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.

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