Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Long Time, No Speak

Wow, what a dead beat I've been. Time to get this sucker rolling again. Expect some major posts, majorly soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout

Oh Glory Days..... time to continue my little project-o.

Match #1: Steve Williams v. The Samoan Savage

This was pretty decent for like the eight minutes or so it got. Freaking early Rikishi is great. You can most definately see the inspiration for the Umaga gimmick is in this guy. Seriously, watch the mannerisms and tell me it's not.

Anyways, I hate Williams as a babyface around this time. WAAAAY too vanilla-ish and thankfully he would team with Terry Gordy soon to crush eye-sockets and whatnot. Lots of smash mouth-ery going on here between these two. Power slams, lariats, punches and manly posturing make this an average/enjoyable affair. *3/4

Match #2: Tom Zenk & Brian Pillman v. The Mod Squad

Holy fuck someone make this match stop. The Williams match got eight minutes. Hell, this match went longer then the MAIN EVENT MATCH which was a cage match no less. Pillman are the ultimate "California Dreamin'" gooey good boy tag team, but haven't we been down this road with the Dynamic Dudes? What's with WCW around this time and their intense desire to push a babyface tag team of oiled up men wearing neon pink? And why are the guys they're facing dressed up like cops? Is there some sort of subtle joke i'm not getting here?

No seriously, this was awful. It's an extended version of the extended squash WCW up to this point, worked well. THis though, is brutally horrible stuff. Zenk would go on, as you will see in many more Clash Reviews, to be mixed and matched with like nine million partners. God I hate this stuff. 1/4*

Match #3: Mil Mascaras v. Cactus Jack

This is really short but really freaking good stuff as everyone comes away looking good. Mascaras looks smart and good, and while Cactus Jack comes off looking uber retarded, he comes off looking super-sick tough, taking a lot of big spots from Mascaras. In particular, his back plop (not drop) onto the bare concrete was pretty awful and Jim Ross and Jim Cornette's shreiking like school bitches being banged in the bano makes it all the more enjoyable. Cactus comes off like a great wild man heel, where it's obvious he's not, nor should he, overly concerned with the whole winning matches and belts thing. He just likes to fight. That and Mascaras rules.

After the match is even better as Cactus almost turns himself babyface by attacking the super crappy band that's playing the WCW theme song on the outside of the ring. The best is Jack chasing the guy playing guitar around and the guitarist hitting the whammy bar as he runs away from the wild man. Seriously though, this is pretty entertaining for five minutes. That's how you do a semi-squash. *3/4

Match #4: Falls Count Anywhere Match: Norman the Lunatic v. Kevin Sullivan

God, Vince must watch a lot of WCW from this period because I see inspiration for characters everywhere. Norman, who'd later become Bastion Booger in his WWF years, plays the loveable retard here who wrestles in scrubs. Kevin Sullivan is a stubby legged 'rat' as Norman calls him who won't leave him alone.

Great pre-match promo from Norman, whose talking about pinning Kevin Sullivan in a hot dog stand so he can mow hot dogs while punching Sullivan. Then there's a video clip of him in a zoo talking to a pig as if it's Kevin Sullivan while a girl looking on is looking at him like he's on drugs. Then Norman comes out to 'shout' with a Teddy Bear around his neck.

Here's another really fun match, this time of the comedy-type. Sullivan starts off angry and serious but then remembers he's wrestling a retard and takes the whole tough guy who likes to play magic cards down like 20 notches and starts bumping around for the big guy like a goof. They brawl into the crowd, on tables, on the steps, on the guard rail and then up the ramp.

The ending is particularly wild and silly as Kevin Sullivan retreats from Norman into the girl's bathroom. Norman doesn't want to go in and waits for all the girls to leave before pursuing Sullivan in there. About 20 seconds later Norman re-emerges from the bathroom with a toilet bowl in one hand, a roll of TP in the other, all while the referee is in tow. Norman wins. Or at least that's what we're led to believe.

They keep with the stip, make it fun but you don't feel the intensity of a typical Falls Count Anywhere match, which is A-OK for it's spot on the card. Pops the crowd in all the right ways and even though there's not.. like a whole lot to this... it's still a lot of fun. *3/4

Match #5: The Road Warriors v. The Sky Scrapers

Fuck YES. The sky scrapers and baby Undertaker look fantastically bad ass and the Road Warriors are pulling apart a car before the match so this will be a good brawl and all. Someone call the cops, the ambulance.. call em all.

This is worked kinda backwards from what they put over as being the major angle before the match, as the Sky Scrapers are looking to prove themselves as equal brawler to the Road Warriors, yadda yadda. The Scrapers are not exactly brawling early on. Instead, they're using their agility, which when Marc Calloway is on your team is a good thing, which makes them look surprisingly smart.

The Warriors on the other hand, are, um... themselves. They just wanna smash faces. The Scrapers though use that against the Warriors in a way as there's tons of goading going on throughout the match. Finally, once the Warriors gain the upper hand, they connect with a doomsday device, but the ref's knocked out. Calloway comes flying off the ropes with a big old steel chair and wild antics insue from there. Spivey and Calloway spike pile drive Animal onto a chair and leave, using their smarts as a way to prove their brawn.

For like the millionth time tonight, i'm surprised I liked this as much as I did given the time. They don't give fans the satisfaction of watching these two fight. Instead the scrapers more or less prance around as best they can, frustrate the Warriors and prove their worth as physical equals to the LOD. That's after surviving the Doomsday Device. A pretty nice way to get the young team over while not making the old team look bad. That's not to mention a nifty piece of booking not giving the fans the smash-face killing spree they wanted and teasing it for the pay per view. All around good effort. This isn't top 10 stuff and fuck me if it's top 20, but it's a solid piece of pro wrestling. **1/4

Match #6: Titles v. Masks: World Tag Team Championship: The Steiner Brothers v. DOOM

Here's the run-away match of the night. The stip is simple: If the Steiners win, Doom sheds the masks. If Doom wins, they get the belts. Nothing complicated and these two teams keep it nice and simple-stupid for all.

The story through the match is real easy to follow, which is a good thing for mind-blowing retards like myself. Doom dominates, but the masks, which are supposedly their asset, end up becoming their biggest vice, at least in terms of this match. Every time Rick or Scott touch one of their masks or try to rip it off, Doom gets thrown off their game and it allows the Steiners to put some offense together.

The whole match is built simply and the pay off is great with Reed finally losing his mask. He's humiliated and mad and goes to whine to Doom #1 (who we find out later is Ron Simmons) only to get shoved into him and rolled up for the win. So we get a glorious taste of simple irony here with the bad guys strength being used against them.

The Steiners are in this match too, btw, and Scott is especially awesome here, bumping like a crazy man and letting the two brothas put a nasty beat down on whitey. They smash his face (literally his eye is like seven shades of purple afterwards), drop him on his head and do all sorts of mean nastiness to him. In fact, Scott's ability to garner sympathy are what really carry the body of the match and allow the fans to really buy into the babyfaces.

Great tag match that while it's not exactly the Shakespeare of wrestling, it's pretty good. It's more like Dr. Seuss without the rhyming. **3/4

Match #7: Steel Cage Six Man Tag Match: The Great Muta, The Dragon Slayer & Buzz Sawyer v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson

This really isn't much of a match rather than a big angle to end the show on.

Earlier in the night, Sting was expelled from the Four Horseman for taking a contract to face Flair for the belt at the Bash. Ole called him a bitch and they beat him down. Basically, if Sting ditches the contract, he walks away safe, if he doesn't, well then........

Anyways this match goes on and it quickly becomes an afterthought as soon as Muta and Anderson exchange some silly not so sexy stuff. Sting comes running out and that's that. Save for some pretty sick cage shots that Sawyer takes, no one really seems to give a crap that the match is gonig on and is wholely more conscerned with how Sting is going to rape Flair and take his manhood from him.

So yeah, there just isn't anything in this to really give it much more than a star and a half for some cute action in an angle. *1/2

Overall: So i've basically not rated a match at *** on this entire card and i'm ok with that. DESPITE that you squirly fuckers should be fine with it too. This really is a better show than the ratings might indicate. Most of the matches are just too short to go much higher but really, that's all ok. This is worth a pick up to see for a fun, quickie wrestling show. Doom-Steiners is really good stuff but other than that, there ain't much worth going TOO out of your way to see.

Clash of Champions On Going Top 10 (Through Clash X)

1. Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash VI *****
2. Ric Flair v. Terry Funk, I Quit Match, Clash IX ****1/4
3. Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk, Clash VII ***3/4
4. The Midnight Express v. Ric Flair & Barry Windham, Clash IV ***3/4
5. Sting v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash I ***1/2
6. Ric Flair & Sting v. Great Muta & Dick Slater, Clash VIII ***1/2
7. Midnight Express v.The Fantastics, US Tag Titles, Clash I ***1/4
8. Sting v. Barry Windham, US Title, Clash III ***1/4
9. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger, World Tag Titles, Clash I ***
10. Lex Luger v. Tommy Rich, US Championship, Clash VIII ***

Sunday, October 7, 2007

ROH-o Catch up-o

It's been nice to kind of get some of this stuff through various channels, as i've been Capt. Cheap-o this year and haven't invested too much money in ROH. While I think this year has been incredibly hit and miss for the promotion, I figured there's plenty of stuff worth going out of my way to watch and comment on for all of your viewing displeasure.

#1 Contender's Match Bryan Danielson v. Nigel McGuiness
ROH Driven Pay Per View

Wow, this is FAR AND AWAY the best ROH match i've seen in a while. What I liked-- The intensity is nine fold in this. It's a much tighter version of the matches they've had in the past with far more "I want to murder you" in it that I feel takes it to an entirely different level.

Everytime Dragon faces Nigel, he's able to figure out how to beat him, but every time he has to throw more crap at him and it all works. The mat work and everything basically builds to some great nearfall sequences in the end, between the back work, the arm work and what not. Dragon basically has to toss ALL of his super huge stuff at Nigel to keep him down: Cattle mutilation, the big back super plex, the cross face chicken wing and the KO elbows. Usually I HATE finisher whoring, but it's done in a very logical way here and each of the moves is used to punctuate work done previously in the match and makes Nigel look like he could tap or get pinned with any of them. No real wasted movement here which is something we rarely see in the indys nowadays. Again, this has the real hate their previous matches lacked and I actually enjoyed the brawling sections more than the mat sections, which is more unusual with these two. It really came off as more of a fight than a wrestling match.

What I didn't like-- the ONLY reason I can't get this to **** is because of the selling, which gets kinda goofy at points. The being COMPLETELY recovered quickly after getting raped on the part of both guys gets annoying at spots. While the limb selling and the facial expressions are good, there are parts where these two literally potato each other silly only for the other guy to counter, pop up and go into a control segment and it repeats itself a few times. Now that can be attributed to the fact that these two hate each other and it's an important match and whatnot, so on some levels it's semi-excusable but it still kinda annoys me a bit.

The other thing I didn't like is more of a general complaint about ROH in general and that is.. WHY do ROH guys have to literally massacre each other physically to get a point across? Sure, the ROHbots love the STIFF~ stuff and whatnot, but jesus the flush shots right on Nigel's face and the frequent death spots are a bit much. I don't hold it against the match or anything, but still, if these guys aren't eating out of a tube by 40 i'll be astonished.

Anyways, overall this is really a can't miss match. It's really, really good stuff and it feels good to say that, as I feel a lot of ROH stuff has been hit and miss this year. Seriously though, these two really put on a fun match here. Easily the best match i've seen worked by TWO guys in ROH all year. ***3/4

ROH World Championship
Takeshi Morishima v. Bryan Danielson
Glory by Honor V

So finally, here we go. The year seemingly has built to this one so let's hope for some goodies.

The early part of this match is absolutely fantastic. Morihimsa is especialy excellent here. For months they've tried to put Mori in the whole unstoppable big man thing and to me, this is the first match where that really plays out fantastically. Mori is very surly here, stomping on Dragon, looking all confident and big-ish. Dragon's offense is pretty good as well, as he employs a similar, time tested strategy that worked quite well in his first shot at Samoa Joe back in 04 which is relentless leg work. Mori sells it all really well, as it obviously is hurting him, but not nearly to the degree where it looks like it's going to effect his ability to win the match.

I like that fact particularly because it establishes a constant reference point for the match. Mori comes back, drops bombs, Dragon finds an opening and goes back for more leg thrashin'.

Down the finishing half, we have some excellent near falls from Dragon with Mori consistently putting him down with more bombs. The leg work though isn't really referenced like it could have been, or at least to the degree it was used, should have been. Dragon starts ripping through HIS big stuff. His attitude here is great, like the relentless stomping of Mori's head and whatnot, but it's all more or less flown through to get to the big finishing run where Mori's pulvarizes Danielson into dust.

This match seemingly gets to a point and then just gets into the paint by the numbers Morishima stuff we've seen a lot of, which isn't altogether bad, but doesn't really fit for the epic build this seemingly had going for it. This is a rare occurence in Dragon matches where he's clearly the second best guy in the ring.

Overall, this is definately good, but not worthy of the praise it's been getting all over the place. I prefer quite a few matches to it. The first half is super brilliant while the last half just doesn't quite fit for me. Good, but not great. ***

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Clash of the Champions IX: The New York Knock Out

Clash of the Champions IX: The New York Knock Out
Troy, NY
November 15, 1989

MATCH #1: World Tag Team Championship: The Freebirds v. The Road Warriors

The circumstances surrounding this one are actually kind of funny. As it turns out, the Freebirds aren't really the champions. How does that work? Well, turns out they had jobbed the belts a few days earlier but because the match hadn't aired yet, thus this is their final match as champions.

This one is kept nice and short, the way it should be. The Warriors start potatoing the bejesus outta the Freebirds and Garvin and Hayes want absolutely nothing to do with that and start doing their fun stalling, hip swivelling and attempting to, as JR says on commentary, "cut corners" so that they can get in control of the match. Of course they eventually iscolate Animal and all kinds of aggitate Hawk who blows his stack and comes a running on in, propelling the referee across the ring and causing the DQ.

This is worked ok, but is pretty run of the mill stuff. It does it's trick and they kept it short and sweet enough. This isn't really much of anything to get wow'd about though. *1/2

Match #2: DOOM (w/ Woman) v. Eddie Gilbert and Tommy Rich

This is another one of those extended squashes, but man, Eddie Gilbert deserves a medal for this one. He performed pretty darn great. DOOM is still in their masks at this point and lookin' good. Gilbert, like mosquitos, stick and move like crazy men but eventually get caught by the big mangs and get pulvarized. It's a bad night for whitey. *1/4

Match #3: The Midnight Express v. the Dynamic Dudes

This is a decent enough match with a super great finish, as is per the usual with the MXE.

Basically Cornette is in a neutral corner for this one as he's got man crushes on both teams. You can tell the Midnights are the ones with the bigger problem here as he's been their manager for forever and then some. The Dudes just do what the Dudes do.

Despite having an exceptionally lame gimmick, Johnny Ace and Shane Douglas make an ok team and repeatedly frustrate the Midnights and consistently present a compelling case that maybe Cornette should get behind the neon pink-o's and ditch the playboys. Everytime the Midnights get something going, the Dudes cut them off and frustrate them. There isn't ever a part where the Midnights can string together a consistent enough string of offense.

Because of this, you see the gradual heel turn here which of course comes to a head with a classic Midnight Express screw job finish. Bobby Eaton goes to use a chain on Shane Douglas but Cornette jumps in the ring and takes the chain away from him and chucks it into the crowd, admonishing Bobby. He encourages Shane to give Eaton the business and as soon as Shane does, he eats a racket shot to the back of the head.

Cornette choose the DUDES over his homies? Right. Fun match with a sensational finish. **1/4

Match #4: Steve Williams v. The Super Destroyer

This is Jack Victory's 9 millionth jobber in a mask who so happends to be a heel he's played on a Clash show. Yikes this is thankfully quick and painless. Williams is too goody goody gum drops here again but thankfull is a goody goody gum drop with a big power slam. This isn't anything memorable. *

Match #5: The Steiner Brothers v. The Skyscrapers

The Steiners are the great up and coming wrestling team, the Skyscrapers are the new big boys on the block. Granted this had some cool heat through the match, it's actually pretty bad. Vicious and Spivey give away WAY too much freaking offense in the early going. Steiner popping off hurricanrannas on guys who're 6'11 is pretty shitty too. Thankfully, DOOM interfere and bring Woman's bodyguard along for the fun and start whoopin' that ass. Spivey and Vicious like playing that game too, so they join. Unfortunately for the bad guys, the Road Warriors come charging to the Steiner's aid, getting a mega-pop in the process, and we've got a wild super brawl in the middle of the ring. Bad match with a fun run in infested ending. I'll give it a star for the brawl at the end. *

PS- This was the match where Sid Vicious punctured his lung which led to the introduction of a certain clown named Marc Calloway. Wonder what ever happened to him?

Match #6: United States Championship: Lex Luger v. Brian Pillman

This is a really great and likely forgotten match. Luger's really in more of a feud with Sting at this point, but Pillman's chasing him at the same time. Luger's been billed as the next big thing and thus far, with the exception of Ric Flair, has mowed down everyone tossed in front of him. Pillman, oddly enough, has been on a hot streak of HIS own and has been dominant in his own regard. After screwing Pillman out of the win at Halloween Havoc, Luger is forced to give Brian a rematch for the belt on this show.

This is a great Luger-formula match. Luger tries to wrestle, Pillman outwrestles him. Luger does the over power em thing, and Pillman tops him again. Luger starts to think his way around things and look for Pillman to make mistakes and capitalize on them, but Pillman recovers too quickly for Luger to get anything going.

A great and late Latino who liked cheating once said: If you can't win, cheat until you win. If that doesn't work, cheat harder. Luger gets into the whole douche-ish looking for any excuse to cheat he can. Eventually, he grabs a chair and absolutely potatoes (I like that word) Pillman in the grill with it. The official is dazed and Luger gets the win. After the match Luger needlessly beats down Pillman and the Stinger comes in to make the save. Fun enough I suppose.

Another one of those formula matches where Luger's great ability to look really frustrated is amplified by Pillman's ability to play an even pluckier vanilla babyface. I'm a little torn here between which defense I like better, the Rich defense or this one, because it's a really close call. ***

Match #7: I Quit Match: Ric Flair v. Terry Funk

Well, there's been a lot said about this one and with good reason. It's really fuckin' good.

I really like this match, but to be honest, I ALWAYS wonder how it'll hold up every time I watch it and EVERY time I watch it I wonder why i'm such an idiot sometimes. I think watching Funk-Steamboat enhanced this for whatever reason as it's just that match ratcheted up two or three clicks.

Steamboat didn't have a reason to hate Funk, but as you all know, Flair sure did. This just makes for a super intense brawl that doesn't have a lot of goofy table spots, sick chair shots, etc. This is fundamentally, what any feud ending gimmick match should be and that's just overflowing with hate, energy and most importantly, closes the book. This does all of that.

Flair's chops have extra mustard on them and he's all over Funk at all times. There's never a 'down' spot in this... like literally. There's never a point where one guy is laying around rolling around on his back. The selling is superb as a lot of it is delayed selling and that's tough to pull off well without making it look like overkill (see anything Pro Wrestling NOAH related). Funk looks like he's fighting for generations of Funks and Flair's fighting for his manhood.

I miss the day when matches like an I Quit match or a Last Man Standing sorta match didn't involve six million table spots, etc. I like a high spot as much as anyone, but in the end, there's always someone whose going to be willing to do a zanier stunt than you do. There's no replacement for keeping things simple but making sure things are intense. Table spots pop the crowd because they just saw the act.. the stunt... The pain... This match is good because the spots create DRAMA. It generates sympathy for the WRESTLER.

This is considered one of the first real hardcore-type brawls in the US up to this point, but really, by today's standards, it's hardly hardcore. And that's a-ok. Hardcore ain't about tables, chairs and thumbtacs, it should be about hate and intensity. This is what those matches are out and is really everything a final blow off match should be. ****1/4

Overall: Take the final two matches off this cards and it's scary-bad, but the last two matches make things ok enough. Flair-Funk is required viewing for anyone who considers themselves a wrestling fan, but Pillman-Luger is really worth going out of your way to see too. The Dudes-Midnights is fun for what it is too, but really, the rest of this is a lot of filler crap. Some of it's hit filler crap and some is miss filler crap, but it's still all relatively meaningless in the end. C

The one thing that's fun to watch is how much Turner's production team brought to the table when he bought the organization, both good and bad. We get some super terrible gimmicks, but a much needed production overhaul. If you look at the NWA shows towards the end of 1988 and look at WWF at the same point, the difference in polish is huge. The WWF looks flat out better and is a way better overall production than the NWA. Turner though, sees the need to clean up the look and puts a lot of effort into lighting and presentation. The jump from late 88-early 90 is pretty dramatic and cool to watch unfold.

Clash of Champions On Going Top 10 (Through Clash IX)
1. Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash VI *****
2. Ric Flair v. Terry Funk, I Quit Match, Clash IX ****1/4
3. Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk, Clash VII ***3/4
4. The Midnight Express v. Ric Flair & Barry Windham, Clash IV ***3/4
5. Sting v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash I ***1/2
6. Ric Flair & Sting v. Great Muta & Dick Slater, Clash VIII ***1/2
7. Midnight Express v.The Fantastics, US Tag Titles, Clash I ***1/4
8. Sting v. Barry Windham, US Title, Clash III ***1/4
9. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger, World Tag Titles, Clash I ***
10. Lex Luger v. Tommy Rich, US Championship, Clash VIII ***

Dropping Out
10. The Fantastics v. Ron Simmons & Eddie Gilbert, US Tag Titles, Clash IV **3/4

Clash of the Champions Stock Picks

I saw this on another site and I thought it was a pretty darn great idea so I 'm going to do it here. Yes, I get no points for originality, but your'e reading, so whose the fuck stick?

Stock Going Up

Lex Luger-- Yes, I said it. I think Luger's underrated, or at least underrated in terms of the stuff he did in the late 80s. Granted, he spent much of both years working with guys like Ric Flair and Barry Windham, but here's a guy that to me, carried his weight and then some in both of those matches. Virtually everything he's been involved with in the Clash matches has been good and he even pulls some fun stuff out of guys like Tommy Rich rather unexpectedly.

Rick Steiner-- Bar none, the best character actor of this era. I've already seen enough to say it. His stuff with the varsity club is a lot of fun.. and well... funny, but not to the degree where he becomes a comedy act or a stooge. In fact, it's utterlyu believable and he comes off as the most genuinely 'realistic' character on the roster. Everyone knew a guy like Steiner, who was a great athlete, pretty stupid, but loveably stupid. His ring work is pretty darn great too. In fact, I haven't seen a match with Rick Steiner involved that i've disliked thus far.

Jimmy Garvin-- It's not so much a 'congrats, you're great in the ring' pick as much as I think these clash shows show what a fantastic utility player Garvin was in the mid card. He worked face well, heel a little better, but still both come off as a lot of fun. None of his matches are particularly great, but they're at base entertaining and what's Jimmy Garvin without drama following him, uh, everywhere? Seriously though, WWE lacks Jimmy Garvin-esqe guys who can carry a good feud in the mid card with just about anyone over anything face or heel. Hell, wrestling in general lacks guys like this..

The Fantastics-- You can cut it any way you want to, this team was the backbone of the strongest tag division in wrestling history throughout 88 and into early 89, as division that featured the Midnight Express, Rock-N-Roll Express, The Road Warriors, The Varsity Club, Sheepherders, Blanchard & Anderson and more. Everything these guys are in is good. Everything. Long matches, short matches, brawls, head lock contests.. you name it, they work it, work it well and it's great. I mentioned it earlier and it warrants repeating, that often the best wrestlers are able to find an effective formula, stick with it, and modify it slightly according to who they're wrestling against. Flair is the best example, Matt Hardy is the most current example and I'd say these guys are the best tag team example.

Stock Going Down

The Road Warriors-- Holy shit, i've hated almost everything they've been in thus far. Maybe they're phoning it in, maybe they're just not that good. I dunno, but whatever it is here, I haven't been able to get into anything of theirs outside of the Varsity Club brawl at Clash VI. Everything else has just rubbed me as 'trying too hard'. The one thing they DO do well, is capitalize on the great crowd heat they get early on in matches and are able to drag it out by being no-nonsense shit kickers for about five minutes and at least keep the crowds into it, which in the end, is the only thing that matters. ANYTHING that goes longer than 10-12 minutes though, falls apart pretty badly.

Sting-- This isn't really a knock on the Stinger as much as it is where he's at in his career during this period. John Cena went through this gawky stage in the ring as well where he was running between the 'do I play for sympathy?' thing or "Do I kick ass and take names?' thing. Stinger's definately still growing and shows signs of being incredible, especially in his matches with and against Ric Flair. However, there are still matches where it comes off as obvious that he's significantly inferior and gets worked right out of the building and becomes an afterthought like his match with Windham. So I dunno, his stock goes down for me, at least in the late 80's sense, but mostly because he's just still growing.

So those are my picks through the first eight. Check back when i'm done with Clash XVI and see where everyone's headed!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Clash of Champions VIII: Fall Brawl '89

It's Fall Brawl time again. Oh joy of joys.

Match #1: The Road Warriors v. The Samoan SWAT Team

These two teams work best in short-shot quickie brawls. Anything more than 10 minutes, for either team, usually falls apart. Here's a case of a well booked, basic match capitalizing on the heat on both teams and card placement. The crowd is bat shit hot for this event and these are the first two teams out of the gate. The Warriors potato the Samoans, the Samoans potato back, the Warriors drop the whole state of Idaho on their heads and that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. *3/4

Match #2: World Tag Team Championship: The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Steiner Brothers

This is a classy little match. If people are looking to get into tag wrestling and want to know how to put on a great match with a less experienced team, grab a notebook for this one. This is essentially the first crack at the tag belts for the Steiners, who by this time, are pretty much noobs in the tag ranks.

The early part of the match is basically The Steiners running through their flashy stuff and the Freebirds sell their asses off for them. Of course, that eventually comes to a head when the more experienced Rick gets in there with Hayes. The match briefly stalls a bit before Hayes grabs the advantage and we're into the face in peril piece of the match.

Rick is awesome in this role, period. His character at the time was so loveably stupid and believable, that it was just a magnet in this type of a match up for good old babyface sympathy. Scott's offense during this period was a lot more fast paced and energetic so when the hot tag hits, it comes off really well and again, the birds do some floppin', but to the degree where it doesn't come off as overly ridiculous. They keep the sequence nice and tight, as to not over expose Scott and it gets cut off as Scotty literally stumbled into a Hayes implant DDT to end the match.

The ending is left more or less shrouded in mystery though as the question arises as to whether Woman, whose supposedly one of their valets, tripped him up or not. Either way you go, whether Scott's showing his inexperience by being prone to mistakes or that they were screwed out of the titles by a slutty bitch, you get something good. The fact that the commentators and the Steiners seem willing to allow that ambiguity works even better.

This is a nicely worked, tight match that went exactly as long as it should have and everyone comes away looking good. **3/4

Match #3: The Z-Man Tom Zenk v. The Cuban Assasin

Here's a squash I didn't really dig all that much. They seemed like they were GOING to go for something more compedetive, but shyed away from it with head locks and arm bars, which don't really fit into a squash-type match. The spots are timed awkwardly with Zenk doing little to capitalize on the initial pops and keep the momentum going strong throughout the eight-nine minutes this went. This is a pretty easy skipper match. 1/4*

Match #4: Sid Vicious v. Ranger Ross

Not much here. Vicious literally blows through his four or five signature moves, Ross tries to not get totally murdered, and they go home. Really, there ain't much to say here. 1/4*

Match#5: Brian Pillman v. Norman "The Lunatic"

Now THIS is a good squash match. Pillman is being billed as a wily, spry, thinking man's wrestler and even though Norman has no shot of winning here, his power spots are placed well and initially, Pillman really struggles to find a way to keep the big man at bay and pin his shoulders to the mat. Eventually Pillman thinks his way to a win with a nice crucifix.

I was actually surprised at how much good psychology they were able to pack into the four-five minutes they had. Norman looked surprisingly buy-able as a viable lower mid card big man here while Pillman didn't look like he was totally trampling him, and that there was more of a legit struggle for him to think his way to a win over a much bigger and very unpredictable opponent. This is what it is, but for my only giving it *3/4, this is pretty decent.

Match #6: Steve Williams v. Mike Rotundo

Of all the matches i've watched so far in the Clash set, this is probably the most dissapointing thus far. If you really put things into context, this should have been billed as a lot bigger deal than it was. Williams came into the NWA as a babyface and was more or less the corner man for Rick Steiner when he broke away from the now defunct Varsity Club. He turned on Steiner and he and Rotundo dominated the tag division for the first half of 89, winning both the US and World Tag belts. Of course Williams eventually turned again, broke the group up, and this should have been the culmination of all that. The feud was about Williams going over big, and this fell short of expectations for me in a lot of ways.

My major issue here is that Williams plays the babyface role way, way too hard. Williams is a dominating big man and should be billed as such. Rotundo is a smarmy, smart heel who thinks his cheating out and figures out how to win matches. Williams dominates, Rotundo is more of a survivor.

Here, as I just said, Williams goes for the hard babyface and simply put, gives Rotundo way, way too much offense here. Williams was always a pretty good babyface, but he's not the type of face that attracts sympathy and that's what they seemingly went for here. It improves as the match goes along, with Williams FINALLY finding ways to overwhelm Rotundo with his power, but the power stuff doesn't have the maximum impact and Williams is forced to pander to the crowd way too much here, especially down the home stretch, where by that point he shouldn't have to do that.

Rotundo is perfectly fine here pulling off some fun eye gouging and holds, but taking the two as characters into account, it's kinda all for nothing. Even the ending is kinda silly with Williams going for the stampede, but Rotundo rolling through for the pin attempt, only to have that reversed. So Williams wins, gets attacked afterwards but reacts like he doesn't really care.

As I said, the structure doesn't fit the feud and Williams having an uphill battle against anyone is sort of tough to buy. Again, this is dissaponting. A lot of people liked this, but i'm a little baffled as to why, other than the fact that it's Williams and Rotundo in a match. *3/4

Match #7: Lex Luger v. Tommy Rich

Luger, in my opinion, is an underrated worker in the ring. Some of his stuff, well most, was increibly mediocre, but during this time period he was really strong and given the right opponent could be downright awesome at times. This is one of those cases where Luger works a really smart match with a super motivated Rich and the result is a darn good US title match.

They play up Rich's temper early on and his tendancy to get overzealous at times. He goes hard at Luger initially, but the whole time, despite his being in total control, you get the sense that he's wrestling Luger's match and eventually it'll catch up to him, and as you guessed, it does.

That's not before Rich puts on a hell of a performance. Rich eventually grabs his composure and works a smart match, keeping the bigger man grounded and on the match. Luger is forced to adapt and tries his mat stuff, but that doesn't work before going to the slugging, but still, Rich doesn't take the bait and is able to still keep the upper hand. Eventually though, as said earlier, things catch up to him and the match opens up. Rich gets fired up a bit and Luger's able to snap mare his head off the ropes and sneak away with a clean win.

Rich comes off looking nothing like the slouch you'd expect him to in this match and looks plucky and game for the match, but his usual tendancies lead to his undoing and Luger's able to catch him off guard and escape with a solid win and still look strong. This is a very solid, if not flat out good match. Hell with it. It's really good. ***

Match #8: Sting & Ric Flair v. The Great Muta & Dick Slater

This is a sensational heat-filled tag main event. Flair, of course, is embroiled in a feud with Terry Funk and Gary Hart. Sting gets involved due to his dislike for the Great Muta and saved Flair from a nasty beat down at the Bash. Slater is Funk's replacement, whose supposedly injured. The whole match builds to Funk's inevitable run in.

Flair and Sting are a dream team here and look every bit the part, dominating the early going. Flair looks exceptionally sharp with his offense and he and Sting seem to have everything in hand in the early going. Muta though, is the real stud here and works both Sting and Flair well and comes off as an uber credible threat to both.

Slater brings his wild Slater-like stuff here with the stoogie bumping. This is run of the mill tag stuff until about eight minutes in where it breaks down into a total brawl, with Muta and Slater eventually getting the better and taking the opportunity to lay a nasty beat down on Sting.

This is a huge elevational piece of the match as Sting comes off looking super-resilient, surviving a lot of Muta's best stuff AND a Gary Hart coin shot. Muta eventually has had enough so Slater comes in all wild goes nuts on Sting but a little too nuts and we lead into the hot tag.

The match totally breaks down in a good way as all four men go at it and we've basically got a melee, Sting and Flair are hitting multiple revenge spots and eventually we get the ref bump and Funk comes rumbling down to the ring and sticks a bag on Flair's head and we get the imfamous plastic bag angle to end the match, as the heels walk away with a clear upper hand, totally outsmarting the babyfaces.

While this doesn't have a lot of traditional tag structure stuff, they manage to work enough of it in to keep it a real, legit tag match while mixing enough wild crap to build heat and pop the crowd. The ending angle is one of the all time great ones.

I really like this and it's a ton of fun on a lot of levels, all building towards a big moment. In the end, it comes off as much like a supurbly built angle as it does a well worked match, and that's not something that comes easily. See this one. ***1/2

OVERALL: This is a pretty a-typicial Clash show. You get a hot main event, some total garbage, a let down and a surprisingly good match. The last two matches are worth going out of your way to see and the tag title match is as text book experienced heels beat inexperienced babyfaces as you get. This isn't the most memorable Clash card i've seen, but it's pretty well rounded. B- sounds good.

Clash of Champions On Going Top 10 (Through Clash VIII)
1. Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash VI *****
2. Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk, Clash VII ***3/4,
3. The Midnight Express v. Ric Flair & Barry Windham, Clash IV ***3/4
4. Sting v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash I ***1/2
5. Ric Flair & Sting v. Great Muta & Dick Slater, Clash VIII ***1/2
6. Midnight Express v.The Fantastics, US Tag Titles, Clash I ***1/4
7. Sting v. Barry Windham, US Title, Clash III ***1/47
8. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger, World Tag Titles, Clash I ***
9. Lex Luger v. Tommy Rich, US Championship, Clash VIII ***
10. The Fantastics v. Ron Simmons & Eddie Gilbert, US Tag Titles, Clash IV **3/4

Dropping Out
9. Road Warriors v. The Varsity Club, World Tag Titles, Clash VI **3/4
10.The Fantastics v. The Sheepherders **1/2, Clash II

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clash of Champions VII: Guts N Glory

Clash of Champions VII
Fort Bragg, NC
June 14, 1989

Match #1: Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Final: The Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) v. The Dynamic Dudes

Say what you will about the brutally cheesy Dynamic Dudes gimmick, this is a pretty good tag match. The Freebirds are ones uncorking the big angle though, unveiling Garvin as the newest member of the faction. The Dudes are the cinderella team here, as Ross puts them over as the more inexperienced and undefeated team that's managed to earn a few surprise wins here and there to get themselves here. Still, they're huge underdogs.

The match starts out with some good cheesey heel stalling from the 'Birds before we get into the meat and potatoes of it all. The Birds looked rather surprised right off the bat and surprisingly, despite the organization being as great as it was, Hayes and Garvin are obviously inexperienced in terms of tagging with EACH OTHER, so this works ok.

Once the Freebirds start playing the numbers game, it's just a matter of time and sure enough, they cheat and cheat and cheat to maintain their advantage. Eventually Shane Douglas gets the big hot tag but the fun doesn't last long, as Terry Gordy super-involves himself, distracting the ref long enough for Hayes to absolutely murder Douglas with a nasty implant DDT to win the match.

Overall, this is surprisingly strong but is just agreat showcase of how freaking good the Freebirds are at making a team look good. Not that the Dudes get dragged to something decent, as they definately carry their weight here, but everything they do is magnified times seven thanks to Hayes, Garvin and Gordy. **1/4

Match #2: World Tag Title Tournament Semi Final: The Midnight Express v. The Samoan SWAT Team

This match is basically the Clash VI match with a HELL of a lot more intensity. Both teams go through their stuff for extended periods of time before we get a hot tag. The hot tag sequence comes off well until all hell breaks loose and Cornette's being a douche, Paul E. Dangerously is being a douch, hell, it's a douche-fest.

The end though, is dirty, dirty, but sets up the final well. The Road Warriors hate the SWAT's and Dangerously too, and feel the need to inerject themselves in the match and do quite gloriously. Thanks to the leg up, the Midnights win.

This isn't anything super spectacular, but it's amazing how much better this comes across with a hot crowd behind it. The hate works better, Cornette is a better douche, same with Dangerously.. just everything works better. **1/4

Match #3: Ranger Ross v. The Terrorist

Ranger Ross is basically here to pop the army boys and go home. That's basically, err, literally all that happends. Ross comes out, waves a flag and kicks a terrorist. *******3/4.2's

No really, probably 1/4* for practically nothing happening except a kick-y.

Match #4: The Ding Dongs v. Cougar Jay & George South

Good lord fuck. I never imagined i've EVER review a Ding Dongs match, but hell is a chilly place today.

It's AMAZING how bad the crowd shits on these guys. Like amazing. They're also amazingly annoying with the dinging bell in the corner and not being particularly in sync at all. In fact, had Cougar and South not sold their backsides off, this could have been a nuclear-disaster type bad match. The Dongs blow a ton of spots in a relatively short period of time and spend the rest of the time shedding little bells all over the ring. Funniest part of the mat is Jay leaning down and going 'what the fuck' when picking up the bells on the mat. Honestly, for that moment alone, this isn't a total dud, but it's DAMN close. 1/4*

Match #5: Steve Williams v. Terry Gordy

Ah man, I love these two in a match. Any match. Even in a spaghetti eating contest.

This starts off super fast and super intense with these two basically beating the fuck out of each other with lots of big man super fun. Both struggle to move the other man around the ring at will and both aren't easily able to eat the other guy's offense. Big man matches are best when it's like two bricks clacking off each other. The beginning of this is all that.

Then it plateaus big time unfortunately. Not that anything's bad, but the crowd chills five minutes into this and Gordy and Williams struggle to get them back into it, despite even fighting into the crowd, which of course causes the countout, but still, you'd have figured that'd have done them SOME good.

Overall this is fun, but doesn't go long enough for it to go to the next level and they lose the crowd pretty quickly. The good sequences are awesomely awesome though. **1/4

Match #6: The Varsity Club (Mike Rotundo & Kevin Sullivan) v. The Steiner Brothers

This is a really good short match. Basically Scott's come to the NWA to give his big brother some backup against the cocky Varsity douches. Thus, the Steiner Brothers are born.

Anyways, this match is awesome with the Steiners coming out to Hot Stuff. They surprise the Varsity Club clowns early in the match, especially Scott, whose looking pretty plucky. Eventually though, Scott gets caught and basically gets wrecked by Sullivan. This is the best part of the match and Scott plays an excellent babyface in peril here as the Varsity Club subject him to all sorts of dastardly treatment, including a nasty table bump and a particularly stiff shot with some wooden ring steps.

The hot tag sequence is done well and the Varsities cutting it off and getting the cheating win, over Scott no less, leaves the door open for more stuff down the line as well as something for Scott and Rick to continue to strive for. Very well structured short match. **1/2

Match #7: NWA World Television Championship: Sting v. Bill Irwin

This is another short, utterly pointless match on this card. By now, the crowd's starting to get a little sick of getting good initial stuff and losing it as we get into the match. This only goes about three minutes and is a cute Stinger squash, who brings some ok stuff here, but really, it's still pretty bleh. *

Match #8: NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: The Freebirds v. The Midnight Express

How can you NOT get up for THIS? I'm betting there'll be a lot of hip swiveling and cock thrusting here in a non homosexual way.

Unfortuantely though, this doesn't really deliver at all. They start with a fantastic premise. Paul E Dangerously jumps Jim Cornette with a loaded rackett and leaves him mildly retarded on the floor. The Dynamic Dudes help Cornette to the back, leaving the Midnight Express in deep trouble, as they're up against the numbers of the Freebirds. Basically, they're done before the match starts.

They do some sorts cardboard tag stuff, of course executed well, but nothing mindblowing before heading into the "Bobby Eaton is a punching bag" part of the match. Eaton's one of the best sellers the business ever had and is outstanding here and the crowd gradually gets behind him. They play to the numbers thing with Lane CONSTANTLY protecting him on the outside as often as possible.

Then, they just don't do much with it, or at least from the babyfaces perspective. Basically Lane gets the hot tag and we're working the SAME EXACT formula we've used in TWO previous tag matches in the night where it gets cut off, Gordy interjects himself and then that's it. Now, playing to the numbers in that respect works ok but I feel empty here for whatever reason.

I REALLY think this could and would have benefitted greatly from Cornette coming back from the locker room or the Dudes or some other babyface team coming to the corner of the Midnights while they're in peril. They never really worked beyond that. Lane's hot tag gets a big pop, but his offense looks awkward in that role and of course nothing really ever gets going with it, as we do the dirty finish we've done twice already tonight, which is frustrating in a way.

This goes about ten minutes and hell, it didn't need anymore time to be great, it just lacked a real swerve or hot spot to get it really going. Normally I wouldn't give a crap if it wasn't two of my favorite tag teams of all time meeting for the first time. Regardless of that, I can't really FAULT them for it in the match, but dammmit I feel like they could've gone the extra mile with it, even with the time alotted to them. **1/2

Match #9: Norman the Lunatic v. Mike Justice

Ah, Bastion Booger pre-Bastion Booger days. It still blows. 45 seconds of Herd crap. DUD.

Match #10: Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk

Finally, a match i've REALLY been waiting to see and FINALLY, a match that doesn't really dissapoint.

Steamboat really brings the good here and Funk is Funk. The story here is that Funk's an unstoppable psycho and Steamboat ain't gonna be intimidated by him. The strikes from Steamboat really have some, uh, steam behind them and he seems totally content to work the wild style Funk wants.

The thing I love about this is that it's a wild brawl without one really crazy spot, fighting into the crowd, or baging of heads off of tables. Just punches and chops gallore and a whole lot of 'tude. NO ONE worked that match as well as Funk and everything he does makes him look like a killer and totally out of his mind.

Oddly enough though, as Funk tends to do, his performance fades to the background and his craziness just amplifies the sympathy Steamboat is able to garner by eating so many of Funk's big moves like the pile driver, the pile driver on the floor, etc. He comes off as a pseudo badass even, as Funk bounces around and sells his tail off for Steamboat all while maintaining and enhancing his maniac persona.

This is a real treat on a lot of levels and it's worked tightly, which works well. The fourteen minutes is the perfect ammount of time because they minimize the chances of the crowd ever fading out of it. This is a really great match i'd say is probably in my top three, but I still can't decide if I like the Midnight-Flair/Windham tag better. It's tough call. ***3/4

Overall: This is probably the weakest Clash show i've seen yet, although it is entertaining and a good show all around. I guess the biggest thing about this show is that many of the match ups prove to be really dissapointing. Gordy-Williams never takes off, the Midnights-Freebirds never get going, etc. It's like everyone sat in the back and were like, 'ok, we've got a limited amount of time for our matches, let's work five great minutes and then just work in a finish'. The main event is really worth going out of your way to see though, while the crap is awesomely crappy in a way that only the Jim Herd run WCW could be. Overall, a dissapointing show, but not entirely bad on any level. C+

Clash of Champions On Going Top 10 (Through Clash VII)
1. Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash VI *****
2. Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk, Clash VII ***3/4,
3. The Midnight Express v. Ric Flair & Barry Windham, Clash IV ***3/4
4. Sting v. Ric Flair, World Hvt Title, Clash I ***1/2
5. Midnight Express v.The Fantastics, US Tag Titles, Clash I ***1/4
6. Sting v. Barry Windham, US Title, Clash III ***1/4
7. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger, World Tag Titles, Clash I ***
8. The Fantastics v. Ron Simmons & Eddie Gilbert, US Tag Titles, Clash IV **3/4
9. Road Warriors v. The Varsity Club, World Tag Titles, Clash VI **3/4
10.The Fantastics v. The Sheepherders **1/2, Clash II

Dropping Out
Mike Rotundo v. Brad Armstrong, TV Title, Clash III **1/2