STAY FRESH: DANIEL GARCIA

Credit: PWMania

The term interpolation has been in the news as of late, in part to Olivia Rodrigo and her team. The idea is that you sample a melody or portions of a melody, from a previously recorded song but re-record the melody instead of sampling it. While doing a spotlight piece isn’t a brand new idea, STAY FRESH is. Basically what I’m getting at is STAY FRESH is the “good 4 u” of blog posting. 

Last time I wrote about how Pote Baby was a rapper to watch. He was under 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, had some mild mainstream success with his first single but he wasn’t a name casual rap fans knew. Most of my friends hadn’t heard of Pote Baby when I told them I was writing about him. You could say Daniel Garcia is the opposite. 

He has been in wrestling since 2017, so he is still relatively new in the business. Four years into the business is nothing. Think about it like he was a baby. Most four year olds can’t form full sentences. This one is keeping up bar for bar with Twista’s verse on Slow Jamz. 

Unlike Pote Baby, Garcia isn’t exactly considered underground. Some may say he’s the fastest rising star in wrestling. He has wrestled CM Punk and Jon Moxley on national television in the last six months. The Daniel Garcia train just pulled into the station and I’m just making sure we are all getting comfy seats because we’ve got a hell of a career to enjoy. 

This man’s October consisted of wrestling, Christopher Daniels, Davey Richards, Minoru Suzuki, Alex Shelly and CM Punk. He worked a best of Ring of Honor tape, while most dudes four years in are working As Seen on TV Doink and Tito Santana.

This isn’t a “he worked a name” so it had to be a good match. He’s been putting on great matches with guys like JD Drake, Lee Moriarity, Anthony Greene & Masha Slamovich. He made the most out of his last year and rightfully so.

Garcia was in a wild car accident that almost took his life back in 2019. When he and fellow Buffalo wrestlers, Kevin Bennett, Puf and Kevin Blackwood, lost control on black ice and their car violently split into half after smashing into a guardrail.

Garcia is on record saying the rail was just a couple inches away from ending him. If the mental exhaustion of nearly dying wasn’t enough for him. Garcia walked away with a broken right femur, his fibula and tibia in his left shin and ankle. The scars from the injuries and operations still linger on his skin, I assume the constant reminder of just how short life truly is remains firm in his mind. 

That sort of motivation is what has helped Garcia become one of the fastest rising technical wrestlers out there. His name gets thrown out there with the likes of Bryan Danielson’s and Jonathan Gresham’s of the world. That isn’t something just anyone can say. 

Set to make his PWG debut against the aforementioned Gresham at the end of November. I would like to think that match checks off a few boxes for Garcia. There is no denying this has been a star making year for the young Buffalo native. With two months left in 2021 he looks to have an even bigger 2022. There is no time like the present to go ALL IN on Daniel Garcia.

STAY FRESH: POTE BABY

Pote Baby

Thursday Night Football has a funny way of kicking your ass. The week is almost over, work has done a number on you and more often than not the football just isn’t great.

With no dog in the fight I tapped out of the Bengals vs Jaguars Thursday night game pretty early. Made my way to my room and sat down in front of my computer. I started to peruse the internet, on the hunt for some new music to fill my dusty ass playlist. 

Made my way to the Pigeons and Planes YouTube page. I felt stuck. I was starting a song, hating it after a minute, clicking the next song…rinse and repeat. Nothing was catching me. That was until I heard the opening portion of “YAMS!”. It had a similar sound to the intro of my podcast and that was all I needed to stick around. 

Pote Baby dropped the video in April of this year, but it took almost 7 months for me to hear the Savannah, GA, rapper’s follow up single. I did two things after my first listen: clicked ‘play’ again, and I started to do a deep dive on him. I needed more!

The name sounded familiar to me, but I have a funny way of convincing myself that I know someone even when I don’t. This time I was sort of correct. Earlier in the year, Pote Baby released his first single “In The Kitchen.” The song had a hold over TikTok and TikTok had a hold over me. 

I went back that night and re-listened to  “In The Kitchen” a handful of times. At this point I had an idea, sonically, of who he was. However, there isn’t much out there about him. 

Now I’m no McNulty — which is a good thing — but I was able to find some gems about him. He has been dropping music on SoundCloud since 2016. Back then he was known as Mojo Yetti. He switched the name up as an ode to Savannah’s nickname the “C-Port”. Clearly the right call. 

He seems to love his hometown of Savannah and turtles. Dude loves him some turtles, to the point I think he gives this kid a run for his money. 

His love for Savannah runs deep. He hosted his second annual Pote Day in September of this year. The three-day, free event was his way of giving back to the community and helping pave the way for the next generation of Pote Babys. The event featured giveaways for the community, panels with experts in the entertainment world, and a concert where Pote Baby launched new music. 

This is the part where I’d drop a ton of buzzwords, but instead I’m going to suggest just opening up Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, whatever you have and listening to Pote Baby. If you’re about to get up and head to the gym, “In The Kitchen” might be the route instead of “YAMS!”

Match of the Month: September

When Christmas is so close you can smell the yuletide on Michael Bublé. The time when New Year’s Eve plans start to unfold and we are always smacked with year-end list. Wrestling of course is no different. People start to rattle off matches from eight, nine months back and you have a faint memory if it.

Well this isn’t going to be the exact solution to that problem. However it might just help you along the way. These will be our favorite AEW matches we watched from the past month. Sometimes they’ll be universally praised matches that everyone thinks were great. Other times it’ll be a little cult classic that we thought didn’t get the buzz it deserved.

What, we here at Around The Block can promise is these matches will be worth checking out.

Dan Soden

My favorite AEW match this month is obviously Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega on the September 22nd edition of Dynamite. It was one of the greatest TV matches of all-time with everyone buzzing about it. Everyone knows about this match and everyone has written about this match. With that said I’m going to switch it up because I can. I’m going to write about my second favorite match this month.

This was a difficult choice, had a few matches that ranked highly up there and right below Danielson vs Omega. It came down to the last round. JD Drake vs Daniel Garcia from Limitless Vacationland Cup edged out Big E vs Bobby Lashly’s steel cage match on RAW.

AEW
via Limitless Wrestling

I know the Vacationland Cup was on August 28th but I watched the show in September, so I’m counting it. Thou who writes the laws, makes the rules.

My goal is to give recommendation but stay spoiler free as much as possible. If you haven’t done so already find the match and watch it. It was one of the best matches I’ve seen in the indies this year. Garcia has been on a tear for the last few months. Everything that man touches seems to turn to gold.

JD Drake also isn’t the one to mess with. Don’t let the Amish Roadkill cosplay fool you this, this man can move. He can go up against just about anyone and not only allow them to shine, but look good while doing it. Coming out of his feud with Austin Theory in EVOLVE I had high hopes for Drake and it seems like that might come true for him

All in all the three matches I’ve listed are well worth checking out, and if you’ve seen them already another watch can’t hurt.

Kaleb Burchett

AEW Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega
via AEW

I hate to choose the obvious – The tag title cage match at AEW All Out, ZSJ’s early run in the G1, and the recent triple threat main event from NXT UK all deserve a shout – but honestly, it’s near impossible to not list Omega v Danielson as match of the month. It’s been a dream match for so long, and there was a strong chance we’d never see it, yet, we did, and it was everything one could’ve hoped for.

Professional wrestling is special, and Omega v Danielson is a prime example of why. You could see it on Danielson’s face from the start. The atmosphere, the in-ring work, the storytelling… This is my current match of the year, let alone month.

Blake Meek

There were several great matches in the month of September, but in my opinion the two matches that were both the best matches and my favorite matches were The Lucha Bros vs. The Young Bucks cage match from All Out and of course Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega on the September 22nd edition of AEW Dynamite.

If I had to pick just one match for the match of the month it would be Danielson vs Omega. This match was as good as any match I’ve watched in a long time, if not ever. These are two of the best professional wrestlers in the world and they showed that for 30 straight minutes. The fight never felt like it was slowing down. It never felt like they were just stretching it out to make it last. Fans were on their feet from start to finish. This fight absolutely felt like two men who just wanted to prove that each was better than the other one.

From the technicality of it, to the big moves, to the counters and near falls it was an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. While some will feel like the time draw was a cop out way to end it, it didn’t diminish the match at all to me. The Lucha Bros vs. The Young Bucks might have had more big spots, a better ending to it and more emotion when The Lucha Bros finally toppled their rivals. However, the match between Danielson and Omega is one that will be talked about for years as one of the best matches ever in my opinion. It was that good.

The “All Out” Exit Survey

After months of build up All Out is finally done and over with. The return of CM Punk to the wrestling ring finally happened. As it turns out he may just indeed move the needle. But he isn’t the only name shaking the scale. The Around The Block Wrestling staff came together after watching All Out to reveal their thoughts on the show.

1. What’s your tweet-length review of All Out?

Dan: If you’re not gonna shout “Redeem Deez Nuts” with me whenever Miro is on screen then you
can’t watch All Out with me.

Kaleb: Simply put, it’s the best show I’ve watched this year – maybe in a number of years. You have to take into consideration the magnitude of these moments we witnessed, of which I still have no words for.

Blake: All Out was one of, if not the best PPV I can remember watching. Outside of the 1 match that was really put on the card to give the crowd time to rest, there wasn’t even an average match on the card. The storylines and the wrestling was absolutely top notch. A must watch PPV.

2. What’s your favorite match from All Out?

Kaleb: CM Punk is my favorite wrestler of all-time. Punk v Darby was always going to be my favorite match.

Blake: Not counting the end of the show, because technically it wasn’t part of the match, the tag match between the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers was my favorite and the best match of the night. The crowd was absolutely hot for the Lucha Bros and these two teams put on a match of the year contender. The moves they did and the risks they took were insane.

Dan: Eddie Kingston vs Miro was my match of the night. It was one of the few matches where I absolutely enjoyed the build, while short, and the match itself delivered in every way possible. I’m very much so on board with running this one back at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

3. What’s your least favorite match from All Out?

Blake: I feel like it’s a cop out, but the Paul Wright and QT Marshall match was my least favorite. It was a match designed to give the crowd some time to rest and wasn’t meant to be much more. Outside of that, there wasn’t another bad match. If I’m not picking it, I’m going to go with the Casino Battle Royale. Ruby Soho showing up was an incredible moment and she deserves to be in the title picture, but battle royales are tough matches to turn into an elite match and outside of the finish there weren’t a ton of memorable moments from it.

Dan: This was a no brainer for me Paul White vs QT Marshall. Whatever the opposite of hyped is, is how I felt about that match.

Kaleb: I didn’t want to answer Paul Wight v QT Marshall, because it feels like a cop out, but there isn’t another match I would want to put here. Wight-Marshall didn’t overstay it’s welcome with a runtime of 3:10, and it did what it was supposed to do in giving a reset between Punk and the world title while also giving a legend the opportunity to do some in-ring work. That being said, there’s nothing positive I can really say about the match.

4. Who was your All Out MVP?

Kaleb: This is tough. Punk was my initial thought, as he did an excellent job considering he hadn’t wrestled a match in seven years, but I think my answer is Darby Allin. He played his role to perfection and gave Punk a great return match.

Dan: I’m one of the first people to complain when they give the Finals MVP to a player on his way out as a career achievement award, especially when the younger guys handled the world load. However there is no way, absolutely zero, that we are as into and hyped for this show if CM Punk didn’t show up a few weeks prior and give the wrestling world a jolt of enthusiasm.

Blake: It is extremely difficult to pick just one MVP from this show. Christian Cage and Kenny Omega were both fantastic. Punk and Allin put on a hell of a match. Ultimately I think the MVP has to come from the tag team title match. It might be a small cop out again, but I’m going to pick both the Lucha Brothers. They went above and beyond what I thought they could do. Every time they step in the ring they put on a hell of a show. However, tonight they took it to another level. The story telling, the emotion and the passion they put into this match was some of the best I’ve seen.

5. Are any of these match MOTY contenders?

Blake: I don’t mean to beat it into the ground, but the tag team title match is absolutely my match of the year at this point and it will be hard to beat. As I’ve said already a couple of times, the storytelling was absolutely top notch and they showed the skill they always do when they step into the ring. The Lucha Brothers and the Young Bucks had the crowd absolutely eating out of the palm of their hands. I know I’ve gushed about the Lucha Brothers, but don’t get it wrong, the Young Bucks were absolutely their equals in the ring tonight. As we have come to expect from Matt and Nick Jackson, they showed why they are considered one of the absolute best tag teams in the world.

Dan: No, the show itself is however a show of the year contender.

Kaleb: Lucha Bros v Young Bucks took over MOTY for me last night. What is there to even say about it? I don’t see how anything else tops the match in these final four months

6. It’s been 7 years since CM Punk wrestled, after his win tonight where does he go?

Kaleb: Punk has listed numerous young talents he wants to work with multiple times. Continuing to mark off that list would make a lot of sense. Likewise, he mentioned he had some scores to settle. Do we see him transition there before continuing his list? The other possibility would see Punk entering this feud with The Elite. He mentioned he would like to team with Danielson against the Young Bucks, and Danielson’s side was short against The Elite last night.

Blake: CM Punk came back to the wrestling world and had a great match in his first match back against Darby Allin. There are several different ways AEW could choose to book Punk moving forward. They could move him straight into another one on one feud against someone like MJF or another member of Pinnacle, but I think the most likely thing for Punk to do is team up with Allin and Sting and finish their feud against Daniel Garcia and 2.0. This keeps Punk busy and lets him get in some more matches to completely get the rust off before he moves into a more high profile feud.

Dan: I think we get the Daniel Garcia match that has been teased for a few weeks, but before that graces us I can see the trios match of 2.0 & Daniel Garcia vs Sting, Darby Allin & CM Punk coming our way.

7. Fill in the blank Bryan Danielson’s first match will be against ___________

Blake: This might be the toughest question on here for me honestly. There are so many ways they could go with Danielson here. With the way All Out ended, it sure seems like he is going to move into a feud with The Elite. One would think Danielson would have to go through The Elite to get to Omega, but do we think they go with Cole vs. Danielson straight out of the gate and give one of them a loss? I don’t think so. One would think it would be one of the lower people on The Elite totem pole and that translates to The Good Brothers. In my opinion, Bryan Danielson’s first match will be against Karl Anderson.

Dan: Adam Cole, they know its a hit and after tonight it would only make sense to have Bryan wrestle an Elite member not named Kenny.

Kaleb: Manifesting this from the universe: Daniel Garcia

8. After tonight who is the biggest threat to Kenny Omega’s title?

Dan: Call me an optimistic person, but I still think Hangman is the biggest threat to Kenny’s title. I think closing that story with Hangman hoisting the title belt is the only proper ending to it.

Kaleb:  Hangman Page will still be the one taking the strap off of Omega. Tony Khan confirmed that Hangman has asked for time off, but soon after he returns, that world title is his.

Blake: After tonight the logical thinking would be Bryan Danielson would be the biggest threat to Kenny Omega. That being said, I just don’t see Danielson being the one to dethrone Omega. It has always been and still has to be Hangman Adam Page that takes that title from Omega. The story has been told over the past 2 years. Page has been betrayed by his friend, lost all of his confidence and gone away. When he comes back from paternity leave the pop for him will be absolutely massive and Page will go straight for Omega. Despite everything that happened, he is still the biggest threat to Kenny Omega.

Greatest Short Wrestler: Who Falls Short of Mysterio?

Rey Mysterio, the greatest short wrestler of all-time

The Best Little Guy Not Named Rey Mysterio

If you ask anyone who the greatest height-deficient pro wrestler of all time is, they are going to say Rey Mysterio Jr. There is absolutely no doubt his name will be coming out of their mouths. That man has been giving us 30+ years of absolute brilliance in the ring, so why would anyone’s name other than his come out. 

So let’s pretend that Rey Mysterio isn’t that guy, who raises their hand as the second best wrestler standing well… short? I asked myself this question and sat with it. What would be the requirement for this prestigious accolade? First off they have to be Mysterio’s height or shorter, he set the bar so let’s keep it there. Much to my surprise Google lists him at 5’6. Which honestly I thought would be more like 5’4, but I’ll let him have those two inches, he’s earned it. 

That’s it. Height is the only requirement — well that and you have to be an absolute savant in the ring. So I wrote down a list of short wrestler’s names. A few of these men and women got disqualified for being too tall, so it really helped narrow down the list. From there I narrowed it down to a top four, plus the winner, for “Best Little Guy Not Named Rey Mysterio” award. Let’s see John Travolta try and say that one on national TV. (Sidenote: writer knows it’s outdated)

Before I start, I’d like to say several wrestlers who are considered some of the greatest short wrestlers, but aren’t Rey Mysterio short, were thought to be in the running before heights were disclosed. Wrestlers like Daniel Bryan (5’10), Owen Hart (5’10), Crash Holly (5’9), and Matt Sydal (5’9). You all are worthy of the list, but fortunately you’ve been blessed with a few more inches than the rest of us. 

There will be no Hornswoggle, if you came to see where he ended up I apologize.

Top 5 Greatest Short Wrestlers

5. Samuray del Sol fka Kalisto 5’6

When I sat down to hash out this list, Samuray del Sol’s name wasn’t on it. Like I stated before, I had a list of names written down but they just fell a bit tall. However, I started to look at his track record and was like damn… maybe he does belong.

This is the only wrestler where I’ll list all of their accomplishments because I feel like it needs to be said out loud. This man has been an NXT tag team champion, a WWE Cruiserweight champion, a two-time WWE United States champion, won the 2014 NXT Tag Team Contender tournament, and has a Slammy for OMG Shocking Moment of the Year (2015). He also won the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup in 2012 and The King of Flight tournament in 2013.

I wrote these out to say he isn’t just some gimmick WWE used to sell masks; he can really go. Before he signed with WWE back in 2013, he was showcasing his high flying ability in PWG, EVOLVE, and Dragon Gate USA. This wasn’t given to him because he was the last man left. He earned this spot and looks to continue to do great things post-WWE.

4. Juventud Guerrera 5’5

Before he was just another stipulation on Wednesday night, Juventud Guerrera was the next best thing since Rey Mysterio. Hell, the two even had a lengthy feud early into Guerrera’s career in AAA. His run in the WCW cruiserweight division is iconic — but things after that get a little dicey.

Guerrera’s stint in WWE as part of the Mexicools is one I think both parties would like to forget. Guerrera always felt like next up when Mysterio moved on, until it was clear he wasn’t. I think the best comparison I can make for him is that of Andrew Wiggins.

There was a time when the online NBA community saw Wiggins as the second coming of LeBron, until we didn’t. Likewise for Guerrera. It felt like we had another once-in-a-lifetime talent. When reality hit, he was just really good at a certain thing.

3. Bayley 5’6

You know how you set the bar high? You become the first ever WWE Women’s Grand Slam Champion. Bayley’s resume speaks for itself. Not only does she have awards from the likes of Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, but she was 2020’s Female Wrestler of the Year. Even though she’ll spend most of 2021 on injured reserve, she is bound to crack the top five again.

I’m not sure there’s anything she hasn’t done. She continues to reinvent herself. She has classic matches, she’s won awards for her feuds, she’s done it solo and in a tag team. There just isn’t much, outside of the main event of WrestleMania, that Bayley hasn’t done.

Bayley has put on classic matches (go back and watch Bayley vs Sasha Banks Takeover: Brooklyn from 2015), she has had classic runs as both heel and face, and she has won Feud of the Year and Tag Team of the Year

2. Sasha Banks 5’5

Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last”. I feel like runner up unfairly has a stench to the title and that quote proves it. You can still be at the top of your craft and not be the best. If anything this list sure as hell proves it. Hell, I battled with putting Bayley in this spot but gave Sasha the nod by splitting some hairs.

Banks has proven time and time again that she can handle the biggest of moments and shines while doing so. She has run the gamut in WWE. From ESPY awards to being a WWE Grand Slam champion, Banks has done it. Her personality mixed with her talent is what makes her a shot above the rest.

She has shown up and shown out more times than I can keep count. She continues to stack up great matches. Most recently, her WrestleMania main event with Bianca Belair. Banks still has a lot left in the tank.

1. Jonathan Gresham 5’4

The winner of first and probably last “Best Little Guy Not Named Rey Mysterio” award is Jonathan Gresham, who comes in two inchs shorter than Mysterio at 5’4. While he isn’t greater than Rey Mysterio, the window is certainly open for him.

At only 33 years of age Gresham has a laundry list of wrestling accomplishments. Most notably being the Ring Of Honor’s Pure Wrestling Champion. The first of his kind since Bryan Danielson unified it back in 2006.

Gresham has been on a tear as of late, which has generated a lot of talk about owning the label “Best in the World”. Gresham recently spoke with Sean Ross Sapp about that and what it means to him. (Watch Here)

Gresham seems to have an eye for talent and has been creating something special with his work with The Foundation. 2021 was the start to his peak run. One that I don’t see ending any time soon.

Some matches to check out: Jonathan Gresham vs Starboy Charlie @ GCW Homecoming Weekend 2021. Day 2, Jonathan Gresham vs Masashi Takeda @ Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport. Jonathan Gresham vs Lee Moriarty @ GCW Joey Janela’s Spring Break 4.