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  1. So here's the remainder of my 2003 Highspots DVD. This isn't really why I was interested in the comp but heck these look fun and are outside of what I've been watching lately. Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Yang vs. Fuego (Amazing Red) & Super Dragon (01/13/03) - This is fun to see all of these guys in one ring especially an AJPW. A very nice spot match...very early 2000's vibe in every way. Not necessarily lucha- puro as the following matches but probably as lucha as I've seen in an AJPW ring. Anthony W. Mori, Takuya Sugawara, & Taiji Ishimori vs. Milano Collection A.T., Masato Yoshino, & Shuji Kondo (01/19/03) - Wow, everyone is a baby! This is high speed lucharesu and is a nice bit of nostalgia for someone who gets a kick out of the Dragon Gate 6 mans in ROH. Very fun stuff. ----- Ultimo Dragon & Kaz Hayashi vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero (01/19/03) - I've seen this before but it really struck me as something special this time. Its all action lucharesu fireworks that gave me tingles like 90's Michinoku Pro. Every move was crisp, guys were bumping like crazy and even in the Tokyo Dome fans were audibly excited. This isn't the best Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero match I have seen but man it was an exciting one. I'll call this a great match. ----- Milano Collection A.T., Brother Yasshi, & Shuji Kondo vs. Ryo Saito, Naruki Doi, & Anthony W. Mori (01/27/03) - A slight step down from their match about but felt different as there was a bit more comedy, there was 6 sided ring and a smaller yet loyal audience (as opposed to the Dome show audience from above). Still a load of fun and non stop excitement. Although I only know Anthony W. Mori from Fire Pro Returns, I really want to see more of this dude. Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Osaka Pro Tag Team Champions Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03) Holy cow! Where did this come from? Only know Liger. Murahama maybe I saw a couple times years ago and the Osaka Pro team I remember from Fire Pro Returns (still the best one due to the pre-made roster). But seriously I did not know this match would pack such a punch! This is top shelf lucharesu. Quick action, lucha partner swaps, liberal time given for partners in the ring but still a little slower, stronger emphasis on stiffness, 1 fall with a classic escalation of drama and action. Part of me wants to call this a classic because it was so exciting and unexpected. And there's part of me that wants to dial that rating back a tad for the same reasons. So instead I'll say if you're a fan of Jr. style tag matches, you'll want to see this. ----- From the star ratings on the box, I've under rated & over rated a couple of these. I'm OK with that and totally stand by my opinions. These matches coupled with the NOAH matches make this a pretty great compilation. I recommend checking some of this out anyway you can. Highspots has discontinued all of their DVDr comps but this might be available still on their UK site and people have it on eBay. Or do your internet stuff. Anyhow thanks for reading!
  2. Yoshino makes his fifth defense of the Open the Dream Gate Title against Fujii, a former champion. I always get a kick out of how fast Yoshino runs the ropes, and this match is no exception. Fujii does his best to slow down the champion. We see some great false finishes near the end. This is definitely a good, solid singles match that is worth watching. I just think the Dragon Gate style translates better to tag matches. Read my full review, as part of the 365 Wrestling project.
  3. I've been reorganizing some stuff around the house and was going through a box of dvds. I found some PWG ones that I'd watched 5 years ago. I wasn't really keeping notes and was in a down period regarding wrestling. I just wanted to check out something different. Anyways, I thought I'd give a few things a re-watch and a proper review. Roderick Strong vs. Joey Ryan (Block A Quarterfinal) - skipped...I'm just over Joey Ryan's shtick. Alex Shelley vs. Matt Sydal (Block A Quarterfinal)- skipped, people really dig this. I'd recommend it too! but I've seen it a few times. It's kind of dry IMO. PAC vs. Claudio Castagnoli (Block B Quarterfinal) - Spectacular at times, Claudio was a fantastic base for PAC's moves. Likewise, PAC moved and bumped brilliantly for Double C. Very good match CIMA vs. SHINGO (Block B Quarterfinal) - Not as spectacular but more well developed and paced. Didn't think a ton about it originally but this was **** great match. Nigel McGuinnes vs. Necro Butcher (Block C Quarterfinal) - This was mainly Nigel being awesome in 2007. Good stuff very easy to watch. El Generico vs. Dragon Kid (Block C Quarterfinal) - Skipped wasn't interested. Having Claudio here would also have worked booking -wise Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley (Block A Semifinal) - First off, get the Alex Shelley ROH DVD now if you're a fan of his. Originally watched this after the 2004-05 Gen Next saga including the Embassy stuff. This match TOTALLY extends that feud to 2007 and in a PWG ring...the opening sequences and move theft make this so much deeper than just a very good match. If you know that stuff then this match is great shit! If this wasn't a tournament then they would have went on to wrestle a classic.Makes me wish we got more Alex Shelley in late 2000's ROH. He is truly an unsung great of ROH. CIMA vs. PAC (Block B Semifinal)- I have seen someone call this a classic but I disagree. It is a good spot match with some really crazy stuff. They were getting a little too cute with the moves at times (mainly PAC) but it was a worthwhile watch. El Generico vs. Nigel McGuinness (Block C Semifinal) - I would say this was a very good match but I enjoyed it way more than rating would indicate. Nigel just breaking Generico piece by piece is a thing of beauty...especially skinny 2007 Generico. Don't count the luchadore out though! Chris Hero, Kevin Steen, Tyler Black, Doug Williams, Susumu Yokosuka & Jack Evans vs. Austin Aries, Jimmy Rave, The Human Tornado, Scott Lost, Davey Richards & Karl Anderson- Its fun and there's no comedy b.s. like they would make a habit of doing. A nice match to eat lunch with. CIMA vs. Roderick Strong vs. El Generico (Finals - Triple Threat Elimination) - This was a pretty good ending to a great night of wrestling. Like many tournament finals, its more about the finals being a culmination of the tournament rather than it being an awesome fight. So this was a fun spot based match where it was all big moves with not a ton of story or selling.The right guy won it and that really helps everyone go home happy. This is a no brainer purchase if you're a fan of this era of wrestling. Its akin to an excellent 2007 ROH B-show. Very easy to watch and enjoy the heck out of!
  4. Open The Dream Gate Title Match: Masaaki Mochizuki vs CIMA (c) Great match with an incredible ending with a hot crowd that went nuts for the result. Unlike the Susumu title defence, the grappling was much better this time around with Mochizuki staying focused on the chest, also using it for kick practice as the match progressed. This was a respect filled match as neither tried to cheat in the match. This was a straight match with them telegraphing what each other was going to do, like CIMA stopping the Sankakugeri by Mochi very quickly and Mochi blocking the Schwein from CIMA before lighting CIMA up with the flurry of kicks for the finish. The match was full of net counters like that and it added to the story greatly. This was a truly fantastic match with great wrestling and drama. ****1/2
  5. Open The Triangle Gate Title Match: Italian Connection (Anthony W. Mori, Milano Collection AT & YOSSINO) (c) vs. Aagan Iisou (Shuji Kondo, Takuya Sugawara & YASSHI) While this isn't Aagan Iisou’s final match in the company, it's the last one that was on TV, as they'd be fired on New Year's Eve for behavioural problems. It must have been something big as all five members were sacked. What a rowdy bunch of lads. They were the same in their wrestling as well. In Dragon Gate, there is a big distinction between heels and faces, similar to Lucha Libre in the way I mean, and they were real heels. Kondo has all the advantages in the world with his size and yet he insists on choking Mori with a shirt. That's the type of people they are. The tag team wrestling was spectacular at times. High speed pacing. Great sense of urgency and rush to end the match before someone interferes. Good triple and double team moves. The whole works. Yoshino and Kondo were excellent when paired up, being ultra lightning speed v raw, explosive power, as were Mori and Sugawara. Everyone had their role though and contributed to the match. Including President Takashi Okumura, who sorted YASSHI out. ***3/4
  6. Hair Vs. Mask Eight Man Tag Team Match: Do FIXER (Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi, Magnum TOKYO & Ryo Saito) vs. Florida Express (Daniel Mishima, Johnson Florida, Kensuke Sasaki & Michael Iwasa) I can't believe it. Kensuke Sasaki got pinned! That was unexpected. Obviously it was through Do FIXER antics (freedom salt) but but did the job. The match was hilarious like most Florida Express matches. Do FIXER desperately tried to budge Sasaki to no avail so they attempted to quit the match, which was pretty funny. There was an amusing all inclusive suplex spot, including Hokuto with the punch line being only Sasaki and Hokuto do a moonsault while the rest of the group gets suplexed. This had some rather good serious wrestling as well in short spurts - Dragon Kid and Sasaki could have a real good match in them if it was made. Genki Horiguchi hit some sick dropkicks as well. Fun match. And fair play to Kensuke Sasaki for shaving off his own hair for this comedy gimmick. Respect! ***1/2
  7. Hair Vs. Hair Tag Team Match: Anthony W. Mori & Ryo Saito vs. Aagan Iisou (Shuji Kondo & Takuya Sugawara) Takuya Sugawara shone greatly in this match. He came across as a vile, prick of a man with his facial expressions, dismissive aura and his general look. What he lacked for stand out offence, he made up for in everything else. He and Mori had some really good exchanges with Sugawara bullying the skinny Italian (heh) and feeding for Mori’s hope spots. The spot where he brought in the scissors and stabbed Saito like he was Abdullah The Butcher was awesome as well. He and Saito had some solid double team work as did Mori and Saito who aren't even in the same unit. As for why they are teaming together, I don't know but they worked off each other well in their roles. Kondo was in the match at least but he was great any time he was in. Great power spots, a good game changer for when Sugawara needed help and vital for giving his team the win. Ultimately the match ends with Mori and Sugawara, as they were the main story of the match. Mori got pinned by the Shiisanpuuta, so he has to shave his head. Ryo Saito stops him and offers his own hair. Sugawara attempted to shave Mori’s hair after the fact but Saito stopped him. Strong match with shockingly incredible drama. ****
  8. Sara Del Ray vs Lacey vs Daizee Haze - It was a good triple threat match with nice action. It started out slow but improved as it went on. It was just nice to see women's wrestling especially in this setting. Necro Butcher vs Gran Akuma (NO DQ Match) - Good but not great. I didn't think that Grand Akuma got a lot of offense in. It was a fun match nonetheless. Erick Stevens vs Jack Evans - Very good to almost even a great match. Lots of great moves from Jack. Erick provided a great base for Jack's aerial moves. Not everything hit 100% perfection but it all still looked good and worked great in the setting. This was where the show got started in my opinion. BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe - This was a great match. Lots of fast paced action with good moves. BB Hulk was all over the place and you couldn't even tell it was a small show since he was doing so much. Yamato was still coming into his own but was hitting as hard as Roderick. Yamato had some good moves with excellent German suplex on Roderick. Briscoe and Roderick on offense was really good stuff and everyone really brought their A game. Probably could've been a classic but the structure of the match was more American than the typical ROH/Dragon Gate matches. Black Market and The Heartbreak Express vs The YRR - Good fun brawl the night before the Cage of Pain 2 match. I don't think anyone was going all out considering they had that on the horizon. There were a couple good moves but I would not have made this the main event. However, the booking makes sense in the context of the story lines. In summary, a good DVD. It wasn't blow away awesome as I would have hoped. You can tell from the reviews and the number of matches that I skipped that I wanted to get to the meat of the show. Even then only 2 of those matches were truly memorable. The Erick vs Jack and the Tag match were worth the $5 on Highspots especially if you're looking to get a taste of this era of ROH without hunting for DVDs. Thanks for reading!! Stay safe P.s. I used a different pic for the entry since they advertise the DVD as Dragon Gate vs FIP...change things up a bit.
  9. Dragon Gate USA has been a bit of a blind spot for me as I was losing interest in American wrestling (ROH & TNA) and exclusively watching puro in 2009, the year it took off. Certainly, I was interested as it featured Japanese wrestlers along with guys that I liked at the time like Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards. The problem was that I didn't really care for the style of wrestling. My cable company would have previews of the PPVs and I thought the ring, venues, and wrestling looked rinky dink. Now, I cut my teenage wrestling teeth on ECW, grew to love ROH after college, and adore 90's Michinoku Pro but, DGUSA looked like my local wrestling promotion passing itself off as something more. So, that being said it didn't surprise or please me to see Johnny Gargano or Chuck Taylor on their roster. These were dudes wrestling on Sportstime Ohio at midnight...and rightfully so. What were they doing up against the Dragon Gate talent? It seemed very budget. This was especially true when I was in my cult like devotion to AJPW and AJW at the time. It probably got even worse when I saw Tommy Dreamer was working there. I love me some Dreamer but, what the hell does he have to do with lucharesu? It really looked like Gabe S. was trying to grab at whatever he could from the ROH fallout. It just wasn't for me. Skip ahead 9 years to now, and I have only a slightly better understanding of what was DGUSA. The fact that Evolve & DGUSA were being run akin to RAW and Smackdown does not do it any favors. Its messy...like a little kid with chocolate ice cream. To get to the point, Gargano surprised the hell outta me at NXT New Orleans. The guys of 205 Live surprised the hell out of me. Tapes were on sale (DVDs) and these dudes were on them, let's give it a shot I thought! I got Revolt & Heat 2013. Sat. & Sunday shows held in Socal for Royal Rumble weekend in the Pappy Pavalion. It's a local promotion's space. It probably serves as their gym and a club/music venue by the looks of the space and bar. REVOLT 2013 Skipping the first 2 matches, they were OK I suppose. Rich Swann vs EITA: A few flubs, probably did more than they needed to but, it was fun. Samurai del Sol vs AR Fox: Very good match but, orchestrated. But fuck it, there's 50 people so, it hyped them up. It looks like it would be a blast to see in person. There is a tremendously obese guy in the front that is distracting. Um, Lenny Leonard is calling the match which does give this some prestige. He calls this a classic match but, it's not that good. It is a 205 Live main event level match though so, I'd highly recommend it. Kalisto fans, check it out Sami Callihan vs Akira Tozawa: Again, 205 Live talent in Tozawa but, more Tozawa-y since he's not in WWE. Anyhow, this was a very physical and intense match. The 205 shit goes out the window here. This felt like a fight and was more appropriate for WAR or '90 FMW. Sami was shouting curses at Akira, they were stiffing each other, and people in the crowd were uncomfortable. They came for flip dives and got a melee. They dug it though. What else? Good leg focus and selling of fatigue and the desire to win the contest. This was Champion Carnival level wrestling and a great match. Fans of either should definite see this. Match of the night 1000% Young Bucks vs Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu: This was pretty good as a filler between Sami/Tozawa and the Gargano/Davis main. The beginning was dry as fucking wheat toast but, the middle and end added a bit of butter and jam in typical Jackson Bros. fashion. I'd still give it a recommendation. The Bucks really deliver every match they're in. I left them off my mid year BMW list but, they are def in the running for my wrestler(s) of the year (or whatever the fudge I called that category!). Johnny Gargano vs Jon Davis: It's funny that people still call Gargano "Johnny Wrestling" long after "Johnny Football" evaporated from the Browns and the NFL. It's cool though...it's like Tenryu's Mr. Puroresu nickname. Anyhow, St. Ed's own is charismatic enough to get this semi interested crowd into this. Trust me, for most of the show it looks like Calling Hours with a ring. *rimshot* OK thank you, thank you! But seriously folks- this was a good match. The spots were unnecessarily dangerous (which is fine) and Davis' stiffness was appreciated but, the fans didn't really seem to care to the extent that they should have. It's a blood feud blow off in front of an AA meeting. Mute the TV and I think you'll enjoy it more. The quietness is uncomfortable with the level of violence. Overall a good show despite the crowd. Certainly worth the $5 paid. Let's see how the Sunday Afternoon show (!?) does. HEAT 2013 Yes, a January show called Heat. Maybe it's wishful thinking? In DGUSA's case, they probably should have called it Money... Arik Cannon vs Rich Swann: Very small time Indy feel match but, the crowd is much better. Probably did too much for an opener but, it got people pumped. Jon Davis vs Drake Younger: Also, very weird to see WWE ref Drake Younger after seeing Psycho Shooter Drake Younger. Case in point here. The man is nuts but, athletic and got heart. Frankly, I think this bout is equal to or better than Davis' match with Johnny. Good pace from the start, stiff and brutal offense, and intense throughout. These guys clicked better and Drake was willing to take sick bumps to make Davis look like a monster. Johnny's a little too pretty for that. Where's Davis now? He seems like he'd be a good fit for the Indy Big man explosion. EITA vs Chuck Taylor: A more technically advanced version of Cannon vs Swann. No rhyme or reason wrestling. The Awful Waffle is a extremely dangerous and brutal move for a wrestler of this low standing. Let alone, it has a stupid name. It's like naming your finisher, Pattycake and then you shoot the guy in the face with a magnum...and you have the physique of a high school soccer coach and your name is synonymous with a thin soled canvas sneaker. Johhny Gargano vs Brian Kendrick: This is for the Open the Whatever Gate title. This definitely has a slower title match feel to it. The focus early on is the wrestling. Kendrick truly looks like a professional by picking the younger Gargano apart. Gargano's moveset is very WWE/signature move based already which is a bit undesirable in this style of match. He goes for flash when he should go for utility. There was a ref bump and it was well played. The finish was sorta flat but, fug it! It worked and this was probably the best match thus far. Definitely recommend this bout. Again, 205 Live main event feel. Jimmy Susumu vs Sami Callihan: I'm guessing this went after the title match because of the ref bumping? Small show match from both but, the closing stretch was nice and the fans were digging it. Young Bucks vs AR Fox & Akira Tozawa: Special Dream match. I would have preferred Sami & Tozawa vs the Bucks. That would have been my dream but, this will work Typically solid Bucks heel control and cutoffs. Very nice babyface comeback sequences although spot-fu cheesy at times. But, the fans are pretty awesome at this show. So, Gabe said "give 'em what they want fellas!" Cardio dive sequence combo orgy is a go! Match of the night and a great Bucks style match. Everyone looked great and the crowd was pumped. Nice close and another feather in the Bucks cap of good stuff. The real honor is to Akira Tozawa who had the best matches on both cards. This was another very fun show and worth the time and money. All that said, DGUSA at this stage does not look long for the world and history will show that to be true. The talent is clearly there but, the fanbase is not. I've got one more 2013 DVD which features Gargano vs SHINGO (another reason I decided to look into this- based off SHINGO's awesome 'resurgence' at the 2018 Champ Carny). Depending on how that show goes, I may just go back to the early classics in the DGUSA library. Right now, the show quality are fairly priced at $5. WWN doesn't discount so deeply so, we'll see if I wanna spend the dough.
  10. Talk about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tnv1IhcwlJs&feature=youtu.be
  11. Masaaki Mochizuki defends the Open the Dream Gate Title There is a nice escalation early on leading to a Yokosuka slap after a rope break. Both end up ramming their primary weapon (Mochi's leg, Yokosuka's arm) into the post early. The selling is not what I like, but it works into the story of the early match. Mochi using kicks to the arm is a really good way to use his strength against a targeted bodypart. Yokosuka really works over Mochi's leg and I am digging this match as an arm vs. leg match. Yokosuka countering Mochi's knee counter to a leg grab is a nice nod to their history as partners. I liked seeing a figure four not get turned over. The second figure four has a great Mochi counter. I do like how Mochi tends to fight back against things, unlike a lot of DG/Toryumon guys who just jump on into the hold/move if it isn't being reversed. After the first part of the match they forget about the limb damage (Yokosuka does remember once) unless it is being worked on. I guess it's kind of a difficult proposition working the leg on a guy who is 50% kicks. Immediately after 5-7 minutes of legwork they are doing the high speed corner running spot. They do briefly go back to leg vs. arm and I still really like this match. Finishing sequence forgets all that and we see a Hansen to Kobashi lariat out of the corner from Yokosuka! That had me marking out. Way too many lariat no-selling and kick/lariat exchanges as we reach the end. Especially considering Yokosuka throws a nice lariat and if he did it a couple times a match it would be HUGE. Overall I appreciate a lot of aspects of the style so far. I just think that there are a few really glaring issues for me, such as the blowing off of the leg (don't work the leg so heavy) and the need to do the macho, let's-hit-each-other-to-prove-who-is-tougher nonsense. I realize these come with the territory and I can still enjoy the positive aspects of the match. I will say Mochi is really a giving wrestler and he always seems to make his teammates/opponents look really good.
  12. Losing Unit Disbands 12 Man Three Way Tag Team Elimination Match: Dia.HEARTS (Big R Shimizu, Dragon Kid, Kzy & Masaaki Mochizuki) vs. Monster Express (Akira Tozawa, Masato Yoshino, Syachihoko BOY & T-Hawk) vs. VerserK (Kotoka, Naruki Doi, Shingo Takagi & YAMATO) - Dragon Gate Truth Gate 2016 - Day 2 04/02/2016 A Dragon Gate special. 12 men all in the ring, interchanging at a frantic pace, tons of storytelling in the ring, big stakes involved, incredible wrestling. It could be very easy to be lost in this match but this had tons of memorable spots, even without taking notes. The 1 v 1 v1 exchanges early on was amazing, Doi being a chickenshit and not wanting to do his part was great character work and then we got a brief Speed Muscle reunion. Akira Tozawa lighting up Korakuen Hall with his exchanges with Mochizuki and Kzy, showing tons of charisma and superb wrestling ability. Syachihoko BOY being the underdog of the match, fighting against everyone despite the size difference, even eliminating Shingo Takagi, the Open The Dream Gate champion. Kzy fighting for Dia.HEARTS as the last man standing, putting in a top performance for his team, selling really well for all the match and doing Kzy things. VerserK, or more specifically YAMADoi, showing their amazing chemistry as a team, dominating the match whenever they were involved, double teaming against Kzy for the finish. And I can’t NOT talk about Kotoka going BLAH. Poor guy getting eliminated 5 minutes in though. There is tons to love about this match. Great drama from start to finish. Excellent match. Top 5 2016 match for sure. ****3/4
  13. Talk about it here. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1al5dx_masato-yoshino-c-vs-masaaki-mochizuki-dragon-gate_sport?search_algo=1
  14. Oh man! These two put on a wrestling clinic. A match filled with great back and forth wrestling. Tons of fight and fire between the two. Both constantly struggling to gain control, putting everything they had on the line. Tremendous fiery performances by both. U-T's long ankle spot on Ishida was so well done; one of the few dramatic moments in this match. Ishida's striking was fantastic, especially his kicks and he his selling of the leg towards the end, and the post match, was really good. The closing stretch was all kinds of good too. The kids of Dragon Gate putting on a show. ****1/4
  15. I cannot say what exactly prompted me to explore Dragon Gate. My project from a couple months ago looking at DGUSA was perhaps the genesis (I still have one DVD to go). But, I've become a Shingo fan after the AJPW 2018 Champion Carnival . Then, I saw he is/was in this years PWG BOLA. Oh that's what prompted this! yeah, I have a mountain of older PWG DVDs to watch but, I might have check those out. So, let's get on with this! I'm going to list these in order of viewing so, you can get a better feel for what I saw and have some context for my views. Shingo Takagi vs YAMATO (Kobe Wrestling Fest 2016): Fucking radical sick match! No seriously this was a great match. YAMATO was trying to put Shingo to sleep or break his arm. That war of attrition really helped draw this out into a longer match without necessarily running through killer moves. The Y-man damaged Shingo's wing which both weakened the effectiveness of his strikes AND kept YAMATO in the fight longer than Takagi's ferocity would normally allow. I say that because this resembled a AJPW match more than Dragon Gate to me. The one con (at first glance) is YAMATO seemed sedate at the start. This was my first Y-Man match so, this could have just been ignorance of his style/mannerisms. Nonetheless, this was a fantastic singles match between my two most favorite DG guys. KAGETORA vs Dragon Kid (04/06/18): It's nice to see KAGETORA since my 2010 wXx project and Dragon Kid has been cool with me since the DG influx in ROH more than a decade ago. But, something did not click early on with me. I lost interest rather suddenly...Unlike the above match, this resembled Dragon Gate in bad way. I suppose that's shitty of me but, if it's lost me in the first few minutes, it's not worth me working through the match. It's building on a shitty foundation. BxB Hulk & YAMATO vs Ben-K & Big R Shimuzu (Kobe Fest 07/22/18): Right here I'm going to say this was my favorite match of the whole project. This was Classic tag wrestling! The Big-Ben team is such a back-to-basics team. They remind me of a late 80's AJ team who rely upon energy, effort, and stiffness. Really, the same can be said of YAMATO. BxB Hulk was the weakest participant at the start but, old-age or experience has quieted his flippy tendancies. He's traded that and his dance moves for precision kicks ala Katsu Nakajima. (Speaking of which- check the ref out! The frizzy fro and 70's stache must be a trend in Japan!? Rock it the fuck out dude!!). More about the match: Ben-K and Big R are rolling like true legendary tag machines (sans the metallic pants). YAMATO is about up top on the "Sorry I slept on this Dude" list along with Shingo. BxB is still creepy but, the dude is axe kicking brain stems and I cannot/will not hate that! Mixed this with their amazing chemistry, basic story, surprises and I'll consider this a classic contemporary tag classic. If you're watching Indy Wrestling or NJ even, you owe it to yourself to watch this bout. Shingo Takagi vs Masato Yoshino (07/22/18): So, I had high hopes for this but, yeah this was very super disappointing. It was very 1 sided and Yoshino's repeated comebacks were not believable. I might say this was comparable to the 03/26/95 Aja Kong vs Toyota WWWA match. Similarly, some people loved that and some did not. This was just too long and not very good because of that. This would have benefitted from a 2/3 falls stipulation. Instead we get a ton of kickouts and selling shit like death then popping up like a whack-a-mole trying moves at warp speed. Rysuke Taguchi vs YAMATO (NJPW 05/30/09): Best of the Super Jrs.- Tha Funky Weapon vs the Y-Man- aw yeah! The K-Hall crows is eating this up big time as both dudes are working the crowd. Taguchi starts showing 'Mato that he's NJ elite and powers past any counter attempts. Luck runs out though. Ryusuke is elbowing the Dragon Gater in the face but, YAMATO is actually smiling. Now, it gets straight violent and quiets the crowd. God Bless YAMATO! This is a great match that is truly competitive. Go see this!! Plus NJ has it on their Youtube channel so, you've got no excuses Jushin Thunder Liger vs YAMATO (NJPW 06/03/09) Again BOSJ match. A shorter fun match between these two talents. Liger is such a puro hero. Again, free and easy on the NJ YT. YAMATO & Kzy vs CIMA & Ricochet (08/11/17): Ricochet back in DG and YAMATO just wasn't enough for me to get past the first few minutes. Again, this is more of my preference than saying it's crap. YAMATO & Cyber Kong vs EITA & T-Hawk (12/28/14): A match with clear face/heel roles so, it's hard to screw this up. Both teams impressed but KONG & TOMATO were my team of choice since their stuff was simpler. Hawk & EITA did an excellent job hanging in there with their seniors but, their intensity (or sense of it) was sacrificed for a good performance. That is to say they were being careful. A very good match and Y-Man's star continues to shine. BxB Hulk vs Shingo Takagi (12/28/14): This had a nice into video showing that these 2 have history. Good enough for me! Petty Meltzer gave this ****1/2 and I could see that but, I felt it was a tad below that. It could have been slimmer but here's my take away notes. Pros: Nice Appropriate amount of stiffness (Hulk's kicks & Shingo's elbows & lariat), great execution of moves (stuff looked fought over, pulled off in a believable manner), Good pacing despite 30+ minutes Cons: That being said if this was a couple minutes shorter this would have been a Classic bout. Despite this not being what I'd call a classic (****1/2-*****), I watched this twice in a row. It is just a blast to watch and totally worth seeking out if any of this stuff appeals to you. So, yeah! Pretty awesome stuff overall. Dragon Gate isn't my favorite promotion and even from what I saw it can be hit or miss. When it hits though, it hits as well as NJPW or NOAH for me. So, it's no true surprise that Shingo has been called up to be the newest member of Los Ingobernales de Japon. I loved that promo video NJ released and to have Shingo be the man, ah that's awesome! It's not yet time for my 2018 Best Match Viewed awards but, Shingo is damn near locked to win my wrestler of the year pick!
  16. Fang Suzuki vs Sumie Sakai - Chain Rope, Chair pit & ladder match (12/29/2000 JD'): Not sure if that's the official name of the match...but, it presents a helluva visual, right? This was a great match. I'll just say that right off the Louisville. There were dives, blood, moves on the chairs...it was right there with ECW, FMW, or WWF at the time, in terms of inventive gimmick and actual execution. Even better, they didn't give us the fucking tour of the arena as was the fashion of the time. I liked that then, I won't lie but, only if it seemed organic. I've seen quite a few fights where there is pretty much zero reason to traipse amongst the ticket holders. Anyhow, this was Sumie kicking ass and Fang being an excellent foil. The real joy of the match is in the surprises. They had every right to milk the stips and stomp & headbutt their way into a couple highspots and bloodlettings. I don't want to spoil this for anyone. I will say the finish wasn't my favorite but, was an emphatic end to a war. Great stuff. Susumu Yokosuka vs Milano Collection vs Touru Owashi vs Dragon Kid - 4 Way Elimination Match (08/28/04): Fantastically fun 4 man match! Although it took me a minute to figure out the gimmick w/ the turnbuckle & the hidden golden tickets. What is this Willy Wonka Wrestling!? Really cool match that was pretty crazy once things got goin' and goofy in a good way at times. The stiff lariats from Mr. "Too Many U's in my Name" really helped make this a legit match & balanced the goof troop stuff...so it was real fun, dog
  17. Ah, Dragon Gate, we meet again. I've always said Dragon Gate was fucking boring, and there wasn't a ton exciting about this match as they move through each section in very obvious fashion, but in total it wasn't half bad at all. I'm kinda surprised this match doesn't seem to have much hype to it, because it had all the ingredients of a modern classic, and did a better job at it than the praised NJPW main eventers. Heck, it may be better than the Dunne/Bate match from the same month that got a bit of talk, because unlike that match it made me actually get into on of the characters. The work here is really solid: all the moves look good and some even have a nice snap to it. Often this merely applies to the big highspots with everything between the spots looking lazy, but there is some nice basic armwork from Kzy in the match, and Susumu nearly chops his head off with a lariat at one point. Kzy looked pretty good in general, getting good sympathy and bumping like a madman spiking himself repeatedly on his head to make Susumu's moves look deadly. Sort of like a leftover T2P worker with some interesting holds and a nice dive. His selling of the neck wasn't flawless, but he did sell it and it wasn't as obvious as Jimmy sold his arm on and off. I didn't get much of a sense of Jimmy Susumu, who had a moveset lifted straight from a Fire Pro edit and not much else beside. Most importantly, they worked this at a healthy 20 minutes instead of 40. I smelt the outcome from the first minute, but they did enough interesting stuff to make me forget about it. You can nitpick this type of match to death, saying it was just a by the numbers indy match with a bunch of half assedly sold limbwork, contrived transitions and big moves thrown out which are not even followed up by cover, but all that's to be expected at this point I guess.
  18. I'm overrating this for sure (I mean, probably), but look into these eyes and you'll find no trace of a fuck to be given. This ruled. Fuji is Dragon Gate's resident bruiser and tries to out-Tenryu Tenryu by chopping him really hard and punching him in the jaw and whacking him with chairs. I fully expected Tenryu to dish out something fierce in return but he went beyond even that. The punches and Adam's apple chops were ungodly and he even hit a dive off the stage! Well, it was more of a jump, but still, off the stage! Fuji may be a bruiser among the little fellas of his home promotion, but he's a head shorter than Tenryu and made to pay dearly for his temerity. Tenryu was also great at getting into place for Fuji's offence, like setting up the shining wizard by falling to one knee after being whipped into the exposed turnbuckle, crawling around to set up Fuji's Cena-style legdrop off the top rope. It felt organic and didn't look like a guy blatantly setting up his opponent's move, which was like 70% of what Dragon Gate seemed to be by the time I threw my hands up on it (about a decade ago now). I thought the penultimate punch Tenryu threw was a corker, but my goodness did he top it with the final one. I figured Fuji's head was for getting Oberyn Martell'd all over the canvas.
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