Hiroshi Tanahashi v Katsuyori Shibata (7/26/14)
I remember being super excited when I found out Shibata was coming back to do pro-wrestling. That was like two and a half years ago. This is the first Shibata match I've watched since he came back. Such is how I roll. I don't really like Tanahashi at all and his offence still kinda stunk (that's a criticism that gets levied at him so often that I feel cheap even mentioning it myself, but it's true), but in a weird way that actually added to the match. Because Shibata does not have flimsy offence and is stiff as a bastard, so the match then becomes about Tanahashi trying to use his flimsy offence to better Shibata's striking. It doesn't work well for him and Shibata murders him, and one thing you can't fault Tanahashi for is his willingness to take an almighty shitkicking. All of Shibata's kicks are as lethal as I remembered and I thought he was really great in this. He doesn't exactly get his leg worked over, at least not in the sense that Tanahashi got to do a bunch of limb work, but it's still a target that Tanahashi can zero in on when he manages to string together some offence. Shibata sells it like it's really bugging him more than actively hurting him to the point where it's hindering what he's doing, and I dug how he went about it. Shibata's flurries of offence are awesome, especially when they come in response to one of Tanahashi's weak strikes. They do a forearm exchange down the stretch that I rolled my eyes at, but then Shibata salvaged it with an ungodly back fist that just about took Tanahashi's jaw clean the fuck off. Ref's reaction to it was amazing as well. Tanahashi countering the GTS with a small package was really cool and felt totally last ditch. And of course the finish was emphatic. This might be the best match I've watched yet, and Shibata is still Shibata.
Tomohiro Ishii v Doc Gallows (7/28/14)
Ishii was a blast in this as the little steamroller that could. He's about three foot nothing and has no neck. Think this is the first Gallows match I've seen since that match against Rey Mysterio way back when. He looks enormous compared to Ishii. Match is naturally built around the huge size difference and it totally worked. Ishii is especially great at milking spots where he lifts Gallows off the ground. Looks like he puts everything he has into hitting a vertical suplex, and the struggle to hit the brainbuster at the end was even better. Gallows tries to hoist him up for his finisher, but Ishii breaks his grip and headbutts him in the dish, then later he does this awesome Fujiwara-ish headbutt where he kind of rams Gallows under the chin (which played into the size difference story in a really cool way). Good match.