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corwo

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  1. The first fall established Averno's dominance. Averno jumps Guerrero on the ramp, whipping him with his jacket. Guerrero monkey flips Averno into the ring and follows up with a quick flurry of offense, but Averno takes the fight outside and whips him into the barricade. Back inside, Averno shuts down Guerrero with a double underhook facebuster, following up with a cross arm breaker to submit Ultimo. Picking up where he left off, Averno targets his opponent's arm. Averno is a wonderfully slimy rudo, snapping Guerrero's bum limb across the ropes, putting the boots to him, and chopping his chest into raw meat. Averno revels in the boos of the crowd, almost as if he's mocking them at points. Guerrero fights back, but his temper gets the better of him, causing the referee to separate the two and allowing Averno to take a cheapshot. A missed splash in the corner allowed Guerrero to hit two consecutive Sentons de la Muerte, and he picked up the second fall. Averno begs off to start the third fall, signaling to the crowd for a timeout. Guerrero heads out after him, but it's another ploy, as Averno uses the diversion as an opportunity to kick Último. Guerrero fires up and hits a low dropkick off the apron, sending Averno crashing to the floor. Guerrero is the consummate técnico, high-fiving fans after diving across the barricade and onto Averno. Showing a bit of learned psychology from the previous fall, Averno counters the Senton de la Muerte by booting Guerrero in the chest. A simple counter, sure, but an effective one nonetheless. Guerrero attempts a moonsault, but Averno is there to yank him off the apron again. Everything builds to a crescendo, with Guerrero's dive off the top rope to the outside feeling monumental. The match admittedly starts to lose a bit of steam in the final act. The cascade of top-rope moves followed by near falls is long-winded, and they take their sweet time getting to the finish after Guerrero's dive, which feels like the apex of the match. But the atmosphere was enough to carry even the weaker portions of the contest. Averno hits a cross armbreaker off the top, but Guerrero narrowly escapes. Averno attempted a moonsault, but Guerrero recovered in time to hit a reverse superplex for the victory. Post-match, Guerrero calls out Averno for a hair match. They may no longer be spring chickens, but Guerrero and Averno delivered a bout that projected the feeling of importance more than almost anything I've seen all year. It wasn't flashy, but it didn't need to be. The raw emotion of Guerrero fighting valiantly to defend himself and a hot crowd wanting to see the villain get his comeuppance were enough on this night. I can only hope some younger luchadores come away from this match with the lesson that less is more.
  2. At its core, wrestling is about people of all shapes, sizes, and styles coming together to compete. Makabe and Hoodfoot’s methodologies could not be more opposite. Makabe’s known for his technical prowess, while Hoodfoot’s more of a fighter. Hoodfoot gets the better of an early mat exchange, showing off some of his amateur background and proving he can go with the best of them. Hoodfoot gradually frustrates Makabe into wrestling his kind of match, as they start throwing hands and spill to the outside. Hoodfoot grabs two chairs, culminating in the best bar fight spot I’ve seen in a minute. Hoodfoot lights Makabe up with chops but gets caught in an armbar. He swipes and kicks at Makabe, throwing him back into the ring. Makabe capitalizes on small mistakes, as Hoodfoot goes for one too many seated lariats and gets caught in a Kimura. Hoodfoot breaks a Border City Stretch by pulling Makabe’s kneepad down and headbutting him in the knee, which rules. After another brief exchange of trading blows, Makabe lands a big Unit Punch but gets taken down by a Saito Suplex. Hoodfoot reminds us of his bad ankle in subtle ways, massaging feeling back into it and pulling down his kneepad. Hoodfoot goes for a second Saito, but Makabe kicks at his bad knee. Makabe scrambles, desperately hitting three running dropkicks and another Unit Punch, collapsing and flinging his body across Hoodfoot for the win. In the end, it felt like both competitors had survived a war. This was uncooperative, scrappy and fierce. Possibly the best Different Style Fight I’ve seen all year.
  3. There’s a certain broad appeal to this match that I think just about anyone can enjoy. Everyone lays in their offense and brings a controlled energy to the bout. Sato takes a shellacking from the most proficient striker in the match, Sakaguchi. Sato and Sakaguchi trades kicks, but Sakaguchi always gets the better of his adversary. It builds to a crescendo where HARASHIMA and Higuchi come in, and when they do, boy does the pace ever pick up. Both competitors batter each other, going back-and-forth with chops and kicks. Higuchi’s selling as the unwavering yet beatable giant is phenomenal. He registers the damage of the strikes but stays one step ahead of HARASHIMA. There was one counter where HARASHIMA went for a Somato, and Higuchi chucked him into the mat that nearly had me jumping out of my seat. Higuchi eventually clamped on the Brain Claw and kept HARASHIMA down for three as he frantically struggled to escape. I love that even the finish played into Higuchi outsmarting HARASHIMA at every turn. I loved all of this, really.
  4. Unlike O'Reilly's recent match against a beloved member of the AEW roster, this was intense, focused, and violent. Kyle tends to lean into his worst habits, with over-the-top selling and convoluted spots that rarely land. But with Mox there to control the reins, his strengths are highlighted. His mat work is snug, and he turns up the aggression when it comes to his striking. Kyle shoots for the leg after a brief feeling-out process and almost nicks the win with an armbar. Mox busts out a Cornish Hipe, popping both myself and William Regal on commentary. Mox grounds O'Reilly, twisting the digits and stomping away at Kyle as he's on the mat. Unfazed by O'Reilly's strikes, Mox allows him to land a few blows, and starts bleeding from the mouth. Kyle traps Mox's toe under the bottom rope and hits a diving knee drop off the top rope. I like how Mox struggled to get out of the ropes as Kyle climbed up to the top. So often, you see wrestlers hang around waiting to get hit with a move. O'Reilly gradually chips away at the leg of Moxley, forcing our injured hero to deck Kyle with punches. O'Reilly blasts Mox with a dropkick on the outside, but allows him the time to get back into the ring. The lowlight of the match is undoubtedly O'Reilly's mounted open-hand strikes, which don't look great, as they lack the impact of some of his meatier elbow strikes and slaps later on. Kyle's leg work is ferocious, as he drapes Mox across the apron, alternating between forearms to the face and driving Mox's bad wheel into the mat. Mox's selling is subtle but poignant. Ever the opportunist, Mox hits the ropes when Kyle goes to the top again, allowing him a bit of respite. Rather than following up on a superplex, Mox takes the time to sell his arm, which got trapped underneath O'Reilly on the way down. Kyle goes back to the forearms, but Mox fires back with wicked headbutts. A chickenwing forces Kyle to bite the ropes to escape, and Mox decides to kick the ropes. Both scramble for submissions until Kyle eventually gets the better of an exchange with a knee. Even O'Reilly, whose selling I find overindulgent at the best of times, gave the sense that he was exhausted and any move could end the match. Mox stuffs O'Reilly with a Piledriver, but it's only enough for two. A hockey fight breaks out, and O'Reilly nails the Ax and Smash, then a Saito suplex, but Mox pops back up. No-selling is supposed to feel defiant, and this moment felt like Mox not giving Kyle the satisfaction of having his number, showing his toughness and resilience. Moxley put away O'Reilly with a Paradigm Shift in a thrilling main event. As I mentioned, not all of the striking landed, with some of Kyle's mounted punches feeling superfluous. But when everything else was as airtight and gruesome as it was, it's hard not to enjoy the match. The best showing I can recall from O'Reilly in some time, and another notch in Moxley's belt.
  5. DDT does these big, all-star tags better than pretty much anyone. Our, ahem, HERO! goes for a handshake at the beginning, but gets blown off. Takeshita and Sakaguchi begin in a battle of power vs. technique. That's not a match we've seen much of, to my knowledge, so it's nice to get a glimpse of it here, however brief it may be. HARASHIMA & Akiyama continue where they left off at CyberFight Festival, having a gripping mat exchange. Every time HARASHIMA goes for a tag, Honda hops off the apron until Antonio's former Happy Motel stablemate, Endo, comes in. They trade punches, and Honda collapses in one fell swoop, but he baits Endo in for a strike. Endo kicks out his leg of Honda, causing the enemy team to mock him as he tries to enter the ring. This section is so joyous that even the usually straight-laced Sakaguchi can't help but crack up on the apron. Honda is oddly endearing as the face in peril, constantly hurting his bad wheel in increasingly hilarious ways, including one where he goes for a dropdown and gets tripped by Endo. Wholesale tags to HARASHIMA and Akiyama follow. HARASHIMA gets the better of an exchange, and we go into a showdown between one of the most reliable pairings in DDT, HARASHIMA, and Sakaguchi. The two batter each other with kicks, each glancing blow having more impact than the last. Things eventually boil down to Endo & another of his former Happy Motel teammates and storied rivals, Takeshita. Despite being the least interesting section of the match, having neither the charm of Honda's isolation nor the intensity that HARASHIMA, Sakaguchi, and Akiyama bring to the table, it's still more explosive than Takeshita and Endo's recent singles efforts. Honda comes in swinging, jumping over Endo to try and knock Sakaguchi and Akiyama off the apron, but Endo trips him up. Honda then grabs the microphone and does his usual comedy routine. The Burning and Sakaguchi trio's energy is infectious, as they can't stop laughing at Honda's antics. Except for Akiyama, who takes an errant swing at Honda. Honda goes for a dive off the top rope, but Endo gets his feet up, only for Honda to reverse his pinfall attempt in a great nearfall. Takeshita and Sakaguchi wipe each other out with dueling Jumping Knees, and once again, it comes down to Honda and Endo. Endo fells his old mentor with a Torture Rack Bomb and a Burning Star Press for the win. A fitting celebration of DDT's 25th anniversary, displaying its past in Happy Motel and its present in Burning. While it's unlikely to be remembered as one of the best matches of the year, it's perhaps one of the most enjoyable.
  6. Starlane rules, as far as I can tell, are similar to UWF rules. Both competitors get five points, with knockdowns and rope breaks each using a point. If you use all of your points, you lose via TKO. Both scramble for holds immediately, with Nasu targeting the leg and Sasaki going after the arm. We're in the intimate venue of Basement Monstar. There's around 20 or 30 people in the crowd if I had to guess, so we get a nice, up-close look at the mat work. Sasaki switches up his game plan briefly, going after the leg, and forces Nasu to use his first escape. Nasu ties things up with a leg lock of his own. Nasu gets rocked with a knee, but like a shark smelling blood in the water, circles Sasaki and regains control. Nasu gets overzealous, slapping Sasaki in the face, but Sasaki sticks with the ankle lock, and this time Nasu's able to get out of it. A flurry of kicks follow, and that's three downs remaining for Nasu. Nasu caught Sasaki off-guard with a kick of his own, and Sasaki made it to his feet just in time for the referee to hit ten. A cross armbreaker from Sasaki followed, and suddenly Nasu was down to two points. Nasu can barely stand at this point, but he's still throwing errant kicks in an attempt to catch Sasaki unaware. Nasu goes for an ankle lock of his own, but Sasaki reverses the pressure and turns it into a sleeper. Exhaustion is setting in for both at this point, and Sasaki employs a deep side headlock to try and drain the energy out of his opponent, but Nasu reverses with a back suplex. Nasu makes the rookie mistake of getting into a striking battle with Sasaki, who nearly ends the match with a rolling Koppo Kick. Nasu sticks with the leg lock that's worked for him so far, forcing Sasaki to use his final rope break. Nasu goes for a backdrop driver, but Sasaki rolls through into a Boston Crab, forcing him to submit. Another banger from Sasaki, who has a great understanding of fundamentals and selling. Too often in shoot-style-inspired settings, I see people rely on rope breaks for drama. But in Sasaki's matches, they feel like a meaningful glimmer of hope for both competitors. There's always a sense of struggle to Sasaki's mat work, which I also appreciate. He's not out there feeding opponents his limbs so they can lock in a submission; he makes them fight for it. This was a feather in Sasaki's cap, but be sure to make note of Nasu. He was no slouch here either.
  7. Sasaki and Watanabe are tied one to one in tag matches, but Hitamaru has a fall over Soma, and Soma's victory came at the hands of partner Minoru Tanaka. This is the rubber match. Sasaki has the superior mat game, so he tries to goad Watanabe into trading submissions early on. Watanabe fights back by lighting up Sasaki with slaps, but Sasaki weaves in and out of holds seamlessly, turning a leg lock into an armbar. Sasaki's top-notch ground game was further established when he caught a leg-scissors from Soma and turned it into a single-leg Boston Crab, causing Watanabe to use his first escape. Sasaki made Soma scratch and claw for every submission, locking his hands to block an armbar attempt. A strike battle broke out, and Watanabe rocked Sasaki with a high kick, but he bounced back at the count of nine. Sasaki evened the odds with a kick of his own, and Soma spent the rest of the match fighting from the backfoot. The slap exchanges were resounding, like something you'd see in an actual fight. Watanabe gets the better of a submission battle and evens the score at three to three. Sasaki locks in a gnarly Fujiwara armbar, but Watanabe once again makes it to the ropes, hanging on by the skin of his teeth. In a callback to their first tag match, Sasaki goes for a piledriver, but it was reversed, and he turned it into an ankle lock. Soma fired up and got a second wind, nailing Sasaki with a German Suplex. Watanabe turned a driver into an armbar, leading to Sasaki using one last escape. One final flurry followed, but Soma ultimately tapped to a sleeper. I loved how Sasaki's hubris almost cost him the match, as he seemingly underestimated Watanabe, and it was nearly his downfall. One heck of a match.
  8. Sasaki choked out Watanabe in a tag match before this one, leading to Soma calling out Sasaki. Sasaki and Watanabe begin, kicking us off where the last match between them ended. Sasaki scrambles for holds, smothering Soma on the mat, but he's unable to gain the advantage. Tensions are high as Watanabe kicks away Sasaki's attempt at a friendly handshake. Tags to Hara and Tanaka follow. The holds aren't just for show. Both Hara and Tanaka look like they want to hurt one another and sink in deep leg locks that end in a stalemate. Hara forces Tanaka into the corner, but Sasaki allows his opponent a brief respite. Sasaki traps the legs and twists Tanaka into an armbar in a gorgeous transition. Still, neither can gain the advantage, and we return to Hara and Watanabe. Things start getting chippy, and Hara goes for a stomp. The mat work is breathtaking, feeling like there's a constant struggle for control of the match. Soma's able to escape the leg lock Sasaki's been going for the whole time, and it looks as if we're going to get a repeat of the last match, but he escapes a chokehold by desperately grabbing the ropes. Sasaki sticks with his game plan and avoids a rolling Koppo Kick, lighting up Soma with strikes. Watanabe hits a driver and transitions into an armbar, making Sasaki use a rope break of his own. Sasaki follows back with a high knee, downing Soma. In come Hara and Tanaka, as Manabu catches Minoru off-guard with a flurry of kicks. A triangle choke causes Tanaka to reach for the ropes, and suddenly, the blue team's on their last legs. Tanaka catches Hara with a flash Minoru Special, and that's all she wrote. Uncooperative, breezy, and not overly reliant on gimmicks. A gratifying slice of shoot-style in a world where that's becoming increasingly uncommon.
  9. The appeal of this match is real simple. It's a guy who's built like a tank vs. a kicky boy. That dynamic plays out exactly how you'd imagine. Nozaki steamrolls Umeda with shoulder blocks, but Umeda makes good use of the Steamboat rule, fighting back whenever possible. Nozaki tries to take away the impact of Umeda's kicks, grounding him with a Boston Crab. Umeda bounces back with rapid-fire kicks, going after the leg to try and wear out his larger opponent. Umeda's been wrestling sporadically for the past few years, but the attitude and confidence that first drew me to him is still present. If he ever decides to return to wrestling full-time, he has star potential. Umeda nails Nozaki with a running high kick, but the behemoth follows it up with a Golden Spear for the win. A fun little romp that doesn't outstay its welcome.
  10. Tanaka defeated Sasaki with a high kick in the latter's first GLEAT match to date, leading to this tag bout. Watanabe shoves Sasaki before the bell, setting the tone for the match. A cagey start follows, with both competitors relying on kicks. Neither was able to gain the advantage, and wholesale tags were made. Tanaka had to rely on his technique to overwhelm the brute force of Nozaki, forcing him into the corner to make a tag out to Sasaki. Sasaki and Tanaka become entangled in a battle of leglocks, forcing Hitamaru to use the first rope break for his team. Back inside, Nozaki overwhelms Soma and shows off some impressive mat work of his own. One minor quibble I have with this match is that it felt like Nozaki wasn't able to showcase his skill-set as much with the focus being on Sasaki, Watanabe, and to a lesser extent, Tanaka. It felt like he disappeared for large segments of the match, often tagging out almost as quickly as he entered the ring. Nozaki caught Tanaka in a deep side headlock, but Minoru escaped, only to be downed by a lariat. A leg lock followed shortly thereafter, and Nozaki was forced to use another rope break. An opportunistic German suplex kept Watanabe down long enough for Sasaki to make the tag. From there, Watanabe and Sasaki started swinging wildly with kicks. After a blistering closing stretch, Sasaki hit a piledriver, then locked in a chokehold for the win. Not quite a great match, but one that got a lot right. If their interactions here were any indication, I'm in for a treat when I get to Sasaki and Watanabe's singles match from a few weeks later.
  11. The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho, Matt Menard, Angelp Parker, Daniel Garcia & Jake Hager) vs The Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson), Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz --- ANARCHY IN THE ARENA A wild, hate-filled spectacle with forks, sunglasses, a jib camera, and a turnbuckle being among a few weapons used. “Wild Thing” blared throughout the first few minutes until Jericho smashed a soundboard. Garcia’s piledriver onto the steps looked gnarly. Mox channeled his inner-L.A. Park by chucking a full cooler at Jericho’s head. Most everyone was willing to let the juices flow, and there was insane energy to all of it. Danielson fish hooking Hager with a turnbuckle is the kind of unhinged, creative violence you’ve come to expect from the G.O.A.T. Santana and Ortiz wiped out Parker and Menard with stereo dives off ladders. Kingston being so obsessed with getting revenge on Jericho that he was willing to dump gasoline on his partner to burn the former was perfect, the sort of palpable hatred this kind of match relies on. This match is an example of being better than the sum of its parts. It just so happens that stellar performances from a few of the all-time greats, and one of the best prospects in wrestling buoyed this thing. Everyone held up their end, even Jericho (who’s a coward for not bleeding, by the way), but Bryan, Kingston, Mox, and Garcia were on another level. Jericho put Danielson in the Walls of Jericho as Hager choked him with the dismantled ring ropes, and the feud must continue. Few matches this year, if any, have captured the sense of pageantry and wonder of a blood-feud like this did.
  12. Mox is the front-runner this year for having these crazy, out-of-control feeling fights. He gets busted open on a spill to the outside, and he and Garcia beat each other senseless. I would've liked to see Garcia work the cut a bit more, but that's a minor nitpick. Mox's selling of the leg, even on offense, was tremendous. This kicked butt.
  13. Solid TV match. Hector has impressive high spots for 1979. This was heavily one-sided, but Rose's bumping and selling was enough to make it engaging. The babyfaces going after Rose's arm in their matches after the big angle with him and Jay Youngblood is a small detail I love. I do find it odd that after Hector controlled most of the match, Rose came back and won anyway, especially since the decision was reversed immediately.
  14. The first several minutes consist of the heels pinballing around the ring for the faces, and the faces passing off their opponents' limbs to each other. Starr plays FIP for a bit, and is quite good at it. George Wells comes in hot, but The Army's revolving-door tags are too much and he eventually gets eliminated. The heels once again use the numbers game to eliminate Hector. Starr pins Brooks off of a misplaced knee drop from Wiskoski and everything breaks loose. Rose & Wiskoski end up turning on their fellow Army stablemates, leading to the match being ruled a no-contest. High-quality TV wrestling with a hot angle to boot.
  15. Fun six-man tag with a bunch of vibrant characters. Rose & Wiskoski are only out for themselves, so they keep getting into situations where they accidentally hit Bass and try to calm him down. Mayne and Savage on the other hand, want to get their hands on Rose for trying to break Jay Youngblood's arm. The finish falls a little flat, being a TV time-limit draw, but it all leads to the post-match angle where Bass gets his payback by attacking Rose & Wiskoski during an interview.
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