Wednesday, 29 July 2009

ECW: 28th July 2009

Video recap of the title change at Night of Champions to begin. I enjoyed the match as much as I'm ever going to enjoy a Tommy Dreamer non-gimmick match, as it was worked at a good pace and Christian led him (probably) through a textbook competitive face vs. face match.

First match is another Burchill vs. Reks match. So, Reks is the big guy who has high flying offence. He's Mark Jindrak or Sean O'Haire. Burchill has a great mean attitude and matches in with a no-nonsense moveset. He makes Reks offence look good too. He seems like a veteran guy putting over a green guy in a short TV match, except he's at the other end of his career. He needs to be given an opportunity.

Kozlov has a squash, mainly I would guess while they wait to start his ECW title feud. At least, I hope that's what's happening, rather than a dull power feud with Ezekiel Jackson. Of course, if this all turns into a homoerotically-charged courtship ritual, I am SOLD.

This week, Goldust is putting over Sheamus, who needs a competitive match to decide if he's any good. Actually, this ended up more as a competitive squash, with Sheamus cutting off most of Goldust's comebacks quite quickly. Goldust is so old-school in getting the audience involved in the match. I see little details in Sheamus' performance that bode well - the facial mannerism, taking time to sell the strike to the lip. Maybe if he could just become a little bit less blinding my eyes.

It is just wrong how much I get excited when I hear Christian's music. Damn you catchy emo-metal. Damn you. But it mean's Christian is in a wrestling match, and that's always good. I'm ashamed to admit how much joy I get from watching the dorkiness of Zack Ryder. Unlike most guys given the arrogant narcissist gimmick, I'm getting the underlying insecurity of the character that makes it more relatable. He has a catchphrase because he thinks he needs a catchphrase to be a big star (regardless of how meaningless it is), he trys to talk tough but he's using out-of-date terms like "bro", he wears an outlandish set of tights hoping to be like the coolest people who wear odd combinations and make them work (and he looks like he's trying to hard). It's done perfectly because of how seriously he takes all this stuff which is oestensiably ludicrous. Then, beneath all that is a perfectly effective wrestler, which stops the thing being purely comedy.

Deep psychoanalysis aside, I enjoyed this match a lot. They get a surprising amount of time, and they use it well, with Christian dominating moreso than he often does, playing off the idea that Ryder isn't a serious contender. I love how slick his low-impact mat stuff is - he exudes control in the early going. He takes a customary bump to the outside, setting up the heat section with Ryder working the ribs and Christian selling it throughout. The finish is good as it gave the impression of both a hard-fought victory, putting Ryder over, but with Christian hitting a series of signature moves uncountered at the end, it also felt like a the better man won, and that Ryder still has some improving to do before he can move to the next level.

Even I'm surprised about the amount I found to write on the main event. Is it possible to overanalyse things? Tune in next week for my eighteen part thesis on that very question.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

WWE: Superstars 23rd July 2009

Back to the one match from each brand format this week, and the show is a good one.

Christian vs. Regal is the match of the week, and I would expect nothing less. It has all the things that both guys bring to your ten-minute TV match - a few brief mat exchanges, a big Christian bump (over the rope, headfirst onto the apron, then to the outside) setting up the middle heat section with loads of intensity from Regal, consistent selling from Christian throughout and nice strikes from both guys (Christian steps up this side of his repetoire with a bunch of stiff elbows). Hoping against hope for a longer match - I keep waiting for something to be better this year than the first Swagger-Christian title match, and so far, nothing is.

I also liked the Bourne-Noble match, and had it been longer, may have been in contention for match of the week. Noble keeps preventing the shooting star, making for a nice little theme of the match. Bourne always seems like a guy willing to throw in a bunch of spots from different styles - I always enjoy his lucha-y armdrags - and Noble will bump around for a high flyer. I wish he was pushed to the level he was at in 2002.

The main event is the weakest of the show, as I find myself increasingly going off Morrison, and his interpretative dance offence. Especially that weak looking Pele kick, which I would happily pay to never see again. Sure, it looks pretty, but it barely grazes most of the time, and there's no way a kick from that angle can ever have any force compared to say, a punt. His knee strike is good, however. I've never dislike Kane as much as some people - he seems to be able to have non-offensive matches with people of all sizes, which is an asset for a big guy. Overall, this was OK for what it was.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

ECW: 21st July 2009

Yoshi Tatsu vs. Regal is a good opener. Yoshi continues to develop the sort of personality that will help him get over with an American audience. Regal is great here - there's his opening taunt ("I don't like to foreigners") and his great looking strikes, but more than anything he's one of the best guys for making wrestling looking like actual combat and real effort. At least two of Yoshi's kicks look good, including the finisher - I assume this is because Regal is a man and demanded to be kicked in the head before the match.

The rest of the show is really just filler, and I'm struggling to think of much of interest to say. The Jackson match isn't even an entertaining squash. Goldust and Benjamin's match is fine but unremarkable - the finish was a bit flat, but the rest was textbook undercard five minute made-for-TV stuff. I'm more interested in Burchill and his offence, than I am in Tyler Reks and his blandness, but that's not where the booking staff are.

I'm glad to be able to say that they in fact do know roughly what they are doing with Abraham Washington, who now seems confident in a heel persona. But this isn't a main event or anything making me wanting to watch the PPV more than I would do already because of my new-found Christian fandom. I watch ECW because they do focus on the wrestling. When over ten minutes of a forty five minute show is taken up with chat, I feel like I'm wasting my time. Looking forward to Superstars, though.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A Trio of Trios: Cerebros Terribles vs. Dinastia Navarro (part 1)

Cerebros Terribles are Black Terry, Dr Cerebro and Cerebro Negro, and have been teaming together since 2008. Black Terry is, at this point, the guy I would most happily knock over my grandmother to watch. I mean, I'm not all that keen to do it, but if someone tells me that I am definitely going to have to knock her over, then there had better be some Black Terry professional wrestling behind her. Otherwise, it would just be wrong. Dinastia Navarro is Negro Navarro and his two sons, Trauma I and Trauma II. Black Terry vs. Negro Navarro would be the match I need to see in 2009. Anyway, someone loves me, because a bunch of their matches have appeared (and my grandmother remains blissfully unassaulted). Let's put them together.

All these matches are basically round four hundred and fifty two (and three and four) in their series of "Who's the greatest?". First one is from March 28th of this year. Primera caida is pretty much all on the mat. Terry starts out with Trauma 1.5 (I.V?) - I have no idea which is which, so I take their expected value, for five minutes all on the mat, and then Navarro comes in for another five minutes with Dr Cerebro. Terry's and Navarro's mat sections are very different though, and play to each guy's strengths. Trauma is game, and knows some nice stuff, and isn't lazy selling submissions, but Terry is leading him through the transitions and creating a competitive encounter on his own. There are loads of real nice little touches - he finds a complicated submission, but only holds it for a few seconds because of a sore leg from the previous bit. It's not Terry's most spectacular matwork ever, but I still find him compelling working with a less experienced guy.

Navarro is matched up against a much more experienced guy in Dr. Cerebro, and they engage in a back-and-forth battle of one-upsmanship. The transitions and level of complexity are much higher here - a number of Navarro's holds fabulously intricate. The last few exchanges up the intensity - Navarro counters one Cerebro hold with a version of his own that's slightly more elaborate, and then they properly hit the mat (rather than exchanging standing holds) for the last couple of holds and counters. They finish the fall with some rope-running from the Traumas and a couple of awkward moves - this is a slightly abrupt end to an otherwise excellent fall.

Terry and Navarro start out the second fall, which eschews all mat stuff in favour of brawling. They roll outside for a brief flurry from Navarro and a standoff and you really want to see more. What we get after is a pretty simple rudo beatdown fall, which is fine, with all of the Navarro's losing out to double teams and effective offence from Los Cerebros. This lead to the third fall which carries on in the same way until it all spills to the outside and we get another brief glimpse of Terry and Navarro brawling. Navarro throws some really great rights, Terry is ducking with jabs, Navarro boots Terry into the ring chairs - felt and looked really genuine. Overall, I think this comes in as being really good, but not really great. The first fall is great, and the second two are well done, with brief glimpses of hopefully what 2009 has in store.

I'll skip over the second match (the rematch from the following week) and move onto match three, which is on IWRG's TVC Deportes show from April 16th, in the next post. I can no longer find the April 23rd match in full, which up to this point was my favourite of the series, so I'll have to substitute in something else down the line.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

DRAGON GATE - Infinity 138!


Dragon Kid, Taku Iwasa & Akira Tozawa vs. Masato Yoshino, BxB Hulk & Naoki Tanizaki

Short and sweet trios action designed to get Taku over on his big return. It did just that as he looked like a beast finishing Tani with a series of lariats and a Noshigami. The interaction between Kid and Yoshino in this was as friggin awesome as ever, and made my pants just a tad moist in anticipation of the DGUSA show in Philadelphia. Post match saw Iwasa challenge Yoshino for the Triangle at World. He accepted. Tozawa screamed.... alot.

Akebono vs. Gamma

Well this ruled, but honestly would you expect anything different. Highlights include Akebono getting the Evian Treatment with an assist from KAGE, Gamma beating Bono over the head with the water bottle, Gamma attempting a big scoop slam on Bono, Bono returning the Evian Treatment in kind, a kendo stick tug of war (which Gamma lost), many squishings, sarcastic clapping by Bono and many more squishings.

Phenomenal match. I demand a Best Of 51 Series between the two.

Open the Brave Gate Title, No Ropes Match: CIMA © vs. Kenichiro Arai

Araken looked asleep as per usual and he started the match by just standing in front of CIMA and letting him kick the shit out of him, like me when I play my 6 year old cousin in PS2 wrestling games. Then out of nowhere Arai dodged a kick and CIMA nailed the post, PSYCH! Fine way to get the heat. The heat consisted of throwing CIMA outside the ring, holding him while a pantsless Cyber Kong poured whiskey down his throat, then duct taping him to the ring post. Pantsless man, forced alcohol consumption, duct tape..... sounds like your average date.

Anywho, CIMA was counted out and Arai was the new champ. Fans weren't down with this. As Real Hazard tried to exit stage left, Big Baby Bono cut them off at the pass and demanded a restart. So a restart we got. We got more RH and W5 interference than you can shake a stick at, and many many props came into play. First we had this little trolly thing that both men took things flying out of the ring on (this looked to fuck CIMA up), we had a spanner which Arai put in his wrist tape, we had a ladder which Arai used to channel Terry Funk and then Kanda used for an awesome John Woo and of course we had much shenanigans surrounding Araken's beer bottle.

Finish was pretty amazing to be honest. About 6 men held together a structure of tables and ladders that I'm not going to even attempt to describe, and then CIMA jumped off another ladder onto the structure which was on top of Araken. So cool. One Schwein and one Meteora (off a post) later and CIMA retained the Brave Gate.

Post match Doi challenged CIMA for a double title match at the main event of World.

Overall I enjoyed this show. It was very much on the gimmicky side of things, but I don’t mind that every once in a while. Especially when it’s entertaining, and this was.

Infinity 138 - 7.5/10

ECW: 14th July 2009

Pretty good TV, this one. The opener was good. Not a high end Christian match, owing more the the high standard he has set this year, but another in his on-going series of TV matches based on top notch body-part selling. His big bump this week was another off the top buckle following a Shelton kick. I love big bumps that become the story of the match, rather than just a quick shock, and Christian does it every week. Aside from that, I liked Shelton using his top rope leap for a purpose outside of flashy gymnastics.

The rest of the show had shorter matches. Yoshi Tatsu comes out really energised, which is exactly what he needs to do. He and Burchill matched up well - I'm hoping there's now an opening for Burchill now Swagger has gone. Yoshi falls off the rope going for his SPIN FLY KICK, and if that wasn't a deliberate botch, then they dealt with it superbly - Burchill was straight in there with a backdrop driver, and then manufactured an argument with the referee allowing Yoshi the chance to hit his finish. Nice work.

Goldust and Zack Ryder have a non-offensive match. Goldust is doing a version of his character that is playing more to the crowd than before - it's a nice blend of allowing the inevitable nostalgia without overshadowing the guys he will mainly be escalating by being a far more interesting. Can't generally go wrong with a healthy Dustin, and if you watch how fast he moves between the ropes, I think it's safe to say he is that.

This show was about escalating Koslov as much as anything else, on commentary during the Christian match (which was awesome) and destroying Dreamer in about four minutes. It was delighted to see Christian running in after the main event still selling the arm. It's really great to see that sort of pride in the work. This ECW stint will be a great opportunity to reset and rebuild the Koslov character after being built up and then beaten by HHH, Taker and Michaels to further their stories. I like how his character is no longer just a machine, and is being allowed some personality. Got to love the smirk.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

ECW: 9th July 2009

The ECW undercard is a little underwhelming at the moment, post-shuffle. There's the Bella Twins doing a twin gimmick where they switch places, at the expense of Katie Lea, who actually is worthwhile in the ring. Ezekiel Jackson cuts a pointless promo and has a squash match (he at least does a nice lariat). They waste my wrestling watching time with the Abraham Washington segment (I'm still hopeful that intentionally bad comedy gimmick, as evidenced by Dreamer's reaction, and the hairbrush). On the positive side, the first time someone punches him is going to get a fantastic reaction.

The Yoshi Tatsu-Shelton Benjamin match was a pretty decent little TV effort. Yoshi (already getting crowd support) seems to have half a moonset at the moment - his stuff into the finish was fine, but he had nothing earlier in the match, and his couple of bits look awkward. If they are looking for another Tajiri, he's going to need to develop some personality. Tajiri was great at interacting, without words, with the crowd. Benjamin was solid here - I much prefer him as he currently is, with more ground attack and more character than as the Man Who Jumps.

You have got to love Christian's entrance being accompanied by a slack-jawed child shot (this is how I look at home during Christian matches also). I hope that makes his next Titantron video. I enjoyed this a lot - Christian bumps around, including a full-force body drop over the ropes to the outside, and Kozlov looks good on offence. I'm also enjoyong some of his facials - Christian's first punch was met with a great look of shock and anger. Nothing particularly high end, especially relative to Christian's better matches this year, but the seven minutes this got implies they have a pretty great longer match in there for a later date.

But please, don't ever ask Tommy Dreamer to do colour commentary again. Sometimes, when he talks, it makes me wish that I was listening to the relative coherence and meaningfulness of Sarah Palin's resignation speech. Example (paraphrased): "Tommy, what are Christian's assets? Tommy?" "Sorry, I'm lost in this action. I'm scouting these guys as well" "What are his assets was my question" "His assets? Everything". Great scouting, there. Also, even if it's easy, don't let your commentary team make him look like more ridiculous by discussing how dumb his answers to their questions have been. He's still the champion.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

DRAGON GATE - Infinity 137!

This weeks Infinity featured action from the 6/11 show eminating from Korakuen Hall. The main event was the much anticipated Open The Dream Gate match between partners Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino.


1. Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi vs. CIMA & Gamma

Real Hazard's Twin Gate wasn't on the line here, but the story was that if the boys from W-5 won then they'd be getting a title shot soon. Match was pretty decent. Lots of interference as one would expect. I feel like I haven't seen CIMA and Genki wrestle in ages, and I had forgotten how well they mesh. The action down the stretch was alot of fun as DR. MUSCLE of all people hit the ring seemingly to attack CIMA, but suddenly he laid out RH with lariats and unmasked to reveal Susumu Yokosuka. Gamma rolled up Ryo for the pin. Post match Saito and Susumu set up a single match for the next Korakuen.

2. Naruki Doi (c) vs. Masato Yoshino - Open The Dream Gate

Easily the biggest match on Infinity this year, as SPEED MUSCLE EXPLODES. Let's hope they're not calling each other out in raps 20 years from now.

The early stages were tentative, telling the story that both wrestlers knew how dangerous the other was. Doi was the first one to raise the pace by hitting a huge topé to the rail. Yoshino hurt his leg in the process and Doi went to work for the next several minutes. Yoshino was looking in trouble until he saw an opening to attack Doi's arm. So we had both guys selling injuries and taking turns of having control. It was good stuff so far.

Things got more heated as it started to come down to strike exchanges. The crowd sensing the difference in the action started to get more and more into it and popped big for some close nearfalls. They were both attempting signature moves, but being partners, each guy knew what was coming and had a counter. Doi was the first one to bust out something new, countering a Lightning Spiral by hitting a BIG running turnbuckle Powerbomb. As he looked to finish Yoshi off with his Muscular Bomb, the Speed Star regrouped and finally hit his Lightning Spiral for a big nearfall.

They were at a stalemate when they met on the top turnbuckle to duke it out. Yoshino surprisingly outstruck the more heavy hitting Doi and went for his spring board Sling Blade but Doi caught him and hit a huge Avalanche Doi555. Yoshino, fueled by adrenaline, jumped right back to his feet saying "COME ON PARTNER, IT'LL TAKE MORE THAN THAT". They traded more nearfalls with Yoshino coming scary close with various Torbellino cradles. He then locked in the Sol Naciente submission but Doi fought out and hit an awesome Release Tiger Suplex. He followed it up with a Bakatare Sliding Kick, a series of slaps and another Bakatare for the pin.

Phenomenal match. Really smartly worked in the early stages and out of this world action down the stretch. ****1/2 if I'm to put a rating on it.

As the show went off the air we got brief clips of mcKZ and Naoki Tanizaki miscommunicating and then making up, and then we had our weekly visit with the Open The Handsome Gate champions plugging various happy fun things to us.

Infinity 137 - 9/10
(Best of the year, pretty much all due to the main)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

WWE: Superstars 2nd July 2009

Ah, Superstars. My favourite of cross-branded WWE TV show. Santino vs. The Brian Kendrick is the Raw match. It would be good if they could make Santino a little more rounded as a comedy character now he's been turned, mainly by the crowd, babyface. His schtick as a heel was funny enough that the audience began to cheer for him - I don't see any need for him to switch to a different routine. The match is entertaining for the three minutes it gets, and both guys are hard to not enjoy.

Smackdown match number one is John Morrison versus Charlie Haas. John Morrison is also a guy whose babyface turn has led to the a complete change in character. It''s just lazy writing for someone to basically press refresh on the attitude, where a gradual and justifiable evolution is so much more rewarding. I'm also not as convinced by him as a singles guy as I was in his team last year - sure, he gets to do all his impressive flippy offence, but he doesn't feel like the guy putting good matches together. I liked his match last week with Punk, but not as much as some others, and I'd place any credit for it with Punk. Anyway, this match is another example - he takes a nasty bump chest first onto the steps, but ignores it soon after to hit his gymnastic stuff. It's like the bump is just another way of being flashy, rather than contributing anything to the match.

The ECW match is the debuting Tyler Reks, who I think was or is the FCW champion against Zack Ryder, a guy whose character at least is somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Match is too short (again) to really get into, but I will note that for all his goofiness, Ryder has some perfectly decent offence, and you can't fault him for effort.

The WWE have apparently jumped onto the latest fad, which is called reading. What ever happened to good old fashioned listening to words? That clip from the gauntlet match on Raw really makes me want to watch that match on Raw without already knowing what happened on Raw.

CM Punk vs. Edge is the main event. Of the many great things in this Punk slow-burn heel turn is how JR is utterly convinced by everything Punk says and does - here completely siding with the eye injury explanation for the Bash title match. All that stuff I said about lazy writing in turns earlier...completely does not apply to Punk. JR also redefines the word undisputed: "Undisputed means they go to any brand to defend their tag titles". No it doesn't. You can all see what I have done there. The match is passable and not particularly exciting, but it serves its purpose with the finish. I said it of the Bash and it applies here too - this is the first time I've seen the WWE use these non-finishes to actually achieve something. Usually, a DQ in a title match on PPV is used because the writers want to feud to continue for a bit, but don't want the babyface to lose. Here, the finish still draws the ire of the crowds, but channels it towards Punk's on-going character development. And the best thing about it all - it all makes complete sense. His motivation, his actions, the response from commentators - it all follows on naturally and is completely consistent. The best heels, as Foley noted, are the ones that truly believe that they are right.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

ECW: 30th June 2009

So, ECW was robbed of loads of people that have made me watch this show - Finlay, Mark Henry, Bourne, Hart Dynasty and Jack Swagger. But they've gained Regal. Let's see how this effects things.

Show kicks off with Benjamin against the first new guy, Yoshi Tatsu, who I have no idea about. You can tell he's Japanese though, because of the his tights. Shelton's all racist taunting, and the crowd is all racist laughing along with it, and Tatsu is all kicks to the ear and wins the match. What we have learned: bigotry gets you kicked in the ear. I don't mind the racist stuff, by the way, especially as it is being used as an obvious heel technique. It's when it used for cheers.

Sheamus (SOS for the other person that ever watched an Irish Whip Wrestling) finally debuts in the next match, under the gimmick of the whitest man in wrestling. That may not be correct. He looks impressive, but it's enhancement stuff, so we get to see his big kick and his Rock Bottom backbreaker. You know what would have made him look better? An albino opponent.

Main event is really the only bit I can care about, Dreamer and Christian vs. Regal and Kozlov. Regal looks like such a glorious bastard coming to the ring, as ever. I enjoyed their opening exchanges just fine, but the bit where Christian makes to jump to the outside onto Kozlov, and Regal runs around and taunts Christian to dive onto his waiting fist was delightful. This is a tag match where they aren't messing with the formula, and the end result is completely acceptable. They do a fake heat section and a real one, with Christian doing all the selling - joy. Both men do some nice arm stuff - I liked Regals knee drops and when he rolled the knee over the forearm, and I liked the elbow drop by Kozlov where the elbow came in from the side, to hit the arm.

Tommy Dreamer, it occurs, is really being made to just acceptable by his opponents - his offence is pretty weak, and his timing is usually out. I think his lifetime achievement award title run should probably end soon. This establishes the new top heels, and I love the celebration at the end, with Regal glaring at Kozlov behind his back, before smiling and laughing with him when Kozlov turns around. Part of Regal's charm is his facials, which are detail to the point of being cartoonish. He comes across, not as a wrestling heel, but as a wrestling villain. Ponder on that.