Friday, January 30, 2009

WWE Legends of Wrestling: Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter

1) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Mike Rotundo (Mid-Atlantic 5/12/82) – 3
2) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Bob Backlund – Texas Death Match (Special ref: Tony Garea) (Philly Spectrum 9/24/83) – 6
3) Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Iron Shiek (Madison Square Garden 4/23/84) – 6
4) Sgt. Slaughter vs. Col. DeBeers – Boot Camp Match (AWA Superclash 3) – 4
5) Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger (Starrcade 88) – 8
6) Ric Flair & Sting vs. Terry Funk & The Great Muta – Thundercage Match (Special ref: Bruno Sammartino) (Halloween Havoc 89) – 5
7) Ric Flair vs. Curt Hennig (WCW Nitro – 10/11/99) – 5

This release is the first in a series of six DVDs featuring the roundtable discussions from 24/7. This particular one covers the careers of Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter. The episodes themselves are at least two years old because it doesn’t mention Flair’s retirement celebration or anything that happened over the course of 2008 and late 2007. For those of you who have never seen the roundtables on 24/7 (shame on you if you haven’t), they feature a host, either Jim Ross or Gene Okerlund, and four panelists that vary with every few episodes. This particular one features Jim Ross hosting with a panel of Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes, Pat Patterson, and Mike Graham. The episode itself is just under an hour in length with the first part being about Flair and the second about Slaughter. There were quite a few interesting tidbits including Mike Graham describing how people like Luger and Sting wouldn’t admit to being a wrestler, Patterson describing how he helped get Slaughter started with Vince Sr., and Dusty talking about Flair paying his dues.

First up, the Sarge takes on Mike Rotundo in a match that was pretty basic in structure. Rotundo, at this time, was just starting out and was green as a garden hose or whatever tired cliché you want to throw in there to describe a newbie. Slaughter stayed in control the whole match and polished off Rotundo in about four minutes. The Backlund match was full of intensity. Backlund laid the belt down in the ring and challenged Sarge to come forward. They brawled a lot outside the ring and Sarge really worked his ass off by taking some wild spills for the time. Backlund’s offense seemed a bit over the top and cartoonish at times but he did manage to keep it under control for most of the match. There were some bumps in the floor and for a time the action spilled out to the crowd briefly. Backlund clubbed Slaughter on the chest and Slaughter fell and ate the railing. Garea, the special ref, counted the fall on Slaughter and then fought with him to set up the inevitable Slaughter/Garea match. A great match for the time period. The Slaughter/Sheik match was just as good and nearly just as intense. They fought each other tooth and nail and the crowd just ate up Slaughter’s offense like nothing else. One thing I didn’t think was kosher was Sheik laying on the mat like a stiff while Slaughter feigned spitting on him. The end saw Slaughter take his boot off and go to work on the Sheik, driving him from the ring. Slaughter chased him down and they had a wild brawl in the backstage area. Wrapping up the Slaughter section is a match from the infamous Superclash 3 pay-per-view. Slaughter and DeBeers had a very choreographed match with DeBeers doing some overselling of helmet shots to the mid-section. There was an unintentionally funny moment where DeBeers was headbutting Slaughter with the helmet and it fell off. DeBeers gives up after about five minutes of schelp and DDP, who was managing DeBeers, calls for the troops including a totally random Iron Sheik appearance.

Moving on to the Flair bouts now, we start off with an astonishingly great match from Starrcade 88. Flair made Luger look incredible, as he usually does with stiffs and bad workers. For some reason, Luger’s rights keep popping back into my head, especially the ones where he hit Flair three times and kept his left arm stiff as a board. Another problem I had was that Luger kept forgetting to sell his knee and when the finish came for him to do a torture rack with a bad knee, it came across as if Luger tripped and Flair landed on top of him for the pin. Flair’s work was great as usual with his selling of Luger’s offense and working over Luger’s knee to set up the figure-four. At this time in 1989, the J-Tex angle was in full swing and this was the percieved culmination to that angle. Flair and Funk had been feuding since May and Sting and Muta had been feuding since about the same time, so it naturally made sense to put them all in a cage and combine the feuds. You would think that it would be an incredible blow-off to a hot angle, right? Well, wrong. The sad thing is that this match had so much potential but failed on many levels. It was plagued from the start as the pyro set the cage on fire and Muta had to climb up and blow it out with the mist. The match started as a standard tag but eventually broke down into a wild mess. Every time someone would scale the cage, the announcers would talk about how the cage was electrified at the top, however that went out the window rather quick as it was pretty apparent that it wasn’t. Sting had a pretty ballsy dive from the cage into the ring which made me stand up and cheer. The finish was convoluted with Flair and Sting pummelling Funk and Gary Hart climbing in the ring and Bruno knocking him out and calling for the bell because Hart threw in the towel. Closing out the disc was a long-forgotten match from Nitro. My first thought was “late ’99 Nitro, great”, but it turned out to be pretty decent. The fighting out of the ring was pretty intense with Flair slamming Hennig’s head into the commentary table numerous times and Tony Schiavone putting it over as the most dangerous thing he’s ever thing. Hennig was accompanied by Curly Bull (a.k.a. Virgil), who was the recipient of Flair’s chops on the outside at one point. The finish was Hennig trying to cheat by putting his feet on the ropes but David Flair ran out and stopped that mess. With Hennig distracted, Ric rolls him up and wins by putting his feet on the ropes. Overall, a fun DVD with no repeat matches from other discs. I can’t wait to see what’s on the next one.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UWF on ESPN Classic - 1/28/09

Ah yes, the Herb Abrams version of the UWF. I’ve relentlessy pummelled both of their “major” shows and Brian tackled some random matches from them recently. Just this week, however, the episodes re-emerged on ESPN Classic, replacing AWA in the midnight time slot for the time being with two 30 minute episodes. I figure since I’m snowed in and off work, now is as good of a time as any to evalute some of their horrendously shoddy ring work.

Episode #1 – Taped 10/11/90 in Reseda, CA

1) Billy Jack Haynes vs. Gary Keyes – 2
2) Ken Patera vs. Rikki Ataki – 2
3) Paul Orndorff vs. Matt Starr – 2
4) Ivan Koloff vs. Nikita Koloff – 4

The production on this show is pretty rough. It’s not terrible like your local indy show, but it definitely lacks the value of the WWF and WCW at the time. The commentators are Herb Abrams and Bruno Sammartino, a terrible combination to say the least. Abrams is so over the top and Bruno is so straight ahead in the calling of the moves that they don’t compliment each other at all. The first three bouts on this episode were all squash matches and all hade the same basic formula with the big name star dominating the under-prepared jobber. Haynes looked like he gained a bunch of weight compared to when I last saw him during his WWF run. He was also rocking a mullet and wearing a weight belt, as if he would need such an item to lift up his scrawny opponent for a bodyslam. The announcers kept hyping a potential match with Haynes and Patera, which probably wouldn’t consisted of more that ten moves between the two. Speaking of Patera, his opponent was a bit more bulky and was sporting mullet number two of the night. Wait, an Asian dude with a mullet? No freakin’ way! Patera just toyed with his eastern opponent for a while before polishing him off with a submission hold. Orndorff had the least impressive squash with a crappy guy the probably pulled from the front row and threw a singlet on. Honestly, it got a bonus point for the sick piledriver more so than anything that happened in the actual bout. Finally, the main event had some potential but never really got out of first gear. The intense brawling to begin was nice but it soon settled down into a series of chinlocks and clotheslines. Ivan tried to do a top-rope splash to Nikita but Nikita got the knees up in a fairly decent moment. Nikita applied the figure-four and then the bell rang. No, Ivan didn’t give up … the match went the time limit. Wait, there was a time limit? When did they announce that? Ivan’s selling of the figure-four was nice but his selling of rib roast out of a meat truck in Siberia was better.

Episode #2 – Taped 9/24/90 in Reseda, CA

1) Steve “Dr. Death” Williams vs. Davey Meltzer – 2
2) Col. DeBeers vs. Michael Allen – 2
3) Cactus Jack vs. David Sammartino – 5

Same crappy production and same crappy comentators with this episode. The first two bouts again were squashes. Doc toyed with his pudgy opponent, whose name was a blatant jab at wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, while Abrams spewed rhetoric on commentary while taking shots at the journalist. A few football tackles and an Oklahoma slam sends Meltzer back to the showers. Doc didn’t look very impressive and looked like he was just there to collect a paycheck. DeBeers always seems to show up in the oddest places, like here. This time he’s sporting an eyepatch, in case you didn’t know he was supposed to be evil. He made quick work of Allen and finished him off with a sick DDT. The main event of this episode was a pleasant surprise. Sammartino got some ripped abs and lost all the mass he had during his mid-80s run and looked like a completey different person. The match started off and it seemed like it was going to be another basic main event bout with Cactus no-selling David’s gut shots and chops. However, in the third segment they definitely turned up the intensity. Jack did his patented Cactus Clothesline and they were throwing some good shots at each other. Back in the ring, they continued throwing shots at each other then Cactus randomly headbutts the referee who promptly ends the match. Damn! It would’ve gotten a “6” had it not been for the random, bullshit finish. As far as overall thoughts, if you feel the need to watch one of these, I recommened the second episode as the first didn’t have much behind it.

ROH Northern Navigation

1. Chris Hero vs. Ruckus - 3

This was a decent opener that I enjoyed for the most part. Things I liked were the Toronto crowd, ROH's first Canadian audience, who seemed to (at least at this point) be really enthusiastic about everything, Ruckus' eating of, and selling, of Hero's barrage of strikes near the end, and Hero's finishing big boot that looked gruesome. Ruckus isn't well received by most, and while technically limited, I'm not as down on him as a lot of people, feeling he provides a bit of a unique presence in an otherwise relatively bland roster, and can be key in mid-card filler like this. Things I did not like, well, for starters out on the floor Ruckus was down and Hero came over to stomp him, yet missed completely, hitting the metal guardrail covering instead--this looked extraordinarily bush league. Later, Hero got knocked from the ring, only to stand in the aisle for literally a half-minute playing dazed, waiting, as Ruckus finally got it together enough to do a somersault out onto him, only for all of that build to be wasted on a really unimpressive flip that barely cleared the ropes and didn't have much impact.

2. Delirious vs. Kenny Omega - 4

Listen closely, as Omega enters from the back, an obnoxious drunk guy screams, "who the fuck is this guy?" Well, had the disgruntled loud mouth surfed YouTube, he'd be familiar with everyone's favorite "24/7 championship" Internet celebrity, as Omega's antics wrestling in lakes, sand dunes, and patios are that of legend. He also busts out a ridiculous Ryu pose in the aisle--reason enough to give him some sympathy feigned interest. Delirious works best in environments like this, new areas where the locals aren't extremely disinterested with his tired, insultingly one-dimensional routine. In most ROH towns, people have long since grown tired of his lame character and audible gibberish. Omega's selling is a bit over the top, and it's hard to get emotionally invested in a Delirious performance, but those things aside, they put together a fairly fun little match, with a few reversals (Delirious' block of Kenny's Ryu-inspired thrust with a crossface submission was tits) and spots that didn't feel as contrived or forced as you might think.

3. Sara Del Ray vs. Jennifer Blake - 3

This was Blake's ROH debut and she didn't look how I'd expected, coming out dressed like a Miami Dolphins cheerleader and looking like Jessica Simpson in that lackluster Dukes of Hazard movie. Sara, on the other hand, looked dumpy per usual, and was giving a pretty flat performance. This gets most its points from Blake's spirited performance, as it saw her doing Kobashi's patented "Machine Gun Chops" in the corner, a dangerous suicide dive to the floor, and eating Del Ray's brutal axe kick right on the top of her pretty little blonde head.

4. Erick Stevens vs. Go Shiozaki - 5

This was a nice change of pace, a real physical, hard-hitting match. Go finding a personality, having aligned himself with Sweat & Sour Inc., has done him well. Shiozaki refusing to shake Stevens' hand to start was a nice touch and helped set the tone. As I've said, this was about the intensity, and they found a nice groove and just brought it for our pleasure. My favorite moment happened when Stevens was on the other side of the barricade, out in the crowd, and he and Shiozaki exchanged strikes to the delight of the rabid ringside fans. Another highlight saw Go standing on the apron, and Erick, on the floor, clotheslines Shiozaki's legs out from underneath him, then when Go landed on his ass, Stevens drilled him with another lariat. It was nice to see FIP getting an opportunity to shine (by the way, if anyone wants to burn me any of Shiozaki's run as FIP champion, I'll gladly in return send a mystery envelope of discs from the NHO offices) as I'm a big supporter.

The match did go to a time-limit draw, kind of a disappointment, but led to a surprise appearance by Lance Storm, as he and Stevens fought off Sweat & Sour Inc. in a fun, little skirmish.

5. Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli - 8

Wow, this is just a fantastic match, so that being stated upfront, don't expect a lot of details in terms of play-by-play or the complexities of the spots, I deter reading those types of reviews personally, and believe that aspect of the sweet science deserves to be observed visually and not read about. What I can try to convey is the ethos and pathos on display, the appeals to the human condition, and emotional resonance. I watch wrestler's performances in the same way I'd watch those of experienced actors on stage. I could care less, give a flying fuck in fact, about the latest storyline development on WWE's newest episode of TV, or fantasy booking future hypotheticals, give me human connection or get the hell off my TV so I can watch some more Top Cat.

Danielson seems genuinely happy to be there, the Toronto crowd is very receptive, and Bryan's all smiles pre-match. Claudio also comes out to a face response, and while never crossing the line (at this point) into full-blown heel, as the match progresses we see the facade start slipping away on Castagnoli's good guy persona. For as much as Claudio is cheered, the crowd just loves Bryan that much more, and try as he might, for all his attempts to get leverage, Danielson is always capable of finding a way of countering Castagnoli's momentum and getting the advantage back. The match isn't strictly technicality, there's appeals to the crowd and humor, including each guy mocking the other's patented taunts, so don't assume it's just a vapid collection of moves, trust me, there's personality by the truckload if you just look for it. I have some personal favorite moments, mostly small touches, like a desperation dropkick by Danielson at one point, or Claudio's giant swing making me feel like I was watching wrestling in 3-D, but overall this match is more valuable as a whole than worth dissecting into its parts. A testament, and a reminder, to me of how wrestling done well can be marvelously enjoyable in its simplicity.

6. Roderick Strong vs. Naomichi Marufuji - 5

I enjoy watching both of these guys' work, for the most part, but the issue with this particular match is it came off feeling too much like an exhibition, so accordingly, I never felt like I got emotionally invested in it. Surely, there's plenty of neat moments, Marufuji's "coast to coast" dropkick has never looked better, tons of blistering chops and crisp kicks, so it's got all of that going for it. But, outside of the spectacle, this feels borderline soulless, so while I'm totally behind the physicality, the lack of anything else of substance hurts its overall grade. I enjoyed Roderick a touch more, his selling was better, as Naomichi, while fantastic offensively, does little to get over Strong's stuff, plus Roderick broke a submission by sticking his nose over the bottom rope, something I've never seen before. The ending section, full of "fighting spirit"-type bullshit, is fun to watch, save for the logical flaw of way too many kickouts. I came up with a rhyme inspired by Naomichi's trademark finishing maneuver, "Can a man pee while doing the Shiranui?"

7. Nigel McGuinness vs. Kevin Steen - 7

This is a sick, sideshow act of watching Steen get decimated and I loved every minute of it. This match has the most noticeable heel versus face structure, as Canadian Steen is loudly applauded as the North's great, white, doughy hope, while Nigel is booed heavily for being an arrogant British prick. Staying with the theme of physicality, this knocks it up to a whole other level, as the intensity on display is jaw-dropping. Early on, Steen takes one of the most disgusting bumps of 2008, as he gets grabbed by Nigel while standing on top of the ringside barricade, and bodyslammed onto the frame of ring, bouncing off nastily and landing on his head on the floor. It's such a surreal moment, as its not something you'd ever anticipate seeing. I must have watched it back twenty times. Then, they go to a wide shot on a replay, so I then watched it another half-dozen times, now observing the fans' reactions more than the bump itself, and hell, it looks like one guy even fell of the back of the bleachers in disbelief!

From that point on, Kevin is the prey, and Nigel is the calculating hunter, who takes great pleasure and riling up the crowd and putting Steen through huge amounts of discomfort. Most of the match goes that way, with Steen being the sympathetic hero, while Nigel dishes out all kinds of pain his way. But, when Steen does make strides to come back, they're explosive as all hell, including absolutely crushing McGuinness' fucking face with his cannonball-like sommersault into the corner while Nigel's seated, and later, a sommersault from the top turnbuckle out onto Nigel on the floor, one of the rare occasions when this highspot actually looks incredibly dangerous, opposed to some small dude just trying to get his weak flying spots off per usual. Nigel uses the "Sharpshooter" which is a great stab at the Canadian fans, a good example at how dastardly Nigel was here, in just great form. Steen eats all kinds of lariats before finally succumbing to McGuinness in one hell of a title match.

8. Austin Aries and Jay Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black - 4

Necro Butcher and Mark Briscoe get involved later on, so, in a manner of speaking you can sort of call this a six-man tag. I'm not a big fan of crowd brawls, it seems like an easy route, unless there's enough preexisting hatred among the competitors to propel the brawling. This, though, actually started innocuously enough, not getting too over the top, but just straddling that line close enough to still feel like a meaningful fight. It stated to deteriorate at an alarming rate, though. Granted, a big, wild brawl is kind of a nice ending to this show, seeing as how the bulk of it was made up of such good, in-ring wrestling, so I didn't detest it outright. But the gassed crowd, my own fatigue (from watching innumerable hours of wrestling in one day), and the lack of direction all added together to pull this match down to the doldrums. It served to further along Necro's eventual desertion of Age of the Fall, and keep an eye on Black who eats a lot of gnarly stuff throughout, but overall you shouldn't go out of your way to see this. This was like a piece in the bigger puzzle, as actions here had ramifications down the road, leading to much better stuff, namely Aries and Jacobs' series of singles matches that shit all over this messy malfeasance.

I borrowed this show from Adam, and kind sir, I know you generally detest watching ROH shows in their entirety by yourself, but I must insist that when I put this back in your possession, please put away your beloved WWE commercial releases and watch this immediately. To steal one of Adam's lines (he used it in connection with McMahon's incarnation of ECW, oddly enough), "this is wrestling", and I'm glad I got the privilege of seeing it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Never Get Laid #2: Random Goldberg WCW Matches

1) Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan (WCW Nitro - 7/6/98) - 5
2) Goldberg vs. Booker T (WCW Nitro - 7/24/00) - 1
3) Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page (WCW Halloween Havoc 1998) - 6
4) Goldberg vs. Raven - Raven's Rules Match (WCW Nitro - 4/20/98) - 4

First up is the memorable Goldberg/Hogan match from Nitro. This could be compared to Rock/Hogan or Hogan/Andre in the terms of workrate but for entertainment value, it was great. Hogan was at his heelish best during this period and Goldberg was potentially at his peak. The crowd was raucous and was cheering Goldberg's every move. There was some brawling outside and some super weak chair shots from Hogan. Curt Hennig runs down to try to interrupt the festivities and is stopped by DDP and Karl Malone. The shoddy camera work misses a Hogan legdrop that Goldberg kicks out of. Goldberg his the spear and then the jackhammer slam to win the WCW Title. Skipping ahead two years, WCW is a different place and we're presented a very brief match with Goldberg and Booker. The match starts with them slugging it out in the aisleway and then in the ring. After that, we get a Jeff Jarrett run-in with a chair and then The Cat comes out, dressed in a referee shirt for no reason, and trash talks Jarrett who eats a Goldberg spear in a royal clusterfuck.

The match with DDP was a very good, albeit quick match. The match had that "big fight" feel to it and DDP showed that he belonged in the main event scene. I enjoyed the finish of it as it was clean and it gave Goldberg a solid victory over big name in a world title match. Goldberg did a good job of selling the shoulder he rammed into the ringpost on a spear attempt. DDP had a nice reversal into a Diamond Cutter and the end but ultimately, Goldberg came out the victor. Finally, the Raven match was fun as it was fought under no disqualification rules (which means there aren't any) and turned out quite good. The crowd was eating up everything Goldberg did and Raven was bumping his ass off. The finish with planted fans throwing Raven back into the ring area was very creative and afterwards Goldberg hits a Jackhammer on a stop sign to win the US Title.

Monday, January 26, 2009

NHO Hall of Fame: Class #5

Well fans, it's (almost) February, which means besides Adam spending another Valentine's Day cuddled up with Rick Martel footage and a tub of ice cream, its time for the staff here at Never Hand Over to make our bi-yearly inductions into our prestigious HOF! Before watching WWE Royal Rumble '09 and getting our grub on (pumpernickel bread--who knew?) we all divulged our picks amongst the group.

NHO Hall of Fame Class #5
Click the link for the official site including pictures!

Brian inducted:
1. Powers of Pain
2. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
3. Ray Stevens and Nick Bockwinkel

Jessie inducted:
1. Megumi Kudo
2. El Samurai
3. Hollywood Blondes

Adam inducted:
1. Shawn Michaels
2. Rob Van Dam

Didge inducted:
1. Dynamite Kid
2. Giant Baba

All in all, a super exciting and diverse class, full of deserving and compelling picks. As I mentioned above, click here, and you'll see the official HOF page with accompanying pictures, etc. Thanks, and we'll see you in August, for the sixth class!

Friday, January 23, 2009

WCCW Cottonbowl Extravaganza- 10/27/84

1) Missing Link v. George Wengroff- 2
2) Kelly Kiniski/ El Diablo v. The Fantastics- 4
3) Iceman King Parsons v. Butch Reed- 3
4) Kevin Von Erich v. Chris Adams- 4
5) Chris Adams/ Gino Hernandez/ Jake Roberts v. Kerry Von Erich/ Mike Von Erich/ Bobby Fulton- 4
6) Gino Hernandez & Nickla v. Mike Von Erich & Stella Mae French w/ Precious- 0

I'm in a scathing mood writing this. World Class used to be possibly my favorite promotion growing up. It controlled my afternoons, everyday at 4 pm on ESPN; how could a young impressionable kid not love a group that gave him new action 5 times a week, as opposed to once every Sat. morning? So, I always love revisiting an old WCCW show now and then. This kind of show makes me want to have a gin & tonic, hold the gin & tonic, add gasoline.

Years back I looked up the name "Robertson" (my last name) to see if any famous wrestlers used it- unfortunately this walking dipshit bore my family name. The match consisted of him holding his head and dropping headbutts onto various parts of his jobber opponents body. What a lame gimmick. 2nd match held the amazingly awesome Fantastics (seriously overlooked team) against a makeshit duo of some pothead wearing a Lucha Mask and the son of Gene Kiniski, who bore a heavy resemblance to his daddy. Fantastics more than held up their end of the bargain, but Diablo never left training school, only using punches, armbars & tags. Kiniski looked like a complete lunkhead; botching even the most simple of spots. A bodyslam was a heavy task for him to complete as he stumble bumbled all over the ring on offense. In between the next matches, Iceman & some unknown ref were shown in the midst of enjoying a righteous carnival, with all kinds of games being played then a roller coaster scene right out of an 80's buddy comedy. Fantastics were also there in full tuxedos like they just gay married each other. Ridiculous footage.

Parsons and Reed had a less than stellar bout, only consisting of throwing haymakers and talking jive. Reed's stiffest shot was saying "I'll knock all the ice cream out ya drawers, boy!" The pace of this was slower than two septagenarians having intercourse with broken hips. Following match was a grudge due to Adam's betrayal of the Von Erich family (which in it's day was HUGE) Best match of the show by far, some cool technical on the ground, both guys trying to show up the other, then Adams goes on a flurry, including what is perhaps the most violent superkick ever recorded as Kevin is on his knees near the ropes and takes a head shot that blasts him outside like he was shot by a cannon. Cool rollup gets the win- this would have garned a lot more points if Kevin had actually sold during his defense stint- he just acted as if he wasn't hurt when you could tell he was. It was really unprofessional and even on the first day of wrestling school, you should know when to show pain.

The six man was a convoluted mess, with Kevin being replaced by Fulton, who's fine but didn't add anything to this. Mike was awful in the ring; he looked like he should be putting together some model '67 Corvettes in his bedroom, not wrestling. The heels were all fine at their jobs, putting over the faces with realistic selling. Kerry was sloppy, and never really tagged out. Possibly high off Mike's model glue or something. Then the main- it was a bigger mess than the one in Fritz' Depends that night. First off, both the "women" (I use that term loosely, as loosely as Candice Michelle's envelope like pussy) were both hideous, Nickla looked like something Sex Pistols' front man and known heroin hog Sid Vicious wouldn't even fuck, and French looked like a coked out grandmother, complete with pink sweater and Cindy Lauper permed hair. They couldn't work a match if their retirements depended on it. Then, Mike, who previously stated had no business in a wrestling ring. He had the mannerisms of a 14 year old boy, then Gino who was more worried about his debt to the mob than working a wristlock. Then, the grand entrance of Precious down on the 20 yard line, coming down in a helicopter then using a chair to finish the match after only about 2 1/2 mins of work. This was a sad, sad show and I think I'll leave World Class better in my memory than I found it here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

WWF in Milan, Italy- 04/25/93 at Forum Assago

1) El Matador v. Doink- 3

Nice to see my Aug 08 HOF pick, Tito in action- his career was winding down at this point. He didn't have that quickness he used to here but he still had his trusty side headlock, which saw a lot of ring time. Doink was real Zybyzsko here, a lot of goofy laughing and taking walks. He worked top armlock for a good portion of the match. Doink's bumps were real awkward and Santana was def. working in a gear slower than he used to. Finish brought this down; Doink grabbed some kind of spray from his jacket and spritzed Titos' eyes for the win. Totally off topic: Seeing this reminded me how much I loved the line from Dark Knight where Joker has Rachel hanging from a window- Batman says" Let her go!" and Joker responds, " Poor choice of words!"

2) Money Inc. v. Steiner Brothers (WWF Tag Team Title)- 6

You just don't see this kind of match anymore, especially in the E! Steiners were really over and started the match with slow believable collegiate matwork and both the Steiners were really superb at manipulation of the body, whether while doing a suplex, or using an arm to get a takedown. Money Inc. might just be the greatest scientific wrestling team ever put together. Their cutoffs on the faces are always flawless and to the point. Nothing flashy from them, just straight wrestling, perfect execution on elbow drops, arm wringers and clotheslines. And this actually got time to develop! Wow, that's a new concept. All the roles were clearly defined here, Scott played the beating dummy and is a much better choice than Rick. He can get more sympathy and isn't as rigid. But, Rick's comebacks are really believable because he's such a bruiser and both Money Inc guys will bump FOR YOU. Finish was really uncreative- Title belt to back of head for DQ, the only thing I didn't like about this.

3) Yokozuna v. Undertaker- 3

The whole beginning of this felt like a cut scene from a video game that you can't skip. Taker leering at the urn, Paul Bearer shaking like a bowl of moist yogurt, Yoko taking his damn time doing the whole salt ceremony. Then they had a face off- that's how you do intensity! Of course the match didnt' hold up- it was a 6 minute stinker that saw Taker hit a swank flying DDT, which Yoko sold like gold, some tasty uppercuts from both men, then a lame brawl outside. Match ended in a DQ when Yoko hit Taker with the salt bucket in the tamest of tame weapon shots. You couldn't have broken tissue paper with this shot. The force of this shot couldn't have broken Angelina Jolie's diaphragm. The impact of this shot....well, you get the point.

4) Papa Shango v. Tatanka- 4

Two reasons I gave this a better score than the other 2 matches below on it: 1) both guys showed some exuberance in their performance, Tatanka was a ball of fire on the offensive, and while I can argue his flurry of "tomahawk" variations was a little silly, he really showed some emotion when executing it. Shango, for his part, sold them extremely well even for being a big man. and 2) the finish was clean, and surprising (a quick rollup) not just one guy hitting his finisher and that's it. So, while not worth seeking out, still commendable.

5) Beverly Brothers v. Bushwhackers- 2

Of all the goofy gimmicks and ridiculous characters, I think, after seeing this, the Beverlys are the most cartoonish of all. Their performance here would make even the most ludicrous Vaudeville performance look like King Lear. They were overselling all of the Whackers' insipid offense for the whole first half of this match, flipping and flopping everywhere to get over that comedy shit and it all sucked. Then, they take over control and their move set looks like shit! Weak ass kicks, lame ax handles (not from the top rope) and sodding punches highlighted their whole control section. The finish was as plausible as the premise for Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Blake Beverly accidentally hits his partner with a top rope forearm (?) and that pins him. This was wretched and made me detest the color purple for a while (not the book, never read that).

6) Bret Hart v. Bam Bam Bigelow- 6

Before we get started on this one, Adam reviewed this back in the stone age of NHO and said if you ever want to see a bad Bret Hart match, check this out. I'm inviting him to give it a 2nd look and see for yourself.

Vince McMahon called Bret "the greatest storyteller our business has ever seen." That statement is the crux of this match. Basically, this could be a traning video for how to sell a bodypart, and get the underdog story over. Bret starts on offense and the visual of Bret's balled up fist, looping in sideways and connecting with Bam Bam's massive bald cranium, jerking back brings me great joy. Bam Bam grabs Bret outside and rams him back first into the steel pole and the performance begins: Bret, agonizing in pain outside, writhting and squirming like a nightcrawler searching through the hollowed skull of a corpse, is marvelous. He sells it for a good 3 minutes outside (with Bigelow breaking the count several times) then comes back in and just gives himself to the performance. Every few minutes, he'll hit an offensive move and the key to the story is what Bam Bam will come back with and Bret re-selling the original injury to the back with even more conviction. The best is after he gets back control and hits a few near falls, but after going to a back suplex more than once, Bam Bam's bodyweight reverses it and Bret's back down. Finally, he goes up and locks in a very convincing victory roll for the surprise win. End scene.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ROH Rising Above PPV

A few buddies and I ordered the ROH pay-per-view a few hours ago and I submitted in some feedback to Wrestling Observer. Albeit not the size or depth of an actual review, I figured it'd be prudent to share it here also:

1. Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. Briscoes - 4
2. MsChif vs. Sara Del Rey - 4
3. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Silas Young vs. Alex Payne vs. Sami Callahan - 3
4. Brent Albright, Roderick Strong, and Ace Steel vs. Davey Richards, Go Shiozaki, and Chris Hero - 3
5. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Austin Aries - I Quit Match - 6
6. Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson - 7

This was the first time I’d spent money on ROH since driving nine-plus hours to Philadelphia from Cincinnati to see Misawa over a year ago. This was a solid show, and as billed, the main event is certainly worth the price of ordering the show (or DVD down the road) alone. Nigel and Danielson both are great storytellers, and with the athleticism and physicality on display, coupled with the emoting and body language, you’ve got a fine example of how profound a wrestling match can actually be. Aries and Jacobs was nuts, tons of blood and scary bumps, kind of overwrought with unnecessary complicatedness, like Jacobs’ shoddy job of tying Austin to a chair with a steel chain that called for a serious amount of disbelief to accept. The six-man tag was my least favorite bout, just a mess, and not a terribly interesting one at that. When Richards and Strong let loose and fired up, it got compelling, but the painfully dull heat segment on Ace Steel (why’s he back, again?) that went nowhere and legal man issues irked me enough to get me out of it.

The opening tag was a fine start, albeit Mark’s injury changed the whole aura, thanks to the woefully sloppy Crist Bros. botching a spot the night previously in Dayton, so while this didn’t come close to their previous matches against each other it was still decent enough. The women’s match was good if for no other reason then the sheer enjoyment of seeing MsChif getting awkwardly stretched, and the “Claudio Show” as I dubbed it of him throwing around the young guys was an amusing squash even if technically it wasn’t without its problems.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Video: WWE New Year's Revolution '07

This is my first foray in solo, video blog-esque, reviewing but something I want to experiment with in the days to come. I think it went pretty well, all things considered. I filmed it in three parts over the course of a week. The first part was my first take, so I wasn't at my most comfortable yet, and the third, I was out on my balcony in arctic wintry conditions, so not in the most clear state of mind; so the second's easily the best of the batch, and my kitten Tomo even makes an unexpected cameo leading to some fun. Well, hope you enjoy, expect more of these from me somewhat regularly, and for those keeping track or record, my official scores for the DVD are below:

1. Jeff Hardy vs. Johnny Nitro - Cage Match - 6
2. The Highlanders vs. World's Greatest Tag Team vs. Super Crazy and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch vs. Cryme Time - Tag Team Turmoil - 4
3. Ric Flair vs. Kenny Dykstra - 4
4. Mickie James vs. Victoria - 5
5. Rated RKO vs. DX - 7
6. Carlito vs. Chris Masters -3
7. John Cena vs. Umaga - 6

Bonus DVD content:
1. Kevin Federline vs. John Cena - (WWE Raw - 1/01/07) - 2
2. "Rosie O'Donnell" vs. "Donald Trump" - (WWE Raw - 1/08/07) - 2




Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Japan v. Zero-1 Max Round III- 07/20/08

1) Riki Choshu/ Mitsuhide Hirasawa v. Takao Omori/ Shito Ueda- 4

This match started out like the 16-meter dash in China last summer- a dead sprint from all four guys at the bell. Ueda seemed pretty unathletic and chose to brawl mainly for his part in this 6 minute bout. Surprisingly Choshu, although quite tan and sporting a face like a Sharpe dog, brought the most believability and still showed he can throw a lariat with the best of them, taking off Ueda's head for the win. Fun opening bout and interesting way to put it together.

2) Yujiro v. Osamu Namiguchi- 4

Before the match, they showed some highlights of Yujiro getting his ass handed to him in match after match, but his heart never let him quit wrestling. He doesn't have much muscle and he's not very big, but apparently a big heart. This started out in the same breakneck speed right at the bell and both men showed good chemistry together. Namiguchi laid in some heavy shots that busted the young whelp open and he had a few decent comeback spots but this was over pretty quickly so hard to give it much of a grade. What they did though was fairly competent.

3) Ryouji Sai/ Minoru Fujita v. Ryusuke Taguchi/ Tetsuya Naito- 4

Haven't seen Fujita in quite a while, he's looking older no doubt, but still shows his proficiency with submission skills. He rules Naito on the ground and fends off Taguchi's strong aireal attack much like a UFC fighter would with a takedown and some holds on the ground. Sai is useless, the Japanese version of Jeff Hardy without any of the instinct or athleticism. He's a sloppy punk rocker who can't even keep the momentum going for more than 3 minutes. Taguchi pairs up well with him, tearing through his sloppy kicks with his own offense. Another fun tag match that never got ahead of itself but didn't have enough time to develop.

4) Daisuke Sekimoto/ Tatsuhito Takaiwa v. Jushin Liger/ AKIRA- 4

I don't know if Brian remembers Sekimoto, but we saw him get his body shredded a few years ago in Big Japan against American slob Mad Man Pondo. We were impressed with his willingness to put his body through hell by bumping in glass and other painful items. Now, he's massive and swoll, and the match was built around protecting him and making him the star. He overpowered both of his opponents, who have seen better days. Liger didn't bust out anything that made him famous but his selling was still top notch. AKIRA kept to the ground a lot but was pretty spry. Takaiwa was doing the same shit he did back in '98 Juniors division except it looks worse now with no snap on the moves. He didn't bring anything to this. I hinged on giving it a '3' but the finish was surprising as AKIRA hit a brainbuster from up top for the win, considering Sekimoto hadn't taken a single move throughout the match, but he was still protected beating Liger's ass on the outside, that wispy hair shooting everywhere.

5) Wataru Inoue/ Tiger Mask v. Ikuto Hidaka/ Munenori Sawa- 6

This show was supposed to be NJ v. Zero-1 but i hadn't seen the passion or the hatred quite yet until this match. I'd say 90% of the offense in this one was kicks and slaps. Mask was on, just exuding the original Sayama, stomping right up to Hidaka and slapping the remnants of his beef & broccoli lunch out of his mouth. And his kicks were on target, just crumpling both guys numerous times. Hidaka with his BAttlarts experience didn't take it lying down though and utilized several MMA style takedowns and threw quite a lot of his own strikes. Their partners took an accepting role as backup, letting these two sit on center stage and wage war. Inoue got pretty aggressive as well and looked to be more on the Heavyweight side of things but he was very quick and kept a good pace. He and Tiger worked well together.

6) Masato Tanaka/ Shinjiro Ohtani v. Yuji Nagata/ Manabu Nakanishi- 5

I volleyed back and forth with this score, and I'm settling on a 5 because it's almost recommendable only due to the sheer intensity that Tanaka and Nagata bring as they go to war with each other. Two distinct styles and they collide over and over again throughout this match, and every time just running into each other and throwing elbows, kicks, whatever they can muster. They are both at the top of their game. Nagata is basically Japan's answer to Kurt Angle without the pill addiction. He's a master at his craft, which is the ground game and kicks. He uses both of them aplenty here and with expertise. Tanaka is just a brawler who seems to never feel pain. There's an outside brawling section here that really highlights both of these guys, Nagata, although not his realm, still outstrikes Ohtani but Tanaka simply picks up a chair and hits Nakanishi as hard as humanely possible, several times, finally obliterating one of the seats out of it.

But, as great as the two are, their partners are equally as horrible, which is what drags this down. Ohtani is looking so ancient and although he can still muster a dropkick or two, his workrate is nearly invisible considering how great he once was. Really dull and weak offense, decent bumping for his opponents but that's it. Nakanishi is the New Japan version of Kane, big, strong idiot, who's been around for years, always hovering around mid-card to upper main and who's never improved. His selling was atrocious and he tried to play this guy that doesn't feel anything and when you're matched up with Tanaka it just doens't work because you're not going to out-stiff him in that area. The worst thing is when Ohtani and Nakanishi paired up; punches you'd be ashamed of if your 2 year old brother threw them, business exposing spots, like rammed in the steel post outside where Nakanishi walks into the pole, so he doesn't get hurt and both men's weak ass strikes that most times don't connect. Their exchanges would be laughable if they weren't so pathetic. So, a real yin-yang element here so it's nearly recommendable but not quite.

7) Yuji Nagata v. Masato Tanaka- 5

Now, this score may seem a little high, but it's the perfect companion to the prior match. The tag went to a 30 minute draw, and as it did, Tanaka and Nagata both went after each other, being seperated by hordes of officials and other wrestlers, so they demanded the 5 minute overtime be just them- thank God. Basically picked right up where the tag left off, with both guys going full steam ahead, throwing elbows and kicks like there was no tomorrow. They brawled outside, back in and Tanaka got his head ripped open which could have been payback for him ripping open Nakanishi's head in the tag. This went to a draw as well but it was a great lead in for their feud that was still going on even at the Tokyo Dome show. I believe Brian and Didge got to see the extension of this feud on the recent Destruction PPV......need to get my hands on this because if this buildup is any indication, it's spewing molten hot lava. No rain, no rainbow.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

WWF In Your House: International Incident

1) The Smoking Gunns v. The Body Donnas- 2
2) Mankind v. Henry Godwinn- 3
3) Steve Austin v. Marc Mero- 3
4) Goldust v. Undertaker- 3
5) Shawn Michaels/ Sid/ Ahmed Johnson v. Vader/ Davey Boy Smith/ Owen Hart- 4

The Good:
Vancouver crowd, excited, energetic on their feet a lot........Sunny's leather halter top.......Billy's shitheel smile........Bart's momentum changing powerslam......Godwinn throwing heavy forearms and clotheslines circa All Japan '94.......Foley's famous running knee in the corner, costs Godwinn another 3 teeth.....Jim Ross trying to sell this match of ridiculous characters as a legitimate athletic of rollup spot with Mero & Austin where Austin's lip busted from KOTR; good pysch.....even though it made no sense, Mero executes a no hands moonsault off the apron, im' guessing if he could do that in the bedroom, he may still be married, well that and have a cock bigger than 1 1'2 inches............Taker starting out match by chokeslamming Goldy on steel stairs- mean and unwarranted (Great Job!)..........Michaels & Vader's chemistry........Vader's running charge to Michaels, looked like Trunchbull from Rolad Dahl's classic children's novel "Matilda"..........Owen disfiguring Ahmed's face with flying heel kick.........Vader going over clean on Michaels, very unexpected.

The Bad: (do i have enough room?)
Body Donnas cut a face promo, seriously? In ring, they have 0% face heat from fans..........Zip's chops are weaker than a grade school ear flick......Bart in armlock for 2 minutes and looks bored, no pain at all........Gunns blow the World's Greatest Tag Team double team move and Billy laughs it off........several miscommunications and blown finish..........this sucked harder than Sunny after a few tequilas..........Henry has really unfinished powerslam........Foley does a spinning neckbreaker on concrete but Godwinn falls on top of him, shitty spot..........needless Foley concrete bump, then goes right in for mandible claw, didn't even sell the bump...........for an ex-boxer, Mero's punches aren't connecting- is he farsighted?................not really a fan of Sable even before her whole body became plastic.............badly botched double out of ring spot, followed up with haphazard brawling...............Taker match basically a squash, Rhodes little offense not impressive..................stupid looking idiot getting paid to wear a hotel bellhop uniform, no idea why he's there............silly "burst through the ring spot" still rubs me the wrong way............Sid's strikes are cartoonish at best.........Michaels pulls off a hurricanrana on Vader with legs on shoulders, not wrapped around head, very poor execution............Ahmed blows his load with the first two spots he does, then pulls off a Rolling German suplex that's shittier than the worst Backyard fed i've seen................Ahmed is literally laying on the corner post trying to regain energy, can someone shoot some HGH into his thigh at ringside or something?......................Michaels keeps looking back to see if heels made fresh tag before he makes hot tag

Final Thoughts;
This felt like a poor Raw or an unmotivated house show. Didn't see anyone on the show really put forth a hard working performance or complete package of a match. You could see why so many fans were drawn to ECW, not because the work was that much better, but it was a hell of a lot more entertaining.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Video: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom III (Tokyo Dome - 1/4/09)

Only three days after taking place on the other side of the globe, NHO staffers Brian and Didge discuss Japan’s equivalent to WrestleMania, reviewing Wrestle Kingdom III, the 20th anniversary of NJPW’s renowned January Tokyo Dome show. The video is over forty-minutes, so we’ve split it up into five chunks for your convenience. Also, here’s a full card, for those keeping track at home, school, work, the subway, or wherever else people get online these days:

1. Místico, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Prince Devitt vs. Averno, Jado, and Gedo - B:4 D:4
2. Jushin Liger and Takuma Sano vs. Wataru Inoue and Koji Kanemoto - B:5 D:4
3. Motor City Machineguns vs. No Limit (Yujiro and Tetsuya Naito) - B:5 D:5
4. Tiger Mask IV vs. Low Ki - B:5 D:6
5. Riki Chōshū, Masahiro Chono, Kurt Angle, and Kevin Nash vs. Giant Bernard, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii and Karl Anderson - B:4 D:4
6. Yuji Nagata vs. Masato Tanaka - B:7 D:7
7. Jun Akiyama vs. Manabu Nakanishi - B:5 D:5
8.Team 3D vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano - Hardcore Rules - B:3 D:3
9. Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto vs. Mitsuharu Misawa and Takashi Sugiura - B:6 D:6
10. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs.Keiji Mutoh - B:7 D:7






Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ROH: A New Level

1) Roderick Strong v. Go Shiozaki v. Erick Stevens (FIP Heavyweight Title)- 6
2) Rocky Romero/ Davey Richards v. Kevin Steen/ El Generico- 4
3) Sweet n' Sour Inc. (Hero/ Albright) v. Delirious/ Pelle Primeau v. Jack Evans/ Jigsaw (Tag Team Scramble)- 2
4) Bryan Danielson v. Noamichi Marufuji- 8
5) Necro Butcher v. Takeshi Morishima (Relaxed Rules)- 4
6) Austin Aries/ Jay Briscoe v. The Age of the Fall (No DQ ROH Tag Team Title match)- 6
7) Nigel McGuiness v. Claudio Castagnoli (ROH Heavyweight Title match)- 5

What a hell of a way to start off the show! The 3 hardest hitting dudes, arguably, working today all just chopping each other's chests into hamburger meat for our enjoyment. This was an awesome opening match, just high diesel action from start to finish, with the chopping, the power moves, all of it stiffer than Hugh Hefner's heavily medicated cock. Strong has gained so much ring saavy in recent years; i think he could be a gaijin star in Japan the likes of Hansen in the 80's or Vader in the 90's, if dedicated. Stevens was kind of the glue that kept this together, he and Strong have had the feud of the year in '08 and Go, despite some selling problems, is showing tons of heart; one spot he trasitioned from a small package into a suplex position into a powerbomb- phenomenal strength. This is the best opening match i've seen since Angle v. Mysterio at Summerslam '02.

The following tag featured two teams that made waves in '08( I favor NRC) but this wasn't either team's best outing. Richards is usually a dynamo, but looked sluggish and submission work was off. Steen is quickly wearing thin on me, he will take a nasty bump or two, but he's the exact wrestler i don't like: a spot hog and he was doing it all through the end of this match, rather get the heat on him than anyone else. He and Generico, character wise have a great chemistry that can't be denied. NRC's teamwork wasn't very good either and Romero had some miscommunication with Generico during the later half of the match. Very average. This Scramble became a stunt show at a theme park, with everyone doing big dives to the floor, even Albright, after shrugging his shoulders as if to say "Why the fuck not? Nothing else to do!" Real big lack of creativity for this match, Hero and Primeau have some fun spots together, but other than that, same old, same old here. The double 450 splashes outside were mind numbingly moronic and the finish looked like a switcheroo gag that wouldn't be plausible in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

As always, Danielson's match steals the show; it's almost like he's given this spot before intermission to make the show feel like two smaller ones, with a satisfying main event in case the real one doesn't deliver. Against Marufuji, two unique styles that blend well together. Danielson's selling like when he's dazed against the ropes and shaking out an arm after some punches just add those little touches you dont see any more. Some great submission moves worked by both men, and they looked natural and proficient, not like Jigsaw & Delirious trading intricate rollup and armdrags earlier in the show like monkeys trained for weeks to perform a routine. Marufuji has one of the best superkicks PERIOD. I love how he loops it in and hits his target dead smack every time. I love NOAH for introducing apron spots- Danielson probably isn't thrilled with the innovation seeing as how he got dropped neck first in a sort-of brainbuster onto it. ouch. This had the token dive spot seen in every match on the show but the fire was behind it all and both men seemed to be in each other's heads, near the end practically reversing every move seconds after it was attempted. You have to be careful in some situations, like Danielson's elbow strikes, people will reverse them, but leading up to it, not sell them at all, just sit there and Marufuji was guilty of that, the finish was a simple submission that was worked on and over and over again and made sense. Two wonderful styles blended together for a hell of a contest.

I thought this was pretty bland. Necro is in fact the sickest hardcore wrestler alive today, but the guy in a regular match doesn't really have the same magic. Mori selling for him with no emotion at all, he pulled off some stupid spots too, sitting the chair on Necro's face then rolling into him. Looked like a kid tumbling on a playground. Even some of Necro's punches looked bad. I didn't see the same intensity Mori usually brings at all. Back drop on open chair was sick, as well as finishing clotheslines from both men. See a group of grotesque fanboys in the crowd with the Carlio: Spit or Swallow T-shirt on and I lose my afternoon snack all over the couch. The AOTF vs. Aries/ Briscoes feud has been a good one, i must admit. The Lacey video on the extras was cool, a quick snippet of a demented scene from a film. I like how almost every match these guys have is a brawl, they don't pretend to wrestle, it's just fisticuffs all the way. Jacobs has turned into a good guy for these types of matches, he'll take a random garbage bump and doesn't really plod along with bad punches, keeps the juice flowing to it. Jay's blade job was awesome and Jacobs using the spike didn't remind of me of lazy Abby spike use, but more like deadly Shiek use. Aries played hurt face well, trying to stop the carnage of his partner and Jay's comeback was really cool, showing his lethargy due to massive blood loss but still pushing himself, and his selling was still on par. Didn't think we needed the Mark interference even though the Doomsday with one good arm is impressive ,hopefully didn't hurt himself doing it when it wasn't really needed. When the f*** did Zach Gowan join this group?

Now the main: Thought the Claudio videos on the Wire were well done, playing up his background and heritage. The match itself is a diff. story. Nigel is awesome at his role, he picks his opponents apart slowly and I don't know if there is anyone else better in the world today at doing it, except maybe Orton but he can't hold a candle to Nigel's submission skills. I've seen a good handful of Nigel title defenses and he knows his stuff. The reason this match didn't work for me is I don't think Claudio's style fit in with the World Champ Nigel at all; they're Euro exhibitions and comedy fests in 05/06 were fine and their chemistry was good, but here, where you have to sell seriously and take hurty bumps to get over Nigel's moves, Claudio was all over the place. He took multiple awkward bumps that could have hurt him and he ran out of gas, visibly at around 15 minutes, even though this thing went near 30. His selling was off, on all of Nigel's big moves: Tower of London, the clothesline where you're straddled on the rope. Formula was good and Nigel's arm work, all of the little things to get it to the point of submission worked and the crowd was most def. into this, a great shot was the whole crowd on their feet for a sitdown powerbomb near fall. Crowd was excellent all night actually. Thought this was a good show overall, despite some bad stuff mixed in and also had 3 awesome matches, so can't really ask for much more.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

FIP Dangerous Intentions '08

Welcome to the year 2009 here on Never Hand Over! I just wanted to briefly make mention that you'll be seeing less output from yours truly for awhile. I'm taking a leave of absence from my job to focus on this upcoming semester at school as it'll be a real challenging one. I'm also going to try to get content posted more regularly over at Review the World, too. I'll continue experimenting more with doing audio and video reviews here on NHO, and text ones when I get some spare time or see a show or DVD that really motivates me to write. Enjoy!

1. Jigsaw vs. Chasyn Rance - 3
2. Rex Sterling vs. Chris Jones - 3
3. Damien Wayne vs. Seth Delay - 3
4. Sal Rinauro vs. Delirious - 3
5. Black Market vs. Dark City Fight Club - 6
6. Tyler Black vs. Davey Richards - 5
7. Kenny King and Jason Blade vs. Jay Briscoe and Austin Aries - 5
8. Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens - Last Man Standing Match - 9

Full Impact Pro is arguably my second favorite American company behind WWE. I’d been bugging Adam for this disc for a while. Started off with Jigsaw, who I still get a chuckle at without his mask, and Rance. Chasyn has down all the cocky mannerisms of the conceited, arrogant heel, but dude’s barely five-foot tall, so it’s difficult accepting him as any sort of badass or threat. Match was short, just a few minutes, but kept simple enough that they didn’t risk blowing any spots, and Jigsaw’s facials were only moderately hilarious, as for so long they were hidden by a cheap knockoff mask, and his pencil neck and pointy nose make him look like the kid you shot spitwads at in study hall in middle school. I guess FIP were impressed by Sterling and Wayne from the recent ROH southern shows so now they’re on the roster and part of a new faction called Heartbreak Enterprises with The Heartbreak Express and their new valet, none other than Tully Blanchard’s old “Perfect 10”, Babydoll in the (slightly sagging) flesh. Rex is kind of chunky and also has a look that for me makes him slightly harder to get into. His unimpressive physique, chubby face, and bad, red hair remind me of far too many from my embarrassingly backwoods hometown. Chris Jones, on the other hand, basically has the look and character of Evan Bourne’s younger cousin essentially. He’s rocking the same tights, kick pads, and haircut. We’re still in the opening stretch of a show in front of 100 people tops, so nobody leaves first gear, but outside of that this isn’t objectionable.

This leads right into our next match, as Delay cuts a flawed local face promo, eliciting what little excitement could be gained from the Florida crowd, and runs down to work Wayne. Now Damien has been around the circuit for a long time, it shows, while a guy his age shouldn’t be wearing glossy black latex pants and a do-rag, he is considerably more skilled at the mechanics of wrestling than anyone else showcased thus far. This is another in a string of relatively quick and inoffensive matches. The next match gets a bit more time, as Rinauro holds the FIP Florida Heritage championship, but most of that increased time is burnt up by loads of Sal stalling. While its standard heel tactics, it doesn’t do this match any favors, as there’s little to no explosiveness or excitement on display. Delirious just seems to be there, I’m not a huge fan, but you’d suspect being a more established name he could really get over in front of a smaller crowd, but he puts worth little to no effort in a disappointing bout. One highlight I will mention, Rinauro gets backdropped over the top rope out onto the floor onto the YRR (his faction of fellow nubile heels) but nobody caught him and he ends up taking a sick bump as a result.

The next tag is just a wild, chaotic brawl that I really enjoyed. Dark City starts it off by attacking Black Market (imagine a less annoying version of Da Baldies) and from there on the majority of the action takes places on the floor. Both members of DCFC get tossed into the audience and land directly on some community college guys in the front row. Kory Chavis does a Mike Awesome dive over the rail into the crowd, the Black Market piles chairs on Jon Davis, and mayhem ensues. I’m usually not a fan of non-finishes, but this one works, as the DCFC pull out a can of gasoline and soak their opponents, but right before they can burn them alive all of the faces run out from the back and prevent the double homicide. Dark City Fight Club remind me of Doom (physically intimidating and athletic) but as crazy as The Gangstas.

The next match showcased two of ROH's brightest prospects Richards and Black, and while physical enough, felt more like an exhibition than anything else. The momentum changes a couple times, they attempt to include the crowd a bit, so there's pieces that are there but the overall whole feels hollow. The thing that bugged me the most was Davey hitting a freaking German suplex from the top turnbuckles onto Black, only for Tyler to kick out after a two-count and go on to do more spots. That's a crazy dangerous spot and shouldn't be done for filler. Black sells one of Davey's spinkicks to the gut like a member of the Putty Patrol in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, soaring backwards into the turnbuckle. The tag match was enjoyable, starting off with a wild brawl, including a suplex spot on the floor, and then morphing into a regular tag encounter with the heels working over Aries for a good chunk. King does a nice Ura-nage into a backbreaker, which looked smooth and I preferred Kenny in large part over the more pimped Briscoe and Aries (although Austin's torpedo tope is always fun and hurty looking).

Before I tackle the main, I've got to mention a quote, as Tyler Black came out and did a short interview about bringing in his partner Jimmy Jacobs to the next FIP show. Black kept talking about the revolution, and some fan yelled, "the revolution won't be televised!" and Black replied hastily "but it will be on DVD!" sounding like a giant ignoramus.

The next match is spectacular, and certainly the key component in me tracking this show down. The Stevens vs. Strong feud has been phenomenal in '08, and while this might not be the most heavily pimped match of their devastating series together, I thought it was a thing of beauty albeit a physical war. One funny thing I noticed before I begin covering the action, as soon as Erick comes out he swings a major high-five and the recipient dude in the crowd pulls his hand back before the contact and you can tell this totally pissed off Stevens who chewed the dude out and continued steaming about it as he did a lap around the ring slapping hands with rubes. Now, onto the action--let me just start by saying that mere words aren't good enough to express the physicality on display here. You really owe it to yourself to see this, as my humble words describing a bunch of bumps and spots just don't do due justice. I've provided you a two-minute highlight video from YouTube (but keep in mind, this is just a sampling, and is missing some huge spots including one of my favorite gnarly bumps as Strong get slammed on a stack of unopened, upside-down tables and lands right on the folded legs, etc.):

So, as you can get a glimpse of, this was just insane and these guys are certifiably nuts. I can hear some smarks online bitching about Stevens not going down sooner and taking an unrealistic amount of punishment but that's bollocks. I love that a lot of the big bumps aren't giant productions like in old, shitty ECW matches, but just mean-spirited and hurty things that only a sick mind could concoct. I give a ton of credit to Erick, who just took an ass-whooping of enormous proportions and did so like a trooper. Strong is awesome, too; I'm fond of saying that while not the flashiest guy on the Indy scene, Strong is easily one of the most consistent, as he puts in hard work each and every night out and that's commendable.

I loved all the insane spots, the bumps on the floor, chairs, stiff strikes and Yakuza kicks, etc. When they brawled back near the concession stand which was clearly family operated, you could see the patriarch guarding his children from within amidst pizza stank while these two tore each other apart right next to the tip jar. There was a beautiful moment where a teenage girl in the crowd grabbed Stevens' desperately reaching hand and helped him to his feet when it looked like he may be finished--if WWE attempted this act of tenderness it'd be scripted and come off jejune and flat (like Stephanie pre-op).

This was also a crowning moment in breaking in my 52-inch plasma HD TV, as it really came in handy, seeing all of the rips, bruises, and lacerations opening up on both guys as the match went on. Most people will go through their entire lives never being hit this hard, not once, but these guys turned each other into beef jerky to tell a story and that's why I still love wrestling.