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  1. Eddy is a PKA dork, so he's wearing fancy pants and will be throwing some fancy kicks. Rounds are in effect. The crowd is wild on this one but I didn't enjoy it as much as they did. Eddy just doesn't really know how to do any grappling, which is the prerequisite for a good Inoki match. He doesn't know to fall down when Inoki does the leg scissors takedown and he sits the wrong way in an armbar at one point. Some good strikes are thrown, though. But even then, Eddy throws a good enzuigiri a couple times and Inoki just no sells it. The ref is very active with the clinch breaks, which fucking sucks in pro boxing and kickboxing, and it sucks even more in this, a worked fight. Inoki wins by knockout after a leg drop (lol) in round 5.
  2. Ruska has been wrestling since their first match and he's so much better now. This is one of Inoki's best matches as far as matwork goes, which means a lot I think. On the other hand, it's not very competitive and Inoki for the most part just beats Ruska down. Every hold is dramatic and Ruska has to go for a bunch of rope breaks, but you never get the sense that Inoki is in trouble. This is a huge improvement over the first match because Ruska can now do a couple different things, beyond just working in side control. He goes for an armbar! He gets in a boxing stance and throws some shit out there! Inoki gets low and throws a couple kicks, which makes sense after the Ali match and I think Ruska reacts better to those than to the few strikes thrown on their first bout. There's a very cool spot where Inoki applies the boston crab, Ruska stands up out of it and Inoki dives into the mat head-first. Inoki recovers pretty quickly (would've been cool if he sold that more) and after some outside brawling, he puts Ruska out with punches.
  3. Wim Ruska is a big dutch judoka who seems very fond of the ude-garami. It's cool to actually see one of Inoki vs. martial artist bouts, but I don't think it's a great pro wrestling match. There's a couple of interesting moments, like some of Inoki's pinfall reversal and two of the funniest Inoki punch spots (the ref goes "no it's a forearm" and Ruska throws his hands up in exasperation), but I don't think Ruska's style lends itself to good matwork. He basically just wants to sit in side control and try to get the aforementioned ude-garami. Inoki uses Ruska's black belt to pull him up into the backdrop suplex for the pinfall, which was quite the thing to watch.
  4. Much like the 2012 Omega-Ibushi Budokan match, I think this is too long and kind of a mess, but they also do some incredible stuff. They just take several very dumb bumps, starting with Takeshita catching Sasaki's suicide dive and doing a brainbuster on the apron. I also loved Sasaki's elbow drop to the outside. More importantly, Takeshita does Antonio Honda's bionic elbow, which I always find very endearing. They thankfully drop the leg work very early on, so Takeshita's weird selling is not something that taints the rest of the match but it's still lame that they had to fill time with that. Sasaki's matches almost always have ref bumps, but I thought the first one here was actually really bad because Takeshita climbs to the top rope, Sasaki grabs Matsui, Takeshita pauses and goes like "oh no", and then crossbodies both of them anyway. There's a lot to like in this match, some great offense, very good selling from Sasaki, a few good character moments. However, I find it hard to get into big sprawling main events if there's not enough of a cohesive throughline in them, and I think that's lacking here.
  5. This is the end of Aoki in DDT for now, but there's many IGF matches of his that I haven't seen and are probably good. The match delivered all I expected from it, and I'd say is an improvement on their already very good first match. I don't see many people excited about Aoki's DDT run, but I am and I think a spot on this match elucidates why. There's even a moment where Aoki deliberately crosses HARASHIMA's ankles, as HARA has his back, and pushes downwards with his leg. This applies pressure on your ankle and you can see it used as a submission in QUINTET Fight Night 2, which took place just weeks ago, but also in jiujitsu dojos all across the world when taking your first lessons. You don't see stuff like that in pro wrestling enough. It makes any given match much richer to have someone with a wealth of submission grappling experience and a willingness to just do new shit that he's thought up. It's kind of a shame that HARA is the only DDT guy who could really trade submissions and keep up with him on the mat, but I don't think Aoki had a single boring match in this run. I also found the story of this match and the short series between these two very compelling, as HARASHIMA survives and eventually wins with very pro wrestling methods. He bests Aoki in tests of strenght, he pulls off a giant swing and a gamengiri. Even the piledriver, which he'd hit in the first singles match and sets up his finisher this time, is not something he normally uses but differentiates him against Aoki. He wins with the always reliable somato after the piledriver.
  6. Another stop in Aoki's strange pro wrestling career. This time, he's Pedro Takashi's retirement match in the weirdest show of the year. I have no clue who Takashi is but from what I gathered, he's a Muscle regular and his gimmick is doing capoeira. Aoki comes out in full judogi. Takashi is very middle-aged and he may look silly but he throws some really cool kicks. He never hits Aoki with them, but they were nice. Aoki beats Takashi down with soccer kicks and once he takes it to the ground, he starts going through submissions, which is something I would never get tired of. He takes the gi and chokes Takashi with it after being lightly grazed by a flip kick. I haven't yet seen Aoki's second match against HARASHIMA but this might be his best selling performance, he really sells Takashi's knee strikes like death, and then he catches a moonsault! Takashi misses a corner senton after getting Aoki back in the ring. The match gets more dramatic at this point, and Aoki shows more viciousness. He does a Gotch piledriver and he shrugs off a rolling thunder kick. Takashi's selling is great and you really want him to pull off this desperate comeback, but Aoki just keeps beating him down. He puts Takashi out with a rear-naked choke and then lightly sets him down on the mat and pins him, like a damn savage. Worth a watch.
  7. Yoshimura and Okuda feuded with Umeda for a long time when they were in DNA. They were really good heels. This is in Okuda's hometown and an inversion of that dynamic, with Okuda and Naomi fighting from underneath for most of the match. The match is still good. Umeda and Higuchi are really good just silently beating down the hometown fighter. All four like working fairly stiff and every exchange is interesting. They just keep hitting and throwing each other down until Okuda pins Umeda with a bridging suplex. Very straightforward match in that sense. Even if only Okuda has been a pro fighter in any capacity, I also find all four very believable as "fighters" because of their mannerisms. Really good matchup and I'm sure they could put on a better version of this match down the line. Everyone in this match is surprisingly young and there's no reason for them to not keep facing each other.
  8. He does throw one particularly great flying knee in this match and he takes a beating too. It's probably easy to convey being hurt when Shuji Ishikawa is throwing you around, but I still felt Umeda's selling was great. Umeda is one of my favourite active wrestlers, and Shuji almost always delivers in featured matches like this one.
  9. I remain endlessly fascinated and entertained by Aoki's run. He goes to the top rope in this match! He takes a chair shot! This is a match between the four singles title match participants at Judgement, DDT's first (second if you count MUSCLEMANIA [musclemania!]) Ryogoku show this year. The first half of the match has a slow build-up and serves as a preview for the two Sumo Hall matches, there's the methodical technical wrestling between HARASHIMA and Aoki, and the counter-fest between Takeshita and Sasaki. Both are good. Then, Takeshita gets his leg worked over again here and he's still selling like he always has, which is an issue and I hope it's not a focus of their next match. That caused this match to fall apart for me a bit, despite a handful of interesting moments in the second half. I gotta say, I really liked Sasaki opposite Aoki. I think Sasaki did a better job than most of Aoki's DDT opponents, because for the most part he just turtled up and tried to defend any submission attempts through rope breaks or countering into a crossface. I thought that was a smart detail. Aoki hits a gorgeous flying armbar on him early on, as well.
  10. aaeo_

    Current New Japan

    It's occured to me that the "Ibushi hasn't signed a contract" thing waspossibly a work. The only places where he has actually wrestled since 2017 are NJPW and their affiliates (and one Power Hall show, I suppose).
  11. aaeo_

    Comments that don't warrant a thread - Part 4

    Is there any surviving footage from 80s lucha libre show Pavillon Azteca?
  12. Just as I am about to be done with my DDT Universe binge watch, they've started uploading missing shows from 2014. This match is good in paper and in reality! Sato and Sakaguchi have some heated exchanges. Sakaguchi gets the better of Sato and from there, him and Akito work his leg over. Sato's selling during this part of the match is great, it's just very desperate and imbues this midcard tag with a lot of drama. The Takagi hot tag is surprisingly good. He dragon screws Akito and Sakaguchi! I forgot he even did that. Sakaguchi is also a lot more spry here, and he gets a sick rear-naked choke on Takagi to stop his momentum. Sato doesn't sell the leg as well after tagging back in, but there's still a lot of drama when Akito sinks in the ankle lock on him. Sato wins with the armbar.
  13. aaeo_

    Current New Japan

    I strongly disagree!
  14. aaeo_

    Current New Japan

    At this point, it's awe-inspiring that with a roster that includes Suzuki, Goto and Ibushi, they keep finding a way to put their belt on the dullest wrestlers they can possibly find.
  15. Very fun match between grizzled vet Shiozaki and callow rookie MAO. MAO annoys and mocks Shiozaki until Go catches him, chops him, dangles him out the ring while in a sleeper hold and spikes his head on the apron. After that, Go brings the violence. He knees MAO in the head and repeatedly clobbers him with big strikes. One tiny detail that I enjoyed was MAO defending a vertical suplex attempt by grapevining Shiozaki's leg, whereas most wrestlers would just squat and make a noise. MAO makes a couple brief comebacks but Shiozaki chops him down with uh... chops. MAO was amazing in this tournament, all his matches had an interesting spin of some sort. Shiozaki was also very good in the DDT environment overall, worked hard in every match and all that.