The G1 Climax 29 Recap & What To Expect Going Forward

Another year gone by, and another G1 Climax finished, and I am not sure at this point if New Japan Pro Wrestling can actually have a bad one of these going forward. Sure, I know that every wrestling company can eventually falter, and some are going to make big mistakes along their way, especially a company like NJPW that is trying to grow its market share of the fan base. But, it seems like every year we are blessed with one of the most entertaining six weeks of wrestling imaginable.

Was this year better than last year’s epic tournament? I don’t think so. Sure, the stories were a bit more interesting, and there were a lot of new developments that came out of this year’s final, but I think that Kenny Omega missing from the equation kind of let a bit of wind out of the sails. That doesn’t mean that this one was a dud. I think that it is hard to live up to that amount of quality, but I also think that every year doesn’t have to top the last one, you just have to set yourself aside the main players in the roster, and also lay the groundwork for the rest of the year until you get to January and he Tokyo Dome shows.

As far as accomplishing those goals, I would say this year did a lot better than last year’s. Jay White, SANADA, Will Ospreay, and KENTA have all been established as being higher on the card going forward, you have Kota Ibushi redeeming his loss from last year’s final, and you also have an angry Minoru Suzuki ready to cause havoc until the New Year comes. You also have a refreshed Bullet Club, and you have questions about how much longer guys like Okada and Tanahashi can stay dominant at the top with so many hot contenders nipping at their heels.

Let’s do a deep dive before we close the chapter on this G1 and continue on to the rest of the year. We’ll be breaking down the wrestlers who stuck out, matches that stuck out, as well as stories that were set up that made the tournament feel extra special this year.

Wrestlers

I don’t know if I have ever seen a tournament that did a better job at establishing so many new players at the same time and doing it so well with each person. I think you could honestly make a case for everyone who entered this event coming out looking better than when they went in. The only person I thought lost a bit of stock was Tetsuya Naito. I love Naito, and I love LIJ, but I felt that if he didn’t win this year, he was probably just being passed over. There has been this feeling of Naito being ready to be at the very tip-top of New Japan for years now, and I’m not really sure that is a certain thing anymore. Really, when you look at it, there is only a couple of spots for the very top. That is the same as any wrestling company. While he still will get title shots and maybe even a run with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, I just don’t see Naito being placed any higher up than that. It looks like the plan for the future is going to be riding out Tanahashi, Okada, and Ibushi with maybe Jay White or Will Ospreay coming up to round out that fourth spot. Does that leave much room for a guy like Naito? I don’t really think so. But, I could be wrong. Gedo and NJPW have a way of really surprising you at times, and it could be that they still have big and special things ahead for Naito.

But if you want to talk really big and special, we have to talk about Lance Archer. Holy crap, I am so happy for that guy. Archer has been working in Japan for a while now. He has always been there, willing to do what the company asks of him, he gets other guys over, and he doesn’t make a lot of waves outside of the ring. You can’t really ask for better when it comes to having a company guy. Now he has been given a little leeway and freedom to show audiences what he can really do, we can only hope that he keeps delivering like he has this summer.

Archer is now having the best wrestling of his career. He is going out and putting on 8s and 7s, all the while still getting people over when need be. It will be interesting to see just how high a guy like Archer can get in the company, and my bet is probably pretty damn high when it’s all said and done.

Will Ospreay was my tournament MVP. The entire G1 it felt like he was having the best match of the night every time it was an A Block night. I still think of the weekend when he was able to get two perfect matches out of Kota Ibushi and then Kazuchika Okada, and it isn’t like they aren’t great wrestlers or anything, but I don’t know if I have ever seen someone have that kind of stretch of days where they had two incredible matches like that.

Even guys like Taichi and Toru Yano had their stocks raised a bit. Yano ended up getting a pin on one of the finalists, and Taichi was able to show that he still had that talent that people used to see back when he was younger. His Naito match sticks out to as probably his best outing, but he had some really entertaining bouts through the entire tournament.

Shingo Takagi also had an amazing summer. He not only went undefeated until he met Will Ospreay in the finals for the Best of the Super Juniors, but he also went up from Junior Heavyweight and competed in this tournament, having amazing matches throughout, including a 10/10 with Tomohiro Ishii. You can see that the company sees the talent in him with the amount of faith they have put in him his summer.

For the ones at the top, it looks like Jay White and Kota Ibushi, the two finalists, definitely came out of this tournament looking like they are in a lot better position in the company. Jay lost his first three matches and then swept the rest of the tournament to make it into the finals, and each match towards the end got better and better. Kota took a similar route, but he looked even better. To say that this may be the best Kota Ibushi we have seen so far is an understatement. It’s hard to believe that Kota keeps getting better and better as time goes on, but he does. He keeps developing his style to make his bigger moves and spots mean more, and that is really impressive.

Matches

There were six matches that I had ranked at 10/10. I had sixteen matches that were ranked at 9/10, and I had twenty-six matches that ranked at 8/10. I don’t even know how they were able to keep putting on these high-quality shows, but they pulled it off very well. One thing I always figured was that with the tournament not being completely televised in previous years, you may be able to get some off nights here and there, but with everything being put on NJPW World, it is sort of like you can’t have any bad matches during the entire six weeks.

Picking out a favorite from the six 10/10 matches was pretty hard, but I would have to say that Okada vs. SANADA was probably the favorite out of the bunch. The reasoning for it being my favorite was that I didn’t expect it to be that good, and I also loved the crowd that night. When you watch a lot of Japanese wrestling, you get used to them staying pretty quiet at times, but they were on fire through this entire match, and that really made it special.

Here are the perfect 10/10 matches that I had:

  • Will Ospreay vs. Kota Ibushi
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay
  • SANADA vs. Kazuchika Okada MUST SEE
  • Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
  • Will Ospreay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • Kota Ibushi vs. Kazuchika Okada

I can’t make a perfect comparison to my ratings from last year, as I didn’t document everything as well as I did this year’s, but I would have to admit that I did find 2018’s tournament to have a bit higher quality regarding work rate, and this year’s having better quality regarding storytelling.

Stories going forward/Things to watch for

I think the story I am most excited to play out going into the rest of the year and into Wrestle Kingdom is what will become of Kota Ibushi. Will he be able to carry the new mantle of the chosen one? Could we be looking at someone else taking the briefcase before January 4th? We could see a possible KENTA match coming around the bend, considering he had such a dominating win in the G1, and that usually means a rematch.

KENTA is another guy that we should keep an eye on. With him joining Bullet Club and turning on Shibata in the process, it is going to be fun to see how his journey in New Japan ends up. He was amazing in NOAH, and I feel like positioning him as one of the top heels in the company was one of the best things that Gedo could have done. I am excited to see him work against guys like Ishii and Goto too.

As for the IWGP Champion, Kazuchika Okada has a long fall and winter ahead of him as far as keeping the title safe. His first defense after the tournament will be against Minoru Suzuki, and he also most likely will have to make a defense against SANADA after being pinned by him in the tournament. I don’t see either of those guys going over on Okada, but the way they have booked him recently has been showing that maybe Okada doesn’t have the grip he once had on the heavyweight division.

That’s it for now. Be sure to keep an eye peeled for coverage of the Super J Cup as well as other promotions as we finish up the summer and head into the fall.

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The Crazy Wrestling Weekend… Again!

This past weekend was a doozy. For the second month in a row, we as fans were treated to a great weekend of wrestling, and I would say that I am in the crowd of people who thought you probably saw some legit match of the year candidates take place. That amount of amazing wrestling would be a lot for anyone to process, so that is why I am here to help you steer through those waters with someone by your side.

This was kind of hard to pull off, mostly due to some technical issues that had me struggling to keep notes a lot of the times. Luckily, I was able to figure some things out and get situated enough to get this baby out. Without further ado, let’s start covering the weekend.

 
Ring of Honor Summer Supercard

I haven’t watched Ring of Honor in quite some time, but I felt like I needed to check this show out due to one reason: Alex Shelley. Shelley has always been a favorite of mine, especially when he was in the Murder City/Motor City Machine Guns with Chris Saban. I was really happy to hear about him coming back to wrestling, and going to Ring of Honor was a nice touch, seeing how a large amount of the work that I saw of his back in my college years seemed to involve him in Ring of Honor or what was once TNA Wrestling.

But, like I have said before on this blog, nostalgia isn’t always the best device to use to make a wrestling show. While this wasn’t a bad show, it definitely paled in comparison to the other stuff that was out there this weekend, and considering that I was a little behind on my G1 matches at the time, I kind of regretted not just watching New Japan that night. Again, this isn’t a knock on the work in the ring, but there are certain things that are a bit head-scratching at times when it comes to Ring of Honor.

ROH has had a hard time establishing their own stars, and this show reinforced that for me. While people like Marty Scrull, PCO, and Matt Taven are fun to watch, the crowd was a huge issue the entire night, with most of the arena looking empty, and a fan during the World Title match being asleep at ringside. The entire thing just came across like it was from a company that was now looking a bit out of touch.

If you were judging the in-ring product, you would have had a decent night. Getting back to Shelley, I thought he did great, and it is nice to see someone come back and put over the younger talent. Taven is doing great right now. The company seems to have a wealth of deep talent. But, there is just something missing that made it a really great show.

Part of me just feels that with AEW and WWE doing their best to be noticed that ROH is just falling behind. Some of this can be blamed on execution as of late, some also would point to the exodus of guys like Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, and others would point to angles like the Allure falling flat. Really, I think the biggest issue is with their ownership. Sinclair Broadcasting Group has seemingly conceded that they are happy with their situation with Ring of Honor. Last year, before the AEW company began to develop, they had a huge chance to spend some big money and make a run at being the number two company behind WWE, and they didn’t pull the trigger.

Let’s not focus on just the bad things. There were some really amazing things from this show. The highest-rated match I had was the Ladder War between The Briscoes and GOD. I rated it 8/10, and I probably would have gone higher, but I thought it was kind of weird that both teams didn’t go for the belts until the very end of the match. Other than that, it was a pretty good match.

I think after watching this show, I probably will be trying to get other shows from ROH because there were enough interesting stories and potential matches to keep you coming back, but at the same time, you don’t really know how long most of the roster are going to stick around nowadays. The one thing that hurt ECW the most back in the 2000s was the inability to recoup some of the losses they endured when guys like The Dudleys and Taz kept getting signed by bigger companies. It’s hard to stay as the finishing school, because you may end up with no stars left after everyone gets signed to bigger deals. But, Ring of Honor doesn’t need to be that big for Sinclair to keep them around, that seems obvious. The other point one could make is that Ring of Honor also has a track record of always producing talent that goes on to bigger and better success. I think the issue is that they were as big as they ever had been last year, and now that is sort of a faint memory.

 

NXT

NXT Takeover is the best show in wrestling right now. I really like to think of them as WWE’s take on Pro Wrestling Guerilla. This one was consistent with that same energy, and it definitely featured the better in-ring product of the two big WWE shows this weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, Summer Slam had some decent wrestling sprinkled in there. But I don’t know if you could compare anything on Sunday to what Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano did the night before. This is definitely a MUST SEE, getting a 10/10 from myself. Please check it out if you haven’t yet. I really think that it was even better than almost all of the G1 matches that weekend, save for a few that I will talk about later. When people say that the WWE does have the best wrestling in the world right now, I guess you could really make that case, but it would probably be for their NXT show more than the main roster.

These shows are shorter than three hours, they have some really great wrestling from top to bottom, and the energy that the crowd keeps is insane. It really is something I never thought I would see before, and something that I really dreamed about a decade ago when I first got back into watching WWE regularly.

WWE developmental should be entertaining. It’s that last chance to throw stuff against the wall before stepping on the big stage. If you get someone that the fans recognize and get behind without even having to lift a finger, all the better for you. McMahon is the king of this. He built the WWF into a national company by buying people who were already over and then just put those wrestlers in those markets under a WWF banner.

This was the old version of McMahon’s developmental. It changed from various things over the years, including FCW just before NXT came around, and that was alright, but nothing like what you have today. NXT is really like spoiling your dinner, getting cake right before the real meal come Sunday night. It advances the story (typically), it delivers on amazing wrestling, most of the time better than the next night, and you don’t spend four hours in front of a television. This isn’t just a WWE knock either. Every wrestling company now seems to think that every big event should be some sort of marathon. That is so exhausting.

The only thing that didn’t click was Mia Yim and Shayna Baszler. To be frank, it really isn’t their fault. It was just some mistimed spots and the only reason it stuck out was due to the rest of the card being spectacular. Sometimes the chips fall that way, but both of these women are really good, and I think if they continue or get another match down the road, it will probably deliver. Everything else on the card was great. I don’t even think I could pick out one thing that disappointed. That is pretty rare for a card to do, but this event came across like that.

Cole and Gargano especially stuck out. These two have had a crazy program with one another, and I hope when they both are on the main roster it can continue there. This is one of those big feuds, like Flair and Steamboat, or Austin and the Rock, that you can go back to again and again and keep revisiting it because it can draw crowds and they will put on a special match every time.

Cole was able to defeat Gargano and grab the NXT Title. One would assume that Gargano would be on his way up to the main roster, most likely in a role for the fall season, as he had a spot before Tommaso Ciampa had to get surgery on his neck. The weird thing is that Cole is pretty much ready to make his main roster debut too, and it will be interesting to see that dynamic of what will come of these new guys and Vince. Ricochet seems to be working out okay now, but it wasn’t long ago when that wasn’t the case. Vince has a weird way of tinkering with these new guys in a way that totally takes all the wind out of their sails. One could point to guys like Bo Dallas and Bobby Roode to see where guys that get over at Full Sail will never get over if they are booked in a horrible fashion or a way that makes it look like we shouldn’t care about them.

Go check this show out if you missed it this weekend.

 
WWE Summer Slam

Well, this year wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. Some of the highlights to me were The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, having a squash match with Finn Balor and a decent Brock Lesnar match. AJ Styles and Ricochet was good, but I just don’t feel like there was much wrestling wise that blew me away.

Bayley and Moon were impressive. Even the Kevin Owens match was entertaining, although also confusing. As a whole, it just was too long and it didn’t really have a special feel to it. I guess that may be an issue with myself because I know there were people who wanted to watch this show, but it was hard for me to get up for it, even with the better writing and build before the show.

The good thing about WWE right now is that they have made some good choices in how to get their product over with the audience, and it looks like come October they are going to try to do their best to get as many eyeballs on their show as possible. It’s the most lucrative television contract in their company history and they are about to make more money than they ever had thought possible. This could be a very prosperous time for wrestling if the chips fall a certain way.

But one thing that still concerns me is the fact that we have to deal with these dumb one and done programs with retired workers coming back in. I really don’t mind seeing older wrestlers work. I think there are a time and a place for it. Hell, I remember being excited for Roddy Piper coming back to fight Goldust as well as his program with Hulk Hogan in WCW. I just don’t see any value in Goldberg coming out three seperate times to squash Dolph Ziggler. Once was definitely enough. It got the point across that Dolph was a blowhard and he got what was coming to him. The stuff after the match was just not needed.

The Trish Stratus match was good. I rated it a 7/10 and felt like it was a cool moment to see Stratus in her hometown, having a huge match with one of the best wrestlers in the company. I didn’t feel like this was close to the Goldberg match. It was entertaining, had a great reaction from the live crowd, and Charlotte wasn’t beaten in seconds to a woman who hasn’t wrestled full time in over a decade.

It was a decent show, and it is promising to see that the Raw and Smackdown after were both shows that introduced storylines that should help get us through the next couple of weeks until the fall television season starts. With AEW on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how WWE is going to counter and how much of an impact a new wrestling company being around will influence the direction of WWE going forward.

 

NJPW

This will be covered extensively on the blog, but I wanted to include the G1 Climax 29 Final in order to round out what was a really fun wrestling weekend. I had taken the day off from work Monday so that I could wake up as the show ended and watch it On Demand from NJPW World, and it worked out a lot better than years past, where I would find myself downing mugs of coffee while trying not to pass out during the main event.

As a whole, the show wasn’t the greatest when it came to work rate. That is kind of typical when it comes to the Final, as there are so many guys that are going to get booked that it will mostly be mutli-man tag matches and storylines being set up to get you through the fall until January when Wrestle Kingdom takes place. This year, there will be not just one, but TWO nights at the Tokyo Dome, so it felt like there was a lot laid down for what is to come over the next five months.

Besides the main event, I would probably say that the Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi match was my favorite part of the show. Suzuki-Gun ran roughshod over the New Japan Mega Powers, and a dominant victory like that after a long an grueling tournament is a great way to set up matches for future shows. After the match, Suzuki got on the microphone and gloated about having become a contender for the belt and not even competing in the G1. That was such a cool statement, as I was thinking the same thing when the bell sounded. It also called back to earlier in the summer, when Suzuki was stating that he wanted in the tournament, but he was being denied.

It’s already been announced that Suzuki will be squaring off against Okada later on this month in the UK. ZSJ will also be facing Tanahashi on the same card, and I am really excited to see both of those matches. That’s a job well done in setting both of these up flawlessly.

The other HUGE angle that took place was KENTA turning on his partners, as well as Katsuyori Shibata, and joining the Bullet Club.

It took place during the match featuring Yoshi Hashi, Tomohiro Ishii, & KENTA facing the Bullet Club team of Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, & Bad Luck Fale. When Ishii went for his hot tag with KENTA on the apron, KENTA simply walked away. He only came back when Ishii was able to get some offense on the BC, and that is when he started helping take out Tomohiro and Yoshi Hashi. It was here that Shibata actually came out and started working over KENTA, doing his stalling dropkick and setting up for his PK. But unfortunately, he couldn’t keep KENTA down, or handle the numbers game. This was one of the best moments of the weekend. I know a lot of new fans to the product will probably see this and gloss over how big it was, but for people who have been following the company for years now, it really felt like one of the best angles they have cut in years.

The best thing about this: we will be getting KENTA facing off against Ishii in what may be the stiffest match of all time.

As for the main event, the G1 2019 Final, I was really impressed with this match. It definitely gets the MUST SEE tag from me, but I did have some complaints, which means that it wasn’t a perfect 10/10. For one, I really don’t see any appeal in the outside interference or ref bumps during the tournament final. I understand that it told a bigger story, and I also know that wrestling is a work and this is part of the illusion, but I just don’t get it. New Japan has become heavily reliant on doing this sort of stuff every show. It is now more than one wrestler doing this gimmick now. It comes across as a bit too hokey for me, and hokey is not the reason that I watch Japanese wrestling. Okay, besides stuff like HUSTLE and DDT, but you get the point,

Other than that, it was an amazing match. Kota Ibushi is one of the best in the world. I would say that at this very moment, it’s him, Will Ospreay, and Adam Cole right at the top, and that may not last too long, but for right now, that would be my top three. These guys can go out there on any night and just tear the house down with anyone that they face. Kota Ibushi ended up winning the entire thing, and the post-match speech he gave after was really heartwarming.

Kota Ibushi is so insane. When I first heard about him, he was the crazy Japanese guy who did insane high spots and worked against blow-up dolls. He was Kenny Omega’s “gay lover”. There were so many things that he was labeled as, but I don’t know if anyone considered him the “best”, which now you can definitely make a strong case for. He has evolved and improved so much over the years, and now he is going on to main event the Tokyo Dome. What an amazing tale.

 

 
There will be a further breakdown of this show, as well as the ENTIRE G1 Climax coming later this week. For right now, I hope you enjoyed this past weekend.

Talkin’ Tapes #1

This week we are introducing a new addition to the blog. Talkin’ Tapes is something I came up with to cover matches and storylines without having to cover a whole show. There are a couple of reasons behind this, but the most important part is that I don’t have to take notes and review an entire wrestling show. Now that I am covering Sendai Girls, Ice Ribbon, and New Japan shows, I have very little time to do write-ups for a lot of other promotions. My biggest pet peeve with this is that I don’t get to share other wrestling I come across through the week that my readers may have enjoyed.

That is when I came up with this concept. Instead of having to read through an entire show recap, you can now get individual matches reviewed. This means I can cover different promotions and not have to sit through a whole show.

This works well for you, the reader, as well. If you see something that catches your eye from a promotion that you have never seen before, or a promotion that you haven’t seen in some time, you can go and check out the match in question. I also don’t want to keep this limited to modern wrestling, so don’t be surprised if you see some matches from the past in future installments.

That won’t be happening this time though. This week I have chosen two recent matches that I feel need to have a spotlight on them. I wanted to make sure that this new feature clicks right away, so I chose matches that I thought were  high quality.

Before we begin, I have been asked by previous readers the reasoning behind using a 10 point scale for my match ratings rather than a star rating system. I do this due to stubbornness, to be honest. I started using Cagematch.net back in 2006 or 07, and even though I do read Meltzer and respect his rating system, I always felt the 10 point system was better for me. I don’t have anything wrong with stars, but I feel like since I have been doing this for so long, it would feel odd for me to do it another way.

Also, if you see something that is deemed MUST SEE, that is a way for me to tell you that you need to see that match. I understand that some of the matches that I rate highly may not be the same for you as a viewer at home, and rather than having you chase after every match that I rate over 8, I would rather pick out some select matches that I would say you should make an effort to see. I will do my best to limit the number of matches that I give that award, but I did have one match on here this time that I felt needed that distinction. Now that we have the intro done, let’s get to the wrestling.

GHC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH on 07/27/2019 from Kawasaki, Japan. This match took place at the NOAH Global Junior League Night 10

Kaito Kiyomiya (c) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima

I like Kaito Kiyomiya’s music. I also always love the presentation of the title belt and the pomp and circumstance. Kiyomiya is the youngest GHC Heavyweight Champ of all time. He is only 23 and has only been working for 3 years. Nakajima is old school now, even though he is young he has been around NOAH for years. He came up with Kensuke Sasaki, but originally has ties to Riki Chosu, so there is a lot of prestige around his career.

The first part of the match is really quick before slowing it down. Nakajima’s knee comes into play as Kiyomiya works it over, and Nakajima defends it. Katsuhiko is a character because he is an oddball, but really good and handsome, so people seem to put up with that shit with a sort of laugh and nod.

Nakajima gets a couple of hope spots in. He finally gets momentum with a dropkick to Kiyomia’s knee and then hits a dragon screw. Nakajima then gets Kaito on the apron and hits a tombstone piledriver. I can’t tell you how much I hate apron spots…

Katsuhiko stands on Kiyomiya’s neck while he has him in the corner sitting. Nakajima then starts hitting his kicks and they are unreal. I have always been impressed by them. They both hit one another with a clothesline and then Kaito takes advantage. Kiyomiya flips over the ropes while Nakajima is outside, feinting a dive, and he gets his legs kicked out from under him. They start brawling on the ramp and Nakajima hits a DVD and Kiyomiya starts getting counted out.

Kiyomiya gets in right at 19. Nakajima starts kicking him over and over again. I can’t get over how loud his kicks can be, and he isn’t slapping his leg or anything. They work towards the corner, and Nakajima sets up a superplex. Kiyomiya blocks it, but Nakajima jumps up and hits a spinning heel kick while Kiyomiya is sitting on the ropes. Nakajima is unreal.

They continue to scrap at the top rope. Kiyomiya gets some headbutts in while Nakajima faces out towards the ring, sitting on the top rope. Kiyomiya then hits a reverse DDT off the top rope. That was a really cool spot. Kiyomiya tries to capitalize, but Nakajima hits him with one superkick, followed by another, then a third that drops Kaito.

Kaito rests his face on the middle turnbuckle and Katsuhiko kicks him in the face, grabs him when he stands and hits a backdrop driver. He goes for a pin, but only gets a near fall. Nakajima follows up with kicks to Kiyomiya’s chest and back as he sits on the mat. He follows that up with a Verticle Spike brainbuster. He goes for a pin, and Kiyomiya kicks out very late. Fire Pro players would call that a 2.9.

This feels like the end is coming soon. Nakajima is trying to pull out all the stops but he can’t get the pin. Nakajima begins circling, and when he charges Kiyomiya, Kaito hits an amazing dropkick, goes for a German suplex, but Nakajima lands on his feet. He then hits an amazing high kick. He goes to pick Kiyomiya but he is dead weight, and he can’t hold him for the Verticle Spike. Kiyomiya tries some strikes, but Nakajima ducks them and starts bombarding Kiyomiya with open hand strikes. He lights him up and then mounts him while he is on the ground and starts striking him while he is down too. Nakajima seems to be getting more aggressive the deeper we get into this match, almost like he smells blood. Kiyomiya starts to get on all fours, and Nakajima kicks him in the face. He goes for the Verticle Spike again, but Kiyomiya reverses it into a Falcon Arrow. Nakajima goes back to the kicks to the chest again. Kaito can’t seem to catch a break.

Katsuhiko picks him up by the hair, and he gets an elbow to the face from Kiyomiya. Nakajima kicks him, and then another elbow. They go back and forth, This exchange is a bit different than the usual ones. It comes across more calculated. Nakajima takes advantage, then Kiyomiya, and then Kaito hits an amazing German Suplex. Kiyomiya hits a dropkick, and then a second German. He only gets a near fall but hits a modified Emerald Flowsion. This is the move that he won the GHC Title with. Nakajima kicks out. They start fighting for a Tiger Suplex, and another 2.9 kick out. Kiyomiya’s reaction is so perfect for that near fall.

Kiyomiya puts Nakajima on the top rope. It looks like an avalanche Tiger Suplex. He is able to hit it and gets fired up, grabbing Najajima for another Tiger Suplex for the win.

Thoughts: Kiyomiya is so good. For someone to be that young and talented is scary. The level of young talent in Japan is really insane right now, and I used to think the same thing back when Nakajima was cutting his teeth in the ring with Kensuke Sasaki. But, Kiyomiya is something else entirely. I also really like the green tights and the moves that call back to Mitsuhara Misawa, like the Tiger Suplex and the Emerald Flowsion.

Katsuhiko Nakajima is also really good. I have been watching him for about ten years now, and I have seen him get better and better every year.

9/10 – MUST SEE

On 06/18/2019 from Tokyo, Japan, this match took place on the Minoru Tanaka Produce Minoru Tanaka Debut 25th Anniversary

Giulia vs Sareee

Sareee vs. Giulia is a bit of a dream match. Both wrestle for different promotions, and the reason this match came about was due to it being booked on Minoru Tanaka’s anniversary show. In Japan, there is a lot of emphases placed on tradition that isn’t really magnified the same way in the states. Retirement shows and anniversary shows are pretty common in Japan, and while they do happen here in the states from time to time, I wouldn’t really compare the two. Minoru is a Jr. Heavyweight wrestler who has worked all over and this show featured a lot of different talent to pay tribute to his illustrious career.

And in the middle of the card, we have two of the best women wrestlers on the planet, Ice Ribbon’s Giulia, and World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana/Sendai Girls Champion, Sareee, or as I like to call her, Sareee Two Belts. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I love both of these women. This should be amazing.

The match starts off with both shaking hands. They circle one another, and the crowd is hot for this match right off the bat. They even have got dueling chants. They lock up and exchange some chain and Lucha spots, and both women look very crisp.

Giulia takes advantage and begins striking Sareee, and then Sareee hits her back. Giulia hits a dropkick, followed by a pin, but Sareee bridges out of it hits the ropes in front of her and comes back with a forearm to Giulia.

Things are pretty even at this point. Both women start going back and forth until Sareee hits an amazing dropkick. She has one that ranks up there with Okada’s. She gets Giulia in a toehold until she is kicked off and Giulia gets her own toehold in. Sareee reverses it by turning on her tummy and twisting Giulia into a Muta Lock. Giulia breaks it by raking the eyes, and the ref scolds her. But Sareee gets a bit of revenge when she gets Giulia in a wristlock and begins biting her while holding it.

Giulia gets a near fall off a cross body off the middle rope, and after another near fall, she is able to get a reverse DDT on Sareee for another near fall. After an Irish whip to the ropes, Sareee jumps on the middle turnbuckle and turns to deliver another dropkick, but the timing is off.

They do another strike exchange, and this time they seem to be going a little harder than before. I like the selling here, as instead of them both just walloping one another, they actually take some steps back to show that they can feel the other person hitting them. Sareee, in particular, is good at selling these. Giulia starts throwing a cluster of forearms, and then Sareee challenges her to hit her harder, she does, and Sareee hits her back, knocking Giulia on the ground. The crowd reacts big to this too, Sareee hits the rope and Giulia hits her with a knee as soon as she bounces off, and then follows up with a face wash. She follows this up with a missile dropkick from the top rope, but it is only a near fall, Sareee is too close to the ropes.

Sareee escapes a suplex and goes for her German, but Giulia gets to the ropes. Sareee charges her but it is countered with a drop toehold. which is then transitioned into an STF. Sareee crawls to the rope and gets her fingers on it before grabbing it, breaking the hold.

This time it is Giulia that gets knocked while she attempts a running attack. Sareee hits a dropkick and when Giulia sits down and leans on the bottom rope, she is met with Sareee’s low dropkick to the face. She follows this with a missile dropkick.

They start going back and forth and Sareee throws a clothesline that gets turned into an Octopus Stretch. They begin exchanging pinfalls, but neither can get the win. Giulia sets up for her Glorious Buster, but she can’t keep Sareee up. She goes for a second attempt, and this time she hits it, but Sareee kicks out. Giulia hits the ropes, goes for a Yakuza Kick, but Sareee throws it to the side. She tries a punch, but Sareee ducks under it and hits a spinning kick to the face! It’s stiff and flush, but it’s only a near fall. That is followed by a Fisherman Suplex, which is also a near fall. She pushes Giulia towards the ropes, hits a bridging German suplex for the three count.

Thoughts: This was a decent match, but rather disappointing. There were a couple of botches that took away from it, but the crowd was pretty hot for a Japanese crowd, and there were some amazing spots. The time allotted kind of hurt it too. I know that Joshi matches aren’t that long typically, but this was too short to build up a strong finish. I timed it around 10 mins, bell to bell, and on Cagematch lists it at 12:12, and it seemed way shorter than that.

6/10

That wraps up this installment of Talkin’ Tapes. Join me next time as I tackle more matches!

Working The Loop (08/04/2019)

Ice Ribbon

We have some huge news and developments coming out of their last show. This show will definitely get a full write up later on, but I felt the need to cover some things while I wait for the company to release the show on DVD.

  • Maya Yukihi went to a DRAW with Tsukasa Fujimoto at the 08/03/2019 show from Osaka. Due to the rules of Ice Ribbon and its ICExInfinity Championship, since she did not defend it with a pinfall or submission, she must vacate the title. Because of this, there will be a tournament to crown a new champion. More of this will be covered in the next write up for Ice Ribbon, as this was a big show and I will be covering Ice Ribbon for the foreseeable future.The main event was said to be really good, with the tag match before, as well as the Dark and Totoro match also delivering huge. Again, no ratings at this time, but as soon as the DVD is released, you can bet that you will have a write up on here done by me shortly after. I haven’t read any bad reviews from it. As always, here are the results:

     

    Six Man Tag Team Match

    Akane Fujita, Miyako Matsumoto & Thekla defeat Banny Oikawa, Hamuko Hoshi & Ram Kaicho (9:18)

    Three Way Match
    Matsuya Uno defeats Asahi and Suzu Suzuki (8:11)

    Tag Team Match

    Risa Sera & Tsukushi defeat Hiragi Kurumi & Rina Yamashita (12:26)

    Fierce Females Championship Match

    Jayla Dark (c) defeats Satsuki Totoro (8:21)

    International Ribbon Tag Team Title Match

    Giulia & Tequila Saya (c) defeat Maika Ozaki & Saori Anou (12:16)

    ICExInfinity Title Match

    Maya Yukihi (c) vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto – Time Limit Draw (30:00)

     

  • Jayla Dark retained her Fierce Females Championship title against Satsuki Totoro, but after the match, she made an announcement and a request.Dark will be retiring from professional wrestling this fall. I didn’t get all the details, as the reports and social media I gathered from the event weren’t very clear with the reasons behind it, but they did state that her last match would happen for Pro Wrestling EVE, and she requested Tsukasa Fujimoto accompany her and tag with her for her last match. It sounded like a very emotional scene, and the pictures I saw were of Dark crying and Fujimoto happily accepting her appeal. Here is hoping that Jayla finds happiness in her life after wrestling.
  • Here are the dates and the matches that will compose of the first round of the ICEx Championship tournament. The first round looks good, but it is when you start thinking of the potential matchups after the first round where you could see this tournament getting really good! The dates are as follows:

    20 Woman Tournament to Crown the NEW ICExInfinity Champion!

    08/10: at the Ice Ribbon Dojo will feature:

    Maya Yuhiki vs. Asahi

    Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Suzu Suzuki

    Hamuko Hoshi vs. Ibuki Hoshi

    08/11 at the Niigata Ribbon show:

    Akane Fujita vs. Maika Ozaki

    Satsuki Totoro vs. Giulia

    Kurumi Hiiragi vs. Matsuya Uno

    08/14 at the Ueno Park Ribbon Festival show:

    Miyako Matsumoto vs. Ram Kaicho

    Tequila Saya vs. Rina Yamashita

     

     

    0D6C2A89-5420-4337-864E-722D4D3DFBF3The show that caught my eye was the one on the 14th, with Ram and Matsumoto facing off, as well as Tequila Saya and Rina Yamashita. Don’t get me wrong, the other first round matches look really good, but those two matches look like they could be really amazing.

AAA

I watched TripleMania XXVII, and I was impressed by the entire show. I haven’t watched AAA in a long time, but when I was younger, I would try to catch it when it was on television as much as I could. Watching it on and off for years leaves me familiar with the product, but never enough to feel burnt out on it. This show was different than years past, as there wasn’t so much head scratching and insanity as years past.

But, even while saying that, I wouldn’t say this show was must see. I wouldn’t suggest anyone go out of their way to see it either. I would say that even with a more diverse roster and some really cool stories and matches, CMLL would probably have a better product, and if you are looking into getting into Lucha Libre, their’s is easier to watch and has better wrestling.

That’s not to say that there is bad wrestling in AAA. The Elite always puts on a good show, and the six man featuring Cain Velasquez had some really amazing moments. For a guy that size to move like that was a spectacle, that’s for sure. The athletic ability that he has in unreal, and I hope to see him do some more when he finishes up in the UFC. This seems like an ideal place. Doing the WWE schedule can be rough, but if he can go into Mexico and work part time and work enough American independents he could probably do pretty well.

UFC

Well, it looks like we have our answer to the Cris Cyborg issue, and it doesn’t surprise anyone.

This past week, Dana White released numerous statements regarding Cyborg and what the plans were going forward regarding her UFC status, and they won’t be renewing her contract or matching any offers from other promotions. That means that the Cyborg experiment is officially over.

Cyborg beat Felicia Spencer on the 27th of July, only to have her negotiations come to a close about a week after, on 08/02. White has repeatedly stated that they did everything they could to get the second fight to happen, but White has a very long history of bending the truth, and this seems like one of those incidents.

Also, it needs to be noted that the interview that White released to explain the decision to release Cris Cyborg comes off as a mess. Instead of getting down to the root of the issue, he explains the entire problem that he and Cris have had from the beginning. It really came across as Dana being upset that he couldn’t control the spin of the story, and to me, it comes across as burying himself a bit.

Dana White doesn’t seem like he enjoys anybody but the company controlling the narrative. When other people include their sides of the story, whether they be valid or not, Dana seems to get upset and spins things his own way, and at some points it just gets to be too much for me. It isn’t like I am not going to support the UFC or anything like that, but I also don’t want to have wool pulled over my eyes while I am a fan of an organization. But, this has been a long standing issue with Dana and the UFC, so I guess it is silly to expect otherwise at this point and time.

As far as Cris Cyborg goes, I could see her going to Bellator, Rizin, or even the WWE. She has a lot of marketability, and I know she could do great things outside of MMA if she wanted to. At least we have an answer as to how this all turned out.

Site News

I will be adding some new things to the blog very soon, and I am pretty excited about it. For one, I want to do more wrestling reviews, but probably not full shows. While full shows are fun to review, they can be hard and time consuming. The reason I do Joshi promotions is they don’t have the same runtime as other promotions. Some feedback that I have gotten seem to appreciate getting news from promotions that they may not follow, but have some interest in, and that is probably what I will focus on going forward, rather than trying to cover major WWE and AEW events.

This week I should be doing a new piece called Talkin’ Tapes, where I will be reviewing older shows that I have copies of. These may be old Joshi shows, FMW tapes, USWA, and other promotions from the past that may warrant a second look, but I also want to sprinkle in some modern wrestling. I’m hoping you enjoy it!

That’s it for today! Enjoy the rest of your evening and take care out there.

Working The Loop (08/02/2019)

Ice Ribbon

  • To add to my recent write up from Ice Ribbon I have some information that was omitted. This was due to me not knowing what was happening during a post-match promo after Miyako Matsumoto had won the Triangle Ribbon Championship, but from my understanding she is going freelance. Her status has changed on her Cagematch profile, and she appeared on the DDT Peter Pan show as a surprise and asked to wrestle for DDT.DDT isn’t just comedy when it comes to Joshi wrestling. They actually host Tokyo Joshi Pro matches on their cards, and those matches can be really amazing. I don’t follow DDT regularly, as I think it is funny but too much at times. But, if you haven’t seen a show before, I would at least check one out, especially if you want to see Miyako with some new matchups.This isn’t the last you will see of Matsumoto in Ice Ribbon either. She is booked to compete on their 8/3 show from Osaka.
  • Ice Ribbon’s YouTube channel just uploaded their Digest for their 07/27/2019 Dojo show, and even though they aren’t full matches, you can check out highlights, including the fashion show that I wrote about earlier this week.The editing is done really well, and the Tsukasa and Fujimoto highlights stick out especially. Here is the link if you would like to check it out: https://youtu.be/0e2nJV1pr1s
  • This weekend is a huge one for the promotion, as their show from Osaka has some really big matches, especially the top three on the card. Jayla Dark faces off against Satsuki Totoro to pay off on the angle they started from the last TV show, and the Dark’s Fierce Females Championship is on the line.  Tequila Sera & Giulia are in action against Maika Ozaki and Saori Anou. Last, but certainly not least, we have an ICExInfinity Championship match, as Maya Yukihi defends her title against Tsukasa Fujimoto.Dark and Totoro sound like a good matchup, as they did really great work together in their tag match from the last show from Yokohama. Giulia and Saya are a really great team, and I look forward to seeing them any time they are in action. Fujimoto and Yukihi sound like it may be the best Joshi match of the year, and that is saying something with Sareee, DASH Chisako, Tequila Saya, Chihiro Hashimoto, Giulia and others having a phenomenal summer. Here is the entire card:


    Banny Oikawa, Hamuko Hoshi, and Kaicho vs. Akane Fujita, Miyako Matsumoto, and Tekla

    Matsuya Uno vs. Asahi vs. Suzu Suzuki

    Risa Sera and Tsukushi vs. Rina Yamashita and Hiragi Kurumi

    Fierce Females Champion Jayla Dark vs. Satsuki Totoro

    International Ribbon Tag Team Champions Tequila Saya and Giulia vs. Maika Ozaki and Saori Anou

    ICExInfinity Champion Maya Yukihi vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto

     

UFC

There have been some developments in the Cris Cyborg saga over the last couple of days since I last wrote about it. One, Cris was on Booker T’s podcast this week, and she talked about her quest to get a rematch against Amanda Nunes. Booker also brought up the topic of her wrestling, and they even went as far as discussing Medusa helping her with training.

The second thing that happened was she released a video of her confronting Dana White where he says that the fight will get done, and he also says something along the lines of “…and listen, whenever you hear me saying stuff I’m not saying… the truth…” This is where the video cuts off, and I honestly don’t know what to believe at this point. If you ask me, this seems to be boiling down to negotiation tactics, and I think Cyborg does want to get a bigger check. At the same time, I also think that the UFC is probably doing their best to try and paint themselves as the good guys if they don’t offer her enough money and she leaves for Bellator.

These days, the older a fighter gets, the harder it is for the UFC and company to shell out a lot of money unless they get some sort of monster return on it. I think it is just the nature of the business now, as you can’t get as many buys from a high priced pay-per-view on television like you used to. We will just have to wait and see how this all pans out.

WWE

Bill Goldberg is reportedly returning to the squared circle one more time, and it will be at this year’s Summer Slam from Toronto. The Wrestling Observer is stating that the recent promo from Dolph Ziggler this past week is the catalyst to set the match up. From what I have read, Goldberg was unhappy with his Super Showdown match and has stated that he does not want to be remembered for that match.

I understand Bill Goldberg wanting a proper send-off, but I also feel like I am done with a lot of these older wrestlers coming back again and again. I don’t even think it boils down to the old argument of them taking someone’s spot, I just generally don’t care anymore. I have seen it a lot over the past few years, and it isn’t like all of them have had spectacular outcomes. A big one for me was Sting, and that one ended as badly as one could end, with him injured and back in retirement.

But, the WWE is going to keep doing this as long as it gets them results, and as long as Saudi Arabia keeps wanting to roll these guys out for their shows as well. I am not a huge fan of retired workers coming back as part-time talent, but it’s the nature of the business, and as long as WWE is getting money to do it, and people are supporting them doing it, it’s going to continue. They aren’t the first to do it, and they definitely won’t be the last.

Harley Race

The first person who introduced me to professional wrestling was my grandfather. He would take my brother and I to the store when we would go and visit he and my grandmother, and he would always buy us wrestling magazines or rent us some old tapes from the local video store. The place we went didn’t carry a lot of WWF tapes, and because they were usually already checked out, we would watch old WCW events while my grandmother would make us sandwiches.

Some of my earliest memories of wrestling was seeing Harley Race as a manager in WCW in the early 1990s. He was so animated and he had the greatest facial expressions. It wasn’t until I got older that I found out he was a former wrestler, and that he was actually very accomplished in his career. Harley is the person who most think of when they think of NWA World Heavyweight Champions, and the reason behind that was that Harley was believable, and he was one of the last vestiges of a tough shooter holding the belt over someone who could put on good matches and programs.

In the territory days of wrestling, there was always an underlying fear of double-crosses and screwjobs. Due to this, the NWA promoters preferred to put the belt onto someone who could hold their own if anyone ever tried to take liberties on them. Guys like Jack Briscoe, Terry Funk, and Harley Race were chosen not just because they could draw money, but also because they could hold their own if anyone tried to mess with them.

Harley was known as one of the toughest as well. There are countless stories that you read about and hear about. One of my favorites is from Mick Foley, and how he talked about doing a program in WCW where Harley was a heel manager for Vader. There was a spot where Mick was supposed to attack the heels with a shovel, and he decided to practice his swings against a wall to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone. Harley saw him practicing and he scolded him, saying that if he didn’t hit Vader and make it look believable, he was going to come back and hit Mick.

Foley got so nervous that he didn’t pull the shovel shots when the time came for the attack. He leveled the entire crew of heels and afterward attributed it to “the fear of Harley” in him. To say that an old, retired wrestler was scarier than Vader in the early 90s is really telling, as back then, there was a legitimate fear from the boys when they saw their name across from Vader’s on the format.

Rest in peace, Harley. You’ll always be remembered and loved.

Sareee

According to some recent social media posts, Sareee had undergone a procedure to remove a plate that was helping her clavicle heal from an injury years ago. Her most recent updates do indicate that the surgery was a success, and it is also being reported that she is unlikely to miss any ring time.

Sendai Girls

  • Meiko Satomura worked out at the WWE Performance Center yesterday. WWE has been bringing in guest coaches to help develop different skill sets and for their talent to also get some advice from workers from around the world, retired and active, to help improve their in-ring product. This has been really successful, and I am glad they are sticking to it. You can find photos of Satomura and Natalia working out on social media.
  • TAKAMANIA EMPIRE II will take place on 08/26/2019, and the proceeds from this show will go towards the health issues Yoshihiro Takayama has been going through over the past couple of years. Takayama is paralyzed from the neck down, and this is the second show that is taking place in his name to raise money for his care.The promotion will have one match on the card, and it looks like a good one. Chihiro Hashimoto and Meiko Satomura will team up to face off against the team of Hiroyo Matsumoto and DASH Chisako. The rest of the card also features talent like Minoru Suzuki, Keiji Mutoh, and Naomichi Marufuji.

Site News

Last but not least, I wanted to thank you all for sticking with me and reading my blog over the past few weeks. I have had record numbers for myself in regards to traffic and readership, and that really is encouraging. This next month is another big one in regards to wrestling, as we have the finals for the G1 Climax, Summer Slam, and the Super J-Cup all taking place. Be sure to stick with me for more wrestling coverage. Until next time.

Working The Loop (07/31/2019)

HOLY CRAP did I have a busy weekend. I was going to put off this edition of the Loop due to family issues that I had to deal with this past weekend, but there was so much stuff that happened and I feel the need to post one of these to cover some of the news that is going around. Let’s get started!

UFC

There was a lot of fallout coming off of this past weekend’s event, with Max Halloway and Cris Cyborg both picking up dominating victories. But the biggest story coming out, even with some amazing fights taking place, was the reaction of Cyborg to the criticism of UFC President Dana White. After the fight, during her post-fight presser, she attacked White, claiming he was a bully and also claiming that he was lying when he said that she didn’t want a rematch with Amanda Nunes after her loss late last year.

Dana has a habit of being dishonest, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is another case of him stretching the truth. The most confusing aspect about this entire story is that Cyborg just finished her last fight on her current deal, so negotiations would start now. You would think that the UFC would try to keep one of the biggest names on their roster, male or female, from jumping ship to Bellator, or even ONE FC, but if you have been following this story closely, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It makes me wonder if management just figures that they are going to cut their losses with her.

For one, she is a hard person to match up with due to her size. Two, it looks they don’t want to be tied up to fighters who will demand a high price tag. Though this doesn’t seem to be the case with Jones, you could look at the Brock Lesnar situation, and it did look like that came down to money. With the ESPN contract lessening a good amount of stress in regards to their loans and the interest on said loans, they seem like they don’t need as many big-money matchups as they did a couple of years ago.

I think this whole thing is kind of ridiculous. I don’t really like Cris Cyborg that much, but I do respect what she has done in the sport, and I don’t think that it is right to throw someone under the bus after they have made you so much money over the past couple of years. We’ll have to wait and see how this unfolds for us.

Sendai Girls

I have read the results and the coverage from this past weekend’s Sendai Girls/Fight Club Pro and it looked like a really solid card. The event took place in Manchester, England, and it featured Meiko Satomura and Toni Storm in the main event. It went 21:46, with Toni Storm winning in a reportedly amazing match. The other two matches I heard good reports about were the DASH Chisako vs. Kay Lee Ray in a No DQ match that sounded intense, which DASH won in 16:24, and a Sendai Girls Tag Title Match that had Medusa Complex (Millie McKenzie & Charlie Evans) go over on the team of Chihiro Hashimoto & Yuu in 15:12. I love Medusa Complex and Hashimoto, and Yuu is a strong worker as well. I imagine that the match was pretty impressive.

I don’t know when the tape of this show is going to hit online. I looked at Fight Club Pro’s website to buy it this morning, and it looks like the usual turn around time for these shows is about a month. So it may be a while before you get match ratings for this show, but I wanted to make sure to include it in a write up so that you could be aware of what happened. As a person who now covers Sendai Girls regularly, I appreciate them going overseas and showcasing their talent for a new audience. Really, if you haven’t seen these women perform yet, do yourself a favor and look them up.

Ice Ribbon

 

  • No word on how Yappy is doing at this time. If anyone has more information, please reach out to me through my email or my Twitter account. Both can be found on my contact page.
  • The 07/27/2019 show from the Ice Ribbon Dojo in Sendai was a birthday party for Tsukasa Fujimoto, who turned 36 years old this past weekend. One of the odd things about this show was that she competed in every match on the card. They also started the event with a fashion show that showcased all of her different outfits and gear that she has used over the years.I wish this show was taped, as the write-ups I have read describe a great show, but it doesn’t look like this will be released to the public. That just goes to show that if you have a chance to see some wrestling live, you should definitely take that opportunity.Here are the results from the show:

    Six Man Tag Team Match

    Maika Ozaki, Satsuki Totoro & Tsukasa Fujimoto defeat Giulia, Maya Yukihi & Tequila Saya (12:21)

    Singles Match

    (This match had different stipulations throughout, but the write up I read wasn’t the clearest regarding what they were. Still, an awesome match on paper!)

    Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Tsukushi (10:00)

    Hardcore Match

    Akane Fujita & Jayla Dark defeat Risa Sera & Tsukasa Fujimoto (11:35)

    Six Man Tag Team Match

    Asahi, Matsuya Uno & Tsukasa Fujimoto defeat Hamuko Hoshi, Suzu Suzuki & Thekla (16:42)

WWE

via talksport (Link: https://talksport.com/sport/wrestling/579923/becky-lynch-wwe-evolution-ronda-rousey-seth-rollins)

Becky Lynch sat down for a recent interview covering the Woman’s Revolution that had taken place in the WWE, and there were some quotes that I found particularly interesting. Here are some interesting ones:

In regards to working another program with Ronda Rousey:

“… First and foremost, it was one of the best pay-per-views of the year. And that’s not me being biased, that’s a fact… It had Match of the Year on it, including yours truly.

Absolutely, I don’t see any reason why not. I think we have a strong enough women’s division [without Rousey], as long as they tell the stories around us and let us go. And… that’s all I’ll say.”

In regards to her relationship with Seth Rollins and how it is portrayed onscreen:

“Honestly, I was very apprehensive… What I didn’t want was everybody talking about the relationship. What I wanted was two bad asses, two people at the top of their game fighting side-by-side. Not for the world to be reminded every five minutes that this is Becky Lynch’s boyfriend or that’s Seth Rollins’ girlfriend. Which, of course, they didn’t do. They were the masters of subtlety…

“So, for that reason, I was apprehensive. But when I thought about it, I was like OK. One, we’re going to make this a badass fight, it’s going to be a great fight. No matter what, you know when you put me and Seth Rollins in a fight you’re going to get pure passion and we’re going to pull out all the stops. But in terms of having my relationship be the freaking be the front and centre, that’s not what I’m about. That’s not what I’ve worked towards. That’s not what I wanted…”

Becky did go on to say that she did like working with Seth because he is the best, besides her, but the interview still seemed to shed light on a couple of things.

I find myself agreeing with Lynch. Even though Rousey both brought in new eyeballs and she did put on some great performances, she didn’t leave the division in better shape when she left it. But, that isn’t her fault. WWE creative could have done a way better job, not only in the program involving Ronda, but also afterward.

I’m just hoping that this is fixed. I don’t know how many times the WWE is thrown something very hot in their lap and they are the reason it cools down as quick as possible. That solely falls on the booking. They had something special in Becky Lynch the moment that the crowd got behind her like they did, and they completely sequestered it.

When Becky says that she would like that to happen with someone other than Ronda there, that struck me, because I don’t know if that is possible right now. Again, it falls back onto the booking. You can only do Charlotte and Becky Lynch so many times, but other than them, who else could you put in that position? Lacey Evans, while not as bad as some made it out to be, was also not selling out arenas, that’s for sure. It did nothing to elevate anybody, and that is the problem. The fans have to elevate people, and then creative comes along and tries to interpret that. I don’t know if that is sustainable.

Here’s hoping they get things figured out as they make this push towards the new fall season.

Dragon Gate

I have been meaning to talk about this for a while, but I ordered the Dragon Gate streaming service in order to catch PAC vs. Ben-K. This whole card was really special, as it also saw the return of Ultimo Dragon, one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and it had an English feed, which seems like something they may start doing regularly.

It was kind of strange watching this show, as I was a huge Dragon Gate fan back when Dragon Gate USA was a big thing here stateside. That entire roster back then was super stacked, and it was really nostalgic seeing everything again, but with younger wrestlers and a different vibe to the product.

The match itself was good. I would go 8/10 for the match itself. It was different, but if you have been following the booking leading up to this entire match happening, everything would have made sense. It was one of those long builds that they only seem to do in Japan anymore. But I felt like some of the outside interference hurt the match itself. The good news is, Ben-K came out looking like a million bucks and the new face of the company. He really stepped up in this match and gave it his all.

I don’t think I’ll be keeping the Dragon Gate subscription, but I would say that it is a pretty good value. Not was many bells and whistles as NJPW World, but it was fun to use and it has so much good wrestling on there. I mostly found myself watching show after show for a couple of days. I think it’s worth checking it out, even if you only keep it a month or so.

All Japan Pro Wrestling

All Japan Pro Wrestling has been talked about like it is the number two wrestling promotion in Japan right now, and after watching their most recent show on 07/28/2019, I don’t think there is much of an argument there. Kento Miyahara is the man.

All Japan has really bounced back over the past couple of years, thanks to the leadership, booking, and guidance of Jun Akiyama. AJPW was one of my first Japanese tape experiences. It was probably 1999 or so, and I met a kid through backyard wrestling who was a pretty big tape collector. He and some other kids he went to school with would copy VHS tapes for me all the time, and one was nothing but 90s All Japan, and I would put that on even in college for roommates or friends who I wanted to introduce to Japanese wrestling.

So I was really glad to hear the hype around this match, Zeus vs. Kento Miyahara for the Triple Crown Championship. I have seen Miyahara before, but from what I have been reading lately, it seems like he has reached this other level with his matches now. This match is a solid 9/10 from me. You could put this match up there with some of the stuff from New Japan, and it would hold up just as well. I don’t think it is on Will Ospreay vs. Okada levels yet, but with enough time and luck, this place could return to something really big and special.

I don’t want to forget about Zeus either. Holy crap, if you have not seen this guy you need to. He is a really huge Japanese wrestler with tattoos and blonde hair. He look amazing, and his offense is something else. He was doing these insane chops and lariats. This match is definitely MUST SEE.

It’s hard to catch all this stuff during the summer, and I am really behind on New Japan myself, so I can totally get not putting more wrestling on your plate to watch. But, there are so many companies that are doing really great work, and when people say this is the best time to be a professional wrestling fan, they are not lying.

You have Dragon Gate, All Japan, Ice Ribbon, Sendai Girls, and Stardom all doing really amazing stuff. You have NOAH also starting to rise back up to prominence. You have American companies putting on great matches, and searching the globe for their own money makers. There is just so much out there and it is all pretty easily accessible, so please check out something different this week. You won’t regret it.

That’s all for now everyone. Please be sure to check out my social media and email for contact. Enjoy the rest of your weeks and keep your eyes peeled for more news, analysis, and reviews.

Ice Ribbon 07/15/2019

07/15/2019

In my quest to watch more Joshi promotions after enjoying Sendai Girls so much, I had decided to check out one of my old favorites from when I used to watch a lot of Japanese wrestling in college, and that promotion was Ice Ribbon.

Ice Ribbon was kind of notorious in 07 and 08 when I was really big into Joshi wrestling, and that was due to Emi Sakura bringing in very young girls, some as old as 9, to come and compete for her wrestling promotion. It got a lot of flack, and some notoriety, due to all the hype surrounding girls being so young and entering the business, but to me, I always found the cards pretty entertaining.

But I haven’t really watched their product in about 7 years. I don’t even think I had watched any post-Sakura running the company, as she was in charge the last time I remember it.

That was until I saw Tequila Saya vs. Maya Yuhiki face off in the main event of the 6/30/2019 show, New Ice Ribbon #968 in SKIP City. That match made me want to check out what else they had to offer. I had rated it 9/10, and needless to say I was pleasantly surprised.

That match made me decide to check out the rest of the show, and I really liked it. It had variety, great wrestling, and it also was pretty easy to watch, only lasting for about two hours for the entire run time, with the wrestling lasting far less than that. I wish all wrestling promotions did that sometimes.

This time around, we will be looking at their show from July 15th, coming to us from the Yokohama Radiant Hall in Yokohama, Japan. We have a six-match card ahead of us, so let’s get started.

Initial Thoughts:

Ice Ribbon started in 2006 and it was run by Emi Sakura until 2012. It has always been known for having a younger roster, great performances, and venue atmosphere, as most of the shows used to be done out of the Ice Ribbon dojo.

While there were a couple of familiar faces I had seen before, this was almost an entirely new roster. I really liked this pack of women, though. They are talented, that is for sure, and they move quick. This is one of those places where you don’t want to blink while watching it, or else you may miss something. After reading some reviews and comments on social media, I gathered that this is typical of shows nowadays and that there is pretty high praise from wrestling fans who demand a high-quality in-ring product.

That doesn’t mean that the show was perfect by any means. While it was a strong showing, there were some things that came across flat and that sort of hurt the presentation. But, those things weren’t prevalent, and they also weren’t so big that it impacted the majority of the show.

Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get started on the show!

Match #1: Banny Oikawa, Matsuya Uno, Satsuki Totoro, & Yappy vs. Jayla Dark, Maika Ozaki, Kyuir, & Saori Anou

Before the match starts, we are introduced to the commentary team, and this is where Ice Ribbon can seem a bit out there to some Western audiences. For one, Ai Hara does commentary and is also the ring announcer, so the commentary is done in post after the show has already gone on. Her co-commentator this time around is Giulia… One of the participants in the main event of the evening…

Although this is strange, it isn’t something that is going to affect your viewing all that much. There are times where you can see them both talking in a little window on the screen, and there are also times where they seem more into making jokes than calling the match, but I wasn’t too bothered by it at all. During the serious parts of the matches, they did their best to call the action, and Hara’s English was good enough that I could make out the names of some of the moves that had English names.

But they also crack open some beers and make a point to show which brand they prefer. Seeing that, you can probably guess that there are some points where this place doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Getting back to the match, this is a mix of different women who bring different things to the table, but it also doubles as a way of getting some of the more inexperienced girls ready. Yappy, Banny and Kyuir stuck out in particular as wrestlers who were just starting out, but there were some other women like Totoro who don’t have that much experience as well.

To be honest, this match wasn’t that good. If you read my reviews or watch enough Japanese wrestling, you know that opening matches are generally set aside for younger performers to work on their craft, and because of this, the match quality in the opening parts of the show can be hurt due to this, and this match definitely falls into that category.

The interesting moment of this match came when Yappy tagged in. She starts getting some shine by hitting running attacks on all of the women on the other team. Then she starts exchanging shoulder tackles with Totoro, but when she runs towards Anou, Saori is able to jump over her in the corner. Yappy doesn’t give up, and she charges Anou again, but this time is met with an Enziguiri to the face. You hear a loud pop and blood starts to come out of Yappy’s mouth. Anou actually kicked Yappy so hard that she broke her jaw at his spot. The crazy thing is that Yappy continues to wrestle, even with the injury.

Uno gets some good offense in next but it starts to break down around this time, and all of the women’s timing was off. It sucked, but it happens.

Dark and Totoro start being showcased, and they do some impressive senton spots. Uno assists Totoro with a senton bomb off the top to Dark and that is the end of the match, with Totoro pinning her for her team to win.

After the match, Satsuki Totoro grabs the mic and… STARTS SPEAKING ENGLISH!!!!! I am impressed. She starts cutting a promo on Jayla Dark, and she asks when her last date in Japan is. Dark tells her August 3rd, and she asks for a singles match. Dark accepts, but she also grabs her Fierce Females Championship and offers to put that on the line as well! Totoro accepts and says that she is going to take it. This was done really well. I don’t usually agree with a champ putting their title up for no reason, but Jayla came across like she had something to prove. The Fierce Females Championship is a Scottish wrestling company, and the person who held the title before Dark was Viper. Pretty good company with that list of champions already.

4/10

Match #2: Hiragi Kurumi vs. Ibuki Hoshi

Kurumi is a 9-year vet, but she is only 19. Get used to hearing statements like that when it comes to some of the Ice Ribbon crew. Hoshi is another young girl, she is only 16 and has been wrestling for 2 years already.

The match starts off decent. One thing I really liked was a spot where Hoshi went for two crossbody blocks and Kurumi kept catching her. Finally, after the third try, Kurumi throws her down and goes for a double stomp. Hoshi rolls under this, then hits the rope, and now that Hiragi is off-balance, she is finally able to hit the crossbody. Really cool storytelling.

Ibuki sells really well. She takes forearms to the face and she makes it look like it kills her with every shot. This match turns up in the latter part as well, and they start exchanging big moves and building to a great finish.

Kurumi hits a cannonball and then a Dominator for a near fall. Then a superkick, an elbow, and a high angle back suplex, and Hoshi still kicks out. Ibuki then hits a rolling elbow, and a modified La Magistral for a near fall, but Kurumi puts a stop to her with a HUGE lariat.

Hiragi Kurumi wins finally after a big splash from the top rope. Amazing finish to a decent match.

7/10

Match #3: Akane Fujita & Ram Kaicho vs. Asahi & Suzu Suzuki

This match was fun and quite different from the other matches on the card so far. For one, it was filled with characters, and the way they all interacted was pretty funny. But this isn’t a comedy match. It was just an entertaining one that had a few different characters.

For one, let me talk about Ram Kaicho. She wrestles for the Japanese indie promotion, Pro-Wrestling of Darkness 666, and she seems to have quite a following. I hear strange things about that promotion from time to time, but I don’t follow it, and I don’t really know a ton about it, but it seems like a strange place to wrestle.

Anyway, Ram is old school. She started working in 2005 and she was then known as the youngest wrestler in Japan. She had a match with Riho before retiring in 2009. She stayed away from wrestling until she came back in 2016 after Kana left the 666 promotion to wrestle as Asuka in the states. She returned to Ice Ribbon for the SKIP show, and I thought she was pretty good. She also does a lot of Okada-isms, like doing his Rainmaker and she also had two dollar guns that she used to shower herself during her entrance.

Asahi and Suzuki are partners but don’t get along. At all. Fujita is the most normal person in this match.

Asahi seems decent but the first part of this match she seemed to botch everything. By the end she was good, so I don’t know if it was a timing thing or just needing to warm up, but the first part of this match and the end were like night and day. Another thing that was strange was that Giulia and Hara on commentary kept making fun of some of the cries from the women. I mean, I understand it is kind of funny, but don’t point it out. It just takes away from the match that is going on.

But again, it wasn’t that bad. Suzuki does a Matrix dodge to avoid an elbow and Akane starts trying to attack her, but after a bit of maneuvering, she is able to get a tag to Asahi, and she comes in looking amazing. She hits a series of dropkicks and then the 619, but this time she gets Fujita in the back of the head with it. Ram has to pull her hair when she hits the side of the ropes to stop her, and Akane takes advantage. She is able to finally hit a Michinoku Driver after a little bit of more insane exchanges for the win. There were some impressive spots, even with the slow start and the botches from Asahi.

Ram actually hugs Akane Fujita and they bow to one another, and it comes across really touching. Akanr goes to help up Asahi, but when she goes to Suzuki, she mocks her, and Suzuki mocks her back. Once Fujita and Ram leave Suzu and Asahi begin to fight again.

6/10

Match #4: Rina Yamashita vs. Tsukushi

Prepare to be blown away with this one. Holy crap was this one really good. This is essentially a small woman vs. big woman match, and it is done in a way that was so intense and emotional. Tsukushi really did a great job of showing fire and being aggressive. Rina did well too, as she has a great offense and sold really well for Tsukushi when need be.

It starts out with Rina asking for a handshake to start things off, but Tsukushi goes for a kick that Yamashita catches. Yamashita then pats Tsukushi on the head in a very condescending manner, and this sets Tsukushi off, giving newfound energy that she keeps through the entire match. After the pat, she stomps on Rina’s foot and then poses in front of her.

Then, Yamashita knocks down Tsukushi and she does a kip-up. Rina says she can do that, and when she tries to do it, she can’t, which is pretty funny.

This part of the match kind of sucks because they start brawling in the crowd, and this show only had one hard camera, and that was it. You miss a lot right here. They do a lap around the ring and Tsukushi hits Yamashita with a clothesline. Yamashita goes for a running forearm, but the smaller of the two ducks this one and hits her with her own forearm.

They get back in the ring and they are still going at it. Tsukushi does a low dropkick while Yamashita is sitting against the bottom rope, very similar to the way that Sareee does her dropkick. Then she tries a crossbody but Rina catches her and slams her down.

The rest is so hard-hitting. They exchange forearms, and at first, Tsukushi looks dead, as each forearm rocks her so hard she flies. But then she starts hitting Rina as hard as she can, sending her down to the mat. Rina comes back with two REALLY big lariats. Tsukushi is able to get an amazing German suplex and then a dropkick in, but the bell sounds, and this one is a draw. Tsukushi doesn’t hear it and goes for a Dragon Suplex, but the ref has already called it. The young girls come in and tend to the workers, and this match turned out spectacular.

8/10

Match #5: (TRIANGLE RIBBON TITLE MATCH) Hamuko Hoshi vs. Miyako Matsumoto vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto (c)

This match is for a title in Ice Ribbon that can only be defended in triple threat matches. It is one fall to a finish, and not elimination, so the champion can lose their title without being pinned or submitted. Hamuko Hoshi has been around for a while, as I remember seeing her about 10 years ago. She has wrestled for Ice Ribbon for her entire career. The same can be said for Matsumoto and Fujimoto, and these girls have held a lot of championships between the three of them. This looks like a really great match on paper, and it delivers.

Miyako takes all of the heat at first. The two others double team her until they turn on one another, and when that happens, Matsumoto is able to get a Camel Clutch and Boston Crab on both of the women at the same time. I love triple threat spots like that.

There is a lot going on after the heat in the early part of the match. Matsumoto goes for broke most of the time, looking completely different from where she was before, and that really comes across impressive. They keep hitting different triple threat spots too, and I appreciate that over waiting for someone to roll out and then switching out with the other person. This one came across unique in some ways due to that.

Fujimoto and Matsumoto team up for a Shining Wizard and Enziguiri combo, but they can’t put Hoshi away. Matsumoto even pushes Tsukasa so she can get the pin, but Hoshi isn’t done yet.

Hamuko gets clocked with a kick from the top by Fujimoto and then she and Miyako begin to exchange pins back and forth. Finally, after a couple of near falls, Miyako Matsumoto gets the pin, and she wins the TRIANGLE TITLE! What a match!

Afterward, we have a bit of a surprise. Hoshi and Fujimoto begin talking on the mic, and they point out that there are no seconds or young girls on Miyako’s side of the ring. Then, they pull out a paper and some flowers. They present the flowers and they also read off the paper. Matsumoto starts getting teary-eyed and it is pretty touching, even though I don’t really know what is going on. Miyako Matsumoto speaks before they all pose with the new champion, and her flowers and kind words. Great job.

7/10

Match #6: (INTERNATIONAL RIBBON TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH) Azure Revolution (Maya Yukihi & Risa Sera) (c) vs. Giulia & Tequila Saya

The two teams have matching gear, and Saya and Giulia have matching light-up jackets during their entrance. This match had me very excited, as I loved the previous match that I saw featuring Maya and Tequila.

The crowd had a buzz going through it for the entire first part of the match. Giulia especially looks really strong in this bout. Her punches looked amazing, and she sells exceptionally well. I would have to say that all the performers looked really strong in this match, but she stuck out.

This is the best match on the card. The two teams both use really cool double team moves, and they both come off like they have good chemistry. Sera and Yukihi hit this move where Sera drops double knees on Saya’s chest while Yuhiki drops a knee on her face. I have never seen that before.

Yukihi takes a lot of heat after the midway point of the match. Giulia hits a missile dropkick and Saya hits a moonsault press. Saya then goes for another move, but Sera comes in and dumps Giulia. Azure then hit a pop up, high kick that connects with Saya’s face. It looked amazing.

Giulia comes back in and Azure then hits stereo side slams, but Saya kicks out again. Maya is legal, and so is Tequila. Saya rolls up Maya with a La Magistral, Giulia dumps Sera, but it’s a near fall. This match keeps getting better. Giulia hits a hammerlock power slam, and Saya hits the most perfect moonsault imaginable, but Sera saves.

Giulia dumps Sera one more time. Saya and Giulia hit a double team, double under hook facebuster. Giulia makes sure Risa Sera is still taken care of while Tequila Saya hits her Tequila Shot for the victory, and we have a TITLE CHANGE! Lord, that was such an amazing match.

This is an absolute MUST SEE match. Do everything you can to see it. The new champions thank the old ones during their promo, and that is the end of the show.

9/10

FINAL SCORE: 7/10 (6.8)

This is an amazing promotion with amazing talent. If you have a chance to see a show by them, do not pass up that opportunity. Do not sleep on Joshi wrestling right now. Since I have started watching more over the past couple weeks, I have always found myself impressed. You will be too.