Current Watch List:
- Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish (NJPW)
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Captain New Japan, Mascara Dorada & Jay White (NJPW)
- Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs. Kenny Omega, Matt & Nick Jackson (NJPW)
- Tetsuya Naito & Tomoaki Honma vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
- Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga (NJPW)
- Yuji Nagata & Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Yujiro Takahashi (NJPW)
- Stuka Jr. vs Hechicero in a lightning match (CMLL)
- Eterno vs. Chicano, hair vs. hair (IWRG)
- Neza Kings (Andy Boy, Danger King & Guerrero Mixtico) vs. La Resistencia (Rey Lobo, Kilvan & Yoruba)
- Argenis, Fenix & Myzteziz defeat Averno, La Parka Negra & Pentagon Jr.
Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
An above average tag. Fish & O’Reilly work well when they and their opponents have clearly defined roles. They can get in trouble when they are working indie dream matches. Young Lions clearly positioned as underdog faces and Fish/O’Reilly worked accordingly by controlling the offense and letting them up for well timed comebacks. Loved Komatsu’s flying forearm as always. Nothing says Young Lions matches like a Boston Crab so I thought the double Boston Crab near fall was excellent (the crowd seemed to think so too). Liked the finish. reDRagon put them away definitively but without going overboard (no need to go overboard in a finish with young lions). Solid tag match. A step above the O’Reilly singles match from the 30th.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Captain New Japan, Mascara Dorada & Jay White
Mascara Dorada looked good again in a limited role, which is a phrase I imagine I am going to being writing a lot over the next year. The opening segment with Dorada/Tiger Mask was neat. Great arm drag escape from TM IV. The spot where it took three guys to get Nakanaishi to break the torture rack was legitimately funny. Jay White looked solid in the little he got, but nothing overly special. As a whole, nothing memorable.
Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs. Kenny Omega, Matt & Nick Jackson
Didn’t care for a lot of the Bullet Club offense. I thought it was overly cute and contrived but maybe it just didn’t hit me right this time for whatever reason. All three guys are constantly towing that line between fun and contrived. Here they fell on the wrong side. Taguchi looked the best of all six with a fun hot tag/comeback. Omega’s chainsaw spot is not getting over. I hope he sticks with, though. I think most spots like that will eventual get over through perseverance if nothing else, but I am not sure this one will. It just isn’t a visually appealing spot. Ending was fine, but overall I didn’t think much of the match.
Tetsuya Naito & Tomoaki Honma vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
It is 1999 Big Japan vs. 1999 Pride as Sakuraba and Honma go at it early on. They worked the mat a bit and looked good doing so. It was a battle of futility later on as Honma and Yano raced to see who would be the first to complete their signature spot. Would Honma land a Koteshi before Yano could successfully complete his pointing routine? Both missed the first time and Honma actually missed a couple of Koteshi tries but ultimately winning the race. Naito and Sakuraba did not work much together, but I appreciated that Naito’s idea of working Sakuraba consisted of applying a singular but neat leg lock.
Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga
I appreciate New Japan going “all the way” (or at least going more than some of the way) with the Okada & Fale stuff. If you are going to do an angle where Okada gets owned by Fale for a while before overcoming him, than have Fale actually own him. So far, that is exactly what they are doing. In all likelihood, all of these tag losses from Okada to Fale will make Okada’s big singles win mean more. Plus, its not like Fale isn’t one of the most protected wrestlers in the promotion. The match itself was standard stuff.
Yuji Nagata & Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii
Good (not great) match that got me more excited for the upcoming Nagata/Nakamura match than the Makabe/Ishii match. Nakamura & Nagata worked a bunch together from opening stuff on the mat to what was a rather complex finish for a Korakuen Hall tag. They went all epic complete with big near falls and a one-count kick out. The ending stretch was good assuming you like the current New Japan finishing style (which on the whole, I do, although like anything it can be done well and it can be done poorly). Ishii and Makabe did their tough man routines. Not a big fan of that style in general and didn’t think their specific stuff in this match was anything great. I came out more hyped for one of the two matches it was building to so I’d say the match was more successful than not.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Yujiro Takahashi
If you have seen one of these Korakuen Hall six-man tag main events, you have seen *most of them*. This did nothing to break itself from the pack which means it was a good tool to progress stories towards the big shows but not memorable on its own merits. I judge these matches on hyped they get me for the major matches since that is realy the purpose they serve. In this case, I am not anymore excited for Styles/Tanahashi and the tag title match than I was before watching it. Part of that is Yujiro being the [poor] stand in for Styles, but the other is they just didn’t do much to get me hyped anymore (or less) than I was before. Tanahashi using the Styles Clash for a second straight match is a nice touch, but that doesn’t exactly have me counting down the days until February 11th.
Hechicero vs. Stuka Jr.
I’d slot this even with Kamataichi vs. Dragon Lee as the best lightning match of the young year. Hechicero is a proven lightning match worker and you could see against Stuka Jr. Because of his ability to transition from fun submission to fun submission at will, he is well suited for short matches that can be filled by largely doing just that. He grounds Stuka with all sorts of neat mat work in this one and let’s Stuka up for his spots (tucked dives!). Before you know it, the 8 minute match is over and it just flew by. Hechicero can fill eight minutes of match time as effortlessly as anyone. Big fan of Stuka who looked much better here than his relatively poor FantasticaMania showing. He went right along with Hechicero’s lead on the mat and his fun flying offense was a nice compliment. Solid lightning match.
Eterno vs. Chicano
Hair vs. Hair
They didn’t even make it to the ring before Eterno got bloodied. For a feud where there was enough blood spilled to make Carlos Colon queasy, there was not a lot of it flowing in the blow off. Eterno’s wore off pretty quickly. Chicano bled a bit more but not at the level of some of the matches that built up the hair match. Not that I am blood thirsty, just pointing it out. Lack of blood aside, the match was better than I expected. A lot of IWRG matches lack a sense of urgency, making them seem longer than they actually are. Some of the matches that built to this feud ender felt that wa, even with all the blood. They kept a decent pace here and it felt like an important match, which is half the battle. IWRG can have that TNA syndrome from time to time where even relatively important matches don’t feel big as all. This definitely felt big relative to your normal IWRG match. Chicano looked good and got a lot of offense in before Eterno picked up the victory.
As far as 2015 apuesta matches go, this was better than Ramstein/Chulo vs. Soberano Jr./Star Jr. double mask match for CMLL, but still a bit below the “good” mark.
Neza Kings (Andy Boy, Danger King & Guerrero Mixtico) vs. La Resistencia (Rey Lobo, Kilvan & Yoruba)
Wrestling in Mexico City
It had its moments, but overall not a great match. Guerrero Mixtico is good but this was not his best showing and there was some general sloppiness throughout from most of the wrestlers in the match. There was also some disjointedness with guys entering and exiting the match and/or in transitioning from one sequence to the next. The dives were all on point and there were also some good arm drags landed throughout (to go along with a few sloppy ones). Not terrible, but not good.
Argenis, Fenix & Myzteziz vs. Averno, La Parka Negra & Pentagon Jr.
Wrestling in Mexico City
Fun match and better than the one above. Neat to see these guys work so hard on an indie show, not just in terms of what they did but in terms of the thought put in. The first two falls were brawling with the usual AAA hardcore stuff, which is not my favorite, but it wasn’t mailed in either. When the match settled into a “normal” match (guys actually standing on the apron) it was pretty fun. Pentagon Jr. brought his usual hard hitting, fun offense to the table. Myzteziz also looked as he has throughout 2015 thus far. Nothing standout and probably a notch below what you’d get on AAA TV from these six, but okay overall.