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Buster Time Digest #3 - Part 2
So I'm all done with the AAA, and I decide to treat myself with some CMLL. Except I say to myself, "Well sir, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. isn't what I'd call a treat, unless you like an escape from talent or non-boredom or something…" So I ran through a few of my favorites. This will probably be an ongoing thing, just because it allows me talk about Shocker without having to talk about the Boriquas.
© vs. Dr. Wagner Jr., CMLL Semicompleto Campeonato (Aired 4/9/02)
It's been suggested by many that this was some sort of Statement Match, Shocker and Wagner sending a message to the New Japan representatives who came with Shibata, Inoue, Takemura, and Singh, saying, "Remember when we were in BOSJ last year? You should do that again. Here's why." And so they throw something out there that isn't a pure lucha match at all.
Wagner can be a very smart worker when he wishes to be, and one would think the whole Doctor title would mean something, but his character is rarely crafty or quick-witted. Maybe it's just that whenever he talks, especially in English, he sounds certifiably insane, but Dr. Wagner comes across as more physical than mental much of the time, and here he spends the match as the more aggressive of the two. Once Shocker's knee buckles after being dropkicked, Wagner's attack becomes incredibly simple throughout the rest of the first fall and most of the second, dropkicking Shocker in the wounded knee, then turning it into a figure four. The method works to take the first fall, so Wagner sees no reason to try anything fancy. He doesn't even seem like he's trying to win as much as smash Shocker good: he blasts Shocker with a Wagner Driver in the third fall, and keeps pulling Shocker up from pinfalls at two, as if to show just how deadly he and his pseudo-martinete finisher can be. Naturally, this ends poorly for him.
Shocker, on the other hand, would seem at first appearance to lack a certain intelligence. You just don't expect to see such brilliance in the ring from a guy who comes out in some sort of red pleather outfit covered in rhinestones. Yet, were Shocker not the craftier wrestler in this match, he'd be destroyed by Wagner; the Doctor takes the first shot in every exchange during the mat sequences that start off the match, but Shocker always ends up in control when they break. Whoever decided to make Shocker and Satanico, arguably the two most intelligent wrestlers in CMLL right now, capable of being either rudo or tecnico as the situation permitted, was brilliant. A full tecnico turn deprives them of being giant bastards, which they both do so well, and keeping them rudos would seem impossible given that the crowd loves them. Shocker works pretty much full-tecnico here, outwrestling Wagner throughout. He even manages to stop Wagner's reliance on the two-move knee attack, reversing it into a cradle to take the second fall, and then doing it again at the start of the third to throw off Wagner's game.
Here the match goes in a fairly lucha form, as the tecnico begins to hit his first major offense of the match, with various dives and lots of running strikes. The knee doesn't take this too kindly, and Wagner is able to return with violence. Of course, this eventually leads to the aforementioned Wagner Driver blasting. The continued pulling-up after it manages to allow the match to continue while still maintaining how deadly the move is, as Wagner ends up going for more punishment, setting up for a Crucifix Powerbomb. Our hero has managed to recover enough to escape out of it, smart wrestler that he is, and it leads to the win with the Abdominal Stretch Pin.
If you like matches without a lot of excess, this is one to get. Right from the start there's the matwork which shows Wagner as the more aggressive and Shocker as the more clever, a theme which rolls on throughout the match. I can't recall a single move that seemed unconnected to the rest of the match, and this leads to a They wrestled a match last year during Best of the Super Juniors which was kind of like the opposite to this match, wrapping lucha moves and sequences around the framework of a New Japan Junior match. There, they did a fairly standard submission exchange sequence around the middle, except they were exchanging your traditionally crazed lucha submissions, and Shocker also hit a giant Tope Con Hilo, which proved to be a bit out of place in the arena and sent him right into the people in the front rows. Mexico seems to be the only place where the people are smart enough to get out of the way when a guy launches himself in their general vicinity. This is why Black Warrior can't work in America or Japan. There'd be lawsuits. Anyhow, this match felt somehow closer to Tokyo than Mexico City, lacking the looseness seen in your average Great CMLL match. They worked it around three falls, and they incorporated a solid tecnico-rudo structure, which was a bit missing from their Japanese encounter, although they were both full-on rudo back then. Toss in the Shocker-Charles match from the December PPV, which felt like a WWF main event more than anything, and Shocker might well be the most versatile wrestler in the world right now. At any rate, I demand to see him square off against Chris Benoit for the right to that title.
Boyz v. The Dudley Boyz v. Edge & Christian v. Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho
TLC III - Smackdown - 5.24.01
We open with a face off. Edge is the first to jump and we're off! The other six guys forget their rivalry and gang up on the champs, stomping them into the corner. E&C go to the floor and grab a ladder, less than 30 seconds in. They set it up mid-ring and go for the quick win. Buh Buh and Matt will have none of that though. The Hardyz and the Dudleys face off and start swinging. D-Von whips Matt into the ropes and nails him with a back elbow. In the opposite corner, Jeff is down and Buh Buh stands above him, on the second rope. He leaps off, but Jeff avoids his Dick Togo-esque fat ass senton. The Hardyz whip him into the corner and Matt tosses the ladder at him. They whip D-Von into the corner as well. Jeff nails him with Poetry in Motion. They set up for the same on Buh-Buh, but he launches the ladder into Jeff, basically killing him while he's in midair. Ouch.
The champs re-enter the ring, carrying a ladder of their own. Jericho nails Matt in the head with it while Benoit gives Buh-Buh a snap suplex onto the first ladder. Jericho takes out D-Von and the champs stand alone in the ring. Jericho puts a ladder on the top rope in the corner. He and Benoit whip D-Von into it. E&C are back in to work over the champs. They stomp them into the mat for a bit and run through Benoit with a ladder. Edge puts the ladder in the corner, bridging the bottom ropes. They give Jericho a drop toehold onto the ladder and start climbing toward the belts. Matt comes in, powerbombs Christian off of the ladder and takes his place. He and Edge trade punches at the top until Benoit pushes the ladder over. Buh-Buh jumps him from behind and lays in a series of chops in the corner. He pulls him to the floor, leaving the ring empty of all but ladders.
On the floor, Jericho gives Matt a knee to the face. He places him on a table that is sitting near the aisle. Jeff runs in and knocks him away though. He rams Jericho into the ringpost as we see Benoit climbing to the top rope in the background. He dives toward Matt, who's still laid out on the table. Matt moves and Benoit goes splat! In the ring, Jericho and Jeff Hardy set up two ladders side by side in the center of the ring. They start climbing up one side as the Dudleys go up the other. Buh-Buh wins the race to the top, but can't quite reach the belts. So he turns his attention to knocking Jericho off of the ladder. Jericho doesn't like that idea, so he fires back. On the other ladder, Jeff knocks D-Von to the mat. Buh-Buh then knocks Jeff off and Jericho finishes things off by bulldogging him to the mat. Everyone is down at this point. On the floor, Tazz is checking on Benoit. He calls out the trainers, who stretcher Benoit away. This is a convenient excuse for us to take a...
When we return from break. Edge is the lone figure in the ring. He's going for the win, but Jericho climbs up behind him and cuts him off with a forearm to the back. Edge ends up laying face down across the tops of the two ladders. Instead of going for the win in light of his partner's injury, he decides to be fancy and lock Edge in the Walls of Jericho. This looks cool as hell. Christian quickly climbs up and breaks the hold. He pushes Jericho off of the ladder, causing him to land in the ropes. Jericho rolls to the floor to recover, leaving E&C alone in the ring. As E&C desperately go for the belts, the Dudleys and Matt Hardy change that, though. The Dudz topple Christian's ladder and he bumps straight to the floor. I really wish he'd stop taking that bump. It can't possibly be safe.
That leaves Matt to topple Edge's ladder. He at least crotches himself in the ropes before hurtling to the floor. The ladders are again set up side by side and the Dudleys and Hardyz race to the top. They trade punches and D-Von hiptosses Matt off. He goes off with him, which seems to be faulty in logic. Of course, maybe he has to go off in order to protect the person who's taking the bump. I know not. I just know that, in context of the rules of the match, it makes little sense. Anyway, Buh-Buh tears Jeff's shirt and starts laying in chops to his exposed chest. He lifts him up and suplexes him off of the ladder. Damn! Once again, everyone involved is down.
We cut to the entranceway, where Chris Benoit is hobbling back to the ring, clutching his ribs. Huge pop for this. He rolls into the ring and tries to end things. Edge yanks him off of the ladder before he can reach the belts though. Benoit starts chopping the hell out of both Edge and Christian, but the odds catch up to him fairly quickly. Christian stomps away at his ribs as Edge goes to the floor to collect some chairs. They hit him with a Conchairto to the ribs. At first, I thought this looked pretty lame because Benoit so obviously offers up his midsection as a target. As they replayed it though, I realized the subtle psychology of the move. Benoit is actually raising his arms to protect his head, at the expense of opening up the bad ribs to attack. It wasn't much more than a week ago that Jericho was selling the effects of the Conchairto, so it makes sense in that context.
At any rate, Benoit is left in a fetal position on the mat, screaming in pain. That also means that it's the Dudleys turn to re-enter the ring. They do and D-Von tosses Christian to the floor. They hit Edge with the Wazzup headbutt and D-Von does in fact get a table. It replaces the ladders in the center of the ring. Jericho is back in. He nails Buh-Buh in the back with a chair. He turns and jabs D-Von in the gut with it. He drops him with a chairshot to the back. He drops his chair, then turns and gets leveled by a chairshot from Christian. Jericho rolls back to the floor. Christian puts Buh-Buh onto the table and sets up a ladder in the corner. He climbs to the top, setting up for whatever, but D-Von cuts him off. He grabs Christian in a waistlock as Buh-Buh rolls off of the table. D-Von falls back...3D through the table!!
Buh-Buh staggers to the ropes and the Hardyz pull him to the floor. He does all right against two guys until Matt nails him with one of the monitors. Jeff sets up the monster ladder next to the announce table. Buh-Buh gets back to his feet, but Matt blasts him with a chair. Jeff sets up a second, smaller ladder, perpendicular to the first. Matt rolls Buh-Buh onto the announce table as Jeff climbs up the small ladder. He leapfrogs the big ladder and drives Buh-Buh through the table with a legdrop! Insane. In the ring, D-Von is starting to climb toward the belts. Matt comes in and grabs a second ladder. He sets it up next to D-Von's and follows him up. They briefly trade punches and Matt kills him dead with a Twist of Fate off of the ladder.
D-Von looks like he lands at about a 30-degree angle...head first. To those of you who aren't mathematically inclined, let me explain this in three simple words: That ain't good. As D-Von lays on the mat twitching, Matt goes for the belts. Jericho is back in, carrying a chair. Matt sees him coming though, kicking it back into his face. Jericho stumbles into the ropes, then rebounds off, falling into the ladder. Matt topples off, landing gut first on the top rope before bumping to the floor. Jericho sets up the ladder. He puts it near the corner though, which makes no sense. There's no one in the ring that he can leap onto, and there's no way he could possibly reach the belts from that distance without leaping off of the ladder. He starts climbing anyway.
Meanwhile, Edge climbs to the top of the other ladder in the ring. Jericho reaches toward the belts, then turns in the other direction. Edge spears him off of the ladder, damn near landing on top of him. They're both down. Hell, EVERYONE is down at this point. Well, everyone except Chris Benoit, that is. He rolls back into the ring and sets up a ladder mid-ring. He's selling the ribs with everything he's got, so this takes him awhile. He oh-so-slowly starts climbing the ladder, basically using one arm the entire time. He finally gets to the top and manages to grab the belts to get the win. The crowd goes insane for all of this. They show replays off all the crazy bumps and we fade out as the Chrises celebrate atop the ladder. Even then, Benoit is still selling the ribs.
Wow. This was one hell of a match. Whether it was better than the Raw tag match earlier that week (Austin/HHH vs. Benoit/Jericho) depends entirely on your preference of wrestling styles. But standing alone, this was the best spotfest in the history of WWF television. I personally would call it the best match of it's kind, simply because Benoit and Jericho instill the psychology that these matches so desperately need. It wasn't flawless, as "slow climb-itis" once again reared its ugly head. There isn't much of a way around that though, so I don't find it to be as big a problem as some. There were the one or two instances where the actions of the wrestlers were anything but logical, but again, there might be reasons there that I'm not aware of. Anyway, if you haven't seen this...find it. It's arguably the best of the TLC matches.
Lagunera (Blue Panther/Dr. Wagner Jr. (Captain)/Fuerza Guerrera) © vs.
Los Guerreros del Infierno (Tarzan Boy (Captain)Rey Bucanero/Ultimo Guerrero),
CMLL Campeonato Mundial de Tercias (Aired 4/02/02)
This match plays out like a College Football game. It ultimately can't really live up to its true potential, which would seem closer to one of the Really Good Super Bowls or one of the NFC Championships in the early 90s to see which team would annihilate the Bills or the Broncos. But to compare it to one of the big Bowl Games that's good enough to compensate for a sucky BCS Championship Game isn't out of the question. At any rate, I thought this was better than the Cibernetico that preceded it. Maybe I'm still not sold on Mascara Magica. Or maybe Juventud's street clothes amused me too much. Anyhow…
You've got the team full of all kinds of talent that has yet to properly come together as a unit vs. the team that is based around being a unit. The Laguneros came into the match with the titles, but there's a difference between the GdI and other teams. And so the GdI turn the first fall into the attack of the three-headed monster, absolutely steamrolling the Champs, and doing it in style. In the Metaphor Bowl, this is more or less like GdI putting up a 14-0 lead within the first five minutes, with the Lagunera offense looking weak, and now coming back out with the deer in the headlights look. (2:01) This is one of the fun things you can have when every match is 2/3 Falls: One side can get squashed like a bug and still have a chance. GdI have had better "We Will Kill You Now" segments, though.
But it wouldn't be as much fun if it just kept on being a squash. But you can't just work out of a big deficit without someone stepping up and taking charge. That man is Blue Panther. He seizes the opportunity after Everybody else in Arena Mexico recoils from seeing Tarzan Boy DIE on the unforgiving tile floor, and sets up the gameplan. He leads his partners in a systematic elimination of each Guerrero one by one, and all of a sudden it's a game. Fuerza Lagunera seems to come together as a unit in the midst of having their ass kicked, and Panther rises up as the leader. (4:11) This would be more logical if Panther and Wagner hadn't already teamed with Black Warrior for a long while back in the day, but you take what you can get. The best performance I've seen out of Panther since at least the Panther/Warrior/Shocker vs. Santo/Casas/Niebla match from last year that ruled a whole lot.
And so we get the final quarter, where it's all on the line. The previous two falls were about Lagunera falling in a hole and then getting back out of it, so they can spend all of this fall racing to get the win. And everyone starts pulling out the stops, as Rey and Ultimo continue their epic quests to mangle their anterior cruciate ligaments amidst a sea of big dives. Panther doesn't take as dramatic a role in this fall, instead serving more to set up Fuerza and Wagner's chances to take down Tarzan Boy, who despite almost always being the Captain, is almost always the weakest link as well. Wagner's pin seems to suggest Lagunera asserting themselves as rightful champions, which just doesn't seem possible after the first fall. (4:11; Total Match Time 10:23)
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