Friday, December 28, 2018

Signed Trading Cards: MSP, Josh Briggs, Anthony Greene

These cards I got signed at the Limitless Wrestling "No Control" event that took place on November 30, 2018 at the Portland Club.  You can read my report about it here.

Anthony Greene
The first card is a limited edition hologram to go along with his original set.  The card was made by Todd Graham of Proving Ground Brand where you to can get your own custom trading cards made.  Following the link above of catch him on Facebook.  The second card is AG's Limitless card.  I got the hologram card by trading with AG as I had an extra Limitless card.

Josh Briggs
The first card is from the Limitless Series 1 set.  The second card was from a limited edition 9 card Limitless Wrestling Moments set.  I was very fortunate to get a set of these.  This card features the moment from September 22, 2017 when Teddy Hart issued an open challenger that was answered by Briggs.  The match was delayed but eventually happened at "Feed the Need" on May 11, 2018, Briggs defeated Hart.

Maine State Posse
The fist card featuring all three members of MSP: Alexander Lee, Danger Kid, & Aiden Aggro, the second card is also from the Limited Edition set.  The moment is from September 14, 2016 "Past Your Bedtime" in Orono, Maine.  This show featured the birth of the Maine State Posse, albeit in a losing effort to Christian Casanova & Brick Mastone.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fire Pro Wrestling World

Growing up a pro wrestling fan in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I found myself in envy of those who imported video games. Two franchises existed outside of North America that were known to be the best of the best, when it came to wrestling games: Virtual Pro Wrestling and Fire Pro Wrestling. In America, we got various versions of the AKI engine that ran Virtual Pro Wrestling under the names of WCW Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000, and WWF No Mercy. All those games were great, although it was hard to find someone online who had played Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 who’d say that the American counterparts were on par or better than VPW.

I never felt gipped by not playing VPW because I knew it was reskinned as the WWF games. Those games were amazing and have stood the test of time as some of the greatest wrestling games ever made. But when you look at a franchise that has maintained a high level of consistency and is still relevant, it’s hard to ignore Fire Pro Wrestling.

Fire Pro Wrestling was originally released all the way back in 1989, almost thirty years ago. It began as a PC franchise that eventually moved onto the Super Famicon (Super Nintendo), arcades, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Gameboy Advance, Playstation 2, and most recently Playstation 4. Despite having a thirty year history, the game didn’t show up in North American until the two Fire Pro Wrestling titles were released on Gameboy Advance in 2001 and 2002. Then Fire Pro Wrestling Returns was released on the PS2 in 2007 and finally, Fire Pro Wrestling World was released in 2017 on PC and 2018 on PS4.

My first experience with the FPW franchise was the Gameboy Advance games. Both games featured a roster of unlicensed wrestlers who had the move sets and likenesses of vary recognizable wrestlers. It took just a little bit of editing to turn this pre-made roster into one of the greatest wrestling rosters ever and that made my day. Back in those late 90’s days, I spent a good portion of my time discussing and drawing up my dream WCW vs. WWF matches and this game made it super easy to experience them.

Very little has changed over the years with Fire Pro Wrestling. It still uses 2D sprites and runs on a gameplay engine that rewards timing and putting on a good match over button mashing. I once heard a GameStop employee describe the WWE 2K games as “a really bad fighting game” and I had to concur. Don’t get wrong, I’ve enjoyed the Smackdown vs. Raw and 2K franchise over the years, but it’s not a good wrestling game. It’s just the best looking (and really only) option we have.

In FPW, your goal is to tell an entertaining match not simply beat your opponent. So, if you spend the game dominating your opponent, the crowd will not find it entertaining and you will not receive a good match grade. Your goal is to pace the match out, use your big spots when they are needed, and don’t try doing moves you haven’t worked your way up to yet. For example: most matches start off with light punches, kicks and a lock up or two. No one is going to come out doing finishes or pile driving opponents, so, if you attempt to do something like that in FPW you’ll fail, or it’ll be reverse and this can throw off your momentum and screw up your match. It’s basically a game about wrestling psychology hidden behind some very nicely animated 2D graphics.

I didn’t appreciate FPW on the Gameboy Advance, but once Fire Pro Wrestling Returns hit PS2, I took the time to really learn about the game, how to play, and I found myself enjoying this very simple, but difficult game. There is a learning curve to any FPW, but once you put the time in its so rewarding and it’s hard to go back to something like the 2K series.

Sadly, after FPW Returns came out, the Fire Pro franchise seemed dead. A piss-poor Xbox Avatar game was released using the FPW branding, but it was a joke and didn’t resemble anything to do with the series at all. I think all of us FPW fans had secretly given up. There just didn’t seem to be anyone interested in making an unlicensed wrestling game, especially when having to compete with the WWE.

Then in 2017, a short announcement trailer was released for Fire Pro Wrestling World. I was stunned. Was this series really coming back and cashing in on the growing population of wrestling fans who are fed up with the WWE? It seemed like the perfect time to release a new wrestling game that had an aging, but built in fan-base and an already developed engine.

FPW World was a big hit once it hit Steam’s Early Access on PC. I purchased a copy as soon as I had a computer capable of running it well and the game gave me everything I wanted in a wrestling game in 2018. The controls were still tight and the online marketplace allows for people to upload created wrestlers, rings, logos, turnbuckles, etc. allowing for almost infinite customization to the game. FPW also features MMA matches, death matches, and just about everything in between.

To make things even better, when FPW World finally came to PS4 a few months ago, it came with NJPW branding. Not only does it feature quite a few stars from NJPW, it also now has a story mode that centers around the IWGP Championship.

Recently, I treated myself to a copy on PS4 (How can you not for $29?) and I’m loving it. It holds up well against the PC version and it’s become something I play pretty much daily. It doesn’t have a Universe mode like the 2K series, so it’s up to you to make up your own storylines if you are into that sort of thing, but I grew up without all that stuff anyway. I just want to take a couple of interesting wrestlers and have them face off and see what happens. Some fans enjoy watching the matches so much they actually simulate the matches and just watch them. I’m definitely not like that. If I want to watch wrestling, I’m going to watch wrestling, not a 2D video game simulation, but to each his own.

For a vast majority of wrestling fans, I don’t think Fire Pro Wrestling World is going to wow them. The graphics, while pretty, are dated and you have to invest some serious time in learning how the strategy and timing system work. The game doesn’t hold you by the hand, but if you put the time and effort into it, it’s really hard to go back to something like 2K. In my eyes and in what I look for in a wrestling video game, Fire Pro Wrestling World is vastly superior to anything 2K has released. But it’s a very similar argument of fans of NJPW or the WWE. One is easily accessible and easy to follow, while the other takes some time and patience, although in the long run, I feel like the reward is worth the effort. If you have a PS4 or a decent PC and love wrestling, I highly recommend checking out Fire Pro Wrestling World. It’s quite rewarding.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Big Van Vader

This write up started as a brief career overview of Big Van Vader for my upcoming post about Wrestlers Who Died in 2018, however the more I wrote I decided to make this a post on it's own.

The Baby Bull in the AWA
After a failed football career Leon White was trained by Brad Rheingans debuting in the AWA as the Baby Bull in 1985.  In 1986 worked for Otto Wanz's Catch Wrestling Association under the name Bull Power.  The following year he won the CWA World Championship ending Wanz's near 9 year run as champion.  Strangely the match took place in Denver, Colorado.  He would go onto hold the championship three times.

Bull Power with the CWA Championship
He debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1987 after being given the gimmick Big Van Vader and demolished Antonio Inoki in short order in his debut match causing a riot in Sumo Hall.  On May 25, 1989 he won his first of  three IWGP Championships.

Big Van Vader IWGP Champion
In November 1989 he debuted in Mexico for the Universal Wrestling Association.  He defeated El canek to win the UWA World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would hold for one year.  He also wrestled a couple matches for CMLL a few days after winning the UWA Championship.

Big Van Vader with the UWA Championship
In February 1990 New Japan battled All Japan in Supercard that lead to Vader going on to have a memorable feud with Stan Hansen including having his eye popped out of it's socket.  Vader pushed it back in and continued the match.

After getting his eye popped out
The first time I ever saw Vader was watching the Wrestle War 1991 tape and seeing Vader and Hansen battle to a wild and crazy double DQ.  On July 12, 1992 Vader defeated Sting at the Great American Bash to win the WCW World Championship, he would hold the title three times.

Big Van Vader with WCW Championship
I loved watching Vader in WCW he was so dominate and was just the man.  Then he went to WWF and well, he just wasn't.  After WWF he would return to prominence in All Japan winning the Triple Crown Championship and NOAH winning the GHC Tag Team Championships with 2 Cold Scorpio.  He would bounce around the independents, making sporadic appearances in TNA, WWE, and AJPW.

Big Van Vader as Triple Crown Champion
Vader & Scorpio NOAH GHC Tag Team Champions action figures
I saw Vader wrestle live just once on June 1, 2012 at the Pro Wrestling Syndicate 5th Anniversary show in Rahway, New Jersey.  On the card he wrestled Too Cold Scorpio in a hard hitting match that was much better than I expected it would be.  Vader won with a Vader Bomb.

My photos of Big Van Vader vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

From August 21, 1989 to December 12, 1989 Vader accomplished something that I do not think anyone else has ever duplicated.  He held three different world championships in three different promotions on three different continents.  Mexico's Universal Wrestling Association, Austria's Catch Wrestling Association, and Japan's NJPW IWGP Championship.

He caught the headlines once again in the summer of 2016 after Will Osprey and Ricochet had a much herald match in New Japan Pro Wrestling.  Vader was very critical of the match which lead to a twitter feud between Vader and Osprey.  This lead to a match on August 12, 2016 that saw Vader defeat Osprey at RevPro Uprising 2016 in Bethnal Green, London.

In April 2017 he wrestled his last tour of Japan, a three day stint wrestling in six man tags in Tokyo, Fukuoka, and Osaka.  His final match came on May 25, 2017 defeated The Ironman at WrestleJam V in Ringgold, Georgia.

In November of 2016 after a vehicle crash, Vader was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was very public about the fact that he only had a couple years left because of it.  A year and a half later he succumbed to pneumonia on June 18, 2018 at the age of 63.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast Podcast of 1,000 Holds on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Signed Trading Cards: Penelope Ford, Darby Allin, MJF, & More

These sixteen cards I got signed at the Limitless Wrestling "No Control" event that took place on November 30, 2018 at the Portland Club.  You can read my report about it here.  Normally I don't post this many cards at once, but most of these cards are Limitless Wrestling cards so it made sense to group them together.

This first bunch starts out with LAX formerly the EYFBO and is signed by both Santana and Oritz, Brody King, Eli Everfly, Kris Statlander, Rich Palladino, Bear Bronson, Thick Boys, and Jay Freddie.  I had gotten the Thick Boys card signed by John Silver in September.  Also Rich Palladino was the ring announcer at the first ever indy show I attended back in 1997.

This second group starts with Kevin Blackwood, followed by Max Smashmaster, an MJF card from the All In set followed by MJF's Limitless Wrestling card.  Darby Allin starts the bottom row and then his 2018 PWG BOLA card.  Next we have Penelope Ford card from the All In set and finally a Travis Huckabee Chikara card.  I bought this card from him for only one dollar

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling (Episode One)

We begin the show with Corey Maclin and Dave Brown telling us all about what to expect on this debut episode of Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling. It’s clear that this show was created to filler until Power Pro Wrestling could get back on its feet. Sadly, that day never happened. Both Corey and Dave hype up the show and are thrilled to bring us a peek back at some of the greatest matches and angles in Memphis wrestling history.

The show starts off strong with the Monday Night Memories music video. Back in March 1994, Jimmy Hart quickly put together this song as a tribute to the legends of Memphis wrestling in preparation for the Monday Night Memories show which drew 6,500 fans to the Mid-South Coliseum to see legends like Jerry Lawler, Austin Idol, and Terry Funk. The song is a little cheesy, but it’s a great look at all the big names that came and went through Memphis.

Following the music video, Corey and Dave are joined by The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart, who I am convinced is never not in character.

He immediately begins bragging about having the most impact on Memphis wrestling history and starts naming off all the big names he’s worked with while Corey and Dave try not to roll their eyes. Jimmy mentions on his favorite teams was PYT (Pretty Young Things) that consisted of Koko B Ware (Stagger Lee) and Norvell Austin. This led us into our first wrestling clip of the show: PYT vs. The Fabulous Ones (Eddie Gilbert and Tommy Rich).

Opening the Vault of Classic Memphis Wrestling is a clip show, so we do not get to see the full match here. This match took place at the WMC-TV 5 studios and was one hell of a brawl. Things got out of control quickly and bodies were flying all over the place. Hellacious punches are thrown and it made me realize how weak the punches thrown nowadays are. These punches looked real and looked like they felt real. Eventually the action spills out onto the floor as the referee loses control of the match. Jimmy Hart gets involved, and starts beating the hell out of Tommy Rich while he’s being held by Koko.

Things become so out of control in the tiny studio crowd, that you actually see Memphis police officers stepping in to keep the crowd back at certain moments. Obviously, this match was a double DQ. I wasn’t able to find a date for when this match took place, but I was able to narrow it down to sometime in 1983-1984.

We cut back to Corey, Dave, and Jimmy who are now joined by Jerry “The King” Lawler. Jimmy Hart jumps out of the big chair to allow The King to sit and he plays it off wonderfully, telling The King how much he’s been bragging about him, when in fact, he has done nothing but trash Lawler until he showed up.

They joked about some bad blood because of the Jimmy Hart vs. Jerry Lawler feud over the years, and Jimmy Hart even commented at one point about not wanting to have his jaw broken again. (Jerry Lawler purposely broke Jimmy Hart’s jaw as a receipt for his comment about having to put down a prized race horse once he breaks a leg which was in reference to Jerry Lawler and the year he had to take off due to a broken leg.) 

Jerry tells the story about how he went to the same high school as Jimmy Hart, although Hart was several years older. He mentions that despite hitting it big with The Gentrys, Lawler found Hart singing in a lounge years later, looking all pathetic, so he took him in and introduced him to the world of wrestling, only to have Jimmy turn on him once he got injured. Hart and Lawler play so well off each other it’s a joy to watch them on the screen at the same time, even when discussing small non-wrestling stories like this.

Our next match is Jerry Lawler vs. Nick Bockwinkle, which is always a good time. Jerry is rocking some awesome purple tights, and Nick Bockwinkle clearly has the upper hand when we begin the match.

Both men are obviously tired where we pick up in the match, but out of no where Bockwinkle head butts Lawler in the crotch. A normal man would cower in pain, but not The King. Instead he hulks up, pulls the strap down, and begins beating Bockwinkle with stiff punches. He crawls to the second rope and hits The Jawbreaker, but Bockwinkle kicks out. Jimmy Hart and Jim Cornette both come out, and Hart pushes Lawler off the second rope and then retreats under the ring. In what has to be a first and only time in wrestling history, the referee listens to the crowd and looks under the ring and sees Jimmy Hart. In the ring, Bockwinkle has covered Lawler, but referee Jim Calhoun pushes Bockwinkle off and disqualifies him. Lawler wins the AWA title, but two days later, Jimmy Hart lobbied Verne Gagne and had the decision over turned.

Following some back and forth between Hart and Lawler, The Fabulous One Jackie Fargo calls in to give Hart a piece of his mind.

We get clips of a crazy match between Jackie Fargo and Stan Lane vs. The Moon Dogs in a grudge stretcher match. If you want to see some insane hardcore wrestling years before ECW would come along, you need to see this match.

Our next match is The Fabulous Ones (Steve Kern and Stan Lane) vs. The Masked Assassins in a masks vs. hair match from the Mid-South Coliseum on November 7th, 1983. The hosts were forced to run this clip after Jimmy Hart proclaimed The Fabulous Ones never once beat a Hart Family tag team. Well, as we see in our clip here, The Assassins are beaten cleanly by The Fabulous Ones and are forced to de-mask.

You can't run a classic Memphis wrestling show without mentioning Andy Kaufman. The King runs a clip from the Memphis News that highlighted the night that Jerry Lawler piledrived Andy Kaufman. It's a very short information piece that was no doubt added to cash in on the recently released Man on the Moon movie.

Next we are treated to a highlight reel set to Jerry Lawler's own song, "The World's Greatest Wrestler." It's uhhh... interesting.

We end the show with some previewing of next week's episode with a promise of some footage of Austin Idol, Memphis most asked about legend.


For the first episode of a TV show that was just thrown together at the last minute, this worked surprisingly well. It's not polished and plays off more like four friends gathering around to look back at the past and this allows all of involved parties to shine, especially Lawler and Hart.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Limitless Wrestling No Control Results

Last Friday, November 30th, I made the drive south to Portland for the final Limitless Wrestling card of 2018 at the Portland Club.  I met Mikey, Roy, Phil, and  host of other regulars with a sold out crowd that was itching for a great night of wrestling.  When it comes to the Portland Club I'm not a fan of the parking situation or the lighting when it comes to taking pictures with my phone because they just don't come out well.  However, everything else about the venue is tremendous!

Speaking of photos these fantastic images that you see with this report are courteous of SunnyD Photo, you can find her on Instagram here. Harry Aaron, who typically is the ringside photographer is now doing videography and he brought in Sunny to take over at ringside.  This was her first time and she got some fantastic shots.

Ace Romero pinned Darby Alin with a lariat

Once again Limitless opened big with a hell of a match!  These two have different styles  but they meshed so well.  Darby is so athletic and seems willing to do anything in his matches.  At one point Darby had jumped on onto the top rope while holding onto Romero who viciously pushed him into one of the columns that was wrapped with Christmas lights.

Very hard hitting match that ended with Ace wrecking Darby with a lariat for the pin.

Kevin Blackwood & Harlow O'Hara defeated Doomfly: Eli Everfly & Delilah Doom

Delilah Doom maker her Limitless debut tonight.  Very fast and frenzied match that was fantastic.  Crowd was into this from beginning to end and I know I'm not the only one that wants to see Doomfly back in tag competition here in Limitless.  Finish came when Doom was isolated in the ring and took a couple high impact moves before getting pinned.

Ashley Vox submitted Anthony Greene with the Platinum Hunnies

Hands down match of the night! Sincerely go out of your way to see this match you will not be disappointed.  Greene was dominate most of the match using his size to his advantage.  Vox kept battling back and locking on her finisher wearing Greene down.  The Hunnies interfered several times through out the match until Vox accidentally took them out with a dive after Greene side stepped her.  Vox locked her finisher on for the submission.  I loved this match!  Crowd was into this big time, they were on there feet and the "tap" chant was deafening!

Post match Kris Statlander came out cutting a promo stealing the attention from Vox's victory.

Shooting Gallery: Daniel Garcia & Brandon Thurston defeated Thick Boys: John Silver & Jay Freddie with Puf

Very good tag match, and unlike most it didn't break down into a tornado match.  I really enjoyed watching Thurston and Garcia in the ring with there mat wrestling.  finish came by them pinning Silver with an angleslam lungblower combo

"Dirty Daddy" Chris Dickinson submitted Josh Briggs

I love watching Dickinson in the ring and this match was no different.  Dirty Daddy worked the leg th entire match with some loud has hell kicks.  Briggs continued to show why he's one of the best up and coming big men in wrestling.  Finish came when Dickinson locked in the STF for the surprise submission.

DJ Z pinned Christian Casanova with Stokely Hathaway

DJ Z is replacing the injured Tom Lawlor.  I said this in September and I'm going to reiterate it here, I was never impressed with DJ Z in Impact but these last two shows have made me a fan.  Really good match, highly entertaining.  Ref got bumped and Hathaway threw a gold chain into the ring, Casanova tried to use it but Kevin Blackwood prevented it from happening.  DJ Z got the win pinned Casanova when the ref came to.

Post match a match was for January was set when Hathaway challenged Blackwood and Harlow to a tag match in January against Casanova and Austin Theory, if Blackwood wins he gets his a rematch with Casanova if he loses then he has to get the Dream Team logo tattooed on his arm.

Scramble Match
Puf defeated Brandon Kirk, KTB, Bear Bronson, Brett Domino, & Troy Nelson

As always these scramble matches are friggin awesome!  Puf came out to Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas in Christmas themed gear and had the crowd hopping.  Match opened with everyone beating on Domino after he cut an arrogant (read hilarious) promo.

Eventualy the match broke down to just Brandon Kirk and Bear Bronson in the ring, they both had chairs and sat down in what I thought was going to be them trading shots, instead Kirk got two staple guns and they traded staples to the head.  Bronson then took money from referee Kevin Quinn and stapled money to Kirk's head even forcing Quinn to do it.  Bronson then powerbombed Kirk on two chairs facing each other.

The finish though saw Puf get the pin on Domino and then lead a dance party with Nelson and Bronson.

Kris Statlander pinned Penelope Ford

Good match that was back and forth with Statlander squeaking out a win.  Post match she jumped by Ashley Vox which set up an unsanctioned matched between the two on January 11th.  The Vox vs. Statlander feud has been excellent this year in Limitless and I look forward to the blow off next month.

Maine State Posse: DangerKid, Aiden Agro, & Alexander Lee defeated Travis Huckabee, Green Ant, & Thief Ant

Fun match these six man tags are the best with the lucha rules.  Evidently the storyline is that Huckabee treats the ants like crap?  I wasn't actually clarified so it felt out of place.  Huckabee took the pin for his team.  I'm looking forward to the next trio that comes in against MSP.

LAX:Ortiz & Santana defeated JT Dunn & Brody King with MJF

LAX might just be one of the best tag teams around right now.  Brody King tore it down in the ring tonight.  He moves around in a way a guy his size shouldn't!  Match started slow and really built to crescendo where LAX pinned King for the win.

Post match Ace Romero came out and challenged the Kings, Anthony Greene came out, hugged Dunn but then superkicked him. January 11th's it'll be Take Me Home Tonight vs. The Kings

What a fantastic night of wrestling!  I couldn't have asked for a better distraction for myself after a long week.  Can't wait for January 11th!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment, read my other posts, and like my blogs Facebook page and while you're at it check out my weekly podcast The Wrestling Insomniac on the Nerdy Legion Podcast Network. 

Later Readers!