Tuesday, 5 January 2016

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10 In Tokyo Dome

New Japan Rumble Match
Worth seeing for Cheeseburger getting slapped about by every veteran in the match and Taguchi butting off with his long-lost father Koshinaka. A fun match, mainly for all the awesome cameos from puro stars of the past.
N/A


IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match:
Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly vs Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs Beretta & Rocky Romero vs. Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson
Exactly what you expect.


NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Title Match:
Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe vs Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga
Fast and energetic, but ultimately bland and forgettable.  



ROH World Title Match:
Jay Lethal © vs Michael Elgin
Decent, but a throwaway defense in every sense of the word. A book being used as a weapon to help put away Big Mike was stupid. Elgin's getting rather over with the Japanese audience and they pop big for his power spots.
★★¾

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match:
Kenny Omega © vs KUSHIDA
Good match that would of went to that next level if KUSHIDA had a chance to build up his comeback. I enjoyed the stiff strikes they dished up, Kenny's consistent selling of the arm and of course, Taguchi as Doc Brown.
★★★¼


IWGP Tag Team Title Match:
Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson © vs Tomoaki Homna & Togi Makabe
A real meat and potatoes tag match, seasoned with some surprisingly great selling from Makabe after eating some stiff shots from Bullet Club. Homna got the crowd behind him because of charisma and his impeccable timing; he just knows when to bust out those Kokeshi Headbutts. 
★★½

Hirooki Goto vs Tetsuya Naito 
Naito's control segments work because he's great at being a dick. This was good, but rather reserved. They didn't want to burn out the crowd with too much action and it helped the match as it stopped the match from going into overkill and it kept the interference tasteful.   
★★

NEVER Openweight Title Match:
Tomohiro Ishii © vs Katsuyori Shibata
STIFF~! MANLY~! REPETITIVE~! I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy this, but it felt very seen-it-before-it-ish. I'm starting to tire of Ishii's style, but the big fight atmosphere and the spectacle of this taking place in the Tokyo Dome saved this one.
★★★½

IWGP Intercontial Title Match:
Shinsuke Nakamura © vs AJ Styles 
It's Nakamura in a big match on the Dome show. Do you really need more motivation to check it out? They play up on AJ's recent back problems which result in a great spot where AJ plays possum. Near enough every near fall and submission felt like it could end the match, and even as the match approached the 25 minute mark, I still didn't want it to end. A total war.
★★★★½

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match:
Kazuchika Okada © vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
As much as I want to crap on this match for it's dull control segments and opening moments, they kept me entertained enough with spots early in the match like the springboard dropkick knocking Tanahashi outside in brutal fashion and the crossbody over the guardrail. Once they hit the finishing stretch is when things get really great. I can even forgive some of the signature move reversal exchanges looking like a dance rather than a struggle for dominance. These guys know how to work an epic big match finishing stretch. This borrows a lot from the early 2000's WWE main event style, especially when they end up using each others finishing move. They add enough new stuff here to make it stand out from their other battles. It's flawed, but the great stuff outweighs the bad.
★★★★



 

Monday, 28 December 2015

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom In Tokyo Dome

El Samurai, Masanobu Fuchi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Akira Raijin, Kikutaro & Nobutaka Araya
There's nothing here minus the comedy spots, which would of worked much better in a more intimate venue.
★½

Gedo & Jado vs MAZADA & NOSAWA Rongai
This went on way too long for an undercard match. NOSAWA and MAZADA were great as fiery brawlers and that slow-motion Tombstone counter was very cool.

 
Buchanan, D-Lo Brown & Travis Tomko vs Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
Yet another match that would of benefited from a smaller crowd. This would of felt right at home in front of a hot Korakuen audience.



Giant Bernard, RO'Z, Suwama & TARU vs Manabu Nakanishi, Naofumi Yamamoto, Riki Choshu & Takashi Iizuka
VooDoo Murder's control segment was great (I particularly liked the axe kick to the balls spot) and it was fuel for Yamamoto's comeback until he ended up botching his desperation move, but the crowd didn't seem to care as the guy he tagged was one Riki Choshu. Even in his older age, Choshu's still got him and had the crowd popping big for his lariats.

  
Jushin Thunder Liger, Milano Collection AT, Minoru, Shuji Kondo & YASSHI vs Kaz Hayashi, Koji Kanemoto, TAKA Michinoku, Tiger Mask & Wataru Inoue
This is almost always worked at a fast pace and has many cool spots, but this would be much better if they paid more attention to selling and all that jazz.
★★¾

Shinsuke Nakamura vs Toshiaki Kawada
The mat-work here is fantastic. It shows a struggle, but it's accessible enough that someone who isn't a fan of shoot style would still enjoy themselves. Kawada is a lot more reserved than he usually is, but all that changes when Nakamura refuses to break an armbar when Kawada gets to the ropes. After this, Kawada finally starts bringing the hate and both guys take some stiff shots and suplexes. It's a shame the no-selling headdrop spots come off as a tad silly, but you're still getting Nakamura vs Kawada, so you can't really complain, can you?

 
Triple Crown Title Match:
Minoru Suzuki © vs Yuji Nagata
These guys have great chemistry together and even disguise each others flaws. The spot where a worn down MiSU tries to initiate another slap exchange with Nagata, only to be clubbed into the other direction but Suzuki keeps slapping away at nothing was a great indicator of how good of a seller he is. Many other workers could of attempted that spot and it would of looked hokey, but not MiSu. This match has a big fight feel and is oozing with charisma.
★★★¼

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: 
Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs Taiyo Kea
I was not expecting this many head drops in a Tanahashi match! This is the first time I've been impressed by Taiyo Kea. He may be lacking in charisma, but he sure can dish out some brutal looking offense. Tanahashi takes it like the champ he is and fires back when he can find an opening. This matched benefited everyone. Kea looked like a bad ass in defeat on one of the biggest stages in his career, and Tanahashi looked like the ace that NJPW want him to be.


Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono
I was dreading to sit through this as I wasn't expecting it to be good and I was right. Chono is way past it. Not much here, minus a touching tribute to Hashimoto at the end of the match. This had no business main eventing.   
★¼

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Tokyo Gurentai Tokyo Dream 2015 ~ NOSAWA Rongai 20th Anniversary Show

 Tokyo Gurentai Tokyo Dream 2015 ~ NOSAWA Rongai 20th Anniversary Show

Alexander Otsuka, Hideki Suzuki & Takuya Kai vs Kotaro Nasu, Ryo Kawamura & Tomohiko Hashimoto
Otsuka's German was ace, but the no-selling of it just felt hokey.
½

Tokyo Intercontinental Tag Team Title Match
Chikara & Mitsuo Momota © vs Kikutaro & Stalker Ichikawa
The comedy aspects of this match were entertaining, but everything else sucked.
½

FUJITA vs Seiya Sanada
Sanada possesses flawless execution and has a great look and although I didn't find myself getting behind him, the crowd certainly did. This had a solid finishing stretch, with FUJITA busting out some cool cradles and a cringe-inducing second rope tombstone.
★★¾

Kazunari Murakami & Minoru Suzuki vs Suguru Miyatake & Yoshihiro Takayama
This met my expectations and then some. Everyone had a key role and they all played their parts well. Takayama is out looking for retribution against MiSu and even ends up beating his own tag partner who insists on being tagged in. That very same tag partner is completely blanked by Suzuki when Suzuki wants a piece of Takayama who wasn't even in the match at the time. It's very funny stuff and the comedy was tasteful and well placed. The match flawlessly transitions from comical to serious, as Miyatake eventually fires up and it seems like he almost has a fighting chance against Suzuki. A sleeper MOTYC for sure.
★★★★

Tokyo World Heavyweight Title Match
MAZADA © vs Masaaki Mochizuki
Solid yet unspectacular match with a surprising flash finish.
★★½

Dory Funk Jr., Great Kabuki, Masakatsu Funaki & Mil Mascaras vs CIMA, Kaz Hayashi, NOSAWA Rongai & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
I watched this out of sheer curiosity and I expected to hate this, but it was actually very good considering how old some the wrestlers are. Three members of one team are all over 70! The only person who shouldn't of been in this match was Dory Funk Jr. His 'matwork' at the start was so slow and business exposing, but thankfully that doesn't last long and his only contributions after that is scaring off the opposing team with his whip. The younger team managed to garner a lot of heat for ganging up on Dory and Kabuki. This was thoroughly entertaining and it almost felt bittersweet seeing these legends of puroresu in a ring, knowing that their careers are coming to an end.
★★★¼

Overall:
This show is easy enough to sit through, with it's run time not even reaching the two hour mark, but check out Takayama/Miyatake vs Murakami/Suzuki and the main event if you fancy some puro nostalgia if the rest of the card doesn't appeal to you.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Random Puroresu Match Ramblings #1

Random Puroresu Match Ramblings #1

Exactly what it says on the tin. Here are some of my thoughts and musings from a selection of matches I've recently seen.

Negro Casas vs Jushin Liger (NJPW, 5/3/2010)
Casas has always been a grade-A dick and he seems to be finding ways to out do his dickery with age. The matwork here is fantastic and exactly what you'd expect from a lucha legend and one of the best juniors from the 90s. Seeing as this as an undercard match on a big PPV card, they seem to not want to wear out the crowd with too much action, so it's not as great as you would initially think. If you gave these guys a main event spot in front of a hot crowd in Mexico, it would truly be something special. 
★★★

Makoto Hashi vs Taro Nohashi (Futen, 4/24/2010)
Neither of these guys are shoot wrestlers, but they do extremely well in this environment. They lack amateur experience and all that, but they make up for it with two skills they both share ; hitting hard and getting hit hard. Nohashi is vicious little pitbull who attacks Hashi before the bell as he knows he doesn't have much of a chance squaring of with a guy who's taller than him by a good ten inches in a straight-up brawl. These guys go hard and make ever second of his four minute match count. The spot where they trade off headbutts (which ends up with Hashi hardway bleeding out) was particularly sickening and it made me wonder if it was all worth it, as Hashi ended up retiring a few years after this due to neck injuries. It's sad, but I can't deny that I was captivated during this short bout.
★★★¾

Makoto Hashi vs Rui Hyugaji (Futen, 5/30/2010)
I only know of Rui Hyugaji as the guy who pulled out of the UK Michinoku Pro shows due to an injury a few years back and today I found out that I missed out and that he's pretty fucking good. He's a young lion with something to prove and he rushes Hashi at the start of the bell with a barrage of slaps. These guys tee off on each other and they cram all that into a great little sub-ten minute match. There isn't much of a ground game here and it's more focused on stand-up strikes and flash suplexes, so I'd say it's a great start for someone who wants to get accustomed to shoot style, but finds the idea of watching a match mostly fought on the ground a bit daunting.
★★★¾

Daisuke Ikeda vs Takeshi Ono (Futen, 9/26/2010)
Carrying on the trend of short matches, here we have a brutal offering that doesn't even touch the five minute mark. I remember seeing Ono in BattlARTs as he was the only wrestler who wore MMA gloves and he loved throwing sloppy yet effective bombs. He throws plenty here and he eats a headbutt that even made me wince. A hidden gem that deserves a shoutout whenever the best short matches are discussed.
★★★★ 

Jun Akiyama & Makato Hashi vs Masanobu Fuchi & Manabu Soya (AJPW, 4/13/2011)
Fuchi is 57 here and he's trying to hang with Akiyama. Good luck with that! Akyiama controls the action with a strong headlock in the earlier portions of the match and Fuchi's continuous selling of the hold is quite amusing. He realizes he's out of his depth and has to rely Soya to win the match. This match is quite slow and dragged a tad considering it's already short length, but Fuchi's antics and the finishing stretch stops this match from being painfully average. 
★★¾

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling 2015

 NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling 2015

David Finlay, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu vs Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask
There was no question who would be winning this. The team of the young lions looked ruthless rushing Liger at the start and they show a lot of promise (Finlay especially). I'm not sure if Taguchi vs Robinson would be an mindlessly enjoyable bout or the stuff of nightmares just based on their interactions here. Butt bumps everywhere.
★★½

Tomoaki Honma vs YOSHI-HASHI
YOSHI-HASHI has improved since the days where I would watch NJPW religiously and Homna is charismatic as ever. Solid match.
★★½

Captain New Japan, Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata & Kota Ibushi vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
I expected this to be better considering the talent involved. Enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable. This certainly teased my appetite for a Nagata/Shibata match though.
★★½
 
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match:

Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly ©  vs Beretta & Rocky Romero
I'm a big fan of Rocky Romero's shtick. He comes across as such a dickhead. Barreta looked out of place teaming with him. Inoffensive juniors match.
★★½

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match:

Kenny Omega © vs Matt Sydal
This is my first time seeing Matt Sydal since his Evan Bourne days and I've forgotten what a great talent he is. He's insanely athletic who's not afraid to take a hit and is a great babyface, although that could be enhanced how great of heel Omega is. His cartoonish-in-a-good way anime villain personality got under the crowd's skin and had them rooting for Sydal every time he had an opening. I'm also glad to see that Omega has seemed to of dropped the 'Hadouken' from his arsenal as it's one of the dumbest things I've seen in a serious pro-wrestling match.
★★½

Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson vs Kazushi Sakuraba, Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano
The idea of Nakamura vs Anderson didn't appeal to me before this, but this match changed my mind. Charismatic sprint that came out and did everything that it set out to do; to further hype up a Nakamura vs Anderson match.
★★

NEVER Openweight Title Match:
Togi Makabe © vs Tomohiro Ishii
A very good 'you can hit harder than that, punk' type of match. If you have ever seen an Ishii match before, you know what I'm getting at. Some frighteningly stiff shots in this, and the visual of these guys sagging over when they want to show off how harder they can be hit but physically can't stand anymore was great. The slug-off on the top rope was particularly enticing.
★★½

IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito
Naito's new heel persona has freshened things up in NJPW. He's no longer Tanahashi 2.0 and his new heel persona is great. He wrestles at his own pace and he is constantly stalling and nonchalantly taunting Tana and the crowd. It's a very old school approach, but Naito makes it work in 2015. The interference worked and it stopped this Tanahashi match from becoming too formulaic, a problem I have with a lot of his bigger matches. I'm intrigued to see what these guys can do in a main event spot for the Championship. They would certainly tear the roof down!
★★★¾

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match:
Kazuchika Okada © vs AJ Styles
This was solid yet forgettable until Okada hit the first Rainmaker. Nothing was terrible, just nothing really stuck out either. I sometimes think these matches go the distance because it's the big main event and because they can. Once the finishing stretch started, things got exciting. Many near-falls and reversals but ultimately, even that out worn it's welcome. It's a good match for sure, it's just that it is a long match and there are better 30 minute matches out there that you could be watching instead of this.  
★★★

Overall:
Solid show. The undercard is average enough, but things start to pick up once you reach the 5th match. There's been better NJPW shows, but there isn't a bad match on here and it's an enjoyable watch.

Friday, 15 March 2013

NJPW New Japan Cup 2013 - Day 1

NJPW New Japan Cup - Day 1:

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Satoshi Kojima vs Tomohiro Ishii

Ishii continues to be the fuckin' man and Kojima was just there. I felt this match did rely a tad too much on strike exchanges and the middle section was just them trading big moves but once the match hits the finishing stretch, It gets really good. I can overlook this match's short-comings because I felt completely invested into the match's ending.
★★★½

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Hirooki Goto vs Tama Tonga

Goto tried to play the experienced vet here but isn't that charismatic enough to pull it off. Thankfully though, Tonga is also the fuckin' man and made me believe that he had a chance against Goto. Tonga was great at building up to his springboard crossbody thingy he does and made it feel like a big deal when he finally hit it. Tonga's definitely one to watch.
★★★

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Manabu Nakanishi vs Toru Yano

Just awful. Nakanishi is so painfully slow to watch here, he made Yano look bad. Who's idea was it to put Nakanishi in the Cup in the first place?
DUD

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Karl Anderson

Completely forgetful.
★½

Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi & Captain New Japan
Decent match mostly due to Devitt's new heel persona and the surprisingly good matwork from the juniors. However, I wasn't a fan of Captain New Japan getting in the amount of offense on Tanahashi; it makes the champion look week and frankly I felt the match loses it flow near the end.
★★¾

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Togi Makabe vs Yujiro Takahashi

Serviceable brawl but I really don't care for the ref bump.
★★

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki

In my Dome show review, I said these two could do no bad together. ...I was wrong. This was a mess and it felt like both men were phoning it in. They were recycling spots from their Dome match and did so with little effort which caused for a total lack of drama during the near-falls.
★¾

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Kazuchika Okada vs Lance Archer

Pretty bad match if I'm honest. Okada during the final stretch looked really bad and Archer couldn't keep up with Okada's over-complicated and unnecessary bullshit. Don't get me wrong though, Archer made this match somewhat watchable. I enjoy his schtick and I actually brought into some of his near-falls.
★½

New Japan Cup Round 1:
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would have and it looked like both men brought their A-game as they were going on last. I can say this was one of the better performances I have seen out of Davey Boy as he hasn't really impressed me in like... forever. Good back-and-forth match and one of the few brighter spots on this weak show.
★★★

NJPW 41st Anniversary

NJPW 41st Anniversary

Hiromu Takahashi & Takaaki Watanabe vs Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
I'm a big fan of making the rookies only use the most simplistic of moves like shoulder blocks, dropkicks and crabs instead of relying on 450 splashes and moonsaults to disguise what a terrible worker they are; which none of these guys are. The premise of this match was that the more experienced rookie team of Watanabe & Takahashi controlled the action and Tanaka and his weak rookie forearms have to find a way to tag in his fresh partner. Just a really fun rookie match.
★★★

Yuji Nagata, Wataru Inoue, Super Strong Machine & Captain New Japan vs. Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga & Ryusuke Taguchi
Super Strong Machine didn't add anything thing to the match and I'm going to take a guess that he was only here for nostalgia and nothing more. Karl Anderson, fresh off his classic with Tanahashi last month, continues to shine here. Great bumper and he pretty much carried his team.
★★¼

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match:
Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA© vs Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV

I usually dismiss most Jr. Tag Matches from current NJPW as forgettable X-Division matches but this was head-and-shoulders better than your typical title match. Liger being Liger was great as always; he's that grizzled old vet that you just want to see get one last big win and it felt like all the other usually mediocre workers really made an effort and it showed.
★★¾

Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs Toru Yano, Takaashi Iizuka, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI-HASHI
Just good ol' fashioned CHAOS fun. You know what to expect here, a really good brawl filled to the brim with charisma. The finish wasn't great and leaves the door open to a singles match that I quite frankly don't want to see, but what can you do?
★★★

Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Gedo & Jado vs Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith, Jr., Kengo Mashimo & TAKA Michinoku
The match is split into three sections; the first being the light-hearted antics of Jado, Gedo & TAKA. When they get eliminated, it's time for Ishii to shine and get his awesome little underdog performance in that we've all grown to love and finally it's the short but sweet Okada/MiSu showdown. Everything flows together real nicely and it's a lot of fun. My only complaint is that some of the Okada/MiSu exchanges looked a bit 'cutesy' for my tastes, but it's really something I've learnt to expect out of Okada.
★★★¾

IWGP Intercontinetal Championship Match:
Shinsuke Nakamura © vs Lance Archer

This was a mixed bag of good and bad but overall, this was a forgettable match made a tad more memorable by a ref bump. Nakamura seemed to be phoning it in here.
★★¼

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Prince Devitt
The only thing better than 'veteran Tana' is when he also is playing the heel too. He was great at getting heat by cutting off Devitt's big moves and just mocking him in general. This really got the crowd behind Devitt. Devitt was good too, he came off as a ruthless badass when he had enough of Tanahashi's shit.
★★★¾