Random Match Roundup #15: 2016 Catchup Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to my first article in about 6 months! To give a short explanation of my absence, I got burnt out on wrestling and then my computer broke. To make up for it, I have reviewed 20 (YES 20!) of the most talked about matches from all circles of wrestling that I have missed this year. Lets stop the talk and get the review underway!

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Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIII Day 6

            This match was quite controversial when it came out, as debate ranged whether this was even wrestling or not (it is, end of story.). Regardless, in my opinion, this was a very fun match that was also rather smart. The story here was quite solid, as it was a show of one upsmanship between two cocky competitors. Both Ricochet and Ospreay wanted to outdo their opponent throughout the match with big and impactful moves, as shown through the progressively crazy flips as well as the strike exchanges. To add on to this, Ricochet, the more experienced wrestler, took the advantage midway through, using it to humiliate his opponent while showing off. However, once his cockiness cost him his advantage, the back and forth was constant, with one upsmanship again the central conflict. However, while that is all good complimentary content, the real star here is the crazy action. As would be expected, this was a bunch of crazy flips, high impact moves, and cool strikes. Many have complained about this being just a flippy match, but I disagree. There are a lot of flips, but there was also an abundance of strike exchanges ranging from standard elbow trading to action movie-esque kick sequences. So even though the main star here is the flips, that is far from the only aspect. Now, to go into the action anymore is impossible, as it is near impossible to describe. However, needless to say, it is crisp, impactful, and overall very compelling. Even though many might consider this to not be wrestling, it assuredly is and, in my opinion, is damn good at that.

Rating: ****½

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Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kurt Angle – RevPro Angle vs. Sabre Jr.

            This was a fun, sound match with a tremendous atmosphere, and there isn’t much more to say. Needless to say, the usually hot RevPro crowd was molten for a match like Angle vs. Sabre, and from the entrances they both had the crowd in the palm of their hand. The atmosphere added most of the aura and spectacle to the match, because, as matches go, it wasn’t super special. It was slow early, building from early matwork to more fast paced offense with strikes, but from out of nowhere Angle hit an Angle slam and the finishing stretch began. The finish was a very good display of reversals to signature moves and good submissions, and the action was crisp for the most part. However, it is not hard to find better finishing stretches from both men. The finish too was flawed, not for who went over, but due to its suddenness. The match barely got going before the finishing stretch kicked in, so the whole finishing sequence felt rushed and sudden. That sadly extended to the finish. Even though I am harping on the match a good amount, it is quite good and very fun. Even with the suddenness, they got to the stuff you paid to see quickly, and, due to the short length, watching this is a breeze. This match is definitelty worth watching for the fun action and atmosphere, even if we don’t have a classic on our hands.

Rating: ***¼

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Barbaro Cavernario vs. Black Terry – CARA Lucha 06/11/16

            Stiffness is the keyword to describe this match. The sheer brutality of every strike here was incredible, especially with someone the age of Terry. While this match began with silky smooth matwork from both guys, Cavernario soon poked the bear by starting to strike, and then it was off to the races. This was a back and forth of who can take the most punishment and eat the stiffest strikes. The headbutts here were so stiff that both men were bleeding due to them. That is brutality if I’ve ever seen it. However, there wasn’t too much story here, other than a little disrespect from Cavernario. The match mostly just focused on the brutality of the action unfolding. While the brutality was great and the strikes were beautiful, it never really reached a third gear I so desperately craved. The match did get fun and intense, with the slaps, headbutts and dives, but the finishing stretch never really came. As it seemed to be building the drama, a terrible finish occurred, tainting this match a bit. Regardless, this was stiff, brutal fun in a gritty lucha setting. What’s not to like?

Rating: ***½

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The Revival vs. Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover: Back to Brooklyn

            Two of my favorite teams today in a heated match? Yes please! I had such a good time with this, as I always do with the Revival. They are just some of the best. Then, on top of those two, Gargano and Ciampa put on a tremendous performance as well! This match was structured very well yet very simply. It was the classic heels take the heat tag match, but with that it was so much more. Firstly, Gargano and Ciampa got offense early and for a long time before the heat, which showed that they were ready for this match and allowed some cool action. Then, as usual, The Revival were masters of the heat segment. As usual, they did little things and classic heel tactics to maintain the advantage, which, per usual, is awesome. One example is when Gargano was about to make a hot tag, Dash “fell” into the ring to distract the ref. All the moments like that one makes matches like this special. Finally, once the tag was made, the finishing stretch was so good! The action was crisp and impactful and the nearfalls were investing. As a testament to this, it is rare a crowd now cheers the faces and boos the heels, but this crowd did. That is just the best. To me, that shows how classic tag wrestling like this can still be one of the best things in wrestling.

Rating: ****½

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Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy – Final Deletion – IMPACT Wrestling 06/15/15

            What is there to even say about this match? I don’t even comprehend it fully, and I’m not sure whether I like it or hate it. This match started with a video of Matt at a Mexican birthday party talking about big gifts. Then, camera cuts to Jeff being attacked by drones and RV helicopters, where one makes a hologram of Matt challenging Jeff to a fight. Jeff then chases a drone on a motorbike. After this, an old dude is shown burying fireworks, and Matt and a lady from the party talk. THEN a referee arrives at a ring in the middle of nowhere, and Matt successfully summons his brother with a violin. With that, the match begins and the summary ends. As for this match, it is very cinematic and unlike most matches to ever occur. The wrestling here is an afterthought, and quite frankly out of place. Mostly, it’s just kind of trashy brawling with odd cinematic camera shots. Then, though, it goes crazy when Matt shoots fireworks at his brother and Jeff uses a trashcan lid as a shield. At that point, the match goes wild, with Willow appearing, Matt pinning the old Mexican dude, and Jeff falling away from fire and losing. As the wrestling is at best an afterthought, it better be symbolically meaningful or have good acting right? NO! It is froofy, pseudo-intellectual artistic crap that try’s to trick people into thinking it has meaning. It doesn’t. The acting is poor and it is meaningless. I can accept all that though. The point was comedy (or so I hope), and it was intentionally over the top. I can handle those calling this some great, avant garde art piece when it is really just nothing. What I cannot accept is how boring it was. At a certain point, random and bizarre imagery gets desensitizing, and it reach that point here far before the end. For some reason, I just feel sadness. Whether it is for wasted innovation on a match that blew or just the glut of people who believe its hype I don’t know. I just cannot see the great art here. Bad acting, sloppy symbolism, wrestling that feels out of place, and tonal shifts are crippling here. Are we to take this seriously or laugh at it? Is it trying to say something or failing or is it just meaningless bullshit? I don’t know, but in a piece of art those are questions to avoid. I think the worst question to ask in art is whether it even has meaning, because that means that the point of the art is so buried and incomprehensible that it is hard to see. Debate of meaning is fine, debate on whether there is meaning means poor craftsmanship. The thing is, I think there is something with some merit buried in here. It’s buried deep under bad wrestling and incomprehensible imagery, but it’s here. That is the worst part. Something could be done that is creative, but also meaningful or important. Instead, we get this, a match half mediocre comedy and half poorly executed symbolism. I laughed at this match for a while, thinking it is just goofy bullshit no one could be serious. Then I saw people praise it as some new, great piece of art and I just feel sad. There was obviously good art, MEANINGFUL art trying to crawl out, but it is not to be. The decency was so buried under sheer stupidity and awful that it is nearly unnoticeable. I wish this were just bad with nothing else. However, it wastes innovation and tricks people into thinking it has more meaning than it does. I want a match like this to be good so bad. I really do. This is not that. This is just stupid shit done with no meaning. There are only two options here, and both end up with the same result. 1.) This was merely just goofing around in which case it just went to long and failed to be entertaining. 2.) It was trying to be actual art and have symbolism and such, and failed to an epic, boring, and horrid degree. Either way, this is just a load of disappointing fucking bullshit.

Rating: DUD

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AJ Styles vs. John Cena – WWE Money in the Bank 2016

            I’m just happy this match happened in the first place; the fact it is good is a bonus. The story here was just great, with Styles always one step ahead of Cena. It was clear Styles had scouted all of Cena’s big moves, as well as just being faster. This allowed Cena the opportunity to be more human, as he was forced to deal with all his best shots failing. Every time Cena would get momentum it was cut off, which was just great. Then, as the match continued, more back and forth was sprinkled in until the action of the finishing stretch. All the action here was top-notch, being incredibly crisp and creative. The combination of good story and great action lead to a highly dramatic and investing finishing stretch which drew me in as a fan. While the finish is a bit of a downer, it does make sense and, knowing how the next match goes, I’m fine. The only real flaw here is an extended rear chin lock midway through that killed the pace. Otherwise, this was very fun and fitting of the dream match title.

Rating: ****

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The Addiction vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Motor City Machine Guns – Ladder War – ROH All Star Extravaganza VIII

            Like usual, I struggle to find the words to describe a match like this. Really, to try to describe it would be a disservice to it. The best way to describe it is the modern version TLC II for ROH. This was an unabashid spotfest for the ages, and all of the people here risked their bodies for it. I think two things worth noting here (other than watch this match right now) is the great buildup of the match and Christopher Daniels’ performance. The build and structure of the match was top-notch, as the match began with everyone doing their normal spots, but ladders were slowly added and spots slowly got crazier and crazier. This made the match much more investing, as every spot was given more meaning. On top of this, Christopher Daniels put on a spectacular performance, especially for a guy pushing 50. The punishment he took was crazy, and he took some of the biggest bumps in the match. Huge props to him for making this even more special. If you can’t tell by this point, this match is worth watching. Go and find it as soon as you can, because it is worth it.

Rating: ****¾

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Caristico vs. Volador Jr. – LLE 4/8/16

            This match was a tad bit disappointing , but this match proves dissappointing does not mean bad. The match did start well, with Volador wearing his mask that he lost a few months ago to get heat, then attacking Caristico before the bell to get major heat. After this, it was off to the races. The match was mostly back and forth, with Volador getting more periods of control and more offense as the heel, which played to Caristico’s strength. As I have seen many times in his matches as Mistico, this guy can sell like no one else. Something about the way he sells gives him a sense of vulnerability that is a.) endearing and b.) rallies the crowd behind him. However, even though the main story seemed to be Volador being a heel beating down Caristico, there was never a solid heat segment or period of control to cement it. It was mostly just Volador selling a bit less than Caristico. Speaking of selling, Volador did hurt the match in a few places with his poor selling. At points, after Caristico did a move, he would get up first smiling. At one point he even got kicked in the head climbing a turnbuckle and continued climbing. While this could be seen as playing into the story, it mostly just came off as shoddy. While the story and selling in some aspects were lacking, the action most certainly wasn’t. The back and forth was fast and crisp for the most part, and down the stretch action got very good. Some nearfalls were quite well done and got the crowd riled up. The moves down the stretch at points were incredible to watch and made this match such a joy. However, one small gripe is that Volador used a back cracker as a nearfall early in the match, then expected the same move to be a dramatic nearfall in the finishing sequence. Needless to say, seeing a move kicked out of prior in the match hurts the legitimacy. Regardless, the action, especially as the match got to the end, was absolutely tremendous. Before I conclude, I would be remiss to not mention one of the best counters I have ever seen. Late game, Caristico tried for an Asai moonsault; however, Volador was ready, and, laying on his back, kicked him, propelling him into the barricade full force. That spot makes this match worth watching alone. Even though some negatives do drag it down and a coherent story would have improved it, this was still a joy to watch and something worth seeing.

Rating: ***½

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Fred Yehi vs. Colby Corino – IWC 2/13/16

            I’m quite shocked with how smart and solid this match really was. To begin, both these guys put in a tremendous effort to carefully craft a story. In the early going, it was mostly crisp matwork, where Yehi was the aggressor and Corino outsmarted him. This contrast was perfect, as Yehi being outsmarted lead to more aggression, which lead to more mistakes, which lead to Corino outsmarting him more. That is just great. Then, the match turns when Yehi (kayfabe) breaks Corino’s fingers and it becomes a generally more violent match. Corino is in trouble and his survival instincts kick in as Yehi is able to take control. The match is clearly in the favor of Yehi as Corino was forced to drop what worked for him, smart matwork, to play Yehi’s game. While he does make a good comeback and has a lot of offense, it is clear Yehi has control in the second half. This story is sheer brilliance and kudos to them for putting it together. Also, the performances here are tremendous. Everything has a purpose and nothing is done just to happen. During the matwork, there is a constant struggle for top position and better control, so every motion put emphasis on that. Then the match becomes more action packed with desperation, so they act according to that. Especially later on, but generally throughout, strikes are stiff, especially from Yehi. Yehi’s destructive offense further exemplifies why Corino must outsmart him, not go toe to toe with him. I also quite enjoyed how the little things came into play and mattered. For example, a major plot point in this match was simple, Yehi injured Corino’s fingers in an arm wringer. While action did get more complex, there was also a focus on the smaller details, which added tenfold to the match. Here we have a gem, hidden away in the coves of the internet where most people won’t see it. However, even though it might not get it, this match deserves all the notoriety it can get.

Rating: ****¼

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AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose – WWE Backlash 2016

            For those who think that only large muscle men can be a main eventer in WWE, this match just proved you wrong. Here we have two guys who are just excellent going out and having an epic, tremendous match for the biggest title in wrestling. The match here was reserved, as crazy spots occurred few and far between, allowing them to breathe. The majority of the match was actually Styles in control, where Ambrose had to survive and fight back. The offense here from AJ switched midway through from big moves in the early goings to leg work setting up the calf crusher about halfway through. This all forces Ambrose to try to fight back and make this match the type of match , a brawl. While there are moments of success for Ambrose, he is mostly dominated until the finish. That is fine, because once the finish came the crowd was ready and hot for the comeback. The way Ambrose forced AJ into his style of match was great, and rationalized AJ’s inability to keep up with Ambrose in his specialty. The finish was good as well; even though it was a bit cheap it was still good and forwarded both the story of the match and the character of AJ Styles. AJ in this match cemented himself as an all-time great, as he has succeeded in every company he’s been apart of. In this match, Ambrose showed why he is so underrated as a talent and Styles showed why he is the best in the world and one of the best of all time. This was absolutely great and a satisfying match with assured long-term impacts.

Rating: ****¼

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Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW G1 Climax 26 Day 18

            In this match, Naito had to draw or win to advance to the G1 finals while Omega needed the win to advance. Now, with that, we have a match chock full of drama and character with some of the best action I’ve seen this year. The early going was great, with Omega antsy to start (as he needed to win) while Naito just didn’t give a fuck, as not only is his tranquilo gimmick in full effect but also he doesn’t even have to win to advance. There is also some disrespect early, leading to some great spots at the beginning. However, the match really picks up with Naito working the leg, a plotline that would show up throughout the match. The early legwork was solid enough and made for some cool spots where Omega had to fight through the damage to stay in the match. However, the match really picks up after a massive tope con hilo from Omega into the crowd. From that moment forth the match was pure drama and epic action. It was a careful balance for Omega, where he needed to sell the leg but didn’t want to compromise the match down the stretch. He balanced it perfectly, selling the leg when need be, keeping it in play, yet not having it dominate the match. Really, the match was a story of determination, where each guy had to throw everything at the other to win. It also shows Kenny’s desperation, as he needs to avoid a time limit draw and beat Naito. So while some may harp on Omega’s selling, they are missing the point of the match and asking for a story that quite frankly is not as effectively told in these circumstances. The leg work is a side dish, not the full meal. Between the epic action, great leg spots, tremendous reversals, and gripping nearfalls, these two showed the importance of this match and their desire to win. Naito, even with his tranquilo character, had to buckle down as Omega pushed him, again showing how desperate Omega was to win the match. Right here is a match where the more you think about it the better it gets. The surface level drama and nearfalls are here. Beyond that is the side plot of Omega’s injured leg. Beyond that is the desperation Omega has to win since he needs a victory more than Naito. When digging in here there is just layer after layer of great wrestling here to analyze. There are very few matches like this were it pretty much covers all the bases of a great match, and when one does it is most assuredly a classic.

Rating: ****¾

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Vader vs. Will Ospreay – RPW Uprising 2016

            Three questions sum up this match: Why did it happen? Why did Vader win? What even is 2016? I mean, I’m not mad at this match in any capacity. It was as good as it possibly could. However, considering Vader could barely walk down some stairs, that is saying literally nothing. Really, this match was pretty boring and insanely stupid, but it did provide a good laugh. For the boring, after Vader “gave” a chokeslam to Will Ospreay off the ramp through a table (Ospreay basically just jumped off the ramp through a table), he sold it for a solid few minutes. Why give Vader this amount of offense? He is an old man who can barely walk, and Ospreay is a young star. Then, after some action, interference happens, setting up future feuds. At this point I’m okay; it’s not good, but I can comprehend kinda. Then Vader kicks out of two shooting star pressed and wins. WHAT? I just don’t even know man! Lets say Vader refused to job. I have an easy solution. Now, here is the official Terrance certified two-step plan to advert catastrophe when a wrestler refuses to job:

  • Say “Fuck you” and tell them the match is off and they aren’t getting paid.
  • Book the match with so much interference that the win is worthless

Sadly, neither of those happened. Rather, Vader kicked out of finishers and won clean as a whistle. I can’t get mad, as this doesn’t mean shit in the long run, but still, bad booking is bad booking regardless of its impact. To be clear, I’m not offended. This match was a hoot in a so bad its funny sort of way, but that isn’t really a good thing. To sum up, Vader dominated Will Ospreay even though he can barely move. I just don’t get it man. I really don’t

Rating: DUD

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Yuji Hino vs. Minoru Tanaka – Wrestle-1 Tour 2016 W-Impact Day 1

            I have had this in my queue since it came out, and I have heard hype from the beginning. However, as rarely happens, a match with such hype for me not only met them, but far surpassed them. In a match with these two, it is clear what the story will be. Hino is a large asskicker and Tanaka is an experienced junior trying it at the heavyweight level. Obviously, Hino was bound to dominate the majority as the monster, with Tanaka making combacks sporadically throughout. While that is standard, the execution here is tremendous. Hino’s character is a bruiser who does not give a fuck, so him on top is so compelling. He just destroys Tanaka with stiff shots and mocks him while he does it. However, Tanaka’s comeback puts this above and beyond; from move one he put emphasis on working the leg of Hino to chop him down, a story that would continue throughout the match. That is pretty much the structure of the match, with the action getting more and more exciting and the selling getting better and better. The quality of performances here is insane. Tanaka took a beating, then would find an opening to hit the leg and turn the tide. After a while, it built up to the point where Hino went from trying to ignore his leg (being a macho badass) to having his leg basically give out. It was a subtle, match long story and it was brilliant. To put in perspective the quality here, I think two sequences sum it up. First is when Tanaka makes a comeback. He does a superplex, then a dropkick, and then a transition from a pin attempt to a legbar. Even in a random comeback that could have no purpose, Tanaka still tied it into the overarching story of him trying to overcome the beast through the leg. The second was late in the match, where the drama is palpable. Tanaka is kicking the shit out of Hino’s leg, but Hino, having the character of someone who gives no fucks, just flips him off. As Tanaka kicks more, Hino tries to no sell, but eventually his body just gives up on his spirit. Even when his leg caves, though, he still tries to maintain his image. That is some powerful stuff there. I’ m not sure if I have truly noted the high quality of this matchup. This is a tremendous match that should be remembered for years to come. I swayed on whether to go with 5*, which is a testament to the quality of the art.

Rating: ****¾

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Pagano vs. Psycho Clown – Mascara Contra Caballera – AAA Triplemania XXIV

            For a match that was universally panned by critics as a terrible main event to a major show and a total train wreck, it actually wasn’t too bad. To start off, both men were crazy over, with Pagano getting loud boos and Psycho Clown gaining the favor of the crowd. The excitement and investment of the crowd helped this match tremendously, as it helped build some atmosphere. Also, the early going was actually quite good, with Pagano getting the lions share of the offense and even ripping Clown’s mask to get heat. It worked like a charm, as the crowd was into the comebacks of Clown and loathed Pagano. Also, the brawling early felt fairly realistic and fluid, with a total lack of setup, spot, rest, repeat. There was even a really cool dive from Clown into the audience. However, as the match continued, it got plagued by a total focus on spots and a loss of focus on everything else. Where the first few minutes felt fluid, the majority of the match dragged with overlong spot setups for lackluster spots. Some moments were cool and it was okay to watch in a trainwreck sort of way, but it was still overall unsatisfying. Then, at the end, the finish was marred by interference, making most of the brawl feel rather unimportant. While the crowd’s investment did help, it did not entirely save it. While it may sound like I hate this match, I don’t. The execution may be poor, but the early portion was very good and even the lackluster parts never really bored me. Sure, the overlong spot setups do kill any legitimacy the match had, but it was still mindlessly entertaining. Even though I do not recommend this match, as it is a painfully mediocre brawl, I still cannot see all the hate it receives

Rating: **¼

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Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 26 Day 13

            Man, was this good or what? Honestly, this match was just two of the best in the world putting on a classic match. The story here was simple; to Okada, this was just another match, so he was cocky and took it lightly. However, Ishii saw this as his biggest match of the year, an opportunity to beat the champion. This contrast played into the match, as Okada’s cockiness lead to Ishii gaining the advantage and, as the match goes on, Okada realizing this is a serious challenge. Even though the psychology isn’t super complex, it is solid and ties the match together perfectly. It allows Ishii to just kick ass, his specialty, and puts him over huge. Then, Okada has to fight back from underneath, really giving the idea that this match could go either way. However, there was one point where this match went from very good to tremendous to me and that was when Okada did the Rainmaker pose, only for Ishii to rise up and chop him in the throat. Not only did the intensity of action increase past that point, but it also played into the story. Okada was still taunting and being more lighthearted than Ishii, allowing his opponent to regain control. After that point, I witnessed one of the best final thirds to a wrestling match I have ever seen. The things I comment on so often, like drama and emotion, were there in spades here. The bumps were big, and it was clear it was going to take everything one guy has to win. Also, throughout the match and at the finish especially, it was clear Ishii had scouted Okada in preparation as he had reversals to everything Okada did, further selling the weight of this match for Ishii. Overall, this was absolutely fantastic. These two put on one of the best matches of the year with one of the best finishing sequences of all time. They are truly two of the best.

Rating: ****½

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Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens – WWE Battleground 2016

            Oh man! This match! This fucking match! I haven’t seen many matches this good in a while. That might be because I haven’t seen much wrestling in a while, but whatever. Here is a match at perfect equilibrium; the balance between action and emotion is impeccable. The story of familiarity and hatred adds to the action, as they both show intensity in their action and create reversal sequences de to the familiarity. The action also accentuates the story, as the fast pace shows these two as eager to fight each other. This was also structured brilliantly. Owens gets to have most of the offense, as he is tremendous at that, and Sami gets to be the sympathetic face, his specialty. This structure mostly holds, with Owens mostly dominant but Sami gaining more and more offense. This allows Sami to be the underdog fighting from behind the entire time. With all this structure and story, it brings the action to a new level. They have chemistry from wrestling since they began, and all that is brought out through the emotional blood feud displayed here. With all this in play, the match was incredible. There was great action, with high impact moves and reversals, and emotional moments, like Owens yelling at Sami to stay down or else. As the finish grew closer, the drama went to all time highs and emotion went through the roof. The finish was climactic, iconic, and had meaning too it, which added even more onto an already tremendous match. The only real flaw is that, early on, Owens used a rear chinlock that compromised the early atmosphere a bit, but that is a miniscule gripe. This was incredible. The biggest testament to the quality here is that these two brought a relatively quiet crowd to their feet screaming by the end. If that doesn’t signify quality, nothing does.

Rating: ****¾

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Kamaitachi vs. Maximo Sexy – Cabellera vs. Cabellera – CMLL Sin Piedad 2016

            There are few times all the aspects of a match just come together nearly perfectly for something special to occur. This was one of those times. The basic plot which ties this whole match together is a Maximo underdog story; not only is he older, slower, and in worse shape than Kamaitachi, but he also has an injured leg. This leads to the first half of this match mostly with Kamaitachi focusing on leg work. The majority of the early to mid match was Kamataichi on offense, building to Maximo eventually fighting back. The drama here is palpable with the basic story, with sympathy for Sexy through the roof, and having it be Caballera vs. Caballera adds another layer of drama. Once Maximo makes his eventual comeback, it’s essentially a slow progression where his comebacks go from being a few moves to a cohesive string of offense. Maximo has to fight his way back in and even the odds for himself, as prior to this point his offense was limited. Again, this builds drama to an incredible degree and makes the story investing and engrossing. As for the action down the stretch, it started out great but subdued with Kamaitachi in control, then became more and more epic and dramatic as the match continued. There were big spots, like top rope frankensteiners, rollups for nearfalls, attempted deception, and more. All the action was fast and impactful, which did raise the stakes here quite a bit. Also, in a match where selling could get lost in the shuffle, Maximo continued to sell his leg well throughout. While the selling got a little bit more subtle as the action got more chaotic, he never forgot that his leg is injured and he needs to sell it. On top of all that is one final bit of praise: it is incredibly impressive and dramatic how a prior fall and its finish played into a later fall. The way it was done here was brilliant and contributed to a highly dramatic nearfall. This match is truly like a finished puzzle, where all the pieces came together correctly to make something beautiful.

Rating: ****½

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Kengo Mashimo vs. Kaji Tomato – Kaientai Dojo Club-K Super in Blue Field

            I will never understand why people hate K-Dojo. This match is living proof of the quality of talent in that company. They told a compact story with great action and compelling characters. Sounds good? Well, it really is. The foil between Mashimo and Tomato fuel most of this match, as the contrast of styles is the real story here. Early on, Mashimo underestimates Tomato, as Kaji is light-hearted, but pays for it when Tomato’s unique, high-flying offense catches him off guard. In order to slow him down, Mashimo brings in stiff leg kicks and submissions to counter it. The combination of Mashimo’s disrespect for Tomato and Mashimo working the leg together here to make a great story. Tomato has to fight his way through the bigger, more dominant man, and does so throughout. Tomato strikes a good balance between selling the leg and doing cool spots; while he is a bit inconsistent, the fact that his flashy spots down the stretch play into the story makes up for it. As the match goes forth towards the finish, all aspects come into play. Kengo underestimating Tomato, Tomato’s fast offense, and the legwork all combine in the final few minutes to create a fitting conclusion and put together one of the best finishing sequences of the year. The action was generally crisp and impactful, and the nearfalls were intense and convincing. Some nearfalls got exceptionally close to three, which had me on the edge of my seat. This match is a classic big man, little man story done absolutely right. The contrast here in styles of wrestling and size bring out the best in both men, making a rock solid match.

Rating: ****

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Trauma I vs. Canis Lupus – Mascara Contra Mascara – IWRG Zona XXI

            This match is not for the faint of heart. Here is a match where two guys kill each other for our enjoyment and for their pride. The first two falls here are mostly domination from Canis Lupus, where he beats the hell out of Trauma with stiff slaps and submissions. However, once Trauma makes the comeback at the end of fall two, this match picks up. While it did start hot with an immediate suicide dive from Canis in fall one, it reaches new heights once fall 3 begins, which is just great. They are just beating each other to death in fall three, with stiff as shit slaps and even the use of plastic chairs from the audience. There is also a total lack of respect, as both guys rip away at the other’s mask. By the end of this fall both guys are bleeding like hell, with Lupus just pissing blood. With the violence comes added drama, as both guys sell the exhaustion of such a brutal match perfectly. The exhaustion brings a new desperation, as submissions and rollups are used as dramatic nearfalls. The last five to ten minutes here are some of the most dramatic wrestling I have ever seen, with nearfalls, brutality, and cheating all coming together into something special. This is a very impressive and violent mask match where both men were unafraid to put their bodies on the line. Right here is a special, violent match that should be remembered among the great mask matches in lucha history.

Rating: ****¼

Yuji Hino & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Okabayashi & Go Shiozaki.png

Yuji Hino & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Okabayashi & Go Shiozaki – Fortunate Dream III

I feel like if you are familiar with the guys in here it pretty much describes itself. This match was the quintessential strong style match, with three of these guys (Hino, Okabayashi, and Sekimoto) renown for their stiffness, and Shiozaki, a great wrestler not as renown for stiffness, keeping up and then some. The match was pretty much all about proving who is the toughest and who can take the most. Most of this was done through chop battles, but the story was present through not just chops, but lariats, suplexes, and more as well. The progression of exhaustion in the sequences also adds a nice layer to a match where the main draw is “holy shit, look at these guys kill each other.” All the guys here had chemistry, with Sekimoto and Okabayashi’s being famous with multiple great encounters, but the two matchups that stole the show here were Okabayashi-Hino and Sekimoto-Shiozaki. Hino and Okabayshi’s exchanges were the most prominent, with the epic chop off in front of Kobashi and the exchanges in the finishing stretch being standouts, but Sekimoto and Shiozaki had sneaky good chemistry. The way the larger Sekimoto beat the hell out of Shiozaki only for Go to continue fighting and comeback was just tremendous. Even when the match slowed down with the heat segment on Okabayashi, it worked as the transition from the early going to the late game exhaustion. This match was the archetype of stiff, strong style, BJW-esque wresrling that has grown so popular. A testament to the quality here is that it went over 30 minutes but it felt like less than half that. When a match this long is such a breeze to watch, it’s proof to greatness.

Rating: ****¾

So that was RMR #15! To all of you reading, thank you for checking this out. The sheer amount of hours this took to make is absurd.  With this done, I’m now working on a new RMR, a new Starrcade review, and a new series! I’m not sure what will come out first. It mostly depends on what I want to watch. Check out new updates and such here, and check out some of my other writings at freeprowrestling.com. If you want to contact me, check here. Otherwise, like, comment, share, or do whatever else you want to do. Thank you for reading and see you next time!

-Terrance Smith

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