SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
THE PULL LIST (VOL. 12)
By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist
”The Pull List” is a feature column that will take a look at a mix of the most noteworthy topics in wrestling, comics, books, Movies & TV Blu-Ray releases, and video games along with reviews and commentary in each category.
2016 MOTY TOP 10 LIST
This is a running list of the top 10 matches of 2016 ranked at ****1/2 or higher. This list is based on what I’ve seen so far and I will be updating the list as I catch up on my wrestling viewing for this year. I will eventually make a separate post of my entire 2016 MOTY list and keep it updated regularly. I will also update the top 10 list in this column.
2016 MOTYC TOP TEN
(1) Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito, “G1 Climax 26: Night 18,” Aug. 13, 2016, (*****)
(2) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW, “G1 Climax 26: Night 13,” Aug. 6, 2016. (*****)
(3) IWGP IC Champion & CMLL Liga Elite World Champion Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega, NJPW, G1 Climax 26: Night 8, July 30, 2016. (*****)
(4) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn, NXT, “NXT Takeover: Dallas,” April 1, 2016. (*****)
(5) IWGP Hvt. Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, NJPW, “Wrestle Kingdom 10,” Jan. 4, 2016. (*****)
(6) Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr., EVOLVE, “EVOLVE 58,” April 1, 2016. (*****)
(7) Kenny Omega vs. Hirooki Goto, “G1 Climax 26: Night 19, Aug. 14,” 2016. (****3/4)
(8) IWGP Hvt. Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, “G1 Climax 26: Night 17,” Aug. 12, 2016. (****3/4)
(9) IWGP IC Champion & CMLL Lige Elite World Champion Michael Elgin vs. Katsuhika Nakajima, “G1 Climax 26: Night 18,” Aug. 13, 2016. (****3/4)
(10) Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet in a Block B 2016 BOSJ XII match, NJPW, “BOSJ XIII: Day 6,” May 27, 2016. (****3/4)
NEW WRESTLING MEDIA REVIEW SPOTLIGHT
RADICAN’S REVIEW SERIES
“FUTURE OF FLIGHT: RICOCHET”
RELEASED BY HIGHSPOTS.COM
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
“Future of Flight: Ricochet” is a new interview from Highspots that was filmed earlier this summer. The interview is conducted by Highspots owner Michael Bochicchio. He covers his entire career discussing everything from IWA-MS through his current role as Prince Puma in Lucha Underground during this three hour interview and also gives an update on his current contract status and his plans through the rest of this year.
The early part of the interview focuses on Ricochet’s time in IWA-MS where he learned so much from wrestlers like Chris Hero, Trik Davis, and others. A lot of Highspots interview utilize footage that the company has access too, but the only footage used during this interview is from a match in IWA-MS between a very young and skinny Ricochet vs. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins). It was so great to see Ricochet see this match and react to it given where these two wrestlers are in their career, as Highspots went to a picture-in-picture shot of Ricochet watching and discussing the match. Ricochet believes it was his second match in IWA-MS.
Ricochet then discusses his time in CHIKARA. The part that fascinated me was listening to Ricochet discuss how he learned lucha libre from Mike Quackenbush by getting into the ring with him before shows. Ricochet talks about how the time came for him to work for EVOLVE and he eventually got away from working for CHIKARA and CZW during that time because it was hard for him to work for Quackenbush, D.J. Hyde (CZW), and Gabe Sapolsky (DGUSA/EVOLVE) at the same time.
During this interview, it is clear that Ricochet really admires Chuck Taylor, who is also from Kentucky and got Ricochet into CHIKARA and later EVOLVE. Taylor is someone that is immensely talented, but seems to have short-changed himself too often on the Indies by leaning too much on comedy even though he has the talent to make it anywhere. Having talked to several of Taylor’s contemporaries, it’s clear that Taylor has their respect and they hope he gets a big spot in a big company. It’s touching to listen to Ricochet talk about how he hopes Taylor makes it in wrestling to close the interview.
Before breaking into EVOLVE, Ricochet didn’t have any major goals in wrestling. During the early part of his career, Ricochet just drove around with Chuck Taylor while holding a steady full-time job. It is remarkable to think about Ricochet has done since he first began wrestling in EVOLVE in 2009. Ricochet admits during the interview that he didn’t have any goals in wrestling and he didn’t even know Gabe Sapolsky booked ROH until he began working in EVOLVE. “I just knew about WWE at the time and I kind of knew about ECW,” said Ricochet of his knowledge of wrestling before meeting Taylor, who introduced him to a variety of different styles.
Ricochet got more serious about wrestling and he mentioned that it didn’t take long for CIMA to show interest in him. Ricochet quit his full time job and went for a tour of Dragon Gate and ended up staying there long-term after originally thinking he was only going over there for one tour. It’s fascinating to listen to Ricochet talk about how the Dragon Gate wrestlers practice their matches and timing over and over to make things perfect. It only makes sense given what those guys can pull off at a break neck pace inside the ring. Ricochet eventually began getting noticed by NJPW and he talks about the differences working between NJPW and Dragon Gate. Ricochet noted the audiences are different given that Dragon Gate caters to young women with a crew of mostly good looking wrestlers.
He also notes that he got into Dragon Gate when they were on the rise. It is very interesting to hear Ricochet discuss how Dragon Gate and NJPW don’t consider each other competition given how territorial the wrestling scene is in North America. Ricochet says the main difference between working the juniors division in NJPW and working in Dragon Gate is just the pace is much faster in Dragon Gate with lucha rules while a lot of the Jr. tag matches in NJPW are based around making the hot tag and then picking up the pace.
A conversation with PAC (Neville) in Dragon Gate really helped Ricochet because he realized he hadn’t been taking wrestling as seriously as he thought. Ricochet has really gotten better and better during the last few years. He’s one of the most amazing performers to watch in the world and he’s gotten himself in to amazing shape. After talking to PAC, Ricochet says he began to study more tape and learn how to get better. He says once he did that, he noticed a difference in his in-ring work.
The last hour of the interview is reveals the most interesting information. Ricochet has had one heck of a schedule over the last 7-8 months between filming for Lucha Underground and touring regularly in Japan. Ricochet reveals that he’s really looking just to slow down when discussing how he had just recently finished filming Lucha Underground season 3 when this interview took place in July. The grind on the road is hard for a wrestling, especially one in Ricochet’s position. He’s played Prince Puma in Lucha Underground for three seasons now and during that time his career has really blown up. Not only has he gained valuable experience and exposure working in Lucha Underground, but his work in NJPW has made a lot of waves as well to where he’s considered one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Ricochet, who has a young son, reveals that he has opted out of his Lucha Underground contract and is only going to do limited dates through December of this year. Ricochet calls himself a free agent during the interview, but he can’t sign with another company until after season 3 of Lucha Underground has finished airing, which should be in early 2017.
Ricochet seems very level-headed about his wrestling career. I was shocked to hear him discuss how he would be willing to start at the bottom if he had to if he signed with WWE. Ricochet mentioned wanting to take full advantage of what the WWE Performance Center has to offer if he’s signed. I feel like that would be almost criminal, as Ricochet is a special talent that should go right to TV if singed. Ricochet comes off as extremely humble during the interview, so his attitude should only help him going forward. He’s better than he realizes.
Overall Thoughts: (9.0) – This is a tremendous long-form shoot interview with one of the best all-around wrestlers in the world. I put Ricochet right up there with A.J. Styles and Kenny Omega as the best in-ring performers in wrestling in 2015. Ricochet is open and honest during this interview and gives tons of insight into his entire wrestling career.
It was interesting to hear him talk about how he has more goals that he wants to accomplish before signing with WWE, which makes it seem plausible that he won’t report sign with WWE once his Lucha Underground exclusive period ends. One thing I’d like to see is Ricochet go into the heavyweight in NJPW and go through a G1. I think he’d really increase his value having a really good run as a top singles guy in NJPW, but no matter what happens, the odds are that he will be a big star in WWE before his careers is over.
You can purchase “Ricochet The Future of Flight” on DVD by clicking HERE or by visiting Highspots.com. You can also purchase this release on MP4 at Highspots.com, on VOD at DIYWrestling.com, or watch it with your monthly subscription at HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork.com.
You can also watch Highspots titles from The Kevin Steen Show, Best Friends, CZW, PWG, and more at HighspotsWrestlingNetwork.com subscription service, which is now available on Roku. Highspots has really ramped up their offerings on the Highspots Wrestling Network in recent months.
Right now for just $9.99 per month, you can access the HSWN and watch new releases like King of Flight: Ricochet The Funks, Best Friends w/ECIII, Hard Lefts with Teddy Hart, and I’m With Spud….Grado. In addition, you can watch the recent Northeast Wrestling show featuring Cody Rhodes.
NEW MOVIE BLU-RAY RELEASE
Hard Target 2
Baylor ends up killing his friend, Johnny, in a major MMA fight in Vegas accidentally and goes into a deep depression while earning money by winning underground fights.
The film reminded me very much of the films I grew up watching starring Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, and Jean Claude Van Damme. Adkins, who has had guest roles in major movies such as “Ninja,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “The Expendables 2” really shines in this role. He’s someone that has the presence to bring this genre back and he’s starred in several other martial arts action movies that didn’t make it to the big screen.
This is a sequel to “Hard Target” from 1993, which starred Van Damme and was directed by John Woo. The movie pays tribute to the original in many ways. There’s a chase through the streets that opens the movie that’s very similar to a scene in “Hard Target.” The movie also used Woo’s signature white dove imagery for many of Adkins’s scenes.
The opening MMA fight scene is really cool and look like a credible big-time MMA fight brought to the big screen. Baylor, who is down on his luck, ends up encountering Jonah Aldridge played by Robert Knepper, who is best known from “Prison Break.” Aldridge offers Baylor a fight for a million dollars and he agrees to it. They take a helicopter to Myanmar in Thailand and things quickly go south for Baylor, as he finds out he’s going to be the target of a human hunt. Baylor is only given water and a sack of rubies, which he will get to keep if he makes it to the border.
Baylor is hunted by characters like a game designer, a man from Texas and his son, a bull fighter, and a mysterious woman named Sofia. Aldridge and his partner Madden lead the hunt. They give Baylor a small head start and off he goes into the jungle.
Despite the hunters having an advantage after burying a GPS chip in the bag of rubies as well as drones that Aldridge uses to track Baylor, Baylor manages to turn the tables on the hunters. There are some incredible fight scenes during the movie that were shot beautifully. The
The film is shot beautifully for a low budget movie and director Roel Rene deserves a ton of credit for making this film look as good as it does. Almost the entire film was shot in the jungle in Thailand and it makes for a beautiful backdrop to the action. There’s a beautiful scene early in the movie when Baylor runs into a pack of elephants on a river that really captures what Rene is capable of as a director.
Great fights and explosive actions scenes fill this movie. Many of the direct to home release movies I’ve seen aren’t that good, but this movie truly surprised me, as it had a solid script that made Baylor a sympathetic character and a fantastic cast of villains surrounding him lead by Aldridge, who becomes more and more dislikable as the film goes on. The build to the climactic scene between Aldridge and Baylor had me at the edge of my seat.
The bonus features on this release are top notch. There’s a great look at the making of the film, which will give viewers great insight into how Rene put together a movie that looked this good on a low budget. The extras also features feature length commentary from Rene and a host of others including Adkins and Knepper. It was a blast to watch the two extra fight scenes and all of the behind scenes stuff in the extras before watching the film again with the feature commentary.
Overall Thoughts: (8.0) – One of the genres missing from mainstream movies these days is martial arts action films. Adkins makes for a great hero in this movie and I’m looking forward to checking out some of his other starring roles in martial arts actions movies. I was impressed by his performance as the leading hero in this movie.
The big martial arts fights scenes and action shots are paced well and this movie goes by quickly while building to a fantastic climactic scene. I highly recommend checking this film out if you’re a fan of mixed marital arts and/or martial arts action movies.
You can purchase the “Hard Target 2” on Blu-ray, DVD, & Digital HD combo pack at most retail outlets and Amazon.com.
Also, you can listen to Radican’s exclusive interview with Scott Adkins from the most-recent Radican’s Audio Community VIP Audio feature.
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Email Sean at PWTorchSean@Gmail.com.