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  1. Now we're back to 2013 AJPW...well Diamond Ring with the two top matches involving AJPW top talent. Its their 08/31/13 show. Akira Hokuto Produce ~ Women's Pro-Wrestling Special Tag Match: Yumiko Hotta & Nanae Takahashi vs Natsuki*Taiyo & Sareee - Clipped here and there but not much really. Good to see Joshi again especially with familiar faces like Hotta & Takahashi to a lesser extent. The younger and smaller team were new to me but they were a lot of fun. This was fun stuff! Hotta and Nanae blasted their opponents in the head a couple times and it was great - in true Joshi fashion. Diamond Ring vs. Voodoo Murders ~ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya Return Match: TARU, "brother" YASSHI & Kengo vs Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya - Very much an Indie 6 man mid card match where you get a little bit of everything but not enough to really identify it as anything other than Good. I think a tag match may have been better. Also clipped a tad so was disorienting with 6 guys fighting at times. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki - Here we have the first of two AJPW related matches. This was a great match. Kota Ibushi was the odd man out as I don't think there's much history with him & the others. Stylistically I don't think he fit as well. He is very good at what he does but thankfully he's not in there a bunch. The heart of the match is Burning vs Nakajima especially Kotaro vs Nakajima. Kotaro was on fire here and Nakajima wasn't far behind. Kanemaru brought his A game as well but is much subtle (like a Shiro Koshinaka or even Christopher Daniels) so you just expect him to be flawless and keep moving the story/match along. That said, this was the match I'd hoped for with a very different finish that was fantastic. I'd probably put this at **** or so. Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara - A near classic match with stories weaving in and out. Kensuke vs Suwama, Suwama former Voodoo Murder member years ago seemingly dealing with the devil teaming up with V.M member Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki against his rivals Omori & Suwama, Miyahara opposing his mentor Kensuke and seemingly hating Akiyama because he exists. And Akiyama is this decade's Tenryu. And the action backs all of that up! ------ This was a enjoyable little diversion having the Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring guys mix it up with the AJPW roster. The two matches that needed to be awesome delivered. Only a few more shows/matches to go. Adding: Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) - I accidentally watched this after the Diamond Ring show. I think everything is like mid 90's AJ and if I watch anything out of order, it will spoil it. Anyone else like that? Of course it didn't matter that I watched this chronologically out of order! and in a way the 6-man Diamond Ring match made this better. I think that tag match is a good build up to this title fight. That aside, this delivered in just about every way. This was the culmination of Suwama vs Go and I feel the culmination of AJ vs Burning as well. Suwama had held off Akiyama and delayed Go but could he actually stop Shiozaki? This was the HARD hitting title fight you & I wanted to see. I legitimately think they took each other to their limit. Shiozaki was bleeding from the nose and Suwama from the chest. Both wrestlers were spent by the final bell. Neither have looked so battered all year. I would have really been thrilled to see some cleverness in terms of strategy (kayfabe work a body part) or a few nifty sequences towards the end. It wasn't that kind of match though. It was like a Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu or Kensuke Sasaki match where its about endurance and pushing through the pain & exhaustion onto victory. That's what kind of wrestler Suwama is so he's not going to get cute & intricate at the end. Shiozaki can hang with that style. I can certainly appreciate that! I'm thinking this is probably the best singles match of AJ 2013 so far. Its a classic heavyweight title fight. Its not an all time classic but I want to see their next meeting and that's good business. Super awesome bonus! Gaora's YouTube channel has this up for your viewing pleasure. Skip the first tem minutes to get straight to match or sit through that to get some clips and backstory. You'll see see some stuff I've talked about in previous posts. And because I am all about spreading the wrestling love, here it is: Thanks for reading!
  2. This might be my top joshi match of the 80s at the moment. Crazy action with amazing character work (all four have distinct roles), heel vs. face dynamic and great heat. Up there with many of the acclaimed 90s joshi tags. ****1/4
  3. This is a decision match for the tag titles after Aja and Bison vacated them, only to try to win them back right afterwards. I have no idea why. I think this is the best Aja & Bison tag I've seen, Bison's performance in this is particularly good, probably had a better night than Aja actually. ****1/4 Note, if you want to watch this in almost complete form, see the version on AJW Classics 54 that aired on 8/22/11.
  4. This is a fantastic hidden gem. Aja and Sakie seem like an odd team at first, Monster Heel/Ace and the loveable underdog midcarder, but they make it work as the story of their partnership is Aja trying to bring out a killer instinct out of Sakie so she can elevate herself. There's nice spots like Aja chopping Kyoko super hard in the corner when Sakie is being half-hearted about it, or get Sakie to hold someone in a camel clutch so Aja can boot her in the chest. Sakie looks a bit "omg I can't believe I did that" afterwards but then rolls with it. Kyoko and Toshiyo are very good as well, Kyoko especially murders Sakie with a lariat when it's her time to take control. ****1/2
  5. Oh this rules. It's the 4th best match of their rivalry and is more of an angle really. It reminds me of that Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart "fight" on Raw in 1997 where Austin injures Bret, although this one officially is a match even if they barely ever get in the ring, and even when they do it's more to maul each other with weapons than actually wrestle. But they get a title match in two months so this gives nothing away. Just a chaotic hate-filled fight leaving a trail of destruction everywhere. ****
  6. This is a big battle between generations, Devil debuted in 1978 and Kyoko in 1988. Kyoko gives a sincere bow of respect at the start. Devil controls the majority of this, cutting a slower pace than you'd normally see in a Kyoko Inoue match and making it feel like Kyoko has to dig deeper than normal to keep herself in this. There's a good few moments where Kyoko attempts her usual offense but gets cut off by Devil's size, or needs to really struggle to pull it off. Her Giant Swing looked pretty precarious! I'm watching this thinking Devil has one of the best lariats in Joshi when Kyoko eventually fires back with one of her own and takes her down to a wooooooah from the crowd. She earned that momentum shift. Finish was a cool surprise and Devil had a great facial reaction like "that kid f***ing boomed me". ****1/4
  7. Firstly this is clipped. AJW Classics #55 gives us about 10 minutes of a 14 minute match and the cut is pretty blatant and comes right in the middle of the match interrupting the flow. But still I'll judge based on what we have. This is the least of their 3 matches in 1992 but it actually fits really well with them in terms of a longform narrative arch. Hokuto is still a straight babyface here. After this she goes to Mexico and comes back as Las Cachorras Orientales to challenge Bull again. Hokuto does an upside down Figure 4 + heelhook submission in this that I've never seen anywhere else. The finish is neat. Just a brutal counter to a basic move. ***1/2 (might have been better if in full)
  8. This bangs. Suzuka attacks Hokuto before she can get out of her big robes and wig only for Hokuto to counter a backbreaker into an armdrag over a pile of streamers. Hokuto takes her wig off, Suzuka jumps her and attempts the backbreaker again but Hokuto counters it into a splash this time, goes back into the corner to take off her robes and shouts something at Suzuka which got a lot of crowd laughs. Suzuka looks a bit embarrassed that she failed to jump Hokuto at the bell not once but twice. One of the wackiest opening 30 seconds ever. They then have a great violent match with nasty handwork and the big bombs you'd expect. ****1/4
  9. This is the best thing to ever happen in wrestling. We are in the heart of the interpromotional wars and Hokuto has beat Kandori, so here we are in the Grand Prix with Kandori's LLPW teammate Yasha Kurenai is out to prove something. We start with Kurenai walking up to Hokuto and spitting into her face with the hugest spit ever. Hokuto has 0 reaction. The crowd realizes what is about to happen and starts chanting for Hokuto. Kurenai then gets to the middle of the ring and does her pose, Hokuto just has a seat and stares at her. Kurenai then gets a kendo stick and starts attacking Hokuto's leg and then proceeds to do 3 lame choke slams, which Hokuto no sells with Kurenai getting angrier and angrier. Hokuto gets tossed a kendo stick which she immediately throws back, because she doesn't need that shit. A moment later Hokuto hits one of the most vicious Northern Lights Bomb ever for the win. She then yells a lot on the mic and this is the best. 9/10. Wrestling is amazing!
  10. While it is hard for me to call this a feel good match considering the beating Chigusa takes for most of the match, the ending and postmatch have such a satisfying overcoming the odds feel to them. This has a more commanding Matsumoto performance as compared to 8/85: strutting around arrogantly, beating up the referee, torturing Nagayo. Chigusa delivers yet another epic selling babyface performance. Her wandering around, dazed and half blinded by blood is quite the visual. The hope spots are great and the crowd reactions enhance everything. Great finish that works as the perfect payback spot. Dramatic and emotional. Must-see just like the first hair match. **** 1/4
  11. Kandori's entire persona is that of someone in a huge hurry who's stuck in a line at Subway behind a person taking 5 minutes to decide what type of cheese they want--just a perpetual grump. It makes for a great contrast with the eternally bubbly Kyoko. This is a marvelously well-built match, with Inoue really working outside of her comfort zone. There are some fantastic reversals and counters, like a more intense version of the Kawada/Taue CC match. After a few heart-rendering near-falls, we got a finish that I actually really liked, and was built to just as well as the rest of the match. Some of the most dramatic rope escapes you'll ever see, which sets up the winning submission pretty spectacularly. Kandori may have been involved in the two best joshi singles matches of the year.
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