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Spotlight: Jun Akiyama in 90's AJPW

I exhumed a load of reviews from the grooveyard for this one. I'm psyched to do it though. Jun Akiyama is one of my favorites I hope you enjoy reading and you take the time to go back to good old days of 1990's AJPW! OK let's get this started! vs Al Perez, vs Ted DiBiase  (1/15 & 10/23/93): Both of these are worth checking out for that fun house show type of match. Both opponents kept the action and pace going for a couple entertaining matches. Its especially cool to see DiBiase back in AJPW after his very good run back in '87. Akiyama & Takao Omori vs The Fantastics (01/29/95): This was a highlight reel match for both teams. It wasn't heavy on the drama or story but damn! it featured quick action Watch for when Jun gets some Hashimoto nose blood. Good match and fans of these guys should take the time to watch it. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama (Champ Carnival 03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. Great Match perhaps a Near Classic Toshiaki Kawada, Johnny Ace & Takao Omori vs Stan Hansen, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (04/15/95): All Japan had some of the best six-man matches that you'd think they were M-Pro in '96. But yeah AJ was doing it in the late 80's & early 90's and if you didn't know they were even doing them in 1995 too. This was a surprise for me but, I'm not going to fawn over it. 4 out of the 6 guys are bonafide greats, and Omori has got the chops and Ace knows how to hang with the group too. I mean he's got some 5 star matches to his credit, right? So, you put all of them together you're going to get something enjoyable. That's always been my rating scale on all of these...how much I enjoyed them There were so many neat stories here with everyone being Champ Carny runners-up for one then you've got: Hansen beating Kawada a month earlier for the belts, Kobashi & Ace at the same show went toe-to-toe during their tag war, then you've got Kobashi against Kawada who not only went to a draw in Jan. but they went to one during the Carny, and then you've got Akiyama vs. Kawada which is always awesome and the story of him & Omori as up & comers as well as being All-Asia tag partners (either around this time or in the past.) AND you've got Hansen, the last of the old guard showing he can still go. Whew! The fact of the matter is that with all of this they didn't need to do too much to make this great but, being the best promotion of the 90's they sure as hell did AND then some. The more AJPW you watch the better the match is. Classic stuff! Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams/Johnny Ace - (06/07/96 Tag Team Titles): A pure 20 minute plus spree of excitement and near falls. Ace has never looked better, and his chemistry with Akiyama is what made this match so great. Doc once out of the limelight really showed his strength as a brilliant tag wrestler. He and Ace were such a standout team because of this dynamic. Akiyama played his role brilliantly and Misawa was ace but also senpai. This was his role here and it was masterful as ever and touched an emotional nerve. The dynamic with Doc and Akiyama was rough in the early going but as it became more heated, one forgot this segment of the action. It was clear this match was for Ace and Akiyama to shine and they did not disappoint. A classic for sure! Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. It was different and helped slow down Akiyama who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasn’t going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boy’s arm out of the socket. That’s alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, that’s not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, and Asako are the one’s with something to prove. The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. Great final match for a TV episode…I’d love to be a teenager again and see this at 10:30 at night before going to bed and thinking about it all the next day at school! Reminds me of ECW Hardcore TV in that way. Very good match. vs Mitsuharu Misawa (04/18/98 Champ Carnival): Whoa! Blue Bomber coming in with the game plan! This might be the birth of Akiyama - the genius. Here he is precise like a surgeon opertating on Misawa. Elbows, dropkicks, leg locks etc. but, the Emerald ace is double tough & plenty dangerous. This 20 minute match showcases excellent timing and pacing that crescendos with a badass finishing segment. A near classic match, damn might even be a classic in my book. Smart and violent wrestling in the AJ tradition. vs Kenta Kobashi (07/24/98): What a match! I really enjoyed Jun's persistant focus on slowing Kobashi down. He had a slew of surprising attacks against the Orange Crush's knee. They felt so organic. Of course, this all would be meaningless if it wasn't for Kenta's masterful selling. This is the timeless Kings Road 'blurred reality' selling where its very difficult to tell if the damage is real or imagined. I liked this match much more than than the Kawada vs Kobashi 06/12/98 bout. I feel that match-up had been done to death. Besides, I felt Kobashi never fully clicked in singles encounters with Kawada. Also, Kobashi refrained from hulking up which always has to be noted at this point in his career Anyhow, I thought this match was a classic! vs Yoshinari Ogawa (09/11/98): Two geniuses go at it in the squared circle! This is an all action bout with lightning counter moves from Ogawa with Jun keeping pace and selling just enough to keep Ogawa in the fight. Rat Boy is underrated a hell and such a breath of fresh air. I loved this match and so did the fans. Great match! Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (10/11/98) – This was a great little tag match. Kawada was just pissed and brutal. He was beating Akiyama, he was beating Kobashi, and he himself got beaten for good measure too! We all win! Akiyama had a spirited showing as well. Kobashi and Taue do show their wear and tear so, this wasn’t exactly everyone in their prime but, this still kicked a fair bit of ass. It’s that unpredictable appeal of very late 90’s AJPW that had me interested in this one for sure. Anyone can win in these matches and more importantly- anyone can lose. Great bout. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (01/07/99) – The first few minutes (?) were clipped from this match. I’m a little bummed of that but, in all honesty I think AJPW’s clippings are superior to let’s say NJ or M-Pro’s clipping of things. They always seem to pick a nice point to pick up the action and ride it on out. Ok so, it starts with the original “Burning” picking apart Kawada’s knee. From there Taue gets in and brings the fire like it’s 1995! He must have gotten a good night’s sleep because he’s kicking with pep. The man’s throwing dropkicks like he’s a youngster. I love it! This is especially the case since Kobashi is all taped up…I think from a bout with Vader perhaps. Anyhow the Holy Demon Army go rabid over this. Akiyama’s there doing his spots and sequences and it’s nice but, Taue really brought the shit tonight! This is an all action match with bags full of energy and pep. The teams were really feeling the electricity in the air on this one. It wasn’t hall of fame stuff but, I still don’t think anyone was doing matches this exciting in 1999 Japan. Great! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (03/06/99 AJPW): This was a fantastic must see match. That’s not just for very late 90s AJPW either. This was surprisingly awesome. Misawa and Ogawa’s chemistry is great. Burning has come together as a team in their own right and were equally impressive. Plenty of great tag team maneuvers and teases. This was an AJPW  style that went back to the early 90s in terms of surprises and timing. This was not the King’s Road pinnacle style yet, there was a glut of excitement and drama nonetheless. I could see anyone who would want to get into the 90s All Japan style to start out here. It’s got everything. It really encourages me to checkout the late 90s AJ scene more. This was a true gem. vs Takao Omori (09/04/99): If you are a fan of either guy then, damn man, you need to watch this!! Knees, lariats, armbars, attacks off the top rope, man! Why did people thing AJ sucked in '99? It has a big match feel, it has a nice early focus on grappling then, organically transitions to big moves but no MKII finishers which was refreshing. This is very similar to 2012-2015 actually Great match! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (10/23/99 Tag Titles): This maybe one of the greatest action style tag match ever done. Now they did edit out a portion at the beginning but, I can’t think it was too much. The combat here was hot and hard hitting throughout. Ogawa of course brought his chicanery but, worked so fast and tight that he deserved to be in a true title fight. Misawa was not a slouch either, proving he still has it with multiple dives and splashes. Kobashi was Japanese Hercules and Akiyama had finally grown into his boots. The Blue boy brought the moves and stiffness we didn’t really think he had until NOAH. Other than that I can’t say enough good things about the match. So, I will declare it’s not the same match you would expect in the heydays of 93-96 but, it is just an awesome display of grit, drama, and courage. I would seek this match out without hesitation. One of those matches I slept on for awhile but, so glad I finally got it - classic match!
    
Burning (Kobashi/Akiyama) vs NO FEAR (Omori/Takayama) (10/30/99): I hadn’t heard too much chatter about this match until the 1999 PWO Yearbook. It’s certainly one of those matches an AJPW junkie wants to see just in case it’s an overlooked gem. Well, this is an overlooked gem for sure! Takayama is just about on par with the blonde haired bastard from the 2000s. Omori is just a beefier version of the ass kicker from 95-96 that was giving guys a run for their money. So, to give a summary- This was heated and intense. NO FEAR showed they belonged by handing Burning’s ass to them. Takayama was especially brutal. It’s as we’ve come to expect just, a few years earlier that he’s given credit for. It’s a quick match for AJ standards but, it delivers just how you want it to. Very good! Vader & Steve Williams vs AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (02/20/00 AJPW): Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. This is the time and place where Vader & Dr. Death shine. Near Classic to classic match. Thank you for reading!!! Now go watch some wrestling!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: TAJIRI

Its been over a month since my last blog post but, I've been watching plenty of wrestling. I'm revisiting Kurt Angle's awesome early years in TNA as well as bouncing around YouTube for classic match ups. My Wahoo McDaniel kick has been a blast by the way! In addition to that great stuff, I've been catching up on some Tajiri stuff that I've missed. Not his WWE stuff mind you but, some odds and ends after he went back to Japan as well as some Tajiri as ECW fan favorite era stuff. So here we go! Spotlight: Yoshihiro Tajiri

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs Super Crazy (02/06/99 ECW Fancam Taping - Concord, NC) Gotta start with the classic match-up but, a lesser known one. There's something to be said of these fancam tapings. For one, you're not dealing with the doppy fans that most TV tapings have. These people are just there to see some wrestling. Anyhow, these folks got their money's worth in this match-up. They do their perfect blend of lucharesu here and it really rivals some of their best bouts. It was so fast and crisp and surprising. They did counters here that I don't remember them doing, or if anything this was the first time they did them. Plus the crowd made it great because they were reacting to everything. It reminded me of Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite in Madison Square Garden because these people just had never seen anything like this before...the Japanese Buzzsaw and the Insane Luchador were like something from outer space. They were throwing caution to the wind but, it was a brilliant display of athleticism and spectacular spots. Of course, the selling and development of a story were minimal but, this type of wrestling and the burgeoning feud doesn't lend itself to that type of match. I'm not sure that they ever topped this match in terms of execution, "Toyota" pace, and diversity. This really made both men look like budding superstars. Great match

vs Steve Corino (05/14/00 ECW Hardcore Heaven)
ECW was on one knee at this point and it's apparent in presentation and the audience composition. It just didn't feel like ECW anymore and this somewhat tame spot match reflects that. However, this still outshines what WWF & WCW were doing in terms of the hardcore wrestling style. I mean, Corino is bleeding bad and that is just damn entertaining to see Honestly, I did not write anything of note regarding Tajiri here so, I figure he was pure babyface spotting in this match with his Tarantula which was as over as ever being the key spot. That's cool. This was a good to perhaps very good match depending if you're giving nostalgia points out. And dammit, I am!

BIG JUMP in time here

vs Fit Finlay (02/19/12 SMASH 25):  SMASH was Tajiri's spiritual successor to Hustle and this was SMASH's final big show. There's a really great lead-in video from Tajiri talking about the importance of this match, as well as, talking about the ferocity of Dave Finlay. It really establishes the drama of this title match in that it is not only about Tajiri having the title at the close of the promotion but, also in proving something to himself. The Buzzsaw looked really good early on getting ahead of Finlay. Of course, Fit came back strong by upping the violence. He attacked our hero Tajiri in the ring and on the floor. Yoshihiro wouldn't quit and tried to mount a counter attack but, the Belfast Bruiser was one step ahead. He blocked, reversed or straight countered Tajiri's signature offense. The Japanese man was in the fight of his life (which played off the lead-in video SO well). This desparation made him doubly dangerous and he finally put Fit on defense. Who would survive? This was such a punishing, dramatic match. It was everything I hoped it would be. A near classic (if not a classic) encounter. It is a must see if you're a fan of either man OR just a wrestling fan in general.

Tajiri & Mikey Whipwreck vs Yusuke Kodama and YO HEY (05/26/12 WNC): This is from the 2nd show of Tajiri's new company. Mikey gets on the mic and asks the fans if they want a hardcore match ECW style. They're hell yeah! and so am I. He and T have spikes and give the younger team a tour of the building. The Buzzsaw tries to toss YO HEY from the balcony, oh man! But, I could call this a comedy ECW match but, Kodama and YO HEY aren't having that. They bring the offense that forces the vets to up their game. Sure they get a couple more gags in but, it gets good at the end. This was a ton of fun especially if you miss Mikey, he does great and gives an emotional talk at the end. 

vs Starbuck (02/17/14 WNC): I'll admit I was never stoked on Starbuck from a name standpoint back a few years ago. Clearly, I could only think of the coffee chain store and I was pretty sure that this dude was some kinda high-flyer. Eh...no thanks. But boy! Was I wrong! He's a very solid back to basic European wrestler. Right on! Tajiri was vicious in his armlocks and kicks so 'Buck had to make space whenever he could -  rolling out of the ring, getting a rope break etc. The Veteran would not let up but, Starbuck would turn that aggression against him by timing his counters. This wasn't the most modern match but, it was very good stuff. It told a good story, the execution of moves and body language was spot on. It was simple believable stuff and I dug it!

vs Sanada vs Matt Hardy (Wrestle-1): Fuzzy on the date but surely after 2014. Another fun nostalgia match but, with some good wrestling and laughs. It was good to see Hardy and Yoshihiro can put on a good three way dance without having to try for their moves of yesteryear...especially since Sanada was more than happy to do it for them! Man, I dig pre-NJPW Sanada. A total feel good smile on my face the whole time match - right on!

That's a good way to close out this entry!

Thanks for reading and sorry for the long wait!!

G. Badger

G. Badger

NOAH You Might Have Missed - 2018 & 2019

Here's my take on some semi-recent NOAH stuff: Doug Williams vs Yoshinari Ogawa (12/16/18): Gosh remember 2018? Man, where has the time gone? Seriously, I know a lot happened last year but, we're a quarter of the way thru 2019 and I'm still trying to get used to that, aren't you? In the same vein, Williams and Ogawa let you know that the past is present. This was like a 1988 AJPW Jr. title match with holds, counters, and good old fashion wrestling. Hey it might be slow for some but, damn this was a fun match!! What a breath of fresh air in this smoggy decade's end! This Decemeber 16th show was a big one for NOAH but, man- I wasn't feeling it...although there was one other match that caught my attention: Kotaro Suzuki vs Daisuke Harada. This match was good but, the last 5 minutes were especially enjoyable. Then we get some post match madness and I always dig that!! The follow up is:
Kotaro Suzuki, Yoshinari Ogawa & YO-HEY vs Daisuke Harada, HAYATA & Tadasuke (01/06/19): This is Korakuen Hall six man action and damn it is very good! NOAH still knows how to do this 17 minutes of excitement that cuts out all of the slow extemporaneous bits of of the Kotaro vs Harada match out. This had heat and the tandem moves most notable Ogawa and Kotaro (Misawa's other protege besides Marufuji) doing Untouchables moves - Oh man! so cool to see 20 years later! This was just a great follow up to the above match in more ways than one.
SO then I decided to back track:
Daisuke Harada vs Kotaro Suzuki (10/30/18): There was a Halloween in 2018?! When the hell was that!? Oh wait I remember sitting in my house with the lights off until 8pm...occasionally glancing out the window making sure no teenagers were fucking up my shrubbery. Ahem...anyhow...We get a much better match than their Jan 2019 encounter. This baby has intensity, the fans were into this, and maybe the moves came across better. I dunno but, this was some very good stuff! I liked this! Trick and treat perhaps? Ehh, that doesn't work in March but, dammit if I'd been on the ball a 5 months ago, that joke would have been spot on! Spot on, I say!!! Hahaha! So, my ever-so-often check up on NOAH was fun. I totally avoided the Go Shiozaki & Nakajima matches since they are the same damn chop-kick matches for the past 10 years. But, I found some fun stuff with Ogawa, Kotaro, and Daisuke Harada and his gang. It's a very Indy feel over on the Ark but, it's fun. I'll be sure to check it out some more this year and maybe you will too! Peace!    

G. Badger

G. Badger

NJPW You Might Have Missed: Juniors 2010 - part 3

Thank you for your patience! I'm going to conclude the singles portion of this project here so, read on!! (6/10) Yoshihashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi: This was OK. I liked the opening mat section but, this felt like a by-the-book junior match. I think there is some drama here as Yoshihashi was part of the NJ main crew but as in a Young Lion/Junior member capacity. I say that as I've seen him paired with Taguchi in some tag matches. So maybe there's something here along the lines of YH proving his worth yadda-yadda but, I'll be honest I might even say SKIP this one. It just wasn't worth the 10 minutes in my mind. Gedo vs Kota Ibushi: Gedo's swearing and trash talking has been a real treat with the project. I crack up every time he tells some one off This match was no exception. His smack talk also strenghtens his dislike for his opponents especially Ibushi. "Come on, Golden Boy!" as Gedo slugs the comely Kota in the jaw. Oh man! That's good stuff K.I. comes back like a technico by finding that opening and wow-ing the fans and his foe with spectacular offensive maneuvers. And dammit! It works here because there's a reason he's doing his flips and dives. He's gotta his skill and agility to best the tough, crass vet! GO KOTA GO!This was a really standout bout in the 2010 BOSJ. 10 minutes of very good stuff here, go see it! (06/11) Jushin Liger vs Davey Richards: A good match that featured a Davey going after Liger's arm. Richards played the young aggressive gaijin going after the never-say-die veteran Liger. If this was a larger show, they could certiainly have put on a great **** match with this story/layout. I really enjoyed this one even though it was only 9 minutes long. Ryusuke Taguchi vs AKIRA: A match of parity and dueling leg work. This was a neat little story as both guys decided they'd hobble each other. There was some good selling and neat transitions but, neither took it so far to delegitimize the previous portion of the match. That is to say, they didn't sell it like a torn ACL only to be running and diving a second or two later. I like this. It was a different match and told a story most people shy away from nowadays. Good match. (06/12) La Sombra vs Jushin Liger: Shades of Liger vs Hayabusa Super J Cup 94 baby! La Sombra was like 'Screw it! I came here to highspots!' JTL hits his backbreaker and shotei palm strike and is looking to make an opening but, the young luchador shuts him down. We get a countout win after he hits a springboard inward somersault facecrusher on Liger on the floor! Now I think it was supposed to be like AR Fox's inward somersault plancha but, how Liger caught Sombra and vice versa made it look like a face crusher/bulldog on the cement. Hells yeah! 5 minutes...sorry to spoil it but, you gotta see it for yourself. Davey Richards vs Kota Ibushi: This wasn't the most developed match and my favorite part was when they were hitting each other BUT dang it! It worked! This was an all action bout and other than an iffy frankensteiner this was spot on. Probably not as good as their ROH bout around the same time (I think) but, this was good to very good stuff. I mean if you're interested in this you'll want to spend the 11 minutes on this match. If you dislike either guy then, uh yeah...I can't say it's what you want Kenny Omega vs AKIRA: I really dug this bout - high level of energy and excellent laser focus from AKIRA on Omega's knee. The Canadian sold it very well. He let us know it was hurting him enough to throw his offensive momentum off but, when pushed he could pull it together. AKIRA kept on it though. Kenny was in real trouble and he needed to put that fact at the forefront of his mind for the rest of the contest if we was going to win. He gave a great performance in building up hope, showing fighting spirit, yet still impressing us with his maneuvers. Likewise, AKIRA put on one of the best outings of the BOSJ round robin in constructing a spirited, intense battle that was believable and interesting even though it focused on a submission based attack in 2010 AND was only 10-11 minutes long! Very good to perhaps great match. So, the MVP of this is totally Gedo! Maybe I'm biased from growing up seeing him in all the sleazies and ECW (check out Jado & Gedo vs Impact Players) but, dammit- he really brought a real sense of hate to his matches. Many of the others we're technically great but, lacked emotion. There were exceptions, notably AKIRA vs Omega and the Hayato matches. This has taken me longer than expected but, it's been fun and something neat to do during the middle of a snowy afternoon. And really, that's the real treat here, NJPW has a bounty of good to great 10 minute matched on Youtube for people to enjoy. So, yeah watch Fujita Hayato's, Gedo's, Omega vs AKIRA and a Davey and Ryusuke Taguchi match and you'll be all set! Thank you wrestling fans!! We'll take a slight detour to some recent NOAH You Might Have Missed and then hitting the 2010 Jr. Tags. There are some real bangers in there!  

G. Badger

G. Badger

NJPW You Might Have Missed: Juniors 2010 - part 2

Sorry for the delay! The weather has been a little bit better the past two weeks and I've been able to get some skating in. Plus I think I needed a little break from wrestling. Nevertheless, I'm ready to pick up where I left off and get back to NJPW's Junior scene circa 2010. We're still watching the Best of the Super Jrs. round robin matches. From June 2nd (06/02/10) Tama Tonga vs Yoshihashi: I missed this one on the previous post but, no biggie. It was an OK match. Nothing fancy but, it was not bad. Just a quick little match. (06/04) KUSHIDA vs Kota Ibushi: It was weird seeing KUSH in something other than his McFly get-up but, even weirder was seeing him in red & gold shorts with bleached blonde hair. Whoa! Anyhow, this was very much an offense oriented match and was quite impressive. The crowd was digging it but, for some reason it didn't "get to me." It was good though and others may like this more. Fujita "Jr." Hayato vs Tama Tonga: A fun match pitting Tonga's power against Jr.'s kicks. It's very simple yet quite satisfying. 9 minute match and I've read that Hayato injured his foot during the match and had to pull out of the rest of the shows. Watch this bout and see if you can figure out where/when it happened. This is a shame since I was very much enjoying his shoot style leanings.  (06/05)
La Sombra vs Davey Richards: So, we get the first appearance of the American Wolf Davey Richards. Yes! This time with NJ created some buzz back in the day as he used to appear with NOAH fairly often and now he was going to be working with New Japan. His hard hitting style is very puro influenced so, to see him working in NJ gave them impression that they were looking to mix things up in the 2010's. To be honest, the 2000's for NJPW had some high points but, overall it was pretty stale what with dabbling in MMA-centric bouts, tired match ups and uninspiring stables. So, for a big name in the US scene like Davey to align himself was exciting. But to the match at hand -  it was a good bout with nice moves. For a small show round robin match, it delivered. Some folks on the YT said it sucked but, that's B.S. They probably thought they were going to go buck wild despite the circumstances. Well, this is a New Japan house show folks... (06/06)
Kenny Omega vs Tama Tonga: Bullet Club battle right here!  No but, it was a nice Junior power vs power type of match. Like many of these matches, there wasn't a ton of selling but, it was fun watching these guys toss each other. I gotta say the Hadouken and Croyt's Wrath are great here!  Prince Devitt vs Gedo: Gedo jumps Devitt from the get-go and dominates him for a good portion of the match. Of course, the Irishman comes back and damn! does it feel good! This is the best match so far in the project. The in ring story is there, the selling is there, the action is there, and we get humor too! Like Gedo telling the ref to "Shut the Fuck up!" on a couple occasions and pretending he's not going to use the ring bell mallet as a weapon AGAIN. Hahaha! Not to be out done, during Devitt's comeback, the Prince advises Red Shoes, in an un-princely manner, "Get the fuck outta the way!" I dug the hell outta this match. - It becoming clear to me that NJPW was trying to rebuild their Junior division much like they did in the 90's Golden Era. Get those talented Gaijin! Thanks for reading! Comment below if you see when Hayato got injured and I hope to be much quicker with my next installment. 
 

G. Badger

G. Badger

NJPW You Might Have Missed - Juniors 2010

This is a project that I've wanted to start for some time now but, I couldn't find the right way to get going. Here's how it starts: Bryan Danielson vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato (UWAI 12/03/06): I have to be honest, I've never heard of UWAI but, the person hosting it on the 'tube is the same person who has all of the Big Mouth Loud shows for viewing. So, I have to assume that it's an 'offshoot' (using that term loosely) of BML. Anyhow, I really recommend this match to anyone who's only seen 'Daniel Bryan.'He just stretches the hell out of Hayato here. 10 minutes of that is time well spent! OK so this match got me interested in Jr. Hayato. I'd heard some good things about him earlier this decade but, I never really was that interested at the time. But, this match showed me the type of bout he preferred despite being a Michinoku Pro guy. SO, it looks like he participated in the 2010 Best of the Super Jrs. league and welp! that's all I needed to pick up the project that I'd put off for months - early 2010's NJPW Jrs. Why not!? I figure I've been looking at ROH for a puro blog so, let's keep it real, like the kids say! This will probably be a multi-part thing despite my best efforts to keep things neat and tidy. I just keep finding more and more interesting little matches hosted by NJPW's Youtube channel. I am not going to be a complettionist so, if you end up digging these match-ups and find one that I missed, by all means share it in the comments! Just to give you a sample of who were talking about: Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, La Sombra (Andrade "Cien" Almas), Fujita "Jr." Hayato (duh!), Prince Devitt (Finn Balor), Tama Tonga, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Yoshi-hashi - Damn! From the 06/01/10 show: Yoshihashi (before YOSHI-HASHI) vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato:  A very good, intense bout. Jr. looked like a leg kicking Terminator. Yoshihashi was good as well but, Jr.'s technique was superior. The finish really drove that home. Some might not love the finish but, I certainly did. It looked like a MMA finish where the ref has to call the guy off. Hells yeah! Koji Kanemoto vs Kenny Omega: A good match where Omega's job was about selling rather than acting all strong and shit. Koji went for the ankle lock here to shut down the Canadian. Ryusuke Taguchi vs Tama Tonga: Tonga is fully doing the Tongan thing here but, you know it works! He's like the powerhouse of the tournament and this match shows that versus Taguchi's technical prowess. If all you've seen is goofy Taguchi then, I implore you to check this version of the dude out. Sure, he's the Funky Weaopn but, the emphasis is on weapon. JIP match, 6 minutes. Jushin Thunder Liger vs Gedo: I love it when people get legitimately butt hurt about others putting Thunder in quotations. Who gives a shit at this point if people think its a nickname or part of some defunct anime from 30 years ago (holy crizza I'm old)? I digress! Gedo and JT Liger put on that "simple but good" match that you know they could (would?). And by gosh, it works! Nothing like seeing a babyface get back at a heel! 11 minutes. Kota Ibushi vs La Sombra: JIP (why? I have no idea!), but this is a blast of a spot match. Both guys were putting on a show for the live audience -  springboard moves, dives, top rope flips, just a ton of fun! A very nice one camera-no commentary show! Like CHAOS vs NJ from 2010, this is looking to be highly enjoyable BUT...wait, what's that? We're not done yet! One more match... From 06/02/10: Kenny Omega vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato: This was a intense sprint battle. A fantastic Day 2 match for the Super Jrs. league. It was extremely stiff with great suplexes and I loved the heck outta of it. NJPW gatekeeps a lot of their stuff because of their 'network' but, this puppy is floating out there for free on their Youtube channel. If you're a cheap ass like me, and you're reading this becuase you're genuinely interested -  watch this bout. It's around the 10-12 minute mark and, even if you don't care for the newer style, this is at the very least a very good popcorn -  fireworks Jr. match that'll make you smile and/or cringe. Its not a classic but, dang it is a blast! So, I hope you enjoyed reading! More match ups from the 2010 Super Jrs. including a real winner in Devitt vs Gedo *Spoiler* Gedo drops some Engrish F-bombs Thanks!  

G. Badger

G. Badger

Enter the reDRagon - Finale & ROH TV 01/11/19 #382

I have clearly been on a Ring of Honor kick lately. Having a grip of clearance DVDs will do that to a fellow! Young Bucks vs reDRagon (05/17/14 - War of the Worlds 2014): These two teams work very well together and here is another damn fine example. MMA'er Tom Lawlor (Filthy to you!) is seconding Fish & O'Reilly. He adds credibility to the DRagons and plays a really fun role especially early on. The Bucks are their usual selves and never slow down more than they have to. It works very well here because the match has a real sense of urgency from the get-go. It may be a shorter match but, it completely works in their favor. The Hammerstein crowd was sedate but, even they into got into it at the end. A quintessential ROH tag match and a near classic tag title bout. Shoot, O'Reilly's combo at the end was worth the time and money alone...die Bucks die! ;P Its crazy to realize that Fish & O'Reilly are in NXT and the Bucks are doing AEW. Despite losing the talent, they will push on. That's something Jay Lethal made a point of to Sam Roberts in an interview. I thought that was a great point. Case in point, ROH episode #382 from 01/11/19. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tracey Williams: 12 minutes of stiff hitting and snug grappling. There was only one or two throws/drops the entire match. There was a Death Valley Driver that would make Etsuko Mita proud. I could say that it probably didn't belong in the middle of the match but, this was more like a BattlARTS match than your standard bout. It was a move of desperation rather than going for a 'finisher.' Speaking of a finish, this one really felt great especially with the in ring story. It was all toe hold and arms in this heated, fast, physical bout. A great match! Briscoe Brothers vs So Cal Uncensored (Kaz & Scorpio Sky): Here we have a rematch from Final Battle and this was awesome. I would expect no less from these two veteran teams. I think I like Scorpio the best with Kaz at this point because he throws a little bit of 'believability' in there with his jumping knee strikes. Anyhow, this match really had everything including a fun ref bump with Tod Sinclair. I can't believe that we essentially got a PPV/Big show match on free TV. Cheers dudes! Great match. There was also a fair women's tag match but, I just wasn't feeling it especially since I did not care of the teams (watched Klein vs Rose Street fight at  Honor Reigns Supreme instead). But other than that, this was an awesome show! Now, I believe that the entirety of SCU is heading to AEW but, hey it is all good. It's not like it's been the first time and I'm sure they'll be welcomed back if the time comes. Dem Boys remain along with Taven's Kingdom, Dalton Castle, and it would be fantastic to see Zack & Williams in a regular capacity mix it up with them, Jeff Cobb, Marty, Lethal et al. They could put on some really great feuds as well as elevate other guys like Silas Young & Gresham who I think ROH wants to get behind in a big way. And that doesn't even begin to tackle the new talent they've signed like PCO, Bandido, Lee and the like. Very excited to see what ROH does in 2019. It seems most people like to shit on it nowadays but, I think it's a really fun company. Sure it doesn't look like it did in 2014 or even 2018 but, history shows that it may be for the best! Thanks for your time!!!   

G. Badger

G. Badger

ROH - Raising the Bar - 2014 - Night 1 & 2

I think the best way to tackle this post is to review both nights of the Raising the Bar event(s) from March 7th & 8th 2014.  I'm going to give the major take-away points rather than my somewhat longer reviews of the matches in most cases. These were fantastic shows put on by Ring of Honor that haven't gotten much hype. Night #1 - Milwaukee, WI Silas Young vs Jay Lethal: These guys are well suited to work with one another. The size and athleticism is compatible. The crowd was into this especially with the hometown Silas support. A worthwhile opening contest and a very good match. Tyson Dux vs Michael Bennett: This was your simple tough muscle guy kinda match. It was the right length and in the right spot to keep the energy up. Good match. Outlaw Inc. (Homicide & Eddie Kingston) vs Adrenaline Rush (ACH & Tadarius Thomas) vs reDRagon: This match could have been great but, was hampered by an X-division-like stipulation where Outlaw and Rush need to pin the champs to win the titles, if they pin each other or DRagon pins them then the titles don't change hands. This is made very clear (too clear) by Nigel & Kevin Kelly. HOWEVER the wrestlers didn't seem to know this, didn't care, or forgot. They worked the match like a "normal" 3 way dance tag match- first fall eliminates the one team then, the remaining teams fight for a winner. For the sake of your enjoyment, mute this so you cannot hear Nigel talk about how much these guys are fucking up the logic of the match. Because, LOGICALLY, all Outlaw or Rush would need to do is pin reDRagon and the match would be over AND they'd be new tag champs. Again, this would be a much quicker and focused match if it was worked this way. So, there was major miscommunication between the announcers, the wrestlers, etc. and it is a head scratcher at times since they do a PWG free-for-all. It's fun but, kinda stupid and long. Cedric Alexander & Adam Page vs BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs: Fortunately, this simple match gets the show back on track. This match had a good story (this was early Decade stuff) and Roddy sitting in with Corino & Kelly was helpful. Roderick Strong vs Chris Hero: Metropolis' own is recently back from his first NXT stint to start his back to the Indies tour (which got him back to NXT with a giant gut). This is a great hard hitting match like you would expect. Solid **** stuff. Here again, I will criticize the commentary. Jimmy Jacobs and Corino are jaw jacking like it's a shoot interview. It's good information and certainly is part of the Decade's grizzles/jaded veteran gimmick but, it DETRACTS from the action inside the ring. Again, you'd be wise to mute or turn down the volume. Then, of you want to hear their inside baseball watch the match again with the volume turned up. -So, at this point I've decided to watch the Main Event with the sound off- Kevin Steen & the Young Bucks vs Michael Elgin & the Briscoes: The talent involved was going to produce a very good match with very little effort. I had expected this going in. However, I did not expect this to be a classic bell to bell action bout. Elgin's ability to catch & carry, the Buck's speed and bumping, Steen & the Briscoes historical chemistry and veteran smarts made this something special. Additionally, everything was masterfully executed with teases & fake-outs to keep you on your toes. They opted for smart interactions rather than trendy yet predicable ones. That really is what I need to see as a longtime fan. That and the fact that everyone was as tough as nails meant this wasn't over until it was OVER. Classic ROH 6 man match! -It was so awesome that I thought it was the end of the show! But, we have one more- Adam Cole vs Matt Taven: Cole defends the recently won ROH World title against Matt Taven who has impressed me here in the 2013-14s but also on the current ROH show. The dude is talented. BUT let me get this out of the way: He whiffed big time on a suicide dive. I don't know what happened but Cole was like a foot in the wrong direction and Taven ate floor. Like a professional he & Cole went on to have a very good match. Seriously, that little miss was the ONLY blemish on this otherwise wonderful underdog title fight. Taven was only in the TV champ position so, the goal was more to have the Panama City Playboy be a fighting champ and raise Taven's stock a little bit. After the match the true contenders [Hero, Elgin, Steen, Jay Briscoe? (I can't remember. In my notes I wrote Elgin twice for some reason)]. confront Adam to stake their claim on the belt. Night One summary: Pretty damn great show! I rarely watch a DVD from start to finish in a sitting but, this one had a great pace and kept me entertained. This is a must see or must buy as it's on sale or clearance. You've got two very good matches (Lethal/Young & Cole/Taven), a great hard hitting vet match (Hero/Strong) and a classic 6 man (Bucks & Steen/Briscoes & Elgin). Night #2 - Chicago Ridge, IL Tyson Dux vs Michael Elgin: Teacher vs pupil. Corino and Kevin Kelly are already having their own fucking show :/ but the in-ring action tops whatever they're blathering on about. A good match with an impressive finishing stretch. Everything looked organic and necessary. Elgin puts over Dux, nice! Good way to open the show. Adrenaline Rush vs BJ Whitmer & Roderick Strong: Those Decade shirts are pretty ill. Adam Page is now their quasi-young boy which is funny to see nowadays. I frankly like him better then. Anyhow, this is a good tag encounter. Rod is especially nasty. Wait til he spits at Tadarius Thomas and nearly hits the lady in the front row. She's like "What the Fuck!?" Good action match and a fine #2 bout. Jay Lethal vs Mike Bennett: Maria adds something to Bennett's aura...um...those aren't pants. Anyhow, this was a very good match where the solid wrestling cliches worked very well and kept the energy up. A bit of comedy, good wrestling, there's nothing to hate here Outlaw Inc. vs the Briscoes: Yeah, this lived up to its potential for greatness. It took me backto 2006 with 'cide & Jay locking up...man I got goosebumps! This is that throwing shit, face smashing wrestling that you want. Heck this took me back to '98 as it was like an ECW tag title fight. Great stuff! Matt Taven vs Silas Young: A short but effective match to follow up that maddness. Watch for Taven's kick to Silas' head! Fun! Kevin Steen vs Cedric Alexander: I felt Steen was leading Cedric through a "by-the-numbers good match." Very WWE style where technically its sound but, lacks that 'umph' in the intensity department. reDRagons vs the Young Bucks: Tag titles are on the line. Matt's arm is in a cast which Fish & O'Reilly focus on. This is appreciated! Also, there are some nice wrinkles to standard spots from each team and some truly believable false finishes. Again, I like wrestling to be surprising This match really was nothing to sneeze at and the Bucks had two amazing nights of wrestling. I tend to downplay them nowadays because they receive so much praise for what I think to be old hat schtick. But in 2014, they still put their all into the rings as did Fish and O'Reilly. Great **** level tag title match. Adam Cole vs Chris Hero: ROH World Championship on the line. There's backstory here which the announcers provide. Hero made Cole submit to the "Stretch Plum!!-Stretch Plum!!" ...sorry Kawada flashback...Hero made Cole submit at the Anniversary show but, the ref wasn't there to call it. So, match-maker Nigel McGuinness gave Chris a shot under the Ring Master's Challenge stipulation. This is a 2/3 falls match where it's pinfall only, then submission only, and finally a 15 minute iron man if needed. I'm sure this gimmick match has some logic but, I fail to see it. Have it be submission only OR 2/3 falls OR an Iron man- why all 3? It's OK, I don't have a problem with it per se but, it doesn't really benefit Hero. Cole can win by pinfall, he can make you tap with this Figure Four, and he's in great shape so an Iron Man is no problem. Same with Hero - elbows to KO, stretch plum, and proven wrestling machine. *sigh* Anyhow, the stipulations were worked really well by the two, the layout was nice, and they put on a very good match. Not amazing or ground breaking but, very good overall. Night Two summary: A very good night of wrestling with no low points unlike night #1's Tag Team bungle. Two Great tag matches in two different styles, a very good gimmick title match and everything else was very enjoyable. I'd say it is a notch below night #1 BUT, it felt like it ran smoother due to that weird reDRagon/Rush/Outlaws match. That being said, I have no regrets getting this show. Raising the Bar was a two night success in my book and with many of these guys being stars in NXT right now, it only makes sense to check these shows out if you weren't sure. Or like me, you want to see them beforehand Thanks for reading!

G. Badger

G. Badger

All Elite Wrestling - This seems oddly familiar...

I wanted to give my opinion on the big topic of the new year: All Elite Wrestling. I'm not in the know in terms of facts and figures concerning the owners or the talent its centered around. I don't know what their income is or what they're worth or any of that financial stuff. Similarly, I don't have any scoop on which wrestlers or other performers are going to sign with the company. It doesn't seem worthwhile to post any of my opinions or suggestions in the AEW topic on the main forum. This is more about my take on the whole thing rather than news or debate. It feels that everyone is really excited about all of this because it's a pretty big shake up. Three pretty big wrestlers who worked for ROH and NJPW have branched out on their own and are getting even bigger friends (Omega & Jericho) to join them in their new company. Along with them are some more prominent Indy wrestlers as well a couple more friends from Japan (CIMA and I'm guessing Ibushi (who's Independent) will work with them). Oh how exciting!! It certainly is a bit of a shake up since everyone who's never listened to a shoot interview from the Bucks or Omega thought that they'd go to the WWE. Or at least that's what the YouTube channels wanted us to think. That seriously would have been a creative blunder on their parts so, it's neat to see them go it on their own. But, I don't know what people are expecting. That is to say, I don't know IF, from a match quality standpoint, they are expecting anything different than what PWG has been doing for about a decade. And I don't know if they are expecting angles, stables, arcs, and feuds either. At Jump, I have a couple rhetorical questions: OK you've tentatively got Kenny Omega, the #1 wrestler that everybody wants. But who are they going to have him go up against? Who's out there on the market that he could work a engaging program with? Is Penta and/or Fenix available? And for how long? Cody has more competition on his level but, is this really interesting anyone? What about the Bucks? They can work with anyone but, the problem is that they've already worked with EVERYONE. It seems to me they have one genuine superstar and then A-B level talent in Cody & the Bucks. Jericho is there but, for how long and in what capacity? Now ponder for a moment - what if WWE/NXT didn't buy Ricochet, Adam Cole, reDRagon, Roddy Strong, Keith Lee, and Walter like the 2nd coming of Eric Bischoff in WCW...then this AEW thing would have some teeth, no? It'd really have some fangs if they could get guys to jump ship from the 'E to AEW. Supposedly there's talk of the Revival going over? That might be something... what's Kevin Steen, Devitt, KENTA and the rest of the 205 Live Roster doing nowadays? PAC is a start, right? Truth be told, this really has similarities to old Japanese groups like UWF and SWS especially. I know AJPW at the turn of the 90's better than what happened in UWF but, I'll get back to them. SWS had a big money investor get a bunch of top talent from AJPW and a couple from NJPW to start a company. Tenryu and Yatsu were big F-ing deals in 89-90 AJ. You've got your #1 heel/rival to Jumbo (Omega to Okada) and then Jumbo's tag team partner leaving. In NJPW terms, perhaps its like an Ishii or Goto leaving. Then, Nakano & Takano who were the face "junior" tag team against Kawada/Fuyuki's Footloose. Even Fuyuki left too! They got Naoki Sano from NJPW. Cody, Young Bucks, PAC and Adam Page sounds similar to me. Then you had older guys like Ishikawa & Great Kabuki and other guys who were past their prime at the time like George Takano & Kendo Nagasaki. I won't say Jericho here but, CIMA seems like a decent fit (since read that Daniels, Kaz & Scorpio Sky are on board and I think they are applicable here). Then, you had up and coming juniors like Asai (Ultimo Dragon to be), Masao Orihara, Katayama et al. This sounds like your Joey Janela and other independent guys and girls. Of course the big difference, SWS had the support of the WWF and their stars from the get-go. It wouldn't last BUT, it helped them get a foothold. With AEW, they've burned some big bridges on BOTH sides of the world with this move. Now we come back to the UWF. The company had to fold within a couple years due to differences between Maeda & Sayama as well as the larger financial problems.  SWS folded too but, WAR came out of that. We know how NJ worked with Tenryu and his company throughout the 90's and 2000's. Omega is Tenryu level here. So, NJPW has historically been forgiving if they can make money so that doesn't cut things off for them completely. So if the Elite boys are smart, they will try and be like WAR from the get go. They can do this by not going into business to directly compete with the big dogs AND by not focusing on the money. Seriously speaking, I see this as means to put on monthly shows that are PWG like dream cards but in much larger venues. Dream shows once a month, internet based everything (probably no DVDs or Blu-ray), and tee shirts. I could see them touring as well but, a relaxed schedule like ROH. The indy guys and girls make up most of the card and the "Elite" do 6 man matches to lead into the BIG shows. YouTube free matches/shows or streamed service TV shows of these matches is very likely to keep costs down. Perhaps if they book angles or story arcs, a studio show like TNA Asylum/Impact Zone could be there instead or if a TV deal is there. Honestly, I look at this AEW as a vanity project. They probably do too. I don't think they're looking to get richer but, just do WHAT they like-WHEN they like and pay the bills. I can certainly admire them for that. Now who knows what that means for the Adam Pages, Joey Janelas, and the younger folks of the company?  The bleeding heart fans, like myself, are excited at the prospect of the performers receiving unbiased wages and health care. I think that those hopes are quickly being dashed against the rocks from what I've seen though. I do think it'll be more PWG-wrestler owned & operated than NJ, ROH, or WWE. So, beyond that, what does AEW hold for us fans? What can they offer us that's new & exciting? Are they going to fall back upon the allure of the Dream Match OR do wrestling with good stories and good booking?  Honestly, I think AEW is taking the PWG mentality and product to a national (international?) level. Its not that it'll be anything new BUT, it will be more accessible and more visible than the insular PWG. I'd love to see genuine drama in wrestling and perhaps Jericho will be called upon to book (which would be the very best use of him). They have the resources to do it so, it is a possibility. And finally the larger implications of this company and it's possible success: If it's around for a few years, I wouldn't be surprised if they take ROH's spot as NJPW's US partner promotion. And like SWS/AJPW it may create a situation in NJPW, where they decide to elevate some guys and create a whole new generation of stars for the 2020's. Yeah, it is exciting. Guess we just have to wait and see... Thanks for reading!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Enter the reDRagon - Part 4

...and we're back! reDRagons vs Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal (10/05/13): Titles are on the line against the super team of Elgin & Lethal. This was a very good match but, not tremendous. It was a little goofy when Elgin does his 2 on 1 stuff but, the final bit was great per usual. Champs vs All-Stars: Adam Cole, reDRagon & Matt Taven vs Michael Elgin, C & C WrestleFactory Jay Lethal (Glory by Honor XII 10/26/13): We get over an hour of wrestling action. It is very difficult to keep a person's interest over that period of time but, it did. In fact, not only was I interested, I was invested. The match told a series of stories over the course of its duration. It was physical and compelling and an overall great match. Heck, I'd even say it was a ROH classic. The wrestlers along with the Corino/Kelly announce team, Truth Martini & the Hotties, Homicide & Kingston, the 3 referees, and Nigel all played their parts perfectly. It felt like a play with a cast of 19. Now, this could have easily been overbooked and bungled yet, it always seemed to be aware of that possibility. The match, as if an organism, would step back from the brink of parody to deliver something unique and surprising. vs Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander (11/16/13): This starts out with C & C getting the jump on the DRagon which  eventually leads to them focusing on Caprice's arm. This is a good face in peril bit. Somewhere along the way, the legal man situation gets mixed up but, heck! it's just a TV match. It's not as offensive as a big deal PPV match. But, it's a hell of a TV/ small show match! Its not a perfectly executed but, these guys have the right idea as opposed to the Wolves matches. This bout knew what it wanted to be and acheived that. It had flow and the fans genuinely gave a damn. Not a perfect follow up to the Glory by Honor match but, a very good match nonetheless. ...until next time wrestling fans!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Best Match Watched & Other Things of Note - 2018

Here is my list of the best matches that I watched this year. Again, this isn't a MOTY list but, is more of a year in review for me AND a guide for folks looking for wresting to check out.  So first is my January to May list: Inoki/Sakaguchi vs Thesz/Gotch (NJ 1973) Strong BJW vs SUWAMA/T. Soya (AJ 11/26/11) Onita/Tarzan Goto vs M. Kurisu/Dragon Master [Kendo Nagasaki] (FMW 04/01/90) Jun Kasai vs Takeshi Iizuka (TAKA Prod. 01/28/18) Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 02/21/15) Briscoe Bros. vs Mike Bennett/Matt Taven (ROH 02/21/15) Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano (NXT: New Orleans) Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs Triple H/Stephanie McMahon (WWE WrestleMania) Shinjiro Otani vs Masato Tanaka (Z-1 07/31/02) Masato Tanaka vs Yuji Nagata (NJ 03/19/11) Chris Hero vs Big Van Walter (wXw 2010 16 Carat Gold Final) Masato Tanaka vs Daisuke Sekimoto (Z-1 08/02/15) Shuji Ishikawa vs SHINGO (AJ 04/29/18) June 1st to Dec 31st Naomichi Marufuji vs Jun Akiyama (AJ 04/25/18 CC) Sakuraba vs Nakamura (NJ 01/04/13 WK7) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (NJ 08/15/09 G1) Nakamura, M. Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs H. Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & W. Inoue (NJ 12/04/10) KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 01/22/06) (I left off 10/29/06 because everyone already knows of that) KENTA vs Kenta Kobashi (NOAH 03/05/06) Misawa vs Takeshi Morishima (NOAH 03/05/06) Misawa vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 12/02/06) Choshu, Koshinaka, Hoshino, Sasaki & Kobayashi vs Super Strong Machine, Hamaguchi, Kurisu, Tatsu Goto & Hiro Saito (NJ 06/26/90 2/3 Falls) Hase & Sasaki vs Koshinaka & Iizuka (NJ 12/13/90) BxB Hulk & YAMATO vs Ben-K & Big R Shimuzu (DG 07/22/18) BxB Hulk vs Shingo Takagi (DG 12/28/14) Shingo Takagi vs YAMATO (DG Kobe Wrestle Fest 2016) reDRagon vs The Briscoes (ROH 05/11/13 11th Anniv. Show) Eddie Edwards vs Matt Taven (ROH 06/01/13) Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 07/12/13) Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs Adam Cole, Matt Taven &  reDRagon (ROH 10/26/13 Glory by Honor XII) see: https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/blogs/entry/693-enter-the-redragon-part-4/ Kevin Steen & the Young Bucks vs Michael Elgin & the Briscoes (ROH 03/07/14 Raising the Bar Nt. 1) * not yet reviewed* There's a month worth of classic wrestling right there. I'm really not sure what the Best Match I watched is...damn. I go through and think of different reasons I like one over another. OR there's some that I cannot recall as clearly as others. A few of these are known as great or classic matches already so, I won't pick those. I mean, hopefully many of these are matches you've only heard a little about...or maybe nothing at all. That's really what I want to do - expose people to different stuff and let them know that there is really awesome wrestling to be found where others may have said it does not exist. So with that I'm going to pick Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 07/12/13) as the Best Match Watched. Frankly, I'm pretty strong on that point even without those qualifiers. Some may not like it just because of the participants or the company. OK that's fine. Others may see it derivative or formulaic but, I disagree. I feel it builds off of classic styles and encounters while adding its own flair. Plus it tells a great story, is excellently performed, intense as hell, and I just love that finish. It's really quite perfect in my book Recency bias is totally acknowledged. Before I move on, I'm going to hype up Masato Tanaka here    Shinjiro Otani vs Masato Tanaka (Z-1 07/31/02), Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (NJ 08/15/09 G1), Nakamura, M. Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs H. Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & W. Inoue (NJ 12/04/10), Masato Tanaka vs Yuji Nagata (NJ 03/19/11). DAMN SON! Now let's see who gets cheers and jeers: Standout Wrestler: Daisuke Sekimoto, Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka, Shingo Takagi, Naomichi Marufuji, Eddie Edwards, Jay Lethal, The Briscoes, reDRagon, Roderick Strong, The Young Bucks The Winner: Tanaka had the early part of the year for sure. Eddie Edwards has the very end with his re-invigoration of the GHC belt and 2013 ROH matches. The winner is Naomichi Marufuji though. The 09-10 NJ Jr. stuff was pretty great but, along with Shingo, he stole the show at the 2018 Champion Carnival. What put him over the top was his 2006 in NOAH. From his start with KENTA in the 01/22 to the amazing title fight vs Misawa, 2006 was Marufuji's. He may not have the quantity of classic matches that Tanaka accrued this year but, he had his share along with a bevy a great ones with a variety of opponents in different promotions and years. Probably not a popular pick again but, I know what I saw and the dude killed it. Surprise of the Year: Early FMW Onita, SHINGO & Marufuji and the 2018 Champion Carnival, 2010's ROH, Yoshi Yatsu in 87-89 AJPW, WWE 205 Live, digging WWE Women's division. Finding out the greatness of YAMATO, Matt Taven & Togi Makabe. Akira Taue still had it in 2006 as he knew how to play his older broken down/comedy character but still be aggressive and serious when called upon (similar to 1989 Giant Baba). Realizing that '89-90 JCP/NWA Muta was awesome especially when considering his 90's NJ stuff. Weekly ROH TV reminding me of WCW Worldwide in a good way. The Winner:  The Maufuji pick is kind of the Surpise of the Year because I really did not think that going into this post. But, overall - I'm going to say Early FMW & Onita. Onita and FMW were some of my first experiences with Japanese wrestling but, to circle back around 20 years and find something really awesome was a heck of a surprise. Not only were the matches a blast (no pun intended) but, finding out about the history was really interesting as well. The late 80's and early 90's are a really neat time & place to visit in Japanese wrestling and FMW at that time should not be missed. Favorite Project: FMW 89-92, Post ECW Tanaka, Hayabusa in AJPW, NOAH 2006, reDRagon/2013-14 ROH, and NJ vs CHAOS in 2010 The WInner: CHAOS vs NJ because I never heard anyone talk about it despite it scratching that old school night in-night out feud itch. It was so much fun to watch these house show matches that felt like Jumbo vs Misawa, or M-Pro vs Kaientai DX.I gained a lot of respect for Tanahashi here and found something from the NJ 2010's that I could wholly dig! Disappointment of the Year: Munenori Sawa in wXw 2010 could have been better, Brock vs Roman at WM, Nakamura...Ballshot Expert, Kobashi vs Marufuji '06, American Wolves vs reDRagon not living up to its potential save Edwards vs O'Reilly The Loser: Wolves vs DRagon because it was THE reason the Wolves re-united and reDRagon was formed but, it felt too much like WWE or TNA than ROH. Or at least the ROH I was used to. It was inconsistent and did not feels as big & epic as ROH was making it out to be. ReDRagon would go on to be so much better without the Wolves feud. Never got around to: Getting deeper into FMW past 92- the two big Youtube channels that had a ton of FMW footy were removed so that was a big blow to that project. 2010's NJ Jr project- I wanted to look into the phenomena that got the NJ hype train going - Apollo 55  & Golden Lovers. This is something I do want to get around to soon. Looking forward to watching in 2019: David Starr, Jonathan Gresham,  getting back to 2010's AJPW, 88-90 NJ/AJPW (my massive DVD set is still waiting), more ROH & PWG from 3-5 years ago  Also, want to check out early 80's Gran Hamada pretty soon here.
  Thanks for reading! I hope I gave you some ideas! Happy New Year    

G. Badger

G. Badger

Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly: Enter the reDRagon - Part 3

My apologies for anyone regularly following this little project. Work has been crazy as its the holiday shopping season and I haven't had the time to write up my next entry. But fuck it, I get one day off a week so, let's do this! Bobby Fish vs Davey Richards (Reclamation-night 1 07/12/13): A very intense kick filled contest with very nice spots and holds. It was a good match that felt great at times. It just had a weird pace and I never felt like it kicked into overdrive. Perhaps I'm wrong but, at this point I'm not quite sure what Fish's singles moveset is like. It seems sorta like the Koji Kanemoto's moves- heel hold, brainbuster, falcon arrow and kicks. I know he starts using a high angle Saito which they refer to as a Back Drop Driver (which is cool when Nigel is out there because he knows all about the "real" ones from Morishima). Anyhow, the finish was acceptable but, anti-climactic (or even "iffy") but, the match as a whole was good. Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O'Reilly (07/12/13): This match was included as a bonus on disc #2 of the ROH. I am very glad this was there because it's been the best match thus far. This was the brutal intense stuff I'd wanted out of this feud. It focused on grappling and was in the lineage of Kobayashi/Tiger I, Pegasus Kid/Black Tiger II/Liger NJ Jrs. matches. Likewise, this too was a classic match in the style. It had wonderful pacing that built the intensity up into the finish rather than let is peter out at the beginning for the sake of shooting off fireworks throughout the match. Serious classic stuff! Now we're on to Disc #2 of the set reDRagon vs Forever Hooligans (ROH TV 07/27/13): Fish and O'Reilly are very good in their roles as the cocky heels here. I haven't mentioned their promos at the end of the last disc but, they are really fun and worth a laugh. So here Fish turns a non-title match into a championship bout out of hubris. I certainly get it because the DRagons truly look like a wrecking machine team here. Their characters and in ring work seemed to be gelling because unlike the Briscoe matches, it was clear that they were the stars of the battle. Not to say the Romero/Koslov team (who were a very hot tag team at the time) weren't good but, they truly looked like champs in this very good match. ***spoiler*** So, it was odd to me then, to have then lose to the guest NJ team. Nonetheless, Bobby and Kyle's ranting promos after the match were awesome. Kyle is clearly getting more comfortable in his character and Fish looked like the full package by just killing it on the mic with thoughtful and purposeful statements. You believe in his character when he speaks. This really elevates this segment or event into something really great. Now, from the next match-up we realize that the Hooligans were transition champs so the Wolves and reDRagon could fight for the title at Manhattan Mayhem V.  American Wolves vs reDragon (08/17/13): It was match that could have been so much more than just good. The beginning and end were very good but, the meat of the match was unorganized. Additionally the Manhattan crowd seemed to be lifeless by this point and some were vocally criticizing the fight. That is to say tag legalities and rules went out of the window and they put on a Young Bucks free for all with all 4 men in the ring for minutes at a time. I agree with the fans criticisms but, when the rest of the audience is near silent , don't be a dick and yell at the ref "Who's the legal man, Todd (Sinclair)!?" Because it really looked like 4 guys jumping and doing kinda hokey double team spots for people that NOT ONLY didn't care but for people actually talking shit on what you're doing. I think that made them panic and do things to try to win the crowd back. This in turn got short term pops but, sidetracked the match. Also, I watched a Young Bucks match recently and they don't do this '4 in the ring' stuff as long as you might think. They are usually popping in an out of ropes pretty fast but, doing it often. Here, the Wolves & DRagons were having a tornado tag match. I watched this bout twice and it really was unengaging up until the final few minutes. However, I think if this was in front of a more appreciative crowd, it would have helped both my perception and what the guys did. Sorry to end this on a bummer but, better stuff is on the horizon for reDRagon. Thanks for reading and sorry for the delay! Happy Holidays! and remember that it is retail, warehouse workers, and customer service people's holiday season too. They have the stress of buying gifts & driving in shitty traffic on top of  their job being hellishly stressful right now. So be kind! Not only is it the right thing to do but, you'll probably get treated better in return. You know kinda like that Golden Rule thingy...

G. Badger

G. Badger

ROH - Honor in the Heart of Texas - 2013

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly: Enter the reDRagon - Part 2

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

ROH - Defy or Deny 2 - 2013

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. Gracias!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly: Enter the reDRagon part 1

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

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: IWA PUERTO RICO - JUNIORS 1999

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. Thanks! 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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Great Muta You Might Have Missed

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Book Review!? - The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling

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!  

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: Dragon Gate 2010's - Shingo & YAMATO

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring Of Honor - Death Before Dishonor 2018

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

G. Badger

G. Badger

NJPW You Might Have Missed: 1990 Tag Matches

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.   **BONUS** 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

G. Badger

G. Badger

Manami Toyota vs Kyoko Inoue - AJW 1996

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: Eddie Edwards in NOAH

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 Thanks!!

G. Badger

G. Badger

NOAH - Great Voyage 2011 - November 27th

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!

G. Badger

G. Badger

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