Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ultima Lucha Dos: Part 2 Review

Part two of the huge Ultima Lucha season finale!

Gift of the Gods Championship: Sexy Star def. Daga, Killshot, Mariposa, Marty Martinez, Night Claw and Siniestro de la Muerte in 26:08
Unlike last year, this is elimination. Night Claw is the only guy to get an entrance, as he is making his debut. The interpersonal rivals are an early focal point as Sexy Star and Mariposa go at it while Killshot and Martinez fight outside. As you would expect, this had a ton of fast paced action and so much going on. Night Claw eliminated Siniestro at 2:55, which was surprising. Kobra Moon watched her boo Daga from the rafters. Daga got a big match after the break as did Sexy Star and Marty on dives. Marty is pretty agile for his size. Daga and Marty had great back and forth at one point. Night Claw got another elimination, sending Daga home at 10:55. He also climbed atop Dario's office and hit a goddamn moonsault off of it onto everyone else! By the way, I believe Night Claw is the legit brother of Fenix and Pentagon Jr. Killshot took out Mariposa with a DVD on the apron before hitting an impressive cutter on Marty. Night Claw missed a phoenix splash so Killshot eliminated him with a storm cradle driver at 14:33. Sexy and Killshot teamed up against the butterfly siblings. Marty and Mariposa took out Sexy before Mariposa ended Killshot with the vertebreaker at 16:41. Down 2 on 1, Sexy was in trouble. There is a storm here so I lost connection to my app for a while. I missed Mariposa's elimination but it came back on in time to see Sexy Star make Marty tap out to an armbar and win. Really fun match and a great bookend to the Sexy/Marty angle that began last year. ***3/4

We got some angle advancement where Joey Ryan and Cortez Castro are setting up Mr. Cisco with a wire. He's got to get info on Dario Cueto to clear himself of all charges.

Death Match: Mil Muertes w/ Catrina def. King Cuerno in 13:48
Like any good rivalry like this, these two just came out of the gates fighting. This was just a war exactly how it needed to be. They brought chairs into play and went to battled in the crowd. Hell, they even fought up where the band always plays and beat each other up with instruments. Things moved back to the ring but not for long. They climbed the stairs, where Cuerno put Muertes' head through the window. Mil no sold it and did it back to him. I love how, two seasons in, they still find new, innovative ways to do things around the Temple. Cuerno made the mistake of going after Catrina, leading to a powerbomb through a table. Mil really seemed pissed, so he did a second and then a third! Not done, Muertes leveled Cuerno with a crowbar and then used a sick looking tombstone to win. Muertes was awesome throughout all of season two and this was another good performance. They didn't quite reach the levels of Muertes/Fenix but this was a lot of fun and really well done. ***1/2

Matt Striker spoke about Pentagon Jr. beating Vampiro in Cero Miedo last week. He mentioned that Vampiro has distanced himself from being Pnetagon's master at times. Vamp poured out all of his pills into the garbage and said it was time to go get his student ready for next week before walking off.

Dario Cueto was shown in his office when Mr. Cisco came in. He wanted in on whatever it is that the boss was doing. Dario was suspicious and quickly figured out that he was wearing a wire. Dario took the wire and shouted into it that the cops could come get him if they wanted. Ryan and Castro were shown listening. Dario broke the microphone before saying that the cops are gonna want him for murder and then proceeds to MURDER MR. CISCO WITH A THE BULL STATUS THAT MATANZA KILLED THEIR MOM WITH! I fucking love Dario. He got on the phone afterwards and all we heard was "it's time."

Overall: 8/10. Neither match tonight was MOTY level, though I really enjoyed the entire program. The Gift of the Gods match took up a big chunk of the time, moved along quickly and was a very fun match. The main event was strong and then the Dario angle was great. Add in Vampiro being great as the show closed was also a highlight.

If you do want to check out Lucha Underground, which you absolutely should, and don't get El Rey Network (like me), you can sign up for the streaming service Fubo.TV. It's a great way to support the company and channel while streaming the show online. You can sign up and get Lucha Underground right here with

G1 Clima 25 Nights Five & Six Review

G1 Climax 25 Nights Five and Six
Night Five (Block A)
July 26th, 2015 | Hiroshima, Japan | Attendance: 3,360
Night Six (Block B)
July 28th, 2015 | Oita, Japan | Attendance: 1,580

Things get a bit shaken up heading into this set of shows. Shinsuke Nakamura, a heavy favorite to win the whole thing, injured his elbow and would be forced to forfeit his night six match against Michael Elgin. His status for the rest of the G1 Climax was up in the air.

Block A
Bad Luck Fale (2) vs. Doc Gallows (0)

These two guys also met in the G1 Climax 24 and it was a similar match. Honestly, that’s kind of what you have to expect from Fale and Gallows. You get a plodding brawl because that’s what they’re good at. This was never going to be Tanahashi vs. Ibushi or Nakamura vs. Okada. They fought in the crowd, did the trademark big man spot of trying to out-clothesline the other and not much athleticism. I liked their match from a year before better, though I guess that isn’t saying much. Fale won with a shitty grenade, most likely because Gallows taking the Bad Luck Fall could have had issues.

Winner: Bad Luck Fale (4) in 8:43
This was about what you’d expect from Fale and Gallows. A plodding hoss battle between two big fellas. Though just because it’s what I figured I’d see, doesn’t make it any good. 

Block B
Yujiro Takahashi (0) vs. Yuji Nagata (2)

Anybody that has seen enough Yujiro Takahashi matches knows that he works best in small doses. Not because he’s much better in that setting but because he’s plain awful when his matches go long. Unfortunately, this one passed the ten minute mark. It felt like it went for about 25. It just dragged as neither guy seemed to bring their best. Like most Takahashi matches, it was just there. I like Nagata but this was about as bad as the previous match. Takahashi got his first win via Miami Shine.

Winner: Yujiro Takahashi (2) in 12:02 
Watching lengthy Takahashi matches is the worst. Like getting a root canal bad. He brings it all down. This sucked ass. 

Block A
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2) vs. Toru Yano (0)

This was the third G1 Climax meeting between the two in three years. The first two weren’t anything special and I came in expecting more of the same. I came away pleasantly surprised. Yano had some different tricks, including taping Tenzan to the guardrail outside to try and steal a countout victory. After some back and forth, we got a very scary moment. Tenzan connected on a headbutt off the top, instantly busting Yano open. I mean, the blood was everywhere immediately. The true trooper that he is, Yano kept going and won after a low blow and backslide.

Winner: Toru Yano (2) in 6:38
The best match I’ve seen between these two. They didn’t do anything crazy, but it was fun for the most part. It’ll be memorable for the blood and I’ll give it an extra ¼ for Yano being badass. **¾

Block B
Hirooki Goto (2) vs. Tomoaki Honma (0)

The Intercontinental Champion against the guy that never wins but manages to stay super over. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Honma was born for the G1. They worked this match at a great pace and delivered some great hard hitting stuff. Honma relentlessly went for Kokeshi and the crowd bit on it every single time. It’s great because the fans knew Honma won’t win but they believed hard as the match progressed. He countered Shouten Kai into a small package and I actually thought he had it and I knew the result going in. That tells you something about underdog Honma’s ability. Despite the valiant effort, as always, Goto put him down with Shouten Kai. Honma sold the loss like it killed him.

Winner: Hirooki Goto (4) in 12:20
Tomoaki Honma does it again. The guy just clicks in this setting. He and Goto had a really strong, hard hitting battle that worked the crowd into a frenzy. This was just shy of being great and easily the best thing on the two nights up to this point. ***¾

Block A
Katsuyori Shibata (2) vs. Togi Makabe (2)

Two of the toughest, hardest hitting dudes in all of New Japan. They came out of the gates charging and Makabe laid out Shibata with a big lariat. That set the tone for the kind of match it would be. Both guys played to their strengths and waged war for the duration of the match. There were some cool close calls, like Makabe getting a near fall on a powerbomb. They exchanged forearm shots and did the “kick out at one” tough man thing that is a staple of Shibata matches against other badass dudes. It works in these situations because it is just two guys trying to prove who is tougher. Shibata won this won after the sleeper hold/penalty kick combination.

Winner: Katsuyori Shibata (4) in 9:35
If I asked you to tell me what you’d expect from a ten minute Shibata/Makabe match, this would be it. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s what you want, need and get from them. This was a tidy ten minute battle and another strong outing from Shibata. ***¾

Block B
Karl Anderson (4) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (4)

Two guys that have started this tournament 2-0 collided here. Both guys game out of the blocks firing, looking to have a great match. I have to admit, Anderson, who I usually like, seemed to be coasting through the first two nights. He’s had two solid matches but they weren’t anything special. He picked up the pace here, trying to match Ishii’s intensity. Having to make up for the lost Elgin/Nakamura match, they were given a good chunk of time and did well with it. As Anderson talked smack, Ishii fired up and just took some heavy forearms like they were nothing. Anderson learned that Ishii is like a Samoan. He tried to headbutt him but it went very poorly. Ishii hit a headbutt of his own before scoring with the Brainbuster, remaining unbeaten.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii (6) in 16:31
Despite the slow start, this really picked up near the end. The final five or so minutes are pretty great. Ishii staying undefeated is certainly interesting. Best Anderson match of this G1 so far. ***½

Block A
AJ Styles (4) vs. Kota Ibushi (2)

Back in April, AJ Styles successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Kota Ibushi. This match ranked tenth in my “Top 100 Matches of 2015” list, putting it third among G1 Climax matches. There was so much to like about this. They played off of their previous match, countering each other early and often. Ibushi is a freak athlete and has the high flying skills that Styles used to possess. No longer in that stage of his career, Styles changed his game up and continued to show why he is among the smartest workers in wrestling. He did show that he still has it as he responded to an Ibushi backflip kick with his signature Pele. Styles survived some of Ibushi’s biggest offense. Knowing the damage it does, Ibushi did everything in his power to avoid the Styles Clash, which was the move that he lost to at Invasion Attack. After some incredible back and forth, Ibushi nailed the Phoenix Splash and won. He joined Tanahashi, Okada, Naito (and eventually Nakamura) as the only men to pin Styles in NJPW.

Winner: Kota Ibushi (4) in 19:10
The best match of the tournament up to this point. They played off of and bested their first encounter. Both guys worked very hard and this just had a big fight feel. Both guys are among the best in the world and showed why here. Unfortunately, we never got a rubber match between them. ****½

Block B
Kazuchika Okada (4) vs. Satoshi Kojima (2)

With no Nakamura/Elgin match, we’re already up to the B Block main event. Kojima is only behind Nagata as my favorite of the older generation of NJPW stars. The crowd loved him and were into him from the start. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm died down as the match wore on. They were actually mostly dead for the entire night. Kojima and Okada worked hard to get them invested. It was good at times but never reached great territory. Kojima nearly took off Okada’s head with a lariat before Okada made his big comeback that we’re all used to. They built towards a good finish that saw Kojima try for a lariat, only to get nailed with the Rainmaker. 

Winner: Kazuchika Okada (6) in 18:22
This was good, just nowhere near great. The crowd’s lack of energy contributed to that for sure, but neither guy seemed to take it to the next level. Solid performances, though I wish we got more. The big main events so far, outside of night one, have failed to outperform some of the undercard stuff. This was another example. ***¼ 

Block A
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) vs. Tetsuya Naito (2)

This match came in at #84 on my “Top 100 Matches of 2015” list. Two years prior, these two men faced off in the finals of the G1 Climax, which proved to be disappointing. This match wasn’t. Naito was fresh into his heel turn and just starting to turn on the persona. I feel like this was the match where he really solidified it. His mannerisms during the match were spot on. They brought a table into play, which was a nice change of pace since we don’t see much of that in the G1 Climax. Tanahashi continued to step his game up in the G1, but the real story was Naito. He really seemed rejuvenated in this role. Naito worked the neck throughout, setting up Destino, which earned him the victory.

Winner: Tetsuya Naito (4) in 24:14
A fitting way to close things out with one of the better main events so far. There are certainly better matches in the tournament from a pure in-ring perspective, but there weren’t many others that solidified a character the way this one did for Naito. He rode that wave all the way to the Heavyweight Title less than a year later. ****

Overall: 7.5/10. After a very sluggish start for both nights, the shows combined to put on a very good series of matches. Block A was the better half again, with a really strong Shibata/Makabe match and two great main events. Ibushi/Styles was the best thing the tournament has delivered so far. The four B Block matches were pretty good. None of them were must see and only one was flat out bad.

Block APointsBlock BPoints
AJ Styles4Kazuchika Okada6
Bad Luck Fale4Tomohiro Ishii6
Hiroshi Tanahashi4Karl Anderson4
Katsuyori Shibata4Hirooki Goto4
Kota Ibushi4Michael Elgin2
Tetsuya Naito4Satoshi Kojima2
Togi Makabe2Shinsuke Nakamura2
Toru Yano2Yujiro Takahashi2
Hiroyoshi Tenzan2Yuji Nagata2
Doc Gallows0Tomoaki Honma0