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  1. Sorry for the delay! Work the past few weeks has been really crazy with the increase in online retail due to the Corona Virus pandemic. So, I didn't feel much like watching another computer screen after staring at my work monitor all day. You didn't come here for excuses though! You wanted to find out about how the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament wraps up. Well, after a long wait, here we are -the finale! Night 3 starts with a bang! Sami Callihan vs Davey Richards - An all action match to get things rolling. These two hard hitters left tons on the table for a future encounter but, it was still very good stuff. I would have been happy with either man in the finals. Colt Cabana & Emil Sitoci vs Kotaro Suzuki & Mark Haskins - The best Colt match as he was more business plus, he had 3 really good workers to keep him grounded. Therefore, we got a quite good tag match. Some comedy, nice section to build some tension, hot tags, just a fun watch. Good match Go Shiozaki vs Big Van Walter - I was looking forward to this. I was quite disappointed. Let's just get that out of the way. I felt they killed time in a very -ahem- rest hold taking kind of way. I don't like using the term "rest hold" but, that's what it felt like especially in the context of how other matches in the night used holds to move along the action or the story. Here it felt like Go took Walter for a Sunday drive around the town...with no particular place to go. Then they did that long enough and things got interesting. Then, it wrapped up. OK match I suppose but, don't think Shiozaki wanted to go out in style. This was his worse match of the event to me. Axeman vs Yoshihito Sasaki - I doesn't look good for Go to have a guy called Axeman and a BJW wrestler outshine you but, dammit that's what happened. For as much as a letdown Go Shiozaki was Sasaki (and to a lesser extent Axeman) has been a wonderful surprise. These guys went out there like the previous match could have done. Nothing insane in terms of intensity or stiffness BUT they looked like they wanted to finish the event with a win. That crumb of psychology was all they needed to have a very good perhaps even great match. Thank goodness! Jon Ryan vs Johnny Moss - Right now, I'd rather see these type of matches and be pleasantly surprised rather than let down. Fortunately, these fellow kept the good times rolling by having a technical showcase. It wasn't always pretty but, this buttered my bread. Hold and counter hold wrestling is timeless and this was well worth your time. Very good match -There's a tag team match that's really wXw storyline stuff...I'm skipping it- Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico - This is Sekimoto's 3rd defense and probably his toughest challenge. You'd think the more muscular Moss or Bad Bones would take that honor. However, if you're familiar with Generico then, you know he can take a beating and come right back and get the win. Daisuke's best defense, Generico's 3rd 4 star match in as many nights. You might even think it was better. Go see this Future Shock (O'Reilly & Cole) vs LDRS of the New School (Sabre Jr. & Scurll): Party Marty in full effect here! Watch for the crowd surfing afterwards. Anyhow, this was your 2010 up and coming wrestlers going to tear the house down type of tag match. Seriously, this was PWG spot fu to keep your jaw on the ground tag wrestling. This could have been a classic had they knew how to edit themselves but, shoot, I won't hate. They have all become smarter workers since then so, as a dream match time capsule, you ought to see it. This was a blast and if you're a fan of these guys like I am then, you'll think it was a great match. and now, the big match to crown the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament winner... Big Van Walter vs Sami Callihan - Much like the 2010 Finals, this is your story match. You're using their previous encounters and what you've learned and applying it to this match. Walter is a tank and can finish anyone especially when he hits his powebomb. That move spells DEATH. Sami is a hard hitting dynamo and can finish you with his Stretch Muffler. More importantly, Sami has had a harder tournament - Tommy End, Yoshihito Sasaki & Davey Richards. That's pretty damn good compared to Rico Bushido, Mark Haskins & Go Shiozaki. And you all know how I feel about that last match This was a very good fight where the man who wanted it the most won. That's a feel good story and dammit we need that in wrestling - Even if it means guys getting put thru tables and clotheslined so hard their heads disappear. Excellent ending to an excellent event. Now to do a little summary and awards (?) I suppose... This was a tremendous 3 night wrestling event that is truly under the radar of a lot of people. I bought this and the 2010 event based on the line-up. Both did not disappoint but, 2011 is the superior show. Every night has at least 2 great matches with some faring better depending on your tastes. This 16 Carat event truly was a world tournament that provided some dream match ups I never knew I wanted to see. Does that make sense? Hahaha maybe! This was a nice change of pace after my NJ '88 project. I was really happy with buying this set and would definitely recommend it to anyone who digs these wrestlers. MVP: Sami Callihan, runner up: El Generico Best Match: Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr., runner up: Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki, honorable mention: all 3 El Generico bouts Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki Worst Surprise: Go Shiozaki dogging it (although I will say his one finger was taped each night so, I'll give him that. However, this doesn't excuse slow paced, aimless matches on night 2 & 3) Overall: Night #1 was a breeze to watch, the best night overall. Night #2 had a couple rough matches in the front half but, had the two best matches. Night #3 had a couple great matches and the big finale but, got off track with the Go/Walter bummer and it took me a couple fights to wash the bad taste outta my mouth. Nonetheless, it was everyone's 3rd night so, it can be expected and everything else clicked as expected. Again, I cannot recommend this event enough especially since it is sold in one package. Plus there's a bonus dvd that I haven't watched yet. I hope you have enjoyed this review and its encouraged you to branch out of your wrestling comfort zone a little. Totally glad that I took a chance with this. Thanks for reading! Be safe folks! Hoping to do my mid year round up real soon
  2. Without further ado, let's take a look at Night #2 of wXw's 2011 16 Carat Gold Tournament! Axeman vs Rico Bushido vs Tommy End vs Bad Bones - Hard hitting wXw guys doing a fun spot match. Jay Skillet vs Jon Ryan - I like Ryan from his match with Davey but, you can skip this match. It wasn't bad. It's nothing special to me though. Colt Cabana vs Marty Scurll - Another outright comedy match. Marty is much better at this than Zack just because he's more vocal and outgoing. Fun stuff Carnage vs 2-Face - This was OK. They probably didn't need to hit as hard for this kind of match. Post match stuff had storyline stuff so, this was a vehicle for that. Poor use of Carnage IMO. Mark Haskins vs Big Van Walter - A simple David vs Goliath match with Haskins showing a ton of heart. He didn't have the cleanest execution but, it looked natural when going up against the juggernaut of Walter. Good match and best thus far. Day 2 is OK thus far but we're only half way through. Let's see what part 2 has to offer...It should get better. El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Future Shock (Cole & O'Reilly) - I was really glad they took their time in setting up heel vs face dynamics here. Sitoci made a great first impression. He reminded me of Paul London. That's interesting because London and Generico had a nice tag team in PWG in 2010. So, that dynamic was here against the cocky upstart team of Future Shock. This was an exciting match with nice offense and fake-out spots. Best match of the show thus far. Great stuff! Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki - Man, this looks promising! Sami really looks like he's got a screw loose! He brings so much intensity and bravado to the ring that, I'm invested before the bell rings. A handshake to start the match means Sasaki and Sami are going to be rough. And good gravy, this is violent wonderful wrestling and a near classic bout. This really puts the night back on track by topping the tag match. Go Shiozaki vs Kotaro Suzuki - NOAH match in Germany! This was a very good match but, felt it was lethargic compared to the previous couple matches. Also, the fan cam on the ground wasn't in the best position. So, we could see the action OK but, we were mainly seeing their backs. They were in a different venue and the hard cam and the floor cam were coming from the same side of the ring for this match. These things don't bother me too much but, I felt that because we couldn't see the impact as well as could be expected, we were missing some of the action. The crowd also seemed tired and I could only say it was very good at best. Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. - I understand the pacing and card placement with the NOAH match now. They wanted to give the crowd a cool down for this battle. The pacing was aggressive from bell to bell and Holy crap, they just beat the slop outta each other! This has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes. Up & coming ZSJ vs top tier Richards provided a classic encounter without a doubt. If you're a fan of either guy, you should see this for sure. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Johnny Moss - Match for the wXw belt. This was a good ***1/2 bout to close the night out. There was no way they were going to top the previous match so, they gave the fans a nice hard hitting simple title fight. Overall, Night 2 was a great show but, really one of two parts. Part one was nothing special although the 4 Way opener and the Haskins/Walter matches were worthwhile. Your best bet is to watch those two and skip to the 2nd half where stuff really picks up with a 3 amazing matches. Davey vs ZSJ is the best bout thus far. Thankfully, the 2011 tourney is sold as a set so, if you're looking to buy this DVD or that DVD, you don't have to choose one night over another What's even better is that we've still got Night 3! Thanks for reading!
  3. I have been meaning to watch this tournament for awhile now. I bought this along with the 2010 tournament so, this has been a long time coming. The box art of the DVD set features all of the participants in this year's event. It is pretty damn stacked even compared to the previous year. We have stars from ROH, Big Japan, NOAH, Independent US talent as well as European wrestlers. This 16 Carat Gold event may be the most diverse and globally representative tournament assembled in recent memory. Enough fluff! Let's get to the wrestling! Kyle O'Reilly vs Karsten Beck vs Marty Scurll vs Axeman: This 4 man match will determine who will be an alternate for the tournament. Nice to have some incentive for the guys...they surely fought like they meant it. Axeman was a nice surprise. He and Kyle have a similar style. Fast paced fun opening match. Yoshihito Sasaki vs Carnage: Sasaki is a guy who's name I've seen here and there the past decade but, never knew how he flew under my radar. I mean, I have Fire Pro Returns and don't recall seeing him. Ha! I was wrong. He's listed under the Zero-1 promotion as a low ranking wrestler. That was 2004 in Japan and in 2011 he's made his way in the world. And I have to say, damn! I was missing out. He's got a no nonsense hard hitting style that I appreciate.His opponent Carnage does as well. I remember him from 2010's shows. Very good match here and a proper way to start the tourney. Two matches in and this feels better than 2010. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Colt Cabana: Is Colt NWA champ here!? This was funny at times but, took too long to really go anywhere. This was a popcorn match to me. You'll be OK fast forwarding to the last five minutes or skipping altogether. Much like the other World of Sport style matches (not that this was exactly but, it had that feel and style) of 2010, this feels out of place next to 2010 puro style bouts. Adam Cole vs Mark Haskins: Both dudes have come a long way from here. This was a very scatterbrained Indy wrestling match. Stuff was done with little rhyme or reason. Unlike the ZSJ/Cabana match, this was relatively short and an OK watch. Go Shiozaki vs Johnny Moss: Thank goodness they got the show back on track. Fans started out pretty much behind Moss but, Go won them over with his hard hitting never say quit attitude...kinda like how Rocky won over the Russian crowd in Rocky IV. This was a very good match and the ending portion was that stuff you want from NOAH's top dog. This was another very good pairing. Big Van Walter vs Rico Bushido: Never heard of Bushido but, he reminds me of how I imagine Ricky Reyes fought and looked like in the Rottweiler days of ROH. That's probably all wrong but, I'm cool with that assumption. He was all martial art kicks and Walter put him down after a few power moves. Short and unoffensive match. I have nothing against so-so matches but, at least make them short like this match. Davey Richards vs Jon Ryan: Ryan has no chance in hell beating Davey...just by the looks of him. But to Davey's credit he gave a lot to J.R. He got some heel moves in and was able to fight Richards and be a credible opponent. So, don't let his cheesy ring gear and physique fool you! I really thought an upset might happen. Another very good match. Sami Callihan vs Tommy End: This was an intense, fast, hate filled match. These guys were wXw regulars and this must have had some back story to it. You don't need to know it though. These dudes were aiming to maul each other. Tommy End is much improved since 2010 and Sami has gotten even better. The best bout so far! Great match with a fantastically aggressive submission finish. Yes! Kotaro Suzuki vs El Generico: This is a pretty high profile match for 2011. It's like an unofficial Best of the Super Jrs. match. It had lots of good action that kept the excitement and drama going. Who would win? Generico is a mega star in indy wrestling and Kotaro is GHC Jr. champ...every nearfall felt like the one that would do it. They both have so many tricks in the bag so, the end was always in doubt. Great match. As good or better than the previous bout for sure. A sweet way to end day one!! Wait...that wasn't the main event? Daisuke Sekimoto vs Bad Bones (wXw Hvywt. Championship match): This is like the cherry on top of a sundae. It starts of slow but, gets action packed as the match progresses. The last few minutes made a big difference as this was scratching at great match territory. Reminded me of the Hayabusa/Tanaka era FMW matches. Very good match overall...like ***3/4 territory. Then we get a very enjoyable post match with Bones and Johnny Moss comes out to challenge Daisuke. Very psyched to see Night 2! This was a heck of night of wrestling. This was much better than I remember the 2010 Night #1 being. Each match that I enjoyed delivered the excitement and entertainment that I was hoping for. Not one wrestler in those matches dogged it and in many cases they went above and beyond to have the best match they could. If they can keep it up then, this might be one helluva ride. Thank you for reading!
  4. 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!
  5. This could've been an amazing match but it being modern puro this is about as good as you're going to get. I liked the beginning with Kamitani getting some shine before Ishikawa took over. Then Kamitani makes his comeback and they, uhm, do stuff for a couple of minutes before transitioning into the finishing stretch. It seems fine. My biggest problem with the match was how they connected the dots. You have Ishikawa ragdolling Kamitani on the outside, throwing him into the chairs, dumping him with a brutal Bodyslam, yet he's kind of limping for no reason, not really acting like you'd want a monster in control to. You don't really actively think of how stuff like how a wrestler walks affect the match quality but even that plays a part. I think they could've milked control segments and the comeback better and that the match definitely could've used more struggle and purpose in the middle. The finishing stretch is really great, as every move gains more purpose, every transition and nearfall holds more weigth, everything is more significant, they build to stuff better and the action improves. ***3/4
  6. All Japan World Tag Team titles on the line. A worthy successor to the classic they had in January, though not on THAT level. This one doesn't have the emotional rollercoaster vibe the first one had, and it was more about bomb throwing, which kinda makes sense because things had to escalate from their previous encounter. The roles are reversed on the first third of the match, with Strong BJ dominating this time and working over Suwama, and Shuji having to be the hot tag and the fired up one. Korakuen loves Strong BJ though, so even tough they are the invaders, they are still over and never get booed - they didn't try to get booed either though, except for like 2 times they choked Suwama,but they left it at that -, they were really into Yuji and that's awesome because that just means his Champion Carnival run is gonna be fucking amazing. Once Ishikawa does the hot tag the match becomes evenly matched and they just trade bombs and strikes until the end. There are some nice little touches, like Suwama throwing himself to the canvas to avoid Daisuke's german suplex, but him getting deadlifted anyway, a fucked up Shuji lending a hand to avoid the double german suplex, or both Sekimoto and Suwama screaming and cheering up their partners to get the job done and get the W. Still, after an amazing nearfall that I wont spoil, the match kinda fizzles to the end, it's like Korakuen didn't really want a title change, lol. This is more than worth a watch, 25 minutes of dope hoss action, not a classic, but a great match anyways.
  7. Coming into the match, Hama has beaten Sekimoto and Okabayashi with the Ookido press (just a simple splash) in the build up to this, so Daisuke and Korakuen know he has to avoid that shit like his life depended on it. I love how Sekimoto sells the big moment from the get go, he makes you feel like he's gonna have his work cut out for him, and indeed it is. It's basically 15 minutes of "how the fuck is Daisuke gonna pull this one off?", with Hama doing a great job as the big fat ball of lard that can't be moved. There's a couple of incredible nearfalls that had Korakuen going insane, and the last few minutes with the whole place rallying behind the champ was just the cherry on top. Loved this match, Sekimoto was such an awesome underdog, his facial expressions were incredible. Legit MOTYC.
  8. Pretty decent 2/3 Falls match. I want to say „shockingly“, but knowing that Motegi and Nakamaki are better than their rep it's not really a huge shock. Of course Motegi has been carrying Wingers ass since W*ING so he is the one guy who gets some decent exchanges out of him, and Nakamaki is way better at wrestling than you expect. He hits some nice stiff lariats and can actually sell, he also hit a really nice takeover into armbar. This had a good structure with the technico team of Motegi/Nakamaki getting the better in the 1st, a fluke rollup in the 2nd and finally Nakamaki bleeding in the 3rd to even the odds. Probably needed a big Nakamaki comeback to be more than a fun match but yeah, I enjoyed it and getting something good out of Winger and WX is an achievement.
  9. This was a fun undercard match that they actually showed in full. I liked the opening basic hold exchanges with both guys doing something nifty – Fujita hitting a cool STO from a front headlock and Yamakawa with a nice leg trip. The rest of this was mostly a Fujita showcase. His basic offense is much more vicious than your average junior – dropkick to the head, hurty looking headbutts, kneedrop to the back of the head etc, while also mixes in innovative stuff. Yamakawa didn't look quite up there as he seemed nowhere near as in shape as Fujita and was struggling to get into position at times, but he got it together for the finishing run, hitting some huge kicks. The win actually felt like a nice achievement. Really fun unpredictable match.
  10. It's another chapter in the series of Improbably Great Usuda vs. Indy Scum matches. I wish Usuda had worked IWA Japan so we could see what he could do with the Great Takeru. I think Honma was already doing regular deathmatches at this point as he looked sleazier and seemed to have forgotten about the finer intricacies of pro wrestling. He just went for big fucking bombs and looked noticably worse during stand up sections than he did earlier in the year. Aside from some slight lack of direction on Honmas part this was a real good match, let me tell you: Usuda pretty much held the whole thing together with his selling, ability to come up with exciting counters and absolutely blasting Honma with brutal kicks. Anytime Usuda was on offense you felt the match could end at any moment. Honma is good enough as your crazy highspot machine. All-time brutal finish.
  11. Motegi is surprisingly effective as surely vet carrying skinny indy juniors and this was no exception. The match had a simple layout that worked: Fujita would get the advantage through a flashy move or highspot, and Motegi would repay him with a gritty stiff receipt. Highlights include a brutal lariat, some nasty as hell work on the stomach and making Fujita faceplant on the floor. Fujita is so skinny the beating looks double brutal and Motegi can just manhandle him. One goofy no selling spot, but this stuff ages better than your average 90s junior match.
  12. About 12 of 21 minutes shown. Too bad because this looked like some of the best junior action of the year. The lucha vs. Shootstyle matwork they did was just beautiful – so smooth and Tajiri knew exactly to go into desperation mode whenever Hidaka locked in a hold. These are of course two guys with high end movesets and spectacular spots galore, but everything made sense and they never got overly cute.
  13. Usuda vs. Indy junior continues to produce the goodness. This was worked exactly as it should be – Usuda being the far superior shooter who would dominate on the ground and Fujita as the gutsy flyer who'd use quickness and determination to survive. Fujita can get aggressive and Usuda is a great counterwrestler to work with that aggressiveness. The middle portion of this match where both work the mat and refuse to go for ropebreaks while coming up with counters was solid gold. Highlihts include Usuda locking in an ultra tight Chickenwing Crossface which seemed to almost pop Fujita's shoulder, a pissed off Fujita raining headbutts from mount (and receiving a receipt in kind later on), Usuda countering Fujita's finisher etc. Fujita eats some huge blows in the standup section while finding believable ways to come back. This was largely excellent, logical junior vs. Shooter action which is only brought down slightly by 2-3 blown/weak looking spots.
  14. No sane person will look at this matchup and expect any oustanding wrestling exchanges. However, as a spectacle this was insanely effective and super entertaining. This mostly stays in the ring, Matsunaga is in his gi and anytime he's throwing crazy kicks it's great. But of course, this is about heatmongering and the BattlARTS dudes doing their best to come across as slimy pricks, so the biggest pop for the crowd is when the Big Japan guys finally get them outside the ring and get to bowl them into the chairs. I also liked Yamakawa as the worlds bravest white belt trying to roll with Usuda, right at the go he goes for a feeble takedown and ends up eating a bunch of stiff knees and high kicks in a moment that mirrored real life fighting. Him struggling to lock in a basic Figure 4 when he finally got the advantage was the icing on the cake. Some effective nearfalls at the end, Matsunaga bringing in a baseball bat (leading to some amusing attempted disarming), and of course Matsunaga punching a bloody Ishikawa in the face. No #1 babyface Matsunaga coming to save the day swinging weapons and fists may be almost as good as evil psycho Matsunaga.
  15. Isami Kodaka vs Kenji Fukimoto (03/05/17 BJW) - Gusset Plates & Sawed Off Cans 2-Sided Death Match: Stumbled across this match online and the sawed off cans (as in tin cans) caught my attention. Surprisingly un-gory (as modern death matches go) and tons of fun to watch. A ladder shows up and the tin can board spots are cringe inducing. As an infrequent deathmatch watcher, I would highly recommend this. I've been watching death matches more since I first watched this and it has been on the short list of must see matches. Speaking of death matches, we've got the master of the death match, Atsushi Onita, doing his 4th (?) comeback tour. Here are a couple wacky ones: Atsushi Onita vs Masakatsu Funaki - Triple Weapons Explosion match (07/24/16 Zero-1): I think this is odd for the mere fact that grappling guru Funaki is in a fucking death match. Who would have thought that looking back upon the King of Pancrase, he'd be in an exploding match with Onita!? So, we've got a table, chairs, a barbwire board that explodes, and barb wire bats that blow up! Holy frijoles! Coming in at around 10 minutes, it is all spots...but what spots they are It's a ton of fun. I even had to show my fiance the exploding bats part. Gather the family! Atushi Onita, Aja Kong & Okamoto vs Bob Sapp, Jaguar Yokota & TARU - Explosion match (05/12/17 Zero-1): I'm going to hazard a guess that the match stipulation is more than just explosion match but, screw it! That's what I wrote down! Ok, so this is the best kind of sleazy that I could hope for. None of that Joey Ryan crap. We've got everyone over the hill first off. Onita is so far over the hill that he's under it. We've got a guy with his name in all CAPS, a chubby dude that I've never heard of, two joshi legends, and then Bob *fucking* Sapp. On top of that we have exploding bats (again), aimless shitty brawling, botched moves, actual wrestling by the joshi, and then Bob *fucking Giant Baba* Sapp. This is the polar opposite of that slick sterile stuff that gets passed off as wrestling today. Bless Onita & bless Zero-1.
  16. There's some pre-match stuff with the CZW guys invading the ring and confronting the BJW guys who were on the ramp. MEN'S defends the BJW Jr. heavyweight title and the honor of BJW against the returning traitor and now CZW representative Jun Kasai. The match is pretty neat and had a ton of awesome segments such as MEN'S pulling a spike out of his boot and spiking Kasai like he's the Sheik. Also MEN'S and Kasai brawling to the back and Kasai tapping MEN'S to a table before diving off the balcony on top of the table was a nice little touch. A barbed wire baseball comes into play and there's cool spot where MEN'S counters Kasai's attack with it into an octopus hold. The finish was awesome with Teioh hitting a barbed wire baseball assisted knee/shin crusher from the second rope before locking in a barbed wire baseball bat assisted figure four leglock. Unfortunately the commentary seems like it was taped in a studio afterwards and we can't hear the appropriate crowd heat, but from what can hear, it does seem like it was a lively Very good match. ***1/2
  17. The resurgence of Big Japan's deathmatch division over the past year or so has been very interesting. While still always the major draw in the company, most English speaking fans have favored the Strong Division over the Deathmatch one. However, the Srong Division has had trouble establishing new stars, while Masashi Takeda has become an absolute superstar. This is his first title defense of 2018 against Takumi Tsukamoto. They would go on to become tag champions a few weeks later. Takeda has a lot of things going for him. He's incredibly charasmatic, has solid technical skills, knows how to structure his matches and is a madman. Most deathmatches in Big Japan are focused around the ability to just survive as much punishment as possible, and this is no exception. It is very brutal. From lighttubes to scissors to fork cakes to cages to nailboards, there's a lot going on here. Takeda takes control early and just destroys Tsukomoto's forehead, with gouging, tubes, and brutal chairshots. He then steps up the brutality attempting to send Tsukomoto through a barbed wire cage, but Tsukomoto fires up by breaking lighttubes over his head and gains the upper hand, suplexing Takeda through the barbed wire. The crowd is starting to get amped up and behind Tsukomoto. He follows that with a vertebreaker onto chairs. After some back and forth, Takeda gives Tsukotmoto a pretty crazy Russian Leg Drop off of the apron through the cage, which has been moved to the outside. From here, it turns into a bit more of a sprint, with both guys fighting as hard as they can. Takeda is a great deathmatch seller. He has really great facial expressions that make him look like he is in absolute agony, but Tsukomoto is right there with him in this one. He continues to fire up and really gets the crowd behind him. There are some big nearfalls, like Tsukomoto kicking out after a slam on a nailboard followed by a German onto tubes, but Tsukomoto still isn't giving up. Finally, a reverse DDT puts him away. If you are not a fan of the Big Japan deathmatch style, this may not be a match to change your mind, as it contains the excesses and brutality that can take some out of a match. However, I think they do a great job accomplishing what they set out to deliver: elevate Tsukotomo and continue Takeda's unstoppable reign. It is fairly compact. There isn't much downtime, they transition and build to the next spot very well and never feels like they are just waiting for someone to set up or build the next contraption to go through. This is my favorite deathmatch so far this year. Takeda has been one of the best wrestlers in the world so far, and this has been one of his best performances. If you can stomach this style, I absolutely recommend this. ****1/2
  18. This was bonkers and fun. Back then, Big Japan was having a awesome run which featured a ton of fun action packed multi man tag team death matches. This is one of them. Right from the get go, we get action developing all over the place and we get some W*ING/IWA JAPAN/FMW type crowd brawling. We also get the Kasai signature craziness as he dives off the top of a ladder inside the right while having light tubes attached to him onto Numazawa who’s laying on top of a table on the outside of the right. Of course, these are Japanese tables, so you know that doesn’t end well. Also, this match takes at Korakuen Hall so the atmosphere is pretty awesome opposite the silent Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium. The action never stops and this never slows down as it’s just balls to the wall. Not a MOTYC by any chance, but definitely well worth watching if you’re a death match fan or a fan of the sleazy Japanese indys.
  19. Not much of a match per se, but just Hido wrecking havoc ringside with a kendo stick.
  20. MEN'S Teioh and Daisuke Sekimoto defend the BJW tag team title against Daikokubo Benkei and Abdullah Kobayashi at Korakuen Hall. I thought this was pretty underwhelming. Benkei isn't particularly good from what I recall and the other three are good/decent most of the time, but I thought they didn't do that well here and the crowd sitting on their hands and keeping their mouths shut until the finishing stretch hurt this. The last 3 or so minutes were fantastic though. Those deadlift German suplexes from Sekimoto are quite the visual specially when he's hitting them on much bigger guys such as Kobayashi.
  21. It's old time DVDVR's dream junior matchup! Parts of this had the feel of two guys who trained together a lot making their first faithful attempt at an epic. However, these two are solid enough at the basics to keep you entertained. They don't pussy out of exchanging stiff slaps, when they work the mat they go for actual submissions, and they understood to set their big spots up. Also they both have ultra choice swank movesets making this match worth watching just to see what coolness is coming up next. Fun junior spectacle. A million billion stars etc.
  22. This match was totally badass. Hideki Suzuki is a Billy Robinson trainee and someone I always love to see make tape and Ishikawa is one half of my favourite modern tag team and has also grown into a really strong singles worker in the last few years. I liked the matwork here a lot, you have Suzuki using his skill by applying cravates, leglocks, wrenching on Ishikawa's fingers, doing neat takedowns and transitions, Ishikawa can't really compete with him in that so he'll put him in an Iron Claw and grab him and just throw him off himself to combat Suzuki's superior ability. Some really great stuff happens outside of the ring as Ishikawa replies to Suzuki lowering the middle rope and asking him to come back to the ring by sitting in a chair and challenging Suzuki back, they proceed to just insanely stiff each other with elbows and it looks much more like the finish of that one Black Terry/Hechicero match than modern puro elbow exchanges. Ishikawa drops Suzuki on the apron in a absolutely disturbing and disgusting manner, I think Roderick Strong did something like that to like Mike Bailey last year in PWG, imagine that spot but even more violent looking. They get back into the ring and continue to produce greatness, Suzuki throws some beautiful suplexes and Ishikawa is just uberviolent, they do a great job of teasing comebacks only to cut them off in satisfying and unexpected ways and while they sometimes do the puro pop-up after being hit with a move they always sell the imact of the move once the sequence finishes and they never temporarily "no-sell" anything huge. Finish is something I've seen botched so many times I thought they were just going to screw it up differently here or it wasn't going to be the finish but IT WAS! And it was done right! And it looked really great and totally caught me off guard. ***3/4
  23. I LOVE PRO WRESTLING. If you're looking for transcendent violence and WAR-esque matches filled with actual hate instead of just lame and tired tropes that have clouded modern japanese wrestling this is your best bet. Just an amazing match with Hideki Suzuki and Nakanoue murdering each other and unleashing shoot headbutts and Futen head kicks and stomps on each other. The match gets thrown out and then restarted, Suzuki'spartner tries to hold him back and then Suzuki loses him temper and beats the hell out of him and all the young boys.......honestly if you like violence in pro wrestling I cannot imagine you not loving this match. The only complaint I could see is that it wasn't long enough but it didn't feel like it was lacking in any way. I'm tracking down every tag with Suzuki-Nakanoue interactions now. ****1/2
  24. Hama has good fat man offence and can be fun against someone who knows how to pinball for him like Uto but this was all about Hideki Suzuki mauling Nakanoue, and it's not just that they vary their strikes and throw awesome shoot headbutts, kicks and slaps instead of just standing there looking at each other like idiots and exchanging chops and weak elbows for five minutes, they also do the awesome lock ups, shoving, knocking each other off the apron etc. you'll see in older matches too. ***3/4
  25. SHOOT STYLE LIVES! Kinda sort of. This was pretty shooty-pretty much a Battlarts/Futen match with pinfalls, and it was more HC than a lot of those. Loved Suzuki in control, he'd do these awesome details like hook Nomura's leg to remain in control and do the greatest small package in history (not really from the standpoint of milking it out from drama but the sheer proficiency in its execution), if there was ever a small package I would show to someone to convince them you could do it in a real fight it was here. There's also awesome stuff like Nomura attempting the Sakuraba stomps on Suzuki only for Suzuki to catch his leg, Suzuki Kneebarring Nomura and Nomura tring to slap his way out of it, the match in general is very fluid and they do a greatjob of transitioning form one point to another naturally so you have Nomura pin Suzuki>Suzuki kicks out>Nomura immediately grabs the arm and goes for an Armbar and similar sequences that achieve that effect. ***1/4 Hideki Suzuki always works how I'd want Minoru Suzuki to work all the time and if his run lasts long enough I see him becoming an all timer for me.
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