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  1. Now we're back to 2013 AJPW...well Diamond Ring with the two top matches involving AJPW top talent. Its their 08/31/13 show. Akira Hokuto Produce ~ Women's Pro-Wrestling Special Tag Match: Yumiko Hotta & Nanae Takahashi vs Natsuki*Taiyo & Sareee - Clipped here and there but not much really. Good to see Joshi again especially with familiar faces like Hotta & Takahashi to a lesser extent. The younger and smaller team were new to me but they were a lot of fun. This was fun stuff! Hotta and Nanae blasted their opponents in the head a couple times and it was great - in true Joshi fashion. Diamond Ring vs. Voodoo Murders ~ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya Return Match: TARU, "brother" YASSHI & Kengo vs Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya - Very much an Indie 6 man mid card match where you get a little bit of everything but not enough to really identify it as anything other than Good. I think a tag match may have been better. Also clipped a tad so was disorienting with 6 guys fighting at times. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki - Here we have the first of two AJPW related matches. This was a great match. Kota Ibushi was the odd man out as I don't think there's much history with him & the others. Stylistically I don't think he fit as well. He is very good at what he does but thankfully he's not in there a bunch. The heart of the match is Burning vs Nakajima especially Kotaro vs Nakajima. Kotaro was on fire here and Nakajima wasn't far behind. Kanemaru brought his A game as well but is much subtle (like a Shiro Koshinaka or even Christopher Daniels) so you just expect him to be flawless and keep moving the story/match along. That said, this was the match I'd hoped for with a very different finish that was fantastic. I'd probably put this at **** or so. Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara - A near classic match with stories weaving in and out. Kensuke vs Suwama, Suwama former Voodoo Murder member years ago seemingly dealing with the devil teaming up with V.M member Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki against his rivals Omori & Suwama, Miyahara opposing his mentor Kensuke and seemingly hating Akiyama because he exists. And Akiyama is this decade's Tenryu. And the action backs all of that up! ------ This was a enjoyable little diversion having the Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring guys mix it up with the AJPW roster. The two matches that needed to be awesome delivered. Only a few more shows/matches to go. Adding: Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) - I accidentally watched this after the Diamond Ring show. I think everything is like mid 90's AJ and if I watch anything out of order, it will spoil it. Anyone else like that? Of course it didn't matter that I watched this chronologically out of order! and in a way the 6-man Diamond Ring match made this better. I think that tag match is a good build up to this title fight. That aside, this delivered in just about every way. This was the culmination of Suwama vs Go and I feel the culmination of AJ vs Burning as well. Suwama had held off Akiyama and delayed Go but could he actually stop Shiozaki? This was the HARD hitting title fight you & I wanted to see. I legitimately think they took each other to their limit. Shiozaki was bleeding from the nose and Suwama from the chest. Both wrestlers were spent by the final bell. Neither have looked so battered all year. I would have really been thrilled to see some cleverness in terms of strategy (kayfabe work a body part) or a few nifty sequences towards the end. It wasn't that kind of match though. It was like a Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu or Kensuke Sasaki match where its about endurance and pushing through the pain & exhaustion onto victory. That's what kind of wrestler Suwama is so he's not going to get cute & intricate at the end. Shiozaki can hang with that style. I can certainly appreciate that! I'm thinking this is probably the best singles match of AJ 2013 so far. Its a classic heavyweight title fight. Its not an all time classic but I want to see their next meeting and that's good business. Super awesome bonus! Gaora's YouTube channel has this up for your viewing pleasure. Skip the first tem minutes to get straight to match or sit through that to get some clips and backstory. You'll see see some stuff I've talked about in previous posts. And because I am all about spreading the wrestling love, here it is: Thanks for reading!
  2. Let's take the way back machine to 1983! Shoehi Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta vs Tiger Jeet Singh/Umanoseke Ueda (07/26/83): Before the introductions, Tiger was so enraged that Ueda and young boys needed to hold him back. That's really cool. I miss madman heels in wresting. This was a good match but Tiger's antics while on the ring apron were really the most memorable moments. The final portion when this spilled out to the floor was quite enjoyable but the heels dominated too much. Their offense was boring. That's all good it was still a fun time while eating lunch. ----- Dory Funk Jr. vs Stan Hansen (11/28/83): Oh man, this is a match-up I'll never get tired of. Funks vs Hansen & Brody is just timeless stuff like Tenryu vs Jumbo. Perhaps its because this stuff is the foundation of my puro watching (along with Jumbo/Tenryu and 80's AJW). But the stuff just looks so physical and natural. Its not complicated. It looks and feels like professional wrestling should. I mean this is not that far off from top flight wrestling from the 50's. Maybe you can argue that with me but this match is no different. Its just two legends in the ring putting on another great match in their series. Terry is at ringside as is Brody. Do yourself a favor and watch this match. ----- There's a few guys that I wanted to see more of from the 250 list on my AJ Classics dvds so, I definitely will be doing more of these posts. Looking to get back to AJ 2013 first though and maybe get the year done before the start of June & the mid year Best Match Watched contenders. Thanks for reading!
  3. KinchStalker

    Motoshi Okuma

    Motoshi Okuma Real name: Motoshi Okuma Professional names: Motoshi Okuma, Kumagoro Okuma, Great Kuma Life: 12/18/1941-12/27/1992 Born: Soka, Saitama, Japan Career: 1962-1992 Height/Weight: 179cm/130kg (at peak) (5’8”/286 lbs.) Signature moves: Body splash, headbutt Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling Titles: NWA World Tag Team [NWA Mid-America] (1x, w/Shinya Kojika), NWA Western States Tag Team [Western States Sports] (2x, w/Masio Koma), NWA North American Heavyweight [International Wrestling (Halifax)] (2x), ESA International Tag Team [see previous] (2x, w/Geeto Mongol), All Asia Tag Team [AJPW] (4x, w/The Great Kojika) Summary: One of the most loyal men in AJPW history, Motoshi Okuma had a long and distinguished career as a midcarder. His three-decade run peaked as one half of the Gokudō Combi team in the late 1970s. Upon graduation from junior high, Motoshi Okuma entered sumo in May 1957. He wrestled for the Isegahama stable until retiring in 1962, after which he entered the JWA. Assigned as Giant Baba's second valet, after Masio Koma, Okuma debuted that June against Motoyuki Kitazawa. He would become well remembered by his peers for his sturdy constitution; he claimed to have been drinking since he was 13, as his parents had run a liquor store. Okuma was one of many JWA wrestlers who received a ring name from Toyonobori: Kumagoro. He would be a rare case who actually reverted back to his real name, though this itself was encouraged by an outside factor: namely, Yomiuri Giants player Motoshi Fujita, who pitched his team to a Japan Series victory in 1963. (Okuma was a huge Giants fan.) The most infamous incident of Okuma’s early career came on November 28, 1965, when he was on tour in South Korea. During a singles match against Jang Yong-Cheol, Okuma went off-script and applied a half-crab at a legitimately painful angle, upon which ten of Jang’s disciples stormed the ring and beat him. The “Great Bear Lynching Incident” spurred a police investigation, and as Jang exposed the business in his complaints, it has been cited as a possible factor in the decline of Korean professional wrestling. Okuma left on his first expedition in 1967, where he would form a team with Shinya Kojika in Georgia and southern Tennessee. That October, the two won tag gold in the latter territory, but Okuma’s excursion would end early. According to Kojika, the homesickness weighed heavily on his partner. Whenever they saw a Toyota on the road, they would stare at it until it was out of sight, and Okuma asked Motoko Baba to send them records by Kazuko Matsuo and Frank Nagai. Okuma returned alone in 1968, as he had lost a significant amount of weight; Kojika would remain overseas until 1970. In 1971, Okuma got a second chance. He would work in the Florida and Amarillo territories from that spring through autumn 1972, most notably teaming with Koma to title success in the latter territory. It was there that they reunited with Baba, who asked them to join him in a new enterprise. Both men would accept, and they would be loyal to Baba for the rest of not just their careers, but their lives as well. Okuma returned home to support All Japan Pro Wrestling in its first two years. He and Koma reunited occasionally in its first year or so, but Koma retreated into the undercard and concentrated on his coaching role as the Destroyer and Jumbo Tsuruta joined their ranks. Okuma found himself somewhat lost in the shuffle due to the 1973 influx of ex-JWA talent, and volunteered to leave on a third expedition in 1974. In the Maritimes, he won the only singles gold of his career, defeating Leo Burke and the Beast for two short reigns with the NWA North American Heavyweight title. He also continued his tag success through two short runs alongside Geepo Mongol. Returning to AJPW in February 1975, Okuma revived his tag team with Kojika, now called the Gokudō Combi. In the following years, the team would refuse to wrestle against each other during the annual Champion Carnival, which was criticized as unprofessional by some in the media. They would get its big break the following year, when AJPW revived the All Asia tag titles. (This was in response to the announcement of NJPW’s own version of the title, which was won by Seiji Sakaguchi & Strong Kobayashi that August and was dropped fairly quickly.) Kojika had been one-half of the final All Asia champs in the JWA, alongside Gantetsu Matsuoka. On March 26, 1976, the two won the belts in Seoul against Hong Mu-Ung and Oh Dae-Gyun (Oh Tae Kyun). Two days later, they successfully defended them in a draw against the Great Kusatsu & Mighty Inoue, at the AJPW vs IWE show in the Kuramae Kokugikan. Although their first reign ended in October against Ted & Jerry Oates, and the belts were then won by Akihisa Takachiho & Samson Kutsuwada, Gokudō would return to the top of the division in a then-rare native-to-native title switch on June 16, 1977. This second reign saw them defend against native teams exclusively. On September 9, 1977, they gave Genichiro Tenryu his first title shot as one half of the Fresh Handsome Combi with Rocky Hata, and on November 3, they fought off Animal Hamaguchi & Goro Tsurumi. Three days later, though, Gokudō lost on IWE turf against Hamaguchi & Inoue, beginning a three-month chase that helped establish Animal & Mighty as one of Japan’s top tag teams. They won them back on February 1978, but this third reign would be Okuma & Kojika’s least interesting. They held no defenses, for which the belts were stripped from them after six months. On May 31, 1979, they defeated the Kiwis to begin their final title reign. This one would last nearly two years, and outside of one defense against Tenryu & Takachiho in November 1979, their challengers were exclusively gaikokujin. David & Kevin von Erich finally defeated them on May 23, 1981, to serve as transitional champions towards Akio Sato & Takashi Ishikawa. Gokudō continued to work together frequently until Kojika’s first retirement in 1986. Meanwhile, Okuma’s television appearances in the mid-80s saw him transition into a job guy in main-event tags. The late 80s often saw Motoshi work as an undercarder, most famously wrestling Kenta Kobashi in his official debut. As the decade drew to its close, though, Okuma found a new calling in the comedic six-man tags. A charter member of the “villainous” Akuyaku Shokai faction, Okuma consistently wrestled against his old senior Baba in his last years. Finally, on December 4, 1992, Okuma received what would be the morbid distinction of being the last opponent which Andre the Giant defeated. Andre pinned him in the six-man on the last show of the year, and it would be their last match. Okuma died of acute renal failure on December 27, exactly one month before Andre himself died in his sleep. Kyohei Wada on Okuma, 2020: He had been Baba's assistant since his days in Japan Pro Wrestling, and he was a mess. He was a heavy drinker, so he would go to Baba's house, drink all the expensive foreign whiskey, and shout, "Hey Motoko, do you have any more liquor in this house?” Motoko would laugh and say, "It can't be helped because he's a bear.” Baba took good care of him. When he went to the countryside, he got drunk and befriended the old man next to him and made him pay the bill, or suddenly pulled out a food cart and started running, or drank shochu on the beach in Hawaii and got in trouble with the police... More than 40 years ago, he got into a big fight at his wedding. I remember that when he was on a tour of the US, the promoter gave him a schedule, and on a day marked "OFF (holiday)," he was overjoyed and said, "Oh, a match has been scheduled.” He was so excited that he looked for "OFF" on the map. Only Mr. Okuma would do that. When my daughter was six or seven years old, he said, "I have an extra bicycle for you, so I'll take it with me," and he pulled the bicycle from his house in Gotanda to my house in Shirokanedai by himself. He was a person loved by everyone.
  4. KinchStalker

    Rocky Hata

    Rocky Hata Real name: Mitsuo Hata Professional names: Mitsuo Hata, Rocky Hata Life: 9/12/1948-11/27/1991 Born: Akkeshi, Hokkaido, Japan Career: 1972-1986 Height/Weight: 192cm/108kg (6’4”/238lbs.) Signature moves: Side suplex (gutwrench), neckbreaker Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling Titles: NWA World Tag Team [Central States Wrestling] (2x, with Bob Brown) Summary: Rocky Hata was among the most prominent of AJPW’s early midcarders, peaking with his late-1970s run as a supporting wrestler and jobber-to-the-stars. Mitsuo Hata began his athletic career in sumo, joining the Hanakago stable after graduating from junior high. Debuting in January 1965, Hata advanced to the makushita division before retiring in January 1972. He joined the JWA during the post-Inoki malaise and was one of the last wrestlers it produced, debuting that summer alongside fellow ex-sumo Seiei Kimura. Hata was one of the nine wrestlers who remained with the company until its last breath, and who an unenthusiastic Giant Baba was forced by his network to take into All Japan Pro Wrestling afterwards. Hata remained an undercard talent until he received an opportunity for an expedition. In December 1974, when Ken Mantell came to Japan to defend his NWA World Junior Heavyweight title against Jumbo Tsuruta, Mantell took interest in his height, and Baba approved. Hata traveled America for two years, most notably working in the Kansas and Oklahoma territories. Towards the end of his expedition, he even received a pair of CSW tag title reigns alongside “Bulldog” Bob Brown, which saw the two go over Harley Race & Pat O’Connor. Hata reunited with his boss in early 1977, as Baba and a crop of top All Japan wrestlers worked a series of US dates for the apparent primary purpose of showcasing Genichiro Tenryu before his official AJPW debut. He then made his triumphant return for All Japan’s Super Power Series tour, teaming with Tsuruta to defeat Baron von Raschke & Mario Milano in his first match back home. Rechristened Rocky Hata in reference to the hit film of the time, Hata was called the “Japanese American Dream” for his comeback story. For a time, he was the #3 native in All Japan, behind Baba & Tsuruta. For a core fanbase that found Tsuruta difficult to relate to for his push and personality, Hata became a favorite. His popularity perhaps reflected on the company’s failure to build a top wrestler from the bottom up, something which they arguably did not do until Mitsuharu Misawa. Hata settled into an early supporting role as the partner of Genichiro Tenryu. Dubiously dubbed the “Fresh Handsome Combi”, they entered the 1977 Real World Tag League together, and Tenryu’s first title matches were All Asia shots alongside Hata. At that point, Hata was considered the superior wrestler of the two. At the 1977 Tokyo Sports Awards, Hata was AJPW’s winner of the Effort Award, alongside NJPW’s Riki Choshu and the IWE’s Goro Tsurumi. Hata remained relatively prominent as a supporting wrestler and jobber-to-the-gaikokujin-stars through the next couple years. In the 1979 Tokyo Sports show, Hata lost to Seiji Sakaguchi in the only true AJPW vs. NJPW singles match booked on the card. Even at his peak, though, Hata was always fighting for TV time with the likes of Kojika & Okuma’s All Asia champion duo, and Tiger Toguchi essentially took his spot in the second half of 1979. Outside of an untelevised All Asia title shot with Takashi Ishikawa in early 1983, Hata’s role receded in the early decade. It was around this time, though, that Hata began to develop a comedic streak. He and referee Kyohei Wada crafted a reliable routine (sadly not seen in circulating footage) that established the referee’s personality in contrast to his senior Joe Higuchi, famously culminating in a bit where Hata attempted to toss Wada out of the ring…only for Wada to do a tiger feint/619 to transfer the momentum and remain in the ring. While the NJPW undercard matches between Don Arakawa and Haruka Eigen likely beat Hata to the punch in terms of comedic focus (and elements of such had been in puroresu for decades), Hata still anticipated the comedic tradition that All Japan’s older talent would develop in later years. As far as the world knew at the time, Hata retired due to an internal disease after wrestling his last match in November 1986. Some thirty-five years later, though, Tenryu shed light on his old friend’s late career in a web column. According to him, the real cause of Hata’s decline was domestic troubles, as Mitsuo became unable to see his children and eventually began living in All Japan’s dojo. Spiraling into alcoholism, his work and condition deteriorated until Baba advised him to retire. After this, Hata worked for a time as a Nagano-based promoter, but “things happened, and he became a drunkard”. The Japanese fanzine Showa Puroresu recounts an instance where Hata appeared at an AJPW show, and shocked fans with his emaciated appearance. He died of acute renal failure in late 1991, which was chalked up to diabetic complications.
  5. A fun match but not an all time classic or anything, really brought down by Jumbo's lackluster performance. Interesting opening with them teasing some bigger moves and stealing each other's signature stuff, the graplling wasn't much but there were some interesting holds, the matchw was really made by them smacking the shit out of each other. I really dislike the way Jumbo sells immediate impact, it feels like something I'd see from a modern indy guy and all I can think of when he does are countless debates about limbwork on DVDVR re: Tanahashi title matches from 2009, I think it's overly expressive for japanese wrestling and don't think it enhances the match in any way. The big bombs were fun but the nearfalls on them weren't very convincing (it was too obvious they were gonna go for rope breaks). On the other hand you get awesome stuff like Tenryu pulling out a surprise Small Package and a huge German Suplex, great, dramatic counters that got great pops. There was some legwork here but Jumbo didn't sell it at all, actually he reacted to it by doing a bunch of enzuigiris which felt totally out of character for him, it was interesting when he did it in the beginning of the match to tease Tenryu but by the time he did a third one I was completely sick of them. Finish was very interesting and dramatic though I do wish they hadn't done the legwork as it felt the finish was more of an end result of accumulated and a coincidence than the legwork finally coming into play. 3+ star-ish.
  6. KinchStalker

    Takao Kuramochi

    Takao Kuramochi Profession: Commentator (PBP) Real name: Takao Kuramochi Professional name: not applicable Life: 1/2/1941- Born: Mitaki, Tokyo, Japan Career: 1972-1990 Promotions: All Japan Pro Wrestling Summary: Takao Kuramochi called All Japan Pro Wrestling for almost twenty years and remains one of puroresu’s best remembered play-by-play men. A graduate of Waseda University’s law department, Takao Kuramochi joined Nippon Television as an announcer in 1964. When NTV began airing AJPW eight years later, he was recommended as an announcer by Kazuo Tokumitsu. Kuramochi gradually took over lead broadcast duties from Tokumitsu and Ichiro Shimizu. By 1978, which is the first year of AJPW television that mostly still circulates today, he had settled into the head position. Kuramochi and reporter-commentator Takashi Yamada were the core duo of All Japan broadcasts for many years. In a 2022 column, Tokyo Sports reporter-turned-commentator Soichi Shibata praised Kuramochi & Yamada’s “rhythmic parroting” as a memorable combination to this day. Unlike his TV Asahi counterpart Ichiro Furutachi, who was informed on angles in advance, Kuramochi states that his reactions were genuine. Even in the case of May 2, 1980, which saw him attacked by the Sheik during a prolonged postmatch brawl against Abdullah the Butcher, Takao claims that only Baba and producer Akira Hara would have known about the plan. (Nippon Television declined to air the match for many years, while Kuramochi received a ¥200,000 bonus from the Babas.) Kuramochi also differed from Furutachi in his approach. Ichiro’s ten-year tenure for World Pro Wrestling set the template for the “screaming announcer”, a wildly successful style which anticipated later play-by-play men such as Kuramochi successor Kenji Wakabayashi. In contrast, Kuramochi preferred to convey his excitement through accelerating his speech to match the tone of the moment, allowing himself to be passionate but not histrionic. Kuramochi’s style may not have transcended language barriers in the manner that Furutachi and his successors could at their best, but that is hardly a fair metric to hold him against. Even if he may not have had a personal passion for wrestling, belonging more to a generation of television announcers that saw wrestling as a steppingstone to a job that they really wanted, he is very fondly remembered by his native audience. As far as I can tell without being able to understand him myself, that is justified. Kuramochi retired from the program in 1990 to take a job at the network’s business division. He received a warm farewell at the March 6 Budokan show. While he took a job at parent company Yomiuri Shimbun a few years later, Kuramochi continued to work in the television industry until his 2001 retirement.
  7. KinchStalker

    Takashi Yamada

    Takashi Yamada Profession: Commentator (Color), Reporter Real name: Takashi Yamada Professional name: not applicable, save for various pen names Life: 5/24/1933-9/8/1998 Born: Kitami, Hokkaido, Japan Career:1967-1989? (as commentator) Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling Summary: Takashi Yamada was one of puroresu’s most reliable commentators in a two-decade career for Nippon Television. Takashi Yamada was an eight-year veteran of Tokyo Sports when he debuted as a commentator in November 1967. Yamada would spend the next two decades working as an assigned reporter and color commentator. Yamada was not the first wrestling reporter to moonlight as a commentator, but his ability to provide background and overseas information on foreign talent codified the role of the reporter-commentator in puroresu broadcasting. His work for AJPW is his greatest legacy, as besides announcer Takao Kuramochi he was likely the most consistent broadcast presence across its first fifteen years. Takashi’s husky voice will be familiar to any connoisseur of Showa period All Japan, although from personal observation, his voice is sometimes mistaken for Giant Baba’s by Western viewers. While it is hard to find classic calls from Japanese announcers the same way that one might learn about famous soundbites from American ones, Yamada’s shocked reaction to Stan Hansen’s presence in the 1981 Real World Tag League final has been cited by online fans as particularly memorable. Yamada accompanied the promotion on tour, which leads us to another part of his function. His writing was constantly read by active fans of All Japan, whether they knew it or not. This ranged from articles printed in tour programs to contributions to puroresu magazines, which often saw him uncredited or under a pen name. (These can generally be identified by the presence of one of the characters in his family name, 山田.) Yamada was phased out around the end of the Showa period. A one-off return for AJPW’s 20th anniversary show would be the end of his broadcasting career. He died of cirrhosis in 1998.
  8. Lets keep on truckin' with AJPW in the summer of 2013. Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13) - One week after a under the radar great show, we get this big match main event. The 4 biggest stars in Akiyama's AJ going head to head. Omori & Akiyama friends and rivals but Suwama & Shiozaki is ace vs ace and a build up to their long awaited Championship confrontation. I think I have their Champion Carnival match as the best singles match of AJPW so far. They are an excellent pairing much like Suwama and Sekimoto were. The 2 out of 3 falls match is something I have been missing in my wrestling lately (In fact Suwama & Shiozaki have a 2/3 falls match in July but can't find that online and I don't have the DVD...can't get 'em all ). But anyhow, this was one of the matches that got me into watching post-2000's wrestling and here's my write-up from the start of this very blog in 2018: "Here we have one of the few reminents from Muto AJPW, ace SUWAMA and a cast off from Misawa's AJPW exodus in Omori up against NOAH's ace and Kobashi/Misawa pupil Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama. Let's all remember that Akiyama is former tag partners, champs and friends with Omori. Akiyama got to ride the NOAH wave in the 2000's while Omori was surfing relatively low tide in Zero-1 and washed up back in AJPW like driftwood. This was a battle for a lot. Omori had remade himself in partnership with Manabu Soya however. He was not someone to be kicked around anymore. This was Omori's home, AJPW had been through alot in that time and SUWAMA had been there and is still there. This isn't just his home, it's his kingdom. He had outlasted them all. Akiyama wants back in? Akiyama had been gone for 13 years. Ok that's fine but he has to earn it. Shiozaki on the other hand has no place in AJ. He's an outsider through and through. This was a battle. A beautifully long match that harkened back to the classics of AJPW '92-'96. The grappling, striking, layout and pacing were conservative. Therfore, the contest was more organic in its story progression and the escalation of aggression. The 2/3 falls usage was brilliant and perhaps is what made it so damn good. It provided the wrestlers the framework to bring the level of excitement up and down, to be able to rest the fans energy only to build it back double fold. Classic Match! " One thing that I omitted is that Kawada was in attendance and Akiyama used the Stretch Plum on Omori at one point - hell yes! Everything else I can fully agree upon now as well. This is a classic heavyweight tag team match and is as important to the heart and soul of All Japan as their heavyweight singles matches. Now on to the my next DVD, 08/17/21. Masanobu Fuchi vs. Masao Inoue - skipped this KENSO vs. Kazushi Miyamoto - Really good yet simple match. Way better than a #2 match usually is. Just an easy watch. I like Miyamoto in this spot...he's a good addition to the undercard. ----- Argenis & Drago vs. Atsushi Aoki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Fun match, didn't agree with the outcome but that's as a fanboy Liked Drago's execution more than Argenis. Joe Doering vs. Kotaro Suzuki - Under 10 minute David-and-Goliath match. It was something special that I don't see very often anymore. And I don't think we see it shown very well when we do since big guys starting doing dives and shooting star moves. Doering is improving in the last 2 matches. I got to think Muto-AJPW wasn't using him well and his heart wasn't in it. Very good match! ----- Akebono vs. SUSHI - I'm not watching this. Its a waste of SUSHI. Still good for him being 2nd from the top match. Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Suwama & Takao Omori - Classic match, these two teams have great chemistry. Here they go on to have another must see encounter. This is only one fall but just as exciting as their previous bout. Everyone did well but this but Shiozaki's match. He really showed so much as a performer but also as an athlete. I can't wait for the title fight between he and Suwama! I didn't write as much as the tag match above but this was just as awesome. ----- This DVD/show was another very easy watch capped off with a thrilling main event.The next installment should be a Diamond Ring show that features AJPW and essentially introduces Kento Miyahara to the equation & builds the Shiozaki/Suwama tension. Thanks for reading!
  9. Yeah, we're back on track and are in summer of 2013 and the big Wrestle -1 exodus has happened and the AJPW roster is lean and mean. Its Akiyama's Burning stable and a few guys who wanted to stay on like Suwama, Omori, KENSO, Joe Doering & Sushi. From there they are going to have freelancers...you know I think Masa Fuchi is still on as well. And to be frank I'm only going to miss Kaz Hiyashi, Koji Kanemoto & Minoru. They lost some big names like Akebono, Masa Funaki & Sanada but they weren't setting the world on fire every show. This small roster with freelance help is what I was thinking they should do with ROH. Have your core and spice it up and fill in gaps with folks from the outside. Anyhow let's talk AJPW: First off is the championship match with Suwama defending against Jun Akiyama. Which is June 30th so not sure if the exodus started but for our purposes it has. The future is centered around Burning in one way or another. Jun Akiyama vs Suwama (06/30) - This was a great title fight but did feel a bit safe. I understand that though. They are setting Shiozaki as Suwama's true rival yet reminding us Akiyama is the general of Burning. So this is more a story of Burning vs Suwama...and that eventually the Triple Crown will be in their possession. Still its out the for free so if you're just watching the BIG matches, go check it out! So now we're on to the 07/21 show. Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs MAZADA - 11 minutes of fun, energetic Jr. wrestling. Sometimes funny but always interesting, this was a good start to the show. MAZADA with an eye rake. Timeless shortcut! ----- Kazuchi Miyamoto vs Masao Inoue - 8-9 minutes of fun wrestling. Again a little bit of comedy but rooted in good wrestling. Miyamoto who isn't small does a Swanton Bomb - very cool! Joe Doering vs KENSO - Here we get into the meat of the card with two upper midcard favorites. This was very good stuff. KENSO gave meaning to 'knife edge chop' by cutting open Joe's chest during an exchange. Both guys looked good and Joe employed an attack-the-leg strategy that was way deeper than I thought he could go. Had KENSO really sold that in the final minutes this would have been great. No complaints here though. ----- Takao Omori & Hikaru Sato vs Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki - This was the Aoki & Sato show and I didn't know that I would dig it so much! Shoot style purist probably will scoff at this but seeing these two go at it was great. When they both re-entered the ring with their boots & kick pads off, I was pumped. Akiyama & Omori were perfect in their roles. The action was heated, the shots were stiff, and Sato & Aoki were selling the damage in a believable shoot type of way. The cherry on top was the final few minutes. Sato vs Aoki is something I want to see more of. This was a great match. Aoki (RIP) and Sato mid-beating the crap outta each other. ----- Suwama & SUSHI vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki - Going into this, the focus is on Shiozaki vs Suwama and building up a title fight. That stuff is great but little by little this becomes a match about Sushi hanging in there with champion level opposition. And this isn't some walk in the park, he's clearly bleeding from the mouth. But he will not quit or be beaten down! And he's got the Triple Crown champ at his side. This just becomes one helluva tag match. Early on I thought the previous match should have been the headliner but this won me over. Rightful place on the card and match of the night. Near classic match. ----- This was an EASY show to watch & enjoy. 5 matches that were all unique. The one similarity was each made everyone look great especially the lesser known guys like MAZADA, Miyamoto, Hikaru Sato & SUSHI. The former AJ talent was hardly missed. Everyone stepped up and I'm excited once again for AJPW in 2013. Well worth the $3 from your friendly Internet Video Provider *wink wink* Thanks for reading! Stay safe folks!
  10. So here's the remainder of my 2003 Highspots DVD. This isn't really why I was interested in the comp but heck these look fun and are outside of what I've been watching lately. Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Yang vs. Fuego (Amazing Red) & Super Dragon (01/13/03) - This is fun to see all of these guys in one ring especially an AJPW. A very nice spot match...very early 2000's vibe in every way. Not necessarily lucha- puro as the following matches but probably as lucha as I've seen in an AJPW ring. Anthony W. Mori, Takuya Sugawara, & Taiji Ishimori vs. Milano Collection A.T., Masato Yoshino, & Shuji Kondo (01/19/03) - Wow, everyone is a baby! This is high speed lucharesu and is a nice bit of nostalgia for someone who gets a kick out of the Dragon Gate 6 mans in ROH. Very fun stuff. ----- Ultimo Dragon & Kaz Hayashi vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero (01/19/03) - I've seen this before but it really struck me as something special this time. Its all action lucharesu fireworks that gave me tingles like 90's Michinoku Pro. Every move was crisp, guys were bumping like crazy and even in the Tokyo Dome fans were audibly excited. This isn't the best Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero match I have seen but man it was an exciting one. I'll call this a great match. ----- Milano Collection A.T., Brother Yasshi, & Shuji Kondo vs. Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi, & Anthony W. Mori (01/27/03) - A slight step down from their match about but felt different as there was a bit more comedy, there was 6 sided ring and a smaller yet loyal audience (as opposed to the Dome show audience from above). Still a load of fun and non stop excitement. Although I only know Anthony W. Mori from Fire Pro Returns, I really want to see more of this dude. Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Osaka Pro Tag Team Champions Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03) Holy cow! Where did this come from? Only know Liger. Murahama maybe I saw a couple times years ago and the Osaka Pro team I remember from Fire Pro Returns (still the best one due to the pre-made roster). But seriously I did not know this match would pack such a punch! This is top shelf lucharesu. Quick action, lucha partner swaps, liberal time given for partners in the ring but still a little slower, stronger emphasis on stiffness, 1 fall with a classic escalation of drama and action. Part of me wants to call this a classic because it was so exciting and unexpected. And there's part of me that wants to dial that rating back a tad for the same reasons. So instead I'll say if you're a fan of Jr. style tag matches, you'll want to see this. ----- From the star ratings on the box, I've under rated & over rated a couple of these. I'm OK with that and totally stand by my opinions. These matches coupled with the NOAH matches make this a pretty great compilation. I recommend checking some of this out anyway you can. Highspots has discontinued all of their DVDr comps but this might be available still on their UK site and people have it on eBay. Or do your internet stuff. Anyhow thanks for reading!
  11. KinchStalker

    Apollo Sugawara

    Apollo Sugawara Real Name: Nobuyoshi Sugawara Professional Names: Nobuyoshi Sugawara, Kim Korea, Apollo Sugawara Life: 2/10/1954- Born: Oga, Akita, Japan Career: 1979-2002 Promotions: International Wrestling Enterprise, All Japan Pro Wrestling, SWS, NOW, Tokyo Pro Wrestling (Ishikawa) Height/Weight: 182cm/111kg (6’/244 lbs.) Signature Moves: Samoan Drop Titles: none Summary: Apollo Sugawara was the least accomplished of the final batch of IWE trainees, but he has an interesting legacy as a journeyman wrestler and coach. Nobuyoshi Sugawara was an amateur wrestler in high school, winning a prefectural competition and placing fourth in nationals. Upon his graduation, Sugawara began work at a Chiba shipyard. In 1979, he was recommended to the International Wrestling Enterprise by the owner of his gym, Japan Bodybuilding Association president and IWE referee Mitsuo Endo. Joining in May 1979, Sugawara debuted in September. Alongside Hiromichi Fuyuki and Masahiko Takasugi, Sugawara was one of the last wrestlers the IWE produced before their dojo was burned down in 1980. He claims that he received no salary. Upon the IWE’s closure, all three were taken in by All Japan Pro Wrestling under the wing of Mighty Inoue. This influx helped make the AJPW undercard talent pool the deepest it had ever been, alongside homegrown prospects such as Shiro Koshinaka, Tarzan Goto, and Mitsuharu Misawa. In retrospect, Sugawara has admitted that he never had a chance of getting to the top. In April 1983, Sugawara entered the undercard Lou Thesz Cup tournament. The following September, he traveled to Germany to work for Otto Wanz, alongside fellow IWE alum Goro Tsurumi. As CWA already had billed Tsurumi as the Japanese Goro Tanaka, Sugawara was instead billed as Kim Korea. Upon his return to All Japan, Sugawara joined the reconfigured Kokusai Ketsumeigun, a heel faction of ex-IWE wrestlers headed by Rusher Kimura. It was at this point that he took the Apollo ringname. Sugawara was dismissed in April 1986 alongside Ryuma Go and Masahiko Takasugi. Ostensibly, this was likely done to cut costs after the acquisition of the Calgary Hurricanes: however, Goro Tsurumi claimed in a G Spirits interview that, during dinner one night, Sugawara had denigrated Baba in response to criticism. (Sugawara denies this, claiming he never would have talked back to Baba and that they never even ate together.) Unlike Go and Takasugi, who were hired on a per-tour basis in mid-1987, Sugawara never returned to AJPW. Sugawara’s next involvement in the business was as a coach for Takeshi Puroresu Gundan, a side project of comedian Beat Takeshi (Kitano) which tied into the infamous NJPW angle that introduced Big Van Vader to the latter. Under Sugawara’s guidance, the future Gedo, Jado, and Super Delfin all received their first training, in a ring which Wally Yamaguchi had set up in the basement of his Maniax wrestling merch store. In 1988, Sugawara reunited with Go and Takasugi to form Pioneer Senshi, the first shot in the indie boom. Sugawara and Takasugi wanted to name it Shin Kokusai Puroresu - that is, the new IWE - but Go vetoed this, due to his shame over having taken NJPW's offer in 1978. ("Pioneer" was itself a reference to their former home, which had used the word as tour branding.) Sugawara would only work on Pioneer’s first show in April 1989. Mitsuo Endo would hook Sugawara up with a gig as a wrestler and as Koji Kitao’s personal coach, but he would follow Kitao to SWS. Sugawara’s tenure is best known for a debacle of a match with Minoru Suzuki. (That same night, Kitao would have his infamous incident with John Tenta.) Sugawara remained with SWS until its closure, then bounced along from NOW to Shinsei NOW to Tokyo Pro Wrestling. While he has never officially retired, Sugawara’s last match was for IWA Japan in 2002, in which he tagged with Takasugi to defeat Steve Williams and Gypsy Joe.
  12. Sorry for the delay if you've been waiting for this next entry! As I've mentioned in a couple previous posts, I had to take a rest from watching and writing about the grapple arts. It was nothing too dramatic or even stress related. I think the season changing and wanting to be outside is probably the biggest contributor. I've put on a few pounds over the winter and want to make hiking & skateboarding a priority to get in better shape. Plus I think my anxieties need to get reigned in after a long winter and even longer pandemic so, I think getting out more will help with both. So less time to watch wrestling and less time to blog. Anyhow, I think I'm back in the swing of things and dammit we need to get through the 2013 Champion Carnival..There's some really exciting stuff here! We'll see the 04/27 stuff then move onto 04/29 which are the finals. So without further ado, let's go Go Shiozaki vs Hama - Good match and Hama got a lot of fat-guy offense in. Shiozaki then had to hit him really hard. It went exactly as expected which was OK for everyone. KAI vs Joe Doering - Quick but fun match...maybe 7 minutes long. Kinda bummed about that time but what they did was really good. *** type stuff Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki & Aoki vs Minoru Tanaka, Kanemoto & Fuke - The best ongoing series of matches takes a dip here. This was as much cruise control wrestling that I've seen from any of them in 2013. Nonetheless Minoru & Kotaro lit things up for the final portion and had a great finish. That elevated this to about *** which is what I typify as a fun match. Suwama vs Takao Omori - This started with some nice wrestling that builds to the strikes & slams. The finish was great and pretty unexpected. I think that really made this something above the matches viewed thus far. That said, its Omori's weakest CC match for 2013 & I know they have a better bout in them... So I dug a little and found their CC match from 2012. It takes place 04/21/12 and in K-Hall. That is a boon because the 2013 matches have been in small crypt like venues where the fans have played the part if the dead. So this 2012 version is THE match I wanted to see! More intense, more dramatic, better crowd - this is the one to watch It actually felt like a Champ Carnival match between two of the biggest names in AJPW. Great match! (I needed to see something like that as the 04/27/13 show has been disappointing) Masakatsu Funaki vs Jun Akiyama - Main event time and we get dueling chants!? I don't know if I've ever heard that in Japan. Figures the crowd was pretty sedated all show to come alive for the big time match. Both guys have their dudes second the match so we see the Stack of Arms vs Burning rivalry story advance. This feels like a big deal. Both guys play for keeps. Akiyama hurts Funaki's knee so he targets Jun's arm. This very fast paced and it ends in around 10 minutes. But it was great and felt like how you do a veteran match like this towards the end of a tour. (I checked 2012 here as well and they actually do a sub 5minute match so the 2013 encounter is superior) 04/27/13 is a fun show but not as exciting as the early part of the tour. Let's see how things wrap up on 04/29. I only have 2 matches from what looks like a nice card. Hey found this online for free so beggars can't be choosers... KAI vs Go Shiozaki - This is a tie breaker match to see who goes to the finals. Seeing as I haven't watched all of CC matches I'm going to take their word for it. It starts a little slow but Go targets K man's bruised chest with his fierce chops and it starts to bleed. This ups the ante and we get the hard hitting & action packed match you want. I've seen people go call this a classic/****1/2 but I'll be realistic and say that is a little much. ***3/4-**** is much more appropriate as it lacks either bell to bell intensity or depth to go that far. But *spoilers* its a BIG win for KAI as Shiozaki is the man in 2013 AJ. KAI vs Jun Akiyama - Again not sure how Akiyama made it and aren't they in the same block? Ah screw it...I'm down to see them fight one more time. Now we have the story of KAI's battered chest driving the last few matches, will Akiyama use that weakness?...shit I'll answer it for you- yes! 2013 Akiyama is the guy you want to structure a match that continues an arc within a single show. That's to say he's a cerebral veteran that is going to tell the story with nuances rather than overt actions. For instance, he targets the chest of KAI as a defensive strategy rather thinking he's going to win by chops like Shiozaki. Jun is more similar to Kawada than Kobashi at this point. KAI makes sure to play his role and man! All things considered this adds up to a near classic match and an excellent end to the 2013 Champion Carnival. As I do with many final posts I'll do a summary of stuff to go back read in an older post or to watch in case you're coming into this late or in the future. Rather than do all of the matches, I'll just list the Very good to Classic matches (***3/4-****1/2) for the Champion Carnival I saw. 04/18 Sanada vs Omori - very good Suwama vs Shiozaki - Classic 04/20 Kenso, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki - very good 04/21 KAI vs Akiyama - great 04/24 Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - very good Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki vs KAI - Great 04/25 Shiozaki vs Omori - Great Kanemoto & Tanaka vs Suzuki & Aoki - Classic 04/26 KENSO vs KAI - Great 04/27 Akiyama vs Funaki - Great 04/29 KAI vs Shiozaki - Very good - great Akiyama vs KAI - Near Classic In a bit of bummer 2013 AJPW news, KAI hurts his elbow on a frog splash vs Kono in June. I think he's going to be out for the rest of the year and then eventually goes to Wrestle -1. He really made a big impact during the carnival. In fact many of the guys might have made their last appearance (as far as I have available to watch) so Kaz Hiyashi, Kanemoto & Tanaka, Funaki etc. are off to W-1. We're going to jump ahead in time to late June and late July next. It might be a little bit before the next post for 2013 but rest assured, I will persist! Thanks for reading!
  13. I've been in a bit of a down period with wrestling the last month or so. I got a Highspots Best of 2003 compilation off eBay a little while ago and I thought it might be the thing to get me back into things. It starts out with matches from the January 10th show. A couple of them are ones that I always wanted to see but never got around to. Looks like a good place to start. KENTA & Takashi Sugiura vs Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki - Man alive this was a Jr. tag fireworks display. Kotaro just set the tone early showing Tiger Mask like speed & agility. Sugiura was the powerhouse while KENTA & Sano were the violent artists. 14 minutes of Jr. action without being contrived or "out of order." There is a difference between this and what was going on in the U.S. at the time. Guys would catch up but this was crisp, clean and engaging Jr. tag wrestling. The finish was the only flaw of this great match. Even then, it doesn't diminish the work. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka - This is a WAR lover's match. More potatoes than Idaho. Some might more moves but this burns bright with inter-promotional hate. That coupled with a brutal finish makes this a classic tag match in my book! Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue - So I thought the above match was the final but no! We have this dream bout with NJ's Chono getting in the mix. His interactions with Kenta & Taue were like a Fire Pro match come to life. Its different than what came before it and was very much a big time main event style match where you get what you came for. The tanks aren't emptied out but you're still grinning at the end. It's been awhile since I've seen Misawa, Kobashi & Taue so this was a treat. I feel very comfortable calling it a near classic match... ----- Its no secret that I'm a big fan of tag matches and these were totally up my alley. Each was different stylistically yet each was dynamic and engaging. I'm sure these are available online somewhere or maybe you have them on DVD or saved somewhere on a computer, take the time and check these out. If you're a newer fan, its some great stuff from the not too distant past. If you were watching NOAH take shape 20 years ago (holy cow!), these matches will take you back in time to a period of excitement and possibility. Thanks for reading!
  14. G. Badger

    Wrestling Art Show - March

    Holy cow! Its been awhile since I've posted. I've finished watching the 2013 AJPW Champion Carnival but just haven't done the write up yet. I guess I'm on a bit of a wrestling break with the weather getting better. Been trying to get out and go for walks/hikes as well as get some skateboarding in as well. But you don't care about that, you want some wrestling reviews! Well you're gonna have to wait a little longer but I've got some sweet wrestle-art to feast your eyes on in the meantime. The Octopus doing what he does Hansen, Gordy & Brody vs Baba & the Funks Brody with a double ax handle smash... I stretch and strain with all my might. Drift off into the velvety arms of the night... Thanks for enjoying and I'll be back with your precious reviews soon Take Care Folks!
  15. Ma Stump Puller

    Violence Master: A Jun Izumida Primer

    Introduction Always neglected when it comes to retrospectives, Izumida has always been a curious undercard performer to me since I started watching a bulk of the AJPW TV segments overall. Behind the goofy appearance and uninspiring look was a tremendously aggressive act that could seriously go when prompted, from huge suicide dives to some truly insane spots for a guy his size. Through he never had any truly big pushes, he was always great whenever given the big stage to show off his stuff, but despite this a lot of the reception (especially on Cagematch and the like) has him positioned shockingly low on the totem pole, where he currently stands in the top 250 worst rated wrestlers on the site...for some reason. (seriously, he's worse than Nailz, of all people) Here, I'll be going through a few of the matches that are the most easily accessible for someone new to check out, as well as some personal favourites. There's more than this out there but this is just the ones that I feel like are most worthy of a primer set: if we were just going through good matches in general, this would be a lot longer, needless to say. What's best to know is that Izumida is basically a really stiff lad, so be prepared for some hard shots that would make even Shibata wince. Vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW 22.03.1998) Probably the most infamous Izumida match out there. Him and Kawada basically have a pretty good sub-5 minute match as he essentially realises that Dangerous K is WAY out of his league, so he chooses to take the fight early by going balls to the wall at the very start and hoping to God that things work out. This involves a lot of diving headbutts, some big spots and Kawada being, well, Kawada. You don't need me to tell you who wins this but it's still a ton of fun and one of Izumida's first big moments, which he takes full advantage of here. Seriously, just go watch this when you can, it's a fun ride. W/ Akira Taue vs. Gary Albright & Yoshihiro Takayama (AJPW 24.07.1998) While a lot of Izumida's showings have him as more or less the bully of the bunch, here he's essentially a lower card act having to swim with some real sharks in the form of two beefy guys who certainly don't give him any leeway. Takayama in particular smacks him here with some truly vicious shots after Izumida shows him up early on by blocking a lot of his offence and Izumida essentially has to ride out the experience long enough and try to get his own work in, hoping Taue can do the rest. This is mostly the Izumida show, however, as he powers through the pair's offence and really gets the crowd going by the end of this when he's holding on to the last straw just to survive. It's a very well done underdog match that has some real nail-biting moments throughout. I've seen this match format a lot in AJPW (namely the rookie teaming up with guys far above his paygrade and having to struggle to survive: it's a trend that's practically always been around in some format) but Izumida is most definitely one of the best when it comes to getting this over in general. I've seen far worse, so maybe I'm just more favourable to this than I should be. W/ Giant Kimala Vs. Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki (AJPW 16.01.1999) No one really knew this was going to be a great match from the get-go, but this somehow mutates into perhaps one of the top tag MOTY contenders for the year in general, not just AJPW. This starts off fairly good as Kimala and Izumida thrive as two big tanks that just hurl around the lighter guys with ease, mixing in some heel work at points to get the crowd more invested in the eventual comebacks of the duo. There's a certain moment in this match where things go from decent to utterly incredible: if you've watched the match, you know exactly what I mean: I'm not going to spoil it here for new viewers, just check the whole thing out but try not to eat beforehand. Izumida and co take complete advantage of the situation and turn it from a potential confusing mess in the hands of less experienced workers to a masterclass in heel brutality. There's a rematch that happened a month later but it's mostly just bleh; a weak attempt to catch lightning in a bottle twice. A great heel showing for Izumida that puts him over big time as a horrifically dangerous opponent. This arguably was the match where "Violence Master" became not just a nickname, but raw reality. W/ Giant Kimala vs. NO FEAR (Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori) (AJPW 20.02.2000) Not going to lie: most of Izumida's match material with Kimala is either alright or just downright bad at points. They don't tend to have good matches usually but when they NEED to step up like here, they absolutely do so. Izumida takes a beating but unlike the Taue match, he shows that he can dish it out with some big headbutts, lariats, and outright stiff slaps. He can hang with the duo but just misses the mark due to NO FEAR's superior experience in brawls. Izumida shows that he can sell incredibly well as his injured mid-section is absolutely honed in by the NO FEAR pair throughout as a clutch to keep him in control, of which he builds very nicely to a Kimala hot tag, of all things. Unlike the last match where he was with someone who needed to carry him out of pure raw strength (in kayfabe, naturally) here him and Kimala are positioned as a true balanced duo, landing lots of goofy and at times sensational double team moves, helping each other out of very sticky situations. Izumida more than proves that he could more than have a competent match out of probably one of the best tag teams of this year (seriously, 2000 is a banner year for Takayama/Omori in general) but this is a great showing for things to come and a solid introduction to Izumida's modern style going forward. Vs. Takeshi Rikio (NOAH 25.01.2001) Izumida takes Rikio, whom at this point is a competent but pretty middling rookie singles act who seems to be only good in well coordinated tags to one of his best singles matches as of date, which is remarkable given Rikio's only real "good" match beforehand was with Misawa: a very high bar. Brutal, nasty, downright overkill at times. It's just two very meaty ex-sumo lads basically just hurling around in various ways and really just beating the crap out of the other. It's hard to use so many words for "stiff" but THIS is stiff, and it used in such a manner to enhance what would be a run of the mill match to something far more. Izumida lives up to his moniker and gives Rikio a ton of space to rail on him at points with some truly devastating stuff. By the end of this the crowd is popping for everything like this is Kobashi/Misawa or something crazy over like that, getting incredibly invested for every near fall this gives. This is clipped but still feels like a full-length match by the balls to the wall pacing and effective usage of big bombs. Vs. Takeshi Morishima (NOAH 13.03.2004) This is for Morishima's WLM belt (a American promotion that NOAH regularly worked alongside and trained people) and is actually the main event of the entire event, which was a cool gesture. Anyway, this goes how you'd expect it to go, but this shows how effective Izumida is at control segments and cut-offs, able to recover after a early beating by a insane diving headbutt from the ropes to the outside before focusing on Morishima's taped up leg for the duration of this match. He combines stiff slaps, chops, headbutts, alongside some surprisingly innovative technical work and agile spots to keep control his throughout. He shows that he can dictate a match (as seen above with Rikio) almost completely by himself, managing to get some good crowd reactions throughout this bout and building to a really fun comeback sequence and finishing stretch where it's just a mad scramble. Morishima's selling is bad when it comes to extended selling (like he'll scream and cry throughout the holds and working segments, but he'll almost switch that mode off as soon as he's free to work and he'll NEVER change his usual work to accommodate) but he's a good bomb thrower who is quite over with the crowd at this point, so this mistake is forgiven in their eyes. Izumida gets about as much as you can get from Morishima at this point and time and then some. Conclusion As stated above, this is just a helpful primer to Izumida's style of work, as well as a wide range of different matches where you can see how he can play both a confident underdog or a brutal heel with little regard for his own and his opponent's wellbeing. There's a lot more out there if you search around and some really fun matches that I left out of here to keep this simple and concise as all of these can be just easily picked up and watched without any additional context or pre-match watching. Hopefully you enjoy and appreciate one of the lesser heralded stars of early NOAH.
  16. KinchStalker

    Masio Koma

    Real name: Hideo Koma Professional names: Hideo Koma, Atsuhide Koma, Kakutaro Koma, Mr. Koma, Masio Koma Life: 5/18/1940-3/10/1976 Born: Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan Career: 1961-1976 Promotions: Japan Pro Wrestling/JWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling Height/Weight: 172cm/100kg (5’8”/220 lbs.) Signature Moves: Dropkick Titles: NWA World Middleweight [EMLL] (1x), NWA United States Tag Team [Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling] (2x, with the Great Ota/Gantetsu Matsuoka), NWA Western States Tag Team [Western States Sports] (2x, with Mr. Okuma/Motoshi Okuma) Summary: As a wrestler, Masio Koma has a humble legacy marked by some territorial success. However, he was an important figure in AJPW's early years, and his unexpected death is regarded by colleagues and journalists as a turning point in company history. CAREER Koma's athletic background was in baseball, which he played through high school as a teammate of Sadaharu Oh. Upon his graduation, Koma joined Japan Pro Wrestling (JWA) in June 1961. Debuting on October 11 with a loss to Mitsu Hirai, Koma would become Giant Baba's first valet. Like his successor Motoshi Okuma, Koma would remain loyal to Baba for the rest of his life. Hideo's early years would see him booked under his real name, and then as Atsuhide and Kakutaro Koma. In January 1970, Koma embarked on a pioneering excursion to EMLL. On August 28, he became the first Japanese wrestler to win Mexican gold, defeating El Solitario for the NWA World Middleweight title. Koma even won it as a technico! In a 2008 web column, journalist and lucha expert Tsutomu “Tomas” Shimizu (AKA Dr. Lucha) claimed that Mexican fans of a certain generation were as likely to name Koma as the greatest Japanese foreigner to wrestle in Mexico as they were Sayama. Two years later, Shimizu would rank Koma as the fourth greatest “Japanese luchador” (based on their Mexican runs, not necessarily as "lucharesu" wrestlers), behind Ultimo, Sayama, and Hamada at #1. After this, Koma traveled north to begin work as a US territorial heel, teaming with his peers Gantetsu Matsuoka and Motoshi Okuma to tag success in the Florida and Amarillo territories. It was during his run in the latter that he and Okuma were recruited by Baba for All Japan Pro Wrestling. Koma has been cited in multiple narratives as the crucial man in getting Dory Funk Sr. to agree to a partnership with Baba. Koma became the first head coach of the AJPW dojo. Deeply respected by Baba, enough so that he could comfortably raise objections to him, Koma was also assigned as the handler of Jumbo Tsuruta. Alongside Sato, Koma gave Tsuruta about four months of part-time instruction as Tsuruta completed his baccalaureate. Koma would also teach Tsuruta locker room etiquette and acted as a buffer between Tsuruta and the resentment of his peers. Before his death of liver failure in 1976, Koma would successfully produce three wrestlers: Atsushi Onita, Masanobu Fuchi, and Kazuharu Sonoda. He was also involved in training Kyohei Wada. Koma's training methods were reformed by Akio Sato in the early 1980s, as Nippon Television ordered the company to begin producing more native talent. The story of Naoki Takano, a pre-Sato graduate (and cousin of George and Shunji) whose career ended in a horrific training injury just months after his debut, suggests that such reforms were warranted. Not everyone agrees, though. The Great Kabuki has claimed that Koma's death "ruined" All Japan. Koma had incorporated "gachinko" (Japanese term for shoot) fundamentals into the curriculum. Not only did AJPW fail to produce a homegrown wrestler from Sonoda's 1975 debut until Shiro Koshinaka's graduation in 1979, but the gachinko tradition was lost in favor of an Americanized, "passive" house style influenced more by the Funks than by puroresu. Kabuki remarks that "they all became weak". NJPW head trainer Kotetsu Yamamoto had been a good friend of Koma's, and he would later reveal that they consulted each other about their methods. Would Koma have developed his method further had he lived? Would the stylistic gap between AJPW and NJPW have become narrower? Whatever the case, Koma was one of AJPW's most important early figures, and although the Great Kojika claims that the company culture became "lighter" after his death. It has also been cited as a destabilizing incident behind the scenes. It may have led Tsuruta to become closer to Samson Kutsuwada, which complicated Jumbo’s relationship with Baba after the 1977 incident.
  17. We're back and going to look at 04/25 & 04/26 AJPW. Its the Champion Carnival tour. Akebono vs Jun Akiyama - Short match but good. Akiyama gets an Akebobo singles match worthwhile. Hirosho Yamato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Quick somewhat average match with a very good finish. Reminded me of a early 80's AJ Jr. bout. Joe Doering vs KENSO - The giant gaijin manhandled KENSO but they had a good match. Good chemistry but they have a better fight in them. SUWAMA vs Seiya Sanada - Another good match but really by-the-book and frankly I'm not sure they're good opponents for each other. Sanada can't match stiffness with Suwama so his elbow strikes look weak in comparison. There was a story worked but it was bland which shouldn't be the case with two of you top wrestlers. Go Shiozaki vs Takao Omori - Chain wrestling to begin which almost feels like a throwback in 2013. But I think that's the "point" of Akiyama back in All Japan. Anyway, Omori injured Go's neck and uses a variety of offense to target it. Takao looks to have the Burning ace's number. Go isn't going down without a fight and he's got to really fight his way back into the match. Its a simple but effective story and really harkens back to late 90's AJ. Great match. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Minoru gets hurt early (real or story? Great selling) and his opponents smell blood in the water. Koji has got to get violent and buy his partner time to recover. Koji & Aoki's grappling was awesome stuff as were all of the kicks, suplexes and double team moves. I felt like anything could end the match especially with Minoru's limitations. This is one of, if not the best feuds going on in AJ at this time. If you're a fan of Motor City Machine Guns or really 06-08 ROH tag stuff then you will dig this. I felt it was a classic Jr. Tag match classic. 03/17/13 was a little bit crisper but damn this is a worthy rematch. What a main event! Now we're onto the next show 04/26. Sushi vs Kanemaru - A darn good match that told a simple story (hurt neck vs hurt leg). The important part is that they stuck with it til the end. Sure they did some exciting moves off the turnbuckles or dives but it was all within the realm of believability. Sushi is climbing up the ranks. Stack of Arms vs Last Revolution - 6 man match where Shuji Kondo was never tagged in nor was Minoru Tanaka (maybe he did get hurt? Cool to see they're sticking with it either way). It was an OK match but so short given the teams that you can skip this. Jun Akiyama vs Joe Doering - A good ***1/2 sub 10 minute match with intensity, surprises and therefore drama. Doering reminds me of Mike Awesome in FMW to an extent. I like that. Kanemoto & Nakanoue vs Suzuki & Aoki - Another ***1/2 match that keeps the fire burning. The finish was almost a shoot with how outta nowhere it was. I dug that. KENSO vs KAI - KENSO is so very popular especially in these smaller venues. I might be missing something but I guess he's pretty charismatic. KAI is much more similar to a Misawa/Akiyama favorite. Anyway, this was a HARD fought battle. It was perhaps the most physical match I've seen KENSO in. He gave it as good as he got though. He blistered KAI with chops, kicks and slaps. KAI's chest was purple by the mid way point (it was healing from the previous night). KAI in turn kicked Mr. Chrisma's ass. Both guys gave 100% and were the best bout of the show. Great match and KENSO's best singles match I've seen. I wouldn't say it was a show saver because everything else was short and fun to watch. But that felt like an AJPW match instead of a ROH TV match from 2018. So I would recommend the 04/25 show over the 26th, if I had to pick one. But I would still say both are worth your time. Pick and choose if you like. I think I skipped a couple that might have been available online. The 4/27/13 show is next and looks to be a bigger one. Thanks for reading!
  18. We're going back to the 04/20 (Blaze ) show from 2013 and then moving on to the 04/24 show. These are smaller events so nothing on paper is mind blowing awesome but let's see. First thing first, I only have access to what has been uploaded so perhaps I'm not capturing the full experience but this is a review of what I've watched. Take it with a grain of salt. The two actual Champion Carnival matches (Funaki vs Doering & Kono vs Suwama) can be skipped from the 04/20 show. I felt that they were boring. From that we have two tag matches that are more interesting. Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Sushi is like Curry Man if you remember that Chris Daniels gimmick. Comedy but he can wrestle. Nevertheless, that doesn't bode well for him facing Mr. Sterness. In a twist of fate Kanemaru gets injured and its Sanada & Sushi 2-on-1 so dammit they have a chance! This is a fun match. KENSO, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki - Burning vs Stack of Arms/Jr. Stars continues and this is the best match on the show. Aoki & Kanemoto grappling was a real highlight. Lotsa action and KENSO & Go's interactions were interesting since the K-man isn't your traditional 2010 puro guy. Anyhow very good match that keeps the feud going. This was a very good match. 04/24/13 Masayuki Kono vs Takao Omori - Another example of Omori being an underrated worker. He's the guy who's having smart work-a-body-part match every show. That makes this something above the average and a good match with the limited Kono. Kaz Hiyashi, Shuji Kondo vs Hiroshi Yamato & Nakanoue - This was a fun match but Nakanoue is lowest man on the totem pole so the outcome wasn't in doubt. Good double team moves. Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Same pairing as 04/20 but this was a different match and a mid-card storyline! Because of this, I think this is better than the first match. Good stuff! Kotaro Suzuki, Aoki & Shiozaki vs KAI, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka - A bigger feeling match than the 04/20 6-man. We get high quality interactions in KAI vs Shiozaki, Minoru vs Suzuki & Aoki & Kanemoto. Aoki's arm destroying moves inspired ZSJ without a doubt. This was a great match and the best bout of both nights. If you just wanna sample one match, this is it! Both nights were clear B-shows as the venue and spotty attendance indicated. There's some good stuff nonetheless but I would focus on the 6-man matches if you're just looking to dip your toe into 2013 All Japan. Thanks for reading and stay safe folks!
  19. This post is all about the early parts of Champion Carnival for 2013. This stuff is out there online for your enjoyment. But no screen shots to give you a taste. I'm watching these on my living room TV/streaming rather than the trusty one hooked up to the DVD player. You don't care about that. You want wrestling! Here it is! The first two matches are from April 18th: Seiya Sanada vs Takao Omori - This felt like a Champ Carnival of old where the finish actually played off working over a body part. We don't really see that enough anymore. Sanada is really fun to watch here and Omori doesn't get enough love. Just a really smart finish, very good match ***3/4 stuff. Suwama vs Go Shiozaki - The meeting between Shiozaki & Suwama has been building up since Akiyama's Burning stable invaded AJ at the start of 2013. Here we have it and this did not disappoint! it is everything you'd want in a first fight. Not bloated yet not rushed or cheap with its finish. Classic Champion Carnival match. You really should check it out! Jun Akiyama vs KAI (04/21) - This begins as simply an average match with a couple neat sequences and moves. That's OK, however it continues to escalate and becomes something special. Akiyama was not going to let some young punk beat him in the Champions Carnival. That punk doesn't even belong in the Carnival! KAI was fighting for more than just a win. He was fighting for his chance to be recognized as a main player. A gutsy performance from him and Akiyama is 2010's Tenryu. These are the types of matches I'm looking for in 2010's puro - hard hitting matches that are not afraid to take the time to sell a simple story. A great match for sure. There we have it! Very impressive stuff that I never heard much about at the amid the NJPW buzz. For those keeping track, I skipped the 04/20 show for the sake of having 3 matches for this post and not cutting April 20th up at all. i have way more footage available so that will be more like a typical show review.The order is irrelevant 9 years later, right?! I'll circle back around for that show next time. Overall, 2013 has been pretty great stuff and I'm thrilled that this footage is still up after all of this time. Concerning AJPW in '13- The Burning crew has really invigorated the company and many of the top talent that would leave to form Wrestle -1 is still there. So there's been some fantastic Jr and Heavyweight matches as a result already. I'm very enthusiastic about this project Stay safe folks!
  20. 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.
  21. This is only what I was able to find online for the 03/17 super show. There's a good looking Omori/Soya vs Akiyama/Shiozaki match but there's no sign of it. So like I said before we say goodbye to Soya then. Kinda bummed but I'm not complaining about what's available as you're about to find out. AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs Kaz Hayashi - This is an awesome 14 minutes of Junior wrestling fireworks. It never overstayed its welcome which many junior matches do anymore. Its a great match! Kaz Hiyashi really impressed me and Kanemaru is like the Shiro Koshinaka of the 2000's. All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Holy crap! This was awesome! I was losing my mind at the end. At 20+ minutes this ended just when it needed to and as a result we get a classic Jr. tag match. I think both sets of guys were excited to have fresh opponents and wanted to put on a phenomenal performance. They certainly accomplished that goal. Triple Crown: Suwama vs Masakatsu Funaki - A much slower pace than the two Junior matches but this was like 2 heavyweight boxers going at it until the final round at which point they tried to go for the knockout. But in all honesty they could have done it at any point IF they were facing lesser opponents. Its Masakatsu Funaki trying to knock out or choke out the ace of AJPW. Its SUWAMA trying to pin one of the most dangerous grapplers and pioneer of MMA. This was a great slow burn main event title fight. It was like Hashimoto's IWGP title reign. No its not Misawa vs Kawada but dammit its intense physical wrestling! You feel like you watched a struggle. Theses bouts are out there online so if you've got the time or inclination, go watch them! Very exciting stuff already for 2013 AJ. Thanks for reading and more stuff on the way shortly!
  22. Now we move on to AJPW in 2013. This should be one of my longer projects of the year as I have a bevy of matches available online to bolster my DVD collection. I'll say I'm really digging 2013 from what I have seen so far. Here is my first show & dvd. Per usual, I skip stuff that I'm not interested in. If you're feeling these matches then by all means, watch them & let me know 3 Way Match: KENSO vs MAZADA & Andy Wu - A squash for KENSO which was pretty enjoyable. Masanobu Fuchi & Reid Flair vs Tomoaki Honma & Kazushi Miyamoto - I'm sure there is merit to this but I didn't want to wait for it to happen. Suwama, Joe Doering & Shuji Kondo vs Akebono, Ryota Hama & SUSHI - Great use for Akebono. Fun match. Masakatsu Funaki & Masayuki Kono vs Seiya Sanada & Yasufumi Nakanoue When Sanada was in this was a really good match. Gratefully this was the final third of the bout. He vs Kono was pretty awesome. I'd say that this was ***1/2 tops but I really dug that final third. Wish we got this Sanada in ROH! AJPW World Tag Team Title Skirmish - All Japan vs. Burning: Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Kaz Hayashi - Absolutely the best bout of the night! The announcer can't finish the intros before Omori attacks Akiyama. The pace was vigorous and didn't let up. Suzuki and Kaz were the whipping boys but showed maximum heart enduring the punishment. Everyone except Kanemaru was in there for a good display. What he did do was special stuff especially with the Caveman Soya. Eventually Kaz & Kotaro were back in one on one and put on a fireworks display. This is the match I bought the DVD for and it definitely delivered! This invasion feud (somewhat real) injects AJ with some pep and excitement that it needs. Near classic encounter and the melee after the bell only makes it sweeter. Since I'm doing stars this post, ****1/4 seems right without overrating...cause this was exciting stuff! ---- All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Hiroshi Yamato & Hikaru Sato - Starts out just OK but picks up to be a very good tag team battle. There's some very exciting moments and the last few minutes are the best. This is the main event but I knew that this wasn't going to be the best. I'd say this was *** 3/4 though. Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka are always worth watching in my book. Pretty good show with the 6 man being something to watch. I'm partial to tag & multi man matches though. The 6 mans of the late 80's and early 90's are some of my favorites. Anyhow, I believe this is the final match I have of Manabu Soya in AJ. Not sure if the exodus started yet but I had a blast watching him. He's one of my faves. Clearly the Burning stable from NOAH has invaded and this will change the landscape of AJ as well as provide a bunch of fresh match ups. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more AJPW 2013!