Sunday, January 7, 2018

Jimbo's Quarterly Rasslin' Round-Up (Q4 2017 Edition!)

Are you ready for a whirlwind recap of the best, the worst and the most random pro wrestling matches of the last three months? Hold on to your Hulkamania t-shirts, folks - it's time to rumble.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

It's truly another golden age for the pro rasslin,' and with so many promotions out there puttin' on so many matches on a nigh daily basis, it can get a little confusing differentiating the cream from the crap. Thus, we here at The Internet Is In America has decided to help many a brother out by publishing our own quarterly, DVDVR-inspired rundown of random matches from across the full spectrum of professional wrestling, be it the bigs like the WWE and New Japan or the indies established and developing in the U.S., Japan and Mexico.

Throughout the year we're going to review eight matches in-depth from every month across four quarterly installments. The first edition - which you're reading right now - will cover two dozen matches from October, November and December 2017, while the second installment (penciled in for early April) will cover 24 matches from January, February and March 2018 - and so on and so forth. As far as the match selections are concerned, we'll be taking a good, long gander at all sorts of bouts, including the critically praised, snowflake showered New Japan super main events, the best the WWE has to offer, CMLL and AAA's marquee offerings, whatever the fuck All Japan, NOAH and the rest of the Nippon B-leaguers are up to and the most noteworthy (and bizarre) indie outings from the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada and wherever they hell else the masses have a penchant for men in their underwear pretending to kill one another for five dollars a ticket.

But enough jibber-jabber ... let's head down to the ring and get this shit started proper, why don't we?

OCTOBER 2017 MATCHES

Oct. 8, 2017
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso vs. Xavier Woods and Big E (WWE Hell in a Cell '17)

I like how nobody notices that the cartoon characters on the New Day Titantron are practically minstrel show figures. The New Day try to sound hard, but it's really hard for black people to sound hard without cursing or calling somebody the n-word. Sorry, but you and I both know it's true. Both teams break out weapons early - a chain and a rainbow Kendo stick for the New Day, a chair and a REAL kendo stick for the Usos. Xavier wraps the chain around his fist and punches one of the Usos right in the face and it's fucking great. Jimmy Uso goes for a flying plancha, but the cage, of course stops him. Big E ripostes with an awesome spear *into* the cage, and we've got a "this is awesome" chant already. Xavier breaks out a purple trombone and fucking waylays one of the Usos - like fuck I can tell them apart. Xavier gets another trombone. Yep, he cracks another one over Jey's stomach. Then Xavier gets a cowbell and clubs Jey in the stomach. And here comes the gong, complete with one of the announcers making a Chuck Barris reference. Xavier gets hit with a flying chair, and Jey whacks Big E with a super kick. Both of the Usos grab Kendo sticks, and they have no problem playing Kunte Kinte on Big E's back. Then Big E (black) Hulks up with a belly to belly and he slams Jimmy into the post and then Jey superkicks him. Big E then hits a running sidewalk slam off the canvas onto his own teammate. Xavier pulls out a half dozen Kendo sticks from underneath the ring and it's time to lash Jey Uso like a runaway slave. "You going to jail, Uso!" the New Day yell. There's this great spot where the New Day sticks three Kendo sticks into the grooves of the cage so Jey is pretty much pinned helpless to the cage. He breaks free and the Usos hits a Doomsday Device, then they spear Big E against the cage. They hit a double frog splash, but Big E kicks out. The Usos handcuff Big E to the turnbuckle. Well, time for some 50 Shades of Grey shit. Then Xavier gets cuffed to the other ring post and the Usos just cane the fuck out of him like an African-American pinata. Somehow, though, Big E gets out of the cuffs and belly to belly suplexes the fuck out of everybody and spears Jimmy against the cage (LOL at the announcer comparing Big E to the ED-209 from Robocop.) Big E hits his shitty looking finisher, but Jimmy kicks out. They kick him a million times, and go up top for stereo frog splashes but Xavier breaks it up at the  very last second.The Usos get the Kendo sticks and pick apart a still handcuffed Xavier. The Usos lay a chair over Xavier and go up top for another double splash and THAT's what gets them the victory.

Meltzer's Rating****

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: Pretty entertaining stuff and quite violent for the contemporary WWE product. There were plenty of inventive spots and the bout proved once and for all that you CAN have a great cage match without buckets of blood or people getting thrown 30 feet off the roof onto poorly assembled balsa wood furniture. Then again, if you are into that kinda' stuff, lemme tell you about this other match they had at the PPV ...

Oct. 8, 2017  
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon (WWE Hell in a Cell '17)
So Kevin Owens beats the shit out of Vince McMahon, and instead of getting fired and arrested for assault and battery, he gets to headline the company's next PPV? Yep, that's rasslin' logic for you right there. Anyhoo, Shane (who has aged 68 years over the last half decade) wants REVENGE for his pappy's beat-down, and we know we have to take him seriously because the pre-match package shows him TRAINING MMA and shit. Alright, so this is a "falls count anywhere Hell in a Cell" match, which is a total and complete contradiction. Shit, wasn't the whole point of the HIAC concept to INSURE the combatants outside couldn't escape? Eh, I guess that idea got shot to shit by the first Taker/Mankind bout, I guess. LOL, Owens (shit, I still want to call him Steen) looks more like a vape store employee than a pro rassler. Shane runs out and starts throwing knuckle sammiches and knees and holy shit, his punches don't even get within the same zip code of connecting with Owen's mug. Shane lands a flying clothesline off the ringside barrier and a spinning capoeira kick. Owens says "screw you" and Shane kicks the ring door into his teeth. Now we're inside the cage and Owens is pinballing Shane's ass all over the place. "Look at daddy" Owens yells while grinding Shane's face into the mesh. And there are his kids ringside, laughing their asses off. Way to corpse, you little shits. Owens stomps on Shane's head and lands a senton for a two-count. LOL at Owen's fat ass running cannonball into the corner. "I should be your role model!" Owens yells at Shane's kids. McMahon gets his knees up on the flipping senton off the top rope. Time for more shit punches from Shane, followed by a spinning, flying elbow. And hoo boy, just wait til you see Shane do that old flipping around DDT The Rock used to use. For whatever reason, this causes the fans to chant "you've still got it." Fuck, do I hate modern WWE fans. Anyhoo, Shane goes for a shooting star press and yep, he misses. Then Owens goes up top and hits Shane with a frog splash, but yep, it's only worth a two. Shane goes for an arm triangle. Yeah, he doesn't exactly have UFC-caliber form there. Oh shit, I just now noticed McMahon's sweet red Air Jordans. Anyway, Owens, powerpombs Shane on the metal steps and that looked quite hurty. "Why are you making me do this?" Owens mutters while kicking Shane's ribs into a fine powder. Here come the tables. Owen does a running cannonball of the edge of the mat and, of course, Shane rolls out of the way and Owens goes flying through the furniture. Now Shane's smacking the hell out of Kevin with the fragments of the table. And here comes the metal trashcan. Looks like Shane's going for the Van Terminator. And he sticks it. But Owens kicks out. Wait - if it's a falls count anywhere bout, how come the ref broke up the pin when Owens got his foot on the rope? Shit, even the announcers pointed that little plot hole out. McMahon pulls out some bolt cutters, which means he's going to snip Owens' penis off on live television. Well, that or break out of the cage. One or the other. Shane continues to pummel Owens with the garbage can and Kevin low blows Shane and DDTs him on the metal ramp. Then he grabs Shane and runs him balls first into the ajar cell door. Oh shit, take a gander at the dude at ringside dressed like Cowboy Curtis from Pee Wee's Playhouse. Anyhoo, Owens keeps kicking Shane's carcass around the ring and he starts hitting him over the head with announce table bric-a-brac. Although I must say, hitting a dude with an iPad isn't exactly the most brutal looking visual. Owens starts climbing the cage while Shane pretends to be half dead on one of the announce tables. But when he gets atop, he starts coming down with bitch flu and won't jump and that gives Shane ample time to start climbing up the cell himself. Shane dangles off the cell while Owens feeds him knuckle sandwiches. Both men are finally on top of the structure and they immediately go Frye-Takayama on each other. Owens hits a powerbomb. "I don't know if you thank modern engineering or God that the cell held up after that," one of the announcers says. We get some more fisticuffs and Owens starts to climb down and everybody starts booing him. Shane pursues him and they start trading punches and kicks while hanging off the side of the cage. Shane slams Owens' head off the cage and he goes flying through the table below. The pseudo-EMTs take care of Owens while Shane takes a breather with his back to the vell. But instead of pinning Owens, he drags him over to ANOTHER table, splays him out and starts climbing the vell AGAIN. And sure enough, Shane takes a 20 foot suicide dive, but Sami Zayn pulls Owens off the table right before Shane plummets through the furniture. While the EMTs prepare to put Shane in the meatwagon, Zayn rolls Owens' half-dead corpse atop Shane and there's our three count. Oh, I get it, because Owens and Zayn were a tag team in ROH back when Zayn was playing El Generico. Now who says the E doesn't acknowledge the canon of competing promotions?

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/4

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: As far as modern spectacle bouts go, that was REALLY good. It's obvious Shane really isn't fit to go long at his age, but the slower-paced shenanigans actually worked to the match's benefit. I really didn't buy pissed GameStop employee Kevin Owens as a psychotic menace, but he did a good job of making Shane O'Mac's legendarily awful-looking offense come off as just a wee bit realistic. This is one of the year's best guilty pleasure bouts, and about as sleazy and dangerous as the WWE's going to get nowadays. I liked it, and no, I ain't going to apologize for it, either.

Oct. 9, 2017  
Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan King of Pro Wrestling 2017)

I always laugh my ass off whenever Naito does that thing where he pulls his eyeball out like "eh, look at me, I'm a white person now." As always, he comes to the ring clad in that purple tux sans a tie, like he was Ichi the Killer or something. The gimmick here is that if Naito loses, Ishii gets his main event slot at Wrestle Kingdom in January. LOL at Ishii looking at Naito strip down to his skivvies like he was a prison rapist eyeing a new piece of meat. Ishii keeps lunging at Naito like "grr, I'm going to rape you" and Naito casually ducks under everything like a cocky sumbitch. And I applaud up and down when Ishii runs back into the ring and just fucking clobbers Naito while he does that stupid fucking centerfold pose in the middle of the ring. Then Ishii slaps da fuq outta' him when he's up against the ropes and says something to him in Japanese, which is probably their equivalent of "fuck you, nigga." And Naito just eats all his chops and spits in his face, because he's cold-blooded like that. We get a great brawling segment outside where Naito keeps slinging that ass into the guardrail, then he lays Ishii's leg on the edge of the mat and elbows the shit out of his kneecap. Then he goes back into the ring and just lays there like he's getting a suntan waiting for Ishii's injured ass to re-enter the fray. Back in the ring and Naito continues to stomp and drop kick THE HELL out of that leg. Naito hits a dropkick on what Cyrus calls "the knee capsule" of Naito and the momentum swings like that. LOL at Ishii slapping and elbowing Naito in the corner, complete with some NASTY chops to the throat. Ishii goes for a powerbomb but Naito dead weights him. He counters a powerbomb attempt into a neckbreaker and a dropkick to the small of the back. There's a great counter exchange where Ishii hits a boss side suplex to put Naito down. Then Ishii MELTS Naito with a running clothesline into the corner. Naito dropkicks Ishii off the top rope. And we get an extended stalling segment. Naito with another neckbreaker and a slingshot dropkick on the button. Naito slaps Ishii on the back of the head and it's fucking hilarious. Ishii no sells a ton of forearm shots and slaps the yellow off Naito's teeth on a forearm smash of his own. Then he release Germans that Japanese motherfucker into the turnbuckle post. Of course, Naito kicks out of the Last Ride, though. Ishii lands a superplex, but Naito kicks out of that, too. Naito hits a tornado DDT off the ropes. They exchange forearm smashes for a bit and Ishii drops him. Naito counters the lariat with a wheel kick and a FAT release German. Naito with a top rope Frankensteiner. No dice. Naito with an enziguri.  He goes up top and dropkicks Ishii in the back of the skull and follows it up with a dragon suplex but Ishii ISHIIS UP and hits Naito with an enziguri of his own. Naito with a fucking dope looking calf crusher, but Ishii gets to the ropes. Naito hits Gloria but Ishii kicks out. Naito counters a piledriver with the Destino, but it's just a two. Ishii lands his patented brainbuster, but Naito kicks out. Ishii is up first. He headbutts him in the corner turnbuckle and then Naito chops the fuck out of Ishii, but Ishii responds with a LETHAL looking clothesline. Ishii calls for the vertical drop brainbuster, but Naito counters out several times before hitting the Destino. BUT ISHII KICKS OUT. There's Naito with one more Destino, and that gets him the W.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 3/4

My Rating: ****

The Verdict? That was a really, really good match, but let's face it: these guys have had so many ****+ matches this year that this one, comparably, doesn't really stand out from everything else great they've done in 2017. Still, it has plenty of great moments and the concluding sequence was just dynamite. That said, I STILL adamantly believe the Destino is a stupid, shitty-looking finisher and every time it's used as the go-home move all I can do is shake my head.

Oct. 9, 2017  
Will Osperay vs KUSHIDA (New Japan King of Pro-Wrestling 2017)

Osperay comes out wearing a Spider-Man mask and matching vest. How very Rey Mysterio, circa 1996, of him. "Time Splitter" Kushida comes out wearing a jacket with a Pepsi logo on it, because ... fuck, it's Japan, nothing makes any sense. We've got a wild forearm brawl that turns into a slapfight to begin. I LMAO everytime Osperay screams like a monkey. Sweet running dropkick on the outside from KUSHIDA. He sets up a chair and he gets elbowed right in the fucking face by Osperay on the rebound. Osperay with a springboard plancha to the outside, which KUSHIDA counters into an armbar. KUSHIDA with a figure four, and Osperay screams like crazy. Fuck, talk about vocal overselling, guy. Shit, for high-flyers these guys sure do love them some crappy, semi-shooty restholds. KUSHIDA with the Cattle Mutilation, but Osperay gets the ropes. Osperay with some theatrical flippy kicks and a flying ass to the face. Man, those corkscrews are really unnecessary. Osperay showboats and KUSHIDA hits him with a roaring elbow and a hammer lock. Osperay with an enziguri and then Osperay hits a kayfabe-murdering, quasi-botched 360 rock bottom. Osperay's elbows are about the pussiest thing you've ever seen. But his super kicks do look pretty good, though. KUSHIDA with a Frankensteiner off the top rope, converted into an armbar on the mat. Osperay gets the ropes. KUSHIDA keeps wrenching the arm and stomps the fuck out of Osperay's head, which makes the Japanese fans boo, for some reason. Osperay starts no-selling KUSHIDA's boots and he hits him with a jumping neckbreaker spinny thing. Osperay goes up top. KUSHIDA tries to armbar him, so Osperay hops down and kicks him in the head. Osperay hits a needlessly convoluted jawjacker off the top rope and follows it up with an inverted 450. But it's only worth a two. Then he misses completely on a spinning leg drop. Osperay locks in a hammerlock on the ground and there's a ridiculous counter exchange and Osperay hits the Lethal Injection coming off the ropes for the victory.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/2

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict? It was an interesting spotfest, but that's about it. This is one of those matches where all the twisty, flippy shit gets confusing as fuck - in fact, there were several spots where I had no idea whose move was supposed to hurt who. You can admire the match for its sheer athleticism/choreography, but I just can't accept it as truly great 'rasslin.

Is there really such a thing as "a bad day at the office" when this is the dress code?

Oct. 9, 2017  
Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL (New Japan King of Pro-Wrestling 2017)

This 'un came about cause EVIL upset Okada during the G1 tourney. Shit, EVIL is such a shameless Undertaker clone. He's brought down to the ring on a throne carried by a bunch of skinny dudes in robes. And of course, he brings his scythe with him. Surprisingly, he gets a pretty big pop from the crowd. Huh - I had no idea Okada was the longest reigning IWGP champion in history. Time flies, don't it? LOL at Kevin Kelly trying to explain the *metaphorical* context of Okada's "Rainmaker" entrance. It takes the ring crew two whole minutes to sweep the Monopoly money out of the ring. Well, talk about a mood killer. Gedo (or is it Jado, I get those two fuckers confused) is in Okada's corner. Kelly talks about the two wrestlers' records in the 2017 PWI rankings. Cyrus questions Kelly's research and asks him if he knows who's in Archie's comics these days. Evil with a side headlock to begin and a shoulder block. Fuck, 90 percent of this nigga's offense is nothing BUT shoulder blocks. We get a great Rainmaker-STO counter-reversal spot leading to a standstill. Okada with a slingshot senton, then a standard senton. Just a two. I envy the Japanese viewers - they get both BUSHI AND MILANO COLLECTION A.T. doing announcing duties. Okada makes Evil eat guardrail, then the Rainmaker crashes and burns on the follow-up body splash. Evil grabs a chair, wraps it around Okada's head and slams him face first into the turnpost. Then he wraps another chair around his neck and fuckin' NAILS him with a home run shot with yet another chair. Back in the ring and Evil hits a neckbreaker. Two-count only. Evil with a brutal body chop and a senton. Another two-count. Evil keeps wrenching the neck. Well, you can't say he doesn't adhere to strict in-ring psychology, can you? Okada finally takes Evil off his feet with a running elbow smash. What the fuck, they call the "kip up" the "Nip up?" Isn't "nip" a racial slur or something? Anyhoo, Okada kicks EVIL off the top rope. Then Okada kicks that motherfucker over the guardrail and takes out the first three or four rows of chairs on the follow-up dive. He hit his knee on the way over, though, but it was still kinda' cool because he ducked in mid-flight to avoid a tossed chair from EVIL. EVIL goes for Darkness Falls on the chairs, but Okada worms his way out so EVIL just Yakuza kicks him over the guardrail. Evil with a tilt-a-whirl side slam back in the ring. Just a two. Okada lands that swing-around neckbreaker thingy on his knee. EVIL with a GHASTLY release German suplex. And Okada lands RIGHT on top of his fuckin' head. EVIL goes for a fisherman's brainbuster off the top, but Okada tosses him off. Okada misses the top rope missile dropkick, and Evil sinks in a neck wrench submission. Okada finally gets a rope break. Now it's time to exchange standing forearms. Okada lands a dropkick and goes up top again. And he sticks the elbow drop. ~RAINMAKER CAMERA PAN OUT TIME!~ And oh shit, Okada just wiped out the ref. EVIL fisherman 'busters Okada *onto* the ringpost. Then he goes outside and throws several chairs in the ring. He goes for Darkness Falls, but Okada reverses it into a Frankensteiner on the pile of metal furniture. Okada with a Tombstone. And Evil counters the Rainmaker into Darkness Falls! Alas, there's no ref to make the count. Both men are on their knees exchanging winded forearm shots. The ref has been revived. Time for another standing exchange. Okada drops him with a series of European uppercuts. The fans boo like shit while Okada kicks EVIL's carcass. OK, that's an idiosyncratically Japanese reaction right there. It looks like the ref is mulling an early stoppage when EVIL hits Okada with a dragon suplex and a HARSH lariat-o. And EVIL lands a SUPER fisherman brain buster. Okada, of course, kicks out. Evil makes the old Chris Benoit throat slit gesture on Okada's own neck and then Okada GERMANS the FUCK out of him. Evil lands an inverted DDT/brainbuster variation but it's only worth a two. OK, you HAVE to see Gedo freaking the fuck out ringside. It's hilarious. EVIL goes for the STO and Okada LANDS THE RAINMAKER. And there's Rainmaker No. 2. But Okada isn't going for the pin just yet. We get a great Rainmaker-STO counter/reversal spot and Okada FINALLY hits a spinning Tombstone/Rainmaker clothesline combo to secure the victory.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: **** 1/4 

The Verdict? Now that was a fuckin' AWESOME heavyweight main event. It totally suckered you into believing EVIL was going to secure the upset and that Jado and Gedo has lost their goddamned minds, and then you have that FANTASTIC final stretch where Okada has to keep spamming the Rainmaker and EVIL keeps hanging in there, all the way up to one of the better "I'm gonna reverse you / no, I'm gonna reverse YOU, motherfucker" concluding sequences you'll see this year. If you want to see why everybody is heralding Okada as the Ric Flair of this generation, this is exhibit A right here.

Oct. 21, 2017
Jun Akiyama and Takao Omari vs. Daisuke Sekimoto and Ryuji Ito (All Japan, Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori Debut 25th Anniversary Show)

This was such a great nostalgia card. The match before it was Tajiri vs. Ultimo Dragon, and there was even this great pre-match ceremony where Kawada and Kobashi came out to congratulate Akiyama and Omori for destroying their bodies for a quarter century. Daisuke and Ryuji come out first, and Ito's got a stack of light tubes duck taped together with him. FUUUCK do Omori and Akiyama look old as shit. Jun is fucking bald and he looks like a skinny Abdullah Kobayashi now. And Omori literally looks like Japanese Sylvester Stallone in CreedEVERYBODY gets streamers in the pre-bout intros. Talk about old school - the ref pats 'em down for illegal contraband ahead of the first lock-up. It's Omori and Sekimoto to begin. Seki allows Omori a clean break. Omori with a standing headlock and then they do a test of strength and both of them make real ugly faces at one another. Omori shoulder shunts Seki and Ito gets the tag. Holy hell, Ito's chest looks like it's been used as a part time Subway cutting board for the last ten years. Jun gets tagged in. Jun works an armbar early. He gets a single leg takedown and starts stretching Ito's calves. Seki is tagged in and he immediately headlocks THE FUCK out of Jun and it is great. Akiyama lands a back suplex and tries for an armbar. For whatever reason, Omori hops in the ring and starts stompin' on Seki, who makes 'em eat a double clothesline on the rebound. Ito with a plancha to the outside on Omori, while Seki and Jun karate chop each other's assholes off on the other side of the ring. Akiyama gets tossed back first into the guardrail, while Ito suplexes Omori on the hardwood paneling near the entrance. We've got Ito and Jun in the ring. Ito body slams him and hits an elbow off the ropes. Just a two. Headlock time. Seki is tagged in and he punches Jun in the stomach over and over again in the corner. Seki gets tagged and he keeps working Jun's breadbasket. Seki's back in and he clubs Akiyama like a baby seal. Shit, that nigga has some MEAN looking punches. Seki with a single leg crab locked in. Jun makes it to the ropes. Akiyama counters a suplex attempt and Omori gets the hot tag. He spin wheel kicks Seki and then he botches a flying neckbreaker like you would not believe. FUCK I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW HARD SEKI HITS PEOPLE IN A MAKE-BELIEVE SPORT. Seki clothelines Omori out of his boots and tags in Ito, who has the world's slowest kicks. But at least his body splashes look nice. Ito goes up top. He sticks the moonsault. Just a two. Ito misses by a mile on a shining wizard variation. He goes up top again, but Omori gets his knees up on the frog splash. Omori lands the Axe Guillotine Driver, but Ito's head doesn't get anywhere CLOSE to touching the mat. Jun and Seki both get tagged in. Akiyama with a running knee to the face for a two-count. Akiyama goes for a guillotine, but Ito dropkicks him in the face. Seki with a Manhattan Drop and a torture rack. Omori comes in AND SEKI THROWS HIS OWN TAG TEAM PARTNER AT HIM AS A PROJECTILE. And then he KILLS Akiyama dead with a lariat. SEKIMOTO RULES THIS FUCKIN' WORLD. Seki goes for a German and Omori comes in and levels him with a clothesline. Jun hits another running knee to the face and there's the EXPLODER ... which gets NO reaction from the crowd. Akiyama knees Seki in the chest and Seki hits ANOTHER brutal lariat. Akiyama levels him with a clothesline of his own and Jun hits the Exploder again. No dice. Akiyama takes off his kneepad and hits Seki in the chest. Just a two. And there's a THIRD Exploder, and that's what gets 'em the win.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: That was a pretty fun match with a fairly decent final stretch. The botches really took a lot of steam out of it, but man, was it fun watching Sekimoto just fuckin' LAY into people like a maniac. Uh, he DOES know this stuff is supposed to be worked, doesn't he?

Oct. 22, 2017  
AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor (WWE TLC: Table, Ladders and Chairs 2017)

We're getting this match because Bray Wyatt had meningitis or something like that. Of course, both these guys used to be in Bullet Club, but that's New Japan shit we're talkin' about - this is the BIG LEAGUES, BOI. LOL at the announcers trying to find a way to say this substitution match is WAY better than the originally planned match without coming out and directly saying it. Yeah, I know he's called Finn Balor, but I'm always going to call him Prince Devitt, so can it. So, uh, is nobody going to say anything about this white nigga' TECHNICALLY coming to the ring in blackface? Shit, you'd think Booker T at least had some kindy of pithy one-liner about it. Holy shit, Micheal Cole brought up the fact that in New Japan they co-led the Bullet Club. The crowd is already chanting "this is awesome." Tie-up to begin, with a lot of wild bumping around. Balor with a headlock takedown. AJ works an armdrag. Time for a flippy counter-reversal-leading to a dramatic standoff spot. Why are the fans chanting "Bruce Lee?" Seriously, I don't watch the product regularly, so I'm fuckin' clueless. Balor looking for a surfboard. He's got it. AJ gets the ropes. Styles with chops and a sunset flip, Balor counters with a missile dropkick to the sternum. Then AJ makes him eat elbow. AJ with a snap suplex and a knee drop. AJ kicks Balor in the corner but it looks fruity as shit. AJ with a slingshot elbow and another two count. They exchange standing elbow shots. AJ hits an back brain kick straight out of Pro Wrestling on the NES. Chops exchange. Balor with a kick upside AJ's head that sends him flying off the top rope. And there's the requisite (but kinda' pointless) suicide dive to the outside. AJ lands that fireman's suplex neckbreaker thingy and goes for the Styles Clash, but Balor counters, so AJ hits him with that one-legged face first flapjack thingy. Just a two. Balor with a double stomp to the chest. AJ counters to the calf crusher. He does this awesome thing where he rolls Balor 360 degrees to keep him in it and then Balor starts SLAMMING THE SHIT out of Styles' head to get out of it. Balor tosses Styles to the outside on an aborted Phenomenal Forearm. Balor with a running soccer kick on the apron and a dropkick that drives Styles, rather realistically, 5 feet back into the ringisde barrier. Styles drives Balor over the Spanish announce table, but it don't break. Holy shit, when did the WWE audience turn into the TNA audience from 2005? Both men back in the ring. A double body block sends both men down. Balor's up first and elbows Styles in the face. Now Styles is gaining some steam. Then Balor hits Styles with the PELE KICK, but he kinda' misses but the audience is so into it they don't even bother yelling "you fucked up." Balor with the 1916 - which is basically just reverse suplex. Cool looking, I guess, but hardly logical from a "psychology" standpoint. Balor goes up and yep, AJ hits the Pele. Styles with a flying Frankensteiner off the top rope. Styles misses the 450 and Balor lariats the fuck out of him and shotgun dropkicks that nigga into the turnbuckle. And there's Balor with the double stomp off the top rope for the 1, 2, 3.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/4

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict? A good extended TV match, but that's about it. This felt more like a Clash of the Champions match than a PPV co-headliner, and while there were some really good moments, I don't feel as if everything came together to give us anything transcendent or noteworthy. These guys definitely have a truly great match in 'em, though - here's hoping we see it much sooner rather than later.

Oct. 25, 2017
17th Annual CWF Rumble (CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 128)

I heard a lot of good things about this over at ProWrestlingOnly, and since I didn't have anything better to do during the Raiders' bye week, why the hell not squander an hour watching sleazy indie tomfoolery? The ring girl is CL Party, this chunky girl with big fat tit-tays and red lipstick all over her teeth. Defending CWF champ Trevor Lee is the first man in the ring. He looks like that guy in your PSYCH 101 course who never showered. Hell, he MIGHT actually be the guy in your Psych 101 course who never showered, actually. The number two entrant is Ric Converse - this bald dude who looks like somebody put Justin Credible and Chris Daniels in the telepod from The Fly at the same time and hit the "send" button 15 times in a row. Shit, this company is so ghetto one of their cameraman has to use a Sony handheld recorder from 1999. Both men feign elimination psych-outs early and they both punch like absolute dog shit. BTW, we're doing new entrants every minute. No. 3 is Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham, who comes out to "Baba O'Reilly" while riding a Segway scooter. He LITERALLY looks like he has autism. He gives his opponents pamphlets and he gets tossed over the top rope and lands right back on the Segway. So technically, his feet never touched the floor so he isn't OFFICIALLY eliminated. No. 4 is "The Prince of Broadway" Frankie Flynn. I'm pretty sure his day job is at Sonic. That autistic scooter dude is back in the ring. And he lands on the scooter AGAIN. That is, until Trevor kicks his fucking face off on the mat and he falls off his hoverboard. Flynn is quickly eliminated and it's back to Coverse and Trevor. The next entrant is Bellamy Koga, who is the most generic black wrestler you've ever seen in your life ever. Holy shit, that guy has the WORST Muay Thai kicks I've ever seen. And his slaps are a new LEVEL of terrible. Thankfully, Trevor kicks his FUCKING head off and then he and Converse take turns slapping the dookie out of his chest before eliminating him. Here comes Otto Schwanz - yet another bald generic dude in a tank top. And apparently, the only move he has is a bear hug. Next entrant? Donnie Dollars. He looks like Tommy Dreamer, if Tommy Dreamer weighed 350 pounds of pure flubber. Entrant No. 8 is "Handsome" Mitch Connor. Surprise! He's fat as fuck, too, and he makes a b-line for Dollars, probably because he ate the last doughnut in the break room. Entrant No. 9 is Eddy Only. He looks like anorexic Charles Manson and he doesn't even get entrance music. He's literally a foot smaller than everybody else in the ring, too. Entrant No. 10 is Keith Mac, who I think is supposed to be the long lost New Day member. Dollars is eliminated and so is Mitch. There goes Eddy Only. Entrant No. 11 is Eric Andrews. He eliminates Converse, then some other homo in a ball cap enters the ring and beats up on Trevor Lee. That other black guy just got eliminated, just so you know. LOL, Andrews looks like he's in Kings of Leon or something. Entrant No. 12 is Nick Richards. He eliminates Otto, then Andrews and that bald cap guy Pearl Harbors him. Andrews gets eliminated. Entrant No. 13 is Mecha Mercenary, this ENORMOUSLY FAT dude with a beard wearing a generic luchador mask. He literally looks like something out of Saturday Night Slam Masters. Entrant No. 14 is Mike Mars. Imagine the most generic indie wrestler you could ever possibly envision and yep, that's what he looks like. Mecha Mercenary gets eliminated. Entrant No. 15 is The Kamikaze Kid - basically, Delirious, except not actually Delirious. He fireman carry suplexes Nick out of the contest. Entrant No. 16 is Kool Jay, who is apparently 4'11. Mars is the only man left standing. Entrant No. 17 is Ray Kandrack. Surprise, he's fat! He and Mars immediately get into it, and Mars is eliminated. LOL, then he picks up Kool Jay in his arms like a baby and launches his ass under-handed out of the ring. Entrant No. 18 is Dave Dawson (the world's greatest Kerry King impersonator.) Ray's eliminated. No. 19 is Snooty Fox, who might actually be Monty Brown under a new, FBI-approved surname. Kamikaze and that other fat dude is eliminated, leaving it between Trevor and Snooty. No. 20 is Ethan Alexander Sharpe, who IS Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite wearing a Flash costume. Entrant No. 21 is Brad Attitude. He takes out Snooty Fox and then he gets into a hockey fight with Trevor. Hey Brad, that is a CLASSY faux leather Motorhead singlet you've got there. No. 22 is Chet Sterling. The fans chant his name, but yep, it sounds like they're all screaming "shit! shit!" over and over again. No. 23 is Michael McAllister, and he's every guest star on To Catch a Predator ever. But he does have a pretty decent looking STO, though. No. 24 is Cain Justice. He reminds me of Kid Kash, only he's AUTHENTICALLY trashy. McAllister is eliminated. No. 25 is Mikael Yamaha. Shit, how many old ass bald dudes does this company have on its roster? No. 26 is TV Champion Jesse Adler. He's like Matt Hardy, only way less telegenic. No. 27 is Aaron Biggs. And true to his name, he is one fat African-American fella. No. 28 is Mace Li. He's Asian, and also very confused looking. Come to think of it, why DO Asian people look like they're lost most of the time, anyway? No. 29 is Arik Royal. And because he's black, he immediately goes after the only other black dude in the ring. Everybody gangs up on Biggs and dump him over the top rope. And our 30th and final participant is Roy Wilkins. His manager is a dude in a Dodgers uniform, and he gives him a pair of brass knux before he enters the ring. He's immediately eliminated. Then Sharpe is eliminated. Trevor gets "busted open" by the knux and just slumps over half dead in the corner. Adler starts spin kicking EVERYBODY but that dude in the Dodgers uniform pulls the rope down while he's running so he gets eliminated. Mace Li gets eliminated. Now Royal's eliminated. We're down to our final four. Sterling (whose pants read "I'm Different") eliminates Attitude. Then Brad pulls him out of the ring and power bombs his ass against the ring apron multiple times while really fat people with Sony camcorders look nervous in the crowd. Justice dumps Sterling, so that makes it between Cain and Trevor. Trevor punches and stomps that motherfucker into oblivion, then Cain stomps him back and bites his foe's bloody forehead. Trevor with some chops and hard kicks to the midsection on the ring apron. Cain clips his knee and runs him headlong into the turnbuckle post. Trevor locks in an STF, then he starts European uppercutting the shit out of that white nigga. LOL at the announcer comparing Trevor to an abusive father - that's EXACTLY the first mental image you want to come to mind when people think of your promotional champion. Both of these dudes are so gassed, they might as well be Auschwitz victims. Justice does an AWESOME arm triangle off the top rope. Both men are back to their feet. Cain refuses to shake Trevor's hand so Lee just slaps da fuq out of him for his rudeness. Cain has a rear naked choke locked in. Justice kicks Lee right in the fuckin' face while he's running on the apron, but he doesn't fall off. Trevor catches Cain's leg and punches him in the balls. Lee hits a double stomp and THAT is what finally sends Cain flying to the floor below.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 1/4

The Verdict? A pretty fun little Rumble, with all of the usual pluses and negatives. I wasn't really buying the comedy segments, and I can't really say the announcers did a good job making me give a shit who Brad Attitude and Keith Mac are. That said, the one-on-one stuff between Lee and Justice was pretty solid. I'd love to see what these two scummy indie motherfuckers can do in a full-fledged, good-old-fashioned, paint the bingo hall with Hepatitis B death match - something tells me it'd probably be downright beautiful.

NOVEMBER 2017 MATCHES

Nov. 05, 2017  
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (New Japan Power Struggle 2017)

Before the match there's a hype video showing Tanahashi in a record store and Ibushi walking around a park in a hoody. These two motherfuckers had a great match during the G1 tourney, and considering they have more time to work with here it *should* be even better tonight. Holy shit, you have to see Ibushi riding one of those little plastic horsies on the playground in slow-motion. WTF thought that could EVER look cool in a million years? Tanahashi is clearly the crowd favorite. What *did* Ibushi do to piss of the Japanese casuals, anyway? Collar and elbow tie-up to begin. We get a bajillion reversals on the ground and there's a standing stalemate. Time for another extended arm-lock reversal sequence. Man, Tanahashi's hair is pretty much a do you'd expect some Southern bitch to have in the year 2006. Tanahashi with a cheap shot to the breadbasket on an (until that point, anyway) clean rope break. Tanahashi's got Ibushi in a headlock and Ibushi keeps kipping up after shoulder blocks. Ibushi lands a dropkick - his first real offensive manuever of the match - and Hiroshi dropkicks his ankles while he mulls taking a plancha. Tanahashi works the leg with all sorts of hurty, quasi-shooty submissions. Ibushi hobbles to the outside and Hiroshi continues to punish Ibushi's ankles. He throws him back in the ring and Ibushi immediately rolls right back out. Tanahashi catches him in the ring and yep, it's time for more leg punishment. Ibushi tries to showboat on a standing moonsault and (kayfabe) fucks his leg up even more. Good job, you Dylann Roof-haircut having motherfucker. Now they're exchanging forearm shots and eventually Ibushi is afforded the opportunity to double stomp Tanahashi's sternum. NOW he lands the standing shooting star press, but it's only good for a two-count. Hiroshi rolls to the outside following a Frankensteiner and Ibushi wipes him out with a top rope moonsault. We get a great spot where Hiroshi grabs Ibushi's leg between the ropes and dragon screw whips him like a motherfucker. That's probably the first time I've ever seen that move look non-shitty for a change. Tanahashi locks in a Texas Cloverleaf variation. Ibushi gets the rope break. Ibushi racks Hiroshi on the top rope and running knees THE FUCK out of his breadbasket. And Tanahashi quickly ripostes with ANOTHER leg whips on the ropes. Way to spam, asshole. Then he climbs the top rope and frog splashes Ibushi on the outside. That's some pretty impressive air time, actually. We're back in the ring. Hiroshi hits a spinning neckbreaker, but it's only worth a two. He goes up top again and Ibushi hits him with a flipping wheel kick. Oh hell, did Ibushi botch that top rope Frankensteiner BADLY. Obviously, that one only nets him a two. Ibushi knees Hiroshi in the head while Tanahashi goes for another leg whip - OK, that was pretty cool. And then Ibushi throws Tanahashi into the turnbuckle like a fucking lawn dart and we all laugh a plenty. And THERE's the second-rope assisted German. Just a two, though. Ibushi goes up top and misses the 450. Then Hiroshi goes up top and misses the frog splash. Both men get back to their feet and Hiroshi slaps the DNA out out of Ibushi's mouth and then he palm strikes Tanahashi back fuckin' HARD. Now we have a full on slap fight, concluding with Ibushi punting Tanahashi into the corner and stomping the holy hell out of him. Of course, Tanahashi gets his second wind and starts slapping Kota senseless then Ibushi hits him with a clothesline out of fuckin' nowhere. Ibushi follows suit with a MANLY sitout powerbomb. Just a two. Hiroshi fires back with a series of spinning neckbreakers, but Ibushi IMMEDIATELY enziguris his ass when he recovers. Hiroshi hits the Sling Blade and a bridging dragon suplex. Only worth a two. He goes up again and frog splashes Kota TWICE and there's our three count.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 3/4

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict? I liked their G1 bout from earlier this year a whole lot more. This bout pretty much felt like a watered down re-do of that one; it's not a bad match by any stretch, but it's nonetheless a tad too formulaic and familiar feeling for my liking. Still, you really can't go wrong with Hiroshi and Kota going at it full tilt for almost half an hour - and as this match certainly demonstrates, even when they're off their mark, they're still able to put on a better match than 75 percent of the stuff you'll see out there these days. 

Nov. 05, 2017
Kenny Omega vs. Beretta (New Japan Power Struggle 2017)

Beretta is an even skinnier CM Punk with ring gear that looks like it was stolen from a WCW luchador circa 1996. We get your standard tie-up to begin. Am I the only person who thinks Omega looks like DDP's illegitimate love child? He even sounds like him, for crying out loud. We get your counter-reversal-counter tomfoolery and Beretta hits Omega with a plancha. Kenny reaches under the ring and pulls out one of those hilariously skinny tables and suplexes Beretta on the unopened furniture. Then he runs across the ring and stomps the table THROUGH Beretta. Never seen that one before. Even better, the fans start chanting "hory shit" and then Omega shoves his face through the giant perforation in the table like he was Jack Nicholson in The Shining. OK, that was FANTASTIC. Omega goes back in the ring and does The Terminator theme drum beat and hits Beretta with a beautiful swanton to the outside. Back in the ring Omega stomps the hell out of his foe and clubs him in the back with elbow shots. He even does that old school leap frog thing where he jumps balls first on Beretta's back. Omega with a moonsault, but Beretta gets his knees up. Beretta hits a tornado DDT and starts karate chopping Omega's back. Omega back body drops him off the ring apron and hits him with that brainbuster-into-a-knee-to-the-back-of-the-skull neckbreaker thing. Beretta goes for a powerbomb, but Omega grabs his legs and drops him face first on the turn post. He follows suit with a THICC piledriver, but Beretta kicks out. Omega goes up top and Beretta Germans him off the turnpost, then he eventually pegs Omega with an old school piledriver of his own. But it's only worth a two-count, of course. Beretta lands another piledriver - this one, on the edge of the ring mat. Beretta goes for a swanton and LOLOOPS, he winds up crashing through the same table Omega stomped him through earlier in the match. Beretta re-enters the ring right at the 19 count. Omega hits several snap dragon suplexes, then he gutwrench powerbombs that motherfucker right out of his boots. And there's the V-Trigger. Omega goes for the One Winged Angel but has to convert it into a snap dragon suplex, and on the rebound Beretta lariats da fuq outta' him. Then he hits Omega with his reverse package piledriver finisher - which Omega, of course, kicks out of. Both men back to their feet and now it's time to exchange forearms, elbows and chops. Omega lands his reverse Frankensteiner and, after a few feigned reversals, hits the OWA for the 1,2,3.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/2

My Rating: *** 1/2 

The Verdict? This isn't one of Omega's better bouts from the year, but it's still really solid stuff. There's nothing here we haven't seen before, but the pacing is good and Beretta is given enough offense to at least get you thinking that an upset is possible. And fuck, did I LOVE that Shining spot with the broken table - indeed, just typing about it now brings a big, dumb smile to my face.

Nov. 11, 2017
KENOH vs. Masato Tanaka (NOAH Global League War 2017)

Holy shit, Masato Tanaka is STILL wrestling. The same motherfucker that was getting walloped over the head with steel chairs and powerbombed through tables by Mike Awesome almost 20 years ago is not only ALIVE, but he's doing the same body-destroying type of more refined garbage match that he was doing back in the mid-to-late 1990s. This man deserves a federal holiday. Anyhoo, his opponent is some guy named KENOH, who has a blonde coif that kinda looks like a skunk is taking a nap on his head. These two motherfuckers waste no time at all before elbowing and kicking each right in the head and it's just dandy. They even do a little RVD/Lynn counter-counter-reversal spot, which is pretty impressive considering Tanaka is at least 80 years old by now. And yep - he's STILL wearing those booty shorts. Fuck, KENOH kicks the way Sekimoto chops. Man, NOAH has fallen on hard times - they used to run 60,000 person stadiums and now they've been reduced to wrestling in half empty gymnasiums. We get some outside scuffling and Tanaka goes for a table. LOL, I always get a chuckle at how small those things are compared to their American counterparts. Awesome goes up top and he body splashes KENOH through the table. Then he picks up a piece of the broken table and smacks KENOH over the ass with it and he sells it like a gunshot wound. Back in the ring and Tanaka is kicking him around the ring like a soccer ball. Time for a hellacious elbow exchange. Masato with a side Russian leg sweep, even though he's Japanese. Now they're slapping each other like junior high school girls. KENOH even has one hand behind his back. Now KENOH is kicking the hell out of him again. He lands a nice dropkick off the ropes on to the small of Masato's back, then he goes for an ankle lock. Tanaka safely gets to the ropes. Tanaka lands a DDT, which the announcer enthusiastically announces in English. Masato hits a pretty decent clothesline and goes up top for a frog splash but KENOH gets his knees up and hooks in the ankle lock again. There's this great spot where he yanks Masato up by his leg and kicks him RIGHT in the fucking sternum. Then he hits a snap dragon suplex - then another one - but the auditorium is so quiet you can literally hear people opening and closing the doors. Tanaka hits a superplex and goes up top for yet another bodysplash, but KENOH kicks out at one and hits that motherfucker with an enziguri. Time for yet another exchanging of forearm smashes. But right before Masato can land the Roaring Elbow, KENOH slaps him like a bitch. Then he hits a lariat, but KENOH kicks out again. KENOH kicks Masato while he's seated a couple of times and climbs the top rope. He lands a double stomp and Tanaka kicks out at two. Masato pops him in the face with an elbow, but KENOH kicks out, then he fucking OBLITERATES Masato with a Cro-Cop-caliber head kick then he double stomps Masato TWICE off the top rope - once on his back, and then on his abdomen. Yeah - Tanaka ain't kicking out of that one.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: Eh, this one had its ups and downs. If the intent was to make KENOH come off as some sort of generation-defining talent, it failed - indeed, Masato Tanaka's old ass looked WAY more impressive and charismatic in defeat than KENOH did in victory. It's good nostalgia bait, I suppose, but on the whole it's only a slightly better than average affair.

Nov. 18, 2017
Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream (WWE NXT TakeOver War Games 2017)

Velveteen Dream is basically Sho Nuff from The Last Dragon while Black looks like a roadie for Godsmack circa 2000. Black with arm drags early. I am digging Dream's airbrushed, Rick Rude-inspired britches. Nigel McGuinness says Black has the same trainer as Stefan Struve. Fuck, there's a name I haven't heard in a while. We get some decent worked shoot-grappling to begin - something you don't normally see a whole lot of in the 'E these days. Black's modified octopus hold off the ropes is fucking AWESOME. Damn, Black has some great armlocks. Black dumps Dream over the top rope and he does a monkey flip and sits Indian style in the middle of the ring and just looks at Dream while he shakes his big black cock at him. Now they're both sitting Indian style in the middle of the ring. Then Black gets in his face and hits an Oklahoma roll. Now Dream is stomping Black like bag of flaming doo doo. By the way, I *think* they're feuding because Black refuses to say his name. Yep - that's the sole reason. Dream lands a SWEET super kick, but Black kicks out at two. Holy shit, Dream even uses the Rude Awakening as a sub-finisher. He puts Black in the Camel Clutch and keeps asking Black what his name is. Dream ties Black up in the ropes. Black kicks him in the face and escapes. Black with a great moonsault off the ropes, but it only counts as a two. Dream hits the Death Valley Driver, but Black kicks out. Black kicks Dream off the top rope after an aborted super Death Valley Driver. Then he knees Dream in the face fuckin' hard, but Dream retaliates with this dope looking twisty neckbreaker-DDT thing. Of course, Black kicks out. Dream goes up top and goes for the "Purple Rainmaker," gets kicked in the face and winds up tied up in the ropes. Black boots him in the face, then Dream super kicks him and then Black hits him with ANOTHER knee. Black lands the "Black Mass" (i.e., just kicking a motherfucker in the face) and THAT is what gets him the three count. And in the post-match shenanigans, Aleister finally calls Dream by his name - cue relevant sound effect.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: This was really, really fun stuff. Both guys looked legit and Velveteen almost went full-face turn with all of his great desperation spots. And this match went a long way in convincing the masses that Black isn't just a substitute Undertaker - I, for one, would love to see this guys go at it again, and soon.

The WWE's interpretive dance tribute to the Jonestown Massacre was surprisingly touching.

  Nov. 18, 2017
SanitY vs. The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong vs. Undisputed Era (WWE NXT TakeOver War Games 2017)

With the exception of Eric Young and Roderick Strong, I have no idea who any of these people are. Fuck, Eric Young looks really different with the beard and the faux-hawk. So there's no roof on the cage, and everybody has to wait in shark cages outside the ring. Adam Cole wil be starting off for Undisputed Era. Wasn't he in ROH or something? The Authors of Pain come out wearing green cheesecloth over their heads, and their manager is Paul Ellering. I think their names are Akam and Rezar, but they probably spell it all gay-like because that's usually what the WWE does. Roderick Strong enters the fray for his team. The match "beyond" doesn't begin until all nine men are in the ring. So it's not quite following the old school War Games rule set. LOL, Strong is dressed like a Bushwhacker and he doesn't even realize it. Also, LOL at Mauro describing an exchange as "Frye/Takayama" like. And yes, before you ask, there are two rings glued together, with this metal grate adjoining them. Cole with an Okada neckbreaker on Young. Well, Cole is whipping everybody's ass with neckbreakers and Strong finally takes him off his feet with a clothesline. Time for chops and running knees en masse. Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly enter the ring and kick the fuck out of Strong and Young. LOL at everybody hitting Young with running elbow smashes. So, just to clarify things, the entire TEAM comes out during the intermissions, not one team member at a time like the old War Games. Strong eats a wheelbarrow suplex and Young gets da fuq kicked out of his sternum. I like how these guys are putting people in between the cage and the ropes and just waffling 'em over and over again. Now the Authors of Pain get released from the shark cage. Uh, which one is Rezar and which one is Akam? Well, I don't care - I'm just going to call them "Overweight Black Bushwhackers" and if you don't like it, tough shit. LOL at Young getting backflipped over the ropes of one ring into the other one. Then they launch Strong into a pile of literally everybody else in the match and it's great. And the "match beyond" officially begins with Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain enering the fray. Oh shit, Wolfe has a police baton. So, uh, what are they supposed to be, exactly? IRA rebels? And why does the other one have an MS Paint DDR pad on the back of his jacket? Anyhoo, it doesn't matter, 'cause now the plunder IS FLYIN'. We've got chairs, we've got trash cans, we've got metal chains and it is ABSOLUTE BEDLAM. And here comes the tables. Fuck, is it weird hearing Mauro call this shit just months after calling McGregor/Mayweather. Hey, I just realized something: the Authors of Pain both kinda' look like Savio Vega. Fuck, the Killian dude has the hairiest back ever. He goes up top and wipes out the entire ring with a flying crossbody. Cole grabs a Kendo stick but Dain slaps out outta' his hands. Fish spin kicks him a couple of times and then Dain does a Michinoku Driver ON TOP of Strong. Then Dain grabs two niggas and hits them with a fallaway slam and Samoan drop simultaneously. Now Dain and one of the Pain Authors are scuffling. Dain takes him out with a fat crossbody, then Akam hits Dain with a BOSS powerslam. O'Reilly with a tornado DDT on - somebody. Shit, this is fun. Now everybody is getting kicked in the head by everybody else and it is OUTSTANDING. Now O'Reilly has a chain and he's choking Wolfe with it. This HAS to be the most violent thing the WWE has done since Chris Beoit killed his whole family. Young hits an elbow drop during O'Reilly's submission attempt and then Fish hits a moonsault on Young to break up the pin attempt. EVERYBODY is down. LOL at Mauro saying War Games changes people's DNA. The Authors of Pain hit double powerbombs, but Young breaks up the count. Dain's juicing a little. Young hits Rezar with a Death Valley Driver. It's only a two. Strong with a fucking ACE back breaker where he turns a fireman's carry into a lungblower. And he Olympic Slams Dain. The pin is broken up by Cole, though. Now Young, Strong and Cole are scuffling in between the two rings. Now EVERYBODY is climbing after him and we've got STEREO TOWER OF DOOM CLUSTER FUCK BOMBS (or, as we call it around my place, "the 9/11.") And the Authors grab TWO more tables. Is it just me, or do all British people sound like the Geico gecko? WOLFE GERMAN SUPLEXES AKAM THROUGH A TABLE OFF THE TOP ROPE. Fuck! Dain drops O'Reilly with a clothesline. Cole's STILL slithering on his belly atop the cage. Dain puts a garbage can in front of O'Reilly's face and he lands a VAN TERMINATOR. Strong climbs up top after Cole. Oh shit, he's going for a superplex off the top of the cage. "Please don't die" chants pipe up. And Strong lands it, wiping out the ENTIRE ring in the process. Woo boy, this is easily the best WWE match of the year thus far. The ring is Jonestown at this point. Dain and Akam are slugging it out. Rezar hits Dain with a flying clothesline. O'Reilly puts Rezar in a sleeperhold while Fish punches him in the face. Eric Young hits a flying neckbreaker, then Cole and Strong get into it again. Cole cracks Young with a kendo stick, then Cole dropkicks a chair in his face and THAT's what scores him the three count.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/2

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: Literally the only bad thing about this match was the kinda' abrupt (and moderately underwhelming) ending. Everything before that, however, was just outstanding, and this is easily the best War Games-like match I've seen since the ROH/CZW Cage of Death spectacle from 2006. Everybody in the match looked good, everybody got to deliver their best spots and everybody had enough time to get all their shit in. This thing was a blast from start to finish and some of the most entertaining TV the WWE's put together in a long time - you need to see this fucking match, and probably twice in the same day.

Nov. 19, 2017
Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles (WWE Survivor Series 2017)

Holy shit, do I love how Brock is booked like an absolute killing machine. There's this great moment where Brock shows off his belt, then AJ shows off his to the crowd in riposte. Lesnar kicks Styles and gores the fuck out of him in the corner. He rag dolls AJ around and feeds him some SATANIC knees. Booker T on Brock - "He don't want no water, he don't want no bread, all he wants is meat." Lesnar drags Styles by his hair and belly to back suplexes Styles a good 10 feet across the ring. Are the fans chanting "UFC?" I can't tell. Lesnar chucks AJ out of the ring and he hasn't even broken a sweat yet. He rolls to the outside and swings Styles face first into the German announce table. LOL at Paul Heyman fondling the Universal title like Dr Evil stroking Mr. Bigglesworth on the outside. There's release German No. 3. And there's Brock with a SICK running knee to the face in the corner. Man, Booker T is pretty awesome on commentary. Brock catches AJ's leg and clubs him over the head like a retarded caveman and it's HILARIOUS. Brock goes for the F5, but AJ snakes his way out. Brock hits the ringpost with his knee, AJ dropkicks his ankle and DDTs that honky nigga. Styles with some GREAT looking, MMA-style leg kicks. AJ goes for a moonsault, but Brock catches him. Then AJ botches a tornado DDT. AJ lands the Pele kick on a downed Lesnar. AJ goes for the Phenomenal Forearm and Brock catches him and hits him with a German in which AJ does A FULL 360 rotation before landing on his face. AJ lands a flying elbow plancha. Styles tosses Brock's knee into the metal steps and he hits Brock with another flying forearm. This is like the PG-13 version of Styles' match against Abyss at Lockdown 2005. Styles with an enzigiru and a moonsault. And he sticks the 450, but it's only worth a two. This is Spider-Man vs. The Hulk in real life and I fuckin' love it. Styles signals for the Styles Clash. Brock reverses it into the F5, and Styles reverses it into the Calf Crusher and the crowd goes fucking nuts. AND BROCK COUNTERS IT BY GRABBING AJ's HEAD AND SLAMMING IT INTO THE MAT LIKE A BASKETBALL. Oh my god, I fucking love everything about this. AJ lands a phenomenal forearm, but Lesnar kicks out. AJ rolls out for another forearm smash. And Lesnar grabs him in midair to land the F5 for the win.

Meltzer's Rating: **** 1/4

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: This was a fantastic match. I'm a sucker for bouts that follow the whole "big dude versus little dude" formula, especially ones where they let the little dude get in way more offense than you'd expect only for the big guy to come roaring back at the end and murder-death-killing the little dude like it was nothing. This match reminded me a lot of that great Too Cold Scoprio/Barry Windham Clash of the Champions match, and in many ways outdoes it at its own game. Brock rules, AJ rules and this match rules the fucking world - give these guys 40 minutes at WrestleMania and it'd be one of the all time greats.

Nov. 21, 2017
Dragon Lee vs. Cavernario (CMLL Guadalajara at Arena Coliseo)

We're introduced to the competitors by the first Mexican I've ever seen named Helen. Dragon Lee looks like the dad of one of the characters from Mucha Lucha and Cavernario is LITERALLY a goddamn caveman. Also, I fucking DIG the Tapatio logo on the middle of the ring. That shit right there has been my favorite hot sauce for a long time. Anyway, we've got some tremendous outside brawling to begin, with Cavernario kicking the fuck out of Dragon's leg while it's trapped in a chair. It's even better because there's this fat middle aged man wearing a gold mask right behind them marking the fuck out. Man, I forgot how much I loved Mexicans sometimes. Back in the ring and Cavernario hits a fat splash off the ropes to win la primera caida. Alright, time to stop the action so we can look at stained glass windows celebrating CMLL's 85th anniversaery. Hey and there's another ring girl with a totally not at all Mexican name - Paty. I guess those are exotic names in Spanish speaking countries, though. Maybe we'll get a Dolores in a bit. Oh, my bad - that's not an ad for Tapatio, the hot sauce, it's an ad for Tapatio, the tequila. Well, I revoke my endorsement from earlier. Anyway, Cavernario is still kicking the ever loving dogshit out of Dragon, but this time Dragon gets his knees up on the splash attempt. Then he hits a plancha between the ropes and Cavernario LITERALLY flies into the fourth row. Thank goodness the first three rows were empty, huh? Now Dragon is kicking Cavernario's legs while they're caught in the plastic chairs. Back in the ring and Dragon picks up the second fall with a la magistral cradle. And here's that stained glass ad again. Now Dragon Lee is sick of Cavernario's bullshit. They're trading slaps and Dragon knees him in the stomach and punts him right in his Neanderthal teeth. Time to plug that tequila company again. Cavernario with a funky clothesline. Then neither one of them does Jack shit for a minute. Then Cavernario does the worm - yes, that worm - and hits Dragon with a cool looking DDT variation. And there's the splash off the ropes again. Dragon kicks out, though. Lee lands a hurancanrana, but Cavernario sells it shittily. Oh well, at least Dragon got plenty of air on the follow-up swanton plancha to the outside. Cavernario slaps he fuck out of Dragon, and Dragon responds by dropkicking him in the corner. More chops. Cavernario hits a flipping DDT off the ropes (OK, that was cool) but it's only worth a two count. Dragon hits a double stomp while Cavernaio is caught in the tree of woe. Just a two. He lands his funky backbreaker/full 360/flapjack suplex thingy and yep, that scores him el tercera caida.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/2

The Verdict: This was a so-so match that was hurt more by CMLL's god-awful editing than anything the two performers did. I actually kinda' dig Cavernario's character, though. I mean, fuck symbolism, why the hell not trot out a guy as a LITERAL Mexican Encino Man luchador?

Nov. 26, 2017
David Starr vs. Nick Gage (Beyond Wrestling Powerbomb.TV PreGame)

LOL, it looks like they're wrestling in a Maddio's Pizza or something. The fanboy announcers waste no time at all before making marky references to ECW and Atsushi Onita. "Hopefully none of these boards are exploding," one of them remarks as barbed wire boards are set up in adjacent ring corners. According to the announcers, Nick Gage just got out of prison. Don't shoot the messenger or anything, but Starr is WAY too handsome to be doing garbage death match 'rasslin for a living. The announcer calls him "the Bernie Sanders of professional wrestling" and "really good at Twitter" - oh my god, hipster assholes have ruined indy wrestling. The referee looks like Christopher Daniels, so I laugh at that, too. Pretty basic stuff to begin - a lot of hip tosses and headlock takedowns. And it takes less than 90 seconds before Gage goes flying through the board. Starr pulls a container of thumb tacks from under the ring. Gage drops him with a SHIT-TASTIC Rock Bottom on the tacks. Then he shoves them in his mouth and kicks him right in the face. OK, that was a pretty neat spot. Gage hits a top rope belly to back suplex and sends Starr crashing through the other barbed wire board. Starr kicks out of the Falcon Arrow. One of the announcers reminds us of that time Gage was declared legally dead for ten seconds after severing an artery at one of the CZW Tournaments of Death. Starr lands a SICK DDT with Gage's head stuck between the second and top rope. And now it's time to have a staple gun duel. "They wouldn't even do this in Jackass," says one of the announcers. Starr German suplexes Gage on to Chekov's steel chair. Starr spends about two minutes cutting the barbed wire from one of the boards. More staple gun fu ensues. Yep - Starr's STILL cutting the barbed wire loose. The announcer wonders why Starr doesn't just stab Gage with the wire cutters. Huh - that's a good point. Starr wraps the barbed wire halo around Gage's neck and Starr puts him in a guillotine choke. He follows suit with a brainbuster on his patella. Starr locks in a crossface with barbed wire and Gage taps. They jaw in the post-fight antics and Starr challenges some other dude to a "fans bring the weapons match."

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **

The Verdict: Guh, that was a mess. I've got nothing against death match 'rasslin, but that was just - well, boring. The spots took FOREVER to set up and there was hardly any logical action in between the high impact weapons spots. And on top of it, the "violence" wasn't all that brutal or inventive; indeed, we've been seeing precisely this kind of junk in scummy flea market promotions for the last 30 years. If you're going to go the whole death match route, you've got to go all out; suffice to say, *this* is basically the pro wrestling equivalent of bland Mexican food. I mean, unless somebody's asshole is going to be bleeding before the night's over, what's the point?

DECEMBER 2017 MATCHES

Dec. 4, 2017
Roman Reigns vs. Jason Jordan (WWE Raw)

We've got a whole bunch of bullshit with Kurt Angle before the match starts, and after ten minutes of Samoa Joe mean mugging everybody on the rampway we FINALLY get the match underway. Of course, Jordan is being passed off as Kurt Angle's bastard mulatto lovechild and Roman Reigns is about as popular with the WWE fans as having to do jumping jacks. So yeah, nobody has any idea who or what to root for in this match, except maybe the ring collapsing. Reigns with an elbow shot early and some stomps in he corner. Samoa Joe is still on the rampway, staring holes in everybody. LOL at Booker T trying to give Kurt Angle advice on fathering. We've got some outside brawling and Reigns keeps tossing Jordan head first into the metal steps. Romans with more uppercuts and he dumps Jordan to the floor with another clothesline over the top rope. Reigns hits the "Drive By," which is  really morbid thing to call a basic running boot to the face. Reigns locks in a sleeper. Jordan gets out and slams Reigns back first into the ringposts several times. Eventually Roman flies to the outside, and that's our cue for a commercial break. We return to the action and Jordan has Reigns in an armbar. He spends about two full minutes torquing it. Reigns fights back with headbutts and a barrage of clotheslines in the corner. He lands a running boot but Jordan kicks out at two. Roman sets up the Superman Punch and Jordan stops him with a dropkick. Reigns with a series of uppercuts to send Jordan reeling to the outside. Reigns goes for a stairs-assisted Superman Punch but Jordan picks him up and slams him into the metal post twice. Yep, it's only good enough for a two-count. Jordan hits a modified belly to back, but that can't get the three either. Commercial break. We're back. Reigns has Jordan locked in a half crab. Jordan counters with a small punch, but Reigns counters that with the Superman Punch although Jordan, surprisingly, kicks out. Reigns goes for the Spear, but Jordan hits him with a jumping knee and lands two consecutive Northern Lights Suplexes, which Reigns, of course, kicks out of. Jordan counters a suplex attempt with a headlock takedown, another Superman Punch and while Jordan's dazed, the Spear for the win.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: I've heard some fanboys on the 'net describe this as a ****+ match. Apparently, there's a lot more IWC fans on crack cocaine than I assumed. This is hardly anything more than a slightly better than average throwaway TV bout. The last two minutes, I suppose, were pretty decent, but beyond that there's absolutely nothing here we haven't seen before - and structured much better.

Dec. 5, 2017
Ryo Saito vs. Shingo Takagi (Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2017 at Korakuen Hall)

Well, even with barely 2,000 people in the house at least Dragon Gate can say they're EASILY outdrawing All Japan these days. Shingo makes a b-line for Ryo early, slamming his head into a chair and the metal ring post before making him taste the timekeeper's table. Then Shingo grabs his foe's belt and starts ripping it apart, adding insult to injury by slapping Ryo in the face with its remnants. They take turns giving each other shoulder shunts and Ryo hits a decent Frankensteiner to send Shingo reeling to the outside. He tosses a chair in the ring and Ryo sits in it and does some hand exercises to the crowd's approval. Hey, I just now noticed the ref is a woman - and a real RILF at that. Ryo wipes his boot on Shingo's face a couple of times and Shingo KILLS HIM DEAD with a clothesline off the ropes. Then he back body drops him on the edge of the mat, and you just KNOW that had to hurt like a motherfucker. Shingo grabs another chair and smacks Ryo over the spine. Then he gets back in the ring and smacks the ref on her left titty. Huh. Ryo finally gets to his feet and starts lobbing some pussy lookin' slaps and Shingo drops him again with a NASTY chop. Shingo hits a suplex and a diving clotheslines, but it's only good for a two-count. Ryo finally starts rattlin' off some offense with a quick belly to belly release 'plex. They take turns jawing to the crowd and then Shingo single-arm release Germans Ryo while he motions for a La Magistral Cradle or something like that. Ryo with another German, then Shingo takes him off his feet with a big fat Lariat. Ryo hits a mini-brain buster then power bombs that motherfucker off the top rope. He lands a double stomp off the top then goes up top in the adjacent corner ... to jump off, bounce off his knees once, and get tripped up by Shingo on the rebound? Anyway, Shingo fires back with a ton of clotheslines and a power bomb, but nothing seems to be able to put Ryo away for good. Despite some outside interference, Ryo is able to hit a Frankensteiner, and after Shingo accidentally clocks his manager (or whoever the fuck that is), Ryo is able to sneak up behind him and hit a German suplex for the victory.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: There were some decent moments, but on the whole this was a very forgettable match. All of the sports-entertainmenty clusterfuck stuff at the end just didn't do it for me, and I never really bought Ryo as a legitimate threat against Shingo. The finish was also pretty lame - you mean Saito could survive getting clotheslined out of his shoes 18 times, but all it takes is one shitty suplex with a pillow-soft landing to put Shingo down for the count?

Dec. 11, 2017
Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro (WWE Raw)

Cesaro (that's Claudio Castagnoli, for all you Johnny-Come-Latelies) looks like a cross between Travis Bickle and an undercooked hot dog. Also, what's the deal with at electrical tape-looking stuff on his shoulder? Man, if you've got to have some sort of wardrobe gimmick, surely you could've done better than a CVS heating patch. Anyhoo, Roman Reigns gets booed like a motherfucker, but apparently the fans are even bored of hating him now and they die down to a light hum after about 30 seconds. I bet that makes Vinny Mac a happy camper. Some dude holds up a sign reading "Roman drinks orange juice after brushing his teeth." Fuck, I hate ironic hipster 'rasslin fans. Oh, almost forgot - this is for the Intercontinental championship. Reigns stomps Cesaro early. He chases him out of the ring, then Cesaro starts stomping him and hitting him with European uppercuts. Reigns gets an offensive putsch with a series of clotheslines and a weird looking body splash. Reigns hammers on Cesaro in the corner and Cesaro wrenches Reigns' arm over the top rope. Reigns kicks Cesaro right in the face HARD and dumps the Swede over the top rope. Time for a commercial break. We return and Cesaro has Roman in a sleeperhold. On the replay we see all the stuff we missed during the timeout, including this one part where Cesaro swung Roman Reigns into the ringside barrier head first. Cesaro with a short-armed clothesline. Just a two. Now he's twisting his fingers back like it was a first grade playground fight. Cesaro applies a modified arm wrench and screams "nobody likes you!" right in Roman's face and it's beautiful. Reigns with a headbutt, a kick to the gut and a la magistral cradle attempt. No dice. Reigns with a backslide. Again, just a two. Then he goes for a schoolboy, which Cesaro reverses into a Fujiwara armbar, all while kicking Roman's head in with his free leg. Reigns tosses Cesaro into the corner twice then hits him with a sidewalk slam - sorta. Reigns with more headbutts. He rolls to the outside and hits a running boot right on Cesaro's shnoz. Yep, just a two-count. "Adrenaline, it's a crazy thing, man," Booket T tells the TV audience. Reigns goes for the Superman punch and Cesaro PUNCHES his face before he can get to him and locks in a crossface. Alas Reigns gets out and hits a Samoan Drop, which, naturally, is only worth a two. Both men taking their sweet time getting to their feet. Cesaro up first, and he hits Roman with a spinning elbow and then he fucking LAWN DARTS Roman into the ringpost. Then Roman boots Cesaro in the face on the outside and uses a stair-assisted Superman punch. But Cesaro kicks out when he's rolled back in the ring for the pin attempt. Reigns goes for the Spear but gets kicked in the stomach, then Cesaro hits his flapjack uppercut and transitions THAT into an armbar. Cesaro hits a sunset flip, goes for the Big Swing, but Reigns clumsily counters THAT into a one-armed sitout powerbomb for just a two. The fans are chanting "this is awesome," because apparently that bar has been lowered until it's damn near touching the Earth's core. Cesaro and Roman fist fight on their knees, Cesaro gets a two count on an inside cradle and lands several more European uppercuts in the corner. He goes for "The Dutch Neutralizer" (don't even ask, I have no idea what it is) and Reigns hits the Spear on a reversal for the 1,2,3.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: This was a solid TV match. Cesaro did a good job carrying Roman, and the psychology employed was a bit better than I expected. Still, Reigns looked very sluggish and awkward at various points in the bout, and the finish was pretty ho-hum. At this point, the E can milk high drama in the closing minutes of EVERY Reigns TV match, seeing as how the company faithful oh-so desperately want him to lose to somebody, anybody. Alas, you folks that are giving this ****+ ratings are out of your damned gourds - unless you were getting a blow job from a hot blonde goth chick while you watched it, there's no way I could envision anyone with two brain cells to rub together considering this MOTY-caliber, in any regard.

Dec. 12, 2017
EVIL and Sanada vs. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (New Japan World Tag League Finals - Day 19)

It's the finals for the whole shebang, pitting the Guerillas of Destiny up against Los Ingoberales de Japon. And fuck, does Tama look like a REALLY poor man's Roman Reigns. Sanada is the Japanese dude with the mohawk, and EVIL is the guy who is one part Undertaker, one part La Parka and, uh, one part Japanese, I guess. Also, he has rainbow hair like Jeff Hardy, but we won't hold that against him. It's Sanada and Tama to begin. Sanada with a waistlock, then it's time for your usual armdraggy counter stuff. Tama with a headlock takedown, a couple of RVD/Lynn-like feints and rolls and everybody cheers for the stalemate. Both men take off their shirts and I get just a *little* boner, but surely it's just a coincidence because I'm not gay or anything like that. Evil gets tagged in and fans get boisterous. Tanga Pearl Harbors him and starts brawling with him down the ramp way. Huh - a Japanese wrestler getting Pearl Harbored. How ironic. "You kn0ckin' on the door, motherfucka!" Tanga tells EVIL. Both members of LIJ are momentarily laid out ringside. Tanga and Tama with a double headbutt on EVIL when they're back in the ring. Tanga with a back body drop. It's only worth a two-count. Tanga slams EVIL into the turnbuckle. Whoa, the initials for Guerillas of Destiny is "GOD." I just now noticed that because "GOD" is written on Tanga's ass and I was all like "what the fuck is THAT about?" Now Tama has EVIL in sleeperhold and keeps calling him a "motherfucka." I wonder if that's bleeped out on the native Japanese broadcast? EVIL boots Tanga in the face twice and hits him with a sidewalk slam. Sanada is tagged in and he lands a dropkick on Tanga, then he follows it up with a suicide plancha to the outside. Sanada puts Tanga in the "Paradise Lock," but Tama cuts off Sanada and tries to put him in a "Pardise Lock" of his own but he gets frustrated because he doesn't know how to do it, yells "shit" and just kicks him in the gut. Sanada eventually breaks free and kicks Tanga in the ass. Sanada goes for a crucifix and Tanga counters it into a Samoan drop. Now Tama is the legal man - I think. He and Sanada trade blows for a bit and Tama drops him with a karate chop - or, as Tama calls it - "Some Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka shit for yo ass." EVIL re-enters the fray and and bulldogs Tama into his own teammate. Wow, EVIL is really, really over with this crowd. EVIL grabs Tama's leg, throws it INTO the ref's arms and thrust kicks him on the rebound. EVIL accidentally wipes out the ref on a follow-up avalanche splash, and Tanga IMMEDIATELY grabs a chair and whacks Sanada over the head with it. Tanga opens up one of those hilariously skinny buffet tables while Tama chairs the fuck out of EVIL in the ring. Tanga sets EVIL up for a piledriver through the chair, but wait a minute, here comes BUSHI to spray ASIAN MIST in the eyes of the Guerillas! This results in Bad Luck Fale storming out of the back to hit EVIL with his shitty, shitty clothesline before chasing BUSHI to the locker room like that fat dude chasing Wee Man on Jackass. Tama splashes bottled water in Tanga's face, but he still looks like he's cosplaying as the main character from Soul Man. The ref has been revived and the G.O.D. land their double team finisher "Guerilla Warfare" on EVIL, but it's only worth a two. Tama hits a frog splash off the top rope, but EVIL kicks out again. Sanada lands a double springboard dropkick after some comical tomfoolery and EVIL turns Tama inside out with a vicious clothesline. Tama hits EVIL with a modified Stun Gun, but Sanada lands on his feet on the follow-up German suplex attempt. Tanga drops Sanada with a Blue Thunder Bomb and he teases powerslamming Tanga through the table, but Sanada counters it into a guillotine choke. EVIL hits a gut kick and then he and his partner put Tanga through the table with a modified "Magic Killer." Then they try to hit Tama with another Magic Killer, but he counters, only for EVIL to hit him with Darkness Falls - which Tama kicks out of. Then they land one more Magic Killer, and Tama kicks out AGAIN. EVIL hits his STO secondary finisher - which Kevin Kelly calls "Everything's EVIL" - and THAT's what finally gets LIJ the pinfall.

Meltzer's Rating: *** 3/4

My Rating: *** 1/4

The Verdict: I'm not usually a big fan of the whole "big spot, here's my finisher, don't sell it, so let me hit you with it three more times before I finally pin you" routine, but this one employed the hook a little bit better than most matches of the like. The run-in stuff was pretty stupid and the whole "Paradise Lock" antics were borderline retarded, but you can't argue against the final ten minutes being pretty engrossing. It may not be a great technical showcase, but it certainly wasn't boring, either - just enjoy it for what it is and you'll probably walk away at least partially satisfied.

Fuck, this actually IS about 100 times better than the real Justice League movie!

Dec. 12, 2017
Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa vs. Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani (All Japan 2017 World's Strongest Tag League Finals)

Suwama and Ishikawa are fresh off a 25-minute plus tilt against Kento Miyahara and Yoshitatsu, while Hashimoto and Kamitani had a scrap against Naoya Nomura and Yuma Aoyagi before that (just pretend you know/give a fuck who any of those people are.) Daichi is this skinny punk rock dude and Hideyoshi is Kenta Kobashi if he was ALL baby fat. Suwama, of course, looks like Mitsuharu Misawa with a really bad early 2000s dye job and Ishikawa just looks plain goddamn manly, even with the beer belly and the world's crappiest attempt to grow a goatee. Anyhoo, Ishikawa and Hideyoshi begin and it's pretty great, with each man just throwing their flab at each other as projectiles, with Hideyoshi - who is literally a foot shorter and 100 pounds smaller than Ishikawa - finally taking the bigger man off his feet. Daichi and Suwama get tagged in. Shit, I forgot to tell you - Daichi has mohawk AND a rat tail. Daichi puts Suwama in a crossface while Hideyoshi racks Ishikawa up in a stretch plum. And holy fuck, does Suwama do a five star job selling that shit like it is death incarnate. Hideyoshi launches Daichi into Suwama and then Suwama starts chopping the fuck out of both of them. Ishikawa gets tagged back in and he immediately STEAMROLLS Daichi in the corner before giving him the fattest dragon suplex of all-time. Daichi lands a shitty rolling kick and tags in Hideyoshi, who manages to suplex Ishikawa after a few failed attempts. Daichi lands another jumping knee in the corner and a DDT on Ishikawa. He kicks out of Hideyoshi's tackle. Suwama gets dumped to the outside and Hideyoshi tries to suplex Ishikawa, only to get taken down with a headlock and kicked in the face FUCKING HARD. Hideyoshi gets German suplexed like a motherfucker by Suwama and then Ishikawa kicks him in the face again but Daichi breaks up the pin attempt. Then Ishikawa and Suwama land a nasty double powerbomb on Hideyoshi, but again, Daichi breaks it up. Then Hideyoshi springs to life and FINALLY lands that back body suplex on Ishikawa, but of course, Suwama is there to make the save. Daichi whiffs on the Shining Wizard attempt and gets Germaned by Suwama again, but he DOES stick the Wizard on the rebound. All four men are struggling to get back to their feet. Hideyoshi throws some loopy forearms at Ishikawa and Ishi responds by slapping the taste out of his mouth, but this makes Hideyoshi REALLY mad and then they decide to just potato the FUCK out of each other before Hideyoshi flattens Ishikawa with two lariat-os. Ishikawa knees Hideyoshi TWICE and tries to pin him missionary style, but Daichi breaks it up. Ishikawa lands a fucking sick FIRE THUNDER variation but somehow, Hideyoshi kicks out. Then he lands a wrist-clutch Olympic Slam and, yep, that's good enough to net him the three count.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: Now that was entertaining as fuck. You always hear the phrase "less is more" tossed around, but this really was a match that succeeded by keeping shit minimalistic. The story of the match was basically Hideyoshi trying desperately and direly to prove himself against Ishikawa, with Daichi and Suwama basically relegated to nothing more than pin-interrupting roles. Now, I'm not saying this thing was RWTL 1996 levels or anything like that, but you could really feel the emotion and energy emanating from Hideyoshi and Ishikawa, and I got caught up in the flabby drama WAY more than I thought I would. This was a fatter, slower-paced more heavy-hitting throwback to the glory days of All Japan, and it's a PERFECT foil for those of you who have grown tired of the all-too-predictable New Japan-style mega spot-fest. Definitely give it a gander, if the opportunity is afforded to you.

Dec. 15, 2017
Passion League ~ MAKE JAPAN GREAT AGAIN: The Great Sasuke, Shu Brahman, Kei Brahman, Flash Dick and Nanae Takahasi and the Mini-Master vs. Lex Luther #1, Steppenwolf #2, Dr. Poison #3, Darkseid GAINA and Kasei #OK (Michinoku Pro Great Space War 2017)

Holy goddamn shit, this is the most amazing thing I've seen in my life and I'm not even kidding. If you ever wonder why the Japanese oft consider themselves a superior race, this promotional poster ALONE pretty much makes it unquestionable. The Brahmans come to the ring dressed up like members of the Oathkeepers and immediately start spraying the audience with a shotgun-shaped water gun. They're flanked by a bunch of people dressed like intergalactic Jews, complete with purple Stars of Davids sewn onto their uniforms and yarmulkes. Then their opponents come out, and it's LITERALLY a whole bunch of wrestlers wearing shitty knockoff D.C. super villain costumes - plus this one chick carrying a beaker of lord knows what and a fat dude painted silver wearing what appears to be a cardboard camera over his head. Oh, and his theme music is some Japanese kid crying over an accordion. Fuck, we've get Lex Luthor (who is identified as "Lex Luther," because those sly foxes at Michinoku Pro know the best way to subvert international copyright laws), a dude dressed up in a Steppenwolf costume that's probably even better than the one in the actual Justice League movie and this really chunky dude wearing a blue shirt over a gray bodysuit. Sure, he's supposed to be Darkseid, but from my vantage point, he could just as easily be Grimace from the McDonald's commercials. Anyhoo, they're soon assailed by a fat dude dressed up like The Flash, some Joshi ho dressed up like Wonder Woman (Nanae Takahashi) AND THE GREAT SASUKE WEARING AN AMERICAN FLAG LUCHADOR MASK AND A DONALD TRUMP WIG, COMPLETE WITH A MIDGET WRESTLER PORTRAYING BARRON TRUMP. And a good goddamn, he's flanked by Secret Service agents. These assholes have thought of literally EVERYTHING. And just when you think things can't POSSIBLY get any better, Sasuke grabs the mic and, in English, calls the dude with a camera on his head "Rocket Man" and tells him "to get out of here." Then he commands "global warming" to "get out of my sight, it's some bullshit." Oh my god, this is already better than anything SNL has done over the last 30 years. Of course, the heels Pearl Harbor Sasuke and the knock off Justice League and Kasei #OK (I'm just going to call him "Rocket Man" from here on out) singles out Mini Donald Trump (canonically called Mini-Master) and the battle, it is on. Mini-Master eats some intentionally shitty looking headbutts, then lands a dragon screw leg whip before bailing to the outside so Flash and Darkseid can tango. They take turns slamming into each other and Flash finally takes 'Seid off his feet with a shoulder tackle. Wonder Woman gets the tag and it's time for her to go woman-to-woman against Dr. Poison, who immediately starts spraying - something - in the air, which apparently summons a gaggle of FUCKING ZOMBIES FROM THE LOCKER ROOM TO ATTACK HER. Anyway, she stacks them in a big pile and IMPALES them with her plastic sword, then she gets into a prop battle with Steppenwolf while Darkseid headlocks the fuck out of Sasuke on the outside. Back in the ring, Luther is unpacking something from a duffel bag, which leads to one of the Brahmans enter the ring and spitting water at him and clobbering him with a mannequin's torso. And I legit LOL when he pegs Luther RIGHT in the face with the water bottle. On the outside, Wonder Woman is beating the shit out of Luther with her plastic shield and here comes the OTHER Brahman brother carrying a GODDAMN FIBERGLASS DOLPHIN to the ring. Then the two warring teams head into the crowd and decide to have an IMPROMPTU TUG OF WAR BATTLE, because fuck it, the rope was ALREADY THERE. And of course, the fans join in on the epic struggle, which is eventually won by Team Trump and Justice League. Speaking of Trump, Sasuke is back in the ring, setting up two ladders and a table. He makes Luther eat lumber while Dr. Poison whips Wonder Woman with the tug of war rope. And then Rocket Man gets hit in the nuts by ... a toy lobster? Now Sasuke puts a metal bar in between the two ladders and starts doing a GYMNASTIC ROUTINE, only for the ladders to tip over and KO him on the table. Then the heels start throwing empty cans at him until Wonder Woman makes the save and suplexes Luther and Steppenwolf simultaneously. Now the Flash is trying to do CPR on Sasuke while the Brahman brothers decide to use the dolphin prop as a battering ram on Steppenwolf and Luther. And then, they have a REVERSE TUG OF DOLPHIN, in which each team tries to impale the other with the prop porpoise. Then mini-Trump tries to climb it, but he falls off so Sasuke puts a prop polar bear on top of the prop dolphin and uses HIS PSYCHIC POWERS TO DRIVE THEM INTO THE INJUSTICE LEAGUE. Now it's five on one against Sasuke, and all four male members of the team climb on top of each other's shoulders and fall on top of him. LOL at the Brahmans pulling off their bald caps and slapping Luther with it. And LOL even more when they toss a huge suitcase right in his fucking face. And here comes the old Al Snow "bowling ball to the testicles" routine. Fuck the Flair Flop - the Brahman backflip is the greatest stupid thing in wrestling history. The Injustice League are placed in metal folding chairs and a good goddamn, the Brahmans roll a giant Donkey Kong barrel at them - which the heels artfully dodge. Sasuke puts a table, a ladder, AND three chairs in the corner and Luther reverses the Irish whip and he winds up eating his own creation. Now Rocket Man is going up top while grabbing his dick and making siren noises. And then, in the greatest moment of all time, "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith starts playing - and mini-Trump returns, this time DRESSED AS A RED, WHITE AND BLUE ROCKET. This leads to the faces slowly pushing mini Trump into Rocket Man, as both collapse into a pile on the floor below. Fuck, this is the greatest comedy match of all time and it isn't even close. Alright, so Sasuke has ANOTHER ladder set up in the middle of the ring. Now he's got another one. Meanwhile, Darkseid and Flash fight while sitting on the Dolphin and Sasuke slowly climbs his makeshift table and ladder scaffold and orders the Brahmans to hand him the giant barrel from earlier. I guess you can figure out where this is heading ... he socks the barrel over his head and the heels PUSH him at least ten feet to the concrete floor before. Even worse, he pinged the turnbuckle like a motherfucker on his way down. Cue "O Fortuna." Oh, holy shit, it's Rocket Man dressed up like a giant penis shaped missile. No joke, the costume has to be at least nine feet tall. He climbs the top rope and splashes Sasuke, but here comes the Brahmans to break up the pin attempt. Darkseid makes a giant pile of about 12 chairs in the middle of the ring and he power bombs Sasuke on it. The faces make the save at the last millisecond. Now he's threatining to powerbomb Sasuke on two ladders set up on their sides - and he lands it. But Sasuke kicks out. Oh my god, they actually managed to incorporate REAL drama in this match. Now Rocket Man is climbing the ladder and Darkseid is thinking about powerbombing him on Sasuke, but Wonder Woman gets to him first and powerbombs HIM for a two count. Then Sasuke grabs the polar bear, leaps off the top rope and hits Rocket Man right in the balls for the 1,2,3. Oh, but we're not done yet. Now the Brahmans get to cut a comedic promo (I have no idea what they're saying, but judging from the audience's reaction it sounds like it's a goddamn riot) and then Sasuke gets some mic time. "Thank you," he says, "We make Japan GREAT AGAIN."  Then he cuts a (probably) more sincere promo in his native tongue and then, it's time for a post-credits stinger where the Justice League say a whole bunch of shit that's probably hilarious, but I don't grasp because I don't speak Japanese.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: This was some of the most fun I've had watching a wrestling match in YEARS. I know a lot of people are going to immediately write this off for being "just" a comedy match, but fuck, why not commend comedy matches of the like that positively excel at being humorous? Seriously, I laughed out loud at least four or five times during the bout, and the final stretch actually had a considerable amount of REAL melodrama to it. I think it's WAY past time we stopped rating wrestling matches on a pure "workrate" scale and instead started viewing them the way we watch movies - not as interchangeable products that MUST adhere to a strict formula for WON star ratings, but as individual, self-contained stories with a unique beginning, middle and end. If we're going to praise '90s All Japan heavyweight brawls for their action and lucha libre matches for their acrobatic intensity and New Japan main events for their high drama, we might as well start giving due respect to outstanding comedy matches like this that make us laugh our collective asses off. Nobody's going to mistake this match for an athletic or storytelling masterpiece, but just in terms of pure entertainment, it's undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable matches you'll see ANYWHERE from 2017. Gimmicks and humorous spots or not, this was a FANTASTIC little diversion and I loved every second of it. If you've go the free time, by all means, DO try to give this one a gander.

Dec. 17, 2017
AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal (WWE Clash of Champions 2017)

Collar and elbow tie-up to begin. Styles goes for a waistlock and Mahal elbows the taste out of his mouth. So they're kinda' doing a David vs. Goliath thing here, even though in this case, Davis has already BEAT Goliath on live television. Styles kicks the shit out of Mahal's leg and immediately starts twisting his ankle like a pretzel. Jinder counters with a HARD shot to the jaw and a stun gun that he kinda fucked up. LOL at somebody in the crowd saying "Jinder takes steroids." Styles kicks Mahal's leg on the outside some more, but Jinder picks him up and throws him into the barricade a couple of times. Then he front suplexes AJ ribs-first on the announce table, and that HAD to hurt like a motherfucker. Back in the ring and Jinder locks in a crossface. And of course, the fans start chanting "USA," because technically, Jinder is a goddamn dirty ... Canuck. Jinder locks in a body scissors submission, which is actually kinda painful - my stepdad used to grapevine me like that while watching M*A*S*H. Come to think of it, I wonder why my mom never considered that a form of child abuse but - I digress. Back in the ring, Jinder keeps throwing AJ into the ringposts over and over again. Jinder with a seated abdominal stretch. Which he follows up with - well, yet another seated abdominal stretch. Mahal tackles Styles in the corner and lands a karate chop off the second turnbuckle. Wow that looked - not intimidating at all, actually. He goes for the chop again and Styles catches him with a dropkick. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm but Jinder shucks him off the ropes. Jinder hits a gutbuster, but it's only worth a two. Jinder hits a flap jack and yep, AJ kicks out of that, too. Styles with a briding suplex counter, but it's only worth a two. AJ with a stiff kick to Jinder's neck. Jinder with Samoan - uh, I guess Indian Roll? Another two count. "You cannot not be impressed by Jinder Mahal tonight," one of the announcers states. Well, I beg to differ. Styles drops Jinder with the Pele kick and Jinder shucks off a tornado DDT attempt and follows suit with a NICE kick right to the face. But yeah, it only nets him a two-count. Jinder goes for his finisher off the top rope and AJ hits another Pele. Styles yanks Jinder off the top rope and goes for the Phenomenal Forearm yet again. Oh, wait, he counters it with a 450 splash, and then those two little Indian guys on the outside try to drag Jinder out of the ring to avoid the pinfall so AJ planchas them and hits one of 'em with the Styles Clash. AJ whiffs on another Phenomenal Forerarm attempt and Jinder hits his finisher - but Styles kicks out! Jinder goes for a powerbomb and Styles counters with a rolling calf crusher. Jinder almost gets to the ropes, but Styles flips him over and scoots him back into the middle of the ring and Jinder TAPS.

Meltzer's Rating: *** 1/4

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: I'd consider this a good TV main event, but for a PPV headliner that you're supposed to pay people money for, it's pretty ho-hum. Styles did his best to make Jinder look good, and the final stretch was pretty entertaining, but by and large this was a rather unremarkable outing for both competitors.

Dec. 22, 2017
Eddie Edwards vs. KENOH (NOAH Winter Navigation Final at Korakuen Hall)

There's no way around it - KENOH is basically just a poor man's Okada. But at least his power-pop-punk entrance theme is pretty cool, at least. This is for the GHC title, which, no, DOESN'T stand for "giant horse cock." Edwards looks like your rank and file ROH midcarder, even though he is technically a world title holder. Oh shit, I forgot about Edwards being on the Impact Wrestling roster. And LOL at him getting, like, three streamers thrown during his introduction. We get your standard arm wrench exchange to begin. Then they do the old RVD/Jerry Lynn miss-miss-duck-duck-roll-over stalemate spot. Edwards hits a Frankensteiner and KENOH bails to the floor, except KENOH kicks him right in the fucking head before he can make the suicide dive. Huh. Check out that one Japanese dude in the front row with the Yankees cap on. OK, we have a legitimately cool moment when KENOH makes a running dive at Edwards and Eddie grabs him and belly to back 'plexes him ON the guardrail. Time for some chops - which goes on for about two full minutes. Edwards with a neck wrench. KENOH gets a rope break. Eddie lets KENOH punch him in the sternum a few times and then Edwards responds with some NASTY knife edge chops, but KENOH ends up dropping him with a kick to the breadbasket. Fuck, somebody's gotta' tell KENOH that platinum blond bowl cut shit ain't gonna' work. Edwards lands an enziguri and a suicide dive through the ropes. Eddie goes up top and hits KENOH with a missile dropkick to the chest. KENOH lands a few elbow shots and Edwards chops the fuck out of him again. Eddie lands a one armed powerbomb, but KENOH kicks out at two. KENOH counters a tiger driver, then they take turns German suplexing one another until Edwards drops KENOH with an enziguri. KENOH applies an ankle lock and Eddie gets the ropes. They exchange forearm smashes for a bit and KENOH dragon suplexes Edwards on the edge of the mat. KENOH lands a cool looking face-first suplex and Edwards Germans his ass into the turnbuckle on the rebound. Time for another extended forearm, karate chop and kicks exchange sequence. LOL at these motherfuckers doing their best Kobashi/Sensuke impersonation and totally no-selling one another's offense. Anyway, all of that shit ultimately ends with Edwards dropping KENOH with a clothesline. Edwards hits KENOH with back-to-back powerbombs but his adversary kicks out. Edwards rocks KENOH with a hard forearm and the tiger driver, but KENOH kicks out again. KENOH hits a quick release German - man, it always makes me laugh hearing these Japanese announcers use "JUR-MAN!" as a verb. Eddie gets up an karate slaps KENOH when he's on the top rope. He sets him up for a dragon suplex, but it looks like he's trying to buttfuck him the whole time. Anyway, he lands the top rope suplex AND a follow-up double stomp, but Edwards kicks out and drops KENOH with another clothesline. Eddie lands another tiger suplex and another tiger driver, but KENOH kicks out again. Edwards with an, uh, flying ballsack to the face and KENOH kicks out of that, too. KENOH hits a head kick and follows that up with an even SICKER head kick. Then he heads up top and double stomps Edwards' back and torso and THAT's what gets him the win and the GHC championship.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ***

The Verdict? Well, Edwards made it a decent match, but holy shit, is this KENOH kid nowhere close to being ready to become the face of the company. And lets' face it, NOAH these days ain't exactly filled to the brim with top tier talent willing to make him look good on a night-in, night-out basis; so, yeah, I probably wouldn't expect any five star opuses for the GHC title in 2018, if I were to be honest with you.

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"Remember your dreams are your only schemes so keep on pushing" - The Rev. Curtis Mayfield

1 comment:

  1. I was live and in public for HIAC 2017 in Detroit; watching those matches live was such a surreal experience, and the crowd was molten for both HIAC matches. New Day and The Usos, in particular, was the MOTN, IMO.

    I plan on having more than a few follow-up columns regarding the sport and the art of pro wrestling in the near future.

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