A look at another staple of WrestleMania weekends, as HighSpots’ Mark Hitchcock Memorial Supershow gave us a smorgasbord of the indies.
Blake Christian pinned Michael Oku in 18:21 (***¾)
KENTA & Bryan Keith pinned Tom Lawlor & Christopher Daniels in 23:43 (***)
Ultimo Dragon submitted Negro Casas in 11:11 (***)
Galeno Del Mal, Aramis & Rey Horus pinned Latigo, Arez & Laredo Kid in 14:03 (***½)
Mizuki, Hyper Misao, Shoko Nakajima, Yuki Aino & Yuki Kamifuku pinned Raku, Hikari Noa, Miu Watanabe, Nao Kakuta & Rika Tatsumi in 14:21 (***)
Shigehiro Irie defeats Mike Bailey via referee stoppage 7:57 (***¼)
Kyle Fletcher, Jeff Cobb & Mark Davis pinned Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA in 16:35 (***¼)
El Hijo del Vikingo pinned Black Taurus & Komander in 12:42 to retain the AAA Mega Championship (****½)
We’re at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles for this one, which has been split into two parts at time of watching thanks to an issue with the live stream… and let’s try something different for parts of this, eh? Ian Riccaboni and Veda Scott are on commentary.
Blake Christian vs. Michael Oku
A relatively late change to the card saw Oku take on Blake Christian – who was subbing for Rocky Romero…
Blake’s handshake isn’t a snide one as we got going at quite a clip, with Oku’s early attempt at a half crab being blocked as we hit the double-dropkick stand-off. Another handshake’s super telegraphed as Blake has his fingers crossed, leading to a wristlock takedown before Oku’s ‘rana and dropkick had Christian on the deck. Oku goes for a half crab again, but it’s pushed off as Christian ends up spearing him on the apron. Christian maintains control for a spell, hitting a nice standing imploding senton, before a Quebrada took out Oku for a near-fall. A froggy crossbody from Oku helped forge a way back in, as a DDT nearly wins it for Oku, who misses a springboard moonsault and got tripped into the ropes for a Tiger Feint kick.
Christian keeps going with a handspring enziguiri, then an Alabama Slam that turned into a slingshot into the corner. A Saito suplex out of the corner gets a near-fall for Christian, who then missed a springboard crossbody, landing just in place for one from Oku for a near-fall. That took Christian outside for a Fosbury flop, but Blake returns the favour, adding a Final Cut to the mix for good measure. The pair get back up onto the apron, trading blows until Oku got German suplexed onto the edge of the ring. A second one followed, before Oku avoided a springboard 450 and rolled in for a half crab. Christian’s quickly in the ropes, but was able to come back quickly with a rope-walk back suplex, then a springboard 450 for the win. ***¾
Bryan Keith & KENTA vs. Tom Lawlor & Christopher Daniels
Daniels was the third partner for Lawlor, after injury and a cancellation… and for some reason we need a special guest enforcer? Ken Shamrock’s in the role, so expect shenanigans.
Keith and Daniels start us off with the typical side headlock and shoulder tackles series, before Keith’s big boot and an Exploder put Daniels into the corner. Lawlor tags in and takes over on Keith with a suplex, but the “Bounty Hunter” avoided an enziguiri as he finally tagged out to KENTA. Daniels tags himself in as he wanted to face KENTA, but KENTA wanted to antagonise Lawlor some more before Daniels began to target KENTA’s shoulder. Keith’s back with chops to Daniels, as things began to break down with Tom Lawlor cheapshotting Keith on the apron. There’s a trip too from Tom, who tags in to wear down Keith with the help of Daniels as those two exchanged frequent tags.
Some screw-ups allowed Keith to break free, before KENTA tagged in and began to kick away on Daniels. Lawlor looked to bail, as a Fisherman suplex drew a two-count for KENTA… Lawlor dives in to break up a cover, before tags bring us back to KENTA and Lawlor with strikes. The Green Killer DDT keeps KENTA ahead, but Daniels makes the save on a Go 2 Sleep, only for KENTA to go for Game Over… except Lawlor switches into an ankle lock. KENTA switches back into Game Over, but Christopher Daniels attacks the referee… meaning Lawlor’s tap-out is for nought. Of course, this builds up to Ken Shamrock, but he refuses to count after Lawlor had low blowed Bryan Keith. Shamrock lays out an argumentative Daniels, then squared up to Lawlor, with a shoving match ending in KENTA capitalising with a roll-up. A little wonky throughout, and way too long for my money as the mish-mash partners didn’t really mesh well. ***
Negro Casas vs. Ultimo Dragon
Now for something a little bit different… and a video message from Chris Jericho for both wrestlers in the match.
It’s been nearly a decade since their last singles match, and things started off in earnest as the pair stayed at close quarters, trading headscissors and escapes on the mat until they reached a stand-off. A Romero special from Dragon ends with Casas slipping free, before the pair turned up the pace, relatively speaking, going for leg sweeps and pinning attempts. Dragon tees up for a Figure Four, but Casas able to get to the ropes before the hold’s fully applied, before a trip up top ended with Dragon dropkicking him down to the floor. Heading outside, an Asai moonsault’s teased, but Casas pulled him away as we ended up getting a superplex back inside on Casas, before a Dragon sleeper forced the submission. ***
Arez, Laredo Kid & Latigo vs. Aramis, Galeno Del Mal & Rey Horus
There’s a fairly long list of famous trios matches over ‘Mania weekends… this one’s got a lot to live up to.
A middle finger from Latigo sparks things off as he and Aramis went at quite a clip… ending with another bird from Latigo. Arez and Rey Horus traded next, leading to a middle finger from Arez as I felt like they were having to keep a lot in the ring, given how tight ringside was at the Globe. Arez accidentally nailed Galeno del Mal, who tagged in right as Arez bailed. Galeno’s a little bigger than your usual lucha guy, but he’s easily pulled down in the rudo corner as things got a little flippy… leading to Laredo Kid hitting a tope into the big guy. Rey Horus eats a pop-up powerbomb/neckbreaker, then a frog splash for a near-fall, before Aramis ate a loud chop in the corner.
Aramis remains on the defensive, taping Arez’s wall-flip moonsault as Galeno del Mal came in and took a kicking. Galeno takes a triple-team press slam out of the corner for a near-fall… but he returns with a massive crossbody off the top into the rudos before he assisted Aramis’ dive to the outside. Rey Horus gets back body dropped to the floor too, before Galeno added a flip senton into the mix, landing on his feet too! Back inside, the pace doesn’t slow as Arez went for Galeno’s mask, before a series of strikes drew in Aramis to try and stop things. A big Air Raid Crash nearly puts away Arez, as we begin a Parade of Moves… before Laredo Kid came in with a chair to Galedo. That’s apparently not a DQ, so we continue with Latigo getting caught up top by Galeno, who hits a spin-out butterfly superplex for the pin. This was spectacular stuff, with Galeno standing out for his size – more like this, please! ***½
Hikari Noa, Miu Watanabe, Nao Kakuta, Raku & Rika Tatsumi vs. Hyper Misao, Mizuki, Shoko Nakajima, Yuki Aino & Yuki Kamifuku
This was an offer match from Tokyo Joshi Pro, complete with Sayuri Namba doing ring announcing to keep it authentic. There’s a lot of names I haven’t seen much of, so this may be one of those “speaking in generalisms” matches…
Hyper Misao gets carried away with her pre-match stuff, so was oblivious to her partners getting thrown outside as Misao got beaten on 5-on-1. Things pick up as Misao’s able to tag in Kamifuku, but commentary’s not doing much to identify who’s tagging in so I’m literally having to go from memory here. Tatsumi’s in for a hip attack before Noa and Kakuta – who team regularly under the fantastic name of Free WiFi – combine. Watanabe’s in next with shoulder tackles on Aino, who eventually took Miu down. In comes Shoko Nakajima with a dropkick to Watanabe, following up with bodyscissors and a Tiger Feint kick to Miu.
Miu counters out of a Northern Lights suplex, but couldn’t avoid a spinning forearm as Mizuki tagged in… and got thrown back into Shoko as Watanabe hit a stacked-up bodyslam. A double Giant Swing followed from Miu as we get back to Misao clearing house, landing a crossbody for a near-fall. A hammerlock’d chicken wing from Misao almost forces Kakuta to submit, but she makes the ropes. Kamifuku’s back with an Octopus stretch, then a front kick before a suplex left Kakuta down. A Famouser misses as Kakuta hits a hammerlock’d Flatliner, before Aino fell to a series of dropkicks.
Aino teed up for a dive, but she’s kicked away as Noa went up top… she’s caught and brought back in with a gutwrench superplex. Mizuki’s back with a dropkick through the ropes to Tatsumi… but Tatsumi wraps Mizuki’s legs around the post seconds later ahead of a low dropkick. Miu’s back with an inverted Alabama Slam before a powerbomb/neckbreaker was escaped…
Mizuki’s whirling candy spinning crossbody gets rid of Watanabe as things start to break down… Raku tries to make the ropes to avoid a crossface, but she’s rolled back into the middle of the ring as we just keep going. This match has long since lost me, as we’re moving into dives into the crowd here, before a strait-jacket backslide almost won it for Raku, but in the end Mizuki wins with a stomp off the top to Raku. As a match this was fine, but the presentation of it was horrific – a ten woman tag with the vast majority of names unknown to the wider audience relies on commentary to join the dots for fans, and a lot of that simply wasn’t happening. ***
Mike Bailey vs. Shigehiro Irie
Well, this was the match I’d circled on weekend line-ups as one to watch… the winners of 2023’s Battle of Los Angeles vs. 16 Carat Gold.
Unfortunately, the feed drops out almost at the bell, as we pick up with Bailey and Irie trading elbow strikes, before a Beast Bomber lariat from Irie spun Speedball inside out. Irie takes Bailey up top for a Samoan drop off the middle rope, before a follow-up piledriver’s back body dropped away as Speedball added the moonsault knees. Bailey’s buzzsaw kick gets a two-count on Irie, before Irie slid away from the Ultima Weapon… then whacked Bailey with another Beast Bomber. That’s good for a near-fall as Bailey returned with a moonsault fallaway slam for a two-count of his own. From there, Irie traps Bailey in the ropes for a cannonball to the back, then one more Beast Bomber… which still isn’t enough!
A rear naked choke’s next from Irie, who spun back down to the mat as Bailey got back up, before hammer elbows – which Irie’s dubbed the 16 Carat Gold elbows – forced the stoppage. This was good, what I saw of it, but I’d love to see them run this back when it’s not part of Speedball’s dozen matches in a weekend! ***¼
United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Time Machine (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA)
This match would be right at home on whatever NJPW Strong is these days… and we’ve got Hiroshi Tanahashi randomly dropping by on commentary. Hopefully with his front teeth!
Fletcher and KUSHIDA start us off, with KUSHIDA taking the early advantage as he pulled Kyle into a seated surfboard a la Liger. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin come in to triple-team Mark Davis as the Empire lads were on the back foot, before Davis’ slam and back senton was the cue for Jeff Cobb to come in. Sabin’s able to take down Cobb with a springboard crossbody, but fared less well at close quarters as standing backbreakers turned it around for Cobb. A marching stalling suplex around the ring turns into a charge into the corner from Cobb, before Sabin avoided Aussie Open and tagged in Alex Shelley to try and make some inroads.
Shelley and Sabin get charged into each other by Aussie Open to end that particular spell, as Cobb resumed on Alex Shelley, doing a spot of surfing. Tags bring us to KUSHIDA, who bounces off Davis with a handspring back elbow, while a hiptoss and cartwheel dropkick took Dunkzilla into the corner. KUSHIDA and Sabin combine for a wheelbarrow DDT and cross armbar on Davis, as the United Empire got restrained with submissions…
It doesn’t yield the submission though, as tags bring us to Fletcher and Shelley, but Aussie Open run wild with a Dental Plan to Shelley, a lawndarted cutter to Sabin, before a Spin Cycle from Cobb drew a near-fall. Sabin and KUSHIDA break up a Coriolis as Time Machine triple-team Kyle some more with a Dream Sequence. Sabin dives into Aussie Open in the crowd as Fletcher remained isolated, but things turn into a Parade of Moves as all six men hit the ring. It ends with a teased ref bump, that allowed Aussie Open to push on with the Coriolis to Sabin… and that’s your lot! A pretty solid trios match, with commentary weaving in New Japan stuff as they surmised this could lead to a Strong tag title rematch. If only, eh? ***¼
AAA Mega Championship: Black Taurus vs. Komander vs. El Hijo del Vikingo (c)
Vikingo’s finally begun to crack the US scene after getting that visa – and that match with Kenny Omega a week or so ago didn’t hurt much either! Komander’s due a one-on-one shot with Vikingo at Supercard of Honor, so he’s rope-walked his way into quite a bit of fortune.
Taurus has the obvious size advantage here, but he’s able to do the flips too as he wrecked Komander and Vikingo early on, clotheslining Vikingo outside before press slamming Vikingo onto him. Throwing both men back inside, Taurus chooses not to isolate anyone as he cracks on, chokeslamming Vikingo onto Komander mid-reverse DDT before Taurus cracked some heads together. Eventually Taurus is dragged outside as he’s double-teamed into the crowd ahead of a pair of topes into the second row. We’ve got some stereo rope-walking as Komander and Vikingo start on the turnbuckle then join each other in the middle for a moonsault… bloody hell lads. Back inside, the flips keep going as Vikingo’s 450 stomp and Komander’s rope-walk shooting star press almost got the win… until Vikingo stopped the ref from making a count.
Taurus is sent outside as Komander and Vikingo set their sights on each other, with Vikingo’s triple-jump springboard tijeras taking Komander into the corner… before he caught Komander’s crossbody and turned it into a running slam into the middle buckle. Taurus is back, but can’t catch Vikingo, who went back up top for the imploding Dragonrana… JESUS CHRIST FELLAS. Another trip up top has Vikingo leap off the ring post, then rebound off the ropes for an armdrag, before Komander took to the ropes for a rope-walk multi-springboard ‘rana. Komander adds a torture rack into a spin-out backbreaker beforee more rope-walking from Komander saw him go across the ring for a Dragonrana to Taurus in the crowd.
Vikingo capitalises with a springboard one-legged corkscrew moonsault into the pile, before returning to the ring for a shooting star… that lands on Komander’s knees. A tiltawhirl backbreaker from Komander feels pretty vanilla among all this, unlike a tiltawhirl Cipher UTAKI before Taurus added a backbreaker of his own to Komander. Komander eats a big pop-up Samoan drop afterwards, but Vikingo catches Taurus in the corner for an elevated German suplex. It’s only good for a one-count, as Taurus ends up eating some knees in the corner for a near-fall. There’s a clobbering lariat to the back of Vikingo’s head from Taurus before the pair head up top for a press slam off the top from Taurus. Komander leaps in for a springboard reverse ‘rana to Taurus, only to get met with a snap crucifix bomb from Vikingo! A crucifix driver follows on Taurus, who spears back as we finally get a goddamn breather!
Heading out to the apron, Komander’s smashed onto the side of the ring with a Ki Krusher by Taurus, before a 630 splash from Vikingo wipes the pair of them out on the floor. Taurus is rolled back in, but avoids a 630 splash again, before a tope keeps Komander outside. Vikingo goes back to Taurus, this time scoring the 630… and mercifully for my typing, that’s all! A freaking gust of fresh air among a lot of samey matches this weekend, this match will rightfully be high up on those match-of-the-weekend lists at the very least. ****½
Oh my word, that Vikingo/Komander/Taurus main event sent everyone home buzzing, right? The main issue with these smorgasbord shows is that it can be super hard to parse with what’s going on elsewhere – but at least commentary made a fist of it, although that Tokyo Joshi Pro match disappointed given just how many names and faces they tried to put over in a relatively short spell.