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Makai Club #1

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    Makai #6

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  1. A match that wasn’t even scheduled to happen apparently. I heard that Vader was supposed to get a rematch for this show but Shawn throwing a fit at Summerslam scrapped those plans so they put Mankind in this match. Neat. The match reputation speaks for itself. Almost everyone considers this to be a great match. Some go as far as to claim it's one of the best matches WWF has ever done. I won’t go as far as that but this was an incredible match, for sure. This was very unconventional and out of the box. A different match from what you’ll usually see from a WWF title match or a Shawn Michaels match. It was one of the few times where Shawn Michaels came across as wrestling rather than performing. He lays in his strikes, his aerial attacks have more malice than flash in them. He is very aggressive and totally game in this match. The first third of the match is so great. Mankind stiffs Shawn with a back elbow to kick it all off and what came after was a very rough and unpredictable scramble. Michaels dropkicks Mankind, who’s holding the outside mats and then jumps on him. It looks super dangerous as does the subsequent back bumps on the concrete he takes. One of my favourite moments of the match was Mankind, after the little worked shoot incident in the corner where Shawn shouts at Mankind for not running at him in the corner, baiting Michaels in and grapevining his legs around Michaels before trying locking in the mandible claw. It felt very off the cuff and raw. It worked perfectly into the tone of the match. The match is next spent with Michaels first working over Mankind’s knee after a sickening bump into the steeps after a suplex on the outside and then the hand after the chair gets brought into play. Michaels throws out a dainty dragon screw and the figure four on the wrong leg (Flair does it as well so I’ll forgive Shawn) but Mankind sells the work excellently. The match has tons of little moments but works great as a highlight reel as well. The table bump is awesome and was worked in seemingless both into the spot and afterwards to the finish. Mankind gets caught in the ropes in horrific fashion. Michaels hitting a running, chair assisted superkick looked incredible. Just so many things you can list off. The finish kinda sucks with Vader running in a tad too late making the planned false finish seem awkward and wasted since Mankind had to kick out of the aforementioned superkick to no fanfare. But Undertaker showing up out of the casket was pretty cool, admittedly. So what we were left with was an unbelievable match with a great mix of brawling and highspots and some brilliant selling from both wrestlers (+ some great character work by Mankind with his squealing). They were given tons of time and they used it well to combine different components to make one very compelling and gripping match. The match probably needs a more tight finish to make it a top tier match but I haven’t got many complaints for this match. If you’re a Shawn Michaels critic, you'll probably like this. It has pretty much none of his bad attributes and some of his best. ****1/2
  2. This probably should’ve been better than it was. But I have grown very weary of endless strike exchanges at this point. Perhaps their age should give them some slack but I just prefer a bit more. I’m glad that they switched up the strikes so it wasn’t just the bland forearm blows and the selling was fine. Give me way more than that though. The meat of the match where there were a bit more submissions being attempted was more my alley. That was the best part of the match for me. Nagata getting the win was great though.
  3. Makai Club #1

    [2020-06-12-WWE-Smackdown] Daniel Bryan vs A.J. Styles

    This was pretty great once they got kicked into another gear and AJ began attacking Bryan’s leg. All the technical wrestling up-to that point was a bit too showy with not much struggle to it but once the duel-limb work aspect got added to the match, the work from both, Bryan especially got more snug and heated. I thought AJ’s selling was very strong and was the constant quality that carried through the match from start to finish. Bryan’s selling was decent but I didn’t really buy his pain unlike AJ's. The finish itself was pretty great as well. The counter from the running knee to the styles clash was super slick and impressive. ****
  4. Makai Club #1

    Best worker of the last 20 years

    Saying that isn't too much depth isn't the same as saying that there is no depth. That'd be a lie from my POV. He still has a few great years where his output was really good (2012, 2013, 2018) which is still a lot. And making the best out of garbage tv and writing is all well and good. However it's still something that I've never been into, and doubt that I will ever watch again, as far as the angles go. So I can't honestly say that helps his case as far as I'm concerned. He's still in the top 5, just not #1. Or at least decisively. I'd have to really think about how I compare his peak years to the others I mentioned.
  5. Makai Club #1

    Best worker of the last 20 years

    I don't think Bryan had nearly enough of a great 2010s, due to injury, booking, etc, to be considered an undisputed #1. I guess he's like Rey Mysterio in that point of view. He's had some good matches, high level matches like the Sheamus match at ExRules, Cena at Summerslam and the Brock match. But unless you're a rabid fan of his, I don't think there is too much depth there for the aforementioned reasons. Cena comes to mind. He doesn't have a strong full decade for both 00s and 10s but I feel like he has a great 06-14 which is enough of a blend to cover the amount of time in question. Dick Togo definitely has a shout. I probably need to watch more 00s Togo outside of DDT, if possible, though. Tanahashi maybe? I think 00s Tanahashi has his flaws, one's that were improved upon later in his career, but he still has some quality matches against Goto and Nagata. Even Muto of all people. Okada would be my #1 for the last decade but with the 00s being his YL run, albeit with a few good matches, but he has no chance I'm afraid.
  6. The most built-up match of the year. And whilst it's not the main event, it felt on that level. Extremely strong match with both guys totally outdoing themselves and delivered on what they built up in the tag team matches. Sho looked great with his power moves and submission attempts, making Shingo looks the most vulnerable he has been since debuting. Shingo ruled as always but Sho was the standout here. ****1/4
  7. This was good. This gets a reputation for being an all time brawl but I don’t see that a whole lot. Instead this was more focused on fast tag team work that is constantly flowing back and forth. The crowd probably elevates the work to the point where I can see why people think so highly of this. However I think desperately lacked a killer stretch where the match turned into that transcendent masterpiece. And there were a few aspects that I really hated. Austin and Owen got sent backstage after hurting their knees via figure fours on the post. I don’t know why that was necessary. It’s a fairly standard spot in the 90s and they don’t even look in bad enough shape to be sent away. It takes two of the most over in the match out of it, Austin in particular. And Owen being taken out of the match, only to return for the finish and win made it a whole lot worse. And the finish beside that was so anticlimactic and comes out of nowhere. Austin gets attacked by Bruce outside, a small brawl takes place and then Austin goes in the ring and gets pinned. A bad finish to what was a pretty good match. ***3/4
  8. Hase and Sasaki had the more substantial exchanges in this, and I kinda loved them going at each other. The slap exchange was great. Although I’m not sure if Hase was supposed to get knocked down the first time, it worked as Sasaki is the badass and Hase is at the end of his career. Tenryu had some good Ternyu-isms where he’d throw a stiff punch to Kawada or Sasaki and that was awesome. Just a simple match that lacked a bit of heat but it didn't hurt the match too much. ***1/2
  9. Makai Club #1

    [1990-07-19-JWP] Shinobu Kandori vs Harley Saito

    Had a hard time actually sitting down to watch this. Always had to do something when I planned to sit down and watch this, and an hour later, I can say that it was worth waiting. This was pretty great. This was a great hybrid of shoot style and pro-style. The early mat-work was awesome. The struggle just to get Kandori into a neck bridging position by Saito was incredible. Everything was contested and very uncooperative in a compelling way. Saito was great from working beneath, having to come up with different ways to defend herself against Kandori’s submissions and stiff strikes. The finishing stretch with all the nearfalls was really well done, too. Saito got some great nearfalls, even getting a pin at one point but the ref said Kandori got her shoulder up (I don’t think she did) but she ultimately fell to Kandori. ****1/4
  10. 40 minute match...kinda worrying on paper but this flowed way better than I thought it would. The pacing is still rather slow with most of the offence being basic mat work with a few cool counters and fast sequences being thrown in. Also Yamada had her kicks which will always pop me. The first bell threw me for a loop. I was unaware that there was a 30 minute time limit to this opposed to the 40 this gets extended to. It makes sense 30 is the traditional time limit. But like their 91 match, this goes 30 but Toyota asks to receive 5 more minutes, and again once that runs out. Then they noticeably switched up gears, throwing more all or nothing offence at each other, desperately trying to end the match and prove who is the better. They upped in tempo and intensity which worked great into the match. ***3/4
  11. More fuel to the fire in regards to Aja Kong and Kudo. The class of 86 are destined to collide sometime in the future. And this is the first meeting between the two (in any form) since Kudo’s return to wrestling. They would face each other in December for the 3WA World championship. Before that, they have to team with their fellow wrestlers for now. Love Aja getting in the ring, shooing off Sato and calling for Kudo. And unlike Toyota and Yamada on the Anniversary show, she gets a reaction. It might be small but damn if it didn’t make me smile. Love their initial exchange where Kudo attacks the arm and tries to bring in to the mat only for Aja to blast her in the face with a kick. There was another awesome sequence where Kudo was outwitting Aja with her quickness, countering anything Aja Kong had in store for her. Aja Kong had to rely on the strikes to get anything after a while. Told a great story there. Poor Sato. She got beat up so badly any time she was in the ring. With Ito, there was more give and go but with Aja Kong in the ring, it was dream street. She ran nice interference for Kudo though and even had some cool subsequent offence, following whatever Kudo did nicely, whether it was a clothesline off the top after a Kudo arm wringer or catching Ito with a running clothesline after she missed a footstomp (to Kudo). There was an awesome moment where Aja Kong comes, with no cause to, and hits Kudo with her metal box. She fails to hit it off the top rope the second time though, hitting Ito (which would repeat itself when she accidentally hits the Urakento her for the finish) with it instead. A really, really good tag match with tons of neat spots and match building between Kudo and Aja. Sato and Ito more than pull their weight in their lesser roles. ***3/4
  12. Kudo and Toyoda were very over with the crowd. Maybe that was in comparison to the AJW duo but they had the crowd behind them whether they were in the driving seat or working from beneath. Toyota, to her credit, was great in spite of getting little from the crowd. She had some great sequences that she strung together. Toyoda was a good base for her high flying. Yamada kicked ass with her stiff kicks. Kudo was a strong sympathetic character with her selling and charisma. And her string of offence to put away Toyoya was awesome. ****
  13. Triple Crown Title Match: Suwama (c) vs. Taiyo Kea - AJPW Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 5 31/08/2008 I believe this is my first time watching Taiyo Kea in a singles match. I probably watched him randomly once or twice, I know I watched in him a tag but that was 2019 Kea. This is pretty much peak Kea it seems. Although, the match itself is critically panned, and my curiosity has gotten the best of me. Probably not the best way to watch someone at their craft for one of the first times. I think I’m fair though. However, the match..well lived up to its reputation. It was not very good for a plethora of reasons ranging from them never really getting out of the second gear until the last closing stretch (40 minutes into a 60 minute match btw) which, to me, was totally lacking in drama. There were hints of the two working each other’s legs but I found the struggle to be rather dry. Neither were great at submissions as far as I can tell. Although Suwama splashing himself onto the leg was pretty great. It was just too lackluster for far too long. They lost me before the finishing stretch which itself seemed to go on forever. I’m convinced they lost track of time and went “home” too early. This wasn’t awfully bad. Just boring. Early Suwama disappoints me once again. **
  14. Makai Club #1

    [2009-08-30-AJPW] Kohei Suwama vs Yoshihiro Takayama

    This was pretty much saved by a brutal closing stretch with mean punches that hit the mark, some awesome bombs thrown. Really good end to what was a pretty unintresting match. The flow was really ugly, essentially taking me out of the match. There would be large gaps inbetween the moves with little transitions. It was just "pause, figure out what to do, do". It was fairly stiff and Suwama had some nice power moves but the overall match was too bare bones. I like both guys but this was not it. Takayama didn't look the best either - his wellness frailties showed. But god bless Suwama for eating those punches. **3/4
  15. AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs. Kaz Hayashi - AJPW Excite Series 2009 - Day 1 06/02/2009 I thought this was pretty good. Most of the match was Marufuji doing his thing, well I might add, with Hayashi coming up with occasional counters and strikes, trying to keep Marufuji at bay. Marufuji was pretty entertaining while on top. He switched his offence from flashy aerial moves to strikes to submissions well. I thought he did a good job of building his offence up with Hayashi just avoiding his signature moves such as the corner kicks making them feel big when he executes them. Hayashi worked well from beneath in terms of selling and he was a good person that the fans could rally behind even against the popular Marufuji. A good finishing stretch closes out a pretty good Junior Heavyweight title match. ***3/4