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  1. Two technical wizards going at it. Started off with them trading holds in friendly manner, even bantering with each other while they put each other in holds & escaped from them. These 2 are so smooth when it comes to that stuff so it was a true joy to watch. At one point though, ZSJ gets pissed off & just BLASTS Quack with an European Uppercut; Quack is like "haha, alright got me there nice one pal", but then ZSJ does it again - he blasts Quack with ANOTHER European Uppercut! Now Quack knows that shit is on so he slaps the taste out of Zack's mouth - and from then on they continue to trade those holds, but with much more intensity & aggression to them - no more smiling & banter, they were just destroying each other. Terrific match. ****3/4
  2. Sorry for the delay! Work the past few weeks has been really crazy with the increase in online retail due to the Corona Virus pandemic. So, I didn't feel much like watching another computer screen after staring at my work monitor all day. You didn't come here for excuses though! You wanted to find out about how the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament wraps up. Well, after a long wait, here we are -the finale! Night 3 starts with a bang! Sami Callihan vs Davey Richards - An all action match to get things rolling. These two hard hitters left tons on the table for a future encounter but, it was still very good stuff. I would have been happy with either man in the finals. Colt Cabana & Emil Sitoci vs Kotaro Suzuki & Mark Haskins - The best Colt match as he was more business plus, he had 3 really good workers to keep him grounded. Therefore, we got a quite good tag match. Some comedy, nice section to build some tension, hot tags, just a fun watch. Good match Go Shiozaki vs Big Van Walter - I was looking forward to this. I was quite disappointed. Let's just get that out of the way. I felt they killed time in a very -ahem- rest hold taking kind of way. I don't like using the term "rest hold" but, that's what it felt like especially in the context of how other matches in the night used holds to move along the action or the story. Here it felt like Go took Walter for a Sunday drive around the town...with no particular place to go. Then they did that long enough and things got interesting. Then, it wrapped up. OK match I suppose but, don't think Shiozaki wanted to go out in style. This was his worse match of the event to me. Axeman vs Yoshihito Sasaki - I doesn't look good for Go to have a guy called Axeman and a BJW wrestler outshine you but, dammit that's what happened. For as much as a letdown Go Shiozaki was Sasaki (and to a lesser extent Axeman) has been a wonderful surprise. These guys went out there like the previous match could have done. Nothing insane in terms of intensity or stiffness BUT they looked like they wanted to finish the event with a win. That crumb of psychology was all they needed to have a very good perhaps even great match. Thank goodness! Jon Ryan vs Johnny Moss - Right now, I'd rather see these type of matches and be pleasantly surprised rather than let down. Fortunately, these fellow kept the good times rolling by having a technical showcase. It wasn't always pretty but, this buttered my bread. Hold and counter hold wrestling is timeless and this was well worth your time. Very good match -There's a tag team match that's really wXw storyline stuff...I'm skipping it- Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico - This is Sekimoto's 3rd defense and probably his toughest challenge. You'd think the more muscular Moss or Bad Bones would take that honor. However, if you're familiar with Generico then, you know he can take a beating and come right back and get the win. Daisuke's best defense, Generico's 3rd 4 star match in as many nights. You might even think it was better. Go see this Future Shock (O'Reilly & Cole) vs LDRS of the New School (Sabre Jr. & Scurll): Party Marty in full effect here! Watch for the crowd surfing afterwards. Anyhow, this was your 2010 up and coming wrestlers going to tear the house down type of tag match. Seriously, this was PWG spot fu to keep your jaw on the ground tag wrestling. This could have been a classic had they knew how to edit themselves but, shoot, I won't hate. They have all become smarter workers since then so, as a dream match time capsule, you ought to see it. This was a blast and if you're a fan of these guys like I am then, you'll think it was a great match. and now, the big match to crown the 2011 16 Carat Gold tournament winner... Big Van Walter vs Sami Callihan - Much like the 2010 Finals, this is your story match. You're using their previous encounters and what you've learned and applying it to this match. Walter is a tank and can finish anyone especially when he hits his powebomb. That move spells DEATH. Sami is a hard hitting dynamo and can finish you with his Stretch Muffler. More importantly, Sami has had a harder tournament - Tommy End, Yoshihito Sasaki & Davey Richards. That's pretty damn good compared to Rico Bushido, Mark Haskins & Go Shiozaki. And you all know how I feel about that last match This was a very good fight where the man who wanted it the most won. That's a feel good story and dammit we need that in wrestling - Even if it means guys getting put thru tables and clotheslined so hard their heads disappear. Excellent ending to an excellent event. Now to do a little summary and awards (?) I suppose... This was a tremendous 3 night wrestling event that is truly under the radar of a lot of people. I bought this and the 2010 event based on the line-up. Both did not disappoint but, 2011 is the superior show. Every night has at least 2 great matches with some faring better depending on your tastes. This 16 Carat event truly was a world tournament that provided some dream match ups I never knew I wanted to see. Does that make sense? Hahaha maybe! This was a nice change of pace after my NJ '88 project. I was really happy with buying this set and would definitely recommend it to anyone who digs these wrestlers. MVP: Sami Callihan, runner up: El Generico Best Match: Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr., runner up: Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki, honorable mention: all 3 El Generico bouts Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki Worst Surprise: Go Shiozaki dogging it (although I will say his one finger was taped each night so, I'll give him that. However, this doesn't excuse slow paced, aimless matches on night 2 & 3) Overall: Night #1 was a breeze to watch, the best night overall. Night #2 had a couple rough matches in the front half but, had the two best matches. Night #3 had a couple great matches and the big finale but, got off track with the Go/Walter bummer and it took me a couple fights to wash the bad taste outta my mouth. Nonetheless, it was everyone's 3rd night so, it can be expected and everything else clicked as expected. Again, I cannot recommend this event enough especially since it is sold in one package. Plus there's a bonus dvd that I haven't watched yet. I hope you have enjoyed this review and its encouraged you to branch out of your wrestling comfort zone a little. Totally glad that I took a chance with this. Thanks for reading! Be safe folks! Hoping to do my mid year round up real soon
  3. Without further ado, let's take a look at Night #2 of wXw's 2011 16 Carat Gold Tournament! Axeman vs Rico Bushido vs Tommy End vs Bad Bones - Hard hitting wXw guys doing a fun spot match. Jay Skillet vs Jon Ryan - I like Ryan from his match with Davey but, you can skip this match. It wasn't bad. It's nothing special to me though. Colt Cabana vs Marty Scurll - Another outright comedy match. Marty is much better at this than Zack just because he's more vocal and outgoing. Fun stuff Carnage vs 2-Face - This was OK. They probably didn't need to hit as hard for this kind of match. Post match stuff had storyline stuff so, this was a vehicle for that. Poor use of Carnage IMO. Mark Haskins vs Big Van Walter - A simple David vs Goliath match with Haskins showing a ton of heart. He didn't have the cleanest execution but, it looked natural when going up against the juggernaut of Walter. Good match and best thus far. Day 2 is OK thus far but we're only half way through. Let's see what part 2 has to offer...It should get better. El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Future Shock (Cole & O'Reilly) - I was really glad they took their time in setting up heel vs face dynamics here. Sitoci made a great first impression. He reminded me of Paul London. That's interesting because London and Generico had a nice tag team in PWG in 2010. So, that dynamic was here against the cocky upstart team of Future Shock. This was an exciting match with nice offense and fake-out spots. Best match of the show thus far. Great stuff! Sami Callihan vs Yoshihito Sasaki - Man, this looks promising! Sami really looks like he's got a screw loose! He brings so much intensity and bravado to the ring that, I'm invested before the bell rings. A handshake to start the match means Sasaki and Sami are going to be rough. And good gravy, this is violent wonderful wrestling and a near classic bout. This really puts the night back on track by topping the tag match. Go Shiozaki vs Kotaro Suzuki - NOAH match in Germany! This was a very good match but, felt it was lethargic compared to the previous couple matches. Also, the fan cam on the ground wasn't in the best position. So, we could see the action OK but, we were mainly seeing their backs. They were in a different venue and the hard cam and the floor cam were coming from the same side of the ring for this match. These things don't bother me too much but, I felt that because we couldn't see the impact as well as could be expected, we were missing some of the action. The crowd also seemed tired and I could only say it was very good at best. Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. - I understand the pacing and card placement with the NOAH match now. They wanted to give the crowd a cool down for this battle. The pacing was aggressive from bell to bell and Holy crap, they just beat the slop outta each other! This has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes. Up & coming ZSJ vs top tier Richards provided a classic encounter without a doubt. If you're a fan of either guy, you should see this for sure. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Johnny Moss - Match for the wXw belt. This was a good ***1/2 bout to close the night out. There was no way they were going to top the previous match so, they gave the fans a nice hard hitting simple title fight. Overall, Night 2 was a great show but, really one of two parts. Part one was nothing special although the 4 Way opener and the Haskins/Walter matches were worthwhile. Your best bet is to watch those two and skip to the 2nd half where stuff really picks up with a 3 amazing matches. Davey vs ZSJ is the best bout thus far. Thankfully, the 2011 tourney is sold as a set so, if you're looking to buy this DVD or that DVD, you don't have to choose one night over another What's even better is that we've still got Night 3! Thanks for reading!
  4. I remember being blown away by this match when I first watched it, but it was even better on a re-watch over a year later. Goddamn, what a match! The way the story in this progressed felt so natural - first it was a respectful grappling contest between two of the best technical wrestlers in PWG, then ZSJ starts targeting Hero's finger & Hero gets more and more pissed as the match goes on. Then it goes to the underdog formula with Hero bullying & beating the shit out of ZSJ, while ZSJ digs in deep to nail those brutal submissions, wacky pins & cool counters. This was an absolute clinic. ****3/4
  5. Absolutely fantastic. Most of the match is ZSJ just torturing Yano, but Yano keeps on escaping, and gets a few absolutely TREMENDOUS, best of the year -level, nearfalls in. Couldn't have asked for a better match between the 2. ****1/4
  6. As usual, these two beat the crap out of each other in a fantastic David vs. Goliath bout. They went with the simplest of all psychologies in that kind of a setting; ZSJ went after WALTER's leg, which WALTER sells excellently & puts on an overall amazing wounded-yet-still-dangerous-monster -performance. ZSJ is great working the crap out of that leg & his cocky character work as he realizes he has the big lad in trouble was a joy. Fantastic performances by both guys & a fantastic match. ****
  7. Watched this 2 times back-to-back, and MY GOD. First of all, both guys looked pretty banged up & tired from the weekend at this point. It didn't affect their performances whatsoever, but I think it actually added to the match. The match starts with a little feeling out process, where WALTER establishes that he is the stronger of the 2 (as usual). He overpowers Zack in every position they're in, but eventually Zack bridges up while WALTER is on top of him. That gives Zack some confidence, he is like "YEAH, AREN'T I THE SHIT, MOTHERFUCKER?" & as they get up, he SLAPS WALTER. A friendly competition gone wrong; WALTER then is like "why you did that, man?" & starts chopping the crap out of Zack. Zack always bumps for WALTER's chops like they are shotgun blasts & it's a joy to watch. I freaking LOVED him being all dizzy & stunned by WALTER's chop on the outside, but still taunting & slapping WALTER, asking the "big boy" to give him more of those. After a while of Zack pissing WALTER off more & more w/ giving him the finger & slapping him in the face + receiving those chops in the process, he manages to catch WALTER's hand on one of the chop attempts, which leads to ZSJ attacking that arm, the way ZSJ usually attacks the arm. And it's fantastic. There is a moment in the ring where WALTER chops Zack w/ the arm Zack had been working on - Zack sells it fantastically, but he also has this cheeky smile on his face, knowing that WALTER must be hurting like hell from that. Another fantastic moment was ZSJ once again pissing WALTER off & firing him up by slapping him in the face a couple of times, which lead to WALTER chopping the crap out of him again & throwing him out of the ring; as WALTER was coming outside the ring to continue the beatdown, Zack sneaks back into the ring, gives him the finger, paces around him while going "come on big boy" with a complete dickhead smile on his face. Unbelievably great. After that the match essentially kicks into it's finishing gear w/ some superb counters, Zack still going after that arm by kicking it a few times & busting out the Octopus + another FANTASTIC moment when Zack goes for the cocky pin w/ one foot on WALTER's chest. MY GOD! WALTER's again like "you goddamn kidding me?" w/ his facial reaction to it. He gives Zack an absolute deathstare all the while Zack is once again smiling like the biggest dickhead in the world. WHY IS THIS MATCH SO GOOD. After that it's them slugging it out w/ WALTER on top - he mouths something to Zack, almost like giving him a chance to still be respectful about the warfare they're currently in, and Zack's answer to that? He shoulder/chest bumps WALTER w/ a cocky look on his face & then SLAPS him once again. That of course leads to WALTER killing him with chops, but Zack still gets one last SLAP + a nice European Clutch nearfall in before WALTER chokes him out. PHENOMENAL psychology. Amazing match. ****1/2
  8. Now we're talking! This was absolutely phenomenal. Some very fun back & forth work on the mat to start things off - eventually Zack starts busting out strikes, and Starr is more than happy to answer back w/ some of his own; my GOODNESS did his lariats look absolutely amazing. Zack starts going after his leg(s) in vicious fashion, kicking the crap out of them & Starr does a very good job selling that. I especially liked his sell after he did the Project Ciampa, he sold the damage Zack had done to him very well. Both guys brought it big time in this one, ZSJ w/ that brutal work over Starr & Starr with that awesome babyface performance, very good selling & amazing LARIATS. ****1/4
  9. A very good match. Zack was absolutely fantastic (as always, really) in this one & Riddle was a great FIP; though I did think that some of his comebacks were lacking... something? Can't quite put my finger on what exactly, but something & that is ultimately what keeps this from being a GREAT 4*+ match. ***3/4
  10. I have never seen or heard about Chuck Mambo before, so I had no idea what to expect, but he was going against a man who can have a good match with pretty much anyone & one of my favorite wrestlers in the world, so I was very curious to see what the end result would be & it sure was one damn fun match! Mambo gets to shine in the early stages of the match w/ his highflying move-set, but it's when he goes for the Surfboard that he pisses off the best technical wrestler in the world, which results in ZSJ escaping that said Surfboard in very cool fashion & delivering a nasty, vintage ZSJ-style beating to the lad. Vicious strikes, especially those stomps + nasty submissions. Mambo gets a couple of big comebacks in, which are good, but it's ZSJ's pretty damn tremendous bumping that are the best part about them & the way he countered Mambo's springboard Frog Splash was awesome. A fantastic, very giving (to say the least) performance by Zack - he certainly made Chuck Mambo look like million bucks in this one. ***3/4
  11. EVOLVE has been building Darby super well coming into the match. Here the match was about him trying to hang with Zack in non-flying, pure technical wrestling style - and that certainly didn't go too well for the lad. Zack pretty much destroyed him for all the match, brutalizing him w/ his amazing offense. Darby sold that fantastically, bringing the intensity & emotion w/ his body language. I thought the ending was fantastic too, and set up a potential amazing re-match between the 2. I definitely want to see that after this fantastic 1st chapter between them. ****
  12. Sabre is killing it this year., and this is wonderfully laid out. Okada isn’t that good on the mat, but that’s fine, because he doesn’t have to be. He gets some holds in, which makes sense with his lucha training, but Sabre mostly dominating him while he screams in pain is what’s supposed to happen, and boy does it. Sabre knows it’s gonna happen, too, escaping anything with arrogant ease. Just like in the Tanahashi/Sabre final, this is built around the fact that Sabre can control the mat and counter most things (that first dropkick counter whooooo), but the size advantage is such that it makes sense that a few big moves can finish him. And Zack is cocky enough to occasionally get into striking exchanges to set up those openings. He sells the hell out of a big DDT, too, going to his neck and shoulders constantly in the second half of the match and eventually not being able to completely lock things in at the end. Great stuff, and it might not even be my 2nd favorite Zack Sabre Jr. match of the past few weeks.
  13. After 3 awful matches in a row (Starr/Yehi, Janela/Webster, Guevara/Fenix), this sure was needed. Keith Lee & ZSJ had 2 absolutely great matches last year in EVOLVE, so I knew they would deliver here as well. And they sure did - they delivered a great match that's on par w/ the 2 EVOLVE matches I mentioned. The storytelling was very strong in this one - Zack kept baiting Keith into exchanges, Keith always answered to those & because of that Zack got some openings he took advantage of right away. Loved his targeting of Keith's leg, Keith's selling was very good & I loved how as Zack was beating the crap out of that leg, he completely dropped the usually-very-much-in-a-good-mood shtick of his. Great David vs. Goliath wrestling. Keith Lee vs. Zack Sabre Jr. is a great pairing. ****
  14. What a goddamn MARVELOUS match. The most consistent wrestler in the world continues his streak of terrific performances in his JUST TAP OUT New Japan Cup tour & SANADA delivers the match of his career so far. The storytelling was top freaking notch - you got SANADA actually owning Zack in the early stages w/ the wrist control. Zack gets more & more frustrated as SANADA continues showing that he is no slouch when it comes to ZSJ's game; eventually though Zack finds a way & starts targeting that arm of SANADA in brutal, nasty, classic Zack Sabre Jr. fashion. SANADA sells it super well. The feel of urgency & physicality is off the charts at that point, SANADA just like that becomes the underdog & tries to fight off Zack's nasty work over him, but in the end, just like Ibushi & Naito, he just TAPPED OUT. ****1/2
  15. WALTER has said that he feels like his chemistry with ZSJ works so well because all of their matches feel like FIGHTS. I think none of their matches against each other showcase that better than this one, right here. It's a classic David vs. Goliath FIGHT w/ ZSJ being absolutely excellent as the scrappy underdog, fighting with his heart to try & beat the Goliath - and WALTER is of course absolutely tremendous in his role, just bullying ZSJ around, striking him down & throwing him around. It's a wXw classic. ****1/2
  16. An absolutely excellent match, just as expected. Obviously there was a lot of hype for this one w/ Big Dave giving it the full 5, the live reports saying it truly is one of the all-time great matches in PWG & the preview clip of it looking great - and it lived up to that hype. WALTER & Zack beat the shit out of one another in this classic; you got WALTER as the amazing dominant bigger man throwing ZSJ around & chopping him with those sick chops of his - and then you got Zack as the tremendous underdog chopping him down with those great strikes of his + trying to outsmart the bigger man w/ his great mat, submission oriented tactics. Fantastic match. ****1/2
  17. I think Sabre's best when he has someone physically strong to work against; his mat stuff looks much better with resistance. He gets that from Ibushi here, even early on the mat he has to really yank his arms to get him into place. Throughout the match, how good Ibushi is makes Sabre seem even more impressive. I've seen a moonsault into a hold of some sort a billion times, but Ibushi is so incredibly fast in going up for that moonsault, that getting the counter in feels more special. The intensity as they get more and more desperate to get their big moves and holds in at the end is great, and I'll be shocked if this isn't one of my very fav matches in Japan this year.
  18. We get a lengthy Rowe FIP segment, and it's awesome. Suzuki-gun do really good work over him, with everytime he was about to tag out, outcomes the rest of the heel team to cut him off. Once he finally makes the hot tag though, he makes it to Big Mike, who delivers an awesome hot tag, indeed. His exchanges against ZSJ were fantastic. After the fantastic Elgin vs. ZSJ section of the match, the thing essentially kicks into the finishing stretch & it remains awesome. Loved Suzuki constantly targeting Tana too, setting up a future singles meeting between them. Lovely match. ***3/4
  19. Very fun interactions between Okada & Zack - great tease for their upcoming title match + a great FIP segment w/ Ishii; Suzuki & ZSJ working like dad & son with those submissions while Okada had the ref distracted was amazing. Some very good, hard hitting interactions between Ishii & Minoru, too. ***3/4
  20. Simply beautiful. I love the uniqueness ZSJ brings to New Japan - all of his New Japan Cup matches have been such a breath of fresh air. The uniqueness of this match in particular hit me big time; it's a big tournament finals match that goes over 30 mins in New Japan. And it's mostly spent on the mat, working over limbs & displaying a true struggle. Zack was vicious working the crap out of pretty much every limb Tana had to offer & Tana's selling was excellent - also with it being Tana in a big match situation, the drama & passion was through the roof. Absolutely loved that. What a match. ****1/2
  21. An absolutely amazing match. Bryan tortures the shit out of young Zack - just stretches him out with his vicious submission holds & beats him down with his brutal strikes. ZSJ's selling & bumping is excellent + it looks all the more devastating than it already is because of his skinny frame. He gets pretty much nothing in until he gets fired up as Bryan is delivering corner strikes to him - that's when he gets his big comeback, in which he applies a very good looking armbar, which Bryan sells like DEATH. After that Bryan does his classic wXw spot which is asking the referee to help him check his arm - that was obviously just a little heel tactic by Dragon, as he blasts ZSJ with a vicious forearm while the ref is checking on him. After that he continues his brutal beatdown on the young lad, now also spitting & talking more shit to him, showing no respect - that continues until ZSJ gets that SURPRISE PIN! What a perfectly told underdog story. The perfect match for the crowd - wXw fans hated Bryan, and he got a lot of heat in the match, but my goodness the pop when ZSJ managed to get that win. Terrific dynamic all around w/ Bryan, ZSJ & the crowd. Amazing stuff. Between his brutal offensive assault on ZSJ & his selling of his comeback, Bryan's performance in this is just outstanding. ****3/4
  22. Just as good as their G1 meeting from last year. A complete ZSJ torture show w/ him breaking Naito down, limb by limb. When Naito was mounting a comeback in the end, getting ready to hit that Destino, I was ready to say he was getting too much offense in, but then ZSJ countered that & the match ended! Just at the perfect time. Great match. ****
  23. Very similar to their epic PWG meeting that happened 8 years after this one. Of course neither one of the 2 were as polished w/ their in ring work & personas as they are now, but you can see flashes of what’s about to come for both guys. Walter dominates with his hard hitting move-set & strength advantage while Zack tries to chop down the bigger man w/ his strikes. It's a great match between a pairing who could produce one in their sleep. ****
  24. Bate tried to match ZSJ's ground game & for a while he did get some good stuff going there, but eventually it became clear that he was getting outclassed by the best technical wrestler in the world; Zack had a counter for EVERYTHING Bate tried to do. After that it's "the usual" ZSJ torture show & as always, it's a joy to watch. Bate did a great job being the FIP; his facial expressions & selling were very good. Bate starts to wrestle with more urgency as he abandons the initial ground plan he had going, he starts to go with his high impact power moves & those sure are a lot more successful against Zack than the ground game he tried to get going. Very good storytelling. Great match. ****
  25. This was my most awaited match of the whole tournament & it sure did not disappoint. You got a man who is known for his ways to punish an opponents arm vs. a man who has a banged up arm. Couldn't ask for a much better dynamic there. And they worked that dynamic super well - Tanahashi was one step ahead in the early exchanges, but once Zack started to target that arm, things started to go downhill for the Ace. Zack's work over that arm was fantastic as always & Tana sold it excellently. Loved how Tana countered that brutal arm work of Zack's by going after his leg - just like with Zack's arm work, Tana's leg work was fantastic as always. Zack's selling of it was good, too. The rest of the match is about Tanahashi trying his hardest to put Zack away, but you just get the feeling that he can't do it because of how destroyed that arm of his is. Fantastic storytelling. I hope this sets up a big re-match for the IC title, because I feel like these 2 have an even better match in them - and that is saying something because this, their first match against each other, was absolutely outstanding. ****1/2