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Found 100 results

  1. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2020

    Welcome to my Best Match Watched of 2020 celebration! We've got big stars appearing and a number of musical performances lined up tonight! Let's get this party started! Oh wait, never mind all of that...let's just get onto the Big List of my favorite stuff of that I've watched this year. In chronological order: Pre 1970's: Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) Honorable Mention, Very good match with nice action and pacing. Simple story but, well worked. 1970s & 80s: Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81) Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger (05/26/82) Tiger Mask vs Bret Hart (07/30/82) Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26/88) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08/88) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88) 1990s & 2000s: American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Era of Honor Begins (2002) American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Daniels vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles - Road to the Title (2002) American Dragon vs AJ Styles - All Star Extravaganza (2002) Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe Final Battle (2002) Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans FIP Strong vs Evans (2005) KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) Low Ki (Senshi) vs Chris Sabin (TNA Bound for Glory 2006) Honorable Mention, An action packed match with 0 TNA bullshit to spoil it. Golden era X Division stuff. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Manabu Nakanishi (BJW 2007) Honorable Mention, A very good to great match that told a great story that that fans & myself could believe. Precursor to the BJW Strong Style revival stuff. 2010 to present: Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011) El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki (same) El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly " Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan " Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. " Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico " Cole & O'Reilly vs Sabre Jr. & Scurll " Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter " KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - All Together (2011) Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011) Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams ROH Pure Title tournament (2020) Mark Haskins vs Alex Shelley (ROH TV 02/20): Honorable Mention, excellent chain wrestling by Shelley and a good fit for Haskins hybrid style. Crowd actually was into this match which can be tough for live ROH crowds nowadays. -THE BEST of the BEST!- Pre 1970's...well I only watched a few pre 1970's matches and well Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) was the best of the bunch. The rest of my picks are going to be a little more difficult so, I think I'll do a top 3 or top 5 for the others. Then...just maybe will I actually able to narrow it down. 1970s & 80s: Clearly I was all about NJPW in the 80's although I did dip my toe in AJPW a couple times later in the year. They had some good 6 man matches (British Bulldogs w. Kobashi), I didn't see anything that could touch NJPW. Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81) Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88) 1990s & 2000s: And now we enter the Ring of Honor K-hole I was lost in for awhile. Hey, I'm glad I took that journey. I was pretty ignorant of Year One ROH and got me excited to keep watching their current stuff. Plus is encouraged me to check out the sister company FIP which I've been digging. Also, I have made some purchases that have fill in some gaps in my DVD collection. I hope to be hitting up a couple of those for 2021. So, my list boils down to these: American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe (2002) - Perhaps a controversial pick against the Era of Honor Begins but, I think this has the action along with the story lines Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) 2010 to present: There's a good chunk from the wXw 2011 tournament here but, what can I say? It was a great show. Perhaps similar to the Ted Petty Invitational 2004. Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011) El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011) The runners up: Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) - a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals...distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect. KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) - Felt like a late 1990's AJPW Four Corners tag classic Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan - I think this match best encapsulates the awesome hard hitting style that both guys showed all 3 days. I didn't rate it as a classic at the time but, both guys have stuck in my mind all year. Here's my top 3 and I'm just going by my gut: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) - This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry. Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) - I got an out of body feeling when watching this match that was very similar to the first time I saw Kobashi vs Misawa's matches from 1997. Maybe it was the mild hype that lower my expectations but, this blew my mind. Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. (wXw 2011) - As hard as Sasaki & Sami were in the tourney, these two went beyond that. Davey really only does one thing but, when he's in there with the right person it can be awesome. It has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes all with an aggressive pace. Best Wrestler: Fujinami was killing it in '88. Tiger Mask given the right opponent was working magic. Sami, Yoshihito Sasaki, and El Generico were on fire during the wXw tourney in 2011. But I'm going to give it to American Dragon Bryan Danielson specifically for his work in 2002 in ROH. A natural baby face to Daniels' gimmick and Ki's natual demeanor, Dragon is relatable in addition to being a fantastic in ring worker. He has a grip of classic matches but, also elevates his tournament matches into something you want to see as well. Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki was pretty much unknown to me other than a character in Fire Pro Returns but, he's a guy I want to be on the look out for in the future. Seeing as I got a 4 disc Best of BJW in 2006 set, the future might be pretty soon! But, I think the best surprise of this year was Full Impact Pro being pretty great wrestling. I watched their Unstoppable 2007 DVD a few years ago and for the first time a few years before that and it didn't "wow" me. I think my expectations were too high or something. As I watched it again, I saw stuff that I don't think I appreciated in the past. From that I've seen some really great stuff including Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans which is a lost "ROH" classic to me. I'm looking forward to getting back to FIP Fridays! Looking forward to: Tackling the mountain of DVDs I've got - AJPW, BJW, NOAH, NJPW, ROH and more including FIP. Duh right? But I'm also swinging back to FMW and specifically 1998 which may be their very best year. I've already watched a handful of matches (although I'm not including them on this year's list) and I am NOT disappointed. Thank you so much for reading this year! Its been a really crappy 365 days but, I hope I was able to give you a little bit of fun and inspiration. Let's hope for a better new year! Stay safe and keep watching wrestling!
  2. G. Badger

    ALL TOGETHER - 2011

    This was a wrestling show held in August 2011 in honor of the victims of the March 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami and the aftermath including the meltdown of the Fukushima power plant. Well, without going and checking dates I'm not sure they knew the scope of the disaster of Fukashima yet. That's one of those things that the company and government wanted to downplay at the time. And they still do. It is certainly one of those things that still exists but, is sadly a footnote in the 24 hour news cycle. It was almost a decade ago but, those people and communities are still gone...and that area is still radioactive. I digress. Ok so on to the wrestling part. This was a joint venture between AJPW, NJPW, and NOAH as well as some big time freelancers to but on a super show in the spirit of solidarity and togetherness in the face of a national tragedy. What better way to do so then have a bunch of dudes beating up on each other? I kid! All proceeds went to the Japanese Red Cross. It was one of those things that I shied away from at the time because I didn't know if it would be a somber show or if it would be dull due to the nature of the show. Its me being stingy with my wrestling dollar. Don't fret though because this show as well as its follow up (and Kobashi's farewell show) are all available in full on Youtube. I haven't been watching a ton of puroresu and thought "Man, this looks like a good way to get back into it after getting lost in an ROH k-hole." I had pretty low expectations but, this features a pretty complete list of top Japanese talent and I should check it out for the sake of it. Kota Ibushi, Taji Ishimori, BUSHI & Yamato vs Kaz Hiyashi, Shuji Kondo, Tiger Mask IV & Ricky Marvin - This was a short but all fireworks spot fest! What a way to start the show. My fears of a dull exhibition show have subsided. This was good stuff. Ricky Marvin was my fave. Naito, Sanada & Taniguchi vs Takahashi, Manabu Soya & M. Yone - I'm not writing out everyone's names. Every match is some form of a tag match and I'm not doing it! You probably know some if not most of the names and the others you can look up Anyhow this was a really good match where Naito got worked over but made a good comeback and tagged out to kick it up a notch - BAM! This was a good mix of guys and although there were some rough patches nothing ruined the fun. Makabe & Akitoshi Saito vs Hirooki Goto & Kea - This was my jam. Hard hitters hitting each other hard. Good chops and slams. These guys had that good upper card tag vibe going, Taiyo Kea and Makabe had good chemistry against each other. Very good match. KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - Oh man! They could split all these guys up and have a tag tourney and I'd be a happy man. What we get scratches that it nonetheless. Everyone gets in there and does their thing. KENTA and Koji Kanemoto on the same team!? Get outta here! Attitude for miles! So you've got that and everyone just is super talented and wanted to win, this was a great match. 15 minutes but, it was fantastic. Best match so far. Masakatsu Funaki, Liger & Sano vs Minoru Suzuki, Aoki & Taichi - NJ Dojo classmates united again. Suzuki is right behind them so that's the story of the match to me. Fun little match with good spots toward the end. The Destroyer battle royale - I skipped this... Nagata, Tenzan, Nishimura & W. Inoue vs Akebono, Hama, Y. Yoshie & Morishima - Fun match but, this would have been better with Nagata & Nishimura vs Yoshie & Morishima . Its only 11 minutes and its all good for where its at on the card. Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - So, Takayama was starting to not have "it" by this point but, he could still take a helluva beating. I wanted to say that right off the bat. That being said, this was a near classic macho beat-em up match. All three other guys were still awesome and the crowd was molten hot for this battle. I really really dug this especially at 15 minutes where it was all steak and no sizzle which works wonderfully for this style and the guys' ages. I'm a fan of all 4 so perhaps you think I'm full of it but, I really want to put this as like a ****1/2 match. The final 3rd of the match which had Omori in the ring more really put this up there. Best match of the show and should have been the main event in my eyes. Kobashi & Muto vs Iizuka & Yano - This won the Tokyo Sports GP Best Match of 2011 award. That like many of their awards is based on mass appeal, nostalgia, and star power. That and the finish is really something beautiful if you're a long time puro fan. SUWAMA, Tanahashi & Shiozaki vs KENSO, Nakamura & Sugiura - I totally get why this is the main event. These are the heavy hitter, the aces of their companies, the world champions. That being said I would have LOVED this id it was minus Tanahashi & KENSO because the other four guys are absolute beasts! So, it makes their offense look mid card level. SUWAMA and Nakamura grappling to start, Shiozaki & Sugiura blasting each other...it makes the other two guys stuff look soft. It got really really good though. All that talent in one ring, they had to have a very good match in their sleep. This was that match BUT! they threw a story element in there as well. It was kinda goofy but, the fans loved it and we got to see all these dudes in one ring at once. Kinda like a lucha trios match... Overall this was a really really good show and I think paid off the Dream Show vibe. I would say this would be like getting the '94 Super J Cup tape if you wanted to get into puro but stuff is so easy to come by with Youtube, NJ World, etc. that there's probably more relevant entry points now. But, let's say if you're looking to get into older stuff but, want a more modern presentation and a good introduction than this is a great way for that. I think its also a good reminder of the events that took place all most a decade ago. Thanks for reading !
  3. There was one really great FUTEN-esque exchange between Ikeda and KENTA in this. I can see KENTA having a pretty great career in BattlARTS/FUTEN or WAR just acting like a kickboxer. Unfortunately, Sugiura & KENTA immediately cooled that excitement down by working a rather lame control segment. Taue does almost nothing in this, but the 2 times or so he is in he really kicks people in the face or ragdolls KENTA around, so it's fair to say that he rules. It picks up again for the finish and Ikeda even gets to pick up the win with the Kinniku Buster in a nice moment.
  4. I took a small break from my New Japan 1988 project to cherry pick a few Golden Era Ring of Honor matches that I had been wanting to see. The theme I guess would be Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson but, KENTA is in two of the three matches. So its really Joe, Danielson plus KENTA matches that I wanted to see AND are free on ROH's Youtube channel. I've had these bookmarked for months and been waiting to see for more than a decade. There's no time like the present to check these out! Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Title, Midnight Express Reunion 2004): I've seen their 2003 match and heard that this was their best. It is considered a classic and in 2004 with the storyline of Joe post Punk encounter #1, I can see giving it that status. I'm not going to take that away in honesty because, I'm sure there are wrinkles that I've missed in 2020. That being said, I thought as a stand alone title fight this was very good (and perhaps great). I think the story was Dragon trying to force Joe to go long (like Punk had) but, also try to systematically dismantle the champ. That and Danielson post NJPW tour could hit with the hardest so, Joe didn't stand a chance. However, the Samoan Submission machine was in Terminator mode not only eating what Danielson was throwing but, dishing out some sickening blows himself and possession "the choke" or Coquina Clutch as TNA would brand it, I've read comparisons to 90's AJPW and I can see that as there were few slams and suplexes compared to strikes and submissions. Where this differs is the organization department. Most notably Joe's need to fit in the Ole kicks 2/3rds of the way in. This is the point where my excitement went off track. Each guy was desperate to close the fight and now Joe finds it necessary to do his showboat/insult move? He should have just faked it out and just chest kicked Danielson or something more visceral. And that's the thing... the match was at a gut level violent...like Tsuruta vs Tenryu then, Joe (and I don't really blame him in '04) inserts an Indy fan service move. A bit of wind went out of my sails. My other quibble is Danielson's attack psychology. The awful 2004 announcers (whom I muted on the 2nd watch) even acknowledge the change in gameplan. This is so heavy handed on their part frankly...they're explaining rather than letting the wrestler do so with their actions. Anyhow, I would have preferred a Liger-like focus from Bryan on Joe's leg or neck early on then settle into the middle of the match only to call-back to that to set up the ending portion...even if it would not lead to the finish. Instead, it doesn't seem like he can commit to a single plan of focus and neither can Joe from a selling standpoint. So, the story of the challenger doesn't come across as strongly as it should have, Those things would have made this an all time classic in my eyes...I think this was the time where Gabe S. was really pushing the long matches = great match ideology for ROH. The above flaws would have been less bothersome if this was 5 -10 minutes shorter. Not that it NEEDED to be but, they story would have been tighter and the earlier portion would have look less like time-filler. Nevertheless, I watched the damn thing twice in two days and enjoyed it both times so, I gotta recommend watching this. Samoa Joe vs KENTA vs Bryan Danielson (In Your Face 2006): This is another match that I'd been wanting to see for a decade plus. I'd seen clips from the ROH Live Wire from another DVD and thought this looked awesome but, perhaps too good to be true. I was wrong. This was precisely the match I'd hoped it would be. A high intensity, ultra stiff action packed 3 way match during their peak.Honestly, 2006 was the peak of their peak and this was special. A classic match that doesn't go too long or get too cute. Perhaps an all time classic if I'm going to be honest with myself. The shorter match length (20+ minutes I think) kept everything mean and showing how much Joe & Bryan had improved in just over a year...and ROH for that matter. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA vs Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson (Best In the World 2006): I watched this bout right after the above and if you have the luxury, I suggest you do the same. It plays off of (and in real time sets-up) the heat between Joe & KENTA beautifully. Not only that but, we have 4 of the best wrestlers in 2006 facing off and this is probably the closest to a AJPW Big 4 match as ROH did. Some have given this **** but, that's the bare minimum in my view. This match deviated from the balls to the wall fest that many were hoping for and instead provided all kinds of build ups and cool-downs that only master wrestlers can do. And I'm not talking about kickouts but, they achieved this by scaling up the intensity and urgency through body language, speeds, how hard they through their strikes, when they chose to tag, etc. It was a thing of beauty and like all true classics, I could have watched this all night. Even when a error was made, it was forgiven and forgotten as a miss rather than a mistake. If you are a fan of these guys and this style, check this out. You may not think as highly of it as me but, you will have fun. That goes for all of the above! Three remarkable matches available for free on ROH's 'tube page. I'd like to get the DVDs of the ones featuring the NOAH guys since I'm old school but, if not I'm stoked that I saw them. Thanks for reading! We'll get back to NJPW 1988 next week for sure!
  5. Talk about it here. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19v3f2_kenta-c-vs-takeshi-morishima-noah_sport?search_algo=1
  6. This was a lot of fun. You got some brief interactions between Kobashi & Misawa, and those were pretty wild as you'd expect, then you got KENTA & Marufuji doing their thing - some fast paced, energetic sequences. My favorite thing though was just seeing KENTA & Kobashi kick Marufuji's ass - my goodness their offense looked so great & Marufuji sold the beating well. Great match. ****
  7. The match is mostly dominated by Kensuke who just beats the shit out of KENTA. KENTA sells really well for him & gets some great big comebacks in. A very well told, great Heavyweight vs. Jr. Heavyweight story. ****1/2
  8. This is such an amazing match. Tenryu gives a hellacious beating to KENTA - who sells it fantastically. Tenryu was just so good in this delivering that asskicking & being the grumpy vet. KENTA was tremendous as the underdog selling his ass off while getting some brief comebacks in - only for Tenryu to cut them all off. Tenryu beating up anyone is a winning formula & then you get KENTA as the underdog which is another winning formula - you combine those 2 and you get fantastic pro wrestling match. ****3/4
  9. I'm pretty confident in calling this the greatest under two minute match of all time. I was wondering how some of these NOAH matches would hold up for me but this one absolutely did. The match start off with probably theg reatest blindsight dive of all time, you've seen the spot where one wrestler attacks the other before the match starts a thousand times, and a fair share of those have been junior dives, here KENTA is just normally walking around the ring and Marvin comes out of nowhere crushing him. His next move is getting KENTA back into the ring and John Woo Dropkicking KENTA. That's a move that looks badass by itself, but here KENTA's skull crashes into the bottom turnbuckle. Marvin follows it up with a Powerbomb for an early nearfall setting the insane pace. That is followed by KENTA's transition back into control, which has KENTA try a couple of counters that Marvin adjusts to-first by Savate Kicking him, and then when Marvin bounces off the ropes and you already see KENTA countering that with a Front Head Kick Marvin does this amazing Jackie Chan kip-up combo. I really have nothing against flips in wrestling nor anyone wrestling any style, my problem most of the type is simply that many wrestlers don't possess the creativity and wrestling intelligence that Marvin displayed here. You could also have a situation where Marvin would do five of those while his opponent did some other flips, but that doesn't really convey the sense of struggle in that flashy move it did here, where Marvin legitimately looked like a kung fu master. KENTA takes all of Marvin's shots and still comes back with a Discus Lariat. This could've bothered me, but with their difference in hierarchy and how the match was worked I deemed it fitting. From then on it's a game of cat and mouse with KENTA blasting Marvin with huge kicks and attempting the G2S while Marvin attempts desperate flash pins and counters. The second time he goes for the same counters KENTA is ready-and he catches him, counters his counters, knees him and kicks him in the head and goes over. Wonderful pro wrestling. ****
  10. This rocked my world. I was super excited for it because I am such a Hideo fanboy & I've been watching lots of his stuff recently - I didn't have too high hopes for the match though as Roode doesn't impress me at all. Thought his matches vs. Nakamura were absolute shite. But here, goddamn. The man gave such a great performance. The beginning w/ him going for the Glorious taunt only for Hideo to attempt the ultimate murder-death-kill machine that is GTS was, pun intended, glorious. Loved Hideo being one step ahead during the early stages of the match - real good stuff. Once it was time for Roode to get the advantage & work the heat on Hideo, I thought the match could die down because Roode has a long history of boring ass control segments, but fuck me, he was so great here. He worked over the neck of Hideo in fantastic, compelling fashion. Hideo's big comeback was great; coming back into things with a straight up pimp slap. Classic Hideo. Roode hurting his shoulder after hitting the ringpost was tremendous - that lead to ol' Hideo targeting that arm w/ his brutal kicks & submissions, naturally. Awesome. Roode's selling was perfect. His hope spot Spinebuster was great. Still selling the shoulder perfectly. The brawl outside the ring was so well done - great battle for control; Hideo running wild again, only for Roode to get the advantage after he ducked Hideo's big dropkick & Hideo hit the stairs, hurting his leg. Love it. Hideo's selling of the leg injury was really great - he hit a couple of moves where he used the leg, but every time he did that, he sold the damage done to his leg big time. The whole finishing stretch was tremendous w/ a nice strike trading section (which Hideo obviously won, as he should've), Hideo not being able to hit the GTS due to the damage done to his leg, him nailing Roode w/ that GTS, only for him Roode to roll out of the ring - very nice of them to protect the move, Hideo slapping the shit out of Roode, great counters. Tremendous stuff. Easy MOTN & my #2 WWE MOTY behind Reigns/Braun from Payback now. ****3/4
  11. Borderline great NOAH 6 man action. Really fun opening, BURNING try isolating Taue only to eat a bunch of boots to the face and Taue ends up teasing the apron chokeslam on Kobashi with Ikeda helping him. We get some brief exchanges where you can't tell what the layout is going to be and then Taue takes out Kobashi with the big chokeslam on the floor anyways. In 1995 this probably would barely phase Kobashi but in 2002 this takes him out for a long time and we get a long heat segment with KENTA taking a huge beating while Shiga desperately tries to save him. That they were able to get serious heat for something like a Sleeper Hold in Differ Ariake speaks volumes about they excellent job the rudos did here. Ikeda was in top form, hitting hard, constantly running in to cheap shot dudes and almost knocking KENTA out with high kicks and spin kicks. Kobashi ends up coming back altough looks badly wounded. We get a really fun finishing run with Ikeda laying into Kobashi, doing a great job selling a big suplex, Shiga busting out his awesome submissions. Bison manhandling the little dudes etc. Great postmatch too, Taue rules.
  12. Jeez, I've been watching a lot of NOAH lately. I suppose it's because I'd turned a blind on it for so long after so many drawn out strike battles, over long "epics", and a roster that resembled a pop talent show more than puro company (at least from their names and appearances..more on that later). Eddie Edwards is one of those guys that I've come to consider a favorite of mine recently. I'm not exactly sure why however. He doesn't have a real remarkable look and he doesn't seem like a real 'character.' He seems very much like an athlete who's chosen profession is wrestling. I suppose that's why I like him. So, I was pleased to see that he popped back up in NOAH (on a talent exchange) last year. For those that don't know (or care), Edwards developed a true professional over in the NOAH promotion in the mid-2000s. So, when he came into ROH (again as sort of a talent exchange) he was looking like top talent in the making (except for his braided Jason Newsted haircut). I pretty much forgot about him for awhile (3 years perhaps?) as I focused on other promotions and older puro. Occasionally, his name would pop up in tape/DVD listings or reviews. It was good to see that he was still around and thriving. So many of those mid card guys in ROH had a lot of potential but, something happened and their careers never blossomed (Erick Stevens and Brent Albright are two I recall). I think the match that put Eddie on my radar as a serious talent was a 2011 match in NOAH vs Kotaro Suzuki. Kotaro had the GHC belt and much like Eddie, it was fantastic to see a lower ranked guy was getting pushed AND was doing well. This match had gotten some praise at the time and probably was one of the the more positively reviewed matches in NOAH at the time. Or at least that I can recall...2011 wasn't getting a lot of love. Gosh, to be honest after that, it probably wasn't until 2015 where for whatever reason, I thought I'd give PWG & ROH a try again that I started seeing Eddie Edwards clips on the 'tube. But, I'm rambling because all I want to cover in this entry is Eddie Edwards short lived but, historic GHC title run. A transitional champion? Yes but, the first non Japanese to hold the belt. Plus, he's the man to have ended Katsuhiko Nakajima's 307 day, 7 defense reign (the longest since KENTA's 2013 championship reign). That's pretty significant to me even if NOAH is in umm...transition??? Nevertheless, Eddie's involvement (through Impact's agreement with NOAH) helped bring me back into the viewership. Plus he really cut his teeth during his early years on the ARK so, it was a bit of a coming home story with him winning the title. So, let's take a little look back: Eddie Edwards & Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi (08/23/08): I am expecting fireworks from the get-go but, it begins with conservative striking and grounded holds. This is the first five minutes until Nakajima gets a bug up his ass about Marvin. He gets in the ring like a junkyard dog off his chain to save Ibushi. Then it picks up with the combos like Marvel vs Capcom 2. None of it is really engaging me though. Everyone is doing a bunch of running, kicking, and jumping. It's not that I even care who is doing it OR why. It's pure fireworks for the sake of going:'Oh wow!' *BANG* 'Cool!' *POP* 'Oh that was neat...' until you kinda get bored until the spectacular finish where all kinds of shit is blowing up. Sounds familiar with some wrestling matches, right?? That was this 100% to me. It was good but, nothing more. Eddie however (since this is his little feature) looked the strongest to me. He was most in contol of his movements as well putting forth the most effort for the longest period of time. A. Ito & I. Ota vs Ricky Marvin & Eddie Edwards (09/06/08): This is how you do a tag match- bring some hate, desire to win, desire to inflict pain or embarrassment...something right? You've got to have some energy! 8 minutes of great shit beats 21 minutes of blech. Marvin & Edwards were flipping awesome here. Ito & Otis looked good too but, mainly vehicles to put Rick & Ed over. Fun stuff so, I'd recommend going outta your way to watch this as it's under 10 minutes. Eddie Edwards & KENTA vs Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi (Apollo 55) (07/10/10): An all action match that I never knew happened. Apollo 55 was pretty big at this time so, it was a big deal for them to be in a NOAH ring. KENTA & Edwards look as good as any team against them. In fact, they looked better. Maybe it was the different environment or the green ring but, 55 seemed a little of this evening of combat. It's nothing embarrassing or even noticeable but, KENTA & Eddie were hell of a hard hitting tandem compared to the more Junior move-centric Devitt & Taguchi. Nevertheless, it was a very satisfying fantasy match up come to life. Very Good match! vs Kotaro Suzuki (01/29/11): GHC Jr. strap is on the line. They set a really good pace here for a title match. The highspots were simple but, spectacular. Both guys sold the exhaustion & pain from the match and it appeared that it was a struggle to win an athletic contest- not a performance of some maneuvers. It looked like a title fight. It really clicked for me. I am a fan of both guys but, in a way that makes me a harsher critic. I wanted to see both guys kick ass and if either were dogging it, I took note. I mean Kotaro's elbows looked tired toward the end. But to be honest, I think he was rattled as all hell. Eddie did not go easy on him and wouldn't put over the elbows until it was believable. If it was all selling then, double kudos to them for getting the story across that well. This was a great match! So I'll only do a little bit for Eddie's title fights because it was an unfortunately quick run... vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (08/26/17): A nice quick pace. The intensity and the drive to win for Edwards is really apparent. Whoa! he almost crippled Naka' on that tope! Ed's working the back...very nice. The strikes are there but, there are a variety of them as well as actual moves. At least 3 Evel Knievel suplexes. This feels like NOAH from a decade ago! A minute or 2 could have been shaved but, this was a great match! You should check this one out. vs Naomichi Marufuji (10/01/17): Marufuji had been competing in Impact (TNA) so, this in a way an Impact & TNA event (ya know how ROH & NJPW do co-shows?). Anyhow, I liked this but, it felt a little too smooth to me. The crowd was sedated as a psych ward too. That was a bummer but, it was still a Very Good match. It would have gone over better in front of the Impact crowd I think...it certainly was wrestled in that style. vs KENOH (12/22/17): I really got into this one despite KENOH looking like a Blade Runner Brian Jones. These guys had great chemistry together and put on a fantastic match where I'd like to see them compete again or team up in the future. Great match for sure! I think Edwards gave the company a shot in the arm in terms of experience and talent. NOAH feels very unfamiliar to me in 2018. There are few faces from the past to root for & those there seem unenthusiastic or uninspired (Shiozaki & Sugiura). The newer guys like KENOH have an off-putting look about them. It's sorta like whatever glamour B.S. Marufuji & Ibushi (and Tanahashi) brought to puro really rubbed off on these guys (HAYATA & YO-HEY). Masa Kitamiya doing a Masa Saito tribute and Nakajima channeling Ashura Hara is promising though. But, I looked on the NOAH roster page a moment ago and thought, "Who are these guys? and why should I watch this?" I get a very 'local independent wrestling' promotion vibe from NOAH. They have guys you know and maybe bring in big names but then have a load of guys you may be heard of or saw in a match or two that have a goofy name or look (much like Eddie Edwards early on) or complete no-names. I guess it behooves me give them a chance though. KENOH, who may look the goofiest of the bunch & has an all CAPS name, is A-OK in my book. He let his wrestling do the talking much like Edwards did in late 00's ROH. So, perhaps it's fitting that Ed lost the title to him. Changing of the guards? Maybe...who knows? Again, it would be great to see Ed in that green ring with KENOH in some shape or fashion. NOAH might be heading in a good direction. Again, who know? Good stuff and a fun little spotlight for me Thanks!!
  13. Pro Wrestling NOAH after Misawa's passing is uncharted territory to me. I know that it exists and I've even seen a little bit of it but, I tend not to wander around too long. This cluster of matches popped up because I wanted to do a brief "Shiozaki vs the Stars" post. Like most wrestling projects, I got sidetracked Here we have a sort of triple main event for NOAH's Great Voyage in Tokyo show. GHC Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Ricky Marvin vs Katsuhiko Nakajima: 18 minutes- Nice striking, clean execution so, it was a very good match from a mechanics standpoint. The story and energy wasn't engrossing however. Nakajima worked on Ricky's leg and the Rick man sold it like death during his time on 'defense ' but, his offense was counter intuitive. If you have hurt knees then, for god sakes! Don't do a knee drop or double foot stomp! I'm not saying don't fly... 'cuz you gonna fly Ricky...but think before you leap man. Still...I liked it but, you know... :-/ Triple Crown Heavyweight Title Match: Jun Akiyama vs Taiyo Kea: 23 minutes - This was like a '99-'00 Triple Crown bout. It has a slower pace and an emphasis on telling a story. This is my preferred style for title matches. So, this starts very grapple heavy until Kea gets a cheap one in on Akiyama. The fighting begins and soon spills over to the floor. Referee Wada has something to say about this & I loved it! He & Jun were priceless! Taiyo takes the opportunity however, and puts his tri-laser Predator beam on Jun's bandaged shoulder. I'm not going to spoil anything else! This was very much a 'story match' and had me interested from bell-to-bell. The veteran pair never tried to upstage the GHC title match in the top slot. They instead just put on a Triple Crown match with a steady building pace that felt organic and never rushed. A great match! GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Go Shiozaki vs KENTA: 27+ minutes - I watched this twice in order to form a better opinion. Both guys are Kobashi protege. This is an action oriented bout where there's no greater story than, 'I'm Tough!'...'No! I'm Tough!'. Thankfully, this did not descend into aimless dueling strikes for 15 minutes. Of course, they hit each other but, in a practical and purposeful way. Go stuck to his chops and KENTA mixed it up with damn near everything else but chops! They had their spots and everything was really quite good. I long for the days when wrestlers struggled to hoist each other into throws though. Think about Misawa fighting with all his might to lift Kawada into a Tiger Driver or German suplex. These two just lifted each other with the greatest of ease deep into the fight...this detail really bugged me. Its probably what holds it back from being a classic match. If you're more interested in or familiar with 2010's puro then, you probably won't mind this- and that's cool! To me, it didn't feel right...but then again, we're watching two Kobashi kids kick butt...so maybe I am blowing hot air! Quibbles aside, this match was very much worth the time. Both guys were very impressive and the final third of the match was dramatic and brutal. A great match! So, all 3 matches were a good time with the two Heavyweight title fights being in the **** area. You may even get a bit more out of them if you're interested in newer stuff. If you're liking an older style then, the Kea-Akiyama bout might be more your speed. In any case, a sweet bit of puro for November 27th, 2011! Thanks for reading!
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