Starting to watch a lot of wrestling again, and I whipped up a couple of reviews.
Chigusa Nagayo vs. Devil Masami (8/22/85)
This was pro-wrestling in its purest form. It wasn't about good vs. evil or trying to avoid or hit a specific move. It was about two competitors trying to win a wrestling match. And both Chigusa and Devil really, really wanted to win. Everything was fought for, nothing was given. Every early mat-hold was contested. Chigusa got the short end of the stick early on, but she never stopped trying to fight her way out of Devil's holds. And why wouldn't she, the holds hurt right? They sure looked like it, as both girls did a phenomenal job putting over the damage of the early mat-work, with excellent facials and clear body language. In some matches, the early mat-work seems to be given a passing thought. Not here, where it seemed like life or death from the very start.
The struggle and competitiveness extended itself to the rest of the match. Suplexes and slams were fought for and against. It makes sense, but it also made for great timing, which is something missing from a lot of matches today. It makes such a large difference when the wrestlers fight for moves instead of just hitting them right away. It builds anticipation for the move and makes them that much more important. Maybe the best example of this was Chigusa's late match cross-armed german suplex. Chigusa slowly hooked it in while Devil frantically tried to struggle out of it, to no avail. When the move was hit, it made for an excellent near fall, one that the crowd bought into as the finish. Most all of the big moves in this match were timed and fought for well, which added to the drama, and put the moves over to the audience.
While the main reasons this match was so great are covered above, there were a few other things that stand out, good and bad. Devil's absolutely devastating punches for one. These were some big league knocks Chigusa was taking, I can't remember the last women's match I'd seen with such great punches. The selling was just fantastic, most notably the late match selling which put over how much sheer energy each girl had used up. This was one of the big reasons the match came off as epic as it did. On the negative side, I wasn't crazy about the late match structure and transitioning, as it seemed like a few of the transitions came at perplexing moments. For example, a couple times it seemed like Chigusa or Devil would get hit with a move for a near fall, and then almost right after, transition into control without any reversal or comeback made. It didn't happen often, but was just a small annoyance late in the match.
Finally, the double KO finish made sense, because the match had really been quite even. Devil got the better of it early, Chigusa eventually fought back to somewhat equal footing, and they each took their fair share of bombs late in the match. Some things might have been done to add a little more drama to the finish, because I don't feel it got over as well as it could have, but it was definitely the right finish for the match.
I really liked this match. The "competitive" style of pro-wrestling is absolutely my favourite style. I'll take two wrestlers going at it in a rough, hard-fought wrestling match over a more theatrical approach any day. This match was basically that, and in that context, was performed almost as well as I could expect. ****1/2
Homicide vs. Bryan Danielson (6/3/06)
This was the Homicide show, as he really stole the spotlight in the match. Early portions were fairly pedestrian, until they go out to the floor and brawl around a bit, while Danielson starts going to town on Homicide's shoulder. Homicide really shines in his role as the face, as his selling of the arm is top notch and natural (unlike some other ROH workers whose selling is rather unnatural). Things eventually build to both men missing moves from the top, which really made things interesting for the last few minutes, as it was back and forth after that. Danielson is working his heel schtick pretty good, even in the later portions of the match. For example when both guys are slugging each other and really getting the crowd going, Danielson goes for the eyes as he's losing the striking match, which got a great reaction due to the timing.
Unfortunately, Danielson's timing on some of his late match moves isn't strong, as he blows off some previous offense and goes through a dragon suplex like nothing, without bothering to milk it for heat or dramatic effect. Best near-fall of the match was Homicide's frog splash, which he hit after fighting off a Danielson superplex attempt. A good example of getting a hot near-fall out of a counter. Finish wasn't great, mostly because the Danielson elbows didn't look particularly effective, and a ref stoppage should really warrant some nasty looking punishment. The booking of it was fine, because it kept Homicide strong, it just wasn't performed well. The match was still rather good, and makes me look forward to their rematch. ***1/2
Thought I'd post my ongoing ballots for DVDVR's best of the 1980's projects. This one is for the "Other Japan", meaning all men's promotions outside of AJPW and NJPW (they have their own categories). I've already started, so I've posted the current list. I'll also add short blurbs about the matches when I have something to say about them.
1. Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda (11/10/88 UWF)
2. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (8/13/88 UWF)
3. Akira Maeda vs Gerard Gourdeau (8/13/88 UWF)
4. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (9/11/85 UWF)
5. Nobuhiko Takada vs Bob Backlund (12/22/88 UWF)
6. Yoji Anjoh vs Masakatsu Funaki (6/14/89 UWF)
7. Masakatsu Funaki vs Tatsuo Nakano (7/24/89 UWF)
8. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (12/5/84 UWF)
9. Akira Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (8/13/89 UWF)
10. Yoji Anjoh vs Minoru Suzuki (10/25/89 UWF)
11. Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki (5/21/89 UWF)
12. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Yoji Anjoh (8/13/89 UWF)
13. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (5/4/89 UWF)
14. Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda (1/10/89 UWF)
15. Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (10/25/89 UWF)
16. Super Tiger vs Nobuhiko Takada (9/6/85 UWF)
17. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger (9/11/85 UWF)
18. Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki (5/12/88 UWF)
19. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger (7/17/85 UWF)
20. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda (3/2/85 UWF)
21. Super Tiger vs Akira Maeda (9/11/84 UWF)
22. Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/8/85 UWF)
23. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger (12/5/84 UWF)
24. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Nobuhiko Takada (10/22/84 UWF)
25. Atsushi Onita vs Masashi Aoyagi (10/6/89 FMW)
26. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki (1/7/85 UWF)
27. Super Tiger vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (6/24/85 UWF)
28. Yoji Anjoh vs Minoru Suzuki (4/14/89 UWF)
29. Super Tiger vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (9/7/84 UWF)
30. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Masakatsu Funaki (5/4/89 UWF)
31. Nobuhiko Takada vs Marty Jones (2/18/85 UWF)
32. Yuko Miyato vs Minoru Suzuki (5/4/89 UWF)
33. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Osamu Kido (9/6/85 UWF)
34. Akira Maeda vs Super Tiger (1/7/85 UWF)
35. Riki Choshu vs Genichiro Tenryu (2/21/85 JPW)
36. Osamu Kido vs Akira Maeda (7/21/85 UWF)
37. Super Tiger vs Nobuhiko Takada (7/21/85 UWF)
38. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki (8/29/85 UWF)
39. Super Tiger vs Marty Jones (3/2/85 UWF)
40. Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki (2/18/85 UWF)
41. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki (7/24/89 UWF)
42. Super Tiger/Joe Malenko vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido (5/25/85 UWF)
43. Masami Soronaka vs Scott McGhee (12/5/84 UWF)
44. Nobuhiko Takada vs Masami Soronaka (3/2/85 UWF)
45. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Osamu Kido (2/18/85 UWF)
46. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Yoji Anjoh (5/21/89 UWF)
47. Osamu Kido vs Akira Maeda (1/29/85 UWF)
48. Minoru Suzuki vs Johnny Barrett (10/1/89 UWF)
49. Ryuma Go vs Atsushi Onita (4/30/89 Pioneer)
50. Rusher Kimura vs Alexis Smirnoff (11/22/80 IWE)
51. Mighty Inoue/Higo Hamaguchi vs Carlos Plata/El Doberman (11/27/80 IWE)
52. Bob Backlund vs Masakatsu Funaki (5/21/89 UWF)
53. Carlos Plata/El Doberman/Goro Tsurumi vs Higo Hamaguchi/Isamu Teranishi/Mach Hayato (11/22/80 IWE)
54. Super Tiger/Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada/Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/23/84 UWF)
55. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Chris Dolman (11/29/89 UWF)
56. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Hiro Saito/Shunji Takano/Super Strong Machine (11/2/85 JPW)
57. Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda (5/25/85 UWF)
58. Atsushi Onita vs Masashi Aoyagi (6/2/89 Ultimate Karate Ikki Kajiwara Memorial)
59. Shozo Kobayashi & Haruka Eigen vs Mighty Inoue & Isamu Teranishi (6/29/80 IWE)
60. El Gran Hamada vs Perro Aguayo (4/11/84 UWF)
61. Mighty Inoue/Higo Hamaguchi vs Spike Huber/Rocky Brewer (7/25/80 IWE)
62. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Akira Maeda (7/13/85 UWF)
63. Tarzan Goto vs Mitsuhiro Matsunaga (12/4/89 FMW)
64. Higo Hamaguchi/Isamu Teranishi/Mach Hayato vs El Cobarde/Herodes/Goro Tsurumi (3/26/81 IWE)
65. Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki (10/22/84 UWF)
66. Osamu Kido vs Super Tiger (7/8/85 UWF)
67. Kazuo Yamazaki vs Jack Snuka (9/11/84 UWF)
68. Osamu Kido vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/25/85 UWF)
69. Cuban Assassian/Phil Lafleur vs Super Tiger/Osamu Kido (10/22/84 UWF)
70. Carlos Plata/El Doberman vs Mighty Inoue/Mach Hayato (11/1/80 IWE)
71. Super Tiger vs Osamu Kido (8/29/85 UWF)
72. Atsushi Onita/Dick Murdoch vs Masanobu Kurisu/Jos LeDuc (12/4/89 FMW)
73. Jimmy Backlund vs Mitsuteru Tokuda (10/6/89 FMW)
74. Killer Khan vs Stan Hansen (??/??/86 JPW)
75. Pete Roberts/Akira Maeda vs Keith Hayward/Osamu Kido (12/5/84 UWF)
Rusher Kimura vs Alexis Smirnoff (11/22/80 IWE)
- I doubt this will be a popular pick, but I liked it. There was a lot of very, very basic and deliberate matwork, but it wasn't inactive matwork . Sometimes one hold would be held for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, but both guys would constantly try to fight their way out of those holds, and eventually, it turned into a solid and focused leg attack from Smirnoff. I'll take basic and deliberate combined with active and focused any day.
Super Tiger vs Akira Maeda (9/11/84 UWF)
- I loved the back and forth in this match. Great counters and great momentum swings made this really dramatic for me.
Masami Soronaka vs Scott McGhee (12/5/84 UWF)
- This was perhaps the most realistic match on the set so far. A lot of chain/amateur wrestling going on here, with both guys working for holds, and moving along in a realistic and smooth way. For how great of an amateur Kurt Angle was, these two seem to have a better grasp of how to translate that style into the pros.
Pete Roberts/Akira Maeda vs Keith Hayward/Osamu Kido (12/5/84 UWF)
- A complete bore for 25 of the 30 minutes this match went. Lifeless matches aren't a big deal when they're short, but when they're long, it's just painful. Maeda did nothing except kill one of the first exciting sequences of the match. The other three only picked up their game during the last 10 minutes or so. There was little or no direction, focus or action and it lasted 30 minutes.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger (12/5/84 UWF)
- Absolutely brutal. The early portions of the match are peppered with some great mat sequences, with both guys working for holds, transitioning to other holds when those weren't working and just looking really believable in general. Then Tiger starts killing Fujiwara with kicks. For about seven minutes. This was actually good and bad in that it was silly that Tiger was allowed to kick the hell out of Fujiwara while he was down and supposedly taking a ten count. If a ten count is going to be used for knockdowns, the other guy can't be allowed continue beating his opponent after the opponent gets knocked down. It ruins the point and drama of the knockdown. The whole finishing sequence would have been better if Fujiwara was taking the beating on his feet, along with making a few more attempts at a comeback. But I can't complain too much, since this is still early UWF, and the workers were still perfecting the style.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (12/5/84 UWF)
- This was more or less a better version of Tiger vs. Maeda from 9/11/84. A great swing match, where both guys had their moments. Great, fluid matwork early, awesome transitions from one move attempt to the next and a fantastic back and forth stretch run where the outcome was very much in doubt.
Osamu Kido vs Akira Maeda (1/29/85 UWF)
- Maeda actually sold a bit. Early portions were very dull, as Maeda was in control for 95% of the first 10-15 minutes. Things picked up at various points, but the work was never more than good. Ends up being merely decent, which is a lot better than I thought it would be after the first few minutes.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Marty Jones (2/18/85 UWF)
- Good bit of fun here, with some clever reversals, great body language from both guys and a neat mini-story revolving around the headscissors. Not much drama, just a solidly worked, shoot-style wrestling match.
Akira Maeda vs Kazuo Yamazaki (2/18/85 UWF)
- Not such a great first 15 minutes, although it wasn't all bad. Things got really good when Yamazaki was allowed to make his comeback and get in some quality offense. Most of the match was mediocre, but the stretch run made it good enough to get a decent placement on the list.
Riki Choshu vs Genichiro Tenryu (2/21/85 JPW)
- This was one of those matches where they don't waste any time in moving the match along, as Tenryu tried to bomb Choshu out of there right at the start, which made the whole match seem like a stretch run. If the sort of work these guys did was at the end of 15-20 minutes of build, this would be a MOTYC. As it was, it's just merely good, but a lot of fun regardless.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda (5/25/85 UWF)
- This was way too clipped, showing only six of nineteen minutes. What I saw was mostly good, and was enough to put it over some of the weaker matches, but I didn't see enough for this to really get a good placement.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/8/85 UWF)
- The main point here was that Fujiwara is a prick, and that makes Takada angry. Angry Takada decides to kick the crap out of Fujiwara, but that doesn't really stop Fujiwara from being a prick. Short match, but it had a nifty story and it was a ton of fun.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki (8/29/85 UWF)
- There was some nifty matwork here which led to some bizarre positions, along with a couple of neat counters. The match never really got hot, and the ending was somewhat abrupt, but it was still a solid match due to how good the early portions were.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (9/11/85 UWF)
- Tough call between this match or their 12/5/84 match, but I went with this one. The early portions of this match were hit or miss and weren't as strong as their previous encounter, but the stretch run was a lot better. Only problem was that it may have gone on a little too long. In any case, this match seemed like a blueprint for UWF2, as this was worked much like the bigger UWF2 matches, with a lot of knockdowns, comebacks and tons of drama.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs Nobuhiko Takada (8/13/88 UWF)
- Takada was actually heeling it up here, twice kicking Yamazaki while he was down, along with punching him right in the face. The opening 5-10 minutes of this match was full of neat little spots and story sequences like that. Later, Takada started going after Yamazaki's leg but couldn't put him away. One complaint is that the dragon suplex wasn't treated well, as it didn't even get a close near-fall, and it wasn't sold very well either. Finishing sequence was incredible and the actual finish was incredibly hot. Excellent match.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Akira Maeda (11/10/88 UWF)
- Incredibly dramatic and epic match. Both guys were just whaling on each other by the end. Really great story, with Takada getting the worst of it early, and only being one knockdown away from losing, only to reverse the tide and storm back for the win. The finish was just beautiful, as they were drilling each other with their best shots, and it was only a matter of who would go down first. Maeda's selling was fantastic and it was the best performance of his that I've seen.
I watched this match the day after it originally aired, with, based on what I had read, the expecations that it was going to be a stiff, scrappy match. When I didn't get even close to that, I was disappointed, and it probably lessened my opinion of the match more than it should have. So I rewatched it today, with a clean slate and no specific expectations.
The story of the match was vaguely defined (ie. not told all that well). As far as I could surmise, the main story elements were Benoit's comebacks after being controlled for stretches. Neither the "dominant control" portions by Finlay nor the comebacks by Benoit were particularly well done. They were solid enough, there just wasn't that extra something in them that allows for a clearly defined story.
The wrestling style itself was something I'd seen many times in New Japan in the last few years, so I wasn't overly impressed with it. The matwork wasn't scrappy or hotly contested, nor were the strikes particularly stiff. The execution wasn't bad, it just wasn't even close to being good enough to gain any points.
The finishing submission hold was well fought for, but came out of no where. There really wasn't much work to the finish, and that's generally something I look for in a high quality wrestling match. What it all amounted to was a good match, that wasn't any better than what one might see in a really good RAW or Smackdown match. Maybe I've been spoiled by seeing so many recent matches in a similar style that exceeded this match, but I can't in good faith rate this particular match over those, just because the promotion this match took place in doesn't normally feature that wrestling style. ***
I cannot for the life of me see anything special in this match. Even when I was actively looking for story (generally something that shouldn't be necessary), I didn't find a whole lot. Were people just impressed by a different style in a WWE ring? I know it's happened in the past. Anyone who disagrees want to hit me up with a good review of it? (or at least some bullet points)
Some people say you can't compare different wrestling styles. I say nonsense. While different styles require one to look for different things, there are a number of criteria that are constant in all forms of pro-wrestling. Once that is known, all that is left in order to compare the different styles of pro-wrestling is to decide whether one match does a better job in its genre's specific criteria than the next. This is of course all my opinion, in case the reader is one of those who get offended whenever one doesn't add "In my opinion" at the end of every line they type. So here are four fairly general criteria, that I try to apply to every wrestling match I see.
Without selling, pro-wrestling falls apart. Afterall, how is one able to simulate a real fight, when none of the techniques do any damage? This is perhaps the most important aspect to good pro-wrestling matches, yet so many completely ignore it when it's convenient. Great selling creates drama - One wrestler is getting dominated, only to reverse the tables with a big move. Both men are down, who will gain the upper hand? Great selling creates a greater sense of realism - Thrity minutes into the match, both men are slowing down, showing visible signs of fatigue and damage. Selling is the one of the best ways to make a wrestler or move look credible. It also makes the seller look good, if he can come back after being visibly hurt. Selling is important, and it's a shame that so many fans simply disregard the relevance of it, claiming it's "smarky overanalysis" whenever selling issues are mentioned.
Building/Setting Up Spots.
Building and/or setting up spots is an important component of wrestling logic. It doesn't make sense for a wrestler to rattle off a bunch of easily blockable/counterable spots, early in a match. The opponent isn't fatigued/damaged enough to be susceptible, so it doesn't make any sense for him to "allow" himself to be hit with those moves. This is where long-term build comes into play. Keeping spots for later in the match, when the opponent is more fatigued/damage, and thus more susceptible to the move. On the other hand, there's setting up spots in the short term. Using strikes or counters to setup a spot. This is generally, not a big problem for most wrestlers. However, there are some who don't seem to get this concept. As an example, without naming names, I recently saw a match where the wrestlers were in neutral positions, opposite one another. One of the combatants simply walked up to his opponent, grabbed him, and suplexed him. I don't think I need to explain the absurdity of that situation. Suffice to say, this is something else that ties into the logic of pro-wrestling.
Simply put, making the moves and strikes look somewhat realistic and painful. If it's a brawl, the emphasis is on good-looking striking and creating an illusion of a struggle. If it's a technical match, the emphasis is on creating matwork that doesn't look completely contrived, and hitting moves that look somewhat painful to the opponent, without looking painful to the user. If this isn't present, the wrestling isn't believable. Which then makes the selling seem absurd. Transitions are also something that falls under this subject. Basically, properly changing the direction of a match. The wrestler's swap control segments, the match moves from a "feeling out" phase to a "control" phase, etc.
The story of the match. Two men, struggling on the mat, trying to wear their opponent down so they can hit their own big moves. A heel dominating the face, while the face attempts to fight his way back. A larger opponent trying to force his will on the smaller, quicker opponent, while the quicker wrestler tries to use his speed to his advantage. And countless other storylines that are played out in pro-wrestling matches. Without a story, why are they wrestling?
These are basically the standards that I apply to all wrestling matches. The latter two topics have their own specific criteria based on what style of pro-wrestling is being used. As long as one doesn't try to apply a specific criteria to every pro-wrestling match, it is no problem to compare different styles of wrestling. And I must admit that there are occasionally times where one or more of the basic criteria are lacking, for perfectly acceptable reasons. I'd rather not get into that now, because it would likely take a lot of time to go through them all. But I'd certainly welcome any discussion about specific exceptions to the rule, or any discussion about this subject period. So there you have it. And once again, this is all my opinion. Just in case one doesn't understand the way online forums/blogs work.
I just saw this one. It was incredibly stiff. More so than a normal Kobashi or Joe match. They really set the stage early, doing things to let the audience know that this was indeed going to be a war between two guys who are viewed as the strongest wrestlers in their home promotions. The match built pretty well, as they kept it small at the start and didn't give anything away. Selling was top notch, particular the long-term selling, which really got over how grueling the match was. There wasn't any no-selling, which was one of the big reasons this was better than a typical NOAH main event. I originally thought that Joe's big offensive push came too early, until I realized the match had already gone ~18 minutes. I really thought it was about 8 minutes. The stretch run wasn't quite as epic as some matches, but it was alright. Another burst of offense from Joe before the finish would have been good, but I can't complain too much. This would have been my MOTY if not for the Differ Cup final, which was just off the charts. Barring that, this was still quite a bit better than any other match this year. ****1/2
This was part of the NWA Tag Title tournament that WCW held in 1992. Originally, only the first round matches were to be shown on this broadcast I believe, but they did an angle were Steve Williams and Terry Gordy (who were slated to face the winner) took out the Steiners' first round opponents. The reason being that Doc and Gordy wanted to get at the Steiners as soon as possible. So Bill Watts ended up announcing that the match that all the fans wanted to see, would take place tonight.
The early portions of the match were probably my favourite. Doc and Rick started out, and they really did a good job of getting over that it was a feeling out process, as it was a catious affair with neither man gaining any position. This continued with some great amateur style mat work from Doc and Scott this time. They really made the matwork seem realistic and natural, as opposed to the fake and contrived looking matwork of certain wrestlers today. All that came out of this opening segment was a standoff, which went to show how competitive and even this matchup was.
Things finally heated up once Doc gave Rick a hard slap on the break. Rick angrily tackled Doc and started pounding on him, and that broke the match out of the amateur matwork/feeling out process and into more of a typical prowrestling match. This sequence ended with Doc hitting an enormous clothesline on Rick, who took a nasty head bump off of it. One team was finally in firm command of the match.
A nice transition would follow, when Gordy attemped to use Rick's own belly to belly suplex, but Rick would have none of that. He was able to counter it with a belly to belly of his own and make the tag to Scott. Any advantage the Steiners had didn't last long though, as Doc and Gordy started going to work on Scott, including a light knee attack. I say light, because they didn't really go after it 100%, which is important because the knee came into play later on. This was one of the big problems with the match, as the early knee work on Scott really wasn't good enough to make the later parts of the story logical. Other than that, the heat segment on Scott was really well done, as Doc and Gordy were using crisp, believable and varied offense.
After a couple good teases, Scott eventually ended up getting the hot tag to Rick. The match fell apart at this point due to some poor reffing. Initially, the tag to Rick was fine, as Rick came in to clean house, while Scott got dumped to the outside by Doc. Later on, the ref claimed that he didn't see the tag, so Scott was the legal man. This lead to some very uncomfortable and awkward moments, as Gordy and Rick didn't seem to know what to do, while Scott, the legal guy, was on the floor. As this was going on, Doc hit a vicious shoulderblock to Scott's knee, to further the idea that Scott's knee was in terrible shape.
Eventually, Scott gets back in the ring, and tries to fight his way back. Scott eventually gets Doc setup for a belly to belly, but Gordy comes in and hits a nasty chopblock on Scott's bad knee, then moves on to tie up Rick while Doc gets the pin on Scott.
I really liked the early portions of the match, as the amateur matwork was done very well. There were a few nice transitions and the story of the match was solid, even if the build wasn't done too well in certain parts. The finish was a good idea, but as I mentioned before, early in the match Doc and Gordy really didn't focus on the knee as much as they needed in order for the finish to seem plausible. Plus, the fact that the match was only 15 minutes put a limit on how good it could really be. Although these teams had better, this was still a good match, and was certainly acceptable given the time restraints. ***1/4
I just saw this match, and since I don't have it on DVD or tape, decided to review it on my first watching so I'd have something to go back to if it ever came up in discussion. I haven't seen a whole lot about this match, other than Meltzer giving it ****3/4, so I don't really know how this match is regarded by the populace. I basically went in with a clean slate.
The match starts very sloppily. A Thesz press counter is almost completely botched, and Austin's offense just looks horrible. This was a theme throughout the first 2 falls, as Austin's punches and stomps looked like they wouldn't crack an egg. And unfortunately, punches and stomps are 90% of Austin's offense. Luckily, the sloppy botched moves were confined to the early stages of the match, and Austin's offense even starts to look better as the match progress (explain the logic of that one).
Another thing that caught my attention was Austin's arm work on Triple H. I had a chuckle, because I remember how a certain group of people on another wrestling site, which includes the word smark, like to bash indy wrestlers for "simulating" a wrestling match and doing body work for no particular reason. Well, their hero Austin did the exact same thing here, as there was really no logical reason that he work the arm. Luckily he didn't work it for long, and it was completely forgotten about the rest of the match.
Triple H eventually saves the first fall when he starts a focused attack on Austin's knee. This makes sense considering Austin has a history of bad knees, evident by him wearing braces on both. Triple H makes it evident that he's attacking the knee, so there's no doubt here. Unlike some matches where a guy does one move to a body part and people try and make it seem like the guy is "going after" that body part. Unfortunately, Austin stops selling the knee as soon as Triple H stops his attack, when enough damage was done to warrant at least some mid-term selling.
The ending comes when Triple H jumps off the 2nd rope for no particular reason, lands on his feet, then meets Austin who hits him with a stunner. This wasn't quite as contrived and utterly ridiculous as the finish of Angle vs. HBK II, but it was still pretty bad. This first fall was just kind of average. It was good when Triple H was in control, horrid when Austin was in control. Austin's poor offense and lack of selling, along with the ridiculous finish really hurt this.
The second fall was a "street fight" and it was a typical WWE-style garbage brawl. The use of the barbed wire 2x4 was terrible. That may have been the weakest 2x4 shot I've ever seen. Later, Triple H finds the sledgehammer under the announce table, and JR and Lawler have to sell it like they had no idea it was there. This was like WCW in its dying days stupid. End comes after a Triple H sledgehammer shot and pedigree on Austin. Overall, this fall didn't have a whole lot of negatives, but it didn't have many positive either.
The third fall was as well done as one could have expected. Both guys were selling the previous damage and "wear and tear" very well. Sluggish and dazed movement and execution. I don't mind Austin kicking out of the pedigree, as nothing preceded it, whereas when it got the win in the second fall, it was preceded by a sledgehammer shot. Triple H kicking out of the stunner was to be expected, and it was logical because Austin was delayed in covering him. The delay itself didn't make sense however, as Austin had no reason to be selling like he was. If he had slowly moved to the cover it would have worked, but instead, he just laid on the mat for a few seconds before he moved for the cover. Ending came after Triple H hit Austin with the sledge, and Austin hit Triple H with the 2x4 (which was actually a decent shot this time). Both guys collapsed, but Triple H landed on Austin, and got the pin. Typical overbooked WWE ending, but it worked as far as keeping both guys strong.
Other than the first fall, there wasn't a whole lot of terrible stuff happening, but there also wasn't a whole lot of good happening either. As in typical Austin-style main event, the match structure was ok, and the selling was good, but the work itself was really sub-par and it was fairly overbooked. There's only so far a match like that can go, but even so, this match wasn't really close to that limit. ***
I finally saw it today. It was fairly entertaining, but a few things really kept it out of MOTYC range.
What wasn't good
The chop sequence wasn't put over very well, and it was way too long. It was a fine idea, it just wasn't executed well.
The no-selling was just terrible. No-selling an exploder is one thing, no-selling a northern lights bomb is something else.
What was good
Kobashi's actual selling is fantastic, and it always has been.
Both guys used great body language and facials to get over the fact that it was a battle of the two strongest wrestlers in the world. Use of a few showdown/macho spots was great.
Unlikes past "spectacle" matches, it was paced well. They didn't start firing off spots immediately, going back to build, firing of spots, etc.
I was disappointed with how it turned out, as the no-selling and chop sequence really took it down a notch. Even without those issues, it probably was only a ****1/4-****1/2 match anyway. As it stands, I'd call it a very good ***3/4.
Why is it, that when people who are exposed to a hyped-up promotion for the first time, expect every single match to be great? I see this all the time with ROH, and I recently saw it with NOAH too. I see people complaining about a card-opening comedy match or a mid-card indy spotfest, and that supposedly means the promotion isn't great. What kind of logic is this, especially considering I don't see anyone claiming that ROH or NOAH produces great matches up and down the card. It's just not possible for any promotion to consistently have cards with mostly great matches, or even mostly very good matches. AJW in the early-mid 90's certainly had cards with multiple MOTYCs, and where the large majority of the matches were at least good, but that's about the only example I can think of, and not every show they produced was up to those standards. Even the promotion that many consider to be the best ever (early 90's AJPW) usually had an unbelievably great main event, and a good-very good undercard match, but the rest mostly forgettable stuff.
So here's a tip for people who are watching these hyped-up promotions for the first time. Compare the number of MOTYCs these promotions produce over the course of a year, compared to say, WWE. Then look at how consistent the shows are in at least having 2 or 3 good-very good matches per card. That's why those promotions are hyped up as being great, not because every match they produce is necessarily great, or even average. Every promotion has their stinkers. Every single one. Just some have more or less than others.
Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki vs. Jun Akiyama & Genichiro Tenryu (4/24/05)
This was the semi-main to NOAH's horrible 4/24/05 show. The card had so far seen a couple of DUD-level six-mans, an early, screwjob finish and a couple of average-slightly decent matches. So now we have Japan's strongest wrestler, along with his young protege, vs. a surly old legend along with the younger, but just as cantankerous Akiyama. Does it save the card? Depends on one's standards I suppose.
It was clear right off the bat, that Tenryu wanted at Kobashi, as he attacked Kobashi before the bell had even rang. This was followed with Tenryu throwing a table at Kobashi, and a while later, throwing a bottle of water at him. This built great anticipation for the eventual meeting between the two. Unfortunately for Tenryu, Kobashi was greatly angered, and when the two did eventually meet, Tenryu was absolutely brutalized with chops, ending with his chest being beet red, to go along with a stream of blood.
As the match went on, the general story was clear. Tenryu was destroying Shiozaki in order to taunt and anger Kobashi. This was evident when Tenryu kept drilling Shiozaki with stiff lariats, stuff punches and stiff chops, and then giving Kobashi a look of contempt after each sequence. It worked perfectly, because Tenryu plays the old bastard character so well, and Shiozaki took the beating like a champ.
As the match winded down, it was clear that Kobashi and Shiozaki were well behind. They did have a feint glimmer of hope when Kobashi helped Shiozaki gain the upper hand on Tenryu, while he (Kobashi) took care of Akiyama on the outside. Shiozaki ended up showing his immaturity, by going for a moonsault much too early. This lead to a great, momentum-changing nearfall when Tenryu pulled Shiozaki off the top and then hit a monster lariat. At this point, Akiyama had turned the tables on the outside and was able to keep Kobashi out, while Tenryu hit a powerbomb on Shiozaki to take the victory.
They didn't do much, if anything wrong here, but they didn't really go all out either. It was a good story being told in the right context, which didn't lend itself to being a classic wrestling match. Still, this was pretty good, and I'm sure if it had happened in certain other promotions, you'd have people calling it a low-end MOTYC. ***1/4
Ok, here's what I want to do. Hopefully enough people read this blog so that we can get some sort of reasonable discussion. Lets discuss the best matches from 2000-2005, or early "Match of the decade candidates". Post as many matches as you want, but only if you really think they're truly great enough to be one of the best of the decade. You don't have to provide in-depth analysis, unless you're questioned. And even then, it doesn't have to be long-winded or anything. I'll fire off a few matches that I think are candidates and I will provide analysis if called upon (because then I can rewatch the match with that in mind).
1. Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk (12/04/04) I admit, I thought this was a ***** match the first time I saw it. The story was just utterly fantastic, as they played off of past matches better than their 2nd match, and the blood really played in perfectly with the ending while leaving the door open for more matches between the two. I've been seeing criticism of this match (although nothing credible, because all I saw was a ***1/2 rating, with no analysis given, by a guy who's a crackpot). I don't know if it's a legit *****, as I need to watch it again. And the thing about that, is that I don't have access to it so I can't rewatch it at the moment. I've no doubt it was up in MOTDC territory though.
2. Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk (10/16/04) My god, I'm coming across like an ROHbot. Yikes. But this match was seriously fantastic. Probably the best 60 minutes I've seen. Once again, the basis of the match was them playing off the previous draw, and they did it in a way that left no doubt as to what they really meant by it. What makes it even more impressive, is that I believe this match was put together kind of at the last moment, when Steve Corino (who was originally facing Joe) had to pull out of the card.
3. Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (04/25/04) This is what happens when Kobashi is involved in a big time match, and he doesn't go crazy with the no-selling/fighting spirit nonsense. That pretty much explains why it's here.
4. Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Jun Akiyama (8/17/03) I don't remember this match too well, other than the fact that I thought it was the best match I had seen from the period 1999-2003. I haven't seen any talk of this match, so I'm kind of curious as to what others think about it. Hopefully we can get some discussion on this match specifically, as it would give me a reason to watch it again.
Essentially that's pretty much it. Those are the only ****1/2 matches I've seen since 2000. Feel free to pick apart any of the matches you see, as long as you're bringing the points.
So when did this trend of rating matches highly solely based on the story it tells, completely ignoring every other factor, start? Or is it just a by-product of the gradual change of the smart community to the anti-conformist, WWE fan? These people are usually the first to crucify a match for being too spotty. "Good wrestling isn't all about spots!!!". Well, good wrestling isn't all about the story either. If the story of the match is good, but the story is told poorly, does the match deserve as much praise as as a match that has a good story and also tells it in a superior way? Because that's basically what I'm seeing with people throwing around ****+ ratings to matches full of poor looking punches, restholds and crummy selling.
And another thing that's getting annoying is people who look way too far into a match to try and justify certain spots or actions. If something is so far buried underneath layer and layer of analysis, to the point where it becomes doubtful that the wrestlers even intended the spot in question to have such meaning, it's time to re-examine your priorities. This is something I've seen from all types of people, from the previously mentioned new age WWE-smart mark to others who are generally good wrestling analysts. But really, one can find meaning in anything that happens in a wrestling match if they really want to. I'm not one of those "watch with your brain turned off" people, but there is such a thing as over-analysis.
I'm getting rather perturbed by posts that incorrectly criticise someone for trying to pass off their opinion as fact. This is despite the fact that the person never even insinuated such a thing and the only reason they're being singled out is because they didn't actually say it was their opinion. How lame is that? It's an online forum. I would like to think that everyone knows that when people post things, it's almost always their opinion. If I say "Toshiaki Kawada is the best wrestler ever.", that's just an opinion, and I shouldn't have to explain that it's just an opinion. It should be obvious, even without saying "In my opinion <blah>". But if I say "WWE drew a 51% house at their 7/1 Saitama show", it's a fact, and if someone calls me on that point, I will say so. So for you people who like to jump on others for this, maybe you should wait until the person actually acts like what they're saying is the only truth. Then go nuts. Otherwise just assume everyone is just innocently giving their opinion, rather than trying to pass it off as fact.
P.S. /me shoots on DrVenkman
A recent post got me thinking about a theoretical situation, and I extrapolated a sequence of events in my mind. What if someone claims that a certain wrestler has been involved with a great number of match of the decade cadidate type matches, when the reality is the wresltler in question has likely been involved in zero? What if someone calls this person out on that and asks for a list and explanation of said matches? Due to none of the matches actually being anywhere near that level, what if the person then starts firing off irrelevant or incorrect evidence in support of the matches? What if, when called on that fact, the person responds with something like "Well I think <such and such> makes for a great wrestling match, therefore it was a great match." With this line of reasoning, I can adequately support a claim that Ed Leslie is the best in-ring worker of all time. So what happens when people use such a shoddy copout when confronted on such an issue? The subjectivity excuse can theoretically be used over and over.
Some clown - "A 60 second chinlock that happens 25 minutes into a 28 minute match makes a wrestling match great".
Response - "Well, pro-wrestling is about telling a story in the context of a semi-logical, worked wrestling match. A 60 second chinlock that has no relevance to the story of the match, simply doesn't make sense that late in the match."
Some clown - "What's the problem? To me pro-wrestling is about using as many superfluous restholds as possible."
When does it end? When does someone admit they don't have any reasonable points and just move on? Or do they just hold onto their "subjectivity", with the mindset that their opinion is all that matters and that the point of online message boards is just to have the last word in any argument?
Everything is subjective if you want to be technical. That doesn't mean reason should be thrown to the wayside. But then, who decides what's reasonable or not?
Once again, a wrestler, and specifically a Japanese legend, dies much too young. One of my favourite wrestlers of all time, one of the biggest draws in wrestling history and a tremendous in-ring performer is dead at the age of 40. As I write this, the last wrestling match I've seen was Toshiaki Kawada vs. Shinya Hashimoto. While I was viewing the match, never in my wildest dreams would I expect to hear of one of the combatants' death later in the day. RIP to a wrestling legend.
That's right, the line "all opinions are equal" is false. I see this bullshit being thrown around by people and it gets quite annoying. All opinions are not equal and people aren't just entitled to their opinion, but their informed, supportable opinion. This is an excuse used by lots of people who subscribe to opinions that can't generally be supported or people who have no idea how to even begin to support their opinions. For example, what if I said "Andre the Giant circa 1989 was a fantastic wrestler." and then refused to back up the statement? Not like that statement could be intelligently supported without totally bastardizing what it means to be a good wrestler. But is this opinion equal to something like "Andre the Giant circa 1989 was horrible. His body has broken down to the point where he was almost literally immobile in the ring and could do very, very little as a result." Of course not. The bottom line is that for any opinion to be relevant, it must be accompanied by relevant points that support its position. There are cases when it isn't possible to support an opinion or where it's not needed. For example, if someone was to say that they enjoy Kurt Angle's work. This is a personal opinion based on the person's feelings and no one can really say it's not true, nor should anyone care if the person does enjoy Kurt Angle. But saying "Kurt Angle is a great worker" is an objective statement which insinuates that it's the truth, and as such, it does require some level of support.
And for all of you people who like to trumpet this so called equality, answer this. Is a racist person's opinion relevant and equal to everyone else's? If someone believes the Earth is flat, is that opinion just as relevant as someone who believes the Earth is round? I thought not. So get lost with the "all opinions are equal" nonsense.
I'd also like to add that I don't think everyone needs to support their opinions all the time. For example, some folks are content with simply trading opinions without getting into the specific details. That's perfectly fine. But if you're actually engaging in a serious discussion, at least have the courtesy to either support your claims if pressed on an issue or just get the hell out of the discussion if you aren't able to or interested in doing so.
Welp, I saw Angle vs. HBK from Vengeance. It started fairly well, with some decent looking and logical mat work. The match just kind of meandered along until the horribly contrived german suplex on the table spot. That lead to an awful Angle control segment, which illustrates another reason why Angle is overrated. Chin locks and punches, how creative. Great way to fill the time there. The corner powerbomb was neat, but they followed it up with..more chin locks. Who's idea was it to have a 90 second chinlock, 20 minutes into a ~28 minute match? Yea, Angle's a great worker alright. Then there's a desperate attemp to interject some sort of drama into the match by having HBK "injured" and require road agents to attend to him. What it really did was kill the match for no good reason. Followed by, of course, the expected and masturbatory "escape the anke lock" sequence. Followed by HBK hitting sweet chin music. Except someone decided it'd be logical if Angle got up before HBK and went to the top rope (for no good reason mind you), which setup the finish in which HBK hit SCM on Angle as he was coming off the top rope. I bet no one saw that one coming. This match was a joke. Two guys trying to force out a classic instead of letting it just happen. Their WMXXI match was very good, maybe the WWE MOTY. This match was just a piece of masturbatory crap. **3/4
On a slightly related topic, why is it that the people who are always throwing around ridiculous * ratings are the ones who never provide intelligent analysis to back those ratings up? There's guy's like Meltzer and Keller who simply don't post any analysis at all, then there's random clowns on wrestling forums who either do the same thing, or they post a bunch of bullshit that is completely unapplicable or erroneous. The point is, don't use * ratings unless you're willing to backup your rating with legitimate analysis. Just an observation I've made.
Finally, I'd like to add that quoting partial statements while leaving out key information isn't cool. Especially when the point that's trying to be made by the response is addressed by the excluded part of the statement.
So how about that Kurt Angle eh? Great worker right? Wrong. Lets start with the masturbatory matwork/grapple sequences with lots of pretty counters and rolling around. Good matwork should look realistic and effective, not pretty and contrived. His supposedly "great" matches with Benoit are a good example of this. Oh, and lets not forget the "trading german suplexes" spot where both guys essentially no-sell the damage from multiple german suplexes (granted, with how germans are done in the WWE, they look like they hurt about as much as a Hogan backrake of doom). Masturbatory indeed. And let us not forget Angle's great selling in later stages of a match. Generally when a wrestler has been worked over with big moves for a few minutes, he doesn't immediately pop up and go on a big run of his own moves. At least, no wrestler that knows how to properly sell. It's called patience and Angle has none. When he transitions into his own offense, he hits a move and then immediately follows up with more and more and more. The smart wrestler, after being controlled and beaten up for a good stretch, will transition into his own offense by hitting a move, then immediately collapsing or otherwise selling the damage he's been taking for the past few minutes. This creates some doubt into the outcome of the match as well as creating drama. Who will come out on top, the guy who just hit a big, desperation move, or his opponent who's been laying a beat down for the previous few minutes? A lot of wrestlers are guilty of this, including another supposedly "great" worker in Satoshi Kojima. But Angle hype seems to greatly outdue any Kojima hype I've ever seen. So I figured I'd take him down a notch.
And here's hoping that Brock Lesnar ends up back with the E. At least then they'll finally have a full time main eventer that can actually, you know, work a good wrestling match. Although I suppose if he could get his no-compete clause thrown out he could end up in NOAH or NJPW and wrestle better workers in a less controlling enviroment. Come to think of it, here's hoping Brock wins the lawsuit and doesn't end up in the E.
Secondly, DrVenkman rocks. It's kind of funny, our "relationship". He's a big WWE fan, I'm a hardcore workrate fan. WWE and workrate is like Stephanie McMahon and good booking. Yea. But we get along, even when I'm going off on tangents about how crummy the WWE product is. We get along despite a pretty strong difference of opinion. What a concept. If only more people realized that a simple difference of opinion, when their truly is no right and wrong, doesn't mean you have to verbally attack the other person and hold a grudge. What a world we would live in.
On a totally unrelated subject, the last wrestling match I saw was Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi from March 1, 2003. Two of the top 5 male workers of the 90's. About 9 and 6 years past their respective primes. Oh yes. It was the 2nd time I've seen the match and I was really paying more attention to the enormous flaws than I did on the first viewing. Blatant no-selling really bothers me. There's really no reason to do it and it's tremendously business exposing. It's even worse when a wrestler gets hit with a move, sells it, only to no-sell the same move when they're hit with it 10 minutes later. Does this make logic? Is it believable that a move hurts a wrestler one minute, and 10 minutes later, when he's in much worse shape mind you, he shrugs it off like nothing? No, not really. FYI, the full list of head/neck bumps in that match were as follows - 5 half nelson suplexes, 2 tiger suplexes, including 1 off the entrance ramp to the floor, 1 emerald flowsion, 1 tiger suplex 85, 1 sleeper suplex, 2 high angle backdrops, 1 sheer-drop brainbuster, and 1 burning hammer. I'm not one of these anti-headdropping zealots. I mean, if a move is used properly, it doesn't matter how brutal it is. But 5 half nelson suplexes is overkill and really isn't logical in any match. Of course, I'd rather see that sort of match rather than any of the garbage that the WWE's produced lately. For anyone who's interested, I had the match pegged at ***3/4. Less no-selling and less meaningless headdropping makes it the best match since 1998 mayhaps.
Next time (maybe) - why Kurt Angle's wrestling is masturbatory and as such, overrated, double standards and more!