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Calvin

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  1. I'm not as high on this as the general consensus seems to be. A very good exhibition hoss match, but lacked the hook/drama of a great one. I thought Dickinson conveyed the attrition of the match superbly. The visuals in the final minute were stunning, too. ***½
  2. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    To clarify, I'm not expecting 2000's KENTA. He's at a different stage of his career, mentally and physically. I think it's completely fair to give him time to re-acclimate to Japanese wrestling and shake off whatever ring rust he developed in WWE. That being said, booking him as one of the top contenders of the tournament seems hasty when he's unable to perform like one. I'm probably in the minority on that one, though. Most seem satisfied with his performance thus far. *shrugs*
  3. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    A lot more athletic, explosive, and insolent. Re: Okada - I mostly agree. I'm not his biggest fan, either. I just give credit when it's due, and I thought his contributions prevented that KENTA match from completely failing.
  4. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    My top-ten matches through the first ten days: Jon Moxley vs. Tomohiro Ishii (****1/2) Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi (****1/4) Shingo Takagi vs. Jon Moxley (****) Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii (****) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Juice Robinson (***3/4) Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii (***3/4) Jay White vs. Shingo Takagi (***3/4) Lance Archer vs. Kota Ibushi (***1/2) Shingo Takagi vs. Juice Robinson (***1/2) Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay (***1/2) B-Block >>>> A-Block so far.
  5. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 10 #1. Toru Yano [4] vs. Hirooki Goto [2] Skipped. #2. Tomohiro Ishii [4] vs. Juice Robinson [6] I love this shit, man. A physical, hard-hitting, war of attrition. Some of their fighting spirit segments had me popping out of my chair. Trim some of the excess sequences, and this is a great match. ***¾ #3. Taichi [4] vs. Jeff Cobb [2] Taichi manages to extract a more fiery side out of Cobb here, so that was a welcome surprise. Some decent back-and-forth sequences. All in all -- an average match. **½ #4. Jay White [2] vs. Shingo Takagi [4] Almost a great match, but they needed to shave a minute or two, and the transition into White’s finishing flurry isn’t as smooth as it could’ve been. Shingo, like Ishii, proves himself to be a compelling foil next to White. ***¾ #5. Jon Moxley [8] vs. Tetsuya Naito [4] These two had psychological chemistry, but not much of a physical one. Naito’s antics and trolling made me chuckle. A re-match is worth exploring now that they’ve developed a feel for each other in the ring. Their personalities and charisma harmonize wonderfully. **¾
  6. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 9 #1. Lance Archer [4] v. Kota Ibushi [4] This was smartly, efficiently worked. It lasted about as long as it should. There was very little downtime. Ibushi’s sold and bumped like a mad-man. Archer was an all-around compelling performer. I loved the no-sell on the first Kamigoye, and how he drops like a sack of potatoes on the second one from Ibushi without the kneepad. Good, compact match. ***½ #2. Bad Luck Fale [2] vs. Will Ospreay [2] Admirable effort from Ospreay to try and salvage this, but overcoming the roadblocks inherent with Fale’s matches are a tough task for anyone, and this match unfortunately threw every obstacle in the book at him. From constant interferences, to lackluster effort from Fale himself, to referee bumps, there’s just no way this was going to be a watchable match. *¾ #3. Zack Sabre Jr. [2] vs. EVIL [4] #4. SANADA [2] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [4] I’m reviewing these two together because they both consist of the same flaws: undramatic matches that lack a hook/narrative, lack of (compelling) chemistry between the two performers, and poor pacing due to unnecessarily long runtimes. ** #5. KENTA [8] vs. Kazuchika Okada [8] This isn’t bad, but the disconnect in KENTA’s presentation and his actual performance is so jarring that it negatively overshadows all of his matches. He’s booked as a big-time threat in the tournament, but he just looks …. washed. There’s no explosiveness or pop in any of his moves (including his strikes). Sure, they’re stiff, but they lack the intensity that made him such an infamous and captivating striker. The palm strikes he delivers towards the end of the match are actually the first time his strikes felt like they had some semblance of dramatic weight behind them. His trademark disrespect towards his opponents feels forced. Yet he’s consistently booked like one of the top wrestlers in the company, and a legitimate threat to win the whole damn tournament. Those realities simply do no exist harmoniously, and that's reflected by the sterility and heatlessness of his matches. Stray Observations: There’s little room for error when you’re going thirty minutes with the corpse of KENTA, and Okada’s selling was critical to holding this match together. The match is obviously flawed, for reasons laid out above, but it’s not the abject failure it could’ve been had it not been for Okada. Credit where credit’s due. **¾
  7. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 8 #1. Toru Yano [4] vs. Juice Robinson [4] Unfunny garbage. * #2. Taichi [2] vs. Hirooki Goto [2] Goto tries to replicate the structure and drama of Shingo’s match with Taichi, and he fails miserably. *¼ #3. Shingo Takagi [4] vs. Jon Moxley [6] This is a great technical/brawling fusion style match that works due to Moxley’s compelling limbwork/control segments, Shingo’s inspired selling, and the sense of urgency conveyed by both competitors. Most importantly, the match never overstays its welcome and every minute of it feels efficiently utilized. **** #4. Jay White [0] vs. Jeff Cobb [2] Strong effort from White here, but he’s not quite good enough to carry Cobb to a genuinely good match. **¾ #5. Tetsuya Naito [4] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [4] This was a tad too spotty for my tastes, and I felt some of the no-sell segments didn’t work, but it was mostly a solid back-and-forth between two wrestlers with chemistry and history buoyed by an awesome, awesome crowd. ***
  8. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 7 #1. Bad Luck Fale [2] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] This is cleverly booked and a brisk watch. Worth watching? Probably not, but it’s short, and ZSJ climbing on top of Fale is kind of funny. **½ #2. Lance Archer [4] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [2] Archer has miraculously become a decent singles match-up after seemingly going through a mid-life crisis and turning goth. WATTBA. *** #3. EVIL [4] vs. KENTA [6] There’s some interesting sequences/character-work here, but the pacing in these KENTA matches have been problematic, to say the least. This is his best match yet, but there’s a lifelessness to his matches that make them a chore to watch, and the sluggish pace he’s worked at doesn’t help. He’s lost so much of his in-ring charisma since leaving WWE. Sad. **¾ #4. SANADA [2] vs. Kota Ibushi [2] Extremely athletic, unusually paced, and wrestled with a complete lack of urgency - also known as the SANADA formula. ** #5. Will Ospreay [2] vs. Kazuchika Okada [6] This was a spirited back-and-forth. There was nothing about this match that screamed great to me outside of the technical execution of the spots and sequences - which was damn near flawless. The storytelling was fairly basic, if not uninspired. Neither wrestler has a standout performance. The finishing run is fun, but I’ve seen much better. A good match for sure -- almost a really good one -- but is this even better than Ospreay's match with Archer? Or even Juice's match with Shingo? (Which is probably a better comparison since this match was of a similar mold). I wouldn't say so. ***¼
  9. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 6 #1. Taichi (with Miho) [2] vs. Shingo Takagi [2] Good, heated, back-and-forth match. Excise the Taichi control segment in the beginning, and this could’ve been even better. ***¼ #2. Jeff Cobb [0] vs. Juice Robinson [4] Juice dominating this match is an… interesting choice. I get it, though. He’s on a roll at the moment, and Cobb has been struggling. It’s an understandable story to tell. I’m just not entirely sure that dynamic worked as intended, and if the silence in Korakuen Hall is any indication, then it didn’t work at all. **¼ #3. Jay White [0] vs. Toru Yano [2] LOOOOOOOOOOOL. *** #4. Tetsuya Naito [0] vs. Hirooki Goto [2] Goto’s awful selling overshadows anything good that happens in this match. Disappointing. *¾ #5. Jon Moxley [4] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [4] Well, this fucking ruled. Ishii working a pseudo-hardcore match was a blast to watch. Moxley returned the favor by compellingly standing toe-to-toe with Ishii in the strong style sequences at the end. This was every bit the violent affair it needed to be, and was colored heavily by both wrestler’s styles in such a cohesive manner that it gave this a unique flavor you don’t typically see from New Japan main events. ****½
  10. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 5 #1. Lance Archer [4] vs. KENTA [4] KENTA’s completely uninteresting underneath, so this match doesn’t work at all. His bumps have no pop. He’s not a particularly compelling seller here. His comeback sequences are lethargic. Archer’s performance so far has been a pleasant surprise, though. ** #2. SANADA [2] vs. EVIL [2] This was sinfully boring up until the final stretch, when they finally decide to convey some intensity and urgency, but they had already lost me by then. The inter-stable dynamic was there, but sadly, wasn’t taken full advantage of. ** #3. Bad Luck Fale [2] vs. Kazuchika Okada [4] Yawn. *½ #4. Zack Sabre Jr. [0] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [0] Tanahashi outclassing ZSJ at his own game is a story that didn’t entirely connect with me. Especially with how awkward and mechanical Tanahashi was going hold-for-hold with ZSJ. He looked out of his depth. Not a terrible match by any means -- and we get another great, petulant ZSJ performance -- but one that felt poorly conceived. **¼ #5. Will Ospreay [2] vs. Kota Ibushi [0] I wasn’t confident these two could pull off a long-form match based around their injuries, but they executed it much better than I expected them to. The selling wasn’t perfect -- they mostly ignored the accumulated damage in the final few minutes -- but it was good enough to believably sell the viewer that their injuries were hampering them, and I really liked how they went about incorporating them in a manner that wasn’t heavy-handed. I was also skeptical of the slow start, but they steadily increased the tempo as the match progressed, and it worked - especially in conjunction with the way they escalated the offense and transitioned from working holds to hitting bombs. Great match. ****¼
  11. Calvin

    NJPW G1 Climax 2019

    G1 CLIMAX 29 - DAY 4 #1. Shingo Takagi [0] vs. Toru Yano [2] Another exercise in masochism. * #2. Hirooki Goto [2] vs. Juice Robinson [2] Similar to Juice’s match with Shingo -- in that it’s competitive, well-worked, and both performers click well -- but lacked the second gear and drama of said match. *** #3. Jon Moxley [2] vs. Jeff Cobb [0] About an average match up until the abrupt, deflating finish. Moxley’s arm-work was solid, and Cobb sold it nicely, but the chemistry was lacking at times and the deliberate pacing was a misfire. **¼ #4. Jay White (with Gedo) [0] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [2] These two work well together because it’s satisfying to watch a genuine prick like White get his comeuppance and get knocked around by Ishii’s smash-mouth offense, and Ishii is so compelling underneath that he elevates White’s, at times, unpolished control segments. Great match. **** I couldn't even muster the courage to watch a twenty minute Taichi match, so I skipped the ME.
  12. 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.
  13. 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. **
  14. 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. ***
  15. 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
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