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  1. Now we're back to 2013 AJPW...well Diamond Ring with the two top matches involving AJPW top talent. Its their 08/31/13 show. Akira Hokuto Produce ~ Women's Pro-Wrestling Special Tag Match: Yumiko Hotta & Nanae Takahashi vs Natsuki*Taiyo & Sareee - Clipped here and there but not much really. Good to see Joshi again especially with familiar faces like Hotta & Takahashi to a lesser extent. The younger and smaller team were new to me but they were a lot of fun. This was fun stuff! Hotta and Nanae blasted their opponents in the head a couple times and it was great - in true Joshi fashion. Diamond Ring vs. Voodoo Murders ~ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya Return Match: TARU, "brother" YASSHI & Kengo vs Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya - Very much an Indie 6 man mid card match where you get a little bit of everything but not enough to really identify it as anything other than Good. I think a tag match may have been better. Also clipped a tad so was disorienting with 6 guys fighting at times. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki - Here we have the first of two AJPW related matches. This was a great match. Kota Ibushi was the odd man out as I don't think there's much history with him & the others. Stylistically I don't think he fit as well. He is very good at what he does but thankfully he's not in there a bunch. The heart of the match is Burning vs Nakajima especially Kotaro vs Nakajima. Kotaro was on fire here and Nakajima wasn't far behind. Kanemaru brought his A game as well but is much subtle (like a Shiro Koshinaka or even Christopher Daniels) so you just expect him to be flawless and keep moving the story/match along. That said, this was the match I'd hoped for with a very different finish that was fantastic. I'd probably put this at **** or so. Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara - A near classic match with stories weaving in and out. Kensuke vs Suwama, Suwama former Voodoo Murder member years ago seemingly dealing with the devil teaming up with V.M member Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki against his rivals Omori & Suwama, Miyahara opposing his mentor Kensuke and seemingly hating Akiyama because he exists. And Akiyama is this decade's Tenryu. And the action backs all of that up! ------ This was a enjoyable little diversion having the Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring guys mix it up with the AJPW roster. The two matches that needed to be awesome delivered. Only a few more shows/matches to go. Adding: Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) - I accidentally watched this after the Diamond Ring show. I think everything is like mid 90's AJ and if I watch anything out of order, it will spoil it. Anyone else like that? Of course it didn't matter that I watched this chronologically out of order! and in a way the 6-man Diamond Ring match made this better. I think that tag match is a good build up to this title fight. That aside, this delivered in just about every way. This was the culmination of Suwama vs Go and I feel the culmination of AJ vs Burning as well. Suwama had held off Akiyama and delayed Go but could he actually stop Shiozaki? This was the HARD hitting title fight you & I wanted to see. I legitimately think they took each other to their limit. Shiozaki was bleeding from the nose and Suwama from the chest. Both wrestlers were spent by the final bell. Neither have looked so battered all year. I would have really been thrilled to see some cleverness in terms of strategy (kayfabe work a body part) or a few nifty sequences towards the end. It wasn't that kind of match though. It was like a Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu or Kensuke Sasaki match where its about endurance and pushing through the pain & exhaustion onto victory. That's what kind of wrestler Suwama is so he's not going to get cute & intricate at the end. Shiozaki can hang with that style. I can certainly appreciate that! I'm thinking this is probably the best singles match of AJ 2013 so far. Its a classic heavyweight title fight. Its not an all time classic but I want to see their next meeting and that's good business. Super awesome bonus! Gaora's YouTube channel has this up for your viewing pleasure. Skip the first tem minutes to get straight to match or sit through that to get some clips and backstory. You'll see see some stuff I've talked about in previous posts. And because I am all about spreading the wrestling love, here it is: Thanks for reading!
  2. Lets keep on truckin' with AJPW in the summer of 2013. Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13) - One week after a under the radar great show, we get this big match main event. The 4 biggest stars in Akiyama's AJ going head to head. Omori & Akiyama friends and rivals but Suwama & Shiozaki is ace vs ace and a build up to their long awaited Championship confrontation. I think I have their Champion Carnival match as the best singles match of AJPW so far. They are an excellent pairing much like Suwama and Sekimoto were. The 2 out of 3 falls match is something I have been missing in my wrestling lately (In fact Suwama & Shiozaki have a 2/3 falls match in July but can't find that online and I don't have the DVD...can't get 'em all ). But anyhow, this was one of the matches that got me into watching post-2000's wrestling and here's my write-up from the start of this very blog in 2018: "Here we have one of the few reminents from Muto AJPW, ace SUWAMA and a cast off from Misawa's AJPW exodus in Omori up against NOAH's ace and Kobashi/Misawa pupil Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama. Let's all remember that Akiyama is former tag partners, champs and friends with Omori. Akiyama got to ride the NOAH wave in the 2000's while Omori was surfing relatively low tide in Zero-1 and washed up back in AJPW like driftwood. This was a battle for a lot. Omori had remade himself in partnership with Manabu Soya however. He was not someone to be kicked around anymore. This was Omori's home, AJPW had been through alot in that time and SUWAMA had been there and is still there. This isn't just his home, it's his kingdom. He had outlasted them all. Akiyama wants back in? Akiyama had been gone for 13 years. Ok that's fine but he has to earn it. Shiozaki on the other hand has no place in AJ. He's an outsider through and through. This was a battle. A beautifully long match that harkened back to the classics of AJPW '92-'96. The grappling, striking, layout and pacing were conservative. Therfore, the contest was more organic in its story progression and the escalation of aggression. The 2/3 falls usage was brilliant and perhaps is what made it so damn good. It provided the wrestlers the framework to bring the level of excitement up and down, to be able to rest the fans energy only to build it back double fold. Classic Match! " One thing that I omitted is that Kawada was in attendance and Akiyama used the Stretch Plum on Omori at one point - hell yes! Everything else I can fully agree upon now as well. This is a classic heavyweight tag team match and is as important to the heart and soul of All Japan as their heavyweight singles matches. Now on to the my next DVD, 08/17/21. Masanobu Fuchi vs. Masao Inoue - skipped this KENSO vs. Kazushi Miyamoto - Really good yet simple match. Way better than a #2 match usually is. Just an easy watch. I like Miyamoto in this spot...he's a good addition to the undercard. ----- Argenis & Drago vs. Atsushi Aoki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Fun match, didn't agree with the outcome but that's as a fanboy Liked Drago's execution more than Argenis. Joe Doering vs. Kotaro Suzuki - Under 10 minute David-and-Goliath match. It was something special that I don't see very often anymore. And I don't think we see it shown very well when we do since big guys starting doing dives and shooting star moves. Doering is improving in the last 2 matches. I got to think Muto-AJPW wasn't using him well and his heart wasn't in it. Very good match! ----- Akebono vs. SUSHI - I'm not watching this. Its a waste of SUSHI. Still good for him being 2nd from the top match. Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Suwama & Takao Omori - Classic match, these two teams have great chemistry. Here they go on to have another must see encounter. This is only one fall but just as exciting as their previous bout. Everyone did well but this but Shiozaki's match. He really showed so much as a performer but also as an athlete. I can't wait for the title fight between he and Suwama! I didn't write as much as the tag match above but this was just as awesome. ----- This DVD/show was another very easy watch capped off with a thrilling main event.The next installment should be a Diamond Ring show that features AJPW and essentially introduces Kento Miyahara to the equation & builds the Shiozaki/Suwama tension. Thanks for reading!
  3. Yeah, we're back on track and are in summer of 2013 and the big Wrestle -1 exodus has happened and the AJPW roster is lean and mean. Its Akiyama's Burning stable and a few guys who wanted to stay on like Suwama, Omori, KENSO, Joe Doering & Sushi. From there they are going to have freelancers...you know I think Masa Fuchi is still on as well. And to be frank I'm only going to miss Kaz Hiyashi, Koji Kanemoto & Minoru. They lost some big names like Akebono, Masa Funaki & Sanada but they weren't setting the world on fire every show. This small roster with freelance help is what I was thinking they should do with ROH. Have your core and spice it up and fill in gaps with folks from the outside. Anyhow let's talk AJPW: First off is the championship match with Suwama defending against Jun Akiyama. Which is June 30th so not sure if the exodus started but for our purposes it has. The future is centered around Burning in one way or another. Jun Akiyama vs Suwama (06/30) - This was a great title fight but did feel a bit safe. I understand that though. They are setting Shiozaki as Suwama's true rival yet reminding us Akiyama is the general of Burning. So this is more a story of Burning vs Suwama...and that eventually the Triple Crown will be in their possession. Still its out the for free so if you're just watching the BIG matches, go check it out! So now we're on to the 07/21 show. Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs MAZADA - 11 minutes of fun, energetic Jr. wrestling. Sometimes funny but always interesting, this was a good start to the show. MAZADA with an eye rake. Timeless shortcut! ----- Kazuchi Miyamoto vs Masao Inoue - 8-9 minutes of fun wrestling. Again a little bit of comedy but rooted in good wrestling. Miyamoto who isn't small does a Swanton Bomb - very cool! Joe Doering vs KENSO - Here we get into the meat of the card with two upper midcard favorites. This was very good stuff. KENSO gave meaning to 'knife edge chop' by cutting open Joe's chest during an exchange. Both guys looked good and Joe employed an attack-the-leg strategy that was way deeper than I thought he could go. Had KENSO really sold that in the final minutes this would have been great. No complaints here though. ----- Takao Omori & Hikaru Sato vs Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki - This was the Aoki & Sato show and I didn't know that I would dig it so much! Shoot style purist probably will scoff at this but seeing these two go at it was great. When they both re-entered the ring with their boots & kick pads off, I was pumped. Akiyama & Omori were perfect in their roles. The action was heated, the shots were stiff, and Sato & Aoki were selling the damage in a believable shoot type of way. The cherry on top was the final few minutes. Sato vs Aoki is something I want to see more of. This was a great match. Aoki (RIP) and Sato mid-beating the crap outta each other. ----- Suwama & SUSHI vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki - Going into this, the focus is on Shiozaki vs Suwama and building up a title fight. That stuff is great but little by little this becomes a match about Sushi hanging in there with champion level opposition. And this isn't some walk in the park, he's clearly bleeding from the mouth. But he will not quit or be beaten down! And he's got the Triple Crown champ at his side. This just becomes one helluva tag match. Early on I thought the previous match should have been the headliner but this won me over. Rightful place on the card and match of the night. Near classic match. ----- This was an EASY show to watch & enjoy. 5 matches that were all unique. The one similarity was each made everyone look great especially the lesser known guys like MAZADA, Miyamoto, Hikaru Sato & SUSHI. The former AJ talent was hardly missed. Everyone stepped up and I'm excited once again for AJPW in 2013. Well worth the $3 from your friendly Internet Video Provider *wink wink* Thanks for reading! Stay safe folks!
  4. I've been in a bit of a down period with wrestling the last month or so. I got a Highspots Best of 2003 compilation off eBay a little while ago and I thought it might be the thing to get me back into things. It starts out with matches from the January 10th show. A couple of them are ones that I always wanted to see but never got around to. Looks like a good place to start. KENTA & Takashi Sugiura vs Takuma Sano & Kotaro Suzuki - Man alive this was a Jr. tag fireworks display. Kotaro just set the tone early showing Tiger Mask like speed & agility. Sugiura was the powerhouse while KENTA & Sano were the violent artists. 14 minutes of Jr. action without being contrived or "out of order." There is a difference between this and what was going on in the U.S. at the time. Guys would catch up but this was crisp, clean and engaging Jr. tag wrestling. The finish was the only flaw of this great match. Even then, it doesn't diminish the work. Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka - This is a WAR lover's match. More potatoes than Idaho. Some might more moves but this burns bright with inter-promotional hate. That coupled with a brutal finish makes this a classic tag match in my book! Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue - So I thought the above match was the final but no! We have this dream bout with NJ's Chono getting in the mix. His interactions with Kenta & Taue were like a Fire Pro match come to life. Its different than what came before it and was very much a big time main event style match where you get what you came for. The tanks aren't emptied out but you're still grinning at the end. It's been awhile since I've seen Misawa, Kobashi & Taue so this was a treat. I feel very comfortable calling it a near classic match... ----- Its no secret that I'm a big fan of tag matches and these were totally up my alley. Each was different stylistically yet each was dynamic and engaging. I'm sure these are available online somewhere or maybe you have them on DVD or saved somewhere on a computer, take the time and check these out. If you're a newer fan, its some great stuff from the not too distant past. If you were watching NOAH take shape 20 years ago (holy cow!), these matches will take you back in time to a period of excitement and possibility. Thanks for reading!
  5. This is easily one of the worst matches I've seen in recent memory. Fujita wins the GHC by basically taking a huge shit on Nakajima and thoroughly outwrestling him, and when Nakajima pelts him with ridiculously stiff strikes, Fujita smiles and hands is back to him. There's only one time when it seems like Nakajima can win, after an utterly sick looking running kick to the face (picture a Randy Orton punt, where Orton doesn't give two flying shits if he injures someone or not), and they don't even try to milk it for a near fall or a ten count. Nakajima just tries a suplex so that Fujita can reverse it, and then finish him off to win the title. I can honestly say that if I never see another Kazuyuki Fujita match again, I'll be perfectly happy with it.
  6. Ma Stump Puller

    Violence Master: A Jun Izumida Primer

    Introduction Always neglected when it comes to retrospectives, Izumida has always been a curious undercard performer to me since I started watching a bulk of the AJPW TV segments overall. Behind the goofy appearance and uninspiring look was a tremendously aggressive act that could seriously go when prompted, from huge suicide dives to some truly insane spots for a guy his size. Through he never had any truly big pushes, he was always great whenever given the big stage to show off his stuff, but despite this a lot of the reception (especially on Cagematch and the like) has him positioned shockingly low on the totem pole, where he currently stands in the top 250 worst rated wrestlers on the site...for some reason. (seriously, he's worse than Nailz, of all people) Here, I'll be going through a few of the matches that are the most easily accessible for someone new to check out, as well as some personal favourites. There's more than this out there but this is just the ones that I feel like are most worthy of a primer set: if we were just going through good matches in general, this would be a lot longer, needless to say. What's best to know is that Izumida is basically a really stiff lad, so be prepared for some hard shots that would make even Shibata wince. Vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW 22.03.1998) Probably the most infamous Izumida match out there. Him and Kawada basically have a pretty good sub-5 minute match as he essentially realises that Dangerous K is WAY out of his league, so he chooses to take the fight early by going balls to the wall at the very start and hoping to God that things work out. This involves a lot of diving headbutts, some big spots and Kawada being, well, Kawada. You don't need me to tell you who wins this but it's still a ton of fun and one of Izumida's first big moments, which he takes full advantage of here. Seriously, just go watch this when you can, it's a fun ride. W/ Akira Taue vs. Gary Albright & Yoshihiro Takayama (AJPW 24.07.1998) While a lot of Izumida's showings have him as more or less the bully of the bunch, here he's essentially a lower card act having to swim with some real sharks in the form of two beefy guys who certainly don't give him any leeway. Takayama in particular smacks him here with some truly vicious shots after Izumida shows him up early on by blocking a lot of his offence and Izumida essentially has to ride out the experience long enough and try to get his own work in, hoping Taue can do the rest. This is mostly the Izumida show, however, as he powers through the pair's offence and really gets the crowd going by the end of this when he's holding on to the last straw just to survive. It's a very well done underdog match that has some real nail-biting moments throughout. I've seen this match format a lot in AJPW (namely the rookie teaming up with guys far above his paygrade and having to struggle to survive: it's a trend that's practically always been around in some format) but Izumida is most definitely one of the best when it comes to getting this over in general. I've seen far worse, so maybe I'm just more favourable to this than I should be. W/ Giant Kimala Vs. Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki (AJPW 16.01.1999) No one really knew this was going to be a great match from the get-go, but this somehow mutates into perhaps one of the top tag MOTY contenders for the year in general, not just AJPW. This starts off fairly good as Kimala and Izumida thrive as two big tanks that just hurl around the lighter guys with ease, mixing in some heel work at points to get the crowd more invested in the eventual comebacks of the duo. There's a certain moment in this match where things go from decent to utterly incredible: if you've watched the match, you know exactly what I mean: I'm not going to spoil it here for new viewers, just check the whole thing out but try not to eat beforehand. Izumida and co take complete advantage of the situation and turn it from a potential confusing mess in the hands of less experienced workers to a masterclass in heel brutality. There's a rematch that happened a month later but it's mostly just bleh; a weak attempt to catch lightning in a bottle twice. A great heel showing for Izumida that puts him over big time as a horrifically dangerous opponent. This arguably was the match where "Violence Master" became not just a nickname, but raw reality. W/ Giant Kimala vs. NO FEAR (Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori) (AJPW 20.02.2000) Not going to lie: most of Izumida's match material with Kimala is either alright or just downright bad at points. They don't tend to have good matches usually but when they NEED to step up like here, they absolutely do so. Izumida takes a beating but unlike the Taue match, he shows that he can dish it out with some big headbutts, lariats, and outright stiff slaps. He can hang with the duo but just misses the mark due to NO FEAR's superior experience in brawls. Izumida shows that he can sell incredibly well as his injured mid-section is absolutely honed in by the NO FEAR pair throughout as a clutch to keep him in control, of which he builds very nicely to a Kimala hot tag, of all things. Unlike the last match where he was with someone who needed to carry him out of pure raw strength (in kayfabe, naturally) here him and Kimala are positioned as a true balanced duo, landing lots of goofy and at times sensational double team moves, helping each other out of very sticky situations. Izumida more than proves that he could more than have a competent match out of probably one of the best tag teams of this year (seriously, 2000 is a banner year for Takayama/Omori in general) but this is a great showing for things to come and a solid introduction to Izumida's modern style going forward. Vs. Takeshi Rikio (NOAH 25.01.2001) Izumida takes Rikio, whom at this point is a competent but pretty middling rookie singles act who seems to be only good in well coordinated tags to one of his best singles matches as of date, which is remarkable given Rikio's only real "good" match beforehand was with Misawa: a very high bar. Brutal, nasty, downright overkill at times. It's just two very meaty ex-sumo lads basically just hurling around in various ways and really just beating the crap out of the other. It's hard to use so many words for "stiff" but THIS is stiff, and it used in such a manner to enhance what would be a run of the mill match to something far more. Izumida lives up to his moniker and gives Rikio a ton of space to rail on him at points with some truly devastating stuff. By the end of this the crowd is popping for everything like this is Kobashi/Misawa or something crazy over like that, getting incredibly invested for every near fall this gives. This is clipped but still feels like a full-length match by the balls to the wall pacing and effective usage of big bombs. Vs. Takeshi Morishima (NOAH 13.03.2004) This is for Morishima's WLM belt (a American promotion that NOAH regularly worked alongside and trained people) and is actually the main event of the entire event, which was a cool gesture. Anyway, this goes how you'd expect it to go, but this shows how effective Izumida is at control segments and cut-offs, able to recover after a early beating by a insane diving headbutt from the ropes to the outside before focusing on Morishima's taped up leg for the duration of this match. He combines stiff slaps, chops, headbutts, alongside some surprisingly innovative technical work and agile spots to keep control his throughout. He shows that he can dictate a match (as seen above with Rikio) almost completely by himself, managing to get some good crowd reactions throughout this bout and building to a really fun comeback sequence and finishing stretch where it's just a mad scramble. Morishima's selling is bad when it comes to extended selling (like he'll scream and cry throughout the holds and working segments, but he'll almost switch that mode off as soon as he's free to work and he'll NEVER change his usual work to accommodate) but he's a good bomb thrower who is quite over with the crowd at this point, so this mistake is forgiven in their eyes. Izumida gets about as much as you can get from Morishima at this point and time and then some. Conclusion As stated above, this is just a helpful primer to Izumida's style of work, as well as a wide range of different matches where you can see how he can play both a confident underdog or a brutal heel with little regard for his own and his opponent's wellbeing. There's a lot more out there if you search around and some really fun matches that I left out of here to keep this simple and concise as all of these can be just easily picked up and watched without any additional context or pre-match watching. Hopefully you enjoy and appreciate one of the lesser heralded stars of early NOAH.
  7. We're back and going to look at 04/25 & 04/26 AJPW. Its the Champion Carnival tour. Akebono vs Jun Akiyama - Short match but good. Akiyama gets an Akebobo singles match worthwhile. Hirosho Yamato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Quick somewhat average match with a very good finish. Reminded me of a early 80's AJ Jr. bout. Joe Doering vs KENSO - The giant gaijin manhandled KENSO but they had a good match. Good chemistry but they have a better fight in them. SUWAMA vs Seiya Sanada - Another good match but really by-the-book and frankly I'm not sure they're good opponents for each other. Sanada can't match stiffness with Suwama so his elbow strikes look weak in comparison. There was a story worked but it was bland which shouldn't be the case with two of you top wrestlers. Go Shiozaki vs Takao Omori - Chain wrestling to begin which almost feels like a throwback in 2013. But I think that's the "point" of Akiyama back in All Japan. Anyway, Omori injured Go's neck and uses a variety of offense to target it. Takao looks to have the Burning ace's number. Go isn't going down without a fight and he's got to really fight his way back into the match. Its a simple but effective story and really harkens back to late 90's AJ. Great match. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Minoru gets hurt early (real or story? Great selling) and his opponents smell blood in the water. Koji has got to get violent and buy his partner time to recover. Koji & Aoki's grappling was awesome stuff as were all of the kicks, suplexes and double team moves. I felt like anything could end the match especially with Minoru's limitations. This is one of, if not the best feuds going on in AJ at this time. If you're a fan of Motor City Machine Guns or really 06-08 ROH tag stuff then you will dig this. I felt it was a classic Jr. Tag match classic. 03/17/13 was a little bit crisper but damn this is a worthy rematch. What a main event! Now we're onto the next show 04/26. Sushi vs Kanemaru - A darn good match that told a simple story (hurt neck vs hurt leg). The important part is that they stuck with it til the end. Sure they did some exciting moves off the turnbuckles or dives but it was all within the realm of believability. Sushi is climbing up the ranks. Stack of Arms vs Last Revolution - 6 man match where Shuji Kondo was never tagged in nor was Minoru Tanaka (maybe he did get hurt? Cool to see they're sticking with it either way). It was an OK match but so short given the teams that you can skip this. Jun Akiyama vs Joe Doering - A good ***1/2 sub 10 minute match with intensity, surprises and therefore drama. Doering reminds me of Mike Awesome in FMW to an extent. I like that. Kanemoto & Nakanoue vs Suzuki & Aoki - Another ***1/2 match that keeps the fire burning. The finish was almost a shoot with how outta nowhere it was. I dug that. KENSO vs KAI - KENSO is so very popular especially in these smaller venues. I might be missing something but I guess he's pretty charismatic. KAI is much more similar to a Misawa/Akiyama favorite. Anyway, this was a HARD fought battle. It was perhaps the most physical match I've seen KENSO in. He gave it as good as he got though. He blistered KAI with chops, kicks and slaps. KAI's chest was purple by the mid way point (it was healing from the previous night). KAI in turn kicked Mr. Chrisma's ass. Both guys gave 100% and were the best bout of the show. Great match and KENSO's best singles match I've seen. I wouldn't say it was a show saver because everything else was short and fun to watch. But that felt like an AJPW match instead of a ROH TV match from 2018. So I would recommend the 04/25 show over the 26th, if I had to pick one. But I would still say both are worth your time. Pick and choose if you like. I think I skipped a couple that might have been available online. The 4/27/13 show is next and looks to be a bigger one. Thanks for reading!
  8. We're going back to the 04/20 (Blaze ) show from 2013 and then moving on to the 04/24 show. These are smaller events so nothing on paper is mind blowing awesome but let's see. First thing first, I only have access to what has been uploaded so perhaps I'm not capturing the full experience but this is a review of what I've watched. Take it with a grain of salt. The two actual Champion Carnival matches (Funaki vs Doering & Kono vs Suwama) can be skipped from the 04/20 show. I felt that they were boring. From that we have two tag matches that are more interesting. Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Sushi is like Curry Man if you remember that Chris Daniels gimmick. Comedy but he can wrestle. Nevertheless, that doesn't bode well for him facing Mr. Sterness. In a twist of fate Kanemaru gets injured and its Sanada & Sushi 2-on-1 so dammit they have a chance! This is a fun match. KENSO, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki - Burning vs Stack of Arms/Jr. Stars continues and this is the best match on the show. Aoki & Kanemoto grappling was a real highlight. Lotsa action and KENSO & Go's interactions were interesting since the K-man isn't your traditional 2010 puro guy. Anyhow very good match that keeps the feud going. This was a very good match. 04/24/13 Masayuki Kono vs Takao Omori - Another example of Omori being an underrated worker. He's the guy who's having smart work-a-body-part match every show. That makes this something above the average and a good match with the limited Kono. Kaz Hiyashi, Shuji Kondo vs Hiroshi Yamato & Nakanoue - This was a fun match but Nakanoue is lowest man on the totem pole so the outcome wasn't in doubt. Good double team moves. Sanada & Sushi vs Akiyama & Kanemaru - Same pairing as 04/20 but this was a different match and a mid-card storyline! Because of this, I think this is better than the first match. Good stuff! Kotaro Suzuki, Aoki & Shiozaki vs KAI, Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka - A bigger feeling match than the 04/20 6-man. We get high quality interactions in KAI vs Shiozaki, Minoru vs Suzuki & Aoki & Kanemoto. Aoki's arm destroying moves inspired ZSJ without a doubt. This was a great match and the best bout of both nights. If you just wanna sample one match, this is it! Both nights were clear B-shows as the venue and spotty attendance indicated. There's some good stuff nonetheless but I would focus on the 6-man matches if you're just looking to dip your toe into 2013 All Japan. Thanks for reading and stay safe folks!
  9. This post is all about the early parts of Champion Carnival for 2013. This stuff is out there online for your enjoyment. But no screen shots to give you a taste. I'm watching these on my living room TV/streaming rather than the trusty one hooked up to the DVD player. You don't care about that. You want wrestling! Here it is! The first two matches are from April 18th: Seiya Sanada vs Takao Omori - This felt like a Champ Carnival of old where the finish actually played off working over a body part. We don't really see that enough anymore. Sanada is really fun to watch here and Omori doesn't get enough love. Just a really smart finish, very good match ***3/4 stuff. Suwama vs Go Shiozaki - The meeting between Shiozaki & Suwama has been building up since Akiyama's Burning stable invaded AJ at the start of 2013. Here we have it and this did not disappoint! it is everything you'd want in a first fight. Not bloated yet not rushed or cheap with its finish. Classic Champion Carnival match. You really should check it out! Jun Akiyama vs KAI (04/21) - This begins as simply an average match with a couple neat sequences and moves. That's OK, however it continues to escalate and becomes something special. Akiyama was not going to let some young punk beat him in the Champions Carnival. That punk doesn't even belong in the Carnival! KAI was fighting for more than just a win. He was fighting for his chance to be recognized as a main player. A gutsy performance from him and Akiyama is 2010's Tenryu. These are the types of matches I'm looking for in 2010's puro - hard hitting matches that are not afraid to take the time to sell a simple story. A great match for sure. There we have it! Very impressive stuff that I never heard much about at the amid the NJPW buzz. For those keeping track, I skipped the 04/20 show for the sake of having 3 matches for this post and not cutting April 20th up at all. i have way more footage available so that will be more like a typical show review.The order is irrelevant 9 years later, right?! I'll circle back around for that show next time. Overall, 2013 has been pretty great stuff and I'm thrilled that this footage is still up after all of this time. Concerning AJPW in '13- The Burning crew has really invigorated the company and many of the top talent that would leave to form Wrestle -1 is still there. So there's been some fantastic Jr and Heavyweight matches as a result already. I'm very enthusiastic about this project Stay safe folks!
  10. This is only what I was able to find online for the 03/17 super show. There's a good looking Omori/Soya vs Akiyama/Shiozaki match but there's no sign of it. So like I said before we say goodbye to Soya then. Kinda bummed but I'm not complaining about what's available as you're about to find out. AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs Kaz Hayashi - This is an awesome 14 minutes of Junior wrestling fireworks. It never overstayed its welcome which many junior matches do anymore. Its a great match! Kaz Hiyashi really impressed me and Kanemaru is like the Shiro Koshinaka of the 2000's. All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki - Holy crap! This was awesome! I was losing my mind at the end. At 20+ minutes this ended just when it needed to and as a result we get a classic Jr. tag match. I think both sets of guys were excited to have fresh opponents and wanted to put on a phenomenal performance. They certainly accomplished that goal. Triple Crown: Suwama vs Masakatsu Funaki - A much slower pace than the two Junior matches but this was like 2 heavyweight boxers going at it until the final round at which point they tried to go for the knockout. But in all honesty they could have done it at any point IF they were facing lesser opponents. Its Masakatsu Funaki trying to knock out or choke out the ace of AJPW. Its SUWAMA trying to pin one of the most dangerous grapplers and pioneer of MMA. This was a great slow burn main event title fight. It was like Hashimoto's IWGP title reign. No its not Misawa vs Kawada but dammit its intense physical wrestling! You feel like you watched a struggle. Theses bouts are out there online so if you've got the time or inclination, go watch them! Very exciting stuff already for 2013 AJ. Thanks for reading and more stuff on the way shortly!
  11. Now we move on to AJPW in 2013. This should be one of my longer projects of the year as I have a bevy of matches available online to bolster my DVD collection. I'll say I'm really digging 2013 from what I have seen so far. Here is my first show & dvd. Per usual, I skip stuff that I'm not interested in. If you're feeling these matches then by all means, watch them & let me know 3 Way Match: KENSO vs MAZADA & Andy Wu - A squash for KENSO which was pretty enjoyable. Masanobu Fuchi & Reid Flair vs Tomoaki Honma & Kazushi Miyamoto - I'm sure there is merit to this but I didn't want to wait for it to happen. Suwama, Joe Doering & Shuji Kondo vs Akebono, Ryota Hama & SUSHI - Great use for Akebono. Fun match. Masakatsu Funaki & Masayuki Kono vs Seiya Sanada & Yasufumi Nakanoue When Sanada was in this was a really good match. Gratefully this was the final third of the bout. He vs Kono was pretty awesome. I'd say that this was ***1/2 tops but I really dug that final third. Wish we got this Sanada in ROH! AJPW World Tag Team Title Skirmish - All Japan vs. Burning: Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Kaz Hayashi - Absolutely the best bout of the night! The announcer can't finish the intros before Omori attacks Akiyama. The pace was vigorous and didn't let up. Suzuki and Kaz were the whipping boys but showed maximum heart enduring the punishment. Everyone except Kanemaru was in there for a good display. What he did do was special stuff especially with the Caveman Soya. Eventually Kaz & Kotaro were back in one on one and put on a fireworks display. This is the match I bought the DVD for and it definitely delivered! This invasion feud (somewhat real) injects AJ with some pep and excitement that it needs. Near classic encounter and the melee after the bell only makes it sweeter. Since I'm doing stars this post, ****1/4 seems right without overrating...cause this was exciting stuff! ---- All Asia Tag Team Title: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Hiroshi Yamato & Hikaru Sato - Starts out just OK but picks up to be a very good tag team battle. There's some very exciting moments and the last few minutes are the best. This is the main event but I knew that this wasn't going to be the best. I'd say this was *** 3/4 though. Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka are always worth watching in my book. Pretty good show with the 6 man being something to watch. I'm partial to tag & multi man matches though. The 6 mans of the late 80's and early 90's are some of my favorites. Anyhow, I believe this is the final match I have of Manabu Soya in AJ. Not sure if the exodus started yet but I had a blast watching him. He's one of my faves. Clearly the Burning stable from NOAH has invaded and this will change the landscape of AJ as well as provide a bunch of fresh match ups. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more AJPW 2013!
  12. The opening was good enough-basic matwork and Tanahashi continously evading and blocking Shiozaki's chops. Unfortunately that mini-atory was quickly came to an end when Shiozaki randomly and forgettably chopped Tanahashi to little reaction while fighting over...some leg-based move, probably a dragon screw. This is one of the worst Tanahashi performances I remember seeing-the majority of his offence consisted of embarrisingly looking gut/knee kicks that were straight out of a 1999 Raw in their impact and borin lg and repetitive leg attacks. Tanahashi absolutely outclassed Shiozaki in star presence and reactions-the crowd was way more invested in cheering and (more prominently) booing Tanahashi than reacting to Shiozaki in any way. Shiozaki's performance wasn't much-he didn't sell the leg as you'd expect, he'd get in his chops, kesagiris and Lariats and then let Tanahashi direct the match again. He also hit his own hand while attempting to strike Tanahashi and managed to botch some kind of afallaway slam so hard it didn't look like a move oalr a counter. I can enjoy botches-Shiozaki stiffing Tanahashi on a Moonsault by kneeing him straight in the head was fun-as long as the wrestlers imorovise well. The said Moonsault rocked Tanahashi for real and made their finishing stretch slower and the cooperation more obvious and full of botches, basically how it would look like if someone were to make a parody of modern New Japan finishing stretches. *3/4
  13. Sorry for the delay! No real reason other than I've been watching WCW stuff from the Rise and Fall of WCW, Brian Pillman DVDs and a couple YouTube videos. This is my final Full Impact Pro DVD review and its been a really fun trip. Let's get on to it and then I'll have some closing remarks. Erick Stevens vs. Tyler Black (#1 Contender's Match) : This started with chain wrestling but this wasn't really their forte. It wasn't bad but it was uninspired. And ya know that's what the match felt like. NOW I'm nitpicking because they could have killed it. The final third proves my point. This part was great stuff. But given that this wasn't at the top part of the card, it did its job. Very good match though. MsChif vs. Rain (SHIMMER Title Match): This was a good match but ended when it started to pick up. Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong (FIP World Heavyweight Title Match): This should be the main event so no idea why it's here on the card. Its for the damn main title with Mr. FIP Roderick Strong and the foreign heel. I'll be honest, this was my main event as I watched it last. OK that aside, this was a very well built match. The level of intensity & complexity escalated as it went on, selling along the way. Just about hold or throw was fought over. Their struggle felt real. Things weren't polished or rehearsed. I've been watching NWA/WCW from 87-90 and this felt a lot like that. There were some shenanigans but again that harkens back to that 80's stuff as well. I will call this a classic. Kenny King & Jason Blade vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe (FIP Tag Team Title Match) : This was a rematch from the best match of Unstoppable 2007...one of the best at least. Its been so long! But not only that but its been awhile since we've seen Jay & Mark together. And man! Its a really good one. This is more of a traditional tag match yet full of action when it counts. Again more shenanigans though. Sal Rinauro vs. Chris Jones (FIP Florida Heritage Title Match): No clue why this was the main event. Yeah they build it all up the whole show. But neither guy is main event material...I had this inkling ahead of time. It was a nice story but not top billing. So that's it! Now it went out with a bang since I watched Shiozaki vs Strong last and not Rinauro vs Jones...sorry dudes. Anyhow parting remarks - Watching this has been fun and is full of lost classics if you're a fan of ROH style. Seriously there are a few shows that are diamond in the rough ROH B-shows...especially 2007 & 2008. Stuff earlier than that is worth checking out but if you just want to get the most bang for your buck..get the 2007 & '08 shows that interest you. But also get Strong vs Evans...I think that might still be my top match of FIP. Read the different show reviews since I probably won't do some matches or shows justice now. Plainly, if you are a Roderick Strong fan then you would be a fool not to get a few of these DVDs. Strong vs Evans, New Year's Classic 2007, this show Fallout 2008, and Dangerous Intentions 2008 are no brainers. Heatstroke 2007 Night 1 also...stay safe folks! THANK YOU! I really appreciate you reading and keep watching old wrestling