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Puroresu Show Reviews

Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Dragon Gate 8/1/2004 PPV

Show kicks off with Final M2K coming out short one member. Aagan Iisou then come out and they start arguing for awhile before everyone leaves. Second Doi forgets his prized baseball bat and goes back to the ring to get it and is attacked by a “mysterious assailant” dressed as a catcher! He choke slams Doi and gives him a big splash before making off with his bat. This was doomed from the start when the guy couldn’t keep his mask on and everyone knew who he was.

Anthony W. Mori, YOSSINO & Milano Collection AT (Italian Connection) VS Genki Horiguchi, Dragon Kid & Magnum TOKYO (DO-FIXER)
This was a great match to kick off the night. Genki Horiguchi is THE MAN! He’s just friggin’ awesome to watch! He’s definitely one of the more entertaining wrestlers I’ve ever seen and can work both seriously and comically. This match also shows why Magnum is referred to as Mr. Egoist, as at times you can’t tell if he’s a face or a heel due to his antics of using some dirty tricks to even abusing his team mates (Genki). I like Mori and I definitely want to see more of Milano. YOSSINO didn’t do much save for taunting Genki at the start of the match, and Dragon Kid wasn’t given much ring time either. But I didn’t really mind since more air-time was given to Genki! But this really was an overall great match!
Match Rating: ****

Magnum and team DO-FIXER stick around to check out young prospect Tanisaki, who’s match is up next.

Naoki Tanisaki “Surfing the way of DO-FIXER” Trial Series Finals
Naoki Tanisaki VS Shogo “Jet” Takagi

Takagi SUCKS. Can someone PLEASE teach him some wrestling moves?!? Is he REALLY a graduate of the Ultimo Dragon Gym cause you could have fooled me since every match I’ve seen of him, he CAN’T WORK!!! His whole freakin’ arsenal are just punches and shoulder blocks. Anything else he did that resembles a wrestling move was purely coincidental. Did Ultimo seriously pass this guy from class just for doing the crappy moves he does now?!?
I wasn’t too big on the finish of this match either when Mr. Egoist got involved. Tanisaki is definitely someone to keep your eye on in the future as he did the best he could to pull a wrestling match out of useless Takagi.
Match Rating **

Ryo Saito VS Don Fuji

Saito is a really good worker and has a big following on the internet. He’s definitely more than just Horiguchi’s HAGE cheerleader. Fuji is a veteran and a power worker, but sometimes I feel he should be doing comedy matches due to his persona. Pretty good back and forth match, though I’m not big on flash finishes, especially the one done here after a big move sequence near the end. Still OK match though.
Match Rating: **1/2

Intermission time and they show clips from various Florida Brothers matches to hype their upcoming match against the CRAZY MAX aces as their biggest match to date.

Florida Brothers (Michael Iwase & Daniel Mishima) VS CIMA & SUWA
This was just off the charts hysterical! You KNOW the Florida Brothers are destined for greatness when their antics even crack up the usually stern SUWA! Osaka Pro referee Matsui has NOTHING on the Dragon Gate referee here either! The only reason SUWA is in this match is because his shoulder still isn’t 100% healed yet. He did manage to outsmart them a bit though. Every time it looked like CIMA & SUWA had a wrestling match going, the Bros would do something comical to break up the pace! Again, if you show this to anyone, they’ll instantly believe pro-wrestling is fake, but no one can resist laughing at their antics here!
Match Rating: ***
Entertainment Rating: DROP DEAD HILARIOUS!!!

Aagan Iisou VS Final M2K 8-Man Elimination Match
Shuji Kondo, Touru Owashi, “brother” YASSHI & Takuya Sugawara VS Masaaki Mochizuki, Second Doi, Susumu Yokosuka & Kenichiro Arai

Can you believe they actually played an angle where Aagan Iisou sent Araken to the wrong arena, then Araken had to run on foot all the way across town to the Differ Ariake arena? The crowd popped big time for when he made it to the arena and finally got into the match though. Corny angle aside, this was a great match!
I really liked the way they made Final M2K the underdog team against the ever cheating Aagan Iisou team, and it seems as annoying as he is, “brother” YASSHI will always get beat up in some embarrassing way in his matches, like what Susumu did here to counter his bronco buster. Owashi is still an unstoppable monster, Sugawara is the good all-rounder, and Kondo was the bad-ass heel leader who like bullying smaller guys with his power moves.
Mochizuki is still one of the best, though he’s the only guy on his team that can match size and power with the enemy faction. He still moves quite well too. Second Doi is definitely going to be a rising star for the company, and his variation of the F5 finisher is awesome to say the least. Susumu again is an awesome well rounded grappler, and I can’t wait to see his ODG title match with CIMA. I used to think Araken was just another old veteran, but the man can still work and the fans are into him.
The overall match was a great back and forth scramble. Great main event for the PPV and of course, the FM2K VS Aagan Iisou war is far from over.
Match Rating: ****

Post match, Second Doi calls out Don Fuji and demands his bat back. Fuji plays dumb but eventually agrees to give it back if Doi can beat him at Dragon Gate’s next PPV at Korakuen Hall. Doi reluctantly accepts to end the show.

Overall: This was a really good show! Their first big gig under the Dragon Gate name and they met all expectations. The name may have changed, but the style hasn’t. Definitely a show worth checking out.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004


All Japan October Giant Series 1998

I recently had the chance to watch this tape in it's entirety all over again the other day, and it's still an awesome tape to add to anyone's tape collection! Highlighted by an incredible Triple Crown title match that was voted Match of the Year by Wrestling Observer, and a great tag title match between BURNING and the Holy Demon Army!

Mitsuharu Misawa & Jinsei Shinzaki VS Kenta Kobashi & Takao Omori (10/24/98)
- Highlights of this tag match to hype the upcoming Triple Crown match between Kobashi and Misawa. Clipped down, so not much is shown. But the reigning Triple Crown champion Kobashi nails Misawa with a rare Burning Hammer to pin the then company ace. I won't rate this match since it was clipped down alot.

All Japan Triple Crown Title (10/31/98)
Mitsuharu Misawa VS Kenta Kobashi

After all this time, this is STILL one of my all time favourite classic matches! A great back and forth bout with good strikes thrown, good mat work and some insanely painfull looking big spots, including Misawa delivering a very dangerous Tiger Driver to Kobashi off the apron to the floor! And Misawa's Tiger Driver '91! As well as the usual goodness from Kobashi's half-nelsons and sleeper suplexes! This 45-minute classic is a must have for anyone into awesome, no-BS, high-impact modern pro-wrestling matches! A great showcase of two of the greatest modern day pro wrestlers of our time and it's no wonder this match was voted 1998 Puroresu Match of the Year!
Match Rating: *****

All Japan Double Tag Titles (10/11/98)
Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama VS Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue

Team BURNING VS The Holy Demon Army. What more do I need to say about two of the greatest tag teams in the world EVER? This was another awesome encounter between these two rival teams with the usual tag greatness associated with the four men involved.
Match Rating: ****

Jinsei Shinzaki VS Mitsuharu Misawa (10/11/98)
This was decent, despite the slow pace of the match. You could probably consider it a standard "by the numbers" match, with Shinzaki trying to take down the ace of All Japan. Best spot of the match was when Shinzaki did an incredible dive off the top onto Misawa in the crowd, taking out the first three rows of seats! Misawa made Shinzaki look good, taking alot of his kicks and strikes, even the Praying Powerbomb, but at the end of the day, Misawa prevailed with his patented Tiger Driver.
Match Rating: ***

Overall: Even after all this time, this is still a great tape to get for the Triple Crown match alone! Definately recommended for collectors of the classics, or newbies wanting to find out what the fuss over the Misawa/Kobashi feud was all about.


Monday, September 13, 2004


NOAH DEPARTURE 7/10/2004 Tokyo Dome Show

Mitsuo Momota VS Haruka Eigen
The usual bout between these, but on a grand scale in the Tokyo Dome which the live crowd just ate up! Giant swings and spitting into the crowd abound, followed by the usual old-school goodness.
Match Rating: **

Tamon Honda, Jun Izumuda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Masao Inoue, Kishin Kawabata & Masaji Aoyagi
This was a fun even though it mostly centered around Kikuchi and Aoyagi pulling some comedy spots. It still surprises me how much better Aoyagi is now compared to watching his FMW match with Onita from almost TEN YEARS ago! It’s too bad Honda only had all of two minutes of in-ring time in a big Tokyo Dome match after the big push he had in 2003. But this was still an enjoyable match to watch.
Match Rating: ***

Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan VS Kotaro Suzuki & Ricky Marvin
Maybe it’s because of the size of their opponents, but Modest & Morgan seriously look too big to be Jr. heavyweights! And Morgan even looks like a cross between A-Train & Crash Holly! I really feel for Suzuki & Marvin as they are two great high-flyers stuck as rag-dolls to be tossed around by the bigger gaijins. And yes, Marvin blew a spot, but that wasn’t all his fault. The match got really good when Marvin & Suzuki upped the pace and Modest & Morgan showed some great tandem offense. Watching this also makes me want to watch the GHC Jr. tag title match Marvin & Suzuki had just before the Dome show.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Akitoshi Saito & Makoto Hashi VS Scorpio & Richard Slinger

If I had to pick worst match of the night, I’d probably pick this one. It wasn’t that bad, but wasn’t anything special either. And like everyone else, I do question Misawa’s booking decision in putting the gaijins over here. At least with Modest & Morgan it was to build momentum for a GHC Jr. tag title match, but this didn’t make much sense even though Scorpio is the senior. I would have preferred if Misawa spared the expense to bring in Vader to team with Scorpio one more time just for the Tokyo Dome spectacle.
Match Rating: **

Harley Race is shown at ringside since his WLW champion will be in action next.

Akira Taue & Takuma Sano VS Daisuke Ikeda & Muhammed Yone
This was a fun match with Yone showing a lot of spirit trying to prove himself. The four men in this match are all great workers, three of them could be carrying the NOAH banner in the future, and either one of these teams could be future GHC tag champions. There were a lot of fun spots and big moves in this one and it was definitely one of the better tag matches of the evening. Though I still believe they should have given Ikeda the chance to wrestle solo and defend the WLW title.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Pre-taped segment of Rusher Kimura announcing his retirement. They show some classic moments from his career in the 70’s against Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta, followed by some clips of his legendary mic-work. Rusher then gives his thanks and puts the mic down one last time in a really touching moment. (For the record, one of my all time favorite Rusher memories was a six man tag with Andre the Giant where after Andre cleared the ring, he and Rusher danced a waltz around the ring! Watching his work from his earlier years does make me want to get some old classic tapes.)

GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Takashi Sugiura & Kendo KaShin VS Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA

Right off the bat Sugiura and KaShin had trouble getting along, and it was almost comedic watching them argue and miscommunicate. ALL the goodness in this match strictly came from Sugiura, Marufuji and KENTA, and I don’t think KaShin bumped all that much either. Ok, maybe he did make a few attempts to make himself worthy of being in the match when he stole Sugiura’s Olympic Slam and Marufuji’s Shiranui, but both attempts weren’t pretty. Sugiura on the other hand bumped his ass off for the champions though, and I never thought I’d see the day Marufuji would blow a spot! Great match in the end, and Marufuji also seemed to have hurt himself in the closing spot and needed to be carried out.
Match Rating: ****1/4

GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship
Yoshinobu Kanemaru VS Jushin Thunder Liger

This match easily put a lot of X-Division and WWE Cruiserweight title matches to shame! This was also the best Liger match I’ve seen since he won the title off Sugiura in January at Wrestling World 2004. Kanemaru bumped his ass off here for Liger, who relentlessly Liger-bombed, shoteied and brainbustered him all over the ring! Kanemaru held his own even though the match did look a bit one sided at times, as he connected with his signature Deep Impact DDT, moonsault and brainbusters of his own. Great MOTY quality match with an ending that really made you wish it would go just a few minutes longer!
Match Rating: ****1/2

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima VS Yoshihiro Takayama & Minoru Suzuki

This was not the total squash that reports on the internet made it out to be. It actually reminded me of the old Steiner Brothers VS Outsiders feud during the WCW/NWO wars. Suzuki was very much like Scott Hall, being all cocky and arrogant to antagonize his larger opponents, and would tag in the big man, Takayama, after agitating WILD II enough. It was really funny when Rikioh finally got his hands on Suzuki though! Seriously though, this was a fun tag match, and I don’t think WILD II looked all that weak as the press made it out to be, maybe Morishima since he took the fall, but WILD II definitely aren’t MILD II.
Match Rating: ***1/2

GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles

Keiji Mutoh & Taiyo Kea VS Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa
Ogawa actually played second fiddle here as Misawa again had a huge target on his head from both Mutoh & Kea. The crowd was hot for every Misawa/Mutoh exchange, and both men antagonized each other by stealing each other’s finishers! It was also good to see Ogawa take a few bumps and Kea wasn’t all that bad either, too bad he didn’t bring the loaded knee-pad with him! Kea showed a lot of fighting spirit as he took on his old mentors and held his own against Misawa.
Match Rating: ***1/2

GHC Heavyweight Championship
Jun Akiyama VS Kenta Kobashi

These two literally tried to KILL EACH OTHER! This was a great match that was nicely built up from the beginning, with some good mat work and strike exchanges before leading to some INSANE bumps to close out the match! They even played some brief recap footage of their history from All-Japan to present to hype the history between the two. It was a good idea for Akiyama to NOT work on Kobashi’s arm, hence removing any ‘no-sell’ later in the match like what usually happens in Kobashi matches. Instead, Akiyama attacked the neck and legs, to set up the dreaded “King Crab” hold. I did notice the match was rather one sided at times with Kobashi dominating and over-powering Akiyama throughout most of the match, but Akiyama came back after every big hit and move Kobashi threw at him.
And damn did they throw everything they had at each other! Chops, elbow shots, face kicks, lariats, suplexes, backdrops, exploders, half-nelsons and a bunch more devastating headdrops and both men wouldn’t stay down!
This was a truly awesome encounter of the two top stars of the company. Even though Akiyama lost in the end, the sense that he could have won if Kobashi didn’t counter the Sterness Dust still leaves the thought lingering in your head if that could have been the move to put Kobashi away.
Match Rating: *****

Overall: Despite the “weak on paper” look of the card and questionable booking decisions, NOAH’s first solo trip to the Tokyo Dome was a really good show. The problem being that the same card could easily have been booked for smaller venues. Hopefully Misawa and co. will learn from this and make any future trips to the Dome more anticipating and more captivating. We know the work is there, they just need to improve the presentation.
Still, the live crowd was into everything on the show, which is always a good thing. I highly recommend this show just not just for the sheer historic aspect of it, cause it was indeed a darn good show!


Friday, September 10, 2004


TORYUMON Japan "Revolucion" PPV 2/22/2004

I had this tape sitting around for several months before I finally got around to watching it last night! TORYUMON are the only Indy fed I know in Japan that run monthly PPVs which they named "Revolucion", and they continue to do so now under the Dragon's Gate banner. Let's get to it!

TARU VS Shogo "Jet" Takagi
I thought Jet only threw punches and shoulder blocks at the 6th Anninversary show becuase there were seven other guys in the match to go around, but here he displayed that punches and shoulderblocks (and a dropkick) really are ALL that he can do! TARU himself is limited, but at least he tries to vary his offense. TARU's TARU Driller piledriver is pretty cool though. Nothing special here, just a setup for the main event later.
Match Rating: **

Magnum TOKYO comes out and cuts a short promo on his recent losing of the UDG title to SUWA. Don't know what he said, but looked like the old "Shawn lost his smile" routine.

Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi VS Second Doi & Dragon Kid
I really like Horiguchi! He's got the look of a maniac, but is a really great worker able to blend fast paced action with comedy work! He's the veteran that gets the younger guys over, and this match was all about getting Second Doi over. Ryo Saito is pretty cool too, getting the crowd to cheer on Horiguchi when he got in trouble. This was a really good match, too bad Dragon Kid didn't get to show much here.
Match Rating: ***1/2

The Florida Brothers VS Kenichiro Arai
This was originally a singles match, but Arai wanted both of them at once so we get a handicap match instead. Show this match to anyone, and they'll use it against you that pro-wrestling is fake, but this was seriously HILARIOUS!!! The Florida Bros are just are just great at their roles, and they even used botched spots to their their comedic advantage! Something is definately wrong with you if you don't laugh out loud while watching this!
Match Rating: **
Entertainment Rating: PRICELESS!!!

Anthony W. Mori & Super Shisa VS YOSSINO & Milano Collection AT
This was another great tag match. Mori hadn't joined the Italian Connection yet, but you could definately tell from his looks that he would fit right in. Really an enjoyable match with some great spots.
Match Rating: ***

Intermission time, and how smart are they to play clips of past matches to hype the upcoming semi-final bout and main event? They play highlights of Mochizuki VS Yokosuka, the match where Yokosuka lost and changed his name from since there could only be one Mochizuki in TORYUMON. They then play highlights of an awesome looking 10-man DO-FIXER VS M2K elimination match.

Susumu Yokosuka VS Masaaki Mochizuki
This was an awesome back and forth contest, with Yokosuka attacking Mochizuki's legs so he couldn't use his deadly kicks. There's alot of potential in Susumu, and Mochizuki helped put him over big time as a viable contender. This was actually a very good heavyweight style contest. This was definately the match of the night.
Match Rating: ****

UWA Six Man Tag Titles
CIMA, SUWA & Don Fujii VS Shuji Kondo, Touru Owashi & Brother YASSHI

This started really good, but I was scratching my head at the end of it. Sure they pulled off an original ending to the match (at least I haven't seen something like this before), but it all came off as a "Spoiling the Illusion" moment for me. Also probably would have been better if the main focus of the match wasn't just on Brother YASSHI & Don Fujii. This is PPV for God's sake! Let the aces carry the match!
Still, there were some really good spots in this one, like how CRAZY-MAX finally managed to shut-up the always annoying Brother YASSHI, and their triple team to help CIMA get the monstrous Owashi into a Iconoclasm slam!
Match Rating: ***1/2

Overall: This was a good show, but it didn't feel PPV worthy at some points. The ending of the main event was really puzzling considering the way they pulled it off. Still, like WWE PPV's, the undercard was really good and worth watching.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004


New Japan G-1 CLIMAX 2003 Vol.3

8.15.2003 Tokyo:
Yutaka Yoshie VS Tadao Yasuda (Block B)

Thrust Yoshie to be the man that brings a watchable match out of Yasuda! Yoshie has been really fun throughout the G-1, much like Nishimura, putting on enjoyable matches with whoever they are paired with. This wasn’t outstanding, but still enjoyable as Yoshie matched size and power with Yasuda who’s just lousy at selling anything and moves like he has no knees or elbows.
Match Rating: ***

Osamu Nishimura VS Hiroshi Tanahashi (Block A)

I’m really enjoying Nishumura’s work in this G-1, and he once again delivers! This is probably the second Tanahashi match I’ve enjoyed so far in the G-1, as he tries to outwit the master of Muga-World and they had some good mat exchanges. The spot where they roll out of the ring and hit the floor while locked in a figure-four looked genuinely painful for both of them! I wished they could have thought up a better ending for the match though, but I’m guessing they wanted to save time for the main event of the day.
Match Rating: ***

Yuji Nagata VS Shinsuke Nakamura (Block B)

The only weakness I can see in Nakamura (and Shibata) is that he has a very limited moveset. Nagata really schooled Nakamura here and showed his seniority. They exchanged a good series of strikes and submissions, but the ending of the match was really one sided.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Manabu Nakanishi VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan (Block A)

I remembered watching their 2001 G-1 match, and that was a very good match. But one thing I’ve constantly hated about Nakanishi throughout this G-1 is his lack of effort at selling and general laziness at times, there’s not much he can do when he’s not in control of the match. But this was an almost even back and forth contest as they traded chops and submissions and brawled in between. Good match.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Yoshihiro Takayama VS Katsuyori Shibata (Block B)

It’s pretty obvious that if Takayama was 100%, Shibata would not have had his way with him like he did here, and the match probably would have ended a lot sooner. Give credit to Takayama for selling big time for Shibata to make him look like a credible opponent. This match had it’s fun moments when Takayama is in charge, but Shibata really is boring and can’t carry a match to keep me interested for long.
Match Rating: ***

Masahiro Chono VS Jun Akiyama (Block A)

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they couldn’t just let Akiyama get over Chono. This was probably one of Akiyama’s weaker matches in the G-1 since Chono isn’t as mobile as the rest of the field. The match consists of a lot of rest holds from Chono as he tries to wear down the NOAH ace. Every time it looked like Akiyama would quicken the pace, Chono would slow it back down again. The final moments of the match weren’t all that good either since Chono was obviously exhausted, but still had to control the match.
Match Rating: ***

8.16.2003 Tokyo:

Yuji Nagata VS Katsuyori Shibata - Block B Semi-Finalist Decision Match.
The winner of this would face Jun Akiyama later in the night in the G-1 Semi Finals.
I really wished their first match in the tourney would have ended as quickly as this one, and it was smart of Team New Japan to finally take out the cheating Makai Club before they could have any effect on the match. They traded stiff shots and submissions like their previous match, but Nagata came out on top dominantly this time.
Match Rating: ***

Yuji Nagata VS Jun Akiyama - Semi-Finals

These two have a long history starting as friends and ending up as rivals even though they were from different promotions! In 2002, they main-evented New Japan’s annual Wrestling World Tokyo Dome show where Akiyama successfully defended the GHC heavyweight championship against Nagata. Then, just a month earlier, Nagata shocked everyone avenging his previous loss by defeating Akiyama on a NOAH show in just under seven minutes! Nagata may have already wrestled a quick bout earlier in the evening, but he brought 100% to this tie-breaker match with his NOAH equal.
And this match was definitely a lot better than their 2002 bout as the two looked almost dead even trading shots and submissions. At the end of it, this was one of those matches you wished could have gone just a few minutes longer.
Match Rating: ****1/2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Yoshihiro Takayama - Semi-Finals

Takayama was not at 100%, but yet managed to put on a better match with Tenzan than anyone else he faced in the entire tournament! This was even better than their Yokohama Dead Out IWGP title match! Another great back and forth brawl with the crowd heavily heated cheering on Tenzan against the reigning IWGP champion.
Match Rating: ****1/4

8.17.2003 Tokyo:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Jun Akiyama - FINALS

Who’d have thought the match that main evented the opening day would also main event the finals? This was just a totally awesome contest and surprisingly even better than their first encounter days earlier. Despite a power advantage, Tenzan was still the underdog here against Akiyama’s skill and cunning, which resulted in a lot of great exchanges. This match was definitely Match of the Year material and worthy of every bit of praise it received at the time.
Match Rating: ****1/2

Overall: This was indeed a collection of some of the better NJPW matches I’d ever watched. You will definitely want to get this, if you already haven’t, to watch Tenzan’s rise to the top, as well as the rising stars in Nakamura, Tanahashi and Yoshie. And the already established stars and one Jun Akiyama (who’s booking on the tour was rather questionable) all come together to put on one hell of a tournament. It started off good before slowing down a bit in the middle, but ended being truly a highly recommended offering from New Japan Pro Wrestling.



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