My favourite announcer ever. One of my favourite segments they ever ran in Memphis was when Curt Hennig had - I think - just lost the AWA belt to Lawler and came down to the studio demanding Lawler come out and face him. The longer it went without Lawler showing up the more aggressive Hennig got, and it reached the point where he even put his hands on Lance. The way Lance played his part in it was the perfect straight man performance and when he loses his own composure and calls Hennig a hoodlum I lose it every time. He was the very best. And I agree with Childs that he was as big a part of what made Memphis Memphis as Lawler or Dundee or anybody else.
I haven't seen that six-man, but there's an eight-man tag from the 4/2/93 WAR show that has the same sort of midcard potatofest vibe and it's awesome. It's Koshinaka, Kimura, Saito and Kobayashi v SSM, Hara, Fuyuki and Kitahara. It's WAR v New Japan and it rules.
By-the-numbers is about right for this, but I didn't regret spending fourteen minutes watching it. It's a title match and a chance to check out more Arkangel de la Muerte, so I'll take what I can get. That said I don't remember a thing about the primera. I liked the leg work and Arkangel's sell of it in the segunda, though, even if it was brief. I guess there's only so much drama you can create with four minutes, but I thought they picked things up nicely in the tercera and it made for an okay stretch run. Fine enough detour from the blood and guts of what the Villano/Atlantis and Satanico/Tarzan Boy feuds were bringing, even if it never came close to reaching the same heights.
I thought this kind of hinted at greatness without ever quite getting there. Akiyama's early start ruled, the way he'd go for the German suplex, dropkicking the knee as a set up of sorts. Vader coming back with the chokeslam on the table and powerbomb on the floor was certainly emphatic, but then I thought they meandered for a little while after that. Akiyama taking shots at body parts towards the end was a cool touch; how he'd missile dropkick the knee or reverse the pin into the desperation cross armbreaker. It never felt like he deliberately worked over a specific body part as opposed to grabbing what was there and trying to take advantage of the situation. Enjoyable match. Vader in All Japan is a bit of a blindspot for me and so far I've liked what I've seen.
There's always the danger that watching a match you've seen pimped for months on end as an all-timer will fail to live up to the hype. I mean, I thought the first two falls had some nice ideas and set the table well enough for the massacre that was the tercera, but I wouldn't really say they were a particularly strong pair of falls for an apuesa match. I liked Lupus' tope coming in the first fifteen seconds, he had some nice jab combos and his riling up of front row Trauma fans was entertaining, even if I'd rather he spent less time posing and more time punching a guy in the face. It was a solid enough rudo beatdown, but a beatdown more along the lines of something you'd see in the mano a mano rather than the blowoff. Lupus stealing Trauma's Lo Negro del Negro for the finish was great, though, and it begged for a follow up later on. Trauma's selling of the leg heading into the segunda was a nice touch and I bought that first fall beatdown having taken its toll on him. I don't necessarily think his comeback was too easily come by or anything, and I liked him going to the tope quickly as well, but I couldn't help heading into the third caida feeling that the whole thing lacked some bite.
Then they started blasting each other with chairs and it became everything I could've wanted. I can't really articulate it, but there are points when I'm watching lucha and it'll suddenly hit me that I'm watching something verging on the transcendent. It just kind of sneaks up on me and I don't get that feeling watching wrestling from America or Japan or Europe. I don't know the exact point I got that feeling during this, but it was somewhere between Canis Lupus curling up in the corner with blood streaming out of his forehead and Trauma headbutting him clean in the nose. The selling of exhaustion down the stretch was phenomenal, the way they'd take that little extra second or two to compose themselves, how they'd throw slaps that had nothing behind them. At one point Lupus just grabbed Trauma by the horns on his mask and repeatedly headbutted him, partly because it was about all he had left, partly because fuck this guy who won't stay down. By the end the ring mat looked like a tarp from a blood splatter reenactment, both guys were covered in gore and the drama for every nearfall was absolutely through the roof. I'd somehow managed to avoid major spoilers as well, and with Trauma I being my favourite wrestler in the world a few years back I was right there with those people under their Los Traumas masks. I got worried for a second after they bumped the ref', thinking we were about to get some schmozz finish to put a damper on things, but they went the opposite direction and that along with the tombstone only turned the heat up even more. I loved that Trauma was too fried to even kick out properly so he just grabbed the ref's arm to stop him from counting. Lupus' hands were stained completely red and he could barely push himself to his knees without slipping on the blood. And the finish. Truly the perfect payoff and a fitting way to cap any mask match. The immediate aftermath with Lupus lying face down in a literal puddle of his own blood is the sort of visual you don't soon forget.