Current Watch List:
- Satoshi Kojima & Yohei Komatsu vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan (NJPW)
- Tiger Mask IV & Jay White vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish (NJPW)
- Mascara Dorada, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs. Kenny Omega, Matt & Nick Jackson (NJPW)
- Jushin Liger (c) vs. Chase Owens for the NWA Junior heavyweight championship (NJPW)
- Rob Conway (c) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan for the NWA World Heavyweight championship (NJPW)
- Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
- Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi (NJPW)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga (NJPW)
- Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Open Weight Championship (NJPW)
- Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Yuji Nagata for the IWGP Intercontinental championship (NJPW)
- Mini Abismo Negro, Mini Charly Manson & Mini Psycho Clown defeat Mascarita Sagrada , Mini Drago & Octagoncito (AAA)
- Fenix, Myzteziz & Psycho Clown defeat El Hijo del Fantasma, Pentagon Jr. & Perro Aguayo Jr. (AAA)
- A.J. Styles & The Young Bucks vs. ACH, Matt Sydal & Cedric Alexander (ROH)
- James Mason vs. Carl Curtis (ASW)
- Dean Allmark vs. Nathan Cruz (ASW)
Satoshi Kojima & Yohei Komatsu vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan
Not much of a match. Komatsu was given very little. A get it in and go home type of match. Would have been better off as the second match than the opener.
Tiger Mask IV & Jay White vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
Better than the opener but still felt off at points. White wasn’t as crisp as he has looked. He did a back elbow to Fish on the apron that nearly whiffed and just seemed a bit off in his timing at times. Tiger Mask was also a bit off I thought, particularly his kicks. He’s looked good over the past couple of months, but seemed off in this one. Credit to reDRagon who have gotten to the point where they can have a passable match without doing too much and with opponents who are having slight off nights.
Mascara Dorada, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley vs. Kenny Omega, Matt & Nick Jackson
Fun. Heel side used a lot of normal Buck spots (super kicks, spike tombstone) as triple teams. Dorada looked good (again). He was also over in Sendai which is nice to see. Quick paced match as expected. Taguchi was supposed to be in this so Dorada was an obvious upgrade. Spot of the match was Dorada doing a sunset flip power bomb on Omega from the apron to the floor. Omega would have hit his head on the railing but they anticipated that had placed the Bucks in front of the rail to break the fall. Solid quick paced six-man to set up Dorada has the next junior title challenger.
Jushin Liger (c) vs. Chase Owens
NWA Junior heavyweight championship
Short and not bad but Chase Owens just does not have much value. Could have replaced him with a long list of US indie guys and had the same 0r much better match. Bruce Tharpe was immensely entertaining as Owens’ second as usual. Liked the pinning combo finish. Liger retained which means the NWA junior title is sticking around for a little longer. They set up a Tiger Mask/Liger title match that they have been teasing. Should be fun. I also hope all of these junior titles currently floating around lead to some sort of mini J-Crown. I always loved the title multiple title belt gimmick.
Rob Conway (c) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
NWA World Heavyweight championship
Poor match 75% of the way, but towards the end the crowd threw their full support by Tenzan which made for a fun ending. Conway nailed Tenzan with the title and the fans bought that as the finish. After Tenzan kicked out, the crowd was completely in his corner the rest of the way. Tenzan knocked Tharpe off of the apron with some headbutts while setting up for the moonsault. Seemed certain that Conway would move but he didn’t and Tenzan picked up the win. Not good but helped by the fan support Tenzan had. I guess all that noise about the NWA and NJPW going separate ways was just that.
Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
The Sakuraba and Ibushi interaction was exciting. The standup exchange was solid with the obvious caveat that Sakuraba’s body just won’t allow him to move at the pace necessary for truly high level shoot style stuff anymore. I watched the first (12/2/97) Sakuraba/Kanehara match last night and needless to say, the difference between that Sakuraba and this one in terms of physical condition is night and day. The moonsault into cross arm breaker spot was well executed. There is definitely potential for a fun 10 minute Ibushi/Sakuraba singles where they work standup at first then go into a normal pro style match with submission spots mixed in.
Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi
Exactly as it should have been. They worked a quick pace with YOSHI-HASHI getting a chance to shine, Okada and Fale feuding, and Yujiro serving as the fall guy. The Okada/Fale story has progressed to the point where Okada clearly has the one up on him and its only a matter of time before he beats Fale in a singles match. Fale left without Yujiro which may or may not be foreshadowing anything.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga
Good match, both overall and for its role on the card. Anderson didn’t have a great night but I thought the others all looked good. They worked a simple six-man tag where all three faces got worked over briefly. Shibata has developed a nice Daniel Bryan-esque hot tag routine. At the way end of this, he came in and hit a couple of corner drop kicks that had a lot of intensity to them in a traditional baby face way that fired the crowd up. As mentioned, Anderson had a coupe of rough moments including a slip up on a double team on Tanahashi. Tanahashi hit the high fly flow to predictably pin Tonga. The exact sort of simple and effective match you want in this place before the two big singles main events.
Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii
NEVER Open Weight Championship
A match that gets me physically moving in my chair in rhythm with the near falls and talking out loud to myself (especially at 7 in the morning) clearly did a lot right. Honma has that very, very rare connection with the fans. Not just a group of them but all of them. He portrays the down on his luck, but always fighting character better than anyone going. He’s Dusty Rhodes if Dusty had Honma’s physicality and athleticism. The teases of the Koteshi were awesome as they always were. Ishii’s selling earlier on was great and the match had a perfect flow. Honma was constantly fighting from behind and Ishii was slowly but surely getting worn down. I thought the first 15 minutes were excellent, borderline brilliant stuff. The top rope to the floor Koteshi is such an awesome desperation spot.
The match was a tremendous 18 minute match that had to go 25 minutes. It did suffer from going too long and getting into too many kick outs and fighting spirit spots. It was far from a deal breaker, but they totally had me had the 18-20 minute mark. Any finish around that period would have been excellent. The match peaked there. By the time it ended around the 25 minute mark, they had lost a bit of that momentum they had built up. Near falls should build and build and build in terms of degree. These built, then flat lined, then maybe even took a step back.
A great match that would have been excellent had it gone about 5 minutes shorter and/or handled the last five minutes diffferently.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Yuji Nagata
IWGP Intercontinental championship
The video before the match showing Nagata with his wife and then his young son was excellent. The story was that Nagata considered retirement after being relegated to the dark match battle royal at the Tokyo Dome. This title shot was his chance at instant redemption. Simple but effective story telling that crossed over any language barriers.
The match did not quite live up to the setup in terms of drama. I think they were partially hurt by a burnt out crowd from the prior match, which is a risk you run when you a book a semi-final like Ishii/Honma. Nagata worked hard and there were a lot of well reasoned ideas, but it did not quite gel into the great match they probably envisioned. I thought the way they structured the match (Nagata working from behind, giving it a good effort, but being clearly a step behind Nakamura) was the right call. It just didn’t all come together as well as it might have under different circumstances. They couldn’t have done this, but in hindsight the NEVER title and this match would have both been better served had they switched places on the card. This was a good match but lacked the heat you’d want and didn’t feel like a big main event, particularly after the last match. Nothing wrong with the match, just not a great main event.
Mini Abismo Negro, Mini Charly Manson & Mini Psycho Clown defeat Mascarita Sagrada , Mini Drago & Octagoncito
Good mini’s match that was about on par with the 2015 and 2014 CMLL Pequeños Reyes del Aire in terms of quality. Mascarita Sagrada barely avoided disaster mid-match when he slipped off the apron and fell out of site to the floor below. He got up as soon as he hit the ground so he must have landed okay. He was less lucky at the end of the match. In performing a hurricanrana from the top rope to the floor on Mini Abismo Negro, Mascarita Dorada came up a bit short on the follow through. The back of his head slapped violently on the floor and he was stretched out while the finish was going on in the ring. Didn’t look good.
Mini Drago managed a spinning head scissors that was at least four rotations. When he wasn’t nearly dying, Mascarita Sagrada hit the always awesome looking springboard flip hurricanrana. The rudo team added in some fine basic offense but mainly served as solid bases for their counterparts. Mini Psycho Clown and Mini Abismo Negro were particularly impressive in that regard. Good heat (as seems to be the norm these days in AAA) brought up a notch. Worth watching, particularly if you liked the Pequeños Reyes del Aire from this year.
Fenix, Myzteziz & Psycho Clown defeat El Hijo del Fantasma, Pentagon Jr. & Perro Aguayo Jr.
First 5 – 8 minutes was the usual AAA trios main event brawling with chairs and tables. I don’t particularly care for that style, but this was high energy enough and more importantly, had a real match that came after it. After the brawling/hardcore stuff was out of the way, the match was decent. Myzteziz looked good which his two strong 2015 AAA performances from him. He hit a couple of nice dives, showed good energy, and executed everything well. Spot of the match was Fenix flipping over the top turnbuckle and hitting a lucha arm drag on Pentagon who was on the ring apron. They didn’t pull it off 100% smooth, but it was still a really cool move that I don’t think I have ever seen before. If you like AAA brawling stuff and/or can sit through it to get to 10 minutes of good “normal” AAA action, than this is worth a watch.
A.J. Styles & The Young Bucks vs. ACH, Matt Sydal & Cedric Alexander
This match got some hype from the live crowd as a very good, ****+ match. I would not go that far, but it was an enjoyable high flying/high impact six-man. It would have been easy to structure the match as a bell-to-bell sprint with guys tagging in and out, but they did not go that route. The match was broken into three sections, not-so-coincidentally broken up by a pair of commercial breaks. Everyone got in during the opening section with the babyface team getting in a little more of the offense, but everyone getting their chance to get stuff in. Alexander’s more basic but perfectly executed offense stood out during this part. Sydal – who seems to have shaken off most of his ring rust – was also good during this part.
The Bullet Club took over right before the first commercial break. They worked over Sydal for a while peppering in some nice double and triple teams. Really fast paced stuff the entire time. Should also mention that the match had great heat. The Philly crowd went nuts from (before) the bell rang to the way end. Some chanting, but mainly just reacting big time to all of the offense.
The third section (which probably started right before the second commercial set) had several cool spots; too many to list. ACH tried the Mascara Dorada fence hopping hurricanrana. He did not pull it off as well as Dorada does and it potentially could have been bad for both ACH and Styles, but both guys ended up okay. Sydal did a double hurricanrana on the Bucks that I thought looked really good. Last five minutes were all action (not that the rest of the match was slow or anything). Lots and lots of super kicks, including at the finish. The finish itself with the super kicks, the triple teams, and the Styles Clash was well executed. The Bullet Club triple teams might have been my favorite part of the match. They had some good ones, far better than the Bucks/Omega did for their match in Sendai.
I probably will have this above the three way IWGP junior tag title match from earlier in the week and in the same vicinity (or above) the CMLL mini cibernetico and AAA mini’s match from earlier in the day. The execution was not always 100% but they tried so much high level stuff that perfect execution should not be expected. Fun match overall and worth checking out.
James Mason vs. Carl Curtis
An all baby face match up which meant a lot of basic working holds and a lot of comedy. The math was solid. Mason is a pro and although comedy is not his biggest strength, he did well as the straight man. Mason held together the parts hold exchanges. Curtis was solid but not did not offer significantly more than any other warm body would. Since this was an all face match up, they had to work harder to get the crowd involved and succeeded overall. Easy to watch but not anything worth going out for your way for.
Dean Allmark vs. Nathan Cruz
Average match. This was a #1 contender’s match for the Super Slam title currently held by Thunder (not CMLL’s Thunder obviously but equally terrible). Cruz played subtle heel though this was essentially face/face. Cruz is limited so the ceiling here wasn’t high. Allmark wrestled his usual match which is never bad. They went to a a 15 minute draw and got there rather effortlessly. The draw felt a bit flat, though. Post-match, Allmark suggests that they both face Thunder for the title the next time All-Star comes through.