Toyota & Yoshida vs Kansai & Akino, Oz Academy 1/10/05. Hey look, it's joshi puroresu that isn't from 1993! The first half is decent action, but the second half is where things really get good. Akino was possibly the most gifted joshi wrestler to debut after the late 80s/early 90s crew, and she gets a chance to show that she belongs with the other three.
Liger & Delfin vs Ebessan & Kamen, 1/10/05. A comedy dream team versus an actual dream team.
Florida Brothers vs Arai, Dragon Gate 1/14/05. Ring entrance battle! Dissent in the Florida family! A brutal and unique finish!
Mochizuki & Doi vs Magnum Tokyo & Dragon Kid, Dragon Gate, 1/14/05. Doi had bounced along as perhaps the least-important person on the roster. This match would change that forever. 109 MB.
Milano Collection AT vs Ryo Saito, #1 contenders match, Dragon Gate 1/14/05. Building off their bout from 11/13/01, we have Saito trying to break the glass ceiling and Milano trying to keep his spot. This is my favorite singles match for both of them. Milano working the arm is quality, as is the extended Saito comeback. Satisfying finish.
Kojima, Ebessan & Miracle Man vs Delfin, Kamen & Perro, Osaka Pro 1/30/05. Kojima does the comedy! Perro does the fighting spirit of an indy nobody going head-on with a heavyweight superstar!
Kawada vs Kojima, Triple Crown, 2/16/05. Hugely important match that was built to for months and months. Kojima, having gone through a slump in '03, put together a winning streak in '04 and is finally in a position to reach the next phase of his career. However, Kawada is at a career peak himself, having held the TC for almost a year and a half. As for the match itself, it's a Kawada carry-job, and one of the last few times where Kawada gave it his all in the ring.
Sekimoto vs Ishii, BJPW 2/22/05. A straightforward battle between a pair of short-but-thick muscleheads. Drags at times but it does pick up for the finish.
Blood Generation vs M2K, Dragon Gate, 2/23/05. Stemming from the big angle at the January Korakuen show.
Danshoku Dino, Muscle Sakai & YOSHIHIKO vs Poison Sawada JULIE, Inokuma & Akiomi Nitta, DDT 2/25/05. This is roughly 900% DDT. Features confusing pre-match video and a post-match face turn. YOSHIHIKO is a peerless highspot machine and steals the show. Nitta is a legit kickboxer who beat Murahama in a shoot two days earlier, and is the winner of my unofficial Most Abs Humanly Possible Award. 245 MB.
Jado & Gedo vs Kanemoto & Inoue, IWGP junior tag titles, NJ 3/4/05. Jado and Gedo seem to have two gears: boring and MOTYC. Here, they turn the heeling up to 11 and put in a ton of effort when they have control. Add in a strong layout, attention to detail, big nearfalls and the heat one would expect from Korakuen and you've got something special.
CIMA, Doi & Shingo Takagi vs Ryo Saito, Horiguchi & Dragon Kid, trios titles, Dragon Gate 3/6/05, JIP. This is a 2/3 falls match, and we pick things up in the second fall. The home stretch is HOT HOT HOT and the finish is really satisfying.
Nakamura & Tanahashi vs Norton & Nakanishi, tag titles, NJ 3/13/05. Shockingly great outing from the powerhouses, and the best Norton has looked in the decade. A highlight from a weak year for the company.
Togo, Moribe & Hayate vs AKINO, Nagashima & Hamada, Chigusa Pro 3/25/05. A men vs women match that they pull off quite well considering that it isn't exactly joshi's biggest in there.
Aja Kong vs Danshoku Dino, Chigusa Pro 3/25/05. A match that you can't wrap your brain around coming in, and can't help but be curious about.
Fujiwara & Yoshida vs Ishikawa & Carlos Amano, Chigusa Pro 3/25/05. Intergender shoot-style goodness! Ishikawa is a pervert and he pays the price! Fujiwara > you!
Spanky vs Alex Shelley, Zero-One 3/25/05. Super-duper fast.
Hidaka & Minoru Fujita vs Spanky & Shelley, Zero-One 3/27/05. The Hidaka/Shelley matchup is AMAZING here.
Magnum Tokyo, Naoki Tanisaki & X vs BB Hulk, Mori & Shisa, Dragon Gate, 4/8/05. It's all about who X is and who he's up against.
Saito, Horiguchi & Dragon Kid vs Yokosuka, K-Ness & Nakajima, trios titles, Dragon Gate 4/8/05. One of these things is not like the other, and that's what ultimately makes this match work. Nakajima, a fiery strike-based phenom, adds an element that the straightforward lucharesu of the other five lacks. The match gets somewhat flabby in the middle, but the last third is every bit of the sprinty goodness one looks for from Dragon Gate.
Nagata vs Tanahashi, New Japan Cup, NJ 4/19/05. After losing the IWGP title, Nagata fell into a bit of a funk. In this match we see the birth of a spark, one which would prove vital to his later resurgence.
Ishikawa vs Ikeda, Futen 4/24/05. I don't care if you have no idea who they are, watch this match. If you know who they are, I don't have to tell you to.
Hido, T. Sasaki & Kasai vs Ito, Sekimoto & Numazawa, light tube DM, Big Japan 4/29/05. You can tell this is early in the style based on the heat and reactions for the opening spots. Based on the match length, one of the 'opening spots' is so freaking insane that only Jun Kasai would be party to it. Meanwhile, I don't think you can blame Sekimoto for leaving the DM scene in '06. I would not want broken glass anywhere near my junk, thank you very much. Ito's "nice assist" is a really nifty idea even if they don't totally pull it off, and it sets up a hot ending run.
Dino, Inokuma & Sakai vs JULIE, Shuji Ishikawa & Inotama, Captains Fall, DDT 5/4/05. Some clipping. Follow-up on the February match, as Inokuma tries to make good and everyone tries to take down the mind-controlling snake man.
The Magician vs Naoshi Sano, MUSCLE 5/5/05. The finish of this match makes the burning hammer look like a bodyslam.
Nakajima vs Namiguchi, Differ Cup 5/8/05. Ideally this would go 8-12 minutes and they'd be able to keep the pace up, but then if it was a huge sprint with a big finish they wouldn't have anything left for the rematches. They do pretty well considering that there's less than three years of experience between them. Nakajima, despite being a mere 17 years old, is the big favorite because of all the attention he's gotten. He controls most of the way, but Namiguchi's fighting spirit is roused for several intense minutes at the end. They're able to get heat at Differ Ariake for cryin' out loud! That's a frigging miracle for young lions.
Mochizuki vs Fujii, Open the Dream Gate title, Dragon Gate 5/11/05. Fujii is great as the underdog powerhouse challenger. Really simple, really fun match. 136 MB.
Minoru Suzuki vs Otsuka, NJ 5/14/05. Really enjoyable, quick match.
Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue vs Minoru Tanaka & Hirooki Goto, junior tag titles, NJ 5/14/05. Goto had just won the young lions tournament and now he has a shot at gold in his first Tokyo Dome match. Is he up to the task? 180 MB.
May of 2005 was just not Naoshi Sano's month.
Kasai vs Numazawa, razor board (and other things) DM, Big Japan 6/8/05. Not for the faint of heart. These two are out of their minds.
Ohtani, Tanaka & Sakoda vs Sato, Yokoi & Y. Sasaki, Zero-One 6/17/05. Veterans versus young guns. Fast pace, big moves, intergenerational grudge, this is pretty good!
CIMA, Fujii & Doi vs Ryo Saito, Dragon Kid & Horiguchi, trios titles, Dragon Gate 7/3/05. Prelude to the famous ROH tag with 5 of these 6 in it, and one of the very very best matches that the Toryumon/DG crew ever produced.
Nakajima vs Namiguchi, Zero-One 7/31/05. The first match was good. This one has a faster pace, a hotter crowd, and a better finish; I think you can guess as to whether or not this is also good. Can Namiguchi secure the Dream Catch, or will he get his head kicked off?
Sasaki, Nakajima & Fudo vs Ohtani, Takaiwa & Y. Sasaki, Zero-One 8/2/05. Good pace, good action, and it ends when it should. My only real beef is two no-sell spots, but it isn't enough to spoil the match.
Akiyama vs Shibata, Wrestle-1 8/4/05. This promotion was an ill-fated attempt by K-1 to do wrestling. They blew a ton of money and closed down after the second show. Thankfully they managed to give us this scrappy, hate-filled match. 120 MB.
Hidaka, Fujita & Nakajima vs Takaiwa, Murahama & Namiguchi, Zero-One 8/7/05. The highlight, of course, is the Nakajima vs Namuguchi content. But it's also interesting to see how they do with the veterans, especially Nakajima putting tough-guy Takaiwa on his butt and going against similarly-styled Murahama. A couple really big nearfalls in the last minute.
Nakanishi vs Yoshie, NJ G-1 Climax '05. The irresistable force versus the immovable object, a tried and true wrestling formula. No really, this is good! 165 MB.
Nakamura vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax '05. Better believe there's some quality here. 191 MB.
Kawada vs Suzuki, NJ G-1 Climax 2005. It's a contest to see who the bigger bastard is. The winner is all of us. Not sure how I overlooked this at the time, it's immensely enjoyable.
Nakanishi vs Tanahashi, G-1 '05, NJ 8/13/05. Maybe I'm biased from having seen it live (my birthday no less) but I think this is a solid underdog vs powerhouse match.
Choshu vs Shibata, Riki Pro 8/14/05. Shibata has left New Japan. He's out to show up the old man. SPOILER: there is at least one lariat in this match.
Hirooki Goto vs Anzawa, NJ 8/14/05. Anzawa, who sadly retired in '06 (I'm guessing due to pay cuts), was quite promising. Goto was also promising, but then you already know that. HOT YOUNG LION ON YOUNG LION ACTION! Wait that came out wrong...
Kawada vs Kaz Fujita, G-1 '05 semifinal, NJ 8/14/05. Short, intense battle that a few years earlier would have sold out a big building by itself. I was wearing my Kawada shirt and being a raving mark the whole time because it's KAWADA and screw Fujita and his Inoki-ism.
Nagata, Nakanishi & Kashin vs Tenzan, Tanahashi & Yoshie, NJ 8/14/05.
Chono vs Fujita, G-1 '05 final, NJ 8/14/05. Fujita won the IWGP title a month earlier and said he did it for the memory of the recently departed Hashimoto. Chono, undaunted by Fujita's streak of dominant victories, represents the actual spirit of Hashimoto. Simple, ultra-hot match.
Chono vs Fujita, G-1 '05 final, NJ 8/14/05. Match-only upgrade.
Antonio Honda's "Cuban Deathmatch" promo, DDT 8/28/05. Bad language makes for a great promo.
Florida Brothers vs Horiguchi & Tanisaki, Dragon Gate 9/7/05. AAAAAH! YAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAH!
Magnum Tokyo, Nakajima, Kness & Arai vs BB Hulk, Shisa, Asahi & Oishi, Dragon Gate 9/7/05. Oishi (whose name means 'delicious') and Asahi, a Kaientai Dojo tandem, are randomly inserted with stablemates Hulk and Shisa against a motley incarnation of M2K. I previously described this as a 'sprint', but that was incorrect, as even with 8 people that would be tough given the length. There's a running theme of Oishi/Asahi trying to prove themselves against Tokyo, and the last third is reasonably sprinty.
Yoshino, Doi & Fujii vs Saito, Mori & Dragon Kid, Dragon Gate 9/7/05. Yoshino betrayed Mori by turning heel. There was a quick singles match between them that ended in a mess, so an impromptu 6-man was set up. Doi and Dragon Kid have a lightweight title match in four days so they have an issue as well. The heel team is really effective thanks to a mix of teamwork, counters, viciousness and cheating. Can our under-sized (even by DG standards) heroes overcome the odds?
Mochizuki, Yokosuka & Taka Michinoku vs CIMA, Magnitude & Shingo, Dragon Gate 9/7/05. Rather than just a '6-man dream match' style with lots of trademarks and no substance, this centers around Shingo trying to hang with lucharesu headliners and CIMA pressuring him to do better. This has been totally slept on. 187 MB.
Kondo, Yasshi & Sugawara vs Hidaka, Fujita & Ishimori, Dragondoor 9/9/05. Dragondoor centers around Ultimo Dragon students not working for Ultimo or Dragon Gate. It was backed by mighty Livedoor, which promptly suffered a huge scandal and thus couldn't give them any more money, causing them to become just another indy. But at least they got the first few shows off the ground, featuring a fast-paced main event.
Ishii vs H. Ito, Big Mouth Loud 9/11/05. Ishii is Choshu's boy. Ito is a shoot-stylist. Both know how to go balls-to-the-wall when it counts. You've gotta trust me on this one.
Ishikawa vs Otsuka, Big Mouth Loud 9/11/05. One word: headbutts.
Hidaka, Fujita & KENTA vs Sakata, Takaiwa & Tiger Emperor (Kotaro Suzuki), Zero-One 9/19/05. Good clean juniors fun, with some hate mixed in.
Ohtani vs Namiguchi, Zero-One 9/29/05. Namiguchi is Ohtani's boy. Which means Ohtani is legally obligated to destroy him.
Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue vs Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki, New Japan 10/8/05. Takaiwa in his first New Japan match in years would seem to be the story here, but no, the highlight is Yoshihito Sasaki being fiiiired up and showing what he's got at Tokyo Dome. Sasaki won Zero-One's junior tournament earlier in the year and beat Takaiwa in the semis, so he's no slouch. Kanemoto and Wataru are more experienced as a team however. Fast-paced, hard-hitting, chippy, and it makes you want to see Kanemoto vs Sasaki from two days later.
Kanemoto vs Y. Sasaki, Z-1 10/10/05. Kanemoto hates Yoshihito and Zero-One SO MUCH that he has a hard time expressing it. But he does his best.
Kojima vs Giant Bernard, Triple Crown, All Japan 10/18/05. Prince Albert in a Triple Crown match? Not only that but he's better than Kojima?!
The Road to HUSTLEMANIA. Again... just trust me. 187 MB.
Hirooki Goto vs Naofumi Yamamoto, NJ 10/30/05. "Before they were famous". Goto was a rising star, though his big push came two years later once he'd bulked up. Yamamoto at this point was a disappointment, and he never actually did much before joining WWE. I'd love to know if Yoshi Tatsu, WWE undercard wrestler, made more than Hirooki Goto, New Japan headliner. This is very much a "young lions" match, but with better execution and MUCH better crowd heat than usual. Goto won the last 4 matches between them, stretching back a year and a half. Can Yamamoto defend his pride, or will he end up on his back as usual?
Naoya Ogawa, Ohtani & HG vs Kawada, Anjoh & Yinling, HUSTLEMANIA '05. HG... can wrestle? I'm impressed but Kawada isn't.
Sekimoto vs Kobayashi, light tube DM for #1 contendership, Big Japan 11/22/05. Bloody, violent, and yet somehow focused. Not for all but loved by many.
Hidaka & Fujita vs Ohtani & Tanaka, NWA IC tag titles, Zero-One 11/23/05. Some clipping. Emblem has been the company's top team since the end of OH-Gun. Hidaka and Fujita have been tearing it up, and since they're big-time underdogs as junior heavies the crowd is behind them 100%. The dynamic of Emblem as bruising heavyweight powerhouses is so different from the norm for them, but it works. They don't discard their athleticism yet are definitely bullies here. The last third is hot in part because even mid-range offense from Ohtani and Tanaka is a threat to end things.
Y. Sasaki & Little Dragon vs Sugawara & Gamma, Dragondoor 11/24/05. I dunno, it's good. Little Dragon is the highspot machine of a thousand gimmicks who is better known as Yoshitune, or El Blazer, or... well most anything besides Little Dragon.
Tigers Mask, Shanao, PSYCHO & Kota vs Kagetora, Oishi, Asahi & Kishi, Indy Summit 12/9/05. Interesting to think of how Ibushi is the 'weakest' wrestler on his team because of his youth, but would go on to become a bigger star than the rest of the guys in this match combined. Shanao is one of the million forms of Takuya Sugi, and thus has both the coolest spots and biggest botches. Tigers Mask is just too much pre-match, don't skip it! I love how much of a nerd the one Samurai announcer is, referencing the Snuka double-leapfrog even though Snuka hadn't been a regular in Japan since the '80s. "It takes one to know one, Ditch!", you say? Well... yes. Yes it does. Coming in I figured Kishi was the obvious job guy, but he's NOT, and the finish is INSANE.
Nishimura vs Hiro Saito, NJ 12/11/05. Some clipping. I just love this matchup.
Liger vs Minoru Tanaka, NJ 12/11/05. These two have had more famous matches, but this is my favorite. Really feels like a big match even without a title or tournament at stake.
Ito vs Kobayashi, light tube DM, BJPW DM title, Big Japan 12/21/05. Builds very nicely off their 2003 match and Kobayashi vs Sekimoto. Abby Jr > you.
Ishimori, Namiguchi & Ibushi vs Takaiwa, Kotaro Suzuki & Ricky Marvin, Zero-One 12/23/05. Slightly clipped. Plenty of highspots, and the last third of the match is exactly the sort of sprint one looks for in a juniors 6-man. Looking back, Ibushi definitely impressed a lot of people as a rookie; it's no wonder he ended up breaking out as a star.
Kawada vs Ishikari, HUSTLE 12/25/05. Not a very merry Christmas for Ishikari.
Nakamura vs Yamamoto, NJ 12/25/05. Starting in 2000, New Japan ended the year with a show titled DREAM*WIN, with a veterans vs rookies theme. 2005 marked the end of DREAM*WIN and it went out with better bouts than the previous years. In theory this match doesn't fit the theme; Yamamoto is three years older and debuted just two months later. By virtue of Nakamura having a very productive first year he matured to the point where he was the establishment that young lion Yamamoto seeks to usurp. What makes this better than the output of previous events is the intensity and style, specifically the use of strikes rather than just polite matwork and simple rookie spots. Yamamoto shows fire but takes some real punishment in return, and the crowd pops HUGE for his offense. It is such a shame Yamamoto went to WWE just as he hit his stride as a worker.
Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto, U-30 title, NJ 12/25/05. Tiny pre-heavyweight-bulk Goto is out of his league with Tanahashi but gives it his all regardless. Hirooki smacking Tanahashi around is really fun and somewhat shows up Tanahashi for not properly giving it back. The finish is cool and I wonder why it was a one-off. Fascinating to watch in context of what they did two years later.
Interpromotional chickenfight-style sumo tournament. This one's unique and very entertaining even if K-1 completely cheats by using masked musclemen. 86 MB.
Strong & Evans vs Horiguchi & Tanisaki, Dragon Gate 12/26/05. Mostly an exhibition of Gen Next's killer double-teams.
Shingo Takagi vs BB Hulk, Dragon Gate 12/26/05. DG's top students tear the house down. I was stunned by how good this is.
Minoru Tanaka & Tiger Mask 4 vs Takaiwa & Ishii, NJ 1/4/06. JIP. Amazingly it's the musclebound head-drop kings who take the nastiest neck bumps.
Shibata vs Tanahashi, NJ 1/4/06. Shibata has abandoned the company, and returns as an outsider. An outsider who likes to kick really hard. 95 MB.
Mochizuki & Magnum Tokyo vs Fujii & Shingo, Dragon Gate 1/27/06. Magnum had a degree of say in the booking and went through a phase of being more interested in stiffness than fashion. All of these four are fully capable of taking a beating and giving one right back, especially with TENRYU~ watching intently. No compelling story or structure, but plenty of action and a hot finish.
Nagata & Tanahashi vs Nakamura & Yamamoto, NJ 2/4/06, slightly clipped. It's all about the Yamamoto. He seeks to send a message to Tanahashi a week before their match for the U-30 title. In reality the matchup YOU want to watch is Nagata/Yamamoto, because Nagata has no problems blasting Yamamoto real real hard. The crowd kinda sucks because they're in northern Sapporo during the winter. Hey, they can't all be Korakuen.
Sasaki & Kobashi vs Tenryu & Nakajima, Kensuke Office 2/11/06. Chopping! Hardway blood! A ridiculous lariat finish! Did I mention chopping! All this and more.
Tanahashi vs Yamamoto, U-30 title, NJ 2/12/06. The final match for this title. Is Yamamoto ready for the big-time? The Gifu crowd eventually gets behind NaoYama, and I have to say there's a certain satisfaction to be had whenever he gets the upper-hand. Strong closing run.
Shingo vs Katsuo, Dragon Gate 2/24/06. A fun squash that I posted primarily because of the finish.
CIMA & Fujii vs Mochizuki & Yokosuka, Dragon Gate 2/24/06. Look at the names, decide if you wanna see it based on that. 123 MB.
Magnitude Kishiwada vs Ryo Saito, Dream Gate title, Dragon Gate 2/24/06. Saito earned the shot by winning the first King Of Gate tournament with a new dragon suplex variant. Kishiwada, meanwhile, has rampaged through the company despite a shoulder injury. Second half is bomb-heavy, perhaps overly so as per DG tradition, but the finish is really satisfying.
Nagata & Yamamoto vs Iizuka & Ishii, NJ 3/4/06. Nagata and Ishii hate each other or something. My goodness.
Sasaki & Nakajima vs Mutoh & Yoshie, All Japan 3/5/06. It's a pink invasion! Can the Kensuke Office team handle this rather large test?
Sasaki & Brute Issei vs Yoshie & Arashi, All Japan 3/10/06. Lot of beef in this one.
Tenryu vs Sakata, HUSTLE 3/12/06. Sakata handles himself quite well in this chopfest.
Mochizuki, Yokosuka & Kanda vs CIMA, Fujii & Shingo, Dragon Gate 3/17/06. Kanda, who had been out for years with a neck injury, returns with a vengeance.
Colt Cabana vs Kamikaze, Zero-One 3/21/06. A fun, British-influenced technical/comedy match. Kamikaze is one of a very, very small number of Japanese wrestlers with the ability to do it.
Ohtani, Tanaka & Takaiwa vs Sekimoto, Sato & Y. Sasaki, Zero-One 3/28/06. Intergenerational warfare! Big moves! Additional big moves!
Kobayashi vs Takashi Sasaki, DM title, Big Japan 3/31/06. Likely the best DM in the history of BJPW.
Takashi Sasaki, Ito & Masada vs Kobayashi, Sekimoto & Numazawa, tubes DM, Big Japan 4/1/06. Sasaki and Abby tangle just a day after their war at Korakuen. Sasaki sports a bandage, which is the last thing you want coming into a match like this. The six of them keep the pace up, and we get a sense of who the next DM title challenger will be when it's all said and done.
Sekimoto vs Kamikaze, Zero-One 4/13/06. Sekimoto is a 'straight' Big Japan wrestler starting to make a mark in Zero-One, while Kamikaze was formerly the top 'straight' wrestler in Big Japan, so that's an interesting contrast. More interesting is Kamikaze busting out really great counter-wrestling to balance out Sekimoto's brute strength. 100 MB.
Minoru Suzuki vs Nakajima, 4/15/06. Suzuki is known for 'teaching' young lions by stretching and smacking them. Has Nakajima progressed beyond such treatment?
Nagata vs Ishii, NJ 4/16/06. Nagata and Ishii continue to hate each other.
HUSTLE 16 main event, JIP. This is a 'team elimination' series of singles matches. Featuring: Kawada! Ohtani! Tajiri! HG! Anjoh! Yinling! 222 MB.
Tajiri, fastest tongue in the east.
Hidaka & Manami Toyota vs Minoru Fujita & Maemura, Zero-One 4/27/06. A concept show based on intergender teams from the same locality. What makes this match is the way Manami is 100% credible as a peer to Hidaka and Fujita despite being significantly outweighed.
Nagata vs Tanahashi, New Japan Cup, NJ 4/29/06. These two just match up so well. 140 MB.
Nagata vs Giant Bernard, New Japan Cup final, NJ 4/30/06. The artist formerly known as A-Train busts out a killer performance, combining brute force with smart selling. One of Japan's best bouts of 2006, BELIEVE IT!
Sasaki & Nakajima vs Sekimoto & Kakimoto, Big Japan 5/5/06. Kakimoto is a relative youngster from DDT with a power/suplex focus. Sekimoto is the powerhouse of the indy scene for this decade. They go all-out to try and pull off a gigantic upset against the Kensuke Office duo.
Tozawa & Iwasa vs Mori & Shisa, Dragon Gate 5/10/06. Tozawa-juku landed... and the world was never the same.
Kobayashi & Ozaki vs Y. Miyamoto & Kyoko Kimura, light tube DM, Big Japan 6/4/06. Intergender, but more importantly it's hardcore veterans versus cubs. The Kimura/Kobayashi matchup is my favorite.
Morishima & Marufuji vs Shibata & Ibushi, Big Mouth Loud 6/18/06. Morishima and Shibata, how can you go wrong?
Tanahashi vs Bernard, NJ 6/18/06. Tanahashi is going on to an IWGP title shot against Lesnar in a month, and this is a 'gaijin monster' test. Of course Lesnar bailed on the company and they just did this match again, but let's ignore that because we have a GREAT big vs small match here. A-Train rolls on to another killer match.
Minoru Tanaka vs Tiger Mask 4, Best of Super Juniors final, NJ 6/18/06. You might notice that there isn't a lot of NJ juniors from this decade on the site. There's a reason. For all the talent in the division, I so rarely get into the matches. This match is not only one that I enjoy, it's one that I *LOVE*. Minoru comes in banged up, TM4 hounds him, Minoru battles back, and then they go into an off-the-charts finishing stretch in front of a molten Korakuen crowd. Best BOSJ final in a very long while, and maybe the best match the division has produced since '97.
Minoru Suzuki vs Mecha Mummy, Ultimo Dragon Promotions 6/23/06. This is pretty much the best match.
Kasai vs Hyoma, barbed wire DM, Big Japan 6/26/06. Kasai is certifiable, but he does let undercarder Hyoma look good. Still... you do question if Kasai is a masochist.
Kanemura, Mammoth Sasaki & Kuroda vs Sekimoto, K. Inoue & H. Kondo, Big Japan 6/26/06. Welcome to the first in a series of tags involving these wrestlers. Kanemura is a hardcore icon, Kuroda is less iconic but certainly established, Mammoth is a crafty powerhouse, Sekimoto is brute force, and Inoue and Kondo are out of their league but fight like crazy to be competitive. Lots of classic puro 6-man elements at work to make this quality.
T. Sasaki vs Numazawa, DM title, Big Japan 6/26/06. Numazawa's career match, and a strong follow-up to the March title bout.
Tozawa & Mori vs Arai & Kness, Dragon Gate 7/2/06. Tozawa will never say die! Neverrrrrrr! 120 MB.
Satomura vs Aja Kong, Sendai 7/9/06. Best joshi match in a looooooong time. 195 MB.
Kawada & The Monster C vs Tajiri & Kanemura, Hustle House 17. A fun match thanks to crowd interaction. Also, allow me to relay the following from Steve Corino's livejournal:
Since I last wrote I was getting prepared to team with Toshiaki Kawada at Hustle. This for me was a thrill. For him it must have been an annoyance! As his music came on I told him "I am very honored to team with you. I am very happy." Kawada, being Kawada, just stared at me. Then I had to ask (because I had a feeling I knew the answer) "Are you excited?" and he just looks and says "NO". That's my buddy!
T. Sasaki & Ito vs Numazawa & Kasai, DM, Big Japan 7/14/06. Bloody fun - literally.
Nishimura vs Hiro Saito, MUGA 8/2/06. Saito is a low-end brawler who was generally placed early on cards, but for reasons nobody can quite explain he transforms into a great wrestler against Nishimura. Technically sound, enjoyable, it's everything MUGA aims at.
Nagata vs Yamamoto, NJ G-1 Climax 8/6/06. Yamamoto uses stiff kicks and a backdrop suplex. He does not use either to the same effect as Nagata. Yamamoto knows this but will go full speed ahead regardless because this is the biggest chance of his life.
Nagata vs Kanemoto, NJ G-1 Climax 8/12/06. Nagata advances to the semis with a win; Kanemoto advances with a win or draw. Crowd is totally behind Kanemoto, who is lucky to even be in the tournament. Second best match I've seen live.
Kojima vs Kanemoto, NJ G-1 Climax '06 semifinal. Outsider versus loyal underdog junior equals full crowd support for Kanemoto.
Tenzan vs Bernard, NJ G-1 Climax '06 semi-final. A gaijin hasn't made the G-1 final since Rick Rude in '92. Bernard has all the tools he needs to put Tenzan away many times over, while Tenzan is hard-pressed to find a way to win. Will size triumph, or will Tenzan get a chance to cement his status as the new Mr. G-1?
Tenzan vs Kojima, NJ G-1 Climax '06 final. Former partners collide in their biggest and best battle!
Mammoth Sasaki & Kuroda vs Sekimoto & K. Inoue, Big Japan 8/18/06. Another matchup that can't help but work.
Kea vs Kawada, Triple Crown, All Japan 8/27/06. Kea has been somewhat of a disappointment, but he manages to get a really good performance out of Kawada. My favorite TC match since Kawada/Hashimoto.
Masato Tanaka & Kuroda vs Sekimoto & Y. Sasaki, Big Japan 9/10/06. It's allllll about Tanaka and Sekimoto dishing out everything they can at one another.
Kojima vs Kondo, All Japan 9/17/06. Kondo, the junior powerhouse, is arguably the top junior in the country. Kojima is coming off a killer run during the G-1 Climax. How far will Kondo's strength take him?
Fujinami vs Nishimura, 2/3 falls, MUGA 9/25/06. You might have noticed a lack of recent Fujinami. There's a reason: he didn't have much in the way of great matches after being injured in the early '90s. This, however, is great. Teacher and student go at it in a wondeful old-school technical battle. Best match of this kind in Japan in a very long time. 250 MB.
Takayama & Minoru Suzuki vs Nagata & Yamamoto, NJ 10/9/06. Yamamoto get a big chance at Sumo Hall! Takayama and Suzuki have no regard for young lions! Nagata is Nagata! 81 MB.
T. Sasaki, Numazawa & Badboy Hido vs Kasai, Teioh & Inematsu, Big Japan 10/13/06. Additional DM-y goodness!
Tenzan & Makabe vs Tanahashi & Nagata, NJ 10/15/06. The top two of heel stable GBH versus the top two of NJ's regular army. Really good tag match that's helped by a clearer face/heel distinction than you normally get in Japan. 175 MB.
Ishii vs Yamamoto, NJ 11/6/06. Not a heck of a lot held back here. Not very often that the second match on the card is such a war.
Minoru Suzuki vs Fuuka, "triple crown", NOSAWA Genome 11/8/06. Suzuki, as 2006 Puro MVP, was most reliably effective in comedy matches. Featuring special guest Kakimoto, who is Fuuka's brother. 92 MB.
American Balloon vs Antonio Honda, DDT 11/23/06. Behold the wonder and majesty of the American Balloon.
The Esperanza vs HG, Hustlemania '06. An epic battle for the ages. 105 MB.
Some set-up for the match.
T. Sasaki, Kobayashi & Badboy Hido vs Kasai, Numazawa & Teioh, Big Japan 11/27/06. A DM that includes quite a bit of storytelling. Trust me here!
Satomura vs Kyoko Kimura, Sendai 12/3/06. Kimura has enough energy to give the battle-hardened Satomura all she can handle.
Tanahashi vs Nakamura, IWGP title, NJ 12/10/06. Nakamura has bulked up and readied himself to become a deserving, long-term ace. Tanahashi looks to overcome his generational rival in decisive fashion. The end result is the best IWGP title match in years. 123 MB.
Tanahashi vs Nakamura, IWGP title, 12/10/06. Upgrade from the clipped TV airing.
Shibata vs Hayato, MPro 12/17/06. Shibata's penultimate pro wrestling match, and it's fitting that he went out by stiffing the crap out of someone who wrestles like he's Shibatacito.
Mochizuki & Ibushi vs Sawa & Hayato, Indy Summit 12/31/06. A bit on the kicky/stiffy side of things.
Chairmen battle royal, Indy Summit 12/31/06. The bookers of IWA Japan, DDT, Big Japan, MPro, Osaka Pro, DDT Tec (???), KDojo and El Dorado face off. Very unique, very indy. Again, TRUST DITCH. 168 MB.
Kaientai Deluxe vs KUDO, Milanito, Nohashi, Oishi & Kishi, Indy Summit 12/31/06. Kaientai reunites after ages apart, to face five youngsters from across the indy scene. 114 MB.
T. Sasaki, Kobayashi, Shadow WX & MASADA vs Kasai, Numazawa, Teioh & Miyamoto, light tube DM, Big Japan 1/2/07. Plenty of big spots, and an interesting spotlight on young Miyamoto who was trying to earn his way into the company. My favorite DM of '07!
Takayama, Sato & Yokoi vs Omori, Ohtani & Murakami, Zero-One 1/19/07. No Fear re-explodes! Hardway blood! Punches to the face! Takayama brings the fire and it forces everyone else to try and match him.
HARASHIMA vs Kakimoto, KOD title, DDT 1/28/07. HARASHIMA is all about striking, Kakimoto is all about throws and slams. A nice contrast in styles, with one spot in particular standing out.
Takayama & Sato vs Omori & Ohtani, Zero-One 2/18/07. Bloody and violent. Takayama loses his mind and destroys everything. EVERYTHING.
Kyoko Kimura vs Toshie Uematsu, BattlArts 2/25/07. These two do a wonderful job of using BattlArts style.
Sawa & Yoshikawa vs Usuda & Fujita Jr, BattlArts 2/25/07. Lots of nasty shots in this one.
Ikeda & Sekimoto vs Ishikawa & Murakami, BattlArts 2/25/07. I wasn't sure how Sekimoto would fit in at BatBat, but he does fine.
T. Sasaki vs Miyamoto, DM title, Big Japan 3/14/07. Guest selection by Curt McGirt. Miyamoto is the young underdog looking to knock off grizzled champ Sasaki, who already has the scars to prove his title-holding capabilities. All of Korakuen is rooting for his fresh-faced opponent. But just how far is Miyamoto willing to go to win? The answer is: FAR. Lightbulb stuff can wear out quick but is used logically here, the bumps are enormous, and the drama is high. And the blood... oh, the blood...
Kawada & Tenryu vs KUSHIDA & Chie, HUSTLE 3/15/07. Now that's a squash.
Mammoth Sasaki & Kuroda vs Sekimoto & K. Inoue, Big Japan 3/25/07. Slowish start, great great finish. 130 MB.
Toba & Ibushi vs Sawa & Yoshikawa, DDT 4/1/07. I found myself saying "ow" a lot during this one. I don't care how worked it is, I wouldn't want to take half those kicks for any amount of money.
10 minute Battle Royal for the DDT Ironman title, DDT 4/1/07. Incoming champion: El Hijo del Ladder. You want this, including the post-match.
Marufuji & Dino vs KUDO & Muscle Sakai, DDT 4/1/07. DDT's 'dream match' becomes a nightmare for Marufuji.
Kikuchi & Taniguchi vs Namiguchi & Takanishi, Zero-One 4/7/07. Kikuchi hates your skull. Yes, YOUR skull. He hates it. He must break it.
Minoru Tanaka vs Taguchi, junior title, New Japan 4/13/07. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm picky about what junior singles matches I host. This is quality right here.
Tanahashi vs Nagata, IWGP title, New Japan 4/13/07. Four years after losing the title, Nagata finally gets a shot. I'd say this manages to top everything in Nagata's long first reign, and it's one of the best IWGP matches of the decade.
Typhoon vs Muscle Outlaw'z, 7 vs 7 elimination match, Dragon Gate 4/17/07. Eventually it becomes a big ol' sprint. 176 MB.
Kawada & Tenryu vs HG & RG, HUSTLE 4/21/07. Before getting famous, HG and RG were part of a 'university club', Japan's less-sketchy equivalent of backyard wrestling. Now they're getting to face icons. Icons who will beat the absolute crap out of them. 136 MB.
Ito vs Kobayashi, BJPW DM title contendership, 4/30/07. Not as good as the first two but still worthwhile for the fan of the light tube DM.
Jado & Gedo vs Taka Michinoku & Dick Togo, junior tag titles, New Japan 5/2/07. Taka & Togo invade! Which veteran junior tandem will hold out?
Nagata vs Koshinaka, IWGP title, New Japan 5/2/07. From the clipped TV airing. Korakuen Hall doesn't get IWGP title matches very often, so they are suuuuper hot. Let alone that Koshinaka is a monumental underdog. The match doesn't quite live up to the crowd, but it's definitely worth seeing, especially with most of the downtime excised.
Kawada... um... I'm not sure how to describe this one.
CIMA, Yokosuka & Saito vs Takagi, BB Hulk & Cyber Kong, trios titles, Dragon Gate 5/10/07. Quite a lot of intergenerational hate early on. Then it proceeds into a really great sprint. 141 MB.
Ishikawa vs Sawa, BattlArts 5/13/07. A teacher vs student fight. Ishikawa beating the tar out of someone is never a bad thing.
Kanemura, Mammoth Sasaki & Kuroda vs Sekimoto, Obata & Hi69, Big Japan 5/20/07. Obata gets absolutely crushed and it's awesome. 159 MB.
Masato Tanaka vs Yoshihito Sasaki, Zero-One 5/27/07. Tanaka returns from a shoulder injury and has gotten ripped, but in the process he also dropped a lot of muscle mass. Will his lean physique be enough to compensate for ring rust and a loss of brute force? Can Sasaki take advantage and get the win of a lifetime?
Kanemura, Kuroda & Hi69 vs Sekimoto, Mammoth Sasaki & K. Inoue, Big Japan 5/28/07. More BJPW 6-man goodness! 156 MB.
Minoru Tanaka vs Taguchi, BOSJ '07, New Japan 6/1/07. Rematch time! Can Taguchi show he's ready for another title shot, or will Minoru prove his dominance?
Hardcore battle royal AND Nozawa vs Muscle Sakai in a Silent Match for the Extreme title, DDT 6/3/07. Double-shot of DDT magic. 166 MB.
Men's Teioh vs Danshoku Dino, DDT 6/3/07. Dino's gimmick was originally a riff on Teioh. Now they do battle.
New Hazard vs Typhoon vs Muscle Outlaw'z, Dragon Gate 6/5/07. The 3-way 3-man tag returns! 185 MB.
Ito & Kobayashi vs Numajiro & Nohashi, light tube DM, MPro 6/16/07. Light tubes in Michinoku?! The MPro duo adds a lot of new stuff to the usual Big Japan formula and it's a lot of fun.
Norton vs Sakata, HUSTLE 6/17/07. Chops galore, and Norton makes Sakata look great. 82 MB.
Muta & RG vs Tajiri & Yinling, HUSTLE 6/17/07. A mix of cool and bizarre, which is HUSTLE in a nutshell. 137 MB.
Tenryu vs HG, HUSTLE 6/17/07. Maybe HG should have stuck with variety shows. Unless, that is, he LIKES having his chest ripped apart. 123 MB.
Kanemura, Kuroda & Imai vs Kasai, Numazawa & Masada, Big Japan 6/26/07. My love affair with BJPW 6-mans featuring a clear underdog continues!
Mammoth, Shadow WX & K. Inoue vs Sekimoto, Hi69 & Obata, Big Japan 6/26/07. More BJPW 6-man akshun! Clipped very neatly in the middle. Mammoth delivers a hellish powerbomb. Get on it!
New Hazard vs Muscle Outlaw'z, trios titles, Dragon Gate 7/1/07. Following up on the 3-way tag. Will MO'z craft and tricks be enough to top NH's power and energy? 166 MB.
Minoru Tanaka vs Taguchi, junior title, New Japan 7/6/07. Big-time conclusion to their series and my favorite IWGP junior title match in many years.
Nagata vs Makabe, IWGP title, New Japan 7/6/07. More hardway blood than I've ever seen, with a super-packed and red-hot Korakuen backing... the super-heel? 100 MB.
Nagata vs Makabe, IWGP title, New Japan 7/6/07. From the clipped TV airing. Upgrade.
T. Sasaki vs Ito, DM title, Big Japan 7/8/07. Their third and (for my money) best title match.
Sato & Koinoki vs Vabo & Anjoh, HUSTLE 7/11/07. Vabo is Nagao, an ex-NJ young lion, who is exponentially more effective here as a fake Giant Baba than as himself.
Kawada, Norton & Morgan vs HG, Sakata & RG, HUSTLE 7/11/07. RG dies! Bonus post-match stuff!
Yoshie vs Sai, Fire Festival, Zero-One 7/16/07. The psychology of the match: Yoshie is fat.
Kyosuke Sasaki vs Yoshikawa, Battlarts 7/21/07. KyoSas is so fun in BatBat. Dig that finish! And the energy and stiffness and so-forth.
Sawa vs Hayato, Battlarts 7/21/07. One of the best-used figure-fours you'll see, and in a shoot-style bout no less. Also that usual Battlarts level of smackin'.
Nakanishi, Yujiro & Hirasawa vs Sekimoto, Mammoth Sasaki & K. Inoue, Big Japan 7/30/07. New Japan invades! Interpromotional hate on a grand scale! One of my favorites from '07.
Tanahashi vs Makabe, New Japan G-1 Climax '07 semi-final. Interesting to see how these two progressed since facing off in the U-30 tournament final in '03. Both are aiming for their first G-1 win.
Nagata vs Tanahashi, New Japan G-1 Climax '07 final. Nagata advanced after a fluke injury to Nakamura. Yet another chapter in their reliably good rivalry.
Takayama & Sato vs Omori & Sekimoto, Zero-One 8/24/07. Warning: not suitable for those with allergies to the German suplex.
Satomura, Okuda & Mizumura vs Kuragaki, Arisa Nakajima & Ohki, JWP 8/26/07. Satomura and her Sendai Girls students invade JWP! Loads of fun, the younguns bring a lot of fire, give this a shot!
Nishimura vs Tajiri, US title, 2/3 falls, MUGA 9/23/07. Guest selection by DaWho. Tajiri works his schtick into a traditional MUGA match, which compensates for MUGA being Nishimura-land. A lot of it works well, albeit with a bit of overkill at the end.
Tenzan vs Hirooki Goto, NJ 10/8/07. Hirooki Goto went to Mexico for over a year, and returned not a spectacular junior but instead a credible heavyweight. He's been on a big win streak and now has a huge test in Tenzan. Tough fight with loads of plasma.
Bruiser Minody & Takan Hansen vs Jumbo Kiku & Terry Sanshiro, NOSAWA Bom-Ba-Ye 11/8/07. It's all about Jumbo Kiku.
Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto, IWGP title, NJ 11/11/07. One of the most acclaimed matches of '07 and an even bigger breakout match for Hirooki.
Ohtani & Nagata vs Masato Tanaka & Sai, Zero-One 11/13/07. Ohtani's 15th anniversary celebration, and his NJ Dojo classmate Nagata mixes it up with Tanaka.
Sapp vs HG, Hustlemania '07. The match you've been waiting for!
Tenryu, Tajiri & RG vs Akebono, Yinling & Anjoh, Hustlemania '07. The other match you've been waiting for!
Esperanza vs Sakata, Hustlemania '07. The summation of all things HUSTLE. An epic for our time.
HARASHIMA vs MIKAMI, KOD title, DDT 11/27/07. Really fun, plenty of neat spots and good nearfalls and also a ladder.
Taka & Togo vs Ibushi & Madoka, IWGP junior tag titles, K-Dojo 12/1/07. The confident, veteran tag champs tangle with a younger, faster team. I'm extra-choosy about juniors matches from the last few years so trust me when I say this is good.
Yoshie vs Shiozaki, MUGA 12/13/07. One already gets a sense of Muga's business struggles based on the sparse crowd opposite the main camera. As a result this never has a chance to build consistent heat. The highlight of the match is their striking, which should come as no surprise. In fact I'd say the match's main flaw is that it doesn't revolve around exchanges because of how long they go. Once they head for home this picks way up.
Doi & Yoshino vs Kanemaru & Aoki, GHC junior tag titles, DG 12/28/07. Speed Muscle (Doi/Yoshino) can sometimes get bogged down by too-long finisher escalation against other DG wrestlers. Here things are a lot simpler, and the big question is if Aoki can survive in his first title match.
Ibushi vs K. Inoue, indy junior title, BJPW 1/2/08, JIP. One would be tempted to think that Ibushi carries this, but I'd say Inoue actually has the better performance.
Sekimoto & Y. Sasaki vs T. Sasaki & Miyamoto, tag titles, BJPW 1/2/08. A clear story, plenty of effort, and a hot finish. One of the most widely-enjoyed puro bouts of the '08!
Ken Ohka vs Long River Hwang Ho, New Beijing 2/7/08. An easy MOTYC.
The Lee Sisters vs Lee Lanchieh, New Beijing 2/7/08. Get this for the post-match.
Sasaki, Tenryu, Takayma & Suzuki vs Kawada, Ohtani, Yoshie & Saito, Kensuke Office 2/11/08. A metric ton of star power, enough hard hits and bombs and tension to keep you interested. 239 MB.
I'm... I just... I don't even know anymore.
Kawada & Ohtani vs HG & RG, HUSTLE 2/24/08. RG dies. A lot.
Ibushi & Kagetora vs Kondo & Oyanagei, El Dorado 2/27/08. Oyanagei, formerly a comedy wrestler, shows his technical chops. Great finish.
Sekimoto & Y. Sasaki vs Mashimo & Madoka, BJPW tag titles, Z1 3/2/08. Not quite as good as the title matches before and after this one, in part because the Zero1 crowd isn't as hot as a Big Japan crowd would be. Still, it's good, especially the finishing run.
Shingo Takagi & BB Hulk vs KENTA & Ishimori, GHC junior tag titles, DG 3/20/08. First GHC junior tag match in a while to really click, with a mix of hard hitting (you can guess who) and junior-style excitement.
Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong & BB Hulk vs HARASHIMA, Ibushi & Antonio Honda, DDG 4/6/08. New Hazard shows a bit of an edge, especially with the overmatched Honda. That element keeps things interesting between the flashy sections when Ibushi and HARASHIMA are in.
Tajiri & Sai vs Ohtani & Monster C, HUSTLE 4/13/08. Corino has been replaced by an unknown who goes all-out with the gimmick (though Tajiri helps).
HG vs Monster C, HUSTLE 4/16/08. HG gets kinda heelish here, but it works thanks to C being so gosh darn enjoyable.
Miyamoto vs Kimura, Big Japan / Hardcore Ladies 5/4/08. An intergender DM that works because Miyamoto isn't jacked and Kimura isn't girly. These two came in together, but since then Miyamoto has been going up against the company's best. Can Kyoko make it competitive, or dare I say, pull off a huge upset?
Ito vs Shadow WX, DM title, Big Japan 5/4/08. Shadow held the title three times early in its history, but hasn't had so much as a title shot in five years (since Ito became the DM ace). He's still a powerhouse, and this match is more suited to his style than the usual 'hundreds of light tubes' title bout. That said, Ito is the man to beat.
Nakanishi vs Yoshie, NJ PREMIUM 5/5/08. PREMIUM is a Chono-produced sub-brand. Nakanishi and Yoshie do pretty much the same match they did in 2005, which is a good thing.
Sekimoto vs Shingo Takagi, Buyuden (Dragon Gate) 5/10/08. Power battle with the unexpected highlight being a lot of nasty elbows. Is Sekimoto's indy cred enough to put him over the more mainstream Shingo on a DG-backed show? 108 MB.
Mashimo & Madoka vs Teioh & Shinobu, BJPW tag titles, Big Japan 5/23/08. One of the very best puro matches of 2008! I know, I wasn't expecting that either, but TRUST ME. Korakuen gets behind the home team, especially undercard mainstay Shinobu, as they seek to reclaim the tag belts from K-Dojo.
Sawa vs Koichiro Kimura, Battlarts 6/1/08. Kimura has far more experience, is bigger himself, and is skilled both standing and on the mat. To say Sawa is in for a fight would be an understatement.
Minoru vs Taguchi, BOSJ, New Japan 6/8/08. Final match between the two, and the loser is out of contention for advancing in the tournament. Solid follow-up to their 2007 trilogy; these guys just mesh.
Mashimo vs YOSHIYA, K-Dojo 6/12/08. Short but solid.
Kasai & Numazawa vs T. Sasaki & Y. Miyamoto, Big Japan 6/23/08. Big ol' deathy match.
Ishikawa, Sawa & Otsuka vs Ikeda, Usuda & Super Tiger II, Elimination match, Battlarts 7/26/08. 45 minute time limit does come into play, and there is a little clipping. You will be shocked to learn that this contains stiffness.
T. Sasaki & Miyamoto vs Sekimoto & Kobayashi, hardcore match, Big Japan 7/27/08, JIP. Coming in I had no idea who would win, and the finishing run is enough to keep you guessing. ABBY~
Oh no! The ring! Dragon Gate 8/9/08.
Saito & Yokosuka vs Arai & Iwasa, Summer Tag League, Dragon Gate 8/9/08. What kind of match can DG wrestlers have without ropes? Apparently a pretty good one.
Nagata vs Yoshie, NJ G-1 Climax '08. This was the match I most expected to enjoy in the tournament, and indeed it's a solid outing.
Yoshie vs Hirooki Goto, NJ G-1 Climax '08. Yoshie is often overlooked as a heavy-hitter, since people just focus on the 'heavy' part. Goto is a budding star looking to prove he can go toe-to-toe in heavyweight slugfests. Will Yoshie do Dradition proud, or will the phenom overwhelm the immovable object?
Yoshikawa vs Ueda, Zero-One 8/29/08. A pair of young lions beat the tar out of each other.
Sawa vs Obata, Z-1 8/29/08. A match largely based on smacks to the face.
Hara vs Yujiro Yamamoto, Battlarts 8/31/08. All kinds of stiff.
Hidaka & Sawa vs Ishikawa & Yoshikawa, Battlarts 8/31/08. You not only get dozens and dozens of nasty strikes, but also young Yoshikawa trying to prove himself against a team that's used to facing A-list juniors. One of the best bouts Japan produced in '08!
Campsite Wrestling, DDT 9/7/08. Literal fireworks! Splashes that cause splashes! Endless Irish whips! Things that make no sense whatsoever! All inside.
Hara & Takeda vs K. Yano & S. Ishikawa, Battlarts 10/25/08. Hard hits, some big suplexes, and sweet matwork. Yup, it's BatBat.
Nagai vs Sawa, Battlarts 10/25/08. The new hotness against a bigger but over-the-hill veteran. Nagai has tangled with dozens of the best shoot-style wrestlers, but how much does he have in the tank? Sawa has spunk but can he hold his own going toe-to-toe?
Ishikawa vs Super Tiger II, Battlarts 10/25/08. Hard-hitting, great exchanges, and just a general sense of "they're really going at it". Ishikawa carries ST2 like it's nothing.
Teioh, Onryo, KUDO & Shinobu vs Oishi, Oosugi, Senga & Yuki Sato, Big Japan 10/27/08. Men's World brings the quality lucharesu action.
Yoshikawa vs Tsubakichi, Battlarts 11/16/08. A pair of youngins who are prepared to throw down.
Ohtani vs Ueda, Zero-One 11/28/08. Ueda takes a beating like a man.
Ishikawa & Super Tiger II vs Sekimoto & Usuda, Battlarts 12/21/08. Battlarts closes out a good year in style.
Sekimoto & Mammoth Sasaki vs Yoshihito Sasaki & Shinya Ishikawa, Big Japan 1/2/09. Shinya, still a rookie, hasn't done much besides absorb beatings (as the pre-match video package shows). Yoshihito hasn't done much since returning from injury. They're facing the much bigger tag champs, so how can they be competitive? Answer: fighting spirit and force of will. Big Japan does an underdog story better than anyone in Japan.
Miyamoto & T. Sasaki vs Kodaka & Takeda, Big Japan 1/4/09, JIP. A good DM that plants seeds for better things to come.
Nakamura & Goto vs Misawa & Sugiura, New Japan 1/4/09. I wasn't expecting much, but this delivers. Sugiura in a big tag against heavyweights is usually quality, and Nakamura looks good going toe-to-toe with Misawa. Note who gets the biggest entrance pop.
Mochizuki, Fujii & Kishiwada vs Hulk, Tanisaki & mcKZ, trios titles, Dragon Gate 1/18/09. The champs and challengers are a good fit for their roles, they keep it relatively simple and fast-paced, and it ends when it should.
Tanahashi vs Nakamura, IWGP title, New Japan 2/15/09. Smart match from Tanahashi. I'd put it on par with any singles match from Japan in 2008, if not higher.
Y. Miyamoto & T. Sasaki vs Y. Sasaki & Shinya Ishikawa, Big Japan 3/12/09, JIP. I'm assuming this was slow in the first half, but the part after we join it sure isn't. Hot hot finish. Shinya is a runaway rookie of the year as far as I'm concerned.
Masato Tanaka & Sekimoto vs Atsushi Ohashi & Yuji Okabayashi, Big Japan 3/12/09. Mammoth Sasaki got hurt, and Sekimoto managed to get a decent replacement. Okabayashi is the buffest rookie since Lesnar and he looks like a star in the making.
Suzuki & Kea vs Suwama & Kondo, tag titles, All Japan 3/14/09. Suzuki and Kea are the MASTERS of teamwork. Suwama and Kondo have more flashy offense. Lots of nifty stuff in here, but be warned that the crowd is horrible.
Y. Miyamoto & T. Sasaki vs Masashi Takeda & Isami Kodaka, light tube & double board DM, Big Japan 3/26/09. Isami started out with Miyamoto, but his lack of size (to put it mildly) and a big injury kept him from progressing. Takeda is from tiny indy Style-E. As the underdog of underdogs they take a huge beating but get the crowd behind them. Works on more levels than just carnage, oh and there's plenty of that too.
T. Sasaki, Takeda & Daisuke Harada vs Y. Sasaki, Shinya Ishikawa & Ryuichi Kawakami, BJPW 4/1/09. Ah, 'Strong BJ'. So good. Takeda and Yoshihito hating on one another, Kawakami dishing out brutal elbows, Harada of Osaka Pro getting to do something a bit more intense than he normally would in happy-go-lucky OPro; it's 99.5% goodness!
PIZA Michinoku & Antonio Honda vs Dino & Yoshihiko, DDT 4/5/09. Yoshihiko is pretty clearly the comeback of the year. This match has the unbeatable winner for most devestating kneedrop ever.
Taue & Hirayanagi vs Sanshiro Takagi & Michael Nakazawa, DDT 4/5/09. Taue and Genba heel it up! Nakazawa introduces him to the unusual way things work in DDT!
Sawa & Hayato vs Tiger Shark & Akifumi Saito, Battlarts 4/12/09. These younguns have no problem laying it in. Shark and Saito are from Sayama's Real Japan promotion, and are outgunned. But that doesn't stop them from going toe-to-toe.
Ishikawa & Usuda vs Super Tiger II & Yujiro Yamamoto, Battlarts 4/12/09. This match also features some stiffness. I'm just as shocked as you are.
Ibushi vs Dino, DDT 4/18/09. Yoshihiko's presence is felt in a big way. Featuring the backdrop driver of the decade, if not century.
Ito & Shuji Ishikawa vs Masashi Takeda & Isami Kodaka, light tube & double board DM, Big Japan 4/28/09. More goodness from Isami and Takeda. Ishikawa looks good as a big man dishing out punishment, and Ito metes out some hard strikes. If you liked the March tag with the underdogs, you'll like this.
Tanaka & Sekimoto vs Y. Miyamoto & T. Sasaki, Big Japan 4/28/09. Being that this is not hardcore, Miyamoto and Sasaki are at a significant disadvantage. Tanaka and Sekimoto make the hole even deeper with smart, focused work in the middle. Will power and experience prevail, or do Miyamoto and Sasaki have enough heart to steal one?
T. Sasaki vs Kawakami, Big Japan 5/3/09. Sasaki mostly does hardcore matches, and Kawakami is one of the lesser 'Strong BJ' members, but somehow they click as opponents. Takashi delivers a lot of punishment but Kawakami is able to fire back quite well himself. They improved on this a year later.
Dick Togo vs Shinya Ishikawa, Big Japan 5/3/09. For some reason I kept skipping over this on the DVD, probably because the crowd isn't good. Togo, however, is very much good. He leads young Ishikawa to a rock-solid vet-versus-young-lion match while also adapting to the hard-hitting nature of 'Strong BJ'.
Minoru Suzuki vs Mecha Mummy, MUSCLE 5/4/09, clipped (sorta). The explosive rematch with a shocking twist at the end.
Miyamoto & Takeda vs Okabayashi & Shinya Ishikawa, hardcore match, Big Japan 5/5/09. Four young stars show why Big Japan's future is in better shape than most promotions in Japan.
Sekimoto vs Y. Sasaki, Big Japan 5/5/09. They faced off before at bigger shows in Zero-One, but for some reason I like this more. They keep it simple and it works.
Goto & Okada vs Sugiura & Aoki, NJ 5/5/09. Hot hot NJ vs NOAH action in Korakuen! The first great match for Okada, albeit in a totally different style than he's known for now. Sugiura and Aoki school him with ease on the mat, and Sugiura almost ends his career with one of the most brutal (slightly botched) moves you'll ever see. Solid pace and action throughout, plus heat that's even better than usual for 'Interpromotional Match In Korakuen', which is saying something. One of the top matches from Japan in 2009.
Tanahashi vs Nakanishi, IWGP title, NJ 5/6/09, JIP. Nakanishi, for all his strength and experience, was handed a title shot on very short notice by Tanahashi. Why? Hard to say. Maybe Tanahashi felt sorry for him. Maybe he felt that it would be an easy win to pad his number of title defenses. It couldn't have been about Nak being a top contender, because he'd lost every big singles match in New Japan going back quite a ways. But this match, in front of a supportive Korakuen Hall, is his chance to change all that and finally hold the belt.
Y. Miyamoto & T. Sasaki vs Masashi Takeda & Isami Kodaka, Tag League final, light tube DM, Big Japan 5/28/09. Takeda & Kodaka sneaked into the final due to an injury. This one goes a bit long but if you liked the other tags with them you'll like this.
Kanemoto vs Kikuchi, BOSJ '09. Stiff 'n' Surly.
T. Sasaki vs Abby Jr Kobayashi, Big Japan 6/8/09. Not on the same level as their '06 match but good in the same ways. KENZAN~
Shiozaki vs Okada, NJ 6/20/09. Newly minted GHC champ Shiozaki faces a disrespectful Shin Nihon punk. Okada is guaranteed goodness vs NOAH.
Sekimoto vs Okabayashi, Big Japan 6/29/09. Super-simple teacher vs student power battle. Okabayashi should change his name to OKA, because otherwise he's going to cause tongue sprains at Korakuen.
Goto vs Okada, NJ 7/5/09. Okada was a great young lion, no bones about it. At this point he had lots of spunk and all the pieces that were needed to become a headliner later on. Goto is fine as the punishment-dealing veteran, but Okada is the one who makes this.
Bret Kikuhart vs Shawn Antonio Honda Michaels, NOSAWA Bom-Ba-Ye 7/9/09. Honda makes this.
Ishikawa vs Tiger Shark, Battlarts 7/26/09. A Battlarts match featuring a lot of hard strikes. Wait that doesn't really distinguish it...
Kodaka & Takeda vs Sekimoto & Okabayashi, tag titles, Big Japan 7/29/09, JIP. The young, scrawny tag champs did well in a hardcore setting. Can they handle the powerhouses with their bare hands? Can rookie Okabayashi do well in his first title match?
Taka Michinoku vs Daigora Kashiwa, Strongest K title, KDojo 8/9/09. Quite a pleasant surprise. This is downright brilliant from the standpoint of a no-name challenger relying on his strengths and finding unexpected openings, such that he really grows on you. So many nifty and/or smart spots in this. And it doesn't overstay its welcome, give it a shot!
Nagata vs Nakanishi, NJ G-1 2009. Hard striking. Goofy yells and facial expressions. Some good nearfalls. It's not a masterpiece but I was entertained throughout.
Tanahashi vs Masato Tanaka, NJ G-1 2009, JIP. Nearfalls!
Nakamura vs Makabe, NJ G-1 2009 final. Nakamura beats up Makabe, who makes a couple big comebacks. Simple but effective.
Beer Garden Digest, DDT 8/09. In recent years, DDT has had a week of small/short shows in August with cheap tickets and wrestler-cooked food. Good times. This is a 1 hour episode covering the 2009 shows, and it's some concentrated DDT. The cool, the funny, and the baffling. Oh the baffling.
HARASHIMA vs Ibushi, DDT title, DDT 8/23/09, JIP. Main event of DDT's biggest show ever delivers some big-time action!
Sekimoto, Okabayashi & Y. Sasaki vs Shuji Ishikawa, Shinobu & Madoka, BJPW 8/28/09. I love the dynamic of having one side be all powerhouses and the other having two scrawny juniors. Shinobu really shines, and the final minutes are something else.
Kobashi, Kikuchi & Ito vs Kojima, Kai & Yamato, All Japan 8/30/09. Chopping plus a very surly Kikuchi equals fun. Um... divided by pi.
Sawa vs Yujiro Yamamoto, Battlarts 8/30/09. Yamamoto has about a year under his belt, but he hangs with Sawa just fine.
Sawa vs Baisen TAGAI, Battlarts 9/6/09. Baisen isn't as crisp as other Battlarts guys, but he makes up for it with heart. Gotta love the closing minutes as he refuses to go down.
Kasai & Numazawa vs Miyamoto & Takeda, barbed wire board & light tubes DM, BJPW 9/21/09. They go all-out for a house show. Don't see this type of effort from other promotions on smaller events these days.
Y. Sasaki & Shinya Ishikawa vs T. Sasaki & Kankuro Hoshino, BJPW 9/28/09. A really fun sprint. Hoshino just earned a contract and has a strong showing, but the real key is the fast pace.
Nakamura vs Ohtani, IWGP title, New Japan 10/12/09. In all likelihood this is the last really big match Ohtani will have. He brings his A game and the crowd gets behind him big-time, especially with his Hashimoto tributes.
Chono, Mutoh & Kobashi vs Kojima, Akiyama & Nakanishi, New Japan 10/12/09, JIP. For me it's all about Nakanishi vs Kobashi.
Kanemura vs Namiguchi, Namiguchi retirement match, Zero-One 10/24/09. If Nami's going out, dammit he's going out with a FIGHT!
Sekimoto & Sai vs Ohtani & Kakinuma, Zero-One 10/24/09. The debut of Kakinuma, who looks like a fine young prospect as he takes the traditional Japanese initiation.
Tanaka vs Kawada, Zero-One title, Zero-One 10/24/09, JIP. Pared down to the hot second half. Can Tanaka get the biggest win of his career? Can Kawada win a singles title for the first time in six years?
Ibushi vs YOSHIHIKO, DDT title, DDT 10/25/09. This match totally happened.
Ito vs Kasai, razor board & barbed wire cactus & light tubes DM, BJPW 11/20/09, JIP. The surprising pick for Tokyo Sports Match of the Year.
Ibushi vs Shuji Ishikawa, DDT title, DDT 11/29/09. Shuji was the DDT champ previously (as 'Koo'), and he beat Ibushi in the shoot-style 'Hard Hit' offshoot promotion. His size gives Ibushi problems, especially since Ibushi's kickboxing background means he's used to beating opponents in strike exchanges. All that said, Ibushi isn't in the mood for letting the title slip away in just his second real defense. Some neat spots and a sense of struggle over control make this a nifty match.
TV Block for All Japan 12/13/09. Features:
-Hayashi vs Hama, bullrope match. Done as a comedy match... and it works?! Hama's facial expressions post-match are great.
-Nishimura vs Fuchi vs Kondo, winner gets a date. Match Game meets a comedy 3-way. It's all about Fuchi.
-Suwama & Soya vs Kono & Sanada, a hard-hitting affair with four young stars. Goes a bit longer than it needs to but that's the way of the world in 2009.
MASADA vs Kamui, Freedoms 12/25/09. A real car wreck of a match, but that's what makes it an unqualified must-see. To answer the question you might ask after watching the match: it's Kamui's.
Shuji Ishikawa vs HARASHIMA, DDT title, DDT 12/27/09, JIP. Good in much the same way as Ishikawa vs Ibushi, with several quality strike exchanges and good build to the nearfalls.