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Found 51 results

  1. Two generational rivals going against each other one more time. Shinsuke Nakaura, G1 Winner against Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ace Of A Century and IWGP Heavyweight Champion. It's a high stakes match and it plays out as such. From the entrances, it felt like this had way more weight to it than most of their other matches, even the ones in the Dome. A calm hesitancy early on, both looking for openings with Nakamura, occasionally, hitting a flurry of strikes, one of which caused Tanahashi to retaliate by going for the knee. But with Nakamura being more skilled on the mat, he fought and struggled, even getting a Fujiwara armbar locked in. Both wrestlers blurred the lines of whether they'd get a little heelish with Taanahashi playing dirty with the leg but Nakamura being a bit dickish with his strikes, so the fans were split all the way through. Chants of Nakamura and Tanahashi, even boos in some cases, were prevalent throughout the bout. I loved the way they put the cross armbreaker over a dangerous move. Tanahashi's utter desperation to stay out of it anyway he could was great. The struggle which lead to Tanahashi locking on the cloverleaf which then gave Nakamura the opening to lock it on before Tanahashi got to the ropes was just fantastic. Nakamura unable to follow up on the sudden Boma Ye finish, his bread and butter, just after Tanahashi had him in the cloverleaf was great selling, very consistent with his selling the entire match. The finishing stretch wasn't a total bombfest that you would expect from a New Japan main event. Instead it was a battle of Nakamura trying to find a clean connection with his Boma Ye and Tanahashi trying to weather the storm, and hit the High Fly Flow in return. Great match with yet another tremendous Nakamura performance with Tanahashi be awesome himself, albeit the lesser of the two in the match. ****1/2
  2. This match is famous because of the clip where Inoki gets in the ring and punches Nakamura. There was nothing exciting about the match itself; I mean this would've been fine as a midcard tag, but as a Dome main event...? There are some solid exchanges and a brutal soccer kick finish but that's it pretty much. Kashin adds nothing (shocker!) and the potential fun matchups don't deliver their potential. Nakamura was pretty mediocre here so I guess he deserved to get punched. He was working like a US indy guy in the opening portions and that's a real disgrace. He also put up very little fight against Fujita during the finish. There is a little bit of Fujita and Nakanishi crowbarring eachother, and Nakanishi manhandling Kashin, but not enough really. Worst of all is they never really engaged the crowd.
  3. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi - Wrestle Kingdom 9 Shinsuke Nakamura's entrance was Five Fucking Stars! Wow! Hearing Jim Ross' voice out of nowhere was wicked jarring. I forgot he and Striker did this match. It was weird they felt like they were reviewing the match as smart marks rather than as announcers. It was not too distracting, but there were times were both were grating. I may be in the minority, but I prefer Japanese commentary in Japanese matches. There is a certain rhythm the Japanese commentators have with the wrestlers that just works so well. The story of the match is one that I always dig and that is the young, pretty boy trying to prove he can hang with the grizzled vet. Ibushi did a great job varying his attack between fighting fire with fire and working his own game. Ibushi proved here he could hang with the hardest hitter in New Japan as he gave as good as he got with some blistering strikes. Those chops and kicks from him had me ooooohhhh and aaaaahhing as much as those ones from the King of Strong Style. At the same time, he knew if he wanted to win the match he was going to have to rely on what brought him to the dance namely his high flying arsenal, which wowed as much as it did damage. The extra element I really appreciated from Ibushi was his ability to combat Nakamura in gamesmanship. By mocking Nakamura's eccentricities, it added an extra level of chippiness and personal hate that took a great match and made it a classic. Nakamura is a license to print money. He is so over with the Japanese audience. He is a far cry from the apathetic wrestler of the late 2000s. He actually has been able to channel that apathy into a cockiness that people including myself really enjoy. As much fun as he is, he knows when to get down to business. I think he played the grizzled veteran perfectly in this match. When Ibushi mocked his jerky leg in the corner, he made him pay with an onslaught of knees. Nakamura was a great counter wrestler in the 2000s and here it is on full display against the speedy Ibushi using a ground to air missile dropkick to drop Ibushi out of the sky. I thought the beginning of the match did have its flat moments mostly resulting from a lack of struggle. Nakamura ran through his badass knee strikes and then Ibushi used a hurricanarana to keep Nakamura off balance, but that came right after he took a backstabber. The selling and flow just was not always there. The offense was top notch, but there was a bit of let me be ragdoll for you and then you will be a ragdoll for me. The last 5-8 minutes was absolutely world class professional wrestling. When Ibushi missed the Phoenix Splash, Nakamura nailed the Boma Ye knee to the back of the head, but he collapsed to the mat. At this point of the match, I thought the drama in the match went through the roof and never came back down. I love the spot of Ibushi going for the high risk home run, crashing & burning and Nakamura immediately capitalizing with his home run shot. It was a perfect way to level the playing field. Nakamura just started to whip some serious ass and when Ibushi started to fire up you could feel him becoming a man before your eyes. Their strike exchanges were not the boring stand there and let me hit you. They were fighting through each other's stuff. I don't love simultaneous punches, but holy shit did they pull it off perfectly! Really the best use of that spot ever. Also, this match featured a really great use of the rare closed fist. Ibushi was tired of Nakamura's shit and he started to wailing on him. Nakamura shoved the ref into Ibushi, which allowed him to deck Ibushi with a straight right. What a dick and what a great spot. I love Japanese punches because they look like match enders and are treated as such! Ibushi's flying double stomp to a running Nakamura was insane. Then in the climax of the match Ibushi mocks Nakamura's mannerisms in the corner before nailing the Boma Ye knee and Nakamura kicked out. It was just so perfect. You know that Ibushi has the confidence and he can hang with Nakamura, but he just is not there yet. They over reach on a neat in your head, but not in practice move with Ibushi trying to German Suplex Nakamura over the top rope while standing on the top rope. That was Ibushi's big false finish, before Nakamura roared back with a pair of Boma Ye Knees. Absolutely fantastic finish run. Nakamura looked like the best wrestler in the world with his offense and mannerisms. Ibushi proved that he was not just a high flyer and that he could hang in a stand up contest and he had the balls to mock the biggest star in the company. I was not in love with the beginning of the match and I think there have been better matches in 2015, but this was great. ****1/4
  4. G. Badger

    NJPW vs CHAOS 2010 tags

    So, this little project came about by searching for Tanaka vs Makabe matches on YouTube. How I got to that is a bit of a mystery. If I had to guess, I'd say it was out of curiosity alone. I don't think I found a singles encounter on the 'tube. However, there was a crap ton of tags available. Investigation revealed that a whole chunk of house show matches from the Fall of 2010 were recorded and uploaded by NJPW. These matches show some of the early battles between NJ main roster & CHAOS. CHAOS is or perhaps was one of the most popular stables but, it is a splinter group from Togi Makabe (Tenzan was originally leader) Great Bash Heel (Great Big Head, Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH) group. Nakamura staged a coup (he was an outsider who agitated the GBH members) and ousted Makabe (Honma sided with Makabe). So here we see an alliance of Makabe with Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto to combat Nakamura and his group of badasses. This begins about right after when Togi Makabe wins the IWGP Heavyweight title in May 2010. This series of matches reminds me of 1996 Michinoku Pro or 1990 AJPW tag matches. We have roughly the same parties for each encounter but, its exciting and interesting every time. Or at least to me I'll list full names as they first appear but, will use last names after that. Let's do the wrestling!!! Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito & Yujiro Takahashi (05/08/10): 10 man fight, alrighty then! This could be a mess but, everyone really clicks and no interactions overstay their welcome. Inoue really shines in this match. That maybe surprising since he's been off most fans radars since day one but, he brings it here. He's the Kikuchi on the NJ squad. A very excellent start where we learn that anyone can lose and anything can end it. Again, very M-Pro like or lucha like. Highly recommended Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto vs Nakamura, Tanaka & Ishii (09/04/10): Seemingly an upgrade but, a hair below the previous match in quality. It should be checked out nonetheless. Goto & Nakamura get into a mat scramble that leads to them fighting after a tag. The ref has to break them up and Shinsuke spits at Goto's feet. Very nasty stuff. Also, Takahashi and Nakamura's work together was subtle but very good. It reminded me of Misawa and Kawada in their 6 man matches. The work was organic to the point where it was understood that this was only one battle in a much larger war. So, Nakamura really excelled here but, Makabe the champ did as well. When he came in like a fucking berserker at the end, I was loving it! He sure as hell looked like the World Champ to me. 14 minutes of great wrestling. Tanahashi & Makabe vs Tanaka & Satoshi Kojima (09/10/10): Not sure if Kojima is CHAOS affiliated here. There was some good action but, Kojima & Tanaka's bland knee focused offense hurt this match. Generally, predestrian match. There are a couple other Kojima matches that I avoided because of this one. Too bad because I do like Kojima but, I feel like he may have lost "it" by this point. Nakamura, Naito & Takahashi vs Tanahashi, Makabe & Goto (09/19/10): Naito was first introduced to me as part of No Limit with Takahashi on TNA when they were fighting Motorcity Machine Guns for the IWGP Jr. belts. That was cool that TNA was having Japanese talent on TV. That's how I first saw Tanahashi too. Anyhow, Jr. team are with Shinsuke tonight to take on the NJ A-Team. Tana works the crowd up from the start. I get the feeling that this is a smaller, less hardcore crowd as they're all very pro Tanahashi. He starts of with some nice wrestling with Naito but, we soon get Goto & Naka which leads to a slow Tanahashi babyface in danger segment. Now, the ACE is pretty darn good in peril but, this felt a bit more lethargic then the previous encounters. Again, I chalk it up to the venue/event/crowd size. Goto & Nakamura get back into it and that leads to the hot stretch to a finish portion. It's a recommended match as it stokes the feud's fire but, it's a little formulaic. Hey, the 90-92 Misawa/Jumbo 6 mans went there a few times too (Not that this is on THAT level) ;P Tanaka & Ishii vs Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (11/03/10): Wished we got some stuff from October but, maybe that was the Kojima stuff I skipped. Anyhow, this is from the G1 Tag League. There are some expected long strike exchanges that hurt the flow of the match but, this was a nice battle nonetheless. The real standout was Tanaka. He nearly beats the GBH remenants on his own and goes straight psycho-killer on the Unchained Gorilla Makabe on the floor. I'd highly recommend this match to Dangan fans for sure! Ok so now we get a little Jr. participation. I want to go in depth on this series at another date but, here is a little taste as it fits into the timeline very well. Inoue, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs Nakamura, Naito & Davey Richards (11/19/10): Yup, Davey was in NJ for a year or two. I totally forgot about it but, thought it was a great move for him at the time. He really should have focused more on a career in Japan. That being said, this had good reason to be a train wreck as I'm wasn't confident in Davey's ability to work with the NJ natives. Sure, he had NOAH experience but, he usually was on a gaijin team. I was expecting some bungling but, nope! This was some fast paced magic. Davey was great yelling shit in English too Taguchi though...damn. 13 minutes of action. Naito, Takahashi & Richards vs Tanahashi, Taguchi & Devitt (11/27/10): Naito taking Tanahashi to the canvas and grappling is something to always I'll enjoy. Frankly, if Tanahashi scrapped the leg focus stuff and was a matworker like Osamu Nishimura yet threw in his highspots, I'd probably be a giant fan of his. That being said, his performance in this series has made me a bit of a convert. Also my Ryusuke Taguchi appreciation continues to grow. Um, I don't have too many notes on the action as I really dug this one. Davey is in there more often than the previous encounter and it works well. He and Apollo 55 go at it. Tanahashi finally goes Super Saiyan and unloads. It really means something though as he has not needed to do so until now. There really is something to NOT doing big moves all of the time. I think the ACE is as guilty as anyone from what I've seen but, in this series (and because these are mainly house shows) he has showed the restraint and discernment of a true veteran. Great match Tanahashi, Makabe & Manabu Nakanishi vs Tanaka, Yano & Nakamura (12/02/10): Maybe it was Yano being back in the mix but, this was another really good 6 man. Nakanishi played his caveman part well and added a nice dynamic at this point in the series. Admittedly, these are running together especially, as Makabe and Tanaka aren't changing their routine up too much. But, it's all good. This feud is giving me a WAR vs NJ vibe. Sweet finish, highly recommended match. Nakamura, Tanaka, Takahashi & Naito vs Tanahashi, Makabe, Nagata & Inoue (12/04/10): This venue looks like the classic Michinoku Pro gym from the 90's. It's not but, I think I'm wanting to be. This feud/program has been just so much fun. This one starts with Tana vs Tranquilo-to-be on the mat but quickly has all 8 men fighting. Wataru taking on Nakamura- hells yes, dude! Obviously, it doesn't work out in the end and CHAOS isolate and destroy. When, Togi Makabe gets that tag, watch out! The man cleans house. He lariats the shit out of Tanaka but, payback is a bitch. Tana's still killing it and when Yuji Nagata comes in like a MF-ing veteran- holy shit! Insane stretch run and fantastic finish. Great, great match. Makabe & Honma vs Nakamura & Tanaka (12/05/10):I love the single floor camera that most of these matches feature. It is great for this type of stuff as you can hear how hard the blows are & you're ringside and even in the middle of the action. You wouldn't belive these are house shows based off how hard they are going at it. Dangan and the Gorilla do their routine but, again it fucking works. Its so intense and you never can tell if there's gonna be a twist. Their brawling outside and after the bell is just pure pro wrestling. And damn 2010 Nakamura is the optimal version to me. I like the Beat It tribute act but, there's something about the straight forward confidence of this character. Another great match. In conclusion, these small show mathces put things back into perspective. Most fans especially overseas only really get the opportunity or make the time to watch the BIG shows and BIG matches. Myself included. We compare Big Show A to Big Show B (not Paul Wight). But, damn, it's these gems in between that are where it's at to me. There's no excessive finishers or kickouts or resthold masking as psychology. There's only enough time to get your simple but, engaging story across. Its 15-20 minutes of a struggle, of "fighting." This batch of matches felt like Choshu-Tenryu style for the 21st century. Who knows if they're still doing this or if this really was just the rare product of having so much talent peaking in the ring. This has been probably my longest blog entry so, if you've made it this far. I want to mention where my next little exploration into NJ from nearly a decade ago is going. I think the start of the resurgence in interest in NJ was with the influx of gaijin Jrs. like Devitt, Omega, Shelley/Sabin, Romero & Koslov and others (Davey & Low-Ki for example). Their pairing with talent like Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, bringing in Kota Ibushi (along with Omega), Marufuji and eventually KUSHIDA helped brings eyes back to New Japan in the early 2010's. NOAH was a shell of itself after Misawa died and AJPW had lost it's interest after Muto changed it (although early 2010 AJ is another shiny bit of seaglass on the beach that I am investigating). So, it was only natural that someone had to fill the void. I'd like to check this period out a bit more. There were certainly people in the know back then but, I think 8 years later and with giant interest in NJ, it's important to look back.
  5. The Fire Pro World and NJPW partnership has got me really psyched up. The glut of posts I've made on the forum is evidence of that Its all good though because I thought Fire Pro was done after Fire Pro Returns. Its funny because its a little bit of history repeating as I bought a PS2 back in 2007 specifically for FPR and I'll be buying a PS4 for the sole purpose of playing FPW. Admittedly, Fire Pro Returns was a bigger deal as the game never had a US release and I could only mod my PS1 so much and could only admire the awesomeness of Fire Pro D from afar. I would say Fire Pro Returns is a big reason that I became a fanatic for Puroresu. I printed name guides and move lists for all of the wrestlers and studied them against my old VHS tapes and incoming DVDs (plus WCW vs the World PS1). So with this release for the PS4, Fire Pro has got to up the ante. The NJPW partnership is the first chip and new moves, expanded Create-a-Wrestler, and story mode have sweetened the pot for me. However, 08/28 is a little bit away so, I've got to keep the fires stoked somehow. What better way than by combing through free NJ matches on YouTube? What's great (in a way) is the relatively recent stuff from NJ's boom period is at a premium and most likely available on the NJPW World streaming service. The YouTube stuff is perhaps the stuff "no one" cares about anymore . And by "no one", I mean mainstream wrestling fans...people who perhaps have the streaming service and know Okada, Bullet Club etc. but have no clue who Inoki, Hashimoto, or Fujinami are. I'm rambling...onto the matches. The Fire Pro World and NJPW partnership has got me really psyched up. The glut of posts I've made on the forum is evidence of that Its all good though because I thought Fire Pro was done after Fire Pro Returns. Its funny because its a little bit of history repeating as I bought a PS2 back in 2007 specifically for FPR and I'll be buying a PS4 for the sole purpose of playing FPW. Admittedly, Fire Pro Returns was a bigger deal as the game never had a US release and I could only mod my PS1 so much and could only admire the awesomeness of Fire Pro D from afar. I would say Fire Pro Returns is a big reason that I became a fanatic for Puroresu. I printed name guides and move lists for all of the wrestlers and studied them against my old VHS tapes and incoming DVDs (plus WCW vs the World PS1). So with this release for the PS4, Fire Pro has got to up the ante. The NJPW partnership is the first chip and new moves, expanded Create-a-Wrestler, and story mode have sweetened the pot for me. However, 08/28 is a little bit away so, I've got to keep the fires stoked somehow. What better way than by combing through free NJ matches on YouTube? What's great (in a way) is the relatively recent stuff from NJ's boom period is at a premium and most likely available on the NJPW World streaming service. The YouTube stuff is perhaps the stuff "no one" cares about anymore . And by "no one", I mean mainstream wrestling fans...people who perhaps have the streaming service and know Okada, Bullet Club etc. but have no clue who Inoki, Hashimoto, or Fujinami are. I'm rambling...onto the matches! Ok this first one is 2009 but, close enough... Shinsuke Nakamura vs Hirooki Goto (08/07/09): G1 match. People didn't really care about the G1 until a couple years ago when Dr.Dave and others started rating these highly. AJ vs Minoru Suzuki, I think is the big one. Otherwise, there were probably only like a handful of G1 matches that got uber pimped. Nonetheless, the tournament always produced a few great battles. This has got to be one for '09. Smart, violent Nakamura vs Tank like Goto in 16 minutes of vicious strikes, suplexes, and slams. There was a miscommunication early or in the middle, I believe but, it was quickly forgotten. As much as I like the psycho Beat It Nakamura, this iteration is best because he's not so predictable. For instance, there is an awesome ground work sequence at the end that had me saying, "Damn I need more of this in my NJ!" Go see this and you'll want Nak' back in NJ immediately. Ryusuke Taguchi vs Kota Ibushi (06/10/11): 18 minutes of perfectly executed action. Ibushi was flashy here with a cartwheel move but, I'm OK with the rest of his offence. He made it look natural. However, the real talent of the match was Taguchi. He employed a strong abdomen focused attack on Ibushi from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Ibushi doesn't go very deep in selling this psychology. He lets you know how tired and hurt overall but, doesn't so much as clutch his ribs or chest to convey the strategy of Taguchi...Doing this may have put this into classic Jr. canon contention. Alas, we just get an excellent fireworks match. Or an excellent Fire Pro World match Still, no one really recalls how Devitt & Taguchi were hot shit back then. Their matches with Golden Lovers & Motor City Machine Guns were what got people excited about NJ. Then, the Tanahashi stuff started up. Anyway, great match here. Probably will dig back into the early 2010 NJ Jr. Tag scene next post. Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto (05/20/12): I'll be honest. The IC and Never contenders are the real heavyweights in NJ. The IWGP heavy stuff (especially Tanahashi & Okada) is like WWE Japan at times. There are exceptions for sure as I really dug Omega vs Okada at WK12 and Naito is the man. I just think the Nakamura-Ishii-Goto combo was the bees knees for a few years. You can throw Makabe, Nagata, and a couple others in there and you've got a winner in my book. I say this because people no longer associate NJ with this beat guys into a pulp style but, before the Jr. Elevation Explosion, it was Kensuke, Hashimoto, Choshu, Kojima, Tenzan, Nagata and others doing straight forward physical matches. Goto and Ishii carry on that tradition. No surprise as Goto is the pupil of Tenzan and Ishii is Choshu's. Put simply, there are strike battles and no-sells that are the hallmark of the period but, they can be overlooked when it cannot be determined if Ishii is bleeding from giving or receiving a straight headbutt. Moderation is the key to this style but probably no more than the spot and sequence heavy style in vogue. Highly recommended match. Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinsuke Nakamura (01/04/13 WK 7): I'll guess that I personally would like this better than the Okada vs Tanahashi main event of this super show of super shows. I'm ragging on NJ a lot for allegedly wanting to buy their game so bad This bout starts polite until Nak' slaps Saku. Then, it gets blown open like old corduroy pants! The Gracie Killer unloads with palm strikes and aggressive grappling. Shinsuke is just trying to stay alive until he can deliver his patented knees and make some space to breathe. This fight is Strong Style Evolved in the true sense. Slaps, knees, armbars all while Nakamura is able to insert his character and Saku is able to smash Nakamura's head like an egg! Awesome stuff man. Part 2 featuring tag matches and multi-man matches should be up soon. Tenryu in 2004 anyone? Thanks for reading! Hope this pumped you up for watching NJ and playing Fire Pro!
  6. Part 2 to my Fire Pro World prepubescent-like obsessive compulsive hype up. This entry was going to have a couple more matches but, I ended up going down a NJ rabbit hole. So, my next post will cover that, hint its CHAOS vs NJPW house shows in 2010. In the meantime, we've got a couple Fire Pro Returns dream matches that I never knew happened. I mean, for real, these are some FPR match maker multi-man battles. And a couple single bouts as I'm a Nagata & Tanaka fan. Genichiro Tenryu, Minoru Suzuki & Kensuke Sasaki vs Masahiro Chono, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin Thunder Liger (11/21/04): Yeah, I felt like writing Liger's full name out. Why not? It makes the match seem older and grander, doesn't it? Well, maybe Akira Hokuto's presence makes it more grand. Its not like it needs it. You've got the legend freelance team from hell here. If this was an 8 man match, they'd get Takayama, I bet. Onto the review! This is just that heated puroresu you don't see very often anymore. This felt like Tenryu had been carrying the WAR vs NJ feud in his lumpy Grinch heart all of this time. He & Chono made their time count while allowing the (somewhat) younger members to take the brunt of the beatings. Smart veterans! Speaking of beatings, Sasaki and Nakanishi's chop & lariat battle was badass. Nakanishi doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He is a helluva clean-up hitter in these type of bouts. Also, Suzuki was his charismatically crazy self. So, you know you gotta see this for that psycho bastard in his prime. This was a great match for sure. I know I'm leaving stuff out but, you're going to want to see it for yourself! Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Kazayuki Fujita & Kendo Kashin vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Osamu Nishimura (05/19/05): Random ass Fire Pro Battle for sure...toped by the fact that Nagata's team comes out wearing Super Strong Machine masks. This combination and style is so weird based on what I have been watching during this year's G1. But to that point, remember emoting in wrestling? Fuck yeah, me too! Let's take a trip back in time and witness some! Perhaps it is nostalgia permeating my brain but, Fujita was an awesome beast of a human being that should have been champ for life There is a simple joy watching him destroy Nakamura who many people think of as King of Strong Style. Yuji Nagata too should wear that crown before Nak' (and I like the dude)! Case in point for the Blue Warrior-watch the part where Tanahashi stiffly slaps & elbows him. The man just absorbs punishment and re-channels it unto his opponent (Wasn't that Bishop's power from X-Men?). Anyhow, I'm going through my notes, and I'm gushing about everything (except Tenzan-no gripes either). So, here's another great match that time may have forgotten if NJPW archivists didn't post this on YouTube. If you're a fan from the 2000's, maybe you don't watch a ton of wrestling, do yourself a favor & watch this match. Or the one above...or walk on the wild side and watch both! Yuji Nagata vs Togi Makabe (03/21/07) NJ Cup. This started off decently but, Makabe and his pal Honma started cheating-hardcore. Now, I'll say I really was sick of cheating heels in 2007 since TNA at the time was swimming in that bullshit. Oftentimes, its a cover up for a lack of athleticism, narrative direction, or talent. A cop out But, damn! It worked here. Nagata's getting choked with the chain, bleeding and man, he's gotta make the comeback! Enough bull Makabe, kill him or pin him! Sure enough, Mr. Blue Justice gets his opportunity and blazes King Kong Makabe with hard kicks. Eventually, he sinks in the step over arm breaker. Blood dripping down his face, eyes rolled back like The Deadman ©®™ and I'm hooked!! A great moment for fellow Nagata fans and a great match. Maybe newer fans won't appreciate the lack of arm hooking spin around moves but, this was pretty sweet to me. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka (08/15/09) G1 Climax match. I've come to appreciate Tanahashi in multi man tags but, this restores some faith that he's a fantastic singles wrestler. I say that because they fucking obliterated each other. On top of that, more heel interference that means something, believable false finishes, and Tana leg work from underneath that provides transition rather than weigh the fight down. Classic G1 match? Classic match all around to me. 22 minutes doesn't hurt either There's more for next time...
  7. This was just as good, if not a little better, than their G1 match from few months before. Loved the grappling in the early stages - that set the pace for rest of the match. Speaking of pace, I really enjoyed the pacing of this one; I thought it did a great job building the match to the finishing stretch, which was really good & had a nice feel of urgency to it. Great match. ****
  8. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2wtkvd_6-shinsuke-nakamura-vs-toshiaki-kawada_sport The mat-work here is fantastic. It shows a struggle, but it's accessible enough that someone who isn't a fan of shoot style would still enjoy themselves. Kawada is a lot more reserved than he usually is, but all that changes when Nakamura refuses to break an armbar when Kawada gets to the ropes. After this, Kawada finally starts bringing the hate and both guys take some stiff shots and suplexes. Even as Kawada was ending the near of his career, he was still one of the best at selling. His facial expressions were on point. It's a shame the no-selling headdrop spots come off as a tad silly, but you're still getting Nakamura vs Kawada, so you can't really complain, can you? ★★★★
  9. Nakamura & Shibata have quite the intense history with each other, and it showed here. They beat the crap out of each other w/ their strikes & wore each other down with their submissions. It's a great time from start to finish. ****
  10. Looking at the participants, I am not surprised to say that this match, did in fact RULE. Great stuff from start to finish - loved the beginning w/ Ishii & Shibata going at it - you could see they got SOMETHING in there with their chemistry. Nakamura & Shibata brawling outside the ring was fun, Nakamura & Sakuraba did some neat work on the mat, but goddamn, my favorite thing about the whole match was the exchanges between one Stone Pitbull & the one Gracie Hunter himself. Judging by what we got here, I think a singles meeting between them could've & most likely would've rocked my world - Sakuraba beating the crap out of Ishii, as Ishii sold that beautifully, was amazing, as was Ishii just bulldozing through Sakuraba w/ his amazing offense. Great match. ****
  11. My pick for the best match on the show. Thought it was excellent - loved the way it built with Jinder working the heat on Shinsuke in awesome fashion, Shinsuke's comebacks were hot & that finishing stretch was fantastic. ****
  12. This was just an outstanding match. Superb interactions between all involved - highlights were definitely the Nakamura vs. KENTA stuff, they showcased intense, hard hitting, great chemistry in this one. It's a shame that this excellent, classic tag match was never followed with a big singles match between the 2. ****1/2
  13. This was pretty great. Started off with them trying to outswag each other, loved the mind games w/ the taunt stealing. Then TJP started targeting that knee of Shinsuke's - that's when things got REAL good. Loved TJP's work over the knee, and Shinsuke did a really good job selling it while showing that it isn't injured anymore - they clearly wanted to establish that he is now back with a good knee & all. Really good match. ***3/4
  14. It is very fitting that in his last NXT match quite possibly ever, Finn Bálor put on the best performance of his career. His work was really damn great in this, I loved all of his work on top, his mannerisms & the leg work was awesome. Shinsuke was Shinsuke, he was pretty awesome, I only wish that he had sold the leg work a bit better, but then again the spotty selling was expected because it was Shinskay. It didn't really bother me THAT MUCH though, as I still loved the match & because his selling with his facial expressions is always great + his initial selling is really great too, but it's just that he forgets about the work done on his leg to do his usual leg/knee based offense. And because of that, I really can't call this match 'great' - had Nakamura been better with his long-term selling it could've been great. It was still very, very, very good though. ***3/4
  15. RECOMMENDATION: READ THIS VIA MOBILE APP OR MOBILE SITE DUE TO NUMEROUS LINKED YOUTUBE VIDEOS. The Road to WrestleMania XXX: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33558-the-road-to-wrestlemania-xxx-the-good-shit/ The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33559-the-road-to-wrestlemania-31-the-good-shit/ The Road to Takeover: Dallas & WrestleMania 32: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33560-the-road-to-takeover-dallas-wrestlemania-32-the-good-shit/ NXT Takeover: Dallas – April 1, 2016 Live from Dallas, TX NXT Tag Titles Match The Revival vs. American Alpha The excellent, obvious choice for the opener since a title change was very apparent. Rather than modify their game plan, the champs intensified their underhanded tactics in an attempt to overcome the mat wrestling and suplex arsenal of the challengers. That ultimately proved to be the end of their title reign. Whether it was mind games, attempts to cut the ring in half, manipulating the ref with false illegal tag attempts to get a cheap shot, the champs were never able to get a lengthy, momentous advantage on either Chad Gable or Jason Jordan. While the ring was cut in half at times, it was never for very long. In particular, Gable drilling Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder simultaneously with DDTs told the story of the match; no matter what, the Revival couldn’t crush the focus and heart of American Alpha. Not with slaps to the face. Not by cutting off a hot tag by climbing under the ring. Not even bailing each other out from certain punishment. This night belonged to many names, and among them were American Alpha. They were not to be denied. The best part was the finishing stretch as Dawson and Gable exchanged near-falls that got the crowd rocking. At this point the match beautifully had the Dallas crowd guessing, even with the booking and match placement making the end result crystal-clear. Once the near-falls got out of the way, the challengers double-teamed Dawson, leaving him prone to the Grand Amplitude and title change, with Wilder being a non-factor as Jordan cut him off. A tremendous opener as expected. **** KOTA FUCKING IBUSHI, one half of the reigning Wrestling Observer Newsletter Match of the Year Award, is sitting at ringside. Per Corey Graves on commentary, there will be a “global cruiserweight tournament” coming as well. OH FUCK YES~! The WWE Debut Match of Austin Aries Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries Not the most ideal debut for Aries as this got quite tedious when Corbin was in control, although I could still appreciate the story being attempted. Simply put, the storyline of the match was that Aries did his homework, while Corbin didn’t. It was absolutely foolish for the former NFL player not to hit the film room and respect that Aries had been successful against much larger men throughout his career. There’s of course one of his career-defining moments in dethroning peak Samoa Joe at ROH’s Final Battle 2004, but also his participation in Generation Next thwarting off the monstrous Abyss and the rest of the Embassy, humbling Bubba Dudley in TNA, and taking Takeshi Morishima to the limit. This cockiness and disrespect was all the advantage Aries needed to embarrass Corbin. That wasn’t the only thing that hurt Corbin in his failure to study Aries. While he got an advantage in targeting the right shoulder of Aries, it still allowed the southpaw Aries to make a successful comeback with his left hand. Knowing something as simple as which dominant hand Aries possesses could’ve helped Corbin’s youth and size become too overwhelming for the mileage and experience of Aries, who perfectly scouted an End of Days attempt to get a roll-up victory. Roman Reigns would never get this embarrassed, as his frequent counters of big moves prove that unlike his fellow former gridiron colleague, he actually hits the film room. Stepping away from the actual fictional storyline, it was another brilliant piece of booking for Aries to win his LONG, LONG, LONG overdue debut. Dream Match and Shinsuke Nakamura’s WWE Debut Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Prior to April 1, 2016, I had seen one match involving Nakamura, and it was before his breakout persona that ultimately led to his Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame induction as well as his departure from NJPW to WWE. It was an absolutely FANTASTIC ****1/2 level tag match on March 1, 2009 in NOAH, with Nakamura & Milano Collection AT being total cunts in a brutal collision against Go Shiozaki & Takashi Sugiura. While I am absolutely aware of his legendary status and current star power, I know damn well just from that one match during his “so-so” period as a personality that he is an elite performer. Without question, Nakamura has already stood out from the majority of other outsider debuts for WWE, displaying perfect charisma and personality just during his entrance, completely in tune with WWE's style of production. Amazing how that happens when WWE caters to the talent’s natural habits instead of forcing a playbook on that talent. The pre-match and early off-the-charts atmosphere that I recall experiencing in person translate masterfully to the broadcast version, displaying what a truly historic match this is. The bell hasn’t been rung yet and this is already the 2010s decade version of the Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi epic. Nakamura's mind games are immediately on display, showcasing just fantastic psychology and even more personality, but Zayn has done his homework, evading Nakamura's deadly stomps and kicks. Nakamura looks like he may not have done as much studying as he should have, getting placed in arm twists and arm drags while Zayn returned the taunting from minutes earlier. The Hall of Famer seems to know he did himself a disservice, getting vicious with surprise knees to Zayn's gut and then targeting the left arm. He cuts off Zayn's comeback attempt with an Enziguri-style knee to the face, then cuts off the former NXT Champ with a spinning heel kick. Zayn finally cuts Nakamura off via a snap suplex, then unleashes standard offense to wear down the company's newest top free agent signing. They exchange forearm strikes in the corner, causing Nakamura to topple to the outside. Rather than get aggressive, Zayn lets Nakamura get on the apron, leaving him prone to a kick to the face and follow-up knees to the skull. This gets a wonderful reaction as the action gets back into the ring, triggering dueling chants in the process. Zayn's attempted counters to the swaggering Nakamura's corner knees are for naught, as he gets placed on the top rope and eats one anyway. Moments later, Zayn outsmarts the overzealous Nakamura, causing him to dive to the outside. This time, Zayn wastes no time with a Pescado on the outside, and then a crossbody inside the ring for a near-fall. Nakamura blocks a suplex attempt with a knee to the skull, then follows that up with some more as well. He runs the ropes which is a mistake, as it allows Zayn to block him and hit a deadly Michinoku Driver. They then have a mid-ring forearm exchange that has Dallas rocking, and Nakamura's nose is now bleeding. Both are running on fumes at this point as the crowd gives the continued exchange a standing ovation. Zayn tries bouncing off the ropes for balance and momentum, leaving him prone to Nakamura forearms, knees, stomps, and kicks. Nakamura seems to get cocky when he runs the ropes, for Zayn hits a lariat and then a clothesline; a second clotheslines attempt puts Zayn in position to get locked into a cross armbar submission, but Zayn clasps his hands to block it, so Nakamura goes for a Triangle Choke. Zayn twists a bit so that he can stomp on Nakamura's head and get the hold broken. Zayn returns the favor from earlier with stomps to the head, then scouts Nakamura's forearms with a counter into the Reverse STO and follow-up Koji Clutch. Nakamura turns his positioning for a near-fall, then cuts off Zayn with another Enziguri to daze Zayn. At this point the crowd breaks into a "Fight Forever!" chant, a true display of respect and admiration from the audience. Zayn blocks an Inverted Exploder attempt, only to eat more knees. Nakamura goes into the corner for my favorite moment of the match, proving that indeed, he did his homework by blocking Zayn's Yakuza kick. With Zayn's leg stuck on the top turnbuckle, Nakamura takes advantage with a successful Inverted Exploder, but Zayn shows he did his homework by avoiding the Bomaye, then hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for an off-the-charts near-fall, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. Considering I can't think of one time that move has actually finished a match for Zayn, it's a testament to these two that they had us biting. Nakamura lands a high kick counter when Zayn goes for his through-the-ropes Tornado DDT in yet another highlight. Both are highly fatigued and Nakamura can't hit whatever he has in mind off the top rope, so Zayn goes for what I assume is a Top Rope Brainbuster, but Nakamura blocks it. Zayn tries to hit a Corner Exploder on a running Nakamura, but that's blocked with elbows to the head, then gets followed with a knee to the back of the head, then it finally ends with the Bomaye Knee, bringing this work of art to its masterful conclusion, and not just for this match, but for Zayn's NXT tenure. Post-match, both show the obvious respect that only grew even more after this all-time classic as the crowd thanks Zayn, knowing this is his NXT swan song. Zayn is left alone to get the standing ovation he earned, marking the end of an era. In one night, Nakamura proved he was ready to do whatever WWE needed him to do, be it the face of a brand, a solid hand on the undercard, a workhorse groomer for other future main-eventers, or maybe even a tippy-top star. Everything he did was on point from the moment he stepped through the curtain both before and after the match. His entrance, his mannerisms, his offense, his psychology, all of it was just flawless. For Zayn, this match was critical in showing he still had elite workrate capabilities in him, which seemed to possibly no longer be the case since his return from shoulder surgery a few months earlier. For one man, it was the perfect beginning, for the other, the perfect finale. The only way to have made this even better would’ve been to have this close the event, and Zayn’s post-match goodbye to be interrupted by Kevin Owens. It’d had fit everyone’s characters and only further given last-minute extra heat to their ladder match coming less than 48 hours later at WrestleMania 32. This is simply the best match I saw all weekend this past April in Dallas, better than any of the spectacular and genuinely great shit involving the likes of Owens, the Revival, Chris Hero, Will Ospreay, Fred Yehi, Ricochet, AJ Styles, Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre, Jr. and others to come later on this same card. This truly felt like a historic match in person, and on the broadcast I felt that I was watching an all-time important mega match on par with The Rock vs. Triple H at SummerSlam 1998, Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21, and Edge vs. John Cena at TLC 2006. The electricity in the building was absolutely undeniable and added to what would've already been a fantastic match just based on the ring work of both performers. Even further, this surpasses the Undertaker vs. Triple H "End of an Era" Hell in a Cell masterpiece from WrestleMania XXVIII as the second-greatest match I've ever witnessed in person. So with that in mind, I will add this quote from my review of the only match I have ranked above it on this list, that being Bryan Danielson vs. Roderick Strong from ROH's Vendetta: This is a match stockpiled with moments that I'll remember for the rest of my life, and serves as a reminder that despite current financial difficulties, if I can find the money to end up being in Orlando this spring and override my recent cancellation of it (a certain Phenomenal main event would be enough to convince me), then I'll be there. I will cherish this match forever, a match that surpasses Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from Takeover: Brooklyn as the greatest match in NXT history. Last but not least: if this does not end up being The Road to Takeover: Orlando & WrestleMania 33 Match of the Year, then holy motherfucking shit are we in for an historic year of workrate from WWE. ***** NXT Women’s Title Match Bayley vs. Asuka An early submission exchange gets broken when Asuka strikes Bayley's face, which is a nice message to send. This isn't gonna be a monster heel or arrogant opponent trying to keep Bayley down; Asuka will just come right for the fucking throat. This is further proven when Asuka lands kicks, but Bayley tries to show she can strike to, although Asuka has the ultimate advantage early. Bayley scouts a running butt-butt after having just experienced one seconds earlier, allowing hereto get the advantage. After various attacks, a clotheslines attempt is turned into an arm submission by Asuka. Bayley quickly regains the heat by ducking corner roundhouse kicks. She puts Asuka in the Tree of Woe, allowing for an elbow drop. Asuka ends up on a turnbuckle and eats a Hurricanrana, then gets placed in the guillotine choke. Unlike Nia Jax, Asuka doesn't fall to this, instead positioning it into an ankle lock submission. Bayley throws her out of the ring, but the left ankle damage is done. Despite the damage, Bayley hits a head-scissors on the outside before bringing Asuka back in the ring. Asuka gets fighting spirit from Bayley's strikes and uses that to regain the heat with various attacks, including numerous kicks. Bayley finally scouts the kicks by blocking one and hitting a forearm, only to eat a knee strike to the head and then a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Bayley scouts another butt-butt and turns it into a backdrop suplex after Asuka attempts to block it. After ducking an Enziguri, Bayley eats an immediate follow-up kick to the face, and both go down sour and fatigued. After a brief stalemate, they have a strike exchange which would seem to favor Asuka, only for Bayley to catch a kick and turn it into an ankle lock submission of her own, then drives Asuka's right knee onto the mat. She then targets Asuka's left leg, which is perfect to fuck up the base and kicking abilities. That's for naught, as Asuka catches Bayley's arm for a cross arm bar submission. Asuka even gets into position for a hyperextension, but Bayley escapes for a couple near-fall pin attempts. Asuka goes for the Asuka Lock, but Bayley has that scouted. She follows up with more signature attacks, then hyper-extended Asuka's shoulders in a submission that won her the Iron Man match against Sasha Banks. That's turned into a pin attempt, so the champ goes for the belly-to-belly suplex, which is blocked of course. Asuka ducks a clothesline, hits a roundhouse kick, a snap suplex, and then locks in the cross arm bar submission again. Asuka's attempt at the Asuka Lock again is almost broken by a rope grab, but the challenger drags her down on the mat in the middle of the ring. The champ won't give up, but Asuka gets her back down on the mat, and there's no escape, as Bayley passes out for this historic title change. This was definitely a great match with a terrific story of Bayley being resilient but outmatched, while obviously hurt by following Zayn vs. Nakamura, further evidence that the match placement on this card was flawed. The finish was perfect, as it makes Asuka even more of a juggernaut while making Bayley even more deserving of an inevitable rematch. This could've possibly been a MOTYC had it not followed Nakamura's epic debut. **** NXT Title Match Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe Former TNA Champion BOBBY FUCKING ROODE is sitting front row. OH FUCK YES~! Balor uses a Texas Chainsaw Massacre gimmick as part of his entrance; such a novelty would be the entrance of the evening on a normal night. Joe came into this one seemingly with the dominant strategy that would indicate a title change in storyline. However the early bleeding on his face early was enough to keep this even and allow Balor to avoid any sustained disadvantage. Even with Joe scouting some of Balor’s signature moves, the blood loss clearly affected Joe’s ability to relentlessly deliver his standard punishment from his prime a decade or so earlier. The crowd of course got fucking irritated with the match being paused at points to fix Joe’s bleeding face, breaking out in chants of “Let Joe bleed!” and “Fuck PG!” Wrestling fans really are as low on the intellectual totem pole as stereotyped; if were truly creative and zesty with displaying our sense of entitlement, we’d have screamed shit such as “Let him gush blood!” and “Fuck these doctors!” and “Fuck your sponsors!” and “Fuck his safety!” Joe did himself no favors in storyline with the WWE clichéd shocked facial expression after Balor kicked out of the musclebuster. This was time wasted in which Joe could’ve delivered additional punishment on the NXT brand’s absolute best competitor, and it allowed Balor to make an easy comeback and win the match with by countering the Coquina Clutch with the same finish Bret Hart used at WrestleMania VIII and Survivor Series 1996. At least the finishing moments were red-hot, a sign that this match had the potential to be a MOTYC even after a far hotter, more newsworthy piece of history earlier on the card. Even had Joe not been busted open early, it was a clear mistake to close with this match. Here’s why: as soon as the bookers got cold feet on a title change, then the crystal-clear peak of the show was going to be Nakamura’s live debut, along with the fact that everyone with common sense knew this was Zayn’s final night on the brand. Having Zayn vs. Nakamura close the evening allows for the anticipation of that historic dream match to continue building just a bit longer, and having Owens ruin the Zayn’s post-match swan song ceremony closes out the event with more buzz for WrestleMania 32, which is supposed to be the grandest event EVER in company history due to Jerry World’s attendance size. By doing this, the crowd also isn’t quite as drained for Bayley vs. Asuka, and that title change is therefore more impactful for those in attendance. As is, this is a very good match that wasn’t just handicapped by Joe’s blood loss, but by flawed match order on the card. ***3/4 Easily the North American show of the year that I’d sentimentally put on par with Punk: The Final Chapter. Like that show, the reasons are obvious here. This was worth every penny spent on the vacation I took in Texas…easily. NXT @ WrestleMania 32 Axxess – April 2, 2016 Taped from Dallas, TX The following aired on April 13, 2016: NXT Champion Finn Balor knows that Shinsuke Nakamura’s ultimate goal in NXT is the obvious, which will be to become NXT Champion. This would seem to indicate that either Nakamura will be gunning for it VERY, VERY soon, or he’s gonna be exclusive to NXT for a lengthy period of time. Earlier in the day, NXT Tag Champions American Alpha bask in an empty Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore arrive to congratulate and make the challenge for the NXT dream tag match, even if it’s non-title. Bayley vows to reclaim the NXT Women’s Title in the future, and that the defeat to Asuka will not break her. American Alpha vs. Cassady & Amore is next week in a non-title match, as is Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews in a first time ever matchup. The following aired on April 20, 2016: American Alpha vs. Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore – *** No Way Jose makes his debut after a few weeks of hype videos. Seems fun and energetic, and upon first impression doesn’t give off a big money vibe, more of a curtain-jerker to make the crowd feel welcome on the card. Who knows, maybe he’ll be more than that, after all, Colt Cabana went on to headline the greatest ROH show ever in a violent feud-ender against Homicide. Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews – *** The following aired on April 27, 2016: NXT Women’s Champion Asuka has a stare down with Nia Jax, which would seem to indicate the next Takeover direction for that division. This follows up on the tease at Takeover: London, and Asuka vs. Bayley II makes far more sense for Takeover: Brooklyn II. The Revival mince no words in stating they’re aiming to reclaim the NXT Tag Titles.
  16. Figured this deserved it's thread, because it has got some MOTYC talk by quite a few people already. The entrances were awesome, Roode going all '89 Flair was glorious. The actual match though... Not so glorious. The first 10 minutes or so were meh, and once it transitioned into Roode working on top, it became straight up boring. Nakamura's comeback w/ his usual signature moves wasn't interesting, but I did like the moment where he was signaling for Kinshasa & Roode wouldn't get up. That was good. Then some more Roode work on top. Ughhh. And once again, Nakamura's hope spots & comeback weren't any interesting. I did like Shinsuke not being able to pin Roode after he had delivered Kinshasa, that was real good. The finish was pretty damn good with Nakamura trying everything he can to survive - that Triangle before getting destroyed was good. Overall though? Easily the worst match of the night & the worst of Nakamura's major matches in NXT so far, in my eyes. *1/2
  17. MattOL

    Shinsuke Nakamura

    Specifically current Nak in the WWE. I've been pretty underwhelmed with his NXT matches but then again I've never thought of him as a great worker.
  18. Man people sure do love to complain about insignificant things these days. I guess that comes with having another tab with twitter open while watching matches and being more focused on HOT TAKES than the match itself. Some were bothered by Nakamura "no-selling" the legwork, I honestly forgot about the legwork by the time Aries' heat segment took place. If the legwork was memorable enough for me to actually, you know, remember it, maybe I'd have a problem with it, but it wasn't and I didn't feel like it lasted long enough to warrant more selling. Shinsuke sold it, Aries stopped attacking his leg and then he moved on. People chanting a wrestler sucks because they aren't patient enough to watch a two minute heat segment is really ridiculous. Do these people even watch WWE matches or are they too busy screaming about how Kevin Owens is underutilized to pay attention what actually goes on in these matches. It's not hard to pick up on how WWE matches are worked. Hardy the most complex style. Aries did a good enough job when he was in control-he hit a nice tope and his diving elbow drops, dropkicks etc. were a big improvement over.....whatever he did in the Corbin match. I guess this was disappointing for some, but I don't think Aries is a great wrestler and he looked really bad in the Corbin match. I quite liked the matwork, I liked how they paced the match, the flash submission attempts and how they'd set them up. Nakamura's striking was on point and Aries' was better than usual, he rocked Nakamura with a Forearm pretty good. ***-***1/4
  19. Talk about it here. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19z43x_rush-vs-shinsuke-nakamura-njpw_sport
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