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  1. This was quite the way to end the Stardom/Sendai Girls feud, or at least for now. Story of the match has Io constantly getting drilled by Meiko but still managing to get in some comeback and slowly chip away at Satomura. The strikes here are just nasty, maybe it was the way that the sound was setup but you could hear pretty much every shot the whole match. Wasn't crazy about some of Io's selling on her comebacks, she hit some big stuff a little too easily. Still an awesome way to end the year for Shirai, who is my personal woman wrestler of the year. ****
  2. They work a 30 minute draw that never drags. While Satomura is terrific, it's Hojo's performance that really makes the match. Early on in the match, Hojo quickly establishes that she not afraid of going toe-to-toe with Meiko. She hits Satomura with a nasty backfist out of the opening collar & elbow, and breaks up a Boston Crab attempt with an even nastier slap. Of course, this doesn't always work out well for Hojo as she running into some nice submission counters and eating some really brutal looking shots. Around the halfway point though, you see Satomura start to get more aggressive. After Hojo rolls out of the ring, Meiko follows her out, drags her to the entrance, and then lands a DVD with a sickening thud. She follows that up great looking backdrop suplex and the best looking sleeper you'll see. Hojo sells all of this beautifully but still manages to keep fighting back. She never just pops up and goes on offense, she seems to slip through a crack in Satomura's attack and get back in control through her own sheer will. Just an amazing must see match. ****1/2
  3. This match gets a lot of mileage out of the face/heel dynamic. Pretty much everything that goes on in this match feeds off of it and the characters that these two have created. Sasha playing the arrogant heel champ who takes pleasure in picking apart and embarrassing her opponent, while Bayley is someone who may have finally figured out who she is and the confidence that comes with that. As for the actual work in the match, Sasha performance is masterful. All of the little details that she brings add depth to what could have been an overly simple story. Bayley's strong responses to Sasha's insults bring energy to the match. If Sasha vs. Becky showed what the women could do from a work perspective, then this showed that they could not just bring that again but have a story too. ****1/2
  4. The esteemed Mr. Sleeze originally wrote (because I can't actually quote the original post because I'm an idiot):
  5. Considering the amount of attention that the Diva's Revolution got at the start, I'm pretty surprised that this match got passed by without much attention. It gets off to an intense start as they lock up and manage to keep it going for awhile, eventually going to the floor. The main part of the match is after the commercial break with Sasha working over Paige. It's not at the level of the Takeover special but Sasha does a terrific job of making Paige earn her comebacks. Paige's selling wonderful here as she puts over Sasha's work and really throws everything into her offensive spurts. The finish seems simple but it works as it rewards the Sasha's strategy during the body of the match as Paige has nothing left to fight out of the Bank Statement. Not quite a hidden gem but still something to check out as this is what they should be do more of on RAW rather than the never ending faction stuff. ***3/4
  6. If nothing else this match will always be a watershed moment for women in mainstream wrestling. Sasha, in particular, was well thought of before this match. But after this match, people started talking about her as being the best in the WWE, if not the world. The match itself starts out with some back and forth exchanges leading to Becky ending up with the slight advantages at the end which force Sasha back on her heels. Sasha fires back in a big way by blocking a Becky kick and yanking her down to the apron by grabbing her arm. Sasha follows that up by spending the next several minutes just torturing Becky's arm, with the big highlight being Sasha bending back Becky's arm with her foot. I did like Becky's comeback leading to a good near-finish with the armbar, even if her selling was a bit spotty along the way. Didn't like the finish though as Sasha basically has to no-sell not just being thrown into the steps after her dive, but also the arm work, by putting on the Bank Statement with Becky right by the ropes. The last 90 seconds is what keeps this from being in the top tier of women's matches for the year. ****1/4
  7. One of the 3-5 best matches in the history of the company. Shockingly violent and stiff with top notch action and a great build to Reign's comeback. I know sometimes Brock is perceived as an offense machine but his character work, mannerisms and selling can be as good as anyone's. If only this had a proper finish. Screwy finishes in things like Shawn/Foley or Fujinami/Maeda don't usually hurt the matches but here the match felt incomplete because of the run-in. Still this is fantastic. ****3/4
  8. Interesting story behind this match. As of a few hours before, this was supposed to be Sakaguchi vs Kota Ibushi for the KO-D Openweight Title but Ibushi was out with High Fever so HARASHIMA took his place instead due to his high ranking in the DDT Election that year (3rd place). Yukio Sakaguchi, who is the son of former NJPW President Seiji Sakaguchi, is the defending champion of the KO-D Openweight Title and has already beaten KUDO (Peter Pan) and Daisuke Sasaki (DDT Who’s Gonna Top). Sakaguchi was rather new to wrestling at the time, well compared to HARASHIMA anyway, with him being three years into his career in wrestling and was 42 years old at the time so there was a lot against him but he took to wrestling like a glove and was on a high and he wasn’t ready to let that slip. This was an excellent match considering they weren’t opponents only a few hours before. A match built around grappling and stiff striking which meant Sakaguchi’s MMA career came into play here. Sakaguchi controlled the majority of the match but HARASHIMA put up a fight hitting some nasty kicks. One thing HARASHIMA brought into play here was his excellent facial expressions. They were on point and add a tone to the match. A highly unique match, especially in DDT and a great one at that. ****1/2
  9. Never been a big KUDO fan. He doesn’t have the charisma of HARASHIMA but I do think that he is still a good wrestler because of his intensity and good offence, and he very much delivered here. Some of his comebacks were extremely well timed and thus allowed all the babyface heat he gained in the match to shine through most effectively. The fire he showed in his offence was so awesome. HARASHIMA was fantastic in this. And whilst KUDO did great fighting from beneath, HARASHIMA stood out with his outstanding heel work. Closed fists for some of the strike exchanges, smiling in such a dickish manner whilst brutalising KUDO’s ribs, being an absolute bully. The peaked at the absolute right time with no over dramatic near falls, keeping it to a minimum. There was tons of struggle in the match, allowing the tension of a switches of momentum to happen. The crowd bought into what the story was telling. Great match held up by two fantastic performances. ****1/2
  10. Tenryu's retirement match and also one of the most surreal pro wrestling matches I have ever watched. Tenryu is just completely broken down here, in the last few years he could barely walk but here he can't even do that and categorizing what he does here as "walking" doesn't really seem right. Still I totally get why this would win the Tokyo Sports Match Of The Year. I've seen people call this match sad and I'd agree with that. I don't think that makes it a bad match though. Wrestling is about emotion and symbolism, not execution. Tenryu can't do anything except stiff the shit out Okada for real, and to his credit Okada daring Tenryu to shoot punch him in the face some more is about as close as I can get to liking him. A lot of Okada's offence doesn't look good, and Tenryu didn't have the strength to Powerbomb him properly but I don't think it really took away from the match. If anything that Tenryu was so broken down added to the match really. You'd have him making all these gigantic faces indicating he's hurtin a lot and you're not even sure if he's selling or just expressing that he's 65. Eventually Okada sticks to just doing the one move he has that looks good (the Dropkick) and it becomes even better. The post-match was heavy. Tenryu's first words about his final being something roughly like "shit I lost" was so great and so Tenryu. Man. I can't remember if I cried or not while watching the post-match. That Tenryu would have something this special against Okada in 2015 is unreal. Compare this to Taue's retirement match and you'll get the best explanation of the gap between them. This match will have a special place in my heart for sure.
  11. One of my favorite things about WWE Bryan is that even with all the goofiness and yes chants and what not, he was still able to wrestle a gritty and violent style. Some vicious and focused legwork on Harper who turns in a pretty outstanding selling performance. Really impressive how they managed to construct a great match considering the circumstances: 1) they are given just a few minutes on free TV (including ad time), 2) this takes place in the middle of a larger gauntlet match, 3) in typical WWE fashion, the focus is on Rollins/Orton backstage stuff. Bryan also takes a Misawa bump on a half nelson suplex, which is insane given the condition of his neck. Beautiful, beautiful payoff and finish. ****
  12. I really like how they laid out this match to how they booked this feud. They found the right tone for Emma's character as she realized how dangerous Asuka is but still thought she could beat her by outsmarting her. Also really liked Emma's in-ring performance, she worked really smart and laid in a lot of her shots while not being afraid of taking anything from Asuka. It was cool to see Asuka dust off some of her old strike combos. The most noticeable difference between Asuka here and her work in Japan is how much she plays to the crowd. She rarely worked in front of big crowds in Japan so it's nice to see her adjust and work "bigger" here. The finish was smart even if there was a few minor issues with the execution of it. ****
  13. Man-Yuki Ishikawa rules at pro wrestling so much. I've seen a fair bit of videos of Yoshiaki Fujiwara stretching folks, I imagine if I were to execute them without much training they would look like Wallace's did here. He also did a lot of kicking and stomping that was more similar to ATtitude Era stuff I loathe than the Battlarts matches I love. Ishikawa was just so amazing though, he did some wristlock takedown that was just breathtaking, on the ground his transitions were just.......indescribably beautiful and he executes every single thing with such intentsity it's a joy to watch. Loved how he kicked Wallace to break his grip in the Armbar and the vicious knees on the ground he did. Great performance by Ishikawa and another carry job in his bag. ***1/2
  14. Fun tournament match which doesn't shoot for epicness but simply displays their strengths in a conscise manner without any stupid gimmickry and simultenously presenting enough novelty to make it stand out a little. All of their usual spots are here, but un an easily digestible format-Suzuki modifies his rope hanging armbar by going on the apron and trapping Nakajima's foot between the ropes instead of just countering a strike as an obvious set-up for the spot and cranks Nakajima's arm by hammerlocking him with a chair. Nakajima's flashy kicks and strikes are matched well by Suzuki's well timed seling of big spots while Nakajima's upbeatness prevents Suzuki from losing focus which allows them to seamlessly build on previous sequences. ***1/4
  15. A couple notes about this match. First, it's a High Speed Title match, which is usually work more like an MPro or DG style match than a usual joshi one. Second, the ref is wearing a GoPro camera strapped to his head, while this looks goofy it actually catches some good shots. For the match itself, it starts out as your typical vet/rookie match with Io controlling things. Koguma does manage to get control with a pretty awesome chain of spots. She gets knocked out to the floor and Shirai tries to follow up with a moonsault to the floor but Koguma grabs her ankle and yanks her down with Io smacking her head on the floor. She then follows that up with a tornado DDT off the apron and a plancha. After that, the match stays fairly competitive while still keeping the experience dynamic. Even when Koguma pulls off the upset it feels like she legitimately earned it rather than it coming of as a fluke win. Definitely a MOTYC that people should check out. ****1/2
  16. Very good but disappointing given the hype surrounding it and the competitors involved. I liked Styles heeling it up, the dueling leg work motif and some of the spots and drama. My favorite spot was Tanahashi selling his neck on a bridge to put over the lingering effects of Styles crazy springboard reverse DDT. I thought they had the pieces of a great match but weren't quite able to put it together. Still, very much recommended. *** 1/2
  17. Not sure why it took me so long to watch this but it was every bit as horrifiyingly amazing as I expected. Classifying it as anything other than pro wrestling would be unjust. There's a pro wrestling angle before the match. There are irish whips during the match. As a viewing experience, I loved it. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable rating it due to all the whining that could ensue about rewarding unprofessional behavior, but I am not one to really talk about morality in pro wrestling. The match starts with a creepy minute long staredown. They get into each other's face, after which Act punches Yoshiko in the face. Then the fighting starts-they both throw hands but Yoshiko easily overpowers Act and takes her down. At points it seems Yoshiko doesn't even care to fight, as she stops Act and stares at her as if to stay "I've proved my point. we can go back to working now, I don't even care". Every chance she gets Act jumps on her only to get beaten up more, which makes the irish whips look that much weirder. Act's stablemate (I assume) goes after Yoshiko post-match, yelling "you're not a real champion, this is pro wrestling , wrestle" and so on. The visuals of Act's broken nose and swollen eye were as chilling as it gets, if you have the stomach for something like this it's quite the experience.
  18. I hesitated making a thread on this but fuck it I enjoyed this way too much. Even if I don't think it rises above "fun." Basically Regins gives us an entertaining 2015 Kane match centered around his strikes and selling. It's mainly a slugfest but when you have Reigns making me buy Kane's offense as actually doing damage, you're doing something right. Thought him seeming to just be going on instinct on the finish was great, too.
  19. This was a much different match than any of the Honda matches I've seen so far. It was a lot to take in. At it's core it's a face vs heel match-but there's just so much going on it's much more than that. Sato put on a really good heel performance, and Honda excelled in this role as well. In the first minute Sato managed to throw Honda outside, pull his hair and drop him suspiciously low on a reverse atomic drop. From then on all hell brooke loose-as Sato had wrestlefriends and even a fan help him beat Honda up. I love the way he viciously threw him onto chairs and then proceeded to throw more chairs at him. But what's really great about this is that these two understood their roles and how to efficiently play them-Honda was believable when fighitng back, didn't do any weird pauses when striking Sato from below, he would either sell or continue striking him, and Sato would respond by registering the pain of the strikes and avoiding them and firing back at the right time. They'd tease you with a comeback several times in a single sequence only to continue the control segment and it made the comebacks that much more special. Sato's Catapult on the top rope was some next level stuff and both guys bumped great. ***1/4
  20. I've always held TAKA Michinoku in high regard and him cultivating such a badass house style in his own promotion is only going to help his 2026 GWE looks for me. This match. My god. What can I even say to do it justice. I'm astonished how simple doing pro wrestling right can be sometimes. This match consisted of nothing more than these two grappling. And it became something special. Not because they used big symbols, but because they used normal, usual, mundane symbols and turned them into something huge by mixing them up with a bunch of cool, beautiful looking matwork. When you know how to sell you can turn Headscissors and Armbars into viable nearfalls too. I loved how TAKA used Headlocks and Sleepers to set up his Crossface variations-maybe connecting smaller symbols with bigger symbols and thus increasing their importance is something that should be discussed more. Ayumu Honda is still the best and this ruled. ***1/4
  21. This was really cool. The Sekimoto and Zeus interactions were the least interesting portion of the match, not that they were bad or anything but they were as standard as they get, Sekimoto is a one trick pony and his trick was never that good to begin with. Super Tiger II may not be a shoot style master but just his willingness to do shooty stuff is enough to make matches more interesting. Murakami was the star of the match as expected, I could watch him just taunt Sekimoto and his stupid face for twenty minutes and he seemed unusually motivated here and did way more than I expected him to. Highlight of the match was the finish, after some dull crowd brawling Murakami just goes berserk and starts blasting Sekimoto with punches in the face and starts throwing chairs around, it was the kind of awesome chaotic brawling I'd like to see more out of japanese wrestling these days. ***1/4
  22. An intergender comedy match. Probably way overrating this but I thought this was a really well done match, combining really goofy comedy with classic storytelling. *** 3/4
  23. This match is actually fairly similar to the Hojo/Iwata match earlier in the card except that it "Champion vs. Rising Star" so it's a bit more advanced. Satomura dominates the early going by simply overpowering Iwatani with matwork and strikes. Mayu tries to stick and move to counter but it only takes one stiff shot from Meiko to regain control. Iwatani does eventually manage to get a nice run on offense but she ends up making the same mistake that Hojo did in July by trying to trade strikes with Satomura and that's just a fight that Mayu isn't going to win. Meiko puts an exclamation point by hitting a nasty DVD then putting Iwatani to sleep. ***3/4
  24. While this is pretty much a veteran vs. rookie match, there's enough fire and stiffness to make this stand out on its own. This starts out with the typical vet beating down of the rookie with Hojo controlling things. Iwata is finally able to get on offense when she avoids a charging Hojo and follows up by slamming Kairi on the floor. She then focuses on Hojo back, even breaking out a really nice looking Regal Stretch. Eventually though, Hojo just has enough of this and just starts drilling Iwata with strikes topping off with the absolute nastiest spinning backfist that you will ever see catching Iwata right on the nose. Mika tries making one last comeback but gets jacked up by a running forearm from Hojo and another spinning backfist that splats blood from Iwata's broken nose onto her cheek. That's a visual that I won't be forgetting for awhile. Quite the rite of passage for a rookie. ***3/4
  25. Well, if this is the last match of Sarah Stock's career, then this is a pretty good way to go out. Starts out with a really fast exchange sequence with both women all over the place but Dark Angel ends up taking over after yanking Io off the top turn buckle then powerbombing her on the apron. She follows that up with a bunch of cool submission that focus on Io's back with Shirai putting it over with some really good selling. The finish is a nice change as they focus on escaping/countering each other's finishers rather than going the usual near fall route. ****1/4
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