Monday, 30 September 2013

Toshiaki Kawada v Naoya Ogawa (Zero-One, 12/14/03)

Kawada is so great at these violent hatefests, and this is one of the best violent hatefests of the decade. The feeling out at the start is really cool with both guys trying to scramble away as soon as there's any sense of danger. They get to the smashing the shit out of each other right from the start as well, so the feeling out process in this is more brutal than most matches, period. Bit where they're in the corner and Kawada is throwing palms, but that leaves him exposed to a straight right to the chin and his sell of it is off the charts amazing. Kawada is just going after Ogawa like a fiend at a few points, and there's a bit where Ogawa is on the deck so Kawada full force jumps on his face. Ogawa goes for the STO, but Kawada is close to the ropes and manages to block it, then he starts kneeing Ogawa in the thigh to get free, which was pretty great. He goes after that leg the rest of the match, and really, you watch Ogawa limping around and you think, "Yeah, I can totally buy him not being able to stand after the shit Kawada's thrown his way." Some of the leg work is just brutal. Kawada jumping on Ogawa's face was nasty enough, but the way he jumps right on his kneecap looks even more disgusting. Match goes to a double countout after Ogawa hits an STO on the floor, so Kawada gets on the mic and wants a restart. And post-restart they pick up where they left off. Kawada is probably even more feral going after the knee, in fact. As far as double KO finishes go, I'm drawing a blank on any that are as believable as this one. Because maaaaaan do they hit each other hard. This was great.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

You Will Watch Shinya Hashimoto and you WILL Like It

Shinya Hashimoto & Takashi Iizuka v Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami (New Japan, 1/4/00)

Awesome, wild, chaotic spectacle. I know the Hash/Ogawa feud is generally considered to be a colossal fuck up, but holy shit did the crowd lose their mind for every interaction they had together. They're completely nuclear for this whole thing, and a big Dome crowd like that will always put a smile on my face. Even from the intros this feels huge. Match winds up getting thrown out after a few minutes because it's basically turned into a full blown riot, so Inoki gets in the ring wearing a white tracksuit and wielding a kendo stick (I think). He gets on the mic and hell if I know what he says but I'll assume it's something along the lines of "THE SHOW MUST GO FUCKING ON." And so it does. Everything in this is brutally stiff. I don't think Murakami ever properly learned how to throw a worked strike, but here he's just full force cracking Iizuka in the face with punches and knees like a reckless headcase. Hashimoto is utterly spectacular in this. After the restart he tags in for the first time, but Marakami continues fighting with Iizuka. He has the mount on Iizuka and isn't really paying attention to Hash. Maybe he doesn't care that Hash is the legal man. Hash kind of stands there at first, like a school teacher waiting for the kids at the back to be quiet. Then he loses patience and fucking smashes Murakami in the spleen. Crowd reaction to him telling Ogawa to get in the ring is amazing, and really, this match is a perfect example of why Hash is so great. His energy is just off the charts. It's impossible not to get invested in what he's doing, and his presence alone turns something that'd already be big into something that feels truly momentous. The Hash/Ogawa exchanges are what you want them to be, and Hash winning strike exchanges really feels like the moment in a movie where the hero is able to start cracking the Big Bad's armour. The crowd start believing as well, and the louder they get the more fired up Hash gets. Incredible moment where he rips off his boxing glove and starts laying into Ogawa with overhand chops. Incredible moment #2 when he can't be bothered with rope breaks and just headbutts Ogawa in the cheek. Honestly, it cannot be stresses enough how unbelievably fucking boss Shinya Hashimoto is in this match. Finish is totally sick as well. Hash is on the floor trying to snap Ogawa's arm (after Ogawa runs through folks with killer STOs), while in the ring it looks like Murakami is having his way with Iizuka. Iizuka has heart and has the entire Dome crowd behind him, but Murakami is a stone cold fucking psychopath and seems literally incapable of doing anything that doesn't hurt you. He takes Iizuka down and starts unloading fists, but Iizuka manages to escape and lock in a disgusting rear naked choke for the stoppage. Crowd goes utterly batshit insane, the ring fills up with people in tracksuits, and then Hashimoto tries to get at Ogawa some more. This was several thousand levels of great.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hashimoto! Fujiwara! Ikeda and Ogawa! SCOTT NORTON!

Shinya Hashimoto & Yoshiaki Fujiwara v Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura (Zero-One, 9/15/01)

This was pretty badass. Everybody got to do at least a little and they all looked good because of it, although there wasn't as much Ikeda kicking lumps out of people as one might hope for. His exchanges with Fujiwara were brief, but they were great. Ikeda doesn't care if Fujiwara's ninety years old and roundhouse kicks him in the temple and blatantly chokes him. Fujiwara responds by throwing his headbutts and choking him back, and you get the sense a singles match would end up being a ton of fun at the very least. Fujiwara was pretty awesome in this, actually. We already know he's timeless, but now and again there'll be a match where by all rights he should be broken down like crazy yet still does something that defies the logic of ageing. In this, Sugiura - who has a legit amateur background - shoots in for a takedown, and as Fujiwara sprawls away he somehow manages to hook an armbar with his legs and basically nail Sugiura to the mat. We've all seen Kurt Angle matches where the Olympian is getting out-wrestled on the mat. This wasn't Kurt Angle being schooled by Shane McMahon. It didn't look like a pre-planned spot. It came across as one guy going for a quick takedown and a guy twice his age countering it in spectacular fashion. And really, is there a better "flash counter" guy in wrestling history than Fujiwara? Hashimoto was such a killer here, too. There's a bit early on where Sugiura takes him to the mat and reigns down elbows and forearms, and when they get back to their feet you can almost see "Right...that won't happen again" written across Hash's face. Sure enough Sugiura tries to take him down again and Hash just drills him in the shoulder with a kick. Three of the guys in this match are in my top 10 favourite Japanese wrestlers ever, Sugiura holds his own, and this was a nice way to spent twelve minutes. 

Shinya Hashimoto & Naoya Ogawa v Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton (New Japan, 5/2/02)

So, my hopes for this weren't sky high. I don't like Tenzan and I wasn't sure how much Norton had left in the tank at this stage in his career. Hashimoto is fucking Hashimoto though, and Ogawa is always good for bringing the heat, so if nothing else I figured the crowd would be up for it. Well fuck all that because this was AWESOME. And the Dome crowd is most definitely up for it. Hash and Ogawa are INVADING and I love invading in my pro-wrestling. Ogawa especially has this dangerous aura about him, like he just does not give a fuck about who he has to go through. Match is also stiffer'n crap which plays right into his wheelhouse. Even Tenzan ramps up the stiffness, and every headbutt he throws at Hashimoto's stomach looks like it was designed to crack ribs. Hash is just kicking folks right in the lungs and it is brutal and beautiful at the same time. Norton is like the most imposing bouncer you've ever seen. It's like he bounces at the school that trains people how to bounce at the roughest pissholes on earth. He will literally eat you. He and Hash always had great chemistry together, and they smash each other to bits in this, which is exactly what YOU are looking for. I mean, Hash is just laying into him with vicious overhands and Norton is firing back with NASTY chops. Like, Tenryu would even wince at these. Eventually Norton goes FIP and Hash and Ogawa tee right off on his shoulder, and Norton is really great at making his comebacks while selling the injury. Crowd goes ballistic for all of it, too. Hash and Ogawa's take on Total Elimination is abso-fuckin-lutely incredible, btw. The first one on Tenzan is heavy rewind material -- it honestly looked as perfect as a leg sweep/STO double team possibly could. Then the German suplex/STO combo at the end. That was just...holy smokes. How did it not kill Norton? Seriously. This was Hashimoto's last ever match in New Japan, and it was a fitting way for one of the best guys in that promotion's history to go out. But really, how did Scott Norton survive that? I just...fuck, man.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tenryu & Anjoh Lie in Wait. They Hunt Their Prey

Genichiro Tenryu & Yoji Anjoh v Taiyo Kea & Johnny(???) Smith (All Japan, 7/14/01) - FUN

Alright, cards on the table, I don't know who this Smith fella is. Couldn't tell you why I thought his first name was Johnny. Don't know what his first name really is though, so for now he's called Johnny. Anybody knows his actual name, give me a shout or something. Anyways, I've said before that Tenryu v Anjoh is basically a dream match for me, and well, Tenryu tagging with Anjoh is basically a dream tag team. The possibilities for sheer dickheaded behaviour are endless. This is JIP about halfway in, and that kind of annoys me like most clipped wrestling does, but we come in right at the point where the ref' decides he's had enough of Anjoh punching Johnny (or whoever) in the face. Anjoh makes great Anjoh pouty faces because he's being told off, so he tags in Tenryu. And OF COURSE the first thing Tenryu does upon entry is punch Smith in the face. Crowd actually start booing Wada for getting on Tenryu's case. Tenryu actually punches Smith in the face a whole lot in this, and every punch looks spectacular. Smith going "fuck it" and punching him right back is my favourite Johnny (maybe) Smith moment. Smith starts to reel off a decent string of offence and nearfalls and the crowd are way behind him by the end. Shit, they even boo Tenryu for breaking up a pinfall! Anjoh winning with a not particularly forceful Alabama Slam was a bit out of nowhere, but otherwise this was fun stuff.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Complete & Accurate Anjoh

Monday, 23 September 2013

You that Never Done Nothin' but Build to Destroy, You Play with Tenryu's World Like it's Your Little Toy

Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka v Kensuke Sasaki & Kenzo Suzuki (New Japan, 2/4/00) - FUN

Suzuki has been wrestling for about two years at this point. So you can probably guess how this goes. If your guess was, "Tenryu doesn't beat on Kenzo Suzuki" then you're dead fucking wrong. Because Tenryu beats on Kenzo Suzuki. Match only goes about eight minutes, but it's fun for what we get. Sasaki throws hella nasty chops and he hits Tenryu so hard with a lariat that Tenryu does the awesome "oh Christ, I think I'm having a stroke" sell (he never had the dribble running down his chin this time, though. That was unfortunate). Tenryu also throws hella nasty chops and Suzuki has this "why did I even bother?" look after a few minutes. Tenryu must be to Japanese rookies what Finlay is to American rookies (and probably British rookies, once upon a time). That leads to Suzuki steamrolling Tenryu with a "fuck it, I've had enough of this" spear ala Dustin steamrolling Vader in the Clash of the Champions match from '94. This wasn't as good as that, because the Dustin/Vader spot is one of the best spots ever, but it was in the same vein at least. Koshinaka is actually younger than Tenryu, but every time I see him post-'96 or so I just see him as an old dude of like a hundred and four years old. Maybe it's the hair. Hundred and four year old Koshinaka is exponentially more fun than young 1980s Koshinaka and I don't know how many times I've said that since I started this blog but I'll be fucked if it isn't as true as ever. He jabs Suzuki in the cheek with his hip bone a bunch and, you know, that probably isn't pleasant.

Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara v Koki Kitahara & Shinichi Nakano (SWS, 2/14/92) - SKIPPABLE

I was watching this and trying to think of things in pro-wrestling that'd suck more than being chopped by Tenryu. Kitahara's purple chest suggests the answer is "not much." This was alright, but there wasn't enough Tenryu GOATing it for it to be much more. He gave Koki and Nakano a ton, actually. Kitahara is someone I like a lot as he's a chunky wee fella that'll stiff you with kicks and has a nasty mean streak in him. He stiffs Tenryu with kicks and slaps him really hard across the ear in this, which I dug. Hara actually seemed more pissed off at the world than Tenryu did here, which kind of surprised me. Like, if someone gets chippy and starts slapping Tenryu, usually it's Tenryu that'll go on to maul them. This time it was Hara that pulled a guy out to the floor and started chucking furniture. Koki somehow manages to injure his own leg by doing a wheel kick, and that becomes the focus in the second half of the match. Tenryu just kicking him in the kneecap was a pretty great dickheaded cheapshot. Tenryu doesn't even hang around to get his hand raised after the match. He literally gets up and heads to the back, no celebration, no acknowledgement of anything. Maybe he had GTA V on pause.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Rey's in Boeing Jets, Global Express, Out the Country but the Blueberry Still Connects

Rey Mysterio v Chavo Guerrero (Great American Bash, 6/27/04)

This is the best Cruiserweight Title match in WWE history, right? Going a step further, after having seen it about six times in the last handful of years, at this point I'd probably go to bat for it as a top ten WWE match of the 00s, period. Rey/Chavo is a really great match-up. Their No Way Out match from earlier in '04 was pretty awesome, their exchanges in tags are always really good, and the Greed match might be the best match WCW had in the 00s (not really a high bar, but it still fucking ruled). Chavo is a great opponent for Rey; one of his best, in fact. Rey is a great opponent for Chavo and I can't think of anybody else coming within a million miles of him in that respect. Point is, they match-up exceptionally and they always have cracking matches. This starts out with some neat sequences, and everything looks sharp and crisp. Rey then takes over and starts working over Chavo's arm, which is cool because you don't really get to see Rey working over a body part very often. He's good at it, which should shock nobody. Match hits another gear when Chavo takes over, though. Rey's up top and Chavo dropkicks him off, and Rey takes a nasty looking bump onto the apron where his leg gets bumped. He comes up selling the knee, and from that point on Chavo goes right for it. It's a great workover from Chavo. He stomps the leg when Rey's down, wraps it around the ring post, busts out a stretch muffler (instant hit in my book), and puts on a half crab where Rey's body is contorted in like five places (and Chavo yanks at the mask for leverage, which is right up there with someone busting out a stretch muffler in my estimation). Rey's sell job is off the charts. Really, this might be the best sell job of his career. He crumples in a heap when Chavo whips him into the turnbuckle, never springboards without impunity (as in, he's visibly favouring the leg when jumping off the ropes and always comes up selling afterwards), and does the awesome "limping run" when running the ropes. And he doesn't do the KENTA/CIMA shit where he'll be selling the leg like crazy one second then running around a million miles a minute the next as if nothing ever happened. He strikes a perfect balance with his selling. He sells the leg most of all when Chavo's actively working it over (being unable to put any weight on it), then when he's able to create some breathing room and sneak in some offence of his own he tones it down a bit (being able to stand, but not able to run properly). Towards the end he's tied up in a tree of woe and Chavo charges from across the ring, but Rey moves and Chavo goes shoulder-first into the ringpost. And then Chavo starts with the awesome selling of the shoulder (which is a cool extension of Rey's early arm work). By the end the crowd are losing it for a fucking half crab, and when was the last time a WWE crowd bought a half crab as a legit nearfall (especially a crowd that had been sitting on their hands most of the night)? Finish plays off Chavo's bad shoulder, and I really have nothing bad to say about this match at all.

Rey Project

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Whiskey & Wrestling Reaches 300 Posts! And More Tenryu!

Genichiro Tenryu & Nobukaza Hirai v Satoshi Kojima & Kaz Hayashi (All Japan, 10/6/02) - GREAT

Oh my gravy. When I saw who was in this my first thought was, "If Tenryu abuses Kaz Hayashi then this'll be fucking great." And I'll be fucked if Tenryu doesn't abuse Kaz Hayashi. I mean, God damn, did Kaz touch Tenryu's daughter's funny button? I think Kaz gets like two hits in on him the entire match. Tenryu gives him NOTHING and just slaughters him. At one point he flings a chair at him from across the ring, and if it didn't miss (by about two inches, btw) it would've broken Kaz's skull. I don't think this was one of those intentional misses, either. I think he really tried to break his skull with it. There's a bit where Kaz is on his knees in the Tenryu/Hirai corner and, form the apron, Tenryu starts kicking his face into the turnbuckles. Kaz gets chippy and cheapshots Tenryu, so Tenryu glares at him incredulously and punches him in the chin. They're on the floor and Tenryu cracks him with a chair, throat chops him over the barricade then pours a bottle of water over him...just because. All of it was fucking spectacular. Tenryu and Kojima pick up where they always leave off and absolutely leather each other. Punches, chops, MEATY lariats; all the good stuff. In terms of pudgy lesser known Tenryu tag partners, Hirai doesn't have the same mean streak in him as a Hara or Ishikawa. He won't throw coconut headbutts and bully skinny juniors and take a bunch of cheapshots, but he will hold up his end fine and let Tenryu kill dudes, so what's to complain about, really? Someone tell me there's a Tenryu/Kaz singles match. Please tell me there's a Tenryu/Kaz singles match.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Well, Your Clock is Gonna Stop at Tenryu's Gate. Ya Gonna Ask Him what Time it is, He's Gonna Say, "It's too Late."

Genichiro Tenryu, Nobutaka Araya, Nobukaza Hirai & Arashi v Keiji Mutoh, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroshi Hase & Jinsei Shinzaki (All Japan, 9/16/02) - GREAT

The WAR interpromotional multi-man tag is one of my favourite things ever in wrestling. This isn't quite the same as the WAR/NJ stuff from a decade earlier since WAR had already closed its doors a couple years prior, so there isn't the same sense of molten INVADER heat, but as a reunion tour for a group of grumpy, lumpy old rockers with a cult following, it did the trick. This is what it'd be like if Zeppelin wound up somehow playing support act to Motley Crue in the 90s but then rather than supporting them they just kicked the living shit out of them instead (there's a better music analogy there, but I'll be fucked if I can be bothered coming up with one). I had no recollection of Hiroshi Hase still wrestling in 2002. I thought he'd given it up and ran for congress or something. He's still rocking the trademark moustache, but he's traded in the yellow trunks for these purple Beverly Brothers-esque tights. He's still pretty spry, though; you get the sense ROH could've brought him in around the time and he'd have a super fun match with someone like Corino. Does Arashi have any teeth? Because he makes these pained facial expressions and it kind of looks as though he's like 90% gumsy. He's the beefiest guy in the match, and naturally he brings the beefy offence. His top rope splash looked like it might've crushed every one of Hase's ribs. Mutoh and Hakushi don't really bring a ton, but they're fine enough going along for the ride. Unsurprisingly I was digging this the most when Tenryu was in. Actually, fuck it, he didn't even need to be in; as long as the camera was on him he was doing something worth watching. Actually, fuck that as well, the camera didn't even need to be on him. At one point a water bottle gets hurled into view and you don't need a camera shot to know who chucked it. Mutoh throws these really crappy looking overhand punches that sort of graze Tenryu's jheri curl, then Tenryu gives him this amazing "fuck was that?" look and pops him in the cheek with what a real punch is supposed to look like. Kojima had been feuding with Tenryu for a minute and they have some killer exchanges in this. They shred each other with chops and Kojima isn't afraid to punch or be punched in the face by Tenryu. Awesome moment where Kojima dropkicks a chair into Tenryu's face and cuts him open above the eye, so Tenryu goes total fucking caveman on him with reckless chairshots, punches, and of course punts with the toe of the boot right to the eyeball. And Tenryu with the red mist at the end fucking ruled as well. Nobody did the interpromotional hatefest better than WAR, and this is a cool throwback to the epic WAR interpromotional hatefests of yesteryear (and a reminder of the wacky, wonderful world that was Wrestle and Romance. Oh how I miss thee).

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Friday, 13 September 2013

Tenryu Has no Friends, Only Subject and Enemies

Genichiro Tenryu & Jun Akiyama v Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki (NOAH, 4/25/05) - GREAT

So this had plenty of potential for dickheaded Tenryu shenanigans, and it did not disappoint. If you know who these guys are then you'll look at the teams and think Go Shiozaki is very likely getting abused in this match. And well, Go Shiozaki gets thoroughly abused in this match. Akiyama kicks the shit out of him in a sort of businesslike way; he has nothing against the kid and isn't out to humiliate him, but he has a match to win and Go is on the opposite side, so what needs to be done is going to be done. Tenryu is...not Akiyama. He chops him in the throat, kicks him in the face, punches him dead in the teeth, and pretty much smashes him to bits whenever he can. And fair play to Go, because he takes it all and tries to dish out some of his own. Kobashi is like the older brother standing up to the bullies. The Kobashi/Tenryu exchanges are phenomenal and someone tell me there's a singles match between them. Right from the jump they lay into each other, then Tenryu picks up a table and throws it at him. They're both standing on the apron, so Tenryu takes a drink of water, casually walks around the other side of the ring and chucks the bottle at Kobashi. Then they get in the ring together and good GRIEF does Kobashi just fucking chop him to ribbons. And like the crazy old fuck he is Tenryu even blades his chest for added effect. There's a bit where they're on the floor and Kobashi's throwing chops while Tenryu's propped up against the ring post, and Tenryu's drooling and grimacing like he's having a stroke. The lariat Tenryu throws at the end is truly hideous. This ruled.

Complete & Accurate Tenryu

Thursday, 12 September 2013

He Spares No One. He was Forgotten, but He was Somewhere. So Beware of the Stare of Rey

Rey Mysterio v Randy Orton (Smackdown!, 4/7/06)

So Rey is pretty much the king of the free TV wrestling match, and this is probably somewhere around his top 5 (TV matches, I mean). It's truly excellent. It's also one of the best Randy Orton performances I've ever seen. He's been real dull for a while now, but there've been points in his career where he's been really great (and this was one of them), so I still mean that as high praise. Match is structured similarly to the very best Rey matches -- heel opponent controls the majority while Rey uses his impeccable timing to throw in his hope spots, and it all builds to a molten finishing run. Orton's awesome at keeping Rey under wraps here, especially with the headlock. He's a guy that has a great headlock/chinlock, and I don't know if it's ever looked better than it did in this match. He puts so much wrench into it and really squeezes Rey's head and neck, and at one point Randy's almost doing a fucking headstand to give him extra leverage. He looks like he's literally trying to pull Rey's head off. Rey is the bump machine psychopath you think he is and takes a bunch of psycho bump machine bumps. He gets smashed face first into the canvas off two wheelbarrow attempts, and the bump he takes off a dropkick to the apron is insane. He tries to springboard, but Orton hits a dropkick to counter it and Rey goes spine, kidney, liver, hip and coccyx-first onto the edge of the apron. All at once. Stretch run is terrific, and at one point Orton fucking KILLS Rey with a clothesline for a big nearfall. When was the last time someone in WWE other than Bradshaw got a legit nearfall off a clothesline? Although in fairness this looked like it'd decapitate a wildebeest. I liked Rey's final flurry at the end as well. Felt like the last round of a title fight with one guy managing to string off the big combo.

Rey Project