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  1. Calvin

    AEW Fight For The Fallen

    Didn't care much for this show. Three-way tag was the MOTN, and that was *** at best, to me. Page/Sabian felt like a complete miscalculation on AEW's part. CIMA/Omega didn't do much for me. Mixed feelings on the ME. Loved aspects of it, but went too long. Crowd was gassed. Matt Jackson FIP segment should've been cut. Finish was blah. Not a bad match, but you can clearly see a good match laid out there, so it's disappointing that they missed the mark.
  2. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 3 #1. Bad Luck Fale (with Jado) [2] vs. Lance Archer [2] A serviceable slugfest that’s occasionally punctuated with awesome, well-executed big-man spots. Not something I’d call good, but not bad at all. **½ #2. SANADA [2] vs. Will Ospreay [0] Weird match; didn’t click with me at all. There’s a lot of downtime in between sequences that aren’t filled effectively. The stop/start pacing doesn’t work, as a result. Ospreay’s constant posing after every move needs to fucking go. SANADA needs to polish up his end-game offense. He’s too much of a one-trick pony in that department to deliver truly compelling finishing sequences. As for the positives, the athleticism in this match is off-the-charts and wildly entertaining. I thought the sloppiness didn’t hurt this at all, and gave some of the spots a sense of struggle. Now that they’ve felt each other out and developed some chemistry, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see a better match down the line if they’re ever matched up again. **¾ #3. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [2] Okada is as bland as ever here. He’s just kind of there. His offense isn’t particularly interesting. His bumping and selling feel sterile. How bad was that spinning Rainmaker? ZSJ completely saves this match, though. Great neck selling (that fucking Tombstone from Okada, holy shit), great submission spots. I enjoyed the story; ZSJ is unable to whittle down a specific limb/body part, so he takes the shotgun approach and targets everything, but it ends up failing badly at the end. Such a shame that Okada decided to take the night off. This could've been so much better. *** #4. EVIL [0] vs. Kota Ibushi [0] Ibushi adjusting to his ankle injury by becoming somewhat of a smash-mouth brawler has me intrigued. His selling is on-point (!!) -- he moves slower, and his athletic spots lack their usual springiness and explosion. EVIL was alright; he’s another one who has trouble filling longer matches with compelling content, but at least he turned it up a notch at the end. ***¼ #5. KENTA [2] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] This was better than KENTA’s match with Ibushi, but that’s not saying much. KENTA looked less lost and gassed. His strikes are still stiff and violent, but he’s using them as a crutch, and it’s not working. Tanahashi is just there. At least he didn’t get squashed and the match was somewhat competitive. The match stayed at the same flat tempo the entire time and never kicks into the next gear. Another major swing and a miss. **
  3. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    #1. Shingo Takagi [0] vs. Juice Robinson [0] Strong back-and-forth match. Shingo eats the pin, but he builds some equity as a heavyweight, so it's not a total loss for him. Juice bumps and sells his ass off for him, and does everything in his power to portray Shingo as a serious threat. ***½ #2. Taichi (with Miho) [0] vs. Jon Moxley [0] I see Taichi is as terrible as ever. Moxley tries hard and is able to carry him to an average match. **½ #3. Tetsuya Naito [0] vs. Toru Yano [0] Predictable, skippable hokum. Yano’s yearly G1 escapades continue in the most hackneyed fashion imaginable. These matches would be somewhat enjoyable if he was actually funny. * #4. Jeff Cobb [0] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [0] Cobb is kind of clueless when he’s in control, isn’t he? He’s engaging in those back-and-forth test of strength spots and impressing the crowd with his showy power, but when he’s telling Ishii to get up, it kind of feels like a meta moment where he’s secretly begging Ishii to get up as quickly as possible and lead him to the next spot in the match because he doesn’t know what to do. Luckily for him, that’s exactly what happens. Ishii is a true ring general here and directs this match beautifully. He realizes he can’t do extended selling segments here -- even though the impact of Cobb’s moves call for them -- and smoothly shifts into a fun heavyweight spotfest instead, playing into Cobb’s strengths. ***¾ #5. Jay White [0] vs. Hirooki Goto [0] Good match, nothing special. White continues to grow into the heel role, but the imperfections are still there. Goto fights compellingly from underneath and delivers hard-hitting offense. His flurry of combos to at the end fucking ruled. The announcers sell his "new and improved" angle by reading off a list of tropes that applies to every "new and improved" athlete in the history of professional sports. "He's been training hard." "He's been training with [insert retired wrestler]." And, my favorite, "he just got back to the basics." This has to be an annual gimmick for Goto, right? Bi-annual, at the very least. ***
  4. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 1 #1. Lance Archer [0] vs. Will Ospreay [0] Even these two doofuses can’t fuck up the simplistic structure of a David vs. Goliath match. I can nitpick some aspects of this that were ill-conceived, but the positives significantly outweigh the negatives here. This was a genuinely fun match fought with energy, urgency, and creativity. ***½ #2. EVIL [0] vs. Bad Luck Fale [0] There’s nothing remarkable about this. Just your average Bad Luck Fale match. So long as whoever’s facing him has his working boots on -- and EVIL certainly had them laced up -- these matches should at least be watchable. **½ #3. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] vs. SANADA [0] Firstly, I prefer grappling that’s rough on the edges and conveys a sense of struggle, and this was too cooperative for my tastes. Secondly, SANADA stymieing ZSJ and escaping his holds, not with skill, but with superior athleticism was actually an interesting story that wasn’t executed as well as it could’ve been. Thirdly, I get the impression they started running out of ideas at the end, and that gives me the sense that the match was a touch too long. SANADA constantly attempting to apply the Skull’s End with ZSJ constantly countering it wasn’t exactly the most compelling finishing run. There’s some great individual moments here, but it just doesn’t come together as a whole. Disappointing match. **¾ #4. KENTA [0] vs. Kota Ibushi [0] This was bad. KENTA looks washed, out of shape, and old. Ibushi was presented like a pseudo-jobber out of his depth. KENTA’s methodical beatdown of Ibushi sucked. I’m a huge fan of KENTA beating the shit out of his opponents, but his control segments here were surprisingly lifeless. This had some heat, but it felt forced … like the crowd was cheering because it’s these two, and not because the match was actually good. There’s very little I liked about this outside of some of the striking segments. Ibushi’s selling was really good, too, but not good enough to save this from KENTA’s uninspired performance and the awkward match construction. *¾ #5. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [0] A concise, well-paced match that touches on all the highlights of their past epics, but doesn’t strive to replicate them. There's a slight lack of drama that takes this down a notch, though. At no point did Tanahashi believably present himself as a threat to defeat Okada. ***¼
  5. Calvin

    [2000-05-18-JWP] Dynamite Kansai vs Azumi Hyuga

    Hyuga tries to burst down Kansai with high-impact/aerial moves, but seems to lack the stamina to sustain that type of offense nor does she have the toughness to take a prolonged beating from the bigger Kansai. She becomes more reliant on her dexterity towards the finishing run to avoid Kansai’s attacks, but she ends up getting caught in the Splash Mountain for the finish. These are my favorite types of matches -- matches that can tell a compelling story in a compact, efficient manner without ever feeling protracted. Stray Observations: Kansai nails a head-kick that I thought legitimately KO’d Hyuga. The thud from the impact was loud, and it wasn’t the thigh-slapping variant, either. Hyuga perked right back up, though. Rating: ****
  6. This devolved from a slick maestro-style showcase in the first fall to a plodding brawl for the last two falls. Yuck.
  7. I loved this. It’s fitting that CIMA’s here because this felt like a Toryumon-style trios match dressed in lucha libre rules and presentation. Stray Observations: Black Dragon hits a tope over the goddamn ringpost, and Ramirez follows it up with a tope in the crowd! Good shit. I’ve never seen anyone fall forward to lock-in the Surfboard, but Calo does it here on CIMA. Rating: ***½
  8. Good TV match. Benoit’s arrogance leads him to underestimating The Rock’s movepool (he pulls out a Fujiwara armbar!), and he taps to the most scuffed Figure-Four I’ve ever seen. Stephanie McMahon distracts the referee as Benoit is tapping, and Triple H pulls him to the ropes to break the hold. The match inevitably ends with Benoit winning as the heels screw The Rock once again. Both men are strongly protected leading into Judgment Day. Rating: ***
  9. Fun match. I watched this a week ago, so the exact details are blurry, but I remember this having a nice blend of different styles -- from comedy, to brawling, to guys like del Norte and Zumbido flying around and showcasing their athleticism. Santo and Panther going at it again has me super excited for the rematch. Rating: ***
  10. Maybe it’s because the caffeine hasn’t hit my system yet but… no, wait, I’m not going to rationalize my distaste for this match. This is, to me, easily the worst match of the year so far. Constant interferences that added little to the match, brutality that’s completely undercut by terrible selling... and it was 28 MINUTES LONG. WHAT THE FUCK. The match just drags and drags, and I was checking out constantly throughout the match. The only moment in this match I genuinely loved was Ozaki wrapping up her fist in a chain and throwing wild haymakers and spinning backfists at KAORU for the finish, so the match gets a quarter-star. Rating: ¼*
  11. This is for Kong’s AAAW Championship. What stood out to me the most in this match -- outside of just being a great match in general -- was Satomura’s brilliant underdog performance, and how she unearths a different side out of Aja. Aja gets pushed so far to the brink that her instinctual sadism is suppressed by an urgent will to just... survive. She’s usually violent for violence’s sake, but this time it feels purposeful -- like a wounded beast that responds to a foe by lashing out even harder. Satomura doesn’t stymie Aja with a technical, counter-heavy game like Mariko Yoshida previously did -- even though this match is rife with clever Satomura counters -- but she pushes herself to take down the legendary Joshi with moxie and willpower alone. A tried-and-true strategy in David vs. Goliath formula matches, but Satomura and Aja’s takes on their respective roles feels truly unique. Satomura is already so familiar with the pain that Aja can offer that the hits are muscle memory at this point, and she’s able to use that unconscious resilience to just hang on. Literally. Suplexes are thrown, but Satomura clutches to Aja’s head in a death-grip. Aja hoists Satomura on her shoulders, and Satomura just... hangs on. She goes after Aja’s arm to weaken the Uraken while punctuating the match with Pele kick after Pele kick, a move that Kong seemingly has no answer for. (An awesome spot in this match is Satomura Pele kicking Aja’s arm as she goes for the Uraken.) She’s hurting Aja with hard-hitting Death Valley Drivers. Aja is visibly flustered -- a move she’s relied on for most of her career to finish her opponents is effectively weakened and Satomura is eating bombs left and right like it’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she keeps coming at Aja like a zombie. Aja is starting to unravel. She’s becoming sloppier and desperately wilder as the match progresses, but she gets a lucky break as Satomura’s body simply gives up in the end. It wasn’t a gradual physical decline, but almost an immediate drop-off. Satomura gets smacked by a couple Uraken’s, kicks-out, limply fights back, but she’s done. The cumulative effects of Aja’s punishment hits Satomura all at once and she crumbles. Aja takes off her gloves, slaps her awake, and then hits a bare-knuckle Uraken for the finish. Stray observations: Another awesome spot: Aja spawns a garbage can out of nowhere and she chucks it at Satomura, who knocks it out of the air with a perfectly timed kick. Cool montage in the beginning. I haven’t seen their previous matches, pre-2000, but the video does a quick job presenting the history between these two for the uninitiated such as myself. Rating: ****½
  12. Oh, man. What a match. Tajiri’s sadism knows no bounds and he mercilessly punishes Corino here -- who has one of the nuttier bladejobs of 2000 as his beach-blonde hair turns strawberry red from the blood that gushes out of his head. He’s on wobbly legs from the blood loss, and his selling makes this match just as much as Tajiri’s malice does. One of the best ECW matches ever, for sure. Stray Observations: Tajiri hits Corino with a Brainbuster on the ramp, my God. He’s dead! Honestly, so many great spots in this one. Tajiri dropkicking the table into Corino’s face; double-stomping him through the table in the finish; misting Jack Victory while twisting Corino in the manjigatame; his flurry of strike combinations that destroys Corino and had the crowd popping out of their seats; the spots just flow fluidly and logically one after another without ever feeling forced. Corino spouts racist bullshit in the pre-match, and I’m glad Tajiri beats his dumb ass. I love these inverted David vs. Goliath matches where the face is Goliath and the heel is David. Rating: ****½
  13. You know what to expect from these two by now. There’s very little here to tie the all-out action together, and this match is essentially an exhibition of flashy spots. Rating: **¾
  14. This is for Rhino’s ECW Television Championship. We segue into this match immediately after Tajiri vs. Corino, and it’s about what I expected. A couple of big spots here and there, and the rest is middling brawling. Stray Observations: Rhino piledrives Sandman’s wife through a table and offers little protection, yikes. Rating: **½
  15. Awesome opener. They go at each other full speed and the violence escalates and escalates until Balls is finished after a chairshot from the top-ropes softens him up for the Roaring Elbow. Maybe the best Balls Mahoney match ever? Rating: ***½