Current Watch List:
- Frankie Kazarian vs. Cedric Alexander (ROH)
- Donavan Dijak vs. Jake Dirden (ROH)
- Jay Briscoe (c) vs. Matt Taven for the ROH World championship (ROH)
- Virus vs. Star Jr. (CMLL)
- Tommy End vs. Will Osprey (wXw)
- Keel Holding (Aaron Insane, Jurn Simmons, Kim Ray & Sasa Keel) vs. The AUTsiders (Big Daddy Walter & Robert Dreissker) & Prost (Mike Schwarz & Toby Blunt) in a street fight (wXw)
- Big Daddy Walter vs. Sasa Keel (wXw)
- Drew Gulak vs. Axel Dieter, Jr. (wXw)
- Suge D vs. Scotty Young (c) for the RPW Heavyweight championship (RPW)
- FantasticaMania Tag Tournament (CMLL/NJPW)
- Angel de Oro (c) vs. Okumura for the CMLL World Light Heavyweight championship (CMLL/NJPW)
Frankie Kazarian vs. Cedric Alexander
United States & Canada
A prime example of a bland ROH TV match. Granted, I’ll take bland over excruciating (which ROH has their fair share of also) but there was just nothing all that good and/or memorable about this match. The work was solid. They didn’t go too far with anything. It was an okay TV opening match which is fine but its just the same old stuff in ROH 90% of the time.
Donavan Dijak vs. Jake Dirden
United States & Canada
Both guys are really tall which is presumably why they got booked for the top prospect tournament because they didn’t have much else going for them in this match. Dirden works a crazed lunatic gimmick and uses the Asiatic Spike as his finisher, so the match was built around that (although not particularly well). He went for the spike early, forgot about it for a while, and then decided to go for it again when he likely had the match won with a normal cover. That’s all fine but I didn’t buy Dirden as an Asiatic Spike wielding madman. He came off very play-wrestler to me. Dijak going over made sense because Dirden is too similar to Hanson in look (although not necessarily wrestling style). You don’t need both of those guys in the same promotion.
Jay Briscoe (c) vs. Matt Taven
United States & Canada
ROH World Championship
I thought this was a fine TV main event, particularly the first half of the match. The first part is centered around Taven continuously tossing Briscoe to the outside where Maria and Bennett get their cheap shots in. It was the right call for this match. Nobody would buy Taven as having a chance to win the title from Jay so doing a straight up, normal ROH match wouldn’t get you anywhere. At least the interference got them some heat. Taven also has poor offense, so the fact that half of his offense actually came from Bennett and Maria was a step up. The second half was odd because Jay was in control for most of it. He really went 3-4 minutes of being on control right into the finish. In some ways, I like that because Taven shouldn’t be booked as being near Jay’s level but it was definitely different in terms of how you’d expect a title match to play out.
Virus vs. Star Jr.
This is a handheld from a Saturday Arena Coliseo shows which don’t air on TV anywhere and are supposed to be old style lucha shows. Virus is one of those rare wrestlers who is usually only go to have a below average match if he wants to. That is, if he holds back. I wouldn’t say this was a below average match necessarily but it wasn’t up to the usual Virus standards. The smooth mat work of a normal Virus title match was replaced by a less flowing exchange of basic holds. The crowd was sedated which also didn’t help. Star Jr. didn’t look completely comfortable on the outset but going it going mid-match after hitting a tope con hilo, that was captured with a great overhead shot on the handheld. Star Jr. has some nice arm drags. He pulled off a couple of here but seemed to be holding back. Virus didn’t roll out any big bumps or even any of his bigger moves given this was a smaller show. The middle portion onward were good but again, not help to usual Virus standards. Sort of a cool match to watch in that the one-fall, non-TV format gives you a different look at these guys.
Drew Gulak vs. Axel Dieter Jr.
I tend to be more engaged in Gulak matches that have a clearly defined heel/face structure and/or a clearly defined hierarchy. In spite of the restrictive Iron Man rules, I thought his match versus Green Ant from last January was very good in large part because it made effective use of the fundamentals. Gulak was clearly positioned as the heel. Green Ant fought back from behind after suffering an early injury. The match had focus and a clear cut purpose. They gave additional meaning to all of the good mat and submission work by working a heel-face match and having one guy clearly working from behind.
For many of those same reasons, I liked Gulak/Axel Dieter Jr. from wXw’s first show of 2015. Gulak – while not necessarily positioned as a heel – was positioned as being higher up the ladder than Dieter. He controlled on the mat, allowed Dieter small comebacks, and cut them off quickly. The match benefited from the traditional structure and gave more meaning to Gulak’s (strong) mat and hold game. Dieter is a good babyface with talent who like many young guys, is still trying to find his niche. I didn’t think he gave a standout performance by any means but he was competent in his role as the flashy baby face trying to come back from behind. He made for a nice counter to Gulak’s normal approach. Second half of the match with Gulak honing in on an ankle lock was strong and it fed nicely into the finish. Good match.
Tommy End vs. Will Osprey
Not unlike the Dieter Jr. vs. Gulak match, this one benefited from a strong heel/face and underdog dynamic. End took most of the first 8-10 minutes of the match. Osprey literally only got a small, quick comeback every so often. They were just quick punches or a small blocked move before End cut him off and went back on control. End did a good job giving him enough hope spots peppered throughout while also maintaining the hierarchical structure of the match. This wasn’t 90’s AJPW or anything; just a former champion of a promotion wrestling a newcomer in the way that clearly showed their respective positions. They lost that a bit at the end, as I though Osprey got a little too much late offense and kicked out of one or two moves too many. It just didn’t jive with the first part of the match and felt disconnected from the earlier build.
Osprey did land a Sasuke Special at one point. That makes at least a half-dozen Sasuke Specials I have seen in 2015 already. You could certainly choose a lot worse move to make a sudden and random comeback.
Keel Holding (Aaron Insane, Jurn Simmons, Kim Ray & Sasa Keel) vs. The AUTsiders (Big Daddy Walter & Robert Dreissker) & Prost (Mike Schwarz & Toby Blunt)
There was a bunch I liked about this street fight. All eight guys looked like they came for a street fight. Nobody wearing designer jeans or their own t-shirt, just a lot of camo, wife beaters, and jeans. There was lots of blood (I think four guys total bled) with Kim Ray hitting what could appropriately be descried as a gusher. Walter was great in the match in the Sting, face of the promotion, baby face team leader roll. He came across as a level higher than the others. He needed to be double and tripled team in order to be busted open and fought off the odds several times. There were some big bumps and could looking spots, including a couple of ladder and several table bumps.
The downside is that the brawling at the start did not come across as chaotic as it ideally would have. This wasn’t Rod Strong & Drew Galloway in terms of being a hard hitting, intense barroom street fight. They wandered around a bunch and the cameras were in poor positions at a couple of points. Also, there was a bit too much weapon use. Some of the props took too long to set up and the match eventually turned into a set up – – > bump – – > set up – – > bump type of stunt fest. They went 20 minutes which was way too long given what they did. Less props and about 6 minutes shaved off would have done wonders for the match.
Big Daddy Walter (c) vs. Sasa Keel
wXw Unified Wrestling Championship
This was an angle more than a match. Following the street fight as the good guys were celebrating, in the ring, Vince Russo walked out. There were some good reaction shots of the fans as Russo walked by them and they suddenly realized who he was. Russo got his usual half self serving/half decent sleazy heel promo. The storyline is that he is a new investor with the promotion and has an indeterminable level of power. He called out Sasa Keel who had one of those “anytime, anywhere” title contracts as the result of a previous win. Keel challenged Walter for the title, Russo “made” the match, and it was on.
They ran through a minute and half of impact spots, before Russo pulled the referee out. In an angle that – surely by design – felt like something right out of Russo’s own booking playbook, Russo took of his shirt to reveal a referee shirt. Keel’s second knocked out Walter with the title belt, Walter covered, and Russo counted the pin.
For whatever it is worth, the crowd reacted more like it was a big time heel screw job that they wanted to see rectified rather than an angle they hated. It seems that Russo is not booking and will just be a character. He does have potential has a heel non-wrestling, non-booking character. In theory, he should be one of the few guys in wrestling who can draw legit hate these days. He’d probably be better off doing this in the US somewhere, but I am still semi-interested in seeing where it goes. Basically a non-match but definitely a noteworthy angle.
Suge D vs. Scotty Young (c)
RPW Heavyweight championship
Suge D is Sugar Dunkerton. This is a fact that alluded me until after I started watching the match or else I might have picked something else from this show. Dunkerton does nothing for me. In general, I do not get bent out of shape about certain guys (usually on the indies) coming off as a guy playing wrestler, but Dunkerton comes off to me that way and it is distracting. Scotty Young (first time seeing him) came off as a slightly better Josh Daniels in this match, which is a step up from the level Sugar Dunkerton is on. Annoying crowd, too. Drunk guys on the camera side kept talking to each other and mugging for the camera in a really distracting manner. Young was okay, but not someone I am going to necessarily seek out more of and Dunkerton gave his usual blah performance. RPW has always been low on talent but with Billy Corgan gone now, they are scrapping the bottom of the barrel even more.