I totally should have posted my AJW 09/02/95 show review TODAY instead of back in July...stupid!stupid!stupid!
But, fear not! I've found some AJPW matches from the spiraled notebook graveyard. I'll post my original comments then, see how I react today. We've first got some action from the 1989 Summer Action Series II tour taped 09/02/89 in Tokyo at Nippon Budokan!
Asia Tag Title Match: Danny Kroffat & Doug Furnas vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Samson Fuyuki- This match whew! It bit way too much off than it could chew. In a shocking manner, Kawada was the worst person in there. He didn't look comfortable at all. Kroffat too looked a bit restrained. But Jesus, Kawada looked so held back and God! I couldn't wait until he took the spinning heel kick out of his offense. This match is really hurt by loose execution in a sequence intensive match. ***3/4
*Well um...we're off to a shaky start with that. I gave it almost 4 stars but, made it sound like a steaming diaper load!? I probably would say now that, this match isn't as good as their 06/05/89 classic. Frankly, it seemed like they blew some moves but, still brought the intensity. I probably would enjoy this more now since I've been digging Aoyagi, Koshinaka matches.
Special Match: Jumbo Tsuruta vs Yoshiaki Yatsu - I liked this more the second time around as Yatsu really gave it his all and Jumbo as awesome as ever, made him look like a champ-to-be. If people doubt the greatness of Jumbo, then look at this one. It's a damn good match even though you know the outcome on paper. ****
*There's nothing wrong here although I would praise Yatsu a helluva lot more today. He's a really underappreciated wrestler who brings an arm full of effort, energy, and um...earnestness. We can see those traits from the Choshu-in -AJ period through the short lived SWS. (I know he was in NJ for a minute as well so, that'd be great to track down.) Jumbo gets props but, I'd much rather watch a Yatsu match nowadays.
Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (09/01/90) ****1/2+ In this match-up Misawa tries to use his elbow strikes to go toe-to-toe with Jumbo. He finds out that he's no Tenryu and gets a beatdown. It's not that Jumbo isn't really messed up by this attack but it's not enough to transition into a serious pinning predicament. Still Misawa uses his quickness & flying but not in conjunction with much other than his strikes. So Jumbo does what he can to shift momentum and work Green Jeans over. I would've liked I little more variety other than a elbow battle to make this 5 stars like some say but, still it's awesome but not like their match in June. Re-Watch: This is a pretty great match but stylistically I preferred the June match. Misawa tried to be Tenryu to Jumbo, you know to try and slug it out. Misawa had much greater effect with his flying moves but wanted to get the big shot in. In the end he got caught and flat out beat. Still I would have liked a match with more variety in offense since Misawa slung 40 elbows or so in this one.
*Yup, I'm not going to veer of course with this too much. Well, I may even take it down a notch if I were to rewatch today It seemed less dynamic than their June classic and just never hit me the same way. Of course, it may be more of the rough & tumble business that I've been favoring lately. It's a essential stepping stone in the feud and AJPW nonetheless. Maybe a rewatch is in order!
Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Akira Taue (09/04/91): Really great match with Kawada bringing the violence. The guys do some stuff they were using a year earlier like Taue's sumo slaps, well that's about it...Misawa's shoulder was really beat on here. Kawada could hold up in his absence though. He was hitting lariats to the front & back like a monster. His step kicks to Jumbo are especially vicious. In fact, Jumbo vs. Kawada are the best thing going here. It's not on the level of their 9/30 or 12/7/90 matches but is still awesome. And is the 3rd best tag match on here (Jumbo vs Misawa DVD set).
*Wow! This one took me by surprise as I don't necessarily recall this being a top tier bout. I totally believe my take on it but, this really is one that I truly forgot about, true believers! Definitely I'm going to rewatch this and the above match. I'll put my 2018 grumpy take-away remarks in the comments. Again, I prefer Yatsu over Jumbo anymore but, I know it'll be good.
Anyhow, fun memories dug up from my wire bound wrestling review resting place. Thanks!
This post is all about surfing Japanese YouTube channels and going off video thumbnails. What a find!
Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka vs Masashi Aoyagi & Akitoshi Saito (03/09/92): Keep an eye out for Too Cold during the entrances. Koshinaka & Saito engage in a fierce stare battle before the bell. Already this is good! Saito looks like a villain from a Jean Claude flick- Lionheart 2: Bloodsporting Kickboxer.
This thing starts and Karate takes over quickly. This is tornado tag rules- something we just don't get enough of nowadays. Kobayashi tears Aoyagi's gi like dollar store kleenex- fuck your traditions! Koshi & Saito are going at it as well. Anyone who thinks Shiro's hip attacks are lame needs to get a load of him here. He destroyed Akitoshi 's face. This is some fast & loose brawling. Kuniaki goes straight berserk at the end. Holy cow! The ref is checking on Saito and there's a stoppage. But it ain't done yet! This is chaotic as all get out! Very good to great match even. You gotta see this if you are fans of these guys. A very early FMW vibe here.
If this were only 1 match, it'd be OK but, then we get:
Akitoshi Saito vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (04/30/92): After the entrances, Sensei Aoyagi is in ring, suited up (literally), with a really old looking wooden board or tablet. Perhaps it is significant to he, Saito, or their dojo??? It appears that Koshinaka & Kuniaki have an envelope. I'm going to wager a guess that they're putting these things up as stakes. Winner takes all. I'd rather win the envelope...its probably cash or like nudie pics of their girlfriends or something. What are ya gonna do with an old board? Make a paint shelf in your garage?
Nevertheless, the crowd is hyped & the intensity is like the midday sun. Let's do this! The fighting is downright brutal- Sickeningly stiff! Saito is bleeding again- blood splatter on his gi, blood splatter on the camera lense! This is how you do it! Saito is hanging in there but, Kobayashi is like a demon. A karate kid throws in the towel but, immediately Aoyagi smacks him and calls bullshit! The fighting continues. Yes! This is not slick pretty wrestling. It is grisly uncooperative wrestling-as-combat. Double plus respect to both dudes. Great match
Shiro Koshinaka vs Masashi Aoyagi (05/01/92): Aoyagi wants that board back!!! They are at each other like two angry dogs- face kicks, punches, elbows, Koshi channeling Dr. Death backdrops etc. Aoyagi channels...shit, I dunno...Aoyagi? But the fucking gi comes off! Another great match to me. I don't wanna spoil anything.
You gotta see all three!
This is my 100th blog post! Yay!
So, I wanted to make it about something special. An overlooked wrestler, a series of great matches, or something like that. Of course that would take me starting from scratch and I’m just a little busy with my day job & life-things to deep dive into a theme. Damn you Go Shiozaki and Youtube for taking me down a path unfit for this milestone post. So, instead I decided to offer 100 tidbits to you the reader. What’s funny is that I thought it would be a time saver but, in fact it took a shit load of time. I probably could have watched 3-4 matches and gotten a review for each in the time it took me to scribble down & cross out my choices in my notebook. Then, I had to type them out! What a dummy!
I’ve got some top 10 and essential viewing lists but, these are by no means comprehensive. Somethings were omitted intentionally and others were omitted due to ignorance. I’ve seen a good bit of stuff but, not everything J Plus most are not in a particular order. “So, what F-ing use are they then!?” you say? Yeah, um see…it’s more like that’s the order that I thought of them in OR they’re chronological. The lists are almost like a peek into my wrestling brain. It’s a little rough and a little hazy at times but, hopefully, it gets you watching, reading, or thinking about different stuff.
Who I watch out for when Youtube Surfing:
1. Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) – Well-travelled team always get the best out of their foes.
2. The Headhunters – Agile big men always down for mixing garbage/hardcore wrestling with highspots
3. Togi Makabe – “Newer” guy brings old school flair, intensity, AND stiffness
4. Masashi Aoyagi – Karate man constantly kicking people and stirring shit up
5. Shiro Koshinaka – 100% effort and charisma wrestler, a utility man who can shine in all settings
6. Masahiro Chono- Trained by Thesz & Inoki, charismatic and believable despite limitations
7. Masa Kurisu – AJPW trained, got kicked out of FMW- yeah that’s right…
8. Kendo Nagasaki – AJPW and Stampede pedigree, early FMW and started BJW
9. Tarzan Goto – Notice a pattern?
10. Jun Kasai – Comedy, violence, sound wrestling ability, death defying leaps, and charismatic to boot!
Iconic Bumps or Moves:
1. RVD’s somersault senton from the top turnbuckle into the crowd versus Bam Bam Bigelow
2. Kawada taking Tiger Driver ’91 on 06/03/94
3. Masato Tanaka taking an Awesome Bomb through a table to the floor with enough momentum carry his head and neck underneath the guardrail.
4. Jun Akiyama riding Akira Taue’s skull off the apron on 01/22/06
5. Kawada getting German suplexed by Kobashi while ‘KO’d’ on 12/03/93
6. Inoki getting German suplexed by Vader, 01/04/96
7. Mr. Danger Matsugnaga’s somersault senton onto his opponent in a Barbwire Net Scaffold match (BJW 98?)
8. Onita shouting “Thunder-Fire-Power-bomb!” as he delivers said move to Hayabusa in the ’94 Cage retirement match
9. Sabu wrapping his legs in barbwire and then Leg dropping Terry Funk at Born to Be Wired, ECW
10. Akira Hokuto doing maybe the 1st reverse frankensteiner to Toyota, all dangerous joshi style too
Most Brutal Joshi Matches:
1. Lioness Asuka vs Yumiko Hotta 03/26/95 AJW
2. Yumiko Hotta vs Aja Kong 01/24/94 AJW
3. Aja Kong & Bison Kimura vs Grizzly Iwamoto & Bull Nakano 08/19/90 AJW
4. Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue vs Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda 08/09/97 AJW
5. Akira Hokuto vs Manami Toyota 09/02/95 AJW
6. Manami Toyota & Toshida Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki series (92-93) AJW
7. Akira Hokuto vs Shinobu Kandori (April & December 1993) AJW
8. Megumi Kudo vs Combat Toyoda 3/31/96 FMW
9. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW
10. Manami Toyota vs Karou Ito 08/09/97 AJW
Most Brutal Men’s Matches:
1. Sabu vs Sandman – Stairway to Hell match 1998 ECW
2. Jun Kasai vs Takashi Iizuka – Deathmatch TAKA Produce 2018
3. Kobashi vs Misawa 10/21/97 AJPW
4. The Rock vs Mankind - St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 1999 WWF
5. Cactus Jack vs Terry Funk – Duel of the Wilds 1995 IWA Japan
6. There’s some Tarzan Goto glass deathmatch in BJW 1998 or 99 where he carves a notch into Ono’s (I think) arm with a shard of glass.
7. Headhunters Glass Deathmatch 1995 IWA Japan
8. Masakatsu Funaki vs Tatsuo Nakano 08/24/89 UWF 2nd Stage
9. Onita’s main events in FMW (89-92)
10. Terry Funk vs Sabu Born to be Wired 1997 ECW
ECW Memorable Moments:
1. First time the Dudley’s did the Flaming table
2. Seeing Super Crazy vs Tajiri vs Travelling Luchador or Japanese Jr. vs Spike vs Little Guido vs Jerry Lynn every week
3. The “Catfights!!!!”
4. New Jack jumping off the back of a raised basketball hoop backboard through a table
5. Balls & Axl’s chair shots that bent the seats
6. Taz vs The Franchise rematch on TV where Franchise gives this speech about giving the fans a good match and sez ‘whaddaya say Taz?’ Taz, stern as ever, mutters in the mic “Ring the fucking bell…” Aw shit! That was killer!!
7. Sabu’s entrance music
8. New Jack playing Natural Born Killaz throughout every match. Also him hitting people with household items like NES’s and Sweepers
9. Um…Born to be Wired…seriously, it blew my mind.
10. Being able to watch ECW 2-3 times a week (our channel would rebroadcast Hardcore TV) with my Dad during my crappy High School years. It was the perfect escape for me J
Favorite Moves in WCW vs The World PS1 Game (sorry I’m in High School mode right now):
1. Top Rope Powerbomb
2. Steiner Screwdriver
3. Tiger Driver ‘91
4. Akira Maeda’s Capture Suplex when countering an opponent’s kick
5. Jumping DDT (Onita’s DDT)
6. Western Lariat (the best its ever looked in a video game…for reals)
7. Mil Masacara’s Headstand leg scissor takedown
8. Throwing German Suplex (Rick Steiner style)
9. Shinzaki’s Asai Moonsault where he’s praying mid-moonsault!
10. Hayabusa’s Firebird Splash (or whatever that animation is!)
Honorable Mention: All strike combos that end in that cool KO animation J
Essential 80’s NJPW:
1. Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid 01/28/82
2. Maeda vs Fujinami 06/12/86
3. Koshinaka & Muto vs Maeda & Takada 03/20/87
4. 5 on 5 match 09/16/87 OR Hase vs Takada 03/11/88 (tie for me)
5. Inoki vs Fujinami 08/08/88
Essential Misawa vs Jumbo Feud AJPW:
4. RWTL 12/07/90
Other Essential Joshi:
1. Lioness vs Jaguar Yokota AND Chigusa vs Devil Masami 08/22/85 AJW
2. Crush Gals & Ogura vs Dump, Leilani Kai & Crane – 2/3 Falls (Mid 80’s?) AJW
3. Chigusa vs Lioness 02/26/87 AJW
4. Fire Jets vs Marine Wolves 1989 Tag League (?) 2/3 Falls AJW
5. Plum Mariko & Devil Masami vs Chigusa & Cuty Suzuki (11/18/93) JWP
6. Toyota & Hokuto vs K. Inoue & Yamada (both matches) 12/10/93 AJW
7. Ozaki, Plum & Cuty vs Dynamite Kansai, Devil & Chigusa - 2 Count match 01/1994 JWP
8. Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue vs Manami Toyota & Aja Kong 03/03/94 AJW
9. Aja Kong & Akira Hokuto vs Yumiko Hotta & Dynamite Kansai 08/24/94 AJW (24 years ago!?)
10. Manami Toyota vs Aja Kong 11/20/94 AJW
Essential Independent or Other Promotions of the 1990’s:
1. Onita & Tarzan Goto vs Kurisu & Dragonmaster Kendo Nagasaki 04/19/90 FMW
2. Onita vs Goto 02/26/91 FMW
3 Tenryu & Ishikawa vs Hashimoto & Choshu 04/02/93 WAR
4. The Headhunters vs Miguel Perez Jr. & W. Kanemura – Barbwire Cage Match 05/09/93 W*ING
5. Captain’s Fall Barbwire Bunkhouse Match 08/29/93 W*ING
6. Jinsei Shinzaki vs Great Sasuke 04/29/94 Michinoku Pro
7. Sasuke, Gran Hamada & Delfin vs Dick Togo, Men's Teioh & Shiryu 11/12/96 M-Pro
8. Sasuke, Hamada, Super Delfin, Gran Naniwa & Yakushiji vs. Togo, Men's, TAKA, Shiryu & Funaki 12/16/96 M-Pro
9. Yuki Ishikawa & Mohammed Yone vs Daisuke Ikeda & Ikuto Hidaka 06/20/99 BattlARTS
10. Ishikawa vs Ikeda 07/29/99 BattlARTS
Projects I’m Really Going to Get To in the Next 3 Months:
1. Pick back up AJPW Classics 1989-90 (I’ve got a DVD set thick enough to stop a .22)
2. Focus on AJPW 2011-2015 DVDs
3. Assorted ROH & PWG DVDs from 2014 to 2016 along with some Young Bucks in PWG
4. Looking at some NJPW 1990 tag’s I’ve been wanting to see for YEARS
5. NJPW 1988 – couple discs of some goodies I keep putting off
6. Momoe Nakanishi DVD that I just can’t seem to remember that I have
7. NOAH 2007 – A small sampling, me thinks
8. I’d like to get into 95-98 FMW but, my two big YT sources have been shut down. I’ll scrape through perhaps.
9. I’ve been getting the urge to watch early 80’s AJ & NJ along with whatever AWA stuff I can find
10. More 2010 NJPW multi-mans, tags , and Jr. matches
Thank you very much for reading!!
The final installment of my 2006 NOAH Navigation. It is pretty stacked so let’s get on with it!
Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura (11/17): To be up front, I was not excited about this match. 3 out of 4 of the guys are good only in tags or short matches so, I’m tuning in for Takeshi M. Frankly, this starts out bland as unsalted popcorn. Even the Korakuen krowd were not into this! Business eventually picks up and this is actually fun to watch. Wait a minute! This is actually something I’d recommend to fellow Morishima Maniacs…damn this just gets better & better. False Finishes & saves abound! It’s a blast! Both teams really worked their butts off to put on a great match. It wasn’t really deep or anything but, their effort really made this something special.
Shinjiro Otani, Kazunari Murakami & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi (12/02): Akiyama vs Otani is dream match-up stuff to me. I’m excited. Also I’ll say that I miss Makoto Hashi. He was a tough impactful scrapper type of guy. Sort of a utility wrestler who go in any spot he needed to. I will say that I don’t miss his bouncy bosom though :I Its here in full effect but, shit he gets hardway juice from a Murakami headbutt and gets his face eliminated by Otani so, jiggle away my man!
In all seriousness, this is some very nice 6 man wrestling. Once Akiyama gets in there to save Hashi, this opens up like a cheap bag of chips. Akiyama is directing rush hour traffic here and it’s wonderful. Guys are going everywhere, Hashi’s bleeding from the head and mouth- this is Sterness vs Zero-1 for sure! This never steps outside of it’s place on the card and that is a testament to Otani & Akiyama. It’s something I’d highly recommend checking out.
KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (12/02): 2006 methodical surgeon, Bryan Danielson? Yes, please! Oh man it’s been awhile seeing Dragon work this style and it is a joy. He takes the reigns here and forces KENTA to restrain himself- both real and in-ring. This is brilliant because it only magnifies KENTA’s explosive ferocity. When he gets an opening, he’s like a Tasmanian Devil. That being said, this is more of a dry athletic contest than their ROH title fight in October. I could watch this forever though. It was really perfectly executed and perfectly matched competitors. For that I’d say it was a near classic encounter and should be watched right along with their others.
I will say this style really shows the limitations of KENTA however. He doesn’t seems to really add much of anything different to the bout despite this being a different style. He just does his thing when he gets a chance. This is OK but, it does really show that Danielson (and Marufuji indirectly) are superior workers. Nonetheless, these two work so well together, it was just an awesome competetive match.
Takeshi Morishima vs Go Shiozaki (12/10): This starts really solid with Go being like 1995 Jun Akiyama. Morishima is a generous fellow here but, that soon wears thin. Its time to show Go who’s the Tag Champ. This is over way too soon for my liking but, got the point across with both guys. Recommend this match to fans of either.
Akira Taue, Mushiking Terry, Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs SUWA, TARU, Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI (12/10): This is a fine match to show friends and loved one who are used to traditional heel/babyface dynamics. Taue is the man in this and the younger babyfaces bring all kinds of fireworks when its their time to shine. The heels are dastardly and feed the faces at just the right times. This is fun, fun stuff for non-fans and wrestler dorks alike
Naomichi Marufuji vs Mitsuharu Misawa (12/10): GHC belt is on the line. A quick cardio opening shows us that not only can Misawa go but, much better than his peers (see 03/05 & 04/23 Marufuji matches). ‘Fuji baits Misawa to gain control and locks in a fierce stepover facelock. Misawa again uses his elbows to create space but, the champ is using his brain and is damn quick. He focuses in on the challenger’s legs like a laser. Naomichi is almost heelish in his ruthlessness. Misawa calls for the ref to break Marufuji on two occasions. This appeal to the official is a clear departure from the collected Mitsuharu of youth. Further, Naomichi seems to welcome the legendary elbow strikes. He’s proving that Misawa is no longer the invulnerable hero & that he IS the rightful holder of the GHC championship. Of course, our Emerald Hero finds an opening and hits back hard. He has to or this is going to be over before it begins. They’re both wounded and desperate- shit gets good!
An organic, excellently executed and paced bout. The escalation of violence and the moves chosen have contextual significance. They wrestlers don’t just do things because that’s when they’re supposed to do the big moves. Additionally, the omission of some key attacks are also significant. The finish was just fantastic as well- Very reminiscent of Hansen/Kobashi 07/93 in my opinion. It felt like a struggle up until the end. And let’s be honest- that’s how it is supposed to be! The fans storm the barricades after the bell like White Walkers at Hardhome. Classic match man.
Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Takashi Sugiura (12/23): GHC Jr. belt on a SEM show. SEM was (is?) like a 205 Live of NOAH shows. This is fought like a NJPW NEVER championship match. Seriously…stiff as a starched shirt, good power moves, and transitions of control based on toughness/powering through more than finding openings. Sugiura eventually has to use his Cro-Magnon brain to save himself from the Japanese Karl Pilkington Terminator. But damn if, Sugiura isn’t a beast himself. Holy Shit! No doubt this would be a 4.5-5 star match if this were in NJ today. I’ve watch a nice chunk of the G1 and this fits right alongside the touted matches from the tour. Likewise, I don’t think it was classic stuff nor even a great match on the whole. It WAS a great display of toughness & neck-death though! Highly recommended.
Pro Wrestling NOAH 2006 is completed in my books! Woo-hoo! It’s been one of those watch-projects that I’ve been putting off for about 3-4 years. I had seen a few matches that I really dug back then and heard about on the NOAH USA website. Plus this year was really strong in various opinion polls and boards. So, I got a few DVDs with the purpose of watching the stuff that seemed most interesting to me but, like all of us, got sidetracked.
I think what was most interesting was that I realized I hadn’t seen a Misawa singles match in probably a couple years. That is so strange considering he was ubiquitous in my formative puro watching years and even in those early NOAH explorations. So, I was pleasantly surprised with his classic bouts against Morishima & Marufuji. He really still had “IT” in 2006. Unsurprisingly, Morishima & Marufuji’s stock went up with me as well. I’ve always liked them but, they had some high quality performances this year. Naomichi especially shone bright. I think his big push to be champion was well deserved despite it being so short. Takeshi Morishima had one classic singles match but, felt like the glue and future star of NOAH in 2006. KENTA is one person whose stock fell a little bit. He seemed really one dimensional. It’s a good dimension to have in pro-wrestling but, other than his match with Danielson, he didn’t show a lot of variety. This is not terrible since he frequently brings the intensity of the Sun at noon in the middle of July. Still, I would put him below Marufuji & Morishima at this point. This is a big shift in perspective for me since KENTA was near the top of my list for the 2000’s for a long time. He’s most likely top 10-15 still but, that’s still a downgrade. Also want to mention Taue & Akiyama being really fantastic as well. 2006 was about the elevation of the Marufuji, KENTA, and Morishima so, these two legends played a great supporting part in that as well as delivering some standout performances both in singles and tags.
I want to see what ’07-’09 holds although probably not as in depth. I’m really interested to see Go Shiozaki develop to challenge Morishima, KENTA, & Marufuji. Sugiura gets pushed but, that seemed to be out of necessity than talent. I’m hoping that he gets a bit better in crafting his matches since he does play a big role in the GHC title later in the decade. Also, I want to see more of Taiji Ishimori. I remember not really caring for him at the time but, in today’s puro climate he’s relatively moderate.
Top 5 Matches of the Year:
KENTA vs N. Marufuji 01/22
KENTA vs K. Kobashi 03/05
T. Morishima vs M. Misawa 03/05
N. Marufuji vs KENTA 10/29
N. Marufuji vs M. Misawa 12/02
Biggest Letdown: N. Marufuji vs K. Kobashi 04/23
Misawa/Akiyama vs Takayama/Sasaki 07/16
Shiozaki/Taue vs Shibata/KENTA 09/09
Morishima/Yone vs Rikio/Sugiura 11/17
2006 Akira Taue in general
Big take away from this venture- 2006 NOAH is comparable to contemporary NJPW in my eyes. The crowd excitement, atmosphere & presentation may not be as slick as NJ but, the quality and style is very similar. I’ve said this in various reviews yet, I think it’s worth stating again especially coming of the 2018 G1 tournament where people raved about similar or lesser matches. Seriously…go back to NOAH 2006, it’s just as good or better.
So, I decided to make this a 4 parter after all. There was way more NOAH that I wanted to watch than I thought. So, this installment will cover July to October. There's a ton of stuff at the very end of the year so, I figure that can have its own entry.
Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima vs Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (07/16/06): This is a tremendously exciting match where they did a sprint without going over board with moves or sequences. Morishima vs. KENTA was of course the sweetest thing here but Rikioh was a good partner for him while Marufuji was um not as good as could as he could have been. He was best during the double team segments but his super complex spots were just silly in a hard-hitting match like this. It helped that Rikioh usually made 'Fuji pay for his trickiness. Once the match picked up both were pretty awesome in their roles as back-ups. A good way to get past Marufuji is to consider him as this generation's Yoshinari Ogawa: weak strikes but speedy, crafty & exciting. It harkens back to the late 80s/early 90s when you didn't need to kill the guy to have a great match. The main difference is that Marufuji indulges in the unnecessary or esoteric where Ogawa "Keeps It Simple Stupid." There are some cock-ups that keep this from being a classic encounter. The stuff with KENTA & Morishima was awesome. Great match
Jun Akiyama & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kensuke Sasaki & Yoshihiro Takayama (07/16/06): Takayama return dream match. Kensuke is filling in for the ill Kobashi. Everyone looked really good in this hard hitting, action filled NOAH big time tag match. They didn't exactly empty their tanks but, fantastic effort and nice Kobashi tribute spots helped make this a great match. 16 minutes in duration. This doesn't get the talk like the Kobashi return but, man this is still a nice dream bout. It delivers like Dominoes, fool! ...man, that's lame. Ah screw it, I'm going with it!
Katsuyori Shibata & KENTA vs Akira Taue & Go Shiozaki (09/09/06): Shibata starts with Taue and gets all karate on the old timer. Taue is like, "Fuck yo' karate, man!" Yes! Akira Taue don't fake the funk, Shibata or not. This reminds me of when Baba would fight Tenryu in a 6 man match. Tenryu (like Shibata) would open a can of whoop ass on Baba...to the extent that Baba might get hurt. But! It would only turn Grandpa Baba into Badass Baba who would just hit some indignant mean ass chops and neckbreakers. So, yeah this is Taue. Everything is up in the air with this puppy. A slept on great match. 15 minutes of action.
Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji (09/09/2006): GHC belt is on the line. Spoiler in this review so, skip to end of this if you'd like to see this match. I've come to like this match a bit more than when I first saw it. I "get" 'Fuji now and the look on their faces after the bell is rung for the win is timeless. Marufuji is elated and Akiyama while upset has got a grin on his face like, "I can't believe he beat me without beating me." The thing is Akiyama in AJ held the same spot Marufuji does...the guy who got elevated quick and has to take his lumps in the ring but is damn athletic & damn talented. The ring work is mostly spots akin to a RVD/Jerry Lynn match so; it's entertaining and amazing but also not capable of "greatness." Akiyama is like Jerry Lynn in giving the match a skeleton from which to operate. It's more like, "Did you see that move? I can't believe he did that!" Still it's really fun and probably a neat way to start someone out on puroresu especially someone who's younger and wants to see wrestling instead of crud. It bit off more than it could chew at times but it's still quite good. Highly recommended
KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (ROH 09/16/2006): ROH title match. This probably is the closest thing to prime 90's junior puroresu that we'll see in the United States. Both men brought everything to the match- intensity, stiffness, psychology, & pacing. The only reason it's not rated any higher is because there is some noticeable stalling, especially for the top rope moves. When put in comparison to the rest of that night's card & ROH in general, this flaw is barely noticeable. In an era where legends are fading away and style is valued over substance, it is reassuring that wrestlers like KENTA & Danielson are out there. This match had its goofy American-indy moments and the aforementioned stalling but, its greatness cannot be diminished. In a post-Baba, post-Misawa world, this is required viewing.
Jun Akiyama vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (10/13/06): Jun's in his old AJ gear. This is a pretty entertaining match where Jun destroyed Kikuchi and that gravel throated bastard shows how tough he is. I'd recommend this if you're coming home after a long day at work and you wanna grab a beer, a sandwich, and some simple but, entertaining wrestling.
Naomichi Marufuji vs KENTA (10/29/06): Title match ya'll. This certainly wasn't your typical NOAH main event and looked so far away from traditional AJPW it was astonishing. This style they were wrestling or maybe always wrestle with is more a derivative of Michinoku Pro or even Ring of Honor than AJPW. It's no secret that both were in the midst of their ROH touring and which direction the influence rubbed off...well, I debate that with myself sometimes. They always seem to want to go back to the spectacular spots which is unfortunately the legacy of their seniors but hopefully is not the legacy that 90's AJPW has left the wrestling world. To speak more specifically about KENTA & Marufuji, they are Junior wrestlers not apt to use deep tactics in their offense. They play with the idea but, tend to go for the high-impact moves when push comes to shove. With all of that said, this was an excellent display of skill & athleticism and even a bit of psychology. Of course, they didn't sell it once it was time to do the spots but neither did 90% of the great NJPW Jr. wrestlers. So with that in mind, like many of the great Jr. matches the work done cannot be denied it's due.
Re-Watch: I'd have to say this stands up with the best Jr. matches that NJ produced. Seriously, I can only think of a couple matches that were as satisfying as this one. Granted I don't know as much about stories in NJ as I do with Noah but, from a wrestling standpoint this was pretty awesome and about as good as you can get. So, I go back to a point that I made in a post on the main page that the 2000 Juniors were more influenced by NJPW Jrs. There was a little overkill at times but they brought it back so that the finish was believable and logical. If you could shave 5 minutes of it would have been better but, as it stands it's still fantastic and one of the better matches that the 2000's had. I'd keep the rating and call it the Jr. version of Misawa/Kobashi 03/01/03. Not the BEST but, still a classic.
Whew! Some heavy hitters this round! Last but not least, November and December in part 4. Thank you for reading! Hope this helps you get excited to watch wrestling.
Installment numero dos por la lista de la lucha libre NOAH en 2006. No idea if that is correct. It sounds sorta right. Spanglish perhaps. I took a lot of Spanish in middle school, high school, and university. That's all I've got left. Terrible. Absolutely terrible. And I blame myself really. I'm not going to claim that the 'system' failed me or such nonsense. I was an average student in middle school. High school, I actually did really well. Well enough that my college courses in Spanish were after thoughts really. In fact, I got an A on a test that I studied only 30 minutes for! Plus I had a bad case of diarrhea!
On to the wrestling!!!
KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji (01/22/06): GHC Jr. belt is on the line, KENTA defending that. From the first few minutes, we can see why Misawa & co. pushed Marufuji ahead of KENTA. Naomichi has a brain for crafting a match whereas KENTA chooses his opportunities for spots and kick assaults. This starts with Mr. K doing just that until it's Marufuji's chance to take the match. Here he uses his agility and brains to attack his opponent's leg. Sure, that's run of the mill in 2006 but, his flair for offense make this something special to watch.
Eventually, KENTA comes back and blows through his moves, not once showing that 'Fuji did damage. Now, I'd like to think that 'Fuji realizes that his game plan of hobbling the champ has failed. Plan B is to go for the knockout. Maybe Maybe Not? The fact that they never return to the leg gives some credence to that story. From here on out, we get a competitive, explosive Jr. title fight. Each man having the same plan - go for broke. I like that Marufuji still keeps his wits about him and tries pinning combinations in the middle of a fire fight. KENTA on the other hand is fully on the warpath. An honest NOAH Jr. classic and more streamlined than their better known October match. This may be the superior encounter.
Yoshinari Ogawa vs Takeshi Rikio (03/05/06): Ogawa gets the jump on Rikio but, the big man can squash the Rat Boy in an instant. So, the vet needs to use all the tricks he can muster to stay alive & maybe pick up the victory. This isn't quite a comedy match but, dang if Ogawa isn't funny! Totally different match for '06 NOAH plus it's under 10 minutes. Go watch this!
Akira Taue vs Naomichi Marufuji (03/05/06): Taue is limber as the Tin Man in the early goings. Seriously, Marufuji is doing like 85% of the moving! He eventually loosens up or perhaps I'm just used to it because this gets good. I'm talking about clever cut-offs and shoot holds from outta nowhere by both competitors. The finish works perfectly as well. 15 minute match that may be Taue's final standout singles match. It's a goodie and surprising since Taue doesn't always work well with others. Highly recommended and perhaps a Great match for the books. I think it really does stand the test of time.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs Takeshi Morishima (03/05/06): Takeshi brutalizes Misawa. Plain and simple. But, Misawa is always selling that fact. He's not trying to be a tough guy...acting like it doesn't hurt or that he's unbeatable. It's easy to see this as skill especially after watching a load of 2010s stuff. Misawa may have been one of the most dominant aces in puro but, man did it look like he was in trouble often. He's selling the moves but, also the story they're trying to tell. This bout was no different.
I'm guessing he told 'Shima to go nuts but, when I come back hard, you've gotta push even harder. So, Morishima is absolutely barbaric with his Vader forearm shots & lariats. So, when Misawa gets his opportunity to turn the tide, he busts out. Picturesque tope elbow where Misawa just dives into the void. But, the big TM unloads with suplexes from H-E-L-L!!! But then, it's on more than Donkey Kong. That is how you strike battle!! Berserker mode Misawa is something the youngster didn't expect. Can the bloodied behemoth defeat the hero & legend? Classic match in my book.
Kenta Kobashi vs KENTA (03/05/06): I believe this was the final Old Guard vs New Generation match from this show and at 22 minutes, this was about as perfect as the NOAH Ark style gets. A mash of hard as oak strikes and spine smashing suplexes. I cannot believe that I hadn't seen this earlier. I cannot recommend watching this back to back with the Misawa/Morishima bout. It's a little too much honestly. I think the impact of the fights will be lessened if watching these sequentially. That's my opinion Classic NOAH.
Taiji Ishimori vs KENTA (04/23/06): Title Fight! A damn impressive fireworks match. Ishimori is like a ninja or something here. Of course Kenta Kobayashi comes with the kicks! My reservation with calling this a great match is the lack of storytelling. KENTA's Jr. Champ and we wants to keep the title as well as prove that he's a worthy threat to the heavyweights. Ishimori is a recent roster addition who's looking to make a name for himself here. That certainly came through but, it didn't reach it's dramatic potential. The selling of fatigue or injury was minimal here and that hurt the bout. For as gnarly as the moves looked, they could have taken this a lot further had they put over the moves. Nevertheless, this was a really exciting fight but lacked a certain depth akin to a G1 match perhaps. I'd highly recommend it for those looking for a 20 minute move fest. We all need one of those now and again
Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenta Kobashi (04/23/06): I certainly appreciated Marufuji doing legwork but, it was as feather soft as his hair. I did not like this segment save a few moves. This got good once Kobashi took over and Maru had to make his big dive comeback. It looks like Kobashi got hit in the eye, perhaps...Whatever! Take it Marufuji! Kobashi is gonna kill you! :@ Good start and strong finish but, the middle is kinda like unflavored Quaker Oats. It's gotten a lot of talk in the past so, I'll still recommend it.
KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji & Taiji Ishimori vs Low Ki, SUWA & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (05/19/06): 23 minutes of NOAH Junior mania in Korakuen Hall. They displayed near flawless execution at a machine gun pace. Certainly, extended selling is out of the question but, for sheer athleticism and technical percision, this is is your ticket! This IS what earns 5 stars from Dr. Dave and the Academy nowadays. So, if chronological relativism is an argument as to why matches today are getting 4.5-6 stars then, I present this match. This did not receive those ratings and in fact, I've never heard of this match before surfing the 'Tube. However, this thing does stand the test of 12 years time. I think it's a great match and not a classic BUT if the modern INDY or NJ style is your cup of tea then, check this out. This might be a great introduction into mid 2000's NOAH for you. Great match
OK so, that's all for now but, Part 3 will wrap up the 2nd half of 2006. It's been a doozy thus far
Pro Wrestling NOAH was probably the first puro promotion that I actively followed in "real time." They had an English language website, top talent appearing on ROH DVDs, and of course Misawa, Akiyama, Taue & Kobashi. Having never seen any of their 5 star classics, keeping tabs on NOAH was the closest thing for me at the time. They had great photos of fights & a nice archive of results. Looking back, I think I got in at the tail end of their golden period in 2006. However, it wasn't until years later that I got to see the actual matches from that year. I'd like to sort of pull back from the 2010's for a bit and this seems like a good start...even if it is just 4 years earlier
Naomichi Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki vs KENTA & Ricky Marvin (01/08/06): This match was just what I wanted. It was really quick and right on point with execution. The middle segment controlling Marvin and breaking apart his knees fell a little flat because the crowd wasn't really buying it. Marvin was screaming though which was a nice touch. Of course, as most of his offense is dependant upon his legs, the long term selling of the damage wasn’t great. Still, he limited his activity to one or two bursts of energy. Plus he did hobble and slow his running down…so I think this was more of an “audience not getting it” situation. Ricky did what he needed to in order to keep up the excitement level but not brush off the damage. The small town fans just wanted to see Marufuji and KENTA. They were not disappointed.
Akira Taue vs Jun Akiyama - (GHC Title) (01/22/06): This was as fantastic as it needed to be. It was very brutal in the spot oriented match sense. Two of my Dad’s least favorite (in a sense) wrestlers murdering one another. It was fun to show him this one! This was quite gruesome at times especially when there were a couple occasions where I thought each guy was crippled. Still, I admire both guys and it warmed my heart when people were cheering for Taue at the opening. Here we saw Akiyama as dominant ace...if only for a moment. Yeah NOAH, yeah! Great match
Low Ki vs Kotaro Suzuki (02/17/06): A fun Junior contest between two guys who are brilliant on offense. Their defense was less than developed although Low-Ki showed an avenue of genius. Still this was a fun, highly athletic and competitive bout. Ki was going to win because he out ranked Kotaro but, it was dramatic and exciting.
Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Takeshi Morishima, KENTA & Mohammed Yone (02/17/06): Oh sweet Jeebus this match was all kinds of fun. It was a drag with Yone as the crowd seemed to collapse when he was in there, the same with Honda & Kanemaru too for that matter. Eventually, it turned into K-Hall pandemonium. It was as if the Funks with Jumbo were fighting Abby, the Sheik and Brody. I never thought that they’d get back in the ring! The highlight and focus was KENTA vs. Kobashi, they brought Budokan level stiffness for sure. Oh my goodness this was brutal. Eventually, Honda and Kanemaru were getting hot and Morishima was pure ruler here too. I mean, Morishima vs. Kobashi seemed just as great. If they could have held the excitement in the slow parts in the beginning, this would have been one of those secret Korakuen gems. It’s one of those matches where Kobashi is Mr. Puro!
Austin Aries vs KENTA (ROH 06/24/06): My formal introduction to the awesome talents of Austin Aries and KENTA and boy, is this a match! Just an athletic Jr. weight match that is so damn stiff at just the right times. And the crowd is electric and both guys just eat it up and go for broke. The commentators make note that they’re mirror images and I was thinking, “Now let’s get real…” but, man Aries is great here and matches the future Mr. Itami. This truly may be one of Aries' best bouts. A proper "swing for the fences" match with a great enthusiastic crowd. Nice build, great crowd reactions, beautiful execution; just an awesome match…this is an overlooked ROH classic. I loved it the first time I saw it but, was surprised just how good it is on the rewatch. See this if you want to remember who KENTA was!
More 2006 NOAH rewind to come! Gonna try to be a chronologically consistent as I can Thanks!
So, this little project came about by searching for Tanaka vs Makabe matches on YouTube. How I got to that is a bit of a mystery. If I had to guess, I'd say it was out of curiosity alone. I don't think I found a singles encounter on the 'tube. However, there was a crap ton of tags available. Investigation revealed that a whole chunk of house show matches from the Fall of 2010 were recorded and uploaded by NJPW. These matches show some of the early battles between NJ main roster & CHAOS.
CHAOS is or perhaps was one of the most popular stables but, it is a splinter group from Togi Makabe (Tenzan was originally leader) Great Bash Heel (Great Big Head, Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH) group. Nakamura staged a coup (he was an outsider who agitated the GBH members) and ousted Makabe (Honma sided with Makabe). So here we see an alliance of Makabe with Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto to combat Nakamura and his group of badasses. This begins about right after when Togi Makabe wins the IWGP Heavyweight title in May 2010.
This series of matches reminds me of 1996 Michinoku Pro or 1990 AJPW tag matches. We have roughly the same parties for each encounter but, its exciting and interesting every time. Or at least to me I'll list full names as they first appear but, will use last names after that.
Let's do the wrestling!!!
Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito & Yujiro Takahashi (05/08/10): 10 man fight, alrighty then! This could be a mess but, everyone really clicks and no interactions overstay their welcome. Inoue really shines in this match. That maybe surprising since he's been off most fans radars since day one but, he brings it here. He's the Kikuchi on the NJ squad. A very excellent start where we learn that anyone can lose and anything can end it. Again, very M-Pro like or lucha like. Highly recommended
Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto vs Nakamura, Tanaka & Ishii (09/04/10): Seemingly an upgrade but, a hair below the previous match in quality. It should be checked out nonetheless. Goto & Nakamura get into a mat scramble that leads to them fighting after a tag. The ref has to break them up and Shinsuke spits at Goto's feet. Very nasty stuff. Also, Takahashi and Nakamura's work together was subtle but very good. It reminded me of Misawa and Kawada in their 6 man matches. The work was organic to the point where it was understood that this was only one battle in a much larger war. So, Nakamura really excelled here but, Makabe the champ did as well. When he came in like a fucking berserker at the end, I was loving it! He sure as hell looked like the World Champ to me. 14 minutes of great wrestling.
Tanahashi & Makabe vs Tanaka & Satoshi Kojima (09/10/10): Not sure if Kojima is CHAOS affiliated here. There was some good action but, Kojima & Tanaka's bland knee focused offense hurt this match. Generally, predestrian match. There are a couple other Kojima matches that I avoided because of this one. Too bad because I do like Kojima but, I feel like he may have lost "it" by this point.
Nakamura, Naito & Takahashi vs Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto (09/19/10): Naito was first introduced to me as part of No Limit with Takahashi on TNA when they were fighting Motorcity Machine Guns for the IWGP Jr. belts. That was cool that TNA was having Japanese talent on TV. That's how I first saw Tanahashi too. Anyhow, Jr. team are with Shinsuke tonight to take on the NJ A-Team. Tana works the crowd up from the start. I get the feeling that this is a smaller, less hardcore crowd as they're all very pro Tanahashi. He starts of with some nice wrestling with Naito but, we soon get Goto & Naka which leads to a slow Tanahashi babyface in danger segment. Now, the ACE is pretty darn good in peril but, this felt a bit more lethargic then the previous encounters. Again, I chalk it up to the venue/event/crowd size. Goto & Nakamura get back into it and that leads to the hot stretch to a finish portion. It's a recommended match as it stokes the feud's fire but, it's a little formulaic. Hey, the 90-92 Misawa/Jumbo 6 mans went there a few times too (Not that this is on THAT level) ;P
Tanaka & Ishii vs Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (11/03/10): Wished we got some stuff from October but, maybe that was the Kojima stuff I skipped. Anyhow, this is from the G1 Tag League. There are some expected long strike exchanges that hurt the flow of the match but, this was a nice battle nonetheless. The real standout was Tanaka. He nearly beats the GBH remenants on his own and goes straight psycho-killer on the Unchained Gorilla Makabe on the floor. I'd highly recommend this match to Dangan fans for sure!
Ok so now we get a little Jr. participation. I want to go in depth on this series at another date but, here is a little taste as it fits into the timeline very well.
Inoue, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs Nakamura, Naito & Davey Richards (11/19/10): Yup, Davey was in NJ for a year or two. I totally forgot about it but, thought it was a great move for him at the time. He really should have focused more on a career in Japan. That being said, this had good reason to be a train wreck as I'm wasn't confident in Davey's ability to work with the NJ natives. Sure, he had NOAH experience but, he usually was on a gaijin team. I was expecting some bungling but, nope! This was some fast paced magic. Davey was great yelling shit in English too Taguchi though...damn. 13 minutes of action.
Naito, Takahashi & Richards vs Tanahashi, Taguchi & Devitt (11/27/10): Naito taking Tanahashi to the canvas and grappling is something to always I'll enjoy. Frankly, if Tanahashi scrapped the leg focus stuff and was a matworker like Osamu Nishimura yet threw in his highspots, I'd probably be a giant fan of his. That being said, his performance in this series has made me a bit of a convert. Also my Ryusuke Taguchi appreciation continues to grow. Um, I don't have too many notes on the action as I really dug this one. Davey is in there more often than the previous encounter and it works well. He and Apollo 55 go at it. Tanahashi finally goes Super Saiyan and unloads. It really means something though as he has not needed to do so until now. There really is something to NOT doing big moves all of the time. I think the ACE is as guilty as anyone from what I've seen but, in this series (and because these are mainly house shows) he has showed the restraint and discernment of a true veteran. Great match
Tanahashi, Makabe & Manabu Nakanishi vs Tanaka, Yano & Nakamura (12/02/10): Maybe it was Yano being back in the mix but, this was another really good 6 man. Nakanishi played his caveman part well and added a nice dynamic at this point in the series. Admittedly, these are running together especially, as Makabe and Tanaka aren't changing their routine up too much. But, it's all good. This feud is giving me a WAR vs NJ vibe. Sweet finish, highly recommended match.
Nakamura, Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & Inoue (12/04/10): This venue looks like the classic Michinoku Pro gym from the 90's. It's not but, I think I'm wanting to be. This feud/program has been just so much fun. This one starts with Tana vs Tranquilo-to-be on the mat but quickly has all 8 men fighting. Wataru taking on Nakamura- hells yes, dude! Obviously, it doesn't work out in the end and CHAOS isolate and destroy. When, Togi Makabe gets that tag, watch out! The man cleans house. He lariats the shit out of Tanaka but, payback is a bitch. Tana's still killing it and when Yuji Nagata comes in like a MF-ing veteran- holy shit! Insane stretch run and fantastic finish. Great, great match.
Makabe & Honma vs Nakamura & Tanaka (12/05/10):I love the single floor camera that most of these matches feature. It is great for this type of stuff as you can hear how hard the blows are & you're ringside and even in the middle of the action. You wouldn't belive these are house shows based off how hard they are going at it. Dangan and the Gorilla do their routine but, again it fucking works. Its so intense and you never can tell if there's gonna be a twist. Their brawling outside and after the bell is just pure pro wrestling. And damn 2010 Nakamura is the optimal version to me. I like the Beat It tribute act but, there's something about the straight forward confidence of this character. Another great match.
In conclusion, these small show mathces put things back into perspective. Most fans especially overseas only really get the opportunity or make the time to watch the BIG shows and BIG matches. Myself included. We compare Big Show A to Big Show B (not Paul Wight). But, damn, it's these gems in between that are where it's at to me. There's no excessive finishers or kickouts or resthold masking as psychology. There's only enough time to get your simple but, engaging story across. Its 15-20 minutes of a struggle, of "fighting." This batch of matches felt like Choshu-Tenryu style for the 21st century. Who knows if they're still doing this or if this really was just the rare product of having so much talent peaking in the ring.
This has been probably my longest blog entry so, if you've made it this far. I want to mention where my next little exploration into NJ from nearly a decade ago is going. I think the start of the resurgence in interest in NJ was with the influx of gaijin Jrs. like Devitt, Omega, Shelley/Sabin, Romero & Koslov and others (Davey & Low-Ki for example). Their pairing with talent like Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, bringing in Kota Ibushi (along with Omega), Marufuji and eventually KUSHIDA helped brings eyes back to New Japan in the early 2010's. NOAH was a shell of itself after Misawa died and AJPW had lost it's interest after Muto changed it (although early 2010 AJ is another shiny bit of seaglass on the beach that I am investigating). So, it was only natural that someone had to fill the void. I'd like to check this period out a bit more. There were certainly people in the know back then but, I think 8 years later and with giant interest in NJ, it's important to look back.
The Fire Pro World and NJPW partnership has got me really psyched up. The glut of posts I've made on the forum is evidence of that Its all good though because I thought Fire Pro was done after Fire Pro Returns. Its funny because its a little bit of history repeating as I bought a PS2 back in 2007 specifically for FPR and I'll be buying a PS4 for the sole purpose of playing FPW.
Admittedly, Fire Pro Returns was a bigger deal as the game never had a US release and I could only mod my PS1 so much and could only admire the awesomeness of Fire Pro D from afar. I would say Fire Pro Returns is a big reason that I became a fanatic for Puroresu. I printed name guides and move lists for all of the wrestlers and studied them against my old VHS tapes and incoming DVDs (plus WCW vs the World PS1).
So with this release for the PS4, Fire Pro has got to up the ante. The NJPW partnership is the first chip and new moves, expanded Create-a-Wrestler, and story mode have sweetened the pot for me. However, 08/28 is a little bit away so, I've got to keep the fires stoked somehow. What better way than by combing through free NJ matches on YouTube?
What's great (in a way) is the relatively recent stuff from NJ's boom period is at a premium and most likely available on the NJPW World streaming service. The YouTube stuff is perhaps the stuff "no one" cares about anymore . And by "no one", I mean mainstream wrestling fans...people who perhaps have the streaming service and know Okada, Bullet Club etc. but have no clue who Inoki, Hashimoto, or Fujinami are. I'm rambling...onto the matches.
The Fire Pro World and NJPW partnership has got me really psyched up. The glut of posts I've made on the forum is evidence of that Its all good though because I thought Fire Pro was done after Fire Pro Returns. Its funny because its a little bit of history repeating as I bought a PS2 back in 2007 specifically for FPR and I'll be buying a PS4 for the sole purpose of playing FPW.
Admittedly, Fire Pro Returns was a bigger deal as the game never had a US release and I could only mod my PS1 so much and could only admire the awesomeness of Fire Pro D from afar. I would say Fire Pro Returns is a big reason that I became a fanatic for Puroresu. I printed name guides and move lists for all of the wrestlers and studied them against my old VHS tapes and incoming DVDs (plus WCW vs the World PS1).
So with this release for the PS4, Fire Pro has got to up the ante. The NJPW partnership is the first chip and new moves, expanded Create-a-Wrestler, and story mode have sweetened the pot for me. However, 08/28 is a little bit away so, I've got to keep the fires stoked somehow. What better way than by combing through free NJ matches on YouTube?
What's great (in a way) is the relatively recent stuff from NJ's boom period is at a premium and most likely available on the NJPW World streaming service. The YouTube stuff is perhaps the stuff "no one" cares about anymore . And by "no one", I mean mainstream wrestling fans...people who perhaps have the streaming service and know Okada, Bullet Club etc. but have no clue who Inoki, Hashimoto, or Fujinami are. I'm rambling...onto the matches!
Ok this first one is 2009 but, close enough...
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Hirooki Goto (08/07/09): G1 match. People didn't really care about the G1 until a couple years ago when Dr.Dave and others started rating these highly. AJ vs Minoru Suzuki, I think is the big one. Otherwise, there were probably only like a handful of G1 matches that got uber pimped. Nonetheless, the tournament always produced a few great battles. This has got to be one for '09. Smart, violent Nakamura vs Tank like Goto in 16 minutes of vicious strikes, suplexes, and slams. There was a miscommunication early or in the middle, I believe but, it was quickly forgotten. As much as I like the psycho Beat It Nakamura, this iteration is best because he's not so predictable. For instance, there is an awesome ground work sequence at the end that had me saying, "Damn I need more of this in my NJ!" Go see this and you'll want Nak' back in NJ immediately.
Ryusuke Taguchi vs Kota Ibushi (06/10/11): 18 minutes of perfectly executed action. Ibushi was flashy here with a cartwheel move but, I'm OK with the rest of his offence. He made it look natural. However, the real talent of the match was Taguchi. He employed a strong abdomen focused attack on Ibushi from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Ibushi doesn't go very deep in selling this psychology. He lets you know how tired and hurt overall but, doesn't so much as clutch his ribs or chest to convey the strategy of Taguchi...Doing this may have put this into classic Jr. canon contention. Alas, we just get an excellent fireworks match. Or an excellent Fire Pro World match Still, no one really recalls how Devitt & Taguchi were hot shit back then. Their matches with Golden Lovers & Motor City Machine Guns were what got people excited about NJ. Then, the Tanahashi stuff started up. Anyway, great match here. Probably will dig back into the early 2010 NJ Jr. Tag scene next post.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto (05/20/12): I'll be honest. The IC and Never contenders are the real heavyweights in NJ. The IWGP heavy stuff (especially Tanahashi & Okada) is like WWE Japan at times. There are exceptions for sure as I really dug Omega vs Okada at WK12 and Naito is the man. I just think the Nakamura-Ishii-Goto combo was the bees knees for a few years. You can throw Makabe, Nagata, and a couple others in there and you've got a winner in my book. I say this because people no longer associate NJ with this beat guys into a pulp style but, before the Jr. Elevation Explosion, it was Kensuke, Hashimoto, Choshu, Kojima, Tenzan, Nagata and others doing straight forward physical matches. Goto and Ishii carry on that tradition. No surprise as Goto is the pupil of Tenzan and Ishii is Choshu's. Put simply, there are strike battles and no-sells that are the hallmark of the period but, they can be overlooked when it cannot be determined if Ishii is bleeding from giving or receiving a straight headbutt. Moderation is the key to this style but probably no more than the spot and sequence heavy style in vogue. Highly recommended match.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinsuke Nakamura (01/04/13 WK 7): I'll guess that I personally would like this better than the Okada vs Tanahashi main event of this super show of super shows. I'm ragging on NJ a lot for allegedly wanting to buy their game so bad This bout starts polite until Nak' slaps Saku. Then, it gets blown open like old corduroy pants! The Gracie Killer unloads with palm strikes and aggressive grappling. Shinsuke is just trying to stay alive until he can deliver his patented knees and make some space to breathe. This fight is Strong Style Evolved in the true sense. Slaps, knees, armbars all while Nakamura is able to insert his character and Saku is able to smash Nakamura's head like an egg! Awesome stuff man.
Part 2 featuring tag matches and multi-man matches should be up soon. Tenryu in 2004 anyone?
Thanks for reading! Hope this pumped you up for watching NJ and playing Fire Pro!
Dragon Gate USA has been a bit of a blind spot for me as I was losing interest in American wrestling (ROH & TNA) and exclusively watching puro in 2009, the year it took off. Certainly, I was interested as it featured Japanese wrestlers along with guys that I liked at the time like Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards. The problem was that I didn't really care for the style of wrestling. My cable company would have previews of the PPVs and I thought the ring, venues, and wrestling looked rinky dink. Now, I cut my teenage wrestling teeth on ECW, grew to love ROH after college, and adore 90's Michinoku Pro but, DGUSA looked like my local wrestling promotion passing itself off as something more.
So, that being said it didn't surprise or please me to see Johnny Gargano or Chuck Taylor on their roster. These were dudes wrestling on Sportstime Ohio at midnight...and rightfully so. What were they doing up against the Dragon Gate talent? It seemed very budget. This was especially true when I was in my cult like devotion to AJPW and AJW at the time. It probably got even worse when I saw Tommy Dreamer was working there. I love me some Dreamer but, what the hell does he have to do with lucharesu? It really looked like Gabe S. was trying to grab at whatever he could from the ROH fallout. It just wasn't for me.
Skip ahead 9 years to now, and I have only a slightly better understanding of what was DGUSA. The fact that Evolve & DGUSA were being run akin to RAW and Smackdown does not do it any favors. Its messy...like a little kid with chocolate ice cream.
To get to the point, Gargano surprised the hell outta me at NXT New Orleans. The guys of 205 Live surprised the hell out of me. Tapes were on sale (DVDs) and these dudes were on them, let's give it a shot I thought! I got Revolt & Heat 2013. Sat. & Sunday shows held in Socal for Royal Rumble weekend in the Pappy Pavalion. It's a local promotion's space. It probably serves as their gym and a club/music venue by the looks of the space and bar.
Skipping the first 2 matches, they were OK I suppose.
Rich Swann vs EITA: A few flubs, probably did more than they needed to but, it was fun.
Samurai del Sol vs AR Fox: Very good match but, orchestrated. But fuck it, there's 50 people so, it hyped them up. It looks like it would be a blast to see in person. There is a tremendously obese guy in the front that is distracting. Um, Lenny Leonard is calling the match which does give this some prestige. He calls this a classic match but, it's not that good. It is a 205 Live main event level match though so, I'd highly recommend it. Kalisto fans, check it out
Sami Callihan vs Akira Tozawa: Again, 205 Live talent in Tozawa but, more Tozawa-y since he's not in WWE. Anyhow, this was a very physical and intense match. The 205 shit goes out the window here. This felt like a fight and was more appropriate for WAR or '90 FMW. Sami was shouting curses at Akira, they were stiffing each other, and people in the crowd were uncomfortable. They came for flip dives and got a melee. They dug it though. What else? Good leg focus and selling of fatigue and the desire to win the contest. This was Champion Carnival level wrestling and a great match. Fans of either should definite see this. Match of the night 1000%
Young Bucks vs Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu: This was pretty good as a filler between Sami/Tozawa and the Gargano/Davis main. The beginning was dry as fucking wheat toast but, the middle and end added a bit of butter and jam in typical Jackson Bros. fashion. I'd still give it a recommendation. The Bucks really deliver every match they're in. I left them off my mid year BMW list but, they are def in the running for my wrestler(s) of the year (or whatever the fudge I called that category!).
Johnny Gargano vs Jon Davis: It's funny that people still call Gargano "Johnny Wrestling" long after "Johnny Football" evaporated from the Browns and the NFL. It's cool though...it's like Tenryu's Mr. Puroresu nickname. Anyhow, St. Ed's own is charismatic enough to get this semi interested crowd into this. Trust me, for most of the show it looks like Calling Hours with a ring. *rimshot* OK thank you, thank you! But seriously folks- this was a good match. The spots were unnecessarily dangerous (which is fine) and Davis' stiffness was appreciated but, the fans didn't really seem to care to the extent that they should have. It's a blood feud blow off in front of an AA meeting. Mute the TV and I think you'll enjoy it more. The quietness is uncomfortable with the level of violence.
Overall a good show despite the crowd. Certainly worth the $5 paid. Let's see how the Sunday Afternoon show (!?) does.
Yes, a January show called Heat. Maybe it's wishful thinking? In DGUSA's case, they probably should have called it Money...
Arik Cannon vs Rich Swann: Very small time Indy feel match but, the crowd is much better. Probably did too much for an opener but, it got people pumped.
Jon Davis vs Drake Younger: Also, very weird to see WWE ref Drake Younger after seeing Psycho Shooter Drake Younger. Case in point here. The man is nuts but, athletic and got heart. Frankly, I think this bout is equal to or better than Davis' match with Johnny. Good pace from the start, stiff and brutal offense, and intense throughout. These guys clicked better and Drake was willing to take sick bumps to make Davis look like a monster. Johnny's a little too pretty for that. Where's Davis now? He seems like he'd be a good fit for the Indy Big man explosion.
EITA vs Chuck Taylor: A more technically advanced version of Cannon vs Swann. No rhyme or reason wrestling. The Awful Waffle is a extremely dangerous and brutal move for a wrestler of this low standing. Let alone, it has a stupid name. It's like naming your finisher, Pattycake and then you shoot the guy in the face with a magnum...and you have the physique of a high school soccer coach and your name is synonymous with a thin soled canvas sneaker.
Johhny Gargano vs Brian Kendrick: This is for the Open the Whatever Gate title. This definitely has a slower title match feel to it. The focus early on is the wrestling. Kendrick truly looks like a professional by picking the younger Gargano apart. Gargano's moveset is very WWE/signature move based already which is a bit undesirable in this style of match. He goes for flash when he should go for utility. There was a ref bump and it was well played. The finish was sorta flat but, fug it! It worked and this was probably the best match thus far. Definitely recommend this bout. Again, 205 Live main event feel.
Jimmy Susumu vs Sami Callihan: I'm guessing this went after the title match because of the ref bumping? Small show match from both but, the closing stretch was nice and the fans were digging it.
Young Bucks vs AR Fox & Akira Tozawa: Special Dream match. I would have preferred Sami & Tozawa vs the Bucks. That would have been my dream but, this will work Typically solid Bucks heel control and cutoffs. Very nice babyface comeback sequences although spot-fu cheesy at times. But, the fans are pretty awesome at this show. So, Gabe said "give 'em what they want fellas!" Cardio dive sequence combo orgy is a go!
Match of the night and a great Bucks style match. Everyone looked great and the crowd was pumped. Nice close and another feather in the Bucks cap of good stuff. The real honor is to Akira Tozawa who had the best matches on both cards. This was another very fun show and worth the time and money.
All that said, DGUSA at this stage does not look long for the world and history will show that to be true. The talent is clearly there but, the fanbase is not. I've got one more 2013 DVD which features Gargano vs SHINGO (another reason I decided to look into this- based off SHINGO's awesome 'resurgence' at the 2018 Champ Carny). Depending on how that show goes, I may just go back to the early classics in the DGUSA library. Right now, the show quality are fairly priced at $5. WWN doesn't discount so deeply so, we'll see if I wanna spend the dough.
Clearly, Loss has changed, updated, and polished the new site and the PWO forums section. Or "the board" as many of it will think of it as
With this change, I want to wish him the best and say thanks for providing this awesome forum and resource. It is without a doubt, the best place for wrestling information and discussion anywhere.
With that being said, the Badger Blog (sure, let's go with that for right now) has been on a little break in order to allow all/most/some? of the updates to take place. Unfortunately, it appears that the new template has restricted or removed the search functions, my categories (80's, 90's, Women's Wrestling etc.), and tags. Also, it seems the blog section is much more difficult to find on mobile devices...well at least for me. I'm a little bummed but, it's all good
I'm such a low tech guy that, I'll find other ways to litter old and new posts with links to put eyeballs on this puppy. Additionally, I'm going to take the time and re-tag my old posts as well as have my next entry be a summary of all 80 oh wait 90 posts...well at least links to them along with the titles. That and update any old links from the old site to the new version. Otherwise, it goes nowhere but to a friendly 404 error page.
Just an update to the larger update.
So, Leon White has passed away. I am very bummed out because, not only was he a great wrestler but, he seemed like a great guy especially in the world of pro wrestling. I know there will be better tributes and stories than what I could piece together so, I just want to say 'Thanks!'
What's sorta uncanny (to me) is that I had the notion of posting about my favorite Vader in Japan matches just a day ago. Well, I'd like to do that now. I'm not overly sentimental and am not using his passing as a way for folks to read my blog...I clearly get no profit Instead, I'd like to celebrate his work in wrestling. Do yourself a favor and watch one of these and powerbomb someone in memory of Mr. White!
Big Van Vader vs. IWGP Champion Tatsumi Fujinami (13:27, 6/26/88) *** A pretty enjoyable squash type match as Vader threw Fujinami around like a doll. The bummer is that Vader isn't quite stiff yet and Fujinami airballed on a couple moves but he sells the damage well and Vader already shows use of psychology by slaughtering The Dragon's back. The end is cool but not really believable considering the damage done...Re-Watch: I'd have to say I've change my mind about this match. I think it's really, really good. Near great even! The psychology is really sound with Vader trying to dismantle Fujinami while the Dragon tries guile & quickness to slay the mythical monster of Vader. Maybe it's because I got done reading an article on Lovecraft but I saw Big Van Vader especially with the head-piece as a Cthulu-type creature. As stated below, you've got to understand that NJ is like more action based American wrestling akin to what Cactus Jack & Sting did in their '92 WCW PPV match perhaps. If you're cool that it's not '92 AJPW then, damn is this a fun & dramatic match. It also didn't hurt that I've seen more Fujinami & know why this match worked.
Big Van Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto for the vacant IWGP Title (9:47, 4/24/89) ***1/2 I liked this match but it was too short...although that may have been by accident. Lou Thesz was the ref & he hesitated on the 3 count indicating that maybe the match ended unexpectedly. Here was a very good match cut short. Both guys were stiff & Hashimoto was looking to snap Vader's arm. I wish it would have been a few minutes longer. Re-Watch: I've watched this a couple times a year or more after my initial review & really nothing changes. I really wish it would've gone a couple more minutes with Hash getting some more kicks in on Vader or running a sequence or two to spice up the ending.
Big Van Vader vs. IWGP champion Riki Choshu (10:04, 8/10/89) **** It seems Riki only brings it when he has to because he wrestled like the Riki Choshu that has multiple 4 star and 5 star matches to his name. This match is stiff and well paced for 10 minutes with the stand-out being a Riki Lariat that knocks Vader backwards over the guardrail. If this went a bit longer it was bound to get better. Still the best match so far & it really shows how great Vader is for such a massive guy. Re-Watch: Yeah this is pretty good considering how limited each guy is both in what they can take & what offense they bring (size, agility). And by pretty good I mean quite enjoyable. One needs to think of NJ in this time period with a certain level of wrestlers as WCW Japan, if that makes sense. If this were on American TV, I'd watch every G-D week without a doubt. This match is good proof. It's not Jumbo vs. Tenryu though. Still it's rough & tumble and very fun stuff. Excellent pick for a Vader compilation!
Big Van Vader vs. IWGP Champion Tatsumi Fujinami (12:57, 1/17/91)***3/4 Dammit Fujinami if you're going to do a enzuigiri try to make contact! Like their first meeting, he's small enough for Vader to throw and splash him...and you know it's wearing him down. Vader bled here which was cool and when the Dragon was punching and it was believable. There was some heat & once again Vader performs on par with a guy 100 lbs lighter & with a decade more experience. Re-watch: Wow! My opinion has really shifted on these matches. I thought this was an awesome match with only a moment of weakness. The moment is that enzuigiri but on re-watch & the context of the match, it was a gamengiri meant to hit Vader in the face or above the eye...as to put over the blade job...or that's what I think! Just a stupendous match showing each guy's versitility. Fujinami is a great wrestler but here we get to see that Vader is too. He's not just the greatest super-heavy weight (I haven't seen much prime Andre) but one of the greatest of all time. ****1/4 but I could go higher.
Here's an odd one but, I liked it!
Big Van Vader vs. Tony Halme (1991) ***1/4 This match was a pleasant surprise as it's really want I want to see in a Vader match: both guys slugging the crap out of one another. And I mean stiffly slugging one another. Of course Halme, being a pro boxer went half power, he was stiff on the body shots and made the head punches believable due to Vader's superior selling. A thouroughly enjoyable worked shoot especially since Vader lost! (I hope I'm not spoiling anything!)
Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Vader 03/01/92: People say this match isnt very good but, shit! I thought it was fantastic. The timing and near finishes were just awesome. You knew the hope spots were going to be there but, wow! This was just an awesome match that should be on every one of these guys Best Of comps. The stand-outs were Hase and Vader. The segments they had were just great stuff and very stiff. Vader was just punishing throughout and Bigelow and Mutoh were the charismatic ones who put the flashy bits in. Everything was hitting just right. Like I said maybe this is a case of low expectations and being surprised but I really enjoyed this. ****1/2
Vader vs. Antonio Inoki (14:16, 1/4/96)****1/2 What a physical match-up! 600 lb. cherry-cheeked Vader versus a withered-up Japanese government employee. I'm surprised Inoki wasn't killed then re-animated and then killed again because it sure as bloody hell looked like it. Man got dumped on his dome two times that would make Tiger Mask II's tail spin 'round. Then he made a good comeback & slapped on the ju-ju-got-to-me armbreaker and got the victory. Although by the looks of it, he should've kept his shoulders down after the first swell of punishment. Vader & Tony put on a monster truck show & Inoki played the part of 'Gravedigger.'
Vader & Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (Real World Tag League '98 Final)***1/2 Ha! Akiyama got beat-up here and Kobashi got worked over pretty well too. Hansen wasn't movin' too well but the Gaijin team was stiff. How's that face doin' Akiyama? Re-Watch (2015): Im going to mosey on down a shakey tree branch and say that this was a great match. Maybe its hued by the early 90s lucha libre and 88 Hansen that Ive been gluing mine eyes to but, this was fantastic stuff. Everyone was going at their 98 best. It was stiff, fast and full of teases and pay-offs. Ironically the lucha has got me really excited on the pay-offs. I guess that shouldnt surprise me too much, what with the wide-spread bribery down there! Get it? Pay-off? Bribery?...Any how this was just a real exciting match. I think at this point in AJ history we have to look at Kobashi as the ace regardless of what Misawa and Kawada are doing. This style of match really takes us right back to the late 80s Native Japanese versus the built like Frigidaire Gaijin Hansen/Gordy vs. Tenryu/Kawada Tag League 88 sound familiar? Great Match
Vader vs. Kenta Kobashi (1/15/99) (16:59) **** Pretty nice singles match that was very physical for both guys. Kobashi was taking hits & gettin' splashed on while Vader isn't used to getting hit & slammed too much let alone movin' for 17 minutes! Can anyone beat Super Vader? Even Misawa?
Vader vs. Triple Crown Champion Mitsuhara Misawa (10/30/99) (12:12) ***3/4 Vader was very brutal with his slams here. Misawa tried fighting back with very stiff elbows and dives. It just wasn't enough & I think it ended early. Vader did a reprisal of his role versus Inoki.
Vader & Steve Williams vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori (2/12/00) (8:02) ***1/2 Hard hitting mid-card style slug fest. The gaijins dominated and double teamed. This was an all fun match and made everyone look good.
Vader vs. Toshiaki Kawada (2/17/00) (13:44) ****1/4+ This is how it's done! Kawada even used Vader's own fore-arm clubs and used his kicks tactfully. It was just a smart match that peaked at the best time and one of Vader's best. Both knew the limitations and they excelled. Just as in all of Vader's best bouts. Re-Watch: A really stiff slug-out. It was kind of what I wanted in Vader's 1990 match against Hansen. Really awesome stuff & both guys sold the stuff very well. Geez...it's probably not that hard to do considering the blows being dealt. Kawada showed himself superior to his peers by getting so much out of Vader and structuring the match so it told a believable yet suspenseful story. Vader isn't a slouch but because of his size it's up to his opponent create the tension & drama. Having a match with him is like going up against a steam shovel, so what are you going to do to make it something special? Misawa & Kobashi do fine, Taue fails but, Kawada truly excels.
Vader & Steve Williams vs. AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (2/20/00) (25:14)****1/4 A very solid tag team title match. Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. Another fun tag match & really the place where Vader & Dr. Death (at this point in his career) shines.
Misawa & Ogawa vs. Vader & Scorpio (11/30/01) Full match here showing that NOAH could be a different product even if that product is 80s AJPW!! Really fun stuff in a more American style. Good to see Scorpio as he really is the heart of this match.
Apologies for inconsistency but, ya get the point
I'd also recommend Vader in UWFi and Leon White vs Stan Hansen AWA from ESPN. One of the sweetest rookie vs champ matches. YouTube dat!
Thank you for all your hard work and passion Mr. Vader, sir! RIP Mr. White
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!
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
So, I got hyped on Naomichi Marufuji after his fantastic job during the Champion Carnival and Triple Crown challenge. Generally speaking, I am lukewarm on him. Sometimes, he's really a treat to watch as his execution and timing can be impeccable. Other times, his execution is spotty and over ambitious. Additionally, depending on what time period you're watching, his offense can look weak or perhaps predictable.
I eventually tempered my negative feelings by re-watching his 2006 GHC title win over Akiyama. It clicked then. He's not going to be KENTA and not be one of the AJ heavies regardless of his muscles. He's Yoshinari Ogawa with pizzazz. He is sneaky, quick, and smart. Yes, he does have a bit more flair but, he's brains over braun.
Or at least when he's great...Other times he just goes for junior fireworks.
vs Jushin Thunder Liger (12/22/09): Super J Cup. Wow! This was way better than I thought it would be. It follows the classic Jr. template but 2009 Liger has still got it. I really would have liked the leg attack on 'Fuji to have gone somewhere BUT I'm glad they didn't focus on it either. They moved on or Liger moved on, if you will. Highly recommended stuff.
vs Tigers Mask (12/23/09): Semifinal Super J Cup. Nice under 10 minute match. I don't know for sure if that was exactly the finish they wanted but, Marufuji was channeling Ogawa there at the end. This is slept on but, man it was nice, neat, and to the point.
vs Prince Devitt (12/23/09): OK this is the Super J Cup Finals! Anyhow, this is a case of a fireworks display. The story was the invading Marufuji, who's always done well in NJ Super J, going for their top Junior (and top gaijin). This was and was meant to be a cool looking Finals match. I'd highly recommend it based on its flashy new (to me) moves and action but, I didn't have a real drama. The fans were flipping out so, others may get more out of it than me. But a great way to end the tournament. Naomichi shines in tournament settings.
vs Prince Devitt (01/30/10): The rematch...this time for the IWGP Jr. strap! We get a very similar opening but, with a bit more focus on wrestling. Its not a lot but, more than you'll see in Jr. fights nowadays. The great improvement was that this match had a story to tell. Devitt had learned from his mistakes and was prepared for the NOAH hotshots stuff. 'Fuji had to be careful on what he could pull out of his bag AND when because the Irishman could hit him with a surprise. Great finishing segment. I'd have to say this was a great match and perhaps scratching a classic if you're feeling it. This shows the brains both in performance and layout.
vs Koji Kanemoto (03/05/10): Ah what could have been! This was looking to be a classic but fell into that 2010 trap of epic overkill. They provided us with 2-3 matches worth of wrestling and false finishes in one bout. It was like an arc all in one contest. Maybe it should have been 2 out of 3 falls?? I wrote a lot more in my notebook but, I'll spare you my lamentations. I hesitate to call it a great match but, the first 25 minutes really had me- more grappling & striking focused, Koji's persona & charisma, Marufuji trying to hang on against a vet. Koji and Marufuji man...
Overall, this has been a rewarding little batch of matches despite the last one. It's a clear step in the evolution of Marufuji. Speaking of that, the highly evolved 'Fuji vs Tenryu-like Akiyama CC match is up on the 'tube. Gonna check that out before that chap's account is terminated like the last dude's.
Be sure to check out the amended 2018 Champion Carnival post shortly!
Thanks for reading!
Everyone seems to pick Match of the Year contenders. Unfortunately, I tend not to watch too much current stuff. I always dig these lists though...especially when going back to find stuff to watch/buy. They're a great resource.
So, last year when MOTYC talk was really ramping up, I made my own Best Of list to get in on the fun. So, instead of the best match performed this year, went through and figured out what was the best match I watched this year. Pretty simple right? It could be 70's tag match up against a joshi match from 2000 and a deathmatch from last week's BJW show. Its just the best match that I have watched between Jan. 1st and Dec. 31st. Best Match Watched, BMW.
I also had made a couple other lists with the usual stuff like best wrestler & best promotion but, also do a list for most surprising wrestler, promotion, match, angle etc. Since, I mainly watch footage from the past, I'm looking for those that stood out despite their booking place and past discussions (or lack thereof). Also, I like to tally the biggest viewing disappointments. We cannot have good without the bad, right?
Finally, I also do a list of the things I am looking forward to. These can be PPVs, DVDs, a promotion, a spotlight project etc.
Since its June, I wanted to do a half year summary post. It will sorta be a culmination of the past 6 months new viewing and posting here in the Puro + More blog. So let's go for it!
Best Match Watched Contenders (Jan 1st - May 31st)
-Inoki/Sakaguchi vs Thesz/Gotch (NJ 1973)
-Strong BJW vs SUWAMA/T. Soya (AJ 11/26/11)
-Onita/Tarzan Goto vs M. Kurisu/Dragon Master [Kendo Nagasaki] (FMW 04/01/90)
-Jun Kasai vs Takeki Iizuka (TAKA Prod. 01/28/18)
-Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 02/21/15)
-Briscoe Bros. vs Mike Bennett/Matt Taven (ROH 02/21/15)
-Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano (NXT: New Orleans)
-Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs Triple H/Stephanie McMahon (WWE WrestleMania)
-Shinjiro Otani vs Masato Tanaka (Z-1 07/31/02)
-Masato Tanaka vs Yuji Nagata (NJ 03/19/11)
-Chris Hero vs Big Van Walter (wXw 2010 16 Carat Gold Final)
-Masato Tanaka vs Daisuke Sekimoto (Z-1 08/02/15)
-Shuji Ishikawa vs SHINGO (AJ 04/29/18)
Standout Wrestler: Daisuke Sekimoto, Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka
Surprise of the Year: Early FMW Onita, SHINGO, Marufuji, and the 2018 Champion Carnival, 2015 ROH, Yoshi Yatsu in 87-89 AJPW, WWE 205 Live, digging WWE Women's division
Favorite Project: FMW 89-92, Post ECW Tanaka, Hayabusa in AJPW
Disappointment of the Year: Munenori Sawa in wXw 2010 could have been better, Brock vs Roman at WM, Nakamura...Ballshot Expert
I'm Looking Forward To: Getting back on track with early 2010's AJ & AJPW Classics ('89-90), some Dragon Gate USA exploration, watching more DVDs and less YouTube
It's been a good 6 months so far!
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!
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.
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!!!!
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!
You may be in for a bit of a surprise if you haven't seen Tanaka in awhile. He's like 50 lbs. lighter and tan as river clay. Nevertheless, he still kicks ass and is still the Dangan!
vs Yuji Nagata (03/19/11 NJPW): NJPW Cup 2011. This be a badass bout without a doubt. There's no commentary so, you can hear every strike land. This was as brutal as Electric Wizard. Knees, elbows, lariats all hit with with precision and intensity. The few suplexes and brainbusters were just bonuses. The strike battles felt authentic and were quickly resolved. They didn't need to buy time in order to figure out their next step. Clocking in around 15 minutes, this is an all time classic to me. This is in the top 5-10 matches that I've seen this year.
vs Tomoaki Honma (12/23/11 NJPW): It's noteworthy that we have 2 deathmatch bred wrestlers wrestling a straight match for the IWGP IC belt in NJ. A lot can happen in 10 years! They paid homage to their hardcore roots and so, it was pretty enjoyable. I did feel the pacing and no-sell bits kind of took me out of the match at times though.
vs Tomohiro Ishii (11/19/12 NJPW): Never Belt contest. Well, if you wanr 12 minutes of jaw bruising, chest welting, vertabrae shifting action then, this is the bout for you! Seriously, all jokes aside...this is essentially two guys hitting each other back and forth. There are some throws but, this IS the macho strike battle. It gets repetitive but, if you need to release some aggression or get psyched up for something. This is the match for you!
Masato Tanaka & KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji & Tetsuya Naito (03/08/14 NOAH): I've seen some self indulgent NOAH matches in the 2010's but 'Fuji's great showing at the 2018 Champion Carnival convinced me to give this a try. So, glad that I did! I could have done without a couple elbow battles but, overall this was too sweet. It is exactly the match you want it to be. Naito is cheeky yet tough, Marufuji is crafty without being cute, KENTA is badass but, not having to be spunky/plucky, and Tanaka is the old time killer. I would have liked a definitive finish but, this was a fiercely competitive battle. Great match!
vs Daisuke Sekimoto (08/02/15 Zero-1): I think this is a semi final for the annual Zero One Fire Festival. These foes delivered 12+ minutes of intense combat perfection. They may as well have stopped the show and burned the ring after this match...it was a thing of beauty. All of the small twists, variations, surprises, all while knowing when to bring it down only to bring it back even hotter later. Another all time classic match that's in the top 5 matches I've viewed in 2018.
Masato Tanaka is lining up to be the best wrestler for the matches viewed in 2018. If you're a Dangan fan, check some of these out. You will be so glad you did
Be sure to check out my other Tanaka entry a few posts back as well. If you think Masato Tanaka was done after ECW then, you will be gladly be mistaken.
Eddie Guerrero was one of my favorite wrestlers that I never really saw enough of. I caught him sporadically in WCW and tuned out the WWF very shortly after the Radicalz stuff. I always wanted to see his ECW and Japan work. Even more appealing about his time in Japan was that he wrestled in costume as Black Tiger! I was and still am a big fan of the NJ Jr. Style. It really was comparable in match quality to what the AJ guys were doing at the time albeit shorter in duration. It doesn't get the love too much anymore but, Eddie was one of the masters. Here I take a look at 1996 versus his fellow masters.
vs Jushin Liger - 2/3/96 **** innovative holds & moves but should have been longer with more of a build. Eddy used his finishers and Liger busts out a few moves including the fisherman buster & a top rope move. But the end felt flat. At least one more sequence would have warranted a win. I think Yamada's tumor kept it limited perhaps? (Note: I think finish sets up their Best of the Super Jr. Finals match & the Benoit match)
vs Shinjiro Ohtani - 6/5/96 ****1/4 strong psychology focusing on Ohtani's leg w/ Eddy getting creative & heelish and a nice build. Similar ending as above in that it was a bit quick to get the win. The intensity was good so the extra 1/4 star was awarded...
vs Chris Benoit - 6/11/96 ****3/4 Need to rewatch this one but, it was pretty good but Benoit locked that sleeper on way too many times. Also after having seen many Black Tiger/Eddie matches, the moves that caught my attention at first glanced seemed to have been standard spots for Eddie at the time like the slingshot somersault senton & alley-oop frankensteiner whip...which diminishes the value really. Rewatch: I'd give it ****1/4 because Eddie uses the ramp to his advantage and there are some good counters but, still Benoit (who I think was in full WCW mode) locked the sleeper on 4 or 5 times and I can never remember him or anyone winning with a sleeper...the other problem being it's difficult to counter or parry. So we had to watch Eddie crawl to the ropes each time and to be honest it loses it effect and diminishes believability. Re-re-watch: I totally get the greatness of this match. If you're watching too much of one style or one person, your standards start getting way too high. Stuff that took place over years, one will place side by side and make unfair comparisons. The reason that doesn't happen w/ my AJPW watching is that I have quite a bit that tells the story.(Note: Oh no it happens there too!) Alot of other promotions don't tell the long story but, it helps to break up your veiwing to compensate...to simulate the passage of time.
Saying that I "get" this one was due to reading the 1996 yearbook on PWO.com. Benoit slaps the sleeper hold on because anytime he lets Eddy get loose he'll counter his offense. It's almost like Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid. Eddy does a fantastic job selling here...in the league of Kawada or Liger. Staggering, waiting to catch his breath, losing balance etc. Also the genius of this match was the fake-out pacing. I mean this match was always memorable but, I thought in a bad way. I realize now that this pacing and inclusion of sleepers that killed the exceitement & momentum of the match were what makes it stand out. They provided a false build, a dive sequence that usually shows the start of the finish was killed here. It was really something fresh & different. Everything else was perfect too- execution, stiffness (what few chops there were), etc. I have a hard-time giving 5 stars to the junior style matches when compared to other men's matches like AJPW or Jr. style like AJW...I'm gonna get real close here though. Eddy was probably never better than here.
vs Jushin Liger - 6/12/96 ****1/2 This match had solid psychology with the opening mat wrestling. The holds locked on not only led way to interesting spots early on but also provided depth to the match later. Nothing spectacular but certainly enriching to the match overall. The most surprising moment was when in towards the end when Liger went after Black Tiger's arm with a flying knee and followed up with a jujuigatame. Nice touch. I was also impressed that top shelf finishers were brought out. The match showed their equality, versitility, & tenacity. I must say that the first "Ooh!" of the match came from a very stiff Liger shotei. It's nice to see sitffness in the Jr. matches...and all of those things made this a must see match. Maybe one of Eddie's most solid matches with the help of Liger to keep him from getting into a routine that he can slip into with Benoit & Malenko. Re-Watch: Just a flawless bit of wrestling & everything stated earlier is true. The only thing keeping this from being perfect is the story wasn't that compelling & Eddy didn't necessarily sell the arm as well as he should of until the end where Liger gave a last ditch shot after it. He was like, "Oh right, the arm's hurtin'." Otherwise pretty killer stuff.
vs Great Sasuke - 6/17/96 ***1/4: I've seen this given 2 stars and in light of Eddie & Sasuke's body of work this would be understandable. However, after seeing 10 Black Tiger matches, I found this one to be a breath of fresh air as it relied little on Eddie's spots and sequences. Due to illness, he wasn't going to be doing any flying or in honestly any bumps so they had to compensate with matwork and the notion of him dominating (ala Super J-Cup Liger v. Sasuke). In fact, the ratio of offensive moves was 3 to 1 in terms of Eddie. He did a good job on the ground as did Sasuke but, there was little follow-up later in the match & Sasuke probably isn't familiar with the concept of selling an injury other than shaking the limb after he gets up. All that said, it was an interesting change of pace but not required viewing.
vs Shinjiro Ohtani - 9/16/96 ***1/2 Pretty good for while it lasted. Ohtani came blasting out of the gate like he was Stan Hansen. Unfortunately he injured his shoulder as if he'd been fighting against Hansen. The match had it's cool spots and Ohtani kicked as much ass as he could and Eddie was pretty good as well. But they had to go home early...it may have been for the IWGP Jr. belt too but, Shinjiro didn't stick around to find out. He scored the win and headed toward the back to get checked out. Their 1st meeting on this tape was pretty great and this one was looking to be just as good or better but, thems the breaks.
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).
Man, it has taken me a long damn time to get through this set. That's on me and not the quality of the wrestling. I've been distracted by the WWE network stuff and YouTube. I've clearly got the attention span of a 3 year old At this point, I don't know what's tournament and non tournament. Also if I skip something it's because I skipped the match intentionally. I'm just trying to get finished...It's like I'm trying for my 16 Carat GED at this point!
Big Van Walter vs Erick Stevens: Tournament match. I've been buying Stevens as a baby face with a chance all tournament long so, I was not disappointed here. His comeback on Walter was fierce. Elbows, chops, slaps, and clotheslines to the Austrian's face. The arc of the narrative should have had Erick go over but, it wasn't to be. Highly Recommended match. Stevens had an awesome showing over all 3 nights.
Oberhausen Terror Corps vs Up In Smoke: Again, OTC has a bitchin' name. Here they're looking to kill Cheech & Cloudy...who have a terrible tag name. Its not as bad as Special K but, are the spiritual successors to the thin highspot oriented drug referencing Indy group. Anyhow, Cloudy gets assaulted by the zee Germans. The Smokers' teamwork gives them a fighting chance and makes this a very, very fun match.
Ares vs Chris Hero: Tournament match. Anything with Hero or Walter in them is a tournament match since they're in the finals. Those are the only fights that I know are part of the tourney. Anyhow, rather than rewrite my summary of this match, I'll say that I fast forward-ed the 2nd half of this. These two have history and probably thought a 22 minute match was a good idea. Fans probably loved it but, this went on too long and Ares just doesn't do it for me this far along in the brackets. Hero has been so-so thus far. The Martin Stone match was great though.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Paul Tracey vs KAGETORA vs Tommy End: This was fun! Good action, exciting and just what was needed. 16 minutes but, sad we didn't get to see Claudio vs KAGETORA in singles competition.
Strong BJW vs Switchblade Conspiracy: wXw Tag belts on the line. They kept it simple and worked their story well. BJW are strong & tough but, if Sami and Moxley could last the punishment and isolate an opponent then, MAYBE they could beat the Japanese team. 20 minutes was perfect timing here...its a highly recommended or perhaps great match. The tag team bouts haven't disappointed all super-show.
This is the end of Day # 3, disc #2. I'm going to get the final disc up and do a run down off all three days since it took me forever to get these watched and the reviews are all over the blog. We're looking at ZSJ vs Sawa, Nick vs Matt Jackson, Hero vs Walter for the final installment.
Addendum: Watched Johnny Kidd vs Terry Frazier as it was listed in the Match Discussion Archives and figured I was missing something. It is a definite change of pace from the entire rest of the card, I'll say that. It goes to 5 rounds, Frazier jaw jacks with the crowd like Larry Z, they do a traditional British match. It was fun but, I would recommend watching it separate from the other matches. It takes you outta the right mind set. Otherwise, well done entertaining stuff but, nothing more.
I watched this because it's still covered under my free month of the Network from Wrestlemania. Not bad...got 3 PPV shows for free. So tonight, I watched Backlash sorta in passing. It was really clear from seeing the card some of the matches could be good and some sucked at "go."
Anyone that had hopes that this was going to be awesome was delusional to some degree. Here's the card and my brief takes.
Seth Rollins vs The Miz: IC belt. Liked these guys in WM, Saudi Rumble, and liked Tyler Black in the past. Looked good on paper, delivered and then some. Finish could have been less choreographed but, a banger.
Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss: Raw Women's belt. Dug their WM match. Fuck people who want more "moves", this was really well done. Baby Bliss looked smart & Jax looked vulnerable but tough.
Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton: Hate Orton, skipped this.
Skipped Elias & Rusev bullshit. I'm too old for that middle school fuckery.
Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass: Was excited to see Danielson in a singles match. Didn't know who Cass was before the Saudi Rumble. Saw that and knew this was a lead turd waiting to drop. Caught the last 5+ minutes for proof of death.
Carmella vs Charlotte: Smackdown Women's belt. Saw Charlotte and thought this had potential. Carmella annoyed the hell outta me and is a step back for the division. Juvenile character. Would have been good if Charlotte won but, finish was flat. Transition champ to give C. Flair time off (fake leg injury?) because of the kayfabe finish?
AJ Styles vs Nakamura: Why they gotta make Nakamura the "nut shot" guy? Stupid and sophomoric at best. Had some moments though especially the chair bits.
Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens: Skipped this. Strowman is alright in my book. What's Lashley doing back? I don't care about Steen & Generico anymore. Great in PWG and 2008 ROH though.
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe: Looking forward to this match and it delivered. Anyone who left during this or was bored with it, that's fine but, I suggest you look elsewhere for wrestling. Seriously, if you didn't think this was just going to be a *** affair then, you're kidding yourself. Reigns at WM was one of the worst main events I've ever seen. This was at least pretty good with Joe using his brain to work a smart match. Reigns is on autopilot on the Airship Bland Meathead... that's to be expected though. It's more about how Joe can work within the predictable booking and approved spots than have a great match with the well meaning Reigns. Truth be told Joe's been booked like shit after 2006. He doesn't have "the look" and probably would be best in ROH or AJPW now. I doubt people would chant Rusev Day during his match there...lame as fuck...children.
I'd probably say the top matches are:
1) Rollins vs Miz
2) Jax vs Bliss
3) Joe vs Roman
4) AJ vs Ballshot Nakamura
Masato Tanaka was pretty much responsible for me getting into puroresu. His matches in the States with ECW were eye opening to me. He was tough, intense, and innovative. I would say he, Mike Awesome, and Tajiri were the 3 guys that convinced me that wrestling in Japan was something worth seeking out. After ECW folded, so did my interest in newer wrestling at the time. It was another 5 years before I got back into it. I've never really looked at what "Dangan" Tanaka was doing in that time when I was away.
Masato Tanaka vs Samoa Joe (Zero-1 2001 or 2002): There was no date on this from the Youtube video but, based on the size of Joe and his attire (cut off tee & track pants), this was pre-ROH Joe. I believe per Quebrada.net that it's from BURNING HEART League 09/15/01. All that being said, this was 8 minutes of spots but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a blast! Joe was pulling out all kinds of stuff like a Fosberry Flop dive and Pedigree type move. Obviously Tanaka was going over but, you'd be surprised. Cool finish too!
vs Shinjiro Otani (Zero-1 07/31/02): A classic 16 minute tournament match. It's like in that **** 1/4 - **** 1/2 range to me. It's best described as NJPW Jrs. style with 2000 era hard hits, a hot Korakuen krowd, and tourney match urgency. Tanaka & Otani don't go for epic, they go for the win. Dangan gets busted open from a Tree of Woe baseball slide if that's any indicator. Plus, Otani's facial expressions are as top shelf as ever. He takes the drama to another level with his emoting. Totally surprised by this match since no one really talks about Zero One especially in 2018...if you're a fan of either guy, see it. It'll be one of the best bouts you'll watch this week.
Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs Steve Corino & Low Ki (ROH 11/09/02): This was the main event to the inaugural All Star Extravaganza. Otani & Tanaka kept this a lean mean contest. Otani damn near put Ki's face into the back of his head with a kick. Not to be outdone, Dangan hit a brutal lariat and shotgun stunner. Sure, it was Philly but, no chairshots needed. Corino & Ki were excellent as well. Highly recommend checking this out.
vs Mike Awesome (Zero-1 02/29/04): Holy shit...wow. For an Awesome vs Tanaka match this might be the most dangerous one. I don't know if the match quality is the tops since they really do just run through the spots but, what spots they are! Highly recommended match for those missing this rivalry. I had no clue this existed especially since their One Night Stand match from 2005 was touted as their most recent battle since ECW. But that's WWE history for ya! Go see this Zero One match and witness the brutal spots for yourself!
vs CM Punk (Wrestling-1 04/09/04): I'm not 100% on the promotion title as it appears to be a US indy with affiliation to Zero-1 or a US offshoot when they were trying to do a global wrestling thing. I read in the comments online that Punk was sick at the time but, this was a very good hotel banquet hall level match. Punk focused on Masato's arm amd gave the match a good sound body. It was really solid when they could have just winged a bunch of moves. It felt good because they eventually got into a nice little finishing run. Some big moves were hit and some were countered but, they never gave it all away. These two worked really well together.
vs Samoa Joe (1PW 2005?): Again, the poster didnt' put a date but, this looks around the time Joe had the bleached brown/red bit in his hair while in TNA. This was a 10 minute sprint of wonderful stiffness. If the above match was about moves, this was about hitting each other. They go bat shit with it. This pairing is really, really good and I wish there was more available. Match goes to a double DQ but then we get...
vs Steve Corino: ECW rules type of match. They're in the crowd and being a little cute for the people that loved ECW back in the day. I'm sure I would have dug this at the time but, the let's take a tour without actually fighting isn't as interesting anymore BUT it's not all of that. It's brutal at times too. So, this is a 2 in 1 or Gauntlet match for Tanaka and a must-see. Dangan all the way man!
Tanaka to my knowledge only wrestled in ROH the one time but, he seemed like a perfect fit for early ROH from his performances above. 2002-2004 Tanaka in ROH would have been great and is certainly fodder for fantasy bookers out there. These matches are a hint of what could have been.
Next time, I want to tackle what I'll call the Tanaka revival- from my estimates late 2000s to early 2010s. I'll see what I can find on the web.
Earlier this week my fiance saw Kurt Angle while driving at the mall. I didn't believe her at first since we had just watched some special about him on the WWE network. But, with that fact in mind, I figure his face is going to be fresh in her mind. Most of what little doubt I had was in the fact that I didn't get to see him!
So, that by itself is pretty great but, then today we were telling her uncle about this and end up with the gift of a half hour of old wrestling stories! I had no freaking idea that he was into wrestling let alone have stories! I will not do these justice but, I'll try to tell the best.
The first is about he and some buddies going to a bar by the airport sometime in the 1980's. They're sitting there and his one friend tells him, 'Hey take a look over there.' The uncle thinks its a buxom babe but, it's Andre the fucking Giant surrounded by women downing bottles of beer! Turns out he's there with Jimmy Snuka, Blackjack Mulligan, and Mr. Fuji! Talk about luck, you go into your local suds station and bam you're shoulder to shoulder with grappling greats.
The second story is about a match he saw with George "The Animal" Steele and Bruno Sammartino. It sounded really wild with Bruno juicing a gusher and the fans losing their shit. The match ended in a draw and people are tossing popcorn and God knows what else at The Animal. George is leaving the ring area to the locker rooms and the police are escorting him because it's so bonkers in the Civic Arena. Then, a little old man gets past the railing and police.
The geezer proceeds to punch Steele in the back of the head! Reflexively, George swats back with a clubbed fist and was likely to kill the old man if it wasn't for the cop pushing gramps out of the way of George's hairy fist!
Again, I'm not doing these justice as I'm probably missing all kinds of details. Plus there were other good stories like two drunk women getting in a full on drunken brawl in the stands that stoped a match and more. I just had to document these great stories!