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Jetlag

2018 Wrestling Cherry picking

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I've watched extremely little pro wrestling in the year of 2018. Probably less than any other year in wrestling history where there's footage. Rediscovering SWS undercard and Wrestle Yume Factory matches was just more exciting I guess. I know recently most of my writing has been musing about defunct japanese wrestling promotions and handheld matches and whining about how miserable wrestling these days is so I decided to try and bring something to the table and accentuate both the positives and the negatives. In this thread I'm gonna try to catch up with all the pimped MOTYCs and workers, watch some in-between stuff and try to form a complete picture of what's wrong and right. In the end (when I get bored) I'd like to have, like, 20 or so matches that I like, so hopefully that's achievable. Feel free to drop in your thoughts and recommendations


2018 MOTY List (ongoing):
1. Darby Allin vs. WALTER, EVOLVE 6/23
2. Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Meiko Satomura, Sendai Girls 11/17

3. Slim J vs. Corey Hollis (Anarchy Wrestling 7/28/2018)

4. Teddy Hart vs. Harry Smith (WOW 8/11/2018)

5. Slim J vs. Corey Hollis (Anarchy Wrestling 5/12/2018)

6. Tajiri vs. TAKA Michinoku (K-Dojo 4/22/2018)
7. WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher (wXw 11/17)

8. Pete Dunne vs. WALTER (wXw 7/22/2018)

9. Tom Lawlor & Simon Grimm vs. King Khash & Mike Santiago (Prestige 10/12/2018)

10. Tom Lawlor vs. CW Anderson (BLP 8/18/2018)

11. Negro Casas vs. Aramis (Lucha Memes 3/11/2018)

 

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Some reviews:

Aja Kong vs. Hikaru Shida Oz Academy 9/17

Borderline Yes but I can't deny such a violent japanese big match. Hikaru Shida has never done anything for me and she seemed to have adopted an NJPW-esque style here, which is really something I don't want in womens wrestling, I don't want to watch these female workers wrestle like a bunch of effeminate men. That being said this her best performance I've seen. The leg selling was so-so, she sold good in the moment, then forgot about it, then they bring it back up during the finishing run... it's pretty inconsistent but it wasn't a huge detriment to the match. Aja was cool and and sold expertly. I liked how her control section basically started with her laying an unexpectedly brutal kick to Shidas leg. Limbwork was really good and nasty stuff. The finishing run was iffy in part with some of the weapon spots being telegraphed, on the other hand I didn't completely hate the weapon stuff here and there was plenty of grit and juice. I'm not sold on this being a classic, it probably wouldn't make the Top 95 matches of 1998, but in 2018 it's upper tier material. NOTE -- well let's see about that.

Daisuke Nakamura vs. Hideki Suzuki, Kakihara Produce 8/21

Daisuke Nakamura is an MMA fighter who fights like a UWF wrestler in his real fights. He is really good at pro wrestling and it's always a threat to see him pop up on a random card to work shootstyle. This was quite the good big bullish wrestler vs. lighter, skilled grappler type match. Most importantly the whole thing felt highly competitive and they established the story of the match in the first minute when Suzuki just rushes him into the corner and throws him. Seconds later Nakamura would go for the ropes to avoid another suplex. Also loved the rolling armbar sequence and Nakamuras confidence on the mat. Shame about the brevity, but the exchanges were high end and they pushed all the right buttons.

Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe, WWE 1/1 - YES, strong heavyweight slugfest. Agree with pretty much everything Mike on WKO said. Joe looked great picking Roman apart and Roman had some crazy selling. The big superman punch was awesome too. I'm not sure Roman looked better than Joe as his overhand punches are a little week and I didn't like how he just bounced back from the corner to clothesline back on offense. His selling of the accumulated damage was quality, though.


Tom Lawlor vs. Jon Gresham (Black Label Pro 1/13)

This was in a vaccuum a good match, but YOU, the living breathing human being watching this match will never get over the fucking stupidity of having Lawlor, the taller, bigger MMA badass working all even steven with Gresham's cute WoS shit. (Actually, Lawler is shorter than I am and the same weight, but he looked like Takayama next to Gresham here. Maybe I should get into wrestling.) To be fair, Gresham's faux WoS stuff looked slick and he could probably have a good match with a fellow mini. About 10 minutes into the match Lawlor finally awakens and starts busting out MMA holds. I really liked how Gresham fought out of an armbar, and Lawlor had some really nice chokes and good punches. Still the psychology continues to be a mess with both guys really killing the submissions, a random wristlock comedy spot (?) in the middle of the finishing run and the whole thing just not ending. I should probably cut them some slack because they tried really hard to have a solid mat based match without any flippies and some of the stuff they did was quite good. Still, I'd rather have the match be a grotesque, violent mess.

Quebecer Pierre (Carl Oullet) vs. Ethan Page (Black Label Pro (1/13)

PCO has presence and his stuff looks good, not to mention being able to actually pace a match. I imagine he would be pretty good if he started to bulldoze tiny indy dudes ala Hashimoto, but he seemed to be in a midlife crisis and do too many terrible 2018 wrestling cliches in order to appeal to workrate smarks. I did like PCO whipping out some armwork including a really nice rolling armlock of all things, but then they go all silly buggers with the "I hit you you hit me stuff", PCO hitting a random Frankensteiner etc.
 

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Johnny Gargano, NXT 1/27

This is another for the "I dunno" pile. "Slow paced, overly long, heatless, thigh slapping junior epic" is my least favourite type of wrestling, and if this is the best the style has to offer in 2018 I can probably safely go back to ignoring it. I don't want to watch a 32 minute long dweeb epic much less do I want to subscribe to video service when I can just pop YouTube and watch 90s AJPW. There was some good stuff here, I liked the elbow smashes, the ultra tight headlock, the apron DDT looking really impressive, the cliche indy opening sections actually being executed fine, the valet spot and bump being among the more memorable spots from the match due to layout, but the rest of this was so fucking boring, constant transitions and sequences out the ass that meant nothing, lots of slow maneuvering around "get to the next spot" in between, and so on. Don't wanna nitpick but there were several moments that took me out of the story, Almas popping up after eating the turnbuckle spot being probably the most obvious example. Not what I want to see in wrestling.

Fuminori Abe vs. Takuya Nomura, BJW 1/17

Okay, this was a good match, but what the hell was up with that Munenori Sawa tribute act Abe was doing? I assume it stems from some DDT angle or something, but it was pretty bizarre to see a kid doing all the spots of an indy guy who retired years before. He was good otherwise, but I was just so distracted. This reminded me a bit of those fun WYF opening matches, so I'm glad that kind of wrestling still exists in 2018. Match could've used some hatred, but they kept the hits coming and the exhausted Lawler/Mantell style shots trading was strong.

Drew Gulak vs. Jack Gallagher, WWE 5/10

So, WWE has the good indy grappling matches now? This was cool. That leg lock battle may have been done better than in many japanese shootstyle matches. Aside from all the whacky leglock work, I also really liked Gulak's headbutt to the mid section. Agree about Gulak's increased aggression, altough I didn't love those goofy palm strikes. I'm not sure this would be even the 3rd best match on a 1998 MUGA show, but as far as 2018 wrestling goes 7 minutes of grappling and smacks is a good way to get me back into it.
 
Hikaru Sato/Daisuke Nakamura vs. Hideki Suzuki/Takeshi Okada, Hard Hit 10/28

Hikaru Sato is a guy who showed potential in 2010 and hasn't done much for me in the 8 years since, but he was fine here. Suzuki has yet to blow me away, but his nasty carny holds always make for entertaining sections. I actually liked how there seemed be contrast between Nakamura and Okada in their segment, it was like UWF vs. BJJ. Nakamura is a really good grappler and naturally he shines here. His lightning fast exchanges looked just as good as the parts where they increased the intensity. That bit where he went to his back and Suzuki just pounced on him made me laugh.He showed some sensibility with his selling aswell, clutching aswell after slipping out from underneath right after Suzuki dumped him with a suplex, as if he had barely escaped a dangerous situation. I also liked how Suzuki teasing a Butterfly Suplex created a dramatic moment as the crowd is conditioned to his finish by now.
 
Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr, NJPW 4/1

I dunno. This was okay. Lots of cool individual moments, but as a whole this felt like a chore to sit through. Just awfully slow at times "now I'm waiting for you to stand up, now I kick you then wander around a little" and so on, so there was never any real urgency. Some of the spots looked weak, and Zack still moves goofy. I did like Zack's game and his reversals looked ultra-slick, and he deserves some credit for making the crowd care about things like twisting the leg (of course Okada no sells all that, so fuck him). Also, what on earth was that transition that lead to Zack doing the Toby Imada spot? Zack eating that sick piledriver followed by the noodle armed lariat was a funny finish. Okada's still an embarassment, don't compare his CHIKARA holds to T2P.
 

 

Eddie Kingston vs. Fred Yehi, AAW 5/2

I didn't love this as much as Phil Schneider did but it was a cool indy kings road style match. Dig Yehis approach with the stomps and knees building to suplexes, a powerbomb and a chokehold and I agree about the greatness of Kingstons selling. He wasn't just selling the big blows but also the really miniscule things and carried himself like a broken down trailer park Kobashi. Shockingly great strike exchange down the stretch. To be honest, I kind of hated the no selling.
 
Io Shirai vs Momo Watanabe, Stardom 2/18

Yeah, these two do a better heavyweight epic than current NJPW heavyweights. I don't remember Io Shirai working like a crowbar, but she was just wasting her young opponent here. The match may have peaked early with that and Watanabe kicking her in the face to retaliate. The finishing run was pretty overkilly with Watanabe landing every big move in her book on Shirai, but they pull me back in with a neat Chickenwing -> Suplex spot that felt straight out of 90s AJPW. Same for the hellish uppercut that bloodied Watanabe. Of the 4 matches that I've seen from 2018, this felt like the best.

Hideki Suzuki vs. Takuya Nomura, BJW 6/20

It's cool to see BJW bringing back the shootstyle 20 years after the Big Japan vs. BattlARTS feud. To be honest I wasn't super in love with the matwork, but Suzuki always brings a nice flair of violence. But the crowd was into it and this got super exciting once they started pounding on eachother. Agree about Suzuki dropping his hands momentarily. Loved that mount punch and the finish looked legendary even though the fans didn't seem to like the stop.
 
Manabu Hara vs. Yuki Ishikawa- Soul Mode Pro Wrestling 7/15 -

God damn Ishikawa looked like a grappling master here. Good to know he's getting better while in Canada. It's a trip to watch this 51 year old guy breaking out new tricks on the mat, such as using more BJJ styled techniques. Also check out how he got that nasty headscissor. The series of armlocks later in the match was also spectacular. I wish Hara had brought a little more to the table considering how good he has looked in the past, but his kicks were violent enough. I could easily see this being a standout undercard match on a BML card. Also god bless him for basically renting a ring and booking himself to get some serious matches once in a while and even making sure it's all filmed and on YouTube!
 
Ishinriki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Pro-Wrestling Masters 8/21

What a bizarre world do we live in where I can watch an almost 70 year old guy going at it with an almost 60 year old guy 27 years after their last singles match. And the match is pretty good. Fun beginning establishes Fujiwara is dangerous even in his mummified state. I liked how Ishinriki had absolutely no respect for Fujiwaras age: making him bump into the chairs, and totally slapping his shit. Both guys trade some punishing blows here, totally uncaring. Ishinrikis lariats are still cool and the finish was executed as well as in 1991.
 
Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita, Stardom 9/24

Borderline YES but I liked the whole match and it was worlds better than that Zeus/Miyahara snore I just watched. Some awkward execution and some of the back and forth felt random, but otherwise this was a pretty violent spectacle with good selling. I haven't noticed Iwatani before but she was quite good here aside from some obvious thigh slapping and made this feel pretty violent: she constantly threw these really nasty sounding kicks. Even her frog splash landed with a nasty thud, and she absolutely obliterated herself bumping for a Hayashishita lariat. Hayashishita sold really well and I liked her submissions. The best thing bout this was how organic this felt. Hayashishitas Camel Clutch felt like a credible near submission in context and the sleeper over the ropes (a spot which can be trite) was great too.

 

Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura, EVE Wrestle Queendom 5/5

I'm a huge Satomura fan but this wasn't one of her better carryjobs. Kay Lee Ray gave me nothing at all her. The one cool thing she did was that transition into the Koji Clutch but everything else was just a big nothing. Satomura beats her good and was clearly leading her but it's what Satomura always does.

WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher, PROGRESS 1/28

Yeah, this was cool. It's funny to see these two old timey wannabe grapplers spend what felt like 20 minutes brawling on the floor. Probably better because their grappling early on wasn't all that great. This got good whenever they laced into eachother. I didn't love the no selling spots but I guess they weren't awful either, and I did like the learned spot psychology. Walter's hand story was fine and I did love the PRIDE stomping which came at a perfect point in the match. Some of the pacing etc. could've been better and I couldn't decide whether the forehead chop spot was stupid or cool. I do like that they are reconditioning the crowd into buying stomps and chops as nearfalls.

Darby Allin vs. WALTER, EVOLVE 6/23

Actually may be one of the best car crash sprints I've ever seen. This is my first time seeing Allin and he looks like someone out of the WCW/nWo Revenge roster, so exactly my kind of pro wrestler. He clearly understands how to work like his gimmick dictates, looking like a high on meth gutter punk running around clocking neonazis before getting pepper sprayed at a Trump rally. He was fighting WALTER like a mad dog and getting absolutely manhandled. Needless to say WALTER was a juggernaut and Allins ragdolling bumping was perfect. That splat on the floor felt more visceral than anything from the Almas/Gargano match. Agree about the desperation of the handwork. I actually thought Allin was in control a little much toward the end, altough everything was kept believable and his selling was spot on. It just made the crazy bumps earlier feel a little inconsequential, particularily those knees that he ate. I should add that the strike exchanges near the end felt like actual strike exchanges.

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WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher (wXw 11/17/2018)

This was really stiff, no nonsense pro wrestling that didn't go overly long, something that is outstanding in itself in 2018. I liked the opening minutes a lot with Thatcher ankle picking the giant repeatedly and establishing himself as a gutsy technical wrestler. When both guys hit the mat it really looks like they are roughing the other guy up. They venture outside the ring and both guys take big bumps which end up feeling a little pointless (especially WALTER landing on some kind of metal plate) but nothing offensive happens. Back in the ring and we get a good WALTER beatdown with all his dismissive little punts and clubbing blows. Finishing run was pretty great as you had WALTER crushing Thatcher repeatedly and Thatcher making a few believable comebacks. Last couple minutes had some genuinely brutal strikes such as WALTERS big slaps and stomps. There were also some cool body punches from Thatcher. What matters is they build to all the spots, WALTER building towards his powerbomb, Thatcher building to an enzuigiri and Fujiwara armbar. Clever, believable finish. This is obviously old NJPW/AJPW worship like if Osamu Kido had wrestled Toshiaki Kawada but it actually works and stands out on it's own and I would totally be more into current wrestling if there was more stuff like this.

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Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Meiko Satomura, Sendai Girls 11/17

Well well. I really liked their match a couple years back, and while this one wasn't as exciting due to lack of heat, it was a legit great match in it's own right. Very good opening build with Satomura really beating Hashimoto silly with kicks to every part of the body and working some nice cutoffs. Hashimotos probably dangerous sentons ruled. Once she hit the big one off the top this turned into a slaughterhouse with Satomura in serious desperation so she'd increase the punishment and Hashimoto brutalizing her with lariats in return. We get some great Sleeper spots and flawless bomb throwing with well timed comebacks. This was oddly the Satomura show aside from Hashimotos crowbar offense altough it was far from a carry job. Hashimotos quick back switch was a small moment but added a lot. Satomura was either legit injured or sells better than anyone in the world.

 

Added:

1. Darby Allin vs. WALTER, EVOLVE 6/23

2. Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Meiko Satomura, Sendai Girls 11/17

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Personally, I got a soft spot for KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay from Wrestling Dontaku 2018 Night 2 on 5/4/18. I just loved the backstory about how Ospreay was hellbent on proving that his one win against KUSHIDA earlier wasn't a fluke. KUSHIDA working relentlessly on Ospreay's shoulder throughout most of the match with Ospreay trying to use the Stormbreaker despite that said sore shoulder. And of course, the drama post-match with the unveiling of Taiji Ishimori as the Bone Soldier and newest Bullet Club member...lots of great stuff there.

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Both these are on my to-watch list for sure.

 

But first, I wanted to watch... Timothy Thatcher vs. a bunch of scrubs (and one really talented dude)

 

Watched:

 

Timothy Thatcher vs. Lucky Kid (wXw 11/24/2018)

Lucky Kid is a good example for the type of worker I don't care for: not very athletic junior with a thrown together video game moveset who thinks no selling is awesome, doesn't really build to his spots and loves engaging in prancing standoffs. One of his moves is a Crippler Crossface, except he doesn't actually crossface the other guy. That's an impressive level of dumb. So this is a good test of Thatcher. The opening work was extremely simple and limited Kid to basically two spots – slick low dropkick into a forward roll that actually looks cool and a weak plancha. Thatcher delivering a beatdown was good as he was channeling the likes of Finlay and Terry Rudge. Hooking the Kids nose, hitting stiff elbows to the gut and working him over with knees etc. I especially liked Thatcher slowly countering a sloppy Octopus Hold by freeing his arm with his legs and then just yanking Kids leg over his head as if to snap his ankle. I would've liked Thatcher to act like Kid was beneath him a little more but he did have some amusing facial expressions. The finishing run wasn't much as it was a showy, slow series of moves and actively standing there waiting for your opponent to hit a counter move that really doesn't get me excited but we did get a crafty Thatcher finish.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Veit Müller (wXw 11/23/2018)

Thatcher german tour continues as he faces Veit Müller. Müller is a thickly built pro wrestler with sideburns who has a really nice european uppercut and does not do any of the stupid shit I hate. Veit is not without his flaws, but a good guy overall. Veit adds very little to the match aside from his really nice european uppercut, but this is a pretty textbook match with Thatcher beating down the local boy, giving him a handful of token spots. Veit's choice of the goofy cravate suplex as his finisher is questionable and he looked lost grappling with Thatcher, altough he also does use the Figure 4, which is commendable. Thatcher looked good roughing up Müller altough it probably wasn't as brutal as what he did to Lucky Kid. And this was a decent piece of pro wrestling with another neat finish. Did love those european uppercut exchanges.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Jonah Rock (wXw 3/9/2018)

Jonah Rock is this ridiculously massive dude who has naturally impressive looking offense but tends to look lost between moves. They basically work a fun WCWSN match with both workers bringing their fun stuff but with little character to it. Thatcher chopping down Rock doesn't look very different than Thatcher chopping down someone like Lucky Kid as he tends to sell for everyone almost the same way. The best moment by far was Rock squishing Thatcher with a fat senton when he was pulling card. That kind of moment is good because it has character. Anyway a fun 10 minute match like these between two guys who aren't really used to eachother is a sign of good workers and I liked this despite some naysaying and nitpicking.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Fred Yehi (wXw 10/4/2018)

Really cool match. Snug, uncooperative work, even moreso than the WALTER match. Should mention Yehi, who is obviously a great athlete, looked credible hanging with the much bigger Thatcher here. Really liked his snug indian deathlock, unpredictable stomps aswell as just grinding Thatcher into the mat with a quater nelson at one point. Those knees also looked great. Classy shit. This was different from previous Thatcher matches as he didn't put a beating on his opponent and instead it was mostly him being pushed by gutsy Fred Yehi, altough he added some gritty facelock and the feeling of uncooperativeness. He really looked like he didn't want to take those stomps. I thought Yehis last comeback looked too easy as he started getting his shit in, but whatever.

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Watched:

Shotaro Ashino vs. Pegaso Illuminar, W1 10/24/2018

I have pretty much avoided Wrestle-1 so this is my first time seeing either guy. Pegaso is a really skinny dude in a mask while Ashino looks like a dime store Hideki Suzuki with a massive bloated gut. They trade some faux-WoS holds and it's all fine, then Pegaso hits a really bad leg trip, low height dropkick that barely connects and 2 dives where he almost misses. Not a good intro. He does take a really nasty bump to the floor next and Ashino starts working over the leg to set up his ankle lock "finisher". Ashinos legwork was pretty good, ramming Pegasos leg into the steel post without care etc. Of course, Pegaso makes his comeback by backflipping, hitting a bunch of kicks, sprinting across the ring etc... we all saw it coming. The finishing run was basically Kurt Angle stuff with Ashino locking in half a dozen ankle holds, hitting multiple germans etc. This was kept mercifully short. Ashino actually looked decent, but Pegaso is not the kind of worker I want to watch.

Soberano Jr. vs. Titan (CMLL 6/25/2018)

I have seen Titan in some good matches. Soberano Jr. I remember from the En Busca den Un Idolo a couple years back where he was one of the less outstanding wrestlers. Apparently he's getting a push now or something? Anyways they do some really basic opening hold work which is actually fine. The first fall ends very fast though with Titan locking in a cross leglock. The 2nd fall already has Titan putting a so-so beatdown on Soberano Jr, pulling on his mask etc. Not really title match stuff. Soberano Jr. actually has good execution on his dropkicks etc, inbetween comical amounts of thigh slapping. I honestly thought this was rather boring and forgettable. It has that typical modern lucha title match syndrom where they move through too quickly. So when Titan starts playing dirty it doesn't have the same impact as if they had actually built to it. They also do the "I'm super exhausted" style selling less than 10 minutes into this. There weren't even a ton of spots here. They try to build a story around Titans leg submission teasing it a bit like the Figure 4 in the 3rd but it doesn't amount to much. Rating: A Pro Wrestling Match that I just watched..

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7 hours ago, Jetlag said:

Watched:

Shotaro Ashino vs. Pegaso Illuminar, W1 10/24/2018

I have pretty much avoided Wrestle-1 so this is my first time seeing either guy. Pegaso is a really skinny dude in a mask while Ashino looks like a dime store Hideki Suzuki with a massive bloated gut. They trade some faux-WoS holds and it's all fine, then Pegaso hits a really bad leg trip, low height dropkick that barely connects and 2 dives where he almost misses. Not a good intro. He does take a really nasty bump to the floor next and Ashino starts working over the leg to set up his ankle lock "finisher". Ashinos legwork was pretty good, ramming Pegasos leg into the steel post without care etc. Of course, Pegaso makes his comeback by backflipping, hitting a bunch of kicks, sprinting across the ring etc... we all saw it coming. The finishing run was basically Kurt Angle stuff with Ashino locking in half a dozen ankle holds, hitting multiple germans etc. This was kept mercifully short. Ashino actually looked decent, but Pegaso is not the kind of worker I want to watch.

Watch Ashino vs. Soya from 3/14. Easily the best Ashino match I've seen, the best W1 match of the year, and Soya works his ass off. 

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Thanks for the heads up. Ashino/Soya is on the To Watch list now, same as Hollis/Slim J.

 

Watched:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. WALTER (wXw 5/18/2018)

The body of this was pretty great as they took a rather minimalist approach. WALTER destroying Zack in the opening sections with huge chops and body slams goes a long way in getting me into a match. This was one of the more likeable Zack Sabre Jr. performance I've seen as he doesn't do any cute shit and instead mostly works over WALTERs leg with brutal stomps and kicks. Him baiting WALTER into throwing the chop was a nice touch aswell. I also really appreciate him *not* waiting for WALTER to get in perfect position so he could hit his running kicks.I should add that Zack throws really weak european uppercuts and his noodle legwork was awkward. They forego the legwork story to do your pretty run of the mill finishing section with some elaborate sequences which feel a little out of place in a match that was approaching Hashimoto/Yamazaki style simplicity before. I also really dislike that spot where one guy does a backflip to escape the rear naked choke as it makes the other guy look like a dumbass who can't use his legs. I appreciate the simple stripped approach they tried here but I'll see if I can find a better WALTER/Sabre match.

Pierre Carl Ouellet vs. WALTER (GCW, 4/6).

Liked parts of this but didn't love the whole match. Pretty sloppy and it seemed WALTER had no idea how to work this kind of brawl for a big audience. Did like PCO actually avoiding WALTERs chops and the way he sold coming across as an old man pushing close to his body giving out... well that may have not been selling. Still this is all about that big moment where a bloody PCO gets fired up and the crowd really gets into him. Before that this was a pretty meandering affair. I thought PCO could've done better than all the flippies though it popped the crowd. Ah what do I know. I imagine Park vs. PCO would be amazing.

 

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One of my most pleasant wrestling discoveries of 2017 was Kyushu Pro Wrestling. Kyushu Pro is based on the island of Kyushu and it has a similiar vibe to Osaka Pro etc, with the family friendly atmosphere and some outlandish gimmicks. However it's style is closer to NOAH than classic lucharesu and the workers aren't afraid to get stiff. The roster is pretty great with lots of lovable easily recognizable dudes. So of course it was pretty much the only wrestling promotion I somewhat kept up with in 2018. Problem is they only upload a handful of matches to their YouTube account. They always show these awesome clips and packages before each match, and they don't seem to sell DVDs of these, and it's just cruel, man! In the age where every wrestling related gathering of more than 20 japanese people in Tokyo gets filmed we can't have more than a dozen or so full Kyushu Pro matches. On the other hand, each match is filmed in great handcamera style, so that's a big plus over that low budget Niconico garbage that all japanese indy wrestling has turned into. So let's get into it.


 

Hitamaru Sasaki & ASOSAN vs. Ryota Chikuzen & Yuji Hino (Kyushu Pro 1/14/2018)

This is fun matchup on paper that ended up being about as good as it looks. Hitamaru is Kyosuke Sasaki, one of the few U-Style guys still working in 2018, though he doesn't do shootstyle matwork anymore he is kind of like a mini Akitoshi Saito now. ASOSAN is a guy I really like as he is a fun tubby indy dude with a cool mask who has a nice punch and Piledriver finish etc. Not to mention the awesome weird mask and he likes many of my Twitter posts. Hino is a K-Dojo dude who I remember from his series with Kengo Mashimo and... well he's just ridiculously bloated these days. Good lord he looks like he is a bout to blow up. I do not advocate for this kind of thing at all. This was mostly your standard fare indy tag but it was 4 guys who have no problem hitting eachother hard and getting hit hard. Hino especially really cracks people with chops, and Sasaki while he does do a lot of thigh slapping (It's 2018 daddy!) will really lace you up with kicks and I really liked his shotai combo on fat Yuji Hino. Chikuzen looks like he could be potentially a really fun worker as he has the size and odd charisma to be 2018 indy Taue not to mention his hilarious trunk design he just but doesn't quite live up to it aside from some nice snug offense. It's especially weird that you don't get a ton of expressive character work in a Kyushu Pro match were it would be welcome. While this was plenty stiff I thought the early goings needed something to kick the aggression up a notch, the posturing I hit you-you hit me stuff threw me off, I really don't want these guys to work like a bunch of Nu Japan simps. Sasaki ends up playing FIP and he does a fine job tho they don't go in depth with the segment and move on to your typical indy break up a bunch of pinfalls finishing stretch. I really liked ASOSANs big senton (which looked even better than that fat fuck Hinos) and crowbarish sumo slaps not to mention the big piledriver, generally the bomb dropping was cool with guys hitting massive powerbombs and splashes altough this needed something in the 1st half to really get me into it. Anyways if you are really into 2018 there is no reason for you not to watch Kyushu Pro.


 

Mentai Kid vs. Kazuaki Mihara (Kyushu Pro 1/14/2018)

Mentai Kid is the quasi-ace of Kyushu Pro. At first glance he looks like your run of the mill indy Rey Mysterio clone, but from what I've seen, Mentai Kid is genuinely a really good and interesting wrestler. Mihara on the other hand is your very unimpressive pudgy indy guy, which makes Kyushu Pros booking of him as a main eventer really baffling, I guess he is Chikuzens brother in law or something. This built like an indy King's Road match with the extended control segments and cutoffs that the style needs. I really liked the early portion which was dominated by Mentai Kid, who would get the advantage using his athleticism and then work over Miharas mid section with nasty looking double stomps and even a nice corner punch combo. The Mihara dominated portions were on the other hand much less interesting. He did have a nice vertical suplex and elbow drops, but he went for chinlocking pretty fast, and his initial transition looked like garbage. He does get in some nice cut off spots thanks to Kids athleticism. The finishing stretch was overdone 2.9999s altough it was kept interesting by Kids graceful comebacks and slapping the shit out of Mihara. Mihara on the other hand was kind of liked a Fire Pro edit as he had some cool big moves (Muscle Buster variation and big lariats that Mentai Kid bumped like a madman for) but little interesting between the moves, he was huffing and looked like he was about to check his watch between lariats. Anyways overall this was probably better than quite a few pimped matches I've seen so far and Mentai Kid looked like top material but the bottom of the barrel indy vibes from Mihara kept this from being an actively good entry in the canon of japanese matches where they kick out of a looot of big moves.

Hitamaru Sasaki vs. Kazuaki Mihara (Kyushu Pro 4/3/2018)

In the previous match Mihara looked like an average guy in a match too big for his skillset. Here he just looked like a lazy piece of shit. The early attempts of Sasaki to get acceptable matwork out of Mihara were almost comical. At one point Sasaki goes into greco pummeling and Mihara just lazily waddles to the ropes and tosses him outside. Fortunately for us Sasaki decides to save this match by threating Mihara as what he is and just kicks seven times the shit out of his sorry ass. Goodness gracious Sasaki was PISSED here laying into Mihara with massive hurty looking kicks and slaps over and over. He looked like he'd be Top 20 in the world if he made tape more often. Give this a watch if you're in the mood for a classic japanese style asskicking. The finish is good too so I guess this match is actually not bad.

We get more long title matches involving Kazuki Mihara in which he absolutely sucks ass. So Kazuaki Mihara already easily takes the spot as my most hated wrestler of 2018 for ruining the Kyushu main event scene. I liked the GENKAI match as a crazy spectacle but the closest to an actually good match is him vs. Naoki Sakurajima. Sakurajima works like a mix of different 90s japanese wrestling legends but he has good enough execution and charisma to get you into it and he really works his ass off doing all kinds of nifty stuff to make a compelling match. He also hits great shining wizards and boots etc. Def. a hidden good wrestler that Sakurajima guy.

Genkai vs. Kodai Nozaki (Kyushu Pro 5/27/2018)

GENKAI used to be Daiyu Kawauchi and then Hideyoshi for awhile. So 15 years ago he was young spunky talented guy getting his ass beaten in CAPTURE International, and now he is really rugged looking veteran dude who really likes to do WWE trademarks. No really, Superman Punch, Pedigree, RKO, he was doing them all here. Kodai Nozaki is a rookie phenom, impressive by physique alone, with tree trunk sized legs and cool judo moves. This was a swell match where they clobber eachother hard, make some cool transitions and cutoffs and build to a hot finish. Nozaki absolutely sold his ass off bumping big and making you believe in those RKOs. Not a great match but a good take on Indy Kings Road that won't bore you to shit. Nozaki is going places for sure if he ever leaves Kyushu.

So that about sums up Kyushu Pro in 2018. There are some more fun matches so be sure to give their YouTube channel a visit. They also have a DVD which has an interesting looking Mentai/Genkai match so that is something I will nag tapetraders to find for sure. Meanwhile I'm sure Kyushu Pro will step up and become the #1 promotion in the world in 2019 when they decide to release everything they film.

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Watched:

Shotaro Ashino vs. Manabu Soya (W1 3/14/2018)

I remember Manabu Soya from a couple years back, and now he's... well... really bloated and less colorful. Basically Nakanishi without the impressive physique. Damn, did roids go down in price in japan or something? Anyways for the first 10 minutes or so this was good solid pro wrestling. Soya defends against Ashinos initial attempts to work over his arm but eventually falls victim. Ashinos armwork is good for the most part, hitting kneedrops and cool european uppercuts to the arm, but he would also do the Okada „I grab your arm and gently tap it into the mat“ stuff. They lose me when they do a no sell competition and I start to zone out during Ashinos Kurt Angleish ankle hold attempts and Soya running through his offense on him. The ending was pretty intense though with Ashino remembering his tactic and picking Soyas arm apart for big drama only to fall to the dreaded lariat anyways. Ashino came across less like a japanese grappler here and more like someone who really likes Smackdown 6 Era Malenko/Benoit type matches. This is getting there but not quite listworthy.

Considering:

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Takashi Sugiura (NOAH 10/4/2018)

Holy stiffness batman! Nakajimas new exaggerated heel act is questionable but there's no denying he was willing to kill and get killed here. His evading of Sugiuras strikes actually made the opening portions interesting. And goodness gracious he was absolutely demolishing Sugiura with ridiculous slaps and kicks here. Sugiura is someone who I will always see as an undercarder getting the wrong ideas in his head and then getting pushed far beyond his capabilities, but he was less of a poor mans Kurt Angle here and more of a poor mans Kazuyuki Fujita. He certainly had me believing in a KO when he landed those knees on Nakajima, and Nakajima in turn beat him so bad his entire upper body turned red. I hated the ref distraction spot for Nakajima to choke Sugiura with a piece of wood like some Z-level indy schmoe only for the ref to see him using that thing anyways and the finish didn't quite match the grizzly violence that came before, but this is must watch for the trainwrecky brutality alone. I don't advocate for this kind of „Let's do gruesome things to eachother for show“ wrestling and this is definitely not a great match but it's definitely a great spectacle.

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Added: Pete Dunne vs. WALTER (wXw 7/22/2018)

Close to or perhaps better match than WALTER/Thatcher. The opening of this ruled as Dunne would try to ankle pick the big guy, bruise his leg with kicks etc all while running for the ropes like Lou Thesz whenever WALTER came for him and escaping Walters grappling attempts. The first thing Walter does when he gets ahold of Dunne he caves his chest in with a massive stomp. Walter then decides to put a beating on the cowardly weasel only for Dunne to start targeting his wrist and fingers. Dunne basically wrestles like someone who studied a lot of Bryan Danielson and Terry Rudge matches, which is GOOD, but he also has some weak moments such as a really weak thigh slapping enzuigiri, goofy Shiranui etc. I also felt his arrogant behaviour felt a little tacked on and misplaced considering how savvy he acted earlier. That's a lot of nitpicking, on the other hand I really loved his PRIDE stomps and trying to break the fingers while hanging off of Walter. Walter reacting to Dunne biting him by trying to break his jaw may be the spot of the year. Walter countering Dunnes goofy pump handle finisher with a judo throw that felt very organic. Weak finish as is typical of wXw booking. These indy matches feel somewhat experimental and like throwing too much shit on the wall but the raw talent is undeniable. I suggest Dunne study some Yoshinari Ogawa and both of them watch more SWS and WAR.

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Watched:

Joe Doering vs. Kento Miyahara (AJPW 3/25/2018)

Okay I hate Pro Wrestling now. Joe Doering is doing Stan Hansen cosplay but instead of working a comedy 6 man in the undercard he is challenging for the top belt. And they wonder why they draw miserable crowds. Nobody wants to watch Fake Stan Hansen when Real Stan Hansen was a thing. When La Parka retires I'm not gonna watch Fake La Parka. Atleast Pete Dunne has the excuse that there is a very limited amount of Terry Rudge matches available. Doering performance here is a good example of what modern works do wrong: there are some individual cool spots, but the stuff between is dry, dry dry, and none of the spots matter in the grand scheme of things. Stan Hansen clobbering someone is awesome because he came at those guys like a raging bull, with a fire in his eyes like he was gonna pull someones head off. Doering standing there and robotically tapping someone on the back is not that. Hansen was also great at working holds and the subtler things like attacking an arm etc, something Doering either doesn't understand or chooses not to do. He knows the powerbomb on the floor, but he doesn't understand it's the Hansen monkeyflip and chinlock that marks true greatness. This match could probably be cut up and re edited into something decent. Whole match was horribly slow, with about a dozen spots where both guys where down, and felt disconnected from the crowd. At no point did either guy show an ounce of spark. Not fun to watch.

Zeus vs. Suwama (AJPW 4/7/2018)

This was marginally better than the previous abomination. Mostly because they worked a basic, focussed match. Typical opening with shoulderblock and a test of strength and then Suwama goes right away attacking Zeus' bad leg. It seems Suwama has gotten better at the little things (selling his wrists after the test of strength, nice energetic dropkick, varied legwork) but from what I can tell he still has no business working long main events without someone to handhold him. Zeus performance left me on a dry note aswell: at no point did he offer significant resistant to Suwamas legwork, and after Suwama had worked his leg for 10 minutes straight his choice for comeback moves is a triple suplex and running lariat. Then he proceeds to give your typical „I'm doing moves now – whoops, I just took a move, better clutch my leg“ hit and miss selling performance. My favourite funny spot was when Suwama puts Zeus in an ankle lock (Kurt Angle influence running wild in 2018 baby), Zeus takes a while to get out, then Zeus puts Suwama in a (very loose) ankle lock. So Zeus, after having his bad leg destroyed for 10 minutes does not tap to an ankle hold, what am I suppose to believe him putting the hold on Suwama with no set up is going to do? Of course Suwama does not have the goods to add any significance to this sequence. The ending is your typical heavyweight stuff, some lariats and then one guy wins. It is beyond me how this is exciting or praiseworthy to anyone but here we are. The most baffling thing is how people are saying this was worked in the traditional AJPW style, even though the most prominent aspects of that style, great selling and storytelling and deadly headdrops are all missing.

Considering:

Takuya Nomura vs. Yuya Aoki (3/21/2018)

Okay this restores my fate in wrestling. Scrappy, intense fight. No bullshit wandering around. Nomura is a legend in the making. I disliked Aokis masochistic tendencies, but once he drops that posturing shit he will probably be great too. Very expressive performance from him. Nomura almost KO's him before they even lock up but he still goes to grapple with Nomura. Then he catches him with a nasty kick on the ground and I'm way into this already. Nomura was incredibly vicious and precise in beating down Aoki. The little elbow to the gut before uppercutting him is what sets Nomura apart from your average worker who uses strikes as spots. His reversals were also great. Aoki leaning into Nomuras kicks came a bit across as a young guy trying to go beyond his limit in order to topple a superior, more experienced fighter. Great dive. Loved the palm strikes. Wonderful finish which tells everyone the focus is to win and not to do spots. Not a classic (yet) but it made me happy.

 

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. A-Kid (Whitewolf Wrestling 4/14/2018)

Sabre in those trunks makes me laugh. I liked the opening grappling a lot because of how rough it felt. The spanish crowd being really into the grappling was really cool. A-Kid looked very competent. Zack Sabre Jr. being a prick towards his opponent was good. The slap exchanges were pretty stiff but felt goofy after watching Nomura/Aoki. Some of the near submissions were pretty brutal indeed with Sabre almost ripping the leg off after Kid tried a 619. I really liked how A-Kid kept coming at Sabre, slapping him, diving for ankle picks etc. The finishing run wasn't terrible but not very engaging to me, altough there were 2 cool spots: A-Kid obliterating Zack with the super kick and him catching Zack in mid air with a backslide for a nice nearfall. Verdict: a good match.

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More japanese wrestling:


Watched:

Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi (AJPW 6/12/2018)

This was the best AJPW match I've seen this year. It wasn't anything great but a fun performance by the veterans. Nagata still has something in the tank, selling a near KO in the opening portions and later paying it back. Akiyama still looks like the Akiyama I love. He was just incredibly vicious Nomura & Aoyagi did very little for me. If you're a bland japanese rookie atleast show some spark while you are getting your ass beaten.

Considering:

Dick Togo vs. Takuya Nomura (BJW 2/18/2018)

This was also good. Dick Togo is still a great pro wrestler 10 year after his retirement, and Nomura continues to look like the real deal. The one disappointing thing is that it's „only“ a good, well worked match rather than something great. Despite this being a shortish midcard match both guys worked hard, Togo hit his awesome senton to the floor (missed by the camera) and Nomura dishing out big blow. Match got pretty great after Nomura had enough of Togos worked punches and started throwing hands and kicks only for Togo to get up and slap his shit. These two may have a stiff war together in the future but so far I'm pleased with this.

Added:

Tajiri vs. TAKA Michinoku (K-Dojo 4/22/2018)

Wow did this rule. I'm all on board for TAJIRI: Best Wrestler in Japan. I understand he doesn't always go all out, but he did here, in his own way. First of all these two are great at all the little gestures in a match that make this stuff stand out, while also timing their offense perfectly. Tajiri may have the best worked strikes in wrestling. It's certainly something all those thigh slapping indy dudes should study. He just drops TAKA and it feels so unexpected and you are immediately drawn in. TAKA (who was really bending Tajiris wrists when applying holds before, another nice touch) manages a slick reversal and establishes himself as dangerous. Some really great armwork followed. Tajiri slipping out of another facelock attempt to continue controlling the arm is an od school touch lifted to a modern match in the right way. This is all just ridiculously smart, well timed stuff. TAKA was pretty desparate soon and basically went for the kill at any time. Tajiri countering the Michinoku Driver II was on par with some unique World of Sport spot. He was channeling Regal at his peak here, just a great job controlling his opponent with a knack for the inventive. Great 10 minute match, old guy wrestling rules

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I watched a bunch of indy wrestling

 

Jeremy Wyatt vs. Jonathan Gresham (SLA 11/16/2018)

This follows rules similiar to the old RoH Pure Title where each wrestler only has 3 rope breaks and you also lose ropebreaks for closed fists. Gresham loses a rope break on a triviality early on which I actually thought was an interesting way to get the crowd into Gresham. They start out with a lot of grappling as is Greshams forte. I'm starting to think Gresham is a lot like Skayde in that he moves smoothly and obviously has a big database of techniques in his head but his matwork rarely builds to serious moments. Wyatt is not a super interesting worker but he had some slick moves such as a Russian Leg Sweep with nice snap and a cool Downward Spiral to a submission. Wyatt injures his leg but is able to take out Gresham with a cool neck snap in return. This was going good with Wyatt putting a beating on Gresham and they really make it a point to emphasize things like struggling over a basic suplex. Gresham ends up making his comeback and goes to town on Wyatts leg, bending the ankle etc. Up to this point they had me on board with the match but then a false finish and restart happen which I thought was completely unnecessary and terrible. Wyatt stops selling his leg and Gresham starts doing all these annoying pop ups. They actually produce a very good countout nearfall but soon after they start doing all these Malenko/Guerrero sequences and counter wrestling which doesn't really fit the match they were doing up to that point. The finish comes out of left field and not in a good way.

Mike Quackenbush vs. Jonathan Gresham (Beyond Wrestling 1/27/2018)

This was fine but I'm starting to lose interest in Gresham. Obviously there was some slick hold for hold stuff here, but nothing that was far beyond what Quack could do with any of his trainees. The best things Gresham did here were his back drop bumps and that stomp. He was doing some kind of touring heel champ thing here which I think doesn't fit him very well. Quack still looks good (making good use of his stolen moves) but he had some really exaggerated facial expressions which is something I don't remember him having before. Gresham also had one really weird attempt at facial selling.

Tracy Williams vs. Tom Lawlor (Beyond Wrestling 9/16/2018)

Tom Lawlor is clearly someone to watch. Rugged tough aura, and his basic offense actually looks real hurty. His low kicks in this were awesome. This starts out with some cafeteria BattlARTS grappling which they don't seem to know how to pace yet... maybe they were just in a hurry to get their shit in. Lawlor does a lot of convoluted Indy moves... something I think he should just drop and wrestle like an 80s NWA guy with a shoulderbreaker as a finisher or something, plus the shootstyle moves. But then, shouldn't everyone? But then, it's the current year. Tracy William gives me nothing at this point but he might work on himself and become a really good worker like Drew Gulak did. I liked the spot where he tried to catch a Lawlor chop but then he found out that was a bad idea.

Jeff Cobb vs. Darby Allin (Limitless Wrestling 1/19/2018)

I almost forgot about these 2 guys. Really fun 8 minute match with Cobb ragdolling Allin. I especially liked Allins suicide dive where he just crashed into a brick wall. Cobbs near KO elbows on Allin looked great too. Allin came across a bit like your typical indy guy who does unnecessary rolls and stuff but his execution is top notch. Just really fast movements. I didn't buy the finish, but Darby going over Cobb in just 8 minutes is something that is really tough to buy. Will see if I can find a better match but this did everything right. Full Worldwide point.

Eddie Kingston vs. Chris Dickinson (Limitless Wrestling 1/19/2018)

This was a match with some big moves and stiff blows but little of the nuanced touches that this kind of match needs. Kingston slowly moving Dickinson into position and making him take an apron bump just feels listless and that is never a good thing when it comes to apron bumps. I also can't get into Dickinsons huffin, puffin, fighting spirit yelling „I'm so tough“ posturing act at all. I also felt like Kingston was just going through this stuff. Really liked those suplexes though.

 

I also tried watching some STARDOM and this was the only match I could stomach... of course it has TAJIRI

Tajiri & Kagetsu vs. Konami & Minoru Tanaka (Stardom 9/26/2018)

Intergender tag! I like 3 out of these 4. Konami is rocking the U-Style bare feet kickpadded look. Kagetsu is someone I liked a lot a couple years back, and Tajiri is Tajiri. The girl vs. Girl sections had none of the typically annoying joshi stuff, but I wouldn't call them more than solid – these two were kicking eachother hard, but it was the lame NJPW type „I kick you you kick me“ stuff. I feel Kagetsus heel act has made her less interesting, altough I did love her brutal kick to the ankle. Tajiri had a really fun small show performance here, getting a fun mat section out of Tajiri, aswell as playing a slimy heel opposite Konami. He was working some interesting leg stretches, awesome fast body slam series and did a great job selling his leg to set up getting his comeuppance from Konami. All done in a believable way. He also threw a leg kick that felt more brutal than any kick Konami threw while being probably not stiff at all. This is a small show tag so there is lots of spitting and posturing altough it all works in the context. I was almost expecting a big comeback from Konami with all the shit she took but then she doesn't and it totally works.

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I watched some lucha. Which reminded me that I need to watch more damn lucha.


Added:

Negro Casas vs. Aramis (Lucha Memes 3/11/2018)

It's good to see Negro Casas is still world class in 2018. His execution was top notch, really chucking his opponent to the mat with his early basic takedowns, fast spin kicks etc. He then does some classic selling in the style of his 1992 match with El Dandy. I would have liked Casas to put a bigger beating on his opponent, but what we got was fun. Aramis has a really great dive and vicious leglock, but other than that was pretty much just another skinny dude for Casas to get a good match out of. He could drop bombs but I'm really tired of seeing luchadores do super kicks etc. This had the usual neat transitions and spots you get in Negro Casas matches. Loved the big knee breaker and the tricky finisher teases and reversals down the stretch.

Watched (and maybe considering):

LA Park & Hijo de La Park & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Rush & Bestia Del Ring & Barbaro Cavernario (CMLL 9/17/2018)

The Rush/Park feud is something people have gone crazy over and this was a good intro to it. Lots of garbage is thrown around, people get belted, and there were some amazing crowd reactions with the perfectly timed showdowns. What the hell was up with this going 30 minutes? In Puebla of all places?? Even Zacarias takes a big bump! Besides that this was good and they filled the time well. The issue I had was that this was basically a series of crowd pleasing spots rather than a truely hate filled violent brawl, but then again that's the reality of modern CMLL. I also thought the eventual Rush/Park could've been better. On the other hand I loved Parks last ditch spear. Rudo team are obviously very good bases and made Guerrero & Hijo look good. Cavernario is nuts for taking the Jaguar Yokota face down bump off the top.

Barbaro Cavernario vs. Soberano Jr. (CMLL 3/27/2018)

Okay this was more like it. Cavernario opens this up by putting a metric ass stomping on Soberano Jr. One of the greatest beatdowns of 2018 for sure. Soberano Jr. Kind of redeems himself by bumping madly all over the place. Really painful looking use of the guardrails here, Cavernario was just destroying the poor dude. I was about to complain about Soberano Jr. Making a lame, easy comeback, but then Cavernario just dropped him with a powerbomb and then proceeded to literally tear into him. Barbaro Cavernario unmasking the guy and not giving a fuck about the DQ is the stuff of legends. I don't know whether the two of them tumbling off the top rope with Soberano getting stuck was intentional but it was another great moment. Soberano Jr. Worked hard but he is a luchador who loves superkicks and canadian destroyers and that is naturally gonna be a tough spot for me. His eventual comeback really needed a bit of a more savage edge. He just went for highspots. They looked good, but I was hoping for more. The beatdown from Cavernario was hinting at a classic and instead we got the usual dive fest. I need more of this Cavernario though.

Solar & Mano Negra & Felino vs. Negro Navarro & Fuerza Guerrera & Jerry Estrada (CMLL 11/30/2018)

I always end up coming back to these old guy matches. HOLY SHIT Jerry Estrada is wrestling in 2018?? I genuinely thought he was dead. I guess vampires do live forever. It was fascinating to watch these guys with almost no mobility left do their best to have an interesting match. Well Solar/Navarro exchanges still rule, so that's great. Fuerza Guerrera kneeing someone in the ribs while in the ropes is more interesting to me than your standard throwaway matwork section anyways. Estrada can barely do anything and looks like he is about to blow his knee out at all times. Suddenly, Solar has a huge chip on his shoulder and wants a piece of either Fuerza or Jerry! A minute latter we get mask ripping and old guys throwing punches. Awesome. Jerry Estrada may be hardly mobile but he can still mime with the best of them. Fuerza throws a nice corner punch combo. Mano Negra moves impossibly slow but still goes through sequences. A lot of nerds will say this was terrible and that's why they are nerds.

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I watched a metric ton of US Indy wrestling. Including a bunch of additions and a borderline classic!

Watched:

Fred Yehi vs. Cain Justice (ACTION Wrestling 4/27/2018)

This is my first time seeing Cain Justice. He does not have an impressive physique. I'm not a big looks guy (altough a cool look will go a long way with me), but jesus! Those shorts aren't doing him favors either. Cain Justice should probably wear a gi. Cain Justice looks like the kind of guy who smokes pot while watching early 2000s NJPW and one day decides to get in the ring himself and bring this style of pro wrestling back. He is probably a great dude, but jesus he needs to work on his execution. I am still looking for the one Yehi match that blows me away, this still isn't it, but he looks impressive here. Controlling Cain early on the mat, really chucking him to the mat in a headlock, hitting nice shoulder blocks and Garvin stomps. Cain Justice does the TJ Perkins spot where he hops into the ropes, which is just a comical thing to do for a guy like him. On the other hand Cain takes a bunch of Yehi chops and shoulderblocks and bumps around the arena in fun ways. Cain takes over with a painful looking and unique finger snap, I would have liked him to work the hand more as he looked good doing that, hitting a painful looking kneedrop. They soon go for strike exchanges and some unique spots which look a littly goofy here and there. Cain hits this kick to the mid section that is just pitiful and also some really bad palm strikes. Finish was very good and I give them credit for trying something different but Cain needs to become a little more polished before these two can do something special.
 

Dominic Garrini vs. Cash Flo (PWF)

This was basically a squash where Garrini dominates Cash Flo on the mat and then bruises up his leg with a bunch of low kicks. This was sold in a pretty big way by Cash Flo (who by the way is a massive dude) and the PWF locker room comes out with the towel being thrown in when Cash Flo is in a heel hook. Pretty cool angle for Garrini to come in and basically destroy the biggest dude in this promotion, altough I would have liked Cash to use his size advantage a little as he got in almost nothing except for a few chops. Cash Flo (who used to work IWA MS) aside from being big sold well and was willing to take punishment, maybe someone should book him against WALTER in 2019 and get him that PCO appreciation run.

 

Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku vs. Shawn Kemp & Jonathan Wolf (PWF 11/9/2018)

This was a match where they tried hard and were clearly trying to produce something that stands out, so of course nobody has taken notice. That is indy wrestling folks. Shawn Kemp is a tubby guy in a singlet who does headbutts and backfists and also takes a big beating, I like him because he kind of reminds me of Makoto Hashi. Garrini & Ku basically beat the fuck out of him with big nasty stomps, sentons and slaps. It was hard to tell how good Ku actually was as he was lucky to have an opponent who was willing to get hit hard and didn't do anything impressive besides really beating on Kemp. The same goes for Garrini to a lesser extent. Jonathan Wolf is another really non-athletic looking indy dude who tries hard. Some goofy indyriffic move combos here. I could see Phil maybe wanting to check this out.

 

Considering: Timothy Thatcher vs. Jonathan Gresham (Nova Pro 7/28/2018)

Hey look it's Thatcher appearing in the US. Thatcher essentially worked this like Arn Anderson taking on Mike Jackson which was pretty great, just chucking him to the mat dismissively, trying to dislocate his jaw with great looking european uppercuts all while shrugging off all of Greshams offensive attempts. This lead to Gresham showing some actual aggression. Loved the crowd really getting into a drop toe hold attempt and that weird leg yank he did. Wish they had done more with the legwork as it was pretty brief but great stuff with Gresham really trying to twist Thatchers leg off. Towards the end this was basically Thatcher not taking Gresham seriously and paying for it. The suicide dive into the sleeper was a really smart spot and the finish went over huge.

I also tried watching Garrini vs. Ku from NOVA Pro and wow did that suck. Two chubby guys rhymelessly stiffing eachother to no crowd reaction. I expect better from two dudes who are buddies. Only watch if you have more goodwill from either guy than I.

Considering: Tom Lawlor vs. King Khash (Prestige 6/8/2018)

This was a really fun, focussed match. They start with a bunch of hold exchanges. Nothing shootstyle here at all, altough Lawlors background certainly helps. It's weird how you don't see a ton of focussed WoS inspired hold exchanges like this in 2018 indy wrestling. I watched this because of Lawlor but ended up liking Khash a lot. He takes control by just headbutting Lawlor in the face while exchanging wristlocks and then hits a falling headbutt to his elbow which ruled. He also puts some interesting holds on him to further work the arm and I really liked how he tried to cut Lawlor off with knees etc. Also he uses the Full Nelson as his finish!!! Lawlor looked pretty good selling from underneath. He seems like a guy who has yet to find the right moves that fit him, I thought his superman punch looked weird, altough him muscling Khash up and throwing him around with suplexes repeatedly worked. I don't love pumphandle suplex moves (besides when Akiyama does them) but Lawlor worked them logically into the match.Also his big comeback move was basically a dropkick which the crowd ate up. Seems PRESTIGE is focussing a lot on these two so why not dive right into this fed!!

King Khash vs. Simon Grimm (Prestige 3/30/2018)

Another match with a lot of WoS throwback hold exchanges. This was probably a little more polished altough not quite as lengthy as Khash/Lawlor. Grimm really has his spots and crowd interactions down pat (well besides his flying armbar which is just terrible). Khash one again controlled by working the arm and Grimm handled himself very well coming up with some neat counters. Abrupt finish to put the finishing hold over. This worked very well altough it was shorter than Khash/Lawlor. Khash is certainly looking like a good Malenko/Regal type wrestler.

Tom Lawlor vs. Simon Grimm (Prestige 5/11/2018)

This had some of the more fun matwork I've seen either guy do as it was right between being rooted in their legit ability while also fun and inventive. Early on Grimm would play it could and do a classy reversal, but soon he had enough of Lawlors cross heelhooks and went for carny finger manipulation. However the parts after that were a bit of a mess. They stand up and do some „I hit you you hit me“ stuff which is a surefire way to get me to stop caring about a match. Lawlor works over Grimm for a bit and it's cool with him busting out some stiff kicks and a big boot. Grimm also showed a vicious side, yanking on Lawlors leg, muscling him up for a big Capture Suplex, pounding him on the ground with elbows etc. Still a lot of this felt like two guys lost doing a longer match that needed better planning.

Added: Lawlor/Grimm vs. Khash/Mike Santiago (Prestige 10/12/2018)

Okay now this is it. I'm not kidding you, this was a borderline excellent tag team match which told the story to a tee. Basically Mike Santiago is Khashs goon who cost Lawlor the title match on the last show, so he and his carny buddy Grimm spend a good chunk of time torturing them. I liked how Khash, the champion, was able to be somewhat competitive on the mat, even catching Lawlor with some jiu jitsu ish sweeps, while Santiago just got tooled. This had a lot of faces dominate to start which is something that can easily get dry but that was not the case at all here. Lawlor reversing Santiagos attempts and trying to choke the life out of him with Khash having to drag his partner to safety was one of the better „babyface still in control of the match“ spots in my recent memory. Once the heels took over they went for textbook rough tactics, 2 on 1, low blow behind the referees back etc, with Khash throwing a lot of punches. Grimm was FIP and he did a pretty good job here having a few great comebacks, including just yanking Santiagos thumb to counter a chinlock, as well as hitting an awesome shoot headbutt (no thighslapping there either). Lawlors hot tag was great as he was basically like a Thrillseekers Chris Jericho, which I kid you not may be the role he's been looking for as the crowd went hot for his spin kicks and forearm smashes and pounding his chest. Loved the crazy transition from the spear to the choke hold aswell. This ruled in a completely unexpected way.

Dominic Garrini vs. Jeff Cobb (SUP 6/10/2018)

I'm surprised this match hasn't gotten much play, considering this is your indy shootstyle boys Garrini and Cobb working a title match main event in a bar. Not a great match though. They barely do any of that BJJ vs. Olympic wrestling grappling that you would think of with this matchup and instead just throw bombs. I'm really over Garrini by now, the dude hits hard, but his execution is so hit and miss and also the guy has no charisma whatsoever. Cobb looked like a beast here but that's nothing new.

Added: Tom Lawlor vs. CW Anderson (BLP 8/18/2018)

Lawlor finally faces a veteran guy to learn all the right things from. God damn does CW Anderson look sharp in this match, where the hell is his indy megapush?? Beautiful punches, really cradling Lawlor tight for pins, not budging one bit on shoulderblocks, looking comfortable trading holds, and of course the awesome spinebuster. Lawlor was in a different role here essentially disrespecting the veteran and working him over, and it works quite well for him too. Countering the spinebuster was such a nifty spot aswell as the spit spot which lead to CW giving him a punch that credible knocked the UFC guy on his ass. The sleeper hold is put over, and Lawlor suplexes the old guy a bunch. I also really liked Anderson fighting out of a gutwrench with elbows. This was short and hit all the right buttons. You can look at this match in different ways, it's either a fun way to spend 10 minutes, or something to go crazy over if it came on on a WWE C-show.

Dominic Garrini vs. Gunner Miller (ACTION 4/27/2018)

This was probably the best Garrini match I've seen so far. Execution was mostly fine here altough there were some pretty bad „palm strikes“ to the chest. I think this would've been better if it had been Gunner muscling Garrini around. Instead Garrini dominates this using a lot of strikes and throws with Miller occasionally bombing him. Pretty solid match altough it was basically a bomb fest with 1 or 2 good counters from Garrini.

Added: Slim J vs. Corey Hollis (Anarchy Wrestling 5/12/2018)

Dog Collar! This is one of my favourite stipulations, and this was very good. This gimmick depends all on either guys willingness to take punishment, and they were willing to get plenty. Lots of nice chain punches, and Slim J got good color. The inventive touches worked and there was some hurty looking chain yanking. Actually great finish. I think this would've been slightly better with Hollis bleeding too... wait that is kinda ghoulish now. Also one of the announcers said these guys were animals god knows how many times. Good to see southern indy wrestling is still cool.

Added: Slim J vs. Corey Hollis (Anarchy Wrestling 7/28/2018)

YARD CALL. Wow. This gave me hope for america. Please, go watch this unspoiled. I honestly felt this was up there with the best spectacle matches of this kind that have been done in wrestling ever. Regal/Finlay parking lot fight, Hart Dungeon, Funk/Lawler empty arena, Bathhouse Deathmatch, you name it. Slim J comes in with the greatest entrance of the year and from then on it's everything this needs to be. A toilet is thrown, guys get shoved face first into barbed wire and punched in the back of the head, then dragged through the shards and the dirty flower. You watch this and realize everything you see was placed deliberately in this surreal chamber. I watched this wondering what that chain hanging from the ceiling was for before realizing it was a dog collar. I was thinking „There is a broom there... they should use the broom“ and then Hollis uses it to cut off J so casually. Then Slim Js shirt gets torn. Then they literally kick the cell down. This is something that starts out bizarre and fascinating by itself and then they just keep going and topping themselves... that skeleton of a stretcher will haunt me for a while. This was an injection of pro wrestling in it's purest form.

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More 2018 randomness as I keep going on random watching sprees. This time I found an unexpected borderline classic!!

 

Strongly considering: Teddy Hart vs. Myron Reed (AAW 1/20/2018)

What the fuck was this match?? Teddy Hart is a grizzled veteran now and he is whipping out super fast impressive submissions. He also lights Reed up with some stiff european uppercuts. The opening portion of this is pretty much Hart chucking Reed around and it's really fun. The most awesome thing is the announcers are talking about how this could be like a Stu Hart Dungeon grappling session while Teddy is hitting moonsaults into hammerlocks. Hart hits this asai moonsault which coupled with his „I don't even give a fuck anymore“ facial expressions and payama pants was pretty great. Hart then rummages around putting a bunch of chairs together and tries a move where you can't tell if he botched a canadian destroyer and landed on his back or Reed countered him. But Sabu-like wrestler who is either going to destroy himself or his opponent is fine with me. Myron Reed is a young guy with a serious deathwish. He hits some huge dives and eats a bunch of sick neck compressing super indy moves from Hart. Hart also tries some rope whiplash moves which look really brutal on skinny Reed who is just thrown around like a ragdoll. Hart also starts working a fucking bearhug in the middle of this match. I need more of this Teddy Hart.

Added: Teddy Hart vs. Harry Smith (WOW 8/11/2018)

I did not expect to see a 30 minute mat classic involving Teddy Hart in 2018, but here it is. Not only did this match have a ton of great spots and cool matwork, it told a beautiful story: Harry is the cleanest, most kept together guy you can think of, being on the road with big companies for years and doing catch wrestling tournaments on the side. While Teddy is the black sheep of the family walking into this match in his payama pants and black shirt famous for burning bridges and being obsessed with cats. Initially they start of friendly shaking hands and trading hands and doing standoffs while Teddy looks somewhat pained with himself. Eventually Teddy starts taking shortcuts. The matwork in this match rules, Smith is a legit catch guy so he works a bit like a UWF dude countering into armbars and kneebars, while Teddy also looks great as his flashier counterpart, flipping around trying to escape an armbar, and hitting a really great Fujiwara armbar of his own. Teddy takes the match to the outside decimating Smith with suplexes to the floor and the fans are shocked, probably because Harry is the one taking big bumps so far while Teddy Hart has been locking in awesome flash submissions. Harry would initially fight back trying to put Teddy in his place but the more bombs Teddy would drop on him the more desperate he would get. While the finishing run wasn't flawless – there are a TON of nearfalls (which actually feel warranted given the occasion and story of the match), and at times they switch offense too easily – it was held together nicely by Teddys great selling, as he was basically constantly selling to put over everything that happened, always checking his teeth or elbow, even after he himself had hit a move, and some nice callback spots. Hart takes some way bigger moves than you'd expect. I also loved him trying to power out of Teddys rope hanging piledriver. I also liked that Teddy stuck to his indy moves of flying and brutal neck compression bombs while Smith used traditional powerslams, piledrivers and superplexes etc. for nearfalls. Also, there were some neat submission counters. Finish is really simple and works. Borderline classic.


 

Watched: Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe vs. Ryuichi Sekine & Ryota Nakatsu (BASARA 8/10/2018)

Diet BattlARTS. If it was 2008 there would be little reason to bother with this stuff, but these days you gotta take what you can get. Sekine actually worked FUTEN, and he is still mediocre, but he does hit hard. Nakatsu looked like he had no idea what was doing. Parts of the match were just an awkward mess rather than shootstyle, but I enjoyed watching Nomura destroy these nerds. At one point he decided he had enough of Nakatsus interferences and just crippled him with a brutal leg kick. Abe looked okay, I especially liked his crowbarish Dragon Screw (might have been an accident tho) and he and Nomura seemed to be a fun team.

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