Monday, December 26, 2016

Tempura Boyz vs. War Machine

The Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu) vs. War Machine (Ray Rowe & Hanson) - ROH Road to Final Battle 10/21/16 - 4

Little house show action from the War Memorial Auditorium in sunny Fort Lauderdale. Tempura gets the party started with some big dives out to the floor. Shortly after Sho and Yohei get thrown like darts directly into each other. That’s a bar game worth workshopping. Sho is the beefier of the two which certainly doesn’t hurt when going toe-to-toe with War Machine. Komatsu could be the next Milano Collection A.T. I didn’t know Rowe was a member of CM Punk’s S.E.S. but the three X’s on the back of his trunks tells another tale. Hanson does a series of about a dozen charging clotheslines in the corners to a big crowd pop and I liked Tanaka’s whipping of his hair for a more visually arresting sell. When Syxx did a Bronco Buster it was noxious not painful-looking but when Hanson jumps dong-first at an opponent it’s a scary scenario. I’ve seen about ten Tempura Boyz matches so far inc. TV and VOD fare and a sampling of their Mexico run but this is the best match of theirs I’ve came across so far and a lot of that is due to War Machine (both for their boss offense but also for letting the Boyz dish out some their own).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ray Traylor vs. Konnan

Ray Traylor vs. Konnan - (WCW Monday Nitro 12/9/97) - 4

This is Traylor pre-nWo wearing an ash gray button-up shirt only partially buttoned (‘natch). Ray connects with some great uppercut shots in the corner. This guy must be for the proletariat cause he’s all about the work. A brawl outside the ring goes poorly for Konnan until he launches Ray into the ringpost and stomps him like a cockroach on grandma’s vinyl kitchen floor. Weird spot that Tenay calls an “inverted DDT” on commentary. I guess? I’ll say Traylor makes being whipped into the buckles look legitimately painful not just a stock transitional spot. The lights go out in the arena. Flashbulbs illuminate millisecond glimpses of something as violating as a Srdjan Spasojevic film. When the lights return Konnan is unconscious and Traylor gets the less than reputable win in an opener of a hot show at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo that registered a 4.3 TV rating (beating a paltry 3 by a Raw show featuring Marc Mero versus Salvatore Sincere in the semi-main event).

Monday, December 5, 2016

ECW Hardcore TV (Ep. #1) 4/6/93

1. Super Destroyers vs. Hell Riders -1
2. Sal Bellomo vs. Tommy Cairo - 2
3. Tony Stetson vs. Rockin’ Rebel - 3
4. Jimmy Snuka vs. Larry Winters - 3
5. Sal Bellomo vs. Ernesto Benefico - 0

Origins of the most influential wrestling TV show of all-time are a middle school gymnasium. Three-man booth on commentary (feat. Terry Funk) and everyone is talking over each other. Destroyers two chunky guys in black sweatpants, tank tops, and gimp masks. Riders haven’t rode the exercise bike as the path they cruise down leads to the Jack in the Box drive-thru and dialysis clinic. Goofy Sandman music video with cheesy surf rock and dissolves. Cairo yells over the house mic “Sports Channel and ECW is a winning tag team combination!” Kicking of the TV Title tournament is Sal seconded by Cosmic Commander a truly abhorrent Grand Wizard knockoff. Bellomo’s gladiatorial gear probably fetch a crisp $20 on eBay today if he needs the loot. Call Cairo BP cause he’s gassed. Looks like the original tape masters were left in a damp cellar as weird colorful glitches abound like a Stan Brakhage experimental film with a message on the bottom from the WWE Network that it’s preserved to the best possible condition. Sal throws a decent headbutt. Johnny Hotbody interference on the behalf of Sal goes sour and Bellomo gets counted out escaping ringside in shame.

Sorry, Bret — Stetson is the real “Hitman” to me. Rebel officially has the best mullet in wrestling of all-time. Rebel’s trunks are so ’90’s. Like a neon teal with dozens of purple and yellow prisms. Looks like the wrapper of a Bic Wavelengths ink pen circa ’95. Stetson with a very Tito Santana-like flying forearm. Shockingly “Hitman” executed a leg drop off of the top was about a .7 on the Alabama Jam scale. Rebel puts his feet on the ropes to get the cheap victory. Heard the other day Snuka has six months left to live. I'm sure they've already got a room booked for him in hell for what he did to Nancy Argentino. Bad botch where Snuka backdrops Larry then topples over backward onto him. Nice crisp corner chop by Jimmy. The #1 seed secures the victory with his patented Superfly Splash. Bellomo is back at ringside jawing with the commentary crew. Guess he wanted to get his heat back, brother! Squashes Ernesto in about 12 seconds with a bodyslam. So, the first-ever episode of ECW, eh? During the ending credits there’s a plug for a “Dream Match” contest where you can mail off a letter to HQ with the match of your dreams — I’m guessing Glenn Osbourne vs. Johnny Hotbody was really riling up fans’ imaginations. Kudos to the Network for the instantaneous history though. Besides this I also watched an episode of NWA World Championship Wrestling from June ’89 this week and I’m loving the ability to do deep dives into the past. Now if they’d just get the complete run of WCW Thunder up there I’d be thrilled.

Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Matches on TNA One Night Only: Rivals 2

select matches from TNA One Night Only: Rivals 2

8. The Dollhouse (Marti Bell and Jade) vs. The Beautiful People (Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky) - 2

Action starts with all four women in the ring at once. Marti and Jade are seconded by a woman that appears to be wearing one of Ringo Starr's jackets. Rayne leg lariat looked like Daniel Stern slipping on ice in Home Alone. I wonder if Gregory Helms will attend Velvet's inevitable HoF induction ceremony. This Rivals pay-per-view has been one slipshod production and the "rivalry" theme has been given as much thought as Regal determining which flight attendant to piss on. Shortest match on the show thus far. Jade looked the best of the bunch but this was pretty hollow.

9. Jesse Godderz vs. Robbie E - 3

There was some pose-off pre-match that I suffered through. Robbie E probably regretting quitting his gym teacher job. Robbie gets a plancha to the floor in then doubling down on the dangerous dives does a huge crossbody off the top inside the ring but hits nothing but canvas. Collectively this pair is known as The BroMans so maybe this "rivalry" is a friendly competitive one a la the Davey Richards versus Eddie Edwards opener which was a 14 min. snoozefest. The crowd in Bethlehem, PA is rolling out sleeping bags like it's nap time in pre-school. Godderz drives Robbie into the mat with an awkward powerbomb. I watched all 163 min. of American Honey at the theater the other night and barely blinked an eye but sitting through 6 min. of this match felt like an endurance test. Jesse grabs the tights for the cheap win.

10. Mr. Anderson vs. Bram - No Disqualification Match - 4

This aired on 2/5/16 and now 8 months later at least 7 performers from this show aren't on TNA programming anymore including main event focal point Mr. Anderson. Bram was formerly married to WWE superstar Charlotte but domestic battery and false imprisonment charges loomed large and that marriage sizzled out like Ashley Fliehr's brother David's in-ring career. By the way, if you've got a Roku, on the Fight Network channel there's a free preview with lots of videos to watch free of charge including something like 30 or more of these TNA pay-per-views. Pre-match locker room promo with Anderson sees him discussing maybe he should just go home and be a dad. Sick as a dog I attended a TNA iMPACT taping in Cincinnati few years back and the major angle running through the taping was the forthcoming birth of Anderson's twins. Never has domesticity neutered a performer as it did Anderson. We get it -- you've got kids! Now fight! Bram wraps a steel chair around Anderson's head then chucks him into the ring post in an actually really brutal looking spot. Both guys working in almost identical gear: black boots, black knee and elbow pads, and tiny black trunks with green designs. Somewhere in an airpot right now Randy Orton watches this on his phone and laughs at how he ruined Anderson's career. Hilariously dumb spot where Anderson sits up two opened chairs only to get pushed off the top onto them seconds later except he'd pushed them back too far so has to struggle in mid-air to make the ersatz landing. Anderson wins with a Mic Check onto a table that was partially standing but at least Bram dove headfirst into the bump.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bellomo, Smith, Sandman vs. Funk & Bad Breed

Sal Bellomo, J.T. Smith, & The Sandman vs. Terry Funk & Bad Breed (Ian & Axl Rotten) - ECW Hardcore TV 12/21/93 - N/A

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate staying up with current wrestling & MMA from across the globe, watching 700+ movies per year, and running RtW I’ve found myself digging into all the 1993 ECW stuff off of the WWE Network. Look at the names above. Closely. This was your main event just days before Christmas night 1993. Thoughts of glazed ham, stockings, blinking lights, and opening up your new WWF LJN figures raced through your head. Bellomo’s gladiatorial attire a nice contrast to Axl’s torn heavy metal shirt. The lights are flickering on and off in the arena. This transpired throughout the show and I assumed it was legitimate initially due to the bingo hall not being a state of the art production facility. But now it’s pure gimmickry. Weird spotlights adorn the men in the throes of grappling in a mostly pitch black arena as if Commissioner Gordon gave up the Bat-Signal in lieu of a halogen. All kinds of guys appear at ringside to enter the fray and its bedlam as chairs and tables are getting tossed like cornhole bags at a family picnic. Terry Funk is running the ropes in a mostly empty ring as if stuck on a loop.  Rockin’ Rebel is in the ring in stonewashed jeans with a BFG-sized mullet and discount rack Reeboks. Maybe Spielberg will get him a job on his next flick. The show ends in total pandemonium like the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Miz vs. Zack Ryder

The Miz vs. Zack Ryder - WWE Superstars 3/11/16 - 4

Ryder growing out the beard. His recent series with Stardust over on the “C” shows has been applaudable. He still didn’t sniff my ballot over on the PWO Greatest Wrestler Ever poll. On second thought guessing he didn’t even earn a nomination. Miz has been more handy lately helping get guys like Styles and Zayn introduced en masse to the bigger mainstream audiences. Still I think I’d rather be stuck in a cellar with a psychotic John Goodman than the Miz. I like that Miz takes time to rile the crowd although his stomps shortly after were Eli Drake bad. I shouldn’t be placing anything in my queue ahead of the near two-hour Trevor Lee match out of CWF Mid-Atlantic that everyone is going bonkers over but I like to stay current. Zack hits the “ElBro” drop which I sort of dug it’s like a tucked-in elbow off the top a la Eric Young but in mid-air before the tuck he taps his kneepads. It’s superfluous like some NBA Slam Dunk completion bullshit but I’m game for adding new twists on old staples. Miz gets the clean victory with the Skull-Crushing Finale in a short but spirited affair. Now I’m just waiting for Miz to rip his wife’s French TKO reverse roundhouse kick.

Friday, March 4, 2016

RIP Hayabusa

Woke up to news of Hayabusa’s passing. Since his career-ending injury he’d been largely wheelchair-bound until last year surfacing at a show and being able to rise to his feet amongst his peers. Growing up my brother was never more than a fringe fan but Hayabusa captured his imagination with his colorful characterization and fluid athleticism. He ordered both the black and red versions of Hayabusa’s mask and we’d take to doing springboard moonsaults in our backyard off a rickety chain-link fence onto a mattress we used for drafting our own $15,000 Body Slam Challenges. We trekked to ECW Heat Wave ’98 to see his own major US appearance live.

Hayabusa vs. Sabu - FMW 8/28/94 - N/A

Unfortunately this is clipped so I can’t fairly rate it. I believe the date is accurate. The thrust and precision of Hayabusa’s spinning kicks would leave even high-level MMA fighters in awe. Maybe it would end Anthony Pettis’ losing streak if he started wearing Hayabusa’s mask. These guys were compared to each other constantly and yes they’ve both got lots of bodily scars and baggy parachute pants but Hayabusa is such a smoother more seamless practitioner of the pro wres arts. Kudos to Sabu for innovative spots seen here somersaulting over a hunched referee out to the floor and later doing a crossbody out onto Hayabusa who was sitting in a chair. A 450° to the floor through a table is dodged by Hayabusa leaving Sabu to crash into the splintered furniture. It’s a move you rarely see Sabu do, here paying homage to the combatant he was at war with, and it’s the very same move (dubbed the Firebird Splash) Hayabusa later uses to secure that night’s victory. RIP Hayabusa. I’m sure he’s in the heavens now performing Falcon Arrows on the other legends.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Jack vs. Rhino

ECW World Television Championship Match: Rhino (c) vs. New Jack - ECW November to Remember 2000 - 4

When first logging into the WWE Network with the veritable treasure trove of material to sift through one area I wanted to revisit was ECW pay-per-view hidden gems. Now I saw all of the ECW PPVs live back then but most if not all I only saw during their initial broadcast and not since. Browsing the listings on Wikipedia there's a dozen Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck vs. Full Blooded Italians bouts and other familiar pairings done to death but I wanted something I'd completely forgotten happened. Boom. Rhino versus New Jack? I had no clue that transpired. And via tech or alien plot I could watch this match on my cellular phone on the city bus.

Now, the score is pretty low, and it wasn't easy as I did like this but it's woefully short and sort of a mess but definitely a guilty pleasure for its brief duration but objectively I couldn't grade it higher. First bad mark is right out the gates as Rhino looks dumb leaning forward arching his neck out like a giraffe at the zoo just waiting for New Jack to slam an object against his cranium. What I dug so much is this is mostly just Rhino feeding himself to New Jack's weapon-based offense but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the better overlooked Rhino performances as does great as a base for Jack's garbage. Here Rhino is leaning into shots, bumping and writhing, and makes a great anguished facial after having a cane snapped over his back. New Jack is notably not so good at eating shots as his version of selling is akin to a drunken elderly man getting mugged outside a dive bar, stumbling and staring off into the distance. I also disliked the finish as it was supposed to be explosive but wasn't much. They claimed Rhino hit the "Gore" through a table that was leaning against the turnbuckles but in reality it appeared more like Rhino just carried Jack a few feet and dropped him like a gym bag full of Methandrostenolone.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Joey Janela vs. Lio Rush

This is from the recent CZW Cage of Death XVII. There was a patently awkward military tribute to start the show with a bunch of legit servicemen mid-ring while this terrible mall metal Star Spangled Banner rendition played. Never been a bigger endorsement to go AWOL.

1. CZW Wired Championship Match: Joey Janela (c) vs. Lio Rush - 6

Lio looks like Shameik Moore cosplaying as Manik. Joey has a bad Brian Kendrick hair-bun and is trying hard to make weird faces gesticulating and writhing like someone having a bad mushroom trip. I hope Janela gets a neck brace for Christmas as he took a hellacious bump on a reverse hurricanrana on the ring apron. Joey's moonsault off the top to the floor looked more like someone escaping a burning building. You know that spot where a guy on the apron acts like he's going to suplex his opponent who's in the ring out to the floor? But it never happens and gets reversed? Well, here it happened, but not only did Rush take Janella over the top and out wildly to the floor in mid-air it seemed he (whether intentional or not it's difficult to say) transitioned it into a Michinoku Driver but didn't have a proper landing assignment by the TSA running out of concrete to hurtle themselves towards and crashing into the steel guardrail. They both narrowly make it in before the 10 count to a legit huge crowd pop. Something I've never seen happen before: Janela plants Lio in a chair then scales to the top and does a Swanton, Lio nimbly dodges, and Janela lands on the chair completely bending the back of it in half! Now it's a stool! Speaking of stool I think Devon Moore left a specimen in someone's ratty gym bag in the back. Post-match Rush's Cheshire Cat grin make-up is more worn than one of my old back issues of Cahiers du CinĂ©ma.