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Found 57 results

  1. What can I even say? This was so unbelievably out-of-this-world great. I was rooting for Shibata all the way through - but in the end, I wasn't mad/sad one bit that he lost because of how goddamn amazing this match. My immediate reaction was that it ranks right up there w/ the best All Japan classics of the 90's, and after re-watching the match I think there's only one match I'd put above it - 06/03/94. This match was full of amazing moments, character work & storytelling. Loved the early parts where Shibata kept Okada grounded with those amazing headlocks of his - love the somewhat WoS-esq stuff he has been pulling out lately. Shibata was simply making Okada his bitch at that point. Well, that made the young Rainmaker a bit upset, in his usual clean break spot he started beating the shit out of Shibata, which wasn't very wise as that lead to Shibata continuing to make Okada his bitch by doing exactly what Okada did to him, but twice as effective. Goddamn loved Okada's character work throughout the thing - he was getting beaten to death by Shibata, but he still is the new ace, the cocky youngster so he has to go & try to go toe-to-toe with him trading strikes. The whole finishing stretch was just a fantastic cherry on top of an all-time great cake - in the end Okada survived the ass beating The Wrestler gave him. This was so fucking phenomenal. *****
  2. Some meh "feeling out process" to start things off. Really nothing happened until Kenny started to attack Okada's knee, he beat the crap out of it, so naturally the champ completely no sells that work done on his knee to run full speed, counter stuff with that "damaged" knee & do his usual signature stuff. Nice. So the knee work was complete filler. Then again we get into a section where it feels like nothing is happening until out comes Bullet Club; they do some dumb drama w/ Cody almost throwing in the towel for Omega. After that the finishing stretch kicks in & it's pretty amazing - they went completely nuts just like in their Dome match. Kenny finally hitting the One Winged Angel only for Okada to get out of it via a rope break was terrific; spot of the match easily. So yep - this is something I would use as an example when bringing up the "going long for the sake of it" argument, because that's what this was; going long for the sake of it. It's frustrating because these 2 have a goddamn classic match in them, but they aren't gonna have it by going this damn long - in my eyes anyway. Great stretch after the Cody/BC drama, but overall a super weak match. **1/2
  3. It's late and I don't have a ton to say about it, but I thought this was another great match on this show. I really liked the way this built like a world title match with the slow crescendo to the string of big moves and nearfalls at the end, and once again, it didn't seem bloated or anything. I know that's not a rave review, but I'm tired.
  4. Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP Heavyweight title. Pretty good stuff from Jericho here in between the aggressive attacks, heel stuff and generally trying to stay one step ahead of Okada story wise. I like Okada in general but this was a nothing performance. Aside from the gloating at the start, he contributed nothing to the match. Good finish with Okada outmaneuvering the "brawler" Jericho with a simple wrestling move. The pacing was pretty lethargic though and large parts fell flat. Not bad but hugely disappointing. ***
  5. Really enjoyed this one especially the performance of Nicholls. He did everything with aggression and every strike he delivered was stiff even busting open Okada's chest in the process. You can tell motivated and had something to prove. Okada for his part was his standard self but was so giving making the crowd actually believe an upset is going to happen. Good stuff.
  6. We all know the great chemistry these two guys have together as well as the pitfalls many of their matches fall into. Still prefer their match from earlier this year, but this was a fun bout with the story of Okada needing the victory and Tanahashi needing only to run out the clock. I enjoyed the leg work for what it was even though (of course) it doesn't really go anywhere. I still liked that there were hints of the leg selling towards the end. Just hints though. Of course, the good stuff is in the finish and these two are quiet great at it. I'm a big fan of the finisher counter style they work so all the near misses for the Rainmaker especially that sudden left hand were some of my favorite spots. The finish was a big shock for me despite the track record and made for a nice surprise for me. Really good stuff here. ****1/4
  7. Sabre is killing it this year., and this is wonderfully laid out. Okada isn’t that good on the mat, but that’s fine, because he doesn’t have to be. He gets some holds in, which makes sense with his lucha training, but Sabre mostly dominating him while he screams in pain is what’s supposed to happen, and boy does it. Sabre knows it’s gonna happen, too, escaping anything with arrogant ease. Just like in the Tanahashi/Sabre final, this is built around the fact that Sabre can control the mat and counter most things (that first dropkick counter whooooo), but the size advantage is such that it makes sense that a few big moves can finish him. And Zack is cocky enough to occasionally get into striking exchanges to set up those openings. He sells the hell out of a big DDT, too, going to his neck and shoulders constantly in the second half of the match and eventually not being able to completely lock things in at the end. Great stuff, and it might not even be my 2nd favorite Zack Sabre Jr. match of the past few weeks.
  8. Tenryu's retirement match and also one of the most surreal pro wrestling matches I have ever watched. Tenryu is just completely broken down here, in the last few years he could barely walk but here he can't even do that and categorizing what he does here as "walking" doesn't really seem right. Still I totally get why this would win the Tokyo Sports Match Of The Year. I've seen people call this match sad and I'd agree with that. I don't think that makes it a bad match though. Wrestling is about emotion and symbolism, not execution. Tenryu can't do anything except stiff the shit out Okada for real, and to his credit Okada daring Tenryu to shoot punch him in the face some more is about as close as I can get to liking him. A lot of Okada's offence doesn't look good, and Tenryu didn't have the strength to Powerbomb him properly but I don't think it really took away from the match. If anything that Tenryu was so broken down added to the match really. You'd have him making all these gigantic faces indicating he's hurtin a lot and you're not even sure if he's selling or just expressing that he's 65. Eventually Okada sticks to just doing the one move he has that looks good (the Dropkick) and it becomes even better. The post-match was heavy. Tenryu's first words about his final being something roughly like "shit I lost" was so great and so Tenryu. Man. I can't remember if I cried or not while watching the post-match. That Tenryu would have something this special against Okada in 2015 is unreal. Compare this to Taue's retirement match and you'll get the best explanation of the gap between them. This match will have a special place in my heart for sure.
  9. Typical match of it's kind, but I usually always enjoy them, so I ain't complaining. This was very fun. Everybody got their time to shine & it resulted in a very good, fun match. ***1/2
  10. Very fun interactions between Okada & Zack - great tease for their upcoming title match + a great FIP segment w/ Ishii; Suzuki & ZSJ working like dad & son with those submissions while Okada had the ref distracted was amazing. Some very good, hard hitting interactions between Ishii & Minoru, too. ***3/4
  11. A big time dramatic main event epic. I really loved it for the most part - it had some selling issues, but overall I thought it was a really damn good match. ***3/4
  12. This is Okada's last match before being sent off to TNA. He is still a young lion, still dressed in plain black trunks and coming down to the ring to awful theme music. They start of with some slowish matwork, which Tana gets the better off. Tanahashi is in control for the majority of the match as one can expect, but Okada manages to sneak in a few big moves in. He shows a lot of fire and potential in these brief comebacks. One spot I love is Okada doing Tanahashi's somersault senton spot, not something you would expect a young lion to do. Tanahashi finally puts Okada away with the High Fly Flow. Looking at the rest of this card, this show looked to be televised house show which allowed Tanahashi to show a lot of arse for Okada. Okada does manage to get a few nearfalls on the Ace. Not a classic by any means, but very interesting to see. Just two years later, Okada would be one of the hottest things in pro wrestling. ★★★¼
  13. This was a long, grueling warfare that was paced & structured masterfully. Great dueling neck targeting throughout - both guys, especially MiSu, were on point with their brutal onslaughts on each other's necks. Loved the Inoki tribute by MiSu - that was such a great moment. It fit right into the atmosphere w/ his hometown crowd being mostly behind him. Those slap exchanges were absolutely amazing - MiSu putting his hands behind his back & asking Okada to slap the shit out of him was so great, as was the brilliant character moment of Okada when MiSu was slapping the soul out of him, he falls down, BARELY gets up & puts that forced cocky smile on. Outstanding character work. Loved every second of this. ****3/4
  14. This started out with a real traditional base. A lot of hammerlock and headlock exchanges. Nothing was awful about this exchange but it wasn't high end either. We do get a nice tease of the finishers early on which isn't as played out in 2012 as it is now. This also helps give gravity to the situation based on the fact that 1 RainMaker has been a KO blow so far. The action escalates on the apron and Anderson gains the advantage going after the arm of Okada. I was excited at the prospect of this as we havent seen that strategy utilized so far. Anderson does some good stuff on top wrenching the arm but Okada fires back. Okada focuses on the neck and does the guardrail spot again which is played out by this point. He does add a nice implant DDT to vary things up. From there, the match goes into an extended finishing run and I thought Okada used his right arm that was worked over way too much. I sort of see the theory that this match is again the latest example of NJ saying that Okada is the guy NOW, not necessarily the future, but it was excessive. A couple of neat wrinkles within the match included Anderson doing a spinebuster as a counter action to the flapjack. The finishing stretch again shows Okada's dominance and the crowd is chanting his name as he avoid the cutter and delivers the 1-2-3 combo of a back of the head dropkick, tombstone and RainMaker to secure his first G-1 Victory. I have seen ratings as high as ****3/4 for this and I can see that to a degree but the arm work really took me out of the match here and the finish was never much in doubt. ***3/4
  15. This was my favorite match of day 1 of these G1 Special shows. Thought it was a very charming match up that had somewhat of a old school vibe to it, especially with the 'World Champ vs. World Champ' billing & all. Loved it. ****1/4
  16. With loses to Nakamura and Naito earlier in the night, whomever won here advanced to the finals. Given that, I expected more urgency or just something in this match. Someone could hypothesize that this didn't get much more of a chance to build into something worthwhile, but it did have nearly 9 minutes. At the end of those, this neither felt like a well executed sprint or a 20 minute main event condensed by half. Makabe is a worker I eternally struggle with and some of his punches here were awful. Okada in turn didn't seem to know what to do with him throughout the match or in a storyline sense. The general arch of the match was him standing up to Makabe and showing his toughness but that fell flat for me. This was another one of those blemishes for Okada as a worker in that the match is fine but this is a big stage and having a match that feels like a throwaway main event isn't the best way to project yourself as a performer. **1/2