May 28, 2011

Joey Ryan . . . can be a lot of fun to watch, but even he can’t work for four.

The Young Bucks . . . prove that they know how to work, and make me not hate them as a result!

Akira Tozawa . . . says sayonara to PWG by wrestling twice in one night.


This isn’t bad at all, but, it never becomes anything more than occasionally fun. Kenny brings the flashy offense to keep the crowd excited. Brian has a couple of nice tricks up his sleeve, the superplex from the apron is straight out the Claudio Castagnoli handbook, and he has Chuck Taylor to distract the ref, or cheat to get him ahead. But, neither of them does much to flesh out a story beyond that, although they don’t really need to. With Chuck ready to assist, Brian really doesn’t need any sort of focused game plan, and, the onus isn’t on Kenny to carry things. The finish is a bit disappointing, with no real comeuppance for the Taylors, Chuck can’t take any bumps because he’s injured, and his interference doesn’t backfire on Brian in any way. Kenny just gets the right opening and finishes Brian with the Royal Flush.


Like the previous match, this ends up being more fun than it is good. Even when they’re not doing anything other than punching, kicking, and chopping, Steen and Tozawa manage to entertain, especially Steen. Yuma and Goodtime start off hot and heavy, wanting to throw down with Steen in retaliation for his attacking them in January after they won the four-way match, but, the intensity quickly wavers, and they don’t have much else to offer other than flashy spots. There was a nice moment when Steen had Yuma in the sharpshooter, and it looked like he was going to pass out, but then Yuma ruined the moment by doing the Hulk-Up comeback. Steen and Yuma work a nice finish, with Steen learning from before when he tried to draw out setting up the Package Piledriver and lost it, but, when he gets a second chance, he quickly hooks up Yuma and spikes him on the apron and then rolls him in to finish him off. If Yuma and Goodtime had brought the same intensity they showed in the first two minutes to the rest of the match, then this could have been really good. It’s definitely not bad, but, without Steen and Tozawa to keep things amusing, this would have been a real stinker.


The early portion of this was fun, with Mack showing that he was every bit as athletic as Ricochet, despite the disparity in size. But, the match just falls to pieces after that. They both show off some nice stuff, especially Mack’s ode to Hero and Claudio, and Ricochet’s rana that nearly killed Mack, and then adding an exclamation point with a standing 450 senton and the SSP. But, there’s nothing as far as any real storytelling goes, and no reason to really care about the outcome unless one is already a big fan of either of them, or there’s money riding on the outcome.


If not for Ryan, this would have been a total waste. Sky doesn’t add much other than the finish, countering Dustin’s tombstone into a kneebar, and, it’s Ryan who makes it work, by cutting off Brandon, and stopping Dustin from getting the ropes, to eventually force the submission. The only nice things from the Cutlers were Brandon catching Sky when he slipped off the ropes, and fallaway slamming him into Ryan, and their method of choking Ryan behind the ref’s back. Ryan still looked far away from being a submission machine, but, his early work targeting the arm was fun to watch, and he had a knack for being in the right place to keep things moving along, like his two dives. This still isn’t even close to being good, but, without Ryan, it’d be so much further away.


For a stretch, it looked like this was going to be the best match up to this point. Eddie started focusing on Generico’s leg, and Generico was great at putting it over. Generico added some smart touches like doing the dive off the turnbuckle instead of the plancha, and also charging at half speed, which led to a great moment when he went for the Heluva kick, and Eddie (who’d had sufficient time to rest) met him halfway with a running knee. They smartly play off this later, with Generico baiting Eddie into charging and then planting him with the Exploder in the corner. Then, just after the Exploder spot, they go crazy with a no-selling pop up sequence, including Eddie blowing off a half nelson suplex and Generico no-selling a backdrop. Generico hits the running boot and goes for the brainbuster, and Eddie picks him up for a vertical suplex that sends them both to the floor. Eddie doesn’t even block and counter, Eddie just does the suplex like nothing happened. Things get even worse with Generico getting a near fall from a Michinoku driver on the apron and then Eddie jumping up and meeting him on the top rope. They come back to their senses for the finish, when Eddie outsmarts Generico and gets his half-crab for the submission. The best stuff here, leaves everything before it in the dust, but, then they went crazy and tore down a good bit of what they built up. ***


After their performance here, the talk of the Young Bucks being the best tag team in the world doesn’t seem quite so insane. I’m not jumping on their bandwagon after one good performance, but it does make me want to see more of them. They’re great with their selling and stooging for Aries and Strong, and, when it’s their turn to control things, they don’t go crazy with the overdone spots. The champs are good at baiting in Aries, and also for stopping him from making the tag. Some might not like the series of back and chest rakes to Strong, but, they were able to make it work. The only weak moment of the match was the sequence where Nick tries the Last Chancery and Strong puts him in the Stronghold, and that because Nick had to slow things down, because Strong wasn’t ready. Aries finally gets the hot tag, and he and Strong go back to working them over, and it seems more and more likely that they’ll finally be able to finish them off, especially when Aries pushes Nick off the top to the floor, and leaves Matt at their mercy. But, Matt finds it in him to take the beating and keep fighting, he doesn’t pop up after a big spot just to do something of his own, he takes the abuse and barely kicks out. The finish puts over the ‘Bucks brains as much as their luck, with Nick stopping from Aries from coming off the top, and Matt outsmarting, and outwrestling, Strong with a crucifix to steal the win. After such a lackluster undercard, and Generico and Eddie going off the deep end, this was quite the breath of fresh air. ***½


All things considered, Tozawa should have just let the tag match with Steen be his PWG farewell. The idea of Hero winning by ringing Tozawa’s bell works in theory, but the actual execution falls short. Orton and Christian did a far better job telling a very similar story less than a month later. Hero hits an elbow while Tozawa is airborne for a tope, and then does a seated dropkick when Tozawa crawls back into the ring, and that by itself was nice. But, then the match just falls apart and turns into a big stiff-a-thon, with none of the strikes or big spots having any real meaning. Hero hits a series of suplexes and Tozawa jumps to hist feet. Then, Tozawa gets his turn to hit a bunch of suplexes so Hero can jump to his feet. Hero does finally stay down when Tozawa switches gear from a backdrop suplex to a straightjacket suplex, but, you’d think that the pin would come as a result of the cumulative effect of Hero getting planted over and over, not Tozawa deciding to hook up his arms.

CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI © vs. LOW KI (PWG World Heavyweight Title)

As far as ‘wrestler versus striker’ matches go, this isn’t bad. Ki lays in some wicked shots, and Claudio smartly decides to outwrestle Ki to get ahead, rather than trying to trade strikes. But, until they start winding things down, there’s nothing of any real surprise. Ki does his usual stuff and Claudio does his usual stuff. It works out well, but, the match feels more like an exhibition rather than something with a life of it’s own. Their best moment was Ki’s counter to the Swiss death uppercut, when he came down with a stomp onto Claudio’s arm. Ki’s follow up was going to the top for his diving stomp (with a great counter from Claudio) rather than taking advantage of the arm. The finish is a bit like Claudio’s match with Generico from January, with Claudio having an extra ace up his sleeve when his usual finisher doesn’t get the win. Ki kicks out of the Ricola bomb, but Claudio sends him back up for the Swiss death uppercut again, and that keeps Ki down for good. The best parts of this don’t come close to the best parts of Eddie/Generico, but, this is still a better match overall. ***1/4

Conclusion: As much of a pleasant surprise as it was to see the Young Bucks bring the goods, and another good Claudio main event, there’s just too much mediocrity to recommend it as a whole.