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  1. Good match, not quite great. The appeal of this is fairly simple. It’s two wrestlers with big personalities battering each other’s chests until they turn into raw meat. The first five minutes are almost exclusively made up of chops. Things spill to the outside, but Suzuki stays firmly in control. Despite the even start, Hiromu spends the bulk of the match fighting from underneath. It’s Hiromu’s best showing in quite some time, as Minoru’s there to ground him and curb his worst instincts. The pacing is inconsistent, as the two start wrestling, and things speed up briefly. The main thing preventing me from enjoying this more than I did is that it feels a little too one-note. The strike exchanges are delightful, if a little long-winded. Regardless, it’s a fun match that doesn’t overstay its welcome. With current New Japan, you have to take small victories like that where you can get them.
  2. No thread for this yet? This is one of the more universally liked matches. Fantastic clash of styles (no pun intended), killer arm work, great selling, intensity, unique spots and grit. 2014 MOTYC. ****1/4
  3. Suzuki's leg work was so fantastic - his performance was all around one of the best that I've seen. Perfect character work & his work on top was just superb. Okada's selling was for the most part really great, as in when he was taking that beating he sold super well, but every time it was time for him to get some comeback moves in, he kinda dropped the leg selling & that it ultimately what prevents this classic from being a stone cold 5-star classic. ****3/4
  4. Pretty damn good young lion match. This was the earliest Suzuki I‘ve seen, but he was already firmly into the shootstyle thing. Lots of cool slick matwork with Suzuki locking in some clinical looking armbars and doing some really cool stuff, like turning a Fujiwara armbar into a pin. The cool thing was that they didn‘t make it look easy, both guys had to fight even for something like a snapmare. Watching this made me wonder how either guy would have done on a different career path, e.g. Suzuki staying in NJPW and Iizuka doing shootstyle. The last couple minutes rule with Suzuki hitting big throws and a great looking corner dropkick while trying to fend off Iizukas Sambo leglocks, while both guys are laying in the smacks. Good shit.
  5. 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...
  6. 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!
  7. I fucking love the premise of Bloodsport. It seems to me like a logical progression of what shoot-style federations like RINGS would look like today. Also, the match was really fun. The sense of struggle to get the better positioning, and no man actually getting a hold locked in properly only adds to the "it can end at any second" drama. Also, gotta love how they work around not having ropes into the game of chess that is the fight for domination. Some really, really fun stuff with a cool setup. Low Ki would be fucked
  8. Great match overall, but it had the same issue that most New Japan main events do. It went on for very long & had a forgettable first third or so - once Tanahashi does the High Fly Flow where he lands directly on his bad knee though, that's when this gets amazing. Suzuki tortures the crap out of him w/ brutal submissions & Tanahashi's selling is superb; this was a clinic in that regard - milking amazing drama w/ simple, yet brutal submissions & amazing selling of those. I liked the story of MiSu refusing to go for the pin, wanting Tana to give up, but Tana refusing to do so which lead to the stoppage. I did think there was quite bit of dull stuff in it in the early stages, but once it got going, oh boy did it get going. MiSu is the best big match wrestler in New Japan right now. ****
  9. Awesome match and one of the best sub-5 minutes matches I've seen. The grappling at the beginning is insanely amazing and the rest of the bout is great too. *** 3/4
  10. Well, this was a complete waste of time. If you thought Okada being locked 40 minutes in a leglock and still winning after doind his usual offense was bad, you'll hate this even more, as Naito's comebacks were even less earned and his overall performance was lazy and downright bad. If you thought that match against Okada was good, you'll also dislike this because Naito fucked every single hope spot up. It was boring, sloppy, he appears to break MiSu's nose with a slap and almost every single spot he does is too slow, too soft or misses completely. Just shit.
  11. We get a lengthy Rowe FIP segment, and it's awesome. Suzuki-gun do really good work over him, with everytime he was about to tag out, outcomes the rest of the heel team to cut him off. Once he finally makes the hot tag though, he makes it to Big Mike, who delivers an awesome hot tag, indeed. His exchanges against ZSJ were fantastic. After the fantastic Elgin vs. ZSJ section of the match, the thing essentially kicks into the finishing stretch & it remains awesome. Loved Suzuki constantly targeting Tana too, setting up a future singles meeting between them. Lovely match. ***3/4
  12. 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
  13. Pretty much the UWF equivalent to the later RINGS grappling matches. Funaki in his shoes is hilarious. Really enjoyed the early amateur style work especially the toe holds. Then, after some slick but strugglesome grappling Suzuki goes on a tear against Funaki with tight submission attempts only to be caught by surprise. Little too short and sudden to amount to much but I always enjoy a fun undercard match like this.
  14. This was FANTASTIC. I love how different it was from your usual big NEVER title match formula - it was all about Minoru unleashing a menacing, badass beating on Goto. Goto sold fantastically & his comebacks were good. The post-match was excellent. ****1/4
  15. Total dream match for me right here. Ten seconds in Kensuke and Murakami quarrel over who's going to start and chop and punch each other for a second before Kensuke starts things off, that spot is awesome in that setting but when you have like, Sekimoto and X modern puro guy doing it for twenty minutes it's boring. MiSU-Kensuke interactions sound least intriguing since I've seen them go at it plenty of times including a 40 minute match. They do a quick strike exchange and Kensuke irish whips MiSu into the ropes and-stare offs might not work in junior matches after doing kung fu sequences but they totally work here when MiSu suddenly stops as Kensuke is going to chop him. That's UWF blood for you. Fujiwara and Murakami do some nice grappling and MiSu stomped Murakami when they were near his corner which was a great touch and him not so subtly repeteadly kicking off Murakami's feet of the ropes to break the rope break was awesome as well. Murakami is just the best, he might be the greatest ever at conveying disgust and disdain through facial expressions. Minoru Suzuki can phone it in but man he is great when he wants to be, it's so much fun watching him troll Murakami and just act like a dick. The Murakami peril in section was absolutely hilarious, you gotta love the tremendous pastice of shoot style and comedy Fujiwara and MiSu present here. Loved the way Fujiwara fell down after Sasaki Lariated him, it looked like a beast of a man hit him in the back of the head and that's how he sold it. I fucking lost it when Kensuke fucked up the save, laughing out loud while Fujiwara punches people in the face is about as ennjoyable as wrestling gets and they immediately followed it up with Suzuki stomping on Murakami's head in the corner (which is Murakami's signature move), Fujiwara shitbeating Murakami and then choking him when Murakami yelled at him in an insulting matter AND then Fujiwara distracting the ref so Suzuki could choke Murakami and just pull his nose and do all these disgusting things. Murakami's comeback is the world's greatest uppercut (boxing, not european) and the finishing run is awesome as Kensuke Sasaki runs over people, Murakami and MiSu beat the shit ouf of each other and Fujiwara bleeds a lot at the age of 200. ****1/4
  16. What a superb little match. Creative spots, violence, comedy, the underdog narrative and awesome heel work from Suzuki. Love the dynamic with Suzuki murdering Yano with killer offense while Yano did really basic stuff like hair pulling and grabbing the referee just to stay in the match. I know Yano gets ironic praise on places like reddit but he really is a great foil for Suzuki. The repeated interference from Taichi worked really well and had a nice payoff. Great, great finish. **** 1/4
  17. A great match up between a ruthless, brutal veteran that is Minoru Suzuki and a younger fella by the name of GO Asakawa who has only been in the business for a little over 2 years. I have never seen him wrestle before but I really liked his performance here - he brought a very nice amount of fire. He looked really, really good everytime he got to be on the offense. Minoru sold just enough for him & obviously Minoru himself looked like a killer just stretching & slapping Asakawa around. ****
  18. This was absolutely fantastic. Started off with MiSu kicking the crap out of Yano & that continued until Yano made his comeback, but even after that Suzuki really continued to dominate. It was only after Rocky Romero interfered that Yano got to execute his masterplan & my goodness, what a hoot that plan was. The Sublime Master Thief steals one to cap off his G1. Perfectly executed. So much fun. ****1/4
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