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

NJPW New Beginning 2013

NJPW New Beginning 2013

Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano, Jado, YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Tama Tonga, and Tiger Mask IV
This was a complete mess and the only real redeeming quality to it was Liger's short yet decent segment. I like NJPW's booking strategy of putting on more multi-man matches so singles matches feel like a bigger deal, but could they at least let talented guys like Liger and Ishii get in on some of those PPV singles matches?


IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match:
Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA© vs Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov

A nothing match until it hit the finishing stretch; a stretch that included some cool double team spots and some believable near-falls.
★★½

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match:
Prince Devitt© vs Ryusuke Taguchi

The opening exchanges looked more like synchronized swimming rather than matwork. I really wished they played up on the fact they were partners and friends more because this match looked like any old back-and-forth match.
★½

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match:
Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr.© vs Ten-Koji

Take my review of any TenKoji match from the past NJPW iPPV and it should be my thoughts on this match. Nothing new.
★★½

Yujiro Takahashi vs Togi Makabe
Complete filler.
★¾

Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Wataru Inoue and Hirooki Goto
I really enjoyed Shibata's interactions with Goto; and it's not often I enjoy stuff featuring Goto. Inoue was also good in this. I know I might get some heat for this, but I like Inoue a lot. He's great as a spunky underdog or whipping boy. I know it's an unpopular opinion and I'd love to know why he isn't so well received. This wasn't perfect though. Goto totally no-sells a backdrop in the worst way possible just minutes after Shibata shows how you no-sell in the best way possible. Also, Inoue using that Takayama knee felt really cheap.
★★★¼

Kengo Mashimo vs Shinsuke Nakamura
A fun match featuring some cool strike exchanges. Both men's performances looked good in this and I think Mashimo could become one to watch.
★★★

Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada
I'm starting to see the flaws in Okada. He made a terrible babyface here and it was a total Suzuki carryjob. It's hard to explain, but there's a certain lack of heat when Okada was making his comeback and he didn't do much to make it feel like a big deal at all. Don't get me wrong though, this was match did have some great moments like the build-up to Okada's pose during the opening exchanges and the final slap-off but I just expected it too be much better.
★★★

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hiroshi Tanahashi© vs Karl Anderson

Karl Anderson, where you been all my life? Has Anderson also been capable of churning out a performance like this because he blew me away here. Great seller and was awesome at handing out the desperation flying big boots. Tanahashi was also good; he looks to of found his niche in playing the seasoned veteran. His performance here was reminiscent of his first match with Okada. Let's hope Tanahashi continues to work in this position and maybe we can start seeing some great matches like this on a more consistent basis that don't fall victim to your typical Tanahashi flaws.
★★★★¼

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

NJPW Wrestlekingdom 7 in the Tokyo Dome

NJPW Wrestlekingdom 7 in the Tokyo Dome

Wataru Inoue, Tama Tonga & Captain New Japan vs Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Jado
Tama Tonga's finisher was ...weird.
★¼

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Hiromu Takahashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & BUSHI
The opening matwork was pretty good and Takahashi continues to grow on me with every match I see of his. I hope a push is in store for him in the future.
★★

Manabu Nakanishi, MVP, Strong Man & Akebono vs Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka, Yujiro Takahashi & Bob Sapp
This match was an awkward mess and overall pretty bad, but I got some enjoyment out of it in the same way as I do when I'm watching a bad action movie. Enthusiastic Nogami on commentary and Bob Sapp added a lot to this match by simply being over-the-top.


Masato Tanaka © vs Shelton Benjamin - NEVER Openweight Title
Benjamin is the drizzling shits; he has zero charisma and was busting out german and northern light suplexes like they were side headlocks here. Tanaka managed to get a serviceable match out of him though. I also thought the finish here was pretty good.
★★¼

Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. © vs Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson - IWGP Tag Team Title
This was pretty decent. The finishing stretch was very back-and-forth especially. Like most IWGP title matches nowadays, the final part of the match was really the saving grace of the match. That's not to say the stuff before the final 5 minutes was bad, it was just extremely uneventful.
★★¾

Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki
I don't care how many times these two have faced each other; it'll never get old. This match was mostly about one-manship and features many back-and-forth strike exchanges but these two know how to do them right and they do new stuff to make them not feel too similar to their other encounters. Nagata's comeback during the sleeper was awesome and highly-charismatic. His selling gets a tad selective in the final minutes, but it didn't hurt the match too much.
★★★★

Prince Devitt © vs Low Ki vs Kota Ibushi - IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title
Really fun flippity-shit match. Plenty of insane spots to be found in this one but there were plenty of awkward looking moments too. I love Low-Ki's random but awesome Hitman costume.
★★★

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs Keiji Muto & Shinjiro Otani
I don't think anyone was expecting a great match here. What I got here was solid stuff. The only thing that sticks out are the huge reactions the highly charismatic team of Muto and Otani got. Crowd reactions can't make a bad match good, but they can make them much more watchable.
★★½

Togi Makabe vs Katsuyori Shibata
An entertaining short brawl. Shibata mostly just beats the shit out of Makabe for most of the match until Makabe gets a lucky move in and it's all quite similar to Cena/Lesnar from last year, just nowhere near it's level though.
★★★

Shinsuke Nakamura © vs Kazushi Sakuraba - IWGP Intercontinental Title
We are only 6 days into the year and I can comfortably say that this is definitely going to be a top 5 match of the year. Saku dominates Nakamura for most of the match and Nakamura is just awesome at busting out the desperation moves. I also marked big for the Landslide and Nakamura eating a knee in the same way he did from Takayama from years before. All-in-all, this was a great match that made Nakamura look like a true champion, made the title look very important and also kept Saku looking pretty dangerous himself, despite his loss. I hope both Sakuraba and Shibata stick around as they could really freshen up the main event scene.
★★★★½

Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs Kazuchika Okada - IWGP Heavyweight Title
The first 20 minutes of this was really boring and it felt like they were just going the distance for the hell of it. They could of established everything they did in the first 20 minutes in a few minutes and not bore me to death. The match picks up as soon as Tana uses the Rainmaker taunt. It manages to escape being your usual Tanahashi formulaic back-and-forth finishing stretch and Okada kicking out of the High Fly Flow was pretty unexpected. I feel the more Tanahashi matches I watch, the less I'm going to like him. I can't see the other matches between these two holding up on a re-watch either.
★★★

Overall:
A step-up from last year's show, that's for sure.

Vader in UWFi

Vader in UWFi
A look at every single match of Vader's short stint at shoot style...

Vader vs Tatsuo Nakano - UWFi 5/6/1993
This is Vader's debut and he just demolishes Nakano for three and a half minutes. I don't think there are many matches better than this in that time-frame. UWFi's rule banning closed fists doesn't affect Vader much as he puts over his perfectly legal forearm shot as a threat nicely.
★★★¼

Vader vs Kazuo Yamazaki - UWFi 8/13/1993
Seeing the crowd reacting how they did to the simplest of stuff is a good reason why I love shoot-style so much. Vader gets himself in a sticky situation when he eats some stiff kicks and the crowd go apeshit for it all. Vader pulls a new trick out his bag and puts Yamazaki away with a chokeslam when his forearm shots aren't doing the job. The match serves the purpose of feeding Vader some more momentum and to establish a new finishing move into his arsenal and it does this very well.
★★★¼

Vader vs Naoki Sano - UWFi 10/4/1993
Sano's got Vader figured out. When Vader tries to land a stiff forearm shot when he has one of his opponent's leg caught like he has in his other matches, Sano sees it coming and lays some strikes in before an awesome stare-down commences. Not as great as the other matches due to the patchy quality and Vader looking a tad awkward during some of the matwork (one of the biggest flaws in Vader's short shoot run), but still a good effort.
★★¾

Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada - UWFi 12/5/1993
Both guys had their respective national anthems playing while Lou Thesz introduces them. This looked really classy and the crowd ate it up too. The bell sounded and the audience go from a respected hush to an intense roar. Vader's a monster but Takada's no slouch. Vader controls the flow but whenever Takada finds an opening, Vader uses his sheer size and open handed potato shots to neutralize him. Takada's defense to Vader squashing him is his hard-hitting leg kicks. When he first pulls out a barrage of kicks, Vader goes down and the crowd explodes into a frenzy. Both men did a great job of making Vader look dominant and keeping Takada as a credible underdog without him looking like a total wimp. One spot I really loved here was Vader's final desperation tackle attempt. Great match that deserves to be talked about with the other shoot-style classics even if Vader's matwork isn't up to the standard of say someone like Volk Han.
★★★★½

Vader vs Salman Hashimikov - UWFi 4/3/1994
I was initially looking forward to this match because I recalled being impressed by Hashimikov in NJPW, then I found out I was getting him mixed up with Victor Zangriev and remember that Hashimikov was the drizzling shits. He puts on the world's shittest armbar here. He dominates until Vader hits some stiff shots and puts him away with a submission.


Vader vs Masahito Kakihara - UWFi 5/6/1994
Fun squash match. Kakihara is a speedy fucker and manages to use his agility to dodge a Vader strike and get one awesome near-fall.
★★½

Vader vs Kiyoshi Tamura - UWFi 6/10/1994
Tamura looked really believable beating down Vader with subtle leg kicks that little by little took their toll on Vader. Vader almost looked like the underdog here, relying on random palm strikes to keep Tamura away. His expression on his face when Tamura goes for a leg submission was pure gold.
★★★★¼

Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada - UWFi 8/18/1994
Not as great as their first match due to some forced knock-downs and they do go into overkill with some of the near-falls but overall this is exactly what you would expect out of these two. My favorite spots being Vader's sick dead-lift powerbomb and german suplex and Takada's beautifully set-up high kick.
★★★¾

Vader & John Tenta vs Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki - UWFi 10/8/1994
Worth sitting through the dull opening and John Tenta's poor attempt at mat-wrestling just to see the Gary Albright and Vader interactions. They did a good job of getting people excited for their singles match. Yamazaki also pulled out a great underdog performance.
★★★

Vader & John Tenta vs Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki - UWFi 10/14/1994
Better than the last match due to it being shorter and features less John Tenta. He isn't a completely horrible wrestler but shoot style is not his forte even if I did like how he incorporated his sumo background into his matches here. Yamazaki continues to impress me with him believably cutting down the big guys. Albright/Vader stuff as always is golden. I'm really looking forward to their singles match know.
★★★¼

Vader vs Gary Albright - UWFi 1/16/1994
Taking into consideration Vader/Albright's interactions in their previous tag matches, this was quite underwhelming. There was nothing offensive and it seemed both guy's heart was in it but this just felt very off to me. I can't really rate this higher than decent.
★★¾

Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada - UWFi 4/20/1994
A fitting end for Vader in UWFi. They both make it feel like they are bitter rivals by not abiding to the strict rules. Vader looks stronger than ever and just dominates the majority of the match. All this makes Takada's underdog performance even better and you just can't help but to root for him every time he hits a desperation barrage of kicks.
★★★★

Overall:
Fans of either shoot style or Vader should definitely own this. Most sets also include a bonus disc featuring some AJPW classics with Kobashi, Kawada, Misawa and all that. Even more reason to pick up this great set.

Monday, 3 December 2012

NJPW World Tag League 2012 Finals

NJPW World Tag League 2012 Finals iPPV Review

BUSHI, Masaaki Mochizuki, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata vs Kengo Mashimo, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku
First part of the match was some silly junior X-Division nonsense and Suzuki and Nagata looked pretty unmotivated on this night, so this was pretty bad.


Jado & YOSHI-HASHI vs Diamante Azul & Rush
Rush is shite. His offense looks terrible, he fucks up a lot and to top it all off, he can't even do a simple face-in-peril segment. Half a star for this because of Jado Flair.
½★

Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer vs Togi Makabe & Wataru Inoue - World Tag League 2012 Semi Final Match
I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Archer and Smith's control segment were fun and Inoue continues to show his worth as a good whipping boy.
★★★

Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima - World Tag League 2012 Semi Final Match
It's very refreshing to see TenKoji not work as faces for a change. The match picked up during the finishing stretch and Tenzan took a nasty bump which looks to have legit hurt him. Either that or the mulleted man has worked me good.
★★½

Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano, Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takahashi vs Manabu Nakanishi, Strong Man, MVP & Shelton Benjamin
Inoffensive tag match that's only quality that really stuck out was that the dirty finish that further hyped up the Nakanishi/CHAOs feud some more. I am curious to see what match we will get at WrestleKingdom from this feud.
★★¼

Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata & Kazushi Sakuraba
The rating isn't that high but these four weren't out there to wrestle a 5 star match but were there to hype up WrestleKingdom and only tease any Shinskay/Laughter7 interactions and they did a great job of that. These guys really know how to work a crowd. Ishii's performance stood out as great here. He took a nasty beating and got a great believable comeback until he was put away.
★★★½

Gedo & Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA
Fun back-and-forth match. Not too much I can say about this other than I enjoyed it and the right man won and the right man took the deciding fall.
★★★

Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson vs Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer - World Tag League 2012 Final Match
This felt rather vanilla aside from Archer being awesome as usual. The finishing stretch had it's moments of greatness though. For example, I was 99% sure that Goto & Anderson would pick up a win here, but a number of near-falls managed to convince me otherwise.
★★½

Overall:
Match quality isn't the best but this show does a decent job of hyping up WrestleKingdom. Only match I'd say you should really go out of your way to see is match 6.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

NJPW Power Struggle 2012 Review

NJPW Power Struggle 2012 Review

Rocky Romero & Alex Kozlov © vs KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley - IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Felt quite different your typical tag match. They kicked off the match with the heels attacking the faces which kick-started the face-in-peril segment. It was decent until the match abruptly ended.
★¾

Jado, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI vs Captain New Japan, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Negro Casas & Tiger Mask
Is it me or are these CHAOS brawls getting a lot better recently? Because I've just recently started to get into them. Just over-the-top fun. Liger is still one of the most expressive men in pro-wrestler. He can exhume so much emotion with his great body language alone and you can't even see the man's face! This is all evident in the spot where Liger stomps his own team-mate, trying to will him on. Super fun ten man tag match.
★★★

Minoru Suzuki & Taichi vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata
Any Suzuki-Gun match is automatically better than average because of 'dem ANTICS~! The whole story of this match is that MiSu & co are dominating Taguchi by using illegal tactics and stop him from reaching Nagata for the tag. It's a simple narrative executed very well. Hell, even Taguchi was okay in this. He has a great slap exchange with MiSu. Things get even better when Nagata finally gets in. He's a fresh man so he's very intense and comes off as highly-charismatic during the finishing stretch. MiSu and Nagata even throw in some fun callback spots from their previous encounters too. These men can do no wrong together.
★★★¼

Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer © vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima - IWGP Tag Team Title Match
Decent yet formulaic match you'd expect out TenKoji. At least this had an enjoyable finishing stretch.
★★½

Low Ki © vs. Prince Devitt - IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match
These guys have awesome chemistry together. Those who loved their match back in May won't be disappointed here. It's at a much quicker speed and features many comeback spots relating to their last match. Ki's schtick really entertains me, and I'm no fan of Devitt but he really did well here. It goes a bit over-the-top at the end, but with the great brawling and a great ending that leaves the door open to another rematch, I'm not complaining.
★★★★

Katsuyori Shibata & Kazushi Sakuraba vs Togi Makabe & Wataru Inoue
Laughter7 once again entertain me by simply beating the shit out of someone. My main gripe here was that Inoue got too much offense in and should of just been a whipping boy like in their last match. They keep away from doing too many Makabe/Laughter7 interactions YET AGAIN further hyping me up to see a singles match.
★★★¼

Kazuchika Okada © vs Hirooki Goto - IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match
Just last month in the last NJPW iPPV review, I shat on Goto for being too dry and uncharismatic and his performance here just goes against everything I said. He played the spunky challenger very well here and Okada is Okada. One thing that is starting to bug me during Okada's matches are how some of the reversals in the finishing stretch were getting a bit cutesy for my liking and are bordering just above indy-wank level but other than that this is a good match.
★★★¼

Shinsuke Nakamura © vs Karl Anderson - IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
Interesting to see Nakamura work as a face, especially when he's trying to go for his finisher. Other than that, I found this to drag and I don't see why these guys needed to bust out their entire moveset for a match like this. Save it for the big matches, guys.
★★½

Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs Yujiro Takahashi - IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
Starts of very similar to the first Tanahashi vs Okada match in that Tana dominates but Takahashi eventually takes control after a series of Tanahashi's mistakes. Takahashi was great in this' doing little things like biting and hair pulling put him over as a menacing little shit. The match takes a big drop in quality when it becomes clear that this is going your typical Tanahashi formulaic performance. You can see it a mile away and it stops you from fully getting sucked into to the near-falls, minus when Takahashi hit his finisher. Throwaway defense.
★★★

Overall:
A step down in quality from their last show, but still a highly consisted event.