It used to be better.” – The Lapsed Fan Pro Wrestling Podcast

Photo courtesy The Tape Machines Are Rolling blog

IWA-MS Spring Heat 2002
March 1, 2002 – Indianapolis, IN
IWA-MS Heavyweight Title Match
CM Punk © vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Match is nothing but stalling in the first couple minutes, and Eddie decides to let the other two lock up while he relaxes in the corner. He gets double-teamed for his trouble until it finally becomes a true three-way, Punk and Mysterio each going for pins on him and getting irritated with each over. The champ gets taken out when Eddie ducks a Mysterio charge, sweeping him towards Punk for a basement dropkick.

As Punk rests outside, this lets Eddie and Mysterio briefly reignite their WCW rivalry. Punk gets taken down again when he reinserts himself, and Mysterio eats a Buckle Bomb from Eddie. As green as Punk is at this time, he’s holding his own with both legendary luchadores.

Although this three-way is all mechanically fine, it’s missing the creativity and crowd atmosphere of the masterpiece that just took place the prior work in Philly. Punk’s Buff Blockbuster on Eddie gets broken up on the pin by Mysterio’s Springboard Leg Drop, allowing the all-time great to have control on both until Eddie low-blows him.

The match peaks at the end when Punk hits a Sunset Flip Powerbomb on Eddie for a pin, while Eddie’s momentum causes Mysteiro to eat a German Suplex. Then the finish is Punk being up top and Mysterio gets thrown up towards him by Eddie, hitting a Super Hurricanrana that leaves the champ prone to Eddie’s Frog Splash for the title change. Tomorrow’s main event singles match between Eddie and Punk will now officially be for the title. Rating: ***

The following content is available on the Highspots Wrestling Network.

IWA-MS Morris Mayhem 2002
March 2, 2002 – Morris, IL

Ace Steel vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Fine match with a horrendous ending. They never stay focused on a body part to really built substantial heat, so when Steel is in control, it’s incredibly generic. When Mysterio makes a comeback, the crowd wakes up. Then have a post-match brawl after a 15-minute time limit. Rating: less than ***

IWA-MS Heavyweight Title Match
Eddie Guerrero © vs. CM Punk

Eddie intentionally bumps into Mysterio on the way to the ring, then mauls him for no reason to establish him as the heel in this title match. Punk arrives to brawl with him before the opening bell, pissed off about the champ’s antics. Punk is showing really good fire here, causing Eddie to powder.

Eddie gains control with a Manhattan Drop, cutting off Punk moments later too with a Gut Buster counter. He does so again when Punk tries a Sleeper, dropping the challenger with a Chin Breaker and putting on a clinic while in control.

When Punk tries a strike exchange to come back, Eddie just gives him an eye poke. Punk also can’t maintain control when he counters Eddie with a Pumphandle Suplex, getting cut off on the left knee as Eddie targeted it.. Punk is great here as he sells the agony and Dave Prazak gets the crowd to rally behind him.

Punk surprises Eddie with an Overhead Suplex, which is enough to his a follow-up Split-Legged Moonsault for a ner-fall. But even that’s false hope as Eddie quickly regains control, To state the obvious, Eddie’s performance here is easily the best in IWA-MS history up to this point. Nobody else comes close as an overall package.

Punk teases a comeback via a Bulldog, but Eddie yet again cuts him off quickly with uppercuts. Eddie is just outclassing Punk here, cutting him off again with another eye poke. Punk also stumbles on another comeback attempt, unintentionally keeping Eddie in control. The champ is STILL in control after trying to introduce a chair and the ref doesn’t allow it, dropping Punk with a Release German Suplex.

After that, Punk FINALLY has a plethora of offense to make a comeback 15 minutes into this. But even that’s short-lived too as Eddie cuts him off on the top rope to deliver a Superplex, dazing both men. Eddie goes for the chair again but Mysterio arrives to block him. As the ref admonishes Mysterio, he shoves it in the ring, allowing Punk to deliver a Reverse DDT to Eddie on it and reclaim the title. Terrible finish as this made Punk look like a complete bitch.

Post-match, Eddie begs for mercy and powders away from a chair-yielding Mysterio. I seriously can’t believe Punk was so outclassed like this, needed such blatant help and a weapon to win, and then wasn’t the major focus afterwards. This is easily the most disappointing match on this journey due to the finish; it’s now obvious Eddie would only lose in sudden fashion, and it wouldn’t be surprising if even losing clean that way got tiring to him by this point.

I sure hope Punk really learned as much as he claims he did from working with Eddie, as the structure of this match did absolutely nothing to elevate him. NOTHING. In a million years, I’d never book a CM Punk vs. Eddie Guerrero match this way, considering that in retrospect, this is a dream match that so many wish had taken place in the major leagues. Rating: less than ***

Yet another batch of IWA-MS content that did nothing to remove it from this lapsed journey’s “redheaded stepchild” status. This joins the first edition of The Lapsed Lion King of Sports in proving that “it used to better” is not a completely true statement.

Zero-One held its Truth Century Creation 2002 PPV on this day, so let’s go there since there’s nowhere else fitting to include it on this journey, and at least this chapter of the journey can end on a good note.

KENTA vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Zero-One Truth Century Creation 2002
March 2, 2002 – Tokyo, Japan

KENTA eats a Powerbomb at the start but keeps going for pin attempts, and this is hot and heavy right away. Takaiwa eventually gets control by targeting KENTA”s left leg, putting him in a single leg lock.

KENTA has hope spots, only to put down with just one lariat. Takaiwa then switches up his focus, targeting the throat and chest of KENTA. Takaiwa just gets more pissed off as KENTA rapidly stomps him, and again just one strike knocks down KENTA. Takaiwa just owns the match outside, and continues doing so upon bringing the action back into the ring.

Takaiwa applies a Crippler Crossface; fuck, I can just imagine KENTA vs. Chris Benoit now. He then goes for a Boston Crab, which is broken when KENTA reaches the ropes. Takaiwa just continues dishing out the strikes, then returns his focus to the left leg. The former GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion is just outclassing KENTA, who shows great fire in his hope spot strikes, but he’s outmatched here as he eats a Double Underhook Suplex.

Takaiwa then redirects his attention to KENTA’s left arm, which was locked moments earlier in the Crippler Crossface. He uses a Fujiwara Arm Bar and then eventually cuts off KENTA’s comeback attempt with a powerslam counter. KENTA evades a suplex and delivers a dropkick, then follows up with another to drive Takaiwa to the outside, and then does a springboard drive out in the front row towards him.

KENTA tries a head-scissors from the apron, but Takaiwa just catches and drops him on the padded floor with a Powerbomb, then follows that up with a Brainbuster too, apparently gonig for a count-out victory. He changes his mind, forcing KENTA back in the ring on the count of 17. It can’t be stated enough how a 20-count is superior in every way to a 10-count.

KENTA tries blocking Takaiwa on the top rope, but eats a Release Super Gordbuster for his trouble, followed by a Flying Elbow Drop on his back, following up on the minor damage from the earlier Boston Crab. Takaiwa then applies a Texas Clover Leaf, but KENTA reaches the ropes. He signals he’s going for the finish, but KENTA rolls him up and his a Hurricanrana bridge for near-falls. Takaiwa can’t believe a lariat doesn’t finish him either.

KENTA drives Takaiwa off the top rope and goes for a top rope strike, but gets caught and put in another Texas Clover Leaf. Takaiwa cuts off a comeback attempt and hits a Death Valley Driver, but KENTA scouts another Texas Clover Leaf attempt, applying a Small Package for a near-fall. KENTA evades a lariat and drops Takaiwa with something resembling a Lifting Reverse STO. KENTA doesn’t have enough strength in his legs to put Takaiwa down with a Bridged German Suplex.

KENTA continues to impress, delivering a Super Frankensteiner on the veteran, but makes the mistakes of going for it again, getting caught. However, KENTA counters a suplex attempt to deliver a Falcon Arrow and an O’Connor Roll near-fall. More lariats aren’t enough for Takaiwa to win either, and he signals for his finish again, hitting a Mochizuki Bomb and immediate Death Valley Driver for the win.

A damn good opener for this PPV and damn good intro for KENTA on this journey. He’s got a bright future in the juniors division, and there are some stars in the American indies I wouldn’t mind seeing him collide against. Rating: ***3/4

Unfortunately, the acclaimed rematch a year in the making between Naomichi Marufuji and Naohiro Hoshikawa doesn’t appear to be available to stream anywhere online. But KENTA vs. Takaiwa is more than enough to pick up the slack of Ian Rotten’s white-trash, dog-and-pony federation in this chapter. Hopefully, the next edition of the Lapsed Midwesterner is better. For now, it’ll spotlight another three-way involving Punk and Eddie, but I know not to count on it and I wouldn’t be surprised if I change my mind and don’t even bother spotlighting it.

As for this journey’s next chapter, we head over to the Steel City to bring another promotion along for this journey in its inaugural biggest annual tournament. Like a road map too, we head eastbound on I-90 and catch I-76 to the eastern part of the Pittsburgh area, then take a little detour down south for a dream match that ROH and other prominent indies never got around to booking. It’s our final stops on the way back to Philadelphia’s Murphy Rec Center for The Lapsed ROHBot Flagship.

See you next time with the first edition of The Lapsed Indy Cartel.