Wednesday, January 30, 2019

KENTA is Back!

Hideo Itami has requested his release from WWE and been given it. It makes sense as he hasn't done anything of note in WWE. Partially because of injuries and partially because he never got good at English promos which will always hold somebody back in WWE. Plus his style doesn't really fit with WWE at all. Which, as his twitter name change tells us, means that KENTA is back. When I first found out about indie wrestling and specifically RoH I didn't know much about Japanese wrestling except that it existed. As RoH grew they started to with Pro Wrestling NOAH and had wrestlers interact with some of the bigger names and KENTA was one of those wrestlers and he made a big impact on me. He's the wrestler that got me into Japanese wrestling and led to me being such a fan of NJPW, even though he never worked there.
His tag team with Naomichi Marafuji was the touchstone I used to find matches on youtube. I'd find good matches with them and then search their opponents and keep spreading my knowledge of Japanese wrestlers. The Junior Heavyweight style and their matches got me to buy my first NOAH VHS as well. KENTA & Marafuji vs. Ricky Marvin & Juventud Guerrera was the reason I chose that show and it was worth the whole cost. It took me a little longer to get into the heavyweight style in Japan and appreciate the other matches. The fact that I only had a VHS player when I was home from college during the Summers stopped me from ordering too many VHS and the Japanese shows didn't really come out on DVD.

The matches between Marafuji and KENTA cemented my fandom. The two men work perfectly against each other and know exactly what the other is going to do when. They both excelled at the Junior Heavyweight level, but when Kobashi and Misawa were nearing the end of their careers those two were the big stars of the promotion and they had to move up in weight class. Marafuji more successfully put on the weight, but KENTA always had a style that fit in with the heavyweights better with his stiff kicks.

Once he left for WWE his time in NXT was marred by injuries that kept him sidelined before he moved up to 205 Live. I have missed most of this part of his career as I don't watch WWE stuff much. I reupped my subscription so my friend could use it for Royal Rumble on his birthday so I watched his match against Cedrick Alexander which was really good. I've heard his feud with Mustafa Ali has some really good matches that I want to check out as well.

More than anybody else who has left WWE I'm looking forward to what the future holds for KENTA. A return to NOAH seems really likely. The company sustained him early in his career, and Naomichi Marafuji is still there. However there are other options. If he wants to return to Japan I'm sure NJPW is willing to give him a good deal. He has tweeted about how he loves Ring of Honor as well and they have a working deal with NJPW that would allow him to work with both companies. If he just wants to work in the US there is always All Elite Wrestling. I'm sure they would push him, but he already took a chance on a new company once in his career, who knows if he's willing to do it again. The only thing I'm sure of is that wherever KENTA ends up I'll be ready to watch the next stage of his career and wait for him to be back at the top of the card where he belongs.

My favorite match of his will probably always be his match against Roderick Strong in RoH because I got to see it live. I never thought I'd have the chance to see him in person so it made the four hour trip to Detroit a no-brainer. It was a really good show and was a ton of fun. It wasn't the best match on the show, but it was what got me to make the trip and will always have a special place for me. So if you've only seen him in WWE and want some suggestions on matches to watch just ask me on twitter I'll be more than happy to give you some ideas.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Exploring NJPWworld: The Steiner Brothers

Watching an old Steiner Brothers match, specifically the one against Road Warrior Hawk and Kensuke Sasuke ( which is a really good match even though I didn't review it, which inspired me to really go through the back catalog of matches that NJPW has instead of just watching the recent stuff. I avoided any of the singles matches and just stuck to their early tag team work in NJPW, especially as a counter to what I remember of them from WCW during the attitude era.

Steiner Brothers vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasuke

Pretty standard tag match from two good teams here. It's fun to see Nakanishi back in his prime instead of the slow moving guy he is now when he shows up in NJPW. Scott and Nakanishi start the match with some grappling in real amateur wrestling style. Eventually Nakanishi gets an advantage then hoists Scott up for a big powerslam. Scott rolls out of the ring to recover then comes back in and hits a big exploder suplex. The match goes back and forth with a mixture of powerful strikes and big suplexes from each team before Scott lifts Nakanishi up on his shoulders and Rick hits the bulldog off it. A really good standard tag match from the two teams. Not a crazy main event type match, but just good wrestling.


Steiner Brothers & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Outsiders & Masahiro Chono

A fun six man tag match between the two teams. Back and forth early with everybody paired off to fight in turn. Eventually Scott plays the face in peril for the good guys and Rick gets a hot tag where he t-bone suplexes everybody. The heels start to just come in whenever and use the numbers advantage as Scott is still down and out from the beatdown to get the advantage. The Steiners manage to hit an electric chair bulldog on Hall, but his teammates come in and save him and four of the men brawl to the outside. Rick gets the advantage in the ring and climbs to the top for a bulldog on Hall, but Nash climbs onto the apron and punches him a couple of times to stop him. Hall grabs him off the top and hits an outsider's edge. Mutoh breaks up the pinfall then Chono throws him onto the ramp and they brawl out there. Nash rolls into the ring and hits a jackknife powerbomb and Hall covers Rick for the three count. At one point Rick came off the top for a crossbody block and Scott Hall caught him and hit a fall away slam. Scott Hall is really strong is what I'm trying to get at.


Steiner Brothers vs. Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow

A good tag match between these two teams and three out of the four guys really get to highlight what makes them great. Scott does too, but he's a little sloppy in this match and doesn't look that great, although he does a good job of playing the face in peril in this one. He did that in the previous match I talked about, but in that one Chono was the big hero, in this one we get to see Rick get a hot tag and he's impressive. Because of what Scott looked like in his biggest run we always think of him as the strong one, but Rick looks really impressive in this one. He hits a really good backbody drop on Bam Bam at one point. Bam Bam and Scott start the match off with a lockup that ends with a beautiful enziguri from Bam Bam. He spends a lot of this match proving he's agile for his size which is fun to watch. Vader looks good in the match as well and hits a brutal powerbomb on each of the Steiners that just barely falls to get a three count. Bam Bam hits a big rolling senton on Rick and would get the pinfall, but he had knocked the ref over on the powerslam preceding it and when he helps the ref up Rick grabs him with a belly to belly suplex and gets the three count.
This match would have been a bit better if Scott had been on his game, but he slipped coming off the top once, his frankensteiner was sloppy, and he just looked a little off. Thankfully his job was to get beat up most of the match so it worked out pretty well. And as I said earlier its cool to see Rick get the showcase in a match from these guys. Vader and Bam Bam were both killing it for their part as well. Just good stuff from those three guys.


Steiner Brothers vs. Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh 1994

This match is great. Back and forth mat wrestling to start between Hase and Scott. They eventually move to stand up and Scott grabs a single leg, but instead of a takedown just suplexes Hase over his head. Rick and Mutoh tag in and Rick just acts like a dog for a bit and pretends to pee on Mutoh then grabs a single leg and bites Mutoh who complains to the ref. Lots of back and forth wrestling between the teams here. Eventually Mutoh and Scott are the legal men and Mutoh throws Scott out of the ring onto the ramp and takes him down with a suplex then runs about twenty yards up the ramp then comes down with a clothesline on Scott. Rick comes over and Mutoh suplexes him and Hase runs up the ramp then comes back with a clothesline. Back in the ring Mutoh gets armbreaker on Rick who rolls him over onto his back then slowly lifts him up and hits a belly to back suplex, some guys can just lift a big guy up in that short armbar position quickly, but damn it looks impressive when Rick slowly hoists him up and over. Rick gets a tag and Scott comes in hot. Hase gets tagged in and we start to build to the finish. Scott starts hitting big moves and that culminates in him hitting a Steiner driver and getting so excited about it he starts taunting the crowd. I don't blame him it was perfectly hit. Scott lifts Hase up and starts slapping him and hitting steiner-lines, but Hase refuses to go down for a couple of them. Rick grabs Mutoh off the apron and brawls with him ringside. Scott picks Hase up on his shoulders and Rick comes off the top with a bulldog. Scott makes the cover and gets the three count just before Mutoh comes off the top rope to break it up.
Great back and forth action and lots of great work from all four men in this match. Which isn't really surprising considering who they are. I kind of forgot how good Rick Steiner was as a wrestler, because he didn't do much in WCW. I kind of undersold the offense that Mutoh and Hase got in, because I'm too focused on the Steiners, plus they hit a lot of suplexes and I love a good suplex. This is the kind of tag action that I love to see and definitely a match to check out.


Steiner Brothers vs. Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh 1995

This match is the follow up to the previous one at the next years Tokyo Dome show. This match builds up more slowly and has some nice callbacks to the match that occurred the year prior, but never builds up to the high points of the previous match. I like when Mutoh takes Rick outside for the ramp run clothesline that Rick ducks it and Scott nails Mutoh with a clothesline, and Mutoh runs almost the entire ramp this time. He is tired by the time he gets clotheslined. Early in the match we get the Steiners hitting a stereo gorilla press slams and Mutoh and Hase rolls to the outside and Hase gets a kiss from a fan who I'm assuming is his wife. Rick goes outside and gives a fan a kiss on the cheek that she is not into. Scott plays the face in peril for a large part of the match with Hase and Mutoh working on his legs. Rick gets a hot tag and cleans house for a bit. Scott gets back in and goes for a steiner driver, but Mutoh counters by landing behind him and lifting him up for a tombstone. It breaks down into chaos for the end of the match and we get Scott going up for the DDT off the shoulders of Rick, but Hase counters with a victory roll for two then Mutoh climbs up and hits a hurrincanranna to take Scott off the top rope. Hase hits a northern lights suplex and gets the three count just before the kick out.
A good match, but not as fun as their first encounter. Everybody's got some good stuff and it builds up to the climax so for a certain kind of fan this match might be more entertaining than their first encounter. Its still a really good match though, just not the great match that the first one was.


Everything I watched of the Steiner Brothers on NJPWworld was worth watching. It went from well done basic matches to top notch main event caliber tag matches against some of the best talent from Japan. Their style blends amateur wrestling with the pro style very well and the explosiveness of their suplexes is great. Their tag team maneuvers are really good and are what really elevated them above most of their opponents, who don't really have anything special going on with their team work beyond just being good wrestlers. Definitely a good dive into the back catalog and hopefully some of the other ones I do will be as much fun.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Wrestle Kingdom 13 Review

If I was a more professional type of reviewer I'd probably rewatch these matches and grade them, but I also like just going with my gut instinct on how I feel about matches. I've definitely seen very different opinions on some of the matches than mine, but I think that's a good thing, especially since different people look for different things from their wrestling anyway. So without further ado enjoy my review.

Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi & Marty Scurll vs. Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr & Minoru Suzuki vs. Chuckie T, Beretta & Hirooki Goto vs. Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb & David Finlay vs. Togi Makabe, Ryuske Taguchi & Toru Yano

Miscommunication gets the Bullet Club team eliminated early after some decent six man action between them and the team of Nagata, Cobb and Finlay. Ton of fun stuff between that team and Best Friends and Goto. Great stuff from Nagata. Cobb avoided attempted double team offense from the Best Friends then hit a double belly to back suplex on them. Cobb and Goto go after each other with a lot of big boy offense and Finlay gets a rollup after a missed Chuckie T moonsault. Unsurprisingly the Suzuki-Gun team makes short work of the other team although we got some awesome stuff between Suzuki and Nagata first. Yano and Taguchi do their shenanigans, but Makabe provides the muscle for the team and keeps them in the match. The ref is distracted and Yano hits a double low blow on Killer Elite Squad and Yano gets a rollup for the win. A lot of fun stuff from all the teams here. One of the benefits to a gauntlet match like this. A lot of short matches and everything is the best stuff from the teams.


Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay

This match was fucking awesome. They started off with a bunch of fast paced sequences dodging each other a bunch. Then they countered a bunch of stuff. Ospreay got a really good counter on Ibushi going for the golden triangle moonsault by getting on the apron and kicking him while upside down. Both guys got a cool dive in and Ibushi hits one of the best german suplexes I've ever seen. This match has several call backs to his match with Nakamura including Ibushi blasting Ospreay with a huge Boma Ye. They get physical with some hard strike sequences and Ibushi takes the advantage until Ospreay stops him on the top rope and hits a cheeky Nando's kick. While Ibushi is upside down in the corner this match hits its next gear. Ospreay sits down and starts slapping him until Ibushi fights back then the slaps get stiff then Ospreay just stomps his face a bunch. Ibushi keeps getting the advantage, but Ospreay won't stay down for the three count and keeps avoiding the Kamigoya. Ospreay hits a back fist to the back of a kneeling Ibushi's head then hits the storm breaker for the three count. This match was so fucking good and I can't believe it's how they started the show. These guys do amazing counters throughout, reference a great match from Ibushi's history, and lay in some super stiff strikes. I loved it.

Yoshinobu Kanemura & El Desperado vs. Roppongi 3K vs. BUSHI & Shingo Takagi

Fine match between these three teams. Pretty quick one so we get a lot of high speed action from everybody and a lot of chaos. Roppongi 3K got a lot of the offense in this match including stopping Kanemura and Desperado from misting both of them with superkicks, but Shingo is too strong for Sho & Yo and nails a bunch of Pumping Bombers before hitting his finisher and getting the three count.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr

Zack Sabre Jr is suffocating in this match and is right on top of Ishii with submissions the whole time and comes really close to getting the submission in the first minute like he said, but Ishii refuses to tap. Sabre goes after the right arm of Ishii and takes away his offense so Ishii can't get everything behind his forearms and clotheslines. ZSJ gets his submissions locked in again, but this time when Ishii escapes he uses headbutts to the chest to stop ZSJ. Ishii starts hitting some big moves, but Sabre goes back to the injured arm and eventually gets an abdominal stretch he turns into a double armlock for the submission. Really fun match between these two guys and its cool to see Ishii play the overmatched wrestler when he's that much bigger than his opponent. Plus Sabre's relentless submission game makes it very believable.


Guerillas of Destiny vs. EVIL & Sanada vs. The Young Bucks

Fun three way tag between these teams with the Guerrilla's teasing fair play at the start of the match. Back and forth action amongst all the teams throughout this match. Sanada looks very good in this match and hit some good plancha's on the Bucks. Fale and Jado come in an get stopped and we move into the fast paced finishing section of this match with LIJ hitting a magic killer and then Sanada gets a moonsault for the win. Fast paced and got some good stuff done in the match and Sanada looked like a star in it.


Cody vs. Juice Robinson

Brandi keeps interfering and distracting the ref early in the match before getting thrown out from ringside. Cody throws Juice into the guardrail then they trade finishers a couple of times. They punch each other a bunch before Juice hits some big left punches then hits two pulp frictions for the win. The interference didn't really flow or mean anything in the start of the match and then it just devolved into trading finishers and didn't have any kind of flow to it.


KUSHIDA vs. Tajii Ishimori

Our first slower more deliberately paced match, although these guys definitely moved fast and made a lot of counters at first. KUSHIDA went right after the arm of Ishimori to set up the hoverboard lock, but Ishimori had it scouted and countered with a lot of submission work on his own. Both guys had counters for each others moves, but Ishimori has more in the tank and finally manages to his the bloody cross and get the three count. Pretty good match, but I think I was really wanting more from it as well. Definitely good, but not the showcase I was hoping for.


Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White

A really good match between these two. Okada comes out recharged as the Rainmaker and has some offense early until Gedo distracts him and Jay White takes advantage and hits a belly to back suplex over the ropes to the floor then smashes Okada's back into the guardrail and apron repeatedly before taking it back into the ring and hitting a beautiful Urinage. Ged tries to interfere and Okada stops him and throws him to the outside and does the running crossbody block over the guardrail onto both men. They get back into the ring and have an amazing exchange of countering each others trademark moves back and forth. Okada finally hits a rainmaker then goes for a second one, but White stops it and hits a blade runner for the three count. Just great wrestling from both of these guys and it told such a good story and we'll see if Okada falls back off the rails after losing the match. Was really surprised it was over after just one blade runner. Made it a really effective finish to the match.


Tetsuyo Naito vs. Chris Jericho

The match went longer than it had to, but it was still good. Naito took advantage early and hit a piledriver on the ramp and kept control until Jericho got his hands on a kendo stick and laid into Naito. Jericho took Naito to the outside and DDT'd him onto a table and put a hole in it. Jericho controls the match whenever its a brawl and Naito would take the advantage when it was about athleticism and wrestling. Naito gets his hands on the kendo stick and uses it like a baseball bat to really nail Jericho a couple of times. Jericho brings in a bunch of chairs and goes for a powerbomb onto them, but Naito counters it with a DDT. Naito his a german suplex onto the chairs and a destino, but Jericho still kicks out. Jericho hits a mule kick to the dick on Naito then a codebreaker, but Naito kicks out. Naito charges for another codebreaker, but Naito lifts him up and drops him head first onto the exposed turnbuckle then hits a destino for the win. A long match with some good brawling and stuff, but it definitely went too long and never really hit the high levels of brutality that Jericho's recent no dq matches have done and it just felt lacking. It was a good match, but not great.


Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

This match was excellent. It told a great story overall and stuck with it. Omega is the better athlete. He's younger and in better shape and both of them know it. Omega goes after Tanahashi early and fast, but Tanahashi has experience and a fuck ton of fighting spirit and he's not going to stay down. Omega draws a target on Tanahashi's back and stays there. Tons of forearms to the lowerback and he when he takes Tanahashi to the outside he hits a belly to back suplex onto the apron then powerslams him over the guardrail and onto the announce table. Which he follows up with a beautiful springboard moonsault over the guardrail. Tanahashi finds his openings as well which generally involve catching a leg of Omega and hitting a dragon screw leg whip on him. There's some beautiful sequences between these two in this match and I like the second time they end up on the outside instead of fake throwing Omega onto the table and into the ring Tanahashi fakes throwing him in and puts him on the table. He climbs to the top and goes for a high fly flow to the outside that Omega avoids and Tanahashi crashes through the table to the floor. The battle continues back in the ring going back and forth, but with Omega having most of the control, but Tanahashi refusing to stay down. Omega hits a series of good V-Triggers and goes for the one winged angel only for Tanahashi to counter with a beautiful reverse 'rana. Omega gets a dragon suplex off the top rope and goes for the one winged angel again, but Tanahashi counters with a reverse fame asser sort of move then hits a slingblade and a High Fly Flow for the win.

This match had that big match feel and they lived up to it. They did some crazy spots. They did some great wrestling. There was lots of counters and just great wrestling. Most of all it told the story well. Omega is a great wrestler and athlete, but Tanahashi refuses to lose. He's proud of his country and his style of wrestling and he doesn't like that Omega has bad mouthed those things so he's not going to lose to him. Tanahashi takes enough damage to stop anybody else, but he keeps kicking out and fighting back. An awesome main event to a great show.


Overall: Watch this show, it's great. There's only one match that is bad and its at least short so it's got that going for it. It starts and ends with great matches and has good stuff throughout it. Compared to a lot of previous Wrestle Kingdoms this felt pretty quick and easy to watch as well. A very well paced show that mixes in a lot of different types of matches for you to watch.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Exploring NJPWworld: Riki Choshu

NJPWworld has a pretty solid back catalog of matches to explore their past so I thought I'd put that to use and check out some matches I haven't watched before and thanks to a vote on a twitter poll I'll be checking out some Riki Choshu matches. I haven't watched any Choshu matches before this so I randomly went through and grabbed names I heard of for him to go against and checked against some lists of his matches on the internet that I should check out. So here are the matches I watched and my thoughts on them.

Riki Choshu vs. Atushi Onita (No Ropes Barbed Wire Match)

Sadly the entrances are cut out for this match on NJPWworld because Onita has one of the greatest entrances ever for it. Just walking down in a leather jacket and smoking a cigarette. The crowd is completely in Choshu's corner for this match and cheer loudly as he dominates the early match. First backing Onita into one of the exploding sides then picking him up and powerslamming him onto the barbed wire and detonating another side. Onita makes a slight comeback and grabs a headlock before Choshu just backs him into a third side for another explosion. Choshu locks in the sharpshooter and Onita crawls to the fourth side and grabs the barbed wire to detonate it and make Choshu release the hold. Choshu bounces off the ropes for lariats a couple of times then locks in a scorpion deathlock on a bloody Onita to get the submission in a brutal squash. Not really much to this match sadly. It's pretty much carried by the spectacle of the exploding barbed wire ropes, which are admittedly cool, but it would have been nice to have an actual back and forth match as well.


Riki Choshu vs. Shinya Hashimoto

Hashimoto retreats from the fight at the start, but then goes in firing with strikes and starts smoking Choshu with heavy kicks. All it takes is a bi elbow strike for Choshu to even things up though. Just two big boys going strike for strike in lots of exchanges and really laying them in. And the match is called because Choshu is too beat up to keep fighting and yet still tries I believe. Or maybe it's a draw, I can't speak Japanese so I don't know, so over all it's a disappointing ending to a disappointing match.


Riki Choshu vs. Andre the Giant

Choshu is a big dude and that makes Andre look humongous in this match. Andre dominates most of it and Choshu fights back and even successfully powerslams Andre 4 years before Hogan did it for the very first time. Choshu shows a lot of fighting spirit, but Andre overpowers him and hits a butt splash to get the three count. A fine match between these two, but nothing really special.


Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono

A fun tag team match between four huge names in Japanese pro wrestling. Chono and Mutoh have the NWO in their corner for this match. So Mutoh wrestles as heel Mutoh which makes him slightly less exciting, but makes him act in a different kind of weird which is fun. Chono and Mutoh have control most of the match thanks to their cheating ways with Sting throwing his bat in often. Choshu and Hashimoto will get the advantage only for Mutoh to sneak in and strike with the bat. Of course if you live by the sword you die by the sword. After the NWO distracts the ref to allow Mutoh to hit Choshu in the back with the bat to break up a sharpshooter, Chono grabs Choshu by the arms and holds him still. Mutoh jumps off the top with the bat and Choshu moves so Chono eats a shot straight to the head. Choshu throws Mutoh out of the ring then hits two lariats in a row to get the pinfall. A fun tag match with lots of distractions and good work from both teams.


Riki Choshu vs. Tatsumi Fujinami

A pretty solid match from these two guys here. Lots of work on the legs and backs of the opponents which makes sense as Fujinami has one of his knees wrapped up. Lots of back and forth submission work between the two men. The problem I have with this match is both guys are doing the same submission moves and takes any kind of personality out of their fighting style. The end comes when Choshu hits a lariat then locks in a sharpshooter. Fujinami crawls to the ropes for a break and Choshu stomps him to the outside. Choshu rolls out and powerslams him legs first onto the guardrail then bends his leg over the top. He rolls back inside and gets a ten count. Which surprised me as the finish, but it was for the WWF title I believe and not IWGP so that's why it wasn't a twenty count. Solid work between the two men, but nothing that really got me excited for the match.


What I learned from watching these Choshu matches is that I don't really care for Riki Choshu's wrestling. Which didn't surprise me as I don't really like the style of wrestling that NJPW had in his time. He's probably a pretty good wrestler of that style and the crowd seems to love him, but it's not for me and none of these matches left me wanting to watch more Choshu matches. I was originally going to link to the matches, but I don't think any of them are particularly with checking out so I'm not going to bother with that. Feel free to try and tell me why I should like Choshu more in the comments if you want or tell me a match that will change my feelings.

Monday, July 9, 2018

PWG Mystery Vortex 2

Cedrick Alexander vs. Trevor Lee vs. Andrew Everett

Holy shit this match is awesome! I remember it being good, but it is so much more than that. The pace is fast and they do a good job of cycling between everybody with them getting taken out and resting at ringside. Everett and Lee make great debuts on this show. Everett hits probably the biggest springboard Shooting Star Press to the outside on Lee. He gets an insane amount of height. Cedrick takes a more toned down role as the bruiser in this match and hits some brutal sounding chops. Just so much good stuff in this match.

Peter Avalon, Johnny Goodtime & Johnny Yuma vs. B-Boy, Willie Mack & Joey Ryan

I really like the local boy six man tags PWG used to do. They're simple, but fun matches and like all of them this opens with some good comedy stuff then just becomes a chaotic tag match. Everybody gets to hit their spots and do some good team work stuff.

Anthony Nese vs. Roderick Strong

Solid match between these two guys. I don't really care for Nese so it's fine, but nothing special. Nese does cool dives and Strong does his awesome backbreakers and eventually gets a win.

African American Wolves vs. Inner City Machine Guns vs. Unbreakable F'N Machines

Couple of guys who turned out to be real shitbags are in this match, but whatever. Holy fuck this match is way too long. It's a lot of fun and everybody hits every single one of their spots in this match, but it just meanders for too long. It's fun watching the big guys throwing around the tiny flippy wrestlers and it's cool when Cage and Elgin hit their dives. Definitely could have done with cutting like ten minutes out of the match though. On the plus side commentary does have Chuck Taylor making fun of AR Fox so that's good. Ricochet hits a Fosbury Flop over the ringpost while AR Fox hits a tope con hilo over the opposite corner. The most interesting thing in this match is just the juxtaposition of how those two high fly. Ricochet does everything with precision and grace and AR Fox just fucking chucks his body around.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Chris Hero

These two dudes go fucking hard in this match. At times it's a little too much of the same strike over and over, but these two know how to throw them well. I love watching dirtbag wrestler Ciampa as he bites people and just acts like a dick as a heel wrestler and it's so much fun. I like Hero's blend of hardnosed striking, but still bringing in his technical wrestling to keep a guy down and set up more strikes.

Johnny Gargano vs. Kyle O'Reilly

Great match between these two. O'Reilly goes after the should for most of the match and Johnny plays the underdog so well at fighting back while hurt. Kyle is so good at delivering a flurry of moves into a pinfall or submission and his strikes are on point as well. The match really builds up the danger of the cross armbreaker and Gargano's need to get out of the move as soon as he's in it and it makes the end when Kyle grabs a leg as well as the arm that you know Johnny isn't getting to the ropes and he has to tap. Gargano hitting a superkick that knocks Kyle's mouthguard out was an awesome visual as well. Just a really good match between two great wrestlers.

The Young Buck vs. Best Friends

As you might expect from these two teams the match starts off with a bunch of shenanigans which results in Nick Jackson trying and failing to put on the superlong trench coat the Best Friends use for the really tall man chokeslam. Trent plays the face in peril for a bit before getting a hot tag and then it's mayhem with all four men in pretty much from then on and it's great. The finishing sequence of this match is perfect. The Young Bucks cheat to stop a three count or submission from happening so many times and the crowd is going apeshit for them to lose before they do it. I loved Matt stopping a count by hitting the ref over the back of the head with his cast. Adam Cole interference stops Rick Knox from making a three count to Knox superkicks Cole and Trent follows up with a tope con hilo. Cole distracts Knox again from seeing a tap out then Matt low blows Chuck with the cast and Nick rolls him up for a three count. It's so frustrating and it's perfect. Great tag team work from all of these guys and man the Young Bucks are annoying.

Adam Cole vs. Candice LeRae

Adam Cole is a real dick and that's the story of this match. He undestimates Candice and she takes every opportunity and punishes him. When she is hitting the violence party in the corner and the crowd is going nuts its the fucking best. Adam Cole starts the match by using his size advantage to hit two of the most brutal looking powerslam's I've ever seen. Candice hits a beautiful springboard reverse 'rana. Maybe the best one I've ever seen her hit. She also delivers a perfect flying 'rana off the top to Adam Cole. She brings her A-game and makes it count. Ultimately Adam Cole is too strong and hits his big moves and puts her down for a three count with the straight jacket german suplex. Candice really should have been the one to end Adam's reign. Maybe not in this match, but definitely in a rematch. Adam Cole proves how much of a dick he is after the match by starting an ovation for Candice then clotheslining her after a hug and having Nick Jackson come in and superkick her before Joey chases them out of the ring with a chair.

This is a damn good show as all PWG shows from this time are. Two of these matches are fucking great and everything else is fun. Definitely a show you should check out.

Friday, May 11, 2018

RoH: The Epic Encounter

Backseat Boyz vs. Da Hit Squad

I wondered why this match was so early in the show, but after seeing it the spot makes sense. It's a short match and Hit Squad is just squashing the Backseat Boyz the whole time. There's a bunch of spots where Maff or Mack are out of spot and Kashmere or Acid have to stall until the move happens. Kashmere flips out of a burning hammer and Maff slowly remembers he's supposed to try and clothesline him and hit Mack, but Mack isn't in the right spot so that's awkward. Then the Boyz hit the T-Gimmick on Maff and get a three count. It wasn't good so at least it was short.

Special K vs. Carnage Crew vs. Dunn & Marcos

This was a drag race of a match with wall to wall high spots and tons of dives. No flow at all to this match I bet I loved it the first time I saw it. Carnage Crew almost get the win with a second rope piledriver, but other Special K guys distract the ref and Mikey Whipwreck comes in an hits some stunners and Hydro steals the pinfall.

AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. The Briscoes

A match with a story and some flow to it. This is novel and exciting. Watching Amazing Red matches now is weird because everything he did has become more refined and even higher flying by the later wrestlers, but I remember how groundbreaking his stuff was and a lot of it is still cool now. Red is the face in peril for the match as you would imagine since he's so very small. Cool dives and lots of big moves from both teams. AJ boosts Red up to a top rope hurrincanranna that almost knocks Jay backwards off the top, but its countered into a top rope powerbomb neckbreaker combo. Mark clotheslines AJ out of the ring and slingshots onto him for a 'ranna, but AJ catches it and hits a Styles Clash on the floor. Red counters the Jay Driller into a Maximo Explosion and hits the standing shooting star press for the three count. This was a match I loved back in the day. Now I definitely find it to be way too fast paced with a bunch of big moves that don't mean anything. Is this what it feels like to be JR? I still like it, but it's not as awesome as when I first experienced it.

CM Punk vs. BJ Whitmer

Good back and forth match although it is a bit sloppy at times between the two guys. Classic early Punk wrestling though. Some good groundwork at the beginning before turning into a hard hitting affair. Ends with a double count out after a german suplex off the apron through a table which I'm okay with as it's a pretty midcard match and built to more stuff afterword.

Homicide vs. Christopher Daniels

Another solid back and forth match. This one was crisper than the last one, but they were really awkward with the finish off back and forth submission and pinfall counters that just looked rough.

Samoa Joe vs. Hotstuff Hernandez

Back and forth big man match here. This was the first Samoa Joe match I'd ever watched and I couldn't figure out why they made him champ. Not too bad on a rewatch though. Not great, but good hard hitting stuff and Hernandez looked solid as well.

Samoa Joe vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tom Carter vs. Matt Stryker

A really good four way match here. Joe doesn't do much in the beginning of the match, but everybody takes some shots at the champ and he gives them right back when he wanders in to break up pins or submissions. Everybody gets some good stuff in and shows their wrestling acumen. Awesome finish as Joe locks in the Coquina clutch and Carter hits a frog splash to break it up, but Joe holds on anyway and gets the submission.

Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson (2/3 Falls)

This match is still awesome. It's one of my favorites of all time and after all the other matches weren't as good as I remembered I was kind of worried about this one, but it was for nothing. They pace themselves slowly and really make everything matter in this one. They build up every attempt Bryan goes for the belly to back suplex off the top rope and it's a key part of the match. London counters the first one and gets the first pinfall. Early in the second Bryan knocks London off the top and traps his legs in the ropes and goes to work on them. That sets up the story of the second fall as Bryan goes to work on and eventually gets a submission with a single leg crab. In the third fall it continues the same way and eventually Bryan gets the belly to back suplex, but doesn't get the pinfall with it. He gets the cattle mutilation, but no submission, and the single leg crab again, but still London fights out. London counters a fourth attempt at the belly to back suplex with a tornado DDT off the top then hits a shooting star press to the back of Bryan as he tries to get up and gets the three count.
This match is just so well done. It tells a great story and is just two great workers having a great match. Everything is executed crisply and is sold well. Nothing happens without a reason and the wrestling tells a story and that's the best you can get.

Dusty Rhodes, Homicide, Iceberg, & Homicide's Crew vs. CW Anderson, Jack Victory, David Young, & The Bar Room Brawlers

This is just a clusterfuck of a brawl. They don't announce who's in it since the match is unsanctioned and people just show up brawling until they play the music for the Midnight Rider and Dusty finally comes out. He clears everybody out with bionic elbows then everybody brawls around ringside and bleeds and hits each other with weapons. Homicide then tries to gouge Jack Victory's eye out with a fork and he says I quit. This is just so pointless and meandering. With the heel group's leader in Steve Corino missing it makes even less sense to have this match.


Going back and watching early RoH shows might be even rougher than I had anticipated. I don't really regret watching this show except the first and last match. A bunch of spot matches building into mat based wrestling makes sense to me. Gabe is fucking terrible on commentary and his biggest fault is he's always trying to get over the stories he's booking without allowing for any subtlety to take place. Danielson vs. London is fucking awesome and unless you're going to buy a comp with that match on it that makes the dvd worth a purchase if you find it. It's still the standard I hold a 2/3 falls match to and is so good. The earlier stuff might not be great matches, but it's a fun kind of mediocre and that's not bad. Feel free to skip the main event bunkhouse brawl though.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Wrestlemania 34

It wasn't a very good show. I think I might have enjoyed it more if Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover hadn't built up my expectations and made me think WWE could make the right decisions, but that's not exactly a glowing review for something anyway. It doesn't help that between every segment we have a shitty Kid Rock song playing either. So let's get down to a match by match review including the preshow because I watched all of it. I was drinking the whole time so while I remember my impressions of the matches the details are fuzzy. I mean not that fuzzy, I didn't go that hard.

The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
A harbinger of things to come as this went to long and just kind of dragged on. Everybody was already in the ring and there just wasn't any hype to build around any wrestler in the match. There were some neat moments, but they all took too long to get there. The end with Bray showing up to help Matt Hardy win was solid. It didn't help this match at all that Lawler and Ross were on commentary and had no clue what was going on with any of the people in the match and Saxton had to explain everything to them.

Cedrick Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
The best match of the night is on the preshow, which isn't surprising and I was kind of expecting that to happen before the show anyway. Great work from both of these guys with big moves, and a lot of emotion between the two that was kind of marred by the picture in picture Rousey promo that took over the sound and made me mad. I really like the idea of Cedrick not wanting to keep hurting Ali and telling him to stay down before finally hitting the Lumbar Check. So glad Cedrick is going to be the cruiserweight champ and hopefully be a big presence on Raw as well as 205 live. He's deserved a spotlight for a long time.

Women's Battle Royal
This match had a much better through line of what it was doing and had an interesting start to the match and kept up a lot of solid grouping up of the women in the match. Kairi Sane hitting her diving elbow drop and getting eliminated during a commercial really sucked. A good amount of people including Bianca Belair and my favorite NXT competitor, Dakota Kai got some really good moments in the match and looked good before their eliminations. I liked the ending of Bayley finally outsmarting Sasha although I'm kind of bummed it didn't work out and Naomi was still in the match. Good for Naomi though.

The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins
A good match to start the show and a lot of good stuff from everybody. Really liked the tease of Rollins doing the powerbomb into the guardrail on Balor before he escaped it. Miz really kept up with these two and hit some awesome stuff including the top rope skull crushing finale. Really liked the ending with Rollins breaking up Balor's pinfall and hitting a bunch of curb stomps to get the win.

Asuka vs. Charlotte
This could have been the match of the night, but the result just really bums me out. I'm going to just talk about the stuff they did right here and go into the booking afterword. Between all the wrestling exchanges we get the battle of Charlotte's chops vs. Asuka's kicks in any striking exchange and they both hit their respective strikes so well. The suplex off the apron to the floor was brutal looking. Charlotte doing a moonsault and getting caught into a triangle choke was perfectly done. Asuka's flurry of strikes is always really fun to watch. Then Charlotte gets the figure 8 and Asuka taps. She barely fights the hold and just gives up.

So ending Asuka's streak here seems really dumb to me for a lot of reasons. First of all Charlotte is already a huge deal so ending the streak doesn't really do anything for her. She's already the most dominant woman on the roster. Also it seems particularly dumb to end somebody's undefeated streak before they become a champion and have a dominant run with the belt. I have so many ways I would have booked Asuka's streak and this was just so anti-climatic. Asuka kind of being glad somebody beat her was a bummer as well.

Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
This match was a very bland choice to follow up the last awesome match and they didn't do it any favors after stunning the crowd with Asuka losing her streak by having Jinder win the US title here.

Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs. HHH & Stephanie McMahon
This match was way too long. Considering only HHH is really capable of wrestling a long match now this should not have been this. A lot of people really dug the storyline stuff and Ronda actually getting to fight HHH was pretty cool. But she is a noted garbage person and I'm not going to lose my mind because she was able to perform basic moves in a wrestling match and not shit herself. My favorite part of the match was Stephanie having no clue how to take a t-bone suplex and just landing on her feet then face bumping. Ronda should have fucking merced McMahon as soon as she got into the match and everything should have been build around not letting that happen.

The Bludgeon Bros vs. The Usos vs. The New Day
This match was so short. I kind of didn't believe it was going to end with the top rope powerbomb because it was so fast. I'm guessing they lost a bunch of time to other stuff and it really hurt this match. I thought this would be way better, but it was what it was. Good wrestling with nowhere near enough time.

The Undertaker vs. John Cena
Cool, this match took forever to get to and then it was a three minute match. Undertaker should have stayed retired after last year which was a perfect sendoff. I just don't care about the Undertaker's mystique and that was all this match had going for it.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
D-Bry got murdered right at the beginning of the match and they brought out a stretcher for him and Shane fended off both KO and Zayn for a good amount of time before they took control of the match. D-Bry comes back from his injury and hits all his big moves to pop the crowd and get the win. The match would have been way better without D-Bry's fake stretcher job at the start and just having Shane be the starting man and get fucking wrecked before making a super hot tag. Plus Shane's shitty punches were in full effect here.

Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss
Jax destroying Mickie James before the match started was so fucking good. Plus she destroyed her real well. The actual match was really smartly done as well. Jax is way too strong so Alexa cheats a lot and tries to stay out of range. Eventually it doesn't work and Jax hit an awesome avalanche samoan drop to get the win. Really good stuff from both of these women.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles
I was kind of prepared for this match not to be awesome, because WWE had overhyped it and I knew it wasn't going to be as good as their NJPW match so I didn't rewatch that before this. That said this was still a good match. They build it slowly to start and then really start to pick it up. AJ counters the armbar into a Styles Clash and then it ended. That felt like the beginning of the crazy run to build to the finish of the match. It's a modified Clash so it explains why it doesn't end the match, but it did. The ending was just anti-climatic and really took the wind out of the sails of the match. Nakamura turning heel with a low blow after the match didn't really make any sense to me, but I guess it at least means these guys aren't done and Nakamura might still win the belt.

Bran Strowman & Nicholas vs. The Bar
Deep down I wanted Strowman to grab one of the NJPW guys as his partner when he went into the crowd, but I knew that wouldn't happen. I would have loved any indy guy as well. A tiny kid is a really good choice as well. Braun basically dominates the tag champs and then we get the real missed opportunity of this match and that's Braun not having Nicholas get the pin. This wasn't much of a match and I'm giving it a low score, but it was a lot of fun.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
I had some streaming issues during this match, but with pausing and letting it buffer I got to watch it. It was really disappointing considering the brutality of their other matches. Sure this had brawling on the outside and Reigns got busted open brutally. It took that cut no time to be a real crimson mask, but it didn't have the same titans clashing feel. The fact that Brock only does three moves doesn't really help anything and then Brock just kept hitting F-5s until he won. Everything in WWE for the last two years has been building toward the moment Reigns gets his rematch at Wrestlemania and proves he's the better man then he just loses. Its so fucking weird and makes no sense. And that is a trend WWE loves to do of swerving Mania results to make them more unpredictable, but it ignores the fact that it fucks up the storytelling. Often times they'll just have a rematch on the next night to make the Raw after Mania feel big and it just makes Mania feel less special. Despite getting the same score as the last match it was not fun.

Overall Thoughts
As is a Wrestlemania tradition, and really a WWE PPV tradition at this point. The best stuff was at the beginning of the show and gets me excited. Then there is a really fucking weird booking decision that bums me out and the rest of the show just kind of falls apart from there. The wrestling is good, it's almost always going to be because the wrestlers are all really good. The storylines going in are usually undeveloped and the booking choices are usually really bad. The show is too long and just always drags on with the time being spent in the wrong places. Especially considering how awesome Takeover was the night before it just makes Mania look even worse in comparison. So in summary there is good stuff on this show, but it's not worth watching the whole thing. Check out the cruiserweight title match, both women's matches, and the IC match and you'll have a pretty good time.