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TonyPulis'Cap

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  1. TonyPulis'Cap

    MLW Fusion, anyone watching it?

    Having just watched the Battle Riot, I can definitely see why anyone would see it as a bit of a mess at times, but I think by sheer force of the amount of 'stuff' going on, and the hard work of the guys involved I found it enjoyable, and ultimately it got to the end point they had been building to with the story line going in. It suffered from the through line of having no eliminations early. This differentiated it from recent Royal Rumbles, when people seem to come in for 2 mins, run through their moves and then get eliminated, but ultimately, there was just too many guys in there at times. There also wasn't a lot of heat early on, but as the match progressed the crowd got into it, and it felt (you never can tell how much has been 'sweetened' in non live shows) like they were really into the winner, so again job done. I feel like I'm often the big MLW defender here, and while I can often see, and acknowledge the criticisms others have, for whatever reason, it just seems to grab me. Some of the new names they introduced should help give what was previously a very small roster a shot in the arm with some potentially interesting programs coming out of the match, although given Migs feedback above from being there, maybe I'll try not to get too carried away! The most interesting point to me from the match, was how in the end it centered around a story line rather than just coming down to 'cool wrestler A vs cool wrestler B' to get a "this is awesome chant". Now whether that story line is a compelling one to you, that of course is open to debate, but to me, I appreciate that they had set up a story for the match going in and paid it off rather than worrying about a 'swerve' or surprise ending.
  2. TonyPulis'Cap

    Amazing Red

    Have been watching a lot of early 2000s indies, and while I have always liked Red - both at the time and now - I think I've been underrating just how good he was/is. From the period say 2002 - 04, he is an elite level high flyer, managing to do spotfests with meaning, timing his comebacks and big moves to create a compelling storyline, rather than them just being thrown out one after another. His selling is great too - yes, he is small, and so in many matches, his opponent can throw him around, but he is able to elicit real fan reaction, again from the way he takes the moves and his timing. I also love the sequences of offensive moves he puts together - if you watch his nearfalls, they are often after hitting two or three moves in a combination, which makes it believable to be taking on beating guys that are bigger than him. The way they are timed as well, just brings the crowd to a crescendo like the beats of a great song. Unlike a lot of high fliers he wasn't a one trick pony - I'd seriously underrated his strikes and kicks, they are just spot on, and again give him weapons that bring believability to him going toe to toe with guys. I've watched him across ROH, TNA, MLW, CZW, JAPW and across a variety of opponents he always delivers, and for a guy hitting big moves and intricate sequences, he rarely botches or screws up - he is super smooth. There's an undeniable Rey Mysterio vibe to him - especially young Rey - and while he's not at that level (few are!) or has that level of longevity, as the posts above from the 2016 discussion highlight he was a real pioneer in that early 2000s post WCW/ECW indie boom. I need to dig into his later years more, when the knee injuries took their tool to see how he adapted, but from seeing matches like the Ospreay one in New Japan and being their live when he faced PAC in Rev Pro, but genuinely considering him around the 90-100 spots as I start to put some initial thinking together.
  3. This is something of an FWA dream match, given it’s the ‘three musketeers’ of the early 2000s BritWres scene, and arguably the most prominent import that the company would use (at least up to this point). Doug and Jody are the two top faces in the company, while Storm is the hot heel, and Daniels had held the FWA British Title earlier in the year. Then there’s the interconnecting storylines; Daniels had won the title in a three way with Doug and Jody, Doug had then beat Daniels for the belt, Jonny and Jody are of course long term rivals with Jonny turning on Jody earlier in the year and then Daniels had recently won the final match in the FWA vs ROH Frontiers of Honor show…by beating Jody…thanks to interference from Jonny… just great stuff, that the company was really good at doing at this point. Despite the ‘dream match’ vibe, the opening minutes are full of stooging and stalling, and you wonder if this is down to the setting – this isn’t an FWA ‘A show’, and I’m not sure they would’ve wrestled it the same way if not on one of their tour shows with a more kids and family crowd. That’s probably why it’s all a bit pantomime at the start. Once we get into things though, they pick up nicely, and there’s some really fast paced and smooth exchanges between Daniels/Fleisch and Williams/Storm. I also liked how Storm was desperate to avoid Fleisch until he could cheap-shot him on the outside and take over. Considering I’m not sure how many times, if at all, they would’ve teamed up, Daniels and Storm work really well together and both take turns utilising lots of tricks and shortcuts which helps to build the heat before heel miscommunication leads to a fired-up Williams hot tag. I adore Doug as a wrestler and doing this FWA rewatch is really making me see his fire and intensity, when previously I used to think he could be a bit mechanical at times. This all builds up to a great sequence between Williams and Storm that ends with a revolution DDT for a near fall. The four guys do well to largely keep to the classic tag structure before we get to the home stretch and the big moves, which makes those mean more. A criticism I would have, is that while Jonny and Jody going through their usual sequences is always fantastic to watch, the feud they were building was meant to be more about hatred and I didn’t feel that here, but again, maybe that’s down to the setting and not being a ‘main show’ for the company. The ending comes when Fleisch catches Daniels with a flash pin, sending the crowd home happy and also giving Jody some payback for losing twice in big matches in the FWA to him. This is a good match, but you feel on a regular show it would be more balls to the wall. (*** ¼)
  4. This is part 727 in the never-ending Alex Shane (plus friends) vs. The Family feud that takes up much of 2003 in the FWA. I’m not going to lie I feel like I see versions of this match in my sleep these days. The thing that I do enjoy though, is that a bit like Dreamer vs. Raven in ECW in that it involve lots of different players circling in and out. In this match the Family are represented by stalwart Paul Travell and then Ian DaSciple, who wasn’t very good at all, and would be pretty much gone from the company a year later as they were looking to up standards. This is very much a small show, at a small venue, in front of a small crowd – set up ‘theatre style’ with the ring on the stage and then the fans all on one side. Even though this was a ‘blood’ feud, with escalating violence on the FWA main card shows, here it’s very much ‘yay/boo’ type stuff, particularly early on, given the holiday maker type crowd. The match takes the same structure as most of the ones in this feud do – Shane dominates physically, but The Family take over when they can isolate Nikita. There’s a very basic and uninspiring heat segment, and I should note that as always in these matches, this is NO DQ. So its one of those strange matches where you can use weapons etc. but there’s cheating behind the refs back and early on, adhering to tags. If it’s going to be a ‘hardcore’ match, make it a crazy brawl! Nikita and Travell faced each other at British Uprising the year before and have good chemistry, but pretty soon the match breaks down and we get all the standard walk and brawl/plunder shots stuff. The ring being on the stage does help with the optics though. There’s some enjoyable stooging from The Family members taking the weapons shots, but it is a bit jarring when on others shows there has been blood and violence between the teams. Another (good) constant in these matches, is that the sequences between Shane and Travell are the highlights, as Shane was trying to get Travell over and he gives him a lot. There’s a really crappy ref bump as we hit the closing stretch as the faces get a visual pin, but I did bite on the nearfall where The Family do a switcheroo and Nikita kicks out of a belt shot. Travell then gets to kick out of Shane’s One Night Stand finisher, which I’m not sure was planned as the ref is just randomly staring at the floor, before he counters a second one into a tornado DDT on a tag belt for the 3. It’s pretty mindless, and fun at times, but as I mentioned at the start, if you’ve seen one of these matches, then you’ve seen most of them, and you do feel there’s a sense of diminishing returns as the rivalry goes on. (** ½)
  5. Alex Shane and friends vs. The Family in 2003 was essentially the FWA version of Dreamer vs Raven, with various different matches involving lots of different characters. Shane and Knight – not regular partners and teaming for the first time – had won the tag titles on the first night of the tour, with Stevie being a local replacement with both Nikita and Ulf Herman (Shane’s regular partners being unavailable). As had happened on the first tour, the title change was in part to draw interest in new markets but also breathe some life into the longer running feud I’ve mentioned. It’s never officially announced, but as with most of the matches in this feud, it’s NO DQ, and just like in most of the matches, Shane uses his size early on to dominate. The Family can’t get anything going until they get Knight in there, and then their superior tag experience as a team starts to show. Whenever Shane is in, he dominates, so The Family try hard to keep Knight in as long as they can, which was a nice story to the first half of the match where they largely stick to the tag formula. The second half then breaks down to become more of your standard ‘walk and brawl’ early 2000s hardcore match. Knight and Raj Ghosh just disappear for a bit, but to be honest that works fine as the sequences between Shane and Paul Travell have much better energy and excitement to them. As is the norm in these matches, Travell bleeds and takes some nasty bumps, but he also gets an impressive hurucunrana off the camera platform. The intensity of the match is let down by the ref bump finish, before Knight ‘plays dead’ to get rollup and retain. This is a match of two halves that felt bolted together, and Knight’s more comedy persona and style didn’t really fit with the blood feud that Shane and allies had been having with The Family. Talking of the title shots, to pop the local crowds but return the belts to where they belong for the more ‘canon shows’, The Family would win the titles back on the last day of the tour. (** ¼)
  6. Night 2 of the tour is from Bolton. Coming in, Tighe is the one with the momentum in 2003 having just pinned Jody Fleisch on the last big FWA show (Hotwired) and would go on to main event the biggest show of the year (British Uprising 2). Xavier by contrast has been up and down. I like that this match doesn’t start with the usual indie reversals and standoffs (a standard trope of many an FWA match at this time) and there’s some nice matwork at the beginning to enjoy. They each try some ‘mind games’ at the beginning to try and get the advantage, with Xavier winning the battle of wits to get a couple of close near falls. Tighe is the better, more in form wrestler of the two, so Xavier keeping him off his game is how he is able to get the advantage. As the match goes on however, you can see Tighe’s quality coming to the fore, and increasingly Xavier is having to go more high risk to hang in there. This leads to him taking a really scary looking bump off a moonsault to the floor landing on his leg. It would’ve been nice to see Tighe then go after the leg and show a more vicious or focussed side, but they then go to the finish fairly quickly after that. Xavier gets a close 2 count off a flatliner, but gets caught going up top, and Tighe his the Tighetanic off the ropes for the win. (** ¾)
  7. This is a banner match for the FWA, which brings with it lots of history between the two. This includes them first clashing in the UK all the way back in 1999 for the ill-fated UWA promotion (might have to go back and revisit that one day), to Daniels winning the FWA British Title by pinning Doug and taking it ‘hostage’ to America for 6 months to finally Doug winning the title back in Ring of Honor at Night of Champions (a hell of a match). A few months before this Daniels had pinned Jody Fleisch to win the FWA vs. ROH series and thus justify this shot at the title. The first thing to say about this match is that the two have fantastic chemistry. Daniels stalls to begin the match, knowing that Doug got the best of him last time out, and Williams dominates the early goings. Daniels is used to being able to ‘out-wrestle’ his opponents, but Doug is the superior ‘technical wrestler’ and Daniels only answer early on is to try to break up his opponents momentum by going outside. What I loved was Doug steaming out with a tope to stop Daniels from stalling further on the outside, meaning there was a reason for the normally grounded Williams to fly to the outside. But while he is finding himself outmatched technically, you can tell how smart a competitor Daniels is, and he continues to use tricks where he can to rile Doug up, and get him to make a mistake, and that’s where Daniels is able to capitalise when Doug lets his anger get the better of him. Daniels is then able to seize his opening to hit the Angels Wings for the first fall (FWA Title matches at this time were 2/3 falls). Recognising his title is now in serious jeopardy, Williams gets a brief flurry at the beginning of the second fall and a couple of flash pins, but Daniels is great at cutting off any momentum, just as it is building. Daniels strategy is then to try and wear Doug down by going for regular pinfalls, but tries one too many, as Williams is able to catch a reversal on a sunset flip to tie things up at 1-1. I liked that Daniels sold this anger at allowing himself to be caught and pinned when he was in control, and that it manifests itself in him not allowing the rest period between falls and taking it to the outside, where he will have the edge if this comes down to a brawl. But now the match has turned from a tactical encounter to a fight and its back and forth. I liked how with the tables turned, and Doug as the aggressor that it was Daniels who was looking to hang in and grab flash pinfall attempts where he can. There’s a great near fall where you think Doug has the match won off a bomb scare knee drop, but while Daniels survives that he is then vulnerable to the chaos theory and the winning fall goes to Williams to retain the title. This is not as good as some of their previous clashes, in particular their more high-profile match in ROH, however that is more of a sign of just how good their other matches between them are! These two always mesh so well together, and it’s nice after Williams won the belt in America to see him definitively beat Daniels in a title match in the UK as well. I really liked the stories they told through the 2/3 fall structure in this one. (*** ½)
  8. The Northern Exposure Tour was the second of two tours that the FWA would run in 2003, in an attempt to branch out of its southern base. The second tour was much more scaled down however, with just three nights instead of seven, mainly due to the local promoters that had ‘partnered’ with the FWA to put each event on pretty much all losing money. This first night of the tour is from the Morecambe Dome, which would become the company’s main Northern venue it would run going forward after this, and this is a first time in the FWA clash. This is face vs face, and so the early going is full of the standard early 2000s exchanges and indie stand-off sequences. Right from the start this shows that Fleisch is the quicker of the two, so I liked the basic storyline of Xavier realising he can’t hang with Jody and then switching things up and slowing things down. Xavier therefore becomes the de facto heel for the match, and I was impressed with how vicious he was being on simple moves and grinding in holds to show he was being more aggressive. This continues with Xavier locking in a really unique looking tarantula like move and then when Fleisch is hung up in the ropes dropkicking him to the floor where he takes a really nasty bump. Jody is always a good face in peril, and when it comes to his flying in this, is really spot on, wowing the crowd, who as I think I’ve said before on the FWA’s tour shows were more of a family audience than the FWA’s regular hardcore fans. While Xavier’s change in approach is successful in helping to control large sections of the match, his frustration grows when he can’t out Fleisch away, and that is when he tries to up the pace again and unleash the bigger weapons in his arsenal, moving away from the simpler ground game that had been working. Upping the pace though plays into Jody’s hands and leaves him vulnerable, and a 720 DDT out of nowhere gives Jody the win. The finish comes a bit out of nowhere, but shows the 720 is Fleisch’s kill shot, whereas Jody is able to survive Jack’s big moves like the rolling X-Plex. I liked the intensity in this match, and some of the rougher exchanges at times actually helped the match feel more rugged (***)
  9. TonyPulis'Cap

    Dark Side of the Ring: Viceland docu-series

    Watching many of these DSOR episodes there's such a depressing through line of the abuse and pain - mental and physical - that the women, be it wives, mothers, sisters, daughters in these wrestlers lives suffer. In each instance the causes may be slightly different, it may be amplified by things like CTE or drugs or alcohol, but it causes those in the wrestlers home lives to become victims of some warped and toxic reality, and I'm continuously amazed by the strength and resilience, of those that have managed to build lives for themselves in the years since when you consider what they have experienced.
  10. TonyPulis'Cap

    Bayley

    This is a great shout - given how green Nia was at the time, particularly in high profile matches, Bayley puts in a tremendous performance in this match, making Nia seem like a killer, while at the same time not diminishing herself - i.e. yes, she's the smaller opponent, but her skill and ability is keeping in her in the fight - she is not presented as fluking out a victory when she wins. It's a fine balance, and Bayley walks it perfectly in this match - it gave me definite Sting/Vader vibes. This is a perfect example of, for me, one of Bayley's best runs, between beating Sasha in Brooklyn to losing the NXT Women's Title to Asuka - where she is the ace of the NXT women's division. She is still the great babyface, but she has evolved from the 'super fan' / childlike Bayley, to being a great, fight all comers champion, one consistent with her naturally evolving character. If you want a great example of Bayley's ability, watch the title match she has on NXT TV against Eva Marie (I'll try to find the date). This is not a '5* classic' but is just fantastic pro-wrestling television, where to their credit WWE create the conditions for success by making you think that a screwjob is on the cards (with having main roster ref Charles Robinson specifically appointed) and preying on your assumptions for what *you think* WWE would traditionally want in a champion - i.e. someone that looks like Eva Marie. Bayley is so, so good in this match. To her credit, so is Eva Marie, who keeps up and plays her role to perfection, but you get clear evidence of Bayley's ability to lead a match and be the glue that holds it together. Yes, the Sasha matches are tremendous in NXT - proper classics, but matches like the one's discussed by others like against Nia, and this one against people fairly limited like Eva Marie are what makes her a real candidate for consideration in my eyes.
  11. TonyPulis'Cap

    2026 Ideas

    This has been a really interesting thread to read through. I came onto the board towards the tail end of the 2016 project, so enjoyed reading the discussions and the reveal of the list without submitting one myself as I didn't feel in a place to do so at that time. Fast forward to now and I'm definitely interested in getting involved this time, as it feels like this could be just the thing to reinvigorate my love for wrestling which has definitely been waning the last few years due to a variety of factors (general turn offs in the way wrestling is presented esp. WWE, pandemic era pro wrestling, Speaking Out etc.). I'm getting excited though about having something to focus my watching around and really getting to explore wrestlers and styles where I don't have that knowledge and re-evaluate areas I'm more familiar with. The only thing potentially holding me back is that I tend to enjoy episodic wrestling and find it hard to jump into individual matches - no matter how 'good' they are - without context, but having that overall framework or narrative of the project as a whole should help with that. It's been fascinating seeing the debates already, not about workers, but on how people will be judging them, and on that front, it's always hard given the subjective nature of all this. In saying that, one of the things I look for in a 'great' wrestler is their ability to change up their style or what they do in the ring (and indeed, even their appearance and demeanor) to fit the different context they find themselves in - so that ability to change what they do based on the setting, the storyline, the occasion etc. It's one of the things I hate most about modern WWE - everyone comes to the ring and wrestles as if they are in a computer game. Regardless of whether it's a blood feud or an enhancement match they wrestle it in exactly the same way with the same entrance poses and mannerisms.
  12. TonyPulis'Cap

    NWA Powerrr

    I know the episodes of Powerrr have now resurfaced on Fite, and like everybody else has said, it remains to be seen if that's a good move - but by deleting all their YouTube content it also means all the excellent 10 pounds of gold videos have gone as well which is a shame as those videos were what got me into the NWA in the first place. On reflection though, a lot of them - and other video content they had - included clips from lots of different other companies - Impact/ROH/UWN/AEW(?) - and so wondering if that might have caused an issue? I've been a big fan of the NWA revival the past couple of years and the overall presentation, but what the hell is left really?
  13. TonyPulis'Cap

    MLW Fusion, anyone watching it?

    A couple of random musings from the last couple of weeks of Fusion... I thought the final of the Opera Cup between Low Ki and Tom Lawlor was really good, although like Coffey, I was expecting Ki to win, as I thought they would set up him using that to challenge Jacob Fatu for the title, which I don't think is a match they've done yet. Given Lawlor is a heel like Fatu, that maybe adds more weight to Coffey's theory that Fatu may lose the belt to Hammerstone (who has been leaning more face the last few months) and then Lawlor will challenge him Like the idea of Salina bringing in Mil Muertes again, although like I think EL-P highlighted, outside of the heavily produced world of Lucha Underground, where he looked amazing and an absolute killer I do fear him getting a little bit exposed as a standard 'walk and brawl' type, but I'm a sucker for wrestler's having consistent characters across different companies/universes so love them leaning into the Lucha Underground background for his character. So far, Kings of Colosseum doesn't look the strongest card on paper, although there's still matches to be announced I would think to flesh out the crowd. One thing that is scheduled that I'm hyped for is the Myron Reed vs Lio Rush match which could be great. I've liked Rush's promos in the buildup.
  14. TonyPulis'Cap

    Herb Abrams UWF - help sought

    There's a 90 min show on Amazon Prime called 'Blood, Sweat and Brusies' - which is a comp of UWF matches you may want to check out. It's got a couple of the matches from Blackjack Brawl others have referenced. It's a fun watch if you've got an hour or so to spare. A young Cactus Jack comes across really well.
  15. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    Yeah, I guess I meant 'heels on paper' - think you're right in terms of they would definitely get cheers if they were doing the act in front of crowds, but either way, 'cool heels getting cheered' (as you say, as Bullet Club were in ROH) seems like a better fit for them than than trying to play the more traditional babyface roles they have sort of being doing so far which hasn't been too captivating. You can also see way more energy from them being aligned with Omega than the 'collecting a pay check' vibe they had been giving off prior to that.
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