Puroresu Show Reviews
Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection
Sunday, May 29, 2005
AAA Invading Japan Pt.2
January 24, 2004 Osaka
AAA VS Japan: Esther Moreno, Alebrije & Pimpenela VS Commando Boirshoi, TAKA Michinoku & Dansyoku Dieno
There was a HUGE pop for TAKA from the Osaka crowd when he came out! They cheered him on even if he still heeled them. This match was pretty much like the mix six person tag from the previous show, but a bit more time was given to the women, and TAKA had more trouble with the Dieno and Pimpinela than Kaz did. There was this fun spot where Pimpinela dove under the bottom rope, slapped Boirshoi, who slapped Dieno, who dry humped TAKA, who turned around only to get kissed smack dab on the lips by Pimpinela! One thing I’ve noticed about Pimpinela is how deceptive he really is. Despite the disturbing gay gimmick, he can really go and work some impressive high impact moves.
I’m continued to be impressed by Esther Moreno here as she has a great look and attitude in the ring. The fact that she speaks fluent Japanese also helped her connect with the crowd that was also in to her. For those of you who’ve never seen her before, Boirshoi is really small. Kinda like Rey Mysterio, but I don’t think she’s as talented. She also wrestles comedy matches under the name Boirshoi Kid where she dresses like a clown.
This was a fun entertaining match overall like the previous show, though I wasn’t too big on the ending where TAKA accidentally superkicked Boirshoi and bickered with Dino instead of either of them making the save when Moreno pinned her right in front of them.Match Rating: **
AAA VS LLL: Mascara Sagrada, Mascarita Sagrada, Oriental & El Zorro VS Psicosis, Mini Psicosis, Mr. Aguila & Charly Manson
This reminded me of all those lucha matches WCW used to have, but the only guys worth watching here were Zorro, Aguila and Oriental since it was clipped down a bit and they were given more time, as well as the midgets, which I still don’t dig being put over guys twice their size. The ending of this was one was a bit surprising as it came out of nowhere also and it took the crowd off guard a bit also.Match Rating: ** 2/3 Falls Mixed Tag Titles Match: Chessman & Tiffany © VS Elektro Shock & Lady Apache
This one started off good enough, but ended up so bad that even the Japanese audience seemed loss and disinterested in the action. Can’t really blame them since it got to the point where both teams just looked green as they were very sluggish and seemed to have lost all their timing, and the finishing shots even lacked any impact to make it believable. Heck, the sports entertainment type finish didn’t help things either when the referee go bumped and Charly Manson came out and threw coffee in Electro Shock’s face, leading to Chessman hitting a second rope moonsault and waiting almost forever for the referee to recover and make the count. The crowd seemed to just give them sympathy applause when it was all over. It sort of baffles me how two guys with great looking gimmicks and experience like Chessman and Electro Shock could put on a Heidenreich-level performance, especially in front of a crowd that knows it’s wrestling better than most.Match Rating: *AAA VS LLL: Jun Akiyama, Latin Lover, La Parka Jr. & Gronda VS Juventud Guerrera, Cibernetico, Abizmo Negro & Ghefar
Bit of a surprise at the start of this as Akiyama’s alter ego, Shura came out and was then beat down by the LLL team with zero help from the AAA guys. I was really surprised at this till suddenly Akiyama’s Sterness theme kicks in and he comes out wearing the AAA colors! And as soon as he steps in the ring, both the AAA and LLL guys clear out!
After the debacle of a main event on the previous show, it was good to see the guys finally given the chance to work. Though I was still a bit disappointed in Gronda’s performance, as all he did was demonstrate his strength by throwing a few big clotheslines and giving spinebusters to his opponents.
Akiyama and Juvi had some really good exchanges, and despite the size difference, Akiyama let Juvi get in a good amount of offense. Akiyama of course got in his fair share of offense and even matched highlflying skills as he made a big dive out of the ring at one point!
A lot of focus also seemed to be given to Latin Lover as he worked a good portion of the match for his team as well as getting the winning pinfall on Cibernetico again at the end of it. I liked Cibernetico’s look, but he didn’t really do anything special in the match. It was also good to see La Parka add some comedy to match.
They really should have put on something like this for the Tokyo crowd too, instead of what they went with.Match Rating: ***Overall:
Some things of note about both shows; There were two referees for the AAA VS LLL matches, each counting the fall for their respective sides. They have some really good entrances and really dig using Rammstein songs for their entrance themes. And I really like the ring announcer who does a good job of getting the crowd riled up for the match and into the wrestlers, in an almost circus type way of doing it.
With some good and some bad, this was definitely an interesting pair of shows AAA put on for their Japanese tour. I definitely recommend checking it out, though you might have to adjust your thinking if you've never seen these AAA guys work before.
Labels: Joshi, Misc Indies
Thursday, May 19, 2005
AAA Invading Japan Pt.1
My review of this event will be split in half since it covers two shows AAA did in Japan. Check back soon for my review of the Osaka event.
And this review contains SPOILERS
.January 23, 2004 Tokyo
Show kicks off with a sort of ring cleansing ritual as two girls and a guy dressed in traditional outfits come out and do some sort of traditional dance.AAA VS Japan: Alebrije, Esther Moreno & Pimpenela Escarlata VS Ayako Hamada, Kazu Hayashi & Dansyoku Dieno
It sucked to be an ikeman like Kaz in this one as he was hounded by Dieno (gay) and Pimpenela (drag queen) all night! There was a surprisingly big pop for Pimpenela when he made his (?) entrance even if he did grab and kiss a few audience members! But that was nothing compared to when Dieno came out! Not only did he get a huge pop from the crowd, but he jumped right in and ran all around Korakuen Hall lunging at any male he could get his hands off! That is, EXCEPT Pimpenela, who he almost threw up when he saw him!
Alebrije is supposed to be somekind of demon/sea creature, and he has a mini by the name of Cuije following him around. At least I think Cuije is a midget. Could be a 5 year old kid under that costume for all I know. Anyways, despite his look, Alebrije has some pretty good moves, and can execute a few good diving attacks as well. He sorta reminds me of the Kaiju Mandoras from Osaka Pro back in the day.
Esther Moreno’s look is based on the X-Men character Storm. And she ROCKS in the ring! I think I might already have a fav Latina lucha wrestler! Plus, she has a great looking rack too XP
Anyways, the match itself was a pretty good mix of highflying action and comedy antics. Dieno & Pimpenela started things off on a real funny note as they bickered and pulled hair like little girls! Even the referee wasn’t spared! Or Kaz for that matter, who was in heel mode for most of the night as that was the only way to keep Dieno & Pimpenela off his back! It was also fun watching Ayako Hamada (who came out wearing SIX championship belts!!!) play up the scared little girl bit when confronting Alebrije! Cuije even got involved at one point, doing some cool dives. There was also the fun “everybody dives out on everybody else” spot, and some spots that didn’t go as smooth due to miscommunications. Still, a very fun opener for the show.Match Rating: **1/2
Mascara Sagrada & Mascarita Sagrada VS Psicosis & Mini Psicosis
If there’s one thing I’ll never understand, nor do I want to understand, is when someone has to put over a midget. That’s what Mascarita is, a midget clone of Mascara. The two hold some kind of mix tag titles and Mascarita has several other belts too! Mini-Psicosis isn’t really a midget, just smaller then the original Psicosis, kinda like Mini Crazy-Max in Toryumon X. But it just makes me shake my head to see someone put over a guy literally half his size and sell his offense. Sure it looked good and impressive, but it just didn’t click with me.
It was interesting to see Psicosis go back to his old masked gimmick and full body suit after being unmasked in WCW several years back, but the guy sure hasn’t lost a step when it comes to his ringwork. Mascara is no slouch either despite the obvious guy he has that sticks out in the ninja outfit he wears.
A good match overall, even if the midgets don’t catch my fancy.Match Rating: **LLL VS AAA Captain’s Fall Elimination Match: Juventud Guerrera ©, Mr. Aguila, Charly Manson, Ghefar & Tiffany VS Jushin Thunder Liger ©, Oriental, El Zorro, Electro Shock & Lady Apache
Based on what info I could dig up, LLL is sorta like a heel NWO faction within AAA, and is led by Juventud Guerrera. Mr. Aguila is of course former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Esse Rios. Charly Manson is a guy using a Marilyn Manson shock-rocker gimmick, and wrestles like a brawler. Ghefar is a guy in a rubber suit of armor wearing a demonic skull-like mask. He looks impressive, but his skills leave much to be desired. The gimmick would probably work better if he was 7-feet tall I think. Tiffany is actually an American girl and she can work quite well.
Electro Shock and Lady Apache are a real life married couple who also wrestle together as a mixed tag team. I like Electro Shock’s look, but his work could use some touching up. It’s pretty obvious where El Zorro got his gimmick from. Funny he was carrying a Singapore cane instead of a saber though. The man also holds two HUGE belts, though I’m not sure what titles they are. Oriental I’ve seen recently when he worked the 2005 Osaka Hurricane show, but he was ten time better here than he was there! He was actually working the high-flying fast paced style I was expecting at Hurricane here. So maybe his injuries did play a part in his match with Daio Beetle?
Jushin Thunder Liger needs no introduction, but the man was severely BOOED by the Japanese crowd! And this was when he was still a babyface! Starting from when he was announced as the team captain for AAA. Probably cause it meant there was no chance in hell of him losing the match, right? WRONG! Despite the fact he was dominating the match and getting some incredible heat for it, he actually LOST the match to LLL team captain Juventud Guerrera!
Fun bit after the end of the match where Juvi taunted Liger and challenged him for the GHC Jr. title that he currently held. Juvi even cited beating Liger for the IWGP Jr. Title back when they were in WCW to infuriate Liger even more!
The only problem I had with this match was that it was clipped to the point that many of the eliminations were left out. Would have been fun to see how the whole thing went.Match Rating: ***AAA VS LLL: Latin Lover, La Parka & Gronda VS Abismo Negro, Cibernetico & Chessman
I haven’t seen Latin Lover since his short stint in WCW and a few appearances in the then WWF, same goes for Cibernetico who worked a few WWF shows, including a six-man tag on one of the Royal Rumble PPVs. Well, Latin Lover is the “Sexy Dancing Playboy”, ie. a gigolo who dances for the girls, and he gave a lapdance to a lucky fan in the audience during his intro. Cibernetico on the other hand is one of the top heels, and I’m guessing he’s also the world champion cause he came out wearing a HUGE belt. I know some of the other wrestlers that came out previously had some big belts like El Zorro did, but this was just HUGE and he could have worn it as a chest protector!
We all know who La Parka is from his stint as the “chairman” of WCW, and it was fun to see him again, especially doing his dancing entrance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller! We all also probably know Abismo Negro from his work in TNA, but the guy added some pyro to his intro here, that being he lights up and shoots flames from a spray can. Chessman looks like a buffed up version of the red ‘n’ black Sting from WCW, but wearing Kane’s old ring gear! He’s not 7-feet tall though.
And then we have Gronda. THE DEVIL! The man comes out in a big cape and a Spawn mask, but he drops the cape to reveal his chiseled frame, which includes drawn outlines of his muscles to give them more emphasis, but it’s when he unmasks and reveals his Devil mask complete with horns and fangs, that’s the really cool part as it’s all made to look like part of his body, which is painted up red too!
Unfortunately, the match itself was just piss-poor. After an initial contact of Gronda using his power advantage, the match gets clipped and cut to almost the end where the rudo LLL team are beating up the AAA team with a lot of outside interference! Gronda even is down as he gets his bad leg worked on by the rudos. Juvi than calls out team AAA, who of course respond and a big brawl erupts, and in the middle of all this, Latin Lover manages to steal a pin on Cibernetico to win the match for team AAA!Match Rating: Sports Entertainment Level DUD
The show ends with team AAA, and Jushin Liger, celebrating in the ring. Check back soon for my review of the second day of the tour from Osaka, Japan, as well as my oveall thoughts on the shows.
For more information on AAA in Japan, visit HERE
Labels: Joshi, Misc Indies
Friday, May 13, 2005
NOAH "Encountering Navigation 2005" 4/24/2005
NOAH's 3rd big Budokan show of the year where two big moments occoured: Toshiaki Kawada made his first appearance in a NOAH ring and met Misawa face to face for the first time in almost 5 years, and the first match for the July 18 Tokyo Dome show was announced.
But what about the wrestling parts of the show? Read on.Jun Izumida & Makoto Hashi VS Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata
I would have just skipped this if not for Kawabata being in it. I like the man’s work even if he is the job-boy for just about every match he’s in. Not really much to this one save for Kawabata’s always fun Axe Bomber on Izumuda which scored a pop from the crowd but couldn’t put the big guy away. Hashi is being groomed for his eventual heavyweight run here and he looked good playing the eager youngster. There was a fun spot with Inoue where referee Mighty Inoue pulled him off Hashi by the ears when he wouldn’t quit with scrapping Hashi’s eyes. I think I’d enjoy seeing Kawabata VS Hashi in a singles match down the line.Match Rating: *
Tamon Honda, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura VS Bison Smith, Rick Steiner & Ricky Marvin
Honda was just dead weight in this one for the most part, but it was fun seeing him give Steiner a Dead End German. Steiner hasn’t changed much since I last saw him in WCW, and he’s still a loud mouth barking off at the referee every now and then. It was really fun watching Kanemaru being all cocky trying to get under Bison’s skin, which resulted in a painful looking spot where Bison dragged him out of the ring and he hit the apron hard. Marvin was aces to watch whenever he’s in the ring with Kanemaru or Sugiura. Standard six-man tag overall.Match Rating: **
Scorpio, Michael Modest & Donovan Morgan VS Yoshinari Ogawa, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Richard Slinger
Not a lot to this one. Morgan is HUGE now by the way, almost like a gaijin Jun Izumuda. No wonder they dropped the plan to have Modest & Morgan go after the Jr. tag titles, no one would buy them as junior heavyweights! Morgan did do a fun spot where he mocked Kikuchi’s falling headbutt attacks on Kikuchi himself. It was fun seeing Ogawa & Modest mouth off at each other and try to one-up each other. And the ending moonsault legdrop (Drop The Bomb) by Scorpio was pretty sweet as well and got a pop out of the crowd.Match Rating: **1/4
The ring announcer announces a special guest, and the fans go NUTS as they already know who it is, and the Budokan erupts as “Holy War” hits on the loudspeakers and out comes none-other than Toshiaki Kawada! The former Triple Crown champion received an almost Hogan-esque pop from the crowd!
Kawada introduced himself and called out Misawa, who came out through the audience. Kawada then challenged Misawa to a match at NOAH’s 7/18 Tokyo Dome show and Misawa accepted, which got another huge pop from the crowd. The two shook hands then left their separate ways.Akira Taue & Takuma Sano VS Mohammed Yone & Takeshi Morishima
I was about to write this off as just another standard youngsters VS veterans tag match, then Yone goes and pisses off Taue, leading to a very good and heated climax to the match! A lot of fans on the internet complained about Yone jobbing here since he’s the GHC Hardcore Open-weight champion, but after watching it for myself, it basically made sense that Yone jobbed to veteran Taue, who was seriously pissed at Yone for using his own jumping face kick on him. Taue just unloaded on Yone with nadoa-otoshis and Dynamic-bombs, culminating in the I AM TAUE for the win, and teaching the young punk a lesson he probably won’t soon forget.
Another thing, I never noticed this before when he had long hair, but Morishima is seriously FAT. The guy really could stand to lose about 20lbs to make himself look better.Match Rating: ***
SUWA VS KENTA
KENTA pulled a subterfuge attack on SUWA as he ran in through the audience while the lights were on to blindside the former Toryumon champion! It was impressive what these two could pull out in the six-minutes the match went, and they really let loose on each other! Basically saw SUWA get frustrated and grab a steel cargo box from under the ring and shoved the referee aside to try to hit KENTA with it. KENTA stopped SUWA and tried for the Busaikyu Knee, but SUWA dodged it and threw the iron box right into KENTA’s face, causing the DQ! The fans heavily booed the DQ, but they loved the swerve that followed, where Sugiura pulled off SUWA from beating down KENTA and helped KENTA to his feet only for Sugiura to drop KENTA on his head with an Olympic Slam! Then Kanemaru shoved off both Sugiura & SUWA and helped KENTA to his feet only to drop him with a big backdrop! Ricky Marvin tried to help but was easily disposed by SUWA. SUWA said something on the mic after the match and I clearly made out the word “masturbation”. Ok…
Hopefully these two will have a proper singles match down the line, like possibly KENTA defending the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title against him like everyone seems to be pointing to.Match Rating: **
Minoru Suzuki & Naomichi Marufuji VS Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki
Damn did MiSuzuki & Marufuji bring the big time SUCK to this match! I swear I almost fell asleep when they controlled the match and Suzuki was streatching KoSuzuki with various submission locks. MiSuzuki’s laziness also seemed to rub off on Marufuji as he didn’t do much to impress here either as he played the ground game on KoSuzuki as well.
I was really hoping Misawa would be the guy to put MiSuzuki in his place, and during the opening elbow strike exchange between the two it looked like it might happen, but then he switches to “Lazy-Misawa” mode and actually allows himself to get outsmarted by MiSuzuki who laughs in his face about the elbow strikes! Misawa basically let KoSuzuki carry most of the match for his team and when he received the hot tag, he tagged back out just as fast as he got in, giving KoSuzuki almost no time to rest up after the stretching he took, which of course led to them losing. I was really hoping for more from Misawa here, and I seriously hope he steps up his game with his big match with Kawada coming up.Match Rating: **
Jun Akiyama & Genichiro Tenryu VS Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiosaki
The main attraction here obviously was the Tenryu/Kobashi confrontation, and it delivered big time! From the opening bell, they brawled out to the floor where Tenryu whipped Kobashi into the railing then tossed an announcers table at Kobashi! Kobashi NO SOLD the table throw and went on to chop Tenryu so hard that his man-boobs started bleeding heavily! Kobashi must have thrown a hundred chops at Tenryu throughout the match at least, and at one point you could definitely see the look on Tenryu’s face was like “I gotta get out of this business!”. Priceless stuff!
The fans were also heavily behind Shiozaki also as he squared off with Akiyama & Tenryu. The crowd went nuts as Kobashi screamed at him from their corner to suck it up and get up every time Akiyama or Tenryu knocked him down. It was fun seeing Kobashi in a coach’s roll here doing this too. Very reminiscent of when Akiyama used to team with Kobashi back in All Japan.
This was easily the most heated and probably best match of the night.Match Rating: ***
GHC Heavyweight Title: Takeshi Rikio VS Akitoshi Saito
On any other show, this would have been a passable match, but the problem was that this was a GHC Heavyweight Title match, and they made Saito carry and lead most of the match instead of Rikio, who came off looking very strong when he won the belt against Kobashi a month back but was almost the opposite here. It’s kinda like the way Batista is looking over at WWE right now. And the fact that most of Rikio’s offense consisted of wild strikes and shoulder blocks didn’t add much to his credit either.
Rikio should have been busting Saito’s ass all over the arena instead of getting constantly outwitted and easily losing his advantage a lot like what you expect from a rookie instead of a GHC Champion. Heck, I’d swear the fans were more into Saito than Rikio even, cause Saito owned most of the match and did the moves that got the crowd popping, like his heavy kicks to Rikio’s head and a big Rock Bottom off the entrance ramp to the floor. Saito even kicked out of Rikio’s over-head Muso for crying out loud! And the crowd also didn’t seem to buy the modified Muso Rikio used at the end, even if it did look cool. After he won, the crowd reaction was like “that’s it? OK…” which was also what I was thinking. Hopefully, Rikio’s next defence will be better handled and Rikio will be made to look stronger than he did here.Match Rating: **
This probably counts as the weakest NOAH big show I’ve ever seen. It looks ok on paper, but the execution left much to be desired. Recommended only to check out the Kobashi/Shiozaki VS Akiyama/Tenryu and Taue/Sano VS Yone/Morishima tag matches. KENTA/SUWA was good for the angle it pulled, but you’d be better off waiting for a complete match instead of the DQ one here. The Kawada appearance was a great moment in the show, but I doubt many people would want to shell out the cash just to watch the 5-minute interview bit they did here.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
NOAH "Navigate for Evolution" 2/20/2005
So while New Japan & All Japan were having their epic double title match at the Sumo Hall, NOAH were putting on this fun little Korakuen Hall show, the final stop before the big Budokan show where Kenta Kobashi would defend the GHC Heavyweight Title against Takeshi Rikioh.Mitsuo Momota VS Kishin Kawabata
Kawabata is really growing on me. He’s like Masao Inoue, but more fresh and fun to watch. Why he isn’t a full-fledged Dark Agent is beyond me. Standard old-school match here with a lot of groundwork being done. You also have to admire Momota for still being able to work a good match at his age. He’s kinda like Ric Flair, only he doesn’t bump as much and the fans pop big for every big move he pulls off. It might not be the best looking Axe Bomber in the business, but I hope Kawabata goes somewhere with it, like a GHC Hardcore Open-weight title match at least.Match Rating: *1/2
Tamon Honda & KENTA VS Masao Inoue & Makoto Hashi
Fun bit at the beginning of this one between Hashi & Honda as Hashi frustrates Honda with his headbutts, and then takes advantage of an amaresu challenge from Honda to cheap shot him. KENTA even received a busted lip from one of his exchanges with Hashi, and Hashi even did a cool (if not accidental) headbutt counter to one of KENTA’s kicks. The junior heavy stuff was definitely the best part of this mostly average match. And I hope they push Hashi proper now that he’s a heavyweight since despite throwing everything he had at KENTA, KENTA still kicked out of his finisher. I also think the Go 2 Sleep is a pretty lame looking finisher.Match Rating: **
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura VS SUWA & Ricky Marvin
Technically two heel teams going at it here. SUWA VS Sugiura was a really good confrontation and the two seriously look like they should be tag partners. Marvin continues to impress as he brought the speed to this match and he and Kanemaru work together really well when they face off.
A pretty good match overall, but the big story in this one comes at the end of the match as SUWA beats down Marvin only for KENTA to run in and make the save!Match Rating: **1/2
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki VS Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
Bit of a comedy match in this one as you could say Misawa was bullying around Kikuchi & Taue. Yes, even Taue was doing some fun comedy spots! Particularly with Misawa giving him a “shattered dreams” followed by a leg spread! Kikuchi on the other hand tried trading elbow strikes with Misawa, and as good as he is, his strikes didn’t stand a chance against Misawa’s! Good match overall, which also served the purpose of getting KoSuzuki over for his big tag match with Misawa against the Zero-One team of Ohtani & Takaiwa at the Budokan soon after.Match Rating: **
Jun Akiyama & Jun Izumuda VS Akitoshi Saito & Shiro Koshinaka
Now this was a fun match featuring Sterness VS the Dark Agents. Fun bits at the beginning when Akiyama & Izumuda used Koshinaka’s own hip strikes on him! Heck, even Saito was doing hip-attacks! Saito even did a really impressive delayed slingshot suplex on big Izumuda. The exchanges between ex-GHC tag team championship partners Saito & Akiyama were good too, and even Izumuda stepped up his game for this one. Even Makoto Hashi managed to get involved at one point when he hit repeated diving headbutts off the apron to Koshinaka while Akiyama distracted the referee! One of the best matches on the show so far.Match Rating: **3/4
Scorpio, Doug Williams & Ace Steel VS The Gladiator, Bison Smith & Low Ki
I’ve always liked Ace Steel ever since first seeing him in TNA, and it’s good to see him working in Japan, even if it’s as a comical, over-zealous young lion that rushes into things only to get his ass kicked. Doug Williams on the other hand reminds a bit of Mike Sanders, and he also has a sneaky Yoshinari Ogawa-type style going for him. The sequence where he runs circles around Bison was entertaining, and the guy does have some talent but really didn’t show anything outstanding here.
The six gaijins in this one pulled out a really good TV quality match, complete with a six-man pile up on the outside when Gladiator’s team launched a big aerial assault on Scorpio’s team to the outside, and that really got the crowd going! The closing spot where Bison rolled through a sunset-flip into the Bisontenial was also really cool and this was definitely a fun match to check out.Match Rating: ***Kenta Kobashi, Muhammed Yone & Go Shiozaki VS Takeshi Rikioh, Takeshi
Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji
Don’t know why, but both teams come in through the audience for the main event. This was a great heated main event to close out the show and Shiozaki continues to impress me even if he does have a limited moveset. The crowd popped BIG TIME when Shiozaki hit a BEAUTIFUL German suplex on Morishima, he should have held the pin instead of rolling through into another though. And yes again, Shiozaki has one of the BEST moonsaults I’ve ever seen! There was also some fun brawling into the audience from all six at one point, and they did the tease of Rikioh going for the Muso on Kobashi even. Kobashi remains a force to be reckoned with when it takes both Rikioh and Morishima to take him down, and Kobashi continues to impress when he half-nelsons someone the size of Morishima. Great match and a great way to close out the show and build for the upcoming showdown between Kobashi & Rikioh at the Budokan.Match Rating: ***1/4Overall:
A good show overall with everyone working well and building up the upcoming Budokan show. Your not missing much if you pass on this and just want the big shows, but this definitely fun and recommended TV viewing.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
NJPW "Big Fight Series" 2/20/2005
WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!
This was the epic and historic show that featured the first ever IWGP/Triple Crown double title match, pitting two former tag team partners and good friends who went on to become the aces of their respected companies.Naofumi Yamamoto VS Hiroshi Nagao
Only interesting move of note was the chokeslam Nagao won the match with.Match Rating: Boring.Hirooki Goto & Akiya Anzawa VS Yujiro & Katsuhiko Nakajima
Match Rating: Skipped.Yutaka Yoshie & Masahito Kakihara VS Togi Makabe & Masayuki Naruse
Four of the most unde-rated and overlooked guys on the roster, and who also happen to be four of my favorites. The Makebe/Yoshie stuff was fun to watch, as was Makabe’s exchanges with Kakihara. The ending seem to come out of nowhere though.Match Rating: **
Koji Kanemoto, Wataru Inoue, Katsushi Takemura & Taiji Ishimori VS Minoru Tanaka, Jado, Gedo & James Gibson
My first time seeing Gibson in Japan. Now this was a really fun match as they kept things speedy and the crowd was way into it throughout. They did the always fun one-hit-one-kill spot where one guy runs it and takes out one guy only to be taken out by the next guy, and the multi-man dive out of the ring. Even Gedo & Jado picked it up a notch! Only the ending was a bit of a let down as Ishimori & Takemura just seemed to vanish into thin air as the CTU team had their way with Kanemoto and Inoue leading up to their victory.Match Rating: ***
IWGP Jr. Title: Tiger Mask VS Jushin Thunder Liger
The fun factor in this one picked up half-way through when Liger tore a page out of Bret Hart’s book by faking a leg injury to steal an advantage. It was almost priceless the way he reacted to show everyone he was really ok after planting Tiger with a huge Liger-bomb. Business picked up from there as they busted out the big moves, but Tiger managed to tough it out and score what many would consider an upset as he beat Liger clean. What I didn’t like about it was how Liger threw everything but the kitchen sink at Tiger and it wouldn’t put him down, yet it took like TWO moves for Tiger to finish Liger. Sure I’m not a big Liger fan, but I’m not a big fan of this kind of booking either, which is used prominently in Osaka Pro as well.Match Rating: ***1/4
Osamu Nishimura VS Riki Choshu
This was probably the best undercard match of the night next to the IWGP Jr. Title match, but screwed up due to the piss-poor ending. Nishimura was in full-on serious mode looking for revenge on Choshu, he was even in Darkness Muga mode as he came barefoot and went on a rampage on Choshu’s ass, then Choshu takes over and busts Nishimura open. But it goes downhill from there as Choshu gets a cheap DQ loss for not releasing the Scorpion Death Lock. Match Rating: **1/4
New Japan VS Black New Japan Singles Elimination Match:
Kensuke Sasaki VS Masahiro Chono
This was surprisingly good as Chono actually kept up with Sasaki to make the match entertaining. It was predictable that it would go to a draw since they both withstood everything they threw at each other, but they still worked hard and made the match fun and probably the best in the series.Match Rating: **1/2
Yuji Nagata VS Manabu Nakanishi
This started off good, but then got really boring as the two just seemed to run out of gas and started working at a snails pace. Nakanishi just seems to be getting worse and more boring everytime I see him now, and I’m even losing faith in Nagata right now. What the heck happened to these guys?!? It just seemed like they stalled a lot and were trying to push a 20:00 draw, but not do as good a job as Chono/Sasaki. They picked it up a bit at the end, but it just didn’t seem to click to me.Match Rating: *1/2
Shinsuke Nakamura VS Manabu Nakanishi
There was one cool spot in this match where Nakanishi withstood a spear by Nakamura and turned it into a front necklock, and that was followed by an equally cool Hercules Cutter counter into a DDT by Nakamura! It was also impressive seeing Nakanishi pick up Nakamura from the Shining Triangle and slam him down twice while the hold was applied. I thought Nakanishi was pretty dumb to tap out to Nakamura’s cross-armbreaker at the end instead of realizing how close to the ropes he was and could have broken the hold.Match Rating: **1/4
Shinsuke Nakamura VS Mitsuya Nagai
There was on SICK spot in this one when Nakamura tried a double leg take down, but dove right into a knee strike by Nagai to get a very near fall! The replay showed just how sick the spot was as Nagai caught him right on the chin with his knee. I felt this was really good as unlike the other matches so far, Nagai was actually trying to WIN it and not stall like the others seemed to do. The ending spot where Nakamura countered a slam into the Shining Triangle for the win was really good too.Match Rating: **3/4
Shinsuke Nakamura VS Minoru Suzuki
MiSuzuki comes in and it’s back to the stalling, boring pace. Nakamura picks up the pace with some fun and innovative roll-ups into submission attempts. I guess it made sense Suzuki won since Nakamura already went through 2 other men, but they sort of made it look too easy for Suzuki in the end, especially with the arrogant cover he did.Match Rating: *3/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Minoru Suzuki
This was just bad and it’s not Tanahashi’s fault! Suzuki just led too much of this match which resulted in too many boring rest holds. It sucked that everytime Tanahashi tried to pick up the pace, Suzuki would drag it back down again. I was actually HOPING Tanahashi would pull out a flash cradle win to put me out of my misery of having to watch this match. Unfortunately I had to sit through another LONG submission hold by Suzuki who won it with another arrogant cover after locking a sleeper.Match Rating: *IWGP Heavyweight Title & All Japan Triple Crown Double-Title Match:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Satoshi Kojima
Definitely a very unique atmosphere to this match as it kicks off. Both men advance out of their corners at the opening bell, but put on the breaks as they eye each other out. After a bit of a stare down, they lock up and break, then lock up again. Kojima backs Tenzan into the ropes and breaks clean. Lock-up again and Tenzan backs Kojima into the ropes, then slaps him on the break! They trade slaps and chops before locking up again. Kojima backs Tenzan into the corner and gives him a loud chop! Lock up again and a headlock by Kojima. Kojima takes down Tenzan, and the IWGP champion puts Kojima in a head-scissors followed by an armlock. They get to their feet and Tenzan takes down Kojima with a hammerlock. Tenzan works the arm for a bit before swithing to a sleeper. Kojima escapes into an armlock. Great mat work by these two in the opening minutes. Kojima tries a sleeper, but Tenzan works Kojima into a chinlock. They get to their feet and Kojima whips Tenzan into the ropes. Shoulder block and neither man moves. Lock-up again and Tenzan pushes Kojima into the ropes before giving him a body shot followed by a slap to the face. Kojima looks irritated. They trade chops again and Tenzan unleashes the Mongolian Chops sending Kojima to the outside at the 5 minute mark.5 MINUTES
Kojima catches a breather on the outside and gets back in. Test of strength now as they lock hands. Tenzan has the upper hand at first, but Kojima battles back for leverage, but Tenzan muscles him to the mat and clamps on a side headlock. Kojima fights to his feet again, but Tenzan pulls his hair to slam him down again! Back to their feet and Kojima floors Tenzan with a single leg takedown into a modified leglock. Tenzan delivers a few headbutts before escaping the hold and locking on an STF! He moves into a front neck lock and flips over into a ground cobra twist pin, but they roll right into the ropes. Crowd is still patient at this point. Back to their feet and Kojima with a drop toe-hold into a side crossface. Tenzan reaches the ropes to break at the ten minute mark.10 MINUTES
Both men to their feet and Kojima gives Tenzan a boot followed by several chops. Tenzan answers back with a Mongolian Chop, but Kojima blocks the second attempt and gives Tenzan a Mongolian Chop of his own! Elbow shot and Tenzan goes down. Kojima taunts Tenzan as he gets up and they lock up again, and Tenzan immediately starts throwing right hands. Snapmare by Tenzan followed by a deep elbow drive, and he makes the first pin attempt of the match to get a 1 count. Reverse chinlock by Tenzan now, then he turns it into a figure-four headlock. Kojima rolls Tenzan over and escapes with a side crossface again. Tenzan reaches the ropes to break. Kojima unloads kicks and chops as Tenzan gets to his feet. Tenzan replies with some elbow shots and eventually drops Kojima. Tenzan picks up and drives Kojima into the corner and pounds away on him for a bit. Kojima reverses an Irish-whip, but gets taken down by a big shoulder block by the IWGP champion. Tenzan misses a knee drop, looked really dumb on his part. Kojima whips Tenzan into the corner, but runs right into a big boot. Tenzan tries a lariat, but Kojima blocks and tries for the Koji-Cutter, but he’s pushed into the corner and then flattened by a running lariat from Tenzan. Tenzan pounds Kojima for a bit, then goes up top and drives Kojima’s face into the mat with the calf-branding. Tenzan covers for a 2 count. Tenzan with a headbutt into a swinging neckbreaker and gets another 2 count at the fifteen minute mark.15 MINUTES
Tenzan tries for a suplex, but Kojima blocks it and gives him a brainbuster! Lariat to the back of the head sends Tenzan out of the ring! Kojima follows out and rams Tenzan’s back into the guard-rail. Kojima starts working the back now. Kojima gets back in the ring and dives out on Tenzan with a big plancha! Kojima back into the ring, and gives Tenzan a big running elbow strike as he gets up on the apron, knocking him back down to the floor. Tenzan rolls back into the ring and Kojima starts pounding his lower back. Tenzan shouts at Kojima for more! And Kojima replies with a side-slam! Cover and a 1 count for Kojima. Modified bow & arrow lock by Kojima before switching to a single leg crab hold. Tenzan reaches the ropes, but his back is hurting. Boston crab by Kojima, and Tenzan quickly reaches the ropes again.20 MINUTES
Kojima picks up Tenzan and gives him a DDT. Tenzan fights to his feet and lands several forearm shots before Kojima attacks his back again. Big piledriver by Kojima for a 2 count! Tenzan chant starts up as Kojima sets up Tenzan for another. Tenzan fights to escape, but gets drilled by another big piledriver! Another 2 count for Kojima. Suplex by Kojima followed by a Scorpion Death Lock! Tenzan reaches the ropes to break the hold. Tenzan rolls out of the ring, but Kojima follows and continues the assault on the IWGP champion’s back. Kojima lays in some big chops, but misses a lariat, ramming his arm into the corner post! Back into the ring they go, and the crowd starts making some noise as Tenzan stomps on Kojima’s now busted arm!25 MINUTES
Big slap by Tenzan, and Kojima answers with one of his own, but hurts his arm to do it. Tenzan drops him with a pair of headbutts for a 2 count. Tenzan tries for the Anaconda Vice, but Kojima fights it off so Tenzan turns it into a wakigatame instead! Tenzan then turns it into a triangle arm-bar! Kojima’s foot reaches the ropes to break the hold. Kojima uses the corner to help pull himself up, and Tenzan charges in only to eat a pair of boots to the face, followed by a big running dropkick by Kojima! Tenzan pops up Undertaker style, but Kojima pushes him down for a pinfall, but Tenzan just kicks out before the referee even counts 1! Tenzan with some headbutts rocks Kojima’s noggin. Kojima replies with some big corner chops and whips him to the other corner, and follows with a jumping elbow strike. Instead of shouting “Ichiauzo Bakayaro!”, Kojima just hits an elbow drop on Tenzan. Another big jumping elbow drop by Kojima, who then goes up top to deliver another big elbow dive for a 2 count. Kojima tries for the lariat, but is instead caught in a mountain-bomb. Kojima gets up, and Tenzan gives him a SPEAR for a 2 count! Elbow strikes by Kojima, but Tenzan reverses an Irish whip and takes down Kojima with a jumping lariat. Cover and another 2 count for Tenzan. High-angle backdrop by Tenzan plants Kojima on the side of his head! Cover and another 2 count for Tenzan as the crowd is acting up. Buffalo sleeper by Tenzan at the thirty minute mark!30 MINUTES
Tenzan releases the hold and covers for a 2 count. Tenzan locks on the Buffalo Sleeper against with a body-scissors! Kojima gets to the ropes to break the hold. Tenzan drops him with a Mongolian Chop and goes up top to deliver the diving headbutt for a 2 count! Lariat by Tenzan and Kojima doesn’t go down! Tenzan tries another, but Kojima ducks it and hits the Koji-Cutter! Tenzan gets right back up and tries another lariat which Kojima counters into ANOTHER Koji-Cutter! The crowd is alive now as both men struggle to their feet. Kojima gets up, but drops under his own weight! Kojima up again and tries a lariat, but get a Mongolian to the face followed by a big backdrop-German suplex! Kojima rolls to his feet and gives Tenzan a big backdrop! Both men are down as the referee begins counting them down. They get to their feet and Kojima hits a running elbow followed by a lariat to the back of Tenzan! Tenzan is still standing! Kojima tries for another lariat, but Tenzan blocks it and counters into a cobra-twist for a big “OOH!” from the crowd! Old School, baby! Tenzan rolls into a ground-cobra ala Osamu Nishimura for a 2 count. Tenzan is fired up as they get to their feet! Mongolian Chop followed by a TTD attempt, but Kojima blocks it! Kojima fights out of it and picks up Tenzan before planting him with the CCD! Cover and a long 2 count for Kojima! 35 MINUTES!
Kojima locks on his new shoulder submission hold! Tenzan struggles and manages to get a foot on the ropes to break the hold. Kojima tries for a lariat, but Tenzan Mongolian Chops his lariat arm, then clips his knee with a spear! Armbreaker by Tenzan shades of Antonio Inoki! Tenzan drives a knee into Kojima’s arm on the mat. Tenzan signals for the TTD again and Kojima blocks it again, but Tenzan eventually lifts him up and drives him down! Cover by Tenzan for a 2.8! ANACONDA VICE locked on! Big Tenzan chant as Kojima fights and eventually reaches the ropes to break the hold. Tenzan stomps Kojima and gives him a backbreaker! Tenzan goes up top, but MISSES the moonsault as Kojima rolls away! Tenzan landed hard on his knee, and Kojima attacks it with low dropkicks. Pair of Dragon Screws by Kojima, and follows with a figure-four leglock! 40 MINUTES!!
Tenzan fights and manages to reverse the hold on Kojima who is forced to release it. Dragon Screw again by Kojima! Quick Puroresu Love pose by Kojima followed by a Shining Wizard for a near fall by Kojima! Commentator makes note of the significance of Kojima using the Dragon Screw, figure-four and Shining Wizard, all Keiji Mutoh’s signatures! Tenzan & Kojima slug it out, and Kojima bodyslams Tenzan before going up to attempt a moonsault?!? Tenzan cuts him off though, and drops him with a running powerbomb out of the corner! Cover by Tenzan for a 2.8! Tenzan goes up top and lands another diving headbutt for another 2 count! Tenzan is groggy as he goes up top again, but this time Kojima catches him in mid-air with a Koji-Cutter! Referee Wada Kyohei counts both men down, and Kojima gets to his feet at 8 and rips off his elbow pad to give Tenzan a wicked lariat! Kojima covers only to get a 2.9! The crowd is going nuts for Tenzan now as Kojima tries another lariat, but Tenzan catches his lariat arm and slams him down with an Anaconda Slam for a 2 count! ANACONDA VICE by Tenzan in the middle of the ring!!! Tenzan releases the hold and signals for the moonsault again!45 MINUTES!!!
Tenzan goes up top and connects with the moonsault press! Cover and another 2.9 for Tenzan! Tenzan goes back to the Anaconda Vice! Kojima looks almost out of it as a huge Kojima chant starts up and he makes it to the ropes. Kojima lets out a yell as he gets to his feet but collapses again. Tenzan drops a head butt followed by a TTD into the Anaconda Vice! Tenzan picks up Kojima in the Anaconda lock and tries to fling him down, but Kojima counters into an armlock takedown! Kojima quickly follows with his shoulder lock again! Tenzan does a reverse headbutt to break the hold. Kojima to his feet and levels Tenzan with a lariat for a 2.9! Kojima tries the lariat again, but Tenzan catches him with a spinning heel kick! Tenzan has a wicked weld on the side of his cranium! Tenzan picks up Kojima and has a little trouble flinging him over with a German suplex due to fatigue. Tenzan picks up Kojima again and hits a beautiful German suplex-hold for a 2 count! Dragon Sleeper by Tenzan! Tenzan releases the hold and Kojima pops to his feet like a zombie! They hit each other with lariats and both men drop to the mat!50 MINUTES!!!!
Wada Kyohei counts both men down and Tenzan gets to his feet, but collapses again, restarting the count. They get to their feet and Tenzan gives Kojima a rear lariat for a near fall. Backbreaker by Tenzan, and he goes up for the moonsault AGAIN, but MISSES!!! They struggle to their feet and trade chops. Lariat by Tenzan rocks Kojima, who replies with a elbow shot that drops Tenzan. Kojima taunts him to get up. They trade strikes again, and Kojima goes wild with elbow shots followed by an enzuguiri! Shades of Kawada! Kojima covers for a 2.8! STRETCH PLUM by Kojima!!! Tenzan escapes and locks on the ANACONDA CROSS!!! But he can’t keep the hold on. Kojima to his feet and tries for a powerbomb, but Tenzan fights it so Kojima kicks him in the head, just like Kawada does! Kojima drags Tenzan up and gives him a powerbomb-pin for a 2.5! 55 MINUTES!!!!!
ROLLING ELBOW by Kojima! Osamu Nishimura shows up and splashes water on Tenzan! Even Nagata is shouting at him at ringside! Tenzan struggles to his feet, but one slap from Kojima sends him to the outside! Nishimura again splashes water on him to get his act together, and Nagata is getting in his face even! Tenzan rolls back into the ring and a big Tenzan chant starts up! Kojima covers for a 2.9, and you can clearly see Tenzan’s lights are on, but nobody is home. 57 MINUTES!!!!!!
The referees check on Tenzan as Kojima taunts him. Tenzan just doesn’t seem to respond and even gets a few boos from the audience, or maybe they were for Kojima?58 MINUTES!!!!!!
Tenzan still can’t get up and Kojima drops elbows on him! Takashi Iizuka and the referees check on Tenzan again as Kojima is really fired up now! The referee starts counting out Tenzan, but Kojima tries to pick him up! Kojima is BEGGING Tenzan to get up and finish the match as the fans boo! The NJPW referee holds back Kojima as Wada Kyohei starts counting again. The referee counts TEN and KOJIMA IS DOMINANT!!! We have our first 4-Crown champion as the NJPW regime tends to Tenzan. Tenzan is loaded onto a stretcher and carried out.Match Rating: ****1/4
Post match, Nagata & Tanahashi get in Kojima’s face and Kojima mouths off at them that he’s Satoshi Kojima from ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING! Nagata takes a cheap shot at Kojima as his back is turned, and Kojima tosses the IWGP belt into the ring as he leaves, causing Tanahashi to go on a ballistic! He goes after Kojima and has to be held back by seconds, and Nakamura holding the IWGP Title chases Kojima all the way back to the locker room where Kojima mouths off at him face to face before disappearing into his locker room.
Ok, you had to have known by watching this that this wasn’t the way the double title match was supposed to end. Tenzan just became dead-weight and couldn't respond. You could tell Kojima was going for a Tiger Driver too since he tried lifting Tenzan into a powerbomb type position, and Kojima had been utilizing the moves of the people who beat him in the past during the final sprint. I wouldn’t blame Nagata or the whole locker if they turned their back on Tenzan after this cause he just blew the ending big time, whether he meant too or not, but the overall match was passable and the best thing I’ve seen from NJPW in a LONG time.Overall:
Which brings me to the rest of the show, which was pretty shallow save for a few high points like the IWGP Jr. Title match and the Nishimura/Choshu match before the lame finish. Still, it's worth checking out for the epic main event alone.