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 →
Floral Pavilion (New Brighton, Merryside, England)
ASW Superslam Championship
Dean Allmark and Robbie Dynamite rarely have bad matches versus each other. They had a number of good singles and tag matches (with the equally good Rampage Brown as Dynamite’s partner) in 2013, including a surprisingly good tables match late last summer (“surprising” since table matches generally stink). This was another good match between the two that fits right in with their larger bodies of work.
As per usual with ASW matches, the crowd interaction and crowd reaction adds so much to the atmosphere of this match. Dynamite telling the crowd – comprised of many kids – to “shush” in order to get them even more riled up works like magic. To me, Allmark in ASW is one of the best (if not the best) babyfaces anywhere in the world today. He gets a crowd behind him so easily, can get them to chant support or jeer the opponent on cue, and works a very solid, traditional babyface style.
Dynamite doesn’t do much in this match besides setting up Allmark’s offense and comebacks, but that is all he needed to do. He goes to a chin lock often, but almost always at the correct time to rally the crowd behind Allmark. Allmark was really crisp in this one hitting all of his hope and comeback spots perfectly. I know the headstand in the corner spot is nothing new in British wrestling but it is such a great spot. Poor Dynamite falls for it yet again, having not yet learned that charging at Allmark while he is standing on his head on the turnbuckle is only going to lead to a boot to the mouth.
Your typical solid Dean Allmark and Robbie Dynamite match. This match – and these guys – are proof that you don’t need to constantly reinvent the wheel in wrestling. They work similar matches basically all-year around in the same towns, using the same spots. They have a definite formula but because that formula is a good one, it works no matter how many times the fans see it.
British Singles | Common | Quality
Korauken Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
3 Points (Rope Breaks & Certain takedowns)
Wrestle-1 hasn’t produced anything in its abbreviated existence that someone would really need to go out of his way to see. This match does not necessarily change that trend. It is, however, easily the best match I have seen from the promotion and stands up as a pretty good shoot-style match in its own right.
I have watched some other outings from Funaki in this promotion, including a 2 on 1 comedy handicap versus the Brahman Brothers. Funaki was taken out of his element in a lot of those other matches. Clearly, this style of match versus someone like Takayama is much more in his wheelhouse and it shows. The match starts with feeling out as both go for knuckle locks and end up in the clinch.
They go to the mat a couple of minutes in. Takayama’s ground game impressed me. He rolled, moved around, attempted to pass Funaki’s guard and reversed holds with far more athletic ability than I expected given his age and the fact that “athletic ability” was never a trait he likely included on his resume to begin with. Takayama didn’t do much last year in his match on the March U-Spirits Again card, so my hopes weren’t all that high for him this time. I think have Funaki has an opponent this go-around helped, but in any event he looked a lot better.
Most of the match consists fighting for position and submissions on the mat which is all fairly solid, but the standup portion also had some good spots. Takayama hits a pair of nice suplexes and Funaki contributes a hard-fought-for German Suplex.
The latter Takayama suplex costs Funaki his second point, leaving each wrestler one with one point remaining. Perhaps for that reason – neither one would want to risk being put in a hold while on the mat and losing their last point – they go at it standing for really the first time. Takayama tries some knee lifts, but being the awkward Lurch that he is, he is too slow delivering the knees and Funaki is able to avoid the strikes. Funaki lands a series of open hand strikes before landing a big kick to the hand. Takayama does a great tree-falling sell of the kick with gives Funaki the victory via knockout.
If you are looking for a 2014 shoot-style fix this is the best I have seen so far. At about seven minutes, it is a quick and easy match to get through as well (always a positive in my book).
Shoot Style | Worthwhile | Quality
Berwyn Eagles Club (Berwyn, Illinois)
AAW Heavyweight Championship
This was a very fun match from start to finish, but it was the finish that really brought it to the next level. The entire match had Jimmy Jacobs’ finger prints all over and his performance is the one that stood out, although Hollister played his role well.
The first few minutes were very good with some quick-moving mat work and counters lead by Jacobs. Jacobs was positioned as the determined underdog which has always been a good role for him. It is how he originally made his name – as the goofy but never-say-die Bruiser Brody enthusiast – and although he has largely wrestled as a mastermind heel in recent years, the undersized babyface role is still a role he plays well. He fights from underneath here effectively, mixing it well-placed hope spots and comebacks. For his part, Hollister is fine working Jacobs over for much of the match.
Jacobs establishes early on that that he feels he will need to pull off a big move to get the win. He teases the Contra Code in the ring, on the apron, and on the floor throughout the match but never hits it. At around the fourteen minute mark Jacobs makes a comeback that peaks with him locking on the guillotine choke. Hollister powers out, but the move comes into player later. At around 20 minutes, after trying for the Contra Code on the apron, Jacobs finally pulls off the big move he was looking for when he hits a great through-the-ropes spear that sends Hollister crashing violently into the guardrail. It also busts Jimmy open.
Back in the ring – with Jacobs now bloodied – the stretch run begins in earnest. Without giving everything away, the violent move and the blood adds an air of desperation. Jacobs goes back to the guillotine choke but the blood loss and general fatigue has potentially already taken its toll. This leads to a good and unique ending stretch that helped both guys walk away from the match looking strong.
At the end of the day, this is probably my favorite US Indie match of the year so far. I don’t think it would be fair to view that on a sliding scale either. The match is legitimately good, even if the standards of the current US indie scene are all not that high. The match didn’t go too long, had nice bookends (a fun opening and hot ending stretch), with a good narrative holding it altogether. It is definitely worth checking out.
Title Match | Watch It | Quality & Individual Performance (Jacobs)
Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
A lover of “big fat Japanese guys hitting each other hard and no selling each other’s offense’s” dream match up.
Actually, that is unfair on both accounts. Okabayashi has the big, fat, Japanese, and hard-hitting parts down. However, he usually sells quite a bit (particularly for a guy his size) and this match proves no exception. Ishii is the one with the selling issues, even though he is hardly a big man by wrestling standards. Even working with Okabayashi who hits just as hard and is much bigger, Ishii gives very little.
It is pretty funny watching these two work a body slam spot where Okabayashi cannot lift Ishii off his feet but Ishii is able to slam Okabayashi with ease. It’s one thing for Ishii to play the world’s smallest super heavyweight in NJPW where nobody really dwarfs him in height or mass, but here is was just silly. Got to hand to Ishii though – he sticks with his schtick not matter how silly it looks.
There were elements of the match that I thought we’re strong. I liked how the first long strike exchange was chops because no-selling chops bothers me less than forearms. I can buy the notion of a guy shrugging off the sting of chops. When you don’t flinch at forearms delivered right to your jaw, it just makes the opponent look weak. Okabayashi’s bumping and selling was generally good. Ishii laid in his forearms nicely and all of his suplexes looked good in part thanks to how Okabayashi took them (although he did seem to struggle getting him up for the power bomb). The match also avoided going into overkill mode and ended at a good time.
My main complaint was the roles should have really been reversed. If someone was going to take most of the offense and no-sell, it should have been Okabayashi. Ishii hanging in there and giving it back at times before pulling out the victory would have made some sense from a visual standpoint but that has never been Ishii’s primary concern.
Nothing terribly wrong here and if you are a fan of the style, this won’t disappoint. I personally find Ishii’s style to be distracting so this didn’t do a whole lot for me.
Stiff | Common | Spectacle