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Found 57 results

  1. Really cool lightning match noteworthy for Hechicero clowning Titan. It all starts with Titan going for his headstand spot where Hechicero just shoves him off and kicks him in the arm, which starts a very good armwork segment where Hechicero got a chance to use some really cool offence, in particular he did a kneedrop using the guardrail on the ramp that came out of the blue. Titan got to get his dives in and they looked good, but really you want to see this for Titan going for one his flip-flops and Hechicero just leveling him with a chest slap. Not being to able to lock an armbar properly is more than I expected from Titan's selling, which was otherwise limited to holding his injured arm inbetween spots. ***1/4
  2. I rolled my eyes when this point was mentioned in a certain match review years ago, but I'll steal it here-to me, this really felt like a real pro wrestler taking on a phony. Negro Navarro is a lucha maestro-he's changed with the times and has constantly updated his offence, but the way he'd done it and performed has stayed true to that lineage and tradition. Zack Sabre Jr. is a total hybrid. You can see he is someone fascinated with pro wrestling and wants to rip everything he likes and create this all encompassing stlyle and whatnot, but as a result his matches don't really have a specific flair, particularly outside of a context that is "indy wrestler having matches indy crowds think are great". And Sabre looking "bad" isn't something I came in expecting to think, since I've always liked him as a worker, but him working against Negro Navarro in this environment really hammered that at me over and over again. Some of it was a 60 year old man looking like he was in much better shape than Sabre. Some of it were Sabre's ridiculous facial expressions and silly vocal selling that I don't pay heed to much when he usually wrestles, which suddenly started really standing out when Navarro was just selling like people usually do in these types of matches. And some of it was that Sabre would hit Navarro with weak European Uppercuts to the chest while the fantastic impact of Navarro's chops and chest slaps made them essentially look like he was shooting a laser at Sabre. For what it was, this was very well done-I'm not sure a one off attraction match could reach the heights of a title match, but if it could this isn't one I could point to. A very fun exhibition of holds I'd recommend everyone who likes the style to seek out, but not something that's going to leave a lasting impression on me. ***1/2
  3. Yet again Lesnar proves that, whenever he shows up, he is the best guy in WWE by a mile. Great performance where he was able to display his resourcefulness and toughness while constantly projecting vulnerability and putting Joe over as a huge threat. He sold the hell out of all of Joe's offense and was very consistent with the selling, basically from the prematch ambush to the end. He even sold when he was on top (for example selling in between executing suplexes). I liked him busting out new stuff like the sideslam or the between the legs switch around which showed he was being forced to dig deep. Joe was good too with the relentlessness and the cheap tactics which put over his desperation. Great finish with a creative use of a finisher. It was almost like a flash pin where Brock took advantage of Joe poor positioning and stunned him just long enough for a 3 count rather than it being anything decisive. Nice post match selling of the neck by Brock as well. *** 1/2
  4. DDT Extreme Title Best Two Out Of Three Falls Hardcore Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs Yuko Miyamoto First Fall: Great starting out point with Yuko Miyamoto dominating proccedings, making great use of the ladder at the start to gain the advantage, using it to attack the fingers, in which he'd then rip on them afterwards and backdropping Sasaki on his hip. Sasaki used the chairs to get some of the momentum back and hit some of his big moves and get the La Mistica Cross Facelock for the win Second Fall: Miyamoto went right back to the ladders to again get the advantage and hit some of that sick offence like his moonsault knees into the stomach. Sasaki tries some counters that helped him the last fall but he missed the elbow and Miyamoto kept hitting flash pins until he gets the win. Great short fall. Third Fall: I admired Daisuke Sasaki being willing to go all in on the brain truma and all the bumps he takes in this last fall. Miyamoto nailed Sasaki with a chair shot, he slammed his head into he stiff tables multiple times and takes a brutal Fire Thunder Driver through the same table. Sasaki stuck it out though and kept in it. Sasaki was "cheating" (choking is cheating in this context) the entire match but he channeled some great babyface charm with his selling and willingness to absorb as much as he does and keep on ticking. Miyamoto was great as well, alongside Sasaki. He puts his all into every big move and has great timing when cutting off Sasaki's hope spots. Great final peice to an overal great match. Over three falls, all different from each other, with great esclation from smart weapon use at the start into high level big bumps and offence for the final fall. Sasaki blanded his cheating antics with great babyface drive - he had great techinique, great selling and great hopespots. Miyamoto was very good as well. He didn't put a foot wrong in any regard. There was a few things that could've been devloped more like the finger work that lasts maybe 3 minutes, however, it wasn't needed a whole lot. Great outing. ****1/4
  5. Good match but pretty disappointing overall. I preferred the Goldberg, Joe and Strowman matches for Lesnar. Brock toned down suplex city so I suspect people are going to like this the best. Something about the pacing was off and it felt awkward at times. Still, good individual performances by both. Some really great bumping by AJ and he got in quite a lot of offense. Neat leg selling by Brock. Him violently powering out of the calf crusher was the best, most memorable spot. *** 1/4
  6. The first match in NEW history faces off a shoot style legend and one of the most notorious japanese MMA fighters of today. When you choose to work a mat-based shoot style match in a more conservative manner, with not many nearfalls and highspots, it's not uncommon to see it become uninteresting. These two absolutely nailed it. Aoki seems to intuitively *get* pro wrestling-their sequences just seamlessly flow. It is like a lucha title match, except wacky lucha holds are replaced with armbars and leglocks, and the use of realistic guard positions almost makes it like a high end jiu jitus exhibition. Almost-because the match retains a certain flair of catch wrestling you'd want a Fujiwara match to have, in that how they utilize their joints to put pressure on their opponents makes for a significant aspect of the match, but they also pull guard, block transitions, use ankle picks and so on, giving the match its own unique feel rather than just copying an old style. Fujiwara tones down the goofiness-there's no ramming his head against the pose or cracking jokes, but he can't help but fake a handshake and blast Aoki with some headbutts (which looked great, and way better than some he was doing 25-30 years ago, no holding his opponent's head with one hand, just a quick straight motion). Not something I'd imagine people who aren't big on the style would be blown away with, but I doubt NEW is gonna for them anyway. ****
  7. I didn't have any expectations coming into this but it was such a weird match-up I just had to watch it. I'm sure everyone remembers the well known story of Kobashi coming into ROH expecting nobody to know him and being ready to play a generic stereotypical heel-that's kinda what happened with Kojima here. Some of his offence really did look more suited for lucha than traditional jwres-some of it due to the lack of stiffness, some of due to how cartoony his mannerisms were. Kojima did manage to get heat for whatever that's worth, but watching him cosplay Dr.Wagner Jr. in playing to the crowd more than doing anything wasn't interesting. Structurally the match wasn't much-Kojima's control segments consisted of doing stomps, yelling and occasionally doing a move, Hechicero would get on offence and do a couple of cool moves before a generic transition into more Kojima stuff, and this match really was a stark reminder of how bad a lot of Kojima's stuff looks. Weak chops, generic stomps, lazy attempts of legwork, weak lariats, he may have the weakest rolling elbow of all time.....I mean it's not like he's bad or there haven't been instances where he's worked through it but he's not exactly a guy whose lazier performances you'd crave for. I'm way bigger on Hechicero's pain by the numbers stuff but he was not in a mood for a carry job. **1/2
  8. This was a match given to me in the secret santo project by migs The Briscoes vs the young bucks roh honor reigns supreme 2017 tag titles 2/3falls So a two out of three falls match with a team of bullet club members vs a team of massive homophobes in roh. This could be really dreadful it has the makings of a really long boring match. First fall: this goes about ten mins, we start off with some back and forth, it is fine then we have a nose to nose stare down which looks silly when the partners join in. One of the young bucks gets worked over for a few mins, complete nothing section of the match no real sustained heat and his comebacks are not good. There is no sympathy elicited. We then quickly move into the finish of this section with the Briscoes going for a doomsday device and the bucks going for the Meltzer driver multiple times. Finish with a roll up by mark Briscoe. This fall was fine it was not all that good but it was not outright terrible as I was fearing. If this was the whole match it may be around **3/4. Fall two, this was completely stupid. This is fought under “lucha rules” but I don’t think it ever started as Jay goes to the outside and gets a mic and asks what is lucha? At this point mark hits the bucks with a chair and the Briscoes get DQ’ed bringing the teams level, WHY? You were already ahead and by what the commentators were saying the Briscoes are the faces so why do this? But on the bright side at least this means the match will be shorter. Fall three No DQ rules: jay hits a running knee to matts head in the corner into a rope hung chair. This is followed by a chair dropkick to the face. Some outside plunder brawling by the Briscoes. The young bucks hit a moonsault off the barricades followed by double apron powerbombs and stereo suicide dives. Chairs to the head of mark with no protection, there are about 7 superkicks in a round on the entrance ramp and then everybody falls down. Strike exchanges in the ring more superkicks, yet more superkicks to Briscoes on their knees. Briscoes come back with belt shots, Tiger driver 98 followed by elbow drop pin broken up by generic white guy bullet club member number 4. Ref down, 450 onto chairs 2 count, more superkicks to more refs, 2 count on more bang four your buck, tomb stone on the floor where nick Jackson tries to do a spike version but misses completely. Meltzer driver got the three. The first fall was meh the second pointless and the third was quite good, it was standard plunder brawling that you would see from someone like Kevin Owens in wwe just with more shots to the head Things took time to set up and there was not any hatred in what they were doing. There was no real sustained heat in this match or really any team that came off as the faces both teams were unlikeable. It was just there but thankfully it did not go anyway near as badly as it could of gone, the plunder stuff really saved this match. In the end maybe ***
  9. The thing about the rope running counters are that they aren't inherently bad-they worked great in 80s/90s All Japan-but you need moves and peril behind them. Naito and Tanahashi did have them-Naito in the Running Low Dropkicks and the Flying Elbow, Tanahashi in the Slingblade. But they opted to not use them for dramatic purposes, and that and the lack of big moves and spamming nearfalls is what made me go "that's it?" when the match ended. I realise these two are never going to do it for some people since they're Keiji Mutoh fanboys and their offence is juniorish in a way some dislike, but I think they structured a very good match that combined the best elements of the matches they worked back in 2010/2011 and the matches they worked now and recently. Tanahashi's character is one who often tries to match his opponents, which is one of the biggest reasons I disliked their 2015 G1 match a lot. It's much more interesting when one is reacting to Naito's character, but one also has to actually have a character to be able to do that. That Tanahashi didn't mimick Naito at all made his taunt after he laid him out at ringside mean much more as you could hear in the pop it got. Naito's character allowed him to to keep his legwork interesting by constantly finding ways to make basic spots fresh and varied-him directing Tanahashi's leg at the referee and using that split second to quickly quick it was brilliant, and I loved the desperate rope pull he did that prevented Tanahashi from hitting the High Fly Flow. Naito's Bridging German where his leg gave out at first but he used his other leg to kick himself back up and hold Tanahashi for the count was a neat detail and something that fits into how they treat limbwork very well. Them exchanging low kicks did look weak but outside of that they handled the mirroring spots surprisingly well. Not the match I'd have expected to most differ from New Japan conventions but I'm glad it did. ***1/2
  10. Ah, Dragon Gate, we meet again. I've always said Dragon Gate was fucking boring, and there wasn't a ton exciting about this match as they move through each section in very obvious fashion, but in total it wasn't half bad at all. I'm kinda surprised this match doesn't seem to have much hype to it, because it had all the ingredients of a modern classic, and did a better job at it than the praised NJPW main eventers. Heck, it may be better than the Dunne/Bate match from the same month that got a bit of talk, because unlike that match it made me actually get into on of the characters. The work here is really solid: all the moves look good and some even have a nice snap to it. Often this merely applies to the big highspots with everything between the spots looking lazy, but there is some nice basic armwork from Kzy in the match, and Susumu nearly chops his head off with a lariat at one point. Kzy looked pretty good in general, getting good sympathy and bumping like a madman spiking himself repeatedly on his head to make Susumu's moves look deadly. Sort of like a leftover T2P worker with some interesting holds and a nice dive. His selling of the neck wasn't flawless, but he did sell it and it wasn't as obvious as Jimmy sold his arm on and off. I didn't get much of a sense of Jimmy Susumu, who had a moveset lifted straight from a Fire Pro edit and not much else beside. Most importantly, they worked this at a healthy 20 minutes instead of 40. I smelt the outcome from the first minute, but they did enough interesting stuff to make me forget about it. You can nitpick this type of match to death, saying it was just a by the numbers indy match with a bunch of half assedly sold limbwork, contrived transitions and big moves thrown out which are not even followed up by cover, but all that's to be expected at this point I guess.
  11. Nothing like watching Virus earning himself a paycheck. You could probably stick him against any half competent dude and get a strong 20 minute match out of it. And that's pretty much what happens here. Prayer doesn't exactly leave a huge impression, occasionally Virus would feed him holds and he'd do rudimentary reversals or try a move of his own. But mostly he was there as the local guy for the fans to rally behind against the nationally recognized master, and get yanked around and stretched for the 20 minutes duration. Virus is skillful enough to sink into tricked out and painful looking submissions on any unsuspecting guy and there was plenty of that to behold. Prayer does get the odd nice run of offense, but the outcome was never in doubt. You may decide whether this kind of match is proof of Virus' greatness or just the standard output of craftsman who knows what he's doing in and out, but no matter what I'm going to enjoy this show.
  12. Look-this is modern wrestling-things aren’t perfect. You’re going to get Edwards popping up and doing an enzuigiri at a time where the match would’ve benefited form some patience and a later transition. You’re going to see some predictable irish whip transitions, and counters (though only one really stood out in this match) where long-term selling is ignored for the immediate pop. But, all things considered, I think they did a very good job of building a match around classic NOAH tropes, sticking to their strengths in striking (Edwards’ chops really have improved significantly) and kicking and letting the match play out and gradually increasing the intensity, adding bigger spots and counters as well as managing to make them mean something by not cramming too much of them as well as creating an interesting narrative around Eddie trying to use Misawa’s big moves instead of just having him hit them all straight away on his first attempt. Nakajima’s current move-set doesn’t really lend itself to nearfall fests well, which is in a way a strength of his matches as they’re more built on him killing of his opponents (him grabbing Edwards’ wrist and proceeding to just mercielssly beat on him was a wonderful moment), and even for a big moment like this they didn’t go nearly overboard, along with smartly timing their kick-outs throghout the match. The big spots resonated, the crowd got into it, good stuff all around. ***3/4
  13. Yehi is the smaller competitor, so he spends a good portion of the early going trying to establish his ground, but WALTER isn't having any of it. He toys with Yehi, tossing him around the ring with ease, employing suplexes and bodyslams to assert his dominance. Yehi is a master of unconventional offense, so he manages to sneak in a few nasty stomps to WALTER's knees, wearing the larger man down. Yehi's offensive creativity never ceases to amaze me. When WALTER tries to take the fight to the outside, Yehi out-wits him by baiting him up to the steps and going right back to those vicious stomps. Back in the ring, WALTER is equally great as an imposing force, showing no signs of fear whenever he's downed by the craftier, more agile opponent. A defenseless Yehi finds himself dangling from the second rope, anticipating WALTER's next move...or so it seems. Yehi, still in a precarious position, unloads with a series of kicks to WALTER's chest, allowing him to summon enough strength to land a superplex for a near-fall. Unfortunately for Yehi, the damage has been done at this point, and WALTER rallies with a big boot and a sleeper hold to pick up the win. It's a shame that the match ended just as the crowd was starting to warm up to it, but Yehi and WALTER managed to tell a compelling story while leaving room for a rematch, and they did it all in slightly north of 15 minutes. I can't complain.
  14. It says a lot about me that this was one of the few 2017 wrestling matches that I could stomach or care to watch. Yes, this sluggish in parts and largely consists of appealing to the crowd. Super Muneco looks really bad, but then, that dude always sucked, and Raton and Pinocho are still absolute workrate machines. Something that is often misunderstood: Formulas don't have to be boring. Yes, you know roughly what's gonna happen, that there will be lots of technico shine and fooling the rudos here, but these guys all have so much stuff they can do and mix up you never know what's exactly gonna happen. So any unexpected turn and twist of events ends up adding to the enjoyment and contributing to the structural whole. Mr. Condor is hilarious in this match, bumping himself and pinching Pinocho in the nose as a dick move. Gallego has a really nice slap and headbutts. Raton is fat as fuck but can still spin around into armdrags and Pinocho is a damn maniac, has always been. Rocky Santana is still referred to as the Mexican Onita in 2017. Yes they're all fat and OLD~! but still able to engross their audience with the same tricks as 27 years ago. I rate this 6,26 stars.
  15. Really fun and concise hoss battle with them smartly using the 5 minutes they had. I'm not the biggest proponent of sound effect strikes but they can work just like anything else and Strowman's were similar to Reigns' and Harper's who do them well too, the WSS weight shift was a smart counter you don't see often since there aren't a lot of wrestlers bigger than Henry that'd make that spot make sense. Henry catchin Strowman's arm when he went for the clubbing blow is something I could see annoying an all knowing WWE binge watcher if the "go for the move again once you've executed it correctly only to get it countered" pattern is super prominent in WWE (I'm not convinced of that, I think they vary things enough to that it isn't really an issue in general, only when someone telegraphs it) but Henry made it look so cool by milking the arm catch and following it up with a great fired up comeback. ***
  16. I must have gone insane, because Kyushu Pro is the last wrestling company in the world that still interests me. ASOSAN has the goofiest mask in the world, but holy shit this dude can work! This was really fun, plenty violent indy wrestling. I really liked the simple opening, with Aso working a basic headlock and really trying to pop little Sasaki's neck, then following up with elbows to the back of the head and neck. Then Aso goes on to just crush Sasaki with nice looking punches, awesome judo throws and lung-squishing sentons and sumo palm strikes. Sasaki, for a guy who wasn't very memorable previously, looked shockingly good selling here, and I really liked his constant leg kicks. He was suffering a bit from 2017isms here or there, thigh slapping and whiffing on a Shining Wizard (he realized that sucked too and just kicked Aso in the head), I also really liked his big slap combo. Aso's jab to the throat was such a simple, violent comeback spot too. This was mighty fine 15+ minute match that works because they kept it simple, always building to a powerbomb or piledriver, and had the selling in place to make the asskicking important.
  17. Hey look... it's indy wrestling of the good type! 2 fat guys with awesome fat guy offense, 1 sleazy junior heel who doesn't get in the way much, 1 guy who is mean and uncaring and 1 guy playing the promising rookie that won't quit. That lineup alone speaks for itself and the match delivered good. Nozaki is apparently a 1 year rookie and seems like a guy to keep an eye on, as he has amazing fatboy look with tree trunk legs and is game to bring the power moves and sell his ass off. His fire was good enough and I loved his big judo slam that got a really nice nearfall for such a basic moves. Genkai is the former Hideyoshi from Osaka Pro, a fact that ultimately means nothing, but he is veteran enough to work plenty stiff and look like he has lost all joy in life. He was pretty thigh-slappy (it's the current year), but he did have a pretty great punch and a brainbuster that looked like a fucking brainbuster, so... eh I liked him. GAINA had an awesome powerslam and elbow drop, but left most of the work to Nozaki... which was probably a good decision. HUB was amusing too, hitting his stuff well (besides one somewhat flubbed coordinated multiman thigh slap near the end) and whipping the fuck out of his opponent with his goofy mask extension. Most importantly the match had really nice atmosphere with the local fans being really into the whole thing. Good to know atleast the Kyushu Pro guys are doing well for themselves.
  18. This match was dumb. By far the most interesting about it coming in was how they were going to reconcile protecting Braun with the likely result of him not winning the title, and they ended up with a solution that accomplished nothing. Braun overpowered Lesnar early on, which was his one advantage over Lesnar (as is over everyone), but we've seen Lesnar in that position a bunch of times already. As soon as Lesnar grabbed the arm on the Double Wristlock and started spamming Germans the idea Strowman was just another challenge for him to overcome started clearing up, and that's exactly what happened. Lesnar's back being "injured" was dumb-an attempt to put over Strowman as causing damage only made the match look more ridiculous, as an injured Lesnar suplexed Strowman numerous times after not being able to do so forever, then did the same thing with the F5 (which he also couldn't hit earlier on). Strowman got his finisher efficency ruined and lost clean in a match where the most memorable thing was Lesnar taking a bump to the outside through the ropes. Blarh. The exhaustion selling after the match is analogous to a cheating spuse promising change-"See! He's tired! Look what it took for him to beat him! We know what we're doing! This is fine! Wait to see where it leads to! It will get better!" **1/2
  19. This was a weird match. The beginning was worth like they were building a proper match with a narrative and proper control segments, with Reigns just dominating Cena, working at a slower pace while Cena was too focused on playing to the crowd and got cut off over and over again. Eventually it just turned into a WWE workrate wankfest, as predictable as ever. If you’ve seen Cena matches like this before you could basically call half the spots, the Diving Legdrop into the Powerbomb, the Five Knuckle Shuffle cut-off followed by a proper one later in the match where Cena does a Fist Drop straight away instead of running the ropes and a billion finishers. To met these Cena matches are in the same vein as the Omega/Okada matches that have been getting a bunch of buzz-I don’t really think the *wrestling* in them is very good, but they do offer something in the flash, big spots and buzz they generate. I did like the executions of many of the spots like the Shoulder Tackle>Punch counter and Reigns was really good at convincing you he was gonna hit a Clothesline, punch or whatever and was not just setting up for an AA or whatever. And I loved the finish, Reigns just hitting a quick 1-2 combo was masterful. Still, for a workrate match like this to be anything more than an itsy bitsy fun watch while you grab a snack you’d want it to not just be spamming big moves and sequences in predictable fashion (is there anyone who didn’t see Reigns hitting a Spear once Cena cleared both tables? or the AA counter to the Spear? or the last ten matches where the same “Big Match” structure has been beaten to death so much), that’s sub-1998 All Japan guys sleepwalking through a Korauken 6 man tag effort. ***
  20. After an incredible 2016, Black Terry still just keeping on giving. Another great match against a youngster filled with excellent storytelling, slick matwork and intense exchanges.
  21. Really great opener. Some convincing near falls that the crowd bough, and a nice Frye/Akiyama tribute trading strikes. I was worried that Gargano forgot about selling the arm during the match, but right on cue he started selling it again. Johnny Gargano may be the best babyface in the world right now. I enjoy Almas' work more than many, and he held his own in the match. The finish was the distraction from Almas' manager at ringside throwing a t-shirt at Gargano, which was a little bit cheap for my liking, however, it plays into Almas' character. ***1/2
  22. This show aired on a two week delay, the same day the show took place (July 17th) bjw held their biggest show of the year in sumo hall. On that show Ishikawa showed up to do colour commentary for the second half of the show he had a huge amount of damage to his right eye that made the wait for this show and match even more agonising. The match as expected was super stiff and really heated. There was a split crowd as these two monsters clobbered each other for 19 1/2 minutes for our enjoyment. The work all the way through was snug and visceral. Finishing with the incredible sight of ishikawa doing a splash mountain powerbomb on suwama and the giant slam. This match also features a great moment where late on Suwama tried for a strike exchange but is easily beaten and does some great jelly legs selling. This match is another feather in the cap of Ishikawa as he continues to increase his claim on wrestler of the year. ****1/4 on a level with the Jake lee match but slightly below the kento match from three months ago.
  23. This match felt like a more condensed version of their CC match from earlier this year, that was short in itself at around 12m. This match goes eight and a half and is hot all the way through with a great sold out crowd fully behind Joe. The story is, much like the CC match, about Joe working kento's back via clubbing blows, Boston crabs and some of the best Irish whips you will see all year into the corner. Kento sells this work really well but here is where the problem with the short time comes in. He has been worked over but then makes a quick comeback around 5 mins in, they do a few counters before kento wins with the shutdown German. Him coming back so quickly felt rushed due to time constraints and it felt too easy. After the match doering expressed his desire for a triple crown shot in the future but this match made him look a bit too easy to beat for him to earn such a big match. Kento has beaten him twice this year why should he offer him a championship match if he wins his belt back as expected at sumo hall. Small gripes aside this was a very well worked big guy Vs little guy match with a hot crowd. A small way below the cc match at ***3/4.
  24. Jo and Okuda cut a classic "we're not done with each other yet, but we're teaming up to face the invaders" promo before the match and proceed to absolutely deliver. A great coming out performance for them, and a wild, chaotic tag team brawl I'd expect more from WWC of whatever indy decides to book LA Park, but it is back in Korauken and suddenly the days of Tarzan Goto blasting people don't feel so long ago. The key here is the modern puro strike exchange-usually a dreadful sight as two people exchange strikes for x amount of time. There are several differences here which make it work. There's a hierarchy-Jo and Okuda are severely outclassed. Murakami and Sato take their shots, but they can't afford to take shots back. The stubborness and agression in Jo and Okuda's performances really shakes things up-they keep getting up as fast as they can, desperately striking away, blindsighting and double teaming Sato and Murakami every chance they get. The consistency and dedication in their performances successfully creates the illusion that, once they do go down, it's not because it's "what you're supposed to do after losing a strike exchange", but because they really have been terribly overwhelmed. Sato and Murakami deliver the beating you'd want from this type of match-Murakami might as well have time traveled back in 2001, he looke like the best wrestler in the world here, just throwing ungodly punching combinations, wicked uppercuts, nearly killing people by hitting reckless Harai Goshis. Sato's forearms, headbutts and knees were on point as well, and the suit and giant tatoos make them look like a convincing yakuza pair. ****1/4
  25. Similar structure to some of the recent Nakajima title defences, a little chain wrestling, some brawling outside and then the match starts proper. The weight Nakajima puts behind his kicks never ceases to impress me-they're so incredibly sharp, it really shows he is a black belt karateka. This match needed more focus-there weren't really any control segments, and the only things setting it apart from just *getting stuff in* was them building stuff around countering each other's signature maneuvers. And some of the counters were good (Nakajima's particularly-Kotoge's signature spots are very unique in their elaborateness, and the stark contrast of Nakajima just cutting them off with quick head kicks made for a nice visual), but they didn't properly organize it so that moments when those moves were hit later on would feel special, they'd just try them for the second time and be successful. Kotoge's move-set is still quite juniorish and he doesn't have much heavyweight offence other than the headbutt, but that's not necessarily an issue, and after thinking about it I realised even if some of NOAH's heavyweights are smaller there's no one really working like that now other than him. They got the crowd invested without forced nearfalls (in fact the finishing stretch was really minimalistic) so I reckon this is a continuation of positive crowd conditioning. ***1/4