Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Into the Indies, the column that is starting to feel a little bit ignored.
Last week, I brought to you the second-ever edition of I2I Potpourri, which I admitted was a bit of a cop-out column necessitated by the fact that my schedule has been absolutely insane lately. I had hoped that I would be able to return this week with a more conventional installment of Into the Indies, but, unfortunately, between attending SHIMMER, filling in on Ask 411, and numerous things going on in my professional and personal lives, I haven't had as much time to devote to this little corner of the internet as I would normally like. As a result, you're all getting the historic THIRD edition of I2I Potpourri, a bevy of completely random match reviews that have little to nothing to do with one another.
My hope is to return in seven days recharged with a new, more conventional edition of this column. Possibly. Maybe.
In the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly unimportant opening match from a recent ZERO1 show. Why am I watching it, then? It's because all four men are young wrestlers and I'm interested in watching them develop, particularly Kawakami and Ishikawa, who I have seen and liked in some other recent matches. Ueda has the most experience of the foursome, debuting in 2007 while everybody else debuted in 2008. He and Saito are both ZERO1 dojo products, whereas Ishikawa and Kawakami came out of the school associated with Big Japan Wrestling.
Kawakami kicks it off with Ueda, and they lock horns with neither man getting an advantage. Kawakami works a headlock for a bit, but Ueda forearms out of it, which leads to the strikes being traded. Ueda comes out on top and in doing so moves Kawakami into his corner, setting up a tag to Saito. Kawakami shoots in and takes him down, but he backs off to avoid being caught in Saito's guard. The men return to a standing position, and Kawakami applies an armbar to drag his opponent over to the corner. Ishikawa tags in, and there is another forearm flurry before Ueda returns to the match. He chokes Ishikawa in the corner for a bit, and now there are MORE FOREARMS EXCHANGED. Christ, give it up already. Ueda heeds my complaints with a powerslam, which gets a two count. Ishikawa ducks a lariat and hits a forearm shot to set up the tag to Kawakami. He charges in like an idiot and gets caught in a Ueda front facelock. Ueda takes his man down and tags in Saito, who lands a dropkick in the corner before being taken down by a Kawakami lariat and belly-to-belly suplex. Those moves set up a nearfall, after which Kawakami applies the Boston crab. Saito tries to drag himself to the ropes to force the break, but Ueda is ultimately forced to save with a big boot. This leads to him brawling on the outside with Ishikawa. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Kawakami gets a mistimed back body drop and plants Saito right down on the flat of his head with a Saito suplex. That poor, poor man. MORE FOREARMS ARE TRADED. PURORESU HAS RUINED THAT SPOT FOR ME. Saito looks like he's going to mount a comeback with a single legged dropkick and a (slightly) less dangerous Saito suplex of his own which leads into a kick to the chest that gets him a three count.
Match Thoughts: Okay, forearm trading is really starting to get on my nerves. It was awesome when it was a spot every now and again in a major bout, but now I feel like I'm seeing it in ever third undercard match. It just feels like lazy wrestling at this point. However, aside from that complaint, these two young teams actually put together a competently worked little match. There was one slightly mistimed spot which did not get edited out and one frighteningly bad suplex, but those were minor points compared to the fact that the wrestlers' other offense looked good and the fact that they were largely in the right place at the right time. Nobody appeared to be a blow-away up-and-comer whose career I will want to track closely, but I also won't clamor for the fast forward button if I see any of these men again. **
CIMA vs. Jushin Liger (Super J Cup: Third Stage, 04/09/2000)
This is from the third installment of the legendary Super J Cup tournaments, featuring CIMA when he was still a young up-and-comer against Jushin Liger, who was essentially slumming it in this independent-hosted tournament during his time as THE man in the junior heavyweight division of the big league of New Japan Pro Wrestling. There's a lockup to start, and Liger gets a waistlock that is quickly turned in to an armbar. From there, Jushin takes his opponent down in to a headscissors, which is escaped only to be reapplied shortly after. Eventually, that becomes an armbar, which becomes a cross arm breaker. If I sound less than enthused, it's not because the match is boring . . . it's just that this "one hold in to another" stuff isn't too horribly exciting to transcribe. CIMA eventually rolls out of the hold, and then he gets a rather weak looking variation on the STF that he turns in to a headlock. The first "impact" move of the match sees CIMA taking Liger down with a snap mare, and a few boots to the face lead in to a chinlock from the Crazy Maxer. Liger manages to counter that in to a hammerlock, and many knees are dropped in to the locked arm. Liger applies a camel clutch, which is a particularly brutal version of the usually innocuous hold.
The clutch is released so that Jushin might stomp and forearm his hapless opponent's back, and he then gets a snapmare and a submission hold that I can't recognize yet feel I should know the name of. It's no big deal, though, as he quickly turns it in to a bodyscissors that gets reversed in to a CIMA camel clutch. Liger turns that into his surfboard/dragon sleeper combo, which is countered into a regular sleeper. CIMA powers up to his feet, but he's cut off as Liger stomps him in the back and piledrives him to get the match's first nearfall. A chinlock and a headlock follow from Liger, the latter of which leads to a shoulderblock. CIMA is sent in to the corner, where he's chopped and hit with a few shotei. Things start to pick up now, as a Liger charge is reversed in to CIMA's headscissors to the turnbuckle. A waistlock is then applied by the Toryumon grad, but Jushin elbows out of that . . . only to run in to the CIWEET chin music for two! CIMA follows that up with a dropkick that sends Liger to the outside, and a corkscrew pescada hits in short order. Both men return to the ring, and CIMA chops/slaps the more experienced wrestler in the corner before charging in and burying his feet in to Liger's gut. At least that's what I think happened, but the camera angle was such that we saw nothing other than Jushin's back.
CIMA then decides that IT'S TIME and lays out Liger with an Iconoclasm. What CIMA doesn't do is cover after that move, as he decides it would be much better to put his opponent back up on the top rope for the cross-armed Iconoclasm! He then heads up for the Mad Splash and . . . Liger pulls his knees up? Well, I suppose it'd be better than him kicking out. Liger's up, and he stomps his opponent in the corner and follows with another series of shotei. A Liger powerbomb out of the corner only gets one, and a subsequent brainbuster gets two. Jushin looks to finish with the shotei, but CIMA counters that in to a dragon sleeper, which he quickly turns in to an inverted DDT. Ultimo's student hits a dropkick, but he collides with a shotei on a second charge attempt, and Liger brainbusters him twice for a rather anticlimactic pinfall victory. CIMA refuses a handshake after the match.
Match Thoughts: I remember that, when I first watched this match ten years ago, I was PISSED. A lot of junior heavyweight wrestling fans at the time felt about Jushin Liger the same way that many internet fans felt about Triple H circa 2003. The guy always seemed to be booking himself over younger, hungrier competitors, much to the chagrin of some of wrestling's most vocal fans. This match seemed to be Liger dominating for no good reason at all other than to stroke his ego and win the tournament when CIMA would have gotten signifnicantly more mileage out of it at the time. The way the finish was put together seemed particularly harmful for the youngster, as Liger took all of his best stuff and then, out of nowhere, popped up and appeared no worse for wear, hitting a couple of moves and winning almost effortlessly. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and that's why, even today, I can't give it more than **1/2.
Yoshiko Tamura vs. MsChif (WrestleExpo, 08/20/2006)
This is an interesting match, as it's one of America's most beloved independent wrestlers going up against a former All Japan Women Junior Heavyweight Champion in the Land of the Rising Sun. We've got a pretty nice outdoor setup for this match, though it's detracted from somewhat by the fact that the attendance appears to only be in the low triple digits. MsChif goes on the attack early, shoving the referee out of her way as the official attempts to check Tamura for foreign objects and immediately hitting her patented Desecrator DDT. That would be a finish in 2010, but, at this point of MsChif's career, her opponent is able to kick out at two. Undeterred, 'Chif takes Tamura down to the mat and applies a variation on an armbar before a rope break is forced. The American wrestler lands a gutbuster after that for a nearfall, though Tamura is able to block a subsequent vertical suplex attempt and briefly catch MsChif in a choke. A variation of the northern lights suplex connects for Tamura, but MsChif reverses an Irish whip and uses that as the setup for a monkey flip. Tamura responds almost immediately with a swinging neckbreaker. 'Chif echoes her with the same move almost immediately, following it up with a non-desecrating DDT for two (and two for DDT).
MsChif's fisherman suplex also cannot put Tamura away, nor can her standing moonsault. The future SHIMMER Champion looks for a bodyslam, but it is either reversed, botched, or both . . . it's hard to really tell. Regardless of what that was supposed to be, Tamura goes on the offensive after it happens, hitting another northern lights variant and some knees to the head before shooting the scream queen in to the corner. Tamura misses with a running knee in that position, giving MsChif the opening for a German suplex before she heads to the top rope. A moonsault press connects, but it will not put Tamura away. MsChif runs the ropes but eats a complete shot for her effort and then a double arm DDT, though neither will end the match. Almost out of nowhere, 'Chif catches her woman with a bodyscissors takedown into a rollup, but Tamura kicks out. She also kicks out of a lariat, firing up afterwards for some strikes and a reversal of an attempt at the match's second Desecrator. Then, seemingly just because she can, Yoshiko Tamura runs the ropes, plants one big forearm in MsChif's face, and pins her.
Match Thoughts: This is one of those matches in which you like both of wrestlers just fine and hope that they'll do well against one another, only for something unexpected and unidentified to happen, with the whole match falling apart as a result. For whatever reason, the two women appeared to be on completely different pages, with both of them performing pro wrestling maneuvers seemingly at random with little to no cohesion or logical transition between them. I expected much better, but, for whatever reason, it was not to be. *
Curry Man, Super Boy, & Judo Suwa vs. TAKA Michinoku, Minoru Fujita, & Magnum Tokyo (Michinoku Pro, 09/05/1999)
And here we are visiting my favorite promotion from ten years ago, Michinoku Pro. This six man match comes from a period during which Ultimo Dragon had just established his dojo/promotion known as Toryumon, and M-Pro was doing a heck of a lot of cross-promotion with the group. On this particular tour, Toryumon's top heel stable, Crazy MAX, had aligned itself with M-Pro heels Curry Man (Christopher Daniels) and Super Boy (a SoCal/NoMex luchadore) to transform in to Super Curry MAX. Here, Super Curry MAX goes up against three of the top babyfaces in M-Pro, including TAKA Michinoku, who was still under contract with and on loan from the WWF at this pont.
Suwa kicks things off with Fujita, and Suwa takes control early with a lariat and some stomps before bringing Curry Man in. He gets a slam, and Super Boy follows him in with a senton from the top rope before officially tagging in to the match. I should note that SB does one of my all-time favorite gimmicks, the fat dude who for some reason still makes it as a high flyer. He gets a regular senton for another nearfall before tagging out to Daniels. He repeatedly takes Fujita down by the hair, but this ain't GLOW, so Minoru repeatedly no-sells the takedowns. He then pulls Curry down by the mask and gets a dropkick to set up the BIG boot rakes in the corner, all leading up to a drop kick directly to Curry's face! Both men make tags after that one, with Magnum and Suwa stepping up for their respective teams. The babyface dominates with a shoulder block, an armdrag, and a dropkick that sends his opponent to the outside. TAKA and Super Boy pair off now, and a springboard shoulderblock sends Michinoku to the outside, while Supes fakes a dive. Magnum Tokyo brings himself back into the match now, and he's paired up against Curry Man. Tokyo takes his opponent down and walks across his back, then waits for Curry to get up to his knees and hits the hip attack. Koshinaka would be proud. A chinlock is applied by Alex Wright's former flunky, and TAKA provides him with a spoon. Why, you ask? So he can pantomime eating the fake curry off of Daniels' head. Mr. Michinoku is also kind enough to offer a mug of water with which to wash things down. I probably found that whole exchange about ten times funnier than I should have.
We get back to the serious wrestling now, as Super Boy and TAKA are back in. Things don't look good for Supes, as Michinoku and Magnum team up to hit him with the KDX camel clutch/dropkick combo before switching roles and doing it for a second time. The triple humiliation spot follows, with Fujita getting the honor of standing on his adversary's back. When that breaks up, Curry Man ambushes Fujita and takes him down with a drop toe hold, setting up a senton from Super Boy for another nearfall. A moonsault also gets two for porky, and he brings in Suwa. Mr. Suwa uses the POWER OF THE ACNE SCARS to get a brainbuster for two, and he goes to the corner for some choking and mudhole stomping. After that, Fujita is placed in the Tree of Joey Lawrence and dropkicked in the face. A slam sets up a pretty nice sequence, as Super Boy drops a slingshot senton, followed immediately by a Curry Man split-legged moonsault, which is immediately followed by a Judo Suwa slingshot elbow drop. Believe it or not, all that can get is two. Minoru mounts a comeback when some heel miscommunication sees Daniels throwing him into perfect position to rana Suwa, and then there's a malfunction at the junction as Super Boy mistakenly dropkicks both of his teammates. That's the perfect opening for a hot tag to Magnum Tokyo, and he takes everybody out en route to hitting a big dive on Curry Man.
TAKA and Suwa then pair off as a result of the ring being emptied, and Michinoku fires off a rana before Judo takes over with a pair of flapjacks for two. Magnum makes the save and goes up against Super Boy, taking an early advantage by landing a top rope rana. He has difficulty slamming Super Boy, however, and Supes gets his own slam and a moonsault for two. TAKA takes down SB with a missile dropkick out of nowhere, and he signals for the Michinoku Driver . . . but, once again, the masked man's center of gravity is just too low. Supes gets another slam/moonsault combo for two, and this time it's Fujita making the save. Super Boy ignores him, deciding instead that it's time to bust out his tope suicida on Michinoku. FLY, FATASS, FLY! Curry Man is now left in the ring with Fujita, and he gets an Ace crusher for two, only to have a second one blocked. Minoru gets his Northern lights suplex for two, and he jumps into an Ace crusher of his own for a second nearfall. Those two brawl out of the ring, leaving us with the duo of Magnum Tokyo and Judo Suwa. Tokyo gives the opposition a drop toe hold to the bottom turnbuckle, and then lays him out with a DEADLY inverted superplex! The indescribably cool Viagra Driver sets up a shooting star press from Magnum, but Suwa's buddies make the save on what would've been a certain finish otherwise.
Super Boy and Curry Man are left alone with Tokyo, and they get a double team slam and dogpile on him for a two count. A Steiner-style super bulldog follows from the heels and also gets two, as TAKA makes the save. Super Boy is tossed, but Curry Man is still there and looks for the Spicy Drop on TAKA, only to have him flip out of it. The Michinoku Driver hits, but a save is made by Magnum. Then, in the photo op of the night, Michinoku and Magnum go up top and hit STEREO TOP ROPE ASAI MOONSAULTS ON TO SUWA AND SUPER BOY! Meanwhile, in the ring, Daniels is ambushed by a springboard dropkick from Fujita, and that sets up a KILLER dragon suplex to get the three count for Minoru at long last!
Match Thoughts: A really fabulous spotfest here, as everything was moving at a speed so fast that I could barely take notes on it, and, to make it even better, everything was actually connecting. There was comedy in the beginning that was actually funny (a rarity for many wreslting promotions), and that built into a fairly decent heat sequence before climaxing in a huge train wreck of flashy moves. However, despite the fact that it might have been a trainwreck to recap, you could clearly tell that there was no point at which the competitors were lost or confused as to what was going to happen next. Almost every pinfall after the hot tag to Magnum Tokyo would have been a believable finish, and it's a credit to the competitors that they could have been bought as finishes yet didn't do too much to devalue the big moves that set up the covers. Then, to top it all off, we even got the proper ending, as Fujita finally got a win over the heels that he had been chasing for the entire tour up until this point. Four great wrestlers clicked on all cylinders here, while simultaneously protecting the weaknesses of the two guys who aren't quite up to their level. ***3/4
And that will do it for the rhyming I2I Potpourri Number Three! We'll see you next week for another trip Into the Indies.
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