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Makai Club #1

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    Makai #6

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  1. Just for context, Super Libre basically means No DQ. This is hot and heavy from the off with the teams fighting from the entrance. The violence is there right away with Cerebro being cut open via biting. Next minute we see Black Terry in the match bloodied up with Diablo beating the hell out of him. Terry's selling in the match is off the charts. He looks so vulnerable when absorbing everything the rudos dish out but when he goes back on offence he is able to transfer it to great heat for himself and the match. Cerebro added some great strikes where he looks like he is trying to break Diablo’s face. This was a wild uncontrollable brawl. And it was awesome. ****1/4
  2. Makai Club #1

    [2011-07-17-Dragon Gate] Shingo vs Akira Tozawa

    After returning from his very successful excursion, he re-debuted as Blood WARRIORS’ new henchman. This was his big shot, against one of the most prolific wrestlers on the roster, Shingo Takagi. And this plays out as such. Tozawa is a beast - his pre match assault, his mannerisms, his look, his offence. Everything clicked the way it should. I loved the Shingo and his face jacket (since I normally see him wearing it when he is a face) - the whole atheistic rules. He excelled the against adversity dynamic. His selling awesome, he really knows how to make it look more impactful due to his own style being similar. His comebacks were great with being filled with so much fire and will behind them. This is Tozawa’s match though. His facial expressions sell the match alone. This is a total different DG match than you’ll see, even if you watch Shingo’s matches alone. A lot of more compact and simple - it ruled. ****
  3. This is an interesting group of people. You have Yusuke Kodama. Someone who is aesthetically appealing but missing that tangible quality. And you have Shotaro Ashino, someone with some much talent and ability. Particularly on the mat but can sometimes possess the overly ambitious ideas of Kurt Angle. Yes, I do mean that as a criticism - the way he can sometimes be working on the arm for a while then randomly throw a German for example. El Lindaman - he has personality of a 6ft5 speed fiend but the body of a 5ft4 weightlifter. And Shigehiro Irie. The man used to possess a green mohawk. And that’s all you really need to say about him El Lindaman is a perfect little shite in this match. He has a small frame, but by no means does he wrestle as such. He is very aggressive, used a ton of chokes and claw holds early on. Lindaman’s expressions make his performance. Looking into the refs eyes while he is counting to five and counting along. The little smiles he pulls when he counters something Kodama does early on or knocks Ashino off the apron. Irie being the base of his aerial moves perfectly encapsulates why the were a good little team in the match as well. Irie is the brute (and not the cuddly bear he normally portrays) and Lindaman is the smarts. Now while I enjoyed Lindaman, Kodama didn’t compel me as a face. He doesn’t look like a face and while he is impressively smooth, he isn’t able to show that fire required in the role he had in the match. I just didn’t feel in anyway like I was rooting for Kodama to get the tag. Ashino when he got worked over by Strong Hearts was similar but Ashino sold much better. His suplexes to Lindaman looked really good. I thought him and Irie going against each other felt a little flat. They seemed to be protecting that pairing for a potential singles match but from what I saw he, I’m a little cold on the idea. The finish with Ashino finally getting control with the ankle lock after the aforementioned suplexes was good. Seeing the little terror in El Lindaman tapping out was a good finish for the match. The match didn’t blow me away but I liked the brief tag work by Strong Hearts. I dug Ashino fighting against the 2 on 1 assaults. Irie was fine for what he did. And Kodama continues to be only visually enjoyable. ***1/4
  4. Tetsuya Naito for the past several years has the most beloved wrestler in New Japan but is he one of the best wrestlers in regards to his matches? Some people would call him the best, some would call him terrible and sloppy at times. I think he is something inbetween. I find his work to be inconsistent. He can have these great matches, like the Tanahashi trilogy in 2017 and the Omega matches in the G1, which I thought were great to watch. But then just look like he is sleep walking his way through a match, like his Minoru Suzuki matches. I find him best when he is playing off his opponents rather than being worked over (I'm going to use Suzuki match) or controlling the match (his recent Ishii match in the G1). I'm going through a ton of early Naito to see if there is any difference and there are some but not a lot. Mostly a bit more aerial offence and way more bland than his LIJ character.
  5. The match that saved Okada’s main event career after flopping so badly that anyone other than Gedo would’ve been turned off. The first real match of one of the greatest in-ring rivalries ever, in my opinion. My favourite actually. Some great storytelling to start off, stemming from the Dome interaction. Tanahashi catching Okada out several times, using his experience to keep the advantage. Which then began to turn into Tanahashi being more arrogant, playing to the crowd more and not taking Okada seriously, allowing Okada to get some ground in the match. And considering that this is one of Okada’s first matches where he is in control, without having the chance to develop that overseas, he does a pretty good job of doing it either. He is awkward at first, but gets his groove eventually, and then pulls out some nice experimental offence on Tanahashi (llave style~!). Tanahashi really had his working boots on, selling and putting over Okada big time while adding some leg work on the leg, giving the match some great drama. There were some great transitions with Okada catching Tanahashi with the tilt-a-whirl into the tombstone and then Okada moving out of the way of a rolling senton by Tana on the outside, following up with brutal tombstone on the outside. Both great ways to put over the tombstone as a big move as well. The selling near the latter stages was nice with Okada being unable to follow up after he counters the High Fly Flow with his knees. Loved the finishing stretch, as I usually do with these two. Simple and impactful. And yet, every time I see it, I get goosebumps every time Red Shoes counts the three. Nagata's, Fale's, Rad Shoes, Gedo's and especially Okada's facial expressions after that pin were all gold. Shock, surprise, amazement, the look of "OMG I did it". And…..Rainmaker Shock Indeed. ****1/4
  6. I did like Miyahara's posing as it added some character to the generic structure of the opening sections of the match. Miyahara really came across as the dominant ace that is still champion (that's a shoot, brother) and for some reason, despite me hating that Miyahara is still champ, I bloody loved it. Him no-selling Nomura and really treating him like garbage is so appealing. Nomura in return was okay for the most part. I thought his brief work on the ribs was forgettable and didn't add a ton to the match other than cutting off once Miyahara comeback with the spear. He didn't stand out as a top level guy but he wasn't awful either. I liked his forearms (and strikes in general) although I didn't love the strike exchange they had. There would be such long pauses in between them that it was annoying not to see them at least try and follow up while the other is trying to stay on their feet. The parts where Nomura was nailing Miyahara with the forearms late in the match ruled though. As was the rest of his offence in that finishing stretch. Showed tons of life before Miyahara hit the shutdown. Appropriate name. A good main event, one of Miyahara's better matches in 2019 (add performances to that also). It just needed more from Nomura outside of the finish. ***1/2
  7. I like Kamitani. He is rather bland look-wise but I think he generally is good when he is on the same page as his opponent (aka not the Hideki match). Sato is just a gremlin that’ll give you brain damage. So yeah, this looked good. Striking v Power. Experience vs Youth. Ruthlessness vs Determination. Kamitani gave a very spirited performance here. I thought his suplexes and submissions were good. Loved the use of the standing variation of the stretch plum. His facial expressions when Sato was kicking his chest were good. He had a big stretch of offence in the match and he made good use of it. Sato did very little - just a few strikes until the finish. This was pretty much Kamitani dominating. So it was good but it needed a little more from Sato and the crowd, really. ***1/2
  8. I’ve watched this a couple of times but I was never that high on it myself. The highest I ever recall myself going on it was ***1/2. But with a bit of context, I imagine this’ll come off better. Suzuki has been terrorizing New Japan for the past year. First taking Kojima’s stable, then getting to the (practically) semi-final of the G1 with no stop in sight. And now, he is facing the pure face of the promotion. The Ace. The Champion. Hiroshi Tanahashi. I liked the escalation this match had. Suzuki changing and adapting as Tanahashi began to figure him out. First on the mat, then when Suzuki starts throwing strikes and then he heads to the outside for which Tanahashi had no answer for. The match had a bit of a lull but then Suzuki began attacking the arm and that’s where the match improved tremendously. Suzuki started to show off some of his personality rather than being a bit dry early on (compared to later anyway). Tanahashi had some nice selling. Him using one arm during the slap exchange opposed to Suzuki using two was a good example of it and added to the total against the odds feel match this had. I think the match had to deal with a tough crowd, which at one point didn’t even pop for Suzuki kicking out of a High Fly Flow which probably took some of the drama that it could have. And apart from one nearfall from the Piledriver, the crowd didn’t seem to buy Suzuki winning here at all. So there are a few problems that take away. I think the overall match was fun and the post match angle is both famous (as far as what it would mean for the future of the promotion) and infamous (for its initial reception). Good main event but much more inferior to their match later in the year. ***1/2
  9. This was hell to watch. Hell. 30 minutes long. How on earth is Shane McMahon going 30 with The Undertaker and why? This was so bad. Awful offence from Shane McMahon which was borderline parody. Taker looks old as hell and it's embarrassing seeing him sell for Shane tbh. Awful pacing, awful spots aside from one. DUD
  10. Two generational rivals going against each other one more time. Shinsuke Nakaura, G1 Winner against Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ace Of A Century and IWGP Heavyweight Champion. It's a high stakes match and it plays out as such. From the entrances, it felt like this had way more weight to it than most of their other matches, even the ones in the Dome. A calm hesitancy early on, both looking for openings with Nakamura, occasionally, hitting a flurry of strikes, one of which caused Tanahashi to retaliate by going for the knee. But with Nakamura being more skilled on the mat, he fought and struggled, even getting a Fujiwara armbar locked in. Both wrestlers blurred the lines of whether they'd get a little heelish with Taanahashi playing dirty with the leg but Nakamura being a bit dickish with his strikes, so the fans were split all the way through. Chants of Nakamura and Tanahashi, even boos in some cases, were prevalent throughout the bout. I loved the way they put the cross armbreaker over a dangerous move. Tanahashi's utter desperation to stay out of it anyway he could was great. The struggle which lead to Tanahashi locking on the cloverleaf which then gave Nakamura the opening to lock it on before Tanahashi got to the ropes was just fantastic. Nakamura unable to follow up on the sudden Boma Ye finish, his bread and butter, just after Tanahashi had him in the cloverleaf was great selling, very consistent with his selling the entire match. The finishing stretch wasn't a total bombfest that you would expect from a New Japan main event. Instead it was a battle of Nakamura trying to find a clean connection with his Boma Ye and Tanahashi trying to weather the storm, and hit the High Fly Flow in return. Great match with yet another tremendous Nakamura performance with Tanahashi be awesome himself, albeit the lesser of the two in the match. ****1/2
  11. Makai Club #1

    [2011-10-10-NJPW-Destruction] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito

    This has been a feud that's been going for a while now. Naito has beaten Tanahashi a few times now, once in the New Japan Cup in 2010, got Tanahashi to a draw, which was a win for Naito at that stage and then in the G1 in 2011, but this was his big shot at the title. The match had was a bit bland for the first half of the match, Naito dominating Tanahashi, establishing himself as a force and Tanahashi working the leg but it was very paint by numbers. The match got better as the match progressed when there was little more back and forth and Naito looking to finish off Tanahashi. Tanahashi's dragon screws near the end added some nice drama to it with Naito having to sell the leg much more and it having a bigger factor into the match. The tap out tease with Tanahashi locking on the cloverleaf was excellent. Naito began to come alive while making his comebacks which I liked a lot. It was the only time he really seemed to have any fire. The finish was decent but wasn't that homerun they were going for. The match I think really tried to have that epic feel that solidifies Naito as a main eventer but so much of the match was just generic and was done so much better in most Tanahashi title defences of the year (Nakamura, Goto, Kojima, etc). Don't get me wrong, this had a ton of good things in it but it just left you with the feeling of disappointment at the same time. ***1/4
  12. Short little match but they go nuts having a bit of everything in one setting and it works perfectly. Tajiri at one point, goes from saying Guido's tights stink when he pulls them in the "show you arse" spot to going to town on Guido's cut which he split open with two consecutive running chair shots. This isn't just the Yoshihiro Tajiri show though. Guido is great in the match. Love his selling, he brought tons of aggressiveness to his offence and his playing to the crowd only got them more into it. ***3/4
  13. Makai Club #1

    Kento Miyahara

    Like Tanahashi, Okada, he is very formulatic. It can work at its absolute best but it's something I find myself burned out on. And that's from someone who loves watching New Japan main events most of the time, so it's safe to assume Miyahara has something to do with it. I wouldn't agree with the best in the world talk at all though. Miyahara is more like top 20-50, especially in 2019. Just too many lacklustre performances for me. But he does have some class matches. Both Zeus matches last year (21/10/18 & 27/07/18), Suwama (09/10/17), Shuji Ishikawa (27/08/17)
  14. Makai Club #1

    [2010-03-13-EVOLVE 2] Chris Hero vs Ikuto Hidaka

    This was a very good match. I think the match went a bit too long, had a few no-selly moments at the end but mostly a well worked technical battle. They incorporated each other’s size differences well with Hero getting most of the leverage, using strength to get certain holds while Hidaka had to find holes in Hero’s game and work it to his advantage. Hero’s work on Hidaka’s arm was the main focus, and there was some good work done. Hidaka sold it nicely as well. A better finish, a better match but this was still pretty great. ****
  15. Classic BxB Hulk entrance~! Hulk just radiates stardom. Some beautifully fluid exchanges between BxB Hulk and CIMA early on. WORLD-1 do a superb job of establishing control early on with Speed Muscle, being the best tag team in Dragon Gate history, along with BxB Hulk’s coolness on offence staying ahead of WARRIORS with some good tag work. The switches of control were solid, helping the match along, allowing the commentum flow. The triple team work by WARRIORS was also good - that triple drop kick was insane in both theory and execution. And GAMMA hitting BxB’s little Hulks with a kendo kick was brutal. Great heel work that establishing the difference between the teams. Loved it coming back to haunt him with a great little comedy spot that didn’t detract at all. Dragon Kid really stood out in the match. Loved the interactions with all of WORLD-1, the Yoshino hurricanrana/powerbomb sequence especially. The FIP section Dragon Kid had was a great mix of tag wrestling and great selling. One thing Dragon Gate matches excel at and do better than anyone is the chaotic finishing stretches where everyone comes in and goes nuts. It’s both chaotic but worked perfectly. Seamless action - it’s incredible. The finish with BxB Hulk protecting Yoshino who has the Sol Nociente locked on GAMMA as well. It was just incredible wrestling. Great tag team action, great individual sequences, great performances all round. ****3/4