Thanks to http://www.digits.com for their badass righteous free counters
James Cobo: Girl, I Didn't Know You Could Get Down Like That
DJC: Let's play pretend.
Pretend, for a second, that you're Gary Yap, upstart wrestling promoter. You've got binding (if liberally biased in the workers' favor) contracts with some of SoCal's hottest professional wrestlers, you've got a TV show running weekly, and your last show had a certain local long-winded blowhard wrestling critic carping about how it was the best show he'd ever been to.
CL: Not to mention his long-winded blowhard associate.
DJC: What other step is there to take, then, but to scare the everliving bejesus out of the aforementioned blowhard by putting up a card that, on paper, looked like the most derivative thing to come down the pipe in a long time? When I saw the lineup, the first thing I thought was that Gary was trying to turn Epic into CZW West; pumping up the pomp on stuff that's guaranteed to be spotty and/or bloody smacks of New Jersey. And while there's not necessarily anything wrong with that - CZW being one of the few wrestling companies with any legitimate foothold on a fanbase naturally opens itself up to imitators - there was so much at the first Epic show that hinted at a different, unique direction.
CL: I was not really stoked about this card at all, save for one match. The other stuff was going to be fun at best, but hey, I skip fun stuff at countless Indy shows every week.
DJC: I will, so as to maintain some semblance of drama, simply say that Epic gave me something totally different than what I was expecting and let my thoughts on the matches speak for themselves.
(Oh, and I have decided to drop star ratings entirely, mostly because I'm terrible at them. Really, really terrible.)
CL: I, as always, remain so bad at them that I won't even bother. I will probably spend some time debating whether certain matches were legitimately "great", which I guess is the best praise I can give it. Or so it would seem…
DJC: There were eleven pre-sold tickets. ELEVEN. I weep for my lost dollar.
CL: They sent out an email on the Friday before the show, to everyone whose email address they had, which of course consisted of the people who had bought their tickets early via PayPal. Of which there were eleven, or possibly ten. It's hard to say. I could have bought a lottery ticket or a Big Gulp or something. It's a damn shame.
DJC: It doesn't hit me until I see the sign denoting parking for an adjutant, but my stoked-ness increased exponentially the moment I realized that I was, in fact, about to see wrestling in an armory (albeit one with a disco ball and five forests' worth of posters for Otra beer plastered all over the joint, but hey). That is cool on so many levels.
CL: I always wanted to see a show at an American Legion Hall; it just seemed like the most stereotypical possible place to see wrestling. Check that off the list.
DJC: If I can find the Heinz logo shirt before next Epic show, you better fucking BELIEVE I'm'a buy and wear it despite the knowledge that I'll look like a squeezed oil drum of ketchup. If Spanky owns one, I need to own one. Ain't no fuzzy math here.
CL: My thoughts on this are available in the Ring of Honor review. The coolest thing was that he was wearing it before the show even started, which would seem to indicate that there may be a chance he wears the Hat when lying about the house.
DJC: Can I officially change my career vocation to "Guy who works the drive-thru at Taco Bell near Spanky's crash pad" to verify? Good.
CL: And I would look pretty badass in said shirt, as I look fucking good in red.
DJC: For some reason, the security guard makes us switch back and forth over the side of the railing we're supposed to be on. He also forbade people to bring in food to this show which featured a FANS BRING THE WEAPONS match. Sometimes you just gotta wonder. Naturally, this ban on food guarantees that they open the doors five seconds after Doron and Jonathan get back with Chris' chicken whatevers, which the guard then made him throw out.
CL: My college thought process pays off, as I have the foresight to cram the remaining Chicken Breast Pieces into my mouth as I approach the front.
DJC: If you took five words out of this sentence, it would be the dirtiest line ever to appear in BTM.
CL: I do have to leave half of my giant soda behind though. The terrorists have won.
DJC: I wonder what the guard would have done if Chris had sprinkled some thumbtacks in his shake.
CL: "Dude, seriously. I'm gonna give it to Sick Nick Mondo, but if I can finish it off first, then I can put in MORE Thumbtacks, so it'll be even MORE hardcore! CZ DUB! CZ DUB!"
DJC: Methinks this clever ruse would have been warded off by Chris' shirt, which emphatically did not feature the ICP in any form.
CL: I actually tried to finish the whole thing in one giant gulp, but soda acid burns. Yes, yes, I am not hardcore.
DJC: They shot some cutaway (I presume) stuff of Mondo and Messiah brawling outside. Those of you looking to trainspot my generous frame, I'm the fat short ugly kid looking really unimpressed right after the first Irish whip. I think I ended up on TV like eleven times per match or something; expect Epic TV's lowest ratings ever.
CL: Said irish whip went right into the part of the rail that I was in front of. So I'm the one who looks generally disinterested until I realize too late that I should get out of the way.
DJC: I seem to recall this being less a disengaged sidestepping and more of a Fosse-esque Leap to Salvation.
CL: I'm several inches taller than James Cobo. NYAH! Also, I get a chance to see Messiah punching up close on Mondo, and yes, the illusion is ruined. Dammit.
DJC: CRIPES was that ring announcer bad; he made Titania look like Jim Cornette with his encyclopedic ignorance of all things pro wrestling. I actually started feeling bad for him around the half-way mark.
CL: I struggle to think of a truly superlative Ring Announcer. But hell, both of EPIC's so far have been really really bad.
DJC: "Pain and Suffering" is a really, really bad name for a show. I mean, what's next - Epic "ARGH ARGH ARGH GRAAAAAAAH"?
CL: I eagerly wait EPIC "OW! MY GROIN!" with some sort of Indonesian Scrotal Deathmatch on top of the card.
DJC: I think there were like four people booing Kozina's no-show, and three of us were sitting right together.
CL: He's no Ruckus!
DJC: Oh MAN is Excalibur like the second-best color guy in the world today (and following Dr. Alfonso Morales ain't a bad place to be).
CL: I still contend that Magadan is the color guy. My only base on this is the RSPW Awards from last year, though, and it should be noted that I nominated both of them, Morales in lead, Magadan in color. Circular logic rules. Either way, Excalibur rules it a whole goddamned lot.
DJC: Eventually non-The Show stuff stops happening and The Show starts.
CL: One of the most impressive things about EPIC is that they start on time.
Disco Machine/Excalibur/Lil Cholo vs. Mr. Excitement/Silver Tiger/TARO
DJC: With SoCal openers, you pretty much know what you're getting - spots, speed, and sporadic selling. This...was no different; if you want a match with deeply buried transitions, then you might look elsewhere. But hey, for what it's worth, this is easily the best one of these that I've ever seen.
CL: The easiest way to characterize this is as your standard Nitro multiman Cruiser match. And were it not for something from CMLL in February or March or so, it would very well be the best Nitro match I've seen all year.
DJC: The centerpiece of the match - and the main thing I really remember about it - was of course the titanic missed-dive-a-thon,
CL: They knew they were basically doing the Nitro Cruiser thing, so naturally the dive-a-thon shows up. However, it was all full of fun and injury.
DJC: which was capped off by an Excalibur I Kill My Back, but which hit its peak with Disco Machine's IN GODDAMN SANE giant double knee press to nowhere.
CL: That was just way too much air, and waaaaaaaayyyy too much landing on potential injury zones.
DJC: It's really, really rare to see something like this; the bumps are obviously going to be huge, and when it's not really leading to a countout or anything it can easily come off as masturbatory. But hell, the difference between this and synchronized topes on CMLL isn't really as big as you'd think; they're more about playing to the aesthetic expectations of the crowd moreso than the audience watching at home. And what makes this particular sequence work so well HERE is the attention to detail - seeing as how it's impossible to not notice the giant green hamster ball bedecked with thumbtacks, you kinda get the impression that the fans are here to see Big Ass Bumps moreso even than Big Ass Moves so, hell, they decided to give 'em a whole lot here.
CL: It also helped that the later missed dives just kept on being set up like this was the one that was finally gonna hit, but alas, none did. They always waited until the very last second to get out of the way.
DJC: The crowd, of course, reacted exactly the right way; saying something's the most heated opening match on a SoCal wrestling card ever might be something of a backhanded compliment, but I swear to god, the place was ROCKIN'.
CL: This or Sabu/Daniels was the third biggest crowd reaction, and given the two above it, that's a pretty nice accomplishment.
DJC: Of course, there was more stuff going on than just in the missed dives. Any match, for instance, where one of the guys builds to an unmodified Exploder as a credible finisher is the kind of thing that makes me a happy Dork for Pro Wrestling, but hey, Mr. Excitement's gotten So. Goddamn. Good lately that you really wouldn't believe me if I told you that he was the same guy as last year. (Ditto for Disco, who really might think about trying out for Mike Modest's Iron company (since he's so much more power-oriented than your average indy junior)). It's the little touches like that that make this match fun; they don't necessarily feel compelled to break out their top-of-the-line moves (not that they don't, of course - Silver Tiger in particular hits a friggin' MOMENTUM GERMAN SUPLEX and I went batshit), but that doesn't stop them from having a really, really good spotfest match.
CL: I prolly wouldn't like this had I seen it on tape first, but sometimes, you gotta do stuff to impress the live crowd, and this did that. It was fun.
DJC: I'm hoping that they do something with Excalibur; he fits into these matches like a glove, but he's REALLY starting to come into his own as a heel, and if they need to feed someone to American Dragon to make him look more credible (BUT FOR WHAT? Read on, true believer), they could do a HELL of a lot worse.
CL: Nothing against the other guys in the match, but they seem to be trying to make a star out of Excalibur,
DJC: One doesn't have to try to make a star out of Excalibur. Promo-wise, he's the Kurt Angle of the indies. *pockets check*
Seriously, he rocks.
CL: via his giant and spectacular role as co-host of the TV Show. It just seems odd to see him start the show. But hey, they seem to be trying to push Joey Ryan too, and he didn't make it to the second half of the show, either.
DJC: Then again, I haven't met the fed yet who can't use a bunch of guys who can fill up ten minutes and get the crowd into the show. It's what they call a win-win situation, I think.
Joey Ryan vs. Frankie Kazarian
DJC: I think it's time for me to give Kazarian his due. Prior to this, I'd seen him underwhelm against Ricky Reyes and in the six-man on the last MPW show, which wasn't exactly a match devoid of talent. Honestly, the best match I'd seen of his up to this point had been the match from January against Phenomenal Phil, and given that that match was more the impetus for me saying Phil is the best enhancement talent in SoCal (not to mention the impetus for me freaking the fuck out at a giant dreidel), I'd say he caught the short end of the stick on that one.
CL: As fine as the January match was, he simply was swept up in the post-match dreidel fever. As were we all.
DJC: Well, here he showed me that I'm totally, totally incompetant. I still wouldn't say he's in the upper echelon of local workers, if only because the talent base was stupefyingly deep BEFORE American Dragon and Spanky started working Epic regularly (?)
CL: And before the SoCal beloved began to get even better…
DJC: but I'll say this - Frankie Kazarian is one of the most valuable wrestlers a fed can have. He's got legitimate in-ring presence, he's not afraid to sell for his opponent, he knows how to tell a very simple story, and when you wrap all three of those things together, you get a guy who's able to have a hand in helping workers grow up REALLY quickly.
The story here, much as in the Phil match, was pretty simple; it was basically "My name is Frankie Kazarian and I'm too good to be wrestling you" vs. "Fuck you, buddy, my name's Joey Ryan and I'm going to make this a MATCH." It doesn't sound like a very deep story because it isn't; it's just your everyday formula match.
CL: The push of Joey Ryan seems to be trying to establish him as the hard-luck guy, who keeps on losing, but giving all this effort and stuff, and eventually he's gonna gut one out against somebody who overlooks him. Or something like that.
DJC: "As Seen On The Most Recent Saves The Day Album". You see it every time Spike Dudley's on your TV screen.
CL: There you go. Like a larger Spike Dudley, except Spike never had a post-coital segment with Molly. Of course, the fun of the character currently is that there seems to be a chance he'll blame all his losing on his valet (Hailey continues to not have an ass, by the way),
DJC: She might just be standing backwards. And on her hands.
CL: and then start winning and hating women, thus becoming Joey Ryan, stereotypical wrestling misogynist.
DJC: What sets matches of this caliber apart - and what sets Frankie Kazarian apart from the lump of workers I was grouping him with - is the respect Kazarian shows to Ryan both in character and in the booking of the match. Most big-man-vs-little-man matches have the big guy destroying the little guy for eight minutes and then the little guy hits three moves for the pin. Here, however, Ryan would hit moves early, breaking up the monotony of the big guy always being on offense.
CL: Kazarian managed to give Ryan some offense without really losing control of the match, which at least gave the impression that Ryan could pull something out eventually.
DJC: What's more, Kazarian actually sold these moves as something of a threat rather than as flukes; he bailed out to the floor after Ryan's very first burst of offense. Of course, he didn't just use the formula to put Ryan over; he looked like a KILLER whenever he'd counter one of Ryan's moves into something powerful (the baseball-slide-into-pumphandle-powerslam attempt sticks out in my mind). The end result was that BOTH guys looked stronger by the match's end, despite the indifference of the crowd.
CL: There were far too many moves at this show which made the pumphandle look like a legitimate position, and I'm not quite sure how.
DJC: C'mon, get with the TYYYYYYYYYYYYYMES, MAAAAAAAAN. It's 2002; the pumphandle's the new punch.
DJC: But I don't want to shortchange Joey Ryan here either. The underdog role is played to goddamn DEATH in American wrestling these days; it takes a certain level of talent to actually play it well without resorting to schtick. Joey Ryan didn't resort to schtick, and he played it really, really well.
CL: I appreciated him not being overly dependent on transitions to offense via shaking his fists like he's channeling his frustration or something.
DJC: I'll admit that my knowledge of Ryan is less than encyclopedic (since my income is less than the five billion dollars a week it would take to see every indy show he's on - he DOESN'T STOP WORKING), so I have no idea how representative of his moveset the match was, but to my dumb ass it sure looked like he was slowly progressing up the impact level of his moveset; he started off with rollups, progressed to hard-hitting counters, and eventually started hitting actual moves. This match may be the rare example of a story best served by NOT building to a finishing move; it worked really, really well with Ryan ratcheting up the volume move by move. Add that to his ability to sell cumulative beatings and there you go - you've got everything you need to make the story run like a well-oiled engine.
Which is great, except the Hailey stuff derailed it totally. I fail to see the purpose in putting her with Ryan; one cannot deny that she is, in fact, a toothsome lass, but all she really adds to a match is five minutes of taking the focus off of whatever Joey was doing in the ring while she sells her ludicrous bumps.
CL: They seemed to have no issue fighting each other, but when Hailey was introduced into the equation, both seemed to work a lot more pensively.
DJC: At one point Kazarian did a slingshot bodypress that landed on her, and I swear to god, he landed on the mat in referee's position. I can't really see where they're going with this either - the meat of the angle seems to be she gets beat up at shows, followed up with pillow talk, NONE of which leads to in-ring stuff. Where can they go from here that'll be beneficial to Ryan? I mean, Hailey won't ever have a problem getting over with the crowds;
CL: Unless the people come to see girls with an ass. Which they don't, being wrestling. There's prolly some paper that needs to be written on the Freudian relationship between Wrestling Fans and Giant, Giant Breasts.
DJC: Hell, why not make her the ring announcer (as she can only be a step up from the two they've had so far) and just let Joey wrestle?
But hey, aside from that, I really did think this match was surprisingly good. I really hope they keep bringing Kazarian back (and if he wants to bring a few friends from Zero-One I won't complain)
CL: Great. Now the next show is gonna be filled with Mark Kerr and the Predator. I still fear the Z1 in America shows are gonna be UPWtastic, rather than Z1 with Samoa Joe and Spanky and so on. And hopefully they'll have a booth set up where I can throw stuff at Naoya Ogawa.
DJC: hell, I want him to wrestle Ruckus instead of B-Boy, simply because I think he'd be able to tailor something which, while not as ambitious, would certainly fit Ruckus' style better. And Joey, well, I'm glad to see that Joey turned out to be more than one of the endless parade of enthusiastic young wrestlers. It will be VERY interesting to see how he wrestles Rising Son; he proved here that he's got the basics down enough to put together a very decent match, and lord knows he's got more than enough enthusiasm to make him try to go the extra mile.
CL: Since James took a while,
DJC: THE DEVIL YOU SAY~
CL: I can bring an update on that: the match itself was pretty good at trying to work around a story (Rising Son as tiny underdog and defender of RevPro), but it was a little listless. Neither seemed to be working at full potential, and the crowd again seemed to die off in the Main Event. Nothing at that show really held up to the slaughter of Jon Talwar, though.
B-Boy vs. Pinoy Boy
DJC: Here's the thing about Pinoy Boy: he's a man out of time and place. He's SUCH a good little wrestler - he doesn't usually try anything totally out of his league, and he's plastic enough to play just about any role that's required of him. Additionally, if this match is any indication, he's become one of the most graceful fliers on the indy scene period; it's just that for the most part, his flying stuff is unspectacular (the big exception being the MANLY springboard tornado DDT which had me freaking the FUCK out), but it always looks really natural and REALLY good. He just has the misfortune of being that kind of wrestler in a region where fans pop big for stuff being fancy, and that just isn't him (yet, anyway). I'd say there's a decent chance that if he signed on to work a few shows outside of the SoCal scene, in a region that isn't so inundated with wrestling that fans become used to having their expectations topped, he'd get Very Very Over and take a big step towards becoming a serious player on the indy scene.
CL: I watched this a week ago, so I'm a little hazy. I suppose I can say that Pinoy Boy didn't do anything that seemed off, so maybe I'm just being a less attentive viewer.
DJC: B-Boy is B-Boy; what more can you say? Even his run-of-the-mill stuff, which is what I took this match as, comes off better than every indy wrestler in America except for like, ten guys.
CL: I haven't seen a ton of indy guys, but even then I don't think I'd put B-Boy up at the top. He keeps on building up his matches well, but then he goes and has these weird-ass finishing sequences, and I lose all the buzz. He wrestles well, but it just doesn't really play to me.
DJC: Sure, the most common complaints were there - mostly involving selling, as in how monotone it tended to be and how he sold some specific moves - but he made up for it by keeping a tight grip on the throttle of the match, and speaking strictly from a live perspective, that's a whole hell of a lot more important. I mean fuck, the fans there for the Ganso Bomb kickout - how many do you think were screaming "OH MY GOD MISAWA YOU ASS FREAK" as compared to the number screaming "OH MY GOD KAWADA MADE A HOLE IN THE RING WITH MITSUHARU'S HEAD"?
CL: "AND MISAWA KICKED OUT BECAUSE HIS HEAD IS MADE OF INVINCIBLE!"
DJC: This isn't to excuse his shortcomings, of course; but I mean c'mon - complaining about the selling in the US indies is like complaining Anna Kournikova playing tennis badly. DUH. That's not why you're there.
CL: Well, Mr. Complacency, I will disagree. It's that sort of thing that leads to people calling rather undeserving matches the best match of the year and stuff.
DJC: Well doy. But a match can be perfectly acceptable entertainment without uber-deep selling, and this was the best one of those matches I've seen in a while.
And...that's pretty much all I have to say about this match. Some matches that come off great live because of spot-on execution, well-controlled pacing, and interesting characters don't really warrant their depths being plumbed. That being said, it didn't look like they were trying to craft anything particularly high-concept here, just play up the whole B-Boy is a Big Swinging Dick on the Indy Circuit vs. Pinoy Boy Isn't story and let Pinoy Boy get some sneak offense in.
CL: It was a different type of match than I've seen B-Boy in recently, and he seemed pretty comfortable working it.
DJC: In those terms, the last match did it better up until the Hailey tomfoolery; B-Boy's best role is playing the guy who will kick your ass for you, as opposed to Kazarian who can play the Cliff's Notes big guy at the drop of a hat.
CL: Kazarian also seems to naturally exude "I am a bigtime dick" charisma. The fun thing is, he really hasn't done a ton to really warrant such a thing. "Yeah, here comes the bigtime. I teamed with Motherfucking NOVA. Aw yeah." Still, he is Frankie Big-Time Kazarian.
DJC: What this match showed, though, was a metric ton of potential. B-Boy is SO close to being this year's AmDrag/Super Dragon/Low-Ki, a fact that is quickly driven home just by watching how well he can sync up with the flow of a match, and Pinoy Boy (if he changes his name) could be that guy in two years. I can live with a match that shows that much promise, even if it's doesn't set my world on fire, and ESPECIALLY if even if yada yada, it's still really, really fun to watch.
CL: Again I must confess to being not nearly as attentive as young James, so I'll just say this was fun to watch. At this point I was pretty much expecting everything to be good.
DJC: And then tuck your pants into your socks, 'cause the crap started flowing ankle-deep for a while.
CL: Stupid Expectations.
Havana Pitbulls vs. Arkangel de la Muerte/Piloto Suicida
DJC: Well, some stuff happened, then it happened again, then again and again and again. For like fifteen minutes. No stiff strikes of note from the Pitbulls, no particularly athletic moves of note by Suicida (outside of a MONSTROUS plancha to the outside), no spectacular fuckups by Arkangel...yeah, this was nothing you'd want to see. I think it went south when they decided to tread the middle ground between the strike-oriented Pitbulls style and the flash-oriented luchadores' style, which sounds great in theory but in reality leaves you with a match that's half gimpy strikes and half low-end armdrag sequences. I'm not really saying a whole lot here because (a) it's four days after the fact as I write this, (b) I'm sick, and (c) there really wasn't anything much to remember.
CL: It's eight days post facto at this point, so I remember even less. But it just seemed pretty much like an unengaging sort of match. The talent was there, I suppose, but the path they took didn't really showcase anybody. Bonus points for Arkangel not doing the damned People's Legdrop, though.
DJC: But I hope that it leads to Pitbulls vs. Ballards at the next show, because I can't see that being anything less than entertaining.
CL: I do believe they had that at the last MPW show (which sadly, was the Last MPW show ever), and it was pretty much let's-beat-the-hell-out-of-each-other fun.
DJC: And then OH GOD NO HERE COMES PERRO RUSO. Apparently I need to go to Wrestling Catholicism's version of confession before I recieve the blessings of messrs. Dragon, Dragon, Spanky, and Joe.
CL: Through Great Suffering there is Great Reward. If the Tag Match is manna from heaven, then Perro Russo here serves as one, if not several, of the plagues. Look out! Frogs!
Perro Ruso vs. Vampiro
CL: It should be noted that I'm not sure how you spell his name, so I'll just call him Perro Russo, so as to further establish the tie to both Perro Aguayo, bane of lucha, and Vince Russo, bane of Sportz Entertaynment.
DJC: I actually enjoyed Vampiro more here than any of the other times I've seen him at an indy show (and I think this is my second time, although who am I to sift through the sands of time?). His offense looked pretty crisp for the most part, and considering that he was in the ring with the worst goddamn wrestler I've ever seen live in my life - worse than Big Haystacks, worse than Crayz, worse than both of the friggin' Beautiful People put together - I couldn't really ask for more than that. Outside of that, of course, this may have been the worst match I've ever seen live.
CL: This match suffered the biggest derailing I've ever seen live. The match was sucking along, and then…
DJC: The Wedgie of Eternal Torment, of course, was the icing on the Cake of Crap that was this match. Bleh.
CL: He spent ten minutes with his tights up his ass, and nobody was paying attention, and it just went on and on and on. It just couldn't have derailed more, not even if a literal train had come into the arena and started mowing down the people on the other side of the ring. As of course, a train coming on our side would preclude us from doing this report. Yeah. Think about it.
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