Monday, May 28, 2018

Revisiting WCW Great American Bash '96!

It's the last WCW PPV before the N.W.O. angle kicked off ... and it's everything you love (and hate) about mid-1990s World Championship Wrestling condensed into one three hour block!

By: Jimbo X

Is there anything in this world comfier than 1990s WCW? Specifically, mid-1990s WCW, right before the whole N.W.O. shtick got started and you were still getting awesome heavyweight main events and seeing all the cruiserweights enter the fray and they were still letting guys like Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan do preposterously violent shit on live television — all while the dulcet (and hardly intelligible) commentary of Dusty Rhodes washed over the predetermined madness at hand.

I'm not sure why, but to me, WCW always feels like such a summery product — even the seasonal stuff like Halloween Havoc and Starrcade feels like it was just meant to be watched in a double-wide trailer in the woodlands of Alabama on an illegal cable box with the temperatures around 90 degrees in the shade, and if that doesn't put your soul at ease, I don't know what will.

So enter the 1996 Great American Bash. This was the calm before the storm, so to speak, as the last WCW PPV before the heel turn heard the 'round world at that year's Bash at the Beach. You could kinda' see the company trying to change gears with the Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as "furtive WWF invaders" storyline, but you still had a lot of loose ends hanging around. For example, at this point in time we still had the Dungeon of Doom feuding with the Four Horseman, and the Giant being pushed as a literally unstoppable killing machine capable of squashing top faces clean in the ring in five minute anti-bouts. So basically, what we had here was a company just on the cusp of its biggest creative (and financial) breakthrough ever, but still slogging through some of its more forgettable moments of its post-Hogan years. So yeah, this show is kinda' like Germany in-between WWI and WWII ... and I mean that in both really positive and really negative connotations.

But why listen to me flap my lips when we've got this old-ass video cassette right here to tell us what's what? Adjust that tracking and make sure your Mason jar of Dr. Shasta is ice cold ... it's time to party like it's 1996, ya'll!

The VHS begins with ads for Uncensored, Slamboree and Bash at the Beach '96 and yep, they are all cheesy as fuck,

The PPV begins promos from fucking EVERYBODY — Bobby the Brain, Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Macho Man and even Kevin Greene, for whatever reason.

We are calling this shindig LIVE from Balimore. Is it just me, or did they ALWAYS do the Great American Bash in Baltimore every year?

A big old black dude comes out holding Old Glory while the National Anthem plays and people hold their dirty old baseball caps over their hearts. Oh, by the way, that big black dude should look familiar — he should, considering he's actually Sgt. Craig Pittman.

Our play-by-play duo is Tony S. and The American Dream, Duthy Rooths, the latter of whom appears to be sporting Eddie Murphy's jacket from Delirious. Rhodes says something about pulling a bird out of Scott Hall's butt and pays tribute to the recently deceased Dick Murdoch.

Opening the festivities is a tag bout between Scott Norton and Ice Train against the Steiner Brothers. And yep, even pre-blond dye job, Scott was fucking jacked to the gills on the 'roids. Scott and Ice to begin. Shit, everybody in this match is a walking Schedule III dispensary. Scott with a shoulder block, Ice with a leap frog and a bearhug, sorta, at the very end. Scott hip tosses both of 'em and Scott rides Rick like a dog because nothing says "pro rasslin'" quite like implied incestuous homosexual bestiality. Now its Scott Norton and Rick trading clotheslines and body splashes in the corner. Literally every other move in this match is a shoulder block. Rick with a belly to belly suplex, but he can only get a two. Scott Steiner gets the tag and he gets to working on Norton. Norton lands a Samoan drop and Steiner rolls to the outside. Ice is tagged in. Suplex on Steiner and there's another belly to back suplex. Train with a body splash in the corner and Scott gets a boot up on the rebound. Scott lands a belly to back of his own and clotheslines Ice. Norton gets the tag and Steiner botches a back body drop and Norton lands right on his neck. Norton with a powerslam, but Scott S. kicks out. Ice Train is in and he immediately locks Scott S. in chinlock. Norton is tagged back in. He lands a NASTY shoulder breaker but Rick breaks up the submission attempt. Norton goes for another shoulderbreaker but Rick gets tagged in and now he's cleaning house. All four men are beating the shit out of each other, then Ice and Norton double team Rick. Rick eats a powerbomb from Norton and a body splash from Ice Train. Fire and Ice set up the Doomsday Device, but Scott crotches Train on the top rope. Train recovers and hits Norton with a double axehandle smash. Rick goes up and lands the "Big Bulldog" but Ice Train breaks up that, too, then Scott lands the WORST fucking Frankensteiner in the history of existence and that's what gets 'em the three count. Eh, for a throwaway opening bout, it wasn't that bad ... in fact, it even had, dare I say it, a few glimmers of not sucking, to boot! [** 3/4]

When you blatantly rip off Tiger Mask, and then pretend the Japaheeno is actually a Mexican ...

Mean Gene is backstage with Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan and Mean Gene refers to "young Chris Benoit" as "very angry." Oh, that seems like an understatement in hindsight. Holy shit, Sullivan, can't cut a promo worth a fuck. You can literally see him struggling to read the cue card and it's kinda' hilarious, actually.

The U.S. Heavyweight Title is on the line next as EL GATO takes on Konnan. In case you're wondering, El Gato is actually Pat Tanaka. See, I wanted to scoff at the announcers calling Konnan a Cuban, but one look at his Wikipedia article actually proved that to be a veracious claim, surprisingly. Yep, El Gato is a shameless, shameless ripoff of Tiger Mask, but I guess if you have to rip off one venerable Japanese gimmick, I reckon that's the one to copy. Gato with karate kicks and an armdrag. Its weird actually seeing Konnan in shape — he looks like a big, buff Homicide. A big, buff Homicide that can't hit any armdrags worth a shit. Konnan works an extended hammerlock sequence. Leapfrogs galore and El Gato superkicks Konnan. Nobody in the crowd gives a shit about this and it's just fantastic. El Gato pounds on Konnan from the crucifix mount, using the rope for leverage. Gato with a great-looking powerbomb off the ropes. Gato with another hammerlock submission. "This could uncle you!" Rhodes says. Konnan works an Indian death lock variation while you can almost hear the people pissing in the bathroom en masse. Konnan with a clotheslines and a lateral press. Just a two. Konnan gets arm dragged to the outside, then El Gato whiffs on a baseball slide. Konnan goes for a sunset powerbomb, but it is really, really slow and really, really shitty-looking. Then Konnan hits El Gato with an Alabama slam and a bridging pin and yep, that's the match. Eh, not a whole lot to this one, but it's not like it was horrible or anything like that. [** 1/4]

We're in the back with Mean Gene again. Holy shit, I forgot Sting used to have brown hair. LOL at him low-key accusing Lord Steven Regal of being a homosexual. He completely flubs his lines and Mean Gene has to save his ass on live television. Then Sting says he's going to "straighten" out Regal and Mean Gene kind of but not really apologize for saying Regal was a bit "prissy."

Up next, we've got Diamond Dallas Page doing battle with Marcus Bagwell. LOL at Page calling everybody in the crowd "Baltimore bimbos" and shitting all over Cal Ripken. DDP cheap shots Bagwell and Marcus hits Page with a jawjacker that sends him flying over the top rope. DDP eats a couple of punches and flies over the guardrail. Back in the ring and Bagwell drops DDP with a drop toehold. He follows suit with some knees to the the back. DDP with a back elbow smash and Bagwell takes him off his feet with shoulder block off the ropes. Now Bagwell is working the arm. Bagwell staggers DDP with forearm smashes, a dropkick and surprisingly decent plancha to the outside. Bagwell with another shoulder charge (or, as Tony S. calls it "a good offensive manuever") and DDP crotches him on the top rope. Page signals for the Diamond Cutter, but first he's gotta' stomp on Bagwell's ribcage and choke him a little bit. DDP with a spinning elbow smash and a gutwrench backbreaker. Just a two-count. He hits a back drop and, of course, Bagwell kicks out of that, too. DDP with an abdominal stretch. You have to see this one retard in the crowd who keeps waving like his hand his on fire. Oh, he's wearing a king's crown, too, for no discernible reason. DDP with a modified Styles Clash/flapjack, and he throws up the diamond gang sign again. Bagwell with a punch to the gut and a leg trip. Bagwell with an inverted atomic drop, a regular atomic drop and more noggin' knockers. Bagwell with a short-arm clothesline and another back elbow smash. He lands a flying clothesline from off the ring apron and feeds Page more knuckle sandwiches in the corner. You know, this is a surprisingly decent little matchup. DDP goes for a pin with his feet on the rope for leverage. DDP with a punch to the tummy and he lands the Diamond Cutter out of nowhere. And of course, Bagwell ain't kicking out of that. Well, consider me aghast — that was a perfectly fine little midcard PPV bout. Let's give it a respectable [***] and soldier forth.

You know you've really let yourself go when you reflect on your time weighing 460 pounds as your svelte days.

Mean Gene is in the back with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Shit, when the best promo of the night comes from The Big Show, you KNOW you've got your work cut out for you.

The WCW Cruiserweight title is on the line as Rey Mysterio, Jr. makes his company debut against Dean Malenko. Oh, this shit oughta' be good. Mike Tenay is joining the announce booth because he actually knows how to call a wrestling match with actual wrestling moves. This might be the only time I've ever seen a match in which Malenko was the TALLER competitor. Both men exchange headlocks and armdrags and we have a battle of kip ups. Dean with a drop toehold and puts Mysterio in a quasi-full nelson. Rey with a spinning armdrag, back when that shit was really novel for American audiences. Rey with a springboard dropkick sending Malenko to the show floor below. Myserio with a monkey roll and Malenko slingshots Rey over the top rope (but for some reason, it doesn't constitute a DQ. Hooray for inconsistent officiating!) Malenko kicks Rey in the face fucking hard and Rey grimaces in pain. Dean slams Rey right on his hyper-extended elbow. Malenko continues to wrench the "injured" arm. Now Dean is working a shitty-looking armbar, but Mysterio makes it to the ropes. Dean kicks Rey's elbow on the guardrail. Rey with a springboard dropkick. He flips out of a hurrancanranna and Dean clotheslines the fuck out of that motherfucker. Malenko locks in another straight armbar. Man, if this were an MMA fight, Rey would've had his arm snapped in half like, five minutes ago. Dean dropkicks Rey's elbow again and now he's elbowing the shit out of Rey's arm. Now this is a psychology course, folks. LOL at the fat guy wearing the faux-tuxedo tee-shirt. Malenko is working that straight armbar again. Dean releases the hold and he hits Rey with a TREMENDOUS hammerlock over-the-shoulder suplex. But Rey kicks out. Rey botches a dropkick. Now Malenko ties Rey up in another awesome armbar variation. Oh, so THAT is why the called him the "Man of 1,000 Holds." Now Dean is doing that old Indian death lock thing. He transitions that into an STF, and he transitions that into a Romero Special, which he extends into a bridging suplex. Rey gets the ropes, though. Now Dean is working on a fucking KIMURA. Goddamn, I could watch Malenko armbar people 15 or 16 different ways all day. Malenko with a waistlock suplex, and Rey kicks out. Man, this shit is comfy as fuck. Dean with a butterfly suplex, and Rey kicks out again. Dean working yet another armbar. Now he's wrenching it with a pumphandle-like manuever. A crappy headscissors sends Dean flying through the ropes. Rey with a baseball slide and a springboard somersault off the top rope, back when that shit wasn't played out as fuck so the fans freak out. Rey with a springboard dropkick, but Dean kicks out. Malenko with powerbomb, but Rey counters into a bridging pin. Malenko kicks out. Rey with a flying headscissors off the rope, and Malenko kicks out of that! This match is fucking great. Malenko goes up top and Mysterio hits him with a Frankensteiner. Dean goes for a tilt-a-whirl, Rey counters into a pin, but it's just a two. Rey goes for a hurrancanranna, Malenko counters with a powerbomb and then he gets his feet on the ropes to secure the heel-ish pinfall. Man, that was just an outstanding match from bell-to-bell. I want to say they had at least one match that was even better than this one a few weeks later (was it the Nitro match, or maybe another PPV bout?) but as-is this thing was still balls out teriffic. Take a cue Zack Sabre and Marty Scrull, THIS is how you do a ground technician vs. high flyer match RIGHT. I've got no problem giving this one a solid [****] recommendation as we carry on our merry little way.

Time for Mean Gene to interview Lex Luger, who has two championship belts. No, don't as me which ones because I sure as shit can't remember. As far as Luger promos go, this one isn't too bad. Well, up until he mispronounces "pride" as "pide" and stands there for five seconds with his mouth open after he obviously forgets his line.

Alright, up next it's Big Bubba (the late, great Big Bossman) going toe-to-toe with John "Earthquake" Tenta, who, for some reason, doesn't get any entrance music. Well, this match is all shades of 1990, ain't it? The brawling begins before the bell even sounds. "This ain't gonna' be a pretty sight," Dusty Rhodes says. Tena tosses Bubba into the metal steps. Apparently, Bubba is a member of the Dungeon of Doom or some shit. "I don't know if he knows a thousand moves, but he knows a fist to the face," Rhodes comments on Tenta's reportoire. Then he and Tony S. argue over what to call Tenta's ass splash. Bubba clocks Tenta with a foreign object of some kind, but the referee can't find the weapon. Tenta kicks out. Holy shit, Bossman just landed an enzuigirli. Didn't expect that. Bossman with the old running ballsack to the back of the head routine. Bubba puts his feet on the ropes and the ref breaks up the pin attempt. "He's not the man of a thousand moves, but he's a man of a half-thousand pounds," Tony S. says of Earthquke. "That's pretty clever," Rhodes says with an obviously unscripted chuckle. Bubba slings Earthquake's ankles against the metal turnbuckle. Then he starts knee-dropping Tenta's knees. Bubba chokes Quake in the corner with his boot. There's Bubba with a big, fat belly-to-back plex. Bubba climbs the top rope, Tenta grabs him, powerslams and what do you know, that's what registers the three count. Bubba headbutts Jimmy Hart by accident, then Tenta clips off a part of Big Bubba's beard with a pair of scissors. Then he jumps up and down in the ring, being fat, because that's his gimmick. Well, that was ... uneventful. Let's give it a ho-hum [* 1/2] and keep on trucking.

Mean Gene is in the back with Steve "Mongo" McMichael and Kevin Greene and their respective bitches. Not going to lie, Kevin's wife looks hot as fuck. Greene says this is "goal line territory" and "he's coming hard," because he's a football player and shit. And just when you think things couldn't get anymore awesome, in saunters MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE to make a whole bunch of gridiron puns.

Next, we've got ourselves Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan in a falls count anywhere match. Benoit makes a B-line for Sullivan before he even gets halfway down the ramp, and the violence, it is ON. Say what you will about both of these motherfuckers, but when they threw punche, they LOOKED like they were trying to kill each other. We've got some brawling in the crowds. Benoit makes Sullivan eat chair and The Taskmaster pokes Chris in the eyes. Benoit with headbutts galore and Sullivan screams "is that all you've got, punk?" and pops Benoit right in the face and it's great. Now they're beating the shit out of each other in the bathroom. Sullivan slams a stall door on Benoit's head and a whole bunch of black dudes start freaking out while this fat white dude in a suit tries to hold them back. Sullivan with another eyepoke, then he tries to give Benoit a swirly. "That would've been a smelly situation right there," Rhodes comments. LOL at Dusty freaking out over a woman being in the men's room. Seriously, that commentary alone makes this one of the greatest WCW matches of the decade. Now Sullivan's is trying to throw Benoit down a laundry chute. Then he smacks Benoit over the head with a sack of toilet paper. And that shit looked like it was two-ply, so you know it had to hurt worse than that Charmin shit. Benoit conks Sullivan over the head with a plastic garbage can and Sullivan sells it like a gunshot wound. More fisticuffs ensue and both men begin making their way down the stairwell back to the ring. Sullivan rolls Benoit down the stairs like a barrel in Donkey Kong. Repeatedly. "Well, that's one way to get him down," Dusty remarks. Shit, Benoit looked so young back then. Like, he looked like he was barely 21. Sullivan clobbers Benoit with a metal chair and Benoit drops Sullivan balls first on the guardrail. Benoit looks for plunder underneath the ring and swings Sullivan back into the guardrail. Now Benoit's got a table. He throws it into Kevin's face and now it's time for more chops. Benoit sets up the table in the corner and Sullivan slams his big fat belly into it but it doesn't break. Benoit sets the table up on the turnbuckle and Sullivan back drops him on the table. He climbs up the turnbuckle and Benoit lands a superplex and that gets him the pin. Post-match he slaps Sullivan around until Arn Anderson runs to the ring at three miles a week and then he and Benoit take turns stomping Kevin like a bag of flaming dog doo. Here comes the Dungeon of Doom to make the save, and Arn and Benoit just casually roll out of the ring like it wasn't no thing. A lot of people consider this one of the best brawls in WCW history (with some even considering it one of the best WCW matches of the 1990s), but to be honest fam, I've always thought this one was just *mildly* overrated. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun and wild brawl, for sure, but it's far from matching the lofty heights of the Nasty Boys/Jack and Payne donnybrook from Spring Stampede '94. It's fun as shit, without question, but you'd have to be plum goofy to think it's anything more than a overachieving garbage match. Still, I give it a very, very respectable [*** 3/4], and that's our cue to keep on keepin' on.

Fun fact: those action figures literally doubles as vibrators.

Backstage, Mean Gene is with Arn, Flair, Benoit, Woman and Miss Elizabeth. Shit, that's a lot of dead people. Arn cuts a great promo about how how awesome the Four Horsemen are and how the Dungeon of Doom are a bunch of no-good sons-of-bitches and Benoit cuts a promo that is, uh, not that good, honestly. Then Flair and Heenan take the mic, and, as expected, it's fucking' beautiful and you need to hear it ... especially the part where Flair subtly suggests Macho Man has erectile dysfunction. No, for real.

Lord Steven Regal is out, along with Sir William (wearing a powdered wig, naturally.) Sting gets a HUGE pop as he strolls to the ring. Huh ... earlier in the night, he accused Regal of being gay, but here *he* is wearing a rainbow scorpion on his britches. Uh, projection much, Stinger? Sting back body drops Regal on the floor and Regal responds with some European uppercuts and some knee drops to the noggin. The fans chant "U-S-A" and holy shit, did I never think I'd miss hearing that in a pro wrestling match. Way to fuck up American's greatest art form, SJWs. Regal rolls to the outside to jaw with fat fans in Hawaiian shirts. Regal shakes like a bitch every time Sting threatens to come after him. Regal with a single leg takedown and he shoves his knee into Sting's face. Time for a test of strength. Sting, of course, wins. Regal ripostes with a cobra clutch and a MEAN elbow to the face. Regal with a hammerlock. Sting lands a sunset flip but Regal kicks out. He goes back to a half nelson and socks Sting in the chin a couple of times for good measure. Regal dropkicks Sting and goes back to elbowing that motherfucker in the skull. Regal's still working the arm. Holy shit, I am DIGGING that ref's sweet mullet. Regal uses the rope for some leverage on an armbar. Sting locks in an abdominal stretch and Regal slugs him with a left hook. Regal with a pair of headscissors and an armbar. So yeah, Regal back in the day was pretty much Zach Sabre Jr, except his shit actually looked believable. Regal with a kick to the gut and some eye gouges. He locks in an inverted full nelson, Sting escapes and hits him with a dropkick and a flurry of clotheslines. Sting goes up top and Regal hits him with a shitty-looking butterfly suplex. TIME FOR THE REGAL STRETCH, ASSHOLES. For some reason, he lets Sting out of it and Sting starts punching the SHIT out of the Brit in the corner. Sting goes for the Stinger Splash, but Regal gets his knees up. Still, Sting shakes it off and locks in the Scorpion Deathlock out of nowhere and the fans go CRAZY as Regal verbally submits. Shit, did Regal ever have anything *less* than a three-snowflake affair during his WCW tenure? Both men, clearly, have had better matches, but still, that was really, really good stuff. I'd feel comfortable giving it a solid [*** 1/4], and this video cassette, it doth continue.

Michael Buffer is out to introduce Ric Flair and Arn Anderson for their "legends of wrestling versus legends of football" match against Mongo and Kevin Greene. Holy shit, is Mongo and Greene's introduction cringey as fuck, with Debra and Woman carrying DOGS with them and acting like cheerleaders and their music being this lame ass country song. In fact, they don't even get a pop until the Macho Man comes out. Greene is wearing a shirt calling him "a sack machine," which makes me think of a machine that literally makes sacks because I guess we're all kinda' autistic these days. Looks like it's going to be McMichael vs. Anderson to begin. Arn shoves McMichael into the ring post and they trade arm drags. Holy shit, you have GOT to see Greene's rat-tail. Just goddamn. Mongo tackles Arn from the three-point stance and Macho Man hops on the apron to tell Mongo what to do next. Boy, this match is slow and choppy as hell. But LOL at Arn tricking Mongo into a drop toehold on another tackle-off. Mongo, to be fair, has a pretty decen shoulder tackle off the top rope. Another collar and elbow tie-up and then Greene enters the fray to help Mongo stop the shit out of Arn. And Macho gets a free shot on the outside, because that's OBVIOUSLY what good guys do is sucker punch niggas. Greene gets tagged in and so does Ric Flair. Flair kicks Greene in the head and everybody cheers because Flair is still Flair, damn it. Greene with some mean looking shoulder tackles and then he does the Fargo Strut. Flair tries to run back to the locker room but Macho Man chases him down and throws him back into th ring. Greene with a huge back body drop and another shoulder tackle. Goddamn, that fucker did have some great looking charges. Flair keeps running into Mongo and falling down. Flair with some chops in the corner and Mongo no sells all of 'em. Mongo with some chops of his own and a hip toss. OK, this thing is way more fun than it has any right to be. Flair goes up top and, of course, Mongo launches him off like a rocket. Mongo locks in a figure four on Flair and Greene locks in a Figure Four on Greene. But woman claws Mongo's eyes, allowing the heels to escape. Arn hits Mongo with a DEMONIC DDT and he starts kneeing that motherfucker in the head and stomping him like ker-razy. Flair continues to chop Mongo and Arn gets some free stomps on the floor. Then Bobby the Brain kicks Mongo when he's down, then Mongo blatantly chokes Flair and Flair responds by hitting Mongo right in the balls. Arn gets the tag and Anderson stomps Mongo's gut. Arn with a double axe-handle smash and Flair helps him with a double suplex. Greene bumps Anderson off the dog pile and Mongo kicks out of the Flair pin attempt. Mongo clotheslines Flair and Anderson gets tagged in. Mongo throws the Horsemen into each other and Greene finally gets the hot tag. He starts body slamming everybody and powerslams Flair. Flair does his patented turnbuckle bump and Mongo makes him eat a big boot on the apron. Greene with a suplex and Arn Anderson clips Greene's knee. This match is WAY better than I would've anticipated. Arn gets tagged in and he goes for the figure four. Greene struggles to tag in Mongo, but Flair gets tagged in and stops him. Flair goes for the figure four, but Greene almost gets the pin with a roll-up. Flair with a knee-breaker and he finally gets the figure four applied. Arn gets into it with Macho Man, then Chris Benoit comes out to beat the shit out of Savage. Then Deborah McMichael, Woman and Miss Elizabeth come back to the ring to give Mongo a Four Horsemen tee-shirt and a whole bunch of money. Then he conks Greene over the head with the suitcase, allowing Flair to pick up the pin. Now it's time for a good old fashioned Four Horsemen beatdown on the Macho Man. Yep, that means Mongo is officially the fourth Four Horseman. "This is STOOPID" Dusty Rhodes says. Oh fuck, I just noticed that Flair was wearing green and yellow ... the same color of the Packers. Now that's attention to detail, Holmes. All in all, that was surprisingly fun — I'd consider it a shockingly
solid [***] opus, personally, and from there, we throw it to one Eric Bischoff.

Bischoff calls out Scott Hall and Kevin Nash ... without using their names, of course ... and he tells Diesel and Razor if they want a match in a WCW ring, they'll get one — at Bash at the Beach 1996. Bischoff bluntly asks Razor and Diesel if they're working for the WWF, but Hall says he, Diesel and "their surprise buddy" are going to "carve up" whoever they put in the ring against them. Then Diesel powerbombs Bischoff through a ramp-side table and it makes the audience gasp, like, for real. That shit was set up nearly perfectly. Tony S. and Dusty Rhodes act legitimately shocked and even now, it feels astonishingly real. I can only imagine how much marks were freaking out over this shit when it happened live — it must've been mind-blowing, for sure.

Time for the main event. It's Lex Luger (with awesome music) vs. The Giant (with Jimmy Hart, but not any heat.) Michael Buffer let us know it is indeed time to rumble, and the World Heavyweight Championship contest is ON. The Giant hits Lex with a big boot out the gate, and then Luger clotheslines the Giant over the top rope. The Giant gorilla press slams Luger back into the ring and Luger hits the Giant with a barrage of forearm shots. Luger jumps on the Giant's back and tries to lock in a sleeperhold of sorts. Jimmy Hart threatens to smack Lex with his megaphone, but Sting takes it away from him and chases him to the back. Luger is hung in the tree of woe and The Giant stomps the shit out of him. Give Luger some dap, he is selling the Giant's strikes like they are pure, unadulterated murder. The Giant hits Luger with a clubbing blow to the back and a foot choke in the corner. The Giant with a backbreaker and an over-the-shoulder Torture Rack variation. The Giant stretches Luger's arms with his knee digging into Lex's back and Luger stuns him with an Ace Crusher. Luger goes for a body slam, but the Giant falls on him. The Giant goes for a quick pin, but Luger gets his foot on the rope. The Giant with more stomps. He sets Lex on the top rope and kicks him a couple of times. This has been a glorified squash match the whole way through. Luger with a shitty looking springboard dropkick and a series of clotheslines. Luger clips the Giant's knees and I laugh at the Giant's butt cheeks hanging out of his unitard. The Giant crashes and burns on a corner splash and Luger kicks the fuck out of the Giant and gets him in the Torture Rack ... only to collapse under the Giant's tremendous girth. The Giant signals for the Choke Slam. He lands it. One, two, three, and the Giant retains the belt. And rather anticlimactically ... that's how the show ends, kids.

Just so you'd know — I'd love to have Kevin Greene's wife sit on my face and recite the Constitution in its entirety.

The main event was pretty much a blowout [** 1/4] at best affair, but at least it had an air of realism to it that most modern day wrestling matches are all but devoid of. You would never see modern day WWE or New Japan pull this kind of shit, asking people to pay $29.99 to watch one of the most beloved faces in the company get wrecked by a monster heel the crowd honestly doesn't give a shit about. Not that I'm saying such is a bad thing, per se, but certainly something that shows you just how much brand management has changed over the last 22 years. 

On the whole, I would consider it a pretty solid show. Like a lot of WCW PPVs from the epoch, there wasn't anything on the card I'd consider a MOTY contender, but the stuff that was there certainly trended north of above average to very, very good. The Malenko/Mysterio match was easily the MOTN, and the Benoit/Sullivan brawl — while vastly overrated by the IWC — is still a pretty fun spectacle, and something that's probably worth going out of your way to check out at least once. Beyond that, I wouldn't say there was anything on the show truly underwhelming, save perhaps that one Earthquake/Bossman bout that, even in 1996, felt painfully passe.

Of course, the big takeaway from the PPV was its setup for Bash at the Beach, and if you don't what happened there by now ... well, you probably shouldn't be reading anything WCW-related on the Webz, homie. I had totally forgotten how great the Bischoff/Outsiders encounter was, and the way the announcers (and even Lex Luger, who even sold how distraught he was over his boss eating a table) handled it was downright stellar. For a company that just a few months ago was trying to convince its audience that a wrestler could survive being thrown off the roof of Cabo Hall, they definitely did their part to make the Hall and Nash tomfoolery feel totally believable, and today's bookers and writers definitely need to revisit the shit to see how to do an "invasion" angle right.

Granted, it's nowhere close to being the best WCW PPV of the year, but for what it's worth it is pretty entertaining and you won't get bored at any point in the three-hour shindig. Naturally, you'll get more mileage out of the experience if you grew up watching this shit, but even without the blinders of nostalgia it's still an enjoyable outing for old school pro wrestling fans of all stripes.

There are worse ways to start your summer, folks — and with an event poster like this, how the fuck else would you prefer to kick off the seasonal festivities?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Jimbo's Quarterly Rasslin' Wrap-Up (Q1 2018 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

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 update of this calendar year - which you're reading right now — will cover two dozen matches from January, February and March 2018, while the second installment (penciled in for late August) will cover 24 matches from April, May, and June 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?


Jan. 01, 2018
Negro Casas vs. Sam Adonis (CMLL Sin Piedad)

It's hair vs. hair and we've got some senoritas with some very thick thighs dancing on the rampway like the Fly Girls used to on In Living Color. Adonis, of course, is the biggest heel in Mexico because his SOLE gimmick is that he's a Trump supporter. And Casas, naturally, is the great brown hope against American imperialism. Yeah, let's all pretend like Mexico DIDN'T get the sweeter end of NAFTA, libs. Fuck, Negro Casas is OLD. We're talking damn near 60 at this point, and he definitely LOOKS IT. LOL at Adonis carrying an American flag that LITERALLY has Trump's face on it. Casas keeps trying to get in the ring but Adonis keeps booting him off the apron. Eventually Casas is able to land a flying ball sack to the face on the outside and it's beautiful. Casas looking for the Scorpion Deathlock early, and he ALREADY has the first fall. Well, that was faster than anticipated. Goddamn, there's a dude in the front row wearing a Joy Division shirt from 1987. Let's see if we see anybody with one of those "Frankie Say Relax" tees before the match is over. Alright, time for la segunda caida. Adonis bails to the outside to collect his wits. He fires off some knuckle sandwiches and puts his boot on Casa's windpipe. Time for a sleeperhold, followed by the shittiest elbow to the head you've ever seen in your life from Adonis. Sam with more punches and chops in the corner. Adonis goes up top and fucking CREAMS Casas with a 450 splash. That nets him the three count, obviously, but what's really amazing is that Casas legitimately broke several ribs on the spot and instead of trying to get a rushed finish, he's damn DETERMINED to end this bout as planned. Adonis works another sleeper hold and it is apparent Casas is hurt BAD. Adonis with a boot to the face off the ropes. We roll to the outside and Adonis tortures Casas with more chops and a STERNUM first bump into the guardrail. Shit, that had to hurt. Adonis slams Casas head into the metal CMLL announce desk and rolls him back into the ring. We've got a chop exchange. The crowd erupts as Casas finally gets an offensive putsch. Adonis lands a spinning elbow but only gets a dos. Adonis goes up top for a senton but Casas rolls out of the way at the last second. Adonis with a body slam and more boots to the face. Oh, and more chops. Can't forget those, either. Adonis lands a fireman's carry slam. Casas kicks out at two. Adonis sets Casas up for a superplex, and he lands it. An aside, but is that supposed to be Trump on Adonis' airbrushed tights? If so, ironically, the caricature looks more like Bill Maher than anyone else. Casas clotheslines Adonis off the top rope and Nego does the running dick to the chin move again. He lands a missile dropkick and scores the third and final pinfall via a la magistral cradle out of nowhere, as fireworks fall from the rafters. Adonis tries to head to the back, but some guy with a ponytail who is, like, five feet tall makes him head back to the ring to get his just desserts.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/2

The Verdict? The post-angle stuff was entertaining, and it was a marvel watching Casas fight through an obvious injury, but on the whole, this was a so-so match. The atmosphere was pretty good, but the actual in-ring product left a lot to be desired. Check out the highlights on YouTube, but it's probably not worth going out of your way to catch the full 16-minute affair.

Jan. 02, 2018
Joe Doering vs. Zeus (AJPW New Years War 2018 - Tag 1)

Zeus is this muscular blond Japanese dude who had a body type nearly identical to the Rock circa 2000. Hell, even his ring garb looks identical. Meanwhile, Joe Doering is this guy who comes out wearing a cowboy hat and a pimp-like fur coat. I take it he's a tribute act to Stan Hansen or something? Anyhoo, this match is for his Triple Crown Championship, in case you were wonderin'. No, I don't know if Joe is related to former ECW Tag Team Champion Danny Doring, so don't bother asking. "Come on motherfucker, show me power!" Doering yells before engaging in a test of strength lockup. Doering gets out of it with a headlock, then they exchange shoulder charges. Doering chops the EVER-LOVING fuck out of Zeus and all Zeus can do is respond with these mamby-pamby slaps. But Doering sells 'em anyway. Joe dumps Zeus to the outside with the flabbiest clothesline in the history of professional wrestling. Then he gives him the slowest running shoulder tackle of all-time off the apron. Then he starts elbowing Zeus in the sternum while the Japanese audience yells "Joe! Joe!" over and over again. Joe locks in a Boston Crab (which the announcers call a "Boston Crab-Us," which makes me chuckle a plenty for some reason.) Joe with more charging elbows and clubbing blows in the corner. Zeus gets a brief offensive putsch but Joe immediately drops him with a hard elbow strike. Time for another chop exchange. Yep, Joe wins AGAIN. Zeus hits a diving Lariat-o and a DOPE looking cradle belly-to-back suplex. Now he racks Doering up for the Torture Rack, but Joe escapes. Time for Joe to squish that asshole in the corner a couple of more times before dropping him with a LETHAL looking clothesline and a sternum crushing elbow drop. Joe lands a suplex, then Zeu gets up and suplexes Joe twice before placing his foe on the top turnbuckle. Zeus is trying to go for a superplex, but Joe pushes him off. Doering rolls to the outside. Before he can climb over the rope Zeus grabs him and suplexes him one more time. Doering hits a charging shoulder then they clothesline one another a couple of times. Zeus hits Joe with another running clothesline and wipes Joe out with a plancha to the outside. Zeus lands a quick gorilla press slam and showboats to the crowd. He goes up top and Joe whacks him with an elbow. Zeus fucks up a top rope sunset powerbomb, so he decides to turn it into a running powerbomb at the last second. And Joe sells it by balancing on the top of his head for about ten seconds after his neck connects witht he canvas. Joe catches Zeus off the ropes and makes him eat a spinebuster. Hey, let's exchange forearms and chops one more time, why don't we? They lay each other out with dual crossbody tackles. Joe goes for a powerbomb but Zeus counters it into a back body drop driver. There's another crossbody from Doering. But Zeus gets out of the spinning powerbomb attempt and hits Joe with a HEAVY Jackhammer variation. But it's only worth a two, even with the ref TRYING to help Zeus drape his arm over the fallen American. Zeus with another clothesline. Then Joe lands one. Now it's full on LARIAT-O CITY, culminating with Joe clotheslining Zeus damn near out of his boots. Joe with a stalling piledriver, but Zeus kicks out. He cues the spinning sitout powerbomb and this time he sticks it for the 1,2,3.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: That was some really, really fun stuff. I loved how the thing was built like a Fire Pro Wrestling match; it's all striking exchanges to begin, then the lower tier-grappling moves, and then it's time to break out the heavy firepower. Everything makes sense, and I love how it's not rushed like your average ROH/NJPW/PWG match where you have people doing fuckin' Asai moonsaults 30 seconds in. The final five minutes - with the awesome clothesline exchangen - was just tremendous and it really got the point across that Doering's spinning powerbomb was death incarnate. This is old school All Japan strong style shit, through and through, and I - for one - would love to see more of it as the year drags along.

Jan. 04, 2018
Minoru Suzuki vs. Hirooki Goto (New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12)

Not only is the for the NEVER Openweight bout, it's also a "loser must be shaved bald" match, which is something you don't really see that often in Japan. God, Suzuki is such a better version of Taz, right down to having the ceremonial towel draped over his head. By the way, Suzuki is like, 51 years old - and it shows. Goto gets dropped by a hard right early, then Goto staggers Suzuki with an open hand slap. A shoving-and-forearm sandwich contest ensues. Suzuki locks in a sleeper. Goto breaks the hold by slamming Suzuki back first into the turbuckle. But Suzuki doesn't let go of the choke. Suzuki eventually drops Goto off the top rope and Goto does a fantastic job acting like he's been choked unconscious. Suzuki throws the trainers out of the ring and the crowd tries to clap Suzuki back into consciousness. Come on guys - if that shit didn't work for Misawa, it's definitely not going to work for him. Goto is dumped on the outside and Suzuki slaps him around a bit. Then he launches him into the guardrail and grabs a chair for some extra hurtin'. The ref manages to wrestle it away from Suzuki and the crowd cheers. Meanwhile, Goto is still having difficulties getting to his feet outside the ring. He finally rolls back in and Suzuki slaps him around some more. This pisses off Goto, who starts throwing some desperation laughs that Suzuki just laughs off before firing off another right rocket that drops Goto like a ton of bricks ... err, a sack of rice? Suzuki with a boot in the corner, then a nice knee to the gut. Goto grabs Suzuki's leg on a shining wizard attempt, but Suzuki just karate chops him and he falls to the mat. Goto with a spinning crescent kick and a running bulldog.  And there's the belly to back suplex, which only nets Goto a two. Time for another forearm exchange, which somehow results in Suzuki landing a standing guillotine choke - which Suzuki quickly parlays into a standing rear naked choke. He goes for a piledriver, but Goto snakes out. Eventually, Goto is able to land a Go 2 Sleep variation, which puts both men flat on their backs. The stables for Goto and Suzuki try to interfere while both men re down, but none of them manage to get their way into the ring. Then Suzuki kills Goto dead with one of the meanest dropkicks you'll ever see in your life. Goto's back up and Suzuki is working body blows and E. Honda hand slaps. And there's the standing RNC again. Suzuki sets up the cradle piledriver again and Goto gores him in the corner and hits him with a Lariat-o. They start brawlin on top of the turnbuckle and Suzuki locks in another guillotine choke. Only Goto manages to reverse it into a modified Go 2 Sleep off the top rope. And yeah, I know it's technically called a "reverse ushigoroishi," but fuck is that hard to spell. Of course, Suzuki kicks out at two. Goto elbows Suzuki in the face a couple of times and Suzuki is more than happy to return the favor. He finally drops Suzuki with a headbutt to the throat. He follows that up with the Ura Shouten and the GTR, and that puts Suzuki down for the count for good. In the post fight, Suzuki grabs a chair, plops it down in the middle of the ring and shaves his own goofy ass hair off, leaving Goto to just stand there in the ring holding a clump of his defeated foe's coif thinking aloud "well, yeah, this is weird as fuck."

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

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: That was definitely fun, if not mildly predictable. I loved Suzuki working the chokes early and often, and Goto's eventual comeback felt considerably more believable than in most matches of the like. The outside interference stuff really didn't hurt the pace at all, and the last five minutes were very well done. All in all, this is a very, VERY good match, but I wouldn't exactly classify it as a legit "MOTY" contender ... or even a "MOTN" qualifier, for that matter.

Jan. 04, 2018
Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kushida vs. Will Ospreay (New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12)

Takahashi comes out first, dragging a cat doll  around with his teeth, which he gives to Milano Collection A.T. as a gift. KUSHIDA enters second. In case you didn't know, his gimmick is that he's a "Time Splitter" and he dressed like Marty McFly's kid in Back to the Future Part 2. Will Osperay comes out to music that sounds like background music from a 1989 syndicated action-adventure cartoon - which, now that I think about it a little, probably WAS intentional. Meanwhile, Marty Scurll's music is all spooky and stuff and he has the absolute stupidest ring attire I've ever seen. It's like a steampunk Bubonic plague doctor, complete with a top hat, a leather raven mask and a set of black angel wings. Fuck it, I hate everybody involved in this already. Oh, and Scurll's signature prop is ... an umbrella. Man, fuck Millenials, so hard. The two American guys look like Bernie Sanders supporters and the two Japanese guys look like - well, the Japanese equivalent of Bernie Sanders supporters, whatever that would entail. Scurll rolls to the outside and lets the other three men just dropkick each other for awhile. KUSHIDA with an armdrag on Osperay, with like three cartwheels for no reason whatsoever. Takahashi goes for a flash roll up on Scurll, but the other two break it up. Then it's time for EVERYBODY to exchange flying headscissors. Scurll stomps on Takahashi's finger with a preposterously long set-up that kills kayfabe deader than Elvis. KUSHIDA with a swanton to the outside to wipe out the field. Osperay super kicks Scurll. Then Scurll chops EVERYBODY. Osperay climbs up a lighting rig and does a backflip on his three foes below. Eh, that was just *kinda* cool, I guess. Osperay with a dropkick on KUSHIDA that misses by three miles. KUSHIDA goes for a flash pin attempt but Osperay kicks out. KUSHIDA works an armbar. Scurll stomps KUSHIDA's fingers again. Then he tornado DDTs Osperay and Scrull locks him in a chicken wing. Then KUSHIDA puts Takahashi in a choke variation, so he lets go off Osperay so he can stop KUSHIDA from getting the submission victory before he does. Now Scrull and KUSHIDA are exchanging kicks. Now it's full blow spotfest cluster fuck, with everybody hitting each other with clotheslines and doing three rotations on the follow-through like Looney Tunes characters. Now the four are having a LITERAL circle jerk, instead of tugging on each other's penises, they're punching one another. Scrull hooks Osperay in another chicken wing, but KUSHIDA breaks it up. Fuck, I HATE how these pricks keep calling out the names of their movies before they do them, like they were in Dragon Ball Z or something. KUSHIDA gets belly-to-back-suplexed into the ringpost. Then Osperay kicks Scurll while he's doing a headstand on the top rope. Yeah, don't try to make sense out of any of this shit. Osperay goes for a 450, but I think Scurll was SUPPOSED to hit him with a Stunner variation, but he didn't get anywhere close to getting his hands around his opponent's neck. Scurll hits the Os Cutter on Osperay, but one of them Japanese fellows breaks up the pin. Scurll reaches under the ring and pulls out some electrical tape. He tapes one of Takahashi's arms to the guardrail and bends back Takahashi's fingers like you did in kindergarten on the playground. Then KUSHIDA bends back Scurll's fingers and KUSHIDA hits an avalanche cross-armbreaker on Ospreay. He turns it into a triangle, with elbows to the top of the skull. Ospreay counters with a powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Now Scurll has even MORE tape. Then he throws baby powder and/or cocaine into KUSHIDA's face, then KUSHIDA hits him with "Back to the Future" before Ospreay breaks up the pin. Then Takahashi sunset flip powerbombs both Ospreay and Scurll. Takahashi hits Scrull with the Time Bomb, but Scrull kicks out. Ospreay and Scrull take turns kicking the Japanese in the face. Then Ospreay and Takahashi ROYALLY botch a double-team piledriver. I mean, BAD. Takahashi goes up top and hits Opreay with a missile dropkick. And KUSHIDA sunset bombs Takahashi after he gives Scurll a Death Valley Driver off the apron. Ospreay wipes out everybody with a shooting star press to the outside and in the ring Takahashi kicks out of an inverted 450. Takahashi lariat-os that limey, hits the Time Bomb and Scurll pulls the ref out right before he can make the three count. Scurll gets the umbrella and Os hits him with his flipping Rock Bottom thingy and the Os Cutter for the victory.

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

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: While entertaining in parts, this thing was BEYOND formulaic. The selling was non-existent and it contained an aberrationally high number of fuck-ups - yes, even for a Will Ospreay match. I know it sounds really pretentious and contrarian to write this stuff off as interchangible spot monkey fu, but honestly - this stuff was just ping-pong goofball Warner Bros. violence for 30 minutes, without any of the high drama, psychology, pacing or even comedy that you get out of any number of similar matches going on in seemingly every indie promo in the States and Japan. It was *mostly* entertaining, but it's absolutely nothing you haven't seen before - and surely, done much, MUCH better elsewhere.

Jan. 04, 2018
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega (New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12)

Jericho comes out to "Judas" by Fozzy and wearing a a jacket with blinking rhinstones, 'cause that shit is METAL. Omega's entrance begins as soon as the "Y2J" chants start piping up. He comes out wearing this goofy costume with a sci-fi-looking gun. I'm pretty sure he's cosplaying as some sort of obscure video game character, by Cyrus describes him as "an Egyptian god" instead. And Kevin Kelly's bringing up the "six star rating" bullshit ALREADY. Just so you know, this is now a NO DQ match, and no, that doesn't mean you're not allowed to eat Dairy Queen while you watch it. I'm just gonna' say it - Jericho looks FAT. He (ironically enough) Pearl Harbors Omega while he hugs the Young Bucks. The bell rings and we start with the SHITTIEST hockey fight facsimile you've ever seen in your life. Omega takes the offensive lead early with chops in the corner. Jericho shoves the ref into him and claws Omega's eyes. Now Jericho's the one doling out chops. And Jericho is already breaking out the Walls of Jericho. Omega gets the rope, but since it's a NO DQ bout, Jericho doesn't break the hold. Omega eventually kicks his way out and tosses Jericho to the outside. Goddamn, both these guys have TERRIBLE looking punches. Omega goes for a plancha into the crowd and wipes out the English announce desk. Jericho follows suit by momentarily putting Omega in the Walls of Jericho, slapping the ref and putting the referee's son in the Walls of Jericho. Omega boots him in the face and tosses Jericho into the pile of wreckage below. Omega whacks Jericho with a chair and a TV monitor, just like it was WWF Attitude on the PS1. Jericho uses a table as a projectile and it's obvious the fans don't give *that* much of a shit about watching two Canadian white guys pummel each other with furniture. Omega double stomps one of those absurdly skinny Japanese buffet tables while it's draped over Jericho's body. Jericho suplexes Omega over the guardrail. Wait, why are they doing a count-out if it's a No DQ match? Omega with stiff forearms, as opposed to the flaccid kind. Jericho dropkicks Omega on the knee as he goes for a springboard. Jericho pulls out one of those mini-tables and calls Masahiro Chono a "fuckface" while he sets it up. Jericho powerbombs Omega, but not through the furniture. Ah - good old Chekov's Table ... surely, we won't be seeing THAT coming into play later on in the match. Jericho grabs a camera and takes a few photos of Omega stumbling to his feet and himelf flipping off the audience. LOL at Cyrus for praising Jericho's "streetfighting" skills he learned on the mean alleys and backlots of Winnipeg. Jericho lands a missile dropkick off the turnbuckle. It's only good for a two. Omega throwing slaps and chops now but Jericho drops him with an elbow and a Lionsault. Of course, it only nets him a dos. Then he does the cocky pose pin straight out WWF No Mercy on the N64, only to have Omega rebound and Frankensteiner his ass to the outside. And there's Omega with his Terminator plancha thingy. Omega lands a high-elevation bulldog. Just a two. He follows it up with that funky shoulder-breaker-over-the-knee-neckbreaker. Omega counters a Walls of Jericho attempt into the V Trigger. Then Jericho counters the snap dragon suplex into the WOJ in the middle of the ring, all the while spouting random old-school catchphrases like "assclown" that are totally devoid of context. Then Omega grabs a can of spray paint from underneath the ring and blast Jericho in the eyes, and then Omega chromes his own ballsack to the audience's roaring approval. Omega gets dropped face first into a chair int he corner while Jericho demands the ring boys bring him a towel to clean his face off. Jericho makes Omega eat chair in the turnbuckle again, and we all LOL at Kevin Kelly constantly referring to it as "a table." Now Jericho's doing the old Hulk Hogan ear-cupping pose. And Omega is slammed into the chair one more time, for good measure. Omega juices, but it's not that much. Omega hits a really shitty snap dragon suplex where he just kinda' falls backwards on Jericho. Omega with a wheel kick and he goes for the One Winged Angel. Jericho escapes, but not before he gets hit with another snap dragon suplex. Then Jericho retrieves a steel chair and just WAFFLES that motherfucker. Cyrus with the line of the night: "Look at Omega! He's bleeding buckets ... of blood!" Jericho uses the frame of the broken chair to pound on Omega some more. Well, I guess it makes sense that Jericho dedicated this match to Chris Benoit, since he seems hell bent on giving Omega a traumatic brain injury, too. Jericho goes up top and Omega gets the chair kneed into his face. Then Omega lands another running knee and, sure as sugar, Jericho plummets off the top onto Chekov's Table below. Told you we'd be seeing that shit again, didn't I? Omega drags Jericho back into the ring and hits him with several more V Triggers, but Jericho kicks out of the modified Tiger Driver. Hell, why not land one more V Trigger, while we're at it? Omega goes for the OWA, but Jericho reverses it into the WOJ. AND THEN HE TURNS IT INTO THE LIONTAMER. FUCK YES. Omega gets to the rope, and Jericho lets go of the hold - even though it's a NO DQ match and he didn't have to. Hooray for in-ring psychology! Jericho goes for the Codebreaker, but Omega shucks him off and spams the V Trigger some more. Omega finally lands the One Wing Angel, but Jericho grabs the bottom rope to break the pin attempt. Wait - if it's a NO DQ match, why does that shit count? Goddamn, what inconsistency. Omega goes up top and Jericho crotches him. Jericho goes for a Frankensteiner, but Omega Snake Eyes him on the turnbuckle. Omega with more chops and knees and Jericho lands the Codebreaker on the rebound. Omega, of course, kicks out. Jericho grabs a chair and lays it over Omega's chest. Jericho goes for the Lionsault, but Omega grabs him and hits the One Winged Angel on top of the chair Jericho just dropped to score the 1,2,3. And not at all overselling ANYTHING, Kelly says tonight proves that all of Omega's critics need to "jump straight to hell," because they don't know "what the eff they're talking about." 

Meltzer's Rating: *****

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: That was a fun, churched-up garbage match with a lot of really neat spots. Of course, the whole rule set inconsistencies took a lot of wind out of its proverbial sails, and there was more than one striking exchange that had me thinking "are these motherfuckers trying to play patty-cake?" but on the whole it was pretty enjoyable. Granted, I think we ALL would've preferred seeing them go at it in a straight wrestling match, but there's still no denying the root entertainment of the soiree. An all-time classic, it ain't, but it's undoubtedly a fun as hell half hour tilt.

Jan. 04, 2018
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito (New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12)

Yep, Naito is over as fuck, even if he does have the stupidest entrance gear I've ever seen in my life. I mean, what the fuck is he supposed to be, Tony Montana from Scarface in a Dracula cape wearing a Donnie Darko rabbit mask? I notice there are a lot of American spectators in the crowd, and yep, they all look like straight up soy boys - not that we expected anything less, naturally. And fuck, here I was getting excited this was the Japanese feed when all of a sudden Kevin Kelly's hermaphrodite ass starts flapping his pud suckers. Okada's reception is every bit as big as Naito's, if not even bigger. Of course, Gedo is trailing him, looking like a Japanese Duck Dynasty cosplayer. There is this great shot where Okada is standing on the top rope showboating and you have Naito in the foreground just doing everything he can to NOT look like he's emotional and it's all great and humanistic and whatnot. Now THAT is how you build drama - subtly. Oh fuck, Okada is wearing long pants for this 'un. Man, I haven't seen a crowd this hot in Japan since Nagasaki in August 1945! Both men taking their sweet team getting this thing going. I do like how Kevin Kelly brings up both men's win-loss record in New Japan last year - it makes this shit sound halfway legitimate. Anyhoo, Naito kicks Okada in the gut after an otherwise clean rope break and Okada whiffs on a senton. And, of course, Naito does that stupid ass Playboy pose in the middle of the ring and I'm pissed plenty Okada didn't just start stompin' his ass like Minoru Suzuki did that one time. Naito circles around the ring while Kevin Kelly talks about bet makers putting the over/under for this match at five stars. Yes, people are betting on what they think Dave Meltzer's opinion might be. Goddamn, some people really DO have gambling problems. We get our first big spot of the match as Okada dropkicks Naito off the top rope to the floor below. Naito gets whipped into the guard rail and kicked in the face fuckin' hard by Okada. And there's Naito with  jaw jacker and a neckbreaker on top of the guardrail. Hey, did you know the IWGP title hasn't changed hands on Jan. 04 in over seven years? Yeah, no spoilers or nothing there. Naito hits another neckbreaker on Okada and follows suit with a missile dropkick. Now he's elbowing dafuq out of Okada's shoulders. Hey, psychology, ya'll! The fans boo Naito after he spits on Okada. "Gedo would probably keep the spit and try to sell it - what a shyster," Cyrus coments. And yeah, I know his name is Don Callis, but fuck it, he'll ALWAYS be the dude sent from the Network to fuck up ECW on TNN to me. Naito works a weird neck crank submission. There's probably a proper name for it, but eh - you can Google it on your own time. Okada finally gets some offense in with a spike DDT. He sends Naito reeling to the outside after a flying elbow smash. Okada literally runs around the circumference of the ring to punt Naito on the face. And in our "most dated pop cultural reference of the night" award winner, Cyrus compares Okada's speed to, of all people, Carl Lewis. Yeah, the guy from the friggin' 1984 Olympics. Anyway, Okada hits a guardrail-assisted DDT on Naito and rolls him back into the ring. Naito uses the ropes to land an inverted DDT. Or a modified neckbreaker - I guess it depends on your perspective. The follow-up, regular-style inverted DDT nets Naito only two. Okada flapjacks Naito and connects on his over-the-shoulder cradle neckbreaker-on-the-knee thing-a-ma-jigger. Okada hits a top rope elbow drop, the camera pans out and it's ~RAINMAKER TIME! Which, of course, means Naito is going to counter it into a Destino attempt, but Okada counters THAT into a Cobra Clutch before transitioning it into a half-wing neck crank. Naito keeps trying to Judo roll his way out, but it ain't happening. He struggles and FINALLY gets to the ropes to break the hold. Man - Gedo's English is surprisingly good. He sounds just like he could be some raspy-voiced Nickelback roadie or something. Naito lands another top rope neckbreaker, sets Okada on the turbuckle and lands his bitchin' reverse Frankensteiner. But it's only worth a two count. Naito lands Gloria, but he misses on the 450 attempt. Both men are struggling to get to their feet and the audience is losing their collective shit. Naito with a forearm smash. Okada returns the favor. Now it's slug fest city. Hey, they do faux hockey brawl style even better than Jericho and Omega! Okada hits a missile dropkick and Naito responds with a flying forearm. LOL at Cyrus calling Naito's spinning crescent kick a "Pele kick." Naito sets Okada on the top rope. They take turn punching each other and feigning falling off and eventually Naito DOES fall off and Okada whiffs on the missile dropkick attempt. Naito goes up top, but Okada grabs him and gut wrench Germans that motherfucker RIGHT ON HIS HEAD. Okada whiffs on the first Rainmaker, but he nails the second one. Naito - of course - kicks out. Okada scoops up Naito for a Tombstone and Naito sneaks his way out. Naito misses the enziguri and Okada goes back to the neck wrench submission, which Naito counters into the Destino. Both men are flat on their back and taking their sweet, sweet time getting back up. LOL, it looks like Okada is taking a nap on Naito's butthole as they throw winded punches at each other on their knees. Alright, they are both vertical now, and after exchanging forearms, Naito slaps the TASTE out of Okada's mouth. Naito lands a headscissors takedown but can't get the pin. He goes for Destino and Okada counters it with the Rainmaker, and oh shit, that Japanese nigga's got WRIST CONTROL. Okada whiffs on the Rainmaker, Naito hits DESTINO but Okada kicks out. I'll give 'em this - this is some highly dramatic shit right here. Naito goes for Destino again, but Okada blocks it with a European uppercut. Naito hits another spinning crescent kick and Okada responds with a BEAUTIFUL missile dropckick off the ropes. Okada hits the Tombstone, he goes for the Rainmaker, but Naito counters with the Destino, but Okada no sells it and hits Naito with a spinning piledriver and one more Rainmaker to FINALLY get the pinfall.

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

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: Yeah, this was a hell of a match, but it's still one with some noticeable flaws. The ending stretch was goddamn tremendous, but the first 20 minutes of this match took a really long time to get engaging. That, and there seems to have been an abnormally high number of dead spots for a New Japan main event - I mean, I'm guessing at least eight minutes of the 40 minute match was JUST Okada and Naito laying down, or Naito ambling around the ring, or the two just circling each other without doing nothing. That said, you can't deny the last ten minutes of this thing was thrilling as fuck, with the roof of the Tokyo Dome about to fly off in the last three. As a marquee bout, it delivered, although I consider it a noticeable step down in overall quality from the last three or four Jan. 04 main events.

Jan. 19, 2018
Gran Guerrero vs. Niebla Rosa (New Japan/CMLL Fantastica Mania 2018 - Day 6)

This is for the CMLL Light Heavyweight title. Guerrero comes out in a ceremonial Aztec headdress. Man, wouldn't it be funny as fuck if he wore that the whole match? Meanwhile, Niebla is  dude wearing red underwear, a Power Rangers mask and lugging a plastic version of He-Man's sword. Hey, isn't He-Man's name en Espanol technically El-Hombre? That sounds cool as fuck, actually. Nibela takes off his mask and poses with the title with a couple of other luchadors. He looks like Judd Nelson, and that makes me chuckle a hearty chuckle. Since neither of these guys are Japanese, the crowd has no idea who to root for. But the opening handshake does get a loud ovation, probably because the attendees had no idea Mexicans knew how to do it. Guerrero locks in a nasty arm lock early and he keeps flipping Rosa around with breaking the knuckle lock. The two do some more flippy shit until we get our requisite standstill. Rosa hits a great flying body press then he fucks up a hurrancanranna. Then, in one of the most awesome spots you'll see all year, Rosa goes for a swanton to the outside and Guerrero grabs him at the last possible second and power bombs the fucker right then and there on the concrete floor. Guerrero drops Rosa with a dropkick, the he sliding baseball kicks that asshole out of the ring. Time for the cannonball splash to the outside. LOL at the announcer calling the countout in Spanish and literally fucking up every number. Guerrero with a billion slaps and stomps in the corner. Rosa hits a nice discus elbow and follows it up with a sweet looking suicide flip to the outside. Rosa with another great looking cross body. Rosa lands a spinning Canadian ... err, Mexican Destroyer, but it's only worth a two count. Niebla flapjacks Guerrero and fuckin' dropkicks him on the way down and it looks downright dope. Rosa goes for  moonsault, but Guerrero gets his knees up. Gran shakes off a flying headscissors attempt and damn near Rock Bottoms Rosa out of his boots. Gran hits this twisty, convoluted suplex-into-a-DDT thing, but it only registers a two count. Rosa drop kicks Gran out of the ring again and then he gets about ten feet in the air on the follow-up flying plancha. Guerrero splashes Rosa in the corner twice, then Rosa spinning elbows Gran twice. Rosa goes for a top rope Frankensteiner, Gran tries to counter it into a power bomb, but then Rosa reverses it and LANDS the hurrancanranna, but yeah, it's only worth a two count. Then Gran goes up top and hits Niebla with a fucking face-first TOP ROPE inverted powerbomb and it looks hurty as a motherfucker. But yeah, that's only worth a two, as well. Rosa slingshots Gran and locks him up in the old Pendulum of Pain that Julio Dinero used to do in ECW. Then holy fuck, Gran kills Niebla DEAD with a top rope Michinoku Driver. But since these guys are playing with cheat codes turned on, even THAT is only good enough for a two. Rosa goes up top again and hits Gran with the same inverted face first power bomb Guerrero hit him with earlier, but apparently he put a little more English on it 'cause this time it was able to keep Gran down for the three count.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: Really, really fun stuff right here. Fantastica Mania has always been booked as the fusion of New Japan and CMLL style, but holy shit, for once this match felt like it was precisely that. You had all the cool aerial dynamism of your top-tier lucha libre (plus all the over the top tosses and swings) AND the sweet goddamn brutality of watching people drop one another on their necks  and land face first on concrete after four and half seconds of hang-time off the top rope. These two guys can just plain go, and I'd love to see 'em go at it in a longer bout ... soon, please.

Jan. 27, 2018
Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia)

People on the message boards are already calling this the "2018 MOTY" and the "best NXT match EVER," and the IWC never, EVER OVERRATES ANYTHING, so surely, this thing will more than live up the 'rasslin nerd hype, right? A whole buncha' Mariachi singers in bondage masks come out to serenade Almas, who wears a traditional lucha libre mask and a jacket displaying the colors of Mexico (and also Italy, by that's purely coincidental.) His valet is this caliente little brown number - suffice to say, I wouldn't mind building a wall around HER, if you get my drift. No, wait, that sounded like I wanted to abduct her and place her used up corpse inside a crawlspace or something, which is DEFINITELY not what I intended. By the way, Almas used to wrestle as La Sombra in CMLL, and his extended family includes all sorts of famous luchadors, including no less than TWO Espanto, Juniors. Strangely, the champion comes out first this evening. Gargano - who looks like UFC has-been Jon Fitch and has theme music that sounds like a B-side from a 2007 Paramore album comes to the ring wearing this weird leather vest thingy. Oh, and his logo is a a goofy winking smiley face. Oh, and he's about half the size of the rich Mexican dude, so there's that, too.  Basically, they're booking this as Rock Balboa vs. Apollo Creed I, with Gargano blowing the scrub from nowheresville and Almas playing the flashy but overconfident defending champ. We get some psuedo-shoot style mat scrambling to begin. Time for a wristlock exchange. Almas with a series of headlocks and it's time for more faux grappling. Mauro compares Gargano to Bryan Danielson - hope that doesn't mean their CT scans look alike. Almas with some hard knees and Gargano hits a standing dropkick and an arm drag. Now he's wrenching the arm. Almas with some elbows and a fat karate chop to send his opponent to the mat like a turd tossed off the Chrysler Building. Gargano kicks Almas in the face but he crashes and burns on the senton to the outside. Gargano's wife is some generic blonde chick who is also a wrestler for NXT but since I don't regularly watch the product I have no idea who the hell or what she is. Almas with a boot to the face, followed by a sleeperhold. Huh, Gargano does look a lot like CM Punk, the more I gawp at him. Johny gets back to his feet and lands a seated roundhouse kick on Almas. Gargano's caught in the Tree of Woe, but he somehow misses the double stomp and Gargano belly to back 'plexes that Mexican motherfucker into the ringpost. Here comes Gargano with elbows in bunches. Gargano lands this spinning STO thing off the top rope - it looked, uh, iffy, to say the least. The facebuster, regardless, only gets a two-count. Gargano hits a slingshot spear, but Almas kicks out at two. Almas counters a headscissors takedown into an inverted, face-first powerbomb. Almas goes up top and lands a standing moonsault after the first moonsault don't cut it. Just a two-count. Almas with more elbows. Gargano gets dropped with a spinning elbow. Gargano ripostes with a super kick. Just a two. They slap one another and both fall down at the same time. Well, that DIDN'T look choreographed as all hell or anything like that. Mauro makes a joke about Siri that makes no goddamn sense in any kind of context we humans are used to. Gargano super kicks Almas while he's on the top rope. Gargano goes for a sunset flip powerbomb, but Almas flips out of it and knees Gargano in the face. He goes for a second rushing knee strike but Gargano moves out of the way. He goes for the slingshot spear but Almas catches him and winds up hitting an inverted tornado DDT off the top rope. But he only gets a two. "The is what the black and yellow brand is all about," Mauro states. Both men slow getting to their feet. Almas goes for a hammerlock DDT. Gargano escapes and hits a slingshot DDT ON the apron. Gargano rolls Almas back in the ring. Of course Almas kicks out. Almas with a jawbreaker and a back elbow smash. Gargano hits a lariat and lawn darts Almas into the turnpost. Almas dropkicks Gargano into the turnpost while his bitch distracts Gargano, but Gargano manages to hook in a schoolboy for a two-count. Gargano with a superkick, but Almas kicks out AGAIN. Gargano has a busted lip. He climbs up the top rope and Almas grabs his leg. Almas climbs up top and hits the double stomp, as Gargano spills to the floor below. Almas keeps slamming Gargano's back against the ring while Gargano has a look on his face like he just swallowed a Hot Wheel. LOL at Mauro trying to IMPLY Gargano has a head injury without coming out and just saying it in plain Englihs. Almas lands another rushing knee strike but Gargano kicks out. And he still looks dazed as a motherfucker. Give him some credit on his acting skills there. Gargano has thrown three punches that have missed by miles but Almas sells them anyway. Gargano superkicks Almas and hits a reverse Frankensteiner, and locks in the Gargano Escape submission. Almas rakes Gargano's eyes while his valet distracts the ref. Gargano dumps Almas over the top rope and bulldogs him into the guardrail barrier. Then Almas' bitch hurrancanrannas Gargano into the metal steps. Gargano goes for the hammerlock DDT and he gets it - but ALMAS KICKS OUT. Gargano rolls to the outside and his wife jumps over the barrier and starts beating the SHIT out of Almas' bitch and it is fantastic. Gargano slowly starts climbing back into the ring. He lands the slingshot DDT, and Almas kicks out. He locks in the Gargano Escape again but Almas gets his foot on the bottom rope. Goddamn, listening to Mauro say Gargano wants to soar high like a "Philadelphia Eagle" is just pandering of the worst caliber. Almas shoves Gargano into the ringpost and lands one more running knee strike right into Gargano's face. The ref asks him if he wants him to stop the match, but he says nothing. Almas is looking for a TOP ROPE hammerlock DDT now. He has it, and THAT's what scores him the three count. 

Meltzer's Rating: *****

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: Yeah, that was a GREAT fucking match right there. I still think it's nutty to give it a "perfect" score like the Meltz did, but this was certainly some of the best pure, mat-driven story-telling the 'E has given us in a long time. Everything just clicked tonight, and everything had that hard-to-describe big time feel that all of the truly great "event matches" of the like convey. From Almas coming out in the La Sombra mask to Gargano's bitch making the save to the great final five minute stretch, this thing was just a delight from start to finish. For once, the IWC is right about something - this match does freakin' rule, and you owe it to yourself as a (post?)modern wrestling fan to give it a look-see.

This is how much Dick Togo cares about your feelings.


Feb. 04, 2018
Fuerza Guerrera vs. Demus 3:16 (Innova Aztec Power)

Demus looks like a cross between King Diamond, Smash from Demolition and the fattest Hispanic employee at your local Burger King. Fuerza comes out looking like the most generic luchador you've ever seen in your life, albeit with a snazzy Kurt Angle-like amateur wrestling singlet. I'm pretty sure they're wrestling in a high school gym somewhere, because there are LITERALLY prom decorations all over the place. LOL at the two wrestlers spending the first two minutes of the match just yelling at people taking pictures of them ringside. We get your standard old fat guy lockup to begin. Fuerza with a hammerlock as Demus screams like he's being rectally probed by Edward Scissorhands. Demus with  the fattest clothesline you've ever seen in your life that Fuerza sells even though he missed him by three ZIP codes. Time for some crowd brawling! Demus launches Fuerza into the blue chairs you used to have in your middle school back in the day  while people put their cell phones right in their faces while they're headbutting one another and calling each others' mothers "whores" en Espanol. OH MY GOD DEMUS JUST HIT FUERZA WITH A BAG OF PORK RINDS. Back in the ring and Demus is ripping at Fuerza's mask. Now he's biting that motherfucker like some kind of morbidly obese Mexican ghoul. For some reason, there's a fuckin' Christmas tree in the background. Yep, for a match that happened in February. Fuerza with the slowest, fattest lariat in recorded human history. Demus puts a metal folding chair in the corner, and of course, he winds up getting sailed into it noggin first. Fuerza tosses it at Demus' skull one more time, just for good measure. Then he sets it up in the ring and throws Demus at it, but his head doesn't get anywhere close to connecting with it. More crowd brawling, complete with Demus completely wiping out this one dude recording the match with a cell phone. Now Demus is bleedling like a stuck pig. Demus rips open Fuerza's mask and now he's biting his forehead. Blood's gushing everywhere now, and you just KNOW at least one janitor's going to wind up getting hepatitis tonight. Holy fuck, there's a dude wearing a Bullet Club shirt in the crowd. Since when did Mexico have smarks? I thought they literally worshipped El Santo and shit. Now Demus is trying to crush Fuerza's windpipe with a chair and there's blood and shit flying everywhere and all the people in the crowd keepin sticking their phones RIGHT into their open wounds and its the most Mexican thing I've ever seen in my life. Demus with a fat boy roll into the corner and Fuerza gets one hamhock up to break the pin attempt. Fuerza kicks Demus in the stomach then Demus hits Fuerza right in his bright blue testicles. Fuerza locks in a Camel Clutch, Demus escapes goes for a school boy (just like Michael Jackson would've) but it's only good for a two count. Fuerza connects with a clothesline and an elbow drop, but Demus kicks out. Demus goes for some sort of running shoulder press or something but Fuerza just shucks him off and they take turns slapping each other's big brown titties. Then Fuerza punches Demus fucking hard, locks in a dope looking modified Boston Crab (err, Guadalajaran Lobster?) and that's what gets him the tap.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: Well, that was delightfully scummy. We've seen some fucking FANTASTIC dirt league lucha brawls out of Mexico the last couple of years (last year's L.A. Park/Rush bloodbath being one of my favorites of the decade), but this one just didn't live up to its lofty aspirations. The brawling was nice and it did give you a pretty fun sense of haphazard, "we don't give a fuck if these people get concussions" sleaze, but at the end of the day? It's still nothing you haven't seen before, only better. Check it out if you really want to see fat Mexicans bleed, but everybody else can probably skip it and still life an otherwise fruitful and prosperous existence.

Feb. 08, 2018
Daisuke Masaoka & Yuko Miyamoto (666) vs. Jun Kasai & Kenji Fukimoto (FREEDOMS Freedom Valentine 2018)

Yep, it's damn near a week before Valentine's Day, but that didn't stop those wacky Japs at FREEDOMS from naming their event after the holiday anyway.Anyhoo, this is a "Flourescent Light Tube and TLC Death Match," so you just know this shit is going to be bonkers. The four begin by setting up four chairs, circle jerk style, except instead of masturbating each other, they take turns making clockwork punches. By the way, Kenji botches before the match even begins when his chair explodes underneath his tremendous fatness. Kenji swings himself into some light tubes and no sells it, hitting a double clotheslines on the rebound. Time for some crowd brawling, but it's so dark you can't see shit. We've got two different brawls going on on both sides of the ring. Kasia hits Daisuke with a piledriver on the entrance ramp. Kasai puts an aluminum can in the middle of the mat and body slams Daisuke on it. Then Daisuke eats table. Repeatedly. Kenji gets the tag and he immediately grabs a light tube and cracks it over Daisuke's head and then he starts EATING IT. Kenji carves open Daisuke's head with the chewed up tube and throws him back first into the assortment of lighting aids set up against the ropes. Yuko and Daisuke with stereo shoulder blocks. Now Yuko is spitting glass at Kenji's face. God, I can only imagine the kinds of germs going on there. Daisuke rocks Kenji with a couple of more tube shots and does some more carvin'. Yuko gets the tag. He stuffs a tube down Kenji's shirt and punches him on the back to make it explode. Daisuke bodyslams Kenji, lays some tubes on his chest and makes 'em pop with a body splash off the top rope. Kenji ripostes with a tilt-a-whirl slam. Kasai gets the tag. He clobbers Daisuke with a chair and clotheslines Yuko right out of his shoes. BTW, goddamn do I love Kasai's slasher-themed wrestling pants. Jun suplexes Daisuke on a chair, but it only gets him a two-count.Then Kasai holds a giant light tube between his legs and strokes it like a penis. Body splash in the corner, then Jun fly swatters Daisuke into the humongous bulb. Yuko is tagged in. He baseball slides Jun a couple of times, clotheslines him and hits a standing moonsault no 58-year-old man should ever be able to land. Then he grabs a ladder and Kasai back body drops him onto it. Kenji is back in there and he drops Yuko with a back body suplex. Yuko with a springboard elbow that looked as good as Muta's back in the day and Daisuke dropkicks a bundle of tubes into Kenji's face. Kasai breaks up a pin attempt and Daisuke gets another ladder. Some helpers old on to the ladder (like four of them) as Kenji climbs the six foot aluminum object. Daisuke superplexes him, only for Kasai to re-enter the fray and clotheslines that motherfucker like a motherfucker. He lays a bundle of tubes on his splayed out body, puts on his goggles and lands his paented frog splash. Yuko and Kasai brawl on the edge of the mat and Yuko piledrives his foe through one of this hilariously skinny tables on the show floor below. Daisuke and Kenji exchange blows back in the ring, with Daisuke headbutting the bulb into Kenji's face. He goes up top, misses on a stomp and Kenji hits a FAT sitout powerbomb, but it's only worth a two. I'd have to say we've busted 100 light tubes at this point in the match, easily. Kenji lands a package piledriver on a pile of bulbs and THAT is all she wrote, folks.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: Talk about a guilty pleasure match right here. These days its pretty easy to put on an underwhelming, paint-by-numbers garbage-match spot-fest, and while this match did fall into those trapping a bit, the pace was so good and there was enough actual wrestling (or at least shit that kinda' sorta' looked like actual wrestling) that it came out way more enjoyable than it probably should've. If Jun Kasai doesn't end up on some kind of Yen note when he dies, I think the Japs ought to be plum ashamed of themselves.

Feb. 08, 2018
Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb (Major League Wrestling Road to the World Championship)

I've been hearing a lot of good things about MLW over the years, and I figured this was as good a place as any to introduce myself to their shenanigans. Jeff Cobb is basically a white Samoa Joe, and Matt Riddle - yes, the UFC fighter - looks like Urijh Faber, except even douchier. And holy shit, TONY SCHIAVONE is one of the announcers! Well, that's a pleasant surprise. We get some pseudo-chain wrestling to begin followed by a standstill so the crowd can cheer. Shit, I think this actually IS a bigger crowd than most NXT shows these days. Riddle looks for a single leg takedown. He's got it, but Cobb counters it into a waistlock. Oh shit, Wikipedia says Cobb is a REAL amateur wrestler from Guam. How about that. Riddle says "he's not that kind of bro" for some reason. Riddle works for an armbar. So this is basically the American version of Battlarts, basically. I can dig it. Cobb with a nice fireman's carry takedown. Riddle works for a waistlock and he tosses Cobb to the Matt. OK, I am really digging this style of fake shoot-style already. Cobb with a spinning takedown and he flings Riddle halfway across the ring like a blonde haired bitch. AKA, himself. Here comes Riddle with open-hand slaps and shitty kicks in the corner. And there's a series of great running forearms. And Cobb fucking SLINGS Riddle a good six feet in the air on a belly to back 'plex. Cobb with some HARD mini-clotheslines in the corner. Cobb with an evil looking snap suplex. Cobb with a waistlock. Cobb ball-and-chains Riddle and launches his ass halfway across the ring again. Yeah, this stuff is just groovy with me. Cobb with forearm shots and a goddamn awesome looking gutwrench suplex. Cobb Germans Riddle and clotheslines the douche out of him on the rebound. Cobb goes for a running uppercut and Riddle counters with an attempted rear naked choke. Cobb makes it to the ropes and Riddle immediately Germans that Pacific Islander motherfucker. There's Riddle with his "Bro 2 Sleep" finisher and a briding German, but Cobb somehow kicks out. Riddle with a soccer kick to the back and a senton. Riddle looking for a gutwrench suplex of his own. He lands it. Riddle with more soccer kiks to the sternum. He rubs his foot on Cobb's face in the corner. Riddle with a knee to the solar plexus. Cobb with a clotheslines and Riddle with a NASTY head kick and a high knee. Riddle botches a Pele and Cobb GERMANS that fucker for his showboating. There's Cobb with another spinning back body drop. Cobb lands a dropkick while Riddle is perched on the top rope. Cobb looking for a superplex, and he lands it. And that's the first time that move's looked like a finisher since 1985. Riddle, uh, Riddles Up, I guess and it's time to exchange slaps. Riddle looking for a kimura. Then he lands another nasty knee and a goodamn POWERBOMB plus another knee to the face for the three-count.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: OK, that was fucking tremendous and EXACTLY the kind of thing I'm looking for as a wrestling fan in this, the post cord-cutter era. Finally, a promotion has gotten away from the standard ROH/New Japan/NXT/PWG paint-by-numbers formula to give us something that isn't exactly 100 percent new, but new enough (and presented well enough) to represent a welcome change of pace from 'rasslin as usual. Somewhere between Pancrase, Pride and WCW circa' 1993 is where this kind of bout resides ... and that sure as hell ain't a bad place to be whatsoever. Great storytelling, great pacing, high production values, great in-ring psychology ... methinks I'll be watching a LOT more of this MLW stuff in the near future.

Feb. 08, 2018
Darby Allin vs. Sami Callihan (Major League Wresling Road to the World Championship)

This is a "grudge match," which means expects all sorts of garbagey bullshit over the next 20 minutes. Darby Allin (I'm assuming that name is a portmanteau of Darby Crash from The Germs and G.G. Allin) and Tony S. blows my fucking mind when he compares him to something out of "The Watchmen." Also, I think his music is done by ICP, and his ring gear makes him look like the Invisible Man — or, as Schiavone put it, "something that walked out of a nuclear silo." Meanwhile, Sami is a fat dude wearing a muzzle who comes out to the slowest, fattest music you'll ever hear in your life. Speaking of fat, you have to see this one dude in the front row wearing a Pantera shirt. That motherfucker has to qualify as his own congressional district. Darby spits in Crash's face and Sami likes it and I'm just like "oh shit, I accidentally stumbled onto gay porn." Sami lands a big, fat, fat-person clothesline and follows it up with a move that isn't so much a plancha is it is hi just falling through the ropes. God damn, there are about a billion fat dudes in the crowd. Darby with a suicide dive that looks considerably better than Sami's. Now they are throwing chairs at each other, but they're not metal, they're plastic, so that kinda negates the visual impact. More crowd-brawling and Sami T-bone suplexes Darby. Then a fan gives him a banana and he crams it down Darby's throat. "Well, they are a good source of potassium," Tony S. remarks. Holy shit, shoot-Schiavone fucking rules this world. Sami throws Darby into "the technical area" and this one chick in a blue wig just looks at  him like "this is the worst first date of my life, and I've been date raped before." LOL, even the cameraman is a morbidly obese piece of shit. "This is exactly what a grudge match should be," Tony S. says. Huh, I didn't know grudge matches were supposed to suck like a whore with a mortgage. Darby lands this weird Osaka Street Cutter variation and Sami tosses him off the top rope as the fans chant "holy shit" like that was even remotely noteworthy. More plastic chairs enter the fray. There's actually a guy in the audience with a Shane Douglas T-shirt on, if you can believe it. Sami hocks a loogie on his hand and slaps Darby with it. OK, that was the first thing in the match that I'd actually consider "gruesome." Callihan with a big boot to the face. Allin with a corskscrew elbow drop. Then Sami fucking creams Darby with a shoulder breaker on the chair. Sami conks Darby over the legs with another chair. Allin goes for a choke, then he does some twist shit leading to a Canadian Destroyer, that these indie fucks don't even bother selling anymore. Sami lands a thick ass clothesline and Darby does a full 360 on the followthrough. Both men have chairs now. Then Darby throws his chair down and dropkicks Sami. Now Darby is setting a table up. Callihan clobbers Darby with another chair (yawn) and they take turns elbowing each other in the face and then Sami piledrives Darby through that flimsy ass table but Allin kicks out at two. Then Sami wraps electrical tape around Darby's wrists (no doubt for some S&M water sports) and Callihan spits on Darby again and Jimmy Havoc clotheslines Sami. Then Darby climbs the top rope and hits a butt drop off the top rope for the pinfall ... with his hands still tied. Then Joey Janela runs into the ring, hits Darby over the head and smokes in the ring while crappy music somebody probably made on AudioSauna two hours before the match.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/4

The Verdict: Eh, that match was mostly shit, albeit with a better-than-expected finish. Pretty much every criticism you can lob at any indie scumfuck garbage 'rasslin match in the year 2018, this bout probably contains at least two or three examples of each. Oh well ... getting to hear a clearly not giving a fuck Tony S. shoot his way through the commentary almost makes it worth going out of your way to witness, anyway.

Feb. 10, 2018
Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW: The New Beginning in Osaka)

Do both of these motherfuckers have the gimmick of being animalkin? Goddamn, this shit is the epitome of SOY. Anyhoo, we waste no time at ALL before the hippy flippy dippy shit starts happening, complete with Will doing a moonsault to the outside only to get release German suplexed to the (padded) show floor. Also: Hiromu looks JUST LIKE a Japanese Matt Hardy. Will gets belly-to-back suplexed into the guardrail HARD. Back in the ring, Takahashi makes Will smell his kneecap. Chops, dropkicks and forearm smashes en masse. Wait ... are those vegetables airbrushed on Takahashi's pants? Man ... I don't even feel like asking questions anymore. Hiromu works a leg triangle. Shit, I hate how loud Will screams when he gets hit. Dude sounds just like a bitch getting chased around by Michael Myers. Hiromu with a jaw jacker, an elbow smash, and an enzuigiri. He uses the guardrail to land a phenomenal forearm on Hiromu. Osperay does a twisting corkscrew elbow leaping off the top rope and it doesn't even connect anywhere near Hiromu. Two-count, naturally. Hiromu with a powerbomb and a twisting neckbreaker thing that Will doesn't even bother selling. Ospreay eats a German following the dreaded springboard elbow smash, with the even more dreaded theatrics. Ref bump, Ospreay gets clotheslined and Hiromu hits Will with a sunset flip powerbomb over the top rope. Hiromu lands a flying ass to the face and then he does, uh, some kind of twisting shoulderbreaker thing on Will for a two-count. Will Ospreay lands a kick and then Hiromu makes that motherfucker do a full 360 on the follow-through clothesline. Will tries to give Hiromu an electric flyswatter off the top rope but he fucks it up and it's supposed to look like he gives Hiromu a midair German on top of the turnbuckle, but Hiromu's head doesn't get anywhere close to the post. Will lands his inverted tumbleweed off the top but Hiromu kicks out at two. Will with a needless twisty kick, he does a handspring off the ropes and Hiromu hits him with a reverse neckbreaker. Yep. They trade elbows while on their knees. Then Hiromu lands a combo right out of Virtua Fighter and then Hiromu starts bitch slapping Will all over his chest. Will with a reverse Frankensteiner, but Hiromu kicks out at one. They take turns no selling spin kicks to the face and Hiromu hits a Canadian Destroyer in mid-air that not only murder-death-kills kayfabe but completely violates the law of Newtonian physics. Will with a release German, then Hiromu hits another release German, and then they run into each other and do a fucking 360 tumbleweed while hugging for no reason whatsoever and Will goes up top for a 720 head slap then he lands a needlessly complicated backbreaker variation and then he lands that shitty "Lethal Injection" ripoff and THAT's what gets him the W. 

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

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: I'm sorry, but Meltzer is a goddamn idiot if he thinks this is anywhere close to a five-star match. This stuff isn't even a "spot-fest," it's a goddamn choregraphed stunt show that's more comparable to parkour than the proletariat art form of pro rasslin'. There were several moments in the match where I had no idea who was receiving a move and who was landing it, and hot shit, do both of these guys need work making their strikes look even halfway authentic. Unless you have a gaijan twink fetish and secretly use these matches for furtive masturbatory fodder, I can't think of a single reason why ANYBODY should go out of their way to watch this over-hyped bullshit. 

Feb. 10, 2018
Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA (NJPW: The New Beginning in Osaka)

SANADA's ring gear - with that rhino skeleton mask and pseudo punkabilly vest - is either the coolest get-up in wrestling or the absolute gayest. Okada doesn't really get the huge ovation like you'd expect him to receive. Hmm - are the Japanese faithful finally sick of him?  Also, I should probably note SANADA's no-doubt rooster-inspired mohawk, which looks all kinds of the year 2000 up in this bitch. They sprawl and do some pseudo amateur style wrestling to begin. Hey, Gedo, isn't in Okada's corner, for some reason. Hope you like standing arm wrenches, because these two fuckers are all about 'em. SANADA does a whole bunch of needlessly flippy shit to get out of an armdrag and we have a stalemate. Cue politeful clapping from the audience. We're about five minutes into this thing and pretty much the only offensive manuevers have been wristlock variations. SANADA clocks Okada, and then Okada punches SANADA right in the fucking face on a springboard attempt and we all LOL. SANADA rams Okada into the ringpost and then he shucks him off the apron onto the guard rail, face first. Okada rolls back in and SANADA immediately throws him out of the ring again. He takes Okada up the ramp and hits him with a really shitty-looking fallaway piledriver where Okada's head doesn't even come close to connecting with the stage. SANADA works a neck wrench when Okada re-enters the ring. SANADA drops him with an elbow and lands a great looking standing moonsault. SANADA with a chinlock, and Okada elbows his way out. SANADA hits a sliding dropkick and follows it up with a considerably better looking piledriver from the first 'un. And that's our cue for more hot NECK CRANK ACTION. Okada hits a flap jack and does a kip up. Then he hits SANADA with a billion forearm smashes before DDT-ing that bitch ass Japanese 'nigga. Then he goes up top, only for SANADA to launch him off and feed him of elbow shots, only for Okada to dropkick him off the apron after he does that old Ric Flair turnbuckle bump spot. That - felt really out of place, actually. LOL at Cyrus and Kevin Kelley trying to get Okada's shitty-looking running boot over as death incarnate. Still, that DDT using the guardrail for extra leverage was pretty sweet, though. Okada playfully kicks SANADA while he's down and the Japs boo because they still believe in honor and all that shit, I think. Okada lands that "swingaround neckbreaker" thingy then he goes up top again. Damn, that was a nice looking elbow drop. CAMERA PAN OUT TIME!!!!~ Of course, SANADA ducks the Rainmaker and hits a Saito suplex as a counter. Okada eats a boot in the corner and he fucking knocks the yellow off SANADA's teeth with a forearmsmash. Then SANADA drop kicks Okada out of the ring and wipes him out with TWO back-to-back planchas. SANADA with a springboard missile dropkick, but it's only worth a two. Time to exchange forearm smashes. Again. Okada goes for a German, but SANADA snakes his way out. We've got some more flippy-dippy counter-reversal stuff and SANADA locks in a reverse dragon sleeper that they
don't call a reverse dragon sleeper but trust me, it's a goddamn reverse dragon sleeper. Now SANADA is toying around with Okada. Okada gets up and it's time for even more forearm smashes. SANADA lands the TKO (a fireman's carry cutter thingy) but it's only worth a two and the fans don't even think for a second that it's going to end the match. Okada locks in a cobra clutch, SANADA escapes, then he locks in a FULL reverse dragon sleeper after a moonsault. Way to not grapevine the abdomen though, you fuck. OK, now he has the grapevine in. HIGH DRAMA YA'LL. Okada finally slips out. SANADA lands on his feet after another moonsault attempt and Okada kicks him in the face. Multiple times. SANADA lands a dope looking Tiger Suplex, but nope, it's only good for a two-count. Now SANADA has that reverse dragon sleeper thing locked on Okada on the top rope. Then he does a neckbreaker variation off the top rpe, and of course Okada kicks out. Then we get this great sequence where SANADA goes for his submission finisher but Okada reverses it into the Rainmaker, but then SANADA counters it with a Rainmaker for his own for the two-count. Then Okada gets up and puts SANADA in his own submission hold, and when that doesn't work, he just decides to dropkick that sumbitch over and over. Okada lands a Tombstone piledriver. He goes for the Rainmaker, then SANADA uses a fucking DESTINO to counter it into his reverse dragon sleeper finisher. It's actually stupid looking as hell, because he doesn't even bother sinking his biceps around his foe's jugular, he just kinda' squeezes their forehead and says "eh, good enough." Anyway, SANADA lands another moonsault, but it's only worth a  two. Okada gets his knees up on the second one, though, then he FINALLY gets SANADA off his feet with the Rainmaker. And of course, he maintains "WRIST CONTROL" the whole time. There's Rainmaker no. 2, and boy, did it look shitty. Time to keep countering the Tombstone. Eventually, Okada manages to land it, which is our segue to Rainmaker no. 3. And that, ladies and gents, is good enough to give him the W. 

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

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: A good match, but far from being the best title defense Okada has had over the last year or so. In fact, I thought his less-heralded match against Evil last fall was a better outing than this one, but that's not to say this one wasn't entertaining in its own right. Say what you will about Okada, but when it comes to big time main event performances, this dude just plain delivers, time and time again ... and this match, certainly, is no exception.

Feb. 18, 2018
Dick Togo vs. Takuya Nomura (Big Japan BJ-Style #16)

Goddamn, do I love me some Dick Togo. Nomura is just some random dude in black trunks with an almost mullet, so you KNOW he's going to get fucked up something fierce. They slap hands for awhile and Togo locks in a headlock. Nomura goes for a cradle pin and Togo works over from the sidemount. Ah, gotta' love this dead silent Japanese crowds, don't 'ya? Nomura with a hammerlock and Togo takes him down with a fireman's carry that actually looks like it could realistically hurt somebody. Nomura works a modified leglock and Togo counters it into one that looks 50 times nastier. The crowd cheers the clean break. Nomura with a hard kick to the thigh. Togo with a rolling kick and he goes right back to the side headlock. Nomura gets the ropes and Togo immediately starts stompin' that motherfucker. Tofo with a a mean armbar. Lots of great counters and reversals in this one, and best of all, they all look REALISTIC and not bullshitty like in New Japan or NXT. Nomura locks in a single leg crab. Togo starts climbing his way to the ropes. He gets there an Nomura starts soccer kicking that motherfucker. He has a waistlock applied and now he's gunning for an armbar. Shit, I forgot how much I loved REAL Japanese shoot style 'rasslin. Now they're taking turns shoot-kicking each other in the face on the outside and it's outstanding. Togo launches Nomura into the nearest wall and we all have a hearty chuckle. Togo with headbutts and a snap suplex on the show floor. You have got to see this one Japanese woman grimace in horror when he does it, too. Togo does a cannonball roll to the outside, but since BJW can only afford one stationary camera, we have to use our imagination to figger out what Togo is doing. Togo throttles Nomura with a chair then he throws him back into the ring so he can stomp his thighs some more. And there's Togo with a figure four, except it looks like it could ACTUALLY break a nigga's leg for once. Nomura swats at Togo but Dick is like "fuck that shit" and just keeps twisting it around on the mat. Nomura, however, DOES manage to make it to the ropes. So Togo stomps that asshole's legs some more, just to teach him a lesson. Then he slaps the taste out of his mouth and we all chortle. Nomura, hobbled as a motherfucker, tries to make a comeback but his wheel is so beyond busted it isn't even funny. Togo with some punches and Nomura throws in a flying armbar out of goddamn nowhere. But Togo gets his foot on the rope. Nomua kicks Togo hard and then Dick starts slapping him hard as fuck and that makes Nomura kick him even harder and it is just plain great in every possible way. Nomura gets into a slapfigh with Togo and Togo goes for a ... schoolboy? Well, he does, and when he doesn't get it he turns it inot a modified crossface, but Nomura still makes it to the ropes. Nomura with some nasty kicks to the sternum. I mean, NASTY. Togo grabs Nomura's leg on a running punt attempt and locks in the crossface once more.  And this time Nomura ain't getting out of it - the tap comes about 12 minutes into the match.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: I could watch hyper-violent shoot-style 'rasslin all day, and this one did not disappoint. Somewhere between 1990s All Japan and contemporary UFC is where this kind of shit resides, and naturally, I eat it up like double chunk cookie dough ice cream. Of course, Togo has had WAY better matches, but even as a one-and-done single-serve this is still a hoot and a half to witness. If you've got enough time to scarf two Taco Bell burritos down your gullet, you've probably got enough time to scope this one out while you nom — trust me, Dick Togo and greasy ass Tex-Mex is a match made in fuckin' heaven.

Feb. 21, 2018
Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Johnny Gargano (WWE NXT)

It's a "loser leaves the brand" matchup and the fourth time these two men have duked it out under the NXT banner. And yeah, Almas has won all three of their previous matches, so take a wild guess what happens here? Bucking tradition, Almas comes out first, despite being the reigning, defending champeen. Maybe its just me, but the whole "loser leaves town" shtick doesn't seem to have as much weight to it when you know the loser is actually going to get a promotion. Gargano comes out with Candace LaRae, who is his wife. Oh, and I guess I should've told you that Cien brought his bitch, too. Hey, you know what's cool? When the announcer says "one fall" and the crowd all repeats it back. Oh wait, no, that's not cool at all, it's actually really fucking stupid. Dig that snazzy blue lighting in the arena - makes the shit feel like an old X-Files episode. Cien with a quick roll-up attempt. Actually, he has about a billion of them. Gargano rolls to the outside, and that's our cue for a commercial break. We join the action in progress and Almas back elbow smashes the yellow of Gargano's teeth. There's Gargano with an enziguir, a lariat, a dropkick and a clothesline over the top rope. How WCW Saturday Night of him. He feigns planchaing Almas' bitch, but his wife hits her with a tope instead. Then Gargano planchas Almas like a motherfucker while the two broads catfight their way to the back. Shit, there's like 10 people in the audience. Where did they film this, a fucking Buffalo Wild Wings somewhere? Cien hits an awesome clothesline-backbreaker thing on the apron, but of course, it's only good enough for a dos. Cien with knee shots to the breadbasket, and Johnny fires back with some nasty chops. Cien locks in an armbar while he's tied up in the ropes and its actually pretty awesome looking. Cien with some ground and pound, except it's not real because it's pro wrestling and pro wrestling is scripted. Cien with stomps and he tries to snap Gargano's arm using the bottom rope. Dueling chants for "Johnny Wrestling" and "Andrade," because hipsters have fucking ruined wrestling. Time for another commercial break. We return and Cien has an armlock. Cien with knees to the stomach and a suplex attempt. Gargano kicks him in the head and chops him in the corner. Gargano with flying headscissors and a diving spear through the ropes. Just a two. Gargano with forearm shots and a low kick to the knees. Cien buckle bombs Gargano in the corner and slams his dick into his face. Just a two count. Almas goes for the hammerlock DDT but Gargano bullies him into the ringpost. Gargano with a super kick on the apron. Now they're doing that "yay/boo" thing when they hit each other that was annoying as fuck even back in 2006. Gargano goes for another slingshot spear and Cien catches him with a Fujiwara armbar. He transitions it into a headlock, but Gargano escapes. Gargano feigns a hammerlock DDT and Cien throws Gargano upside down into the turnbuckle. Cien with a running knee in the corner, but Gargano kicks out. Cine looking for a top rope hammerlock DDT. Gargano fights him off. Gargano launches Almas off the top turnbuckle to the outside, and Gargano hits a BOSS flying tornado DDT plancha. There's the slingshot DDT. But ALMAS kicks out. They punch each other on their knees for a little bit and Gargano starts launching some nasty forearm shots. A spinning elbow wipes out the referee and Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape. And here comes Tommy Ciampi with a crutch to break the hold, because he's a no good sonofabitch, that's why. Almas hits the hammerlock DDT and that's all she wrote, kids.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: For a modern day WWE TV match, that was actually pretty freakin' outstanding. The two men got about 15 minutes to work thier magic, and they actually did an admirable job of condensing their legit MOTY offering from late January into a decent made-for-cable (or Netflix, wherever the fuck people watch this stuff nowadays) affair. This thing felt like a Clash of the Champions main event from early 1994, and I mean that as the highest kind of compliment. Tis a pity these guys are going their seperate ways ... this is easily the best rivarly the 'E has given us, in terms of night-in, night-out in-ring performance ... in a LONG time.

The future of wrestling, motherfuckers.
MARCH 2018

March 6, 2018
Minoru Suzuki vs. Togi Makabe (NJPW 46th Anniversary Show)

Two old, ugly motherfukers hurting each other ... now this, my friends, is what Japanese 'rasslin' is ALL ABOUT. Minoru kicks Togi right in the fuckin face and then the forearm battle, it is ON. Togi drops Minoru with a shoulder tackle and punches the fuck out of him up against the ropes. Minoru kicks Togi in the face and calls him a motherfucker in Japanese, probably. Togi with forearms galore and then Minoru takes a NASTY sternum-first bump into the guardrail ... twice. Fuck, this match could just be twenty minutes of these assholes forearming each other and it would automatically be better than anything PWG does this year. Suzuki goes for an armbar on the ropes and Togi goes "fuck that shit" and punches him silly. Suzuki momentarily has an armbar, but he loses it. Suzuki slams Makabe's leg against the metal turnbuckle, then he grabs a chair and wacks that shin good. Suzuki grabs another chair, but the referee takes it away from him and the Japs cheer because apparently, SOME PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE IN GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP. Suzuki with a headbutt and Togi goes down. Suzuki with a judo roll and he works a heel hook. Take note, Zack Sabre ... that's how you make that shit look LEGIT. Makabe gets a rope break and Suzuki keeps tapping Togi in the head with his foot. Makabe with a powerslam and clotheslines in the corner. Togi with a bridging Northern Lights 'plex. Suzuki kicks out. Minoru hits a running boot in the corner, then Makabe catches his leg on the follow-through. Yep, time for more forearm exchanges. I'd really like to know what they're saying to each other — it's probably some world-class shit talk. Suzuki slaps the taste ou of Makabe's mouth twice and Cyrus the Virus says Togi is stupid for trying to get into a striking contest with Minoru. Togi lands a Death Valley Driver and a top rope German Suplex. But he doesn't stick the King Kong knee drop, unfortunately. Oh, did I tell you this match is for the Intercontinental IWGP title or some shit? Because it is. Suzuki locks in another heel hook. He drags Togi back to the middle of the ring and Togi fights his way to a rope break. They take turns slapping each other on their knees, Minoru hocks a loogie in the ring and goes for another rolling heel hook. Togi counters it into a bridging German. He goes for a dragon suplex, Suzuki counters it and Makabe lands a lariat. Just a two. Minoru lands a BEAUTIFUL dropkick and goes for a rear naked choke. He breaks the hold and goes for a Gotch piledriver instead. Togi escapes, Suzuki hits him with several palm strikes and clips his knee. Makabe goes for a clothesline, Minoru sidesteps it, locks in a sleeperhold, breaks it and THEN he hit hits the Gotch piledriver for the win.

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

My Rating:  *** 1/4

The Verdict: Now that was fun stuff. Suzuki these days is really a mixed bag, but it looks like we got him on a good night in this one. Of course, he's certainly capable of better matches, and indeed he has had better matches already this year, but this is still a fun, if utterly uneventful little throwdown. At this point, Minoru might just eclipse Terry Funk's record and be the first octagenerian featured in a Jan. 04 Dome show — God willing, of course.

March 11, 2018
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW New Japan Cup 2018 - Day 3)

Ironically enough, the match begins with the Japanese guy getting Pearl Harbored. Of course, this being a Naito match, Naito does that stupid ass "model pose" in the ring and ZSJ grabs a tripod, as if anybody can take his anorexic ass holding camera equipment as a POTENTIALLY LETHAL combination. Naito works  neck wrench in the corner and feeds ZSJ some elbows. Sabre bends Naito's fingers back like it's a fight between the two biggest pussies in the first grade and then he continues to wrench the arm on the outside. Yeah, this Sabre kid sure is a submission "specialist," alright. Pretty much his entire reportoire consists of shit your older brother used to do to you while scuffling in the backyard. Shit, is his finisher a top rope titty twister or floatover, cross-armed wedgie? Yeah,1996  PANCRASE, this thing ain't. ZSJ with European uppercuts, which is pretty fitting, I guess, since he does come from Europe. Naito with a neckbreaker. And there's the slidding baseball kick to the back of the noggin. Now Naito has ZSJ in a scissorsleg. I don't know if that's a sound strategy, though, it kinda' looks like Sabre is the type of guy who actually LIKES to be next to another man's sweaty, stankin' ballsack, if you catch my drift (get it? I'm implying that Sabre is one of them there homosexuals.) Anyway, we get some more twisty flippy shit and Sabre is going right back to BENDING THE FINGERS BACK all sinister-like. Naito gets a rope break before Sabre can apply a second degree Indian Burn, thankfully. SZJ locks in an abdominal stretch and the Japanese crowd acts like it could actually finish the match. Huh. Anyway, Naito slowly makes his way to the ropes to break the hold. Now ZSJ is chopping Naito, who responds with a springboard DDT off the ropes. Naito with an inverted DDT/neckbreaker thingy. Naito with a cartwheel kick, but ZSJ turns it into an STF variation. Dude, I'm sorry, but Sabre's submissions look like absolute dog shit. That, and the motherfucker looks like he needs a sandwich BAD. Sabre is working leg kicks and he manages to sweep Naito to his feet. Now Sabre is working a crappy-looking ankle lock. Naito with an Atomic Drop, and Sabre counters with a standing ankle lock. Goddamn, somebody needs to show Sabre some old RINGS matches pronto. Naito with a spinebuster (sorta) and ZSJ locks in ANOTHER ankle lock after some pinning reversals. Well, the good thing about Sabre matches is that there are so many resthold spots that you can pretty much take a piss whenever you want and don't have to worry about missing much of anything. Naito keeps climbing his way towards the ropes with his eyeballs all bugged out. He makes it. Sabre hits a jumping knee on Naito's knee (for real) and Naito lands an enzuigiri and a backdrop. ZSJ with a counter European uppercut, but Sabre counters the Destino with this shitty looking grapevine-calf slicer hybrid thing and Naito VERBALLY SUBMITS.

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

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict? Seriously, how in the fuck does ANYBODY see this shit as [**** 1/2] material? Even as a TV match this thing was overlong and uneventful, and as a marquee match-up it's downright snooze-inducing. Naito's acting was great, as always, but there's no way in hell I'm buying Zack Sabre Jr.'s 120-pound, toothpick-looking ass as a lethal submission machine. Fuck that shit — if I don't even want to see Demetrious Johnson do it FOR REAL, why in the hell would I ever want to see some vanilla-ass limey PRETEND to do it in front of a buncha' Japaheenos who thought BOB SAPP was a legit fighter?

March 11, 2018
Negro Casas vs. Aramis (Lucha Memes in Arena Coliseo Coacalco)

It's Casas versus some random up-and-comer in a a tee-shirt and a FitBit in a ring that has plastic covering all over it. You know what to expect here. Casas immediately goes for a chinlock, Aramis counters with some armdrags. Gotta' dig that classy two-camera set-up, no? Both guys try to clothesline each other and then Aramis takes off his shirt and he has no muscles whatsoever and everybody in the crowd laughs, just as they should. These motherfuckers are literally wrestling in something that looks like the gardening section at Home Depot; how in the FUCK did something that ghetto ever get designated as an "arena?" Anhyhoo, Aramis is fucking that fucker up with spin kicks and planchas, and then he topes Casas into the first row and he TOTALLY breaks character and laughs the entire time.  Casas goes up top and Aramis hits a superplex counter. Casas goes for a small package. No dice. Aramis and Casas exchange kicks to the face, and then Aramis lands a Frankensteiner ... only for Casas to powerbomb his ass after going to the proverbial well one too many times. Aramis has the shittiest slaps of all time, I swear. Aramis locks in a heel hook. Then he lands a sitout powerbomb of his own. Casas with a jaw jacker a kicks to the left titty. Casas kicks Aramis in the knee and then Aramis hits a top rope dropkick. Casas goes for a la magistral cradle and that scores him the pinfall. Then a whole bunch of kids jump into the ring, and TBH I'm just glad they're too ecstatic over the vet's surprise win that they don't even bother trying to cross the border that evening ... hopefully.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/4

The Verdict: Those Mexi-Philes over at Segunda Caida honestly think this is a better match than Riddle vs. Cobb at he Feb. 8 MLW show. Well, I guess it's safe to say they've been sipping on some tainted guacamole, because this shit is just basic as all fuck. Yeah, it's cool that Old Man Casas can still go at his age, but this was hardly anything more than a paint-by-numbers, throwaway lucha contest. It had some cool moments, but anybody who thinks this is anything more than a just sort of "meh" weekly TV-show caliber match is whacked out of their gourd.

March 12, 2018
Masashi Takeda  vs. Ryuichi Sekine (BJPW Ikkitosen~Strong Climb Day 3)

Well, in case you still don't think two bombs weren't enough, here's the latest and greatest death match gimmick from the Land of the Rising Sun: "The Light Tubes and Lemon Blood Hell Match." I ... just fuck it, man. Just fuck it. Sekine comes out to some awesome Sega CD SHMUP sounding music and Takeda comes out dressed like a Hot Topics employee circa 2000, complete with a big plastic stick that has like six or seven light tubes taped to it. Oh, you can just tell this is going to be fantastic. LOL, the company's championship belt literally looks like it's made out of plastic. The motherfuckers probably won it out of a claw machine or something. I don't know if Japan has meth-addicted white trash, but if they do, I'm pretty sure they'd look just like these two assholes. Takeda is basically a poor man's Jun Kasai — I mean, just think about that statement for a minute. They actually try to make this thing resemble an actual wrestling match early, complete with a series of hammerlock reversals. But enough of that scientific shit, IT'S TIME TO HAVE A LIGHT TUBE DUEL! Takeda is bleeding from his forehead after some crowd brawling, of which 90 percent the camera missed. Now Sekine is digging a busted tube right into Takeda's ugly ass face and it's hilarious. Takeda dropkicks some tubes into Sekine's face then he elbow drops some tubes until they turn into cancer-causing powder and then he tries to stab Sekine with a pair of scissors. Eh, this is pretty stupid, but it's still better than PWG, that's for goddamn sure. Eww, now Takeda's taking chunks outta' Sekine's face for real. Now Takeda's got the lemons. Let's see: acidic fruit + stabbing wounds + exposed facial tissue = what could possibly go wrong? Oh, lordy, this is plum idiotic. Also, I love the fact the referee is some fat dude with a haircut just like an emo teenager from 2006. Shit, Japan really is a decade behind the rest of modernity, ain't they? Sekine with some fat kicks and then Takeda dropkicks some more tubes into Sekine's craggy phizog. Sekine hits a fallaway slam, with Takeda landing backfirst on some radical tubeage. Sekine with a backbreaker and then he kicks some tubes against Takeda's back. Yawn. Takeda grabs a brown paper bag and pours out a bunch of ... I have no idea what that shit is supposed to be. Furniture tacks, maybe? Now Takeda is stabbing Sekine's forehead with whatever the fuck is in the ring. Takeda with a heel hook and the shittiest spear you've ever seen in your life. Fucking Gillberg could've hit a better looking one than that. Oh, joy, Takeda's kicking MORE light tubes against Sekine's back. Shit, I'm starting to think Big Japan constitutes at least half of all fluorescent light tube sales gloabally now. Sekine with a superplex, then Takeda with a suprisingly decent looking standard suplex on his end. Now Takeda has that aforementioned plastic light tube bundle thingy. Sekine whacks him with it and lands a back body suplex. Just a two-count. Now Sekine has a bundle of about 60 tubes duck taped together in a pyramid. Anyway, Takeda tries to German suplex Sekine on it but somehow he fucking MISSES and has to pick up the bundle and hit him with it on the followthrough. So ghetto, ya'll. Then they start headbutting each othe with furniture tacks embedded in their skulls and Takeda kicks another bundle of tubes in Sekine's face and he lands a top rope senton and Sekine kicks out so he hits him with a brainbuster and THAT's what finally ends this shitshow.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/2

The Verdict: Yeah, that was a rather unremarkable little foray right there. Like all crystal meth-enthused yellow-trash garbage rasslin' matches from Japan, I can't say this one was without a few regrettably enjoyable moments, but on the whole? There is absolutely nothing here you haven't already seen a billion times before ... and performed a billion times better, to boot.

March 15, 2018
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi (NJPW New Japan Cup 2018 — Day 6)

Yep, more Zack Sabre, even though absoluely NONE OF US requested it, especially not me. Ibushi is a relatively skinny wrestler, but compared to ZSJ, he looks like fucking Hercules Hernandez. Sabre does the stretchy stuff early until Kota gets a clean break. Sabre with some more wannabe Battlarts bullshit and Kota gets another rope break. Sabre with a hammerlock that Ibushi should EASILY be able to get out of, but he doesn't because the juniors don't give no fucks about psychology. Ibushi drops Sabre with an elbow shot and I, as always, admire his fine, fine hair. Sabre works a leglock and Ibushi gets the ropes ... again. Sabre with a preposterous looking grapevines kneebar. I mean, has this nigga ever SEEN a real MMA fight before? Ibushi kicks Sabre in the face a couple of times and I chortle. Now Sabre is doing this thing where he twists his feet on Ibushi's hands and he sells it like it broke his arm. Just fuck everything about this right now. Ibushi wih ANOTHER rope break. Ibushi drops Sabre with a kick. Sabre with an octopus hold ... a really, really gay looking one. What do you know, Ibushi somehow gets to the ropes. For fuck sake, Sabre matches are so paint-by-numbers  even Slayer is like "goddamn, man, don't you think you need to try something different every now and then?"  Sabre with a cross-armed hand-bender and the Japaheeno fans buy it as a LETHAL finisher because ... radiation, probably. Ibushi gives Sabre a Pele (sorta') and ZSJ counters a powerbomb into a triangle. OK, that was pretty cool, I will admit. And there's Kota with the Quinton Jackson bomb. But it's only good enough for a two-count. They reverse pinning predicaments a couple of times and we have ourselves a standstill. Then they slap each other like pussies and it just now dawns on me how much Sabre looks like Kevin Perreria from Attack of the Show. Remember that shit on G4 back in the day? Of course you don't. Ibushi goes for a head kick and Sabre punts him like field goal. He goes for another punt and Ibushi slaps his chest and Sabre falls down like a Red Oak. Ibushi with a powerslam and a moonsault, but Sabre gets his knees up and counters it with this really crummy looking triangle. Ibushi fights to get out of it. He goes for a powerbomb but Zack snakes his way out and locks in another octopus hold. Ibushi escapes, ZSJ slaps him, Ibushi goes for a backslide, he German suplexes him, Sabre locks in another abdominal stretch variation, turns that into a Regal Stretch permutation with elbows to the head and Ibushi finally submits.

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

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: Dude, Dave Meltzer can suck my shit. ANYBODY who thinks this is in the all-time top ten percent of wrestling matches is a fucking moron, and anybody who thinks this Sabre jack-off is the second coming of Volk Han is certifiably insane. Unless you're injecting Soylent straight into your veins, steer way clear of this one, kids. And as Public Enemy warned us all those years ago, please, don't believe the hype

March 21, 2018
Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. Ryota Hama (BJPW Ikkitosen 2018 ~STRONG CLIMB~ Tag 2)

Hama is a former sumo wrestler, so naturally he's among the fattest things you've ever seen in your life. Yasufumi, meanwhile, is the most generic, chubby-but-not-that-chubby Japanese wrestler in history. Thus, we should all, obviously, expect GREAT THINGS here. You think I'm joking about Hama being the fattest thing of all time, but I ain't joking. This dude makes Rikishi look like one of the Olsen twins — he LITERALLY looks like a 500-pound, sentient wad of biscuit dough. Seriously, the only wrestler I've seen that was fatter was Hornswagglin' Hillbilly from the ICP's promotion; I'm not even sure prime Yoko had THIS MUCH redundant adipose tissue. Yasufumi chops Ryota, but since he's so fat he can't feel the pain, just like The Blob from the X-Men. Nakanoue tries to shoulder charge Hama but Ryota no-sells it. Oh my god, Ryota can make his big fat titties bounce up and down like Lex Luger used to. That is so hideous it's not even funny. Now Hama is thumping Yasufumi's dick with his ass so this has literally become stealth gay porno now. Hama gives Naknoue a stinkface and then he BARREL ROLLS on top of Hama at about .0333 miles per hour. Yasufumi with some desperation clotheslines in the corner but Ryota kicks out. Yasufumi lands a dropkick off the top rope, but Ryota no sells it. He clotheslines Nakanoue and hits a big fat elbow drop. Then he hits a fat splash in the corner, a running ass to the face and Nakanoue kicks out. Hama misses on a body splash (thus, triggering a potential tsunami warning) and then Hama hits Nakanoue with a release German suplex and it actually looks pretty good. Hama does a sitting ass drop but Nakanoue kicks out. He hits another body splash off the ropes and Nakanoue kicks out AGAIN. Oh fuck, is this match actually geting good on me? Never mind, Hama just missed on a shining wizard ... I mean, BADLY. Nakanoue catches Hama with a lariat out of fucking nowhere, but Ryota kicks out. Yasufumi goes up top and lands a diving elbow but Hama kicks out at one. Nakanoue lands another lariat and I'll be goddamned if that isn't what wins him the match.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: Well, that was WAY more entertaining than it had any right to be. Hama is officially my favorite contemporary fat wrestler now — what I wouldn't give to see this motherfucker go one-on-one with Sekimoto, or even Dick goddamn Togo, in a ker-azy early '90s AJPW-type stiff-a-thon!

March 22, 2018
Mammoth Sasaki and Toru Sugiura vs. Mr. Gannosuke and Yuko Miyamoto (FREEDOMS THE Gekokujo 2018)

This 'un is for the "King of FREEDOM Tag Titles," whatever the fuck that's supposed to be. Yes, Mr. Gannosuke is STILL wrestling and he looks like 1996 Kevin Sullivan on crystal meth (with the sun in his eyes, of course.) Mammoth lives up to his namesake by being one big motherfucker, like 6'4, which isn't THAT big but for a Japanese dude he's pretty fucking massive. Goddamn does Gannosuke like WAY too much like Mr. Miyagi for it to be a coincidence. We get some good slaps early and Gannosuke drops Mammoth with a clothesline. Toru and Yuko get the tags. Toru is the one in the Sabu pants while Yuko looks like every other Japanese wrestler working Nippon's indie circuit. Mammoth comes in and he CHOPS the shit out of Toru and stomps him like Godzilla in the corner. Yuko is tagged back in and Toru hits a scoop slam and a couple of elbow drops and then Toru rubs his dick on Yuko's face for awhile. Gannosuke is tagged back in and he works a hammerlock on Yuko. Toru tagged in again. He hits a running armbreaker. Time to trade forearm shots. Yuko misses on a missile dropkick but he sticks it on an attempted flapjack. OK, that was kinda' cool. Mammoth gets the tag and he WRECKS Gannosuke and Toru with clotheslines and scoop slams. This motherfucker is literally the amalgamation of Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka. He damn near choke bombs Toru through the ring and then Toru hits him with a sprining Muta elbow smash. Yuko drops Gannosuke with a missile dropkick and a flying crossbody. Gannouske with a shitt backdrop. Toru wipes out Mammoth and Yuko gets double-teamed. Gannosuke lands the SHITTIEST top rope powerbomb of all-time and then Yuko lands a moonsault. Yuko back to his feet and he hits Gannosuke with a stalling German suplex. Mammoth body splashes Toru damn near into the third row then he slams his own partner on top of Gannosuke. Mammoth ALMOST gets caught in a backslide and then Gannosuke and Yuko get double suplexed and clotheslined by Mammoth. Gannosuke eats a shitty gutwrench powerbomb from Mammoth, Toru wipes Yuko out with a plancha to the outside and Mammoth hits a DEADLY looking brainbuster on Gannosuke, which he kicks out of. But yeah, he don't kick out of the Michinoku Driver variation on the follow-through, though, as that rather humdrum finisher gets 'em the three-count.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ** 1/4

The Verdict: A total throwaway bout right here. It was fun/hilarious/tragic to see Mr. Gannosuke out there doing what he has to to earn a pension, but beyond those few smatterings of nostalgia, I'm afraid there's just nothing worth going out of your way in this one. That said: Mammoth is pretty fuckin' awesome, though.

March 25, 2018
The Young Bucks vs. The Golden Lovers (NJPW Strong Style Evolved)

Well, I accidentally deleted the first 15 minutes of my original recap, so we join this shit in progress close to 20 minutes in, 'cause I sure as hell ain't watching this fucker more than once. For those of you late to the party, the Bucks are ambigiously homosexual brothers and Omega and Ibushi are ambigiously homosexual interracial lovers, so yeah, looks like SJWs have taken over pro rasslin' too. They take turns doing moonsaults on each other and it feels so weird hearing Jim Ross call this stuff. I do like the fact that the Bucks have their names written on their pants, so that definitely makes it easier to tell who's who. Ibushi stomps on Matt, and J.R. keeps talking about how bad Matt's back is fucke up and Matt spits in Ibushi's face and Omega gets tagged in. Omega hits a backbreaker on Matt, and Matt wails like a retarded homo. Not that there's anything wrong with being either of those things, naturally. Ibushi gets tagged in again. Snapmare. Now he's working a sleeperhold. Omega eats canvas and Nick gets back body dropped on the edge of the apron. Nick gets tagged in and he kicks and chops da fuq out of the Golden Lovers. Omega hits a Frankensteiner and Ibushi eats a lungblower. Nick with a tope and Ibushi gets kicked in the face again. There's Nick with the old Buff Bagwell Blockbuster and Matt hits him with a kick to the face. Only worth a two count. Ibushi hits a moonsault and Nick tries to lock in a Scorpion Deathlock. Omega punches him while he has the submission applied and Nick kicks him right in the fucking head. There's Nick with another moonsault to the outside. Nick hits a swinging tornado DDT to the outside and Matt starts having a back spasm so he has to let go of the submission on Kota. Hey, there's a table set up on the outside. Wonder if that'll play a prominent plot point in just a few. Omega eats a springboard dropkick and then Matt elbow drops through that aforementioned table on the outside. You know, the Young Bucks are in the prime of their career yet they already LOOK like dudes ten years past their expiration date. These guys are going to look ghastly in about eight years, I assure you. Ibushi chops both of the Bucks and then he gets double kicked. Fuck almighty, this is the most paint-by-numbers Meltzer-style match in the history of professional wrestling. Kota with a double Pele, but I'm pretty sure he missed one of them. By the way, this thing has a 60-minute time limit, and we're a half hour in already. There's that stupid ass "fight forever" chant. Seriously, how can anybody NOT see how cringey that shit is? Omega punches Matt, and Matt punches Omega ... you know the drill. Omega with that snap suplex thing, and there's Matt with a jumping piledriver. Now Matt is taking his weight belt off. Yep, time to play Roots, motherfuckers. Matt gets punched right in his back by Omega, and then he knees that white nigga' right in the face, except you can see his knee fly PAST his head both times. At least Matt made his spear look like it actually connects, I suppose. The Bucks double team Omega and then Ibushi powerbombs Nick through another ringside table. Cue the double piledriver, but Matt kicks out. Ibushi kicks Matt in the head, Omega follows it up with a powerbomb. Matt kicks out, of course. Matt lands a super kick. Then Kota kicks him. There's the running V Trigger. Omega goes for the One Winged Angel. Nick breaks up the pin at 2.99999. For some reason, Omega is hesitant to hit the OWA on the Jacksons. I'm not even going to bother Googling why. Nick eats a V Trigger and another Kota snap suplex. Ibushi and Omega hit the "Golden Trigger," dogpile Matt and yep, that's what gets us our three count.

Meltzer's Rating: *****

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: Yeah, I'm just not feeling the love for this one. There were some good moments (especially the table spots), but as always, the over-the-top Young Bucks and Omega theatrics definitely took a lot of steam out of the match-up. The attempt at "psychology" with Matt's bad back was noble, but then again, if you're not actually going to SELL said injury, what's the fucking point? Furthermore, the ending was pretty lackluster, even for a made-for-Hot-Topics caliber bout. It's not terrible and it's certainly enjoyable for the most part, but there is no way in hell I'd ever consider this a MOTY contender ...  or even a MOTN candidate, for that matter.

"Let's Go Rock and Roll"

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