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  1. I exhumed a load of reviews from the grooveyard for this one. I'm psyched to do it though. Jun Akiyama is one of my favorites I hope you enjoy reading and you take the time to go back to good old days of 1990's AJPW! OK let's get this started! vs Al Perez, vs Ted DiBiase (1/15 & 10/23/93): Both of these are worth checking out for that fun house show type of match. Both opponents kept the action and pace going for a couple entertaining matches. Its especially cool to see DiBiase back in AJPW after his very good run back in '87. Akiyama & Takao Omori vs The Fantastics (01/29/95): This was a highlight reel match for both teams. It wasn't heavy on the drama or story but damn! it featured quick action Watch for when Jun gets some Hashimoto nose blood. Good match and fans of these guys should take the time to watch it. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama (Champ Carnival 03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. Great Match perhaps a Near Classic Toshiaki Kawada, Johnny Ace & Takao Omori vs Stan Hansen, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (04/15/95): All Japan had some of the best six-man matches that you'd think they were M-Pro in '96. But yeah AJ was doing it in the late 80's & early 90's and if you didn't know they were even doing them in 1995 too. This was a surprise for me but, I'm not going to fawn over it. 4 out of the 6 guys are bonafide greats, and Omori has got the chops and Ace knows how to hang with the group too. I mean he's got some 5 star matches to his credit, right? So, you put all of them together you're going to get something enjoyable. That's always been my rating scale on all of these...how much I enjoyed them There were so many neat stories here with everyone being Champ Carny runners-up for one then you've got: Hansen beating Kawada a month earlier for the belts, Kobashi & Ace at the same show went toe-to-toe during their tag war, then you've got Kobashi against Kawada who not only went to a draw in Jan. but they went to one during the Carny, and then you've got Akiyama vs. Kawada which is always awesome and the story of him & Omori as up & comers as well as being All-Asia tag partners (either around this time or in the past.) AND you've got Hansen, the last of the old guard showing he can still go. Whew! The fact of the matter is that with all of this they didn't need to do too much to make this great but, being the best promotion of the 90's they sure as hell did AND then some. The more AJPW you watch the better the match is. Classic stuff! Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama vs Steve Williams/Johnny Ace - (06/07/96 Tag Team Titles): A pure 20 minute plus spree of excitement and near falls. Ace has never looked better, and his chemistry with Akiyama is what made this match so great. Doc once out of the limelight really showed his strength as a brilliant tag wrestler. He and Ace were such a standout team because of this dynamic. Akiyama played his role brilliantly and Misawa was ace but also senpai. This was his role here and it was masterful as ever and touched an emotional nerve. The dynamic with Doc and Akiyama was rough in the early going but as it became more heated, one forgot this segment of the action. It was clear this match was for Ace and Akiyama to shine and they did not disappoint. A classic for sure! Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. It was different and helped slow down Akiyama who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasn’t going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boy’s arm out of the socket. That’s alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, that’s not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, and Asako are the one’s with something to prove. The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. Great final match for a TV episode…I’d love to be a teenager again and see this at 10:30 at night before going to bed and thinking about it all the next day at school! Reminds me of ECW Hardcore TV in that way. Very good match. vs Mitsuharu Misawa (04/18/98 Champ Carnival): Whoa! Blue Bomber coming in with the game plan! This might be the birth of Akiyama - the genius. Here he is precise like a surgeon opertating on Misawa. Elbows, dropkicks, leg locks etc. but, the Emerald ace is double tough & plenty dangerous. This 20 minute match showcases excellent timing and pacing that crescendos with a badass finishing segment. A near classic match, damn might even be a classic in my book. Smart and violent wrestling in the AJ tradition. vs Kenta Kobashi (07/24/98): What a match! I really enjoyed Jun's persistant focus on slowing Kobashi down. He had a slew of surprising attacks against the Orange Crush's knee. They felt so organic. Of course, this all would be meaningless if it wasn't for Kenta's masterful selling. This is the timeless Kings Road 'blurred reality' selling where its very difficult to tell if the damage is real or imagined. I liked this match much more than than the Kawada vs Kobashi 06/12/98 bout. I feel that match-up had been done to death. Besides, I felt Kobashi never fully clicked in singles encounters with Kawada. Also, Kobashi refrained from hulking up which always has to be noted at this point in his career Anyhow, I thought this match was a classic! vs Yoshinari Ogawa (09/11/98): Two geniuses go at it in the squared circle! This is an all action bout with lightning counter moves from Ogawa with Jun keeping pace and selling just enough to keep Ogawa in the fight. Rat Boy is underrated a hell and such a breath of fresh air. I loved this match and so did the fans. Great match! Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (10/11/98) – This was a great little tag match. Kawada was just pissed and brutal. He was beating Akiyama, he was beating Kobashi, and he himself got beaten for good measure too! We all win! Akiyama had a spirited showing as well. Kobashi and Taue do show their wear and tear so, this wasn’t exactly everyone in their prime but, this still kicked a fair bit of ass. It’s that unpredictable appeal of very late 90’s AJPW that had me interested in this one for sure. Anyone can win in these matches and more importantly- anyone can lose. Great bout. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (01/07/99) – The first few minutes (?) were clipped from this match. I’m a little bummed of that but, in all honesty I think AJPW’s clippings are superior to let’s say NJ or M-Pro’s clipping of things. They always seem to pick a nice point to pick up the action and ride it on out. Ok so, it starts with the original “Burning” picking apart Kawada’s knee. From there Taue gets in and brings the fire like it’s 1995! He must have gotten a good night’s sleep because he’s kicking with pep. The man’s throwing dropkicks like he’s a youngster. I love it! This is especially the case since Kobashi is all taped up…I think from a bout with Vader perhaps. Anyhow the Holy Demon Army go rabid over this. Akiyama’s there doing his spots and sequences and it’s nice but, Taue really brought the shit tonight! This is an all action match with bags full of energy and pep. The teams were really feeling the electricity in the air on this one. It wasn’t hall of fame stuff but, I still don’t think anyone was doing matches this exciting in 1999 Japan. Great! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (03/06/99 AJPW): This was a fantastic must see match. That’s not just for very late 90s AJPW either. This was surprisingly awesome. Misawa and Ogawa’s chemistry is great. Burning has come together as a team in their own right and were equally impressive. Plenty of great tag team maneuvers and teases. This was an AJPW style that went back to the early 90s in terms of surprises and timing. This was not the King’s Road pinnacle style yet, there was a glut of excitement and drama nonetheless. I could see anyone who would want to get into the 90s All Japan style to start out here. It’s got everything. It really encourages me to checkout the late 90s AJ scene more. This was a true gem. vs Takao Omori (09/04/99): If you are a fan of either guy then, damn man, you need to watch this!! Knees, lariats, armbars, attacks off the top rope, man! Why did people thing AJ sucked in '99? It has a big match feel, it has a nice early focus on grappling then, organically transitions to big moves but no MKII finishers which was refreshing. This is very similar to 2012-2015 actually Great match! Burning (Kobashi & Akiyama) vs Untouchables (Misawa & Ogawa) (10/23/99 Tag Titles): This maybe one of the greatest action style tag match ever done. Now they did edit out a portion at the beginning but, I can’t think it was too much. The combat here was hot and hard hitting throughout. Ogawa of course brought his chicanery but, worked so fast and tight that he deserved to be in a true title fight. Misawa was not a slouch either, proving he still has it with multiple dives and splashes. Kobashi was Japanese Hercules and Akiyama had finally grown into his boots. The Blue boy brought the moves and stiffness we didn’t really think he had until NOAH. Other than that I can’t say enough good things about the match. So, I will declare it’s not the same match you would expect in the heydays of 93-96 but, it is just an awesome display of grit, drama, and courage. I would seek this match out without hesitation. One of those matches I slept on for awhile but, so glad I finally got it - classic match! Burning (Kobashi/Akiyama) vs NO FEAR (Omori/Takayama) (10/30/99): I hadn’t heard too much chatter about this match until the 1999 PWO Yearbook. It’s certainly one of those matches an AJPW junkie wants to see just in case it’s an overlooked gem. Well, this is an overlooked gem for sure! Takayama is just about on par with the blonde haired bastard from the 2000s. Omori is just a beefier version of the ass kicker from 95-96 that was giving guys a run for their money. So, to give a summary- This was heated and intense. NO FEAR showed they belonged by handing Burning’s ass to them. Takayama was especially brutal. It’s as we’ve come to expect just, a few years earlier that he’s given credit for. It’s a quick match for AJ standards but, it delivers just how you want it to. Very good! Vader & Steve Williams vs AJ Tag Team Champions Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama (02/20/00 AJPW): Vader & Dr. Death are a hell of a team and Akiyama was ready to bring it. Kobashi dogged it a bit but, took some good shots and nice bumps so it didn't matter too much. This is the time and place where Vader & Dr. Death shine. Near Classic to classic match. Thank you for reading!!! Now go watch some wrestling!
  2. Man oh man I LOVED this one. Such an amazing performance from Fuchi trying to survive against a higher ranked opponent by destroying his leg. His early control segment ruled, he was just viciously slamming Misawa's leg onto the announce table. The legwork set Fuchi up for both his future control segments giving him a good base to work on by stretching Misawa and also provided with him a way to easily and believably transition back into offence. Misawa's selling was sublime, just a perfect example of how selling doesn't have to black or white (and in most cases when such selling is used it takes away from the match more than anything), he limped and slowed down but still went for all his big stuff regardless like you would in a fight and recognized the pain both by not being able to follow up a great looking frog splash with a cover and by modifying his flip lariat (usually he would use a dashing start, here he just kind of threw himself at Fuchi). We get a few nearfalls that didn't use "big" moves but were extremely well set up and the crowd bought into them before a cool and (for All Japan) unique finish. A lot of stars.
  3. JIP to some slightly random back and forth move exchanges before Hansen & Spivey get things on track with some quality armwork on Misawa. Of course, this never ends up being important, and I'm starting to wonder why people started about these female wrestlers and juniors not selling properly when these all time greats here also did it all the time. Fun finish with Kobashi getting all excited only to eat a lariat to the mouth, but the highlight was clearly Hansen & Spivey dropping elbows.
  4. The final installment of my 2006 NOAH Navigation. It is pretty stacked so let’s get on with it! Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone vs Takeshi Rikio & Takashi Sugiura (11/17): To be up front, I was not excited about this match. 3 out of 4 of the guys are good only in tags or short matches so, I’m tuning in for Takeshi M. Frankly, this starts out bland as unsalted popcorn. Even the Korakuen krowd were not into this! Business eventually picks up and this is actually fun to watch. Wait a minute! This is actually something I’d recommend to fellow Morishima Maniacs…damn this just gets better & better. False Finishes & saves abound! It’s a blast! Both teams really worked their butts off to put on a great match. It wasn’t really deep or anything but, their effort really made this something special. Shinjiro Otani, Kazunari Murakami & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Makoto Hashi (12/02): Akiyama vs Otani is dream match-up stuff to me. I’m excited. Also I’ll say that I miss Makoto Hashi. He was a tough impactful scrapper type of guy. Sort of a utility wrestler who go in any spot he needed to. I will say that I don’t miss his bouncy bosom though :I Its here in full effect but, shit he gets hardway juice from a Murakami headbutt and gets his face eliminated by Otani so, jiggle away my man! In all seriousness, this is some very nice 6 man wrestling. Once Akiyama gets in there to save Hashi, this opens up like a cheap bag of chips. Akiyama is directing rush hour traffic here and it’s wonderful. Guys are going everywhere, Hashi’s bleeding from the head and mouth- this is Sterness vs Zero-1 for sure! This never steps outside of it’s place on the card and that is a testament to Otani & Akiyama. It’s something I’d highly recommend checking out. KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (12/02): 2006 methodical surgeon, Bryan Danielson? Yes, please! Oh man it’s been awhile seeing Dragon work this style and it is a joy. He takes the reigns here and forces KENTA to restrain himself- both real and in-ring. This is brilliant because it only magnifies KENTA’s explosive ferocity. When he gets an opening, he’s like a Tasmanian Devil. That being said, this is more of a dry athletic contest than their ROH title fight in October. I could watch this forever though. It was really perfectly executed and perfectly matched competitors. For that I’d say it was a near classic encounter and should be watched right along with their others. I will say this style really shows the limitations of KENTA however. He doesn’t seems to really add much of anything different to the bout despite this being a different style. He just does his thing when he gets a chance. This is OK but, it does really show that Danielson (and Marufuji indirectly) are superior workers. Nonetheless, these two work so well together, it was just an awesome competetive match. Takeshi Morishima vs Go Shiozaki (12/10): This starts really solid with Go being like 1995 Jun Akiyama. Morishima is a generous fellow here but, that soon wears thin. Its time to show Go who’s the Tag Champ. This is over way too soon for my liking but, got the point across with both guys. Recommend this match to fans of either. Akira Taue, Mushiking Terry, Taiji Ishimori & Atsushi Aoki vs SUWA, TARU, Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI (12/10): This is a fine match to show friends and loved one who are used to traditional heel/babyface dynamics. Taue is the man in this and the younger babyfaces bring all kinds of fireworks when its their time to shine. The heels are dastardly and feed the faces at just the right times. This is fun, fun stuff for non-fans and wrestler dorks alike Naomichi Marufuji vs Mitsuharu Misawa (12/10): GHC belt is on the line. A quick cardio opening shows us that not only can Misawa go but, much better than his peers (see 03/05 & 04/23 Marufuji matches). ‘Fuji baits Misawa to gain control and locks in a fierce stepover facelock. Misawa again uses his elbows to create space but, the champ is using his brain and is damn quick. He focuses in on the challenger’s legs like a laser. Naomichi is almost heelish in his ruthlessness. Misawa calls for the ref to break Marufuji on two occasions. This appeal to the official is a clear departure from the collected Mitsuharu of youth. Further, Naomichi seems to welcome the legendary elbow strikes. He’s proving that Misawa is no longer the invulnerable hero & that he IS the rightful holder of the GHC championship. Of course, our Emerald Hero finds an opening and hits back hard. He has to or this is going to be over before it begins. They’re both wounded and desperate- shit gets good! An organic, excellently executed and paced bout. The escalation of violence and the moves chosen have contextual significance. They wrestlers don’t just do things because that’s when they’re supposed to do the big moves. Additionally, the omission of some key attacks are also significant. The finish was just fantastic as well- Very reminiscent of Hansen/Kobashi 07/93 in my opinion. It felt like a struggle up until the end. And let’s be honest- that’s how it is supposed to be! The fans storm the barricades after the bell like White Walkers at Hardhome. Classic match man. Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Takashi Sugiura (12/23): GHC Jr. belt on a SEM show. SEM was (is?) like a 205 Live of NOAH shows. This is fought like a NJPW NEVER championship match. Seriously…stiff as a starched shirt, good power moves, and transitions of control based on toughness/powering through more than finding openings. Sugiura eventually has to use his Cro-Magnon brain to save himself from the Japanese Karl Pilkington Terminator. But damn if, Sugiura isn’t a beast himself. Holy Shit! No doubt this would be a 4.5-5 star match if this were in NJ today. I’ve watch a nice chunk of the G1 and this fits right alongside the touted matches from the tour. Likewise, I don’t think it was classic stuff nor even a great match on the whole. It WAS a great display of toughness & neck-death though! Highly recommended. ****** Pro Wrestling NOAH 2006 is completed in my books! Woo-hoo! It’s been one of those watch-projects that I’ve been putting off for about 3-4 years. I had seen a few matches that I really dug back then and heard about on the NOAH USA website. Plus this year was really strong in various opinion polls and boards. So, I got a few DVDs with the purpose of watching the stuff that seemed most interesting to me but, like all of us, got sidetracked. I think what was most interesting was that I realized I hadn’t seen a Misawa singles match in probably a couple years. That is so strange considering he was ubiquitous in my formative puro watching years and even in those early NOAH explorations. So, I was pleasantly surprised with his classic bouts against Morishima & Marufuji. He really still had “IT” in 2006. Unsurprisingly, Morishima & Marufuji’s stock went up with me as well. I’ve always liked them but, they had some high quality performances this year. Naomichi especially shone bright. I think his big push to be champion was well deserved despite it being so short. Takeshi Morishima had one classic singles match but, felt like the glue and future star of NOAH in 2006. KENTA is one person whose stock fell a little bit. He seemed really one dimensional. It’s a good dimension to have in pro-wrestling but, other than his match with Danielson, he didn’t show a lot of variety. This is not terrible since he frequently brings the intensity of the Sun at noon in the middle of July. Still, I would put him below Marufuji & Morishima at this point. This is a big shift in perspective for me since KENTA was near the top of my list for the 2000’s for a long time. He’s most likely top 10-15 still but, that’s still a downgrade. Also want to mention Taue & Akiyama being really fantastic as well. 2006 was about the elevation of the Marufuji, KENTA, and Morishima so, these two legends played a great supporting part in that as well as delivering some standout performances both in singles and tags. I want to see what ’07-’09 holds although probably not as in depth. I’m really interested to see Go Shiozaki develop to challenge Morishima, KENTA, & Marufuji. Sugiura gets pushed but, that seemed to be out of necessity than talent. I’m hoping that he gets a bit better in crafting his matches since he does play a big role in the GHC title later in the decade. Also, I want to see more of Taiji Ishimori. I remember not really caring for him at the time but, in today’s puro climate he’s relatively moderate. Top 5 Matches of the Year: KENTA vs N. Marufuji 01/22 KENTA vs K. Kobashi 03/05 T. Morishima vs M. Misawa 03/05 N. Marufuji vs KENTA 10/29 N. Marufuji vs M. Misawa 12/02 Biggest Letdown: N. Marufuji vs K. Kobashi 04/23 Biggest Surprises: Misawa/Akiyama vs Takayama/Sasaki 07/16 Shiozaki/Taue vs Shibata/KENTA 09/09 Morishima/Yone vs Rikio/Sugiura 11/17 2006 Akira Taue in general Big take away from this venture- 2006 NOAH is comparable to contemporary NJPW in my eyes. The crowd excitement, atmosphere & presentation may not be as slick as NJ but, the quality and style is very similar. I’ve said this in various reviews yet, I think it’s worth stating again especially coming of the 2018 G1 tournament where people raved about similar or lesser matches. Seriously…go back to NOAH 2006, it’s just as good or better.
  5. So, I decided to make this a 4 parter after all. There was way more NOAH that I wanted to watch than I thought. So, this installment will cover July to October. There's a ton of stuff at the very end of the year so, I figure that can have its own entry. Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima vs Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA (07/16/06): This is a tremendously exciting match where they did a sprint without going over board with moves or sequences. Morishima vs. KENTA was of course the sweetest thing here but Rikioh was a good partner for him while Marufuji was um not as good as could as he could have been. He was best during the double team segments but his super complex spots were just silly in a hard-hitting match like this. It helped that Rikioh usually made 'Fuji pay for his trickiness. Once the match picked up both were pretty awesome in their roles as back-ups. A good way to get past Marufuji is to consider him as this generation's Yoshinari Ogawa: weak strikes but speedy, crafty & exciting. It harkens back to the late 80s/early 90s when you didn't need to kill the guy to have a great match. The main difference is that Marufuji indulges in the unnecessary or esoteric where Ogawa "Keeps It Simple Stupid." There are some cock-ups that keep this from being a classic encounter. The stuff with KENTA & Morishima was awesome. Great match Jun Akiyama & Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kensuke Sasaki & Yoshihiro Takayama (07/16/06): Takayama return dream match. Kensuke is filling in for the ill Kobashi. Everyone looked really good in this hard hitting, action filled NOAH big time tag match. They didn't exactly empty their tanks but, fantastic effort and nice Kobashi tribute spots helped make this a great match. 16 minutes in duration. This doesn't get the talk like the Kobashi return but, man this is still a nice dream bout. It delivers like Dominoes, fool! ...man, that's lame. Ah screw it, I'm going with it! Katsuyori Shibata & KENTA vs Akira Taue & Go Shiozaki (09/09/06): Shibata starts with Taue and gets all karate on the old timer. Taue is like, "Fuck yo' karate, man!" Yes! Akira Taue don't fake the funk, Shibata or not. This reminds me of when Baba would fight Tenryu in a 6 man match. Tenryu (like Shibata) would open a can of whoop ass on Baba...to the extent that Baba might get hurt. But! It would only turn Grandpa Baba into Badass Baba who would just hit some indignant mean ass chops and neckbreakers. So, yeah this is Taue. Everything is up in the air with this puppy. A slept on great match. 15 minutes of action. Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji (09/09/2006): GHC belt is on the line. Spoiler in this review so, skip to end of this if you'd like to see this match. I've come to like this match a bit more than when I first saw it. I "get" 'Fuji now and the look on their faces after the bell is rung for the win is timeless. Marufuji is elated and Akiyama while upset has got a grin on his face like, "I can't believe he beat me without beating me." The thing is Akiyama in AJ held the same spot Marufuji does...the guy who got elevated quick and has to take his lumps in the ring but is damn athletic & damn talented. The ring work is mostly spots akin to a RVD/Jerry Lynn match so; it's entertaining and amazing but also not capable of "greatness." Akiyama is like Jerry Lynn in giving the match a skeleton from which to operate. It's more like, "Did you see that move? I can't believe he did that!" Still it's really fun and probably a neat way to start someone out on puroresu especially someone who's younger and wants to see wrestling instead of crud. It bit off more than it could chew at times but it's still quite good. Highly recommended KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (ROH 09/16/2006): ROH title match. This probably is the closest thing to prime 90's junior puroresu that we'll see in the United States. Both men brought everything to the match- intensity, stiffness, psychology, & pacing. The only reason it's not rated any higher is because there is some noticeable stalling, especially for the top rope moves. When put in comparison to the rest of that night's card & ROH in general, this flaw is barely noticeable. In an era where legends are fading away and style is valued over substance, it is reassuring that wrestlers like KENTA & Danielson are out there. This match had its goofy American-indy moments and the aforementioned stalling but, its greatness cannot be diminished. In a post-Baba, post-Misawa world, this is required viewing. Jun Akiyama vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (10/13/06): Jun's in his old AJ gear. This is a pretty entertaining match where Jun destroyed Kikuchi and that gravel throated bastard shows how tough he is. I'd recommend this if you're coming home after a long day at work and you wanna grab a beer, a sandwich, and some simple but, entertaining wrestling. Naomichi Marufuji vs KENTA (10/29/06): Title match ya'll. This certainly wasn't your typical NOAH main event and looked so far away from traditional AJPW it was astonishing. This style they were wrestling or maybe always wrestle with is more a derivative of Michinoku Pro or even Ring of Honor than AJPW. It's no secret that both were in the midst of their ROH touring and which direction the influence rubbed off...well, I debate that with myself sometimes. They always seem to want to go back to the spectacular spots which is unfortunately the legacy of their seniors but hopefully is not the legacy that 90's AJPW has left the wrestling world. To speak more specifically about KENTA & Marufuji, they are Junior wrestlers not apt to use deep tactics in their offense. They play with the idea but, tend to go for the high-impact moves when push comes to shove. With all of that said, this was an excellent display of skill & athleticism and even a bit of psychology. Of course, they didn't sell it once it was time to do the spots but neither did 90% of the great NJPW Jr. wrestlers. So with that in mind, like many of the great Jr. matches the work done cannot be denied it's due. Re-Watch: I'd have to say this stands up with the best Jr. matches that NJ produced. Seriously, I can only think of a couple matches that were as satisfying as this one. Granted I don't know as much about stories in NJ as I do with Noah but, from a wrestling standpoint this was pretty awesome and about as good as you can get. So, I go back to a point that I made in a post on the main page that the 2000 Juniors were more influenced by NJPW Jrs. There was a little overkill at times but they brought it back so that the finish was believable and logical. If you could shave 5 minutes of it would have been better but, as it stands it's still fantastic and one of the better matches that the 2000's had. I'd keep the rating and call it the Jr. version of Misawa/Kobashi 03/01/03. Not the BEST but, still a classic. Whew! Some heavy hitters this round! Last but not least, November and December in part 4. Thank you for reading! Hope this helps you get excited to watch wrestling.
  6. Installment numero dos por la lista de la lucha libre NOAH en 2006. No idea if that is correct. It sounds sorta right. Spanglish perhaps. I took a lot of Spanish in middle school, high school, and university. That's all I've got left. Terrible. Absolutely terrible. And I blame myself really. I'm not going to claim that the 'system' failed me or such nonsense. I was an average student in middle school. High school, I actually did really well. Well enough that my college courses in Spanish were after thoughts really. In fact, I got an A on a test that I studied only 30 minutes for! Plus I had a bad case of diarrhea! On to the wrestling!!! KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji (01/22/06): GHC Jr. belt is on the line, KENTA defending that. From the first few minutes, we can see why Misawa & co. pushed Marufuji ahead of KENTA. Naomichi has a brain for crafting a match whereas KENTA chooses his opportunities for spots and kick assaults. This starts with Mr. K doing just that until it's Marufuji's chance to take the match. Here he uses his agility and brains to attack his opponent's leg. Sure, that's run of the mill in 2006 but, his flair for offense make this something special to watch. Eventually, KENTA comes back and blows through his moves, not once showing that 'Fuji did damage. Now, I'd like to think that 'Fuji realizes that his game plan of hobbling the champ has failed. Plan B is to go for the knockout. Maybe Maybe Not? The fact that they never return to the leg gives some credence to that story. From here on out, we get a competitive, explosive Jr. title fight. Each man having the same plan - go for broke. I like that Marufuji still keeps his wits about him and tries pinning combinations in the middle of a fire fight. KENTA on the other hand is fully on the warpath. An honest NOAH Jr. classic and more streamlined than their better known October match. This may be the superior encounter. Yoshinari Ogawa vs Takeshi Rikio (03/05/06): Ogawa gets the jump on Rikio but, the big man can squash the Rat Boy in an instant. So, the vet needs to use all the tricks he can muster to stay alive & maybe pick up the victory. This isn't quite a comedy match but, dang if Ogawa isn't funny! Totally different match for '06 NOAH plus it's under 10 minutes. Go watch this! Akira Taue vs Naomichi Marufuji (03/05/06): Taue is limber as the Tin Man in the early goings. Seriously, Marufuji is doing like 85% of the moving! He eventually loosens up or perhaps I'm just used to it because this gets good. I'm talking about clever cut-offs and shoot holds from outta nowhere by both competitors. The finish works perfectly as well. 15 minute match that may be Taue's final standout singles match. It's a goodie and surprising since Taue doesn't always work well with others. Highly recommended and perhaps a Great match for the books. I think it really does stand the test of time. Mitsuharu Misawa vs Takeshi Morishima (03/05/06): Takeshi brutalizes Misawa. Plain and simple. But, Misawa is always selling that fact. He's not trying to be a tough guy...acting like it doesn't hurt or that he's unbeatable. It's easy to see this as skill especially after watching a load of 2010s stuff. Misawa may have been one of the most dominant aces in puro but, man did it look like he was in trouble often. He's selling the moves but, also the story they're trying to tell. This bout was no different. I'm guessing he told 'Shima to go nuts but, when I come back hard, you've gotta push even harder. So, Morishima is absolutely barbaric with his Vader forearm shots & lariats. So, when Misawa gets his opportunity to turn the tide, he busts out. Picturesque tope elbow where Misawa just dives into the void. But, the big TM unloads with suplexes from H-E-L-L!!! But then, it's on more than Donkey Kong. That is how you strike battle!! Berserker mode Misawa is something the youngster didn't expect. Can the bloodied behemoth defeat the hero & legend? Classic match in my book. Kenta Kobashi vs KENTA (03/05/06): I believe this was the final Old Guard vs New Generation match from this show and at 22 minutes, this was about as perfect as the NOAH Ark style gets. A mash of hard as oak strikes and spine smashing suplexes. I cannot believe that I hadn't seen this earlier. I cannot recommend watching this back to back with the Misawa/Morishima bout. It's a little too much honestly. I think the impact of the fights will be lessened if watching these sequentially. That's my opinion Classic NOAH. Taiji Ishimori vs KENTA (04/23/06): Title Fight! A damn impressive fireworks match. Ishimori is like a ninja or something here. Of course Kenta Kobayashi comes with the kicks! My reservation with calling this a great match is the lack of storytelling. KENTA's Jr. Champ and we wants to keep the title as well as prove that he's a worthy threat to the heavyweights. Ishimori is a recent roster addition who's looking to make a name for himself here. That certainly came through but, it didn't reach it's dramatic potential. The selling of fatigue or injury was minimal here and that hurt the bout. For as gnarly as the moves looked, they could have taken this a lot further had they put over the moves. Nevertheless, this was a really exciting fight but lacked a certain depth akin to a G1 match perhaps. I'd highly recommend it for those looking for a 20 minute move fest. We all need one of those now and again Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenta Kobashi (04/23/06): I certainly appreciated Marufuji doing legwork but, it was as feather soft as his hair. I did not like this segment save a few moves. This got good once Kobashi took over and Maru had to make his big dive comeback. It looks like Kobashi got hit in the eye, perhaps...Whatever! Take it Marufuji! Kobashi is gonna kill you! :@ Good start and strong finish but, the middle is kinda like unflavored Quaker Oats. It's gotten a lot of talk in the past so, I'll still recommend it. KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji & Taiji Ishimori vs Low Ki, SUWA & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (05/19/06): 23 minutes of NOAH Junior mania in Korakuen Hall. They displayed near flawless execution at a machine gun pace. Certainly, extended selling is out of the question but, for sheer athleticism and technical percision, this is is your ticket! This IS what earns 5 stars from Dr. Dave and the Academy nowadays. So, if chronological relativism is an argument as to why matches today are getting 4.5-6 stars then, I present this match. This did not receive those ratings and in fact, I've never heard of this match before surfing the 'Tube. However, this thing does stand the test of 12 years time. I think it's a great match and not a classic BUT if the modern INDY or NJ style is your cup of tea then, check this out. This might be a great introduction into mid 2000's NOAH for you. Great match OK so, that's all for now but, Part 3 will wrap up the 2nd half of 2006. It's been a doozy thus far
  7. G. Badger

    AJPW Classics 171: 1988

    So, this is where my official massive block of AJ Classics starts. Boy, its a good start Great Kabuki & Akio Sato vs Jimmy Snuka & Tiger Mask II (09/15/88): A really enjoyable match with great offense from Jimmy & Tiger. Kabuki was really effective when inside the ropes & Sato made everyone look good. I recommend checking this out especially for Superfly & Misawa's team work. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy vs Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (07/29/88): Tag belts on the line. If Ted DiBiase was big then, Gordy is a giant. The foreign team is massive. The Bad Man from Borger's ribs are taped up and that's a target for the Japanese stars. Thing is...there's a lot of stomping & toe kicks in this early part of the match which is lame. But man, when Gordy finally gets in, hot damn! Things pick up in a big way. The Meat Loaf-esque Gordy is wrecking the shop. Hansen's recovered but is still selling the damage. Watch that finish! Ambitious but, wonderfully vicious. Aside from the slow start, this was a great match! Jumbo Tsuruta vs Abdullah the Butcher (09/09/88): This is an old feud but, this bout was just plain old. Way too one sided for too long BUT the post-match is what you're wanting too watch out for. Snuka & Tiger come out to help Jumbo. Snuka is on Abby's side and just trying to calm the Mad Man from Sudan. Good luck! He gets a spike for his troubles. Then, he and Tiger team up to take the big man down. Eventually, Jimmy goes after Abby and they're fighting in the crowd. Abby actually takes a bump from the stands to the floor. This is wild fun stuff. Honestly, there's no shame in fast-forwarding through the match to get to this. A very nice episode of wrestling!
  8. Toshiaki Kawada vs Jun Akiyama Champ Carnival (03/21/95): This seemed like that match people were talking about when they were discussing Kobashi vs. Jumbo back in '91. Just an excellent match that really made Jun look like the future star and it made Kawada look tough yet beatable. Really cool match with Kawada getting really stiff at times. ****1/4 Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada Champ Carnival: Talk about a grisly wrestling match. Hit the guy in the shoulder- fine, hit the guy in the chest-good, hit the guy in the fucking neck-even better, break his face- alright then! This is not the pretty AJ match that we usually get from these two but by God they bring it in this match. Any & everything counts and no one is going without a fight. It waivers a little bit toward the end but then you realize Shit! this isn't the end. This is the end! It gets nasty where Kawada's Stretch Plum is messing up every part of Misawa that's hurtin' and they keep going! A great carnival match. ****1/2 but in sections it could be more... Toshiaki Kawada vs. Akira Taue Champ Carnival (04/08/95): You know I thought the beginning of this match was really very good but somewhere the intensity from Taue got lost and it was really apparent he was having a hard time keeping up with Kawada. On paper the moves and exchanges sound good but seeing it is another matter. You could predict when he was going to put a boot up to counter a run and you could see the apron chokeslam coming. Now I don't know maybe this is the first time he did it but the announcers didn't seemed too thrilled by it. Like, "Oh there he chokeslamed Kawada off the apron...so anyways..." Kawada was masterful throughout and if you will led Taue through a very good match much like people claim Ric Flair did all of the time. However, I don't think he's the best opponent (Kawada) for Taue since Kawada is all about stiffness & you've got to try and keep up with that if the match is going to be believable and dramatic. Maybe since I knew the finish it ruined things eh...I'm starting to get that impression from stuff I watch. Re-Watch: This was better on the re-watch but it did drag in bits like the stretch plum attempts...I just fast forwarded past them & other time killers. With that done this thing really picked up to 4 1/2 star level stuff. Taue was a bit lethargic in his movement but I don't know if he always is or not. It was still pretty good since Kawada was so stiff and Taue's power moves are some of the most impactful. It's hard to rate this match but it is really good stuff. Toshiaki Kawada vs Takao Omori Champ Carnival (04/12/95): A very fun match that was just perfect for what it supposed to be. Omori is a very credible mid-carder and his elbow drops are brutal. If you're in the mood for a quick enjoyable AJPW match this is a good place to go.
  9. This day in puroresu history...Stan Hansen & Toshiaki Kawada had a really great match here. I didn't think it was a classic but, pretty comparable to Kawada's match versus Jumbo in 1991 in terms of greatness. Here's some of the other matches that happened that you might have missed: Kenta Kobashi vs Dan Spivey: JIP This was an intense yet somewhat unorganized bout. It was plenty exciting but, not to the effect that is was super engaging. Spivey botched a Canadian Backbreaker Slam or something so it came out as a Headspiking Dominator/Complete Dust which was cool after it was clear Kobashi wasn't dead. Too much was edited to really appraise the match honestly but, fun stuff. Terry Gordy vs Jun Akiyama: Too short to rate. What was shown was great. Akiyama worked well with Bamm Bamm, who was just brutal. Masa Fuchi vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi- Jr. Heavyweight title: Kikuchi played the scrappy youngster who wouldn't quit. He came right out of the gate and bloodied Fuchi with a Zero-ken kick to the nose. There was some average work in the middle and then Fuchi dumped Kikuchi on his head about a dozen times in a row that would make Dr. Death proud. As sweet as this was from a brutality standpoint, it diminished the efficacy of the snap backdrop. This was a very good mid-card match, with moments of brutality. Mitsuharu Misawa vs Akira Taue - Triple Crown title: Maybe I 'm guilty of buzzed viewing & this isn't all that good but, from what I saw it was a great match. Having seen the Jumbo saga play out really assists this match. I really appreciated the arm-work section where Misawa tries using his technical skills to control Taue. As we know, Taue isn't that far away from Misawa in terms of dangerous-ness so, it's a sound plan to work him over a bit before jumping into the heavy stuff. Where the Hansen-Kawada match was dragging in the middle, this match made up for it with great selling or what I think was a legitimately injure Misawa. He hurt his back performing a move on Taue or he hit the guardrail (can't remember) and Dynamic T when after it in his usual manner. Really good stuff! Also Taue was back up to performing wrestling duties and was doing all kinds of different dropkicks including a missle drop kick from the top! Eventually Miawa came back with some devilish elbows but Taue never looked out of it until the end. There were a couple execution cock-ups early on but they were worked out and what we have here is another great match from today. And better than the Hansen match to me...
  10. Working on my Tanaka follow up and finishing the wXw 2010 project. Here's a good selection from the Grooveyard in the meantime. In this case they are all very good to classic matches in AJ that took place around this time of year back in that early 1990's. There are probably some spoilers in here so, if you're looking to watch these for the first time or forget the outcome and want to be surprised on a rewatch, be aware Some of these I haven't seeen in nearly a decade so, I think I might have to do a couple rewatches myself. Jumbo, Kabuki & Fuchi vs Misawa, Kobashi & Taue (All Japan 5/26/90) ***3/4 A good 6-man match but the real focus is on Fuchi & Jumbo putting the upstart team in their place. Kabuki to some extent too but Fuchi & Tsuruta are not impressed with the team of Misawa, Kobashi, & Taue...all look like Muppet Babies. It's wild. What's even more wild is that Misawa has the gall to elbow Jumbo off the apron (unprovoked) and that Kobashi isn't killed in the ring. Taue strangely supplies most of the action and is quite adroit in his execution. It really proves what a great tag-teamer & wrestler he is. He really lets Misawa/Kobashi work the story aspects by keeping the match going. This was a smart move on his part as early on it really was losing direction other than Jumbo is pissed. Still, the finishing portions were quite good, enough to build the excitement for the win. Suffice to say big old Jumbo is not pleased with the results. Jumbo Tsuruta vs Kenta Kobashi (All Japan 5/24/91) Watched this one a couple times and I really don't know how it's a MOTY candidate or could be nominated for Top 20 but, it's certainly top 50. The start is clipped to where both guys are sweating pretty good. Kobashi's offense is the highlight and he nearly gets Jumbo but, really he wasn't going to win. Still, you really feel for Kobashi & his facial expressions never seemed to get mentioned but he's one of the best. Better organized than the Kawada carny match but not as brutal & believable that the underdog could pull it off. Although Kobashi's moonsault got pretty close...No real flaws it just wasn't meant to be a MOTY & the divide between the two is far too large to have any believable drama especially since the moonsault didn't do it. I mean Misawa has only put him away once how's Kobashi gonna do it? Still Top 50 stuff that should be seen. **** Misawa & Kawada & Kobashi vs Jumbo & Akira Taue & Fuchi (05/22/92): ****3/4 Although this got a ***** by the Wrestling Observer, I can't agree. It misses the mark for two reasons. The first being the context. I haven't seen any of the great matches in the Jumbo/Misawa feud other than the 6-8-90 singles match (EDIT: No longer true so, clearly a rewatch is needed). Therefore I can only rate it as a stand alone. It still does quite well. The second reason is a little bit of a let down on the performance side of things from Kawada- there are some weak striking moments and a couple airballs which killed the momentum. In all honesty if he lived up to Dangerous K potential then I would have given this *****. Towards the end he comes in to take on Jumbo and you think it's going to be vicious but it doesn't match the intensity of the previous few minutes of Misawa/Jumbo. If he had hit Tsuruta with blistering strikes then this bout would've erupted. Everyone else impressed me though and if Taue wasn't really injured, I'd be surprised. Just too bad Kawada wasn't performing at his full potential. Still a fast paced and exciting match and Jumbo's team act as vicious heels here which was unique. A must see match even if it's not Kawada's finest hour. It and all of these great 6-man matches of the early 90s are benchmarks in wrestling history. Rewatch: Having seen the majority of The Feud, I can whole-heartedly agree with my previous statements. Kawada's lack of explosiveness is not a detriment as previous stated though. He's just not there in his development. Otherwise a great 6 man tag match! Doug Furnas & Danny Kroffat vs Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (05/25/92): ****3/4+ The only reason this match is not 5 stars is that it lacks a larger story or psychology (that I am aware of). Everything else is perfect-pacing, intensity, stiffness, and execution. What's even more impressive than these aspects alone, is the fact that it all took place in less than 20 minutes! RE-Watch: AJPW's answer to Steiners vs. Hase/Sasaki '91 MOTY...Just full on action the whole time with state of the art moves. Just a magical era in Japanese wrestling. Additional Note: I'd put this up with the great 6/5/89 tag match. Stan Hansen vs Mitsuharu Misawa- Triple Crown (AJ 5/21/93) Whoa! Talk about a great match. This is the match Kawada should have had with Hansen (02/28/93). Real smart & meaningful armwork on Misawa who sells appropriately. This maybe the match that killed the Facelock as a finisher but Hansen takes it better than anyone & works his way out of it with conviction. This is the Bad Man from Borger that I know & love. You've also got the feeling that if he would have busted the Lariat-o!!! then Misawa would have lost but, he never got the chance. So, with the facelock killed we get the birth of the Rolling Elbow! And it's a dooozy! He damn near knocked Stan out. Great pacing, selling, seemless transitions with a great finish. ****3/4 Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Akira Taue AJ 5/21/94 ****: Frankly I didn't get the hoopla over this match. It seemed like an unfocused attempt at a superlong spot match. I really don't get it! AJW was doing these type of matches to perfection in '92 & '93...so if the excitement is over this being the first match like this in AJ then, big shit. They didn't do it that well. I'm pretty sure the 12/93 match was more solid than this. Kawada was the only one that was of really any note. They went to the tired old hurt Kobashi's leg bit & it didn't really fly because of the amount of time spent it went nowhere with the story...I mean he couldn't cover after a moonsault but then later he could (after missing attempt #2). This made no sense to me!! That & some of the sequences looked way too obvious as planned sequences. Not a bad match overall really for 40 min. but it could have been a whole lot better. The worst moment I can remember though was when 3 or 4 guys were in the ring Misawa was just standing there waiting...(EDIT: This is one that I've been meaning to rewatch for like 8 years and never have).
  11. More 1987 AJPW goodness! AJ Classics Selection #153 Takashi Ishikawa & Mighty Inoue vs Isamu Teranishi & Masanobu Kurisu (07/30/87): Well, this was a barrel full of monkeys! I loved it. All kinds of different offense or should I say 'awe'fense. Cheesy like Kraft. This took a little bit to get going in terms of direction and pace but, turned into a smile worthy Asia Tag match. Jumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Mask vs Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase (07/11/87): PWF tag belts on the line. This was pretty good and had a nice finish. I was groggy when watching this so, probably worth a rewatch. DiBiase was very good as was Tiger. Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Shinichi Nakano (07/17/87): A great energetic match! Hansen and DiBiase gave great performances. Yatsu and Nakano were vicious in attacking both villiains' knees. If you want working-a-limb psychology that's exciting, watch this! Remarkable selling by Ted & a great emotional performance by Stan. Tough as dirt Yatsu and gutsy Nakano taking it to the larger than life tag champs. Great match! Again, watch this! AJ Classics Selection #154 Yoshiaki Yatsu & Haru Sonada vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (10/31/87): Haru looks like he's gonna suck but, does not! Revolution kill him anyways. Yatsu vs Tenryu is always good. This IS the hard hitting stuff you want! Haru is surprising the heck out of me. This was very good stuff. Recommended match Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (07/23/87): PWF title is on the line. Very evenly fought match between the top 2 teams in AJPW. This looked like a really competition for the title and gave them real importance. Tenryu was really brutal with his head kicks. I know that may seem wrong but, hey it's true! Classic Hansen freakout after the bell too. Highly recommend this whole thing! Giant Baba & Tiger Mask vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (07/30/87): I've come to love Tenryu vs Baba because Genny chops Baba as hard as anyone & vice versa. No one works better with old Baba than Tenryu. TM Misawa's kicks were fantastic looking. I wish he would have kept the kicks along with his elbow based on his use here. Baba took a surprising amount of punishment to the point where I believe he was legitimately hurt. I gotta recommend watching this match. It's like watching Misawa in a WAR match. Tenryu & Hara are real bruisers and generally beat the piss from the bodies of their foes- win, lose, or draw. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED couple of episodes
  12. In true Mixed up Monday fashion, I'm going to do a whole show review which is all mixed up since, I usually just toss a couple random fun match reviews up. I bought the official NOAH DVD from Highspots. Its got English commentary. Its not very good commentary but, its not awful either. Its laughable that at every (yes, every kickout), the lead commentator asks, "Did he kickout!?" Does he mean that he literally cannot see the kickout or is that a dramatic phrase? I wonder even as I write this. It doesn't step on the matches and well, damn that's good enough. On to the show! A. Ito & I. Ota vs Ricky Marvin & Eddie Edwards: This is how you do a tag match- bring some hate, desire to win, desire to inflict pain or embarassment...something right? You've got to have some energy! 8 minutes of great shit beats 21 minutes of blech. Marvin & Edwards were flipping awesome here. Ito & Otis looked good too but, mainly vehicles to put Rick & Ed over. Fun stuff so, I'd recommend going outta your way to watch this as it's under 10 minutes. Akira Taue & Mohammed Yone vs Takuma Sano & Yoshi Takayama: Stiff as a drink. Yone channels his BattlArts days. Taue's still got it in '08. Fun match. Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa, Takashi Sugiura vs Jun Akiyama, Takeshi Rikioh, Atsuhi Aoki: Good mix of styles here. They keep is interesting without going move crazy. Haven't seen Misawa (RIP) in awhile (at the time of this viewing). Ogawa is awesome as Rat Boy here. All action inside and out of the ring, double teams, triple teams- Fast and simple 6 man where everyone looks great. Highly recommended. Naomichi Marufuji & Kento Miyahara vs Bryan Danielson & Davey Richards: NOAH is where Bryan & Davey belong...damn. Marufuji is in a goofy mood tonight but, it's all good, the gaijin team are being especially brutal. Oh shoot! That's Akira Hokuto, yay! Highly recommended? Recommended? Just a fun match? Kinda an extedned squash but, it's a blast to see Danielson & Davey in NOAH. Under 10 minutes. The Briscoe Brothers vs Katsu Nakajima & Kota Ibushi: Prematch worry: Let's see if Ibushi gets wacky. Match starts and they are pretty evenly matched. The Briscoes look fantastic with their rough house brawling. They do well in taking the Japanese team's offense...I say that considering the range in offense of their opponents. Really, both teams are leaving it all in the ring - I'm really impressed! This is 100% bananas. 16 minutes of insanity. If you're gonna do a Jr. sprint match, this is it! Classic, classic match in this style. As the kids say, OMFG! Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs KENTA & Taiji Ishimori: I don't know how anyone can follow that. It is a bit slower but, still exciting. I appreciate Kanemaru & Kotaro acting as straight heels with their second causing mayhem and cheating like a M.F. 20 minutes and it's a great match. So, I failed to mention that there's a Jr. Tag tournament and this was the last match but, both teams are tied OR they are #1 & #2 and they need to have the final TONIGHT! Either way, we get a second match. I feel this 2nd bout diminished the awesomeness of the first but, still paid off and was pretty good as a whole. If you wanna take a break between matches, that might be a good idea. In total it was 31 minutes. I tend to side toward brevity nowadays but, I enjoyed the heck out of this nonetheless. I felt KENTA was subdued here so, that could be taken as a plus or minus depending on your preference. Highly recommended stuff but, again the first was my favorite. Takeshi Morishima vs Kensuke Sasaki GHC Title Match: Stiff clubbering wrestling. Oh so many club shots and clotheslines! I wouldn't say this is a classic title match but, on a super Jr. heavy show, this was a nice change of pace & an awesome way to close out the show. You got tons of speed, fancy manuevers, and nearfalls and now...Here's the tried and true NOAH beatdown title match. Two battleships facing off for the belt. It's that intense Choshu main event style so, if done right it's an easy 4 star match for those keeping score. Great match. The 09/06/08 NOAH Shiny Navigation was an outstanding show that offered alot of fantastic matchups that really paid off. If a full show DVD is available still and you're into that kinda thing, I say go buy it. This is especially true if you were digging ROH back in the day. Lots of cross pollination at the time between the two companies and very much the style they were going for at the time. Highest Recommendation on this show.
  13. I've recently acquired a big chunk of the AJPW Classics broadcast in 1999 & 2000. Generally speaking, I've got a good portion of 1988-early 1990 covered. There are a couple notable matches missing but, I'm more interested in finding hidden gems. I'm looking forward to seeing matches people talked about in the distant past and have since been forgotten or brushed aside for the newer slicker wrestling of today. I'm excited to be able to watch wrestling in a somewhat episodic fashion again too. Starting out I have a couple episodes from 1987 that I was interested in. AJPW Classic selection #149: Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Shinichi Nakano (04/23/87): This was a very good all action bout. There wasn't a strong story or a tremendous amount of drama. That's OK since it was more centered on slapping and chopping the other team. Nakano put forth a lot of effort. He was out ranked but, never appeared out of his depth because he was busting his ass. Surprisingly, Yatsu looked strongest in terms of aggression and dictating the pace. He looked to have Jumbo's number. Watch for the powerbomb too. Fun match. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs Yoshiaki Yatsu & Shinichi Nakano (06/09/87): Hara is a beast! but colored me surprised Hara is the one in peril not Nakano. Again, Yatsu really shines in this match. I'd again say he's the best wrestler in there. This was really enjoyable but, over too quick. There was never a dull moment though and features two really great spots. Recommended match The Road Warriors vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Hiroshi Wajima (06/09/87): This was pretty good when Hawk and Jumbo were in the ring. Wajima if you've never seen him is goofy. That's the case here per usual. Animal does his press slams and such but, is really too massive to be good. The chaotic ending is fun but, comes outta nowhere. It's an OK match. Personally, I hate the Roid Warriors in AJ. Hiroshi Wajima vs. Animal Warrior (06/11/87): Well, they read my mind and gave me the worst match up of the above match...and perhaps the worst pairing for AJPW '87. I could not see this lasting more than 5 minutes since Wajima is embarrassing and Animal has little ability or personality. I had my fiance time it. Fortunately, it's around 3 minutes. Thank you! AJPW Classic selection #150: Giant Baba & John Tenta vs Rusher Kimura & Goro Tsurumi (05/01/87): Goro's afro and mustache is enviable. What an awesome look! Speaking of looks, Tenta is looking really fit & trim here in '87. As always, I'm giving Baba a pass for experience and the effort he puts forth despite his limited capabilities. This is better than the Road Warriors matches by the way. Rusher's overhand chopping Tenta in the throat. The big man looks awesome here...like a champ really. Referee Wada takes the best fucking ref bumps too. This was a fun, fun match. I wish I understood Japanese for Rusher's jokes at the end. Even Baba's laughing! Jumbo Tsuruta & John Tenta vs The Road Warriors (06/08/87): Ok, this has potential. Switch Wajima for Tenta and we've got something good. And to little surprise Tenta delivered. His stuff vs Hawk was awesome. Oh shit! It's over? That was quick...fun though. Honestly, this is probably the best use for the Warriors in AJ. Giant Baba vs Tiger Jeet Singh (06/11/87): This is what I want to follow up that short tag match. Great brawling start. Tiger's using a bucket like it's the WWF Raw game from the 90's. Yes! But from there it's more mat wrestling and less blood (if any) than I expected. Started fun but, was just OK. Jumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Mask vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (06/11/87): This was really a lot of fun if a little disorganized. Perhaps chaotic is a more complementary way to phrase that but, that's what held it back from being a great match. Aw screw it, this was a blast especially with Tiger Mask Misawa flying around. He was revolutionary for '87 AJPW and appeared to have Tenryu beat. This match really helped elevate him. Jumbo was a bit off tonight but, wisdom says that was purposeful. It helped Tiger's star shine brighter. Highly recommended match. I think I may re-watch this. Another couple shows from '87 for next week. DiBiase and Hansen are featured if I recall. Stoked for those as I dig DiBiase in AJ.
  14. I'm a big giant fan of tag team wrestling. I'd say that I prefer tag and 6-man matches over singles competition. All Japan and NOAH are more known for their epic title matches but, have always had great team wrestling. I don't think that's a surprising statement however, there are others worth enjoying besides the classics. Here are some that I've enjoyed: Steve Williams & Terry Gordy vs Stan Hansen & Joel Deaton (06/03/93 AJPW): Although it was only 6 minutes & 47 seconds this match was all action. It was rather one sided though, as Gordy ambushed Hansen and the Miracle Violence Connection double teamed the whole time like it was a Tornado Tag match (maybe it was). Deaton tried his best to save Hansen but he was no match for Gordy & Dr. Death. There was no pacing or a match just a display of violence and Hansen's toughness. Kenta Kobashi, Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama & Satoru Asako (08/22/97 AJPW): This started out pretty routine although Johnny Smith was the clear bright point. He was very adamant about making the arm work something special. Hes British so, that probably explains a lot ??? It was different, in a good way, and helped slow down Akiyama, who was the fireplug of his team. Jun wanted to take it to Ace and Kobashi but, Smith wasnt going to be ignored. He darn near ripped the Blue boys arm out of the socket. Thats alright because he was pumped and gave the match a little depth. Stop the burgeoning contender! Now, thats not to say the other guys were slouches but, no one else brought the intensity like he did. That is to be expected in a match like this. Akiyama, Smith, Asako are the ones with something to prove. The story was about ranking and status but, ultimately the athletic competition. This set the outcome in question and was exciting as all hell. The execution, pacing and timing was flawless from all. This the type of match Id love to see at night right before going to bed when I was in high school. I'd be so hyped that couldn't sleep. I'd go through the match in my head and marvelling in how much fun it was and how awesome wrestling can be. I highly recommend finding this match to watch. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs Gedo & Jado (12/07/02 NOAH): Oh those bastards. Team NO RESPECT!!! Jado & Gedo are some nasty looking dudes. Go back and watch the match they had as Coolie and Bulldog from the 8/19/90 AJW show and scratch your brain. Ok so what happened!? FMW, WAR and all those other mid-90s Indy promotions turned these guys evil! Haha I have not a clue what Im talking about! So the match is kinda like NOAH style American wrestling. It was a ton of fun with Gedo and Jado heeling it up in all those fun US ways. This is stuff that we lost in the 90s as the brawler was phased out of mainstream puroresu because that stuff was left to "garbage" wrestling. Then the hardcore companies gave up quality brawling en lieu of mindless punching in between insane spots. So, Jado and Gedo are a call back to that good stuff from the 70s-80s. And god knows Kikuchi is all for that. Still this is 2002 wrestling so, theres some nice moves from both teams as well. Its a different match especially from this time in wrestling and its damn good! Takayama & Sano vs Misawa & Rikio (11/01/03 NOAH): People have given Rikio a bad reputation. He's not an all time legend but, he's a big dude that bowls people over and throws a mean clothesline. I cannot hate a guy that stays true to who he is. When tagging, especially with a ring deity like Mr. Green Jeans, he can be downright great! Such is the case with this bout. Stiff elbows, kicks, and knees, oh my! UWFi team vs NOAH could have been an amazing feud if only the stars aligned. Takayama and Sano are such a tough meat and potatoes type team. I always try to watch their matches when available. So, I recommend checking this one out. Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Takeshi Morishima, KENTA & Mohammed Yone (02/17/06 NOAH) Oh sweet Jeebus this match was all kinds of fun. In the beginning, Yone seemed to collapse the excitement when he was in ring...the same with Honda & Kanemaru too for that matter. So, when things start to percolate, it just sneaks up on ya and turns into K-Hall pandemonium. It was as if the Funks with Jumbo were fighting Abby, the Sheik and Brody (fantasy dream match anyone?). I never thought that theyd get back in the ring! The highlight and focus was KENTA vs Kobashi, they brought Budokan level stiffness for sure. Oh my goodness this was brutal. Eventually, Honda and Kanemaru were getting hot and Morishima was pure ruler here too. I mean, Morishima vs Kobashi seemed just as great. If they could have generated that excitement in the slow parts in the beginning, this would have been one of those secret Korakuen klassics. Nevertheless, it is a great match and one where Kobashi is clearly the New Mr. Puro!...as of 2006, at least
  15. The more I watch NOAH Misawa, the more I'm fascinated and it reminds me how great this man was both as a worker and actually as a booker too. Here he is, leading his new company toward new coasts in dream matches that could never happen because of Baba isolationist mentality, and most of all preparing the field for his men to get over on the big stage. So he gets Chono, who is still in heel mode here (as opposed to the following year when he will already have turned into more of a legend figure) and also much more active than in the Kobashi match in 2003. Yet, we're leading toward that match already, as Misawa, who barely loses anyway, won't be able to take Chono down and go to a 30 mn draw. Now that may seem a crazy thought, especially by 2002 in a Dome (ah, the days where NJ would still run several Dome shows a year), but it actually works really well because Misawa knows what the fuck he's doing, and Chono is game enough. Sure, it's a slower paced match. Sure, there's a lot of repetition of spots, but it's because the match works that way : who is gonna put the other one down with his favourite weapon : the elbow / the kenta kicks ? They mix up other spots too : Chono going for a few submissions, and Misawa doing a really good job putting the STF (whom everybody knows won't get him, really); Misawa actually does an emerald frosion on the ramp (which allows Chono to not have to kick out out it right way, as Misawa is also selling a piledriver too by that point, so it takes quite some time before they get back in the ring). A super neat sequences comes after Chono uses the Russian Legswip, which was a Baba spot, so Misawa retaliates with the same spot followed by a neckbreaker drop (again, old Baba spot). Yeah, some fine reference work there, again as Misawa uses the manjigatame on Chono (he gets countered of course, since he's not as good as Chono at it, it's a Inoki hold after all). Plenty of neat little stuff like this, until the point where it comes down to Chono not being strong enough to sustain Misawa's elbows (who is ?), yet manage to work enough counters and muster enough will to work up a few kenta kicks of his own. At this point, it's a matter of him not sinking more than beating Misawa (come on now, Chono ain't gonna beat Misawa)? leading to an unexpected draw. Another thing : Misawa didn't drop Chono on his head once inside the ring. That will be Kobashi's not-so -secret-weapon. So yeah, this was not an epic spectacle nor a magnificient action packed match, but it was just right, it told a fine story, Misawa did an excellent job making the most out of Chono's sometimes really light offense, it felt like two big stars finally colliding, there was the old AJ vs NJ feel to it. Really good, smart, compelling stuff. And it let the door open for Kobashi, the real Ace of NOAH (still to come) to beat Masa Chono. Misawa was such a great, great pro-wrestler, coupled with a selfless booker.