Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Non-Fan Review // Mysterio vs. Guerrero from Halloween Havoc '97

So far, I've seen Hulk Hogan fight an actual giant; I've seen blood in the ring; I've seen Vince McMahon shaved, the unstoppable Undertaker, the women of wrestling - even Santa Claus had a go. But those are all heavyweights (well, maybe not the women). Now it's time to see what the lighter wrestlers are up to. They're athletic, they're keen, they want to show what they can do. How different can it be?

First, a chap in purple lycra emerges from a graveyard. Fireworks go off around him. This is Rey Mysterio Jr. He reminds me of a cartoon superhero I saw years ago, called the Phantom. On the other side, Eddie Guerrero appears, wearing shiny metal trousers and a smirk. He ain't popular. The trousers alone may be responsible for that.

The two wrestlers seem to be fighting over... a mask? Well, whatever. Makes as much sense as fighting over a belt (which I think is also at stake). Rey gives a spare mask to a boy in the audience. Couldn't he just give one to Eddie and save all the hassle?

So far, this is wrestling as it always has been - flashy and over the top. A good start!

The match begins. We have a few moments of trash talking before Eddie throws a punch. Rey ducks, clobbers him back and then all hell breaks loose. Rey Mysterio Jr seems to think he's Spiderman, leaping over his opponent, throwing backflips off the ropes and even reversing a throw in midair. When he does end up on his back, he sends Eddie flying with a well-timed push from both legs.

I'd like to see Hulk Hogan try to pull off these moves. He'd probably break a hip - and not the other guy's.

More gymnastics ensue as the two collide against the ropes. I'm not sure who tried that charge but they both go spinning over the top of the ropes and Eddie lands hard. Rey goes one better - while his opponent is getting up, he bounces off the far ropes, flips over the top of the near ones and attempts to land on top of him.

It seems his purple spider sense isn't working for him, as he misses his mark and Eddie slings him down onto the floor. A kick to keep him down, and then Eddie runs him around the ring and into the steel steps. Ouch! When will they put some padding on those?? Eddie isn't done - he chucks Rey back into the ring, then mounts the rope and somersaults onto his opponent. Rey jerks in pain as his back takes the brunt.

Well, that's what you get for showing off, kids.

Eddie showboats to the booing crowd while Rey staggers to his feet. Eddie punches him, slaps him down again. Pulling Rey back up to his feet, Eddie slings him into the far ropes, clearly having never watched another wrestling match - predictably enough, Rey reverses the throw and it's Eddie that bounces off the ropes... and into a flying kick.

Rey is back, and the Ghost Who Walks has summoned the power of ten tigers (seriously, go watch that cartoon). He doesn't just bounce off once set of ropes - no, he bounces off TWO - and then he gets creative again. Eddie responds to his reverse-flip-starjump by snatching him out of the air and slamming him on the mat. Rey writhes in pain, again.

Eddie stands back for a moment, but it's clear that the other man isn't giving up. Eddie picks Rey up by his neck, lifts him up in the middle of the ring and drops him back down. As Rey sits up, Eddie shoves him back down and lies on top of him. One! Two! Thr- nope, he's moving again. The referee calls Eddie off. Eddie is displeased.

Time for another round of abuse. Once again, Rey is helped up by the head. He's slung into the ropes, then grabbed on the way back and thrown back down. Another pin! One! Two! Rey kicks out, and the hold is broken.

Eddie argues with the referee. Rey struggles to hold onto his mask as Eddie tugs at it, wanting to claim his prize regardless, and the referee merely shouts louder. But it seems to work. Eddie gives up and returns to wrestling with what seems little more than a lifesize ragdoll. And what better way to pick up your opponent than by giving him a wedgie?

Pinned under one arm, in a standing position, Rey seems helpless. Eddie can't resist tugging at that mask again. But it won't work - this mask is part of the whole suit! We really don't want to see Rey stripped of his entire outfit, do we?

Half a minute goes by, and then Eddie grows bored. Time to do something else - like pick Rey up, hold him over his head, then slam him down onto his knee. Rey sprawls. Eddie pulls him back from the ropes, flips him over and sits on top of him. The referee counts, but Rey kicks out. Eddie sits back down on him. Rey kicks out. And a third time. And a fourth. The commentators have lost interest at this point as they start talking about other wrestlers.

It's now clear that, having been unable to do anything of note for several minutes and apparently half dead, Rey is going to make a comeback and win the match.

Eddie's fifth (sixth? I lost count) pin is a little more adventurous - he decides to push off with his feet and kick Rey in the chest. Maybe then he'll lie still? But Rey seems to know it's coming - he plants his feet in Eddie's chest and kicks him away. What happens next is hard to describe - Eddie pulls him up, Rey jumps onto the top rope, then he somersaults back down and takes Eddie with him. Both hit the mat, both winded.

The two men get back up, Rey immediately bouncing off the ropes and kicking Eddie in the face with both feet. Eddie rolls out of the ring. Rey doesn't even wait for Eddie to get back in - he's bouncing off the ropes, ready to carry out some more deft gymnastics and jump onto Eddie as he returns to the ring - but Eddie slips in too early, Rey lands on empty ropes, and Eddie kicks him out in return.

They never learn. Stop showing off!

Eddie follows him out. He picks Rey up, shoves him into the metal railings. Eddie throws him back into the ring. Rey crawls away as Eddie strides in for the kill, opting for a squatting hold with Rey's arms across his legs and his back arched in a rather uncomfortable angle. Rey screams, not for the first time. And Eddie's ripping at that mask again - dude, no! You'll ruin it!

Eddie squeezes with both arms, trying to pop Rey's head off, but the referee breaks them up. Eddie picks Rey up, wearing him like a backpack - this is apparently the "Gory Special", named after Eddie's father, Mr Gory. I'm not sure what the idea behind it is as it doesn't seem to be causing any harm - and then Rey suddenly flips off his back and throws Eddie over his head!

As Eddie gets up, the Ghost Who Walks aims a flying kick with both feet - and misses. Eddie's kick to the back of Rey's head doesn't miss.

Eddie follows up with a complicated move that doesn't seem to do anything, picking Rey up and dropping him again in a staggered descent while he drops to one knee. Rey looks finished anyway; Eddie rolls him onto his side and tries to pull his arm off, one knee planted in Rey's back and one leg tucked behind his other arm. This carries on for another remarkably long time.

Rey, unable to perform his trademark gymnastics, returns to his trademark screaming.

Eddie seems to grow bored and lets him go. Rey rolls away, but Eddie soon pulls him back to his feet. Another complex move takes place - Eddie throws Rey into the ropes, then drops to the floor as Rey runs over the top of him, then slams into him as he bounces off the opposite ropes. Another pin takes place, but Rey kicks out straight away - probably because those hideous trousers ended up right in his face. Those things could get a reaction out of a corpse.

The referee separates them. Eddie pulls Rey up by the mask, whacks his head into the corner of the ropes, then slaps him in the chops for good measure. Rey falls to his knees. Eddie lands another punch, but Rey blocks the next and lands one of his own. The two slap each other a few more times and then suddenly Eddie's in the corner and Rey is elbowing him repeatedly in the face. I'll say this for Phantom Rey - he goes down quickly but he comes back just as quickly.

Slap! Eddie is reeling. Rey grabs his arm and throws him towards the centre of the ring, but Eddie reverses it and Rey gets a kick in the keks for his trouble. Eddie then runs him towards the far corner and Rey tries to pull a somersault off at the worst possible time - he ends up hanging from the corner by his feet, arms twitching like a crazed spider. Eddie wastes no time kicking him in the chest while he's vulnerable.

The commentators seem to think that Rey is trapped and cannot get out of this position (by, for example, lifting his feet off the top rope). Eddie grins, a smirk so wide the top of his head is in danger of falling off. He walks to the far corner. If he had a moustache he could twirl, he would be twirling it like crazy right now. He runs to the corner, feet ready to deliver a fatal kick to Rey's helpless body.

Rey pulls his upper body away from the mat, and Eddie slides into the corner post. The only fatalities are the contents of his trousers. Hey, bloodstains could only improve them.

Eddie staggers painfully out of the ring. Rey unhooks himself (trapped, indeed!) and climbs onto the top rope, ready to leap - and he does! More like a flying fox than a tiger (or a purple spider, come to that). He collides with Eddie, and Eddie collides with the railings that keep the audience away. Both stagger upright, but Rey is first to recover and throws a backhanded punch to Eddie's face.

Eddie is thrown gracelessly back into the ring, and Rey follows. Rey picks him up and throws him into the ropes. Which, predictably enough, leads to a reversal! Eddie switches roles, sending Rey flying into the ropes instead, and grabbing him on the return. Rey goes up, Eddie throws him down, and then... double reversal! Rey flips in midair, lands on his feet and leaps crotch first into Eddie's face. He somersaults end over end, landing with Eddie underneath him. Pinned! The referee counts - 1! 2! And Eddie kicks free.

Rey turns to find Eddie running towards him. A mighty arm slams the purple spider phantom back onto the mat. While Rey gets his breath back, Eddie and the referee have a brief discussion. I have no idea what about, but one hopes it might be fashion tips. Those trousers are giving me a headache.

Rey seems dazed now. Eddie throws him into the ropes, bouncing him off and towards the far ones, but suddenly Rey is awake again. He jumps onto the ropes, using them as a springboard to somersault over Eddie's head and land behind him. This is followed by another complicated string of movements - Rey leaps for Eddie, Eddie dodges, Rey grabs the ropes, Eddie grabs his legs and spins him around, Rey grabs the ropes again, Eddie gets flipped over the ropes and out of the ring. This whole sequence takes about five seconds at most.

Rey goes for another unwise attempt to bounce off the far ropes and leap onto his opponent. This time it actually works - the two men go spinning into the railings, Eddie taking a bash to the head while the Amazing Spider-Phantom has a slightly softer landing. It takes a moment for both men to get back to their feet, and it's Rey half walking, half dragging Eddie back into the ring. Eddie gets to his feet while Rey climbs the ropes.

Sigh. More trick shots. This one is apparently called a corkscrew. Rey spins backwards into the other guy and they both go sprawling. But when Rey goes for a pin, Eddie comes back to his senses. The hold is broken. They both seem to take a moment to catch their breath. Sorry, guys, you'll both have to keep going a little longer!

Rey almost gently helps Eddie back up. Then he's picking the man up, and chucking him back down. I don't know whether he has the strength left for any more fancy moves. Or maybe he does - he climbs the ropes, then flips backward onto Eddie - who raises his legs at a pivotal moment and sends Rey sprawling. Eddie responds to these showy gymnastics by picking him up, sitting him on his shoulders and slamming him down onto the mat. There's another one of Eddie's weird pins, this time with his head between Rey's legs (any attempt to describe it further will only sound weird, so you'll just have to see for yourself). But Rey kicks out, and Eddie is shoved away.

We're coming to the end now, and it looks like Eddie and his terrible trousers are going home with a new mask after all. Eddie picks Rey up like a rag doll, then runs into the corner post with him. Rey cries out on impact. As Eddie walks to the far corner, ready for another charge, Rey can only stagger slowly and painfully to his feet. Eddie charges in, screaming, but Rey is more alert than he looks - he drops down and sends Eddie flying over him, head first into the post. Ouch.

Eddie seems surprisingly intact, but is still unable to resist when Rey leaps backwards with the back of his fist in Eddie's face. Quite why Rey feels the need to fall over as well I don't know. Rey is up and raring to go again - an astonishing recovery - and he's going to try something stupid, signally to the referee and crowd with some arcane finger twiddling. As Eddie rises to his knees, the Amazing Spider-Phantom makes an agile leap onto the top ropes.

Rey leaps into Eddie's waiting arms. Rey hits the mat, Eddie apparently wondering what the hell just happened. Oh well. Eddie decides to do something stupid himself. (The commentary suggests this is going to be a "frog splash" or something like that - is Rey about to croak?) Eddie climbs the ropes, and LEAPS across half the ring. Rey simply rolls out of the way.

Eddie recovers fairly well, rolling on impact and soon back on his feet, but Rey is already charging for him. But his attack - apparently an attempt to suffocate Eddie with his underwear in a flying leap - goes awry AGAIN. Eddie pushes him up and over his head, and Rey lands astride that corner post by his delicates.

Before he has chance to recover, Eddie is climbing up behind him for a hug. Or maybe not. Rey throws his elbow back to dislodge the unwelcome advances of his opponent - no means no, Eddie - and a few punches eventually do dislodge him. Eddie changes his approach, sitting back to back with the Mysterious One and lifting him up, up, up... it's time for a throw! The two men tumble to the mat, but it's Rey on top when they land. One mighty leg hold and a three second count later, the bell rings - it's over!

Rey "The Phantom" Mysterio has, incredibly, managed to win the title. The referee hands him the customary belt. And then WHAM! Eddie's back, and he's MAD. He grabs Rey's mask again, still tugging as the two men spiral back into the middle of the ring, and Rey is flung out, still clutching his new belt. Eddie stands in the ring and gets booed; Rey, however, has what he came for and strides purposefully (but quickly) for the exit. I don't really blame him.

Summary: This is what happens when wrestlers see "The Matrix" - they start leaping about the place and pulling off somersaults. And, like most of these showy tricks, they usually go wrong. If you want to win a wrestling match, it seems the best tactic is to be boring.

It also looks like the winner of most of these bouts is the one with more fashion sense, though that usually isn't saying much.


I also had the opportunity to watch Nick's match, the 2016 NJPW bout between Will "Captain Britain" Ospreay (flashy and ridiculous) and Ricochet (tattooed bad boy in beard and not quite enough leather - he looked less naked when he took the leathers off and stood in his red undies).

Rey Mysterio Jr loves his gymnastics, while Steady Eddie seemed to prefer a more traditional wrestling style. Here we have two Reys at once - they leap over each other, spinning in cartwheels and somersaults, more an elaborate dance than a wrestling match. It's fast, it's flashy, it's a much more complex arrangement than Rey and Eddie, and I got the sense that the two men were performing together more than fighting each other.

It's a thrilling watch, but it's also bristling with humour. There's overacting aplenty. There's actual SWEARING (you'd never get language like Will's on WWE). There's even spitting! But the funniest moment for me was when both men struck each other with a roundhouse kick to the head at the same time - and both hit the mat at the same time straight after.

But maybe there's more going on between these two than we know. At the end, as they squared up and shook hands, I wasn't sure whether they were going to come to blows one last time or kiss...

Next up for Andrew // Jimmy Havoc & Clint Margera vs. Rickey Shane Page & Drew Parker in DEATHHOUSE from Fight Club: Pro Project Mayhem VI - Night One.

Release Date - 20th March 2018

Written by Andrew Williams // @ADW_Author

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