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Found 89 results

  1. Our only BattlARTS main event of the year, but it's a good one. These two always have good matches, and this time they went for a full blown 19 minute main event. What was cool about this was that normally you had Usuda as the aggressive striker with Ishikawa working counters. Here Usuda was still aggressive but Ishikawa gave him back good, so Usuda was also using his defensive tools more, which is something he does very well, and you had a match basically built around who could turn the others aggression against himself first. Match has lots of good matwork and also some insanely stiff headbutts and kidney shots. I especially like anytime Usuda would get aggressive on the mat, normally you would go to the mat to seek safety from a striker, you aren't safe from Usuda though. It really is a crying shame Usuda was so underutilized on the indie scene, atleast Ishikawa got himself a spot on Michinoku Pro undercards that year. Usuda takes as good as he gives, taking some crazy crazy suplex bumps. There are some excellent submission teases and the finish was pretty epic with multiple face shattering kicks and Ishikawa just rattling Usuda with a big punch. The finish plays up the story of the match as it was all about who would get the deciding counter.
  2. I wish MUGA had been a full time promotion at this time. This was mostly on the mat, which is where everyone here looks good. This was certainly a good use of Hase whose amateur style stuff still looks very powerful. He and Nishimura with his awesome briding where the standouts here early on. Mutoh just did his usual spiel for the finish, altough Fujinami hitting a flying knee on him was really fun and Nishimuras selling made it look better than usual.
  3. Murakami and his BattlARTS pal shake things up in New Japan. Tanahashi & Kenzo actually step up here, working shootstyle and look good. Tanahashi's matwork is especially way better than pretty much anything he did from 2006 onward. Kenzo throwing big crowbar suplexes is certainly way better than whatever he did later also. This was basically an Ishikawa section followed by a Murakami section with both guys bringing their signature stuff. Ishikawa doing cool matwork and Murakami punching dudes in the face. Good shit but you come out of this match wanting to see a singles match.
  4. Psycho bomb throwing war which has to go down as the carryjob of the year. Vampiro was basically a stiff trying to be a video game wrestler here. However, his recklessness may have added to the match as he seemed to be self destructive hitting moves (e.g. knocking himself loopy with his own suplex, injuring his leg hitting a spin kick etc). It really adds to the suspense when you think this washed up drug fiend is going to blow his knees out any moment. Whenever Vampiro was in danger of getting lost, Bucanero engaged in some vicious brawling. I especially loved the segment on the ramp that started with Bucanero just clocking Vampiro in the back of the neck. He also had some really great brief work on the shoulder. The whole match made sense and was never boring as they just kept doing bumps and dives. The one weak point was Vampiros superman comeback which knocked the match down about 15 places in the MOTY list.
  5. Brutal match in which Kawada basically tries to send Hase to the retirement home of comedy undercard tags for good. Aside from the opening matwork I thought Hase didn't really hold up his end, he looked like he was getting token bits of offense before Kawada went back to kicking the shit out of him. Pretty inspired Kawada performance although some of those sorry back and forth strike exchagnes were starting to creep in. Still, plenty of great spots mostly involving Kawada kicking Hase really hard in interesting ways.
  6. I've seen a lot of Inokiism stuff, some of it it good, some of it is weird, inexplicable and beyond ratings, I fully expected this to be chaotic and unconventional but the match ended up being absolutely amazing as well. The first thing that came to mind with the length is the Ikeda-Ono match, but this one is just better and I don't think it's close even. Saying this would be hailed as a MOTYC by the crew that pimps Futen and Battlarts if it had happened that would almost be instinctive but also undermine everything this match was. It was more than that. It was a pastiche of the Futen violence, the morality, stable wars and art of the no finish (best showcased in the 80s wrestling everyone loves so much) and real life politics blurring the line between reality and pre-determination. If you haven't seen it I urge you to watch the match with an open mind. If you have, I'd urge you to rewatch it since 2002 was a long time ago, you're distanced from the impact of the match on the business side of things now, and also your taste has probably changed, I don't think I've seen a single person talk about this *match* since I started discussing prowres online, so it's not exactly like it's been mandatory watching for now. The rest of the review includes spoilers and I think it's better to watch it without reading them, but suit yourself. When Kensuke knocked Ogawa in the beginning of the match it was not only a wonderful moment of violence, but also incredibly symbolic. We had seen Ogawa in positions of peril-but it was the first time someone had done something so shocking and so direct as to just smack him and start mounting on him. It was a true moment of peril-one after which it only made sense his stablemates would run into the ring. That and it was before the bell making it illegal. The next couple of minutes are as tense as any match I've ever seen, and really sophisitcated and simulatenously barbaric. The violence of a takedown, a throw, a punch and a kick are all well known, but displaying that well in a worked environment can be tricky and they absolutely nailed it. I remember hearing Jim Cornette saying something about how a criteria for a perfect match included everyone believing it was real-which sounded silly coming from him-but I don't think there's a match that's as good at that as this one that didn't turn into a real fight. And when Ogawa started shoot kicking Kensuke you even start questioning that-the images of the 1999 incident are just too visceral to ever be forgotten. But here Kensuke recovers, and goes after Ogawa, and hits him and throws him and makes him retreat, which is analogous to a count out victory over Andre, even if the scoreboard may have had it as a no contest. ****1/2
  7. Low Ki defends the ROH Title Man, Low Ki was just killing everyone in 2002. He was just blasting Xavier left and right here. Xavier is someone who is pretty much forgotten. I am not sure if it's unfair or not, as he looked like a good solid pro wrestler, with a tendency to do cool moves and not much of a clue on match structure. Structurally this wasn't great and they started running out of interesting ideas about 15 minutes into it, but Ki walloping Xavier over and over kept this entertaining. Should add Kis subtle leg selling was quiet great. Run in was pretty bad and took way too long.
  8. Great Mariko Yoshida performance wasted on the slug that is Lioness Asuka. Honestly, at this point Asuka is sub-Takada level when it comes to dull japanese main eventers for me. Even her kicks blew in this. Yoshida was doing her submission master with dangerous punches thing on point and did a great job zoning in on Asukas leg. Of course, none of that submission master stuff was over with the crowd as the company had been pushing Yoshida into irrelevance for 2 years and Asuka was as unaffected as can be by all the leg work, punches and submissions and instead opted to shoe her table spots bullshit into the match. It's only fitting that the match basically turned into contest of who could no sell more and Lioness easily gobbled up the win after absorbing all of Yoshidas punches and finishers like nobodies business.
  9. A very subdued NOAH main event, which makes this cool immediately in my book. I prefer these guys working smart exchanges over some head droppy macho ass bullshit. Ogawa as usual gets some unusual and cool exchanges out of Misawa. I also really like that Misawa was tagging with IZU~ here. He and Sano just potatoed each other a lot and it was really fun. Izu seemed to be riding high in the end, uncorking his awesome diving headbutt and fending off Sanos comeback attempts only to fall to a basic armbar.
  10. Really well laid out sprint 6 man tag, with everyone bringing something neat to the table. We get Scorpio looking ultra sharp working basic opening exchanges with Hashi, Vader having a good day and really beating the shit out of Saito with a flurry of nasty strikes, Hashi being as effective as ever in his underdog role and Akiyama immediately going for the kill handing out exploders. It clocks in at just under 10 minutes where Vader chokeslams Akiyama through a table and then starts attacking people with a whip(?). Full NOAH point.
  11. This match was lovely to see as the crowd is CRAZY CRAZY HOT for Shiga & Rikio and they beat the snot out of each other. We also get Kawabata trying to stand up to Kobashi. I imagine if 90s crowbar Kawabata had shown up this match would've been really great, unfortunately Kawabata was merely solid here. Kobashi when not working a 30 minute long epic is really fun though and we get some quality exchanges between him and Rikio. Not mindblowing greatness here by any stretch of imagination, but you'll feel good having watched this.
  12. There was one really great FUTEN-esque exchange between Ikeda and KENTA in this. I can see KENTA having a pretty great career in BattlARTS/FUTEN or WAR just acting like a kickboxer. Unfortunately, Sugiura & KENTA immediately cooled that excitement down by working a rather lame control segment. Taue does almost nothing in this, but the 2 times or so he is in he really kicks people in the face or ragdolls KENTA around, so it's fair to say that he rules. It picks up again for the finish and Ikeda even gets to pick up the win with the Kinniku Buster in a nice moment.
  13. This is second match on the card. Kikuchi is in his karate pants for teaming up with Aoyagi. Nobody would look at this match on paper and expect a great match, but what we get is really fun with each guy bringing their trademarks. The ending run is ridiculously fun as Aoyagi goes crazy spin kicking everyone and the crowd being really excited for him potentially winning this meaningless undercard match. Honda didn't do much except really squeezing people with headlocks, teasing the Dead End and having some cool selling after eating some nasty leg kicks from Aoyagi & Kikuchi. Sometimes, less is more.
  14. I find that early NOAH ages extremely well. For some reason, even undercarders understood how to mix up match formulas to keep things interesting. Why even a guy like Donovan Morgan can have interesting matches here but nowhere else I don't know, maybe there was some Pat Patterson genius laying out these matches for NOAH. This was a fun junior opener, with Morgan & Modest immediately isolating young Kotaro and working cutoffs to get the crowd amped for Kanemaru, which lead to Kanemarus sections actually being fun. Kotaro is still a rookie, but he gets to look good thanks to the stooging of the gaijins. The finish was memorable to with Modest hitting his finisher on Kanemaru on the floor and then him & Morgan going to town on him with chairs before Kikuchi runs in making the safe like the worlds most pissed off Steve Austin.
  15. Plenty brutal match that was characterized by Hashimoto looking great and and Ogasawara having an absolute meltdown, resulting in some gritty highly uncooperative exchanges. Ogasawara seemed too concerned with protecting himself so Takaiwa at one point just starts decking him for real. To make up for the chaos surrounding the karateka, there were some damn good exchanges between Takaiwa and Hashimoto. Hashimoto looked peak level sharp, including busting out some awesome submission counters dropping his full weight on Takaiwas shoulder, and Takaiwa looked great as a gutsy underdog trying to cut through him with lariats. There were some choice Fujiwara/Hash exchanges too altough Fujiwara went to his comedy later.
  16. This is one of those feel good matches you can just back and enjoy every second of it. Basically Hashimoto & Ogawa waltz in and just destroy everything in their path. STOs, nasty kicks and chops and various cool combination moves abound. Norton & Tenzan don‘t stand much of a chance but they try. You get a great little Norton performance as he sells all the nasty chops and kicks he takes to his shoulder in a big way. There is an art to selling in such a way that everyone can emphatize with you even when you‘re a giant muscled up dude like Norton and he had it down. Tenzan also doesn‘t suck!
  17. Entertaining 5 vs. 5 Elimination Match. Not Peak WAR vs. Other Promotion material, though there are some good smacks and thuds here. Problem with the match is the booking, as they get rid of the spry guys first and soon you are stuck with an old, broken down Steve Williams, Arashi and Mutoh here. Williams can still throw a nice punch and not do much else at this point. Match has it's moments especially thanks to Orihara and Tenryu, while Shinzaki was working hard to get something cool out of Williams. Overall this match is symptomatic of the depleted roster AJPW was dealing with at this stage however.
  18. Welcome to Shinya Hashimoto's ZERO1, where 2 olympic medalists, a japanese megastar and a US nobody with a supersoldier gimmick get together to work Memphis meets Shootstyle with a sports entertainment twist. Ghaffari was pretty grotesque but was a really good monster/immovable object here, no lying. The fact his nasty gut squish attack lead to a credible nearfall aswell as him acting invincible like an olympic level greco roman wrestler should added a ton to the match. Hashimoto struggling to do anything and Ogawa finally taking him off his feet all felt like like big moments. Howard looked really good too at this point as he hit all his stuff perfectly, including braining Hashimoto with a world class superkick. Unfortunately the 2nd half kind of breaks down with lots of ref bullshit happening, altough there is still fun to be had with guys getting bowled around and Ghaffari almost killing Ogawa with one of the most devastating splashes ever caught on film. Should add Ogawa looked great here too heating up the fans and selling very well. Borderline listworthy, must watch if you want to check out something unique.
  19. Brutally stiff fight that blows away pretty much all current (2019) pro wrestling. The opening segment alone where they unload in the corner was just disgusting. The submissions here won't make you forget U-Style, but they did everything with a certain intensity, and you'll be too busy wincing at these two lunatics trying to hit eachother as hard as humanly possible to notice. They did a good job telling the story of the match, which was that Hoshikawa was slowly falling apart as he kept getting destroyed by his super vicious, more precise opponent. I liked how both guys used limb selling to put over the punishment, it makes sense that wyou would pick up injuries after getting kicked a dozen times, even without your opponent specifically targetting a bodypart. Sakata was just a bastard here, Hoshikawa is someone you buy as being really tough, but anytime Hoshikawa started to build momentum Sakata would punch him in the liver or knee him in the face. All the big strikes, including Hoshikawas massive enzuigiris were really well timed. I'm not gonna pretend the match was flawless or some kind of classic as Hoshikawa does a pretty lame no sell and at times the match is just going a long but for this kind of brutal fight it was fairly great. It starts out pretty nasty and you wonder how can they keep this going and have some kind of arc building up, but they pull it off and the last strike that left the loser drooling blood from his mouth really feels like an exclamation point.
  20. Really really stiff match. This was a small show, but they were certainly loosening eachothers teeth here with brutal knees and elbows. Ran Yu-Yu was hitting some especially stiff enzuigiris, that is normally not a move that will be done in a stiff manner, but she was punting Genki like a football with them. Outside of the stiffness this match didn't do a ton for me as it had poor structure. Also, like their 2000 match, they both went back to offense whenever they pleased. Ran Yu-Yu is a classy wrestler with a cool moveset, aside from the gross elbows and knees I really liked her leg trips. Genki, I dunno. Her power offense doesn't even look that impressive. I'd say this should go in your „watch“-pile as it may do more for others than it did for me (like the 2000 match) and any Ran Yu-Yu singles is worth watching, nitpicking be damned.
  21. This was a „bigger“ match than Amano/Yoneyama, meaning that it had more nearfalls and bigger moves, but it wasn't as smart. Also, Haruyama looked nowhere close to as good as Yoneyama did at this stage. Bolshoi largely just went to her spots. Spots where good, but the stuff around was largely just happening and didn't draw me in. The one cool moment of the match was Haruyama countering a Fujiwara armbar into a rolling cradle. I am a sucker for Bolshois submissions so the finishing run was somewhat worthwhile... still, a Bolshoi singles match could be so much more.
  22. Boy, I am glad Amano was given something to do in 2002 JWP, because her working these small show matches is way better to me than GAEA. Here she does a bonafide job working as veteran against pre-curls Kaori Yoneyama. Pretty interesting as it is a good Amano match without flash submissions. They work the mat to begin, and Yoneyama would only be able to hang by using biting etc. to set up her holds. Yoneyama is a perfectly good spunky young wrestler here, with the big dropkicks and the occasional cool lucha move. Amano added some nice veteran touches: blocking Yoneyamas strikes, acting savvy to Yoneyamas flying offense, using an opening to lock in a shoulder separating submission hold etc. Even the comedy spot they did added to the match. Really well executed little match.
  23. Round Girl is doing a gimmick where she uses her crotch, cleavage and butt the same way Danshoku Dino uses his junk, inbetween posing raunchily. There you go, I just made this match must watch for all you internet wrestling perverts out there. Aside from all the raunchiness this was actually a decent Monterrey/lucharesu style encounter. I have no idea what Sarubobo Mask is supposed to be (google tells me a sarubobo is some kind of monkey baby puppet... no idea why all the high pitched yelling then and where all the other mannerisms of the wrestler are supposed to come from) but I liked the rope hanging headscissor etc. aswell as Round Girls modified indian deathlock.
  24. Sayama and his fat man flips are great, no questions about it. Solar is really fired up and carried this, even though there wasn't as much matwork here as there needed to be. This would've been really good if Diablo & Azteca weren't so mediocre. Seriously these two have been working their own vanity promotion for years and can't have an exciting exchange to save their lives.
  25. Fun indy opening match. Soldier with his trainwreck style has endeared himself to me through his 90s work. He was less trainwrecky here but he was still doing stuff a little uncooperatively, a little rough around the edges, which makes him more interesting than your typical polished guy running through his stuff. For example, check out the way he reversed a resthold into a nasty stretch. Taira looked decent and the match had some submissions and reversals slicker than your average junior indy match. Full japan indy point
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