Puroresu Show Reviews
Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection
Friday, April 22, 2005
All Japan "REALIZE" 2/16/2005
MAZADA VS NOSAWA Rongai
A dark match that’s televised? Ok...
This was an entertaining opener as the two former tag partners went at it, and of course, weapons would get involved. MAZADA looks a bit like Jumbo Tsuruta for some freakishly strange reason. The two regular brawlers kept a good pace and was overall quite entertaining and served the purpose of hyping the crowd for the upcoming event.
Should also be noted that Osaka Pro senior referee Matsui was the referee of the match.Match Rating: **Tomoaki Honma, Taichi Ishikari & Akira Raijin VS Love Machine Arashi, Makai Love Machine #2 & Mini Love Machine #2
My first look at rookie Akira Raijin, and I was not impressed as the youngster didn’t show anything special to stand out like Kohei Suwama has other than his bald head. He seems to be pushing himself be one of those guys with a hard head, but he looks just really weak overall.
I’m not sure, but I think Mini Love Machine #2 is Small Dandy Fuji from Toryumon X, as he has the same build, but the guy is seriously SMALL! Even Ishikari dwarfed the guy! And I think Honma enjoyed beating him and tossing him around. He didn’t show much in the way of skill though cause he was just too small to compete with these guys.
I think Jim Steele was Makai Love Machine #2 cause he definitely had the build of a gaijin. It’s too bad they couldn’t find anything better for him to do cause his tandem with Mike Barton was making big waves just two years ago. He played the part of the big powerhouse member of the group.
The match itself was an ok brawl. I liked the Honma/Arashi interactions as they were the two seniors of the match. I’m not sure, but Arashi looked a lot bigger from the last time I saw him. Maybe he packed on a few pounds? The match served it’s purpose as the opener though.Match Rating: *1/2Kaz Hayashi & Katsuhiko Nakajima VS AKIRA & Toshizo
Now this was a fun little junior heavyweight tag match that you don’t really see much of in AJPW. It was good to see AKIRA back in action again, even if he did lose the face-paint/make-up. Nakajima really is starting to look bigger than your average cruiserweight, and you have to wonder what the heck Sasaki is feeding to boy to make him bulk up. The kid still needs to work on his skills a bit though, as middle-kicks and a German suplex isn’t sufficient for an arsenal. I like Ryuji Hijikata, and him under a mask as Toshizo is a fun gimmick. The guy really is overlooked in the Jr. division and I hope he gets a run with the Jr. title one day. The guy has an overall look and workrate that you can’t go wrong with. And Hayashi was aces to watch as usual
The overall match had a good speedy pace to it in places, and everyone worked really well together. The ending sprint was also really good with a fun shocking end to the match. Definitely one of the better AJPW Jr. matches in recent history.Match Rating: **1/2Nobutaka Araya, Nobukazu Hirai & Masanobu Fuchi VS Taiyo Kea & Jamal
This match was originally billed as All Japan’s Maximum Weakest Tag Team, Araya and Hirai cause they’ve been on a horrible losing streak, against the Maximum Strongest Tag Team, that being the reigning tag champions Kea & Jamal. But Araya & Hirai literally dragged Fuchi out with them to compete, making it a handicap match which the tag champs had no problem with. The end results had some comical moments as Fuchi bailed on Araya & Hirai since he wasn’t scheduled to appear anyway. I don’t care much for Hirai, but Araya is just being wasted like this as he seems to be playing the big dumb guy to Hirai’s smarts and mic skills.Match Rating: **TARU, Johnny Stamboli & Chuck Palumbo VS TAKA Michinoku, Buchanan & Rico
For some reason, probably to prove he’s a bad-ass heel, TARU whacked the ringside commentator with an aluminum pipe which caught the guy completely off guard and seemed to really hurt. I could even tell from the guy’s expression after that he hoped RO&D kicked their asses.
I think this is the first time I’ve seen Buchanan impress me in Japan. He’s taken on somekind of Bruiser Brody/Berzerker wild-man gimmick where he goes wild on beating down on his opponents, and even does the husking call! It surprises me WWE released this guy cause he’s a big man with a natural heel look (like Sean O’Haire), and he’s also athletically gifted! He pulled off a great variation of Undertaker’s Old-School, but modified it by coming off with a blockbuster/flipping neckbreker!
Rico of course didn’t look to shabby himself with his arsenal of kicks. But that still seems to be about all the guy can do. The guy still needs to broaden his moveset.
The Voodoo Murders team on the other hand didn’t really do much other than brawl. Stamboli & Palumbo didn’t seem to do much to stand-out, and I hope they improve some the longer they work in Japan. TARU even didn’t do anything of note other than bump for Buchanan & Rico.
This was also the match where Shuji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI made their surprise debut, as Kondo ran in first and gave TAKA a wicked spear! It was fun watching the two of them hold off Buchanan on the outside while Palumbo & Stamboli stuffed TAKA into a body bag. Hopefully the rest of the RO&D/Voodoo Murders feud can lead to some descent match-ups better than this one.Match Rating: **Kohei Suwama Trial Series#3: Kohei Suwama VS Kensuke Sasaki
The crowd was heavily behind Suwama in this one, and the kid has been dubbed “Mr. Suplex” cause he throws a mean German and half-nelson suplex. Suwama was actually rather impressive and the fans ate up every bit of offense he threw at Sasaki, who responded by beating the living crap out of the youngster. Suwama couldn’t even get in any of his trademark suplexes on Sasaki, which the crowd was just dying to see happen. I see a lot of potential in this kid as he has the size and the look, and given a few years could very well be the first true-born breakout star of the new All Japan era.Match Rating: **1/2Keiji Mutoh VS Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match suffered from the old “Senior veteran won’t sell for the young lion” syndrome, which was a shame cause by the end of it I felt Tanahashi deserved the win for putting on a more than strong showing. He survived Mutoh’s signature leg-work and figure four finisher, and even blocked and countered the Shining Wizard! Tanahashi connected with all his signature moves, including a nasty looking Dragon suplex out on the floor! It was good to see Mutoh bring his A-game despite obviously still suffering from his fragile looking knees, as they seriously look like his body is getting to big (ie fat) to support! Mutoh also did a very cool looking Shining Wizard to the back of Tanahashi’s head after Tanahashi blocked a regular Wizard.
There was also some fun fan interaction as all the ladies in the crowd seemed to be backing Tanahashi, and Mutoh took exception to it by heeling some of them that were sitting in the front row. Strong match overall, but watching this, I feel it’s time Tanahashi developed a new finisher, he definitely needs somekind of knock-out move if he’s gonna advance further in his current position.Match rating: ***1/2 All Japan Triple Crown: Toshiaki Kawada VS Satoshi Kojima
Now this was probably the best modern day All Japan singles match I’ve seen in a LONG time! It seriously reminded me of the days when Misawa or Kobashi would be trading stiffness and headdrops with Kawada in the mid-90s. The crowd was heavily behind Kojima, even when it looked like he was going to lose the match as Kawada kicked out of all his signature moves, including escaping his new shoulderlock submission move and the Koji Crash Dynamite! Kawada of course played up the tough-bastard role, and his mannerisms when Kojima would keep getting up after taking tons of punishment was priceless! Even if you already knew who won this match, the drama and suspense these two portrayed will still keep you on the edge of your seat, especially near the end when Kojima threw everything he had left at Kawada! A definite Match of The Year candidate!Match Rating: ****1/2Overall:
Definitely a strong show worth checking out. The significant changing of the guard in the Triple Crown main event, which was more suspenseful and dramatic than the NOAH title change a month later, a veteran vs. youngster dream match, a rising star shows his ability against another veteran, plus the continued build of the RO&D/Voodoo Murders feud.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Osaka Pro "Osaka Hurricane" 2/13/2005
YUTAKA VS La Uchida
Don’t be fooled by the name, La Uchida is actually just a young lion given a name, kinda like YUJIRO in NJPW. He still wears the black tights and does the basics every newbie does in the ring. YUTAKA doesn’t do much to make the match all the more interesting either other than his spinning Kudo-driver finisher.Match Rating: *1/2Densen Man & Azteca VS Viewtiful Joe & Takaku Fuke
You could easily tell from his jaw-line that Viewtiful Joe is Gamma! And he was more of a heel than a super-hero in this match, using dirty tactics like low-blows and whacking opponents with his helmet! I couldn’t tell at first, but Densen Man is comedy worker Tortuga. He may have changed his look and gimmick, but his work style and movelist is still the same. Pancrase Mission’s Takaku Fuke was a bit of a surprise. He looked to be the serious MMA type fighter, and he is, but in the end he donned Joe’s helmet and was given magic powers! The match was pretty bland up to that point, as they tried to make it a comedy match, but of course nothing they do could match up to what Ebessan & Kuishinbo would pull off later.Match Rating: **2/3 Falls Handicap Match: Kendo Kobayashi & Hysteria VS Tiger’s Mask
Kobayashi is the commentator on Osaka Pro’s “Maido Pro-Wrestling” show, so you can guess he’s not a wrestler. He did do a good comedy bit when he was in the ring, but that’s all you get out of him. Hysteria on the other hand is a big disappointment compared to the luchadors I’ve seen in WCW or TNA. He just didn’t do anything really special other than a big belly slide plancha out of the ring, and I find it sad Tigers Mask was stuck with these two in an overall sloppy match.Match Rating: *1/4MWF Title: La Oriental VS Kabuto Daio Beetle
Japanese glam rock group King of Kings perform Beetle’s intro theme live in the ring as he makes his entrance. I like Beetle, but this sure wasn’t the best match for him to showcase his talents. For one thing, Oriental had his ribs taped, so he’s selling bad ribs, right? Well, for some reason he dominated most of the match! And doing planchas and dives out to the floor sure didn’t seem to effect him any, that is until the end of the match. It could have been a lot better cause it sort of lacked that big title match feel. Oriental had a lot of near falls on Beetle, which of course made Beetle look good, but I don’t feel that Oriental did enough to actually make Beetle look like championship material as the ending of the match just seemed to come out of nowhere. Match Rating: ***KVE/World’s No.1 Title: Kuishinbo Kamen (World’s No.1) VS Ebessan (World’s No.2)
They took their feud to the EXTRME with this one! The build up was EXTREME where they brawled like two girls in a cat fight! And the match itself was EXTREME! It was so EXTREME that the commissioner got attacked while making the title match proclamation! It was so EXTREME that Ebessan went on a rampage with a steel chair! It was so EXTREME that referee Matsui gave Ebessan a jumping knee attack!
I hope the Florida Brothers take notes when these two wrestle, cause without a doubt they are STILL the GODS OF COMEDY!!!Match Rating: They don’t call them the Gods of Comedy for nothing!Tsubasa & Jushin Thunder Liger VS The Tiger & Super Delfin
Ultimo Dragon’s new gimmick is just so LAME and BORING. He could have at least modified the look instead of blatantly ripping off the original Tiger Mask gimmick.
As for the match itself, it was all about putting Tsubasa over in his big return match, and he looked to be in good a shape as ever. Delfin giving him the rub at the end was a wise decision, and personally I think Delfin has to be the most unselfish guy in puro right now as he puts over more young guys to build new stars than any other company owner/ace in Japan. Hopefully a decent push for Tsubasa is in the works as he is one of my all time favorites in Osaka Pro.Match Rating: ***Osaka Pro Tag Titles: Black Buffalo & Daio QUALLT VS Perro & Billy Ken Kid
This was supposed to be Perro’s breaking out match, and he even had an image makeover to go with it where in DDT type fashion, he changed from being a loveable dog into a bad-ass wolf! But a new look can only do so much for you as they guy could hardly seem to link any offense together other than lariats, tackles and spears, and he looks like a cross between Kane and Tiger Mask! His partner Billy Ken Kid on the other hand has all the qualities of a puro star: Charisma, work-rate and a great move set. BKK practically carried his team to say the least and due to some bizarre travesty of justice, the fans were just dead silent for this one.Match Rating: ***1/4Osaka Pro Title: Big Boss MA-G-MA VS Super Dolphin
I’m really gonna miss MA-G-MA when he leaves Osaka Pro, and I really wished they had him lose the belt in a more convincing manner than he did here. He dominated most of the match as usual and got a ton of near falls off Dolfin, but I hated the one-hit-kill ending of the match which was similar to the Beetle/Oriental match earlier, as it made the win look more like a fluke than a guy breaking out and beating the monster champion, even if the Dolphin Special was an impressive finisher.
But this was still a good match overall and definitely recommend checking it out.Match Rating: ***1/2Overall:
Not sure what was wrong with the Osaka crowd in attendance cause they were really quiet all night. I was thinking maybe the audience mic was turned down, but you could actually SEE the audience not really reacting other then the odd voice in the crowd. Still, it’s a good show overall and definitely worth checking out.
Labels: Osaka Pro
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
NOAH "Navigate for Evolution" 3/5/2005
Tamon Honda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kishin Kawabata VS Takuma Sano, Jun Izumuda & Makoto Hashi
Nothing really special about this one, save for Kawabata trying an Axe Bomber but accidentally hitting Kikuchi instead! For some reason, I’ve noticed Kawabata seems to be growing on me. I also noticed he looks kinda like early Yutaka Yoshie here, with the single strap tights and all. One thing I didn’t like in this match was they way they kept Sano & Honda from having almost ZERO contact with each other. I don’t get what’s the deal with that since both aren’t even big name main-eventers. The match did a good job being the opener of the show.Match Rating: *KENTA, Ricky Marvin & Low Ki VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Sugiura & SUWA
This was a lot of fun, of course you would know that already given the participants involved. KENTA was a total @$$hole here though, he KO’d Sugiura to the point he couldn’t continue the match, and later on, KENTA would stomp allover Sugiura’s lifeless body at ringside! Needless to say this became a handicap match do to Sug’s unfortunate incident, but the heel duo managed to hold their ground and it was just awesome watching SUWA here! A great match definitely worth checking out!Match Rating: ***1/4The Gladiator, Bison Smith & Ace Steel VS Akira Taue, Yoshinari Ogawa & Go Shiozaki
Ace Steel goes from being underutilized in TNA’s X-Division, to getting his hair cut by Eugene on RAW, and now he’s wrestling on a grand NOAH stage! And if Misawa was going to drop the tag titles to a gaijin team, why not drop them to Gladiator and Bison? The monster gaijin duo would have made for a really fun championship duo that the local workers would have a tough time beating.
I’ve only seen Shiozaki wrestle twice, but I’m REALLY impressed with the guy! The man definitely has a bright future ahead of him, especially with Kobashi as his mentor. Taue was his good old-self, and the crowd was really into his exchanges with Gladiator. Reminded me of the ’98 AJPW Tokyo Dome show where Taue & Gladiator also clashed to similar reaction. Would be great to see these two in a singles match down the line. Ogawa was his old self here too, being the sneaky little rat he is. Another fun match worth checking out.Match Rating: **3/4Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue VS Scorpio & Doug Williams
While it was no means anything special, I think they should have made this a tag title match. Or were they just afraid that the Dark Agents would lose some credibility for losing another title match? This was really nothing special either save for the BIG 450 splash Scorpio pulled at the end when he 450’d all the way into the centre of the ring!
Also should note the Williams really didn’t do anything to stand out here. So I’m not sure what the hype in giving him the tag title push is.Match Rating: *1/2GHC Hardcore Openweight Title: Naomichi Marufuji VS Muhammed Yone
This was interesting as both men were sporting similar cocky attitudes. But I thought the match stalled a bit with all the breaks in between big spots and near count outs. There were some good spots though, like the Shiranui out to the floor and Yone using some sick kicks to Marufuji’s head, as well as the real Muscle Buster where he sits down instead of slamming the guy on their back.Match Rating: **1/2Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki VS Shinjiro Ohtani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa
This was OK, but seemed to suffer from “Lazy Misawa” syndrome. That being, it takes a lot to knock him down, but he can pop up almost immediately and no sell everything else. So it was left to Suzuki to shine here and bump his ass-off for the Zero-One MAX team. And make no bones about it, Suzuki was the star of this one as he put on an amazing underdog performance, including TWO top rope powerbomb counters! I really wish they would have given him the fall when he hit the Blue Destiny on Takaiwa too. This was an OK match, and I really would have preffered to see more of Misawa in it since Ohtani originally singled him out when he made the challenge.Match Rating: **Jun Akiyama & Takeshi Morishima VS Genichiro Tenryu & Minoru Suzuki
I’ve read all about it, and now that I’ve seen it for myself, the look on Tenryu’s face when Morishima came out to Jumbo Tsuruta’s “J” theme is indeed PRICELESS! The fans went nuts for Morishima’s intro and even more so when he did Tsuruta’s “OH!” pose! Heck, even Akiyama got into the act after doing one of his trademark jumping knee attacks which Jumbo was also famous for! This was definitely one of the better heavyweight tag matches I’ve seen in awhile, but I only wasn’t too fond of the ending where Akiyama was outside arguing with Suzuki while leaving Morishima all alone with Tenryu, which of course led to Tenryu picking up the win.Match Rating: ***GHC Heavyweight Title: Kenta Kobashi VS Takeshi Rikioh
This definitely wasn’t the best of Kobashi’s title matches from what I’ve seen as it was kinda sloppy in places, and they weren’t Kobashi’s fault. To his credit, Rikioh did show a lot of fire in this one and the ending was just as I pictured it with Rikioh overwhelming Kobashi with big offensive moves and a barrage of finishers.
Unfortunately, when you compare this match to Kobashi’s previous defences where he took more devastating punishment like Gladiator’s super-powerbomb, as well as the tons of other sick bumps in just about every defence, it’s feels weird that a simple high-angle slam like the Muso would be the move that finally puts him down for the count. I also would have preferred if the match went a little longer. Still, a great match that will go down in wrestling history as the day the changing of the guard happened in NOAH. Now if only Misawa would put Rikioh over…Match Rating: ***3/4 Overall:
Overall a pretty good show, with the highlight of course being the three main events which more or less delivered. Kotaro Suzuki was given a push, Tenryu made a big impression in his NOAH debut, and of course, the changing of the guard with Kobashi dropping the GHC Heavyweight Title to Rikioh. Definitely a show worth checking out.