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  1. I'm trying to get the ball rolling again for exploring the early 2010's Puro. Let's take a look at 01/02/2012 AJPW!! (Broadcast 01/10/12) KENSO, Kaz Hayashi & Yasufumi Nakanoueno vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi - This was a very good opening match. The energy level was high. Kikuchi was a fun mystery partner that never out stayed his welcome. Kaz Hiyashi will always Shiryu from the glory days of M-Pro and he's still got it here. Akebono & Ryota Hama vs Yuji Okabayashi & Kazuki Hashimoto - You know what you are signing up for with this match. Says it was 8 minutes but it felt quicker. Hey, that's a compliment! Akebono just doesn't do much for me. Keiji Muto, Abdullah the Butcher & Kikutarou vs Masanobu Fuchi, Kikutaro & BLACK BUSHI - Skipped Masakatsu Funaki, Masayuki Kono & Minoru Tanaka vs Taiyo Kea, Shuji Kondo & Takumi Soya - This another really good 6 man match. Minoru was the bright point to me. Masakatsu turns the shooter skills on for the finish and it is sweet. At about 8 minutes, this was easy viewing. Seiya Sanada, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato vs Dark Ozz, Dark Cuervo & Kenny Omega - The Dark guys are fun but a little sloppy. Yamato was in for a good portion of the match and I got to remember how good he is. Everyone else is their normal selves and brought the goods. This was 15 minutes and ended just in time for this to leave me happy. It was almost like a FMW 6 man in that regard...it got close to going off the rails but never did. Suwama vs Daisuke Sekimoto - I think I've reviewed this earlier in the blog. This is one of the matches that inspired me to check out 2010's stuff. It was and hopefully is still up on Daily Motion. I've seen it 3-4 times and man is this still classic stuff to me! Right under 20 minutes, it eschews the "longer is better" mantra and keeps this compact yet tells a compelling story. That plus they beat the crap outta each other. I've seen more Sekimoto and SUWAMA since I first saw this and I can say it doesn't fall into any ruts or cliches. They tease or payoff and then move on rather than milk for time or over do it. It is the only singles match on the card and they really make that mean something. New Year Battle Royal - I watched this on fast forward until the last few guys. Its every guy on the show except SUWAMA and Sekimoto doing a battle royale. I don't like this after such a bad ass battle but, its tradition. Anyhow this is an easy breezy 2 hours of wrestling. IVP has it for a steal and the singles match is probably still on D.M. so if you're curious, what are you waiting for?
  2. Triple Crown Title Match: Suwama (c) vs. Taiyo Kea - AJPW Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 5 31/08/2008 I believe this is my first time watching Taiyo Kea in a singles match. I probably watched him randomly once or twice, I know I watched in him a tag but that was 2019 Kea. This is pretty much peak Kea it seems. Although, the match itself is critically panned, and my curiosity has gotten the best of me. Probably not the best way to watch someone at their craft for one of the first times. I think I’m fair though. However, the match..well lived up to its reputation. It was not very good for a plethora of reasons ranging from them never really getting out of the second gear until the last closing stretch (40 minutes into a 60 minute match btw) which, to me, was totally lacking in drama. There were hints of the two working each other’s legs but I found the struggle to be rather dry. Neither were great at submissions as far as I can tell. Although Suwama splashing himself onto the leg was pretty great. It was just too lackluster for far too long. They lost me before the finishing stretch which itself seemed to go on forever. I’m convinced they lost track of time and went “home” too early. This wasn’t awfully bad. Just boring. Early Suwama disappoints me once again. **
  3. I think we can all pretty much admit AJPW took a stylistic nosedive after the NOAH exodus. Sure Kawada, Tenryu, and Kojima occasionally had some great matches but, by in large, folks just didn't care to go out of their way to purchase this stuff. Therefore, the internet community didn't have much to go on as far as recommendations. My interest in AJPW post NOAH actually starts when some of the guys went back in 2013 I believe. Akiyama, Shiozaki, Kotaro Suzuki and others decided NOAH was a stagnant pond and head back (at least Akiyama and Kanemaru) to their true home. So, I watched a few matches from that period and saw a couple reviews and whatnot that it caught my interest to explore a little more. I was surprised to find that AJPW was actually pretty darn good...great at times! Mutoh eventually was fading from the scene in ring and stylistically. So, matches that featured athleticism and struggle were being championed over angles and sports entertainment style wrestling. So, I cherry picked a few DVDs from about 2011-2015. I'm a cheap skate so I only got single disc shows so, I'm probably missing out on some big time match ups BUT I was taking a risk. I figure it'd be better to trust my gut with the match-ups than, hope the 2 disc big shows would deliver. Anyhow, for whatever reason I jumped in during the Fall of 2011 and boy was I pleasantly surprised! Let's check out the matches! SUWAMA, Masakatsu Funaki & Takao Omori vs Seiya Sanada, Taiyo Kea & Manabu Soya (09/25/11 AJPW): This is exactly the exciting, hard hitting match that I hoped it would be. It never treads into parody of former AJPW or NOAH territory with unneeded strike battles or meaningless machismo. The characters play their part during the 20 minutes of action. Highly recommended, very good match. Koji Kanemoto vs KAI - Jr. Tournament Finals (09/25/11 AJPW): Holy crap! This was awesome They really beat the crap out of each other. KAI is a guy that I've seen a couple times and liked. I'd not yet say, "Hey gotta search out me some KAI footy!" but, he is one to watch. Koji worked on the leg here, setting up for his Ankle Hold. KAI did very well in selling the leg damage (even though he did do some flying moves). I felt he sold it enough within the narrative: He's young and he's going to work with the moves that got him to the finals. Koji was punk as fuck and the A+ worker that he can be- especially as the tough vet. The match featured loads of stiff strikes, variety and smarts. Both guys were battered by the end. It was a true contest for something important and a classic match in the Jr. tradition. I've never heard anyone mention this match so, I'm glad I got the DVD on this. Stong BJW & Takao Omori vs Manabu Soya, Sanada & Taiyo Kea (10/17): 17 minute match. Things weren't clicking 100% but, that made this bout feel more organic and "real." Strong BJW vs Soya/Sanada is the rivalry at the time and the focus was kept on that here. Kea vs Omori is a struggle that's been going on since the late 90's so, there was something at stake here as well. The action was good with many tags, irish whip moves, and strike exchanges. The finishing segment was fantastic and capped off a very good match. Jun Akiyama & Ricky Marvin vs SUWAMA & KAI (10/17): 19 minute match. I really dug the mind games Akiyama was playing on SUWAMA...not only effecting this match but setting the stage for their 10/23 Triple Crown fight. KAI and Marvin's interactions were rough around the edges and not in the way of the above match. I'll chalk this up to KAI (who I usually like) but, didn't really bring much to the match. He just kept things moving along. It was a very good match with nice action and told a good story. I just remember liking it a heck of a lot more on the first watch a year or two ago. SO, you might disagree with me here...heck If I watch it a 3rd time, I might disagree with myself! Jun Akiyama vs SUWAMA (10/23): Sorry, I don't have my notes handy for this match but, I remember that is was kinda disappointing. I was hoping for a classic but, recall it being just a very good match (like *** 3/4). I want to say the pacing was slow and probably went 5 minutes longer than it needed to. I'm pretty confident in that recollection. Kaz Hiyashi & KENSO vs Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): KENSO is another guy that I've come to watch for. He's kinda a heel and uses his belt to choke guys. I like this kind of guy in the 2010's. He's got some moves but, is much more of a character than a world class athlete. I'm kinda tired of guys that are young athletes but, rely upon a gimmick rather than their abilities. They work a parody gimmick but, have no idea how their work matches up to their character. So, they do a bunch moves that their character would/should not do. KENSO is a guy where he's got a charisma about him without being a cartoon character with a 100 moves. Anyways, this match was one long finishing run at 11 minutes. Very exciting rush match. Minoru & Koji are cocky jerks taunting KENSO until he has to smack the taste outta their mouths. At this run time, I highly recommend watching this. Its just very good stuff. Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs Seiya Sanada & KAI - RWTL (11/26/11 AJPW): Here's that KAI fella again! Omori & Soya have teamed up here as Wild Hearts. The thing is Sanada & Soya were tag partners just a few months ago. Not sure who wanted the split but, they square off right at the bell. Seiya goes for speed and shocks Soya. KAI's in there and they go for the double team. These two young guns look dynamic as all get out! Oh shit! They are fighting in the stands now. Old man Omori's out there choking Sanada with a child's parasol! Hahahaha! Back on inside the ring and KAI's trying Soya but, come on dude! Manabu is a freaking caveman...and not the Fred Flintstone type either. Omori gets in there and wisely slows things down with KAI. The K man eventually finds an opening to get Seiya, the fire plug, going. Omori's had enough and puts big Soy sauce in there. Hey, deadlift suplex a motherfucker, Soya! This is a real back and forth match. Omori's trying to Axe Guillotine Driver KAI off the top now. Great! erase his head from existence! Just tons of double team destruction but, surprisingly never goes into bonkers territory. Both teams were very impressive. This was a great match. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs SUWAMA & Takumi Soya (11/26/11 AJPW): Strong BJW have the tag belts but, this is a non title fight. It's a RWTL match-up. So here we go- Takumi smartly WRESTLES Okabayashi...fuck...do NOT get into a power battle with him. Daisuke wants SUWAMA. 'WAMA is a beast eating chops for lunch. Takumi gets back in (at some point) and wrestling smartly but, gets sucked into trading hits and early one his chest is a cherry tomato. BJW is stretching him out like a fat lady in a pair of stirrup pants. Quick tags and repeated hard slams only rub it in. Soya is in trouble. Slam, cover, 2 count, kickout, tag, repeat. SUWAMA's waiting... This match was built brilliantly and paid off in a perfect manner. It starts out being like a ***3/4 match then, a great match like a firm ****+ but, damn this just kept getting better and better. So, I'd call this a classic match. I can't give a number or anything like that but, whew! This did it for me! Awesome closer to an awesome night of wrestling. KENSO & Kaz Hiyashi vs KAI & Seiya Sanada (12/03): I wanted to mention that if you get the DVD of this show, it has a really nice recap segement of the highlights and finishes of many (all?) of the RWTL matches that have taken place up to this time. I know as wrestling dorks, we want to see the full matches BUT it is really nice and fun to see some of these things clipped down to the highlights. They make Akebono matches look watchable. Anyhow, I like everyone here but, wouldn't say I would stick around for an 18 minute match of theirs...but, I was wrong. They managed to keep everything fun and exciting. The action was very good and it really was time well spent. KENSO even busted open KAI's chest, giving meaning to the nomenclature- knife edge chops. Very good match Strong BJW vs Get Wild (Omori & Manabu Soya): This is my jam! BJW are tag champs and damn! do they look it here. Omori and Soya can only hope to slow down the juggernaut team. Of course, the AJ team finds a way but, you know Sekimoto and Okabayashi are not going down without a fight! If you're into Choshu/Hashimoto/WAR/Kensuke type stuff then, you must watch this 20 minute RWTL match. It is so simple from a move/sequence perspective yet, the physicality is remarkable. That's what really keeps you hooked and what moves the story along. Matches like this feel like a battle in the true sense of the term. There are ebbs and flows, bits of luck, acts of courage and desperation - This was a classic match to me. Some of these reviews appeared really early on in the blog but, I wanted to consolidate everything for convenience and reference sake. The first post or so was more than a year and a half ago and I know when I'm doing research on wrestling recommendations, it really helps to have everything right in one spot. Anyhow, I was damn impressed by the above matches. Three matches I would call classics (in that ****1/2 star range). Don't be mistaken there is some so-so matches that I had to sit through, some I had to skip but, I've spared you the write-ups on those. Manabu Soya is one guy that I think is slept on especially as a tag team wrestler. If you dig Strong BJW then, you need to see them go up against Soya and Omori. As winter approaches, I want to try and start on 2012 AJPW which I think I have much more of. So, that is a little project goal. We'll see though Fingers crossed! Thanks for reading!
  4. Kento Miyahara pretty much came off as the best wrestler in the world in this. His work over the arm & the taped up hand of Suwama was excellent + the way he portrayed his character was a thing of beauty; even though his historic title reign just recently ended by the hands of Shuji Ishikawa, he still is the most confident dude around, because he is the goddamn young ace of the company. His facial expressions tell the whole story; he acts like he has the match in the bag because he dominates Suwama w/ that arm work of his, but then Suwama ends up fighting through it w/ his high impact comebacks & gets the W. Great stuff, a brilliant Kento Miyahara show. ****
  5. Go Shiozaki vs Suwama - AJPW 9/15/14 Royal Road Tournament I really enjoyed Suwama in the two matches I watched for the Best of Japan in the 2000s and the trend continued here. Suwama understood Shiozaki's greatest asset to be his energy. He continually sapped that by effectively using the sleeper. This did not achieve the level of the famous sleepers match between Pegasus Kid and Black Tiger in 1996, but it was a perfect use of the sleeper. The sleeper/chinlock is best used to drain the energy of an explosive babyface and let a heel regain his wind. Too often it is misused and thus triggers people's attention to drift. Shiozaki is all about those chops, but Suwama is going to make sure there is nothing behind those chops after the sleeper. You see how Suwama modulates his selling. Suwama sells the chops at the beginning of the match, but after the sleeper he stands tall. Shiozaki did a great job selling the first sleeper as really knocking him out. He is great at peppering in the hope spots, but his selling leaves a lot to be desired. He just does not have enough emotion. As good as Shiozaki's chops look, Suwama's double chop is so sick and maybe my favorite move in wrestling now. Suwama was wrestling perfectly. He took his time and was cocky when it was time, but anytime Shizaki started to fire off, he would immediately snuff the fire out with a double chop or a powerslam. Go finally mounts a bit of a comeback and is looking for a macho pissing contest so Suwama says fuck that and grabs him by the hair and applies a sleeper. Suwama is my hero. Suwama obliterates Shiozaki with a lariat and then a belly to belly suplex. With the match firmly back in his hand, Suwama looks to polish him off with his powerbomb. Shiozaki escaps and looks for refuge on the apron. Suwama comes flying across the ring with a HUGE dropkick and follows up with a suicide dive. Suwama returns to the sleeper to set up the powerbomb, but Misawa-rana. Man copying Misawa AND Kobashi, now that is just not fair! Suwama immediately clamps on a sleeper. I love Suwama's urgency. Suwama tries to gain the pin three times. Go busts out the classic collapse on a rope run and he really exaggerates his chops not having much. This is some really good shit here. Suwama is all over him, but looks to get a running start and Go roars out of the corner with a lariat. Ruh roh! Shiozaki hits a big lariat to send Suwama tumbling out and HUGE plancha by Go! Shiozaki goes all in on the lariat. Suwama is not going down without a fight, but he is on jelly legs. Suwama is selling like a boss. The double chop crushing a roaring burning lariat attempt was awesome! Eventually, Go hits a big time lariat to set up the Go Flasher & Limit Break for the win. Suwama totally outclassed Shiozaki here carrying him to a great match and the second best AJPW match of the year. Suwama was wrestling at such a high level. He was using the sleeper to debilitate his opponent and set himself up for the powerbomb. He was cocky when it was time and snuffed out Go when appropriate. Go Shiozaki needs more emotion and his selling for the majority of the match left a lot to be desired. The finish run was typical late 2000s puroresu and was fine for what it was. Suwama is underrated and this is a great showcase for him. ****1/4
  6. OH HELL YEAH. This had me marking out all over the place - a goddamn WAR between two grumpy veterans in Akiyama & Suwama. Had a super wild feel to it w/ the chaotic brawling & the super nasty strikes - BRUTAL stuff. And while it was wild & chaotic, it wasn't completely just that, as both guys had gameplans too; destroy the neck of your opponent. My goodness. What a damned match; a wild ass war w/ some real strategy in it. ****1/2
  7. DAMN this was good. Suwama dominated most of it & he gave Yoshi an absolute mauling on the offense - but Yoshi busted out some absolutely awesome hope spots. Such a well told, very good underdog tale. ***3/4
  8. A very good match. Loved Marufuji showcasing those technical skills of his in the beginning & the Headlock stuff was lovely. I think by the end the match dragged a bit w/ those nearfalls & all, but it didn't hurt it too much, because it was still indeed a very good one. ***1/2
  9. Loved this. It did get a bit too generic w/ the 50/50 stuff towards the end, but everything before that was pretty damn great. Suwama's targeting of Zeus' knee was fantastic & Zeus' selling was absolutely awesome. They told the story of Suwama weakening that knee of Zeus to the point where after he had been working it for a while, he was "free" to just lariat the crap out of him & throw him around. Really good stuff. ***3/4
  10. Rematch from the RWTL. I thought this was slightly better, mainly because I actually cared this time around for the first half of the match. This is mostly 20 minutes of bomb throwing. There's not a lot of subtleties in it and the control section from the champs is really short - which is a good thing because I think Yoshi sucks as a FIP - so Kento can get in and pick up the pace. For what they were going for, this was good, wouldn't call it a MOTYC or anything like it but I was entertained throughout.
  11. This show aired on a two week delay, the same day the show took place (July 17th) bjw held their biggest show of the year in sumo hall. On that show Ishikawa showed up to do colour commentary for the second half of the show he had a huge amount of damage to his right eye that made the wait for this show and match even more agonising. The match as expected was super stiff and really heated. There was a split crowd as these two monsters clobbered each other for 19 1/2 minutes for our enjoyment. The work all the way through was snug and visceral. Finishing with the incredible sight of ishikawa doing a splash mountain powerbomb on suwama and the giant slam. This match also features a great moment where late on Suwama tried for a strike exchange but is easily beaten and does some great jelly legs selling. This match is another feather in the cap of Ishikawa as he continues to increase his claim on wrestler of the year. ****1/4 on a level with the Jake lee match but slightly below the kento match from three months ago.
  12. Some thoughts on this match: Larger arena and card than the Champ. Carnival matches from 2016. Very nice to see AJPW in a venue of this size. Its nice to have SUWAMA back as the roster is kinda sparce. On to the match: Great heelish tactics from SUWAMA. Strong focus on the sleeper hold and trying to damage Kento's neck. Fantastic strike exchanges and selling by both but, esp. Miyahara as the babyface champ. Glad to see zero flip bumps taken from a lariat. Miyahara finally looked like a world champ here and felt the torch has been passed in this match. Rather than "put the belt on the young handsome babyface." Traditional puro with little flash or gimmicks. An alternative to the current NJ style. This was a classic encounter especially for 2010s AJPW.
  13. I heard this was a horrible trainwreck so I was hyped beyond words for this. But actually it was just a really good match. What I loathed about Suwama is his tendency to venture into dumb as fuck modern puro nonsense, his matches vs. Sekimoto a few years ago were some of the most disappointing pimped matches I've ever watched, they'd have like 15 yes votes on the DVDVR voting threads but weren't any good at all, just two guys standing in the middle of the ring making dumb faces, exchangis weak chops with some bad looking long boston crab spots thrown in there. Kashin kind of negates all of that and brings actual psychology into the match. Before the match even starts he's acting like the awesome goofy heel he is, offering handshakes to the ref, stealing and breaking Suwama's banner and so on. The match builds logically, starting with lock-ups and basic spots before Kashin picks apart Suwama's ankle/heel/whatever that he injured in January. Suwama's comebacks/hope spots/control segments are him overpowing Kashin with strikes and slams. Simple, logical, effective, and Kashin sells it well. Kashin does this really cool selling of Suwama's Ankle Lock where he he convincingly teases tapping and then looses his laces so his shoe would fall off next time Suwama tries an Ankle Lock. Kashin incorporates that spot into the match smartly and desperately attacks Suwama with cradles after catching him off guard. Suwama, being the stronger and better wrestler, survies that, cuts him off and goes over with the dreaded Ankle Lock after really letting the evil Kashin feel the pain. I don't get it. What's bad about this? Psychologically and philosophically it's pretty much a shorter and less ambitious version of Kobashi-Ogawa. Are modern puro fans incapable of enjoying matches that aren't worked evenly with twenty minutes of stupid strike exchanges and no selling German Suplexes? It was refreshing to see this type of match worked in Japan in 2016 and it's stuff like this that keeps me going back to japanese wrestling and wrestling in general. ***-***1/4
  14. Let me tell you something, I don't care what anyone says, I don't care what the fans in the arena thought, this match ruled, the modern New Japan fans and all the weaklings that have been conditioned to have their wrestling clean can buzz off. Suwama and Fujita have REAL HEAT, and the match begins with a long staredown which feels like something out of those epic Hashimoto matches I rated seventy six stars, the crowd is perplexed that they would do this and of course turns on them but Suwama and Fujita proceed to have out of this world amazing interactions regardless, slapping the shit out of each other, brawling all over the place, legit busting each other open, it's amazing. Okabayashi and Sekimoto have their usual interactions, and I like two big dudes running into each other with shoulder blocks and exchanging a million chops as much as the other guy but the money is in what Suwama and Fujita do. For all the shit Fujita gets he had no problem getting his ass handed to him here as he suffered severeal visual defeats in the end. Sekimoto and Okabayashi are way more interesting when they're pushing people off the apron and fighting in a match with actual heat. Awesome WAR tribute match. Man do I regret not ranking Kazuyuki Fujita. ****1/4
  15. Grimmas


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