Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
    203
  • comments
    18
  • views
    20214

Entries in this blog

Early 90's AJPW Matches from Mid-May

Working on my Tanaka follow up and finishing the wXw 2010 project. Here's a good selection from the Grooveyard in the meantime. In this case they are all very good to classic matches in AJ that took place around this time of year back in that early 1990's. There are probably some spoilers in here so, if you're looking to watch these for the first time or forget the outcome and want to be surprised on a rewatch, be aware Some of these I haven't seeen in nearly a decade so, I think I might have to do a couple rewatches myself.   Jumbo, Kabuki & Fuchi vs Misawa, Kobashi & Taue (All Japan 5/26/90) ***3/4 A good 6-man match but the real focus is on Fuchi & Jumbo putting the upstart team in their place. Kabuki to some extent too but Fuchi & Tsuruta are not impressed with the team of Misawa, Kobashi, & Taue...all look like Muppet Babies. It's wild. What's even more wild is that Misawa has the gall to elbow Jumbo off the apron (unprovoked) and that Kobashi isn't killed in the ring. Taue strangely supplies most of the action and is quite adroit in his execution. It really proves what a great tag-teamer & wrestler he is. He really lets Misawa/Kobashi work the story aspects by keeping the match going. This was a smart move on his part as early on it really was losing direction other than Jumbo is pissed. Still, the finishing portions were quite good, enough to build the excitement for the win. Suffice to say big old Jumbo is not pleased with the results.   Jumbo Tsuruta vs Kenta Kobashi (All Japan 5/24/91) Watched this one a couple times and I really don't know how it's a MOTY candidate or could be nominated for Top 20 but, it's certainly top 50. The start is clipped to where both guys are sweating pretty good. Kobashi's offense is the highlight and he nearly gets Jumbo but, really he wasn't going to win. Still, you really feel for Kobashi & his facial expressions never seemed to get mentioned but he's one of the best. Better organized than the Kawada carny match but not as brutal & believable that the underdog could pull it off. Although Kobashi's moonsault got pretty close...No real flaws it just wasn't meant to be a MOTY & the divide between the two is far too large to have any believable drama especially since the moonsault didn't do it. I mean Misawa has only put him away once how's Kobashi gonna do it? Still Top 50 stuff that should be seen. ****   Misawa & Kawada & Kobashi vs Jumbo & Akira Taue & Fuchi (05/22/92): ****3/4 Although this got a ***** by the Wrestling Observer, I can't agree. It misses the mark for two reasons. The first being the context. I haven't seen any of the great matches in the Jumbo/Misawa feud other than the 6-8-90 singles match (EDIT: No longer true so, clearly a rewatch is needed). Therefore I can only rate it as a stand alone. It still does quite well. The second reason is a little bit of a let down on the performance side of things from Kawada- there are some weak striking moments and a couple airballs which killed the momentum. In all honesty if he lived up to Dangerous K potential then I would have given this *****. Towards the end he comes in to take on Jumbo and you think it's going to be vicious but it doesn't match the intensity of the previous few minutes of Misawa/Jumbo. If he had hit Tsuruta with blistering strikes then this bout would've erupted. Everyone else impressed me though and if Taue wasn't really injured, I'd be surprised. Just too bad Kawada wasn't performing at his full potential. Still a fast paced and exciting match and Jumbo's team act as vicious heels here which was unique. A must see match even if it's not Kawada's finest hour. It and all of these great 6-man matches of the early 90s are benchmarks in wrestling history. Rewatch: Having seen the majority of The Feud, I can whole-heartedly agree with my previous statements. Kawada's lack of explosiveness is not a detriment as previous stated though. He's just not there in his development. Otherwise a great 6 man tag match!   Doug Furnas & Danny Kroffat vs Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (05/25/92): ****3/4+ The only reason this match is not 5 stars is that it lacks a larger story or psychology (that I am aware of). Everything else is perfect-pacing, intensity, stiffness, and execution. What's even more impressive than these aspects alone, is the fact that it all took place in less than 20 minutes! RE-Watch: AJPW's answer to Steiners vs. Hase/Sasaki '91 MOTY...Just full on action the whole time with state of the art moves. Just a magical era in Japanese wrestling. Additional Note: I'd put this up with the great 6/5/89 tag match.   Stan Hansen vs Mitsuharu Misawa- Triple Crown (AJ 5/21/93) Whoa! Talk about a great match. This is the match Kawada should have had with Hansen (02/28/93). Real smart & meaningful armwork on Misawa who sells appropriately. This maybe the match that killed the Facelock as a finisher but Hansen takes it better than anyone & works his way out of it with conviction. This is the Bad Man from Borger that I know & love. You've also got the feeling that if he would have busted the Lariat-o!!! then Misawa would have lost but, he never got the chance. So, with the facelock killed we get the birth of the Rolling Elbow! And it's a dooozy! He damn near knocked Stan out. Great pacing, selling, seemless transitions with a great finish. ****3/4   Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue AJ 5/21/94 ****: Frankly I didn't get the hoopla over this match. It seemed like an unfocused attempt at a superlong spot match. I really don't get it! AJW was doing these type of matches to perfection in '92 & '93...so if the excitement is over this being the first match like this in AJ then, big shit. They didn't do it that well. I'm pretty sure the 12/93 match was more solid than this. Kawada was the only one that was of really any note. They went to the tired old hurt Kobashi's leg bit & it didn't really fly because of the amount of time spent it went nowhere with the story...I mean he couldn't cover after a moonsault but then later he could (after missing attempt #2). This made no sense to me!! That & some of the sequences looked way too obvious as planned sequences. Not a bad match overall really for 40 min. but it could have been a whole lot better. The worst moment I can remember though was when 3 or 4 guys were in the ring Misawa was just standing there waiting...(EDIT: This is one that I've been meaning to rewatch for like 8 years and never have).

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: FMW Late 1992

Ok so the 2nd part of 1992 is not that chock full of stuff. The first half seemed like it was but, much of the year is left to handheld stuff which is not online in the free kind of way. The rest is clipped by the FMW World of F volume #3. We do have the 3rd Anniversary show on 09/19/92 commercial available. Here is the card and you tell me...if you want this in full...   Kevin Faule & Chris Jericho vs Eiji Ezaki & Koji Nakagawa Eriko Tsuchiya & Miwa Sato & Kumiko Matsuda vs Rie Nakamura & Victoria Kazumiya & Yumiko Komatsuzaki Sabu v Shoji Nakamaki Amigo Ultra & Ultramancito vs Valtanian 1 & 2 Loc Matrere vs Katsuji Ueda Big Titan & The Gladiator & Horace Boulder vs Sambo Asako & The Great Punk & Ricky Fuji *Stretcher Match* John Tolos v Killer Kowalski Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto vs Combat Toyoda & Megumi Kudo Tarzan Goto & Gregori Veritchev vs Leon Spinks & Brian Sayodill Atsushi Onita v Tiger Jeet Singh *No Ropes Exploding Barbed wire Death Match*   Yeah, I wasn't too into this show either. Onita = FMW so the card as a whole was never a big concern. The importance of the show is that we see the match that started the interpromotional era in Joshi! Whoo-hoo! I'll get to that in a sec.   This is not all in a bubble though. Remember, we've got W*ING in Japan now. It's very clear that although FMW and W*ING are considered to have two separate small but, loyal fanbases...FMW took a talent hit by losing Victor Quinones and his connections. Being a W*ING fan as well, I can say Mr. Pogo, the Headhunters, Miguel Perez Jr. all would have greatly helped Onita & co. out. The tag division became more of a focus in FMW as they had enough workers to actually HAVE a division (see Dec. FMW Street Fight Tag Tag Team Tournament). Sure, it was a way to make Onita look stronger but, eh old man Sheik (who I am a big fan of in the 70s) and Tiger Jeet Singh isn't that appealing to me. This potential for the greatness is very apparent when it was clear how awesome FMW could be by late '91 and the Mexico/USA matches in mid May with just a couple of fresh faces.   Ok onto the Joshi! AJW vs FMW!   Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano vs Megumi Kudo & Combat Toyoda (09/19/92): This was clipped to 6 minutes from 14 minutes. I call bullshit but, there's a handheld available. Probably from way back in the seats or down low since this was outside in Yokohama Stadium for the explosions. What we do see on the commercial release is pretty damn good (and well spliced!). It's pretty much all the fast paced highlights. Bull & Akira knock fuck outta the FMW gals but, like Onita they show that never say die attitude. Very enjoyable and recommended stuff. Per BAHU & Steve Ayy's FMW podcast, some AJW girls were considering jumping to FMW's women's division. Of course that didn't pan out but, is probably the catalyst for the AJW owners OKing the interpromotion stuff to keep them happy as well as rake in the bucks.   I was going to put a fork in '92 but, I couldn't give up all the way back in Sept. especially when late November and early December does have the Street Fight Tag tourney. It's all clipped matches but, some pretty good. Oh, they take the Street Fight stuff seriously as they're all in street clothes...jeans, tees, etc. These are the one's I wanted to watch:   Onita & Veritchev vs Tarzan Goto & Big Titan (11/27/92): Even Greg the judoist or samboist is in street clothes. This is pretty vicious and fast paced but, that's clipping for ya! Onita's bulldogs on Titan are insane! Greg even's off the top rope. What!? Unexpected finish too. 5 minutes of 12:30.   Onita & Greggy V. vs Sabu & Kareem Sudan: That Kareem guy is a Abdullah the Butcher clone...no for real. Like he might as well be Abdullah II. Greg & Sabu have a nice sequence of sorts.   Goto & Titan vs Gladiator & Horace Boulder (12/07/92): Clipped Mayhem! This looks like the craziest shit ever due to the cut & paste job. Seriously...tables, chairs, fighting amongst the fans, off the ropes, dives...It looks like the last minute or two is show unaltered. 4 minutes of 6:52 shown...c'mon just show the whole thing, right?   Onita & Veritchev vs Goto & Big Titan (12/07/92): Tournament finals here and they are a no-rope barb wire and barb wire board (on the floor) match. Good start but, the faces get like 2 offense moves in here. I'm waiting for the Big O headbutt-DDT comeback from nowhere but, it never comes! Like wha!? really? Clever finish but, 6 minutes off about 11 are shown. It's from the same night as above so, it's allowable. I could see diggin' this in a commercial tape format. Onita theatre after the match with the Wild Thing cover playing as the video goes slo-mo and in black & white for that added mother fucking drama. O-NI-TA!   It's a suitable close to the year of '92. It's not as stellar as 1990 nor as innovative as 1991 but, it's growing as a company. That much is clear. Just not a ton of complete footage. Here are the possibly worthwhile matches only available as handheld that would have been wonderful if the FMW tape people should've put to VHS.   Atsushi Onita, Sambo Asako & Mr. Gannosuke v The Gladiator, Sabu & Horace Boulder (06/26)   Atsushi Onita, Sambo Asako & Mr. Gannosuke v Big Titan, The Gladiator & Sabu (07/19)   Atsushi Onita, Tarzan Goto & Sambo Asako v Tiger Jeet Singh & Big Titan & The Gladiator (07/29)   Looking forward to them putting it all together for a great 1993.

G. Badger

G. Badger

2018 AJPW Champion Carnival & Triple Crown 05/24/18

There were a lot of positive comments about this Carnival on the main page. Kudos to those folks for taking the time to go through and watch most or perhaps all of the Carnival matches in real time. It certainly was my impetus for tracking what I could down on the 'tube.   Here's a link to that post for the participants, outcomes, and discussion. There are spoilers after the first couple entries so be warned. As usual, I'll try to be spoiler free here in the blog.   https://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/41548-ajpw-2018-champions-carnival/   I'll begin by saying, I did not nor did I have a desire to watch the entire run of matches. I'm a cherry picking bastard. I'm sure I missed some neat bouts but, I've got a brick of DVDs I want to get to so, this could only be a brief diversion. With that said, I wanted to see 14 matches but, only half were available. So, branched out from the 7 matches and did so chronological as possible. These are my brief take-aways from the matches.   -04/14- SHINGO vs Bodyguard: Surprisingly sweet, energetic & charismatic with a great pace. 2 cameras helped (most CC matches are 1 camera from the stands). Highly recommended!!   -04/15- SHINGO vs Yuji Hino: Good action with a vocal crowd. Its mainly macho stuff but done with gusto. Highly recommended!!   Kento Miyahara vs Shuji Ishikawa: Deliberately paced with Ishikawa focusing on Kento's neck. Killer apron move but, overall its repetitive and somewhat dull. OK match   Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA: Despite the funeral crowd, they fought with purpose and vigor. That's a different kind of finish. Recommended match!   -04/20- Joe Doering vs SHINGO: Very good big man-small man dynamics with excellent intensity. Recommended match!   Naomichi Marufuji vs Zeus: Zeus is getting really good. They had great chemistry and enthusiasm for fighting. Great match!!!   -04/21- SHINGO vs Ryouji Sai: Great attack psychology and selling. Its not an even steven match like some (most?) matches nowadays but, damn SHINGO is bringing the goods. Simple well told story, a Great Match!!!   Jun Akiyama vs Zeus: Fought like the Finals, hot damn! Great match perhaps!!!   Naomichi Marufuji vs SUWAMA: Best day so far. Headlock focus, nice surprises, good striking. 'Fuji looked like a kool killer here. A great finish too..this felt like a classic 90's AJ CC match. They really put it out there. Great match!!!   -04/22- Naomichi Marufuji vs KAI: Alright KAI! Another really good fight with body work giving it focus. Both dudes kicks were right on the money but, the single fixed camera hurt this. We (I) needed to see the full impact though. Highly recommended nonetheless!!   Kento Miyahara vs Joe Doering: Started slow but turned out pretty good. Recommended match!   ...whew...still going...   -04/25- Zeus vs KAI: Oh yeah! great action, good selling, a nice match indeed. Great or highly recommended!!   Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji: Unfortunately, the YouTuber loaded the wrong match but should he or she fix that, I desperately want to see it and I will put that review here. (Added 06/15/18): Finally someone put this up! Oh and I'm so glad that they did. Of course there's a backstory but, all in all its the head honcho of NOAH facing the head honcho of AJPW. And damn! It delivered like the mailman! The move selection is something that really sets AJ apart from modern stuff. Its really back to basics compared to NJ for instance. Just good solid hits, holds, and throws. I wouldn't say its Sekimoto/Okabayashi simple all of the time but, it definitely resembles AJPW from the 90's. Anyhow, the moves chosen, the pacing, the fakeouts, taking the time to do nothing but sell, and the truly select few false finishes made this a classic CC match to me.   -04/29- Kento Miyahara vs Yuji Hino: Very good contest where the outcome was in doubt (its round robin so Kento could lose but still make the Finals...to me at least!). The finish was a bit too sudden but a Great Match nonetheless!!!   Shuji Ishikawa vs SHINGO: Holy shit man! Wolverine vs the Hulk. Ishikawa is great but, SHINGO added so many nice touches and knows when to explode and how to intelligently cut guys off. It came across so well here...dude blew the CC up! Fantastic, classic match. Best bout!!!!   -04/30- FINAL Kento Miyahara vs Naomichi Marufuji: A great finish to the Carnival. There were perhaps 2 better matches but, stylistically and business wise, this an awesome closer. Miyahara's comebacks puzzled the fuck outta me though. See:https://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/41898-kento-miyahara-vs-naomichi-marufuji-ajpw-champions-carnival-4302018/&do=findComment&comment=5851519   It makes it sound like I loathe the match but, damn it was so close to a classic that I couldn't let it go   Out of the Carnival we get a Triple Crown challenge.   Kento Miyahara vs Naomichi Marufuji: NOAH leader, old school AJ trained, Misawa endorsed Marufuji vs AJPW's new ace, Kensuke Sasaki trained and hardened Kento Miyahara. It was a great match which featured allusions to their CC 2018 Final. I liked that Marufuji & Kento sorta address the issue of Kento's burst offence. In this match, 'Fuji just about cuts him off every time and with authority.   If this was a cognizant decision then, they are in the headspace of the 90's greats of AJ & AJW. Hopefully, we get a rubber match because with the over-time/match-to-match psychology it appears they're employing, that bout has the potential to be a classic.   I really, truly hope that happens!   Ha! What a dork!

G. Badger

G. Badger

My Update with the new PWO site

Clearly, Loss has changed, updated, and polished the new site and the PWO forums section. Or "the board" as many of it will think of it as With this change, I want to wish him the best and say thanks for providing this awesome forum and resource. It is without a doubt, the best place for wrestling information and discussion anywhere. With that being said, the Badger Blog (sure, let's go with that for right now) has been on a little break in order to allow all/most/some? of the updates to take place. Unfortunately, it appears that the new template has restricted or removed the search functions, my categories (80's, 90's, Women's Wrestling etc.), and tags. Also, it seems the blog section is much more difficult to find on mobile devices...well at least for me. I'm a little bummed but, it's all good I'm such a low tech guy that, I'll find other ways to litter old and new posts with links to put eyeballs on this puppy. Additionally, I'm going to take the time and re-tag my old posts as well as have my next entry be a summary of all 80 oh wait 90 posts...well at least links to them along with the titles. That and update any old links from the old site to the new version. Otherwise, it goes nowhere but to a friendly 404 error page. Just an update to the larger update.  Thank you!      

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

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

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

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

Wahoo McDaniel, Rick Martel and more!

Many of these matches I have commented on in the Everything Else match archives or the Yearbooks, if you will. I wanted to make a record of them all in one place here on my blog though. If you have similar wrestling tastes or just like to read what I have to say, I thought I would make one entry of my recent wrestling habits. It's pretty 1970's and 80's heavy but, we dip our toes into the 60's and 90's as you'll read shortly. Let's start with a doozy! Johnny Valentine vs Bull Curry (06/20/69 Houston Wrestling):This really is an awesome match and the first time I've seen a full Johnny Valentine bout. He and Bull Curry beat each other senseless here...and I loved it! It was really great, simple yet violent pro wrestling. The quality of the footage is excellent as well. So very glad I watched this! In writing this, I did not put a rating but, at the very least it is a great match. The same goes for Johnny Valentine vs Bill Frazier '62. Ric Flair vs Wahoo McDaniel (1976 Mid Altlantic): This is probably one of the few 70's Wahoo matches vs Flair on YouTube. Like Cornette mentions, his physique, stamina, and agility are much greater than in 1980's. He looks like an absolute beast here. There's no finish unfortunately but, the 8+ minutes are great. Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine (09/07/77 JCP): Just a fantastic match where Greg takes the place of his dad. And Wahoo is cool with that since he beats the crap outta him. Gregster is no bum as he can take a shot as good as he can dish it out. This is just hard hitting no nonsense wrestling and it's hard not to love it. This was a near classic match. Plus look for promo of Wahoo at home, in a cast, calling out Greg Valentine & Ric Flair. Harley Race vs Wahoo McDaniel (02/10/78 Houston Wrestling):This was great 2/3 falls match.I waited a while to watch this since I'm lukewarm on Harley but, this was a doozy. Wahoo just tees off on the champion and Race's bumps are fantastic. Of course his headbutts and knee drops look vicious as ever. Do watch for the fan wildin' out in the front row on the camera side of the ring. He's the guy the fuzz have to grab in fall #3. It's pretty awesome. If you like to people watch the crowd during matches then, you gotta watch this one. It is a bit of a distraction since it takes like 5 officers get escort the dude but, Wahoo and Race don't let it phase them. Loved the finish! The Chief almost had it!! So close! Great stuff Wahoo McDaniel vs Tully Blanchard - Indian Strap Match (05/14/82 Houston Wrestling): This wasn't a long drawn out match. It was simple and vicious. I especially loved the finish (no pins or submissions, one man must drag his opponent to all 4 corners of the ring and touch the turnbuckle). We really need more matches like this in contemporary wrestling. It emphasizes the rough and tumble violence that I think is lacking in wrestling nowadays. Sure there are street fight and other gimmick matches but, there's too much emphasis on spots and not enough on the intensity. The violence of these type of fights should be at the forefront. We certainly have that here. Very good stuff! Bruiser Brody vs Mongolian Stomper (06/04/82 Houston Wrestling): Pure pandemonium with both guys trying to clobber each other. Brody vs the Stomper truly delivered despite not being very long. This was very much in the same vein as the 1990 FMW stuff. Walloping the heck outta each other but, never backing down...Houston looked like Korakuen Hall. Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel 09/20/84 AWA): I thought the match up looked good but, no idea that there was such praise from the PWO community. I was just thinking "damn this is really good. They've got plans of attack, they're selling the specific damages as well as the overall fatigue. Still, its a heated fight with guys trading great blows and kicking out because the belt is on the line." I think for '84, you could call this a work-rate match but, its deeper than that. The in ring story is so solid and to have it almost spoiled at the end..oh man. Martel whipping the AWA strap around like a wild man at the end just capped off this beauty of a match. Classic stuff! Masa Saito vs Curt Hennig (03/28/85 AWA): What a simple but great match. Curt was very young here but, he and Saito had a little program going. It was pretty basic in that Saito roughed up Hennig and he made a energetic come back only to get shutdown. Maybe its just me but, I prefer 80's AWA Curt to Mr. Perfect. Anyhow, Curt does a fucking tope to the concrete instead of the leaping shoulder miss to ring post spot. That's to say he missed 85% of the ringpost and went thru the ropes to free fall and cement! Awesome!! The best was the finish were Saito and Hennig were just smashing each other with punches. More importantly, Masa Saito was punching Hennig...because there were some nice "punches" earlier but, Saito was like, " let's do this proper! " Yes, please, thank you! Rick Martel vs Mr Saito (04/24/85 AWA): Oh boy, this is a great match. Saito is an absolute beast and Rick Martel is just trying to survive. The part where he is clawing his way to the ropes to escape the Scorpion Deathlock is a new iconic wrestling moment for me. Just brilliant! I think this would be an awesome place to start if you only remember Martel as "The Model" from WWF. Rick Martel vs Terry Gordy (10/03/85 Pro Wrestling USA): Rick Martel is certainly a fighting champion and this fast paced challenge from Gordy is proof. This just checked all of the right boxes in the move and storytelling department for me. The other Freebirds are sent to the back and Terry is OK with that. He's going to beat the champion fair and square. Gordy is matching Martel all throughout but, then brings the power based offense to the table. It looks to be too much with the champ taking some hard slams. Don't count Martel out of the match yet! I just loved this 15 minute match. It truly felt like a title fight. Great stuff Ric Flair vs Ron Garvin (02/07/86-JCP-Superstars on the Superstation): Well, these two really beat each other from pillar to post! So many hard chops that it really is a wonder that their chests weren't red. Oh and the punches and slams...man, this was a heck of an intense TV televised match. 15 minutes of fighting, I loved it. People have said Garvin wasn't selling but, in his role, I think he should have been ferocious. He was taking the fight to Flair. A very good to great match in my eyes. Quite glad that I stumbled upon it.
 
Rick Martel vs Riki Choshu (12/03/86 AJPW): This started out with a lightning pace. Then, they settled down into working over each others legs which was ferocious. I so wish they sold this after the fact since it appeared they were really going to town but, it was a 10 min. match. Evenly fought but a little to soon to finish for me. Very good, intense match. Totally worth watching! Just not the heavenly dream battle I hoped for. But the first few minutes had me believing it was real! Wahoo McDaniel vs Manny Fernandez (09/18/88 AWA):Just two big dudes punching and chopping the crap outta each other for 10 minutes. If you dig Tenryu - Choshu - Hashimoto type stuff check this out. It'd be right at home in '88 AJ or NJ. Wahoo McDaniel vs Manny Fernandez - Indian Strap Match (12/13/88 Superclash III): I think most folk remember the Kerry vs King match but, I think this bout deserves a bit of recognition. Stiff chops, punches and blood abound! The big surprise was that Tatsumi Fujinami was there! Fernandez was working in NJ in '88 I believe so, I think he was there to keep Manny in check or something. Well, he certainly DOES both at the start and finish...yes!  Awesome little interview at the end from Wahoo where he says he wants to literally kill Fernandez. Larry Zbyszko vs Masa Saito (02/10/90 NJPW) I could tell that this was going to be a fantastic encounter from the very first collar-and-elbow! Oh man! Take note current wrestlers, THIS is how you tie up! The match was a fine example of how to create drama and excitement without running through moves. The holds were credible and meaningful towards the outcome of the fight. Their strikes were stiff yet, measured. Larry & Mr. Saito used their body language (and actual language in Lar's case) to convey athleticism, desperation, and that killer instinct. This was a great match. Nick Bockwinkel vs Masa Saito (12/26/90 NJPW): If you like headlock work then this is a match for you brother! I truly dug the simple focus on the headlock and leg locks becuase you felt the struggle was genuine. Man, two masters going at it for the NJ crowd. The finish came a little too quick but, dang this was a pretty good bout. QUICKIE BONUS: Rick Martel vs Naoki Sano (08/09/91 SWS): Roughly 5 minutes of pedal to the metal 80s technical junior offense. I loved it, it was short and to the point and put over the power of a technical pinning predicament. Thanks for reading!!! If I can get my act together, I should have a few posts ready to go in the next few days

G. Badger

G. Badger

AJPW You Might Have Missed: Autumn 2011

I think we can all pretty much admit AJPW took a stylistic nosedive after the NOAH exodus. Sure Kawada, Tenryu, and Kojima occasionally had some great matches but, by in large, folks just didn't care to go out of their way to purchase this stuff. Therefore, the internet community didn't have much to go on as far as recommendations. My interest in AJPW post NOAH actually starts when some of the guys went back in 2013 I believe. Akiyama, Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki and others decided NOAH was a stagnant pond and head back (at least Akiyama and Kanemaru) to their true home. So, I watched a few matches from that period and saw a couple reviews and whatnot that it caught my interest to explore a little more. I was surprised to find that AJPW was actually pretty darn good...great at times! Mutoh eventually was fading from the scene in ring and stylistically. So, matches that featured athleticism and struggle were being championed over angles and sports entertainment style wrestling. So, I cherry picked a few DVDs from about 2011-2015. I'm a cheap skate so I only got single disc shows so, I'm probably missing out on some big time match ups BUT I was taking a risk. I figure it'd be better to trust my gut with the match-ups than, hope the 2 disc big shows would deliver. Anyhow, for whatever reason I jumped in during the Fall of 2011 and boy was I pleasantly surprised! Let's check out the matches!   SUWAMA, Masakatsu Funaki & Takao Omori vs Seiya Sanada, Taiyo Kea & Manabu Soya (09/25/11 AJPW): This is exactly the exciting, hard hitting match that I hoped it would be. It never treads into parody of former AJPW or NOAH territory with unneeded strike battles or meaningless machismo. The characters play their part during the 20 minutes of action. Highly recommended, very good match.   Koji Kanemoto vs KAI - Jr. Tournament Finals (09/25/11 AJPW): Holy crap! This was awesome  They really beat the crap out of each other. KAI is a guy that I've seen a couple times and liked. I'd not yet say, "Hey gotta search out me some KAI footy!" but, he is one to watch. Koji worked on the leg here, setting up for his Ankle Hold. KAI did very well in selling the leg damage (even though he did do some flying moves). I felt he sold it enough within the narrative: He's young and he's going to work with the moves that got him to the finals. Koji was punk as fuck and the A+ worker that he can be- especially as the tough vet. The match featured loads of stiff strikes, variety and smarts. Both guys were battered by the end. It was a true contest for something important and a classic match in the Jr. tradition. I've never heard anyone mention this match so, I'm glad I got the DVD on this.   Stong BJW & Takao Omori vs Manabu Soya, Sanada & Taiyo Kea (10/17): 17 minute match. Things weren't clicking 100% but, that made this bout feel more organic and "real." Strong BJW vs Soya/Sanada is the rivalry at the time and the focus was kept on that here. Kea vs Omori is a struggle that's been going on since the late 90's so, there was something at stake here as well. The action was good with many tags, irish whip moves, and strike exchanges. The finishing segment was fantastic and capped off a very good match.   Jun Akiyama & Ricky Marvin vs SUWAMA & KAI (10/17): 19 minute match. I really dug the mind games Akiyama was playing on SUWAMA...not only effecting this match but setting the stage for their 10/23 Triple Crown fight. KAI and Marvin's interactions were rough around the edges and not in the way of the above match. I'll chalk this up to KAI (who I usually like) but, didn't really bring much to the match. He just kept things moving along. It was a very good match with nice action and told a good story. I just remember liking it a heck of a lot more on the first watch a year or two ago. SO, you might disagree with me here...heck If I watch it a 3rd time, I might disagree with myself!   Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA (10/23): Sorry, I don't have my notes handy for this match but, I remember that is was kinda disappointing. I was hoping for a classic but, recall it being just a very good match (like *** 3/4). I want to say the pacing was slow and probably went 5 minutes longer than it needed to. I'm pretty confident in that recollection.   Kaz Hiyashi & KENSO vs Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): KENSO is another guy that I've come to watch for. He's kinda a heel and uses his belt to choke guys. I like this kind of guy in the 2010's. He's got some moves but, is much more of a character than a world class athlete. I'm kinda tired of guys that are young athletes but, rely upon a gimmick rather than their abilities. They work a parody gimmick but, have no idea how their work matches up to their character. So, they do a bunch moves that their character would/should not do. KENSO is a guy where he's got a charisma about him without being a cartoon character with a 100 moves. Anyways, this match was one long finishing run at 11 minutes. Very exciting rush match. Minoru & Koji are cocky jerks taunting KENSO until he has to smack the taste outta their mouths. At this run time, I highly recommend watching this. Its just very good stuff.   Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs Seiya Sanada & KAI - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): Here's that KAI fella again! Omori & Soya have teamed up here as Wild Hearts. The thing is Sanada & Soya were tag partners just a few months ago. Not sure who wanted the split but, they square off right at the bell. Seiya goes for speed and shocks Soya. KAI's in there and they go for the double team. These two young guns look dynamic as all get out! Oh shit! They are fighting in the stands now. Old man Omori's out there choking Sanada with a child's parasol! Hahahaha! Back on inside the ring and KAI's trying Soya but, come on dude! Manabu is a freaking caveman...and not the Fred Flintstone type either. Omori gets in there and wisely slows things down with KAI. The K man eventually finds an opening to get Seiya, the fire plug, going. Omori's had enough and puts big Soy sauce in there. Hey, deadlift suplex a motherfucker, Soya! This is a real back and forth match. Omori's trying to Axe Guillotine Driver KAI off the top now. Great! erase his head from existence! Just tons of double team destruction but, surprisingly never goes into bonkers territory. Both teams were very impressive. This was a great match.   Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs SUWAMA & Takumi Soya (11/26/11 AJPW): Strong BJW have the tag belts but, this is a non title fight. It's a RWTL match-up. So here we go- Takumi smartly WRESTLES Okabayashi...fuck...do NOT get into a power battle with him. Daisuke wants SUWAMA. 'WAMA is a beast eating chops for lunch. Takumi gets back in (at some point) and wrestling smartly but, gets sucked into trading hits and early one his chest is a cherry tomato. BJW is stretching him out like a fat lady in a pair of stirrup pants. Quick tags and repeated hard slams only rub it in. Soya is in trouble. Slam, cover, 2 count, kickout, tag, repeat. SUWAMA's waiting... This match was built brilliantly and paid off in a perfect manner. It starts out being like a ***3/4 match then, a great match like a firm ****+ but, damn this just kept getting better and better. So, I'd call this a classic match. I can't give a number or anything like that but, whew! This did it for me! Awesome closer to an awesome night of wrestling.   KENSO & Kaz Hiyashi vs KAI & Seiya Sanada (12/03): I wanted to mention that if you get the DVD of this show, it has a really nice recap segement of the highlights and finishes of many (all?) of the RWTL matches that have taken place up to this time. I know as wrestling dorks, we want to see the full matches BUT it is really nice and fun to see some of these things clipped down to the highlights. They make Akebono matches look watchable. Anyhow, I like everyone here but, wouldn't say I would stick around for an 18 minute match of theirs...but, I was wrong. They managed to keep everything fun and exciting. The action was very good and it really was time well spent. KENSO even busted open KAI's chest, giving meaning to the nomenclature- knife edge chops. Very good match Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20 minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me.   Some of these reviews appeared really early on in the blog but,  I wanted to consolidate everything for convenience and reference sake. The first post or so was more than a year and a half ago and I know when I'm doing research on wrestling recommendations, it really helps to have everything right in one spot. Anyhow, I was damn impressed by the above matches. Three matches I would call classics (in that ****1/2 star range). Don't be mistaken there is some so-so matches that I had to sit through, some I had to skip but, I've spared you the write-ups on those. Manabu Soya is one guy that I think is slept on especially as a tag team wrestler. If you dig Strong BJW then, you need to see them go up against Soya and Omori. As winter approaches, I want to try and start on 2012 AJPW which I think I have much more of. So, that is a little project goal. We'll see though Fingers crossed! Thanks for reading!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Best Match Watched - 2019

It is that time of year where everyone compiles all of the best and worst stuff of the year. In this case, I'm talking about wrestling and I am no different from every other wrestle dork on the inter-web. I take a slightly different approach than most because more often than not, I don't keep up with current wrestling. So, I can't provide a match of the year (MOTY) or anything like that...even though I saw a couple of ROH matches that I thought were great. I'm pretty sure those aren't ending up on folks lists though Anyhow, I'm doing my Best Match Watched list for 2019 which are the best matches of any year that I've watched in the past 365 days. This probably won't be the longest list since I started the blog since we were moving this year and had to sell our house BUT I've got some matches that I haven't blogged about that I think are worthy contenders so, I might surprise myself. So, to start let's go back to the half way point of the year and recap from my June post: 
-Hans Schmidt vs Yukon Eric - Chicago Wrestling (circa 1958): Simple, brutal wrestling - the ropes break, part of the ring breaks. Classic shit. 
-Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP (1977): Near classic hard-hitting bout and angle.
-Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA (1984): The in-ring work, the story, this is a classic. 
-AKIRA vs Kenny Omega - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Another 'not a classic but great match.'
-Prince Devitt vs Gedo - NJPW Best of the Super Jrs. (2010): Simple match layout but, the swearing/intensity of this match was lights out awesome. 
-Finlay vs TAJIRI - Smash - Final Show (2012): A near-classic emotional and physically punishing bout. Fans of either guys need to watch this! 
-Daniel Bryan vs CM Punk - Money in the Bank (2012): Great 
-Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong - ROH Summer Heat Tour (Cincinnati 2014): Classic ROH title fight. 
-Jeff Cobb vs Ricochet - PWG Battle of Los Angeles (2016): Great match! 12-14 minute barn burner 
-Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestle Kingdom 13 (2019): Inoki Strong Style lives! Great match at least but, a near-classic to me.  Not a bad list so far...let's see what the 2nd half of 2019 has for us...Starting with Starrcade matches... 
Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action-packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling!  Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): A madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match.  Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This was violent from the very start... Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all-time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match.  Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): This is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match.  Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): This is a classic match with a simple story and layout. They never go too complicated in the moves department and therefore never mess anything up. Then, you're riding on charisma and selling in order to get the match over with the fans. Here they truly excel. Flair is a given but, Luger at this time seemed to have even God on his side. Never was I a Lex fan until I saw him from this era. And, man! Did he have "it" for a few years? The physique and the power are on full display and it really seems like Ric is facing his replacement for the 90's in this match.  Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Masa Chono & Shinya Hashimoto (WAR 10/01/93): Ten minutes of solid ass-kicking. Hash (IWGP champ) gets on the mic before the bell and talks some trash that kicks off this intense sprint-fight. As much as I love a smooth wrestling match (like above), I love a rough non-cooperative slobber knocker just the same. All four guys use their simple offense and great selling to put on a near-classic match. Don't believe me? Watch for Tenryu's chops on Chono...that should get you going...  Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (FMW - Exploding Barbwire match - 09/01/96): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and the best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans.  Hayabusa vs TAKA Michinoku (FMW 11/16/96): Dives, counters, springboard moves, and big signature offense - it wasn't a classic but, dang! It was a great match. Right up there with the Joshi match.  Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (FMW 12/11/96): Kandori submission attempts and Kudome heart and head drops make this a good match just on paper. Here they throw in all kinds of teases & fake-outs. It made for a really exciting Joshi match (which I haven't seen in ages). Plus their timing and chemistry were fantastic. I would have to say this fits right alongside AJW stuff from '96 and probably better than many of the overlong bouts that Toyota had that year.  Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya) (AJPW 11/29/2011): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here.  Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20-minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me.  Bennett & Taven vs Ciampa & Hanson (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This all kinds of chaos! I love this type of stuff A simple story of the bearded babyfaces getting revenge on the shit-talking, good looking heels, and babe. The energy was there, the pacing was there, and everything just clicked. Great match and a fantastic segment if you count the match before.  Alberto El Patron vs Roderick Strong (ROH Winter Warriors Dayton 2015): This was a fantastic physical match between two veteran wrestlers. Alberto was going after Roddy's injured arm; hoping to secure the cross armbreaker. Roderick was trying to break down El Patron's body as only he can. The fans were psyched to see this match up and so was I. Alberto, Regal, and Danielson were two guys I would watch in the WWE so, it was great to see the former Dos Caras Jr. in a ring where he could show US fans what he's about. It was a shame they couldn't bring him in for more shows but, I'm glad we got this one. A great match, maybe a near-classic that was everything it needed to be.  From ROH - Conquest Tour 2015 - Hopkins MN  Roderick Strong vs Silas Young - This is a good match just on paper. You know they're going to hit hard and keep the pace up so, I was confident this bout would get things back on track. And I was not disappointed. This bout felt like a genuine struggle which is much appreciated in 2019. They had answers for each other's tricks & traps and I think that helped make this a great match. In fact, I wouldn't sneeze at anyone who would rate this **** 1/4. Great finish and MOTN thus far.  Briscoes vs War Machine - The tag team equivalent of the above match. Physical and surprisingly quick match. Now its not like the Young Bucks were facing off against Jay & Mark but, War Machine hustled like a couple of Young Vaders. Another great match where **** 1/4 would totally be acceptable.  Now for some that weren't covered on the blog: 
Jun Akiyama vs Katsuyori Shibata (Wrestle -1 (not Mutoh) 08/04/05): A very stiff BattlARTS type of match. It was great although its no surprise that Shibata, who based his career on these types of bouts, is now retired. If you're a fan of either, really go watch this now...  Sabu vs Rob Van Dam (ECW Guilty as Charged 2000): A controversial choice since most folks on the PWO match discussion archive thought this was just "good" at best. It was perhaps their best single match with one another to me. In that regard, this match was superior to many similar move centric hardcore matches a few years later in ROH and certainly beyond. They did not go for overkill & empty their tanks and that IS why this is a great match. It felt like an athletic competition (in the ECW world) and not moves for moves sake.  Now for some I'd only written in my notebook but are ABSOLUTELY worth talking about now:  Miracle Violence Connection (Williams and Gordy) vs Misawa & Kawada (AJPW 12/06/91 RWTL Final Match): Holy crap is Gordy intense! The MVC gameplan is to divide and conquer. The Japanese team knows this and make frequent tags and hit the Americans high & low. The trick is to endure Miracle Violence's onslaught though...and what an onslaught it is! Near classic encounter with those little unexpected moments that make this era of AJPW so great.  Kurt Angle vs Yuji Nagata (TNA/NJPW Wrestle Kingdom II): Saw this around when it happened and thought it was great but not classic stuff. I re-watched this a couple of months ago and damn was I wrong! This was a freaking intense wrestling match. If you're down for guys working submissions and escapes and selling through facial expressions - this is a match for you. I will go on to say this was an extension of Inoki Strong Style and belongs in that upper echelon. I know more about Nagata now than 11 years ago and understand the nuances of this bout so, I really can appreciate this as puro as a combat sport. Classic match  Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008): I remember the hype for this match and the clips from Impact and the DVD ads and I thought this looked amazing. I was right...took me more than a decade to see it but, it was worth the wait. Like the above Nagata match, this was puro as combat sport. Perhaps even more so as this was during Angle's MMA training/Frank Trigg period, we have a hexagonal cage, and this was around UFC's break-through period of mainstream acceptance with their Ultimate Fighter show also on SPIKE. Anyhow, these two agreed to go stiff where it reminded me of Joe vs Kobashi for a moment or two. Seriously that lariat! Are you kidding me? Add that in with excellent build and pacing and we end up with a true classic and perhaps an all-time must-see classic encounter when you take into consideration their history and the build-up to this battle. This is certainly top tier for TNA and "puro" in America type matches as well as Inoki Strong Style in the 2000's.  Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries (TNA Slammiversary X - 2012): Well, hot damn! These guys still have it 8 years after their Final Battle classic. In fact, the similarities are uncanny...is this the same match just 8 years later? No...can't be...regardless they still brought the intensity and I cannot find any fault here. I loved this match and thought it was a classic especially for TNA fans.  Magnus (Nick Aldis) vs KAI (TNA/Wrestle-1 Global Impact 2014): This is for the TNA World title and I certainly had my reservations going into this. Thankfully, we get 15 minutes of simple snug wrestling. It felt very similar to WCW vs NJPW stuff in Japan. This was excellently paced, well worked with some stiffer than expected moves, and an emphatic finish. I truly can't find a fault with this match, great stuff.  Rush & Dragon Lee vs Briscoe Brothers (ROH TV Summer 2019): This was a PPV level match for free. Jay and Mark still have that crazy streak so this was all action - blood, chair assisted moves, double teams. Plus both teams have a personality which is something I think ROH does lack at this time. (I like Taven but, don't get what they're doing with him btw).A few more minutes and this would have been a classic but, this was a great match nonetheless. Look for this one somehow!  SO LET'S ORGANIZE THIS! What is the cream of the crop?  I think I'm going to go with an emotional pick and choose Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle (TNA Lockdown 2008) as the Best Match Watched. The other top 5 matches are classic matches with timeless moments etched into my brain and it took me a long time to rule them out as the top of the top. The Joe vs Angle match plays off my nostalgia from 2008 and watching TNA Impact every week. In that regard, I can legitimately say they are two of my favorites of the 2000's and to see them truly have the all-out war that they only showed hints of in 2006 was an unbelievable pay-off to me. The Nagata match with Kurt was a precursor to the Lockdown match and although that was a classic in its own right, it helped bolster the drama of the Joe match. I don't know if this was intentional or what but, it totally worked on me.  I think Tully vs Magnum is a known all-time classic and I don't know what one more person agreeing with that sentiment is going to do for its prestige. You know what I mean? It is required viewing without me saying so I think Piper vs Valentine is a precursor to that match and for that reason should be on your must-watch list. I don't think it gets the love it deserves perhaps because people think of the WWF versions of the guys and think it can't be as intense as people say. I would leave it from the top spot just because its finish cannot match the Tully vs Magnum finish...not much can though!  The Schmidt vs Yukon and Martel vs Bockwinkel bouts are ones that I had never really heard of but, certainly deserve more recognition. I understand folks not wanting to go back to 1958 but, I really recommend watching pre-1970s wrestling at least a couple times every year. It gets harder and harder since we get further and further away from it...trust me. The AWA title match with Rick & Nick was one of those things I found online that I just wanted to explore as I'm always trying to find more good "wrestling" from them. I've seen damn near 80% of their ESPN show but, always want to see more of the era before they went out of business. Martel and Bock are two in particular that I was looking for and to see this title match was great...little did I know it would be a masterpiece.  All that being said, I go back to my emotional bias for the Joe vs Angle Lockdown fight being the reason I say it’s the Best Match I watched in 2019. I also think it’s probably an arguable match to consider a classic and an objective "better match" than those mentioned above. Thing is I'm not going to argue against that...The point is that the Lockdown match was ticked off every box for me...I was invested in the outcome, I was surprised and entertained, my 11-year-long expectations were exceeded, and I'm a fan of both wrestlers. So, I'm much happier giving some love for a match that many might overlook because of when it was and who it was wrestled for (TNA) than telling you something you already know like with the I Quit or Dog Collar match. OK explanation over Let's do the rest of the year award type things next post.  Thanks for reading!
 

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Unstoppable 2007

If you are a fan of  ROH's golden years then, I'm sure you have heard of Full Impact Pro wrestling. This was ROH's sister company in Florida that was used as a sort of feeder system for Ring of Honor to varying degrees of success. It doesn't seem like it was a gigantic hit based on the small amount of show/match reviews available online still. But, I don't know if this is really warranted. Many of the cards are pretty darn impressive with guys like Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Danielson, Roderick Strong and others appearing on many shows. Now in some cases they're up against local talent that would be mid card talent in ROH but, often these top stars would square off against one another. And i can't believe that these are crappy matches which I feel is/was most people's impression given the scarcity of information online. There is one site that has archived reviews which I have used as my guide in exploring the back catalog of FIP. Now, I'm aware that it has been revitalized in the past few years but, my interest is in the original incarnation when Gabe was booking ROH and I would guess FIP. Dave Prazak was a big heel manager there so, I think perhaps he had a hand in booking too. He did in ROH's women's wrestling sister company Shimmer. I'm rambling now...anyhow I'm going to start Full Impact Friday with my first FIP DVD that I got in a Highspots freebie -Unstoppable 2007. Jack Evans vs Davey Richards - Lotsa fun watching Jack trying to not be killed by Davey. Nice arm work by Mr. Richards and a fantastic 450 move where Evans nearly destroyed DR. Very good match. The Florida fans love Jack! Heatbreak Express vs Black Market - Now these are guys ROH fans like myself won't be familiar with but, are a big deal in the FIP world. The Heartbreaks are like mid 2000's Buddy Rose & Doug Sommers. This was a good concession stand brawl with all kinds of shit flying. Erick Stevens vs Sal Rinauro - Sal was in under card matches in ROH so perhaps you'll remember him. But as a member of Young Rich and Ruthless (YRR) he's a little higher in the pecking order. Stevens you might know from ROH as well as his matches in wxw's 16 Carat from 2011 that I reviewed. To cut to the chase, this is FIP's version of Kobashi vs Ogawa. So when Erick gets his hands on Sallie Boy! Watch out! He's hitting like Nigel and Roddy. You may call BS on the finish but, a little bit of swerve is part of the charm with FIP. Its more like a JCP/NWA/early WCW promotion vs ROH being a version of NOAH or other puro group. I thought this was a great match. Kenny King & Jason Blade vs The Briscoes - Yup it's that Kenny King! Alright! This should be good as long as Blade can keep up. And yes he does! This is full speed ahead stuff. Blade & King are YRR and they have their BS at play. Dem Boys are in full mid 2000s murder mode. I do think that the fast pace hurt the match some. There wasn't enough time to let everything sink in. Very good stuff nonetheless! Roderick Strong vs Claudio Castagnoli - FIP title in a 2/3 falls match. This is a upper card match in ROH 2007 and they don't let the fans down. Claudio is jaw jacking with the crowd (he too is YRR) and Roddy is the wrestling machine we want. This was a very good to almost great match. I think they left a bunch on the table and the finish was too quick for my taste but, I still liked this match a good bit.  I got this DVD for free from Highspots awhile back and a can't complain at all. I'm not seeing it for sale on their site but, I'm sure its available elsewhere. It'd be a steal at $5 but, you wouldn't be wrong if you got it for a few dollars more. It was a blast of a show especially the stuff I reviewed here. I am looking forward to seeing more. My plan is to review a new FIP show every Friday.  Thanks for reading! I hope I find some more good stuff.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - Pure Title Revival - Part 7

Here we are at the final week of the Pure Title tournament. Jonathan Gresham vs Tracy Williams plus The Briscoe Brothers & EC3 vs Shane Taylor Enterprises. We learn from Quinn that Vinnie and Matt Taven haven been fined for their repeated brawling and destruction of company property. That's cool! A nice throw back to the Code of Honor. I really hope ROH is serious about wanting to get back to the roots or "foundation" of the company. There are spoilers btw. Briscoe Brothers & EC3 vs Shane Taylor Enterprises - This was a pretty good 6 man match! I was really impressed with the SOS guys from STE. Moses and (Nam Here we are at the final week of the Pure Title tournament. Jonathan Gresham vs Tracy Williams plus The Briscoe Brothers & EC3 vs Shane Taylor Enterprises. We learn from Quinn that Vinnie and Matt Taven haven been fined for their repeated brawling and destruction of company property. That's cool! A nice throw back to the Code of Honor. I really hope ROH is serious about wanting to get back to the roots or "foundation" of the company . Briscoe Brothers & EC3 vs Shane Taylor Enterprises - This was a pretty good 6 man match! I was really impressed with the SOS guys from STE. Moses and Kaun looked really powerful and I'm seriously looking forward to seeing more of them. Taylor and EC3 looks like a good feud heating up. The Briscoes can do no wrong at this point. Mark was killing it here. He's still crazy after all these years.  Tournament Finals - Gresham vs Williams - Fortunately very little was cut from this match. I was worried since it had a 60 minute time limit. It took a little bit to get going with the first five minutes being good but, not as competitive as I would've liked. The last 8 minutes were pretty darn good and approaching greatness. Then it was over. Yup, nothing clever, no great story line to make sense of the finish. Gresham was able to hook on the Octopus Stretch (it was a mean looking one though) and that was it. Williams shook hands with Gresham and Lethal after the match. Talk about a let down! I really don't think my expectations were too high either. Williams had great matches thus far with Yehi and Lethal. There was no reason why he and Gresham couldn't...even if they only gave them 13 minutes. I really believe that this match is setting up a 3 person group of Lethal, Gresham, and Williams called The Foundation. Maybe Lethal and Gresham are already called this but, after a 5 month break in ROH TV we, the fans, need a reminder. My other clue to this is Ian Riccaboni made a slip by saying something like "two men representing The Foundation" are in the ring. Perhaps not a slip as both men represent the foundation of what ROH was built upon but, Riccaboni didn't say that. His choice of words are pretty good and he rarely mis-speaks. Therefore, one could chalk this up to an intentional foreshadowing OR ROH is taping many shows at a time (perhaps out of order). And this slip was a continuity issue as The Foundation as a group may have already formed in a taped promo/interview format. I would be all for this group and Ring of Honor seems keen on the 3-4 man squads. They are the bread and butter for their live show main events. Nevertheless, I am a bit disappointed with the final match. This is especially true when the guys had a couple weeks off after their first match. Now, in reality, if they taped the entire tournament over a day or two then, I can't blame them for being banged up and doing a short match. This was just not the war that the best two pure wrestlers in the company could have put on. So, it all felt a little flat. e) looked really powerful and I'm seriously looking forward to seeing more of them. Taylor and EC3 looks like a good feud heating up. The Briscoes can do no wrong at this point. Mark was killing it here. He's still crazy after all these years.  Tournament Finals - Gresham vs Williams - Fortunately very little was cut from this match. I was worried since it had a 60 minute time limit. It took a little bit to get going with the first five minutes being good but, not as competitive as I would've liked. The last 8 minutes were pretty darn good and approaching greatness. Then it was over. Yup, nothing clever, no great story line to make sense of the finish. Gresham was able to hook on the Octopus Stretch (it was a mean looking one though) and that was it. Williams shook hands with Gresham and Lethal after the match. Talk about a let down! I really don't think my expectations were too high either. Williams had great matches thus far with Yehi and Lethal. There was no reason why he and Gresham couldn't...even if they only gave them 13 minutes. I really believe that this match is setting up a 3 person group of Lethal, Gresham, and Williams called The Foundation. Maybe Lethal and Gresham are already called this but, after a 5 month break in ROH TV we, the fans, need a reminder. My other clue to this is Ian Riccaboni made a slip by saying something like "two men representing The Foundation" are in the ring. Perhaps not a slip as both men represent the foundation of what ROH was built upon but, Riccaboni didn't say that. His choice of words are pretty good and he rarely mis-speaks. Therefore, one could chalk this up to an intentional foreshadowing OR ROH is taping many shows at a time (perhaps out of order). And this slip was a continuity issue as The Foundation as a group may have already formed in a taped promo/interview format. I would be all for this group and Ring of Honor seems keen on the 3-4 man squads. They are the bread and butter for their live show main events. Nevertheless, I am a bit disappointed with the final match. This is especially true when the guys had a couple weeks off after their first match. Now, in reality, if they taped the entire tournament over a day or two then, I can't blame them for being banged up and doing a short match. This was just not the war that the best two pure wrestlers in the company could have put on. So, it all felt a little flat. I really hope that Gresham is able to have some great defenses. His matches in the tournament were good but, not great. This win was no exception. Thanks for reading! Check the big match out for yourself. You might like it more than I did.

G. Badger

G. Badger

This Day in Wrestling - NOAH - Kobashi vs Akiyama 12/23/2000

This match is now 20 years old -  wow! I cannot believe that to be honest. I can do math and probably can remember a few things from each year to prove to myself that 2000 was 20 years ago but, this still seems somewhat modern to me. Perhaps its the green ring mat? That's probably it. But man what kinda gets me is that I've been meaning to see this match for probably 10 years now. Its one of those matches that doesn't quite reach the essential viewing list of many folk like their 2004 match or the one from 1998 or 1999...I can't remember right now. I want to say its 98 though. I'm getting side tracked but maybe that's the point. The Misawa-Kobashi-Akiyama-Taue-Kawada merry-go-round was pumping out great matches at the end of the 90's but, they all start to run together. I think that may be the case with this as well as the fact that Kobashi was in dire need of knee surgery at the start of NOAH. So, he does a few high profile matches and then goes away until 2002 and I think goes away again until 2003. In that regard, not much gets universal praise until the 2003 Misawa match. I'm getting side tracked again...I guess my point is this bout averaged out to middle of the road in folks reviews. I've seen it around ***3/4 to ****1/2. That can be a pretty big difference. But I wanted to watch it for This Day in Wrestling and I wanted to try and end 2020 with a banger of a match! I think its fair to say everyone has had a crappy year and I guess this was a gesture of ending it with a classic King's Road or Ark Style match. Ah...it was not to be Don't get me wrong it was a great heavyweight match but, I felt it was more of a spot match than anything else. It didn't seem to really grab me with a story I could believe in. It had nice attempts with Kobashi working on Akiyama's neck after a particularly nasty ramp DDT. Then Akiyama was able to find some breathing room by drop kicking Kobashi's knees. He then went to work on the arm, as is often the case, but he added some nice twists I thought. This was a slow burner but, it was picking up and I was invested for sure. I just wasn't sure who or what I was invested in beyond enjoying the match and the moves. That slow burn never really turned to rapid boiling.  It got close especially during some choice encounters - very stiff and head droppy. So, I think ratings may have been inflated back in the day on those 2 things. Kobashi's eye is swollen shut by the end. And you'd better believe Akiyama gets chopped to a pulp. With all that though, I just don't think there was enough substance in between to say there was a purpose to those moves as you would see in a classic match. I don't think there was enough intensity/spirit of competition to make it feel like a brutal fight either. So instead of being slow yet purposeful building to a dramatic ending OR energetic and violent exploding until there is a victor, it came off as above satisfactory. That is to say, I was satisfied with this as a big match Kobashi vs Akiyama match and was overly pleased with a half dozen spots and strike exchanges. But the socks were not blown off Great but not a classic to me. I'll issue a disclaimer now -  I'm pretty burnt out from working customer service and managing late orders and cancellations this holiday season. It has been the worst few months since I've started working this job 8 years ago. If you were waiting on a package or have had some orders cancelled this month, let me tell you there are about a dozen people behind the scenes trying their hardest to get your gifts out. I know its on the news and whatnot but, let me tell you that it has been especially rough with the pandemic both in receiving a flood of online & phone orders and not being able to keep staff or shifting staff because pandemic safety protocols. Let alone the usual Xmas stuff. So, perhaps I wasn't in the best head space watching this match. I am emotionally and mentally dulled right now. Maybe I'm not giving this bout a fair shake. You should take some time and watch this 20 year old match. You may actually be watching it with a clear head. Heck! I might even watch it again after the 25th when my brain can begin to heal Nothing helps the healing process like some lariat-o's! I hope to get my Best Match Watched and other things of note for 2020 together before New Year's Eve! Thanks for reading this year! Stay safe & happy holidays!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - In Full Force 2007

Back once again for Full Impact Fridays. This week we're looking at In Full Force - 2007. Without further ado, let's go! Seth Delay vs Hallowicked - A fun opener and a good showing for both guys. Lotsa kids in the audience tonight. Shingo vs Jigsaw - This was a really good match with lots of action and great heel work from Shingo & Prazak. Gotta love fans who chant U-S-A to a Japanese guy in 2007. One meat head adult was getting up in Shingo's face but, Takagi worked him. Good for him, I probably would have punched the guy. This was a little off-putting but, it didn't detract from the match. ***3/4 stuff they, really didn't hold anything back with the time given. It reminded me of a PWG show where an undercard match was trying to steal the show. Black Market vs Claudio Castagnoli & Sal Rinauro (Loser Leaves Town) - I ended up skipping this. There is a period of Castagnoli that comes across as really cheesy and this fell into that category. Sean Waltman vs Chasyn Rance - Skipped this. I'm just not interested in spending time on this. The Briscoes vs Necro Butcher & Mad Man Pondo - First Pondo match and I was impressed. I dug the heck outta this match since I'm an old ECW fan. Lotsa brawling around the venue and hardcore stuff...they went overboard and it probably was too violent for the kids and old folks but, this was a great indy hardcore match. Fans of the Briscoes should like this a bunch! Erick Stevens vs Gran Akuma - Another all action match much like Shingo & Jigsaw. Stevens really is coming into his own and Akuma is a sure thing for good wrestling. These two really put on an offense heavy match and it went over big with the crowd. I'd probably put it at ***3/4 as well. Colt Cabana vs Larry Sweeney - This is a good comedy match but, I don't know if I would have put it right before the main event...I dunno maybe to break up the action. Larry Sweeney had his butt out...I'm thinking he did that on the previous show too. Ha! Still with all the kids there...not sure if that was a wise choice. Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards (2 out of 3 Falls) - I noticed the crowd wasn't a full for the main event. I'm not sure why - the violent tag match, Larry Sweeney's butt, or perhaps the show was going on long? Kids have always been apart of FIP and I think many indy shows especially at this time. That all being said this was another very good match but, it wasn't great. I felt Davey was playing to the crowd too much (not intense enough, playing to the kids) and there wasn't a great build to the finish. Fall 3 came just a sudden as 1 & 2. Now they had a "I Quit" match the night before so, perhaps this is weaker because of that. I feel that they didn't really know how to structure this match for 3 falls OR perhaps just said 'screw it' and just aimed for 'very good' instead of 'great.' Again there were lots of kids and it looks like people had left. Why kill yourself with stiff chops & kicks, backbreakers, dives etc. when basic well timed wrestling along will do the trick too. I watched the match twice in a row just to check. It is a very good match it just doesn't deliver in a Roddy vs Davey type of way. I kinda felt this way of their Fallout 2006 match actually.   Overall, this was a really good show where everything I watched was entertaining. I wouldn't say there was one MUST-SEE match but, there were 4 very good matches that really make this worth your $5 especially if you are a fan of some of the wrestlers. So no harm in tacking this on to an order and having a good time.   Thanks for reading and stay safe!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - ROH TV thoughts prior to 19th Anniversary Show

Man, what is going on with Ring of Honor again? They just seemed to go right back to where they were before the pandemic and the Pure Title Tourney. The problem as I see it is: They have too many wrestlers for the amount of TV time and PPVs they do. They've got one hour of TV to fill and a PPV every three months right now. As I've followed it some guys are making an appearance once a month on TV and frankly this isn't just the low end guys like LSG, The Bouncers, and others. I don't know the last time I saw Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams, Rhett Titus, Mike Bennett, Vincent and it goes on and on. These are supposed to be their upper card guys. Same with Brody King who other than a little scuffle the other week has been off TV for sometime. I mean he was the # 1 contender at Final Battle and he's just made like a couple appearances at most in the past two months!? ROH doesn't put enough content out right now/past year to be having as many lower end guys in singles matches as they do. Does Dak Draper, Tony Deppen, Eli Isom need a singles match on TV where they feature 2-3 matches a week? I don't think so when it means we don't see guys from their "big" story lines once or twice a month. I say this because it is really hard for me, a weekly viewer, to even remember or care about the "big" matches on the PPV. I'm too busy watching fun throw-away matches that don't amount to anything again - just like pre-pandemic ROH was doing. Case in point is Dak Draper beating Fred Yehi in a Pure Rules match. Firstly, Pure Matches have nothing going for them anymore because they are not wrestled any differently than regular matches. OK there's the closed fist thing but, there's no real danger there because no one has been DQ'd for doing it twice yet. That being said Fred Yehi, who was THE standout of new comer to ROH during the Pure Tournament, is a fantastic talent for ROH to get behind. Dak Draper is a recent (somewhat) winner of the Top Prospect Tourney which isn't saying a lot but, he's in good shape and he's tall. Why is this guy beating a Yehi, who beat vet Silas Young and took Tracy Williams to the limit? It doesn't make any sense if you've been watching the show. And I think ROH or Sinclair think that people don't watch the show regularly enough to actually follow/remember/care about such things. Why show this match instead of Yehi vs someone from Los Ingobernales? That would at least be Foundation vs LFI or at least Pure Rules vs LFI's rudo-ism... Where ROH hit a type of gold was limiting their roster and having a tournament during the Pure Title stuff. A tourney has built in drama because there are stakes to every match and we see the results of those wins and losses. I got used to them throwing in non-tourney matches like a 6 man or perhaps a segment (like with Taven & Vincent) to keep things fresh or different with the wrestling style. Unfortunately, ROH did exactly what I was afraid of when they started showing promos of Rush & crew. It became the same old crap and the big reveal of The Foundation group has turned to be a whole-lotta-nothing like most of their factions the past couple years. That is unless you actually want to feature them on your one hour of TV a week. So now we have all of these little story lines that are not very interesting and the ones that actually have the potential to be good are so few and far between I can hardly remember what happened last. And from what it seems to me, it is because ROH wants to get their money's worth by showing every wrestler they have for a singles match or two over the course of 2-3 months...regardless if that wrestler is any good, anyone wants to see that person, or there is a story involved for a PPV. Now, if they are doing this due to COVID-19 safety then, that's OK. But they have got to be a little bit better in how they plan things in terms of story. If anything pepper in a little footage or a match every week from their top 2 stories per week. I've admitted that ROH is pretty much running midcard type matches and their TV show is like WCW Worldwide but, honestly it isn't even fun anymore. The draw of watching stuff like that is that every once in awhile something very good or great will be shown. A match or an interview that will suck you into the world their presenting. The Pure Tourney had moments like this,  matches after the tourney like had this like Dalton vs Brody King and Woods vs Castle...perhaps Dragon Lee vs Rey Horus (IIRC). So they have it in them to do this...and I think if they ran more tag matches (2v2 or 3v3) then they could still use their roster BUT keep people fresh in the fans minds. And this would keep matches exciting and cover-up any weak spots for newer guys...and you could make a tournament out of it! So, the booking is the story line (I'm no genius). Tag teams to fight for Dragon Lee & Kenny King's belts are: Woods & Young (they seem to want to put them back together...but we'll have to wait a month to see if that to happens), Moses & Kaun, The Bouncers, anyone from The Foundation (Rhett and Lethal?), Rey Horus & Flamita, Bennett & Taven, Vincent and Bateman, Dalton Castle and Tony Deppen (why not?). Boom...there you go eight teams. Two matches every week and their using two more guys/week so they're getting their value there. Plus they could have the LFI, Foundation, or other stable mates come out a ring side if they need more folks. That's a helluva lot more interesting than random mis-matches.   Anyhow, here's what ROH's 19th Anniversary line-up looks like thus far: Dalton Castle vs Josh Woods - OK this makes sense. Its their 3rd match and they mesh well with one another. Danhausen vs Brian Johnson vs LSG vs Eli Isom - Freebie match in hour 1 of 4. Maybe don't do 4 hours... Mark Briscoe vs Flip Gordon - I could do without Flip anymore. This was some convoluted set-up where EC3 (remember him?) paid off Flip to interfere in a Briscoes match. Who cares... Gresham vs Dak Draper (Pure Title) - See above...no reason Draper gets a title shot for beating Fred Yehi. This looks like a B.S. match no fan asked for. The Foundation  as a gimmick would be fine with two like-minded athletes fighting for the belt. God-forbid we get a potentially great pure match with Yehi & Gresham (what I wanted for the Pure Tourney Finals). Titus & Williams vs Lee & Kenny King (Tag Titles) - What should be a TV match to build the feud has been fast tracked to a PPV match. This is EXACTLY the problem I have...there has been no build for this particular match. Which is fine for TV but asinine for PPV. Williams vs Lee (TV title) - That's right folks! Lee and Hot Sauce face off again or for the first time (?) for the TV title. Here's an idea...maybe only give 1 person a title at a time ROH. They are giving belts to people in order to justify matches on their PPV but are afraid to give them to anyone different. Again fine for TV but asinine for PPV. Also, they probably can retire the TV title. Vincent vs Matt Taven - Fight without Honor match. They call it an unsanctioned match and will take place off site in Boston. Its supposed to be the blow-off to the feud but, we've hardly seen enough of this lately to anyone to be invested in this. Probably still will be fun though. Shane Taylor Promotions vs Mexisquad (6 man titles) - Isn't this the match where STPromotions won the belts? Did they even defend them once? Is ROH just going to give them back to Mexisquad here? When everyone has won the championship then, it kind of makes the championship meaningless. Can probably retire this title as well. Jay Briscoe vs EC3 - Final Battle Rain check match...then I'm guessing EC3 will be gone. He seemed to come back just for this PPV...I'm guessing that was in his contract. Who knows...he's on the ROH roster page. Rush vs Jay Lethal (ROH World Title) - They might give it back to Lethal since it seems he's the only person who can carry it and the company right now. If they don't then perhaps they can drag a quality program out of Rush vs Lethal for a couple months...if they do some of the things I mentioned above. Otherwise, they will have to stick with it for half the year and have multiple interactions (tag, 6 man, brawls etc.) to keep the heat up. It might actually be great stuff and give some prestige back to the belt. Not optimistic though...   They are having a Foudation vs Ingobernales 8 man match the week before 19th Anniversary (this upcoming show) so, perhaps that will fan the flames of interest for the 4 Foundation vs LFI matches on the bloated PPV card. Again trying to get in as many guys as possible at the cost of match quality or fan interest But! At least other than Draper it features the company's many players...so again why is Draper on it? I'm guessing Yehi is  paid on as needed basis where Draper probably is on contract. But still why not Brody King, LSG or Deppen? All would actually have a good match at least.
All this being said, ROH still isn't using their signed Women of Honor wrestlers as well as their UK talent in Joe Hendry and big player and #1 contender prior to lock down Mark Haskins. Where the heck do you fit all of those folks in AND try to get a more cohesive narrative for your company? If you don't do more 6 man matches and tags...you don't get better, you get worse. It will be a jumbled mess like AWA on ESPN or MLW Underground (from what I watched). Thanks for reading my rambling Apologies for typos and that kind of stuff. Should be back on track for more FIP next week and the final installment of FMW 1998 soon thereafter.

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Third Year Anniversary (2007)

Sara Del Ray vs Lacey vs Daizee Haze - It was a good triple threat match with nice action.  It started out slow but improved as it went on.  It was just nice to see women's wrestling especially in this setting.  
Necro Butcher vs Gran Akuma (NO DQ Match) - Good but not great.  I didn't think that Grand Akuma got a lot of offense in. It was a fun match nonetheless.
Erick Stevens vs Jack Evans - Very good to almost even a great match.  Lots of great moves from Jack.  Erick provided a great base for Jack's aerial moves. Not everything hit 100% perfection but it all still looked good and worked great in the setting. This was where the show got started in my opinion.   BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe - This was a great match.  Lots of fast paced action with good moves. BB Hulk was all over the place and you couldn't even tell it was a small show since he was doing so much. Yamato was still coming into his own but was hitting as hard as Roderick.  Yamato had some good moves with excellent German suplex on Roderick. Briscoe and Roderick on offense was really good stuff and everyone really brought their A game. Probably could've been a classic but the structure of the match was more American than the typical ROH/Dragon Gate matches.   Black Market and The Heartbreak Express vs The YRR - Good fun brawl the night before the Cage of Pain 2 match.  I don't think anyone was going all out considering they had that on the horizon.  There were a couple good moves but I would not have made this the main event.  However, the booking makes sense in the context of the story lines. In summary, a good DVD.  It wasn't blow away awesome as I would have hoped. You can tell from the reviews and the number of matches that I skipped that I wanted to get to the meat of the show. Even then only 2 of those matches were truly memorable. The Erick vs Jack and the Tag match were worth the $5 on Highspots especially if you're looking to get a taste of this era of ROH without hunting for DVDs.   Thanks for reading!! Stay safe P.s. I used a different pic for the entry since they advertise the DVD as Dragon Gate vs FIP...change things up a bit.

G. Badger

G. Badger

An Introduction

I know blogs aren't the hip thing anymore. That's probably been the case for a long time actually. I'll admit that I'm out of it. Anyhow, I've been keeping a journal of my views on puroresu since I got hooked on it 11-12 years ago.   I've typed a couple hundred pages of reviews in a Word pad file on a Dell desktop. Then, for some reason a couple years ago, I've regressed into writing reviews into spiral notebooks. I've got to share this with someone, right? Eh, perhaps not the seasoned wrestling fan but, the guy or gal just getting into Puro. Or maybe someone who is looking to branch out from the current NJ style which seems to have become synonymous with Puro the last few years.   My goal or aim of this blog is to share my views on Japanese wrestling as well as other related styles or promotions throughout the years. Generally speaking, 1975-2015. I'm sure that I will hit upon some TNA, ROH, PWG, and wXW along the way but, that's why the blog is called Puro + More. I do want to try and cover current (2016-present) Wrestle 1 and Zero 1 via YouTube and Daily Motion as well.   I'm certainly going to still participate in the Match Discussion Archives. In fact, there may be some duplication there as well as from the Obscure Japanese Indies and WAR topics. Here I can expand upon them a bit more and ramble. In no way do I want this to be a big old review dump though.   I've got a schedule and daily theme set up (in my notebook of course) so, my objective is to post an entry once a day. I want to keep things varied for readers and myself. Plus, I want to keep the blog moving along so, it remains interesting for all. We all know how easy it is to start a project but, keeping up with it can be another matter.   Thanks for reading. I'm excited to get started

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: Kotaro Suzuki

A couple years ago I found out that my fiancé's college friend (who lives in Japan) was a wrestling fan and regularly goes to shows in Tokyo. Awesome! After talking, it turns out he's good buddies with Kotaro Suzuki. Holy crap, really!? Being the awesome nice guy that he is (both our friend & Kotaro), I received a signed poster and tee shirt in the mail a few weeks later. My mind is still blown   I've become a big fan ever since. So, I'd like to repay his kindness in the best way that a wrestle dork with a blog can...Here's a spotlight on some of my favorite Kotaro Suzuki matches:   Makoto Hashi vs Kotaro Suzuki (NOAH 06/06/03): A really fun opener for a fantastic show. This match would be great for an American TV match albeit stiffer. Recommended match.   Tiger Emperor (Suzuki) vs Ricky Marvin - Mask vs Hair (NOAH 04/02/05): An excellent display of athleticism, speed, and execution. These guys work so well together. I'm really surprised these guys were never brought into ROH at the time. The wager didn't really matter too much to me but, it was amazing lucharesu. Highly recommended.   Takuma Sano vs Mushiking Terry (Suzuki) (NOAH 11/05/05): What started out as just a fun match turned into something I would strongly recommend checking out. There was a neat story as it appeared Mushiking has Sano's rolling solebutt to the gut scouted. He's dodging it at every attempt. This is really smart because it has been shown to be equal to Misawa's elbow strike or Kobashi's chop. Not only strong, it is unpredictable. Sano is the master of this move along with the top rope double stomp. In combination, it usually spells the beginning of the end for his opponents.   Terry (Suzuki) uses speed and craftiness against the the veteran. Smartly he works on weakening Takuma's legs with a variety of holds. This plan looks really good in pulling the upset. Sano's not out of it completely but, I'm buying a Mushiking win. It doesn't matter how much the kids are yelling for their superhero. He can only dodge that kick so many times. Really good match and two masked gimmicks in one year for Kotaro   Low Ki vs Kotaro Suzuki (NOAH 02/17/06): A fun Junior contest between two guys who are brilliant on offense. Their defense was less than developed although Low-Ki showed an avenue of genius. Still this was a fun, highly athletic and competitive bout. Ki was going to win because he out ranked Kotaro but, it was dramatic and exciting. Great match.   Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki vs Super Crazy & Ricky Marvin (NOAH 07/22/12): Well shit...they went right straight for crazy town here. I mean Super Crazy is in the match so, um I guess its to be expected...They were diving off, over, and through stuff in the first 3 minutes. The balance and timing these guys had was impeccable. There was a bit much in the end especially from Marvin who went full Chaquita Bananas with the finishers. If you enjoy the Young Bucks or the PWG style tag match, this is a highly recommended match. I won't say great but, its something Dave M. would probably give ****1/2 if it was in NJPW today.   Joe Doering vs Kotaro Suzuki (AJPW 08/17/13): An under 10 minute gem where a basic story was told with great execution, move selection, and energy. Highly Recommended.   Shuji Ishikawa & Daichi Kazato vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki (08/30/15 Union Pro): Nice tag team dynamics at work here. Kotaro was clearly the lowest man on the totem pole but, he impressed me. My favorite pairing was he & Kazato. Their junior offense was really entertaining. Go and Ishikawa were the destroyers so, it gave the bout a sense of urgency whenever the heavyweights were in with the juniors. Highly recommended match.   I had a few other under the radar recommendations/reviews for Kotaro in a notebook but, its lost in the boxes of junk from my last move. Kotaro became a freelancer after AJPW and was in Wrestle-1 where he had a really awesome title match at the beginning of 2016 (03/13/16) with Minoru Tanaka. Then, another good match with AKIRA in June 2016. I believe he was then doing a lot of work with Zero-1 and is regularly working for AJPW again according to Cagematch. Looks like some really fun stuff went down in the later part of 2017 so, hopefully I'll be able to track some down and share my take on it in the coming weeks.

G. Badger

G. Badger

Assorted AJPW from the 1970's

I love wrestling from the 70's. Its got that actual sense that the guys are engaged in a grappling contest. That the contestants are actual wrestlers. Well, in most cases. You've got Abdullah the Butcher forking people but, even then, it feels real...or real enough. Here are a couple of my favorites from AJPW in the 1970's:   Destroyer vs Abdullah the Butcher - US Title (04/27/74): Put this match behind watching a Dory & Jack Brisco match and you can see why Abby & the Sheik were so feared. It really looks as if they're trying to kill their opponents. I don't know how early of an appearance in Japan this is for Abby but, he makes the Destroyer bleed through his mask! Just tons of blood here and Destroyer brings some excitement with moves too. A basic match but really fun. Recommended Match.   Pat O'Connor vs Dick Murdoch (12/15/75): This bout was a really fun match that could be replicated on TV if any of the companies knew anything about good wrestling. Pat and Dick are legends for a reason and this is how one does "comedy wrestling! The emphasis has got to be on the wrestling!   Jumbo Tsuruta vs Billy Robinson (3/11/77): A 2 out of 3 falls match. The first fall was edited down as the time shown on the fall was 34+ minutes but that is not what was televised. So, much of the surely excellent mat action was omitted in the favor of more pro-wrestling. It was great stuff nonetheless. There was tons of heat and drama built and the 2nd and 3rd falls kept up. Parity was prominent more than in their 3-5-77 match. The 3rd fall then became quite desperate and physically punishing. Each man could feel how close victory was. Again both were excellent in timing, execution, and selling. A fantastic match! A Classic!

G. Badger

G. Badger

AJPW & NOAH Matches You Might Have Missed

I'm a big giant fan of tag team wrestling. I'd say that I prefer tag and 6-man matches over singles competition. All Japan and NOAH are more known for their epic title matches but, have always had great team wrestling. I don't think that's a surprising statement however, there are others worth enjoying besides the classics. Here are some that I've enjoyed:   Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs Stan Hansen & Joel Deaton (06/03/93 AJPW): Although it was only 6 minutes & 47 seconds this match was all action. It was rather one sided though, as Gordy ambushed Hansen and the Miracle Violence Connection double teamed the whole time like it was a Tornado Tag match (maybe it was). Deaton tried his best to save Hansen but he was no match for Gordy & Dr. Death. There was no pacing or a match just a display of violence and Hansen's toughness.   Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97 AJPW): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. Hes British so, that probably explains a lot ??? It was different, in a good way, and helped slow down Akiyama, who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasnt going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boys arm out of the socket. Thats alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, thats 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, Asako are the ones 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. This the type of match Id love to see at night right before going to bed when I was in high school. I'd be so hyped that couldn't sleep. I'd go through the match in my head and marvelling in how much fun it was and how awesome wrestling can be. I highly recommend finding this match to watch.   Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Gedo & Jado (12/07/02 NOAH): Oh those bastards. Team NO RESPECT!!! Jado & Gedo are some nasty looking dudes. Go back and watch the match they had as Coolie and Bulldog from the 8/19/90 AJW show and scratch your brain. Ok so what happened!? FMW, WAR and all those other mid-90s Indy promotions turned these guys evil! Haha I have not a clue what Im talking about! So the match is kinda like NOAH style American wrestling. It was a ton of fun with Gedo and Jado heeling it up in all those fun US ways. This is stuff that we lost in the 90s as the brawler was phased out of mainstream puroresu because that stuff was left to "garbage" wrestling. Then the hardcore companies gave up quality brawling en lieu of mindless punching in between insane spots. So, Jado and Gedo are a call back to that good stuff from the 70s-80s. And god knows Kikuchi is all for that. Still this is 2002 wrestling so, theres some nice moves from both teams as well. Its a different match especially from this time in wrestling and its damn good!   Takayama & Sano vs Misawa & Rikio (11/01/03 NOAH): People have given Rikio a bad reputation. He's not an all time legend but, he's a big dude that bowls people over and throws a mean clothesline. I cannot hate a guy that stays true to who he is. When tagging, especially with a ring deity like Mr. Green Jeans, he can be downright great! Such is the case with this bout. Stiff elbows, kicks, and knees, oh my! UWFi team vs NOAH could have been an amazing feud if only the stars aligned. Takayama and Sano are such a tough meat and potatoes type team. I always try to watch their matches when available. So, I recommend checking this one out.   Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Takeshi Morishima, KENTA & Mohammed Yone (02/17/06 NOAH) Oh sweet Jeebus this match was all kinds of fun. In the beginning, Yone seemed to collapse the excitement when he was in ring...the same with Honda & Kanemaru too for that matter. So, when things start to percolate, it just sneaks up on ya and turns into K-Hall pandemonium. It was as if the Funks with Jumbo were fighting Abby, the Sheik and Brody (fantasy dream match anyone?). I never thought that theyd get back in the ring! The highlight and focus was KENTA vs Kobashi, they brought Budokan level stiffness for sure. Oh my goodness this was brutal. Eventually, Honda and Kanemaru were getting hot and Morishima was pure ruler here too. I mean, Morishima vs Kobashi seemed just as great. If they could have generated that excitement in the slow parts in the beginning, this would have been one of those secret Korakuen klassics. Nevertheless, it is a great match and one where Kobashi is clearly the New Mr. Puro!...as of 2006, at least

G. Badger

G. Badger

Mixed Up Monday: JWP, Michinoku Pro, W*ING

W*ING 05/09/93 show: Mr. Pogo vs Matsunaga in a Barbwire bat Texas Death match. This is clipped a little but not so much where its jumping around in the match too much. Its exactly what I was looking for with the action. Both guys are bleeding and taking to the bat like champs. Pretty sure Mr. Danger gets hit in the throat. Great finish too! PLUS Headhunters vs Miguel Perez Jr. & Yukihiro (Wing) Kanemura -Barbwire Cage match. I was hyped that I found this. Perez Jr. is a guy that I've become a fan of through W*ING. This match was fantastic with everyone tasting the wire, guys going off the top rope & cage etc. The fact that it was a non escape match was a plus. May have had some clipping (a constant with W*ING & IWA) but nothing offensive. A great death match, heck a great match in general.   Great Sasuke vs Dos Caras (Michinoku Pro Mask League 08/25/95): A nice slow building match with exciting matwork built into false finish teases & hellish moves...Sasuke did his awesome flying offense and Caras powerbombed Sasuke 3 times that would make Vader wince.   Devil Masami & Plum Mariko vs Chigusa Nagayo & Cutie Suzuki (JWP Thunder Queen Battle 11/18/93): Cuty is pretty crumby in general but she played her role here as did Plum who is a bit better than Cuty as she actually understands ring positioning, taking bumps properly etc. But let's be honest this is all about Devil & Chigusa and it did not disappoint. There was a real strong focus on submissions and it really seemed any of the later ones could have done it for both women. Chiggy & Devil show why they are wrestling heroes...especially when the Crush Gal almost got murdered with powerbombs & suplexes. She legitimately looked F'ed Up at the end. This is really cool considering I'm using their classic match from '85 as my primer for this one! A lost joshi classic.

G. Badger

G. Badger

The 2010's: An Ongoing Project

I am not one to try and keep up with current wrestling- stateside or internationally. I am curious though and will try and watch stuff that's really hyped. The emphasis is on "try."   The new stuff ends up getting pushed aside by some older match or feud that seems way more interesting or less involved. New or current stuff kinda forces the viewers to keep up in order to get the most enjoyment out of it especially if I want to discuss it here on PWO. I just don't have the time to spend on trying to learn all of the "new" people and their back stories and angles they're working. I'm talking specifically about the US wrestling behemoth who entertains the world.   Its a bit easier to pop my head into the NJPW fish tank since I'm somewhat familiar with their roster. I watched a couple matches from this year's Wrestle Kingdom as well as a couple Omega matches from 2017. I like him. He's fun, he's goofy but, can get serious. I like to think of him as The Joker... more Nicholson than Heath.   I like that NJ has a relationship with ROH as well. This gives me a good chance to see some Japanese stars here in the States but, it freshens ROH up as well. This is something I've liked about TNA in the past. I loved the X international tournament that had DG's Speed Muscle and Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero in it. I got tired of the tired old WCW revival crap. I digress...   "Current" for me is 2015...maybe 2016. That's pushing it. I'm watching stuff from 2011 and it seems pretty damn modern. I guess watching matches from the 70's then matches from a few years ago days MAY mix my brain up. What I'm getting at is that I'm trying (again emphasis on "trying") to get a little more current with my viewing. Its a project of mine for 2018. Watch more stuff from the 2010's...which is crazy since the decade is winding down!   I've got a list of a bunch of unwatched matches I want to cover but, in the meantime, here are some recent favorites:   Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA & Takao Omori (07/28/13 AJPW 2/3 falls match) Wow...wow! This was like watching my first Shamu show at Sea World- I'm amazed and changed as a person. Here we have one of the few reminents from Muto AJPW, ace SUWAMA and a cast off from Misawa's AJPW exodus in Omori up against NOAH's ace and Kobashi/Misawa pupil Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama. Let's all remember that Akiyama is former tag partners, champs and friends with Omori. Akiyama got to ride the NOAH wave in the 2000's while Omori was surfing relatively low tide in Zero-1 and washed up back in AJPW like driftwood. This was a battle for a lot. Omori had remade himself in partnership with Manabu Soya however. He was not someone to be kicked around anymore. This was Omori's home, AJPW had been through alot in that time and SUWAMA had been there and is still there. This isn't just his home, it's his kingdom. He had outlasted them all. Akiyama wants back in? Akiyama had been gone for 13 years. Ok that's fine but he has to earn it. Shiozaki on the other hand has no place in AJ. He's an outsider through and through. This was a battle.   A beautifully long match that harkened back to the classics of AJPW '92-'96. The grappling, striking, layout and pacing were conservative. Therfore, the contest was more organic in its story progression and the escalation of aggression. The 2/3 falls usage was brillant and perhaps is what made it so damn good. It provided the wrestlers the framework to bring the level of excitement up and down, to be able to rest the fans energy only to build it back double fold. Classic Match. I had no idea that wrestling could be this good in the 2010's.   Kazushi Sakuraba vs Katsuyori Shibata (07/05/15 NJPW): I watched this on AXS TV originally and the subtitled lead in and post match helped give this match great context. It's Pupil vs Teacher, Anger vs Intelligence, Ace vs Legend- True Strong Style! So, if you see this match available to watch or have it on DVD -go into it with this mindset I felt the contest was a callback to the style of Gotch, Inoki, Fujinami, Fujiwara, Maeda, etc. This is a Classical Strong Style bout and not what NJ is calling strong style OR what people consider stiff chop exchanges to be. No, this was like an actual sporting contest like Mixed Martial Arts. The fact that Saku is a grappling god made the match seem that much more real. Shibata was game as hell too! It was emotional, electric, and intense. This was a classic match and a perfect example of true Strong Style in the 21st century.   Minoru Suzuki vs Hirooki Goto (01/04/18 NJPW): This had that big Dome match aura to it. Intense and violent from the get go and it did not let up. Never overstaying it's welcome, Goto & Suzuki put on a brilliant wager match.   I'm glad this only had one drawn out back and forth elbow exchange and that led to the story of the match. The NEVER belt stuff always seems to be what I'm looking for. I was hoping for something like this for the Jericho/Omega match but, I'm not sure they could have topped it. This felt like a Dome main event from the 90s or 2000s perhaps. Great match   Hoping to post new stuff every Tuesday for the 2010's!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Wacky Wednesday: Jd' & BJW

My first exposure to Japanese wrestling was through ECW. So, it made sense that once I could get my hands on real to life VHS tapes of the stuff, it was going to be hard core death match stuff. The first tape I got was the awesome yet, grainy as hell History of BJW death matches. This had all kinds of insane and yes, wacky stipulation/gimmick matches. The piranha and cactus & scorpion death match stuck out in terms of that "what the hell?" factor. To lose, you have to get dunked in a fish tank with the creatures...its fun in a stupid way. Love the stuff, puts a smile on my face. It's a really awesome niche in Japan's wrestling scene which I'm glad of. I've got a penchant for wrestling with odd rules, props, or people showing up and I'd like to share some every Wednesday.   The Bloody vs Megumi Yabushita (03/23/03 Metal Garage - TWF Title - Jd'): Both ladies start out on the top of cage hell in a cell style. The setup of their cell looks pretty good actually. Its grittier looking than the WWE version but, seems to have better support beams. What the hell am I talking about that for?   So, they pick up chairs then drop the chairs because they want to grapple, I suppose? Ok sure, why not? They then fight on the cage and this looks pretty good where I want to see more...which is a positive since I'm a minute into the match. The one woman almost falls off the top! Then the other climbs into a hole in the corner and looks to climb down a ladder to get in the ring. I believe she then climbs up an A-frame ladder to pull the TWF belt down. In the middle of this she gets middle drop kicked off said ladder. This was pretty cool! Then Clipping! We are now (well, they are...I'm on my couch) on top of the cage again. This time the ladder is up there with them. It is actually in a vertical position too. So picture a ladder onto of hell in a cell. Stuff happens including the ref almost getting knocked off the top! and someone wins. This was clipped down to 7+ minutes of wackiness. Thank you editors! I must assume that the rest of the match is crud if this is what was shown. Nonetheless, this was a trip.   Jaki Numazawa vs. Yuko Miyamoto (03/14/17 Iron Cage & Lighttubes Death Match - BJW): Oh! So there's light tubes in the iron cage! See I thought they had to put the guy in the cage to win the contest. This was shot from a fixed camera so, it wasn't clear. I get it now.   Regardless, there was a single person shark cage (?) in one corner and fluorescent tubes attached to the ropes where, of fucking course, the fans were seated. I suppose they wanted to be sprayed with glass! The thing is- the sides where there were no tubes, no one was sitting!!? If I got to the show and they told me "yes, seating is on these two sides" and then they started putting up fucking glass tubes 5 feet from where I'm sitting, I'm damn well moving to the empty seats. BJW can kiss my ass. Try to move me back! You'll get a death match you didn't expect! I don't like balloons for the same reason. Have some little twat kid pop one at a party and I'm blinded by latex bullet. I've wandered off course haven't I?   This was pretty fun and not too long at 7+ minutes in full. I enjoyed watching the seconds or young boys travel around the ring in a futile attempt to block flying glass from the fans at ringside.

G. Badger

G. Badger

SWS, WAR and Tenryu in the 2000's

This past summer I took the time to learn about the SWS promotion in Japan. I also branched out from the non Tenryu matches of WAR. I was pleasantly surprised. I'd like to go back and revisit those two companies here in my blog. Plus, see what good old Tenryu was doing in the 2000's as a freelancer. Here are some oldies but goodies:   Ashura Hara, Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs. King Haku, Shinichi Nakano & Yoshiaki Yatsu (08/05/91 SWS): Fast paced and stiff as a starched shirt. Very reminiscent of the 6 mans in AJPW late 80s & '90 just with most punches to the face. Highly recommended.   Naoki Sano & Samson Fuyuki vs Tatsumi Kitahara & Tito Santana in Super World Sports also from 08/05/91. Joined 5 minutes in, I believe...this is an all-action bout. Everyone was working fast and with a purpose. Kitahara brought the stiffness with his blue and pink tights, Fuyuki was still fast, there were some sick piledrivers and, Sano & Tito were going non stop. The finishing segment was great with guys all over the place including a Sano tope that apparently erased Tito from this plane of existence. Highly recommended for fans of quick action tags.   WAR-FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF REVOLUTION show from 6/17/93. Haven't watched the Hash vs Tenryu match yet and opted for the less herald matches. (Still haven't!)   Hase vs Fuyuki is a great one which has some buzz but, I took a chance on Masashi Aoyagi vs Takashi Ishikawa and wow! Grumpy dudes beating each other up for 5 minutes, I'm game! So also checked out Koki Kitahara vs Masahiro Chono which was more like a mid 80s strong style match. More evenly fought despite Chono being in there, I dug it. Plus the Jr match of the card, Ultimo Dragon vs Norio Honaga. First Honaga match for me but, was impressed. He kept the craziness in check so when Dragon busted out the fancy shit it was meaningful and impressive... Still I thought Honaga's running neck breaker drops were the best move in the match. Looked like he decapitated Mr. Asai.   Highly recommended show and I haven't even seen the big Tenryu match yet. Its been a pleasant surprise. On paper, every one of the above matches had the potential to be a massive time vacuum but, were great in their own way.   Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi vs Toshiaki Kawada & Nobutaka Araya (06/30/01 AJPW): A very stiff yet frenetically paced match. I'm not sure that worked in these guys' favor...there never was too much of a simmering hate period. It was more warming up, face punch, lukewarm action, boiling potatoes, finish.   The issue is that it lacked an internal story of note. This was made worse by having poor pacing. I feel like T., F. & K. wanted to take it back to 89-90 and have a fast paced action match with a straight forward story and scrub the Kings Road escalation of violence style. Or in simple terms, make it more WAR and less NOAH.   It just didn't come off right. Moves weren't sold as they should be, drama wasn't built, and this was really counter to their objective. It was too simple...here we'll run around and hit each other.   It seemed like they were trying for a updated classic approach but, it needed refinement. (Akiyama led AJ [2013-2015] may be this style that K. & T. were going for here and in their other bouts around this time).   Nevertheless, it was pretty good and the stiff as a board shots were very respectable...for 15 minutes, its a good watch.

G. Badger

G. Badger

Sign in to follow this  
×