Hello and welcome to ArnoldFurious.com.
This is the end of RearViewReviews.com as that project had basically not worked out with the massive team of reviewers I was hoping for so here we are with something more…me. I’m Arn. This is my website, although other people write stuff on it. You’ll meet a few of them here. This was originally a project of random match reviews I wanted for RVR, based on the Death Valley Driver Video Reviews from back in the day. It was even jokingly referred to as the RVRVR in the group chat. However, now RVR doesn’t exist, it’s just called Rear View Reviews. A way to remember the past and move on into the future. We’ll be banging these out from time to time. I hope you enjoy. You can request matches be covered for this as long as they’re readily available and there’s no time scale on that. Just fire me a DM (@arnoldfurious on Twitter) and let me know what you want us to write about.
We’ll be kicking off this first installment with some goddamn Grapple MAX.
The Ladykiller vs. Larhvin
(May 11 2019 – Grapple MAX Showcase 9)
Grapple MAX? What the fuck is Grapple MAX I hear you ask? Well, Grapple MAX is a promotion based in Singapore. They don’t have any of that normal wrestling bullshit like a ring or ropes or any of that. Nope, it’s just guys having a grapple on a mat. Similar to Gatoh Move. These guys are raw as hell and wrestle in trainers, shorts and t-shirts but there’s a purity to it that I really dig.
The strikes are decent and the level of athleticism is freakish. Plus the submissions look slick and some of the counters are badass. The best thing about Grapple MAX is it feels like a totally different thing to normal pro wrestling. Unlike every other start-up area that just mimics existing wrestling styles. It feels like a slightly excitable Bloodsport with spears and Rock Bottoms and Slingblades just randomly thrown in there. These guys are green as hell and borderline clumsy but the style of the whole thing is intriguing. Watch this.
Final Rating: ***½
- Arnold Furious (AF)
Michael May vs. Jonathan Gresham
(June 21, 2019 – Fight Factory Pro Wrestling, Episode 9)
Based out of a community centre in Dublin that’s affectionately known as the Big Sean, Fight Factory is one of those promotions that you’d be forgiven for letting slide under the radar. The aesthetic of the venue is unique – with chipboard walls making for a rather odd look on the VOD, but it’s a look that fits in with the “hard work” ethos of the promotion. You see, Fight Factory has a reputation for training some of the best in Ireland…
Which takes us to the main event of this show. Those of us who are Horribly and Massively Online™ may have seen the opening speech from the event that turned an easy tap in of a Pride-themed speech and hoof the ball over the bar… but that’s not what we’re here for. What we are here for is the best technical wrestler in Ireland, against the best in America – and some may argue the world.
This was a match held at an entirely different pace to pretty much everything you’ll see. Starting out slow and deliberate, Gresham’s arm work wasn’t hammy or over-bearing, but it was obvious what was going on as the match progressed. May, while not quite in the same league in terms of exposure, never felt out of his depth, and had the crowd on his side throughout. Seamless flows characterised the contest, with even a flub of referee Niall Fox counting a pin (then waving it off as a 2.9999999 count, despite the camera angle showing it was a three) not dampening things. This wasn’t a “let’s do a sprint of a grapple for the hell of it” kind of match. This was an old-school style wrestling match where everything meant something – and the finish was as exquisite and eminently believable in the context of the match, coming literally out of nowhere.
Final Rating: ****¼
- Ian Hamilton (IH)
Kento Miyahara vs. Yoshitatsu
(June 30 2019 – AJPW Dynamite Series N7)
This is one of those ‘can Kento Miyahara actually perform miracles’ matches. Facing his tag partner here, a man who has proved he doesn’t stink with a series of great tag matches with Kento.
And now Yoshiken explode! The crowd is hot, hot, hot!
Who can blame them with this kind of charisma in the ring. The best part of this match is when Tatsu gets sick of Kento’s posing and bullshit and kicks him square in the face. Tatsu brings everything here and it’s credit to Miyahara that it all looks great. He makes sure it does. They also do a bang up job of selling familiarity based on their tag team antics. They recognize dangers early and that works for me. Kento, as a tag partner and now as an opponent, has turned Tatsu from a joke into a legitimate player. That’s what an ace looks like guys. They go hell for leather down the stretch with incredible near falls before Kento puts Tatsu away with the German suplex. Holy shit this fucking ruled. Easily the best singles match I’ve ever seen Yoshitatsu in. Kento Miyahara is a miracle worker.
Final Rating: ****1/2
WALTER & Shigehiro Irie vs. David Starr & The OJMO
(June 30 2019 – Progress Chapter 90: The Lonesome Death of the One-Man Cabaret Act)
As part of the Natural Progression Series the “rookies” have been getting to tag with the guy who recommended them. Hence OJMO being with Starr. WALTER was supposed to be paired with his rookie, and Ringkampf member, Veit Muller. Only Veit was in a car crash the morning of the show and isn’t here.
OJMO is the savior of BritWres. He’s gotten over everywhere he goes and people love him. WALTER is the ultimate bad guy for he and Starr to battle. The way WALTER discards the Progress strap so he can pose with the NXT UK belt is incredible. OJMO stepping in there and saying he wants WALTER is amazing. I love it. The reactions for OJMO going after WALTER makes me want that as a long term feud. Starr getting him all motivated and fired up is great too. Hopefully they can intertwine OJMO into this feud like Devlin is in their OTT feud. Part of my issue with BritWres over the past year is a lack of attachment to guys, as they’ll almost inevitably leave. I am so invested in all these guys. Somehow Irie ends up being the stand-out performer in the match, blasting through his opponents at 100mph. The lariat trading with Starr is awesome. OJMO holds WALTER back while Starr pins Irie. I really enjoyed this.
Final Rating: ****
Chihiro Hashimoto & Ryo Mizunami vs DASH Chisako & Hiroyo Matsumoto –
(Sendai Girls 6/20/19)
This comes across on paper as an a-typical Joshi tag main event and that is was, by being tremendous. All 4 went for 30 minutes in what felt like 10-15 with Ryo & DASH being the two standouts. Outstanding action start to finish, with perfectly timed comedy in here, it is everything I love about small arena matches in Japan, the crowd is perfect, I could go on forever. The length on paper seems a bit “ehh it is long can I be bothered” but I promise it is worth it ten times over.
Final Rating: **** ½ .
- Alex (AH)
Daniel Makabe vs. Timothy Thatcher
(July 13 2019 – 3-2-1 Battle Wet Hot Seattle Summer)
The first Thatcher match put Makabe on the map two years ago. He had a rematch last year that showed what he’d learned from the first time. Now it’s time for a third rubber match as they are tied at 1-1. Tim is in no mood for back and forth grappling and kicks the piss out of Makabe before grabbing holds and grinding him down. It’s a dominant performance from a big dog who had fun messing around with a smaller dog for a while but now he’s done playing. A lot of Makabe’s matches have been technical exhibitions; this is a massacre.
There’s a nice balance between Makabe getting openings and Tim shutting his offence down. There’s an air of desperation from Makabe when he sees an opening and he rushes into his version of the Cattle Mutilation when Thatcher is too close to the ropes. Meanwhile Tim is comparatively calm, switching from one hold to another when one move doesn’t work. Where Makabe wins is by focusing on the neck and pounding it so he can get Thatcher in position for his Cow Killer and that finishes. The urgency from Makabe combined with the discipline of Thatcher made this a terrific back and forth. I love the symbolism of Makabe offering Thatcher his Ringkampf scarf back, the one Tim gave him after their first match. This was great. I loved it.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Arturo Ruas vs. Anthony Henry
(July 13 2019 – EVOLVE 131)
I do not give one single solitary shit about EVOLVE and don’t care that they’re on the Network now. However this got hyped so I’m watching it.
Ruas is fucking great. He has an MMA approach to wrestling so he’s all wacky strikes and submissions. Henry gets his nose broken inside 30 seconds. Ruas is a WWE guy so you probably won’t see him wrestle unless you’re into NXT deep. I do love his random cartwheels into kicks to the face. What’s he fucking doing? The mad capoeira bastard. Henry drops the ball on a tornado DDT, whiffing on the ropes. The whole match has that slightly sloppy feel to it. Ruas has never worked outside the WWE system and that’s crippled his development. He’s 37 years old and is stuck doing weights in Florida when he should be learning his craft. Ruas kills Henry with a roundhouse kick at the finish to make up for a terrible match. Great finish.
Final Rating: **
Tom Lawlor, Marshall Von Erich, and Ross Von Erich vs. Simon Gotch, Josef Samael, and Jacob Fatu
(Air Date – 22/6/19 – MLW Fusion)
Something about wrestling in 2019 just isn’t hitting me in the same way as it has in previous years. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched my local scene get demolished by the Evil Empire, with little to no resistance from those involved, or if it’s because the entire wrestling world seems to have decided to stagnant and stop until AEW begins in interest. Something just feels off about wrestling right now, and like Nero fiddling while Rome burns I have decided that the only thing left that gives me any pleasure is MLW. The show is not capital G good, but it’s an hour a week of wrestling that makes me think perhaps we aren’t all wasting our time with this dumb hobby.
With all of that pretentious preamble out of the way, let’s talk about the match. CONTRA unit is a group consisting of the former Simon Gotch, Josef Samael FKA The Almighty Sheik of NWA fame, and Jacob Fatu. Gotch is essentially a warm body who was ostensibly pushed as their leader, while the real stars are Samael and Fatu. There are few people in wrestling that seem able to draw real heat from a crowd like Samael, having spent a fair bit of time in Puerto Rico, and Fatu is an absolute can’t miss prospect. Together they bring a real sense of chaos and excitement to a fairly ordered product. Tom Lawlor has been the source of their disdain since debuting, what with being the World Heavyweight Champion and all, and in this match he has sought the help of the debuting Von Erichs, Ross and Marshall. The kids are….fine. They do a few cool dropkicks I guess? Look this match is not at all about the opponents as much as it is about CONTRA bringing violence and chaos, which they do.
I said at the start of this review that 2019 wrestling has lost a spark for me. And I am by no means saying this is a great match, or even a particularly good one if we’re being honest. But what this is is the first time in a while, maybe even this entire year, that I watched a match with excitement instead of slogging through it because I felt I had to. I enjoyed myself more in this short 10 minute “match” than any overly long New Japan main event, hollow BritWres match, or meaningless AEW spotfest. And really, isn’t that what wrestling is about?
Final Rating: Yes I know this was all very pretentious, shut up.
- Aqeel Khalid (AK)
Tetsuya Endo vs Konosuke Takeshita
(July 15th – DDT Wrestle Peter Pan)
DDT’s marquee show saw Endo, who’s had a fantastic KO-D Openweight Title run defend vs former champ Takeshita in the main event. With the ages of both men being, Endo (27) and Takeshita (24) this really was a visual of two insanely in shape and athletic men having a contest, they both looked like they should be in this position. I find sometimes with big DDT shows that the main event can be a bit of a slog and crowd usually pretty dead throughout, but this really wasn’t that, crowd invested and reacted to most spots. One spot in particular really sums up how these fellas went at each other. Takeshita has Endo in what is commonly known as the ‘cheeky nandos’ position and Takeshita decides it isn’t quite enough and just pulls him into a piledriver of sorts whilst Takeshita was in the same position, safe to say there were loads on neck bumps. Pointless getting into strike for strike with this one, but briefly sum it up as saying, this is the DDT match of the year for me and pretty universally everyone else who has seen it and those who might be put off by what I mentioned earlier about the previous themes of marquee DDT show main events, not to worry this is an exception.
Final Rating: **** ¾
The Briscoes vs. Dinastia Munoz (RUSH & Dragon Lee)
(June 29, 2019 – ROH Best in the World)
This whole match is both an advert for tag team wrestling and the 15-minute sprint. There’s no dead time here. RUSH turns Dragon Lee into a real son of a bitch in this match. His plucky hard-hitting babyface act from Japan isn’t anywhere to be seen. The only thing I really dislike is RUSH pulling a load of weird stalling to absorb the crowd reactions but he also knows when to change gears. The bit where he covers himself in Mark Briscoe’s blood is absolutely perfect. That’s where his Primadonna attitude is of benefit to the match. Anyone who’s into the ‘legal tag’ aspect of tag teaming, you may want to just accept it’s not happening in this one.
Dragon Lee saves all his ridiculous shit for the finish and RUSH dropkicks Jay’s face off to get the pin. This was frantic. Electric atmosphere too!
Final Rating: ****1/4
Ilja Dragunov vs. Jordan Devlin
(July 6, 2019 – Progress Prog on the Tyne)
I may not watch Progress obsessively these days but they still throw out some pretty big matches. This weekend felt a bit unplanned but I dig the mini-story of top contenders match followed by the title shot the next night. They start a little slow and let the crowd atmosphere drive the match. Then, when the crowd settle, they beat the shit out of each other. Some of their spots take some stuff I hate and turn it into coolness. Like the rebound lariat being countered into a Spanish Fly. Two spots I hate but it looks awesome! It’s still a little goofy in places, which prevents it from being truly great (a fault of many Dragunov matches). The crowd bite on all the near falls though and the mannerisms are tremendously well done. Ilja’s selling after the headbutt is weird but I dig it. They do some killer stuff on the big near falls, without dipping into finisher/kick-outs. They have spots that look worthy of being a finish without actually being their finishers. It’s excellent work. The Torpedo Moscow, when it arrives, comes out of nowhere and the crowd reaction is immense. Lovely stuff. Excellent work from both guys and the match escalated and finished at the right time.
Final Rating: ****1/2
WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov
(July 7, 2019 – Progress Entertaining Friends)
After Ilja got his big win over Devlin he got to challenge his old wXw rival WALTER for the belt in Manchester. I had a theory that Ilja won here so Starr could win the title in September without beating WALTER to do so. wXw has done most of the legwork for Progress here; giving these two a lengthy singles feud where Ilja won repeatedly. WALTER is aware of the ‘threat’ of Ilja though and ruins him on the floor. Dragunov has a penchant for taking abuse and that’s the focal point of the match. Ilja getting the holy hell beaten out of him. The reaction for every Ilja comeback is electric. My favourite bit is him coming off the top rope and WALTER just smashing him with a lariat. That’s peak WALTER. Cutting off those comebacks like a boss. WALTER even grabs Ilja in mid Torpedo Moscow and shuts him down again. The crowd help a lot here as they’re very into the concept. As with the night before in Newcastle. The near falls get massive reactions but instead of both guys getting love it’s all on Ilja and his big moments. Ilja kicks out at one from a massive lariat but WALTER smashes him back down and it’s over. This was a brutal match, underlined by a cunning strategy from WALTER to work the neck, which paid off on the Torpedo Moscow being rendered ineffectual. Another in a string of fucking great Ilja/WALTER matches.
Final Rating: ****1/4
PAC vs Cara Noir
(July 5, 2019 – Riptide Point Break)
I was lucky I enough to be in the crowd for this one, my first time at a Riptide show, and I highly recommend the promotion. PAC was a surprise opponent for the extremely popular Cara Noir and the venue lost its collective mind when he arrived. It was the first time I’d seen Noir live for a while and the character has become very refined in that time.
Sadly, the knowledge there was no way PAC was taking any kind of loss in this match took a little of the hype away. There’s a big difference between, there’s practically no chance one guy will win and there’s definitely no chance. Still, it was a fun watch.
Cara Noir offered a handshake, which was refused, and that became his focal point. PAC swore at him, spat at him, and levelled him a few times, but Cara Noir kept going back for the handshake, always offered with a smile.
PAC is extremely entertaining, I’d never seen him live before and I appreciated the little touches, like mimicking the crowd’s Cara Noir chants while he had Noir in a headlock. There were a lot of little comedy moments sprinkled through the match, and a significant number of them came from PAC.
When they got right into it, it was an excellent wrestling match. Cara Noir is an underrated talent and was a great choice to showcase PAC. While his main job was to take a beating and get back up smiling and offering his hand, he had enough chances that you could have believed he just might pull off the win… if that had ever been a possibility.
Inevitably, after pouring everything they had into it in approximately 300-degree heat, PAC’s Black Arrow finished the match. The Bastard still looked like a beast, but Cara Noir came out with his stock raised not lowered by the loss.
- Amanda Why (AW)
Dragon Bane vs Arez vs Latigo
(July 21, 2019 – PWM Mexico)
Lucha style can be so progressive in terms of move set, innovation and crazy spots. This match was recommended by Kassius Ohno, who admittedly watches loads of wrestling as well as being a damn fine wrestler in his own right. The promotion is Pro Wrestling Mexico, it’s in a nice arena which unfortunately shows up the empty seats. There’s only one camera so it’s not as dynamic looking as other Lucha promotions.
The match itself has tons of talking points. The three way chain wrestling to kick off was great, each wrestler had a clever counter and potential submission in place. A few minutes in it gets really crazy with some high flying and leaping into the seated crowd of spectators. Even the ref wants a piece of the action with a diving start to the pinfall! Everyone has a good bit of offence, one or two neat set pieces. It doesn’t all come off, the GTS doesn’t look good (does anyone’s at the moment?) and the pace stutters a bit, but as a showcase of three relatively unknown guys; it’s great. All in all its a fun, short, dynamic Lucha match.
- Mark Ashford (MA)
Allysin Kay vs. Nicole Savoy
(September 14, 2019 – GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport II)
I was intrigued to see how they managed to present a women’s shoot-style match as it’s clearly something they steered clear of before at the Mania weekend shows. Savoy has the shoot background but Kay is heavier and taller. Savoy looks far more accomplished at the style, to the point where I start wondering why she doesn’t do it more. When they throw short strikes in this it’s very tight.
They do some good counters and work hard. The way they spill out of the ring feels organic too. Savoy looks to have worn Kay out and Allysin is looking very tired going into the finish where she forces a referee stoppage with elbows. I really enjoyed this but felt that Kay was gassed and Savoy should probably have won.
Final Rating: ***¾
Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. Tom Lawlor
(September 14, 2019 – GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport II)
Filthy Tom has an obvious shoot background. DBS Jr was a revelation at Bloodsport Mania weekend and has a clear size advantage. This feels very much like a shoot, which is awesome.
Lawlor clearly feels if he’s put in something and it looks loose he’s just slipping right out of it. Davey quickly learns that. I love that they work in Davey’s powerslam but it feels logical as it comes out of a submission hold being countered. Davey almost gets a shoot Sharpshooter too but this pisses Tom off and they start teeing off on each other. I’m not convinced the sitout powerbomb finish is cool or not but it’ll do.
Final Rating: ***½
That’s it for Rear View Reviews, both the site and issue one of the new thing. Again you can DM me for match requests and we’ll be back with issue #2 around the end of October. Until then, much love. – AF