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  1. Well, it's official. Michiyoshi Ohara has more great matches in 1993 than Bret Hart. This isn't New Japan v WAR, but it IS New Japan v Heisei Ishingun, which seems to make things only slightly less nuclear. Ohara had been teaming here and there with Hashimoto throughout the year, usually against the WAR invaders, and usually he got stomped into the floor by Tenryu as Hashimoto would come to his aid. But now Ohara's thrown his lot in with Koshinaka and his HI brethren and thus turned his back on Hashimoto. Maybe Hash wanted to give Ohara a chance to see the light early on because the first few minutes were pretty tentative. Well, maybe not tentative. Hashimoto's not necessarily someone I'd think of as a GREAT mat worker, but all of his matwork does tend to feel gritty and contested. He rarely goes through the motions so there's always an edge to it, and this had an edge to it. Then Ohara slapped him and that was that. Hash breaking his skull open in response with a headbutt and two closed fist punches was nuts. Our person with the handheld cam was directly behind Ohara when it happened, and as soon as he turned around after the headbutt the blood was trickling. Hash pretty much mauled him for the remainder while Ohara did what he was apparently really good at and that's try in vain to not get slaughtered. Some of the kicks Hash threw were ungodly, a few that would've sent a lesser man's lungs through the sky roof, others that landed right under the jaw and nose. The spin kicks, the overhand chops, the regular chops. Why would you ever want to step to this guy? The last DDT was sickening and who knows how Ohara never got carted out of there on a fork lift. That he just waited for Ohara to stand back up before casually choking him out was such a great finish. Come at the king you best not miss.
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    [1990-05-28-NJPW] Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto

    Everything great about Hash v Choshu. Not quite as epic as 1996, not the same story of pride as 1991, not the struggle of 1997, but at its core it's Hash v Choshu and everything that entails. They really thump each other silly and there are few more consistently awesome slugfests in wrestling history. Choshu was landing absolute jaw-jacker elbows including a knockout blow as Hash charged him in the corner, Hash was kicking him absurdly hard in the midsection, they were trading nasty headbutts, it had all the staples. I just love the struggle you get with all of their matches. Overall this was worked pretty even and generally I like it when someone at least sustains momentum for a stretch, but not one transition felt lazy or like someone decided it was their turn to go back on offence again. If Hash cut off Choshu he did it with something that'd believably halt your momentum. If Choshu cut off Hash he made damn sure you were buying it. They milked the big moments, they hit with purpose, they didn't need to do a whole lot, and they had everyone on strings. Finish might've come off a little sudden, but I like it as a surprise KO with Hash spotting his chance and going all in before Choshu can recover. This match-up never fails.
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  4. I love this feud. It might be my favourite WWF feud of the 80s. This wasn't quite as good as what my memory tells me about the MSG match, but it was another home run. Tito was so good, man. He probably had a heel run somewhere or other but as far as career babyfaces go he got believably fired up like no other. I bought him wanting to kill Savage, take his belt (which Savage had taken from him in the first place under controversial circumstances), then kill him again. Savage was also a whirlwind of crazy. He threw Tito over the ropes, the barricade, almost fell several times climbing after him, jumped off of turnbuckles and the ring apron and the barricade, hit him with a chair, threw the chair away, hopped into the crowd to get it back, hit him again. Security were having to follow him around and keep fans in check, put stuff back in its original place for everyone's safety, really having to earn their keep that night. I've said before that one of my favourite things about Savage is how, despite being a guy who reportedly planned out his matches to the letter, there was always a sense of chaos and unpredictability to what he was doing. And the whole time he was in control here it felt like he was just rushing through the ideas that were coming to mind for ways to inflict misery. "I'll just jump off this shit and club him in the head." "Oh there's a steel chair, might as well hit him with that. Oh look another thing I can jump off of, I'ma climb it." It was never directionless in the way you'd get someone just running through stuff with no rhyme or reason. I mean it was directionless in that he's a nutjob who was acting on his impulses, yet it had plenty direction in the sense it was all ultimately designed to fuck up Tito Santana. The opening was also awesome with Elizabeth getting bumped off her feet as Savage tried to use her as a meat shield, Tito checking on her and Savage blindsiding him, because what's more important to Savage than the Intercontinental title? Not Elizabeth, apparently.
  5. That makes sense, tbf. I don't actually know if I've seen any of his AAA run. I mean, I probably have even if it's a few trios here and there, but I'm pretty sure I've seen nothing from that Panther feud.
  6. The greatest feud of them all delivers yet another midcard banger. A sprinkle of inter-promotional hatred makes everything in wrestling that much better and this was quite the little slobberknocker. Hara was pretty much the richest poor man's Tenryu you could get, starting out surly and smashing chairs over Saito's head. Saito responds by absolutely walloping him senseless with kicks to the chest and spleen, and it always sort of amazes me how these WAR crowds are ten thousand percent behind the non-WAR guys kicking the living shit out of the hometowners (Tenryu aside). You'd think the fans in attendance would rally behind their own, but instead they lose their mind for guys like Koshinaka driving his hip bone into a WAR guy's orbital bone. Both guys threw a hundred potatoes in this. At one point Saito was blasting away at Hara's midsection and Hara would try to stand up to it in defiance, too proud to show weakness, too hurt to properly mount any sort of comeback. Then he'd spot an opening and tee off and there was one lariat across the bridge of Saito's nose that was just putrid. This really is WAR v New Japan in all its grimy, brutal glory. The very greatest of them all.
  7. Any wrestling taking place in a studio with a purple colour scheme going on will remind me of those early 80s matches from the DVDVR Memphis set and so this had the vibe of something they'd run after an angle where Bill Dundee gets clobbered in the brain with a Moondog dinosaur bone. It was a neat enough few minutes; had some big Otsuka suplexes, some sharp strike flurries by Usuda and some alright matwork even if it was nowhere close to high end Battlarts matwork. I'm always fascinated by shoot style promotions in their formative periods and this had glimpses of what Battlarts would become without being all the way there yet.
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    WWE TV 04/22 - 04/26: Institutionalized Insanity

    I'd say the difference there is that, even if Austin and the rest of those wrestlers in 1997, or Hogan and the rest in 1984, never talked like actual people (and they didn't, because they were larger than life superstars and whatnot), they all felt like individuals. No sane person on the street would act like Steve Austin or walk into a Starbucks and order a caramel latte in the third person like the Rock. Those guys were far from "regular" people, but I'd say the bigger problem today is that, even if a wrestler doesn't talk like a normal human being, they all talk like the SAME not-a-normal-human-being. It's not just that one of them talks about the "WWE Universe" rather than "fans." It's that they all fucking say it. You can't help but remember you're watching something that's micromanaged to ridiculous degrees. And everything being so clearly scripted doesn't help either, because nothing feels organic and most of those folks aren't very good at making that script-writing come across as something they'd actually say.
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    WWE TV 04/22 - 04/26: Institutionalized Insanity

    In my opinion WWE would improve a thousandfold if they taught their talent how to watch a fucking TV screen properly. Every week I get stupidly and irrationally infuriated at those segments where folk are standing there craning their neck to watch a TV monitor and I tell myself it's a four second snippet of a two-three hour show and there's really no reason for me to be getting so annoyed by it and yet here we are, another week, another cloud being yelled at by this here old man. Owens is just about my least favourite wrestler in the entire company, and while I never actually considered Shane McMahon a viable candidate for a transitional title run, I'm already sold on that idea much more than Owens. I also get that they might've had to turn him because of something Bryan-related, but in the right circumstance I'd have been a wee bit interested in seeing babyface Owens. I have no use for heel Owens whatsoever while heel Shane has actually been pretty fun from the bits I've watched. If they ran with him v Reigns as a short program to flip the belt onto Reigns I imagine a match built around Shane trying all sorts of horse shit to win only to be inevitably crushed in the end could be sort of enjoyable. I mean, you know he'd bump like a lunatic if nothing else. I only saw bits of it but that Charlotte/Bayley match seemed decent. Crowd were into it down the stretch and I quite liked Bayley's sell of the leg (though I missed how the leg work came about, or even if there was any leg work to speak of).
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    Post-Mania TV 2019

    I'd basically zoned out during that entire run where Bruan got red hot, but I'm pretty sure he was getting booed briefly in that segment with Joe the other night so...you know. They definitely haven't missed the boat with that dude.
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    Post-Mania TV 2019

    Yeah, I sort of joked about that at the end of the post when I realised what I was actually talking about. They're by far the most vocal when it comes to stuff like that and probably an outlier in the grand scheme of things, but I'd be surprised if they were the only ones (again, I don't really watch enough to know one way or the other).
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    Post-Mania TV 2019

    Generally speaking I think WWE's booking - when I actually try to pay attention, which, to be fair, is not often - isn't particularly good. Sometimes it's so shoddy that you actually wonder if they're deliberately trying to sabotage a guy like, say, Roman Reigns (for someone people talk about as being shoved down throats, he's only won just over half his PPV matches, which is sort of nuts. Though I get that wins and exposure aren't necessarily hand in hand). They absolutely do not get a pass for any of their ropey booking or writing or decision-making. But there were elements of those post-Mania crowds that were pretty unbearable, and on the whole I'm someone who thinks that if you pay money for a ticket you should be allowed to cheer or boo whoever the hell you like. I mean, forget the MOVES~ argument and all that guff -- a guy like Sullivan gets brought up and is clearly being positioned as a fresh act that they're intending to inject into things, and after about five minutes of screen time pockets of the audience are already shitting on him (I've seen him probably three times, btw, so maybe he sucks and actually can't wrestle, in which case I guess I'll shut my mouth). As has been mentioned, WWE have brought it on themselves with all the rubbish they've pumped out over the years, but there's a LITTLE element of them being damned if they do and damned if they don't. I'm loathe to defend them because I largely find their product unwatchable, but shit. Becky and Kofi caught fire and they put the belts on them, but Sullivan is a shitshow and sucks straight out the gate. Ricochet and Black are two guys folk seem to have wanted to get some exposure on the main roster, two guys who are clearly being positioned as fresh acts to liven up a stale TV product, and large sections of the audience don't care and would rather fuck around Mexican Waving during their match. No way am I one of the "just shut up and enjoy the PRODUCT man stop complaining so much" crowd, but every year there seems to be a larger percentage of the crowd that would rather chant goofy shit to "get themselves over" than actually give anything a chance. And on the one hand I suppose I can see their point because WWE have been given plenty of chances only to trot out complete horse shit, but on the other hand those post-Wrestlemania crowds are the woooorst and maybe it's all their fault. Either way I think there's absolutely an annoying element of self-entitlement with some pockets of WWE crowds. Maybe they should just...shut up and enjoy the PRODUCT man!
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    Post-Mania TV 2019

    Were folk chanting "you can't wrestle" at Lars last night? You'd figure the NXT guys would be spared that for at least a few weeks (I may have totally misheard, tbf)...
  14. I know this happened a while back now, but it's pretty crazy watching it in 2019, three days after a Wrestlemania headlined by one of them, where that same one of them became the first unified women's champion in WWE history (unless they had a unified Divas champion that I've forgotten about). Even if I wasn't really following NXT in 2015 I know how highly thought of Sasha Banks was. You had this, the Bayley series, folk talking her up as the absolute prodigy of women's wrestling in the US. A year later she was part of the very first women's hell in a cell as women headlined a WWE PPV for the first time ever. If you had to bet on one of these two main eventing the first women's Wrestlemania main event you'd have put the house on it being Sasha. Honestly, I haven't really cared about Sasha in a while. It's not that she's a terrible babyface or anything, she's just not very interesting. But this was heel Sasha and she felt so much more natural. You could see it against Rousey when she got to show some of her heel chops, how she got to be real nasty working the arm, the way she mostly worked from the top and didn't need to focus so much of garnering sympathy. This was a similar performance from an offensive standpoint, only it was ramped way up and she got to go all the way with the mugging and shit-talking. The arm work was mean and inventive and I liked how it came about as a response to Becky trying to do it first. She took over with a big arm-wringer drop onto the ring apron, then worked a great straightjacket choke where she'd stomp Becky's arms into the mat as the hold was applied. There was an awesome bit as well where Becky crawled over to the ropes to pull herself up, ending up straddling the middle rope, so Sasha yanked her into the position Becky would assume for her pre-match headbanging and twisted her arm over the top rope at a nasty angle, mimicking Becky at the same time. Becky going for Sasha's arm in kind gave us a really cool dual limb work dynamic, which isn't really something we've ever gotten a lot of in WWE. Even though she was technically the babyface the crowd were largely behind Sasha, but by the end they were all for Becky submitting her with the armbar. She mostly sold that arm the whole way through as well, hanging it by her side as she climbed the turnbuckles and generally reminded you that she was working hurt. The arm breaker off the top at the end didn't come off great, but it definitely worked as a payoff to the arm work and a nice set up for the Banks Statement. Really cool match. Maybe Becky Lynch might get over after all.
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    Wrestlemania 35: The KawadaSmile tribute thread

    I was pretty much dead on my arse by the end, but somehow the show didn't feel like as much of a slog as last year's. I had more beer this year, tbf. I liked how all the luchadors got eliminated from the battle royal in the hurtiest ways possible. I liked Lesnar throwing Rollins around like a sack of carrots and Rollins getting all welted up. I liked the Shane McMahon match way more than I expected and that bump where he scooted clean off the top of a golf buggy into a flat back concrete bump was ludicrous. I liked Bryan/Kofi a bunch and pretty much everything about it was the perfect payoff. I liked Drew's bagpipes entrance. I liked Cena's midlife crisis lame ass Thuganomics goofiness and how he clearly knew it was lame as fuck and went all the way with it anyhow. I liked Helmsley yanking Batista's nose ring out with a pair of pliers. I liked Batista taking a bunch of nutty bumps that he absolutely doesn't need to take now that he's an actual movie star people take seriously. I liked Alexa Bliss, although I did NOT like how I felt closer to the hardcore Alexa Bliss creepers than I ever would've wanted. I liked Charlotte getting the motherfucking helicopter entrance. I liked Rousey shit-talking and pretty much everything else she did but especially the "you chop like a BITCH" and "tables are for BITCHES" parts. I probably will never watch any of it ever again.