Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest #79: Joshiresu, Lucharesu, and Lucha Libre Grab Bag (2022 CMLL, AAA, STARDOM, & DG)

Match Ratings

  1. Mexican National Middleweight Title: Templario(c) vs Soberano Jr ****
  2. CMLL World Light Heavyweight Title: Niebla Roja(c) vs Cavernario ****1/2
  3. Best 2/3 Falls: Blue Panther, Dark Panther vs Panterita del Ring, Panterita del Ring Jr ****1/2
  4. El Hijo del Vikingo vs Laredo Kid vs Taurus ****3/4
  5. Showcenter Tournament Final: El Hijo del Vikingo vs Laredo Kid ****3/4
  6. Wonder of STARDOM Title: Saya(c) vs KAIRI ****1/4
  7. World of STARDOM Title: Syuri(c) vs Utami ****1/2
  8. Judo Jacket: Maika, STARS vs MIRAI, Queen's Quest ***
  9. No Holds Barred: Hazuki, Sumire vs Oedo Tai **3/4
  10. Hardcore: Prominence vs Cosmic Angels ***1/2
  11. HIGH-END, Ryu, Yoshida vs Z-Brats ***1/2
  12. Gran Alternativa Final: Mistico, Panterita del Ring Jr vs Gran Guerrero, Raider ***3/4

Digest

This edition looks at recent Cutting Edge Battle!!, We are STARDOM!!, Worldwide and Super Viernes installments that contain content from last year that I had previously missed. I should trim that last sentence down. Anyway, I'm going through in chronological order. A special shoutout to The Luchablog for posting their 2022 MOTYC list. I used that to fill in a few blanks and ensure I caught as close as possible to everything that was worthwhile in the world of lucha libre from last year.

Up first, we have a match from last May and gold was on the line. I just covered their latest outing in PWD no.76 and called it the best TV match of the week. This was much like watching one of those sequel films that are supposed to be prequels and it landed very well. Fantastic spotfest stuff from two of CMLL's best.

My favorite CMLL roster member won the World Light Heavyweight strap from Ingobernable Niebla Roja next. The caveman truly earned that victory too, working hard alongside his opponent to really deliver big here. Niebla honestly deserves a bit of credit too as he was really a workhorse for the company last year and a constant treat to watch. Fantastic stuff and one of my favorite lucha libre outings of the year!

Number three was a technical showcase and a damn thrill-ride. I especially credit Cubs for making me aware of this one as I guarantee I was going to miss out otherwise. They ran in to a draw and it so much felt like a damn revival of the CMLL I've been longing for. Last year's product felt closer to fulfilling that dream of mine, as tacky as that is, than I thought was possible considering the trajectory preceding it but shit like this is why I keep tuning in with a hopeful eye! 

A fucking MOTYC for sure.

To AAA we go now and it's a three-way arguably featuring AAA's best. We should all be able to agree that Vikingo is their ace, at the very least, and likely on the other two, Laredo and Taurus, as being quality performers. I'd hope so, at least.

The three of them did what they do best and put in for a balls-to-the-fucking-wall spotfest that made 15-minutes feel like five. Breathless athleticism and creative sequences, this was an epic throwaway battle that did a great job of explaining the appeal of AAA content. With workers this damn good just killing themselves and each other in a match largely just thrown together being a commonplace act, most of the company flaws become far less important.

For me, at least.

Nearly perfect insanity.

They really should have covered the seats behind the tron at that show.

Three MOTYC level bouts in a row. This might be the best set I've put out in a bit.

Our last AAA match pushed that to four in a row and worked as a perfect follow-up as Laredo Kid and Vikingo would try their absolute best to commit murder-suicide in the ring against each other just because it was the finals of a random tournament and because they are fucking nuts.

I actually really liked the minimalistic setup here as it added a nice layer of intimacy to this one. It seemed to fuel a more IWRG style of match out from both of them and felt like even more so a sequel because of the approach. While I'll admit that I enjoyed the popcorn flick match that came before, I loved this just as fucking much. Can we get them in a death match next?

I'm begging someone to book this.

Too bad Konnan has me blocked and my AAA guy doesn't have enough pull. I should ask to confirm that last part actually.

Okay, I've confirmed it to be true.

Damn. He said he's email just in case once Konnan is done grieving a deal with WWE that was never in the books to begin with.

Anyway, Laredo won a trip to the hospital and an artsy looking belt for his troubles. As close to perfect a war as possible without being legit perfect. How the hell did Laredo need surgery but not the suicidal viking kid?

To Japan we go for the majority of the rest.


We are STARDOM!! no.156 review

KAIRI challenged Saya for the Wonder belt to kick this episode off. This might be the best thing I've seen from the challenger since she's left WWE. This one echoed with angst as they built, at a strong pace, to a fantastic crescendo filled with fighting spirit and dramatic near-falls.

Draws done right are a pleasure to watch and this was certainly one done right.

Closing this one, Utami and Syuri showed that they are two of the true top dogs of the brand right now with a true heavyweight feel fight. Syuri's reign has been fire so, as much as I love Utami, I was thankful for the result here. MOTYC number five of this collection.

We are STARDOM!! tends to be my favorite pro-wrestling television program and this was arguably the best episode from last year. That's saying something! Consider this a must-see installment that you absolutely must-see.

Overall Rating of Episode: 95/100%


Moving along, we have one more episode from the series. This one actually debuted yesterday and contains content from the 11/26 event that they company ran.


We are STARDOM!! no.158 review

This is the STARDOM in Showcase III gig episode of the show.

We get clips of a car crash with comedy four-way first that'd be won by Koguma.

Then they aired clips of what was basically a four-way mud shampoo and hairspray "wrestling" match. I really did not care for this at all.

Judo Jacket trios match? I had no idea that I wanted to see these six work a judo style contest, but apparently I really did want to see this. Good, unique, but admittedly not something I would call must-see. A fun novelty sums it up rather well.

Next, a no holds barred contest with a few workers that I don't see that much of. They don't appear that often on this show and this is how I watch this company. Anyway, it was good for what it was and reminded me a lot of shit I'd see all of the time in the joshi world like five years ago or so. Cheap, but fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

It ended in a no contest.

Last for this one, before we move the DG, and it's the best match of the set. This was a hardcore trios battle with a lot of entertainment value thanks to several quality moments alongside a touch of comedy. It all worked together very well and landed nicely enough that I'd certainly recommend it to anyone with a slight interest in such things.

A surprise followed with clips of an exploding coffin match featuring someone in a grim reaper outfit. A bunch of fireworks would go off eventually after a laughable finishing stretch. It felt like comedy that wasn't trying to be comedy, to be honest.

Don't watch this episode to be blown away. Watch it if you want a mostly fun set of things meant to just be entertaining filler.

Overall Rating of Episode: 70/100%


Cutting Edge Battle!! no.160 review

This one ran just a few days ago, on the seventh, for those that care about that sort of thing.

A big atomico filled this one up from the fourth night of the Fantastic Gate tour. HIGH-END was a broken and fragile group at this point and they had Ryu and Kong come in for assistance and they overdelivered in their roles. The sight of seeing Cyber pinning KAI to close this was especially surprising considering their current positions in the company, but I dug it.

Pretty good stuff.

After, the Z-Brats talked some shit and then started wrecking shit until music not heard anywhere near Dragongate in nearly half a decade rang out.

SHINGO was home and a beautiful segment followed.

Considering the sole match of the episode was pretty good and the post-match return segment was amazing, I think I can safely call this a highly recommended viewing experience.

Overall Rating of Episode: 80/100%


We close with a return trip to Mexico with the Gran Alternativa Tournament Finals which saw Mistico and Panterita del Ring Jr against Gran Guerrero and Raider. 

The goal here absolutely should have been to have the vets get some shine and a big spot or two while the younger dudes were allowed to show off the majority of the time. CMLL hasn't been great at building the next stars up for a while and it can really be an issue at times.

Here, they actually made everyone involved look like stars. I wish I could believe that the company was going to do well at following up, but I'll refrain from being that optimistic just yet.


Anyway, this set fucking rocked. Thanks, as always, for reading and check in for more DG and STARDOM episode reviews soon. Note that I have completed my 2022 CMLL and AAA coverage with this issue of the PWD.