Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NHO Road Report: HWA Heartland Cup 2012 Night 2

Second night of the bachelor party and the second night of the Heartland Cup. This time, Todd, Tim, and I were joined by former NHO member Geo, who it should be noted was fighting back some sort of illness as he was doped up on antibiotics, or so he told me. Crowd was smaller than the previous night and were much more subdued as well but I’ll get to that later. LET’S FIGHT BITCHES~!

1. Heartland Cup Quarterfinals: Remi Wilkins vs. Jake Crist - 3
2. Heartland Cup Quarterfinals: B.J. Whitmer vs. Alex Colon - 3

And so the quarterfinals begin. Wilkins didn’t look near as good as he did the previous night against Billy Roc. Both guys seemed to be cruising through this. As I type this, it’s been just over 24 hours since the show ended and the only good spot I can remember from this was Crist doing this two-part move that consisted of a slam and then a moonsault. Crist kept referencing this group O.I.4.K. and all of us are sitting there trying to figure out what the hell he was referencing. Enjoyable match to start the show with though. Whitmer and Colon started out pretty rough but the last bit was fairly good. I think I may have to check out some more Alex Colon stuff as this kid is pretty good. I’m sure he’ll be on the show when CZW comes to town in June. Whitmer smashed a couple good knees right to Colon’s face and ended up getting the win with the same submission that he got Michael Elgin to tap out to the previous night. If the rest of the tournament matches are kept to about seven minutes each like these, this will go down just as nice as a cold glass of Coke (or Pepsi, whichever you prefer).

3. Heartland Cup Quarterfinals: Drake Younger vs. Gerome Phillips - 7
4. Heartland Cup Quarterfinals: Steve Corino vs. D.J. Hyde - 5

This was the quarterfinal match I was looking forward to the most. This marks the third time I’ve seen these two wrestle for this particular fed and it was, by far, the best of the three. From the opening bell, they were just throwing bombs. Phillips is just a fucking beast and killed Drake with some pretty stiff shit. Drake, not to be outdone though, fought back. The theme here was a face vs. face match and let’s see who the better man is. Drake hit a nice moonsault and Phillips threw better lariats than Bradshaw, with the last one being especially sick. Really, really good stuff here. Maybe the best match of the whole weekend. Quite the contrary to the previous match as this match was the one I was least looking forward to. However, I must say that having low expectations made it turn out better than I thought. Hyde was all over the mic, running down the crowd for cheering Corino, insulting the fat dude at ringside who looked like the long lost brother of local radio personality Wildman Walker. It was really strange seeing Hyde do all of this and then during intermission, hustling people at the merch table to buy CZW DVD’s. Inconsistencies aside, Hyde spent most of the match no selling clotheslines and working over Corino’s hand, which he had smacked on the ringspot during a brawl on the floor. Wouldn’t mind seeing these two do battle again at some point.

5. Jesse Emerson vs. Dustin Rayz - 4
6. Four Corners Tag Team Match: The Heavyweight Heroes vs. DNA vs. The Trend Killers vs. Gavin Thorson & Jonathan Crane - 1

This was built up the previous night after Emerson’s match against Drake. Emerson and Guffman came out to interrupt Tim Tatum’s unispired promo and then they did the old lights out trick with Coheed and Cambria’s awesome song “Welcome Home” blaring over the speakers. Then some dude comes out on the ramp, to which the crowd pops huge, while we all look at each other and try to figure out who the hell this guy is. Finally, we figured out it was Dustin Rayz, making a surprise return after breaking his leg last December. We got some blood from Emerson in this, not a lot though, but just enough to make everything he did look a bit better. Rayz seemed a bit rusty and was favoring his leg a bit as it was really heavily taped up. This turned into a surprisingly solid bout, although not really anything stood out enough to propel it up to the next level but as a whole. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and it’s probably the best Dustin Rayz match I’ve seen in a while. Back from intermission and we return with another four way tag, exactly as we did last night. I thought for a minute that the ring announcer may have messed up and read his note cards from last night. Murray again failed to be anywhere near the realm of acceptable as it looked like he rolled out of bed right before the match. Half the guys in this match I didn’t know and until Geo pointed out that the one guy was Zac Vincent, I had no clue who he was. In a weird moment, Chris “The Madness” Hall jumped the rail mid-match and just cleaned house with some absolutely sick shit and he nearly killed everyone except for the sloppy Heavyweight Heroes. Nothing to see here and I would’ve been completely fine if this had just been dropped from the show all together.

7. Heartland Cup Semi-Finals: Jake Crist vs. B.J. Whitmer – 3
8. Heartland Cup Semi-Finals: Gerome Phillips vs. Steve Corino – 5

It’s the semi-finals and a match that just seemed to drag on and on forever. Why they decided to work a 20-minute, mat based match in front of a crowd that had shot their wad already is beyond me. Whitmer’s ground game looked decent but I’m thinking that he wanted an easy match before he went off to the finals. Crowd quickly lost interest in this and the only cheers were those made by Crist’s kids, who just happened to be sitting right in front of us. At one point I looked around the building and realized that I’d seen livelier crowds at a funeral. Rather long and dull match. On to the other semi-final and a match I rather enjoyed. Corino worked the heel and added another dimension to the match than what it would have been if it had just been face vs. face. Crowd was still really dead in the beginning of this but once Corino started doing a heel schtick, it was easy for them to get behind Phillips. Lot’s of the same stuff from Phillips as he had shown earlier in the Drake match, including some hard-ass lariats. Sadly, this was better than the finals, and probably second best match of the night.

9. 10-Man Tag Team Match: Chad Collyer, Ron Mathis, Jeremy Madrox, Reed Bentley, & Chrisjen Hayme vs. Dave Crist, Lord Matthew Taylor, Dre Jacobs, & The American Wrestling Warriors - 3
10. Heartland Cup Finals: Gerome Phillips vs. B.J. Whitmer - 4

A random ten-man tag team match? Sure, why not. I figured this would just be about 8-10 minutes of filler and one of those “town prostitute” matches, where everyone gets a turn. Taylor needs new ensemble really bad as his current getup looks really haggard, like he found old gear in the basement of a condemned opera house (I’m looking at your Sorg Opera House) and said “yeah, this’ll work”. Madrox is a great character with his old-timey mustache and doing the early 1900’s fighter thing. I’m guessing both guys in the finals needed some time to rest as this ended up going about 15 I’d say, leaving the finals to hit the ring just before 11:30. The finals weren’t that bad and were kept under ten minutes, which was good because everyone in the building was pretty much exhausted, from the wrestlers and fans to the concession workers and the people at the merch table, who were packing up before the match was even over. Match itself was pretty by the numbers and I was happy to see Phillips go over. Afterwards, we got D.J. Hyde running, well more like jogging, down to the ring and smashing the trophy over Phillips’ back and announcing that CZW would be coming to town on Saturday June 9. Will I be there? Hell yes! On the show as a whole, not as good as the first night and due to it running long, me and the guys missed on some primo arcade time at Dave and Buster’s and ended going to IHOP for some much needed pancakes and omelettes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

NHO Road Report: HWA Heartland Cup 2012 Night 1

For my bachelor party, my friend Todd orgainzed for a bunch of us to go to the Heartland Cup, the now annual two-day spectacular from HWA. For the first night, Todd and myself were joined by my friend Tim, fellow NHO members Brian and Jessie, and former NHO contributor Didge.

1. Remi Wilkins vs. Billy Roc - 4
2. Gerome Phillips vs. Nick Cutler - 3

I’ve heard of Billy Roc but never really seen any of his work. This was billed as a teacher vs. student match as apparently Wilkins is Roc’s top student. When Brian, Geo, and I went to see Dragon Gate in Indianapolis, Wilkins was on the card and he didn’t look all that great as he was teamed with some pudgy scrub in a throw-away tag. This was a really good way to kick off the show. Some pretty good spots here including a big superplex that had us jumping up and down in excitement. Fun and enjoyable this was. Always dug Phillips work. Cutler came out and did some dancing and cut a promo about a bunch of stuff I’ve already forgotten about. Some stalling from Cutler to start but once Phillips got offense this got good. I’ve always dug Phillips work and this was no exception. His intensity is great and his power stuff is just great. Cutler’s manager looked like an 18-year old going to his first job interview and can’t sell worth a damn.

3. Alex Colon vs. Dave Crist - 4
4. D.J. Hyde vs. Chrisjen Hayme - 2

What the fuck has Dave Crist been smoking? He came out wearing a Jason mask with a mohawk and looking like he ripped off Jeff Hardy. Colon looked really good but I had a couple issues with Crist, as usual. Biggest problem I had was Crist taking an apron bump and then about 45 seconds later doing a huge dive over the top rope not even selling his back whatsoever. At least he wasn’t chewing gum as I’ve seen him do in the past. I was half expecting Crist to advance so I was pretty surprised with Colon got the win. Sugar Dunkerton from CHIKARA was supposed to be in this tournament but from what I understand he got injured so I’m guessing that Hayme was his replacement. I’ll always remember Hayme for busting his skull open falling off the top rop during a pre-show match at Dragon Gate in Indianapolis. This amounted to a squash with Hyde just wailing on Hayme throughout the match. Hyde provided us the biggest laugh of the night where, in his pre-match promo, he said he was the “best athlete in the world” which caused us to laugh heartily.

5. No DQ Match: Drake Younger vs. Jesse Emerson - 6

This gets match of the night honors right here as it was nothing but a brawl from start to finish. Emerson’s fat heel manager, the bloated gasbag known as Brock Guffman who has seemingly been working indies around this area for ages, did a pre-match promo (what is it with pre-match promos? Three out of the first five bouts have had them) trying to weasel out of the No DQ stip but it was to no avail and Drake took the initial offense and just wailed on Emerson with cookie sheets and chairs, including brawling right into the area where we were sitting at ringside. I used to think Emerson was pretty good but the more I see him, he looks like a clone of some of the people in FCW. Turning point of this was when Drake introduced a staple gun into the proceedings. Emerson got control and stapled what appeared to be toilet paper to Drake. Some good nearfalls and a bunch of pretty wild spots including one where Emerson took a bump on a chair with the legs sticking out. To his credit Emerson took a hell of a beating. Post match saw an angle with Guffman and HWA President Tim Tatum with Tatum accepting Guffman’s challenge for Emerson against a mystery opponent for night two.

6. Four Way Scramble Match: The Heavyweight Heroes (Jon Murray & Clark Konnor) vs. The American Wrestling Warriors vs. DNA vs. Lord Matthew Taylor & Dre Jacobs - 3
7. Steve Corino vs. Ron Mathis - 3

Bonus match time and it appears that the phrase “scramble match” is a euphemism for lucha rules where once a guy goes to the floor another competitor can come in legally, basically the rules for all CHIKARA tag matches. Murray strikes me as someone who desperately wants to be either Balls Mahoney or Mick Foley but can’t decide which one he wants to be, so he just mixed the two. The big dive spot happened right in front of us and was pretty cool. Aaron McCormick of DNA did a wild springboard corkscrew type move which resulted in not only one of the Warriors breaking his nose but McCormick smacking his head against the railing and nearly knocking himself out. Here’s were things started sort of going downhill. Crowd really died after the four way tag as this was worked a completely different style than the other matches in the tournament thus far. Corino kept the pace more based on the mat and the crowd liked some parts but seemed to be disinterested in most of his. Biggest pop of the match was for Corino’s “Thumb in the Butt” move where he literally sticks his thumb up Mathis’ butt. Mathis looked decent here but I don’t think Corino was the right opponent for him as I think their respective styles may have clashed a bit.

8. Chad Collyer vs. Jake Crist - 4
9. B.J. Whitmer vs. Michael Elgin - 5

Another mat based match this was and it was really cool to see Collyer back in HWA after all these years. He’s slimmed down a lot and looks in really great shape. Again, much like the Corino match, the work was good but the majority of the crowd was disinterested. Collyer is always solid wrestling a mat-based style so I think it may have been a challenge for Crist. We had some fun with the referee during the match as he was really emphatic when yelling out “No!” on a submission or “Two!” on a two count. So everytime he yelled that out, we yelled it out as well. It kept us entertained and I must say we were quite surprised when the match ended on a backslide of all things. Stiff is in the house brother! Elgin has had some star making appearances in ROH as of late, including winning a 45-minute elimination match in Dayton which we saw live and then, from what I’ve heard, a five-star match with Davey Richards over WrestleMania weekend in Miami. Whitmer’s been good since he returned in 2010. Loved the chop exchanges as they echoed throughout the auditorium. Elgin busted out an awesome delayed vertical suplex which had us applauding with approval. I was expecting a brawling style match from these two so wasn’t overly excited with the final product but looking back on it a day later, it’s better than I initially though. Was really surprised to see Elgin tap out. After the show, we all made the trip over to the local Steak N Shake for some burgers and cheese fries.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eddie Edwards vs. Christopher Daniels

Eddie Edwards vs. Christopher Daniels - TV Championship Match - ROH on HDNet 1/31/11 - 9

I liked the grounded Edwards grabbing one of Daniels' arms mid-cartwheel like, "Fuck that fancy shit -- come here so I can tear your arm off!" Eddie threw some hard elbows looking like Nick Denis out there. EE took a big bump off of a Death Valley Driver. Daniels methodically targeted the neck. I loved the superplex. CD sold it like someone just poured sriracha in his eyes. Uncharacteristic moonsault off of the apron by EE -- rough landing going shins-first into the metal rail. Unreal spot where Daniels was on his hands and knees on the apron and EE came off of the top with a nasty double foot-stomp that squished CD like a bug. Final seconds saw the Achilles Lock countered into a Koji Clutch as the time-limit expired. Although battling through injuries EE didn't want to accept a decision and demanded five more minutes. The guys were too busy clobbering each other on the outside that they were almost both counted out. Eddie facially was doing a fantastic job late registering the physical toll on him and exhaustion. Daniels' Angel's Wings can sometimes come off looking tepid but here was executed and sold like a big KO slam similarly to a particular violent MMA one. Daniels' first singles title in his long storied ROH run. He celebrates post-match as the crowd goes nuts. Amazing story thread as Edwards had been built as a guy who fights through being hurt but his own hubris was his downfall costing him his most precious prize. I could see this argued as one of (if not the best) matches in the history of the ECW Arena. It's clearly ahead of anything ECW itself produced in that building by a fairly substantial margin. I recently got all of the CZW stuff from '06-'11 and while I've seen some jaw-dropping spectacles there's nothing approaching this level of craft.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wrestle Mania 28

It's been a day or so since Mania and I'm going to finish up my series here and finally be caught up. Overall impression of this show is it was a thumbs middle and will be remembered for delivering on most of the main events; a big step up from last year though.

1) Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus- 0
2) Kane v. Randy Orton- 4
3) Cody Rhodes v. Big Show - 2
4) Eve/ Beth Phoenix v. Kelly Kelly/ Maria Menounos- 2
5) HHH v. Undertaker (Hell in a Cell)- 7
6) Mark Henry/ The Miz/ Jack Swagger/ Dolph Ziggler/ Drew McIntyre/ David Otunga v. Santino Marella/ Kofi Kingston/ Zach Ryder/ Great Khali/ R Truth/ Booker T - 3
7) CM Punk v. Chris Jericho - 7
8) The Rock v. John Cena- 5

The opener is the most insulting slap in the face to WWE fans since Vince blew himself up and we take this a lot more seriously. Shows the disconnect between whoever thought that was a good idea and the people giving money to this product.

Kane selling is terrible as usual, with one notable fall looking akin to tripping over a tree limb in the forest while jogging. Kane continued to throw punches even though his suck; he should have stuck with the uppercuts. Orton is always a fun watch, you get the sense he is always within himself acting against the match and as if no one's there. Dug the surprise finish for the fact of being a surprise and nice bump.

Show looked like garbage here and this is the last match you want to give Cody a showcase with. But i get this was a moment for Show; this is a very Attitude era heavy night, with most of those guys getting the spotlight. A spear near the end was frighteningly ugly that looked like Show picked up a Tranny and threw her through the motel window.

Women's match didn't offer a lot; Kelly giving a Molly go Round was a fun surprise and Maria actually taking some shots to the ribs is commendable; but it looked terrible.

Hell in a Cell used to mean something; and it still doesn't. This match was an excellent thread, with Michaels even trying his hardest not to be hammy here despite his most natural instincts. The violent chair shots, both men being beaten to a pulp with chairs, it's a level, restrained in a PG environment we haven't gotten in a while, esp. in this promotion so it means more. There's lot of echoes in this too, Trips being finished just as Michaels was two years prior, the nearfalls always mean more with Taker, he has more than a title resting on them and no one in this business will ever get to kick out of a superkick and pedigree back to back again. They succeeded in my mind, much more than last year, as a full complete match with a better story even though the Cell wasn't even a thought in this.

The Team match actually was exactly asit should have been. A match like this can't go 30 seconds like the Corre bout from last year; everyone needs a moment, a move, a few sequences to solidfy this as an actual tag bout. The Ziggler bump will be remembered but that's probably about it.

My favorite match of the night and the one I was most looking forward to; you could tell as it was happening, they wanted this to be their Steamboat-Savage. It was stuck in a bad spot, right before the main event there's usually a buffer that lets people deflate for a moment but not here. Punk was driving to Concussion City during the build and took some nasty bumps on his head. I thought everything was worked really tight and the nearfalls were my favorite of the night; this was a match that needed them to give itself an identity and stand out. It did that and I"m always up for a submission ending.

Once in a Lifetime, End of an Era, all these buzzwords that people won't remember in two years when talking about the match; as this was going, where I was sitting, it didn't feel like the biggest match of all time and I knew going in they wouldn't work weak but the build and story would be elementary and basic with no surprises; and it was. Cena had the one impressive spot of catching gigantic Rock off the top buckle and rolling through to an FU. The two eras, Attitude and PG met here and I think it showed a complete difference in how to work a match. I've loved Cena's main events overall much more than Rocks in past Mania's, but I don't think Rock can work those matches to a success; because those matches are about the work and Rock wasn't able to show his usual charisma. It was a good match but only went 30 mins because of who was in it; anyone else doing this style is not even going 20. Rock goes over, people were surprised but he's the Rock; if that's what he wanted, that's what we saw.

I feel a sense of accomplishment finishing all these reviews; hope they've shed light on the biggest shows of all time through different eyes, not just historys and WWE mark columns but I have given my honest opinion of every single match and show and stand by them. See you next year in Jersey

Monday, April 2, 2012

CM Punk vs. Mark Henry

CM Punk vs. Mark Henry - WWE Championship Match - WWE Raw 4/2/12 - 6

Hot off the heels of a lackluster WrestleMania two of the company's biggest in-ring assets put on an stupefying show. I was digging the hell out of this -- got a nice chunk of time and was just a cracking little match. Punk's beat Cena and Jericho clean but his resiliency was tested to its limits against Henry who looked a scary monster overpowering Punk, throttling him, and just talking trash and smacking him around while yelling epithets. Punk took an astonishing bump to the floor at one point. Punk's flying elbow is usually more Lanny or Angelo than Randy but came off with impact here. Crowd was going ballistic. Thought my evening topped out after filet mignon and coconut shrimp at Outback Steakhouse but this was a fine chaser. With a more conclusive finish I could see rating this above the previous night's Undertaker/Triple H - Hell in a Cell by a fairly wide margin. Post-match hijinks with Jericho dousing Punk in whiskey was a hoot too.

WrestleMania 27

I've finally done it, i started this project over 3 years ago and now i'm caught up....for a few weeks until Mania 28 hits us like a Rock promotional video.

Kerri Hilson (anyone else clueless on her?) sings the National Anthem; it's good but completely forgettable.

and yes, we had a host this year; a first, unless you count Bob Uecker. Rock is sweating Snoop going through airport security and promos for over 7 minutes; guess he felt like he had to for the exorbitant paycheck he got.

I'm over 20 minutes into the show and haven't seen a lockup yet.

Michael Cole just said "this is a showcase of pop culture." And we thought he couldn't top himself for stupidest thing ever uttered by a wrestling announcer.

1) Edge v. Alberto Del Rio- 5
First comment: I like all parties involved here, Del Rio, Ricardo and Brodus Clay (complete with t shirt with his name on it) my boy Jay Reso and actually Edge would be last on that list. This was good in that brief condensed 10 min. match that at 15 would have been significantly better (and probably outshined a lot of the main events) All the seconds were spot on here; liked that Christian got a hurty bump in there. Edge took a lot of emotionless bumps and didn't offer much offensively. The counters and the arm bar work was really good though and i wanted to see more of it.

2) Cody Rhodes v. Rey Mysterio - 5
Fun match with them cutting a pace near the end I don't think anyone else will match. I know Cody's daddy wasn't a great puncher but couldnt' he have at least asked Uncle Fred? They're weak sauce; speaking of sauce, Rey has a belly full of soy and egg rolls as that mid section is stretching his bomb ass Captain America outfit. But he can still bust a moonsault that would make Scorpio cough on his spliff. Middle section gets boring but the instinctual fast paced last few minutes is worth the wait.

3) The Corre (pause for laughter) v. Big Show/ Kane/ Santino Marella/ Kofi Kingston - 1
Has any, and I seriously mean this, any group looked so shitty on a bigger stage? This barely cracked 60 seconds but everyone got off 1 spot, yay, cash those checks boys but don't spend them all in place.

Rock has some funny moments with mae Young, Eve and Stone Cold, but no we won't remember them.

4) CM Punk v. Randy Orton - 5
The finish of a match is how the movie ends; it's the last chapter in the book; the last song of the opera. We all joked and jived about this one last year, and it's even the setup to it that makes it worse. But the bulk of this is quite good; Orton is still one of my favorite people to watch; it looks like before a really awesome superplex, he pauses and looks out to the crowd, his own moment, biting the ringpost while in a figure four, all the little things Orton excels at. Punk is so ROH here i'm surprised more people didn't appreciate what he gave in this one; their No Holds Barred match the next month would smash this though.

Pretty good HOF Class this year too

5)Jerry Lawler v. Michael Cole- 0
You could have accomplished this in probably 6-7 mins. but it took nearly 30 with ring entrances, cheesing, stunners and beer and mystery GMs that went nowhere. A complete travesty in it's own right.

6) HHH v. Undertaker - 5
This is a very unique match; it all hinges on these two guys, their long careers in WWE, and that people will pop for everything they do, mostly. This match really has no beginning, no middle, just one long ending filled with spots and no transitions or flow. That being said, the story part they have down pat and I think that part of their game being shown here helps both men's legacies as masters of their art in a good way. But this was nothing more than a midcard ROH match in their peak of 2005 just on a much grander scale with much larger paychecks.

7) John Morrison/ Trish Stratus/ Snooki v. Dolph Ziggler/ LayCool- 2
This as a fun way to spend 360 seconds, as much as anything could be. I for one like Mccool and her and Trish seem to be the only ones needed to work; Ziggler is completely wasted he's just a bump to this match. Fast paced though and didn't drag

8) John Cena v. The Miz- 3
This Mania made a shit ton of money; for the novelty of the Rock being there. But he completely overshadows this match. No one is into the slow build they try to start and it's really hard to get into Cena taking all this punishment when he looks like he beat guys like Miz up in high school. The original finish is so poorly conceived it's hard to believe there is a recession going on with a lot of people and yet whoever the WWE writers are are living a comfortable life. The restart is quick and exactly what the fans were waiting for, but this is a complete failure of a match.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Jimmy Graffiti

While everyone else is gearing up for their WrestleMania parties today I'm watching this!

Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Jimmy Graffiti - WCW Monday Nitro 10/28/96 - 4

Graffiti is "Gigolo" Jimmy Del Rey from SMW/WWF and looks like the long lost third member of Public Enemy here in an oversized black/yellow hockey jersey and cruddy jean shorts. For four minutes this is about as fun as adolescent truth or dare (guess that's not a universal truth but I sure had some awesome T&D moments!). Mysterio's acrobatics are just so fluid and smooth and wonderful. Jimmy takes some good bumps and does a nice running somersault off of the apron on the floor. Finish was the West Coast Pop but not the compact version we came to know and love -- more of a flying headscissors version. Really fun stuff.