I watched this because it's still covered under my free month of the Network from Wrestlemania. Not bad...got 3 PPV shows for free. So tonight, I watched Backlash sorta in passing. It was really clear from seeing the card some of the matches could be good and some sucked at "go."
Anyone that had hopes that this was going to be awesome was delusional to some degree. Here's the card and my brief takes.
Seth Rollins vs The Miz: IC belt. Liked these guys in WM, Saudi Rumble, and liked Tyler Black in the past. Looked good on paper, delivered and then some. Finish could have been less choreographed but, a banger.
Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss: Raw Women's belt. Dug their WM match. Fuck people who want more "moves", this was really well done. Baby Bliss looked smart & Jax looked vulnerable but tough.
Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton: Hate Orton, skipped this.
Skipped Elias & Rusev bullshit. I'm too old for that middle school fuckery.
Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass: Was excited to see Danielson in a singles match. Didn't know who Cass was before the Saudi Rumble. Saw that and knew this was a lead turd waiting to drop. Caught the last 5+ minutes for proof of death.
Carmella vs Charlotte: Smackdown Women's belt. Saw Charlotte and thought this had potential. Carmella annoyed the hell outta me and is a step back for the division. Juvenile character. Would have been good if Charlotte won but, finish was flat. Transition champ to give C. Flair time off (fake leg injury?) because of the kayfabe finish?
AJ Styles vs Nakamura: Why they gotta make Nakamura the "nut shot" guy? Stupid and sophomoric at best. Had some moments though especially the chair bits.
Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens: Skipped this. Strowman is alright in my book. What's Lashley doing back? I don't care about Steen & Generico anymore. Great in PWG and 2008 ROH though.
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe: Looking forward to this match and it delivered. Anyone who left during this or was bored with it, that's fine but, I suggest you look elsewhere for wrestling. Seriously, if you didn't think this was just going to be a *** affair then, you're kidding yourself. Reigns at WM was one of the worst main events I've ever seen. This was at least pretty good with Joe using his brain to work a smart match. Reigns is on autopilot on the Airship Bland Meathead... that's to be expected though. It's more about how Joe can work within the predictable booking and approved spots than have a great match with the well meaning Reigns. Truth be told Joe's been booked like shit after 2006. He doesn't have "the look" and probably would be best in ROH or AJPW now. I doubt people would chant Rusev Day during his match there...lame as fuck...children.
I'd probably say the top matches are:
1) Rollins vs Miz
2) Jax vs Bliss
3) Joe vs Roman
4) AJ vs Ballshot Nakamura
Masato Tanaka was pretty much responsible for me getting into puroresu. His matches in the States with ECW were eye opening to me. He was tough, intense, and innovative. I would say he, Mike Awesome, and Tajiri were the 3 guys that convinced me that wrestling in Japan was something worth seeking out. After ECW folded, so did my interest in newer wrestling at the time. It was another 5 years before I got back into it. I've never really looked at what "Dangan" Tanaka was doing in that time when I was away.
Masato Tanaka vs Samoa Joe (Zero-1 2001 or 2002): There was no date on this from the Youtube video but, based on the size of Joe and his attire (cut off tee & track pants), this was pre-ROH Joe. I believe per Quebrada.net that it's from BURNING HEART League 09/15/01. All that being said, this was 8 minutes of spots but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a blast! Joe was pulling out all kinds of stuff like a Fosberry Flop dive and Pedigree type move. Obviously Tanaka was going over but, you'd be surprised. Cool finish too!
vs Shinjiro Otani (Zero-1 07/31/02): A classic 16 minute tournament match. It's like in that **** 1/4 - **** 1/2 range to me. It's best described as NJPW Jrs. style with 2000 era hard hits, a hot Korakuen krowd, and tourney match urgency. Tanaka & Otani don't go for epic, they go for the win. Dangan gets busted open from a Tree of Woe baseball slide if that's any indicator. Plus, Otani's facial expressions are as top shelf as ever. He takes the drama to another level with his emoting. Totally surprised by this match since no one really talks about Zero One especially in 2018...if you're a fan of either guy, see it. It'll be one of the best bouts you'll watch this week.
Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs Steve Corino & Low Ki (ROH 11/09/02): This was the main event to the inaugural All Star Extravaganza. Otani & Tanaka kept this a lean mean contest. Otani damn near put Ki's face into the back of his head with a kick. Not to be outdone, Dangan hit a brutal lariat and shotgun stunner. Sure, it was Philly but, no chairshots needed. Corino & Ki were excellent as well. Highly recommend checking this out.
vs Mike Awesome (Zero-1 02/29/04): Holy shit...wow. For an Awesome vs Tanaka match this might be the most dangerous one. I don't know if the match quality is the tops since they really do just run through the spots but, what spots they are! Highly recommended match for those missing this rivalry. I had no clue this existed especially since their One Night Stand match from 2005 was touted as their most recent battle since ECW. But that's WWE history for ya! Go see this Zero One match and witness the brutal spots for yourself!
vs CM Punk (Wrestling-1 04/09/04): I'm not 100% on the promotion title as it appears to be a US indy with affiliation to Zero-1 or a US offshoot when they were trying to do a global wrestling thing. I read in the comments online that Punk was sick at the time but, this was a very good hotel banquet hall level match. Punk focused on Masato's arm amd gave the match a good sound body. It was really solid when they could have just winged a bunch of moves. It felt good because they eventually got into a nice little finishing run. Some big moves were hit and some were countered but, they never gave it all away. These two worked really well together.
vs Samoa Joe (1PW 2005?): Again, the poster didnt' put a date but, this looks around the time Joe had the bleached brown/red bit in his hair while in TNA. This was a 10 minute sprint of wonderful stiffness. If the above match was about moves, this was about hitting each other. They go bat shit with it. This pairing is really, really good and I wish there was more available. Match goes to a double DQ but then we get...
vs Steve Corino: ECW rules type of match. They're in the crowd and being a little cute for the people that loved ECW back in the day. I'm sure I would have dug this at the time but, the let's take a tour without actually fighting isn't as interesting anymore BUT it's not all of that. It's brutal at times too. So, this is a 2 in 1 or Gauntlet match for Tanaka and a must-see. Dangan all the way man!
Tanaka to my knowledge only wrestled in ROH the one time but, he seemed like a perfect fit for early ROH from his performances above. 2002-2004 Tanaka in ROH would have been great and is certainly fodder for fantasy bookers out there. These matches are a hint of what could have been.
Next time, I want to tackle what I'll call the Tanaka revival- from my estimates late 2000s to early 2010s. I'll see what I can find on the web.
Earlier this week my fiance saw Kurt Angle while driving at the mall. I didn't believe her at first since we had just watched some special about him on the WWE network. But, with that fact in mind, I figure his face is going to be fresh in her mind. Most of what little doubt I had was in the fact that I didn't get to see him!
So, that by itself is pretty great but, then today we were telling her uncle about this and end up with the gift of a half hour of old wrestling stories! I had no freaking idea that he was into wrestling let alone have stories! I will not do these justice but, I'll try to tell the best.
The first is about he and some buddies going to a bar by the airport sometime in the 1980's. They're sitting there and his one friend tells him, 'Hey take a look over there.' The uncle thinks its a buxom babe but, it's Andre the fucking Giant surrounded by women downing bottles of beer! Turns out he's there with Jimmy Snuka, Blackjack Mulligan, and Mr. Fuji! Talk about luck, you go into your local suds station and bam you're shoulder to shoulder with grappling greats.
The second story is about a match he saw with George "The Animal" Steele and Bruno Sammartino. It sounded really wild with Bruno juicing a gusher and the fans losing their shit. The match ended in a draw and people are tossing popcorn and God knows what else at The Animal. George is leaving the ring area to the locker rooms and the police are escorting him because it's so bonkers in the Civic Arena. Then, a little old man gets past the railing and police.
The geezer proceeds to punch Steele in the back of the head! Reflexively, George swats back with a clubbed fist and was likely to kill the old man if it wasn't for the cop pushing gramps out of the way of George's hairy fist!
Again, I'm not doing these justice as I'm probably missing all kinds of details. Plus there were other good stories like two drunk women getting in a full on drunken brawl in the stands that stoped a match and more. I just had to document these great stories!
I got to see these matches up on ROH's site today. Its episode #344 , aired 04/20/18 for what its worth. All take place on the Supercard of Honor show from 'Mania weekend.
Ok with that outta the way, we go to the fights!
Kelly Klein vs Mayu Iwatami: This was pretty enjoyable. There were some flubs but, this wasn't meant to set the world on fire. I guess this was a semifinal to determine the Women of Honor champion. Kelly made a good first impression whereas I was hoping from more from Mayu. I've seen her in Stardom back in 2015 or 2016 and thought maybe she could have brought more to this. Nevertheless, this was hard hitting & competitve and A-OK in my book.
Sumie Sakai vs Tenille Dashwood: Dashwood has a very good look and character. Turns out she was Emma from WWE. That means very little to me...other than I can see why her character-work is really polished. As with the previous match, this was good but, nothing amazing. The highlight was Sumie bringing some mat wrestling to the show. That's something the modern product (oh I fucking hate saying that but, I've been watching WWE Network for an hour and it gets burned into your soft brain)....Mat wrestling is something that is lacking from the modern ROH show. So, it was nice to see even a flash of it here.
*So it turns out (per Wikipedia) that the previous matches were prior to the main show.*
Kelly Klein vs Sumie Sakai: This is for the WOH belt. This starts out pretty heated and does really well in topping the previous two fights. It was really good and building to something but, sorta just ends. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be longer but, I liked it nonetheless. I almost get the feeling that ROH management wanted all 3 matches to be less than 12 minutes so that they could put them on an episode of TV. As in, "Keep it short, we're gonna put all of these matches on the show. Wrestle for the TV show and not the PPV or live event".
Here's my gripe with that idea sorta in mind. Colt Cabana and the other commentator go out of their way to make ROH seem pro-women or "pro-feminist" by changing words around and making apologies. For instance, it's a fisherwoman's suplex or it's her-story (instead of history). These things aren't said with tongue in cheek either. Then, Colt talks about how they're making things right by finally having a championship for the women & they have Daffney, an old school ROH and Shimmer wrestler sit ringside to promote some historical-gender connection or something. It was a cool blast from the past though.
Initially, I felt that this was all some marketing/sales ploy to get a couple bucks from sympathetic viewers or attract female viewers by softly riding the wave of pop feminism. I was cynical of their intentions and well, I suppose I still am BUT, I genuinely think they are trying to be supportive. Sure, allowing more than 1 of the 3 matches to be on the PPV show, giving them more than 10 minutes per match, and putting the WOH title match above one of the FOUR other men's title matches that night MIGHT be MORE supportive but, it's something...I suppose.
Really, it's not much is it? It's embarrassing actually but, the real positive is putting the strap on veteran 46 year old Sumie Sakai. Clearly she's not the same in-ring but, she's got loads of experience. And that is what this group of women need in terms of stepping up their game. These wrestlers are not Charlotte Flair, Asuka/Kana, etc. They need leadership and guidance in order to approach that level.
It's a gutsy thing to have the face of your Women's division not be some young "hot chick" especially when your fan base is young men. I think everyone assumed Kelly was going to get the nod because of the youth factor. It was a good move to wait on that. ROH hopefully will keep the belt on Sumie for awhile and set the tone for their division as one of competition, athleticism, and progression.
If so, I'll probably watch it more regularly than WWE's women's division.
AJPW CLASSICS # 175
I took a little bit of a break there but, I'm back in the game. And I'm going to tackle AJ Classic #175 covering early 1989.
Joe Malenko vs Mighty Inoue (01/25/89): The Junior Heavyweight title is up for grabs. Remember this is WRESTLING so, there is a lot of grappling here. It's a bit dry and not as lively as I was needing at the time of viewing. Still, there is a time and place and if you're in the mood, this is a damn fine match for it. They do a good job selling the exhaustion and there are some really nice damaging looking suplexes from Joe too. Watch for the finishing move- it probably blew Joe's taint to pieces!
Footloose vs Johnny Ace & The Terminator (03/08/89): I'm not a 100% on the date as I can't remember if they reverse the day and month in Japan. I think we're OK. Anyhow, this is a new Footloose match for me which is great since they are probably one of my favorite teams. The gaijin team of Terminator and Ace are rocking super mullets...holy shit that's a stupid looking haircut. In the early 2000's, making fun of mullets was like a shared cultural experience but, it grew old. I don't care...look at their damn hair!
This is more of the action oriented '89 match I was looking for. Ace is super athletic and in great shape here. He does kinda shoot above his skill level by doing a clumsy skin-the-cat reverse head scissors, then a bumpy slingshot (twisting?) suplex and finally regular flying head scissors. That's one segment! This is 1989 man, you're doing shit like the Young Bucks' lost giant brother Johnny Ace Jackson ;P Another favorite Ace moment was yelling "Ask Him-Ask Him-Ask Him!!!" while he had one of Footloose in a abdominal hold. He yelled this 3 times in one breath...take it easy man!
Overall this was a very good match that started out like a strong TV match and then picked up once they got into the groove. I'd highly recommend checking it out. It has some funny moments, good wrestling, and is a nice showcase for everyone.
Jumbo Tsruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy (02/02/89): This takes place in the States and I think. The ring shows AWA but, I didn't think Hansen was allowed near the AWA after the incident with the belt from '86. It could have just been the canvas of the conglomerate of the remaining regional territories. This started out a little bland for my tastes but, I sort of expect that when I see these Japanese matches-in-the-States. Nonetheless, this turned out pretty good after the Olympics worked over Stan's arm. My two favorite moments are when Hansen kicks Yatsu's head like an old pumpkin & when Gordy dump powebombs Yatsu and Jumbo breaks the pin up with a nice stomp to the skull. Otherwise, nothing tremendous but, I'd still say it was fun.
Overall, I'd say this was an average AJPW Classics. Nothing outstanding and nothing terrible...It was a good way to get back in the swing of things. It'd be a nice hour long TV episode of wrestling to watch while having dinner or a couple beers.
Saw that Samoa Joe is on Smackdown now...nice! Even in 2018, I gotta say more Joe vs AJ & Danielson is always welcomed. It's a smart move too! I'm no WWE genius but, three future hall of famers working together seems like a no-brainer especially if they're gonna put Orton and Nakamura in the mix. Here's a little spotlight on Samoa Joe from 2005. If he can bring some of that magic to 2018, I might have to tune in.
Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (TNA Sacrifice 08/14/05): I thought this was a fantastic meeting of two of this generation's best wrestlers. It was really everything you could hope for in a match between AJ & Joe. Athletic, intense, and surprising. Also thought the ending was good for the match/story as well. A 100% clean finish or draw would have been preferred but, I think this match is still a classic.
Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi (ROH 10/01/05): This match had legitimate instensity as Joe was facing, no testing himself against Kobashi. He had to bring barbarian like intensity lest he be mauled. This was really great! I found the execution to be a little off at times especially on Joe's submission attempts, they were a bit loose. Overall it was above average though much of the match was comprised of strikes. And maybe that's a complaint some of the ROH fans have. It was very much a AJPW style match. There weren't amazing sequences, chains of moves, or the usual flashy business...just hardhitting, believable Kings Road style wrestling. Surprisingly, that King's Road or maybe Ark style (with all the macho strike-offs) was there as Joe paid homage to Kobashi's greatest foes & even the Orange Crush himself. If I can remember correctly, he did Misawa's elbow suicida & step-over facelock, Kawada's step kicks, soccer kick, & stretch plum, and even Kobashi's turnbuckle bomb. I thought that this really elevated this match above all the rest of ROH's stuff. It was great for those who didn't notice these parallels/homages but truly inspiring to those who did. This shows great judgement on Samoa Joe's part by acknowledging Kobashi's history, AJPW's history, and infusing it with his own. Re-Watch: Joe versus Kobashi is probably one of the greatest matches that has taken place on American soil in the past decade and in the decades to come. It has everythingdrama, story, crowd energy, the moves, the stiffness. It all comes together this night in NYC. Just beautiful stuff! It hits on a different level than the other 5 star matches because it is like the ultimate puro fan taking on the King of Puro and damn near beating him. Its totally for the marks but, Kobashi still has a reputation to uphold. And sweet Jesus, does he deliver! Bumping it up a half star to perfect-o!
Samoa Joe vs Jushin Liger (TNA Bound For Glory 10/23/05): Amazing cool entrance by Joe and Liger's wasn't too shabby with his NJ music, full shoulder pads, and streamers. Liger, sized wise, looked like a good match for Joe. Shorter but, thick as Joe. Crowd was amped.
Joe pretty much did his 'standard' TNA act here but, Liger switched it up from his 2005 routine and played it like a younger junior taking on the heavyweight. So, we got a few moments of brilliance from Liger as well as him taking to the air.
The only thing stopping this from being a great match was the time it was given. It reminded me of a Fire Pro Wrestling match where you get a Critical just as you're starting to amp things up. Highly recommended match and a successful dream match in my book.
Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (TNA Turning Point 12/11/05): AJ took it right to Joe and set the tone for this match. Intense and physical as hell. It was full of nice surprises,teases, hard way blood from both guys, and fantastic pacing. Plus, the post match kept the story going setting up Daniels vs Joe. This really is a classic match alongside anything they did in ROH. Its really a testament to how TNA was mismanaged. Styles, Joe, and Daniels could have been having classics like these for the Heavyweight belt for a few years instead we got 2000 era WCW redux and all kinds of other stupidity.
Here's hoping that the writers don't blow it this time around..I mean they've got Danielson and Nakamura this go around. Don't screw this up fellas!
Okay, we're back from WWE to conclude Ring of Honor's Winter Warrior show in Atlanta.
AJ Styles vs Bobby Fish: No belt on the line but, AJ is IWGP champion. This was a pretty good match. I researched it since I was a little groggy the first time around. It was not as awesome as it could have been. Technically nothing was wrong but, I guess I was expecting more. I'd still recommend it but, the singles match of the night honor goes to Strong vs Kyle.
The Kingdom (Mike Bennett & Matt Taven) vs The Briscoes - 2/3 falls (normal match, table match, No DQ/Falls Anywhere): Well, holy crap this was awesome! Those chanting fans ARE right! The team's really beat each other up. I've never seen Bennett or Taven but, they truly impressed me. I was afraid the were going to be hokey especially with Maria as a valet but, I was wrong. They were really athletic & matched the Briscoe Boys in brawling and crazy shit. And believe you me, there was some crazy shit. It reminded me of 2006 Briscoes vs Joe & Homicide. If you dug that then, see this! Great match or perhaps a classic? A must see bout from Dem Boys in any case.
As I've been on an ROH thing, I watched a couple less talked about fights from their Supercard of Honor from 04/07/18.
Kota Ibushi vs Adam Page: So this is my 2nd Page match in as many weeks...and I was psyched to see what he could do with Ibushi. 14 minutes of fireworks. Perfectly executed dives, strikes, and slams. A great match that builds and concluded just at the right time. **** 1/4 star match, I'd say.
The Briscoes vs Jay Lethal & Hiroshi Tanahashi: Everything looked really solid here. It was a basic smart tag match from vets. I even liked Takehashi which is saying something! The finish left something to be desired especially after their battle vs The Kingdom from above. I liked this regardless and would recommend it to fans.
Edit: 04/16/18: While I like ROH's recent stuff their business leaves a bit to be desired. They've updated their website and links don't always go to where they are supposed to. I've mentioned their high shipping costs in an earlier post ($11 for 4-6 dvds). But now I can add poor customer service to the list...and I am saying this as a head online retail customer service agent for the past 5+ years. Its been 10 days since ordering 6 clearance shows. I received an order confirmation but, no updates. So, I check my status on there and and it shows "pending."
Um...10 days is a little long to be pending. I'll send a nice email to their help/customer service address and they'll get me some info.
I'm thinking - I ordered right before WM so maybe they got a ton of orders or Supercard of Honor maybe leaves them short staffed in someway. I don't know...I'm pretty understanding. However, instead of an email from a dedicated CS rep, warehouse staff, etc. I get an one sentence reply:
"We are in the middle of relocating our warehouse therefore shipping is delayed
Sent from my iPhone"
Oh well, fucking thank you! 10 days after my order was placed. Of course there is no mention of this on their shop site, in the email confirmation, or social media. Any of these things would have been reassuring let alone a heads up before buying.
Again, I do this for a living so, I'm not being a prick. I've gotten yelled at, cussed at, been told I've ruined birthdays/Xmas/anniversaries, been called a liar etc. in my line of work. We sell fun gag items, tee shirts, and dvds. So, nothing where any of that behavior is called for especially when we're always very understanding and appreciative of the business. So, the type of flippant response I received is really sub par as fuck.
No apology for the inconvenience or delay...let alone a time line of when I'm going to get the shit I paid for. I did ask for this but, eh they couldn't be bothered. It was some chick responding from her iPhone probably on her lunch break. There was no indication who or what she is/does. I'm lucky I even got a response, I suppose.
I try to put in a good word for the places I get my tapes (DVDs) from but, shit ROH dropped the ball from a fan standpoint. I know streaming is the thing but, why even sell DVDs anymore if you're going to cop an attitude for people buying them? And at $11 S&H, a little apology would be expected since a partial refund would be way too much to ask. Cuz I know 6 Dvds don't cost $11 in shipping.
I'm venting rather than blowing up on the employee. Another indicator that I do this for a living, I guess I'll say this, be forewarned of ordering anything (including tickets) from ROH. Get what you can for free online and buy tix & merch at the show. If you can't make it or don't want to then, they miss out on the sales. That's on them!
Update: 04/20/18- Got my DVDs, woo-hoo! Everything was in good shape but, never got an update that they had shipped. I kinda figured that would happen. 14 days for delivery...I can deal with that. I would say that if you want stuff quick or have deadline, call first. It never came to that in my case but, I gotta think you'll get more help than email. Otherwise, you might be waiting in the dark.
Clearly, I'm on a modern wrestling kick as of late. I suppose I'm taking a little breather from FMW and AJ. Who knows I might even finish the wXw tournament!
Fortunately, I have the WWE streaming service free for another month so, I thought I'd see what the hype was about concerning NXT. That's not to say I'd never seen NXT footage but, I wanted to see this current crop of guys. It's kinda like ROH & PWG from 2013-16 with Roderick Strong, Red Dragons, Adam Cole, 2 of the 3 Grapple Fuckers, is Hero still with the company? Oh and they finally got Ricochet too! Plus Tommy Chompers, Johnny Gargano (I remember him from his Pro Wrestling Ohio days...really cool to see him make it), and our wXw friend Tommy End. I'll just say Mr. End has come a long way since 2010.
One thing that I don't like about the streaming business is that there's no way to skip ahead or back to the matches or chapters. I'm so used to watching DVDs that I really prefer it. I hear everyone enjoy all the different streaming services they have. That's cool but, I don't have the time, patience, or stomach to scan through (let alone watch) a three hour show.
It's OK though. This non-skip obstacle forced me to watch a match that I might have missed from the NXT: New Orleans show. You'd better believe I skipped the ladder match and the three way tag team match. That's way too much gimmerickery.
Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler: NXT Women's title on the line. I liked this match which is less and less of a surprise to me. Women's wrestling in the States is catching up to the men...or at least the stuff shown on TV. It is equal to or better than most of the men's matches. That being said, this was the weaker of the 3 WWE Women's title matches fought during the weekend. I'd still recommend it though.
Andrade Almas vs Aleister Black : NXT Title match. This was pretty darn good. I'd even say great however, it had superfluous moonsaults and "moves" when good old fashion hitting would have been better. That is to say, more intense and more logical. End oh *ahem* Black is a hell of a kicker so, why is he doing moonsaults? This reminds me of Kawada in Footloose. He was doing top rope moves and spins kicks. Sure, they looked really great but, when you can kick a guy straight in the face, why bother? Almas valet was really remarkable and the most memorable part of this match. I'm coming in never seeing them so, perhaps that's old hat but, I dug it.
Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa: Grudge match. For a guy that skips as much of the WWE packaging as possible, watch the intro video to this. Especially if you're ignorant of their backstory. I know them but, not as NXTers so, this really helped set the scene. If you're new to this story/feud then, I'd say it's required going forward. Coversely, I don't feel like I missed anything by not watching NXT on a even sporadic basis. I'd say it's like an update retelling of the Midnight Rockers split up...except Johnny and Tomasso really are friends.
I was hesitant to watch this because it had gotten a lot of pimping on the Match Discussion Archive. That and I'm not the biggest fan of 2018 wrestling. I am so glad that I didn't let those things stop me. Not only was it a gruelling battle but, it had a weight to it that few matches have. This was all punctuated by a finish that wasn't fade to black hammers but, instead one that showed a depth of emotions. I thought it was a classic. Bravo guys!!
I can't say I'm in love with NXT since I skipped two matches intentionally. In some regards, just don't like the WWE style of presentation. I didn't like TNA or WCW's main shows either. Saturday Night was good though. I guess I like a more bare bones approach. I don't really care for the gimmicks that the wrestlers have. It feels really focused on a 8-16 year old demographic. I mean I could see myself loving the characters as a pre-teen. I think I'd be an Aleister Black fan since he seems the most scuzzy/ECW like Nevertheless, I am really glad I watched what I did.
This was my first WrestleMania. No, not first time going...This was the first time I've ever sat down and watched the Show of Shows, Showcase of the Immortals, and whatever else they call it.
To be honest, I never wanted to spend the time or money on it. Back when PPV was the only way to see it live on TV, I never remember thinking, "Wow I've gotta see that show!" It always seemed like a bunch of fireworks, lights, and fanfare. Not my thing...plus its super long. I have school the next day dammit!
Well, I broke MY streak and watched it. I would say bought it but, I got it along with "the Network" free for a month. This was the #1 reason. I'm not going to lie. The #2 reason is that my fiancé is a Ronda Rousey fan and she was genuinely interested in how she would do.
That was the real #1 reason I guess...that and it was free, hahaha! No, we watched the Raw lead-in stuff on Youtube clips and it reminded me of classic Attitude era stuff. I was pretty psyched and more importantly my fiance was psyched. Once, I told her that we could probably watch match for free, she was all in
It is crazy to see someone who is not a wrestling fan be excited and emotionally invested in wrestling. It's even better that it's something we can share because outside of the Rousey/Angle vs HHH/Steph, I didn't know or care what was going on in WWE Universe (groan). I will say I was pumped to find out that AJ vs Nakamura was happening though...kinda like icing on the cake.
Overall, it was a good show...a little long but, enjoyable. My significant other checked out after the Rousey match. I can't say that I blame her either. All of the entrances and video packages, it was like 9 o' clock! It was the 4th match! I, being the true blue wrestling idiot, watched the whole thing. She liked the Smackdown Women's title match a lot which was a pleasant surprise to me. I figured she was in it for the one match but, she dug the fight as much as I did. It's nice to see the "Diva" bullshit is gone...Barbie dolls prancing around doing terrible looking moves and getting hurt while they're at it. Uh...no thanks...forever. I'll have to show her the Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss match. Reminded me a little of Aja Kong vs Toyota...eh sorta
Ok well I'll get on to the match reviews in case you're interested or haven't seen the matches or maybe want a differnt take on them. They'll be brief:
Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz: Tyler Black vs Prince Devitt sounds pretty good to me. Why they gotta throw the Miz in there? Hahaha...it's WWE, I guess. It's all good though. This was a really good opener. Just tons of well executed spots and a pretty nice finish. This is one that I want to rewatch.
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair: I was very impressed with this. I've seen just a smidge of WWE Women's stuff and I thought it was better than Diva era crud. It wasn't AJW but, that's understandable. This might come off as dated but, it was comparable wrestling to when Jazz was in ECW or Awesome Kong, Gail Kim, Akayo Hamada and Cheeleader Melissa were in TNA. This was a great match with stakes on the line. The actual wrestling was intense and the in ring story was fantastic as the finish was that climax to that. Top 2 or 3 match of the night.
OK I tuned some shit out because I needed to eat and walk the dog. So if this review section is missing stuff, it's intentional.
Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon: This was the match of the night. We were emotionally invested. Hell, I haven't been this into a match since I was 16 years old. I don't know if it's just me but it felt like an Attitude era build and payoff. I think everyone was wondering if Rousey was going to be good. Plus I think everyone was worrying that shit was going to get botched or look weak. Well, everything came off perfectly with Rousey performing up to and exceeding expectations. It's fitting that Kurt is her mentor as she is a natural. I wonder if they're going to have her be a Women's division competitor or have her do attraction matches for the PPVs. Technically this isn't as tight as Charlotte/Asuka but, it's checks all the boxes for a 1998-2001 WWF PPV main event. Weird that it was the #4 match. I guess they didn't want Rousey fans tuning out.
Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax: Totally surprised that another women's match was on the card. I was so thankful because whatever happened after the Rousey match until this was junk to me. It was a reminder of why I don't watch WWE. Let alone the Wrestlemania pageantry I suffered through. This was what I wanted though. I mean I would have been happy with Jax' destruction of Mickie James. That was some straight Jungle Jack vs Bull Nakano violence! Bliss is a little Diva-ish but, that's alright. She makes it work and she can wrestle. I highly recommend this match. Probably my #3 or 4 match.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura: WWE title on the line. I've been reading stuff that people did't think this was a great match. All I can guess is that their expectations were way too high. The largest chunk of modern NJ is 2015 which was Nakamura and AJ's peak of popularity and performance so, I can say this was pretty damn comparable. This was a NJ title match on WrestleMania. That's crazy! Younger folks probably cannot appreciate that and that's alright but, it's the truth. AJ Styles in WWE seemed possible but, a top Japanese talent like Nakamura is bananas. They did the best NJ style match they could with the story they were given to work with. Yes, this could have gone on for another few minutes and had the "epic" kickouts but, WWE is going for a longer run with them. It was a great match. I will say that Styles' Springboard Elbow as a finisher is stupid...but, then Roman Reigns' big move is a Flying Punch that's what you get.
Why the show kept going is beyond me...The tag match was stupid fun...Good for TV but, was a little tiresome at hour 56 of WM. And the main event...man that could have been something. 7-8 minutes of bombs with blood and tables. Instead, it was crap. It seemed like an intentional swerve to throw off the internet critics. I can't say I'd blame them. It's not like there's only a relatively small group of wrestling nuts like here on PWO. Everyone who's into wrestling has Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and all the other shit to use in order to bitch about wrestling and everything else. If I was part of the WWE higher ups, it would piss me off. I can't think they'd throw a middle finger up to their fans but, gosh, that's what the match felt like.
One match that I didn't review was the Bryan Danielson match. It was OK. It's nice to see he's wrestling again. He kinda retired in my eyes once he went to the WWE though. So, eh...I'd much rather watch him beat the everloving shit out of someone in ROH or Japan than do a watered down version.
Now that I've had a chance, this is how I'll rank the matches:
1) Rousey & Angle vs Triple H & Stephanie
2) AJ Styles vs Nakamura
3) Charlotte vs Asuka
4) Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax
5) Miz vs Balor vs Rollins
Overall, I'm glad I watched it. It certainly was something special. I can't say I'll actively try to follow WWE after this but, I'll use the rest of the free month to checkout Women's matches and perhaps some classics.
So, ROH has this show and a ton of shows on sale for like $2-3 on their website right now. Their shipping rates are a bit steep and antiquated. It's $11 for 4-6 items but, at two or three clams a show, that still is a great deal.
They've got 2015-2017 shows, nearly the whole year for this low price. I'm not trying to make this an advertisement. I just wanna spread the word in case people are getting DVDs. That's probably why they're so low...streaming man...streaming...
But, more importantly, I'm really digging this ROH show from 2015. So much so that I dropped a few coin and ordered a few from 2015 & 2016.
Here is the latest batch of matches from Winter Warriors- Atlanta:
ACH vs Moose: This is my first ACH or Moose match. Moose had a really good entrance and Stokely Hathaway looks like a fun manager/hype man. The fans are hyped for guys and I guess Moose played for the Falcons so, there you go! My favorite moves were Moose swinging ACH into the guardrails and ACH driving the big man Death Valley style. Very good match, a lotta fun.
Six Man Mayhem: Jay Lethal vs Hanson vs Will Ferrara vs Michael Elgin vs Cedric Alexander vs Tommaso Ciampa: According to Kevin Kelly, Ferrara is filling in for Jimmy Jacobs. Its all good because Ferrara was really good here. As expected, this featured all kinds of wild spots but, had some character work as well. Elgin was doing some heel shit or something but, Lethal was the best. Best probably in all aspects. His athleticism, character, and experience are very appealing in 2018. Anyhow, perfect match for its type and I'm sure worth the ticket price to see it in person!
The double main event is up next. AJ Styles vs Bobby Fish and The Kingdom vs The Briscoes in a 2/3 falls match.
Man, I was hoping to watch a few more matches but, I've got some business to take care of today & probably won't get the time. I did get to watch the 4th match on the card (I'm counting the Hollis/Gresham stuff as one match). I'm glad I made the time because this one is a doozy!
Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (02/21/15): This was a very dynamic & competitive match, a classic style ROH bout. This wasn't a TV match plus a little more. No, this was the hard hitting wrestling you want.
Kyle was like a shark going for the kill. He was going for kicks or combinations when standing and going for armbars when on the mat. Roderick was selling this damage really well...more than just shaking the arm or holding it. He adjusted his offense because of it and when he relied upon it to power his way to a pin, it collapsed on him. Nevertheless, he was practicing what commentator Kevin Kelly said was turning a good defense into a good offense. Or something to that effect
I thought this was a great match and probably a classic in the style. If you're reading this then, you'll probably dig this fight. It is exactly what you would want from these two. And for the #4 spot on a show, it over delivers without being overkill. An aggressive, masterfully paced & technically proficient wrestling match. That's hard to do in the 2010's.
So, I bought this DVD during a Black Friday sale. I heard some very good stuff about it. I was also interested to get it because it was not a major event like Death Before Dishonor, Anniversary Show, Final Battle etc. They come to Pittsburgh every year...sometimes 2 times and I want to go but, never seem to remember, something else comes up etc. Kinda wanted to see how they're handling the smaller shows.
Anyways, onto the show! ROH: Winter Warriors in Atlanta 02/21/15
First and foremost, the arena in Atlanta is very reminiscent of mid 2000's ROH. Crowd seems amped. I'm digging this already.
Caprice Coleman vs "P-Dog" Mike Posey: Fun open as Coleman squashes the cheap heat comedy/cringey P-Dog (think J-Roc from Trailer Park Boys). C. C. has some good moves.
Corey Hollis vs Jonathan Gresham: A fun minute or two before BJ Whitmer & Adam Page come out to lay a beat down. Hollis is like, "Fuck that! Let's fight!"
Corey Hollis & Johnathan Gresham vs BJ Whitmer & Adam Page: ECW PPV style impromptu tag match. The crowd is loving it! The faces look really good and shiny here. Page (as a heel) does a Shooting Star off the apron to Hollis...no fucking clue, man. It looked cool but, that was goofy. But, let's ignore that because this was a fun ass match. Gresham goes all Manami Toyota and we get a no tag legality action fest. It doesn't go into overkill either. I recommend this one!
Delirious vs Matt Sydal: Kevin Kelly does a good history recap here by letting us know about these fellows' back story. I felt it went a little longer than needed because I sensed they were winging most of it. I say that affectionately! They know each other so well that they did a very good job filling the time between spots. I could have done for less Delirious schtick but, its the #3 match. Besides the closing stretch is nice as the D-man eats kicks and knees. I'm never goona turn this matchup down. Its like 2005 all over again!
So far, so good! Certainly, an excellent vibe thus far. This will easier to watch and review the whole show compared to the wXw stuff as I don't need to bring out the laptop for the DVD+R discs. Huzzah!
It's the 25th Anniversary of AJW's super show: All Star Dreamslam!
Or just Dreamslam is OK too
The crown jewel of the interpromotional joshi era and the showcase for Akira Hokuto vs Shinobu Kandori. Its a joshi match for people who hate joshi.Just everything one could hope for in a wrestling match. Stiffness, mat wrestling, counters, blood, highspots and so on...all punctuated by a great finish. Akira Hokuto is excellent and Kandori is her perfect foil in this match.
But! There are other great matches as well!
Aja Kong & Bull Nakano vs Eagle Sawai & Harley Saito (LLPW team): Super stiff & throughly enjoyable match. If it would have been a bit longer it would have been better. I don't think there was any doubt of Kong & Bulll losing so, it was impressive to see the LLPW team kicking out of some great moves. So, maybe it ended appropriately. Re-watch: Yeah this is still a really fun match because the LLPW team are such underdogs. I mean even little execution problems are ok because it works in the story- they are not top tier wrestlers but dammit they're gonna do whatever they can to score an upset. Aja & Bull seem to really enjoy working with some fresh blood too. I mean you can just see it on their faces, especially Bull, when she does her suicide dive. I was like "Yeah this is the Bull Nakano that I love!" That & she's 20-30lbs. lighter here than in 1995. She even breaks out a tumbleweed leg drop IIRC. I'd like to see Harley Saito again too. She was impressive and worked well with Aja & Bull who can be difficult because of their frames.
Yumiko Hotta vs Dynamite Kansai (JWP team): Brutally stiff match, great begining which tapers off in the middle because both women seemed to have their bearings kicked loose. Still there are some good portions and the ending is just as brutal with Hotta delivering some Dr. Death-esque suplexes. The ending was pretty good but I'm not sure if the 3 count was accurate hmmm....great nonetheless.
Toshiyo Yamada & Manami Toyota vs. Combat Toyoda & Megumi Kudo (FMW team): A total change of heart with this one. I've seen a fair bit of Joshi since my initial viewing. There's no way this is a 3 star match as I've seen some rate it. In my first viewing I guess I didn't give much credit to Kudo & Toyoda. Ok so they're not Kansai/Ozaki but, that doesn't make this bad. It's refreshing as Kudo is kinda the budget version of Ozaki and Combat Toyoda is acolyte of the punk chicks like Bull, Aja, and Bison. Team FMW's offense isn't terribly impressive but is really effective Joshi fair.
Another thing of note: I'm less "wow'd" by
Manami Toyota in singles competition because she is predictable pulling out her spots. When she's in the ring, it's "offense" time & then its time when she's "waiting to be on offense." But! It works in a tag team because her crazy moves help get her out of a tough spot, or her go-go no selling is explained away by "recovering" on the apron. Yamada is also the yin to her yang in terms of offense too. She works holds, she has variety in her kicks, etc. If Toyota can be guided (not "carried" though!) she can be awesome AND she was guided in this match for sure (although she did blow one spot pretty bad...with a slip off the rope). FMW had her ass in a sling by just busting out the weirdest stretches and most impactful double-team moves. In total this was a great match with believable near falls, saves, and intensity.
The interpromotional stuff is just fantastic! If you're looking to get into women's wrestling but, the current stuff still looks a step down from the men's division, check this show out! It made me a convert
It's been a few days since posting as I'm taking a little wrestling break since I've got some other stuff going on. But anyways...
Here's some from AJPW from 22 years ago Today!!!!
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi- This is the first BIG match these two had in the Kobashi challenging Misawa feud. This didnt disappoint at all. In fact, its an awesome place for someone to start watching 90s AJPW. Its got the two bigger names going at it and not pulling any punches PLUS its still got the depth for the time period BUT isnt a spot match which they slowly would do. Awesome stuff and insanely they go on to top it! Also, this is a good way to kick yourself out of your blues. It worked for me! ****1/2+ type classic shit!
Toshiaki Kawada vs Akira Taue- This was a very good match that is a testament to the two guys and the company. Taue did dog a little bit but, Kawada brought it and saved the thing. Very brutal at times. I was sleepy so a re-watch maybe? ****1/4 great match
These are only the highlights but, I enjoy the heck outta them!
Steve Williams vs Tamon Honda- Lesson Dr. Death is a beast!
Gary Albright vs Jun Akiyama- Lesson Gary Albright will drop you on your head with a release suplex of some kind.
It took me a damn while but, here we are. The conclusion to 2010 16 Carat Gold Day 2.
Steven Douglas vs Absolute Andy: I started out liking this match but, I'll cut to the chase. This was the worst match that I have seen in a long time. The main detraction was being so fucking long. I can handle a little bit of bad...I watched Baba & Rusher vs Kimala & Abby from '89 the other day for instance. That was relatively brief and knew what it was as a match.
This thing...holy shit. It was amateurish and a poorly executed self conscious epic. I don't know who gave them over 15 minutes and the main event slot...considering how good the rest of the night was. I could sorta excuse their execution issues (Andy mostly) if the NO DQ stuff was a bit more brutal. Make this a deathmatch or something! Instead we got the same old tired chair stuff and sheets of particle board for tables!?
I couldn't fucking watch anymore. If they would have cut the B.S. down to 15 minutes this would have been a fun match but, this was an overlong turd.
I wish I would have known ahead of time and saved myself the trouble. Ah well, I guess that's why we take chance and watch these things.
I will add insult to injury and say if this is the standard of most wXw matches then, this is not my type of wrestling company. The fact that this was a world title fight doesn't give me much confidence in wXw. The shows thus far have been above average but, most have been non roster match ups. The DVD set has been worth the purchase price. I'm just really surprised that they would put on something this "local armory/VFW hall Indy" when you've got Chris Hero & Martin Stone putting on a great match right before.
AJPW CLASSICS # 174
Masa Fuchi vs Joe Malenko (01/20/89): This is for the Jr. title. I think it's the PWF Jr. title...that sounds correct. Anyhow, if you've seen either guy before and have enjoyed it then, there will be no disappointment here. This played up to both guys strengths as it wrestled in sorta a traditional title match style. Seriously, you'd be surprised if I told you this match happened in 1989. The only give away would perhaps be the last couple minutes. However 80% of the contest was on the mat. Fantastic mat grappling with 2 or 3 rope breaks total. They're working the holds and escapes, not crawling. Crawling is for babies. Look at Joe! He's a spokesman for Hair Club for Men goddammit! He's a man not a baby! Howabout Fuchi? Howabout Fuchi! Pockmarked and middle aged, he's no baby either! Babies want their bottle...the only bottle these men want is a cold golden bottle of beer. Preferably while celebrating in the locker room with the title you son of a bitch!
Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura vs Abdullah the Butcher & Giant Kimala (03/08/89): I passively watched this...I did an email, played with our cats/chased them off the furniture, etc. Baba was the best, if that's an indication. It's not actively bad but, it's just filler. I get why they put these on the shows especially relatively recently after Baba passed away. It think these were aired in 2000.
Great Kabuki & Kenta Kobashi vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (09/15/89): I think the date on this might be 09/15/88 actually. I say that because I think the same Sumo wrestlers are sitting front row and center for that match in Korakuen hall. Also, it seems kinda weird that AJ Classics would be showing matches from Jan. & Mar. and then, September.
Everybody goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Kobashi is pretty much brand new out of training and looks fantastic. Yatsu and Jumbo are working their butts of for the K-man. That's not to say Jumbo doesn't try to stomp the youngster's head like a empty can of High Life. Kabuki plays a great mentor/spoiler that Olympic can't quite get a handle on. We actually get a KA-BU-KI chant...how awesome! Plus the soon to be iconic KO-BA-SHI! makes an appearance as well. I really dug this match. It build up incrementally and had a really nice finish as a result. An engaging, great 89 (or 88) tag match!
Edit: I checked cage match and it was 09/15/89
Ok so the 2nd part of 1992 is not that chock full of stuff. The first half seemed like it was but, much of the year is left to handheld stuff which is not online in the free kind of way. The rest is clipped by the FMW World of F volume #3. We do have the 3rd Anniversary show on 09/19/92 commercial available. Here is the card and you tell me...if you want this in full...
Kevin Faule & Chris Jericho vs Eiji Ezaki & Koji Nakagawa
Eriko Tsuchiya & Miwa Sato & Kumiko Matsuda vs Rie Nakamura & Victoria Kazumiya & Yumiko Komatsuzaki
Sabu v Shoji Nakamaki
Amigo Ultra & Ultramancito vs Valtanian 1 & 2
Loc Matrere vs Katsuji Ueda
Big Titan & The Gladiator & Horace Boulder vs Sambo Asako & The Great Punk & Ricky Fuji *Stretcher Match*
John Tolos v Killer Kowalski
Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto vs Combat Toyoda & Megumi Kudo
Tarzan Goto & Gregori Veritchev vs Leon Spinks & Brian Sayodill
Atsushi Onita v Tiger Jeet Singh *No Ropes Exploding Barbed wire Death Match*
Yeah, I wasn't too into this show either. Onita = FMW so the card as a whole was never a big concern. The importance of the show is that we see the match that started the interpromotional era in Joshi! Whoo-hoo! I'll get to that in a sec.
This is not all in a bubble though. Remember, we've got W*ING in Japan now. It's very clear that although FMW and W*ING are considered to have two separate small but, loyal fanbases...FMW took a talent hit by losing Victor Quinones and his connections. Being a W*ING fan as well, I can say Mr. Pogo, the Headhunters, Miguel Perez Jr. all would have greatly helped Onita & co. out. The tag division became more of a focus in FMW as they had enough workers to actually HAVE a division (see Dec. FMW Street Fight Tag Tag Team Tournament). Sure, it was a way to make Onita look stronger but, eh old man Sheik (who I am a big fan of in the 70s) and Tiger Jeet Singh isn't that appealing to me. This potential for the greatness is very apparent when it was clear how awesome FMW could be by late '91 and the Mexico/USA matches in mid May with just a couple of fresh faces.
Ok onto the Joshi! AJW vs FMW!
Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano vs Megumi Kudo & Combat Toyoda (09/19/92): This was clipped to 6 minutes from 14 minutes. I call bullshit but, there's a handheld available. Probably from way back in the seats or down low since this was outside in Yokohama Stadium for the explosions. What we do see on the commercial release is pretty damn good (and well spliced!). It's pretty much all the fast paced highlights. Bull & Akira knock fuck outta the FMW gals but, like Onita they show that never say die attitude. Very enjoyable and recommended stuff. Per BAHU & Steve Ayy's FMW podcast, some AJW girls were considering jumping to FMW's women's division. Of course that didn't pan out but, is probably the catalyst for the AJW owners OKing the interpromotion stuff to keep them happy as well as rake in the bucks.
I was going to put a fork in '92 but, I couldn't give up all the way back in Sept. especially when late November and early December does have the Street Fight Tag tourney. It's all clipped matches but, some pretty good. Oh, they take the Street Fight stuff seriously as they're all in street clothes...jeans, tees, etc. These are the one's I wanted to watch:
Onita & Veritchev vs Tarzan Goto & Big Titan (11/27/92): Even Greg the judoist or samboist is in street clothes. This is pretty vicious and fast paced but, that's clipping for ya! Onita's bulldogs on Titan are insane! Greg even's off the top rope. What!? Unexpected finish too. 5 minutes of 12:30.
Onita & Greggy V. vs Sabu & Kareem Sudan: That Kareem guy is a Abdullah the Butcher clone...no for real. Like he might as well be Abdullah II. Greg & Sabu have a nice sequence of sorts.
Goto & Titan vs Gladiator & Horace Boulder (12/07/92): Clipped Mayhem! This looks like the craziest shit ever due to the cut & paste job. Seriously...tables, chairs, fighting amongst the fans, off the ropes, dives...It looks like the last minute or two is show unaltered. 4 minutes of 6:52 shown...c'mon just show the whole thing, right?
Onita & Veritchev vs Goto & Big Titan (12/07/92): Tournament finals here and they are a no-rope barb wire and barb wire board (on the floor) match. Good start but, the faces get like 2 offense moves in here. I'm waiting for the Big O headbutt-DDT comeback from nowhere but, it never comes! Like wha!? really? Clever finish but, 6 minutes off about 11 are shown. It's from the same night as above so, it's allowable. I could see diggin' this in a commercial tape format. Onita theatre after the match with the Wild Thing cover playing as the video goes slo-mo and in black & white for that added mother fucking drama. O-NI-TA!
It's a suitable close to the year of '92. It's not as stellar as 1990 nor as innovative as 1991 but, it's growing as a company. That much is clear. Just not a ton of complete footage. Here are the possibly worthwhile matches only available as handheld that would have been wonderful if the FMW tape people should've put to VHS.
Atsushi Onita, Sambo Asako & Mr. Gannosuke v The Gladiator, Sabu & Horace Boulder (06/26)
Atsushi Onita, Sambo Asako & Mr. Gannosuke v Big Titan, The Gladiator & Sabu (07/19)
Atsushi Onita, Tarzan Goto & Sambo Asako v Tiger Jeet Singh & Big Titan & The Gladiator (07/29)
Looking forward to them putting it all together for a great 1993.
In late 1991 and early '92, I would say Onita's matches are NOT the "go to" stuff they were in 89- mid 91. He still is the main attraction and the company is just a vehicle for his accumulation of wealth and adoration but, other talent is developing or getting signed. Ezaki and Gannosuke are the big two that are coming up the ranks although not quite featured players at this point. The American talent is who I am considering at this time.
We got Big Titan, Mike "The Gladiator" Awesome, Sabu, and Horace Boulder all really making a name for themselves at this time. Big Titan even beats Onita for the title. That's a big deal! Titan is pretty good in FMW since he and Awesome both bring a athletic big man dynamic to FMW. This is something that hasn't really been featured or displayed in the company perhaps due to Onita's limited ability to work due to his past and probably current injuries. Sabu and Boulder bring this as well. Sabu is also willing to go into the barb wire as much as or more than Onita. Tarzan Goto is coming into his own as a worker as well. He's a bleeder and a brawler but, is much more mobile than Onita. So, Onita-san is being overshadowed in my opinion.
The fan base at the time doesn't care but, I'm sure they see it. The FMW fan is more about the Onita theatre than, overall match quality. I say this for the fact that Quinones and Mr. Pogo have left to help form W*ING so, FMW has brought in The Sheik (who is in his late 60's) and um Leon Spinks (ask Inoki how that went). The Onita 1992 program is kinda lackluster in comparison to '90 & '91 but, there are some highlights. I'm thinking of the FMW in North America matches.
Atsushi Onita & Tarzan Goto vs Big Titan & Gladiator (11/20/91): Wild fighting amongst the fans from the get go. This is a handheld btw. Eventually, things get in the ring and this is more like traditional puro than Onita's Frontier wrestling. So, Onita is the weakest of the three. Titan and Gladiator are like a budget Steiners/Hellraisers/Scott Norton early 90's power team like NJ was doing. It is a nice change of pace to see "moves" amongst the brawling. Goto's kicking ass but, Onita's days of tope suicida-ing are gone me thinks. Recommended match for sure.
Tarzan Goto & Ricky Fuji vs Titan & Gladiator (01/10/92): Ricky Fuji is on the rise skill wise. So, this makes for another recommended workrate handheld match. The highlight was Goto chest passing a fucking table into Gladiator's head. Awesome indeed! ;P
Now we kinda enter clip city for what's available online. BAHU has these in full as handhelds and some may be worth acquiring.
Onita, Sambo Asako & Amigo Ultra (Damien 666) vs Titan, Horace Boulder & Genghis Khan (03/20 or 03/25? 1992): This a clipped match but, here is an example of Onita still having "it." This is wild stuff! 5 minutes of 15 shown. 10 minutes of awesomeness missing or 10 of crap?
Onita & Asako vs Sabu & Horace Boulder (04/23/92): Sambo is a roley-poley (rollie-pollie??) or let's say dumpy fat guy. He's not the type of guy you want to go out to the bar with if you're intent on chatting up some birds. He's not much of a wrestler either but, damn he gets the job done No rope barb wire match here and we start seeing some the the death match staples but, remember this is 1992. Hot shotting Sabu on the wire, choking him with it & eventually tossing his ass into it- he gets tangled in it much like his Funker match from '97. If you're an ECW fan, this is the era when 'Bu got all the scars. Not to be outdone Onita gets wrapped in the cut wire which is another innovation...of sorts. Mad Onita theatre at the end of this. It's 3:50 out of 14 minutes but, it compelling stuff.
Combat Toyoda vs Megumi Kudo (05/02/92): Toyoda and Kudo are pretty much the ladies division in terms of talent. Alpha & Omega...the other women just aren't that good. So, these two are starting to get some notice esp. Kudo. According to BAHU, she's the #2 draw behind Onita. Just mentioning that to keep things in perspective regarding FMW's growth as a promotion despite Onita using it as a means to an end. Clips again but, man this looked really good. Kudome shows up in a pink princess gown and the Combative One ain't having that sheet. 6:30 out of 11:36 shown and certainly worth looking for in full especially at that run time. Just show the whole damn thing 1992 FMW!!
Onita, Mil Mascaras & Hijo del Santo vs Tarzan Goto, Negro Casas & Giant Warrior (05/15/92): Giant Warrior is a giant waste of space here. This was done in conjunction with WWA whom Onita has a relationship with. FMW's belts are technically WWA belts (but were made up for Onita and have no history). The FMW in Mexico & US shows were done to help promote Onita internationally in the hopes that he could become an international star to some extent. I think perhaps like Tenryu & SWS/WWF. More on this in a moment. This was random fun and very lucha oriented as it was in Mexico. Certainly a dream tag team would be Goto & Casas. It was great to see them actually working together here. Frankly, Mil in FMW in '92 would have been cool. Onita & Mil vs Sabu & the Sheik in a street fight match would be a dream match regardless of ages or ability.
Onita, Tarzan Goto & Hijo del Santo vs Tim Patterson, Negro Casas & Horace Boulder (05/16/92): This is the 'famous ' one as Dave M. saw it and gave it 5 stars. The pairings are much better and the FMW guys are shining through very strongly. I guess that's why this was given such a high rating. This style was relatively unseen in the States especially at this time. I mean think of '92 WWF and then watch this mayhem
Santo Jr. & Casas are tearing it up in the ring & the FMW guys are wild on the outside of the ring. There is wrestling madness happening in every direction here...in the ring, off the top rope, in the bleachers, at ringside with chairs etc. 15 minutes of chaos. The pacing was set for a 2/3 falls match too so, it's at a break neck speed. I wouldn't rate this as a classic but, would say it is required viewing of some sort. The energy & intensity are so high for 1992 that's it's crazy to see. A great match.
Now, the interesting part is that this match takes place in CA (I'm guessing LA). It's mainly a Latino crowd but, there are some Japanese fans there rooting for Onita. It's not clear to me if these are people that flew over for the fight or more likely Japanese Americans/exchange students/visitors who are wrestling fans. It's not important in the context of the match. It's more along the lines of where Onita's mind was headed in terms of business. Per BAHU's History of FMW podcast for the first part of '92, SWS wanted to co-op FMW, Onita, and it's fan base in this period. FMW was drawing very very well (much better than SWS). SWS was working with WWF and this in a sense would scratch Onita's back in terms of international exposure/fame and give SWS a boost in the revenue department.
Ok I'm going to stop there for today I'm not going to watch/review the Sheik vs Onita stuff for obvious reasons OR Onita vs Spinks...beyond obvious. I will say- watch the Onita & Goto vs Sheik & Sabu Fire Match. It's only a few minutes and is infamous for being the first Japanese fire match AND nearly setting the ring on fire. All the guys had to bail and it was considered a draw within 3 minutes.
For more details and awesome historical insight checkout Steven Ayy & BAHU's history of FMW, first part of 1992 which is my source as well as BAHU's FMW site.
Missed yesterday's post. I'm running out of suitable material for some of the odds and ends of days like Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays. Or I get distracted trying to find stuff for those days and miss the mark on my projects like today's wXw 2010 16 Carat tournament post.
I came through today though! Before my laptop ran out of batteries
Martin Stone vs Chris Hero (Day #2 tournament match): This was really evenly matched and probably one of the better tournament matches thus far. Starts out with both men trying for hammerlocks or wristlocks and then, the gates to stiff strike city are opened. Chops, elbows (from Hero, duh), and euro's & haymakers from Stone.
Reversals & fake outs are the hallmark of 2010 wrestling and those were here but, not to the extent that they felt contrived. Stone is a fellow I'd like to see more of. 2010 Hero has been pretty darn good.
This was 15 minutes of great stuff. I'd say around the 4 star range.
Started watching Absolute Andy vs Steve Douglas No DQ & Falls Count Anywhere title match. My battery started dying but, this is what I've got written in my notebook:
Starts up on the balcony, a trip through the restroom, up on some tables, Andy takes a tumble down the steps. This is a lot of fun so far! ECW or Attitude era brawl.
Hope to watch the rest later and report it here
People have soured on the 90's Jr. Style but, think its still pretty fun. This match is one that I've gone back to a few times and should be watched. There might be some spoilers below but, I tried to edit those out somewhat.
Ultimo Dragon vs Shinjiro Otani (08/04/96 NJPW): I loved the beginning portion of this match as Shinjiro would not be sucked into a Magistral cradle...a possible parallel to Dynamite Kid/Tiger Mask...not wanting to be tricked into one of the lightning fast moves Dragon & Tiger respectively have at their disposal. Eventually, both guys slowed down and did the usual creative mat wrestling, which was punctuated by Ohtani trying to snap Ultimo's shoulder/elbow in an arm bar. This segment was great but the comparison to Dynamite/Tiger ended here. Too often wrestlers scoot over for a rope break rather than escape the hold. Ultimo Dragon is the king of quickness so I expect him to be able to reverse a hold or escape in spectacular fashion. It's possible that Ohtani was just too smart or too quick tonight for this tactic but I would have liked to see a proper escape only for Ultimo to be snared into a more devastating hold. Both men were equals and I think that this course of action would maintain this point by demonstrating that Ultimo is quicker/craftier but Ohtani is stronger or has more guts. Certainly this match was great despite this difference in taste. To address the general nature of the bout, strikes were stiff when thrown and execution was beautifully accurate. I just loved Ohtani's springboard moves. He really connects! The only downside, which is quite minor, is that the ending was sudden. Dragon seemed to say "Enough of this foolishness! Let's finish it!" Which was smart since the whole match Shinjiro was watching out for the flash-pin only to get out-powered. Neat twist to a NJPW Jr. classic!
Rewatch: Yeah this match still is pretty great especially since the matwork is exciting. And the rope breaks didn't destroy Ultimo's cred.
RE-re-watch: Oh my goodness this is still one of my favorites. It really makes me appreciate the greatness of Otani too. Hot damn is he good on so many levels. He references back to the early 80s with NJ standard bearers wearing the black trunks (Inoki, Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, UWF guys etc.) and he certainly has the mat skills to back it up. It makes me want to see this Samurai/Otani match by the wayDragon is no slouch either. He is quicksilver and really does appear to be the heir apparent to the Tiger Mask as I guess he would assume for a short time in the mid 2000s. I cant go on too much about this one. Its just one of my favorites because it does everything it needs to do and the more wrestling I watch the more my fondness grows. I crave more Otani and Dragon for sure.
The next batch of DVDs in the AJPW Classics series pick up with 1989 but, I'm not quite done with '88.
Here are some more great matches from 30 years ago!
Yatsu & Tiger Mask vs Tenryu & Kawada (01/23/88): This is a highly recommended bout. Good action, stiffness, and a little hardcore excitement makes this one memorable.
Footloose vs Mighty Inoue & Takashi Ishikawa (03/11/88): This bout was everything amazing about late 80s AJPW- weird moves, teases, tricks, and smart work. A great match for sure!
Revolution vs Tiger, Isao Takagi, & Shinichi Nakano (06/09/88): A match full of rope running, strikes, and Tiger Mask II diving. AJPW meets lucha perhaps yet, hard hitting like I hoped for. I highly recommend this match as well.
Isao Takagi & Tiger Mask II vs Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada (07/16/88): Oh wow! What a great match! It starts out like it'll be just OK but, nothing more. But then everyone Brings IT! (Misawa) Mask does an awesome Shiryu somersault tope. Tenryu just potatoes Isao. I've never seen anyone load up like he does here...busting Isao open. Kawada is on point with his kicks and top rope moves. This is all energy and passion. Great match!
Footloose vs Shunji Takano & Shinichi Nakano (07/19/88): Yeah, this deserved the hype it had gotten years ago. Fast & loose 80's AJ style. A very simple Jr. sprint match with many counters/reversals but, nothing flashy or unbelievable. They wrestled to win. Kicks, slaps, clotheslines... wild and fast. Plus there's a rematch! (See last Saturday's post). Great match, a classic indeed.
John Tenta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Tenryu and Kawada (10/03/1988): Tenryu and Yatsu hating each other, Kawada trying to prove himself, and a person not typically associated with great matches or work rate just fitting into the mix seamlessly like a later Baba, Rusher Kimura, or Great Kabuki. In this case, John Tenta. He was so good here that you'd think he and Yatsu were regular partners. They looked like quite the force here.
This is the type of wrestling that doesn't demand you set aside an hour of your time, doesn't require that you buy into the flash, hype, or gimmicks. It is just there. A simple story with straight forward action. Most importantly, it puts a smile on your face
Plus! A 12/10/88 match between Kawada & Tenryu and Jumbo & Yatsu that is really good and a great set up to the RWTL final with Hansen & Gordy.
Scanning through some upcoming episodes, we do come back to 1988 for some reason! AJPW Classics up, up and away!!!
Here we are about half way through 1991. The focus is clearly still on Mr. Onita. Goto is back to the #2 and Pogo is the main heel. I found out from BAHU's podcast that Kurisu was let go in '90 for tussling with a fan. So, our camo pants clad villain is the main Onita foe.
Atsushi Onita vs Mr. Pogo (05/06/91): This was the first exploding barbwire board match. Its all about tension and thrilling the audience with suspense. Everyone ate shit. It was great! Quinones and even a camera man nearly got blown up! Onita had a thousand yard stare- covered in blood, eyes wild like a man possessed. Its probably not the most dynamic match in the move department but, it's fiercely brutal. At 13 minutes, this was really great.
Onita really is the king of the death match. Who else would be crazy enough to say, " yeah throw me into barb wire and have a pyrotechnic go off a foot away from my head"?
Tarzan Goto gets in some bull rope fights in 1991! Oh yeah!
Tarzan Goto vs Invader # 4 -Hair vs. Mask Match - Bull Rope match (05/29/91): About 5 minutes of madness. This is very good. Headbutts and punches yet a set up for the next show's match.
Tarzan Goto vs The Gladiator - Bull Rope Death Match (06/15/91): This is handheld footy but, its stable and clear. So, I'm down Like the Invader #4 match, this gets going right away... No time wasted. This one is a bit longer and better fought. Awesome brings a fire. This is probably the earliest matches of his that I've seen. Lariats, slams, double juice...it's totally what ya want PLUS its not very long. Quick and to the point. Recommend watching this one!
Onita vs Tarzan Goto (09/23/91): Electric barb wire cage match. Its getting crazy now! Fierce stare down, dueling headbutts, and Onita takes the first fall into the cage. Oh its a Texas death match in the cage...nice! Oh shoot, double impact- KAPOW! They're cut in all kinds of places. Goto's hitting Onita hard but, the big O turns the tide. Goto hitting the cage again and again but, won't stay down for the count.
This was much better than their 1990 electric barb wire match. Onita-san's transition to control stunk to be frank. He just "took over" and ran through his stuff. It was fun and still something I'd recommend but, not the absolute war the stare down teased.
Super Strong Machine, Tatsutoshi Goto & Yoshihiro Ito vs The Great Kabuki, Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura (06/17/93 WAR): The inclusion of Kabuki made this one a must watch. Glad that I did! This was a nice quick paced brawling-in-the-ring six man. It was fun but became memorable when Kabuki's team started beating up Ito toward what seemed to be the 2/3rd mark. Koshinaka was elbowing him in the jaw, and 'buki snap punched him the in the same fashion all Strong style as the kids say. Raging Staff (Strong Machine's uncomfortably named stable) was adroit. They kept up their end of the bargain...
Genichiro Tenryu vs Mr. Pogo (04/19/96 WAR): Started pretty good with Tenryu brushing off Pogo's strikes. Pogo responded, 'it's saw time brutha!' He got a couple good scrapes in along with a bulldog on a chair. Then our hero makes his comeback! Stiff chops and punches, yes! This is fun stuff!... And then Pogo quits. No, seriously he gets his shit, gets in a car, and splits. This totally seemed like a shoot...still..there was a car waiting there WCW style.
Its all good because Tenryu beats the ever loving crap out of Pogo's second. The fans cheer this.