Mark Hitchcock Memorial Super Show
March 31, 2022
We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Fairmont Hotel. This ran against the Collective show “Joey Janela’s Spring Break Part 1”. We’re STILL in Thursday. This is the second Wrestlecon show after the AAA boys kicked us off earlier today. Hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Veda Scott. Based on the card alone this is one of the shows I was most excited about. They’re doing a re-hash of Bandido vs. Speedball, which I saw in wXw live and was amazing. We’ve also got Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tim Thatcher (an audition for New Japan for Tim?), OJMO in a six-man tag, Minoru Suzuki vs. BIFF, and some other antics.
This has the longest run time yet at 3h 12m. It’s longer than the Janela show. That’s how you know your show is long. There’s an issue with set dressing here in that every show in this venue is going to look exactly the same and is going to have to differentiate itself with the in-ring. We’re going old school Erik Watts; the winner of a fan poll for best match gets an extra $5,000 on their pay.
Mike Bailey vs. Bandido
The wXw match these two had absolutely tore the house down. Meltzer went ****½. I went full boat. Five stars. The last time I truly loved a wrestling match. No wait, Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Bellair. The second to last time I truly loved a wrestling match.
Everything they do here is so smooth but it’s also fun. Bailey hits an unreal counter, dodging a block off the ropes with a springboard moonsault to the floor. The level they’re operating at is sublime. It’s not all fluff either as they tee off on the chops. It just ticks all the boxes. Bandido doing the stalling suplex for a full 60 count gets a standing ovation. It’s been so long since I saw the wXw match that I can’t remember if any of this is cribbed from it so I’m just wowed all over again. It’s elite level spot work. Especially the dives where they do them so quickly and the timing is so perfect that they never seem dumb. The wrestler taking the dive is always turning right into it.
Due to time constraints here, and it being Mania weekend so they’re going to wrestle a lot, the match doesn’t have everything that you’d want from a MOTYC but it fucking rules. Basically everyone in the back is kissing five grand goodbye because this has it sewn up.
I expect Bailey to win. Then there’s a narrative that Bandido can’t beat him. Instead Bandido unleashes a barrage of high spots including the 21 Suplex and finishes with the moonsault slam. This was great. It didn’t have the same stretch and the near fall energy of the wXw match (from what I remember) but they built nicely and smashed it. ****¼
Sidenote: I loved Biff vs. Mox at Bloodsport but I thought that was better. The technique and difficulty of what they do is worth the price of a show ticket alone. It’s art. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this match live and it’s an experience.
Promo Time: Bret Hart comes out here just to say hey, thanks for having me here. Having a lovely time. See you at the merch table. They don’t bother to turn his microphone on sadly.
Mia Yim vs. Athena
To show how out of touch with wrestling I am, I didn’t know Mia Yim or Ember Moon had been released from WWE.
The women’s Indie scene has been a disaster with WWE just grabbing everyone they could for years. Athena is in good shape and has excellent mobility. She’s not lost any of the pizzazz that made her a star in NXT.
She seems freed by abandoning her WWE character though and just being herself. Does it make her a little less special or better because she’s more real? I feel like I know more about her character from this match than her entire run in Stamford. It’s a tidy match but I’m not convinced by the selling. Athena struggling to escape a Boston crab and then immediately nipping up is a bit strange. The match is made better when I’m reminded this is Mia Yim’s first match since her WWE release and therefore her first match since 2020. Considering how long that’s been her timing is great. Athena tries to turn to the dark side with a chair but the ref stops it and Mia wins with a Package Piledriver. I liked this but I could have done without the strange Athena heel business in her home town to get the fans to cheer Mia’s win. Mia looks genuinely emotional with being back and I think the crowd would have cheered her taking it clean. ***
Timothy Thatcher vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Tim is smiling again. He’s just happy to be back doing his thing. Ishii is now 46 years old and is wrestling three times this weekend. Let’s just say he doesn’t approach this like a New Japan main event.
Thatcher takes Ishii’s lack of enthusiasm and turns it into a methodical dissection of his opponent. Specifically trying to take out Ishii’s stronger right arm. It’s a shame they don’t find a higher gear as Thatcher and Ishii are both great at telling a story with their reactions and facial expressions. Thatcher is keen to tell a story where he’s outmatched on strikes but can take it to the mat if he needs to. I am drawn into the story. It’s the style of match that works but there’s always a nagging feeling that Ishii has multiple gears left to go through. Ishii doesn’t have a tactic to counter what Thatcher is doing. He just bides his time and then hits him with his spots. His approach to wrestling guys who don’t work for NJPW is very different to his approach to guys who do. Here he gets out of yet another armbar, hits a lariat with his bad arm and finishes with the brainbuster. Thatcher, go to New Japan for revenge! ***½
Dirty Dishes Match
Johnny Wrestlecon vs. Taya Valkyrie
This is a husband and wife fight. The loser has to do the dishes “forever”.
Taya comes out with this attire as the crowd chant “Johnny Dishes”. Hennigan’s pre-match promo reminds me why he’s never spoken during his entire career. The set up reminds me of the Good Housekeeping Match between Jeff Jarrett and Chyna only narrower. I’d definitely prefer if the match wasn’t a metaphor for spousal abuse. Only in wrestling could a fun match between a couple immediately degenerate into the man breaking plates over his wife’s head. The crowd are into it, which probably says more about them than anything else. They do try and keep it as broad comedy with Johnny taking a Canadian Destroyer with a bucket on his head. In a way the cartoon violence makes this feel like something WWE would do only there’s no way they’d break plates over people’s heads. Johnny asks for Parrow to bring out the kitchen sink. “Bros before hoes”. He actually said that.
Taya chokes him out with the sink’s hose though. Ha, hose before bros! Curb stomp on the sink finishes and Johnny Dishes is stuck doing the dishes. Just buy a dishwasher dude. This was fun and uncomfortable in equal measure. Remarkable work. I appreciate that they kiss and make up afterwards. **½
Sidenote: I think it’s pretty tone deaf of a wrestling promotion to run an intergender match based on real life where it’s a real couple settling their issues through violence. Especially as Kimber Lee became the latest high profile female wrestler to accuse a male wrestler of wrongdoings outside the ring. Blurring the lines like this isn’t fun for anyone who’s been through abuse in a relationship. They tried hard to keep it light but even so I feel the match existing in the form it does could be triggering to anyone facing domestic abuse issues and it shouldn’t have happened.
Promo Time: another star from the past surprises us as Jushin Liger is here in full gear! He only just retired*.
*That was January 2020. It feels like ‘just’ to me because I stopped watching around March 2020.
Michael Oku, Laredo Kid & Rey Horus vs. Josh Alexander, Black Taurus & Ace Austin
Great to see Oku on Mania weekend. He’s coming off a huge match with Will Ospreay in Rev Pro (I’ve not seen it but even I heard about it) that got him noticed internationally. This is your big spotfest match. I have no problem with spotfests as long as everything lands and they don’t do anything stupid. A major highlight is Oku vs. Alexander with Oku’s selling and attempts to avoid power moves being extremely well done.
My only real complaint is that the teams are unbalanced, and I want a power guy on Team Oku. It does set up a dynamic though with Team Oku having to hit crazy dives to get ahead of the more powerful guys. Especially with Alexander who dominates all three opponents during one spell. Black Taurus is arguably the stand out here as I find myself giggling and popping his spots.
Bizarrely enough, as I’m watching, this is the match that could get me back into wrestling. It’s partially because it’s really fun and partially because it’s great to see Oku out there, having followed his career from the start. I’ve had my ticket checked on the door by Oku multiple times. I’ve bought him a drink. Somewhere there’s a photo of me, him and STRIGGA at like 3am and we’re all smashed. To see him tearing it up at Mania weekend is a joy, honestly. Oku even gets the pin here with a frogsplash on Taurus. This was a fantastically slick spotfest with everyone getting the chance to shine. Just a lovely time at the wrestling. ****
Minoru Suzuki vs. Biff Busick
Personally, I’d have done Biff vs. Ishii and Suzuki vs. Thatcher. Suzuki fucks up early on, accidentally falling over Biff’s leg and he grabs an ankle hold while smiling. Ah, it’s fine lads. No one saw.
There’s a lot of this ^ until Biff opens up that cut from the Moxley match, which Suzuki laughs at. He also finds it funny that he ends up with blood all over his knuckles for punching Biff in the head.
If you told me they called this in the ring, I would completely believe you. It has an organic, natural feel. Biff gets a comeback, but Suzuki heavily disrespects it by turning his back on Busick. He gets the Gotch Piledriver, and Biff continues to bleed on the mat while counting the lights. This was good but like Ishii-Thatcher it didn’t hit a higher gear. I can completely understand that as Busick had a brutal match with Jon Moxley earlier. ***½
Team PCO vs. Team Onita
This is a ten-man tag and both PCO and Onita haven’t named their partners. So, all these guys are surprises. The first guy on Team PCO is Nzo (formally Enzo Amore). I would probably have left at this point. It’s all well and good having surprise wrestlers but what if one of them is someone you desperately want to avoid? Next is Jimmy Wang Yang. He’s had less than 10 matches since 2013. Next is Barry Horowitz. He’s wrestled three matches since 2003 and is 63 years old. Finally, we have Fandango. PCO has exclusively recruited former WWE wrestlers. Team Onita has the Rock N’ Roll Express, Juice Robinson from New Japan and Colt Cabana to attempt to hold all this together.
I was going to work out the average age in this match as four of the participants are in their 60s. Colt knows this is a joke and marks out for Horowitz but some of the other guys didn’t get the memo. Yang looks in great shape considering he’s basically been retired for four years and only wrestles when he tags with his daughter. A lot of the rest of the match is bad due to mobility issues and some of the more mobile guys not knowing how to accommodate that. PCO gives it the old school try because he’s the team leader. Remember PCO vs. WALTER in 2018? That match is why we’re here. There’s a bit with Fandango and Onita where there’s supposed to be a chair spot and Dango has no idea what’s happening. Poor bastard. Onita, having hung him out to dry mists him in the face and gets the win. Yang is visibly laughing at the finish. The camera catches Leatherface hand Onita some more mist and he mists Yang for laughing at his bullshit. *½
Post-Match: Fandango is left alone in the ring and they play his old WWE music and it’s Summer Rae! They dance a bit and I honestly didn’t think that gimmick was that over. Never underestimate the power of DANCE.
The Rottweilers vs. The Briscoe Brothers
Low Ki is in one of his moods. When he was in Germany, and this match was supposed to happened for wXw, he was the model professional. I’ve met him and he’s quiet but he gets offended easily. One of my favourite memories of wrestling is Low Ki trying to join in our banter and another is him getting irrationally mad at one of my friends for messing around. Life is serious if you’re Low Ki.
I’m not sure what the guy said but he’s removed, and Ki steals his front row seat before demanding he’s put back in his seat so he can eyeball him.
They muck about a bit and the Briscoes decide to make this no DQ. Homicide says no but they start hitting each other with plunder anyway. The match is good in fits and starts. Little explosive pieces of offence look great as they slide back into the match plan but it feels oddly truncated. It feels like the match is just getting started as Jay hits the Jaydriller and the Froggybow finishes. **¼
Some incredible highs on this show and if they’d leaned more on comedy in the PCO-Onita match and Low Ki hadn’t decided to get into a fight with a fan they could have had the best show of the weekend so far. As it stands it’s a toss up between this and Bloodsport. You need to check out a lot of this show though. Bandido-Bailey, the spotfest six man tag and the Ishii and Suzuki matches.