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Wrestle Kingdom 11

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Can anyone remember what the crowd were like for the first ten minutes of Bock vs Hennig?

 

I mean is this the same board I see people routinely rag on Ric Flair for going to some signature spots early in matches to pop the crowd? So ... he was right to all along because the crowd being constantly hot is what matters?

 

I don't get the crowd point here, honestly, I don't. I can remember arguments from people saying that the crowd doesn't matter, that sometimes the match is better than the crowd or whatever.

 

I did not think Omega vs Okada was even close to being a classic like I said, but the crowd was super stoked for all the high spots and quieter for the bits in between, and I don't get the issue with that.

 

Isn't there an argument to say that after the last three matches the crowd even needed a bit of down time as others have said?

 

If you can't see the point I don't know what to tell you. Perhaps it's because you aren't following the fault lines surrounding the match elsewhere. I am a fan of BattlArts a promotion that often had no noise, that's not the issue for me personally. The issue is when we start talking about investment and whether the first quarter of the match succeeded in being engaging and gripping. It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but I've yet to see a compelling explanation for why the previous three matches didn't struggle to get reactions for 15 to 20 minutes and the main event did.

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The most logical answer would be that the main event was twice as long as Tanahashi/Naito and as long as Goto/Shibata and Takahashi/Kushida combined, so it took twice as long to get outside of the opening stages. It's not like fans were losing their minds 5 minutes into Goto/Shibata or anything.

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I need to catch up and read the last couple of pages, but I just watched Goto vs Shibata finally. I definitely liked it more than Omega vs Okada. Really any criticisms I'm going to have are going to come back to the trappings of the style at large. The sort of delayed selling they do annoys me. Honestly I can totally look past a spot like "wrestler x eats a german suplex but pops right up and hits a lariat then they both sell" if it happens rarely. But when it happens over and over again it annoys the fuck out of me. But that sucks and is kinda like criticizing Daniel Bryan for his "backflip, hit the ropes, duck a clothesline, hit a lariat spot." I get it and understand the criticism, but they're just going to do that there's no getting around it. You're either ok with it or not.

 

However, I really enjoyed the match. There were even aspects of it like the finish that took a trope of modern Japanese wrestling that I can't stand (the standing exchanging strikes) and made it so compelling and great that it was a real highlight. Take Omega vs Okada for example. I thought their trading elbows spot in the finishing stretch, which the crowd totally ate up, was a completely forced spot that came out of nowhere and really struck me as "Oh shit, we forgot to do the elbows, lets trade elbows" and I thought broke up the flow of the finishing stretch. Goto vs Shibata used the standing trading strikes spot to build directly to the finish and it was utterly spectacular. Totally fit in with what they were doing. Really weird match for me to watch because there were times were I thought "Goddamn this is awesome" and other times were I was like "Oh, that's fucking annoying." More awesome than annoying for sure.

 

There's no way I'm watching the Tanahashi match. :)

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Are there any heavyweights on excursion right now? With Tanahashi officially out of the top of the cards, Shibata and Goto never getting there, the square of Omega/Naito/Okada/Suzuki can only last for so long, especially with Gedo's love of rematches (particularly for Okada). Seems like a good time for someone to return and make a big statement.

 

I don't think Tanahashi is out of the top of the cards, he's just probably done beating other top guys. He's still a draw and will still be used several times per year to headline. Tanahashi had 8 singles main events last year, trailing only Naito (12), and Okada (9).

 

Shibata will absolutely be in the main event mix sooner than later. The seeds have been planted. He was elevated last year with his feud and subsequent symbolic acceptance from the third gen guys, and headlined 6 shows as a singles wrestler overall (doubling his total since 2012) with the NEVER title being built around him. I'd be surprised if he isn't moved up to the IC level (which means bigger main events), win the G1, or both. You mention Gedo's love of rematches, but Okada & Shibata have been kept apart for 4 or 5 years. That isn't an accident, just like Okada never facing Omega wasn't.

 

Jay White is away and will likely be a heavyweight. The other big heavyweight prospects are Oka (who just made his debut on 1/3 and who is a personal pet project of Kidani & Nagata, so he will get pushed no matter what), Hiku'lio (another son of Haku who everybody behind the scenes thinks will be a mega star, as in potential WWE headliner level mega star, at about 6'8" with what is said to be "special" charisma), and Katsuya Kitamaru, a muscle head with a great look who also has yet to debut (but who shot an angle with Billy Gunn, of all people, on 1/5). Oka, Hiku'lio, and Kitamura have a combined one match between them, so they are a ways off. I expect White to be pushed, but not right to the top right away, and might end up in WWE before then.

 

On the roster, SANADA is the guy to watch. He has the right look, works the right style, and they planted the seeds already for Tanahashi to put him over at some point. He'll be pushed to the top.

 

This year will be about adding Shibata to the Okada/Naito/Omega/Tanahashi mix, while mixing in Suzuki/Goto. 2018 and beyond will be about SANADA, Oka, and maybe one or two of the others mentioned who wind up panning out.

 

 

I hated Sanada in All Japan, was always a bigger fan of Soya. Haven't seen much of him in NJPW for the same reasons. I hope he's gotten better.

 

Thank god Oka debuted. I was actually wondering when the hell would Kitamura and him debut. I'm very interested in seeing them develop.

 

Had no clue that Hiku'lio was that big of a prospect.

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I was never very high on pre-NJPW SANADA either, beyond thinking he was a decent worker with some upside in that regard. He's like a new person in this setting.

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I watched the three big matches out of sheer curiosity. Keeping in mind I don't watch or follow New Japan or have any interest in anyone going in. I think I've watched like two NJPW matches since 2013.

 

Shibata vs Goto

 

Here's the thing. I really, REALLY want to love Shibata. I really do. He's just so...beautiful. So beautiful, coming out looking like a buff Japanese Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I want to eat him up. And early on he'll do some badass something or other and I'll think yes, marry me.

 

And then he'll keep being badass over and over again and somehow it just loses me. It's too much. I mean, the first time you see the Shibata Dick Measuring Show it is mind blowing, revolutionary and amazing. NOBODY has EVER no sold that much shit before, what a badass! But when the hook for the no selling is being novel and never-before-seen, it loses its effect once you see it a few times. It's no longer the above excitement, it's oh, you're no selling the same stuff you always no sell. I wonder which of the 78 brutal shots in this match is the one you'll sell for this time. I don't really find macho dick waving all that interesting for its own sake, so once the initial novelty wears off, I find it all a bit eye rolling.

 

This match in particular I didn't think had much else besides that stuff. Maybe its a character investment thing, but I wasn't really hooked by the story of the match or by Goto's triumph or anything else about it. Stuff just happened, and they did a lot of no selling stuff. That's the impression I was left with.

 

Having said that, I did think the finish itself was done pretty well, it was dramatic and decisive and satisfying and easily the best part of the match.

 

Tanahashi vs Naito

 

Japanese hype videos are so great. The hair in this match is something else.

 

I am enjoying Naito as a goofy, scenery chewing movie villain. He's so ridiculous. I also enjoy Tana a tiny bit more now that the hype train has dissipated and I don't have to go into his matches with unrealistic expectations.

 

So OK I thought this was pretty great. I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting from this, but laser-focused knee work sure wasn't the first thing. But I thought they nailed the knee work, Naito attacked it with purpose and variety, he took every possible chance to do something nasty to it. Tanahashi sold it well and didn't egregiously blow it off later, which is all I've ever wanted from him. And they put so much into it that it meant all the more later when Tana turned it around and started going Naito's knee. It even made an ostensibly lazy, worn out trope like a strike exchange cool, when they stopped forearming and started throwing kicks to the knee. Like, even the fact that these were sloppy, loose kicks made sense because they were both trying to kick out on one leg. The leg work was executed so well and gave everything during the match some meaning and purpose.

 

AND most importantly, they did that without then hitting reset and blowing it off to do the finishing stretch. They still stuck to the story while they were escalating and starting to throw bombs. I mean, honestly I started to forget about the leg work before they did - when Tana hit that flurry and went for that final High Fly Flow and Naito put his knees up I FREAKED. I was so caught up with Tana's comeback that I momentarily forgot, and they brought me right back in in the most emphatic way. And they kept doing it as it got higher and higher, and then it ended just at the right moment.

 

I really liked Naito's performance in this on multiple levels. He's such a great dick heel, when he came out I thought his gimmick was that he was drunk, but it turned out he was just an asshole. I don't know why he was fucking with the ring announcer but it worked. And then SPITTING! What a motherfucker! By that point I was all in on Tana fucking this dude up.

 

I also thought his bumping was super, he leaned the fuck into all of Tana's Slingblades and took them all on his fucking neck. Sometimes I think that move looks lame but he made them look like death here. Plus all of the legwork...I haven't seen Naito work since he was much younger and less pushed, but he has grown into this role nicely, colour me impressed. Tana was good in this too, as the kind of ageing ace who refuses to lay down for this disrespectful little punk ass bitch, no matter how many knees he takes out, but in the end, the younger guy is just too good.

 

Okada vs Omega

 

Well. I wonder what I would have thought of this match if I had seen it live, because watching it now it was impossible to divorce it from all of the ******, 'greatest match of all time' hype. So instead of going in with a clean slate, you spend the match asking yourself "Well is it the greatest match of all time, yes or no?" And I mean, no, of course it isn't. So then you spend the rest of the match asking yourself "Why would someone think this is the greatest match of all time?" It's all very distracting.

 

Luckily I had this distraction early on because y'all were right, nothing happened in the first half. I can't remember a single thing that happened before Omega's springboard moonsault to the floor. Now I don't necessarily mind a perfunctory opening act if the match has something else going for it like two characters I care about or insane crowd heat or interesting commentary or...something. But there was none of that either, so it was all a bit ordinary until it kicked off.

 

Then, to be fair, it kicked off and it was a completely different match from that point on. Things started happening, bombs started dropping and the crowd woke up. I super loved this period of the match, beginning with that dive and ending in Omega's table bump. It was like one long, extended turning point that took the match from 0-100 real quick. I loved the big moonsault and Okada's loopy knocked out selling of it. There he was stumbling over the guardrail and you're so focused on his struggle to beat the count and then BAM, Omega flies in with the table on him and kills him with a double stomp. Loved that. Then they set up the table but build to the actual spot so well - teasing once but Okada is so loopy he can't get him up for it and they go back inside, then more stuff until oops, they go out and there's that table again but they tease and block and tease some more, then go back inside again and you've finally moved on from it when BAM, Omega takes the biggest backdrop in human history through that fucking thing.

 

By the way when did New Japan become WWE? Guys dragging tables out from under the ring in a title match? Bros in the front row chanting "Lets Go Ken-ny!" ? What is happening.

 

Also, I always laugh wondering how badly WWE would get roasted if they did something as goofy as the Rainmaker zoom out in the middle of the main event of Wrestlemania.

 

Omega sure can bump his ass off but in both a good and bad way. When he shoots off like a rocket he can make a move look devastating, but when he does it at the wrong moment it looks comical and fake. He just doesn't have to take the biggest bump ever for every move. And count me in with the class of people for whom Omega does nothing for as a character. All that OTT, American heel, Bullet Club stuff I find silly, and his "Hurr hurr" heavy breathing, Seth Rollins-style angry face even moreso. He especially doesn't come off well when Naito was such a better heel in the previous match.

 

Okada, well Okada is always Okada. Boring as hell, for the most part, and when he's in there as either the actual or de facto babyface vs a cartoony heel, doubly so. There's nothing to him except elaborate finishing sequences and the Rainmaker pose. When Tanahashi was getting GOAT praise a few years ago I disagreed, but at least understood it on some level. Even if he was flawed he was interesting. He had IT. When that praise shifted to Okada when he replaced him on top I never got that because Okada is just too...bland.

 

Anyway, the epic second half/finishing stretch was fun, very fun, but again all I could do was wonder what made this excessive finishing stretch any better or more magical than any other excessive finishing stretch. The high rating for the match hinges on the stretch, and I just feel like I've seen this stretch many times before, and seen it done better in other matches - Tanahashi vs Okada did it better, even a match like KENTA vs Marufuji did it better frankly. Not to mention Shawn vs Taker, Cena vs Punk and Orton vs Christian did it better too. I don't get what was so transcendent about this particular finishing stretch that we need to blow up the scale for it.

 

I admit I had a massive mental block with it, because the last time I saw Okada work the Rainmaker had never been kicked out of, so Omega kicking out of like three was utter bullshit to me and took me right out of it. There was a moment when Okada hit I think the second and third Rainmakers pretty close together, and I thought "if this ends here I'm OK with that." But Omega kicked out and they danced around for another few minutes and I felt like they missed the optimal window. On the other hand, I did like Omega constantly going for his finisher and always being thwarted. "Could the challenger have won if he'd have hit his finisher?" is an easy story for a rematch.

 

Funnily enough for such a long match it did fly by, I never at any point felt like it was too long or dragging (and I felt that in every single Tana/Okada match). Although to be fair I'm a little stoned right now and not really capable of registering the passage of time either way.

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I ask this out of curiosity, not to prove any point: how many of Omega/Okada's detractors saw it after they read or heard about Meltzer’s reaction? I don't like star ratings, but for context, after one and only viewing I'll call it a 4 star match. It’s overkill video game wrestling and the psychology is minimal, or at least something you have to seek to find. Yet it’s also a good, entertaining version of that approach. If you hated this, have you also hated every Wrestlemania match of the last ten years that isn’t Brock-Reigns? (Again, just asking.) If Meltzer - wrestling’s de facto critical authority, for better or worse - tells you that it may literally be the greatest match of all time, you’re bound to be disappointed and look for the flaws, especially if you dislike the style (and I say that as someone who typically dislikes it). I watched it on Wednesday night, having not seen Dave’s assessment or any of the Twitter/Tumblr hype, and was pleasantly surprised that it exceeded my low expectations. I suspect that if I’d known what Dave was putting out there, my first viewing of the match would have been through a much more judgmental, suspicious lens.

 

Rumble: Cheeseburger was the MVP, if only for letting himself be used as a projectile and his big hulk-up at the end. I’d have traded Elgin, Gunn, Tatsu, etc. for more super-old Japanese dudes.

 

TMW-Tiger the Dark: I like Ibushi as aloof rebel who’d rather be a masked hero to kids than sign a WWE contract or work Dome main events. Short but solid in a Shredded Wheat way, akin to undercard matches on the first three Wrestlemanias that are pleasant to have on in the background while cooking.

 

Bucks-Vice: Sloppy on both sides: whiffing moves, no momentum, guys out of position. Bucks were charmless, yet gesticulating as if charisma will save them from actually having to work, a la heroes DX and the NWO, w/ facial reactions out of bad slasher movies. There’s a stretch in the middle where all four guys together botch something like seven highspots in a row, including stuff that’s so dumb in the ways they’re throwing themselves around that it’s not clear who is giving/receiving the move. Mercifully brief, with a lame abrupt ending.

 

LIJ vs. Ricochet/Kojima/Finlay vs. Bullet Club vs. Chaos: These 6-man titles have existed for a year, and have changed hands ten times in twelve months. The division is an excuse to let three rotating guys hold some belts for a few shows apiece in a company that already has too many belts. No one’s in long enough to matter. This was Ricochet and Ospreay at their most indulgent, where they aren’t even trying to make contact with their opponent and refuse to let the match get in the way of their gymnastics routine. Ospreay in particular was ridiculous. Bullet Club felt very NWO B-Team. I like LIJ: they had a great year and this was more of what makes them good, as each guy has a unique approach, with Bushi as the super fun masked mist guy and Sanada coming off as a believable killer in the way his aerial stuff connects.

 

Cody-Juice: I’m a closet Cody fan who’s loved his indie run, but his heeling here was too Stardust. I do like that he’s at least trying to be a villainous heel, and they worked the leg, but there was nothing to this. This whole undercard feels like getting a bunch of guys on the show just for the sake of giving them entrances.

 

Cole-O’Reilly: In some ways this was the worst match yet. Cole sucked here: repeating sequences, looking totally lost at times, trying to trash talk his way through a situation where he's in over his head. They tried to work a story around O’Reilly’s shoulder and it was all dish water dull. I’ve liked at least one O’Reilly match (vs. Kushida), but the dude is a real scrub who was devaluing an already weak ROH title, and Cole here looked like a downgrade even from there.

 

Guerrillas vs. Ishii/Yano vs. Makabe/Honma: An improvement from everything prior. Guerrillas of Destiny is one of those absurd team names that can only happen in New Japan, but Tama and Tanga were pretty badass. I like the concept of Tama as the counter-punching “best defensive wrestler in the game” even that's a stretch. Ishii lariating people is always great, and Honma did all the work for GBH. I’ve come to enjoy Yano over the last year as he’s begun to work like a Masao Inoue mid-2000s NOAH undercarder type. This was the right kind of tornado madness: structurally a mess, but full of hard-hitting action.

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When it comes to breaking down matches, picture a Venn diagram with the following components of what people value when reviewing a match:

 

1. Detailed critical analysis of execution, including close attention to psychology (i.e. everything "means something", a clear story being told, etc), snug work or perception of stiffness in holds and moves, logic, escalation, selling, etc. Almost purely intellectual, with little or no use for what Group 3 looks for in a match.

 

2. Emotional investment in the characters, promotion, story, booking, or all of the above (or at minimum, an intellectual understanding of these things). pol referred to this a few pages back as the "melodrama" of a match, which I thought was perfect, as it speaks to an emotional investment often beyond just that of which is being created in the course of the match with the work. Visceral enjoyment.

 

3. Drama, "hot moves", excitement, dangerous spots, etc, pure visual stimulation. Little or no use for what Group 1 is looking for.

 

I don't think any of the three groups are the "wrong" way to enjoy or break down a match. To each his own, you do you, etc.

 

If you picture a Venn diagram, I think you'll see a lot of crossover between 1 & 2, and a lot of crossover between 2 & 3. The tiniest crossover will be 1, 2, & 3 together. You'll see almost zero crossover between 1 & 3 independent of 2. The more crossover you have, the more thorough and useful the review is going to inherently be. The fewer the groups involved, the less valuable to review is going to be, because all of these things have some contributing value (even if your mileage will vary on each) to the quality of a match

 

When parachuting in on wrestlers or a promotion that you know little or nothing about (or even don't actively follow), #2 is completely eliminated. You are either going to be a #1 or a #3. You are either going to use strict analytical analysis, or come to be entertained by the visuals, maybe a little of both, and then move along and never think about it again. I believe this is where you see some disconnect with the Omega/Okada match. Group 3 is going to love it, and then move on to their WWE watching or whatever and never watch NJPW again until next 1/4. Some of Group 1 is going to have some level of issues with it, but for the most part, think it's good at minimum, while others (Phil Schneider or rzombie come to mind) are going to actively think it's shit.

 

I think everyone strongly values one of the three groups over the others, and most have varying levels of crossover. But I also think we adjust how we approach matches on a case by case basis.

 

#2 is the most interesting one to me, because that group drives analysis in either direction more than anyone probably wants to admit. I am thoroughly invested in NJPW, watch almost everything that makes tape, understand all of the nuance, have emotional investment in the characters and stories, callbacks almost never go over my head, etc etc etc. Anyone who has read or listened to my reviews know that I spend the most amount of time talking about #2, about how a match makes me feel, what it means to the bigger picture, those sorts of things, and while I factor in the other two groups, I find them less interesting to talk about. Phil's review was almost strictly #1.

 

Dylan Hales's thoughts were a lot of #1 with a tiny bit of the other groups. If I dropped into some indie that he follows day to day that I know little or nothing about, say CWF Mid Atlantic, I would break down those matches much differently than I do NJPW, and so would Dylan. Our approaches would be reversed.

 

You have to know your reviewer. I could have told you Phil wasn't going to like the match before I even read his review because I read his reviews and know what he values and how he was going to approach wrestlers/a promotion he doesn't care about. Anybody familiar with me knew I was going to love it, it was just a matter of how much.

 

It's important to understand how much of a role #2 is playing in a review before you decide how valuable it is to you personally.

I had missed this post but was directed back to it after someone mentioned it to me.

 

Quite interesting and useful.

 

I think -- and this is going to be controversial for some -- that some matches are only ***** in the group 2 of group 3 sense and not in the 1 sense.

 

One of my go-to examples would be CM Punk vs John Cena.

 

During GWE, I went and reviewed a lot of John Cena matches with guidance from Jimmy Redman. It was a journey for me confronting one of my deepest prejudices. I literally stopped watching wrestling because of the spinner belt and Cena represented everything I loathed in modern wrestling.

 

A lot of the highly pimped matches I reviewed held up, for example vs. Umaga (*****), vs. Lesnar (*****), but the match against Punk fell flat for me.

 

In fact I winded up on exactly the same rating I did for Okada vs. Omega (***3/4).

 

Sometimes you just "have to be there", and by that I mean in the mental space of having followed the storyline week to week and being emotionally invested in what is going on.

 

I watch modern stuff in exactly the same way as I watch something that happened forty years ago, it makes no difference at all to me. The only difference is that for a lot of old matches the book has already been written and for one that has just happened, we are writing the first few pages.

 

But it surely makes a huge difference whether or not you are following the thing and into it right now (a fan so to speak) or are someone watching it with the same detachment and level of remove as you might watch something from 2000 or 1987 or 1975 ...

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KUSHIDA-Hirumu: Lot of charisma in both guys. Early on I thought there were some cool spots, but I initially couldn’t get into this. It got more exciting with Takahashi on offense. KUSHIDA’s Hoverboard Lock could have been better applied, but I liked the struggle and counters. The finishing stretch of this is definitely vicious and exciting. I still think something was missing here as I wanted there to be more jeopardy, suspense, and perhaps more of a back-and-forth swing. And as I’ve said elsewhere: there were too many title changes on this show. If every champion loses as often as they do in NJPW, it doesn’t create parity among the roster so much as a hot potato effect. For a company that gets praised for its prestige booking in comparison to WWE, there’s actually probably about as much 50/50 booking in New Japan as there is in WWE.

 

Shibata-Goto: Gritty fight, really well done. Shibata’s stomps and kicks were great throughout, and there were some brutal moments like Goto just whiplashing Shibata’s head to the mat. The big stretch at the end here was fantastic: this was worked differently than their matches last year, as this removed a lot of the bad moments where they took turns giving each other free shots to prove their toughness and instead felt like a match they both were eager to win.

 

Tanahashi-Naito: Different, methodical pace from Omega-Okada. I enjoyed Naito both looking and working like late 80s Roddy Piper. The sequence of the Dragon Screw followed by the Sling Blade from Tanahashi was sharp. All of the mutual leg work and big offense in the second half paid off well. This feels like Styles-Cena, in comparison to Omega-Okada being more akin to something like HBK-Taker. Lots of great work here, though I’ll say I didn’t really like the last 4-5 minutes where it felt like them just trading stuff back and forth.

 

Omega-Okada (Rewatch): The first few mins were actually better than I remembered as the matwork’s tighter than you’d think and they’re striking each other pretty hard from the get-go with forearms and elbows. Everything in the first quarter or so of the match is well-paced and interesting. I like that they do the traditional spot of having the face chase the heel outside and have the heel beat the face back into the ring, but with the twist that the face for once manages to still catch and cut off the heel with a big boot to the face.

 

One thing that people might not be liking in Okada is that he’s not facially expressive. He isn’t even stoic so much as he’s just kind of blank. Wherein I said this was the best possible HBK-Taker, I mean that to say that while I’ve never really liked any of the Michaels-Taker stuff, this match was fantastic.

 

Omega’s bumps remain fantastic on second viewing. Dude took a real beating here, getting thrown around and rag-dolling himself to death throughout. There was even a lot of payoff selling as late in the match he was trying to lift Okada and couldn’t because his lower back was destroyed in the big spots, which were as impressive the second time around. Omega’s big kickout out of the Rainmaker was excellent, and the crowd bought it. Really all of the pins at the end worked. People may take this the wrong way as I’m not equating them in quality, but there are aspects to this that I would compare to Chi-Town Rumble, in terms of the frenzied energy of the performers, particularly in the finish. (There were probably a lot of longtime fans who’d grown up in another era and at the time thought Chi-Town Rumble excessive as well.) Still easily the best match of the night even after seeing Naito/Tanahashi and Goto/Shibata.

 

Lastly I’ll say that calling the Rainmaker some needlessly elaborate move to set up and contrasting it to a Hansen lariat doesn’t work for me here, especially in the last three minutes or so, which is build around Okada hitting the move quickly and violently twice, and in between each time hanging onto Omega’s wrist and refusing to let go with the jaws of life even as he’s taking barbaric knees in the face. I agree that the twisting do-si-do on the Rainmaker isn’t a good thing, but particularly in the finish, Okada was altering it into essentially a Jake Roberts short-arm clothesline and stiffing the hell out of Omega with it.

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So thoughts on the show-

 

The junior title match was exactly what it needed to be - a corination of Kamatachi as the next junior Ace. Its the equivilent to Okada coming back and beating Tanahashi in his first mactch back in 2012. The kept Kushida strong the past year or so, beating Omega, winning the Super J Cup, etc., just so that when Kamataichi debuted it would matter. Actually I think this is really smart booking.

 

The main event was really really good. I don't know if its 6 stars one of the 3 or 4 greatest of all time good, but it was really good. I can see complaints about length and uneven selling, but it was an epic physical brawl with crazy athleticism that told a semi logical story.

 

Also they some how managed to draw a slightly bigger crowd this year than last without having Nakamura, Styles, etc on the the show. I don't know if 26,000 paid turns a profit on a Dome show, but Omega and Naito have to take some credit for the uptick in attendance in the second half of the year. A year ago it looked like New Japan could be in a bad way without Nakamura, Ibushi, Styles, etc but attendance either stayed the same or went up at every major show so obviously regardless of what we all think of Omega, he's doing something right.

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So with all the hype Omega vs Okada received I had to give it watch. I will confess that I have never seen either one wrestle before. I wanted to watch Okada for the GWE as I have heard good things, but I just ran out of time.

 

With that being said it is hard to watch a match knowing it received such glowing praise. You start looking for way to criticize it, which is wrong IMO. I really tried my best not to do that.

 

The intros I thought were pretty cool and not over the top. I like the early pacing of the match. I always dislike modern wrestling when it starts out 100mph. Obviously there are exceptions depending on the back story ( I have no idea what it was going in here). They seem to be having a nice back and forth with Omega working a headlock and Okada going for the arm bar. Nothing spectacular. Still very sold execution during the first phase of the match.

 

The middle things pick up nicely to me and you really get a feel for what Omega is trying to do. He's really attacking the back. Okada is really good with his selling. That backdrop the Omega took was executed perfectly. I was genuinely concerned that his tailbone hit on the edge of the platform.

 

I guess the last phase we will call the stretch. Very fast paced, both seemed to be doing a great job of selling fatigue and pain. The crowd has been great this whole match and were really into it. They were a lot of time I thought the match should of ended due to all the big moves. That's something I will never get used to, but I guess that's just how modern wrestling has evolved. Again though great and crisp execution which is very important to me.

 

Overall I really liked the match. It had a big time feel the entire match along with great sense of struggle and importance. Is this a 6 star match? I'm not sure. It was a great match. I'm just not sure if it was enough to break down a barrier of 5 stars.

 

I should also mention I watched this match with Kelly and Corino on commentary. I think that improved my experience as well. Not that I think they are great. They actually remind me of announcers from an 80's ABC Saturday Bowling tour or something. Still better than Japanese to me,since I don't speak the language and I do find that hurting me sometimes.

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I stayed away from the hype. Although I know about the infamous 6 stars, of course. Not that it influence my viewing whatsoever. Not sure if it's a good sign though.

 

Tiger vs Tiger : cool little anime spotfest. Those masks are pretty swank. Lucha Underground needs some japanese guys. Or that ACH dude under a cool mask.

 

Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice : I did a 180° on the Bucks in the last six months. I thought this was really good. Tons of cool, funny shit. The Bucks sure know how to get over and do a whole lot more than just gymnastics. I do feel like they toned down their act a bit too, I mean the spotty aspect of it. Great tights too, as usual. Liked that quite a bit.

 

And then we get into a long stretch of nothingness...

 

Bullet Club vs Kojima/Ospreay/Finlay vs LIJ : Takahashi is such a useless worker than he get even get really hot strippers in Tokyo (well, ok, except the masked one). Pretty sad. Yeah, the Bullet Club looks like NWO B-Team indeed. Time to wrap up this deal, it's old as fuck. Finlay si going for worse look currently in the entire pro-wrestling scene with this sloppy hair, beard and this hideous tights right out of Saved By the Bell colour scheme and font. A WWF jobber in 1994 would not have worn that. Kojima is doing his requisite four spots, which includes the über annoying machnegun chops in the corner, while OSpreay is the most ridiculous wrestler ever. A mix of RVD/Amazing Red on coke with Randy Orton-like "acting". It's so obvious he's a complete mark for his own spots, it's embarrassing, he's not even trying to be a pro-wrestler. Ricochet on the other hand, he's the same kind of worker, only good. How long before he gets signed by NXT ? LIJ are cool and kinda save this cluster, but not really.

 

Cody vs Juice Robinson : And then, there's Juice actually taking the cake for poor choice of tights and color scheme. Those dreadlocks have to go to. He's ok. Cody is soooo WWE-00's-like. Why would anyone in Japan care about this guy ? Fast forward material.

 

Speaking of which, Adam Cole vs KOR was complete "let's cosplay strong-style at the dome", which confirms, if need be, that I won't watch ROH anytime soon, or ever.

 

GOD vs CHAOS vs GHB : El Hijos del Haku have never looked better. Ishii fucking up everyone was fun. Yano did his bit, which I always get into. Makabe was fine palying old power man. Yeah, this was good, best match on the show thus far.

 

This undercard underlines the lack of depth in native talent. Way too much gaijins, including gajins I don't give a fuck about. The back to back US matches were dreadful. Cody is just not very good at pro-wrestling. I have no idea why I should care about Adam Cole, although as a third man on a 6-men tag team match he'd be fine. KOR vs Shibata was really fucking good, but Shibata working pure ROHism wasn't. The Bullet Club guys are just there (and Takahashi can go to, his intro with average looking hoes is still the best minute from his matches). Ospreay is a parody. Where are the japanese guys anyway ?

 

Well. Well. Ok.

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KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi : Never seen Takahashi before. Man, NJWP is really gimmicked up. Not sure I like that. Really impressed by KUSHIDA in this match. He brought the agression, viciousness, stiffness. Takahashi brought blown spots. Okay, that's rough, but he did blow one pretty badly. I liked the focus on the arm, although it's KUSHIDA's usual game. Really well done and paced, without going into overdrive, especially for a junior match. The ending stretch was great. This was excellent/great, although I'm not sold on Takahashi yet. KUSHIDA looked like a ring general.

 

Shibata vs Goto : Big spectacle match which suits the Dome perfectly. Awazing stiffness and crispness from Shibata, who's gimmick is that he's a "wrestler". Which, in a way, is kinda sad for Japan. I haven't got through the thread since I avoided spoilers, but I guess this gets great feedback. I loved parts of this, but way too many no-selling shit for me to call this a great match. A great spectacle and an excellent match, yes. Shibata is gimmicky, but he's very fun to watch. But he's a bit gimmicky to me, which limits his appeal/talent to me. Goto looks like his best days from the G1. Still, none of these two are elite workers. Not that I need them to be to enjoy their matches.

 

6 title change. And two more on the way. There are WAY TOO MANY TITLES in this promotion. It's ridiculous. Cut it down already.

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Tanahashi vs Naito : MOTYC. Already. Great, great match. Everything great about pro-wrestling is right there. And it's really a pretty conservative match in term of spots. Sure, it's modern but it's not heavy on ridiculous stuff, it's pretty tight in how it's put together. And Naito is such a smart worker. Just terrific to watch, although he doesn't do that much outside of his formula, but he knows how to do the important detail things and do them well. Tanahashi still is a great worker. Sorry for those who can't see that. That guy saved New Japan after the disastrous early to mid 00's and the lost generation + the Inokism, he's obviously banged up and on the sliding slope of his career, yet on big occasions he still looks like hecan work circles around anyone. Fuck the haters, this may be the MOTY when all is said and done. It's close to perfect and never goes into excess unlike...

 

Omega vs Okada : So, that's the infamous 6 stars match ? Okay, Let's pretend I didn't hear that. Well, it's a whole lot of wandering around for the first 20 minutes. Them throwing a DDT on the outside after 5 mn didn't sit well with me. Ok, work the back, work the neck. Nothing thrilling really. The match picks up after Omega's insane quebrada to the outside. Ok, that bump into the table is amazing. But they don't do that much with it. Really Okada, you can't even *try* a pinfall after this ? His insistance on applying the Rainmaker is a pretty sad sign that WWEMANIA style of main events made its way into New Japan. But Okada has that WWEism about him that I don't like. So, it's a bomb throwing match. Not that great, but good for what it is. But I checked out after the dragon suplex from the top. Ok, how isn't *THIS* the finish ? Seriously ? Again, that comes directly from ROH shitwork that never understood why AJPW used to be so great. Hint : it was not because they dropped themselves on their head a lot and then kicked out. So, after that point, I was out of the match. If at least Okada would have sold dead for ever until a comebac on the edge, well, yes, that would have worked for me. But this was just the usual deal of kicking out of shit doing more shit and kicking out of it. And that Rainmaker, ok, but when Okada does two devastating spots in a row, get for a fucking pin attempt already. Omega was bumping like a maniac, but grimacing way too much. Not as ridiculous as he could be, but nowhere near his best stuff from the G1. The ending was nice, I guess, but came way too late. I dunno. If you cut 20 minutes you get a very good bomb-throwing match with some ridiculous shit. As it is… Not even as good, as a whole, as the Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice, the Tag team fun cluster and easily the lesser match of the second half. I don't even get why this match would have some special aura at all, really. It was the same deal as usual. Yeah, that table bump is for the ages, but well… A true "Mania moment". Well, wait, the day Omega gets in the WWE, he'll be unbearable. Okada can still have a MOTYC match with the right opponent, as showed by his latest Marufuji match. Omega can also have a MOTYC, and even better than this, if he's reigned in, which wasn't the case here (setting didn't help as he was going for his epic, obviously).

 

What I get from this night : Tetsuya Naito is still the best wrestler in the world today.

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Took me awhile to catch Omega-Okada, but with it appearing on AXS TV, I finally ran out of excuses. The first half of the match was fine in terms of passing the time, but it really didn't set up much of anything that paid off in the stretch run. I guess if there was any overarching story, it was the cumulative effect of Omega's insane effort. And I'll buy that as something noteworthy. You take his 20 best spots in the match--the missile dropkick to the back of Okada's neck, the dive into the stands, the table spot, all the knees--and they amounted to a pretty great 20 spots. The finishing stretch was exactly what it needed to be to mark the match as a memorable Dome main event. I actually didn't think it was excessive. I liked all the teases of Omega's finisher and the fact he never hit it. I liked Okada's struggle to hold Omega in position for the rainmaker. Loved all the knee strikes. So yeah, that's the good.

 

The bad? Couldn't agree more with Phil, Parv, etc. that both guys suck at a lot of basic stuff. How you get to be a top guy in New Japan without learning to throw a decent fucking forearm I will never understand. And to extend that point, I find Okada's offense incredibly lame in general, to the point I struggle to buy him as an ace. Dropkicks aside, I don't get what greatness people see in the guy. I guess you could argue that because of his timing, his charisma and his willingness to sell, he's the perfect canvass on which other guys create these big-time matches. But I don't know. In 47 minutes of wrestling, there was plenty of time to be underwhelmed by the weak connective tissue.

 

I didn't think it was a classic, but it was a worthy big-show main event. If I had to throw a star rating at it, **** feels about right.

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I watched this on AXS last night as well. I thought it was a pretty great big show main event style match, and as a guy who isn't that familiar with Kenny Omega, this felt to me like one of the great big match performances I've ever seen. That said, there were two things that bothered me. Omega's sub-Edge level facial expressions were as bad as advertised, and I really hated the top rope dragon suplex, especially when it was only used for a nearfall about halfway through the match. There are plenty of wrestlers out there with severe neck injuries who never took a spot half as dangerous as that, and for it to only be used to get a two count when they had another 20 minutes or so planned seemed stupid to me, and I'm worried that there will be indie wrestlers who will try to emulate that spot to disastrous results.

 

Otherwise, I felt it was definitely worth watching, and I enjoyed this quite a bit more than Okada/Tanahashi on AXS the week before. I don't believe it to be the greatest wrestling match of all time, but I also don't know that I'd be arrogant enough to anoint any match as the greatest match of all time. It certainly wouldn't go anywhere near my list of favorite matches of all time, but I can also see why others would disagree. Maybe if I had more of a connection to Okada or Omega I'd feel different, but I still think the dragon suplex spot would piss me off enough to not look at it quite that fondly.

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I, too, felt that there were not enough online opinions about this match. Caught it last night on AXS after getting home drunk as hell from my best friend's wedding. Some things were better than I was expecting, other things were far worse.

 

http://segundacaida.blogspot.com/2017/01/i-also-watched-omega-vs-okada.html

 

 

Didn't mention this in my review, but I really disliked Jim Ross throughout much of the match. He came off really phony, in the same way Jeff Blatnick came off while watching Rulon Gardner's big win. He knew everything that was going to happen, and kept trying to craft these phony moments.

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Read some of the talk and even listened to Jim Cornette scream again about how Kenny Omega is wrestling's anti christ...blow up doll, 9 yr old girl etc. :-)

 

So I watched it expecting to make it 10 minutes...but I finished it! Thought it was a great match as it ended. Even thought the Young Bucks were a nice touch at ringside.

 

Read my notes and did the wrestle dork analysis and its probably not a 'great match' for all time but, in 2017, for tying together a good work rate, a couple teases and payoffs and some killer high spots, having psychology with body and back work, and good characters (esp Omega with a Nakamura-esque violent weirdo vibe), its highly recommended for any wrestling fan to check this out.

 

I don't watch current stuff so, take that into account. Maybe Okada and Omega do this type of shit at house shows and its old hat but, I liked it for a Dome main event. Better than any Tanahashi match I've seen...but, I've seen like 5 of those so...

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I don't even understand Jim Cornette. Dude is always bitching about people exposing the business while he constantly is doing interviews or shows where he goes into detail on exposing the business. The business has been exposed for 40 years, man.

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Yeah, I feel similarly... I know what he means but yeah, Pandora's box and all that...work rate and high spots trump characters and drama nowadays...limited attention spans crave action!

 

Anyhow, Omega has done well to eschew his past image, take AJ's Bullet Club spot and become a world class talent...at least judging from this match. I think Cornette has no point concerning Omega in regards to this match.

 

Fun to listen to him scream obscenities though :P According to Jim, the original star system was 4 stars like the movies and 5 stars was the 'over and above' like 6 is now.

 

Speaking of which, I remember reading in one of the top 100 matches of the 80s lists that Meltzer gave one of the Flair/Steamboat '89 matches 6 stars. I am waiting for a 7 star match personally...

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Meltzer has given out more than 5 stars before. Steamboat vs Flair house show from the CapCenter in Landover 3/89, Tenryu and Jumbo vs Choshu and Yatsu from Jan 86, Toyota vs Inoue from 5/92, and Tenryu vs Jumbo 6/89. There was also a Flair vs Windam house show that he gave more than 5 stars as well as a joshi tag.

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I don't even understand Jim Cornette. Dude is always bitching about people exposing the business while he constantly is doing interviews or shows where he goes into detail on exposing the business. The business has been exposed for 40 years, man.

from what i can tell, it's pretty much a gimmick for his podcast business.

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