Monday, September 29, 2008

ROH Southern Navigation

1. Chris Hero vs. Pelle Primeau - 4
2. Rhett Titus and Rex Sterling vs. Mitch Franklin and Sean Denny - 3
3. Nigel McGuinness vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brent Alrbight vs. Damian Wayne - Four Corner Survival - 4
4. Austin Aries vs. Erick Stevens - 4
5. Jack Evans vs. Necro Butcher - No DQ Match - 5
6. Jay Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs - 5
7. Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black - 7
8. Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, and Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, and Rocky Romero - 6

Pelle was working faster than a hiccup, to steal the expression, and was all over Hero throughout their match. But, Hero's size, and alleged newly developed "knockout" skills were enough for him to curb Pelle's earnest efforts. A good option for an opener. The second match featured two non-ROH talents, both Sterling and Denny, but between the four men involved they amounted to about as much personality as one average wrestler. Decent work, but void of any heat or interest from the crowd, so largely unspectacular. Man, I'd read gripes about the four corner match and its dullness, and they were shockingly valid as this seemed quite off and poor Wayne seemed completely out of it in sections. Most of these types of matches feature small, agility-heavy workers, so that lends to a fast-paced, relatively harmless spot fest; but this just dragged and the champion Nigel seemed as borderline average as his opponents as a result.

Stevens and Areis were scheduled but Austin is in street clothes (I guess he goes out in public like that) with his hair wild, insistent on getting Jacobs to come out so he can get a piece of him, Erick gets tried of waiting and gets things started only to be virtually squashed having Austin beat his ass around the ring for awhile in a bad bit of business. That's a giant waste of talent. Evans and Necro was a fun change of pace from the rest of the thus far admittedly abysmal show. They worked mostly to Necro's strengths, brawling and garbage spots, but didn't go overboard and send this to the realm of ridiculousness (like Briscoes vs. Age of the Fall at Supercard of Honor III, for example) so I quite enjoyed it. Necro blocking an Evans springboard by just punching him in mid-air was totally tits; and I also dug the hell out of Necro's sidewalk slam of Evans onto two open chairs and Jack's subsequent back bowing bump.

What's with this arena? I notice a rock climbing wall in the background. How long until Mark Briscoe leaps off of it in a forgettable, meandering brawl? Stay tuned, true believers! Speaking of those wacky Briscoe Bros., Jay is in action against Jacobs, two guys I've vilified for their excesses in the past, but this was more of an old school brawl and was much, much better for it. There were some sick bumps and an overabundance of weapons involved, but it felt like they were channeling Dick Murdoch more than Tarzan Goto or Mad Man Pondo and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Danielson and Black I've thought much about, and the best way to tackle my thoughts I feel is by making a Hollywood analogy. This match was reminiscent of say, a small, independent film company doing a film severely lacking in the marketing department, but featuring two real strong performances, one by a veteran statesman who consistently delivers time and time again, and the other, a new, young talent garnering interest rapidly. The production as a whole is virtually nonexistent in the larger scheme of things, but a small, dedicated minority who've sought it out will champion it as an under appreciated gem. The work in this match is uniformly solid, but there's an element missing leaving it an emotionless yet technically superb affair.

The main event is an extended squash, more or less, for the NOAH guys who just outclass, outsize, and outmatch NRC in nearly every way. Still, it's a lot of fun, and entertaining as such, but doesn't have enough back-and-forth to really reel you in that'd help make it a more memorable match. NRC was arguably the best faction in ROH, for a company that nearly drowned in them in the past year, so it was nice to see them get the opportunity to headline, even if it was in the capacity of being fodder to some of Japan's best and brightest. Overall, this is certainly what I'd call a skippable show, in comparison to the usual ROH product. The first-half of the show, while never really actively bad, is pretty forgettable fare. I'd say the last two matches are worthy of a watch, but even then, aren't worth going above and beyond to get a hold of. I like that ROH is running new areas, like this show in Virginia, and while long term it'll probably lead to some great moments sadly this show was lacking in any of them.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

WCW WorldWide- 09/22/96

Announcers: Tony Schiavone/ Bobby Heenan
1) Rey Mysterio jr. v. Super Calo- 4
2) Alex Wright v. Randy Starks- 2
3) Stevie Ray v. Rick Steiner- 3
4) Rough & Ready v. Cliff Sheets/ Casey Thompson- 1
5) VK Wallstreet v. Johnny Boone- 3
6) Taskmaster/ Konnan v. The Armstrongs- 3

We kick it off with cruiserweight action and I like this pairing- well, it's kind of hard to put Rey up against someone he can't work with. Calo will sell things big and it's a treat to watch him play against Mr. 619 because his timing and ring work, especially at this time, were unparalleled. Rey hits his fin and doesn't cover about halfway through, so later he just randomly hits it out of nowhere after Calo had just hit a big move- strange finish but still good work. Starks is another hulkish brute hired to make a young kid look good- Wright had a nice standing dropkick but is still struggling to be able to work all styles. This match kind of drags even though it's only about 2 minutes. This match seems oddly placed on the show but it's not for lack of talent- both men throw some clubbing blows and this looks to be the beginning of a tag team title feud- shows you how devalued those belts were when the Nwo came in, starting the program on their 3rd tier show, although they have the best announce team of the 3 weekend programs. The line of the night came after Heenan questioned why Steiner barks- Bobby: "Why does that man bark? What, does he have the mind of a chiahuahua?" Tony: "Yes, but he has the heart of a champion."

Next, we get a repeat of the tag match from Pro and it's just as bad this time. Let's give an example of R & R's stellar team work- Enos holds Sheets up in a bodyslam position and Slater punches him, and Enos drops him. Yeah, you starting to see why this team never got off the ground? The jobbers are just from the bottom rung of the ladder and are undoubtedly working a conveyor belt in a chicken processing plant right now. Is Johnny Boone now a ref? (Adam, can you help me out here?) Rotundo dumps him on his head, Japan style, with a Doc suplex right off the bat and this automatically gets 2 points. He roughs the youngster up until he succinctly finishes him with a sloppy samoan drop. The main is wild- Sullivan takes Scott to the side of the stage and pitches him off a staircase- later Konnan gets the same hair up his drug-smuggling ass and throws Steve into a metal stage off to the side. The Armstrongs get pissed though and start fighting back with some real shots that they definitley didn't learn from that geriatric Bullet Bob. It's the Dungeon of Doom with the win in the end, as the Leprecauhn came down and bit Steve's ankle like a hungry Doberman. I think Konnan got potatoed because they show him hurt outside after the match as Tony slyly says "they had to earn that one."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

WWF Superstars - 1/20/96

1) Sycho Sid & The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Aldo Montoya & Avatar – 4
2) The Ringmaster vs. Scott Taylor – 3
3) Hakushi vs. Matt Hardy – 2
4) The Body Donnas vs. Chaz Warrington & Glen Ruth – 2
5) Yokozuna vs. Phil Apollo – 3
6) Issac Yankem vs. Diesel – 4

First off, I have to say a word about the theme song for the show. It’s easily the cheeziest song I’ve ever heard for a wrestling show and it mentions Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Ahmed Johnson, and Bob Backlund all within 15 seconds. Aldo and Avatar started off hot against Sid and the Kid. Sid got thrown to the outside and took out a spotlight in an unintentionally funny spot. Avatar whipped out a funky back slingshot that seemed to geniunely amaze McMahon. Sid cleaned house when he was a tagged in and destroyed poor Aldo and Avatar in about a minute.

It’s really odd to see Steve Austin in the WWF as anything other than Stone Cold but we get a rare look at him on this as the Ringmaster. Taylor was in his pre-dancing days and pretty much got schooled here. Austin won with the Million Dollar Dream and added some stomps in after the fact for emphasis. Hakushi dominated a really young and really out of shape Hardy. Perfect mused after the match that Hakushi needs to “stop sleeping on the park bench because the newspaper print is coming off”.

Warrington and Ruth, the future Headbangers, were disposed of rather quickly by the Body Donnas. The match was there simply to build the Donnas as tag title contenders. Yokozuna squashed Apollo in more ways than one. I gave it a bonus point for the unmerciful Bonzai Drop. Yankem and Diesel was a competitive bout but no one really believed that Yankem would beat Diesel, one of the top stars at the time. The pace was pretty fast and Lawler’s interference was almost nil. Diesel won with a powerbomb to cap off a fun episode of Superstars.

Friday, September 26, 2008

WCW Pro- 09/22/96

Announcers: Chris Cruise/ Dusty Rhodes/ Larry Zybyzsko
1) Renegade/ Joe Gomez v. The Faces of Fear- 3
2) Mr. JL v. Chris Benoit- 4
3) The Armstrongs v. Harlem Heat- 2
4) Rough & Ready v. Cliff Sheets/ Casey Thompson- 1
5) DDP v. Chavo Guerrero jr.- 2

Besides getting extra food at the drive through, fooling around with your woman in an elevator and NERF products, there isn't anything much better than watching Meng and Barbarian just bludgeon a couple of suckas. And that's what we have here. Renegade and Gomez sloppily fight back but it's to no avail only to see their ridiculous long hair get flopped back everytime they sell a punch like they're front row at a death metal concert. Benoit put JL through the paces with several impactful strikes and he sold them well, as usual, but I think with some concerted effort, this could have turned into a full blown midcard match, it just didn't have the legs to stand on. JL took a hell of a Dragon suplex, an old move from Benoit's arsenal. I was looking forward to seeing the Heat work some of Road Dogg's kin, but this was nothing more than a time killer- Booker T made short work of his mullet-adorning opponents as soon as he stepped in, besides that, we get to see Stevie Ray do a few kicks, didn't really tickle my taint though. Rough & Ready is Mike Enos & Dick Slater in leather chaps and the announcers were putting them over as the next Champions. Chris Cruise said "Mike Enos has a presence in that ring," and I can only answer that with a resounding "yes, he's much shittier than when he was in AWA, so i do notice his presence." I've seen disfigured bulldogs with prettier faces than Slater and years had not been kind to his personal appearance or ring work because he pretty much stayed out of the match. I have to talk about their opposition- both out of shape, slothful meathogs who had no business being in the ring and tried to fight back. There's a hilarious exchange where they are both out near the floor and get an initiation that most assuredly had their fatty wives massaging them later that night. Our main event was a rematch from Fall Brawl that Chavo got started early by jumping Page. For some unknown reason, the ring was rotating for the first few minutes on this circular platform. What purpose it served, don't know but the announcers didn't make mention of it. This was contested mostly in a headlock and was pretty much a waste of talent. I liked the set of this place though; it was all brick walls and felt like the inside of a large pizza place, complete with brick ovens in the wall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WCW Saturday Night- 09/21/96

Announcers: Dusty Rhodes/ Mike Tenay
1) The Armstrongs v. The Amazing French-Canadians- 2
2) Disco Inferno v. Jim Powers- 2
3) DDP v. Super Calo- 3
4) Taskmaster/ Konnan v. Mr. JL/ Joe Gomez- 2
5) Rey Mysterio jr. v. Juventud Guerrera- 4

Our opening tag contest was basically a series of double team moves performed by both teams- it was probably under 2 min. total. Remember when Carl Oulette played a pirate? well, for some reason he's still wearing the same eye patch here. not sure why. Powers was managed by a chunky Teddy Long for some reason and his apparel's design could only be described as the mismash of colors not found since a Wendy's bathroom from 1991. This one lasted 45 seconds and ended with Jimmy hitting a pretty sweet powerslam. Shocked me. Calo seemed to be a perfect job guy because he's decent at selling and he will fight back with some interesting moves, including a moonsault dropkick from the top rope? Good chemistry for the few minutes it lasted. Gomez never tagged in, probably for the best. Sullivan got a few licks in at the beginning but this was mostly Konnan going through his arsenal and just taking JL apart, and Lynn as always, sold really well for the beating. The announcers were putting Konnan over huge and Jimmy Hart was even carrying a AAA title to the ring. The main was pretty fun as they went right into their crazy spots with no feeling out process. Juvi completely missed a few things and they had to compromise the finish but they had a sequence of moves and reversals on the apron that were just awesome and both men were selling every move like they were thrown from a roller coaster.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect DVD

Well, the documentary is certainly not Perfect. It clocks in at just over an 1:10 and fails to touch on some major feuds like Larry Zbyszko, Hulk Hogan, and barely even mentions the West Texas Rednecks. They spend a lot of time covering his AWA run and how he was a prankster out of the ring. His Intercontinental title run is glossed over with generic comments like “he made that title” or “the best champion ever”. It seemed like a lot of time was also spent talking about the making of the original “Mr. Perfect” vingettes. It’s not to say that is was a bad documentary, it just lacked some meat. However, unlike most other DVDs, they kept the comments confined to people who actually had connections to Hennig like his dad, his widow, his son, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret Hart, Nick Bockwinkle, and Greg Gagne among others. Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter, the matches.

1) Curt Hennig vs. Eddie Gilbert (MSG – 11/21/82) – 4
2) Curt Hennig & Scott Hall vs. Jimmy Garvin & Steve Regal (AWA – 11/26/85) – 5
3) Curt Hennig vs. Nick Bockwinkle (AWA – 11/15/86) - 8
4) Curt Hennig vs. Terry Taylor (WWF Wrestlefest – 7/31/88) - 4
5) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (MSG – 4/24/89) - 5
6) Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan (MSG – 1/15/90) - 5
7) Mr. Perfect vs. Kerry Von Erich (Special ref: Roddy Piper) (MSG – 11/24/90) - 5
8) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (SummerSlam 91) - 7
9) Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels (SummerSlam 93) - 6
10) Curt Hennig vs. Bret Hart (Uncensored 98) - 5

The first bout showed Curt’s potential but he wasn’t really as polished as he would be years later. It was pure early-80s WWF as the match was more mat based without all the bells and whistles that would happen down the road. Hennig executed a nasty superplex on Gilbert and had a nice sequence right at the end and then the time expired. A solid undercard bout for the time. The tag team was fast paced and loads of fun. The heel team of Garvin and Regal worked the stalling tactic right out of the gate and had their valet Precious spray the ring with some Febreeze of some sort before the first lock-up took place. Hennig worked most of the match with Hall coming in when needed to let loose an array of power moves. Hennig got trapped as the heels took control for the remainder of the match up until the finish. Garvin accidentally sprayed Regal with the aforementioned Febreeze allowing Hennig and Hall to get the win.

Hennig and Bockwinkle was absolutely outstanding. They went to a one-hour draw in one of the finest displays of wrestling I’ve ever seen. The first half was basically mat wrestling. Bockwinkle controlled first after starting hot with a dropkick to the back of Hennig’s head. He worked over Hennig using mainly headlocks. After ten minutes, Hennig gained the advantage and began to work over Bockwinkle’s left shoulder using armbars and hammerlocks. Hennig turned up the pace after Bockwinkle went shoulder first into the post by using short-arm scissors and hard armbar. Bockwinkle managed to regain by reversing into an ankle lock submission and working over the left knee for a good ten minutes, while still selling the arm that Hennig worked over. After thirty minutes, they turned up the pace a bit by doing some stand up exchanges. Hennig threw some hard chops, including one that made me cringe, as the last quarter of the match began. Near the fifty minute mark, Hennig was busted open after going head first into the ringpost. Hennig held a figure-four for the last 90 seconds and then the bell rang. Truly a fantastic match that I was toying with giving a “9” to but in the end, it came out as an “8” which is still a very high mark with a definite recommendation to check out.

The commentary on the match with Terry Taylor pissed me off something awful. Cole and Foley kept rambling on about stuff that had nothing to with the match and I found it very distracting. The actual match wasn’t too special as the crowd wasn’t into it at all. Taylor did break out a neat backslide but Hennig scored the win after about six minutes with a stiff forearm. The MSG match with Hart was full of stalling that Hennig was either doing himself or setting up by rolling Hart our of the ring constantly Hart slapped on some nice armbars and a pretty sick hammerlock slam towards the end of the bout after Hennig nailed the ringpost. The selling for Hogan was nuts. Perfect was bouncing around like the little rubber balls you get for a quarter out of the vending machine. Hogan brawled some with the Genius, who was Perfect’s manager, went back to Perfect, and then brawled some more with both of them. The match was pretty wild, as you would expect from a Hogan match of this era, and it was pretty fun too.

Piper really took the enjoyment out of the Von Erich match. It seemed like he got in the way of the action a lot and emplored some questionable tactics that seemed to assist Kerry. The finish was odd, too. Perfect clearly had the pin and it seemed as if he had won the title until they did a bullshit thing where Piper declared Kerry the winner and the announcers had to cover by saying that Kerry’s “shoulder was up”. Afterwards, Perfect and Piper had a pretty heated brawl. I’ve seen the SummerSlam ’91 match so many times I should know it move for move, but I don’t. The pace was brisk, like one of those cheap Lipton teas in the vending machines, and Perfect was bouncing from pillar to post again. That’s one thing I have noticed, Perfect was exceptional at selling even the simplest of offensive moves, be it an elbow from Bret or a clothesline from Hogan. Also, Perfect worked the match with a really bad back but didn’t show it. Hart slapped on a back-wrenching Sharpshooter to win the title in a fantastic and timeless match.

The final two bouts were pretty disappointing. Perfect and Michaels worked a good pace but it ultimately only came out to be a twelve minute match. They did botch a spot in the beginning but it didn’t really have an effect on the match as a whole. The finish was Diesel pulling Perfect off a pin and nailing him on the outside. Michaels followed suit and smacked Perfect with a superkick and crawled back to get the win by count out. The fans hated the finish and I did too. Had the match gone longer and had a finish with a pin or submission, I would’ve scored it higher. The Bret match from WCW was pretty sad. Rude was working interference and they tried to keep a good pace but it just came off flat. They also tried a few spots from their SummerSlam ’91 match but those didn’t work either. Hart got the win again and Rude nailed him with an ultra-hard clothesline and a sickening Rude Awakening while assisting in the post match beat-down.

Overall, this was a fun, but not perfect, DVD for Mr. Perfect. The MSG matches, while rare, didn’t really add anything but filler it seemed. I would’ve preferred more pay-per-view or TV matches. The AWA stuff was fun, especially the 60-minute draw with Bockwinkle. All in all, this is a good DVD that gives a basic chronicle or the man known as Mr. Perfect.

Performer Analysis: Ric Flair

WHOO! How hard is it really to write up a review on good old Natch? He's generally regarded as the greatest of all time, but our specialty here at NHO is to not hand over just on name recognition or value alone, so here we go:

1) Innovation- 10/10

The emergence of Ric Flair onto the scene was a major splash once he really got the ball rolling. His cockiness, flamboyance, and "flare" for the dramatic helped solidify his character as a great knockoff of Buddy Rogers. Flair escalated that appearance and started wearing the finest watches, suits, slacks, shoes, sunglasses, rings, driving the finest cars, riding in planes, just things that were not ever done up unto that point but Flair made every man watching him envious. The Four Horsemen, the group he lead, made way for supergroups of wrestlers to align and run roughshod over their promotion, which has been done over and over again almost everywhere you look. That's enough evidence for me that Flair, while not completely original, took elements of creativity and expounded upon them to create his own legendary tapestry that he will be forever remembed for.

2) Conditioning- 9/10

Flair gets points for his schedule during the 80's which was 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, matches nearly every night, hour draws, cage matches, bloody matches, world title matches. Flair's stamina has been tested a billion times over and has passed the test over and over again. Look no further than him going 25 minutes with Michaels in his final match, when he was nearly 60 years old. His physique has never been that impressive but he rarely ever got injured during his career; I would venture a guess that his fortitude has kept him pretty injury free over the years which generally means good health.

3) Skill- 9/10

Flair can work with the best of him, but recent years have forced me to notch him down a mark. He's known for making anyone look like a star, but if you look at his 5 year WWE run, he was given the helping hand quite a few times. Flair, if you look back at his old stuff, wasn't known as a bumper, although he certainly didn't make the art look bad, it's more of his WWE stuff where you see him taking a lot more risks than he used to. His perfected piece of the game was quick thinking and he could do it better than anyone, he found a rhythm with people and knew how to get the best out of them by giving the best of himself. In recent years, again, he's kind of lost that intuition but is still a great enough worker to garner a score of 9.

4) Psychology- 10/10

when you talk about the psychology of Ric Flair, you have to note that the guy is insane- his elbow dropping ring jackets, his random references in promos, and his 16 year old adolecsent boy behavior are all traits of the Nature Boy and they all play into his psych when working a match. He is excellent at playing the cocky champion who gets his in the end and he's shown he can be a wonderful babyface comeback guy as well- it's all about Flair's opponent, if he can get the guy more over than him, he will and play the heel but if not, he's moving to the face side. Flair's amazing ability to rearrange matches like that has always been a wonderful quality. Flair's emotion when selling is almost unparalleled, as it doesn't go over the deep end into really bad dramatic acting, but just the down and out torture of a guy trying to break your leg or rake your face into steel mesh- Flair knows those screams of pain and can give them to you without becoming a horror movie cliche.

5) Interviews- 10/10

I could sit here and spout off line after line of memorable Flair quotes, and i could probably fill a number of paragraphs into pages, but what would be the point? Watch some of the Flair dvd's and you'll see any number of guys wishing to be Natch burn off Flair rhetoric until your eardrums bleed. The thing about Flair's interviews is that he needs to be in front of a live audience and if he is, he can grab them by the neck and get any reaction he wants to out of them. After 35 years in the game, it's amazing the response he gets just by walking down an aisle and looking out into the crowd. Everybody knows Flair has some of the greatest interviews of all time- is there any other doubt this would be a 10 for him?

6) Character- 10/10

Mainly this category is about the character that these men portray on our television screens, but it also gets down to playing face or heel and if they can do it and do it effectively. As far as character, Flair's seems to have come naturally from within him. Once he found that niche as the "Nature Boy" he embraced it and endulged to it's maximum capacity and we have what we have now- a legendary figure. Everyone wanted to dress like Natch, to talk like Natch and walk like Natch, so character is there. As far as face and heel, there's a shortlist of guys who can play both sides so wonderfully and seamlessly and Flair is on it. Flair had to do nothing more than be a winning champion during his early years to be hated- he was, arguably, the best wrestler around- there would be no other reason to hate him, but audiences did across the world. Since then, Flair has given fans more reasons to despise his antics, usually his treatment towards their heroes, but then you look at Flair as a face- people couldn't respect the guy anymore if he was the reincarnation of George Washington himself. He did so many cool and cheer-worthy things as a heel, people couldn't wait sometimes for him to become face to scream WHOO! as loud and proud as they wanted. When Flair was bad, he was good, but when he was good, I think, he was even better.

7) Fans- 10/10

Back in the territory days, promoters made money by using their top star to draw big houses. Well, sometimes their top stars didn't have the right competition, sometimes the star itself wasn't very good, so when Ric Flair came along, it was a blessing in disguise. He could work if the top guy wasn't as skilled in the ring as they would have liked, and he was a great foil, in case their star could work they would have great matches. The fans loved Flair for everything he provided for them, great action, great person to interact with as part of the crowd, and he cared and it showed. And they have continued to love him, even after all those crappy story lines he was part of and I think it's about respect, the fans could feel it being given back to them as they gave it to Flair.

8) Basics- 8/10

Flair had a great knowledge of the basic tools- he was trained by Verne Gagne, who was an old school hooker of sorts, and came up with Ricky Steamboat, Jim Brunzell, and others, so Flair knew his way around the ring. Part of going to some of those 60 minute draws Flair did so many times was knowing how to work submissions and keep them as part of the match. Flair was better at selling them than working them himself, but he knew how to. Flair also is a great puncher, he has a very short, pronounced jab that has been his trademark shot, as well as the ever popular chop (WHOO!) and Flair knows how to use kicks and knees effectively, mostly when he's setting up for the figure four.

9) Feuds/Matches- 10/10

This is another no-brainer- where shall we begin, I think Flair's original DVD release covered a great majority of his most famous feuds including Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, Barry Windham, Ricky Steamboat and Sting, and you can also throw in Randy Savage, Vader, Roddy Piper, Mick Foley, The Von Erich's, Shawn Michaels and Curt Henning. And those are just the successful ones- ones he made a whole lot of money with. Flair has literally wrestled every top star for the last 35 years, every generations biggest and brightest and everyone in between, they have probably had the opportunity to take on Ric Flair. Go to the NHO Hall of Fame and read down the names we've inducted, almost 80% of them have tangled with Flair in some way or another, check WWE's Hall and the Wrestling Observer's and the story's the same.

10) Gutcheck- 10/10

Ric Flair is synonmous, to all true wrestling fans, with the word "icon" which is the ranking he's receiving. He's now the highest rated performer I've ever analyzed and I think a 96 will be pretty hard to top. Ric Flair's retirement match is what sold Wrestlemania this year, i don't care what the numbers or the research WWE's marketing guys cooked up, I know it is because every wrestling fan in the world wanted to say they saw it, they shared that moment in history and were apart of it and it was special. Ric Flair is timeless; his impact is felt all over the world and will be until the very last days of either this sport or this world. A small example is we recently went to Summerslam in Indy at the Conseco Fieldhouse. When we were let in the building, there's a lobby that makes up the main floor that you have to barrel through to find the way to your seat, this thing was filled with fans of all ages, sexes, creeds and wearing various wrestling paraphenalia. But, someone in there started the WHOO! chant of Flair, and the whole building started in unison, WHOO! WHOO!, it was amazing, Flair wasn't scheduled, or mentioned in any way to be there but fans will never forget him or his contributions to this sport. He gave 35 years of his life to a sport that made him a millionaire, a celebrity, a bad father, a boozehound, a sex-crazed middle aged man, a hero, and most assuredly an icon and no matter what decisions Flair made in his life, in or out of the ring, no one can ever take away his passion or his love for professional wrestling- gutcheck is about the heart and soul of a competitor, the will and the heart to be the best and improve and if Flair doesn't deserve a 10 in this category, then I don't know who does. WHOO!

Total Score: 96
Ranking: Icon

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ROH Respect Is Earned II PPV

1. Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. Ruckus and Jigsaw - 4
2. Davey Richards vs. Claudio Castagnoli - 5
3. Chris Hero, Adam Pearce, and Eddie Edwards vs. Brent Albright, Delirious, and Pelle Primeau - 4
4. Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens - Fight Without Honor - 8
5. Nigel McGuinness vs. Go Shiozaki - 7
6. Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black vs. Bryan Danielson & Austin Aries - 6

Wow, what a really great wrestling pay-per-view, I feel I must announce that to all in my vicinity and those reading on the Internet machine. Didge already got to this before me, but I want to gush about the show, too. Now, their production values really need work, especially in regards to graphics, editing, lights, and camerawork. But, in terms of sheer in-ring work, this is just a non-stop show full of action and I was hooked from start to finish.

Ruckus and Jigsaw were made to look like they stood a chance, focusing a lot on Generico, using their speed, agility, etc. to keep in it. It was a good enough, fast-paced opener to get the ball rolling. Davey and Claudio was a nice singles bout, they haven't worked each other much in the past so it was a fresh pairing, and their difference in size made for an interesting visual effect. Again, the pace was fast and furious and continued the show's momentum. Richards' somersault dive to the outside which resulted in him taking out several rows of the audience was an awesome moment.

The six-man wasn't bad, Didge wasn't a big fan, but I thought for what it was, it was structured fairly well and was inoffensive in that regard. This newest mutation of Sweet & Sour Inc. seems to be working better, and you've got to admit that clearly guys like Hero and Pearce are getting the best heel heat in the company so they're going to keep that up which makes perfect sense. Albright as a face seems to be sticking with the tough ROH crowd, too, so they'll get more mileage out of this feud yet. Pelle's new gear looks like he opted to copy Paul London's WWE look.

The fight dubbed sans honor was full of violence and stiff, hard-hitting brawling and I fucking loved all of this. Stevens and Strong, my hat (a stained '91 Phoenix Suns) is off to you, sirs. Both bled from their bodies, chopped, punched, and forearmed each other as if concussions were the new "it" thing. Stevens' haircut got me thinking he was the dude from Night at the Museum but this war doesn't resemble that kid-friendly bomb anymore than my fecal matter resembles a t-bone steak and baked potato dinner. Neither man is known for using weapons per se, so to see them bumping on ladders, chairs, and tables actually was a nice touch and not just hardcore spots for the sake of not having the skill to do anything else (see XPW for an example). This was a great payoff to arguably 2008's best feud (sorry 'bout your damn luck Palumbo and Noble!).

Nigel and Go was a great title match, a change of pace from the aforementioned carnage, but an absolutely brilliant wrestling match to be sure. Nigel looked strong as champ, coming off looking better than he has in some time, in a match that regardless of widespread Internet disappointment thoroughly delivered in my eyes. ROH is way ahead of the curve by bringing in great international talent to challenge their champions and it usually leads to matches that feel big in scope and context. The main event seemed oddly placed, but was still pretty good despite some obvious flaws. Jacobs and Aries' feud is a big deal, in ROH canon at least, so they were the emphasis but this match actually benefited from them disappearing into the back and allowing Tyler and Bryan the opportunity to shine out in the ring. Tyler getting the win with a breathtaking Firebird Splash was a big deal, putting the upcoming talent over one of the company's most respected veterans on such a big forum as the main event of their seventh (and best) pay-per-view.

Friday, September 19, 2008

WWE Smackdown! 9/12/05

1) Michelle McCool, Maria, and Brie Bella vs. Maryse, Natalya, and Victoria – 3
2) R-Truth vs. Chavo Guerrero - 3
3) Festus vs. Kenny Dykstra – 0
4) Vladimir Kozlov vs. Scotty Goldman and Funaki – Handicap Match - 2
5) The Colons vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder – 4
6) Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. MVP vs. The Brian Kendrick – Fatal Four Way Match – 5

The women’s’ match was a good opener, notice I don’t use the WWE’s official “diva” label, that didn’t get much time but set a good pace. Structurally it was cool because generally, especially in team-orientated matches, the classic face versus heel setup is the bad guys (or girls, as it were) work over the heroes until they make the hot tag; but here, the faces opened the match going to town on Natalya, making them look like more than just pretty faces and plastic titties, but actual gifted competitors taking on the larger foe. The R-Truth match was interesting in that it was only his third televised appearance and judging from the in-ring work, you could tell veteran Chavo was doing his part in initiating him, working far more aggressively than normal including hitting a devastating rolling koppo kick that would have made Lyger soil his Ultraman undies.

The next segment was shit, not a match, although I almost tossed it a point for Kenny’s opening right hand, which was a blistering shot right to Festus’ face. Within a minute of action, Festus and his buddy Jesse, donned in “MyMoving Co.” outfits, duct taped and bubblewrapped Dykstra, carrying him away from ringside on a dolly. Fuck this. Here’s my problem, numero uno, what’s the official verdict on the match, and how come nobody including the chuckling announcers seem to care? Secondly, this whole segment was an “inside joke” privy to those in the company—they’d done it once prior where self-indulgent pricks Shawn Michaels and Triple H packaged Kenny and sent him to OVW for seasoning. And now their moving Smackdown! to a different network next month and this is their office-approved, “WWE Fan Nation” dick yanking way of making a big production out of nothing.

Kozlov looked like a monster so I was totally fine with his big squash over Goldman and Funaki. Scotty laid in a couple nice shots, and made Kozlov’s stuff look real good, so this was an acceptable wasting of talent. Is there anyone in the industry with least memorable offense than Ryder and Hawkins? I kid you not, the bulk of their offensive runs were almost exclusively chinlocks or minor variations. Primo looked hot, lots of energy and agility, but Carlito didn’t even show up mailing in his performance. The Colons? That’s your team name? Is this another, oh so clever, rib by WWE writers and office? Thanks but no thanks.

The main event was pretty fun, a bit convoluted at times, but no more so than the previous Sunday’s Unforgiven pay-per-view match involving these four guys and Triple H. I like all of their work, and everybody got a little time to shine here, even MVP who was dogged at the aforementioned PPV. Kendrick was bumping big and playing the calculating, conniving heel. Hardy was gone for big chunks of stuff, for better or worse, but did get the win sandwiching Kendrick who was pinning someone else with a scintillating swanton bomb. Kozlov returned to end the show, pulverizing Hardy and forcing himself into the upper echelon; could make for some interesting TV in the weeks to come. I look forward to the network move October 3 so I can start watching the show in high-definition, but they can take their smug, time wasting, pseudo-insider shit and stick it up Vince’s ass during his next downtown pedicure appointment.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

IWA Mid-South- Necro- Joe II (01/12/06- Midlothain, IL)

1) Eddie Kingston v. Marek Brave- 2
2) Colt Cabana v. Larry Sweeney v. Darin Corbin- 3
3) Claudio Castagnoli v. Ian Rotten- 4
4) Josh Abercrombie v. Tyler Black- 6
5) Team Underground v. Iron Saints- 4
6) Chris Hero v. Trik Davis- 6
7) Arik Cannon v. Jimmy Jacobs- 3
8) Necro Butcher v. Samoa Joe- 5

I'm going to be honest- I purchased this show solely because of the main event match, which sounded quite intriguing. Let's find out how the show as a whole stands up:

First off, Kingston is a complete prick. He jives with the fans for quite a while before doing a bad job making Brave look like a rookie kid who can make it with the big boys. Kingston picks out a tall brunette with a slight hint of chest hanging out and prances around the ring with her to make himself look cooler- some advice, Eddie- ditch the very unflattering one piece. Brave is greener than the wart on Rapahel's back (hope I don't have to explain that reference.) There's an emptiness of spots and/or good psych which makes this the worst thing on the show. Our next 3 way is dubbed "Battle for the Belts' as Sweeney puts up his "Texarkana" Title, Corbin puts up his "Boardwalk belt" those ones that have the buckle where you can put a digital readout of whatever you want to say, and Colt grabbed a fan's leather belt for ringside just for kicks. This was your comedy match but call me crazy, I don't enjoy staring at two men's asses for 10 minutes solid, which Sweeny and Corbin proudly displayed throughout the match. They got their tights pulled down in a spot and never bothered to pull them back up.

Ian working armbars and rollthroughs? Huh? Yeah, that's what you had here- Ian Rotten working to Claudio's strengths and it backfires on him- neat little story and it was kept so simple that even the hardcore freak couldn't botch most of the ground work. Some good forearms were thrown too. Tyler Black is a name gaining exposure in ROH but i haven't seen much from him. Here he takes on vertically challenged greaseball Abercrombie. Early on Black does an insane front flip over the top rope and crashes into 2 rows of steel chairs in a true "Holy Shit!" moment. The rest of the match works under that context as Abercrombie works the back and Black sells it like a veteran. Everything works right up to the finish which is satisfying and comes off well as Black uses the guys own finish on him. The line of the night came from I believe Colt Cabana who was doing color for this match when he quoted Abercrombie's catchphrase of being "21 and underapprecaited; well, wait till next year when he's 22 and apathetic." After the last few days of dealing with a pinched nerve and the giant windstorm that killed our power, this match isn't really sticking out in my mind. I do remember Team Underground were the Thomaselli Brothers, who were part of an everincreasing faction that involved Larry Sweeney. The other team was solid, but not uniformly good. It was pretty basic tag match with some other team interfering in the finish from another promotion. Then, Ian Rotten (which would become a trend) came out with notebook in hand, and booked for the next show. Exciting stuff.

Wow, this is a much different Chris Hero. He's taking on a really small guy named Trik (that's an insult where I come from) who I guess looked up to him at one point but now was turned on and he wants revenge. The story of the match works so well and it's one WWE tries to pull off so many times to a failed attempt- Hero is stronger, bigger, and a better wrestler, so all Trik has is his heart and areial moves. In WWE, they will make the bigger guy a moronic brute who couldn't wrestle his way out of a wet paper bag, so the good technical wrestler looks like shit. Here, Hero already is the better man, so you really get to see Trik improve as the match progresses. And Hero really takes his time and works the guy over, and every short burst of comeback he gives him is stiff and he sells it big time. The finish is a pretty nasty Boston Crab and this is the most fun I've ever had watching Hero work. Cannon I recognize from an FIP show Brian had earlier this year- the announcers are putting him over as the best thing since sliced cantalope, but somehow the pudgy mohawk look isn't making me believe it. He can pull off a hurricanrana, but come on? Is that supposed to make me think this joker is a wrestling ....(dramatic pause) god? Jacobs wasn't fully developed yet, as there's some aspects of his game still missing here such as aftersell and follow through on some moves but he seems to have potential. Funny thing, is height is always a knock on him but he's nearly as tall as Cannon. There's some interference and Ian Rotten decides to give us more classes on how to book indy, week to week.

I originally went with a 6 on the main, but that would be handing over and telling YOU that YOU need to seek this out, when honestly you don't. The whole appeal of Joe v. Necro is to see how much pain and punishment Joe can dish out to Necro and who will tire first. Well, the announcers were grinning ear to ear and putting over the first match so much, they couldn't help but let their disappointment for this one shine through in their voices. Within the first few chops, Necro had blugeoned Joe's chest worse than Kobashi did and they went right out to the crowd. Necro took a couple floor bumps but that was about it for his self-masichism portion of the match. Joe brutalized his face with some kicks and they had a pretty realistic forearm exchange at one point, but this was simply a vehicle for Necro to get huge face pops from an interfering referee and Chris Hero. Rotten waddles out again, notebook in tow and takes up another 10 minutes at the end of the show, laying down a challenge, as someone in the crowd screams "Hurry up, motherfucker, i got work in the morning!" Now, that's class. The constant booking on the fly and announce team changeups (which seemed to happen every other match) were pretty annoying and the meager crowd watching on made this feel truly indy. While I did enjoy this show much more than some old time IWA Mid South garbage wrestling, it's importance wasn't of any greater value.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Takeshi Morishima vs. Kensuke Sasaki – (NOAH 9/6/08) – 7

Kensuke rushes Morishima to start but Takeshi blasts him and backs him into the corner. Kensuke fights back leading to a climax-inducing strike exchange, followed by a testing of their respective clotheslines which sees both big men go down. Tie-up in the center of the ring next, they seem relatively parallel strength-wise, but veteran Sasaki hooks a side headlock with his meaty arms and grinds it out controlling his silken haired opponent. Camera shows a man in the crowd, appears to be Masa Saito but I could be wrong. Mori gets Sasaki downed in the corner and drills him with his flying ass spot—I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that one, especially if Mori had ate some pickled herring pre-show. Holy shit, Mori does a magnificent fat boy suicide dive and just looks purely kamikaze as he plunges out onto Sasaki and wipes out, bouncing off a nearby table in the process. Wait, Mori just did some Muta shit? A cartwheel handspring clothesline in the corner? Phenomenal. Followed by a top rope missle dropkick? I’m loving Mori thus far, I hope he ends up in ECW and fueds with Matt Hardy and/or Finlay for the rest of the year. Or Smackdown!, and wrestles Festus for a thousand times for our enjoyment.

Now they’re going old school, working a sequence on the ramp like Chono and Muta used to do; Mori comes running but Sasaki blocks a clothesline and gives Mori a reverse neckbreaker on the ramp. Then, Sasaki bounds off the ropes and does a low, flying clothesline to the back of a downed Mori’s head/neck—brutal! Attempting a suplex on the ramp, fighting for it, and finally Sasaki pulls it off, and then falls back into the ring exhausted. Mori barely makes it in before the twenty count, Sasaki capitalizes with a quick pin but no dice, so he stands Mori up and hits him with a barrage of hammering shots to the chest and back simultaneously. Sasaki locks in a submission, only the second thus far and we’re nearly ten minutes in, a front-face lock deal that zaps Mori’s strength and resolve even more. Sasaki trying desperately to powerbomb his larger opponent, but Takeshi reversed it and then falls backwards, splatting Kensuke with a banzai drop that’d make Yokozuna proud.

Out on the apron, Mori is trying to dump Sasaki off, Kensuke bails on that scary shit and drops to the floor, trying to hook Mori from below in efforts to powerbomb him off the apron onto the floor. Classic Mori, he blocks this attempt by simply dropping all of his weight onto Sasaki’s exposed face/neck, sandwiching him between the hard ring apron and Mori’s sheer girth. Mori’s going nuts, removing the padding from the floor and executing a sloppily done DDT on the concrete. Kensuke rolls back into the ring after a dazed sell only to have gigantic Mori stand on his chest. Wow, Takeshi hooks in a cobra clutch and bends Sasaki back over his knee. Mori is bleeding from the nose here as he bodyslams Kensuke. Mori goes up top but Sasaki cuts him off, and I’ll be damned, executes a frankensteiner from the top buckle! Sasaki back up top, hits a flying bulldog on Mori, then goes up yet again, this time doing a flying clothesline nearly across the length of the whole damn ring in a wild spot. Sasaki does a judo throw and I’m in heaven. Kensuke goes to the well too many times, getting caught up top and Morishima does a brainbuster off the buckles.

Mori shakes the hair from his eyes and runs, kicking Sasaki right in the face, Kensuke answers back with a stiff lariat, but Mori just scoops him up and dumps him hard with a ura-nage. Mori going for his backdrop suplex for the first time but Sasaki gets the ropes. Mori with a hard bodyslam, goes up top, presumably for a moonsault, but Kensuke hops up and hits a back suplex off the buckles. Sasaki hits three more back suplexes in the ring and argues with the ref about the count. A stiff barrage of lariats in the corner, then Sasaki bounds off the ropes for a running one dropping Mori in his black boots. Sasaki calling for something patented, hoists Mori up and executes what looked to me like a Goldberg “Jackhammer” that gets a crowd reaction and very close nearfall. More lariat fun, Sasaki hits Mori with one then hits the ropes for a second but Mori surprises all by busting out one of his own stopping Kensuke’s momentum dead in its tracks. Morishima hits a huge German suplex, then goes up top where he drops a big double stomp square onto Kensuke’s chest.

Mid-ring strike exchange, very AJPW in ’94, with each guy killing the other with super stiff lariats. Mori gets control of the back, but Sasaki runs backward ramming him into the corner to break the hold. Mori with another bodyslam and he’s back up top, goes for a moonsault but Sasaki escaped. Kensuke executes his finisher, the Northern Lights Bomb, originated by his wife Akira Hokuto, but popularized stateside by Al Snow’s “Snow Plow.” And that’s it, Sasaki is the first guy to hold all three major Japanese heavyweight championships. I would have liked to seen Mori kept a bit stronger, tease him winning a bit more, maybe thrown in a couple more big sections to make this a real memorable match, but for what it was this was quite good. It had a couple of big “holy shit” moments and solid stuff throughout—just not an “epic”-level NOAH main event.

TNA - Sting: Return of an Icon

So I went out and bought the new TNA game and much to my suprise I find this DVD sitting in the case in a white sleeve as some bonus content. Now, I wouldn't go out of my way to drop some hard earned dough on this DVD, but since it's a bonus disc, what the hell, I think I'll take a peek at it.

1) Sting & Christian Cage vs. Jeff Jarrett & Scott Steiner (Final Resolution 2006) – 5
2) Sting vs. Eric Young (Impact 4/13/06) – 4
3) Sting, Ron Killings, A.J. Styles, & Rhino vs. Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner, & America’s Most Wanted – Lethal Lockdown Match (JIP) (Lockdown 2006) – NR
4) Sting & Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Jarrett & Scott Steiner (Sacrifice 2006) – 5
5) Sting vs. Scott Steiner (Impact 6/8/06) – 4
6) Sting & Christian Cage vs. Jeff Jarrett & Scott Steiner (Impact 7/6/06) – 5
7) Sting vs. Christian Cage vs. Scott Steiner vs. Samoa Joe – Four Way Texas Tornado Match (Victory Road 2006) – 5
8) Sting & Jeff Jarrett vs. A.J. Styles & Sean Waltman (6/18/03) – 4

The first bout seemed like a pretty standard tag match. Christian and Sting started the match hot with the first attack and then lost control to Jarrett and Steiner. Most of the match was typical Jarrett of the time which involved guitars and lots of cheap heat. Sting got the win after demolishing Jarrett’s guitar with a baseball bat and hitting the scorpion death drop. The Young match was a basic TV match with Young bumping around big time. It served the purpose to get Sting back on TV and to get him over for the Lethal Lockdown match. Speaking of which, the match doesn’t get a rating here because it’s joined in progress right before Sting enters the match. We do get to see the giant bump of the match where Styles put Storm through a table on the top of the cage. The end sees Sting counter a Harris’ version of the scorpion death-lock and score the win for his team.

There was some decent stuff in the tag match with Samoa Joe but all I could concentrate on was Jarrett’s lazy selling of Joe’s offense. Steiner and Joe worked their butts off in the match and helped make it a fun little tag team match. The singles match with Sting and Steiner was going along just fine until Jarrett had to run-in an ruin the festivities. Sting and Christian seemed motivated in the tag team match against Steiner and Jarrett and everyone worked hard to make it a fun match. Christian scored the fall on Jarrett and we go to the next match with Sting putting Jarrett in the scorpion death lock. Sting went out of the four way match early when Jarrett interfered yet again and sprayed him with in the eyes with gasoline, or so TNA said. Steiner dropped and elbow on Joe through a table at ringside but the match was pretty much the same as everything else I’ve seen on the DVD at this point. Sting came back out in the closing moments, sporting a head wrap, and got the win. The final match was Sting’s first appearance in TNA from the Nashville days. It felt odd to see him team with Jarrett after battling him all through this DVD. Jarrett and Styles did most of the work with Sting helping out when needed. It should be noted that Waltman did the match in something resembling pajamas and contributed very little.

All in all, the matches seemed to run together after a while so that why the descriptions are rather vague. This was a decent DVD but nothing that I could recommend buying unless you are a huge Sting fan. There are some candid comments about his career from Sting after the matches which are worth checking out but other than that, you can probably skip this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sushi Bar #1

I walk in the doors and much to my surprise,
I see Hayabusa and Brother Yasshi dining in this god-forsaken dive.

1) Minoru Suzuki vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (Korakuen Hall 6/17/08) – 5
I’ve never really been a big fan of either of these guys but they put on a damn hard hitting match. There were slaps in this that made my face hurt just watching. Suzuki brought out the hard chops including one especially nasty one late in the match. Takayama’s efforts are not to go unmentioned either as his realistic selling (mainly because everything Suzuki hit him with really hurt) and his hard kicks were some genuine highlights for me. Suzuki’s selling left me with some questions as there were times were he would sell a kick but other times were he would barely sell a submission hold. The flow of the match was much like a heavyweight title fight where they felt each other out in the early going and brought out the heavy lumber late in the bout. The physicality of the hard strikes and slaps helped the overall score but I really wouldn’t try hard to find this.

2) Takeshi Morishima vs. Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 12/2/07) – 7
This wasn’t quite the epic match I thought that it would be but it was still a great match to watch. Morishima controlled early on by bringing the power right off the bat. They went to the outside, brawled a bit, and came back in. There was a great tease of Morishima doing his patented back-drop off the apron but Marufuji fought out and landed on his feet. There was an uber-sick move toward the end where Marufuji did some sort of flipping Rock Bottom move off the rampway onto the floor. Marufuji recovered quickly and hit Morishima with a coast-to-coast dropkick for a close two in a remarkable sequence. The finishing sequence was something to propose a toast to. Marufuji’s kicks scored some close falls but ultimately a hard clothesline and two sick back-drops sealed Marufuji’s fate. Overall, a fine match with some minor issues in the beginning but the last half raised it from “marginal” to “recommended”.

3) Takuya Sugawara, Brahman Shu, & Brahman Kei vs. Brother Yasshi, Jumping Kid Okimoto, & Dick Togo – Ladder Match (El Dorado 12/29/07) – 5
Lord have mercy, this had some problems. First thought, let’s talk about the positives, of which there were few. The ladders come into play right off the start as Okimoto attempts to scale a kiddie ladder and then starts playing on a giant ladder. The whole match was a big giant brawl complete with wooden oil drums, kendo sticks, and metal signs. There weren’t really any outstaning ladder spots like you would see in the states. Togo broke the giant ladder after trying to jump onto it from the turnbuckle. At the end you see one of the Brahman hooking himself to the cable that holds the title belt and begins crawling across it in an effort to capture the belt. One thing that really bothered me was that once he was stopped by Okimoto, he just hung there until it was time to end the match. The match wasn’t as wild as I thought it would be but I enjoyed it nonetheless. If you want a wild, sloppy, Japanese brawl where two guys come to the ring dressed as KKK members with Rob Zombie music in the background, then this is the match for you.

4) Mike “Gladiator” Awesome & Terry Funk vs. Masato Tanaka & Hayabusa (FMW 9/24/96) – 4
This is part of a three-disc Awesome vs. Tanaka compilation I have. The video quality is not the best in the world (at least on the computer screen) but it’s definitely watchable. I’m not sure how to sum this one up except for the fact that it was a wild, hardcore brawl. Yep, that’ll work. It gets wild right off the bat with Awesome grabbing Hayabusa and taking him on a tour of the arena. Hey, this must be the same arena that the ladder match I just talked about was held in. I knew I recognized that sign that Hayabusa’s head is making a dent in. Funk and Tanaka trade punches and that’s about all they do during the course of the match. Awesome threw a table at Tanaka and split him open and follows that up with a powerbomb through said table. Chairs start flying courtesy of Funk but much to my dismay. A mighty, mighty Awesome Bomb finishes the bout, mercifully. Awesome and Tanaka would have much, much better matches against each other in ECW.

5) Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Don Frye (Pride FC – 6/23/02) – 6
Technically, this isn’t a pro wrestling match, it’s an MMA fight. However, the brutality and sheer awesomeness of this fight deserves to be talked about. They come out slugging with Frye scoring some shots under the left eye of Takayama as they go into the corner. Moments later, they come out slugging again with Takayama hitting a few shots but nothing that phases Frye. More corner work and the ref breaks them because Takayama’s left eye has swollen almost shut. More slugging and then back into the corner. Takayama tries a takedown but Frye blocks it into a guard. Frye wails away some more on Takayama until the ref stops it. Only a six minute fight but those were the damndest six minutes of action I’ve ever seen.

My meal is done and as I pay the bill,
I see Dick Togo diving off a ladder just for a thrill.

No Prom Date, Take 9

"Okay, so, what's my, ah.....motivation?"
"Well, you're supposed to go to the prom, but you never found a date, so you decide to stay home and watch a bunch of wrestling matches that have no cohesion whatsoever. Go!"

" the most asinine thing I've ever heard. That makes absolutely no logical sense how I would come to do that just because i dont' have a date to the prom, it's just ridiculously absurd."

"Okay, well, you don't have a date to the prom, you decide to watch a bunch of matches with no cohesion at all and you found 3 tubs of leftover Chinese food in the fridge...."

"Now, you're talking my language!"

1) Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels (Great American Bash 2008)- 7

By most people's estimations, this has been the best feud of the year and this match further stipulates that popular opinion. Not as technical as their Judgment Day match, but every bit as important. Stiff forearms start out the match, violent knees and a crazy bump on the apron by Michaels off of Jericho's springboard dropkick to the apron. The chemistry between the two is so good and so in sync that even Beeker could win a Nobel Prize with it. There's a good deal of reversals and other technical spots but they seem so rigid and as just a setup for the hate filled gorefest that it's all leading up to; the anger is so palpable it's hanging in the air over the ring; in fact, Gorilla Monsoon's ghost was hanging from the rafters with those so-called fans he always saw there and they were bouncing off of it like a trampoline. Michaels hits a clothesline and Jericho hits a enzuiguri that are both the hardest shot they can get off. Jericho goes over the ropes from a hip toss onto Lance Cade like a Hollywood stunt double, followed by an HBK moonsault from the top ropes out to both men, who don't catch him at all. Michaels had to have kicked himself in the ass for skipping practice at the Texas Wrestling Academy the day he was supposed to go over that drill with the students just to rent one of those jungle themed hotel rooms and take his wife there to play "Find the Banana."

When Shawn's eye gets busted open, the match takes a sick turn, as Jericho has never acted better (despite his quite wooden performance in the Android movie he did for Sci-Fi) because he's shocked at Michaels massive blade job and then he relishes it and just works it over and over again, with headbutts, straight punches and kicks. HBK locks in a pretty pronounced crossface as a last ditch effort but to no avail and Jericho finally locks him up in an MMA style cradle and just punches the bloody surface that used to be Michael's face until the ref stops it. One of the more visceral matches in some time- you could feel the anguish of Michaels and the bloody respite of Jericho as the feud rages on in a grandiose manner. This is so far from the kind of match you would expect from them it's definitley worth seeing.

2) Vordell Walker v. Masada (FIP Bring the Pain, 03/26/05)- 3

This is not the Masada I thought it was, I was expecting the short Japanese freak with glam rock face paint, this was around 7 minutes, I liked that it started out with the feeling out process and some harmless mat work with the arm, Walker had a blank expression on his face as I'm sure he did through most of his training school, this was pretty low key, even Masada's front flip plancha had such little impact an old school pillow fight would have been considered more hardcore. For grunge rock indy scuzz, Masada wasn't half bad. The finish was out of nowhere and the wrong man won- Walker showed really nothing at all in this match and his opponent's shoulders weren't even down for the count.

3) Misterioso/ Depredador/ Inferno v. X-treme Tiger/ King Dragon/ Sinestro(WWO) - 2

I would have much rather seen the purple skin, yellow ring wearing baddie than this 6 pack of woeful lucha losers! Tiger was basically wearing Rey Jr.'s mask just with some glue-on fur around the cheeks, but I did like how he started the match riding Misterioso's waist like a high school wrestler. He also has a pretty outstanding dropkick. The first fall went by quickly with a "bloated toad" splash (an ugly frog). What is about all heel Luchadores and they can all punch really well, like an enemy from Double Dragon? Just that straight punch to the jaw, most of their rope work looked pretty amateurish though. I'm noticing shoulders not being down on pinfalls a lot now- are refs that insignificant that they can't even be allowed to do their job anymore? can we instill a little bit of realism back into this sport? I know that question is hard to take seriously considering it's love of horny midgets, preganant 80 year old women, necrophilia and using D-list celebrities, but come on people?

Ringside brawl starts 2nd fall and culminates minutes later after the heels are in a Kaientai-DX pose when Inferno comes off the top with a headscissors which would have been cool had he not missed grabbing the head! The 3rd caida continues the tradition of sloppy brawling as half the participants disappear into the rowdy crowd- Depredador is an Los Angeles Homie if Ive ever seen one, and he's shitty- he takes a dropkick but openly no sells it to tell the guy to clothesline him over the ropes- This was sloppy Lucha at it's finest.

4) "Soccer Hooligan" William Mackelvaney v. JC Digits (EWF)- 3

First off, let me say that both of these guys are close, personal friends of mine and in no way is this review meant as a personal attack of any kind, merely another expansion into another area of this vast landscape we call professional wrestling. Now, on with it: The first thing that catches my attention is the Hooligan is wearing a sharp polo and looks more like a part time employee at the GAP than a soccer player. Digits makes Mack's strength look pliable, taking bumps across the ring. Mackelvaney has a lot of emotion in his sells and is taking some ugly bumps, including falling face first after being hit with a back elbow. His ground work needs, well, work but he has a hellacious kick that is sold well. The crowd is so sparse and paper thin and they don't really seem to be into it except for a few moments. Both guys are usually pretty vocal but neither are really calling out to the audience as much. A brawling section seems more like an afterthought but some bogus cameraman misses the post shot and I think i'm watching Impact except Don West's shirt isn't blinding me. Okay, these bumps are getting worse; he's falling sideways like someone shot a cannon at his leg. I like that they both play up their frustration at getting a victory and some of it feels like they are trying to stretch the match out. They kept it simple, instead of trying to be just another overbooked indy match and the finish looked great (Koji Klutch out of nowhere) and it was clean. Guess it's back to the pub with ya, Mackelvaney.

5) Edge v. Ric Flair (TLC Match, Raw, 01/16/06)- 6

This match is purely 3 bumps and little else; Flair has given up on selling anything but the major moves here, as any punches or transitions are purely moves to get him to the next spot and his body looks like a candle that's been burning for 12 hours straight. Flair's chops are still completely legendary though Edge never really learned effective striking. There's some big mishaps; the brawl over the railing into the crowd is poorly done, then you have Edge climbing the ladder to come off with a dropkick, that Flair just barely steps out ofthe way of (while Edge waits for him to do it), but then Flair flops to the mat anyways- WTF? So, the 3 bumps- Edge splashes Flair outside through a table from the top of the ladder, Flair takes a meaty superplex from the top of the ladder to the mat( love that spot) and Edge goes backwards from the ladder outside through a table in a very dangerous spot. You also have Flair's daughter Ashley sitting front row with some of her UNC buddies, cheering on her dad, which really ups the emotion quotient. Overall, though, i can't recommend this as required viewing but those 3 bumps alone do belong on many highlight reels for along time to come even if the overall structure of the match is pretty damn sad.

6) Masato Yoshino v. Anthony W. Mori (Dragon Gate Infinity, May '08)- 5

I rag on Yoshino a lot, but it's pretty cool because he's like a completely different style in singles than in tag team, he can be very deliberate and calculating in singles competition. Mori looks like a joke wrestler but Yoshino can hang in the silly category- Mori pulls off THE Sickest Dragon Suplex this side of the Rising Sun and a Kickout! Great spot. The strong style chop fest w/ clotheslines just doesn't have the same effect when the guys doing it are only 100 lbs. each. They have good chemistry though and look like they know where the other guy is always going. Yoshino's finish is nifty (kind of a version of Mistico's) but he does it with little to no impact- I mean it's an armbreak, more or less and he puts no emphasis on breaking the arm! He has a cool wristlock that he puts on with his feet- never seen that before. Some idiot interferes and uses a storage tote to attack Yoshino with, that was dumb. The finish came after an awesome series of cradles by both men and a surprise win. This was hit or miss and now seeing the time, I think this was clipped as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NHO Hall of Fame Series Presents: Barry Windham Vol. 2

1) Barry v. Ric Flair (NWA Title Match, CWF TV)- 8

It was strange but Flair came out to Genesis instead of the 2001 theme song. He cut a hilarious promo before the match where some former wrestler named Buddy Colt was sucking his ass big time. Windham starts control with technical game and it looks good. He locks in a Boston Crab which can be a son of a bitch if you really think about it. The ropes are extremely loose as Flair almost decapitates himself going into the ropes. His chops are just as legendary as ever but Windham answers with these awesome open handed strikes; he's also sporting a most bodacious 80's porn stache! Flair can sell anything and make it believable, he lets out that scream, whips his hair back and bumps till you believe- the Florida crowd is absolutely coming unglued and gives this match a great atmosphere, especially considering it's for the belt. Something I noticed here is that more so in the 70's and 80's they used submission moves as the close calls of the match more so than near fall pins with high impact moves; they still have near falls but they squeeze the drama out of the submission holds plus use them to rest and put some time into the match.

Flair takes over and just runs the ring and Barry, to his credit, is a superb face in peril even though he seems nearly double Flair's size. Flair moves about the ring with utmost confidence, a little thing that always made me seperate, in my head, the real pros from everyone else; the guys who looked like they already had the next ten moves ready to go. Windham hits a crazy flying lariat that looks like 2 bald eagle running nose to nose high in the sky, because both men come crashing to the mat and hard. Windham had been pretty aggressive early on working the leg, but Flair's the master and he starts in on Barry's leg about 25 minutes in. The announcing, on a sidebar, was quite superb- Gordon Solie on lead commentary but Mike Graham was surprisingly effective, discussing strategy and giving a unique point of view being a wrestler (if you want to call him that) himself. Flair busts out a mushroom stomp! and I love his hard, short jabs and he is bouncing them off of Windham's jaw like Kobe no doubt bounced his nutsack off of some Chinese high school girls last month in Beijing.

Both guys are sweating like those guys in the Gatorade commercials and then there's a ref bump into Flair, which he completely ignores. Windham comes off the top with a sloppy ass dropkick and then they both go sailing over the top in a crazy car crash which leads to the jerk off finish of a double countout. Real disappointment after over 40 minutes of solid action to go with ending.

2) Barry/ Mike Rotundo v. The Fabulous Ones (AWA Wrestle Rock 86)- 4

The Fabs have fans; I'm not one of them. They both went onto to do better work in the future, Lane as part of the HOF Midnights and Keirn as the chaw spitting Skinner. The whole pretty boy thing doesn't work when you look like a homeless guy with suspenders on. Lane's superkick always goes to the balls- i wonder if people hated selling that thing. Rotundo seems to enjoy stiffing Keirn with forearms and I concur. Windham and Rotundo doing a double dropkick is pretty impressive. The Fabs aren't very good heels, as soon as they get the advantage they work a front facelock, killing the heat they had. Windham got kicked in the back and sold it like he was shot with a paintball, doing this silly jump and falling down on his side. The finish made no sense; Windham, the illegal man, comes in with a flying forearm and just pins the guy- this wasn't very good.

3) Barry v. Terry Funk (Puerto Rico)- 6

Is there anything more soothing than the sound of Hugo Savinovich's voice? What a strange match this is- Funk is doing his usual crazy routine, taking mulitple bumps outside, scaring fans, throwing chairs in the ring. OH SHIT- He turned it up a notch and gives Barry a piledriver on the concrete and this is Puerto Rico so you know there's no damn mats outside and there's probably traces of heroin residing on the ground. And another one! Yes, Windham and Funk are good brawlers and I love when Barry throws the fucking babyface routine in the trash and takes Funk out to the cement and piledrives his crazy Ass- now that's Puerto Rico. They do a couple good near falls and then the finish hits where Windham thinks he won but the ref waves it off and Funk picks up the win. I love these odd matches that you never knew existed.

4) Barry/ Ron Garvin v. The Russians (NWA Pro- US Tag TeamTitle Match- 12/09/86)- 4

Well, this is a strange team- Ivan is a tough bastard, even 20 years after his prime. Barry looks smoother than Anna Kornikova's ass but Garvin and Ivan can't get on the same page. Barry hits a nice chain of suplexes on the future Smash- then Krusher. Ivan, in an unintentionally funny spot, nearly shatters his knee cap missing a knee drop from the top. The crowd is really hot for Windham during the final moments, we have a chain shot that Punky Brewster could have kicked out of and a sunset flip with someone else's god damn shoulders up! This is getting old. new champs.

5) Barry/ Ron Garvin v. The Midnight Express (Eaton/ Condrey)- 5

God, Cornette on commentary, spouting off 80's manager rhetoric. The thing that works so well about the Midnights and has made them one of the greatest tag teams of all time is their fluid motion throughout a match, whether it's with back and forth tagging, offense, or both men taking bumps for their opponents, it's just something that has resonated in all of their work, with most of the incarnations. Garvin isn't selling very much, he looks like someone absently spit at him while having a conversation every time he gets hit. Eaton has one of the sweetest punches in the biz. Garvin finally gives some aftersell on this over-extended beat down of him where he writhes on the mat, gasping for air like a goldfish out of it's bowl. The Midnights beating on Garvin went on forever and really lost my interest in an otherwise exciting tag match, it's almost like they were trying to kill time, yeah, I was right- 20 min. draw.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Audio Review: WWE Unforgiven '08

Click here to listen to our audio review of WWE Unforgiven ’08 where you’ll hear our opinions of the show, both good and bad, including refernces to Super Leather, Lance Cade as a Aeropostle salesclerk, Shawn Michaels' wife’s dick lips, title changes, that "new Haku guy", and so much more. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

WWF @ MSG- 09/30/89

Announce Team: Tony Schiavone/ Hillbilly Jim

1) The Genius v. Koko B Ware- 3

For a midcard range guy, Koko is hugely popular with this crowd. Genius does his normal schtick with the poem then the prancing and cartwheeling, and the crowd of course follows suit and boos the shit out of him. As for the match, decent opener, Genius kept the pace slowed and worked over Koko's shoulder for most of the match with the "Birdman" getting little spurts of offense in. Pretty basic stuff. Koko sold big on a stun gun late in the match. One odd thing I noticed was at the base of Koko's neck where his nifty hair do ended (dyed yellow & blue like Frankie's feathers) there was some paint covering his neck, as if the barber went a little crazy and shaved some of the dyed hair off. Don't remember a time when the neck paint caught on as a form of fashion, but i'll do my research....

2) "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka v. Honky Tonk Man- 4

This was an odd mix of styles. Can anyone tell me what those little finger chops Snuka does are? He crinkles his hands and then like chops people? That's his basic strike that he uses? Has he always done this odd attack or I'm just blind? Anyways, Honky's offense was just as limited, down to punches, kicks and the occasional knee in the breadbasket. Hillbilly was hooting and hollering at Jimmy Hart for all his "nonsense" on the outside. Snuka sold surprisingly well to the midsection and the crowd came unglued after he went up for the superfly splash; although it was premature because he dropped a headbutt from the top instead.

3) Mr. Perfect v. Red Rooster- 4

HA! This match makes me think of the Legends Roundtable where Michael Hayes burns Foley when Foley talks about Taylor getting the call from WWE and being put into two possible gimmicks: Perfect & Rooster and Foley says he thinks Taylor would have been a good Perfect, to which Hayes replies " Yeah, but do you want to hit a single or a home run? Henning's the home run"

Anyways, onto the match- Hennig has a punch like Andrew Dice Clay in "Brainsmashers: A Love Story." Taylor is always a guy people swing off his nuts but I just don't see it. He does a nice sunset flip sequence with Henning, but come on, he's working with Henning! Beautiful pinpoint dropkick by Henning, wish our Patriot Missles from the Gulf War in '91 were that accurate. The finish came off really well and was a clean heel win with scientific move (small package) which was one of the unique properties the Mr. Perfect character had and that was he was a better wrestler than most of his opponents and rarely had to cheat.

4) Mark Young v. Barry Horowitz- 3

Not familiar with Young, he was wearing sequined Red, white & blue trunks, sort of like a poor white man's Apollo Creed. He had good instincts and pulled off some impressive arieal moves for the late 80's and Horowitz did a decent job of getting frustrated. This just suffered from lack of emotion- crowd was sort of into it and I think some of that falls on Horowitz, who could have put it over more and Young, who just seemed inexperienced. But the pace worked and the finish was surprising.

5) Ultimate Warrior v. Andre the Giant- 3

SHOOT! SHOOT! Shoot, Shoot, Shoot! I was dying for all the boys in the back to come out to the ring and surround it and chant that, like in a high school hallway when two guys started scrapping. The match, not going well to begin with as Warrior's offense was so shoddy and sloppy and Andre sold decently for him for a while but I'm thinking he got fed up. At one point, Andre was on his knees and Warrior went for a boot but Andre didn't feel like selling it so he grabbed his foot and they both fell forward with Warrior falling through the 2nd and bottom rope and Andre almost going with him. They were pawing at each other like two baby bear cubs caught in a net. Andre cracked Warrior in the jaw when they got back in and i laughed my ass off. Damn, i want to rank this higher because this would be a nice, fun treat to watch but it was so badly put together. Heenan was cursing visably on the outside.

6) Ronnie Garvin v. Greg Valentine- 6

This was the bubble gum center of the Tootsie Pop. Garvin's brick like punches and Valentine's blistering chops were sprinkeled throughout this tasty treat like a good cummin and spice is on a pumpkin mousse! Valentine was wearing a catcher's shin guard and supposedly that helped his figure four become deadlier because they teased it a lot. There were some really good near falls that helped built to the end but once they got there, they kept going. You could see both men physically ran out of gas and I could have shaved maybe 2-3 minutes out right before the end to really leave no room for error. But, overall solid performances from both men- this seemed like a hell of a feud.

7) "Rowdy" Roddy Piper v. "Ravishing" Rick Rude- 4

Piper is a great main eventer for MSG- the crowd loves him, they don't require technical masterpieces, hell, they prefer not to have them over a fan brawl with lots of crowd invovlement. Rude was in asbolutely phenomenal shape and was having foot stomping madness laying in forearms on "Hot Rod," maybe there was a Riverdance talent scout in the audience. Piper was heated and really took it to Rude, which prompted Schiavone to awkwardly blurt out, "Write this one down in your diaries!" Huh? that what you meant to say? I wonder if Schiavone had his sitting on his lap, and around the back of his chair was a "Macho Man" bookbag! Man, these guys worked a hell of a sequence together right after the middle stuff with all the ground work done, where it culminated in Piper hitting an Aja Kong backfist- Hells yeah, represent! This ended in DQ, i believe and was fun for what it was but these guys made no bones about their performance they knew they were on last, so they just ripped it up and had fun with it. Kudos.

I love MSG shows and this was no exception, nothing on here was too great, save for the Garvin-Valentine match, but i'm sure they've had better in their feud. Schiavone did a commendable job, even if he had to wrangle in Jim's strange redneck comments and called the matches as if they were legitimate athletic contests, which I enjoyed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Bet He's Got a Nice Headlock #1

Juggling work, attending college at two different campuses, running Review the World, and trying to maintain my marriage with a loving wife while I’m constantly distracted by things like my recent acquisition of the entire 94-episode run of She-Ra: Princess of Power, leaves little time to watch my beloved wrestling, and even less time to actually write about it. So, I’m going to condense what I’ve managed to watch in the last week or so into one, stream of consciousness rambling dialogue.

I started the five-disc UWFi set I snagged from Adam. With as much wrestling footage as Adam owns, co-creator and writer Jessie and I often kid that he likes collecting it more than he does watching it. I’m really looking forward to watching this compilation, more so than I’ve been for anything else wrestling-related in recent memory. I watched the first match off the first disc this morning before class. Yuko Miyato and Tatsuo Takano just beating the hell out of each other, it ended up being a draw, but I still felt satisfied even without a clear victor. In one match it encapsulated all that I love about UWFi, with a bloody nose, cripplingly stiff strikes, and intelligent mat work.

We watched Great American Bash ’08 over at Jessie’s house Tuesday evening. Blog contributors Didge and Adam stopped by briefly, and Jessie got preoccupied caring for his adorable daughter, so I was the only one that got to fully focus on the show. My opinion? Not bad. It seemed, for the most part, to be pretty focused on the wrestling. The first few matches featured strong performances by Festus, Finlay, and Shelton. The ECW match was actively bad, and the women’s match was also forgettable, but the second-half of the show ratcheted back up. The Jericho/Michaels bloody brawl was great fuel to their ongoing epic feud. Punk and Batista was surprisingly inoffensive, although I’d rather see Punk in FIP working Kahagis but that’s just me. The NYC street fight, or whatever it was billed as, between Cena and Bradshaw was kind of goofy. Sure, there were a couple stiff shots, like Cena going through a couple different windshields of cars, but it paled in comparison to their fantastic I Quit match from a few years ago in the violence department.

I watched the Legends Roundtable from WWE 24/7 on wrestling’s most ridiculous gimmicks. It was good for a few reminisces, but loose and not particularly well organized, which gave guys like Michael P.S. Hayes ample time to ramble on about shit. Still, not a bad way to kill an hour, and I’d like to see more of these shows, but it’s not necessary viewing by any means. I watched the two bonus matches from the second disc of the Triple H: King of Kings DVD set. It had the Hog Pen match, which is still as dumb as it was back then, but both guys eat pretty gnarly shots into the metal and wood hog pen so it wasn’t a complete waste. It also had Hunter’s first match, from some shoddy indy show, which shockingly wasn’t terrible but felt like an afterthought as the commentary track with HHH and Jim Ross made it difficult to really focus on.

Watched the second-half of ROH Dragon Gate Challenge II from the Orlando weekend courtesy of Spoon. I really enjoyed it, actually. The Steen/Generico vs. Yoshino/Doi match was just so much fun. It had big, epic nearfalls, high impact moves, a breakneck pace, etc. The two tags that followed it (Shingo/BxB vs. Jacobs/Black and Briscoes vs. Dragon Kid/Sato) were also pretty solid, especially given the talents’ lack of experience working together, but couldn’t compare to the aforementioned match in terms of sheer energy and excitement. The main event, pitting Stevens, CIMA, and Go versus the No Remorse Core was also terrific. It nearly went thirty minutes, but was just packed with physical action, and another real joy to witness. I went through a period of dislike for ROH, but I’m definitely enjoying it more lately, although now it’s more of a balance of accepting what they do poorly and enjoying what they offer that’s unique, especially in the American scene.

In my American TV wrestling progress, I’m now progressing through February of ’08. I watched the Smackdown! (probably my favorite show) episode from Valentine’s Day the other night that had the Edge proposing to Vickie segment. I’d assumed I’d vehemently hate that ongoing storyline, but I’ll be damned, I was laughing my ass off and really entertained by that whole segment. Edge’s facials, where he was trying to act suave and sincere, but underneath showed flashes of his deceptiveness and cunning, all the while trying to hold his composure and pull if off, were just a riot and the whole thing was so over the top that I was laughing my balls off. Then Rey came out and springboarded right onto Vickie in her wheelchair. Five stars.

I almost forgot to mention the WrestleFest ’90 cassette I started. I love that Sean Mooney’s desk is littered with WWF action figures. The opener was Savage versus Piper which seemed like a rare gem. Piper’s flailing movements are growing tiresome with me. Dino Bravo versus Warrior put me into coma. I liked the Beefcake/Martel MSG match a ton, though. I’ll finish it soon. The last match is apparently DiBiase/Akeem (Yes! Yes!) versus Jake Roberts/Warrior.

Next on my wrestling agenda is finishing the UWFi set, watching the new Rock set I scored from the inter-library loan system, watching the out of print and rare two-disc Best of Raw set featuring over twenty complete matches from the ’99 era, and a bunch more crap. I’ve got the first disc of Didge’s Kawada set to spin, and will be watching Adam’s PWG Sells Out three-disc set next month. My wife insists whenever we’re home together that we continue working on the first season of Veronica Mars, which is brilliant, but eating into my Paul Roma house show footage time. We’ve also got our first bulk order in, with the second allegedly arriving any day now. I got a ton of stuff; all kinds of discs, ranging from shoot interviews (Butch Reed, Stevie Ray, Demolition, Powers of Pain, and Nasty Boys), to a bunch of American indy stuff like PWX, IWC, IWA Mid-South, PWG, some FIP and ROH, and an obscene amount of Hermie Sadler’s UWF which features a lot of TNA guys. It’s a good time to study the art of professional wrestling.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Performer Analysis: Keiji Muto/ The Great Muta

After just watching the 5 Disc set chronicling the career of Muto (which you can find as a review done very competently by Didge on this very blog) I thought it only right to analyze the man, the myth, the Muta.

1) Innovation- 10/10

This is a no brainer. Muta took his look and altered it from the look of the Great Kabuki, an American with crazy face paint who worked in World Class for a while. Muta took his to another level and combine that with the look, the mist, the mannerisms, the move set and the technical expertise and you had one of the most unique individuals that has been seen in this sport. And he knew it- the moonsault may have been done before in America but Muta made it famous.

2) Conditioning- 8/10

In his prime, Muta was at peak physical condition for a human being. He was lean, cut and had stamina out the yin-yang and has remained in such a state for many years. As with everyone, especially over the last 4 or 5 years, he has thickened up and had tremendous problems with his body wearing out, especially given the hard work he puts in, especially his knees. But, he hasn't let himself go, he's just a thicker guy now but his height helps with that tremendously. I'm not sure about drug use and how it's affected the Japanese scene but Muta has remained on top for many years so you can make your own judgements; either way, he's a gifted athlete and he has the conditioning to prove it.

3) Skill- 8/10

Muta, whether you believe this as fact or opinion, isn't the best worker in the world as far as workrate, selling and all that, but he's probably one of the smartest. In his younger days, he was one of the most innovative and compelling guys to watch and became an attraction for any promotion and any viewer in the world for some many years. He kept up a great work ethic and while his bumps are often protected, he can let loose and really go crazy in some matches, although it's rare- Muta's not known as a bumping machine. But, he can work pretty well and even though he went through some lazy years, during the first part of the new century Muta put an emphasis on storytelling in the ring and became probably the smartest, hardest worker in Japan at that time.

4) Psychology- 10/10

Muta is on a list of maybe 5 guys who know how to work an audience as well as he does, especially his hometown crowd. He can get away with doing so much less than most guys and get more of a reaction than they can. Keiji Muto is very capable of crowd sympathy, especially in the mid 90's and worked that very much to his favor and used more of an athletic approach to his work style. When Great Muta, he uses a slower, more methodical pace (a classic heel move to get booed), more dirty tactics(ex. mist, random weapons) and more bizarre gestures and actions to really rile crowds up and get people into the match. His selling is fairly okay, but not the most consistent.

5) American Appeal- 10/10

This is a substitute for the normal "Interviews" category, which is extremely important in the States, but since a lot of Japanese workers don't speak English, there needs to be a common ground for them to meet. As far as Keiji Muto, America became fascianted with him almost immediately when he debuted in 1989 in NWA, even though he worked as a heel during that run. I'm pretty sure he's only exclusively worked as Muta in the States and fans couldn't really get enough of him and his unique character, even garnering an NWA World Title reign in late '92 during one of his stateside trips. He's made many stops in the NWA and WCW over the years, as well as a one shot in ROH and an appearance (albeit a goofy one) in TNA.

6) Character- 10/10

The Great Muta is the equivalent of the Undertaker in the States; just the most unique and phenomenal character that has ever been created in the professional wrestling business. The evolution and metamorphisis this character has went under over the years are phenomenal and the duality between Keiji Muto and his devilish alter ego is at the top of the list among the most compelling and complex story archs one single person can create. There have been so many great storylines that this has created, such as Keiji digging deep inside of him to fight off Muta so he can win singles gold as himself, and Keiji fighting against the NWO as Muta joins them quickly. Definitley in the top 5 of the greatest characters ever created.

7) Fans- 10/10

He's loved. He's hated. He's revered. He's feared. He can be both sides of the proverbial coin and he can get the same reaction every time, whether it's being cheered, booed, ran away from, or patted on the back because he can garner the fan's attention; a lot more if he's Muta than Muto though. He can always get a reaction as Muta, also because the character allows him to behave more towards getting any kind of heat, with no real inhibitions or limits. This character, even if Muto himself is getting older, is still a huge box office draw and will remain until Muto's last day in the ring. Now, that's staying power.

8) Basics- 8/10

Okay, let's break it down: Muto has never really punched, he's always used those strange thrusting chops as his main strikes, but he can kick. He has a good technical background and breaks it out more than you would think. Depending on the opponent and his mood, he can work some really good back and forth spots and he has good ring rope movement and knowledge of the ring as well. He's the kind of veteran that has always maintained his knowledge of the fundamentals and can pull it out when need be, even if he doesn't use it often.

9) Feuds/ Opponents- 10/10

Muto has fought them all in this business, which is exceptionally hard to do when you're a Japanese wrestler mainly. His first big fued worldwide was with Sting, which raged on for a good stretch helping both guys careers immensely. He also fueded with Ric Flair as part of the J-Tex Corp. in '89. In Japan, Muta has had stirring rivalries with Hiroshi Hase, Shinya Hashimoto, Masa Chono, Atsushi Onita, and several more. He's gotten to face the top names in both countries through his political pull and matchmaking skills such as Toshiaki Kawada, Hulk Hogan, Mitsuharu Misawa, Booker T & Steve Austin. Muto's an extrememly easy opponent to get embroiled in a feud with and he relishes the times he gets to be invovled in "dream matches" which have been numerous over the years, fighting top stars in every promotion he can, like WWE, WCW, All Japan, New Japan, NOAH, Big Japan, FMW and the list goes on and on.

10) Gutcheck- 8/10

It takes passion, guts, work ethic, and more than a little bit of knowledge in playing the politics game to get ahead in the wrestling business, sometimes it simply takes an opportunity to make a splash, but to have a career like Muto's, the longevity, the ability to stay fresh and keep up the high workethic and still have great matches, still get crowds of thousands upon thousands cheering for you, or booing you, it takes qualities that few men have. As I've said earlier, he may not be the best pound for pound worker but Muto has to be known as one of the greatest characters and greatest stars pro wrestling has ever seen.

Total Score: 92
Ranking: Icon
PO: Thumbs Up