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Secret Santo Holiday Season 2020


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I also think that Secret Santo has shown me more about myself as a pro wrestling fan, and in short, my inner pro wrestling fan has retreated to the '80s as far as workrate goes, but it also craves a 2020 sensibility in terms of how wrestlers are portrayed gimmick-wise (as in, I'm glad that Effy can exist as an obvious conquering face in wrestling). 

So now I run into these issues where I really don't want to watch a wrestling match after about 1996, but I don't as easily brush off the cultural anachronisms of the programs, interviews, and characterizations from twenty, thirty, forty years ago. In short, there's not really a company for me right now. I felt as though NWA was sort of that before the pandemic, but even on its semi-return, I still feel without an outlet for new stuff that works for me. 

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Yeah, I've been going through that too. I hadn't watched much 80's wrestling before the first secret santo and really enjoyed the lack of annoying crowds and bizarre in ring antics. I remember reading a review of a match where it was stated it felt like both wrestlers were trying to win. I can't say that about Pagano-Chessman but also a lot of matches now. It's just dumb to me when drama club rejects are shocked their side Russian leg sweep that never finishes anyone didn't work this time.

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On 12/14/2020 at 4:55 AM, moribund said:

Hey @AxB I leave this here for you:

Katsuyori Shibata has the NJPW NEVER Openweight belt and has been roughing up the Third Generation (arguably not as bad as Inoki worked them over from behind the scenes... end snark) and the last one in his sights is Yuji Nagata. I'm hoping I guessed right here and this is in your wheelhouse.

It's the story as old as time: The Aggressive disrespectful young guy who wants the older generation to step aside vs the veteran who's earned his spurs and doesn't deserve this disrespect. And both guys really play their roles to the hilt in this. It really works that they're stylistically similar, even down to having a few moves that are really signature spots in common. Like, it's not just that Shibata wants to prove he's as good as Nagata, he thinks he's a better version of Nagata.

In terms of what they do in the ring, it's a lot more based around striking than grappling. The only real mat reversal sequences happen early in the match, duelling over leglocks and then doing a Figure Four and Reversal spot that does no long-term damage whatsoever (given that they're both up and kicking hard pretty quickly). Thereafter it settles into a routine of one guy hitting a series of stiff strikes punctuated by a really big one, alternating with one guy hitting a series of stiff strikes before being cut off by a really big one. But as they go longer, they start to hit the big suplexes as the climax to the strike exchange, and get the near falls off of them. This is a lot more impressive to watch than I'm making it sound.

The way they crank up the intensity as the match goes on, the way they communicate the toll that the battle is taking, it all works. It's a simple story, dramatically told, and it builds to a fitting crescendo. Definitely glad I watched it.

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On 12/14/2020 at 6:25 PM, AxB said:

@moribund From Dublin, Ireland, in 1993. Vader vs Sting:

 

Thanks @AxB, I'd never seen this particular match. I don't think I've gone back and watched any of the Sting/Vader matches since I saw them originally when they were current.

My brain's a little short on executive function this week so I'm going to bullet point this one:

- I'm guessing Sting had had juuuuuust about enough of Harley's BS at this point given that he scoop slams him as the very first action of the match before the bell even rings.

- If I could take one thing from this match and magically have it transferred into current wrestling it would be the crowd interactions. It's not just that they're a hot crowd, it's that they respond (and respond appropriately) every time Vader, Sting, or Harley call for it whether by overt or subtle means.

- Harley's nonchalant "Clearly I have done nothing wrong ever" walk every time he get's done perpetrating some evil shenanigan is the absolute best.

- There are a number of botches and minor mistiming of things,  and they might bother me if I started comparing this to other matches of theirs but in a vacuum they don't throw me off as much.

- I forgot how big Sting was back then, and it's fantastic that he seems small as Vader works him over but absolutely king-sized when he makes his comebacks. I guess the 'seems small' part is the easy part: I mean, it's MF-ing Vader.

- The single handheld single camera gets frustrating sometimes, especially when it causes us to miss whatever Harley did at the end of the match, but good grief it's still preferable to WWE's current camera work.

Thanks again for posting the good stuff my way.

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The randomizer has spoken:

Curt McGirt
El Gran Gordi

Morganti
moribund

Octopus
Six String Orchestra

NikoBaltimore
Smelly McUgly

Matt D
AxB
 

It's X-Mas week so everyone just do your best. Get your partner their match ASAP but watch when you can. 

@AxB, I'll have something for you today.

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@Curt McGirt

Merry Christmas! Here's some Otsuka! And Yone! Fighting the tag team in the thumbnail!

Presumably you've seen this before... hopefully not too recently. If you'd prefer something different, please feel free to point me in a general direction.

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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@NikoBaltimoreI guess that I'm giving out what I watch more than anything, so I hope that's okay.

This week, more tag team wrestling, this time with two of my favorite guys to watch in general and as a tag tagging up: Steven William Regal and Robbie Brookside.

I don't think the match is anything amazing in and of itself, but it's fun for a handful of specific reasons, I'd argue. Before I go on, I guess I'll leave it here for you:

S.W. Regal and Robbie Brookside vs. Jimmy "Bad News" Monroe and Dave Duran (in two parts):

 

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46 minutes ago, AxB said:

@Matt D Nice bit of WoS for you. From Crewe, Cheshire in 1983, it's Fit Finlay vs Marty Jones:

 

I haven't seen any Jones in a while. Will be good to see him again.

Here's Finlay mauling a super young Alex Wright:

 

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3 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

@El Gran Gordihas blessed me with the gift of BattlARTS so I will grant him something equally wonderful. Merry Xmas my friend!

Man, I can sometimes get all sappy and emotional when thinking about pro wrestling. Not so much in an "It's still real to me" way as in a "This bullshit is so beautiful" way. And, brother, let me tell you: The middle part of this match is some of the most beautiful bullshit in pro wrestling history. 

I swear to you that this match was on my short list of "I should give this to someone for Secret Santo but I need to re-watch it first to make sure it holds up." I'm delighted that you gave it to me first!

Does it still hold up? Oh hell yeah.

One of the things that makes this match beautiful is that Francesco Togo/Prince Togo & Antonio "The Dragon" Honda had teamed together in the Four Italian Horsemen stable in DDT years earlier, winning the KO-D Tag Team Championship as the Aloha World Order in 2007. In 2011, while Togo was on his amazing world wide retirement tour, Honda was mainly working as a comedy guy. So, for Togo to come into DDT and give him literally the match of his life is quite lovely.

There are wrestlers like Jushin Liger, Brett Hart, Mick Foley, and Bryan Danielson who, it's pretty clear, have each given a lot of guys the best match of their career. I think Dick Togo probably belongs in that discussion as well. Back in 2010, Togo worked the best match of Billyken Kid's career in front of a rabid crowd in a main event title match at Osaka Pro Hurricane. I was there live and in person, third row ringside. It's the hardest I've ever marked out at a wrestling match, which is really saying something. 

I wouldn't say that Togo carried Billyken, because both men played their roles to perfection in that match. And I won't say that Togo carried Honda to his best-ever match here, either. Same reasoning.

But there is a long, long stretch to start this match out that is almost entirely Antonio going after Togo's arm with bulldog tenacity, and it is absolutely Togo's yelling and selling and facial expressions that keep it from ever getting dull. 

So, yeah, they start out with Japanese Big Match mat work and end up with Japanese Big Match fighting spirit and near-falls and  it's all quite good. But, as I said, what makes this match special is the stuff they do in the middle. 

What they do, honestly, is toss an absolutely perfect tribute to a Jerry Lawler Mid South Coliseum main event match into the middle of a Japanese big match formula. I mean, fist drops, a bloodied up baby face fighting from underneath, and even a strap drop spot that almost made my head explode from the pure joy of it all. And they let all of this bleed over into the big finish, so that the fighting spirit segment turns into an old-fashioned brawl and Honda's main hope spot is a superb flying fist drop. It's gorgeous.

I'm probably one of the low voters on Lawler here, but even I can't help but love it. I absolutely have to assume that, at some point while they were tagging together and/or at some point preparing for this match, Togo and Honda watched a bunch of old Memphis matches together and talked about doing something like this. Even when Honda is lying on the mat, bloody and exhausted, he's just radiating joy. 

This is one of those matches that should make any true fan of pro wrestling feel the same way.

 

 

 

 

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@AxBgave me Marty Jones vs Fit Finlay from 83.  I'm sure I've probably seen this at some point but not for many years. Finlay was a heel here, but he wasn't even developed into the character he would be a year later, with Paula and much more stooging and chicanery. Here he was smaller and would do things like cartwheels out of throws. Jones, five years older, was bigger, and frankly, it surprised me how much of a bully he was in here. We start in the second fall, and he spends almost all of it bullying Finlay around the ring. I'm sure Fit deserved it, but I'm used to seeing Jones either in more even technical affairs or against very clearly defined cheaters where he is more of a straight wrestler, gritty but rule-abiding. At one point, Fit started bleeding from the mouth and Jones' response was to drop some knees on his face.  He was the first one to throw kicks, too. That sort of thing. I sort of wonder how much Fit's irish-ness made him a welcome target for this in the eyes of the crowd. They interspersed the wrestling with some big spots (a jump up superplex and a tit-for-tat bit of bumping over the top). The wrestling itself felt a lot like the French Catch I've been watching, which isn't surprising as WoS style is the closest equivalent but seeing things like the arm whip and the beales 20+ years later then where I am was refreshing nonetheless. After scoring the first fall (off a samoan drop which was, I believe, consciously related to the fireman's carry gutbuster Jones hit earlier) Fit hurts his knees on a missed second rope knee drop and Jones capitalizes with these big press up pancakes where Finlay lands on his knees again and again. I think if it happened today it'd be a bit offputting because we're so used to that being a face-first bump but here it worked and was visually impressive. Jones gets his leg caught in the rope off a throw by Finlay (after getting distracted by Finaly's current partner, Skull Murphy, showing up), a hugely impressive feat of timing and agility, and Finlay gets the upset win off of it. Good, mean match, though we have to take it on faith (as opposed to visible ringwork) that Fit deserved the early treatment that Jones gave him. 

Thanks to @AxB.

Edited by Matt D
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11 hours ago, El Gran Gordi said:

Dang! Everyone is giving each other such good stuff for Christmas this year. Warms the heart to see it.

Yeah, great matches all around for everyone this Xmas season. Well done.

Edited by Matt D
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1 hour ago, Morganti said:

Whatcha into @moribund?? I'll go hunting for something to make the Gods cry!

Mighty kind of you @Morganti. Three things I need to see more of:

British Wrestling (World of Sport, but I'll check out something modern as well).

Lucha Libre, but preferably singles or trios that have training wheels on them - think of matches you could classify as "A Young Person's First Arena Mexico/Apuesta/Trios".

Mid-sized/small Puro Feds: Osaka Pro, DDT, Dragon's Gate. I'm woefully short on viewing these guys.

...and a general category:

Any match where the heel gets their just deserts, as in "Yes, I paid money on a Saturday night to watch you reap what you have sown." This is totally style/promotion agnostic.

The only two things I'm not interested in watching are modern WWE and deathmatches (a bloody cage match no problem, but I'm not too keen on light tubes/staple guns/etc).

Youtube/Daily Motion are the viewing platforms available to me.

 

PS: Oh, and not everything has to be high drama - comedy matches are cool.

Edited by moribund
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12 hours ago, moribund said:

@Morganti Full pomp and circumstance on display for Genichiro Tenryu's Triple Crown defense against Terry Gordy. Someone is going to get hit real hard...

 

 

Spoiler

 

Japanese Commmentery
Gordy comes out to freebird and your world is rockin
The only downside is freebird is at least 14 minutes long (for the best versions) and we don't even get to the slide guitar solo

Young Tenryu's (young to me coz I mostly know him from Hustle and lemme tell ya, Tenryu Hard Gay is still hilarious to me) music gets a monster pop and the clap along entrance

Tenryu's music plays for longer than Freebird and that automatically makes him a heel to me (I fucking love freebird alright?)

We get a nice intro in english to really hammer the stakes, and whomever is collecting the belts looks like he could be a current day (2020) Ric Flair

There are some really nice little things that give this that "real sports" feel including moving the competitors to the correct corner.

Tenryu murders a second with a powerbomb and gets clubbered for his trouble and we are OFF

Gordy Returns the powerbomb favor and checks on his second along with the ref.  The ring boys are trying to clear the ring and the bell finally rings and we are offical.  Gordy kills with a lariat and and a knee drop.

Tenryu's face changes are so subtle its kinda neat compared to some of the modern day big facials.  Its all in just how much his eyes are opened or squinted, subtle mouth tics

I say all this as Gordy is beatin on Tenryu who is tryin but Gordy is just not letting up the stomps and kicks and lariats.  Can't quite tell what the crowd is chanting.


They fight over a Gordy powerbomb(piledriver) set up and end up back vertical before fighting for a second Gordy powerbomb that turns into a DDT and Tenryu hasn't hit shit except that powerbomb on a second.

Tenryu gets a kick and a chop before getting shut down some more with the clubberin the ref is trying to keep Gordy back, and gordy just kicks Tenryu to the floor.  Tenryu's selling is like hes absorbing the damage but trying to shake it off and clear his head.

Gordy with basically a one armed body slam that is kinda cool.  Tenryu falls through the middle and bottom rope and is just getting stomped like a motherfucker right now.

Samon Drop from Gordy that gets 2, and Tenryu creates some space with a bigggg kick and then a pair of enzuguris gets shrugged off and a huge shoulder block takes down Tenryu.

Gordy hits a dropkick that is more a leg lariat.

One thing IO am noticing is the crowd reacts to big moves but since there is no holds being worked they can't generate that heat like a more typical match.

Gordy tries a bomb, gets countered, Tenryu hits a huge lariat. He finally strings some offence together including a big powerbomb for a 2 count!

Back brain Kick and some more clubbering and you call tell Tenryu has taken more damage thus far.  Big Leg Drop gets 2 for Gordy.
10 minutes in and we get a back drop suplex for 2.
And another one. 

Gordy hurts himself giving Tenryu a lariat in the corner, Tenryu tries to take advantage and gets kicked in the mush, then hits a back brain kick, then a toe kick from the floor then a powerbomb for 2!  The crowd is heatin up!

Gordy looks hurt, counters a powerbomb with a backdrop, Tenryu holds on! asnd hits a massive powerbomb for the dub. Gordy kicks out a 3.0!

and we get our belt presentation.  Tenryu offers Gordy a handshake that is accepted.  Sportsmanship!

That trophy is needlessly large.

And this was a match that kinda puts over the damage a powerbomb can do as Gordy controlled with clubberin but lost to basically two moves.

I like it!

 

TLDR? Gordy clubbers Tenryu, but the Powerbomb > Clubberin
 

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So I just wanted to give my apologies for not following up on Secret Santo.  I know that there was one last week with Flair as a face but I can't find the post for that.  Not sure if it was deleted or what happened.  And I haven't forgotten about @Smelly McUglywith your video.  It's just that things have been pretty busy and stressful here which is doing a number on me (not sure if I want to post about it in "What's going on" thread or not)  But I do feel bad for not following up and @Matt DI unfortunately think it's best for me to sit out next week.  Hopefully after the new year I'll be up for doing this again.  But unless something changes by Sunday that's kind of where I'm at.

EDIT:  Okay, I just around to the Flair match and figured it made sense to add to this instead of the third post in a row.  The below at least takes it to the page with your pick.

I don't mind strap matches though I much prefer they don't have the "touch four corners" stip added to it.  Because man does that stip ruin the match real quick when it means there's a cheap-ass way to win.  An example of this I saw the other day was Sting/Vader from Superbrawl III.  To me a strap/dog collar/whatever match should have one purpose.  And that's to beat the fuck out of somebody with it and use it however you need to to win a match.  So with that said it was a fun match despite the four corners stip.

And you weren't kidding about Flair as a face.  I never saw Ric like this and it was wild seeing him like this.  But he must have done a helluva job as the crowd was fully invested in him and were freaking out everytime Ole used the strap on him.  Though with the way he was moving about during the intros if you told me he wasn't in full Nature Boy mode I would have believed you.  That is of course until the match starts and he's strutting and wooing about.

As for the stips I was hoping the four corners part wasn't a thing but sadly it was.  But when it comes to strap matches it should be a decisive win and maybe a bit of blood for good measure.  And while the body of the match was good I absolutely can't stand seeing a DQ finish for a strap match.  It to me makes the strap pointless and while it seems like they were taking this around the horn the DQ took it down a good star or so (if I was doing star ratings)  But I think if you take the strap part out of it there's a fun match to be had.  But as for the intent of picking this I did very much like seeing Flair as the fiery babyface.  It has me curious to see him like this where it's just a regular match so if there's one like that I'm up for seeing it.  Thanks for the pick and again sorry for the delay.

Edited by NikoBaltimore
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Okay, after feeling a tiny bit better here's something that I hope @Smelly McUgly can get into.  I have a feeling you've seen this match and hope you don't mind the re-watch if that's the case.  But considering it was a match with no build I feel it's one of those timeless matches that still very much holds up.

EDIT:  And here's how out of sorts I've been.  I just noticed @Matt Dwas the one that sent the Flair match and I thought it was somebody else.  At this point I either need a month-long vacation or bottle of vodka, whichever comes first.  But I'll get that review up as soon as I can as well.

 

Edited by NikoBaltimore
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On 12/20/2020 at 2:45 PM, El Gran Gordi said:

@Curt McGirt

Merry Christmas! Here's some Otsuka! And Yone! Fighting the tag team in the thumbnail!

Presumably you've seen this before... hopefully not too recently. If you'd prefer something different, please feel free to point me in a general direction.

 

I had actually not seen this one before. Somebody's gonna have to give me info on the Inoki Festival because I've never heard of it. Mohammad Yone is extremely skinny and fairly frail looking, but he can still kappo kick like a son of a bitch. Ikeda and Ono are just as cold and disrespectful as they look in the screencap. Every time they manage to get Yone or Otsuka in their corner they kick them right in the back, ribs, or head. Yone's trial by fire seems to be the story of this one as he has plenty of spunk and tries to hang with the opposing side; at one point Ikeda nukes him with a lariat that sounds like somebody hitting a home run and he comes back with a German that drops Ikeda right on his head. In other matches I might complain about this but somehow it makes sense in BattlARTS World. Each strike and hold have the same weight and power to them and therefore you never lose the sense of belief. Even Otsuka doing a giant swing comes off like a shoot maneuver. This is enforced by the best selling. Ono headkicks Otsuka and he does the most dramatic faceplant that, again, might be egregious in another match but it just works here. You don't doubt it because getting hit that hard makes it make sense. And that's the nature of the beast. When Ikeda savate kicks you right in the guts or Otsuka suplexes you on your head you better believe that shit. And go figure, this one ends with our young competitor dying on his shield, eating a series of kicks that would make any other wrestler run for the hills. Killer match. 

Incidentally I wanted to give the Billy Ken Kid match to you Gordi, just couldn't find it 🙂 

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Incidentally I also found this out about Alexander Otsuka

Quote

Michinoku Pro Wrestling (2006-2007)[edit]

In 2006, Otsuka started competing in Michinoku Pro Wrestling under the gimmick of Otoko Sakari, a bisexual, sex addict wrestler who wore a fundoshi and utilized sexual antics against his opponents. Sakari never took off as a serious contender, as he often lost matches by nudity or morodashi when his opponent damaged his attire, making the ring crew throw the towel to cover it. Sakari feuded mainly with Kanjyuro Matsuyama, scheduling a 7-matches series to solve their enmity, which Sakari lost by 3-4, being forced to shave his pubic hair. Sakari would later appear also in Dradition Pro Wrestling, getting in a feud with Kikutaro.

...okay...

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9 hours ago, NikoBaltimore said:

EDIT:  Okay, I just around to the Flair match and figured it made sense to add to this instead of the third post in a row.  The below at least takes it to the page with your pick.

I don't mind strap matches though I much prefer they don't have the "touch four corners" stip added to it.  Because man does that stip ruin the match real quick when it means there's a cheap-ass way to win.  An example of this I saw the other day was Sting/Vader from Superbrawl III.  To me a strap/dog collar/whatever match should have one purpose.  And that's to beat the fuck out of somebody with it and use it however you need to to win a match.  So with that said it was a fun match despite the four corners stip.

And you weren't kidding about Flair as a face.  I never saw Ric like this and it was wild seeing him like this.  But he must have done a helluva job as the crowd was fully invested in him and were freaking out everytime Ole used the strap on him.  Though with the way he was moving about during the intros if you told me he wasn't in full Nature Boy mode I would have believed you.  That is of course until the match starts and he's strutting and wooing about.

As for the stips I was hoping the four corners part wasn't a thing but sadly it was.  But when it comes to strap matches it should be a decisive win and maybe a bit of blood for good measure.  And while the body of the match was good I absolutely can't stand seeing a DQ finish for a strap match.  It to me makes the strap pointless and while it seems like they were taking this around the horn the DQ took it down a good star or so (if I was doing star ratings)  But I think if you take the strap part out of it there's a fun match to be had.  But as for the intent of picking this I did very much like seeing Flair as the fiery babyface.  It has me curious to see him like this where it's just a regular match so if there's one like that I'm up for seeing it.  Thanks for the pick and again sorry for the delay.

Nick,

Here's your Xmas gift. I went to the biggest Flair expert and/or archivist I knew and asked him what the best example of 80 Flair (full match) version we had and pulled this together. As best as I could tell, it wasn't online, so here it is on my burner account. No rush on getting to it. It's in front of the same crowd, just a few months later. I haven't seen it before, so I'll catch it sometime soon too.

 

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