Let's go back to 2011 and see what I missed the first time around. I'll post the links to the Gaora YouTube videos for your enjoyment:
Minoru Tanaka vs Kaz Hiyashi (01/02/11): This was a very good junior battle with two legends of the style. I think they have something better in them but this was still pretty good stuff. My issue is with how they're not really transitioning control from one guy to the other. It does seem a bit like 'your turn-my turn' and I'd like to see a reason why Minoru is able to now do his arm bar or brainbuster after getting whooped on for 3 minutes. Same goes for Kaz. And this is the whole thing. They have really great sequences planned but no good or simple way to get to them other than 'OK now we do dueling kicks' or 'now we do the turnbuckle spots.' And they are impressive and athletic on their own but putting 20 of those in a row doesn't make a great match. Watch below and maybe you will feel differently.
Suwama (c) vs. Taiyo Kea (01/11/11): This was a smart match especially by Kea. He stayed focused on working Suwama's neck. And well Suwama worked Kea's ribs throughout. So I really liked that. And this was a good fight. I'd say it ***1/2 stars. Just really solid heavyweight wrestling.
Sanada/Soya vs Yuji Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto (03/21/11): This was a classic tag match in my book. I think 3 out of the 4 guys wrestle like Riki Choshu/Kensuke and the 4th guy like prime Muto so as long as they stick to that then we're gonna get a very good bout. But this is for the tag belts and they bring everything. Strong BJW is a really fantastic at this time in AJ. This isn't on Gaora but your 'day to day movement' video website has it for you. Search it out!
Suwama & Masakatsu Funaki vs Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (05/15/11): Great inter-promotional tag battle! Hard hitting, spiteful stuff. Nakanishi does not get the love he deserves. There's not a ton to go on about here. This is exactly what I wanted and expected. Firm **** stuff
Yuji Nagata VS Seiya Sanada [2011 Champion Carnival Battle]: Sweet sassy molassy Sanada took a beating. This was a near great match where Sanada took the pain train. An absolute treat to watch for a Yuji Nagata fan - striking mixed with grappling. He was really testing Sanada. But in all fairness Sanada really got a boost going toe to toe with such a decorated wrestler. He kept things fun and the outcome was in doubt.
KAI vs Kenny Omega (Junior League Match 2011) : Yeah this was borderline great stuff. I continue to be a fan of KAI. Kenny was pretty hit or miss. He's got his mannerisms that work in some regards. When he's selling his abdomen injury then it works but once he moved on to just selling exhaustion/punch drunk it gets a bit melodramatic. That coupled with his ability to snap out of this fatigue/stupor to do drop kicks and other cardio moves takes away from the match. He's just waiting for his turn. That said KAI doesn't get into this behavior. He is the rock of the match and doesn't get too swayed to get carried away. I originally ordered a DVD with this match but got sent the wrong one (which features the awesome KAI vs Kanemoto match). So it was nice to see this finally but am quite happy that I got the Kanemoto match instead.
A pretty fun little project. Definitely seek out the Soya/Sanada vs Strong BJW tag match. Then go watch the Nagata matches. The links are above so you've got no excuse
Thank you for reading!!