Tuesday, November 2, 2021

ROH Defy or Deny

Here's a piece I abandoned a few weeks ago before I moved but wanted to share it in its inchoate state.

ROH Defy or Deny 3/18/11
Plymouth, MA

We didn't land on Plymouth, Mass -- it landed on .. oh, wrong oratory. Picked the most milquetoast ROH show from 2011 I could find. Just a mood.

Show starts with a Mike Bennett promo in-ring. Eventually everybody soured on his shtick but he had some charisma here, adds a little flourish of personality to the oft times flavorless ROH house show. Steve Corino comes out looking like a sixth grade kids' football coach, wearing ADIDAS track pants and gray cutoff shirt, his flabby arms looking like Gabourey Sidibe's dunked in non-dairy creamer. This shouldn’t have gone 12 minutes.

1. Mark Briscoe vs. Kyle O'Reilly - 4

Mark jerking curtain while his brother headlines. Kyle's gear looks like '93 Minnesota Timberwolves stuff. Maybe he's a Marlon Maxey fan. Nice missile dropkick off the apron by O'Reilly. Story of match was Briscoe "big brothering" him. This was almost 11 years ago now -- not the same KOR that regularly main events NXT shows nowadays, and Briscoe, who at 17 was wrestling at CZW shows, could now make the new young boy earn his keep. Finish was a powerbomb followed by the Froggy 'Bo.

2. All Night Express vs. Grizzly Redwood and Steve Corino - 5

Mix of shticks here. Seem to recall after a few years together ANX exceeded expectations and got pretty good. Alert the authorities: Corino threw a dropkick. Nice sequence of combo offense by ANX looked like a Streets of Rage combo melee. This almost had a bit of Southern tag charm which helped calcify it as fresh compared to the staid environment many Ring or Honor shows I attended often had.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

CZW Eye For An Eye

1. Pre-Show: Tyler Veritas vs. ??? vs. ??? vs. Erik C. Jones vs. Ernest Montgomery O'Keefe vs. Jimmy Starz vs. Justin Andrews vs. Sexy Steve (Junior Heavyweight Scramble) - 2
2. Jon Dahmer vs. Toby Klein - 4

Opener had a lot of emotionless automaton action with the scattershot group wandering from spot to spot sans any emotion or belief. It was like they were being controlled from offsite like mechs. Suplex bump on the floor less than 60 seconds into the bout tells you all you need to know about the layout of this tepid trainwreck. I don't get Dahmer. He shares a name with an obese murderer but is dressed up looking like a fatter version of Jamie Kennedy in Malibu's Most Wanted here? I wrongly thought I was going to have snark on Klein a noted deathmatch worker doing a straight up match but I was actually pretty charmed by his performance. He tried a few ambitious things like a springboard back elbow and a 180 splash off the top that weren't flawlessly executed but that sort of made them .. better? Like if your hillbilly pockmarked uncle tried out CMLL spots inside his trailer home. Dahmer dropped Toby on his head a couple times nastily including the match-ending "Murder Plex".

3. Greg Excellent vs. Devon Moore - 3
4. Drew Blood vs. Pinkie Sanchez - 5

Devon Moore always looked like the guy smoking cigarettes behind the grocery store. I have a disconnect with Excellent. I get that his appeal is he's supposed to be an everyman, as if a slob got up off their Doritos crumbs' covered sofa, and stepped into the ring -- but watching him wallow in a faded t-shirt he likely woke up in makes buying into his matches facile to me. Not a lot to say, main takeaway was Moore kicked out of all of Greg's big stuff, but the stakes were low. So back in college I randomly reviewed a previous Blood vs. Sanchez bout. Since that past bout was from CZW's 10th Anniversary show I assumed they were probably given more leeway then, but I was wrong, as here they went "Full Tilt Boogie" to borrow a phrase from Terry Bollea. While this had some slop, they righted the balance by laying a lot of their offense in. They botched the same spot they blundered in their other match where Pinkie gets whipped into the guardrail but hops up, balances, then leaps back off to attempt a hurricanrana. Last act of the match is full of "holy shit!" moments: my favorites were Sanchez getting launched by a German suplex onto an opened chair in the corner of the ring, a truly horrendous running version of Takao Omori's Axe Guillotine Driver off the apron by Pinkie onto four opened chairs on the cement floor, and finally, a running powerslam/Michinoku Driver hybrid by Blood directly into the steel ring post outside the ring. I really wanted to gift this a "6" but the ending with a "fan" leading to a distraction finish took some of the wind out of my sails.

5. Egotistico Fantastico vs. Ryan McBride - 3

Break out the Carhartt gear because these boys are going to work! 😂 So this wasn't my cup of ginseng. McBride I struggle to see the appeal of. Guy in gear with a clipart cloverleaf, bad tribal tattoos that reek of casino MMA undercard, and working highspot style sans sizzle. Only spot of note was McBride splattering a chair outside the ring after a running somersault that Fantastico dodged. Appears match was legit ended prematurely after Ryan took a hellacious bump into the ringpost shoulder-first and was injured. Guess he should have swung by Mandalore on the way to the ECW Arena to get some beskar steel. Had a chuckle when they handed him the mic as he winced and shuffled to the back with the aid of staff and as he went to speak the DVD cut to the next segment. 

6. BLK-OUT (Sabian and Ruckus) vs. Alex Colon and LJ Cruz - 3
7. Team AnDrew (Andy Sumner and Drew Gulak) vs. The Best Around (Bruce Maxwell and TJ Cannon) - 2

Next match starts with the announcement Ruckus took a better payday to wrestle elsewhere that night then 3 seconds later he walks out anyway to zero reaction as Robby Mireno chortles they swerved everybody. LJ Cruz comes out solo and gets worked over for a few min. until Alex Colon joins him. Sabian points out to the cameraman a guy in the front row looks like Eddie Kingston. Crazy dumb spot where Cruz does this massive double ax-handle off the top to the floor but Sabian was already lying down so LJ busts his own knees falling from 9 ft. up onto concrete. Colon seemingly stole Super Nova's old trash bag Venom trunks. Poor execution on the finish where Sabian seemingly could have broken up the pinfall but fails to. It was supposed to be scripted discord but didn't translate. I've seen more than a half-dozen TBA matches before and they instantly vanish from memory due to the most generic of indy-chaining together-spots work and bland personalities. The pink and black vinyl ring gear, etc. it's all just dreadfully dull. Gulak is quietly one of the very best wrestlers in the WWE currently, regularly turning in work on WWE Main Event that blows whatever stupid shit The Fiend is doing this month out of the water. This match wasn't much though and at this point, on the day after my second Covid-19 vaccination, my headache and fatigue put me in a weird somnambulist state which this match's non-finish (thanks to an interruption and Gage's grotty ego) didn't help alleviate.

8. Nick Gage vs. Deranged - 2
9. The Switchblade Conspiracy (Sami Callihan and Jon Moxley) vs. Brain Damage and Drake Younger - 5

Was still in a mental fog during the Gage bout but man I really didn't find much at all to like therein. Recently saw a Nick Gage vs. Necro Butcher gem from an IWA M-S "King of the Death Match" show in-front of maybe 22 people. This was more of an angle than a match. Humpty Dumpty Deranged took the requisite disgusting bumps like being press-slammed off the top down onto several chairs below on the floor, and we had some broken panes of glass, large barbed wire wrapped boards, etc. but the pacing or flow was non-existent and lead to a real wet fart of a finale where Gage sprayed Deranged with lighter fluid looking like a kid with a squirt gun at East View swimming pool in Hamilton, OH circa 1991 forcing him to quit instead of being barbecued. Also had random asides like Nate Hatred coming out and putting meth head Billy Gram through a table at ringside that only further denigrated it. Main event begins spilling over from the last segment. Jon and Sami came from right here in my hometown Cincinnati and I got the opportunity to watch and meet them both at local shows. This was a period where they were spreading their wings and gaining notoriety and buzz. They clearly elevate the material in a big, big way here. CZW seemed very insular for a long time and these maniacs were injecting some much needed spice. Moxley especially shined here wearing the proverbial crimson mask. He let Damage really go to town on his head with a fork. Sami is great at unhinged and Younger was as reliable a hand as the co. had at that point. There's a few garbage spots for the fan with bloodlust but this really stands out as a time capsule for these guys' explosion in the scene. Callihan cuts an exquisite promo post-match running down CZW and its locker room of failed backyard wrestlers (his words) and uncouth reprobates (mine). Trent Acid comes out and drills Sami -- I later at an HWA event asked Callihan specifically about working Acid but I'll keep the contents of that conversation private. Upon researching it -- looks like Acid's last match was at JCW's Oddball Bonanza, a card that featured a handicap match where Isis went over Frick, Frack, and Fuck,  just three months before his untimely death. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

First-ever WCW Saturday Night Match

I wanted to look at the inaugural broadcast, the premiere, the very first episode of WCW Saturday Night. Upon reflection arguably my favorite televised wrestling show? As a kid Saturdays at 6:05PM I was in-front of the TV. This show was always appointment viewing. I'd be in the backyard shooting hoops or with friends recreating Jean-Claude Van Damme's Cyborg and rush straight in. Fun open where it looks like Jesse Ventura hacks into TBS' live feed and barks at the production crew to "put on that new music I brought in!"

Flyin' Brian (c) vs. Brad Armstrong - World Light Heavyweight Championship Match - 4

Armstrong's American flag jacket calls to mind flea market goers buying swords and venison. Don't know if it's mental whiplash due to there not being live crowds at wrestling shows this past year but those in attendance at this taping seemed incredibly and enthusiastically loud. Bungle where Pillman got whipped into the turnbuckle and attempted to scale it to leap off but lost his footing. Ross is great talking about Brad's 10 pound weight advantage and lending morsel of credibility. Lots of sitting in holds by Armstrong without much visible torque. Nice spot where Armstrong ascended to top buckle and Pillman leapt up to him with a dropkick to send Brad tumbling off. Highlight sees Pillman go for a humungous dropkick off the top rope and Armstrong counter it with a standing dropkick of his own. Good nearfall off Armstrong reversing the momentum of a top rope crossbody by Pillman. Pillman scales the buckles yet again for massive air time on a big splash but Armstrong got his knees up. I bit on a few of the false finishes which made the immediacy of the Pillman springboard clothesline that ended things come off pretty good. Felt sudden and less orchestrated. Interesting to see what framed a "Light Heavyweight" bout back then. Tons of top rope offense.

For posterity, elsewhere on this halcyon broadcast was the facial hair fractals of DDP & Cactus Jack vs. the Freebirds, a Rick Rude squash, and the first-ever WCWSN main event of Z-Man versus "Stunning" Steve Austin in a 2 out of 3 Falls bout.