Texas and Ring of Honor don't necessarily go together on paper do they? I think of the Northeast and Midwest when thinking of ROH but, here they are in San Antonio, June 1st, 2013. The fans are enthusiastic and the wrestlers are game so, let's take a look.
Kyle O'Reilly vs Mike Sydal: Matt's younger brother vs one half of the tag champion reDRagon. This is a fine opener that makes Sydal look credible and make Kyle look like a rightful champ.
A local TV anchor comes out and talks a bit and Steve Corino decides its his job to give this guy a hard time. Mark Briscoe doesn't need a reason to fight and comes out to defend the fellow. This appears as an unscheduled contest but, it is advertised as Briscoe vs a mystery SCUM member. It as if there was another match scheduled but, they said 'screw it...this will count.' I've no problem with this whole setup and 'improvised' brawl...It was actually tons of fun. It's just goofy to have Kevin Kelly talk about a mystery match at the top of the show and then, a seemingly organic occurrence was in fact the booked match. It's kind of a Toto pulling at the Wizard's curtain moment.
Now back to our 'scheduled' contests
Barbie Hayden vs Athena: There was a real good face/heel dynamic in this match. I unfairly figured Barbie would be all looks and no talent but, that notion was a testament to her abilities as a hot shit heel. Athena conversely shined to some great reactions from the crowd. A simple but, very good match. Nice to see Women of Honor on a DVD.
Eddie Edwards vs Matt Taven: This is for a shot at Taven's TV title which seems silly since Edwards was a former World Champ and shouldn't need to fight for a title shot. That issue nonwithstanding, this was a damn great contest. I dare say a classic ROH bout. The work was snug and energetic, there were good moments of crowd interaction, and the shifts in momentum felt natural. Both guys are from Boston so, I can only think they've worked with each other on the way up based on this match. It was that good.
Jay Lethal vs ACH: These guys had a tough act to follow but, they answered the challenge. By engaging in a high energy game of human chess, Lethal and ACH wowed the crowd with another great match. It wasn't a classic like the Taven/Edwards battle but, it was different and exciting in it's own right.
Bobby Fish vs Raymond Rowe: This was the slow down match yet it still came through with fierce strikes and suplexes. A good match.
Roderick Strong vs Adam Cole: Its apparent to me now that this is a stacked card. My goodness. Here we have a ROH vet taking on the rising star Adam Cole. For those who know these two, this was exactly the match you wanted- back and forth action with both men pushing the pace and intensity. It was a near classic encounter. And that got me thinking about the overlooked list of great to all time classics of Roderick Strong. 2004-2016 in ROH (and PWG and TNA) is longer than any of his contemporaries like Danielson, Aries, Joe, Black/Rollins, Davey etc and later competitors like Cole. And because of that, Strong has been able to have a 12 catalog of great matches with the biggest talents of the last 2 generations of talent. Think about his multiman GenNext matches vs the Embassy, Aries & Strong tag champs, vs Bryan, Nigel, the Japanese talent of the later Gabe days, against Davey, Eddie, Steenerico, the Briscoes, his feud with Erick Stevens and the FIP belt blah, blah, blah it's insane really...and that's the last decade.
Michael Elgin & BJ Whitmer vs Rhett Titus & Jimmy Jacobs: Wow, this was the first tag match of the night. Well, uh it was a good one despite going longer than it needed to. Still a good cool down for the main even, which given the fantastic singles match, was needed.
Jay Briscoe vs Davey Richards: Title belt on the line. I was hesitant about Davey going into this. His stuff with the reDRagons left much to be desired in terms of patented Richards aggression. Seriously, I take the goofy Andy Serkis facial expressions over hammy wolf cries any day. So, I was not feeling well when this started out with PWG-like crowd participation wrestling. However, that fear was eliminated as this turned into a bona-fide slobber knocker! I mean they beat each other black & blue! Davey was in full maniac mode and Jay was his damn confident reliable self. So, I became fully engaged as both competitors are so evenly matched that the threshold of victory or defeat was razor thin. I gotta say this was another near classic match. It was the result of two peers understanding each others' strengths & weaknesses and erring on the side of simplicity. Hey this may be due to the smaller B-show crowd but, clearly there's something to be said when there's not that Big City - Big Show pressure to deliver a MOTYC.
So, that being said this is a amazing show and a must see! If you are cool with old school ROH production and venue then, you ought to pick this up. It's still floating around on DVD so, get this while you can.
Thanks for reading!
Now we're back on track to the proper reDRagon retrospective. This would now be Chapter 3 in the ROH DVD set. It's the most substantial one. So, let's just jump in!
vs The Briscoes (11th Anniversary show): The tag straps is on the line boy! That's my Briscoe impersonation. You try now. It was fun right? That's something the Sandy Fork brothers have that most ROH wrestlers lack- a good character & gimmick. Everyone at this point in time is a "great" or "phenomenal" athlete but, shallow in the personality department. The reDragon (is that plural?) are kind of inching towards one but, Mark & Jay are the men when it comes to personas. That brings so much fun, intensity, and overall interest to the match. So, here we have the cocky MMAthletes vs the rough & tumble rednecks. That elevates a very good match with good action and fun teamwork to a near classic match. There's something to sink your teeth into in terms of a story or purpose...and that makes all of the difference.
We get a promo that helps develop Bobby and especially Kyle over as cocky better-than-you asshole heels. I like it!
vs American Wolves (Super Card of Honor XXXVI no I'm kidding...it's VII (7)): This had moments of brilliance and moments of absolute 2010's tandem move bullshit. Make it look like wrestling and not Icecapades dudes! ('member Icecapades?). This stuff can work in a comedy setting but, it just doesn't work when these guys are supposed to be all badasses (contantly mentioning Eddie & Bobby in NOAH reinforces that). Seriously, give me NOAH-style because this really is too cute by comparison. This is a preference and perhaps the biggest letdown. They could have put on brutal battles like Davey & KENTA vs Aries & Strong from late 2006. The components are there but, this really felt like a long TV match. So, its not truly bad or even a hard definitive negative, just don't expect these to be classics. That being said, this was a highly enjoyable fight and totally, totally worth a watch and probably a great match all said and done. It's just this is a mainly Puro blog so I use that as my measuring stick. And seeing how Davey, Bobby, and Eddie had been in NOAH, I see no reason they couldn't have done a NOAH level tag match but, I'm not the one taking chops and kicks... So let's say a great modern ROH tag match. That might be reasonable...
vs the Briscoes (Dragon's Reign 05/11/13): B-show sweetness! This show is probably available for sale still. It's gotten some recommendations back in the day and based off this match, I can agree. We get a classic tag dynamic here with the heel DRagons targeting the ROH champ Jay Briscoe. They do some very nice work on his arm and Jay is selling it. You want that goofy madman Mark in there to bail his bro out. His Redneck kung fu is goofy but, fun and is really a red herring for his high impact offense which still pleases me to this day. Sure, it's not a shooting star press off a lighting rig but, I know that bastard's got it in him! And the element of unpredictable danger means a lot! That being said, this doesn't hit A-show top gear but, this was a great all around match and perhaps another near classic for the two teams. It's clear to me that Fish and O' Reilly work best with the tag vet Briscoes.
Whew! That was a very good chunk of wrestling. Next round, I'll interrupt Chapter 3 to look at the very underrated Honor in the Heart of Texas show from 2013. The reDragons have some singles matches but, those are only filler between some truly awesome match-ups like Roddy vs Adam Cole. Seeya then
Thanks for reading!
So, before I continue with the reDRagons set, I'd like to review this show from January of 2013. Now, in case you were wondering, this isn't some essential show to Fish and O'Reilly's story. It just so happens that I have a few ROH DVDs that I've been meaning to watch that fit in with this watch-project's chronology. This one has been on sale for awhile and has gotten recommendations. Plus once ROH dvds are gone, they're gone (I just can't do the streaming subscriptions, I learned from my WWE network experience). So, Deny or Defy 2 sounded like a solid show and I bought it. Let's see if it's any good!
Adam Cole vs Silas Young: This was a great opener and a great match overall. Cole is a known talent but, Young should be one as well. He works a more roughneck style now but, here he's doing a more athletic style and it's fantastic. This took me by surprise!
Bobby Fish vs Tadarius Thomas: This was a good quasi shoot style match while still providing Fish a chance to blow bubbles with the crowd. Very good all-around work on his part. It's a dry yet, smart match.
Charlie Haas vs Rhett Titus: Interestingly, Haas is wrestling how Silas Young wrestles now. So, it's a back to basics match. The fans are engaged and Charlie is working the fans to good effect. This may be something you don't necessarily give a shit about but, it is a fun, enjoyable match. Perfect for this spot on the card. I'd rather see these guys now instead of Flip Gordon and Cheeseburger...not to name names. Just saying...
The Briscoes & Jay Lethal vs SCUM (Rhino, Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs): Seeing Rhino & Corino brings back memories and it feels right to have Mark & Jay (who've been with the co. in its original post ECW Philly days) fighting them. It's like ECW never went away and that's what this felt like. Brawl heavy match with some nice moves but, it's more about the characters and a pacing & finish that leaves you wanting more. Great match to me
BJ Whimer vs Matt Hardy: This is a good match but, really it feels like a cool down for the upper card. I might even say this was just OK. I think it served its purpose.
Kyle O'Reilly vs Davey Richards: This was pretty intense and fits perfectly into the Dragon's story arc (although not required). I'll say that Davey is clearly into doing his schtick at this point in his career. It works in a single setting if only because he can't do tandem moves & sequences. Usually it's the opposite for folks as they can do their spots, run around and look great. This doesn't fit Davey's persona though. He's got to go back to full speed ahead ultra aggressive Davey rather than rely upon Eddie's work and throw in hammy wolves spots. So, Kyle is the star of this to me. A very good to perhaps great match. Kinda wanna watch this again now...
Defy or Deny Match: Kevin Steen vs Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong vs Michael Elgin: Elimination matches where no long term booking or planning comes into play are best left brief. I think that is my criticism here. Now, it's a great match (**** range) but, it could have been a classic with the talent in the ring if it had been more concise. And maybe you'll watch this and think it was.That's cool because there were points I was totally thinking that too. But I felt fluff got in the way too often for this to be downright amazing. Let's just say it is a big time main event nonetheless. It certainly felt like the money match and it absolutely worthwhile.
Overall this is a fantastic show and for the sale price is worth checking out. The card flows well, and certainly delivers in terms of consistent quality with 4 out of 7 matches at the **** mark or so. You will want to watch the whole thing. Also if you dig the Undisputed Era guys, this is a excellent show to see what they were doing back in ROH.
The next few entries are going to follow Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly's early days together as reDragon. I'm using the ROH compilation as my main guide but, also have a few show reviews as well. This introductory post covers Chapters 1 & 2 on disc one. It's chill but, things pick up next time. But, let's get started!
Fish vs Claudio Castagnoli (2007): This was an OK match. Fish's ROH debut.
OReilly vs Austin Aries (2010): A good match and Aries was the man at this time period. Don't think this was O'Reilly's debut but, probably his first BIG match.
So Fish re-debuts here to help Kyle O'Reilly pull away from Davey Richards. Will Eddie Edwards get back from Japan in time to help Davey or has that bridge been burned too?
vs The American Wolves (Final Battle 2012): Bobby & Kyle come out and beat up Mike Mondo and Davey comes out. OK whatever...Kevin Kelly says that Eddie hasn't agreed to the tag match and it's a 2 on 1 thing but, of course Edwards comes out. The Wolves are back together if only to kick Fish & Kyle's asses. This was a very good match but, felt more about the Wolves being together and came across as a showcase of that. This would have been a fantastic episode of TV or mid level show ender but, kinda felt small for Final Battle. Moments of superb violence nonetheless.
Then there is a TV Tag Gauntlet (02/13) to determine the #1 contenders. So, I'll do the match-ups one at a time.
a) American Wolves vs Bravado Brothers: Good match, reminds me of a 2010 era PWG opening match.
b) Wolves vs SCUM (Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino): This is a full speed match but amounts to nothing. However, Jacobs and Corino cheap shot the Wolves after the bell which gives Fish & O'Reilly an advantage.
c) Wolves vs ReDRagon: Bobby & Kyle come out with smirks on their faces like smug bastards. This is balls to the wall especially for TV. Davey & Eddie do their synchronized swimming but, Dragons look/feel like they're in their having a fight to win. Head kick brainbuster combo collapses Edwards upon himself. Very good match
Next time, we'll see more versus the American Wolves as well as Dem Boys, the Briscoes!
Thanks for reading
Surfing around Youtube and found a neat bunch of Junior matches from the IWA Puerto Rico which was sorta kinda linked to the much loved IWA Japan while Victor Quinones was alive. Afterwards, eh I'm not sure...but, with talent from Japan, the US Indies, Mexico and Puerto Rico, it has Quinones' stylistic stamp on it.
Taka Michinoku & Pepe Prado v Super Crazy & Rey Bucanero: Nice fun tag match. TAKA & Crazy is sorta a dream match fulfilled. Maybe it happened in WWE n the early 2000's but, I didn't see it! Pepe and Bucanero are equally great. Not a ton of substance as will be a theme but, an enjoyable Jr match.
Super Crazy vs Tajiri: An earlier encounter of this epic pairing but, it was no less spectacular. Heck, it was spectacular by today's standards. This was slightly clipped but what was shown from the 5 minute match was very good. Crazy is not as polished as he would be but, it doesn't matter especially in this setting. If it has been 15 years since you've seen these guys wrestle one another, do yourself a favor- take the Youtube time machine, it's worth it!
Antifaz vs Tiger Mask IV: 5+ minutes of fireworks and damn was this good! It's hard to rate this as a very good or great match at just around 5 minutes but, this was clawing at those accolades. These guys had great chemistry and a good face/heel dynamic. For ECW fans that remember Antifaz del Norte check this out. He is/was as awesome as you remember. TM IV reminded me of Ultimo Dragon. He was very smooth with his roll-ups, his kicks were crisp but not too stiff for the setting, and more importantly, the fans were solidly supporting him. That is a big thing here because these folks are as wild and crazy as you want a arena to be. It makes the action that much more exciting.
Christopher Daniels vs Pepe Prado: Prado is good stuff so, he works well with Daniels (who actually has hair). The Fallen Angel hams up his bad guy schtick with the crowd to entertaining results. This was only 6 minutes but, seemed natural for it to go 10+. These two weren't as overtly flashy as the above bouts but, they really had a cohesive and fuller match going.
Tiger Mask IV vs Great Sasuke: M-Pro in Puerto Rico with Sasuke as the cheating heel. That was weird to see but, fun nonetheless. I'll say this was worth seeing as it was crazy stuff BUT was only 3 minutes long. Short enough to get a taste but, totally wishing for more.
TAKA Michinoku vs Reckless Youth: Now would probably be the time to say that all of these guys were assembled for a IWA-PR Jr. Heavyweight tournament. So, imagine like the Ted Petty 2004 in 1999 and Puerto Rico. Or I guess just like the Super J Cup or Best of the Super Jrs.type thing. I think it was a one night tourney hence the shortness of the matches. Anyways, both guys' move execution was flawless. It looked dangerous but, you know they are keeping each other safe. This was a very good bout despite a fast counting ref.
Jeff Hardy vs Super Crazy: Again, maybe this happened in the early 2000s but, this was an interesting match up...at least on paper. It was quick with a ton of highspots but, not real logical in their organization.
Tajiri vs Black Scorpion: JIP, Tajiri already had the goods in 1999. He was a good seller and riled up the crowd which made Scorpion's comebacks that much more rewarding. 6 minutes of probably an 8 minute match.
...and here's where I sorta lost interest in the matches. Don't get me wrong there are probably a few more really good matches including a battle royale that sets up the Jr. Tourney bracket. I watched a few minutes and it reminded me of early TNA X-Division battle royales, in a good way! The thing is that all of the matches are relatively quick and underdeveloped. That is great in that I watched 4 matches in a row but, bad in that I couldn't really say "I loved this match!" I think these are from a TV show so, everything is the cliff notes version of a 10-15 minute match. That being said, these were super fun and great to watch when you don't feel like investing a lot of time and energy into wrestling. I totally hope others check out the other combinations available on this dude or dudettes YT channel.
P.S. Watched Jeff Hardy vs Rasta Man and it was pretty good. No idea on who Rasta Man is/was but, he & Jeff were a good match...although he might not necessarily be a junior by Puerto Rican wrestling standards. Dude was pretty jacked!
Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of the Great Muta. I'm OK with Keiji Muto but, the Muta gimmick just doesn't do it for me. Well, correction...the gimmick is cool but, the work stinks. It's dull. I'm OK with the 90 & 92 Hase bloodfests but, really it was a waste of both guys athleticism and talent. I'm sure they could have put on matches equal to Misawa at that time period but, we get kinda-sorta great matches with a tremendous amount of blood. I was kinda bored with wrestling for a moment (gasp!) so, I thought I'd check out Muta in WCW to see if that did anything for me. It was a random thought that I could entertain and I'm so glad that I did. It began with Steven Regal vs Muta in NJPW actually but, I'll list the matches I watched chronologically for convenience.
Muta vs Eddie Gilbert (WCW/NWA Power Hour 08/12/89) This has a fucking awesome (and I think iconic start) with Missy getting the green mist straight to the faceplate. That was ruthless but, so awesome of a visual! Unfortunately, the rest felt like bland brawling with a fucking nonsense finish. Gilbert wins by pinning Gary Hart. They go to say it's a Anything Goes Match after the bell. What? But you still have to beat your opponent. I mean you can't pin yourself...oh maybe that's what the Finger Poke of Doom was like...after all of these years...it makes sense...still bollocks!
Muta vs Sting (WCW/NWA 09/01/89) A super quick heated start with J-Tex Funk and Gary Hart throwing shade. Muta in full '89 heel mode but, the Stinger is out for blood. The fans are full on freaking out with people literally screaming. You can hear them in the fuzzy 80's audio mix but, especially when they are on the floor. Ross & Cornette frenzied commentary included. Oh God! Sting ate that ring post :@ !!! Ref bump, Gary Hart's in there but, is it enough to keep our neon yellow glad surfer Sting down? Can he outlast Muta? Yeah, I dug this shit.
Muta vs Sting (WCW/NWA Starrcade 1989 12/13/89): They were doing a round robin this night. Muta lost to Flair in a shorter match and Sting lost to...shit...Ron Simmons? Just checked, it was Lex Luger. Ah fuck Luger man...nah I mean he's alright but, anyhow...this was an under 10 minute doozy! Sting & Muta were at their peak in terms of blending new high risk moves at a fast pace but still keeping things simple & smart. This was a blast and a very good match. If you're waiting for your pasta water to boil or the pizza delivery guy, watch this! Plus it's Jim Ross and Terry Funk on commentary. C'mon, you know you want to
Muta vs Arn Anderson (WCW/NWA Powerhour 01/1990) TV title belt is on the line. Double A and Muta were totally clicking in the ring. Muta's moves were really spectacular for this time period and even more so in this TV setting. Again, Corny and Jim Ross were awesome. Buzz Sawyer and my main man Kendo Nagasaki (Dragon Master) were repping J-Tex Corp. What an awesome stable name! The two competitors started solid and kept building this match up. I really love Muta in the WCW as he can't really do the stalling bloodletting like he did in Japan later on. He actually had to wrestle here so, we get Muto with a gimmick. The Pearl of the Orient or do they call him Crown Jewel of the Orient? Probably Pearl - Hahaha! This was another very good match. If you're digging ROH's TV main events as of late, I would highly recommend this one to you. It's very similar to how they are keeping things simple yet exciting.
Muta vs Brad Armstrong (WCW 05/30/92 Saturday Night): This is a 2/3 falls match. This is babyface Muta who was teaming with Sting at the time. Well, had some tags with Sting most notably vs the Steiners at the 92 WCW/NJPW supershow. That was a very good-great match if memory serves me. I'm fairly confident that the Mist will make an appearance by the end of the match. Let's see!
Fall #1: They are evenly matched up trading holds and counter holds. The fans are cheering for both guys which is really cool since that's my feeling too. I mean Brad's cheers are the "USA! USA!" chants but, that's fine. More important is the wrestling! This puppy had it like a case of the fleas. I loved it It was like a 70's match with a slower meaningful holds/counter/escape dynamic with burst of rope running or striking which led back down to the canvas. Great fall with a great finish to me.
Fall #2: This was a more modern for 1992 style and was quickly over. However, it was still smart and believable within the context of the match and each wrestler's standing. Do we see the mist?? Gonna have to watch and find out! I would say this fall was very good.
Frankly, I don't know why this wasn't a single fall match. Well, maybe they wanted to fill time with this match since it was the show's main event. They probably got the signal to wrap it up sometime into the second fall. That's just a business perspective and probably the truth of the matter. If this was give the PWG "Go as long as you fucking want" treatment this could have been a lost '92 classic. Seriously, these guys were so athletic and on point that they could have done a true 2/3 falls banger. Nevertheless, this was still a very good-great match overall. Like ***3/4+ type of rating.
Muta & Hulk Hogan vs Hellraisers (Hawk & Power Warrior) (NJPW 09/23/93): This may be the only time I review a Hogan match but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a good tag match. I can't say there was anything tremndously remarkable than the finish but, they did a good job. Don't get your hopes up about Hogan in Japan though. It's not like he turns into Stan Hansen but, he DRAMATICALLY tones the schtick down but, that fucker can help but ham it up by looking to the crowd at times. He knows he shouldn't do it too because he catches himself and stops. I liked that part in an ironic way. Like let's see if he can hold it together Still, this was a good match that was very much in the 90's NJ heavyweight style but, what could have been a dream match felt like a mid card exhibition. BUT! If you're looking for something with low emotional investment, low attention required, and familiar face, I cannot recommend this match any higher. For all the brown feces I'm throwing at the Hulkster, he was completely adroit in this match.
Muta vs Steve Regal (08/03/97 NJPW): It's Japan so we get the extended Muta entrance. His music sounds like the Coast to Coast AM bumper music Awesome! Muta is rocking the NWO facepaint which looks cool from far away but, up close, it is only a reminder of a shitty period of shitty shit. This was a very good match (surprised at the time) but, they could have done a bit more with this. It seems like Muta found a good place in 89-90 and never moved from there. The highlight was Regal open hand palm striking Muta in the mush. Also somebody ought to look into the legality of the Mist. Right after they look at Abby's fork and Sheik's spike...
BONUS: Muta, Sanada & Yasu vs Chris Sabin, Kazarian & Christopher Daniels (TNA Lockdown 2014): This was tons of fun!! Muta is at the tail end of his career but, the TNA stars keep him in the match by taunting and mocking him. So, when he finally pops on and hits his signatures it feels meaningful rather than, "Hey remember this guy? Watch him do some moves every 145 lb. guy on the Indy circuit does a week after finishing school." That is good. That's how you show respect but, also keep order. Anywho...5 talents in the ring, 10 minutes, this was an excellent popcorn match.
This was a really fun and unexpected journey. Nothing was mindbogglingly awesome but, perceptions of Muta were changed. I'll say that's pretty remarkable! I encourage anyone interested to watch the above matches. There are a few other '89 Muta matches floating around that I might check out because, darn it! They're just a bunch of fun.
Thanks for reading!
I've been a life long fan of wrestling and comic books. The only time I faded from both was in college. Beer, skateboarding and school work took the driver seat during those years. Now that I'm older with no more parties to go to, no more tests to study for and a bad back that allows 1-2 hours of skating a week, wrestling and comics are my go to source of entertainment.
Surprisingly, it's rare for these two mediums to mix however. I'm sure we remember the awful WWF tie-in comics from the late 90's and 2000's. I know Undertaker & Kane had one or two mini-series, ugh. Aside from that I'm not sure what else is out there from the US. I know Love & Rockets feature ladies wrestling from time to time but, I've never picked it up. I don't think it's too much of a focus. The Tiger Mask manga seemed like an option but, availability is an issue. So what else is out there? And is it a quality product? Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri (which has a similiar speed, style and approach to the subject book) was the first title I found that seemed to really nail the action of wrestling while catering to a "smart" audience. It presented wrestling and its story as something deeper than ironic indulgence or the subject of farce. Since, then, I've not really seen anything like it. That is until I stumbled upon The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling by Sitterson & Moreno.
It's a 200+ page overview of the global pop cultural phenomena that is pro wrestling. It's scope covers the 1880's to present day (or at least the high points). It goes fast but, it does a really good job of getting the information across in a focused yet, fun & energetic way. The conciseness is really due to the amount of promotions & personalities it attempts to cover. (See the image of the map of territories. This was the selling point to me.) They very easily could have blown by the NWA territories, the international scenes, and just covered the 1980's US to present with a focus on Turner vs WWF/E to present day. That would have been cool but, not for me.
The best way I can summarize is by sharing my thoughts on the Puroresu chapter since this is, generally speaking, a Puro blog
Chapter Six: Puroresu, Strong Style and King's Road
This chapter, like the others does an excellent job hitting the high points of pro-wrestling history. Just when you think the book will stop at a certain point or topic, it takes it one step further. For instance, it would have been perfectly acceptable to cover Rikidozan, then JWA with Baba & Inoki eventually splitting then time warp to 2010's NJPW explosion. But the authors take the time to explain the difference between King's Road and Strong Style. Furthermore, they go on to show how they've changed throughout the years. They say there is some overlap between the two and how puroresu is truly a hybrid style borrowing the "best" bits from all over the globe and how the world has now borrowed from them. Another 'above and beyond moment' was the inclusion of FMW and the deathmatch/hardcore style. In 2018, Onita and his crew have become sort of a blip on wrestling history radar (like Michinoku Pro who are not included other than by logo and Great Sasuke mentioned for the '94 Super J Cup). So it was awesome to see them along with the killer action panels of Onita eating the wire and Hayabusa Falcon Arrowing Mr. Onita. Double Plus bonus, it goes on to Joshi (if only mentioning AJW in any detail) but, never did I think I'd see Aja Kong, Kyoko, Bull et al in ink.
Now, I cannot say that anything brand new is presented besides Sorakichi Matsuda immigrating to the US in the 1880's and wrestling then, returning back to Japan with hopes of introducing pro-wrestling... Well, I mean that IS pretty new to me BUT it's only 1 page And perhaps that will give you the idea of the pacing of the book. Each page could be it's own comic (AND I would love to see that) but things move rather quickly. The 4 Pillars of AJPW get a box on a page, we get a Burning Hammer box, the 3 Musketeers get another box with Muta getting a nod in a box, etc. Who wouldn't love to see a whole comic devoted to the feuds of Misawa for instance? This is not that book though...Admittedly, as wrestle dorks, we love this kind of stuff, right?
I hope that helped give you a better idea.
Generally speaking, it is well written, informative (especially the older stuff), and penciled, inked, & colored very well. It's not Jim Lee or top art but, it fits a non-fiction documentary type book. The simple style fits the tone perfectly and the color make the action pop off the page. Both do an excellent job creating a relatively linear historical narrative by linking the big personalities to smaller, yet equally important people. They show the development of wrestling through the ages without getting side tracked or kissing butt. Kudos!
If you're getting into wrestling (especially beyond the WWE stuff) and want a fun way to dig deeper then, this is an awesome option to get you started. If comics aren't your thing or you JUST want the historical info then, save your money. I'm sure this is all available in plain black & white text online. If you are a longtime comic fan & wrestling fan though, you should get this book without a doubt
By the way, I'm not associated with the authors/publisher and haven't been compensated, asked to review this book or any shit like that.
Thanks for reading!
I cannot say what exactly prompted me to explore Dragon Gate. My project from a couple months ago looking at DGUSA was perhaps the genesis (I still have one DVD to go). But, I've become a Shingo fan after the AJPW 2018 Champion Carnival . Then, I saw he is/was in this years PWG BOLA. Oh that's what prompted this! yeah, I have a mountain of older PWG DVDs to watch but, I might have check those out. So, let's get on with this!
I'm going to list these in order of viewing so, you can get a better feel for what I saw and have some context for my views.
Shingo Takagi vs YAMATO (Kobe Wrestling Fest 2016): Fucking radical sick match! No seriously this was a great match. YAMATO was trying to put Shingo to sleep or break his arm. That war of attrition really helped draw this out into a longer match without necessarily running through killer moves. The Y-man damaged Shingo's wing which both weakened the effectiveness of his strikes AND kept YAMATO in the fight longer than Takagi's ferocity would normally allow. I say that because this resembled a AJPW match more than Dragon Gate to me. The one con (at first glance) is YAMATO seemed sedate at the start. This was my first Y-Man match so, this could have just been ignorance of his style/mannerisms. Nonetheless, this was a fantastic singles match between my two most favorite DG guys.
KAGETORA vs Dragon Kid (04/06/18): It's nice to see KAGETORA since my 2010 wXx project and Dragon Kid has been cool with me since the DG influx in ROH more than a decade ago. But, something did not click early on with me. I lost interest rather suddenly...Unlike the above match, this resembled Dragon Gate in bad way. I suppose that's shitty of me but, if it's lost me in the first few minutes, it's not worth me working through the match. It's building on a shitty foundation.
BxB Hulk & YAMATO vs Ben-K & Big R Shimuzu (Kobe Fest 07/22/18): Right here I'm going to say this was my favorite match of the whole project. This was Classic tag wrestling! The Big-Ben team is such a back-to-basics team. They remind me of a late 80's AJ team who rely upon energy, effort, and stiffness. Really, the same can be said of YAMATO. BxB Hulk was the weakest participant at the start but, old-age or experience has quieted his flippy tendancies. He's traded that and his dance moves for precision kicks ala Katsu Nakajima. (Speaking of which- check the ref out! The frizzy fro and 70's stache must be a trend in Japan!? Rock it the fuck out dude!!).
More about the match: Ben-K and Big R are rolling like true legendary tag machines (sans the metallic pants). YAMATO is about up top on the "Sorry I slept on this Dude" list along with Shingo. BxB is still creepy but, the dude is axe kicking brain stems and I cannot/will not hate that! Mixed this with their amazing chemistry, basic story, surprises and I'll consider this a classic contemporary tag classic. If you're watching Indy Wrestling or NJ even, you owe it to yourself to watch this bout.
Shingo Takagi vs Masato Yoshino (07/22/18): So, I had high hopes for this but, yeah this was very super disappointing. It was very 1 sided and Yoshino's repeated comebacks were not believable. I might say this was comparable to the 03/26/95 Aja Kong vs Toyota WWWA match. Similarly, some people loved that and some did not. This was just too long and not very good because of that. This would have benefitted from a 2/3 falls stipulation. Instead we get a ton of kickouts and selling shit like death then popping up like a whack-a-mole trying moves at warp speed.
Rysuke Taguchi vs YAMATO (NJPW 05/30/09): Best of the Super Jrs.- Tha Funky Weapon vs the Y-Man- aw yeah! The K-Hall crows is eating this up big time as both dudes are working the crowd. Taguchi starts showing 'Mato that he's NJ elite and powers past any counter attempts. Luck runs out though. Ryusuke is elbowing the Dragon Gater in the face but, YAMATO is actually smiling. Now, it gets straight violent and quiets the crowd. God Bless YAMATO! This is a great match that is truly competitive. Go see this!! Plus NJ has it on their Youtube channel so, you've got no excuses
Jushin Thunder Liger vs YAMATO (NJPW 06/03/09) Again BOSJ match. A shorter fun match between these two talents. Liger is such a puro hero. Again, free and easy on the NJ YT.
YAMATO & Kzy vs CIMA & Ricochet (08/11/17): Ricochet back in DG and YAMATO just wasn't enough for me to get past the first few minutes. Again, this is more of my preference than saying it's crap.
YAMATO & Cyber Kong vs EITA & T-Hawk (12/28/14): A match with clear face/heel roles so, it's hard to screw this up. Both teams impressed but KONG & TOMATO were my team of choice since their stuff was simpler. Hawk & EITA did an excellent job hanging in there with their seniors but, their intensity (or sense of it) was sacrificed for a good performance. That is to say they were being careful. A very good match and Y-Man's star continues to shine.
BxB Hulk vs Shingo Takagi (12/28/14): This had a nice into video showing that these 2 have history. Good enough for me! Petty Meltzer gave this ****1/2 and I could see that but, I felt it was a tad below that. It could have been slimmer but here's my take away notes.
Pros: Nice Appropriate amount of stiffness (Hulk's kicks & Shingo's elbows & lariat), great execution of moves (stuff looked fought over, pulled off in a believable manner), Good pacing despite 30+ minutes
Cons: That being said if this was a couple minutes shorter this would have been a Classic bout.
Despite this not being what I'd call a classic (****1/2-*****), I watched this twice in a row. It is just a blast to watch and totally worth seeking out if any of this stuff appeals to you.
So, yeah! Pretty awesome stuff overall. Dragon Gate isn't my favorite promotion and even from what I saw it can be hit or miss. When it hits though, it hits as well as NJPW or NOAH for me. So, it's no true surprise that Shingo has been called up to be the newest member of Los Ingobernales de Japon. I loved that promo video NJ released and to have Shingo be the man, ah that's awesome! It's not yet time for my 2018 Best Match Viewed awards but, Shingo is damn near locked to win my wrestler of the year pick!
This isn't going to be a full and complete review since I chose (that's right, chose) not to watch some of the more hyped matches. Specifically, I skipped Bullet Club vs CHAOS because I've been watching wrestling long enough to know that throwing a bunch of superstars into one match does not make it good. That's some bone throwing lazy booking of NJPW talent. But, I'm guessing that ROH doesn't have a lot of say-so. Its pretty clear to this walking fart of a man that the NJPW talent is just thrown in there (Liger & Will included) for novelty sake. That's alright but, in this case the 10 man match, it seemed like a step above a Battle Royal match to me. And to have it be second to last, seems wacky considering most of these guys aren't on TV or full time.
Anyways, onto the shit I wanted to see!
Kenny King vs Jushin Thunder Liger - Good God yes! I loved this match especially the finish The selling by both guys made this work- just a fun, fun bout. Liger just keeps on ticking!
The Briscoe Brothers vs The Addiction (Kaz & Daniels): First and foremost, I love the Briscoe's promo videos. This stuff is fantastic and iconic. They have done really well crafting their chracters over the years. They should be lauded for their characters/personas as much as their in-ring abilities. So, that being said, we've got four pillars of the 2000's independent wrestling revolution (?) in the ring and damn can these guys still go. Obviously, it's not all fireworks but, they let 'em fly for awhile until the 2 on 1 story comes into play. I'd have to say this was a great match and up there with the main event. The factor for me was that I've been watching these guys for a long time now and although maybe nothing brand new was done, they told an interesting story, got me invested, and executed it like the masters they are. I'm a sucker for tag matches but, this was great stuff without trying to one-up yourself.
Sumie Sakai vs Tenille Dashwood - WOH championship is being defended by Sumie. This match impressed me. It was very competitive and aggressive. You know Sumie is tough and Dashwood wants to do well in the ring so, they put their best feet forward. It wasn't always pretty but, it was compelling and entertaining. Enjoyed the finish as well. Good match
Jay Lethal vs Will Ospreay: ROH World Title on the line. I've never been a fan of Ospreay but, I respect him. I have a new appreciation of the guy after this match. He was bringing stiff chops & kicks, reduced the superfluous spins and flips, and put some more meat on his bones. He's got a more serious attitude in my beady eyes. I think that he's more stylistically in line with the NJPW Jr. greats of the 90's and it shows here versus the confident Jay Lethal.
Jay is a veteran at this point and his selling and match layout was excellent here. He treated Ospreay as an equal and forced (perhaps) Will to have a World Title fight rather than a fireworks match. Lethal has never really done fireworks and I've always been a fan of his because of that. So, I can't say for certain that it was Lethal keeping Ospreay focused or if Will has controlled himself but, this combination really worked for me.
I've found that to be the case with many, if not all, recent Jay Lethal matches that I've watched- he pairs very well with others. The dude is a damn fine wrestler and has very good to great matches with whomever he's in there with. The tag match with Johnathan Gresham versus Silas Young & Bully Ray on a recent ROH TV episode being a fine example: Technical underdog, big roughneck, seasoned vet yet he still looks & acts like the champ.
So, this match was another very good to great match. There wasn't a ton of backstory but, the action was very engaging, they worked a story, and these two had chemistry. In fact I felt so much chemistry that they could put on a great marquee rivalry. One that ROH needs after the NXT drain. So, it was a very good way to end the PPV/show . They could have just done the Ospreay spectacle with Lethal along for the ride but, instead opted to have a interesting and engaging match that left me wanting more.
Overall, this was a very good show. I'll admit I saw it for free but, I enjoy ROH's product. So, if they keep it up, I might even go to a show or get a PPV or whatever the fuck its called or does nowadays. Honor Club? Seriously, I dig the TV show as it reminds me of old WCW Thunder. They do need some better connection between the TV and major shows though. I'm not asking for WWE scripted poop but, it was weird to discover that John Gresham was in a dark match despite being in 2 great TV main events right before Death Before Dishonor. I'm glad the Ospreay bout was great but, it felt odd for that to be there instead of Bully Ray vs Lethal or a rematch from the TV tag match. A Fight Without Honor match? That have been great as well as give the impression of actual booking. But, uh maybe that WCW Thunder comparison is more accurate than I thought...
I appreciate you taking the time to read! Thanks! Check the show out on the stream club network or DVD or something
This time period in puro is one of my absolute favorites and, due to lack of availability or my cheapness, NJ in 1990 is a little bit of a blind spot. Hell, a bunch of NJ in the early 90's is a blind spot! Regardless, I've come across some stuff recently that I wanted to share. Now, some of this is on the Match Discussion Archives for 1990 when the the Yearbooks project was underway. So, if you want some second & third opinions, I recommend you go there as well.
On to the fights!
Riki Choshu, Koshinaka, Hoshino, Sasaki & Kobayashi vs Super Strong Machine, Hamaguchi, Kurisu, Tatsu Goto & Hiro Saito (06/26/90 2/3 Falls): This is listed as Sekigun vs Blonde Outlaws and I'm making the distinction that it's Tatsu Goto (not Tarzan- see 1990 FMW footy and it'll be apparent) and Hiro Saito (not Masa). Okay, with that clarification, we are on our way to an under-appreciated NJ 10 man match. And what a match! 26 minutes of chaos (not to be confused with CHAOS). This is fast and frenetic as all get-out! There are so many participants and match-ups that really everyone shines. I will say Kensuke Sasaki gets the biggest boost from his performance here. Early and late career Kensuke is a damn enjoyable wrestler. Um, what else without blathering on about specifics?? I thought Falls 1 & 3 were the best but, hey isn't that usually the way? It's just great wrestling and perhaps a classic match at that. It should be in the conversation concerning the legendary NJ multiman matches of the '80-90's. It is really that great- time well spent!
Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka vs Animal Hamaguchi & Masanobu Kurisu (07/19/90): A follow up to the above match. This started out really great but, ended up being just good (***1/2 range). Still K-Man swinging furniture and generally going apeshit on Koshinaka is worth your time. Eventually Animal turns on Kurisu (too much chair?) and then Blonde Outlaws/Raging Staff (see above Super Strong Machine team) jumps Masanobu. But he's as tough as two day old dog shit in the sun, and talks smack on them after the mobbing. Hells yes Curly Sue!!
Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki vs Shiro Koshinaka & Takashi Iizuka (12/13/90): I've been waiting to see this match for like 8 years. It's probably been on the 'tube before now but, my internet was really slow & I was waaayy more into buying DVDs then (probably because of the slow internet!). Anyhow, I finally watch this match and yes! It lived up to my expectations. The action was fantastic and on-par with the AJPW guys at the time. Simple but, rich sequences and cut-offs. Hase was masterful in garnering heat even though he & Kensuke were an underdog team as well. It was that dynamic that made this so special. Hase & Sasaki won the belts by upset a couple months earlier. Were they too going to be upset? Oh man, Iizuka & Koshinaka were so good as the babyfaces. It certainly did not hurt that Iizuka was brutalized by his opponents. Well, I suppose that it HURT him but, you know what I mean! The fans were eating this up and who can blame them? It was so well paced and well built to the climactic final segment that only the most jaded fans would not be rooting for someone. This was a classic tag match and one that does indeed deserve the praise it'd gotten decades ago. I really do wish I had this on DVD afterall, it's got some of my favorite wrestlers of my favorite era putting on a damn fine tag match. If you're one of those people who enjoy the simpler style of late 80's and very early 90's, you really owe it to yourself to watch this match. You may not love it as much as me but, I know you'll have fun.
Shinya Hashimoto vs Masanobu Kurisu (NJ Handheld Date 90-92?): I'm going on the dates that I've seen Kurisu in NJ as well as a ranking conventions. Kurisu had quite a bit of juice in 1990 due to his acclaimed bouts in FMW with Onita earlier in the year. Also, Hashimoto was on the rise but, not to the point where someone like Kurisu wouldn't be a challenge especially if he started brawling. This is just an idea and it's not a tag match but, I'm going to add it on here at the end.
So, K-Man is looking to sneak attack Hash from the outset. The Big Man is too smart or tough for that jazz though (also the view is obscured by a fan's head/back). The two then start wailing away on each other but, man Shinya is driving kicks in like he's up against Kensuke. It's almost TOO much but, Curly Sue is a notoriously tough mamma-jamma. The Strong Style-Graceland disciple knows he's gotta go 100%. The fans are really digging this and I am as well. I cannot believe how hard these dudes are going for an under 10-minute match-but I guess that sorta makes sense right? What a good match!
A big thanks to the folks that put these up on the 'tube & thank you all for reading
Dropping some old school Joshi Puroresu recommendations, son. Git with it, boy! (cringe) Sorry...got caught up there for a sec. Here's another set from the graveyard...
On to the wrestling!
Mima Shimoda/Manami Toyota vs Double Inoue (05/11/96 AJW): Man, the team of Shimoda and Toyota is really a great one. I believe they were a team in the late 80s as well.Tokyo Sweethearts. That sounds right. It's certainly a better name than Double Inoue. The double Inoue team is a gimmick in the sense that Takako is really a good stomper-stretcher-slapper type wrestler and Kyoko is a superball fancy holds and running around workrate type of gal. Together, I suppose, they are a super team. I don't really think so but, eh they have the title belts so that's what we're led to believe. Toyota-Shimoda is a super team in my view. They don't have a gimmick as they are both all around fast paced athletic wrestlers. Takako just isn't so, that comes into play at times during this match- sometimes in a positive manner and other times in a negative one. Overall, she does well as does Kyoko. The match is a longer one at nearly an hour but, with 4 ladies giving it there all it, the time is well spent. What is most impressive is that there seems to be different acts or stages that the match progresses to. These are not in the traditional order as 'injuries,' heel moves, dives etc. seem to come into play at odd times. This helps keep the match interesting. There is an overkill stretch run at the end, and don't get me wrong I love a little bit of overkill but, it didn't hit the perfect note. Doing a match this long really wears on the wrestlers and execution and the *umph* we want as a viewer aren't quite there. Nonetheless, I recommend this match to any Joshi fan since it doesn't get a ton of praise. It is praiseworthy for sure and really quite a very good match - just a little long when you're depending on Takako.
Mima Shimoda/ Manami Toyota vs Double Inoue (06/22/96) - This is the rematch and is much more to my liking. It's a 2 out of 3 falls match and has a better pace to the action because of it. I can't say it has the interesting niches like the 5-11-96 match had though. So in that regard, I would put them about neck and neck. I liked this one better in the long run probably because it is not as long and I could see myself re-watching it. It also helped that I firmly dislike Double Inoue as a tag team. I'm not sure if this is the intended roles they are supposed to play but, man, I wanted Shimoda to destroy that smirk of Takako's face. She is really good at making herself hated. Kyoko isn't as offensive but, after seeing the lion share of her great matches, she is a totally wanting to 'get her offense in' type of gal. She was much better in the earlier part of her career if I remember correctly. I will have to re-vist the matches from '91-'94 that I have of hers...hmmm. So, this is a recommended match for fans of Toyota and Mima Shimoda. They make a great team and I liked seeing them kick Takako in the head and stuff.
Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue (WWWA Title 12/08/96) After the 4/11/93 tag match this was the second Joshi match I ever saw & it blew me away. Well, I probably shouldn't have watched it now, after seeing so many great matches. I will say Kyoko & Toyota still come up with the most complex & innovative spots but here, there wasn't much else to get me excited. It was like they were following the recipe for big single match psychology. You could predict what was going to happen next. I've been watching too much Joshi though. I just finished watching the entire 09/02/95 show so maybe I'm unfair because I haven't gone the appropriate amount of time without Joshi. As it stands, it's ****1/4 but, after some time off from wrestling, & some time on a different style, I might be more generous.
Re-Watch: Yeah I was just overloaded on this style & watched it too late at night. This time I watched it with my Dad who usually cuts to the chase on a match and indicated that they just started trading finishers back and forth at the end. He's totally right and along with a ho-hum start, it held this bout back from being a downright classic. However, it was a very good ending though and every big spot was especially brutal. It's certainly a great match but, maybe not a classic. Still probably my favorite match of theirs though...
OK now to an editorial remark:
One of the main purposes or drives for this blog is stir up interest in wrestlers, feuds, promotions, and styles that may have gotten lost/forgotten in the WWE/NJPW whirlwind of the last 3-4 years. There is a ton of talk on these companies contemporary product but, something I've noticed in the match discussion archive here on the PWO forums is, people really don't go back and re-watch & discuss anything anymore. So, things get watched, a review is popped out & up ASAP, then people move on. I suppose that's the low attention span stuff people talk about. Shoot, I'm guilty of it! It takes me forever to finish a long term DVD project (fuck I shouldn't have brought that up to myself...30 disc AJ Classics set...2 discs in...). However, it bums me a little that people who post regularly in the NEW stuff never seem to go back and comment on anyone elses remarks, let along go back into the classic 90's yearbook (or earlier) to leave a thought or review.
So to that second concern, I get the impression that they haven't seen this (old) stuff out of disinterest OR a sense of being overwhelmed. I sincerely hope that it's that they feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start (and may not want to ask). Hopefully, this post & others of mine give them (you?) a jumping off point or at least a little diversion between events. I try to mix up the current & old wrestling to provide a chronologically consistent set of recommendations. If you see a classic match from 1979 and a classic match from 2018, that shit is equal to me. That 'rating' is irrespective of workrate, flips, kickouts and all that jazz. It is just fantastic professional wrestling for one reason or another. AND if folks aren't going back because they are disinterested then, I hope I can offer a bit of insight to puroresu history and maybe create that curiosity...you really are missing out folks Just wanted to say that tonight.
Thanks for reading!
Jeez, I've been watching a lot of NOAH lately. I suppose it's because I'd turned a blind on it for so long after so many drawn out strike battles, over long "epics", and a roster that resembled a pop talent show more than puro company (at least from their names and appearances..more on that later).
Eddie Edwards is one of those guys that I've come to consider a favorite of mine recently. I'm not exactly sure why however. He doesn't have a real remarkable look and he doesn't seem like a real 'character.' He seems very much like an athlete who's chosen profession is wrestling. I suppose that's why I like him. So, I was pleased to see that he popped back up in NOAH (on a talent exchange) last year.
For those that don't know (or care), Edwards developed a true professional over in the NOAH promotion in the mid-2000s. So, when he came into ROH (again as sort of a talent exchange) he was looking like top talent in the making (except for his braided Jason Newsted haircut).
I pretty much forgot about him for awhile (3 years perhaps?) as I focused on other promotions and older puro. Occasionally, his name would pop up in tape/DVD listings or reviews. It was good to see that he was still around and thriving. So many of those mid card guys in ROH had a lot of potential but, something happened and their careers never blossomed (Erick Stevens and Brent Albright are two I recall). I think the match that put Eddie on my radar as a serious talent was a 2011 match in NOAH vs Kotaro Suzuki. Kotaro had the GHC belt and much like Eddie, it was fantastic to see a lower ranked guy was getting pushed AND was doing well. This match had gotten some praise at the time and probably was one of the the more positively reviewed matches in NOAH at the time. Or at least that I can recall...2011 wasn't getting a lot of love.
Gosh, to be honest after that, it probably wasn't until 2015 where for whatever reason, I thought I'd give PWG & ROH a try again that I started seeing Eddie Edwards clips on the 'tube. But, I'm rambling because all I want to cover in this entry is Eddie Edwards short lived but, historic GHC title run. A transitional champion? Yes but, the first non Japanese to hold the belt. Plus, he's the man to have ended Katsuhiko Nakajima's 307 day, 7 defense reign (the longest since KENTA's 2013 championship reign). That's pretty significant to me even if NOAH is in umm...transition???
Nevertheless, Eddie's involvement (through Impact's agreement with NOAH) helped bring me back into the viewership. Plus he really cut his teeth during his early years on the ARK so, it was a bit of a coming home story with him winning the title.
So, let's take a little look back:
Eddie Edwards & Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi (08/23/08): I am expecting fireworks from the get-go but, it begins with conservative striking and grounded holds. This is the first five minutes until Nakajima gets a bug up his ass about Marvin. He gets in the ring like a junkyard dog off his chain to save Ibushi. Then it picks up with the combos like Marvel vs Capcom 2. None of it is really engaging me though. Everyone is doing a bunch of running, kicking, and jumping. It's not that I even care who is doing it OR why. It's pure fireworks for the sake of going:'Oh wow!' *BANG* 'Cool!' *POP* 'Oh that was neat...' until you kinda get bored until the spectacular finish where all kinds of shit is blowing up. Sounds familiar with some wrestling matches, right?? That was this 100% to me. It was good but, nothing more. Eddie however (since this is his little feature) looked the strongest to me. He was most in contol of his movements as well putting forth the most effort for the longest period of time.
A. Ito & I. Ota vs Ricky Marvin & Eddie Edwards (09/06/08): This is how you do a tag match- bring some hate, desire to win, desire to inflict pain or embarrassment...something right? You've got to have some energy! 8 minutes of great shit beats 21 minutes of blech. Marvin & Edwards were flipping awesome here. Ito & Otis looked good too but, mainly vehicles to put Rick & Ed over. Fun stuff so, I'd recommend going outta your way to watch this as it's under 10 minutes.
Eddie Edwards & KENTA vs Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi (Apollo 55) (07/10/10): An all action match that I never knew happened. Apollo 55 was pretty big at this time so, it was a big deal for them to be in a NOAH ring. KENTA & Edwards look as good as any team against them. In fact, they looked better. Maybe it was the different environment or the green ring but, 55 seemed a little of this evening of combat. It's nothing embarrassing or even noticeable but, KENTA & Eddie were hell of a hard hitting tandem compared to the more Junior move-centric Devitt & Taguchi. Nevertheless, it was a very satisfying fantasy match up come to life. Very Good match!
vs Kotaro Suzuki (01/29/11): GHC Jr. strap is on the line. They set a really good pace here for a title match. The highspots were simple but, spectacular. Both guys sold the exhaustion & pain from the match and it appeared that it was a struggle to win an athletic contest- not a performance of some maneuvers. It looked like a title fight. It really clicked for me. I am a fan of both guys but, in a way that makes me a harsher critic. I wanted to see both guys kick ass and if either were dogging it, I took note. I mean Kotaro's elbows looked tired toward the end. But to be honest, I think he was rattled as all hell. Eddie did not go easy on him and wouldn't put over the elbows until it was believable. If it was all selling then, double kudos to them for getting the story across that well. This was a great match!
So I'll only do a little bit for Eddie's title fights because it was an unfortunately quick run...
vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (08/26/17): A nice quick pace. The intensity and the drive to win for Edwards is really apparent. Whoa! he almost crippled Naka' on that tope! Ed's working the back...very nice. The strikes are there but, there are a variety of them as well as actual moves. At least 3 Evel Knievel suplexes. This feels like NOAH from a decade ago! A minute or 2 could have been shaved but, this was a great match! You should check this one out.
vs Naomichi Marufuji (10/01/17): Marufuji had been competing in Impact (TNA) so, this in a way an Impact & TNA event (ya know how ROH & NJPW do co-shows?). Anyhow, I liked this but, it felt a little too smooth to me. The crowd was sedated as a psych ward too. That was a bummer but, it was still a Very Good match. It would have gone over better in front of the Impact crowd I think...it certainly was wrestled in that style.
vs KENOH (12/22/17): I really got into this one despite KENOH looking like a Blade Runner Brian Jones. These guys had great chemistry together and put on a fantastic match where I'd like to see them compete again or team up in the future. Great match for sure!
I think Edwards gave the company a shot in the arm in terms of experience and talent. NOAH feels very unfamiliar to me in 2018. There are few faces from the past to root for & those there seem unenthusiastic or uninspired (Shiozaki & Sugiura). The newer guys like KENOH have an off-putting look about them. It's sorta like whatever glamour B.S. Marufuji & Ibushi (and Tanahashi) brought to puro really rubbed off on these guys (HAYATA & YO-HEY). Masa Kitamiya doing a Masa Saito tribute and Nakajima channeling Ashura Hara is promising though. But, I looked on the NOAH roster page a moment ago and thought, "Who are these guys? and why should I watch this?" I get a very 'local independent wrestling' promotion vibe from NOAH. They have guys you know and maybe bring in big names but then have a load of guys you may be heard of or saw in a match or two that have a goofy name or look (much like Eddie Edwards early on) or complete no-names. I guess it behooves me give them a chance though. KENOH, who may look the goofiest of the bunch & has an all CAPS name, is A-OK in my book. He let his wrestling do the talking much like Edwards did in late 00's ROH. So, perhaps it's fitting that Ed lost the title to him. Changing of the guards? Maybe...who knows? Again, it would be great to see Ed in that green ring with KENOH in some shape or fashion. NOAH might be heading in a good direction. Again, who know? Good stuff and a fun little spotlight for me
Pro Wrestling NOAH after Misawa's passing is uncharted territory to me. I know that it exists and I've even seen a little bit of it but, I tend not to wander around too long. This cluster of matches popped up because I wanted to do a brief "Shiozaki vs the Stars" post. Like most wrestling projects, I got sidetracked Here we have a sort of triple main event for NOAH's Great Voyage in Tokyo show.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima: 18 minutes- Nice striking, clean execution so, it was a very good match from a mechanics standpoint. The story and energy wasn't engrossing however. Nakajima worked on Ricky's leg and the Rick man sold it like death during his time on 'defense ' but, his offense was counter intuitive. If you have hurt knees then, for god sakes! Don't do a knee drop or double foot stomp! I'm not saying don't fly... 'cuz you gonna fly Ricky...but think before you leap man. Still...I liked it but, you know... :-/
Triple Crown Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs Taiyo Kea: 23 minutes - This was like a '99-'00 Triple Crown bout. It has a slower pace and an emphasis on telling a story. This is my preferred style for title matches. So, this starts very grapple heavy until Kea gets a cheap one in on Akiyama. The fighting begins and soon spills over to the floor. Referee Wada has something to say about this & I loved it! He & Jun were priceless! Taiyo takes the opportunity however, and puts his tri-laser Predator beam on Jun's bandaged shoulder. I'm not going to spoil anything else!
This was very much a 'story match' and had me interested from bell-to-bell. The veteran pair never tried to upstage the GHC title match in the top slot. They instead just put on a Triple Crown match with a steady building pace that felt organic and never rushed. A great match!
GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Go Shiozaki vs KENTA: 27+ minutes - I watched this twice in order to form a better opinion. Both guys are Kobashi protege. This is an action oriented bout where there's no greater story than, 'I'm Tough!'...'No! I'm Tough!'. Thankfully, this did not descend into aimless dueling strikes for 15 minutes. Of course, they hit each other but, in a practical and purposeful way. Go stuck to his chops and KENTA mixed it up with damn near everything else but chops! They had their spots and everything was really quite good. I long for the days when wrestlers struggled to hoist each other into throws though. Think about Misawa fighting with all his might to lift Kawada into a Tiger Driver or German suplex. These two just lifted each other with the greatest of ease deep into the fight...this detail really bugged me. Its probably what holds it back from being a classic match. If you're more interested in or familiar with 2010's puro then, you probably won't mind this- and that's cool! To me, it didn't feel right...but then again, we're watching two Kobashi kids kick butt...so maybe I am blowing hot air! Quibbles aside, this match was very much worth the time. Both guys were very impressive and the final third of the match was dramatic and brutal. A great match!
So, all 3 matches were a good time with the two Heavyweight title fights being in the **** area. You may even get a bit more out of them if you're interested in newer stuff. If you're liking an older style then, the Kea-Akiyama bout might be more your speed. In any case, a sweet bit of puro for November 27th, 2011!
Thanks for reading!
I totally should have posted my AJW 09/02/95 show review TODAY instead of back in July...stupid!stupid!stupid!
But, fear not! I've found some AJPW matches from the spiraled notebook graveyard. I'll post my original comments then, see how I react today. We've first got some action from the 1989 Summer Action Series II tour taped 09/02/89 in Tokyo at Nippon Budokan!
Asia Tag Title Match: Danny Kroffat & Doug Furnas vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Samson Fuyuki- This match whew! It bit way too much off than it could chew. In a shocking manner, Kawada was the worst person in there. He didn't look comfortable at all. Kroffat too looked a bit restrained. But Jesus, Kawada looked so held back and God! I couldn't wait until he took the spinning heel kick out of his offense. This match is really hurt by loose execution in a sequence intensive match. ***3/4
*Well um...we're off to a shaky start with that. I gave it almost 4 stars but, made it sound like a steaming diaper load!? I probably would say now that, this match isn't as good as their 06/05/89 classic. Frankly, it seemed like they blew some moves but, still brought the intensity. I probably would enjoy this more now since I've been digging Aoyagi, Koshinaka matches.
Special Match: Jumbo Tsuruta vs Yoshiaki Yatsu - I liked this more the second time around as Yatsu really gave it his all and Jumbo as awesome as ever, made him look like a champ-to-be. If people doubt the greatness of Jumbo, then look at this one. It's a damn good match even though you know the outcome on paper. ****
*There's nothing wrong here although I would praise Yatsu a helluva lot more today. He's a really underappreciated wrestler who brings an arm full of effort, energy, and um...earnestness. We can see those traits from the Choshu-in -AJ period through the short lived SWS. (I know he was in NJ for a minute as well so, that'd be great to track down.) Jumbo gets props but, I'd much rather watch a Yatsu match nowadays.
Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (09/01/90) ****1/2+ In this match-up Misawa tries to use his elbow strikes to go toe-to-toe with Jumbo. He finds out that he's no Tenryu and gets a beatdown. It's not that Jumbo isn't really messed up by this attack but it's not enough to transition into a serious pinning predicament. Still Misawa uses his quickness & flying but not in conjunction with much other than his strikes. So Jumbo does what he can to shift momentum and work Green Jeans over. I would've liked I little more variety other than a elbow battle to make this 5 stars like some say but, still it's awesome but not like their match in June. Re-Watch: This is a pretty great match but stylistically I preferred the June match. Misawa tried to be Tenryu to Jumbo, you know to try and slug it out. Misawa had much greater effect with his flying moves but wanted to get the big shot in. In the end he got caught and flat out beat. Still I would have liked a match with more variety in offense since Misawa slung 40 elbows or so in this one.
*Yup, I'm not going to veer of course with this too much. Well, I may even take it down a notch if I were to rewatch today It seemed less dynamic than their June classic and just never hit me the same way. Of course, it may be more of the rough & tumble business that I've been favoring lately. It's a essential stepping stone in the feud and AJPW nonetheless. Maybe a rewatch is in order!
Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (09/04/91): Really great match with Kawada bringing the violence. The guys do some stuff they were using a year earlier like Taue's sumo slaps, well that's about it...Misawa's shoulder was really beat on here. Kawada could hold up in his absence though. He was hitting lariats to the front & back like a monster. His step kicks to Jumbo are especially vicious. In fact, Jumbo vs. Kawada are the best thing going here. It's not on the level of their 9/30 or 12/7/90 matches but is still awesome. And is the 3rd best tag match on here (Jumbo vs Misawa DVD set).
*Wow! This one took me by surprise as I don't necessarily recall this being a top tier bout. I totally believe my take on it but, this really is one that I truly forgot about, true believers! Definitely I'm going to rewatch this and the above match. I'll put my 2018 grumpy take-away remarks in the comments. Again, I prefer Yatsu over Jumbo anymore but, I know it'll be good.
Anyhow, fun memories dug up from my wire bound wrestling review resting place. Thanks!
This post is all about surfing Japanese YouTube channels and going off video thumbnails. What a find!
Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka vs Masashi Aoyagi & Akitoshi Saito (03/09/92): Keep an eye out for Too Cold during the entrances. Koshinaka & Saito engage in a fierce stare battle before the bell. Already this is good! Saito looks like a villain from a Jean Claude flick- Lionheart 2: Bloodsporting Kickboxer.
This thing starts and Karate takes over quickly. This is tornado tag rules- something we just don't get enough of nowadays. Kobayashi tears Aoyagi's gi like dollar store kleenex- fuck your traditions! Koshi & Saito are going at it as well. Anyone who thinks Shiro's hip attacks are lame needs to get a load of him here. He destroyed Akitoshi 's face. This is some fast & loose brawling. Kuniaki goes straight berserk at the end. Holy cow! The ref is checking on Saito and there's a stoppage. But it ain't done yet! This is chaotic as all get out! Very good to great match even. You gotta see this if you are fans of these guys. A very early FMW vibe here.
If this were only 1 match, it'd be OK but, then we get:
Akitoshi Saito vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (04/30/92): After the entrances, Sensei Aoyagi is in ring, suited up (literally), with a really old looking wooden board or tablet. Perhaps it is significant to he, Saito, or their dojo??? It appears that Koshinaka & Kuniaki have an envelope. I'm going to wager a guess that they're putting these things up as stakes. Winner takes all. I'd rather win the envelope...its probably cash or like nudie pics of their girlfriends or something. What are ya gonna do with an old board? Make a paint shelf in your garage?
Nevertheless, the crowd is hyped & the intensity is like the midday sun. Let's do this! The fighting is downright brutal- Sickeningly stiff! Saito is bleeding again- blood splatter on his gi, blood splatter on the camera lense! This is how you do it! Saito is hanging in there but, Kobayashi is like a demon. A karate kid throws in the towel but, immediately Aoyagi smacks him and calls bullshit! The fighting continues. Yes! This is not slick pretty wrestling. It is grisly uncooperative wrestling-as-combat. Double plus respect to both dudes. Great match
Shiro Koshinaka vs Masashi Aoyagi (05/01/92): Aoyagi wants that board back!!! They are at each other like two angry dogs- face kicks, punches, elbows, Koshi channeling Dr. Death backdrops etc. Aoyagi channels...shit, I dunno...Aoyagi? But the fucking gi comes off! Another great match to me. I don't wanna spoil anything.
You gotta see all three!
If I have learned anything at all, it's that the vision I have for Pro Wrestling Only will never be achieved if I continue operating this as a one-man show. I have quite a few great ideas for how to make the site rock, but having the idea and having the skills to execute it are two different things. That's where help come in.
I am looking for two CO-FOUNDERS to join me in getting Pro Wrestling Only off the ground. In exchange, you'll each get 25% ownership of the site. In the future, you could choose to retain that ownership and continue profiting as the site grows, or you could sell it back to me after we get the site off the ground and move on to other opportunities. That would be your choice. If we can work together to make the site a success, the rewards could be quite lucrative. If this type of risk-taking venture sounds up your alley, please keep reading.
The way I see it, there are three things PWO needs in order to be successful: vision, execution, and promotion. The vision part I have covered. However, I am looking for a FULL STACK ENGINEER and FULL STACK MARKETER as co-founders. For now, I want to refrain from publicly sharing too many of the details, but if you happen to be skilled in one of these roles, we might be able to work together. Please contact me privately and I'm happy to share more information and answer any questions you might have. I should be clear that this requires no financial investment. The investment would be a time investment. It's important to me that I find co-founders who are serious about this, who have some real skin in the game, and who are willing to make this a top priority in their lives. I also want to find partners who have the background they need to hit the ground running.
I plan to pursue this through traditional channels if I have to do so. However, if there's a chance that honest-to-God wrestling fans who are just as passionate about this as I am could partner with me, I'd MUCH prefer to go that route.
This is my 100th blog post! Yay!
So, I wanted to make it about something special. An overlooked wrestler, a series of great matches, or something like that. Of course that would take me starting from scratch and I’m just a little busy with my day job & life-things to deep dive into a theme. Damn you Go Shiozaki and Youtube for taking me down a path unfit for this milestone post. So, instead I decided to offer 100 tidbits to you the reader. What’s funny is that I thought it would be a time saver but, in fact it took a shit load of time. I probably could have watched 3-4 matches and gotten a review for each in the time it took me to scribble down & cross out my choices in my notebook. Then, I had to type them out! What a dummy!
I’ve got some top 10 and essential viewing lists but, these are by no means comprehensive. Somethings were omitted intentionally and others were omitted due to ignorance. I’ve seen a good bit of stuff but, not everything J Plus most are not in a particular order. “So, what F-ing use are they then!?” you say? Yeah, um see…it’s more like that’s the order that I thought of them in OR they’re chronological. The lists are almost like a peek into my wrestling brain. It’s a little rough and a little hazy at times but, hopefully, it gets you watching, reading, or thinking about different stuff.
Who I watch out for when Youtube Surfing:
1. Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) – Well-travelled team always get the best out of their foes.
2. The Headhunters – Agile big men always down for mixing garbage/hardcore wrestling with highspots
3. Togi Makabe – “Newer” guy brings old school flair, intensity, AND stiffness
4. Masashi Aoyagi – Karate man constantly kicking people and stirring shit up
5. Shiro Koshinaka – 100% effort and charisma wrestler, a utility man who can shine in all settings
6. Masahiro Chono- Trained by Thesz & Inoki, charismatic and believable despite limitations
7. Masa Kurisu – AJPW trained, got kicked out of FMW- yeah that’s right…
8. Kendo Nagasaki – AJPW and Stampede pedigree, early FMW and started BJW
9. Tarzan Goto – Notice a pattern?
10. Jun Kasai – Comedy, violence, sound wrestling ability, death defying leaps, and charismatic to boot!
Iconic Bumps or Moves:
1. RVD’s somersault senton from the top turnbuckle into the crowd versus Bam Bam Bigelow
2. Kawada taking Tiger Driver ’91 on 06/03/94
3. Masato Tanaka taking an Awesome Bomb through a table to the floor with enough momentum carry his head and neck underneath the guardrail.
4. Jun Akiyama riding Akira Taue’s skull off the apron on 01/22/06
5. Kawada getting German suplexed by Kobashi while ‘KO’d’ on 12/03/93
6. Inoki getting German suplexed by Vader, 01/04/96
7. Mr. Danger Matsugnaga’s somersault senton onto his opponent in a Barbwire Net Scaffold match (BJW 98?)
8. Onita shouting “Thunder-Fire-Power-bomb!” as he delivers said move to Hayabusa in the ’94 Cage retirement match
9. Sabu wrapping his legs in barbwire and then Leg dropping Terry Funk at Born to Be Wired, ECW
10. Akira Hokuto doing maybe the 1st reverse frankensteiner to Toyota, all dangerous joshi style too
Most Brutal Joshi Matches:
1. Lioness Asuka vs Yumiko Hotta 03/26/95 AJW
2. Yumiko Hotta vs Aja Kong 01/24/94 AJW
3. Aja Kong & Bison Kimura vs Grizzly Iwamoto & Bull Nakano 08/19/90 AJW
4. Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue vs Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda 08/09/97 AJW
5. Akira Hokuto vs Manami Toyota 09/02/95 AJW
6. Manami Toyota & Toshida Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki series (92-93) AJW
7. Akira Hokuto vs Shinobu Kandori (April & December 1993) AJW
8. Megumi Kudo vs Combat Toyoda 3/31/96 FMW
9. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW
10. Manami Toyota vs Karou Ito 08/09/97 AJW
Most Brutal Men’s Matches:
1. Sabu vs Sandman – Stairway to Hell match 1998 ECW
2. Jun Kasai vs Takashi Iizuka – Deathmatch TAKA Produce 2018
3. Kobashi vs Misawa 10/21/97 AJPW
4. The Rock vs Mankind - St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 1999 WWF
5. Cactus Jack vs Terry Funk – Duel of the Wilds 1995 IWA Japan
6. There’s some Tarzan Goto glass deathmatch in BJW 1998 or 99 where he carves a notch into Ono’s (I think) arm with a shard of glass.
7. Headhunters Glass Deathmatch 1995 IWA Japan
8. Masakatsu Funaki vs Tatsuo Nakano 08/24/89 UWF 2nd Stage
9. Onita’s main events in FMW (89-92)
10. Terry Funk vs Sabu Born to be Wired 1997 ECW
ECW Memorable Moments:
1. First time the Dudley’s did the Flaming table
2. Seeing Super Crazy vs Tajiri vs Travelling Luchador or Japanese Jr. vs Spike vs Little Guido vs Jerry Lynn every week
3. The “Catfights!!!!”
4. New Jack jumping off the back of a raised basketball hoop backboard through a table
5. Balls & Axl’s chair shots that bent the seats
6. Taz vs The Franchise rematch on TV where Franchise gives this speech about giving the fans a good match and sez ‘whaddaya say Taz?’ Taz, stern as ever, mutters in the mic “Ring the fucking bell…” Aw shit! That was killer!!
7. Sabu’s entrance music
8. New Jack playing Natural Born Killaz throughout every match. Also him hitting people with household items like NES’s and Sweepers
9. Um…Born to be Wired…seriously, it blew my mind.
10. Being able to watch ECW 2-3 times a week (our channel would rebroadcast Hardcore TV) with my Dad during my crappy High School years. It was the perfect escape for me J
Favorite Moves in WCW vs The World PS1 Game (sorry I’m in High School mode right now):
1. Top Rope Powerbomb
2. Steiner Screwdriver
3. Tiger Driver ‘91
4. Akira Maeda’s Capture Suplex when countering an opponent’s kick
5. Jumping DDT (Onita’s DDT)
6. Western Lariat (the best its ever looked in a video game…for reals)
7. Mil Masacara’s Headstand leg scissor takedown
8. Throwing German Suplex (Rick Steiner style)
9. Shinzaki’s Asai Moonsault where he’s praying mid-moonsault!
10. Hayabusa’s Firebird Splash (or whatever that animation is!)
Honorable Mention: All strike combos that end in that cool KO animation J
Essential 80’s NJPW:
1. Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid 01/28/82
2. Maeda vs Fujinami 06/12/86
3. Koshinaka & Muto vs Maeda & Takada 03/20/87
4. 5 on 5 match 09/16/87 OR Hase vs Takada 03/11/88 (tie for me)
5. Inoki vs Fujinami 08/08/88
Essential Misawa vs Jumbo Feud AJPW:
4. RWTL 12/07/90
Other Essential Joshi:
1. Lioness vs Jaguar Yokota AND Chigusa vs Devil Masami 08/22/85 AJW
2. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW
3. Chigusa vs Lioness 02/26/87 AJW
4. Fire Jets vs Marine Wolves 1989 Tag League (?) 2/3 Falls AJW
5. Plum Mariko & Devil Masami vs Chigusa & Cuty Suzuki (11/18/93) JWP
6. Toyota & Hokuto vs K. Inoue & Yamada (both matches) 12/10/93 AJW
7. Ozaki, Plum & Cuty vs Dynamite Kansai, Devil & Chigusa - 2 Count match 01/1994 JWP
8. Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue vs Manami Toyota & Aja Kong 03/03/94 AJW
9. Aja Kong & Akira Hokuto vs Yumiko Hotta & Dynamite Kansai 08/24/94 AJW (24 years ago!?)
10. Manami Toyota vs Aja Kong 11/20/94 AJW
Essential Independent or Other Promotions of the 1990’s:
1. Onita & Tarzan Goto vs Kurisu & Dragonmaster Kendo Nagasaki 04/19/90 FMW
2. Onita vs Goto 02/26/91 FMW
3 Tenryu & Ishikawa vs Hashimoto & Choshu 04/02/93 WAR
4. The Headhunters vs Miguel Perez Jr. & W. Kanemura – Barbwire Cage Match 05/09/93 W*ING
5. Captain’s Fall Barbwire Bunkhouse Match 08/29/93 W*ING
6. Jinsei Shinzaki vs Great Sasuke 04/29/94 Michinoku Pro
7. Sasuke, Gran Hamada & Delfin vs Dick Togo, Men's Teioh & Shiryu 11/12/96 M-Pro
8. Sasuke, Hamada, Super Delfin, Gran Naniwa & Yakushiji vs. Togo, Men's, TAKA, Shiryu & Funaki 12/16/96 M-Pro
9. Yuki Ishikawa & Mohammed Yone vs Daisuke Ikeda & Ikuto Hidaka 06/20/99 BattlARTS
10. Ishikawa vs Ikeda 07/29/99 BattlARTS
Projects I’m Really Going to Get To in the Next 3 Months:
1. Pick back up AJPW Classics 1989-90 (I’ve got a DVD set thick enough to stop a .22)
2. Focus on AJPW 2011-2015 DVDs
3. Assorted ROH & PWG DVDs from 2014 to 2016 along with some Young Bucks in PWG
4. Looking at some NJPW 1990 tag’s I’ve been wanting to see for YEARS
5. NJPW 1988 – couple discs of some goodies I keep putting off
6. Momoe Nakanishi DVD that I just can’t seem to remember that I have
7. NOAH 2007 – A small sampling, me thinks
8. I’d like to get into 95-98 FMW but, my two big YT sources have been shut down. I’ll scrape through perhaps.
9. I’ve been getting the urge to watch early 80’s AJ & NJ along with whatever AWA stuff I can find
10. More 2010 NJPW multi-mans, tags , and Jr. matches
Thank you very much for reading!!
The Prussia-born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller (Eugen Sandow, 1867-1925) was an iconic professional wrestler, nude model, and bodybuilder during the late 19th and early 20th century, an era during which the three industries had significant overlap as part of what at the time was called "physical culture". Heralded as the "Father of Bodybuilding", Eugen Sandow was a groundbreaking figure who established and published training methods still used by professionals today. He is largely credited with popularizing fitness and is often attributed with the quote, “What I live to teach is the gospel of health, and the bringing of the body to the condition to which Nature intended it.” Sandow had an impressive physique, even by today's standards, that he intentionally cultivated to resemble Greek and Roman sculpture, and he released several publications detailing how he achieved his look, all while advocating socially and politically for health and fitness causes.
In 1894, as part of the first commercial motion picture ever released, Sandow flexed his muscles in a short Kinetoscope film. He would appear in additional films in the coming years, including the oldest known professional wrestling footage in existence, 1895's Ringkampfer, where Sandow grappled with John Greiner. Sandow started off performing impressive feats of strength -- he held a world record (later broken by George Hackenschmidt) for pressing 224 lbs with one hand -- but promoters quickly realized that fans, particularly women, were more interested in watching him pose than in seeing him perform a strongman act. His drawing power peaked in 1901 when thousands of fans were turned away from a sold out bodybuilding event that he headlined at London's Royal Albert Hall.
Wilhelm Baumann, generally considered the first booker in pro wrestling history, adopted the ring name Billy Sandow in tribute. Outside of pro wrestling and bodybuilding, Sandow counted Thomas Edison, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other celebrities as friends, with King George V even designating Sandow as a "physical culture special instructor" in 1911 after being happy with his own bodybuilding success following Sandow's teachings. Sandow's legacy lives on primarily in the bodybuilding world, as a bronze statue in his image (simply called a "Sandow") has been presented to the winner of the Mr. Olympia contest every year since 1977.
Sandow was born on April 2, 1867, in Königsberg, located in the Kingdom of Prussia, to a Russian mother and German father. Sandow's parents hoped that he would become a Lutheran minister, but he left Prussia in 1885 to avoid military service. Upon leaving home, Sandow joined a traveling circus where he adopted his stage name, which helped mask his identity and thus avoid consequences for avoiding the Prussian draft. He soon fell under the tutelage of Ludwig "Professor Attila" Durlacher. At Durlacher's urging, Sandow competed in and won a strongmen competition in London in 1889, where he became a viable attraction known for his incredible feats of strength. In 1896, Sandow married Blanche Brooks of Manchester, England; the couple had two daughters, Helen and Lorraine. On October 14, 1925, Sandow died of at his home in London from what was certified as an aortic aneurysm, but is believed in some circles to have been syphilis; despite his marriage, Sandow enjoyed the company of the many women who showed interest in him during his peak as a sex symbol. Sandow was 58 at the time of his death.
One of the most popular aspects of the Pro Wrestling Only forums is the match reviews written by our members. To faciliate this and encourage discussion, PWO Database Plus has a section called The Matches. We encourage you to peruse the matches from August 22 to discover new wrestling or remember some of your old favorites. We have places to discuss over 75 matches from this day in history alone! If you don't see the match from this day in history that you'd like to read or talk about, become a member at PWO and start the thread!
In light of the sad passing of wrestling legend Villano III, we thought it might be a good idea to put together a YouTube playlist that shows the buildup and fallout from the most famous match of his career: the mask match against Atlantis from March 17, 2000. We have curated this playlist for you and hope you enjoy it.
Last year, a group of us walked through the week-to-week TV of this feud. The matches, all of which are on the above-linked playlist, are also listed below with links to their respective discussion threads at PWO. We hope you'll check out the matches and chime in with your thoughts as we celebrate the life and career of Villano III.
Villano III, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Pierroth Jr. vs Atlantis, Negro Casas & Mr. Niebla Jr. (01-14-00)
Villano III, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Shocker vs Atlantis, Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr. (01-21-00)
Villano III, Bestia Salvaje & Fuerza Guerrera vs Atlantis, Emilio Charles Jr. & Negro Casas (01-28-00)
Villano III, El Satanico & Fuerza Guerrera vs Atlantis, Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy (02-01-00)
Villano III vs Atlantis (02-11-00)
Villano III & Atlantis vs El Satanico & Tarzan Boy - Parejas Increibles (02-18-00)
Atlantis, Mr. Niebla & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs Dr. Wagner Jr., Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. (02-25-00)
Atlantis, Tarzan Boy & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. vs El Satanico, Cien Caras & Bestia Salvaje (03-03-00)
Villano III, Shocker, Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. vs Atlantis, Perro Aguayo, Mr. Niebla & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (03-10-00)
Villano III vs Atlantis - Mask vs Mask (03-17-00)
Villano III, Shocker & Bestia Salvaje vs Atlantis, Perro Aguayo & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (03-24-00)
Villano III, Shocker & Bestia Salvaje vs Atlantis, Perro Aguayo & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (03-31-00)
Villano III, Fuerza Guerrera & Gran Markus Jr. vs Atlantis, Brazo de Plata & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (04-04-00)
Villano III, Pierroth Jr. & Fuerza Guerrera vs Atlantis, Negro Casas & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. (04-14-00)
Villano III, Atlantis & Mascara Ano 2000 vs Mascara Ano 2000, Pierroth Jr. & Shocker (04-28-00)
UPDATE: A little bird pointed me to the one missing match from the series, which was on 02-18-00 when Villano III and Atlantis teamed in a Parejas Increibles match against El Satanico and Tarzan Boy. It's been added both to the playlist and the list above.
Daniel Bryan vs The Miz
WWE Summerslam PPV
August 19, 2018
Brooklyn, New York
The match between The Miz and Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania recalled a match that happened nearly 35 years earlier under similar circumstances.
1984, whether surprisingly or not, was a real slump of a year for Jim Crockett Promotions. After the overwhelming success of Starrcade '83, perhaps they had nowhere to go but down. It didn't help that they lost so many top stars to the WWF, including Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine, fresh off of the biggest grudge match on their biggest show in history. It also didn't help that Ric Flair was in such high demand as NWA World Champion that he was no longer a regular, week-to-week fixture on JCP television. Perhaps the biggest factor of all in JCP's lull was when Ricky Steamboat announced his retirement from pro wrestling during spring.
The Steamboat-Jay Youngblood duo might have been the hottest in the history of territory, a major accomplishment since the Mid-Atlantic area spotlighted tag team matches over singles matches. The very success of the team, culminating in a Greensboro match in March of 1983 where Steamboat and Youngblood would have to break up if they couldn't become tag champions, was so successful that it became the inspiration for Starrcade, itself the inspiration for Wrestlemania. In the wake of wrestler defections and the rise of the WWF and Hulk Hogan, the landscape became even more challenging for JCP when in early summer, Steamboat announced his retirement from wrestling, presumably to spend more time running the Carolinas-area gyms that he owned. In Steamboat's absence, Tully Blanchard debuted in JCP. Tully was quickly teamed with Wahoo McDaniel to give him credibility and the two raised as much hell as they could in the hopes of reversing JCP's fortunes. Their efforts were futile until optimism was restored at the end of the year. Dusty Rhodes, a megastar in his own right, was the booker and was building to a "$1 million challenge" match with Flair, which would have "Smokin'" Joe Frazier as a referee. The second-annual Starrcade was coming up. Steamboat also returned to the ring and was immediately programmed against Tully Blanchard.
In a move met with controversy at the time considering their relative stardom, Dusty used Steamboat to put over Tully Blanchard; for the finish, Tully punched Steamboat in the face with a hidden foreign object to get the win. Many theories have been espoused over the years as to why Rhodes made this call, with the most popular take among the anti-Dusty crowd being that Rhodes saw Steamboat as a threat to his spot as the top babyface and wanted to take him down a peg. Steamboat caught the next bus out of town, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, and became a star in the WWF. Blanchard stayed behind and was one of Dusty's most effective heels for the next few years, proving the decision right in hindsight. When Daniel Bryan's wrestling career came to a temporary halt because of a high-risk style that was finally catching up to him, he studied the wrestling of this era in the hopes of establishing a new and more sustainable style for himself, all for a return that he wasn't even sure would happen. Bryan has cited Jerry Lawler and Nick Bockwinkel, great workers well into their 50s, as influences for creating a new in-ring style, a gradual change still in progress. The Miz, much like Tully Blanchard, was also casually dismissed as a credible rival when the two were first paired off. In the same way time proved Dusty right in setting up Tully Blanchard for a run as one of his top heels, time has also proved that Miz is a viable star, one who has been a foil for Daniel Bryan since Bryan's 2010 company debut.
The credibility gap was in fact one of the reasons they were paired in the first place. Billed as "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, Bryan had just wrapped up a decade-long run as arguably the best independent wrestler (some would just say "best wrestler") alive just before stepping into a WWE ring. He made his name by working a stiff, mat-based style, which was inspired by training with William Regal. His size was never really a deterrent to being a dominant, aggressive champion, just as much because of the hard-nosed way he presented himself as because wrestlers on the independent scene were usually smaller than their nationally televised counterparts in WWE. Meanwhile, The Miz debuted in wrestling in a way that even the advantages he had served equally as disadvantages. Because he first received television exposure on MTV's The Real World, he was viewed, fairly or not, as someone playing a pro wrestler more than he was simply being one. It didn't help matters that he was seen as the living embodiment of WWE's sports entertainment philosophy, from the character bias toward being "charismatic" and making a grand, choreographed entrance all the way to using a variation on his real name that mirrored Dwayne Johnson's variation on Rocky Maivia -- Mike Mizanin was simply The Miz. Frustration mounted. Miz actually became very good in the ring but because he was viewed as a wannabe -- he was even calling himself "The Miz" when play wrestling in his bed during his reality TV star days -- he had a label he couldn't quite shake.
Perhaps Daniel Bryan could relate, albeit from the opposite end of the spectrum. If fans saw Miz as a poser, Vince saw Bryan as a smallish great worker who had no other positive attributes and smothered him with "help" in the hopes of making him a bonafide WWE superstar. Some would argue that help was backhanded in the days when Bryan used a non-rock version of "Flight of the Valkyries" as his entrance music while wearing reading glasses and carrying a book to the ring, or when WWE "divas" debated whether he was a virgin. Over time, Bryan, along with CM Punk, would achieve superstardom in well-documented fashion, changing at least some ideas in WWE, historically a land of colorful giants, of who could and could not get over. He did that in part by working a more action-packed style, not only because it was his preferred style, but also because it was a surefire guarantee for crowd reaction. In a company where smaller wrestlers have to prove all over again in every single match that they are viable, that crowd reaction held his career in the balance.
This match suggested that Daniel Bryan is a victim of his own success. While hardly the sole benefactor, he did play a key role in shifting fans to those who pop for action away from those who pop for characters, even while receiving huge character reactions himself. Bryan's 2013-2014 success is something WWE still struggles to reconcile and perhaps that's because it's bogged down by so many contradictions -- there was a dose of comedy in Team Hell No that was key in his rise to stardom, but he was mostly beloved for his ability in the ring, making him a true main event mechanic, so to speak. The days of WWE fans caring most when their favorites had the advantage in the body of the match seem to be, at least for now, in the past. What we have instead is an athletic pseudo-meritocracy, one where reactions are primarily driven by highspots and nearfalls. This match was part of a longer-term project to undo what Bryan had already helped undo, as Bryan encouraged fans to cheer when he balled up his fist to punch Miz in the face or to rally to his side while he fought to reverse a figure-four leglock. It was an interesting role reversal for someone who, when facing HHH at Wrestlemania four years earlier, saw the early quick rollup attempt off of HHH's trash talk as a bit passe and encouraged HHH to modernize his game by throwing in a tiger suplex or two. The Brooklyn crowd came along on this night, but not always with as much gusto as Bryan and Miz probably hoped for, which can partially be attributed to shifting norms, just as it can be attributed to WWE's current feud storytelling that no one really believes or to being in the middle of a card twice as long as most seemed to want it to be.
In the post-match segment, Bryan begrudgingly admitted Miz was right, but the match itself doubled as a similar confession. The popular argument is that Miz was the moral victor with part of the crowd here because he's gotten the best of Bryan at every turn of this feud so far. However, it's also true that in the end, Miz's supposedly "soft" style has already won the war of ideas. The sports entertainer tried to mentor the wrestler; the wrestler refused to listen and instead carved his own path; and the fans decided they liked the wrestler's ideas better, only for the wrestler to realize he'd reached a physical dead end and needed to sports entertain if he wanted to continue at all. Bryan's desire to punch Miz in the face and settle a grudge was the "story", but like any effective WWE feud in 2018, the meta story occupies equal space in the zeitgeist.
The final installment of my 2006 NOAH Navigation. It is pretty stacked so let’s get on with it!
Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura (11/17): To be up front, I was not excited about this match. 3 out of 4 of the guys are good only in tags or short matches so, I’m tuning in for Takeshi M. Frankly, this starts out bland as unsalted popcorn. Even the Korakuen krowd were not into this! Business eventually picks up and this is actually fun to watch. Wait a minute! This is actually something I’d recommend to fellow Morishima Maniacs…damn this just gets better & better. False Finishes & saves abound! It’s a blast! Both teams really worked their butts off to put on a great match. It wasn’t really deep or anything but, their effort really made this something special.
Shinjiro Otani, Kazunari Murakami & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi (12/02): Akiyama vs Otani is dream match-up stuff to me. I’m excited. Also I’ll say that I miss Makoto Hashi. He was a tough impactful scrapper type of guy. Sort of a utility wrestler who go in any spot he needed to. I will say that I don’t miss his bouncy bosom though :I Its here in full effect but, shit he gets hardway juice from a Murakami headbutt and gets his face eliminated by Otani so, jiggle away my man!
In all seriousness, this is some very nice 6 man wrestling. Once Akiyama gets in there to save Hashi, this opens up like a cheap bag of chips. Akiyama is directing rush hour traffic here and it’s wonderful. Guys are going everywhere, Hashi’s bleeding from the head and mouth- this is Sterness vs Zero-1 for sure! This never steps outside of it’s place on the card and that is a testament to Otani & Akiyama. It’s something I’d highly recommend checking out.
KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (12/02): 2006 methodical surgeon, Bryan Danielson? Yes, please! Oh man it’s been awhile seeing Dragon work this style and it is a joy. He takes the reigns here and forces KENTA to restrain himself- both real and in-ring. This is brilliant because it only magnifies KENTA’s explosive ferocity. When he gets an opening, he’s like a Tasmanian Devil. That being said, this is more of a dry athletic contest than their ROH title fight in October. I could watch this forever though. It was really perfectly executed and perfectly matched competitors. For that I’d say it was a near classic encounter and should be watched right along with their others.
I will say this style really shows the limitations of KENTA however. He doesn’t seems to really add much of anything different to the bout despite this being a different style. He just does his thing when he gets a chance. This is OK but, it does really show that Danielson (and Marufuji indirectly) are superior workers. Nonetheless, these two work so well together, it was just an awesome competetive match.
Takeshi Morishima vs Go Shiozaki (12/10): This starts really solid with Go being like 1995 Jun Akiyama. Morishima is a generous fellow here but, that soon wears thin. Its time to show Go who’s the Tag Champ. This is over way too soon for my liking but, got the point across with both guys. Recommend this match to fans of either.
Akira Taue, Mushiking Terry, Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs SUWA, TARU, Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI (12/10): This is a fine match to show friends and loved one who are used to traditional heel/babyface dynamics. Taue is the man in this and the younger babyfaces bring all kinds of fireworks when its their time to shine. The heels are dastardly and feed the faces at just the right times. This is fun, fun stuff for non-fans and wrestler dorks alike
Naomichi Marufuji vs Mitsuharu Misawa (12/10): GHC belt is on the line. A quick cardio opening shows us that not only can Misawa go but, much better than his peers (see 03/05 & 04/23 Marufuji matches). ‘Fuji baits Misawa to gain control and locks in a fierce stepover facelock. Misawa again uses his elbows to create space but, the champ is using his brain and is damn quick. He focuses in on the challenger’s legs like a laser. Naomichi is almost heelish in his ruthlessness. Misawa calls for the ref to break Marufuji on two occasions. This appeal to the official is a clear departure from the collected Mitsuharu of youth. Further, Naomichi seems to welcome the legendary elbow strikes. He’s proving that Misawa is no longer the invulnerable hero & that he IS the rightful holder of the GHC championship. Of course, our Emerald Hero finds an opening and hits back hard. He has to or this is going to be over before it begins. They’re both wounded and desperate- shit gets good!
An organic, excellently executed and paced bout. The escalation of violence and the moves chosen have contextual significance. They wrestlers don’t just do things because that’s when they’re supposed to do the big moves. Additionally, the omission of some key attacks are also significant. The finish was just fantastic as well- Very reminiscent of Hansen/Kobashi 07/93 in my opinion. It felt like a struggle up until the end. And let’s be honest- that’s how it is supposed to be! The fans storm the barricades after the bell like White Walkers at Hardhome. Classic match man.
Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Takashi Sugiura (12/23): GHC Jr. belt on a SEM show. SEM was (is?) like a 205 Live of NOAH shows. This is fought like a NJPW NEVER championship match. Seriously…stiff as a starched shirt, good power moves, and transitions of control based on toughness/powering through more than finding openings. Sugiura eventually has to use his Cro-Magnon brain to save himself from the Japanese Karl Pilkington Terminator. But damn if, Sugiura isn’t a beast himself. Holy Shit! No doubt this would be a 4.5-5 star match if this were in NJ today. I’ve watch a nice chunk of the G1 and this fits right alongside the touted matches from the tour. Likewise, I don’t think it was classic stuff nor even a great match on the whole. It WAS a great display of toughness & neck-death though! Highly recommended.
Pro Wrestling NOAH 2006 is completed in my books! Woo-hoo! It’s been one of those watch-projects that I’ve been putting off for about 3-4 years. I had seen a few matches that I really dug back then and heard about on the NOAH USA website. Plus this year was really strong in various opinion polls and boards. So, I got a few DVDs with the purpose of watching the stuff that seemed most interesting to me but, like all of us, got sidetracked.
I think what was most interesting was that I realized I hadn’t seen a Misawa singles match in probably a couple years. That is so strange considering he was ubiquitous in my formative puro watching years and even in those early NOAH explorations. So, I was pleasantly surprised with his classic bouts against Morishima & Marufuji. He really still had “IT” in 2006. Unsurprisingly, Morishima & Marufuji’s stock went up with me as well. I’ve always liked them but, they had some high quality performances this year. Naomichi especially shone bright. I think his big push to be champion was well deserved despite it being so short. Takeshi Morishima had one classic singles match but, felt like the glue and future star of NOAH in 2006. KENTA is one person whose stock fell a little bit. He seemed really one dimensional. It’s a good dimension to have in pro-wrestling but, other than his match with Danielson, he didn’t show a lot of variety. This is not terrible since he frequently brings the intensity of the Sun at noon in the middle of July. Still, I would put him below Marufuji & Morishima at this point. This is a big shift in perspective for me since KENTA was near the top of my list for the 2000’s for a long time. He’s most likely top 10-15 still but, that’s still a downgrade. Also want to mention Taue & Akiyama being really fantastic as well. 2006 was about the elevation of the Marufuji, KENTA, and Morishima so, these two legends played a great supporting part in that as well as delivering some standout performances both in singles and tags.
I want to see what ’07-’09 holds although probably not as in depth. I’m really interested to see Go Shiozaki develop to challenge Morishima, KENTA, & Marufuji. Sugiura gets pushed but, that seemed to be out of necessity than talent. I’m hoping that he gets a bit better in crafting his matches since he does play a big role in the GHC title later in the decade. Also, I want to see more of Taiji Ishimori. I remember not really caring for him at the time but, in today’s puro climate he’s relatively moderate.
Top 5 Matches of the Year:
KENTA vs N. Marufuji 01/22
KENTA vs K. Kobashi 03/05
T. Morishima vs M. Misawa 03/05
N. Marufuji vs KENTA 10/29
N. Marufuji vs M. Misawa 12/02
Biggest Letdown: N. Marufuji vs K. Kobashi 04/23
Misawa/Akiyama vs Takayama/Sasaki 07/16
Shiozaki/Taue vs Shibata/KENTA 09/09
Morishima/Yone vs Rikio/Sugiura 11/17
2006 Akira Taue in general
Big take away from this venture- 2006 NOAH is comparable to contemporary NJPW in my eyes. The crowd excitement, atmosphere & presentation may not be as slick as NJ but, the quality and style is very similar. I’ve said this in various reviews yet, I think it’s worth stating again especially coming of the 2018 G1 tournament where people raved about similar or lesser matches. Seriously…go back to NOAH 2006, it’s just as good or better.
So, I decided to make this a 4 parter after all. There was way more NOAH that I wanted to watch than I thought. So, this installment will cover July to October. There's a ton of stuff at the very end of the year so, I figure that can have its own entry.
Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima vs Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (07/16/06): This is a tremendously exciting match where they did a sprint without going over board with moves or sequences. Morishima vs. KENTA was of course the sweetest thing here but Rikioh was a good partner for him while Marufuji was um not as good as could as he could have been. He was best during the double team segments but his super complex spots were just silly in a hard-hitting match like this. It helped that Rikioh usually made 'Fuji pay for his trickiness. Once the match picked up both were pretty awesome in their roles as back-ups. A good way to get past Marufuji is to consider him as this generation's Yoshinari Ogawa: weak strikes but speedy, crafty & exciting. It harkens back to the late 80s/early 90s when you didn't need to kill the guy to have a great match. The main difference is that Marufuji indulges in the unnecessary or esoteric where Ogawa "Keeps It Simple Stupid." There are some cock-ups that keep this from being a classic encounter. The stuff with KENTA & Morishima was awesome. Great match
Jun Akiyama & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kensuke Sasaki & Yoshihiro Takayama (07/16/06): Takayama return dream match. Kensuke is filling in for the ill Kobashi. Everyone looked really good in this hard hitting, action filled NOAH big time tag match. They didn't exactly empty their tanks but, fantastic effort and nice Kobashi tribute spots helped make this a great match. 16 minutes in duration. This doesn't get the talk like the Kobashi return but, man this is still a nice dream bout. It delivers like Dominoes, fool! ...man, that's lame. Ah screw it, I'm going with it!
Katsuyori Shibata & KENTA vs Akira Taue & Go Shiozaki (09/09/06): Shibata starts with Taue and gets all karate on the old timer. Taue is like, "Fuck yo' karate, man!" Yes! Akira Taue don't fake the funk, Shibata or not. This reminds me of when Baba would fight Tenryu in a 6 man match. Tenryu (like Shibata) would open a can of whoop ass on Baba...to the extent that Baba might get hurt. But! It would only turn Grandpa Baba into Badass Baba who would just hit some indignant mean ass chops and neckbreakers. So, yeah this is Taue. Everything is up in the air with this puppy. A slept on great match. 15 minutes of action.
Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji (09/09/2006): GHC belt is on the line. Spoiler in this review so, skip to end of this if you'd like to see this match. I've come to like this match a bit more than when I first saw it. I "get" 'Fuji now and the look on their faces after the bell is rung for the win is timeless. Marufuji is elated and Akiyama while upset has got a grin on his face like, "I can't believe he beat me without beating me." The thing is Akiyama in AJ held the same spot Marufuji does...the guy who got elevated quick and has to take his lumps in the ring but is damn athletic & damn talented. The ring work is mostly spots akin to a RVD/Jerry Lynn match so; it's entertaining and amazing but also not capable of "greatness." Akiyama is like Jerry Lynn in giving the match a skeleton from which to operate. It's more like, "Did you see that move? I can't believe he did that!" Still it's really fun and probably a neat way to start someone out on puroresu especially someone who's younger and wants to see wrestling instead of crud. It bit off more than it could chew at times but it's still quite good. Highly recommended
KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (ROH 09/16/2006): ROH title match. This probably is the closest thing to prime 90's junior puroresu that we'll see in the United States. Both men brought everything to the match- intensity, stiffness, psychology, & pacing. The only reason it's not rated any higher is because there is some noticeable stalling, especially for the top rope moves. When put in comparison to the rest of that night's card & ROH in general, this flaw is barely noticeable. In an era where legends are fading away and style is valued over substance, it is reassuring that wrestlers like KENTA & Danielson are out there. This match had its goofy American-indy moments and the aforementioned stalling but, its greatness cannot be diminished. In a post-Baba, post-Misawa world, this is required viewing.
Jun Akiyama vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (10/13/06): Jun's in his old AJ gear. This is a pretty entertaining match where Jun destroyed Kikuchi and that gravel throated bastard shows how tough he is. I'd recommend this if you're coming home after a long day at work and you wanna grab a beer, a sandwich, and some simple but, entertaining wrestling.
Naomichi Marufuji vs KENTA (10/29/06): Title match ya'll. This certainly wasn't your typical NOAH main event and looked so far away from traditional AJPW it was astonishing. This style they were wrestling or maybe always wrestle with is more a derivative of Michinoku Pro or even Ring of Honor than AJPW. It's no secret that both were in the midst of their ROH touring and which direction the influence rubbed off...well, I debate that with myself sometimes. They always seem to want to go back to the spectacular spots which is unfortunately the legacy of their seniors but hopefully is not the legacy that 90's AJPW has left the wrestling world. To speak more specifically about KENTA & Marufuji, they are Junior wrestlers not apt to use deep tactics in their offense. They play with the idea but, tend to go for the high-impact moves when push comes to shove. With all of that said, this was an excellent display of skill & athleticism and even a bit of psychology. Of course, they didn't sell it once it was time to do the spots but neither did 90% of the great NJPW Jr. wrestlers. So with that in mind, like many of the great Jr. matches the work done cannot be denied it's due.
Re-Watch: I'd have to say this stands up with the best Jr. matches that NJ produced. Seriously, I can only think of a couple matches that were as satisfying as this one. Granted I don't know as much about stories in NJ as I do with Noah but, from a wrestling standpoint this was pretty awesome and about as good as you can get. So, I go back to a point that I made in a post on the main page that the 2000 Juniors were more influenced by NJPW Jrs. There was a little overkill at times but they brought it back so that the finish was believable and logical. If you could shave 5 minutes of it would have been better but, as it stands it's still fantastic and one of the better matches that the 2000's had. I'd keep the rating and call it the Jr. version of Misawa/Kobashi 03/01/03. Not the BEST but, still a classic.
Whew! Some heavy hitters this round! Last but not least, November and December in part 4. Thank you for reading! Hope this helps you get excited to watch wrestling.