Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium (Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan)
BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship
Back from injury Daisuke Sekimoto challenges for the championship that he never lost in the ring.
This was a fine match – it was not the best nor the worst I have seen from the Big Japan Strong division. They start over slow by working basic holds, which I always appreciate in any contemporary Japanese heavyweight match. A match – like this one – that begins with working head locks and head scissors rather than strike exchanges, starts on much more solid ground. They eased into the match and laid a foundation. Of course the strike exchanges came later on and they were annoying, but at least we got through the opening. Ishikawa worked a leg scissors around Sekimoto’s head with Sekimoto continually trying to fight out. I am a big fan of that sequence. It is just below holding onto a headlock in terms of fun, slow-burn openings.
The body and finish of the match aren’t very memorable but are not bad either. As I have written before, I find the Big Japan strong division style to enjoyable in spite of some no-selling and overdone strike exchanges because they generally incorporate those elements into the match in a more palatable way than you might see elsewhere. The usual basic mat work, the lack of big moves until the stretch run, and the fact that in general these matches do not overstay their welcome are all contributing factors to that. This particular match wraps up in about 14:00 minutes and while there were parts of the match I disliked or was ambivalent about, it never cross over the line into being too much.
Not much to see but fine for what it was. Ishikawa retains which was the right booking call or else his title win would like it only happened because Sekimoto was on the shelf for a bit. I am not sure there is a whole lot left for him to do in Big Japan. Sekimoto has been working for NOAH a bit this year and already has runs in DDT, Zero-1, and All-Japan under his belt. That makes the next logical step New Japan. I don’t know if they have any interest in him at all but they could do worse than bringing Sekimoto in to freshen up the mid-card working with the likes of Homna, Naito, ect. A match versus Ishii feels like something that could be sold as a big time bout.
Big Japan Strong| Common | Quality & Title Match
Big Japan Pro Wrestling
Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship (Decision Match)
Daisuke Sekimoto defined the style of the still-in-its-infancy BJW Strong Heavyweight division with his nine-month World Heavyweight title reign that ended prematurely due to injury this January. With Sekimoto’s tag partner Yuji Okabayashi also out with an injury, Ishikawa and Kawakami were unexpectedly pushed to into a featured role as they vied for the vacant championship. The decision match was worked very much in the style that Sekimoto had previously established for BJW title matches and that resulted in an easy-to-watch title match that contained its fair share of neat moments.
Like many Sekimoto Strong matches, this one starts out with a somewhat extended feeling out process where the wrestlers exchange some holds and basic submissions. I don’t subscribe to the “mat/limb work must lead somewhere” school of thought and am perfectly content with enjoyable opening hold exchanges that stand alone – enjoyable being the operative word. One such example from this match is a segment where Kawakami attempts to permanently escape from a head scissors only to finally succeed on the third or fourth try with a clever head deke.
Ishikawa moves onto utilizing both a normal abdominal stretch and an Octopus hold, the former of which Kawakami escapes from twice by walking to the ropes. With some half crabs and other holds thrown in to keep the match moving, the opening portion was very enjoyable. It is this opening work – whether it leads anywhere or not – that makes BJW Strong matches more palatable to my tastes than a lot of other current Japan heavyweight style matches.
The match is ten minutes old before the first pin attempt happens, signally a shift from the holds into the more striking and suplex-oriented part of the contest. This is where there is always potential for the wheels to come off in these matches, but Ishikawa and Kawakami hold it together well and even sprinkle in a few cool elements along the way. I liked the dynamic where Ishikawa was presented at a disadvantage with elbow strikes. He resorts to head butts to get out of the first two exchanges, losses a few of the other elbow smash back-and-forths, and later moves onto kicks to counter his opponent’s strikes. It helped to better define each guy’s role in the match and kept the match from even veering into no-selling, strike exchange mode.
Ishikawa – after at least one earlier attempt during the stretch run – gets the Octopus hold cinched in in a really painful-looking way to get the submission victory in about 18 minutes. I liked this a lot, maybe more so than any non-NJPW Japan match from 2014. The pacing and layout felt like an early to mid-90’s New Japan juniors match only with strikes & suplexes following up the mat work rather than flying & suplexes. The match flew by too on the initial viewing which is always a positive sign that they are doing something right. In the grand scheme of things this will [rightfully] get lost in the shuffle, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
Big Japan Strong | Worthwhile | Quality