Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A (possible) Night of Champions 2010 liveblog

21st September, 7.34pm: Tell me. Is this live-blog-several-days-later concept I wheel out for WWE PPVs working? Does anyone like it?

7.35pm: (Or me? Does anyone like me? Maybe if people got to know me better...)

7.36pm: So, I'm watching this PPV, having actually sat down and watched some recent WWE TV. I'm excited for Big Show vs. Punk, and Miz vs. Danielson. I am not excited for the world title matches. No Christian match, which is a shame because he's been on a great run since July - his matches with Drew Macintyre have been some of the best things in US wrestling this year.

7.37pm: (I had macaroni cheese for dinner, and I am in the process of making some tea.)

7.39pm: Show starts. Picture flash. Words are ominous.

7.44pm: Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston. Why is this happening again? Dolph has managed to carry something half-decent out of Kofi in past months, but I'm tiring of it.

8.04pm: That was OK. Kofi didn't do much that was offensive, and Dolph was fun on offence and bumped pretty big for a few of Kofi's spots (particularly the outside body press). Dolph has a couple of really nice little touches within his repetoire. I like how he scrambles for a pin after doing some move with an obvious urgency. Also, he works the sleeperhold in very well, capitalising on an opportunity with an almost pounce-like motion.

8.07pm: (I've just had some Coke, and I'm wearing an Emperor t-shirt)

8.10pm: Punk vs. Show next. Well, they are embracing Punk's home support then. Kind of cool. Punk's on mic. He loves Chicago.

8.11pm: Wait for it...

8.14pm: Just a great promo. Undiluted, self-righteous Punk is as good as mic work gets.

8.20pm: Man, I wish that wasn't just five minutes, because it was tremendous fun. Obviously, it's hard to book a long small heel vs. monster face, but this packed a lot of nice stuff in. I love Punk's stiff knees, Big Show's bodyshots, the slingshot senton to the outside (and Punk counting Show out and praying for him to stay down), and the spear on a mid-air Punk.

8.27pm: (I went for a swim this evening and earlier today I saw a crow.)

8.30pm: Miz vs. Daniel Bryan.

8.50pm: No thoughts as we went along, because I was completely absorbed. Tremendous match, probably the best thing I've seen so far this year, certainly in the US. There are two excellent performances here. Firstly, Bryan's selling of his injured arm and his fighting through the pain facials made this a really dramatic fight. Secondly, this is a match that has really sold me on the Miz. His arm work was all really nasty - the shoulderbreaker, the snap over the ropes and loads of other stuff which relentlessly targetted the arm all look great. In fact, both men brought loads of stiff offence and some stuff I've never seen in WWE before, like the lariat off the top. Some of the nearfalls absolutely had me, especially the two rollups and I loved the swerve finish (I was convinced they were going to do a bullshit DQ finish).

8.53pm: Also, great booking, great crowd heat, great stuff on commentary. And how satisfying is it to see a seven month long storyline paid off that well?

8.56pm: Cena is a slick promo, smart, funny (but not desperately so) and the sort of confident that wins over parts of an otherwise hostile crowd.. He also make a refreshing change of pace from the somewhat uninspired intensity of the other guys.

9.10pm: I shall go and do some tasks.

9.12pm: (I tidied the kitchen and I'm sure there were some others tasks.)

9.41pm: Diva's match. One thing I really like about the WWE women's division is the writing of storylines and characters which capture the subtle tensions, bitternesses and jealousies that groups of women experience. Case in point: Layla looking like thunder.

9.49pm: Well, it's not like the match was particularly good, but I kind of enjoy McCool schtick at times, and I'm Lay-Cool aren't breaking up. Their best friend mean girls act is the best thing the division has been built around in years, plus its is frequently hilarious (especially when combined with Ki).

9.52pm: I find it impossible to be excited by another Kane vs. Undertaker match. The whole storyline is absurd and the language gets more and more ridiculous each time. Whose the demon? Who will eat whose soul? What will happen when the screaming nemesis of children's dreams meets the harrowing strangler from the dreaded abyss? Then you throw in the world title, so you get this wierd narrative on commentary where they alternate between hyperbole about one souless evil attempting to destroy an inhuman monster (who, by the way, was recently in a vegetative state in a hospital, like hospitals would be happy to admit one of those without comment: "Well, nurse, the problem seems to be in his black heart and the fact he doesn't respire". His health insurance must be a financial burden.) and a title match story, where they are competing for a belt. Why couldn't you just book a straight up title match? That would at least be novel at this stage.

10.09pm: Match was a slugfest, in the most onomatopoeiac sense of that word. Taker's glassy-eyed, worn down selling is good, but for all the stuff used to set up this match, it wasn't even particularly violent. Sometimes, it pays to be a little more understated.

10.11pm: (I'm very good at the A-minor chord and my bedtime is 12am)

10.14pm: Tag team gauntlet match.

10.20pm: Tyson Kidd is trying to get himself more over by amping up his highspots. It might work, his asai moonsault was impressive. Cole tries to help the process by calling him a 'bundle of energy'. As is everything.

10.30pm: Not really sure how to deal with these sorts of matches. You basically get a miniscule formula tag match at the beginning and the end, and a bunch of spots in the middle as they move from Harts vs. Usos to Bourne/Henry vs. Macintyre/Rhodes, one team at a time. Bourne looked great in this, his jumping rana seems physically impossible. Rhodes manages to completely kill the hot tag by bumping way to early for a Henry chop though - the crowd collectively deflates with how ridiculous it looked. The finish ended up being anticlimatic.

10.31pm: (I write regular wrestling reviews of noted wrestling blog Spin Fly Kick).

11.08pm: Just whistled through the main event six man elimination. This mostly worked OK through the booking, which a multi-man has to because there's never time to develop much through the wrestling. Jericho's early elimination, teasing of Cena-Orton, Barrett as outsider, Edge and Sheamus' brief alliance, the Nexus run in and the remaining falls concealed some fairly run-of-the-mill action. The finish seemed rushed - a minute long between the last two guys, but four minutes of Orton posing with the belt is weird.

10.10pm: One great match, a couple of decent things, but a lot of stuff that could have been better. But definitely watch the US title match.

11.11pm: (That concludes this comprehensive 'getting-to-know-me' session. I assume I am now much beloved.)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Michinoku Pro: 15th September 1994

A notable show, opening with SATO, Shiryu and and Terry Boy, marking the first appearance of the Kai En Tai stable. The latter is in the opening match. Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Terry Boy was one of my favourite M-Pro matches from 1993, and this is the rematch (or something, because it's 14 months later). There's a few knocks against this - the opening brawl feels like late 90s hardcore title material, with too much walking and not enough punching people. You get a sense of the changing dynamics of the promotion, with Terry Boy being in control for most of it and getting the better of Shinzaki with repeated attacks to the arm and counters of his trademark moves into armbars. Shinzaki eventually goes for a chair and opens Terry up leaving a large bloody gash over his left eye for the rest of the match. This is an interesting transition match. By the end of the show, Terry is pretty much working rudo, but here he is still slightly the underdog, and Shinzaki resorts to weapons to take control of the match in a typical heelish move. Yet it's a more aggressive Terry throughout - less sympathetic, more vicious on offence.

With all the focus on the new stable, Great Sasuke vs. Turako is heavily clipped. It starts from Turako's tope, then Sasuke does his no-hand somersault tope, then Turaki cheats to get ahead, then Sasuke comes back and wins (with a cross face chickenwing, somewhat unexpectedly). It's all solid, but this is a match missing a large chunk of it's body, and hard to judge.

Super Delfin and TAKA Michinoku v SATO and Shiryu was an excellent way to launch the Kai En Tai stable. It's part-angle really, a twenty minute rudo beatdown with a stretcher job for Delfin and a DQ finish when they throw the ref aside. It's also the first televised match featuring SATO the bruiser, rather than SATO the impossibly athletic heavy guy. There's no matwork or rope-running or dives here, just chops, kicks and punches designed to look as damaging as possible. Those chops were wild and great. The beating TAKA takes is really something, and his mini-comeback, featuring the no-hand plancha, completely had the crowd (and me). It was borderline cathartic as he made a two-on-one comeback - only for it to be snuffed out by a near-impossible mismatch (or, more accurately, a dropkick to the back of the head). The DQ was moments later, which was sensible, because the whole thing had acheived it's purpose and there was no way to improve upon it with another extended beatdown. Great stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing how TAKA ends up in the group after this.