Monday, June 30, 2008

WWE Night of Champions 2008

1) John Morrison/ The Miz v. Finlay/ Hornswaggle (WWE Tag Team Title)- 5
2) Matt Hardy v. Chavo Guerrero (US Title)- 4
3) Kane v. Big Show v. Mark Henry (ECW Title)- 4
4) Hardcore Holly/ Cody Rhodes v. Ted Dibiase/ Cody Rhodes (World Tag Team Title)- 1
5) Chris Jericho v. Kofi Kingston (IC Title)- 5
6) Mickie James v. Katie Lea Burchill (Women's Title)-4
7) Edge v. Batista (World Title)- 4
8) HHH v. John Cena (WWE Title)- 8

The opener was exactly what it should have been : hard hitting (every time you have Finlay in there), fast paced, the action was good, there was some good tag work with the heels and it had a good finish. Can't believe I'm saying this but I'm looking forward to more matches between these two teams. Matt did what he does best in his title defense; sell a wounded body part. It's a good formula for his matches and it worked here, but Chavo really isn't aggressive enough to make us believe he's trying to break Matt's leg. But, Matt sells it really well anyways; I really thought he was hurt. The finish was creative and out of nowhere; this needed more content though to make it memorable. The big men went with their best option which was just to stiff people. Show was kind of a non-factor here, although his bodyslam on Henry was man-sized and sick. Kane hurts himself trying to protect him self on an outside bump; serves the freak right. His strikes were dead on though and Show and Henry ate lots of them. The bait and switch with Rhodes was predictable and I don't see much of a future for Holly after this run.

Jericho tried to run this match and did an admirable job of it, but there were a few misfires here. Kofi has talent but I fear a pre-emptive push before he's ready isn't really a good thing for him. Jericho played off of his offense really well even if he can't sell it like he could have 7 years ago. Cade at ringside in a sweater vest was a real eyesore but Jericho continues to try and put on good matches and this could develop into a good program if they so wanted. James and Lea are two of the best in WWE right now and with practice could also have a good program. The arm work was well done and James shows she can sell a body part not just expose them in tawdry photo spreads. I'm really worn out on Edge; his work is so lazy now it's just not even worth watching. Batista isn't the guy to motivate him either; neither man's sells were even worth the pretty lousy chicken sandwhich dinner I had while watching the show although a few spots came off well, such as a sunset flip out of the corner. Seeing the large Vickie Guerrero get keg-tossed onto a waiting crowd of Smackdown midcarders was a fun visual but not Dave's sulking after the match. First off, Trips looks like a spokesman for skin melonoma; he looked like sunburnt Indian. But, other than that, he knows how to bring a main event and make it memorable. Both matches with Cena have had great build and it's left to where either man could win and you could see it plausibly happening. Cena is one of the best workers in the world right now; wow, can't believe i said that. He has the enthusiasm, the passion, the selling is down pat and he is quickly learning how to make a main event matter. He and Trips had some great near falls and reversals and kept the whole bar we were in great suspense. Fantastic main event; possibly better than their Mania match.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Performer Analysis: Miracle Violence Combination

This is my 2nd attempt at analyzing a tag team in one review; after just finishing their 3 disc DVD set made from the folks at (cheap plug), I'm ready to get in depth on MVC.

1) Innovation- 7(Doc)/ 9 (Gordy)
Doc was apart of what I like to call that Bill Watts style; the hard hitting, brawling type who wasn't necessarily the most technical or flash guy but could beat an ass soundly; Gordy fits that mold too. What's unique and innovative about both of them is that instead of just skating by in WCW or WWF on that persona, they went to Japan to test their mettle. The Land of the Rising Sun is the Land of Bad-Ass MotherF*****s! Doc, years later, back in America brought the ruthless, head dropping Japanese style back to him in a failed singles career but it was definitley something no one else was doing at that time. Gordy, on the other hand, was apart of one of the most landscape changing groups of all time, and that's the Freebirds; they were flashy, they had their own entrance music, they bordered the line between face and heel and they were a 3 man group that could interchange members.

2) Conditioning- 7(Doc)/ 7(Gordy)
Neither of these guys are going to ever be on the cover of a Fitness magazine, but this category is more than that. Doc has a very stocky build, like a linebacker. He's incredibly strong, deceptively so, and has that barrel midsection. Gordy is taller, but thick as well showing a lot of excess fat on his frame. Both guys had the ring conditioning to work longer matches; it's built into having a career in Japan- you don't do 4 minute TV matches and call it a night's work. You have to perform anwhere from 10 to 30 to 45 minutes a night and at a high skill level and pace. But both men were plagued with drug problems, most noticeably Gordy whose habits helped lead to a death way too early in his career and life. Doc also was in use of hazardous substances and went through a near death battle with throat cancer, possibly brought on by his overindulgence. Both guys lose marks for that but they could go with anyone for a while in the ring.

3) Skill- 7 (Doc)/ 7 (Gordy)
Both guys can definitley hold their own inside of the four posts. Both men have wrestled the top guys in the world and put on 5 star matches. Both men's styles and pace dictate that they remain in control as much as possible in a match. Neither man's strength is on defense, although Doc does sell better than Gordy and more often. But Gordy is more of a thinker than Doc; he goes from move to move or spot to spot without any real slop being thrown in there just because he's not sure; you'll see Doc do that. Offense on the other hand, both men excel at. They are more the guys that need someone to bump around them and they can have a fantastic match. Doc can go hold for hold with a lot of guys and Gordy can just maul you so they have a very fun style to watch.

4) Psychology- 10 (Doc)/ 8(Gordy)
As I've mentioned already in my review of their 3 disc set, Doc does a lot of little things really well that add a certain element to matches, like warming up on the apron, gives you a sense of anticipation for when he gets in the ring. Some double team stuff they pulled off that gives them just a slight advantage like the ways they distract the ref and such. And Doc's little touches on sells, like an aforementioned sleeper, really getting some mileage out of it. Gordy also has some really good psych; he always revs up the fans after a big offensive manuever. He's better at spotting momentum and going with it than Doc is. And both men go for covers at opportune moments, little things that give you the sense they are actually trying to win the match, not just perform for a paycheck.

5) Interviews- 5(Doc)/ 7 (Gordy)
Doc's a big talker but not a great one. He's pretty loud and barks a lot of threats but besides that there's not much to them. He did these silent promos in ECW where he just stared a hole right through your head that I really enjoyed. Gordy on the other hand, while not masterful at the art of interview, has that redneck quality and tells you how and where and when he's going to beat you up. He was under the tutelage of Michael Hayes who can talk, so I think he picked up a few lessons there.

6) Character- 8 (Doc)/ 6 (Gordy)
Dr. Death is a name that most every wrestling fan knows even if they don't know Steve Williams. I'm not really sure what the name is supposed to represent besides intimidation but it's quite catchy and rolls right off the tongue. Williams and Gordy's "characters" are basically the same: rough tough dudes who will fight anyone anytime. When they came back to WCW in the early 90's, they basically used their Japanese reputations as their gimmick; being two Americans who went over to the toughest promotion in the world and survived and came to America to claim their fame. They were basically heels but they never cheated; they just happen to fight all of the faces. Both men have been heels most of their careers but that's only due to the fact that they can beat someone down really well; even so they still get cheered. When Doc was in UWF with Bill Watts, he was super over as a tough collegiate face, so he gets a little extra in this category.

7) Fans- 7 (Doc)/ 7 (Gordy)
In the beginnings of their careers both men were largely cheered and jeered by fans: Doc as college football star who turned wrestler in Oklahoma and Gordy as renegade Freebird in Texas. They had their stages of mediocrity during their career but found themselves in Japan where they were always cheered against because they were facing off with the most popular competitors in that country. But, as their tag team status grew, after their stellar WCW run they became quite a favorite amongst most diehard wrestling fans. Even ECW brought them in as "the best tag team in the world" to run at their Eliminators, but overall I'd say they are moderately popular even with Gordy being deceased and Doc retired and for most of their careers they were pretty well known.

8) Basics- 10 (Doc)/ 6(Gordy)
Doc was a collegiate athlete so I'm guessing his mat wrestling experience there helped him immensely here. He has all the great ingredients of the basics of wrestling down: knows his holds and works his holds really well, has a great punch, can make transitions well. And you wouldn't think he could by looking at him. Gordy isn't as classically trained; although I've seen spurts of it. He's more of a brawler type and it works wonders for him. But, a bare knuckle brawler must also know the basics and he knows how to use the ring very well, quick whip ins to corners and ropes to setup moves and stiff kicks and punches.

9) Matchs/Feuds- 7(Doc)/ 10 (Gordy)
It's hard to say who's the more known competitor, probably Doc only because he's had a longer career but Gordy has definitley had the more famous fueds and that's simply because of his World Class stint and the legendary feud of the Freebirds vs. Von Erich's. This long running grudge kept World Class alive, filled it's stadiums to capacity and made tons of money while also putting the Texas-based promotion on the global mat of pro wrestling. Gordy was dead center of that feud, even branching off against all 3 of the most famous brothers in World Title matches and such, meaning David, Kevin and Kerry. Doc, on the other hand, was in UWF feuding with the likes of the Rock n' Roll Express and the Guerrero Brothers, while teaming with Ted Dibiase. When these two hooked up in Japan, they had legendary matches against Stan Hansen & Dan Spivey, Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada, among many other combinations, not to mention holding the Triple Crown World Championships each, respectively. Then, they ventured back into America and embroiled themselves in a feud with the Steiner Brothers, which they decisively won. They went back to Japan after this run, and the team pretty much fizzled after that. Gordy passed away in 2001, years after he had retired and Doc was still chugging along, silently in independents with a short run in WWE and WCW in the late 90's. But, they have both wrestled the finest in Japan yet neither got to face any of the top national talent of the WWF or WCW.

10) Gutcheck- 8(Doc)/ 6 (Gordy)
It's funny that when you look back at both of these legendary toughmen, they'll be known more as tag team wrestlers than singles because that's where most of their success has been and none more than the success they had as a team; Capturing some of the most prestigious tag gold in all of the sport- the All Japan PWF/ International Tag Titles and the WCW and NWA Tag Team Titles at one time. Never had been done before. Doc underwent throat surgery a few years ago to remove the cancer he had and has since recovered and been "saved." But despite all that, he's known for his toughness and even in the light of his KO to Bart Gunn or his embarrassing WCW run where he helped poke fun at his good old friend JR, he still remains, as I've said here so many times before, a man who loved this business and wanted to do all he could for it, including opening a short lived school for up and coming wrestlers. Gordy, whose time with us was cut short, also loved the business and became something of a journeyman, doing a quick shot in WWE as Executioner, finding his way into ECW for a time, then bouncing back to Japan, even competing in a Death Match Tournament, definitley not his fortay. Both men had character, even though they both suffered some personal demons and stayed true to kayfabe and the art of making this look real. It's been a real honor getting to relive some of their past glory and immortalize them, in my own way, here on NHO.

Totals: 76 (Doc)/ 73 (Gordy)
Rankings: Legend (Doc)/ Superstar (Gordy)
PO: Thumbs Up (Both)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Best of The Miracle Violence Combination: Disc 3

1) MVC v. Kenta Kobashi/ Mitsuharu Misawa (01/24/93)- 8

Doc and Kenta start out mat wrestling and this seems like it will be a nice, friendly affair- BOOM! Nope, Misawa comes right in throwing bows, as my boy Ludacris might say. You can watch Kobashi and see he's still pretty young in the business but his attitude is so right on; he's completely befuddled at one point, so he just takes Gordy outside and gives him a back suplex on the floor. MVC knows Kobashi is the best chance they have to win so they keep him in most of the match; although he's no push over and just starts throwing really brutal kicks at one point. Doc sells a sleeper like Ebeneezer Scrooge running from the Ghost of Christmas Future but it's really fun. The heels just started using suplexes in their arsenal for the first time on the whole set; Kobashi takes a brutal slam on the outside- he's bumping like a madman which more than makes up for his shortcomings here. I've realized no one runs a comeback like Misawa; he's a ball of flamin' fire and he and Kobashi work some double teams that are just killing- STIFF! STIFF! STIFF! This may have been the hardest hitting match yet. Wonderful finish.

2) MVC v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Toshiaki Kawada (02/14/93 PWF/International Tag Titles)- 7

Sometimes, Kawada doesn't sell a damn thing. You see a lot of that here; but you don't even have to try and sell his kicks because they seem to exude a natural reaction. MVC goes with the old strategy of hurting Misawa (his leg) and leaving Kawada all alone, but instead they keep Misawa in the ring and just work his leg for the majority of the match. They really work it too; not just laying on it and holding onto it like a Chris Hero or Edge may do. They do tons of near falls after Kawada finally gets back in and a really hot sequence where he folds Gordy in half with a powerbomb and applies the Plum Stretch. The end gets a little chaotic and guys are just fighting all over the ring with no discernable legal man anywhere in sight but it's a legitimate finish so I can give a good score.

3) MVC v. Toshiaki Kawada/ Akira Taue (05/23/93)- 6

This starts out like a rowdy Saturday night at a honky-tonk bar because everybody's going for everybody; i half expected someone to pop out from behind the ref with a beer bottle and smash it to pieces over Taue's head. Gordy and Kawada work an amazing countering of moves with Taue jumping in halfway that's really a step above most of the technical work displayed on the rest of this set. Doc comes in and is all submissions and just grinds bones together, as Gordy sticks to what he knows: haymakers and clotheslines, but it's a formula that's worked. I like Kawada and Doc kicking each other in the head while they are both in a leglock jockeying for position. Another Folding Powerbomb from Kawada to Gordy that's damn impressive. I see all of Goldberg's famous offense on display from Doc; i guess Billy boy studied some tapes at one time or another. 3 chokeslams from Taue is devastating, but lacks the creativity of a great finish.

4) MVC v. Stan Hansen/ Joel Deaton (06/27/93)- 3

Why the fuck is Doc wearing the Rick Steiner headgear? He reminds me of when they put those lampshades on dogs so they don't bite themselves. This is a mugging right from the beginning as Hansen is getting the tumbleweed kicked out of him. They toss Deaton to the floor several times but he does keep trying to put up a fight; but they overpower him and throw him away like a discarded condom wrapper. This one goes quick and Hansen straight got his ass whipped! After the match they toss him over the guardrail and Hansen goes on a belligerent tirade all across ringside, striking dojo boys, Deaton and anyone else in his way while falling all over himself. Quite a funny sight.

5) MVC v. Toshiaki Kawada/ Akira Taue (08/01/93)- 5

This starts out with some sloppy reversal stuff from Gordy and Taue; they look like two gays hopped on meth trying to fuck on the dance floor. Kawada uses kicks so effectively; he just hits his target every time. OH, SWEET MOLASSES, Kawada got KO'd- Doc just clocks him right in the grill and puts him on his keister. Doc does the ugliest cartwheel handspring these brown eyes have ever seen. This is the first time on the whole set where MVC's opponents went to work on a bodypart- this being Gordy's right leg. Didn't last long but he sold it well afterwards. The pace was extremely slow here, as they kept Taue in and just sapped his energy by locking him down in hold after hold on the mat. There was a cool spot where Doc and Kawada had a chop exchange and Doc turned it into a Stampede. In the end, their opponents stole their match-winning formula and got rid of Doc and just doubleteamed Gordy until he broke.

Well, this is the end of my journey through the large arenas of Japan and it's been quite a pleasure. Really reaffirms my choice for these guys to be in the prestigious NHO Hall of Fame. Hope you enjoyed.

Audio Review: TNA house show 6/22/08

Today’s update is a brand new audio review of a Cincinnati, OH TNA house show from this past weekend. Held in the historic Cincinnati Gardens (where I saw Muta work a main for NWA in ’89!) this was TNA’s first foray nearby so we felt obligated to go check it out. It’s definitely our most off the cuff audio review yet, as it was recorded in Adam’s car as we zipped around in a monsoon trying to make it to a late-night diner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ECW Hardcore TV- 11/19/96

1) Bubba Ray Dudley v. D-Von Dudley- 1
2) Sabu/ Rob Van Dam v. Doug Furnas/ Dan Kroffat- 4
3) 2 Cold Scorpio v. David (Morton/ Smith/ Jericho ?)- 2

This show blew harder than Francine backstage at the first Barely Legal PPV. Every match was clipped beyond all recognition, including the very match I ordered this tape for, the Sabu/RVD v. Furnas/Kroffat tag. But, first the Dudleys match- it was clipped down to a really pussy chair shot exchange and bunch of interference from quite possibly the two ugliest men to ever enter the ring ropes, Axl Rotten and Big Dick Dudley. The tag I remembered from my teenage youth as a awesome war but here was little more than the last 6 minutes of what was quite possibly a good match. The clip starts running as Sabu leaps up to the top rope and tries to ddt Kroffat through a table propped up on the guardrail but he pushes RVD in front of him and Sabu mistakenly DDT's his partner in an ugly, ugly botched spot. The vets control the rest of the match and sell Sabu and Van Dam's offense, as sloppy and unprepared as it may be, pretty well. RVD was extrememly green and is putting kicks right in these guy's faces. Overall, i would have rather left this match to my memory but like when you revisit anything from years gone past, it's never quite as good; case in point, the 80's film "Monster Squad." They showcased 2 Cold because he was leaving the fed against a very young Kid Kash who Joey Styles said "they didn't have a name for him yet." This was broken down into a series of crazy high flying moves and you could tell Kash was doing anything and everything he could to get noticed. Some more promos littered this show mostly centering on the Raven-Sandman family feud which produced a hilarious skit where Blue Meanie tried to entertain Sandman's son but got Legos thrown at him and then him opening up a present from his dad and Raven's subsequent reaction. I'm going to reiterate, that as far as in ring work, this was the shits.

Monday, June 23, 2008

ECW Hardcore TV- 11/12/96

1) Pitbull #2 v. The Pittsburg Steel Team- 1
2) Doug Furnas v. Louie Spicoli- 3
3) Shane Douglas v. Tommy Dreamer- 4

Some notes about ECW after watching this show: Joey Styles was a hell of a hype man and the promotion did a great job pushing the angles they wanted and got you into them. But, the unfortunate thing is most of them were crap. Let's look at some in ring- Pitbull #2 beat up two local guys in gold and yellow shirts fairly quickly and with no resistance but this was basically an excuse for Douglas and Brian Lee (who was all over this show) to put him through a table by being chokeslammed off a semi trailer. My reaction: "yah, another midcard guy got thrown through a table off something really high, i'm really marking out over that one, wonder what we have in the fridge?"

Then, we have Doug Furnas ( who was pretty good at playing cocky heel) just having his way with Spicoli until out of nowhere Madonna's boyfriend hits a Spicoli Driver out of nowhere for the pin. Spicoli's work was pretty amateurish, though- really bad facials and going from spot to spot without effectively selling anything. The main event was actually decent despite it's aging participants highlighted by Dreamer taking some hellacious bumps on some open folding chairs and selling the pain quite well. Douglas played frustrated heel but then the match just abruptly ends with Brian Lee (this fucker again?) showing up and decimating Dreamer. The show ends with a series of promos and I have to say, some of these were pretty entertaining: such as Raven and Sandman's wife cutting ha promo in a low lit room where she was wearing the title belt over her bare crotch; Saturn busting his own head open; and The Gangstas walking around a demolished house talking mad shit. But, the final one was really corny; Tommy Dreamer at a pay phone calling collect and asking for the DoubleCross Ranch. That's some shit you'd see in a fucking Michael Bay script.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grand Masters of Wrestling – Vol. 1

1. Ace Darling vs. Devon Storm – 4
2. “Iron” Mike Sharpe vs. King Kong Bundy – 2
3. Metal Maniac vs. Jimmy Snuka – 3

This is the third and final DVD of this series I own, this one being purchased at a party supplies store of all places, and actually ends up being the best of the batch which isn’t saying a whole lot. Independent wrestling in a school gymnasium just does something special for me, like grilled veggies, donkey shows, and reruns of The Wonder Years.

Devon went on to quasi-fame as Crowbar amongst other gimmicks, but looks especially foolish here with his long, blonde hair, pointy nose, and noticeable tremble as he tries to cut a promo in the locker room. Dawn Marie managed him, and looks rather delicious, a hell of a lot better than the sickeningly bloated version I recently saw on the retched November Reign reunion show DVD. Darling and Storm are former partners, so know each other well, and their match is a good mixture of basic back and forth stuff. The heel Storm mostly controls, doing blatantly “devious” things in attempt to illicit crowd heat from the Jersey slugs in attendance. Highlights include a plancha, sommersault plancha, two moonsaults, as well as the finish, a Darling super hurricanrana from the top. This is by far the best match on any of the three DVDs I’ve seen thus far.

Sharpe is supposed to wrestle Kamala but some guy named “Friday” runs out, looking like Kim Chee suffering from a heroin binge, and says Kamala was too afraid to fly to make it to the show. Bundy is the replacement, he starts off working over Sharpe who isn’t sure how to go about battling the behemoth, and Bundy’s visibly enjoying toying with Canada’s biggest turd. Steele gets in some licks, but it goes it to the floor where Bundy starts beating on Steele until they’re both counted out. What a waste. Why bring in a guy like Bundy to have him work a three-minute match with a shit finish?

Snuka and Maniac put me to sleep, granted it was 3AM, but I tried re-watching some of it and Maniac is to blame as he does nothing outside of tame rest holds throughout. Whenever Snuka’s on offense it starts picking up, but then he gets neutered, and we repeat this cycle again and again. This really blows, considered maybe I’d be better off watching YouTube matches like Didge, but upon second thought, I’m not the type to take the easy way out and must persist. Maniac looks like Crush in face paint and Zubaz. Ken Patera is helping out on commentary, and says a couple questionably perverted things, including earlier in reference to Darling doing a hurricanrana to Storm, “I’d like to see him do that one to Storm’s manager (Dawn Marie)” and chuckling to himself. Wait, so he wants to see Darling jump up onto Marie’s shoulders, his dick pressed firmly against her demure face, and then using his momentum, whip Marie tossing her several foot? What kind of fucked up fetish is that? Anyway, Snuka scores a win with a crossbody from the top, or “Superfly Splash” for the informed, ending this nightmare.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tombstone: Best of the Undertaker - Disc #1

1. The Undertaker vs. Hulk Hogan - (Survivor Series '91) - 4
2. The Undertaker vs. Yokozuna - Casket Match - (Royal Rumble '94) - 5
3. The Undertaker vs. Diesel - (WrestleMania XII) - 5
4. The Undertaker vs. Mankind - Buried Alive Match - (IYH: Buried Alive) - 7
5. The Undertaker vs. Mankind - (IYH: Revenge of the Taker) - 6
6. The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart - (SummerSlam '97) - 7
7. The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart - (One Night Only) - 6

I've been borrowing this DVD for a while from a friend and have finally set my sights on analyzing it completely. I didn't want to rush through it, so I implicitly made effort to study its contents, some sections I watched two, even three or more times. I've come upon some revelations after only one disc; the biggest being Undertaker is great in "big match" situations.

I remembered the match against Hogan from my youth, where I was destroyed seeing my hero befallen in combat. Sadly, the match doesn’t hold up well nowadays. This was very early Undertaker, so he was still really playing up the undead zombie aspect of his character, thus limiting him in as far as his performance goes. Hulk didn’t do a lot, either; one of his only offensive weapons was an eye rake, which he utilized over five times. The finish is flawed, too, as Ric Flair slides a steel chair into the ring for Undertaker to hit the “Tombstone” on, but it’s clear from the camera angle used that Hogan’s head doesn’t come nowhere close to hitting the foreign object. It’s important in the context of the emergence of one of the business’ great characters, but in terms of quality, it’s rather heinous.

The match against Yokozuna is a lot better. There’s a bunch of hoopla, interference, and garbage during the second-half of it, though. But, the first section is great, as Taker and Yoko just beat the hell out of each other, action spilling all over the ringside area. It’s especially remarkable watching Yoko work, for such a humongous guy, he feeds himself to Taker’s offense and bounces around bumping like Hennig or Waltman. As I mentioned, the rest of the match is built around at least a dozen guys running down to help beat down Undertaker. This gets really sloppy, out of control, and outrageous. There’s so many people in the ring at once, including some nice surprises like Great Kabuki and Tenyru, but Taker keeps resurging and fighting back and try as you might, it’s awfully hard to dispend belief during all this. Eventually, the heels stuff Taker into the casket, there’s a bunch of special effects and outlandish story development, but I won’t detail that here.

The match with Diesel at WrestleMania has some problems. It’s decent, bordering on good, but ultimately a lost opportunity. It starts with tons of fire, as both big men really bring it. My issue with it is the structuring, as several times Diesel is in control, essentially having Taker beaten, but instead of capitalizing he just lounges around the ring. Granted, the direction of his character had changed from a rugged face to an obnoxious, cocky heel, but all of the pretentious stalling fell fatally flat. Eventually it does cost him as Taker resurrects and hits his finishers to score the victory in underwhelming fashion.

The matches against Mankind are fantastic; I think Foley is arguably Taker’s greatest adversary, as he brought out the best in the “dead man.” I slightly preferred the Buried Alive match, but both bouts are really solid, full of back and forth action, big bumps, story progression, etc. The Buried Alive match feels like it has bigger scope, debuting that particular stipulation match, and the energy is palpable. Taker, as I stated, feels he has to up his game to beat such a deranged, twisted, freak, evidenced by one spot where he does an uncharacteristic plancha from the top turnbuckle ten-foot out onto Foley in the entrance aisleway. They don’t spend an overwhelming amount of time back at the giant dirt hill where the open grave is, they do tease it some, but it’s not the sole focus and I like that. The second match, while less dynamic, is arguably the better overall wrestling match. It’s way more controlled, not sprawling everywhere without restraint, and even more physical than its predecessor. Mankind is built as a legitimate threat which really helps sell the whole thing. There’s a lot of brutal stuff throughout, including Foley being shoved twice backwards, falling headfirst into the steel guardrail, Taker reversing a powerbomb on the floor by hitting a “Doomsday Piledriver” on Foley, sandwiching him against the steel ring steps in the process, and of course, the legendary table bump, where Foley goes headfirst through a table and what’s still to this day one of the most imaginative table spots ever. The ending of the second match is hampered by the aftermath activities, as a fireball spot goes awry, and in improvisational nature Taker literally burns Paul Bearer’s face off.

Both matches against Bret Hart are really topnotch, too. Bret, known as the “Hitman” and “Excellence of Execution” really lives up to his nicknames, as he just goes right after Taker unlike anyone else, picking him apart and getting the job done. Similar to the aforementioned Mankind series, I like the first match more due to its larger overlying scope, although the second is overall arguably superior albeit suffers a maligned ending. Shawn Michaels is the guest ref for the SummerSlam ’97 bout, and of course, gets involved in the ending as Bret spits on Shawn, but when Shawn retaliates with a brutal chair shot Bret ducks and Taker eats the impact and loses the match. The bulk of the match is built upon Bret dissecting his bigger opponent, really working over the lower back and left knee specifically. It’s nice to see the Taker look vulnerable, unlike the first match featured on the set. My favorite spot happens when Bret is about to superplex Taker from the top, Taker slips yet Bret remains standings, and like the consummate professional he is, keeps his composure and gets the spot off in a thrilling visual. The second match, from a UK pay-per-view, is much more back and forth, which I liked, as both guys dish it out and get their share of punishment, too. All things considered, it was shaping up to be a great match… until the ending. Bret’s head gets stuck in-between the top and middle ropes and they’re really locked tightly around his throat. Taker looks confused, comes over and throws some really questionable punches that don’t make contact to Bret’s exposed head, and the bell rings signifying the end of the match but they don’t really announce the specifics as to why or how.

Overall, my final verdict on disc number one is a solid thumbs up. While not necessarily his best matches, even from this particular era, it’s still serves as a decent collection, highlighting the dramatic rise of one of the industry’s best characters and big league workers. I already feel, upon studying this showcased work, I have a better understanding of “Booger Red” and his contributions to the sport I love. I’m eager to tackle the second and third discs and vigilantly analyze them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


CMLL 04/29/06

Ah, it's been a while, Lucha Libre- the dives, the pretty costumes, it feels like an Elton John concert that got out of control. Now, there are tons of hot mamas in skimpy bikini's to lead the competitors down the aisle. And a marvelous stage to make your entrance. But, let's get to the matches:

1) Heavy Metal/ Dos Caras jr/ Dr. Wagner v. Averno/ Mephisto/ Atlantis- 5

This is a really fast paced, fun 6 man that never slows down and doesn't worry about giving you a building story throughout; it's just a crazy war. The heel team (Damn, Lucha just has some of the best and most creative teams/ stables in the biz) looks like a Rogues Gallery from Flash Gordon. The faces are best on offense but the first caida gets swept by the heels with some nifty triple team moves. The faces gain a measure of revenge by hitting big planchas in the second caida and winning the fall with some fancy rollup pins. The third caida goes the longest as there's a good volley back and forth for control; I was really impressed with Dos Caras jr; he's a lot taller and stronger than most Luchadores, but he was quick, had some great power moves and could fly just as well as anyone else. Metal looks younger than he did 10 years ago, as does Atlantis, although he may be the Jr version. The finish was two finishers being hit at once by the faces, and Caras press slam into a German suplex about broke the poor neck of that Underworld heel.

2) Ultimo Guerrero v. Hector Garza- 4

This is one of the only times I've seen Guerrero and he's matured into quite a competitor. He rides Garza with ground works intersperesed with rollups and quick pins. The first 2 caidas go by quickly (what else is new?) with the score evened up. I'm not really digging Garza's heel persona even though greasy Mexican stripper type seems to be a natural fit. He can still fly and does during the final caida but his heel tactics come off flat and with no emotion behind them, such as putting his feet on the ropes. Guerrero ulimately takes it and we get a post-match Garza cry session; really hate his heel persona.

3) Tarzan Boy/ Rey Bucanero v. Mr. Aguila/ Damian 666 (Hair v. Hair Match)- 5

Man, there are some ugly mothers in this match! Aguila looks like he was kidnapped by the Jeff Hardy fans from TNA then left to die in the desert. His goatee is so Billy Goat Gruff and his outfit screams construction worker who raves. Anyways, 450 splash (hey, he can still do it!) and Muscle Buster from Damian wins the first fall. 2nd goes with quick rollups by the faces. Tarzan is pretty good here; really fun offense and he lays his overhand chops and elbows in really hard. 3rd Caida goes a while; Bucanero takes a powerbomb from the apron to the floor (one of the few times that spot has went off clean in recent years) and is hurt as Tarzan gets ganged up on by the two degenerates in the ring. They eliminate him and Bucanero comes back in and works an awesome babyface comeback, pinning Damian with a pretty cool move that looked like a powerbomb but upside down (hard to describe.) Aguila bumps well for Rey's comeback and the heels botch their own cheap finish to give Bucanero his moment in the sun. Face beatdown afterwards. Damian has to be near 50 but he didn't hamper this match at all; even though his face looks like a smashed chocolate cake.

CMLL- 02/11/07

1 Mistico v. Black Warrior- 6

Mistico is a much balleyhooed worker down across the borders these days and while I haven't seen much of him, he is impressive. He has gorgeous nipples. Black Warrior is looking like a Headbangers reject these days but the guys' eyes freak the hell out of me. The people are solidly behind Mistico and you can see he already has a built move set that he knows really well; a good sign he may be in America one day performing it. Warrior takes the first fall with a pretty cool submission and Mistico comes back with a good reverse to a magistral for the second. Now, the third fall is where it all takes place. They do a match equivalent to when in Japan, they have their trading clothesline spots; this one was suicide dives. They both keep trying to out top each other with crazy dives that are dangerously high risk. One really cool spot is where Warrior is on the ground with his head towards the apron and Mistico goes for an Asai and Warrior sticks his feet up into Mitsico's face; he sold it like he was Harvey Dent with a face full of acid. It was grand. But, the lucha kept piling on, with front somersaults, apron dives and hurricanrana. Back in the ring, Mistico wins it with his amazing tilt-a-whirl armbreaker finish that left me with a work rate boner. Bravo, muchachos!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Audio Review: FIP Impact of Honor

We've just posted a new audio review detailing our thoughts on FIP Impact of Honor. It's our first audio review in nearly a year, but expect more as we'll probably be doing them more regularly in the months to come. If you'd like to check out some of our old audio commentaries visit the NHO Audio Reviews section of our original site. That does it for this update, I'm off to go watch a couple hours of Diesel matches, enjoy the audio review, and check back often as we've got a lot of stuff planned for the remainder of the summer including Superbrawl week in early August. Later!

Best of The Miracle Violence Combination: Disc 2

1) MVC v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Toshiaki Kawada (02/26/91)- 5

This gets started in a hurry, wild stiff brawl with all four guys wailing away at each other wrapped in streamers. The faces got control and worked a good strategy of keeping Doc in by assualting him with quick offensive flurries then tagging out. Both guys were throwing great kicks, particularly spinning roundhouse and crescent kicks directly to Doc's cranium. Gordy finally got a tag in and then MVC used the same strategy by cutting off Kawada from his corner while Gordy pummeled his face with quick, brutal knees to the face.

This match had a slow pace because both teams were using submissions and wear down holds to tired their opponents out instead of high impact offense. In the end, MVC seperated and conquered as Gordy took Misawa out to the crowd and powerbombed him on the concrete while Doc beat on Kawada. The finish got pretty sloppy though as Kawada desperately tried to fight back and MVC were really off the mark trying to finish the match; a messy clothesline attempt finally did the trick. Not their best work.

2) MVC v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Toshiaki Kawada (07/24/91)- 7

Misawa and Gordy start the match off and they both looked pissed! They are just destroying each other's faces with hard elbows; I'd really like to see a singles match these two had around this era. MVC aren't playing around this time and they single out Misawa, just pounding him into the mat allowing him no room to breathe. There's a great camera shot where he's trapped in kind of a semi-sleeper on the mat and the camera is right in his face as he pleads for mercy. Then, Doc gets up and stomps his head in a brutal image. This match is a lot more physical than the last one, as both teams seem to realize that maybe the submission strategy isn't how they are going to win.

Misawa hurts his leg this time around and Kawada is left on his own to fight off the two giant bears that are trying to maul him in the ring. Misawa makes a quicker recovery this time but the blood is in the water and they sharks swarm around his leg, decimating it with mean kicks and dropping serious elbows on the injured appendage. Misawa, of course, sells it to the fullest. Then, Gordy decides to take Kawada out of the picture and takes him to the crowd and delivers a coma-inducing piledriver to the concrete. Misawa never gives up though and reverses some great moves to finally hit a quick rollup pin for the upset victory. Dynamic performance from the great man in the green and white. You can see how great he and Kawada will be, even though at this stage they just aren't capable of having a 10 yet.

3) MVC v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Toshiaki Kawada (12/06/91)- 8

Doc is pissed off and looks like he hasn't eaten in a few days; he starts out the match and just wraps his elbow around Kawada's head then nearly KO's him with a clothesline in the corner. The violence level has been turned up another notch in this match. Gordy and Misawa get in and have another elbow exchange that more deadly than an LA gang shooting. Misawa and Kawada took the belts in the last match and this time they control the pace with Misawa shining on offense, just running through moves like a fucking jazz musician blasting a solo in a low lit nightclub. It's a thing of beauty.

Doc and Gordy rarely lost in Japan so this is a match where they are trying to win back their pride, being upset by the young guns who were poised to take over All Japan on the heels of Baba and Jumbo's walk off into the sunset. I hate Doc's hold onto the rope bump- it's so obviously protected and unnecessary. The last 10 or so minutes is what makes this thing so damn hot: the other 2 matches have led up to this one, as Misawa gets tackled outside and is laid out again, just like in the first two matches. But, this time Kawada is fighting on all cylinders and catches Doc with a jump kick to the back of the head, which causes him to spill outside the ring! so, the sides are evened up finally as Kawada and Gordy trade near falls with big power moves. Doc recovers first and you think MVC is going to win this one like the first match but right in the nick of time Misawa recovers and makes the save, then they all start hitting huge finishing moves and breaking up near falls until the devastating last move which gives MVC the win! Epic encounter and a brilliant series.

I think this is the team that made Gordy and Doc wrestle stiff!

4) MVC v. Jumbo Tsuruta/ Akira Taue (10/11/92)- 5

I believe this is right near the end of their WCW run. Jumbo is near the end of his career and Taue is still greener than the Riddler's bowler, so this is an interesting combination. Jumbo is hugely over and some of it is rubbing off on Taue. He is bumping and working well with the gaijins who are working a very American style, everything telegraphed, moving from spot to spot in a natural progression usually resorting to forearms and boots to get there. Taue is easily manipulated for the bulk of the match and kept in the MVC corner where he's worked over, but you never feel like he's in danger. Doc does a lot of throws and slams but a lot of it just seems like slop. Jumbo wasn't very mobile and took no bumps for the majority of this match. Taue did a crazy suicide dive halfway through and Jumbo hit his famous back drop near the end for a breathtaking near fall. In a huge shock, Taue went over after several chokeslams and a few really good near falls.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NWA Fiesta Lucha!

1. Young Bucks vs. Midnight Dynamite vs. RGO vs. JJ Perez and TJ Perkins Tommy Wong – 3
2. Peter Goodman vs. The Mighty KAFU – 2
3. Colt Cabana and “Sexy” Sony Sampson vs. Ricky Reyes and Bobby Jo Marshall – 2
4. 25 Man “King of the Summit” Battle Royal – 5
5. Los Pochos Guapos vs. Matt Classic and Human Tornado – 4
6. Los Luchas (Zokre and Phoenix Star) vs. Real American Heroes (Joey Ryan and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson) – Flag Match – 4
7. Adam Pearce vs. Nelson Creed – 3
8. El Hijo Del Santo and Billy Kidman vs. Super Parka and Nicho El Millonario – 4

I scored this DVD from the local library and was excited to give it a spin. The show is mostly made up of west coast independent workers, including former WSX and XPW guys, some lucha luminaries, and the rest from NWA territorial companies. Production on the DVD is moderately good, with acceptable lighting and editing, although the steady camera shot is somewhat lopsided, and the commentary isn’t thoroughly dislikable although it straddles the line. The opening four-team tag doesn’t do much to get you out of your seat, hollering and shouting, involved in the action as it unfolds in front of your eyes. However, there is a decent heel and face dynamic, with two of the teams being fresh-faced, young, good guys, and the other two teams being pudgier, cheating, bad guys. TJ Perkins is advertised on the back of the DVD case but is nowhere to be found. His replacement? Tommy Kim. You can imagine my lack of excitement. This isn’t actively bad, though, just deserving of its opening slot.

Goodman looks like a mixture of Simon Dean and Petey Williams on the Arby’s diet. His opponent, KAFU, is a huge Brazilian beast, and I’m surprised he hasn’t had WWE executives knocking at his door with his impressive look. They do the familiar little guy versus behemoth match, void of any memorable moments outside of KAFU dragging Peter around the arena by his ear. I was really disappointed with the following tag, especially considering it included two former ROH guys. Bobby Jo plays a white trash, skinhead, John Cena with sneakers, baggy black jean shorts, and crewcut. Sampson and Cabana were all about the comedic stuff, as expected, but sadly there was little else to this match.

I actually really enjoyed the battle royal. While yes, there were moments of pure indy excrement, it felt strangely like an authentic ‘80’s battle royal, with clearly defined roles and other recognizable institutions. Every 45 seconds another competitor would join the fray so it kept moving at a brisk pace. One of the dumbest contrivances was near the end; about ten guys got eliminated but instead of going to the back like everybody else, just stood around waiting. I predicted someone would get tossed onto them, and of course, some small guy ran in only to be thrown onto the group of milling idiots standing around aimlessly. The following tag was pretty decent, too, featuring former WSX heels Los Pochos Guapos doing their “we’re partners but pissed at each other” shtick still. This was my first glimpse at Matt Classic, a very interesting character, basically take Captain America’s origin story and put a wrestler in place of a solider. He was a grappler in the late 1930’s but suffered a coma and was just recently awakened. His mannerisms and style are very old school, and at one point, he was distracted by a cameraman’s headset and it cost his team. I’m usually not a sucker for such obvious characters (Eugene, El Generico, The Shark, etc.) as their shelf life is about as long as my last bowel movement, but I admittedly sort of dig this concept in a ridiculous sort of way. The match ran about ten minutes, but thus far, featured the fastest and hardest-hitting action of the show; coincidently that’s not saying a whole lot.

The flag match featured some pretty decent wrestling, probably the best glimpse of contemporary stuff, and while being entertaining, it suffered some serious logical flaws given the flag stipulation. To win, you could either score a pin or grab your country’s native flag, but the flags were merely stuck on opposing turnbuckles and any of the guys could have easily, at any time, just reached over and grabbed theirs. Instead, they worked choreographed spots, defying all rational, as if you were trying to win, or at least give the impression you were, you’d at least tease going for the flags. Ryan and Anderson play pretty decent heels, working up the crowd playing racist roles. Los Luchas did an awesome double-team combo where one of them slingshot Ryan into their partner’s “Buff Blockbuster” with Ryan taking the bump on the first partner’s knees. The heels hugely fucked up their big double-team, as Anderson was supposed to toss one of the lucha guys into a mid-air superkick by Ryan, but the guy landed right square on his ass before Ryan even threw his shitty savate.

If you’ve seen one shitty Adam Peace stall-a-thon than you’ve seen ‘em all. It didn’t help matters that Creed looked greener than Doc Samson’s pubic hair. Pearce does some decent facial sells, but it takes a lot more than that in my estimation to call yourself NWA champion. The main event was slightly disappointing, as you can tell at this point in all their respective careers these guys don’t put forth that much effort. Santo looked the best, some dispute El Hijo is better than his father, the legendary Santo, and while that’s arguable, I’d wager more Mexican banks have been robbed by people wearing his mask than any other. Santo busted out some crazy old man spots with some gigantic dives, topes, etc. He nearly crushed Super Parka’s skull from a giant splash off the top turnbuckle out onto Parka on the floor. Another thing that really ruined this was the heel announcer going on and on about Billy Kidman’s newfound gut—all right, I get it already, he’s fucking fat! So what? Kidman’s a chubby, bloated guy now… as long as he still throws a competent dropkick and jerks off to his ex-wife Torrie Wilson’s Playboy than he’s aces in my book.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment 3-Disc Set

Disc 1:
1) Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Raw 2/13/97) – 5
2) The Rock vs. Owen Hart – 4
3) The Rock vs. Triple H (Raw 6/22/98) – 4
4) The Rock vs. Mankind (Survivor Series 98) – 5
5) The Rock vs. Mankind – Last Man Standing Match (In Your House) – 6
6) The Rock vs. Mankind – Ladder Match (Raw 2/15/98) – 5
7) The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WM 15) – 5

I tried to like the first match but it came off a bit flat. You could clearly tell that Hunter was having to control the match because Rock was still green. The inside cradle for the surpise finish was nice. I really liked the end because Rock was selling great and it came from out of nowhere. The next two bouts were throwaway Raw bouts with contrived endings, most notably in the Owen match where Chyna hits Owen with a bat where the padding is so obvious Stevie Wonder could see it. Having just watched the Rock/Mankind “I Quit” match days earlier, I was really interested to see how their other matches were. Needless to say, as as you can tell by the scores, I was a little disappointed. In the first bout from Survivor Series ’98, where the whole show was a one night WWF title tournament, you could tell they were gassed as they had both worked three matches prior to it. There were a few wild spots that bumped up the score. Off the top of my head there was Rock pounding Mankind with steps and a chair and Mankind jumping off the apron to deliver an elbow to Rock who was on one of the announce tables. The last man standing match was interesting because they were trying to do stuff that they hadn’t done in the “I Quit” match the month prior, which is the main reason I gave it the score I did. Not because the match was quality just because they were trying to be different. The ladder match from the next night was on par with the match from Survivor Series as they were obviously hurting from the night before but they did their best and then I saw Big Show run down and chokeslam Mankind off a ladder. Finally, the match with Stone Cold was typical of main events of the attitude era with three ref bumps, brawling outside the ring, and interference from Vince. Rock’s selling of the stunners was kinda cool but outside of that nothing made it really memorable but it was acceptable and holds a place in my heart because WM 15 was the first pay-per-view show I ever ordered.

Disc 2:
1) The Rock vs. Triple H – Steel Cage Match (Raw 7/5/99) – 5
2) The Rock & Mankind vs. The Big Show & The Undertaker – 3
3) The Rock vs. Kane – No Holds Barred Match – 5
4) The Rock vs. Triple H (Backlash 00) – 5
5) The Rock vs. Shane McMahon – Steel Cage Match – 4
6) The Rock vs. Kurt Angle – 5
7) The Rock vs. Booker T – 5
8) The Rock vs. Chris Jericho – 6

The cage match with Triple H was decent. The story behind it was that HHH cost Rock the WWF Title at the King of the Ring so their having a cage match to settle their differences. The only memorable thing from it was HHH eating some serious cage after a slingshot. The tag match was very bland and the only thing I remember from it is ‘Taker walking out on Big Show halfway through thus allowing Rock and Mankind to win the tag titles. The match-up with Kane was from a Smackdown episode in December 99. There were a few bumps and brawling early on but the match was over in almost five minutes. Another match with Triple H and yet another epic fail follows the Kane match. You could tell instantly that the focus would be on the story and not on the wrestling the minute Shane McMahon came out as the referee. The match itself was pretty good aside from the story. There was a sick double rock bottom spot on the spanish announce table and the crowd was super hot. Stone Cold runs out to help Rock fight off the McMahon-Helmsley regime and Rock wins the title which sets up the cage match with Shane. Again, the story got in the way of the match which dropped the score a point. Patterson and Brisco were interfering as was HHH so yeah. The Angle match was from No Way Out 2001 and featured the most random spot ever when Big Show came out and chokeslammed everyone about halfway through the match. Aside from that and a completely botched finish by the ref, the match was top notch, although those two things hurt the score. The Booker T match was fun but you could tell that Booker was still trying to get used to the WWF style as opposed to the WCW style. Some decent stuff and Rock wins the WCW Title in a completely forgettable moment. Lastly, the match with Jericho from Royal Rumble ’02 wasn’t quite as good as I remember it being but I still liked it enough to put it in the recommended range. They kept a good pace and unlike the other title matches on this disc there was minimal interference, except from Lance Storm and Christian, and only two … count ‘em two … ref bumps. Jericho uses the old feet on the ropes trick to get the win.

Disc 3:
1) The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan – 7
2) The Rock vs. The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle – 7
3) The Rock vs. Eddie Guerrero – 5
4) The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WM 19) – 4

The final disc kicks off with the Rock/Hogan match from WrestleMania 18. While the actual work in the match may not have been the best, the crowd was absolutely eating everything up which helped the score. Rock’s selling for Hogan’s limited offense was great, teasing the win with Hogan hitting the big boot and the legdrop was great, and the crowd was on the edge of their seats. The triple threat match was excellent. All three guys were working their asses off and Angle was bleeding a gusher. The all hit each other’s finishers (ex: ‘Taker hitting the Angle Slam) in order to try to put each other away. A lot of craziness and a whole lot of fun. The match with Eddie is totally random but was a lot better than I though it would come out. They kept up a quick pace and there was a really smooth spot where Eddie counters a rock bottom into a roll-up. Finally, there’s the match with Austin from WM 19 which was Austin’s last match. You could clearly tell Austin was hurting something awful as Rock controlled the majority of the match. The finish saw Rock hit three rock bottoms and each one, judging by the reaction of Austin’s face, hurt more and more.

Overall, this was a fun set to watch. A lot of TV matches were featured on here that I have no memory of and the pay-per-view bouts were fun to watch as well. The third disc is also littered with Rock’s best promos and one-liners so feel free to check those out as well.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WCW Great American Bash '90: New Revolution

The opening to this show is just fantastic, as while the opening credits and graphics are rolling, cued with some fabulously cheesy music, we see great images of American lore but with WCW wrestlers taking the places of historic legends. Imagine the iconic image of George Washington and his crew on their epic boat trek over the Delaware, but substitute those guys with Ric Flair and the rest of the Four Horsemen and you’ll get the picture.

1. Buddy Landel vs. Flyin' Brian Pillman – 6

Buddy Landel and Pillman was such a better match than I anticipated. I don’t know if these guys had real legit backstage heat, but if not, they were just phenomenal actors, as the hatred was palpable. Landel was especially nasty, laying in some hard shots, including clubbing forearms to the back and nasty boots right to the face of a fallen Pillman. There was one really memorable spot when Landel was in the corner and Pillman rushed in at him, only to be met by a sickening clothesline that crumpled Brian. The story revolved around Landel having the advantage in only one category, experience, and he used his cunning to control most of the bout. In fact, when Pillman did score the victory, it was off a surprise crossbody off the top.

2. Iron Sheik vs. Captain Mike Rotunda – 3

This was my first time I can recall seeing Rotunda in his “Captain” sailing gimmick, and yes, it translates about as lame as you’d expect. This match was interesting, but ultimately kind of sad. These two worked each other in some classic WWF tag wars during their respective career heydays. While Mike breaks a serious sweat, works hard, and seems to be game for just about anything, Sheik has already transformed into walking shtick. All of the bantering and posing he does to rile up the crowd is fine in context, but it appears obvious he relies on it often due to just being too blown up to keep up with the crux of the job. Rotunda counters a double-underhook suplex into a backslide for the win, but appears to have hurt an arm in the process, and looks legitimately pissed off after, brushing the ref off like he was a hater. Then, to my stupefaction, the camera films Sheik, back up doing his shtick, oblivious to the fact he just lost a match, doing the same routine he’d continue doing on the independent circuit for years to come.

3. Dutch Mantell vs. Doug Furnas - 4

I hadn’t seen dirty Dutch in awhile, but damn, his body hair is enough to make me lose my lunch. Doug Furnas I’m more familiar with for his AJPW stint, so I assume he was greener back then, but was excited to see what he’d offer. Furnas starts off hot, looking like an incredible specimen, doing some really nice athletic looking leapfrogs, etc. Instead of putting the newcomer Furnas, who they were building as the “strongest man in the world” over big, they actually give this time and Mantell controls the bulk of it. Dutch, as mentioned earlier, isn’t pretty to look at, but does a moderately good job playing bitter old heel. Mantel’s groundwork is lacking, as his armbar variations aren’t stellar, but he has a beautiful short lariat, which he busts out twice, including once on the floor in a great spot. The finish sort of comes from nowhere, which I tend to dig, as Furnas hits a quick belly-to-belly suplex on Mantel for the victory.

4. Harley Race vs. "Wildfire" Tommy Rich - 5

Back in April of ’81 a fiery Tommy Rich shocked the wrestling world be beating Harley Race for the NWA championship in one of the biggest upsets in our beloved sports’ history. Now, some nine years later, these two lock it up again to continue their feud. It stars off with a quick pace, which even surprises the announcers, and never truly slows down entirely. Race is the aggressor throughout, just pounding on Rich, utilizing some of his signature moves like the flying knee. They claimed Rich dropped nearly thirty pounds leading up to the bout, and he didn’t look too bad, outside of his grotesque forehead that looked like the tracks at Grand Central Station. There are a few notable spots, like Race busting out a weak suplex on the entrance ramp, and both guys taking a wild fall over the top rope to the floor together. The finish is great psychology, as Rich comes off the top with a crossbody, but Race blocks the very move that’s cost him titles in the past, by using the momentum to roll through and get the pin.

5. Southern Boys vs. Midnight Express - 8

I’m going to come right out and say that this an excellent tag team match. The Southern Boys of Steve Armstrong (who I’ve never seen look better) and Tracy Smothers are riding a big wave of momentum going in, and this being their first pay-per-view appearance, it appears they’re primed to win the titles. The first act is built around Eaton getting handled, eating a lot of the faces’ stuff, but not tagging out to Lane. The second act is a hilarious karate exhibition, as Lane and Smothers face off in the center of the ring, busting out some outrageous poses and kicks. The extended third act is simply pure hotness. This last portion of the match features several breathtaking nearfalls, both for the good and bad guys, and is done expertly. One thing you notice about the Midnight Express, is that even though they’re obviously the heels, the crowd actually pops huge for them, especially their fluid teamwork and double-team maneuvers. In a thrilling finale, the Express finally get the victory, but the match was executed in a way where everybody, including the fans, was a winner.

6. Z-Man vs. Big Van Vader - 3

This was Vader’s “North American debut” and he came to ringside with his humongous wooly mammoth-inspired helmet that shot smoke for some unknown reason. This was a pretty quick squash, establishing Vader as the monster we all now know him to be. He laid in his shots, but nothing too extremely stiff, unfortunately. Vader scored the win, it’s just a shame he wasn’t using the powerbomb as a finisher yet, I’d have loved to seen Zenk get decimated.

7. Steiner Bros. vs. Fabulous Freebirds - 6

This was two of arguably the early-‘90’s premier teams squaring off to my amusement. The Freebirds look especially queer here, rocking lipstick and tons of eye makeup, and I almost failed to mention, glorious ponytails. The Steiners are so explosive and over here that’s it difficult to seriously buy the Freebirds as tough opposition, but the heels do get the advantage a few times, and Hayes’ trademark left-handed punch makes a lovely cameo. Rick and Scott throw some huge suplexes throughout, and Rick even dumps Hayes nastily with a double-underhook powerbomb in one memorable spot. They’re capable of achieving higher scores, but it seems that there’s no real solid story in this one, just a chance for the Steiners to regain some heat and momentum in their quest to reclaim the tag belts.

8. Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, and Sid Vicious vs. “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, El Gigante, and Junkyard Dog – 3

This is a pretty short throwaway bout designed to introduce the world to El Gigante. Most of its short duration is built around the heels backpedaling from the good guys. Anderson, while only involved a short while, does some of his classic antics like scrambling around the mat and begging off. I’d forgot how limited Junkyard Dog was at this point, doing nothing but slow punches and his trademark headbutts. I don’t particularly buy Orndorff as a face, either. The heels intentionally get themselves disqualified before Gigante even gets in the ring, but he lumbers in afterwards and shoves them out to the crowd’s apathetic reaction.

9. “Mean” Mark Callous vs. Lex Luger - 5

Before the cusps of a great career as The Undertaker, Callous looked pretty good here, decent muscle definition, and his ratty red hair was easy to dislike. Luger is known (and generally loathed) for being strictly a formula wrestler. However, given the right performers, his formula is sometimes enjoyable to watch. A good example of this would be when a young guy like Brian Pillman would get Luger to raise his game, adjust, and work harder than normal. This is more of a typical Luger formula, he walks around on his knees wincing in pain, but eventually finds the fire to fight back, then you repeat the cycle a few more times. The announcers predicted it’d be more of a “vertical” match, doubting there’d be much groundwork involved, but instead, there are a few sections of limb control stuff that’s not too hackneyed. Luger gets the win with a clothesline relatively out of the blue.

10. Doom vs. Rock ‘N Roll Express - 5

There’s a real interesting dynamic here between two culturally accepted yet radically stereotypical persona definitions. I think this would make a much more interesting sociology term paper than wrestling match. A kind of by-the-numbers affair, mostly Doom controlling things, with Gibson and Morton seemingly especially languid. The only notable moment in my mind was a chinlock that Morton sold by cringing his hands up all weirdly, like he was a disingenuous kid on a playground doing a crude impression of a mentally retarded person. Butch Reed gets his team the victory with a flying shoulderbock from the top rope on Gibson.

11. Sting vs. Ric Flair - 7

This is the grand finale to an excellent show. I remember a couple years back surprisingly coming across this on a WWE-produced Great American Bash show DVD while hanging out with fellow writer Jessie. At the time we scoffed at, I guess we didn’t feel it lived up to its legacy, and the short duration of the match played a large role in that. I wanted to see it again, but I kept falling in and out of sleep during my first foray into finishing this disc, but I’d had a long day at that point. Not satisfied with a halfhearted viewing, I went back to watch it again, this time sitting on the edge of my seat and watching extremely closely.

And you know what I found out? This match is freaking tits! I loved it. Sting’s got his posse the “Dudes With Attitudes” (such a corny name in retrospect) at ringside so Flair’s henchmen won’t interfere. Sting had been out of action for a while with a knee injury, so this was his big return and they’d built it up gigantically. I still remember that summer being seven (I’d turn eight only nine days later) and watching this and really digging Sting’s red, white, and blue facial paint and ring attire. This is classic Flair, too, rocking the delicious sky blue trunks and some sea green boots.

The whole dynamic of the match is that no matter what Flair does he can’t beat Sting’s heart. Right off the bat Flair backs Sting into the corner and hits him with a massive chop, Sting just stares him down, and you can see in Flair’s eyes the realization that this isn’t going to be easy. Throughout the match Sting does this a lot, just taking brutal chops right in the chest, until its looks like hamburger meat as its transformed into a collage of busted blood vessels. The guys out on the floor never really distract you, also Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante on the entrance ramp, but that’s even a distant footnote to the story unfolding in the ring. Usually I harp on people (like Ultimate Warrior) when they just brush off offense and don’t sell it; but, when Sting does it here, it’s beautiful as it depicts the adversity he’s overcame to get back from his debilitating injury and go after the world’s greatest wrestler. Sting blocks a “Figure Four” attempt and rolls up Flair for the win and championship as the crowd erupts in one of my all-time favorite closing moments of a major wrestling pay-per-view.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Best of The Miracle Violence Combination: Disc 1

It is my honor to review this wonderful 3 disc set of the MVC, which fellow reviewer Didge so graciously purchased on my behalf. These guys were my inductees into 2nd class Hall of Fame and arguably the greatest gaijin tag team to ever compete in Japan, as well as probably my favorite tag team of all time. Both guys are brute force, awesome physicality and love to fight- 3 wonderful qualities I love to see in any competitor. So, let's get to it:

1) MVC vs. Tiger Mask II (Misawa) & Shinichi Nakano (03/31/90)- 5

This match is your basic power vs. speed battle. Tiger Mask and Nakano zip around the ring trying to use high flying to dazzle their larger opponents which worked for a majority of the match until Nakano was singled out. He clearly is lacking the skills his partner, future Misawa, possessed. Gordy was cracking me up; he has a really stiff body slam where he scoops you up, then basically drops you. Well, he would do this to Nakano then as soon as he hit the mat, he would stare over at Mask daring him to do something. Nakano was their Tina Turner in this match, just being annihilated and offering no offensive answer. Mask's flurry near the end of the match was the only damage done to Williams or Gordy.

2) MVC v. Stan Hansen/ Dan Spivey (04/19/90- PWF/ International Tag Title Match)- 6

This one opened with a really intense lockup between Doc and Spivey that spilled out to both sides of the arena floor. Early on, you could tell no one was trying to win; this was just a fight, a smattering of shoulder tackles, clotheslines and body slams. Spivey was on the low end of the spectrum as far as skill, Hansen out shining him at every tag. Hansen was also immensely popular, easily the most loved in the match. Doc came in and tried to provide some actual wrestling at one point, but Gordy was way more concerned with just a an all out war. He and Hansen had some leathery exchanges that made me go take an Excedrin just watching. Hansen teased his lariat very well and by the time he went for it, the crowd was starving to see it. Fun finish as Doc busts out an Oklahoma roll unexpectedly. This was pretty stiff stuff.

3) MVC v. Giant Baba/ Jumbo Tsuruta (05/14/90)- 6

This match had a much more slow and deliberate pace. I like Doc's psych on the apron; he always warms up before he gets in the ring by stretching his arms on the ring ropes, or doing knee bends, or cracking his neck, like he's about to fight. Gordy has one of the most unstoppable clotheslines in the history of the business; extrememly underrated. Baba doesn't sell all, not emotionally or facially but he will take a random bump. Doc sells big for him, like a Vaudeville actor, but Gordy don't take the old Jap's guff and lays in shots to him, but you can still tell how much respect the wrestlers and especially the fans have for Baba. Jumbo is definitley the workhorse for their team, but Doc and Gordy know that and keep him grounded and beat down, even at the expense of having a more competitive and really great match; now that's psych! Jumbo's sells are extrememly expressive; you know exactly what the pain in his neck feels like because you've made that same face that he makes when Doc lets off of a chinlock on him; damn, he's so good, if you were a doctor, you could probably guess which vertebrae was bothering him by his sell.

The finish just kicks this up a notch; Baba gets whipped into the corner and hits hard and wrong. He slumps down in a heap because he is seriously hurt. The wrestlers and the ref buy a lot of time for him but he never gets up....until Gordy slowly pulls him from his pain and powerbombs him right on his neck! And the old fart kicks out! Then, Gordy hits his mack truck clothesline and gets the duke. Really fun match.

4) MVC v. Bam Bam Bigelow/ Davey Boy Smith (06/10/90)- 4

I was disappointed in this match, one because it was clipped at some point (not sure where or how much is missing), and two, it's not very good. The two things that you'll get out of this one is how good Bam Bam sells and how much Davey Boy and MVC didn't work well together. Bulldog press slams both guys and then immediately after that, Doc comes in and press slams Davey Boy, and presses him up and down a few times as if he was a 80lb. pound stripper at the local sleaze club for men. Bam Bam is hitting great offense, dropkicks, headbutts and taking some shots including a devastating back drop from Doc and a ball shot that he sells better than DeNiro could. 6 minutes later, on the apron, you still see him selling it.....oh, guess he really got kicked in the twig and berries. There are a couple of blown spots with Davey Boy and both guys, and some no selling from him and Doc at one point where they screw up a back body drop then both guys try and recover and they look like they're dancing together while drunk. Normal powerbomb finish doesn't do this match any favors either.

5) MVC v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Toshiaki Kawada (date unknown)- 6

The future rivals were looking all Bambi-like, doe-eyed and young. But, even at a young age, we see evidence of what both guys are known for: laying in some heavy artillery (Misawa with elbows, and Kawada with kicks.) After getting this far into the MVC set, a surprise occurred to me: Gordy works stiffer than Doc! He never backs off any of his shots in matches, especially this one, taking great delight in turning Kawada's face into mud with forearms and his ultra-hurty clotheslines. Doc does a good bit of psych at one point where he comes in the ring and as the ref comes over to tell him to leave, he goes right back out affording Gordy a moment's notice to deliver an illegal shot.

Kawada gains a second wind and levels Doc with several impactful knees to the face and then gives him a sharp guardrail bump. He is kept in the ring most of the match, with not a lot of showy offense, just some ground and pound, so when Misawa comes in, he goes on a tear with an offensive flurry that would leave Muhammed Ali in a daze. Doc and Gordy are over huge in Japan as heels at this time and Misawa knows to give some of his famous stoic facials to really get the crowd behind him. Interesting finish to the match as well. There are still at least 4 other matches between these two teams left on the set, so I'm sure they will only get better.

6) MVC v. Stan Hansen/ Dan Spivey (12/07/90- Finals of PWF/International Tag Title Tournament)- 7

THIS IS ONE BIG STIFF MESS! Hansen decides he needs to be a little more active in this one since Spivey blew it last time. He calls out Doc right from the beginning and you hate to use the phrase "two bulls that locked horns in a china Shop" but my god does that cliched line come to mind! These two rough and tumble like two big tractor-trailers that collided and rolled off a highway interstate down into a ravine below. Hansen proves just because you're a big fat Texan doesn't mean you can't bump after Doc gives him a chop that sends him over the guardrail on the outside, landing on concrete; luckily his thick skull was there to break the fall.

Spivey really hasn't improved but every chance he gets to throw a sloppy big boot at someone's face, he takes it. MVC's team work is great; ex: Gordy drags Spivey into their corner, Doc spins him around and gives him a right hand to the face but as Spivey throws his hand back to retaliate, Gordy schoolboys him from behind. The end was turning into a giant free for all- there was a section where a submission move would get put on, and every single time the other guy's partner would come in to break it up with a stiff shot. The match was bordering on 35 minutes strong when Hansen finally signaled for the lariat. The finish was spectacular because Hansen and Spivey had finally gained the advantage and as Hansen ran for his finishing move, Doc scooped him up into an Oklahmoa Stampede and it's history. Huge celebration after match with oversized checks (yeah!), trophies, streamers and Tag Team Gold! Onto Disc 2~

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ROH Supercard of Honor III

1. Delirious vs. Go Shiozaki - 4
2. Kenny King, Sal Rinuaro, and Chasyn Rance vs. Bushwhacker Luke, Alex Payne, and Dingo - 3
3. Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens - 8
4. Briscoe Bros. vs. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black - Relaxed Rules Match - 3
5. Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. BxB Hulk & SHINGO - 5
6. Nigel McGuinness vs. Austin Aries – 6
7. Typhoon (CIMA, Dragon Kid, and Ryo Saito) vs. Muscle Outlawz (Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino,and Genki Horiguchi) – 7

I need to stress off the bat, I watched this show in the company of fellow writers Jessie and Didge, and while we certainly indulged, watching in a group environment doesn’t generally lead to the clearest recollections. It’s easy to get caught up in conversation, digressions, hilarity, etc. So, while no notes were taken, and not as many details committed to memory as usual, I still felt obligated to give some feedback on such a highly touted show, and one our source Spoon so graciously handed over to us.

Delirious does a lot of playing to the crowd, per normal, and Shiozaki goofs along with his freaky opponent instead of mauling him as my heart desired. Granted, Delirious has built up a decent following, but I would have rather seen Shiozaki booked against any number of guys not featured on this showcase show, including Davey Richards, Ruckus, Necro Butcher, and dare I say it, even Jack Evans. The six-man tag was a throwaway bout, pure and simple, and while Luke worked Florida in his heyday, he should be barred from the state whenever a wrestling show is scheduled there unless he’s incarcerated.

Strong and Stevens was a spectacular, hard-hitting fight that resulted in one of the most refreshing and exhilarating experiences I’ve had watching ROH in years. Within minutes Strong’s chest is bleeding from brutal chops, and the viciousness continues, as these guys go all out here. While not on the level of a Kawada versus Misawa clash, I did see a glimpse of their epic battles in this, and that’s a very exciting thing to witness as a wrestling fan.

I’m sure there are some people pimping the “Relaxed Rules” hardcore spot fest, but seriously, this was poorly executed, wrought with no logic, and a slap in the fans’ faces. Do I dig people hurting each other? In the right context, hell yes, I enjoy it on par with a fine steak and raspberry martini. But therein is the problem, there wasn’t any context here, no elevating story or escalating intensity. You start off with a dozen giant bumps as they brawl all over the arena, but face facts, you could take any one of those outrageous bumps, and Triple H could use it (and just that one big bump—no others) building it into the story of a match and craft it to make it actually mean something. Are you following me? And worse, after slamming each other on tons of chairs, the cement floor, and so on, they end up back in the ring where they begin working traditional spots, totally disregarding the sheer barbarism of the earlier brawl. Are you kidding me? This sucks Jigsaw’s puzzling phallus.

BxB Hulk is a riot to watch dance, his wrestling isn’t too shabby, either. Steen and Generico have put on some really entertaining matches the last year, although Generico needs a new character and Steen a healthy diet. These teams matched up well on paper, and delivered a fine, but ultimately forgettable match for the Orlando mutants in attendance. Aries and McGuinness had a fairly solid match, too—although their recent pay-per-view outing was superior in every way. Still, there were some memorable sequences and bumps, excluding Aries’ eyesore brown trunks, and flashbacks to Nigel’s former HWA valet and her waistline. The main event was wild, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable. Dragon’s Gate shined, as six of their top guys worked their asses off, and while the bulk of this match seemed oddly familiar, you can’t deny the skill and effort involved. My only real complaint is the last act, as there are several instances of guys kicking out of monstrous moves like top-rope brainbusters, etc. when they should be incapacitated, which comes to a crescendo as Yoshino kicks out of a handful of pins before finally succumbing in a cringe-worthy climax.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ROH: Glory by Honor VI: Night Two- 11/03/07

I attended Night one with fellow reviewers Brian and Didge in Philly and fulfilled any true wrestling fan's dream of seeing Mitsuharu Misawa live and in person. Now, I can sit back on my couch, grab a microwave pizza and a soda and critique the second night from the comfort of my living room.

1) El Generico v. Chris Hero- 3
Please, answer me this: Chris Hero, can you work? I mean, this guy gets heat like Tupac did during his murder but can you work? Generico has some talent but this is a gimmick than can only take you to Mid-card land. They do a couple of nice offensive counters towards the end but Hero is just too much bullshit in the ring for me to enjoy watching him. He finally wins after Generico kicked out of his finish once; logically, why would you let someone kick out of a finish on the first match of the show? Afterwards, we get Albright throwing Generico through a Double Stack of tables at ringside? What the fuck? Was that necessary, then Steen and Delirious make their way in for a brawl that becomes....

2) Brent Albright/ BJ Whitmer v. Kevin Steen/ Delirious- 3 this fucking ECW? Just throwing matches together on the fly born from a shitty brawl? Albright and Whitmer on their own have their individual merits but I'm not seeing any team work here. From either team, actually, both teams are just interfering at will with no tags. No control in this match at all. Steen is a stiff ole' big boy who I first saw up in Canada working with Pierre Oulette. He's got a certain charisma and he can work, but cut out the topes over the top rope. Everyone does that. Delirious, I'm starting to think, is running his course. The logical thing at this point would be to give him a love interest. Steen has some killer moves that are just killing Whitmer, who looks like a fucking beach bum with that hair cut. Okay, so now Hagadorn is in the ring challenging anyone in the back, yadda yadda and we're on to this match.....

3) Shane Hagadorn v. Austin Aries- 1
I give this one because it's short. Really wouldn't want to see these two work a match. Aries' hair is crazy; he looks like one of those guys who was lost in the woods for 3 weeks then comes out and tells about him gutting a bear with a sharpened twig and sleeping in the fur for warmth. Still has a good 450 splash though.

4) Claudio Castagnoli v. Noamichi Marufuji- 5
I need to say upfront, I'm not a big Claudio supporter but this match had some good stuff. They start out with both guys using Claudio's heat, doing the "hey!" thing for the fans. Then, they start into an exhibition with some comedy mixed in. For such a tall guy, CC can hang with Marufuji. Then, you have CC doing his easy going leg holds on the ground, and seemingly not really trying to stretch anyone, which the point of putting on a submission hold is to make a guy tap, but anyways, Marufuji returns the favor with some dynamic leg work and we have a match. Both guys turn up the intensity and start hitting really good stuff. CC does a giant swing and throws Marufuji into the bottom ropes and hits a camera guy in a crazy spot. I love Marufuji's side kick, he just scrapes it right off the side of your face. CC actually gets the pinfall in a kind of surprising upset which was another interesting aspect of the match. Much better than I expected.

5) Briscoe Brothers v. Jimmy Jacobs/ Necro Butcher- 0
We get a 50 second match that ends in a sloppy DQ. Way to appreciate your fans. The whole audience is chanting "F'n Bullshit" at the Briscoes, who look like faces caught in heel headlights and don't know what to do.

6) Bryan Danielson v. Takeshi Morishima- 6
This was the highlight of the evening. This was Danielson's revenge match against Morishima who tried to take out his eye and he was all over the big Jap. Really chaotic brawling on the outside of the ring followed by extremely brutal strikes on the inside. Morishima tried to pound Danielson's eye again as Dragon tried to quickly retreat but regroup quickly enough to stay on the offense against him. Both guys played their roles really well and while it lasted this was a fun and heated match. DQ finish actually makes sense here as Dragon states he is taking "a ball for a ball." Morishima, as we all know, has a hell of a clothesline but Dragon's sell of it comes off real and looks injury-laden as all hell. After the match though, we get another sympathetic Nigel promo that the fans shit on until Dragon kicks him square in the head.

7) Alex Payne v. Tyler Black- 0
Here's another 30 second squash that was extrememly unimpressive. Black has a skinny build so they put him up against the "Gerber Baby" Payne who looks even smaller and punier than Black. And how many people do a brainbuster finish? Give me a fucking break......of a Kit Kat bar, please.

8) No Remorse Core v. The Vulture Squad- 4
I'm a big fan of the NRC, I think Romero has improved greatly, Richards is a big strong bruiser and Strong as their leader, well, he's the most rapidly accelerating guy in the business, he's already running matches and he's a damn stiff competitor. On the other side are 3 completely different guys, all with gynmast-like acrobatics and very little else. The match flows like a well engine and never slows down. Spot after spot after spot, but they play it like a WWE-style tag where each high spot takes the guy out of the ring to recoop. The NRC do get the chance to play old school heels briefly with a beatdown period on Jigsaw(how much lamer can a guy with a mask and puzzle pieces on his trunks get?) The downfall is you don't get any of that drama that comes from a back and forth tag match or see the psychology of it, you just get crazy move after crazy move which usually would get old on an ROH show, but there hasn't been one yet so the match doesn't offend me. Plus Strong finishes, well, strong with a powerbomb on the outside then throws Evans right in and touches his toes to his head with a boston crab. Damn (sorry, Ron)

9) Austin Aries v. Chris Hero- 4
Oh, god another Hero match? I know I didn't give the Girl Scouts any money when I left Wal-Mart the other day, but is this how you repay me, Mr. J of Nazareth? Anyways, Aries controls most of the bout when Hero isn't grandstanding and performing tricks around the ring. Hero's offense is really limited and I'm not getting the cravate schtick, He keeps going to it for different moves and I don't believe that scrawny punk can suplex someone from a cravate, maybe Andre but not Hero. Bobby Dempsey at ringside is taking some abuse and the fans are really sympathetic to him. Aries smacks him in the face with his suicide dive and I cringe. The last 2 minutes works for the match because Aries overcomes the odds of Sweet & Sour Inc and has a good comeback and finishes with a 450.

10) Mitsuharu Misawa v. KENTA- 6
KENTA'S kicks are always bludgeoning and Misawa doesn't look happy, but what else is new. He fires back with some astounding forearms throughout the match, so there is a good striking contest going on. The pace is slow, slower than even a usual NOAH main event and Misawa isn't playing with the crowd as much as he did the night prior. He actually busts out a elbow suicido at one point and I really don't think he still has to break that out, but maybe it was a treat just for us US fans. The match never really gains that intensity like a normal Japanese match would until the last minute when they escape finisher after finisher until Misawa, like a true man with a long dick, takes a face crushing GTS and gives a tremendous near fall. A clean finish, as expected and I'm quite pleased. I think the tag match the night prior, even though it went to a draw worked better because you had more workers to draw from and it was closer to a Budokan Hall level main event than this, but this was still leagues better than most everything else on this show.

11) Jimmy Jacobs/ Necro Butcher v. Briscoe Brothers (No DQ Match) - 3
I'm giving this points merely for the sick bumps that were distributed during this short foray. You could hear the fans collectively groaning that this ironically ECW-esque brawl was bringing down the lights on this exhausting show. Necro was taking bump after bump on open folding chairs, destroying them every time. Jimmy Jacobs did a back senton from the top rope to the outside and probably shattered his tailbone for a few scattered "hardcore" chants. The match ended with a simple finisher, probably just out of the fact that the crowd couldn't have cared less and the perormers picked up on it. This was really sloppy booking and not knowing what your audience wants. They wanted this match earlier in the show, not the cheap DQ fin they were given. And after they've blown their wad seeing Misawa live (the selling point of the show); who cares about some hardcore slopfest we can get anywhere on any indy show in the country. Poor choice for a main event.