"Guitarmageddon" Review

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"Guitarmageddon" Review

Postby onlxn » Sat Jul 08, 2006 6:15 pm

Some ramblings of mine from the DVDVR board...
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Just wrapped up a viewing of PWG's "Guitarmageddon", their show from last June. Really fun show, and one of their best of '05, albeit with some weird booking affecting things on the margins.

- Arrogance vs. Gunning For Hookers was a bit of a waste of Arrogance, but given the card, a low-key outing from them made some sense. Really a nothing little match, albeit one with a couple great moments from Bosh. His early monkey-flip into a smug raised eyebrow is choice, and I laughed out loud at his reaction post-Lioncock punch -- he grabs the ref with a look of concern, as if to say, "What is this tremendous force that has come over me?" Delightful. But a nothing match.

- Puma vs. Davey Richards vs. The Human Tornado is about as good an example as you can find of a styles clash. You have Puma and Davey, who match up great together stylistically... and then you have Tornado, who's a completely different type of worker, just dozens of pages away from them. I get that they didn't want to run Puma/Davey in straight singles yet, because of their mini-feud, but damn, Tornado's presence here really hurt things. Some fun moments from each guy, but a mess overall, and nothing worth checking out.

- The real fun begins with Joey Ryan vs. Alex Shelley. Before his current mustache/molester phase, Joey had this run where he'd cheat to beat good technical workers -- Rocky, Hero, Claudio, etc. -- and then proclaim himself to be the supreme technical wrestler. It was a fun idea, but the matches never really clicked, because Joey just isn't talented enough on the mat to make that story work. He's clearly not a whiz on the mat, but he's also not emotive enough to sell being outclassed on the mat. So you'd have these matches with long stretches of generic matwork and screwjob finishes, and they just didn't really go anywhere. Except for this one, because Alex Shelley is that fuckin' good.

Starts with 10-12 minutes of Shelley just humiliating Joey on the mat. Watching this again, I actually thought this section could've been a little shorter; still, it's shitloads of fun, as it's basically Shelley showing what he can do on a mannequin. Millions of little flips, roll-ups... just awesome. Joey finally takes over by posting Shelley's shoulder and does some nice armwork; Shelley's selling is great and consistent. Shelley even guides Joey through a nice hot nearfall section, something Joey doesn't have the offense to pull off most of the time. Nice little section of traded superkicks, into a series of pin reversals, into the expected rope-assisted finish. This isn't a MOTYC or anything, but it's a fucking blast, and the best Joey Ryan match I've ever seen. I heart the Alex Shelley.

- You'd expect Aerial Express vs. Los Luchas to be really smooth and fluid, given that these four broke in together in Rev Pro, and it is. The nice thing I didn't expect was that they worked a semblance of a Southern tag, with the AXP putting a long, mildly heelish beatdown on Phoenix Star. It's a shame that Los Luchas keep wearing out their welcome with constant no-shows, because Phoenix Star is one of the great undiscovered workers out there -- he's like a slightly more high-flyin' T.J. Perkins, really that crisp and good. Zokre, on the other hand, gets more and more exposed I see him, but at least he hit his stuff pretty cleanly here. Nice match, and less spotty than you'd think.

- A.J. Styles vs. James Gibson, while the title match and probably the biggest drawing card, didn't end the show because of the SBS stuff. Anotrher match that falls into the "very good but not great" category. The match had a nice intense dynamic to it, as both of these guys play serious well -- there was a real title-match feel, which isn't something you get in PWG all that often. Everything was paced really nicely, they transitioned well -- it all worked, certainly. There just wasn't quite enough substance for it to hit that next level; as with so many A.J. matches, you can feel them spacing out their signature spots here and there. Also, the heat was hurt by A.J. putting the NWA heavyweight belt on the line beforehand, as it made the result an even more foregone conclusion. Still a fun match, and in some ways A.J.'s the only champ PWG's ever had that really had the aura of being one.

- We're then treated to a long back-and-forth setting up Joey versus Mr. Excitement for the Anniversary show. This really cracked me up. Don't get me wrong -- I like that PWG just basically turns the camera on and lets things happen. It's a nice contrast to ROH, where the editing, commentating and everything almost gets coercive in terms of telling you what to look for. Still... this was like nine minutes of hype for Joey Ryan versus Mr. Excitement. You have Excitement making these vague allusions to past moments in his career, and you can just feel DVD watchers everywhere checking the back of the case and saying, "Wait, WHO is this guy?" Excitement's actually decent on the ring, but this was slow and long and mildly pointless; not sure it needed to make the cut.

- Christopher Daniels vs. El Generico, like Styles/Gibson, actually suffered from having a high-profile belt on the line (in this case, the X-Division title) -- not that you'd expect Generico to win anyway, but it really made the whole thing feel like a waste of time. Not a bad match, though. Daniels got a lot of shit for his PWG performances over the last year; I don't think his performances were bad so much as aimed at the wrong audience. He started doing a classic stalling cocky heel shtick, and he was actually kinda good at it. Didn't go over well, though, because PWG crowds love spots, and they also love Christopher Daniels. But in this one match, it worked fine, because Generico is such a tremendous babyface that the crowd couldn't help but get on Daniels a little bit. A fine little underdog match. Generico didn't get many great nearfalls, which I actually kind of liked. PWG matches almost always feature guys getting loads of nearfalls, no matter their rank in the pecking order; Daniels is way above Generico, though, so it makes sense that Generico wouldn't threaten him all that much.

- The main was Super Dragon & Disco Machine vs. Kevin Steen & Excalibur, continuing the Dragon/Steen feud. More anticlimactic booking here, as clearly the only possible upshot of this match was Disco turning on Dragon. But the way that it was executed was awesome -- Steen and Excalibur beat the living shit out of Disco, Dragon's clearly contemptuous of Disco's struggles (even kicking him repeatedly at one point), so Disco snaps and switches. Some really great work done here, as Steen and Excalibur make great heels, and Disco shines in probably his biggest PWG match. It's friggin' amazing how Steen instantly and completely meshed with the So-Cal guys, something a lot of workers have trouble doing; it's like this pasty Canuck traded brains with Rising Son or something. As you might expect, a tad sloppy and overblown at points; still, really good match.

- The show finishes with a pointless pro-AXP promo by Dino and a really mishandled promo by the new SBS. Excalibur, Steen and Disco can all talk, but they were all stumbly and unprepared here; also seemed like Disco never quite figured out how to explain why he turned on Dragon. It really shouldn't have been included, as the match told the story so much better.

Super-fun show, with the last five matches all bringing something to the table. I'd only label it "must-see" for people who like the PWG style, as AXP/Luchas and the main are both fairly spotty and whatnot, but even for people who don't like that stuff, Joey/Shelley and AJ/Gibson might be worth a look.
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Postby SoCalAndy » Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:18 pm

A.J.'s the only champ PWG's ever had that really had the aura of being one.


This is honestly like the most ridiculous statement I've ever seen poted on this board.
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Postby onlxn » Sat Jul 08, 2006 7:26 pm

I said "in some ways". And I went into why on the DVDVR board. But your one-sentence commentaries are always a pleasure, Andrew...
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Postby SoCalAndy » Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:39 pm

I'd try to find your comments on it, but I'm tired and can't find your review and don't want to go through random threads and want to watch these It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia episodes I just downloaded. But I stand by my statement. AJ was honestly one of the worst champions in company history(I'm torn between who I thought was the weaker champion, him or Peace) and he didn't bring anything to the table. It was just like a "Hey look it's that AJ Styles guy and he's the champion whooo" type run from fans with some "Eh, they could do better with the belt" mixed in. I mean, his matches wheren't that great(and during his run he had one of the worst matches in PWG history) and he didn't generate that many new fans in my mind.
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Postby onlxn » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:15 pm

SoCalAndy wrote:I'd try to find your comments on it, but I'm tired and can't find your review and don't want to go through random threads and want to watch these It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia episodes I just downloaded.

Fair enough. That show rawks. Fuckin' love the slave episode.

Paraphrasing from the 'Driver... I'm not saying that AJ was the best champion from a work standpoint (I'd probably go with Steen on that front), and certainly not from a booking standpoint, as he may have had the most weakly booked reign of anybody. But I did feel that he gave off the vibe of being a champion in a way that nobody else has. Frankie worked hard and did a good job with it, so did Pearce, and Steen certainly did; Joey's had his moments. But of all of them, AJ was the only one who really made his title matches feel intense and important every time out. He just carries himself like a star, which is why I like him, his bad habits notwithstanding.

I also thought his matches were pretty decent. Okay, the draw with Daniels was pretty brutal, but I'd blame the booking for that as much as anything. Sixty minutes with no falls, with no recent buildup and two guys who aren't known for going long... there was no way that was gonna end well. But I really liked the Gibson defense, and I liked the Frankie defense a lot, too. He wasn't bringing the MOTN every show or anything, but I don't think he did a bad job at all.

I also think you're underestimating his drawing ability a little bit. You could tell, even in his brief reign, that PWG knew AJ could draw decent crowds even without loaded undercards behind him. The AJ-as-champ shows were the first regular (non-Anniversary, non-All-Star) shows to near the 300 mark in attendance, and it happened just as Danielson and Joe stopped appearing for a couple months. Looking at the cards, I think you have to primarily credit AJ and Daniels for that. On the relative scale of PWG crowds (none of which are enormous), AJ seemed like a draw as champion. I think they were right to move it to Steen when they did, but I liked AJ's reign, and I think Steen's reign was more meaningful because of the guy he beat to start it.

I didn't know you weren't a Pearce fan. I enjoyed the guy, but I'd agree with you that he didn't have a great run with the belt... just too much cheating and cuteness for a fed like PWG, and the matches weren't spectacular. But I have to say that I also thought Dragon's championship reign was a bit of a disappointment. Guy's awesome, of course, but it just didn't come off as special as it should've. Part of the problem was the sort of offhand way in which he won the belt from Frankie, in the middle of a show, without any real build. Part of it was that he often defended against non-built up guys like Steen (1-3 and 1-4 in PWG when he got his shots), Generico (1-3) and Jonny Storm (0-2). SD/'Cide was okay, but only okay. Even in SD/Joe II, my favorite PWG match ever, you really don't get the vibe that he's the champ. That was the right story for that match, but in general his reign just felt like a string of SD singles matches, nothing more. I hope he gets a better run with it sometime.
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Postby JustJay » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:18 pm

I'll C and P the discussion onlxn and I had on DVDVR about that very statement, for convenience's sake...

Me:
My only disagreement was your comment that AJ Styles was the only man in PWG who "carried the belt like a champion." Frankie Kazarian in his initial run defeated top-level competition (Styles, Daniels, American Dragon) and helped establish the title's credibility. Adam Pearce, although he only got 1 pinfall during his reign (not even a clean one) and lost every match by DQ until losing to Frankie, made the belt a central part of his gimmick and put over that he'd "sacrifice his principles" for it (this was established by a Vanderpyle promo at Kee_ the _ee). Kevin Steen was involved in a heated feud with Super Dragon during his title reign (though he never actually defended the belt against him) and put on 2 of the best PWG title matches in the company's history against Chris Bosh. He was also one of only 2 people who have pinned Samoa Joe in PWG, which happened during his title run.

In fact, you could make the argument that AJ had the least inspired run as PWG champion out of all the previous titleholders. I mean, here's quick look at his reign.

-defeated Gibson
-draw with Daniels
-defeated Gibson AND Daniels in a match that only got 12 minutes
-went to a double count-out with Frankie Kazarian (which was built as a "mystery opponent match" and even PWG has forgotten about)
-dropped to Steen.

only 4 different challengers, and he lost to one of them. If anything, he was a transitional champion between Super Dragon and Kevin Steen.



onlxn

I don't disagree with any of your points; my comment wasn't aimed at the booking, as indeed several of the other guys were booked more strongly than AJ. But to me, AJ is the only guy who's really actively given off the vibe of a champion. Frankie worked hard and did a good job with it, so did Pearce, and Steen certainly did; Joey's had his moments. But of all of them, AJ was the only one who really made his title matches feel intense and important every time out. He just carries himself like a star, which is why I like him, his bad habits notwithstanding. And you could tell, even in his brief reign, that PWG knew he could draw decent crowds even without loaded undercards behind him. The AJ-as-champ shows were the first regular (non-Anniversary, non-All-Star) shows to hit the 300 mark in attendance; on the relative scale of smark indies, AJ seemed like a bigger deal as champ than others. I think they were right to move it to Steen when they did, but I really liked AJ's reign.

As much as I hate to say it, if I had to pick the weakest PWG championship reign, it might be Super D's. Guy's awesome, of course, but it just didn't come off as special as it should've. Part of the problem was the sort of offhand way in which he won the belt from Frankie in middle of a show, without any real build; part of it was that he often defended against non-built up guys like Steen, Generico and Jonny Storm. Even in SD/Joe II, my favorite PWG match ever, you really don't get the vibe that he's the champ. That was the right story for that match, but in general his reign just felt like a string of SD singles matches, nothing more.
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Postby JustJay » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:19 pm

And just as I do that, there's a direct reply. DAMN YOU PWG BOARD AND YOUR LACK OF EDIT FEATURE! :evil:
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Postby onlxn » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:28 pm

Ha, I luv it. Yeah, good points being made about AJ's reign -- I'm not saying it was a high-water mark for the belt, really. I just thought he carried it better than most.
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Postby SoCalAndy » Sun Jul 09, 2006 2:08 pm

Fair enough. That show rawks. Fuckin' love the slave episode.


The entire slave portion of the show wasn't that great. Danny Devito hiding money in Charlie's bank account and Charlie and Mac taking his money was funny, but the part with Dennis and Dee trying to go on welfare was funnier. The crack portions had me dying. The episode where Dennis tries to fuck Charlie and Mac's mom was better. The ending was brilliant. This season has been funny, but Danny Devito's character hasn't really had any funny stories aside from him moving in with Charlie.

Season 1 was way better. The tranny/cancer episode was one of the funniest shows I've ever seen in my life. The prom episode was also great. Although the abortion stuff tops everything. Charlie finding Dennis' Grandfather's Nazi stuff was amazing too.

But I did feel that he gave off the vibe of being a champion in a way that nobody else has. Frankie worked hard and did a good job with it, so did Pearce, and Steen certainly did; Joey's had his moments. But of all of them, AJ was the only one who really made his title matches feel intense and important every time out. He just carries himself like a star, which is why I like him, his bad habits notwithstanding.


I think everyone carried themselves much better than AJ. AJ just seemed like a "Eh, I'm a champion. Whatever" champion and I thought he didn't seem to take being a champion that importantly. Like when he wore the NWA Title over the PWG title at that one show. Plus his matches didn't bring much to the table. The 60 Minute Draw was horrible, his match with Gibson was his only great defense, and everything else just felt like exhibition matches.

I also think you're underestimating his drawing ability a little bit. You could tell, even in his brief reign, that PWG knew AJ could draw decent crowds even without loaded undercards behind him. The AJ-as-champ shows were the first regular (non-Anniversary, non-All-Star) shows to near the 300 mark in attendance, and it happened just as Danielson and Joe stopped appearing for a couple months. Looking at the cards, I think you have to primarily credit AJ and Daniels for that. On the relative scale of PWG crowds (none of which are enormous), AJ seemed like a draw as champion.


AJ wasn't a big draw. Around the time Dragon started his title run PWG was starting to draw 200-250 people at shows. Crowds were starting to get bigger slowly and AJ just so happend to be champion at the time PWG started to get like 50 more people. And at the time, Kevin Steen and Super Dragon were starting to get the biggest pops at shows.

I didn't know you weren't a Pearce fan.


I just wasn't a fan of his title run.

But I have to say that I also thought Dragon's championship reign was a bit of a disappointment. Guy's awesome, of course, but it just didn't come off as special as it should've. Part of the problem was the sort of offhand way in which he won the belt from Frankie, in the middle of a show, without any real build.


Dragon had a flight to catch(he was wrestling at a CZW show the next day during the afternoon), hence why the match went on before intermission. Plus there was build up. The Ironman match was a number one contender's match and used in a way to help make the match with Joey seem more important. Plus many fans considered this a dream match of sorts(even though they faced eachother before) between two PWG icons. The pop for Dragon's win was really huge too. If anything, AJ's win was a lot more disapointing. It didn't get a good build, and it didn't even get a good reaction as several fans booed pretty loudly.

Part of it was that he often defended against non-built up guys like Steen (1-3 and 1-4 in PWG when he got his shots), Generico (1-3) and Jonny Storm (0-2).


The Jonny Storm match was meant to be a way to play off their match in England and as a way for Dragon to face some international names and help build up the title. The first Steen title match was built up in one night and he went over two of the most over people in the US indy scene and a popular babyface who already defeated him. Plus Tony Stradlin was going to face Dragon, but when he got his WWE contract PWG had to quickly book something else.

Even in SD/Joe II, my favorite PWG match ever, you really don't get the vibe that he's the champ. That was the right story for that match, but in general his reign just felt like a string of SD singles matches, nothing more. I hope he gets a better run with it sometime.


The Joe match had a big fight atmosphere, and the fact that it was for the title added to that. Not only was Dragon fighting for his pride, but he was also fighting for the title he worked so hard to get and did almost anything to try and beat Joe to keep it. And Dragon also was the first person to defend the PWG title in another promotion(SCCW) and outside of the US(Germany). Had Dragon's title run lasted longer, it could of been one of the best title runs in indy wrestling. All the things you said about Dragon's run could be applied to AJ's run, word for word, with more examples thrown in.
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Postby onlxn » Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:22 pm

AJ wasn't a big draw. Around the time Dragon started his title run PWG was starting to draw 200-250 people at shows. Crowds were starting to get bigger slowly and AJ just so happened to be champion at the time PWG started to get like 50 more people. And at the time, Kevin Steen and Super Dragon were starting to get the biggest pops at shows.

Steen was definitely more over, and Dragon may have been too, but I don't think it's at all random that AJ's title run coincided with a rise in attendance. Right after BOLA, during Bosh's chase of Steen, the attendance went back down again... admittedly AJ was involved in one of those matches, but clearly it wasn't Steen that was drawing, as his first regular shows as champ drew poorly. AJ wasn't a huge draw by any means, but as I see it, he's the closest thing to a draw that PWG's ever had. I mean, come on, we all remember those irritating TNA fans that started showing up.

Dragon had a flight to catch(he was wrestling at a CZW show the next day during the afternoon), hence why the match went on before intermission.

I know that; I still think it hurt the moment.

Plus there was build up. The Ironman match was a number one contender's match and used in a way to help make the match with Joey seem more important. Plus many fans considered this a dream match of sorts(even though they faced eachother before) between two PWG icons.

I don't really consider a number one contender's match being much of a build; it's not like there were any promos about either Joey or Dragon wanting the belt. I don't know what fans were really hungering for that match, but I'll take your word for it...

The pop for Dragon's win was really huge too. If anything, AJ's win was a lot more disapointing. It didn't get a good build, and it didn't even get a good reaction as several fans booed pretty loudly.

Dragon beat a heel, AJ beat a face. Of course the reactions were going to be different.

The Jonny Storm match was meant to be a way to play off their match in England and as a way for Dragon to face some international names and help build up the title.

Fine, but bringing in a guy who's never won a PWG match doesn't do much for the title. That was a bad, heatless match -- probably the low point of SD's reign.

The first Steen title match was built up in one night and he went over two of the most over people in the US indy scene and a popular babyface who already defeated him.

Actually, I didn't have that much of a problem with Steen's first challenge; it was him getting another shot on the next show despite losing that got a little silly.

Plus Tony Stradlin was going to face Dragon, but when he got his WWE contract PWG had to quickly book something else.

True -- that was bad luck. (Is he still in Deep South? Seems like he's real stuck in developmental limbo...)

The Joe match had a big fight atmosphere, and the fact that it was for the title added to that. Not only was Dragon fighting for his pride, but he was also fighting for the title he worked so hard to get and did almost anything to try and beat Joe to keep it.

No arguments about the big fight atmosphere, but I saw the backstory a little differently... to me, it seemed like Dragon got the belt just to get Joe's attention again. And really, considering that none of Dragon's other title matches had a real big-match feel (not even the 'Cide one), I'd have to attribute it to Joe's aura as much as anything.

And Dragon also was the first person to defend the PWG title in another promotion(SCCW) and outside of the US(Germany).

That's just trivia; that doesn't have anything to do with how crowds actually react to champions. In general I think the whole "our belt is a world belt because somebody defended it in Luxembourg" craze is pretty silly.

Had Dragon's title run lasted longer, it could of been one of the best title runs in indy wrestling. All the things you said about Dragon's run could be applied to AJ's run, word for word, with more examples thrown in.

Word for word? Even the quality of opponents? AJ defended against big names Christopher Daniels and James Gibson twice and former two-time champ Frankie Kazarian; Dragon defended Homicide and Joe, but also against a winless Jonny Storm and two struggling newcomers. We can disagree about who felt more like a champion, but it's clearly not a "word for word" comparison.
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Postby JustJay » Sun Jul 09, 2006 5:37 pm

True -- that was bad luck. (Is he still in Deep South? Seems like he's real stuck in developmental limbo...)


Yeah, he wrestles there as Tony Santarelli, and has a green mohawk now. He still isn't very good.
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Postby PsychoDriver » Sun Jul 09, 2006 7:08 pm

AJ wasn't a huge draw by any means, but as I see it, he's the closest thing to a draw that PWG's ever had.


While PWG shows did draw 300 people with AJ on the cards around summer of last year, they also featured guys like Sabin, Daniels, Joe, and other bigger names. While AJ was popular, there is more evidence that proves AJ isn't the closests PWG has come to having a draw. A better argument can be made for Super Dragon, as a lot of the main events and bigger matches he's in have drawn some of PWG"s biggest crowds.
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