Pros: Vampiro vs. Banderas; Gonzalez vs. Apolo; interesting view at Puerto Rican wrestling
Cons: Poor English-language commentary is somewhat annoying
After being started in Japan by Puerto Rican wrestling manager Victor Quinones in 1994, the International Wrestling Association's Puerto Rico faction officially moved to the island some five years later as a rival faction to the dominant Puerto Rican promotion of the World Wrestling Council. In the years since, IWA Puerto Rico has quickly gained steam by employing a younger talent base and utilizing a variety of wrestling styles in the ring. Although there's a definite presence of Lucha-Libre style (noted for its high-flying and fast-paced moves) in IWA-PR, the influence of Japanese wrestling, powerhouse and strong-style American wrestling, and even hardcore wrestling can easily be seen in IWA-Puerto Rico.
As part of their yearly wrestling schedule, IWA-Puerto Rico hosts a "Summer Attitude" event held every July that's designed to mark the halfway point of their calender. This event gives wrestling fans the climax of longstanding feuds and attempts to settle them in the ring, but also works on developing angles and storylines for the second half of the year.
Summer Attitude 2 was recorded in July 2003, and features some of the biggest stars of the promotion in the ring. There are quite a number of wrestlers here who would be instantly recognizable to the American wrestling fan, but also some very talented homegrown wrestlers as well. The program features eight matches and runs over two hours in length, so there's a decent amount of wrestling here.
Here's the match rundown:
1. Victor "The Body Guard" and Anarchy vs. Konnan and Assad - Konnan should be familiar to just about anyone who's followed the wrestling scene of the past decade, a former performer in various indy promotions as well as in WCW, TNA and the WWE. He's about the only familiar face in this opening tag match however, that puts him and the powerful Assad against the more finesse wrestler Anarchy and his partner Victor. Victor (who sadly passed away a year after this match) looks to be about the badass of this match, dominating the ring whenever he sets foot in it. This match shows off the talents of both teams, as Konnan and Assad demonstrate expert chemistry in making quick tags and manipulating the referee. Some good action and high spots make this a worthwhile, three and a half star match (out of five).
2. Mascarito Sangrada vs. El Torito - A midget match; a format that hasn't been marketable in the United States for years. Here, the more technically adept Sangrada takes on the powerful Torito in a match that (as per usual in this midget matches) is more comedy than pure wrestling. That's not to say that these guys can't wrestle; Sangrada shows off some really good technical abilities and flies about with great speed, but the match is more about entertaining that really impressing the audience. Three stars.
3. Abriela vs. Paparazzi - A "$10,000 Challenge" match has the woman wrestler Abriela taking on male wrestler Paparazzi in this match that's, again, more comedy value than athletic display. Paparazzi comes across as a total pig in the contest, slapping his opponent's rear end, copping a feel whenever possible, and generally acting overconfident. Abriela starts off with a bang in the match, but seems to quickly "blow up," or get winded. Shortly after the match starts, it's pretty much a snooze fest, with only the antics of female referee Havana livening things up. Two and a half stars.
4. Miguel Perez, Jr. and Slash Venom vs. Craven and Eric Alexander - IWA Tag Team Title match featuring two powerful teams. All four of these guys look to be in pretty top form, and deliver some punishing maneuvers, working well together to make for an exciting match. Lots of dirty tactics and referee manipulation make the contest exciting and unpredictable, and the overall development of the match is satisfying. Three and a half stars.
5. El Chicano vs. Hurricane Castillo - The younger, Konnan-styled El Chicano takes on the veteran Castillo in this "Last Man Standing" match for the IWA-PR Intercontinental Title. The belt has been suspended from a pole in the corner and the first man to take his opponent out for long enough to grab the belt is the champion. Matches featuring this gimmick are always somewhat lame since there's too many squabbles as one guy tries to snatch the belt while his opponent grabs at his legs, although Castillo and Chicano do their best to make this match exciting and worthwhile, and I'd say do a pretty good job at it. Chicano is violently assaulted post-match, resulting in some bloodshed. Overall, I'd give the match three and a half stars.
6. "The Messiah" Ricky Banderas vs. Vampiro - Two competitors who would later go on to appear in the short-lived WSX promotion as seen on MTV face off in this "Battle of the Vampires" for the IWA Hardcore Title. A pretty hard-hitting affair, in which both guys show off their penchant for delivering some stiff blows, Vampiro with numerous marital arts strikes, Banderas with some brutal aerial dives and saults. One of the better matches on the program, only somewhat undermined by a lousy and confusing finish that finds the belt changing hands twice in the course of a minute or two. Still, four stars.
7. Jeff Jarrett vs. Glamour Boy Shane - An "IWA vs NWA" match, as Jarrett from the NWA's TNA promotion shows up to try and beat IWA golden boy Shane. This match gets pretty ugly, with an appearance by former WWE star Savio Vega, use of weapons and lots of outside interference. Jarrett doesn't quite look up to his usual high standards, but still delivers a good match, as this match is pretty exciting and full of good in-ring psychology on his part. Three and a half stars.
8. Rey Gonzalez vs. Apolo - The legendary Invader acts as the guest referee in this contest, which finds Gonzalez defending the IWA Heavyweight Title against challenger Apolo. This contest is a hard-hitting affair, with the pure power of Apolo being matched up against the technical prowess of Gonzalez. Really decent match with lots of drama, outside interference that threatens the outcome of the match, and Invader making the most of his referee stint. Four stars; post match features Savio Vega again appearing to attack Invader.
The wrestling action on this disc is pretty decent; the video footage is hit or miss, with occasional glitches in the images. Somewhat (unintentionally?) amusing is the theatrical-like performances that occur post-match. Since IWA Puerto Rico apparently doesn't believe in microphones, any confrontations that occur post-match involve wild gesticulations and facial expressions.
Downright problematic on this disc is the English-language commentary, which starts up right as the opening bell for the match sounds and ends shortly after the ending bell. The commentary itself isn't so bad (provided by Jared Jacobs and Dave Prazak), but long stretches of silence exist before and after each match. There's no explanation of the post-match activity, and there's very little introduction to each match either. By comparison, the Spanish language announcing is running constantly, explaining both pre- and post-match activity. I was left wishing that the producers of this DVD had provided a subtitle track so I could follow what the (I would assume) more well-versed Puerto Rican announcers had to say about the wrestling.
Instead of featuring the original entrance themes of the wrestlers, this DVD overlays heavy metal tracks that dominate the sound mix. These songs could probably make or break the DVD for some audiences; I found them slightly irritating myself. Included as an extra on the DVD are music videos for some of these tracks.
There are a couple times when wrestlers bleed on this volume, as about would be expected in IWA Puerto Rico, where violence is pretty common and often not pretty. Overall, I'd say this program would be appropriate for most wrestling audiences.
IWA Puerto Rico's Summer Attitude 2 program features good wrestling action, but the DVD (released by Big Vision Entertainment) is somewhat disappointing in its lack of comprehensive English-language commentary. As it stands on the DVD, the English announcing doesn't really provide much insight into the matches on the program. This information would be invaluable on a wrestling program where the average fan would recognize precious few of the competitors. Fans of mainstream American wrestling would likely find this a little too "old school" and not as flashy or consistently (over)exciting as the wrestling they would be used to watching. In the end, this DVD would be a good bet for the fan looking to branch out into indy wrestling as it's one of the few places to see any display of the legendary Puerto Rican wrestling scene, but not one for the average wrestling fan.