Beyond Wrestling “Alive & Kicking” Reviewed: The One Where Biff Busick and Mike Bailey Happens

The first of two Fete Music shows held over the weekend of November 29 – 30th by “Beyond Wrestling” was aptly titled “Alive & Kicking”. Making their return to Fete for the first time in over three months Beyond went big with an elimination tag main event that featured an East Coast (read: Beyond Wrestling) team against a West Coast (read: PWG team). The highlight of the show was obviously the fact that the Young Bucks were in the building but man so much good stuff happened before that.

  • Good lord Biff Busick and “Speedball” Mike Bailey. Is anyone having a more underrated 2014 than Mike Bailey. In my opinion he absolutely stole the show at CZW “Best of the Best 13″, and he’s had MOTYC with Kevin Steen and Biff Busick in C*4. Here’s the crazy thing about Bailey – even knowing eerything that I know about how great he is, I’m still SHOCKED at how awesome this match was. It’s inconceivable to me that someone who has been on such a hot streak can still manage to be so underrated. I have to assume it’s the fact that he doesn’t wear shoes. The great thing about this match is that you can’t really hear the strikes on the raw footage, but you can watch the people at ringside — every time Bailey connected with a kick, someone ringside would cringe. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about this being the best Beyond match of the year — it’s certainly one of the best and a match you should absolutely go out of your way to catch.
  • Biff in Fete Music. There is nothing else like it. I can’t think of a single independent wrestler who has a similar impact on an entire room than Biff Busick in Fete Music. I know that certain promotions have their “favorites” which is to be expected, but Biff Busick shows up in Fete Music and the entire atmosphere changes. His ring entrance is unlike anything else that happens during a Beyond show, the crowd could be in a coma before he comes out and they’d all be singing in unison. Busick has the capacity to turn the entire atmosphere in Fete Music around -and that’s not just based upon this match, I’ve been in the room and felt it happen before. He provides a palpable jolt of electricity to the proceedings, it’s amazing. If you’re on the fence about going to a Beyond Wrestling show you should absolutely do it if only to experience Biff Busick before he’s gone forever, and let’s face it, Biff will be gone sooner or later to greener pastures.
  • The Young Bucks Anywhere. Here’s the thing about the Bucks, everyone else around them seems less important. Just like I find it hard to compare Biff’s presence at Fete Music, it’s hard to put into words what the Young Bucks are. They do not have an equal. Even the teams that are theoretically on the same level do not feel equal. In the main event, a 10 man elimination tag it always felt like there were 8 guys in the match and two *super* stars. That’s the impact of the Bucks. The only thing I can compare it to is when Eddie Guerrero made those independent dates early in the 2000’s. It always felt weird that Eddie was wrestling in ROH or IWA:MS and even though he’d be in the ring with Punk and he’d play it off like they were equals, at that time, you knew they weren’t. It’s the same thing with the Bucks. The difference is that they Bucks haven’t reached that level by being global WWE stars, they’re global stars to be sure, but they’ve done it by basically just being great tag team wrestlers who are also over the top characters that people have grabbed onto.
  • The Passion of Dan Barry. The main event was wild, and it’s basically impossible for me to recap it and do it any justice, so I’ll focus primarily on the end. After a wild match the match winds down with Trevor Lee and the Bucks against Dan Barry. I loved the story that those four told with Barry just basically going balls out trying to keep all three of his opponents separated and look for an opening to pick them off one by one. The damned numbers game is too much for him but he is able to snipe Trevor Lee and even the odds, and then the beautiful destruction of Dan Barry commences with the Bucks using all of their tandem offense to systematically break Barry down — but he keeps kicking out, and he won’t die. Ultimately the end is a foregone conclusion, there is no way that Barry can survive and win the match against the best tag team in the world – but he kind of convinces you for a moment that they can’t beat him. I loved the story, and the Bucks finally putting him down was inevitable but still depressing and it immediately made me want to watch Team TREMENDOUS/Young Bucks from the Sunday show (still to come), which I’m assuming was the whole point.
  • A dumb thing at the right time. One of the highlights of the 10 man main event was a Brian Cage (Taylor) moment where he body slammed every member of the East Coast team, and then proceeded to body slam every member of his own team. Cage then picks up the ref and does bicep curls with him before indiscriminately tossing him over the top rope and into a pile of the other competitors. In a vacuum it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen (throwing the ref) but because it came during a comedy spot I laughed out loud. It’s call context.
  • A dumb thing at a dumb time. On the flip side, Brian Cage pulls JT Dunn onto the Fete Music stage and proceeds to a perform a delay vertical suplex while 8 guys comically stand on the floor getting ready to catch Dunn. The problem is that they’re just standing around holding each other and waiting for the suplex to end — they’re not fighting, they’re not engaging, they’re literally just standing and looking up for someone to be dropped like 9 feet on top of all their heads. It is the single dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match and I mean that without hyperbole. It was so stupid that it took me right out of the match. Look I know wrestling is choreographed, but the art form part of it is to not let me see the wires. If you’re just going to go out there and do something that only works if the 8 other guys not involved are all standing on their spot and comically waiting for a thing to happen then that’s not art, it’s nothing, it’s stupid and lazy and I hated it.
  • The Dave Cole/Anthony Stone Feud Continues to be Great. Cole and Stone were genetically engineered in a lab to wrestle each other. I’m sure of it. A 2 out of 3 falls match is a risky proposal when you’re heading into Hour 5 of a wrestling show for many people (those who went to the Secret Show first). Heading into the match Stone was up 3-2 in the series. Because I’ve been watching wrestling my entire life I knew that meant that Cole would win the first fall, Stone would win the second fall and then we’d know whether this feud was over or not by who won the third fall. It’s not easy to find new things to do when you’ve wrestled each other all over New England for the better part of a year but this match managed to show me some new things. I love, love, loved the Super Dave Cole bomb to put Stone away and the fact that Cole tied things up at 4-4 in what is apparently a Best of 9 series is awesome. It was already announced that this feud will end on December 28th at “Ends Meet” and even though I know it has to conclude, these two were born to wrestle each other.
  • The other rivalry match didn’t work as well for me. I liked Jay Freddie/Brian Fury III enough but I wasn’t crazy about everything leading up to the final sequence. I liked how the end of the match built off the previous two matches but something about this one just didn’t really click for me. I think the best way to describe it was Freddie’s sharpshooter — it was a sharpshooter and it got him the win, but it was ugly as sin. Also in fairness, something completely out of either guys control but the commentary team for this match was pretty disinterested in the match. I’m okay if I never notice you on commentary and I like when you enhance a match but if I notice you because you’re negatively impacting my enjoyment that’s not great. Freddie wound up getting Fury to tap in the sharpshooter and in theory he wins the feud 2-1 but we’ll see if there’s another chapter to be written in this one.
  • Matt Tremont, Beyond Wrestling’s Performer of the Year. I’m not turning in my ballot right now but I can’t think of someone who elevated their game more in 2014 than Matt Tremont. When this year began I never thought I’d be anxiously anticipating a match between Tremont and Silver Ant, and yet I couldn’t wait to see this match and I was not disappointed. I loved the story being told — Tremont is a brute, so he’s throwing haymakers and Silver Ant tries to brawl back but keeps getting cut off at the knees. When Silver Ant takes things to the ground, or works submissions Tremont has NO counters — his only escape is that he’s so strong that when Silver Ant puts him in a hold, he turns it into a pinning situation so Silver has to break it. It was kind of genius, and the story was how could Silver Ant use his technical advantage versus how could Tremont use his brute strength without playing into the opponents hands? A highlight for me was Silver Ant twice on the outside sliding into the ring holding Tremont’s arm into a triangle choke. The second time Tremont just picked Silver up and power bombed him into the steel post that is ringside. Ultimately Silver gets the win when Tremont makes a mistake and Silver Ant gets a quick roll up for three. I’ve loved Tremont this year in Beyond and this match was no exception. Great work all around in this one.
  • I don’t really have anything to say about this match. At some point during the show Kimber Lee and Drew Gulak teamed up to wrestle Cherry Bomb and Pepper Parks. As weird as it sounds, this match was a completely nothing to me. The highlight was probably Pepper Parks doing bicep curls while choking Drew Gulak with a resistance band that Cherry Bomb threw to him while the ref was distracted, that was actually pretty great. Also, Trevor Lee kept saying that Pepper Parks had “peanut butter complexion” and HOLE-E-SHIT that is a delightful thing to hear from a Southern. Other then that it was a fine match that tried to tell a nice story. The whole time I just wanted Kim and Cherry to hug it out and beat the tar out of Pepper and Gulak so there’s that. At the end Kimber Lee gets the alligator clutch pin on Pepper Parks and she remains undefeated and undefeatable in Fete Music.
  • Da Hoodz make The Influence look great, get me upset in the process. So “Alive & Kicking” takes place on Saturday night with “Tournament For Tomorrow 3″ set for Sunday afternoon. We already know Da Hoodz are going to wrestle The Young Bucks on Sunday. On Saturday they take on The Influence and make them look like a billion dollars. Seriously you will never see a better The Influence match. Here’s the problem. Earlier in the day we watched them get legit squashed by the Devastation Corporation, and we know that they’re RWA trainees who aren’t particularly great. If Da Hoodz can blitz them, why should we even contemplate a world where Da Hoodz can beat the Bucks? I did love the end of the match though where Da Hoodz used the Bucks, assisted tombstone finisher to get the win and taunt the Bucks in the process. Make no mistake, in a vacuum this is a good match that speaks volumes about Da Hoodz ability to pull solid matches out of anyone, but in context it does make them look kind of weak heading into the biggest match of their career.
  • Hey Colin Delaney and John Silver are here. I will watch John Silver toss anyone around a wrestling ring at any time. So that was a fun thing to see.
  • The opening four way answers an age old question. Did you realize the EYFBO stood for “Entertaining Your Fuckin’ Balls Off”? Seriously is that what it means, if that’s true I will always be thankful for the opening match for explaining that to me. The traditional four way match at Fete was a tag team match featuring the Osirian Portal, EYFBO, M1nute Men and The Batiri and it was exactly the type of clusterfuck insanity that gets you hyped up for a wrestling show. The match was really hard to follow for purposes of a recap but there was a dance off in the middle that was pretty great. The Osirian Portal wind up winning after one of the most ridiculous nonesense moves I’ve ever seen (and at this point I’d already seen two Shynron matches) where a handstand turns into Ophidian being on Amasis’ shoulders and hitting a tower suplex on Devin Blaze which leads to the pinfall victory for the Portal. I’m not saying it made a ton of sense, but I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Match of the Night: Biff Busick v. “Speedball” Mike Bailey

Performer of the Night: Matt Tremont

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Beyond Wrestling “TFT316 Block A” Secret Show Reviewed: The One Where Buxx Belmar Wrestles a Cat-man

After Beyond Wrestling was forced to cancel “Makin’ Moves” due to forces completely out of their control, the promotion went off-line for three months. Ninety days is a long time without a show for a company that was running regularly on the last weekend of every month throughout 2014, so the return was going to have to be epic. The “Tournament For Tomorrow 3″ Weekend signified the most ambitious undertaking by Beyond Wrestling since the initial move to Fete Music for “Americanrana 2013″. Four shows spread out over two venues and one full weekend of wrestling. Over the course of the #TFT3Weekend 37 different matches took place, including two different tag team tournaments and a host of non-tournament action as well. As is my custom I’ll be here to review the raw footage (w/ wrestler commentary) from each #TFT3Weekend show in chronological order. Without further ado, let’s get to it shall we?

  • On a show that includes the Devastation Corporation and a Biff Busick/Drew Gulak team, it’s the Ninjas with Altitude that steal the show. I defy you to find someone that will tell you that the NWA didn’t crush the Block A Secret Show. You want to know how awesome Kitsune and Shynron were during this Secret Show? They were able to make Shynron doing a Lethal Injection make sense. That’s right, the most nonsensical move in professional wrestling was performed in a way that made absolute sense by the Ninjas With Altitude.  The thing about the Ninjas With Altitude is that most of what they’re able to do is convoluted and makes little to no sense — but at least they’re excellent at it. They wrestled twice on this show, once against the Can-Am Connection and a second time against EYFBO and during both matches there were moments where I just had to laugh and yell “NO WAY” at my screen. Just watch Shynron do a 450 splash from the bottom turnbuckle and try not to be entertained by that. The interesting thing about Shynron and Kitsune is that they haven’t been doing this *that* long and because of that every once in awhile they find themselves out of position, or something happens that you know immediately is a flub. But, I always like to mention in this space that sometimes it’s those hiccups that keep things real. With guys like Kitsune and Shynron who do feats of acrobatics that defy explanation, seeing them fail on some of those things keeps it real, reminds you that you’re still watching a wrestling match and not just a Cirque du Solei performance.
  • This was perhaps the best EYFBO that I’d ever seen. EYFBO is one of those regular Beyond Wrestling teams that is always featured in some capacity during these weekends. A byproduct of their involvement with Beyond is that I’ve seen a lot of EYFBO matches over the last year and a half.  That exposure allows me to say unequivocally that EYFBO has never been better than they were during this show. Their first match with Team Friendship was a magical bit of comedy, and their second match with Ninjas with Altitude was amazing. I thought NWA had the best overall performance of the Block A Secret Show, but EYFBO probably had the best singular performance in a loss against Shynron/Kitsune.
  • Da Hoodz may be why I loved Ninjas With Altitude/EYFBO. I don’t know if this is true but my favorite match of the Block was NWA/EYFBO and I think it was solely because of the involvement of Da Hoodz. They were the perfect compliment to a wild match because on commentary they were doing a great mix of calling the match, but also just reacting to the insane spots. I honestly thought they enhanced the match a ton, which is really all you’re looking for with wrestler commentary. Some guys use the chance to put themselves over, others just go out there, talk wrestling, react to their friends doing cool things and absolutely make matches better. I’m pro-Da Hoodz in a lot of situations, apparently commentary is also in their arsenal.
  • Did I mention Buxx Belmar wrestled a Cat-man?: If I didn’t mention that I probably should have. Whether you’re a fan or not, let me promise you that this is by far the best match you’ll ever see that involves a guy who spits water into his own mouth taking on a man dressed like a cat. Highest of praise indeed.
  • Leave it to Drew Gulak and Biff Busick to make Cheeseburger look great. There are times when being in a match where your opponents look great shouldn’t be the mission. I respect Bob Evans, and I think Cheeseburger has been able to do some amazing things considering his limited physical capabilities — I’m just not sure that Cheeseburger should be coming out on top during catch-as-catch can wrestling exchanges with Drew Gulak. That being said the Gulak/Busick v. Brutal Burgers match was a solid match, and both Evans and Cheesy looked good in the ring with Gulak and Busick. I also understand how highly both Gulak and Busick think of Bob Evans, but the two top guys in Beyond Wrestling should’ve been able to dispatch the worst tag team in ROH with relative ease.
  • The Dev. Corporation shows you how to do it. With all due respect to the RWA representatives in the tournament The Influence, their first (and only) round match with the Devastation Corporation is how it’s done. Basically The Influence came in, did some stuff, tried to catch the Dev. Corp off guard and then got squashed. Sometimes the better team just wins and it isn’t always going to be a hard fought battle.
  • A great main event. Here’s the thing about the Secret Show’s that Beyond runs, they’re typically held shortly before the doors open at Fete Music for the main show. So what happens if, the Secret Show ends in enough time for the audience, the wrestlers and the staff to schlep down a frightening alleyway from the RWA Chop Shop to Fete Music. The reason this is important is that the Secret Show is on a much more hard time limit than the main show. I bring this up because my guess is that if things had run according to plan the Gulak/Busick v. Dev. Corp. match would have been given more than 7 minutes. A part of me is glad that it didn’t get more time because these four guys went out and taught a master class in getting your shit in, in a tight window. This was a knockdown, drag out, brawl — basically a sprint to the finish and I loved it. Hard hitting, explosive and a ton of fun. Ultimately Biff and Gulak won but on a show where I thought a couple of matches really dragged, these four showed everyone how you get things done on time.
  • Keep an eye on Donovan Dijak. Some guys just look like they’re going to be professional wrestlers. Donovan Dijak looks like a pro wrestler. I said this same thing about Ryan Rush the first time I saw him, I championed him on the Secret Shows and onto the main show at Fete and now Rush is a member of The Front in CZW. I’m not saying Ryan Rush owes me a favor, I’m just pointing out that even a blind squirrel can see that some guys just have “it” whatever “it” is these days. Dijak has great size and mobility and he most impressively he sold his ass off for Mikey Webb. The match had problems, most notably it felt like it went on for about 45 minutes and it doesn’t matter how many times I see Webb, I am never impressed by him. Webb won the match but the outcome in this one was immaterial. It would SHOCK me if by Tournament for Tomorrow 4 we’re not seeing Dijak at Fete Music on a regular basis. I’d also be stunned to ever see Mikey Webb there — fortunately for Webb (and unfortunately for Dijak) I’m nobody.
  • Speaking of Ryan Rush. Rush is now in quotes and Ryan Galeone wrestled Julian Starr. Here’s the thing, this match could’ve not existed. That’s not a negative rating of the match, the match itself was actually solid and if you follow the development of Ryan Rush like I do – you’d be happy to notice that there were no visible botches from Rush. I sometimes get concerned that Rush works himself up before or during these matches which leads to him being a little sloppy. Everything looked tight during this match which is a positive. But this match didn’t do anything special or even particularly interesting. Rush has a beard now, so there’s that. The thing that I’d most compliment these two on is that the match was tight. This was a filler match (read: non-tournament) but I was never bored. It wasn’t a particularly memorable match but it moved along well, the pacing was really good, the action was there and the finish was fun. It might sound backhanded but for a match that was just there, it did everything right that the Dijak/Webb match did wrong. So kudos to both guys.

Where things are left: So the TFT316 Block A Secret Show ends with Ninjas with Altitude and Drew Gulak/Biff Busick moving on to the Tournament For Tomorrow 3 show at Fete Music.

Match of the Night: EYFBO v. Ninjas with Altitude.

Performance of the Night: Angel Ortiz. For real, the Funky Monkey was on point in his two matches, tip o’ the hat to him.

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Kenta Kobashi’s Reign Hits a Sweet Spot, GHC Championship History (Disc 7)

First a quick recap of where we are:

Disc 1: In the beginning, there was Misawa

Disc 2: Akiyama Comes and Goes

Disc 3: Misawa Gives Way to Kenta Kobashi

Disc 4: It’s going to be a long journey

Disc 6: The final five star match of Kobashi’s career

So Disc 7 picks up on September 10, 2004. Kobashi has now successfully defended the GHC Championship nine (9) times and is coming off wins over Takayama and Jun Akiyama (in a five star match). If you’re looking for the true “sweet spot” of the Kobashi title run, this is it. Starting at the Takayama match and going right through this disc he’s just in a zone, hell at the end of this disc he makes a compelling opponent out of Mike Awesome.

Kenta Kobashi v. Akira Taue (September 10, 2004): This match is better than the match with Jun Akiyama from July.  I don’t care about Meltzer’s star ratings I refuse to believe from an objective standpoint that this is a worse match. Most people probably know this match as the debut of the Wrist Clutch Burning Hammer as that’s what it took to put Taue away, but I’ll remember it for Taue doing a rana, and a sick back body drop/chokeslam from the apron to the floor. While I was watching this match I took notes, and one of my notes is just “holy f*ck this match just got awesome”. I don’t know really when in the match that switch flipped, but I never got that in the Akiyama match but it happened here. When people talk about the “independent wrestling” style, if they don’t want to go back to Late 80’s All Japan, then they can watch this match — it’s the perfect embodiment of what the independent style in the United States became. There was a point before the end sequence where I felt it necessary to chant “this is awesome” in my office. Ultimately Kobashi wins with the first ever wrist clutch burning hammer and Taue joins a pretty select group (Misawa and Akiyama only) of guys who needed to be put away with a Burning Hammer. For those keeping track, this is Burning Hammer #3 in NOAH and #6 over all. For the historians out there you know that you won’t be seeing the Burning Hammer many more times.

Kenta Kobashi v. Akitoshi Saito (October 24, 2004): This was a bit of a ho-hum match for me until it kind of turned a corner and started to seem like maybe Kobashi got pissed and just mollywhopped Saito. About mid-way through the match Saito goes for a brainbuster on the ring apron, kind of falls too far away from the ring and winds up dropping Kobashi’s spine right across the edge of the mat. It’s brutal looking and completely changed the tone of this match. Suddenly Kobashi seemed legit hurt, could probably have been shoot dead and these two just started wailing on each other. Saito went to the Takayama book of tricks and just unloaded kicks on Kobashi to no avail. At one point Kobashi gets to his feet, hauls back and just cold cocks Saito, like for real just straight up punched him in the mouth. That was followed up shortly thereafter by a BRAINBUSTAH and Kobashi getting his 11th successful title defense. This match wasn’t as good as the three previous matches, but we’re now entering a time where Kobashi is getting legitimately beaten up by his opponents and each win is seeming less and less likely. You can tell that we’re building towards a transition with the belt, it’s just a matter of who it will be that finally unseats Kobashi.

Kenta Kobashi v. The Gladiator (December 4, 2004): Let’s be serious for a minute, thrown right in the middle of a string of matches that were building towards Kobashi finally losing the title, Mike Awesome shows up and there is NO WAY that Mike Awesome is going to become GHC Champion, right? If you’re trying to get your Mike Awesome timeline in order 2004 wasn’t exactly prime Mike Awesome. This is not exactly the end for Awesome, but we’re a couple months away from the WWE “One Night Stand” show which really was the end for Awesome, so he’s knocking on the door. This match doesn’t really work for me, mostly because it just never feels like Awesome has a legitimate chance to win. Even when Kobashi gets powerbombed from the ring apron to the floor, even when Awesome hits about four Awesome Bombs — it always feels like we’re just killing time. That feeling is exacerbated by the fact that Minoru Suzuki is sitting ringside and they keep showing him. You know that we’re not building to Suzuki/Mike Awesome, so you kind of assume throughout the whole match that any heat being built up is ultimately going to be for naught. Kobashi wins, because of course he does, and after the match we set up a defense against Suzuki. The ticking that you hear in the background is the clock running out on Kobashi’s title reign, the end is coming.

Coming Up (Disc 8): Pancrase MISSION comes to NOAH and the end of an amazing run

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The Most Important Disc, GHC Championship History (Disc 6)

First and foremost it’s nice to be back with this project. Somewhere along the line I lost my review of Disc 5 which I promise I will go back and cover but for the time being I’m moving ahead with Disc 6, the most important two match DVD that you can purchase on the History of the GHC Championship. It’s been awhile so if you want to get caught up with where we are check out the previous posts:

Disc 1: In the beginning, there was Misawa

Disc 2: Akiyama Comes and Goes

Disc 3: Misawa Gives Way to Kenta Kobashi

Disc 4: It’s going to be a long journey

Now that you’re caught up (well, except for that missing Disc 5) we pick things up in April 2004. Kenta Kobashi has been GHC Champion since March 1, 2003. He’s had seven (7) successful title defenses when this disc picks up. There are two matches on this disc. They are both fantastic. You should absolutely head over to IVPVideos.com for this set, but if you get only one disc, make sure it has these two matches on it.

Kenta Kobashi v. Yoshihiro Takayama (April 25, 2004): There are certain things in life that are guaranteed – one of those things is that I am going to love a Kobashi/Takayama match. These two could legitimately throw hands today and I’d watch transfixed. There are people who will tell you that Misawa and/or Akiyama were Kobashi’s greatest opponents, I think those people are crazy — Takayama is Kobashi’s greatest opponent, at least as far as this website is concerned. This match features two of my favorite things, Takayama taking an ungodly amount of punishment, and Takayama kicking the dog mess out of Kobashi. Seriously there is a moment late in this match where Takayama just starts kicking Kobashi on the mat, and just wont – stop – kicking. It’s pretty brutal and awesome and it pays off in a big way when Kobashi makes his comeback. This match should’ve ended with a Burning Hammer, but Takayama escaped the Burning Hammer, got caught with a Burning Lariat for two and then the match ended with a Moonsault. By the end, the crowd was on their feet and going nuts. This match is gorgeous and it’s everything I love about Kenta Kobashi, Takayama and the GHC Championship. I highly recommend this one.

Kenta Kobashi v. Jun Akiyama (July 10, 2004): I have a confession to make. I really didn’t *love* this match. If you don’t know, this match received a “five star rating” from Dave Meltzer, and represents what I believe to be the final five star match of Kenta Kobashi’s career. It’s tough for me to agree with that because honestly I thought the Takayama match was better, and the next match (on Disc 7) coming up was better. However, I understand why this match is so highly regarded but to me it felt like a match where the would be a flurry of offense followed by a long rest, followed by a flurry of offense and lather, rinse, repeat. The one thing that I do love about this match is that Kobashi goes for a Burning Hammer SUPER early. The fact that these two guys have a long history. Kobashi used the burning hammer to beat Akiyama in 2000 in All Japan so he knows that it’s going to take him emptying his arsenal to win the match and he goes for it early. It ultimately doesn’t work and it takes awhile to put Akiyama away which he ultimately does do with the Burning Hammer. I honestly wouldn’t recommend watching this match right before the Taue match (which is next up) because even the use of the Burning Hammer is a bit of a let down after you see how Kobashi beats Taue.

Coming up (on Disc 7): The reign of Kobashi continues, and he introduces a new wrinkle to the most dominant finishing move in professional wrestling history.

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All Of Your Nostalgia Are Belong To Us

staredown

It was the final piece of the puzzle. From the moment Shane McMahon showed up in a WCW ring until last night at Survivor Series 4,990 days passed. In that time everything that I loved about WCW had been co-opted by the WWE monolith. My favorite performers found a new home and had their own moments that made the hair on my arm stand up. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio all had their moments. Booker T, Chris Jericho hell even Scott Steiner and Goldberg all had their WWE moments. Everyone and everything that I loved about WCW at some point after March 26, 2001 became a thing that I loved about the WWE.

Except one.

One person never showed up.

For 4,990 days Sting, the heart and soul of WCW for so many years (and the NWA before it) never made the leap to New York. He watched WCW close, his contract wasn’t picked up and he kicked around for a few years before washing out in Nashville and spending a relatively uninspiring decade (11 years actually) in TNA.

Call me whatever type of smark, or mark you want — but last night was about something more than who would be the new Authority in the WWE, last night was closure. For someone who grew up watching wrestling like I did last night was the final piece of the puzzle. The last hold out, the last man standing on an island — Sting, dressed one more time in his Crow gear walked down a WWE ramp, stepped into a WWE ring, and stared down the Chief Operating Officer of the company that put *his* company out of business in 2001.

Is it disappointing that Sting is now 55? That his hair is thin and grey? That he wrestles in a t-shirt and walks like a man who has put serious wear and tear on his body? Yeah. Do I wish it was 2003 and he was standing in the ring with The Undertaker? Of course. But last night Sting stepped into a WWE ring.

I’ve read a lot about Survivor Series last night and I’ve seen criticism about how Sting represents the past and the end of the show was once again a display of the WWE putting history over the future – and that’s not necessarily wrong, but this was different. This wasn’t long time WWE employee Shawn Michaels interfering. This was someone who had spent his entire career running parallel to the WWE, someone who went to war with the WWE, someone who held out as long as he possibly could stepping out of the shadow and interjecting himself in a place that he’d never been.

I also want to talk quickly about Triple H during this exchange, because he was awesome. The Rock had his moment with Hollywood Hogan — this was H’s chance to stand in on history. Everyone thought they knew that Sting was going to show up at Survivor Series. There was a sense that everyone was just waiting for the inevitable throughout the main event. When it finally happened you got a weird reaction from the crowd — there was a moment of relief, and then just a controlled type of pandemonium. People didn’t immediately start changing “THIS IS AWESOME” because they were chanting “HOLY SHIT” but also because those people who aren’t the type to chant “HOLY SHIT” at a WWE show were just enjoying a moment.

During the stare down, when the crowd starts to calm themselves down a bit Triple H gets a look on his face that is not fear, it is not concern, it’s confusion. He says something to Sting, which in my mind was “you’re here NOW?!” It’s kind of a brilliant job by Triple H who on screen has had a great year, and who off screen has ushered in a very interesting time for the WWE but who sold the moment last night as if he couldn’t believe what was happening. “You’re here….NOW!?” For 4,989 days Sting didn’t step foot in a WWE ring — and moments before Triple H’s team won at Survivor Series he decided it was time to show up, it was time to walk that aisle, it was time to check off that box.

Triple H is a great natural rival for Sting. Forget about his office responsibilities, Triple H has for many years been portrayed as a Ric Flair disciple. There is no more natural rival for Sting, no more natural “final match” for “The Icon” than the man who worships at the alter of Sting’s greatest rival. I know he’s 55, and not in ring shape and his hair looks bad and he’s gained some weight and he moves like he’s underwater — but I want to see Sting in a WWE ring — no, I NEED to see Sting in a WWE ring because once that moment happens, all of my nostalgia needs would have been met and we can finally move into the next era for professional wrestling.

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A Look at the Beyond Wrestling #TFT3 Field

This weekend Beyond Wrestling makes their highly anticipated return to Fete Music after an extended break which was absolutely not what they wanted to be doing post Americanrana 2014. They’re coming back with a two day, four show, tag team extravaganza and I’m going to be talking a ton about that this week both here and in the Beyond Wrestling Newsletter. First up, let’s take a look at the field for the actual #TFT3 tournament, maybe the most stacked tag team tournament in the country this week.

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THE OUTSIDERS

 

Da Hit Squad: Monsta Mack and Mafia are legitimately awesome. When I talk glowingly about The Hooligans, just know that I appreciate the ground work that Da Hit Squad has laid down as far as – guys who are really too big to be carrying out this type of offensive attack – is concerned.  That being said I just don’t see a situation where Da Hit Squad make their Beyond Wrestling debuts and upset the apple cart with a huge #TFT3 victory. I can absolutely see a situation where they score an early round upset over the Doom Patrol, but after that it’s curtains for Da Hit Squad.

 

Osirian Portal: I confess that I’m not a huge Osirian Portal fan and that might impact my ranking of them in this piece, but I also can’t see any way that they wind up beating the Juicy Product in the first round. I think the Juicy Product has cooled down considerably from their height before this prolonged (unforced) sabbatical by Beyond but they’re still going to be a tall order for anyone to take down including the Portal. For the record, I like one member of the Osirian Portal significantly more than the other – I’ll let you decide which is which.

 

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO PUT THIS TEAM

 

Doom Patrol: Dickinson and Jaka have the potential to be the proverbial turd in the punch bowl because I wouldn’t be shocked to see them lose in the first round, and I also wouldn’t be shocked to see them win the whole thing. I still feel that Dickinson is suffering from some weird personality disorder where he’s trying to be the craziest, most bad ass guy in the room but doesn’t want to embrace that personality if it means that people might boo him. He’s the best heel in Beyond Wrestling, but lately he’s been acting pretty lame. Jaka for his part is significantly better as a silent killer. There is tension in this union  and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it explode at some point during the tournament.

 

IT COULD HAPPEN

 

Juicy Product: If the #TFT3 took place five months ago I’d say that Juicy Product was a shoe-in for the victory; things have kind of cooled off for JT Dunn and David Starr since then. #TFT3 may be the thing that kick starts them again, but I’m not sure it’ll work out that way.  I think they have unfinished business with the Young Bucks and I’d love to see that get resolved this weekend at Fete Music, but at this point I just don’t think the OAF clan is going to be the last two men standing when the smoke clears.

 

Best Friends: I have no idea how this will work. Trent Baretta is out of the weekend, and Trevor Lee has been named as his replacement for Saturday’s “Alive and Kicking” huge main event. I don’t know if the Best Friends are being replaced on Sunday for the tag team tournament, or if Chuckie T is going to be bringing in a new Best Friend to try and win the tournament. Either way I don’t think Chuck Taylor is going to be able to put DDT4 and #TFT3 on his mantle this year, though that’s not to say that I’d be shocked if it happened.

 

IT SHOULD HAPPEN

 

Da Hoodz: If you’re asking me to pick a team that I wish would win the #TFT3 more than any other I’d pick Da Hoodz in a heartbeat. Nobody will benefit more than Da Hoodz by winning this tournament. Admittedly there is almost absolutely no chance that they’re even getting out of the first round, but holy goodness what a first round match that’ll be with the Young Bucks. I’ve been championing Da Hoodz since the opening match at Americanrana 2013 as Beyond Wrestling’s most underrated talent and I hope that they get the chance with the Bucks to absolutely tear the house down. In my dream they win this tournament by beating the Bucks, Team TREMENDOUS and Juicy Product and put their names at the top of the list with a bullet as *THE* top performers in Beyond Wrestling. In reality they get an amazing 15 minutes with the Bucks and then get handshakes and congratulations for the rest of the night from the Beyond fans.

 

Team TREMENDOUS: If anyone not named Matt and Nick Jackson are going to win this tournament it’s going to be Dan Barry and Bill Carr. Nobody personifies Beyond Wresting more than Team TREMENDOUS, they are the team that everyone looks to, they are the talent that everyone talks about (not named Biff Busick) they are the reason to tune into the show. I have incredibly high hopes for Team TREMENDOUS on this night and while I still think you can’t favor them over the Young Bucks, nothing would make me happier than sitting in Fete Music and cheering for Team TREMENDOUS, standing victorious as #TFT3 winners.

 

THE BEST TAG TEAM IN THE WORLD

 

The Young Bucks: There is not a better tag team in the world. I am overly hyperbolic when I talk about the Bucks, but there might not be a better tag team ever. Under no circumstance do the Bucks need to win #TFT3 (which by the way, is why they won’t win) but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to be the top seed and be the favorites.  The Bucks have unfinished business with the Juicy Product and have been in the ring with Team TREMENDOUS before. If I had to guess I’d say we’re in store for an amazing opening match with Da Hoodz and the finals (a 3 team explosion) will feature the Bucks getting closure with both Team TREMENDOUS and the Juicy Product. If ever a match warranted your hard earned dollar, it was that one.

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Catching Up on Progress: Chapter 14 Reviewed

Havoc

At some point this year I fell dangerously behind on the one promotion that I like to keep current with, PROGRESS wrestling. If you’re not already following PROGRESS you really need to do yourself a service and check them out. I’ve recommended before that Chapter 9 is a great place to start and I’ve reviewed each show since then on this site. Chapter 14, subtitled “Thunderbasterd” took place right around the time that my son was being born which helps explain the delay in getting this review up. While not the strongest chapter from 2014’s amazing slate of shows, Chapter 14 did a lot of things that I liked and continued to build on one of the better stories in all of professional wrestling this year. My overall opinion of this show is that you should check it out, but if you haven’t been invested in PROGRESS yet, you should absolutely start at Chapter 9. It’s a great place to begin delving into the promotion and you’re going to become emotionally invested in the Jimmy Havoc storyline so you might as well jump into where it all starts.

Let’s start with Jimmy Havoc. As we approach the end of the year I’m starting to think about wrestler of the year votes and other than AJ Styles I can’t think of someone who has had a better year than Jimmy Havoc in Progress. Here’s the thing about Havoc, he has molten heat within Progress, but he’s not really cheating to win these matches. His heel turn was expertly done, pitch perfect and one of my favorite wrestling moments in recent memory. The way he became PROGRESS Champion was dirty and helped to create an atmosphere in the company that continues through Chapter 14 (at least). Jim Smallman and PROGRESS management have stacked the deck at every turn against Havoc to get the belt off him and he continues to come out on top. This Chapter it’s Noam Dar, who some people may know from TNA British Bootcamp 2 and others may know as the guy who has his name put into literally every song ever. Havoc was in perfect form during this match and the PROGRESS crowd (always a highlight) played their role perfectly. Early in the match the crowd is singing songs and putting Dar’s name into the lyrics and Havoc just gets tired of it and leaves the ring. Later on, one guy in the crowd tries to start a “JIMM-Y HAV-OC” chant and the rest of the crowd sings together “ON YOUR OWN” it was amazing. The match plays out brilliantly and Jim Smallman has to get involved, but the beauty is that Jim is so much of a good guy that when he is involved, and it looks like Havoc might win, Jim can’t help himself but to count the three for Havoc. It’s a beautiful and perfect moment of a conflicted man doing what is best for his company, not necessarily what is best for himself. I’m telling you this company, and Jimmy Havoc in particular operate on another level. Havoc retains the title, because of course he does and for another month the best villain in all of professional wrestling gets to continue to be Jimmy Havoc.

Samoa Joe on a European Independent Show. I can’t remember the last time I saw Samoa Joe on an independent show but here he is in the Main Event of Chapter 14 against Rampage Brown. This is the match that Joe references during British Boot Camp when discussing Rampage Brown, for the record. I’ve been watching a lot of classic era Joe stuff from Ring of Honor and it makes me sad to see him like this — but here’s the rub, did you realize that Samoa Joe lost the ROH World Championship at Final Battle 2004!! It’s been almost a decade since Joe vs. Kobashi. I bring this up because when I see Joe, still to this day I want him to be the guy who was ROH World Champion for almost two years — and that’s really not fair to Joe. That was a decade ago! I think Joe probably has a brighter light shone on him than his contemporaries from ROH of that era because he was always a bigger guy, he was always more unique and because of that his whole character was based on something different. It’s tough to be a vicious killer for more than 10 years believably, and yeah Joe has gained a lot of weight, but there really isn’t anything noticeably different about Joe’s matches today than from 10 years ago except that they’re a little bit slower, and he doesn’t have the same gravitas as he did back then. “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” stops being threatening when he doesn’t kill you for a generation. I say all of that to just mention that this was a perfectly fine match and I will always love you 2003-2004 Samoa Joe.

Paul Robinson, next level sh*t. Apparently hanging out with someone who is amazing can make you amazing. Paul Robinson, formerly of the Swords of Essex recently turned heel and threw in with the Jimmy Havoc lot. Former partner Will Osprey is not happy about that. In the opening clusterfu*k match (appropriately titled “Thunderbasterd”) Robinson is in first, does his thing — and Osprey comes out third — to which Robinson immediately gets DQ’d and thrown out of the match to avoid Osprey. BRILLIANT! I’m telling you as someone who watches a ton of wrestling – this type of underhanded stuff, that builds characters and tension almost never happens. I think a lot of it probably has to do with the smaller size of the European independent scene and the fact that guys don’t just disappear into the ether like they do Stateside, so you can slow build things. But Robinson being such a dick that he’d rather get DQ’d then have to face Osprey (with a world title shot on the line by the way) is amazing and I loved it. The match was a bit of a cluster for the middle chunk as multi-man matches tend to be – but HOLE-E-SHIT did the final segment kick so much ass. The final two were Will Osprey and Marty Scrull and I can’t even describe to you how amazing that segment was, I’ll just recommend that you go check it out right now. Osprey picks up the win kind of out of nowhere, which kept Scrull strong but also got Osprey to the fireworks factory as his personal beef with the Havoc crew is now perfectly lined up with his title shot opportunity.

Mad Man Manson is delightful. For good reason Grado is the beloved comedy icon of British independent wrestling, but do not sleep on Mad Man Manson who is equally as funny as Grado without the amazing ring entrance. Mason has an open challenge that is answered by super serious Michael Gilbert and the two guys have some fun. It didn’t all work for me, but one of the best things about PROGRESS is that the crowd can sometimes save matches like this one. For instance, during the match Gilbert puts Manson in an armlock, Mason immediately cries out that he doesn’t know any reversals and the crowd — without missing a frickin’ beat starts chanting “HIT R2!” which is legitimately the funniest and most incredible crowd chant that I’ve ever heard at a wrestling show and sometimes I wish I could bottle up the PROGRESS crowd and bring them to Fete Music so I can be a part of them at a Beyond Wrestling show.

It didn’t all work. I could almost certainly just sit here and talk lovingly about PROGRESS but not everything in Chapter 14 was “OMG! best thing everz!” Two matches in particular exist in my mind as just things that happened — the Martin Kirby/Mark Haskins match and the Pastor William Eaver/Chuck Mambo/Ali Armstrong matches both just kind of happened. Both matches had moments that I enjoyed and I certainly understand in a show that is as packed as this one was that you’re going to need some cool down moments but yeah, on a show that was excellent overall these two matches kind of just happened for me.

The London Riots finally lose. Up until Chapter 14 the London Riots had been undefeated. They earned themselves a PROGRESS Tag Title Match against F.S.U. and we got to see the delightful Mark Andrews almost die slipping on a shooting star press to the floor, and then pull of one of the most incredible reversals of a pop up spear that I’d ever seen to win the match with a roll up and give the Riots their first loss. On a show that had some wonderful moments, this was probably the best actual wrestling match that I saw, which is weird that I’m talking so little about it but honestly it was just a great tag team match with a fantastic ending that I would highly recommend.

 

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