Sunday, November 30, 2008

WWE Smackdown! 11/14/08

1. Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin - 6
2. Carlito vs. Brian Kendrick - 4
3. MVP vs. Kung Fu Naki - 1
4. Maria vs. Michelle McCool - 2
5. The Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy - Extreme Rules Match - 5

I’m going to talk about this show in an order descending from what I personally enjoyed the most downward to the things I’d rather soon forget. Benjamin versus Matt Hardy was a really terrific match, especially for an opener, and even more so for TV fare. A lot of limb work, by both men, a slow build, this all led to a sense of believability and athletic competition lacking from much of today’s American product. Even the announcers, Ross in particular, tried to invoke an MMA-like vibe to it, saying, “if we were going by points Benjamin would be winning” but alas, that’s not how it works, and Hardy’s completely unexpected “Twist of Fate” came out of nowhere like a big knockout in MMA and really helped complete the analogous tracts of the match.

I thought Kendrick and Carlito was pretty good for a more typical throwaway TV bout. The highlight clearly being Kendrick laying in tons of real stiff leg kicks, it seemed like he was trying to raise the ire of apple eating mid-carder, just going back to the nasty kicks again and again. We also got to see big Zeke take out Primo on the floor in a great visual. The Undertaker versus Hardy (donned in pseudo-Joker face paint) was seriously pimped online, overly so, as I felt it wasn’t the mind-blowing spectacle I’d come to anticipate. Granted, it got a little more mileage out of the tired hardcore milieu, and had a couple big bumps (Hardy’s legdrop off the ladder made my boner from the Maria match soften in empathy) to boot. I’m still confused about the whole new direction of Hardy’s character, and this didn’t help clear up any of my mystification.

The further burial of MVP just makes me shake my head in disapproval. Here, he got beat by perennial jobber Funaki (for the second time) and afterward, was the victim of molestation by a pale, fat, redheaded beast plucked from the crowd by the Great Khali. I was disappointed that the Maria versus McCool match, which they’d actually built up decently on TV the past couple weeks, was a colossal bowl of fecal fettuccini. As soon as it started, Jesse and Festus came to ringside, immediately turning this from a match to a bullshit story development piece, continuing the ongoing “romance” of the oddest on-screen pairing since that rough-looking footage of R. Kelly urinating on that young girl.

Friday, November 28, 2008

NHO Road Report #2: Ring of Honor - "Escalation"

A = Adam
D = Didge

Dark Matches
1. Alex "Sugarfoot" Payne & Ninja Blue vs. Hunter Matthews & Jordan McIntyre - D:1 A:1

D: Ninja Blue? Jesus Scrap Iron is that the best you can up with? Sound like the Garbage Man gimmick I was using in the backyard. A lot of blown spots in this one with none of them being too techincal. Just basic wrestling. That gerber baby look alike Sugarfoot was the only one who showed promise. Sprinkle some salt on these boys, they need some seasoning.

A: This was about the quality of the stuff you would see on Hulk Hogan's "Celebrity Championship Wrestling". By that I mean they didn't stray too far from the basic formula. Believe it or not, Payne was the most experienced. The ninja's costume looked like it came from the local thrift store, complete with imitation sword. I must agree with Didge when he said that these boys need some seasoning, although I would prefer some paprika and thyme, because this was salty enough to leave a bad taste.

2. Bobby Dempsey vs. Ninja Yellow - D:0 A:1

D: This was a dark match squash. Ninja Yellow (see comments from first match)! I think there was four moves in this match with the fin being a cradle DVD. Alot of bad strikes by that ninja. Go back to working security at the show bitch!

A: This was a squash in more ways than one. Not only did Dempsey make quick work of the other generic ninja (who's to say it's not the same ninja from before but with a different color belt), he squashed the poor jobber's neck with a sick finisher. This one gets a mercy point only for the fin.

Main Show

1. Brent Albright vs. Davey Richards - D:3 A:5

D: I was really disappointed in this match. This was a grudge match but it only went ten minutes? These guys never got out of first gear. Davey's strikes were hit and miss and a lot of Sweet and Sour interference. This matched was phoned in. No one took a bump, no high impact moves, and not many hard strikes which both men are known for. Sad!

A: I was looking forward to this match but it didn't deliver to my full expectations. The crowd was super quiet. Davey and Albright have a good chemistry together and I think they would've benefited if they had more time to develop their match. Albright did score the win following some Sara Del Ray, Larry Sweeney, and Bobby Dempsey interference. Afterwards, the slow build to the eventual Dempsey turn continued with a beatdown until Albright scared them off. There was enough presented to warrant a decent score but with more time, these two could have a kick-ass match.

Nigel McGuinness Promo!
D: Nigel McGuinness cut a promo where he declared that his 3-Way Title Match was going to be Non-Title. Oh, ok it's cool to just change your mind in a middle of a show. Not that we paid good hard earned money for a show to see a title match. Sorry Adam, no live title change for you! And what is the deal with a new backstage interviewer some random Randy Orton look alike with tats! And if your a backstage interviewer why aren't you backstage?

A: I wasn't too pleased with the backstage interviewer, either. I believe his name was Kyle Durden and it looked like had just stepped out of the local American Eagle store with fresh duds on. Anyway, this dude had Nigel come out and then Nigel cut a promo mentioning, among other things, that the main event would be non-title and that Dayton was a "shithole". This was a blatant bait-and-switch on the main event.

2. Go Shiozaki vs. Sami Callahan vs. Rhett Titus vs. Grizzly Redwood (Four-Corner Survival) - D:3 A:3

D: Grizzly Redwood is Mich Franklin in a fucking lumberjack gimmick. Flannel, suspenders and large beard. He was doing chops to the the legs like he was chopping down a tree but they were weak sauce. Lay that shit in. Rhett Titus is funny as hell. He actually showed up to work but he didnt bump either. Sami Callahan needs to leave his bush league indy garb at home. Stevens did it, why can't you? He was trying to do some NOAH strike spots with Go but it wasn't working out. The only reason this gets a score was for Go not handing over. He laid in some stiff chops, some good Moves and the "Go Flasher" finisher live is tremendous. Liked Go but flush the rest down the toilet.

A: I saw a vignette of Redwood earlier on before I left for the show. I was a fan until I saw his work. His double axe-handles to the legs of his opponents were weak and his act was all comedy. Callahan I remember from HWA television in 2006. He was shit then as a supposed cannonball but he seems to have improved a bit since then. They worked a little thing with Go and Rhett Titus during the match where Titus played like he was afraid of Go. Speaking of Go, this whole match seemed like a light workout for him and he seemed really out of place.

3. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Irish Airborne (Jake & Dave Crist) - D:2 A:4

D: Well Irish Airborne blew their shot at getting back on the roster and most of their spots in this match. In the beginning the Briscoes were hot, but after a Jay Briscoe snapmare where he runs off the ropes to deliver a dropkick, Dave Crist is motionless except for his chewing gum waiting for the boots. God, are you even gonna try to sell or what? It instantly mad me laugh out loud. Another blown springboard spot by Dave seemed to blow Mark's knee out in which they automatically went to the fin of a stuff piledriver on Jake for the win. Mark limped to the back and Jay was definitely pissed. Sorry Crist's, just wait for my friend Dusty to give you a call to do another EWF match in front of 60 fans you spot monkeys.

A: As much as I hate to admit it, I used to think the Irish Airborne were cool. The first time I saw them was in this same building under Lotus and Crazy J. Since then, I've realized that their work was shit. This was their return to ROH and they looked awful. Dave just sat on the mat, emotionless, chewing his gum and waiting for Jay Briscoe to hit the spot. The Briscoes dominated the Airborne. Cut to the end and Dave fucks up a springboard and Mark's knee in the process. After this, Jay and Mark stuffed Jake and walked to the back, super pissed. Hey Airborne, go back to making pizzas at the Wright State cafeteria. This gets a decent score because of the Briscoes doing their usual and having a good match.

4. Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero (Lights Out Match) - D:3 A:4

D: Roderick looked like he has lost about 20 pounds. This matched sucked Del Ray dick! Hero dominated most of the match with only half of his strikes landing and the other half slapped off the side of his banana colored pants. The only time it picked up was when Strong was on offense. I just can't belive that a man with less upperbody build that Richard Simmons is gonna knock everyone out! It's not gonna happen. You can tell the Pearce fingerprints on this match with the run in no contest shit. God, your fucking up the fed - can't you see that you pasty fuck!

A: I was looking forward to this match as well but it failed to meet the expectations I had for it. That being said, it was a decent match and would've gotten an extra point had it not been for the dogshit fin. Roderick's chops were on as usual and he hit a couple of sick backbreakers that I enjoyed thoroughly. Hero's offense was crap as usual and somehow grew a beard, despite ever hitting puberty. This, of course, led the ROH fans to immediately compare him to Triple H. Huh? Anyway, the fin saw God and everyone run in to end this one in a no-contest, a decision the fans were more than upset with.

5. Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Delirious - D:4 A:5

D: This match was ok for the fact it has some decent tag work. There was some heel stalling from Jacobs and Delirious which I expected. These guys broke a sweat but didn't bust their ass either. But that seems to be par for the course for Dayton. The tag champs were over huge. Well, as huge as they could be for this shitty crowd. Most guys got their move set off. Then some Titus distraction of Delirious ended the match. I would have given it a five but I cant recommened an average forgettable tag with a bad fin.

A: This was a good match. Jacobs and Delirious just coasted through the bout, doing only what was necessary to entertain the fans in attendance. Steen and Generico, however, put forth their usual good efforts. There was one spot where Generico was in a headlock and the fans were chanting "Ole!" and stopped. Steen called out from the apron "don't stop!" and the fans started chanting again to energize Generico. Then, Rhett Titus ran down to distract Delirious, who was then rolled up for a pin. Jacobs verbally berated Delirious afterwards, then hugged him. Uh ... ok?

6. Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli - D:6 A:6

D: Danielson doesn't take a day off. He should tell the rest of the boys in the back that. Claudio looked good as well as this matched started out on the outside hot with some europeans. Bryan's sell is really off the charts. It's the little things he does that only can be caught by the trained eye is what makes him the best wrestler in the states. These guys turned it up but not all the way as the match was just too short ... fifteen minutes maybe. Like in the match prior, they pretty much went through their move set, and just when you think Claudio had the match in the bag, Danielson's small package gets him the win. After the match Claudio tries to damage Bryan's knee even more with some chair shots. This brings the Irish Airborne out to stop the madness. Why the Airborne? And they fuck it up too with Dave no selling a gutwrench but Claudio muscles him over any way is a weird altercation.

A: I agree with Didge when he says that Danielson never takes a day off. This was definitely the best match of the show. They did some good brawling on the outside to start off and it showed the emotion involved in the match. Claudio controlled the majority of the match. Both men looked crisp but the match only went about 15 minutes. The fin saw Danielson get out of a Ricola Bomb and get a small package for the win. Afterwards, Claudio went after Danielson's knee with a chair in an effort to become a more full-fledged heel. This was a solid bout but nothing really out of the ordinary.

7. Austin Aries vs. Tyler Black vs. Nigel McGuinness - D:5 A:5

D: Nigel took the night off too. Non-title bullshit. Nigel started the match by wrist work on both men to prove he's the better wrestler. Wow, you proved your point. Tyler Black has won me over. Hes put on some more weight and now looks great. This was maybe the only match other than Danielson/Claudio where the timing was on. Aries actually took a couple spills to the outside. But once again the match just seemed like a exhibition because it was about fifteen minutes long with Aries pinning Black. It was a good match but it just doesn't have any legs. The victory by Aries just seemes anticlimatic.

A: I'm curious as to why they put Black and Aries in the same match, since they have a similar facial look these days. This match definitely had potential but they never really stepped up and went to the next level. Nigel just lingered around mostly and not really putting forth much effort. Aries hit all his trademark shit as did Black. Once the match was changed to non-title, you had to figure that either Black or Aries had to come out looking strong. Aries did get the win, which gave him some momentum going into his match the next night.


D: This was a disappointing show. There were two big problems ... one, the crowd was dead. The quitest ROH crowd I have ever heard. They just couldn't get into the matches, except the section we were in was the comedy section where random bad puns were flying back a forth with shitty brititsh humor, sexual harrassment of Allison Wonderland (and she did look hot), and Sweeney shouts. Second, the workers didn't show up to wrestle. They had a PPV taping in Chicago the next day so no one wanted to shoot their wad for a shitty Dayton crowd with matches that didn't even matter. Except for Go, Danielson, and Claudio, everyone mailed it in. This wasn't a ROH show it was a exhibition. My friend Neal was with us, and he works at Hot Topic, and a funny thing he told me was he could pick out 8 different accessories from the store that the Age of the Fall were sporting. Wow, what message are they really sending. Down with comformity? In closing, I will not be returning to a ROH show anytime soon being it was shitty or they don't return to Dayton with is a real possiblity. Man that crowd was dead!

A: It seems like I've beat this point to death but, on paper, this show had potential but it seemed like most everyone took the night off and saved all their energy for the pay-per-view taping the next night. There was really nothing on this show that I would go out of my way to seek out and was a disappointment overall. Afterwards, at Denny's, one of the Irish Airborne walked in and someone at the table said it appropriately, as it was "ego stroke time" for the sandwich-making wannabe star. The last recommended Dayton show was "Breakout" in January 2008. I've heard that ROH may eliminate Dayton from the schedule and if so, the April date will most likely be the last. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the XVW morons that I ripped apart back in the spring, were handing out flyers for their next abomination. I don't even think I need to comment on that mess.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story

It's been 3 years since the passing of Eddie Guerrero now. The wrestling landscape has changed dramatically; unbeknownst to him, his best friend in the industry, Chris Benoit, suffered severe mental and physical trauma to his brain, from various sources and murdered his family and himself. His wife, Vickie, is now a full time personality on WWE TV where she married another performer after the company had used his name as a marketing tool and in various storylines. He's been treated as if he's an intellectual property, an object for them to use at their will for whatever purpose they deem fit. It's not been funny and it's certainly not been entertaining. It's been a bastardization of a great man and a great performer. He was inducted into the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, a well desereved honor, but even then, internet fans were abuzz with talks of whether it was too early, or he simply was inducted because he died. Eddie's death alone has been a hard pill for hardcore fans to swallow and even harder for diehard Eddie fans, such as myself and the subsequent treatment of his name has been a downright criminal act, in my eyes. It's gotten to such a degree that I saw a Rey Mysterio dress up play set, complete with Eddie Guerrero armband in a store the other day. Now, there's a new 3 disc Best of set featuring loads of his greatest matches on it, a nice tribute, but ultimately it feels like another way to make some money off of his name. I bought the original Eddie Guerrero DVD, when he was still with us and felt there was no more appropriate time to honor him then by doing the best thing we can do on our little blog and that is to review it, unbiasedly and not handing over to anything on it, as our motto is. So, the following is such:

I'll start with the documentary video. It's only 43 minutes, which feels much too abbreviated to spend on a man with a career of 18 years under his belt. They start with the Guerrero family legacy, Eddie talks about each family member and what he learned from them. He talks about being very close to his father, legendary Gory Guerrero and his mother both, requesting she carry him until he's 3 years old. There's some neat footage of the ring in the Guerrero backyard, where all the brothers and probably neighborhood kids would gather and play in. They talk about Eddie' determination to become a pro wrestler and how good of a student he was, naturally picking up the skills necessary to compete in the ring. They breeze through his career wrestling in Mexico, Japan, ECW and WCW very quickly, briefly mentioning becoming friends with Malenko & Benoit, teaming with his brothers, his feud with Malenko, and a match with Rey from Havoc. WCW is a focal point mostly from a personal stand point, Eddie goes into great detail about his drug and alcohol abuse and the horrible tragedies that befell him and his family stemming from them. There are a lot of segments with Eddie during the video, mostly of him cruising his old home town, stopping at his old school, arena, and his favorite taco stand where he buys the whole restaurant food and drink. He stops briefly under a bridge that's been graffittied all to hell and he discusses it being the artwork of his people, even comparing it to the drawings of cavemen. Speaking about his love for Vickie and their rocky relationship are very gutwrenching and emotional parts, as well as his family talking about him OD'ing infront of their mother. Dean Malenko reveals that he and Benoit told Jim Ross to get him help behind his back, and Eddie finds out on camera and is hurt as well as admitting that they did the right thing but you can tell he's still hurt by the action.

Doc moves to WWE and Eddie hitting rock bottom, getting sent to rehab, Vickie leaving him, him relapsing several times and going to jail then getting fired from the company. Vince talks very highly of Eddie and Eddie mentions he appreciated the opportunity to be entertaining, such as the Mamacita stuff, the Los Guerreros promos and said he never saw himself like that but obviously the fans loved it. The mood picks up when after he hits rock bottom, he can go nowhere but up and started dating his wife again, gets remarried, starts working the indies and eventually gets rehired by the WWE, leading up to his match with Lesnar where he wins the WWE championship. It truly is an inspirational story. I remember a few years ago, I was living with my cousin, who was a recovered drug addict and we were watching this documentary together and it broke him down into tears, the remarkable story and struggle to become a normal human being again, while at the same time fighting addiction every single day. He related to that and there's a moment in the video where Eddie states that he hopes people who are struggling with what he struggled with can look at his story and help themselves, saying if Eddie can get clean, maybe I can too. It's such an emotional journey, while the doc is light on wrestling related stuff, the personal pain and hell he put himself and his family through and him rising above that is so amazing, it really propels this video high above most of the other ones I've seen.

The one glaring mistake and annoyance in this video was the loud rock and faux Latino music played throughout the entire thing, and played at the highest volume they could have given it. A lot of this doc has some very personal interviews and is spoken in quiet tones, so the music completely drowns out the voices during the early part of this, which is completely unexcusable. At the end, we get credits of all the artists and music featured, as well as having their actual videos on the extras section. If I bought an Eddie Guerrero DVD, you think I give a shit if Finger Eleven's latest vid featuring them on a chessboard is on it? Give me a break.

Disc 1

1) The Guerrero Brothers (Chavo, Hector, & Mando) v. Rock n' Roll RPM's/ Cactus Jack (Super Clash III 12/13/88)- 3

RPM's are shit. Mike Davis was much better after he found the moon rock. Even Foley was green as astroturf here, throwing really bad caveman punches at Mando and taking a backdrop outside on concrete with no aftersell, even after some really fancy leg work. This was clearly a vehicle for the Guerreros to display their flipping and flying and it barely succeeded at that. The brawl at the end to set up the finish looked like drunk employees at the company Christmas party trying to get togther for a picture.

2) Los Gringos Locos (Eddie/ Art Barr) v. El Hijo del Santo/ Octgon (2 out of 3 Falls Elimination Mask v. Hair Match; AAA When Worlds Collide PPV 11/16/94)- 6

This match doesn't hold up to my fond memories of it, although I noticed in the third caida it jumped forward a bit, not sure what or why the producers decided to cut out. The crowd heat was off the charts, the LA Sports Arena filled with die hard Lucha fans and Eddie & Art playing the best heels they could, making swimming motions as if they jumped in the drink to get there. First caida goes fast with the heels dominating for an easy win. Barr is such a natural at the sport, bumping huge and playing to the crowd so well. 2nd caida gets down to Octagon for the super comeback and featured one of the most beautiful Lucha dive spots of all time as Santo and Octagon hit picture perfect suicide dives to the floor- they were the very mathematical definition of "parallel." 3rd caida gets really dramatic, as Barr hits the dreaded piledriver (illegal in AAA) to eliminate Octagon and they do a whole stretcher angle for him, as the tecnicos 2nd, Blue Panther evens the score with his own piledriver. Barr and Octagon are superb, lying on the mat for the whole 3rd round as if in a coma. Eddie and Santo go out with Eddie hitting huge power move one after the other trying to put the legend away, but can't do it and gets pinned in a rollup for a face win. Some of the spots were pretty bad looking, as far as technical aspect and there certainly were some flubs, such as the Gringos trying to outdo the faces suicide dives and failing miserably, but all in all this is still a wonderful match and introduction into AAA at the time, probably the strongest match on this legendary card.

3) Eddie Guerrero v. Dean Malenko (2 out of 3 Falls; ECW 08/24/95)- 7

So, this is both men's final match in ECW and the emotion from the crowd is really superb, constantly re-starting a "Please don't go" chant during this long encounter. Each fall tells a distinct story, not to mention Joey Styles' stroking both men's dicks througout the whole thing like they deserved to be touched. First fall has it's problems but is all ground work, jockeying for position and armdrags and counters and they know each other so well it comes off well but there are a few missteps, which I feel can be accounted to wanting to put on a good match for the crowd. The match feels more like a performance than almost any other match I can recall, as if they are doing it solely for the audience's approval, not a paycheck or out of obligation. It makes the match feel more special, regardless of the few botched technical spots that happen. 2nd fall is all Dean, he goes to work on Eddie's leg and doesn't relent until he gets the tap out with the Cloverleaf. I had some selling issues in this, from Eddie's end where he neglects to sell the leg after Dean throws a nasty dropkick, and in my mind, I'm thinking he doesn't think the fall is going down that path, but that's where it goes so the non-selling looks really odd in retrospect. The 3rd fall is what makes this match memorable- it's all high spots and near falls, from the minute Gerrero gets back in the ring after taking a veteran like breather outside after tapping. There are some selling issues here, as far as ROH style getting back up after every move, but it's not as bad as you would think, heavy breathing and slowed movement on some moves are the subtle ways these guys sell the pain. The finish is a draw (not spoiling anything; if you haven't seen this match yet, you must have only started watching during our current Cena-era) while unsatisfying it feels like exactly what the fans wanted. Still is a classic match. You forget how crisp Dean is in the ring, probably one of the smoothest performers we've ever seen.

4) Eddie Guerrero v. Chris Jericho (WCW Fall Brawl '97)- 6

I liked the style of this match, it was very old school. Jericho kept pulling the armdrag into armlock, and Eddie kept going to the ref complaning about hair pulls. They used this formula for the first 6 minutes or so, throwing in little spots here and there. Eddie took over control and kept Jericho grounded with some locks that were used more for weardown than anything else. They broke out the high impact stuff too, but later on, such as top rope dropkicks, brainbusters and a German suplex release that had Eddie thinking he was back in a Barrio, wrapping a rubber tube around his arm and injecting misc. substances in while an old Friends episode was on TV. The finish worked and was really cool, actually, Jericho tried to hit a superplex and Eddie readjusted in mid air causing Jericho to crash hard on his head, and as soon as he hit the mat, Eddie sprinted up to the buckle to hit the frog and regain the Cruiserweight Championship.

5) Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio jr (WCW Halloween Havoc '97)- 8

This match has been talked about and talked about as the greatest cruiserweight match in WCW's history, even receiving the prestigious 5 star rating from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer newsletter. I agree that every match should be graded on it's own merit and even though this one is 13 minutes and some change, doesn't mean it shouldn't be talked about as one of the greatest matches in the history of the US. So, is it? That's the question. I just re-watched it again, after reviewing it for Rey's Littlest Big Man set and I am sticking with my grade of 8, which is highly regarded and recommended for those of you who haven't seen it, you seriously need to wake the hell up and go back and see the reckless Rey, who could hit the cleanest craziest moves you've ever seen and Eddie when he was lean, mean, coked up machine who could go and was better than anyone in the world at that time. The pace is back and forth and they really keep the audience in the palm of their hands throughout. The story couldn't be better but the action even surpasses the in-ring story they tell with fast paced Lucha action at it's most American and at it's best. I think it's amazing in it's own right, and I think for the story they told, they kept it at the right length and it's the greatest example of the caliber of talent that WCW employed at that time, and that it wasn't pushed correctly. Playing Devil's advocate though, it's hard to be able to compare this match to some of the other greatest matches when most of those were hard, long bitter affairs of great length and even deeper storytelling. It's an interesting conundrum, be interested in what anyone else thought on it.

Disc 2

1) Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero jr (Hair v. Hair Match, WCW Bash at the Beach '98)- 4

This was utterly ridiculous- apparently Chavo had 2 matches back to back, one vs. Eddie and one vs. Stevie Ray (funnycar racing fan) which even Schiavone admitted he had no idea why Stevie Ray was out there. well, Chavo gives up in a handshake, much to the chagrin of Eddie, who now has to face a fresh Chavo. There's a lot of stalling by Eddie and goofy antics by Chavo (a staple of his career, no wonder it's hard to take him seriously). There was some ass biting, some begging off, but overall the match didn't add up to a lot. Chavo was still fairly green at this point with no real selling going on with some of the offensive moves and not being able to properly sell Eddie's ground work. Eddie looked like he had just binged the night before because his facials seemed to indicate he was thinking more about what to order at Denny's that night than how to show how much that Euro uppercut hurt. They did the stealing finishers spot near the end, but the lack of crowd heat really was killing a lot of the match. Quick rollup from Eddie and Chavo plays the crazy man by shaving his own head, in the meanwhile throwing out the line "this is hard to do because I put so much gel in my hair!" and people paid for this!

2) Eddie Guerrero v. Rob Van Dam (Intercontinental Title Ladder Match; WWE Raw 05/27/02)- 5

Something was off about this match for me, some confusion and awkwardness in the work from both guys, like an unfamiliarity. Some spots came off well though, the first contact with the ladder was violent and popped RVD right in the nose. Eddie hit a sunset flip powerbomb that probably made Rob squirt out the herbal tea he had for lunch that afternoon. RVD hit his usual spots (something's wrong when you have "usual" spots in a ladder match) and were done with varying degrees of success except for the Frog splash at the end where he completely fell off the ladder. Eddie did some attacking of the leg which fizzled out halfway through, not sure where that was going. Ultimately, this match wasn't all tied together and felt more like a random assortment of moves than a complete match. The finish was pretty anticlimatic as well so can't really recommend this one.

3) Los Guerreros v. Edge/ Rey Mysterio v. Chris Benoit/ Kurt Angle (WWE Tag Team Title Triangle Match; Survivor Series '02)- 6

These 3 teams were having a great series of matches with each other back in late '02 when Smackdown adopted a Tag Strap, probably the last great series of tag wrestling WWE has had. Sure, two of the teams were thrown together, but they had great chemistry. Angle steals Steve Austin's hugging bit and does it better, even Benoit gives the perfect "what the hell are you doing" expression. The first 15 minutes is pure adrenaline, just constant action, almost like an intricate stage production where guys are coming in on cues and hitting big spots then rolling out. While the action is all really fun and high impact, there's little chance to sell anything properly, hiding under the ring while everyone else gets their turn doesn't count in my book. But, it's still a load of fun to watch. Benoit and Angle get eliminated first, who were the favorites, and after that, the match takes a complete down turn into a slow, plodding beatdown of Edge until Guerreros use a lame title shot to get the pin. The last 6 or 7 minutes was a complete departure from the energy the whole rest of the match had and brought the score down some- still worth watching though, as all 6 men are or were at this time dynamite in-ring performers.

4) Eddie Guerrero v. Chris Benoit (WWE US Title Match; Vegeance '03)- 6

This match was for the newly reinstated US title. I found it funny Cole kept naming former champions but neglected to mention the fact that both of these men had already held the title. Anyways, you could see right from the beginning they were into the story, which was that they were so evenly matched, they kept going tit for tat. Great armdrags, dropkicks, everything matching. Even superplexes which Benoit's back version looked like it blew Eddie's spine out of his back, like a Scorpion fatality. Their chemistry is what really makes this match, they can turn it on in an instant and just go, stringing moves and counters together in a beautiful violent tapestry then they can switch it back to a ground lock instantly. Benoit kept trying the crossface a lot, putting the pressure on Eddie. Classic Latino Heat transpired when the ref went down and Eddie took the belt and tried to get the win. Benoit kicks out so Eddie gives that classic smirk and blasts the ref with the title, lays it on Benoit's chest, then lays down next to the ref feigning he was hit. He keeps looking up from the ground but the ref never revives. This loses some major pointage for the interference of Rhyno, goring Benoit and giving Eddie the victory. Plus the ref bump stuff took way too long and pulled some of the fire from this match. Not their best by far, but still very good. Plus, I must mention Benoit's ridiculous tights- one leg said "Toothless Aggression" yeah that was selling a lot of T-shirts and the other had a visage of a growling wolf- wait a minute, I thought he was the "rabid wolverine." what's this disease ridden mangy dog doing on Benoit's left leg? Did anyone else notice this, as in the wardrobe dept? Completely stupid.

5) Eddie Guerrero v. Brock Lesnar (WWE Heavyweight Title Match; No Way Out '04)- 8

Let me start off by saying that when Eddie arrives into the arena (via a Lowrider El Camino in glossy cherry red) the Cow Palace is erupting like Mt. St. Helens, spewing mountains of admiration and love for Eddie like molten lava. This match shows the maturity Lesnar gained during his stint and may be his finest work. It's played as an overmatched challenege for Eddie, but his confidence is just beaming from his face, as if he knows he has a game plan. Lesnar keeps suplexing him and telling him he's overmatched, over and over again, great heel stuff. He hits a high knee in the corner early on, which is only important because he gets cocky and goes for it again, and Eddie moves, with the big man tumbling over the top to the floor. Eddie seeks opportunity and works Brock's knee against the post then punishes it with repeated dropkicks to the knee, which Brock sells fantastically. Later, he holds one leg up while throwing Eddie all over the ring. Brilliance. What's he see in Sable (nothing to do with the review, just wondering?)

Brock screams at Eddie several times, "Just die Eddie!" "Why won't you die Eddie?" It shows frustration aplenty on Brock's part. Your usual ref bump and the F5 but no count. Brock gets the title belt and decides to cheat to beat Eddie, but new enemy Goldberg comes in with the spear. Near fall but match not over. Glad it didn't end that way like the other match with Benoit, they basically just did to set up that shitty Mania match, but at least they let Eddie be the master of his own destiny. Eddie flashes that evil grin again and goes for the belt but Brock counters into another F5 but Eddie reverses into Tornado DDT, then up top for the frog splash, which he rests at the top for a moment, basking in the awesomeness of the moment. Eddie hits it and picks up the win and the WWE Title. It's a pretty amazing celebration that follows afterwards- you have to be a damn zombie not to feel the passion and excitement pouring through your TV set during this moment and it makes the whole match feel even more special. Eddie dives into the crowd, and you know WWE being very anti crowd interaction had some security dudes pull him out. He even celebrates with his madre and hijo Mando in a heartfelt moment. Both men played their roles to perfection and the match had deep story and went about 33 minutes. It's probably one of the longest Title matches in recent memory that wasn't filled with tables, ladders and chairs. The moment though, that even made me choke up, was Eddie getting to the top of the entrance ramp, and getting down on his knees and looking up, not to God, but to his father, the great Gory Guerrero and telling him "This was for you, Dad." It's been my honor to write this review.

Immediately after Eddie's tragic death, afforded fans the opportunity to say something directly to Vickie Guerrero and the Guerrero Family. You were able to write a message, 100 words or less, to them that would be compiled in a large book and given to the family with all of the messages from the fans. I'm including my message in conclusion.

"I don't know Eddie Guerrero, nor have I ever met him personally or spoken to him, but ever since his passing, I've felt like I lost a personal friend. After watching him weekly for the last 10 years, I feel like I know him better than some of my own family. His story is a courageous one, especially with myself having close relatives who have fought and are fighting the war against drug addiction.

So, I consider Eddie a friend, one who I've spent the last 10 years with and a friend I will deeply miss."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Audio Review: WWE Survivor Series '08

Click here to listen to our audio review of this past weekend’s big WWE pay-per-view Survivor Series ’08! After viewing the show at Hooter’s we immediately busted out the audio recorder on the drive home and gave our uncouth and uncontrollable thoughts. Here us discuss the return of Cena, Kozlov’s need for more seasoning, Edge’s new beard, a rare lousy Undertaker match, our waitress looking like Pam Beasley of The Office but with unbelievable tits, people falling from Cobo Hall, extra saucy shrimp, how astoundingly good Randy Orton is, the return of the DDT, and much more. It’s a raucous and wild time in our most outrageous audio review yet!

WWE 24/7 Shorties: Take Me Out to the Brawl Game

Ah yes, baseball and wrestling, my two favorite pastimes. I’m not sure whether I should consider it a blessing or a curse that the theme for this past October on WWE 24/7 was “Take Me Out to the Brawl Game”, featuring baseball related items pertaining to the world of wrestling. More specifically, the “Shorties” section featured baseball themed moments and matches from the vast archives of WWE. Let’s see how well the two mix together. The matches will be scored as usual but I’ll be offering an “up” or “down” when rating the segments. Up means it was good and down, well, means the opposite. Bust out the peanuts … it’s time to head to the stadium!

Hosted by Abe “Knuckeball” Schwartz (a.k.a. Steve Lombardi a.k.a. Brooklyn Brawler in really bad face paint resembling a baseball and a generic uniform).

1) Cactus Jack & Mikey Whipwreck vs. Public Enemy (Brawl Game Match – ECW November to Remember 1994) – 2
The object of this awful excuse for a match is to beat down one of the member of the opposing team so bad that they can’t answer a 10-count. If you are successful in doing this, then your team gets to use baseball bats for the remainder of the match. Mikey took the brunt of the PE’s punishment. It breaks down really early and the ref loses control. Jack takes some powder in the eyes and DDTs Mikey thus allowing PE to get the ten count. Mikey and Rocco brawl to where there are convientley two tables set up for Rocco to use. Rocco stacks them but then Sabu gets involved and knocks Rocco through them in a shitty spot What the fuck is up with this one shitty camera angle? We don’t even see the bump? Back to the ring and Mikey gets some more punishment with the bats and PE wins. Cactus was almost non-existant. Could someone please tell me one positive thing about this shit?

2) The Four Horsemen Attack Dusty Rhodes (NWA World Championship Wrestling – 10/25/86) – Up
This was awesome! Tony Schiavone and David Crockett set up the story and the tape rolls. We’re in the car with the Horsemen as they see Dusty drive by and then tail him to Crockett’s office where they proceed to beat the ever loving crap out of him with a bat. They (Ole, Arn, Tully, JJ) tie Dusty to the side of a truck and smash his hand with the bat. This was an awesome piece of footage that still holds up today. The violence and the ingenuity of this is something that you just won’t see in today’s watered-down WWE. We then cut to a brief match with Dusty & Nikita Koloff battling Ole & JJ in a cage. Nothing to the match. Nikita beats Ole out of the cage and JJ gets bloodied, beaten, and pinned. Here’s the video of it … it’s a different show but it’s the same segment, sans the cage match. Enjoy!

3) Pete Rose Insults Boston (WWF WrestleMania XIV) – Down
This was exactly what the title says. Pete Rose comes down before the Undertaker/Kane match as the guest ring announcers and insults the crowd about how the Red Sox couldn’t win the World Series and my favorite line “I left tickets for Bill Buckner but he couldn’t bend over to pick ‘em up.” That went over the heads of so many people in the crowd. Kane comes out and tombstones ol’ Petey. Cut to Pete’s Hall of Fame induction (WWE, not baseball) and he’s totally clueless. I guess if Bud Selig won’t give him his well deserved place in the hall, I guess Vinnie Mac will.

4) Abe “Knuckeball” Schwartz vs. Ron Cumberledge (WWF Superstars – 10/1/94) – 2
This was Vince’s lame attempt at taking a jab at Major League Baseball after the players went on strike in the middle of the 1994 season. Schwartz comes out to a cheesy rock version of “Take Me Out To the Ballgame”. This is shit. Vince and Lawler drop a ton of baseball related references on commentary and even name drop Ken Griffey Jr., John Kruk, and Marge Schott. Schwartz does a bit where he feigns kicking dirt on the referee and the ref gives him a look of utter confusion. A sloppy superplex sends Cumberledge to the showers and hopefully Schwartz back to the minors. Nothing to note here aside from this being utterly ridiculous and the fans not caring in the least.

5) Hulk Hogan vs. Sting (WCW Fall Brawl 1999) – 1
Both men’s laziness pretty much sinked this one from the get-go. You could tell neither guy wanted to be there. Run-ins galore to finish this one from DDP, Bret Hart, Sid Vicious, and Lex Luger. I’m not exactly sure why. Luger brings a bat with him. Oh, I guess that’s where the baseball theme came in for this. Sting wins and the fans trash the ring, mostly out of disgrace after having their intelligence insulted. Luger has mustard on the side of his shirt from where some rube chucked a hot dog at him. Fuck both of you … this sucks!

6) Dusty Rhodes Attacks Tully Blanchard (NWA World Championship Wrestling – 3/26/88) – Up
Rhodes should be in the big leagues for the way he swung the lumber here! We start off with Magnum T.A. talking about his injury and possible comeback for a bit until Tully interrupts him. Moments later, Dusty comes out swinging the heavy lumber and absolutely murders Tully with the bat. I mean, damn, those were some stiff shots, including choking Tully against the ringpost. Eventually, hordes of other wrestlers have to hold Dusty back. Damn! That was intense!

7) Mr. Perfect Trains with Wade Boggs (WWF Superstars – 12/26/92) – Up
Boggs presents us with the perfect hitter … Mr. Perfect, who summarily drills numerous home runs, much to the dismay of the rookie pitcher. Afterwards, we cut to Boggs inducting Perfect into the Hall of Fame and the acceptance speech from his widow. Nothing more to say. It’s on the new Perfect DVD, watch it there. You’ll only need about 90 seconds for the skit itself.

8) Public Enemy Trains at the Batting Cage (ECW Hardcore TV – 6/29/95) – Down
Rocco Rock hits a few balls in the cage then exits to find Johnny Grunge with a bunch of shit he must’ve shoplifted from the local sporting goods store, including a cheap Detroit Tigers hat, a bright orange running shoe, and some wrap-around shades with both men giggling like tween girls who just spotted a hot guy from across the room. Then, in the blink of an eye, they get serious, and spout off some revised PE version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. To quote the horse from Ren & Stimpy, “No sir, I don’t like it.”

9) Dave Winfield and Dave Righetti Interview (WWF @ MSG – 5/19/86) – Down
Pointless is the perfect word to sum this up. Gorilla Monsoon interviews the two players and mistakenly calls Righetti “Steve”, who plays it off by sayings “that’s my brother”. King Kong Bundy comes in after Gorilla gives him one of the most blatanly obvious cues ever and talks to the players. Heenan comes in and is then followed by some dude with a bushy ‘stache and complete 80’s casual garb who calls himself Winfield and Righetti’s manager. Bundy and Heenan leave and I’m left scratching my head, deeming if that was perhaps the most pointless thing I’ve ever seen.

10) Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley (No Holds Barred Falls Count Anywhere Match – WWE Backlash 2004) – 8
Behold, I’ve found a jewel buried underneath piles of garbage! This is a match I’ve been wanting to re-watch for a while now and haven’t been able to since I’ve had a hell of a time finding the particular show it’s on. Foley hits the ring and we start off hot with barbed wire and trash cans. The action goes outside where Orton rattles Foley’s brain with three sick shots with a garbage can. A bit later, Foley starts his comeback and has the fans debate between either Socko or a barbed wire bat. The bat wins and Foley bloodies Orton with continual shots from the bat. Thumbtacks came into play a bit later in the match where Orton took a shirtless bump into a shit ton of tacks. Kudos to you kid! Action spills up the ramp and Foley throws Orton off into a strategically placed wooden box of some sort and does the trademark Cactus elbow drop moments later. These two guys are beating the hell out of each other! Orton fights back and jabs Foley in the face with the bat and two RKOs later, one of which was on said bat, picks up the victory in one of the most violent, bloody, and unmistakenly incredible matches I’ve ever seen. Foley needs to be commended for his performance as well. He went into the bout at around 275 pounds and put on a match people still talk about today.

After watching this compilation, I’ve definitley come to the conclusion that mixing baseball and wrestling is not a winning formula. Now, I’m headed to the dugout to throw this disc in the water cooler and smash it with George Brett’s pine tar covered bat ... that is after I salvage the Orton/Foley match and the two Dusty vids.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

UWF on ESPN Classic #1

Somewhere I try to find time on top of all of the WWE, TNA, MMA (UFC, Strikeforce, WEC, and more), and AWA (five one-hour programs weekly) programming to now watch Herb Abrams’ UWF which currently airs on Saturday mornings on ESPN Classics. Say so long Saturday morning fare like cartoons and hello to poorly produced half-hour wrestling shows featuring washed up grapplers and some of the worst enhancement talent to ever lace up a pair of borrowed boots. I’ve selected three matches entirely at random from recent episodes to give those less fortunate an opportunity to see what they’re missing out on.

1. Sunny Beach vs. Bob Orton, Jr. – 2

Sunny, if you’ve never see him, and I do remember only knowing of him as a kid through magazines, has a bleached blonde mullet, bad tan, and rocks fluorescent-colored swimsuits. Sunny starts off with arm work, and its not bad, Orton tries to armdrag his way out of it but Beach keeps his grip and rolls through to maintain the hold. Orton’s facial sells and body movements are borderline over-the-top but undeniably classic. John Tolos is Orton’s ringside manager, under his “Coach” guise, which he’d later use in a brief stint in WWF, but reminds me of my elementary school gym teacher Mr. Dupeer who was fired for molesting young boys so I can’t get into it. Orton takes a whip into the corner turnbuckles oddly, leaping into them groin-first. Orton drops a real hard knee onto a downed Beach’s skull, then lays in some mean stomps. Orton from the floor drops an elbow on Sunny who’s draped over the apron and absolutely kills him. Bob does an amusing booty shake before executing a splash. Orton almost dropped Beach twice while hoisting him up for a powerslam. There’s a random brawl that leads to a DQ and post-match brouhaha, including Orton selling a Steve Ray (who aped his look after Shawn Michaels’ Midnight Rockers run) dropkick by gingerly jumping over the top rope.

2. Don Muraco vs. Cactus Jack - 3

Jack gets whipped into the corner early and comes out with a vicious clothesline but Muraco goes down far too slow. Cactus is vocal while selling, which I dig. Jack rams Muraco’s head into the mat and Don does this hilarious delayed roll like a kindergartner on a play mat. Muraco’s facial sell on one punch looks like an old man hitting his knee on a sink. Out on the floor, Muraco goes into the steel ringpost shoulder-first which I applaud. Jack begins wildly walking all over the hotel lobby the show was taking place in, eventually finding a plastic garbage can far from ringside. Cactus does his famous elbow drop from the apron onto the floor, but soon after finds himself with the trash can over his own head at the hands of Muraco, surely not the first time Foley had found himself with garbage on his person. I assume this went to a time-limit draw as the bell eventually rang.

3. Pongo vs. Super Ninja – 0

This was a really fascinating study on burying talent. I don’t know the backstory here, but commentators Bruno Sammartino, Captain Lou Albano, and some other buffoon completely shit all over this admittedly terrible match—but it’s not just the fact that the performances are poor, there’s some kind of inside jab being volleyed that runs personal. Super Ninja is dressed head-to-toe in a baggy black outfit that sags and completely hides him, while Pongo is a skinny white guy wearing a black singlet with an odd airbrushed picture on the back that looks like a Nazi S.S. helmet/skull hybrid.

Pongo starts with some real poor, loose arm work as Bruno calls Ninja a “dimwitted halfwit.” Super Ninja does a leg sweep that comes off real bad. Later, Bruno calls out what he summed up as a, “very poorly executed arm drag.” The burial continues. Captain Lou says, “these guys must have been trained by Jim Barnett, or maybe Ted Turner had something to do with it” and then, “Jim Herd may want to use these guys for the WCW” to which the third announcer gasps in surprise. Pongo’s only wearing one elbow pad that looks like it was stolen from his kid’s skateboard safety set. Albano is being super sarcastic the entire time, saying things like, “ABC, CBS, NBC and the wrestling hall of fame” will all recognize this as “the greatest match of all time.” Super Ninja locks on some sort of hold controlling the arm and head on the mat and the referee calls for the pin fall although one of Pongo’s shoulders clearly wasn’t on the mat. Captain Lou says this match reminded him “of Killer Kowalski and Édouard Carpentier, same type of motions.” Can anybody answer for this shit?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Prom Date Vol. 10

In honor of my tenth No Prom Date review, I decided to dig through the musical archives of some good friends of the site, the Waffle Mafia, to select a prom & wrestling related song to accompany this piece. Here it is, previously unreleased, I believe, for your enjoyment. It's titled "Gail Kim Equals Prom Date".

1) HHH v. Batista (Hell in a Cell, Vengeance 2005)- 7

Batista as Darkseid in a Justice League film? Anybody? He's got the shoulders, he's definitley old enough, althought I'm still not sure how he got Kate Moss' hips. Here we have the finale of the long running feud between these two with Dave's big face turn. Expectations were quite low coming into this, but the match proved leaps and bounds better than anyone's wildest fantasies. First off, Dave brought more stiffness than normal here, he usually doesn't lay anything in but here he looked extra motivated. Trips was also with it here, throwing stiff leathery taped up soupbones all night long. I think this was Dave's real coming out party, not his premature ejaculation at Mania that year. Trips came with the massive Puerto Rican bladejob halfway through. The strange thing about this one is that the cage wasn't really part of the story. Neither one of these guys' were running from a fight, Trips had help from Flair during this period but that was nothing Dave couldn't handle. They both wanted to hurt each other, so the Cell is a strange stipulation to go to, I think this would have been fine as a Last Man Standing or something. They pulled out a barb wire steel chair halfway in, which you're thinking, "These two protected she-men? You know that's some rubber tipped shit." And you think that until the first shot goes into Dave's back and you can see the little blood bubbling up all over his tatted up massive Berlin Wall-like back. And then that's when the match hooks you. They do a bunch of chair spots, DDT's, overhead shots, lots of really fun wire stuff that makes you want to see some WING shit from back in the day. Both guys have gaping wounds on their heads and they never turn down the intensity. You could argue that Dave makes his own finish look like a fuck up, but then you'd have to slap that same warning on almost every one of his matches, they had some good near falls at the end to, leading to the finish and Trips eats another big slice of that humble pie. Excellent match, not really a true Hell in a Cell but a barbaric encounter nonetheless.

2) Quicksilver & Scorpio Sky v. Chris Bosh & Scott Lost (PWG 2nd Anniversary Show, July 9, 2005; NO DQ Match)- 4

Not sure why the faces need a manager- he doesn't add anything to this match at all. Both teams have some unique offense that I haven't seen employed in the double team manner and I like that. I'm kind of digging Lost- he has some skills in the selling dept and some unique moves that work here, ex. a running spear into a pin where he folds over with a bridge. The crowd is heatless though, for both the heels and the faces. Bosh needs work, his fatty physique and his non-expressive face may as well be sitting in the crowd from my chair. This has some pacing issues as well, the heels while on offense keep the match slow and methodical, but so do the faces? Aren't they supposed to be some kind of extension of a Luchadore team with quick flying moves? Not at all. There's a devastating sunset flip bomb to the floor with bad lighting near the end. There's a big dive sequence at the end that sucks worse than the concession food in that little arena. This match went on way too long- there was a big interference section from a bunch of shitheels, Quicksilver gets taken to back and it essentially becomes a handicap match that keeps going and going, completely losing me in the process. Slow ass small package like grandpa used to do gets the win.

3) Sgt. Krueger & Col. Deklerk v. Kahlua & Botswana Beast (WCW Clash of the Champions XIII- Thanksgiving Thunder)- 1

There's a lot going on here for such a shitty toilet bug of a match- this is the finals of the tournament to see who gets in the International Tag Tourney as the African Team Rep. so it's a real power struggle between the African countrymen and the African militia. I've actually reviewed the show that tourney is on (Starrcade 1990) so I know that the Steiners beat the militia's asses soundly but what we have here is a trainwreck of 4 men who have never even met and it shows. Can't believe this aired on TV. Krueger is just a sloppy brawler and Deklerk thinks he's in Tijauna the way he's back flipping and cartwheeling around the ring. Kahlua is a sloppy guy in Hammer shorts who's had one too many cheeseburgers and Botswana Beast (who I believe was in World Class or USWA at one point) looks like a damn serial killer. Botswana keeps using the powerslam over and over again and his selling to set up the finish is horrendous, he simply stands in the ring and takes 2 pansy flying ax handles from Krueger as the finish. Nothing even set them up, Beast just got up and stood there. the best moment in the match is when he enters and stares down the good Sgt. like he's about to rip his head off. I was cracking up out loud at some of the screw ups here and for a hearty chuckle, seek this out yourself- if your not in a comedy mood, fast forward to the main event and see Flair and Butch Reed get real physical with chops and meaty punches.

4) Ultimate Warrior v. Rick Rude (WWF Title Match- Saturday Night's Main Event 04/28/90)- 4

This was Rude when he got the short haircut, just like he was depicted on the old NES game WWF Wrestling Challenge- loved that one. Anyways, we were discussing that Warrior's instincts are still way off, attacking Rude with punches, then just leaving him standing there as he runs into the ropes while Rude sells like he doesn't know what's going on, and he's Warrior's best career opponent, unless you count Barry Horowitz. Rude barely took control at all here, just enough to keep audience interested in Warrior's meager comeback. There were some bad looking moves, but Rude is a bumper and did so just enough to make this passable. Heenan interfered and got bumped around in a snazzy sport coat in a DQ finish. Surprisingly this opened the show and while it wasn't the best Championship match I can remember, it did have a frenetic energy that's always good to start a show off with.

5) Davey Richards v. PAC (ROH Manhattan Mayhem II)- 7

Man, this was from last August and Davey Richards impressed the hell out of me here, so there's no telling how good he's going to be now coming back from NOAH. Everything he did worked for his character and to the strength of this match. Two perfect styles going against each other, PAC is the high flyer and bumper and Richards is the little human bomb, ready to explode with kicks, power moves and a killer kimora lock. Davey did a great job going back to the armlock consistently and wearing PAC down, the story is almost that Richards knows he's going to win, he just has to find a way to break this kid down and beat him. High spots galore, including PAC's ultra impressive backwards hurricanrana. All of Richards' little short forearms and elbows are so great at transitioning into other spots and they are stiff. PAC really captivated the crowd by playing perfect babyface in harm to Richards, whose only major flaw at this point was his movement inside the ring, still very awkward and hunched over, but he was in perfect control of the match. This wasn't so much as Richards leading but both men moving in perfect harmony for a common cause. Richards eventually gets the tap out in a stellar bout.

6) Ric Flair v. Hollywood Hogan (WCW Title, Uncensored 99 Steel Cage Razor Wire First Blood I Quit.....what the fuck is the stip of this?)- 2

On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd recommend you seeing this match as strongly as a 2. It's that shitty and it's the main event of this long, overbooked PPV. First off, why throw all of these extra stipulations in? Probably to mask the lazy work both men will put forth here. Flair gets busted open within the first 5 minutes, pretty badly, negating the 1st Blood stip. Hogan randomly gets the ref to give him a count on the ground, which he clearly didn't earlier in the match. And it finally ends after a bunch of stupid interference on the outside, dear God have mercy on Arn Anderson's soul for participating. He knows not what he does. Hogan sold the final weapon shot like he was trying to sit down in a beanbag chair, falling about 4 inches to the ground. Flair was so obvious in setting up his cage shots he practically fell into Hogan's arms. I saw a couple chops that worked, but that's about it. I know these guys collected a fat check for a big pile of cow manure they produced. Hope they wasted it on cell phones for their kids or prostitutes that had crabs.

7) Chris Hero v. Chad Collyer (MLW Reload Night 2- 01/09/04)- 3

This was perfectly fine for what it was, which seemed to be an enhancement match for Hero. Good, clean matwork took up the first part of this and made the most sense. I think Collyer has made a longer career out of being a Dean Malekno than Dean Malenko had. He does a half-hearted plancha outside that didn't make much sense. A lot of Hero's offense has virtually no impact, just makes the guy do a flat back bump. Didn't drag on too long, which was a bonus, because it didnt' need to. Hero has some really outrageous facials.

8) Shawn Michaels v. Chris Jericho (Last Man Standing Match, Raw 11/10/08)- 4

These two guys have had some of the best matches in WWE of the year, or at least some of the most heated with best storyline. This felt like a partial birth abortion of some of those matches. Filled with goofy antics utilizing the United Kingdom Raw set complete with old gas pumps and vintage buggies. HBK even broke out an old Stone Cold spot using the camera crane. All in all, while their chemistry is still clearly evident this was a poor excuse for the finale to this downright awesome feud. The near counts were decent but even they weren't done as well as most of the LMS matches. Some of the more insulting spots were Jericho being tossed off a stage oh, about 2 foot high where he runs it off like he's skidding through a field of wet grass and his "bump" looked like he was treding water into the shallow end of a local pool. Michaels hits an elbow from a ladder that for all and intents and purposes was as easygoing as those old harmonica players from the opening of "Chapelle's Show." JBL interfering in the end I could do without but the finish was timed well with Jericho eating a superkick while Michaels got bashed with a chair. Disappointing for the level of work these two are capable of.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #5

1. Kenta Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama (12/23/00) – 7
2. Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata (2/17/02) – 6
3. Kenta Kobashi & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Masao Inoue & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (7/5/02) – 5
4. Kenta Kobashi & Kentaro Shiga vs. Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (10/17/02) – 5
5. Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (3/1/03) – 9

Opening up the final disc is the first of many high profile battles between Kobashi and Akiyama. This match was nowhere near the level that their widely heralded 2004 match was, but it’s still a stong contest nonetheless. The action spilled to the outside early where Akiyama nailed a hard running lariat on the ramp. Moments later, he teased a t-bone suplex off of the ramp. Kobashi stood his ground and battled back until Akiyama regained control by injuring and controlling the right arm of Kobashi, thus negating the deadly chops. Kobashi’s arm was worn down to the point that he would hurt it if he executed only a single chop. On Kobashi’s end, he did bust out a sickening suplex on the ramp and finally polished off Akiyama with the upside-down Death Valley Driver (a.k.a. Burning Hammer). The match was slow in parts and Kobashi’s selling of the arm was absolutely awesome … just a mere forshadowing of their sick 2004 match that was the first match in the annals of Never Hand Over that scored a “10”.

The first of three tag matches on this disc was a fun match. It’s nice to see some post-WCW Yuji Nagata. Misawa and Nagata start us off. After a few minutes, Akiyama is tagged in and the crowd buzzes with anticipation to see Kobashi and Akiyama lock it up. The exchanges between the two powerhouses were definitely the highlights of the match for me. Kobashi was in serious trouble after Nagata was tagged in and gained control for his team. Nagata’s kicks were on the money and their primary target was Kobashi’s thigh muscle. There was a nice part where Kobashi would chop Nagata and then would get countered with a kick to the head. Misawa’s forearm smashes to the face were deadly as well. Misawa flew to the outside in a spot I wasn’t expecting him to do. The finish saw Akiyama get the fall on Kobashi after two Exploder suplexes.

Where to begin with the third match. Kobashi chopping the shit out of Inoue numerous times were the strong points of the bout. Inoue, if you’ve never seen him, is a pudgy little fuck that seems to be able to take grand amounts of punshiment. Suzuki I can’t say I’ve seen much of but what I did see wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Inoue’s team dominated much of the middle of the match. Inoue had some serious torque on his Boston crab and then Kanemaru and Suzuki brawled briefly in the crowd while Inoue paced casually in the ring. Once Kobashi got the tag, you could see in his eyes that he was pissed. The match ended with Kanemaru pinning Suzuki following a brainbuster. Personally, I didn’t really see anything too awesome about it. There wasn’t really much to the fourth bout either. Kobashi and Akiyama start it out but most of the match was run by Shiga and Kanemaru. There was a brawl up the aisle early on and Akiyama eats rampway courtesy of Shiga. One thing I found bad about that was that when Akiyama was coming back to the ring, he was just strolling up there as if nothing had happened and wasn’t selling his head until he got on the apron. There was more crowd brawling by Akiyama and Shiga towards the end this time with Akiyama getting the upper hand. Kobashi debuted some type of new finisher and got the pin on Kanemaru to end a pretty bland match.

Finally, closing out the disc and the set, is one of the most highly touted matches in recent history from Japan. Misawa works over the right arm early utilizing a top wristlock among other things to control Kobashi. Kobashi fights back in a show of sheer will and determination. Kobashi’s chops were stiff as ever and Misawa’s forearms were the same. Misawa split his chin open early after Kobashi ducked out of a lariat from the apron and Misawa ate railing. Afterwards, Kobashi showed no mercy and issued a vicious half-nelson suplex to Misawa on the floor. Later on, there was a pretty sick vertical suplex on to the ramp and then perhaps the spot of the match … Misawa gives Kobashi a bone-rattling, earth-shaking tiger suplex from the ramp to the floor! Both men laid there for a minute or so in agony and barely beat the 20-count to get back in. Finally, after both timeless ring warriors are soaked with perspiration and laden with exhaustion, Kobashi executes the Burning Hammer to win the coveted GHC title in a truly epic encounter. Overall, this set has been a pleasure to watch and is one that definitely belongs on the shelf of any puro fan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Audio Review: ROH This Means War II

Click here to listen to Brian and Didge’s audio review of ROH This Means War II. In it, they’ll discuss Cabana’s trite comedy, the joys of squashing Pelle, unnecessary crowd brawling, token Taue spots, Daizee Haze’s bra/brawl perplexity, breakdancing, flying Shingo over, being patronized by Austin Aries, and so much more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #4

1. Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (10/21/97) – 9
2. Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (6/12/98) – 8
3. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa (10/23/99) – 6
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Vader (2/27/00) – 7

The first match presented on disc four is what turned me on to Japanese wrestling in the first place. That would be the head-dropping, bone-rattling, chest-caving stiffness of Kobashi and Misawa. The match started furiously with a brief exchange of blows followed by a neck-breaking half-nelson suplex from Kobashi. Out on the floor, more blows are exchanged and there’s another sick half-nelson suplex. Powerbombs and tiger suplexes were the norm in this match. Misawa’s suplexes were bone-rattling with him wearing out Kobashi and scoring some close, close falls. The chops from both men were so stiff, my chest was hurting from watching them (or maybe it was heartburn). These two dumped each other’s head into the mat so hard so many times, I’m surprised they remembered where they were part of the time. There was a spot where the hit each other with lariats at the same time and both sold it like they were dead. Later in the match, Kobashi powerbombed Misawa into the turnbuckles and, on the close-up afterwards, you could see the anguish and exhaustion on Misawa’s face. Misawa battled back and eventually got the fall with a powerbomb in a tremendous match that definitley bordered on the “10” range.

Kobashi and Kawada blindy bludgeoned each other in a fantastic match. They started off with some basic mat wrestling, in a change of pace from the previous bouts, with Kawada trying to forcefully insert his elbow to Kobashi’s ribs. Afterwards, they serve up some stiff chops. There was roughly no brawling on the outside, which is where most of the neck-breaking moves happen in some of these matches. Speaking of which, Kawada offered up his share of half-nelson suplexes. Kobashi brought the physicality in the form of his trademark chest and neck chops. Kobashi kneed Kawada in the gut so hard on one exchange that Kawada legitamitley couldn’t move. Kawada’s kicks were on the money, with Kobashi shrugged off at least half of them. Kawada did try at one point to literally unscrew Kobashi’s torso in a harsh-looking submission hold. Kobashi fought back, though, and won with one of the hardest short lariats I’ve ever seen.

The tag match wasn’t a standout by any means but it was still solid. One major problem I had was that once it broke down, the referee didn’t even try to keep order and keep the legal men in the ring. Akiyama and Ogawa started it off but then each man tagged out and Kobashi and Misawa brought the heat. Misawa broke out a sick dive in which him and Kobashi both went hard into the rail. Ogawa looked like a twig compared to the other three men but definitely held is own and he managed to out-quick his opponents for the most part. Kobashi and Akiyama pulled off a nice double powerbomb. The finish of it saw Kobashi execute an upside-down Death Valley Driver and got the pin for him and Akiyama to win the tag titles. Finally, the bout against Vader was damn stiff as it seemed like Vader didn’t pull anything, especially when he was working over Kobashi’s already injured ribs with unprotected punches. He damaged Kobashi’s ribs even more with numerous Vader bombs in the corner. Kobashi was able to counter Vader’s strength and bulk by hitting some hard German suplexes. Just as it looked like Vader was going to win, Kobashi fought back and got in a hard lariat for the win.

Monday, November 17, 2008

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXII (32)

1) Public Enemy v. Nasty Boys- 2
2) Dean Malenko v. Alex Wright- 4
3) Brian Pillman v. Eddie Guerrero- 1
4) Sting/ Lex Luger v. The Blue Bloods- 4
5) Konnan v. Psychosis- 4
6) Ric Flair/ The Giant v. Randy Savage/ Hulk Hogan- 3

The Good:
"Mean" Gene hosting the festivities as Col. Robert Parker & Sister Sherri tie the knot at the Little White Chapel in scenic Las Vegas, NV........Sags wild haymakers......Malenko's bad ass beard....Dean's finish of hitting a dropkick to Alex's ankle then doing a quick rollover for the win.....Heenan getting pissed at Pillman and cursing live on the air, saying "Get the fuck off of me," as Pillman tried to tear his red sports coat off.....Sullivan kicking Elvis douch really hard......Paul Orndorff segment, talking about how the Horsemen aren't men because they jumped him from behind, then showing the spiked piledriver on the concrete, great stuff, don't think it amounted to anything though......Regal being just frickin' awesome here, with over the top intimidated facials and awesome controlling of faces......Eaton still getting bumpy even though it looked uglier than Katie Holmes new hairdo with the backdrop in the aisleway.....Sting being awesome at face comebacks and in really good shape, can still throw a good dropkick.....Psychosis' crazy bumps....Madusa showing up at wedding and bitch-fighting Sherri....Dick Slater with a tear in his eye.....Booker T caught laughing his ass off during the end of the wedding...crazy Pillman interview, talking about cutting people's thumbs off so they permanently do the Horsemen sign......Savage has good punches......Elizabeth returns with new dye job and prominently displayed boobs

The Bad:
sloppy brawling opener with weak finish.....Rocco Rock's poor attempt at being a highflyer......botched table spot afterwards.....Slater & Bunkhouse Buck coming to a wedding dressed like "Bonanza" cast members....really cheesy Luger promo not wanting to fight the Road Warriors....Eric Bischoff complete lack of personality during interviews......Pillman screwing around for 10 minutes and denying us what could have been a great match with Eddie....plugging Compuserve chats all night long, then showing us you could only talk to Jimmy Hart.....Elvis singing telegram from Disco Inferno to Taskmaster.......more wedding nonsense, incl. Robert Parker gambling all his money away and Sherri acting like she's in a Lifetime movie, "you never told me you had a gambling problem,"......Luger's really shitty professionalism and horrible selling and being in the ring most of this match.....Eaton not being capable of holding a match together, decaying of a legend before our eyes......."Mean" Gene giving away Sherri while commentating at the same time, what a lovely occasion......Konnan basically squashing Psych, a good squash but a waste of a man's talents.....Giant's severe shade of green.....Flair being desocrated before our eyes, relegated to Savage and Hogan's play thing.....Hogan's 2 minutes of work....Kevin Green being involved, with a flowing mane that Fabio would be jealous of.....huge run-in at end of match where Hogan and Savage fight off 6 guys

Sunday, November 16, 2008

TNA Hard Justice '08

1. Consequences Creed vs. Petey Williams - 4

Creed and Petey get the show rolling with a relatively fast-paced bout. It started off with some chorography stuff that seems woefully outdated. It make it difficult to dispend belief when its clear the two guys are doing a routine together instead of fighting each other. Creed does a sommersault plancha onto Petey on the floor, and while executed with a silky smooth grace, doesn’t quite get enough air and bounces the back of his head off the ring apron. One small thing I liked was Creed was doing his sequence where he does the splits mid-offensive barrage and Petey recognized that and dropkicked him in mid-split. The Trenton, New Jersey (yes they’re in our country’s armpit and further evidence was an outrageously bad live rap performance to open the event) is just super hot, popping loudly, and audibly cheering on the heel Petey, much to the dismay of Creed and the announce team. Petey scored the victory with the “Canadian Destroyer” in a fun yet flawed opener.

2. Beautiful People and Awesome Kong vs. ODB, Gail Kim, and Taylor Wilde - 5

The women’s match was good, lots of interesting characters, all (save for Gail Kim, perhaps foreshadowing her departure shortly after?) making their roles clear and being effective in doing so. The interplay between ODB and the Beautiful People was especially humorous and fun. Angelina refused to lock up with her, so she tagged in Velvet Sky who sprayed perfume all around ODB before making physical contact. ODB did her usual routine of patting her tits and ass, which Sky mocked in a priceless moment, to which ODB responded by taking their perfume and misting it all over her vagina and butthole. This was all before the actual action began! The match itself was good given the time allowed, and while Angelina Love’s real-life boyfriend’s band Saving Abel sucks sewer slime, her performance here certainly didn’t, although she was pinned by the wild Wilde.

3. LAX vs. Beer Money Inc. - 6

The LAX and Beer Money Inc. match worked out better than I’d anticipated. The key ingredient to its success is how comparatively awful American tag team wrestling is elsewhere. So, to get a more traditional, old school styled tag bout is a treat nowadays. They used the tried formula of the faces starting hot, then a heel segment, which saw Homicide the recipient of their abuse, mainly focused around his previously injured eye, and then a full-on hot tag to get the rubes’ paints dirty. My favorite spot took place when the heels were outside the ring regrouping and Homicide slapped Hernandez in the face, saying, “Throw me, you big, dumb motherfucker!” So Hernandez hoisted Homicide up and gave him the “Border Toss” over the top rope onto Beer Money Inc. in a spectacular moment of wrestling fetishism.

4. Jay Lethal vs. Sonjay Dutt - Black Tie Brawl and Chain Match - 7

Lethal and Dutt, one of TNA’s best feuds this year, and I dug this. Just like their ladder match, they took and old, tired (no, not Cornette’s red-faced mic work) gimmick match and not only paid tribute to it but also added to its legacy. The thing this match had going against it was Russo’s insistence on these guys being in tuxes, while Val feigned anxious at ringside, to which the crowd loudly (and rudely because it detracted from the match itself) chanted “Fire Russo!” But, the tuxedos kind of worked visually, as seeing them torn and ripped off each other made for a cool visceral experience, and also having Lethal’s family at ringside was a plus as Dutt strangling their son while he made demented, animalistic faces as Jay’s dad tried to reach out and strangle him was pure bliss for me to watch. I just edited my score and tossed them an extra point, because something about this match I connected to nostalgically and think clicked.

5. Christian Cage and Rhyno vs. Team 3-D - New Jersey Street Fight - 5

The New Jersey Street Fight (where was Toxic Avenger to clean up this mess?) was quite fun but admittedly hackneyed hardcore brawling which has been done ad nausea and this bordered on sloppier than Candace Michelle’s face post-third facial plastic surgery. The weapon shots were mostly cringe-worthy, not due to their violence, but how lazily and lackluster they ended up being. The stuff out in the crowd could have been better, too; Cage’s leap up in the stands was barely caught on camera, and Rhyno’s slip down the stairs seemed unintentional and silly. Bubba’s got to be on of the least intelligent workers in the business. The ending also blew, as Rhyno gored Bubba after a Cage “frog splash” into a table propped up in the corner but the table barely cracked ruining the spot’s impact.

6. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle - Last Man Standing Match - 8

AJ and Angle ended up being one of my favorite TNA matches in the last couple years. Still, I’ll openly admit it’s not a classic, I even toyed with tossing it a “7”, but it’s rare enough (for today’s TNA) to get something this close to being on that level that it certainly stands out. What I liked is that it took everything from that over-hyped, ham-fisted, bloated match of Angle’s versus Shane McMahon that I hated and improved upon it ten-fold. Sure, Shane took some nasty bumps, suits him right for being a non-wrestler, but Shane couldn’t dish it out and his strikes look about as believable as Adam’s chances of sleeping with that cashier from Best Buy. AJ, on the other hand, is a great opponent for Kurt, actually being at his level and nearing surpassing it. AJ just belts Kurt in his face all night, and also bumps like a nut for Angle.

My favorite moments were, in no particular order, Angle belly-to-belly overhead suplexing AJ into a steel guardrail, Styles suplexing Kurt on the entrance ramp, Angle tossing AJ off the fucking entrance stage with a back suplex and then proving that he can be “phenomenal” too by doing a somersault plancha off the stage onto AJ on the concrete floor, etc. The last act, where both men keep getting pinned or submitted, but barely make it up before the count of ten, is well done and creates great drama. The ending, which was tits, saw AJ DDT Angle off the top turnbuckle (a spot rarely attempted) right onto his surgically repaired neck. Neither man looked to be able to make it back to their feet, but at the last second AJ pulled himself off of the mat and became victorious. He proved he was at Angle’s level, and was also able to now say, “So what, I fingered Karen backstage, what of it?”

7. Booker T vs. Samoa Joe - Six Sides of Steel Weapons Match - 5

Main event time, I was pleased with this on paper, albeit they overdid it on this show with the stipulations. What transpired was passable, but I’ll draw the line there, as occasionally I got into bits and pieces but a lot of this felt stilted and listless. Seriously, Nuufolau (Joe’s real name you weasels), how many fucking times did you do your enzuigiri in this? To quote Shane Helms, “I’m just saying!” Also Joe, that MySpace blog about Dr. D David Schultz was timely and goofier than your hair in UPW, so at least nobody can say you’re not affable. Booker’s still got some gems in him before retirement, mark my words; this just wasn’t one of them. The weapon shots were “Psycho” Sam Cody-level at best. I probably could have liked this more but the ending really hurt it. The lights go out, come back on and Joe’s got an acoustic guitar that’s spray-painted silver, hits Booker with the instrument and pins him. A couple things, namely, why? Is it necessary to make it look like Joe needed this to beat Booker? And furthermore, why did the guitar knock out Booker but none of the other readily available weapons were used in a similar capacity? And lastly, Booker’s fallen expression after the match, as he stared at the guitar with a look of shock, fear, and awe was just… well, alright, that was actually kind of funny, but this still stunk worse than the dump I left at Adam’s after he had us over for Bound for Glory ’08 and catered fried chicken.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jushin "Thunder" Liger TV Special: Disc #4

1) Jushin Liger v. Norio Honaga (02/08/92- IWGP Jr. Title vs. WCW Lightheavyweight Title)- 4
2) Jushin Liger v. El Samurai (04/30/92- Top of the Super Juniors Tourney Finals)- 9
3) Jushin Liger v. Chris Benoit (02/10/92- IWGP/ WCW Jr. Title Match)- 7
4) Jushin Liger/ Koji Kanemoto v. Ultimo Dragon/ Masao Orihara (12/11/92)- 8

Title unification match takes place with Liger repping Atlanta's version of the belt. Honaga doesn't look as greased down as in their other encounter but all his aggressiveness has faded with the hair gel. This match was given appropriate time, i think near 16 minutes or so and most of the action was fine, as far as the slow pace, most moves coming off right and solid work, but this match was missing a major element for me. Didn't see a lot of sequences here and Honaga's selling was nearly non-existent as if getting hit with a palm strike elicits the same reaction as when you see the Sunday paper on your porch; one of passive nature. Liger wasn't at the the top of his game either, a lot of stuff looked pretty lackadasical, like the match was going through the paces without that extra effort. This didn't do it for me.

Psychologically speaking, this match was the f'n tits! Samurai comes in and the first thing he does is rips a hole in Liger's mask. What a mental edge you'd have over your opponent. He deftly beats on Liger for the next several minutes, but nothing very major. Liger begins his comeback and he's pissed off to the max- just belting Samurai with furious palm strikes and powerbombing him repeatedly, once on the concrete. Then, he rips Samurai's mask completely off while he tries to keep it on, in futility for the next 10 minutes. Liger maintains his superiority for a while, and doesn't relent until Samurai gains the advantage back and starts wrenching in armbars, like they were taught to him, for fucking real and pull on that pickle until it breaks! Such realism with the arm locks and Liger's screaming bloody murder, like Linda Hogan at her last colon cleansing. Liger has started using the top rope frankensteiner as his finisher around this time and he hits it to perfection for the hard fought victory. Both guys selling and story telling were on par with just about anything I've seen from Japan and this was a classic.

Benoit, here sans mask, looks real motivated, like a dog in heat locked up in the basement for 8 hours. He and Liger just have IT together, there's no better way to put it. They flow together from off the ropes and into reversals so elegantly you'd have a hard time not believing this sport was just a physical opera. This is also back in Benoit's youthful days where anything goes, so he pulls out his springboard crossbody and missle dropkick from the top rope to the outside, with so much impact you could look at Flair's plane crash in '75 and scream "Fuck you!" I'm thinking Liger was also a Dynamite Kid mark because he does the swan dive a lot on this set and sells it perfectly when he misses. This was hard hitting, had substance and you could tell the comfort level was there because both men were slapping the piss out of each other. Lots of foreign fun here.

This match was a breath of fresh air. In an environemnt where current tag team wrestling is stagnant and as stale as another Hogan reality show, going back in the archives to find competitive tag action feels wonderful. It's New Japan v. War and the battle lines are drawn. Orihara (who looks strangely like the guy from Vanishing Son) is New Japan's bitch here, getting absolutely pieced around by Kanemoto with straight slaps and kicks to the face. Liger wants in on the action and doles out a healthy dose of "Shut the hell up" in the form of his five straightened fingers. They punish him mercifully with hard shots and power moves. Dragon gets none of that treatment, but also can't dish it out like the NJ boys can. He's trying to win the match with technical wrestling and some cool high flying stuff. There's an awesome dive sequence that doesn't feel recycled from 100 other matches and is actually high impact. The crowd gets most excited to see Liger and Ultimo lock up and it's a treat, but Kanemoto shows he's a rising star in this match by pulling off some amazing sequences with Dragon and exchanging martial arts kicks that would make Steven Segal admit he's always been a fraud, you know like that guy that runs the country right now. The finish is a frenetic race to get the pinfall, almost like a marathon where people are pushing themselves to make it to the end first, with the WAR boys coming from behind to pick up the win. New Japan does tag wrestling right, well at least they did back in this day.

I'm halfway through this extraordinary journey of the foremost pioneer of Juniors wrestling in the history of this business and i'm loving every second of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burning Spirit: The Best of Kenta Kobashi - Disc #3

1. Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Steve “Dr. Death” Williams & Johnny Ace (3/4/95) – 7
2. Kenta Kobashi & Mistuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue (6/9/95) – 9
3. Kenta Kobashi vs. Akira Taue (7/24/96) – 6
4. Kenta Kobashi vs. Stan Hansen (9/3/96) – 6

Now we’re getting into the meat of Kobashi’s career. The gaijin team of Doc and Ace brought some awesome intensity. Kobashi started off with Ace and exchanged some blows. After Kobashi tagged out, Doc was frantically trying to get his partner to tag him in. He recieves the tag and him and Misawa have a great exchange. The match was hot for the first little bit and then died down once Doc and Ace gained control. Kobashi and Misawa fought back with some harrowing strikes and moves. One thing I really liked about the match was that every time someone was thrown into the guardrail, they hit it so hard as if a truck had bashed through it. Misawa and Kobashi executed a sweet cross-body/powerbomb double team move on Ace. Misawa’s follow through was so great that when he landed he ran over and knocked the shit out of Doc, who fell to the floor in a great deal of pain. Not to be outdone, Doc yanked each of his opponents off the top turnbuckle so hard that when they hit the mat, it was like they had just been hit with a cannon. The finish saw Doc execute a plancha onto Misawa and Kobashi score the pin with a legdrop off the top turnbuckle on to the back of Ace’s head.

The second tag features for certifiable Japanese legends. Kobashi and Taue start off and feel each other out. After a few minutes, Taue tags out to Kawada who comes in and starts trading blows with Kobashi. Kobashi throws Kawada toward the ropes and Kawada kicks Misawa, who was napping on the apron, straight in the face. Oh snap, son! Now you’ve pissed off Misawa! Misawa and Kawada throw some hard strikes and then the match begins to heat up. Misawa executes an awesome suicide dive with perfect form and damn near kills himself. One thing I forgot to mention is that Kobashi’s left thigh is seriously taped up. Funny I should mention that because Misawa gets pulled off the turnbuckle and lands directly on Kobashi’s leg, who sells it like he had just been stabbed with a butcher knife. For the next few minutes, it’s a 2-on-1 situation because Kobashi is on the floor trying to regain feeling and taping up his leg. Another thing is that I didn’t see too many rest holds in the match, either. That to me is a testament to the fortitude of all four men for going 40 minutes balls out. For the final ten minutes or so, there were some absolutely fantastic false finishes. Taue gave Misawa and earth-shattering chokeslam from the apron to the floor and minutes later chokeslammed Kobashi in the ring. Kawada got the final pin with a powerbomb into a pin. A great, great tag match.

The singles match against Taue was a huge win for Kobashi in his career as he took the AJPW Triple Crown in a great match. They feel each other out early and then start in with the heavy stuff. I noticed that Kobashi’s facials were excellent, as I could feel the emotion of the match through him, even though I don’t speak a single syllable of Japanese. Taue goes for the massive chokeslam spot that he executed on Misawa in the previous tag match. Kobashi blocks it and knocks him off the apron with a series of quick shots to the side of the neck. It seemed to me that Taue was relying on choke spots too much in the match. There was a nice sequence where Taue went for a chokeslam and was countered with a serious lariat from Kobashi. The sick move of the match was were Taue tried to slam Kobashi off the top turnbuckle onto the floor. Kobashi blocked it and legdropped Taue on the back of the head on the floor. The camera angle on it wasn’t the best but it was still a pretty ballsy move. Some nice false finishes really helped the match move up the recommended range. Kobashi hit Taue with another top rope leg drop for the pin and a Triple Crown win.

Finally, the title defense against Stan Hansen (Borger, T-X represent!) wasn’t nearly as stiff as I thought it would be. The action started hot with Hansen rushing Kobashi before the bell and Kobashi firing back and then getting dumped over the top rope. A brawl commences on the outside as Hansen rips up the mat and powerbombs the shit out of Kobashi on the hard floor. Later on, they’re brawling on the apron and as Hansen goes for a lariat, Kobashi ducks, and Hansen lariats the ring post. Hansen’s selling was very believable and Kobashi spent the majority of the remainder of the match focusing his attack on the injured limb of Hansen. Mysteriously, once Hansen regained the offense, he stopped selling it. Hansen tried to finish Kobashi off with a right-handed lariat and got the closest two-count imaginable. In the end, Kobashi beat Hansen at his own game and defeated the wild man from west Texas with a lariat of his own. A solid match with good selling by Hansen, just not what you would expect when you see this match on paper.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Twist of Fate: The Jeff Hardy Story

1. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudleyz vs. - Tables Match - (Royal Rumble '00) - 6
2. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H - (Smackdown! 4/12/01) - 5
3. Jeff Hardy vs. John Morrison - Cage Match - (New Year's Revolution '07) - 6
4. Jeff Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin - (Raw - 2/26/07) - 4
5. Hardy Boyz vs. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch - (Judgment Day '07) - 7
6. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H - (Armageddon '07) - 4
7. Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga - Cage Match - (Raw 1/07/08) - 5

The documentary is good, not as thorough as Matt’s, but still an enjoyable forty-five minute look into the unique individual known as that charismatic enigma, Jeff Hardy. My favorite portion is a look at Jeff’s bizarre property, including a large area titled the “ImagiNation” where he’s built his own motocross track, showcases his paintings, etc. It looks like wreckage in a post-apocalyptic world like the background from a scene in Cyborg. He also builds, get this, “Aluminummies” which are these giant, outrageous sculptures built from milk jugs, duct tape, etc. We also get a glimpse into his creative side musically, hooking up with a local (Cincinnati represent) guitarist, Jeff wrote lyrics and vocally performed on some recordings. There’s a video for one such track as an extra, titled “Old Grow” which the name alone makes me chuckle, and the vocals are so cringingly bad that you really feel like the producers and others didn’t have the heart to tell Jeff how shitty it was and just let him be oblivious, as even as a child recording songs on a boombox in my bedroom I honestly feel my stuff sounded better than this.

The match with the Dudleyz is a great throwback to that era, as WWE’s tag team division was hot, spearheaded by these four hungry guys, and this was an exquisite example of how good their work was then. The whole match is done in overdrive, just non-stop action and big bumps and shots, especially some really gnarly chair shots that were traded by everyone throughout the match. You have to offensively put both of your opponents through tables, so there are a lot of neat set-ups, some pulled off successfully and others resulting in crashing and burning. It’s just a fun, fun match, overshadowed by all the TLC hoopla but equally as entertaining without all the excesses. The match-ending spot, Jeff doing a swanton bomb from a second story balcony on D-Von through a table, is a picturesque ending to the carnage.

The first match against Trips is the first-ever major singles win for either Hardy brother, albeit he only held it for a little over a week. Triple H was a hot heel, working alongside Austin, and this was designed to feel like Hardy didn’t stand a chance as Hunter just fired away and dominated this fast-moving TV bout. Jeff is resilient if nothing else, and his courage (and a Matt Hardy chair shot while the ref was down) earned him the big victory.

The cage match is pretty good, seems like an odd stipulation for two high fliers, not sure what the background there was, but the end result was alright. Morrison has Melina with him at ringside, barely fitting into a tiny, pink top; reminding me how good their dynamic was together. Morrison largely controls, Hardy is happy to oblige and bump around for him, proving his line “I shine when I sell” from the audio commentary on the OMEGA match from the first disc accurate. I didn’t like Morrison’s back suplerplex from the buckles, looked lazy as he kept his feet down, so they touched the mat before anything else, not how that spot is supposed to go. He makes up for it later with a sunset flip/powerbomb from the top of the cage. The finish is innovative as while Jim is climbing out, Hardy dropkicks the cage door, which swings open crotching Morrison on it, so he’s stuck on the door while Jeff escapes to the floor in a creative finish.

The Benjamin match was a Money in the Back qualifier and actually pretty good. Shelton started off controlling Jeff on the mat, just schooling him in the way of amateur style goodness. It was relatively short and on Raw, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking, but it actually probably would have got one more point, had Benjamin not brutally botched a springboard spot, slipping on the rope and falling right on his face in a real awkward botch.

NHO co-creator Jessie gave the tag match against Murdoch and Cade an “8” when he originally watched it live and reviewed the show. It’s really great, old school, tag team wrestling, and the likes of which we rarely see these days, especially in the WWE. I noticed that the Hardyz really brought it, typically they are the underdogs that rally and make big comebacks, but here they looked confident and in control. The match is very physical, highlights being Jeff missing a sommersault plancha to the floor and splatting on the ground, and a sickeningly stiff back elbow Matt drills Cade with that lets out a sound reminiscent of a shotgun blast (and I should know, I took part in many drive-by shootings in my younger, more dissolute gang wars days).

The Triple H match is one where they were marketing Hardy a bit too much, more or less down everyone’s throats, priming him as the next World champion but it was clear here he wasn’t ready for the ball and seemed to honestly be under the effects of intoxication as his work was real off. He just seemed gassed and uncoordinated, and even after a bitchslap across the face Jeff still couldn’t muster up any energy or emotion. These two would however later go on to have a very good match together at No Mercy ’08.

The last match, another cage, isn’t as good as the earlier one. I hadn’t seen Umaga work in awhile so that was a treat, even though most of this consisted of him working a laughable nerve pinch to my disdain. Hardy sells well for the Samoan, but save for a spectacular spot (a rolling senton off the top of the cage) this match is real forgettable. Overall, it’s a decent disc, around the “B” range, whereas the Matt disc I’d give an “A-“ so in conclusion I’d heartily recommend this two-disc set as it takes second place in my all-time favorite WWE commercial released behind the brilliant Pick Your Poison Jack Roberts release.