The Independent Mid-Card 08.28.07: CIMA vs. MDogg 20
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of The Independent Mid-Card. Last week was our back-to-school edition, but this week we return to more topical wrestling content, as we help to get the momentum going for this weekend’s 2007 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Having become one of the marquee Independent events over the last two years, the BOLA is a 24-man tournament, with the goal of establishing a key player in PWG for the coming year. The two former winners are the recently-retired “Photogenic” Chris Bosh and Davey Richards, but this week we’re going to be looking at one of last year’s finalists in his first round match. It’s a trip out west this week in a BOLA Preview edition of the IMC.
CIMA vs. MDogg 20
Tournament – First Round Match
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla – Battle of Los Angeles: Night One – Reseda, CA – September 1, 2006
CIMA – A graduate of the first class of the Toryumon Dojo, CIMA is a disciple of the Ultimo Dragon. After the Dragon Gate promotion split from Toryumon in 2004, CIMA would go on to become one of that promotion’s biggest stars. As a result, CIMA has been brought to the United States on a number of occasions as an honored guest for Independent promotions like Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Included on his resume are a variety of title reigns in both Toryumon and Dragon Gate as well as a five-star match as judged by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (a six-man tag team match from Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor event). Participation in the Battle of Los Angeles Tournament marks CIMA’s debut for PWG.
MDogg 20 – Also wrestling under the name Matt Cross, MDogg 20 actually began his career as a backyard wrestler. Developing a high-flying arsenal that is second-to-none, Cross has made a name for himself on the American Independent scene with his near-Olympic class gymnastic abilities. At the time of this match, Cross had appeared sporadically for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, but had yet to make his debut in Ring of Honor. He had clearly ended up with a difficult draw in the BOLA Tournament, being forced to face off with an International star like CIMA in the first round.
MDogg 20 is introduced first, weighing in at 177 pounds, which almost seems a little big to me. He gets some solid applause, but nothing like the ovation received by CIMA, who for the record hails from Osaka, Japan and weighs 181 pounds. To further my point, it just seems like there’s no way that Mdogg weights only four pounds less than CIMA does. CIMA even gets a mild streamer treatment from the West Coast crowd, a testament to his reputation. CIMA is checked by the referee who then takes a moment to clear the streamers from the ring. Both men indicate that they’re ready so the bell rings to start things off.
Both men do an extended circling sequence with the crowd clapping for them. They move in but are still both hesitant to lockup, choosing instead to duck into and out of wristlocks and lockups. Finally they grab a single knucklelock, but CIMA breaks and goes after the leg. He hops on top of Cross with a single-leg takedown for a one count and then grabs a front facelock on the kickout. Mdogg transitions into one of his own and holds it on the mat. CIMA gets to his feet and elbows out into a wristlock and then a hammerlock. Mdogg ducks under and grabs a hammerlock of his own, but CIMA counters to a headlock and takes him down to the mat from that position. Mdogg gets a headscissors, but CIMA nips up right out of it and we have a standoff. The fans politely applaud the entire opening sequence.
The two men begin to circle again, still taking their time and being incredibly hesitant to lockup. Finally they two tie up in the middle of the ring and CIMA almost immediately grabs a headlock. CIMA holds on tenaciously and the referee actually asks Mdogg if he wants to give it up. Cross works his way to his feet and begins to elbow out before sending CIMA off the ropes to break. They go into a very crisp extended leapfrog sequence that ends with Mdogg hitting a flipping dropkick that sends CIMA rolling out to ringside. Cross gets the crowd all riled up and then follows up with a pendulum dropkick that sees him hold onto the top rope and fake a swing to the outside before holding on to hit CIMA on the rebound.
Mdogg wanders around the ring for a bit before hopping to ringside and continuing the assault. He brings CIMA to his feet and then hits him with a clubbing forearm to the back. He then jaws with the crowd for a bit before hitting a second clubbing forearm and rolling CIMA back into the ring. Back inside, Mdogg goes for an immediate cover, but it only gets a two count. Cross snapmares CIMA down to the mat and then comes off the ropes with a rolling senton and then an immediate jumping senton and again covers for two. A fan starts to get on Mdogg, telling him to hit CIMA in the face, so Cross pushes CIMA over to the ropes and hits a straight right to the face, drawing a solid reaction. A few crowd members even chant “one more time!” in response. Cross follows up by hitting a snap suplex and covering for another two count. Mdogg hits a couple of kicks to the chest as CIMA is recovering, but a third attempt is caught and CIMA spins Mdogg around before dumping him to the mat and hitting a jumping double-stomp to the chest. CIMA falls to his knees near the ropes and is unable to immediately cover.
CIMA stands over the face-down Mdogg and hits him with a neck twist. CIMA follows up with a light jumping double-stomp to the face and an elbowdrop for two. CIMA then begins to work on Cross’ leg with a standing reverse anklelock leading to a modified dragon screw into the mat. Mdogg tries to crawl away on the mat, but CIMA smells the blood in the water and stomps away at the knee. He puts Cross’ leg on the rope and does a jumping drop onto it. CIMA then pulls Mdogg to the middle of the ring and locks in a complicated submission hold that’s a combination inverted figure-four leglock and butterfly chokehold. CIMA even rolls over so Cross is being held almost completely suspended in the air. CIMA releases of his own accord for whatever reason and jaws with the referee for more than a few moments, bizarrely giving Mdogg a chance to recover. CIMA walks over and hits a stomp to the knee before picking Mdogg up and whipping him off the ropes, pressing him into a sitout facebuster (think X-Pac’s X-Factor) on the rebound for two.
CIMA locks in a full nelson on the mat and looks for the submission. Mdogg struggles to his feet, but ends up getting placed bent-over in the corner with CIMA then hitting a running basement dropkick to Cross’ ass, sending his neck right into the second turnbuckle. CIMA hits a pair of stomps in the corner and then pulls Cross out with a sitout powerbomb for two. CIMA goes for another move pulling Mdogg out of the corner, but this time Cross avoids it with his awesome backflip counter, landing on his feet and somersaulting under the ensuing clothesline attempt. Cross comes running at CIMA in the corner, but CIMA slingshots him out to the apron. However, Mdogg is able to hit a forearm shot that dazes CIMA and follow up with a springboard missile dropkick. CIMA rolls out into the entrance way, so Cross fires up the crowd again and this time follows him out with a Space Flying Tiger Drop, easily one of the most spectacular moves in all of wrestling. Cross is even able to land on his feet on the move. Mdogg then snapmares CIMA on the floor and pops up to the apron before coming down with a flagpole splash from the ringpost in another remarkable display. That may be unnecessarily flashy, but it’s still undeniably impressive. Mdogg then picks up CIMA and rolls him back into the ring.
Back inside, CIMA clutches at his knee, but Cross ignores it and picks him up for a clubbing forearm to the back. CIMA reverses a whip off the ropes, but Cross ducks a clothesline attempt. Cross lands on his feet on a flying headscissors attempt on the rebound, only to have CIMA hit his cool throw that amounts to a reverse backdrop suplex. CIMA comes running with a double-kneestrike into the corner and then follows up with what I believe is a Perfect Driver (cross-legged Falcon’s Arrow) for a close two count. The crowd loudly chants for CIMA, who picks Cross up and goes for another Perfect Driver. Mdogg knees out of it, however and picks CIMA up in a fireman’s carry before dumping him with an over-the-knee neckbreaker. CIMA stumbles into the corner, so Cross comes running with a jumping clothesline that sees him land on the apron, and he follows up with a springboard double-stomp to the back for two. Cross, clearly frustrated, pounds the mat to get the crowd back into things and then climbs to the top. CIMA, who had been playing possum, nips up and strikes at Mdogg on the top turnbuckle. Mdogg is able to block a superplex by pushing CIMA off, but CIMA just comes rolling in with Venus (leaping palm strike) to bring Mdogg back to earth. CIMA misses a splash in the corner when Cross hops out to the apron, but is able to counter a springboard hurricanrana into the Schwein (running over-the-shoulder belly-to-back piledriver) which is enough for the win at 11:53. CIMA is announced as the winner to a nice reaction as we cut out.
Both men looked solid in the ring here, putting on a mostly crisp, clean match that had enough high spots to keep the crowd involved while not going overboard without reason. Cross had enough opportunities to work in his visually impressive offense, including the Space Flying Tiger Drop, the pendulum dropkick, and the flagpole splash, while CIMA was able to showcase some of his trademark maneuvers. Smartly, CIMA didn’t empty his bag in this match, as he kept some of his finishing spots on hold for the rest of the tournament. For example, why show off a flying double-stomp or the Iconoclasm if the match could be put away with the Schwein (a move most of the competitors would have had scouted anyway)?
On the other hand, the match had less flow than is preferable from two professionals like CIMA and Mdogg. That’s not to say that the action wasn’t exciting, just that the selling was spotty and there was little psychology leading to the finish. Early on, CIMA worked the knee, which was a great strategy against a high-flyer like Mdogg. Then bizarrely, after working the knee effectively for a couple of minutes, CIMA just gave up on that strategy and just started hitting high-impact moves instead. It’s not that CIMA’s hard hitting offense wasn’t going to get the job done, it’s that it seemed silly for him to give up on an excellent strategy for merely a pretty good one. Cross, himself no angel in this area, also didn’t focus on CIMA’s apparent knee injury after the flagpole splash at ringside. Had he had more of a focused strategy throughout the match, one would have to assume that better results might have ensued. As it was, neither man was able to keep a consistent focus on offense, choosing rather to hit spots than string together coherent attacks.
MDogg 20 would continue to occasionally appear for PWG throughout the rest of 2006, but would not return in 2007. Along the way, he would make his long-awaited debut for Ring of Honor, quickly capturing the fans’ imagination with his unique offensive style. Over in that promotion, he would work as a lone wolf for his first several months, but eventually would hook up with Austin Aries’ Resilience faction. In that vein, he has had a mix of success and failure, but recent shows indicate that the Resilience may be ready to take the next step, leading some to believe that big things may be in the future for Cross, Aries and their stablemate Erick Stevens.
CIMA would make it all the way to the finals of the 2006 BOLA Tournament before falling to Davey Richards. Along the way he was able to defeat both Kevin Steen and El Generico (in what is widely regarded as the best match of the tournament) in addition to MDogg 20. CIMA continues to wrestle for his home promotion Dragon Gate (currently holding the company’s Open the Dream Gate Title, its top singles championship), and has additionally continued to appear for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla during his many trips to the United States. Though he has also wrestled for Ring of Honor during these trips, he has never earned a shot at an ROH singles championship, a feat he did accomplish in PWG. Though CIMA was unable to wrest the PWG World Title from El Generico when the two fought (coincidentally in a BOLA rematch) in May of 2007, the message was clear that CIMA would have to be taken seriously as a singles threat on the U.S. Independent scene. He will return to PWG this coming weekend, facing off with the Human Tornado in the first round of the 2007 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament.
The Final Word:
Well it’s BOLA week, and as a fan of Independent wrestling, I couldn’t be more excited. The yearly Battle of Los Angeles Tournament has really helped to put PWG on the map nationally, establishing the promotion as more than a simple regional group, and elevating it far closer to the ‘Super Indy’ status enjoyed by Ring of Honor. I was going to do my BOLA predictions here, but as it turns out there will be a first-ever PWG Roundtable later this week to preview the event, so I’ll reserve my comments until then.
To check out this week’s match, you can purchase Battle of Los Angeles: Night One at prowrestlingguerrilla.com. Elsewhere on the show are fun first-round contests between Colt Cabana and Chris Sabin as well as Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero. There’s also a big 8-Man Tag Team Match featuring some of PWG’s best. Night One is probably the weakest of the three events overall, but is certainly an important part of any Independent wrestling fan’s collection.
While you’re here at 411mania, be sure to check out our other great columns. Ari’s got Part I and Part II of Column of Honor and Bayani’s got Truth B Told. There’s last week’s ROH Roundtable which is good for mocking my predictions after the fact. Buy or Sell has more discussion of ROH’s weekend of East Coast action, and features Ari taking on Brad Garoon. Also, be sure to read Mike Campbell’s review of ROH Epic Encounter and Magnus’ look at CHIKARA’s Speaking In Tongues show.
For those interested in more BOLA coverage, please be sure to check out Bayani’s new Truth B Told later this week (I know he’s got a special preview planned) as well as Friday’s edition of Buy or Sell, which will exclusively deal with all things PWG. And of course the upcoming FIRST-EVER Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Roundtable Preview!
With all of that out of the way, I’m actually going to go back to sleep, seeing as how I bartended for 16 straight hours yesterday and have to be back on the job tonight. Next week we’ll probably look at a match featuring the 2007 BOLA Champion, but then again, if someone I don’t like wins the tournament, then we might just go in another direction altogether out of spite. I’m shifty that way. Have a good week people, and be sure to check back with 411mania for continuing BOLA coverage.