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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

Ring of Honor - Stars of Honor DVD

I wonder how many people got into Ring of Honor through through the mass market Koch DVD releases. I know I count myself as one of those folks. I picked up their "Best in the World" release (not to be confused the 2006 Milestone Series show) and knew that this was a company I should check out. For whatever reason, I stopped there and did not get the three other Koch releases. Now like much of ROH's past releases these are out of production and are pretty desirable themselves. They do a pretty good job of compiling ROH's golden years of 2004-2007 and because they were mass produced, they are a little bit easier to come by than the show DVDs. You might actually find these at a cd/game exchange type store too! Although don't hold your breath. But really, why didn't I purchase the other DVDs? I think I was super eager to get my paws on anything puro and the 'other three' didn't feature Japanese talent. I've eventually come in to possession of these compilations and want to let you know (over a decade later) if you should check these out. The first one I'm going to review is the final one I bought. That is 'Stars of Honor.' As someone who's not a big fan of WWE style stuff, it makes sense why I put this one off. There are two Matt Hardy matches, a Christian match, and an MVP match. But! There is also guys like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Spanky Kendrick, and Jay Lethal. So, I got it I watched these in order of least to most interested. Let's take a look! Homicide vs Antonio Banks (MVP): This match took place 02/19/05 and is for the FIP Heavyweight title in Elizabeth, NJ. However, that doesn't make sense since 02/19 was the Second Anniversary show Night #1 and 'cide faced Danielson in a Taped Fist Match. I had to research this a little bit and this was probably a dark match and was not shown on the ROH DVD. I'm guessing it was added as an extra on a FIP or ROH show that needed some padding. Why they added this here is beyond me. I never though MVP was a big star back in 2008 when this was released. No disrespect to him but, the gimmick was goofy as hell. He looks way better here versus The Notorious One. This was a fun match with Banks powering the champ around. Matt Hardy vs Homicide  (Redemption 2005) - Matt Hardy had already been resigned to WWE but, wanted to fulfill his commitment to ROH during what would become the "Summer of Punk." Hardy's three show participation had to have some effect in getting more butts in the seats. He wasn't a welcome addition to the roster as the fans, much like ECW's, were very hostile toward big company outsiders. I belive Jeff made an appearance earlier and that did not go as well despite Jeff's style being much more conducive to the ROH style. Matt Hardy wanted to prove he was a top wrestler especially with James Gibson/Noble doing the same in '05.  Gibson was never given the limelight like the Hardys and many felt by this point in time they were company men. What better opponent for Matt to face than the no nonsense Homicide? That being said, everyone wanted deep down for Matt to do well because he and Jeff had been instrumental in introducing the high risk action of a new generation to WWF. So, it was a 'we hate this guy! (I hope he does well!' sentiment. I was really impressed as they punched and slammed each other all over the place. Homicide can take a beating but, kudos to Hardy for taking a king-sized lariat. Some might not love the finish but, it was smart and it worked! Very good stuff! Roderick Strong vs Matt Hardy (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005): We're going to come back to this show later. ROH has two matches from two shows on this compilation which is pretty weird since it sorta discourages a person from getting those actual DVDs. Anyhow, this is Matt's final appearance and has one final opponent in Roderick Strong. At this point, people were happy to see Hardy but, since it was known he was jumping ship back to WWE, they wanted to see him get destroyed. I think there was no better person than Roderick. And you better believe me & the fans get what we want. This was a great match where Roddy almost kills Matt with a back breaker combo. I mean I lost it when he hit it! That flurry should have been the finish IMO! Things are picking up! Christian Cage vs Christopher Daniels (Generation Now 2006): The second of I believe Christian's 2 ROH shows. I think this was sort of a warm up before he went to TNA. And that's kind of what this match is with Daniels. It never goes into 4th gear but, is very good. Christian isn't one of my faves but, I can't fault them putting this on the DVD. Spanky (Kendrick) vs Bryan Danielson (Best of the American Super Jrs. 2005): For as awesome as 2005 ROH was there was still goofy stuff like this show where Kendo -freaking- Kashin wins a tournament with Danielson, Rocky Romero, Kendrick, Roderick Strong, James Gibson, and more participating! To top it off Kashin dogged it and didn't even wrestle under his own gimmick AND this tournament was supposed to grant the winner a spot in the 2005 BOSJ in NJPW...but that never happened! SO, there was no point in even having the tournament let alone letting Kashin win. That show did produce some really notable matches. This being the first. Many have described this as the BEST opening match in ROH history. I don't know about that but, this was in no way wrestled like a tourney match. Danielson was brutal in grinding Kendrick down but, Spanky would not quit. Great match James Gibson vs Roderick Strong (same show): Strong manhandles Gibson and Jamie is selling the heck outta it. Lotta great mat action here. They leave stuff on the table here but, there is a rematch at the Unforgettable 2005 show which I might have to snag. Very good match. Also may have to find their Full Impact Pro matches too. Now I'm going to say the selling point of this DVD for most (including me) is Joe vs Punk III at All Star Extravaganza 2. Per my guidelines above, I would leave that match last. However, I find that is is not THE BEST bout on this compilation in my view. So, let's take a look now and then get on to the final  and best match. Samoa Joe vs CM Punk (All Star Extravaganza 2  2004): I've seen Joe vs Punk II and loved that match. It is a classic in my book. This match is not a classic though. The story of it did not connect with me as strongly. The layout of this did not strike me as much. There are some execution issues that while not egregious do take me out of the moment. All that said, this is a great match. **** stuff to me but, I am in the minority. I have not seen their first match at World Title Classic. I think I might want to. Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter): This is the best match on this DVD and the one I probably knew the least about...other than people recommending it. This is the 3rd Homicide match, the 2nd Joe match, and the second match from Punk's last ROH show. Its an odd inclusion for those reasons. Was it trying to recognize Low-Ki and Lethal? Lethal was building but, Ki was Senshi at this time which was just weird (which would get weirder). I don't care at the end of the day though. This was a WAR! Ki & Homicide are heeling in the worst way and Lethal is the little brother to the juggernaut that is Samoa Joe. This is like an updated version of The Funks vs Abby & The Sheik or the best ECW brawls. There's blood, chair throwing, crowd fighting, and more. This was a classic fight to me. There's an 80's finish but, I mean that in the very best of ways. That bell don't mean a thing. This is the Samoe Joe you wanna see, this is the Homicide you wanna see, Baby Jay Lethal learning how to be a champ in this match. Yup, this is a classic. Get this puppy used online and I'm sure you'll be happy. Its a weird pick of matches and talent especially with the benefit of hindsight. 2 Matt Hardy matches, an MVP dark match, and three Homicide matches seems like they were piecing this one together at the end. I would have preferred a 2nd Gibson match or a Paul London or an AJ Styles match instead. I think they were really focused on the Best Buy or Amazon customer snagging this and seeing those WWE names and going "Yeah why not!" With that in mind, they probably should have put another Punk match on there if they wanted to have 2 Joe matches. But, I'm Monday morning quarterbacking something from 12 years ago You get two very good-great Roderick Strong matches from his break-out year, you get two great-classic Samoa Joe matches, you get a great Bryan Danielson match from a show you probably don't want to track down...so it's a no brainer if you can get this under $10. If you look at this as a show DVD, there's a ****1/2+ match and 3 **** matches. That's a must buy in my book. I've got Bloodstained Honor (terrible title) and Greatest Rivalries to tackle in the next few weeks. Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Best of CM Punk vol. 2 - Rise of the New Dawn

Full Impact Pro DVD review for this week goes back to early 2005 and covers CM Punk. Duh right?  Its a really good DVD, lets just say that from the start. The big reason why I say that is because it includes matches, promos, and run-ins that feature Punk. So its really easy to get sucked into the story line. Punkster is basically public enemy #1 by feuding with FIP champ Homicide and getting up in James Gibson's and Bryan Danielson's business. Azrieal who was a member of Special K, the raver group in ROH, is his toady and features in some of the early matches. Anyhow, enough explanation. First match is against Antonio Banks and its a fun match. Banks is MVP by the way. Next we gets Azrieal vs James Gibson which gets good after it gets going. This sets up the main event tag match. CM Punk & Azrieal vs Homicide and James Gibson (Unfinished Business 2005) - This is an Anything Goes Match. Punk doesn't want this. He wants a regular match because he's a chicken shit heel. It takes a minute to get going but then, its good in- ring action. Eventually, the fans get we want and the fighting goes to the outside...literally. They're in the gravel parking lot duking it out. And when they get back inside they end really strong. Very good match!  CM Punk vs Puma (New Dawn Rising 2005) - Puma is TJP early in his career. This is a fun match but, nothing awesome. CM Punk vs Bryan Danielson (Dangerous Intentions 2005) - Great match. Punk loves working the crowd early on in FIP. There's like 20-30 fans at these shows so, good on him for engaging the crowd and getting some good heat. The fans in the audience love hating on him Anyhow, this was an intense match and the best bout thus far. Danielson always brings it and Punk is game. This is a long match in a good way. We get a cheap win but, it doesn't sour my opinion of the fight. And it works out...you'll have to get the DVD to see what I mean. CM Punk vs James Gibson (With Malice 2005) -  Man, it seems like Punk is really turning it on now. I think he already knew he was leaving the Indies and wanted to put on great matches with everyone. I think FIP at this point in time was a place for their talent to work with each other to gain experience and chemistry in front of small but vocal crowds. Then they could bring their dialed in matches to ROH. I really think that is the case with Gibson. If you're a fan of his in ROH but wish there was more available then, check these early FIP shows. He and Punk have a great match. A similar ending as in the Danielson match. It works out and sends the fans home happy. It sets up the next show's big match of Punk vs Danielson 2/3 falls!! And...its not on this DVD. Bummer...I really want to track it down on eBay as its supposed to be pretty awesome. Overall, this is a very good DVD and its $5 on Highspots. Its totally worth buying if you're jonesing for vintage Punk.  Here's the video trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1nMMjZO_kJw Thanks for reading!

G. Badger

G. Badger

AJPW You Might Have Missed - Late 1989

Man, it has been awhile since I've covered some straight up Japanese wrestling. That's a sin or something for a wrestling blog with "puro" in the title. I guess I've been covering the "plus more" stuff for a couple months. Anyhow, let's get in our time machines and go back to late 1989 All Japan Pro Wrestling for some good stuff. British Bulldogs & Kenta Kobashi vs Furnas, Kroffat & Masa Fuchi (11/19) - You'd better believe this is in Korakeun Hall! Dynamite is still physically able to go. Kroffat is doing kicks & kip-ups. Davey and Doug Furnas get in a strong man battle. Fuchi is still tough and mean. Kobashi is great right outta the gate. This match has got all of the 'wow!' moments along with some blood. Watch for that exploding guardrail too! Impressive finish on top of all that - Great match! Terry Gordy & Bill Irwin vs Stan Hansen & Tenryu (11/19): So, I've dropped us in the '89 Real World Tag League for better or worse. I say worse because there's usually some good stories running here but, if I try to do that I'm just going to be intimidated to watch this stuff. Like "Ok I have to plan to watch this DVD on this date then, watch these two this week, what if I take a break?" I digress...this match is the perfect reason to just drop right in. Four bruisers chopping and elbowing each other like they mean it. You can't beat it! This was fast paced as you can get for these dudes and there's not a thing to hate on. Very good match that's scratching a greatness to me. British Bulldogs vs Jumbo & Yoshiaki Yatsu (11/25): Tag League match. Yatsu has headgear and that was of course a target for the Brits. It was good but, had a little too much stomping & headbutts to be awesome. Still, its neat to see all 4 in the ring. Abdullah the Butcher & Tiger Jeet Singh vs Hansen & Tenryu (11/25): Tag League match. Ah yes, I love these matches. Maybe its because my dad is a Abby fan or that I came into my fandom watching ECW but, this was very good stuff. Fighting in the crowd, bleeding, yeah I mean this was very enjoyable to me. Plus we get a pinfall win! British Bulldogs & Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada, Samson Fuyuki & Yoshinari Ogawa (12/04): Perhaps the first match I've seen of Ogawa wrestling for Revolution. Catch us if you can! I think that was their slogan Anyhow, this was a great 13-14 minute match much like the Can-Am & Fuchi one. Dynamite puts together a half dozen moves tags out to let Davey do the heavy lifting (literally) and Kobashi takes Tom's role in bumping & diving off stuff. I've seen better Footloose matches (Kawada & Fuyuki) but, they are still great here. This was a blast! This was a super easy AJPW Classics DVD to watch. Nothing was a classic but, it was really enjoyable to see the same few guys wrestle. Plus there was a variety of styles. A brawl, a slobber knocker, two 6 man work-rate matches, and a solid story tag bout made this never boring. Now, there were 2 Nasty Boys RWTL matches but, I skipped those. I saw little bits but, eh I only have so much time & energy. If you love Knobbs & Skaggs then you've got to look forward to seeing. I want to finish off 2020 with a few more puro matches or shows before my year end stuff. So, hopefully I can get that in as well as written up. Work has been CRAZY! So, we'll see about that. I do have a couple DVDs in mind so I'm hoping I can get those in along with another FIP show or two. Thanks for reading everyone! Be safe!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Spotlight: AJW 09/02/95 Destiny

A buddy of mine who's sorta-kinda into wrestling still texted me and asked if I'd ever heard if Ring of Honor. Uh...yeah, I have. Then he told me he was watching the women's wrestling and commented on how good it was. I then remembered enjoying the heck out of their tournament to crown the first WOH Champion.   Read more here:    But, it got me thinking that I haven't watched any women's wrestling since. I've got a back log of DVDs that I really ought to watch considering I've already paid for them AND probably shouldn't spend more time match surfing on the 'tube. I know I totally missed out on a clever surfing pun there but, damn it all! I want to make a post about AJW Joshi and not talk about getting tubular!!   There was a time where I watched Joshi equal to or perhaps more than men's wrestling. And good reason! Somewhere along the line it kinda lost me. Or I think that I burnt myself out on it. Anyhow, I want to share one of my favorite AJW shows by presenting the original full 3 disc review of 09/02/95. General formatting is lifted from Quebrada.net where I purchased it. He's got everything if you're interested in getting into the best women's wrestling ever plus pretty thorough reviews too!   Anyhow...   AJW DESTINY Commercial Tape (09/02/95): There's a long convention, meet & greet segment at the start that I watched when I first got the tape. It's interesting to see the lady's personality's come out in the interviews. I really remember Hokuto, Toyota, Bull & Kyoko.   Zenjo Up To Type II: Misae Watanabe & Naomi Kato vs. Yoshika Tamura & Yuka Shiina: Have never heard of any of these girls. Typical dropkick & scoop slam fare I assume...I skipped it.   Midget Puroresu Gabyo (thumbtack) Match: Tiger Jeetmezucito vs. Buddha Nakamaki Hiroshi: It was pretty funny but soon dragged on. I think Bas Rutten & some other white guy (some fighter presumably) played a part of it out in the stands. Didn't see them the next match or in the later ones...so I guess they were compensated & aren't generally interested in Joshi.   Vacant AJ Tag Titles: Chaparita ASARI & Kumiko Maekawa vs. Rie Tamada & Yumi Fukawa: This was actually pretty good stuff here as they've been wrestling one another for the better part of the year. Both teams were very good on execution. Of course there were slip ups and whatnot but this was a pretty fun undercard tag match. Little Chaparita bites off too much sometimes but, hits a wicked Cancun Tornado...first time I've seen that done other than on video games. ***1/2   Toshiyo Yamada & Takako Inoue & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Blizzard YUKI & Mariko Yoshida & Kaoru Ito: Holy shit this was a hot 6-woman tag! Each woman was performing her best but, I'll go on record to say I'm the biggest Takako detractor. *Note: Spoiler plus my Takako Inoue Rant begins here.* She does not know a damn thing about psychology or appearing to care about the match. Why she's in wrestling I have no clue! In the middle of the match, before the fantastic sequences, saves, nearfalls etc. she took Blizzard YUKI (S. Hasegawa w/ a mask) and chokeslams her off the apron! No rhyme or reason- of course with 1/3rd of the match to go Yuki can't really sell it or the match sorta dissolves. So Takako puts a mid-carder in the position where she has to no-sell the chokeslam off the apron, as big a fucking move as I can think of! I mean it wasn't executed with the force or vigor of Taue's but, there was no lead-in, no tease, no drama, just 'I got her on the apron & I'm going to slam her to the floor.' It boggles the mind! I mean she used almost every big move she has...It's a fucking 6-man match if anything you, who is not doing the pinning, should NOT use your big moves except the one everyone always kicks out of like the tombstone or regular "chokeslam" to build tension.   She's the biggest downside of the match and every-match I've ever seen her in. Thank the stars that Yamada was on Watanabe's team because she really helped hold it together since Watanabe's offense is nothing too credible. I'm going on about the negatives because this was very, very close to being a ****1/2 match...maybe ****1/4+ to be conservative but, Takako just doesn't know what the hell she's doing...she reminds me of the one girl from "The Beautiful People" stable in TNA...she skips around the ring & keeps her hands close to her body...just poor body language (doesn't commit/want to get hurt) & no concept of psychology. She did one of her big moves & followed up with a stomp to the head! Not a pin attempt, not a hold (god forbid!), or a tag out to double team. She didn't really kill this match, it's the fucking proof I needed for my claim that she sunk the 8/30 Tag Match...she is a fucking match anchor! I don't care how alabaster her skin is, how nice her cheekbones & cute little nose are...Gimme acne'd Ito stompin' skulls anyday.****1/4 End of Disc 1   UWA World Women's Tag Titles: Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs. Jaguar Yokota & Lioness Asuka: This is a dream match to me & it did not disappoint. Everyone was doing what it takes to have a great match- quick movement, on point execution, intensity, saves, double teams, near falls, etc. It was really fantastic & evident that they were only biting off as much as they could chew to preserve the quality of the match. Jaguar redeemed herself here (from a past match) and was excellent especially with her facial expressions, as were the LCO. Lioness & Mita provided the base for the 2 flashier fighters to work off of. It was a really great balance. This is just how tag team fans like myself like it. ****1/2   THE DESTINY STRONGEST: Yumiko Hotta vs. Reggie Bennett: A very, very good match between Hotta & Bennett. Once again, they worked within their limitations and accentuate their strengths. Both women were quite stiff with one another and the spots were simple but effective. Both are very good opponents for one another and really showed their strongest-ness ...I think that's what they were getting at all along. ****+   THE DESTINY BEASTY: Aja Kong vs. Bison Kimura: Just an old-school, knock-down, drag out fight. I never thought Bison was going to win. She really should have hit Aja with some more weapons and had a couple more credible moves. The Blazing Chop is nice but, in 1995 it's not that good of a finisher. Still, it was a very good, bloody fight. **** End of Disc 2   THE DESTINY MEGA-POWER: Kyoko Inoue vs. Bull Nakano: Kyoko is a bit all over the place with her psychology but Bull compensated by destroying her. It wasn't as awesome as their 3/26/95 classic but still was very good. The audience really sucked though, which hurt the aura...so maybe it would be better with the sound off. I didn't care for the finish but, it made sense... So there you go. ****1/4 possibly   THE DESTINY CLIMAX: Manami Toyota vs. Akira Hokuto: I watched this first. The reason I skipped ahead to this match was because I was disappointed so much with the Queen's Holy Night main event. I wanted to see if this really was as good as advertised. And it was. It was not the Toyota style of run around and do 5 moves in the time you should be doing 3. It was Hokuto's style of hard hits, insane dives, and head drops. In the end, it was more like a deathmatch than anything else. Just brutal throughout. Both women were injured & was difficult to watch at times. *(There is a spoiler at the end so skipthe rest of the paragraph now)* I could give this ****3/4 but when I look at Jumbo/Tenryu 6/5/89 & this, I realized this match is not only comparable in psychology but an advancement of that style. The match was more about maiming you opponent more than pinning them. Toyota practically had to kill Hokuto to beat her & Hokuto practically killed herself in order to destroy Toyota. *****   Overall this was a great wrestling show. I would have liked the Destiny matches to be a little more than they were but it's better that they didn't upstage the main event & that the main event delivered which couldn't be said for Queen's Holy Night or Wrestling Queendom Victory (2 other notable 1995 AJW super shows). In those two the other top matches upstaged the lackluster finals.   If you think that you wanna see this stuff, I highly recommend that you do! With women's wrestling gaining popularity due to the talent in WWE, ROH, Japan, the Indies, etc., you really should check out the masters. In 2018, no one really discusses this anymore but, give it a shot and know your history! And if you already know then, maybe go back and revisit it. I've been pretty engrossed with 2010's stuff that I think I'm due for a trip back in time myself

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Heatstroke 2005 Night 2

Back with FIP Friday after a week off! Here we have Night #2 of the inaugural edition of Heatstroke in Bushnell, FL. I'm cherry picking matches so, this isn't a full show review. And yeah Night 1 didn't interest me as much so, let's roll! Samoa Joe vs Ace Steel - My opening match and its really odd to have Joe being in this position in 2005 or really any year but, he and Ace have a good match with lotsa nice action. It set the tone pretty well for the show. The static camera angle is from around the entrance way and although it catches the crowd and the apron, does seem far away. Plus the lighting here is not that hot. The venue is more typical of an indy show than a a bar or some of the other weird places we saw back on the Best of CM Punk vol. 2 DVD. So, FIP is growing Adam Pearce vs Azrieal - Azrieal is no longer with Punk as the New Dawn sold out. So, Pearce (representing DP Assoc.) is going to teach him a lesson. I forgot what a hard chopper Adam Pearce was! This was a good match. Nothing terribly memorable other than Az not having enough room to stand on the top turnbuckle since the ceiling was so low! (see the tag match above) "Fast" Eddie Vegas & Jimmy Rave vs Spanky & Sal Rinauro - Vegas and Rave are Dave Prazak goons are are the FIP tag champs. Sal is Spanky Kendrick's protege and they're fighting for the belts. To me this is the match of the night. Rave and Vegas do such a good job being heels here along with Prazak. Now that's not an uncommon thing in FIP where those roles are much more defined than ROH. However, Sal & Spanky are just the most baby face team -  good looking, wearing pink & teal shorts, the kiddies are screaming for them etc. So, Rave & Vegas decide to work a traditional tag match where there's a face in peril and they gotta make that hot tag. What makes this really tops is that both teams wrestle this like they're at an ROH show with many of their big moves. Hell, they even dislodge some ceiling panels on a move! This is a great match for sure. Homicide vs Tony Mamaluke - The chick in the front row is Tony's girlfriend is pretty funny throughout this match and really all of the matches to some extent. 'Cide jaw jacks with her a little bit which is good for a chuckle. I thought this was a good match and very good at times but, it just didn't keep the excitement level up for me. At these small shows, where it is poorly lit and the camera angles aren't the best mat grappling just doesn't have the same in impact. It really just looks like laying around. When they do switch to the close up camera (as opposed to the far away one also at floor level) you can appreciate the action but, for some reason they use the far away one for a good deal of the match. There are some really good parts though so perhaps you'll like it more than I did. DP Associates attack Homicide afterwards and some good guys make the save including Roderick Strong which leads to the main event... CM Punk vs Roderick Strong - This was a great match with really solid and well executed pro wrestling. Punk was on his tour out of FIP (and ROH) and each show was going to be his last. This night he faced Roderick Strong who was having a breakout year. This match was no exception but, a bit different from his ROH matches in that he wasn't necessarily destroying Punk with chops and backbreakers. In fact, there were 0 backbreakers. And I kinda take that back regarding chops...there were some pretty mean chops here. Punk was able to control Roderick with abdominal stretches, chin locks and sleepers. He knew the Florida native as very explosive and he needed to tire him down. Strong would get breaks but, was quickly cut off by Punk or the meddling head of DP Associates Dave Prazak (Prazak had bought out Punk's New Dawn stable). When Roddy was able to get an opening though he would explode with chops, running elbows and kicks and everything else you want from him (except his trademark breakers). The fans were really loving this match and we get a Punk moon sighting which was pretty funny. I would have liked a 100% clean finish but, under the circumstances it totally works and keeps the breakout 2005 for Strong still going. Don't go in expecting classic ROH style but, both guys really can work a great wrestling match without hitting every big move and tons of false finishes. This was a really good show and very enjoyable. I cherry picked the matches I wanted to see most so, if you're interested in buying this DVD there's more in store for ya. I think this is the last CM Punk in FIP show that I have so in a way this is his final match to me. Here and with all of his matches I've seen, he was a true professional wrestler meant for the big time. Not only did he know what to do in the ring but, he knew what to do with the fans. Also, I'm a Jimmy Rave fan from a lot of the 2005 ROH I have and man that tag match is another feather in his cap. What an interesting heel wrestler here and there. He really is a talent where the sum is greater than the parts. I dunno...I'm rambling. But if you're interested in this era of ROH, I would consider picking this DVD up. Its $5 on Highspots and is definitely worth the money if you're still buying DVDs like me

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - ROH TV thoughts

I don't want to do a week by week review of Ring of Honor TV. Although it did help keep my blogging on track, I just don't want focus too much on ROH. And besides when do I end it? OK I've said that and so now I no problem doing a "once in awhile" catch up with ROH TV. Anyone reading this maybe wondering why I don't look at WWE or AEW or Impact as well. What about the Indies? Yeah, that's another good reason I am not planning on covering ROH TV on a regular basis. There's just so much new stuff out there and plenty of folks here on PWO do a great job of that already. ROH TV is my jam because #1 is free on TV and #2 I've been a Ring of Honor fan since 2007 or 08. But also because they still have really good no nonsense wrestling. It may not be as AWESOME as the mid 2000's stuff or even as good as it was a few years ago but, man! they are coming back. That's the reason I wanted to do this post. The Pure Title revival has been a success, and like I was hoping for, ROH has stuck more to this athletic focused wrestling. I gotta say I like it a lot better than the stuff when Cody was there. Sure you had the Elite guys who could fart out very good tag matches but, it was too corny for my tastes. Plus too many hi-jinks. That's been a couple years but, after they left and until now ROH seems like it has been searching for it's soul. The Pure Tournament seemed like they had found it again. I really hope they bring some of those guys back especially Yehi & Sydal. So, the weeks after Gresham won the belt have been just as good or even better. I'm acutally digging the Taven vs Vincent stuff despite my initial reservations. The return of Bennett and the introduction of Bateman into the feud seems like great hate filled tag team stuff with a potential for a Ladder War match. EC3 didn't light the world on fire with his stuff but, he's been keeping it interesting nonetheless. I'd like to see him wrestling in actual wrestling boots though. Brody King, who I was waiting to get pushed, has been getting pushed big time. His matches with Dalton Castle and Shane Taylor have been nothing short of great puro battles. Those two deserve a ton of credit too. Longer TV matches that very much would be PPV level bouts in my book. Shane Taylor had a very good match with Kenny King that also was PPV level. And the franchise Jay Lethal has been working his magic with LSG and Josh Woods. Both guys really were great in their fights with him in their Pure Rules bouts. I would have to say LSG's fight against Lethal was about as good any the best matches in the Pure Tournament. It was a great match for sure. As was today's match with Josh Woods. Man, Woods looks better and better with each match. If he can get his confidence up on his strikes (like confident he can go harder without KO-ing someone) then, he really is big star material. I'm just going to speculate on Final Battle 2020 and say that there's going to be a big shake-up with the belts. If they can get the Mexican wrestlers (or if its pre-taped "GOT" the Mexican wrestlers)...if they can get them for the show, I think they're dropping the titles. And if they can't get them there then, perhaps they will be forced to vacate? They have been sitting on the shelf for a pretty long time without being in an ROH ring or doing an ROH promo or TV show. SO, I'm not sure what value they'll be to Ring of Honor back in Mexico. Even Marty Scurll who's gone did a COVID lockdown Best Of show...but not the World Champion? I think Rush was a mis-step as he really didn't connect with the fans. I was excited early on but, again ROH was still soul searching. Getting bailed on by the AEW guys and muddying the relationship with NJPW really forced them to take a look in the mirror. Kinda like getting dumped or fired. Maybe you're more familiar with all of the dirt and inside baseball than me. Maybe I'm off the mark or missing some details but, the way I see it is ROH wants to get back to its roots. That's not a gimmick. Its been shown in the fantastic TV shows they've been having since they started back up. If its not your cup of tea then, that's OK. I really don't have much contemporary wrestling to compare it to than Smackdown and Impact. Both of which I watch sporadically...I usually forget they're on and then miss like 75% of the show. I saw the Bryan vs Zayn match from the other night and that was the only thing that held a candle to what ROH is doing. Even then there was a load of crap I had to wade through to get to it. And that Thunderdome BS hurts my eyes. Impact which is the most analogous show really needs to be trimmed to 1 hour. But I'm watching that on Twitch...so I think ROH knows they're doing OK in comparison. So, again ROH TV might not be your thing but, I think it fares pretty darn well in comparison to its closest competitors. Its not as flashy but, perhaps that's why I like it so much. I'm a fan of puroresu especially older stuff. I favor the simple production, the intense battles, and no nonsense stories. I feel like ROH has been delivering on that and am a happy fan. Thanks for reading! Stay safe and be kind P.S. There will be more puro reviews coming up! Its been awhile but, I'm sure of it! Plus my 2020 Best Match Watched round up is around the corner.  

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - The Big List

I would have loved to been able to get a new FIP show watched this week. My job in online retail has been absolute bonkers though. It is usually pretty bad just because its the holiday season. This year has been especially rough due to the pandemic. I thought maybe people would be chill since folks have been home and able to online shop probably more now than ever. So perhaps they shopped early...I don't know what I was thinking! Hahaha maybe it was wishful thinking. Anyhow, I wasn't able to watch more Full Impact Pro this week but, I've assembled my watch list for the remaining DVDs. I snagged a new on during Highspots Black Friday sale. I was supposed to get a second one but, it was sold out and I got a refund. Bummer but, it was one I was on the fence about so, I'm not to sad. I wanted to put this list together for folks interest in what's out there beyond what I have already reviewed. As of writing this, these are still available on Highspots website. They usually do an after Xmas sale or a New Years Sale so, if you're interest in scooping a few up I wanted to give a heads up on what I'm digging. So if we have the same tastes then maybe this will help you without having to wait for my slow ass to watch all of these
Fallout 2006 The Heartbreak Express vs. Jaison Moore & Bobby Hopkins, Jr. - will skip
Black Market vs. Jerrelle Clark & Jon Davis - worth checking out
Chasyn Rance vs. Canadian Cougar - will skip
Seth Delay vs. Steve Madison - ehhh might check out...perhaps
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Sal Rinauro & Erick Stevens - yeah looking forward to this. Sal & Erick are good stuff in this setting for sure.
Matt Sydal vs. Shingo - Sydal was wrestling Dragon Gate and ROH had their DG matches so, this is one to watch
Roderick Strong vs. Davey Richards (FIP Heavyweight Title #1 Contenders Match) - Can't go wrong with this match especially in this small setting
Bryan Danielson & Cyber Kong vs. Davey Richards & Roderick Strong - Other than Cyber Kong this would be a main event on a ROH 2006 B-show. Swap Delirious in for Kong and there you go!   Second Year Spectacular Night 1 *(the listing is reverse on Highspots so the main event is at the top)*
Davey Richards vs. Delirious w/Dave Prazak - Speaking of Delirious - yup this should be good stuff
Jerrelle Clark vs. Jay Briscoe - Interesting to see Jerrelle this high up but, I'm all for it.
Roderick Strong vs. Cyber Kong w/Dave Prazak - I'll watch it but, Cyber Kong is an unknown to me. Could go either way...
Steve Madison, Chasyn Rance & Kenny King vs. Erick Stevens, Roderick Strong & Seth Delay - Yeah, a 6 man match...this should be fun
Mark Briscoe vs. Canadian Cougar - I'm watching it for Mark.
Allison Danger vs. Lacey - Yup I'm down for this. Its been awhile since I've seen either wrestle.
Black Market vs. Colt Cabana & Sal Rinauro - I liked Black Market from Unstoppable 2007 and Cabana & Rinauro are a fun team. I might watch this whole show!   New Years Classic 2007 Kenny King vs. Seth Delay - Maybe based on Kenny King
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Shane Hagadorn - Probably will skip but, this is probably a squash
The Heartbreak Express vs. Shiima Xion & Pelle Primeau - same as above
Sal Rinauro vs. Gran Akuma - yeah, I think I'll watch this.
Black Market vs. Steve Madison & Chasyn Rance - Not crazy about this match but, we'll see how I feel when I get there!
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Larry Sweeney - I've only ever seen Sweeney as manager so, I'm interested. Him vs Jimmy should be entertaining for sure
Brent Albright vs. Erick Stevens - This is an ROH match I remember seeing and it reminds me of an AJPW undercard match. It should be stiff and have some suplexes- I'm game
Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Rave & Shingo - The selling point of the DVD. Seeing as the ROH guys have experience together and Shingo has been working with them as well. This should be very good stuff.   In Full Force 2007 Hallowicked vs. Seth Delay
Shingo vs. Jigsaw (FIP Florida Heritage Title Tournament Qualifier) - I'll pick up here...I'm a Shingo fan if you can't tell
Black Market vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Sal Rinauro (Losers leave Town) - Hey a tag match with an old school stipulation...I'm hoping its a brawl
Sean Waltman vs. Chasyn Rance - Probably will skip
The Briscoe Bros. vs. Necro Butcher & Mad Man Pondo (FIP Tag Team Title Match) - Yeah, my hope is this is indy deathmatch crazy. Just see for the spectacle
Erick Stevens vs. Gran Akuma (FIP Florida Heritage Title Tournament Qualifier) - Stevens is working his way up the card
Colt Cabana vs. Larry Sweeney (FIP Florida Heritage Title Tournament Qualifier) - This is looking like a good comedy match
Roderick Strong vs. Davey Richards (FIP Heavyweight Title - 2/3 Falls Match) - Selling point right here. These guys are like bread & butter. Violent bread & butter.   Heatstroke 2007 Night 1 Steve Madison vs Danny Daniels (w/SoCal Val)
Seth Delay vs Austin Amadeus
Trik Davis vs Scott Commodity - yeah I'll be skipping the first three matches...
Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards - Odd position for this match but, I've got hope.
No Disqualification Match - Delirious vs Necro Butcher (w/Dave Prazak) - Even if just for the chair spots I'll watch this!
The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) (c) vs Irish Airborne (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) - Brothers vs Brothers plus Airborne were the new thing at the time as well.
Roderick Strong (c) vs Tyler Black - Would be ROH main event stuff in a year...yeah I'll watch this.
Eight Man Tag Team Bunkhouse Brawl - The YRR (Chasyn Rance, Jason Blade, Kenny King & Sal Rinauro) (w/Becky Bayless & SoCal Val) vs  Black Market (Joey Machete & Shawn Murphy) & The Heartbreak Express (Phil Davis & Sean Davis) - This is seemingly the acutal big storyline of FIP at the time and it should be chaotic so, why not. I'm guessing the wrestling main event is Black vs Strong though.   Third Anniverary Show Kenny King vs. Seth Delay...
Jigsaw vs. Jason Blade...
Sara Del Rey vs. Lacey vs. Daizee Haze (Triple Threat Match) - I'll be starting here. Nothing against those guys but, this looks like a good card
Irish Airborne vs. Hallowicked & Scott Commodity - I will be skippinh this for the same reason as above
Necro Butcher vs Gran Akuma (No DQ Match) - Unless I'm just bored of Necro doing wacky stuff, I'm interested
Delirious vs. Larry Sweeney - It depends if I'm in the mood. Sometimes I LOVE a good comedy match. Othertimes, I can't be bothered.
Erick Stevens vs. Jack Evans (Florida Heritage Title Match) - Jack in Florida is gold.
Roderick Strong & Jay Briscoe vs. BxB Hulk & Yamato - This is whats on the cover and again this could be an ROH B-show main event.
Black Market & The Heartbreak Express vs. The YRR (Anything Goes Match) - Clearly these guys haven't settled their differences from the previous show. If that one grabs my attention then, I'm down for this.   Dangerous Intentions 2008 Jigsaw vs. Chasyn Rance - No
Rex Sterling vs. Chris Jones - Nope
Damien Wayne vs. Seth Delay - No way Jose
Sal Rinauro vs. Delirious - Again, only so much time and when this is following those then, I'd rather cut to the chase.
Black Market vs. Dark City Fight Club - These are some clubbering dudes so this should be good
Tyler Black vs. Davey Richards - Again, ROH Main Event in a couple years
Kenny King & Jason Blade vs. Jay Briscoe & Austin Aries - Certain to be an all action match
Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens (FIP World Heavyweight Title Match - Last Man Standing) - Oh yeah, the top half of the card looks awesome   Heatstroke 2008 The Heartbreak Assassins vs. The British Lions
Mercedes Martinez vs. Lorelei Lee - Might as well pick up a Women's match where & when I can!
Sal Rinauro vs. Chris Jones
Chasyn Rance vs. Shawn Osborne
Austin Aries vs. Jason Blade - I'm gonna go with this next. Blade is alright of all of the Streets of Rage indy wrestlers
Dark City Fight Club vs. Black Market (Weapons Match) - These are some clubbering dudes WITH WEAPONS so this should be good
Roderick Strong vs. Kenny King - ROH match right here
Tyler Black vs. Necro Butcher - Ditto
Erick Stevens vs. Go Shiozaki - If they chop and lariat each other like crazy then I will be a happy person. Fallout 2008 (This is the end of the road with the FIP DVDs available. I think this was billed as Impact of Honor 2 but the DVD was called this.) Shawn Osborne vs. CJ O'Doyle
Dark City Fight Club vs. The Lifeguards
Chasyn Rance vs. Nooie Lee
Damien Wayne & Rex Sterling vs. The British Lions
Erick Stevens vs. Tyler Black - Wow, we're just skipping all of that and this looks like a great place to start
MsChif vs. Rain (SHIMMER Title Match) - Sure why not!
Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong - Sign me up yes, please!
Kenny King & Jason Blade vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe - I know these guys can all go so I'm looking forward to this. FIP guys challenging the ROH guys again
Sal Rinauro vs. Chris Jones  - No idea what this is doing here in the top spot. Its here on the DVD case too. Alright...I'll give it a shot!   Whew! That took longer than I thought! Well I hope it helps you if you're thinking about checking old Full Impact Pro stuff out. If you're on the fence then I highly recommend Strong vs Evans as a place to start. I hope these above shows are very similar. If you look at the cards they look more like ROH year One in that the undercards are a little shakey sometimes but, the last 4 matches look really great. There are plenty of other shows that I guess were TOP shows at the time and I might try and find those on eBay but, that's what we're looking at right now. I'm digging it! Thanks for reading!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Strong vs Evans - 2006

Welcome back to FIP Fridays! Hopefully I can get this puppy in before midnight! Also if you're interested all or at least most of the FIP DVDs I'll be reviewing are available on Highspots. They are having their Xmas sale so, that's a tough deal to beat. Tonight I'm going over the best FIP show I've seen yet - Strong vs Evans! As always I cherry pick but, this has quite a few matches I want to see.  Austin Aries vs Jerrelle Clark - This is a really good athletic match with Aries playing heel alongside his stablemates Bryan Danielson & Dave Prazak. For my "opening match" it sets a great tone. They only thing holding this back is that it could have been longer. Clark's handspring moonsault thing was awesome! Bryan Danielson vs Jay Fury - Fury comes out for a little payback for what DP Associates did his tag partner in the previous bout. Very similar athletic match with some heeling from Danielson. He is such a good chicken shit heel! Milo Beasley who is DP's wheelchair riding goon does senton atomico off the apron at one point and it nearly kills him & Fury! Good payoffs here and good wrestling...very good stuff. We are off to a wonderful start. Oh and let me say the venue is much bigger, the crowd is bigger, and the camera angles are spot on. That makes a difference and glad to see that FIP is growing...I mean 14 years ago... Tony Mamluke & Jimmy Rave - Mamaluke's girlfriend is there again I liked this one a bit better than the Homicide match from Heatstroke last review. He and Rave have good chemistry and I think worked on the FL indies together for awhile. It shows..I would says its a good match for sure. Rave gets his mouth busted open...Rave stalls like a goon at the beginning and I loved it. He's probably one of the best heels of the 2000's.  Colt Cabana & Sal Rinauro vs Erick Stevens & Steve Madison - First Stevens match I've wanted to see from this period. He and Madison are working their way up the card. They go as The Miracle Violence Connection which of course works since I'm guessing no one there knows about the Gordy-Williams team of the same name from the early 90's They too are a hard hitting team so, the good time Sal & Colt team have their hands full. But man they are a good pair - Sal is underrated as a worker and Colt can still go in 2006. He's in no laughing mood. I thought this was a great match. We get an 80's finish but, man it works and it sets up a revenge pair of matches. Might have to check that out. These teams just clicked in terms of working the crowd but, keeping the action exciting. Main Event time and the name of the show. The first meeting of former tag partners and Generation Next members Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans - To save you some time - this was the best ROH style match in FIP that I've seen so far.This is Messiah of the Backbreaker Strong vs using his offence at the right times Evans. I don't know if they had an encounter in ROH as good as this one and from what I know its their first. Jack was bent like a pretzel and chopped red but, he would not quit. His selling was so excellent because it really looked like Strong was destroying him. Perhaps he was but, like I mentioned above, he was able to get some space and hit some spectacular stuff that really sent Roddy reeling. It reminded me of some of TIger Mask's best matches when he was fighting from underneath and would pull a counter or reversal to turn the tide. Or hit a dive to to show his heart and desperation. All on top of Roddy shit talking the fans made this a classic match to me.I was hesitant to pick this up because I'm not a giant fan of Evans all of the time but, this is the perfect setting for him. The fans LOVE him and he plays such a good face in peril here to all of the kids and girls. Yeah,  it just worked so well and they really did not hold anything back believe it or not. If you're an old time ROH fan and are looking to revisit that era or uncover something new from that time, I highly recommend this show. It's $5 and I really think the matches listed above are worth that. If you're a Roderick Strong fan like I am, you will want this in your collection. Thanks for reading! I think I might get this in on time after all! P.S. If you work retail, hang in there! I'm there with you - we'll make it!

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

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

ALL TOGETHER - 2011

This was a wrestling show held in August 2011 in honor of the victims of the March 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami and the aftermath including the meltdown of the Fukushima power plant. Well, without going and checking dates I'm not sure they knew the scope of the disaster of Fukashima yet. That's one of those things that the company and government wanted to downplay at the time. And they still do. It is certainly one of those things that still exists but, is sadly a footnote in the 24 hour news cycle. It was almost a decade ago but, those people and communities are still gone...and that area is still radioactive. I digress. Ok so on to the wrestling part. This was a joint venture between AJPW, NJPW, and NOAH as well as some big time freelancers to but on a super show in the spirit of solidarity and togetherness in the face of a national tragedy. What better way to do so then have a bunch of dudes beating up on each other? I kid! All proceeds went to the Japanese Red Cross. It was one of those things that I shied away from at the time because I didn't know if it would be a somber show or if it would be dull due to the nature of the show. Its me being stingy with my wrestling dollar. Don't fret though because this show as well as its follow up (and Kobashi's farewell show) are all available in full on Youtube. I haven't been watching a ton of puroresu and thought "Man, this looks like a good way to get back into it after getting lost in an ROH k-hole." I had pretty low expectations but, this features a pretty complete list of top Japanese talent and I should check it out for the sake of it. Kota Ibushi, Taji Ishimori, BUSHI & Yamato vs Kaz Hiyashi, Shuji Kondo, Tiger Mask IV & Ricky Marvin  - This was a short but all fireworks spot fest! What a way to start the show. My fears of a dull exhibition show have subsided. This was good stuff. Ricky Marvin was my fave. Naito, Sanada & Taniguchi vs Takahashi, Manabu Soya & M. Yone  - I'm not writing out everyone's names. Every match is some form of a tag match and I'm not doing it! You probably know some if not most of the names and the others you can look up Anyhow this was a really good match where Naito got worked over but made a good comeback and tagged out to kick it up a notch - BAM! This was a good mix of guys and although there were some rough patches nothing ruined the fun. Makabe & Akitoshi Saito vs Hirooki Goto & Kea - This was my jam. Hard hitters hitting each other hard. Good chops and slams. These guys had that good upper card tag vibe going, Taiyo Kea and Makabe had good chemistry against each other. Very good match. KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - Oh man! They could split all these guys up and have a tag tourney and I'd be a happy man. What we get scratches that it nonetheless. Everyone gets in there and does their thing. KENTA and Koji Kanemoto on the same team!? Get outta here! Attitude for miles! So you've got that and everyone just is super talented and wanted to win, this was a great match. 15 minutes but, it was fantastic. Best match so far. Masakatsu Funaki, Liger & Sano vs Minoru Suzuki, Aoki & Taichi - NJ Dojo classmates united again. Suzuki is right behind them so that's the story of the match to me. Fun little match with good spots toward the end. The Destroyer battle royale - I skipped this... Nagata, Tenzan, Nishimura & W. Inoue vs Akebono, Hama, Y. Yoshie & Morishima - Fun match but, this would have been better with Nagata & Nishimura vs Yoshie & Morishima . Its only 11 minutes and its all good for where its at on the card. Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - So, Takayama was starting to not have "it" by this point but, he could still take a helluva beating. I wanted to say that right off the bat. That being said, this was a near classic macho beat-em up match. All three other guys were still awesome and the crowd was molten hot for this battle. I really really dug this especially at 15 minutes where it was all steak and no sizzle which works wonderfully for this style and the guys' ages. I'm a fan of all 4 so perhaps you think I'm full of it but, I really want to put this as like a ****1/2 match. The final 3rd of the match which had Omori in the ring more really put this up there. Best match of the show and should have been the main event in my eyes. Kobashi & Muto vs Iizuka & Yano - This won the Tokyo Sports GP Best Match of 2011 award. That like many of their awards is based on mass appeal, nostalgia, and star power. That and the finish is really something beautiful if you're a long time puro fan. SUWAMA, Tanahashi & Shiozaki vs KENSO, Nakamura & Sugiura - I totally get why this is the main event. These are the heavy hitter, the aces of their companies, the world champions. That being said I would have LOVED this id it was minus Tanahashi & KENSO because the other four guys are absolute beasts! So, it makes their offense look mid card level. SUWAMA and Nakamura grappling to start, Shiozaki & Sugiura blasting each other...it makes the other two guys stuff look soft. It got really really good though. All that talent in one ring, they had to have a very good match in their sleep. This was that match BUT! they threw a story element in there as well. It was kinda goofy but, the fans loved it and we got to see all these dudes in one ring at once. Kinda like a lucha trios match... Overall this was a really really good show and I think paid off the Dream Show vibe. I would say this would be like getting the '94 Super J Cup tape if you wanted to get into puro but stuff is so easy to come by with Youtube, NJ World, etc. that there's probably more relevant entry points now. But, let's say if you're looking to get into older stuff but, want a more modern presentation and a good introduction than this is a great way for that. I think its also a good reminder of the events that took place all most a decade ago. Thanks for reading !  

G. Badger

G. Badger

Best Match Watched - 2020

Welcome to my Best Match Watched of 2020 celebration! We've got big stars appearing and a number of musical performances lined up tonight! Let's get this party started! Oh wait, never mind all of that...let's just get onto the Big List of my favorite stuff of that I've watched this year. In chronological order: Pre 1970's: Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) Honorable Mention, Very good match with nice action and pacing. Simple story but, well worked.
1970s & 80s: Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81) Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger (05/26/82) Tiger Mask vs Bret Hart (07/30/82) Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26/88) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08/88) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88)
1990s & 2000s: American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Era of Honor Begins (2002) American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels  - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Daniels vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles -  Road to the Title (2002) American Dragon vs AJ Styles -  All Star Extravaganza (2002) Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe Final Battle (2002) Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans FIP Strong vs Evans (2005) KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) Low Ki (Senshi) vs Chris Sabin (TNA Bound for Glory 2006) Honorable Mention, An action packed match with 0 TNA bullshit to spoil it. Golden era X Division stuff. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Manabu Nakanishi (BJW 2007) Honorable Mention, A very good to great match that told a great story that that fans & myself could believe. Precursor to the BJW Strong Style revival stuff.
2010 to present:
Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011) El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki (same) El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly " Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan " Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. " Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico " Cole & O'Reilly vs Sabre Jr. & Scurll " Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter " KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - All Together (2011) Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011) Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams ROH Pure Title tournament (2020) Mark Haskins vs Alex Shelley (ROH TV 02/20): Honorable Mention, excellent chain wrestling by Shelley and a good fit for Haskins hybrid style. Crowd actually was into this match which can be tough for live ROH crowds nowadays.   -THE BEST of the BEST!-
Pre 1970's...well I only watched a few pre 1970's matches and well Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) was the best of the bunch. The rest of my picks are going to be a little more difficult so, I think I'll do a top 3 or top 5 for the others. Then...just maybe will I actually able to narrow it down. 1970s & 80s: Clearly I was all about NJPW in the 80's although I did dip my toe in AJPW a couple times later in the year. They had some good 6 man matches (British Bulldogs w. Kobashi), I didn't see anything that could touch NJPW. Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81)
Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88)
Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88)
Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88) 1990s & 2000s: And now we enter the Ring of Honor K-hole I was lost in for awhile. Hey, I'm glad I took that journey. I was pretty ignorant of Year One ROH and got me excited to keep watching their current stuff. Plus is encouraged me to check out the sister company FIP which I've been digging. Also, I have made some purchases that have fill in some gaps in my DVD collection. I hope to be hitting up a couple of those for 2021. So, my list boils down to these: American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002)
Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe (2002) - Perhaps a controversial pick against the Era of Honor Begins but, I think this has the action along with the story lines
Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005)
KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006)
KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) 2010 to present: There's a good chunk from the wXw 2011 tournament here but, what can I say? It was a great show. Perhaps similar to the Ted Petty Invitational 2004. Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011)
El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki
Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan
Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011)   The runners up: Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) - a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals...distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect. KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) - Felt like a late 1990's AJPW Four Corners tag classic Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan - I think this match best encapsulates the awesome hard hitting style that both guys showed all 3 days. I didn't rate it as a classic at the time but, both guys have stuck in my mind all year. Here's my top 3 and I'm just going by my gut: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) - This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry. Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) - I got an out of body feeling when watching this match that was very similar to the first time I saw Kobashi vs Misawa's matches from 1997. Maybe it was the mild hype that lower my expectations but, this blew my mind. Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. (wXw 2011) - As hard as Sasaki & Sami were in the tourney, these two went beyond that. Davey really only does one thing but, when he's in there with the right person it can be awesome. It has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes all with an aggressive pace. Best Wrestler: Fujinami was killing it in '88. Tiger Mask given the right opponent was working magic. Sami, Yoshihito Sasaki, and El Generico were on fire during the wXw tourney in 2011. But I'm going to give it to American Dragon Bryan Danielson specifically for his work in 2002 in ROH. A natural baby face to Daniels' gimmick and Ki's natual demeanor, Dragon is relatable in addition to being a fantastic in ring worker. He has a grip of classic matches but, also elevates his tournament matches into something you want to see as well. Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki was pretty much unknown to me other than a character in Fire Pro Returns but, he's a guy I want to be on the look out for in the future. Seeing as I got a 4 disc Best of BJW in 2006 set, the future might be pretty soon! But, I think the best surprise of this year was Full Impact Pro being pretty great wrestling. I watched their Unstoppable 2007 DVD a few years ago and for the first time a few years before that and it didn't "wow" me. I think my expectations were too high or something. As I watched it again, I saw stuff that I don't think I appreciated in the past. From that I've seen some really great stuff including Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans which is a lost "ROH" classic to me. I'm looking forward to getting back to FIP Fridays! Looking forward to: Tackling the mountain of DVDs I've got - AJPW, BJW, NOAH, NJPW, ROH and more including FIP. Duh right? But I'm also swinging back to FMW and specifically 1998 which may be their very best year. I've already watched a handful of matches (although I'm not including them on this year's list) and I am NOT disappointed. Thank you so much for reading this year! Its been a really crappy 365 days but, I hope I was able to give you a little bit of fun and inspiration. Let's hope for a better new year! Stay safe and keep watching wrestling!

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

Jumbo Tsuruta vs Mitsuharu Misawa - Part 1

This is one of my all time favorite feuds in puro. It probably won't get much attention nowadays but, that's time for ya! This isn't a definitive match list but, it covers most of the seminal puro program. These are my original reviews and star ratings when I was watching my DVDs as if the matches were weekly episodes. I've been in a wrestling rut lately so I hope this will get me out of it!  Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Tiger Mask II (All Japan 3/9/88) ****1/2+ What an amazing little match. Misawa mainly keeps Jumbo contained with a side headlock for the majority of the middle portion. This would be risky nowadays but back then, it works. Wrestling is still the focus and the psychological direction is strong. Misawa can't trade blows or throws but he can contain Tsuruta & possibly score a quick pin. Jumbo won't be so easily wrangled and breaks the hold a few times. First, he is respectful by using the ropes. Next he, frustrated, peppers Tiger's ribs with short elbows. Finally, the champ shows the youngster who's boss & slings Misawa onto his back. From there, the match is wide open with a foreshadow of the action to come for AJPW in the 1990s. Fantastic! Tiger Mask and Toshiaki Kawada vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu and Ricky Fuyuki (All Japan 5/14/90) - Nothing really special move-wise but this is the match where Misawa decides that the gimmick & mask are holding him back. 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. Mitsuharu Misawa (All Japan 6/8/90) ***** This is the epitome of a big match without doing anything "big." There were plenty of teases to finishers and all of that but, that's not where the match lay. It was a story of Misawa's speed & guile against Jumbo's brutish strength. Misawa's biggest attacks were his dives to the outside & his top rope moves. Tsuruta in contrast used his more pedestrian offense but with the weight & stiffness he is known for. Things such as stomps, axe handles, scoop slams were done with intensity that really few can rival. Just a fantastic athletic match that was really one of the best of all time. Tsuruta, Kabuki & Inoue vs. Misawa, Kawada & Kobashi (All Japan 7/12/90) **** A very exciting match in a small venue that teased and played off the new rivalry between the old guard and the young guns. Kawada even kept his feud of sorts with Kabuki going and putting his kicks over with the fans by knocking Kabuki out (legitimately?) & Kobashi showed that he could definitely hang with the top guys. We already knew that but, hey it's 1990 and he's not quite throwing the lariats & chops yet. Honestly, he's really interesting because his body of work is split in two distinct periods yet, both are really good. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Stan Hansen (All Japan 7/27/90) ***3/4 A simpler old style match that saw Misawa control Hansen for three-quarters of the time. He had his arm tied up in locks and would strike it with knees & elbows. In fact Misawa was as much a Heel as I've ever seen from him. He worked the arm over against the post and even a chair! Anytime Stan broke free though he really hit the crap out of his opponent. There were 3 or 4 really stiff shots that Misawa caught including a back elbow & from a chair. What's also pretty remarkable is how well Hansen sells the injured arm & really is on the short list for best seller. He does it so that he won't use the injured arm for really the entire match. It's a basic program that Hansen & Misawa worked in the next few years but, it's really smart & pretty great when executed by two intelligent & talented performers. Overall, this is an excellent start with 2 absolute classic matches & really fun six man outings. Pick a few, watch, and enjoy!   Thank you for reading! Part 2 coming soon!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Full Impact Pro Friday - Fallout 2006

We are back with FIP Friday and pick up with Fallout 2006. Lots of big names on this show. Let's see! Black Market vs Jerrelle Clark & Jon Davis - This was my first match and it was fun stuff. Jon Davis was a lot thinner or less jacked than when I saw him in DGUSA. So Cal Val looking hot setting up this #1 contenders match. That aside she is really talented as a manager or valet.  Jay & Mark Briscoe vs Sal Rinauro & Erick Stevens - Val didn't like the results of the above match so she said THIS will determine the contender spot to face her Heartbreak Express. This was a really good match. These guys had good chemistry and delivered in a big way. This gladly could have been a few minutes longer. Matt Sydal vs Shingo - Another really good bout where Sydal was going to bust out everything. I felt Shingo held back offensively but, really made Sydal shine bright. You have to remember FIP has a strong face/heel style and since Shingo was part of Dave Prazak associates then, he's not going to pull out his crowd pleasing bombs. But it was really enjoyable. Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards (FIP Heavyweight Title #1 Contenders Match) - This was the match of the night. They wrestled this like an ROH bout and I couldn't be happier about that. I noticed the above matches seemed quicker than usual but, I think it was to give this 20+ minutes. Both guys were drenched in sweat by the end of this battle. A great match for sure. I re-watched this and I do think it could have gone on a little longer since the finish felt quick. But that's a minor quibble. Bryan Danielson & Cyber Kong vs Davey Richards & Roderick Strong - This was a impromptu main event where DP Associates come out and spoil the mood post match. Eventually Kong and Danielson have a pretty good tag bout to keep all the fans happy. I think the 15-30 year olds there were happy with the previous bout but, the kids and old folks dug this one. We get kind of an upset win here and with a legit finish so, this was surprisingly good.  Fallout 2006 was super super easy to watch. Again, I'm not sure if some of the matches were shorter or what. Perhaps they were "just right" in duration because for $5 I highly recommend checking this out. The Briscoes tag, Sydal vs Shingo, and Davey vs Roddy are worth it. Everything else is bonus. Thanks for reading and stay safe!  

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - Pure Title Revival - Part 6

Here we are at the semi-finals of the Pure Title Tournament. We've got Johnathan Gresham vs Josh Woods and Jay Lethal vs Tracy Williams. Plus Vincent (that's Vinnie to me) versus Matt Taven as well. Sounds like a good show! Gonna try not to spoil anything! Match #1
Woods vs Gresham - This starts out really good with Gresham trying to wrestle Josh. We really see Woods size advantage here. Gresham is 5'4" and just does not have the frame to be out grapple someone of Woods size and amateur background. The Octopus is stymied and goes to the outside early after getting stopped in his tracks and tossed. Then, we get a commercial break which seemingly cuts out 5 minutes of the match!? And apparently these 5 minutes set-up the story of the bout. Both guys are hurt from this and plays into the final 5 minutes. I'm at a loss why they cut 5 or so minutes from a 12 minute match!? (I didn't pay attention exactly so maybe it was a minute or two less). What was shown was good but, I'd have to think it was better if shown in full. Match #2
Taven vs Vincent - Taven gets jumped coming down the steps and this is basically Vinnie's revenge for Matt coming out two weeks ago and laying the smack down. Vinnie goes off the ladder to put Matt Taven through a table. Did they cut Woods/Gresham for this? I mean I thought this was a fun segment but, its the pure title tournament. Focus on that especially on the second to last show... There's an EC3/Shane Taylor promo in there that was nice. Will be nice to see that feud as well as tag wrestling. Match #3
Williams vs Lethal - Well, that was the in the top 2 matches of the tournament...that was a great match! I think it could have been more if fans were there cheering. This featured a fantastic story and work-a-body part wrestling. Lethal looked well...Lethal. Hot Sauce showed so much heart and intensity. Man, and what a great finish to a excellent fight. If they cut down Woods/Gresham in order to only shave a minute or two off this for TV then, it was worth it. Perhaps this is the top match so far. Tracy Williams has the two best matches if you're keeping track. This one and last week's against Fred Yehi. OK so, I'm going to try and do my best not to out-and-out spoil anything here. I'm going to try and not suggest anything either by avoiding talking about the outcomes or booking hypotheses. I want to focus on the performances of the final four competitors throughout the tournament. Jay Lethal - Jay's first two matches (Castle & Finlay) were good but, nothing to write home about. They seemed pretty formulaic but, this week's match was great stuff. He carried over the wear and tear of the previous fights into this match. It really made it stand out.   Josh Woods - They were smart to pair him with vets like Kenny King & PJ Black early on. Josh showed a lot of potential and this week's match with Gresham seemed to be his most comfortable (despite the clip job). He is a big guy and should be suplexing the heck outta smaller guys like he was here. ROH doesn't have Jeff Cobb but, Woods could be that next suplex machine. I think he could be a better one too. A few more years and he could be a destroyer. He's got a great sense of humor and is a natural babyface. If he can tap into his killer instinct during the matches, he has the wrestling/MMA background to be a American Dragon type talent. Jonathan Gresham - He said that he's got a bad leg and I don't know if that's true but, his matches have been rather subdued in comparison to what he is capable of. His first two bouts (Yuta & Sydal) had really clever finishes but, we're not seeing him necessarily wrestling circles around folks. And in the Woods match this week, we're not seeing a smart Gresham either. The size disadvantage was rather stark so, after getting gut-wrench suplexed a few times, one would think he should try a war of attrition to break the bigger man down. Tracy Williams - Hot Sauce has really impressed me the most all tournament. He and Yehi but, I really thought they were just tossing Tracy into the tournament for the heck of it. But, man all of his matches have been a joy to watch. The stories are there, the intensity is there...yeah the drama is there too. They have GOT to do something with Hot Sauce in 2021. He's really proved himself during this tournament. I hope they don't drop the ball. OK so, next week is the finals and I really hope they don't cut anything from it. I'm sure they will for commercials but, we'll just have to see. I'm feeling they might have the EC3/Taylor 6 man match next week along with the finals. That could be quite a good show! I'm not really sure what ROH's plans are after the tournament is done next week. I don't know if they thought the COVID stuff would be done and they could resume touring or what. At this point, its safe to assume they're going to keep doing the empty arena shows in Baltimore. That's fine by me! They could just keep rotating the match ups between all of the competitors of the Pure Tournament for the next 2 months and I'd be OK with that. I'm OK with that for longer than that if you've read my other posts on this There's so many good match ups left on the table. They could keep doing different tournaments and round robins like Gabe was doing Year One & Two. Plus you've got the Briscoes, EC3, Taven, Vinnie, Shane Taylor and his crew. I mean, you
could just have that be the full roster! Again, bring the lucha guys in here and there like Gabe did with the Dragon Gate/NOAH guys in '06-07. Gimmie the book already!!! Hahaha I hope you're staying safe and having fun watching wrestling. 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

Ring of Honor - Year One

The thing about watching Ring of Honor's back catalog is that you have to plan ahead or have a watchful eye online. Many of the original shows have been out of production for years and although they have put out a lot of fantastic compilations to compensate, those too are no longer in production. I have never bought any of my ROH DVDs as they come out. I'm always running behind...sometimes nearly a decade behind! This is the case with ROH Year One. When I first got into ROH, I was interested in getting stuff that featured puro stars I had not yet figured out a way to get anything of Japanese origin. Fortunately, ROH was in the middle of their partnership with NOAH and I was able to snag stuff with KENTA, Morishima, Kobashi, and Misawa. Some of that stuff is pretty hard to come by nowadays. Cool! I only later got interested in their back catalog but, did not have a good idea of what I should buy. Combine that with having to make the choice between buying classic AJ/NJ/AJW DVDs or ROH stuff, I went with the Puro/Joshi. I still stand behind that decision I have picked up stuff here and there over the past decade trying to fill the gaps of my ROH collection with compilations and keeping an eye peeled on eBay/Amazon. Like I started with, ROH had a fantastic run of compilations from perhaps 2014 covering all of their big stars (and some long time minor stars), factions, feuds, and even years. These have since dried up and only a few are still available at a discount on Highspots. ROH changed warehouses a couple years ago (I have a nice rant about this in one of my earlier blog posts) to MD and got rid of alot of product that wasn't moving. Highspots seemingly bought a bulk of it and do have a Year Four and Best of Alex Shelley set (which I bought a few years ago) that I would highly, highly recommend.
I'm on a tangent...sorry. Year One is something that I thought I probably would never get around to seeing. I was able to get ROH's Year Two DVD set (back when I got the Yr. 4 and Shelley DVD) and I've not seen it available for a reasonable price since. Year One wasn't available at that time or if it was I was a dummy. But, I've pieced enough of it together with Youtube posts, Takedown Masters editions, and one compilation match to present to you my review of Ring of Honor Year One! I'm only going to be reviewing the stuff I enjoyed or that have been recommended elsewhere. If I haven't seen something I'll let you know A couple things are from memory but, again I'll let you know.   The Era of Honor Begins - The first show. This is from the Takedown Masters Edition. These are the best versions to get IMO because they cut out the junk matches and none of the matches you want to see are messed with. There's some folks saying these are clipped but, that's not true. Seriously, get this version. It'll be cheaper than the official ROH release. Jay Briscoe vs Amazing Red - Good match but they were just throwing everything out there in no particular order. Scoot Andrews vs Xavier - Not Scott vs Xavier I guess had a really good series of matches on the Northeast Indies. This wasn't really any different. I had a good build and was really good sound match. Super Crazy vs Eddie Guerrero - Eddie's looking in a bad way here. Took awhile to get going but was a good match. Tons left on the table. I'm sure this is the match the people paid to see but, we get our main event next. American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Man! The Fallen Angel gimmick is one I really miss. Anyhow, this is still a classic match. It wasn't full of cliches and really introduced a new era of wrestling in the States. It is steps ahead of the other matches on the show in both layout and execution. I would say if you're into M-Pro wrestling of the 90's  or the ECW 3 Way Dances of Super Crazy, Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Little Guido, Spike, etc.(I'm showing my age right?) then, this is right up your alley.
Round Robin Challenge - Show Two and a follow up to the conclusion of the last show.Ditto on this being the Takedown Masters version. This is labeled as Round Robbin Challenge Its all good. Everything you'd want to see is here in full. American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels - This has got to be top 5 or 10 best ROH show openers. This is a near classic encounter. Things were kept simple with Daniels targeting Am Drag's neck. There were plenty of teases and cut-offs to keep it exciting as well. These two rarely disappoint. Daniels vs Low-Ki - Another near classic but, a tad below the above match because in-ring story wasn't as compelling. Still, the intensity was there with the Fallen Angel looking to hit his big moves on Low-Ki and wrap things up early. Ki was just kicking and fighting the whole way. The finishing segments shows how in tune these guys were with their moves. They could seemingly pull a finish out of thin air. Spanky vs Jay Briscoe - I have no idea why anyone thought Spanky was a good wrestling name. Brian Kendrick is a good name and good enough that he's ran used it the rest of his career. So, it sucks to hear the announcers refer to him as Spanky and take him or them seriously. Nevertheless, this was a good match once Kendrick started bleeding. Despite both guys being young and trying to show-off, they kept it simple. Los Maximos (SAT) vs Brian XL & Amazing Red vs Chris Divine & Quiet Storm - On the other end of the spectrum we have matches like this. This was fun but also cringe inducing at times. These guys got into a ring and wanted to do everything they could think of. It wasn't very long and this style does typify independent wrestling at the time so, its a worthwhile time capsule. American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Ken Shamrock guest refs this. Again, they needed someone to put on the posters to get people to show up to the Murphy Rec Center. It makes sense though because both guys have a shoot style influence as well as martial arts background. So, this was what I would call a Inoki Strong Style match. It starts with shoot style grappling and works its way up to pro-wrestling moves as the match escalates in intensity. Historical importance aside, this is a classic match. Low-Ki is a scowling hard ass and Danielson is a baby face here so, its hard not to root for the Am Drag here. But don't be fooled, once Dragon gets that look in his eyes, he's a bad as they come. BUT we don't quite know that in 2002 do we? We certainly find out this match. He is a tough as nails, aggressive, and technically masterful. He has to be if he has any chance of beating the man they call Low-Ki! Classic stuff for sure.   A Night of Appreciation - Show #3. I don't have this and cannot find the AJ Styles vs Low Ki match that looks to be the highlight. There is there 07/17/02 TNA on Youtube that could be watched as substitute I suppose. Eddie's last match for ROH.
ROH Road to the Title - Takedown Masters Edition. Again, nothing that I wanted to see here was clipped or cut out. There are tons of matches here too. This one is not labeled as a Must See tape like the first two shows but, I disagree. This may not have the classic match but, this is Ring of Honor's first stacked show. Like the others unlike the other shows, I think I may have watched every match. I'm not going to review all of them but, I will talk about the ones I'm recommending. This tournament sets up the 4 way Iron Man match to crown the first ROH World Champ. Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles - Holy Cow! No one has talked about this match but, it was great. They were doing stuff at NWA-TNA PPVs but, I've never seen those. Maybe those are better but, if so then, I've got to watch 'em. This bout was like one long sequence full of reversals, counters and dodges. If you dug RVD vs Jerry Lynn then, you've got to see this! Near classic match to me. American Dragon vs Doug Williams - Doug's ROH debut and it is a banger. Stiff strikes, powerful suplexes and competitive mat wrestling. It was a great match that could have been something more if it wasn't a tournament match I think. This was a dream match. I wonder if they had a better one than this? -Oh I should mention Spanky Kendrick and Paul London had a good match. There was a botched superplex but, it didn't  really look like that. It looked like they were going for something far riskier like a Kendrick dropping London's throat across the top rope from the superplex position- Low Ki vs Amazing Red - This was a little too choreographed for my tastes to be a great match. It wasn't too long and did have some nice moves and Ki was brutal like Yumiko Hotta here. Red or Ki did fumble a reverse rana and that didn't help things. Good match though. Christopher Daniels vs AJ Styles - Like I even need to talk about these two together. There was a lot of mat wrestling here which is probably different than their TNA stuff. It was great as was the whole match. They really might be each other's best opponents since they are so evenly matched.
Crowning a Champion - Don't have this DVD but, the main event match is/was on ROH's Youtube channel. It is a 60 minute match and is pretty great. I'm writing from memory but, I'd say it was ****-****1/4. Certainly worth seeing once.
Honor Invades Boston - Features Mark Briscoe's first ROH match since they are outside of the Murphy Rec Center and he can legally wrestle in MA. He and Jay have a great match against each other. I've only seen clips from ROH TV when they aired the Briscoes special right as everything shut down for the pandemic. It also features an AJ Styles - Low Ki classic. This takes places days after the aforementioned TNA match so, maybe watch that here in its place. I would like to find this DVD but, I guess there are a lot of DUDs on the card as well.
Unscripted - This has some good matches on paper with Dick Togo, Ikuto Hidaka and Takao Omori but, it doesn't amount to much. This is the show where Xaiver (RIP) beats Low Ki for the belt and joins The Prophecy. I didn't see this match but, I've never had a problem with Xavier in ROH. Now I haven't seen a ton but, I think alot of the flack he got was for beating the ROH ace for the belt a couple shows in with A CHAIRSHOT! (and 450 splash). That really seems like the antithesis of what ROH was about especially at this time. The fans champ was beaten by cheating and lost the belt after one show. That does seem like some Sports Entertainment B.S. especially without the benefit of hindsight. Most notable though is Michael Shane vs Paul London. This is a great match and should be seen. This is the genesis of the "Please Don't Die" chant for London. It is warranted. I don't know how much people thought of London at the time but, he is THE underdog dark horse of ROH.
Glory by Honor - This is Samoa Joe's debut and this was supposed to be a one time only appearance. He was hired by The Prophecy to beat up Low-Ki. These two just beat each other up and it was pretty great. I don't think it was a classic as its really just a collection of potato shots but, this is the only Ki vs Joe singles match in ROH history. The unofficial re-match is considered to be PWG's All Star Weekend V night 2 in '07. I should get this next Highspots sale.
All Star Extravaganza - This is the remastered version and it a ROH release. This is out there still so, I recommend picking it up for sure. It was the first Year One ROH DVD I got and helped encourage me to check more of the early stuff out. Michael Shane vs CM Punk - Punk's debut and its a pretty good one. It is more of an in-ring-story match than full of a bunch of moves. ROH getting more talent in the wrestling department vs the moves department (Maximos, Quiet Storm, Brian XL etc.) is what helped make ROH a lasting promotion. Historical match and vintage Punk is always worth a watch. Like Daniels, he had a character and could talk and that was a big plus for ROH as well. American Dragon vs Paul London - Since I've already watched this show once or twice I wasn't going to sit through the whole #1 Contender Tourney but, London had already beaten 2 guys before facing Dragon. That does not bode well for him. But, do NOT count out Paul London! Most folks do not know how awesome he was year one & year two of Ring of Honor. He was the dark horse underdog of the company for sure. Mid card matches like this prove just how great he would become when given the opportunity. He and Danielson have a very good match where he's hanging with a fresh Dragon on the mat...despite being on his third match. And he throws a mean elbow too! Daniels, Donovan Morgan & Samoa Joe vs Homicide, Doug Williams & Low Ki - Great 6 man match where the tag rules eventually go out the window. I don't mind too much in matches where they're trying to push the level of chaos. Joe vs Doug is a match I gotta see. This was also Homicide coming out party as far as my viewing has gone. He's done alot of throw-away undercard tag stuff but, here he is allowed to be the great maniac we love. Low-Ki & Steve Corino vs Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka - This is the main event of the show but, really should be behind the Tourney finals in my book. SO, I watched it before that and am reviewing it first. I've also reviewed it early on the blog for my Masato Tanaka post ECW post. This is still a great match that's full of double teams and hard hits. This wasn't a big time event for Zero One so, this wasn't going to be more than what it was but, it was really great. The fans were really loving it. American Dragon vs AJ Styles - This was like an evolution of the NJ Jr. classics of the 90's. Excellent fast mat wrestling gave way to hard hitting action. AJ's bumping his butt off and Dragon gets busted open. If you can believe it AJ doesn't hit any dives here and it content grappling with THE grappler of ROH. They leave a lot on the table here but, still have a classic match. The organic and brutal finish seals the deal. Post show Homicide stabs Corino with a fork in the eye...
Scramble Madness - Oh there's another Doug Williams vs Bryan Danielson match on this. I need to see this...but, nothing else looks too hot.
Night of the Butcher - I look Abdullah but, I have no idea why he was booked. There is another Paul London vs Bryan Danielson match here - sweet! I think this DVD is pretty rare so, probably never going to see if (but I do have some stuff from Year Two)
Final Battle 2002 - I don't have the show DVD but, this is from the Steve Corino DVD set put out by ROH. They may still have the set available on their website at a discount. It has the following match as well as most/all of the Homicide matches and later stuff with Steen/SCUM from the early 2010's. Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe - This was a First Pin or Submission Wins match. There's a lot of back story here with each guy. I've picked up on some in my viewings and have had to read elsewhere but, generally speaking Ki & Dragon respect each other but, are still rivals. Ki & Joe respect each other but, are more than rivals...enemies is probably the best term. Corino is allied with Joe for his Group which was supposed to be the next big thing after The Prophecy but, it never took off (but ignore that part for now). Joe and Dragon are rivals. Ki and Corino tagged at All Star but, I wouldn't say they're friends either. Oh also note that since Corino has been in Z1 he's muted his antics and is much more a puro style wrestler. He stil will take short cuts but, he is not out of place in this match. I could go on about this match as there were so many highlights. My favorite had to be Low Ki double stomping Dragon while we was applying Cattle Mutilation to Joe. What was the craziest part is that Bryan did not break his bridge so, it left Ki standing atop his abdomen like a foot stool. Danielson is a machine! Everyone looked like a beast at some point during the match to be honest. This was another classic for Year One. I've never heard it in that conversation but, it was another must see. It goes long so, set aside some time but, it ends Ring of Honor's first year with a bang.
In summary, ROH Year One (2002) is really enjoyable. I am really happy that I have what I would consider the 4 essential DVDs in Era of Honor Begins, Round Robin Challenge, Road to the Title, and All Star Extravaganza. Honor Reclaims Boston seems like another worth seeking out but, the Takedown Master versions make those first 3 DVDs listed much easier to find. The prices do spike but, if you keep an eye on them then, you can get them for under $10 each for sure. As far as I understand it, ROH's Honor Club doesn't show things this old. They show things from the past few years but, their vaults are not open...which is crazy to me since not only do they NOT have these for sale in DVD format but, they are cutting back their DVD production way down. So, the prospect of any of these being available in physical media seems unlikely. Maybe I'm wrong about the Honor Club. And maybe Honor Club members have access to this stuff on Youtube somehow? I'm person that like to have the physical copy and if you are too then, its not too difficult to track down enough of the great and classic ROH matches to really enjoy yourself. The production quality is rough but, that is some of the charm. One thing I'll mention to tie this into the ROH Pure title revival is that most of the great matches in 2002 should be used as a stylistic template for ROH to come. There is no reason that the talent that Ring of Honor has right now cannot emulate the athletic competitive wrestling of Year One. Most of their current roster has much more experience and training than those guys almost two decades ago. Sure there is Hall of Fame talent there but, I'm sure that there is HoF talent in the ROH ring right now as well. I think this Pure Title revival is more than just bringing a secondary belt back. I hope it is a return to the snug aggressive wrestling we see at the heart of ROH's first year. There is still room for high flyers, brawling, hardcore matches, and comedy but, the focus of the company should be on the competition and the "sport" of professional wrestling. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!

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

Spotlight: Masato Tanaka

Masato Tanaka was pretty much responsible for me getting into puroresu. His matches in the States with ECW were eye opening to me. He was tough, intense, and innovative. I would say he, Mike Awesome, and Tajiri were the 3 guys that convinced me that wrestling in Japan was something worth seeking out. After ECW folded, so did my interest in newer wrestling at the time. It was another 5 years before I got back into it. I've never really looked at what "Dangan" Tanaka was doing in that time when I was away.   Masato Tanaka vs Samoa Joe (Zero-1 2001 or 2002): There was no date on this from the Youtube video but, based on the size of Joe and his attire (cut off tee & track pants), this was pre-ROH Joe. I believe per Quebrada.net that it's from BURNING HEART League 09/15/01. All that being said, this was 8 minutes of spots but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a blast! Joe was pulling out all kinds of stuff like a Fosberry Flop dive and Pedigree type move. Obviously Tanaka was going over but, you'd be surprised. Cool finish too!   vs Shinjiro Otani (Zero-1 07/31/02): A classic 16 minute tournament match. It's like in that **** 1/4 - **** 1/2 range to me. It's best described as NJPW Jrs. style with 2000 era hard hits, a hot Korakuen krowd, and tourney match urgency. Tanaka & Otani don't go for epic, they go for the win. Dangan gets busted open from a Tree of Woe baseball slide if that's any indicator. Plus, Otani's facial expressions are as top shelf as ever. He takes the drama to another level with his emoting. Totally surprised by this match since no one really talks about Zero One especially in 2018...if you're a fan of either guy, see it. It'll be one of the best bouts you'll watch this week.   Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs Steve Corino & Low Ki (ROH 11/09/02): This was the main event to the inaugural All Star Extravaganza. Otani & Tanaka kept this a lean mean contest. Otani damn near put Ki's face into the back of his head with a kick. Not to be outdone, Dangan hit a brutal lariat and shotgun stunner. Sure, it was Philly but, no chairshots needed. Corino & Ki were excellent as well. Highly recommend checking this out.   vs Mike Awesome (Zero-1 02/29/04): Holy shit...wow. For an Awesome vs Tanaka match this might be the most dangerous one. I don't know if the match quality is the tops since they really do just run through the spots but, what spots they are! Highly recommended match for those missing this rivalry. I had no clue this existed especially since their One Night Stand match from 2005 was touted as their most recent battle since ECW. But that's WWE history for ya! Go see this Zero One match and witness the brutal spots for yourself!   vs CM Punk (Wrestling-1 04/09/04): I'm not 100% on the promotion title as it appears to be a US indy with affiliation to Zero-1 or a US offshoot when they were trying to do a global wrestling thing. I read in the comments online that Punk was sick at the time but, this was a very good hotel banquet hall level match. Punk focused on Masato's arm amd gave the match a good sound body. It was really solid when they could have just winged a bunch of moves. It felt good because they eventually got into a nice little finishing run. Some big moves were hit and some were countered but, they never gave it all away. These two worked really well together.   vs Samoa Joe (1PW 2005?): Again, the poster didnt' put a date but, this looks around the time Joe had the bleached brown/red bit in his hair while in TNA. This was a 10 minute sprint of wonderful stiffness. If the above match was about moves, this was about hitting each other. They go bat shit with it. This pairing is really, really good and I wish there was more available. Match goes to a double DQ but then we get...   vs Steve Corino: ECW rules type of match. They're in the crowd and being a little cute for the people that loved ECW back in the day. I'm sure I would have dug this at the time but, the let's take a tour without actually fighting isn't as interesting anymore BUT it's not all of that. It's brutal at times too. So, this is a 2 in 1 or Gauntlet match for Tanaka and a must-see. Dangan all the way man!   Tanaka to my knowledge only wrestled in ROH the one time but, he seemed like a perfect fit for early ROH from his performances above. 2002-2004 Tanaka in ROH would have been great and is certainly fodder for fantasy bookers out there. These matches are a hint of what could have been.   Next time, I want to tackle what I'll call the Tanaka revival- from my estimates late 2000s to early 2010s. I'll see what I can find on the web.

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - Pure Title Revival - Part 4

Here we are and Round 2 of the Ring of Honor Pure Title Tournament! We've got Jay Lethal vs Dave Finlay and Matt Sydal vs John Gresham. Lethal vs Finlay: I wasn't really feeling this match. It felt rather flat and by the book. Finlay felt rather vanilla and perhaps it was unfamiliarity with Lethal or Lethal knows he's got more matches to go and is pacing himself. Nonetheless, Lethal did a fine job selling the leg work but, this was just an OK match. I didn't have any expectations so, not really disappointed. I think they cut 5 minutes or so of the match from the TV episode btw. The match was at the 5 minute mark then, we went to commercial and then they said 10 minutes has passed. I wonder what if that 5 minutes would have changed my opinion. Then, we get a segment with Vinnie in the ring speaking of some vague nonsense. What is this? Get back to the wrestling! Eventually, we get the answer to the the questions no one's been asking about the The Trend videos ---it's Matt Taven! Taven then proceeds to squash theheck outta Vinne capped off by a sweet flying splash putting Vinnie through a table. There's a couple things going on here for me. I don't want the hokey talkie crap, that's why I watch ROH. That's the benefit of their 1 hour show...they don't have time to waste on guys prattling on about nothing. So, to stick this in the middle of the Pure Title Tournament was jarring for a few reasons. One, it reminded me that ROH still has mediocre guys on their roster like Vinnie that they're trying to do something big with. And in that vein, ROH still wants to play the sport entertainment game despite no one wanting to see it which should be proven to them by the buzz the Pure Tournament is causing. My other concern is that they did this because the Gresham/Sydal match wasn't going long and they needed filler. Thankfully, Taven crushed Vinnie. My hope, although I do think Vinnie has some potential, is that this is the last we see of him in ROH. At least in this Wyatt family/horror movie knock-off incarnation. He and Bateman as a tag team could be good but, I'd take Taven running him out of the company. Its nothing personal but, its a derivative gimmick and looks cheap next to the athletic display of the Pure competitors. Sydal vs Gresham: I've been looking forward to this match since Sydal beat Delirious on week #2 This did not disappoint. It had excellent counter wrestling and strikes but, unfortunately was over just as it was picking up steam. In fact it was over before, I even knew what happened. Gresham did a Mexican Surfboard and then did some position change where he popped Sydal's torso up and to the side but kept the knees locked in the surfboard position. So, all of Sydal's weight was pulling against the leverage point of Gresham's foot and separating Sydal's knee joint. He insta-tapped so, we didn't get much time to study the hold. It looked like a legit reaction/injury. Sydal was back on his feet to shake The Octopus' hand so, perhaps it was just great selling on Matt's part. Good match but, if given a couple more minutes it could have been great. It just didn't feel like it had an ending third. A couple things to note from today's episode. Lethal winning was predictable and Gresham's win wasn't too much of a surprise either. I hate to say this but, I think those two are going to be in the finals as I thought on week #1. The reason, I 'hate to say this', is because the stakes are getting lower for me & others to care about the outcome should that be the case. I still want to see the matches but, if they're going to play this safe and use this as an opportunity for re-visiting Lethal vs Gresham then, this will all be a whole lot of nothing. The whole tournament will be just drawing that obvious match out over the course of 2 months. Last week I had all kinds of ideas with Yehi, Williams, PJ Black, and Josh Woods to a lesser extent. I think ROH may continue to be 'unpredictable' with these matches but, really what does it matter when its seems very clear that they want Lethal vs Gresham? I can see Woods upsetting Black. I could see Yehi going over Williams (that too would be predictable since Yehi is the only invited wrestler to go over an ROH talent thus far further burying Silas Young in the process). I could envision a time limit draw and Lethal gets a by-week into the finals. This would protect Williams and Yehi from losing to Lethal as well as give them a storyline/feud with each other right out of the gate. BUT! That's if ROH was smart and wanted to get to Lethal vs Gresham but, use the losses as part of their booking...and to be honest after this week, I'm really doubting that cleverness. This week's show seemed like business-as-usual in Ring of Honor. Like who ever is booking (is it Delirious still?) has no creativity left and does not want to take any chances. Or perhaps its some suit telling him "No" on doing anything interesting...I was not convinced of that by the mere fact that ROH was doing this Pure Rule tournament in the first place. I want to take a detour and talk about Yehi because his story seems like the only thing 'up in the air.' If they don't do a draw then, I would love to see Yehi 'shock the world' defeat Lethal. That would take some cajones and it would restore my hope in the company. As far as B Block, its got to be Gresham. No one is left in Block B that can beat him. Especially since Gresham went over a vet like Sydal in less than 15 minutes. Yehi vs Gresham in the finals and have it go long...I would be a happy fan. That leaves me with the losers in the tournament. If ROH was smart, they should be moving them in story lines to keep them relevant. I would love to see a program with Lethal and Sydal. He left a LOT on the table in both the Delirious and Gresham match so, I think he's still protected somewhat. So, having Lethal lose to Yehi (or Hot Sauce) would free him up. Who knows if that will happen? I'm starting to feel that Gresham is winning the whole shebang though so, perhaps that'll leave Lethal free anyhow. Dalton Castle should be in that mix along with Silas. All I know is that I want to see these guys more. All in all though, I think I've spent more time fantasy booking this tournament than ROH spent. Some of that perhaps is due to them having to call an audible due to COVID-19. But, I do think some if it is due to uninspired booking. I don't know if they really care about having any kind of interesting story for their fans. And honestly, I don't know if they're interested in giving their fans matches they want to see. I honestly think they still have no idea what to do after the guys who formed AEW left. They were on Bullet Club-The Elite auto-pilot that they didn't even need to book anything so long as the had The Elite and NJPW guys there. I am still hopeful that this Pure Title will help give them some direction and focus. Things aren't going to change completely due to one tournament but, I really do hope that it is a step in the right direction. This week's episode was a mis-step but, want them to get back on track. I know that they can do some really great things. Thanks for reading! Stay safe!

G. Badger

G. Badger

The Big 100

This is my 100th blog post! Yay! So, I wanted to make it about something special. An overlooked wrestler, a series of great matches, or something like that. Of course that would take me starting from scratch and I’m just a little busy with my day job & life-things to deep dive into a theme. Damn you Go Shiozaki and Youtube for taking me down a path unfit for this milestone post. So, instead I decided to offer 100 tidbits to you the reader. What’s funny is that I thought it would be a time saver but, in fact it took a shit load of time. I probably could have watched 3-4 matches and gotten a review for each in the time it took me to scribble down & cross out my choices in my notebook. Then, I had to type them out! What a dummy! I’ve got some top 10 and essential viewing lists but, these are by no means comprehensive. Somethings were omitted intentionally and others were omitted due to ignorance. I’ve seen a good bit of stuff but, not everything J Plus most are not in a particular order. “So, what F-ing use are they then!?” you say? Yeah, um see…it’s more like that’s the order that I thought of them in OR they’re chronological. The lists are almost like a peek into my wrestling brain. It’s a little rough and a little hazy at times but, hopefully, it gets you watching, reading, or thinking about different stuff.       Who I watch out for when Youtube Surfing: 1. Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) – Well-travelled team always get the best out of their foes. 2. The Headhunters – Agile big men always down for mixing garbage/hardcore wrestling with highspots 3. Togi Makabe – “Newer” guy brings old school flair, intensity, AND stiffness 4. Masashi Aoyagi – Karate man constantly kicking people and stirring shit up 5. Shiro Koshinaka – 100% effort and charisma wrestler, a utility man who can shine in all settings 6. Masahiro Chono- Trained by Thesz & Inoki, charismatic and believable despite limitations 7. Masa Kurisu – AJPW trained, got kicked out of FMW- yeah that’s right… 8. Kendo Nagasaki – AJPW and Stampede pedigree, early FMW and started BJW 9. Tarzan Goto – Notice a pattern? 10. Jun Kasai – Comedy, violence, sound wrestling ability, death defying leaps, and charismatic to boot!       Iconic Bumps or Moves: 1. RVD’s somersault senton from the top turnbuckle into the crowd versus Bam Bam Bigelow 2. Kawada taking Tiger Driver ’91 on 06/03/94 3. Masato Tanaka taking an Awesome Bomb through a table to the floor with enough momentum carry his head and neck underneath the guardrail. 4. Jun Akiyama riding Akira Taue’s skull off the apron on 01/22/06 5. Kawada getting German suplexed by Kobashi while ‘KO’d’ on 12/03/93 6. Inoki getting German suplexed by Vader, 01/04/96 7. Mr. Danger Matsugnaga’s somersault senton onto his opponent in a Barbwire Net Scaffold match (BJW 98?) 8. Onita shouting “Thunder-Fire-Power-bomb!” as he delivers said move to Hayabusa in the ’94 Cage retirement match 9. Sabu wrapping his legs in barbwire and then Leg dropping Terry Funk at Born to Be Wired, ECW 10. Akira Hokuto doing maybe the 1st reverse frankensteiner to Toyota, all dangerous joshi style too  09/02/95       Most Brutal Joshi Matches: 1.  Lioness Asuka vs Yumiko Hotta 03/26/95 AJW 2. Yumiko Hotta vs Aja Kong 01/24/94 AJW 3. Aja Kong & Bison Kimura vs Grizzly Iwamoto & Bull Nakano 08/19/90 AJW 4. Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue vs Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda 08/09/97 AJW 5. Akira Hokuto vs Manami Toyota 09/02/95 AJW 6. Manami Toyota & Toshida Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki series (92-93) AJW 7. Akira Hokuto vs Shinobu Kandori (April & December 1993) AJW 8. Megumi Kudo vs Combat Toyoda 3/31/96 FMW 9. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW 10. Manami Toyota vs Karou Ito 08/09/97 AJW       Most Brutal Men’s Matches: 1. Sabu vs Sandman – Stairway to Hell match 1998 ECW 2. Jun Kasai vs Takashi Iizuka – Deathmatch TAKA Produce 2018 3. Kobashi vs Misawa 10/21/97 AJPW 4. The Rock vs Mankind - St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 1999 WWF 5. Cactus Jack vs Terry Funk – Duel of the Wilds 1995 IWA Japan   6. There’s some Tarzan Goto glass deathmatch in BJW 1998 or 99 where he carves a notch into Ono’s (I think) arm with a shard of glass. 7. Headhunters Glass Deathmatch 1995 IWA Japan 8. Masakatsu Funaki vs Tatsuo Nakano 08/24/89 UWF 2nd Stage 9. Onita’s main events in FMW (89-92) 10. Terry Funk vs Sabu Born to be Wired 1997 ECW       ECW Memorable Moments: 1. First time the Dudley’s did the Flaming table 2. Seeing Super Crazy vs Tajiri vs Travelling Luchador or Japanese Jr. vs Spike vs Little Guido vs Jerry Lynn every week 3. The “Catfights!!!!”  4. New Jack jumping off the back of a raised basketball hoop backboard through a table 5. Balls & Axl’s chair shots that bent the seats 6. Taz vs The Franchise rematch on TV where Franchise gives this speech about giving the fans a good match and sez ‘whaddaya say Taz?’ Taz, stern as ever, mutters in the mic “Ring the fucking bell…” Aw shit! That was killer!! 7. Sabu’s entrance music 8. New Jack playing Natural Born Killaz throughout every match. Also him hitting people with household items like NES’s and Sweepers 9. Um…Born to be Wired…seriously, it blew my mind. 10. Being able to watch ECW 2-3 times a week (our channel would rebroadcast Hardcore TV) with my Dad during my crappy High School years. It was the perfect escape for me J       Favorite Moves in WCW vs The World PS1 Game (sorry I’m in High School mode right now): 1. Top Rope Powerbomb 2. Steiner Screwdriver 3. Tiger Driver ‘91 4. Akira Maeda’s Capture Suplex when countering an opponent’s kick 5. Jumping DDT (Onita’s DDT) 6. Western Lariat (the best its ever looked in a video game…for reals) 7. Mil Masacara’s Headstand leg scissor takedown 8. Throwing German Suplex (Rick Steiner style) 9. Shinzaki’s Asai Moonsault where he’s praying mid-moonsault! 10. Hayabusa’s Firebird Splash (or whatever that animation is!) Honorable Mention: All strike combos that end in that cool KO animation J       Essential 80’s NJPW: 1. Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid 01/28/82 2. Maeda vs Fujinami 06/12/86 3. Koshinaka & Muto vs Maeda & Takada 03/20/87 4. 5 on 5 match 09/16/87 OR Hase vs Takada 03/11/88 (tie for me) 5. Inoki vs Fujinami 08/08/88       Essential Misawa vs Jumbo Feud AJPW: 1. 06/08/90 2. 09/30/90 3. 10/19/90 4. RWTL 12/07/90 5. 04/20/91       Other Essential Joshi: 1. Lioness vs Jaguar Yokota AND Chigusa vs Devil Masami 08/22/85 AJW 2. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW 3. Chigusa vs Lioness 02/26/87 AJW 4. Fire Jets vs Marine Wolves 1989 Tag League (?) 2/3 Falls AJW 5. Plum Mariko & Devil Masami vs Chigusa & Cuty Suzuki (11/18/93) JWP 6. Toyota & Hokuto vs K. Inoue & Yamada (both matches) 12/10/93 AJW 7. Ozaki, Plum & Cuty vs Dynamite Kansai, Devil & Chigusa - 2 Count match 01/1994 JWP 8. Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue vs Manami Toyota & Aja Kong 03/03/94 AJW 9. Aja Kong & Akira Hokuto vs Yumiko Hotta & Dynamite Kansai 08/24/94 AJW (24 years ago!?) 10. Manami Toyota vs Aja Kong 11/20/94 AJW       Essential Independent or Other Promotions of the 1990’s: 1. Onita & Tarzan Goto vs Kurisu & Dragonmaster Kendo Nagasaki 04/19/90 FMW 2. Onita vs Goto 02/26/91 FMW 3 Tenryu & Ishikawa vs Hashimoto & Choshu 04/02/93 WAR 4. The Headhunters vs Miguel Perez Jr. & W. Kanemura – Barbwire Cage Match 05/09/93 W*ING 5. Captain’s Fall Barbwire Bunkhouse Match 08/29/93 W*ING 6. Jinsei Shinzaki vs Great Sasuke 04/29/94 Michinoku Pro 7. Sasuke, Gran Hamada & Delfin vs Dick Togo, Men's Teioh & Shiryu 11/12/96 M-Pro 8. Sasuke, Hamada, Super Delfin, Gran Naniwa & Yakushiji vs. Togo, Men's, TAKA, Shiryu & Funaki 12/16/96 M-Pro 9. Yuki Ishikawa & Mohammed Yone vs Daisuke Ikeda & Ikuto Hidaka 06/20/99 BattlARTS 10. Ishikawa vs Ikeda 07/29/99 BattlARTS       Projects I’m Really Going to Get To in the Next 3 Months: 1. Pick back up AJPW Classics 1989-90 (I’ve got a DVD set thick enough to stop a .22) 2. Focus on AJPW 2011-2015 DVDs 3.  Assorted ROH & PWG DVDs from 2014 to 2016 along with some Young Bucks in PWG 4. Looking at some NJPW 1990 tag’s I’ve been wanting to see for YEARS 5. NJPW 1988 – couple discs of some goodies I keep putting off 6. Momoe Nakanishi DVD that I just can’t seem to remember that I have 7. NOAH 2007 – A small sampling, me thinks  8. I’d like to get into 95-98 FMW but, my two big YT sources have been shut down. I’ll scrape through perhaps. 9. I’ve been getting the urge to watch early 80’s AJ & NJ along with whatever AWA stuff I can find 10. More 2010 NJPW multi-mans, tags , and Jr. matches       Thank you very much for reading!!

G. Badger

G. Badger

Ring of Honor - Pure Title Revival - Part 5

A return to form for this week of the Pure Title tournament. We have Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams and Josh Woods vs PJ Black. Yehi vs Williams - Well, this was a great match and certainly the top 2 best matches of the tourney thus far. It was hard hitting and made good use of the rope breaks. This was one of the longer matches and am waiting to see this in full somewhere. A bit of an unexpected finish (it didn't go to a time limit draw like I thought was possible) and the winner was no who I picked. Nevertheless, both guys are winners in my book. We get another promo section this week. Here we get EC3's first appearance and damn he made an impression. His message was fantastic in content and delivery. I really recommend checking this out...it was chilling stuff especially with an empty arena. Then, we get a set up for a Shane Taylor Enterprises vs Briscoes/EC3 match. Who knows when but, that could be some fun stuff. Black vs Woods - Both guys had seconds which actually helped make this a louder match than we're used to. Silas was in Woods corner and Brian Johnson in PJ's. This was more on-the-mat than the Yehi/Williams match if you can believe that. I really liked it and thought it was pretty good stuff. I'll spoil it - Woods wins it. They must be really have a lot of faith in him for the future. That's good because he seems like he'll be loyal to ROH in the future. And after the Elite exodus and others going to AEW, they really need that. So, I'm gonna say who won the Williams-Yehi match now so, if you haven't seen it yet go watch it Then, come back.
OK so, here we go: In the Final Four we have Woods vs Gresham and Jay Lethal vs Hot Sauce. That is a little bit of a surprise but, not a giant one. I think the big revelation of today's show were the post match promos that start off the show. Lethal came out and addressed the elephant in the room of the finals being him vs Gresham...which felt like he was talking directly to my last blog post. SO, that means that it probably won't be Lethal Gresham in the finals Or may it will be a double fake-out and it will be Lethal vs Gresham! LOL I am thinking it will be Hot Sauce vs Gresham and that is based on Gresham's promo. He talks about being the foundation of ROH, and bringing the Pure Style back, and then somewhat confusingly says he's looking for stylistic freedom in wrestling (while knocking Sydal's high flying style...even though Sydal did one flip move per match). It was a mixed message I thought but, it was very similar to Hot Sauce's promo (which they re-broadcast) after he beat Rust Taylor. It was about bringing honor back to Ring of Honor. So, Tracy and Johnathan seem to have the same goal, message, agenda. That leads me to believe they are the pillars or Foundation in which they're building the Pure Division upon. Based on Woods' win/push and Yehi's performance, I think they can be included in that. I said it last week that Williams vs Gresham is good in my book. I was thinking Yehi was more likely but, they're rewarding Tracy for being a loyal worker. I'm down with that. Now, some more speculation and brainstorming...Perhaps The Foundation isn't just going to be Gresham's new gimmick but, will be a faction in ROH. I could see it being Gresham, Williams and Yehi as The Foundation. Although Gresham has been with ROH for a couple years along with Williams, they cut their teeth on wrestling this shoot style on the indies along with Yehi. This would also play into the ROH 6 man division which is always fun. Who knows...just throwing that out there. That might be something that happens down the road. I did like that Johnathan Gresham did talk about Sydal after his match. That gives me some confidence that we'll be seeing more of Sydal. I've mentioned Lethal vs Sydal but, perhaps Sydal and Lethal as a tag team? All in all this was a really good week of the show. I'm glad I kept some hope alive Yehi vs Williams is a must see for ROH TV as is the EC3 promo. Can't wait for next week! In the meantime, I'm going to try and type up my ROH Year One review that I've been working on in the background. Thanks for reading and stay safe!

G. Badger

G. Badger

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