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Found 288 results

  1. While their August match is a great **** affair, this was on another level. Felt like a hybrid between DreamRush and best Midnight Express-RnR bout. They escalated the intensity and drama superbly and brilliantly played off their previous match. Iconic finish too. **** 1/2
  2. Neat match that was really made by the surprisingly good selling. Irie has some good power spots, and him punching through HARASHIMA's guard and annihilating him with THE POUNCE sounds great in a vacuum but the way HARASHIMA just throws himself with crazy bumps really adds to them. They do some crowd brawling early on but they throw good strikes and it is more them slamming each other into the barricade and the apron then one wrestler "dragging" the other halfway across the arena to get him back into the ring which looks more like they're holding hands than actual dragging. HARASHIMA responds to Irie's power offence wih vicious knee strikes and stomps. Finishing stretch is a little too nearfall heavy but it was very exciting and fun. HARASHIMA slipping through Irie's attempted Fire Thunder Driver was an amazing spot and they executed "will he or will he not fall down" selling about as good as they could've.
  3. This is the type of match where five years from now they'll show a clip of Owens and Zayn brawling and the finish and then enunciate "here at WWE it is all about THE STORIES. We tell STORIES. STORYTELLING. STORY STORY STORY SHAWN MICHAELS IS THE GREATEST WRESTLER OF ALL TIME" but in actuality the match is a total spotfest. I mean. It was fine for what it was. Just them blowing through a bunch of stuff I could have liked and cared about if they gave me reason to care about them. Vastly inferior to last year's ladder match, even in a match that is an inherent trainwreck like this one the lack of ring generals like Bryan and Harper hurt the match tremendously. **1/2
  4. As far as modern New Japan workrate matches go this was worked about as smartly and well as it gets. Early on they established clear mini narratives instead of just wasting time by doing insignificant "small" holds to fill time-Naito would mocks Omega and evade his lock ups which caused Omega to go off on him and start spitting at him, Naito had a long control segment based on attacking Omega's leg, Omega worked over Naito's neck and so on. It was worked pretty back and forth but with solidly long control segments that meant something AND memorable transitions. The legwork provided Naito an easy means of effectively cutting Omega off when he'd attempt a comeback or when he was already in control-Naito attempting his Fireman's Carry/Moonsault combination only to stop because his leg work was a great use of that. Naito selling the damage of a Neckbreaker he executed on Omega may not have fed into a transition but it was a cool detail that further hooked me in. A common criticism I have of the style is that they simply get lazy and rely on lazy cliches-the workrate isn't impressive because you can tell everything that's going to happen. It's not like I loved Naito running into an Omega Clothesline but him successfully hitting running dropkicks on Omega's leg served as an explanation of why he would do that and leave himself open to a counter. A lot of the strikes they did early-mid way on looked lazy, not as good as those of C level Memphis workers. Now you can say that those strikes weren't really the focal point of the match and that's a fair point, but if you're arguing that modern New Japan is the peak of workrate wrestling an All Japan fanatic can simply point to something like those weak strikes and say "that didn't happen in All Japan". The match will mostly be remembered for all the insane violence and drama that the finishing stretch brought. Naito is a complete lunatic, and was willing to take INSANE bumps to put Omega and the match over. Omega repaid him with similar recklessness. As far as the nerfall heavy finish goes, what seperated it from the usual New Japan match for me is that they worked it how I basically want this type of match to be worked. The moves should look convincing and dangerous. You should believe the wrestlers have a reason to attempt them. The execution should be convincing. It takes a lot of effort and creativity but they nailed it here, and credit to them-they didn't insist on getting all their shit in for the sake of doing so. Once he got cut off Omega never went for the Moonsault again. For the counters themselves...they were just well worked. They were set up in a way you thought the match was going to end-Omega would hit a big knee and lift Naito on his shoulder, and as he's about to do the one Winged Angel Naito somehow turns it around into a Destino, which I doubt anyone thought was physhically possible until it was done. There was also the brilliant use of Naito's Flying Forearm-it's a move Naito uses commonly, and it often gets countered too, but here it was already countered earlier on, and once that happens and Naito went for it again you'd think it would have to hit because that's just how New Japan has programmed me to view their matches. And Naito eating a big knee while going for it again is an effective play on that cliche. It's fair to question the existence of those cliches in the first place, how they've hurt the quality of the ringwork and how it could (and for some wrestlers has) lead to just everything becoming too meta and too counter heavy to work. But props to them-it did here. ****
  5. I loved the early battle of strength vs speed and how AJ adapted to Reigns' offence. I preferred the way the Payback match was paced and I wasn't really big on the crowd brawling in this one which is why I think the Payback match was better. The stuff with the pre-show panel table felt novel but I don't think it was worth the time they gave that segment. Sealing the Styles Clash for the last two months was probably the best thing they could have done and they did a great job building to it here too, I loved Reigns' Uppercut counter to it. Reigns' leg injury angle wasn't overly significant in the whole scheme of the match but it did provide a valid excuse for him to sell as much as he did before Gallows and Anderson got involved. I loved the way they mixed up the counters, for example in the last match Reigns Superman Punched Reigns in the middle of his Springboard Forearm and here he did it before Styles even leaped. AJ took some disgusting bumps and the match felt a different kind of brutal. The bit with Reigns swinging him into the apron and the barricade before Powerbombing him through a table that wasn't "cleared" beforehand was just insane and Reigns breaking the barricade with a Spear also felt fresh due to it being done from a different angle. ****1/4
  6. If you've read enough of my reviews you know my takes on matches can be quite unique. I didn't think this was a worst WWE match ever candidate. I didn't think it sucked. Didn't hate it. Now I didn't think it was great either-but I'd like to explain my position first. As a serious worker in 2016 Jericho is pretty terrible. Ambrose isn't much better, but at least I think he has some skills that can be used in certain match types against the right opponent even if I think 80% of his output is pure trash. They wrestled a serious wrestling match on Payback and it sucked. It was boring, dull and completely uninteresting. This match was a trainwreck. I'm open to liking trainwrecks. Most of the offence and acting here would've been complete dogshit in a regular pro wrestling match but it worked here for me, maybe precisely because it was so bad. I maintain that this could've been a legitimately amazing match if Jericho wrestler wearing the scarf. The visual of him doing so would just be so hilarious and he could choke Ambrose with it and that'd set up Ambrose's revenge spot etc. So many stuff in this match-from the shitty punches, them using shoves as moves like twenty times, Jericho just wandering around yelling at people....I think it worked in the context of recreating a late WCW/TNA gimmick match. I did think the two minutes they built to the thumbtacks spot was legitimately good wrestling and the bump itself was absolutely disgusting. The visual of Jericho bleeding from his arms was great. But it also went too long. It amused me throughout because of how bizarre and ridiculous it was but I would have preffered something more compact (i.e. ten minutes shorter). I'm not sure it's worth giving three stars to even if did entertain me like a much of that rating usually would. I do wonder if the lack of self consciousness here actually hurts it for me here, because it would totally be a three star match if Sabu did something like this. Like if Jericho was consciously trying to create pro wrestling absurdism that would be different to me than him just being a shit wrestler that's so bad I think he's awesome because he botched so much stuff due to being a shit wrestler but I find it funny that he does that while yelling in this condescending dad tone. But then there's also the question of whether intent is relevant in art and my instinctive reaction to that is no. So. This match is *** to me I guess? There you have it.
  7. This was whatever. Opening was pretty boring with them doing uninteresting takes on basic holds, I've seen enough arm wingers for a lifetime, nothing Chris Hero does with them makes me want to see more. Commentary compared Tommy End to a K1 kickboxer, I don't remember ever seeing Peter Aerts do sound effect kicks. The sequence with End and Sabre Jr. avoiding each other's kicks was more eye-rolling than any of the recently debated flip GIFs and the one man Magic Killer was the type of embarrassing indy nonsense I'd expect out of Davey Richards. The Sabre in peril portion wasn't particularly interesting and all the striking quickly got repetitive. They kicked it up a notch for the finish with their puro cosplay strike exchanges but then the match just went on and on and on. I'm not really familiar with how Evolve matches are structured so it is not a good sign they couldn't get me to bite on any of the nearfalls. The idea of Tommy End, this great faux kickboxer doing Moonsaults could be explained as an Otsuka-tribute but it was much closer to a very bad Koji Kanemoto tribute. I don't really have anything nice to say about this match. It wasn't very interesting to me sorry (I did pop for the D'Lo Brown namedrop on commentary). Chris Hero has a nice Piledriver I guess. **
  8. Sometimes you open a video of a match and think "here we go". And there may be a pre-match interview, ok, skip that. Maybe a video package for a preview, ok, skip that. Boring entrances, ok, skip that, Endless introductions, ok, skip that. Then the match starts with something boring and generic like arm wingers and you wonder if it wouldn't be better to just close that youtube window and go do something else. Maybe go watch cat meme videos, reconnect with your childhood friends. Anything else really. And sometimes you see LA Park and Rey Escorpion holding chairs ready to attack each other and think "every decision I've ever made leading up to this moment has been correct". Cause that's what you're really here for in the pro wrestling bubble, bandana man and skeleton man pretending to try to kill each other with more than half of the match covered in two control segments. And even when they move away from the garbage wrestling the match is still great because of their tremendous personalities. Escorpion manages to incorporate taking off Park's mask into a Clothesline so smoothly, and he immediately makes sure to cover his base and distract the ref. It's insane that Park is doing the kind of crazy dives he did here when he's that old and fat but it just adds to the chaos. ****
  9. These four wrestlers are in my ballot. Certainly the best Negro Casas match from this year. Solar and Blue Panther are old and they are past their prime but they can still deliver the goods on the mat. Just don't ask them to go on the third rope. The best part of the match are the interactions between Casas and Terry.
  10. What a superb little match. Creative spots, violence, comedy, the underdog narrative and awesome heel work from Suzuki. Love the dynamic with Suzuki murdering Yano with killer offense while Yano did really basic stuff like hair pulling and grabbing the referee just to stay in the match. I know Yano gets ironic praise on places like reddit but he really is a great foil for Suzuki. The repeated interference from Taichi worked really well and had a nice payoff. Great, great finish. **** 1/4
  11. I like pro wrestling that preserves the struggle of a fight, even if it is one often resembling action/boxing/martials arts movie scenes more than an actual real competition or a fight. I don't like pro wrestling where the workers struggle to simulate the fight itself, and if you're not bothered by the sloppiness that is still very much present in many of these matches, well, good for you. But I'm having trouble taking Bayley seriously when she messes up very basic looking spots. The match was fine-Bayley got some solid shine early on and then we transitioned into a cool control segment where Asuka nailed Bayley with a brutal knee and kept cutting Bayley off every time Bayley attempted a comeback. Asuka really nailed some sharp kicks in here, it was a joy to watch. Unfortunately Bayley's comeback was pretty lame, slamming someone's head into the the turnbuckle as a comeback works if you're a tecnico and Fuerza Guerrera is bumping for you but as a means of vanquishing the biggest badass the NXT women's division has had so far it's not very convincing, especially when the slams themselves don't look especially violent. Bayley's babyface comeback offence of running elbows/kneedrops/legdrops would've been much more efficient if Asuka's control segment laster longer and was used as the actual comeback. Finish was also kinda eye-rolling, didn't really buy into Bayley becoming this huge badass, her acting wasn't there and her daring Asuka to hit her in the face and immediately covering up was just so stupid, it's the kind of stuff that happens when you have Triple H and friends laying out puro machismo tribute spots. Do I even need to explain how stupid no-selling a head kick is after treating it like a KO shot a mere second after? You fire up and barely get to your feet at best after something like that. That would've made for a much better and intruiging finish than what they did. ***
  12. This was fascinating to watch. Nia Jax has no presence whatsoever and carried herself like she is much smaller than she is. She deserves more opportunities than someone of lesser size because (I assume) it's harder to find someone her size and you need as much variety as you can get. This felt very much like a Kiyoshi Tamura U-Style match against a not big name in that while it wasn't a total squash it felt close to it. At no point did you get the impression Asuka was in danger. It was interesting to see Asuka feed herself submissions and kicks and work around Nia. If Nia *got* the most fundamental things about her character I'd have advocated working a different much and would argue that one could have been much better, but as it stands I'll gladly take this since no one else is doing Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton right now. ***1/4
  13. Eddie Guerrero died of a heart attack 11 years ago aged 38. As I started watching this match I sat there and wondered. Wondered what they planned for this occassion. As I give these matches a chance time and time again and conclude I get way more out of Emma and Nia Jax roughing someone up for three minutes, I wonder whether THIS time is the one they got it. Think back to the good match(es) they had in NXT. Think about how the longer build for this match could mean there was more planning for it. Maybe a better structure. More practice. No clumsiness. Maybe the big spots can look dangerous without verging into "she's gonna break her neck soon too". And so the match started with Charlotte taking Sasha out with a cheapshot. This was great. Came totally out of nowhere, took me out of my seat. Perfect way to start the match off. Them stopping the cell while it was moving down because Sasha would've been crushed underneath it otherwise? Perfect. And so the match starts, and they immediately go into quasi-brawling, and I'm not really sure what some of the strikes they're throwing are supposed to be, but that's really no different from any WWE crowd brawling ever, even the AJ-Reigns match from Extreme Rules had some of that, whatever. The table spot happens. Not good. The "babyface fights of a stretcher" spot almost never looks good. You have Sasha being put in a neckbrace and then she fights off and has twenty more minutes to wrestle. There's just no way that's going to work. Charlotte does some solid heeling inbetween, gettin on your nerves with some repetitiveness. The stretcher spot only works when you have a heel like Finlay fake it or when Trauma 1 sells it like he actually can't move his neck. But, whatever, some questionable psychology, I sat through Rollins-Owens, my skin is thicker than that. Then the match starts again, and, well, I'm not really sure what to make of it. Charlotte attacked Sasha's back time and time again, Sasha didn't really sell it any differently than she sells anything ever. I mean I'm not a fan of Sasha looking like she's about to cry in *every match* but, if that's what she does, and you're telling the narrative of how she's seriously injured, she needs to sell even more. The only signs of her selling her back happen near the end of the match when she collapses on a Powerbomb attempt. But we'll get to that later. The Powerbomb spot was also stupid because, just in the two HIAC matches earlier, there were what feels like 15 tables broken. And in the case of Rollins/Owens the Powerbomb looked even more dangerous than the one in Sasha/Charlotte. It didn't feel like big enough of a spot to warrant that angle. Is a Powerbomb through a table not being a big enough spot for that angle a problem in the current WWE style? I don't really have an answer right now, but it's how things are and that's how it needs to be addressed. Nothing encapsulated this match as much as the fans booing the spot where they didn't properly break the table. YOU HAVE TO BREAK THE TABLE! Why? Because the fans care about the idea of the table than they do about the performers or the match. There's no doubt the work was gritty and violent-but it felt like white noise to me. I just grew numb to it. If they're not smart enough to milk Sasha's finishers in a meaningful way (I really like the spot where a wrestler escapes the way Charlotte did here, it's particularly great in Last Man Standing matches-but it was a transitional spot and it got zero reaction, which isn't how you should use such a big move obviously). Another moment that really resonated with me was when Charlotte put Sasha into the Figure 8 and, it just wasn't a beliavable finish. Why? Because there was a table ready to be broken near her. You can't end the match before you break the table. We know that. I actually did like the finish-it was the first time Sasha really sold the back and Charlotte repeteadly throwing Sasha into the table before putting her away was a cool visual. Put it comes as no surprise many people didn't like it-they've been conditioned you need to finish such a big match with so much violence in a bigger way. And also break the table. Cause that's what really matters. Lastly-I'm not really sure how they wanted me to react. I mean-I KNOW that they wanted me to think Sasha-great babyface hero queen and Charlotte-evil person booooooooo, and they used some basic psychology in the match with the injury angle and all that, but beyond that they didn't really bother. Am I supposed to be amazed at the violent spectacle like I'm watching Ikeda-Ishikawa? That's not how it was presented. Am I supposed to get behind Sasha like shes' Kikuchi? Why is she getting so much offence in then? And why won't she sell the back? Or is that in 2016 a lot of wrestlers simply don't know how to work and their idea of a great match is "I'm gonna do a Meteora of the cell it's gonna look so cool" but they've also been brainwashed with an idea of psychology in the performance center (heels do this, faces do that) yet when they're asked to connect those two the end result is failure. That's what this was. And that the faux-historic first women's PPV main event happened on a lesser show with the decision made last minute shows just how important women are to WWE. Best you can hope for is that they go back to the midcard with a respectful presentation like they've in NXT. I hope the opening line of this post isn't how Sasha Banks is going to be talked about when wrestlers of future generations talk about how much she inspired them. I don't know how to rate this. My instinctive reaction is to call it average-but my reaction to it wasn't average. I don't usually respond to **1/2 matches with this much text. It will have to sink in.
  14. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like this nearly as much as other folks but I ended up kind of hating it. First off I actually want to bring up some stuff I thought was good. You often see criticisms of WWE matches in supposed blood feuds starting with a headlock or heels doing face spots etc. Not the case here. As soon as the match starts they went after one another and Zayn was doing the ten punches in the corner as a face should. I just. Don't care about this type of match. I get why people like it but personally, I am kinda done with matches like this. I hated the puro no sell spots. Served no purpose and looked stupid. Hated Owens doing a flip bump for Zayn's Clothesline. I don't remember whether or not Nakamura vs Zayn had a flip bump off Zayn's Lariat but Nakamura is at least more lean and does those bumps all the time, the visual of this fat guy doing a flip bump for the skinny underdog (not necessarily in this match but in general) was just weird. Then there's my absolute least favourite moment of the match-after Zayn hit Owens with a Michinoku Driver and a Blue Thunder Driver/Fireball Bomb (Kikuchi did it before Akiyama but no one seems to talk about that) Owens just gets up and hits him with a Wrist Clutch Fisherman Neckbreaker On The Knee. Literally just stood up and hit his big move after two big nearfalls. And the visual of Owens getting Zayn in the Wrist Clutch made it impossible for them to sell it as a desperation comeback that caught Zayn off guard due to the time it took to set up the move. Then they did like, a move on the apron and whatnot but I mentally checked out already and was just waiting for this to end. I di like Zayn's early Tope Con Giro and him wrecking the announce table. It was a great opening. I just wish a great match followed it. I could buy them doing a hateful Dragon Lee-Kamaitachi spotfest like they did in ROH and PWG or a hate filled brawl like they did in NXT but a hybrid just didn't work for me.
  15. Hate to ruin the fun but this didn't do much for me. Still felt very much like a generic WWE four way just with a better workrate and the overreliance on cheap props to produce drama isn't really my thing in 2016. I liked the finish with Miz getting the pin out of nowhere but when you have stuff like Zayn rolling on the floor asking the ref if it was two instead of going for the pin himself after just breaking up someone else's finisher>pin, Cesaro just staring at Owens while he climbed on the rope and so on it's not the type of stuff I'm going to love. I've seen Cesaro drag Miz into the ring when she tried to save him before, I've seen the tower of doom spots, I've seen the triple suplexes, one guy running at every corner to hit his move three times and so on. Initially I don't even buy them as nearfalls but after a while having someone break up the pin or pull someone out of the ring just becomes tedious and repetitive. **1/2
  16. Holy shit this was amazing. It's a serious best WWE match ever contender for me. I really don't get why people get so upset over the overbooking, and honestly it was fine here. I don't remember the last time a WWE match so ambitious. The early portion was PERFECT in establishing Reigns' power and AJ made himself look good in the process too because when he did overcome it it meant that much more. I loved how it was paced, it had the greatest table spot in WWE history and a plethora of neat little touches. AJ avoiding Reigns' big suicide dive and then quickly leaping on him with the diving forearm was such a neat spot that made him look great. All of the big counters looked almost shockingly organic and natural for a 2016 WWE match and the rope break nearfall made my heart stop for a second. They both took some disgusting bumps here. Another thing I loved is how AJ used the Pele Kick as a way to upgrade his striking combo after it failed to take Reigns down earlier in the match instead of using it as a counter spot like he usually does, and to that point AJ quickly hitting Reigns with a Snapmare after Reigns survived his striking combo also made him look like a smart wrestler. I want to re-watch this and I don't remember when was the last time I felt that way about a WWE match. And Reigns hitting AJ with another Superman Punch after the big counter one also put AJ over as a serious threat and was just a badass thing to do and then AJ did that awesome delayed selling instead of popping up like you'd see in the Zayn-Owens match. These two have a five star match in them. ****3/4
  17. This match was totally badass. Hideki Suzuki is a Billy Robinson trainee and someone I always love to see make tape and Ishikawa is one half of my favourite modern tag team and has also grown into a really strong singles worker in the last few years. I liked the matwork here a lot, you have Suzuki using his skill by applying cravates, leglocks, wrenching on Ishikawa's fingers, doing neat takedowns and transitions, Ishikawa can't really compete with him in that so he'll put him in an Iron Claw and grab him and just throw him off himself to combat Suzuki's superior ability. Some really great stuff happens outside of the ring as Ishikawa replies to Suzuki lowering the middle rope and asking him to come back to the ring by sitting in a chair and challenging Suzuki back, they proceed to just insanely stiff each other with elbows and it looks much more like the finish of that one Black Terry/Hechicero match than modern puro elbow exchanges. Ishikawa drops Suzuki on the apron in a absolutely disturbing and disgusting manner, I think Roderick Strong did something like that to like Mike Bailey last year in PWG, imagine that spot but even more violent looking. They get back into the ring and continue to produce greatness, Suzuki throws some beautiful suplexes and Ishikawa is just uberviolent, they do a great job of teasing comebacks only to cut them off in satisfying and unexpected ways and while they sometimes do the puro pop-up after being hit with a move they always sell the imact of the move once the sequence finishes and they never temporarily "no-sell" anything huge. Finish is something I've seen botched so many times I thought they were just going to screw it up differently here or it wasn't going to be the finish but IT WAS! And it was done right! And it looked really great and totally caught me off guard. ***3/4
  18. These two have another hate filled brawl, but this time inside a steel cage match! Puerto Rican wrestling really feels like a cartoon that's come to life-but more in the vein of Hellsing than Scooby Doo. Basically-there's a lot of ridiculous stuff that ask you to suspend your disbelief, but they do a good job of consitently following through on the logic of the universe they're in. Like I'm not sure whether they were using a taser or a stapler, but the weapon choices can get pretty goofy. Still-they surround it with enough violence you can just immerse yourself into it and enjoy it for what it is-and you get some really cool spots like an Alabama Slam into a side of a cage and someone beinf trapped inbetween the cage and the ropes and just getting nuked with vicious Lariats. There's a strecher job, and it can be pretty hair to nails strecher jobs, especially since there's a pretty big chance the wrestler's going to come back in the match later, but it was done about as well as possible here. El Cuervo took a gigantic bump of the cage into thumbtack, disappeared for a while, then came back swinging through the crowd, and when he came back into the ring it took him quite along time to get one of the heels onto his shoulder and I'd stop and check before executing his usual offence. I wasn't the biggest fan of the post-match beatdown and angle, felt a little forced, but it couldn't detract too much from a neat match. ***1/2
  19. This didn't reach the heights of their previous match, as this was more of a classic tag than a chaotic brawl, but was still pretty good. I really liked La Revolucion's work here, they found smart ways to distract the ref and utilize the blind tag to their advantage and had a lot of neat cut offs like good looking big boots, stomps or just pulling by the taping. Mendoza and Cuervo remind me of The Hardys-in that they seem to have the basics down, sell well, know how to fire up and make the crowd buy into them, but also opt to do jumping around, and while I really could live without ever seeing a sub-CM Punk Go 2 Sleep ever again it's mostly inoffensive, maybe due to how recklessly they throw themselves into a lot of it. The simulatenous double pin is hardly the most original idea, but it's a good enough angle to prolong the feud so I didn't mind it. ***1/4
  20. I don't think sloppiness is inherently bad but with the kind of workrate matches they're attempting to have they are a clear obstacle that I don't see going away any time soon unless they start doing crazy AJW dojo excersises which I don't see happening on road life. Sttill there was a lot of good stuff in here that gives me hope a month of reversal could be enough for these two to come up with something really good. Sasha's straight jacket looked great and using a pin to set up the Banks Statement was something you'd expect from Dick Togo and not a random Raw match. I really love how they follow through on their bumps, it made Sasha's Baseball Slide and Meteora from the apron look absolutely amazing. They also did a good job of using kicks as transitions, so anyone making a case for Emma's inclusion into a hall of fame based on influence take notice. Sasha's facial expressions while Charlotte stretched her were the most cringe worthy thing I've seen in a long time. It's frustrating how in the same match there are times they come off as doing something amazing and revolutionary and at other times it looks more like a 2008 Diva match. Sasha's Suicide Dive was insane-but also something worth criticising for its recklessness a lot more than a 70 year old man headbutting a ringpost. I have nothing against emotional performances in pro wrestling but Sasha faux-crying after not getting a pin isn't exactly reminiding me of Hokuto, Ohtani and Santo. Charlotte's Suplex-twisting Neckbreaker move also looks incredibly stupid. The Moonsault is a thing of beauty tho. Finishing stretch was fun and it was surprising to see them actually go through with a clean finish instead of opting for a DQ and delaying the title change once again. **3/4
  21. Strong BJ vs The Big Guns brings you the HOSSFIGHTING OF JAPAN PRO WRESTLING. Akiyama vs anyone from the Big Japan team sounds great, and here he focuses on destroying Daichi, and as you might know Akiyama vs young punk has been the best match in puro for the last 10 years and it delivers once again as Akiyama just kills Daichi with brutal knees.
  22. This was awesome and worked in a strange hybrid neo King's Road/Battlarts style, you could tell by the early grappling this wasn't going to be the usual All Japan match, I loved how Akiyama pulled Super Tiger out of the ring to transition into offence and he followed it up by just blasting him with knees, they smacked each other around a lot but any time Akiyama had even the smallest opportunity to obliterate Tiger with a knee strike he'd go for it. Tiger fired back with a bunch of kicks and slaps and the sense of constant struggle really added to the match. Incredible out of nowhere KO finish that was sold and presented perfectly. ***1/2
  23. It's hardly an astute observation but during my latest mini Akiyama binge I have started to think about how incredibly lacking pro wrestling criticism is. It may be due to so few people paying attention to his stuff, and I know it sounds incredibly pretentiosu but sometimes I do get the feel no one else is really giving Akiyama a completely fair shake, both regarding his positives and his negatives. I don't remember anyone bringing up how he uses suplex sequences and unoriginal rope-running counters as transitions which is pretty evident and lord knows how many other examples and maybe better examples for all other wrestlers out there exist. I liked this match a lot conceptually. Mashimo takes out Akiyama's leg preventing him from using his knee strike on which he relies on a lot. Mashimo's limbwork is focused and good, Akiyama provides an interesting take on limping selling and they work the finish with Akiyama using big slams and strikes to fight back into the match instead of just hitting a bunch of knee strikes regardless of the limb work. It wasn't a particularly exciting watch though, I'll concede it was above average/relatively good, give it **3/4 and move on.
  24. Good match but much like their match from last year's Champion Carnival it is more a fun sprint than a match of quality similar to their 2014 classic. I think that's probably because of how even both matches were worked, I'd have liked to see longer control segments. For what it was it was fun, both guys have good offence and the finishing run with both of them unloading on each other with vicious knee strikes was very cool. ***-ish
  25. All Japan house shows can be depressingly heatless and that was the case here, I would have probably rated this higher if it happened in Korauken. I am not Sekimoto's biggest fan but he does have a good sense of how to traditionally build a match and fits well into the Nu King's Road matwork>strikes>big moves formula with bigger teases in the firs two thirds. Akiyama is one the rare guys who actually knows how to sell which held all the strike exchanges together and there was a neat moment when he DDT'd Sekimoto on the floor and as I expected the dreaded 20 count he went back outside the ring and blasted Sekimoto with a Knee and a Piledriver as well before bringing him back in. I lowed the dramatic teases of their finishers, both Akiyama fighting out of the German and Sekimoto fighting out of the Wrist Clutch Exploder were exciting and I especially loved how Sekimoto elbowed Akiyama just when I was absolutely certain Akiyama was gonna go through with executing the Wrist Clutch Exploder. Would've been better without some tired transitions in the middle and in a better venue but Akiyama worked violent enough to hold my attention throughout the entire match and the finishing stretch was really good. ***1/4
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