Old School Flashback: Mad Man Pondo Tears Apart Johnnie Walker

by Daniel Johnson

Mad Man Pondo vs. “Gentleman” Johnnie Walker

Gold is on the line in this encounter from Pro Wrestling International (PWI). Mad Man Pondo (at the time with flowing black hair as opposed to now) comes into this match as the PWI Television Champion after having defeated babyface Diamond Dan. Speaking of hair, commentator “The Real Deal” RD Reynolds picks on Pondo’s opponent, “Gentleman” Johnnie Walker for having too much body hair and looking like a Chia Pet. The clip gets a little risque when Reynolds’ broadcasting partner, “Dangerous D” Eugene Donaldson comments that Pondo’s valet, Lady Vendetta doesn’t look too hairy and Deal responds with, “She shaves, don’t worry about it.

As for the mechanics of the match it consists of a lot more mat wrestling than you would expect from someone named Mad Man Pondo. However, Pondo tires of this and gets up from the mat to hit Walker with some closed fists. From there Pondo hits his next big move by Irish whipping Walker into the ropes and hitting him with a clothesline. Unable to defeat Walker with his wrestling, Pondo utilizes his hairless valet by distracting the referee while she hits Walker with a trash can lid. Unsatisfied with just having his valet get a shot in, Pondo then reverses roles with her and hits Walker with the lid himself. Despite Walker blatantly having his feet under the ropes the ref, already having been proven incompetent, counts three and gives Pondo the win anyway.

For some more old school PWI action click here and here.

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Puro Flashback: A Japanese Sampler Featuring Katsuhiko Nakajima

by Daniel Johnson

Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kaz Hayashi

Katsuhiko Nakajima is a wrestler who is talented enough, yet at the same time young enough, where he could be said to have unlimited potential and for that statement to not be a complete exaggeration. Although at age 26 Nakajima already has over 10 years of experience he has a surprisingly finite number of accomplishments and matches that can be deemed truly memorable. Yet, Nakajima’s few faults make clips like these all the more significant.

Particularly if you are unfamiliar with one or more of these Japanese wrestlers this clip acts as a sampler. Although by the end, the match gels together more as a tag match, the different pairings of the singles wrestlers allows viewers not only to get a glance of what each wrestler has to offer, but what they have to offer against opponents with different techniques and styles. As such in the time that could be spent watching one Nakajima match or one Satoshi Kojima match a viewer can see both those wrestlers not only work, but how they vary their move set given the opponent. Also, some of the spots in this match are just plain fun such as:

*The much larger Hiroyoshi Tenzan trying to give Nakajima a brainbuster only to receive one himself.

*Satoshi nearly striking right through the chest of Kaz Hayashi with a brutal chopfest.

*Hayashi dropping an f bomb and then flipping off Kojima before throwing a spinwheel kick at him.

If you enjoyed this match and want to see a similar Japanese sampler click here. On the other hand if you just want to see one of Nakajima’s truly memorable bouts click here.

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Old School Flashback: The Heart Throb Wrestles The Gambler

by Daniel Johnson

The Heart Throb vs. The Gambler

This Pro Wrestling International (PWI) match sees The Gambler (no, not WCW’s Gambler) against The Heart Throb (no, not Antonio or Romeo).

As for the competitors even commentator “The Real Deal” RD Reynolds turns down his colleague “Dangerous D” Eugene Donaldson’s advice to help out The Gambler saying, “If he was a winner I would.” As for the other guy, The Heart Throb’s manager, Big Daddy comes out before his client and gives Throb a personal introduction by bragging about his sex appeal. The Heart Throb then enters to some nifty Right Said Fred music. Surely, at least The Heart Throb is the best wrestler to come out to that tune…or at least somewhere in the top 20. The Heart Throb completely dominates this match, but still feels the need to throw The Gambler outside at which point Big Daddy assaults him with a golf club behind the referee’s back. The Heart Throb then leaves the ring and throws The Gambler’s head against the ring apron, the ring post and finally hits him with a stool. This last move is done right in front of the ref, who seemingly just doesn’t give a crap. Back inside the ring The Heart Throb finishes his opponent off with a super slow clothesline and a DDT that is honestly quite decent.

After the match Big Daddy and his client give an interview. The two try to rile up this PWI TV crowd in Indianapolis, Indiana, but they just aren’t having it. Oh well, at least The Heart Throb gets to show off his ability to resemble a human Mr. Potato Head.

To check out more old school PWI matches go here and here.

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Puro Flashback: Two Current Champions in the United States

by Daniel Johnson

Seiya Sanada vs. Satoshi Kojima

Just days ago Seiya Sanada defeated Austin Aries to capture the TNA X Division Championship at TNA/WRESTLE-1 Outbreak. Interestingly enough at the start of the year Satoshi Kojima captured another significant title primarily defended in the United States, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Kojima is by far the more tested of the two with 16 more years in-ring experience than Sanada. That being said with this recent development Sanada’s career may eclipse that of Kojima as this continually rising star is even scheduled to wrestle at TNA Lockdown 2014 this Sunday. Although when all is said and done Sanada could be more highly regarded, this wasn’t always true.

Case in point this AJPW match from 2012. After some scientific wrestling between Sanada and Kojima that ends with Kojima switching from a chinlock to a headlock before knocking Sanada down with a shoulder block, Kojima really lets loose and beats the crud out of Sanada for the majority of this match. Really, in puro it is almost a rarity for one wrestler to so thoroughly dominate his opponent when the two are not wrestling a squash match. Also, from Kojima’s DDTing Sanada on the apron to Kojima nailing Sanada with a chopfest to Kojima closing out the bout with a vicious lariat, the fans are solidly behind Kojima.

Sanada’s career in TNA always has the potential to flop (after all the company screwed up big time using the best Japanese star in years, Kazuchika Okada). However, if Sanada flourishes it could open even more doors for proven Japanese wrestlers. Perhaps even the aging Kojima could get a shot beyond today’s NWA.

To check out more Sanada click here. For more Kojima click here.

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Old School Flashback: Dallas James Nearly Brands Apollo

by Daniel Johnson

Dallas “Tornado” James vs. Apollo

This Pro Wrestling International (PWI) match pits cowboy wrestler Dallas “Torando” James, who is accompanied by his tag team partner Austin James, against Apollo (not to be confused with the more famous Puerto Rican wrestler, Apolo).

The big banner in the background of this clip indicates that this episode of PWI TV is at least partially sponsored by Spalding (much to the chagrin of Cast Away’s Wilson), but rather than hyping sporting goods ring announcer, The Crowe introduces James straightaway. Commentator “The Real Deal” RD Reynolds pokes fun at James saying that it looks like he got his entrance gear from a Mexican restaurant. Apollo then comes out and taunts this Indianapolis, Indiana crowd by putting his fingers in his ears to ignore their voices/lack of applause. The beginning of this match features strikes, strikes and oh yeah even more strikes from Apollo. After ducking a clotheslines Apollo then tries to land some sort of wind up strike only to be caught by James. James then hits an absolutely butt ugly slam before pummeling Apollo like a nerd in the eighth grade. For the finish James hits a piledriver that looks slightly better than the slam he hit moments earlier. Yes, this one wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty brief. The clip closes with The Real Deal and fellow commentator “Dangerous D” Eugene Donaldson saying it looks like James is going to brand Apollo, but then…he doesn’t.

For more PWI action click here and here.

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The TNA Scouting Report: Matt Cage

by Jason Tolland

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Matt Cage

mattcage

Wrestling needs mouthpieces.

Like everyone else, wrestlers are not perfect, as much as I would love to believe otherwise. They often excel at one field, but lack in others. With wrestling, there are a million ways you can impress, and even more ways that you can disappoint people; you may be a great interview in the back, but if you suck in the ring you’re pretty much screwed. Only on rare occasions have people been able to get away with being terrible in the ring but make up for it with their personality: The best example would likely be The Ultimate Warrior. There are few people in history that had his level of intensity, and although his interviews lacked…um…substance, they always kept you on the edge of your seat. You had to listen. And when he’d come sprinting down that aisle to high-powered music and squashed a man in 60 seconds before sprinting off to the back, you couldn’t help but cheer the man like he was a god.

Then you have people like Charlie Haas. Charlie was arguably one of the best in-ring talents in wrestling at one point. In 2003 I would have ranked him as one of my favorites to watch. If there was a Charlie Haas match on a show, I can promise you I would be watching. However, the crowd never connected with him like they should have. Why? Simple: He had no personality or charisma. Later on in his career it even became a character of his, when he would impersonate wrestlers of the past because the writers felt it funny to take this guy that had almost nothing in the way of a personality and make him a comedy character. This made him arguably the most popular he’d ever been in his career. All these years of wrestling some incredible matches, and all it took to get a reaction from the audience was to dress up as Bret Hart and Beth Phoenix. If only he knew earlier.

The reason for both these examples is to prove just how great the man I am scouting today actually is: His name is Matt Cage. I first saw Matt in IWA: Mid-South at a Prince of the Deathmatch tournament (he wasn’t actually taking part in the tournament, but he had a great match on the show itself). He took part in a six-man tag and he was easily the most entertaining part of the whole match. Nothing against the others, but Cage just knew how to stand out and put the attention on him. His personality shined through and caught my attention, and then finding out he’s also a great wrestler to boot? Excellent.

How did I find out he’s brilliant on the mic you ask? Well I shall tell you. I listened to him commentate IWA: MS shows. God damn he was funny. He’s very much what Jerry Lawler wanted to be behind the announce booth. I know TNA have tried three man booths before and that didn’t exactly go as they planned, so I definitely don’t expect them to try that again. To be fair to them though, three man announce booths have never worked in the past either; just too much going on at once.

The great thing about Cage is that he could fit into any role that TNA wanted to give him: Want him to be a backstage interviewer? Done. A wrestler? Done. A manager? Done. He’s a man of many talents and he does them all with a flair (woo) that is quite rare these days. I personally feel the best role for him in TNA would be as a manager. Sadly, it’s mostly a lost art these days and although he’s a good ring worker, I don’t think he’d do enough to stand out in a company filled with amazing ring workers like Roode, Aries, Richards, Edwards, etc. His best bet would be to try and bring back some meaning to being a manager in 2014. Managers used to be one of the most important parts of any show they were a part of and people like Lou Albano and Bobby Heenan being in the WWE Hall of Fame proves that. Often times you can end up being more important than most of the people on the show: Look at Paul Heyman right now. He’s the best example of a manager these days and he was the focal point of a majority of 2013 for the WWE. He proves that when it’s done right, it can still be the best thing about the whole show. Cage has this very opportunity.

I hope one day he seizes it.

Photo Credit: Matt Cage on twitter.com

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Puro Flashback: Suwama Wrestles KENSO

by Daniel Johnson

Suwama vs. KENSO

This AJPW bout from nearly two years ago features Suwama and KENSO (formerly WWE’s Kenzo Suzuki) pulling out some good moves while not necessarily displaying the best chemistry with one another.

KENSO has the upper hand in the match for a brief bit in the beginning and hits plenty of strikes including some punches that look obviously worked. Heck, they might have even been making full contact, but what matters is they looked worked. Suwama gets some momentum going his way with a shoulder block and then lays in some vicious chops. Now, there’s a little bit of strong style for you! KENSO manages to throw Suwama out of the ring and gets the crowd clapping for him and then goes for a plancha over the top rope…only to miss Suwama completely and land face first into the outside mats. From there Suwama targets KENSO’s legs with some strikes, a single leg Boston crab and an ankle lock. This last move appears to really hurt KENSO because at around the 10 minute mark of this clip it sounds like KENSO is crying like a little girl. To make mattes worse KENSO then repeats the sound at around 11:25.

KENSO comes back and reminds us that he is not in fact a little girl when Suwama chops him and KENSO no-sells Suwama, Hulk Hogan style. Considering some of Suwama’s chops sound like they could easily displace a nipple, KENSO deserves some props for that. Suwama retreats to the outside and this time KENSO hits a planca over the top rope. On the outside KENSO runs into the audience, back onto the ring apron and finishes by walloping Suwama with a shoulder block. It could have been a pretty sweet spot if KENSO didn’t move so slow. Both men are down, but get back inside the ring before the referee reaches a 20 count.

With the match winding down Suwama gets a two count with a belly-to-belly suplex and then another two count with a running powerslam. KENSO then spears Suwama and gets a two count, but then misses a dropkick. KENSO starts selling his leg injuries from earlier in the match, but Suwama doesn’t pay attention to this selling and instead goes for a superplex. KENSO makes one last attempt to win the match when in desperation he pushes the referee and while the official has his back turned KENSO kicks Suwama dead in the nuts! From there KENSO lands some strikes and at one point even a shinning wizard. However, Suwama has the final upswing and wins with a belly-to-back suplex followed by a last ride powerbomb.

In more recent Suwama news his tag team with Joe Doering, Evolution earlier this month had Hikaru Sato join it thus making the group a stable. Meanwhile in recent KENSO news, his heel stable, Dark Kingdom, which formed late last year continues to struggle and face losses in AJPW.

To check out another Suwama match click here. For another KENSO match click here.

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Old School Flashback: Dragon Slayer Wrestles Johnnie Walker at PWI

by Daniel Johnson

Dragon Slayer vs. “Gentleman” Johnnie Walker

This 1996 bout comes from Pro Wrestling International (PWI) based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It features Wrestlecrap’s “The Real Deal” RD Reynolds on commentary long before he founded his wildly popular website. Joining him on commentary is “Dangerous D” Eugene Donaldson. Serving as the ring announcer is a man known as The Crowe, a guy who looks somber in a all black despite the silliness of the rest of the clip. As for the competitors The Crowe announces Dragon Slayer as from medieval times. Slayer then comes out wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket and pants that look like they came from a military overstock store. “Gentleman” Johnnie Walker on the other hand comes out with a flashy ring jacket on and Reynolds teases him by calling him a Chia Pet.

As for the in-ring action unfortunately the Dragon Slayer is nowhere near as innovative as the old school video game of the same name. Instead Slayer and Walker go after one another’s arms in the beginning and then trade various moves with Irish whips thrown out every now and again. Slayer has control of the match for a while after Irish whipping Walker and clotheslining him. For their parts Reynolds and Donaldson remind me a little of the commentators of WCW Monday Nitro because they talk over a lot of the match instead choosing to promote an upcoming show featuring Mad Man Pondo and Ian Rotten, who even back then were much bigger names than Slayer and Walker. After about five minutes of action in front of this PWI TV audience, Walker slays Slayer by planting him on the mat and landing a running leg drop. Hulk Hogan eat your heart out!

For more action from PWI click here. For action from a completely unrelated PWI (Pro Wrestling Ignition) based in Australia click here.

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The TNA Scouting Report: Rich Swann

by Jason Tolland

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Rich Swann

richswann

Rich Swann is a name well known by most who follow indie wrestling. He’s known as the happy-go-lucky guy who comes to the ring to the song “All Night Long” in PWG and standing 450’d his way into our hearts. He’s a lovable guy with an arsenal of impressive high flying maneuvers. What’s not too love? Probably the fact that he’s the same age as me and has already accomplished way more with his life…but I digress.

When I first saw Swann in CZW, I wasn’t too impressed. Although his team with Ryan McBride provided some entertaining matches along the way, Swann still had a lot of work to do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He was only 19 or 20 at the time. It’s impossible to be perfect at what you do by that age. He still had a very impressive move-set, but the music between the notes, so to speak, weren’t there at all. There was no psychology and Swann never had a character to connect with. He just had some good spots. He provided entertainment in the lower card, but it was impossible at the time to consider him becoming anything more than that. Luckily, he realized this too.

Swann is much improved. Everything he does is crisp and to the point, and though he doesn’t have a well defined character at this point, he’s got past that by improving his all around ring work phenomenally. There are few people in the world today I would much rather watch than him; it’s impossible for him to have a bad match. One talent I would love to see him bring to the ring more is his ability to play the guitar. We’ve seen people use a guitar in wrestling before successfully, especially if you’re blonde and from Memphis. It stands out, especially when you have legitimate talent at playing it.

Maybe this is where he could fit into TNA…

HHH once said that they don’t like to bring up NXT talent without an actual storyline reason behind it. This is an idea I can get behind. TNA (and all wrestling) should take this approach. People like Sam Shaw and Alex Silva failed originally because they had nothing of importance happen with them. There was nothing to connect to and get behind in the long run. They were generic guys and it showed. Silva is no more and it took Shaw a complete repackaging to get on TV again. They need to stop with stuff like this as it rarely, if ever, succeeds. TNA Gut Check was a failure because outside of their contestant’s original little sob stories, there was nothing to get behind them at all. We need less of that and more Shields, Wyatts and MVPs.

This idea may be far fetched, and it legitimately just came to me then as I was writing it, but what if Swann was to debut in TNA as…Jeff Jarrett’s son? That would be something a little different. It would also give him a top storyline immediately. Once MVP (presumably) wins total control of the company at Lockdown, he’s going to need someone to feud with. We’ve already had the nephew of Dixie so how about the previously unknown son of TNA founder Jarrett? I would much rather the guy come to the company with a proper story behind it instead of, “Here’s this new X division talent we’ve hired: Wealthy Goose!”

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

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Puro Flashback: Seiya Sanada and Joe Doering Get Wild in AJPW

by Daniel Johnson

Seiya Sanada and Joe Doering vs. Manabu Soya and Takao Omori

This AJPW bought features Seiya Sanada and Joe Doering, two men who have made good opponents, teaming up. Sanada and Doering’s opposition are Get Wild, an experienced duo made up of Manabu Soya and Takao Omori.

Sanada and Soya start the match and their exchange is literally too fast to call. When neither Sanada nor Soya can get the upper hand they tag in their respective partners. Doering and Omori are the bigger members of each of their respective teams and as such it is not surprising how vicious they are in laying into each other. At first Doering and Omori try to knock each other down with shoulder blocks. Seeing he cannot knock Doering down, Omori changes up his offense and simply throws a big boot into Doering’s face. This angers Doering who then shoulder blocks Omori out of the ring, which leads to some brawling.

Despite being the less seasoned team, Sanada and Doering actually gel excellently together and use a classic tag team strategy by repeatedly cutting Soya off from his partner and double teaming him. However, when all heck breaks loose and Omori brawls with Doering for an extended time period, Soya catches Sanada all alone. In the closing moments of the match Soya explodes on Sanada with a killer lariat. Ridiculously enough Sanada kicks out at one. Without hesitation Soya explodes again with an even more deadlier looking lariat and this time gets the win.

For some more modern day classic puro matches check out When in Doubt, Strike it Out and Sensational Sumo Smashes Samoan.

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