February 09, 2018

WrestleParty 2018: Delayed Gratification

Buddies, pals, countrymen,
I know we were all over-the-moon excited at the prospect of getting together to watch some weird old wrestling this evening.  As usual, it's been too long.  I wonder how often an ideal amount of time between marathons would be.  Maybe two or three months apart?  Maybe even six apart, but only once a year or less is a shame.  Such are the pangs of adulthood, as our elusive confluence of schedules sluggishly continues to narrow.  I expect this will make future marathons all the sweeter, as the hours of whimsy and silliness will be the hard-won reward for our patience.  In the deficit of our cancelled wrestlethon, and in spirit of its wouldabeen levity, I'd like to share this post.  Ya see, when we started planning the get-together just a couple days ago, I immediately began formulating a viewing plan, and much downloading ensued.  Don't worry, my ratios are healthy as fuck.  But now I have all this cool stuff that I can't wait to watch, but don't want to watch by myself!  To somewhat alleviate my curiosity, and to give me a sense of socialization in lieu of there being actual people in my house, I'm going to give you guys a series of imagined descriptions of shows and matches which we might watch together someday, but until then will wait un-watched in a folder in my computer called "WrestleParty 2018".  Til then, a fantasy, my friends.

AJ Styles vs Jerry Lynn vs Low-Ki Triple Ladder Match: TNA 2002
This was great.  When Low-Ki did the backflip butterfly kick right into Mr. JL's inner heart area I thought I was gonna be sick, but 10 minutes later he did that package megadriver on the pile of ladders with Ki and I was all like, damn paybacks a bitch, and we laughed.  It was especially interesting to be able to compare AJ's working punches from 16 years ago to today.  Everything else is the same, but his working punches are so "nice and snug" now.  This was also fun because we were each rooting like crazy for a different competitor.  Poncho's favorite won, predictably.

Bryan Danielson vs Tommy End: wXw 2010
This 9-minute match is an interesting time capsule for this German promotion which for many years has been bringing in top guys from all over the world.  Our biggest takeaways were how cute DBD was/is, and what excellent decisions the young Aleister Black will make in his future selection of tattoos.

Manami Toyota (pack of 13 matches, 8 of which were Meltzer-rated 5 stars)
I brought this to our last Wrestlethon in Eugene, and it didn't make the cut.  We didn't get to it this time either, mostly because of Rusty's insistence that "all women are a bitch" and "girls can't wrestle shit".  Someday we will watch this and it will blow our minds.  Especially Rusty's.

New Beginning in Sapporo: NJPW 2018
This was just so Poncho and Marshall could mark out about the recent New Japan show in front of Rusty, who is aware of it but I'm guessing hasn't seen it.  We skipped through every match to get to the break-up, the save, and that magical fucking hug that I made Alice watch last week while I raved about it's implications. 

Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega: DDT 2012 (2 seperate matches)
As the Golden Lovers are now the most interesting thing in wrestling, it seemed very time-appropriate to pull out some of the highlights in these guys' long back catalogue.  These matches were the only ones I could find to download, and I think they were fantastic but all I really remember is how we talked about gay stuff the whole time.  Did every match end with red confetti, or was that in my dreams?

Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12
More New Japan that Poncho and I have seen (in this case, together), but if Rusty hadn't gotten to it yet, was well worth re-watching because there's a lot to appreciate, especially in the sharing.  Even if Rusty had also seen this already, I think we might all have re-watched it anyway.  This is a great match to watch in a group.

Kazuchika Okada vs Katsuyori Shibata: NJPW 2017
Yeah, again, seen it already, Poncho's seen it too.  I've cited it as my fave of the year, so wanted to have it available to suggest if you guys were into it.  Didn't happen this time around.

Kazuchika Okada vs Tomohiro Ishii: NJPW from G1 Climax 26, 2016
The final thing which I'm sure both Poncho and I have seen.  This was a phenomenal tournament match, and a singles pairing which had only happened (I think) once before, and never since.  The dominant faction leader Okada against his game stable-mate who brought the fucking NOISE!  I think Meltzer gave this one five, but who cares.  I refused to let anyone go to bed until we watched this and it put goosebumps up our arms and we stayed up gossiping until dawn.

The Latest Episode of iMPACT
Too busy gossiping, don't remember.  Something something Austin Aries?

WCPW Refuse to Lose, October 2017
The last time we did a wrestlethon, Rusty was real keen to hear what was going on with his favorite dude from the wrestlethon before that- Speedball Mike Bailey.  Unfortunately, in the interim he'd been barred from entering the US, majorly hampering his visibility.  Since then, he's wrestled for DDT in Japan (as I learned from a recent Botchamania, here's a link, skip to 7 minutes, 37 seconds) and probably a bunch of other promotions outside the US.  He's on this British show, across the ring from the one and only Jay Lethal.  We loved it.  It was great to see that he came up with so many cool new signature moves that Naomi hasn't wretchedly co-opted (yet), and maybe even greater to see that he's wearing shoes now.  Blinking neon light-up shoes.  You go, Mike Bailey.  It was also great to see him face, of all people, the ersatz gatekeeper of ROH, which would be the perfect company to help grant him a work visa to get him back into our fucking country.  My, what a tangle!  The great wrestling continues!

Keiji Mutoh vs Genichiro Tenryu: NJPW 1999
The moves, the moves the moves.  I mean, I could list all the moves we saw (95% coming from Great Muta) but what's the point.  We will never forget the experience of watching this match together.  I could just close my eyes and let it wash over me.  Dean Ambrose eat your heat out.

All-Star Weekend 13: PWG 2017
This was a double-card, a two-night, two-DVD affair, but we just skipped to the final three matches of night two- Zack Sabre Jr vs Walter, Rey Horus vs Matt Sydal vs Trent, and Chuck Taylor vs Ricochet.  Poncho and I calmly but pointedly debated the idea of competitive legitimacy in PWG as compared to WWE while Rusty quietly marked the fuck out.

Portland Wrestling: December 3rd 1977
I got this because during a promo some dude eats glass.  He died a couple months later.  Also I got it because it happened in Portland, where we all met each other.  Smiiiiiles!!!!  :)  :)  :)  :D

NWA Pro 1990
The icing on our wrestlecake, this proto-WCW show on TBS featured tons of stuff we're all familiar with but hadn't yet seen in this format.  The torrent I downloaded from had almost every week from that year of show, and all the files were huge, so I cherry-picked 10 episodes.  We're talking Black Scorpion promos, the original Horseman lineup, an El Gigante promo, Mike Thor jobbing to JYD, Bob Holly jobbing to Ric Flair, a cherubic Tony Schiavonne happily announcing matches, Mark Callous vs jobbers, Doom vs jobbers, Steiners vs jobbers, Freebirds and Rock and Roll Express vs jobbers, I mean if you like jobbers you can't go wrong with these wrestling cards, Stan Hanson vs jobbers, Lex Luger vs a jobber called "Death Row", Sting promos, Teddy Long promos, Sid Vicious promos, Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman tagging, a fucking Johnny Ace match...  so obviously we got sucked into the vortex of this wrestling dreamgasm, and I'm writing this post from the ecstasy of postNWApro existence, on the far side of what might popularly be referred to as the "real world", where we all now reside, frozen in giddy hysteria, and I'm writing this not to you, my friends, but on our behalf, to the world at large, should anyone take notice, please you gentle reader heed our cry for HELP.

That was fun to imagine, but I know that the real thing would be even funner because you two make me lose control laughing from outta nowhere, which I can't say about many people.  I was especially looking forward to regaling Rusty with tales of the indy shows that Poncho and I have been going to together.  For a while I've even been thinking of doing a Greatest Hits blogpost for the stuff that's made me laugh most from those shows (it'll be 80% Poncho Man heckles, chants, and antics).  As I told him after the most recent show we attended together, it took me a couple shows to understand how to appreciate the experience to its fullest.  It's not like watching WWE or NJPW or ROH or PWG or whatever other indy.  And forgive me if my newfound perception is banal, but I'd never really understood how to approach an indy wrestling presentation before, it had always felt awkward to me, like, too-close physically.  So I had stressy second-thoughts about going for the first several times, and once (I don't remember the specifics) didn't make it a priority and didn't make it to the show.  Now it's probably my favorite social thing to do, even if "social" means going to an Elk's Lodge a quarter-full of obese hillbillies and openly, hypocritically laughing at them while they aborb the thing that I also love.  So instead of telling an NWWA:Corvallis story, I'll tell you guys a non-wrestling story that happened today.  Please promise not to tell anyone.

I work in a small office.  A couple other people there usually.  There are about 50 people who work for the company though, some out at rock quarries, some out at machine shops, some driving trucks, blah blah whatever.  I like it, it's fine, again, whatever.  A mechanic comes into the office for paperwork blah blah, just got back from hip surgery.  Nice guy as I am, "How ya doin man, good to see you again."  He says the pain is gone.  He's a really nice, quiet, simple-seeming dude.  Doing real well, they did a hell of a surgery, take a look.  Out comes the phone, here, take a look at this picture.  Now I'm looking at a frontal XRay of this dude's pelvis, from hip to hip, navel to mid-thigh.  I was pretty stunned at first, I didn't say anything for a couple seconds.  If I had, I might've said something to the effect of "Damn [name redacted], your dick's as big as your femur."  to which he may have responded "Um, huh huh yeah".  But instead he realized what I was looking at, smartly used a pointing finger to both cover the central bits of the image and point toward the off-center site of the surgery.  This is the story.  I saw an XRay of a nice big old dick this morning.  Little did I know it would be the highlight of my day.  QM out.

January 16, 2018

2017, W(w)e Hard[L]y [K]New(jpw) Ye(hi, Fred)

Ummmm get it?  I think my zeal for wordplay has been outpaced by my ineptitude at... wordplay.

So, it's two weeks into January, and every wrestling pundit on the net besides us posted their year-end thoughts at least a month ago.  I think I wrote one in October once.  But how mature, how self-possessed we must be to allow ourselves some breathing room to really savor and dwell on the entirety of the past 12 months, to really challenge ourselves to take in a broad scope of understanding, meditate on it, and then pick apart some nuance and delve into the finer details during this time of reflection.  Or, maybe I've just been procrastinating writing this, which feels more obligatory than imperative.

That's not to say there hasn't been plenty to be excited about this year, it's just that most of it has already been lauded to the point of exhaustion, with the 5 stars, 6 stars, 7 stars, etcetera.  Let this post serve not to beat a dead horse, but to serve posterity as being the shiniest beacon of pure, wholesome, horribly marky and beautifully jaded pro-wresting fan drivel in the blogosphere: Quarter Marshall's Annual Opinion-o-thon!

Match of the Year: Of course it's going to be an Okada match.  His run with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (which predates 2017, and continues to present) is on everybody's short-list of 2017 highlights, and I'm toward the front of the mark parade, waving the Rainmaker flag right next to Gedo.  Okada's my favorite wrestler working today, there's no doubt about it.  I mean, I think there are some other performers who have Okada's storytelling ability (AJ, Tanahashi, and Asuka might top that list), but being top player in New Japan means you have the best spot to tell great in-ring stories, and Okada's been knocking it out of the park with what's regularly being called the best title run in wrestling history.  The most talked-about of his matches (at least in the Western hemisphere) were the trilogy against Kenny Omega, an amazing series which will go down in history.  Other title defenses this year included Minoru Suzuki, Bad Luck Fale, Evil , and Cody, bookended by 2016 and 2018 classics with Naito.  (Also, let the record show there was a great defense against Naomichi Marufuji in late 2016.)  My personal pick, a sentimental selection for favorite match of 2017, was his defense against Katsuyori Shibata.  Likely his last match due to head injury sustained therein, Shibata's performance felt like the epitome of a swansong- a phrase referring to an ancient belief that a swan would let out a beautiful call before its death, after having been silent for most of its life.  The match told a beautiful story, with the crowd playing an integral part, as they loudly shifted favorites as the energies of the wrestlers waxed and waned.  By the final stretch, with Shibata embodying the fighting spirit, and Okada selling his ass off but seemingly unbeatable, the crowd was firmly in Shibata's corner, but after the three count, and Okada's arm was raised, they were still totally into it.  It was just an epic story Shibata and Okada told in the ring, one of the only matches I've re-watched this year, and I think the only match I've watched three times.  I believe that it would be my top match even if Shibata hadn't been retired by it, but I have to admit that aspect makes it a sentimental favorite on top of it already being being a pure storytelling/great pro-wrestling classic.

Wrestler of the Year: I don't really have one singled out.  I've already extolled the storytelling prowess of Okada, and admitted he's my favorite wrestler.  Kenny Omega is perseveringly innovative and has maybe the best offense I've ever seen.  AJ Styles is the "Five Star Match with a Broomstick" candidate for worker of the year.  I'm looking at Asuka, Samoa Joe, Neville, Suzuki, Naito, Tanahashi... some people are saying Reigns and Strowman, I've got three words for them: Wha.  Te.  Ver.  There are great talents and performances all over, but it's impossible to compete with the storytelling platform of the New Japan main event.  Gun to my head, it's Okada, but the case can be made for Omega, and Styles even being in the conversation says tons about his ability to rise above cable tv mediocrity.

WWE Matches of the Year: Since I'm biased against their (usually homogenized) match style, I would like to draw attention to some favorite 2017 matches of mine.  Firstly, Abbey Laith vs Jazzy Gabert from round one, day one of the Mae Young Classic.  This is a great example of a match that you could show to a non-fan, where they'd probably "get it", with Abbey being the obvious underdog, but bringing the noise to the fight, showing tremendous in-ring work and emotion throughout.  From the way she hopelessly sells Gabert's offense to the way she plants her feet when throwing forearms, Laith might have my vote for babyface performance of the year.  I had goosebumps and Alice and I were kinda choked up by the finish, even the second time we watched it together.  This set the bar high for the rest of the tournament, and for my money was best of the whole event, Kairi Sane vs Toni Storm notwithstanding.  Other WWE standout matches: Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar.  AJ Styles vs Brock Lesnar.  Does that make it sound like Brock Lesnar is WWE wrestler of the year?  No way.  There's probably some NXT stuff which belongs on the short-list.  Aleister Black vs Velveteen Dream?  Lars Sullivan vs Demitrius Bronson?  The reality of my lovelife which surrounds me vs Nikki Cross?

I wish I had more to say about ROH.  It isn't their fault they keep getting talent-raided by WWE, but the fact remains that my fandom has fallen off a lot this year.  I still tune in for the big shows, and they're always enjoyable, but not enough to get me back into watching weekly, which is dumb of me because when I was a bigger fan, I preferred their tv to their ppvs.  Maybe it just comes down to the amount of time I have to watch wrestling.  It's not like I'm watching Raw or Smackdown, either.

I think Jim Cornette was involved with Impact in 2017.  Now Don "the Jackyl" "Cyrus the Virus" "Mark-for-himself Jerkoff" Callous is in the mix.  Billy Corgan bought NWA.  Chris Jericho had a helluvarun, especially if the first week of 2018 is factored in.  Some people died, probably.  Really important people I can't recall at the moment, but whose presence will be felt across the industry for all time god bless them.  WWE fired Emma those basterds.  Austin Aries leaves WWE by choice and talks about what a great decision it was because his schedule's way easier and he makes more money.  This becomes a really interesting topic of conversation, as the non-WWE path is perceived as a viable alternative, with the Young Bucks being flag-bearers of lucrative indie opportunities, with their (and other Bullet Club members') merch being top sellers at Hot Topics across our great nation of shitty malls.  Daniel Bryan keeps talking about wanting to wrestle again.

In all, we've seen wrestling evolve and improve.  New records were set, and we even had multiple contenders (per Meltzer) for best match of all time, which sounds like hyperbole, but I think is not outside the realm of reason.  Looking at this year from 2007 would be insane.  <3QM

December 16, 2017

What's this PPV called again?

I seriously had to Google "WWE PPV tomorrow" because I couldn't remember. It feels like they haven't really talked about it, and seems like a mess in the wake of Survivor Series. I'll try to break things down, but first.

Woke up a little hungover and ready for the Oregon Ducks Bowl game that is happening today. Alas, it doesn't start until 12:30 so I'm stuck watching ROH Final Battle until then. Woe is me. Matt Taven and Will Ospreay just had a really entertaining match.

Zack Ryder vs Mojo Rawley on the Pre Show
The match that gets Breezango and the Bludgeon Brothers on the main show. I think The Marshall and I talked about this through text. They had been teasing Ryder turning heel for like a year, and then we got swerved. If I cared about either guy this might be a good story. Did we have an abbreviation for the Andre? Or is it just called the Andre? Remember when Rawley won the Andre? Sure used that as momentum.

Breezango vs The Bludgeon Brothers
This week's Fashion Files was segregated to wwe.com. I watched it. It's always entertaining. I think we're supposed to believe that The Bludgeon Brothers were the big bad all along. I watched a Ride Along with Breezango. Fandango was dryly telling Breeze that he could name every state capitol. He proceeded to get one of ten correctly.

Baron Corbin vs Bobby Roode vs Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship
I don't have any recollection as to how this match came to be. I think Ziggler has his music again, but now he strolls to the ring like Orton. The miscasting of everybody in this match is very evident.

The Usos vs The New Day vs Benjamin and Gable vs Rusev and English for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
I guess this stems out of the Usos/New Day feud with everybody else getting involved. Rusev and English are a joy to watch. Rusev Day is everyday. Btw...I think that whole gimmick came out of a Total Divas episode where Lana throws a "Name Day Party" for Rusev; which is a thing in Bulgaria. I gotta figure out when Tristan Day is going to be.

Charlotte Flair vs Natalya in a Lumberjill match for the Smackdown Women's Championship
So Natty is getting her rematch a month later, but with the Riot Squad (sic) debuting since (fish stick break...yum) they need a match that can introduce all the new characters without throwing them to the wolves. These new lady factions make no sense, but I guess it's because they tend to do 3x3 matches at house shows with the ladies. So this was an easy way to create teams.

Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as guest referees
I guess the intrigue is which referee is going to turn heel and they've been teasing DBD. We all know that Shane is already a heel because of "#underseige." This is a whole big shades of grey story. Orton and Nakamura are just bodies needed to tell the story of the other four guys.

AJ Styles vs Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship
So, apparently Jinder lost in India to Triple H. So the talk is that the Jinder experiment must be over. But then he's headlining a PPV. There was this special on the network called WWE365 and it was all about Owen's last year in WWE. At one point they show this backstage quick convo between Owens and Vince. He asks if he did good and Vince says "that was exactly what we were looking for." Owens also tells a story of Vince telling him that something sucked. So I imagined that Jinder asked the same thing after some of his matches an promos, which have all been quintessential WWE/Vince McMahon booked segments. They all just reek of McMahon jizz all over them. I think he's done a great job at doing exactly what he's been told to do. But the booking tells us that they don't believe he's done a good job at all. I'm not a huge Jinder guy, but it all seems fishy. Alas, AJ will probably have a great match.

I hope that was what you were looking for. I'm not sure if I had any better insight than the podcasts did this week. It's very much a throwaway show. Which means it will probably be really good cause isn't that what happens? Punishment Martinez just had a bunch of lame gross looking people worshiping him. He has a dumb gimmick. Whatever happened to that Kevin Sullivan managing thing?

Still hungry. Fishsticks not enough.