450 Hammett vs. Samuray Del Sol
Addison Arena; Addison, IL
GALLI Universal Championship Match
I am watching some Samuray Del Sol stuff at the urge of Lowrider. Samuary just went to Mexico, and is a regular for GALLI in the Chicago area. I continue to work on thwo two things to no avail :-(
Anyway, I got about three-quarters thru this match before it was clipped for the first time. It made me sad. I do not like to review clipped matches in general. If an actual production team does the editing, I can live with it usually, because it is usually for a time constraint or something, and that is how it was broadcast, so that is how a vast majority of people will see the match. With indy handhelds, I am often at a crossroads; were blown spots edited out? Was one guys offense edited out? I cannot really give a definite answer on that - all I know is that I am not seeing everything.
With that said, this match was pretty good from a certain point of view, and to a certain point. GALLI is a "lucha libre" promotion out of Chicago, but in addition to using wrestlers trained in the lucha style, they also use local Chicago workers. I know Hammett wrestles on other Chicago area shows, so I am not sure how "lucha" he is. What I do know is that this match wasn't as "lucha-style" as it was a cross between your typical "indy style" stuff, with a touch of imitation Japanese style (which might actually be the same thing). There were lots of flips and stuff like that, and not really a lot of throws, so in that sense it was worked in a lucha-style, but the psychology and the way they worked the crowd was not lucha at all.
In fact, in my opinion, what separates lucha from puroresu more than anything is the way the wrestlers and crowds interact. When you see a guy like Mistico go to Japan and come off flat because there is a lack of crowd reaction, that is a great example of the differences between the two styles. When you see guys from Japan come to Mexico and kinda mail it in because the crowd reacts to them just getting in the ring, that is the example going the other way. Here, what you have are two guys going out and just doing there match, and not really interacting with the crowd at all, which is very Japanese of them. Because they are not working over the crowd, they just go from move to move, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but the psycology doesnt seem in line with that.
Hammett has control for most of the match that we see, but at no point does he really pick out a body part and work it - even superficially. He is constantly hitting offense, though. Yet, after he hits his moves, he isn't playing to the crowd at all. In a way, the two combined the two parts of puroresu and lucha that do not mix well with each other.
In my experience, gringos tend to view lucha in one of two ways: they either understand it, or they think it is just a bunch of guys running around doing flips and having no psychology at all. At the same time, they tend to view everything puroresu as "strong style", aka "stiff". In reality, lucha psychology is based more on one-up-manship, while puroresu is based more on portraying a legitimate sporting contest. The two do not mix, in my opinion, when you take away the showmanship of lucha, and you take away the elements of legit sport with puroresu. What you then get are lots of hard hitting high flying spots that do not necessarily tell a story. I like to call this "US Indy faux-strong style".
To me, that is what this match was. It lacked the ring psychology of both lucha and puroresu, but yet it had elements of both.
When you read one of these reviews and you see me talk about someone having a "formula" to their matches, that is not ever necessarily a bad thing. It can be bad if the formula is never adapted to different situations, but a formula is actually important. I think what this match was lacking was a formula.
In addition, it wasn't clear cut who was the face/rudo here. Samuray appeared to be, and Hammett worked the match in the rudo role, but neither worked the crowd for support or heat. Especially when you had a group of kids constantly yelling at the ring the same thing. If you didn't catch it, every time the ref did two near falls back to back, the kids would yell out "two plus two is four". There was such easy heat there by either making fun of the kids, or arguing with the ref that even the kids could see he should have won". Instead, we got neither.
Not a fan of the finish either - it just took way too long to happen. That is often the problem with girls at ringside on the indys. The ref was just out there with her forever while shenanigans took place in the ring. Referees cannot look that dumb. Refs need to look like they blew a call and screwed up, not like they are mentally retarded. That looks fake.