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fxnj

Member Since 06 Nov 2013
Offline Last Active Today, 06:39 AM
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Topics I've Started

Toshiaki Kawada vs. Gary Albright (AJPW 7/24/1996)

Yesterday, 07:06 AM

That great feel when you discover a new classic from one of your favorite wrestlers. Kawada is the god of detail work and I challenge anyone who disagrees to watch this match. It's simply laid out perfectly to play to each of their strengths and weaknesses. Kawada might have won their match a year prior, but he's still done his studying for this one as he shows with the shoot-style stand-up opening of this match. I love how he sells his leg when Albright checks his leg kick attempts. Probably unintentional, but it kind of has the feel of a 1920's match with how they keep returning to the Greco-Roman lock-up. The opening is a textbook study of how to build up tension in a match. It's beautiful when Albright finally explodes like a volcano on Kawada with some high speed suplexes in quick succession. Kawada finds a brief respite with a hard kick to Albright's head, but he seems to realize that it's pretty risky to try to stand with Albright with how quick he can roll off those suplexes. The match takes a turn towards the mat, and it's here that match's brilliance really starts to show. I really enjoy watching Kawada on the mat, but I'll admit he didn't have the same sort of technical prowess or explosiveness to hang with a truly accomplished grappler, but they play that off here with Albright mostly gobbling up Kawada's attempts to hang on the mat. Albright gets sweet revenge for last year's match when he hangs onto an armbar even after Kawada scores a rope-break and fucks up Kawada's arm. Kawada has to be crafty and persistent to get advantage on the mat. He gets his own sloppy armbar on and Albright goes for a lazy rope-break, which turns out to be a big mistake as Kawada just keeps it on to get revenge for Albright's revenge spot from earlier. From here, Kawada seems to have Albright reeling and capitalizes by laying on the kicks. He seems to get a bit arrogant, though, and Albright finds an opening to score a sick German, which he then follows up with a dragon suplex. Kawada tries to go for a desperation take-down to stifle Albright, but it's for nought as Albright maintains the upper-hand and makes a statement by submitting Kawada with a sleeper. ****1/4 Match is only 12 minutes, but what a great story these guys tell in the time and I'm sure there's a few things I forgot here. A worthy sequel to their match a year prior.


Horsemen vs. Road Warriors/Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff (JCP WarGames 7/4/1987)

07 June 2018 - 12:27 AM

BIt of a difficult match to rate. I'll start with my criticisms.

 

This follows a very simple and predictable formula. The match starts out with a face (Dusty Rhodes) dominating a heel (Arn Anderson). Then a heel (Tully Blanchard) comes in and turns the tables until another face (Animal) comes in and the faces go back to dominating. Repeat that until everyone is in and it's time to go to the finish. I just described the entire match. As a viewer watching 30 years of later, I really would have liked to have seen them change things up just a little bit, like having the heels somehow manage to keep the advantage even when it's even or for the faces to try to stay in control even when they're outnumbered. Also, the work is mostly confined to basic brawling. Dusty gets Arn in the figure four in the beginning and then the heels work over Dusty's leg later for a bit of revenge, but those are just short sections that get forgotten as the whole thing just kind of becomes a clusterfuck as more guys go in there. Ross goes crazy on commentary about how brutal it all is, but I didn't really notice anything that stood out as particularly special. The match is lacking a hook or really much psychology at all beyond what I described about the faces dominating when it's even and heels dominating when they have the number advantage. Even the blood seems like it's there mostly to give the Apter mags an opportunity to take some good photos. Also, the finish feels a bit flat. I'd have liked something a bit more decisive than the Road Warriors singling out Dillon while the other Horsemen were distracted fighting the other faces.

 

All that goes out the window if we're just talking about the crowd heat. They were going crazy straight from the beginning and never really settled down. Crockett took a risk pulling out a convoluted gimmick like this, but they definitely managed to make it work with their audience. In that respect, the predictable layout actually works in the match's favor by making it easier to follow for the fans by giving them something familiar they could bite into. They knew that the faces would win in a fair fight and that the heels can only keep up when they have some kind of advantage, and that was what they got here. The result is one of the most fondly remembered matches in the company's history and one that launched a signature gimmick for WCW. In spite of all the flaws I listed above, I still never really found myself bored with the work for much of the match's 20 minute length largely because it's such a spectacle to listen to the crowd and commentators reacting to this as they did.

 

It's difficult to rate because there is such a seeming disconnect between the crowd heat and the match's grander influence with the actual quality of the work. I'm tempted to say it's not really meant for critical analysis. You're best off just letting yourself be hypnotized by the crowd heat and the easy to follow layout. Turn on, tune in, drop out. ***1/2


Come As You Are Rumble (SHIMMER 11/6/2005)

04 June 2018 - 08:54 AM

Kind of funny that they first match ever for an all-female promotion is a dark match featuring a number of relatively big name male wrestlers for the time. The match is basically a parody of Royal Rumble type matches with everyone coming in street clothes and several guys taking their sweet time to get to the ring. I love Claudio taking a nap during the match and later using his pillow as if it were a steel chair. Ending is pretty funny as everyone gets eliminated before Jimmy Jacobs can come in, so he gets declared the winner by default and acts as if he just won an Olympic medal. No rating, but very enjoyable comedy.


Satoshi Kojima vs. EVIL (NJPW 8/12/2018)

04 June 2018 - 08:06 AM

Thanks to SirEdgar for this rec. I'm not a fan of Kojima as he generally comes across too goofy with his mannerisms for me to take him seriously, but he does he decent job here working as a poor-man's late-career Kobashi. First time watching EVIL and he didn't really do much for me. Both guys look kind of limited as much of the match is slow and mainly built around basic strikes, but they build to some big moves and Kojima ends up giving a pretty good babyface selling performance by the end. Not a classic, but an admirable effort for these guys. ***


How do you factor in agents/trainers when evaluating wrestlers?

13 May 2018 - 01:55 AM

This is a topic I've seen brought up before, but never really discussed purely in depth. As more promotions treat streaming as a big source of revenue, I'm finding myself shifting away from thinking of matches as just happening in themselves and shifting into thinking of matches for their overall place in the TV production. Matches have become like movies with wrestlers playing the role of actors.  You've got camera crews, production people, screenplay writers/bookers, narrators/commentators, and directors/agents. When a great movie comes out, a director often gets just as much praise for it as the lead actors, so why not think of wrestling in similar terms?

 

The wrestler that really opened my eyes up to this was Gail Kim. In her first TNA run she was great, but when she came back to WWE she was nearly getting herself killed botching things left and right. Then she came back to TNA and was great again. How do you explain something like that without taking into account the role of the agents and trainers in her work? My initial reaction was just to think that she was exposed in her WWE run, but now it's a bit more nuanced than that. You can't just pull some random girl off the street and expect her to have a run like Kim in TNA. She might have needed some help, but she was still a great asset to the company. She was a cog who happened to fit a hell of a lot better in the TNA wheel than the WWE one.

 

The common argument, then, is to say to look at someone in a bunch of different settings and base your evaluation on patterns that you notice. Still, that really only works when looking at the territorial era and doesn't work so well when looking at guys who have the bulk of their work in one or two promotions. It's impossible to completely pin down how much a WWE talent is contributing to their matches versus an agent, but this exactly how it should be when looking it as a TV production. You're supposed to fall in love with the characters and not the people writing the lines.

 

The more I think about it, though, the more preposterous it seems to rate wrestlers solely based on what we see in the ring. When you watch a movie, you can praise the actor's deliver but you don't give them credit for every line they deliver like we seem inclined to do with what happens in the ring. I think this why, when people rate actors, they look at the whole package and their impact on the industry rather than just what happens on-screen. The WWE GWE with the NJPW criteria seems a step in the right direction, but I've heard that encountered some difficulties with people ignoring the criteria and just rating however they'd like.