I would have to think that Tenryu's WAR promotion has the most love themed name. Wrestle and Romance...ah yes, that is passion!! I feel like they were also Wrestle and Roses too. I could have made that up, I dunno. I love it anyhow!
Other Valentine appropriate wrestling names in my opinion are the AJW tag teams Tokyo Sweethearts, Crush Gals (crush like a school boy not as in skulls) & Honey Wings.
That was just an aside. Here are some of my favorite Romance matches:
Tenryu, Kitahara & Masao Orihara vs Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura Aoyagi from 10/21/92 War vs NJ. Orihara's awesome opening...hell Orihara's awesome performance overall. The dude made the match. All of the Tenryu vs Koshinaka interactions...straight up windpipe chops. I love both of these guys' enthusiasm/hatred. Kitahara vs Aoyagi kicking the crap outta each other is good. Would like me to see more...The violent chaotic finish...I mean Kimura is eating chops to the face...how is that not fantastic!? Women are crying, men are shouting, Ishikawa comes out, streamers...oh yeah!!
The main event to WAR's 02/14/93 show: Tenryu & Ishikawa vs Fujinami & Hase. This was a dream match for me. Marky Mark for all four wrestlers but, this wasn't some exhibition or feud transition match. This was fiery and exciting as heck!
All four guys were quick and on point all match with that WAR gang rumble pace. Everybody really impressed me...this was a great match. Then when Hashimoto came out after the bell, it sealed the deal. This whole segment, or whatever you wanna call it in today's terms, was classic!
WAR 05/05/97 Tenryu, Kitahara & Jun Kikuchi vs. Abdullah The Butcher & Tarzan Goto & Ryo Miyake Cage Match. Pandemonium from the get go with the heel team waiting with chairs by the WAR team's entrance. Tenryu nearly falls thru the cage at one point, he & Abby have a nifty strike exchange, Goto brings glass into the mix, Kitahara is rocking camo pants and ups his manliness quotient by 10% (like he needed it), and this is random awesomeness.
OK so, I've finished Day #1 of wXw's 16 Carat Gold tournament for 2010. Its been a pretty good day or evening for wrestling. Unlike PWG's BOLA the guys pace themselves and the card actually builds to the main event. I'm going to put everything for day #1 in this post.
Ares vs Matt Jackson: Fun 8 minute match with a bit of comedy from Ares.
Munenori Sawa vs Paul Tracey: I'm not familiar with Tracey. Sawa looked good and Tracey was OK. 7 minutes and better than the first bout.
Yuji Okabayashi vs Martin Stone: Best match so far. Very good to see grappling here in this setting. Simple but, effective stuff. Stone gets the upset with a DDT. Recommended first round match.
Claudio Castignoli vs Johnny Kidd: Slower & more cerebral than any match thus far. Wrestled the traditional British style. 13 minutes of light hearted fun.
Kagetora vs Nick Jackson vs Tommy End: Kagetora looks the best to me. Nick did his thing which was exciting but, Tommy was still young here...more like Tommy Beginning. I would have been OK with a Nick vs Kagetora match. 9:30 time and worst match so far.
WXW DAY 1, DISC 2
Adam Polak vs Erick Stevens: Shazam! I haven't heard or seen of Erick Stevens in a while. I liked him as a really solid upper midcarder. Polak reminds me of Moby or perhaps Billy Corgan in a sparkly unitard...Yeah this was pretty fun. They're fighting on the outside. Stevens was charismatic as heck baby face here. Polak whom I've never seen before did well. Nice finishing stretch and probably the 2nd best match thus far in the night.
Switchblade Conspiracy (Jon Moxley & Sami Callihan) vs Up In Smoke: Mox & Sami are tag champs. I'm liking this as I'm watching. It's clear they've got chemistry and experience working together. High energy but Switchblades slow the pace and take control. Hot tag happens but the Knifeboys retake the reigns. Sam's heel work is very good. The babies do all kinds of fun moves which is a shit ton of fun. Highly recommended match. 10 minutes of well worked exciting stuff. Best match of the night so far!
Big Van Walter vs Daisuke Sekimoto: Psyched for this one. 15 minutes of hard clubbering action. I got into this one, I'll be honest. Daisuke, as jacked as he is, is dwarfed by the Big One. It was hard not to get behind Sekimoto when Walter is challenging the Japanese star to give him his best shot and the Austrian isn't even phased. Highly recommended match right here.
Chris Hero vs Bad Bones: Ok, here we are. The closer to night one. Bad Bones brings an axe to the ring. The fans are pumped for Hero. I am as well but, Bad Bones cannot match him in the energy department. So, in my view, it was clear that Hero was coming out on top. This got pretty good in the end and I certainly want to see more of Metropolis' own and perhaps Bad Bones in a tag scenario in the nights to come.
Pretty good wrestling and I'm sure a blast for the live crowd. I'll say I was disappointed by the main event but, I'm liking the potential for Night 2. Those should be some really good match-ups. Not only the tourney matches but, the matches with the losers as well. I think Night #2 will be better than the first.
In true Mixed up Monday fashion, I'm going to do a whole show review which is all mixed up since, I usually just toss a couple random fun match reviews up.
I bought the official NOAH DVD from Highspots. Its got English commentary. Its not very good commentary but, its not awful either. Its laughable that at every (yes, every kickout), the lead commentator asks, "Did he kickout!?" Does he mean that he literally cannot see the kickout or is that a dramatic phrase? I wonder even as I write this. It doesn't step on the matches and well, damn that's good enough. On to the show!
A. Ito & I. Ota vs Ricky Marvin & Eddie Edwards: This is how you do a tag match- bring some hate, desire to win, desire to inflict pain or embarassment...something right? You've got to have some energy! 8 minutes of great shit beats 21 minutes of blech. Marvin & Edwards were flipping awesome here. Ito & Otis looked good too but, mainly vehicles to put Rick & Ed over. Fun stuff so, I'd recommend going outta your way to watch this as it's under 10 minutes.
Akira Taue & Mohammed Yone vs Takuma Sano & Yoshi Takayama: Stiff as a drink. Yone channels his BattlArts days. Taue's still got it in '08. Fun match.
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa, Takashi Sugiura vs Jun Akiyama, Takeshi Rikioh, Atsuhi Aoki: Good mix of styles here. They keep is interesting without going move crazy. Haven't seen Misawa (RIP) in awhile (at the time of this viewing). Ogawa is awesome as Rat Boy here. All action inside and out of the ring, double teams, triple teams- Fast and simple 6 man where everyone looks great. Highly recommended.
Naomichi Marufuji & Kento Miyahara vs Bryan Danielson & Davey Richards: NOAH is where Bryan & Davey belong...damn. Marufuji is in a goofy mood tonight but, it's all good, the gaijin team are being especially brutal. Oh shoot! That's Akira Hokuto, yay! Highly recommended? Recommended? Just a fun match? Kinda an extedned squash but, it's a blast to see Danielson & Davey in NOAH. Under 10 minutes.
The Briscoe Brothers vs Katsu Nakajima & Kota Ibushi: Prematch worry: Let's see if Ibushi gets wacky. Match starts and they are pretty evenly matched. The Briscoes look fantastic with their rough house brawling. They do well in taking the Japanese team's offense...I say that considering the range in offense of their opponents. Really, both teams are leaving it all in the ring - I'm really impressed! This is 100% bananas. 16 minutes of insanity. If you're gonna do a Jr. sprint match, this is it! Classic, classic match in this style. As the kids say, OMFG!
Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs KENTA & Taiji Ishimori: I don't know how anyone can follow that. It is a bit slower but, still exciting. I appreciate Kanemaru & Kotaro acting as straight heels with their second causing mayhem and cheating like a M.F. 20 minutes and it's a great match. So, I failed to mention that there's a Jr. Tag tournament and this was the last match but, both teams are tied OR they are #1 & #2 and they need to have the final TONIGHT! Either way, we get a second match.
I feel this 2nd bout diminished the awesomeness of the first but, still paid off and was pretty good as a whole. If you wanna take a break between matches, that might be a good idea. In total it was 31 minutes. I tend to side toward brevity nowadays but, I enjoyed the heck out of this nonetheless. I felt KENTA was subdued here so, that could be taken as a plus or minus depending on your preference. Highly recommended stuff but, again the first was my favorite.
Takeshi Morishima vs Kensuke Sasaki GHC Title Match: Stiff clubbering wrestling. Oh so many club shots and clotheslines! I wouldn't say this is a classic title match but, on a super Jr. heavy show, this was a nice change of pace & an awesome way to close out the show. You got tons of speed, fancy manuevers, and nearfalls and now...Here's the tried and true NOAH beatdown title match. Two battleships facing off for the belt. It's that intense Choshu main event style so, if done right it's an easy 4 star match for those keeping score. Great match.
The 09/06/08 NOAH Shiny Navigation was an outstanding show that offered alot of fantastic matchups that really paid off. If a full show DVD is available still and you're into that kinda thing, I say go buy it. This is especially true if you were digging ROH back in the day. Lots of cross pollination at the time between the two companies and very much the style they were going for at the time. Highest Recommendation on this show.
I'm a Hayabusa fan. I think my first exposure was from ECW clips of he & Jinsei Shinzaki vs RVD & Sabu. Then around that time, I bought a used copy of WCW vs the World for the PS1. Awesome game, tons of Japanese stars with fake names. I recognized a few though, Hayabusa being one. Thing is, I probably didn't know he was called "Hayabusa." I just knew he was this high flyer with a mask and baggy red pants...and he could keep up with Van Dam & Sabu in the crazy move department. The video game only strengthen that as it featured his standing moonsault, quebrada, phoenix splash, and the Falcon Arrow which the developers made the Steiner Screwdriver. Awesome! Crazy dives and the most head spiking move at the time (other than TD '91).
A few years after this, I was in university and was pretty much over what was going on in WWE or was it F still? Hmm...but, I got my buddies to watch death match tapes and bought Best of the Explosion Death match tape. And bam...there was Hayabusa vs Onita exploding cage death match! So, not only did I learn who 'busa was but, now a name to Onita as well (who was also in the game. His Fire Thunder P.B. was awesome!).
Then grandpa here finally got DVDs and I got a Hayabusa set to enjoy. I don't think the one I have has all of his best stuff but, it has some 'em. I've seen enough to know the wrestler's strengths and weaknesses. One match on there was he & Jinsei vs Misawa & Akiyama from '97 RWTL. Great, great stuff and it showed Hayabusa a bit more toned down. The restriction of AJ improved his execution and pacing (two weaknesses). Wow! as a fan, this was great to see. He looks on par with the AJ guys. There's a Hayabusa in AJ set out there that has a ton of matches. I'm going to watch them all but, here's the first bit that I watched... Totally psyched
Hayabusa & Yoshi Kanemaru vs Yoshinari Ogawa & Kentaro Shiga (04/19/97 AJPW): Where did this match come from!? I've never heard anyone mention this match...even derisively! Sacred steak, this was a loco Jr. action match. All kinds moves and attitude to boot. Shiga and Kanemaru (with hair!) have some beef over who's the skinniest dude in AJ (I'm talking ZSJ skinny). Hayabusa was on point with his kicks. A case of excitement crammed into 14 minutes. Very highly recommended!
Hayabusa & Jun Akiyama vs Takao Omori & Kentaro Shiga (06/06/97 AJPW): This was a really enjoyable tag match up. Excited to see more Hayabusa. This also is a good example that AJ had other stuff going on beside the big four in '97.
Shiga is plucky as all get-out. Of course, Akiyama brutalizes him in response Omori does play big brother to the Shigster...it's a good and necessary role for him here. 'Busa is the fireworks man tonight by busting out his maneuvers to perfection. He is my favorite whilst in tags. I am thankful for Baba or Misawa (or whomever has the Big Book) for keeping him in teams in AJPW. I recommend this match.
Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs Giant Kimala II & Jun Izumida (11/15/97): Well, now I've got an idea for a Halloween costume this year. Thanks Izu! But anyways...this was a bundle of fun and different from the high energy AJ at the time. Izumida was really good and played to Kimala the Sequel's strengths. They were a good believable team as a result. It was an interesting and competitive bout. 'Busa and Jinsei were good as always. I didn't want to watch this at first but, I'm really glad that I did! It's put a smile on my face
Hayabusa & Shinzaki vs Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida (02/13/99): JIP w/ a 9 minute run time. Based on what was shown, and ignorant of AJ's roster, you could think these guys were the top stars. Hayabusa was flying, Jinsei looked cool, Honda & Izumida fought like skull crushers. For instance, be on the look out for Izu's diving headbutt to a hunched over Hayabusa. I highly recommend spending the 9 minutes on this forgotten little JIP match.
Hayabusa, Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask IV vs Yoshinari Ogawa, Manukea Mossman & Masahito Kakihara (05/02/99): This took a bit to get going but, this was a great showcase for the Indy team. Hayabusa looked most dominant and in control. That's saying something since Ogawa is Misawa's #2 man. Kakihara was the highlight for the AJ team though. I think he was particularly dynamic in this setting but, I've liked him in everything I've seen of his in AJPW. Highly recommended stuff, goes longer than you think but, man its fun.
Again, gonna check more out in AJPW. Also going to dig back into FMW 20 years later. I am coming back Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling!!
I've recently acquired a big chunk of the AJPW Classics broadcast in 1999 & 2000. Generally speaking, I've got a good portion of 1988-early 1990 covered. There are a couple notable matches missing but, I'm more interested in finding hidden gems. I'm looking forward to seeing matches people talked about in the distant past and have since been forgotten or brushed aside for the newer slicker wrestling of today. I'm excited to be able to watch wrestling in a somewhat episodic fashion again too.
Starting out I have a couple episodes from 1987 that I was interested in.
AJPW Classic selection #149:
Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Shinichi Nakano (04/23/87): This was a very good all action bout. There wasn't a strong story or a tremendous amount of drama. That's OK since it was more centered on slapping and chopping the other team. Nakano put forth a lot of effort. He was out ranked but, never appeared out of his depth because he was busting his ass. Surprisingly, Yatsu looked strongest in terms of aggression and dictating the pace. He looked to have Jumbo's number. Watch for the powerbomb too. Fun match.
Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Shinichi Nakano (06/09/87): Hara is a beast! but colored me surprised Hara is the one in peril not Nakano. Again, Yatsu really shines in this match. I'd again say he's the best wrestler in there. This was really enjoyable but, over too quick. There was never a dull moment though and features two really great spots. Recommended match
The Road Warriors vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Hiroshi Wajima (06/09/87): This was pretty good when Hawk and Jumbo were in the ring. Wajima if you've never seen him is goofy. That's the case here per usual. Animal does his press slams and such but, is really too massive to be good. The chaotic ending is fun but, comes outta nowhere. It's an OK match. Personally, I hate the Roid Warriors in AJ.
Hiroshi Wajima vs. Animal Warrior (06/11/87): Well, they read my mind and gave me the worst match up of the above match...and perhaps the worst pairing for AJPW '87. I could not see this lasting more than 5 minutes since Wajima is embarrassing and Animal has little ability or personality. I had my fiance time it. Fortunately, it's around 3 minutes. Thank you!
AJPW Classic selection #150:
Giant Baba & John Tenta vs Rusher Kimura & Goro Tsurumi (05/01/87): Goro's afro and mustache is enviable. What an awesome look! Speaking of looks, Tenta is looking really fit & trim here in '87. As always, I'm giving Baba a pass for experience and the effort he puts forth despite his limited capabilities. This is better than the Road Warriors matches by the way. Rusher's overhand chopping Tenta in the throat. The big man looks awesome here...like a champ really. Referee Wada takes the best fucking ref bumps too. This was a fun, fun match. I wish I understood Japanese for Rusher's jokes at the end. Even Baba's laughing!
Jumbo Tsuruta & John Tenta vs The Road Warriors (06/08/87): Ok, this has potential. Switch Wajima for Tenta and we've got something good. And to little surprise Tenta delivered. His stuff vs Hawk was awesome. Oh shit! It's over? That was quick...fun though. Honestly, this is probably the best use for the Warriors in AJ.
Giant Baba vs Tiger Jeet Singh (06/11/87): This is what I want to follow up that short tag match. Great brawling start. Tiger's using a bucket like it's the WWF Raw game from the 90's. Yes! But from there it's more mat wrestling and less blood (if any) than I expected. Started fun but, was just OK.
Jumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Mask vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (06/11/87): This was really a lot of fun if a little disorganized. Perhaps chaotic is a more complementary way to phrase that but, that's what held it back from being a great match. Aw screw it, this was a blast especially with Tiger Mask Misawa flying around. He was revolutionary for '87 AJPW and appeared to have Tenryu beat. This match really helped elevate him. Jumbo was a bit off tonight but, wisdom says that was purposeful. It helped Tiger's star shine brighter. Highly recommended match. I think I may re-watch this.
Another couple shows from '87 for next week. DiBiase and Hansen are featured if I recall. Stoked for those as I dig DiBiase in AJ.
I miss watching 90's M-Pro. Its probably my favorite stuff to just sit back, enjoy, and smile. This tournament really helps capture the nature of the promotion at the time. Its just a lot fun. Another important aspect that's lost is the back injury story that Sasuke carries across the tournament. Here a young Naniwa deals a serious blow to Sasuke and this establishes the anyone can win nature of this tournament.
7/27 Iwate: Super Delfin vs. Gorgota Cross (Jerry Lynn)- A fine first match opener with a real athletic showing by Jerry Lynn. There were a few communication problems & there was meandering feel overall but the big drawback was that the crowd could care less. To have a multi-national masked-man tourney one would expect the crowd to extremely vocal about the inagural match; this really wasn't the case. Still it was an enjoyable start.
The Great Sasuke vs. Gran Naniwa-There was no problem here with two of the home wrestlers paired up. The small gym crowd was loving it and for good reason. This match would not seem out of place in a small venue NJPW show with meaningful matwork being the base from which spots & sequence could be built from. While the execution of a few of things wasn't necessarily up to NJ Jr. standards it was made up for with intensity & excitement. Sasuke must have done 3 dives & Naniwa took the avalanche frankesteiner to new heights. A very good showing from both men in a memorable match.
There was a lengthy highlights portion shown afterwards. What's interesting is that the highlights have there own highlights: The Convict looking like a mummy & the Hamburgular had a baby executing a picture perfect moonsault, King's Cross giving more meaning to the name "suicide dive" than is good for one's health, & Naniwa getting flash pinned by a guy looking like Fuyuki with a mask. Way too many more clips to mention except the dangerous moves section & funny moments, which is cool since it preserves the humor of the promotion.
8/12 Yamagata Shi: The Great Sasuke vs. Super Delfin- By this point in the round robin Sasuke's back is a noticible weak point and Delfin zeros in on it here. This tactic really helps guide him and Sasuke did an amirable sell job to keep it in focus. I have a feeling that the injury wasn't completely fabricated. Anyhow, what was so great was that I really believed the match could end with any submission attempt. So many of the clipped matches are won with relatively insignifcant moves. It seemed that something as common place a surfboard or Scorpion Deathlock deep into the bout screamed match-ender- especially with Sasuke's back being attacked mercilously & with the knowledge that he's not invincible (proven by Naniwa's upset). The real drawback was that the execution was spotty at times but in the context of the other matches it can certainly be forgiven. The crowd was electric so maybe that balances it out a bit; if they can overlook the mistakes so can I. Overall it was a fantastic match and the best one so far. ****+
8/13: The Great Sasuke vs. The Convict (Sergio "Super Boy" Torres)- It's easy to misjudge the Convict as a goof in a striped sweatsuit. He's a real athletic big man and his execution is pretty good. This is a one-sided bout with a big red bulls-eye painted on the Great Sasuke's back. Sasuke tries a comeback with a couple good sequences and near falls that keeps it interesting. Although it's pretty much a display of the Convict's spot-on offense and of the Great Sasuke's selling.
Super Delfin vs. Gran Naniwa- Another very good match-up from two of the home wrestlers. There was plenty of matwork and near-falls in this one so, it was easy to get excited about. It had some awkward bits but certainly was fun & I was pulling for Naniwa in this one.
After this match we get a bit of the clipped matches but nowhere as long as on Disc 1. The highlights include Gorgota Cross Lynn vs. Dos Caras and Sasuke getting a table dropped on his back by the Grand Sheik in a tag match...I think. Another nice clip portion to make you feel like a local.
8/18 Yamagata: Dos Caras vs. Super Delfin- This was a display of Dos Caras' superb ground wrestling. Delfin was in put in a dozen variations of Mr. Saltys and never looked like he was able to be on offense. Somehow he won though. Just sub-par selling on Delfin's part still entertaining because of Caras.
A few more clipped matches finish up the second disc but nothing is too memorable.
8/23 Aomori-ken Mutsu Shi: The Great Sasuke vs. Dos Caras- The meeting between the top two competitors left a lot to be desired. Fortunately we get the payoff in the finals (maybe?). The heart of the match is Dos Caras putting Sasuke in different stretches. Starting off this was really exciting as they were exchanging holds & positions. Sasuke doesn't really want to sell here and Caras isn't going to appear weak to anyone...rightfully so. This tactic makes a ground based match really uninteresting. Dory vs. Jack is so great because they really know how to milk each hold, when to turn it up & bring it back down. This match tried but they zigged when they should have zagged. Still Sasuke's flying moves were great & Caras really did well on offense as well.
8/24 Aomori-ken: Super Delfin vs. Mongolian- It's difficult to get into a match like this. It was alright but really only shown because Delfin was quick pinned while he was going for the namesake clutch. Maybe he's out of the running now...eh...it was alright.
8/25 Aomori-ken Aomori Shi:Mascara Contra Mascara: Gran Naniwa vs. Gorgota Cross- This was like a AJW match because it was all action and near-falls! Really an excellent match and blew just about every other match in the tourney outta the water. It was great to finally see Jerry Lynn given a chance to perform. ****
Fukumen World League Yushosen(finals): The Great Sasuke vs. Dos Caras- Where Naniwa vs. Lynn was AJW, Caras vs. Sasuke was AJPW. A nice slow building match with exciting matwork built into false finish teases & hellish moves...Sasuke did his awesome flying offense and Caras powerbombed Sasuke 3 times that would make Vader wince. ****
Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Tatsumi Kitahara & Shinichi Nakano (02/14/92 SWS): Tenryu looks jacked here. This was good but, a little one sided for me. Tenryu & Hara really beat the shit outta Nakano (AJPW payback?). This just got a little too samey for me to be really good.
Kenta Kobashi & Junji Izumida vs Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka (12/04/05 NOAH):I'd consider this an overlooked gem especially for 2005 Noah. So much hard chopping machismo fighting spirit stuff came from 2005 Mr. Kobashi that you wouldn't think he was capable of anything else.
...and you wouldn't be totally wrong but! his mini feud with Tenryu in 05-06 showed us that Chopbashi was capable of garnering different emotions from fans/viewers other than, "Chop him dammit! Chop him Kobashi!!" and "Oh he's dead..."
This is like a WAR match because you got Tenryu, Koshinaka, and Jun Izumida (not sure if he was in W-A-R but, he's built for it) and this was wrestled in this style. So, no head drops, apron moves, moves at all per say...this is all punches, chops (come on its Tenryu-Kobashi) and laid out so well that's it probably the most fun yet serious Noah match Kobashi had outside of his defense vs Ogawa in '03.
Ass chops, Tenryu throwing shit, Izumida eating potatoes like its Thanksgiving, Koshinaka still ruling in '05, brawling after the bell...and Kobashi chopping people dead. Great match
Fang Suzuki vs Sumie Sakai - Chain Rope, Chair pit & ladder match (12/29/2000 JD'): Not sure if that's the official name of the match...but, it presents a helluva visual, right? This was a great match. I'll just say that right off the Louisville. There were dives, blood, moves on the chairs...it was right there with ECW, FMW, or WWF at the time, in terms of inventive gimmick and actual execution. Even better, they didn't give us the fucking tour of the arena as was the fashion of the time. I liked that then, I won't lie but, only if it seemed organic. I've seen quite a few fights where there is pretty much zero reason to traipse amongst the ticket holders. Anyhow, this was Sumie kicking ass and Fang being an excellent foil. The real joy of the match is in the surprises. They had every right to milk the stips and stomp & headbutt their way into a couple highspots and bloodlettings. I don't want to spoil this for anyone. I will say the finish wasn't my favorite but, was an emphatic end to a war. Great stuff.
Susumu Yokosuka vs Milano Collection vs Touru Owashi vs Dragon Kid - 4 Way Elimination Match (08/28/04): Fantastically fun 4 man match! Although it took me a minute to figure out the gimmick w/ the turnbuckle & the hidden golden tickets. What is this Willy Wonka Wrestling!? Really cool match that was pretty crazy once things got goin' and goofy in a good way at times. The stiff lariats from Mr. "Too Many U's in my Name" really helped make this a legit match & balanced the goof troop stuff...so it was real fun, dog
So, below is the final match from the AJ 11/26/11 show which I highlighted last week. Also let's take a look at a couple GHC title defenses from 2017 NOAH.
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs SUWAMA & Takumi Soya (11/26/11 AJPW): Strong BJW have the tag belts but, this is a non title fight. It's a RWTL match-up. So here we go- Takumi smartly WRESTLES Okabayashi...fuck...do NOT get into a power battle with him. Daisuke wants SUWAMA. 'WAMA is a beast eating chops for lunch. Takumi gets back in (at some point) and wrestling smartly but, gets sucked into trading hits and early one his chest is a cherry tomato. BJW is stretching him out like a fat lady in a pair of stirrup pants. Quick tags and repeated hard slams only rub it in. Soya is in trouble. Slam, cover, 2 count, kickout, tag, repeat. SUWAMA's waiting...
This match was built brilliantly and paid off in a perfect manner. It starts out being like a ***3/4 match then, a great match like a firm ****+ but, damn this just kept getting better and better. So, I'd call this a classic match. I can't give a number or anything like that but, whew! This did it for me! Awesome closer to an awesome night of wrestling.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Go Shiozaki - GHC Title (03/12/17 NOAH): I've enjoyed Nakajima and Shiozaki matches in the past. I think their November 2005 match with their mentors is fantastic yet, I just could not get into this...
It's a case of the sons paying for the sins of their (wrestling) fathers. Imagine an entire match based on the 07/18/05 Kobashi/Sasaki chop battle. I think it was fitting that they wanted to do this in theory but, boy it did not work for me. The upped the strength of their attacks and did it for much longer but, really so have a lot of other folks in the past 12 years. Make no mistake, this had some bone shaking blows but, matches like this make me want to crawl back into my old hermit hovel.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Eddie Edwards - GHC Title (08/26/17 NOAH): Ok so, I wanted to chalk up the badness of the March match to Shiozaki. I've not been impressed with his couple post AJ run NOAH matches that I've seen. I really liked him while he was in ROH so, I've tried be a fan of his when I can although post Misawa NOAH isn't the most welcoming style for me in my 30's. I don't always have the time for 30+ epic fights. I'm off track but, I wanted to give this a shot because Katsu and Eddie, I like. I may have watched this immediately after the above match based on my write-up.
First thing I wrote after the names and dates was: "Already better than the Shiozaki match." Hahaha! That must have been like 30 seconds in!! Ok here's the rest of my take:
The pace is quicker. The intensity and the drive to win for Edwards is much more apparent. Whoa! he almost crippled Naka' on that tope! Ed's working the back...very nice. The strikes are there but, there are a variety of them as well as actual moves. At least 3 Evel Knievel suplexes. This feels like NOAH from a decade ago! A minute or 2 could have been shaved but, this was a great match.
This restored my sense of regard for Nakajima as a true puro talent as well as strengthened that sentiment for Eddie.
Like Meatloaf sang, Two outta three ain't bad...
Tatsumi Fujinami & Shinichi Nakano vs Osamu Nishimura & Yuki Ishikawa (03/03/98 MUGA): I hope you know what each guy looks like because everyone has black trunks, black boots, and black hair! This ain't your 2018 NJPW strong style with leather pants, dye jobs, and fancy colors! This is '98 MUGA and it's all about true Inoki style grappling and such.
Most of this puppy was fought on the canvas with a slap, knee or suplex thrown for good measure. 3/4 cup of matwork, scrambling & 1/4 cup slap or knee, preferably stiff.
This is probably my favorite style of matwork so, this was a dream match come true. I favor this over shoot style because I don't care for the point systems and the drama associated with keeping track of them. 1 point for rope breaks, 2 for a knockdown, 6 points for a fractured orbital bone, etc. Just fucking go for it man! That's what I want when I watch wrestling. I do enjoy shoot style but, sometimes it crosses over to 'nearly legit' and then, I remember it's not because no one in their right mind would give up that position in a real fight etc. Some kinda sex joke could probably be made there...go ahead think of one...chuckle. I did
Thank you Jetlag for posting this on the 'tube. This is a great match, a dream match! Go see this!
Osamu Kido & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Masahiro Chono (07/20/93 NJPW): Thank goodness for browsing around Youtube. Who knew this match was floating around NJ in '93? Not me I guess...
13 minutes of old school action here. I really, really dug this match...digging for gold here. Chono vs Fujiwara was the best. I'm a Chono fan so maybe I'm biased but, if you're reading this- go watch it. I highly recommend it and is a fantastic little bit of random wrestling goodness floating on down the information super highway. Mixed metaphor success!
The NJ vs NOAH feud was pretty well regarded in what was considered a down year for puro. This talk was over 5 years ago so, its something I think most people, especially those not hip to pre-Kobashi GHC title run NOAH, may have missed.
Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Jushin Liger & Wataru Inoue (02/17/02): This is one of the earliest in the feud and its full of stiff shots and heat. Its getting hot in here! Like Nelly! Remember him? Not Nelly Furtadoshe was cute though. No the rapper-esque guy with the bandages on his cheek and gold fronts. Yeah, now you remember unfortunately. I was more a Ludacris fan. And I didnt really care for him either. Where was I? Oh! Wrestling!! This was a fun fire building match especially when you pick a side. I picked NOAH. I like Liger but, most of the NJPW roster at this point in time is unremarkable. Inoue is a good example of that. Anywho...It was great seeing Kikuchi of yore. I mean this dude stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Jumbo and Kawada in the early 90s. He brings what remains of that of part of his intestine with him to this match. Kanemaru is fun but certainly needs that surly old goat to help him out against the likes of Liger and Watery Inoue.
Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (04/07/02): God what happened to Liger!? Why is he such a jerk-ass heel!? Man does he punk the hell out of old Kikuchi and fancy pants Kanemaru. This was pretty good but, the NOAH team was out classed and outmatched. That doesn't stop them from laying in some shots. I'm a bit of a Minoru fan so, this was a fun one. He was such a dick here! This isn't so much a puro-style match as a fun American heel-babyface type tag match.
KENTA vs Wataru Inoue (08/29/02): This is wrestled like you typical early 2000s junior match. Theres a lot of stiff elbows to no real effect, theres fun spots but, the match isnt awesome or anything. It's a quick small show match with two youngsters. I love me some KENTA and if youre a fan then you'll like this one. He bleeds from his mouth and he wouldn't want it any other way. Its pretty good for two rookies. Solid but, unremarkable. By the way the cross-arm bar and the mounted elbows are really big in 2002 it seems. I think this is from the influence of PRIDE Fighting or Takayama or something.
Koji Kanemoto vs Makoto Hashi (08/29/02): Hashi goes up against king prick Koji! The thing is that Koji thinks hes tough shit but, Hashi is from NOAH- the hardest hitting, biggest bomb dropping-est (what?) promotion in the world. Thats good for Hashi since Koji figures hell practice his kicks on young Makotos lumpy head. Makoto remembers he eats kicks for breakfast - Kid tested mother approved. In turn, he chops and head butts the piss out of Kanemoto. I mean Hashi brings his A game to take out the then IWGP Jr. champ. I'm always rooting against that smirking bastard! I love to hate him. The Noah Doughboy does me proud. Now that I think about it this match reminds me of the early 90s NJ vs. WAR feud. Its good stuff.
No one really seems to talk about the 1980's Japan anymore. That ship has sailed and people have moved on to other stuff, I suppose. A few years ago...maybe 5 years...I can't remember, NJPW, AJPW, and essentially UWF were being watched in depth and ranked by a good handful of folks. Pretty awesome stuff. I've got the lists saved on a USB drive. I'm not going to even try to recreate or resurrect the 80's projects with my Saturday posts but, I love the 80's Japan stuff. 1986-1988 NJPW is one of my favorite periods in puro. Even in posting these, I realize how much more I need to check out in 1987 NJPW.
Nobuhiko Takada & Akira Maeda vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka (03/20/87): Oh my goodness! This match was awesome! The UWF team was soooo stiff and the NJ team was just totally exciting yet, looked good taking a beating. Maeda wasn't going to kick somebody unless he could kick them in the head. This seriously was bell to bell fun. There were moments where the excitement ebbed but then bam! It flowed right back to where it was before. A true lesson in crowd control that frankly you only witness in the finest of wrestling matches. This stuff is timeless.
Takada & Maeda vs Mutoh & Koshinaka (03/26/87): Damn these guys can really go! In six days these guys delivered another must-see tag match. Surprisingly it's in a different vein than the earlier one although there are some similarities. Both teams just have great chemistry and put over each others moves so well. Fast paced action throughout & certainly the stuff tag fans like myself can never see enough of. Not as good as the first but, still really great stuff. The abrupt finish is the only thing holding it back from being an all time classic match. ****1/4+ type scenario.
Takada & Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kazuo Yamazaki (05/25/87): I'll have to re-watch this as I was a bit tired but, still this was a very good stiff match. I didn't really appreciate Takada killing the momentum in this match with leg locks or arm-breakers when it wasn't really called for. Match was really something with the other 3 guys though as Maeda's perfectly OK with getting kicked in the head.
Takada vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (08/20/87): The '87 IWGP Jr title finals. This took a damn long time to warm up as it was Takada's usual stall job. He uses cross-arm breakers and wakigatame as rest holds! Come on! He's a good worker but doesn't know how to use his submission moves to build heat, he just throws them out there. Kobayashi is pretty cool here but sorta lets Takada go which hurts the match until the final stretch which is pretty top notch. Selling of damage would really help in this setting. ***1/2ish perhaps...
Takada & Maeda vs Fujiwara & Yamazaki (09/01/87): I felt this was better than the 5/25 match because Takada wasn't in too much to kill the momentum. His time killers were ok because he was in just for a little bit. Still the other 3 were much better and Fujiwara really brought his B+ game here especially with Maeda who continues to be one of my favorites because he strives for realism. Case in point he had a Kobashi mouse on his cheek...take your pick which head shot did that! The big downside with these UWF only matches is that the exciting aspects like double team moves and drama generators like saves are eschewed in the pursuit of a "pure" athletic competition. Re-watched: Saw this a day or two later with my Dad who's pretty critical & he really liked it. That's the confirmation I needed this is a damn good match. I wish the ending was better but, still good and more natural than I thought. Plus it helps push Yamazaki forward.
Takada & Yamazaki vs Keiichi Yamada & Shiro Koshinaka (10/25/87): I strongly feel that the best showcase for the UWF guys in NJPW is against regular workers. It lets them work their submission against "trained" sellers so the drama and importance is really played up. Also the UWF guys are really good pro-wrestlers too so they have no problem taking the pro moves as well as incorporate some of their own. This really helps the variety of the match. In any case the best guys to face the shooters are Fujinami, Koshinaka & Yamada. I also liked Mutoh in '87...anyhow...this was another really great match...which I've forgotten the ending of but, I just love how these guys work together
Koshinaka, Yamada & Yamazaki vs. Hiro Saito, Kintaro Hoshino & Kensuke Sasaki (12/03/87): This was an all action 6 man match. It really was a showcase for the stars. I cant say it was back and forth as 5 minutes were skipped ahead. Nonetheless this was a fun action packed match. I dont think there was much drama but, that doesn't take away from how enjoyable this was.
It seems like people are into current joshi and that's cool. I watched some Wave & Stardom a year or two ago. Its not bad. Its cool but, not really my cup of Earl Grey.
Here's a run down of one of my favorite old school joshi shows:
1) Miori Kamiya vs. Etsuko Mita: jip A brief little example of joshi wrestling. There were some nice moves in what was shown.
2) 3 Minutes 5 Rounds: Sakie Hasegawa vs. Kaoru Ito- These are two of my favorite underrated wrestlerskicking each other in the face. They're young and tough. I'll say thatagain joined in progress.
3) Coolie SZ & Bulldog KT (Jado & Gedo) vs. Monkey Magic Wakita & Masa Michinoku (Delfin & Sasuke). This is novelty at best. You get to see what Super Delfin and Sasuke look like before they donned the hoods. Coolie and Bulldog are much better in this but both teams are still green. The M-Pro future could be seen from some of their spots and chemistry. It was slow and scrambled. The joshi fans couldnt have cared less. That sounds like hyperbole but, about 10 people were interested in this match. Considering the success of these 4, its kinda ironic but, we all come from humble beginnings, I suppose. This too is JIP.
4) Mika Takahashi & Kaoru Maeda & Esther Moreno vs. Hyper Cat & La Diabolica & Kyoko Inoue.- This is the first full match we get and boy what a fun match. Its real loose but, the hyper pace helps hide the holes in execution. Esther is excellent however and really provides the greatness as the technica. Maeda and Takahashi are good as well. Diabolica is your standard ruda but, works well with all her opponents. Kyoko is still green but has her moments and Hyper Cat is shaky at first but, shines especially when working with Esther. Again, a match like this reminds me why 88-92 are probably my favorite years for wrestling. The matches, especially non-headline matches, are worked where any move can be a finisher. Also, the fruits of sending young talent across the globe during the early to mid 80s are starting to ripen. This match was a good joshi/lucha hybrid example of this.
5) 3 Minutes 6 Rounds: Yumiko Hotta vs. Mima Shimoda.- I thought that this might be interesting. Ive heard good things about this match. Its kinda like a MMA match of sorts. Its a worked shoot sorta. It is pretty brutal at times. Aww hell- It is boring. Its neither MMA nor pro-wrestling. Its not worth watching. Sure there are worse matches in this kick box-esque style but, why it wasnt clipped like the Hasegawa/Ito match is only because of the stars involved. These kickbox matches are time killers at best. If you have to see everything once, watch this in fast forward.
6) Noriyo Tateno 2000 Jiai: Noriyo Tateno & Medusa vs. Mitsuko Nishiwaki & Suzuka Minami.- This one was an OK tag match. I cant really say there was anything remarkable but, it worked for the crowd as it was Tatenos 2000th match. Shes a good wrestler and its nice to see her honored. She was very good with the Jumping Bomb Angels in the 80s. With that said, this match was like most JB Angels matches- Very good but, nothing terribly memorable. In all honesty, I may chalk that up to Tateno. Her offense is well executed yet pedestrian. Her real attribute is playing the Babyface in Danger. Thats nice but, it doesnt do much for me since, I have no real reason to care. Maybe if I wanted to buy a bunch of AJW from the mid 80s, I might have a soft spot in my heart for her...
7) Manami Toyota vs. Akira Hokuto. Baby Toyota vs. Baby Hokuto! This is full of nice surprises especially from Toyota who doesnt have her 90s moveset just yet. So there are no moments where she bites off more than she can chew nor, times where you can call which one of her favorite tricks she is going to do. Here she has a solid match which is fought manly on the ground. This works because Joshi puroresu is still in the old style where singles matches are mat matches with nice highspots serving as points of action and transition. I like this because moves in this match and other great matches of its ilk are used to secure pinfalls or to shift momentum and then take control back on the mat with a hold. So, with that being my preference when all is said and done, I really enjoyed this match. I would call it a great match but, not tremendous in terms of moves or brutality as many of their 90s matches would be. Again, the style had not shifted at this point but, if you want to look at where it would be going-look to this match. It bridges the gap by pushing the speed, complexity, and accuracy of maneuvers, while working submissions aggressively and inserting classic pinning predicaments. ****1/2 perhaps
8) Aja Kong & Bison Kimura vs. Bull Nakano & Grizzly Iwamoto.- This one was fucking brutal! This was one of the most emotional and destructive spectacles that I have ever had the joy to witness. Everyone was trying to beat the living shit out of one another in some primal kind of way. These women would never be the same after this disturbing confrontation. There is no doubt about it. This match, if you want to call it that, covered Korakuen Hall in boiling hot blood and sweat soaked face paint for days. The echo of their howls could be heard months after. This is a must-see classic. *****
Naoki Sano is one of those guys I'll always make an effort to check out if a match comes my way. His feud with Liger was one of the first puro arcs that I watched so, in a way he helped shaped my early opinions and preferences.
OK whatever but, here I am with a new batch of unseen (to me) Sano whilst exploring proto-Wrestle and Romance...SWS.
Two I'd recommend straight up are Sano vs fellow Indy journeyman Masao Orihara and vs Rick Martel. The Orihara match is bananas with the dives and fast paced offense...for the most part...there is a submission section in the middle. Sano goes for broke and destroys Masao at the end though. Snaps his rear suplexes so hard Ori's toes touch the mat.
The Martel match is the shorter of the 2 that I found online. I believe its 8/9/91 and is roughly 5 minutes of pedal to the metal 80s technical junior offense. I loved it, it was short and to the point and put over the power of a technical pinning predicament.
Naoki Sano & Samson Fuyuki vs Tatsumi Kitahara & Tito Santana in Super World Sports from 8/5/91. Joined 5 minutes in, I believe...this is an all-action bout. Everyone was working fast and with a purpose. Kitahara brought the stiffness with his blue and pink tights, Fuyuki was still fast, there were some sick piledrivers and, Sano & Tito were going non stop. The finishing segment was great with guys all over the place including a Sano tope that apparently erased Tito from this plane of existence. Highly recommended for fans of quick action tags.
WAR (OK SWS) is about the hate, and guys taking punches to the mush, etc. so I wanted to get one of those type of matches with our man of the hour in there. And here we have the beaut that is Fuyuki, Ishikawa & Kitahara vs Sano, Shinichi Nakano & The Great MFing Kabuki. Sano brings the junior offense, Kabuki keeps drilling jaws with his punches, Ishikawa hits lariats and a hell of a plancha but, its all about Fuyuki and Nakano trying to beat the shit out of each other. Watch out for Nakano's pinning piledriver. Rabid pace, blood... wanna watch this again right now
Isami Kodaka vs Kenji Fukimoto (03/05/17 BJW) - Gusset Plates & Sawed Off Cans 2-Sided Death Match: Stumbled across this match online and the sawed off cans (as in tin cans) caught my attention. Surprisingly un-gory (as modern death matches go) and tons of fun to watch. A ladder shows up and the tin can board spots are cringe inducing. As an infrequent deathmatch watcher, I would highly recommend this.
I've been watching death matches more since I first watched this and it has been on the short list of must see matches.
Speaking of death matches, we've got the master of the death match, Atsushi Onita, doing his 4th (?) comeback tour. Here are a couple wacky ones:
Atsushi Onita vs Masakatsu Funaki - Triple Weapons Explosion match (07/24/16 Zero-1): I think this is odd for the mere fact that grappling guru Funaki is in a fucking death match. Who would have thought that looking back upon the King of Pancrase, he'd be in an exploding match with Onita!? So, we've got a table, chairs, a barbwire board that explodes, and barb wire bats that blow up! Holy frijoles! Coming in at around 10 minutes, it is all spots...but what spots they are It's a ton of fun. I even had to show my fiance the exploding bats part. Gather the family!
Atushi Onita, Aja Kong & Okamoto vs Bob Sapp, Jaguar Yokota & TARU - Explosion match (05/12/17 Zero-1): I'm going to hazard a guess that the match stipulation is more than just explosion match but, screw it! That's what I wrote down! Ok, so this is the best kind of sleazy that I could hope for. None of that Joey Ryan crap. We've got everyone over the hill first off. Onita is so far over the hill that he's under it. We've got a guy with his name in all CAPS, a chubby dude that I've never heard of, two joshi legends, and then Bob *fucking* Sapp. On top of that we have exploding bats (again), aimless shitty brawling, botched moves, actual wrestling by the joshi, and then Bob *fucking Giant Baba* Sapp. This is the polar opposite of that slick sterile stuff that gets passed off as wrestling today. Bless Onita & bless Zero-1.
I'm going to dig into wXw's 2010 16 carat Gold Tournament but, am only a few matches in. This is what I've got so far from Day #1:
Ares vs Matt Jackson: Fun 8 minute match with a bit of comedy from Ares.
Munenori Sawa vs Paul Tracey: I'm not familiar with Tracey. Sawa looked good and Tracey was OK. 7 minutes and better than the first bout.
Yuji Okabayashi vs Martin Stone: Best match so far. Very good to see grappling here in this setting. Simple but, effective stuff. Stone gets the upset with a DDT. Recommended first round match.
So, another project of mine is to take a look at 2010's AJPW. I'm going to try and cover it chronologically but, I've got to go back and rewatch a few things since I've lost my one notebook. Anyhow...
SUWAMA, Masakatsu Funaki & Takao Omori vs Seiya Sanada, Taiyo Kea & Manabu Soya (09/25/11 AJPW): This is exactly the exciting, hard hitting match that I hoped it would be. It never treads into parody of former AJPW or NOAH territory with unneeded strike battles or meaningless machismo. The characters play their part during the 20 minutes of action. Highly recommended match.
Koji Kanemoto vs KAI - Jr. Tournament Finals (09/25/11 AJPW): Holy crap! This was awesome They really beat the crap out of each other. KAI is a guy that I've seen a couple times and liked. I'd not yet say, "Hey gotta search out me some KAI footy!" but, he is one to watch. Koji worked on the leg here, setting up for his Ankle Hold. KAI did very well in selling the leg damage (even though he did do some flying moves). I felt he sold it enough within the narrative: He's young and he's going to work with the moves that got him to the finals.
Koji was punk as fuck and the A+ worker that he can be- especially as the tough vet. The match featured loads of stiff strikes, variety and smarts. Both guys were battered by the end. It was a true contest for something important and a classic match in the Jr. tradition.
Kaz Hiyashi & KENSO vs Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): KENSO is another guy that I've come to watch for. He's kinda a heel and uses his belt to choke guys. I like this kind of guy in the 2010's. He's got some moves but, is much more of a character than a world class athlete. I'm kinda tired of guys that are young athletes but, rely upon a gimmick rather than their abilities. They work a parody gimmick but, have no idea how their work matches up to their character. So, they do a bunch moves that their character would/should not do. KENSO is a guy where he's got a charisma about him without being a cartoon character with a 100 moves.
Anyways, this match was one long finishing run at 11 minutes. Very exciting rush match. Minoru & Koji are cocky jerks taunting KENSO until he has to smack the taste outta their mouths. At this run time, I highly recommend watching this. Its just good stuff.
Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs Seiya Sanada & KAI - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): Here's that KAI fella again! Omori & Soya have teamed up here as Wild Hearts. The thing is Sanada & Soya were tag partners just a few months ago. Not sure who wanted the split but, they square off right at the bell. Seiya goes for speed and shocks Soya. KAI's in there and they go for the double team. These two young guns look dynamic as all get out!
Oh shit! They are fighting in the stands now. Old man Omori's out there choking Sanada with a child's parasol! Hahahaha! Back on inside the ring and KAI's trying Soya but, come on dude! Manabu is a freaking caveman...and not the Fred Flintstone type either.
Omori gets in there and wisely slows things down with KAI. The K man eventually finds an opening to get Seiya, the fire plug, going. Omori's had enough and puts big Soy sauce in there. Hey, deadlift suplex a motherfucker, Soya! This is a real back and forth match. Omori's trying to Axe Guillotine Driver KAI off the top now. Great! erase his head from existence!
Just tons of double team destruction but, surprisingly never goes into bonkers territory. Both teams were very impressive. This was a great match.
Crazy enough, that was not the main event of the night! I'll get to that next week
Giant Baba, Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada, Masanobu Fuchi & Akira Taue (01/29/94 AJPW): What do ya know!? Another match from today's date Just stumbled across this write up in the back of a notebook.
The 6 man matches of AJPW were really something. I know you're probably a little worried about Giant Baba working a match in 1994. I was too! If you've never seen Baba then, do yourself a favor and watch a couple older matches of his. One of many against The Sheik or Abdullah the Butcher. They're usually quick and chaotic...perfect for any of you young workaday kids out there. Once you've got a couple under your belt, come back and appreciate '94 Baba.
So, this is in Korakuen Hall, the best wrestling venue in Japan. The fans are awesome and are chanting Masa Fuchi's name louder than Misawa's!! They are hardcore fans I think Dave M. gave this match 5 pinecones but, I didn't think it was THAT good. Maybe he was there in person and yeah...I'd buy that.
My favorite segments were Kawada dealing with Kobashi. And I'm not sold on the Kawada vs Kobashi single encounters but' these two are magic when on opposite sides of the tag ring. It's beautiful when Dangerous K sneak attacks the more heart than brains Kobashi! I didn't seem to have much more in my notes but, highly recommend this one. I think it's really good to go back and revisit these oddly booked team matches in AJPW. Most people, including your author, focused too much on the super saiyan classic encounters of the 90's and not enough on the odd or unassuming little gems.
Chigusa Nagayo vs Lioness Asuka (02/26/87 AJW): Extremely high workrate and paries were the hallmark of this match. Lioness was the tougher of the two but Chigusa wouldn't back down. There were times this could have been a ***** classic but they went to the finishing-move well too many times for me. The restart only hurt the match.
Re-watch the next day: This is definitely a better match on the re-watch since, I knew what to expect move-wise and the ending. If I understood Japanese, I'm sure I would've caught the announcers talking about time running out, which undoubtedly corresponds to the go-for-broke attitude toward the end. After some thought, I've realized that my initial disappointment stems from the fact that it's less of a shocker-match. The outrageous moves and brutal stiffness just aren't there...so that tendency to give this type of a match a lower rating upon initial viewing has to be overcome by a second or third watching. Classic matches like this forced the moves to be faster and crisper, the strikes to be harder, and the drama to be more nail-biting. It's required viewing for joshi fans.
For the Indy fans out there: This summer, I watched 2 Murdoch in the sleazies matches. In IWA Japan vs Motegi: This was pretty darn good stuff. Technical bout with nice kicks and arm work by Motegi. Dude stayed focused like a laser on Dick's arm. Everyone was buying that pain. Murdoch was no slouch either finding escapes out of holds and pounding the life out of Motegi when he could. High recommendation.
Then, there's Dick vs Matsunaga in W*ING '92. This is more karate vs wrestler than, brawling which is what I was expecting. This was clipped but, again I didn't see any fault in that. Both guys really laid it in...moreseo Murdoch. For every 5 Mr. Danger kicks to the arm & body Capt. Redneck elbowed straight down to the face. Yup, this was good stuff.
Its always a bit of fun when you're going back to write about or watch wrestling matches and it's the date of a historically important match. Or is that just me? Today is the 32nd anniversary of the much loved Choshu & Yatsu vs Jumbo & Tenryu tag match in AJPW. It's like a holiday No celebration but, still pretty cool and a reason to be hyped for the day. Plus it's sunny out so, that's nice too!
Here's my take on the match and if you have not watched it, make some time this week to give it a go!
Jumbo Tsuruta/Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu (1/28/86 AJPW): This was a precursor of the great tag matches of the AJPW 90's. The pacing is great, it starts with great tag moves from Choshu/Yatsu but, things break open when Jumbo & Tenryu kick Riki's ribs to dust. Eventually he makes the tag & the remainder of the match is like Funk Bros. chaos. Fortunately Tiger doesn't call for the bell. Tenryu's kicking ass & Yatsu is just amazing. Great near-falls, moves that re-occur throughout the great matches in the 90's, fantastic psychology but, also what I'd consider Joshi like excitement. This is just about a perfect match to me.
I was going to prattle on about some random mid-90's matches today as well but, there's no need. Today's match is so good that it really should stand alone.
Here are some really great tag matches from New Japan in 1986 that don't get much talk. Thought I'd share the love!
Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido vs Antonio Inoki & Keiichi Yamada (02/05/86): Wow what a great little match! The crowd really lets you know what's up since the work isn't mind-blowing or anything. This is the beginning of the legendary UWF/NJ feud and you can tell right here that dammit! It means something. Each guy just does his job well and it really pushes the intensity. Takada is such a bastard here & Yamada is such a good underdog but, we always knew that! Kido was impressive & Inoki is such a badass that anytime he was in the ring the place blew up with cheers as if the smallest offense could end the UWF guys chances.
Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido (08/05/86): An excellent strong-style tag match that was awesome when Fujinami & Maeda was were in together. They did some neat allusions to their 06/12 classic with Fujinami dodging the corner wheel kick. Maeda was sort of all over the place with his kicks, in the dangerous kind of way for instance he blasted Kengo in the mouth that almost killed the match. Still that makes him exciting and dangerous...adding to the combat sport aspect of strong-style. I would've liked a smoother finish. Overall pretty great match and fun compliment to the 06/12 match.
Takada & Fujiwara vs Shiro Koshinaka & George Takano (09/05/86): A very good tag match with Takano being much better here than as Cobra, Takada was also much better here especially with his kicks, Fujiwara & Koshinaka are awesome throughout.
Akira Maeda, Kazuo Yamazaki, Nobuhiko Takada, Osamu Kido & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs George Takano, Kantaro Hoshino, Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami (09/16/86): People don't think this one is as good as the one in March & maybe they're right but, I didn't think so. I thought this one was much better from an in-ring stand point. It was a sprint like the last one but there was actual sprinting and much more involved one-on-one action as the feuds had developed & the NJPW team was better without the fat old blonde guy Ueda & Inoki wasn't there to be the spoiler...it helped put the finish in doubt.
Hiroshi Hase: Hase is probably the most overlooked great in-ring worker of Japan's 1990's golden era. His abilities and athleticism have been compared to Kobashi in the past. However, he was not regarded as such within NJ. First he was considered an excellent Jr. until Liger and contemporaries changed the style. He was a heavyweight but, would only see tag teams success. That seems very good but, compare that to the successes of his peers in NJ and even AJ at the time. Its clear that he wasn't used to his full potential as a singles star. His political career surely had an effect especially later in the 90's but, this could be a chicken or egg situation.
If we look back through time, we see he was very adaptable to whatever division or style was in vogue. He could do the traditional NJ Choshu style against UWF guys ('88 classic with Takada), tag teamer (early 90s matches against Steiners) as well as do the evolution of Strong style (the brilliant '94 IWGP match vs. Hashimoto). In addition to this, he helped put the Muta character on the map in Japan. It was no small feat and Hase's skills helped frame the legendary villain in an era where the over the top heels were being phased out.
Its unfortunate that he has not been lauded as an all time NJ great. I think his work in AJPW, although brief, is fantastic and a direct line to what the Hashimoto title match showed. His limitations were not in skill but, in booking. He's one of my personal favorites. Charismatic, talented storyteller and a hell of a wrestler. Here is a sampling of the good stuff:
Hiroshi Hase vs. Keichi Yamada (02/04/88 NJPW): A fun, smart, well wrestled match. Each man picked his opponent apart as best they could. Of course Yamada had his moves from the top rope but, Hase surprised me with some of his maneuvers. He was pretty brutal as he was still a protégé of Riki Chosu. This of course wasnt the classic one would hope for but, it was pretty good stuff. I just wish it could have gone on longer as it was just starting to pick up when it ended. Thats really the only knock on this match but, this tendency to go-home around 10 minutes is an 80s Jrs. thing.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Hiroshi Hase (03/11/88 NJPW): I was expecting a mat wrestling clinic but um...we didn't get that. That's OK though since both guys brought their A game and Takada wasn't stalling here and Hase was his great self albeit a bit of a heel/Choshu mode which was very cool because Takada seemed quite vulnerable. Just an awesome match with great performances by both men and a match that goes on their highlight reel. Takada was really getting in a rut in the summer of '87 save a couple matches. This is an awesome match and shows Takada really wanting to go out of NJPW with a bang. Another piece of evidence that the UWF guys or Takada at least was best against NJPW guys. It allowed him to fluff off their "fake wrestling" offence, allowed them to really put over the holds as near-finishes since they weren't experienced "shooters." It provided unorthodox sequences and rope running scenarios and they made so much out of the "fake" offence when it did connect. No one's style was discredited as they were simply different points on the same continuum. Classic match here...
Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Bam Bam Bigelow & Vader (03/01/92 NJPW): I read that 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. Another classic.
Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroshi Hase (12/13/94 NJPW): Now, this really is the match I was hoping it would be. It could probably be up there with 6/12/86 and 8/8/88 as the bench marks of Strong Style. This was the modern version so, it wasn't as pure or as outright compelling as those two but, WCW Japan (NJPW) was no longer neck and neck with AJPW in terms of match quality. I would put this next to Chono vs Mutoh at the innagural G1 Climax final. It's really that good. Hash has no problem being brutal as I've come to see but, here it escalates and transitions with drama. Each guy really is giving it his all. It's also clear how good a wrestler Hase. Hash may have many qualities but, he lacks something that really shoots this match into perfect all time must see 5 star territory.
So, this might be a continuation of Hashimoto Strong Style but for all intents and purposes this was about as "halcyon King's Road" as I've seen NJ get in both work & length. That's confusing but, whatever it was a classic bout!
Steiner Brothers vs. Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase (01/04/95 NJPW): The best of their matches that I've seen. I could tell from the get go that the Steiners were taking this one seriously. Mutoh was awesome here as the fire plug MF'er that we wish he always could've been. The basic strikes were never the Steiners strong suit (either too soft or near legit) but, if you can get past that it's an awesome tag match. If they were reasonably stiff then this would be a near classic but as it is I'll call it great. A great pay-off & totally unexpected finish.
Hiroshi Hase vs Kenta Kobashi (8/26/97 AJPW): This was such an awesome match. Hase was in top form here. He instilled the direction and psychology of the bout. Knowing that Kobashi is at the top of the food chain in All Japan, Hase set on out-wrestling and disabling Kobashi's legs. The Orange Crush could only really react to Hases offense. This in a sense gave Hase the credibility he needed to challenge Kenta but, in another sense kept this from being a 5 star match. Kobashi did not have a game plan and he got out of his depth as the former Olympian was wrestling circles around him. This may be the in-match story and it certainly deserves a re-watch with this in mind. With all of that being said, this was a fantastic match. It was an older style, very competitive mat based match with perfect pacing and execution. Although Kobashi was excellent, his selling of the leg damage could have been better. Hase was absolutely superb though. He showed vulnerability yet strength in overcoming the pain and fatigue. This is completely what I had hoped for and more.
I'd like to dig deeper into Hase in '88 as well as '99-'02 AJPW stuff. I've got a lot of projects already lined up but, I'm sure I'll make time
This past summer I took the time to learn about the SWS promotion in Japan. I also branched out from the non Tenryu matches of WAR. I was pleasantly surprised. I'd like to go back and revisit those two companies here in my blog. Plus, see what good old Tenryu was doing in the 2000's as a freelancer. Here are some oldies but goodies:
Ashura Hara, Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs. King Haku, Shinichi Nakano & Yoshiaki Yatsu (08/05/91 SWS): Fast paced and stiff as a starched shirt. Very reminiscent of the 6 mans in AJPW late 80s & '90 just with most punches to the face. Highly recommended.
Naoki Sano & Samson Fuyuki vs Tatsumi Kitahara & Tito Santana in Super World Sports also from 08/05/91. Joined 5 minutes in, I believe...this is an all-action bout. Everyone was working fast and with a purpose. Kitahara brought the stiffness with his blue and pink tights, Fuyuki was still fast, there were some sick piledrivers and, Sano & Tito were going non stop. The finishing segment was great with guys all over the place including a Sano tope that apparently erased Tito from this plane of existence. Highly recommended for fans of quick action tags.
WAR-FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF REVOLUTION show from 6/17/93. Haven't watched the Hash vs Tenryu match yet and opted for the less herald matches. (Still haven't!)
Hase vs Fuyuki is a great one which has some buzz but, I took a chance on Masashi Aoyagi vs Takashi Ishikawa and wow! Grumpy dudes beating each other up for 5 minutes, I'm game! So also checked out Koki Kitahara vs Masahiro Chono which was more like a mid 80s strong style match. More evenly fought despite Chono being in there, I dug it. Plus the Jr match of the card, Ultimo Dragon vs Norio Honaga. First Honaga match for me but, was impressed. He kept the craziness in check so when Dragon busted out the fancy shit it was meaningful and impressive... Still I thought Honaga's running neck breaker drops were the best move in the match. Looked like he decapitated Mr. Asai.
Highly recommended show and I haven't even seen the big Tenryu match yet. Its been a pleasant surprise. On paper, every one of the above matches had the potential to be a massive time vacuum but, were great in their own way.
Genichiro Tenryu & Masa Fuchi vs Toshiaki Kawada & Nobutaka Araya (06/30/01 AJPW): A very stiff yet frenetically paced match. I'm not sure that worked in these guys' favor...there never was too much of a simmering hate period. It was more warming up, face punch, lukewarm action, boiling potatoes, finish.
The issue is that it lacked an internal story of note. This was made worse by having poor pacing. I feel like T., F. & K. wanted to take it back to 89-90 and have a fast paced action match with a straight forward story and scrub the Kings Road escalation of violence style. Or in simple terms, make it more WAR and less NOAH.
It just didn't come off right. Moves weren't sold as they should be, drama wasn't built, and this was really counter to their objective. It was too simple...here we'll run around and hit each other.
It seemed like they were trying for a updated classic approach but, it needed refinement. (Akiyama led AJ [2013-2015] may be this style that K. & T. were going for here and in their other bouts around this time).
Nevertheless, it was pretty good and the stiff as a board shots were very respectable...for 15 minutes, its a good watch.
My first exposure to Japanese wrestling was through ECW. So, it made sense that once I could get my hands on real to life VHS tapes of the stuff, it was going to be hard core death match stuff. The first tape I got was the awesome yet, grainy as hell History of BJW death matches. This had all kinds of insane and yes, wacky stipulation/gimmick matches. The piranha and cactus & scorpion death match stuck out in terms of that "what the hell?" factor. To lose, you have to get dunked in a fish tank with the creatures...its fun in a stupid way. Love the stuff, puts a smile on my face. It's a really awesome niche in Japan's wrestling scene which I'm glad of. I've got a penchant for wrestling with odd rules, props, or people showing up and I'd like to share some every Wednesday.
The Bloody vs Megumi Yabushita (03/23/03 Metal Garage - TWF Title - Jd'): Both ladies start out on the top of cage hell in a cell style. The setup of their cell looks pretty good actually. Its grittier looking than the WWE version but, seems to have better support beams. What the hell am I talking about that for?
So, they pick up chairs then drop the chairs because they want to grapple, I suppose? Ok sure, why not? They then fight on the cage and this looks pretty good where I want to see more...which is a positive since I'm a minute into the match. The one woman almost falls off the top! Then the other climbs into a hole in the corner and looks to climb down a ladder to get in the ring. I believe she then climbs up an A-frame ladder to pull the TWF belt down. In the middle of this she gets middle drop kicked off said ladder. This was pretty cool! Then Clipping! We are now (well, they are...I'm on my couch) on top of the cage again. This time the ladder is up there with them. It is actually in a vertical position too. So picture a ladder onto of hell in a cell. Stuff happens including the ref almost getting knocked off the top! and someone wins. This was clipped down to 7+ minutes of wackiness. Thank you editors! I must assume that the rest of the match is crud if this is what was shown. Nonetheless, this was a trip.
Jaki Numazawa vs. Yuko Miyamoto (03/14/17 Iron Cage & Lighttubes Death Match - BJW): Oh! So there's light tubes in the iron cage! See I thought they had to put the guy in the cage to win the contest. This was shot from a fixed camera so, it wasn't clear. I get it now.
Regardless, there was a single person shark cage (?) in one corner and fluorescent tubes attached to the ropes where, of fucking course, the fans were seated. I suppose they wanted to be sprayed with glass! The thing is- the sides where there were no tubes, no one was sitting!!? If I got to the show and they told me "yes, seating is on these two sides" and then they started putting up fucking glass tubes 5 feet from where I'm sitting, I'm damn well moving to the empty seats. BJW can kiss my ass. Try to move me back! You'll get a death match you didn't expect! I don't like balloons for the same reason. Have some little twat kid pop one at a party and I'm blinded by latex bullet. I've wandered off course haven't I?
This was pretty fun and not too long at 7+ minutes in full. I enjoyed watching the seconds or young boys travel around the ring in a futile attempt to block flying glass from the fans at ringside.
I am not one to try and keep up with current wrestling- stateside or internationally. I am curious though and will try and watch stuff that's really hyped. The emphasis is on "try."
The new stuff ends up getting pushed aside by some older match or feud that seems way more interesting or less involved. New or current stuff kinda forces the viewers to keep up in order to get the most enjoyment out of it especially if I want to discuss it here on PWO. I just don't have the time to spend on trying to learn all of the "new" people and their back stories and angles they're working. I'm talking specifically about the US wrestling behemoth who entertains the world.
Its a bit easier to pop my head into the NJPW fish tank since I'm somewhat familiar with their roster. I watched a couple matches from this year's Wrestle Kingdom as well as a couple Omega matches from 2017. I like him. He's fun, he's goofy but, can get serious. I like to think of him as The Joker... more Nicholson than Heath.
I like that NJ has a relationship with ROH as well. This gives me a good chance to see some Japanese stars here in the States but, it freshens ROH up as well. This is something I've liked about TNA in the past. I loved the X international tournament that had DG's Speed Muscle and Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero in it. I got tired of the tired old WCW revival crap. I digress...
"Current" for me is 2015...maybe 2016. That's pushing it. I'm watching stuff from 2011 and it seems pretty damn modern. I guess watching matches from the 70's then matches from a few years ago days MAY mix my brain up. What I'm getting at is that I'm trying (again emphasis on "trying") to get a little more current with my viewing. Its a project of mine for 2018. Watch more stuff from the 2010's...which is crazy since the decade is winding down!
I've got a list of a bunch of unwatched matches I want to cover but, in the meantime, here are some recent favorites:
Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA & Takao Omori (07/28/13 AJPW 2/3 falls match) Wow...wow! This was like watching my first Shamu show at Sea World- I'm amazed and changed as a person. Here we have one of the few reminents from Muto AJPW, ace SUWAMA and a cast off from Misawa's AJPW exodus in Omori up against NOAH's ace and Kobashi/Misawa pupil Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama. Let's all remember that Akiyama is former tag partners, champs and friends with Omori. Akiyama got to ride the NOAH wave in the 2000's while Omori was surfing relatively low tide in Zero-1 and washed up back in AJPW like driftwood. This was a battle for a lot. Omori had remade himself in partnership with Manabu Soya however. He was not someone to be kicked around anymore. This was Omori's home, AJPW had been through alot in that time and SUWAMA had been there and is still there. This isn't just his home, it's his kingdom. He had outlasted them all. Akiyama wants back in? Akiyama had been gone for 13 years. Ok that's fine but he has to earn it. Shiozaki on the other hand has no place in AJ. He's an outsider through and through. This was a battle.
A beautifully long match that harkened back to the classics of AJPW '92-'96. The grappling, striking, layout and pacing were conservative. Therfore, the contest was more organic in its story progression and the escalation of aggression. The 2/3 falls usage was brillant and perhaps is what made it so damn good. It provided the wrestlers the framework to bring the level of excitement up and down, to be able to rest the fans energy only to build it back double fold. Classic Match. I had no idea that wrestling could be this good in the 2010's.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Katsuyori Shibata (07/05/15 NJPW): I watched this on AXS TV originally and the subtitled lead in and post match helped give this match great context. It's Pupil vs Teacher, Anger vs Intelligence, Ace vs Legend- True Strong Style! So, if you see this match available to watch or have it on DVD -go into it with this mindset I felt the contest was a callback to the style of Gotch, Inoki, Fujinami, Fujiwara, Maeda, etc. This is a Classical Strong Style bout and not what NJ is calling strong style OR what people consider stiff chop exchanges to be. No, this was like an actual sporting contest like Mixed Martial Arts. The fact that Saku is a grappling god made the match seem that much more real. Shibata was game as hell too! It was emotional, electric, and intense. This was a classic match and a perfect example of true Strong Style in the 21st century.
Minoru Suzuki vs Hirooki Goto (01/04/18 NJPW): This had that big Dome match aura to it. Intense and violent from the get go and it did not let up. Never overstaying it's welcome, Goto & Suzuki put on a brilliant wager match.
I'm glad this only had one drawn out back and forth elbow exchange and that led to the story of the match. The NEVER belt stuff always seems to be what I'm looking for. I was hoping for something like this for the Jericho/Omega match but, I'm not sure they could have topped it. This felt like a Dome main event from the 90s or 2000s perhaps. Great match
Hoping to post new stuff every Tuesday for the 2010's!
W*ING 05/09/93 show: Mr. Pogo vs Matsunaga in a Barbwire bat Texas Death match. This is clipped a little but not so much where its jumping around in the match too much. Its exactly what I was looking for with the action. Both guys are bleeding and taking to the bat like champs. Pretty sure Mr. Danger gets hit in the throat. Great finish too!
Headhunters vs Miguel Perez Jr. & Yukihiro (Wing) Kanemura -Barbwire Cage match. I was hyped that I found this. Perez Jr. is a guy that I've become a fan of through W*ING. This match was fantastic with everyone tasting the wire, guys going off the top rope & cage etc. The fact that it was a non escape match was a plus. May have had some clipping (a constant with W*ING & IWA) but nothing offensive. A great death match, heck a great match in general.
Great Sasuke vs Dos Caras (Michinoku Pro Mask League 08/25/95): A nice slow building match with exciting matwork built into false finish teases & hellish moves...Sasuke did his awesome flying offense and Caras powerbombed Sasuke 3 times that would make Vader wince.
Devil Masami & Plum Mariko vs Chigusa Nagayo & Cutie Suzuki (JWP Thunder Queen Battle 11/18/93): Cuty is pretty crumby in general but she played her role here as did Plum who is a bit better than Cuty as she actually understands ring positioning, taking bumps properly etc. But let's be honest this is all about Devil & Chigusa and it did not disappoint. There was a real strong focus on submissions and it really seemed any of the later ones could have done it for both women. Chiggy & Devil show why they are wrestling heroes...especially when the Crush Gal almost got murdered with powerbombs & suplexes. She legitimately looked F'ed Up at the end. This is really cool considering I'm using their classic match from '85 as my primer for this one! A lost joshi classic.
I'm a big giant fan of tag team wrestling. I'd say that I prefer tag and 6-man matches over singles competition. All Japan and NOAH are more known for their epic title matches but, have always had great team wrestling. I don't think that's a surprising statement however, there are others worth enjoying besides the classics. Here are some that I've enjoyed:
Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs Stan Hansen & Joel Deaton (06/03/93 AJPW): Although it was only 6 minutes & 47 seconds this match was all action. It was rather one sided though, as Gordy ambushed Hansen and the Miracle Violence Connection double teamed the whole time like it was a Tornado Tag match (maybe it was). Deaton tried his best to save Hansen but he was no match for Gordy & Dr. Death. There was no pacing or a match just a display of violence and Hansen's toughness.
Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97 AJPW): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. Hes British so, that probably explains a lot ??? It was different, in a good way, and helped slow down Akiyama, who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasnt going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boys arm out of the socket. Thats alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, thats not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, Asako are the ones with something to prove.
The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. This the type of match Id love to see at night right before going to bed when I was in high school. I'd be so hyped that couldn't sleep. I'd go through the match in my head and marvelling in how much fun it was and how awesome wrestling can be. I highly recommend finding this match to watch.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Gedo & Jado (12/07/02 NOAH): Oh those bastards. Team NO RESPECT!!! Jado & Gedo are some nasty looking dudes. Go back and watch the match they had as Coolie and Bulldog from the 8/19/90 AJW show and scratch your brain. Ok so what happened!? FMW, WAR and all those other mid-90s Indy promotions turned these guys evil! Haha I have not a clue what Im talking about! So the match is kinda like NOAH style American wrestling. It was a ton of fun with Gedo and Jado heeling it up in all those fun US ways. This is stuff that we lost in the 90s as the brawler was phased out of mainstream puroresu because that stuff was left to "garbage" wrestling. Then the hardcore companies gave up quality brawling en lieu of mindless punching in between insane spots. So, Jado and Gedo are a call back to that good stuff from the 70s-80s. And god knows Kikuchi is all for that. Still this is 2002 wrestling so, theres some nice moves from both teams as well. Its a different match especially from this time in wrestling and its damn good!
Takayama & Sano vs Misawa & Rikio (11/01/03 NOAH): People have given Rikio a bad reputation. He's not an all time legend but, he's a big dude that bowls people over and throws a mean clothesline. I cannot hate a guy that stays true to who he is. When tagging, especially with a ring deity like Mr. Green Jeans, he can be downright great! Such is the case with this bout. Stiff elbows, kicks, and knees, oh my! UWFi team vs NOAH could have been an amazing feud if only the stars aligned. Takayama and Sano are such a tough meat and potatoes type team. I always try to watch their matches when available. So, I recommend checking this one out.
Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Takeshi Morishima, KENTA & Mohammed Yone (02/17/06 NOAH) Oh sweet Jeebus this match was all kinds of fun. In the beginning, Yone seemed to collapse the excitement when he was in ring...the same with Honda & Kanemaru too for that matter. So, when things start to percolate, it just sneaks up on ya and turns into K-Hall pandemonium. It was as if the Funks with Jumbo were fighting Abby, the Sheik and Brody (fantasy dream match anyone?). I never thought that theyd get back in the ring! The highlight and focus was KENTA vs Kobashi, they brought Budokan level stiffness for sure. Oh my goodness this was brutal. Eventually, Honda and Kanemaru were getting hot and Morishima was pure ruler here too. I mean, Morishima vs Kobashi seemed just as great. If they could have generated that excitement in the slow parts in the beginning, this would have been one of those secret Korakuen klassics. Nevertheless, it is a great match and one where Kobashi is clearly the New Mr. Puro!...as of 2006, at least