Monday, January 24, 2011

Co-Review: WWE Wrestling's Highest Flyers (Disc 1 of 3)

Co-Review by Jessie & Adam.

J: Hey NHO fans, this is me and Adam's 1st Co Review together, and we've for the most part been apart of the blog since the beginning, so looking forward to this. He bestowed this little treasure onto for Xmas and I believe also got his copy for his birthday, so here we go!

A: Hey everyone, Jessie and I concocted this idea after I got the DVD for him for Christmas and my fiancee got it for me for my birthday. Can’t believe we’ve been doing the blog for over five years now and this is our first co-review together. Let’s get started!

1) Ricky Steamboat vs. Brian Pillman (WCW Halloween Havoc ’92, 10/25/92) A:4 J:6

A: Good chop exchange to start. Pillman wearing orange and black, perhaps he’s representing the Bengals? Not sure why. They were the laughing stock of the NFL during this time. Nice dropkick from Pillman hitting Steamboat in mid-air coming off the second rope. Haven’t really seen much high flying, so to speak, in this match. Things have been more mat based. Kinda sloppy roll-up sequence to end it. There were better matches than this that could’ve been chosen to showcase Steamboat’s abilities.

J: Cool match to start us off with. To answer your quandry Adam, Pillman donned those tights from around 1990 till he started in the Hollywood Blondes. To the match, def. wasn't all about high flying, match was sort of understated, the Philly fans sort of fickle and were cheering back and forth. One thing that makes me recommend it is both guys are great on the ground, Pillman being one of the more underrated mat work guys of the 90's. I like the smoothness of their sequences together too, feels less like a Young Bucks marathon and more like an older couple taking ballroom dancing classes and jazzing together. Some neat pin attempts too. I actually think the rollup worked to end it; esp, with Jim Ross on commentary making note of how Dragon used his legs to reverse Pillman's momentum for the pin.

2) Evan Bourne vs. Zack Ryder (WWE Superstars, 6/11/09) J:6 A:4

J: Here's another match I really enjoyed. They say every successful film is 3 acts, well this match employed that very philosophy. Beginning feeling out, Bourne looking dynamic, Ryder finding a weak spot and exploiting it, then the finale, both men fighting for the win with some good counters. Bourne was carrying that ROH work style with him, exploding with an open hand slap I'm sure Danielson gave him before, a cool legdrop that was a Jack Evans staple and the nasty enzugiri that busted Zack's ear open at the end. A few moments they looked like they were searching for the next move but not much. Nice job.

A: My thoughts are a little bit different than Jessie’s. I thought the match came across as pretty basic, especially with Ryder controlling it in the middle. The commentary on this is atrocious. Striker and Matthews trying to make sense of Ryder’s catchphrase and then Striker trying to be funny and a lot of dead air. Bourne hardly got in any offense, except for a few knee strikes and the shooting star press at the end.

3) Jimmy Snuka vs. Samu (WWF @ Madison Square Garden, 2/20/84) A:3 J:3

A: First exchange was very physical with Samu bouncing all over the place for Snuka. Then we get a front facelock hold from Snuka and a nerve hold from Samu that lasted longer than Nelson Mandela’s prison sentence, both of which sucked the life out of the crowd. Snuka’s facials while in the nerve hold were great. Not much else to talk about here besides Snuka hitting the obligatory top-rope splash.

J: Agreed on the nerve pinch and Jimmy's selling, it almost looked like he was trying to conduct Brahm's 4th Symphony, that or else trying to get the vendor to bring him down a chili dog. But this was rather obviously a young boy match, where they put a new comer (Sika's son Samu) in with a veteran, gives him a rub and gives the vet an easy night off, but there were some really quick sequences but the long rest hold in the middle felt slightly unnecessary.

4) Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza, & Lizmark Jr. vs. Villano IV, La Parka, & Psychosis (WCW Bash at the Beach ’97, 7/13/97) J:5 A:5

J: One of the earliest sequences was between Garza and Villano and I thought it was one of the smoothest pieces of business in the match. There were some really inventive stuff though to feast your eyes on, the Triple suicide dive, everyone missing their dives later, followed by the Lucha stape of the succession of planchas. The ending was really bad booking and I find finishes to most Lucha matches like this are the least thought part which seemed to be the case here. Lizmark looked the worst here, with a general misdirection hanging over him like a stormcloud.

A: I remember renting the tape of this particular show from the local library as a kid and loving this match. Most of it was your typical lucha staple of outside dive sequences and what-not with loads of legal man issues. Juvi’s getting Michael Jordan-esque air on a springboard was quite tasty. Agreed with the comments about the ending. I’m guessing it probably popped in Bischoff’s head as he was popping a squat right before showtime.

5) Shelton Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Raw, 5/2/05) A:7 J:7

A: The beginning with the chain wrestling set the stage and allowed the suspense to build from there. Everything, I mean everything was executed with absolute perfection. Shawn looked better here than he did during the end of his last run last year. This was Benjamin at his peak. Shelton nearly took off Michaels’ head with a spinning head kick. The story early on was Shawn getting frustrated with himself about not being able to put away Shelton. The nearfalls were absolutely fantastic and got better as the match went on with the crowd hanging on every single one. The superkick at the end had never been done before but I did see Shawn bust it out during a match with Rey Mysterio last winter in Cincinnati. I toyed with an “8” here but I figured that a “7” would be a safe bet.

J: I wondered if this would hold up especially after the glowing praise you bestowed upon it Adam and it actually did. When I speak about Shawn's 2nd career being a success these are the kinds I like to see, him, with all his story telling ability, the selling, against a new younger gunslinger who can dish it out. Shelton, to his credit, has maybe never looked better. He didn't miss a beat throughout, nailing each and every spot, loved the double clothesline over the top to the outside. So good call, 7 is about right, 8 would be another level that I don't think they reached so good decision.

6) Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Ultimo Dragon (WCW World War III ’96, 11/24/96) J:5 A:5

J: Even Rey circa '96 looked like a better Spider Man than Andrew Garfield. Dragon's green lipstick was way too Cyndi Lauper for me but guess he was cool with it. Dragon was such a Liger here, just bullying small Rey for long periods, with some really dynamic offense, incl. a sick powerbomb. Rey was pitch perfect in his role as the underdog only hitting stuff here and there but hanging in there whenever he can. Again, more like a Japanese style bout than anything high flying but still really fun. Of their 3 PPV matches during this time, I think this is probably the lesser but is still a great watch, especially if your a major fan of either guy.

A: The Japanese style was definitely on display here by Dragon. Jessie pretty much covered everything. Dragon’s kicks didn’t have a lot of force behind them from my perspective. Lil’ Rey (that sound like some rapper’s name) didn’t look to great either. Crowd seemed a bit flat and only responded to Rey’s comebacks. These two have definitely had better matches.

7) Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko (ECW Hardcore TV, 7/21/95) – A:8 J:7

A: This wasn’t necessarily a high flying match but it was just awesome. The mat work and reversals here would make Frank Gotch stand up out of his grave and applaud. Everything meant something and led right into the next move. Big moves were executed only when they needed to be and it fit the context of the match. For example, Malenko hit a gutbuster and then immediately followed it up with an abdominal stretch. Guerrero used his aerial abilities to perfection and hit a perfect frogsplash. The big spot of the match was them taking a tumble over the top rope but they immediately got back in. The finishing sequence would end up becoming a staple of cruiserweight matches in years to come but here, unlike now where roll-up sequences are done to death (particularly in the RVD/Jerry Lynn series of ‘99), it still meant something (and was much crisper than the first match on this disc that used the same finish).

J: I'm not really sure where this particular bout fits into their storied rivalry but off hand it felt fresher, more succint and less pressure than their famed 2/3 falls bout. I agree with Adam that there wasn't much wasted movement here and some of the sequences actually caught me off guard with how fast they were moving and how damn well they came off. Def. some of both mens' career best. I did have issues with both guys during different points just casually moving onto the next spot, ala Ring of Honor since the beginning, especially Dean. He really could have added some facial expressions into his game, except his usual "Damn kids stole my newspaper again" grumpy old man face. Surprised you didn't like the ending of the Dragon-Pillman bout as they used the same one here.

Bonus Matches:

* Ultimo Dragon vs. Psychosis (WCW Uncensored ’97, 3/16/97) – J:5 A:5

J: This was a fun match, a nice mix of styles, Psychosis was trying almost damn near anything and was game for all kinds of nutty bumps and dives. Dragon played more of a straight man but looked as solid mechanically as in the Rey match. Loved the running Lyger bomb he killed Psych with later on. The mat stuff in the opening was every bit as smooth as Eddie-Dean earlier also. Guess why I wouldn't recommend it is some no-selling issues, and the match didn't really flow, felt like a nice collection of spots and I've seen more cohesive stuff from both guys.

A: Dragon looked better here overall than he did in the match with Mysterio. For me, the match felt in the same category as the 6-man lucha match from earlier. Lots of the typical stuff, including Dragon doing the Asai moonsaul. I dug the Tornado DDT and Tiger suplex that finished off Psychosis. Decent match.

* Chavo Guerrero vs. Jamie Noble (WWE Smackdown, 4/18/08) – A:4 J:3

A: Wait, Coach is on color commentary? Bam Neely is still employed? What is this, an alternate universe? Nothing really special here as it was your common, everyday five-minute TV cruiserweight match. Crowd seemed dead and the match was mainly all Chavo getting all his trademark stuff in on Noble. Not much else to talk about.

J: In this alternate universe, is gas still $3 a gallon? Is Eva Mendes single and living on my street? Has anyone "shanked" either of the Crist Brothers as Brian soundly suggested in 2006? Okay, enough hocus pocus, although I don't think a David Blaine magic act in the middle of this would freshen it up any. Chavo was on pure autopilot and I've seen a trash bag get thrown by the Rumpke guys in the morning have more float than Chavo's frog splash. Jamie was sound though, pulling off a couple nice sequences, but this had no time to develop whatsoever.

1 comment:

Brian said...

nice stuff, guys. seems by scores alone you saw most things fairly similarly.

the thing i noticed the most is you guys' different reviewing techniques shining through. jess' more focused on in-ring, the stories being told, etc. whereas adam focuses on more extraneous stuff, like commentary, crowd heat, and so on.

i'm interested and look forward to reading the next two stanzas of this high flying poem.