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  1. While Black Tiger/Rocky Romero had to honestly fight though some of the hardest opponents in the Tournament (Shelley and Danielson respectfully) Kashin has had easy pickings and cheated, so he's in far better condition at this point. He's also changed into conventional Kashin gear, thus proving that this whole "Dragon Soldier" shtick and name change was just that, shtick: all done by Kashin to sneak him into this seemingly American-only Tournament. Now that he's in the gear we do get more work out of him as he pulls out the old Kashin dirtbag specials to try to nap the win. The extra long obnoxious rolling cradle at the start shows that at this point Kashin is taking the absolute piss out of the smarky crowd and is at least semi-self aware that he's the heel here. Black Tiger/Romero is pretty good, balancing some weird technical stuff alongside the flips; he's a solid foil to the more grounded style presented here. Kashin takes the piss more as he raises his hand to acknowledge his fans as the crowd angrily chants "USA" at him like a badly-dated 80's crowd. I did lol a bit at Romero stealing the signature Kashin front roll into cross armbreaker finish as well. Kashin eventually gets the advantage after throwing the ref in front of him when a springboard dropkick comes down on the guy, meaning that a Tiger Suplex afterwards doesn't get counted. Romero gets some good near falls with a West Coast Pop and a sick brainbuster, but Kashin kicks out at 2.9 for all for these because he's that strong, brother. His mistake comes when he goes for a jumping attack in the corner, allowing Kashin to reverse him into a really well done top rope armbreaker transition for the win. Kashin wins as his admiring fans chant "don't came back" loudly back at him. Ok, so this isn't amazing as a match but as a complete heel troll job as a whole, it's masterful. Kashin is so obviously winning this despite all of the big near falls that it pains the audience physically whenever he kicks out because they are reminded of that inevitability, because he's cruised though this with injured or weak opponents and as such has the stamina to survive longer. As such, he's able to pick his spots to pounce far more effectively. Romero/Tiger is also a awesome foil here and is mostly very smooth on his end; a bit generic mind you, but decent. The only real issue is that the wrong person won in the end; this dynamic only really works if the babyface overcomes the odds, otherwise no one really cares ultimately. That said, it definitely worked this smarky crowd up a storm so I can't really knock it either: as much as this was touted as a "disaster" for the relationship of both companies (and actually robbed us of a Samoa Joe NJPW run, including a singles with Nishimura!!!) by itself the entire show's angle of all of of these amazing talents getting side-lined from either prior injuries, eliminating each other and/or dirty antics in favour of Kashin was a incredible heel-stint and got him absolutely hated by this crowd. Had they milked that more, it could've been seen far more positively.
  2. I'm going to organize this years matches by what's 2010's AJPW and what's not. Sorry for some inconsistency with the labeling of dates & promotions. I hope this helps folks find cool stuff to watch as well as stir up a little interest in going back and reading old blog posts. Its my version of Match of the Year and other year end award type stuff. Let's do the superlatives first. Best Surprise I think something I would say to start with would be the high quality of wrestling AJPW was putting out in 2011-2014. I obviously have some knowledge of this at the start of the year but I bought most of these DVDs on a hunch a few years back (probably longer if being honest). So I have been pleasantly surprised that I trusted my gut. It's been like the Full Impact Pro stuff from last year. So in a similar situation, I've been surprised in the quality of Zero One and BJW. Again, not much of a positive consensus was given at the time or thereabouts on this stuff. If anything, the impression I got was purchase at your own risk. I touched on this in my previous post, the bounty of material online and the ease of access to that has given my a taste of these promotions and I like it! With many of my projects, I try to find the stuff that I think is most interesting and disregard the rest. Saves me time and hopefully saves you the trouble. More Zero One and BJW for 2023. Best surprise is probably how much I enjoyed the Eddie and Steven Regal WCW TV matches. I don't look back upon Nitro fondly and with good reason but man there was some awesome stuff before the suits took all of their time away. Dean Malenko's the best at these 5-10 minute matches. His stuff with Regal and Guerrero were the best. I'd soured on Dean but these TV bouts were his specialty. Best Feud The Zero One vs NOAH stuff was really cool and had a very 2001 in-transition magic to it. I've watched MLW from around this time and it feels like this... Kinda like "What If this promotion, which was closer to latter day ECW, took off instead of ROH?" Even the 2003_stuff including the Differ Cup stuff feels very unlike NOAH in a very good way. So it wasn't the best feud exactly but an overlooked one in comparison to NOAH vs NJPW from '02-03. I think it has way more character than the NJ one. Burning vs AJPW was pretty darn great especially in tag settings. The best was Burning vs Masa Funaki's Stack of Arms stable...specifically Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki vs Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka. In honesty it felt like the only true feud night in & night out. Underrated Wrestler Naohiro Hoshikawa was simply awesome during the NOAH vs Zero One stuff. Never heard much about him but, he was a real stand out. Takashi Sasaki is another guy I never heard much about other than in name really. Man he's one of my favorite death match wrestlers now. He blends the wrestling and hardcore wrestling near perfectly. It reminds me of Tajiri in ECW in a way. Most underrated worker for the year is KENSO. Dude was mainly upper mid card but acted like a star and the fans responded in kind. When he was given a chance to shine he took the opportunity. KAI vs KENSO 2013 Champ Carnival is a very good example. Best Tag Team I love tag wrestling. AJPW had top shelf stuff. The 2003 Differ Cup and assorted other tags were the real high points of 2022. This is an easy one though. I gotta go with Atsushi Aoki (RIP) and Kotaro Suzuki. Their stuff in 2013 is some of the best stuff of the year. Even their stuff in 2012 NOAH was very good. I do have to give props to Junior Stars (Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka) as they were equally responsible for the awesome feud and boosting my interest in the team. A great later one to watch in 2013 is their 10/27 match vs Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie. Best Wrestler If we're looking at volume of excellent matches, Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki and Suwama are all very solid candidates for best wrestler of the year. Joe Doering is another very good candidate. His stuff in 2014 as champ is absolutely amazing especially his bout vs Shiozaki (more on that later). Doering before then doesn't make a big enough impression as a star. He's more like Suwama's big gaijin buddy until later. Suwama is a great ace and the face of of AJPW especially when the NOAH guys invaded in 2013. He has some real classic matches but also disappointed me in smaller bouts and even in some title fights. He reminds me of later Misawa in that regard. Not bad company to be in at but, maybe not for the greatest of reasons. Shiozaki has been the spark of AJPW in 2013 & 2014. He's brought an energy and intensity to every fight - singles, tags, six mans. That said he's one dimensional in that regard. That is how he's booked. We know that he can play plucky from his stuff in 2005, he can do powerhouse and heel stuff from his time in ROH & FIP. Here he's co-ace with Suwama and he does a great job. However every performance is coming from the same place emotionally. Akiyama is different from all of these guys as he's past his prime. He's Tenryu for the 2010's. He's tough, clever and mean. His style really harkens back to an older AJPW style now that his body won't allow him to perform as he once did. This may sound pretty silly but he actually tells stories in his matches. He makes little things matter ever if it just for one match. Like Tenryu or Fujiwara he sells a lot through his facial expressions at this point of his career. Not just selling as in "ow this hurts" but selling the story. He shows his anger, disgust, frustration. I think he's always done this but was maybe overlooked because of the types of matches he was able to do at the time. But I still wouldn't say he's the Best Wrestler for 2022. Akiyama is 2010's Tenryu and in that regard he's not really an underdog. He's still a big deal and the only BIG name in late 2013-14 All Japan. Takao Omori is my wrestler of the year. He wrestles/performs his story. That is to say, he's the heart & soul of All Japan. He wants to be there and in some ways I feel his goal was to always come back after the NOAH split and his time in Zero One. So when Akiyama, Kanemaru want to come back to AJPW and bring their NOAH pals, he doesn't want them there. He wants to be an AJPW wrestler and didn't come back for the money or notoriety or was forced to come there. But not just that, he does everything that Akiyama does. He along with Jun are bringing the old AJPW to the 2010's. You can see and feel it in how the matches are paced and structured. Akiyama will bring this most of the time but sometimes relies on routine, Omori always tries to work this older, richer style. A fantastic example is his 2013 Champion Carnival match against Shiozaki (04/25/13) or Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori (Vacant Triple Crown Title - 06/15/14). All in all, I want to give Takao Omori the credit he is due. For his consistency, quality, stylistic choices, and storytelling he is the Best Wrestler. Now onto the big list of matches... 2010's AJPW (and related matches) Honorable Mention: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Hiroshi Yamato (06/02/2013) Near Classic Matches: Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Kaz Hayashi (02/10/13) Jun Akiyama vs KAI (04/29/13) Suwama & SUSHI vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki (07/21/13) Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara (08/31/13 Diamond Ring) Joe Doering & Suwama vs. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori (AJPW - 02/08/14) Classic Matches: Sanada/Soya vs Yuji Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto (03/21/11) Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (03/17/13) Suwama vs Go Shiozaki (04/18/13) Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (04/25/13) Minoru Tanaka, Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Yamato vs Atsushi Aoki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki (04/29/13) Jun Akiyama and Go Shiozaki vs. Joe Doering and Suwama (06/02/2013) Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13) Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Suwama & Takao Omori (08/17/13) Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs. Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara (10/27/13) Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori (Vacant Triple Crown Title - 06/15/14) Joe Doering (c) vs. Go Shiozaki (10/29/14 -Triple Crown Title) Burning Wild vs Xceed (11/29/14) Doering/Shingo vs Hino/Miyahara (12/04/14 Fortune Dream) Everything Else Honorable Mention: Bruiser Brody vs Jumbo Tsuruta (10/14/83) Dory Funk Jr. vs Stan Hansen (AJPW 11/28/83) Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJPW 09/26/1993) Lord Steven Regal vs Dean Malenko (WCW 08/19/96) Naomichi Marufuji vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa (ZERO1 03/02/2001) Shinya Hashimoto & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura (ZERO1 09/15/2001) Ikuto Hidaka & Masao Orihara vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki (Differ Cup 2003) Kotaro Suzuki, Yoshinari Ogawa & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Atsushi Aoki, Bryan Danielson & Doug Williams (NOAH 10/25/08) Aoki & Suzuki vs Marvin & Super Crazy - (NOAH 07/22/12) Near Classic Matches: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho (WCW Fall Brawl 09/14/97) Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa & Tatsuhito Takaiwa (ZERO1 09/15/2001) Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue (01/10/03 NOAH) Madoka & Kengo Mashimo vs Katsumasa Inoue & Daisuke Sekimoto (BJW 03/14/07) Classic Matches: Baba & Dory Jr. vs Hansen & Brody (AJPW 12/10/83) Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio (WCW Halloween Havoc, Mask vs Title October 26, 1997) Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 12/09/01) Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka (01/10/03 NOAH) Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03 Osaka Pro) Samoa Joe vs Homicide (ROH Do Or Die – May 2003) Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (ROH Glory by Honor II - September 2003) Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (ROH War of the Wire - November 2003) Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels vs AJ Styles (TNA Against All Odds 2006) Takashi Sasaki vs Yuko Miyamoto - Scaffold and Light tube (BJW 03/14/07) Takashi Sasaki vs Ryuji Ito: 300 light tube death match (BJW 07/08/07) Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe (Zero One 08/03/08) Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki vs Otani, Hidaka & Hashimoto - (NOAH 05/09/12) All Time Classic Matches: AJ Styles vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Main Event Spectacles 2003) Well there it is...AJ vs Danielson. Thanks folks, see ya in 2023! ...just kidding. So the best match watched in 2022 was AJ vs Danielson at ROH Main Event Spectacles 2003. That's a known classic that lives up to the hype. That's awesome but I'm flipping the script and picking something different A couple others come to mind from AJPW 2013: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (03/17/13) Suwama vs Go Shiozaki (04/18/13) Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13) Some from the Everything Else category that really stuck with me this year are: Samoa Joe vs Homicide (ROH Do Or Die – May 2003) Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe (Zero One 08/03/08) There might be some others that I raved about in my blog at the time so by all means believe those words. However scanning over both lists these ones really, really stuck out in my mind. The first Jr. tag match is on there because its the first in their series and just knocked my socks off. Suwama vs Shiozaki is the because it's their first meeting, there's so much tension and hype but it lives up to it sets the stage for ace vs conquering ace. Its a Champion Carnival match on the first night so both guys are fresh and ready to go. The 2/3 falls tag is there because it is a stipulation you just don't see anymore but was a staple of AJPW tags going back to the 70's. That was a conscious choice to use it here in order to help revive/restore a truer All Japan style (they use it in a Shiozaki vs Suwama match I didn't see as well). We see that in how this match is worked as well. Its my quintessential Burning vs All Japan heavyweight tag. Joe vs Homicide is here because I'd didn't really see this get talked about other than Mcxal's awesome complete ROH blog. He and I match up with our views/ratings and he wasn't wrong. I didn't go one about this on my Joe post but it was because I couldn't not do it justice but, "Intense violent title fight" really is true. Tanaka vs Makabe falls into that category as well. It just did everything right for me. I said back in February, "more Southern brawl (with heel cheating) than a late 00's puro match. It had a couple hardcore spots but in the ways of later ECW/FMW plus it was intense and hard hitting as you wanted for 2008." All that aside, my pick for the best match watched in 2022 is Joe Doering vs Go Shiozaki (10/29/14 -Triple Crown Title). As much as people had said Doering was channeling Stan Hansen, Shiozaki was channeling Misawa. If this period is about restoring the true classic AJPW style then I think they nailed it here. "It never felt like they were killing time or working a sequence. Because just when you thought they were going to do something expected, they did something else. Expect the unexpected is a phrase I kept in mind early on and it stayed relevant throughout. Don't anticipate some slick or cute match. Its nasty and a little rough around the edges at times but man! That's part of what makes it worth your time. A classic match and a fight worthy of the Triple Crown title." So there you have it! Another year gone...Holy Cow! I feel like I watched a ton of wrestling this year by the looks of this list. Again, I hope this helps you out and if you're new around here, go check out my posts from 2022. And please join me in 2023! Thanks for reading! It really means a lot to me and thanks to anyone who left me comments. I've got some good stuff planned for the new year. Take care everyone
  3. Crazy match. Not a classic by any chance or anything, but two guys who just hate each other brawling it out. Homicide is coming in off a loss to Samoa Joe in a world title match and his frustration due to lack of title wins is starting to kick in. Worth noting Julius Smokes is an incredible hype man. His ringside work never gets the proper recognition it deserves. The match itself is just built around both guys just hitting each other with stiff strikes for 12 or so minutes while it slowly escalates to a brutal finish with Homicide using a noose to choke out Joe.
  4. I'm back with the second and final installment of the Samoa Joe - World Champion DVD released by ROH in 2004. Let's pick back up where we left off. vs Christopher Daniels (Glory by Honor II - September 2003): A fighting champion for sure! Daniels used his speed & agility to take Joe to the limit. In a way Daniels maybe should have won because he showed tons of toughness withstanding Joe's awesome offense. If you've seen their TNA battles then you know Joe can really toss The Fallen Angel around. The one STO looked especially vicious! So yeah in a way Daniels was the physical underdog and even though he's the heel, you started rooting for him. Just a classic match...nice pacing, things made sense and was earned. I really appreciated the finish as well. These two would not be done with each other. vs Jay Briscoe (Tradition Continues - October 2003): Man there were some early 2000's frat bro marks in the audience this night. Christ Almighty dude, sit the fuck down. I hope that these dudes bought the tape back in '03 and saw what douche bags they were. But they probably were marking out for themselves. Anyhow, this was a pretty good match. Joe wasn't taking Jay seriously and Jay would mount a comeback then Joe would snuff him out. The reason those guys were such dicks is that Jay had no chance of beating the champ. Yet they were acting like he could and getting folks all worked up. It reminded me of PWG in the Reseda VFW. Just fans who think that they are part of the entertainment. It took away from a pretty enjoyable match. In all fairness this is in Maryland and I'm sure there's local fans from here & Delaware at the show. Pretty much like BJ why he was booked in a title fight. It wasn't great as Jay didn't have much of a personality yet and looked bush league with the singlet and shorts gear but all things said, his offense looked better than BJ Whitmer's and he took some punishment thus making him a viable singles contender down the road. One near fall was pretty dumb and killed the prestige of a finisher in my opinion. It was far too generous to 2003 Jay. One more time? ----- vs AJ Styles (War of the Wire - November 2003): Phenomenal world title match! Seriously though this is one I hadn't heard of but seeing it on paper I knew it had to be worthwhile. A classic match without a doubt. This is a twist on what Joe has been doing as AJ seems to an answer for many of Joe's attacks. Joe actually seems to have met his match and in turn takes a few short cuts (see the eye rake out of the Muta lock for instance). I'm not sure how it rates against some of their TNA matches but this is exactly what I wanted to see. If the Corino vs Homicide barb wire war wasn't right after this then I think they could have made this even better. But hey that's business. I loved that match too so no complaints. We get kind of a unique twist on the finish too...sort of a modified extra hurty version. ----- vs Mark Briscoe (Final Battle - December 2003): Mark pinned the champ in a tag match before the above show so he gets a shot at the title. I liked the story of this much more than Jay's fight. It makes more sense in terms of a narrative. Jay was booked to capitalize on being in Maryland & get local fans. Admittedly Mark was booked as a somewhat mid level challenger for the AJPW visiting Final Battle. Joe, I believe still was a zero joke affiliated worker so he needed to be out of the cross promotional fights (Monika vs Joe in 2003 would have been sweet!). All that aside, no one thinks Mark is gonna win..maybe not even Mark. BUT I think he & Joe use that to tell an great underdog story. Additionally, Jay's presence at ringside is more meaningful as Joe is soft feuding with the Briscoes. I don't know, it's one of those the sums is greater than the whole of its parts matches. It was very good and a nice finish. Plus we get a Punk Joe confrontation to pave the way for 2004. ----- Overall, this is a great DVD. A few classic (****1/2) matches vs perennial rivals, and some very good defenses as well (vs Williams, London & Mark being the best). I would have liked more shown of the highlighted tag matches (Night of Grudges 6 man & Briscoe Brothers vs Joe & AJ at The Conclusion). That's just a preference since they could have shown a highlighted version of the Whitmer match. I do not care for that at all. Anyhow, highly recommended DVD. Its on eBay but be patient and you should be able to get it for a reasonable price ($10-15).
  5. This show was kind of a holy grail DVD for me. Well holy grail for a reasonable price. But it is actually rather uncommon to find compared to later ROH stuff. The big draw of this is the main event of AJ Styles vs Bryan Danielson. It was the one major omission in the excellent ROH Year Two compilation. This match completed the trinity of all time classics from AJ, Paul London and Danielson in 2003 - Epic Encounter, Night of the Grudges being the other two. And let me say it again, Paul London would have had more classics if he stuck around. Those two classic battles were not accidental. Anyhow, this is a Quickie so let's get going. I skipped stuff that I wasn't interested in or have watched once elsewhere and had no intention of watching again. Dan Maff vs Colt Cabana - Skipped Xavier & Nigel McGuinness vs John Walters & Tony Mamaluke - Very early Nigel appearance and I think he's the standout here. His work with The Purists was the real interesting stuff. Nothing against Xavier (R.I.P.) but his stuff was generic. This was a fun match though. ----- Matt Stryker vs Justin Credible - Skipped Izzy & Dixie vs The Briscoe Brothers - Cornette is with Dem Boys (oh wait! too early for that). Special K matches usually gets skipped but this was actually rather good. Glad I gave it a shot. Homicide vs BJ Whitmer - I feel that whatever was good here was due to Homicide. A reliable source said this was a great match but I humbly disagree. It was OK. What SHOULD have been the finish would have kept this as a good match. But in the worst decision they went beyond that...in true nonsensical Indie fashion. Who made this decision? Scramble Cage Match - I'm not listing all of the teams. This is kinda infamous. Its Jack Evans' debut and Teddy Hart's last ROH match (ever?). I've seen it once. Its Indie in the worst way. What's notable is Jay Lethal as Hydro for Special K wrestles in this one too. If you haven't seen it, go check it out for the spectacle. Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels vs Steve Corino vs CM Punk - Everyone has got a little bit of history here except Joe & Punk which is funny. Fast forward the obnoxiously long Corino intro and you've got a great match with 4 icons of ROH. Joe looked like the World Champ here. That match could have been the main event to an average ROH show for the time but we get one more... AJ Styles vs Bryan Danielson - Topping their classic from All Star Extravaganza ('02), we get one of the most intense and competitively fought matches I've seen this year. You need to watch this match. It has been hyped since it took place so I'm not going to say anything that hasn't been said. All Time Classic ROH match. This is probably my Best Match Watched front runner right now. That said I probably won't choose it since it is something a lot of folks have been aware of for awhile. Overall a fun show with an all time classic. That really elevated the appeal to me when searching for this. Shit its the only reason I was searching for it. So the tag matches and the 4 way are gravy on top. Thanks for reading!
  6. This match is deeply stupid. From the outset, Rush eggs Lee on, like a big brother would, but always makes sure Lee knows he's in control. Rush hits a fantastic topé con giro and heels it up, throwing Lee into the barricades repeatedly. Rush mocks Lee, slapping him around and stomping him in the corner. This leads to Lee's eventual comeback, where he places Rush on a table and lawndarts himself out of the ring onto Rush. Admittedly, that looked awesome. Where the match starts to fall apart is when they start no-selling everything. I could buy it a few times, maybe as Rush and Lee not giving their sibling the satisfaction of having one-upped them, but it was constant. This ended up having the third superplex from the apron on the show, which would've been fine if it hadn't already happened, but didn't carry much weight after the previous two. Rush and Lee lay in their strikes on the apron, but it's just a ruse so they can no-sell more moves. Rush eventually gets the better of Lee and sends him flying off the apron with a suplex. Unsurprisingly, Lee sells it for all of a second before hitting a hurricanrana off the apron. I understand the appeal of cool moves, but this is all getting to be exhausting. More tired tropes rear their ugly head, with a count-out tease leading to both competitors getting in the ring at 19. They kick out of each other's signature moves, and you know the deal by this point. Rush eventually gets the win with the Bull's Horns. While parts of it were enjoyable, I don't think this ever came together cohesively.
  7. Wheeler Yuta defends the ROH Pure Title Garcia's trying to get into YUTA's head, sporting the maroon boys made famous by YUTA's Blackpool Combat Club stablemates William Regal and Bryan Danielson. The opening lock-up is gritty and intense, setting the tone for the match perfectly. YUTA and Garcia get chippy immediately, trading slaps and strikes. YUTA takes a wicked bump to the outside when Garcia merely chucks him over the top rope to the floor. Garcia immediately follows up on the bump to the floor, sending YUTA into the barricades. I appreciated Garcia rolling YUTA into the ring and desperately going for pinfall attempts, selling the fact that he's trying to win. There's more snap to YUTA's offense than usual, as he dumps Garcia on his neck with German Suplexes. Garcia distracting the referee so he could bite YUTA's ear, only to start working over the ear by grinding the point of his elbow into it is tremendous character work. He's clearly trying to ingratiate himself to Regal, but not at the cost of becoming champion. YUTA also matches Garcia's intensity, grabbing him by the ears and punching him off the top turnbuckle. A hockey fight breaks out with both agitatedly trading slaps, and Garcia's hit with another German Suplex as he makes it to his feet at the count of nine. YUTA nails Garcia with some ungiving shots to the midsection as he has Daniel's armed locked behind his back, showing off some of that BCC training. Rather than taking turns allowing each other to lock in holds, the submission teases came off as a struggle to survive against the opponent's tactics. Garcia locks in the Red Death Lock, but YUTA reverses into a Bulldog Choke. Garcia lets YUTA out of a Regal Stretch to hit some more knee strikes, but it proves to be a mistake as YUTA traps him in a Lion Tamer, forcing Daniel to use his first rope break. YUTA caught Garcia off-guard when Daniel got too cute and went for the stomps used by his mentor Bryan Danielson, reversing into a Seatbelt Clutch for the win. Unlike many recent pure rules matches, this wasn't reliant on rope breaks. Instead, they used one rope break near the end of the contest, milking it for maximum impact. The match was gutsy, intense, and determined, everything you could want out of these two while leaving room for a rematch. A match to go out your way for.
  8. FTR defend the ROH World Tag Team Title in a 2/3 falls match The first fall was nothing to write home about. It was very basic and I would have preferred if they'd gone straight into the action rather than doing another extended feeling-out process. Respect was shown early, with both FTR & The Briscoes backing off when the doctor attempted to attend to a member of the opposing team. Things progressively escalated when The Briscoes began taking cheap shots. Wheeler makes a fantastic save, delivering a lariat to Mark as he tries to go for the Cactus Elbow off the apron onto Dax. Dax takes a nasty bump, hitting the post chest-first, and The Briscoes hit a Doomsday Device to pick up the first fall. Something I found interesting about the way this match was structured is how FTR alternated as the face in peril, with Cash taking the brunt of the offense in the first fall and Dax in the second.Harwood's chest gets busted open from chops by Mark. The Briscoes expertly cut off the ring and milk the tags for all they're worth, knocking Wheeler off the apron at every opportunity. After a while of Harwood taking the heat, The Briscoes attempt a second Redneck Boogie, but Wheeler cuts Jay off at just the right time. That leads to Wheeler hitting a Gory Special for an extremely close near fall. Jay hits Wheeler with the ring bell, splitting him open. Harwood makes the save and pulls Jay out of the ring, goading Mark in and delivering a Flapjack into the steps to take him out. FTR scores the second fall with the Big Rig on Jay shortly thereafter. I cannot overstate how great FTR's saves in this match were, as they were perfectly-timed each go-around. This was arguably the apex of the match, as The Briscoes were repulsive in their heat segment, and Harwood was great as the never-say-die babyface. The third and final fall is the come down, which feels odd to say since it starts off hot with Cash and Mark headbutting each other. Wheeler pushes Mark off the top rope when The Briscoes attempt another Doomsday Device, allowing Harwood to deliver a right hand to Mark in mid-air.Jay ducks a punch and Dax erroneously decks the referee. I'm never a fan of ref bumps, especially ones this poorly-executed. They come off as theatrical, and Jay looks stupid when he goes for a pin knowing the referee was taken out mere seconds earlier. The hyperbole from commentary didn't help matters, with Coleman saying something along the lines of "this is the greatest match I've ever seen in my life," and Riccaboni responding with "one of the absolute greatest tag matches I've ever seen." That brings me to the discourse surrounding this match. It's not enough for something to be good or even great. Everything has to be The Best Thing Ever. I, myself, have a propensity to hype up matches, but all I'm asking is for people to be a little more thoughtful. Wheeler makes another great save, breaking the count at 2.99 after The Briscoes finally land the Doomsday Device they were looking for earlier. There was a botched suplex over the ropes, which made the match feel slightly more dangerous. The Briscoes locked in double submissions and FTR grabbed each other's hands to keep from tapping out, which came across as a hokey relic of NXT. Wheeler gave a back suplex to Mark from the top rope to a table on the outside, allowing Harwood to hit a top-rope piledriver on Jay for the win. I liked that they saved the top-rope piledriver for the finish, as that move should be treated as a potential career-ender. I probably sound more negative on this match than I actually am, but it's only because I loved their first encounter so much. The tease of two straight falls gave more weight to the near falls. The second fall is superb, straight-forward tag team wrestling at its finest. However, the match is bogged down by bloat and some late melodrama that didn't land for me. Regardless, if you're a fan of these teams, there's plenty to enjoy here.
  9. Jonathan Gresham defends the ROH World Title Classic dueling body work- based match. Gresham immediately tries to break the base of Castagnoli with a wrist lock. I like how the early arm work from Gresham plays into him softening up Castagnoli for what's to come later. It's a small detail, but the kind of thing Gresham does incredibly well. Gresham targets the knee, while Castagnoli goes after Jonathan's lower back. Gresham goes for a suplex, but the damage has already taken its toll. The selling comes across naturally and is a wonderful extension of the technique vs. power story they're telling. Take, for example, the moment Castagnoli's knee gives out after an Alpamare Waterslide attempt. Or how Claudio takes a bump into the turnbuckles and falls to a knee, allowing Gresham to regain control. The high point of the match is Castagnoli hitting an absurd gut-wrench suplex on Gresham from the apron into the ring. Gresham continues to pepper Castagnoli with kicks to the knee, which is met by European Uppercuts from Claudio. The arm work even comes back into play briefly, as Gresham's able to block an uppercut and hit an Enziguri. Claudio also serves as the perfect base for some of Gresham's high-flying offense, getting into position for a moonsault at the perfect time. My biggest gripe with this match lies in the finish, which was abrupt. Shortly after a flurry of offense from Gresham, Claudio lands a series of elbows and hits the Ricola Bomb for the win. This is about as decisive of a victory as you can get, and if it's Gresham's swan song from ROH, it was quite the way to go out. Gresham and Castagnoli are masters of creating late drama, and the final roll-up from Gresham had me biting. While I would've loved to see something a little more substantial, this was a really good match.
  10. I very much wanted to call this post "The Champ is Here" but that is the title of Joe's second volume ROH DVD. Today we'll be looking at volume one which looks at Joe's first defenses of the ROH World Championship after defeating Xavier. These are the matches that really put that title on the map and really establish the prestige of that position. You may forget that Low-Ki was the first champ and his climb to the top was greater than his time there. That's OK since Xavier was a project for Gabe S. but the fans really didn't want him even after a few shows. Here comes Samoa Joe who was both a badass like Ki and a project for Gabe. vs Doug Williams (Retribution: Round Robin Challenge 2 – April 2003): Having just watched a bunch of Steven Regal, I'm thrilled to watch a version of Regal (so to speak) take on Samoa Joe. The first couple minutes could have been on Nitro. Things pick up into more familiar territory especially for the champ as his MMA styling shows through and we gets sort of a worked shoot-style thing (BattlARTS) with Williams going after the arm and Samoa Joe trying to hook in what he can given the position he's in (STF, Crab, Heel hook etc.) but it leads to the the Choke in the end. Quick match at a little over 10 minutes but certainly puts the finisher over as a match ender AND Joe as a fighting champ. This was hard hitting and very physical. A good way to set the tone for Joe as champ. ----- vs Homicide (Do Or Die – May 2003): Intense violent title fight. The backstory is tied to Homicide vs Corino's Group. But really this is Joe vs Homicide. I haven't seen their other matches but I think this is the best of the bunch per some trusted sources. That's good because this is a classic... maybe a forgotten classic ROH World title match. ----- vs Dan Maff (WrestleRave - June 2003): Hard hitting no nonsense title fight with the two heavyweights of the company. It felt very much like a local independent promotion's TV main event on the cable sports channel at 10:00 on a Sunday. There's a story to tell as Maff pinned Joe at the previous show thus disbanding the ill-fated Group and well pinning the champ with a jack knife pin. However there's no real story telling here or even a call back to Maff using the jack knife pin. Its just two guys beating each other up. Good stuff nonetheless but could have been improved with just a couple small touches. vs Paul London (Death Before Dishonor - July 2003): London's final ROH (of his original run) and while common sense says he's not going to win, your heart hopes he does. Paul London is sorta like the best kept secret of early ROH watching in the 2010's & '20s- even more so than his former pal Brian Kendrick. Sure both went on to the WWE and got some fame but that's probably faded by now. But I think what's stranger in hindsight is that Paul jumped ship as his star and confidence in ring was rising. I suppose it makes sense at the time to take the big time deal then...no it makes perfect sense. In hindsight, went in 10 years too early. He was Smackdown tag champs but what is that really in the grand scheme of things? He was one of the first in a long line of fantastic talent wasted in WWE. I digress. So here we have Joe on the rise and London at the end of the road. What could be a very simple to the point match or even a squash is given time and room to breathe and be creative. London wants to go out on top and will use everything in his arsenal to win. Joe is slowly becoming the legendary definitive ROH champ so you're not going to win without a helluva fight. Its not a perfect or even pretty match at times but everyone looks good in the end. Great match and I enjoyed it more after seeing for a second time 5-6 years later. ----- vs BJ Whitmer (Wrath of the Racket - August 2003): This was a low end good match. Whitmer has as much charisma as a saltine cracker. He's also still doing an tribute act to Jun Akiyama. His exploder suplex looked good his jumping knees were mediocre. Those are tough for anyone to make look good. The corner ones you can jump up and jam the knee in the chest, guy sells it and its like caught between a rock & a hard place. The running version comes down to the guy selling it. Act like its hit you and stopped your momentum and knocks you flat on your back. Trying to make it look good as a actual strike is tough. Joe does his thing and keeps this interesting. I'll pick back up with Part #2 soon.Thanks for reading!
  11. Here's a quickie covering a few Ikuto Hidaka matches that I found online. I guess it's all a part of looking for Zero One wrestling matches. He's a guy that really impressed me from my brief foray into BattlARTS and from an ECW match back in 2000 or so. Had ECW lasted longer perhaps he'd be in the mix with Super Crazy, Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Little Guido etc. and the best Juniors matches on US TV. Anyhow let's take a look at what I found. & Minoru Fujita vs T. Kuroda & Yoshihito Sasaki (08/31/04): Classic structure Jr. tag match with an awesome high energy final act. Great to see FMW alum Kuroda kicking butt! And man Sasaki had a relatively short career but he's so impressive even this early. No one talks about him so I'm going to praise his work and no frills style every chance I get. Here Fujita's execution is on point and the man Hidaka is his usual wizard self. He is just so quick and clean in his movements that it's a joy to watch. Fujita's hot tag to Hidaka is just sick! This is a very very good match. & Fujita vs Spanky Brian Kendrick & Alex Shelley (03/27/05): Kendrick surprised me again! He's so scrawny that I just don't believe he's any good. Then he proves me wrong. Thank goodness! Fujita was a bit off tonight or there were communication issues so some of his stuff (especially with Alex) didn't work correctly. But Shelley vs Hidaka was sublime. Their mat wrestling was totally worth it. Really other than those couple execution errors this was looking to be a great match ('05 Shelley and Spanky make it easy). As it stands its still very good and absolutely worth a watch if you're interested or nostalgic for early 2000's ROH type stuff. vs Super Crazy (04/14/05): This was what I had hoped for! He and Crazy met in ECW and had a breathtaking encounter on ECW on TNN. Here they do it again and actually take it more to the extreme. Crazy lived up to his name and Hidaka wouldn't be outdone in his home promotion. 14 minutes of fireworks. Very good match! Absolutely left me wanting more. vs Munenori Sawa (09/19/10): Wow this was some BattlARTS shit! I kinda didn't know what I was watching since stylistically this was so different from the previous junior style matches. This was two dudes beating the crap outta each other. There was little defensive manoeuvres. It was palm strikes and kicks until someone fell down. Then try to snap a limb or pop a joint. But in BattlARTS fashion there were drop kicks and a couple more moves too. But then Sawa just punches Hidaka in the face His face swells up and is bleeding from the mouth. This was a heck of a match. Feels weird to watch something so Indie 90's Japan take place in 2010. I love it! I'm not going to give a rating but highly recommend watching this! Overall this was a fun little mini project. I know there's more Ikuto Hidaka on my horizon as I've got some Zero One wrestling dvds as well as some late 90's stuff. This has only gotten me more hyped to watch those. Thanks for reading!
  12. In October, it was announced that Ring of Honor would be taking time off from Jan-March of 2022. The hiatus would end with Supercard of Honor. In the meantime, portion of the roster would be let go at the end of the year while others would be let go in early 2022. Many including myself believed this was the end of the road for the promotion. I'm not sure calling the Final Battle 2021 'End of an Era' helped dispel our speculation. I just posted on ROH thread that I thought AEW might have some interest in the brand especially with so many former ROH now AEW stars participating in Final Battle. After Final Battle ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff did the ROH Strong podcast to talk about all of this. I've never listened to this podcast and I am guessing many of you haven't either. I had no intention of starting with listening to a suit talk corporate talk for an hour plus. That being said, it also seemed like the only place we were going to get actual details on what's to become of the organization. Again, there's just a lot of speculation floating around by both people in the business and fans alike. I'm going to give you my take aways from the 80 min. long interview. Its actually a pretty easy listen and Koff really seems to have a sincere affection for the fans, employees, and promotion as a whole. They begin by talking about Final Battle and the events that transpired with the tributes, matches, guest appearances and having the Lethal vs Gresham main event with Bandido being pulled due to COVID. Then there's a bunch of thanks given to Delirious (referred by his real name). What's odd is that they do seem to refer to things in the past tense. As in saying WAS instead of saying IS. I didn't make notes on this because they hadn't started talking about the hiatus and etc. But it did seem to initially corroborate speculations. They get to the meat and Koff starts by saying ROH's plans for 2020 were to start a live weekly TV taping ala RAW. So 52 live episodes per week. Perhaps live to tape like the late night talk shows. Additionally they wanted to have a fixed time across the Sinclair stations so it would appear the same time on every station so 22 The Point here in Pittsburgh would have it the same time as WUAB in Cleveland as in wherever else...again like most wrestling shows. Anyhow COVID happened and that plan got shot to shit. ROH then showed a few months worth of best of shows (we'll get back to that) and eventually came back with the Pure Title Tournament (see my past posts about that). He mentions in the meantime AEW has grown and IMO ROH has stagnated. They have done the best job in keeping people safe in terms of their and the Maryland Athletic comissions COVID protocols. Koff seemed please in keeping fans and staff safe although probably wouldn't have been a strict. Koff is adamant that Ring of Honor is not going out of business. Its not a matter of IF they come back its a matter of WHEN. They are "re-imagining" Ring of Honor. He does not express what this means (I'll take some guesses). He did say the plan is to cease matches and plans of touring until March when the plan is to return with Supercard of Honor. Koff said they will still be having TV shows in that time. I assume they have some stuff already taped and may do a year end retrospective. But more interesting is Koff remarked that ratings were positive for the Best Of shows in the Spring and Summer of 2020. In case you missed these, each week would feature a wrestler or team and showcase usually 3 standout matches during the ROH career or since Sinclair owned the promotion. If we read between the lines of what Joe Koff was saying, it sounds like this will be the plan from Jan-March. He said the shows without matches did really well (paraphasing). Well there's no ROH episode without matches but he must mean this from a production standpoint. So no matches booked, produced (filmed, lit, etc.) and wrestled. He was very careful not to give anything away for the future but repeated 're-imagine' and emphasis on the fans importance and 'focus on fans.' What this means I don't know and now comes the speculation - Informed speculation. At the end, I'll say what I'd like to see but this section is more interpretation of what Koff has said. First, I really believe this hiatus period of Jan-March will be Best Of episodes using ROH's back catalog. This will do well in the ratings while requiring minimal production and staff. This keeps ROH on TV while keeping fans happy. I think one thing everyone wants is easier access to ROH's back catalog even if its just 2011-2021. There's some really awesome stuff in there that I don't believe is even available on ROH's Honor Club service. I'm getting ahead of myself. I think COVID is a big part of letting go of talent and taking a hiatus. They were trying to wait the pandemic out while other companies eventually said screw it. Ethically I agree with ROH. Financially though this was pretty bad. They have had no show revenue for 2 years! This 3 month period is a time to hibernate and slow the bleeding as well as wait COVID out a little longer. In regards to his emphasis on the fans, I would think this means more social media activity but also listening to what the fans want in terms of booking. I don't think they will do away with Delirious but they will give fans more input as they do with The Experience shows and Unauthorized where people vote on matches or stipulations. I think they may have some folks pay more attention to what fans are saying online and booking with instead of against those opinions. Oh one other thing I remember is regarding the Forbidden Door. People believe Final Battle 2021 shows that ROH will be working with other promotions like AEW and Impact. Koff was quick to say there never has been a Forbidden Door with ROH. This is true and good of him to say this. ROH was THE promotion that worked with other companies - Zero-1, AJPW, Dragon Gate, NJPW, NOAH, Chikara, CZW, CMLL, and of course they had a working relationship with TNA on and off for awhile. WWF used to do it with ECW. I mean the NWA was before all of that! So anyhow, I do see this as a very real possibility. This is something the fans want to see. Fans of puro have been privy to this for the past 20 years. But the hope is that the AEW fans who jumped ship with the Elite and other talent will come back to ROH even if only on occasion. I think everyone would want another ALL IN level show down the road. Koff remarked that one of his best memories was doing ALL IN even though the aftermath was less than desirable. Could we see something like this in March for a true Supercard of Honor? That's what I've got as far as informed speculation. Koff didn't show his cards past what they are going to do in the meantime. He was pretty firm about Ring of Honor not going away. It would just be coming back different. I'm going to go bat-shit with the ideas. One thing I've thought of is having the majority of ROH's TV show be flashback matches along with promos all themed toward upcoming PPVs or which could be teased on AEW TV perhaps. This all depends on who ROH wants to keep or build around. I would love to see ROH focus on the Pure Rules or guys like Gresham, Tracy Williams. The ROH product will focus on a core group of guys but various talent will be brought in from the Indies or elsewhere (AEW, Mexico, Japan) to challenge them. Those guys and girls would venture out on occasion as well. This would be similar to the NWA territory days. Essentially re-unifying and sharing talent after Vince tore it apart 35 years ago. Again we have seen this in Japan in the 2000's Pro Wrestling Love Era. Again, we kinda would see this with TNA, PWG and ROH for awhile...I think we can see it again. I'd love to see this along with classic matches every week or two. So I don't think ROH is going to dissolve. I know ROH has put their back catalog out for the highest bidder so I think if someone gave them the right dollar amount for that and everything, they would take it. Koff is a businessman as he reminds us at the end of the podcast. I just don't know if that'll happen. OR maybe that is exactly how this is all going to go down... AEW buys ROH then they do like a RAW vs Smackdown thing with them? Or perhaps they will cut enough costs and re-envision their business model to work better work around COVID. They are very adaptable as Koff said and I believe him. But then again, business is business. Thanks for reading! Just had all of that floating around in my head so I hope it makes sense.
  13. We're back with Ring of Honor 2018 Global Wars in Buffalo, New York. Dalton Castle vs TK O'Ryan - skipped...this starts off as The Boys vs Vinny and Taven which kills the momentum of the show right off the bat. Kenny King vs Cheeseburger - skipped Kelly Klein vs Madison Rayne - skipped...notice a pattern? BUSHI vs Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon vs Kushida - Ah a match that I'm interested in! This was fun but pretty underdeveloped and predictable. Nonetheless it still was enjoyable to see these guys do some cool spots even if obvious. BUSHI didn't do much for me but the other three were pretty good. I like this iteration of Flip Gordon. Jeff Cobb vs EVIL - I want to like Jeff Cobb but his intensity is lacking and his move set is unimpressive for his size. He has a good look and should be a beast but something just doesn't click with me. I've seen EVIL do better but that aside this was good stuff. But was not 'awesome ' as the crowd was chanting. It was a good mid card match that two professionals should be able to have. Nothing more or less. That doesn't really help my impression of Cobb though. Silas Young vs Juice Robinson - Here we go! Best Bout so far (not saying much!). Silas and Juice have a really good thing going. They are basic wrestlers with sprinkles of flash and it works out here. I was really digging this until Bully Ray comes out and spoils the finishing segment. I wouldn't care had the previous 2 bouts been better but damn dudes! Let's get an honest ***1/2 match in the books before you start with the Jeff Jarret-like bull crap! We get 95% of a very good match then some storyline setup. Whatever! Tetsuya Naito/SANADA vs Young Bucks - Thank goodness for the Young Bucks. They can get a show back on track in their sleep. Naito and Sanada have upped their games and have a great Young Bucks romp. Lots of cute sequences and fake outs but damn is it fast and exciting. Its Bucks by the numbers with Naito & Sanada plugged into that equation. And that's nothing to sneeze at Jay Lethal vs Chris Sabin - Proving ground match which is a 15 minute time limit match. If Sabin wins or lasts the time limit then he gets a shot at Lethal's championship. Yeah, best match so far. This isn't turn back the clock nostalgia. Both guys can still go! They play up their equality throughout and man are there some real surprises. I like that older Sabin is more like Alex Shelley now - he's all about Mr. Salty style submission holds. There's one segment when he just tears Lethal apart. This was smart as it not only ate up time but made Lethal weaker and less likely to hit the Lethal injection. This was a great match and if it was longer, I think it had the potential to be a classic. I liked the aftermath too. This felt like ROH of old. Best Friends vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - Cody looks like a boy in pajama pants. He is like Peter Pan. Thank goodness he's in a multi man match. OK that's out of the way! This was a very good borderline great match. There's a little cutesy crap with Brandi and a group hug but overall this is serious match. Cody looked pretty good as his time was limited. Chuck Taylor was all business so yeah this delivered as a main event. They gave it plenty of time. Delirious can't help but overbook the finish for no good reason. Maybe it protects someone or something but not much makes sense in 2018 ROH. You just hope for exciting ma and stories be damned! This accomplished that and I ain't complaining. We'll finish up with the final stop of the tour in Toronto in a day or two! Thanks for reading I recommend checking out the Lethal vs Sabin match for sure! But the last 3 matches make this show worthwhile.
  14. Hello and welcome to my end of the year Best Match Watched list! Its like your Match of the Year lists but isn't limited to matches that took place this calendar year. Obviously, right? I haven't watched much of anything from 2021. Let's take a look at the first part of this year's viewing. Tiger Mask vs Pete Roberts (09/10/82 NJPW) Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06/98 FMW) Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW) Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) Tetushiro Kuroda vs Masato Tanaka (06/19/98 FMW) Hisakatsu Oya vs Tetsuhiro Kuroda (12/12/98 FMW) Abdullah Kobayashi vs Daisuke Sekimoto (07/22/05 BJW) Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Rave & Shingo (FIP New Year's Classic 2007) Tyler Black vs Roderick Strong (FIP Heatstroke '07 Night 1) Honorable Mention Tag Matches - Gotta show some love to the tag matches that just missed the cut: Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Black Tiger & Pete Roberts (08/27/82 NJPW) Jado & Gedo vs Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (05/05/98 FMW) Hayabusa &Tanaka vs W*ing Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki (05/27/98 FMW) BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe (FIP Third Year Anniversary) ----- And let's see what the second half of 2021 had for us: Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (Dangerous Intentions 2008 FIP) Erick Stevens vs Go Shiozaki (Heatstroke 2008 FIP) AJ Styles vs Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (Aftershock Hopkins 2015 ROH) Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong (Fallout 2008 FIP) CM Punk vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003 ROH) Jun Kasai, Men's Teioh, Y. Miyamoto & Jaki Numazawa vs Abby Kobayashi, T. Sasaki, MASADA, Shadow WX (01/02/07 BJW) AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (Turning Point 11/09 TNA) Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (02/03/83 NJPW) Strong BJW vs Suwama & Takumi Soya (03/20/12 AJPW) Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (06/02/83 NJPW) Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/14/83 NJPW) Jay Lethal vs Kenny King (Global Wars Toronto 2018 ROH) -Honorable Mentions: Genichiro Tenryu vs Ashura Hara (04/12/86 AJPW) Sting vs Kurt Angle (Empty Arena Match Impact 2009 TNA) Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle (Turning Point 11/09 TNA) -Re-watch honorable mentions: These don't count towards my BMW but I give high recommendations. Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong (Battle of Los Angeles 2011 PWG) Classic match Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (Titannica 2010 PWG) Classic match Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid (04/21/83 NJPW) Classic match -Wrestler of the Year - Wrestler of the year is between Roderick Strong, Hayabusa, AJ Styles and Tiger Mask. AJ and Hayabusa had some really awesome battles the first half of the year. Styles just shined in everything I saw him in. Tiger and Roddy were ubiquitous in 2021 though. Strong was the ace of FIP and although I won't count his PWG matches but he killed it there. But you might have guessed, Tiger Mask is the wrestler of the year. Tiger Sayama had fantastic matches in a variety of styles and with a variety of opponents. Beyond that he was so damn innovative and had battles that looked & felt 10 and even 20 years ahead of their time. -Feud of the Year- Hayabusa/FMW vs Team No Respect had some really great encounters but fizzles out with the multi man matches. Erick Stevens vs the world in FIP was pretty damn compelling stuff and he had some of FIP's best singles bouts in the process. Homicide vs Corino was only a couple matches but was some of the most intense stuff of the year. Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask was the best feud though. But the match quality and intensity of each match really elevated it above all else. -Match of the Year - In all honesty, its tough for me to pick anything that rose above the rest. Everything listed was fantastic but I really had to go through my notes and blog posts to remind myself what was an all-time classic match. I think I'm going back to the first half of the year. Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW), Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW), and Daisuke Sekimoto vs Abdullah Kobayashi (07/22/05 BJW) are my single match picks. Sekimoto vs Abby Jr. is very stylistically similar to the FMW bouts. The best tag match is the Sekimoto & Okabayashi vs Suwama & T. Soya from All Japan 2012. But I really recommend Roddy & Jack Evans vs Jimmy Rave (RIP) & Shingo in FIP as well. All that said the best match watched of 2021 was Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) due to the historical depth and the "deep" selling by Gannosuke. The wrestlers ' past, the stakes, the story of the match itself. It is comparable to a Misawa vs Kawada classic while still being FMW. That's a perfect combination for me. And one that I didn't know existed. If I was actively following FMW in 1998 and saw this when I was 14, I would have been flipping out! -Closing Remarks - I'll be frank: Check out the 6 disc Tiger Mask DVD set. Check out some of the FIP DVDs before they are gone. I really feel like those are going to be lost to time just for the mere fact that other FIP reviews are so hard to find online. And I'm not seeing much variety of DVDs on eBay. The BJW matches are also nearly lost media in my view. They just haven't gotten the hype that AJ, NOAH & especially NJPW have gotten. All of the above are for sale at Highspots. Not shilling here but trying to get you pointed in the right direction if you're wondering. Of course, check out what you can online as well. My goal for the blog is to provide some kind of record of wrestling soon to be forgotten. Its imperfect and biased but hopefully it encourages people to look to the past, give something a chance or even a second look. Thanks so much for reading! I hope that I've given you some enjoyment as well as some inspiration. Keep exploring! Stay safe folks and see you in 2022
  15. Kaitlin Diemond vs Karen Q - sorry, I skipped it. Long show for me. Chuck Taylor vs Adam Page - From last night's main event, we get a really good opening match. Seriously, this felt like a regular ROH opener compared to the previous show in Buffalo. That's even with me skipping matches too. The Buffalo show was anemic up until the Silas vs Juice match. This was just as good as that and we really haven't gotten started! Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Tetsuya Naito/BUSHI - What is Naito doing this low on the card? Ian, Colt and Caprice (I thought I missed Colt when he left but man I'm just a fan of Ian & Cedric together) indicate that Cody won't be on the show due to injury so they had to shuffle the card a bit. I guess that's part of why we get Page vs Chuck and this tag match. This is surprisingly good. Its sleep walking Naito and Bushi vs Vinny &TK probably having one of their biggest matches. It was rough around the edges but damn they brought just about everything that they have. With that said, I'm going note how despite this being a Global Wars tour, there's been a pretty meager NJPW presence. I'm not counting Juice because he's stylistically American. Other than Kushida, the LIJ guys have not really done anything to blow my socks off. If I was a younger fan, it'd be cool just to see them but in my heart, I'd be disappointed. Kinda like Kenta vs Misawa in ROH in 2008. It was cool and historical but not the all time classic we wanted. Well here ROH isn't even giving us fans the opportunity for top shelf performances. You stick main eventers in the mid card or below the top couple matches then I'll have to ask "why bother bringing them over?" It draws I guess but it doesn't seem to be productive long term. But heck I'm talk about stuff 3years ago! Next match! Matt Taven vs Christopher Daniels - Good match with few surprises though. I'm not complaining because its doing its job & I like both guys. But its wrecked by more interference leading to the finish. Is this fucking WCW? Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs EVIL/SANADA - Best Bout so far. Mark and Jay just beat Sanada like its Japan. Sanada and EVIL get steamed and man we get a very very good match. Its what you want and kicks into high gear but damn! We get another cheap finish. Come on! Can't they get a clean finish booked? Heck don't do 2 in a row at least...I wouldn't have minded this one if they didn't do something cheap right before this one. Everything that came before was really good stuff though so I still liked this overall. Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon - I wish they would have given this at least 2-3 more minutes. It was over before it had a chance to get into high gear. Nonetheless, this technically was the best match this far. Flip hurt his leg and Gresham went after it in some very clever and punishing ways. Flip, to his credit, sold it quite well. I mean actually the best selling we've seen all tour sans Sabin vs Lethal last show. He hesitated on his movements, collapsed when he could have capitalized, and carried it through to the finish. Had this been a little longer, this would have been a great contest. Instead, they had to rush the finishing portion and wrap it up just too soon. ----- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs Super Smash Bros - ROH Tag Title Match - Yeah boy! This is what I'm talking! 12-13 minutes of straight bananas junior tag action. It was exactly what the show needed at just the right time. You could say that it was foolish to make this a title match since it telegraphs the outcome. But having the Smash Bros on here vs Kaz & Scorpio is all that matters. Great match, a blast! Trent Beretta vs Juice Robinson - This was supposed to be Trent vs Cody but the American Nightmare is injured. So they booked this instead. Seeing as both are NJ guys moreso than ROH, they fought this like a NJ match. Juice damn near died on a missed cannonball/rolling senton into and over the guardrail. You know the fans have changed because no one was chanting 'holy shit! Holy Shit!'. If there was a time to chant it, this was the time! From there they told the story of Juice hurting his back and Trent hurting his ribs. They weren't going to live and die on this story but it gave the middle of the bout substance. It was a means to explain why they were laboring to get to their feet and pull off their moves. I prefer this to plain old ' we're tired' or 'we're loopy'. The whole thing was excellent and really made me want to see more of Trent & Juice. They did exactly what the Global Wars tour is meant to do. Expose folks to new/different guys and make ROH seem like the place to watch. Near classic match, like ****1/4+ type stuff. Almost 20 minutes 'vintage' ROH action. The last three fights actually resemble Ring of Honor of old. ----- Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Young Bucks - Another great tag match. I think having this after the Smash Bros one may have hurt it some. I waited a day to watch this but felt it didn't rock my world like that one did. Also seeing a few Young Bucks shows the past week or two diminished the pizzazz if their spots. They are less spontaneous than they seem after you've seen them a few times but n close proximity.That's one of my biggest issues with them. That all said, this is an all over the place crazy sequence heavy match. I am a fan of Superkicks as they add a bit of ferocity to what sometimes appears to be a gymnastics or acrobatics routine. All 4 guys did an excellent job pulling that off though. I wish we got to see more Kushida on his own in the Global Wars tour. Since these matches have all been free for alls, I didn't feel like I got to see what he was all about. Nonetheless, he's a talent and if I were younger, this match would have been mind blowing along with the SCU/Smash match. Jay Lethal vs Kenny King - ROH World Title Match - I remember really digging Kenny King's push back in 2018. I would catch ROH TV here and there. His hunt for Lethal was engaging so I am psyched to see this match. Even more so after watching him develop in FIP this past viewing year. He is a talent so to now see him with a larger frame and a killer instinct, he seems ready to take it to champ Jay Lethal. Jay Lethal 2018-present has been one of the best at making everything he's in seem important. So although the Toronto fans may not have had the energy for this, it was a helluva title fight between two rivals. 20+ minutes of intense and exciting wrestling. I wouldn't say it is perfect but it is a fantastic main event and end to the Global Wars tour. A classic match to me. ----- This without a doubt is the best show of the tour and although the Global Wars title might not be accurate, it still was high quality modern wrestling. This show is packaged with the Lowell, Lewiston, and Buffalo shows. It runs for $10.00-2.50 (the lowest was a black Friday deal) but even if you spent the $10 it would be worth it. A word to the wise ROH's S&H is kinda high so plan on getting a couple things to offset the cost. But yeah, a fantastic show in Toronto and a smattering of very good to great stuff across the other 3 dvds...including the excellent Sabin vs Lethal match in Buffalo ...this is a no brainer. Thanks for reading! Hoping to take a rest for the next few days. Then I'll post my year end Best Match Watched list and any superlatives I want to mention. Stay safe folks
  16. I got the 4 disc set from ROH last year on a season sale and shoot might as well check it out. I always wanna watch stuff in chronological order but I got to give that up or I'll never watch everything. This set is $5 for 4 discs. This is disc one...just want to keep it simple. Eli Isom vs Flip Gordon - I skipped this...great start, right? I got too much to watch to spend time with this. Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs The Bouncers - The start of my show and this was the way to do it. Speed vs power and vets vs younger guys...yeah this was very enjoyable. Was it the best use of Kaz & Scorp? No but, it was fun. Jeff Cobb vs Cheeseburger - I can justify The Bouncers but I really can't justify Cheeseburger. Skipped...terrible use of Jeff Cobb here. Matt Taven/Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Dalton Castle/The Boys - ROH Six-Man Tag Title Match - This was a really fun comedy match with some very good moments of wrestling. If you're feeling a PWG 6 man this will do the trick. Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - I'm watching these like ROH TV shows where they squeeze 3 matches in an hour. This is my main event for the "episode." And wow! This was a very good match. I'm not a Cody fan but he works really well in tag matches since his weaknesses are well concealed. The Briscoes are the tops and were working on making this a great **** level bout. Page was definitely game for that. Christopher Daniels vs Juice Robinson - This was disappointing but it did confirm my practice of treating every 3 matches like a TV episode. This then was fine for a TV opener. On to the next match! Bully Ray/Silas Young vs Young Bucks- I can understand that people don't want to see Ray in ROH. But this is more TNA then ROH in 2018 and they can really use a guy who can draw some heat...even cheap heat. There's no real faces or heels in the company here. He and Silas actually feel like actual heels and they are in their with the biggest faces of the company (tweener faces I guess??). The biggest stars of the company at least. So they work a real simple face/heel match. Bubba...or Bully bumps for the Bucks, Silas is the athletic heel and the Jackson boys do their stuff. This was a great match. People will disagree but the heel stuff made the Bucks' moves mean something. Jay Lethal/Jonathan Gresham/Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Tetsuya Naito/EVIL/SANADA/BUSHI - Big names and the main event to this episode and DVD! And you know that it came through! It wasn't as good as the previous match but once it picked up it gave you all the action you wanted to see from the guys. I'm not seeing the NJ guys as much as I used to (fine by me) but this is a nice way for someone only seeing NJPW in ROH to get a taste. Like TNA doing their Global X matches, its a really good 15 minute action match that is fast and exciting without killing anyone. That being said, this didn't have a lot of personality from LIJ besides EVIL. Lethal's team was fun as heck though! This was a really good DVD. I'd totally say this by itself is worth the $5. There's no classic encounter and only one great **** match this was so easy and fun to watch. Thanks for reading!
  17. These two have lots of history, having a great feud in CZW prior to this, and that chemistry is on show here, even though this is a short TV match. That history between the two is hinted at here, or implied without ever being made explicit on commentary, but helps the atmosphere for the match given we are in the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia and many in the crowd probably knew it. This is a hard hitting sprint, and given their previous rivalry they go straight at it from the opening bell. Early on Hero strikes just the right balance in backing away from Kingston's onslaught but not being a full on cowardly heel. Both guys lay in their strikes and in their brawling on the floor. There's one great spot where Kingston is distracted by Sara Del Ray on the outside and Hero takes him out with a brutal looking baseball slide dropkick from his blindside. As we know now from his rise to prominence in AEW, Kingston is a really sympathetic seller, bringing real emotion into his matches (even a short TV match like this one) and that rallies the crowd to his side, when Hero's antics at this point often got him cheered despite being the heel. Unfortunately it ends in a rather lame DQ when Kingston wont break in the corner, but he does make up for it by hitting ref Todd Sinclair with a nasty snap punch which gets a pop from the ROH crowd who always used to get on poor old Todd's case. Even those this has a crappy ending, and is only 5/6 mins long, it's a really fun sprint where they pack a lot in. (***)
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