Saturday, June 23, 2007

Performer Analysis: Bryan Danielson

1) Innovation- 6/10-

Danielson is a rare breed of competitor that you find in the Indy scene these days. He was trained by one of the greatest pure workers of all time, Shawn Michaels, yet instead of adopting his ring style, as some of his fellow trainees did, he went the opposite way and become a puresou, or a pure technical wrestler. His style is more akin to Japanese wrestling, and at one point was adopted the name "American Dragon." An argument could be made that he, along with several other prominent indy talents, fueled the fires that become Ring of Honor, one of the most popular indy promotions in recent memory. It's his scientific style matched with great psychology and high impact blows that have trademarked him as one of the most sought out after talents. Whether or not his style will inspire more like it, time will tell, but he has become a unique persona in the wrestling business.

2) Conditioning- 10/10-
Danielson isn't the most well built, or the most muscular. Hell, he doesn't even have a tan. But, the guy comes to the ring to battle. Again, being trained by Michaels, who is known for his conditioning, seems an asset to Danielson. Also, he has embarked, as former ROH champ, on a litany of 60 minute Broadways that harken back to the days of old NWA champs touring the country and wrestling hour draws every night. He is extremely flexible and athletic in the ring and it has to do with his workout.

3) Skill- 8/10-
I think when you talk skill in the wrestling world today, and you try and name the ten best workers anywhere, Danielson would come up. He has some extrememly inventive submission holds that have become trademarks in his style, and he also has a very real looking style, in the moves he executes and his bumps. His selling is up there as well, with realistic facials that say "I'm a bad ass and I don't want to show that this hurts, but god, sometimes this shit hurts!"

4) Psychology- 8/10-
Danielson has trained himself quite well in the indy scene. There are so many young and old wrestlers trying to make a living by wrestling on the weekend, and so few of them break through that barrier and become stars. I think the difference is learning psychology, the art of showing emotion that comes from the punishment you absorb in the ring. Danielson has been able to do that and at a high level.

5) Interviews- 4/10-
Another important part of being a "sports entertainer" in this day and age is being able to talk in front of the camera. Danielson rarely cuts promos and there's a reason why. Being comfortable is probably the most important, which he is, and allows him to cut "cookie cutter" interviews, basically "he did this to me" or "I’m going to beat him down." Very generic subject matter lying within.

6) Character- 8/10-
Danielson began his career as American Dragon, the US version of a fighting Japanese warrior. His demeanor was very serious and everything he had poured into his matches. That aspect hasn't changed, but he began adopting a very dickish attitude, not a full blown heel turn, just enough to blur the lines and keep it real. His Ozark like beard added another layer to his character, as well as his long flowing cape and Empire March theme song. He has always represented hard impact action, but his character is one that has caught on with fans due to it's mystery and simplicity.

7) Fans- 8/10-
Danielson isn't so much loved as respected, which is something very hard to gain in the wrestling business. It's not that the fans can connect with him and identify with his character, it's that they admire what he can accomplish in the ring. He isn't a national star, which is hard to say for sure how world wide his appeal would be, but on a regional level, he is immensely popular.

8) Basics- 10/10-
His strongest trait is his very extensive technical base. Danielson has helped revolutionize the submission game in today's wrestling. He has invented some very unique holds, such as the Cattle Mutilation, but he also has shown his expertise for the classics of wrestling, including a hundred spin airplane hold. Danielson loves to throw kicks, but is just as happy working an arm for a twenty minute match and he does it very well.

9) Matches/ Feuds- 7/10-
Dragon has fought the best on the indy scene, no doubt about it and has created some of the finest in-ring highlight reel material available anywhere, perfectly fine tuned matches, and some historic heated feuds with the likes of William Regal, Samoa Joe, Homicide, and CM Punk. But, he has not as of yet competed against any of the biggest stars in the sport, past or present. And as far as ROH goes, he has some of the most remembered feuds in the company's history.

10) Gutcheck- 6/10-
To exude the fire and passion you can see on Danielson's face in most every one of his matches takes a certain level of dedication to the craft, and he has it. It takes a lot of hard work to make it in wrestling and Danielson has proven himself over and over again, in matches, in performances and to the fans, so I give him high marks for being such a hard worker and to continually please the wrestling fans that come to watch him compete.

Final Score: 75
Ranking: Superstar
PO: Thumbs Middle

WWF Monday Night Raw - 5/6/96

1) Wildman Marc Mero vs. The 1-2-3 Kid – 7
2) The British Bulldog vs. Fatu – 4
3) The Body Donnas vs. Techno Team 2000 – 5
4) Owen Hart vs. The Undertaker – 3

Mero and the Kid had an absolutely phenomenal match. Mero was diving all over the place and landed head first on the outside during a plancha attempt. It was also one of Sean Waltman’s final matches in the WWF as the 1-2-3 Kid. He would eventually return two years later as someone you’ve maybe heard of … X-Pac.

Bulldog and Fatu was a typical big man match of the time. The highlight of it for me was seeing a then-unknown tandem of Umaga and Rosey portraying Samoan gangsters.

I remembered the Body Donnas match from when I watched this as a kid. For those who don’t know Techno Team 2000 was comprised of Erik Watts and Chad Fortune, both of whom went on to do a whole lot of nothing in the wrestling business. The match was fluid throughout but alas, it was just another squash for the Body Donnas.

On paper, the main event might sound interesting but they decided to put Goldust on commentary at ringside and concentrate the focal point of the bout around the Undertaker/Goldust feud. Poor Owen once again got lost in the shuffle in a very lame capper to an otherwise good episode of Raw.

JCW SlamTV! #2

1. Josh Abercrombie and Jimmy Jacobs vs. Necro Butcher and Mad Man Pondo – 2
2. 2-Tuff Tony vs. “Holy” Trent Acid – 2

What I Liked:
I liked Necro pummeling Abercrombie relentlessly throughout their match. I was relieved to see the Tracey Smothers versus Zach Gowen match reduced to mere highlights, instead of being forced to watch the whole thing.

What I Disliked:
Pondo tossing Jacobs around by his nipple piercings had me aghast. The blatant homosexual gimmick should be permanently retired, alongside wrestlers who second as plumbers, matadors, race car drivers, and tax agents. Tony basically ripped The Sandman’s gimmick – smoking and drinking alcohol pre-match, looking like a repulsive piece of shit. There were a couple big bumps in both matches; but overall, they weren’t incorporated into the match, or in a context, where they seemed important or significant.

Some reason the people at the venue in Grand Rapids thought it’d be a good idea to sell large plastic pitchers of beer – many of them ended up tossed into the ring, coming dangerously close, and on occasion, hitting the wrestlers, which isn’t cool. If you’re going to throw anything at these guys, throw business cards and applications, so they can move on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WCW Road Wild '98

1 Meng v. Barbarian- 5
2 Disco Inferno/ Alex Wright v. Public Enemy (Street Fight) - 3
3 Saturn v. Kanyon v. Raven ( NO DQ) – 6
4 Rey Mysterio jr. v. Psychosis- 6
5 Chavo Guerrero jr. v. Stevie Ray- 1
6 Brian Adams v. Steve McMichael- 2
7 Juventud Guerrera v. Chris Jericho- 6
8 Battle Royal: including Goldberg, Giant, Scott Hall, Curt Henning, Scott Norton, Kevin Nash, Lex Luger, Sting, Konnan- 3 9
Hulk Hogan/ Eric Bischoff v. DDP/ Jay Leno- 3

This show takes place at the famed Sturgis Bike Rally, a breeding ground for bad tattoo art and overweight women with feathered hair to flash. The show started off with an insanely stiff brawl between two pure bred Polynesians, unless Barbarian is really from some place like Greenville or Newark. This featured a cranium crunching piledriver and a have to be seen to be believed top rope super belly to belly off the top rope. Neither men put any realistic facial expressions on their face and seeing Hugh Morrus come in at the end looking like a piece of whale blubber with a mullet both put me off. This tag was a mindless brawl littered with various "hardcore" bendable metal looking weapons. PE's teamwork worked as well as Britney Spears first marriage and neither man sold much for the dancing buffoons. The only bright spot was a triple table stack that Rocco Rock fell through on top of Disco Inferno. Other than that, you can throw this away with yesterday's Domino's box and the Sopranos, because they are both finished. The Triple Threat match was exactly what I wanted to see: 3 dudes beating each other up, plain and simple. Kanyon and Saturn were both bumping like fiends and Raven executed a pointless yet wild dropkick on the ultra-cool street set. The finish consisted of interference by the aptly named Horace Boulder, but I enjoyed the reckless abandon these 3 midcarders for Life beat each other with.

Rey and Psychosis, upon further thinking had the best in ring story of the night: Psych was bullying Rey the whole time, with power moves and the like and didn't try any of his wild, haphazard moves he does so often. Only near the end when he got frustrated with Rey's durability did he get nutty and that was his downfall. Not a pure Lucha match, but better I think, because the story came off well and both men showed they could work a different style match well. Stevie Ray chased Chavo around the ring; that was the match pretty much. I joked that the TV title was a de-push, as if you would rather be spray painted by the New World Order, or be Bischoff's coffee boy rather than win the TV title. Stevie Ray's shoulder scar was as pronounced as ever. Have you ever mistaken someone for being mentally retarded just by their looks- yeah, I was thinking of Mongo McMichael too. As politically and emotionally incorrect as that statement may have been, I think I would rather watch a group of "special needs" children slap each other than sit through another Mongo match. Here he was matched up against Brian Adams, or as I like to call him "The Human Sneer." Neither man had much motivation, knowing there were strippers and hoagies in the back. Mongo punches like a nearsighted gorilla.

Juvi and Jericho was well paced, and well worked. Some brilliant reversals by Jericho, Juvi's amazing plancha out to the gravel pit under the ring area and Jericho's kimono all worked on numerous levels. Dean Malenko's presence as ref neither bothered me or excited me, and he looked as indifferent as I felt. The near falls at the end were really close and the surprise finish left me satisfied, much like the New Arby's Market Fresh Subs. (endorsement deal, anyone?) The Battle Royal of Egos was quick, quicker than Nash's comedy career (you don't remember it, huh? Right, because it was that quick.) Goldberg and Curt Henning were the only 2 men in the ring who gave a shit, half of the others still wearing the garb they wore to the building, including Luger in tight black jeans, and Giant with a sleeveless cut off and no pants. Sting looked like an extra from a Cure video and was one of the more useless hands participating in said match. All in all it was another vehicle for old Whiskerbiscuit to get over again. Here's Jayyyyyyyyy! Leno worked a few armbars, and actually seemed to have a clue of how to work an audience, more than can be said for Karl Malone, or LT. Hogan was pretty immobile and Page was bumping like a stunt double from a Tony Jaa movie. The finish came when Kevin Eubanks, who was wearing a silk tuxedo shirt with no buttons?, hit a Diamond Cutter on Bischoff. The match itself was fine, but not terribly exciting and entertaining.

WWE Saturday Night's Main Event - 6/2/07

1) John Cena vs. The Great Khali – 4
2) Bobby Lashley vs. Mark Henry – Arm Wrestling Match – 0
3) Chris Benoit & Batista vs. Edge & M.V.P – 4
4) The Boogeyman & Mini-Boogeyman vs. Finlay & Hornswoggle – 2
5) Kane, Doink, & Eugene vs. Kevin Thorn, Viscera, & Umaga – 2

In the tradition of the old-school SNMEs, the main event kicks off the show. Khali dominated the match and Cena sold like crazy but it a basic TV match. I’m telling you there’s nothing like giving away the main event of your pay-per-view on free TV the night before the pay-per-view. Anyway, Khali pinned Cena cleanly to buildup the fact that, yes, he might actually win the title at One Night Stand. The arm wrestling match was supposed to be Vinnie Mac against Lashley but before the contest, the McManiac called down Mark Henry to do the dirty work in his place. We all know how these work anyway … bad guy gains first advantage, good guy regains advantage, bad guy doesn’t like this so he slugs good guy with his free arm … and that’s exactly how it went down. The tag match from Smackdown wasn’t anything new or exciting but it was solid for a 10-minute TV match. The finish saw Edge bailing on his partner and Benoit getting the pin after the swandive headbutt. Why is it I’m not really enthused about the Edge/Batista feud? Could it be the fact I don’t give a rat’s ass about Batista? Yeah … that’s pretty much it.

The match with Finlay and Boogeyman was not really fun at all. To be honest, it wasn’t even necessary. The highlight for me was Finlay knocking the shit out of Mini-Boogey with some stiff kicks. From there, the extremely crappy Nitro Girl imitation danced to the delight of no one. The dancing was interrupted by Hornswoggle getting chased by Mini-Boogey. The six-man tag was a mess of epic porportions. Doink tried to get the crowd into it by doing the old “boo … yay” trick but it was to no avail. The match itself was nothing of any consequence and really made me question my logic in staying up late to watch it.

WCW Road Wild ‘98

1. Meng vs. Barbarian – 4
2. Disco Inferno and Alex Wright vs. Public Enemy – Street Fight – 3
3. Raven vs. Kanyon vs. Saturn – No DQ – 6
4. Psychosis vs. Rey Mystero, Jr. – 7
5. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Stevie Ray – 1
6. Rick Stiener vs. Scott Stiener – 0
7. Bryan Adams vs. Steve “Mongo” McMichael – 2
8. Juventud Guerrera vs. Chris Jericho – 7
9. Wolfpac vs. nWo White vs. Goldberg – Battle Royal – 3
10. Diamond Dallas Page and Jay Leno vs. Hollywood Hogan and Erich Bischoff – 5

Meng and Barbarian brought the brute force bludgeoning I’d hoped for. My only qualm was that Meng looked pretty gassed during the last few minutes. They did a sickening belly-to-belly suplerplex that led me to cream my jeans. The brawl between Disco and Wright versus Public Enemy was unconvincing and unbelievable. They had a plethora of tame weapons, like aluminum cookie sheets and garbage cans. When Disco sells pain, you know who spent too much time in drama classes. I wonder if they buried Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge in their ridiculous hockey jerseys. Rocco jumped off this giant lighting rig and put Disco through a stack of three tables – while an entertaining visual, it kind of had its impact killed, seeing as how it wasn’t even the finish of the match.

Raven, Kanyon, and Saturn brought the beatings and the bumps. This match had a quick pace, and kept me interested throughout. It was kind of like the equivalent of the match I would have had, was I playing with these guys’ action figure counterparts. I mean that as a compliment, as, they were pretty much doing the types of things I would have dreamt up. Psychosis and Rey had a really excellent match; the build and psychology was way more prevalent than the typical lucha spotfest. Rey mad a dramatic comeback that I totally bought, plus, he squashed Psychosis’ face with his ass on a spot to the outside, and, he hit the move he now calls the “West Coast Pop” and it’s never looked better. Chavo and Stevie’s match was equivalent to a game of tag on an elementary school playground. Then, the Stiener versus Stiener match being unceremoniously cancelled insulted us. I thought this was especially lame, seeing as how it was boldly advertised on the back of the video’s package.

Mongo looked worse than ever, which, coupled with Adams’ ridiculous facials, made this one a real challenge to sit through. I only tossed it a few pity points, because there were a couple stiff shots. I applaud Jericho and Juventud for having the best match of the night. All of their stuff looked great, the highlight being Juventud’s absolutely inane springboard dive from the ring, over the stage, and about ten-foot out onto Jericho in a gravel pit. Jericho was also in top-form, playing the cocky character he was born to be.

The battle royal was just an absolute mess. Here, you had all of the highest paid guys in the company, going out there and just collecting a paycheck for giving about 10% of their abilities and effort. All of the usual suspects were involved, including Luger, The Giant, Nash, and Hall; as well as guys who usually are at least nominally decent, like Sting and Konnan. Curt Henning looked the best, which isn’t saying much, in this vehicle to further cement Goldberg as unstoppable. The main event was a big celebrity ploy to attract media attention, and actually worked a bit as an actual match, too. DDP was the workhorse, Leno looked like he’d been hitting Panera Bread religiously, Bischoff was all about the high kicks, and Hogan hung in there, albeit looked like a sun burnt turd, as he’d spent way too much time artificially tanning.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

WWF Summerslam 94

This show opened and closed with Leslie Nielsen skits. He was the star of the Naked Gun series, which were quite funny but not on my wrestling programs. They even brought in his sidekick; the old guy from Cool Hand Luke. I’m sure they made more than half the midcard that night. Onto the matches.

1 Headshrinkers v. IRS/ Bam Bam Bigelow- 4

I wasn’t familiar w/ the team of Irrrrrrwin and Bammer until this show, but they worked well enough together. Bam Bam was bumping really great for the Samoans and Irwin just looked like that mean teacher you don’t want to ask a question to. There was some mild interference from the Shrinker’s managers, Afa and Cap’n Lou, that didn’t amount to much, much like the overall match. It didn’t have many near falls or hot tags, which is always a safe guard in a tag match, which lost it points, plus the DQ finish didn’t whet my appetite either.

2 Alundra Blaze v. Bull Nakano- 5

A decently crafted women’s match. Nakano pulled Madusa together like a French braid and stretched her rougher than when she interviewed for WCW w/ Eric Bischoff pretending to be her monster truck. Both women were on point with their strikes and the crowd was into it. But, again, pointless interference from a manager: this time, Luna Vachon. My god, she is getting old. You could tell because the lightning bolts painted on the side of her face were getting wrinkles. An average match.

3 Razor Ramon (w/ Walter Peyton, former Chicago Bear) vs. Diesel (w/ Shawn Michaels, former Playgirl model)- 4

The crowd was hot, as Adam pointed out during the match, and the two guys in the ring certainly didn’t stretch to get them any hotter. I saw the bare minimum of spots in this match. The ones I did see were hard hitting and usually got pops, but I didn’t see much chemistry between the two of them. Plus, Michaels looked like a 1930’s comedian doing prat falls for Peyton. The large mullet/ rat tail he whipped around didn’t paint him as the definition of masculinity either.

4 Tatanka v. Lex Luger- 3

This match was centered on whether Luger was going to sell out to Dibiase; although I think the WBF contractually owned half of his soul ( the other half Satan is keeping, for that little murder he committed on Miss Elizabeth; oh, we all know it!) It was a short match, devoid of that little thing that keeps us interested in wrestling but very few of us realize it’s there- emotion. Luger was throwing punches like he was rolling some dice during a game of Monopoly, but Tatanka’s chops were brutal. The match ended with a quick rollup, then Tatanka pulled the big swerve.

5 Jeff Jarrett v. Mabel- 3

I wasn’t that taken with this match. This was at the time when there were only four or five ppv’s a year, and this is red hot feud was something that had to be put on the show. Mabel missed a big splash and Jarrett threw some shoddy punches. The only thing I did enjoy was him throwing Mabel’s annoying manager into the steel stairs.

6 Bret Hart v. Owen Hart (Steel Cage)- 9

A candidate for a 10, but not quite. I don’t think I’ve seen a better one on one cage match in years, possibly ever. The story was great and very real. Two brothers fighting for every little advantage they could get, clawing, biting, and gnawing for any shot they could get. They were both taking big, painful and realistic bumps that helped build the drama of the match. Plus, the match itself was probably over 30 minutes and they didn’t just sit on their hands the whole time; they worked their asses off. A sensational offering and one of both of their best matches.

7 Undertaker v. “Undertaker”- 2

On the opposite end of the spectrum, this was a hype- filled premature ejaculation of athleticism, using that word extremely loosely, I mean Paris Hilton loosely. There were long pauses in the action; not intentional, just due to not knowing what comes next. The Underfaker was Brian Lee, who was awful in this match. He even fucked up bouncing off the ropes and later both men bumped into each other like students in a crowded high school hallway, then tried to cover it up. And this was your main event? It was more for spectacle, which featured the always over weight Paul Bearer holding a giant flashlight shaped like an urn towards the ceiling. Wow. I’m thrilled. If this was a defective kid’s toy, I’d do a recall on it. If this was a mostly injured sports athlete’s expiring contract, I wouldn’t renew it. And if this was a young kid pitching a script idea for the next Blair Witch movie, I’d punch him in the face and burn his car down to the tires. This was that bad.

Friday, June 1, 2007

WWF Summerslam 93

1 Razor Ramon v. Ted Dibiase-4
2 Heavenly Bodies v. Steiner Brothers- 5
3 Shawn Michaels v. Curt Henning-4
4 IRS v. 1-2-3 Kid- 4
5 Doink v. Bret Hart-4
6 Bret v. Jerry Lawler-3
7 Ludvig Borga v. Marty Jannetty-3
8 Undertaker v. Giant Gonzalez-1
9 Smoking Gunns/ Tatanka v. Bam Bam Bigelow/ Headshrinkers-5
10 Lex Luger v. Yokozuna-2

In Dibiase's final match, he works a decent encounter with Ramon, filled with flashes of his technical brilliance. The Steiners vs. Bodies was the best match of the show, with some cool tag work. Both teams were trying things that were a little crazy, but then they would back it off and go back to a chin lock which was interesting to see. Michaels and Henning were flipping like Power Rangers on every sell and they had some good chemistry but the match was booked in a convoluted way and actually their selling distracted me, it was over the top. Kid and IRS went by quickly but had some sparks of good wrestling. Doink and Bret worked each other stiff, but the finish was a DQ, then Lawler came in and completed a gimmick heavy no contest with Hart in one of his more forgettable matches. Jannetty tried really hard to put over Borga, but he needed some help. Borga looked stiffer than Arnold in the Terminator, or in True Lies during the strip tease scene. Those Finnish really can't party. Taker and Gonzalez' s match looked like two blind emus humping. The six man was pretty stiff, given some good time and was kept fresh by lots of tags. And the main event was craptacular to say the least. Yoko could move for a big man, but wasn't into this. Luger celebrating like he won the Olympics after a count out victory defines stupidity. Not a great Summerslam, by standards, but somewhat entertaining.

WCW Saturday Night 8/07/99

1. Spyder vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan – 2
2. Harlem Heat vs. Disorderly Conduct – 4
3. Juventud Guerrera vs. Psychosis – 2
4. Dave Burkhead vs. Ernest Miller – 3
5. Jerry Flynn and Hugh Morrus vs. Public Enemy – 2
6. Brian Knobbs vs. Villano V – 3
7. Chris Adams vs. Eddy Guerrero – 5
8. Silver King vs. Horace Hogan – 2
9. Barry and Kendall Windham vs. B.A. and Swoll – 2
10. La Parka vs. Sid Vicious – 0

Life is like an episode of WCW Saturday Night… you never know what you’re going to get. Duggan can’t even open a can of Pringles – much less convincingly open a wrestling show. At one point, Booker T looked like he was performing in a minstrel show, and the highlight of that tag match was one of the Disorderly guys bumping off the apron like a pinball. Oh, Juventud and Psychosis, how utterly disappointed I was in your match. These guys knew each other far too well to have delivered such a sloppy bout. I blame Juvie’s drug addiction. Some reason early on, Burkhead was abasing himself and groveling. Ernest’s kicks are wickedly stiff at times, even if he’s a complete tool. Knobbs was uniformly stiff, but, in a simple glorified squash, was it really necessary to stretch it on forever? Grunge no-sold punches like he was a young kid grappling with an older brother, and Rocco Rock was about as unappealing in-ring as the wretched cover art to Father M.C.’s essential release Father’s Day in ’90. Eddy and Adams put together a fairly enjoyable match, featuring a delicious suplex by Adams on the floor. At one point, Adams fell off the top turnbuckle, flailing in mid-air like someone leaping from the WTC. Silver King, you deserved so much better. It was fun seeing brothers Barry and Kendall together, but I’ll be damned if Swoll wasn’t greener than Swamp Thing’s nutsack. The main event featured Vicious smashing the talented La Parka in under a minute in a throwaway match.