Now we're back to 2013 AJPW...well Diamond Ring with the two top matches involving AJPW top talent. Its their 08/31/13 show.
Akira Hokuto Produce ~ Women's Pro-Wrestling Special Tag Match: Yumiko Hotta & Nanae Takahashi vs Natsuki*Taiyo & Sareee - Clipped here and there but not much really. Good to see Joshi again especially with familiar faces like Hotta & Takahashi to a lesser extent. The younger and smaller team were new to me but they were a lot of fun. This was fun stuff! Hotta and Nanae blasted their opponents in the head a couple times and it was great - in true Joshi fashion.
Diamond Ring vs. Voodoo Murders ~ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya Return Match: TARU, "brother" YASSHI & Kengo vs Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya - Very much an Indie 6 man mid card match where you get a little bit of everything but not enough to really identify it as anything other than Good. I think a tag match may have been better. Also clipped a tad so was disorienting with 6 guys fighting at times.
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki - Here we have the first of two AJPW related matches. This was a great match. Kota Ibushi was the odd man out as I don't think there's much history with him & the others. Stylistically I don't think he fit as well. He is very good at what he does but thankfully he's not in there a bunch. The heart of the match is Burning vs Nakajima especially Kotaro vs Nakajima. Kotaro was on fire here and Nakajima wasn't far behind. Kanemaru brought his A game as well but is much subtle (like a Shiro Koshinaka or even Christopher Daniels) so you just expect him to be flawless and keep moving the story/match along. That said, this was the match I'd hoped for with a very different finish that was fantastic. I'd probably put this at **** or so.
Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara - A near classic match with stories weaving in and out. Kensuke vs Suwama, Suwama former Voodoo Murder member years ago seemingly dealing with the devil teaming up with V.M member Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki against his rivals Omori & Suwama, Miyahara opposing his mentor Kensuke and seemingly hating Akiyama because he exists. And Akiyama is this decade's Tenryu. And the action backs all of that up!
This was a enjoyable little diversion having the Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring guys mix it up with the AJPW roster. The two matches that needed to be awesome delivered. Only a few more shows/matches to go.
Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) - I accidentally watched this after the Diamond Ring show. I think everything is like mid 90's AJ and if I watch anything out of order, it will spoil it. Anyone else like that? Of course it didn't matter that I watched this chronologically out of order! and in a way the 6-man Diamond Ring match made this better. I think that tag match is a good build up to this title fight. That aside, this delivered in just about every way. This was the culmination of Suwama vs Go and I feel the culmination of AJ vs Burning as well. Suwama had held off Akiyama and delayed Go but could he actually stop Shiozaki? This was the HARD hitting title fight you & I wanted to see. I legitimately think they took each other to their limit. Shiozaki was bleeding from the nose and Suwama from the chest. Both wrestlers were spent by the final bell. Neither have looked so battered all year. I would have really been thrilled to see some cleverness in terms of strategy (kayfabe work a body part) or a few nifty sequences towards the end. It wasn't that kind of match though. It was like a Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu or Kensuke Sasaki match where its about endurance and pushing through the pain & exhaustion onto victory. That's what kind of wrestler Suwama is so he's not going to get cute & intricate at the end. Shiozaki can hang with that style. I can certainly appreciate that! I'm thinking this is probably the best singles match of AJ 2013 so far. Its a classic heavyweight title fight. Its not an all time classic but I want to see their next meeting and that's good business.
Super awesome bonus! Gaora's YouTube channel has this up for your viewing pleasure. Skip the first tem minutes to get straight to match or sit through that to get some clips and backstory. You'll see see some stuff I've talked about in previous posts. And because I am all about spreading the wrestling love, here it is:
Thanks for reading!
Let's take the way back machine to 1983!
Shoehi Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta vs Tiger Jeet Singh/Umanoseke Ueda (07/26/83): Before the introductions, Tiger was so enraged that Ueda and young boys needed to hold him back. That's really cool. I miss madman heels in wresting. This was a good match but Tiger's antics while on the ring apron were really the most memorable moments. The final portion when this spilled out to the floor was quite enjoyable but the heels dominated too much. Their offense was boring. That's all good it was still a fun time while eating lunch.
Dory Funk Jr. vs Stan Hansen (11/28/83): Oh man, this is a match-up I'll never get tired of. Funks vs Hansen & Brody is just timeless stuff like Tenryu vs Jumbo. Perhaps its because this stuff is the foundation of my puro watching (along with Jumbo/Tenryu and 80's AJW). But the stuff just looks so physical and natural. Its not complicated. It looks and feels like professional wrestling should. I mean this is not that far off from top flight wrestling from the 50's. Maybe you can argue that with me but this match is no different. Its just two legends in the ring putting on another great match in their series. Terry is at ringside as is Brody. Do yourself a favor and watch this match.
There's a few guys that I wanted to see more of from the 250 list on my AJ Classics dvds so, I definitely will be doing more of these posts.
Looking to get back to AJ 2013 first though and maybe get the year done before the start of June & the mid year Best Match Watched contenders.
Thanks for reading!
This is my 250th post and I have the wild idea of going through the top 250 wrestlers as voted on during the Greatest Wrestler Ever project from 2016. I'm not going to rank anyone specifically but am going to give my opinion on the workers and maybe complain a little bit about who's in front of or behind them
250) Koko B Ware - Ah man just remember him from being a little kid but no real memories.
249) Tamon Honda - Probably like a lot of folks I've seen his big matches a multi man match from AJ, and a couple tags from 2002, his 2003 Kobashi ...maybe some stuff from 2004 & 05. He's OK
248) Booker T - The better member of Harlem Heat
247) Chavo Guerrero Sr. - A quickie post about Chavo is probably coming up very soon.
246) Ole Anderson - Sadly not seen much of him
245) Kana/Asuka - Only seen a few things in WWE, my wife thinks she's awesome
244) Mil Mascaras - A fan of Mil and really dig his stuff in Japan if only for its uniqueness.
243) Jeff Jarrett - Doesn't do much for me but enjoyed some of his TNA stuff more recently...just not at the time.
242) Dr. Wagner Jr. - Got a handful of matches of his to watch. Sick wrestling name
241) Batista - meme fodder
240) Karl Gotch - I think its silly to put someone who doesn't have a ton of footage on here. He's such a legend in puro that he should be excluded.
239) Raven - In ECW, he's a legend. His importance in helping TNA & ROH get off the ground shouldn't be forgotten.
238) Sasha Banks - I've got some NXT stuff to watch but she's got a cool look.
237) Jerry Lynn - Indie iron man, not much personality but is a wrestling machine.
236) Roderick Strong - Ha! I was going to compare Jerry Lynn to Roddy. No way Roddy should be this low considering the high quality of matches he had in ROH from beginning to end of his time there.
235) Dick Slater - Seen on some AJ Classics
234) Abdullah the Butcher - Limited physically but an absolute legend.
233) El Solar - Dabble in lucha on occasion and El Solar is one of my faves.
232) Masakatsu Funaki - Honestly haven't seen enough of his prime stuff in PWFG & Pancrase. But the NJ Jr, UWF II, and 2010's AJPW is good good stuff. He's the real deal.
231) Juventud Guerrera - Juvi - check out some of his stuff in NOAH because you already know about the other stuff.
230) Joe Cortez - Sorry
229) Gino Hernandez - Watched the Dark Side of the Ring. Do want to see more.
228) Super Dragon - I really can't say anything positive. Indie in the bad way...
227) Super Porky/Brazo de Plata - Nope
226) Rob Van Dam - Athletic, charismatic as hell in his heyday. Big fan in high school as he consistently had good- great matches in ECW.
225) Buddy Landell - Sorry
224) Sheamus - Physical style I appreciate but basically a cartoon character
223) Masa Chono - A rare western Chono fan I bet.
222) Diamond Dallas Page - My mom's a fan and my wife knows him from the yoga stuff. He was pretty damn cool in WCW. Kinda like Chono or Raven, just has something that makes him interesting.
221) Bill Eadie/Masked Superstar - Saw him in WWF but nothing special.
220) Ken Patera - Definitely want to see some of his stuff
219) Lioness Asuka - All in all I've probably only seen her best matches and I'm biased there but they are fantastic. '85-95 and she's still ass
218) Jim Duggan - Probably missed his best stuff but loved him in grade school.
217) Kyoko Inoue - Kyoko is someone I am not as high on as when I began watching Joshi. Toyota gets blamed for the go-go style but its as much Kyoko.
216) Mark Rocco - Seen mostly as Black Tiger but enjoyed him in the UK matches more stylistically speaking
215) Tommy Rogers - OK, kinda don't recall him but dig The Fantastics
214) Yoji Anjoh - OK but in a different way
213) Chris Adams - not seen much
212) El Samurai - like most, I've seen the high end matches. I like him but there's folks that should be higher up than him.
211) Invader I - Puerto Rico is a blind spot for me
210) Nigel McGuinness - Seriously top 3 ROH champ along with Joe & Danielson. His injury and illness cut his rising in ring career short.
209) Tomohiro Ishii - Like his style
208) Osamu Nishimra - Handful of matches seen but I appreciate the style and intensity
207) Seth Rollins - Other than 07-08 Tyler Black stuff I'm not sure. But very talented in ring. I've got a lot more of his ROH stuff on my plate so I expect my opinion to improve.
206) Kota Ibushi - Perhaps he would rate higher now with others. I'm lukewarm
205) Pat O'Connor - Seen a couple matches and want to see more. I always appreciate a technical wrestler
204) Daisuke Sekimoto - Someone who I kept seeing pop up in lists. Polarizing perhaps but he's one of my favorites in the 2010's
203) Big Show - I like Paul Wight and admire his longevity. Kinda wish he had a career in Japan.
202) Christopher Daniels - His importance in the US Indie scene is crucial to wrestling now. Ready from day #1 in ROH and kept evolving and staying relevant despite his age.
201) Cima - OK but so many people who are listed above that should be ahead of him.
200) Buzz Sawyer - Handful of matches, very physical style
199) Dennis Condrey - Probably heard Cornette talk about him more than I have seen
198) Randy Orton - just goofy, same class as Batista for me
197) Ray Stevens - watching AWA on ESPN Classics from over a decade ago, liked what I saw
196) Jay Briscoe - gotten better with age like Mark, best tag team of the past 15 years, very capable singles star too
195) Megumi Kudo - the ace of FMW's joshi division, probably haven't seen as much as I should given the amount of FMW I've watched
194) Masaaki Mochizuki - OK next to Shingo & Yamato, probably the third guy in Dragon Gate
193) Emilio Charles Jr. - lucha blind spot but I have seen a couple matches
192) MS-1 - have seen the couple big matches but same as above
191) Hayabusa - True ace of FMW, like Nigel his career trajectory was cut short. Totally could have gone to NOAH or at least flourished in the 2000's and had some fantastic bouts. Way too low on the list for me.
190) Gran Hamada - Phenomenal body control and like Jerry Lynn just a in ring machine. His matches with Tiger Mask are fantastic and want to see much much more of Hamada.
189) Mocho Cota - Sorry
188) Ivan Koloff - not overly impressed with what I have seen.
187) Mariko Yoshida - I can't put her ahead of Lioness Asuka but she's 90's & 2000's best kept Joshi secret. Totally re invents herself and excels.
186) Kazuo Yamazaki - A victim of Takada's ego but so talented. I wish he stayed in NJPW.
185) Verne Gagne - Again only seen a couple but a technical treat to watch. Probably hurt that he went on longer than he should have.
184) Yoshinari Ogawa - I really really like Ogawa but no way should he be ahead of many of the others. He's a novelty act that stands out because his style was so different than his AJ/NOAH counterparts.
183) Psicosis - Probably unfairly he & Juvi are interchangeable to me.
182) Edge - Has the look but nothing else. Boring along with Orton, Batista era of WWE
181) Magnum TA - Absolutely have more to watch, like Nigel & Hayabusa, his career was over too soon
180) Taka Michinoku - I've probably soured more on TAKA than any of the other KDX guys but he's got longevity but I'm not a fan of the heel stable stuff in Japan.
179) Negro Navarro - Need to see more of
178) Jeff Hardy - Uh during the attitude era he was the most late ECW Jr. style guy and that's cool but, he hasn't aged well.
177) Kevin Owens - Kevin Steen is best in tag matches to me.
176) Austin Aries - Just going off his ROH stuff, really talented but not sure I'd put him of Roddy for instance. Actually no way I'd put him ahead...
175) Masato Tanaka - Dangan, if you've been reading the blog you know how I feel.
174) Kensuke Sasaki - I really like Kensuke but he's kinda only ever been one thing which is the powerhouse but the definitive powerhouse amongst 90's-2000's puro stars
173) Yuji Nagata - Nagata probably is hurt by his big time being in the down period of the 2000's NJ but he is the man for that time by taking on the best of the best from the Four Pillars of AJ, up and comers and even Kurt Angle.
172) Yoshiaki Yatsu - Kinda like 80's Taue - fantastic tag wrestler with a smattering of choice singles bouts
171) Big Boss Man - No I can't get with this at all. This is a bonkers pick especially ahead of nearly everyone so far.
169) Scott Hall - Kinda a similar sentiment here as well. I've seen some early Outsiders stuff which I like but...c'mon
169) Ultimo Dragon - A fantastic junior wrestler that I honestly have little problem with. A world traveler and is some of my favorite 90's Junior matches and under rated under his real name in the SWS & Hamada UWF.
168) Tiger Mask - I did a giant deep dive project last year. Read some of that. This is not unexpected but is insulting low. Guessing this is all from his series with Dynamite Kid.
167) Dutch Mantell - Heard great things
166) Michael Hayes - Not seen much of him but well aware.
165) Adrian Adonis - same
164) La Fiera - Probably only seen the match with Tiger Mask Misawa
163) Terry Rudge - Nope
162) Scott Steiner - Probably one of the bigger Scott Steiner fans here and this is a bad location. Like no way he should be ahead of many of the others.
161) Paul Orndorff - Not seen much of but he's alright
160) Masa Saito - Same as above, has a great look, looks like he can & will hurt you
159) Necro Butcher - ugh, as a death match fan this is silly.
158) Davey Boy Smith - Kind of like Scott Steiner, very good stuff in tags but not a greater wrestler than most already listed.
157) Bob Orton Jr. - Not seen much of but he's alright.
156) Mark Henry - yeah we're in a weird pocket of people. Its like we're in the not a great wrestler but a good wrestler territory. Which sucks when these people ranked higher than Verne Gagne. I can see why people were upset at the time
155) Fuerza Guerrera - Really dig Fuerza Guerrera quite a bit. Again my lucha exposure is limited but I know what I like.
154) Matt Hardy - The more even handed Hardy.
153) Tracy Smothers - Enjoyed what I've seen
152) Bam Bam Bigelow - Beast from the East, clearly very very underrated big man. Wish we had more of him in Japan. Him in ECW was brilliant btw
151) Black Terry - Sorry
150) Eddie Gilbert - Sorry again
149) Sabu - As big an ECW fan, this probably is a fair spot for him
148) Tsuyoshi Kikuchi - I'm a Kikuchi fan but c'mon. A side kick in AJ and a grumpy side kick in NOAH. Has great & classic matches but he's a bit player...maybe one of the best but still a bit player.
147) Bruiser Brody - Much much too low. Has flaws in ring but the character is Classic and in Japan he & Hansen are one of the top tag teams of all time.
146) Shinobu Kandori - seen the hits, I dig her
145) Lou Thesz - Again too low, a legend, his stuff holds up today in my book
144) Lex Luger - Similar to Scott Hall. I've seen stuff in NWA/WCW late 80's & early 90's that I dig but there's also a mountain of crap too.
143) Villano III - need to see more of
142) Buddy Rogers - Like Gotch, Thesz in a way these guys should not really be on this list as we wouldn't have wrestling as we know it without them.
141) Tommy Rich - Vanilla 80's baby face to me
140) Perro Aguayo - Not seen much of, bleeds well
139) Bruno Sammartino - Probably too low but haven't seen enough of to argue
138) Marty Jones - Like what I've seen. As you can tell UK wrestling is more a novelty for me but, really enjoy it
137) Kazuchika Okada - I don't think he's much and the fact folks love him turned me off contemporary NJPW. He's good and folks like his character but he's like Edge to me.
136) Butch Reed - Not seen enough but also know that this seems a little bit off
135) Devil Masami - I've really dug everything she's in. It's been awhile though.
134) Nobuhiko Takada - Overrated but I still like him. When he's ON he's fantastic.
133) Mayumi Ozaki - Haven't seen enough later day OZ but her stuff in the 90's is AWESOME. Her & Dynamite Kansai - shoot!
132) Antonio Inoki - Yeah this is criminally too low but I love his original vision of Strong Style. That said I avoid the worked shoot stuff he did. That's taking it too far.
131) Jake Roberts - Like the person more than the wrestler, like the late Scott Hall. Jake was THE heel when I was a kindergarten kid.
130) Meiko Satomura - I drop off with Joshi after 1997 or so other than a little bit here & there. I know she's one of the best in that post AJW era.
129) Koji Kanemoto - Koji is the best at being a prick & he can back it up. His stock as one of the premier junior wrestler goes up the more I see. He's got two Best Match Watched contenders this year in AJ '13.
128) Minoru Suzuki - Suzuki is the version of Masa Funaki where his peak is after Pancrase. Love Suzuki when I see him.
127) Alexander Otsuka - this is a wacky pick by a BattlARTS maniac right?
126) Naoki Sano - Love me some Sano in NJ, SWS & NOAH but not sure he'd make my greatest ever list. I feel like this list should have been divided between top 50 Japan, USA and then lucha & top 25 UK.
125) Dynamite Kansai - Illness got in the way I believe but top worker of the golden '90-95 Joshi period. Her & Ozaki were an amazing tag team.
124) Dean Malenko - Fan of Dean and his tag stuff with Joe in AJ is overlooked but I really need to revisit his WCW run.
123) Yoshihiro Takayama - I'm trying to think of someone more of a Japanese monster (with the real toughness to back it up) than Takayama. He is the embodiment of 2000's puro.
122) Johnny Saint - A lot of fun and my intro into World of Sport UK wrestling.
121) Pat Patterson - Haven't seen anything beyond his Attitude stoogery.
120) Triple H - Ha! Someone had him @ #12 but refused to reveal their identity. I can feel ya! I've lessened my hate recently but a heel in front of and behind the camera over the years. The definitive heel of the last days of Attitude era by politicking but he could back it up. Very generic work hidden behind a top notch physique.
119) KENTA - The Jr. version of Takayama. No one encapsulates early 2000's puro more the KENTA. His performances in 2006 (ROH & NOAH) is sorely overlooked as one of the best years an individual has had in wrestling. Better than Danielson.
118) Jerry Blackwell - Big tough fat guy, him vs Hansen in AWA where Stan hits him with his cowboy boots and Blackwell is bleeding is gold.
117) Pirata Morgan - Not enough seen but have enjoyed it
116) Great Sasuke - Haven't seen enough of his stuff from the past 20 years but his 90's stuff speaks for itself. But maybe not your cup of tea.
115) Wahoo McDaniel - Wahoo is great, no nonsense hard physical style that is timeless. Like you could have Wahoo vs Sekimoto and it would be great.
114) Jaguar Yokota - I have a small window of Joshi that I'm pretty familiar with and Yokota is a top 3 worker. Her mid card stuff in the mid 90's is better than some main eventers.
113) Sting - I like Sting. His late 80's and 90's stuff is best. But he was still putting on go stuff in TNA.
112) Dory Funk Jr. - An all-time favorite & legend but an acquired taste. But I could say the same for many of the UK, lucha and 50's/60's guys.
111) Masa Fuchi - Fantastic during the Jumbo & co vs Misawa & co feud. Pops up in very good to great matches thereafter. Kinda goes away until the NOAH split where he & Kawada are the only long time vets.
110) Chigusa Nagayo - I'm more of a Lioness fan but what I said about her, Masami, Jaguar apply to Chigusa. I haven't watched Joshi in a long time but thinking about it, the Crush Gal era is where I want to start.
109) Larry Zbyszko - A Larry Z fan from really is AWA time. Its when I started really appreciating heel moves.
108) Steve Grey - Never got around to watching him
107) Low Ki - I'd probably compare him to Austin Aries but rank Aries higher.
106) Sean Waltman - X-Pac along with Chyna & the New Age Outlaws were DX. So for that X-Pac should be remembered.
105) Akira Maeda - I like him in NJ & UWF but never got into Rings.
104) Chris Hero - I like him and he has great & even classic matches in him but I can't say he's a greater wrestler than Dory Funk Jr. for instance...
103) Carlos Colon - Blind spot, sorry
102) Christian - At the end of the day the best singles wrestler out of the Edge & Christian, Hardys, Dudleys. His work in TNA is pretty good but ultimately pretty vanilla.
101) The Rock (2228 points, 57 ballots, 61.93 avg, high: 8 - anonymous, 2006: 64) - Well this is pretty damn silly having an icon of pro wrestling from the last 20 years this low.
100) Daisuke Ikeda - Again BATTLArts skewing and Daisuke Ikeda is awesome but, not ahead of Dory Funk Jr.
99) Virus - Sorry again
98) Kerry Von Erich - planning on watching a little more of him. Reminds me of Lex in the late 80's early 90's style wise.
97) The Destroyer - Stuff from the 70's vs Mil & Horst Hoffman are awesome
96) L.A. Park - Like him from WCW know I'm missing his best stuff
95) Sangre Chicana - just seen a match or two
94) Shinsuke Nakamura - Had the potential to be a great and I think there's more from NJ that's been overlooked but is definitely hurt by his WWE time.
93) Bob Backlund - just haven't seen the essentials
92) Dusty Rhodes - Dusty is a lot like the Rock (or vice versa) except Dusty bleeds and can really pull you into a match. Rock has a better look.
91) Too Cold Scorpio - I love Scorpio and is one of the bright spots of wrestling in the early ECW days.
90) Ron Garvin - I think I would like him but only saw a couple matches years ago.
89) Atsushi Onita - Kinda like a sleazy Japanese Dusty Rhodes.
88) Sami Zayn - The better member of Steenerico. Like Jerry Lynn but I guess he's quite the performer now.
87) Cesaro - F-ing silly right here. I need to see Kings of Wrestling in their peak more but c'mon...he's a very good tag wrestler. Jay Briscoe is way the fuck behind him and if we're just going on who's a better tag wrestler, Jay smokes him...and Jay is a better singles wrestler.
86) Hiroshi Tanahashi - I've come around on Tanahashi since doing a 2010 house show tag match deep dive. I'd take Nakamura still
85) Manami Toyota - I have gone back and forth over Toyota. She's one of many necessary wrestlers that contributed to the awesome run of AJW in the 90's. Her & Kyoko changed the pace but unlike Inoue she is essential to so many breathtaking & iconic matches.
84) The Undertaker - Another icon of American wrestling especially during the Attitude Era for me.
83) Roddy Piper - The more I see the more I dig Piper. Liked him as a kid but really appreciating him now as an adult.
82) Steve Williams - Just familiar with his AJ work but he was this interesting & dangerous cog in the near perfect machine of 90's All Japan.
81) Yoshihiro Tajiri - Going to try for another deep dive into Tajiri. This time pre- ECW. He along with Lynn were the premier junior talents of late stage ECW.
80) Tito Santana - Just haven't seen enough
79) Terry Gordy - A few years ago I'd argue Dr. Death over Gordy but Bamm Bamm's stuff in the 80's AJ scene puts him above. Then you've got the Freebirds too...
78) Dynamite Kid - The Tiger Mask project lowered my opinion whereas it seems to have lowered others on Tiger. I will be watching more British Bulldogs soon I hope. I favour him in that role.
77) Rick Rude - Just memories as a kid and the occasional comp match
76) Hiroshi Hase - Dude was never given a big push but he is the best of that class in NJ. 88 vs Takada, with Mutoh vs Steiners, vs Vader & Bigelow, vs Hashimoto, vs Kobashi.
75) Hulk Hogan - Best match I've seen is him vs Hansen. Should try to see more stuff in Japan. But its the Hulkster
74) Atlantis - Awesome mask, have really dug what I've seen
73) Chris Jericho - World traveller and still going. Loved him in WCW and Y2J, his Japan stuff is worthwhile as well.
72) Brian Pillman - Like Nigel and others mentioned, he never reached his full potential. Would have loved him in NJ Jrs.
71) Dick Togo - Probably the best of the KDX guys, really need to see more singles stuff. His match vs ZSJ in wXw was fantastic though!
70) Yuki Ishikawa - BattlARTS skew but as a strong style fan, Ishikawa is fantastic. Actually want to revisit Batt-batt now.
69) Blue Panther - One of the guys I've purposely sought out in lucha and he is a favorite.
68) Kurt Angle - My neighbor (haha sorta not really). His 2006-2009 TNA stuff ranks as some of the best the company produced.
67) Jack Brisco - just not seen enough but I love he vs Dory in '74. Think also might have he vs Inoki somewhere.
66) Keiji Mutoh - Honestly a really great tag wrestler and a sporadic singles performer. NWA Muta is good stuff and early 90's in NJ but after that I don't know.
65) Shinjiro Ohtani - I like NJ Jr. Otani as much as Zero One Otani. Actually might like 01 Heavyweight Otani more!
64) Sgt. Slaughter -Am I drunk?
63) Giant Baba - I've seen more Baba than I ever intended to. He is a novelty act beyond the 70's or very early 80's. I won't skip them but...am ready to especially if in singles. Baba in tag especially multi man matches is very worthwhile.
62) Kiyoshi Tamura - Have seen his UWFi stuff, very cool
61) Bull Nakano - Yeah she's awesome, monster heel but can wrestle, brings the hate and bringing up Kyoko again, has an awesome singles match with Kyoko. I don't know why I'm focusing on Kyoko but here we are...
60) Volk Han - Watched some stuff on YouTube, the problem I have with Rings and all worked shoots is the now we see shoot fights in the form of MMA. So its difficult for me to suspend disbelief. Its too close to real that I'm watching it as a fight and not pro wrestling. That's me though.
59) Samoa Joe - 2004-2009 Joe is one of the best in the world. Poor booking in TNA really hurt him and perhaps should have gone to Japan for a couple years like AJ Styles.
58) Owen Hart - His stuff in NJ late 80's is revolutionary and is where he belonged. Or maybe WCW, he never was really given a real chance.
57) Bill Dundee - I'm missing out
56) Jim Breaks - Same here
55) Curt Hennig - This is kinda silly and I like Curt especially in AWA. Mr. Perfect was a goofy gimmick and his talents were wasted like Owen.
54) Greg Valentine - I recently have seen the light on Greg especially older stuff. He vs Roddy Piper is a thing of sick beauty.
53) Dick Murdoch - Just haven't seen enough of him
52) Akira Hokuto - We get a few years of absolute brilliance then gone (essentially). 1991-1993 then sporadically for a couple years. She is probably my favorite wrestler.
51) Andre The Giant - The man, the myth, the legend. Still gotta see more especially vs Hansen.
50) Billy Robinson - Seen the classics vs Inoki, Nick in Japan, and his series vs Jumbo plus a great match vs Verne Gagne. Assorted AJ matches too. How much of his AWA stuff is out there?
49) Aja Kong - Right up there with Hokuto in terms of greatness. One of the most brutal but great all time Joshi.
48) Fit Finlay - Fit should be somewhere on this list but this is too too high.
47) Brock Lesnar - I'm not sold on him as a great pro wrestler but he is a great wrestler and fighter.
46) CM Punk - Like Chris Daniels, he could wrestle but also could talk , sell an angle and connect with the audience when everyone else was still trying to figure out who they were as wrestlers. Yeah one of the most complete pro's of the past 15 years.
45) Harley Race - Just haven't seen enough Race to convince me of his awesome-ness.
44) Tully Blanchard - The more I see of him, the more I get him. Definitely want to see more Tully.
43) Rick Martel - Oh man Rick Martel! Yeah The Model gimmick like most WWF gimmicks, it ruined him. But in AWA & Japan sign me up. He vs Bockwinkel where he's pulling the canvas to crawl to the ropes is forever burned in my brain!
42) Ted DiBiase - Really dig his work in Japan. I need to see his pre WWF work.
41) Riki Choshu - Missing much of his time in AJ but really love what I have. His career is really in NJPW and probably haven't seen his best from the early 80's. His stuff in the late 80's is still top shelf, '88 specifically.
40) Yoshiaki Fujiwara - Has the look of violence and backs it up. I really should look up more Fujiwara in NJ. Surprisingly haven't seen enough of his UWF stuff...especially vs Tiger Sayama.
39) AJ Styles - Probably one the best in ring workers. He can adapt to any style and any promotion. His work has changed to accommodate his age and style. He reminds me of Yamada/Liger in these things.
38) Mick Foley - I probably am not as high on Foley as I was in high school but damn I love Mick. Like Styles he always kept changing his character to stay fresh and interesting. Who would think the King of the Deathmatch would be one of the funniest & most empathetic baby faces in the crass Attitude era? All that aside he & Terry Funk have one of the best deathmatches in Duel of the Wilds.
37) El Satanico - Like Blue Panther, seek his stuff out & am always happy.
36) Buddy Rose - Only saw him as a tubby heel in AWA with Doug Sommers
35) El Dandy - Must see more El Dandy...something tells me I should bust out my unwatched lucha dvds.
34) Chris Benoit - Liked him in WCW, loved him in New Japan, and never really saw much in WWE as I started to lose interest in WWE around then.
33) Ricky Morton - Richard when he's in singles competition. Yeah he's great.
32) Dustin Rhodes - I could see Dusty here but not Dustin.
31) Shawn Michaels - I really think he's overrated but I also really don't like most 90's WWF stuff stylistically. The whole thing including the in ring action looks and feels made for children.
30) John Cena - Couldn't help but see some of his stuff over the last 15 years. Don't get the hate but also don't think he's great. Clearly he's marketable. Good for him, I guess?
29) El Hijo del Santo - Perhaps as a lucha dabbler, my appreciation of El Hijo is typical but, he's fantastic.
28) Bobby Eaton - Skilled as hell as a heel. Just tremendously natural at what he does.
27) Jun Akiyama - Big Akiyama fan, longevity is now an attribute (guess it was in 2016 too) but his later work has gone overlooked
26) Akira Taue - Excellent tag worker with a handful of singles classics as well. So not overrated but sometimes I think he's given a tad more credit in those singles matches than is due.
25) Barry Windham - Very much dig him but this is a little bit too high on the list for me.
24) Steve Austin - I want to say too low but we are in the top 25 now...let's see who else is here.
23) Shinya Hashimoto - Seemingly the only NJPW heavyweight who had reliably great singles matches in the 90's. I think Hase is better but was pushed much less. Their championship match is top 3 heavyweight NJ match of the decade.
22) Negro Casas - Probably my favorite luchador and clearly many others as well.
21) William Regal - I must be on bath salts. This seems very high on the list. I like what he does though and one of the guys I'd stop & watch if channel surfing.
20) Tatsumi Fujinami - One of the best that Japan has produced. I really want to see more of him and I've already seen quite a bit. I think his stock can only go up with me.
19) Arn Anderson - Has the look and the skills to back it up. My teenage years were him as an non wrestler but still a tough looking badass with Flair and the 4 Horsemen. Seeing his actual work as an adult, the proof is in the pudding.
18) Randy Savage - Probably the best WWF star in terms of personality, look, visibility, and in ring work. WCW didn't really know what to do but what else is new?
17) Bret Hart - The only 90's WWF guy who actually put on great matches. If we don't bitch about the Flair Formula then I won't mention Bret's. His look with the pink and wrap around shades is lame even then but his ability was never in doubt. A guys gotta be tough if he wears pink.
16) Nick Bockwinkel - Love Bock and need more in my life.
15) Ricky Steamboat - Perennial babyface and just fantastic every time I see him. I actually have a few of his top matches still to watch.
14) Vader - Love Vader, really wish he would've stayed in Japan as I'm not really as high on his US work as others. We all can agree on his WWF run though.
13) Genichiro Tenryu - Like Bockwinkel he got better with age. But really his 1989 stuff is the start of that consistently great Tenryu as Tenryu period. I know it at least goes until 2006. That's something remarkable.
12) Eddie Guerrero - Like Benoit, I'm more familiar with his work outside of WWE. Love Eddie and like Steamboat I've got a few top US matches to watch but the best Jr. Heavyweight in the States.
11) Jumbo Tsuruta - Tenryu had longevity but so did Jumbo...and even longer although he didn't have a career that wound down really. It just ended. But '75-92 as a top level wrestler is crazy. There are stronger years than others but Jumbo evolved with the trends and all of his programs are landmark feuds in puro.
10) Jerry Lawler - I have come around big time on Lawler since my adolescence but his overall style isn't my thing.
9) Toshiaki Kawada - Probably the smartest heavyweight star in Puro in terms of storytelling. There are notable big match exceptions in the later 90's AJ but honestly those only seem like exceptions in comparison to masterpieces. To see his transformation 88 to 92 is so rewarding and gets totally overlooked by what comes later. And his work in the early 2000's with strangers is the true testament to his ability as a talent.
8) Kenta Kobashi - The best actual baby face of AJ since perhaps Terry Funk. Misawa like Jumbo were aces but Kenta Kobashi like Terry were the hearts of AJ fans. They would get their asses kicked but never quit. Even when Kobashi was ace in NOAH, he's still face due to real life injury and illness. What's so crazy about this is he's built like a tank by the mid 90's.
7) Rey Mysterio Jr. - I dig Rey Jr. but missed a lot of his WWE career. I think this rating is based on that work. Therefore I politely disagree with him being this high. His coolness in WWE is due to the fact that for a long time there was really no one else like him. But Rey is a star nonetheless.
6) Jushin Liger - AJ Styles is like Yamada/Liger. Just insanely talented from the get-go. He keeps changing his style or approach and looks like he's be wrestling that way his whole life. Fantastic seller and extremely selfless in terms of wins/losses so that always makes the outcomes uncertain.
5) Daniel Bryan - Danielson jumped 100+ spots from 2006 to 2016 and like Rey that must be from his WWE work. And I think from the weight a lot of the non regular members that voted on this list. Like in my humble opinion, his work didn't get better than 2006 while in WWE just by the limitations that are there. 2007-2009 ROH stuff, yeah that bumps him up a tad but I think this was some of the problem folks had with the results. I think others were from some people just not getting total votes. Like Negro Casas was left off (completely off) 40 people's ballots and Misawa the greatest Japanese wrestler was left completely off 11 people's ballots. All that aside he is brilliant. His Best in the World claims back in the 2000's were hard to argue especially with guys in the States.
4) Mitsuharu Misawa - The gold standard for aces in Japan.
3) Stan Hansen - Nearly every match he's in feels real. He attacks defensively his offense looks like it hurts. He's ornery and tough and is the best gaijin in puro and one of the best heavyweight wrestlers ever.
2) Terry Funk - In my mind you're either a Funk person or a Flair person. You can like or even love both but you've got to pick one. A long time ago I would firmly identify as a Funker. But I have come way around as a Flair fan. But at the end of the day, I'm going with Terry.
1) Ric Flair - See above
...you know what? I may have thrown my post # off by one..shit..well, maybe not? I'm still posting this This has given me some new ideas, made want to rewatch some things, and show me my blind spots. Now mind you these are not my top 250. Some of my comments are simply off the cuff and if I dissed your favorite wrestler, sorry!
Thanks for reading!
Here's a quickie covering a few Ikuto Hidaka matches that I found online. I guess it's all a part of looking for Zero One wrestling matches. He's a guy that really impressed me from my brief foray into BattlARTS and from an ECW match back in 2000 or so. Had ECW lasted longer perhaps he'd be in the mix with Super Crazy, Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Little Guido etc. and the best Juniors matches on US TV. Anyhow let's take a look at what I found.
& Minoru Fujita vs T. Kuroda & Yoshihito Sasaki (08/31/04): Classic structure Jr. tag match with an awesome high energy final act. Great to see FMW alum Kuroda kicking butt! And man Sasaki had a relatively short career but he's so impressive even this early. No one talks about him so I'm going to praise his work and no frills style every chance I get. Here Fujita's execution is on point and the man Hidaka is his usual wizard self. He is just so quick and clean in his movements that it's a joy to watch. Fujita's hot tag to Hidaka is just sick! This is a very very good match.
& Fujita vs Spanky Brian Kendrick & Alex Shelley (03/27/05): Kendrick surprised me again! He's so scrawny that I just don't believe he's any good. Then he proves me wrong. Thank goodness! Fujita was a bit off tonight or there were communication issues so some of his stuff (especially with Alex) didn't work correctly. But Shelley vs Hidaka was sublime. Their mat wrestling was totally worth it. Really other than those couple execution errors this was looking to be a great match ('05 Shelley and Spanky make it easy). As it stands its still very good and absolutely worth a watch if you're interested or nostalgic for early 2000's ROH type stuff.
vs Super Crazy (04/14/05): This was what I had hoped for! He and Crazy met in ECW and had a breathtaking encounter on ECW on TNN. Here they do it again and actually take it more to the extreme. Crazy lived up to his name and Hidaka wouldn't be outdone in his home promotion. 14 minutes of fireworks. Very good match! Absolutely left me wanting more.
vs Munenori Sawa (09/19/10): Wow this was some BattlARTS shit! I kinda didn't know what I was watching since stylistically this was so different from the previous junior style matches. This was two dudes beating the crap outta each other. There was little defensive manoeuvres. It was palm strikes and kicks until someone fell down. Then try to snap a limb or pop a joint. But in BattlARTS fashion there were drop kicks and a couple more moves too. But then Sawa just punches Hidaka in the face His face swells up and is bleeding from the mouth. This was a heck of a match. Feels weird to watch something so Indie 90's Japan take place in 2010. I love it! I'm not going to give a rating but highly recommend watching this!
Overall this was a fun little mini project. I know there's more Ikuto Hidaka on my horizon as I've got some Zero One wrestling dvds as well as some late 90's stuff. This has only gotten me more hyped to watch those.
Thanks for reading!
Lets keep on truckin' with AJPW in the summer of 2013.
Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13) - One week after a under the radar great show, we get this big match main event. The 4 biggest stars in Akiyama's AJ going head to head. Omori & Akiyama friends and rivals but Suwama & Shiozaki is ace vs ace and a build up to their long awaited Championship confrontation. I think I have their Champion Carnival match as the best singles match of AJPW so far. They are an excellent pairing much like Suwama and Sekimoto were. The 2 out of 3 falls match is something I have been missing in my wrestling lately (In fact Suwama & Shiozaki have a 2/3 falls match in July but can't find that online and I don't have the DVD...can't get 'em all ). But anyhow, this was one of the matches that got me into watching post-2000's wrestling and here's my write-up from the start of this very blog in 2018:
"Here we have one of the few reminents from Muto AJPW, ace SUWAMA and a cast off from Misawa's AJPW exodus in Omori up against NOAH's ace and Kobashi/Misawa pupil Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama. Let's all remember that Akiyama is former tag partners, champs and friends with Omori. Akiyama got to ride the NOAH wave in the 2000's while Omori was surfing relatively low tide in Zero-1 and washed up back in AJPW like driftwood. This was a battle for a lot. Omori had remade himself in partnership with Manabu Soya however. He was not someone to be kicked around anymore. This was Omori's home, AJPW had been through alot in that time and SUWAMA had been there and is still there. This isn't just his home, it's his kingdom. He had outlasted them all. Akiyama wants back in? Akiyama had been gone for 13 years. Ok that's fine but he has to earn it. Shiozaki on the other hand has no place in AJ. He's an outsider through and through. This was a battle.
A beautifully long match that harkened back to the classics of AJPW '92-'96. The grappling, striking, layout and pacing were conservative. Therfore, the contest was more organic in its story progression and the escalation of aggression. The 2/3 falls usage was brilliant and perhaps is what made it so damn good. It provided the wrestlers the framework to bring the level of excitement up and down, to be able to rest the fans energy only to build it back double fold. Classic Match! "
One thing that I omitted is that Kawada was in attendance and Akiyama used the Stretch Plum on Omori at one point - hell yes! Everything else I can fully agree upon now as well. This is a classic heavyweight tag team match and is as important to the heart and soul of All Japan as their heavyweight singles matches.
Now on to the my next DVD, 08/17/21.
Masanobu Fuchi vs. Masao Inoue - skipped this
KENSO vs. Kazushi Miyamoto - Really good yet simple match. Way better than a #2 match usually is. Just an easy watch. I like Miyamoto in this spot...he's a good addition to the undercard.
Argenis & Drago vs. Atsushi Aoki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Fun match, didn't agree with the outcome but that's as a fanboy Liked Drago's execution more than Argenis.
Joe Doering vs. Kotaro Suzuki - Under 10 minute David-and-Goliath match. It was something special that I don't see very often anymore. And I don't think we see it shown very well when we do since big guys starting doing dives and shooting star moves. Doering is improving in the last 2 matches. I got to think Muto-AJPW wasn't using him well and his heart wasn't in it. Very good match!
Akebono vs. SUSHI - I'm not watching this. Its a waste of SUSHI. Still good for him being 2nd from the top match.
Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Suwama & Takao Omori - Classic match, these two teams have great chemistry. Here they go on to have another must see encounter. This is only one fall but just as exciting as their previous bout. Everyone did well but this but Shiozaki's match. He really showed so much as a performer but also as an athlete. I can't wait for the title fight between he and Suwama! I didn't write as much as the tag match above but this was just as awesome.
This DVD/show was another very easy watch capped off with a thrilling main event.The next installment should be a Diamond Ring show that features AJPW and essentially introduces Kento Miyahara to the equation & builds the Shiozaki/Suwama tension.
Thanks for reading!
Yeah, we're back on track and are in summer of 2013 and the big Wrestle -1 exodus has happened and the AJPW roster is lean and mean. Its Akiyama's Burning stable and a few guys who wanted to stay on like Suwama, Omori, KENSO, Joe Doering & Sushi. From there they are going to have freelancers...you know I think Masa Fuchi is still on as well. And to be frank I'm only going to miss Kaz Hiyashi, Koji Kanemoto & Minoru. They lost some big names like Akebono, Masa Funaki & Sanada but they weren't setting the world on fire every show. This small roster with freelance help is what I was thinking they should do with ROH. Have your core and spice it up and fill in gaps with folks from the outside. Anyhow let's talk AJPW:
First off is the championship match with Suwama defending against Jun Akiyama. Which is June 30th so not sure if the exodus started but for our purposes it has. The future is centered around Burning in one way or another.
Jun Akiyama vs Suwama (06/30) - This was a great title fight but did feel a bit safe. I understand that though. They are setting Shiozaki as Suwama's true rival yet reminding us Akiyama is the general of Burning. So this is more a story of Burning vs Suwama...and that eventually the Triple Crown will be in their possession. Still its out the for free so if you're just watching the BIG matches, go check it out!
So now we're on to the 07/21 show.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs MAZADA - 11 minutes of fun, energetic Jr. wrestling. Sometimes funny but always interesting, this was a good start to the show.
MAZADA with an eye rake. Timeless shortcut!
Kazuchi Miyamoto vs Masao Inoue - 8-9 minutes of fun wrestling. Again a little bit of comedy but rooted in good wrestling. Miyamoto who isn't small does a Swanton Bomb - very cool!
Joe Doering vs KENSO - Here we get into the meat of the card with two upper midcard favorites. This was very good stuff. KENSO gave meaning to 'knife edge chop' by cutting open Joe's chest during an exchange. Both guys looked good and Joe employed an attack-the-leg strategy that was way deeper than I thought he could go. Had KENSO really sold that in the final minutes this would have been great. No complaints here though.
Takao Omori & Hikaru Sato vs Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki - This was the Aoki & Sato show and I didn't know that I would dig it so much! Shoot style purist probably will scoff at this but seeing these two go at it was great. When they both re-entered the ring with their boots & kick pads off, I was pumped. Akiyama & Omori were perfect in their roles. The action was heated, the shots were stiff, and Sato & Aoki were selling the damage in a believable shoot type of way. The cherry on top was the final few minutes. Sato vs Aoki is something I want to see more of. This was a great match.
Aoki (RIP) and Sato mid-beating the crap outta each other.
Suwama & SUSHI vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki - Going into this, the focus is on Shiozaki vs Suwama and building up a title fight. That stuff is great but little by little this becomes a match about Sushi hanging in there with champion level opposition. And this isn't some walk in the park, he's clearly bleeding from the mouth. But he will not quit or be beaten down! And he's got the Triple Crown champ at his side. This just becomes one helluva tag match. Early on I thought the previous match should have been the headliner but this won me over. Rightful place on the card and match of the night. Near classic match.
This was an EASY show to watch & enjoy. 5 matches that were all unique. The one similarity was each made everyone look great especially the lesser known guys like MAZADA, Miyamoto, Hikaru Sato & SUSHI. The former AJ talent was hardly missed. Everyone stepped up and I'm excited once again for AJPW in 2013. Well worth the $3 from your friendly Internet Video Provider *wink wink*
Thanks for reading! Stay safe folks!
So here's the remainder of my 2003 Highspots DVD. This isn't really why I was interested in the comp but heck these look fun and are outside of what I've been watching lately.
Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Yang vs. Fuego (Amazing Red) & Super Dragon (01/13/03) - This is fun to see all of these guys in one ring especially an AJPW. A very nice spot match...very early 2000's vibe in every way. Not necessarily lucha- puro as the following matches but probably as lucha as I've seen in an AJPW ring.
Anthony W. Mori, Takuya Sugawara, & Taiji Ishimori vs. Milano Collection A.T., Masato Yoshino, & Shuji Kondo (01/19/03) - Wow, everyone is a baby! This is high speed lucharesu and is a nice bit of nostalgia for someone who gets a kick out of the Dragon Gate 6 mans in ROH. Very fun stuff.
Ultimo Dragon & Kaz Hayashi vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero (01/19/03) - I've seen this before but it really struck me as something special this time. Its all action lucharesu fireworks that gave me tingles like 90's Michinoku Pro. Every move was crisp, guys were bumping like crazy and even in the Tokyo Dome fans were audibly excited. This isn't the best Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero match I have seen but man it was an exciting one. I'll call this a great match.
Milano Collection A.T., Brother Yasshi, & Shuji Kondo vs. Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi, & Anthony W. Mori (01/27/03) - A slight step down from their match about but felt different as there was a bit more comedy, there was 6 sided ring and a smaller yet loyal audience (as opposed to the Dome show audience from above). Still a load of fun and non stop excitement. Although I only know Anthony W. Mori from Fire Pro Returns, I really want to see more of this dude.
Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Osaka Pro Tag Team Champions Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03) Holy cow! Where did this come from? Only know Liger. Murahama maybe I saw a couple times years ago and the Osaka Pro team I remember from Fire Pro Returns (still the best one due to the pre-made roster). But seriously I did not know this match would pack such a punch! This is top shelf lucharesu. Quick action, lucha partner swaps, liberal time given for partners in the ring but still a little slower, stronger emphasis on stiffness, 1 fall with a classic escalation of drama and action. Part of me wants to call this a classic because it was so exciting and unexpected. And there's part of me that wants to dial that rating back a tad for the same reasons. So instead I'll say if you're a fan of Jr. style tag matches, you'll want to see this.
From the star ratings on the box, I've under rated & over rated a couple of these. I'm OK with that and totally stand by my opinions. These matches coupled with the NOAH matches make this a pretty great compilation. I recommend checking some of this out anyway you can. Highspots has discontinued all of their DVDr comps but this might be available still on their UK site and people have it on eBay. Or do your internet stuff.
Anyhow thanks for reading!
Sorry for the delay if you've been waiting for this next entry! As I've mentioned in a couple previous posts, I had to take a rest from watching and writing about the grapple arts. It was nothing too dramatic or even stress related. I think the season changing and wanting to be outside is probably the biggest contributor. I've put on a few pounds over the winter and want to make hiking & skateboarding a priority to get in better shape. Plus I think my anxieties need to get reigned in after a long winter and even longer pandemic so, I think getting out more will help with both. So less time to watch wrestling and less time to blog.
Anyhow, I think I'm back in the swing of things and dammit we need to get through the 2013 Champion Carnival..There's some really exciting stuff here! We'll see the 04/27 stuff then move onto 04/29 which are the finals. So without further ado, let's go
Go Shiozaki vs Hama - Good match and Hama got a lot of fat-guy offense in. Shiozaki then had to hit him really hard. It went exactly as expected which was OK for everyone.
KAI vs Joe Doering - Quick but fun match...maybe 7 minutes long. Kinda bummed about that time but what they did was really good. *** type stuff
Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki & Aoki vs Minoru Tanaka, Kanemoto & Fuke - The best ongoing series of matches takes a dip here. This was as much cruise control wrestling that I've seen from any of them in 2013. Nonetheless Minoru & Kotaro lit things up for the final portion and had a great finish. That elevated this to about *** which is what I typify as a fun match.
Suwama vs Takao Omori - This started with some nice wrestling that builds to the strikes & slams. The finish was great and pretty unexpected. I think that really made this something above the matches viewed thus far. That said, its Omori's weakest CC match for 2013 & I know they have a better bout in them...
So I dug a little and found their CC match from 2012. It takes place 04/21/12 and in K-Hall. That is a boon because the 2013 matches have been in small crypt like venues where the fans have played the part if the dead. So this 2012 version is THE match I wanted to see! More intense, more dramatic, better crowd - this is the one to watch It actually felt like a Champ Carnival match between two of the biggest names in AJPW. Great match! (I needed to see something like that as the 04/27/13 show has been disappointing)
Masakatsu Funaki vs Jun Akiyama - Main event time and we get dueling chants!? I don't know if I've ever heard that in Japan. Figures the crowd was pretty sedated all show to come alive for the big time match. Both guys have their dudes second the match so we see the Stack of Arms vs Burning rivalry story advance. This feels like a big deal. Both guys play for keeps. Akiyama hurts Funaki's knee so he targets Jun's arm. This very fast paced and it ends in around 10 minutes. But it was great and felt like how you do a veteran match like this towards the end of a tour. (I checked 2012 here as well and they actually do a sub 5minute match so the 2013 encounter is superior)
04/27/13 is a fun show but not as exciting as the early part of the tour. Let's see how things wrap up on 04/29. I only have 2 matches from what looks like a nice card. Hey found this online for free so beggars can't be choosers...
KAI vs Go Shiozaki - This is a tie breaker match to see who goes to the finals. Seeing as I haven't watched all of CC matches I'm going to take their word for it. It starts a little slow but Go targets K man's bruised chest with his fierce chops and it starts to bleed. This ups the ante and we get the hard hitting & action packed match you want. I've seen people go call this a classic/****1/2 but I'll be realistic and say that is a little much. ***3/4-**** is much more appropriate as it lacks either bell to bell intensity or depth to go that far. But *spoilers* its a BIG win for KAI as Shiozaki is the man in 2013 AJ.
KAI vs Jun Akiyama - Again not sure how Akiyama made it and aren't they in the same block? Ah screw it...I'm down to see them fight one more time. Now we have the story of KAI's battered chest driving the last few matches, will Akiyama use that weakness?...shit I'll answer it for you- yes! 2013 Akiyama is the guy you want to structure a match that continues an arc within a single show. That's to say he's a cerebral veteran that is going to tell the story with nuances rather than overt actions. For instance, he targets the chest of KAI as a defensive strategy rather thinking he's going to win by chops like Shiozaki. Jun is more similar to Kawada than Kobashi at this point. KAI makes sure to play his role and man! All things considered this adds up to a near classic match and an excellent end to the 2013 Champion Carnival.
As I do with many final posts I'll do a summary of stuff to go back read in an older post or to watch in case you're coming into this late or in the future. Rather than do all of the matches, I'll just list the Very good to Classic matches (***3/4-****1/2) for the Champion Carnival I saw.
Sanada vs Omori - very good
Suwama vs Shiozaki - Classic
Kenso, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki - very good
KAI vs Akiyama - great
Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - very good
Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki vs KAI - Great
Shiozaki vs Omori - Great
Kanemoto & Tanaka vs Suzuki & Aoki - Classic
KENSO vs KAI - Great
Akiyama vs Funaki - Great
KAI vs Shiozaki - Very good - great
Akiyama vs KAI - Near Classic
In a bit of bummer 2013 AJPW news, KAI hurts his elbow on a frog splash vs Kono in June. I think he's going to be out for the rest of the year and then eventually goes to Wrestle -1. He really made a big impact during the carnival. In fact many of the guys might have made their last appearance (as far as I have available to watch) so Kaz Hiyashi, Kanemoto & Tanaka, Funaki etc. are off to W-1.
We're going to jump ahead in time to late June and late July next. It might be a little bit before the next post for 2013 but rest assured, I will persist!
Thanks for reading!
I've been in a bit of a down period with wrestling the last month or so. I got a Highspots Best of 2003 compilation off eBay a little while ago and I thought it might be the thing to get me back into things. It starts out with matches from the January 10th show. A couple of them are ones that I always wanted to see but never got around to. Looks like a good place to start.
KENTA & Takashi Sugiura vs Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki - Man alive this was a Jr. tag fireworks display. Kotaro just set the tone early showing Tiger Mask like speed & agility. Sugiura was the powerhouse while KENTA & Sano were the violent artists. 14 minutes of Jr. action without being contrived or "out of order." There is a difference between this and what was going on in the U.S. at the time. Guys would catch up but this was crisp, clean and engaging Jr. tag wrestling. The finish was the only flaw of this great match. Even then, it doesn't diminish the work.
Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka - This is a WAR lover's match. More potatoes than Idaho. Some might more moves but this burns bright with inter-promotional hate. That coupled with a brutal finish makes this a classic tag match in my book!
Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue - So I thought the above match was the final but no! We have this dream bout with NJ's Chono getting in the mix. His interactions with Kenta & Taue were like a Fire Pro match come to life. Its different than what came before it and was very much a big time main event style match where you get what you came for. The tanks aren't emptied out but you're still grinning at the end. It's been awhile since I've seen Misawa, Kobashi & Taue so this was a treat. I feel very comfortable calling it a near classic match...
Its no secret that I'm a big fan of tag matches and these were totally up my alley. Each was different stylistically yet each was dynamic and engaging. I'm sure these are available online somewhere or maybe you have them on DVD or saved somewhere on a computer, take the time and check these out. If you're a newer fan, its some great stuff from the not too distant past. If you were watching NOAH take shape 20 years ago (holy cow!), these matches will take you back in time to a period of excitement and possibility.
Thanks for reading!
Holy cow! Its been awhile since I've posted. I've finished watching the 2013 AJPW Champion Carnival but just haven't done the write up yet. I guess I'm on a bit of a wrestling break with the weather getting better. Been trying to get out and go for walks/hikes as well as get some skateboarding in as well. But you don't care about that, you want some wrestling reviews! Well you're gonna have to wait a little longer but I've got some sweet wrestle-art to feast your eyes on in the meantime.
The Octopus doing what he does
Hansen, Gordy & Brody vs Baba & the Funks
Brody with a double ax handle smash...
I stretch and strain with all my might. Drift off into the velvety arms of the night...
Thanks for enjoying and I'll be back with your precious reviews soon
Take Care Folks!
We're back and going to look at 04/25 & 04/26 AJPW. Its the Champion Carnival tour.
Akebono vs Jun Akiyama - Short match but good. Akiyama gets an Akebobo singles match worthwhile.
Hirosho Yamato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Quick somewhat average match with a very good finish. Reminded me of a early 80's AJ Jr. bout.
Joe Doering vs KENSO - The giant gaijin manhandled KENSO but they had a good match. Good chemistry but they have a better fight in them.
SUWAMA vs Seiya Sanada - Another good match but really by-the-book and frankly I'm not sure they're good opponents for each other. Sanada can't match stiffness with Suwama so his elbow strikes look weak in comparison. There was a story worked but it was bland which shouldn't be the case with two of you top wrestlers.
Go Shiozaki vs Takao Omori - Chain wrestling to begin which almost feels like a throwback in 2013. But I think that's the "point" of Akiyama back in All Japan. Anyway, Omori injured Go's neck and uses a variety of offense to target it. Takao looks to have the Burning ace's number. Go isn't going down without a fight and he's got to really fight his way back into the match. Its a simple but effective story and really harkens back to late 90's AJ. Great match.
Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Minoru gets hurt early (real or story? Great selling) and his opponents smell blood in the water. Koji has got to get violent and buy his partner time to recover. Koji & Aoki's grappling was awesome stuff as were all of the kicks, suplexes and double team moves. I felt like anything could end the match especially with Minoru's limitations. This is one of, if not the best feuds going on in AJ at this time. If you're a fan of Motor City Machine Guns or really 06-08 ROH tag stuff then you will dig this. I felt it was a classic Jr. Tag match classic. 03/17/13 was a little bit crisper but damn this is a worthy rematch.
What a main event! Now we're onto the next show 04/26.
Sushi vs Kanemaru - A darn good match that told a simple story (hurt neck vs hurt leg). The important part is that they stuck with it til the end. Sure they did some exciting moves off the turnbuckles or dives but it was all within the realm of believability. Sushi is climbing up the ranks.
Stack of Arms vs Last Revolution - 6 man match where Shuji Kondo was never tagged in nor was Minoru Tanaka (maybe he did get hurt? Cool to see they're sticking with it either way). It was an OK match but so short given the teams that you can skip this.
Jun Akiyama vs Joe Doering - A good ***1/2 sub 10 minute match with intensity, surprises and therefore drama. Doering reminds me of Mike Awesome in FMW to an extent. I like that.
Kanemoto & Nakanoue vs Suzuki & Aoki - Another ***1/2 match that keeps the fire burning. The finish was almost a shoot with how outta nowhere it was. I dug that.
KENSO vs KAI - KENSO is so very popular especially in these smaller venues. I might be missing something but I guess he's pretty charismatic. KAI is much more similar to a Misawa/Akiyama favorite. Anyway, this was a HARD fought battle. It was perhaps the most physical match I've seen KENSO in. He gave it as good as he got though. He blistered KAI with chops, kicks and slaps. KAI's chest was purple by the mid way point (it was healing from the previous night). KAI in turn kicked Mr. Chrisma's ass. Both guys gave 100% and were the best bout of the show. Great match and KENSO's best singles match I've seen.
I wouldn't say it was a show saver because everything else was short and fun to watch. But that felt like an AJPW match instead of a ROH TV match from 2018.
So I would recommend the 04/25 show over the 26th, if I had to pick one. But I would still say both are worth your time. Pick and choose if you like. I think I skipped a couple that might have been available online.
The 4/27/13 show is next and looks to be a bigger one.
Thanks for reading!
Hi, not taking a break from 2013 AJPW but wanted to share something in the meantime. This is a review of ZERO1 07/31/08 & 08/03/08 from Samurai TV. Its the last 2 days of their Fire Festival which is their Champion Carnival or G1Climax. A side project that I'm working on is checking out Zero One, Zero1, Zero- One Max and every iteration of that company. Its not going to be a deep dive since there's no ready made compilation that I'm aware of. In fact there's not a ton out there in general...at least hype or talk save a few early matches or cross over matches. The dvds are out there but you're trusting your instincts on which shows to check out. I decided to go with a selection of mainly Fire Fests since it features the most well-known stars of the company as well as others from outside organizations. From there its a scavenger hunt on different comps and what's available online. Its nice though because it reminds me of my early days of hunting for puro and being happy with what I could find. Let's get going!
Shinjiro Otani v Masaaki Mochizuki 7/31/08 - Dynamic all action match with some really fantastic sequences and exchanges. This was a blast to watch. Its been awhile since I've seen some Otani. Slight clipping but very good stuff.
Manabu Nakanishi v Takao Omori 7/31/08 - Yeah here we go, two dudes just clubbing the heck outta each other. Manabu throws Omori through a door from the Torture Rack position. Lots a lariats - very good stuff. Slight clipping
Kohei Sato v Togi Makabe 7/31/08 - Quick violent stuff and a fantastic finish. Manage is very underrated but he does take some getting used to. My 2010 NJ project CA couple years ago made me a believer.
Masato Tanaka v Ryoji Sai 7/31/08 - This was a great match IF you gloss over the excellent leg work Tanaka did. I was on my way to saying Sai put on a Kawada worthy sell job but then he proceeded to blow it off at every chance he got including after a missed double stomp. So I can't say this was anything other than a good match that could have been great. When a guy just sells his ass off and then acts like nothing's wrong that's silly and I don't want silly wrestling. But maybe fast forward those bits and you'll really enjoy the hard hitting action. I don't know maybe I'll rewatch with lowered standards?
Masato Tanaka v Takao Omori v Manabu Nakanishi 8/3/08 *3 Way Match* - A really fast paced and effectively built 3 man match to determine who was going to the finals. Nice sequences and spots...yeah I thought this was great stuff for 7+ minutes.
-Spoiler alert for the Tournament Finals Matchup -
Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe 8/3/08 *Fire Festival Tournament Finals Match* - Makabe is the violent cheating outsider and Tanaka is the home promotion hero. Can he withstand the punishment the bigger and younger NJ villain can dish out? What about his trusty chain and flunky Honma? If anyone can Dangan can! Seriously, this was some classic shit if you're an ECW/FMW fan from way back like me. Brawling, blood, hard hits, table spots, fake outs, fighting spirit... But this wasn't just a bunch of those things thrown in a blender. No, it was built very well in an old school type of way and that made everything that much better and more meaningful. I loved this battle.
This was a very good start. The finals were totally my cup of tea despite not being a traditional macho he-man slugfest like the Strong BJW guys do or a fireworks show. It was a more Southern brawl (with heel cheating) than a late 00's puro match. It had a couple hardcore spots but in the ways of later ECW/FMW plus it was intense and hard hitting as you wanted for 2008. Glad I took a chance on this one!
Thanks for reading! I hope that you will enjoy this side project and we'll both find out more about Zero-One.
We're going back to the 04/20 (Blaze ) show from 2013 and then moving on to the 04/24 show. These are smaller events so nothing on paper is mind blowing awesome but let's see.
First thing first, I only have access to what has been uploaded so perhaps I'm not capturing the full experience but this is a review of what I've watched. Take it with a grain of salt.
The two actual Champion Carnival matches (Funaki vs Doering & Kono vs Suwama) can be skipped from the 04/20 show. I felt that they were boring. From that we have two tag matches that are more interesting.
Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Sushi is like Curry Man if you remember that Chris Daniels gimmick. Comedy but he can wrestle. Nevertheless, that doesn't bode well for him facing Mr. Sterness. In a twist of fate Kanemaru gets injured and its Sanada & Sushi 2-on-1 so dammit they have a chance! This is a fun match.
KENSO, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki - Burning vs Stack of Arms/Jr. Stars continues and this is the best match on the show. Aoki & Kanemoto grappling was a real highlight. Lotsa action and KENSO & Go's interactions were interesting since the K-man isn't your traditional 2010 puro guy. Anyhow very good match that keeps the feud going. This was a very good match.
Masayuki Kono vs Takao Omori - Another example of Omori being an underrated worker. He's the guy who's having smart work-a-body-part match every show. That makes this something above the average and a good match with the limited Kono.
Kaz Hiyashi, Shuji Kondo vs Hiroshi Yamato & Nakanoue - This was a fun match but Nakanoue is lowest man on the totem pole so the outcome wasn't in doubt. Good double team moves.
Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Same pairing as 04/20 but this was a different match and a mid-card storyline! Because of this, I think this is better than the first match. Good stuff!
Kotaro Suzuki, Aoki & Shiozaki vs KAI, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka - A bigger feeling match than the 04/20 6-man. We get high quality interactions in KAI vs Shiozaki, Minoru vs Suzuki & Aoki & Kanemoto. Aoki's arm destroying moves inspired ZSJ without a doubt. This was a great match and the best bout of both nights. If you just wanna sample one match, this is it!
Both nights were clear B-shows as the venue and spotty attendance indicated. There's some good stuff nonetheless but I would focus on the 6-man matches if you're just looking to dip your toe into 2013 All Japan.
Thanks for reading and stay safe folks!
This post is all about the early parts of Champion Carnival for 2013. This stuff is out there online for your enjoyment. But no screen shots to give you a taste. I'm watching these on my living room TV/streaming rather than the trusty one hooked up to the DVD player. You don't care about that. You want wrestling! Here it is! The first two matches are from April 18th:
Seiya Sanada vs Takao Omori - This felt like a Champ Carnival of old where the finish actually played off working over a body part. We don't really see that enough anymore. Sanada is really fun to watch here and Omori doesn't get enough love. Just a really smart finish, very good match ***3/4 stuff.
Suwama vs Go Shiozaki - The meeting between Shiozaki & Suwama has been building up since Akiyama's Burning stable invaded AJ at the start of 2013. Here we have it and this did not disappoint! it is everything you'd want in a first fight. Not bloated yet not rushed or cheap with its finish. Classic Champion Carnival match. You really should check it out!
Jun Akiyama vs KAI (04/21) - This begins as simply an average match with a couple neat sequences and moves. That's OK, however it continues to escalate and becomes something special. Akiyama was not going to let some young punk beat him in the Champions Carnival. That punk doesn't even belong in the Carnival! KAI was fighting for more than just a win. He was fighting for his chance to be recognized as a main player. A gutsy performance from him and Akiyama is 2010's Tenryu. These are the types of matches I'm looking for in 2010's puro - hard hitting matches that are not afraid to take the time to sell a simple story. A great match for sure.
There we have it! Very impressive stuff that I never heard much about at the amid the NJPW buzz.
For those keeping track, I skipped the 04/20 show for the sake of having 3 matches for this post and not cutting April 20th up at all. i have way more footage available so that will be more like a typical show review.The order is irrelevant 9 years later, right?! I'll circle back around for that show next time.
Overall, 2013 has been pretty great stuff and I'm thrilled that this footage is still up after all of this time. Concerning AJPW in '13- The Burning crew has really invigorated the company and many of the top talent that would leave to form Wrestle -1 is still there. So there's been some fantastic Jr and Heavyweight matches as a result already. I'm very enthusiastic about this project
Stay safe folks!
This is only what I was able to find online for the 03/17 super show. There's a good looking Omori/Soya vs Akiyama/Shiozaki match but there's no sign of it. So like I said before we say goodbye to Soya then. Kinda bummed but I'm not complaining about what's available as you're about to find out.
AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs Kaz Hayashi - This is an awesome 14 minutes of Junior wrestling fireworks. It never overstayed its welcome which many junior matches do anymore. Its a great match! Kaz Hiyashi really impressed me and Kanemaru is like the Shiro Koshinaka of the 2000's.
All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Holy crap! This was awesome! I was losing my mind at the end. At 20+ minutes this ended just when it needed to and as a result we get a classic Jr. tag match. I think both sets of guys were excited to have fresh opponents and wanted to put on a phenomenal performance. They certainly accomplished that goal.
Triple Crown: Suwama vs Masakatsu Funaki - A much slower pace than the two Junior matches but this was like 2 heavyweight boxers going at it until the final round at which point they tried to go for the knockout. But in all honesty they could have done it at any point IF they were facing lesser opponents. Its Masakatsu Funaki trying to knock out or choke out the ace of AJPW. Its SUWAMA trying to pin one of the most dangerous grapplers and pioneer of MMA. This was a great slow burn main event title fight. It was like Hashimoto's IWGP title reign. No its not Misawa vs Kawada but dammit its intense physical wrestling! You feel like you watched a struggle.
Theses bouts are out there online so if you've got the time or inclination, go watch them! Very exciting stuff already for 2013 AJ.
Thanks for reading and more stuff on the way shortly!
Now we move on to AJPW in 2013. This should be one of my longer projects of the year as I have a bevy of matches available online to bolster my DVD collection. I'll say I'm really digging 2013 from what I have seen so far.
Here is my first show & dvd. Per usual, I skip stuff that I'm not interested in. If you're feeling these matches then by all means, watch them & let me know
3 Way Match: KENSO vs MAZADA & Andy Wu - A squash for KENSO which was pretty enjoyable.
Masanobu Fuchi & Reid Flair vs Tomoaki Honma & Kazushi Miyamoto - I'm sure there is merit to this but I didn't want to wait for it to happen.
Suwama, Joe Doering & Shuji Kondo vs Akebono, Ryota Hama & SUSHI - Great use for Akebono. Fun match.
Masakatsu Funaki & Masayuki Kono vs Seiya Sanada & Yasufumi Nakanoue When Sanada was in this was a really good match. Gratefully this was the final third of the bout. He vs Kono was pretty awesome. I'd say that this was ***1/2 tops but I really dug that final third. Wish we got this Sanada in ROH!
AJPW World Tag Team Title Skirmish - All Japan vs. Burning: Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Kaz Hayashi - Absolutely the best bout of the night! The announcer can't finish the intros before Omori attacks Akiyama. The pace was vigorous and didn't let up. Suzuki and Kaz were the whipping boys but showed maximum heart enduring the punishment. Everyone except Kanemaru was in there for a good display. What he did do was special stuff especially with the Caveman Soya. Eventually Kaz & Kotaro were back in one on one and put on a fireworks display. This is the match I bought the DVD for and it definitely delivered! This invasion feud (somewhat real) injects AJ with some pep and excitement that it needs. Near classic encounter and the melee after the bell only makes it sweeter. Since I'm doing stars this post, ****1/4 seems right without overrating...cause this was exciting stuff!
All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Hiroshi Yamato & Hikaru Sato - Starts out just OK but picks up to be a very good tag team battle. There's some very exciting moments and the last few minutes are the best. This is the main event but I knew that this wasn't going to be the best. I'd say this was *** 3/4 though. Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka are always worth watching in my book.
Pretty good show with the 6 man being something to watch. I'm partial to tag & multi man matches though. The 6 mans of the late 80's and early 90's are some of my favorites.
Anyhow, I believe this is the final match I have of Manabu Soya in AJ. Not sure if the exodus started yet but I had a blast watching him. He's one of my faves. Clearly the Burning stable from NOAH has invaded and this will change the landscape of AJ as well as provide a bunch of fresh match ups.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more AJPW 2013!
This final installment of my brief look into AJPW in 2012 takes place on 11/27/12. There's some other stuff on the show but I'm giving you the last 3 matches as those interested me most.
Masakatsu Funaki/Masayuki Kono/Minoru Tanaka/Koji Kanemoto -vs- KENSO/Hiroshi Yamato/Kaz Hayashi/Shuji Kondo : A very good 8 man match that I was surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did. The opening was pretty exciting but a good portion was Yamato getting his ass kicked by the very dangerous Stack of Arms team. His comeback and tag out to KENSO was really great! He is a fantastic AJPW-as-Indie star. The finishing section was really good and at 16 minutes this was well paced. A good story, nice action and an impressive ending - this was quite enjoyable.
Takao Omori/Manabu Soya -vs- Taiyo Kea/Seiya Sanada- Great Real World Tag match! Hard hitting, excellent grappling, tons of heart and although we don't get a definitive outcome, this was top notch stuff. Everyone was just on the top of their game.
Akebono/Ryota Hama -vs- Suwama/Joe Doering - Hama is a big fat guy like Jerry Blackwell who can work. He works best with hard hitters such as SUWAMA & Doering. Akebono is more like Bill Kazmier - a great perhaps legendary athlete from another sport who has the build and aura that would work in wrestling but it just doesn't belong in the ring. That being said, this was a good match especially when Hama was in the ring. Akebono is overpowered or Doering & SUWAMA are nerfed when he's in the ring. The previous match is your real main event. but this has its moments. I can't wait to see Doeing & SUWAMA (Last Revolution) in a real match.
2012 AJ has been pretty good. Daisuke Sekimoto had the two best matches of the year with SUWAMA in singles and tag in March. Since then there has been a smattering of great stuff especially tags. 2013 marks the beginning of the Akiyama era and the exodus of some of the Muto loyalists to form Wrestle-1, RIP. So I'd recommend checking some stuff out from this period. I was pretty brief but tried to pick out quality stuff with no reviews available. So now you've got mine to help guide you a little bit. I'm sure you'll find some more diamonds in the rough.
Thanks for reading folks!
Nick Bockwinkel v. Jumbo Tsuruta (AWA Title, 07/13/83): It was 30 minutes or so and was very much a match from 1983 in a technical style. Its Bockwinkel vs Jumbo but its not a classic or anything. But man is this quality stuff. Jumbo's jumping knee never looked better and Bock's pile driver was deadly. This is their first encounter that I have in my dvds. So I'm hoping that things get better and better. I would say this is ***3/4. My feeling is that it never kicked into top gear. We never got Nick at his most crafty or Jumbo at his most brutal ('83 Jumbo at least). I really think this could have been stronger in that department. Or could have had a stronger story. Its a very good match but right under being a great one.
Dory and Terry Funk/Baba v. Bruiser Brody/Stan Hansen/Terry Gordy (08/30/83): 6 man matches weren't as common in AJPW as they would become in the late 80's and thereafter. However that fact does not diminish the quality or excitement of this bout. A day before Terry's "retirement" match we see the heart of AJPW take on the titans of AJPW. This one is as wild as expected - stiff hits, double teams, blood and post match bedlam. My dad loves this type of wrestling and I know he would dig this match. Great action & feverish pace makes this great.
Thanks for reading!
The DVD is listed as 06/01/2012 but as we see from the actual show, it takes place 05/20/12. In case you are joining me now, this is not going to be a comprehensive look at 2012 All Japan. Its more like a few snapshots to pique your interest. Let's go!
Minoru Tanaka -vs- Yasufumi Nakanoue - Good opening match. Vet vs newcomer
Kaz Hayashi, Shuji Kondo & Azteca -vs- KAI, MAZADA & Hiroshi Yamato - Really good 12 minutes of cool moves and action. I was really surprised by this. Started as just plain old fun but got really exciting in the last half. Kinda reminded me of a Indie puro match with the mash up of talent. Shoot, AJ is pretty much an Indie fed at this point. That's fine by me!
Taiyo Kea/Masa Fuchi -vs- KENSO/Masao Inoue - Good comedy with Fuchi and good action when it was KENSO vs Kea. Thought about skipping because Inoue & Fuchi don't have much left in the tank but it was a fun match!
Akebono -vs- Ryota Hama - skipped, Hama & Akebono don't need to face off.
Kohei Suwama -vs- Masayuki Kono - This started off hot and never let up. It was a slug-fest with an excellent closing few minutes. The downside was that it was very "samey" with a lot of elbows thrown especially at the start. But they were stiff ones and not the limp taps you've seen lately. Things got very good and I don't want to spoil anything but there actually was a story! Kono is a big dude on Masakatsu Funaki's squad but isn't a player beyond tag matches. Here he has a chance to fight the ace of " indie" AJPW who recently lost the title. Tonight is the night when he can knock out SUWAMA. Can SUWAMA prove he's still got it or does he move aside and let Kono take his spot? For real this is the best Kono match I've seen. Very meat & potatoes WAR match here.
Takao Omori/Manabu Soya -vs- Seiya Sanada/Joe Doering - Tag title fight. Get Wild vs the seemingly slapped together team of Sanada & Joe Doering who as the video package shows have the answer for Soya & Omori's strong style. Joe can match power and Sanada can put the champs away with his technique. Its a very good to great match with a surprising finish. It is not a classic encounter but is an excellent main event to an extremely enjoyable AJPW show.
I got this show by accident as the wrong show was burned onto the disc. I'm not one to complain so I thought I'd enjoy it nonetheless. And I did! It is not a blow away amazing show but for the $3 spent, it was money well spent. If you're interested, check it out. I think there's one more installment of 2012 AJPW.
Be safe folks and thank you for reading
I received this from eBay instead of the Best of Abyss DVD. I'm not one to make a big stink especially since I wasn't dead set on the Abyss tape. Plus this is a pretty damn good ppv...
Jay Lethal vs. Alex Shelley vs. Senshi vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Austin Starr (Paparazzi Championship Series Five Man Elimination Match) - Austin Starr is Austin Aries and Senshi is Low-Ki. Very good multi man match, the paparazzi stuff has something to do with Shelley &Aries' gimmick under the tutelage of Kevin Nash. Who cares but all that talent in one ring, that's worthwhile.
Christopher Daniels (c) vs. Chris Sabin - Great match much like the previous match. Both guys in 2006, hard to go wrong.
Rhino vs. AJ Styles - Not a giant Rhino fan but man this was great! Basically starts as an ECW brawl and you've got a big man and a guy who'll bump for him. Lots a of hate and great spots. Finish was pretty good given the story.
America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) (w/Gail Kim) vs. LAX (Flag Ladder Tag Team Match): Very good, all spots really but it was entertaining and crazy at times but I thought the gimmick finish was typical TNA. It sets up one of the best TNA matches (Harris vs Storm) but still...
Abyss (c) (w/James Mitchell) vs. Sting vs. Christian Cage - This was pretty good even though the finish was TNA at its worst putting an angle over match quality and happy fans at the end. I honestly don't know how the finish even made sense.
Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe - The rematch and a re-watch. They cleverly tease another TNA finish but it isn't to be and we get a clean finish and a classic match. Kurt was pretty much in business for himself here but it works out in the end.
This was a nice time capsule and totally was worth keeping. This type of stuff is what got me back into new wrestling after college. This is a stacked roster and they put on a really good show and the main event delivered.
Thanks for reading!
Hello and welcome to my end of the year Best Match Watched list! Its like your Match of the Year lists but isn't limited to matches that took place this calendar year. Obviously, right? I haven't watched much of anything from 2021. Let's take a look at the first part of this year's viewing.
Tiger Mask vs Pete Roberts (09/10/82 NJPW)
Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06/98 FMW)
Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW)
Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW)
Tetushiro Kuroda vs Masato Tanaka (06/19/98 FMW)
Hisakatsu Oya vs Tetsuhiro Kuroda (12/12/98 FMW)
Abdullah Kobayashi vs Daisuke Sekimoto (07/22/05 BJW)
Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Rave & Shingo (FIP New Year's Classic 2007)
Tyler Black vs Roderick Strong (FIP Heatstroke '07 Night 1)
Honorable Mention Tag Matches - Gotta show some love to the tag matches that just missed the cut:
Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Black Tiger & Pete Roberts (08/27/82 NJPW)
Jado & Gedo vs Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (05/05/98 FMW)
Hayabusa &Tanaka vs W*ing Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki (05/27/98 FMW)
BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe (FIP Third Year Anniversary)
And let's see what the second half of 2021 had for us:
Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (Dangerous Intentions 2008 FIP)
Erick Stevens vs Go Shiozaki (Heatstroke 2008 FIP)
AJ Styles vs Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (Aftershock Hopkins 2015 ROH)
Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong (Fallout 2008 FIP)
CM Punk vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003 ROH)
Jun Kasai, Men's Teioh, Y. Miyamoto & Jaki Numazawa vs Abby Kobayashi, T. Sasaki, MASADA, Shadow WX (01/02/07 BJW)
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (Turning Point 11/09 TNA)
Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (02/03/83 NJPW)
Strong BJW vs Suwama & Takumi Soya (03/20/12 AJPW)
Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (06/02/83 NJPW)
Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/14/83 NJPW)
Jay Lethal vs Kenny King (Global Wars Toronto 2018 ROH)
Genichiro Tenryu vs Ashura Hara (04/12/86 AJPW)
Sting vs Kurt Angle (Empty Arena Match Impact 2009 TNA)
Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle (Turning Point 11/09 TNA)
-Re-watch honorable mentions:
These don't count towards my BMW but I give high recommendations.
Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong (Battle of Los Angeles 2011 PWG) Classic match
Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (Titannica 2010 PWG) Classic match
Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid (04/21/83 NJPW) Classic match
-Wrestler of the Year -
Wrestler of the year is between Roderick Strong, Hayabusa, AJ Styles and Tiger Mask. AJ and Hayabusa had some really awesome battles the first half of the year. Styles just shined in everything I saw him in. Tiger and Roddy were ubiquitous in 2021 though. Strong was the ace of FIP and although I won't count his PWG matches but he killed it there. But you might have guessed, Tiger Mask is the wrestler of the year. Tiger Sayama had fantastic matches in a variety of styles and with a variety of opponents. Beyond that he was so damn innovative and had battles that looked & felt 10 and even 20 years ahead of their time.
-Feud of the Year-
Hayabusa/FMW vs Team No Respect had some really great encounters but fizzles out with the multi man matches. Erick Stevens vs the world in FIP was pretty damn compelling stuff and he had some of FIP's best singles bouts in the process. Homicide vs Corino was only a couple matches but was some of the most intense stuff of the year. Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask was the best feud though. But the match quality and intensity of each match really elevated it above all else.
-Match of the Year -
In all honesty, its tough for me to pick anything that rose above the rest. Everything listed was fantastic but I really had to go through my notes and blog posts to remind myself what was an all-time classic match. I think I'm going back to the first half of the year. Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW), Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW), and Daisuke Sekimoto vs Abdullah Kobayashi (07/22/05 BJW) are my single match picks. Sekimoto vs Abby Jr. is very stylistically similar to the FMW bouts. The best tag match is the Sekimoto & Okabayashi vs Suwama & T. Soya from All Japan 2012. But I really recommend Roddy & Jack Evans vs Jimmy Rave (RIP) & Shingo in FIP as well. All that said the best match watched of 2021 was Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) due to the historical depth and the "deep" selling by Gannosuke. The wrestlers ' past, the stakes, the story of the match itself. It is comparable to a Misawa vs Kawada classic while still being FMW. That's a perfect combination for me. And one that I didn't know existed. If I was actively following FMW in 1998 and saw this when I was 14, I would have been flipping out!
-Closing Remarks -
I'll be frank: Check out the 6 disc Tiger Mask DVD set. Check out some of the FIP DVDs before they are gone. I really feel like those are going to be lost to time just for the mere fact that other FIP reviews are so hard to find online. And I'm not seeing much variety of DVDs on eBay. The BJW matches are also nearly lost media in my view. They just haven't gotten the hype that AJ, NOAH & especially NJPW have gotten. All of the above are for sale at Highspots. Not shilling here but trying to get you pointed in the right direction if you're wondering. Of course, check out what you can online as well. My goal for the blog is to provide some kind of record of wrestling soon to be forgotten. Its imperfect and biased but hopefully it encourages people to look to the past, give something a chance or even a second look.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope that I've given you some enjoyment as well as some inspiration. Keep exploring! Stay safe folks and see you in 2022
In October, it was announced that Ring of Honor would be taking time off from Jan-March of 2022. The hiatus would end with Supercard of Honor. In the meantime, portion of the roster would be let go at the end of the year while others would be let go in early 2022. Many including myself believed this was the end of the road for the promotion. I'm not sure calling the Final Battle 2021 'End of an Era' helped dispel our speculation. I just posted on ROH thread that I thought AEW might have some interest in the brand especially with so many former ROH now AEW stars participating in Final Battle.
After Final Battle ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff did the ROH Strong podcast to talk about all of this. I've never listened to this podcast and I am guessing many of you haven't either. I had no intention of starting with listening to a suit talk corporate talk for an hour plus. That being said, it also seemed like the only place we were going to get actual details on what's to become of the organization. Again, there's just a lot of speculation floating around by both people in the business and fans alike.
I'm going to give you my take aways from the 80 min. long interview. Its actually a pretty easy listen and Koff really seems to have a sincere affection for the fans, employees, and promotion as a whole. They begin by talking about Final Battle and the events that transpired with the tributes, matches, guest appearances and having the Lethal vs Gresham main event with Bandido being pulled due to COVID. Then there's a bunch of thanks given to Delirious (referred by his real name). What's odd is that they do seem to refer to things in the past tense. As in saying WAS instead of saying IS. I didn't make notes on this because they hadn't started talking about the hiatus and etc. But it did seem to initially corroborate speculations.
They get to the meat and Koff starts by saying ROH's plans for 2020 were to start a live weekly TV taping ala RAW. So 52 live episodes per week. Perhaps live to tape like the late night talk shows. Additionally they wanted to have a fixed time across the Sinclair stations so it would appear the same time on every station so 22 The Point here in Pittsburgh would have it the same time as WUAB in Cleveland as in wherever else...again like most wrestling shows. Anyhow COVID happened and that plan got shot to shit. ROH then showed a few months worth of best of shows (we'll get back to that) and eventually came back with the Pure Title Tournament (see my past posts about that). He mentions in the meantime AEW has grown and IMO ROH has stagnated. They have done the best job in keeping people safe in terms of their and the Maryland Athletic comissions COVID protocols. Koff seemed please in keeping fans and staff safe although probably wouldn't have been a strict.
Koff is adamant that Ring of Honor is not going out of business. Its not a matter of IF they come back its a matter of WHEN. They are "re-imagining" Ring of Honor. He does not express what this means (I'll take some guesses). He did say the plan is to cease matches and plans of touring until March when the plan is to return with Supercard of Honor. Koff said they will still be having TV shows in that time. I assume they have some stuff already taped and may do a year end retrospective. But more interesting is Koff remarked that ratings were positive for the Best Of shows in the Spring and Summer of 2020. In case you missed these, each week would feature a wrestler or team and showcase usually 3 standout matches during the ROH career or since Sinclair owned the promotion. If we read between the lines of what Joe Koff was saying, it sounds like this will be the plan from Jan-March. He said the shows without matches did really well (paraphasing). Well there's no ROH episode without matches but he must mean this from a production standpoint. So no matches booked, produced (filmed, lit, etc.) and wrestled.
He was very careful not to give anything away for the future but repeated 're-imagine' and emphasis on the fans importance and 'focus on fans.' What this means I don't know and now comes the speculation - Informed speculation. At the end, I'll say what I'd like to see but this section is more interpretation of what Koff has said. First, I really believe this hiatus period of Jan-March will be Best Of episodes using ROH's back catalog. This will do well in the ratings while requiring minimal production and staff. This keeps ROH on TV while keeping fans happy. I think one thing everyone wants is easier access to ROH's back catalog even if its just 2011-2021. There's some really awesome stuff in there that I don't believe is even available on ROH's Honor Club service. I'm getting ahead of myself. I think COVID is a big part of letting go of talent and taking a hiatus. They were trying to wait the pandemic out while other companies eventually said screw it. Ethically I agree with ROH. Financially though this was pretty bad. They have had no show revenue for 2 years! This 3 month period is a time to hibernate and slow the bleeding as well as wait COVID out a little longer.
In regards to his emphasis on the fans, I would think this means more social media activity but also listening to what the fans want in terms of booking. I don't think they will do away with Delirious but they will give fans more input as they do with The Experience shows and Unauthorized where people vote on matches or stipulations. I think they may have some folks pay more attention to what fans are saying online and booking with instead of against those opinions. Oh one other thing I remember is regarding the Forbidden Door. People believe Final Battle 2021 shows that ROH will be working with other promotions like AEW and Impact. Koff was quick to say there never has been a Forbidden Door with ROH. This is true and good of him to say this. ROH was THE promotion that worked with other companies - Zero-1, AJPW, Dragon Gate, NJPW, NOAH, Chikara, CZW, CMLL, and of course they had a working relationship with TNA on and off for awhile. WWF used to do it with ECW. I mean the NWA was before all of that! So anyhow, I do see this as a very real possibility. This is something the fans want to see. Fans of puro have been privy to this for the past 20 years. But the hope is that the AEW fans who jumped ship with the Elite and other talent will come back to ROH even if only on occasion. I think everyone would want another ALL IN level show down the road. Koff remarked that one of his best memories was doing ALL IN even though the aftermath was less than desirable. Could we see something like this in March for a true Supercard of Honor?
That's what I've got as far as informed speculation. Koff didn't show his cards past what they are going to do in the meantime. He was pretty firm about Ring of Honor not going away. It would just be coming back different. I'm going to go bat-shit with the ideas. One thing I've thought of is having the majority of ROH's TV show be flashback matches along with promos all themed toward upcoming PPVs or which could be teased on AEW TV perhaps. This all depends on who ROH wants to keep or build around. I would love to see ROH focus on the Pure Rules or guys like Gresham, Tracy Williams. The ROH product will focus on a core group of guys but various talent will be brought in from the Indies or elsewhere (AEW, Mexico, Japan) to challenge them. Those guys and girls would venture out on occasion as well. This would be similar to the NWA territory days. Essentially re-unifying and sharing talent after Vince tore it apart 35 years ago. Again we have seen this in Japan in the 2000's Pro Wrestling Love Era. Again, we kinda would see this with TNA, PWG and ROH for awhile...I think we can see it again. I'd love to see this along with classic matches every week or two.
So I don't think ROH is going to dissolve. I know ROH has put their back catalog out for the highest bidder so I think if someone gave them the right dollar amount for that and everything, they would take it. Koff is a businessman as he reminds us at the end of the podcast. I just don't know if that'll happen. OR maybe that is exactly how this is all going to go down... AEW buys ROH then they do like a RAW vs Smackdown thing with them? Or perhaps they will cut enough costs and re-envision their business model to work better work around COVID. They are very adaptable as Koff said and I believe him. But then again, business is business.
Thanks for reading! Just had all of that floating around in my head so I hope it makes sense.
Kaitlin Diemond vs Karen Q - sorry, I skipped it. Long show for me.
Chuck Taylor vs Adam Page - From last night's main event, we get a really good opening match. Seriously, this felt like a regular ROH opener compared to the previous show in Buffalo. That's even with me skipping matches too. The Buffalo show was anemic up until the Silas vs Juice match. This was just as good as that and we really haven't gotten started!
Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Tetsuya Naito/BUSHI - What is Naito doing this low on the card? Ian, Colt and Caprice (I thought I missed Colt when he left but man I'm just a fan of Ian & Cedric together) indicate that Cody won't be on the show due to injury so they had to shuffle the card a bit. I guess that's part of why we get Page vs Chuck and this tag match. This is surprisingly good. Its sleep walking Naito and Bushi vs Vinny &TK probably having one of their biggest matches. It was rough around the edges but damn they brought just about everything that they have.
With that said, I'm going note how despite this being a Global Wars tour, there's been a pretty meager NJPW presence. I'm not counting Juice because he's stylistically American. Other than Kushida, the LIJ guys have not really done anything to blow my socks off. If I was a younger fan, it'd be cool just to see them but in my heart, I'd be disappointed. Kinda like Kenta vs Misawa in ROH in 2008. It was cool and historical but not the all time classic we wanted. Well here ROH isn't even giving us fans the opportunity for top shelf performances. You stick main eventers in the mid card or below the top couple matches then I'll have to ask "why bother bringing them over?" It draws I guess but it doesn't seem to be productive long term. But heck I'm talk about stuff 3years ago! Next match!
Matt Taven vs Christopher Daniels - Good match with few surprises though. I'm not complaining because its doing its job & I like both guys. But its wrecked by more interference leading to the finish. Is this fucking WCW?
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs EVIL/SANADA - Best Bout so far. Mark and Jay just beat Sanada like its Japan. Sanada and EVIL get steamed and man we get a very very good match. Its what you want and kicks into high gear but damn! We get another cheap finish. Come on! Can't they get a clean finish booked? Heck don't do 2 in a row at least...I wouldn't have minded this one if they didn't do something cheap right before this one. Everything that came before was really good stuff though so I still liked this overall.
Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon - I wish they would have given this at least 2-3 more minutes. It was over before it had a chance to get into high gear. Nonetheless, this technically was the best match this far. Flip hurt his leg and Gresham went after it in some very clever and punishing ways. Flip, to his credit, sold it quite well. I mean actually the best selling we've seen all tour sans Sabin vs Lethal last show. He hesitated on his movements, collapsed when he could have capitalized, and carried it through to the finish. Had this been a little longer, this would have been a great contest. Instead, they had to rush the finishing portion and wrap it up just too soon.
Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs Super Smash Bros - ROH Tag Title Match - Yeah boy! This is what I'm talking! 12-13 minutes of straight bananas junior tag action. It was exactly what the show needed at just the right time. You could say that it was foolish to make this a title match since it telegraphs the outcome. But having the Smash Bros on here vs Kaz & Scorpio is all that matters. Great match, a blast!
Trent Beretta vs Juice Robinson - This was supposed to be Trent vs Cody but the American Nightmare is injured. So they booked this instead. Seeing as both are NJ guys moreso than ROH, they fought this like a NJ match. Juice damn near died on a missed cannonball/rolling senton into and over the guardrail. You know the fans have changed because no one was chanting 'holy shit! Holy Shit!'. If there was a time to chant it, this was the time! From there they told the story of Juice hurting his back and Trent hurting his ribs. They weren't going to live and die on this story but it gave the middle of the bout substance. It was a means to explain why they were laboring to get to their feet and pull off their moves. I prefer this to plain old ' we're tired' or 'we're loopy'. The whole thing was excellent and really made me want to see more of Trent & Juice. They did exactly what the Global Wars tour is meant to do. Expose folks to new/different guys and make ROH seem like the place to watch. Near classic match, like ****1/4+ type stuff. Almost 20 minutes 'vintage' ROH action. The last three fights actually resemble Ring of Honor of old.
Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Young Bucks - Another great tag match. I think having this after the Smash Bros one may have hurt it some. I waited a day to watch this but felt it didn't rock my world like that one did. Also seeing a few Young Bucks shows the past week or two diminished the pizzazz if their spots. They are less spontaneous than they seem after you've seen them a few times but n close proximity.That's one of my biggest issues with them. That all said, this is an all over the place crazy sequence heavy match. I am a fan of Superkicks as they add a bit of ferocity to what sometimes appears to be a gymnastics or acrobatics routine. All 4 guys did an excellent job pulling that off though. I wish we got to see more Kushida on his own in the Global Wars tour. Since these matches have all been free for alls, I didn't feel like I got to see what he was all about. Nonetheless, he's a talent and if I were younger, this match would have been mind blowing along with the SCU/Smash match.
Jay Lethal vs Kenny King - ROH World Title Match - I remember really digging Kenny King's push back in 2018. I would catch ROH TV here and there. His hunt for Lethal was engaging so I am psyched to see this match. Even more so after watching him develop in FIP this past viewing year. He is a talent so to now see him with a larger frame and a killer instinct, he seems ready to take it to champ Jay Lethal. Jay Lethal 2018-present has been one of the best at making everything he's in seem important. So although the Toronto fans may not have had the energy for this, it was a helluva title fight between two rivals. 20+ minutes of intense and exciting wrestling. I wouldn't say it is perfect but it is a fantastic main event and end to the Global Wars tour. A classic match to me.
This without a doubt is the best show of the tour and although the Global Wars title might not be accurate, it still was high quality modern wrestling. This show is packaged with the Lowell, Lewiston, and Buffalo shows. It runs for $10.00-2.50 (the lowest was a black Friday deal) but even if you spent the $10 it would be worth it. A word to the wise ROH's S&H is kinda high so plan on getting a couple things to offset the cost. But yeah, a fantastic show in Toronto and a smattering of very good to great stuff across the other 3 dvds...including the excellent Sabin vs Lethal match in Buffalo ...this is a no brainer.
Thanks for reading! Hoping to take a rest for the next few days. Then I'll post my year end Best Match Watched list and any superlatives I want to mention. Stay safe folks