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Found 41 results

  1. 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!
  2. This was fun. I had some structural problems with it and the pacing threw me off (too many times where they were just wandering around setting up the next spot, disliked the ringside brawling) but I enjoyed it thoroughly and it had an exciting finish which didn't go overboard with the kick-outs and ended when it should have. ***1/4
  3. Very fun tag match, specially for an exhibition show/match. It had a lot of really good exchanges and they did not shy away from the stuff people wanted to see the most. Tana was the star in this, as he gave us asshole heel Tana and he's always fucking amazing in that role. His cutoffs were perfectly timed and I loved the little things like doing to Mutoh sign right in from of him after doing a dragon screw. I also gotta give him MAJOR props for making Sekimoto look amazing, Tana let Daisuke chop him hard as fuck, lariat him to oblivion AND do the doble german suplex spot, that's a level of generosity that's rarely seen in a interpromotional match, specially between such a big star and a big indy name. Kento did the most with his interactions with Tana, and he really came off as a star too imo. He had control of the crowd and his defience over Tanahashi felt natural and not try hard. The air guitar bit was Yoshi was fine, he doesn't do anything wrong but his stuff doesn't really resonate with the crowd (and myself), he's just there. The finish kinda hurt because of that, as the pairing to bring to match home was Miyahara/Yoshi, and even though what they did was good, it didn't really got much of a reaction. This really makes me want to see Tanahashi vs Kento - maybe at this year's CC? Tana is gonna be available - and Tanahashi vs Sekimoto, but that one has no shot of ever happening Cool match, kinda long but I was satisfied with what they did.
  4. This is exactly what you would expect from these two -- pretty much an athletic (at least from Keith's end) bomb fest featuring two big guys so it's far from a great match, but I never felt I got bored watching these two. For a guy his size, Lee takes some wild bumps and puts together some crazy spots and Daisuke is just a powerhouse with some crazy strength. Lee has done this type of match before when working with over big guys, so if you dug those, then you'll dig this one.
  5. Riddle's first defense and it's a quality match against Sekimoto. Sekimoto sees Riddle bootless and he joins in on the fun. This a no rope break match and they do a great job using the stip. as there's some subs that involve taking advantage of the stip. This match also proved Riddle's adaptability as he works an entirely different match against an entirely different opponent from this weekend. Some of the highlights include Sekimoto challenging Riddle to a sumo face off that leads to a double underhook and throw from Sekimoto, Sekimoto trying to hit Riddle with a deadlift German suplex which Riddle holds onto Sekimoto ankle and Sekimoto just clubs him in the back before hitting the deadlift, Sekimoto getting Riddle into a torture rack and Riddle countering with a kimura in the ropes and Sekimoto hitting some brutal knees to Riddle's face through the ropes to break it and Riddle deadlifting Sekimoto into a throw. Great stuff.
  6. Looking at this match on paper, I knew there was way NO WAY this wouldn't bang. And it sure banged HARD. Phenomenal FIP segments w/ Daisuke & Thatcher, the chop exchanges between WALTER & Daisuke were brutal + Sawa hasn't lost a step since the last time I saw, which was his previous EVOLVE appearance vs. Danielson. Excellent match. ****
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Both teams agreed to a rematch in the future and I need that shit yesterday because this was fun as fuck. For the most part, it felt like an exhibition more than a bout for points in a tournament, and the length time hurt it, pacing was a little off and the final few minutes felt like overkill as it normally happens with these kind of matches. So a more condensed version of this should be fucking spectacular. Still, all in all, this had TONS to love. I dare anyone not to have fun watching this. I almost spit my drink laughing when 5 minutes in, Yuji just stiffed the fuck outta Daisuke for no particular reason Shingo felt like he belonged right away, as expected - though he needs to fucking chill with those headbutts - I loved how Okabayashi wanted to join him in every single thing, it's amazing how he can be goofy/clumsy/menacing at the same cotdamn time. Sato tends to go under the radar but he always brings it and this wasn't the exception. Another sequence I really liked was when Sekimoto and Sato did the body slams spot - a Strong BJ staple - while Daisuke was looking straight at Yuji like "yeah I'm doing this shit against your ass". Korakuen was rocking and had a blast wathing these 4 guys going all out and I can't blame them.
  10. Welp, they did it again. This was the Nomura showcase in a Strong BJ formula match, and of course it works like a charm. Fun shine segment with Naoya and KAI getting the upperhand over the two beasts before the young kid gets pummeled by Daisuke, from then on we got the always awesome "small team tries to come back against Sekimoto & Okabayashi" comeback story, with Nomura being the stand out, showing great fire and good offense while a really good Sumo Hall crowd rallies behind him. This had dope spots and nearfalls and kept building drama until the end. Fucking awesome tag match, what a year for Strong BJ, best fucking tag team in the world.
  11. A 10 minute sprint were two "Davids" put enough of a fight against two Goliaths were the beasts have to get serious to avoid a huge upset. Korakuen makes this match even better by being really into the action. Loved Yoshino's crafty ass finding ways to avoid being destroyed, and Nomura keeps showing why he's a big promise for the division. It's not a "show stealer" or legit MOTYC, but you will have soo much fun watching it, highly recommended.
  12. What a goddamn big boy sprint! It starts off with an INTENSE lock up & I so loved that. Doering screams "COME ON SHOW ME POWER!" which meant it was time for TEST OF STRENGTH~! - when that was done, it becomes a total bombfest & it's just lovely. 7 minutes of badass heavyweight action. ****1/4
  13. A piece of shit shooter and a bully big boy against the babyface ace and the thicc big boy. Gotta provide at least some stiff shit. This is a weird mixture of light hearted action and bomb throwing. There is no sense of urgence, which is not exactly a bad thing, since they provide some laughs and still put on a good match. Hino and Sekimoto chop exchanges are gross. They are pretty much hitting forearms to the jaw at points, and the sound is loud as shit. Unusual to see Sekimoto being overwhelmed in this type of duel, but it happens here. Miyahara gets his ass kicked by both Sato and Hino and it is glorious. He is a very good underdog in this setting, and even if he does have them lightning kicks, he is blasted with chops and kicks and elbows throughout most of the match and has to fight from underneath. They go into a 30 minute time limite draw, and then ask for more 5 minutes. From them on its just non stop bomb throwing and hot nearfalls, which kinda balances out the more carefree pace of the regular time. Still, no one can actually get the pin. Fun match. Hino is the clear highlight here. He just oozes charisma and some of his offense is pretty unique. *** 3/4
  14. Strong BJ vs The Big Guns brings you the HOSSFIGHTING OF JAPAN PRO WRESTLING. Akiyama vs anyone from the Big Japan team sounds great, and here he focuses on destroying Daichi, and as you might know Akiyama vs young punk has been the best match in puro for the last 10 years and it delivers once again as Akiyama just kills Daichi with brutal knees.
  15. All Japan house shows can be depressingly heatless and that was the case here, I would have probably rated this higher if it happened in Korauken. I am not Sekimoto's biggest fan but he does have a good sense of how to traditionally build a match and fits well into the Nu King's Road matwork>strikes>big moves formula with bigger teases in the firs two thirds. Akiyama is one the rare guys who actually knows how to sell which held all the strike exchanges together and there was a neat moment when he DDT'd Sekimoto on the floor and as I expected the dreaded 20 count he went back outside the ring and blasted Sekimoto with a Knee and a Piledriver as well before bringing him back in. I lowed the dramatic teases of their finishers, both Akiyama fighting out of the German and Sekimoto fighting out of the Wrist Clutch Exploder were exciting and I especially loved how Sekimoto elbowed Akiyama just when I was absolutely certain Akiyama was gonna go through with executing the Wrist Clutch Exploder. Would've been better without some tired transitions in the middle and in a better venue but Akiyama worked violent enough to hold my attention throughout the entire match and the finishing stretch was really good. ***1/4
  16. This was really cool. The Sekimoto and Zeus interactions were the least interesting portion of the match, not that they were bad or anything but they were as standard as they get, Sekimoto is a one trick pony and his trick was never that good to begin with. Super Tiger II may not be a shoot style master but just his willingness to do shooty stuff is enough to make matches more interesting. Murakami was the star of the match as expected, I could watch him just taunt Sekimoto and his stupid face for twenty minutes and he seemed unusually motivated here and did way more than I expected him to. Highlight of the match was the finish, after some dull crowd brawling Murakami just goes berserk and starts blasting Sekimoto with punches in the face and starts throwing chairs around, it was the kind of awesome chaotic brawling I'd like to see more out of japanese wrestling these days. ***1/4
  17. Hideki brings a unique flair to each of his matches, usually matwork and chain wrestling in Sekimoto matches serve no purpose other than to fill time but here Hideki makes everything spectacular, from a Headscissors to a Hammerlock, and the struggle over holds which he brings feels novel in the modern puro. Yuto is an actual young boy and him going after Sekimoto in strike exchanges is a lot more interesting than a regular Sekimoto strike exchange due to the difference in their status forcing Uto to sell every one of Sekimoto's blow like death and also making every time Sekimoto sells for Uto mean more. Sanada looks solid here, and he displayed some nice chain wrestling in the beginning. I could've done with one fighting spirit no sell exchange less but it didn't even particularly bother me honestly.
  18. Let me tell you something, I don't care what anyone says, I don't care what the fans in the arena thought, this match ruled, the modern New Japan fans and all the weaklings that have been conditioned to have their wrestling clean can buzz off. Suwama and Fujita have REAL HEAT, and the match begins with a long staredown which feels like something out of those epic Hashimoto matches I rated seventy six stars, the crowd is perplexed that they would do this and of course turns on them but Suwama and Fujita proceed to have out of this world amazing interactions regardless, slapping the shit out of each other, brawling all over the place, legit busting each other open, it's amazing. Okabayashi and Sekimoto have their usual interactions, and I like two big dudes running into each other with shoulder blocks and exchanging a million chops as much as the other guy but the money is in what Suwama and Fujita do. For all the shit Fujita gets he had no problem getting his ass handed to him here as he suffered severeal visual defeats in the end. Sekimoto and Okabayashi are way more interesting when they're pushing people off the apron and fighting in a match with actual heat. Awesome WAR tribute match. Man do I regret not ranking Kazuyuki Fujita. ****1/4
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