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Found 53 results

  1. G. Badger

    Spotlight: Masato Tanaka

    Masato Tanaka was pretty much responsible for me getting into puroresu. His matches in the States with ECW were eye opening to me. He was tough, intense, and innovative. I would say he, Mike Awesome, and Tajiri were the 3 guys that convinced me that wrestling in Japan was something worth seeking out. After ECW folded, so did my interest in newer wrestling at the time. It was another 5 years before I got back into it. I've never really looked at what "Dangan" Tanaka was doing in that time when I was away. Masato Tanaka vs Samoa Joe (Zero-1 2001 or 2002): There was no date on this from the Youtube video but, based on the size of Joe and his attire (cut off tee & track pants), this was pre-ROH Joe. I believe per Quebrada.net that it's from BURNING HEART League 09/15/01. All that being said, this was 8 minutes of spots but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a blast! Joe was pulling out all kinds of stuff like a Fosberry Flop dive and Pedigree type move. Obviously Tanaka was going over but, you'd be surprised. Cool finish too! vs Shinjiro Otani (Zero-1 07/31/02): A classic 16 minute tournament match. It's like in that **** 1/4 - **** 1/2 range to me. It's best described as NJPW Jrs. style with 2000 era hard hits, a hot Korakuen krowd, and tourney match urgency. Tanaka & Otani don't go for epic, they go for the win. Dangan gets busted open from a Tree of Woe baseball slide if that's any indicator. Plus, Otani's facial expressions are as top shelf as ever. He takes the drama to another level with his emoting. Totally surprised by this match since no one really talks about Zero One especially in 2018...if you're a fan of either guy, see it. It'll be one of the best bouts you'll watch this week. Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs Steve Corino & Low Ki (ROH 11/09/02): This was the main event to the inaugural All Star Extravaganza. Otani & Tanaka kept this a lean mean contest. Otani damn near put Ki's face into the back of his head with a kick. Not to be outdone, Dangan hit a brutal lariat and shotgun stunner. Sure, it was Philly but, no chairshots needed. Corino & Ki were excellent as well. Highly recommend checking this out. vs Mike Awesome (Zero-1 02/29/04): Holy shit...wow. For an Awesome vs Tanaka match this might be the most dangerous one. I don't know if the match quality is the tops since they really do just run through the spots but, what spots they are! Highly recommended match for those missing this rivalry. I had no clue this existed especially since their One Night Stand match from 2005 was touted as their most recent battle since ECW. But that's WWE history for ya! Go see this Zero One match and witness the brutal spots for yourself! vs CM Punk (Wrestling-1 04/09/04): I'm not 100% on the promotion title as it appears to be a US indy with affiliation to Zero-1 or a US offshoot when they were trying to do a global wrestling thing. I read in the comments online that Punk was sick at the time but, this was a very good hotel banquet hall level match. Punk focused on Masato's arm amd gave the match a good sound body. It was really solid when they could have just winged a bunch of moves. It felt good because they eventually got into a nice little finishing run. Some big moves were hit and some were countered but, they never gave it all away. These two worked really well together. vs Samoa Joe (1PW 2005?): Again, the poster didnt' put a date but, this looks around the time Joe had the bleached brown/red bit in his hair while in TNA. This was a 10 minute sprint of wonderful stiffness. If the above match was about moves, this was about hitting each other. They go bat shit with it. This pairing is really, really good and I wish there was more available. Match goes to a double DQ but then we get... vs Steve Corino: ECW rules type of match. They're in the crowd and being a little cute for the people that loved ECW back in the day. I'm sure I would have dug this at the time but, the let's take a tour without actually fighting isn't as interesting anymore BUT it's not all of that. It's brutal at times too. So, this is a 2 in 1 or Gauntlet match for Tanaka and a must-see. Dangan all the way man! Tanaka to my knowledge only wrestled in ROH the one time but, he seemed like a perfect fit for early ROH from his performances above. 2002-2004 Tanaka in ROH would have been great and is certainly fodder for fantasy bookers out there. These matches are a hint of what could have been. Next time, I want to tackle what I'll call the Tanaka revival- from my estimates late 2000s to early 2010s. I'll see what I can find on the web.
  2. I’m a huge fan on the Indies when a storyline/rivalry crosses over different promotions. It adds a sense of realism and that there is a wrestling universe (rarely the WWE universe of course) where everything is interconnected. It enables you to feel wrestlers characteristics and motivations much more strongly. Over the past 15 years or so one of the best examples was the Raven vs CM Punk feud. I won’t go into too much of the detail, as I think there’s a fair amount of familiarity with it, but Punk’s straight edge lifestyle and Raven’s more ahem ‘colourful’ drug and alcohol past made them perfect opponents. Generally the FWA was decent at incorporating imports into storylines and not feeling throw away, however this match is fairly stand alone. Punk would complete a few more times over the coming tour this was a part of including challenging Doug Williams for the FWA Title, and Raven would return for a more prominent role in the company in 2005, but this feels mainly an attempt to tap into an over feud, between two talented ‘name’ guys to draw eyeballs. Before the match we see Punk walking through the building into the bar area and cutting an excellent promo on the vices of the fans (and Raven of course) and the poison they are putting into their bodies. It’s a really good promo and already shows the charisma and presence Punk had. The less said about how my fellow Brits come across during their time on screen… The version of the match that I’ve got access to is the version shown on the FWA’s weekly TV show on The Wrestling Channel so it’s fairly disjointed and cut up and it’s hard to get a sense of the real flow of the match and the story being told. Like a lot of their matches we get some stalling on the outside from Punk to begin with and then Raven getting on the mic to try and taunt him into losing his cool. Both look to try to take it to their type of match – Raven by trying to take it to the outside, while Punk wants to make it a more technical match. Having seen some of their ROH matches, this lacks the intensity of those contests and feels fairly paint by numbers – something which may have to do with the fact that I think their feud was starting to wind down. As mentioned, the ad breaks in the match and the clipping makes it hard to get a full sense of how good it is (and reflects my match grade), but what we get is still entertaining, carried by the rivalry and the charisma of the two. Pretty shockingly Punk ends up winning cleanly with the shining wizard following no cheating and/or no heel shenanigans. (** ½)
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4UtOsujdMQ This is both men’s UK debut, and is an ROH guest match, building on the working relationship that the two companies had built over the last year. It’s an interesting parallel as well to the year previously when Jonny Storm and Jody Fleisch had been taking their touring match to the US. I don’t think I need to go deep into the backgrounds of these two, but at this point in 2003 I believe both were aligned as part of the Second City Saints in ROH while Punk was still in the midst of his cross promotion spanning rivalry with Raven, that would also make an appearance in the FWA in 2004. Going into the match the commentators play up the two’s friendship as stablemates so the opening exchanges are based off respectful counter wrestling and one-upmanship. Colt has been pretty open about his respect and love for the British style of wrestling, and a couple of years after this would become a regular in the country to where he had honed that style completely. As you would expect with a Cabana match there are a number of instances of comedy, but what’s important is that they are always kept within the internal logic of wrestling and don’t detract from the match itself. It also happens that there are a couple of genuinely funny moments such as when Colt gets Punk to wind up for a shoulder block only to trip him. Punk is very much playing the straight man to Cabana’s humour early on and when the match is technical and being worked on the mat Colt’s greater mastery of that technique means he is largely in control. In response Punk’s approach is to try and hit more high impact moves, much of which such as the hammer lock close line and hammer lock DDT work on the head and neck. The match escalates when Punk tries a baseball slide to the outside only to get flung into the guardrail, followed up by Cabana hitting his always impressive springboard moonsault onto the outside. Unsurprisingly for two guys that were great friends and that had trained together they work really well with each other and you could already tell that through the smoothness in their transitions that they were a cut above quality wise than a number of the FWA guys on the card. Punk ends up winning a good match with his somewhat legendary Pepsi Plunge finisher (top rope pedigree) which probably for the best long term was sensibly retired. (*** ¼)
  4. Jericho & Kingston have the sunken chest. Ziggler has already been World champ, which means it meant zilch at this point (pun intended). CM Punk coming out to Cult of Personnality only makes him stand out so much more in the middle of all these awful generic themes (except for Kingston, which is awful but also "ethnic", you see). Kingston and him have a very good, quite hot first sequence; Kofi not only assume the Rey Jr. role of acrobatic underdog but also bumps his ass off on the gimmick. Ziggler is next and he's quite the heel at this point. Looks to have potential still. He also, as a show-off I guess, really wants to bump as much as possible on the steel during this match. Good for him. R-Truth. A rib. Three years in a row. Well, I've gotta say, he makes the most fo the few minutes he get with doing a bit more than his usual stuff and also takes one hard bump on the steel. Still, he's a goner immediately, because he's a joke. The Miz is next and shows some excellent heelish fire. This guy is underrated including in the ring, despite some of his stuff looking weak (a fucked up lariat in the corner here, which almost gets a "Lance Storm throws a chairshot in ECW in 97" reaction from the post-modern crowd). But still, his stuff against Punk is pretty fucking solid. Thus far, this match overdelivered considering who's in (both in term of standing and work ability, although it speaks volume about how Miz is underrated and how Kingston was actually quite good). Jericho vs CM Punk is the big story of the match. These two are a clear head and shoulder above everyone else as far as star power goes, Jericho working like Arn-the-veteran. Damn, his use of the pod to hurt CM Punk's shoulder was terrific and unique. After that point though, the match does kinda lose its focus. Ziggler is a goner then Kofi falls victim to Jericho after a great spot off a pod, but there Jericho goes crazy on him for no other reason than to waste time and lose focus so he can be kicked out of the chamber by Punk. Then they run this injury angle which takes kinda forever, with Jericho playing dead outside. It really takes the match down as they typically overplay the drama (you know the drill, Lawler doing his "low speak"stuff) and seemingly no one in the ring does anything, which doesn't make sense. The ending stretch of Punk vs Miz gets the intensity back with a terrific last sequence. This would clearly be a top tier EC match if not for the lost space between Jericho injuring Punk and the finishing stretch. It's like booking took over and they had to overdo an angle that took the whole match down for a while. Still very good/excellent overall, with Punk being the MVP, Kofi the most impressive in term of spots and Jericho doing a terrific heel job, while Miz was a workhorse and Ziggler a bump freak.
  5. Well, ok. The gimmick isn't bulletproof. This is a well known debacle. RVD starts with Holly, who took the place of Sabu in a first tone deaf booking decision. No heat. Pretty poor work. They had a really good match on TV, this isn't it. RVD re-does a bunch of his spots from the first EC match in 2002, but Holly isn't over. Has this guy ever been over ? RVD should never do running clotheslines, they look Ultimate Warrior level bad. CM Punk gets in and the crowd wakes up. They want him to win. Heyman did too, but that wasn't happening. He's the MVP of the match, turning it up a notch, doing the old Jerry Lynn double counter spot with RVD. That's the best and most heated the match will ever get. Then Test gets it with a crowbar. Inside joke I guess. TBH, he's not that bad here and actually is quite the trooper taking some good bumps. No-one cares apart from Stacy Keibler. What else ? Not much. CM Punk is eliminated by RVD, to deflate the disapointment a bit I guess, which doesn't work. Crowd boos and dies. Holly's elimination gets all fucked up by the ref. More boos. RVD gets eliminated by Test after an insane elbow from the cell onto a chair on his face, which looked like Concussion City. Crowd boos even more. How tone deaf can you get ? Now Test is by himself, alone, and no one gives a fuck about anyone. "Bullshit" and "Where's our refund ?" chants. Then Lashley can't get out because of Heyman's security. Yawn. Finally he uses the table inside the cell (well, weapons because it's EXTREME) to break the linked chain above. Looked crappy. Ok, so Test now bumps into the plastic like a maniac. Test goes away. MORE DEAD TIME. The final part with Lashley & Big Show, who was fat as fuck and coming off a godawful stint as ECW champ, was actually ok thanks to Lashley being a freak athlete hoss. Show sucked, and not just the wind, but it was watchable. Lashley winning actually got a pop. Mercy killing, really. Well. Terrible match, terrible, terrible tone deaf booking on all front. CM punk was the only real good worker. Test was a trooper. RVD and Show pretty much sucked despite doing some crazy stunts (including Show going through the plastic, which was expected and had not happened on the last EC match). Lashley was at least fun as a green-as-grass Batista-like jacked up hoss with no charisma but freakish athleticism. Yeah, finally, the Elimination Chambers gimmick layed an egg. Awful booking can kill anything.