The Catch Up Column Part IV
October 15 2017
First up on the catch up is ROH, as New Japan popped over to Chicago to put on some joint shows. I’m here for Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon but who can pass on a Toru Yano match?
Toru Yano vs. Colt Cabana
Just prior to this was a trios match with Suzuki-gun, which I watched some of. I was basically expecting Suzuki-gun bullshit but the whole match looked like a big old brawl with no outside interfere. It looked pretty good to be honest.
Yano gets the big babyface pop. I’m pleased that his act is so goofy and different that’s its gotten over everywhere. Before we get underway they trade DVD’s. Apparently Yano thinks Colt’s isn’t good. Yano promptly sells his, while Colt gives his away. Turnbuckle antics follow. I love antics. Normally a match with ref bumps and low blows is a major turn off but Yano makes bullshit an artform. Colt somehow wins despite having his hands taped together.
Final Rating: FUN (Damian Dunne would hate this)
Flip Gordon vs. Will Ospreay
Flip Gordon is a name that’s been getting a bit of buzz recently. This is clearly his big chance to show off. They deliberately don’t have Will defend his Junior title here to play up the possibility of Flip winning the match. I hate it when titles that blatantly aren’t changing are defended on shows. Just have it no title. Then the unexpected win is more likely to happen. When Will finds people who can go at his pace and do wacky spots with him and get creative, it pushes him to his very best. Flip’s backflip headlock pops me. As does Ospreay hooking an octopus stretch and reading out his website address to hawk merch. Ospreay is smart here. He knows he has to make Flip look more exciting than him. That’s what the match is about. Flip, rather appropriately, is at the stage of his career where he does a lot of flips for the sake of it. Will has gotten good at doing flips that mean something. Whether it’s for impact or avoidance. Flip hasn’t gotten that yet. Will is far better at applying logic. The way he get overly elaborate here is a direct response to Flip doing pointless shit and Ospreay’s continually has that logical backbone. By the time he’s finishing flipping his opponent has suffered for it; whether through impact or psychological purposes. Gordon does prove himself capable but make no mistake; it’s Will Ospreay’s world and Flip is just visiting it for now. Flip’s double jump corkscrew is fucking sick though. Gordon being able to hang with Ospreay makes him and the crowd love everything that happens here. Ospreay doing the SSP onto the ropes is the move that finally takes us home and Will hits the Oscutter for the win. The difficulty levels in this match were very high and Ospreay looked phenomenal. Of course he does that quite often. Doing it with the relatively unknown Gordon is great news for Flip’s career. You hang with Will you’re basically made. He’s the Indie bar.
Final Rating: ****1/2
The same night as Global Wars we had a Last Man Standing match over in EVOLVE for the WWN Championship. Normally I tend to ignore EVOLVE but LMS with Riddle vs. Keith Lee? I’m there dudes.
Matt Riddle (c) vs. Keith Lee
EVOLVE is dry as fuck. The buildings look boring. The production is meh. It literally lives on the wrestling. They are good at finishes and the booking works, more often than not, but there’s no hook. There are dozens of great promotions for pro-wrestling. Anyway, the hook here is that Riddle and Lee are both fucking great and it promises to be a big time title match. Not that the WWN title really means anything, like I’m sure Gabe was hoping for. Last Man Standing is all about hitting big, big spots, which is definitely Keith Lee territory. To counteract this logical approach, they kick things off by no selling big spots. It’s all a wear down process and it’s not long before they start popping off ridiculous suplexes and powerbombs. Part of me wishes it wasn’t Last Man Standing because the stip takes all the thrills out of the match. Instead of dramatic kick-outs you get guys lying around. Unless you’re going to go nuts on the big spots there’s no point having the match that way. It was always designed so you could do multiple silly spots setting up one massive one and as a no DQ environment. I like that they build from doing crazy spots in the ring to doing crazy spots on the apron (it’s the hardest part of the ring) and off the top rope. This type of match has to build to a logical conclusion. Lee wins by hitting Ground Zero off the top rope. Riddle almost getting up but collapsing just before the ten. Anticlimactic finish aside this was a solid spotfest with two guys firing off big spots. I’m not convinced it comes across as a big moment because the WWN belt doesn’t mean anything to me. 7 of Riddle’s 9 defences came in EVOLVE. I thought the idea was have it defended all over the place under the WWN umbrella. Not that there’s a lot of exciting promotions under said umbrella. This was a match for fans of the high impact style that’s dominating the top end Indies right now. Minus points for it seeming relatively unimportant.
Final Rating: ****
October 2 2017
El Barbaro Cavernario vs. El Soberano Jr
This is from CMLL and is 2 out of 3 falls. It’s on YouTube if you wanted to watch it. Carvernario I know from Fantasticamania. King of Caveman Style. His caveman gimmick is best suited to comedy but here he’s deadly serious about the mat game and that pleases me.
Soberano is another CMLL product. His dad isn’t Soberano Sr, which is suitably confusing but rather Euforia, who also used to go by “Soberano Jr”. Mexico is tough to follow when you’re on the outside. Lucha can be hard to get into full stop. The crowd is weird. The timing of everything is strange. Some lucha set-up stuff looks horribly fake, even when it’s done well and you have to become immune to all of lucha’s flaws to enjoy it. Soberano Jr gets the first fall with a spinning crossbody. The three falls stipulation allowing something so mundane to actually score a fall.
2nd Fall: Soberano does the exact same thing that won the first fall, only off the top fucking rope, Barbaro completely no sells it and gets a submission moments later. Jesus fucking Christ boys. Nothing about the first two falls has made sense.
3rd Fall: With the first two falls out of the way they can get into the actual match. Lucha is far too tied in to the three falls concept. Mostly the matches suffer from having no drama in the first two falls. I’m aware that’s a sweeping generalisation but that’s how I feel. Barbaro’s increased aggression and focus, on Soberano’s leg, gives the third fall better structure. It’s more exciting, although the ticks about lucha are still there; the weird atmosphere and the slow referee in particular. One spot really irks me where Barbaro is slow getting his foot on the rope and the referee counts so slowly that it’s just a mess. Slow counts take the excitement out of all kick-outs. All of them. You lose your false finishes and how do you even draw the reactions? Soberano does good work in trying to make the struggle real but the counts are just too damn slow. The match is good in spite of the referee, the venue and all the other bullshit. It’s so hard to work around the ref. They hit a sickening move; a variation on the Essex Destroyer where Soberano lands square on top of his head. It’s easily the best anything looks and should be the finish. Instead Barbaro does the sucking the spit in business and Soberano makes a comeback. Fuck’s sake! Where the old bastard referee’s slow counts work is when the guys area popping off sick moves. The Canadian Destroyer, for example. There are so many head drops and the slow count just allows the wrestlers more time to sell. Soberano’s head drops allow Barbaro to quit to a submission on his neck. Issues all over the place here but these two killed themselves for this bullshit. The camera pans across lots of miserable looking Mexicans afterwards. You don’t deserve these two.
Final Rating: ***1/2
September 30 2017
Bobby Gunns vs. WALTER
Off to wXw for the show I missed before tag league. Seeing the asshole Absolute Andy pretending to be a babyface sickens me. Anyway, I’m here for WALTER.
Bobby has had a great tour. He tapped out Drago. He tapped out Da Mack and kicked him out of Hamburg. Banishing him from his own home town. He tapped out Tim Thatcher! Now he’s come for WALTER! Gunns has gone from a cocky, brash piece of shit to a genuine threat because he’s technically so proficient. This has been a big year for Gunns. Even back at Carat weekend I thought he was lacking but his improvement since then has been staggering. The fact that he’s justifiably challenging WALTER means a lot. The stuff on the mat is crisp, clinical and WALTER doesn’t treat Gunns like shit down there. It’s when they get into stand-up that WALTER takes over. Anything else would be unbelievable. Gunns has to be sneaky and they do one of the best ‘ducked chop into ring post’ spots I’ve seen in a while. Gunns tries the same sneaky shit he beat the other guys with but WALTER just overcomes it with raw power. It leaves Bobby desperate and going after WALTER’s fingers. Anything to try and slow the big Austrian down. Despite an extensive bag of tricks nothing works! Bobby receives a twenty Euro fine for working the fingers. WALTER, despite suffering with those injuries, is unstoppable. I love how Gunns keeps switching tactics and going to Plan B, C, D when the basic technical stuff doesn’t work on WALTER. He keeps trying with the underhanded tactics but ultimately WALTER is so hard to overcome. It’s a great story. Gunns works one of the smartest matches of his life. Some of his tactics pay off the second time of asking because he’s focused on the hand and has worn WALTER down.
Eventually WALTER, from a character stand point, can no longer strike with his right hand without it causing too much discomfort and he still batters Bobby with a slap. It’s incredible. Bobby continually uses WALTER’s aggression against him but looks fantastic taking a beating from the big Austrian bear. WALTER cannot hook the Gojira Clutch without Bobby wiggling free so he switches to an Emerald Flowsion and kills Bobby’s challenge dead. My God, this was fucking great. Best Gunns match, ever and WALTER again looks like a unstoppable stamp of quality. His work this year has been consistently incredible.
Final Rating: ****
September 24 2017
Off to DDT, which is a company I keep missing out on this year. It’s suffered for my desire to check in with American indies and stay on top of the Eurograps.
HARASHIMA vs. KUDO
This is always a good match.
HARASHIMA brings cold, hard logic and KUDO colder, harder kicks. HARASHIMA’s tactic involves going after KUDO’s leg to stop the kicks. It’s that cold, hard logic in play once again. Unfortunately the standard DDT Universe player issues crop up, again. Until they get a reliable player I don’t think it’s a service worth paying for. I’ve given up twice already on them. The constant buffering ruins the match and I unsubscribe in the middle of it. More money for promotions who can actually deliver the product. I’m sad because on paper the whole thing is incredible but the delivery isn’t there.
On the plus side; Diego comes across as a huge wrestling fan on commentary and the work is sensible but the delivery, from DDT, makes it borderline unwatchable and my rating reflects that. As does my decision to take my business elsewhere. I couldn’t even make it to the end of the match, sorry.
Final Rating: NR
Anyway, having overcome this issue it’s back to wXw to check out the main event from that Frankfurt show; a ten man tag pitting RISE against wXw’s best.
RISE (Bad Bones, Ivan Kiev, Pete Bouncer, Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. wXw (Ilja Dragunov, Jurn Simmons, David Starr, Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani)
Team wXw wait for Ilja but Dragunov literally charges into the ring to get at Bad Bones. The aim of this match is for wXw to bury their differences and go after RISE. No one seemed to care about them being a threat in this company until Bad Bones captured the main title. The result was a wild brawl with RISE holding their own. Commentary does an excellent job of pointing out the number of loses Pete Bouncer has suffered so far. There’s a wonderful little spot in here where Al-Ani can’t do a double team on Lucky Kid because he’s too busy showboating and Andy gives him a little scowl. Fucking foreshadowing lads.
Due to tag legalities I imagine Rob would hate this but it’s impossible to keep track of who’s legal because there is no legal man at the start. Technically everyone is legal until it’s reduced to one-on-one, which it never is. There’s an interesting dynamic in the match where Bad Bones is the man to eat all the big spots and the false finishes. The story it tells is that the rest of RISE are too ineffectual to fight against the best wXw has to offer. It tells us Bones needs to recruit additional assistance. The relaxed rules environment suits RISE, and their cheating, but is manipulated by Andy with a wrench and a table. Tas isn’t having that and disqualifies Lucky Kid, for using a belt, and Absolute Andy for using the wrench. Aslan and Al-Ani follow for their part in proceedings. This leaves the big guns; Dragunov, Jurn and Starr against Bad Bones, Kiev and the useless Pete Bouncer.
RISE single out Ilja, the biggest threat and we settle into an actual tag team environment. The ring being cut off. Bouncer, the useless fuck, allows Ilja to get a hot tag, much to Bones’ disappointment. Bouncer has rankled him of late. Bouncer is the one to go through that table, which has been set up for ages at this point. Kiev takes advantage of the distraction to beat Starr. Jurn isn’t happy with that and piledrives Kiev out of the match. Now Bones is stuck with Bouncer. Tas is rolling Kiev out of the ring when Bones kicks Jurn in the balls and hits the double arm DDT. Now it’s Ilja vs. Bones and Bouncer. The latter still lying in the remains of a table. Bouncer climbs back in, gets beaten but gives Bones the chance to low blow Ilja only he kicks out. It’s come down to Ilja vs. Bones because that’s the title match at tag league weekend. Bones’ offence looks designed to cripple Ilja and put him out of the tag league match. The bucklebomb in particular looks really nasty. Bones tries to use the belt but runs into Torpedo Moscow. It would be over but RISE return to eliminate Tassilo Jung! Leaving a big chunk of the match as Bones vs. Ilja ends up being a fine idea as they always have good matches. The key moment is Bouncer throwing the wXw title in and Andy running in with a flying interception! It’s really quite beautiful. Especially as he smiles and hugs the victorious Ilja when Dragunov hits the Torpedo Moscow moments later.
Look at that son of a bitch. It makes his betrayal at tag league even more sickening. Anyway, the match was coherent for the most part and hit all the points it needed to.
Final Rating: ***3/4
September 24 2017
Sendai Girls World Championship
Chihiro Hashimoto (c) vs. Meiko Satomura
I don’t get to see a lot of Sendai Girls but the big matches are widely available. I literally found this with a google video search. “Thunder is here, lightning is on her way!” RAWK YOUR LIFE AWAY! It’s the best entrance music in wrestling (I’m aware I say this all the time) and Meiko Satomura, arguably the best women’s wrestler on the planet over the past decade. Hell, probably for longer. Remember GAEA? I could take an argument for Manami Toyota but what’s she done lately? Also Io Shirai perhaps but she doesn’t have the same longevity, and may not because of injuries. Basically Meiko is fucking great and no one can touch her over the last ten years.
So, who’s Chihiro Hashimoto? She’s a relative rookie, with only a few years experience but Sendai Girls thought enough of her to put the big belt around her waist. She has the feel of a legitimate wrestler. She has big thighs and a pleasant shoot-esque style. Her mat game is very strong. I saw her wrestle a few times in 2016 and she has developed over the past year. This match is technically beautiful. They do so many small things well. Like rolling out of holds and then trying the same again and it’s blocked. It’s like they’re learning from each other as the match progresses. Naturally Meiko leads this. It’s her that blocks the second attempt at the same thing and spends a lot of the match stretching the champ on the mat, to prove her superiority. Hashimoto might be carrying that belt around but she’s Meiko fucking Satomura.
Hashimoto is carrying more weight than Satomura and she uses it well, with a combination of judo throws and running sentons. She kinda wrestles like Matt Riddle crossed with Rhino. The threat of Satomura is so great that Chihiro has to powerbomb her on the floor. That might seem extreme but Satomura will beat her in a straight up one on one.
Although, look at her? Poised and ready to kill. Give her a few years and she’ll be murdering Japanese women on a regular basis. Satomura takes a lot of punishment and has to up her game to overcome the upstart youngster. I love her screaming encouragement to herself and trying to reassert her superiority. Then, when that doesn’t work, she starts using all her experience. At one point getting an armbar to get out of a German suplex.
At this point in her career all Hashimoto can do is survive the abuse and keep kicking out. She doesn’t have the depth to her game to deal with Meiko’s bag of tricks. Her raw power is telling. Meiko doesn’t have answers for it and Chihiro picks up the win with a powerbomb followed by a German suplex. She didn’t impose her will on Satomura though, she merely survived for long enough to get in a sequence of power moves. She has a lot of raw talent. Strength and purpose especially. Considering she debuted less than two years ago she’s already at a quite incredible point. Sendai Girls don’t have a lot of depth so this is already her third title but she’s now proving herself to be worthy of that spot. The story here seems to be one that Chihiro has not only gained Satomura’s respect but her approval as Sendai Girls best. It’s lovely stuff. Match was awesome, although I would have preferred Chihiro to hunt down Satomura over a longer period before scoring a second big win over her. Check this match out.
Final Rating: ****1/4
That’s it for this catch up. I’ll be back when I have stuff to catch up on!