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.

December 04, 2017

Rusty report featuring Mom