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  1. I've got a pretty big gap in coverage for end of the year unfortunately. So I'm quoting the prowrestling.fandom Kento Miyahara entry to fill in some gaps for me & you: "In August 2013, it was announced that Miyahara would be taking part in AJPW's 2013 Ōdō Tournament the following month. On September 9, Miyahara announced he was officially breaking off his affiliation with Diamond Ring and becoming a freelancer. On September 14, Miyahara was eliminated from the Ōdō Tournament in his first round match by Suwama. In AJPW, Miyahara formed a new partnership with Go Shiozaki due to the similarities between the two in both size and age." Ok so this is where I pick up with the 10/27/13 show. Hikaru Sato & Masao Inoue vs. Kazushi Miyamoto & Nobutaka Araya - skip Masanobu Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura vs. Dory Funk Jr & Terry Funk - fast forward to see how bad it was. This picture shows what I'm talking about...no disrespect. Those tee shirts are sweet though! ----- James Raideen & Joe Doering vs. Bambikiller & D-Lo Brown - This was fun. D-lo vs Doering could have been a singles match. Atsushi Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie - Nice lead in video showing both teams training and developing new tag moves. The DDT team does a 2 man Go To Sleep but uses one guy's head instead of a knee. Then Burning uses a combination move that culminates in a back heel & running elbow strike that compresses the opponents head - very MCMG style. Anyhow this was a great match that is scratching at the door of a near classic. Like ****+ rating. Just fast action packed wrestling. Aoki & Suzuki are the tag team of the first half of 2022. Like MCMG or The Briscoes they are just putting on excellent matches regardless of familiarity. ----- Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. SUSHI - jip A good junior title match with SUSHI getting elevated by earning a shot at a previous show. He takes Kanemaru to the limit but I thought it could have been better. Not sure why...maybe I was groggy or something. I don't feel that Kanemaru did a lot extra here. It felt performed by rote. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs. Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara - jip I really wish this wasn't joined in progress to the point where the guys have wrestled enough to be visibly sweaty. Nothing I can do about it. That being said what it shown is fantastic, fantastic stuff. This is the precursor to Shiozaki breaking away from Akiyama's Burning stable. Miyahara is a very welcome addition. He's like KAI was - a junior who's transitioned into a heavyweight...like Eddie Guerrero. As a jip match, I'll say near classic but perhaps if shown in full, it'd be a classic tag. What sucks is some post match angle stuff happens including D-lo Brown & Kenso which is pretty fun BUT I think that's why they clipped off the first few minutes of the bout. * Edit: see comments below* ----- Suwama vs. Akebono - This is for the Triple Crown and before I watch it I bet Akebono wins. Let's see if this is any good. Well I was right...sorry for the spoiler! But it was a pretty good match. Suwama knew he needed to level the playing field and talked before the match about using the sleeper hold. And boy did he use it to good effect. Akebono truly looked like the monster he his. This is probably the best and most physical 'bono match I've seen. He looks in great (?) shape and scary when attacking. The smirks on his face when he knew that Suwama couldn't stop him were pretty great. So yeah a pretty good match and I'm kinda glad Suwama lost the belts so he can go on to do more interesting stuff in the promotion. ----- Okay let's see what happens for the close of 2013: "On November 14, Voodoo Murders held a press conference to announce that Miyahara was also leaving the stable to fully concentrate on working for AJPW. On November 21, Miyahara and Shiozaki came together with Atsushi Aoki and Kotaro Suzuki to form the new Xceed stable. The following month, Miyahara and Shiozaki made it to the finals of the 2013 World's Strongest Tag Determination League, but were defeated there by Evolution (Suwama & Doering)." Sucks that I wasn't able to find this Tag League match. I think that along with a few other tag league matches would have been a good end to this project. But 2014 should be pretty cool. I have to look at my notes but it should be a shorter project than 2013. I lost steam a couple times but all in all it was a rewarding experience. Just look at my Best Match Watched contenders list for the proof. You can can add the two tag matches from this show to that list. Thanks for reading!
  2. DDT does these big, all-star tags better than pretty much anyone. Our, ahem, HERO! goes for a handshake at the beginning, but gets blown off. Takeshita and Sakaguchi begin in a battle of power vs. technique. That's not a match we've seen much of, to my knowledge, so it's nice to get a glimpse of it here, however brief it may be. HARASHIMA & Akiyama continue where they left off at CyberFight Festival, having a gripping mat exchange. Every time HARASHIMA goes for a tag, Honda hops off the apron until Antonio's former Happy Motel stablemate, Endo, comes in. They trade punches, and Honda collapses in one fell swoop, but he baits Endo in for a strike. Endo kicks out his leg of Honda, causing the enemy team to mock him as he tries to enter the ring. This section is so joyous that even the usually straight-laced Sakaguchi can't help but crack up on the apron. Honda is oddly endearing as the face in peril, constantly hurting his bad wheel in increasingly hilarious ways, including one where he goes for a dropdown and gets tripped by Endo. Wholesale tags to HARASHIMA and Akiyama follow. HARASHIMA gets the better of an exchange, and we go into a showdown between one of the most reliable pairings in DDT, HARASHIMA, and Sakaguchi. The two batter each other with kicks, each glancing blow having more impact than the last. Things eventually boil down to Endo & another of his former Happy Motel teammates and storied rivals, Takeshita. Despite being the least interesting section of the match, having neither the charm of Honda's isolation nor the intensity that HARASHIMA, Sakaguchi, and Akiyama bring to the table, it's still more explosive than Takeshita and Endo's recent singles efforts. Honda comes in swinging, jumping over Endo to try and knock Sakaguchi and Akiyama off the apron, but Endo trips him up. Honda then grabs the microphone and does his usual comedy routine. The Burning and Sakaguchi trio's energy is infectious, as they can't stop laughing at Honda's antics. Except for Akiyama, who takes an errant swing at Honda. Honda goes for a dive off the top rope, but Endo gets his feet up, only for Honda to reverse his pinfall attempt in a great nearfall. Takeshita and Sakaguchi wipe each other out with dueling Jumping Knees, and once again, it comes down to Honda and Endo. Endo fells his old mentor with a Torture Rack Bomb and a Burning Star Press for the win. A fitting celebration of DDT's 25th anniversary, displaying its past in Happy Motel and its present in Burning. While it's unlikely to be remembered as one of the best matches of the year, it's perhaps one of the most enjoyable.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. Tanaka still looks like FMW Tanaka here. Saito has blonde hair. So when they face off, it looks like Tanaka is workintg against an uncool looking erzatz of Mr. Gannosuke. Odd. Also odd to see Tanaka be a dick, as he always was a perenial babyface. He does it quite well though, as he should since the first half of the match is mostly him and Ohtani, who's used to being a dick and loves to slap people around, doing heelish stuff like they are the Fabulous Ones or something. They do get heat although the home team is also a bunch of dicks. Akiyama does no sell a ton at first, like "I'm not selling that second rate promotion weak shit", and he doesn't make a lot of effort to put the opposition over. Honestly, I'd go so far to say he was the worst of the four here, as Saito is getting used to get his ass kicked now and does it well. It's like Akiyama was a bit disinterested to make this compelling honestly. There's a ludicrous no-selling exchange with him and Ohtani early which doesn't look very good, but apart from that he was still at least (and at best) *good*. Maybe the fact he didn't work on top kinda took its toll on his motivation. Anyway, after an okay "let's heel up" period, the finishing stretch finaly gets things going and Tanaka finally shines doing what he does. Heavyweight Ohtani still can deliver a terrific top rope dropkick on the back of your head too. NOAH's booking really was putting emphasis on Saito, as he's the one who gets to shine at the end. Very good match in the end.
  8. 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!
  9. 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!
  10. 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!
  11. 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!
  12. 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!
  13. Here we are at Part #2 of my non-comprehensive and completely based around my cheapness look at AJPW 2012. I have this and the 03/04/12 showon a AJPW comp type DVD. I think there's two more shows after that. Let's see how things go! Mutoh/Akebono/Ryota Hama vs Daisuke Sekimoto/Yuji Okabayashi/Yoshito Sasaki - This was a fine example of Korakuen hall 6 man magic. Mutoh and his team's limitations were hidden because no one was in there long enough to be offensive. Also the BJW team (who are some of my faves) have a simple hard hitting style that works well against the giants Akebono and Hama. Mutoh was relatively untouchable and did his trademark moves but - its fun to still see him out there! It was generally a predictable match with the fat guy spots, fighting spirit toughness and the aforementioned Muto spots but it was a ton of fun! Masa Fuchi/Hikaru Sato -vs- Hiroshi Yamato/Yasufumi Nakanoue - This was about 7 minute and had some good stuff but was too short to rate. Kenny Omega -vs- Kaz Hayashi. *All Japan Jr. Title - Overall, I think Kenny Omega is OK. Kinda like how I really like pancakes and french toast but waffles are OK if the other two aren't available. I wanted to say that first and foremost because I think his weird antics and attempts to get heat didn't help this match. The start of the match was a really exciting sequence followed by a spectacular moonsault off of some tables set atop the K-Hall stage. It was something special. After that his control section, which took up the middle of the match, were a series of tepid Muto spots where he was looking for cheap heat from the AJPW crowd. I don't think most people care because in 2012 who the hell was Kenny Omega to the AJPW crowd? It would be different if Muto was at ringside with Kaz. It really just looked bush-league. As the match kicked into high gear, Omega was performing at the level we would see in NJPW. In fact he out performed the veteran Hiyashi who threw some of the worst punches in the strike exchange. Omega was throwing stiff chops but Kaz wouldn't take the bait and dragged this potentially exciting moment down. The finish was pretty darn good but overall this title fight was disappointing. I guess my hopes were for a **** great match. There were glimmers of greatness but in the end this was just a good match with flaws. Jun Akiyama -vs- Takao Omori *Triple Crown* - This is not a mid 1990s Triple Crown defense obviously. But they were able to take this back to the late 80's -'92 era of Triple Crown matches. It was not tremendously spectacular but it was fought with ferocity and guts. And a bit of wits too. What interested me in this period of AJ was Akiyama's return but also in his stylistic choice to go back to the old days of AJ by focusing on smart hard hitting physical matches without the head drops or flash. This was a fantastic example of that as the body of the match focussed on his attempt to weaken Omori's Ax Bomber lariat arm. Omori then trying to fight despite that weakness and then realizing he can't get the win without it. This was a great match between two vets of the golden 90's going out there and showing folks (and probably Kenny Omega) how its done. Solid **** match right here. ---- Overall, this was a pretty good night of wrestling. Nothing that's must-see but I'm sure the Akiyama vs Omori is something that an old fan of AJPW would enjoy. I would recommend that for sure. the BJW 6 man match is also very fun. Again, the Kaz vs Kenny bout had some high points but is more about it being two guys letting me down. But I wouldn't dissuade anyone from watching it ...I still think its got more positive points than negative. Thanks for reading! Stay safe folks!