1. Cherry vs. Natalya (WWE SmackDown! 4/25/08) - 3
Pretty much a squash but made Natalya look like a threat. Funny seeing them try to pass off Natalya as a bad girl just by throwing some back eyeliner on her. Cherry is an interesting case. Was a local girl that was pretty but had an unremarkable look and doesn't look unlike a lot of girls in the nearby OH/KY area and got snagged by OVW in Louisville and probably never had aspirations beyond it. Then, Vince brings her up, gives her a huge set of fake balloon tits, and we watched her star burn out.
2. Devon vs. Samoa Joe (TNA iMPACT! 6/30/11) - 4
On paper this is a popcorn fart but I liked the little story it told. Both guys had zero points in the ongoing "Bound for Glory Series" point-based competition where twelve guys are competing for a title shot in Oct. Joe had Devon beat a couple times but instead of getting the pin (worth seven points) he kept trying to secure a submission instead (worth ten points). Even though the sub attempts didn't pay off I liked all the stuff where he was attempting them. This strategy ended up costing him in the end as the win slipped through his fingers. Only thing I didn't like was Devon's flash spinerbuster for the finish felt lazy and I didn't buy it putting Joe down.
3. Ryan Couture vs. Matt Ricehouse - (Strikeforce Challengers: Fodor vs. Terry) - 3
Randy's son got outworked and outclassed here. Ricehouse came into the fight undefeated and kept composed, owned the center of the cage, and made shots count. Ryan seemed a bit spastic, lots of footwork, but he never imposed his will or seemed capable of winning either on the feet or ground. Ryan looked more like Kim than Randy.
4. "NJPW vs. MMA" - Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Seiji Sakaguchi & Yuji Nagata vs. Bob Sapp, Kazuyuki Fujita, Minoru Suzuki, Shinsuke Nakamura & Yoshihiro Takayama - (NJPW Ultimate Crush II 10/13/03) - 6
This was pretty wild and featured an entire motley crew of personalities. I was really digging the MMA squad, you had the prick Suzuki, the stiff Takayama (him standing on Sakaguchi's head was revolting), the sly Nakamura, Fujita who I hadn't seen much of in this setting but had me desiring to see more, and Sapp who showed much more charisma than what I've glimpsed in him nowadays in the dying days of his fight career. This went nearly an hour and had me glued to the TV for its entirety (well, Minoru's extended abdominal stretch on Nagata was tedious). This had a big match feel and if enjoy seeing an elderly man wearing a karategi tossing people then pop some popcorn and dig in.
5. El Samurai vs Shinjiro Ohtani - (NJPW 8/10/97) - clipped - 5
Even in this slightly truncated edition this fucking ruled. Samurai coming to the ring with all these girls holding his various belts. Ohtani attacks immediately and relentlessly. Shinjiro's ruthlessness is a joy to behold throughout. Some big bumps, energy, and an invested crowd. Had this been unedited it'd easily be 1-2 points higher.
6. Douglas Williams vs. Mark Haskins (TNA Destination X '11) - 4
Williams' open challenge was met by fellow British countrymen the debuting Haskins. Haskins physically looks like an uglier Rhett Titus. Coming in blind he worked a rather peppy generic babyface style but his nerves were his downfall. Haskins took a gnarly bump on the apron but blew a springboard and later slipped off of the top and had to climb back again to attempt a Shooting Star Press. At one point Mark strung together Statrus' MaTrish evasion spot into a Diamond Cutter leading me to wonder if Britain's TV airings were a decade behind ours.
7. John Cena vs. David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty - Handicap Match (WWE Raw 7/11/11) - 3
We didn't get one of Cena's maestro selling performances here, even with the odds not stacked in his favor, he still managed to handle his opposition fairly handily. I dig John's dropkick. McGillicutty has a few tools and things he does well but has yet to put it all together intriguingly.
8. Meiko Satomura vs. Aja Kong (Sendai Girls - 2nd Senjo Tournament: Round 2 04/09/10) - 6
Meiko has the best offense and is the most emotive and believable at selling of everybody I watched for this batch of reviews. Aja attacks early and pretty much pulverizes Satomura throughout. Even after all these years these two can still get in there together and have a hell of a match. This is physical and their dynamic together is always riveting. I'm not sure exactly what happened at the finish, as the time-limit expired Kong smashed Meiko's face with a Uraken spinning backfist, but as Meiko's students crowded around their crumpled sensei it appeared the on-screen graphic listed Satomura as the victor; perhaps just surviving an Aja Kong mauling is reason enough to be declared a winner?
9. The Best Around vs. Tyler Veritas & Adam Cole (CZW "Down With The Sickness 4-Ever 2009") - 4
All of the TBA stuff I've seen blends together in a malaise. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and an objective viewing here. Some nutty flying bumps right out the gates. Could Veritas/Cole be this generation's Midnight Rockers? Not quite. Cole does a good hot tag, though. I dug the spot where TBA caught a Cole flying crossbody but then Veritas came off the top with a moonsault onto them. You do get the sense at times that they're just throwing spots at you repetitiously, with TBA, it seems like the goal is to fit as much stuff as possible into their match duration regardless of flow or storytelling. One of TBA gave Cole a TKO dropping him on the top rope which lead to a nasty spill to the floor. The finish is a prime example of excess: Veritas has one of TBA (Maxell and Cannon never took the time to tell them apart) in a crossface and the other TBA guy does a shooting star double-foot stomp to break it up when a simple stomp would have sufficed.