Originally Posted by Optimus Schwab, 14th November 2001

Hello everyone. You might be wondering who I am and where I came from. Well, I've been writing this column on the LoP column board for a while and Calvin has been nice enough to give me the opportunity to write it on the main page now. I go by the name of Optimus Schwab, which is not a gimmick but merely a nickname. See, when I was little I was a Transformers nut (Optimus Prime specifically) and my last name is Schwab, so it kind of stuck. Weird, I know. Well, I guess I should explain how my column works. As I arrive on various sections I'll explain how they work. One thing I need to say though is that there isn't much of a focus on recent material in wrestling in this column. I usually have one or two sections that will reflect on a recent event in the sport, but the final two sections, and especially the last section, are the "main portion" in which I reflect on the old in order to stray from the normal negativity that runs around (trust me, I can get negative very easy. I'm not one of those "enjoy what you watch and shut up" types of people). More on that later.

Now my personal tastes in wrestling. Your tastes may indeed be different than mine and I'll take that into account. I apologize, but people do think differently and I'm just here to give my thoughts as best as possible. Now, the main reason I watch wrestling is for the matches. I know, you're probably saying, "no shit, we all do". No, I mean the matches only. I only enjoy promos when they're absolutely necessary (Austin '96, Hogan '96, etc.) and absolutely despise backstage segments and skits. I'm sorry, I don't watch wrestling to see people talk. This is why I tape your average episode of RAW, giving me the joy of the fast forward button to go to the occasional worthwhile addition of the show. Secondly, I watch everything regularly, with the exception of Lucha, MMA, and most US Indys. I have a fair knowledge of the above three, but it's just not the style I prefer. US Indys I catch much more than the other two however. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that despite what Vince McMahon will have you believe, the wrestling world does not revolve around the WWF. I'm not trying to be "cool" by watching other stuff besides the "big company", it's just the honest truth. The WWF has just become brutally bad lately and I always preferred Japan and the old WCW over the WWF. ECW was kind of stuck in the middle somewhere. I'm always looking to broaden my knowledge of different styles so I can enjoy the sport that much more. I think that will do for an introduction. Now on to that wrestling stuff.


Wrestler of the Week

Usually there would be a section before this called Weekly BS, but I don't care to elaborate on anything that happened this week so I omitted it. This section is not necessarily for the wrestler who had the best week, but just a wrestler who I feel deserves attention and credit for the performance he's been giving this year. I only started this section last week, thus I only had one wrestler ever in this section and that was Gedo. If you want to read about it, my old columns are on the LoP message board. This week I have a new wrestler:

Yuji Nagata

Yuji Nagata is probably the most consistent wrestler in the world today. I'm making that statement with a fair knowledge of most of the wrestlers active this year and from what I've seen of course. I've yet to see him have a match less than decent this year and he puts forth a lot of effort every time he's in the ring. Some of you who have never seen Puroresu (Japanese wrestling) may remember Nagata from his stay in WCW where he had a decent PPV match with Ultimo Dragon at Halloween Havoc 1997. Anyway, no one has impressed me as much as Nagata this year and there's probably no one who excites me as much when they're in the ring. His match with Keiji Mutoh from the NJPW G1 Climax this year (which he won) is an excellent match that is probably a top 5 candidate for match of the year so far and also a match I highly recommend you track down. I have yet to see some of his more recent stuff like his tag match with Akiyama v. Mutoh and Hase plus a few other matches, but I haven't heard anything bad about them. I think if you watch the stuff he's done this year, it's very easy to see why Nagata deserves recognition.


What's in Schwab's VCR?

Well, in this section I usually go to the staple of my house, the VCR (or DVD player) and see what's in them. I than proceed to deliver a review on the material. Fairly simple. My tape collection is located in the basement of my house and the VCR in my room, so I usually take a weekly trip down there on Friday to bring up 4-5 tapes. I used to let readers give me a request on the message board so if I was down in the basement and saw the tape, I'd bring it up for a future review. Anyway, here's the tapes (or DVDs) that I've already reviewed. You can read them in my old columns on the message board if you'd like:

Toryumon Comes to Japan
NJPW Super J Cup 1994
NJPW Skydiving J 1996
NJPW J Crown 1996
WCW Halloween Havoc 1997
ECW Path of Destruction (DVD)
ECW Hardcore History (DVD)
Toryumon TV block 9/22/00

Before anyone asks, Toryumon is currently my favorite promotion. My all time favorite would go to All Japan during the glory years. Anyway, last week on the message board I promised to review some recent WWF so I brought up the last 3 weeks of RAW and Smackdown plus the last PPV, No Mercy. It was a lot of shit to carry. I had to carry it up in a laundry basket. Anyway, I just fast forwarded to stuff that actually looked like a match and watched it so here you go.

Tajiri v. Billy Kidman (RAW 10/22): This was right after the PPV and I honestly don't know what was wrong with Billy. They gave this match time considering it was a bunch of lightweights (and I'm guessing the apparent fondness the bookers seem to have for Tajiri), but Billy failed to deliver in my eyes. He always seemed a step behind Tajiri who is the much better wrestler and was successful in covering some holes several times. I can't say this was very good.

Rhyno v. Kurt Angle (RAW 10/22): This is overrated. Decent long match for RAW but Kurt doesn't know where Rhyno is going with the psychology as he could have sold his mid section much better. JR is even making this big deal about Kurt being gored, yet it seems to have no effect as they go into the brainless ankle lock finish. Decent though. If working in upper card matches has done anything for Kurt, it's exposed the little flaws he has.

The Rock v. Chris Jericho (No Mercy 10/21): Stepping back in time a bit, we come to this. I found this to be the only worthy PPV match on the card as it was entertaining and good. They did a nice job with the build and the psych. The finish was totally unnecessary because they never do anything with Jericho and Stephanie, but the right guy did go over. Very good match but not the match of the year some people are calling it. The WWF has had much better match of the year candidates in Kurt/Austin from Summerslam, Benoit/Austin from the Edmonton Smackdown, and Rock/Austin from WM 17.

The Rock v. Rob Van Dam (Smackdown 10/25): This was ok. I didn't expect much because of the two involved and I didn't get much. Both are much better with better wrestlers. Forgettable match.

Edge v. Rob Van Dam (RAW 10/29): This probably could have been worlds better but it was way too slow. Bordering on decent as is.

Vince McMahon v. Shane McMahon (RAW 10/29): This is exactly the reason why the WWF is becoming so bad lately. The Wrestlemania match was bad enough, but this one isn't even saved by the storytelling because it had none. People don't watch to see the McMahons wrestle, especially when the match served NO purpose at all. They watch to see your workers wrestle. Don't they have Chavo and Lance lurking somewhere and they can give this time? I'm confused.

Kane v. Kurt Angle (Smackdown 11/1): Good match. I'm impressed. Kane is limited but he sure didn't look like it here. Very nice selling and I'm impressed they carried it to the end with the right finish of the monster having to finally tap. After all, beasts have weaknesses too, don't they? You won't see any complaints from me on this one.

Edge v. Rob Van Dam (Smackdown 11/1): See the RAW match about 2 paragraphs up, rinse, repeat. I thought this was slightly better though. Still not decent though.

Undertaker v. Steve Austin (Smackdown 11/1): It's pathetic at how one sided this is. Austin is probably doing the selling for both guys as he sells some of Taker's shots like he just got shot. God, it's pretty bad when not even Austin can pin Taker cleanly (that run in was bluntly obvious by the way).

Edge v. Test (RAW 11/5): This was bordering decent. Edge is improving and Test isn't. This match showed it. Next.

Undertaker v. Kurt Angle (RAW 11/5): Holy shit! Taker sold from start to finish. Well, almost finish. Rather than tap, he found it necessary to kill Kurt's finisher's credibility by getting out of it after being in it for 3 minutes and reversing into his own shitty variation, seemingly rubbing off all bodily harm the move may have done before going to yet another screwy finish while his "brother" taped to it 4 days earlier. Wow, that was a run on sentence, no? Anyway, this was decent thanks to the surprising presence of psych, but once again Taker can't take it home and finish the job (pun intended).

Rob Van Dam v. Booker T (RAW 11/5): I'd rather slam my nuts in a car door than watch this again.

Chris Jericho v. The Rock (RAW 11/5): Yet another problem to add the mountain the WWF already has. That finish was so out of the blue it wasn't even funny. The match wasn't half bad though so I won't complain about that portion. I'm just wondering why Rock needs that belt when A) He doesn't really need a push and B) I think the fans have stopped giving a shit about him due to the resurgence of the "Rocky Sucks" chants.

I didn't tape Smackdown on Thursday and I don't remember/care enough to comment on it so we'll skip to last night's RAW.

Kurt Angle v. Edge (RAW 11/12): This was decent but it just kind of went BLAH by the end for some odd reason.

Rob Van Dam v. Undertaker (RAW 11/12): And the everlasting question rises up. Can Taker squash two guys at once? Nope, even that is too great a task for he as RVD actually goes over, not cleanly of course though. That might make him draw money for the company since he is probably a huge draw in hibernation right now. Match sucked. All weak brawling with a highspot thrown in because it's Rob.

Hate to sound negative, but the WWF is really falling into the toilet right now. I obviously skipped a few matches because one can only watch objectively for so long when there's 8 tag title changes and numerous Big Show matches going on. Granted RAW actually produced a few good matches and a really good one at No Mercy, but they never capitalize on any of them. I know you're probably saying, "Wow, another columnist bashing the WWF." I honestly want to see them back on top but it pains me to say that the opinion of the WWF sucking is slowly crossing over into factual territory. Clearly you can watch some of the good matches listed above if you taped RAW or Smackdown and I recommend those, but the product as a whole is suffering. More matches like Kurt/Kane and Jericho/Rock should be running around. Putting the right guy over has unfortunately become the least of their problems right now as they have that whole McMahons main eventing thing and numerous face/heel/face/heel/etc. turns. When you can't decide HOW MANY guys are gonna turn at a show and you know at least 2 turns will happen, you're overbooking just a bit, and they did it to themselves. I can say that the wrestling is slowly improving though, especially Taker's effort during the Kurt Angle RAW match.


The Optimus Files

This is my main section of the column aka the happy part, enjoying how good wrestling can get, looking at the positive, etc. Every week I induct about 1-4 matches into what I like to call the Optimus Files. It's simply a list of matches I think everyone should track down to see good/great/classic wrestling. Not every match is a classic, but I obviously won't induct shitty and/or decent matches. Only the good gets in here. You can request if you'd like to see a match on here that you'd think people need to see, but unfortunately my tastes is the final criteria the match has to meet. If I don't like it, it's not getting in. So no matter how hard some of you try, you'll never see Sandman v. Sabu in their Stairway to Hell match here. I'll also be reluctant to induct matches I found overrated like TLC 15 or whatever number they went to. One at No Mercy '99 was enough because none of the matches build on each other. Actually, one did have a bit of continuity if memory serves me correctly as Jeff hit the ladder bump in one and missed it in another. Oops, I'm rambling. Anyway, there's already 18 matches in the Files and they are as follows (in NO specific order. I induct at random.):

Match #1: Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Eddy Guerreo for the Cruiserweight Title- WCW Halloween Havoc 10/26/97
Match #2: Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan v. The Nasty Boys: WCW Slamboree 5/23/94
Match #3: Jushin Thunder Liger v. Brian Pillman: WCW Superbrawl 2/29/92
Match #4: Psychosis v. Rey Mysterio Jr.- WCW Bash at the Beach 7/7/96
Match #5: Gran Hamada, The Great Sasuke, and Masato Yakushiji v. Men's Teioh, Dick Togo, and TAKA Michinoku- ECW Barely Legal 4/13/97
Match #6: Bret Hart v. Steve Austin- WWF Survivor Series 11/17/96
Match #7: Kenta Kobashi v. Mitsuharu Misawa- AJPW 1/20/97
Match #8: Ultimo Dragon v. Shinjiro Ohtani- NJPW J Crown Tournament 8/4/96
Match #9: Mitsuharu Misawa and Jun Akiyama v. Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue- AJPW Real World Tag League 12/6/96
Match #10: Vader v. Antonio Inoki- NJPW 1/4/96
Match #11: Cactus Jack v. Sting- WCW Beach Blast 6/20/92
Match #12: Cactus Jack v. Vader- WCW Saturday Night 4/17/93
Match #13: Cactus Jack v. Vader- WCW Saturday Night 4/24/93
Match #14: Cactus Jack v. Vader- WCW Halloween Havoc 10/24/93
Match #15: El Samurai v. Shinjiro Ohtani- NJPW Top of Super Juniors 6/3/97
Match #16: El Samurai v. Shinjiro Ohtani- NJPW 1/21/96
Match #17: El Samurai v. Koji Kanemoto- NJPW Top of Super Juniors 6/5/97
Match #18: Wild Pegasus v. El Samurai- NJPW Top of Super Juniors 6/15/93

As you can probably tell, matches 11-14 was Mick Foley day and 15-18 was El Samurai day. I'll do themed shit like that sometimes. Anyway, one more piece of criteria I thought I'd add to the Files and that is I have to have seen the match (and usually have a copy of it to look back on). I know that sounds obvious, but I thought I'd state it anyway. And of course, all thoughts on matches already inducted are available on your friendly LoP message board in my old columns. Ok, enough of that. I figured I'd just throw out two relatively famous matches today.

Match #19: Jushin Thunder Liger v. The Great Sasuke- NJPW Super J Cup 4/16/94
People who know me know I'm a Liger mark. Hey, in my eyes he's one of the 5 best ever. Anyway, this match is probably a perfect Junior match if not for Sasuke's blown spot. Hell, the spot looks like it's part of the match. Before I read otherwise, I myself thought it belonged there thanks to Liger's absolutely brilliant cover job. Some of the submissions Liger had Sasuke in put me in pain just watching and the match has edge of you seat excitement with both guys playing their roles to the maximum, both telling a great story, a shitload of near falls, a hot crowd, and great build. What more could you want in this type of match? Oh wait, I know, the final match on the same show. Oh well, so the finals is a better match. This one still rocks. Watch it. It's a great way to start with the Juniors and see that "typical match".

Match #20: Toshiaki Kawada v. Mitsuharu Misawa- AJPW 1/22/99
See, whenever I tell my friends I watch Puroresu, the one question I always get is, "What the fuck is this Ganso Bomb and when did it happen?" Here's your match with the move that's only been done once ever. The match is probably one of the weaker Kawada/Misawa matches but it stands out for two reasons. The Ganso bomb is one, Kawada working with a broken arm for a majority of the match is the other. It's just an amazing effort on his part as most matches would immediately be stopped, or if Sabu was in it he'd drag it to shit by trying to hit some contrived spot with an injury. Anyway, the Ganso bomb was as follows. Kawada attempts to powerbomb Misawa, Misawa attempts a rana reversal, Kawada stops that, but instead of pulling him up for another powerbomb, he drops him directly on his head at full force. Yes, that's a blown spot. It's one of the most disturbing bumps you'll ever see and words can't really do it justice. The match is also very good, but it fails to live up to that Misawa/Kawada level and understandably so. Not many can have a great match with a broken arm like Kawada did, and this match allowed them to tease the Ganso bomb in a future match, thus furthering the psych in these matches if that's possible. This stuff is deep enough as it is. Anyway, once you gain the AJPW "taste" or get used to it, I can recommend this match.

Well, that completes my first column. Thanks for reading (if you did read the whole thing of course. Sorry if I ramble sometimes). I hope you enjoyed this little column and all of your feedback, requests, comments, etc. can be directed to OptimusSchwab@lordsofpain.net. I'll be here every Wednesday. Peace.