Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


Recent Profile Visitors

1995 profile views
  1. SmartMark15

    Joseph Montecillo Video Essays

    Thanks man! It's an argument I've been mentally building for about a year now so I was really ready to dig in as much as possible to be as comprehensive as I could.
  2. SmartMark15

    Joseph Montecillo Video Essays

    Daniel Bryan is the greatest wrestler of all time. Let's talk about it...for an hour. Including thoughts from Chris Hero, Daniel Makabe, Dominic Garrini, Kevin Ku, Erick Stevens, Lee Moriarty, Robbie Eagles, & Eddie Kingston.
  3. SmartMark15

    Joseph Montecillo Video Essays

    The conclusion to the Bryan-Nigel trilogy!
  4. On the surface, this match looks like a truly great Triple H performance that benefits from having the greatest of all time as a dance partner. His offense is more focused and crisp than its been in years. He attacks Bryan’s arm with the vicious calculation that you want of a bully that names himself “The Cerebral Assassin.” He switches up his arsenal of moves to really take it to our intrepid hero, adding such nice touches as a hammerlock slam on the apron and even a Tiger Suplex. If you’re not paying attention, this feels like a final hurrah from an Attitude Era legend before slinking away into the WWE corporate office. Don’t let Triple H’s antics fool you. Daniel Bryan’s fingerprints all over this match. It is nearly impossible for me to believe that Triple H could have wrestled this match with anyone else. Apron bumps and Tiger Suplexes are the kind of Japanese influenced moments that tie much closer to someone like Bryan than they do Triple H. Don’t know if it’s just me but I can’t really picture bulky Triple H ordering All Japan tapes or even knowing how what a Misawa is. There’s other things in there too. Triple H slaps on a Chickenwing Crossface in here which does feel somewhat on brand with the 80s obsession that Triple H has but am I not supposed to think of the fact that Bryan used that move to win the ROH World Championship? At one point, Bryan leaps off the top rope for his diving headbutt only for Triple H to get a knee up. This spot is definitively a Bryan spot–he’s been incorporating it into matches since the 2000s. There’s the fact that it ends after Bryan hits his highly protected Running Knee–many of Bryan’s big WWE matches protect the finish of the winner with the loser falling as soon as its hit. The format and the offense all scream Daniel Bryan. We’ll never truly know who thought of what but this reeks of yet another Daniel Bryan miracle work carryjob. I can’t prove it but I think it makes sense especially when you look at what other Triple H epics look like down the line. All in all, this match does a lot to exemplify all of Triple H’s strengths as a pro wrestler–placing himself in the right place at the right time. He is a worker in the same way that Chris Jericho is: far more focused on fabricating an image of himself than to actually contributing to anything in the ring. Limited as he personally is, he’s always had a good eye for recognizing talent. It’s that ability to spot talent that’s helped him siphon the independent scene over the last few year. It’s that ability that’s allowed him to hitch himself to the hottest acts in the promotion in an attempt to leech off their heat to fuel himself. Triple H is a succubus of talent–feeding upon it to keep up the illusion of his own worth. ****1/2 FULL REVIEW: https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/04/25/daniel-bryan-vs-triple-h-wwe-wrestlemania-xxx-4-6-2014/
  5. SmartMark15

    [2020-04-17-WWE-SmackDown] Cesaro vs Daniel Bryan

    Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler of the COVID era, a sad title to hold but here we are. This banger against Cesaro on the most recent Smackdown paid off on the promise of their first empty PC match by going longer and having a proper conclusion. Bryan’s one of the few people in the WWE who instinctively understands how to work in the empty arena setting. Eliminate rest holds, make no time for taunting (who are you getting heat from?), and keep the pace up to stop any dead air from building. I gush about Bryan, of course, but Cesaro absolutely earns some praise here too. His strikes look and sound fantastic as always and here he even gets to flex his incredibly impressive selling. Crammed a lot of good arm selling into the match despite its length. Mix that with all the fantastic power moves that he uses to transition out of control segments and you have a strong banger of a match that delivers exactly what is needed. **** https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/daniel-bryan-vs-cesaro-wwe-smackdown-4-17-20/
  6. SmartMark15

    [2007-04-23-WWE-Raw] John Cena vs Shawn Michaels

    FULL REVIEW: https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/john-cena-vs-shawn-michaels-wwe-raw-4-23-07/ I watched this match again today for the first time in years, wondering just how it might hold up to my ever changing standards and aesthetics of pro wrestling. It features Shawn Michaels, someone who’s become increasingly hit or miss for me, against arguably the greatest WWE wrestler of all time in John Cena. These two wrestled in the WrestleMania 23 main event a few weeks prior in front of a crowd that definitely skewed towards Shawn Michaels. At the time, the Big Four pay-per-views screened in local cinemas in the Philippines instead of on free TV as they had before. One of my earliest vivid memories of wrestling is watching that main event in a cold theater and for the first time in my life being disappointed that John Cena won. At the time, John Cena was in the middle of a year long plus reign as the WWE Champion. Although he first won the championship in 2005, this run with the belt did the most to cement his status as the top man in the WWE for the next decade. At the same time, however, Cena also found himself in the middle of a fan rebellion against him. His feud with Triple H in 2006 plus his run against the smark haven of the ECW One Night Stand fans meant that Cena developed a reputation of being a bad wrestler. It’s around this time in his career that chants of “You can’t wrestle” got lobbed in his direction, a frankly insulting assertion given that Cena wrestled the greatest Last Man Standing match of all time just three months prior to this. The first act of the match feels like a direct response to that section of the fandom. Michaels works as a heel aggressor, trying to use Cena’s arm to control him on the mat only for Cena to constantly counter his way out of each hold. With each attempt Shawn makes to ground Cena, the champion has an easy answer to frustrate Shawn. Multiple times in the first few minutes, Cena also goes for the STFU which tapped out Shawn at WrestleMania. Shawn does a good job conveying a fear of the hold as he scrambles to the ropes each time. From there, the match paces itself wonderfully well. This match famously goes close to an hour long–a rarity for non-stipulation singles matches in the WWE–and it honestly doesn’t feel its length. It segments itself pretty clearly from babyface shine to heat segment into a comeback and finishing stretch. Instead of wild, crowd-popping offense to mark his shine however, Cena instead relies mostly on a headlock in the early goings. It serves to depict his progression as an all around performer as he gets to dominate Shawn on the mat. Props to Michaels here in this segment as well, he does a lot to put over just how much of a mountain Cena is to him at this point. There’s a part of Michaels that definitely underestimated Cena both at Mania and here tonight and he’s discovering just how much of a mistake that is. It’s honestly delightful to see how cool Cena remains in control–never really rubbing it in the faces of the fans that disdain him. It’s the kind of calm certainty on top that would mark other great performances of his such as the Money in the Bank 2011 classic. Shawn tries to find a way out of Cena’s grasp but the champion’s technical soundness and inhuman strength allow Cena to maintain control. He works over Michaels’ back with a series of big powerslams and suplexes spaced out between sections on the mat. Michaels finally catches a lucky break when he’s able to dodge a Cena shoulder tackle. The fall damages Cena’s left shoulder which opens an opportunity for Shawn to attack. He rams that same shoulder into the steel steps outside to set up a neat control segment here. He doesn’t do too much in the way of brutal or creative arm work but the big hits to the steps and Shawn’s follow up justify Cena’s selling of the arm. And oh boy can that man sell. Cena’s five moves of doom comeback arrives but it’s elevated by delightful arm selling from Cena. It’s nothing too blatant but it’s there for the people watching. The arm bothers him and the champion strikes that perfect balance between expressive and subtle selling that’s the mark of the truly all time greats. Shawn for his part gets the time to sell as well. Cena really works over his back and Shawn bumps hard for him even an over the turnbuckle to the floor bump off a hard Irish whip. Michaels always leaned towards the more expressive and theatrical side of physicality in wrestling, very much just a few steps behind Kenny Omega in that regard. There’s nothing here about it that’s too annoying and he even throws in some moments of subtlety as well such as struggling with the follow through to his famous kip up comeback. Things even escalate into floor spots quite nicely as Shawn knocks Cena off the apron ribs-first into the announce table. He goes for a piledriver to the steps like he did at Mania only for Cena to reverse it this time, dropping him back first onto the floor. A commercial break later and things have escalated into a punch out on the announce table as Cena goes nuts trying to beat Shawn into the dirt. What follows is a pretty standard WWE finishing stretch from that time–teasing finishers until one guy finally nails it flush. This time, Shawn gets the Sweet Chin Music after escaping an FU attempt to get the three count on the champion. This is a great match, one of the best of 2007. It’s matches like this that do validate a lot of Shawn’s influence from Flair in the 80s. The pacing and execution of this match very much reminded me of a Flair championship defense with Shawn, of course in that role. Perhaps if Shawn had actually worked as a full heel instead of the tweener role he winds up with here, it could tip this into the realm of all time classics but as it stands now, it’s still one of the better matches from either man’s career. This stands up just as well now as it did years ago and I’m glad to have come to that conclusion. As much as there’s good reason to hate Shawn Michaels and his work, there’s a childish comfort in knowing that I can still pick and choose to find gems like this in his repertoire. At the same time, it makes the thought of tackling his more divisive matches all the more daunting. After all, Shawn gets to work this match against the greatest wrestler in his company’s history. What might the result be when left to less capable hands? Questions best left for another day. At least we’ll always have London. ****1/2
  7. SmartMark15

    Joseph Montecillo Video Essays

    Part 2 of my Nigel vs. Bryan video! Part
  8. FULL REVIEW: https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/johnny-gargano-vs-tomasso-ciampa-wwe-nxt-4-8-20/
  9. SmartMark15

    Joseph Montecillo Video Essays

    On today's video, I look into one of the most famous US independent rivalries of all time between Bryan Danielson and Ngiel McGuinness. Also, a healthy serving of clips from Amadeus, my favorite movie of all time. he
  10. SmartMark15

    [2020-03-29-NOAH-20th Anniversary] Go Shiozaki vs Kazuyuki Fujita

    In 2013, a friend of mine took me to see the movie Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan by local director Lav Diaz. More than the actual content and plot of the film itself, I remember the actual viewing experience most of all. My friend and I watched it at the cinema and I had been warned ahead of time that the runtime went beyond the four hour mark. One of Lav Diaz’s stylistic trademarks as a director is the use of long, extended shots that hold on moments in the film for minutes at a time whether or not actual plot is transpiring on screen. This explains the long runtime of his films but also creates a distinctly challenging experience for any viewer. For some, boredom will inevitably arise. But in the moment, while trying to make sense of it, such scenes can evoke a sense of focus and concentration on the movie that heightens the experience of viewing it. The act of watching a movie suddenly shifts from the passive to the active as stillness draws the eye in much more than frantic movement. This is what came to mind when I watched the GHC Heavyweight Title match between Go Shiozaki and Kazuyuki Fujita. The most notable aspect of this match is definitely the extended staredown that takes up the first half of this near hour long match. Shiozaki and Fujita use up 35 full minutes keeping their distance in the ring simply staring each other down. Shiozaki does so from the center of the ring while Fujita stands his ground in the corner, shifting only once to move to another side of the ring. The 35 minutes plays out in near silence as the show is being run in front of an empty Kouraken Hall. The only sounds come from the clicks of cameras and the light nudging to action from wrestlers at ringside as well as the referee. In that 35 minutes, I found myself getting sucked in by the nothingness on display. There’s a hypnotic quality to seeing so little in a wrestling ring. Pure minimalism somehow mixed with the excess and grandeur of pro wrestling. Doing nothing in the most spectacular way possible. It was such a bold and compelling choice that I found myself far more involved in this half hour stillness than most ten minute opening segments in comparable matches elsewhere. In fact after a while, I couldn’t help but feel like the segment took on a satirical tone in its absurdity. It takes the often maligned uneventful first acts of many an epic title match and extending that to its unnatural and overblown extreme–making it fresh again in the process. Of course, this segment could not possibly have existed without the extreme circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s simply no way that a segment like this could work in front of a Kouraken Hall crowd. It’s too much of a risk to run in front of a live audience who can provide their instant feedback. But in the controlled and quiet environment of an empty arena, something as risky as this is allowed to thrive. So often, we hear about the ability of wrestler’s to feed off the crowd. To take the energy being given to them and amplifying it as a part of their performance. Here, we get exactly that. Without the crowd, what Fujita and Shiozaki have to feed off is silence. And they do it perfectly. Instead of fighting against and trying to futilely fill the void, they enhance and amplify it instead. It is truly stunning. A lot of this, of course, is projection on my part. There’s no telling what the true intent of any of this was. But the fact that it struck such a chord with me and got me thinking not only on what I was seeing but even questioning the aesthetic of what good pro wrestling should look like means that it has an innate value for anyone to watch. Regardless of its intent, it is a provocative piece of pro wrestling in how it attacks both emotion and one’s critical faculties. I dedicated so much time to discussing this segment only because these two wrestlers in turn dedicated so much time to it as well. It’s impossible not to talk about given the space that it consumes as part of this match. But don’t let all the talk about this particular aspect of the match take away from the fact that when these two do start going, it kicks unbelievable amounts of ass. Kazuyuki Fujita is an absolute beast of a man. He’s wide, thick, and almost grotesquely shaped. When he starts laying in on Shiozaki, it runs a wide gamut of emotions. There’s the subtle almost dismissive violence of trying to smother Shiozaki by covering his mouth as they struggle on the mat, the hilarity of the man spitting hand sanitizer on Shiozaki or even trying to batter his way into the Kouraken Hall elevators, then the sheer visceral horror of a man trying to kick another person’s head off. The magnitude and excellence of Fujita’s performance here does a lot to overshadow Shiozaki. In discussions of this match with two separate friends of mine, both found most of their issues with the defending GHC Heavyweight Champ in this match. Funnily enough, their problems with Shiozaki came from opposite ends of the spectrum with one not enjoying his offense and the other not enjoying his selling. For me personally, Shiozaki was fine. Credit where it’s due, the man took an absolute beating at the hands of Fujita. The strikes that Shiozaki absorbed here were horrific especially those two head punts down the stretch. His lariats aren’t amazing by the end but the structuring of the match that made Fujita feel like such an insurmountable force making Shozaki fight from beneath helped me to overlook that. What an absolute spectacle of a match. Ranging from peaceful silence to cacophonous violence, this is a title match that has an ambition that I truly don’t see being matched for a very long time. This might be too bold a claim to make in only the third month of 2020 especially when global level doom seems to loom on the horizon, but this is an early match of the decade candidate for me. It feels so far beyond anything else that I’ve seen this year and it will be near impossible to match. It’s also an anomaly of a match that invites any and all opinions that will each have pretty much the same amount of validity. Anyone who says that 35 minutes of no action is both wasteful and boring is just as right as anything else I’ve said above. But in the end, I return to the idea that this match must be seen. ***** https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/go-shiozaki-vs-kazuyuki-fujita-noah-20th-anniversary-noah-the-chronicle-vol-2-3-29-20/
  11. One of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak is how various wrestling promotions have reacted to the policies set up in their respective locations and how that affects the cases that various wrestlers get to build. Because of everything happening right now, some talents are getting much more chances to shine without much in the way of competition. To put it simply, it’s a bunch of nerdy stuff that doesn’t truly matter in the world that we live in and these shows happening right now really shouldn’t be happening at all. That’s the main takeaway. But also, Kenny Omega’s shot to the front of the line in the wrestler of the year race. The guy’s already built an incredibly solid base for himself with the fantastic Tag Team Title run with Hangman Page but he’s since supplemented that with two top line MOTY candidates vs. PAC and against The Young Bucks at Revolution. And now, he comes out and has a really good title match against Sammy Guevara on empty arena Dynamite. Sammy’s one of my favorites on the AEW roster for all the character that he brings to every match. He’s coming in working as the undersized arrogant prick but he creates a lot of openings for himself here. Outside of just some good counter wrestling, he also goes for Omega’s bad hand to create moments of opportunity for himself. Omega sells the hand well too throughout until it’s time to go into Cleaner mode and just obliterate Sammy into dust here. Really great tense finishing stretch here that felt really earned as the match built up to it incredibly well with the time that it was given. Another great performance in a year filled with them for Kenny Omega while one of my favorite midcard acts in AEW gets a chance to show off with one of the top guys. All in all, a big win. ***3/4 https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/kenny-omega-vs-sammy-guevara-aew-dynamite-3-25-20/
  12. SmartMark15

    [2020-03-08-WWE-Elimination Chamber] Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak

    At this point, it’s almost embarrassing how much Daniel Bryan can achieve with an inconsistent midcard push compared to how others make use of full blown main event support. On back to back pay-per-views, Bryan’s created something out of what seemed like nothing. Whereas at the Rumble, the nothing he worked with was an overwrought character with very little actual substance to back up all their razzle dazzle, here the nothing comes from a complete lack of storyline and heat. Drew Gulak is far from a nothing performer, he’s the kind of nerdbait great worker that’s gotten accolades from a lot of people I respect but that I simply haven’t gone out of my way to see much of. Here, Gulak gets to work with the best dance partner of them all and someone he’s clearly admired for a long time. You have Gulak outworking Bryan to start, forcing Bryan to take a step back to reconsider his opponent. That translates into great moments of reversal like Gulak getting the Romero Special on Bryan instead of vice versa. Stuff like that enhances all the connective tissue that makes this match such a joy to unfold. And hey, if you get bored with mat-based technical wrestling, Bryan also does a few suicidal bumps because he’s the best. The angle and height that Bryan took that German on is the kind of next level dedication that makes him the most exceptional worker in history. For him to follow that up with one of the most convincing ten count sells since Naito’s in the Dome makes it an even better structural piece of the puzzle. Not merely a dazzling spot but one that’s followed through and considered with its appropriate consequences. Bryan’s selling, in general, is beautifully on display in this match up. From having tingles in his fingers from being dropped on his neck to the emotional expressions of being surprised by the level of Gulak’s ability. What an amazing match, a top two match in the WWE so far this year (which let’s be honest isn’t hard to do given the level of quality that WWE cranks out). Happy that both these guys got the space to craft something so lovingly considered and thought out. We’re all the better for it. https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/09/daniel-bryan-vs-drew-gulak-wwe-elimination-chamber-3-8-20/ ****1/4
  13. SmartMark15

    [2020-03-23-AJPW-Dream Power Series] Kento Miyahara vs Suwama

    Very boring for about ten to fifteen minutes then suddenly very good. Suwama ruled as a big man forcing Kento work from underneath. Found Kento much more compelling as an underdog babyface rather than a cocky top ace or maybe it was just a nice break in the formula. Either way, things were a bit plodding for the first half of the match especially when the action spilled out to the floor. Kento’s floor segments really are just a whole lot of nothing and it disrupts the momentum of the match pretty much every single time, stunting things before the actual match can get going in the ring five minutes later. But when things got going, they were really good. Suwama tossed Kento around with some great suplexes. Kento was driven to a desperation piledriver on the apron but Suwama still kept coming back with his throws and double handed chops. Really enjoyed just watching Kento absolutely get owned by this old man for a good thirty or forty minutes. Suwama pulls out the Jumbo combo of a big dropkick and a bridging backdrop hold to get the win and become Triple Crown Champ in what seems to be a very strange booking move. Even as someone who doesn’t religiously follow All Japan, sacrificing the lengthy Kento title reign to last decade’s Ace is questionable to say the least. Booking aside, the match took a while to get going but once it did, it rarely let up and was a fun ride. ***3/4 https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/kento-miyahara-vs-suwama-ajpw-dream-power-series-3-23-20/
  14. SmartMark15

    [2020-03-07-wXw-AMBITION 12] Daisuke Ikeda vs Yuki Ishikawa

    It’s old dudes punching each other in the face. I don’t know how else to more succinctly explain the appeal of this match. For a more discerning fan than I, there is decades of history and legacy between those two that enhances every move they did in the ring on this night. Being a much simpler kind of dullard though, I enjoyed it because it was two old dudes doing irresponsible and stupid things with their bodies. The punches in this match thud with such a disgusting smack that it’s almost comic to an indie crowd who have been taught thigh slaps and kick pads. Once you get past the initial shock with a laugh, what you’re left with is stiff strikes and two men headbutting each other very hard. It’s shocking, almost disgusting, and insanely compelling stuff. ****1/4 https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/yuki-ishikawa-vs-daisuke-ikeda-wxw-ambition-12-3-7-20/
  15. SmartMark15

    [2020-03-07-WXW-16 Carat Gold: Night Two] Mike Bailey vs Bandido

    I’m so rarely the low vote on something as universally loved as this match even among the harsher critics in my own bubble. But I just didn’t understand this one at all. Surely, it didn’t aspire to be anything more than just a fun spotfest and they definitely worked that match towards that aim but even from that lens, I don’t understand. After the initial enthusiasm for both guys at the bell, the crowd lulls almost entirely into an exhausted dullness as these two run through their back and forth awesome. Things perk up again after Bailey’s springboard off the top to the floor but then things just settle into a pretty monotonous trading of spots. Very little sense of escalation or struggle in transition. Just moves being done that are pretty cool in their own right. But then they just continue happening and these two just absolutely lose me. But hey, who am I to complain? I didn’t lose any cash throwing money into the ring after. Depending on just how much hype this sustains through this year, this feels like it’ll be 2020’s Ospreay-Shingo for me. **1/4 https://josephmontecillo.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/bandido-vs-mike-bailey-wxw-16-carat-gold-2020-night-2-3-7-20/