites like Chris Hero, Drew McIntyre, Gargano, Ricochet, etc. I don’t think it’d be for everyone’s tastes but I quickly fell down the rabbit hole and glad I finally discovered this lost era.

Chikara – I don’t know all the particulars of the controversies and the co. closing its doors. I don’t want to trudge out the old “separating the art from the artist” adage cinephiles use when screening the latest from Roman Polanski or Woody Allen, but in this case, I’ve tried doing just that and simply watching the events as they’re presented, in all their comic book shop nerdy glory. Former NHO staffers Geo & Adam were more on the Chikara train back then than NHO co-founder Jessie or I. But the shows are consistently fun. The aesthetic isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s like your high school band kids, theater clique, and D&D geeks decided to put on a wrestling show – complete with bad acoustic rock to open the card, Sunday School level wardrobe, and more comic ideas than James Gunn is channeling for his Chapter 1 – Gods & Monsters saga for the new DCU. Underneath the masks and the face paint is lots of talented folks.

The rest of the list are companies I had a much smaller sampling size at my disposal:

IWA M-S & IWA EC & GCW – I lumped the hardcore sleaze together. Saw Mid-South’s King of the Death Match ’16, East Coast’s Masters of Pain ’15 (and a few random events in a gymnasium), and a GCW Zandig Tournament of Survival (not sure the year offhand). Garbage wrestling is like convenience store junk food. You wouldn’t want to subsist on it but it can be a guilty pleasure. I’m going to reveal my hippie upbringing bonafides here but there is a part of me, conflicted isn’t the right word, but that does genuinely feel for a lot of these guys. I know that’s the antithesis of hardcore. One guy in particular, Danny Havok, shined so brightly on CZW shows, and when he’d pop up in other death match circuits, and to see him die so young is tragic. Alright, off my soapbox, if Insane Lane and Freakshow want to wallop the brain cells out of each other than who am I to interfere? Bring it on!

AIW & AAW – I virtually only knew both by name until this past year. And now I wish had been a fan for much longer. Representing Cleveland and Chicago I’ve lumped these two together because they share many similarities in terms of presentation and also roster. I won’t rifle through all the shows I saw, but some highlights were (AIW Don’t Feed Us After Midnight, Blood Sport, and They Live .. notice a cinematic theme there? And AAW’s Killers Among Us ’16 & Hell Hath No Fury ’15). A revolving door of familiar faces and regulars like Rhyno, Dan Severn, Sami Callihan, AR Fox, Josh Alexander, Silas Young, Eddie Kingston, Louis Lyndon, and Ethan Page.

HoH – This one is a bit of a cheat as it was actually a year or two ago I caught up on a few early House of Hardcore shows. Cards on the table, I’d really love it if anyone can hook me up with info on where I can purchase more HoH discs, or tips to available links, etc. as I kind of want to binge their entire run for the blog as a possible potential project. The mix of old ECW vibes with Northeast indie talent, and cameos from high-profile indy stars like Young Bucks, Austin Aries & other TNA contracted stars, etc. make for an uncanny hybrid that hits a sweet spot for yours truly. I’ve maybe seen 7-8 shows of theirs max though. Really want to see the one where Great Muta & Tommy Dreamer team up in the main event.

DG USA – When they first came upon the scene, an American offshoot of the popular Dragon Gate league in Japan, my friends of that time were gobbling up the DVDs like Baltimore baddies snorting up all the alley cocaine. I think looking back there’s some flaws that are harder to overlook. The events as filmed for DVD are often very poorly lit. The lack of storylines leads to a lot of the in-ring work feeling rote and mechanical. There’s def. a lack of spark or sizzle. Not just most but ALL of the roster felt like they were holding back as the DG talent were keeping their A game for their own fed, and the American indie talent were shining bigger elsewhere. There’s still some satisfaction to be had from tossing in an old Uprising, Enter the Dragon, or Untouchable card but adjust your expectations accordingly.

Beyond Wrestling – I don’t think back then any of my peers and pals were into Beyond or really even knew their shtick. And I can’t say I’m any authority either. To sum up what I’d heard back then was that these were oddity indie shows with stacked rosters, often with little to no fans invited, by the wrestlers for the wrestlers. In a very tight, cramped warehouse space that makes the APW Gym Wars look like Cowboys Stadium, a ring is crammed into a corner where an odd overhead angle records the action nondescriptly. But the shows I sampled (Party Animals, Battle of Who Would Care Less, and Beyond Flesh .. sounds like a Cronenberg film) were distinct and pretty entertaining. There were tiny crowds smooshed right up against the ring – couple dozen people max. I need to see more to say I really have a feel for what they’re going for but I’m intrigued.

TNA UWF – I’m running out of steam so will keep this short. This is race driver Hermie Sadler’s offshoot of TNA. Same roster. But working their matches like mid-90’s Memphis minus Jamie Dundee. So you’ll seeing very little bumps. Mostly just riling up the rubes in the crowd and getting the old ladies’ ire going. Lots of snot-nosed kids eating Kahn’s hot dogs in the front row with stains on their gently worn Nike shirts from Goodwill. I mean … they’ve got Maven working the stick for 9 minutes pre-match. So if you ain’t into territorial or fairground wrestling this isn’t going to move the needle. But if you want to watch Diamonds in the Rough versus The Naturals then this is your jam.

Monday, August 29, 2022

WWE Sunday Night Heat 8/16/98

 1. Mankind and Kane vs. LOD 2000 (Animal and Darren Drozdov) - 4

Pretty explosive. Lots of Beef 'N Cheddars flying around the canvas. At one point a chair is covertly slid into the ring just so Foley can take a bodyslam bump on it because this was '98 and he was all about sacrificing for DA BIZ~! Animal still had some nice pop on a shoulderblock. Kane's Tombstone on Animal looked potentially fatal.


2. Brian Christopher vs. Edge - 5

Edge in a trench coat like Morpheus with wild, long hair. Much cooler than he looks in 2022 with dad cut and Little Caesars belly. Heard Beth Phoenix likes hand tossed. Nasty little back suplex by Edge. Later while Edge is dazed on apron BC somersaults over him and busts out a sunset flip powerbomb on the floor!!! We're going to Korakuen Hall, bay-bay! Loved Christopher selling a spinebuster like a turtle stuck on its shell. Forgot how good BC's top rope legdrop was (even if he missed it here). Really dug this one


3.  Vader vs. Bart Gunn - 2

This is in the midst of the Brawl for It All fiasco. Jim Ross literally had to call a replay of Gunn knocking out his boy Dr. Death a few days prior as this got underway.  Vader hit one disgusting big slash on Bart. Was Gunn being taught a lesson here? Vader was def. giving him some potatoes and they weren't Idaho or even scalloped.


4. Gangrel vs. Scott Taylor - 3

The debut of Gangrel! He actually had a heck of a cool look here initially. His white frilly vampire shirt was covered in plasma and he was in better shape than he'd later slip into. Good squash.


5. Southern Justice (Dennis Knight and Mark Canterbury) vs. Degeneration-X (X-Pac and Triple H) - 3

X-Pac hit a GREAT spinkick in the corner on Knight. Sometimes in this era his kicks could be more Phantom than Billy Zane but this one was BOSS~! When I hear DK I think Donkey Kong or Dynamite Kid not Dennis Knight. Mark (aka Henry Godwinn) and Trips have some history. I've read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but what I really want to do is read Mark Canterbury's Tales.

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.