Saturday, February 28, 2015

CHIKARA National Pro Wrestling Day 2/8/2015

Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Fire Ant
Juan Francisco is maybe the best staller in modern pro wrestling.   His entrance is so prolonged that a timer appears on the screen as the fans in attendance scowl about it.  His entrance is longer than all diva matches since 2008 combined.  What an artist!  This show is my first look at Chikara's new in-house production, as they've moved away from using Smart Mark Video to tape, edit, and the like.  It's pretty impressive.  The editing is not too hyper, they shoot from interesting angles, and they now splice in elements ex post facto, like the timer or the subtitles during de Coronado's pre-match promo.

To the match.  Enjoyably basic headlock stuff to start, then Juan F. de C. avoids a Fire Ant plancha with a girly shriek.  De Coronado proceeds to bury himself in various fan laps, which doesn't save him from Fire Ant chops.  Juan eventually gains the advantage with some swank whips and back-centered attacks.  All's fair until some spinny thing gets messed up, then they recover with a leg sweep.  I like de Coronado staying on the back with the German suplex and whips into the buckle.  

Missile Assault Ant makes his presence felt by tripping up Fire Ant, allowing Juan to hit a slow and steady German suplex and gain the victory.  I guess we'll be seeing even more Colony versus Colony Xtreme Force in Chikara this season.  Decent enough opener.  I would like to see more de Coronado delaying in the ring, like maybe stomping on opponents until they get into just the right position for a chinlock.  I think he's one of the more fun "nu-Chikara" dudes, so I'm glad he's doing stuff with wrestlers who are not Ashley Remington.

The Bloc Party vs. The Osirian Portal
Amasis's WARRIORS-inspired Osirians shirt wins everything, cancel WrestleMania and the 2016 election.  This opens with dollops of comedy about which I wish to not speak.  As for the wrestling, the Boar mauls Ophidian in front of some children and Ophidian stays out there for a good long while, leaving Amasis to handle the majority of the match.  I wasn't crazy about most of this, but it was fine enough and had import to the future of Chikara's tag titles.  

Max Smashmaster vs. Shynron
I was a big fan of the old portly Max Smashmaster, but this new svelte one is okay, too.  Please don't be a terrible clash of styles, match.  And my pleas are not granted as we open with Shynron awkwardly evading Smashmaster charges.  Max gets dropkicked and lies there prone for a while as Shynron flips onto him.  Man.  At one point, they go outside and Shynron blatantly taps Max on the back to let him know that a flippy move is coming.  Yikes, might want to pick a different angle when you're editing stuff together, brah.  Things I liked here: Max doing power moves and energetically scrabbling for pins.  Things I didn't like: ungainly interactions just to get in hard-to-do cool moves (that means you, aborted spinning headscissors thing from the outside).  This was not the kind of big guy vs. small guy match I tend to like, it felt more like a tit-for-tat trading session than a match that told a story.  The story should always be little guy gets squashed and loses or barely survives, IMHO.

Drew Gulak vs. Ashley Remington 
Gulak wins the match by coming out to "Rainbow in the Dark".  I'm not confident that the Ashley Remington character has a lengthy life ahead.  It's fun, but I think there might have to be additions or alterations to the act pretty soon.  Anywayz, I really dug the emphasis on wrestling in this match.  Gulak does tons of submission-y business, which Remington escapes mostly through the use of elbows and punches.  "Nice guy brawler" Ashley Remington could definitely give the character some longevity.  Remington does the whole "break on one" thing, but then revisits it later in the match, when he backs off after Gulak falls to the apron.  Remington quickly realizes his mistake and goes back on the attack.  A++ great work, Ashley Remington!! :)  Everything until the very end was solid as heck.  I wasn't crazy about the finishing moments, but what can you do?  Lots of fun otherwise.

Los Ice Creams vs. Old Fashioned
I can be tolerant of wrestling comedy when it's done well.  Los Ice Creams delight and mortify young fans en route to the ring.  If Old Fashioned win the match, Los Ice Creams agree to join them in performing a scene from Shakespeare as a tribute to Princess KimberLee.  In America, we generally think it's silly to have things like princesses and rightfully so, but... 

Wow, ah-ooga, and yow.  This match was easy and breezy with lots of fun moments.  All four boy wrestlers are very adept at tickling ribs in the ring, but my fave part of the match might have been Bryce Remsburg's frantic arm waving.  In a shocking shock, Old Fashioned do indeed win the match and we get more acceptable comedy during the Shakespearean scene.  It's apparently a very abridged version of Romeo and Juliet, but you academics will be pleased by how well Jervis Cottonbelly has memorized the "Soft, what light" line.  But he is immediately upstaged by El Hijo del Ice Cream, who says, "This is the pinnacle of my wrestling career". 

Blaster McMassive vs. Mr. Touchdown
I feel more confident about this one than the Shrynon/Max match.  And my confidence is repaid, as Touchdown gets shoved and tossed all around the ring by the hulking McMassive.  Touchdown gains the advantage by inches, only by going for desperation moves like sleeper-style headlocks while on McMassive's back.  It's really heated and thoroughly fun until Max Smashmaster and Dasher Hatfield get involved to bring things to an abrupt end.  It sets up the main event, but I would have liked to have seen more of this!  

Princess KimberLee vs. Jenny Rose
Jenny Rose wins the match by being announced as "J-Ro".  I hope that there is some serious GIGLI influence in this contest.  They administer the poison early on with some waistlock trading, ending in both ladies falling to the mat as if the Earth was just hit by an asteroid.  But then things get tasty with some fetching armwork.  J-Ro cannot stop winning this match, as she does the AJW kick to the gut and rush to the ropes.  Takako Inoue is smiling down from heaven!  This is probably the first time a ref has ever said, "What do you say, Princess?"  But I hope that it becomes a thing for all wrestlers in submissions, not just KimberLee.  KimberLee is excellent at displaying pain or intensity through her facial expressions.  And things do get intense, as the women trade forearms and the crowd is way into it!  As with the last match, this is a bit too abbreviated and seemed to stop short just as it's reaching idyll.  But I do love KimberLee's alligator clutch.  It really stands out, in an era of finishing moves and submissions, to have a pin that's inescapable.  Very cool.

Flying Francis vs. N_R_G
Both guys in Flying Francis are named Francis.  N_R_G is comprised of Race Jackson, who is very peppy, and Hype Rockwell, who is sleepy, since he has to do all the driving.  Again, not sure that these characters have legs that will stride for years, but they're fun in small doses.  Flying Francis are very good at the bad-guy basics, like stalling and double teams.  God bless this match for showing Flying Francis attempting the same move twice and getting punished for it!   

This was pretty fun, aside from the terrible story on commentary about Koko B. Ware practicing dropkicks on horses' heads.  But there's still hope that a horse will kill and eat him, so perhaps justice will still be served.  Both teams are fun in the ring and Francis especially is pretty fabu in executing stuff.  The Lethal Injection is a move that severely tests my nerves, but one of the Francises does it as well as it could be done here.  Hype Rockwell has a cool move of his own, a swinging backbreaker that wins my heart and the match.  Dear Chikara, I'd like to see more of these teams, pls.

22 person tag match
It would be farcical to try to document the action of such a tussle, so let's cover the highlights.  Old faves Shane Storm and Shane Hawke make their Chikara returns here.  The match starts off structured like a cibernetico, but dissolves into chaos after the world's longest chain of chinlocks stretches from the ring through the building.  Chikara's current staff deliver some highlights: Mr. Azerbaijan's side slams and suplexes will never be not funny, and Oleg the Usurper's confused blinking after Shane Storm falls on him is a moment of the year.  But it's not all turmoil and blinking, as the narrative of Chikara is advanced in this match.  KimberLee is cornered by the Devastation Corporation.  They refuse to be a star and take out their jealousy on women's wrestling on her.  But Los Ice Creams come to her rescue!  Everybody loves Princess KimberLee!!  Meanwhile, UltraMantis Black makes an Overkill reference on commentary!  Excitement abounds, ironbound!  This was scads of fun and drew a warm reception from the crowd.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Assorted Dick Murdoch matches

I thought it might be fun to ditch the indies for a bit and dig into something more primordial.  Here's a clue to my secret identity: the first wrestling I ever saw was Mid-South back in the 80s (I was around 5-ish) and Dick Murdoch was one of the first wrestlers that ever struck a chord with me.  My memories of that time are fuzzy, so let's refresh them with some matches from a random volume of The Best of Dick Murdoch:

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Dick Murdoch (New Japan, 12/16/84)
I dug the hell out of the early goings, with both guys bringing the intensity to a collar and elbow.  They go straight into a headlock, which also wins my heart.  It's pretty cool to stick a side headlock here and not just make it a go-to slowdown move after something big.  Plus they're actively working the move, with the aggressor constantly trying to squeeze harder or get a better grip, and the victim attempting to wriggle free.  Good times!  The fight goes to the outside and Murdoch uses a chair right in front of the ref and there are no consequences.  Japan is like Somalia, lawless and crude.  I enjoyed Murdoch's brutal offense here—lots of solid-looking punches and torture-y holds, and at one point he grabs Fujinami's face and tries to pry it off his skull.  I'm less enthused about Fujinami's behavior after being mauled.  Fighting spirit is fine, but it's almost like Fujinami has decided, "Fuck it, I'm not selling anything!" and just constantly comes back with these too-energetic reversals.  It's annoying.  He finally gets put down with an enzuigiri, although he never matches Murdoch's sublime selling here.  Fujinami fire aside, this is fine until the end, which is a really abrupt spill to the outside and double countout.  

Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs. Gerry & Jack Brisco (WWF, 12/2/84)
Now to America, so get ready for rib-tickling comedy.  It begins with Murdoch getting pushed out of the ring after tying up with Jack, then yelling at the ref, "Hey, goddamn it!  Do your job!"  There's a lot of arm work from the Briscos at the early stages.  It doesn't compare well to those headlocks I loved in the Murdoch/Fujinami affair above.  The holds here are way more stationary and, worse still, don't really pay off in any meaningful way.  Because, soon enough, we switch over to leg work, setting up the figure four which both Briscos masterfully use.   Life gets better in this final 3/4 of the match, as we get tons of quick tags, some cool double-teams, and Dick Murdoch hobbling around on his wounded leg like a drunk in a Western saloon.  The ref here is garishly horrible, counting pins like a stroke victim, drawing the ire of Gorilla Monsoon on commentary.  At one point, action spills to the outside and Murdoch clocks Jack with a telephone, which the ref hilariously ignores.  The crowd chants, "Bull-shit!" and I am pleased.  I think this ends in a Murdoch/Adonis victory by countout, but the match is clipped before the announcement, so that might be wrong.  A little creaky at the outset, but this got very good as the match progressed.  Worth checking out.

Dick Murdoch vs. Barry Windham (WWF, 2/16/85)
I was excited about this!  Very heated exchange in the tie-up and push to the corner.  Murdoch shows the effects of a Windham punch for literally minutes.  Barry Windham will not be outsold at selling and he takes some Murdoch elbows and punches with gusto.  If you love spills to the outside, this is your new favorite match.  Windham gets hiptossed over the top and then later spills over to the floor backwards.  Dick Murdoch unloads with some golden, beautiful woozy punching.  Then it's back to the outside where Murdoch wallops Windham with a crutch.  Once again, no DQ, and it's pointed out on commentary.  WWF really needed to work on its referee training, ne?  As with Fuji/Murdoch, the end here is rather abrupt and the match never rises above a solid, fun brawl.  Still worth seeing, but this didn't seem like a lost classic or anything to me.

 Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura (New Japan, 5/24/85)
Plenty of good chain wrestling from Adonis in the early moments.  I really need to check out more Adrian Adonis.  Being Southern, I missed out on a lot of the wrestlers from places like New York and Portland.  The intense approach to holds is here again, as Murdoch tries to wrench Fujinami's head off in a side headlock.  Thankfully, Fujinami is a bit more giving about showing damage here and doesn't immediately fire right back.  All four dudes are pretty adept at the exciting wrestling.  When Kimura tags in, he delivers a swank-looking leg lariat to Adonis, who spends the entire match awesomely taking or giving lumps.  Dick Murdoch says, "Don't forget about me!" and delivers a standing dropkick that literally made me say "WAH?" out loud.  You can't go wrong with this match, though.  This is pretty choice stuff all the way through until we get to the inevitable countout ending, sending Fujinami and Kimura to victory.

Dick Murdoch vs. The Nightmare (Mid-South, 7/14/85)
Please believe that this brought back memories.  Eddie Gilbert seconds the Nightmare and dresses to impress in a silver sequined jacket, indoor sunglasses, and a cane.  Dick Murdoch arrives in a white snapback as "The Halls of Montezuma" plays.  This is the house show-iest match I have ever seen.  Everything is aimed at getting a rise out of the (large) crowd.  Referee Carl Fergie keeps preventing Murdoch from punching the Nightmare.  A "hit the ref!" chant starts.  So, of course, when the punch happens, there's a crowdgasm about it.  The brawling parts of the match are fabu, but Murdoch turns it a notch with some flying stuff, including a pair of leapfrogs and a kick-ass flying headscissors.  What a versatile dude Dick Murdoch was.  Nightmare's pretty good here, too, making his striking offense look credible and delivering a Dibiase-esque second-rope fistdrop.  Murdoch goes to the Nightmare's mask a lot, to the delight of the crowd, and then we get an apt ending with botched interference and the villains getting comeuppance.  Probably the most fun match on the set and a great example of why wrestling as pure entertainment ain't something to scoff at.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Great wrestling moments in cinema

The Herschell Gordon Lewis "tribute" Blood Diner boasts scads of subplots, but the best one involves a cannibal chef taking on a wrestler named Jimmy Hitler.  Note the NWA rip-off logo and the fact that Jimmy Hitler does not even try to use a little bit of a German accent.  It's just like some guy from Cleveland walks out and says he's Jimmy Hitler, just as if Kamala would've shown up and said, "Hey, I'm the Ugandan giant or whatever" in his Mississippi twang.  This! Is! Wrestling!

John Waters allegedly idolized Gorgeous George, but (to my knowledge) includes wrestling in only one of his films, the sublime Desperate Living.  In the scene below, Rasslin' Rita (Susan Lowe) puts the hurt on "Big" Jimmy Dong, "The Human Blockhead".  So, see, Candice LeRae did not fucking invent intergender matches!!  Waters also loved H.G. Lewis, which is apparent in the eye damage that closes out this ***1/2 bout and send Rasslin' Rita into exile in Mortville.

The best always comes last, as this Asian thing called Golden Queen's Commando is stuffed plump with insanity.  So much so that the scene below is probably the second craziest kill scene of the movie's first ten minutes (two words: Bible gun).  We learn things from this brief clip.  Women in general love to flip all around, not just Manami Toyota.  In order to succeed as a wrestler, you have to know how to hide spiked gloves in your tights without castrating yourself.  In Mongolia, it's totally legal to burn off your opponent's face with acetylene torches.  And tiny Asian despots are better at cutting heel promos than almost everybody currently in wrestling.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

HOODSLAM 4/4/2014 - EnterTania

2 FYIs.  A slew of the matches on this thing are randomly-compiled pairings a la the glorious WCW BattleBowl.  Plus I am sick with the blacklung today, so this might be even more badly-written than usual.  Sorry about all the Reddit references.

Ken & P.O.N.G. vs. Lucha Magnifico & Peanut Butter Banana
Ken is of Street Fighter II fame and is accompanied by Kammy.  Massive commentator interest in Kammy's ass, which apparently has its own Facebook page.  "Everybody has an ass, but very few asses have a Facebook."  Hoodslam's ass-centric sexual universe should keep anthropologists of the future busy for at least some weeks.  We like legs in Appalachia.  If you don't remember Peanut Butter Banana, this should assist.  There's a really particular nostalgia in Hoodslam, which we'll discuss more later.  P.O.N.G. stands for "Pissed Off Nerdy Gamer", so it's a given that he's going to turn on Ken, but they sprinkle the turning throughout the match instead of making it a one-and-done.  This was fine, although nothing special.  

Bat Manuel & James C vs. Broseph Joe Brody & Charlie Chaplin
The virulent reaction to James C makes me smile.  "Go back to the 1920s!" is a heckle that I'm glad I got to hear.  If James loses this match, he retires from Hoodslam forever, which might telegraph the ending a little bit, but we'll see.  In what must be an old in-joke, Charlie Chaplin is invisible and Disco Inferno's dream come trues, as the opposing team wrestle themselves during the Chaplin control segments.  Preposterous, but fun, in small doses.  It's worth noting that the actual wrestling in this match with an invisible competitor is a little more adventurous than lots of Hoodslam's stuff.   If I get to see Charlie Chaplin vs. Davey Richards one day, all the time I've wasted on wrestling will have been worth it.  Bat Manuel picks up the win, saving James's career and Hoodslam's ratings. 

Drugz Bunny vs. Virgil Flynn III
The self-congratulatory commentary is v v amazing: "What an EnterTania moment!"  I didn't dig Virgil Flynn so much last go-round, but he picks up the pace a lot here.  The opening is hot as hell, with lots of strikes and punches.  There's a nice facebuster to counter an attempted top-rope flippity-do and then they make the top-rope cutoffs a recurring motif for the early goings.  They eventually do get to the top rope and then blow something, which just goes to show you.  Drugz Bunny is really good at power stuff for a guy who is probably half my size.  The blown dropkick here won't be the only blown dropkick of the night, fans.  I don't get as salty about messed-up moves as some wrestling evaluators.  If wrestling were 100% real (which it is, verified by the mods), moves would get messed up all the time.  The difference for me is what happens afterwards and the two guys here do a nice job of averting disaster.  Virgil Flynn eventually does a top-rope complicated flippy move, but actually seals the deal with an old-timey cannonball senton.  Hopefully, he'll incorporate a lot more of the striking in other Flynn matches I see; he's really convincing at that stuff.  I suspect this match won't be surpassed.

El Chupacabra & Big Van Faber vs. Brittany Wonder & Zangief
Thanks, fate!  You put the cute girl together with the big Russian who has already been established as perpetually horny.  But da real MVP is Big Van Faber, who appears to have plucked his ring attire from a storage facility's dumpster.  There is duct tape on the headwear.  Splendid.  If this is an allusion to famous knockoffs like Big Slam Vader, then good job, Hoodslam.  I love how the commentators pronounce Zangief's name in a different way every show.  They should start putting the syllables and stresses after the fighters' names during entrances.  Behemoths Faber and Zangief hit the ring and start doing hiptosses and armdrags and shit.  LOLs abound and then Cabra and Wonder engage and the pace picks up.  The ending is telegraphed here, as Brittany Wonder rejects Zangief's advances because she is, like all women, icy-hearted and intolerant of nice guys.  Zangief bails, Brittany's pinned, and Big Van Faber continues to look swag as hell.

Doc Atrocity vs. El Flaco Loco
Loser leaves town...for 90 days.  Atrocity's entourage of freaks rivals Adam Rose's by a country mile.  I don't think Flaco is a seasoned wrestler and consequently the match needs saving.  The commentators do their best, ginning up a backstory for Flaco that involves being born in a CMLL ring and spending years doing amateur lucha libre.  Forever the sickest: "You can't do krav maga without the double axehandle!"  Flaco loses when a robot(?) with oven mitt hands gets involved.  Then Doc Atrocity gives a speech that ends in "You're all gonna die...and I'm gonna fuckin' kill you!"  So I guess if anyone who attended this show ever dies mysteriously, we know who to arrest.  No one died during this match and it didn't rain, so...

Anthony Butabi & Jesus Kruze vs. Johnny Drinko Butabi & Rick-Scott Stoner vs. Prawn Cena & F.O.N.G. vs. Ryu & Scott-Rick Stoner

The show was starting to drag, so I'm glad they condensed things here.  Mastodons collide as F.O.N.G. and Rick-Scott shoulder-block.  Then F.O.N.G. shows the effects of a clothesline by wobbling.  Johnny Drinko says, "That's too basic!" and does a standing hurricanrana about it.  Jesus Kruze is kind of the odd man out here, he seems to be a straightforward B-Boy/Homicide-style urban wrestler.  Weird to see him amidst all this gimmickry, but his strikes and stuff look cool.  Plus he has his full name on the back of his work shirt, which helps.  This proceeds at a pretty nice clip, but then cheerleader valet Missy Hiasshit executes a sort of rana in a very herky-jerky way.  I'm sure it takes practice to get it down, so no worries, but it does muck up the flow of the match a little.  But then Prawn Cena (and I was disappointed that he was not a prawn like in District 9) does the same sequence of moves over and over again, which is one of my huge complaints about WWE big matches, even though Joe Brody is yelling, "Don't duck the clothesline!" on the house mic.  Match salvaged.  Okay stuff overall.

The Dixie Carter Memorial Lethal Lottery Battle Bowl
This is a battle royal and, at one point, Scott-Rick Stoner hits his head and promptly starts vomiting.  Hope that dude's all right!  I saw Matt Sydal do the same thing after missing a top rope move, so you are in good company, Scott-Rick.  I was all set to commend Hoodslam for a clever title since the true Dixie Carter is indeed dead.  But they never even mention the erstwhile Julia Sugarbaker and, since battle royals are boring, I started thinking about whether a show like Designing Women would even air in California.  It seems too rural, too immersed in Hee-Haw culture.  Like, would Missy Hiasshit or Anthony Butabi know how to react if they saw Reba or a Moon Pie?  Or would it be like showing a smartphone to a cannibal tribe in the Amazon?  Anyway, James C wins and voices a splendid, boo-seeking halting promo.

Juiced Lee vs. Dark Sheik
Main event time and this was apparently the first match on the first Hoodslam show as well.  History!  A (drunk?) fan hits the ring shortly after Dark Sheik and is promptly ejected by a horde of folks, giving us this show's Kevin Douglas moment.  The early portions did not win my heart, mostly because Juiced Lee seemed off.  Stoned?  Mesmerized?  Whatever, he shruggingly sold punches and his offense was also pretty exposey.  Things got better as the match progressed, although botches were never far away.  No less than three different refs show up to ref this thing during its long life and one even bleeds, which I don't think I've seen before.   I feel like this was similar to the Drugz/Virgil match in structure, but a lot less effective in execution.   There was far less energy here, although I did like some parts of this match.  

I gotta get off the Hoodslam for a while, so maybe we'll discuss Chikara or joshi next time we meet.