Lanza Reviews Ten Random Matches #2 (8/31/14)
Remember when I was going to do one of these every two weeks? Here we are six weeks later.
We’ll try to get back on pace moving forward, but for now please enjoy these ten match reviews, from BJW, Smash Wrestling, F1RST Wrestling, TASW, WWE, TNA, DDT, Noches de Coliseo, Wrestlesport, & NOAH.
What is the concept behind Lanza Reviews Ten Random Matches? It’s explained here, in the first edition from back in mid-July. It’s actually pretty simple. I review ten random matches of recent vintage, from places not normally covered extensively on this site. While the occasional WWE, NJPW, Dragon Gate, ROH, etc match may slip through, the focus will remain on every place else, from the major leagues (CMLL) to the pretend major leagues (TNA), to everything else in between, and also the super obscure.
So here we go. Ten more random matches, with links galore. Read, enjoy, watch, and argue with me on Twitter about the snowflakes.
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Shinobu, Big Japan 6/30/14 – I reviewed a Sekimoto match here last month, and you can expect to see a Sekimoto match pretty much every time I write one of these, because I watch every Sekimoto match I can get my hands on. Sekimoto is as beefy as ever these days. Maybe a little too beefy, as he was a half step slower here than usual. That didn’t prevent this from being great. We start with some grappling, and somehow Sekimoto finds himself caught in a rear naked choke. He fights out, and now he’s annoyed. Shinobu ends up on the wrong side of a forearm exchange, but he gets up and tries again, before Sekimoto swats him away like a gnat with an overhand chop. This match was five minutes old and I already loved every second. Sekimoto went to an STF, Shinobu fought to the ropes. Shinobu ducked a clothesline and used a hurricanrana to take control, and slapped on an STF of his own. Sekimoto powered out and then went into bully mode, including a half crab that nearly snapped Shinobu in half. Closing stretch was great. Shinobu blocked a lariat, and proceeded to go insane, slapping the shit out of a stunned Sekimoto. Shinobu set up a shooting star press, but Mr. Beef got the knees up, then belly to backed Shinobu into the turnbuckle. Beefy hit a corner lariat, a brainbuster, and then let out a primal scream before hitting a HUGE lariat that took Shinobu out of his boots. Shinobu’s bump here needs to be seen to be believed. Sekimoto had just about enough of this little shit by this point, and used his German suplex to finish him off…but Shinobu somehow reversed it into a cross arm breaker at the two count. Fantastic spot. Sekimoto stood up and attempted to power out, but Shinobu wouldn’t let go. Shinobu kicked him in the face to take him back down, and Sekimoto tapped out almost immediately when they hit the mat. Sekimoto was great as the annoyed bully, and Shinobu was great as the feisty, fighting spirit underdog. Great match with one of the best finishes of the year. ****1/4
Super Smash Brothers vs The Overdogs, Smash Wrestling “Rival Schools” 6/8/14 – This was the first SSB match I’ve seen in ages, and they’re usually a team I enjoy, but this was absolute dog shit. I’ve heard a lot about The Overdogs, but based on this i’m not in a hurry to seek out more of their stuff. Apparently this was some sort of tables elimination match. Player Dos took a crazy bump off of a balcony through a table, and was the first to be “eliminated”, but he never left ringside and just kept fighting. The announcers were as confused as I was. From there this was more state of the art (circa 1995 or so) hardcore “action”. The Smash Brothers won by sending John Greed through a table via a superplex, and for the finish Sebastian Suave took an ace cutter through a table. John Greed is soooo indie-riffic. The live crowd was into this, but it was sloppy, disorganized, and chaotic in all the wrong ways. I was over this type of match 20 years ago. *
Download “Rival Schools” for free: http://smash-wrestling.com/product/rival-schools-2014-digital-download/
Zero Gravity vs North Star Express, F1RST Wrestling “Wrestle Palooza 4” 6/14/14 – Years ago on the podcast, Rich was raving about fresh faced youngsters Zero Gravity, and I remember commenting that due to their generic look & high flying style, they should wear masks to give themselves some flair. Clearly these men listen to the show (who doesn’t!), because now they’re hooded. This makes them tough to tell apart, but one of the the announcers commented that “CJ looks like Bryan Alvarez”. This of course is no help, because THEY’RE WEARING MASKS. North Star Express is the veteran combination of Darin Corbin & Ryan Cruz, the now grizzled vets of the Minnesota indie scene. F1RST Wrestling runs shows in front of hot bar crowds, and this crowd fit that bill. This was a fast paced match with lots of action, giving that hot crowd a reason to stay
hyped excited (the hell with you, Mojo Rawley), with NSE being perfect opponents for the sometimes too spotty Zero Gravity, as Corbin & Cruz did a great job holding things together and setting up the high flying team to look good with their flippy shit. This was FUN, and the perfect length for this type of tag sprint, peaking right when it should have, with Zero Gravity picking up the big win over the hometown team. ***3/4
Miss Diss Lexia vs Delilah Doom, TASW “Tow Daddy’s Rage in a Cage” 6/28/14 – TASW is a small Texas promotion that has been running for many years (Necro Butcher got his first break of sorts here), and yes, “Tow Daddy’s Rage in a Cage” was the actual name of this event. Hopefully the promoter received a ton of money from Mr. Tow Daddy, because this outdoor show had roughly 20 fans. Miss Diss Lexia & Delilah Doom are Inspire Pro regulars, which is an Austin based indie I frequently attend, so I was familiar with both of them coming into this. Doom does an 80’s mall rat gimmick, complete with leg warmers, gum chomping, and a sideways pony tail. She does a great job with the overly energetic teenager act, but her visible tattoos kind of hurt the gimmick. As Miss Diss Lexia made her entrance, desperate for any kind of heat from the 20 or so slack jawed weirdos in the crowd, she said, and I quote, “You guys are the suckiest wrestling fans I’ve ever seen in my life!”. Nobody bit except for the typical loud obnoxious guy who tries his best to ruin every show by putting himself over. Diss Lexia is accompanied by a heel manager who resembles an extra from the cast of La Bamba. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s actually Mr. Tow Daddy. I should also mention that the sun was starting to set. As Delilah Doom made her way to the ring, obnoxious guy yelled “Hey look, it’s Cyndi Lauper!” Congrats pal, you understand the blatantly obvious gimmick. For some reason, Doom tried to climb the cage before the match started. She didn’t get very far. Diss Lexia then gave it a go, and Doom ran over to let her know “That’s like, a totally bad idea!”. What is happening? They actually put together a decent little match, but neither of these ladies is the next Manami Toyota, so it was what it was. Poor Delilah Doom tried to get the fans to rally behind her towards the end, but they all just sat there and chewed their chaw or drooled on themselves or did whatever it is people do in the what was probably the town where Texas Chainsaw Massacre took place. That sort of killed the finish, as I think the idea was Doom garners some sympathy for La Bamba guy closing the cage door on her to recreate the Gordy/Kerry Von Erich spot in Texas for what i’m guessing the 10,876th time. At least I think that’s what was supposed to happen. Who knows. The highlight here might have been the cameraman audibly instructing the ref to “Watch out, Jack” as he tried to get his shot. Of course, this master of cinematography could have just moved over two steps or so, but hey, i’m no Martin Scorsese so what do I know? *1/4
Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton, WWE Live Event (date unknown) – This was fan cam footage of a Street Fight with Ric Flair as special ref, so it took place sometime between 7/25 – 7/27 in either Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or Dallas. The footage was unlabeled, the video has since been pulled via copyright claim, and all three bouts had the same finish, so unfortunately we will never know which match this was. Lots of Singapore canes & tables in play, but despite the stip Randy still managed to work in a chin lock. The coolest spot was probably Roman missing a Superman punch and going through a table that was set up in the corner. In what I assume was a show long gimmick, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins came running in from the back and brawled through the crowd. While this was happening, Orton decked Flair. He turned around and got hit with the Superman punch. Flair then laid in with some chops, which led to the spear and the pin. Much shorter than the SummerSlam match, and in some ways it was better, but mostly due to shortcuts. Nothing special. **1/2
TNA X-Division Title – Samoa Joe (c) vs Low Ki, TNA Impact 8/20/14 (airdate) – The rematch Gabe never booked! Lagana’s got your back, bro. Low Ki is a temperamental fella, who seems to be in a bridge burning contest with Davey Richards, but god damn the guy is talented. I don’t think it would be a stretch to call Low Ki one of the ten most talented American wrestlers of his era. You could feel early on that Joe was fully motivated here, and these dudes were stiffing the shit out of each other right from the jump. Joe’s chest was beat red less than five minutes into this baby. A cool transition spot was Joe catching Ki mid air and delivering a big powerbomb that he then turned into a Boston crab. Joe then turned the crab into an STF, but Ki made the ropes. Mike Tenay was even on his game here, doing his best 1995 Mike Tenay talking about history and such, as the intensity seemed to motivate him as well. For the finish, Joe caught Ki on the top rope and delivered the Muscle Buster for the win. This was well on its way to being great, but it was way too short. They should book this again before the promotion folds, and give them 20 minutes. ***
Kota Ibushi vs Shuji Kondo, DDT “Ryogoku Peter Pan 2014” 8/17/14 – This was the Kota Ibushi return match, after suffering a very scary looking concussion on 7/4 in his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title loss to KUSHIDA in Korakuen Hall. So how did this match start? With Kondo kicking Ibushi right in the fucking head, playing off of the head injury. Brilliant. Ibushi took one hell of a beating here, to the point some might find this match uncomfortable, but I loved the structure. The only thing preventing this from being a great, match of the year caliber bout was Ibushi making one too many fighting spirit comebacks (and this coming from someone who loves big fighting spirit comebacks). By the third time, even I was thinking, OK, this is just too much. But hey, too much is always better than too little, especially when you aren’t building to a rematch or doing a program, so fuck it. Kondo is a guy who I think is criminally underrated. The problem with Kondo, is he rarely finds himself in the “hot” promotion, so he tends to slip through the cracks with some fans. To me he’s been one of the better power juniors around for the last decade. Ibushi won this with the Phoenix Splash. With one less comeback, and if Ibushi had come close but lost, i’d have had this in MOTY range. As it was, it was an excellent match, and the best bout from the big DDT show on Super Sunday. ****
Hator, Jerry, Snoopy, Vudu, Super Parka, Mario Bezares vs Konnan Big, Noches de Coliseo 7/20/14 – This was suggested by Twitter follower Tim Evans (@timmy8271), and I watched this with zero context (although i’m not sure it would have mattered). I honestly don’t even know where to start. Bezares, Jerry (not a cartoon mouse), & Snoopy (not a cartoon dog) do not appear to be trained wrestlers. And there was a seventh guy on the heel side, but for whatever reason the YouTube description only lists six. There were also two referees. Super Cena has nothing, NOTHING, on Konnan Big. This man sells nothing, and fights off all seven men with with very little issue. Most of this is comically bad. I think my favorite spot was Snoopy doing a dive off of the top rope to the outside, where Konnan Big & Vudu made absolutely no effort to catch him. Snoopy just bounced off of them and dropped straight to the floor. Hator #1 & Hator #2 (that’s what i’m calling the unnamed guy) did practically nothing and just stood around. It was all just so completely bizarre, but I can’t call it the worst match I’ve seen this year. Not in a year where that Chuck Taylor/Teddy Hart/Premier Athlete Brand thing happened at WrestleMania weekend. -**
Bryan Alvarez vs Buddy Wayne, WrestleSport 8/16/2014 – Student vs teacher here. in what was appropriately billed as an OLD SCHOOL PRO WRESTLING MATCH. Alvarez is semi retired, but trains in BJJ and stays in great shape. Wayne is in pretty good shape for a man his age as well, especially one who has had some major health issues. They start off with the code of honor handshake, and exchange arm drag spots, followed by a few minutes of clean, good old fashioned wrestling with Alvarez having a slight edge at every turn. Wayne backs Alvarez into the corner, and delivers one hell of a hard chop in lieu of a clean break. Wayne offers his hand again, but Alvarez slaps it away. Uh oh. Super Chico, expecting a clean fight with his mentor, was not pleased with that chop. Wayne backs him into the corner again, but this time Alvarez ducks the chop and delivers one of his own. At this point i’m thinking that this is one hell of a well structured start of a match, and pretty much the exact type of match I expect Alvarez to produce. They agree to shake hands again, and at this point you’re waiting to see which guy goes full heel on the other. That never really happened. Instead, they just chopped the living shit out of each other, until the match settled into Wayne working over Alvarez’s shoulder while working in athletic hope spots for Alvarez from underneath. For the finish, Alvarez backflipped out of what looked to be a potential powerbomb spot, and delivered a superkick. This set up a beautiful senton dive from the top, as Alvarez picked up the win. This was pretty damn good. Alvarez looked incredibly sharpe & crisp for a guy who works roughly one match per year. They laid in hard with the chops, and Alvarez did some tremendous selling along with displaying great athleticism. The pacing was perfect, and the story was simple & logical. Wayne was good here as well, playing the role of oh-so-subtle heel in a way that never fully turned him but still managed to make it clear that he was willing to take a few shortcuts. This far exceeded my expectations. ***1/4
NTV Cup Jr. Heavyweight Tag League Finals – Kenou & Hajime Ohara vs Daisuke Harada & Quiet Storm, NOAH 8/2/14 – In the opening video package, they showed highlights from the seminal KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs Naomichi Marufuji & Kota Ibushi match from the inaugural 2007 NTV Cup, which was the coming out party for Ibushi, and one of the great tag bouts of the decade. The match featured two of the biggest stars in Japan at the time, plus Ibushi, who most figured would ascend to that level someday. Flash forward to 2014, and we have a final that features a collection of solid juniors that NOAH employs, but no big stars, and very likely no big future stars, unless a couple of these guys do what no current NOAH junior has done and manage to break out in a big way. I like guys like Kenou, Ohara, & Harada just fine (in fact, I think Ohara was a major part of a legit MOTY contender from January vs Ishimori, who is one of the few NOAH holdovers from 2007), but do any of these men have the look or feel of the next big junior heavyweight? And let’s be honest, NOAH needs to do better than featuring a guy like Quiet Storm, a journeyman who some might remember from a decade ago in CZW or on early ROH shows working openers & prelims, who finally found a steady home with Osaka Pro until they effectively shut down. This led to several Osaka Pro stars jumping to NOAH in the dying days, including Osaka’s blue chipper, Harada (Osaka Pro continue to exist in name only, running roughly once per month, employing a skeleton crew of cheap regulars supplemented by mostly Dragon Gate talent). I don’t mean to dump on Quiet Storm, who is a perfectly acceptable lower card guy, but he stuck out like a sore thumb here, and just wasn’t in the league of the other three dudes in this match. Ohara really shined,which made sense since by pinning Harada they were setting him up for a Jr Heavyweight title shot. Kenou is always good as a sleazy freelancer, and Ohara & Kenou jumping the face team during the prematch ceremony (and beating them with FLOWERS) was a cool way to start things. The meat of the match was really boring (which is sort of NOAH in a nutshell these days), and this was basically an extended squash, with Harada never making the big comeback I was expecting him to make. The closing stretch was hot and made Ohara look really strong, but this was a match with a cool start, a (sort of) hot finish, and nothing worth talking about in between. A far, far cry from 2007 in many, many ways. ***, I guess.