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Found 819 results

  1. I've seen a lot of Inokiism stuff, some of it it good, some of it is weird, inexplicable and beyond ratings, I fully expected this to be chaotic and unconventional but the match ended up being absolutely amazing as well. The first thing that came to mind with the length is the Ikeda-Ono match, but this one is just better and I don't think it's close even. Saying this would be hailed as a MOTYC by the crew that pimps Futen and Battlarts if it had happened that would almost be instinctive but also undermine everything this match was. It was more than that. It was a pastiche of the Futen violence, the morality, stable wars and art of the no finish (best showcased in the 80s wrestling everyone loves so much) and real life politics blurring the line between reality and pre-determination. If you haven't seen it I urge you to watch the match with an open mind. If you have, I'd urge you to rewatch it since 2002 was a long time ago, you're distanced from the impact of the match on the business side of things now, and also your taste has probably changed, I don't think I've seen a single person talk about this *match* since I started discussing prowres online, so it's not exactly like it's been mandatory watching for now. The rest of the review includes spoilers and I think it's better to watch it without reading them, but suit yourself. When Kensuke knocked Ogawa in the beginning of the match it was not only a wonderful moment of violence, but also incredibly symbolic. We had seen Ogawa in positions of peril-but it was the first time someone had done something so shocking and so direct as to just smack him and start mounting on him. It was a true moment of peril-one after which it only made sense his stablemates would run into the ring. That and it was before the bell making it illegal. The next couple of minutes are as tense as any match I've ever seen, and really sophisitcated and simulatenously barbaric. The violence of a takedown, a throw, a punch and a kick are all well known, but displaying that well in a worked environment can be tricky and they absolutely nailed it. I remember hearing Jim Cornette saying something about how a criteria for a perfect match included everyone believing it was real-which sounded silly coming from him-but I don't think there's a match that's as good at that as this one that didn't turn into a real fight. And when Ogawa started shoot kicking Kensuke you even start questioning that-the images of the 1999 incident are just too visceral to ever be forgotten. But here Kensuke recovers, and goes after Ogawa, and hits him and throws him and makes him retreat, which is analogous to a count out victory over Andre, even if the scoreboard may have had it as a no contest. ****1/2
  2. Yuji Nagata vs Kensuke Sasaki - NJPW 01/04/04 Up until the finish, I thought this was a classic, bloody, Dome brawl. I was perplexed why no one talked about this match until that finish, which takes it down quite a bit. Sasaki returns, but not to a hero's welcome. No, he must have been portrayed as a turncoat for leaving Inoki's New Japan to join a short-lived Choshu's promotion that would focus more on pro wrestling. Sasaki fit the 90s New Japan Strong Style well, but Sasaki stuck out like a sore thumb in Inoki's MMA-influenced New Japan of the early 2000s, but he comes back here to challenge Inoki's boy, Yuji Nagata at the Dome. Without the title on the line and New Japan in its nadir in terms of critical quality, I can see why this is overlooked, but I thought this was awesome. They are chippy before the match starts and have to be held back during introductions. It feels like Sasaki is a Choshu-like invader taking on the Hero of New Japan. They just stand up and duke it the fuck out. Sasaki rocks him with a slap to the ear. Nagata tries to fight back and Sasaki hits him a lariat. Sasaki goes for the cross-armbreaker to win the match, but Nagata retreats to the outside. Sasaki whips him into the railing and goes for the chair. Nagata in desperation smokes the chair back into Sasaki's face with a wicked kick. Sasaki does a nice blade job. Sasaki gets a lariat to back of Nagata's head and sends him head-first into the post. Nagata does a nasty, gory blade job. We get the double juice and Nagata & Sasaki stand up in the ring and just throw haymakers, headbutts and strikes. It was fucking awesome. Nagata is left in the middle ring laying and you can see the pool of blood forming around the back of the head. Sasaki just goes vampire crazy gnawing on Nagata and then headbutting him. Sasaki gloats and the New Japan crowd boos loudly. Damn! Northern Lights Bomb! He chooses to go for the ten count. He goes for it again, but Nagata gets a wild kick to the head that rocks Sasaki. Nagata follows it up and you really feel like it going to build to this awesome finish and be a slam dunk 2004 match of the year contender, but then Nagata just puts Sasaki in the Rings of Saturn for like 60-90 seconds until Sasaki passes out. It was very anticlimatic. Up until the finish, a damn exciting brawl. I loved the visual of the double juice with them standing up and just trading strikes in the middle of the ring. Sasaki was actually playing a good heel. Definitely worth a look and see.
  3. UWF top dog delivers a monstrous beating to New Japan's hero, who will not stay down no matter what. Maeda is good as the destroyer but Fujinami's epic selling performance makes this a classic. The top NJPW match of the 80s. ****5/8
  4. I'm trying to put into words how much I liked this match but I don't think I'll be able to do this justice. If the match was about ten minutes shorter I think it could've rated it as a top ten match of all time. It's still an absolutely incredible match, an the crowd never really dies but after a certain point they just aren't buying the submissions as much as they did and it's more of a "clap for rope breaks/escapes/general effort" thing. This was a perfect showcase for both wrestler's abilities, the matwork was phenomenal and they managed to escape a perfect sense of one-upmanship. It is a match that manages to excel both at the little things and the big things, there's a moment where Inoki does a bridge and Fujinami tries to drive him to that and I swear Inoki did the most beautiful bridge I've ever seen, the kind of thing that could only be possible because of stuff like this: The crowd was fucking insane, you get shots of people standing up and not leaving their feet for about ten minutes just mesmerized by the drama of the match, Inoki firing up while Fujinami had him in a Figure Four was one of the greatest spots I've ever seen and Fujinami responded appropriately by pushing himself up as far as he could and trying to rip apart Inoki's leg, the struggle over everything was so well done here and the match also served as a great display for their character though I'd find it understable if people used to gigantic bumps for irish whips and WWF wrestling didn't pick it up (not actually trying to call anyone out here fwiw), Fujinami has a chip on his shoulder and while being a great athlete in his own right doesn't really possess Inoki's strength and they play it up really well, Inoki goes for an illegal Sleeper in the beginning and Fujinami sells it like a huge threat, later on Fujinami uses the same maneuver several times but never manages to damage Inoki as much as Inoki had damaged him, I think that came off really well every time Fujinami would grab a hold for a longer period of time where, he'd just come off as the most tenacious wrestler ever, and later in the match when Inoki stars slapping the shit out of him and Fujinami sells it enough so it doesn't come off as no selling (especially with his facial expression) but no sells it enough so the crowd can put his awesome facial expressions together with him refusing to go down to Inoki's strikes and it's this humongous amazing moment and everyone is losing their shit and pro wrestling fucking rules mate. I also find it amusing how Fujinami's character seems to consistent both in his on air presentation and in scummy backstage videos and stories (him slapping Kevin Nash comes to mind, also there was a video where him and Inoki just yell at each other for five minutes and Fujinami responds to Inoki's weak fifth grader bully slap by Bas Ruttening him). ****3/4
  5. Calling this match shoot style or just shoot inspired might be the easiest way to get it over it but it would provide a shallow and historically inaccurate description. Shoot style was the creation of 1984 and 1988. New Japan continued to have its own style that would come in contact with the shootiness, but really started seriously flirting with it when they had the UWFi feud and then started bringing in Naoya Ogawa, Don Frye and so on. It peaked in the early 2000s as that was the peak of both PRIDE and Inoki's insanity, and you can see it in this match. It doesn't feel like UWF or RINGS or UWFi or PWFG. There's a distinct flair and style in this match-one that has maximized many of the elements of New Japan training Maeda used when creating the original style, but they also appropriate many of the elements used in modern combat fighting of the times such as soccer knees, knees on the ground etc. I know many aren't really fans of it, and politics and workers that couldn't thrive in the style could detract from it, but as far as looking for a good example of it being done right this might be your best bet. The brutality is just off the charts, but watching them fight for guard positions and takedowns and seeing how they set up the big spots is just as interesting. Shibata soccer kicking Fujita right in the eye is up there with the most brutal spots in wrestling history and you get a bunch of zoom ins at Fujita's swelling too. There was something chilling about the whole thing that's hard to put into words, during his entrance Shibata just completely covered his face with the towel and he ended it laying on the mat looking lifeless, as if he was a young lion going to a battle he wasn't ready for. ****1/2
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