New Japan Cup Finals, Reviewed (03.15.2015)

Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHDA & Jay White v. Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taiguchi & Mascara Dorada:  This was actually a pretty fun, fast paced opener where everyone had a chance to look good.  I continue to be impressed by Jay White.  The ultimate goal, as has been the case throughout these past few shows was to make Mascara Dorada look good which isn’t that hard.  Dorada doing the walk across the top rope into the moonsault is amazing.  Dorada winds up pinning White to end the match and get the win for his team.

 

Satoshi Kojima & Yohei Komatsu v. Yuji Nagata & Sho Tanaka:  This match already happened, except switch Kojima out with Tanahashi.  I wanted to say how that substitution doesn’t make the match any better, but actually it kind of does.  The story is different than the one from earlier in the week.  In this one you get a segment where Nagata and Kojima beat the snot out of each other, and then you get a finishing sequence where the kids take over — and that last portion of the match with Komatsu and Tanaka is actually pretty awesome.  Komatsu wins up hooking in a nice single leg crab and Tanaka is forced to tap out.  In a somewhat unrelated note, Nagata had the most amazing face while he was in the corner getting chopped by Kojima.

 

Togi Makabe v. Hirooki Goto [New Japan Cup, Semi Final]:  I am really digging Makabe right now.  I like his attitude where he kind of no sells all offense used against him until there is a pause in the action and suddenly it seems as if a wave of pain just washes over him.  Almost as if in the moment he feels nothing, but as soon as things slow down his body kind of reminds him that Goto was just kicking the tar out of him.  This match caught me a little off guard, I’m not sure why but I don’t associate Goto with hoss style battles and this was certainly a hoss fight.  Makabe was going about his business just clubbering Goto to death when Goto managed to tie him all up and roll him into a ball for a quick three count.

 

Kota Ibushi v. Tetsuya Naito [New Japan Cup, Semi Final]:  This. Was. So. Good.  It scared me a little bit at the beginning because it starts a bit slow, but man when it hits that groove it just never comes out of it.  These two work really well together (no surprise there) and because Naito is a similar size to Ibushi we see a much different type of match than we’ve seen out of Ibushi in the tournament so far.  Gone are the days of Ibushi winning with quick roll ups out of nowhere, this match he wins with a huge powerbomb.  I also loved the near falls, Naito hit like a reverse rana for two and a full nelson suplex for two in succession that had me on the edge of my seat.  I know it’s in the moment as I read this, but I’d say this was the best match of the tournament so far.

 

Katsuyori Shibata & Tomoaki Honma v. Tama Tonga & Cody Hall:  This is without a doubt the least likely pair of Bullet Club members to win a match possible and that even takes into account the fact that Shibata almost murdered Honma before the bell rang.  Throughout the match Shibata and Honma were at each other’s throat — which I mention because there was a little under-the-radar moment that I loved.  Honma is being pinned after a Cody Hall lariat and Shibata comes in to break it up by stomping on Hall.  After Hall moves, Shibata stomps on Honma as well — it was beautiful.  The whole match was kind of beautiful because of the interactions between Honma and Shibata.  It’s also fun to watch Cody Hall, who has a weird body and who is basically just cos-playing as his Father right now, but who, once he becomes more comfortable in the ring is going to be a legitimate monster.  I still don’t know why he’s motioning for the Razor’s Edge when a member of his own stable already uses that move, but who knows, maybe Hall and Fale will have a falling out and that is what will break up the Bullet Club.  In the end Shibata and Honma work together to take out Hall and Honma gets the pinfall win for his team.

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Capt. New Japan v. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba:  At one point in this match Toru Yano got his knees up and blocked a High Fly Flow into a small package and got the closest near fall I’ve ever seen.  I almost jumped out of my seat.  This match had no business being any good.  Seriously look who is involved in this match, it’s on paper a pile of garbage.  And yet, in the end, I loved it.  The end is incredible.  Yano spins Capt. New Japan’s mask around so he can’t see and gets dumped out of the ring, then Tanahashi gets kicked in the chest by Sakuraba, and Yano pulls his hair back into a cradle again for the three.  Let me repeat that Toru Yano has pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi twice in the last 10 days.  Can you imagine if all of a sudden Adam Rose was just going around pinning John Cena like it was nobodies business? I love this company.

 

Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI v. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale:  Just once I want a team to run across the ring to knock their opponents to the floor and have the opponents not just stand on the apron waiting to get punched like a bunch of doofs.  This is a New Japan staple though so you learn to live with it.  The match itself was solid, this is about the best eight man combination that you’re going to get for one of these matches.  Ishii was the workhorse here, no surprise there, basically spending a ton of time in the ring with Gallows and Anderson.  For the Bullet Club, Gallows was great.  Anderson continues to be impressive — and shock of all shocks, Takahashi is starting to grow on me.  Like I’ve hated him for so long that I’m starting to come around on him.  At the end Fale escapes a Rainmaker only to be caught with a second rope BomaYe and followed up with a Rainmaker and Okada pins Fale which gets him some redemption for Fale beating him clean in the New Japan Cup.

 

Hirooki Goto v. Kota Ibushi [New Japan Cup Finals]:  It’s not easy to wrestle twice in one night, especially in a high profile situation in front of a big crowd.  The first Ibushi match tonight (against Naito) was excellent.  The best match of the tournament and a real spotlight on how good Ibushi can be.  This wasn’t that.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good match, because it was — but it wasn’t as good as the semi-final match earlier in the night, and that hurt it’s overall standing in my opinion.  The end was good, and the crowd really got into it when Goto kicked out after the Last Ride.  Ibushi winds up winning after he hits the Phoenix Splash to the delight of the crowd.  Huge night for Ibushi, who announced that at Invasion Attack! he’s going to challenge AJ Styles for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

 

The Verdict:  When Kota Ibushi won the “Best of the Super Jr.” tournament in 2014 I was let down.  I really thought New Japan made a mistake with that decision because Ricochet was the most popular guy in the tournament and the crowd was desperate to see him win.  I know why he didn’t win — and the fact that shortly after his victory Ibushi signed a deal with New Japan (and Ricochet didn’t) fed into the idea that Ibushi won for reasons other than satisfying the crowd.  That being said, this was a better moment to give Ibushi the rub.  If you were never going to have him involved in the Jr. Heavyweight division than you kind of wasted a moment on him at the BOSJ.  This was more fitting.  Ibushi has now been in arguably the best match of the year (vs. Nakamura at WK9) and he won the New Japan Cup with two matches in one night, a main event win, and a MOTYC against Naito.  You’re setting him up to headline an iPPV event against AJ Styles and it feels like we’re on the precipice of something big for Ibushi.  I liked what he did, didn’t love the finals match but loved the outcome of the tournament and I’m very interested to see how well Ibushi can work with Styles.

Posted in New Japan Pro Wrestling | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Japan Cup 2015, Day 2 Reviewed

YOSHI-HASHI v. Jay White:  I’m not sure if this is a compliment to YOSHI-HASHI or not, but I genuinely thought he was going to lose this match.  Now that could mean that he did such a good job of selling Jay White’s offense that this match seemed close and even, or you could take this to mean that YOSHI-HASHI is so irrelevant that I didn’t even think he would beat a young boy.  It’s really up to your own level of interpretation.  I’m completely distracted during all YOSHI-HASHI matches by his head — am I crazy or does anyone else just find his whole face and hair combination offensive?  Anyway this was a fine opener, Jay White is going to be really good.

 

Captain New Japan, KUSHIDA, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tomoaki Honma & Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Ryusuke Taiguchi, Manabu Nakanishi, Mascara Dorada, Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask IV:  Boy howdy this match.  I’m not saying it wasn’t a fun schmozz, I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that I wasn’t that interested in what was happening.  I confess that when Capt. New Japan goes for a flying headbutt and every other member of his team jumps around and then counts with the ref because they think he’s about to get a win always makes me smile.  Other than that, this was just a match that happened to get everyone who didn’t have something more important to do, onto the show.  Typically these are completely meaningless but after the match Tenzan waffles Kojima with the NWA World Championship, which is baffling to me.  TenCozy implodes over the NWA World Championship? In 2015? Really?  Welp, I guess we’ll just see where this goes.

 

Sho Tanaka & Yuji Nagata v. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yohei Komatsu: I don’t feel bad when I say that Koatsu and Tanaka look similar and you know why — because when both guys came out, the graphic on screen had them both sharing the same twitter account.  If the guy running the graphics for New Japan can’t tell them apart, why should I be held to a higher standard?  I kind of dug this match though.  Both Tanaka and Komatsu looked really good and I loved that neither of them backed down from taking the fight right to the veterans in the match.  I also enjoy that Tanahashi and Nagata weren’t in the ring together much.  Obviously they had a role to play here and it wasn’t to be in there together.  In the end Komatsu gets Tanaka to tap to the single leg boston crab and I am completely ok with everything that happened here.

 

Kazushi Sakuraba, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura v. Karl Anderson, Doc Galloway, Tama Tonga, Cody Hall: Guys I know he’s the Bullet Club young boy, but can we get Cody Hall some black and white gear?  That small complaint aside, this was a really fun match.  As best as I can tell this is the first time I’ve seen Cody Hall work and he is much more athletic than I thought.  He’s green as goose shit as they say – but his lariat and power slam looked good.  I also think it takes way more athletic ability to jump from the mat to the top turnbuckle with both feet than people will give him credit for.  The end pieces with Shinsuke and Cody in the ring together was fun and Hall taking the second rope BomaYe and the running BomaYe from Nakamura was the right result.  One thing that’ll be interesting, it looked like Hall was going for a Razor’s Edge — which would seem like a strange move to allow him to use considering he’s in a faction with a guy using essentially the same finisher.

 

Yujiro Takahashi v. Togi Makabe [New Japan Cup, Round 2]: At this point I’m not sure I’m able to effectively talk about Takahashi matches, I just genuinely dislike all of them.  This was a pretty “paint by numbers” match with Takahashi taking the early lead and Makabe fighting from underneath to overcome Takahashi and get the win.  Nothing particularly special, nothing that I’ll remember tomorrow.

 

Kota Ibushi v. Toru Yano [New Japan Cup, Round 2]:  Really this match is irrelevant right because there was no way it could top Yano’s ring entrance where he just stops ringside, points and laughs at Tanahashi who is sitting at commentary.  Literally nothing could make me happier than even Toru Yano acknowledging that Toru Yano pinning Hiroshi Takahashi is insanity.  At first I kind of hated the idea that Ibushi was “stealing” wins in this tournament.  I mean why should he need to get a nifty roll up victory over Toru Yano?  But I think I understand where they’re going with him.  This is really his first chance to go deep in a heavyweight tournament and the story is that he’s using his quickness because he can’t use his strength.  Yano was actually good here and there was a nice call back to his victory over Tanahashi which I loved.  I’m completely ok with this match.  I think we can confirm that I’d rather watch Yano than Takahashi.

 

Bad Luck Fale v. Tetsuya Naito [New Japan Cup, Round 2]:  I really like these two together, I think they have good chemistry.  Fale is great at selling being drop kicked in the knee, and Naito is great at dropkicking guys in the knee cap.  This match went on way too long though.  There are certain things that don’t work as a finish — Naito reversing a Bad Luck Fall into the world’s slowest rana is one of those things.  Fale also just doesn’t seem strong.  I mean not that he’s not capable of winning matches, because he is — but he doesn’t appear to have a lot of strength.  There was a time here where he was supposed to deadlift Naito and he looked like he was struggling.  I dunno, Fale is a mystery to me.  He appears to have all of the qualities of a great monster but in practice it just doesn’t really work for me.


Katsuyori Shibata v. Hirooki Goto [New Japan Cup, Round 2]:
 There is no holding back when these two are in the ring together, they just beat the crap out of each other.  You know, like any two incredibly close friends would do in the same situation.  I loved this match which shouldn’t be a surprise, I love every time these guys in the ring against one another and this was no different.  If it’s possible I think they hit each other harder than they hit anyone else.  Goto ends up winning this one after a really solid back and forth match.  Where some of the other guys in the tournament seemed to be coasting a bit during this show because the next show is the next day, Goto and Shibata just tore each other apart, loved it, loved everything about it.

Verdict:  I would absolutely recommend Goto/Shibata, everything else was relatively skipable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Japan Cup, Round 1 Results (March 5, 2015)

Sho Tanaka, Ryusuke Taiguchi, Tiger Mask & Mascara Dorada v. Jay White, Yohei Komatsu, Jushin Thunder Liger & KUSHIDA: If you’re familiar with the formula of these types of matches then nothing will surprise you here.  Each guy had a few moments to shine with Dorada and Jay White being the stand outs to me.  Dorada winds up getting the pinfall victory for his team because of the eight guys involved in this match only one of them (Dorada) has anything coming up in the future, so it’s good to see Dorada kept strong.

 

Yujiro Takahashi v. YOSHI-HASHI [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: Sometimes a tournament opens with a highly anticipated match and sometimes you get YOSHI-HASHI and Takahashi.  We are what feels like four and a half years into Takahashi’s stint with the Bullet Club and he still hasn’t learned hand-gun motions and he wears a towl with pink writing (seriously, get an All Night Long in white, on a black towel it’s not rocket science!).  In fairness this was actually a pretty solid match.  You know exactly what you’re going to get with these two, but for some reason when they’re together, it works.  Takahashi used a ref bump to break up a powerbomb and hit a low blow, an act that seems pretty desperate for a match against YOSHI-HASHI, but he’s Takahashi so I understand.  Ultimately Takahashi does get the win because YOSHI-HASHI is almost the least plausible winner of any match, ever.  I would’ve picked Captain New Japan to advance before I picked YOSHI-HASHI.

 

Tomoaki Honma v. Togi Makabe [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: Honma is on some next level -ish right now.  This was a pretty fun hoss fight, just two big dudes beating the dog mess out of each other.  Makabe was going to win, there really wasn’t much doubt (in fact he’s my pick to win the whole tournament) but Honma is just so great at taking offense, and convincing people that maybe — just maybe — he isn’t going to lose.  Honma faking traumatic brain injury might be my favorite thing ever and no matter how often he misses that headbutt I laugh literally every single time, that’s some Three Stooges level of performance art right there.

 

Katsuyori Shibata v. Satoshi Kojima [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: I really can’t point out exactly why, but I was *so* into this match.  From the jump these two just decided that they were going to forearm each other to death and it was so good you guys.  The highlight here wasn’t even Shibata’s offense but Kojima.  Kojima was excellent in this match and Shibata took his offense so well that there was a moment where I actually thought Kojima might win.  Ultimately Shibata hits a G2S and PK and gets the win, but man this was so much better than I thought it would be going in.

 

Hirooki Goto v. Yuji Nagata [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: Here’s something I didn’t expect to write — Nagata should’ve won this match.  Essentially Nagata dominates much of the fight, and then we get to the end, Goto hits a couple moves, nails his finisher and gets the pin.  It never really felt like Goto was in charge, it really didn’t feel like he was the better man, and the end kind of came out of nowhere.  I dunno, everything up to the finish was cool and the crowd was into it, but the finish didn’t really work for me and the way that everything played out going into the finish I wish Goto had worked harder for the result.

 

Capt. New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi & Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazushi Sakuraba: Never before has a match so lopsided seemed to equally matched.  It almost isn’t even worth it to say that the team with Nakamura and Ishii didn’t lose to the team with Captain New Japan, but yeah this is a thing that happened.  These guys actually went out of their way to put on an even match which really doesn’t make a ton of sense when you look at those teams.  The story was more about Tenzan and Ishii having some words after the match as I think we’re setting up Ishii having an NWA World Championship shot.

 

Doc Gallows v. Kota Ibushi [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: At some point during this show my attitude towards the entire thing turned.  I liked how this match started.  I liked that Gallows took it outside.  I liked that he took advantage of his size and the story being told was a good one. I even thought that the heat segment ended at the right time and Ibushi started to come on at the right moment.  Then everything got a bit weird and Ibushi won with a quick roll up.  I like the idea, in principle — that Ibushi being the smaller guy (significantly smaller) would need to use speed and guile to win the match, but in practice it felt like Ibushi got his ass kicked and won on a fluke.  I know that’s kind of the story you’re looking for, but it didn’t give me much confidence that Ibushi stood a chance moving forward.

 

Karl Anderson v. Tetsuya Naito [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: For me, this match was significantly better than the previous one, though I think it was telling a very similar story.  Unlike the last match which I thought had Ibushi win out of nowhere, Naito wins this match but he does so after some back and forth exchanges which show him to be equal to Anderson.  I also have to give a tip of the hat to Anderson who is just doing really great work lately.  I loved the early part of this match with Anderson in control, especially him waiting for Naito to get counted out and admiring his own physique in the entrance ramp monitor screen.  Naito winning was the first surprise of the 1st round to me, I absolutely did not see that coming.

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Toru Yano [New Japan Cup, Round 1]: What the hell?!? The outcome of this match came so out of left field that I literally laughed out loud.  Yano pulls Tanahashi down by the hair, rolls him up quick and gets a three count.  Nothing is funnier to me by the way than Yano laughing at Tanahashi for losing to Yano.  You can forget about Naito being the biggest upset of the first round.

 

Bad Luck Fale v. Kazuchika Okada [New Japan Cup, Round 1]:  I’m not against the fact that Fale pins Okada clean after a Bad Luck Fall.  It makes sense contextually from the Okada storyline and from the tournament storyline.  What I don’t really get is why this went on last?  The whole second half of this show was a bit weird to me but there really wasn’t even any shenanigans in this match, it was just Okada straight up getting beat by Fale.  Fale still drives me crazy but he’s pretty good with Okada because I think he’s comfortable opening up his offense a little and not holding back, so he doesn’t look like a giant man softly tapping his opponents when he strikes.  I like the fact that Fale won — I just can’t believe the last three matches on this show were all kind of huge upsets to me.


Verdict:
From a pacing stand point this show was all over the place.  The final three matches made no sense in sequence.  The first half of the show was really good, strong matches between equally competent opponents.  The second half of the show was wild upsets and crafty roll up pins.  Personally I would’ve ended this show with Honma/Makabe and switched this match with that one, it would’ve given the show a better flow and would’ve removed the three huge upsets from happening back to back to back.  I’m interested to see where this goes though.

Posted in NJPW | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Without Context, This Is Still Wrestling Right?

By now you’ve seen the embedded video. To touch on how insane the fallout from the Kimber Lee/Chris Dickinson interaction has been I thought about posting the embedded video from World Star Hip Hop, because yeah, this incident wound up on World Star.

In the past few days since the video of Dickinson laying out Kimber Lee came online I’ve seen countless posts on social media and blog sites talking about how this incident “crossed a line.” I’ve even heard that there are people trying to convince Fete Music to stop running Beyond Wrestling shows — hell I’ve seen people on the Beyond Wrestling facebook page suggest that Beyond as a company should be forced to close up shop.  I certainly respect people like LuFisto, and she has more than earned her right to comment on the incident.  However what LuFisto and many of the people looking for a pound of flesh lack, is context.  Most of the people who I’ve come across commenting on this “incident” weren’t at Fete Music on Sunday night and have only seen the short clip that Beyond Wrestling posted of what transpired.  Taken out of context, as a video in a vacuum, yeah it looks pretty bad, but taken out of context almost every situation that has ever happened in wrestling, ever, is going to look pretty bad.  I mean, you guys know that Brian Pillman didn’t actually shot Steve Austin right?

I confess that I wasn’t in the building on Sunday night, so I similarly come at this situation without much context from “in the moment.” However, I’ve got enough history with Beyond that I felt compelled to address a few things relative to this “incident” where I think people are losing their shit.

First, this is still wrestling right?  I know Beyond put out a comment that they’d update everyone on Kimber Lee’s condition in the future, and JT Dunn has said that Kim is resting and recovering and appreciates the support of the fans which many people are pointing to as proof positive that Dickinson crossed a line and shoot hurt Kim.  You people all know that the Undertaker isn’t actually a supernatural reincarnated wrestling mortician right?  In the internet age of “smart mark” and constant discussion about the behind the scenes workings of professional wrestling it astonishes me how many people have seemingly jumped to the conclusion that Kimber Lee must be legitimately hurt.  I’m not sure if it’s because people assume Chris Dickinson is incapable of not hurting his opponents, or if the idea of a beautiful young woman being rag dolled by a jacked up dude in tiny trunks just flips a switch in people’s brains that require them to believe everything they see is real — but until further notice, and in the immortal words of Aubrey Sitterson, you’re getting worked bro.

Was it a pretty violent chair shot? Yeah.  Did Kim get her ENTIRE arm up in front of her face to protect herself from the shot as much as possible? Yes.

As for the pazuzu bomb — what exactly would you have liked Dickinson to do in order to protect Kim more? Other than drop her softly in the middle of the ring? She doesn’t hit her head on the turnbuckle, she doesn’t hit her head on the ring post — and if in fact she did hit her head on the ringbell, is the placement of the ringbell really the fault of Dickinson (or Lee)?

I respect LuFisto, I really and truly do and it hurts me in my soul to read the words that she wrote in that blog post. But I’m sorry — what happened between Dickinson and Kim is not comparable to many of the “insane” bumps which she’s talking about in her blog.  This wasn’t a light tube death match, it wasn’t a “domestic violence match” — it was an almost completely protected chair shot and a jackknife powerbomb in the ring.  If Dickinson had run a barbwire baseball bat over Kim’s face — we’d be having a different conversation, but that isn’t what happened.  Take gender out of it for one second — this was a protected chairshot and a jackknife power bomb, don’t inflate it into something that it wasn’t.

But even ignoring kayfabe for a second, let’s put the actual moment in context because it’s the one thing that has been missing from all of the commentary.  Kimber Lee is not a 25 year old, former dancer, learning the ropes who got caught in a shitty situation and was abused by the big bad, Chris Dickinson at the end of a show out of nowhere.  In Fete Music, Kimber Lee is the fucking boss.  You want to know who the most important wrestler in Beyond Wrestling is, I’ll tell you — it’s the 5’3, blonde girl you see getting hit with a chair in that video.  Not Biff Busick, not Drew Gulak or JT Dunn or Chris Hero or the Young Bucks — those guys all perform in Fete Music, but Kimber Lee is Beyond Wrestling in Fete Music, and this is why the moment you see on that video is so important.

Chris Dickinson has tried for a long time to get himself “over” as a big bad heel in Beyond.  Admittedly he went through a stage where he wanted to be loved, but for the most part, from the beginning he has been a bad guy.  At “Ends Meet” Dickinson unveiled his stable, Team Pazuzu and he did so by beating the ever loving shit out of Colt Cabana.  To be honest the whole angle felt hollow and weak.  It wasn’t that the moment didn’t deserve to be boo’d, it’s that Cabana is a bit player in Beyond, he’s a part timer who shows up once a year.  The crowd has no connection with Cabana so watching him get brutalized wasn’t really that big of a deal.  So Dickinson changed his game plan — and instead of getting involved with the popular, but part-time wrestler he went after the biggest dog in the yard, the most beloved, the most protected.  Dickinson taking out Kimber Lee wasn’t about a big man taking out a little lady, it was about the big bad wolf walking up to the house of bricks and blowing that shit over.  This was a statement, and that statement has been lost in the controversy. People are talking about how Dickinson went “too far” but they’re forgetting that Kimber Lee has been set up as the most unbeatable monster in Beyond.  She doesn’t look like Goldberg, but nobody has pinned her (before Sunday).  Drew Gulak, David Starr, Silver Ant — none of them could beat Kimber Lee.

The truth is that the angle wasn’t put together to show a man brutally beating a woman, the angle was put together to show a bad guy brutally beating the King (Queen) of the Mountain.  Honestly the angle doesn’t even work if it’s Biff Busick, who is a beloved baby face but who we’ve all seen down and out.  It only works if it’s Kimber Lee because she’s the only wrestler in Beyond who we haven’t seen beaten.

I’m sorry but the mountain of criticism needs to account for the fact that Kim the 5’3, beautiful blonde dancer is the body — but Kimber Lee the wrestler, is an undefeated powerhouse in Beyond.  This isn’t some opening match, throwaway bout with a woman taking insane bumps to prove herself to the men.  This is the man — going out of his way to brutalize Kimber Lee to prove himself to her.  Does that make sense? Because that’s what I’m not seeing from the criticism.

So there are two things at play here which I’m not seeing discussed enough. The first is that this is professional wrestling — Beyond is playing up an angle where Chris Dickinson (the biggest bad guy in the company) has injured Kimber Lee (the biggest good guy).  So in kayfabe terms, sure be pissed off all you want.  In reality, we saw a protected (though violent) chair shot and a jack knife power bomb (not exactly exploding light tubes).  The fact that Beyond Wrestling, Kimber Lee and Chris Dickinson are committed to the angle is a breath of fresh air in wrestling.  When this thing went viral it would’ve been very easy for Kim to jump on her instagram and post pictures of herself working out or playing with her cat to dispel any rumor that she was legitimately hurt.  It would’ve been easy for Dickinson (a guy who despite his demeanor has a hard time being hated) to jump online and let everyone know that he didn’t hurt Kim, and that he actually loves and respects her.  That didn’t happen — the fact that you’re not seeing those things, almost guarantees that you’re getting worked bro.

The other thing you’ve got to remember is that in context, Kimber Lee is the Queen of the Mountain in Beyond.  She isn’t treated as an equal to the men, she’s treated as better than the men.  There are no other regularly appearing women on the Beyond Wrestling roster.  Kim isn’t a woman wrestling men, she’s a wrestler wrestling wrestlers — and knowing her it probably drives her crazy to see everyone running to her defense after seeing a 1 minute clip of 20 month story within Beyond Wrestling.

Posted in Beyond Wrestling | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The one with the barbed wire Christmas Tree: Beyond Wrestling “Ends Meet” Reviewed

Initial Thought: The crowd looks really big.

 

JT fixes my bitch from “Tournament For Tomorrow 3”: If you read my TFT3 review you know that I was way down on the way that the JT Dunn/David Starr “break up” story unfolded. I thought the whole thing made both Dunn and Starr come off bad and I didn’t understand why they’d choose to handle things in that manner. This show opens with Dunn basically admitting that he was a baby at TFT3, and telling the crowd that he’s being helped by Chris Hero to get his mind right. Basically Dunn says he was wrong, and it’s time to move forward. I’m a fan of that being the story moving forward so lets see if they can keep the momentum going.

 

EYFBO v. Doom Patrol (w/ Larry Legend): Is this match still happening? The introductions for this match started around the 13 minute mark of my video, Jaka steps out f the ring at 44:00. The opening match, with no feud, no rivalry, no storyline support — took up 31 minutes. My criticism here isn’t of the match itself, lost somewhere in this bloated mess was an excellent tag team match. My problem is that this absolutely felt like four guys, going into business for themselves and deciding that they had thought of so many great spots that they’d just use them all and ignore the clock. I hate that. I’ve heard it said many times in conversation that anyone can have a compelling 20 minute match, it takes true artistry to tell a story in 4 minutes. This match was fine, but the length should be reserved for blood rivalries and well developed stories. You don’t need five different hot tag exchanges, you don’t need four different chop/slap exchanges, you don’t need a brawl to the outside including a pazuzu bomb off the stage into the crowd. You can have some of those things, but you don’t need all of those things. So was this match fine? Sure, but if it had come in closer to 15 minutes than 30 it would’ve been a lot better. Also, admittedly I’m looking through this lens with the benefit of knowing the future – but Angel Ortiz and Mike Draztik become member of Team Pazuzu — so, I dunno, if you’re ultimately going to be friends maybe don’t spend 30 minutes beating the holy hell out of each other including, like I said before, a pazuzu bomb off the stage.

 

Tommaso Ciampa v. Drew Gulak: There is a lesson here folks. The opener was a bloated mess that went almost a half hour. It was followed up by a brilliant, brutal, emotional fight between two longtime Beyond Wrestling rivals that clocks in under 10 minutes. This match is simple and gorgeous. From the minute Gulak hits the ring it’s a war between two guys who have a history in the promotion. The thing I love about both of these guys is that when they’re in the ring it feels like a fight. Yes, professional wrestling has a choreographed element, but the beauty is in constructing something so that the audience doesn’t see the wires. When Jay Lethal does a Lethal Injection without every looking over his shoulder because he knows his opponent is in position (because it’s rehearsed for him to be in position) that is bad. When Drew Gulak bounces off the ropes, hits his knees and slides into position to take Ciampa down into an ankle lock and it looks kind of ugly and disjointed – that’s the brilliance of two guys who know what they’re doing. Honestly, I wish the last match had gone 15 minutes shorter and this match went 5 minutes longer. In the end Ciampa hits Gulak with a lariat and knocks his effin’ head off to get the pin. At the end the crowd chants “WE WANT MORE” and I don’t need to tell you that they didn’t say that after the opener.

 

*Chile Lucha Libre All Stars World Championship*

Shynron © v. AR Fox: AR Fox is terrific in making you believe that he has absolutely no respect for Shynron. Gulak and Busick don’t like each other and that’s the story they’re telling. I don’t get the feeling that Fox doesn’t like Shynron. I get the feeling that he honestly can’t fathom a situation where Shynron is better than him and that it is’ own specific skill. That story actually works here too because Shynron absolutely proves that he’s the equal of AR Fox and at the end, Fox needs the help of the lovely Mrs. Foxy, a low blow to Kevin Quinn and a shot to Shynron’s head with the CLL belt to try and get the victory. But in an example of intelligent booking, Fox hits Shynron with the belt and tosses the belt to the point where it almost hits Kevin Quinn in the face. There is no doubt that Quinn saw the shot, so when a secondary ref tries to count three, Quinn interferes and throws the match out. So often you’d have the referee clearly in the line of sight of the interference and pretend they hadn’t seen anything. This was much more satisfying and sets up the inevitable feud ending speciality match (in this case a ladder match on March 1st).

 

Pinkie Sanchez (w/ Larry Legend) v. Colt Cabana: This was a match that happened. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t like comedy in my wrestling – Chuck Taylor v. Archibald Peck remains one of my favorite matches of all time. That being said, this match combined a lot of things that I don’t particularly like into one place. I enjoy Colt Cabana as a podcast celebrity more than Colt Cabana the professional wrestler at this point. I’m not going to say much about this match because the whole thing just felt like going through the motions to get to the post match where Colt offers to tag with Pinkie and Jaka and Dickinson run out and beat Colt to a pulp. Then EYFBO come out because their 40 minute blood feud wasn’t enough earlier. Oh did you think that earlier brutal brawl indicated that these guys weren’t friends? Well you’d be wrong because now they’re all working together to beat up Colt Cabana. The entire segment, from the beginning of the match to the end of the interminable beat down lasts about 40 minutes. If you’re wondering 80 minutes of Team Pazuzu is *WAY* too long. Here’s my biggest problem – in the last 18 months we’ve seen this from Dickinson before, and then the next month he’s right back to looking for applause and trying to be a good guy. I’ll give this a general “wait and see” rating but man it took these guys a really long time to get the fireworks factory.

 

M1nute Men v. Garden State Gods: Let me start with the good. The M1nute Men turned “heel” at TFT3 by joining the Crusade For Change in the dumbest non-interference, interference spot that I can remember. This month they come out with new gear, face paint and (and this is the key) wrestling a different style. The key to getting a team over as having changed is to actually change them — M1nute Men did a great job of being more aggressive, but more grounded and doing things that actual bad guys would do instead of doing high spots to pop the crowd and then like, flipping them off. So, nice work by the M1nute Men in showing some actual growth and change. Unfortunately it wasn’t all good — for some unknown reason Mike Quest thought that the midway point in this match would be a great time to just take off all his clothes and wrestle in a speedo and skirt combination. It didn’t make any sense and kind of put an air of comedy on this match which was absolutely out of place and not called for. The second problem that I had is that the match ends with a Crusade For Change beatdown of the Garden State Gods — the second consecutive match that ends  with a prolonged gang style beat down. At least this one had some semblance of storyline behind it – the Gods had won the right to face Carter and Marconi, so Darius, after the beat down, gets on the microphone and forces the match to take place right then and there. Of course at this point it’s semantic and the Crusade pins the Garden State Gods with ease. Unlike the previous beat down that just went on forever with no real pay off, at least this had some direction and the crowd was legitimately involved in this one — so in that regard it’s a significant step up. But at some point I assume somebody watches these shows and maybe decides not to run two consecutive matches/angles that are strikingly similar.

 

David Starr v. Kimber Lee: At this point Kimber Lee’s alligator clutch pin is the most lethal move in Beyond Wrestling right? It can come at any point and it’s an automatic critical kill. My only problem (again) with this match was that it felt like it was only here to set up the post match stuff. After Kim gets the pin, Starr continues to argue with her and JT Dunn comes out to calm people down. This of course brings out Chris Hero who interjects himself into the fray and calms everyone down. After Starr and Kimber leave, Hero slaps Dunn in the face and admonishes him. I guess we’re going right into the next match.

 

Chris Hero & JT Dunn v. Brian Myers & Ryan Galeone: I have a confession to make — I’m not a big Chris Hero fan. Hero is one of those guys that is absolutely in my wheelhouse. I had kind of fallen out of love with independent wrestling around 2008/09 which meant that I missed a lot of Hero’s “peak” but I was never really a fan. With that being said I really liked Hero in this match, to the point where I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say this is my favorite Chris Hero match ever (hyperbole!). I can’t even explain why I liked this match so much. Hero’s strikes all seemed to have purpose and force, which is no small feat but an important aspect of striking for a guy who claims to be a world class striker. I also thought the way all four guys interacted was interesting. I was going to say that Hero and Dunn pausing near the end to time their strikes together showed a lack of focus — but then that exact thing (lack of focus) winds up costing them the match with Dunn being pinned by Galeone via backslide. I also really liked the post match stuff where Dunn reacted childish, shoving both Myers and Galeone until Hero got between them and basically had to straighten Dunn out. It plays off their mentor/mentee relationship while also establishing Dunn as the wildcard in this relationship. I am interested to see where this goes — which is a significant step up from some of the other things I’ve said in this review.

 

*Fans Bring the Weapons*

Matt Tremont v. Stockade: At the outset I need to mention that Matt Tremont is in rarified air at Fete Music. I don’t think his popularity rises to the level of Biff Busick or Dan Barry but I’d argue that outside of those two, there isn’t anyone in Beyond Wrestling more connected to the fans than Tremont. This match is a great example of why because this match is awesome. I am not a fan of deathmatch wrestling, or ultraviolence, but Tremont has a way of working these matches so that they don’t just seem like blood and gore fests. I defy anyone to not enjoy a match that features a barb wire Christmas tree. Stockade deserves some love as well because he upheld his end of the bargain, dishing out some violence but also taking some shots so that you understand that both guys were invested in this type of mayhem. I don’t think this was better than Busick/Tremont which was the first “Fans Bring the Weapons” match in Beyond Wrestling, but it was still excellent, and the finish was awesome. I was surprised that Stockade won the match, having already won the Bullrope Match at “TFT3” but I don’t think it was a bad decision either. Tremont is obviously invested in the success of Stockade as he’s essentially making him all over the wrestling landscape and this was no difference.  At this point I’d watch Matt Tremont in literally any situation but it’s obvious that he’s incredibly talented in laying out these ultraviolent matches and even to a non-fan his passion and his skill in this environment is recognizable. So yeah, keep up the great work Matt Tremont, you’re awesome.

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. Da Hoodz: Let me just start by saying that I’m glad Dan Barry isn’t dead. If you’ve seen this match than you know what I’m referencing. This match really convincing me that I’ve watched too many tag team matches in the last couple of days because it had every element that I really love and yet, I dunno, it didn’t exactly work for me. One thing about independent wrestling that I think can end is the idea that every tag team match has to be tornado tag rules. Most matches start off with like six minutes of regular tag team work and then everything just breaks apart and we never really get tags again. I’m kind of over that. If that’s going to be the system I’d prefer that U.S indys use Dragon Gate rules which at least require someone to go out of the ring before the next guy comes in.  This match started like that and then devolved into chaos, which in a four team or more situation I understand but this was a standard tag match between the top two regular tag teams on the Beyond roster. I’m just not crazy about everyone in the ring together at the same time. I’m also going to cut this match some slack – Dan Barry legitimately landed on his skull on the floor and I have to imagine that the brain damage he was suffering through might have played into the final five minutes or so. Even in a match that I didn’t totally love, this was still two great teams working a solid match together – the issue I really have is that I’ve seen these two teams in the ring together in better matches. I know what they’re capable of  and I’m not sure this ever reached that extra level (again, keep in mind, Dan Barry almost died so all is excused, survival trumps all).

 

Michael Bennett v. Biff Busick: This match is excellent. It’s kind of everything that I’ve talked about in this review which is to say focused and with a point. This match is intending to tell a story and they don’t waste time telling it — well almost, there are two different spots on the stage which probably weren’t really needed, but for the most part nothing felt unnecessary. I don’t need to tell you that a Biff Busick match in Fete Music was great, it’s a bit redundant at this point so instead I’m going to give some love to Michael Bennett. How many wrestlers embrace being true heels on the independent circuit? Not many. I assume a lot of that has to do with the fact that these guys make money on their ability to connect with a crowd, and nobody really wants to be universally loathed. I mean I criticized Chris Dickinson for it in this review. When you think of the top heels, guys like the Bullet Club, Adam Cole, Eddie Kingston — these guys are all bad guys who are popular and as such, sell merchandise. Bennett really isn’t that. Bennett does bad guy things, he rubs it in your face that he’s married to a woman that basically every male wrestling fan over the age of like 22 has had a crush on for years and oh by the way he’s also stealing your favorite WWE (former) wrestlers moves while being married to that guys ex-girlfriend. Bennett is also now incorporating attacking the crowd verbally into his schtick, which makes him about a pair of basketball shorts away from actually becoming early 2000’s CM Punk. Except, hell even early 2000’s CM Punk had the straight edge thing that endeared some members of the crowd to him. Bennett doesn’t even have that. He is literally only a heel with basically no redeeming quality (please disregard the fact that Michael Bennett has been incredibly gracious and kind to me when we’ve been within talking distance). I really admire the fact that he’s embraced being a true heel in an era where almost nobody wants to have that label. For the record I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Darius Carter has a similar trait which I equally respect.

 

*Best 3 out of 5 Falls*

Dave Cole v. Anthony Stone:  Incredible. Bell rings, Cole hits a brutal looking bit boot in the corner, top rope Dave Cole  bomb and Cole pins Stone within the first twenty seconds of the match. That basically set in motion how the rest of this match was going to play out. By way of history I should mention that to this point these two had previously been involved in 7 singles matches against each other, and were tied 3-3. So this is the tie breaker/feud ender. It’s the perfect type of match for this feud because though there has never been a 3 out of 5 falls match in Fete Music, it is a signature Beyond Wrestling match. If you go back through the history of Beyond Wrestling you’ll see that this match style pops up often. So to have it as the end-all-be-all of this particular feud seems fitting. One thing that I don’t really like about these types of matches is that they necessarily require you to break the rules of professional wrestling. You have to ignore the fact that in this match 5 falls take place, which means 4 times someone just got pinned and then got back up and continued a match where these two guys brutalized each other. I accept that as a necessary element of any multiple falls match – and I’m willing to excuse it here because holy mother of shit this match was excellent. Stone played a great underdog here, going down quickly 2-0 before storming back and winning the match 3-2. Cole for his part was excellent as the heavy, hitting some stiff and brutal looking strikes and keeping everything moving towards a logical conclusion. I’ve said before that these two were born to wrestle each other and nothing that happened here disproved that theory.  This was a great choice for the main event, and a perfect match to end 2014 on. For a company that booked most of the biggest names on the independent circuit to come to Fete Music in 2014 to go out with two essentially home grown talents putting on an amazing match is fitting. Even though names like the Young Bucks gain all the attention, guys like Stone and Cole were secretly the engines that powered the Beyond Wrestling machine in 2014 and it was great that the company let them close out the year in this fashion. This is a great motivator for everyone, Stone/Cole 1 took place at the RWA Chop Shop, the feud grew and grew and wound up being the main event of the final show of 2014 — that’s a great motivator for anyone who gets booked on the Dojo Wars shows, and it’s a great sign that while Beyond does bring in the big names, they’re always looking to build from within.


Verdict:
This was a great show. I know I bitched about the pacing in some of the segments, but honestly the good stuff far out weighed the bad stuff. Essentially everything from David Starr/Kimber Lee to the end was really good, and AR Fox/Shynron was excellent.  I really liked this show, I loved the main event. I do think that there was a little too much emphasis on “post match” stuff, mainly the Team Pazuzu stuff drove me crazy because their matches all went too long, and their post match stuff was all too long as well. On the flip side i did like the Crusade For Change stuff because it elicited a response from the crowd and if they’re booing it’s better than if they’re silent.  I would absolutely recommend this show, and I bet if you were there live that it’s translates even better on video because this seemed like it was a *super* long night at Fete Music and bless the crowd for hanging in there and giving some passion during the main event. I know how hard it is to stand around Fete Music during these drawn out shows and sometimes you lose the crowd by the end of the night, but it’s a testament to the crowd and to Anthony Stone and Dave Cole that everyone seemed to remain invested right to the end.

Posted in Beyond Wrestling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can I Interest You in Three Young Bucks Matches in One Night? Beyond Wrestling “TFT3″ Reviewed

So it’s Beyond Wrestling week here and as a major component of that my intent is to post reviews of all the Beyond shows which I’ve neglected up to this point. We’re starting together with “Tournament for Tomorrow 3″ and will be following up with “Ends Meet” and “Hit & Run” before the end of the week. As a reminder, Beyond Wrestling will present “King of Arts” at Fete Music on March 1st and you can (and should) buy your tickets right now. Also if you’re looking to pick up copies of these Beyond shows, they’re now all available through Smart Mark Video.

As a warning, I’m switching up my regular style of reviews because honestly there are a lot of hours to get through here and I want to make sure that this is done before Friday. Also you should note that I am reviewing the “raw footage w/ wrestler commentary’ which I don’t think impacts my feelings about the show, but it might, so keep that in mind.

Da Hoodz v. The Young Bucks: This was absolutely the right match to open the show and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t think that there was much question that Da Hoodz were going to lose this match, but the road that they took to get to the foregone conclusion of an outcome was great. Da Hoodz looked every bit as good as the Bucks in this match and it’s not easy to convey a story that two teams are equal when one of the teams is the best tag team in the world, but they did it here. Kris Pyro always looks good in situations where he can use his speed, but Davey Cash looked really good during this match as well, including a nice segment where he basically runs roughshod over both Jacksons. The end, with Pyro moonsaulting into a double superkick and Cash being laid out with the IndyTaker for three was excellent and the crowd actually boo’d the finish. When you can get an independent wrestling crowd to boo the Young Bucks winning a match – you’ve accomplished something special.  Da Hoodz won’t advance in the tournament, but they should feel good that they went toe to toe with the best tag team in the world and didn’t look out of place at all. Kudos to the live crowd at Fete for the “thank you both” chant aimed at Da Hoodz, one because Da Hoodz deserved the recognition, but also in storyline terms this tournament came about because of Da Hoodz.

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. The Gentlemen’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy w/ Swamp Monster): I could talk about this match in total, but I’d rather just talk about Orange Cassidy. I’m not sure Cassidy gets enough credit for what he does. I can’t even begin to think how difficult it must be to wrestle with the style that Cassidy wrestles with. There are times when he’s legitimately just walking in a very deliberate pace but he’s always hitting his spots, he’s always in the right place – it’s actually pretty impressive. Also, it’s kind of a one note bit, but he’s able to keep a crowd in his hands throughout this match (in particular) and he deserves credit for that too. The match itself struggled at times because I think Barry and Carr work best when they’re the comic relief, and in this match they weren’t and it’s tough to take them seriously as the heavy (so to speak). Team TREMENDOUS advances in the tournament though after Dan Barry pins Orange Cassidy and this one was fun but I was just absorbed by Orange Cassidy which I think is a testament to him.

 

The Osirian Portal v. The Juicy Product: Lemme say this — I won’t begrudge you if you really dug this match. I understand that there is a very large group of wrestling fans that will watch this thing and just eat it up. Hell I’m in that group most of the time — but for some reason this thing just didn’t work for me. I don’t know when I turned on the Juicy Product but something about the act and the obvious Young Bucks cosplay thing just doesn’t work for me. It’s a tone deaf adaptation, essentially doing things that the Bucks do, but without the charisma or the purpose that the Bucks have. It might not make sense, but to me the Bucks aren’t impersonating DX (or the nWo) they’re putting their own twist on those acts, it’s a tribute. The Juicy Product is doing an impression of a team doing a tribute of someone else – and a copy of a copy of a copy is just never going to work. This match also was essentially tornado tag, no tags, everyone in the ring just hitting crazy finishing moves all over the place and kicking out. At one point JT Dunn even hits Amasis with a Canadian Destroyer on the ring apron and it’s like a transition. I dunno maybe it’s just me – I liked the stuff the Juicy Product was doing in between the worm and the dancing and the crotch chops, the stuff that got them to a place where people were putting them in the same sentence as the Young Bucks. The rest of it just never clicked for me and I was glad when it ended. For purposes of the tournament the JP move on.

 

Doom Patrol v. Da Hit Squad: I feel like a broken record here but could someone please tell me what in the world Chris Dickinson is doing? Sometimes he’s trying to be a good guy, sometimes he’s trying to be the devil may care bad ass, and other times (like early in this match) he’s a chickenshit heel. I maintain that Dickinson has the ability and the charisma to be the most important guy in the room at Fete, but he’s naturally a badass, devil-may-care type who plays like cocky, comedy character because he wants the crowd to love him. I hate it and it distracts me. The crowd would love him if he just embraced who he is naturally, instead he hedges his bets and it just ruins it for me. Really I’m just asking Dickinson to do what Jaka did in this match because Jaka was awesome here. Da Hit Squad was amazing. Actually the match itself (outside of my criticism of Dickinson) was great. The crowd ate it up, it was hard hitting and physical as it needed to be and it told a story (unlike the previous match which was just a series of finishers and taunts for 10 minutes). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am too much of a Kobashi fan to not get a little bent out of shape when Monsta Mack kicked out of a Burning Hammer at one, but at the same time I did chuckle. My only complaint about this match is that it went too long, by the end Da Hit Squad were wrestling like someone had thrown pianos on their respective backs, but otherwise this was a pretty fun brawl.

 

Silver Ant v. Eddie Edwards: This match was probably exactly what you thought it would be. If you like Eddie Edwards (like I do) than you will have enjoyed this match (which I did). On the other hand if you’re one of those people that thinks Edwards is a cheese and white bread type of performer than you can skip this one. It started off technical, the brawling picked up in the middle and Edwards was able to take advantage of Silver Ant’s injured knee to get Silver Ant to tap out to the single leg crab. I had fun, the crowd enjoyed it, and on a moments notice I’d say it’s Silver Ant’s best Beyond Wrestling performance even in a loss.

 

Pinkie Sanchez v. Brian Cage: This match was delightful. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Brian Cage match more. The sneaky thing about Cage is that everyone wants to put him into matches with other big guys for a hoss fight because he’s such a freak, but Cage is infinitely better in matches against smaller guys. Pinkie for his part is an insane person, so the dichotomy between these two is pitch perfect.  Honestly as of this point in the show, this is my favorite match and it’s not even close. Pinkie doing the body builder poses at the beginning, Cage catching Pinkie in a vertical suplex and running around the outside of the ring with him over his head, the terrible reverse rana that was awesome and hilarious and bad. The whole thing worked for me and I really dug it.

 

Doom Patrol v. Young Bucks: This is going to sound offensive or dismissive but I honestly can’t remember this match and I literally just finished watching it. I know the Bucks won with the package piledriver/superkick combo on Dickinson. Other than that there was nothing particularly memorable here. I thought it was interesting because the Bucks were brought into a more brawl oriented match which isn’t their style but they adapted well. Where the opening match made Da Hoodz seem on par with the Bucks, this match didn’t really feel like the Bucks were taken to the brink, but I also understand that at some point when you’re wrestling three times in one night that you can’t have every match be a knock down, drag out brawl. It was fine, if unforgettable if that makes sense. The highlight probably was Matt stealing the microphone before the match from Rich Palladino and introducing the Bucks as the “Greatest tag team in the world.”

 

Team TREMENDOUS v. Juicy Product: On the one hand, I liked this match more than the Juicy Product’s first round match because they kept the taunts to a minimum and just wrestled. On the other hand this match was kind of boring. I think the same problem plagued this match that plagued the Bucks second round match which is that it’s really hard to go full throttle for three matches in one night, so unfortunately the middle match suffers.  I’d say that I would like to see these two teams face each other in a different setting but the post match shenanigans pretty much confirms that won’t happen. Dunn storms out after blaming Starr for losing the match claiming it was supposed to be us “and the Young Bucks”. Here’s the problem — Dunn flips out on Starr (unfairly I might add) and walks out on his partner. So Dunn is the heel. Except that Starr then throws some shade at Kimber Lee, blaming her for this, during a time when the crowd is chanting “Thank You David” — so now he’s the heel. Basically the only person who doesn’t come off like an asshole in this segment is Kimber Lee, which I’m almost certain wasn’t the point.

 

*Texas Bullrope Match*

Matt Tremont v. Stockade: I love Beyond Wrestling. Before this match starts you can just hear a kid’s voice in the crowd yell “this is gonna be awesome!” Tremont is absolutely on the short list of most popular guys at Fete Music. The fact that Tremont is so beloved in Fete made this match a bit of a problem because Stockade wins after hitting Tremont with a Michinoku Driver on an open chair. The crowd didn’t really want to see Stockade win, so you could feel the air suck out of the room a bit. I’ll say that this is a tough stipulation to make work but these two did a hell of a job with it. Extra points to Tremont for calling back to the history of the Bull Rope Match and doing some Dusty Rhodes (daddy) bionic elbows. Just a solid brawl between two big hosses, I can’t be mad at that. After the match Tremont talks about the match being “old school” and then Tremont tells Stockade that they are not done, this was only Chapter 2. Next time we’re in Providence, Rhode Island, Tremont says he’s asking the fans to bring the weapons. Crowd loves that announcement because of course they do.

 

*TFT3:16 Finals*

Biff Busick & Drew Gulak v. Milk Chocolate v. Ninjas With Altitude v. Garden State Gods: You really do need to experience a Biff Busick entrance at Fete Music, it’s magic. For Beyond Wrestling this is the equivalent of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns against the Usos, Gold & Stardust and Miz & Mizdow, which is to say that it’s almost unfair — Gulak and Busick are super powered. I thought very highly of this match but I have to mention that this match does feature literally the worst, most nonsensical example of outside interference leading to a team getting eliminated that I can ever remember. Basically TJ Marconi and Darius Carter show up and distract the Garden State Gods, then two Guy Fawkes mask wearing dudes jump on the apron, the Gods turn their attention to the mask wearing guys, WHO NEVER GET IN THE RING, they unmask to reveal the M1nute Men, who then bail – this NOTHING HAPPENING is enough to distract Eric Corvis and force him out of the ring and allow Shynron to hit a spinning ace crusher on Mike Quest for the pin. If it sounds dumb than I’m doing a good job explaining it, because it was dumb. But here’s the thing it was effective in removing the Garden State Gods and leaving just the Ninjas with Altitude in the ring against Drew Gulak & Biff Busick. When I tell you that something is magic, you should trust me — the portion of this match between the final two teams was absolutely magic. Just four guys who have skill sets that perfectly compliment and play off one another. Shynron and Kitsune brought the speed and the kicks, Gulak and Busick provided perfect bases for the acrobatic offense, and had the power to counter things where necessary. Shynron at one point goes coast to coast the long way, jumping the entire span of the ring to dropkick Gulak in the corner and splash Busick — just incredible. I can’t even run down the insane offense here, but the finish was excellent with Gulak and Busick powerbombing Kitsune and Shynron together – just a mass of tangled humanity. The early portion of the match had me scared that it wouldn’t deliver, but the final two teams cleared a very high bar and as of this point in the show had beyond a shadow of a doubt stolen the show. I can’t imagine that the Bucks or Team TREMENDOUS were excited to try and follow that.

 

*TFT3 Finals*

The Young Bucks v. Team TREMENDOUS: Sometimes a wrestling match just has the power to make you feel good. That’s what this match did to me. It took me out of my critical mindset, it made me forget that I was going to be writing a review, and it allowed me to just sit back, smile and enjoy two teams operating at the highest level, tell a compelling story. Before watching this match I knew how it ended. I knew that Team TREMENDOUS won the tournament so I could deduce that Dan Barry wasn’t going to get pinned by the IndyTaker, or the superkick/package piledriver combo — but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t let myself get taken away by the story. When Barry kicked out of the second Bucks finisher (package piledriver/superkick) I actually laughed. I was convinced the match was over, and that somehow this video that I was watching was going to chance the space/time continuum as I knew it to exist. This match was excellent and it told a compelling story that actually began during the “Alive & Kicking” main event. Dan Barry’s resilence is the story — Dan Barry’s heart, and his determination is the story. The Young Bucks are the best tag team in the world, but on this night, no matter what they threw at Team TREMENDOUS it would not be enough. After the match Matt Jackson grabs the microphone and says “you two just beat the best tag team in the world, congratulations — enjoy it” which is about the most effusive praise you’ll ever get in the ring from either of the Bucks and it was well deserved. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed the end of a show more than Dan and Bill hugging in the middle of the ring along after winning the TFT3. That was awesome.


The Verdict:
This entire show would get my recommendation just for everything that happens from the elimination of the Garden State Gods during the TFT3:16  finals right through Dan and Bill hugging to end the show. I can’t imagine that there will ever be a show that featured three different Young Bucks matches and three different Team TREMENDOUS matches that I wouldn’t highly recommend. It didn’t all work — and you could tell that the weekend of wrestling took its toll on some of the people involved (the fans included), but seriously the last fifty minutes or so of this show is about as good as independent wrestling can be.

Posted in Beyond Wrestling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Beginning in Osaka (02.11.2015) Reviewed

I wasn’t sure how to feel about the New Beginning in Osaka card before watching it. I won’t spoil my thoughts until the end but this show felt a little recycled to me and while I’m interested to see where we’re going from here, it was tough for me to shake the feeling that I had seen this show before.

Sho Tanaka v. Yohei Komatsu: I don’t want this to come out wrong but when these two are in the ring together it’s not super easy to identify them quickly. They’re both wearing black trunks, black boots, left knee brace. I think it’s fun that these two are basically learning on the job together as Tanakas’ entire entrance video is just clips of him wrestling Yohei Komatsu. While Tanaka got the win, Komatus shined in this one for me — his facial expressions were amazing when he was hooked in the single leg crab. Otherwise it was a bit bland but I give extra credit points for great facial work.

Capt. New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi v. Mascara Dorada & Tiger Mask IV: What happened here? Did New Japan just decide to throw all of the guys who typically take pinfall loses and put them into a match together? This thing kind of makes sense later on when it becomes clear that Dorada is going to be going after the Jr. Heavyweight Title but this match was a bit of a mess. It felt like Dorada had to move in half speed and most of his time in the ring was indiscriminately jumping around aimlessly and then pausing to wait for someone like Nakanishi to catch up to him. I dunno, I was glad when this was over. Dorada got the small package pinfall over Captain New Japan because I guess we’re trying to protect Capt. New Japan now?

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger v. Chase Owens & Rob Conway: Is it possible for a highlight of a match to simply be accessories? Bruce Tharpe is amazing. As good as Komatsu’s facial expressions were in the opener, Bruce Tharpe murders all expectations in this segment just going overboard on being great, not to mention he’s wearing a gold jacket with gold sunglasses. Rob Conway for his part is playing a weird Macho Man hybrid where he happens to have the most insane America jacket, cowboy hat, war medals? pinned to his chest look going that I’ve ever seen. Rob Conway is literally a billboard for accessories and I love him for it. It’s also amazing watching this match that Liger remains *super* popular in Japan. Dude has been the most popular guy in the room for like 30+ years, even Ric Flair went through periods where people wanted to see someone else. Chase Owens, the most Create-A-Wrestler lookin’ dude in all of Japan at this point winds up getting a pinfall win over Liger because I assume we’re building tension before their NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title rematch.

 

Kota Ibushi v. Tomoaki Honma: This match exceeded my expectations. I don’t know why I was concerned about it — Honma has an uncanny ability to get the crowd to fully commit to his cause, even when everyone is relatively certain that it’s a losing one. Both guys here made the other look like a million bucks and the crowd in Osaka ate this one up. I like that Ibushi isn’t just using his speed and kicks to take advantage of presumably slower heavyweights — he’s committed to matching them power for power because he truly believes that he can hang with any heavyweight, no guile necessary. The spot in the end where Ibushi turns Honma inside out with a lariat and drops him with a powerbomb was a nice touch. Also a nice bit of work was that Honma wouldn’t stay down for the power moves – and it took Ibushi hitting a 450 splash to put Honma away. I really liked this match – the crowd was heavily involved, Honma looked strong and Ibushi winds up looking even stronger because he went toe to toe with a heavyweight, took everything that Honma had and was still able to win. Obviously beating Honma and beating someone like Nakamura is significantly different, but for the time being it’s a good step in the right direction for Ibushi.

*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match*

reDRagon (c) v. Time Splitters v. The Young Bucks: Let me just say off the top that I went into this match with some significant reservations. It has felt (it may not be true, but it has felt) like some assemblage of these three teams have been involved in every Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title match since Wrestle Kingdom 8. I started to feel like maybe these guys were getting stale together. Through the first maybe 7-9 minutes of this match I thought I was vindicated because I wasn’t really liking the match. It was a good match but it was one I had seen before. All three of these teams are so good though that even in a match that I’ve seen before they add enough wrinkles that I find myself just wrapped up in the moment by the time it’s over. As weird as it sounds, I never thought reDRagon could retain. Most of the match felt like there was clearly going to be a title change — but I have to confess that after the Indy Taker didn’t finish it, I thought KUSHIDA was going to get the pin. That the Bucks won the match to become 2x IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions was a bit of a surprise. Now I’m just hoping that we get some freshening up of the division because as wonderful as these three teams are together, it’s time to get some new blood in the water.

*IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match*

Kenny Omega (c) v. Ryusuke Taguchi: Kenny Omega is an anime character come to life. His facial expressions, his body movement, it’s all so over exaggerated and intense and I just love watching him walk around the ring. Taguchi on the other hand should don his Apollo 55 spacesuit and blast off to another planet. The strangest part of this match was the forced sodomoy by both guys using the Bullet Club flag. Apparently that wasn’t a DQ, though the referee did break up Omega using his chainsaw arm on Taguchi, so at least you know what is and is not allowed in these types of matches. The biggest cheer of the night probably came after Omega retained the belt and proceeded to destroy Taguchi (with a three man Indy Taker alongside the Young Bucks on a chair). When Mascara Dorada came out and made it very clear that he’s coming for the Jr. heavyweight title, the crowd seemed to finally care about what was happening in the ring — that’s not a great sign for the Funky Weapon. This match was overall fine, I liked their WK9 match more and I’ll be happy if Taguchi is away from the title scene for awhile.

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi) v. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano): Yikes. Look I like the story being told of Okada basically running through the Bullet Club to reclaim his mojo and get back to the top of the mountain. I think it’s a compelling use of Okada and a good way to keep him away from the main event for a little while. I also understand that in order to tell that story sometimes you’re going to get this match. Is Sakuraba even in CHAOS? Five of the six guys in this match I have no use for – especially if Fale isn’t going to hit the Bad Luck Fall. Okada is the focal point throughout and gets the pinfall win for his team and I’m just happy this one is over.

 

Yuji Nagata, Tetsuya Naito & Satoshi Kojima v. Shinsuke Nakamura, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii: At the top lets get out of the way that Shinsuke Nakamura has more movement during his ring entrance on this show than Tomohiro Ishii has had during the entire time I’ve been regularly watching New Japan (about two years). I generally don’t enjoy these matches which are essentially just three singles matches happening at one time — but this one was ok to me. It was relatively paint-by-numbers for the most part, but near the end Naito winds up getting busted open inside his mouth and he stops before the Stardust Press and smiles (I assume at his own image on the entrance ramp screen) and it was a cool visual. I’m sure Naito knows exactly what he is — if he’s a good guy, or a cocky, arrogant heel but I wish he’d embrace the hate because he’s so more more convincing as an arrogant heel. Naito pins YOSHI-HASHI after a Stardust Press because YOSHI-HASHI.

*IWGP Tag Team Championship*

Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata) v. Bullet Club (Gallows & Anderson): I’m not entirely sure that I’m on board with another Bullet Club tag team title reign but I really liked this match. I really liked their WK9 match too. These are two teams that have really good chemsitry and their strengths play off one another really well. All that being said, did we really need a title change at WK9 only to switch the belts right back to the Bullet Club in Meiyu Tag’s first meaningful defense. Bullet Club had a year long title reign, interrupted by a month of Meiyu Tag when New Japan is essentially on hiatus, and then we come right back with Bullet Club. I don’t know if I’m ok with that but I’m willing to see where this thing goes. At least the match was solid.

*IWGP Heavyweight Championship*

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v. AJ Styles: My initial thought is — what?! By now you already know that AJ Styles wins to regain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and I’m a bit confused as to the timeline. Putting this into historical context though, Scott Norton was the last gaijin to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title more than once, and he did that in March 2001.  I think the finish threw me for a loop because I did like this match as it was happening. In the middle of the action Tanahashi hit his High Fly Flow to the outside and took out the entire Bullet Club. In the act though he smashed his head against Matt Jackson and was busted wide open. It was a pretty serious cut that would bleed regularly for the rest of the match. I think the blood added a ton of drama to the match. I have no real issue with Styles winning, he hit the Styles Clash and pinned Tanahashi clean but it’s a weird story right? We’re now left with two challengers, Okada who is trying to get his mojo back by running through the Bullet Club (to presumably Styles now), and Tanahashi who is the Ace, who was trying to avenge his friend’s broken neck and who himself wound up injured and beaten at the hands of the Bullet Club. Essentially we’re back in the Spring/Fall of 2014 again. Much like the other title changes on this show I’m willing to see where this one goes.


Verdict:
New Beginning in Osaka felt a little bit like a re-run. We’ve launched 2015 and the Bullet Club has re-established themselves as the top of the food chain. Coming into this show they held only the Jr. Heavyweight Title. Leaving Osaka the Bullet Club now has the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag, Heavyweight Tag, Jr. Heavyweight, and Heavyweight Title. The show itself goes off with Karl Anderson holding court in the ring, the Bullet Club victorious and it’s hard not to feel like we haven’t just hit the reset button and gone back to mid-2014. I think it’s an interesting position that New Japan is now in. The Bullet Club went from white hot lightning through a strange transition (Devitt to AJ Styles) and then into a period of stagnation and now we find them basically coming back around again – it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the roster mounts a response.

Posted in NJPW | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment