Sunday, 20 January 2013

PWG Mystery Vortex DVD Review By Barry Murphy

Excalibur and the usual cast of characters present another exciting night of pro wrestling action from Reseda, CA as PWG closes out 2012 with a bang.

Eddie Edwards & Roderick Strong vs. The Young Bucks

This was about as strong an opener as you could hope for, as all four men worked at a super-fast pace and did an excellent job heating up the crowd. I haven’t seen “The Dojo Bros” as a team prior to this, but Strong and Edwards worked very well in the role of hard-hitting, no-nonsense babyfaces, with stiff strikes and awesome flurries of tag team offense. It almost goes without saying at this stage, but The Young Bucks are one of the finest teams in all of wrestling and they were on form here, selling everything Strong and Edwards expertly. While still being competitive, the goal was clearly to showcase Edwards and Strong who had tonnes of great counters for all of the Bucks’ key spots. There wasn’t much of an actual heat period on either of the faces, and as is often the case in PWG, the match broke down towards the end with a big stretch of four-man highspots including Nick Jackson, with very little momentum, still clearing the top rope with a dive, followed immediately by Matt hitting a springboard DDT on the apron. On commentary, Steen was beside himself at how good this match was and how he had to follow it later. The finish saw Strong get one of the Bucks up in Canadian backbreaker position, Edwards leaping from the top rope and hitting him with a double stomp (while still on Strong’s shoulders) and Strong hitting a dominator in one smooth motion. A fabulous conclusion to a super opener. ****

Drake Younger vs. Sami Callihan

This was another match that would not have been out of place as a semi-main event on this, or most independent shows. They went all out and had an extremely intense, back-and-forth brawl. There were some aspects of this one that I know for a fact would mean this bout wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If a guy kicking out of brutal spots like piledrivers on the apron or a Gringo Killer in the second match of the show is too much for you, you might not be a fan of this. Not that the match was all spots and no story, far from it, but it was definitely a lot of very scary moves resulting in simple two counts. Similarly, and this one was slightly bothersome to me, if you’re irked by matches where guys take insane risks and, depending on who you ask, excessive punishment – you might take issue with this. I’m really not a fan of guys shoot headbutting each other until they bleed; call me old fashioned. It bothered me slightly in Drake’s debut match with PWG last July, but the idea of this being a regular spot in his matches doesn’t sit well with me. That aside, these two tore the house down, and I can’t fault the actual match they put on. Both have an incredible aura and bring an invaluable presence to any promotion smart enough to book them. Drake, to paraphrase Steen, did not lose an ounce of insanity when he got himself in shape and he brings a wild sense of unpredictability to every match. Similarly, Sami presents himself as a lowdown, dirty, ugly brawler and when he is on form, he’s impossible to draw your eyes away from. After exchanging a number of awesome nearfalls, Sami tapped Younger with the Stretch Muffler. ***1/2

Super Smash Bros © vs. RockNES Monsters – PWG World Tag Team Championship Match

RockNES is a team that never really clicked with me, but I feel like their new heel role was a great move. That said, as with the last several RockNES matches, there wasn’t much heat for this one despite a raucous crowd for the first two matches. After some comedy early that fell flat, Yuma and Goodtime worked over Player Uno, who made a brief comeback before tagging Dos who was also quickly cut off and worked over. There were some fun moments here and there, but I always feel like Goodtime and Yuma’s matches involve tenuous and clunky set-up and execution of these multi-man moves and it just doesn’t feel very fluid. Contrasting that with the likes of SSB and the Young Bucks; their matches always seem to fall slightly short of the PWG standard, in my opinion. To be fair, it’s a high standard, and the match certainly wasn’t bad. Things picked up once the Smash Bros made their second real comeback and the action broke down. There was a hilarious spot near the finish where Johnny Goodtime cut off a large section of his bizarre, multi-coloured beard and blew it into the eyes of Player Dos leading to a roll up and a near fall. SSB retained in what was, all in all, a solid undercard bout. **1/2

Joey Ryan vs. Scorpio Sky

Somewhat fittingly for Ryan’s last match with PWG, this was good but nothing beyond that, even with all the fun call backs. Having already wrestled former stable-mates Scott Lost and Chris Bosh in their respective retirement matches, Scorpio Sky made it a full house here by defeating Ryan and becoming the last surviving member of ‘The Dynasty.’ Things got off to a shaky start as Ryan awkwardly imitated Lost’s double stomp out of the corner, and was immediately heckled for his dodgy execution of the spot. Other Dynasty shout-outs included a ‘Big Fat Kill’ spinning kick, and a ‘Lioncock’ low blow from Sky. Sky was also getting heckled for his appearance as Harold in a WWE skit with Daniel Bryan. Ryan worked hard and despite initial jitters, the match was solid with good pacing. Given their position on the card, and both guys’ style – they didn’t try and steal the show. They did, however, give every other insane spot on this show a run for its money when Ryan hit a nasty looking spinning neckbreaker off the apron onto a row of chairs, in a moment that seemingly left Excalibur legitimately lost for words. They didn’t try to play this up as a CM Punk level exit from the indies, with jokes all night on commentary and Ryan himself alluding to the fact he could easily be back in the near future depending on how his TNA career goes, but it was still a very nice send off. Despite typically annoying rowdiness from the Reseda crowd, Ryan’s post match speech was very humble and he spoke candidly about just wanting to be whatever PWG needed him to be, whether it was world champion or an opening match guy. ***

Brian Cage vs. TJ Perkins vs. B-Boy vs. Willie Mack

You know you have a good show when this is a filler match for the midcard guys. They had a tonne of innovative four way spots, and everyone got to shine. Most notable was Brian Cage, who once again put on a very entertaining show with lots of big moves and impressive feats of strength. Most notable was TJ diving into the ring from the top rope, only to be caught in vertical suplex position by Cage. When B-Boy interfered and tried to briefly team with Perkins to hit a tag team suplex on Cage, Cage turned the tables and suplexed both men simultaneously in an unbelievable feat of strength. This wasn’t the typical snap suplex you see when people usually do this spot. Cage deadlifted these guys in a way you’d need to see to believe. Perkins also had a great showing, with highlights such as having Mack in a leg lock and B-Boy in an abdominal stretch at the same time. Later, with Cage in a figure four leg lock, Perkins was able to roll up B-Boy in a small package. They kept up the idea of Mack and Cage feuding, so I’d imagine that’s a feud to keep an eye out for in 2013, depending on Cage’s future prospects with TNA. The finish saw Mack pin B-Boy while TJ was distracted trying to submit Cage. ***1/2

El Generico vs. Rich Swann

It’s at this point in a PWG review that we begin struggling to find more positive adjectives to describe the action. Another stellar, fast paced contest. What really made this interesting was Generico played something of a heel role, allowing Swann to present himself as the younger, quicker, more explosive babyface for the crowd to get behind. And it worked. Both guys had answers for their opponent’s signature spots, so when Swann tried a handspring back elbow, Generico was able to counter into a blue-thunder bomb. When Generico tried to hit a Yakuza kick in the corner, Swann came prepared and caught him with a spin kick that cut off his momentum. Swann’s selling was really good in this match, and he worked well as the smaller rookie trying to hang with the experienced vet. The people are probably never going to boo Generico, but he did a good job in his role. All of Swann’s high flying was greatly received by the live crowd, and he really is a joy to watch – incredibly crisp in everything he does. After a thrilling back and forth sequence, Generico gets the win with a suplex-into-a-powerbomb that hasn’t been a regular part of his repertoire for quite some time. ***3/4

Super Smash Bros vs. Roderick Strong & Eddie Edwards

They did an angle at the show with Excalibur telling the tag champs they had to wrestle twice to night, to compensate not being in PWG since July, but that didn’t make DVD. Edwards and Strong gave another very good performance, and they really did about as good a job as possible getting over as a main event tag team in one show as you could imagine. They worked the heel role in this match, jumping the champs at the bell. Uno was targeted for a brief heat period by the heels. Player Dos finally tagged in and made one of the best hot tags I’ve seen in some time. A non-stop flurry of offence from Dos had the crowd going ballistic by the time he was done. First, a suicide dive over the bottom rope on Edwards, followed by a swinging DDT on Strong, ANOTHER dive on Edwards this time over the middle rope, a lionsault into a DDT again on Strong, and finally a dive over the top rope onto Edwards. That was a hell of a sequence. They gave Edwards and Strong a non-title win here, and really did a good job of making them look like potential champions, while still keeping SSB strong. Edwards hit double stomps on both champions on the apron, followed by Strong hitting his suplex into a backbreaker on Dos, and another stomp from Edwards to get the win. Very good match, but not quite at the level of the opener. ***1/2

PWG World Championship Guerrilla Warfare Match: Kevin Steen © vs. Adam Cole

An insane match to cap off the show. Steen rammed Cole crotch first into each of the posts, and then powerbombed him onto each side of the ring from the floor. So before weapons were even introduced, Cole had taken some insane punishment – those apron powerbombs don’t look like much fun at all. It wasn’t long before plunder came into play and a lot of it at that. Steen brought in half a dozen chairs, a ladder, a trash can and a lid. Cole eventually brought in another ladder. They did lots of huge moves like F5s onto ladders and more. This was a very enjoyable match, but to me it did just feel like a collection of spots. What really made the match was the insanity of some of those spots, although ironically that was also what took it down a notch or two in my eyes. Like the Callihan vs. Younger bout, there was some stuff in here that it felt silly to kick out of, even If it is the main event world title match. The big spot which the match pretty much built to from the beginning was Steen suplexing Cole onto a pyramid of steel and plastic chairs. This was a brutal train wreck spot, and Cole was actually bleeding from the back after taking it. There were broken chair parts, and dented steel chairs all over the ring for the remaining few minutes. This was only a two count. To me that’s just excessive. If a car crash like that isn’t a conclusion to a match, I don’t know what is. Steen, frustrated at being unable to put Cole away, brought thumb tacks into the equation. In a great spot, he poured most onto the canvas, but actually put several into his mouth before spitting them at Adam Cole. The crowd were reacting huge to every tease of someone going into the thumbtacks, and they exploded when Steen landed face first into them, as Cole hit him with a big German suplex. Cole then hit his finisher, a strait jacket German suplex, to get the win. As I said, fun but a little too much like a collection of spots with nothing holding it together, in my opinion. ***1/4

This was one of PWG’s best shows of 2013, and that covers a lot of ground. It’s an essential purchase for any fans of indie wrestling and it also wouldn’t be a bad place to start if you’re new to the genre. The variety of talent and different styles of match made this an exciting watch, and the two and a half hour run time just flies by. If you’re a fan of wrestling and you’re not following PWG, you’re making a huge mistake. Remedy that right now by going to and picking this DVD up.

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