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  1. So AEW did their barbwire explosion match and it was a bust. I kinda saw that one coming. If you've seen any recent Onita explosion stuff its not really the same quality of boom-boom explosions from the 90's. Its more sparkles on speed than scary !BANG! type stuff. I also heard that they didn't time the match properly and the had to stall for 4 minutes for the finale. That sounds worse than the big explosion not working. But for real...it was not going to be early 90's FMW explosion stuff...people had to know that in 2021. Those ones looked damn near illegal...even for Japan. That's my G. Badger hot take that no one asked for Anyhow lets get on to the Frontier Martial Arts wrestling! We go to May of 1998. Jado & Gedo vs Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (05/05): This was the match you expected from all four guys. It was all action with Gedo & Jado being the heels to the max and our heros have to overcome their cheating ways. It feature a bunch of great exchanges and really would be on my Top 100 FMW list. It was a ton of fun. A great match to me! Masato Tanaka vs Hayabusa (05/19): Bahu's top singles match of FMW so I had high expectations. But man, I was disappointed. It was not as good as their 03/13 classic. It wanted to be consciously epic by having a load of false finishes but, it just does not work in 2021. I don't think it works in 1998 to be honest because the lay out was all wrong. It starts with a wonderful opening exchange then gets to the wrestling to injure a limb type stuff but, that goes nowhere because it leads right to the false finish portion. This is the MIDDLE of the match mind you because then we get to the strike exchange and 2-3 move sequences. These things are the logical escalation when mat wrestling/joint locks aren't working. A guy gets angry and starts throwing bones. The short sequences work because they have enough energy/stamina to still counter/parry/reverse. This does NOT make sense after getting dropped on your head a half doesn't times. Maybe one or two strike exchanges that are out of desperation OR going for a knockout blow. But that should be the finish. Even if they kept the layout, it could have been shaved down to 20 minutes (five minutes from the middle) and it would have been very good to great. It was good on the things mentioned above and maybe you would like it more than me so, I can't trash it. But, their match from earlier in the year is the classic to me. Hayabusa/Tanaka vs W*ing Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki (05/27): Thank goodness another great all action tag match with a tried and true structure to cleanse my palette. This is sort of the big stakes version of the Jado & Gedo match. It was a near classic to me as FMW seemed to have their tag matches down like 88-90 AJPW...I would give Fuyuki some credit there as he was right in the thick of many of those bouts. Ricky Fuji vs Gedo (05/27): Another face/heel match but, this was not as crazy or anything. Fuji is a midcard star so this pretty much what you get. Tetushiro Kuroda vs Masato Tanaka (06/19): This was like 95-96 Kobashi vs Misawa in that it pits lariat against elbow. Plus they laid a good foundation with arm work then escalated in the fast paced action with counters, reversals, and improvisations. Although Kuroda & Tanaka have about the same experience, Kuroda is the up and comer at this point so, again the Kobashi/Misawa analogy works to some extent. That being said, these two's chemistry is just as good as Hayabusa/Tanaka IMO. This was Classic stuff. Hayabusa, Daisuke Ikeda, H. Oya & Ricky Fuji vs Fuyuki, Nakagawa, Kanemura & Gedo (06/19): Multi-man matches are usually pretty good and this is no different. At the very least, you get a little bit of everything here and that's pretty much the best way I can sum up this bout. It went on after the above singles match since it was Team No Respect vs Team FMW. Tetsuhiro Kuroda vs Hideki Hosaka (07/10): Dull-ish start as Hosaka wanted to work the arm and Kuroda wasn't having that. After that though things got entertaining and they traded moves and it was good opening match and was only 10 minutes. W*ing Kanemura vs The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) (07/10): Of all of the matches I've seen so far, this one is most like a "FMW match." It is very reliant upon the table & chair spots and other highspots as opposed to the more NJ Jrs./AJPW athletic matches we've seen. As a Mike Awesome fan, I'm going to say this is because of Mike Awesome (RIP). This is what he does and this is what you're getting in a bout with him especially a singles bout with a bigger name opponent like W*ING. His 6 man and tag matches are more dynamic and brawling but, in these big encounters you'd better believe his opponent is getting bombed through a table to the floor. That all said, this is no problem to me! I'm game for all types of wrestling and if you're going to do that kind of match then these two are some of the best at this time. Pretty good match and much better than their 12/11/96 match IMO. Hayabusa, Daisuke Ikeda, H. Oya & Ricky Fuji vs Fuyuki, Nakagawa, Jado & Gedo (Elimination Match) (07/10): This was the fancier and longer verion of the 06/19 match. It was a good match but honestly nothing tremendously distinguishable from that match. I didn't keep notes on this one so, that perhaps is my fault for having these blur together. I tend to enjoy elimination bouts so, I would say check it out. Its not some 80's NJPW level stuff but, its fun and now that I remember it - it has a surprising finish. This was not a mind meltingly awesome of an installment as FMW '98 #1 but, if you're a Masato Tanaka fan then, you really ought to check the matches out. The two great tag matches with Hayabusa and the classic with Kuroda are totally worth your time. Then you have an old school spot match with Kanemura & Awesome that will still impress you. Search Bahu FMW and you will find a wealth of FMW stuff online. Thanks for reading! Sorry for any delay too - I've been watching odds &ends stuff and pulled my old copy of Fire Pro Returns out. I've been messing around with playing my edits of FMW and BJW guys Keep staying safe!
  2. G. Badger

    Spotlight - FMW 1998

    Glad to be back watching FMW I think it is one of those promotions that might get lost in the sands of time. So, I'm always eager to bring it back to the surface in my little way. Just for reference:I'm using BAHU's best of 1998 matches and the FMW commercial tape Story of F vol. 3 - Best Bouts as my guide here. Do see my earlier posts using the FMW tags or just go back a couple pages for the big list of matches. If there's anything else I come across, I'm going to include that too. Honestly, I just want a reason to get back watching Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling! Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06) - This was a fast paced and intense battle between foes. Gannosuke stabbing Tanaka was sickening (and great)! Everything looked especially vicious in this match - lariats, chair shots, DDTs, you name it. Some might find fault with prolonged or deep selling but, I think it can be explained away by two guys really wanting to murderize each other. I think everything show really reflects that psychology. This was a classic match to me. I was kinda on that fence like ****1/4+ area but, intensity and pace really go along way for me. I'm not one to have to tick off the "how did long did he sell it" when watching wrestling anymore. Its nice to see long term selling and really can elevate a match but, isn't necessary. That is something to keep in mind when going through all of these FMW matches actually. Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13) - This match is notable as it takes place in the black ZEN FMW ring which if I understand it all was Onita's stable and freelance group/promotion. I'm thinking like Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring was to NOAH. This is also notable as there were zero weapons or tables used. This was a fantastic clean wrestling match of the company's top stars. It easily could have taken place in an NJ or AJ ring and you would not have known the difference. This was 30 minutes of each guy giving it their all whether it be strikes, joint locks, or slams. I would have liked to see the arm/leg work factor into the finish or be given some more attention later but, like above I'm not going to gripe. They didn't blow it off - it just wasn't the story they were telling. It was very reminiscent of later NJPW Jrs. in that regard but also going for longer bouts like AJPW was doing. So, in this "pure" FMW match they weren't going for one or the other but, simply showing that they could do that too. Like, "we can take the barbwire, explosions, chair shots BUT can also wrestle long well executed bouts. We're not Garbage Wrestling." I think this is sort of the same idea behind BJW Strong Style. I thought this was another classic match -great action, great execution, great intensity...it was fantastic. Jinsei Shinzaki vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/21) - Jinsei is getting crafty against his nemesis by waiting to jump Gannouske as he exits the dressing room. It backfires as W*ING Kanemura is there for back-up and turns into a 2 on 1. Kanemura heads to the back after awhile since it's only a matter of time before Mister finished the Monk off. Or is it? Jinsei has to be legit hurt or dazed after the beating he took so, his fight to come back feels very real. I mean he's bleeding from the back of his head! Every bit of offense he can pull to slow down Gannosuke feels meaningful. Maybe I'm over-rating this but, it felt like another classic match. Much more on the story being told than just the action/intensity aspect. This was a top tier Jinsei singles match. You don't need to know too much about their past matches - just watch how Gannosuke mocks the praying powerbomb *all of the time* and you can understand why Shinzaki want to keep fighting. Atsushi Onita vs Kodo Fuyuki (04/30) - Battle of the FMW leaders. This is a lumberjack match but, I don't recall that playing a big part in this. It was a good match but, I didn't think it was great. I appreciate Fuyuki as a wrestler much more than Onita. This is especially true following him from AJPW to SWS then WAR. He may not have been clocking classics like his contemporaries Misawa & Kawada but, the man put on great matches in that late 80's Tenryu vibe. W*ING Kanemura vs Jinsei Shinzaki (04/30) Revenge on the monk perhaps? Team No Respect in full effect - lewd hand gestures & spitting on Jinsei for instance. They even had their own rudo referee! Anyhow, this is a 12 minute 3 act match capped off by a cool finish. There may be more nuances that I'm missing to make this a great match or a classic but, its quick, fun wrestling. Fans of either guy would be glad to check this out! Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30) - Damn! What a match! Hayabusa was hitting everything on point but, what made this something special was Gannosuke's Kawada-level selling of the leg. He had to be legitimately hurt, right? But he wasn't out of the fight. He was dodging and blocking moves and went for the patented Gannosuke Clutch early on to try and wrap things up. He was more crafty than normal due to this injury. That's what really makes me appreciate Gannosuke more than I already do. He had the wherewithal to incorporate this pain/limitation into the match rather than hide it. Any complaints of sloppiness or botching that others may mention (there's one particular superplex type move) I think are unfounded. THIS is an instance of deep selling to where even IF it was a screw up, it appeared organic and natural with the ebb & flow of the match. The whole point of selling is to get across the point that the two or more wrestlers are engaged in a legitimate athletic competition which has legitimate consequences. And the point of doing that is to get the audience invested and engaged in what they're watching and they'll want to see more (and spend more). Well, this match did all of that perfectly. And to go back to my point about deep selling elevating a match - this is a prime example. That along with the excitement, the history of the competitors makes this is an all time classic FMW bout. Man, I hope you get a chance to check these matches out. I'm planning on two more installments of FMW 1998 to do alongside my FIP Fridays just in case you're wondering. Thank you as always for reading! I really appreciate it!
  3. One day I will get around to seeing all of the great FMW matches, I swear! The following entry is my attempt to cover FMW 1996 as best I can by searching for vids on the 'tube. From my experience, FMW videos tend to get taken down with some regularity or let's say there aren't a plethora of videos available like old AJPW or even W*ING. So what I found and what I wanted to watch from '96 focuses on the later part of the year, August to December. The first collection of stuff is from the Commercial tape Funk Masters of Wrestling which is August & September. This is a really good tape. I just want to say that from the start. This video captures that late 90's harcore wrestling style that FMW and ECW championed. BAHU is the master of FMW and I'm going to put his top 100 FMW rankings next to the applicable matches for reference. Our opinions differ on a couple matches but, I think that's good. You're getting 2 opinions on a match then with that you can decide for yourself if you want to see the bout. Sound good? I'll just review that bouts that I found worthwhile. (I'm also going to abbreviate names where I can) W*ing Kanemura, Bad Boy Hido & Hideki Hosaka vs Masato Tanaka, Nanjyo Hayato & Tetsuhiro Kuroda (Barbwire Street fight): JIP & clipped. This is edited but, this is a sweet way to start off the tape. Double & triple team moves, ladder stuff, and of course guys are tasting the wire. I can't say this is a great match but, its a blast to watch! Tanaka, Kuroda & Koji Nakagawa vs Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka (Exploding Barbwire match 09/01)(BAHU RATING: #42): Fourteen plus minutes of brutal, dramatic deathmatch wrestling. The fighting was top notch and the barbwire and bomb spots were extremely meaningful in terms of the drama. Seriously, this was one of the best FMW matches and best deathmatches that I've seen. Classic match and a must-see for Masato Tanaka fans. Terry Funk, Gladiator & Horace Boulder vs Tanaka, Kuroda & Nakagawa: JIP. This was a very good 6 man tornado tag match that had some nice double teams, saves, and all of that other good stuff you want in an FMW bout. Tanaka takes some real sickening bumps...one is probably the most dangerous Awesome bombs I've seen. This match, although partial, really encapsulates everything weird and exciting about the garbage wrestling scene of the late 90s. (Also see: Super Leather, Headhunters, & Oya vs Hayabusa, Tanaka, Kuroda, & Nakagawa's Barbwire bat & Money on a Pole elimination tornado tag match from this tape as well. FMW had successfully perfected the W*ING/IWA Japan style at this point.) Terry Funk & Gladiator vs Hayabusa & Tanaka (BAHU RATING: #48): The story of Funk in FMW at this point (from what I can gather) is he's reformed the J-Tex Corp with Victor Quinones. Gladiator and other gaijin wrestlers (along with Oya) have joined the Funkster to take over and control Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling. Hayabusa and Tanaka aren't going to go along with that and have to fight for their promotion. This was the 2nd best match of the tape and was shown in full. There were lots of saves and exciting comebacks. It was scratching a greatness but, I only felt it was a very good match. It just seemed to lack enough of Tanaka's explosive offense for my taste...that's not to say he doesn't explode here! Still, we get all kinds of excitement post-match so, you really should check this out. This was a very good tape especially with the classic 6 man deathmatch that all FMW/ECW fans need to see. I'll pick up with the Nov & Dec commercial tape next time. Thanks for reading!
  4. BattlARTS vs. ZERO1 feud continues. And this was a real good match! I mean, that shouldn't come as a surprise, but I was expecting something fishy to happen here. But nope, they get to do their thing for 15+ minutes. Plenty of hate, stiff shots and neat moments, of course. There was lots of back and forth, altough nothing egregious. I guess this was the Z1 guys giving a shot at working a BattlARTS style rhythm. No shootstyle matwork besides a few counters, but lots of nice snug work. Tanaka was pretty efficient working with the BattlARTS dudes and Ohtani kept the crowd into it with his charisma.
  5. Here is my list of the best matches that I watched this year. Again, this isn't a MOTY list but, is more of a year in review for me AND a guide for folks looking for wresting to check out. So first is my January to May list: Inoki/Sakaguchi vs Thesz/Gotch (NJ 1973) Strong BJW vs SUWAMA/T. Soya (AJ 11/26/11) Onita/Tarzan Goto vs M. Kurisu/Dragon Master [Kendo Nagasaki] (FMW 04/01/90) Jun Kasai vs Takeshi Iizuka (TAKA Prod. 01/28/18) Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 02/21/15) Briscoe Bros. vs Mike Bennett/Matt Taven (ROH 02/21/15) Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano (NXT: New Orleans) Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs Triple H/Stephanie McMahon (WWE WrestleMania) Shinjiro Otani vs Masato Tanaka (Z-1 07/31/02) Masato Tanaka vs Yuji Nagata (NJ 03/19/11) Chris Hero vs Big Van Walter (wXw 2010 16 Carat Gold Final) Masato Tanaka vs Daisuke Sekimoto (Z-1 08/02/15) Shuji Ishikawa vs SHINGO (AJ 04/29/18) June 1st to Dec 31st Naomichi Marufuji vs Jun Akiyama (AJ 04/25/18 CC) Sakuraba vs Nakamura (NJ 01/04/13 WK7) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (NJ 08/15/09 G1) Nakamura, M. Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs H. Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & W. Inoue (NJ 12/04/10) KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 01/22/06) (I left off 10/29/06 because everyone already knows of that) KENTA vs Kenta Kobashi (NOAH 03/05/06) Misawa vs Takeshi Morishima (NOAH 03/05/06) Misawa vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 12/02/06) Choshu, Koshinaka, Hoshino, Sasaki & Kobayashi vs Super Strong Machine, Hamaguchi, Kurisu, Tatsu Goto & Hiro Saito (NJ 06/26/90 2/3 Falls) Hase & Sasaki vs Koshinaka & Iizuka (NJ 12/13/90) BxB Hulk & YAMATO vs Ben-K & Big R Shimuzu (DG 07/22/18) BxB Hulk vs Shingo Takagi (DG 12/28/14) Shingo Takagi vs YAMATO (DG Kobe Wrestle Fest 2016) reDRagon vs The Briscoes (ROH 05/11/13 11th Anniv. Show) Eddie Edwards vs Matt Taven (ROH 06/01/13) Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 07/12/13) Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs Adam Cole, Matt Taven & reDRagon (ROH 10/26/13 Glory by Honor XII) see: https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/blogs/entry/693-enter-the-redragon-part-4/ Kevin Steen & the Young Bucks vs Michael Elgin & the Briscoes (ROH 03/07/14 Raising the Bar Nt. 1) * not yet reviewed* There's a month worth of classic wrestling right there. I'm really not sure what the Best Match I watched is...damn. I go through and think of different reasons I like one over another. OR there's some that I cannot recall as clearly as others. A few of these are known as great or classic matches already so, I won't pick those. I mean, hopefully many of these are matches you've only heard a little about...or maybe nothing at all. That's really what I want to do - expose people to different stuff and let them know that there is really awesome wrestling to be found where others may have said it does not exist. So with that I'm going to pick Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O'Reilly (ROH 07/12/13) as the Best Match Watched. Frankly, I'm pretty strong on that point even without those qualifiers. Some may not like it just because of the participants or the company. OK that's fine. Others may see it derivative or formulaic but, I disagree. I feel it builds off of classic styles and encounters while adding its own flair. Plus it tells a great story, is excellently performed, intense as hell, and I just love that finish. It's really quite perfect in my book Recency bias is totally acknowledged. Before I move on, I'm going to hype up Masato Tanaka here Shinjiro Otani vs Masato Tanaka (Z-1 07/31/02), Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (NJ 08/15/09 G1), Nakamura, M. Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs H. Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & W. Inoue (NJ 12/04/10), Masato Tanaka vs Yuji Nagata (NJ 03/19/11). DAMN SON! Now let's see who gets cheers and jeers: Standout Wrestler: Daisuke Sekimoto, Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka, Shingo Takagi, Naomichi Marufuji, Eddie Edwards, Jay Lethal, The Briscoes, reDRagon, Roderick Strong, The Young Bucks The Winner: Tanaka had the early part of the year for sure. Eddie Edwards has the very end with his re-invigoration of the GHC belt and 2013 ROH matches. The winner is Naomichi Marufuji though. The 09-10 NJ Jr. stuff was pretty great but, along with Shingo, he stole the show at the 2018 Champion Carnival. What put him over the top was his 2006 in NOAH. From his start with KENTA in the 01/22 to the amazing title fight vs Misawa, 2006 was Marufuji's. He may not have the quantity of classic matches that Tanaka accrued this year but, he had his share along with a bevy a great ones with a variety of opponents in different promotions and years. Probably not a popular pick again but, I know what I saw and the dude killed it. Surprise of the Year: Early FMW Onita, SHINGO & Marufuji and the 2018 Champion Carnival, 2010's ROH, Yoshi Yatsu in 87-89 AJPW, WWE 205 Live, digging WWE Women's division. Finding out the greatness of YAMATO, Matt Taven & Togi Makabe. Akira Taue still had it in 2006 as he knew how to play his older broken down/comedy character but still be aggressive and serious when called upon (similar to 1989 Giant Baba). Realizing that '89-90 JCP/NWA Muta was awesome especially when considering his 90's NJ stuff. Weekly ROH TV reminding me of WCW Worldwide in a good way. The Winner: The Maufuji pick is kind of the Surpise of the Year because I really did not think that going into this post. But, overall - I'm going to say Early FMW & Onita. Onita and FMW were some of my first experiences with Japanese wrestling but, to circle back around 20 years and find something really awesome was a heck of a surprise. Not only were the matches a blast (no pun intended) but, finding out about the history was really interesting as well. The late 80's and early 90's are a really neat time & place to visit in Japanese wrestling and FMW at that time should not be missed. Favorite Project: FMW 89-92, Post ECW Tanaka, Hayabusa in AJPW, NOAH 2006, reDRagon/2013-14 ROH, and NJ vs CHAOS in 2010 The WInner: CHAOS vs NJ because I never heard anyone talk about it despite it scratching that old school night in-night out feud itch. It was so much fun to watch these house show matches that felt like Jumbo vs Misawa, or M-Pro vs Kaientai DX.I gained a lot of respect for Tanahashi here and found something from the NJ 2010's that I could wholly dig! Disappointment of the Year: Munenori Sawa in wXw 2010 could have been better, Brock vs Roman at WM, Nakamura...Ballshot Expert, Kobashi vs Marufuji '06, American Wolves vs reDRagon not living up to its potential save Edwards vs O'Reilly The Loser: Wolves vs DRagon because it was THE reason the Wolves re-united and reDRagon was formed but, it felt too much like WWE or TNA than ROH. Or at least the ROH I was used to. It was inconsistent and did not feels as big & epic as ROH was making it out to be. ReDRagon would go on to be so much better without the Wolves feud. Never got around to: Getting deeper into FMW past 92- the two big Youtube channels that had a ton of FMW footy were removed so that was a big blow to that project. 2010's NJ Jr project- I wanted to look into the phenomena that got the NJ hype train going - Apollo 55 & Golden Lovers. This is something I do want to get around to soon. Looking forward to watching in 2019: David Starr, Jonathan Gresham, getting back to 2010's AJPW, 88-90 NJ/AJPW (my massive DVD set is still waiting), more ROH & PWG from 3-5 years ago Also, want to check out early 80's Gran Hamada pretty soon here. Thanks for reading! I hope I gave you some ideas! Happy New Year
  6. G. Badger

    NJPW vs CHAOS 2010 tags

    So, this little project came about by searching for Tanaka vs Makabe matches on YouTube. How I got to that is a bit of a mystery. If I had to guess, I'd say it was out of curiosity alone. I don't think I found a singles encounter on the 'tube. However, there was a crap ton of tags available. Investigation revealed that a whole chunk of house show matches from the Fall of 2010 were recorded and uploaded by NJPW. These matches show some of the early battles between NJ main roster & CHAOS. CHAOS is or perhaps was one of the most popular stables but, it is a splinter group from Togi Makabe (Tenzan was originally leader) Great Bash Heel (Great Big Head, Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH) group. Nakamura staged a coup (he was an outsider who agitated the GBH members) and ousted Makabe (Honma sided with Makabe). So here we see an alliance of Makabe with Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto to combat Nakamura and his group of badasses. This begins about right after when Togi Makabe wins the IWGP Heavyweight title in May 2010. This series of matches reminds me of 1996 Michinoku Pro or 1990 AJPW tag matches. We have roughly the same parties for each encounter but, its exciting and interesting every time. Or at least to me I'll list full names as they first appear but, will use last names after that. Let's do the wrestling!!! Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito & Yujiro Takahashi (05/08/10): 10 man fight, alrighty then! This could be a mess but, everyone really clicks and no interactions overstay their welcome. Inoue really shines in this match. That maybe surprising since he's been off most fans radars since day one but, he brings it here. He's the Kikuchi on the NJ squad. A very excellent start where we learn that anyone can lose and anything can end it. Again, very M-Pro like or lucha like. Highly recommended Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto vs Nakamura, Tanaka & Ishii (09/04/10): Seemingly an upgrade but, a hair below the previous match in quality. It should be checked out nonetheless. Goto & Nakamura get into a mat scramble that leads to them fighting after a tag. The ref has to break them up and Shinsuke spits at Goto's feet. Very nasty stuff. Also, Takahashi and Nakamura's work together was subtle but very good. It reminded me of Misawa and Kawada in their 6 man matches. The work was organic to the point where it was understood that this was only one battle in a much larger war. So, Nakamura really excelled here but, Makabe the champ did as well. When he came in like a fucking berserker at the end, I was loving it! He sure as hell looked like the World Champ to me. 14 minutes of great wrestling. Tanahashi & Makabe vs Tanaka & Satoshi Kojima (09/10/10): Not sure if Kojima is CHAOS affiliated here. There was some good action but, Kojima & Tanaka's bland knee focused offense hurt this match. Generally, predestrian match. There are a couple other Kojima matches that I avoided because of this one. Too bad because I do like Kojima but, I feel like he may have lost "it" by this point. Nakamura, Naito & Takahashi vs Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto (09/19/10): Naito was first introduced to me as part of No Limit with Takahashi on TNA when they were fighting Motorcity Machine Guns for the IWGP Jr. belts. That was cool that TNA was having Japanese talent on TV. That's how I first saw Tanahashi too. Anyhow, Jr. team are with Shinsuke tonight to take on the NJ A-Team. Tana works the crowd up from the start. I get the feeling that this is a smaller, less hardcore crowd as they're all very pro Tanahashi. He starts of with some nice wrestling with Naito but, we soon get Goto & Naka which leads to a slow Tanahashi babyface in danger segment. Now, the ACE is pretty darn good in peril but, this felt a bit more lethargic then the previous encounters. Again, I chalk it up to the venue/event/crowd size. Goto & Nakamura get back into it and that leads to the hot stretch to a finish portion. It's a recommended match as it stokes the feud's fire but, it's a little formulaic. Hey, the 90-92 Misawa/Jumbo 6 mans went there a few times too (Not that this is on THAT level) ;P Tanaka & Ishii vs Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (11/03/10): Wished we got some stuff from October but, maybe that was the Kojima stuff I skipped. Anyhow, this is from the G1 Tag League. There are some expected long strike exchanges that hurt the flow of the match but, this was a nice battle nonetheless. The real standout was Tanaka. He nearly beats the GBH remenants on his own and goes straight psycho-killer on the Unchained Gorilla Makabe on the floor. I'd highly recommend this match to Dangan fans for sure! Ok so now we get a little Jr. participation. I want to go in depth on this series at another date but, here is a little taste as it fits into the timeline very well. Inoue, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs Nakamura, Naito & Davey Richards (11/19/10): Yup, Davey was in NJ for a year or two. I totally forgot about it but, thought it was a great move for him at the time. He really should have focused more on a career in Japan. That being said, this had good reason to be a train wreck as I'm wasn't confident in Davey's ability to work with the NJ natives. Sure, he had NOAH experience but, he usually was on a gaijin team. I was expecting some bungling but, nope! This was some fast paced magic. Davey was great yelling shit in English too Taguchi though...damn. 13 minutes of action. Naito, Takahashi & Richards vs Tanahashi, Taguchi & Devitt (11/27/10): Naito taking Tanahashi to the canvas and grappling is something to always I'll enjoy. Frankly, if Tanahashi scrapped the leg focus stuff and was a matworker like Osamu Nishimura yet threw in his highspots, I'd probably be a giant fan of his. That being said, his performance in this series has made me a bit of a convert. Also my Ryusuke Taguchi appreciation continues to grow. Um, I don't have too many notes on the action as I really dug this one. Davey is in there more often than the previous encounter and it works well. He and Apollo 55 go at it. Tanahashi finally goes Super Saiyan and unloads. It really means something though as he has not needed to do so until now. There really is something to NOT doing big moves all of the time. I think the ACE is as guilty as anyone from what I've seen but, in this series (and because these are mainly house shows) he has showed the restraint and discernment of a true veteran. Great match Tanahashi, Makabe & Manabu Nakanishi vs Tanaka, Yano & Nakamura (12/02/10): Maybe it was Yano being back in the mix but, this was another really good 6 man. Nakanishi played his caveman part well and added a nice dynamic at this point in the series. Admittedly, these are running together especially, as Makabe and Tanaka aren't changing their routine up too much. But, it's all good. This feud is giving me a WAR vs NJ vibe. Sweet finish, highly recommended match. Nakamura, Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & Inoue (12/04/10): This venue looks like the classic Michinoku Pro gym from the 90's. It's not but, I think I'm wanting to be. This feud/program has been just so much fun. This one starts with Tana vs Tranquilo-to-be on the mat but quickly has all 8 men fighting. Wataru taking on Nakamura- hells yes, dude! Obviously, it doesn't work out in the end and CHAOS isolate and destroy. When, Togi Makabe gets that tag, watch out! The man cleans house. He lariats the shit out of Tanaka but, payback is a bitch. Tana's still killing it and when Yuji Nagata comes in like a MF-ing veteran- holy shit! Insane stretch run and fantastic finish. Great, great match. Makabe & Honma vs Nakamura & Tanaka (12/05/10):I love the single floor camera that most of these matches feature. It is great for this type of stuff as you can hear how hard the blows are & you're ringside and even in the middle of the action. You wouldn't belive these are house shows based off how hard they are going at it. Dangan and the Gorilla do their routine but, again it fucking works. Its so intense and you never can tell if there's gonna be a twist. Their brawling outside and after the bell is just pure pro wrestling. And damn 2010 Nakamura is the optimal version to me. I like the Beat It tribute act but, there's something about the straight forward confidence of this character. Another great match. In conclusion, these small show mathces put things back into perspective. Most fans especially overseas only really get the opportunity or make the time to watch the BIG shows and BIG matches. Myself included. We compare Big Show A to Big Show B (not Paul Wight). But, damn, it's these gems in between that are where it's at to me. There's no excessive finishers or kickouts or resthold masking as psychology. There's only enough time to get your simple but, engaging story across. Its 15-20 minutes of a struggle, of "fighting." This batch of matches felt like Choshu-Tenryu style for the 21st century. Who knows if they're still doing this or if this really was just the rare product of having so much talent peaking in the ring. This has been probably my longest blog entry so, if you've made it this far. I want to mention where my next little exploration into NJ from nearly a decade ago is going. I think the start of the resurgence in interest in NJ was with the influx of gaijin Jrs. like Devitt, Omega, Shelley/Sabin, Romero & Koslov and others (Davey & Low-Ki for example). Their pairing with talent like Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, bringing in Kota Ibushi (along with Omega), Marufuji and eventually KUSHIDA helped brings eyes back to New Japan in the early 2010's. NOAH was a shell of itself after Misawa died and AJPW had lost it's interest after Muto changed it (although early 2010 AJ is another shiny bit of seaglass on the beach that I am investigating). So, it was only natural that someone had to fill the void. I'd like to check this period out a bit more. There were certainly people in the know back then but, I think 8 years later and with giant interest in NJ, it's important to look back.
  7. Part 2 to my Fire Pro World prepubescent-like obsessive compulsive hype up. This entry was going to have a couple more matches but, I ended up going down a NJ rabbit hole. So, my next post will cover that, hint its CHAOS vs NJPW house shows in 2010. In the meantime, we've got a couple Fire Pro Returns dream matches that I never knew happened. I mean, for real, these are some FPR match maker multi-man battles. And a couple single bouts as I'm a Nagata & Tanaka fan. Genichiro Tenryu, Minoru Suzuki & Kensuke Sasaki vs Masahiro Chono, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin Thunder Liger (11/21/04): Yeah, I felt like writing Liger's full name out. Why not? It makes the match seem older and grander, doesn't it? Well, maybe Akira Hokuto's presence makes it more grand. Its not like it needs it. You've got the legend freelance team from hell here. If this was an 8 man match, they'd get Takayama, I bet. Onto the review! This is just that heated puroresu you don't see very often anymore. This felt like Tenryu had been carrying the WAR vs NJ feud in his lumpy Grinch heart all of this time. He & Chono made their time count while allowing the (somewhat) younger members to take the brunt of the beatings. Smart veterans! Speaking of beatings, Sasaki and Nakanishi's chop & lariat battle was badass. Nakanishi doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He is a helluva clean-up hitter in these type of bouts. Also, Suzuki was his charismatically crazy self. So, you know you gotta see this for that psycho bastard in his prime. This was a great match for sure. I know I'm leaving stuff out but, you're going to want to see it for yourself! Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Kazayuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Osamu Nishimura (05/19/05): Random ass Fire Pro Battle for sure...toped by the fact that Nagata's team comes out wearing Super Strong Machine masks. This combination and style is so weird based on what I have been watching during this year's G1. But to that point, remember emoting in wrestling? Fuck yeah, me too! Let's take a trip back in time and witness some! Perhaps it is nostalgia permeating my brain but, Fujita was an awesome beast of a human being that should have been champ for life There is a simple joy watching him destroy Nakamura who many people think of as King of Strong Style. Yuji Nagata too should wear that crown before Nak' (and I like the dude)! Case in point for the Blue Warrior-watch the part where Tanahashi stiffly slaps & elbows him. The man just absorbs punishment and re-channels it unto his opponent (Wasn't that Bishop's power from X-Men?). Anyhow, I'm going through my notes, and I'm gushing about everything (except Tenzan-no gripes either). So, here's another great match that time may have forgotten if NJPW archivists didn't post this on YouTube. If you're a fan from the 2000's, maybe you don't watch a ton of wrestling, do yourself a favor & watch this match. Or the one above...or walk on the wild side and watch both! Yuji Nagata vs Togi Makabe (03/21/07) NJ Cup. This started off decently but, Makabe and his pal Honma started cheating-hardcore. Now, I'll say I really was sick of cheating heels in 2007 since TNA at the time was swimming in that bullshit. Oftentimes, its a cover up for a lack of athleticism, narrative direction, or talent. A cop out But, damn! It worked here. Nagata's getting choked with the chain, bleeding and man, he's gotta make the comeback! Enough bull Makabe, kill him or pin him! Sure enough, Mr. Blue Justice gets his opportunity and blazes King Kong Makabe with hard kicks. Eventually, he sinks in the step over arm breaker. Blood dripping down his face, eyes rolled back like The Deadman ©®™ and I'm hooked!! A great moment for fellow Nagata fans and a great match. Maybe newer fans won't appreciate the lack of arm hooking spin around moves but, this was pretty sweet to me. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (08/15/09) G1 Climax match. I've come to appreciate Tanahashi in multi man tags but, this restores some faith that he's a fantastic singles wrestler. I say that because they fucking obliterated each other. On top of that, more heel interference that means something, believable false finishes, and Tana leg work from underneath that provides transition rather than weigh the fight down. Classic G1 match? Classic match all around to me. 22 minutes doesn't hurt either There's more for next time...
  8. Talk about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muVVhW8SF7E
  9. Procrastination got the better of me regarding the final 2 matches of Day #2 of the 16 Carat Gold Tournament but, here are a few nice matches from the 2010's that are totally worth watching instead! Masato Tanaka vs Tetsuhiro Kuroda (01/28/11 Apache Army): I'm surprised that this FMW offshoot is still in operation in 2011. Here we get former partners & rivals squaring off again. Kuroda is a dude that doesn't get a ton of talk but, I think he's really damn solid. Really surprised he did not end up in Zero-1 or even NOAH after FMW folded. This match is probably just a nostalgia match but, damn it delivered! I'm not going to fool anyone and say it had any selling but, for 15 minutes, it was a blast. They ran through their moves with the best of today's star...elbows from Tanaka were my favorites. Fun ass match and recommended to fans of either. Kento Miyahara vs Super Tiger II (04/18/16 AJPW): A feeling out process with referee Wada getting involved when Miyahara won't release the hold in the corner which starts up the body of the match. This was a nice touch. Tiger is focused on Kento's arm with kicks and some great looking armbars. This was a short match so there was no drawn out selling intended, Tiger was just going for the kill. Kento fought back with his kicks and knees and this turned out to be a intense match with good strikes and suplexes in the end. Highly recommended match. Motor City Machine Guns vs The Briscoes - ROH Tag Team Championship (03/09/18 ROH): Tag team title match from the 16th Anniversary Show. Woo doggie! This was a mad rush. Holy moley the Guns still got it! The Briscoes eh..I'm not sure what their gimmick is anymore. They had a bunch of grease paint on and looked all crazy. I really don't remember too much of what they did. It was all spots and fun to watch. I wouldn't say this was the greatest match these teams have had but, damn its 2018 and these guys can still go.
  10. G. Badger

    Spotlight: Masato Tanaka

    Masato Tanaka was pretty much responsible for me getting into puroresu. His matches in the States with ECW were eye opening to me. He was tough, intense, and innovative. I would say he, Mike Awesome, and Tajiri were the 3 guys that convinced me that wrestling in Japan was something worth seeking out. After ECW folded, so did my interest in newer wrestling at the time. It was another 5 years before I got back into it. I've never really looked at what "Dangan" Tanaka was doing in that time when I was away. Masato Tanaka vs Samoa Joe (Zero-1 2001 or 2002): There was no date on this from the Youtube video but, based on the size of Joe and his attire (cut off tee & track pants), this was pre-ROH Joe. I believe per Quebrada.net that it's from BURNING HEART League 09/15/01. All that being said, this was 8 minutes of spots but, I'll be darned if this wasn't a blast! Joe was pulling out all kinds of stuff like a Fosberry Flop dive and Pedigree type move. Obviously Tanaka was going over but, you'd be surprised. Cool finish too! vs Shinjiro Otani (Zero-1 07/31/02): A classic 16 minute tournament match. It's like in that **** 1/4 - **** 1/2 range to me. It's best described as NJPW Jrs. style with 2000 era hard hits, a hot Korakuen krowd, and tourney match urgency. Tanaka & Otani don't go for epic, they go for the win. Dangan gets busted open from a Tree of Woe baseball slide if that's any indicator. Plus, Otani's facial expressions are as top shelf as ever. He takes the drama to another level with his emoting. Totally surprised by this match since no one really talks about Zero One especially in 2018...if you're a fan of either guy, see it. It'll be one of the best bouts you'll watch this week. Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs Steve Corino & Low Ki (ROH 11/09/02): This was the main event to the inaugural All Star Extravaganza. Otani & Tanaka kept this a lean mean contest. Otani damn near put Ki's face into the back of his head with a kick. Not to be outdone, Dangan hit a brutal lariat and shotgun stunner. Sure, it was Philly but, no chairshots needed. Corino & Ki were excellent as well. Highly recommend checking this out. vs Mike Awesome (Zero-1 02/29/04): Holy shit...wow. For an Awesome vs Tanaka match this might be the most dangerous one. I don't know if the match quality is the tops since they really do just run through the spots but, what spots they are! Highly recommended match for those missing this rivalry. I had no clue this existed especially since their One Night Stand match from 2005 was touted as their most recent battle since ECW. But that's WWE history for ya! Go see this Zero One match and witness the brutal spots for yourself! vs CM Punk (Wrestling-1 04/09/04): I'm not 100% on the promotion title as it appears to be a US indy with affiliation to Zero-1 or a US offshoot when they were trying to do a global wrestling thing. I read in the comments online that Punk was sick at the time but, this was a very good hotel banquet hall level match. Punk focused on Masato's arm amd gave the match a good sound body. It was really solid when they could have just winged a bunch of moves. It felt good because they eventually got into a nice little finishing run. Some big moves were hit and some were countered but, they never gave it all away. These two worked really well together. vs Samoa Joe (1PW 2005?): Again, the poster didnt' put a date but, this looks around the time Joe had the bleached brown/red bit in his hair while in TNA. This was a 10 minute sprint of wonderful stiffness. If the above match was about moves, this was about hitting each other. They go bat shit with it. This pairing is really, really good and I wish there was more available. Match goes to a double DQ but then we get... vs Steve Corino: ECW rules type of match. They're in the crowd and being a little cute for the people that loved ECW back in the day. I'm sure I would have dug this at the time but, the let's take a tour without actually fighting isn't as interesting anymore BUT it's not all of that. It's brutal at times too. So, this is a 2 in 1 or Gauntlet match for Tanaka and a must-see. Dangan all the way man! Tanaka to my knowledge only wrestled in ROH the one time but, he seemed like a perfect fit for early ROH from his performances above. 2002-2004 Tanaka in ROH would have been great and is certainly fodder for fantasy bookers out there. These matches are a hint of what could have been. Next time, I want to tackle what I'll call the Tanaka revival- from my estimates late 2000s to early 2010s. I'll see what I can find on the web.
  11. You may be in for a bit of a surprise if you haven't seen Tanaka in awhile. He's like 50 lbs. lighter and tan as river clay. Nevertheless, he still kicks ass and is still the Dangan! vs Yuji Nagata (03/19/11 NJPW): NJPW Cup 2011. This be a badass bout without a doubt. There's no commentary so, you can hear every strike land. This was as brutal as Electric Wizard. Knees, elbows, lariats all hit with with precision and intensity. The few suplexes and brainbusters were just bonuses. The strike battles felt authentic and were quickly resolved. They didn't need to buy time in order to figure out their next step. Clocking in around 15 minutes, this is an all time classic to me. This is in the top 5-10 matches that I've seen this year. vs Tomoaki Honma (12/23/11 NJPW): It's noteworthy that we have 2 deathmatch bred wrestlers wrestling a straight match for the IWGP IC belt in NJ. A lot can happen in 10 years! They paid homage to their hardcore roots and so, it was pretty enjoyable. I did feel the pacing and no-sell bits kind of took me out of the match at times though. vs Tomohiro Ishii (11/19/12 NJPW): Never Belt contest. Well, if you wanr 12 minutes of jaw bruising, chest welting, vertabrae shifting action then, this is the bout for you! Seriously, all jokes aside...this is essentially two guys hitting each other back and forth. There are some throws but, this IS the macho strike battle. It gets repetitive but, if you need to release some aggression or get psyched up for something. This is the match for you! Masato Tanaka & KENTA vs Naomichi Marufuji & Tetsuya Naito (03/08/14 NOAH): I've seen some self indulgent NOAH matches in the 2010's but 'Fuji's great showing at the 2018 Champion Carnival convinced me to give this a try. So, glad that I did! I could have done without a couple elbow battles but, overall this was too sweet. It is exactly the match you want it to be. Naito is cheeky yet tough, Marufuji is crafty without being cute, KENTA is badass but, not having to be spunky/plucky, and Tanaka is the old time killer. I would have liked a definitive finish but, this was a fiercely competitive battle. Great match! vs Daisuke Sekimoto (08/02/15 Zero-1): I think this is a semi final for the annual Zero One Fire Festival. These foes delivered 12+ minutes of intense combat perfection. They may as well have stopped the show and burned the ring after this match...it was a thing of beauty. All of the small twists, variations, surprises, all while knowing when to bring it down only to bring it back even hotter later. Another all time classic match that's in the top 5 matches I've viewed in 2018. Masato Tanaka is lining up to be the best wrestler for the matches viewed in 2018. If you're a Dangan fan, check some of these out. You will be so glad you did Be sure to check out my other Tanaka entry a few posts back as well. If you think Masato Tanaka was done after ECW then, you will be gladly be mistaken.
  12. Talk about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izCpikAYbo8&feature=youtu.be
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