It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but it’s time for some free wrestling goodness from the wide world of YouTube.
Amber Gallows & Deonna Purazzo vs. Mandy Leon & Solo Darling (ROH Supercard of Honor, April 1, 2016 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPYUI-u7i5k)
We start with the most recent match from this series – a women’s tag team match from ROH’s WrestleMania weekend shows. Deonna is to women’s wrestling as Tommaso Ciampa almost is to the men, having appeared on some form of televised broadcasts for WWE, ROH and TNA already in 2016. Gallows, wife of the recently-returned-to-WWE Luke Gallows, doesn’t have her NWA Women’s title that she had in the last ROH match we saw her in, whilst Solo Darling still has the gimmick of being the “Sugar Princess”, complete with that stupid tail.
These two teams just seem like they’ve been plucked from a hat, but we’ll go with it. Taeler Hendrix is doing commentary at ringside, but seemingly is only there so Kevin Kelly can be made fun of. The more things change, I guess!
Purazzo and Leon start off with the basics, as Purazzo escapes the headscissors on the ground, but Leon grounds her opponent with an arm drag before Darling gets the tag in, and largely works a series of kicks to Purazzo and Gallows, who then goes to throw the “Sugar Princess” out, only for her to get caught on the bottom rope. That can’t have felt great.
All four women fight on the floor, with Purazzo yanking Leon onto the apron as she tried to make her way back into the ring, whilst Solo gets whipped hard into the guard railing. It’s at that point Solo seems to have a wardrobe malfunction, as she spends the remainder of the match pulling down her ring gear to cover some tights/stockings that tore away. Purazzo and Gallows start to work as the defacto heels, cornering Darling with quick tags in and out, and taunting Leon on the apron as they cut the ring in half.
Gallows hits the A-Factor (facebuster) on Darling, but takes her time in making the cover, and Darling rolls her up in a crucifix-like pin for a near-fall. Gallows grabs Darling’s squirrel tail to stop her from making the tag, but she finally gets Leon into the match, who clears the ring with clotheslines and back elbows. Leon drilled Purazzo with a wheelbarrow facebuster, but couldn’t get the cover since Purazzo wasn’t legal; and that led to Leon eating a superkick from Gallows for another near fall.
A double superkick on Leon forces Darling to break up the count, before Leon hits a Stone Cold Stunner on Purazzo to astonishingly little reaction. Solo Darling gets tagged in and has a sip of her sugary drink to hulk up, taking down both opponents with a the worst Thesz press/punches combination I think I’ve ever seen. The end comes when Leon catches Gallows in a move apparently called the Havana Dreams (loosely based on a Gory Stretch) whilst Darling trapped Purazzo in a guillotine for the win by submission.
A decent, but brief match, nothing special but nothing wrong with it either. **
AR Fox vs. Ace Romero (Limitless Wrestling, “Under Fire”, January 30, 2016 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoJIN0VhKAU)
Well, AR Fox has had a bit of a lull in the past year, having gone from being a staple of EVOLVE to the wilderness of random indy bookings, after having left EVOLVE due to “miscommunications over bookings”. He’s now signed with Lucha Underground, so at least there’s that.
Here though, Fox is in the opening match of a show in Orono, ME, that also featured Chris Hero and Zack Sabre Jr. Fox’s opponent is a relative newcomer who is almost twice his size, in the form of Ace Romero, a 300-plus pounder who kinda resembles Brodus Clay. This could be good, or it could be a trainwreck… well, at least Steve “Turtle” Weiner on commentary sounds a little bit like Gilbert Gottfried, so that’ll be funny.
At the bell Fox jumps Romero with a Yakuza kick into the corner, but since he’s not Sami Zayn, that’s not a finisher. Romero misses with a clothesline, as Fox drops down and kips up with an enziguiri, before pulling the rope down as Romero charged at him. So far, the start to pretty much any big man vs. little man match that isn’t a squash.
Fox wipes out Romero with a baseball slide/dropkick through the middle rope, before crashing down with the Lo Mein Rain (springboard senton to the floor). Romero gets to his feet and promptly knees him in the midsection, before following up with some chops/slaps to the chest.
Fox unwisely tries to counter with a hurracanrana off the top, but he gets caught and powerbombed onto the ring apron by Romero, who then followed up with a running back senton off the apron to the floor, landing mostly on Fox’s face. Back in the ring, Romero uses his size advantage to dominate Fox with a suplex, followed by a whip into the turnbuckle. Romero sees an attempt for a suplerplex come to nought as Fox jumps away and takes him down with a springboard dropkick from the apron, sending Romero to the floor and in perfect position for a tope con hilo across the turnbuckles from Fox to the floor.
Back in the ring again, Fox goes up top with a senton bomb that gets him a near fall, before rolling onto his feet after aborting an attempt at a 450 Splash. Fox turns around and is planted with a Bossman Slam for a near fall from Romero, but Fox fights back with kicks to the ribs, and a springboard Ace Crusher, before finally making the 450 Splash… but Romero kicks out!
Romero and Fox end up on the apron, where the big guy drills Fox with a death valley driver onto the apron, earning a half-hearted “this is awesome” chant. Despite taking the move, Fox makes it back to the ring first, where he greets Romero with a small package, but Romero kicks out and drills Fox with a lariat for the win.
Again, not a bad match, but I wasn’t keen on the structure – you start off with a springboard backwards senton to the floor, hit a 450 Splash and take a senton off the apron to your face… but you lose to a lariat? A good spectacle, but a classic example of a curtain jerker setting the bar far too high on an indy show **½
Chris Ridgeway vs. Will Ospreay (Shropshire Wrestling Alliance, “Summer Blowout”, July 25, 2015 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwkCGdE60AI)
Oh God, not only has the PROGRESS “one fall!” gimmick made it to Telford, England, the ring announcer for this SWA group is embracing it. For the sake of it, the SWA has since merged into another local group, VII Pro Wrestling – pronounced “Seven”, similar to the River Severn (not Dan “The Beast”) which is near to their Telford base.
Chris Ridgeway’s nickname is “the Priority”, and to be fair, on looks he could probably fit in to EVOLVE and quite a few US indies – generic tattoo’s, beard… and yes, it is extremely weird watching Will Ospreay in a community centre in England after seeing him in Sumo Hall in Tokyo for New Japan.
We start with some stalling, with Ridgeway going to the back in response to Ospreay being cheered, and the match finally starts with Ridgeway and Ospreay exchanging headlocks. Ospreay stays on top with some basic moves, with the added flip here and there for showmanship.
Ospreay’s first miscue comes when he goes for the handspring off the ropes into a twisting body press, only to land on the knees of Ridgeway, who has the move scouted. Ridgeway pounds on Ospreay in the corner with a European uppercut, then snapmares him down for a pin, only getting a one-count in the process. A back elbow sends Ospreay to the floor, where he’s joined by Ridgeway for a chop battle on the outside – including a chop which Ospreay ducked, as Ridgeway hit the post, making zero sound in the process!
Ospreay rips a page out of Marty Scurll’s book by snapping the fingers, before rolling Ridgeway back inside… Ospreay then chose to return with a springboard dropkick, but is met by a dropkick from his opponent as they crash to the mat. Ridgeway stays on top with a floatover suplex for a near-fall, before locking in the chinlock once more. After a Rainmaker-like kick, Ridgeway scored another near fall, then transitioned into a rear-naked choke with a bodyscissors.
Following a clash as both men went for a cross-body block at the same time, Ospreay started to fire back, catching Ridgeway on the outside with a tope con hilo, before scoring a near-fall from a tornado DDT as he re-entered the ring. A reversed Bloody Sunday (lifting reverse DDT) got another two-count, but he missed a 450 Splash and turned into a jumping lungblower from Ridgeway, and an Angle Slam for a two-count.
Another Ospreay sequence ends with him springboarding off the rope and into a bicycle kick from Ridgeway, sending the well-travelled Will into the corner, but he was still able to roll out and drill Ridgeway with a jumping Ace Crusher… but Ridgeway headstands out to avoid the impact, and rebounds off the ropes with a stiff kick. Ridgeway dumps Ospreay on his neck with a bridging German suplex for a near fall.
We then go back into the high risk district as Ridgeway tries to superplex Ospreay from the top to the floor, but Will battles out, only to get caught playing to the crowd and is brought back in with an Angle Slam off the top rope for (you got it) a two-count. More trading forearms follow, and Osprey gets folded in half with a release German suplex, but Will fires back with a Canadian Destroyer/Blockbuster-like move, before scoring the win with a corkscrew 450 Splash!
Good match – it did feel at times like it was a little “Ospreay by numbers”, but Ridgeway more than held his own here, and added to the match with some good near falls against a guy that nobody would have expected him to win against. ***3/4
Satoshi Kojima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (All Japan Pro Wrestling, Battle Banquet, July 18, 2004 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhLiiNW7tqA)
We end this round up with a match that would have been a really nice birthday present for me (had I known about it!), with a hard hitting clash between two of Japan’s biggest historical names. Kojima was in All Japan, having left New Japan two years earlier in protest at the company’s direction, whilst Misawa returned for a one-off show, having left four years earlier to form Pro Wrestling NOAH.
For this dream match, there’s an awful lot of streamers thrown into the ring, and don’t worry, I’m not going to do this move-for-move – especially as this match goes pretty close to half an hour in length!
The first thing that’s jarring to me is the isometric camera angle for the hard camera – it’s like a real live version of Fire Pro – and they opened with a nice sequence where Kojima blasted Misawa with forearm shots, only to be knocked loopy by a single one from Misawa. After working a headlock for a while, Misawa blasted back with forearms, before being caught in a wristlock, then a sleeperhold. Our first “aah” moment came when Kojima ducked an elbow smash, and dumped Misawa on his neck with a release German suplex. Misawa just popped back up, so Kojima did it again, with a slightly worse landing. Knowing how Misawa’s life would end, those sort of bumps are tough to watch.
After a Tiger Driver, Kojima follows Misawa to the floor with a plancha, then a cannonball that also took out the cameraman, before drilling Misawa with a Koji Cutter oft the apron as the pace slowly built up. “Aah” moment number two followed as Kojima went to powerbomb Misawa on the exposed concrete floor, but Misawa countered with a hurracanrana, sending Kojima into the guard railings. Back in the ring, Misawa took control, getting a near fall with a frog splash (or a “body press” as called on commentary) for a two-count, before attempting – and failing – a Tiger Driver.
Following on, Misawa no-sells a few Koji Cutters, while Kojima takes a German suplex, then a Tiger suplex – both times landing much better than Misawa’s earlier release Germans – and finally connecting with a Tiger Driver for a two-count. Misawa tries to fake a dive, but ends up taking a weird bump off the ropes while trying a handstand. Back in the ring, Misawa switches out as he’s suplexed back in, and then greets Kojima with a vicious elbow to the face.
Misawa blocks a Kojima lariat and locks in an armbar, which eventually gets a rope break as Kojima rolls to the floor, but he has little respite as Misawa dives out with an elbow suicida, before killing Kojima with a Tiger Driver off the apron and onto the floor… a move that got another near-fall for Misawa once both men made it back inside.
The match screamed to a crescendo when Misawa missed a roaring elbow, before taking two lariats from Kojima for a near fall. An Emerald Fusion from Misawa gained another two-count, as Kojima got near falls from two more lariats. In the end though, Misawa got the win with the Tiger Driver ‘91 – as he came back to All Japan and conquered.
Great match, and one that stands up almost twelve years later. Sure, there were some spots that would be annoying if, say, it were the Young Bucks, but everything in this made sense. ****
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.