Ugh, an invasion angle? In 2013? Who even does that?
Well, actually, we are. It’s not so much of an invasion as an appreciation for the crazy amount of work our dear friend and fellow independent wrestling supporter Thomas Holzerman has put into this. Below the jump are some appetizers for The Wrestling Blog’s filling and delicious main course!
Robert Evans vs. Portia Perez, ACW Guilty By Association 6, 1/15
Justin Bissonette and Rachel Summerlyn set the stage perfectly and gave at least the company line on what was happening. For someone like me, who hadn’t been following as closely as I would have liked, it was a great way to play catch up on the story, even if according to other folks like Brandon Stroud, it took on a different tone.
There was just so much going on in this match. There was base emotion, Evans acting like a man possessed because Perez ripped his heart out. It was wondered whether Perez had a heart with which anyone could do the same. Regardless of how the story played out, let’s meditate on the fact that a professional wrestling love story between a man and a woman played out to a match between the two, and it was even mostly throughout. If that doesn’t feel game-changing to you, then you’re not paying attention.
To the untrained eye, I think it might have come off as misogynist fantasy realized, especially given the results. That would be patently ignoring the fact that Perez had an advantage throughout most of the match and spent a good portion of the closing minutes of it wrenching Evans’ neck in the crossface. In fact, it could be argued she was the better competitor but was only felled because Evans got breaks, literally, on being able to target her back and to benefit from her “slipping” on a steel chair to cause an ankle injury.
Regardless, this was a phenomenal realization of what storytelling in wrestling could be about. It had all the classic tropes of technical wrestling thrown in with the things that made matches like that “personal.” It had a big match feel and it hit on every note that I was looking for in a match.
Kana and LuFisto vs. Hailey Hatred and Kalamity, SHIMMER Vol. 45, 3/17
This felt like a 20 minute match condensed into half the time, but with the wrestlers involved, it strangely enhanced the match rather than made it feel rushed. It was concentrated insanity, punctuated most by the jousting Kalamity and Lufi did from their rear ends on the canvas with their legs. The referee couldn’t keep control of the match with illegal members of the match running in making endless saves. I didn’t want the match to end when Hatred planted Lufi with her signature running Liger Bomb, but alas, as all good things do, this one had to have a finish. Hopefully, they’ll get 20 minutes the next time they meet, preferably as the main event of their own volume with the Tag Championships on the line.
ACH vs. AR Fox, 30 Minute Iron Man Match, AIW Straight Outta Compton, 4/6
This match was supposed to feature Fox going up against Uhaa Nation. The two had a pretty intense feud in AIW, but when Nation got hurt ‘Mania weekend in DGUSA, they had to scramble for a replacement. I am so glad they picked ACH and even gladder that they kept the 30 minute iron man stipulation, because this match was the rare one that deserved every allotted second it got. Here were two men who were known more for their aerial prowess going into the fray not only showing superior athletics and acrobatics, but outstanding psychology, pacing and a grasp of the moment.
The psychology came mostly at the end of the match. With the time winding down, the two started trading roll up and flash pin maneuvers to try and get the decisive pinfall that might win them the match. It wasn’t just the fact that they were doing the pin attempts with the lightning quickness, but they showed great urgency as well. It’s one thing for guys to trade roll ups and to have the announcers superimpose a narrative over it, but it’s another for you to be able to see that even with the commentary muted. Both guys displayed frantic nature superbly. Then, when ACH got the final pin on the reversed Mahistrol, him going to the ropes and trying to run the clock out may have been my most favorite thing in any match this year to date. Fox trying to yank him from the ropes reeked of desperation. It was perfect, sublime.
But that isn’t to say this match was all the kinds of things that you had to look for. There were some pretty goddamn fantastic spots in this match as well. You come to expect that from guys the caliber of ACH and Fox. These guys make their bones on doing mind-blowing shit that even Neo in The Matrix would be jealous of. My favorite athletic thing they did in the match was when Fox followed ACH out of the ring. ACH hurried over, tripped his legs out from under him, causing him to fall seated on the apron HARD. ACH then hit a bulldog lariat and I think I nearly went into apoplexy. It’s hard for me to pick out every good thing in this match, because I’d just be transcribing it verbatim. This match needs to be seen to be experienced fully. I am doing it no justice at all.
Robert Roode (c) vs. James Storm, Impact World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage Match, Lockdown, 4/15
I don’t remember how well this match was received when it actually happened. I can’t comment on how pissed people were that Storm didn’t win to get revenge for all the shit that Roode pulled on him in the last four months. Maybe not watching it until WELL after the fact, after Bound for Glory even, helped put the finish, which was a clever way to end a cage match, in perspective. The match didn’t technically start until after Storm was bloodied and Roode having taken a bunch of damage itself, but that was part of the mood-setting. Storm wasn’t playing the role of the cerebral assassin but as the revenge-crazed redneck looking to draw blood more than anything. That’s the only reason why he’d chase Roode outside the ring when he had no incentive to, right? Wouldn’t an outside brawl favor the Champion?
Storm made more than a few questionable decisions in the name of revenge. If this were a shoot, him stopping from going over the hump on the cage and escaping just because Roode flipped him the bird would have elicited derisive laughter. Within the context of character, though, well, if you got flipped off by the guy who kept smashing beer bottles over your head, wouldn’t you want to fucking kill him? As much as his mistakes were fueled by revenge, Roode’s were fueled by hubris. He also had the match won, standing right at the precipice of the door, needing only to hop down and win, but instead, he made Earl Hebner hand him the beer bottle so he could smash it over Storm’s head one more time for good measure.
How appropriate that going into the final leadup to the finish that the only man left standing in the ring was Earl Hebner. Roode, Storm, and Hebner’s son, Brian (victim of a superkick eaten when Roode pulled him into Storm’s oncoming path)? Their war had become such a tempest of rage and hate that it claimed an innocent victim. Of course, it was a storm that was meant to continue, which is what made the accidental kick through the cage door work so well. Storm was so consumed by hate that he didn’t notice Roode was standing right between the apron and the cage door. In classic, Sisyphusian, TNA manner, the bad guy won and continued to frustrate the good guy. Catharsis was to be delayed for six more months. But as a finale to their second act? Well, I dug it.
Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko vs. Meiko Satomura and Kagetsu, Chikara Anniversario: Horse of Another Color, 5/19
Chikara just keeps finding more and more great joshi action to import over to America. This time, it was on behalf of the Sendai Girls promotion, featuring the sisterly tag team of Sendai Sachiko and Dash Chisako against Kagetsu and all-world Meiko Satomura. This wasn’t a traditional match by any means, but since when has joshi been about what we consider traditional? Chisako spent a good bit of the match taunting, while her sister spent a good bit of it getting stretched and stricken. Satomura is just so agile and fluid that it’s hard to believe she’s not unique in her talents. They really do grow them better in Japan, don’t they? Also, Kagetsu may have the most violent dropkicks I’ve ever seen.
Frankie Tucker vs. Derrick King, Last Man Standing Match, ???, 5/25
The joy of finding wrestling matches on YouTube is that you discover wrestlers like Frankie Tucker and Derrick King who blow you away when before you didn’t know the first thing about them. The annoying thing about finding matches on YT is that a lot of times, they’re poorly annotated. I don’t know which promotion this match came from, but then again, this would be a great match regardless of trapping. Tucker is an epic in-match shit talker, which may or may not be because he could be a legitimate old Southern white guy wrestling against a black dude. Draw your own conclusions. The match finish seemed to indicate a crooked ref angle, which was a bit confusing. Still, this would have been a good match to look up if the uploader hadn’t closed his or her account. I guess you’re going to have to take my word for it.
Sami Callihan vs. Willie Mack, Battle of Los Angeles First Round Match, PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night 1, 9/1
This was a match I was particularly looking forward to, a HOSS FIGHT in a scene that didn’t have a whole lot of hoss fights to offer. It did not disappoint, outside a particularly egregious offense of the “You hit me, I hit you” thing that happens in seemingly every match nowadays. However, the rest of this match was just sublime. Mack got it started right away, putting Callihan on his ass with a pounce that knocked him out of the ring and following it up with a big tope con hilo to the outside. Callihan answered back shortly with a floor exploder and stompin’ a mudhole and walkin’ it dry, and this was all within the first couple of minutes. They went at a breakneck pace which included super exploders and DDTs and thigh superkicks on the top rope and kip up moonsaults. Whereas I thought Michael Elgin suffered a bit during the weekend ALWAYS finishing his matches with a set sequence, Callihan’s unpredictability was his best asset. It showed in this match when he hit Mack with an Everest Saito suplex before bashing him into submission with lariats.
UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked and Frightmare vs. Mike Bennett and Matt and Nick Jackson, King of Trios ’12 Final, Chikara King of Trios ’12 Night 3, 9/16
The 2012 final was the best of the three King of Trios finals I had seen by far. BY FAR. Maybe it was that I was the most emotionally invested in the team I was rooting for. Maybe it was that, more than the BDK in ’10 and even more than FIST last year, Team ROH were effective as heel foils. Either way, from the point when the Spectral Envoy made their entrance to the moment Bennett’s hand slapped the mat to submit, I was made to feel like I was a kid again.
Unlike in other years, I almost felt like this match could have gone either way. Obviously, the match wasn’t going to be won in the beginning of it, but Frightmare did the face in peril thing so well. It was awesome when he finally got to his corner to make the hot tag to both ‘Wicked and Mantis. There were some really big spots doled out by both sides too, really giving the match a bigtime feel. Again, I gotta give Mantis MAJOR props for taking that spike tombstone on the ramp. That was, ouch, just ouch.
The final act of the match was just there for us to lose our voices. Crossbones coming out to shoo the Batiri/Ophidian/Delirious bloc caused me to lose my poop personally. I wasn’t paying too much attention to those around me, a testament to the moment. When he threw Delirious into the pole, I just lost it. When Bennett finally tapped to the Chikara Special, I jumped up and down like a little kid. Any good match can have the nuts and bolts and the big moves. Chikara goes above and beyond because they and their performers know how to present them with the pitch-perfect emotion.
Kahagas (c) vs. Damien Wayne, NWA World Championship Match, NWA Houston Show, 11/9
Hey, do you like batshit insane brawls? Do you like grizzled dudes beating the shit out of each other? Do you like apron spots and guys getting slammed into walls? Do you like pie? Well, if you like the first three things I mentioned, this match will be right up your alley. Not one week with the NWA World Championship, and Kahagas was already embroiled in a blood feud with Wayne, who felt wronged by the decision. So they brawled in the ring and out of it. They slammed each other into tables. Well, that was the tamest thing they did. Kahagas at one point threw a garbage can at Wayne, who answered by slamming the Champ into a cinder block wall. Later on, Kahagas planted Wayne headfirst onto a table with a DDT, which Wayne eventually followed up by draping the Champ hanging off the apron and then hitting him with a leg drop from the top rope. Eventually, they made it to the outside AGAIN, and Wayne smashed Kahagas’ head with a beer bottle after the Champ spat a drink in his face. Unable to keep up with the antics on the outside, the ref DQed them both, which was kind of a dick move, but then again, with insane fisticuffs like that, does there need to be a finish? Okay, maybe there does, but the body of this match was so good that I could overlook it.
Mark Angel vs. Jessicka Havok, Beyond Wrestling/WSU Secret Card, 10/13
Shhhh, this is a secret card and a secret match. Angel and Havok at the time were the nominal heads of their companies, so of course any interpromotional card would have to have them facing off. Angel kicked off the match by farting in Havok’s gas mask, which made me laugh a lot harder than it should have. Of course, he who dealt it had to smelt it in this case. You know Havok wasn’t going to let that go, right? The match settled into a hard-hitting groove, as one might expect. The levity wasn’t finished with the beginning of the affair though. As Angel had Havok in the corner chopping her, he moved down towards her chest, pulling away in pain when he did. Havok revealed she was wearing a spiked bra. Classic. Havok put Angel away with the Air Raid Crash to cap a fine contest.
Head over to The Wrestling Blog for the rest of the list, links to matches, and so, so much more rassles.