The next steps on our travels through the year of 2006 take us all over the place: to Japan, to TNA, and to WWE where we have a Smackdown PPV and the nascent beginnings of my kind of Smackdown TV.
Once again we need to visit TNA PPV for the X Division and its The Rematch: AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Chris Daniels. In all honesty I think this match is easily just as good as the original, and I might almost prefer it as a stand alone match, even though the first has more significance. It was of course a balls-out, crazy-ass-fest with three-way spots galore. There’s a lot of great stuff built around teasing and then delivering on dives – Joe cutting Daniels off with a SLAP, AJ SOMERSAULTING OVER JOE onto Daniels, Joe’s phat ass tope. There’s a point halfway through where Chris Daniels LITERALLY DIES FROM A HEAD DROP after a combination Lariat-Backdrop Drivahhh. Just DIED. These guys keep up such an incredible pace of moves and three-way spots and counters, its unreal. If you like the original then I implore you to watch this one as well, it rocks.
Now we are crossing seas previously unchartered on these pages as we head to Japan and NOAH on 11/2: Kobashi & Sasaki vs Tenryu & Nakajima. I already loved this match on paper, for the prospect of Kobashi and Sasaki teaming up after their ’05 feud, as well as GENICHIRO TENRYU. Even with my limited Puro viewing, Grumpy Old Man Tenryu beating the piss out of people and not giving a single f*ck is one of my favourite things in wrestling. And he doesnt disappoint here. I went insane for this match immediately when the bell rang and all of a sudden, KOBASHI AND SASAKI ARE IN A CHOP BATTLE! They didnt forget which team they were on, they just figured that would be the manliest way to decide who gets to start the match. I DIED. And so ensues a great NOAH tag team match (including an 157 year old TOPE FROM TENRYU) and ending in the MOTHER OF ALL LARIAT-OHHHHHHHHHS on poor Naka, our sacrificial Junior for the evening. A fun match that should definitely be seen.
As promised, I really did love a Kurt Angle Match. And by Kurt Angle Match, I do mean a match belonging to Kurt Angle. Its Vintage Kurt, but man, in this case its completely appropriate and completely awesome. I was blown away the first time I saw Angle vs Undertaker, and unlike a lot of Angle work it survives the rewatch as well. Just an amazing, incredible war between two lions. These guys threw every single thing at each other. There’s a great CRASH halfway through when there’s an ANGLE SLAM THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE. That spot and the ensuing countout tease (where Angle DEMANDS to “Beat this motherf*cker in the ring!”) were awesome. All manner of bombs are thrown. There’s also a great little story running though the match as Angle appears to have done his homework regarding Taker’s big weapons – the Chokeslam, he rolls out of it. The Last Ride, he rolls out of it. The Tombstone, he rolls out of it. Angle uses his wrestling skill to avoid a lot of Taker’s attempted finishers and also to transition fluidly into the Ankle Lock as well. Just like their previous match there’s a weird finish, but whatever because these guys totally brought it. THIS is where bombs work perfectly.
We continue the SD trend of a cool ass tag division with the Mexicools challenging MNM on Smackdown. This was about as awesome an 8 or so minute tag team sprint is going to be. A tonne of fun – the Mexicools bring the cool ass flips, MNM brings the heel bumping. Early on Super Crazy busts out the always fun ‘Ref tells me not to dive, so he turns his back and I dive over him’ spot, and later on does this cool as f*ck move where he catches Nitro’s foot and flips him backwards so he inadvertantly moonsaults a prone Mercury, then follows up with his own standing moonsault. A great tag team sprint, and a fun way to spend less than ten minutes.
Its all about Smackdown this month. They end on a good note with a great 6-man tag, Rey & Benoit & Lashley vs Orton & JBL & Finlay. All three pairs do a great job of building upon their existing feuds – Orton runs from Rey early and then tags in when he’s down, Lashley and Finlay get it on, and later on Benoit tries to break JBL’s hand in the stairs. Lashley always worked best in a setting where he could look impressive in short bursts, and he certainly looks good here SPEARING THE JESUS out of everyone in sight. The heel team is great as well, especially during the period where they BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF REY. He seriously gets pulverised. Great finishing stretch too, including the Clothesline From Hell right into the Crossface, chaos, the aforementioned hand-breaking, and a sweet 619 set up. Totally fun times, and every time I see a 6-man tag I wonder why there arent more 6-man tags. WWE always does them so well. Smackdown generally had such a great month, and a great start to the year. I think 2006 is really the year where the workrate balance of power shifts significantly and permanently towards the blue brand.
February Top Five:
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Chris Daniels, TNA Against All Odds
Kurt Angle vs Undertaker, WWE No Way Out
Kenta Kobashi & Kensuke Sasaki vs Genichiro Tenryu & Katsuhiko Nakajima, NOAH 11/2
Chris Benoit & Rey Mysterio & Bobby Lashley vs JBL & Finlay & Randy Orton, WWE Smackdown 24/2
MNM vs Mexicools, WWE Smackdown 3/2
March promises much more NOAH, more Finlay wrestling on TV, and the spottiest match in the history of the universe.