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  1. Let's go back to 2011 and see what I missed the first time around. I'll post the links to the Gaora YouTube videos for your enjoyment: Minoru Tanaka vs Kaz Hiyashi (01/02/11): This was a very good junior battle with two legends of the style. I think they have something better in them but this was still pretty good stuff. My issue is with how they're not really transitioning control from one guy to the other. It does seem a bit like 'your turn-my turn' and I'd like to see a reason why Minoru is able to now do his arm bar or brainbuster after getting whooped on for 3 minutes. Same goes for Kaz. And this is the whole thing. They have really great sequences planned but no good or simple way to get to them other than 'OK now we do dueling kicks' or 'now we do the turnbuckle spots.' And they are impressive and athletic on their own but putting 20 of those in a row doesn't make a great match. Watch below and maybe you will feel differently. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-nkbRoz6Yjk&list=PL9GbOLsWy6qLCD-R4zPkA9lUAtbzj06bm&index=4 Suwama (c) vs. Taiyo Kea (01/11/11): This was a smart match especially by Kea. He stayed focused on working Suwama's neck. And well Suwama worked Kea's ribs throughout. So I really liked that. And this was a good fight. I'd say it ***1/2 stars. Just really solid heavyweight wrestling. Sanada/Soya vs Yuji Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto (03/21/11): This was a classic tag match in my book. I think 3 out of the 4 guys wrestle like Riki Choshu/Kensuke and the 4th guy like prime Muto so as long as they stick to that then we're gonna get a very good bout. But this is for the tag belts and they bring everything. Strong BJW is a really fantastic at this time in AJ. This isn't on Gaora but your 'day to day movement' video website has it for you. Search it out! Suwama & Masakatsu Funaki vs Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (05/15/11): Great inter-promotional tag battle! Hard hitting, spiteful stuff. Nakanishi does not get the love he deserves. There's not a ton to go on about here. This is exactly what I wanted and expected. Firm **** stuff https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2j0IrWl-9t4&list=PL9GbOLsWy6qLCD-R4zPkA9lUAtbzj06bm&index=7 Yuji Nagata VS Seiya Sanada [2011 Champion Carnival Battle]: Sweet sassy molassy Sanada took a beating. This was a near great match where Sanada took the pain train. An absolute treat to watch for a Yuji Nagata fan - striking mixed with grappling. He was really testing Sanada. But in all fairness Sanada really got a boost going toe to toe with such a decorated wrestler. He kept things fun and the outcome was in doubt. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LDiVWNX_p9Y&list=PL9GbOLsWy6qLCD-R4zPkA9lUAtbzj06bm&index=87 KAI vs Kenny Omega (Junior League Match 2011) : Yeah this was borderline great stuff. I continue to be a fan of KAI. Kenny was pretty hit or miss. He's got his mannerisms that work in some regards. When he's selling his abdomen injury then it works but once he moved on to just selling exhaustion/punch drunk it gets a bit melodramatic. That coupled with his ability to snap out of this fatigue/stupor to do drop kicks and other cardio moves takes away from the match. He's just waiting for his turn. That said KAI doesn't get into this behavior. He is the rock of the match and doesn't get too swayed to get carried away. I originally ordered a DVD with this match but got sent the wrong one (which features the awesome KAI vs Kanemoto match). So it was nice to see this finally but am quite happy that I got the Kanemoto match instead. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nGKO7Sz-1no&list=PL9GbOLsWy6qLCD-R4zPkA9lUAtbzj06bm&index=74 --- A pretty fun little project. Definitely seek out the Soya/Sanada vs Strong BJW tag match. Then go watch the Nagata matches. The links are above so you've got no excuse Thank you for reading!!
  2. 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!
  3. Here we are back in 2013 -again! Some kind soul posted these since my 2013 project wrapped up. I stumbled upon them will looking for 2014 stuff. This is some really nice wrestling so let's take a look! Minoru Tanaka, Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Yamato vs Atsushi Aoki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki (04/29/13) : Thought maybe I saw this but, no! So this was from the 2013 Champion Carnival final night. First things first, kudos to the dude who gave Aoki the double birds right in his field of vision while stomping his opponent. Then kudos to Aoki for getting up in said dudes face Hahaha! That's was hilarious! All that said, this was SICK! The top juniors in the company in one ring, all with beef - this was top shelf stuff. It was so aggressive yet intricate that nothing came off as overly contrived. It just felt like rivals going to battle. It made me realize how much I missed Kotaro and Kanemaru in 2014. Aoki is so much better with Kotaro than Sato and this match is proof (nothing against Sato). But Minoru, Kanemoto and Yamato were just as fantastic here. The feud of Burning juniors vs Stack of Arms/Junior Stars is the best of the year thus far ('22). Its been awhile since I saw the original matches but, this is an amazing reminder. Classic junior 6 man match. Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Hiroshi Yamato - 06/02/2013 - This match is a direct response to the 04/29 match. Great, great 15 minute junior title match. The first 5 minutes are some of best sequences I've seen in awhile. Shit, it might be one long sequence actually. It doesn't really drop off from there too much if at all. Just the unpredictable element of those 5 minutes was top notch. I think as the match continued, I generally knew where they were going. However, they still sprinkled in twists and turns that made this pretty awesome. Kanemaru in 2013 (along with Aoki & Suzuki) is rad. Jun Akiyama and Go Shiozaki vs. Joe Doering and Suwama - 06/02/2013 - 28 minutes of classic tag wrestling. The final few minutes elevated this for me. There were a couple spots that I feel were cutesy or for visual effect rather than what you'd do in the heat of a fight (especially heavyweight wrestling). But I mean that's 2010's and later wrestling, isn't it? I'm nitpicking because it was really exciting & dramatic stuff. Again, the final moments eliminated any reservations that I had. This is a classic bout. It is a tag match-up I wanted to see during my initial coverage of 2013 AJPW and it delivered - sweet! Atsushi Aoki and Kotaro Suzuki vs Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo - 06/30/2013 - I wanted to like this one and have a proper sendoff for Hayashi & Kondo. It just wasn't happening. You very well may dig this match and it was spectacular and full of cool moves. But that's all it was - a bunch of cool moves. No rhyme or reason and right from the get-go. Its the worst tendency of Kaz & Kondo to just go balls to the wall like early 2000's Indies and we get that here :/ I watched 12 or so minutes and just knew this wasn't going to get better by being longer. Atsushi Aoki and Go Shiozaki vs. Suwama and Takao Omori - 9/19/2013 - In contrast to the above match, they kept it simple, built up the drama & intensity and had a very very good tag match (***3/4+) in front of like 1/4th as many people. A fine way to end this revisit of 2013. I'm not selling how fantastic this is but its pro wrestling done right. All in all this was a very enjoyable mini project. I try not to go back to anything just because I have so many other projects and ideas for the future. However 2013 AJPW is so good and my 2014 project was a tad shorter than I wanted. All of these are currently available to watch on that most popular of video sites. Get em while you can! I highly recommend you do! Speaking of going backwards on projects, I actually found a batch of 2011 AJPW matches on the Gaora YouTube page. I'd like to review those next as well as share the links so you can enjoy them as well - guilt free After that, I think I'm going to watch what little AJ 2015 I have. I might mix that in with some other 2015 stuff perhaps like BJW, Wrestle-1...we'll see. Thanks for reading! Keep staying safe folks!
  4. This final installment of my brief look into AJPW in 2012 takes place on 11/27/12. There's some other stuff on the show but I'm giving you the last 3 matches as those interested me most. Masakatsu Funaki/Masayuki Kono/Minoru Tanaka/Koji Kanemoto -vs- KENSO/Hiroshi Yamato/Kaz Hayashi/Shuji Kondo : A very good 8 man match that I was surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did. The opening was pretty exciting but a good portion was Yamato getting his ass kicked by the very dangerous Stack of Arms team. His comeback and tag out to KENSO was really great! He is a fantastic AJPW-as-Indie star. The finishing section was really good and at 16 minutes this was well paced. A good story, nice action and an impressive ending - this was quite enjoyable. ----- Takao Omori/Manabu Soya -vs- Taiyo Kea/Seiya Sanada- Great Real World Tag match! Hard hitting, excellent grappling, tons of heart and although we don't get a definitive outcome, this was top notch stuff. Everyone was just on the top of their game. ----- Akebono/Ryota Hama -vs- Suwama/Joe Doering - Hama is a big fat guy like Jerry Blackwell who can work. He works best with hard hitters such as SUWAMA & Doering. Akebono is more like Bill Kazmier - a great perhaps legendary athlete from another sport who has the build and aura that would work in wrestling but it just doesn't belong in the ring. That being said, this was a good match especially when Hama was in the ring. Akebono is overpowered or Doering & SUWAMA are nerfed when he's in the ring. The previous match is your real main event. but this has its moments. I can't wait to see Doeing & SUWAMA (Last Revolution) in a real match. 2012 AJ has been pretty good. Daisuke Sekimoto had the two best matches of the year with SUWAMA in singles and tag in March. Since then there has been a smattering of great stuff especially tags. 2013 marks the beginning of the Akiyama era and the exodus of some of the Muto loyalists to form Wrestle-1, RIP. So I'd recommend checking some stuff out from this period. I was pretty brief but tried to pick out quality stuff with no reviews available. So now you've got mine to help guide you a little bit. I'm sure you'll find some more diamonds in the rough. Thanks for reading folks!
  5. Thanks for waiting on me! If you've followed my blog you know I am easily distracted. I have a real good plan that gets interrupted by something that draws my attention elsewhere. I'm not like this with serious matters but it's something I do with my hobbies. The seasons usually play some part. In the summer, I tend to focus (fixate) on skateboarding. Invariably I'll get hurt or its too damn hot to skate and that's when I make time for other stuff like wrestling. In the winter, I just tend to get burnt out on wrestling and other stuff. Anyhow, enough about me. Let's see what we've got! OK first thing, I do not have as much available online as I did for 2013. I've got about a handful of matches as opposed to almost as many full shows online. Also the stuff I bought for 2014 is all over the year. We're starting with February and I think the next DVD I have is in September. So my apologies if you were looking for a more comprehensive overview or even a good summary of the year like I did for 2013. This is going to be a healthy sampling instead. I wish I bought a couple more discs but the quality of the seller wasn't up to my standards anymore. Maybe he got better but I'm not messing with it. Lets start with the first show and any online ones I'll tack on at the beginning or end chronology as we go. Its looking to be a four-parter. 02/08/14 Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Soma Takao - Good all action Junior match to get things started. Soma impressed me and hope I get to see more of him in 2014. I guess he's a DDT guy like many of the non AJ guys here. Keisuke Ishii vs. Atsushi Aoki - Good for what the guys in the ring did but Kenso & Nagai spoil it to cause Aoki to lose the match. More of an angle than a full match. KENSO & Mitsuya Nagai vs. Ryuji Hijikata & SUSHI - Nice music for Nagai & KENSO! But yeah they're the new heel team. I like that. This was a good match and really kicked up a notch when Ryuji Hijikata made the hot tag. Definitely want to see more. Not fully developed since it was meant to get over the new heel team. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Hikaru Sato - I like both guys well enough but I wasn't feeling it. It was a bit too much of "I'm tough!" - "No I'm tough!" wrestling. I can get behind that. I enjoyed Eddie Kingston vs Ishii from the free part of the recent AEW PPV. This match wasn't compelling though. It was too guys doing this type of thing for 10 minutes trying to build to a submission win. But it wasn't for me :-/ Akebono, Shigehiro Irie & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Go Shiozaki, Kento Miyahara & Kaji Tomato - Perfect use of Akebono. The focus is on he vs Shiozaki for the belt. Akebono is amused by Go and his attitude. This is a very interesting perspective for him instead of the super serious one he takes. It shows depth personality which he normally lacks. All that said, the highlight of the match was Irie & Yoshie vs Kento and Tomato. And that's was very good stuff! Heck it all was very good. It was a nice twist that Go couldn't seem to hold his own against even Akebono's partners,and he needed help. Kaji Tomato was new to me but the dude can work. He showed 100% effort. Very good match, scratching at a great one if I'm being honest. ----- Kotaro Suzuki vs. Ultimo Dragon - Very good junior match! They wisely treated this as a tournament match instead of a title fight or one time dream match. They made a lot of good decisions in what story to tell, when & how to shift momentum and actually incorporated wrestling holds which we haven't seen much of this show. ----- Joe Doering & Suwama vs. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori - Tag belts on the line. This starts out well enough and is going along at a good pace. It's operating in that ***3/4 range but eventually switched into high gear. The attacks became fierce, the defensive actions got more desperate and everything just felt more urgent. I really know they have a classic match in them. As it is I would say this ends up as a near classic ****1/4 bout. ----- Pretty darn good show and a super easy way to get back into the groove of things. I really like the variety that they have now. After the Wrestle One exodus, the company was pretty much Burning stable vs AJPW...no complaints from a quality perspective but its nice having the mix of styles.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. Hello again! Part 3 will cover the 03/04 show from Tokyo's K-Hall. Then we close out with a tag title encounter from 03/20 which may be at Budokan or some other larger venue. So its a big time match-up. Let's go! Okabayashi -vs- Takumi Soya: We see a very good to great under 10 minute match between two rivals. Soya (Manabu's brother) is ranked below BJW's Okabayashi but he has tons of fight in him. That intensity raises this match up to be something special. And when I say intense, this at the start reminded me of Stan Hansen or Ishikawa vs Ikeda in Battlarts. It was just frenetic and violent. Takao Omori/Manabu Soya -vs- KENSO/Kaz Hayashi (TLC match for tag title shot): A really fun TNA TV style ladder match. There is nothing too innovative or breath-taking. It was not trying to be an awesome bout as you would expect in the States. ----- Yuji Nagata -vs- Masayuki Kono: An interpromotional grudge match between an aging Nagata and an adroit Masa Kono. This has good action and heat but this isn't something to seek out. Nice to see Nagata though! Yutaka Yoshie -vs- Osamu Nishimura: JIP OK stuff Kohei Suwama -vs- Seiya Sanada - (2/3 Falls): A very good to great match between two of AJPW's best at this time. Here SUWAMA is Jumbo to Sanada's Misawa. Its not a perfect analogy but we get the underdog fight and the fighting spirit of Sanada to survive the big man's backdrop. SUWAMA is heir apparent to the move IMO. Also Sanada uses a bit of Misawa's offense like mulitple elbow strikes and the Tiger Suplex. The first fall has the best action while the second one has the fighting spirit story going for it. Personally I would have liked one longer fight rather than break it up but, it's all the same really. Daisuke Sekimoto/Yuji Okabayashi -vs- Kohei Suwama/Takumi Soya (03/20): This was my main event for the comp DVD. It definitely delivered. This is your big time Tag Title FIGHT! There's history between these teams and the straps are on the line. The strength of Strong BJW is unmatched in 2012. However AJ's SUWAMA is a destroyer and Soya has the heart of a lion. This does not disappoint. Everyone gets banged up, most notably Sekimoto who's go a bruise on his cheekbone egging up. A great story along with great action and timing makes this a Classic match to me. STRETCH PLUM! STRECH PLUM!!! ----- Sekimoto is not happy... ----- This was a really great comp which is available on IVP video as October-November 2012. I think it was an AJPW TV rebroadcast (we get commercials). If you do business with him and are looking for something different to try, this is a good pick. Thanks for reading!
  10. I'm trying to get the ball rolling again for exploring the early 2010's Puro. Let's take a look at 01/02/2012 AJPW!! (Broadcast 01/10/12) KENSO, Kaz Hayashi & Yasufumi Nakanoueno vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi - This was a very good opening match. The energy level was high. Kikuchi was a fun mystery partner that never out stayed his welcome. Kaz Hiyashi will always Shiryu from the glory days of M-Pro and he's still got it here. Akebono & Ryota Hama vs Yuji Okabayashi & Kazuki Hashimoto - You know what you are signing up for with this match. Says it was 8 minutes but it felt quicker. Hey, that's a compliment! Akebono just doesn't do much for me. Keiji Muto, Abdullah the Butcher & Kikutarou vs Masanobu Fuchi, Kikutaro & BLACK BUSHI - Skipped Masakatsu Funaki, Masayuki Kono & Minoru Tanaka vs Taiyo Kea, Shuji Kondo & Takumi Soya - This another really good 6 man match. Minoru was the bright point to me. Masakatsu turns the shooter skills on for the finish and it is sweet. At about 8 minutes, this was easy viewing. Seiya Sanada, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato vs Dark Ozz, Dark Cuervo & Kenny Omega - The Dark guys are fun but a little sloppy. Yamato was in for a good portion of the match and I got to remember how good he is. Everyone else is their normal selves and brought the goods. This was 15 minutes and ended just in time for this to leave me happy. It was almost like a FMW 6 man in that regard...it got close to going off the rails but never did. Suwama vs Daisuke Sekimoto - I think I've reviewed this earlier in the blog. This is one of the matches that inspired me to check out 2010's stuff. It was and hopefully is still up on Daily Motion. I've seen it 3-4 times and man is this still classic stuff to me! Right under 20 minutes, it eschews the "longer is better" mantra and keeps this compact yet tells a compelling story. That plus they beat the crap outta each other. I've seen more Sekimoto and SUWAMA since I first saw this and I can say it doesn't fall into any ruts or cliches. They tease or payoff and then move on rather than milk for time or over do it. It is the only singles match on the card and they really make that mean something. New Year Battle Royal - I watched this on fast forward until the last few guys. Its every guy on the show except SUWAMA and Sekimoto doing a battle royale. I don't like this after such a bad ass battle but, its tradition. Anyhow this is an easy breezy 2 hours of wrestling. IVP has it for a steal and the singles match is probably still on D.M. so if you're curious, what are you waiting for?
  11. Triple Crown Title Match: Suwama (c) vs. Taiyo Kea - AJPW Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 5 31/08/2008 I believe this is my first time watching Taiyo Kea in a singles match. I probably watched him randomly once or twice, I know I watched in him a tag but that was 2019 Kea. This is pretty much peak Kea it seems. Although, the match itself is critically panned, and my curiosity has gotten the best of me. Probably not the best way to watch someone at their craft for one of the first times. I think I’m fair though. However, the match..well lived up to its reputation. It was not very good for a plethora of reasons ranging from them never really getting out of the second gear until the last closing stretch (40 minutes into a 60 minute match btw) which, to me, was totally lacking in drama. There were hints of the two working each other’s legs but I found the struggle to be rather dry. Neither were great at submissions as far as I can tell. Although Suwama splashing himself onto the leg was pretty great. It was just too lackluster for far too long. They lost me before the finishing stretch which itself seemed to go on forever. I’m convinced they lost track of time and went “home” too early. This wasn’t awfully bad. Just boring. Early Suwama disappoints me once again. **
  12. Kento Miyahara pretty much came off as the best wrestler in the world in this. His work over the arm & the taped up hand of Suwama was excellent + the way he portrayed his character was a thing of beauty; even though his historic title reign just recently ended by the hands of Shuji Ishikawa, he still is the most confident dude around, because he is the goddamn young ace of the company. His facial expressions tell the whole story; he acts like he has the match in the bag because he dominates Suwama w/ that arm work of his, but then Suwama ends up fighting through it w/ his high impact comebacks & gets the W. Great stuff, a brilliant Kento Miyahara show. ****
  13. Go Shiozaki vs Suwama - AJPW 9/15/14 Royal Road Tournament I really enjoyed Suwama in the two matches I watched for the Best of Japan in the 2000s and the trend continued here. Suwama understood Shiozaki's greatest asset to be his energy. He continually sapped that by effectively using the sleeper. This did not achieve the level of the famous sleepers match between Pegasus Kid and Black Tiger in 1996, but it was a perfect use of the sleeper. The sleeper/chinlock is best used to drain the energy of an explosive babyface and let a heel regain his wind. Too often it is misused and thus triggers people's attention to drift. Shiozaki is all about those chops, but Suwama is going to make sure there is nothing behind those chops after the sleeper. You see how Suwama modulates his selling. Suwama sells the chops at the beginning of the match, but after the sleeper he stands tall. Shiozaki did a great job selling the first sleeper as really knocking him out. He is great at peppering in the hope spots, but his selling leaves a lot to be desired. He just does not have enough emotion. As good as Shiozaki's chops look, Suwama's double chop is so sick and maybe my favorite move in wrestling now. Suwama was wrestling perfectly. He took his time and was cocky when it was time, but anytime Shizaki started to fire off, he would immediately snuff the fire out with a double chop or a powerslam. Go finally mounts a bit of a comeback and is looking for a macho pissing contest so Suwama says fuck that and grabs him by the hair and applies a sleeper. Suwama is my hero. Suwama obliterates Shiozaki with a lariat and then a belly to belly suplex. With the match firmly back in his hand, Suwama looks to polish him off with his powerbomb. Shiozaki escaps and looks for refuge on the apron. Suwama comes flying across the ring with a HUGE dropkick and follows up with a suicide dive. Suwama returns to the sleeper to set up the powerbomb, but Misawa-rana. Man copying Misawa AND Kobashi, now that is just not fair! Suwama immediately clamps on a sleeper. I love Suwama's urgency. Suwama tries to gain the pin three times. Go busts out the classic collapse on a rope run and he really exaggerates his chops not having much. This is some really good shit here. Suwama is all over him, but looks to get a running start and Go roars out of the corner with a lariat. Ruh roh! Shiozaki hits a big lariat to send Suwama tumbling out and HUGE plancha by Go! Shiozaki goes all in on the lariat. Suwama is not going down without a fight, but he is on jelly legs. Suwama is selling like a boss. The double chop crushing a roaring burning lariat attempt was awesome! Eventually, Go hits a big time lariat to set up the Go Flasher & Limit Break for the win. Suwama totally outclassed Shiozaki here carrying him to a great match and the second best AJPW match of the year. Suwama was wrestling at such a high level. He was using the sleeper to debilitate his opponent and set himself up for the powerbomb. He was cocky when it was time and snuffed out Go when appropriate. Go Shiozaki needs more emotion and his selling for the majority of the match left a lot to be desired. The finish run was typical late 2000s puroresu and was fine for what it was. Suwama is underrated and this is a great showcase for him. ****1/4
  14. OH HELL YEAH. This had me marking out all over the place - a goddamn WAR between two grumpy veterans in Akiyama & Suwama. Had a super wild feel to it w/ the chaotic brawling & the super nasty strikes - BRUTAL stuff. And while it was wild & chaotic, it wasn't completely just that, as both guys had gameplans too; destroy the neck of your opponent. My goodness. What a damned match; a wild ass war w/ some real strategy in it. ****1/2
  15. DAMN this was good. Suwama dominated most of it & he gave Yoshi an absolute mauling on the offense - but Yoshi busted out some absolutely awesome hope spots. Such a well told, very good underdog tale. ***3/4
  16. A very good match. Loved Marufuji showcasing those technical skills of his in the beginning & the Headlock stuff was lovely. I think by the end the match dragged a bit w/ those nearfalls & all, but it didn't hurt it too much, because it was still indeed a very good one. ***1/2
  17. Loved this. It did get a bit too generic w/ the 50/50 stuff towards the end, but everything before that was pretty damn great. Suwama's targeting of Zeus' knee was fantastic & Zeus' selling was absolutely awesome. They told the story of Suwama weakening that knee of Zeus to the point where after he had been working it for a while, he was "free" to just lariat the crap out of him & throw him around. Really good stuff. ***3/4
  18. Rematch from the RWTL. I thought this was slightly better, mainly because I actually cared this time around for the first half of the match. This is mostly 20 minutes of bomb throwing. There's not a lot of subtleties in it and the control section from the champs is really short - which is a good thing because I think Yoshi sucks as a FIP - so Kento can get in and pick up the pace. For what they were going for, this was good, wouldn't call it a MOTYC or anything like it but I was entertained throughout.
  19. This show aired on a two week delay, the same day the show took place (July 17th) bjw held their biggest show of the year in sumo hall. On that show Ishikawa showed up to do colour commentary for the second half of the show he had a huge amount of damage to his right eye that made the wait for this show and match even more agonising. The match as expected was super stiff and really heated. There was a split crowd as these two monsters clobbered each other for 19 1/2 minutes for our enjoyment. The work all the way through was snug and visceral. Finishing with the incredible sight of ishikawa doing a splash mountain powerbomb on suwama and the giant slam. This match also features a great moment where late on Suwama tried for a strike exchange but is easily beaten and does some great jelly legs selling. This match is another feather in the cap of Ishikawa as he continues to increase his claim on wrestler of the year. ****1/4 on a level with the Jake lee match but slightly below the kento match from three months ago.
  20. Some thoughts on this match: Larger arena and card than the Champ. Carnival matches from 2016. Very nice to see AJPW in a venue of this size. Its nice to have SUWAMA back as the roster is kinda sparce. On to the match: Great heelish tactics from SUWAMA. Strong focus on the sleeper hold and trying to damage Kento's neck. Fantastic strike exchanges and selling by both but, esp. Miyahara as the babyface champ. Glad to see zero flip bumps taken from a lariat. Miyahara finally looked like a world champ here and felt the torch has been passed in this match. Rather than "put the belt on the young handsome babyface." Traditional puro with little flash or gimmicks. An alternative to the current NJ style. This was a classic encounter especially for 2010s AJPW.
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