Derrick King, Frankie Tucker & Jerry Lawler vs Pokerface & LA Hustlers, MCW (3/2/12)
Incredibly fun match recommended to anyone who's a fan of Memphis style wrestling or just light hearted wrestling in general. The heels weren't overly impressive in terms of presentation and threat but in a way I thought that added a bit to the match as they came off as incredibly egotistical and thinking they were far better than they were, and it made all their bumping and comedy spots at their expense all the more funnier. Lawler was really great and its nice to know he still looked good prior to the heart attack. He's got his trademark punches down to a tee and is also really good at working the crowd in the beginning when the heels offer their hands out of respect and he anticipates a sneak attack. LOVED how he shook the hand respectfully of one of the Hustlers before slapping him when the Hustler backed him into a corner and having slapped Derrick King twice when having him in the same position earlier. There was also this amazing moment where Lawler does some looney tunes esque spot where he goes after Pokerface, taps him on the back before levelling him with punches, felt like something you'd see out of Daffy Duck and I mean that as a compliment.
Derrick King's FIP segment was pretty good as well, a few nice bumps and classic STF traits such as him making a hot tag but the ref not seeing it as well as the heels taking cheap shots on the outside. Worth watching for the post match as well, as it develops from the finish and the pre-match stipulation and is a nicely done culmination of the match.
Finlay vs Mal Sanders, LDN (2/23/12)
Another really unique and interesting Finlay match from the indy tour, this time contested under traditional WOS rules. Loved how Sanders was portrayed throughout as a vicious, cunning and ruthless heel who exploited every trick he could to contain Finlay and retain his advantage. The working over the hand was really vicious and looked great and was perfectly complimented by Finlay's sublime selling. Also loved how Finlay would constantly create small openings for himself to regain control only for Sanders to outsmart him and keep control. First fall finish could bother some after such a prolonged spell of Finlay's hand being worked over but I quite admired the creativity and subtle message behind the fall, namely that the minute Sanders gave Finlay enough distance he was able to use his experience to nab the first fall from a losing predicament. Loved how Finlay suckered Sanders into a handshake at the start of the next round and used it as an opportunity to dish out his own punishment of the hand. Sanders winning the second fall via submission by instantly countering and locking on a submission targeting the arm was a nice way to reinforce the effect his earlier workover had in weakening the hand and creating an opening he could exploit at any given opportunity.
Final fall is where things break down as Finlay grows slowly frustrated by Sanders' antics and strikes and works to sucker him into the outside where Finlay can make it more of a brawl and stop the momentum. Sanders also attacking Finlay in between the end of rounds as well as sneakily low-blowing him at random opportunities to nullify his threat was a great sneaky heel tactic to rile up the crowd and I loved the comical finish with Finlay reclaiming the shillelagh from Sanders before tossing it to him and using the small opening to score a flash pin, felt very Eddie Guerrero esque from the Lie, Cheat & Steal phase of his career. Well worth a watch.
Kana vs Syuri, SMASH (2/19/12)
Really smart structured match which really deserves a lot of credit. It breaks down into Syuri as the striker vs the submission expert in Kana and I loved how both women tried to match the other in the other's superior area, only to keep going back to their own speciality when things began to get away from them. Opening is tremendous with Kana trying to exchange kicks to feel out Syuri but ends up getting mangled repeatedly and drops to her knees where she's then the subject of a few disgustingly stiff kicks right to the face. Loved how that sequence immediately highlighted the dominance of Syuri and then led to Kana (who still sold the effects of the prior kicks remarkably well prior to the next lockup) immediately focusing on her technical game and looking to force numerous takedowns and submission attempts to contain Syrui as well as targeting her legs to lessen their impact.
I would have liked Syuri to sell the effects of some of the leg submissions after she broke out of them as well as she sold the struggle in escaping the holds, but that's a small quibble as there is a great moment of eventual selling from her where she hits a running knee before grasping the leg immediately upon connection. As the match developed I especially loved Kana getting more confident and returning to strikes after feeling like she had neutralized and weakened Syuri, only to continue to come up short in every exchange and then frantically reaching for any submission she could execute. Personally whilst others might see her arm submissions as deviating from the leg strategy she employed before I thought it was a nice way of her acknowlodging Syuri as a continued threat and just searching for any submission that could win her the match. Both women sold the final exchange really well with both struggling to their feet after the dual strikes, and they spaced them out well to the point where they felt short and impactful instead of dull and dragging. Kana's resiliency right to the very end in kicking out of a couple of high impact kicks before succumbing to the final blow was a nice way to put her over in defeat in what would be SMASH's final show, as well as being a nice payoff to the story of Syuri's strikes being too much.