Saturday, August 11, 2018

Jimbo's Quarterly Rasslin Roundup (Q2 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
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com

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 — it's right here if you missed it — covered two dozen matches from January, February and March 2018, while the second installment (that's the one you're reading right now, Holmes) 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?

APRIL 2018

April 7, 2018
Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs Killian Dains vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet vs. The Velveteen Dream (NXT TakeOver New Orleans)

Mauro's line about EC3 being about as popular as having 3 percent battery life left on your phone is the WORST fucking simile I've ever heard in my life. Anyhoo, this is a good old fashioned ladder match scramble cluster fuck to determine the first NXT North American Champion. Of course, NXT standing for "NEETS, Xtremely Terrible," they start chanting "this is awesome" before the bell even rings. We get a bunch of outside brawling and then Ricochet hits a shooting star press to the outside. MOVEZ, ya'll. Holy shit, I can't believe Mauro compared Ricochet to Buddy Rodgers ... or Paige, for that matter. Velveteen throws Ricochet off the top rope, then he and Adam Cole (who HAS to be Shawn Michael's illegitimate love child) get into it. EC3 his a fucking Shane Douglas "Franchiser" (aka, the worst finisher in the history of wrestling) and then Lars starts throwing his fatness all over the ring. The Killian lands the fattest tope of all time and the fans go CRAZY because apparently, none of 'em where alive to see this exact same shit in TNA back in 2005. Dream and Ricochet brawl, then EC3 comes in and starts elbowing people. Then Lars throws a ladder at everybody and hits Dain in the breadbasket with it. Nigel compares him to Donkey Kong, which, yeah, doesn't really make any sense, but whatever. Lars (more like LARGE, amirite?) Sullivan hits Velveteen with a gorilla press slam, probably because he's racist. Then everybody powerbombs Sullivan off a ladder and Dain headbutts EC3 and throws Riccochet into another ladder. EC3 bulldogs Dain off the ladder, then Cole and EC3 gang up on Lars. God damn, I hate Mauro's commentary — if you ask me, JBL didn't bully that bipolar asshole ENOUGH. Cole hits EC3 with a fireman's carry into a ladder and then he super kicks fucking EVERYBODY and it's great. Sullivan pushes Cole off the ladder and Nigel reminds the audience "this is not what ladders are designed for." You mean you're NOT supposed to use all that shit at Home Depot to smack a nigga' upside the head and crawl up 'em at three centimeters a year to grab a dangling belt suspended overhead in front of a bunch of autistic hipsters? SHOCKING. Velveteen climbs the ladder and hits Lars with an elbow drop like that's the first time such has ever been committed in a rasslin' ring before. Then EC3 powerbombs Dream onto ANOTHER ladder and Mauro continues to sperg out. Honestly, would it really be that big of a problem if he DID commit suicide? EC3 hits Cole with the old Marc Mero TKO off the ladder. Huh, what a weird move to pull out of nowhere. The fans chant "this is awesome," even though they probably mean to say "this is AUTISM." LOL at Killian hitting EC3 with a senton onto the ladder. What a dumb thing to do. Then he does a Vader Bomb with Adam Cole on his back onto EC3. Eh, it's not as cool as it sounds. Ricochet runs in and he tangles with the two big motherfuckers for a little while. Then Lars starts climbing the ladder, until Ricochet yanks him down and super kicks him. Then he does some flippy shit to the outside when Lars starts pushing him off the ladder. Then he hits like his 19th shooting star press of the match, because that's NOT devaluing his finisher or nothing. Then he and Dream get into it and Dream can't get his footing on a "ladder bridge" and he finally hits a death valley driver on the ladder and all the 'tards in the crowd chant like that was SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN HISTORY. Fuck this crowd, so hard. More outside brawling ensues. Then Lars chokeslams a whole bunch of niggas off the apron through another ladder. Then Dain piledrives Adam Cole on top of Riccochet THROUGH another ladder. Seriously, half this match is just people laying on the ground pretending to be injured. The fans start chanting "fight forever," which is the cringiest thing I've ever heard up until Mauro starts describing the competitors as members of the Avengers (even going as far as to refer to Lars as "the mad Titan Thanos.") Then Dain and Sullivan fat-fight on top of the ladder. Now four of those homos are climbing
two ladders side by side, then Dream starts wacking EC3, Cole, and the two fat fucks with a ladder before setting it up himself. Now all six of the assholes are duking it out on three ladders right underneath the belt, trading fisticuffs. Ricochet hits an avalanche neckbreaker on Dream, then the two fatties slow crawl up the ladder, then Lars hits him with a Country Crock Bottom and then Ricochet jumps on him and Cole throws his ass off a ladder and Coles easily yanks down the title for the most anticlimactic ladder match finish of all-time.

Meltzer's Rating: *****

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: Granted, there is a LOT of PWG/ROH/NJPW "muh snowflakes" Meltzer-Style junk I've never seen before, but this HAS to be the single WORST alleged "five star match" I've ever seen. There is absolutely NOTHING in this match we haven't already seen before in any number of "Money in the Bank" matches, and this thing had absolutely NONE of the brutal drama of Jericho's best ladder matches, nor even the basic train-wreck fun of the early '00s TLC bouts. Yes, it is entertaining and it had some cool spots, but the fact Dave Meltzer thinks THIS is a transcendent, MOTY-caliber offering is just further proof that this asshole has about as much taste as that one dude in "The People Under The Stairs" without a tongue (which is none, because he doesn't have a tongue, you see.)  


April 7, 2018
Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Aleister Black (NXT TakeOver New Orleans)

Black is basically The Undertaker, except he dresses like a tattooed-up heroin junkie and has music done by the worst Rage Against the Machine cover band you've ever heard in your life. Meanwhile, Almas is Mexican Ric Flair, complete with this biracial manager in skintight latex britches. Huh, I didn't know Black was from the Netherlands. Uh, guys, that's not where Transylvania is, you map-avoiding mother fuckers, you. Black kicks Almas right in the fucking face as soon as the match begins and Mauro says both men are brawling like "troglodytes." Black hits a fucking BEAUTIFUL moonsault to the outside and Black goes for the octopus hold. Cien rolls to the outside and Black pursues. Then Cien's bitch hurrancanrannas Black into the metal steps below and Almas goes for a quick, opportunistic pin attempt but can only get a two. Almas with a reverse DDT off the turnbuckles. Only a two-count. And there's Almas with his armbar over the ropes. Goddamn, that Cien guy has some great dropkicks. Cien works a neck wrench, which he twists into an armbar. Cien holds onto the standing chinlock as Black keeps backing into the turnbuckle pads. Cien with a boot to the face and Alma goes for another over-the-top-rope armbar. Cine goes for a missile dropkick and Black knees that Mexican motherfucker RIGHT IN THE FACE. LOL at Mauro saying he doesn't know how Almas didn't turn into a pile of coins after that. I love how Black is being touted as a kickboxing virtuouo, like Bas Rutten taught him his fuckin' self or something. Black goes for a top rope powerbomb but Cien flips out and counters with a German suplex and a double hop moonsault. Man, this shit is just groovy. Black with a standard forearm shot, and Cien fires back with kicks. Almas lands a spinning back elbow and Black kicks Almas right in the fucking face. These men have TREMENDOUS looking strikes and I'm digging it. Then they do this stupid spot where they kick each other at the same time and they both fall down at the same time and pretend to be half dead for 20 seconds. Both men scramble back to their feet and Almas dumps Black over the top rope. Almas with a corkscrew plancha to the outside. Almas quickly rolls his opponent back into the ring, but only gets a two-count. Zelina Vega gives Almas the belt and while the ref's back is turned Zelina runs in and hits Black with a hurrancanranna, which is the stupidest shit I've ever seen in a wrestling ring before. You mean to tell me this 120 pound bitch has enough force to drop a 300-pound kickboxer on the top of his head in one fluid motion? Horse shit, ya'll. Black almost has Cien finished, but his ho puts her man's foot on the rope so he can't get a three count. Black gets crotched on the top rope and he lands the double stomp on Black's "right deloid," followed up by the running knee strike. Just a two. Almas FLOORS Black with a brutal dropkick to the back of the head, then he hits him with another running knee to the face. He sets up the hammerlock DDT but Black drops him over the top rope. He does a cannonball to the outside, and    back in the ring Almas hits a hammerlock DDT ... for a two count. Vega tries to interfere again, except this time she accidentally cross bodies her own man, thus allowing Aleister to Black Mass Almas' fucking head of for the win ... and the he NXT title.

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

My Rating: ****

The Verdict? Another very, very good NXT Championship match. Granted, it did sort of fall into the predictable trappings of your usual Almas title defense (the valet interference, the feigned comeback spots and even the big move transitions, at times, felt copy-pastaed from the the Janaury Gargano bout), but then again, if the formula ain't broke, why try and fix it? That, and Black's more striking-and-power-move oriented style gelled quite well with Cien, giving us a type of match that, while similar to the Gargano shindig, also stood out as something entirely its own. Here's hoping we see these two guys tango again ... and soon-ish.


April 7, 2018
Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa (NXT TakeOver New Orleans)

This is an "unsanctioned match" in which both competitors have signed "hold harmless" agreements if they get killed or paralyzed or some shit. I like how Ciampa doesn't come out to any music whatsoever and it's just him sauntering to the ring while all those fat-ass NXT fanboys boo and call him an asshole and chant "you suck" while holding up those gay little squinty-eyed smiley face posters for Gargano. I love how he closes his eyes and just soaks it all in while people tell him to go fuck himself. And that's our cue for his former tag team partner Gargano to come out, whose theme music sounds like something you'd hear on the soundtrack for Burnout 3 on the PS2. "The only reason the ref is there is to count to three," Mauro says. I LOL at the venue being called "The Smoothie King Arena." Anyhoo, the bell rings and it's time for pseudo-hockey style brawling. Gargano hits a slingshot elbow and stomps the living shit out of Ciampa and we all have a hearty chuckle. There's Gargano with a tope suicida (and here I was, not even knowing he was depressed!) More ouside brawling ensues, with Ciampa getting launched over the guardrail.  And there's Gargano with another dive. You've got to see this one black dude in the crowd who is obviously a wannabe rapper wearing a Rusev Day shirt and a replica title belt that probably costs more than this car and/or yearly child support payments. Gargano starts peeling off the pads on the show floor, exposing the HARD, DEADLY CONCRETE below. Gargano goes for a couple of suplexes and Gargano counters with a super kick, then he launches Ciampa into the announce desk. Then the fans start chanting "Mama Mia!" because fuck these people, that's why. And right on cue, there's a shot of a fat, bald 30-year-old dude in the crowd wearing a Zelda shirt. Gargano gets hit in the balls with a tablet and Ciampa suplexes him off the table onto that aforementioned EXPOSED CONCRETE OF DEATH below. Nigel McGuinness talks about how "brutal" this match is and I'm just over here like "nigga, I've seen middle school bathroom fights that were more brutal than this shit.") Ciampa backdrops Gargano on a flimsy ass piece of the desk's decorative board and you can tell it wouldn't hurt worth a shit. Now Ciampa has Gargano back in the ring and Ciampa just keeps throwing him into the corners over and over again. Oh, and if Gargano loses, he's gone from NXT for good, or something. I wasn't really paying attention to the stipulations, TBH. Ciampa with  back body drop and he locks in a sorta' Texas Cloverleaf variation. Wait, if this is a "no DQ" match, how come the ref still enforces a rope break? Goddamn, between this and that Omega/Jericho match from WK, I'm not sure why these fuckers even bother touting matches as "no holds barred" no more. Ciampa stomps on Gargano's head and claps towards the crowd like a retarded fourth-grader getting a birthday cake. Then he steals the crutches of A TOTALLY LEGIT AND NOT PLANTED DISABLED FAN IN THE AUDIENCE  and starts swiging for the fences. Gargano lands a "fidget kick" and Ciampa reels to the outside. Gargano goes for a slingshot DDT and then he hits the shittiest sunset powerbomb you've ever seen in your life to the CONCRETE OF DEATH while those autistic NEET fans chant "you deserve it." Then Gargano gets the crutch and wallops that WOP like a wad of pizza dough. And there's the slingshot DDT - but it's only good enough for a two-count. Gargano tears off the turnbuckle pad. Ciampa elbows Gargano right in the fucking jaw and it is great. Ciampa with a spinout powerbomb, but it's only good enough for dos. Now the fans are chanting "we want tables" and the dude leading the crowd has the most country-ass accent you've ever heard in your life. "We Wuhnt Tab-Uhls!" Gargano with short-arm clotheslines (shades of the late, great Verne Troyer right there) and Ciampa kills that white nigga DEAD with a clothesline, but of course, since this is SOY CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, nobody sells anything and Ciampa hits Gargano with a reverese Frankensteiner he TOTALLY fucks ups. Then he locks in the GARGANO ESCAPE but what do you know, Ciampa gets to the ropes but Gargano suddenly realizes this is a no-DQ bout and refuses to relinquish the hold, and then Ciampa realizes "hey, I can't get disqualified for trying to dig this motherfucker's eyeballs out of his skull," so that's exactly what he does. Then Ciampa tries to wrap duck tape around Gargano's hands, but the two hold on to a single sliver of it and take turns punching each other. Time for that retarded "yay/boo" shit now. Ciampa gets the crutch again and fucking DECIMATES it on Gargano's back before doing this AWESOME powerbomb-into-a-lungblower combo. Which, of course, Gargano kicks out of. Ciampa says "this is my moment" so Gargano slaps him, super kicks him and lawn darts that motherfucker into the exposed turnbuckle I totally forgot about from like, 20 minutes ago. Ciampa with another super kick (that Gargano awesomely sells) but yep, that's just a two, as well. Ciampa hits a knee to the face on the top rope. And there's Ciampa with the "CIAMP BOMB," and Gargano kicks out of that, too. Apparently, Ciampa fucked up his knees on that move (kayfabe-wise, naturally) and he takes his knee brace off. Gargano whacks him with it, then he retrieves he crutch — just so he can stomp on it in the corner? Gargano threatesn to whack Ciampa with he bent remnants of the medical apparatus and Ciampa acts like he's showing mercy, and Ciampa (of course) goes for a cheap shot and Gargano locks in an STF while using his knee brace to choke Ciampa and yep, that gets him the tap out victory. His wife comes out in the postfight and they hug and shit while Ciampa is helped back to the ring. 

Meltzer's Rating: *****

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: Well, that was a really, really good brawl, but you'd have to be on the Fentanyl to think that was anywhere close to being a five-star classic. It was cool seeing the E try to do a "brutal" no-holds-barred battle without blood or people getting concussed with chair shots, and TBH, I just wasn't feeling the "intensity" that everybody else on the Internet is talking about. For what it's worth, I thought it was a damned fantastic extended TV match, but this stuff don't come close to the "NO DQ" shit WCW did back in the day — and don't even THINK about comparing this to the ungodly awesomeness that was prime Awesome/Tanaka back in the waning days of ECW.  Still, it'll probably wind up being one of the ten best WWE matches you'll see all year — and personally, I thought it was considerably better than that OTHER alleged five-star NO DQ brawl at WrestleKingdom. So, to reiterate, this is unquestionably a great match, almost bordering on truly fantastic — alas, I'm afraid it's just not the revolutionary in-ring event the internet masses *want* you to think it is.


April 8, 2018
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE WrestleMania 34)

Obviously this is a rematch of the big Tokyo Dome match from a few years back. There's some heavy metal guitar playing homo in go-go boots playing Shinsuke's theme really, really shitty before a whole bunch of dudes in red playing violins officially mark Nakamura's WM entrance. He's wearing an all-red jumpsuit and acting like a gay Japanese man having a seizure, so yeah, it's pretty much  your regular Nakamura entrance. AJ's entrance is really laid back by comparison. No pyro, no goofy costumes, no live music - it's just him wearing that big goofy belt and looking ready to kick some ass, rural Georgia style. LOL at the dude that's been holding up the "Team Hogan" sign all night that somehow hasn't been confiscated by security. Collar and elbow tie-up to begin. The jaw at each other in the corner. Shinsuke throwing some low kicks, AJ gets a waistlock takedown. Shinsuke bullies AJ into the ropes and Syles slaps the taste out of Nakamura's mouth. Nakamura with some forearm strikes, a dropkick and a kneedrop to the face. Shinsuke with knee strikes in the corner. Now he's choking AJ with his boot. There's AJ with a running knee to the face. Shinsuke is down. AJ with forearm smashes in the corner. Snap suplex, but it's only a one count. Nakamura with open hand palm strikes to AJ's ribs. AJ with a backbreaker off the ropes. He kicks Shinsuke while he's down. AJ with a snapmare and more kicks to the back. Another knee drop. Just a two-count. AJ with a neck crank. Styles is working the sleeper hold and Nakamura sells it like his head is about to pop off. Nakamura escapes and AJ FLATTENS that Japanese nigga with a picture perfect dropkick right to the jaw. Shinsuke kicks AJ's leg out from under him so he faceplants the edge of the apron. There's Shinsuke with a shining wizard (sort of) and holy shit, does Shinsuke look like fucking Golem or what when he's grimacing? Shinsuke with a one-legged dropkick off the top rope and both men are down. Nakamura hits AJ with a billion kicks and a knee to the ribs while he's racked over the turnbuckle like yesterday's laundry. Nakamura with a front facelock after an inverted suplex. AJ counters with a face-first slapjack of his own. AJ with a flying forearm off the ropes. Just a two-count. AJ with a pumphandle slam into a gutbuster. Nakamura kicks out. AJ sets up the Styles Clash but Nakamura dumps him over the top rope. He goes for the Phenomonal Forearm but Nakamura counters it with a Landslide. Yep, just a two-count.  Shinsuke sets AJ up for a superplex . Or something like it. AJ slips out and goes for a powerbomb. Shinsuke punches his way out of the predicament. Then AJ kicks Shinsuke right in the ACL, even though it looked like for all the tea in China that he kicked him right in his big Japanese testicles. AJ does some rolling, twisty shit and ends up locking Nakamura in the Calf Crusher. Shinsuke tries to get to the ropes but AJ rolls around a few more times and Shinsuke counters it into a triangle. But AJ goes full Rampage Jackson and counters it into a fucking small package brainbuster. Both men are splayed out in the middle of the ring now. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, but his back gives out on him. Shinsuke connects on a spinning kick. He racks AJ on the top turnbuckle, but Styles rolls out of harm's way on the running knee attack. Styles lands the Phenomenal Forearm on the rebound, but he kicks out at 2.9999. AJ goes for a a tumbleweed and Shinsuke hooks it into a small package attempt for another near full. AJ with headbutts galore. Now they're smacking the shit out of each other with hard forearm strikes. And there's the Pele kick. Nakamura is staggered but he manages to land the running knee to the back of the skull anyway. Another 2.9999999 nearfall. Shinsuke keeps hitting AJ right in the fucking skull with knee strikes and it's beautiful. Nakamura with a reverse exploder and he's gearing up for his finisher. But AJ counters it into a Syles Clash and THAT gets him the W. Then in the post-fight, Nakamura goes full evil, rice-eating Japanese heel and PEARL HARBORS AJ. Well, I guess that's just another reminder to not trust a Tojo, no matter how cool their theme music is.

Meltzer's Rating: *** 3/4

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict? Eh, that was really, really good, but nowhere near as great as their Tokyo Dome outing. The wrestling was solid, to be sure, but it didn't really feel like it was anything more than a very solid "clinic" with a 15-minute time limit. Both of these guys have had WAY better match-ups; simply put, as good as this was, it just can't compete with the A-plus material in both men's canons.

Welcome to the year 2018 ... when a morbidly obese, nearly 60-year-old Mexican is a legit nominee for wrestler of the year.

April 8, 2018
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey(WWE WrestleMania 34)

Trips and Steph come out flanked by a convoy of skanks on motorcycles. Now THAT is what I call "relationship goals." They kiss during a laser show (green ones, obviously), and Kurt Angle comes to a chorus of affectionate "You Suck" chants just like the good old days. Rousey comes out to her old Joan Jett UFC music and dressed just like Roddy Piper. Also, she's wearing a ton of black eyes shadow, which means for once, the *other* woman in the ring has skankier makeup than Stephanie McMahon. Steph gets a cheap slap on Ronda, then she pulls her down by her hair because she's a no-good ho, that's why. Angle and Trips start things off. Hey, remember when they wrestled back at the 2001 Royal Rumble? Pepperidge Farms (and autistic dorks on the Internetz) remembers. Angle with a back body drop and Angle works an arm wrench. Steph pulls the top rope down so HHH can send Angle sailing over the top rope. HHH tosses Kurt into the metal steps while the ref ain't looking. Steph slams Kurt's head into the metal steps for good measure. Hey, didn't they canonically fuck back in 2000 or something like that? HHH with some "ground and pound" and Michael Cole makes a crack about this being the LARGEST CROWD Ronda's ever competed in. LOL at Trips and Kurt AUDIBLY calling all their moves. Like, for two guys that have almost 50 combined years of ring experience, you'd think these fuckers would try to make it sound a little less conspicious when they tell each other "spinebuster" and "Irish whip" and shit. HHH ALMOST clocks his wife by accident but pulls his punch at the very last second. OK, that even got ME to bite on it a little. Angle capitalizes with a high angle suplex, and then Stephanie yanks Ronda off the apron right before Kurt tags her in. COOOOOLD-BLOOOD-EDDDD. Angle tags in Ronda and the Super Dome (figuratively) EXPLODES when Ronda makes a B-line on Stephanie and suplexes that bitch and punches her in the ovaries in the corner. Ronda throws Steph by her hair and T-bone scoop throws her halfway across the ring as the fans chant "break her arm!" over and over. Rona goes for her patented armbar but Stephanie manages to block it. Stephanie claws Ronda's eyes to escape and the fans boo the fuck out of her. Stephanie with a DDT but Ronda kicks out at two. Now Stephanie is working stump puller and to her credit, Ronda is selling the shit out of it. Ronda grabs Steph by her throat and lands a spinning fireman's carry. But HHH pulls the ref out of the ring before he can make the three count. Then Triple H yanks RONDA out of the ring and everybody gasps, which gives Angle just enough time to make the save and pound Trips' head on the announce table a couple of times. Angle feigns German suplexing Triple H off the table, but HHH just launches Angle off to the side a little. He goes back in the ring to tend to his wife and Ronda is in the ring, baiting HHH into a fucking STAND UP FIGHT. Sure enough, Ronda catches HHH with a flurry of punches and she goes for another spinning fireman's carry, only for Stephanie to run into the ring and slap her. Ronda catches her, only for Stephanie to slam her face first into the metal post (complete with a nice, voluble "ping" to boot.) Back in the ring and Angle hits Trips with a million billion suplexes, including three consecutive Germans. They counter each other's finishers and Angle FINALLY lands the Olympic Slam. Trips kicks out at two. Angle goes for the heel hook and Stephanie breaks it up to sass at him for a little bit. She tries to kick Kurt, he grabs her leg and the fans BEG him to put her in the ankle lock. Of course, Trips enters the fray and pedigrees Kurt, only for Ronda to come in at the last second (literally) to break up the pin. And there's the "this is awesome" chant. Trips threatens to pedigree Rousey, only to turn it into a powerbomb for no reason whatsoever which Ronda counters into a hurancanrana AND AN ARMBAR OUT OF NOWHERE.  Then Stephanie runs in and locks Ronda in a rear naked choke, only for Ronda to counter *that* into another armbar. Meanwhile, Kurt locks Triple H in the Angle Lock and HHH pushes Angle into Rousey to break both holds. HHH pushes Angle head first into the post, and Steph does the same to Ronda. One of the announcers makes a funny about Ronda never encountering anything like that in the Octagon before. Kurt and Triple H tumble out of the ring, and Ronda locks in the armbar again. Stephanie begs for mercy and McMahon TAPS  as soon as she wrenches back on that motherfucker. And of course, that's the cameraman's cue to pan to DANA WHITE cheering in the stands, because who *wouldn't* want to celebrate losing their top cash crow to a make-belief sport that just took your prime time FOX TV deal?

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

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: This is the second time I've watched this match, and it's only slightly lower quality than what I recalled seeing it live. Of course, you'd have to be a pure-D mongo to consider that "wrestling" at its finest, but as for as "sports-entertainment" goes, holy hell, was that a hoot and a half. Stephanie played the chickenshit heel role about as well as anybody has in the WWE in recent memory, and the interaction between Triple H and Rousey was just solid gold. Not even hearing Kurt Angle blurt out his moves before he landed 'em detracted from this 'un ... indeed, this might be the most overachieving match you'll see all year long.


April 08, 2018
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair (WWE WrestleMania 34)

Charlotte Flair comes out to her daddy's music while a bunch of dudes dressed like gladiators carry her to the ring. And good god, is the only thing worse than Asuka's ring attire her entrance music. Sheesh, that stuff just REEKS. Collar and elbow tie-up to begin. LOL at Charlotte doing the Fargo Strut, only for Asuka to kick her in the ovaries. Flair goes for the Figure Four early and Asuka counters with a knee to the face. Charlotte Flair looks like every waitress at your hometown IHOP working the Friday night shift at 10:30 that's quite clearly damaged goods, but you'd fuck anyway. Flair with cops galore and a turnbuckle bump ... except unlike her father, she doesn't flip all the way around and land on her face ... or owe mad back taxes, probably. Flair eats guard rail (err ... that styrofoam barrier, I guess?) and Asuka keeps kicking that ho. She goes for an armbar and starts working a hammerlock. Flair does a cartwheel and socks Asuka in the face and Flair drops Asuka like an ATOM BOMB with a big fat neckbreaker. Now Asuka is going for a rear naked choke; Flair ripostes with a backpack stunner. I dig, yo. Flair with multiple punches to the spine and a knee drop to the neck. Flair goes up top for a moonsault, and Asuka counters it wih a triangle. Holy shit, these two broads really do have better submissions than Zack Sabre. Flair counters THAT into a Boston Crab, they trade near pinfalls a couple of times and Asuka lands a spinning back fist. Asuka swings on the ropes to kick Flair in the left nostril. Yep ... John Cena looks plum retarded waiting ringside. But hey ... that three minute "dream match" more than made up for it, no? Anyway, Asuka lands a suplex off the apron to the show floor below. It's a pretty standard spot, but since it's two women doing it, of course the fans act like it's a Burning Hammer off the top of a steel cage into a fish tank of piranhas. Asuka pulls Flair's hair and they have a slap fight and Charlotte says "I'm the queen!" and that makes Asuka ANGRIER so she goes up top and lands a missile dropkick. She kicks Flair a couple more times and Charlotte chops that Japanese ho and hits the Spanish Fly off the top rope ... a move, by the way, that somehow manages to kill kayfabe deader than the goddamn Canadian Destroyer. And hey, wait a minute, isn't Spanish Fly used to rape people? I mean, if we're going to ride the coattails of this whole #MeToo thing, you *probably* might want to reconsider the name of that one. So Asuka locks Flair in an armbar and Charlotte goes for a figure four and she can't get it so Charlotte chops her some more and Asuka goes for the ASUKA LOCK, but Flair kicks out and Asuka screams at her in Japanese and Flair FUCKING SPEARS that bitch like a dolphin and it's great. Then Flair locks in the Figure Eight in the middle of the ring and Asuka TAPS! In the post-fight, Asuka grabs the mic, screams "CONGRAGURATION" and they hug, because FEMINISM, that's why.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: I didn't love this match as much as the rest of the Internet, but I do admit that it was pretty damn good. The pace was solid and the tempo built to a really good final stretch, with the last two or three minutes executed damn near flawlessly. All in all, it's a perfectly fine championship bout — nothing world-changing or anything like that, but nonetheless an enjoyable little outing.


April 14, 2018
LA Park vs. Rey Fenix (The Crash Lucha Libre, Tijuana)

Yep, THAT La Parka is still going, even though he's damn near 60 and weighs about 300 pounds ... of which 280 is easily his cerveza belly. Anyhoo, this is down and dirty Mexican 'rasslin and la gente are pumped for this shit before the first lucha horn even sounds. And all I can say is goddamn, does La Parka have some great, stiff-ass punches. This match wastes no time at all before becoming awesome as fuck, with La Park lawn darting Fenix into a row of chairs in the third row and then powerbombing that motherfucker HARD on the concrete below. I mean, sure, the chairs are made out of lightweight plastic, but still. And goddamn, La Parka is getting the fans to throw THEIR chairs at Fenix, too. Fuck man, this guy deserves to be on the uno peso bill by now. Also, I giggle at the primary sponsor of the even being something called "Star Milk." Anyway, La Parka keeps slapping the shit out of Fenix, then he takes off his utilit belt and starts lashing Fenix like Kunta Kinte. And I mean HARD. This crowd is just rabid for this shit and I love it. AND NOW LA PARKA HAS A GODDAMN HOT DOG CART AND HE'S BASHING FENIX IN THE FUCKING FACE WITH IT. Oh my god, this is one of the greatest things I've ever seen in my life. La Parka could strangle a baby in the middle of the ring and the crowd would still give him a standing ovation. Fenix finally gets some offense in with a super kick, and then a spinning corkscrew kick in the corner. Feniz does a rolling cartwheel into a stunner, but La Parka kicks out of that Gen Z shit 'cause he's a real man. Fenix with a dropkick and a plancha that sends La Parka flying into the third row. Now Fenix is slapping La Parka like a wife that won't listen and he fuckin launches La Parka into the eighth row of the other side of the ring. It just feels like a riot is going to break out at any minute. Both men back in the ring. Fenix staggers La Parka with a kick and hits a beautiful senton off the top rope for a dos. Then he does about four moonsaults in a row and that STILL doesn't keep La Parka down. Fenix with a running kick in the corner and then La Parka shoulder blocks that asshole right out of his boots. Like, that was an NFL quality helmet-to-helmet hit right there. La Parka gets a running start and punts Fenix out of the ring. Then he suplexes that asshole on the edge of the mat and the fans boo because they're no really sure how to tell their hijos and hijas what a "el homicid-o" means on the car ride home. La Parka does a suicide dive through the ropes to the outside and everybody is in AWE of a dude that old and that fat being able to do anything so cool-looking. Fenix just barely beats the countout and scurries back into the ring. La Parka immediately suplexes him back first into the turnbuckle ... just a two. La Parka lands a hammerlock DDT that is 70-times more brutal looking than Andrade Almas has ever landed and Fenix STILL kicks out. This is Spider-Man fighting The Blob, with everybody cheering for The Blob to win. Fenix lands  beautiful dropkick but La Parka kicks out. Fenix with some stiff elbow shots and a cartwheel kick that La Parka STILL kicks out out. La Parka with a hellacious clothesline, but what do you know, Fenix kicks out of that, too. Parka with a stalling suplex and a sitout powerbomb and Fenix fires back with a series of lightning fast kicks to the skull and another jawjacker. La Parka crotches Fenix on the top rope and then Fenix chops him down ... then he springboard kicks him right in the goddamn face. Yep, just a two. Rey Fenix lands a German suplex and a couple of elbow drops on the ground. Then he goes up top again, only for La Parka to get his knees up to facilitate a FUCKING STRAIGHT ARMBAR COUNTER. Fenix just barely escapes and La Parka shoves his foe into the ref. And there's La Parka with the Tombstone. However, Fenix no sells it and counters it into an abdominal stretch/cradle submission ... La Parka makes it to the ropes. Fenix goes back to the neck wrench from the crucifix position and La Parka breaks the hold again. Fenix kicks La Park right in his big, fat gut and hits a double stomp for a two-count. Fenix goes up yet again and Parka kicks the ref into the ropes so Fenix crotches himself. That allows La Parka to lock in this one submission that looks like for all the tea in China that he's sucking Fenix' dick to death and sure enough, the massive girth of Parka's penis near his mouth makes him FORMALLY TAP. Then "Bad to the Bone" starts playing while fans throw trash in the ring and I honestly can't think of a better ending to anything ever in history.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: That was fucking terrific in pretty much every way. You had the old gods of scumfuck Mexican rapist back alley abortion lucha libre smiling upon the next generation of masked grapplers in a bout that allowed La Parka to maintain his comeback pneuma without making Fenix look like a schmuck in the process, in turn giving us a wild and woolly old-school bloodbath that felt simultaneously modern and refreshingly antiquated. Definitely worth going out of your way to experience, especially if you prefer your fake fighting violent as fuck and with lots of rolling "r" sounds.


April 22, 2018
Tajiri vs. Taka Michinoku (K-DOJO 16th Anniversary Club-K Super Evolution 16)

Yep — it's the year 2018, and we're actually getting a match between Tajiri and TAKA MICHINOKU. Did you know they once had a match on Raw back in 1997? Because they totally did. Anyway, Tajiri is fat as shit nowadays (or fat as shit for a Japanese dude, at least) and looks REALLY chubby with his trademark goatee shaved off. TAKA, on the other hand, looks to be in pretty decent shape, despite his spare tire and impressive he-titties. Tajiri is STILL rocking the same pants he was wearing in ECW back in 1999. Tajiri goes for a waistlock, TAKA counters with a hammerlock and Tajiri kicks him hard, but not *that* hard. TAKA gets a clean rope break and then Tajiri fucking CRO COP kicks Taka and it's great. TAKA goes for a headlock takedown and Tajiri counters it into an armbar. TAKA makes it to the ropes. TAKA punches Tajiri in the gut and Tajiri locks in another hammerlock variation. LOL, nobody in the audience gives even remotely a shit about what's happening in the ring. Tajiri STILL working that armbar. Tajiri with another nasty head kick. Now he's looking for a kimura. This is kinda' like a really, really shitty version of BATTLArts. TAKA counters Tajiri and secures a chinlock. Tajiri gets his foot on the bottom rope. Tajiri looking for the kimura again. Well, I'll give them some credit — their shit looks WAY more realistic than anything Zack Sabre's doing nowadays. Tajiri with an elbow to the back, and there's the handspring elbow with shades of the Grea Muta. Tajiri misses the spinning head kick and Taka locks in another chinlock. They do some rolling around and TAKA starts REALLY wrenching back on that sumbitch. He switches over to side control and rubs his dick on Tajiri's face. He has Tajiri in head scissors and yep, he makes it to the ropes. Tajiri with a hard kick and Taka lands two big boots and a Michinoku Driver. Tajiri no sells it and lands his patented HEAD KICK O' DEATH and promptly collapses. TAKA lands a superkick and another Michinoku Driver and that's all she wrote, folks.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating:  ** 3/4

The Verdict: A decent (but that's about it) pseudo-shoot-style match-up. But considering how wildly beyond their primes both men are, it's about as good of a bout as we should've expected from them — which is sad, for a multitude of reasons.


MAY 2018

May 04, 2018
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Night 2)

These two motherfuckers have torn the house down MULTIPLE times in the past, so there's no reason to assume they won't likewise dominate the shit out of this one, too. LOL at Cyrus saying Tanahashi deserves to be on a Mount Rushmore of wrestling ... and not just Japanese wrestlers, either. I mean, goddamn, that's just an ignorant ass thing to say, even in shameless, intentionally exaggerated P.R.-speak. Well, this crowd is about 95 percent pro-Tanahashi, as expected. Collar and elbow tie-up in the center of the ring to begin. Okada feigns slapping Tanahashi on a clean break, but he lets him go. Goddamn, Gedo looks like the star of the Japanese version of "Duck Dynasty." I know I've said that a hundred times by now, but by golly, that still doesn't make it any less true. They trade hammerlocks and Hiroshi traps Okada in a headlock. And he ain' letting go of that sumbitch, either. LOL at Kevin Kelly trying to get over how tough Okada's schedule is by bringing up all those "autograph sessions" he has to push his body through. Tanahashi still working that headlock. Okada punches Tanahashi in the ribs to escape, and he counters with a headlock of his own. Now Hiroshi is lobbing haymakers. Okada with a shoulderblock, and then he hits Tanahashi with several armdrags. Loud ass "Tanahashi" chants pipe up throughout the arena. Okada with some hard elbows and forearm shots. Tanahashi with a chop block and a dropkick to Okada's kneecaps. Okada dropkicks Tanahashi off the top rope, but Hiroshi skins the cat on his way down. Okada grabs him and hits a hangman's DDT. That is what you call it when the stretch 'em out on the top rope and DDT 'em, right? Time for some outside brawling. Okada boots Tanahashi over the barrier. And there's ANOTHER hangman's DDT, this time on the padding on the show floor. Okada reenters the ring and Hiroshi holds his neck in AGONIZING PAIN on the outside. Hiroshi beats the 20 count and rolls back into the ring. Okada with a snapmare and a running baseball slide to the back of Hiroshi's head. The fans boo Okada when he puts his foot on top of Hiroshi's chest, all cocky-like. Okada drops Hiroshi with a European uppercut. Okada pounds on Tanahashi in the corner, taunting him a little bit, and then he breaks out the HEAVY ERBOWS. I chortle out how much Okada's pants look like a gaudy Indian rug. Now Okada's working a front face lock. Hiroshi ripostes with the old Rude Awakening neckbreaker. Now Hiroshi is elbowing the fuck outta' that Japanese nigga, then he makes Okada eat flying forearm. Then he dropkicks the fuck out of the motherfucker while this one Japanese ho covers her mouth in DEEP CONCERN (#totallynotaplant,forrealya'll.) Okada with a running knee and another DDT. Hiroshi kicks out. Okada lands that neckbreaker/neck-to-the-knee thing he does that REALLY needs a formal title by now. Okada with a scoop slam then he goes up top. Yep, he lands the elbow drop with SHADES OF THE LATE, GREAT Macho Man Randy Savage. Y'know, except without that part about having a heart attack and crashing his jeep into a
ditch with his high school sweetheart in the passenger seat, naturally. RAINMAKER CAMERA PAN OUT TIME~! Except Tanahashi gets up, slaps Okada around and hits Okada with a flying crossbody to the floor below. More outside brawling ensues, and Okada TOMBSTONES Tanahashi on the (safely padded) CONCRETE FLOOR. Both men BARELY escape a double countount and then the roll around writhin in the middle of the ring for a little while. They tradin' punches on they's knees now (sorry, I hang around a lot of black people and sometimes their vernacular subconsciously influences me.) Both men are up and trading forearm blows. Both men pretend to be all wobbly and Hiroshi finally collapses. We get another hockey brawl and Okada gets dropped by a European uppercut. Okada misses a dropkick and and Hiroshi hits that twisty neckbreaker thing AND the Sling Blade. Just a two. Hiroshi goes for the frog splash and sure enough, Okada rolls out of the way. He dropkicks Hiroshi multiple times, but Tanahashi counters the Rainmaker into a Sling Blade. Huh ... how weird is it that a Japanese wrestler named one of his finishing moves after an American independent movie about a retard that kills Dwight Yoakam? Okada goes for a Tombstone, but Hiroshi fights his way out. Okada dropkicks Tanahashi halfway across the ring on the followthrough. I fucking LOVE Okada crawling towards Hiroshi with an evil ass Roy Batty look on his face. But wait, Hiroshi was playing possum the whole time, and he's able to capture Okada and hit a Tombstone on HIM! Tanahashi goes up top and he hits Okada with one frog splash, but Okada gets his knees up on the second 'un. Okada can't land a Rainmaker so he German suplexes, Tanahashi, then Hiroshi hits a dragon suplex, then Okada hits a dropkick and then Tanahashi hits a Sling Blade. OK, that was a great sequence right there. Hiroshi goes up top again. Okada dropkicks him on the crossbody attempt. Tanahashi counters Okada's Rainmaker with ... what else? ... a Rainmaker of his own. But Okada kicks out at one. LOL at Hiroshi bitch slapping Okada and LOL at Cyrus even more for saying "in your face!" after he does it. Okada goes for the Rainmaker again, except this time Hiroshi slaps the taste out of his mouth before he can hit it. But Okada maintains that dreaded WRIST CONTROL. Nope, never mind, he just lost it. Okada holds on to Tanahashi's britches and he lands the Rainmaker out of fucking nowhere and THAT gets him the flash three-count. And in the post-fight, Okada challenges Omega to a two out of three falls match at Dominion. Now that is some top-notch Heyman booking right there, I tell ya' what.

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

My Rating: ****

The Verdict? That was shaping up to be a legit MOTY contender, all the way up to the TOTALLY out of left field finish. Jeez, talk about an anti-climactic way to conclude a match; motherfucker gives a dude a wedgie/short-arm clothesline tandem and THAT ends a 40-minute rivalry match that was JUST starting to hit its boiling point. Still, it was fun watching HEEL OKADA act like a vindictive, cheating-little asshole, and, as always, Hiroshi fucking brought it despite only having like, five moves, in his arsenal. Clearly, these two men have had WAY better matches and in the grand scheme of things I guess this one can't be seen as anything other than a *mild* disappointment, but for what it was — and wasn't — it was still pretty enjoyable. 


May 05, 2018
Masashi Takeda vs. Abdullah Kobayashi (BJW Endless Survivor 2018)

I don't even know how to begin to describe Kobayashi's wardrobe for this match. Uh — morbidly obese bag lady, maybe? Meanwhile, Takeda looks like a modern Japanese 20-something, which means he looks like an American 20-something from 20 years ago, right down to the Slim Shady LP-era bleached coif. Anyway, I've said this before, but Kobayashi looks more like a legit serial killer than any wrestler I've ever seen. Shit, I actually WOULDN'T be surprised if one day the police found third-grader bones in his apartment or something. This being a Japanese death match, we've got all sorts of crazy shit all over the ring, including light tubes galore and a giant board with about 15,000 nails sticking out of it. They have a light tube battle and Kobayashi headbutts his stick into Takeda's face. Kobayashi takes a back first bump into some tubes and Takeda baseball slides some sticks into Kobayashi's face and it's actually quite brutal looking. Both men are busted WIDE OPEN as they brawl around the perimeter of the ring. Takeda pulls out a fork and jabs it into Abdullah's already gory forehead. Goodness, this is just a HIDEOUS specacle and I love it. Takeda breaks another tube over Kobayashi's back and then he breaks out the scissors and starts SAWING open his foes forehead. There's already more blood in this match than has been allowed in the last decade of WWE matches. Takeda breaks out some more forks and starts poking Abdullah's forehead like the buttons on an elevator. This thing is like a cross between The Three Stooges and Dead Alive. Takeda wacks a chair ON TOP of the fork sticking out of Abdullah's forehead, but he can only get a two count. Can you believe this shit actually aired on REGULAR TV in Japan? I've said it once and I suppose I'll be saying it a million times — two bombs just weren't enough for these people. More light tube fu ensues, complete with Abdullah karate chopping the glass into Takeda's titty meat. More face carving ensues. Abdullah takes a  back-first bump into the bed of nails and Takeda follows suit by breaking a million billion tubes on his pin-cushion like spine. Then Takeda pulls out a BED OF FORKS, and Abdullah body slams him ass first on the razor sharp kitchen utensils. LOL at all the light tube bundles that are literally shaped like hashtags. Abdullah gets rocketed through the pyramid of tubes and Takeda hits him with a senton off the top rope. Only good enough for a two-count. Good lord, does Takeda have the shittiest kicks I've ever seen. Kobayashi does him one better with both the world's slowest, fattest shining wizard and the world's slowest, fattest elbow drop one after the other. Kobayashi lies the bed of spikes in the middle of the ring and sets Takeda up for a powerbomb, but even though he sticks it Takeda KICKS OUT. Abdullah rummages for some more light tubes and breaks about, I don't know, 50 of 'em by simply LAUNCHING them at Takeda like baseballs. Abdullah body slams Takeda on the spikes again and goes up top. Takeda chases him and lands a SUPERPLEX on top of the forks. Abdullah kicks out. Then Takeda pulls out a GODDAMN BUTCHER KNIFE and Kobayashi counters it with a Boston Crab, only for Takeda to grab the knife, slice up his back and land a German suplex followed by a bajillion knees on the ground. Kobayashi kicks out of another shining wizard, and Takeda locks in an armbar while Kobayashi's on the bed of the nails for the official submission win.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: Well, that was sleazy as fuck and I'm halfway ashamed to say I enjoyed it as much as I did, but what the hell ever. A lot of these Japanese death matches tend to run together, but this one was certainly one of the better ones to come out of the Land of the Rising Sun so far this year. Check it out of you're a degenerate, which if you're reading this site, you almost assuredly are.


May 08, 2018
Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali (WWE 205 Live #076)

Apparently, the IWC thought their cruiserweight tourney battle earlier this year was fucking ace, but I never saw it so I reckon all of this will be new to me, won't it? Ali comes out wearing a Sub-Zero costume, and it looks like something you'd buy at Target come Halloween-time. Meanwhile, Buddy Murphy is some generic Mick with a shitty haircut. Ali literally looks like a starving version of Roman Reigns. Ali goes for a hurrancanrana, but Murphy almost powerbombs him on the reversal. They exchange slaps and Buddy goes for the powerbomb again, only to get hurrancanranned out of the ring and dropkicked onto the announce table for his Troubles. Get it, "Troubles," because he's Irish and shit? Well, actually, he's Austrailian, but fuck it, I'm running with it anyway. Anyway, Murphy lands a running musclebuster on the show floor, but he can only get a two-count when he rolls Ali back into the ring. Murphy with some shitty-looking kicks to Ali's back. Now he's working a rear chinlock. Ali with a jawjacker and they wipe each other out with flying crossbodies at the same time. Ali with a dropkick off the ropes and some crappy looking forearms off the ropes. Murphy works a rear naked choke variation, then Ali locks in a sleeper of his own. Murphy escapes the hold by cannonballing Ali headfirst into the turnbuckle. Huh. I wonder why nobody's ever tried that strategy in the Octagon before? Ali clocks Murphy good with a series of forearm shots and Murphy kicks Mustafa a couple of times, only for Ali to lands a spike DDT off the ropes. That looked pretty cool, actually. Murphy throws Ali off the top rope and knees that Muslim nigga a couple of times before hitting him with a needlessly convoluted powerbomb-spinout-facebuster thingy. Murphy lands three powerbombs in a row and Ali looks like a housecat having a seizure. The ref mulls stopping the match because of Ali's concussion-like symptoms, but Mustafa begs him to allow the match to continue. Murphy goes for a fourth powerbomb, only for Ali to turn it into a facebuster at the very last second. No, I don't know how the physics were supposed to work on that counter, either. Ali perches Murphy on the top rope and Buddy throws him off ... only for Ali to super kick that motherfucker when he leaps off the turnbuckle himself. Is it just me or does Ali look like Lena Dunham's boyfriend on Girls a little? Mustafa misses the 450 splash, Murphy drops a knee on Ali's arm and slams that asshole headfirst into the ringpost. Murphy nails his finisher (a half nelson into a brainbuster) and yep, that scores him the three-count, folks.

Meltzer's Rating: ****

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: A solid TV match-up, for sure that bordered on being a legitimately great contest regardless of the time restraints. Yes, it was a glorified indie jobber flip-fest, but it was certainly one of the better glorified indie jobber flip-fests you bound to see on American TV these days — good stuff teetering on almost being great right here.


May 15, 2018
Hideki Suzuki vs. Daisuke Sekimoto (BJW Endless Survivor 2018)

These BJPW pre-fight promos are pretty good — although at 12 minutes in length, preposterously overlong, too. Both men get the streamers treatment and for modern day Japanese wrestlers, both these motherfuckers are RIPPED, especially Sekimoto. Well no, I take that back, Suzuki is kinda' fat, but that's neither here nor there. We get some good old fashioned mat 'rasslin to begin, complete with Sekimoto working the world's slowest ankle lock. Sekimoto goes for a wristlock and we have a standstill. This is a very unique style of wrestling — not quite amteur, not quite BattlArts, not quite old schol NWA, but some sort of mixture of all three. Suzuki, the defending champ, makes it to the ropes. Now it's time for man meat galore as the two try to crush each other in a test of strength. Then they keep trading nearfalls and Sekimoto locks in a bear hug. This most definitely ain't for all tastes, but I'm certainly digging it. Suzuki breaks the hold with a hip toss. Suzuki with a neck wrench from the snapmare position. Sekimoto body slams Suzuki, but Hideki doesn't let go of the neck crank. Sekimoto body slams Suzuki again but sure as sugar, Hiedki doesn't break the hold. The ref does the old "I'm gonna' lift your arm three times in a row and if it falls down thrice this match is over." Of course, Sekimoto makes a Hogan-esque comeback, only for Suzuki to slam him and drop a knee on his face. Suzuki locks in an abdominal stretch, and I'll be damned if he doesn't make one of the most basic moves in all of wrestling look goddamn lethal. LOL at Sekimoto Godzilla stomping his way to the ropes and launching Suzuki over the top in the process. Sekimoto with a nasty backbreaker and Suzuki rolls to the rain-tarp covered floor. Sekimoto launches Suzuki into the corners and chops him like one of George Washington's cherry trees. TORTURE RACK TIME MOTHERFUCKER. Suzuki counters with a standing rear naked choke. Suzuki hangs on for dear life, but that doesn't prevent him from eating a knee-crusher. Now Sekimotom is woking a full nelson, which Suzuki counters into a full nelson of his own. It's amazing how those two dudes make the most mundane wrestling manuevers feel genuinely threatening again. Sekimoto slowly reverses the stump puller and the crowd goes bananas. This is just the manliest match I've seen in ages. Sekimoto has Suzuki in an arm wrench now, and Suzuki tries to barrel roll his way out of it. LOL, it doesn't work and Sekimoto keeps it locked in. Suzuki lands a fucking BEAUTIFUL flying head scissors and transitions it into a triangle, then a leg scissors from side control. Sekimoto flips out of the hold and transitions to a seated heel hook. This stuff is just marvelous. Now Sekimoto is headbutting Suzuki's leg. Apparently, it did the trick, since it allows him to set up the sinle leg crab. Suzuki makes it to the ropes. Sekimoto goes for another knee crusher and Suzuki elbows him in the head about 15 times. Suzuki locks in a boss looking stump puller and T-bone suplexs Sekimoto damn near out of his shoes. Sekimoto works a headlock and lands a bulldog. He works for a German suplex, can't get it and decides to body slam Suzuki instead. He goes up top and Suzuki knocks him off. Sekimoto hits Suzuki with a clotheslines while he's still on the apron, and now it's time to exchange chops and clubbing blows. Sekimoto gets dumped over the top rope. Suzuki with a European uppercut and Sekimoto follows suit with a couple of avalanches in the corner and a fallaway tiger suplex. Sekimoto lands a HUGE missile dropkick, but Suzuki kicks out. Suzuki rocks Sekimoto's world with a German suplex, but then Sekimoto turns around and fucking DESTROYS Suzuki with a lariat-o. Suzuki with a kick to the balls to earn the crowd's displeasure, and then he murder death kills Sekimoto with a wicked tombstone piledriver variation. Sekimoto, however, kicks out. Suzuki sets Sekimoto up for anothe tiger suplex and Sekimoto flips him over. Suzuki catches Sekimoto with a short arm lariat and he works for a guillotine choke. He transitions to a sleeper and Sekimoto lands a STIFF AS FUCK German suplex, but the 30-minute time limit runs at right before the referee can register the three-count. Then 1970s blaxploitation music starts playing over the PA system, because let's face it, after a match that awesome, that's pretty much the only kind of music you could play. Then Sekimoto and Suzuki show their respect for one another by beating the living dog shit out of two younger trainers, just 'cause.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: I absolutely loved everything about this match. In a lot of ways, it's the antithesis of the New Japan light heavyweight spot-a-thon. It was slow-paced, it stressed realism and all of the transitions felt organic and logical. There were no chair shots, no broken tables, no double-reverse moonsaults to the outside, but it was still thrilling, captivating, edge-of-your-seat entertainment from bell-to-bell. This is about as close as we're going to get to modern day King's Road 'rasslin — if you miss Kawada, Kobashi and Misawa (and you goddamn better), then you need to do whatever it takes to catch this match out there in Internet-land.

...and it's way better looking than Roman Reigns' spear, and I'm not even trying to be ironic about it neither.

May 15, 2018
Yuji Nagata vs. Ayato Yoshida (NJPW Lion's Gate Project 12)

Yoshida's music is fuckin' boss. It's like something you'd hear in a Sega Saturn shoot-em-up. And of course, Nagata's theme is just balls-out epic in ways I find hard to describe — if we're gauging this shit just be walkout music, I'd call it a dead heat. For a 50-year-old, Nagata really doesn' look *that* old. Yuji working an arm wrench early. Yoshida counters, and Nagata ripostes with a headlock takedown. This is one of those dead quiet Japanese crowd, so you can hear every heartbeat in the audience. At one point Nagata gets tired of Yoshida's shi and punches him hard in the corner, and that goads Yoshida into kneeing him in the face and tossing him out of the ring. So much for respect for your elders, right? LOL at Yoshida's emo haircut. He feeds Nagata stiff forearm shots on the outside then Yuji starts stomping him in the crowd. They roll back into the ring and Yuji knees him right in the fuckin' face. As far as I'm concerned, most wrestling matches *should* be nothing but Nagata kicking motherfuckers hard. Nagata with a mean arm wrench. Yoshida makes it to the ropes ... only to eat more boots from Nagata. Yoshida starts to no sell 'em and begs Yoshida to clobber him and then we have a standing battle for forearm blasts ... culminating with Yoshida dropping Nagata with a flying fist off the turnbuckle and a great looking Bulldog. He hits a scissors kick, but it's only good enough for a two-count. Now it's Yoshida's turn to kick Nagata like a motherfucker. Yuji catches Ayato's leg, and Nagata counters it into a guillotine choke. OK, that was cool. Yuji makes it to the ropes, though, to break the hold. Yoshida with a standing headlock and Nagata explodes with a standing T-bone suplex ... which Ayato follows with a NASTY boot to the face. Nagata drops Yoshida with a spin kick to the back of the head. Then Nagata sits on Yoshida's back and tries to yank his arm out of the socket. Now this is some superb pseuedo-shoot-style submission 'rasslin right here. Yoshida makes it to the ropes and Nagata looks pissed. Nagata with another armbreaker and a shining wizard in the corner. There's the stalling suplex. Just a two-count. Nagata with another hard kick to the skull, with Yoshida hitting a back suplex after his own foot to the back of the skull attack. They trade blows on their knees, with Nagata goddamn BLASTING Yoshida with an insane series of forearm shots. Fuck, this is just tremendous. Yoshida staggers Nagata with his own forearm barrage, and then Nagata drops Yoshida to one knee and almost gets the win following a sternum punt. Nagata then lands a brutal belly to back suplex, and yep, that's all she wrote. In the post-fight, Nagata gets on the mic and says some shit, and like fuck I know what he's saying. Sorry — but it least I'm being honest with you guys.

Meltzer's Score: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: I'm a sucker for "young up and comer trying to prove his mettle against an established vet" shtick, and this has to be one of the best done matches of the like I've seen in quite some time. Yoshida looked great in a losing effort that also made Nagata's ancient ass still look like a potent in-ring threat, and it really has me champing at the bit to see both men ply their trade against one another in the future. With so much great rasslin' out there these days, really good mini-classics like this are bound to fall through the cracks — do yourself a favor and check this one out if you have the time and access to Russian websites that give even less of a fuck about international copyright laws than out American ones.


May 15, 2018
Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shota Umino (NJPW Lion's Gate Project 12)

Holy shit, Sekimoto is easily twice the size of this Shota prick — it literally looks like a member of the Yakuza taking on a 12-year-old J.V. wrestler. Sekimoto gets a headlock takedown early, and these New Japan-worshipping Japs, for whatever reason, seem to really want to see Umino the Anorexic win this one. Anyhoo, Umino won't give Sekimoto a clean break so Daisuke has to shove him halfway across the ring. Shota lands a hip toss and gets some ground and pound in, bu Sekimoto doesn't sell it because he's SEKIMOTO, god damn it. Now it's time for that fucker to get chopped so hard I'm pretty sure it counts as losing his virginity. Man, watching that little shit try to slap Sekimoto is just a hoot and a half. There's a great moment where Daisuke kicks at a cameraman and flips off the crowd, then he starts bodyslamming the SHIT out of Umino. Like, I'm pretty sure you can see the turds flying out of his ass when he hits the mat, if you pause it at just the right moment. Sekimoto locks in a single-leg crab and Shota slowly inches his way towards the ropes. It takes him a while, but he finally gets there. Fuck almighty, are Sekimoto's chops a sight to behold. Shota catches Daisuke with a dropkick off the ropes and he hits him with a few stiff forearm shots and takes Sekimoto off his feet with a spinning elbow to the face. He lands a top rope missile dropkick but only gets a two for his efforts. Then he locks in a straight armbar, but Daisuke just won't budge. Sekimoto makes it to the ropes and then he PELES Shota like a bitch. Umino goes for a backslide and a schoolboy, but each attempt only nets him a two. Shota lands another top rope missile dropkick and a bridging German suplex ... but it's only good enough for a two-count. Sekimoto WRECKS Shota with a backbreaker and locks in a Boston (err, Tokyo?) Crab, but Shot slowly crawls his way to the ropes. Sekimoto, though, is slow to break the hold. A straight punch to the clavicle sends Shota flying halfway across the ring and it is beautiful. Then in quite possibly my single favorite moment of any match so far this year, Shota slaps Sekimoto like a school girl about half a dozen times and Daisuke goddamn THROTTLES HIM with a lariat-o and a vertical suplex on the follow-through ... but amazingly, Umino kicks out. Sekimoto goes up top and FLOORS Umino with a missile dropkick of his own. Shota kicks out AGAIN. Sekimoto hits a spinning shoulderbreaker and MURDERS that poor bastard with one of the sickest clotheslines you'll ever see in your life and THAT's the match right there, kids.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: Good lord, I could watch Sekimoto maul that poor fuck all day. Seriously, this was a Sid Vicious in his prime level destruction, and I highly doubt you'll see a better ass-whooping all year round. That, and any excuse to hear Daisuke's boss-ass disco-Sega CD music is A-OK in my book.


May 24, 2018
Kento Miyahara vs. Naomichi Marufuji (AJPW Super Power Series 2018 - Tag 7)

Kento looks like what would happen if you merged Okada and Tanahashi into the same person ... and that person got his own really shitty-looking knockoff Dollar Tree action figure. The sound temporarily cuts out for Marufuji's entrance, probably because it's an actual song and the Japs are too cheap to dole out a royalty check. Both men get Hulk Hogan colored streamers. So, yeah, basically, this is All Japan vs. NOAH, and as we all know, those two companies have absolutely ZERO beef with each other, whatsoever. Fuji offers to shake Kento's hand and he tells him to buzz off. Collar and elbow tie-up to begin. Kento gives Fuji a clean rope break then Fuji tries to cheap shot Kento with head kick . They trade throws for a bit and we have ourselves a standstill. Fuji works an armwrench and Kento starts rolling around, trying to escape the hold. Kento with a headlock, a boot to the face and a massive flapjack to send Fuji reeling to outside. Kento headbutts Fuji, like hard, and even All Japan's shitty cameras pick up the sickening "conk" sounds. Now Kento is trying to pull Fuji's head THROUGH the metal ring post. I've never seen that one before, and it looks mean as hell. Fuji fucking kicks Kento *around* the pole and then it's time to chop that sumbitch something wicked. All I can say is that the ability of both these men to eat a metal pole face-first is truly world-class. Fuji works a headlock on Kento back in the ring. Nope, Kento ain't getting out of that shit that easily. Kento goes for another headbutt and Fuji locks him in another headlock ... now that was excellently set up. Fuji just isn't letting go of that headlock, and give the fucker credit, he's one of the few wrestlers on the planet who can make a move so basic look truly life-threatening. Kento reverse a cross-armed choke and strangles Fuji with his own biceps ... only for Fuji to step over his own hands and reapply the hold. Fuji with a drop toehold and he goes right back to the headlock. Kento makes it to the ropes. I love how the Japanese term for "rope escape" is also "rope escape." Fuji hits Kento with some Satanic chops in the corner and a running knee, but Kento manages to drop his ass with a running knee to the sternum of his own. Kento lands a running boot and face crushs Fuji onto a nearby chair. Well, it looked kinda' gay, but I guess it was brutal-looking enough, I guess. And there's Kento with a sneak attack headbutt. Just evil, my man, just evil. Fuji with some MEAN boots to the face and a real life goddamn Mortal Kombat combo to drop Miyahara to the mat. Fuck, I LOVED THAT. Fuji catces Kento with a dropkick off an Irish whip, and it's obvious that Fuji is STILL one of the top ten workers on the planet right now. Fuji feigns going for a piledriver off the apron and oh shit HE LANDS IT. That is easily one of the sickest spots I've seen all year, if not the absolute most BRUTAL. The refs tend to KENTO to make sure he isn't legit paralyzed and Fuji hits him with a missile dropkick while he's rolling back into the ring. COLD-BLOODED. Kento with a boot to the face, then Kento drops Fuji with a super kick of his own. Yeah, this is already better than anything New Japan has done so far this year. Kento with forearms, and Fuji replies with chops. Fuck, Fuji looks like he's trying to kill a motherfucker with those things. Kento hits him with a boot to the face, a brainbuster and a shining wizard. Fuji just barely kicks out. Kento with a stalling German suplex, and Fuji kicks out a 2.9999 on that one, too. Kento looks for a dragon suplex and Fuji goes for a goddamn gogoplata, of all things, and he has that fucker locked in right in the middle of the ring. Fuji lets him up, only to hit him with a lungblower without letting go of the submission. Kento momentarily escapes, only for Fuji to kick him in the face super-hard one more time. Fuji with another brutal kick in the corner. Kento kicks out. Fuji lands a running cutter variation off the top rope, but KENTO kicks out of that, too. Fuji goes for his finisher, but Kento worms his way out and dropkicks him on the spine. Kento screams in rage, grabs Fuji by his britches, then Fuji hits another Mortal Kombat combo and then Kento knees  Fuji in the face three times and there's like 15 different reversals and then Kento hits the stalling German to FINALLY record the three-count.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: That was simply superb in every way. I haven't really been a believer in Kento, but this is easily the best match of his I've ever seen. These two guys put on the best 2010s NJPW/1990s AJPW hybrid my peepers have ever envisioned, and this thing was just fluid and fun as fuck from start to finish. What a shame a match this good will almost certainly get lost in the 2018 MOTY sweepstakes ... a bout this solid deserves way more eyes on it.


May 25, 2018
LA Park, Flyer and Volador Jr. vs. Rush, El Terrible, and Le Bestia Del Ring (CMLL Super Viernes)

Oh shit, LA PARKA has invaded CMLL and challenged Rush to a hair vs. mask match at the big 85th Anniversary Show later this summer! But first, we get to see La Parka and the rest of La Familia Real take on Los Ignobernables ... whom immediately run out of the crowd and start whaling on La Parka and pals before their ring entrance is finished. This is just goddamn madness and I love it. Los Ignobernables are all wearing black and white varsity jackets and every last one of them looks like the Mexican version of Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds. You've got the trademark CMLL dancing hoochie mamas running fr their lives while Rush and La Parka beat the crap out of each other, and the fans boo like motherfuckers as Terrible and Bestia stomp on Volador and Flyer like discarded cigarette butts. Thankfully, the Igs are wearing their names on the back of their jackets so it isn't too hard to tell which one is which. Those video billboards around the ring apron just look futuristic as fuck. Forget New Japan, CMLL is the most post-post-modern promotion on the planet right now. Lucha horns sound en masse as the Igs pound on La Parka while the Meskin faithful chant for La Familia to make a comeback. Sure enough, the faces make a comeback and hit triple stereo planchas on the rudos in what might just be the single coolest fucking spot in rasslin' so far this year. The referees raise La Familia's hands in victory, but the Igs ain't finished yet. The replay the plancha from early and my goodness, does La Park make the greatest, fattest human lawn dart of all-time. Time for el segunda caida. We start off with La Parka and Rush going at at one-on-one. Of course, an all out brawl ensues, and it ain't long before the battle spills to the outside again. The Igs take cover in the stands while La Parka's fat ass walks around kicking the ringside ads, because he's a rebel. Or something like that. Now it's Flyer vs. El Terrible, and Terrible LITERALLY looks like a drug cartel rapist. The rest of the Igs stomp on Flyer and Rush literally shakes his balls at the audience on the rampway. Flyer hits Terrible with a flying headscissors and then Volador head scissors Bestia. Now it's time for Rush vs. La Park FOR REAL and the Arena Mexico crowd totally loses its collective shit. La Parka slaps the taste out of Rush's mouth and then Rush trips him up and starts to untie his belt. Now it's time for the hells to lash La Parka like a runaway slave ... and those smacks are absoultely DEAFENING. I'm not even going to pretend the rule set on this one, but Bestia and Terrible just scored back to back pins on Flyer and Volador, but since La Parka hasn't been pinned yet, the fall ain't over. Anyway, La Parka and Rush continue to brawl all over the arena, with Rush smacking La Parka right in the fuckin face with a giant-assed luggage carrier. Man, that was beautiful. OK, time for the third and final caida. I guess the rudos won that last one after all? So Rush (whom the announcers pronounce as ROOSH) kicks La Parka in the face and does the Naito pose in the middle of the ring, except when he does it he actually DOESN'T look retarded. Rush tries to yank La Parka's mask off and the fans gasp in unison. The crowd yells "L.A. Park" as he gets triple-teamed by the rudos. At one point, he eats a TRIPLE DROP KICK before the rest of La Real Familia runs in for the save. The heels beat the shit out of Volador and showboat to the crowd while digital ads for Hemamina-branded vitamins play in the background. La Parka pulls Rush out of the ring and Volador starts fucking up ... uh, I think that one's Bestia? Now LA PARKA has the travel luggage carrier of death, and he fucking SKULLS El Terrible with it, complete with confetti flying all over the place. It's official — there has never been a wrestler AS GOOD as hitting people over the head with things than La Parka. The faces have Bestia isolated from the rest of the herd, so La Park grabs his belt and gives HIM the Kunta Kinte treatment. Now La Parka HAS AN ELECTRICAL DROP CORD. Oh, he just smacks one of the Igs with it once. And here I was, thinking he ws going to strangle a motherfucker or something. The heels are hiding outside the ring, trying to collect their wits, while the faces wait for 'em in the ring. La Parka chops Rush silly and they take turns clotheslining each other before La Parka DOES THE FARGO STRUT and hits Rush with a weird looking DDT. Rush with a powerslam, and La Park ripostes with another DDT. Just a dos. La Parka goes for an abdominal stretch, then the heels come in to kick him in the face. Flyer and Voldador go for double pins, but we get in stereo kickouts from the bad guys. How snazzy is that over-the-ring camera set-up, by the way? It comes down to La Parka and Rush one-on-one once again. La Parka hits Rush with a Nightmare on Helms Street/Final Cut variation, but Rush kicks out. La Parka shoves El Bestia face first into Rush's balls and then La Park fucking SPLATTERS Rush with a big fat plancha off the top rope to the outside. Flyer dropkicks the remaining heels to the outside and then he and Volador hit stereo planchas again. Yep, it's time for La Parka and Rush el solo again-o. La Parka goes for a rolling senton into the corner but misses, but GODDAMN does he spear Rush out of his shoes on the follow-through. THIS IS LUCHA, MOTHERFUCKERS! La Parka takes a while to make the save, and of course, Rush kicks out at two. Man, I don't know who that ho outside the ring with the perm and the gold lipstick is, but even by Mexico City standards she is trashy. Rush accidentally wipes out the ref on an attempted body splash, then he hits La Parka with a low blow. These fans are LIVID and it almost makes me want to cry with joy. Then Voldador runs out with a chair, clocks Rush right in the fucking face with it and scores the pinfall for La Familia.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: You'd have to go back to the post WM17, pre KOTR 2001 Raw and Smackdown run to find a TV match that does AS GOOD a job getting you hyped for an upcoming main event this many months in advance. This match set out to do two things, and it does both of them exceedingly well: give you a preview of the biggest match of the marquee show of the year AND keep you absolutely glued to your set for a full half hour ... which, in this day and age, is quite the accomplishment. Sadly, this bout will almost certainly get lost on the MOTY-shuffle, but for me, this is far and away the best TV match of 2018 to date ... and easily one of the best matches overall. The action was nonstop, the story-telling was exquisite, and without rolling out all of their tricks and spoiling the spectacle down the road, Rush and La Parka absolutely fucking BROUGHT IT, getting you double-excited for the 85th Anniversary hootenanny. And let's give Voldador, Flyer, Bestia and El Terrible some dap — they certainly did their part to keep the bout together and augment the Rush/La Parka dynamic without it watering down the high drama at all. Throw in the molten crowd and the outstanding ending and you have a recipe for one of the most exciting and entertaining bouts you'll see all year round — DO go out of your way to experience this one, kids.


JUNE 2018 

June 04, 2018
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori (New Japan Best of the Super Jr 25 FINAL)

Takahashi's ring attire looks like something Lisa Frank throw up after a bad acid trip. Meanwhile, Taiji is a muscular dude with black lines on his face that weighs like 135 pounds. We get a collar and elbow tie-up to begin, and Takahashi hits Ishimor with a shotgun dropkick. Ishimori responds with a Frankensteiner. Hiromu goes for a sunset powerbomb, but Ishimori gets out and they take turns throwing shitty punches at each other in the crowd. Now they're brawling their way up the stairs, trading blows all the while. Hiromu lands another running dropkick and Hiromu tries to powerbomb Taiji down the cement steps, but Taiji counters it into a hurrancanran and the next thing you know, Takahashi is doing a best impersonation of a Slinky. LOL at all of the ring crew wearing tee shirts that look like Reese's cup advertisements. Taiji launches Hiromu into the metal turnbuckle  then he chucks him into some chairs. Now he's using one of them to crush Hiromu's trachea. Now that is some highly technical wrestling right there, kids.Ishimori kicks Hiromu in the back and slides under the bottom rope to German Suplex Takahashi off the ropes. Which, yeah, technially means Hiromu just fell backwards, but KAYFABE REASONS, ya'll. Ishimori works a sleeper and Hiromu fights his way out. Never mind, Taiji locks in the rear chinlock again. Hiromu gets a rope break. Ishimori (dig those leather pants, dog) chops Hiromu in the corner and Hiromu punches Taiji off the apron. NOW Hiromu lands the sunset flip powerbomb to the outside. Give him credit, that did look pretty awesome. Both men beat the 20 count and Hiromu drop kicks Ishimori. In case you couldn't figure it out, both of these motherfuckers LOVE using drop kicks. Takahashi with a reverse Tarantula (that old submission Tajiri used to do in ECW) and then Hiromu faceplants Taiji with a wheelbarrow (read: inverted) powerbomb. And, of course, he follows that with another dropkick, because of course he would. Takahashi lands a senton. Ishimori kicks out. Ishimori goes for a springboard elbow and Hiromu simply clubs that Japanese nigga in the back and we all have a hearty chuckle. Ishimori goes for a cheap pin, and when that don't work he turns it into a crossface. Goddamn Taiji looks like Willem Defeoe. It's actually scary how close the resemblance is, actually. And Hiromu finally gets the rope. Time for the obligatory forearm shot exchange. Hiromu with a flying headscissors, and Ishimori counters it into a crossface. OK, that was kinda' awesome. You know, I forgot who great this Super Junior shit could be when the wrestlers actually TRIED to wrestle instead of do fucking stunt show flips and shit for thirty minutes. Oh fuck, Ishimori has a missing tooth JUST like Benoit. Now I'm actually kind of horrified. Hiromu grabs the ref's hand to keep from tapping out and Ishimori exends Takahshi's shoulder back and right before it pops out of the joing Takahashi gets a rope break. Takahashi eventually overhead belly-to-belly suplexes Ishimori into the corner, and he fucking rocks Ishimori's world with a lariat and then he lands THE DIAMOND PLUNGER. But Ishimori kicks out. Takahashi with another clothesline in the corner and a fucking bad-ass Frankensteiner-into-a-package-piledriver hybrid off the top rope. This is easily the best New Japan juniors match I've seen in a LONG time. Takahashi steamrolls Ishimori into the corner and goes for the Time Bomb. Of course, Ishimori escapes and Taiji hits a reverse Frankensteiner, only for Takahashi to no sell it and then hit his own reverse Frankensteiner, although Hiromu's looked way shittier. Now both men are splayed out in the middle of the ring. Now they're trading blows on their knees, which, I know, makes it sounds like they're performing oral sex on each other, but they really aren't, I swear. Man, Korekean Hall or Kroakin' Hall or Kevorkian Hall or whatever the hell its called is such a great venue for 'rasslin. Both men exchange winded forearm smashes and Ishimori turns Takahashi inside out with a clothesline, but Hiromu kicks out at one. Ishimori lands another drop kick and double knees to the face. OK, that is a fucking brilliant concept for a finisher right there — act like you're going to Tombstone a motherfucker, and then drop that nigga facefirst on your patellas instead. Ishimori powerbombs Takahashi, and that's when Hiromu locks in a triangle. Wait, did they just say the name of Ishimori's finisher was the "Burning Cross?" Uh ... guys, about *that* particular namesake. Anyhoo, Ishimori powerbombs Takahashi to break the submission hold and he spikes him with a badass uranage that looks a million times more brutal than any Rock Bottom. Ishimori goes up top, he goes for the 450, but Hiromu gets his knees up. I really like how Takahashi sells his knees being hurt, too — that's a really nice touch. Takahashi with a hurrancanrana, an aborted triangle and then he drops Ishimori straight on his head with a locked butterfly piledriver. The name might sound innocuous, but I assure you, it looked painful as all hell. Takahashi locks in another triangle and Ishimori makes it to the ropes. Hiromu launches Taiji into the corner, he hits the Time Bomb and THAT's what gets him the three-count AND this year's Super Junior Cup — which is actually just a giant aluminum trophy that looks like something a local bowling league might hand out at the end of the season, but what the hell ever.

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

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: That was certainly one of the better New Japan junior matches I've seen in quite awhile. Of course, a 5.5 out of 5 rating is plum preposterous, but it is a refreshing change of pace to see a much ballyhooed New Japan anorexia-weight flip-flop-a-thon actually live up to all of the hype. A hell of  match here, though, no matter how you slice it.


June 09, 2018
Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito (New Japan Dominion 6.9)

Jericho comes out the "Judas" by Fozzy just like he did for the match against Omega on Jan. 4. He comes out wearing a fedora and black lipstick and LITERALLY looks like a Reddit atheist and it's arguably the cringiest thing he's ever done in his career. Well, if you ever wanted to see what Alex DeLarge looked like if he sucked cock, well, wonder no more. Meanwhile, Naito comes out wearing a Voltron mask and a white robe. Depending on your perspective, his all-white get-up is either an homage to Tony Montana or Colonel Sanders. Naito leaves the Intercontinental title on the rampway 'cause this isn't a title match. Jericho, ironically enough, Pearl Harbors Naito before he can even get into the ring, and we have a wild hockey brawl ringside already. Jericho suplexes Naito on the show floor and drops a camera tripod on his stomach. Now Jericho has the timekeeper's table. Huh. Jericho is looking kinda' chunky nowadays. And that's our cue for Jericho to powerbomb Naito's ass through one of those skinny ass buffet tables they have at ringside. Jericho grabs the camera and flips off Naito while Cyrus makes a crack about the camera costing $30,000 and wondering what the guys in Stamford think about "this animal." Jericho DDTs Naito on another table and Naito sells the shit out of it, complete with his legs shooting up in the air 180s degrees. Then Jericho signs an autograph for a fan and tosses it in his face. Jericho rolls Naito in the ring and the bell for the formal match-up begins. Jericho feeds Naito knuckle sandwiches and does the old Hulk Hogan ear-cup pose a couple of times. Naito starts to fight back but Jericho stops him with a double underhook backbreaker and a Lionsault. Naito kicks out at two. Cyrus says Jericho has held every WWE title, which isn't true, because he hasn't held the Universal title or the Diva's championship, nor the Light Heavyweight championship, you lie-teller, you. Jericho calls Naito "a piece of shit" and ragdolls him across the ring. Naito takes a mean back-first bump. Then another one. The fans still chant "Y2J" even though he's mopping the floor with their national hero.  Jericho locks in the Walls of Jericho, but Naito gets the ropes. Jericho tells Red Shoes to shut his mouth and Naito spits in Jericho's face and tackles him a few times. Naito with an inverted DDT and a dropkick to the back of Jericho's noggin. Naito with another great dropkick (this one with the ring rope as a springboard to hit Jericho while he's laying down in the corner) and Naito lands back-to-back neckbreakers, first on the edge of the apron and then off the apron to the show floor below. Now Naito is choking Jericho with a tee shirt and the fans boo. Jericho eats a back first guardrail bump, then Naito grabs a piece of the broken table and bonks Jericho good with it. Naito is bleeding underneath his right eye. You know, the one he tries to pull out of his socket to imitate being a white man sometimes. Naito drags Jericho to another table and he piledrives that Canadian nigga on it. Back in the ring and Naito hits a dropkick to the back of Jericho's skull. Jericho makes Naito eat a boot to the face. He goes for a Frankensteiner and Jericho counters it into a GANZO BOMB-INTO-A-LIONTAMER. That shit was stellar. Jericho catapults Naito onto the top rope and he finally hits that flying hurrancanranna. Then he uses the ropes for a springboard DDT. Jericho kicks out. So wait ... this match IS for the Intercontinental title now? I am so confused. Jericho rolls through a Gloria attempt and locks in the Walls of Jericho again. LOL at Jericho screaming "ring the bell!" and the referee looking at the cameraman and going "no, no, no!" Of course, Naito makes it to the ropes and Jericho has to break the hold. Naito hot shots Jericho on the top rope and Naito lands a German suplex. Naito goes for Destino and Jericho scoops him up for a botched back body 'plex. Naito with clubbing forearm blows and THEN he lands Destino. Jericho grabs hold of the ropes to break the pinfall attempt. Naito's bleeding again. Time to exchange slaps. Naito kicks Jericho in the back of the head and spits at him and misses by about four feet. How do you botch a loogie? Jericho hits the Codebreaker on a counter, but Naito kicks out. Now they're throwing winded haymakers at each other. Jericho goes for the Lionsault, but this time Naito gets his knees up. We have an enzuigiri and a Gloria from Naito, but Jericho pushes him into the ref on the Destino attempt ... thus allowing Jericho to hit a second Codebreaker on the rebound, and thus secure the pinfall to win the IWGP Intercontinental title. In the post-fight, Jericho gets a few more free shots on Naito. Then he grabs the belt and clobbers Tetsuya with it. Then he hits him with his leather belt like Naito was a slave and then EVIL comes out and he clotheslines Jericho out of his shoes. EVIL grabs the belt and, of course, Jericho starts to flee, because that's what cowardly heels do, you know.

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

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: Another good New Japan brawl from Jericho, that was just as good as the Omega bout, if not slightly better. Granted, the ending felt a little rushed, but beyond that it was a mostly solid brawl from start-to-finish. But Jesus Hernandez Christ, please let that be the last time Jericho ever comes out looking like an Insane Clown Posse groupie ... 


June 09, 2018
Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada (New Japan Dominion 6.9)

We start off with a pre-fight video recounting the first three Okada/Omega matches, complete with this REALLY homoerotic segment where Omega seeks the tutelage of Kota Ibushi like he was Yoda or something. And here comes Okada, looking like Ric Flair's illegitimate Japanese lovechild, wih Gedo (or is that Jado) trailing behind him while Monopoly main rains down from the rafters. Unless you've been living under a rock since Cinco De Mayo, you'd know this one is a best two-out-of-three falls match with NO time limit. Better break out the Mountain Dew now kids, 'cause this shit is gonna' take at least an hour. Yep — Kevin Kelley just came out and SAID Omega is canonically homosexual with Ibushi. Masahiro Chono is pulling announcing duties for the Japanese feed. I wonder if he's talking about the wrestlers' fondness for sodomy, too. I like how Okada is basically wearing an Indian rug for pants. The first fall begins and, as expected, it's arm drags galore leading up to our first stalemate of the contest. The fans try to chant "Omega" but it keeps sounding like "Oh Mah Gawd" and that makes me chuckle heartily. Omega works an arm wrench while Kelley runs down all of the people Okada's defended the title against. The pace is pretty slow right now, but that's to be expected. Kelley tells a weird story about Omega taking up fishing to help improve his focus. Okada twists Omega's ankle while Omega yanks on Okada's coif. Collar and elbow tie-up in the corner. Okada feigns chopping Omega, then Omega feigns feeding him a knuckle sandwich and he pulls away at the last second, too. They do about 15 million counters and reversals and both men spill out to the floor below. They trade fisticuffs and neither one of these two men can lob a punch worth a good goddamn. Okada punts Omega over the barricade and Omega knees Okada in the sternum on a flying crossbody attempt. Omega scoop slams Okada on a pile of PVC piping then he rolls the IWGP Heavyweight champ back into the ring. Holy shit, they just panned out into the crowd and Japan now has non-Sumo, normal fat people now. They really have embraced the West, at last. Omega kicks Okada in the back a couple of times while Gedo scream "YAS, COME ON RAINMAKUH" and then Omega takes a running punt right at Okada's noggin. Just a two-count. Okada eats turnbuckle pad, then Omega starts wheeling out the chops. Omega with a backbreaker. Okada kicks out at two. Now Omega is working a chinlock. Omega transitions to a Camel Clutch. Okada makes it to the ropes. Omega with more chops and Okada hits him with a flapjack. Okada drops Omega with a series of running elbows into the corner and a DDT. Omega kicks out. Omega gets nothing but air on an aborted plancha, so Okada runs back into the ring and hits one of his own on Omega. Okada boots Omega, then Omega hits a snap hurrancanranna. Omega with a sliding baseball dropkick to send Okada over the guardrail. Omega follows suit with a flying crossbody into the first row. Omega lands a leapfrog bulldog (don't that sound like some Island of Dr. Moreau
shit?) but Okada kicks out. Omega goes for a V-Trigger; Okada blocks it a few times but Omega finally lands it. Okada blocks a reverse Frankensteiner and hits a STIFF German suplex. Omega kicks out. Okada has the dreaded WRIST CONTROL. OK, he just lost it. Omega looks like he's going for a superplex. Omega drops Okada with a forearm smash. Omega threatens to dragon suplex Okada off the top rope, and Okada responds by Tombstone piledriving Omega on the edge of the apron. Okada dropkicks Omega off the apron onto the guardrail and Omega lands right on his ribs. Well, that looked hurty. Okada lands a dropkick off the top rope but Okada kicks out. I know I've said this before, but holy hell, does Gedo looks like the Japanese equivalent of a Bushwhacker. Okada hits a top rope elbow drop, RAINMAKER CAMERA PAN OUT TIME!~ But Kenny knees Okada right in the face and slings Okada over the top rope. Cue "The Rise of The Terminator" cannonball to the outside. Omega throws Okada back into the ring, goes up top and dropkicks Okada on the back of the head. Okada kicks out. Omega foes for the OWA, Okada counters with a V-Trigger, he goes for the OWA again and at the last second Omega turns it into a stalling, elevated German suplex. Okada kicks out again. Omega with another V-Trigger, but Okada dropkicks Omega on the rebound. Say what you will about that Japanese nigga, but he does have some SMOOV looking dropkicks. Omega hits a V-Trigger as a counter to the Rainmaker. Omega kicks out once more. Okada hits a Frankensteiner and follows suit with a Frankensteiner. Okada goes for a Rainmaker, Omega counters it into crucifix pin and Okada traps both the legs to secure the first pinfall of the bout. It's 1-0, Okada, and both men get a two-minute water break. La Segunda Caida begins and Okada immediately dropkicks Omega off the turnbuckle pad to the show floor below. Okada tries to squeeze Omega's head through the guardrail holes ... talk about a scientific manuever! Now he's pummeling Omega's ribs. Okada pushes Omega off the guardrail into the SECOND guardrail at ringside. Okada with a hangman's DDT on the padding at ringside. Back in the ring and Okada is no-selling Omega's chops. Okada drops him with a big boot. LOL at Cyrus saying Omega has among the biggest hands on the NJPW roster. Okada works a Cobra Clutch. Omeg gets out of it with an Ace Crusher. Omega with a back suplex. Then he hits another one, this time on the edge of the apron. Now Okada has one of those hilarious looking, skinny-ass Japanese buffet tables. Omega takes a running start and stomps the table onto Okada. It doesn't break and doesn't even look all that brutal. To his credit, though, Okada has some of the most pitiful screams — you literally get concerned for his safety every time he starts yaping like a beach blonde puppy. Okada goes for a senton, but Omega gets the knees up. Okada with an, uh, fireman's carry suplex? Yeah, let's call it that, I suppose. Okada with a "shotgun dropkick." Okada goes up top. Omega pursues. He lands a suplex off the top rope. Omega with a Samoan Roll while saying "you can't escape" in the gayest way possible, then Okada points at a table, because apparently Omega infected him with autism. Omega with a tornado DDT then he threatens to German suplex Okada through it off the apron. Okada holds onto the rope while Omega patomimes packing his fudge and Omega hits a reverse Frankensteiner on the show floor after both men tease hitting their finishers. Okada gets back into the ring at 19. Omega, ever the opportunist, hits a V-Trigger, goes for the OWA and Okada ripostes with a Tombostone. Okada goes for the Rainmaker and Omega ducks it and responds with the best Uranage of his career. Of course, it's only worth a two, though. Time for a forearm exchange. Omega with a snap dragon suplex, Okada hits a dropkick, Omega hits a dropkick (LOL  at the replay showing Omega didn't even touch him) and we get a billion reversals and Omega landing his eight billionth V-Trigger of the match. Then he hits Okada with the old Christopher Daniels Angel Wings and spikes Okada right on his fucking head. Okada, naturally, kicks out. Time for yet another V-Trigger. NOW Omega hits the One-Winged Angel, and it's tied up one-fall a piece now. Time for another two-minute water break. Okada has been laid out the entire time. Gedo tries to stall the ref and the bell rings. Omega goes for another OWA and, of course, Okada FINALLY hits the Rainmaker on the follow-through. Omega kicks out. Okada teases another Tombstone. He can't get it, so he goes for some kind of weird-looking gutwrench thing. Then he gives up and just starts clubbing Omega with double axehandles and European uppercuts. Okada goes for a dropkick but Omega doesn't even bounce back off the ropes in time to eat boot leather. Omega goes for a piledriver. He can't get it so he starts palm striking Okada's back. Omega lands a Styles Clash (and the announcers call it that) but Okada kicks out. Then the fans start chanting "AJ Styles" and I laugh my fucking ass off for all of time. Omega with V-Trigger No. 7,564. Omega lands a package piledriver, and of course, Okada kicks out while Kota Ibushi (who looks just like he could be in a K-Pop boy bad) looks AGHAST. Omega goes for the 450 splash (Ibushi's own finisher) but Okada rolls out of the way. The defending champ lands a dropkick then Omega V-Triggers him AGAIN. Goddamn, how many times is he going to spam that fucking thing? Well, at least one more time, apparently. Omega catches the next knee, though, and hits another dropkick. He goes for the Rainmaker, but he collapses right before he can connect. Oh, ain't that a kick in the pants. Now we've got a potential double countout situation. They trade blows on their knees, but strangely neither are arrested for the act of prostitution. Omega with headbutts and Okada hits the Rainmaker outta' nowhere and oh shit, he retains WRIST CONTROL. There's another Rainmaker and Okada looks all angy and shit and I'm not going to lie, he kinda' looks like Katy Perry a little. Omega ducks the next Rainmaker and hits Okada with a German suplex. Omega with another German suplex, then Okada hits a German of his own. Okada has wrist control again. Omega ducks it and he hits another German. Omega with another reverse Frankensteiner, but it's clear Omega did more damage to his OWN head than that of his opponent. Omega goes for a V-Trigger (again) and Okada hits another dropkick ... again. Okada goes another Rainmaker and Omega hits a One-Winged Angel. But he sticks it next to the ropes so he can't go for the pin. Omega lands another V-Trigger, another OWA and THAT scores him both the third stanza AND the IWGP Heavyweight Championship around the 65 minute mark of the match. Then the Young Bucks come out and Ibushi joins them for a big old queer hug as Gedo drags Okada back to the locker room. Omega cuts his post-fight promo in Japanese. Then he starts speaking in English and he refers to the Young Bucks and Kota as his Four Homosexual Horsemen stablemates and then the gold confetti starts raining from the ceiling. Then Cody Rhodes comes out and everybody boos, because fuck him, that's why. The Bucks hoist Omega on their shoulders and they stop just shy of sucking each other's dicks to celebrate the title win.

Meltzer's Rating: *******

My Rating: **** 1/2

The Verdict: Well, that was a hell of a spectacle bout, I'll give them that. I think one of the big tragedies we run into these kinds of bouts when they're overrated to the point of retarded hyperbole is that it detracts it from the fact the matches themselves are otherwise excellent to outstanding. For example, I'd no doubt consider this one of the ten best matches of 2018 thus far, hell, maybe even top five, but with Meltzer giving it 19 stars, 24 Bigfoot peckers and 11 Loch Ness Monster nipples, it's hard to objectively analyze the bout without automatically debunking its status as alleged GOAT. Look, this was a fantastic match, probably the second best of the rivalry next to the first Tokyo Dome bout, and it's easily my favorite New Japan match of the year so far. That said, there's no way this is the best match of 2018, let alone the single greatest match ever, so anybody who goes into the fight expecting anything less than uncontested goddamn perfection is going to be disappointed.


If he were alive today, Shakespeare would totally be into this shit right here.

June 10, 2018
Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Naomichi Marufuji and Takeshi Sugiura (NOAH Navigation With Emerald Spirits)

Of course, this is a big tribute show to Misawa, which is kinda' sad because there can't be more than 500, 600 people tops in attendance. Go and Nakajima come out first, and I laugh my ass off at Nakajima looking like he's too stoned to find his way to the ring steps. Marufuji comes out rocking Gary Oldman's haircut from The Fifth Element and Sugiura comes out looking like Kensuke Sasaki, except older and with an alt-right haircut. So it's Takashi and Nakajima to begin. Despite his Jewfro and pencil-then mustache, Nakajima does have some hard-sounding low kicks. I love the portrait of Misawa hanging up in the background. I'd totally put that shit in my living room. Nakajima rolls to the outside and Marufuji gets the tag. Marufuji keeps dodging Nakajima's kicks and they just smile at each other like homosexuals. Nakajima tags in Go. He looks like a beefy Japanese Robert Downey Jr. He misses on a spinning karate chop and Marufuji kicks him in the face a couple of times. Go with a THUNDEROUS chop to the sternum. Marufuji with more shins to the forehead, and Go responds with another MASSIVE chop. Marufuji drops him with a SICK knee to the face in the corner. Kenny Omega, please do take note. Nakajima peels the padding off the show floor below and he and Sugiura start a brawling. Sugiura hits a twisty neckbreaker on Kajajima and Marufuji piledrives Go on the edge of the apron. Go hits a sidewalk slam (sorta) and Nakajima gets tagged in. He boots Sugiura in the face and Marufuji drops Nakajima with a dropkick. Now Nakajima's kicking the shit out of EVERYBODY. He goes up top and hits Marufuji with a double stomp to the sternum ... while he's still standing. Just a two-count. Maru keeps trying to chop Nakajima and Naka keeps kicking him, until Maru finally rocks him with a crescent kick and a roaring elbow. Now Sugiura is in and he and Nakajima exchange kicks to the face. Now it's elbow city. Nakajima finally drops Sugiura with a knee to the solar plexus then he tags in Go. Shiozaki rattles off a million billion titty slaps in the corner and a running kung fu chop. Sugiura kicks out. Go lifts Sugiura up for some kind of suplex but Sugiura couners it with a front facelock slam and two back-to-back running knees to the face. Go sticks the top rope superplex, then he locks in a Boston Crab. Maru and Nakajima brawl on the outside as Go makes the slow crawl to the rope break. He gets it and then it's time for he and Sugiura to exchange MANLY ass bitch slaps and forearm shots. Go eats a knee to the sternum but he kicks out. Nakajima kicks Go in the face, and then Maru spin kicks the fuck out of everybody and then Go clotheslines him out of his boots. Then he hits Sugiura with a lariat and the fucking GO FLASHER and then Maru hits him with a running knee using his own partner's back as a launchpad. Time for more chops. Go with a lariato, but Sugiura kicks out-o. Nakajima hits Maru with a brainbuster and Go lariatos Sugiura one more time to pick up the pinfall.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: A very fun tribute to Misawa that never really hit any snags or doldrums. You've got four puro boomers who know they blew their chance at becoming the next big Kings Road stars just throwing everything they've got at each other in a desperate attempt to regain what meager glory they obtained a decade ago. So yeah, this is pretty much the Japanese pro wrestling equivalent of a sad Bruce Springsteen song ... except with way better clotheslining, naturally.


June 15, 2018
L.A. Park, Volador Jr and Rey Fenix vs. Rush, Cibernetico and El Terrible (CMLL Viernes Espectacular de Arena Mexico)

Rey comes out to Mexican gangsta rap while a bunch of Hispanic hoochies shake their asses on the rampway. I'm pretty sure Volador Jr. comes out to Marily Manson's cover of "Personal Jesus." And, of course, L.A. Park comes out to "Bad to the Bone," which is the most fitting fucking theme in the history of anything ever. By the way, this is the ORIGINAL La Parka, a.k.a. the good one that's all fat and violent and awesome. Cibernetico comes out to "Seek and Destroy" by 'tallica while Los Ignoberganables or however the fuck you spell it come out to some drug cartel mystic sounding shit and, of course, La Parka wastes NO time at all before running up the ramp and taking a swing at that no good sonofabitch Rush (whose name is pronounced like "Roosh," because that's Mexico for 'ya.) All six competitors are beating the shit out of each other in the middle of the ring and its fantastic. Rey dropkicks a whole bunch  a motherfuckers and El Terrible gores him out of his boots and now it's time for La Parka and Rush to go at it uno y uno and La Parka literally starts running around in circles trying to avoid getting his ass kicked and Rush steals his belt and starts giving him the 12 Years a Slave treatment. Except this time, he whacks La Parka RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE with it, which is somethign I don't think I've ever seen in a 'rasslin botu before. Anyway, Voldador Jr gets kicked in the face for wearing that ridiculous yellow suspender costume while Los Igs triple team Park with clotheslines and dropkicks galore. Fuck Cibernetico looks old as shit, but at least he has a a decent looking giant swing (which is enhanced quite a bit by Rush dropkicking Volador right in the face during the grand finale.) Fenix eats knees in the corner and La Parka absorbs even more damage from Rush. The Arena Mexico set design has to be my favorite in all of wrestling. With the digital display around the ring and the constantly changing digital ads in the background, it literally looks like we're watching Mexicans killing each other inside a pinball game. The ref takes a bump so Parka spears Rush THROUGH the second rope (I guess that makes it a spear/tope hybrid) and then Fenix starts breaking out the flippy shit. STEREO SWANTONS TO THE OUTSIDE YOU COCKSUCKERS. Now it's La Parka and Rush going at it one on one again. La Parka with a backbreaker, but the ref is still incapicated. Then Rush acts like La Parka hit him in the balls so the ref gives the heels the first fall via DQ. Well goddamn, that was unexpeced. Time for la segunda caida. Now La Parka's got the belt and he's ready to rock and roll, but Rush is a pussy with a perm so he won't go back into the ring. Volador throws him into the lion's den with La Parka and it's time to appropriate Roots. Rush gets lashed in the fucking face and then El Terrible eats leather, too. Cinernetico and Volador stare each other down Ciberneico challenges him to a stomach slapping contest. La Parka gets tagged in and he WAFFLES that motherfucker with an open hand slap like E. Honda or something. Cibernetico ducks Volador's slap and whacks Volador on the back of the head. Then Volador hits a flying headscissors and Cibernetico goes outside to take a powder. Now it's Fenix against El Terrible. Fenix does an arm drag off the top rope and hits a spinning kick in the corner, followed up by a dope dropkick. Rey hits an Ace Cutter on El Terrible and its La Parka versus Rush again, complete with La Parka shoving his balls into Rush's face just to show him who's boss. La Parka with a headbutt and a clothesline. They exchange splashes and Rush hits a power slam and a fucking BOSS swanton to the outside. Rey stomps on El Terrible's head like a goomba in Super Mario Bros. and La Parka hit the shittest spinning sidewalk slam of all time for a two count. La Park accidentally clotheslines the ref and La Parks hits his fucking ACE spear on Rush. It's just so fat and awesome looking. Then Rush grabs a pair of NUNCHUCKS, but La Parka grabs them out of his hands and the ref shoves La Parka down and grants the heels another DQ victory while the announcers describe La Parka's nunchucka twirling skills as Jackie Chan-like. In the post-fight, La Parka challenges Rush to a hair vs. mask match at CMLL's 85th anniversary show in September, which is something we've already known was going to happen but now it's all official and shit and if that ISN'T a sure-fire MOTY contander right there I'll eat my own sombrero live on the Internet.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: This was nowhere near as good as the trios match from late May, but holy shit, was it still an enjoyable as hell TV main event. You've got all the ingredients of a great La Parka match — fat ass spears and blood and people getting head over the head with luggage — plus the exciting variable of a set of nunchucks. Hell, this match is worth going out of your way to witness, just to see La Parka do his best Michelangelo from the Ninja Turtles impersonation.


June 16, 2018
Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet (NXT TakeOver Chicago II)

Velveteen Dream is the most brilliant gimmick the WWE has rolled out since Goldust. Who'd ever thunk Prince: The Wrestler would've turned out to be such an incredible character? Dream comes out dressed as Hulk Hogan, which is pretty funny, because last time I checked, Hulk Hogan, and I quote, "hates niggers." Even better, he sexually harasses the ring girl. Fuck, Velveteen Dream rules. Meanwhile, Ricochet comes out looking like Thor's mulatto stepchild. Meanwhile, Dream lays out on the announce table like his fucking Magnum P.I. or something. It's a good thing they dim the lights on the audience at these kinds of show, because goddamn, are they some of the most beta looking motherfuckers I've ever seen. You can almost SMELL the Hot Topic and Reddit dripping off these people. Anyway, the match officially starts and we've got ourselves a collar and elbow tie-up. Then Dream starts posing like Hogan again, but for some reason the crowd don't really react to it. Also, LOL at the announcers having to go out of their way to avoid making any references to the Hulkster. Dream with a headlock, and Ricochet counters with an arm twist, which he transitions into a headlock. Dream with a running shoulder block and a botched tilt-a-whirl headscissors, although Ricochet lands on his feet. Ricochet does a whole buncha' needlessly flippy stuff and Dream just gawps at him like "for real, nigga?" Then Nigel compares Ricochet to a "worldclass parkour competitor," and yeah, that pretty much sums up wrestling today, don't it? Dream throws Ricochet off the top rope and he rings his own neck on the top rope. Now he's gotta' pretend like he's dying like Ricky Steamboat used to. Dream stomps the shit outta' Ricochet in the corner. Then Dream hits Ricochet with a cannonball senton over the top rope. Get it, because he's stealing all of Ricochet's moves and shit? Ricochet with a back elbow and Dream launches him out of the ring. Here comes Dream with a rolling senton over the top rope. Just a two-count. Dream working an extended chinlock. Ricochet starting to fight back, just as the dueling "Ricochet/Velveteen" chants pick up. Ricochet misses the enzuigiri but he does connect on the dropkick on the rebound. He lands a suicide plancha through the second and top rope and then a flying corkscrew. Ricochet with a 619 variation and a flying forearm smash. Ricochet with a jumping neckbreaker and a standing shooting star press. Just a two. Ricochet gets crotched on the top rope, then he shucks Dream off and then he climbs back up and Dream lands a modified Death Valley Driver off the top. Ricochet kicks out. Then Dream lands a sick stalling suplex off the apron to the show floor below and both men act like that killed them DEAD. Back in the ring and Dream hits another Death Valley Bomb. Ricochet kicks out at two. Dream with axe handles, Ricochet with European uppercuts. Dream goes for a DDT, but Ricochet counters. They exchange super kicks and Ricochet waffles Dream with a clothesline that doesn't even get close to connecting on anything. Dream lands his twisty DDT variation and, of course, Ricochet kicks out of that, too. LOL at Velveteen telling Ricochet he belongs in a bingo hall "with hot dogs and handshakes." Ricochet hits his own Death Valley Bomb, then he goes up top and hits Dream with a flying elbow drop. Dream kicks out of "The Purple Rainmaker" then he goes up top again, presumably for the 630. Dream rolls out of the way. He goes for a shooting star press, but Dream gets his knees up. Ricochet kicks out of the pin attempt, too. Dream goes up top and he misses the Purple Rainmaker by a country mile. Ricochet sees his moment of opportunity and climbs the turnbuckle once more. He sticks the 630 and yep, that's what gets him the pin.

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

My Rating: *** 3/4

The Verdict: Yeah, that was a glorified spotfest, but as far as modern day glorified spotfests go, it was still pretty satisfying. Granted, Velveteen probably should've been the one who went over, but if there's anything sadder than grown men complaining about the outcomes of FAKE FIGHTS, I haven't heard about it yet.


June 16, 2018
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa  (NXT TakeOver Chicago II)

Both Gargano and Ciampa come out wielding crutches. Gargano clotheslines Ciampa over the top rope and hits him wih a senton off the apron. They're both wearing boots, Bunkhouse Brawl-style. Now that's a nice touch. Gargano launches Ciampa into the announce desk and then they start brawling in the crowd. This one neckbeard in the audience screams "you're the Devil, Ciampa!" and we all cringe.  Gargano steals a sign from a plant in the audience and in a loving homage to ECW, it secretly contains a stop sign, which Gargano uses to waffle Ciampa like a ... uh, waffle, I guess? Holy shit, there's an actual "EC-Dub" chant going on now. Gargano hits Ciampa with a flying crossbody off the guardrail, and it's especially dramatic because the cameraman didn't linger on the set-up and you just see Gargano fucking sailing into the shot. WWE camerawork has gotten a lot better over the last year or so, especially in NXT. Back in the ring. Gargano starts pulling some plunder from underneath the ring. Ciampa Germans Gargano a couple of times and then Gargano lands one of his own, followed by a suicide tope to the outside. Gargano makes Ciampa eat metal stairs and then Ciampa hits Gargano with a running knee. LOL at the camera catching Ciampa calling Gargano "a piece of shit." Ciampa hits Gargano in the ribs with a steel chair and feeds him a buffet of knuckle sandwiches. Then he places the chair around his neck and torpedoes him into the aforementioned metal steps, and Ciampa just lays there on the mat staring at Gargano like a registered sex offender outside a playground. Ciampa grabs a metal garbage can and launches it at Gargano's noggin. Ciampa pulls off his airbrushed T-shirt and socks it over Gargano's face and the ref tells him "not to choke him," which, yeah, I think is an upper management warning just as much as it is a kayfabe edict. Now Ciampa gots some handcuffs, so I guess that means it's time for the Fifty Shades of Grey shit to start. Gargano hits a springboard spear and he pulls his belt off. Yep, time to play abusive step-daddy. The fans chant "you deserve it" while gets Ciampa gets the runaway slave treatment. Gargano puts the metal garbage can over Ciampa's torso and super kicks it. Ciampa pokes Gargano's eyes and hits that awesome powerbomb-into-a-knees-first-backbreaker and then he gives him a shining wizard with a trash can lid knee guard. Then Ciampa hits his over-the-shoulder neckbreaker thingy on the steps. Gargano kicks out at two. Now Ciampa has some garden shears. He's cutting the ring apron and pulling the foam padding off the ring . He wacks Gargano with a steel chair and continues to pull back the foam. There's a huge part of the ring that is just exposed wood now. Ciampa bites Gargano and Gargano superkicks Ciampa off the top rope. Now they're both on their knees, exchanging blows. They both go for spinning elbows only to kick each other in riposte. Eventually Gargano waffles Ciampa with a trash can lid, but Ciampa kicks out at two. Gargano goes for a springboard plancha and Ciampa hits a home run shot with the trash can lid as Gargano flies toward him. Now Gargano has a chair and he's bashing the shit out of Ciampa's knees and it is beautiful. Ciampa kicks Gargano into a trash can left conveniently in the corner and then he locks Gargano in his own submission finisher. What a sumbitch. Ciampa hits Gargano witha  series of clubbing blows to the back of the head and hits Gargano with a running knee to the face. Ciampa clobbers Gargano with a broken piece of crutch, but he kicks out. One of the guys in the crowd says "Ciampa, that's your friend? Why are you doing this?" and he sounds legitimately concerned. Now Ciampa is giving Gargano a villainous lecture about how *he* broke up their tag team and he deserves to have his career ended. Fuck, having wrestlers talk in matches is like hearing dialogue in a music video — you'd think it ruins the effect, but it actually compliments the art form surprisingly well. Then Ciampa yanks off Gargano's wedding ring and SPITS ON IT and throws it ino the crowd. Gargano responds reasonably enough by grabbing Ciampa by the head and giving him a modified neckbreaker off truck equipment through a table 10 feet below. Here come the EMT crew to check up on Ciampa. They put him on a stretcher and Gargano remains perched atop the giant metal cargo, as the fans dare him to body splash that nigga' one more time. Gargano caves in to the peer pressure and wheels Ciampa back down to the ring. Ciampa begs Gargano for mercy the whole time he gets wheeled down there and it's unintentionally hilarious. Gargano locks in his submission finisher and a whole bunch of suits enter the ring to break up the hold and Gargano coldcocks both of 'em. Now Gargano has Ciampa handcuffed, which makes it WAY easier to superkick him like a pinata. Now back to the Gargano Escape. Here come about five or six suits to break up the hold this time. The ref re-enters the ring and frees Ciampa from the handcuffs. Gargano tries to climb back in the ring and fucking Ciampa hits Gargano with a DDT on the exposed wood as the ref reluctantly makes the decisive three-count. Meanwhile, all of the soyboys in the audience just sit there with their mouths agape, and we all share a hearty chuckle at their lamentable markiness.

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

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: This is probably my favorite straight-up brawl of the year, second only to that dope-ass L.A. Park/Rey Fenix hootenanny from spring. This is just such a great, hate-fueled rivalry, and both of these guys are playing their roles PERFECTLY. The "exposed wood" DDT ending has to be one of the best (and most inventive) finishes the 'E has cooked up in quite some time — indeed, this whole rivalry is pretty much turned into the Raven/Dreamer feud of the 2010s, except the wrestling is, you know, actually good.


June 22, 2018
L.A. Park vs. Rush (CMLL Viernes Espectacular de Arena Mexico)

Yep, before their hair versus mask match in September they're giving us a one-on-one brawl on TV for free. Thank god for the Mexicans. "Bad to the Bone" heralds La Parka's arrival. And yeah, I know his legal name is "L.A. Park," but fuck that shit, this nigga is, was and always will be the real La Parka, so shaddup with your semantics, will 'ya? Man, watching the Grim Reaper personified walk past a bunch of thicc-assed Meskin women is just the grooviest thing ever. Rush (pronounced "Roosh," for the newbs) comes out wearing some kind of baseball jersey and the fists start flying the SECOND Rush makes his way down the stairs. Rush with a snapmare on the ramp and stomps galore. La Park flips him down into the crowd and it's time to exchange slaps and chops like feudin' junior high girls. Rush fucking CLOCKS La Park in the head with a plastic box of what appears to be pork rinds, and then La Parka picks it back up and slams it right into Rush's face. La Parka powerslams Rush into a row of empty seats and slams his head into the CMLL announce, uh, tube? Then he hits Rush with an umbrella and the announcers start making jokes about Mary Poppins. La Parka gets flapjacked into a row of empty seats and Rush pursues. He lays a trio of plastic chaisr on La Parka's head and starts stomping' them. Rush takes off his jersey (complete with his name spelled out like the Danzig logo, because who doesn't love a good lawsuit every now and then?) and all the hoochie mamas scream when they see his abs. Yeah, something tells me they wouldn't have quite the same reaction if it was La Parka showing off his flabby ass stomach. Back in the ring, Rush almost rips off La Parka's mask, and you can see half of of the dude's face. Yep, he looks like a fat Mexican dude, alright. AND THERE'S LA PARKA WITH THE PATENTED WORLD'S FATTEST TOPE. Such a sight to behold. La Parka's mask is all ripped open so you can almost see all of his facial features. Rush hits a dropkick for a two count. La Parka with a fat short-arm clothesline, but that only gets an el-two-oh. La Parka lands a powerbomb. Rush kicks out. La Parka hits Rush with the fattest V Trigger of all time and he acts like he hurt himself. He goes for an abdominal stretch but goddamnit, one of the other Ignobergabaneles or however the fuck you sell it runs it and gives Rush ample time to kick La Parka in the balls. The ref gets wiped out  so they have to bring in another, fatter ref who looks like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. Anyway, the ref gets sick of Rush's shit and awards La Parka the first fall via DQ. And no, I ain't talking Dairy Queen, motherfucker. La Parka's big fat belly is poking out of his uniform. El segunda caida begins with the two mean mugging each other and exchanging slaps. LA PARKA DOES THE FARGO STRUT YA'LL AND THEN HE MAKES RUSH DO A 360 ON A FAT A FUCK CLOTHESLINE. Rush kicks out at two. Rush hits La Parka with a power slam, but it, uh, wasn't a very good looking powerslam. La Parka lands a powerslam of his own and it looks significantly better. La Parka lands the Final Cut/A Nightmare on Helms Street but Rush grabs the ref's hand before he can make the three count. Rush lands another dropkick and a fucking BEAUTIFUL cannonball dive to the outside. He grabs a fan's beer and douses it on himself and then he pantomimes doing leg lifts on the edge of the apron. La Parka re-enters the fray and they both climb up the turnbuckle post. They do their best 9/11 impersonation, but Rush only gets a two-count for his efforts. Rush pummels on La Parka in the corner. He accidentally launches Rush ono the ref, and Rush uses the downtime to stick a STIFF Tombstone piledriver. One of the Igs brings Rush a framed photo of ... honestly, I have no idea ... and La Parka spears him and, of course, shatters the framed portrait over Rush's noggin. La Parka keeps feeding Rush fist burgers and the ref tries to break it up, so La Park punches the ref. That, of course, gives Rush the second fall by default. La Parka goes back to punching the shit our of Rush. A ringside doctor decides to check up on Rush. But La Parka keeps kicking him and shit so he can't get to him. Now La Parka has a stretcher ... and, well, you can take a wild guess what he uses THAT for. La Parka grabs a fan's drink and throws it into the 20th row. LOL at the random ass mustard packet laying beside Rush's head. Now La Parka has the metal steps dragged out. Well, there's the ring girl for el tercera caida, so I guess round three has officially begun now? La Parka keeps slamming Rush's head against the ringside barrier, which fittingly enough, reads "Boing!" La Parka makes a lasso out of some electronic cable ringside and then he comes back with three seats welded together as fans start throwing Coke cups filled with what I can only presume to be shit at him. The fans chant "L-A PARK!" while the suits carry Rush back to the ring. And LOL at the fans throwing more shit at them as he tries to make his way to the lockerroom. This is just straight up anarchy and I love it. La Parka grabs the mic and talks more shit to Rush. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure he called his mother a whore and said something about colored pencils — keep in mind, though, I only got a B in eighth grade Spanish.

Meltzer's Rating: N/A

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: Goddamn, is there NO doubt that this is the best rivalry in rasslin' right now. Every time these two Hispanic niggas step in the ring with each other, you're guaranteed two things: retard levels of violence and a sense of hate so palpable, you ALMOST forget what you're watching is make believe Mexican-on-Mexican crime. Honest to God, if that hair vs. mask match in September isn't a lock for MOTY, I'm done watching wrestling ... or, at least, done watching the kind involving fat, 50-year-old dudes dressed up like skeletons, anyway.

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