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Has it passed me by?


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I used to be a regular poster here, but it's been years since I was following wrestling with any regularity. I moved abroad for work in 2015 and bar the very odd match that got exceptional praise (Omega/Okada, for example), you could count on your fingers how many matches (never mind full shows) I've watched since. And when I do, there's often something (or several things) that leave me a little lost. I just never seem to be on the same page or connect with what I'm watching.

My brother recently watched several of the big '90s All Japan matches for the first time, and I decided to do so too. They still work for me as much as they ever did.

So, what I'm hoping to do here is watch recent matches (ie since I stopped following wrestling regularly), see what works for me and what doesn't, and throw in some re-watches of older matches for comparison's sake. 

If anyone wants to jump in with comments, fill me in on some of the backstory, or say why the match works for you etc, then please feel free.    

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So, let's begin:

Kenny Omega/Adam Page vs The Young Bucks (AEW Revolution 2020)

The video I'm watching includes the pre-match video package, where I gather the story went that they were all friends, some dissension arose on Adam Page's end, which only grew as he developed a drinking habit. Omega remained good friends with the Bucks, but the Bucks didn't like that Omega and Page pipped them to the tag titles. Both said video and the announces put over that Omega and Page have some dissension themselves, or are at any rate nowhere near as "together" as the Bucks.

Omega starts out with Nick Jackson, they run through a sequence that's a bit too cute for me, in a Dragon Gate sort of style, but establishing that there's no real issue between them, and they're gonna fight pretty clean with each other. The story kicks in when Page gets in with Matt Jackson: again, I'm not really buying into them competing with each other, but Page spits in his face and they have a little pull apart, with Nick Jackson coming in to calm his brother down.

The Bucks soon roll off a bunch of quick double team spots, a bit too conveniently but I guess that's part of the style (and, to be fair, they all look impressive athletically), and then Page targets Matt's back injury to take over. He throws him outside and is going to powerbomb him through the timekeeper's table and Omega comes around to throw Matt in the ring, telling Page to keep it clean.

Omega is happy, however, to join Page in targeting the injury, and they work over it for a few minutes before Matt tags his brother. At this point, I'm not really getting much re: face/heel. That section on the back felt a bit too short for me as well. When Nick comes in, he begins rolling off a whole list of flashy stuff in very quick succession, which is again, for my tastes, all a bit too cute. Some are so quick that they work, but others look that bit too choreographed.

We settle into a control segment on Kenny, and at this point I'm not really sure where they're going with it. The dissension seems to have gone, Matt isn't antagonising Page, and it feels like just a generic tag match. They do some cool-looking double teams, but the action seems to yo-yo between quick flashy spots in quick succession and basic rest holds and strikes.

After a few minutes, Page gets tagged in and rattles off his own run of spots that kind of mirror what Nick Jackson did, but I'm not sure if that's deliberate or not. The action keeps escalating from there, as in the spots keep getting bigger and eventually into near falls, but I'm not getting any cohesive story following on from the opening. It just feels like a very back and forth juniors "action" match. There's nothing more on Matt's back either, nor am I getting any difference in how the Bucks work vs Kenny (a friend) and Page (not a friend?).

The work is enjoyable enough and it's all very athletic and clean (if not so believable). There's only two spots that are, for me, poorly done. The first is when Nick is going for the rope walk hurricanrana, gets pushed onto the ramp (backflipping) and comes back in with a slingshot Canadian Destroyer. Page just drops his head to take the move. The second is when Kenny does his rolling fireman's carry -> moonsault spot, jumping onto the corner where Nick is crotched and Nick does a poor job at selling that he's trying to grab for Kenny but can't.

As we move into the near falls, Kenny rolls off two snap dragons and a double-underhook piledriver on Nick for a near fall. He puts him on the top rope and Nick counters with a reverse rana. This is where the style feels too back and forth for me. Page tries to get back in and Matt takes him onto the ramp where he gives him three Northern Lights suplexes up the ramp and then the Bucks hit him with a Meltzer driver on the ramp. 

At this point, the Bucks now have Kenny on his own and Matt suddenly reverts to the short-tempered character we saw at the start, ripping the tape off Omega's shoulder and stomping on the injury and Nick is calming him down. They have a couple of near falls on Kenny before Page is back (way too quickly) and is slingshotting himself around the ring with the rope flip clothesline and eventually one of those is enough to get the pin.


As I guess I've outlined throughout that, I struggled to make sense of much of what I was watching. The action was enjoyable. These guys are all super athletic and even if they don't look like they're fighting for the moves, the overwhelming majority of spots look good. But other than the opening section and a bit at the end, I couldn't connect the dots on whatever the story was. It felt to me, as I said, like a longer all-action flashy/junior/Dragon Gate-style match. Another problem for me is that a number of their big moves, like the Meltzer Driver, 450, Page's slingshot clothesline, etc, require them to suddenly have a surge of energy when they've all been hit with a shitload of big moves so the selling is quite up and down. You can't really hit a springboard/slingshot anything with fatigued body language, y'know? 

But, no, as I said at the outset, this isn't designed for me to shit on matches or anything like that. If anyone is a big fan of the match, knows more about how these guys work, etc, and can help me fill in the blanks, then please let me know.  

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Also, as I'm so out of the loop, I'd welcome any match suggestions. I've read about a Danielson/Ospreay match from earlier this year and will try to watch that. I had a quick look in the "Matches" folder and saw that I never got around to writing up my thoughts on Misawa/Kobashi 10/98, so I'll throw that on as well for comparison.  

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If I remember correctly, Page and Omega were like two partners who weren't really friends but linked in someway and happened to work well as a team. The whole story a small chapter of what AEW will focus on in the next year as Kenny Omega turns heel and joins with the Bucks and Page drifts emotioanlly until he's ready to confront the Elite. 

Edit: I find it a little amusing that you didn't LOVE this match, considering everyone was ready to declare it the greatest tag team match ever once the closing bell rang. I never thought it was too amazing myself because of my near-fall fatigue but I enjoyed it much more than most Young Bucks matches. Even a few years removed, you'd might come across people still raving about how great this match is. So yes, this has a major reputation. 

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Bret Hart vs. Mr Perfect (King of the Ring 1993)

I decided to re-watch this match after the above tag as it's one I remember being a simple match but done exceptionally well. 

It's a glorious little match that I'd make obligatory viewing for any young wrestler.

They start with clean wrestling, and whilst it's hardly RINGs, they work the headlocks and sell the competition. Bret gradually establishes himself as the better of the two, and Perfect gets progressively more frustrated. We see him hint at going for the hair several times, and eventually does. He then doesn't break clean off the ropes, and that's enough to take us into his first control. 

Hennig was never a great offensive wrestler, but I think he does a good job here of making sure that each move is that bit bigger than the previous one. He's selling his escalating frustration and also taking his time and everything is allowed to breathe.

A detail of Bret's selling that stands out is his face. He's not demonstrative, he's selling for the front row / cameras, but he's never not selling, he's always in the moment and believing in what he's doing (or, rather, having done to him). A good example is when he gets up to superplex Perfect, and you have to pay attention to see his face, but he's grimacing, fighting.

Bret makes his comeback after that and we end up with a nice contrast as Bret breaks his figure-four immediately whilst a short while later Perfect makes Hebner count to 4.5 before releasing his sleeper.

Bret eventually makes his real comeback, running through Hennig's obligatory hairtoss payback spot (crotching the post) and his own signature spots before going for the Sharpshooter. At several times in the match (including at the very start), Bret's shook his left hand and whilst the comms have missed some of the details, they've noticed the finger injury. He does the same thing here right before going for the Sharpshooter. Hennig, of course, rips at the fingers to thwart it. 

They protect the PerfectPlex, going into the suplex over the ropes to the floor, and back inside Hennig plays possum for the inside cradle, which Bret counters and takes the win.


Other than maybe the suplex to the floor, there's not a single spot here they couldn't do every night and take this exact match around the horn. It's a perfect (NPI) example of the face-face structure with one gradually turning more and more heelish and eventually meeting his comeuppance. Their timing was a little off in the early exchanges, but I feel I'd be nit-picking if I emphasised that. Anyone who's seen them work before would recognise their staple spots (especially Hennig's), but they fit them into what they were doing. I knew exactly what they were doing at times and it felt like watching the world's best rom-com because it's all so predictable but done so very well. Other than maybe Bret slapping on a leglock when Perfect had already escalated the intensity, every choice made sense to me, and even that led to Perfect taking another cheap shot by legdropping his way out of it. 

This was a beautiful, simple wrestling match. 

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5 hours ago, MJH said:

Also, as I'm so out of the loop, I'd welcome any match suggestions. I've read about a Danielson/Ospreay match from earlier this year and will try to watch that. I had a quick look in the "Matches" folder and saw that I never got around to writing up my thoughts on Misawa/Kobashi 10/98, so I'll throw that on as well for comparison.  

Over at Segunda Caida, our way of focusing on AEW is to hone in on Danielson, Darby, Dustin, Punk, and Kingston. From your review of the tag, I’d consider that were I you. Maybe start with the Blue League of the Continental Classic from last year?

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Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston (AEW Revolution 2024)

This is the first time I've ever seen Kingston, although I've heard the name before. My first impression is that he's a bit weird. On the one hand, he obviously knows that he's not the athlete that even Danielson is, never mind Bucks, Omega, etc, and presents himself as a likeable everyman who'd otherwise be having fights in bars. But the flip side is - and I'd heard he's a big All Japan fan - so much of his offence here is obviously an homage to Kawada and Kobashi, and I'm not quite sure those two things go together. If he's gonna ape any top All Japan name with what I gather his character to be, then I'd go for Hansen, but maybe you get used to it in time. I can see where his popularity with the crowd comes from though.

As for the match itself, I certainly understood what they were doing more than the tag match: Danielson is the better of the two, but Kingston has a lot of heart, perseveres, and when they end up in a (kind of) brawl, Kingston is able to edge it. The apron suplex seemed too big there, as I'm used to that being used as a much more pivotal spot and later in the match. When Kingston chopped the post, I flashed back to all those Danielson ROH matches where there was an accidental injury spot in seemingly every match, but I can run with the idea (as the commentator said) that he lured Kingston into it. The exploder seemed pretty big for a hope spot as well, but that's all it ended up being. Danielson was pretty clearly in control for most of the match and knew where I was.

Overall, the match worked for me. It wasn't the most competitive looking match, but certainly better in that regard than the tag and Danielson always sells the match well. There was only really one poor sequence, where Kingston's hand is left there on the ground for Danielson to kick, and then Kingston was waiting around for the running knee. Both were so obvious I was expecting a possum spot. 

The finish was nice and quick, too. The story had been told and there was no reason to go into a bunch of near falls (I can imagine other matches on the show gave the crowd plenty of 2.9s). I think I missed something in the storyline when Danielson ending up in the strike exchange and the commentator said he'd diverted from his gameplan, but the transition worked well enough cold. 

I've no idea how this is considered among their (presumably several) matches together, it was simply the first video I found when I typed "Danielson Kingston" into Google.  

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Will Ospreay vs Konosuke Takeshita (AEW Revolution 2024)

I remember about twenty years ago I met a guy at a party. He was a classmate of a friend and I never met him again. But he had a schtick, a trick, where he could cry on cue. Like, full blown, tears streaming down his face, in a way any great actor would be proud of, and do it almost instantaneously. I don't know if he had a condition of some kind, but he didn't need to make himself upset, he certainly didn't need to pinch himself. I remember seeing him crying with a shit-eating grin, boasting about how he'd use it to pull girls. It was one of the weirdest damn things I've ever seen. I say this, because Will Ospreay reminds me of him.

Ospreay is as athletic as anyone I've ever seen in a wrestling ring. His body control is actually freaky, and I'm wondering what he could have done had he spent his childhood training in gymnastics. Watching how he moved here, I cannot imagine him blowing a spot (although I'm sure he has). And it's not just the spins and twists, but his strikes looked really damn good, his superkicks looked right on the chin, etc etc. I'd honestly never even heard of Takeshita before this and he looks a very clean worker of this type himself, but Ospreay is genuinely awe-inspiring. 

But I didn't buy a single second of it. I'm not even sure if Ospreay himself buys into it. This is as close a match as I've ever seen to having zero selling. I mean, they made "ow" faces etc, but selling isn't just about selling any individual move, but about selling the match, selling that you're in a fight. This was wrestling with the curtain completely withdrawn. It reminds me of Penn and Teller's routine where they do the cups and balls with plastic see-through cups, and Penn is telling you how they're doing it, but their slight of hand is so fucking quick it still looks magical.

The crowd didn't seem to care about that, of course, chanting "fight forever". They came to see flashy spots and they got flashy spots. At some point, AEW/etc crowds will realise "that's some cool shit" can be chanted to the same rhythm and will do away with any notion of "fight" in such matches. 

NB: This was on the same channel/feed as the Bryan/Kingston match and I thought it would make an interesting comparison to Bryan/Ospreay. 

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Bryan Danielson vs. Will Ospreay (AEW Dynasty)

This was better than the Takeshita match, but a lot of the same problems were there. Barely a minute after a top rope tiger suplex of all things, Ospreay is on his knees and calling for more strikes. Moments later, he's bouncing around. And then right at the end, after the stand-off spot where Ospreay beats Danielson to the punch, thirty minutes into a match that's had all sorts of big spots, Ospreay is firing up, fresh as a daisy, as if the match has just begun. Sure, there were times when they lay down and sold a move, but whenever they needed to hit a spot, there was nothing in their body language to tell me they'd been in a fight for twenty or however many minutes. Everything looked good (great!) in the moment, but none of it had any lasting impact. 

I think what hurts it as well is there's never any real momentum. I didn't latch onto any story at all. Danielson controlled more of it early on the mat, Ospreay would surprise him with his quickness, but it never went anywhere and after the Tiger Suplex in particular, it was just all moves for me. I get that in a "dream match" it's going to be somewhat back-and-forth, and as a one-off thing you don't have many places you can take the story, but I don't think either had any sustained control for even five minutes of a match that went over thirty. I don't think either got so much as three consecutive near falls on the other, and even two in a row wasn't that often. It got to a point where I knew a counter was coming ahead of time because it was the other's turn for a near fall, like a constant yo-yo.

I've always been a maximalist, more is more guy. It's not the moves themselves that are the problem. Misawa/Kobashi 1/97 has as many moves as any match you're ever gonna see, but they transition, what, six or seven times in forty minutes? I wouldn't wanna count how many times this swung back and forth. It's just far too dizzying. 

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Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi (July 29th, 1993)

This is so, so much better than the above matches (even Bret/Hennig) that it almost feels unfair to compare them. (And to a point with Bret/Hennig it is unfair, because they were just trying to have a nice little match on a show when Bret had two others). 

There's no point my going into too much detail as it's one of the most famous All Japan matches. It's some ten or fifteen years since I watched it, and I had forgotten that Hansen barely gets a consistent run of offence. Kobashi takes the first eight minutes or so, at first urgent, then a bit more composed, until Hansen levels him with the boot in the corner and then splats him on the floor. Yet Kobashi keeps fighting back and how they're able to have Kobashi take so much of the match and yet remain the clear underdog is remarkable. 

But what really makes this, of course, is how much it feels like a fight. Everything counts. Yes, the shiner helps, but even when Kobashi is climbing to the top rope to go for a moonsault or whatever, you know he has been in, you know he is in, a fight for his life. Hansen's selling is even better, his face is for the camera and his body for the back row. And when he is on offence, he's giving it everything whilst putting over that the kid is really taking it out of him too.

On the one hand, these guys had it a little easier. The Budokan crowd wanted to believe and were never gonna break into "this is awesome" no matter how much the match was. And maybe for the wrestlers it was easier to believe in what they were doing because the audience did (or wanted to) as well. But Hansen and Kobashi told an obvious story, everything they did looked great and fit, and (most importantly of all) they sold this match in a way that none of the AEW guys came close to.

I remember at some point in Danielson/Ospreay, the crowd chanted "this is wrestling". No. This is. And it's why the crowd chanted their names instead.   

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Great thread. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on CM Punk v. Eddie Kingston from AEW Revolution 2021, Punk-Mox v. FTR from an AEW Dynamite episode, Bryan Danielson v. Ricky Starks, AEW All Out 2023. 

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CM Punk/Jon Moxley vs. FTR (AEW Dynamite, 2022)

I'm assuming this is the match MoS meant. This is my first time watching FTR and they seem solid enough. One thing I've always liked about both Punk and Moxley is whilst they can be a bit hammy (especially the latter), they do believe in their characters and the mask doesn't slip much. That was true here as well.

This was a really nice TV match, actually, at least until the finishing stretch, which took me out of it a bit. I liked how they did a quick section on Punk's leg (from a previous injury angle?) but he got out of there as quick as he could, only for FTR to then then take out Moxley during the break. I think the match would have benefitted from Punk having to go it alone on a bad wheel after the hot tag while Moxley recuperated. I guess that would have needed a few more minutes than they had though.

Some of the four-man spots at the end were a bit too cute as they don't have the physical ability to pull them off as well as the Bucks/Omega/Ospreay etc, and the Doomsday Device felt like a cheap pop. Moxley also came back too quickly from the DDT on the floor, at least for my liking. It all felt a bit forced, really, as if they had to get those do-si-do spots in rather than just let the match develop organically into its final act. 

It always feels a bit flat when its the ending that lets you down, but this had a very solid first 3/4s.  

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CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston (AEW Full Gear 2021)

This was the only Punk/Kingston match I could find from AEW, so I'm assuming it's the one MoS mentioned.

This was good (mostly*). Kingston looked better here than against Danielson, I think mostly just by dropping the AJ tribute spots. No real story here other than "we fight", but they sold it. Nothing amazing - I don't think Punk is made for the intensity that would elevate a match like this - but a good short match.  

*But whoever thought Punk doing two WWE tribute spots right in the middle of the match is dumb as fuck. They looked like shit and were completely out of place.     

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Been really interesting to follow your thoughts on these matches. I love Punk-Kingston, it's one of my favourite matches of this century tbh. 

Punk was doing a lot of Bret Hart tribute spots during his AEW run. It would get ridiculous sometimes. I am sure tech-savvy people have made compilation clips of this. He fucked up doing the figure four on the turnbuckle once against MJF. 

FTR v. Young Bucks from AEW Dynamite in April 2022, Darby Allin v. Miro from a May 2021 Dynamite, and some Sting/Darby tags, including the Sting retirement match from AEW Revolution 2024. 

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Also, it's not really a "match" match, but Austin-Owens from WM 38 was something I enjoyed tremendously, more than the Rock return main event tag against Cody/Rollins, and the two Roman-Cody matches, to say nothing of Roman-Brock. I am probably in the minority regarding that, but Austin's presence, charisma, his understanding of how to milk the most basic spot for maximum effectiveness, all played a part in turning this match into something far better than it was supposed to be. 

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Aja Kong vs. Manami Toyota (AJW Big Egg)
I was thinking about what would be the most direct comparison between a typical modern athletic big action match and an older one, and decided on early '90s AJW. 

There are similarities, which I'll get to, but a couple of key differences.

The first is that this has a much stronger, more obvious story, although that's because it's Aja vs. Toyota. I'm gonna set that aside until I rewatch Toyota vs. Yamada or Kyoko.

The most obvious difference is in how they sell the match. There's an intensity to their performance that Ospreay etc don't have at all. This never felt like two people performing. I can't say it felt like a fight in the way Hansen/Kobashi did, but they are both in the moment and believing in what they're doing far more than the AEW matches. 

Toyota, of course, was never great at selling the beating she's taken when on offence, BUT, she sells the urgency in a way that the AEW guys didn't. And at least against Aja, it works. Her selling of the beating itself, though, was as good as it gets, and I can't think of anyone who matches her for the sheer, sustained maximalism (read: screaming, etc) of his selling. 

Aja's performance was better in regards to the consistency of her selling, in so much as she is gradually selling more and more. She's barely emoting anything in the beginning as she spends the first few minutes casually kicking Toyota's ass. After a couple of hope spots, she ramps up the intensity (no pun intended), and she does a great job at putting over Toyota's damage when hitting her final few moves. 

Ultimately, this is a great spot-fest for the dome. 

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6 hours ago, MoS said:

Punk was doing a lot of Bret Hart tribute spots during his AEW run.

In this instance, I believe he's referring to the Cena spot and the Eddie Guerrero tribute. I liked the first one because it played into Kingston accusing Punk of becoming what he had previously railed against during the build, but the second one fell flat for me as well.

Anyway, here are a few more matches from this decade I think are worth checking out:

Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage (Dynamite, January 2021)
WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Stand and Deliver 2021)
Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair (Wrestlemania 38)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Kaito Kiyomiya (Mutoh retirement show)
Owens/Zayn vs. Usos (Wrestlemania 39)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson (Wrestle Kingdom 18)
Gunther vs. Sheamus (Raw, May 2024)

The second Hangman/Danielson match is my current MOTD, but I don't recommend going in cold because you have to be familiar with Danielson's previous AEW work to fully appreciate it.

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I watched the highlights of the Cody vs. A.J. match and KNEW that wrestling had passed me by.  They managed to take an I Quit match and kill the concept.  It was everything bad about ECW plus everything bad about modern WWE.

Every Kenny Omega/Bucks match I have ever seen looks like what would have been called a "spotfest" or "your turn/my turn" back when I was watching consistently in the 90s through late 2010s.

I put down 10 bucks for Dragon Gate to watch what they were doing and it seems like they are less lucharesu and more NJPW juniors lite, with the standard elbow exchange that 99% of the workers using it besides the 5 Pillars get wrong.  The whole idea was not that you should stand there and elbow each other to fill time.  It was that Misawa had a killer elbow and would try to lure his rivals into giving him some extra damage while he was on the wrong side of things.  If you're not Misawa or you aren't known for throwing killer elbows, you shouldn't be doing it.  Especially if you are the small guy in a match.

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Given your comments on Ospreay's selling, you might enjoy some of the recent Ilja Dragunov matches, specifically the recent Bron Breakker match on Raw. He's great at putting across the cumulative impact of the match in his selling.

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My favorite AEW TV match is by far FTR vs. Bullet Club Gold (Jay White and Juice Robinson) 2 out of 3 falls from AEW: Collision July 15, 2023. It is the only AEW episode that I haven't deleted from my PVR and is one of my favorite matches of the 20s.

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