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  1. Pretty standard DDT workrate tag. These kinds of matches typically have a high floor, but where they lose me is when the tags don't matter. It's not even that it comes down to referee's discretion. Rather, the illegal men in the match would frequently be allowed to make pin attempts after a flurry of offense where everyone entered the ring. Without rules in place, the match is functionally no different than a scramble. Personally, I find it much more impressive when wrestlers can work within the confines of limitations instead of cramming everything they can into 14 minutes. Anyway, this was fine. **3/4
  2. I think these two work very similarly and are both extremely charismatic. I don't know if I know how to differentiate them really. What do you folks think?
  3. I thought this was super fun. Lots of women got a chance to shine - Ruby Riot looked great, Kairi Sane looked great, Mickie James looked great, Becky Lynch looked really good, Nikki Bella looked really good, Ember Moon looked great, Asuka looked great, Sasha Banks looked really great. All the surprise entrants were handled in super enjoyable fashion & all of them looked really good in the ring, too! Overall just a really well structured Rumble match. The post-match w/ Ronda coming out was quite something (that Piper jacket! ) - I LOVED Asuka slapping her hand away when she tried to go for a handshake. All in all, a really good time from start to finish! ***3/4
  4. Loved this. Big match feel right from the entrances - both women showed lots of swagger & charisma; loved Asuka’s work over Charlotte - her offense was even more violent than usual, those Shibata -esq kicks to the head were amazing as well as those brutal stomps to the back. ***3/4
  5. This is the first match for both in this year's Catch the WAVE tournament. It a nice follow up to the title match that they had in September of last year. The both of them do what they do best, ASUKA breaking out some nice highspots and Yamashita hitting her big power moves. The finish is really well worked, just a very good back and forth exchange of finishers with Yamashita getting the win with a Splash Mountain. ***1/2
  6. Quite possibly the best performance in Nia's young career so far - she delivered a great monster-on-top performance while Asuka was a terrific underdog with lethal offense of her own. Probably my MOTN. It's very close between it & the women's chamber match. ***3/4
  7. This is quite the matchup of veteran stars and junior partners. This might be my favourite Meiko performance of the year. She was really on, especially when she would slickly move from matwork to more high impact moves. Despite her age and slight weight gain, Ayako still moves around really well. Both of the younger workers came off strong, going back and forth with the vets fairly. A very fun match. ****
  8. After their confrontation last week, a non-title match between Alexa Bliss and Asuka was made for Raw. Alexa wasn't too happy about this and asked Kurt Angle why is he rewarding Asuka for her actions. Angle said if Alexa had a problem with Asuka, they can settle it in the ring. Later on, Alexa tells Nia Jax that she needs her by her side for the match, but Nia leaves as she had to attend to a sick Enzo Amore, much to Alexa's dismay. A nice way to build up the match and Alexa's growing fear of facing Asuka. Alexa's facial expressions were on point. Before the match, she showed a great sense of dread, knowing what's in store for her and putting over Asuka as a big threat. Asuka came out with her usual confidence and swagger. She got in the champ's head last week and looked to pick up momentum before the women's Royal Rumble match. Alexa kept her distance from Asuka, avoiding some strikes and staying near the ropes. Asuka got in a few shots on Alexa before she retreated to the outside. The crowd booed because they wanted to see Asuka beat up the champ. During the break, Alexa managed to avoid a hip attack and connect with a big kick to Asuka's midsection. Alexa targeted Asuka's ribs with some punches and by applying bodyscissors. Asuka's selling during this was quite good. Alexa got too confident by slapping Asuka in the face, which only fired her up. Alexa tried to fight back, but Asuka was too much and forced Alexa to tap out to her armbar. This was a good first meeting between Alexa and Asuka. I very much enjoyed the beginning with Alexa avoiding Asuka at nearly ever turn, not allowing Asuka to get too much offense off. The way the match played out also did a good job putting over Asuka as a threat to Alexa's reign as the work on her ribs wasn't enough to keep Asuka down and she countered a few of Alexa's offense (such as the sunset flip powerbomb in the corner). This is just a small taste of what these two can do together and I'm looking forward to the rematch.
  9. ASUKA's reward for her big win over Yumi Ohka at last month's anniversary show was a title shot at the current Regina Di WAVE champ, Yamashita. This was ASUKA's best performance yet as she really showed off her athleticism and mixed in some spectacular highspots. Her selling still needs some work though. This was yet another strong, big match performance Yamashita. She is pretty much at the point that she should be mentioned in the top tier of workers in joshi. A very strong title match from two women who keep improving. ****
  10. This is an historic match because it's the first main event of a major joshi show to feature a transgender wrestler. The match itself was better than I expected it to be. Ohka has looked really good in tags this year but usually comes off as bland in singles matches. Here she looked good. Her offense is pretty basic but she used it effectively and hit some nasty shots. ASUKA looked good as well, even hitting some great, Manami Toyota level spots as highlights. They do go a bit long as the match loses some steam towards the finish. Given the historical context of the match they both give a quality performance. ***1/2
  11. This is a really fun trios match. A lot of that is because both Avid Rival (Mizunami & Ohata) and Over Sun (Ohka & Miyazaki) are really good, established teams so that allows both Yamashita and ASUKA to be bit players. They do spend a share of the match building up the Ohka/ASUKA match for the upcoming anniversary show. ASUKA, the first transgender wrestler to be part of a joshi group, looks good if a bit of a generic joshi high-flyer. Good showcase for WAVE's talent. ***3/4
  12. I really like how they laid out this match to how they booked this feud. They found the right tone for Emma's character as she realized how dangerous Asuka is but still thought she could beat her by outsmarting her. Also really liked Emma's in-ring performance, she worked really smart and laid in a lot of her shots while not being afraid of taking anything from Asuka. It was cool to see Asuka dust off some of her old strike combos. The most noticeable difference between Asuka here and her work in Japan is how much she plays to the crowd. She rarely worked in front of big crowds in Japan so it's nice to see her adjust and work "bigger" here. The finish was smart even if there was a few minor issues with the execution of it. ****
  13. I like pro wrestling that preserves the struggle of a fight, even if it is one often resembling action/boxing/martials arts movie scenes more than an actual real competition or a fight. I don't like pro wrestling where the workers struggle to simulate the fight itself, and if you're not bothered by the sloppiness that is still very much present in many of these matches, well, good for you. But I'm having trouble taking Bayley seriously when she messes up very basic looking spots. The match was fine-Bayley got some solid shine early on and then we transitioned into a cool control segment where Asuka nailed Bayley with a brutal knee and kept cutting Bayley off every time Bayley attempted a comeback. Asuka really nailed some sharp kicks in here, it was a joy to watch. Unfortunately Bayley's comeback was pretty lame, slamming someone's head into the the turnbuckle as a comeback works if you're a tecnico and Fuerza Guerrera is bumping for you but as a means of vanquishing the biggest badass the NXT women's division has had so far it's not very convincing, especially when the slams themselves don't look especially violent. Bayley's babyface comeback offence of running elbows/kneedrops/legdrops would've been much more efficient if Asuka's control segment laster longer and was used as the actual comeback. Finish was also kinda eye-rolling, didn't really buy into Bayley becoming this huge badass, her acting wasn't there and her daring Asuka to hit her in the face and immediately covering up was just so stupid, it's the kind of stuff that happens when you have Triple H and friends laying out puro machismo tribute spots. Do I even need to explain how stupid no-selling a head kick is after treating it like a KO shot a mere second after? You fire up and barely get to your feet at best after something like that. That would've made for a much better and intruiging finish than what they did. ***
  14. This was fascinating to watch. Nia Jax has no presence whatsoever and carried herself like she is much smaller than she is. She deserves more opportunities than someone of lesser size because (I assume) it's harder to find someone her size and you need as much variety as you can get. This felt very much like a Kiyoshi Tamura U-Style match against a not big name in that while it wasn't a total squash it felt close to it. At no point did you get the impression Asuka was in danger. It was interesting to see Asuka feed herself submissions and kicks and work around Nia. If Nia *got* the most fundamental things about her character I'd have advocated working a different much and would argue that one could have been much better, but as it stands I'll gladly take this since no one else is doing Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton right now. ***1/4
  15. Pretty simple story here as the beloved champion takes on the dangerous undefeated challenger. This does get off to a slow and even awkward start, (Asuka stiffs Bayley with a forearm after their first lockup.) Once they they settle down, they do get into a nice groove with each other. I do like that Bayley went right at Asuka and never showed any fear but that does cost her at times as she gets out-struck and outclassed on the mat. She does adjust and learns to pick her spots which leads to some nice counters. Also, I enjoyed the announce team as both Phillips and Graves put over both of the matchup plus point out little stuff like Bayley trying to use submissions that had got her wins in previous title matches. Overall, an incredibly well done title match the is different from the typical fare you get from the WWE. ****1/4
  16. This is a rematch from Takeover: London plus Asuka's last match leading up to her title match vs. Bayley at Takeover: Dallas. The opening part of this match quickly reestablishes the Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam rivalry between the two with Emma trying to outsmart Asuka but the reverse ends up happening. Emma does eventually gain control and starts to work over Asuka with a variety of holds. Unfortunately, this does take some steam out of the match as Emma doesn't really mix in anything flashy to get a reaction out of the crowd. They do pick it up for the finish though with Emma actually hanging in there with Asuka during a strike exchange, but she ends up costing herself the win when she argues with the ref after he caught Emma with her feet on the ropes during a rollup. One of the better WWE/NXT women's matches of the year so far. ***3/4
  17. This was absolutely phenomenal. Both women killed it - Asuka showed great cocky character work & Ember showed great fire & intensity. Asuka's arm work to that previously injured arm of Ember's was amazing, absolutely brutal & focused. Ember's selling was great & her comebacks were super great - those 2 big nearfalls w/ the Eclipse & the Superkick were outstanding. The finish was perfect w/ Asuka getting frustrated & desperate as Ember was overwhelming her & her cheating attempts didn't go through - but then Ember makes one mistake & she gets to lock that Asuka Lock. Fantastic stuff. ****1/2
  18. I think it's safe to say that this is a big time contender for the most violent women's match in WWE history. They went all out - amazing action from start to finish w/ no dull moments & dull moments are something that we usually get a ton of in LMS matches. The big spots (trash can, neckbreaker's, the ending..) were all absolutely tremendous & the action in between those was terrific as well w/ some real good selling. ****1/2
  19. The actual match portion of this is pretty good, I think, on par with their Takeover match more or less. Cross especially is just a ball of viciousness, which brings out good stuff in Asuka, and Ruby holds up her end of the deal too. As far as throwing a rating on it, I don't really have a standard for this sort of thing. Bell to bell it's recommendable for sure, but after it gets thrown out (which is a bad "ending") it really turns into an excellent arena brawl with Asuka and Cross. That brawl includes not only punching and getting thrown into the usual walls but Cross hilariously dunking Asuka's face into a water cooler and then pretty organically making their way over to the final table spot. I really dig the way the hate between Cross and Asuka has grown not really out of traditional WWE face/heel dynamics but organically out of their characters (I guess this is more or less heel vs. heel at this point considering how the Asuka/Ember stuff was shaking up). Like, of course if you put this rabid maniac and this woman who (rightfully) believes she's completely unbeatable in close proximity they will intensely brawl. I think bell-to-bell I'd put this at like ***3/4 or so but who is that rating for? Who is gonna watch this match and then hit stop at the bell, right? If you include the post-match, this is up there with my favs of the year so far, and I really hope their rematch in a few weeks delivers.
  20. This was really good. Kana dominated most of it, and Nakajima fought from under. Kana was great with her killer looking offense while Nakajima had some really fun comebacks. ***3/4
  21. Love me some awesome squash matches, and this sure was one of those. Watching Asuka on the offense is always a thing of beauty, her offense is just so fantastic, and I loved the cocky character work she showed here. ***1/2
  22. This was quite something - the presentation was very interesting w/ them having a special lightning for the match & then there's a guy playing an instrument throughout the whole thing. Gotta say I have never seen anything like this in terms of presentation. The actual match was a banger, just Kana & Meiko beating the crap out of each other w/ brutal submissions & stiff strikes - loved the selling of both women too. Great match. ****
  23. An intense match worked with a great sense of urgency. The only disappointing thing about this was SDR's awful selling - Kana worked over her leg throughout the match, and she just completely no sold it. Other than that, this was pretty great.. BUT I gotta say that it had potential to be even better had Del Rey bothered to sell better. ***3/4
  24. This is a really good house show match between these two. There is some entertaining back and forth throughout the match as opposed to the domination that you get in Asuka's TV matches. The transitions where well done, and Ember gets a nice run of offense before going down. ***1/2
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