Category Archives: February 2014

February Wrap Up

The 5 Count
Five Takeaways from February

1.  Antonio Cesaro opened eyes within the WWE in February as he was placed in a semi-featured role due to his participation in the Elimination Chamber match and on the live NXT Arrival special.  As you will see below, he is heading to the pay window more than once this month.  If rumors of a big post-WrestleMania push are true, Cesaro might be getting the platform needed to put up a strong WOTY resume.

2.  Tag Team wrestling is not off to a very strong start in 2014.  For the second straight month, the best tag matches clearly lack behind the best singles and trios offerings.

3.  The WWE Network launched which is noteworthy in a blog about 2014 matches for a couple of reasons.  First of all, in February we got the first live special on the Network (NXT Arrival), first-run offerings of NXT, Main Event, and Superstars which were previously only available via less-convenient means, and for the time being, live airings of Main Event.  Like everyone else, I’ve also gone back and watched A LOT of historical stuff already (which we plan to use this site to write about as well) which gives you a little different perspective while sifting through 2014 matches.

4.  In a move that could be interpreted as pure stubbornness, the WWE spent the month of February continuing to build towards a Randy Orton/Batista World Championship match at WrestleMania that few people want to see.  The way they have handled the decision through acknowledging that the fans don’t like Batista, turning him heel, and running a heel versus heel WM title match has been downright odd.

5.  Multi-wrestler matches continue to be highlights of pro wrestling programming all over the world!  In February, there were good trios matches from CMLL, AAA and New Japan, plus the much anticipated showdown between the Shield and Wyatt Family at WWE’s Elimination Chamber.  There were also several strong multi-wrestler matches including the Elimination Chamber match itself, an IWRG cibernetico, and some WWE c-show eight and ten man tags.

The Pay Window
February’s Winners

Singles MatchKazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto (NJPW – 2/11)

Also Watch: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NJPW – 2/9); Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW – 2/11); Antonio Cesaro vs. John Cena (WWE – 2/17); Super Shisa vs. CIMA (Dragon Gate – 2/20); HARASHIMA vs. Masa Takanashi (DDT – 2/23); Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (WWE NXT – 2/27)

On first watch, Okada vs. Goto stood out to me on the 2/11 NJPW show from Osaka as being superior to the perhaps more-hyped Ishii vs. Naito match that proceeded it.  Goto and Okada worked a tight, well-layed out main even match that would not have appeared out of place taking place in a WWE ring or anywhere in the world for that matter.  I tend to enjoy that type of match a bit more then a a near fall heavy match like Ishii & Naito put on, although that one is still worth watching.

The WWE’s two best singles outputs in February involved Antonio Cesaro, both of which were long, featured television matches.  The Cena match from RAW gets a little higher marks for me.

CIMA and Super Shisa continue to put on fun rope-break rules matches and while their February outing might be a notch below their February match listed here, it is still worth seeing.  The DDT match was unexpectedly great and look forward to seeing if it holds up.

Tag MatchReal Americans vs. Sheamus & Christian (WWE – 2/10)

Also Watch:  Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (02/09); (02/14) Soberano Jr. & Volador Jr. vs. Cavernario & Mr. Niebla (CMLL – 2/14)

Another barren month of tag matches or am I just not watching the right matches?

A Real Americans match once again takes the top spot via default, really.  Their RAW match versus Sheamus & Christian as a prelude into the Elimination Chamber main event was the kind of good, hard-hitting slug fest that is not very common in the WWE.  The finals of CMLL’s Gran Alternativa tournament were fun but nothing blow away.  Same with the New Japan tag that was a good setup match for Okada/Goto and Okada/Shibata but in a strong month wouldn’t have registered as a top tag match.

Elsewhere, the once red-hot WWE tag division has slowed down with the New Age Outlaws holding the titles and the brother duo of Cody Rhodes & Goldust marginalized recently.  I thought the Rhodes vs. NAO and Usos vs. NAO matches from February were alright, but nothing beyond that.

Part of the lack of quality tag matches recently does seem to be at least partially attributable to all of the trios and multi-man tags from all over the world this year.

Trios MatchWyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) vs. the Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns) (WWE – 2/23)

Also Watch: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito & Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW – 2/2); Titan, La Mascara & Rush (c) vs. Negro Casas, Felino & Mr. Niebla (CMLL – 2/18)

WWE’s two major trios teams (it is still weird that the WWE has major trios teams at all) squared off on PPV in a heavily hyped match that for the most part met the hype.  Wyatt Family versus the Shield probably seemed like the good bet for best trios match of February when the month began but the New Japan tag on the 2nd day of the month gave it a run for its money.  CMLL did not have as much in terms of quality trios matches as January, but the title switch on the 18th was fun.

Multi-Wrestler MatchGym Skyade (Aztlan, Destino, Jorge Kebrada, Kanon, Onix, Operativo X, Prodigo & Vertize) vs. FILL Gym (Alfa, Dragón Celestial, Fulgor I, Imposible, Omega, Power Bull, Seiya, Sky Ángel) (IWRG – 2/4)
Also Watch:  Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Christian vs. John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro (WWE –  Goldust, Cody Rhodes, Los Matadores & El Torito vs. Ryback, Curtis Axel, Health Slater, Jindar Mahal & Drew McIntyre (WWE – 2/26)

The cibernetico between Skayde’s trainees and the IWRG (Black Terry) trainees gets the top nod.  What I want out of a multi-man match is a lot of quick action, quick switches in and out, and for everyone to get a chance to shine.  The cibernetico had that even if it was not always the prettiest or most refined match.  The 10-man from Main Event was as good of a six-minute match as I have seen in recent memory with great stuff from Torito and a good supporting cast.  Admittedly, I have not watched the Elimination Chamber match yet because it will be up on the Network soon and I figure I might as well wait one more week to see it in high quality, but I’ve read enough good things about it from people whose opinions I generally agree with so I’ll include it for now.

Most Memorable Angle – Chikara Returns (National Pro Wrestling Day – 02/01)

I’ve seen some people rag on this but I don’t get.  It is certainly arguable whether it was a prudent fiscal decision to not run real Chikara shows for nearly a year while running a confusing storyline that bored even some devoted fans of the promotion.  That makes sense to me.  I don’t get ragging on the return angle which I thought was well-executed (despite some low volume microphone issues).  It came off looking as large scale as anything in Indie wrestling does and most importantly got over HUGE with the modestly big live crowd.  Something that gets over that big and gets the genuine shrieking and yelling reaction like this angle did can’t be anything but good.  The fact that they are selling a bunch of tickets to their Pennsylvania and Chicago returns at least disputes the notion that the time off decreased interest in the promotion.  Maybe they won’t sustain it, but there is a lot of interest in the promotion now and this well-received angle was the start of that.

Wrestler(s) of the MonthKazuchika Okada
Match Resume: w/ Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito & Hiroshi Tanahashi (2/2); w/ Yoshi Hashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto (2/9); vs. Hirooki Goto (2/11)

Antonio Cesaro
Match Resume: w/ Jack Swagger vs. Sheamus & Christian (2/10); vs. John Cena (2/17); vs. Sami Zayn (2/27)

Okay – second month in and I am already cheating a little bit by picking two guys. If pressed, I would go with Okada because I thought the Goto match was better than either of Cesaro’s big February singles matches (versus Cena and Zayn, respectively).  Both wrestlers had really strong months however, so you probably cannot go wrong either way.

Promotion of the MonthWWE

Sort of a toss up between WWE and New Japan this month in terms of events and matches, but my gut says I enjoyed first-run WWE matches in February a tad more.  I gave best singles match to New Japan, best tag to WWE, best trios to WWE, and best wrestler was a tossup between a WWE and New Japan wrestler (leaning towards NJPW) which also indicates that I thought WWE high-end stuff from this month was a smidge better.  WWE is not exactly rolling or anything but they had a decent month with two big shows that delivered (Elimination Chamber and NXT: Arrival) plus some good TV matches mainly involving Cesaro.

CMLL TV was a bit more all over the place this month and lacked any high-quality matches.  There was more watchable ROH in February on TV than perhaps ever in their Sinclair run, but that speaks more about where they came from then where they are now.

A Look Ahead
Top Matches on tap for March (what’s left of it)

First, for what has already happened in March.  New Japan ran their anniversary show on March 6th with a battle between the junior heavyweight and heavyweight singles champions (Ibushi and Okada, respectively) that turned out to be a quality match.  We got an Elimination Chamber re-match between the Shield and Wyatt Family on RAW and not much else from WWE so far.  Skayde and Black Terry had a singles match in IWRG that hasn’t popped up yet but hopefully will at some point.

Coming up later in the month, CMLL has the Dos Leyendas event headlined by a Shocker/Rush hair match.  Neither wrestler has ever lost their hair so there is intrigue there, plus Shocker is over big time as a rudo these days which should help the heat and it should at least be a decently wrestled match.  Casas gets the winner sometime in the future or presumably steps in if Shocker backs out at the last minute.  That same card will have the finals of the parejas incredibles tournament that is ongoing with Maximo and Rey Escorpion already in the finals.

AAA has Rey de Reyes on the 16th and it feels a bit underwhelming.  A couple of four ways (tag titles and Rey de Reyes final) that could be okay and a Blue Demon versus Chessman match that probably has the best chance of being a standout match.  IWRG has a pair of cage matches where the losers advances to a hair/mask match on the 16th involving some good guys in Skayde, Black Terry, Golden Magic, Trauma 1, and others so something good could fall out of that.

New Japan cup will star and conclude in the next couple of weeks.  Standout first round matches include Nakamura versus Davey Boy Smith Jr. (a re-match of their good first round match from the 2013 Cup) and Ishii vs. Naito in a re-match of their highly-toured February match.  Nothing much potentially on tap in the quarterfinals but the semi’s could be something like Nakamura/Goto and Naito/Shibata (although Suzuki stands a strong chance of advancing over Goto) both of which have some potential.  Nakamura probably needs to be rebuilt a bit after a back-to-back title match losses and making it to the finals would accomplish that.  Shibata is a favorite to win the whole thing so a Nakamura/Shibata final might be in the cards and should be good.

ROH is running Chris Hero versus AJ Styles in a couple of weeks.  I liked their SMASH match from January well enough that IF (big “if”) they build off of the good elements of that one, that could turn into something good (particularly by current ROH standards).  Who knows what TNA will have going on but a good chance none of it will be all that good.  Not much in NOAH, Dragon Gate, or All-Japan either.

WWE will likely be angle-heavy going into WrestleMania and with no PPV in March, there is not a whole lot on the horizon the next two and a half weeks for them as well.  Looks like a relatively quiet month for hyped matches before a busy start to April between WrestleMania, all of the adjoining indie shows that run that weekend, ECWA Super 8, a New Japan PPV, and more.

(02/21) Angelico, Australian Suicide & Zumbi vs. Demon Rocker, Machine Rocker & Soul Rocker

Gimnasio Olimpico Juan de la Barrera (Mexico City, Mexico)

I thought this match was the most fun match from AAA I have seen from 2014.

They forgo the ‘everyone brawls in the ring’ opening for the most part, opting for a more traditional one-on-one slower paced start. I think I tend to prefer that over the alternative that you get in most Psycho Circus or main event trios matches in AAA. I am not the biggest Angelico fan in the world – his kicks are really hit or miss – but he looked fine here both on offense and taking a beating. His clothesline late in the match looked very good – more of those and less of the kicks, please. He also has natural heel charisma and with the male fans turning against him, I think a run alongside the rudos could be fun somewhere in the future.

The first five minutes are all mainly kept to one on one sequences and all six luchadores looked good. Zumbi’s kicks and break dancing-inspired moves were fun and for the most part connecting. The Rockers were solid eating the offense from the multinational (Australia, Brazil & Spain) tecnico team. They eventually take over, first on Angelico and then on Suicide, beating both down with a variety of triple teams.

The rudos control for several minutes in a decent segment of the match. We got lots of German suplexes and high-impact moves from the Rockers, most of which looked good. They get their licks in on three tecnicos at least once during this segment. One of the Rockers landed a really nice tope on Angelico with the other two holding him at bay outside the ring, but that allowed Zumbi and Suicide to get the jump on them with dueling hurricanranas once the Rockers re-entered the ring.

The tecnico dive train to kick off the stretch run was great as always with a beautiful shooting star plancha form Suicide and Angelico’s super-athletic tope out of the corner.

Overall, this was a very fun match that flew by and flowed better than a lot of AAA trios do.

Lucha Trios | Worthwhile | Quality


After the monthly recap for a particular month has gone up, I will continue posting normal write ups for any matches that are really good. For the others – generally in the “common” category – that I have something to … Continue reading

(02/26) Super Nova vs. Eterno

Arena Naucalpan (Naucalpan de Juarez, Mexico)
NWA (Old) Light Heavyweight Championship

This wasn’t anything special and I normally probably wouldn’t bother writing about it. However, it struck me as an interesting match because theoretically it was worked in a similar style to several matches I have enjoyed recently only it simply wasn’t as good as those matches.

The match had a lot of lucha mat work with a focus on submission attempts, holds, and counters. That general match description could apply to any number of recent matches I have watched including Virus/Titan from January; CIMA/Super Shisa and Dandy/Satanico from February; or Charles Lucero/Silver Star from March (review forthcoming). I thought those matches ranged from good (Dandy/Satanico) to great (Virus/Titan). Super Nova & Eterno’s IWRG bout was somewhere below the low-end of that range.

Eterno and Super Nova pulled out plenty of neat submissions and counters that were on pair with many of those other matches, so I am not sure that offense was really the separating factor. Yea, it was kind of slow, deliberate work on the ground but that’s what you get in a lot of mat-based lucha matches. Dandy and Satanico weren’t exactly Naruki Doi in their match either and I didn’t hold that agtainst him. The problem didn’t seem to be a pacing issue or a selling issue or going too long issue either. I am not saying that it was as good as those other matches in any of those facets, but it didn’t fail badly enough in any of them to be the real difference marker.

Where this match failed, I think, was that it was not it never reached that point of being compelling. All the work was technically fine from the offense to the structure to the execution, but it was missing an imperative hook that draws you in. Dandy/Satanico had their storied rivalry, Dandy’s impending retirement, and Satanico’s mid-bout grumpiness. Super Shisa & CIMA had the unique rules and faster-paced style to work with.

This match didn’t have that hook – it was just two guys putting on a technically solid match. Nothing wrong with that, but I sometimes see matches like this one (although not this one specifically) getting praised and then I watch it and don’t get all of the hype. Having a fundamentally solid match is the first step, but that doesn’t automatically make it a good or even great one.

Lucha Singles | Common

(02/20) CIMA vs. Super Shisa

Dragon Gate
Kobe Sambo Hall (Hyogo, Japan)
4-Escapes, 2-Count Rules

I don’t say stuff like this often, but if you are not watching these CIMA rope-break, two-count rules matches in Dragon Gate you really should be.

These two had a similar match back in December that I likely never would have watched if my brother had not read someone else praising it and describing the submission/counters style of match. That match was really good and then CIMA had a tag match back in January under similar rules that was way too short and worked a tad differently (less time on the mat), but was still a lot of fun.

I might not go as far as to say this is CIMA working his maestro matches but it is not far off either. This match is largely focused on applying and transitioning in/out of aesthetically pleasing submission holds which certainly fits that sort-of match description. CIMA’s work in this style is also surprisingly visceral for a guy who is not exactly spent his career working this style.

Both wrestlers escape the submission attempts logically – they are not just running through four submission/rope breaks. If you would have asked me last year if I’d prefer a match with rope breaks/2-counts or a match with rope breaks/no pins (UWF-style rules), I’d have easily gone with the later. I really like the 2-count rules, however, after watching these matches. It provides a buffer zone between full-on shoot-style and traditional pro wrestling style in that there are pin attempts but they are less about pinning a guy after a big move and more about catching him with a flash pin like a wrestler would try to catch his opponent with a submission. It opens up a lot of transition possibilities in and out of submissions/quick pins.

Super Shisa is really smooth and proficient at this style as well. Hold for hold, he might have been the standout in this one over CIMA. Very smooth in applying submissions and he has a couple of really cool looking ones.

I hope we get more of these sorts of matches from CIMA going forward. He appears to be taking a step or two down from his prior headlining role in Dragon Gate, so I could certainly live with him having eight-minute rope-break-rules matches in the mid card rather than bump-intensive main events. I sort of like the Dragon Gate guys – or at least these two Dragon Gates – working submission-heavy matches over, for example, submission-heavy matches in IWRG or Monterrey. There is probably something to be said for the added quickness that these two (and the rules) bring to a submission-oriented match over, for example, a technical-style Lucha match.

Submissions | Watch It | Quality