Friday, January 30, 2015

SHIMMER Volume 53 (4/6/2013)

It's almost the second anniversary of SHIMMER Volume 53 and our country is ready to celebrate!  I'd forgotten that I bought this until I installed the WWNLive thing on my Roku.  I remembered being disappointed by the main, but that's about it, so it's clearly time for a rewatch. 

Amazing Kong vs. Mia Yim

Mia does not look nearly mortified enough before the match and this makes me worry.  Kong's offense here is really simple and capitalizes on her size advantage—stuff like avalanches in the corner and clotheslines.  Me gusta.  I also like Yim struggling to pull Kong up from a sitting position.  It shows laudable thought into the physics of wrestling.  But please send back your physics degree, Mia Yim, because later in the match, she German suplexes Kong.  It looks ridic as hell and took me right out of the match.  Even my theory of alternate wrestling universes cannot cover for this.  The match was pretty standard opener fare, but the suplex thing really got on my nerves.

Serena Deeb comes out to give a speech about coming back from an injury and is immediately beset by Jessicka Havok, Nevaeh, and Sassy Stephie.  Allison Danger and Leva Bates to the rescue!  Dave Prazak brings some welcome logic to wrestling commentary when he insists that "it's time to press charges".  Allison Danger logically argues instead that the invaders should pay for their crimes by wrestling a match.  The most hilarious thing Allison Danger has ever said happens here: "Get to the back, get some gear on!"  I'm docking SHIMMER 20 points for not showing Jessicka Havok running around backstage looking for something that fits or maybe a seamstress frantically trying to finish ring gear.  F-.

Cherry Bomb & Kimber Lee vs. Shazza McKenzie & Veda Scott

Veda & Shazza win the match by coming out to Robyn, but then they wrestle anyway.  I'm used to delightful Kimber Lee from Chikara, so it's weird to see her as a mean girl here.  I feel that wrestling events happen in their own universes (like the WWE Universe is quite literally a real universe) and this explains why a guy can be Little Richard in one place and a wrestling boxer in the other.  I prefer the Chikara universe version of Kimber Lee.  I haven't seen Cherry Bomb before, but I'm digging her.  She's very expressive and vocal and that works in this match's favor.  McKenzie's offense seems a little off here and a lot of the stuff they do is pretty contrived and requires lots of waiting by the presumptive victims.  

Evie vs. Kalamity vs. Rhia O'Reilly vs. Chistina Von Eerie vs. Yuu Yamagata

No screens!  I hate multi-entity matches most of the time.  O'Reilly and Evie bring flags to the ring.  Christina Von Eerie looks like one of the girls who hops trains to get to Maryland Death Fest every year.  She's way more athletic than a true crustie, though, and I was really impressed by how well this match flowed together.  I'd probably dig it much more if any two of these ladies were doing a singles match, but what we have is fast-paced without degenerating into people very blatantly being knocked outside and standing there like a Sleepaway Camp corpse for ten minutes at a stretch.  

Ayumi Kurihara vs. Mercedes Martinez

No screens!  Mercedes has new hair.  I love the way that both wrestlers convey damage here.  Mercedes is especially great at these Rocky Balboa-esque drained facial expressions and physical swaying.  Just excellent.  Here's another difference between the SHIMMER universe and our own: you can use chairs in matches and not get DQ-ed as long as they're used outside the ring.  Mercedes pops Kurihara a few times and the referee basically wags his finger like Danzig about it.  Thankfully, nothing else in the match forces us to see the wires and zippers of professional wrestling.  Kurihara's dropkicks are an easy highlight of the match, especially her lovely half-rotation missile ones.  I loved the ending stretch a lot, with Martinez craftily slinking out of a submission and following up with two high-impact moves.  Good stuff!

Leva Bates, Allison Danger, & Serena Deeb vs. Jessicka Havok, Nevaeh, & Sassy Stephie

Spoiler: they found ring gear.  Danger and Bates come out dressed as Jay and Silent Bob.  Nice to see that they're so irate about Deeb being violently attacked that they're cosplaying about it.  Daffney accompanies them. [interlude: I accidentally cut Daffney off from a bathroom at an IWA-MS show once.  She was saying something to a girl as I was walking by and I didn't parse that it was, "I'll sign it as soon as I go to the bathroom" until I'd locked the door.  But at that point, I couldn't go back out and say, "Wait, this isn't the cloak room!" or something.  So I just tried to rush, but Daffney still glared at me when I was leaving.  Sawry.]  Epic Amber Gertner burn on the cosplay: "This reminds me of some movie I watched on laser disk once."  I like the chain wrestling in the Nevaeh/Serena section.  Nevaeh has a dumb name, but is clearly good in the ring.  Serena at least seems pissed off at Havok and their interactions are the best part of the match.  I'll have to check out whatever singles match eventually happened.  The worst part of the match is probably Havok squashing Leva Bates while Bates is wearing her Silent Bob fake mustache.  Certain camera angles make it look hideously creepy, like excerpts from a very perverted apartment wrestling video.  I hope there was no mad rush of dads in the audience to the bathroom after this contest.

Madison Eagles vs. Jessie McKay 

Australia is riven by civil war!   This alerts you that fun is happening right from the outset, when both gals try a cheap shot simultaneously.  Madison Eagles is funny as hell, biting Jessie's wrist and constantly tossing out wisecracks.  But the match itself is a blend of the light stuff and occasional epic-match peaks, like splattery powerbombs and  such.  It all gelled surprisingly well, though, and the structure of the match, with Eagles mostly killing McKay a lot, felt a lot like what Kong/Yim should have been.  Madison Eagles is obviously a tremendous wrestler.  It would be nice to see her in other places, since SHIMMER is on such a minimal taping schedule.

Kana & LuFisto vs. Allysin Kaye & Taylor Made vs. Nicole Matthews & Portia Perez vs. Tomoka Nakagama & Kellie Skater

Allison Danger on commentary: "Jessicka Havok was not allowed to leave the building until she signed to face Serena Deeb next week."  If SHIMMER didn't exist in its own universe, I'd think that makes no sense.  But!  This match.  The Kana/Nakagawa parts are pretty rad, as are Matthews and Perez inventively trying to avoid facing Kana.  This leads to a splendid Matthews vs. Perez portion where they do an Ebessan routine.  You will l o l.  Everything's gumdrops and kisses until Allysin Kaye refuses to show damage from vicious Kana kicks, to the point that it's noted in the commentary.  Boo-urns, but Nicole Matthews quickly does a better job of dying to cover up.  Creative finish with a bottle of water being utilized in lieu of Muta-style Asian venom glands.  As you've already read, multi- matches usually raise my ire, but this one was fine aside from the selling glitches.

Athena vs. Ayako Hamada

SHIMMER does a good job of recapping Athena's existing knee injury, just in case it comes into play during this match.  We start with mat wrestling and it's fine, particularly the facial expressions.  Athena works hard at conveying the story of the match, not just through displays of limb injury, but through her looks and gritted teeth.  Getting into the meat of the match, there's a nice lucha exchange midway as well as some cool jockeying for submissions.  Athena is very limber for a girl with her body type and proves it by delivering a knee to Hamada while she's being tied up in a standing position.  Athena is also an expert at being missile dropkicked and the finishing stretches of this are mostly about Athena being overwhelmed by her sager opponent.  Hamada lacks the kind of acting ability or expressive charisma that would make a TNA audience care, but she sure is a fantastic wrestler and seems to have an instinctive knowledge of what goes where in a match.  If Athena were peas, she would be black-eyed peas after the beating she takes from Hamada, but just when you think she's about to go down like a cuter, better Jesus at Calvary, the match takes an unexpected turn.  Super-solid match that deserved to be seen by a better, more lively crowd.

Cheerleader Melissa vs. Saraya Knight (cage)

In the recap, MsChif is wearing her own shirt.  I sigh about it.  I want to like MsChif, but this and the later Satyricon entrance music...I just don't know.  Anyways, Saraya Knight is very English and elegant and sounds much like Queen Elizabeth I must have sounded.  She terrorizes the dads in attendance on her way to the ring.  This didn't get as vocal a reaction as you'd expect from a cage match, but maybe it's because it's not arranged like a typical cage match with lots of big "oooh" cage spots.  It's definitely physical, but the interaction is very close, with lots of mat submissions and punching.  In a way, it's very MMA.  But also very pro rasslin', as when Saraya has Melissa down on the mat and then growls, "USA is shit!" and turns to leer at the camera like Pazuzu.  In a lot of ways, I think this would have been better without the cage, as it would have allowed some brawling on the outside.  This was the capstone of a long, long feud between these two and they brought the intensity, but they stayed so close together that maybe it was tough for the crowd to pick up on it.  Or maybe the crowd was just zombified.  They do come alive for a hurricanrana bit at the end and for the finale, so maybe more of that kind of showy stuff would have helped matters.  Execution from both ladies was superb and Cheerleader Melissa is still dangerously close to Dick Murdoch and Bull Nakano in my favorite wrestlers list.  I'll have to check out their other matches to see how they compare to this.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

HOODSLAM 3/7/2014 - Crossroads of Destiny - The Road to EnterTania

 It is always a good sign when a wrestling show opens by bragging about the theatre awards it has earned.  I've heard a lot about HOODSLAM, since I read the hipster internet all day long.  They provided a pretty snazzy Brian Kendrick vs. Dark Sheik match for the #rawlternative indy YouTube marathon recently.  So let's look at a randomly-chosen show from last year, apparently their set-up show for their showcase event, EnterTania.

The arena or whatever is hyper-dark.  I've heard HOODSLAM called "the opposite of WWE" and, in terms of aesthetics, that's accurate.  It looks like it was filmed in a womb, which I guess indy wrestling sort of is.  Your commentators are Broseph Joe Brody and El Flaco Loco.  Both have pleasant speaking voices and it really elevates the product.  Lots of salty language for those who relish all that.

Chupacabra (w/ Courtney Crimson) vs. Drake Younger

Courtney Crimson does a better job at faking pregnancy than most.  The Chupacabra/Courtney pregnancy thing gets jettisoned once the match begins.  The match is pretty solid.  Both dudes work hard and I was especially impressed with Drake showing the moves' effects mid-match.  Little touches like shaking his hands after he delivers chops really do a lot to gain audience involvement.  It does go a little too long for me after a pair of moves that really should be kills, but the crowd stays into it.  It didn't tell an epic story or anything, but it never degenerated into a move-trade fiesta, as sometimes happens in nowadays wrestling.  Drake Younger sadly left HOODSLAM after this and now works for a rival company.  "You can't waste any time when you're going against a fuckin' Mexican werewolf!"

Tag Gauntlet

This peaked for the wrong reasons at the beginning.  The first team out is "Superhero" Kevin Douglas and Moshpit Mike.   What kind of entrance music would you guess for Moshpit Mike?  Wrong, it's scratchy hip-hop.  He also has a hatchet man tattoo.  "Superhero" Kevin Douglas appears to be fucking sauced.  He demands a mic and then says, "Normally do!  Normally people think!  Marbelly things!  Normally people think that there's like some kinda heel promo or something..."  Their opponents are Rocky Penasco & Sexy Chino.  Sexy Chino is very petite, like a potato, and strips down as Kevin Douglas mumbles something about "Positive mental attitude!"  These early goings are a surreal disasterpiece in the Jackie Gayda tradition.  Kevin Douglas refuses to give Chino & Penasco any time at the reins and basically shrugs everything off like a methlab Road Warrior.  He cuts a promo about Drake Younger in the middle of his match for no reason, too.  Douglas and Mike advance and face Ken and Ryu.

Yep, that Ken and Ryu.  Fuck the copyrights!  Despite being video game legends, they don't get better treatment from "Superhero" Kevin Douglas.  "Don't no-sell like a dick!" commentator Joe Brody implores.  I loved the video game sound effects and graphics being woven into the match, so splendid.  Two more teams appear and this match goes for a very long time.  The beginning is such a spectacle that the straight wrestling that follows, while serviceable, seems a little bit like a letdown.

Sub-Zero (w/Queen Sindel and Princess Kitana) vs. Zangief

I remember these guys from video games, too!  I mean, I have no idea who Sindel is, but the rest of them are familiar.  The girl who plays Sindel is an excellent speaker.  She tosses off fancy college words like "sniveling" and "autocrat" without any stuttering or Obama/Triple H "uh"s.  So far, my favorite parts of HOODSLAM are when people talk!  Zangief is billed as "the Russian lover", so it's admirable that they're adding to his already-rich character.  The match is mostly short and nothing, but I suspect that it's there just to shift the tempo after the lengthy and drunk-filled tag gauntlet.  

Manimal & Soundwave vs. The Stoner Brothers 

The Stoner Brothers are, as you'd expect, Steinerish.  Rick-Scott wins my heart by saying, "When it's over and Scotty does the math"!  He did the fucking math!!!  Manimal wins my heart back by coming out to the theme song from Manimal including animal noises!!!!!~  Soundwave is unfortunately not Soundwave from The Transformers, but a portly black man instead.    I guess Transformers Soundwave could've been black, but definitely not portly.  This match is a Smokelahoma Iron Lung Challenge, which is sort of like that Necro Butcher/Corporal Robinson Tequila Shot Death Match from IWA-MS, only with "good Oakland purple" instead.  The Stoners are pretty rad.  At one point, Soundwave does a standing moonsault!  Otherwise, a fun enough brawl.

Drugz Bunny vs. Brittany Wonder
For a shot at HOODSLAM's main title.  Brittany Wonder: "not like other girls"/also super-cute.  Drugz Bunny: Immanuel Kant created this gimmick.  The energy of the fabu first match rears its pretty head again here.  We get brawling, dives, cutoffs, Brittany Wonder's splendid ass-based offense, Drugz Bunny's integration of the drugz thing into the match, et al.  I loved both warriors' selling mid-match, very good stuff there.  As was the commentary, such as "You can't keep down a coked-up rabbit!"  Wrestling-wise, this is the kind of thing I'd dig seeing more of.  Exciting and fun and it featured a move called the Cokeslam.  

Anthony & Johnny Drinko Butabi (Knights of the Roxbury) vs. Juiced Lee & Dark Sheik [Golden Gig tag champions]
Wasn't Night at the Roxbury some mid-2000s SNL skit?  Nostalgia is always terrible.  Lee and Sheik are partners who hate each other, which is a fine old wrestling tradition.  I'd love to see a team that hates each other and yet goes on to hold tag titles for like five years anyway, but it will probably never happen.  The announcers are really pushing this partner-animosity business, but the match mostly proceeds in straight fashion until the finishing stretch.  The wrestling was solid enough and led to a Dark Sheik vs. Juiced Lee match at EnterTania, so whee.

James C vs. Virgil Flynn III [Best Athlete in the East Bay award]
James C is a 20s mobster guy who ends sentences with "See?" like Edward G. Robinson.  Virgil Flynn is a smallish black dude who gets "Change the Battery Pack" flashing on the screen during his entrance.  And, indeed, the pack is changed because Virgil is pretty energetic.  I fear this is going to sound weird, but I really like James C's stuff in the ring because it's so basic.  Things like refusing to lock up or waiting a while after an offensive move to start shifting about.  So basic, but so good.  James C should put on a pair of Uggs and drink a pumpkin spice latte mid-match, hail the basics.  At one point, he nails a powerbomb off the second rope, but it's like he wants to put no effort into it and just lets gravity take Virgil down.  This is smart and awesome and should happen more often in the wrestling.  There were some things I didn't love.  Virgil Flynn gets so excited about winning the match that he tries this convoluted multi-jump indy DDT thing and forgets that it will look terrible and (more importantly) not wallop his opponent.  Enjoyable match and I'd like to see more James C.

Doc Atrocity, Big Van Faber, & Super Mutant Red Rhino 2099 vs. Chupacabra, Futurecabra, & El Flaco Loco
An impromptu six-man tag ends the night, as the Poison logo-colored Doc Atrocity insists that he is the true mayor of HOODSLAM.  Erstwhile commentator and mayor El Flaco takes issue and faces are fisted.  This was primarily just a way to set up Doc Atrocity vs. El Flaco Loco at EnterTania.  So there.

This is not going to be to everyone's tastes!  But if you have an appreciation for DDT or old snarky IWA-MS or the goofiest parts of GLOW or the most high-concept parts of Chikara, you might find something to love in HOODSLAM.  I'm planning on checking out EnterTania when I get done watching Black Emanuelle solve the world's problems with her vagina.  Will report back later.


For the 1-2 of you who stumbled in from Google or the movie blog, welcome.  The site looks sucky now, but the layout's probably going to change if I feel like changing it.  I'm mostly planning to use this diary blog to discuss the more obscure wrestling that I see, so no Royal Rumble reviews and certainly no Dean Ambrose slash fiction is on the way.  Try Tumblr instead!  

One other thing.  I use star ratings when I write about movies, so I see no reason to not use them for wrestling.  But these aren't workrate star ratings or whatever.  I don't really get how just doing a lot of moves necessarily equates to a good match.  So my ratings are going to reflect how entertaining/compelling/whatever I felt the match was.  Anything ***1/2 and up is probably worth seeing.  A **** match would be the Blair Witch Project of wrestling matches, if that helps.  

This blog has a long-winded name and it's derived from this movie.  It's fucking amazing.  Specifically the line "His theories of wrestling have been published in all the peer-reviewed journals!"