Saturday, May 23, 2015


There are a million paths to wrestling, such as the $9.99 one that leads to a network.  Or the one that leads to merchandise tables, where you can shake the hands of sweaty wrestlers if you buy a DVD or a picture.  But you can find a ton of stuff from smaller promotions on YouTube for free (opportunity costs don't count) and so I did.  Like so:

This is Booker T's promotion and the production values alone make it stand out a little more.  The computer graphics and pro hardware all aim to impress.  We begin with a recap of champion Mysterious Q fighting a Yokozuna-esque person whose name I could not parse.  As not-Yoko is about to drop the death blow, the announcer shrieks, "You've gotta come back next week to find out!"  And now we find out: Yoko walks away and Q is still the champion.  There's a brief mention of Harlem Heat versus The Heavenly Bodies, which sounds absolutely crazy.  And then we go into promos, as Abel Andrew Jackson says many things, most of which failed to connect with me.  I did enjoy the inclusion of "intentious" and also was happy that ROW is pronounced "row".  Hopefully, Booker T will bring in Wade Barrett to fight the entire roster and they will name it ROW versus Wade.  

The Rockstar vs. Rob Barnes
The second match in a series of five.  The Rockstar looks like a Dingo Warrior cosplayer, but Rob Barnes is from the land of dingoes.  He carries a flag and has a kangaroo on his tights to really drive the point home.  "He's not gonna waste any time in there," the announcer states as Barnes stands there idly and watches his opponent.  This was not so great.  Most of it was basic and there were times when they were blatantly halting so the other guy could catch up.  I did dig Rockstar catching Barnes on the ropes with a punch, but the match ended almost immediately after that, so no points for sticking the landing.

Alex Reigns vs. Shawn Hendrix (w/Legion)
Shawn Hendrix and crew have the most laudable entrance I've seen lately—five guys jump up on the apron sequentially.  It's effective without getting into OCD gymnastics as sometimes happens (in NXT).  This starts off appealingly physical and heated with a lot of brawling in the corners, followed by a nice standing dropkick from Hendrix.  They go outside to fight, but re-enter the ring to trade near-finishes and Reigns tries to beautifully murder Hendrix with a sweet dropkick of his own.  Reigns pretty much +1's the Go 2 Sleep with a weird variation that would make this worth seeing even if it weren't generally good.  But it is generally good!  Lots of fun.

Promo time.  The new Heavenly Bodies have New York accents?  They threaten Harlem Heat to
build up the big match.  "Dese belts are stayin' in Jersey, my friend!"  This is not what I expected.  A second promo follows, as Rob Barnes is salty about losing earlier.  "He put his hand in my crotch!" has been said by oh so many Australians throughout history.  He's consoled by a bearded man with visibly erect nipples who mostly stands there mutely throughout the entire scene.  This is another weird wrestling trope.  The bearded guy looks like a saturnine version of Mark from The Room!  Be careful, Rob Barnes, he will sleep with your future wife!!!

THEN!!!  There is a third promo, which would ordinarily get on my nerves.  But this is a promo for GUSTAVO MENDOZA!!!  Which will mean nothing to you because you didn't grow up watching the UWF in the 80s.  Hence, you did not see Gustavo Mendoza come to ringside in a splendid jacket with NUCLEAR WEAPONS written on the back, only to die at the hands of Steve Williams or Savannah Jack and others.  I really don't think this is the same dude, but bless ROW for using this name.  Apparently, they've also used a guy named Chris Adams before, so maybe Booker T grew up loving the same territories that I did?

Abel Andrew Jackson vs. Mysterious Q
Your main event!  Jackson is "assistant general manager to the general manager" and that makes me want to murder myself, but at least the announcers mock how preposterous it is.  The ref's hipster mustache is distracting.  There's a pin exchange to begin, but things settle down into a likeable middle section, with Q going for as many pins as possible and Jackson displaying as many pained faces as he can.  Jackson didn't do much for me as a talker, but it's easy to see his physical charisma in a match.  I also like how mean and basic his offense is, such as ramming a guy's head into a mat repeatedly.  There are some rough patches, as when Q sorta stumbles into Jackson while trying to attack and Jackson must take the wheel to save things.  A mixture of dodgy stuff and ace stuff, but overall worthwhile.

Another wrestler-owned promotion, Bellatrix is Saraya Knight's all-lady company based in Norwich, England.  You might have heard about Saraya lately from her appearance on Colt Cabana's podcast.  She's also wrestled stateside in Shimmer and a few other places.  The hosts of Bellatrix this time are Saraya's family, husband "Rowdy" Ricky and son Zak.  They work on a very Tim & Eric-esque virtual reality stage, of which I could not approve harder.

Destiny vs. Penelope
This fight appears to occur in a very classy banquet hall or something.  There are portraits hung everywhere, so occasionally you get an art gallery sort of feeling.  But the grimy production shears off any pretentious edge.  This is actually what I mean when I say stuff like, "Darkthrone wrestling"—it looks murky and raw.  Not like Lucha Underground, which, while great, spends tons of money to achieve that 70s grindhouse look.  Anyway!  Destiny is pretty angsty for a portly person.  She shouts a lot, punctuating every blow and thump with more yelling.  And she's mostly in charge during this match, as hometown heroine Penelope spends much of the time getting smacked around.  The first single-leg crab of the night happens here and offers a good representation of Destiny's olde-tymey heel tactics, as she repeatedly grabs the ropes for leverage.  This eventually leads to the referee issuing cards.  When he's had enough, he finally shows everyone a red card and that means Destiny loses, despite dominating the match.  Oh, England!

Chanel vs. Lady Lory
The production values get jarringly better here.   The prim ring announcer asks everyone to "be
upstanding for the national anthem", which I guess everyone expects to be a song about America beating England up or a song of German grunting or something?  Because she then says, "the British national anthem!" and Lady Lory gets mad about it.  But at least she gets to beat the hell out of Chanel for practically this entire match.  It seems like a possible mistake to have two one-sided squashy affairs in a row, but this is what happens.  Lory voraciously targets Chanel's knee, leading inexorably to the second crab of the show.  SINGLE LEG BOSTON CRAB CITY, BITCH.  They tease another disqualification ending before a surprise shift in momentum and shocking finale.  This was really one-sided until the abrupt ending.  A rematch might be interesting, though.

Sammi Baynz vs. Liberty
Sammi Baynz has the most xtreme 90s name I've ever heard.  There's a nice fierce collar and elbow
to begin.  And then there's a hair whip reversal, which was a first for me!  This opening threatens greatness, but things get shaky as the match progresses.  There's a lot of back and forth in terms of control, and some exciting moments—my fave was probably the blocked tope, which drew an all-little girl chant of "This is awesome!" (aww-some).  In general, though, I don't feel like this clicked as tightly as I would've liked and never really capitalized on the intensity presaged by the early moments.  Again, I'd be down to watch a rematch, though.

Bellatrix on Facebook (with insane people's comments)           Bellatrix Season One

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SHINE 26 4/3/2015

The WWNLive stream on my computer is too pixelated to be usable, so no screens this time.  I think I've seen one SHINE event before and, if memory serves, it came off like SHIMMER's less ambitious kid sister.  Let's see if that nebulous memory is accurate.

Shazza McKenzie vs. Miss Rachel
Miss Rachel wears a greyscale Union Jack, redolent of tears and social discomfort.  Shazza McKenzie is Australian.  They unfortunately don't mock one another's accent to kick things off and instead indulge in some pushdowns that are a little too speedily executed to be believed.  Rachel looks better when she's throwing clubbing blows and tossing Shazza into corners.  Meanwhile, the wrestling announcers annoy the fuck out of me by saying "nonplussed" when they really mean "calm or unexcited".  Note to Jim Ross, Lenny Leonard, and the rest of you people, "nonplussed" means "surprised"!  Look it up!  You can look it up while this match is happening, because there's not much that you'll miss.  If SHINE 26 were a date, this match would be the "parking the car" part of it or "deciding which socks to wear".

Andrea vs. Nikki Storm
Nikki Storm declares herself a "sexy monkey" and "the white chocolate cheesecake of sports entertainment."  Unbelievably, Storm keeps that level of high quality going once the match begins!  She displays a lot of energy and is really credible on offense, considering she's wrestling a giantess in Andrea.  Andrea outguns Storm with power moves, but there are periodic Nikki Storm comebacks, so it's not a rehash of the one-sided opening match.  Andrea looks like someone put Cheerleader Melissa and a dieting Bull Nakano into Dr. Brundle's telepods.  Outside interference leads to someone mopping the canvas with her head and this seemed more like a storyline-centered outing than an attempt at a great wrestling match.  Still, both ladies were fun and bless Nikki Storm for showing the effects of her beating while stumbling to the back.

Tessa Blanchard vs. Evie
Tessa Blanchard brings a guy named Tommy Thomas to ring-announce her and he berates the regular lady ring announcer for being a "makeshift hussy in a dress."  Cut SHINE a break, they could probably not afford a genuine hussy in a pantsuit.  Again, we see the effects of people using terms without looking them up in the dictionary first.  I'm not a wrestler, so I can't determine how green Tessa Blanchard is (you can check other wrestling expert sites for that).  But I think she's already got a good handle on being a good bad girl.  She uses basic, logical offense and is quick to slide out of the ring and throw a fit when things don't go her way.  It's impossible to dislike her when you see her race into a turnbuckle with cero miedo while Evie leapfrogs her attacks.  I like some of Evie's stuff here, like snapping her own leg into a prone Blanchard.  But there are other times where she makes bad decisions, like a too-distant top rope attack that basically leads to her scraping Blanchard's calf.  This had its rougher moments, but wasn't unenjoyable.  Tessa Blanchard wins my heart by walking out quivering while Tommy Thomas wraps her in a jacket. 

Marti Belle & Jayme Jamison vs. Solo Darling & Crazy Mary Dobson (w/Daffney)
I fear that Solo Darling is going to prove that my rule of movies also applies to wrestlers.  It's a great name, so let's see how much she disappoints me.  She's apparently like a furry or a blonde white woman version of Jun Kasai, I guess?  And don't get me started on Crazy Mary Dobson.  My complaint is pretty much the same as WWE's "crazy" women.  They never act crazy or do anything crazy.  If Crazy Mary Dobson said, "Jews started all the wars!" or "Jet fuel cain't melt steel beams!", I would kind of get it.  But she basically just wears a hockey mask and then wrestles like a normal wrestler.  Maybe she is crazy because James Dobson is her dad.  I liked Jayme Jamison dishing out some punishment, as her strikes looked really good, but then Solo Darling enters and her strikes look like she is poking people in random places.  The rule holds true.  There appears to be some genuine confusion about the ending as Dobson hits a crossbody pin while she's not legal and everyone is NONPLUSSED.  So Darling just does a rollup and they call it a day.  Later, Andrea molests a squealing Daffney as the other baddies set the table with Solo Darling.  A fan then says something about "Sweet tits".  God damn America.

Madison Eagles vs. La Rosa Negra
MADISON EAGLES!  I am almost as absurdly excited once La Rosa Negra enters the arena, as she does this ridiculous prolonged stripper entrance complete with lots of twerking.  Madison Eagles covers her own eyes and the ring announcer's eyes!  MODESTY!!  Eagles is a villain here and fails to mutilate Rosa with a fork, then gets tope-d.  The fast and furious pace will continue throughout the match, which is executed very sagely, with Eagles overpowering Rosa, who must rely on guile and quickness for her brief triumphs.  Even the slowdown sections of this are winners, as Eagles really wrenches on a chinlock and Rosa contributes with excellently anguished facial expressions.  Even when Rosa is on offense, she doesn't fail to show how worn out she is and I am pleased.  Madison Eagles is great, La Rosa Negra looks good, and this is your first good match of the night.

Saraya Knight & Su Yung vs. Leva & Jessicka Havok
Crazy Su Yung acts crazy and Saraya has pretty smashing corpsepaint.  Leva is famous for cosplaying and comes out dressed as a middle-aged suburban dad with a shirt from the 80s band The Misfits.  Saraya and Leva start off, and Saraya takes advantage of the no-DQ stip and kicks Leva right in the vag.  Don't worry, though, it doesn't hurt AT ALL, as Leva proposes a test of strength not a minute later.  Sigh, Leva Bates.  There's some brawling, some on the outside.  Havok tries for a tope, but catches her feet on the ropes.  Thankfully, no one seems to be hurt and Havok immediately compensates by locking Su Yung in a standing stretch muffler.  The action spills to the balcony and soon it's raining women, as both Su Yung and Leva end up taking falls.  Iffy selling aside, the match was moving along pretty crisply until outside interference lead to an unsatisfying end.  Su Yung's aggrieved face after winning=winning.

Kellie Skater & Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Cherry Bomb & Kimber Lee
Does this match have the first collar and elbow of the night??  Surely it can't be true, but I don't want to rewind and check, so let's move on.  This was an enjoyable match that I think could have been stronger if it were shorter.  They had time to do comedy sequences: a headscissors marathon that mostly didn't work and an airplane spin marathon that only worked when Skater said (I think), "I don't like this very much!"  They had time to do two back-to-back prolonged beatdown sections, with Cherry first being Queen of Getting Beaten Up and then Nakagawa stealing her crown.  The best parts were the closing moments, when everything got more heated and physical and zany chains were cast aside for tooth-rattling brawling.  The non-finish and post-match arguing points to a rematch, even though Nakagawa is retiring soon, so maybe it happened at SHIMMER?  Or something?  As for this, fine enough, but could've been very good with some trimming.

Allysin Kay vs. Kay Lee Ray
Allysin Kay has a porcupine bra to protect her from Bill Cosby.  She also leads a group called Valkyrie and makes a sign for it with an extended pinkie, like how rich British people drink tea.  When Allysin Kay says, "She should be dead by now!", it's easily the best part of the match, so that should tell you everything.  This felt like it never got going.

Santana vs. Mia Yim
Santana is the NWA Women's champion, Mia is the SHINE champion.  The winner of this one gets both.  This did a better job at exploiting the lengthy, epic title match feel than the tag match did.  I liked how deliberate the pacing in the early stages was and how both ladies really expressed how hard they were fighting to get out of submission holds.  You could point to parts of this and say, "Oh, it's AJW karaoke night" with the "Give up!" screeches and such.  And, yeah, at times it's like a Frankenstein's monster made of Japanese wrestling clips.  But then you see how they exploit an earlier match's non-finish and tease the same thing here, only to change course splendidly.  Smart as fuck!  I've never seen Santana and I've never liked Mia Yim, so it probably says something that I walked away impressed by this and will probably watch it again.