Tag Archives: Josh Barnett

Wrestle Kingdom 10 Part 2 Presented by NJPW and AXSTV


      We reviewed Part 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 10 earlier this week. Last night, AXSTV and New Japan Pro Wrestling brought us Part 2 of the January 4, 2016 matches from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The first broadcast was amazing and so this one is expected to be just as good.

      The first bout is the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship featuring Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe against Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga. Before the match starts Yano spits and throws water on his opponents and all six men start brawling with each other. It’s chaos in the early going as The Briscoes double team Takahashi outside the ring. Yano and Tonga finally slow things down as the legal men fighting in the ring with their respective teammates on the apron. Yano is isolated in the corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. He sits on Yano’s chest to try and get the pin, but he kicks out at two. All three Bullet Club members get in the ring and triple-team Yano after taking out The Briscoes. Fale squashes him in the corner and Yano desperately needs to make a tag.

      Mark Briscoe gets the tag against Takahashi and puts on a nice series of offense. Takahashi counters with a fisherman’s buster and then tags Tonga in. Jay Briscoe gets the tag and plants Tonga, cover but kick out. Huge neckbreaker by Jay but Tonga again kicks out. Jim Ross  and Josh Barnett question the slow count by the ref. Tonga takes control for a moment but Jay battles back. Jay gets Tonga up on his shoulder trying to slam him down, but Tonga holds on to the top rope for dear life. Yano runs over with a steel chair and smashes it down on Tonga’s hands, forcing him to let go. Mark leaps off the top rope and hits Doomsday Device with his brother, planting Tonga. Jay covers for the three count and the team of Jay and Mark Briscoe and Yano are the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Champions!

      The second match of the night is Los Ingobernables de Japon member and villainous heel Tetsuya Naito taking on Hirooki Goto. His fellow Los Ingobernables members, Bushi and EVIL, accompany Naito to the ring which is not good news for his opponent, Goto, who comes out all alone. Naito attacks a camera man before the match for getting too close to him. Before the match starts EVIL and Bushi attack Goto from behind. Naito rolls in and starts fighting Goto as the bell rings. But Goto isn’t staying down for long, he forces Naito to roll out of the ring with his attack. As Goto starts fighting Naito, EVIL attacks from behind and viciously throws Goto into the steel guard rail. Ouch.

      EVIL puts a chair on Gotos neck and then whacks it with another chair. Naito sets up a table and gets Goto up on the apron. Naito hits a neckbreaker into the table on Goto. Back in the ring, Goto hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope which is really amazing. He covers, but Naito miraculously kicks out at two and we head to commercial. When we return, Naito and Goto battle in the center of the ring. Naito hits a hurricanrana off the top rope and gets a near fall on Goto. The two trade forearms in the middle and work the crowd into a frenzy. Goto picks up Naito and hits a neckbreaker, driving Naito down onto his knee. Goto tries to kick Naito, but Naito grabs his foot and swings it into the ref, knocking him to the mat. Doesn’t take long for EVIL to come in and hold Goto as Bushi spits mist at him.

      But Goto moves and the mist hits EVIL. Goto plants Bushi and turns to face Naito. Naito kicks Goto in the groan and covers. The ref has recovered, he counts but only a two count. Goto lifts Naito and hits his Shouten Kai suplex finisher. He covers and that’s the ball game. Goto wins an incredible match! Nice final couple of minutes at the end of that one with lovely back and forth with everyone setting up a strong finish. Really enjoyed that one. Goto stands alone and overcomes incredible odds. After the match, he is interviewed backstage and asked about his victory. He says it was sort of a hollow victory because he was fighting Naito and it wasn’t for a title. He also says he has never wrestled in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. He says this year he will become the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling.

      The final match of the night was for the IWGP Tag Team Championship with champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows being challenged by Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. Anderson and Honma start things off. Anderson rakes the eyes of Honma and then moves out of the way of Honma’s falling headbutt. Gallows tagged in and he punches Honma in the corner. Anderson gets back in and misses with a running senton. Honma tags in Makabe. He makes easy work of Anderson, forcing him to roll out of the ring and regroup. Honma and Makabe double team Gallows, knocking him outside the ring as well. All four men fight out on the floor. Gallows throws Makabe into the guard rail and then clocks him with a chain, as Anderson distracts the ref.

      Back in the ring, Anderson clobbers Makabe with strikes. Gallows tags in and continues attacking Makabe. Honma is outside the ring with blood on the back of his head. Hasn’t stirred much for a few moments. Gallows and Anderson double team Makabe. Anderson covers three times, but Makabe kicks out each time. Makabe with a hard clothesline on Anderson and finally Honma has recovered. Makabe tags him in and he slams Gallows then drops a headbutt on Anderson. Honma chops Anderson in the corner, whips him to the other but Anderson recovers and kicks him away. Gallows trips Honma up and then gets in the ring to help Anderson hit a couple of moves into a cover. Makabe interrupts the count and keeps his team alive.

      Gallows and Anderson set up Honma for the Magic Killer but Makabe breaks it up and knocks Gallows out of the ring. Headbutt on Anderson by Honma. He slams Anderson and then hits the top rope. Unfortunately, Gallows runs in and punches him, stunning Honma. Anderson tries to get a Gun Stun off the top rope, but Honma jumps down onto the apron. Back in the ring, Anderson hits a brutal running powerbomb on Honma but the small man kicks out at two and three-quarters. Honma counters two Gun Stuns in the ring and then headbutts Anderson. Both men are down. Both Gallows and Makabe are tagged in. Nelson Powerslam on Makabe and Gallows covers, but only a near fall. Anderson and Gallows try to tag team Makabe, but he knocks them both down with a double clothesline.

      Makebe and Gallows collide with each other and Makabe wins that exchange with a clothesline. Makabe and Honma set up Anderson for a Headbutt Doomsday Device off the top rope. Honma slams Gallows and then hits a falling headbutt. Makabe climbs the top rope and hits a King Kong Knee Drop and covers. One. Two. Three! Honma and Makabe win! This is the 39-year-old Honma’s first ever championship in the company! What a moment. Wow, fantastic match. After the match, Honma says it is a dream come true. He thanks Makabe and says this is all because of him. The DVR shows another new episode next Friday so you know we’ll be here with coverage. Maybe some Wrestle Kingdom 10 Part 3?? We can only hope. Just a wonderful program with three great matches.

Article by Jamie Curtis Bakerfotoflexer_photo


New Japan Pro Wrestling Match Results and Feedback (09.23.2016)


      Tonight’s matches are from December 19th, 2015 in Korakuen Hall all the way from Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. The first bout on he card is straight out of Mexico as Mascara Dorada defends his CMLL World Welterweight Championship against Japan’s Bushi, a member of Los Ingobernables. You may recognize Dorada from WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic as Gran Metalik. Before the match can begin, one of Bushi’s partners, Naito attacks Dorada. After the bell rings, the winded Dorada is thrown out of the ring and planted on the ground. High-flying action to begin. Back in the ring, Dorada takes control with a dropkick off the ropes. This one goes in and out of the ring several times, much to the crowd’s delight. Energetic offense really showcases the skill of both wrestlers.

      Missile dropkick off the top rope by Bushi and Dorada is down. He recovers and walks across the top rope, hitting a splash on Bushi. Naito tries to help Bushi, but Goto, there in support of Dorada, breaks that up and the pair battle outside the ring. Goto throws Naito into the barricade and kicks him. They fight out into the crowd. Bushi is down and Dorada hits a moonsault off the top rope. Cover, but Bushi somehow kicks out at two and a half. The third member of Los Ingobernables, EVIL, enters the ring to distract the ref. Bushi spits green mist in the face of Dorada, low blows him and bridges him into a cover. Dorada kicks out. Bushi off the top rope hits an MX and pins to win the title! After the match Bushi says before the end of the year he will also win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship which seems unlikely. Maybe he means 2016?

      The second and final match on the card features some tag team action. The team of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata taking on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii. Tanahashi and Okada start as the crowd is all fired up, chanting. Grappling to start, which Tanahashi takes control of. Leg take down by Okada and both men are down grappling on the mat. They separate and the crowd applauds. The next tie up leads to Tanahashi getting a wrist lock that he breaks and steps back from against the ropes. Okada throws Tanahashi into the corner and tags Ishii in. Tanahashi goes and tags Shibata. He goes right after Ishii, putting him in a headlock. The two play a few mind games and then trade forearms. Shibata wins the exchange and then chops Ishii in the corner. He switches places and chops Shibata. Okada tries to interfere and Tanahashi runs across the ring, knocking him off the apron. Headbutt by Ishii.

      Okada holds out a boot and Ishii throws Shibata into it. He tags Okada who sliding dropkicks Shibata on the mat. Neckbreaker by Okada into a cover, but only a one count. Ishii is tagged back in and he kicks and chops Shibata. Okada tagged in and he whips Shibata into the corner. Slam into a stationary Senton and Shibata is reeling. Cover, but a kick out at one as we head into a commercial break. When we return, Shibata is still getting his ass beat by Okada. He throws Okada off the ropes and knees him in the gut. Tanahashi is tagged in and he drops Okada and then knocks Ishii off the apron. Rolling Senton and a cover, but Okada kicks out. Tanahashi dropkicks Okada in the left knee, then puts on a Texas Cloverleaf, but Okada reaches the ropes. Ishii tags in and sprints across the ring, knocking Shibata off the apron.

      Ishii chops Tanahashi into the corner. Then the two trade headbutts. Tanahashi loses that exchange and soon he is in a headlock on the mat. Tanahashi explodes with a Dragon Sleeper, flooring Ishii. He tags Shibata in who kicks Ishii down and then hits Okada off the apron. Running dropkick in the corner by Shibata and he has taken control. He suplexes Ishii and covers, but a kickout at two. Cross arm breaker submission by Shibata, transitioning into a triangle choke. Ishii squirms and screams. Tanahashi keeps Okada from getting in to break it up. Shibata puts more and more pressure on and finally Ishii breaks it by stretching a foot to the bottom rope. Shibata goes to work kicking Ishii. Tanahashi and Okada tag in and they go right after each other.

      Reverse neckbreaker by Okada. He climbs the top rope and drops an elbow on Tanahashi. He does The Rainmaker pose. Tanahashi dropkicks his knee again. Dragon Screw on the same knee and then a Texas Cloverleaf. Okada screams for his partner, but Shibata puts Ishii in an abdominal stretch. Red Shoes asks if Okada wants to quit. Ishii hip tosses Shibata and breaks the hold that Tanahashi has. Okada is writhing in pain and rubbing his knee as Tanahashi hits a sling blade off the ropes. He climbs the top rope, but Ishii blocks it and then suplexes Tanahashi off the second rope. Shibata takes Ishii down, but Okada dropkicks Shibata down! All four men on the mat as we head to what should be our last commercial.

      Tanahashi and Okada trade blows in the center ring when we return. Tanahashi slaps Okada, Okada uppercuts him to the mat. Crowd in a frenzy. Ishii and Shibata are tagged in. They both bounce of the ropes and attack each other. Suplexes traded back and forth. Ishii loses the exchange but both men are down. They get up and Shibata dropkicks Ishii and covers, but short count and a kick out. Chinlock by Shibata, but Okada stops it. Tanahashi throws Okada out of the ring and he and Shibata try to double team Ishii but he counters and plants them both! Sliding clothesline into a cover on Shibata, but he manages to kick out. This Tokyo crowd loves it. Great action throughout this one all the way.

      Choke by Shibata on Ishii. Okada dropkicks Shibata from behind. Shibata recovers and kicks Okada out of the ring. He tries to hit a Penalty Kick on Ishii, but it’s blocked. He headbutts and clothesline Ishii. He slams Ishii and Tanahashi hits High Fly Flow off the top rope. Penalty Kick by Shibata and he pins Ishii for the win! What an outstanding match. That one was fantastic from bell to bell. Trainers come in after the match to check on Ishii. Shibata gets on the mic and says Tanahashi will close the year out. He gives the mic to his partner who calls out Okada. The champ gets in the ring and they face each other. Tanahashi says he doesn’t care about money or love or tears. He is fighting with pride and it’s his pride against Okada because he wants to take NJPW to the next level. Okada says he doesn’t plan to embarrass himself at Tokyo Dome. After the match Tanahashi says there is no more baby or heel. There will just be a winner that will lead New Japan Pro Wrestling into the future.

      Awesome broadcast. Enjoyed that very much. As usual Jim Ross and Josh Barnett called a hell of a program. Great action and really got me excited for WrestleKingdom. The DVR says a new episode records next Friday so we’ll be there with the usual covers. Have a good Friday, wrestling fans!

Article by Jamie Curtis Baker20140601_175649


NJPW Match Results and Feedback (09.09.2016)


      Friday’s episode featured two tag team matches from November 21, 2015 in Korakuen Hall. Both matches are in the World Tag League 2015 Tournament. Big time players in this one, so without further delay let’s review.

      The first match is a Block B Official Match featuring Tatsuya Naito and EVIL taking on Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. EVIL comes to the ring wearing a purple and black cloak and hood, carrying a plastic scythe. Naito comes out wearing his silver skull mask. He gets to the ring and takes the mask off. Instead of Naito, it’s the masked wrestler Bushi. Crowd cheers despite Bushi having apparently now joined Los Ingobernables. Anderson and Gallows of The Bulletclub come out flying solo. Before the bell rings, all four men attack one another in an all out brawl. The bell rings and Anderson and Gallows isolate EVIL, getting him out of the ring. Then Naito gets attacked and dumped outside as well. In front of Bushi, Gallows throws EVIL into the guard rail.

      In the crowd, Anderson puts a hurting on Naito. Crowd in a rare frenzy. Anderson throws Naito out of the steel exit door and then joins Gallows ringside, who is beating EVIL with a chair. They get EVIL in the ring and Anderson takes control. Gallows goes to his tag corner. Naito is shown making his way slowly through the crowd. They spill outside the ring. EVIL puts a chair around the neck of Anderson and throws him into the steel post. Back in the ring, EVIL starts biting Anderson. This one is less of a wrestling match and more of a free-for-all. Ref is really letting them get away with everything but murder here.

      After a commercial break, EVIL and Anderson are actually wrestling in the ring. Spine buster by Anderson and he crawls towards Gallows for the tag. Gallows knocks Naito off the apron and kicks EVIL to the mat. Naito gets the tag and drops Gallows. EVIL comes in and they tag team Gallows into a cover after knocking Anderson off the apron. Two count. Naito attacks the ref in the corner. EVIL is down. Gallows and Anderson tag team Naito. Huge powerbomb by Gallows and a cover. EVIL breaks it up before the three count. Gallows and Anderson get EVIL out of the ring and continue double-teaming Naito. Gallows and Anderson try a Gun Stun. EVIL breaks it up. Kick by Naito on Gallows and then Bushi mists him on the apron. Gallows gets hit with a Tranquilo and Destino by Naito (try saying that five times fast) and Naito covers for the win. Interview afterwards shows EVIL and he says, “Everything is evil.” Bushi says he has decided to follow Naito.

      The second match is from Block A of the tournament. The team of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin go up against Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi. Elgin and Yoshi-Hashi kick off the bout. Elgin throws Yoshi-Hashi across the ring and flexes his bicep. Yoshi-Hashi against the ropes, tries a shoulder tackle but Elgin doesn’t move. He slams Yoshi-Hashi and then drops him with a gorilla press. Vertical suplex and Yoshi-Hashi is reeling. Cover by Elgin, but a kick out. Tanahashi tags in and calls out Okada. Yoshi-Hashi tags him in and they go at it, eventually spilling out of the ring an into the crowd. Ref starts a 20 count. Both get back to the ring at 18. Okada tags Yoshi-Hashi in and he plants Tanahashi, who seems to be singularly focused on Okada. Tanahashi fights back and gets Elgin tagged in. He punches Yoshi-Hashi multiple times and slams him into a cover. Kick out at two. Yoshi-Hashi blocks a powerbomb attempt and tags in Okada. Okada goes to work on Elgin but he manages to tag in Tanahashi who puts Okada down and locks in a cloverleaf submission. Okada fights out and the two keep battling as we head to a commercial break.

      When we return, Yoshi-Hashi and Elgin are fighting. Yoshi-Hashi gets a quick cover on Elgin but he kicks out early. Okada and Yoshi-Hashi tag team Elgin. They plant Elgin and Yoshi-Hashi tries another cover, but Elgin kicks out. He turns the tables and picks up both men. He slams them both and the crowd applauds. That was a really great spot. The crowd starts a chant for Elgin. Elgin then powerbombs Yoshi-Hashi off the top rope. Cover, but Okada breaks it up before the ref can count to three. Yoshi-Hashi rolls up Elgin and almost gets a pinfall. Yoshi-Hashi hits a reverse DDT and then climbs the top rope. He tries a dive off, but Elgin rolls out of the way and Yoshi-Hashi hits the mat hard. Multiple kicks by Yoshi-Hashi and he puts Elgin down for another near fall. Elgin and Tanahashi team together to put Okada down. Elgin powerbombs Yoshi-Hashi into a cover and gets the three count. After the match, Okada and Tanahashi stare each other down. Tanahashi gets on the mic and says Elgin is an amazing partner.

      Very fun episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling. When you see really good tag team action, it makes you remember how weak some other promotions tag divisions are. Tanahashi and Elgin, although fighting their first match as a team, really put on a great show. They are a good duo. Both matches were entertaining and told excellent stories. Thanks once again to Jim Ross and Josh Barnett for their wonderful commentary that only adds to the program. As of right now, my DVR shows another new episode will be on next Friday. We’ll see you then.

Article by Jamie Curtis Baker20140601_175649


NJPW Review and Feedback (08.19.2016)


      Apologies for posting this a few days late. There was just so much going on this weekend, I forgot to check the DVR. Plus with Death Before Dishonor on Friday night, I assumed there would not be a new episode of NJPW airing. But AXSTV decided we needed more, and more is always a good thing. Let’s get started with our review of the latest episode.

      Friday’s episode featured November 7th, 2015 matches from Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, in Namba, Osaka, Japan. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett on commentary, as always. The first match is Ricochet and Matt Sydal vs Rocky Romero and Beretta in the Super Junior Tag Tournament Finals. Richochet and Romero kick things off, action is fast paced to start. Sydal tags in and he and Richochet double team Romero. Near fall. Both teams utilizing their tags and partners really well in the opening moments. A lot of time is spent with all four guys in the ring just whooping ass. The ref lets it go and we all get to witness an exceptional tag team match. Ricochet hits an amazing flip off the top rope to the outside. In the ring, Sydal does the same and gets a near fall. Richochet and Matt Sydal hit a duo of Shooting Star Presses and do a double count pinfall for the win. Exciting match, but we could have easily given it another 7 or 8 minutes.

      The second bout features Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata taking on Kazuchika Okada and Kazushi Sakuraba. Sakuraba and Shibata kick things off with some mat work, grappling. The pair are evenly matched and neither gets the upper-hand in the early going. Shibata gets locked in a vicious submission. His face goes red and he starts to fade. Shibata uses his strength to drag Sakuraba over to the ropes and gets the break. Okada gets tagged in and immediately dropkicks Shibata. Okada and Sakuraba take clear control outside of the ring. They work well in tandem. Stiff kicks by Sakuraba on Shibata, flooring him to the mat. All four of these guys are damn fine wrestlers and you won’t find much better out of Japan. World premiere athletes is the only way to describe them. High Fly Flow by Tanahashi leaves Shibata to hit Got TO Sleep on Sakuraba for the pinfall. Excellent stuff. After the match Tanahashi calls out Okada and they face off in the ring. Tanahashi says the day he becomes champion is approaching. He then attacks Okada as security comes in to separate them. Okada fights back and they can barely keep them apart. They battle down outside the ring. Okada clocks Tanahashi multiple times with his briefcase. He gets on the mic and screams, “Come get me, you fool!” Then he leaps on Tanahashi. Finally, they break it up. Okada is being interviewed backstage and Tanahashi attacks him again! Wow. That was intense.

      The final match of the night is Hirooki Goto vs Evil. I am going to be brief on this as I just have too many plates spinning trying to write this at 5PM on a Sunday and also get ready for SummerSlam. Evil runs the table to start as the action is slow grinding. We got to see Evil on Friday at Death Before Dishonor. He is a very methodical heel, and he pulls no punches. Evil bites Goto on the neck at one point. Goto finally gets some offense in and a near fall. Crowd mostly flat throughout this one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. Japan crowds are much different than over in the States. Goto gets a submission on, as Evil screams in pain. Naito walks down and dropkicks Goto off his partner. He shoves the ref aside and picks Goto up. Goto fights back but then takes a lowblow and Destino finisher. The ref calls for the bell. Goto wins via disqualification. Naito attacks Goto and the security that runs in to save him. Shibata runs down and gets Naito and evil out of the ring.

      Some great tag team action for this broadcast. And the main event match set up some interesting feuds in the future. I look forward to seeing another episode next week on AXSTV. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to eat some chili and watch SummerSlam!

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Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo


New Japan Pro Wrestling Review and Feedback (08.05.2016)


      I had to stop and wonder if maybe today was my birthday and I just forgot. I woke up, turned on the television and saw three all new episodes of New Japan Pro Wrestling on the DVR. I cannot wait to start watching, so let’s get started. The three broadcasts feature matches from October 12th, 2015 Ryogoku Kokugikan, also known as Ryougoku Sumo Hall, from Sumida, Japan. The matches will be presented in three parts.

Part One

      First bout on the first episode features Tomoaki Honma versus Yoshi-Hashi. Yoshi-Hashi comes out first, brandishing a long, red walking stick. Yoshi-Hashi goes right for Honma’s injured lower back which is taped up. They spill outside the ring and Yoshi-Hashi throws his opponent around against the steel barricade. He then hits Honma in the gut with the red walking stick. Half Botson crab hold by Yoshi-Hashi but Honma crawls to the rope and breaks it. Twice during the opening minutes Honma tries for a running headbutt dive and misses wildly. Commercial break.

      After the break Honma’s back causes him to crumple to the mat. He manages to suplex Yoshi-Hashi and then finally lands the headbutt. Quick DDT and then he climbs the top rope. Honma jumps off and lands a blockbuster on Yoshi-Hashi. Near pinfall, but a kick out at two. Honma takes control but he misses with a diving headbutt off the top rope. Both men down. Powerbomb by Yoshi-Hashi into a bridge pinfall, but Honma kicks out at two. Two headbutts by Honma but Yoshi-Hashi kicks out at two. Diving headbutt off the top rope by Honma connects and he gets the pinfall victory. Okay match. Pretty straight-forward with no real surprises. Several moves were over-utilized and neither guy really looked as if their heart was in it. Flat interviews by both afterwards. Slow start to the show.

      This next one shouldn’t disappoint. It features Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, and Kazushi Sakuraba versus Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and Bad Luck Fale. Nakamura and Anderson start the match. Fast action to kick things off and a moderate applauds from the crowd. Gallows and Sakuraba tag in. Gallows chops him in the throat. Bedlam breaks out ringside as Anderson and Fale beat down Nakamura. Sakuraba is isolated in Gallows’ corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. Anderson and Nakamura make their way back in and go to work. Crowd showing some love to Nakamura. The goofy Yano tags in to take on Fale. Crowd cheers. Yano is quite a character. Tama Tonga runs in as Gallows distracts the ref and tries to take out Yano. But he lowblows both Yano and Fale. Yano covers and gets the pinfall! Absolutely ridiculous. Of all the talent in this match, Yano wins it. HaHa. Too Funny. This match suffered from being way too short.

      The main event for the first episode is Togi Makabe defending his NEVER Openweight Championship against Tomohiro Ishii. Slow grind to start this one. Outside the ring Makabe throws Ishii against the barricade multiple times. The two agree to get back in the ring and fight. HaHa. Double clothesline, neither goes down. This one turns into a hoss match with both men beating the hell out of each other in simple ways. This one is cool if you loike big man strong style, but it doesn’t really deliver the wow factor of a championship bout for me. The match ends when Ishii hits a vertical brainbuster on Makabe and wins the title. After the match Tomoaki Honma, whom we saw earlier, comes out to challenge Ishii for his newly acquired title.

Part Two

      The second episode features Part 2 of the October 12th matches. Our opening contest has champion Kenny Omega defending his IWGP Junior Heavyewight Championship against Matt Sydal. Fast action to start the show, crowd is lively. Omega takes a break from the action to get a drink of water, then spits it on Sydal. Omega then takes the tape off his wrist, balls it up and throws it at his opponent. Hard backbreaker by the champ and he’s clearly in control. Sydal recovers with a flurry of offense and a dive out of the ring. He gets a huge reversal and damn near pins the champ. Crowd very appreciative. But a full Nelson suplex and a running knee sets up Omega’s One Winged Angel finisher and he pins the challenger to retain. Good start to the show, exciting match to watch. Could have benefited from another few minutes.

      The second match and main event features Hiroshi Tanahashi putting his Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender spot (basically Japan’s Money in the Bank briefcase) on the line against the villainous Tetsuya Naito. This is a rematch from the G1 Climax tournament back in June in which Naito bested Tanahashi. The winner of this match will main event Wrestle Kingdom early next year. Naito takes his time getting to the ring and allowing the match to start. Tanahashi dropkicks Naito outside the ring but quickly pays for it as Naito starts tossing him around against the steel railing. Naito sets Tanahashi up on the apron and crashes him down to the floor with a reverse DDT. Naito sets up a chair, sets Tanahashi in and then runs and drop kicks him back into the barricade. Naito rolls in the ring and sets up a chair. He kicks back and relaxes as Red Shoes starts a 20 count. Tanahashi makes it back in at 18 seconds. Naito goes to work stomping him in the corner and then sets him up on the ropes. Naito rubs his foot on Tanahashi and then dropkicks him. Naito spits in Tanahashi’s face. Tanahashi’s lip is busted open.

      Tanahashi goes to work on Naito’s legs and he barely gets out of a Texas Cloverleaf submission. This bout is so evenly matched that I can barely pull my eyes away to type. Both men want to destroy the other and neither is backing down. The pair work the crowd into a frenzy at times. Tanahashi employs some quick chain-wrestling and drops Naito. Crowd starts chanting for him. Naito hits a Slingblade, near fall on Tanahashi. Naito throws Tanahashi into Red Shoes and the ref is down. Naito’s new partner, Takaaki Watanabe, comes into the ring and the two provide a beatdown to Tanahashi. Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto run in to save the day, dropping Naito and Watanabe. Shibata tries to revive Red Shoes, who rolled out of the ring. Low blow in the ring by Naito and a nearfall on Tanahashi as Red Shoes comes in for the count. Slingblade counter by Tanahashi, and then he climbs to the top rope. High Fly Flow splash and then another into a pinfall. Three counts later and Tanahashi is still going to the Toyko Dome. After the match, Goto and Watanabe fight. Shibata runs Watanabe out of the ring. Naito walks out with his new protege, smiling, as if the result of the match didn’t even register. He was just happy to cause chaos in the ring. What an amazing match. Well told, great execution, and a strong debut from Watanabe. Naito continues his phenomenal work as an evil heel.

Part Three

      The third and final episode features, you guessed it, part three of the Oct. 12 matches. The entire 60 minute episode will be devoted to Kazuchika Okada defending his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against A.J. Styles. Styles comes out first with fellow Bullet Club members Anderson, Gallows, and Tonga. Red Shoes is the referee for this one. These two have battled four times this year, splitting the outcomes. The bell rings and here we go. The crowd starts an A.J. Styles chant, but he yells at them to shut up. “I know who I am!” and he points to the Bullet Club and says that’s all he needs and they’re his family. Okada goes to work on the left arm of Styles, wrenching it behind his back to start. Styles reverses it and pushes him against the ropes. Back and forth, quick grappling from both. They part and the crowd applauds. The two trade slaps and Styles wobbles down to his butt, shocked. The Bullet Club gets involved early, dragging Okada out of the ring and beating the hell out of him as Styles distracts the ref. Tonga powerbombs Okada on the apron and rolls him back into the ring. Near fall, but Okada manages to kick out at two.

      After a commercial break, Styles runs the table, keeping Okada down and winded. Okada recovers with a DDT and finally gets back to his feet. He misses with an elbow but dropkicks Styles out of the ring. Okada tries to whip Styles into the barricade, but he leaps over it. Then Okada plants him with a DDT on the ground. He throws Styles into the ring and gets a near fall. Styles manages to reach the ropes to break the count. Springboard forearm by Styles drops Okada. He follows it up with a gut-buster and a cover. Okada kicks out. Styles suplexes Okada into the corner. The two trade forearms in the middle of the ring, dropping one another. Huge dropkick by Okada, crowd erupts. There is just so much high caliber offense in this one. Okada covers Styles, but Anderson grabs his feet and pulls him out of the ring. Okada throws Anderson into the guard rail and then climbs back in the ring. Instead of going after Styles, he bounces off the ropes and flips out of the ring, taking down all three members of the Bullet Club. Back in the ring, Styles puts Okada on the top rope. He superplexes him to the mat and covers. Okada barely kicks out. Commercial break.

      When we return, Styles tries to get Okada to tap with several leg submissions. Okada struggles to hold on. He crawls to the ropes and lunges out to break the hold. But the damage is done. Moments later, Okada hits a Tombstone Piledriver on Styles. Okada is too tired to cover Styles, writhing as he holds his left knee. Back on their feet, Okada hits a series of vicious clotheslines. He follows it up with the Rain Maker finisher and pins Styles! Crowd goes wild. This was Okada’s first title defense and he was successful in more ways than one. He goes on to face Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. What a spectacular match. This was so good, eaxctly what pro-wrestling should be. It shows how great two athletes can be when they care about what they are doing in the ring. Anderson and Gallows help carry Styles out. In the ring, Okada says A.J. helped add to the shine of the belt. Crowd applauds. Tanahashi enters the ring behind him. He says, “Next time…it’s me and you Tanahashi.” He hands the mic over and Tanahashi says Okada is the champion and he’s the man. Tanahashi says the man should be champion.

      The trio of episodes started off slow, but grew better and better as the night went on, culminating in an exceptional second half of the three hour block. Josh Barnett and Jim Ross did another round of fantastic commentary, covering each moment with clarity and professionalism. The highlights were, of course, Naito and Tanahashi, and Styles vs Okada. The top guys at New Japan Pro Wrestling are some of the finest damn athletes on the planet. Can’t even believe TNA wasted both Okada and Styles when they were with their company. Shame. Now it appears that WWE is going to waste Styles much the same. At least we will always have his NJPW work. If you plan on watching last night’s episodes, I would advise skipping the first one and just watching the final two. You’ll thank me later. What did you think of our breakdown and the matches? Let us know in the comments below. Currently, my DVR schedule doesn’t show any new NJPW episodes next week, so it might be a few weeks before we write about them again. But as soon as they are on, we’ve got ya covered. Have a good weekend, wrestling fans!

Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo


New Japan Pro Wrestling Review and Feedback (07.29.2016)


      Tonight’s broadcast is a carry over from last week’s episode, giving us part 2 of the September 27, 2015 matches from the World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Japan. We’ll see tag team action and a Battle For the Right of Challenge match. As per usual, Jim Ross and Josh Barnett are on commentary. Let’s review some matches!

      Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish defend the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship against Kushida and Alex Shelly (the Time Splitters) to kick things off. Shelly and Kushida come out first. Fish and O’Reilly, of Ring of Honor fame, come down second. Kushida and O’Reilly start the match. Mat work to start, with lots of counters and an applause break from the crowd. Shelly and O’Reilly take turns working Shelly’s left arm for a few moments, not allowing him to tag Kushida back in. He finally gets the tag and goes to work kicking Fish. Kushida locks in a hold on Fish as Shelly locks up O’Reilly. O’Reilly slaps Kushida over and over. Kushida punches back and then works on the left arm of Fish, getting payback for his partner. Dragon Screw from Fish drops Kushida to the mat. Great action to start the show as we head to our first commercial break.

      After the break, Shelly and O’Reilly are in the ring. Kushida climbs in and he and his partner take turns punching O’Reilly. Outside of the ring, Fish runs Kushida into the metal barricade. Shelly drops O’Reilly in the ring with a right hand. O’Reilly recovers and the two trade punches and kicks until Shelly is dropped by a clothesline and then a vertical brain buster. Kick out at two and O’Reilly rolls him over for an arm bar. Fish leaps off the top rope and headbutts Shelly’s shoulder. Kushida moonsaults off the top rope and breaks the hold. Shelly rolls up O’Reilly but kick out at two. Fish and O’Reilly double team Shelly and get a near fall on him. Crowd applauds the effort. Outside the ring, Kushida leaps off the apron onto Fish, and then O’Reilly drop kicks him over the railing. Ref starts a twenty count as all four men are out of the ring. Shelly and O’Reilly roll inside. A fantastic series of moves from Fish and O’Reilly on Shelly, garnering a cheer from the crowd. Not even sure what all those moves were called but damn fun to watch. Chasing the Dragon finisher by O’Reilly and Fish. Shelly is covered for the three count. Now that’s the kind of wrestling I like to watch. Fast-paced, lot of great offense. Just a well-rounded tag match with four great competitors. Two thumbs up. After the match, Roppongi Vice comes down and attacks all four men, demanding a shot at the titles.

      The right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the Tokyo Dome is on the line in our second and final match of the show. Basically, this is a #1 Contender match to be in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. Current “rights holder” is Hiroshi Tanahashi. Bad Luck Fale is challenging him, being accompanied to the ring by Tama Tonga. Crowd starts a Tanahashi chant as soon as the bell rings and the crowd favorite is shoved to the mat by Fale. The big man takes down Tanahashi and works some mat holds. Fale picks up Tanahashi and throws him over the top rope. Back in the ring, Tanahashi tries to pick Fale up for a body slam and just can’t get him up. So instead Fale picks him up and dumps him onto the apron, then clotheslines him to the floor. Tama Tonga of the Bullet Club attacks Tanahashi while the ref is distracted. Fale splashes onto Tanahashi on the apron and then throws him hard into the metal barricade. Then again. Ref starts a twenty count. Tanahashi rolled in at 19. Fale steps on Tanahashi’s chest, holding onto the ropes. A knee to the gut and a slam floors Tanahashi. When he recovers, he again tries to lift Fale and almost gets him up, but Tanahashi collapses on him and slams down on top of him. Down on the mat, Fale grips Tanahashi’s shoulder. He scoops Tanahashi up and slams him down. He goes for a splash but Tanahashi moves. After a series of running forearms off the ropes, Tanahashi is finally able to drop Fale. A senton on Fale and a near fall. Tanahashi uses his legs to take Fale over the top rope and onto the floor outside. Tanahashi climbs to the top turnbuckle and leaps out and onto Fale. Commercial break.

      Twenty count going on when we return from break. Both men get back in and Tanahashi tries locking in a leg submission but Fale kicks him away, then hits a huge splash. Tanahashi kicks out at two. Fale literally sits on Tanahashi’s chest to pin him but he narrowly kicks out at two. Fale tries for his finisher but Tanahashi slaps him to the mat. Fall away slam by Fale. He spears Tanahashi and tries his finisher. Tanahashi blocks it and hits a Slingblade. Top rope and Tanahashi leaps off only to be caught by Fale and dropped. Cover, but another kick out. Crowd is lively now. Tanahashi superplexes Fale off the top rope! High Fly Flow frog splash off the top rope and Tanhashi pins the big man for the win. What a really smart match. Fantastic outing from both competitors. Fale is a tremendous worker for a big man. If Braun Strowman in WWE watched some tapes of Bad Luck Fale, he could really learn how to be a big man working a match. After the match Tanahashi gets on the mic and calls out Naito. Naito walks out holding a chair. Tanahashi says he will put his rights on the line if Naito will fight him. Naito walks half way down the ramp and then turns quickly around and leaves. Crowd is unhappy with the typical Naito antics.

      Next Friday is going to be a whopper. AXSTV has promised three new back-to-back episodes so we will have a long, in-depth article covering all that happens. If you aren’t watching this show, you are really missing out. If you did tune in, let us know what you thought about the matches in the comments below. See you next Friday!

Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo


NJPW Review and Feedback (07.22.2016)


      Tonight’s broadcast comes from Kobe World Memorial Prefecture Hall on September 27, 2015. Only two matches during the hour long broadcast, so you know they are going to be good. First up is Shinsuke Nakamura challenging Hirooki Goto for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Minor grappling to begin, as Goto clamps down and tries to overpower Nakamura. The two break and the crowd applauds. Goto takes control with a few headlocks and then hip-tosses Nakamura. Then Goto clotheslines the hell out of Nakamura and he goes tumbling out of the ring, leading us to our first commercial break.

      After the break, Goto stomps Nakamura outside of the ring and then pulls his neck back against the unrelenting steel barricade. Nakamura reverses him with a whip, back first into the guard rail. Goto then tosses Nakamura into the rail and Red Shoes starts the twenty count. Nakamura makes it back up to the apron and drops some devastating knees on Goto, much to the crowd’s chagrin. Back in the ring, Nakamura lands a backstabber, then a reverse powerslam.  Goto drops Nakamura to the mat and gets a hammerlock submission on the challenger. Nakamura stretches his long legs and narrowly reaches the rope, but the damage may have already been done.

      Goto goes to work on Nakamura’s left arm. Cover but Nakamura kicks out at two. Nakamura stays down on his knees and Goto kicks him hard in the chest, then sweeps his foot out and punts Nakamura’s left wrist. Nakamura recovers and knees Goto in the back of the head. Both men stagger to their feet and trade blows in the center of the ring. Nakamura takes the upper-hand with a knee to the gut and a kick on the back. Bomaye by Nakamura, but Goto kicks out at two. Nakamura puts his opponent on the top rope and tries to lift him up on his shoulders, but Goto reverses and lands a bunch of punches and headbutts. Goto stands and sunset flips Nakamura into a pin, kick out at two! Commercial break.

      After, both men are down on the mat, gasping for breath. Both crawl up to their feet in the corner. Goto charges but takes a kick. He turns and lifts Nakamura up and slams up. He goes for a cover but kick out at two. Up on the top rope, Goto flips and slams Nakamura into his knee. Somehow Nakamura kicks out again at two. Headbutt by Goto. Closed fist punch by Nakamura, Goto floored. Another headbutt by Goto. Goto tries to punch Nakamura but he reverses it into a flying armbar. Goto counters and puts his own armbar on. Goto slams his leg across Nakamura’s face over and over, never releasing the hold. He transitions it into a hammerlock on the right arm. Nakamura counters and kicks Goto in the face. Bomaye blocked, but Nakamura knees him. Nakamura off the ropes and another Bomaye! Cover and Nakamura wins the belt after 22 minutes of awesome action! Great match!

      Afterwards, Nakamura puts the belt on but Gallows and Anderson of The Bulletclub come down to the ring. Anderson says he beat both Nakamura and Goto in the G1 Climax Tournament. He wants a shot at the IWGP Intercontinental Championship so he can hold two belts at once (as he is currently IWGP Tag Team Championship with Gallows.) Nakamura gives a “Yeaoh!” which we can assume is a oh hell yeah, you got yourself a match! Crowd goes wild. The two stare each other down. Nakamura shoves him away and dismisses him out of the ring. Nakamura climbs the corners and presents to the crowd.

      Up next is Katsuyori Shibata vs Tetsuya Naito. Naito does his usual slow walk to the ring, infuriating the crowd. Naito barely takes his mask off and Shibata kicks him off the apron. The two go at each other outside the ring. Shibata is thrown into the steel guardrail. And again. Naito dropkicks Shibata against the railing and then poses in the ring. Ref starts a twenty count as Naito goes outside the ring and throws Shibata into the crowd! Naito rolls him back in the ring and stomps on Shibata’s face. Then his back, twice. Shibata is now sitting in the corner. He takes kicks over and over to the face. Then a bunch of forearms. Ref tries to break it up and gets thrown across the ring. Neckbreaker by Naito. Shibata finally recovers and beats the holy hell out of Naito with several vicious forearms. Shibata uses the rope to put a triangle lock submission on Naito. Ref breaks it up. Shibata kicks him in the corner, then the opposite one. He rubs his boot down and across Naito’s face repeatedly. Then a running kick to the face. Outside the ring, Shibata throws Naito into the railing four times! Then kicks him over the railing! Back in the ring, abdomen stretch locked in on Naito, who slow crab-walks to the ropes to break it up. A beautiful running dropkick in the corner by Shibata! Commercial break.

      When we return following the break, Naito is down in the corner and Shibata suplexes him into a pin, but Naito kicks out at two. Naito stands and spits right in Shibata’s face. Dropkick and suplex by Naito, but Shibata flips him head over heels with a strong lariat. They stand and trade forearms. Crossface submission by Shibata after he reverses a kick down to the mat. Naito reaches the ropes for a break. Kick to the face and then the gut by Shibata, Naito down. Shibata teases him with a couple quick kicks. Sleeper hold by Shibata. Naito grabs the ref, turns him around and kicks Shibata in the nuts. Destino finisher and Naito gets the pinfall! Ref never saw the shenanigans. Typical heel work from Naito. What a fun match. That one was really solid throughout. Wonderful story told and very cringe-worthy offense with both men being battered. A trainer comes in to check on Shibata and Naito beats the hell out of him. As he walks up the ramp, Naito attacks the cameraman. Shibata charges up the ramp and jumps into Naito. After, Naito is bleeding from the mouth.

      Overall, an absolutely fantastic episode of New Japan Pro, as is pretty much the status quo. My only complaint is I need more! Give me ten hours and it wouldn’t be enough. This is what wrestling is all about. Two big thumbs up.

Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo


NJPW Review and Feedback (06.17.2016)

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      New Japan Pro Wrestling treated us to two episodes last Friday, running back to back between 8:00 and 10:00. We’ll review them both right here because we know you love the product as much as we do.

      The first hour covers last year’s G1 Climax Tournament specifically three matches from August 14, 2015. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett on commentary as per usual. The first match features Doc Gallows, whom you know from his current run in WWE with Mark Anderson and AJ Styles. He looks a bit different in NJPW, sporting black and white face paint. His opponent is Katsuyori Shibata. The match starts with a little submission mat work. Shibata is spilled out of the ring and then Gallows serves him up a choke slam on the apron. As Shibata lays face down on the floor, the ref starts the twenty count. Shibata manages to roll back in at 18. Gallows gives him a hard boot in the face in the corner. Then slaps him. Shibata clearly outsized in this standing about a foot beneath Gallows and definitely being outweighed. Shibata lands a drop kick and finally gets some offense with a suplex. Cover, kick out at two. Crowd starts a chant for Shibata. Reverse chinlock on Gallows, then a kick to his knee, another near fall. Shibata appears to be running the table until he takes a vicious powerbomb and nearly loses. Shibata continues trying to mount an attack, but Gallows stops him each time. Gallows hits The Hangman and that’s all she wrote. Bullet Club wins the day. Really nice match. This is the best I have seen Gallows. He certainly hasn’t looked this good yet in WWE.

      The second match of the first hour is Togi Makabe vs Kota Ibushi. Match starts with some vicious blows traded between both men, lots of “illegal” closed-fist punches. Makabe very obviously outweighs Ibushi. Miraculously, Ibushi manages to get Makabe down on the mat and then he goes to work with hard kicks. Out of nowhere, Makabe throws a clothesline and drops Ibushi. More punches, then a suplex. Ibushi kicks out at two. Ibushi gets stuck in the corner and takes many punches before kicking Makabe over the top rope and onto the apron. Face kick and Ibushi drops him to the floor. Springboard moonsault off the second rope and Makabe takes Ibushi’s full body, much to the crowd’s delight. Ref starts a double countout. Back in the ring, both men take turns running the match, couple of near falls. Phoenix Splash out of the corner and Ibushi pins Makabe. High energy match that featured some devastating moves. Even though Makabe lost, he looked strong throughout.

      Our third bout features the legendary Hiroyoshi Tenzan taking on the infamous Tetsuya Naito. Prior to the G1 tournament, Naito had made some public comments about Tenzan saying his career was over and he shouldn’t even be in the tournament, setting up a hot feud between the two when they finally met. This is Tenzan’s 20th G1 tournament, a record in Japan. So the seasoned vet should know what he’s doing in the ring. He previously won the entire tournament in 2003, 2004, and 2006. Naito takes his time coming to the ring, infuriating the crowd. As Tenzan comes out, the crowd gives him a standing ovation, cheering loudly. Tenzan enters the match with a small bandage over his eye from a gash he got in a previous match. Natio takes his time removing his mask and jacket. The match finally starts and Tenzan starts headbutting Naito in the corner. They spill out of the ring and start fighting around the apron. Naito’s head gets shoved into the ring post. More headbutts from Tenzan. Naito throws him into the security barricade once, then twice. They go over the barricade and Naito throws Tenzan into audience chairs. He gets back in the ring, leaving Tenzan. Back in the ring, Naito locks in a few submissions. Naito gets his foot on the rope and breaks the hold. Naito spits on Tenzan and the crowd boos. Then Naito attacks the ref, Red Shoes. After taking some headbutts and kicks, Naito sits in the corner, smiling, and spits in Tenzan’s face again. Tenzan is enraged. He tries for a suplex, but Naito reverses it and drops him to the mat. Naito climbs the corner and dropkicks Tenzan as he stands up. Couple of near falls but no winner yet. The match slows way down as both men trade submissions back and forth on the mat. Tenzan’s bandage is hanging off his face as he keeps headbutting Naito. Tenzan locks in the Anaconda Max submission and Naito taps! Crowd goes wild. What a great experience to watch. Naito is one hell of a heel. There’s some boys in WWE that could learn a thing or two from him. He really pisses off his opponent and the crowd. And his aggression and tenacity is matched only by his ring skill. He’s fun to watch and he’s definitely a guy you love to hate. As JR says, “He’s a talented son-of-a-gun, but my God is he despicable.” Tenzan is an old school warrior. He takes a beating, and sells so very well. But he has enough size and power to mount an impressive comeback. This match really had it all. Good action, story telling, and a satisfying finish. Well done to both men.

      The second hour is from the same date and features only two matches. The first is Bad Luck Fale of The Bullet Club taking on Toru Yano. Fale comes down to the ring with Tama Tonga. Fale is the largest man in the entire G1 Climax Tournament. Yano comes down holding a red steel chair. He squirts water on Fale, making him angry, then whacks him on the back of the head. Fale beats Yano to the mat and then slams him. Outside the ring, Yano is tossed into the barricade as the ref starts a double count out. Fale gets in quickly but it takes Yano until 19 to roll back in. Yano exposes the turnbuckle and nails Fale in it, but his offense is short lived and Fale takes control again. This one ends quickly as outside the ring Yano low blows Fale and Tonga, rolls in the ring and takes a countout victory. Fale slams the apron, angry after the match. Yano scurries up the ramp and escapes retribution. Brief match, but very entertaining.

      The second match would be considered a main event anywhere on the planet. Hiroshi Tanahashi taking on AJ Styles. Styles comes down first, followed by Tanahashi. Crowd is pretty excited for this one. Red Shoes is the ref for this one. Nothing but offense in this one, both men utilizing their massive library of skills. Tanahashi works on AJ’s left leg. Both wrestlers know each other well, so there are several fun counters throughout. Now it’s AJ’s turn to attack Tanahashi’s left leg. Crowd showing respect to both guys. Styles with some strong chops in the corner, he tries to jump on Tanahashi, but it’s ducked and AJ goes down. Tanahashi shoves AJ out of the ring then climbs to the top rope and hits a High Fly Flow on the floor. Both men lay gasping on the floor. Red Shoes checks on them then starts a double countout. Both barely make it back in the ring. Styles hits a springboard, flips and does some sort of impressive looking DDT off a moonsault all in one swift motion. He is slow to get up as his leg is buckling. Tanahashi manages a suplex into a pin but Styles kicks out. Ref takes a bump and then Styles connects a lowblow on Tanahashi. Styles goes for a Styles Clash, but Tanahashi hits a low blow of his own. Both men down with the ref.

      Pace slows down as both men trade punches and kicks. Styles locks in a Calf Crusher and Tanahashi writhes in pain. Tanahashi crawls to the bottom rope and breaks the hold. Styles kicks Tanahashi in the back of the head, but immediately Tanahashi hits a neck-breaker. Tanahashi tries to put AJ in the Styles Clash but he reverses it into an ankle lock. Tanahashi kicks him into the corner. Tanahashi hits a Styles Clash, but Styles kicks out at two. Tanahashi tries a High Fly Flow from the top rope but takes AJ’s knees. Styles climbs the top rope and hits a High Fly Flow of his own but Tanahashi kicks out at two. DDT from Styles, but Tanahashi counters the next move and attacks AJ’s knee. Another High Fly Flow from Tanahashi and he pins AJ Styles in the 27th minute of the match. This allows Tanahashi to win the A Block of the G1 Climax Tournament! Wow, what a match. That was terrific. Both men have come a long way from their first meeting at TNA. After the match both men are slow to get up. AJ is helped to the back. Tanahashi gets on a mic as the crowd chants his name. He says he has one more match that he plans on winning. He will take on the winner of the B Block and try to win the entire tournament. He thanks the crowd and tells them he loves them. Afterwards in a separate interview, Tanahashi said this is his best match in 8 years and may be the best match of his career. He calls 2015 an astonishing year for NJPW.

      Another A+ effort from NJPW. Each week brings something new and exciting and continues to set the bar for pro-wrestling. This Friday will have Nakamura vs Okada so it should be another fantastic showing of the G1 Climax. We’re looking forward to that one.

Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo


NJPW Review 03.25.2016


      This post is coming a few days late because we’ve been swamped with WrestleMania coverage all week. But we never forget to show some love to our Asian friends across the way. On Friday, there was another all new episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Let’s review.

      The show kicks off with Kushida discussing what we’re about to see. The episode was taped on June 7th, 2015, and shows The Best of the Super Jr. Heavyweight XXII from Yoyogi National Gynasium in Tokyo. Kushida is shown again being interviewed about his thoughts on the tournament and his matches in a shoot style Q&A.

      Good Ole JR and Josh Barnett work commentary as Kyle O’Reilly, of Ring of Honor fame, makes his way out to the ring. His opponent will be none other than Kushida, who has a really cool entrance video on the big screen. It shows photos and clips of him as he grew up, eventually becoming one of the biggest wrestling stars in Japan.

      Red Shoes to referee this one. Crowd is into it, cheering for Kushida, the hometown favorite. Slow grappling to start this match as O’Reilly pins Kushida against the ropes. A leg take down by O’Reilly puts both men on the mat to do some ground work. Both men trade submissions and reversals and so far this match is very reminiscent of Angle/Benoit at WM 17. When they finally get back to their feet, neither man has the upper hand. Crowd applauding the technical skill of each wrestler.

      Kushida finally gets on top as he hits a good group of kick combos to put O’Reilly down. Kushida joins him on the mat and locks in his left arm. O’Reilly gets his foot to the rope and Red Shoes breaks the hold. Kushida gives O’Reilly some chops in the corner. O’Reilly scores some offense with a few sharp kicks and knees to the face. He goes for the pin but Kushida kicks out. Back breaker on Kushida and another pin attempt. O’Reilly can’t keep him down. O’Reilly goes to work on Kushida’s shoulder and then plants him with a hammerlock takedown. Kushida screams, clutching his arm.

      On the mat, O’Reilly elbows and knees Kushida’s arm and shoulder over and over. Crowd is stunned into silence as O’Reilly twists Kushida’s wrist and the local boy writhes in pain. O’Reilly has taken full control of this match. O’Reilly hits two absolutely devastating double under-hook suplexes capped off with a DDT. Kushida narrowly kicks out at two and three-fourths. Kushida lands a springboard off the top rope and pumps some energy into a comeback. Kushida gets a few holds in down on the mat but O’Reilly quickly reverses and takes control again locking in a hanging reversed sleeper hold. Kushida reverses it into a double wristlock. O’Reilly reaches the rope and Red Shoes separates them.

      Kushida sits O’Reilly in the corner on the top rope. O’Reilly punches him in the ribs a few times and dives off, pounding Kushida’s head and neck into the mat. O’Reilly locks in an arm submission. Kushida counters and lands a German suplex. And another into a pin, but O’Reilly kicks out at two. Kushida lands a kick, knocking O’Reilly out of the ring. The chemistry of these two is excellent. Kushida hits the top rope and flips off, landing hard on O’Reilly and the bare floor. Kushida slides back into the ring. Red Shoes starts the twenty count against O’Reilly. He manages to get back in the ring and Kushida flips off the top rope again but this time gets caught into a triangle lock submission when he lands! Kushida somehow manages to reach the ropes.

      O’Reilly puts Kushida on the top rope but Kushida attacks his arm and puts O’Reilly down. He recovers and slams into Kushida, who falls crotch first into the ring post. O’Reilly sets him up and executes a belly to belly suplex. O’Reilly crawls to Kushida and covers him, but another kick out. The crowd is really getting their money’s worth in this one. O’Reilly lands several kicks, Kushida catches his foot on the last and then hits him with a barrage of punches. O’Reilly ducks under and suplexes Kushida. Both men panting on the mat, drenched in sweat.

      O’Reilly is the first one up. When Kushida gets up he smashes O’Reilly in the face with a closed fist. O’Reilly wipes Kushida out with a clothesline, kick out at two. O’Reilly hits a brain buster, kick out at one. Crowd is audible now trying to rally their hero. O’Reilly attacks Kushida’s left arm again. Red Shoes asks if he wants to quit. Kushida makes the ropes and breaks the hold. Crowd applauds. Outside on the ring apron, O’Reilly continues working on the left arm. Kushida shoves him away and again O’Reilly jumps up to lock in a front hold choke. Kushida reverses it into a brain buster right on the apron. O’Reilly falls to the floor and Kushida collapses near him. Red Shoes starts a twenty count.

      At nineteen both men scramble into the ring. Jim Ross calls this one a, “legitimate wrestling classic,” and he’s not wrong. Exhausted, neither man can get to their feet so Red Shoes starts a double count out. Both men sit up onto their knees and trade forearm punches. Both men get up on their feet and pull each other’s hair as they trade punches, both face and body shots. O’Reilly knocks Kushida to the mat.

Kushida throws O’Reilly into the corner, then slams him down but O’Reilly kicks out a two. Kushida climbs the ropes again and performs a corkscrew moonsault. It only partially lands and O’Reilly kicks out at two. They trade counters, then Kushida locks his arm in again. O’Reilly tries for the ropes but Kushida rolls him back, still holding the submission in place. O’Reilly taps after 30 minutes and 45 seconds.

      Wow! What a match. This had it all. Technical ability, high flying maneuvers, devastating attacks, storytelling, exciting commentary, and a vocal crowd that got to witness one hell of a match. Kushida is the winner of Best of the Super Junior Heavyweight Tournament. After the match, both men bow to each other showing respect as the crowd cheers them on. O’Reilly holds up Kushida’s arm in victory.

      In an interview after, O’Reilly swears that next year he is going to win the tournament and prove that he is the best of the super juniors. Back in the ring, Kushida wins a big, shiny trophy. He says he plans to bring a brighter future to NJPW. He thanks the crowd for their support. He climbs the corner and holds the trophy high as confetti falls. One of the best episodes of NJPW so far this year. Epic performances and an exhilarating match. See ya again on Friday, NJPW fans.

Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo



New Japan Pro Wrestling 3.11.2016



      Face to Heel is trying to venture beyond mainly covering WWE in our articles. It’s hard to do when other companies don’t have the reach and scope of Vince McMahon’s arsenal. Luckily, there’s New Japan Pro Wrestling on AxsTV. And, thanks to AT&T, we finally have access to the POP Channel so coming next week, we will begin to regularly cover TNA’s Impact Wrestling as well.

      This week’s NJPW’s broadcast was from the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, originally recorded on May 3rd, 2015. If NJPW ever figures out a way to do live broadcasts or at the very least air their shows within a month of them happening, they will really have a gold mine on their hands to directly compete with WWE. As it is, the broadcasts are dated. The benefit of this however, is the matches are edited to get right to the action, commentary is infinitely better, and they only show the good stuff.

      The broadcast this week kicked off with Jim Ross, aka The Greatest Commentator of All Time, alongside Josh Barnett, a powerhouse broadcaster in his own right. The opening bout featured Alex Shelley challenging Bullet Club member, Kenny Omega, for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. What a breath of fresh air to have Good Ole JR on the mic. He is sorely missed calling the action for WWE.

      The technical ability of both guys is amazing. With the respectful crowd and in-ring storytelling, this is a hell of a championship match. Shelley is fast and Omega is strong and both styles clash in an all out brawl. While the referee is distracted by the Young Bucks, Omega smashes Shelley in the face with a trash can. The ref seems to lose control of this match. This is one of the sloppiest matches we’ve seen from NJPW in awhile. The ref is letting them get away with a lot of things that shouldn’t be allowed, much to the booing noise of the crowd.

      Shelley almost gets a three count pinfall but the ref is pulled out of the ring. Eventually Omega finishes Shelley off and gets his third successful title defense. When there was action in this one it was damn good, but there was a lot of playing loose and fast in this match. Afterwards, Omega cuts a very breathy promo on the mic that is pretty terrible., proclaiming he will not be entering this years tournament.

      Six person tag match up next. Bullet Club members Amber Gallows, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows versus Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven, and Michael Bennett. There will be two females in this match but it is not inter-gender. Only the women can wrestle the women and only men can fight the men. Taven and Bennett are the current IWGP Tag Team Champions (as of May 2015). Bennet and Doc Gallows start the match. Taven gets a quick tag in. It doesn’t take long to get Maria vs Amber, crowd goes wild. Gallows using some strong style before Maria tags out and it’s back to the men with Taven vs Gallows. The back story here is Karl Anderson has fallen in love with Maria Kanellis, so there is a lot of hilarious comedy with Anderson chasing Maria around and Gallows and Anderson arguing about their opponent. Fantastic ring psychology in this one. Maria gets a quick inside cradle rollup for the pinfall on Amber Gallows. Fun, quick match.

      The main event of the night is another six person tag match. Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Katsuyori Shibata versus Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and Kazushi Sakuraba. Please don’t try to pronounce any of those names as Face To Heel does not wish to be responsible for the knot twisting of your tongue. All the men in this match have individual rivalries with one of their opponents much to the crowd’s delight. It makes for a really entertaining match as all combatants know each other very well. Red Shoes is the ref in this one. Speaking of bright colors, there are many exciting outfits in this match. Neon colors, animal prints, etc. Tanahashi gets the pinfall for his team.

      That’s it for this week. A really solid 60 minutes of wrestling entertainment. We’ll be back next week with a new review of the self-proclaimed King of Sports, New Japan Pro Wrestling.


Article by Jamie Curtis BakerFotoFlexer_Photo