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MJH

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  1. MJH

    Bret Hart

    Suplex-12 posted (in the Necro thread) a handheld of a six man from Cologne in 2010 with Bret, Harry Smith and TJ against Nexus and I felt compelled to add a comment on it here because it really is a glorious example of how to protect and work around a guy in Bret's condition. Given that all the other guys in the match will have looked up to Bret, it figures that he was the one dictating his spots and I'm giving him the credit for it. You want to get Bret in early as a nice pop, so they do the time-tested rotating wristlet spot that every baby face team has done countless times. Bret then throws in an arm drag, drops a knee on the arm and gets out. But what's really clever is the end. (Incidentally, I just watched Bret's spots and skipped through the rest). Obviously, TJ took the heat and Bret can't do a hot tag, so right before that, Heath Slater cheapshots him, Harry does the hot tag, and then Bret gets back in thirty seconds later after tripping Heath from outside. Because of the cheap shot, it makes perfect sense for Bret now to just throw punches, run Heath's forehead across the top rope, and basically "brawl". He can't do the leg sweep or drop the elbow from the second rope, and even his back breaker would be a bad idea on his knees, so he lifts Heath for it, Heath gouges free, there's a cheap bump on Gabriel and Heath walks into an atomic drop, facing Bret, because that variant means Heath puts no weight on Bret when he lands (unlike the other way around) and falls perfectly into position for the Sharpshooter and that's the match. Nothing there strikes you as terribly clever at first glance, and it's not like anyone was expecting Bret to do a great deal (he was in for ninety seconds at most), but, it's actually a great example of hiding an older wrestler's physical condition in a natural way that makes sense within the match so that his limitations, whilst there of course, are not nearly as obvious as they otherwise could be. Nobody is gonna say that Bret was (or would have been had he done a longer run) awesome in 2010, but the guy was still an incredibly smart, detail-focused worker. And when Kingston or anyone else talks about picking up "little things" from Bret, well, I hope it's exactly this sort of thing. He's the best agent they never had.
  2. I hardly have the time to get to watch any wrestling these days, but I did watch Omega/Danielson. It was an excellent TV match and I liked how much restraint they showed, in leaving a lot of room for "escalation" in future matches. On the subject of Omega's goofiness, I'm somewhat in the middle. But what particularly blew me away was the dragon suplex on the ramp. That's, obviously, an incredibly risky spot, but how Omega managed to make that look painful whilst at the same time protecting Danielson as much as could be possible on such a spot was astounding. Whatever issues one might have with his performance generally, he has un-fucking-believable technique.
  3. MJH

    AJW 1995

    Tag League The Best Finals: December 10th, 1994 Before we get to the matches themselves, it's worth my pointing out that all three teams involved in the tie had already worked a match on this show: Kyoko and Hasegawa had beaten Yamada and Hotta, and Toyota and Takako had beaten Aja and Reggie (Toyota pinning the latter). It would be, at least for me, more interesting if we had at least those matches to see how they (assuming they did, but it figures as such) mixed things up. Anyway... Aja Kong/Reggie Bennett vs. Kyoko Inoue/Sakie Hasegawa You'd think, given the size differences and the fact that they'd just lost to bring on this round-robin play-off, that Aja (in particular) and Reggie would look to dominate this early and make a statement, but it's actually quite back and forth. Nothing much to say about it, really; it's worked as if they expected it to be cut up on TV/tape. Aja Kong/Reggie Bennett vs. Manami Toyota/Takako Inoue This is worked closer to what I expected the first match to be: Takako doesn't enter the match for the first five minutes and it's all about the monsters working over Toyota; when she does make it in, she's quickly dominated too. Takako gets a breakthrough working Aja's leg, but that doesn't go anywhere once Toyota comes back in. Typical back and froth down the stretch and Toyota actually beats Aja with that evil looking leg clutch off the top. This, naturally, gets a massive pop. Manami Toyota/Takako Inoue vs. Kyoko Inoue/Sakie Hasegawa With Takako and Sakie switched, these would have a super match the following August. This is fine for what it is, each team's third match of the night, but the finish is interesting. Takako just randomly snaps, and nodowas both Kyoko and Sakie off the apron to the floor, then sets them both on a table (on top of each other) and Toyota splashes them from the post to the floor. That looked especially rough for Sakie, who was on the bottom. Kyoko eventually kicks out, tries to get a bit of offence, but it doesn't go anywhere and Toyota takes it home. Another show for collectors this (it's sold with the December 23rd Korakuen show which I'll watch later), but a perfectly enjoyable 45 minutes. There are clips afterwards of a tour they did in Bali (per the WON, they had 20 local "prospects" in attendance who were put off by how rough the style was). This would actually be interesting to have seen a bit more of: they're working in a kickboxing ring, with four ropes (ropes, not cables, and loose), the ring inside sounds hard as hell (there's a dull thud with every bump), plus it being an exhibition of sorts, they're doing a lot more roll ups and strikes rather than bumps; it's the type of thing I'm always curious to see how they cope with it.
  4. MJH

    AJW 1995

    By the end of 94, a lot of things had run their course, and where to go from there? As I mentioned at the start, I'll be keeping an eye on attendances and such like, going through old WONs, but my thought on that has always been that they were looking for the quick pops, a kind of desperate Russoism, especially in Toyota's first win.
  5. MJH

    AJW 1995

    Hey guys, Been forever since I was on here as the reality is I've been caught up in so many different things I just haven't had much time to watch any wrestling, save the odd match here and there for nostalgia and so on. But as I'm back in the UK for a month, in quarantine for this week and next, and in the process of copying my DVDs over onto an external hard drive, I thought I'd set myself a little "project" to watch. Back in the day I was one of the Joshi "defenders", but whereas the majority of my men's DVDs are on YouTube, etc, I guess Zenjo et al lost their popularity just before those platforms took off and there's far less of it out there. And when there used to be more discussion of Joshi, Big Egg tended to be the last recommended show. Obviously the same group of girls continued to be there until 1997, and as there's no reason to think they suddenly dropped off a cliff in talent after that show, I've decided I'm going to watch all the AJW tapes I have from after Big Egg, at least until the end of 1995. I don't have the TVs, but I do have all the comms. I'll be skipping the rookies (for the most part) and the midgets. Anyway: WRESTLEMARINEPIAD '94 EX: December 4th, 1994 What's interesting about this show right off the bat is that the building is only 60% full (at most), with the WON reporting an attendance of 3,200 in a building for 5,000. Bearing in mind that Big Egg was only a fortnight prior, it caught me a bit by surprise. Something to keep an eye on, I guess. Reggie Bennett/Rie Tamada vs. Suzuka Minami/Tomoko Watanabe Predictable undercard fare, this. When Reggie is in, she dominates; when Tamada is in, she gets beaten up. Reggie's power stuff looks fine, some of it (including the finish) rather good and impactful, but whenever they ask her to do more complicated sequences involving rope-running and whatnot it's clear that that's not her thing. Tamada sells quite well here, but she hasn't got much more to offer (an unfair comparison, perhaps, but the girls who debuted in the late 80s were all much further along after three years). As for Minami (who'd retire the following May) and Tomoko, it's clearly a minor match for them. Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda vs. Mariko Yoshida/Kaoru Ito It's always strange to see Shimoda so shy and reserved in her pre-match interview and then go out to the ring and be very vocal the whole time. Ito is actually the opposite. Yoshida is easily the smoothest of the four here, but wouldn't find her own niche until several years later. My memory of LCO in this period is they had parts of their act down, but it wasn't until 97 when they became the complete package. There's a sequence here where they look as if they're about to turn this into a brawl, and then the match, bizarrely, just resets. Ito snaps after the match, drags Shimoda into the crowd, throws a few chairs on her...then walks away and Shimoda returns to the ring. Weird. This could have been one of those "interesting in hindsight" matches, but was merely OK. Manami Toyota vs. Blizzard Yuki Hasegawa (Yuki) is coming off a disastrous "debut" at Big Egg. She was always one of my favourites, but the gimmick did her no favours as her style was that bit more technical and she didn't have the flamboyance to "charismate" through the mask. It was dropped soon enough. As for this match, they were trying to elevate Hasegawa, and she countered a lot of Toyota's stuff (I don't think Manami strung together even three moves at any point), but the result was the match felt somewhat disjointed. One of the problems of Toyota in a singles match was she had so many cool moves, that there's a good chance she'll show up any opponent who can't match her (one of the reasons I preferred her matches with Kyoko was that she had just as much shit). The more matwork based approach works as "Sakie Hasegawa", the younger girl maintaining control however she can, etc; not so much here, when "Blizzard Yuki" is trying to prove herself. Still a perfectly good match and whilst the draw was somewhat telegraphed by the end, they kept it entertaining. Lioness Asuka/Kyoko Inoue vs. Toshiyo Yamada/Takako Inoue Another weird match this. As best I can remember, Asuka only returned at Big Egg a couple of weeks before, so I would have expected the other three to be extra pumped to work with one of their idols. Actually the match is very much of a "the bloom is off the rose of Asuka's comeback" sort, to the point where I Googled her retirement and comeback. Anyway, the match goes little over ten minutes, following the predictable patterns. I should point out that even in this "house show" format, Kyoko comfortably looks the best of the four with both the best offensive variation and execution. Aja Kong vs. Yumiko Hotta (Red Belt) Hotta comes into this with her knee all taped up (actually not the only one), and Aja goes after it with a brutality that dwarfs anything else on the show; she even removes the gate from the guard rail and uses that to bash Hotta's knee, a spot I can't recall seeing before. It's a squash for the first ten minutes, save the odd hope spot for Hotta (kicks, naturally, which Aja feeds her head right into). To be fair, the crowd are more into Hotta here than they'd been behind anybody else all night. Aja does pop the crowd with a well done false KO spot, which leads into something of a back-and-forth home stretch. Hotta actually kicks out of the first uraken, and a second one promptly ends it. With Hotta's injury, about as good a match as they could have had here. Their match was back in January. Overall, a perfectly watchable show, but definitely one for collectors rather than casuals.
  6. First of all, hey back at you guys. In hindsight, I probably should have watched it with the English commentary. I know Callis in particular is pretty close with Kenny and would therefore assume he'd be clued in on exactly what they were going for and be able to fill in a few of the gaps (when I first became confused during the second fall, I thought Omega must've worked several matches where taking too many risks had cost him and one of his big talking points leading into this match was how, whatever happens, it was essential for him to keep his cool). I also absolutely agree with gordi in that there is no one way to work a match and for those of you who've been around a long time, you might me remember I've been more effusive than most on Zenjo (the Toyota/Kyoko series in particular), and a variety of other things that don't follow some "AJ is the only way" thing. That being said, I'm not sure how I feel about, for lack of a better word, episodic matches. I remember a discussion back in 2004-2005 (I forget exactly which board but I want to say Smark's Choice) when ROH was the rage, specifically the Joe-Punk series, "learned psychology" was a big thing, and someone brought in a lengthy quote of Roger Ebert's, talking about John Travolta dancing in a film for the sake of having him dance and it didn't fit into the story of the film. That's a different thing, but my point then still applies in this case: I do feel that matches should be first and foremost self-contained, and work on their own. But again, that's as much because the first thing my brain does in just about every match I watch is try to latch onto the roles of the guys involved, who is the favourite/underdog/face/heel, who's coming into the match with the momentum, who do they want me to root for, etc... it's an (at times) unfortunately analytical approach (the fact I've spent the past three years learning Russian hasn't helped to curb my more mildly-autistic tendencies), but it's why I've always gravitated towards the thought out or the thoughtless. Forgive the self analysis, but one of my main reactions to this match was to look at how I watch wrestling and why this match didn't work for me as well as it has for most other people (Cena/Punk in Chicago was another example of that, but for all the praise that received, it pales to this).
  7. Yes and no. You always knew Misawa was going to make a comeback of sorts, no matter how bad a situation he was in. And it hurt several matches insomuch as, if Misawa hadn't got a certain amount of shit in, you knew it wasn't ending. But I can't remember any particular instance of them working from presumptions/preconceptions in the way I guess you're implying: they always established in the match what you needed to know. If someone comes into this Okada/Omega cold, where's the overcoming-the-odds arc for Kenny? If Okada is so strong, why couldn't he muster a prolonged period of dominance and kick Kenny's ass for a while? If anything, the fact that Okada essentially fluked the first fall, got cocky and did nothing much with it, and Kenny came back quite comfortably to win the second, isn't that giving the first-timer the opposite impression?
  8. Whilst I agree with the majority that it was a great a match, I also have to agree with ShinyLittleBoots that the second fall was majorly problematic for me. I should preface this with two points: one minor, one major. The minor one is I'm writing this 5 days since I watched the match (it's been a long time since I actually logged in, I'd forgotten my password, and if not for the system overhaul today I would'n't've been about to retrieve it); the second is, as with most of the long-term posters of this board, I grew up, as it were, watching the All Japan guys, how they put their big matches together, and that has obviously influenced how I watch/understand/etc big matches ever since. Anyway. I went into the match knowing the result. I know many people try and avoid doing so, but I've never been one for #spoileralert, quality is quality and anything worth watching is worth rewatching. I also knew how the falls went (i.e. the first to Okada, the final two to Kenny) but not the actual finishing spots themselves. So, the first fall. I liked this a lot. I thought they did a tremendous job of working an interesting 30/+ minutes without bringing out any of their big offensive guns, nor even any major spots. What was clear to me, how I read it, was Omega had the momentum. Of course Okada got his licks in and the current NJ group as a rule work more back and forth than the old All Japan guys, but nevertheless, I picked up on "it's Omega's night" very quickly, and nothing they did broke me out of that. As a result, I saw the "fluke" pin coming, but thought it tremendously well done and the perfect way to wrap up the first fall. But, like I said, the problems for me started in the second fall. So, we're now in a situation where Omega has dominated, but Okada "stole" a pin. It seemed patently obvious to me how the second fall would go: Omega gets desperate, starts to take chances, one backfires, he's beat on for a long time, makes a comeback (if ever there was a time for a modern guy to steal Misawa's comeback it's in that situation there) and pulls it out, leading us into the showdown finale (which is, in the end, what we actually got in the third fall). Obviously, that's not what we got. Sure, Omega wiped out early, Okada was far more relaxed and was strutting around with everything under control, but that segment didn't last for a long time at all, Omega gets back into it after having his back worked over, etc, without any great struggle, and the second fall continued in much the same way as the first had ended, with Omega "having the better night" as it were, only this time he avoids the flash pin and takes it home. Herein lies my problem. Dramatically, the momentum is all with Omega. He dominated the first fall, slipped on a banana, lost his head for a moment at the start of the second but swiftly gained control back, kept his cool, and evened things up. And this is where knowing the result did create an issue: the booking calls for Omega to comeback from having the odds stacked against him, right? At no point was that the case. Sure, he lost the first fall and was beaten on for a bit at the start of the second, but Okada wasn't going for the kill by any means; Omega has evened this up without taking much damage, AND, of course, Okada's just spent the interval on his back putting over the One Winged Angel. At this point, they've lost me. What are they going for dramatically? Now, they had the table in place, and I thought, OK: so they double-barrel the comeback, using the table spot for the Kobashi transition, Omega does his long comeback and gets the job done. But, no. He eats an early rainmaker, puts it over huge, and the third fall is the epic, next-move-wins showdown with everything at stake. They do a much stronger job of long-term selling than has become the norm, and the third fall in many ways was great, but I'd been so taken out of it by the second fall and the absence of a prolonged period of peril for Omega that for all the great work, I wasn't drawn into it. * I'll hold my hands up: I realise these guys are not Misawa, Kawada or Kobashi, and I don't expect them to work matches in the same way at all. It's not a problem for me that they took a different route to what I was expecting: I have no problem with them breaking the law of Chekhov's gun, and whilst there are some spots that I didn't like (the tombstone on the apron and the straddling DDT on the floor could have been significant transitions and I felt both were completely wasted), there were significantly more positives about the match than negatives. But the negative is a big one: I didn't get the structure. Or rather, I did (or thought I did) for the first and third fall, but with what happened in the second, the third should have gone differently. From a dramatic perspective, I felt at no point was Omega in real jeopardy of losing except at the end when it was even-stephens (the false finish on the flash pin in the second fall was a great spot, but that's not what I mean). It all goes back to what I've thought/written previously about Okada's matches with Tanahashi: for all the great work going on, I'm not in tune with whatever their thought process is and I find it hard to join the dots. I'm happy to be corrected by people who watch more of these guys than I do, who're inevitably more attuned to their work (I've seen all their previous matches except the 60:00; some of the major G1 matches and Okada's defences), perhaps with less of an All Japan hangover, for lack of a better word. Hopefully I've laid out in sufficient detail where my problem lies here, and I don't want to sound like I'm down on the match, or these guys, I think they're great, I really do, in so many ways, but it's so fundamental for me as a viewer to understand what's going on in terms of structure, story, etc, and in a very literal sense, they're incomprehensible to me.
  9. MJH

    Is Shawn Michaels in your Top 100?

    The problem with Shawn's early heel work isn't the structure, but he was really fucking boring in control, especially in '92-'93; that he was such a great bumper, and so the shine/comeback was always fun, only highlighted how comparatively-dull the middle section was. That said, there's some really nice work if you know where to look (the SF handheld with Jannetty from Nov/Dec '92 comes to mind), but I don't think he was able to find a balance as a heel until '97. That said, yes, he's on my list.
  10. MJH

    Wrestling's Scummiest Moment Ever?

    Also, I agree with JS that a lot of these things are more tasteless than what I'd consider "scummy", and the problem, as thebrainfollower mentioned re: Trish/payback, isn't necessarily the subject matter itself (we can all name great TV shows, films, etc. which deal - graphically - with contentious subject matter) but rather how it was handled. There's nothing innately wrong with doing an angle based around, say, racism, but you have to treat it as an adult, which wrestling often seems incapable of doing.
  11. MJH

    Wrestling's Scummiest Moment Ever?

    Bit of a Devil's Advocate but... at the end of the day, Fritz was exploiting the deaths of his own sons, not someone else's.
  12. MJH

    Mitsuharu Misawa

    I won't be able to sit down and watch the match for a few days, maybe not until this weekend, but I've always remembered the first 6/7 minutes going thus: Kawada/Kobashi start, Misawa tags in, Kawada wants no part of him, and when Kobashi comes back in Kawada/Taue work over him (Kobashi); Kawada spends as much time taunting Misawa, building to the switch-high kick off the apron they re-used at the start of 6/95, which Misawa sells on the floor for a minute before storming back in to kick his ass. Perhaps 'chicken-shit' gives too strong an impression of begging off, Flair on his knees saying "nooooooooooo!", but the whole opening segment is based on the same principle of avoidance-gloating-comeuppance. The greater point - Kawada is distinctly, clearly the heel - remains.
  13. MJH

    Things in WWE you no longer want to see?

    Dot-to-dot wrestling.
  14. MJH

    Mariko Yoshida

    Were I to make one, she'd rank pretty high on my "hurt by lack of quality opponents" list. Some styles are more conducive than others to carrying limited opponents; Yoshida's wasn't one of them.
  15. MJH

    Manami Toyota

    I'm not altogether sure she did that; it's been a good few years since I watched it, but my recollection of it is that the '89 Yamada match is a lesser-experienced dry-run of their later matches, and in most matches she, like just about everyone else, was working fast, throwing out move after move, etc... she clearly made an effort to develop her move-set in '92 or thereabouts, but I can't recall any big rejuvenation.
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