Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Vanilla Midget Report, Vol. 3, Issue 1

A mega main event
Photo Credit:
Well, well, well, what has arrived here on TWB? It's the return of the Vanilla Midget Report! Yes, I've taken to watching 205 Live, well, live, and now, I've got thoughts. Oh have I got thoughts.

A Chikara Reunion!

The first match on this week's episode featured two warring factions renewing hostilities, the Lucha House Party and the unnamed grumps of varying grappling providence. If you counted Penelope, the Drew Gulak-faced pinata, the House Party outnumbered the Jack Gallagher-less foes two-to-one. In addition to being notable for how unintentionally problematic the story has become with the hostile environment towards Mexican and other Latin American immigrants into this country, it was also a match that could have happened in Chikara before. Lince Dorado and Gulak got in the ring, and unsurprisingly, Good Lucha Things™ happened.

While both Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick are talented workers who can handle a variance in styles, they're not specially suited for lucha guys like Gulak. You can see it in how well he acts as a canvas, or in more technical parlance, a base, for especially Dorado in this instance. Many times, if a wrestler who has lucha-inspired offense ends up flubbing something in the rings, the problem can be traced to the person basing for them. For example, even though Sasha Banks isn't exactly what one thinks when they ponder luchadoras, whenever she tries a fancy armdrag on Charlotte Flair, it looks bad because the latter's ability at taking said move rates about a negative six on a scale of one to ten.

So the match was about what one might expect from two Chikara alumni who received some extra polish by going on the road with WWE for a few years now as a baseline. It wasn't spectacular in that it didn't have razzle-dazzle. But the big spots had a little extra pop, like the school boy from Gulak into the bottom rope out of the ring. It was, in a way, the platonic opening match. It didn't steal the show, but in better circumstances, it might've gotten the crowd going. Interference at the end to continue the feud into a trios elimination match next week was to be expected, because these guys seem to be wanting to open the show every week. Then again, when you've got six preternaturally talented workers who know how to work at pace and with crowd-pleasing (or in the rudos case, crowd-riling) antics, you could do a ton worse.

You Can't Make Me Write About TJP

Not gonna do it. Nope.

Straight Dopamine

So, Mustafa Ali, Hideo Itami, and Buddy Murphy might be good at this wrestling thing, y'know? If you want concrete evidence, the main event on this show is about as rock solid as it comes. It seems every time I've peeked into 205 Live before now, the main events delivered on this level, which is good and necessary since the cruiserweights aren't on RAW anymore and the PPV pre-show seems to be their Network special event ceiling. Luckily, among these three as well as the Champion Cedric Alexander and guys like Akira Tozawa, the division is in good hands.

The match started off as a passion play surrounding the perceived lack of respect around Itami for being an innovator and a legend. Tom Phillips said it out loud himself, that so many WWE wrestlers have boosted Itami's early-career stuff for their own use, whether it be the obvious ones like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk or others who just watched a lot of Pro Wrestling NOAH in the middle and end of the last decade. He worked with a massive chip on his shoulder, and both Murphy and Ali framed the story well with their pissing match over whose turn it was cause pain and damage to Itami's soft tissue with their various limbs and appendages.

But the way it worked itself into a frothy frenzy was almost a masterful display of pacing, of escalation. The way the match went from a typical WWE three-way with one guy resting on the floor to a parade of intertwined counters among three men to Ali's adrenaline-soaked comeback that led to the imploding 450 tease to the tete-a-tete in the corner with all three men into Ali hitting a regular 450 on both wrestlers was one hell of a rollercoaster ride, and that only served as the appetizer to the two big bomb spots at the end. Ali giving the Spanish Fly off the announce table to Murphy provided the hopeful rush that the true hero in the match was going to escape with the winner's purse, only to have Itami rip it away with underhanded tactics, stripping the bottom turnbuckle pad away and crushing Ali's skull with his basement dropkick.

Especially the finish, it was the kind of thing that modern wrestling in all its escalated glory and excess, for better or worse, provides in its highest state. I could feel the hormones, the dopamine or the endorphins or whatever, releasing in my head while watching these three men put on a show of carnage and courage. That's all anyone wants from their entertainment, hormonal satisfaction, an involuntary physical response to stimuli. Wrestling at its best makes you feel something, and this week's 205 Live, judging from my own personal reaction, was wrestling at its best.