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Puroresu Show Reviews

Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Dragon Gate “King of Gate” 12/27/2005

Tozawa & Katsuo VS Katsuhiko Nakajima & BxB Hulk
Funny bit at the beginning when Hulk invited Nakajima to dance with him, and Nakajima was game to try, but quickly bowed out when he couldn’t keep up with Hulk and the dancers.
The match itself was a change to see Hulk not getting his ass handed to him and Nakajima playing the grumpy heavy hitting senior. Nakajima’s over confidence almost got the better of him when Tozawa was able to score two near falls on him though. But most of the match was basically the rookies getting worked over with small bursts of offence here and there.
Tozawa & Katsuo definitely don’t look like the average Dragon Gate worker, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with for them when their time comes. I’m guessing they’ll more likely be more technical styled or maybe even brawlers.
Match Rating: *

King of Gate Semi-Final: Shingo Takagi VS Ryo Saito
Ryo got his nose busted open right at the start of the match, and for the most part it was Shingo overpowering Saito. Shingo dropped Ryo twice, once with a dangerous backdrop, and another where he basically just picked him up and slammed him on his head like what Shuji Kondo did to Dragon Kid in 2004. But Ryo was able to tough it out and even withstood a barrage of hard lariats from Shingo and hit two dragon suplexes to put him away. I thought the ending was a bit anti-climatic since Ryo was playing the underdog role to Shingo throughout the match and I would have liked to have seen more offense from Ryo.
Match Rating: **

King of Gate Semi-Final: Susumu Yokosuka VS CIMA
Susumu hit ONE lariat to start this match and from there it was CIMA in control working his arm for the next 5 minutes or so. I thought it sort of drag things down a bit as it was again a match where the heel was working on an injured body part with small bursts of offense from the face. Luckily they gave Susumu more than that as he battled back big time pulling off two really cool spots, first when he countered the Schwein into the Yokosuka Cutter, then he and CIMA pulled off one of the best sequences ever when Susumu popped up from the Schwein to hit the Jumbo no Kachi, only for CIMA to pop up and hit a second Schwein only for Susumu to pop up again and hit another Jumbo no Kachi!
The one thing I don’t get about this match was CIMA suddenly going all over confident as he dared Susumu to lariat him and mocked him when Susumu didn’t have the strength to hit it. This was CIMA’s downfall as Susumu hit him with leg lariat instead (ala K-ness), followed by a Schwein of his own and finally the Jumbo no Kachi for the win!
The match started off slow, but in the end worked out really well with some good heated moments which the crowd (and myself) ate up. Solid stuff, and hopefully the finals will deliver big time as the two semis have been rather underwhelming thus far.
Match Rating: ***

International 3-Way Dance: Vangellys & King Shisa (Mexico) VS Roderick Strong & Jack Evans (USA) VS Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi (Japan)
Am I the only one who thinks Yoshino looks like a 12yr old kid now?!?
I think it’s pretty obvious why Dragon Gate invited Jack Evans back to tour with them and not Roderick Strong, and it’s something I’ve noticed in his TNA appearances too. Mr. Messiah of the Backbreaker has NO PERSONALITY. Sure Strong is good at working the mat, but he doesn’t play to the crowd to get them into it like Evans does. He’s just all business, which is not a bad thing, but he could a lot better. Evans on the other hand is just a treat to watch. He has exciting offense and it genuinely hurts to see him take punishment due to his flexibility. But together with Strong they have some really good tandem moves, like the powerbomb/flipping footstomp combo, and this incredible move where Strong had Yoshino in a torture-rack, and Evans came off the top with a foot stomp on Yoshino before twisting into a moonsault on Doi! They did have one minor slip up though when Evans was way off mark with a corkscrew flipping senton, but Strong was smart enough to follow up with something so that it didn’t look that bad.
I am really impressed with King Shisa as well, as the man moves really well for his size and I really wonder who is under the mask, if he’s really Mexican or not and what name he uses in Mexico? Vagellys is built like a house, but still seems a bit green at times. I’d definitely like to see more of him though.
I hate to say it, but Doi & Yoshino were more or less carried in this match as they seriously looked like the weaker team compared to the others. Sure they had a good share of offense, but they weren’t in there as much as the others and didn’t really bring anything new to the table.
Overall, this was a really fun match with a lot of great work from all involved, including some good comedy bits. I’m really interested to see more of Evans in Dragon Gate and hope that he gets a shot at the Brave Gate one day.
Match Rating: ****

Survival Gate Battle Royal
No.1 – Don Fujii
No.2 – Masaaki Mochizuki
Fujii attacks Mochi as he gets in the ring and they trade hard chops before Mochi tees away at Fujii with big kicks. Fujii assumes the sumo stance and asks for more, and Mochi lays it in to him. Fuji pounds Mochi in the corner as the next two entrants come out.
No. 3 – Michael Iwase
No. 4 – Daniel Michima
The Floridas immediately give Mochi a hand and Daniel gets slammed hard by Fujii. Fearing a similar beating, Michael whips Mochi into a slam by Fujii! Michael then whips Daniel into Fujii, but before Fujii can slam him down, Michael shoves down Fujii and Mochi & the Floridas pile on top of him to pin and eliminate him as the next two men enter!
No. 5 – Magnum TOKYO
No. 6 – Naoki Tanisaki
I have NO IDEA why, but Tanisaki wheels out Magnum who’s sitting in a garbage can and carrying a broom! Tanisaki gets beat up by everyone as he gets in the ring, and Magnum needs the ring seconds to help him out and get in the ring. Everyone turns their attention to TOKYO, but Magnum beats on Tanisaki for sticking him in that garbage can! Everyone puts the boots to Tanisaki, but turns their attention to the entrance curtains as the 10-second countdown begins.
No. 7 – Stalker Ichikawa
No. 8 – Syachihoko Machine
Everyone stands back as the bizarre duo enters the ring before beating them down. Stalker gets his ears and antenna ripped off Magnum & Naoki and slammed down hard as the next duo comes out.
No. 9 – DG President Takashi Okamura (!)
No. 10 – Magnitude Kishiwada
Everyone steps back as Syacho steps on the apron, but Magnitude stomps his way to the ring and the two immediately face off as they get in the ring. Okamura gives Kishiwada a big kick and tries for a Last Ride! He quickly switches to a backslide and gets a near fall as the announce team is going nuts and everyone else is just standing there watching! Kishiwada puts the boots to Okamura than flattens him in the corner with a splash as the next duo come out.
No. 11 – Genki Horiguchi
No. 12 – Dragon Kid
Kishiwada tries for the Last Ride, but STALKER makes the save by giving Dream Gate champion a diving double finger butt poke! Kishiwada slams Stalker as Genki enters the ring and gets tossed to the other side by the Floridas. The ring is filling up now. Everyone is grabbing Genki by his hair and tossing him around! He almost flies over the top on one of them, but everyone pulls him back in! Everyone turns their attention to Magnitude as the next entrants come out. It’s the Florida Brothers theme that plays, but Michael & Daniel are already in the ring looking at each other and wondering what’s up. Why it’s non other than…
No. 13 – Johnson Florida
No. 14 – Jackson Florida
Johnson stashes several loaves of bread under the ring. Hard to keep up now that the ring is full of wrestlers. Daniel chokes Stalker in the corner as Syachihoko stomps on him and Okamura tries to take off Dragon Kid’s mask, but everyone’s attention once again turns to Magnitude. Everyone is actually scared of the Dream Gate champion as the next duo comes out.
No. 15 – Super Shisa
No. 16 – Anthony W. Mori
Syachihoko gets shoved into Magnitude who kicks him aside, Stalker follows and is also brushed off. Genki & Shisa double whip Kishiwada into the ropes and Magnitude ducks a double clothesline, but as he rebounds off the ropes, Anthony pulls down the ropes and Kishiwada goes over and is eliminated! Kishiwada runs off Mori as the next man comes out.
No. 17 – Karaoke Machine!
Machine appears in the audience and sings his trademark ballad (despite needing a lyric sheet), and everyone in the ring stops what they are doing and claps along to his performance! Probably one of the funniest things you’ll ever see is all the DG boys swaying in unison! Everyone yells at Karaoke to extend the song, but than just forget about it and the action starts up again in the ring. Karaoke Machine finally finishes his song as Magnum tries to rip off Kid’s mask and almost gets it done. Instead of getting in the ring, Karaoke Machine joins the timekeeper at ring side! Everyone is beating on Stalker again, and Okamura gives him one HARD punch as Magnum pins him and gets a near fall. Stalker has an antenna sticking out of his ear. Okamura gives Stalker another punch and Magnum pins him for another near fall. Genki is hanging to the ringpost outside the ring! Okamura tries to suplex Stalker, but Stalker reverses it into a small package and everyone joins in to hold down Okamura for the pinfall to eliminate him!
Syachihoko gets launched into the corner and he does the Syachihoko pose on the corner! Stalker grabs Daniel and does the rope walk all the way over to where Syachihoko is. Michael goes over to help hold Syachihoko in place and Stalker steps over him to cross the corner. Everyone applauds the move, including Daniel who cause Stalker to lose his balance and crotch himself on the ropes before falling out of the ring, taking Syachihoko with him and eliminating them both!
Dragon Kid locks Michael in a Monte Cristo submission lock. Daniel puts a headlock on Kid, Genki puts a sleeper on Daniel, Magnum puts a headlock on Genki’s hair, and everyone joins in chain of head/sleeper holds, except Johnson who breaks it up with a whack from a loaf of bread! Everyone turns on Johnson and charges him in the corner, but Jackson has a bad leg and veers off and crashes out of the ring. Fearing a further beat down, Johnson jumps out of the ring, eliminating himself as he’s whipped into the corner.
Dragon Kid & Jackson tee off on each other, and Jackson slams Kid, goes up the top rope and in a really cool spot, the lights go out and a lone spotlight shines on Jackson as he signals for splash! Unfortunately he missed his splash and landed on his bad knees, resulting in a referee stop and Jackson is eliminated!
Super Shisa is whipped into the corner and he does a corner head stand. Genki & Naoki try to make him lose his balance by shaking the ropes. Shisa tries to head scissors Genki, but Genki tosses him to Naoki who tosses Shisa out of the ring to eliminate him.
Mochi tries to suplex Kid, but it ends up in a 7-man suplex as Mochi and the Floridas get suplexed by Magnum, Genki, Naoki & Kid. Mochi & the Floridas team together and put up an invisible barrier! Kid gets launched over the barrier but is triple teamed. Magnum removes the barrier and together with Genki & Naoki beat down on Kid! Mochi tries the triple jump kick to Kid, but gets pushed over by Michael. Mochi is able to hang on and avoid Daniel, eliminating him from the match.
Mochi & Kid team up to try and eliminate Michael next, but just when it looks like Michael is gone, the other three Floridas prevent him from hitting the floor by setting up a chair for him to land on! Mochi goes after Michael, but almost gets eliminated himself! Mochi & Michael duke it out on the apron, and Kid tries to eliminate them both with a dropkick. Michael hits the floor and is eliminated, but Mochi lands on the Florida Chair, avoiding elimination and getting back on the apron! The replay shows Mochi actually went through the chair and his feet did touch the ground, but the ref missed it so he’s still in.
Johnson tries to attack Mochi with a loaf of bread, but Mochi blocks it and hits him with it instead, but Michael whacks him with another loaf and Kid hits the Ultra-Hurricanrana on Mochi to eliminate him! Genki quickly hits Kid with a sliding dropkick and Mochi flips through the hurricanrana and everyone holds down Kid for the pin to eliminate him.
Genki backslides Magnum and pins him with help from Naoki! Two men left! Or is it? Kid points out that Karaoke Machine is still at ringside!
Karaoke disrobes and gets in the ring, and it’s pretty obvious who’s under the mask. Genki & Naoki double team Karaoke, but Magnitude shows up and grabs Naoki as Karaoke hits Genki with a big lariat followed by a nadoa-elbow to eliminate him! Magnitude holds Naoki for Karaoke, but Naoki ducks and Kishiwada is knocked off the apron. Naoki quickly rolls up Karaoke to win the Survival Gate!
That was A LOT OF FUN!!!!
Match Rating: ***
Entertainment Rating: *****

King of Gate Finals: Ryo Saito VS Susumu Yokosuka
The match started off as Ryo working on Susumu’s bad arm, but ended up as Susumu doing everything he could to try and put down Ryo, who became a no selling, super human monster by the end of it!
Susumu is definitely one of the best big match workers in Dragon Gate, and this right here is another prime example of that as he worked a great match with Ryo, truly a main event caliber performance here as he sold his arm, but still played the grumpy senior role as well doing all he can hitting multiple lariats and other big moves to try and put Ryo down. He even took some punishment other than the arm, including a really sick looking DDT on the apron which Ryo countered out of a suplex which slammed Susumu’s face right on the mat.
Ryo put in the performance of a life time here as well. I wasn’t too big on him not selling at end when any normal person should have been put away by the amount of punishment Susumu inflicted. But when Ryo sold, his facial expressions were just priceless. I love the way he stares blankly into space to sell a hard hit, and he took plenty of them here. The Premium Bridge is also a pretty cool Dragon Suplex variation where he locks his opponent’s hands by holding on to their wrists as he does the move. It’ll be interesting to see how Ryo performs in future main event matches. I just hope it doesn’t end up with him no selling all kinds of insane punishment only to hit several dragon suplexes to score the win out of the blue. But he’s young, and can definitely still pick up a trick or two to add to his repotoire. I also hope he invests some of the 5 million yen prize money to straighten out his teeth.
Match Rating: ****

Overall: A great ending to a fun tournament and the establishment of two future aces of the company. This was a very good show from start to finish and definitely recommended viewing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Zero-One MAX Fantastic Fighting #36

“MAX Around” 11/17/2005

International Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ikuto Hidaka VS Sonjay Dutt
This was an enjoyable match as they did some fun spots, but that’s where the problems with it lie as most of the match looked too “spotty”, as in everything was so conveniently set up from prior moves. Dutt got in a good amount of offense and showed a lot of flash with all his fast paced high-flying offense, he even over shot his mark on a big dive out of the ring, but Hidaka still sold it like he got the full impact of it. Hidaka’s offense just looked really limited compared to Dutt, and the really quiet Osaka crowd didn’t help things much either.
Match Rating: **

Minoru Fujita & Alex Shelley VS Gamma & Takuya Sugawara
I seriously have no idea why Sugawara is trying to pass himself off as a bad-ass heel just because of his Aagan Iisou background, and trying to start a heel team with Gamma, who was the top heel of Osaka Pro at one time. The duo work well together at least, and pulled out a few interesting double team moves. Fujita and Shelley worked well together as well, though I do get the feeling that Shelley is trying to hard at times to try and get some reaction from the crowd, yelling “Eddie” when he did the frog splash for example. I liked the double team they did when Fujita hit an enzuguiri on Gamma while Shelley did a complete shot. The match ended on a DQ when Sugawara started wailing away on everyone with a black (plastic) box.
Match Rating: *

Highlight video of “Mr. Danger” Mitsuhiro Matsunaga’s path of destruction through Zero-One MAX and the trail of blood he left in his wake. First he took out youngster Osamu Namiguchi, pinning him in a match despite stabbing him in the head repeatedly with an icepick, and doing the same to Z1M president Nakamura during the match! He then attacked Rikiya Fudo (who seriously looked like a Makoto Hashi/Masaaki Mochizuki doppelganger!), putting his head in a barb-wire vice! Fudo had the match won when he powerbombed Matsunaga on a pile of chairs, but Matsunaga blew a fireball right in Fudo’s face at POINT BLANK RANGE out of the pin!
Matsunaga would than turn his attention to attacking President Nakamura again, bloodying by gorging his head with an icepick till Kohei Sato made the save. Sato looked to be the best prospect to end Matsunaga’s reign of terror, every time it looked like Sato had the match won, Matsunaga would pull something out of his boot and stab away at him with it! Sato had the match won with his trademark German-suplex, but Matsunaga stabbed his arm out of the pin with a fork before gorging away at it, leading to a DQ. Sato’s friend and long time partner Hirotaka Yokoi would make the save and challenge Matsunaga to his specialty, the barb-wire rope death match!
Yokoi was doing well in the match, even bringing out his own custom made barb-wired boxing glove! But his luck would run out as Matsunaga would choke him out with a steel chain. So with all of Zero-One’s top young hopefuls falling to Matsunaga, who would take up the fight to the Dangerman and end the Karate Army? Young Yoshihito Sasaki would answer the call!

No Rope Barb-Wire & Spider Board Double Hell Death Match: Yoshihito Sasaki VS Mitsuhiro Matsunaga
The match was a bit short, with a lot of stalling from Matsunaga. I don’t get what the point was for trying to intimidate the fans by acting like he’s going to stab them or something since they pretty much already hate him enough as it is.
But like I always say, a great match will suck you in emotionally and get you cheering even if you already know the outcome, and that’s exactly how I felt watching Sasaki here! He took a Hell of a beating, including a powerbomb from the apron out to the floor on a barb-wire board, and Matsunaga trying to rip his ears off with a pair of pliers! You could even see Ikuto Hidaka looking genuinely concerned at ringside!
But Sasaki sucked it up and battled back, hitting Matsunaga with a barb-wire wrapped chair. Sasaki showed he even learned from his peers past mistakes in dealing with Matsunaga as he when Matsunaga tried to stab him with a screwdriver while trying a German suplex, Sasaki was quick enough to release the hold and Matsunaga stabbeb himself in the stomach! This led to Sasaki hitting the Argentine Coaster on a barb-wire barricade and picking up the win to a HUGE ovation from the crowd!
Match Rating: ***1/2

This was another huge step in Sasaki breaking out after winning the Tenkai Ichi Jr. Tournament last year, and rebounding from his loss to Kanemoto. Heck, Sasaki didn’t look like someone who should be jobbing to Kanemoto in the first place! Would Kanemoto step up and represent his company in a barb-wire match? Probably not, but tonight it was all about Sasaki who became a hero to the crowd!


Saturday, February 18, 2006


Dragon Gate "King of Gate" 12/26/2005

I liked the highlights of the Round 1 and Round 2 matches of the tournament they showed at the beginning of the show.

Super Shisa, King Shisa, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Magnum TOKYO VS Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Don Fuji & Magnitude Kishiwada
You know how all the Blood Generation members come out with the work-out tools which represent their personality? Why does Kishiwada have INFLATABLE dumbbells instead of real ones?!?
The match itself was a good fast paced opener with a good blend of speedy offense, aerial assaults and comedy mixed together, even if it did feel a little bit short. I felt like you just didn’t see enough of everyone that was involved in the match, even if they did do some fun stuff like the Blood Generation quadriple team on Shisa.
I’m kind of interested in King Shisa as he seems to be playing the role of an old, bigger Shisa, but can still match speed and agility with the likes of everyone else. He had a good exchange with Magnitude and a singles match between the 2 of them would make for an interesting contest.
Match Rating: **

Florida Brothers (Michael Iwase & Daniel Mishima) VS Vangellys
I expected Vangellys to be another of those masked luchadors, but this guy actually has more of a Latin Lover ladies man gimmick going for him, complete with a lap dance and strip routine as his ring entrance, and this kid is jacked too.
Vangellys actually looked really out of place in this match, but they did actually wrestle more as a way to show off Vangellys’ aerial skills, and he does move well for his size. I also think this is the first time the Florida Brothers won a match by DQ where they guy actually got himself DQ’d on purpose.
Match Rating: 1/2*

Do-FIXER (Genki Horiguchi & Naoki Tanisaki) VS Generation Next (Jack Evans & Roderick Strong)
I’ve got several ROH shows, but I’ve never really watched them thoroughly, so I was really surprised by Jack Evans here as he probably stole the match with his high-flying acrobatics. A major promotion like WWE could easily build their entire cruiserweight division around him if they had the brains to as he impressed me in this one match more than Rey Mysterio has in the past few months.
This was a fun and entertaining match from start to finish, with a great showing from all four men involved. I liked Genki in the arrogant, cocky senior role as he beat down Evans and mocked him by snatching and wearing his do-rag, and he looked good in it too!
Roderick Strong had a great showing here as well as he wowed the crowd with his arsenal of back-breakers and gut-busters. And the Generation Next team did this really painful looking spot where they perched Genki between the turnbuckles, then Evans did a flip out of a powerbomb by Strong into a spinning foot stomp on Genki’s back! These guys definitely know how to innovate their offense and I loved that these four worked together so well. I just feel for Genki here as he had to drop the fall instead of Tanisaki.
Match Rating: **

King of Gate Tournament: Kenichiro Arai VS CIMA
Kenichiro Arai got this far in the tournament due to some serious luck. He received a by in the first round, and he won by forfeit in the second round because Anthony “W” Mori got injured. So when we get to the actual match here, we get treated to one of the oldest in ring stories in pro-wrestling: The arrogant heel beating down the injured baby-face. And as you all probably know, this is one of the angles I hate to see the most.
So in the match you get CIMA wailing away on Arai’s bad leg, with Arai only managing to get in those small bursts of offense, but not being able to get the win because of his injury, like not being able to hold the pin when he hit the Hanshin Tiger-suplex cause his knee couldn’t hold the weight.
The only thing of note in this match was the top rope facebuster on a chair by Arai to CIMA, CIMA giving Arai a dragon screw with a steel chair, and CIMA’s new Schwein-gatame submission finisher, where CIMA lifts his opponent in the Schwein position, than kneels down and pulls down on his opponent’s legs in a figure four position. While I like a good story in a wrestling match, the longer this one went the more I wished it would end already.
Match Rating: 1/2*

King of Gate Tournament: BxB Hulk VS Shingo Takagi
The battle of Dragon Gate’s next generation stars, only Takagi has a few months of seniority over Hulk, and was playing the big man VS little man game since he outsized and out-powered Hulk. Hulk definitely has a future with Dragon Gate as he’s got that pretty boy look the girls love and definitely has some skills to back up his looks. It’ll be interesting to see how he does when the heels finally start selling his offense and his finishers actually start working, and of course if he can stay healthy since he bumps his ass off all the time.
Now Takagi on the other hand is a favorite of mine. He’s got a good bad ass look, and some skills to go with it too, including two killer finishers in the Last Falcony (wrist-clutch spinning Olympic Slam) and the Grand Fall (reverse fireman’s carry into an inverted face buster), and he already has a good push going for him as a powerhouse worker. I just wish they’d stop trying to make him act like Shuji Kondo as there are definitely some similarities there with the way he keeps going for the big lariat all the time.
I liked the match, but it just felt too one sided for me and I would have preferred if it had been more of a see-saw battle instead.
Match Rating: *1/2

King of Gate Tournament: Susumu Yokosuka VS Dragon Kid
I thought this match was really solid compared to the previous two tournament matches as they didn’t one guy a clear advantage like the others did. Interesting start to the match as Kid tried a 619 fake on Susumu on the outside, but Susumu tried to lariat him out of it, resulting in Susumu hurting his arm and Kid hurting his knees! The match was mostly worked around Kid attacking Susumu’s arm, but Susumu was still able to battle back even if it did seem like he forgot to sell the arm at certain points.
They even managed to get in a few comedy spots with referee Bakery Yagi as Susumu pulled Yagi into the line of fire and he ate a missile dropkick from Kid, Kid than ducked a lariat from Susumu and Yagi at that too! Finally, Kid went for Deva Ju on Susumu, but Susumu passed him to Yagi in mid air resulting in Yagi getting flipped!
When things got serious again we were treated to some great action, like Kid giving Susumu a diving head scissors off the top flipping him off the apron to the floor, Kid countering a top rope Last Ride into a Franken-steiner, and a SICK Ultra Hurrican-rana from Kid that saw Susumu crash right on his head when they couldn’t get the complete flip! There was even a bit where Susumu started doing K-ness’ moves like the Darkness Buster and Blue Light! The only problem I guess I had with the match was the out of nowhere ending when Susumu flipped through an Ultra Hurrican-rana and got the flash pin. This was still a solid contest and the best match on the show up to this point.
Match Rating: ***1/2

King of Gate Tournament: Ryo Saito VS Masaaki Mochizuki
First we had Ryo working on Mochi’s leg, than we had Mochi working on Ryo’s arm, and after all that they put on a solid back and forth war. One of the coolest spots in the match was Ryo catching Mochi out of mid air in a knee-bar when Mochi tried for the triple jump flip kick.
The match boiled down to both men going back and forth trying to beat the crap out of each other, mostly with Ryo taking Mochi’s heavy kicks but being able to rebound back with some big moves of his own. The ending saw both men trying to beat each other to the punch and hit their dragon suplex finishers, with Ryo winning out in the end.
Match Rating: ***

Overall: A strong show overall with some good action throughout and two great main events. Check back soon when I review the finals of the tournament!


Sunday, February 12, 2006


NOAH “The First Navigation” 1/22/2006

I really liked the cute way they opened the show with a shot of a snowman on the balcony of the Budokan before we go to the action inside.

Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata VS Mitsuo Momota & Kentaro Shiga
The fun from this match mostly came from Eigen & Momota, I just never get bored of them and it’s always good for a pop when Eigen gets in some big offense like countering a suplex from Shiga into a wakigatame arm bar, or hitting a backslide for a near fall and hitting a good DDT on Shiga! And of course there are the spit spots.
I’m guessing Shiga has to be wondering when the heck he’ll get his push back instead of jobbing all the time like he’s a greenhorn.
Match Rating: 1/2*

Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Tsutomu Hirayanagi VS Takuma Sano, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Dakota
Hirayanagi is a small little guy, but looks like he can still grow and bulk up. But he definitely made an impressive showing for his Budokan debut. Much like Go Shiozaki, Hirayanagi was given a strong showing where he did more than just take punishment from his seniors, but was able to show his potential as he was able to counter Kanemaru’s brainbuster into a snap suplex of his own, countering an Irish whip on the outside sending Kanemaru into the guard rail, hitting a nice fisherman’s suplex for a near fall and hitting a good, but slow, missile dropkick. He even managed a few near fall kick outs on his own.
Dakota is the American who “won” a shot to train in Japan when Kobashi was in America back in October 2005. His gimmick is that of a barefoot hillbilly. I expected him to be an active loudmouth comedic worker, but he turned out to be a pretty good technical wrestler in the opening moments and pulled out some good moves like a twisting missile dropkick, a big diving crossbody where he screamed “whoohoo!” as he dove, and a big frogsplash where he screamed “yeehaw!” or something like that. Kind of what I expect from him, to be more vocal on offense. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but he also hit a brutal DDT out of a Diamond Dust corner flip. This kid could probably be challenging for the junior title in a year or two.
Other than the rookies given good time to show their stuff, there were some really good and heated exchanges between Sano & Saito. A singles match between the two would be fun. GHC Jr. tag champ Kanemaru was in there primarily to be the man to stiff Hirayanagi throughout the match and didn’t really do much other than bossing the youngster around.
So overall it was a good match that did what it was supposed to do, and that’s get the rookies some big time exposure. I have no doubt Hirayanagi will turn out great in a year or two like Shiozaki has, and I’m definitely interested to see more of Dakota.
Match Rating: 1/2*

Daisuke Ikeda & Tamon Honda VS Yoshinari Ogawa & Shiro Koshinaka
I thought this one ended on a rather anti-climatic note since it was actually getting rather entertaining towards the end. There was actually quite a bit of fun comedy bits in this one, like Ikeda typing up Koshinaka in a Paradise Lock and then punching away at his iron ass! There was also a fun bit where Ogawa caught Ikeda’s kick and then tossed his leg to the referee, leaving Ikeda open while the referee was holding his leg! They also did a funny spot where Ogawa kicked Honda in the head and hurt his leg instead. Why do they only bring up Honda’s hard head for comedy spots now anyway?
Ikeda looks sure don’t age well, but at least he can still go, and the same goes for Koshinaka when he’s fired up. I really would have liked for this match to go a little longer.
Match Rating: 1/2*

Minoru Suzuki, Scorpio & SUWA VS Takeshi Morishima, Mohammed Yone & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
Now this one was really short, but it was fun seeing SUWA & Suzuki butt heads since they couldn’t get along, chopping each other as tags and trying to one up each other by beating down Yone. But they did manage to get it together a bit at the end when SUWA hit the John Woo into Suzuki’s Gotch-style piledriver into Scorpio’s 450’ Splash.
The only other fun bit in the match was the battle of kicks between Yone & Scorpio at the beginning. Kikuchi got some good offense in including a nice German suplex and the Fireball-bomb, but Morishima did NOTHING in the match other than a lariat. Definitely wasted potential in this match, but I’d like to see SUWA & MiSuzuki team again as it I like watching the tension between them.
Match Rating: *

Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Mushiking Joker VS Mitsuharu Misawa, Takashi Sugiura & Mushiking Terry
I thought it was weird that Mushiking Terry came out by himself first, followed by Team Kensuke and than Misawa & Sugiura. And we got Yoshihiro Takayama doing guest commentary!
Now this was a fun match from start to finish, starting off with a fun elbow-chop battle between Misawa & Sasaki. Misawa for the most part didn’t do much, but he did more than usual by selling Sasaki & Nakajima’s offense well. Compared with Terry, I’m also more impressed by Mushiking Joker/Ricky Marvin since everything he does is speedy and high impact. Funny also how Sasaki wouldn’t pair off with Terry since he’s a fan of Terry!
I think the only drawback is we didn’t get to see more of Sugiura in the match, even if he had some good exchanges with Joker & Nakajima, I would have liked to see him square off with Sasaki a bit, and not just counted as a junior heavyweight.
Match Rating: **1/2

Akebono & Takeshi Rikioh VS Kenta Kobashi & Junji Izumuda
First off, Akebono is HUGE compared to Kobashi! And after a few chops which ‘Bono shrugged off, Kobashi tried unsuccessfully to half-nelson him! ‘Bono was no selling the chops earlier, but later on Kobashi would chop him to the point that he couldn’t even stand up! No doubt the highpoints of this match was the Kobashi/’Bono exchanges, which left me a bit disappointed we didn’t get any kind of a sumo challenge between ‘Bono & IZU since the match was based partially on IZU’s sumo background. I liked it that Izumuda got one highpoint in the match where he Mongolian chopped and head butted ‘Bono to the point that he managed to down the big man, and they actually had a short “Izumuda” chant going after Izu hit a tope suicida on ‘Bono! The ending of the match even made sense the way the bigger team knocked the wind out of both Kobashi & Izumuda, leading to Kobashi being unable to make the save during the closing pin. The combined splash finisher of Rikioh & Akebono was really cool to watch too, and they even did a fun spot earlier in the match where ‘Bono stood on both Kobashi & Izumuda at the same time, than Rikioh mounted Akebono to add to the weight pressuring down on their 2 opponents!
Fun match, and the ending lead to the potential of a future singles battle between Kobashi & Akebono later down the line.
Match Rating: **1/2

GHC Junior Heavyweight Title: Naomichi Marufuji VS KENTA (C)
Except for one blown spot, this was an EXCELLENT match and a prime example of how to do a title match with two of your best talents. These two hit each other with just about everything and neither didn’t back down for anything. There were probably a hundred kicks thrown between the two, and Marufuji even hit KENTA with a Busaiku Knee Kick! Other fun spots were KENTA’s amazing top rope Falcon Arrow where he leapt up to the turnbuckle to catch Marufuji and deliver the move PERFECTLY, Marufuji’s SICK apron-to-floor Shiranui, and KENTA’s top rope fisherman’s buster!
Early reports said this match was everything from awesome to overated, and I’d honestly have to go with the former on this one! Definitely an early Match of the Year contender!
Match Rating: ****1/4

GHC Heavyweight Title: Jun Akiyama VS Akira Taue (C)
The main story of the match was Akiyama constantly attacking Taue’s head with running knee attacks throughout the match, but Taue put up a spirited fight and the fans were still heavily behind him. The pace started off slow, but picked up towards the end as they unloaded with the big moves, including Taue giving Akiyama a nadoa otoshi off the rampway to the floor, and almost dropping Akiyama on his head with a dangerous powerbomb for a near fall. I thought it was a strong match, I only was too big on the ending as it felt a little anti-climatic.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Overall: I thought this was a strong show overall. Nothing really memorable in the undercard, but was still enjoyable. The two special attraction tag matches were really good and the two title matches closed off the show on a high note. Definitely recommended viewing here.


Thursday, February 02, 2006


AJPW “The Unchained World” 11/19/2005

Show kicks off with Kikutaro in the ring welcoming the fans to show. He gets interrupted by TAKA & RO&D who boot him out and get on with their introductions (I love Buchanan’s wild man gimmick), but they get interrupted by YASSHI & Kondo, YASSHI yapping about his return match tonight. The Voodoo Murders Jr. team leave and RO&D finish their shtick and the show kicks off.

Masanobu Fuchi & Shiori Asahi VS Nobutaka Araya & Nobukazu Hirai
Kikutaro accompanies Araya & Hirai, looking all fired up like he’s going to be in action, but is announced as their ring second! I really enjoyed watching Fuchi here, he played up the old-man bit really well as he’d do one body-slam and act like he hurt his back before tagging out, but when he got the hot tag later in the match, he put on a bodyslam clinic slamming Araya & Hirai multiple times and the live crowd loved it! He even managed to hit one of his trademark backdrops on Hirai which looked killer.
Kaientai Dojo youngster Shiori Asahi looked good for what he got in. He resembles Taiji Ishimori, but using baseball gear like Second Doi used to. He didn’t do much of note other than the basics, but he did do a cool ground enzuiguiri to a sitting Araya, the announce team called it a version of the 619.
I really wish they’d push Araya more as a heavyweight contender. It’s fun watching him muscle the little guys and do comedy style matches, but he’s definitely one of the missed opportunities of the company. I loved the part where he gave Asahi a lariat that looked like Asahi hit a brick wall, and the killer powerbomb at the end where he almost lost Asahi due the momentum he had jacking him up, but made it look all the more painful when he slammed him down.
I still can’t dig on Hirai cause the guy is never really given any opportunity to show anything critical, that or he’s another missed opportunity like Araya.
The match overall was short and did the job of being the opener, and there was a bit of a technical blunder after the match when they played Fuchi’s music instead of Araya’s.
Match Rating: ½*

Kaz Hayashi & Space Lone Wolf VS Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori

Take one look at Wolf and you can tell it’s NOSAWA, if not because of the tattoos, than because you can see the goth make-up under his mask! All four guys in this match had conflicting styles, but all worked well together and the match was enjoyable, but the ending did feel a bit sudden, and painful too as Ishimori gave Hayashi a high-speed frankensteiner and Hayashi’s head hit the mat pretty hard. Hayashi looked genuinely out cold, and everyone also looked concerned as they checked on him. It was short, but still a strong match I’d say.
Match Rating: *1/2

Arashi, AKIRA & Ryuji Hijikata VS TAKA Michinoku, Taiyo Kea & Buchanan

The cameraman actually fell down the entrance steps as RO&D made their entrance!
This was also a fun match and I liked the exchanges between AKIRA & Kea. The worked well together with some good exchanges and didn’t play off like a heavyweight VS light-heavyweight meeting. Kea is also back to wearing regular tights like back in his early Mossman days.
Hijikata is another really under-rated worker and he has some really fun exchanges with the much bigger Buchanan. I really would have liked to have seen Hijikata get Buchanan up in the fisherman’s buster, but it was killer watching Buchanan power out of a triangle-choke and turning it into an iron-claw bomb!
Match Rating: *

Flashback to 9/18 when the Voodoo Murders attacked yet to debut rookie Brute Issei, and Kohei Suwama ran in to make the save, putting YASSHI in an ankle-lock that legitimately injures YASSHI putting him on the shelf. YASSHI gets in Fuchi’s face during another event and lobbies for a match against Suwama and gets it, leading us to the next match.

“brother” YASSHI Return Match: Kohei Suwama & Akira Raijin VS Shuji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI
Kondo & Raijin were really an afterthought in this one, as the whole thing was just YASSHI & Suwama going at it! YASSHI tried to sneak attack Suwama at the beginning and was acting all cocky till Suwama caught him in a quick ankle-lock! Kondo didn’t help things when he tried to enter the ring with a chair and the referee tried to hold him back, leaving YASSHI to suffer in the hold even longer! Suwama finally released the hold, and YASSHI tried to take advantage and attack Suwama with the chair Kondo brought in, trying to Suwama’s ankle with it till the referee was able to get rid of the chair.
Suwama came back with a sick lariat and dead-lifted YASSHI off the mat with a belly-to-belly suplex! Oh yeah, Kondo and Raijin were brawling out on the entrance ramp while all this is going on. Suwama than tried to dead-lift YASSHI into a German, but the little guy managed to reverse it into an ankle lock! But Suwama is able to flip it into an ankle lock of his own again, and with Kondo out on the ramp and nobody to save him, YASSHI taps out in short order! YASSHI yells something on the mic along the lines of not taping out and this didn’t mean anything before stomping out with Kondo.
Ok, this wasn’t a technical masterpiece or anything, but it was really fun and told a good story of YASSHI having the balls to try and take on the bigger man, which the crowd loved. Suwama’s star is on the rise, so there isn’t any shame in a junior heavy like YASSHI losing to him. And it’s a given rule that the returning wrestler always loses his return match.
Match Rating: *1/2

Akebono VS Giant Bernard

By no means was this a mat classic of any sort, but it was still rather fun to watch the two big lugs go at it. The match had more than it’s fair share of awkward miss-timed moments, surprisingly mostly from Bernard, but I’ve always enjoyed super-heavyweight matches. Bernard couldn’t slam or suplex Akebono, but he was able to get him up in a big backdrop suplex. The crowd was even cheering for Bernard at one point!
Akebono isn’t the greatest worker in the world by far, but I thought they used him well here, the way he mixed his sumo style with what limited pro-wrestling knowledge he has. He gave Bernard a good chokeslam, and a Banzai-Drop that the late Yokozuna would have been proud off. I still don’t think the 64 (named after the fact ‘Bono is the 64th sumo to reach the rank of Yokozuna) is a good finisher, but I guess it makes sense since he drops his 500lbs frame onto his opponent to knock the wind out of them. I kinda liked the Black Hole Slam / Scrap-Buster he did at the New Japan Tokyo Dome show as it looked a lot better, but would probably be harder for him to do on larger opponents like Bernard.
Match Rating: *1/2

Jamal & D-Lo Brown VS Bubba Ray & D-Von

The meeting of four ex-WWE workers, and they have worked together before so they all still clicked here. Everyone got to do their thing, but I don’t think the ending of the match went as planned as Team 3D had a table set up in the ring, but D-Lo & Jamal had control. D-Lo set D-Von up on the top rope and re-adjusted the position of the table, this worked against D-Lo as when he tried to frankensteiner D-Von through the table, D-Von countered it into a powerbomb, only D-Lo missed the table and the back of his head barely grazed the edge of it, and you know these Japanese tables don’t break easily like they do in the States! D-Lo seemed to be legitimately hurt as he lay holding his head and medics and officials attended to him.
Match Rating: *

Great Muta VS Great Ruta

I thought this would be a train wreck, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It started off interesting, with both men trading mist attacks. Then they did all the senseless out of ring brawling stuff, which lead to Muta hitting a Shining Wizard on Ruta out on the rampway which lead to Bernard coming out and beating down Muta. Back in the ring, Ruta hit a pretty good moonsault, but over does his flip a bit and lands awkwardly on Muta’s face knees first.
Muta manages a comeback, and puts Ruta in a figure-four. Ruta tries to club Muta with a pipe to break the hold, but Muta mists him! Ruta retaliates by throwing FIRE in his face! This leads to Ruta taking out the ref and the Voodoo Murders raiding the ring and trying to put Muta in a body bag when the lights go out! After awhile, we have Great Bono in the ring! He mists Bernard, taking him out and Muta clears the ring before hitting the moonsault on Ruta for the win while Bono looked on. They posed for a bit before leaving.
The match looked passable when both men were actually trying to work instead of doing “Muta spots”. TARU actually looks good in the face paint though.
Match Rating: *

“The Lariat” Stan Hansen comes out as the representative for the PWF for the Triple Crown main event. Fitting since the primary finishers of both men involved are lariats!

AJPW Triple Crown: Satoshi Kojima VS Kensuke Sasaki
I heard this match was a hard hitting affair, much like Kojima’s match with Kawada where he won the title. Started off with them feeling each other out, but then they start throwing chops and strikes which leads to the obligatory out of ring brawl. This is where things got interesting as Sasaki dominated Kojima here; slamming him hard on the mat with a powerslam and dropping him with a Northern Lights Bomb! I like Sasaki’s clubbing short lariats he did to Kojima, reminded me of Vader’s hammer punches. They did this one spot where Kojima countered two lariats by Sasaki into Koji-Cutters, followed by Sasaki countering two lariats by Kojima into a release German and a full nelson suplex. Kojima did this cool rolling DDT move that ended in a brainbuster. Than they did the big battle of the lariats thing, which Sasaki won at first and hit the NLB for a near fall. Kojima sprung back to life and hit three hard lariats for just a ONE count, followed by a sloppy fourth to finally pin a still struggling Sasaki. Note to Mutoh, try selling your champion’s finisher like Sasaki did here to make Kojima more credible!
Sasaki still looked superior in my opinion, and Kojima seriously needs something stronger for a finisher if he’s always going to need more than one to put his opponent away. It almost looked as if Kojima got lucky here, but it was still a very strong contest even if I did feel they should have given it about 5 more minutes.
Match Rating: ***1/2

An enjoyable show from top to bottom with the only real problem being the short length of some of the matches. There’s still a lot of variety here and definitely recommended to check out.



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