The SmarK Retro Repost – CZW Best Of The Best

(originally posted 08/27/2001)

The SmarK Rant for CZW Best of the Best

– CZW is Combat Zone Wrestling, a small indy out of Jersey that likes to think it’s a player because it imports guys from Big Japan and rips off ECW’s “blood and guts” philosophy of garbage wrestling. Someone sent this to me (along with XPW Baptism in Blood II, review forthcoming) and this was a case where I didn’t exactly realize what I was getting into – I thought with a title like “Best of the Best” it would be an hour or so of CZW highlights to introduce people to the product. Instead

– Okay, so first of all we’ve got this sub-RFVideo level production values RIGHT THERE on display with the cheesy opening graphics that look like they were produced in someone’s basement over a weekend. Bad sign right away, there.

– We start proper with a bunch of REALLY bad promos from the various CZW guys as they say “f*ck” a lot and some Mexican guys try to steal a truck or something. In one case, the guy is obviously reading off cue-cards, which you can tell because his eyes move to the right every other word.

– So we FINALLY head to the ring, which basically looks like it’s a converted grocery store. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. All the participants for the junior heavyweight tournament are introduced, ala Japan. Except I have no idea of what’s being said because the sound system is roughly akin to listening to Tom Waite’s Greatest Hits through a McDonalds drive-in speaker while wearing ear muffs. I think Trent Acid may have started singing something from “Bone Machine” at one point, I’m not sure.

– Okay, so the ridiculous concept for the tournament here is that the first round is composed of three-way dances, and the guy who is pinned is knocked out and the other two guys then fight each other in the next round.

– Ric Blade v. W*inger v. Red. W*inger is a Japanese representative, Red is some guy. Blade recently gained notoriety by jumping from a high place and shattering his leg into much smaller pieces. They all do some highspots and try pins on each other. Red springboard dropkicks Blade out, follows him, and gets hit with a somersault plancha from W*inger. In the ring, Ric gets a Nightmare on Helms Street on W*inger and a Last Ride on Red. Red gets an enzuigiri and standing shooting star press, for two. They pull out the most amazing move I’ve seen in weeks and it gets a two count. Brilliant. He goes up, but Blade pops up and shoves him off, onto W*inger on the outside. Back in, Blade gets two on W*inger. Triple fisherman’s suplex is stopped by Red, but Blade hits a Blue Thunder bomb on him. W*inger superplexes Blade and Red follows with a corkscrew legdrop and both Red & W*inger pin Blade at 7:07. Match was a nice gymnastics exhibition, but nothing had any meaning, emotion, psychology or lasting effect. Everything was no-sold seconds later and they didn’t transition between moves. It basically reminded me of a MatRats match. W*inger looked good, though. *

– Nick Mondo v. Mark Briscoe v. Jay Briscoe. The Briscoe brothers are gaining quite a rep in indy circles, although they look like X-Pac with a shaved head so I doubt you’ll ever see them in the WWF. Of course, back in 1992 I didn’t think we’d ever see X-Pac in the WWF, either, so who knows. Mark and Mondo go for a bit, then the Briscoes double-sunset flip Mondo for two. Mondo goes up, but gets neckbreaked off the top for two. Briscoes squabble, however. Mondo tries a rana, but gets caught in a Boston Crab and powerbombed for two. That was quite a swank little sequence. Mark tries a tornado DDT, countered into a powerbomb for two. Jay goes up with a missile dropkick, but Mark dropkicks Mondo out, and hits a springboard tope, and Jay follows with a corkscrew plancha. In the ring, Jay powerbombs Mark for two. Mondo brings chairs in, but gets them dropkicked in his face. Double-chokeslam and the Briscoes put him onto a chair pile, but miss stereo Jersey Jams. Mondo gets a front suplex for two. Iconoclasm gets two on Mark. Mondo sets up a table and puts the kids on it in an incredibly contrived spot, but they pop up and Mark backdrops Mondo over the top, into the waiting arms of Jay (who is standing on the table), and Jay powerbombs Mondo through the table in one motion. Well, if you’re gonna do a contrived spot, make it a good one, and that certainly was a damn good one. Back in, they pin him at 9:52. Better but still seemed like guys imitiating wrestling rather than actually doing it, if that makes sense. **1/2

– Minoru Fujita v. Jose Maximo v. Nick Berk. Triple armdrag sequence starts us out, and Maximo gets dumped. Fujita hits a plancha onto Berk & Maximo, and Maximo gets a quebrada on Berk & Fujita. All those highspots in the first 30 seconds aren’t a good idea. In the ring, Jose dumps Fujita and Berk flips in for two. Berk gets dumped again, and back in Fujita gets a suplex on Jose for two. Berk gets something called the Berkulator for the pin on Jose at 3:10. Buncha highspots, nothing else. ½*

– Trent Acid v. Joel Maximo v. Ruckus. Juvy was supposed to be here, but he’s obviously not. Acid looks like Vampiro’s little brother, and the guy who would play Kidman’s evil twin were he a soap opera character. Stalling to start, and Ruckus dumps Acid. He follows with a complex-looking plancha that seems to take two directional changes in mid-air like Lee Harvey Oswald’s magic bullet, before missing by a good two feet. Good one, dumbass. Next time just punch the guy in the face, it’s easier on your knees. Back in, Maxima drops Ruckus on his head and Acid gets a missile dropkick on him. Acid gets a headscissors on Joel, but gets DVD’d for two. Ruckus with a facejam and a Stroke on Acid. Joel clotheslines him and moonsaults him for two. Acid powerbombs Joel for two. Ruckus gets an impressive handspring elbow and tornado DDT on Acid, but Trent superkicks him out of the ring. Trent drops Maximo on the top, then hits an inverted powerbomb on Ruckus for two. Acid rolls up Maximo for the pin at 5:42. Not a good finish. *1/2

– Adam Flash, Jeff Rocker & “Doomsday” Danny Rose v. Jon Dahmer, Fast Eddie Valentine & Ruckus. Valentine & Dahmer are known by the collective name of “VD”, which I guess is no more or less stupid than “T&A”. Eddie starts with Rocker and they exchange headlocks. Valentine gets a rana, but Rocker responds with a triple suplex for two. Sharpshooter, broken by Ruckus. Valentine gets a tornado DDT, and they double-team Rocker. Dahmer hits a shoulderbreaker onto Valentine’s knee. They dogpile with Ruckus in the corner and get two. Dahmer gets a spinebuster, and a version of the Wazzup drop gets two. Ruckus hits a swanton for two. Then the other heels won’t let Rocker tag out, as he’s apparently done something to offend their sensibilities. Double-team powerbomb on Rocker gets two. Rocker comes back with a belly-to-belly for two on Dahmer. TKO gets two, and finally Danny Rose comes in for the heels. Leg lariat gets two, suplex throw gets two. Rose & Flash double-chokeslam Dahmer for two. Flash gets a top rope rana for two. Rose & Flash drop Dahmer on the top, and Flash dropkicks him in the corner, necksnap gets two. Rose kicks the crap out of Dahmer, and an elbow gets two. Brawl erupts, katie bar the yada yada. They brawl outside and Flash gets a tope. Ruckus moonsaults off a fence for no apparent reason. Back in, Rose & Flash double-facejam Ruckus, and Rock gives him an exploder suplex. Flash & Rose try a Conchairto, but it hits Rocker by mistake and Ruckus finishes with a 450 splash at 12:49. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. **3/4

– Back to the tournament

– W*inger v. Red. Winger works a headlock, but Red gets a DDT and armdrag, and Winger bails. I’ll omit the “*” from here on in. Red follows with a twisting quebrada that #4 on Swank Magazine’s top 10 list of Things are Really Swank, with a bullet. Back in, dropkick misses as does a senton. Winger suplex gets two. Spinning backdrop suplex gets two. He goes up and misses a Tumbleweed. Red gets an inverted tornado DDT (!) and a rana for two, Winger rolls through for two. Red goes up and misses by a mile, and Winger gets a Michinoku driver and goes up to finish with a senton bomb at 4:34. Way too short. *1/2

– Mark Briscoe v. Jay Briscoe. Their evil manager doesn’t want this to happen. Mark works a headlock and they do a mat sequence. They trade wristlocks and work each other’s arm. Jay gets a crucifix for two, but Mark dumps him and fakes a highspot. Block/counter sequence goes nowhere until Mark gets a leg lariat and they back off. Another tumbling sequence and they trade armdrags and ranas. Mark with a german and vertical suplex for two. Seated dropkick and kneedrop get two. Mark springs in with a kneedrop for two. Mark springs in with a kneedrop for two. Jay comes back with a tiger driver for two. Snap suplex gets two. Tombstone and Jay goes up with a flying splash for two. DDT, but Mark bridges out of a butterfly suplex for two. Jay responds with a TIGER DRIVER ’91 and only gets two. Ye gods, if you’re gonna work the most lethal finisher ever invented into an indy match, at least have it get the pin. For those who don’t know what a Driver ’91 is, picture HHH doing a Pedigree, but lifting the guy in the air and dropping him on his head instead of falling straight down on his face. Mark gets a fisherman’s buster and ranas Jay off the apron, then goes up and moonsaults his brother from the top to the concrete. That kind of dangerous crap is totally unnecessary here. Back in, it gets two. Again, you’ve effectively wasted two lethal finishing sequences by having both of them be two counts. Gutbuster gets two. Mark gets a northern lights suplex, which transitions into a northern lights SUPERplex, for two. They exchange chops and Mark gets an Angle Slam for two. Mark powerbombs Jay, but misses the moonsault. Chickenwing suplex gets two. They head up and Jay superplexes Mark for the pin at 14:50. Finish was anti-climactic and I would have booked a draw and given Trent Acid the bye to put heat on him, but the match blew away almost everything else on the card tonight. ****1/4 Of course, working a match they’ve likely rehearsed literally a million times since childhood doesn’t prove they can work the same match with another worker.

– Minoru Fujita v. Nick Berk. Big mistake in booking here – the crowd was jacked and chanting the Briscoes’ name after the last match, so you can’t just throw another junior match out there because ANYTHING is gonna die after that last match. This is where you do your throwaway garbage or comedy match, and THEN go back to the juniors. Fujita gets a leg lariat and works the neck, but Berk gets an indian deathlock, bridged. Fujita into the Fujiwara armbar and works the arm in various creative ways. Berk gets an inverted samoan drop for two, facejam gets two. Fujita goes back to an armbar submission, but Berk barely makes the ropes. He gets an ankelock, but Fujita gets that armbar again. Berk makes the ropes, but back to the armbar. Berk hammers on Fujita with the good arm, making sure to sell the injury. Lariat gets two. Powerbomb is countered with the armbar again, Berk makes the ropes. Berk gets a lariat with the bad arm and goes for his finisher, but Fujita reverses to a dragon suplex for the pin at 7:11. Man, that match was BEGGING for a submission finish to complete the psychology, but they wussed out. Good stuff otherwise. **1/2

– Trent Acid v. Juventud Guerrera. Juvy unloads with chops and Trent bails. Juvy knocks him off the apron and baseball slides him, then follows with a tope. Acid takes a walk, but Juvy tosses him around the crowd. Back in, leg lariat gets two. He hits the chinlock, and the Juicy Elbow gets two. Juvy chases Acid’s crony Z-Barr around and gets caught with a Yakuza kick for two. Juvy goes up with a bodypress for two. He blocks another kick with a lariat and gets a springboard legdrop for two. Snap powerbomb sets up the Juvy Driver, but Z-Barr comes in and takes it. Trent small packages him for the pin at 6:17. New tights for Juvy: Will Job For Ecstacy. *1/2

– Winger v. Minoru Fujita. Fujita tosses Winger and follows with a tope suicida, and they fight into the crowd. That goes on for a while. Back in, they trade mat stuff, including a knucklelock bridge battle. Fujita gets a half-crab and steps on Winger’s head. Oh yeah, he’s a dick all right. Winger dropkicks him out, and piledrives Fujita on the concrete. Back in, pinfall reversal sequence is always good for a pop. Winger gets a northern lights suplex for two. STF, but Fujita makes the ropes. Blue Thunder gets two. Fujita gets a running elbow and missile dropkick for two. Dropkick to the knee and kneebreaker, and Fujita goes a bow-and-arrow, but breaks it voluntarily, which is weird because he had him in the middle of the ring. He stomps a mudhole, but misses a blind charge. Winger pancakes him for two. Gourdbuster gets two. Winger seems lost. Fujita snaps off a DDT, german suplex gets two. Springboard splash gets two. Winger cradles gets two. He goes up and gets a senton bomb for two. Fujita lariat for two, Winger snaps off La Majistral and gets the pin at 12:31. Crowd wasn’t into it, but I was and that’s all that matters. ***1/4

– Trent Acid v. Jay Briscoe. Acid stalls to start. They work the mat, and Acid stalls. Criss-cross leads to a Yazuka kick from Acid, and Jay bails. Acid follows with a cross-body to the floor. Back in, Trent chokes him out, and lays in the chops. Lariat gets two. Dropkick to the back gets two. More chops, but Jay gets a dropkick. Rana, but he walks into an elbow. He works Trent’s knee and goes for a dragon suplex, but Trent blocks. Jay goes up and goes wiped out into the crowd. Acid splashes him onto some chairs. Jay responds with a tope, completely ignoring any damage done by the last attack. Back in, Jay misses a senton. Acid rollup gets two. Blind charge misses and Jay goes up, but gets kicked and Acid Bombed at 11:57. Too long, and disjointed, and the total lack of selling from either guy was really distracting. I think Jay was kinda out of his league here. **1/4

– Justice Pain v. Nick Gage. This is a six-man, with the entrances staggered. Pain destroys Gage and gets a belly to belly, but Gage responds with two rolling piledrivers and a hotshot. He powerbombs Pain out of the ring and through a table. Back in, another hotshot and lariat. Pain counters a powerbomb with a kick to the head and whiplashes Cage, but Nate Hatred (Gage’s partner) joins and they double-team Pain. He DDTs Gage and walks into a lariat. Lobo evens up the babyface side and hits a plancha on the heels. In the ring, Hatred gets an inverted DDT and an elbow. Nick Mondo joins the heel fray and goes after Pain. The Wifebeater completes the babyfaces and now pins count. He cleans house and everyone brawls outside. Gage chairs Lobo in the ring, and hits a brainbuster on Justice, onto the chair. Too much chaotic and senseless brawling going on to follow. Mondo hits a series of kicks on Wifebeater, who comes back with ballshots. Wifebeater sideslams Mondo through a table, and back in he chokeslams Hatred and Lobo legdrops him for the pin at 13:47. Just a mess. *

– Junior tournament final: Winger v. Trent Acid. Acid attacks him to start, but Winger gets a pair of headscissors and nails Z-Barr with a plancha. Acid hits both toadie and opponent with his own plancha. Bunch of chairs get put into the ring. Acid goes up, but gets crotched. Winger tries to bulldog Trent on the chair, but Trent reverses for two. Winger powerbombs Acid on a chair for two. Winger goes up, ref bumped. Acid gets the Yakuza kick, but Winger no-sells and hits a fisherman’s buster, no ref. He unmasks and it’s someone named Johnny Cashmere, apparently an old foe of Acid’s. The real Winger joins us. He goes up with a missile dropkick as Cashmere brawls to the back with Z-Barr. Senton bomb misses. Acid sets up the chairs again, but misses a legdrop and puts himself through them. This is not what I want from a junior tournament final. They head outside and a table gets set up. With help from security. That tells you a lot right there. Winger climbs the fence and heads to the camera bay, and “hits” a senton on Acid (which actually misses by a foot), breaking the table in the process. It gets two. Back in, a pair of pinfall reversal sequences provide the illusion that there’s actual wrestling going on before Winger reverses a rollup for the pin at 11:32. Kinda unfair for him to win the match after Acid got beat up by someone else for 6 minutes, I’d say. Match was a car wreck. *

The Bottom Line: I thought this was a highlight tape, but it’s a FOUR HOUR complete show. And when I say complete, I mean complete with almost no editing — shots of the ring announcer coming to the ring, guys leaving, etc. Send this thing through an editing process and you can shave off 30 minutes of totally extraneous junk EASY. There’s some good stuff in the middle, but for the most part it feels like a forced effort to put out junior wrestling in response to CZW’s critics. But hey, look at the final match: There they are, putting each other through tables and chairs again and ignoring the wrestling aspect already. It takes talent to contradict your own self-righteous viewpoint before the show is even over. The pacing was horrible as well, with almost everything getting 10 minutes and up, even stuff that didn’t warrant it and couldn’t make proper use of it. Trent Acid v. Jay Briscoe had no business being 12 minutes, for instance, when 4 or 5 would have made the same point. And by the finals, there was just so much of the same thing over and over that it because pretty mind-numbing to watch.

So I’d recommend checking out the Briscoe match and the Winger v. Fujita semi-final, but FF through the rest and don’t look back.

Very mild recommendation.