KURT RUSSELLREUNION 2: THE REUNIONING
January 29, 2011
Shane Helms . . . ingratiates himself to the fans so much that it causes them to start cheering one of PWG’s top heels.
The Young Bucks . . . put on their usual style of a match, but actually don’t irritate me in the process.
Claudio Castagnoli . . . once again shows that he and El Generico were tailor-made to work with each other.
PETER AVALON/CALEB KONLEY/JAKE MANNING/ODB vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER/BRANDON GATSON/WILLIE MACK/CANDICE LERAE
This is decent enough for what it is. Everyone gets their chance to shine in some form or another, and then moves on. There’s some fun comedy from the babyfaces, and then the heel team strings some nice sequences together while working over Mack, especially Manning’s lariat from the apron. The babyfaces come back, and the match turns into the usual finisher-fest, although it’s not dragged out as much as usual. Mack gets some serious height on his frog splash, and Avalon taps to Gatson’s armbar. It’d have been nice to see Gatson, or any of the babyfaces, work over the arm at some point, but, Avalon seemed to be the weak link of the team anyway.
Mr. AGUILA vs. REY BUCANERO
Despite the name-dropping of Lucha Libre, CMLL, Galavision, and Arena Mexico, this is miles away from looking like a real lucha match. It’s just a huge spotfest designed to pop the crowd and do little else. That would be fine if PWG was running this show in Kansas City, but this is Los Angeles! Aguila’s dives are a thing of beauty, and Rey stretches him out on the mat rather nicely, and it ends after Aguila slips on the rope trying a leaping armdrag, and opts to just finish Rey off with his moonsault. This is good enough for what it was, which was just a sprint to heat up the fans, but, if PWG is going to the expense of bringing in two CMLL workers, who’ve obviously worked together (given that they just had a hair match the month before), then they should have just had them go all the way with it.
JOEY RYAN vs. SHANE HELMS
The wrestling here is quite good, although the crowd pandering is better, especially Helms aping on Ric Flair, and his no-selling of Ryan’s superkick. It’s fun to watch Ryan dismantle Helms’ arm en route to the submission with the kimura, and they both throw in some nice counters and transitions, so, the crowd gets a nice wrestling match, even if they’re only worried about ragging on Helms. It would have been nice to see the Hollywood submission machine work a few more holds, the first attempt at the Kimura and the Fujiwara armbar were both gone as soon as they were there, and nobody would believe that the regular armbar would be enough to submit Helms, even if he’d had his arm worked over.
DAVEY RICHARDS vs. LOW KI
If you like stiff kicks and chops, then you won’t want to miss this. They try to get over the idea of using the strikes as a means to wearing down the midsection area, so that they have some meaning, but, Davey is more successful than Ki, because he actually works a few holds to push the story forward. Ki tries for the Dragon clutch at one point, but, it was late in the match, and he didn’t even get it applied. Davey and Ki both use some clever counters, the best being Davey’s legsweep to avoid a kick to the chest, and Ki being smart enough to sell his ribs from the bump. So, like Ryan/Helms, the fans get a pretty nice wrestling match, even though they only seem to care about stiffness. They keep things smart with a nice finish: instead of going overboard with near falls and big moves, they have a struggle on who can be the first to hit their big move. Davey yanks Ki off the top to stop the Warrior’s Wrath, and Ki gets up knees on the SSP and Davey is hurt enough by that, that he’s wide open for Ki’s diving stomp, which puts him away. All things considered, this is a good little match from two wrestlers who could have easily lost their minds. ***1/4
JAKE ROBERTS vs. SINN BOHDI
Considering that Jake isn’t in the shape to take any bumps, this pretty much goes how you’d expect. Bohdi works him over for a spell, mostly punches, kicks, and stomps, and then Jake gets his short-arm lariat finishes things with the DDT. It serves its purpose of getting Jake the nostalgia pop, and then gets out of the way.
LEGENDS BATTLE ROYAL
A few of the later entrants, Funk, Piper, Savio Vega, and Vampiro actually try to put on a good show. But, most of these guys are way past their prime, and can’t do very much. Most of the fun here, is just watching to see who is going to show up next. The only omission that seems to stand out is Hector Guerrero, since Chavo and Mando are both involved, it seems like they could have replaced Cruel Connection with Lazer-Tron. Funk and Piper are the final two and try to create some doubt about the finish. Terry seems to have it won, but Piper winds up winning. This is pretty much what you’d expect from a Battle Royal with so many wrestlers that really can’t wrestle anymore.
KEVIN STEEN vs. CHRIS HERO
There isn’t much of anything here that’s really surprising. It’s a lot of Steen doing his usual stuff, and Hero doing his usual stuff. It mostly works out well. Neither of them does anything stupid, and they manage to add a few smart touches and they string together some nice sequences to lead to the finish. The only really disappointing thing is Steen’s sharpshooter getting shit on, Hero gets the break as soon as Steen gets it on. Steen had done a respectable job of wearing Hero down, so the move really deserved more respect (especially considering he’d given Hero the powerbomb into the apron), even if they could use Hero’s height to explain why he got the break so easily. But, the finish run is good enough to make up for that one misstep. Hero and Steen try to outsmart each other, such as Steen baiting Hero into throwing the elbow and countering with his neckbreaker. Hero gears up for another elbow, and then boots Steen in the face for a near fall, and then a second one from Hero finally keeps him down.
JOHNNY YUMA/JOHNNY GOODTIME vs. NICK JACKSON/MATT JACKSON vs. BRANDON CUTLER/DUSTIN CUTLER vs. RYAN TAYLOR/BRIAN CAGE-TAYLOR
This is the best Young Bucks match that I’ve seen so far. It’s still just a big spotfest, but the two best moments are from them. The first comes early on, when everyone is taking turns pounding on Matt, and he stooges for everyone, and even takes a bump from the ref. The second, is a bit later, when they stop the Cutlers from doing some sort of tandem move, rather than a contrived setup or something needlessly flashy, Matt just pushes Brandon off the top, and Nick goes after Dustin. Other than those few touches, this may as well be a Dragon Gate match, everyone runs in and does their stuff, and there’s no attempt to tell a story. There’s no build to the finish other than Yuma and Goodtime hitting the right move at the right time.
CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI © vs. EL GENERICO (PWG World Heavyweight Title)
This plays out a lot like their BOLA match from the following August, only without Generico being able to pull off the upset. They both do a great job in pushing the story of Generico’s knee. Claudio is great at working it over, and Generico adds smart touches to keep it in mind, like charging at half speed, and being unable to do his pescado. So, it makes Generico’s idea of just blowing off the uppercut to do the running boot that much more disappointing. Generico makes up for it later with his smart counter to the Ricola bomb. Aside from the knee story, they also establish how well Claudio can think on his feet, with spots like the backbreaker on the floor, and Claudio ducking the enzuigiri and doing the dead lift into the German suplex. When Claudio realizes that Generico isn’t going to stay down, no matter what he hits him with, he goes back to the knee, with a single leg giant swing into a stretch muffler for the submission. It’s too bad that Generico lost his mind, and felt the need to thumb his nose at the story and do that running boot. This still ends up being the best match of the show, and, yet another example of how well these two can work together. But, it’s a sour note to an otherwise very good match. ***½
Conclusion: Overall, this is a nice offering from PWG. Aside from the Roberts match, there wasn’t anything actively bad, and, the main event and Davey/Ki are good enough on their own to warrant seeking out.