As a wrestling fan, one of my personal goals for this year has been to broaden my horizons away from the current-day WWE product. Whilst the in-ring product isn’t bad (and with the quality on the current roster, how can it?), the creative tied to those matches can often be deflating. So, to provide some variety, I’ll be trawling the internet and reviewing random matches from around the world (as opposed to entire shows).
If you have any suggestions – please send them across to us, either by reaching out on Twitter, Facebook, or using the contact form on the website.
Halloween & Xtreme Tiger vs. Charly Manson & Chessman vs. Joe Lider & Crazy Boy vs. Teddy Hart & Sabu (AAA Sin Limite, Guerra De Titanes 2007, Ladder Match – November 30, 2007 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTh9CU9g3PI)
The video here was clipped (according to Cagematch, this was nearly 20 minutes long, but YouTube only has an eight minute clip, including introductions. Apologies for any ignorance I may show here with my lack of lucha knowledge… Taking place inside AAA’s six-sided ring (a la TNA), this four corner tag team ladder match had the potential to be a car wreck, and sure enough the stunt show started immediately with two luchadores taking turns whacking each other’s head off the ladder, before they get Joey Mercury’d with two other luchadores yanking the ladder from outside. More spots followed with Teddy Hart pulling off a Northern Lights Suplex on Charly Manson into a ladder propped against the ropes, followed by a fade-away cut (as the wrecked ladder is removed from the ring), with Hart hitting an innovative powerbomb-come-code breaker onto Joe Lider. The next “highlight” sees Joe Lider and Crazy Boy miss an attempted stuff-Vertebreaker on Hart, before a replacement ladder is brought in for Crazy Boy to use… for climbing! Manson low-blows Crazy and powerbombs him through another ladder, as the highlights then switch to footage of Hart on the commentary table, motioning to the crowd.
Back in the ring, we see Extreme Tiger run up a ladder-bridge set-up (a la Shelton Benjamin) to knock Manson off of another ladder with a Shining Wizard, only for Sabu to make an appearance, throwing chairs at Tiger. I backed out of this video at this point, with the “highlights” (at around 50% of the match) being enough to make anyone go insane. This would be Jim Cornette’s living nightmare, and although I enjoy ladder matches, this highlight reel was just unwatchable.
Volador Jr vs. Mistico vs. La Sombra vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Mr. Niebla vs. Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero vs. Averno vs. Mephisto vs. Ephesto vs. Alebrije vs. Psicosis vs. Olimpico vs. Histeria (CMLL 77th Anniversary Show – Caged Mask vs. Mask Match – September 3, 2010 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEhaoLZVuxQ)
Switching to the other major promotion in Mexico, and a mammoth 14-man cage match from CMLL’s 77th anniversary show back in September 2010. This match was in two-parts, first under escape the cage rules, with the last two men left engaging in a mask vs. mask match.
The first thing that dates this is on the entrance-way, as the steps from the stage to the aisle promote… Internet Explorer 8?! Again, I’m extremely unfamiliar with a lot of these guys, including Alebrije, the wrestling butterfly, although I can tell that Psicosis is not the original that wrestled in WCW, ECW and WWE back in the day. We do get the original Mistico (coming out to the start of Undertaker’s music, wearing Scott Steiner’s old chain mail… this is the same Mistico would later flop in WWE as Sin Cara, and then rename himself in Mexico – currently going by the name of Caristico), and of course, the inimitable Jushin “Thunder” Liger, so at least I’m familiar with two of the fourteen guys in this!
With only half of the guys in the cage, the action begins, only to stop as the remaining contenders come out. Mistico and Volador battle outside the cage, with Mistico the recipient of a hell of a monkey flip on the entrance ramp. Volador climbs inside and closes the door, blocking Mistico from getting in (and theoretically, making him at risk of losing the mask, if everyone else but Volador escapes before Mistico can get in… yeah, it’s a flimsy excuse!) Mistico apparently doesn’t see the closed door, and tries to jump through the ropes, only to splat against the outside of the cage and drop to the arena floor. That looked dumb and nasty.
After the briefest of sells, Mistico climbs the cage, but is blocked by Psicosis, who eventually gets kicked from the top of the cage and back into the ring, allowing Mistico to deliver a mega cross body onto Volador and La Sombra from the top. At at 9:19 in the video, we finally have everyone in the cage!
As a caged battle royal, we see the same exchanges over and over again, with guys trying to escape, only for it to be repeatedly broken up. It’s impossible to keep a track of, and for some reason as Alebrije tries to climb to escape the cage, a referee admonishes him from the outside. Not quite sure what that’s all about, but as you’d expect from the scenario, there’s too many bodies involved to keep any sort of track of things. Pretty much straight after Alebrije’s telling off, we get a countdown and a fake explosion sound effect (again, no idea why!).
Ultimo Guerrero nearly escapes, but is pulled from the outside back into the cage, as Mistico and La Sombra try to take advantage of the distraction, but we finally see Mephisto, Averno and Ephesto escape the cage almost at the same time. Histeria and el Alebrije follow quickly, but Mistico isn’t so lucky as his exit is cut off after hitting Psicosis with La Mistica. Mr Niebla, Ultimo Guerrero and Jushin Liger manage to leave the cage, as the match descends into confusion as Alebrije hangs around before departing ringside. Amongst the chaos we see Mistico hitting a Spanish Fly off the top rope, and before long we’re left with our final four of Mistico, Psicosis, Olimpico and La Sombra, as Volador takes a controlled fall from the top of the cage to the floor. Mistico was visibly unhappy at not having the opportunity to unmask his foe, and chose to exit the cage in order to continue battling Volador in the ringside area.
Back in the ring, Olimpico and Psicosis double team La Sombra so as to let Mistico and Volador keep some of the spotlight. For whatever reason, Olimpico and Psicosis both choose to leave the cage at the same time, but Psicosis was ruled to have left the cage first, which means we now move into a singles match in a cage, with Olimpico and the beaten down Sombra fighting (not quite) to the death for to keep their mask.
After twenty-plus minutes of a cage match, they understandably start off at a slow pace, and Sombra almost snuck out a win with an inside cradle, but an extremely slow two-count allowed Olimpico to kick out. A Tiger Driver gets another near fall for Olimpico as the pair trade increasingly slowed-down near falls, with the final match giving an awkward, anticlimactic feel to it. Sombra nails a 450 splash, but Olimpico gets his foot on the rope at two, with Olimpico getting a similar two count after blocking a flying huracanrana attempt and turning it into a powerbomb. Sombra finally got the win when a wheelbarrow suplex was blocked and turned into an inside cradle for the three count. Cue pyro, confetti and steam, and the unmasking of Olimpico, who would retain the name (but obviously, not his mask).
As a spectacle, it was quite something to see, but unfortunately there were simply too many bodies involved at the start to be able to keep track of things. Infinitely better than the clipped-down AAA ladder match though!
Rocky Romero vs. Will Ospreay (Revolution Pro Wrestling TV #2 – February 22, 2016, viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqNnUIl3SKg; match starts at around 14:00)
Heading closer to home here, after two matches from Mexico, with a match that could well be on New Japan cards later this year, as Rocky Romero (then at the end of his Forever Hooligan team with Alex Koslov) was imported to London to challenge for Ospreay’s RPW Cruiserweight title.
The pair shake hands at the bell, as the crowd cycles between variations of “Ospreay” chants, whilst one of the commentators tries to put over Will in spite of his defeat to AJ Styles at a prior event. We start the match with some ground wrestling, with the pair seeming on an even level. Unfortunately (for my tastes) there’s plenty of shots of the crowd watching intently, arms folded, with the odd shout coming in from the audience. That intimacy, for better or for worse, is the difference between 17,000-capacity Arena Mexico, and the 400-capacity Cockpit Theatre!
A test of strength ensues, but Ospreay gets the upper hand with a rolling suplex followed by a back suplex, albeit for a one count. Romero catches Ospreay in an armbar, which forces the youngster to the outside to break the hold, but Romero doesn’t let up, following him to the floor. Ospreay’s attempt at the Sami Zayn diving-across-the-turnbuckle DDT is blocked, and Romero takes him back inside to work on the left arm of the Essex youngster. The veteran Romero outsmarts Ospreay and catches him in the ropes before landing a rebounding Jericho-like dropkick, as the commentary team tease a possible referee stoppage.
Ospreay and Romero end a rope-running sequence as they collide with each other in mid-ring, forcing the referee to start a ten-count (and give the crowd a chance to start the annoying “let’s try and confuse the ref by counting ahead” gimmick, that thankfully hasn’t spread outside of Britain). Upon answering the ref’s ten count, Ospreay mounts a comeback with a bad-arm clothesline, followed up with a handspring-off-the-ropes into a high roundhouse kick, before nailing a standing moonsault for a two count. Popping up from the near fall, Romero sees an attempted Sliced Bread #2 blocked, as Ospreay hits an implant reverse DDT for another near fall.
Romero finally hits the Sliced Bread #2 after a shotei and a chop for another two-count, before seeing an attempted arm-bar rolled through as Ospreay sneaks a near fall. The squeaky ring gets increasingly audible as Romero locks in another armbar, but Ospreay gets out of it, counters a German suplex attempt and gets another two-count from a standing shooting star press. The duo trade kicks, slaps and forearms, ending with Ospreay levelling Romero with a kick to the head as he blocked an Irish whip attempt by holding himself inbetween the top two ropes. We get to the finish with Ospreay connecting with the Lethal Injection/Springboard Stunner, followed up by a Shooting Star Press off the top rope for the win.
A good television match between the two, if not spectacular, but definitely worth going out of your way to see.
Mikaze vs. Nick Fahrenheit vs. Brian Fury vs. Mercedes KV (Beyond Wrestling: Off The Grid Day 1 – February 18, 2012, viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUXfTdZajwM)
We end this random set of reviews with a show from Massachusetts-based Beyond Wrestling, and an intergender four-way elimination match featuring the future Sasha Banks. Billed as a studio taping, Beyond filmed in front of what appeared to be the rest of the training class, with Fahrenheit leading a chant of “testicles”, prompting Mercedes to return fire with “vagina”. That leads to a few more chants which are unfortunate considering that Mercedes and Mikaze are now a couple!
Mercedes starts the match by responding to Fahrenheit’s offer of “one feel” with a spear and a spot of ground punching. Mercedes takes Fahrenheit to the corner to chop him, as Mikaze tries to interject, only to be taken down with a rope-assisted armdrag from Mercedes. We’re left with Mercedes and Brian Fury standing in the ring, but Fury doesn’t stay standing for long, as a flying headscissors sends him out to the floor.
An unfortunate camera angle change shows the “hard camera” as some guy on a ladder with a digital camcorder, as Mercedes hits a tope through the ropes and into the three guys on the floor. Mercedes hits an awkward looking wheelbarrow facebuster on Mikaze for a two count, as she knocks Fury off the apron and back to the floor with a kick, only to turn around into spinning kick from Mikaze to take the fall.
Fahrenheit runs in to lay out Mikaze with a clothesline as the crowd voice their displeasure at Mercedes’ exit, and Mikaze ends up being forearmed from the apron and is sent into something you wouldn’t normally see at any other wrestling show – a supporting column of bricks! Fury catches Fahrenheit off-guard with a dropkick to the back of the head, but doesn’t manage to execute a stalling suplex properly, as Fahrenheit drops to his feet, giving Mikaze something of a platform to land a very uncomfortable top rope double foot-stomp on.
Mikaze lifts up Fahrenheit for what looks to be a running Alabama Slam, but Fahrenheit manages to block it and turn it into something resembling a Canadian Destroyer to get the pinfall and eliminate Mikaze. Back in the ring, Fahrenheit sends Fury to the mat with a low dropkick, but slips up with a leapfrog attempt (where he somehow forgot to turn into the ropes), instead rebounding into a superkick by Fury for a near fall.
Fahrenheit tries to take down Fury with a top rope huracanrana, but Fury rolls through and connects with a sitout powerbomb, then continues to roll into a Boston crab for the victory via tap-out.
Considering that this was a training school match, it wasn’t that bad. That being said, it was eminently clear that all four of these wrestlers had a long way to go, even though it was obvious who Beyond Wrestling were trying to put over in defeat. Given that Mercedes KV signed for WWE barely six months after this match, it clearly paid off for the future Sasha Banks!