Current Watch List:
- Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu (NJPW)
- Kushida & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Gedo & Jado (NJPW)
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Liger vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask (NJPW)
- Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto (NJPW)
- Tetsuya Naito & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (NJPW)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (NJPW)
- Michael Schenkenberg vs. Timothy Thatcher (wXw)
- AUTsiders (Big Daddy Walter & Robert Dreissker) vs. Sumerian Death Squad (Michael Dante & Tommy End) (wXw)
- Karsten Beck (c) vs. Ivan Kiev for the wXw Unified World Wrestling championship (wXw)
Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu
Liked Tanaka’s leg submissions on Komatsu. A nice change of pace from all of the young lion half crabs and he really worked the holds. rather than just slapping them on. The typical fundamentally sound match between these two. I always enjoy how Tanaka slams his opponent and without breaking contact, goes with into the half crab. Its a little thing that never fails to look good. It will be interesting to see how well they maintain those fundamentals when they eventually graduate to the main cards. The track record for that sort of thing isn’t very good. A fine opening match on any card.
Kushida & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Gedo & Jado
Gedo wants nothing to do with Nakanishi. He hugs the ref to goad Nakanishi into shaking his hand. It works in the sense that Nakanishi falls for the shake, but Gedo doesn’t get anywhere on offense before tagging in to a relunctant Jado. After the early comedy, Gedo/Jado work over Kushida for a bit before the hot tag and finish. Nakanishi racks Jado for the win. Nothing wrong here. Jado was moving around well. That’s nice to see.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Liger vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask
Interesting match in terms of having regular partners on opposite sides, but the match itself was not very good. Tiger Mask and Liger worked fine together. Kojima was okay, I thought Tenzan looked pretty awful. He’s the classic example of a guy that doesn’t have much to fall back on now that his body is failing him. Weak, mistimed offense form him throughout. They probably went a couple minutes longer than necessary. Tiger Mask got the pin on Liger to build to their upcoming NWA junior title match. I am guessing they’ll set up Kojima/Tenzan for the heavyweight belt at a later date.
Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto
The best match on the show and an above average match overall. Shibata has become a fine tag worker. His contributions in tag matches basically boil down to three distinct segments: working holds early, selling for the heels or during the other team’s comeback, and hitting his few signature spots during the stretch run. He was a lot of fun in the first part in this match. When he applied the Tenryu like leg scissors around the neck on Captain New Japan, he did not just sit in the hold but rather worked it in an engaging way. His selling for Captain New Japan and Nagata was on point. He got to his running corner drop kick, penalty kick, and other signature moves without having to dig much deeper into his playbook. I still think he is hit or miss as a single, but this match is proof that he has become a fine tag worker. Captain New Japan was way over and made a spirited comeback, which also helped the match. Nagata and Goto were fine. Good, shorter tag match that kept it effectively simple.
Tetsuya Naito & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi
Fine match, but not anything I’ll remember by tomorrow. Okada was over. I like Taguchi’s goofy personality (the manner in which he reenacted his counter to the hip toss was legitimately funny) and think there is value in it, but he hasn’t really be able to incorporate it into his overall work in a effective manner. You would think a guy with his goofy personality doing a done of hip-based offense would work, but there is something missing. I think that “something” is a lack of knowing what to do in between the comedy and hip checks. Everyone else was fine in the match buy nobody (or nothing) stood out. One of those replacement level matches.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
Typical house show New Japan main event tag. They kept it moving and everyone worked reasonably hard, but it was certainly not the caliber of match these six would produce on a bigger show. For whatever it is worth, I am completely fine with that. Wrestling is a physically demanding job and it seems perfectly reasonable that guys would tailor their output based on the stakes. Its not that they didn’t work hard in this match (or any other non-televised match) because they did. Tanahashi did a plancha. Okada did a bunch of stuff. Yoshi-Hashi ran all around the place. It is just they realize that there is no sense in giving away the farm in a low leverage situation. No need for Nakamura to dig deep into his offense or for Makabe and Ishii to kill each other with forearms when the show is ultimately not that important and they can be just as effective (ie. the fans leave the show satisfied and come back for me next time) when they work a scaled down match like this.
Michael Schenkenberg vs. Timothy Thatcher
This struck me as being a lot like most Thatcher matches. Solid, usually interesting but only occasionally high level mat worked surrounded by little else. I’ll take that, of course. It’s just I continue to not get the talk about Timothy Thatcher being one of the better wrestlers in the world. He is technically proficient. He does some of the vaunted “little things” people always talk about with him, but they are more of the shallow variety. Standing on Schenkenberg’s hand as he releases a hold or pulling back his fingers while working the arm are nice, but nothing extraordinary. When I think of current wrestlers that know how to “do the little things” and more importantly make them mean something, I think of someone like Daniel Bryan rather than Thatcher. For a guy who is praised for adding in little details, he released a couple of holds during this match without any transition or plan. Just dropped them and moved on. That’s not a huge deal but I point it out because that’s an important “little detail” that he doesn’t have grasp of. I enjoyed the focus on the arm bar but there was not much drama behind it. Thought the match was helped by a decent Hamburg crowd that was firmly behind the local. Average match.