Current Watch List:
- TAKA Michinoku vs. Oshio Yoshino (K-DOJO)
- Shiori Asahi & Ayumu Honda vs. Yuji Hino & Hiro Tonai (K-DOJO)
- Daigoro Kashiwa, Ryuichi Sekine & Kotaro Nasu vs. Tank Nagai, Kunio Toshima & Yuma (K-DOJO)
- Kaji Tomato vs. Yuji Sato for UWA World Middleweight championship (K-DOJO)
- Kengo Mashimo vs. Saburo Inematsu for Champion of Strongest-K (K-DOJO)
- Eddie Kingston vs. Kevin Condron (Chikara)
- The Throwbacks, Shynron, Jervis Cottonbelly & Princess Kimberlee vs. Blaster McMassive, Max Smashmaster, Flex Rumblecrunc, Jaka & Oleg the Usurper (Chikara)
- The Colony (Worker Ant, Silver Ant & Fire Ant) vs. Jakob Hammermeier, Pinkie Sanchez & Soldier Ant (Chikara)
- Icarus (c) vs. Chuck Taylor for the Chikara Grand Championship (Chikara)
- Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. Big E. & Kofi Kingston (WWE)
- New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension (WWE)
- Damien Sandow & The Miz vs. Jimmy & Jey Uso (c) for the WWE Tag Team championship
- John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar (c) for WWE World championship (WWE)
- Royal Rumble (WWE)
- Rey Cometa vs. Tiger in a lightning match (CMLL)
- Atlantis, Titán, Volador Jr. vs Ephesto, Kráneo, Mephisto (CMLL)
- Anubis Black & Hip Hop Man defeat Alfa & Dragon Celestial (IWRG)
- Akito (c) vs. Makoto Oishi for the K-OD Open Weight championship in a no rope breaks match (DDT)
- Daisuke Sekimoto, Yuji Okabayashi & Kota Ibushi vs. Happy Motel (Konosuke Takeshita & Tetsuya Endo) & HARASHIMA (DDT)
- Rhyno & Tigrillo vs. Asgard & Cyrax (UIPW-LA)
- Mr. Niebla, Shamu Jr. & Acero Dorado vs. Juventud Guerrera, Sin Limite & Dr. Maldad (UIPW-LA)
- Carlito (c) vs. The Might Ursus in a Ring of Fire match for the WWC Universal championship (WWC)
TAKA Michinoku vs. Oshio Yoshino
Real basic stuff with Taka working against a student in the opener of a K-DOJO show. TAKA worked a headlock most of the match. It wasn’t your usual headlock match in the sense that the match was not built around maintaining the headlock and escaping from it. There were no hold-on spots or no innovative escape attempts. TAKA just held onto a headlock early on and wouldn’t let go. The turning point came when Yohsino got a rope break and pounded TAKA with forearms. TAKA tried to reapply the headlock but was unsuccessful, landing in couple of different submission positions before putting Yohino away. Fun, ultra basic, rookie versus veteran match.
Shiori Asahi & Ayumu Honda vs. Yuji Hino & Hiro Tonai
Good opening stuff with basic but interesting mat work. Honda got worked over for a while with Hino and Tonai working in some so-so comedy. That part of the match dragged the whole thing down. Honda performed much better on offense, doing arm-centric stuff and constantly trying for an arm bar. The lack of any heat on these shows hurts. Tonai supplied most of the comedy and was solid in the ring as well. Match picked up for the ending (everyone seemed to be saving up for the stretch run) and they got as good of a reaction as they were going to get given the size of the crowd, but it wasn’t enough to make this any better than okay at best.
Daigoro Kashiwa, Ryuichi Sekine & Kotaro Nasu vs. Tank Nagai, Kunio Toshima & Yuma
They brawl out of the ring to start and you can’t see anything until someone figures out to turn up the house lighting. Rather dull trios. These small K-DOJO crowds certainly do nothing to increase the excitement. The match felt disjointed and could have used more double and triple teams. In a promotion bearing the Kaientai name, you hope for more cohesive trios matches.
Kaji Tomato (c) vs. Yuji Sato
UWA World Middleweight Championship
This was fun. Tomato has the right mix of endearing goofiness and in-ring ability. He’s like a better version of Damien Sandow in that regard. The match was worked around Sato trying everything in his power to cheat (taking off the turnbuckle pads, constantly attempting to get rid of the referee), with Tomato not relenting. Eventually, Sato gets the referee down long enough to hit Tomato with his big stick and steal the pin (and the title). Conceptually, this felt like a match that Morishima and his stable have been wrestling over the past year but perhaps a bit more well executed than those guy’s normal effort. Tomato looked good and as impressed me in the few matches I’ve seen of his. Feels like a he could be a fun, goofy, undercard junior if New Japan had room for him.
Kengo Mashimo (c) vs. Saburo Inematsu
Champion of Strongest-K
Way too long. Worked a bit like a TNA main event type match or a bad indie epic in that they killed time in and out of the ring at the start, built to a big transition spot, than had a long back-and-forth ending that just kept going and going. The big transition spot was Inematsu blocking a ring apron penalty kick into a powerbomb through several chairs on the floor. The spot was well executed and both entourages got into on the outside as Mashimo lay injured. It was the sort of chaotic scene that would have worked well as a count out finish, but the match went on for a while from there. The near falls were largely weak and the submission attempts ceased to have any meaning after a certain point. There were some good strikes, but some bad ones too. I do like the idea of the seconds (in this case, Inematsu’s guys) beating a drum to encourage a comeback. Especially with such a small and largely quiet crowd as this one was, the extra noise helped. I like Mashimo to an extent and he was coming off of a very fun match against TAKA in December, but this just wasn’t very good.
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. Big E. & Kofi Kingston
United States & Canada
The Royal Rumble pre-show match was announced as an elimination six man tag with Adam Rose teaming with Kidd & Cesaro versus the entire New Day. Those six had a fun trios match a week back on Main Event, so it was a nice piece of rare C-Show continuity. Instead, the match was changed to a straight up tag for . . . some reason.
Philly crowd was hot for Cesaro and boo’d Big E. a bunch to the surprise of no one. Not much of a match although the crowd helped it out by being into everything. Cesaro and Kidd make for a good team but they haven’t yet had the sort of performance I’d expect from the team on paper. They do have a couple of decent double teams like the superplex/springboard elbow drop combo and the giant swing into a dropkick. Big. E did the spear through the rope which is such a great spot. Also liked the bump he took over the corner turnbuckle to the floor. It was a bump you usually don’t see in WWE so almost felt like they did it as a tease/set up for over the top rope spots coming later on (I’m sure it wasn’t, but that would be neat if it was).
New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension
United States & Canada
I hope they go full tilt with the storyline of The Ascension vs. veteran tag teams because if they went over four or five cleanly, they would have a nice shot at getting over. Problem is that they are not a ton of those teams available. Hardys, Edge & Christian, Dudleys, and basically any pre-2000 WWE tag team are unavailable for various reasons. Too Cool is around. Rock ‘n Roll would no doubt take the payday. Ron Simmons could probably stand on the apron while JBL eats a pin. Not a ton of options.
I though Billy Gunn looked legit good in this match. Enjoyed his opening segment that was typical but good tag team stuff. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker was landed nicely. He ate the Ascension’s finish well. This match went exactly how it should have.
Damien Sandow & The Miz vs. Jimmy & Jey Uso (c)
United States & Canada
WWE Tag Team Championship
Sandow was way over and that’s what made this match work. The gimmick is legitimately good and well executed by both Sandow and the Miz. It is just a mid card, low card gimmick with a limited shelf life but that’s okay. It would be even more okay if more guys higher up on the ladder were over because then it could just nestle in around that Too Cool/Rikishi spot of fun, over act that can bridge the gap to the top guys. Instead, it stands out more than it should because Sandow is more over than 90% of the promotion. This was the normal Usos match mixed with the normal Sandow/Miz match. Good dives from the Usos. The tried and true dynamic of Miz not tagging in Mizdow worked nicely on the Philly crowd.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar (c) for WWE World championship
United States & Canada
WWE World Championship
A good match – particularly by normal 3-way standards – but I was no enamored with it. On the positive side, I really liked the flow of the first 5 minutes or so in terms of keeping things flowing without being overly obvious about having one wrestler out of the ring at all times. The whole match succeeded in that regard to a point, but they really did a good job in the opening. The “Brock is an indestructible monster storyline got over well. In a vacuum, he probably got up from too much but the point was to make him indestructible so, there really isn’t such a thing as “getting up from too much” in that context. His suplexes looked nasty. The bump Rollins took on his shoulder looked all kinds of messed up. Cena continued his tradition of taking German suplexes from Brock like he is in mid-90’s All-Japan. They got a few good near falls in at different points in the match and not just the way end, which isn’t always easy.
I do think the suplexes are becoming a bit of overkill in the sense they are losing their specialness. The match peaked with Rollins putting Brock through the table. I understand they wanted Brock to sell that for a while to get over the idea that he was making a comeback from a big time injury, but the Rollins/Cena action in the ring while that was going on felt aimless. Just a bunch of kick outs with maybe only one having much in the way of drama since it became obvious after a while that Brock was getting up.
I thought they did an excellent job in getting Brock over huge without totally sacrificing either Rollins or Cena along the way. The match maintained a nice flow for most of it relative to your typical 3-way but was not immune from some of the normal 3-way rhythm issues. It was a kitchen sink match and those are going to usually get over and be effective, as long as the wrestlers are over and effective. So while it definitely worked and was definitely entertaining, I am not sure it had that extra something to reach that next level.
Royal Rumble (WWE)
United States & Canada
So yea, this was something.
In general, I thought it was a middle of the pack Rumble. I consider a Rumble a success when there are a very memorable moments and I find myself more engaged than bored in total. Had they not made very questionable booking decisions involving Bryan, some of the other babyfaces, and the way the ending was handled, it would have been an unremarkable but fine match. As it were, that other stuff was so distracting that it shot it down a couple of pegs. Just a fascinating match to look at from a “what went right/what went wrong” with the booking view.
Rey Cometa vs. Tiger
A good five minutes but they never really peaked; the match just sort of ended. It is possible to have a very good five minute match if it is an entire match that is fit into five minutes. The problem with a lot of shorter lightning matches is they feel like 8 or 9 minute lightning matches that just end four minutes early. What they did was good – fast paced, smooth, good dive by Cometa – but the match just sort of ended around the 5 minute mark. Tiger didn’t get in much.
Atlantis, Titán, Volador Jr. vs Ephesto, Kráneo, Mephisto
Throw away Sunday Arena Mexico trios. Atlantis did his tope and Titan had a few neat pieces of offense but nobody was going all out here. I always enjoy Kraneo as a bumper and he took a couple of nice ones in this match. Nothing to see here.
Anubis Black & Hip Hop Man defeat Alfa & Dragon Celestial
One of those matches where the quality was entirely dependent on who was working together. The Dragon Celestial and Hip Hop Man segments were good. Anubis Black and Dragon Celestial were okay together. Anything with Alfa stunk. He was definitely the anchor of this match. Like many an IWRG match the first fall with the more basic style stuff was the highlight.
Akito (c) vs. Makoto Oishi
No rope break match for the DDT Extreme title
Promotions have played around with the standard rope break rules for years in an effort to find the right formula. Shoot style promotions (RINGS, UWFi) had rope breaks built into a greater point system. WCW got rid of ropes (and therefore, rope breaks) entirely for the messy Dean Malenko versus Billy Kidman (subbing for Chris Benoit) match at WCW Souled Out 2000. Dragon Gate – particularly CIMA and Super Shisa – have made fine use of 2-count, 3 rope break rules in recent years. The idea behind all of those matches is to diminish or remove entirely the ability to get out of a submission hold by grabbing the ropes. This match, where rope breaks are done away with entirely, had the same goal. The idea is to create a gimmick that enhances the drama of a match by altering the standard rope break rules.
I am not sure no rope breaks at all is necessarily the way to go (I prefer the drama/strategy of having to carefully use your limited number of rope breaks), but I though Akito and Oishi did a strong job with the rules they were given to work with. The temptation with this gimmick is to do a lot of submissions in the ropes like Tajiri’s Tarantula or Minoru Suzuki’s arm bar in the ropes. This match had those spots and spots like it, but they didn’t let those things consume the match entirely. They used the gimmick in other unique and value added ways. They used the leverage of the ropes to reverse holds. They fell out of the ring while in a submission hold in order to break it. They avoided being put in a hold knowing that the risk of getting trapped in a hold is greater when the ropes cannot be used as a means of breaking it. There were a bunch of cool spots.
Where the match came up short was the stuff that did not directly involve the gimmick. The regular work was not great to begin with and also felt out of place in a match that was otherwise heavily submission-based. The standup and grapple based offense didn’t hold up to the submission & rope spots. I thought the good outweighed the bad, however. Akito and Oishi took a gimmick that is not without its flaws and made use of it.
Kota Ibushi, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs. HARASHIMA, Tetsuya Endo & Konosuke Takeshita
A well put together prelude match. There are elements in this match that I am not a big fan of (some of the strike exchanges, some no selling/popping up) but they were overshadowed by the way the match was structured. The match smartly began with Ibushi and HARASHIMA doing some feeling out stuff that didn’t even scratch the surface, before keeping them apart until the end. Endo was worked over for a while. The goal of the match was largely to hype Okabayashi and Sekimoto as Endo & Takeshita’s tag title challengers on February 15th. The two Big Japan heavyweights haven’t been around in DDT much so this was their first interaction with the champions as part of the build. They could mix it up a bunch without worrying about blowing too much in a prelude match as a result. The segment where Endo got worked over was very good and the hot tag to Takeshita was well-executed and drew a good reaction. I loved how Endo and Takeshita played underdogs to Sekimoto and Okabayashi by selling their strikes. Takeshita taking bumps on single knife edge jobs was a great touch. It will mean so much more if they retain at the Saitama Super Area now that it has been established that they are not as strong and not as experienced as the champions. Had they gone toe to toe with them here, what is the intrigue for the title match?
Ibushi and HARASHIMA kept their interaction limited. They gave you a taste of what they are likely going to do in their upcoming title bout without giving away the farm. The ending was the right call and was well-executed. This is how you do an effective prelude match. The wrestling was hit or miss, but the structure and story were right on.
Rhyno & Tigrillo vs. Asgard & Cyrax
It is difficult to watch a lot of wrestling and not go through periods where certain types of matches or styles or wrestlers just don’t appeal to you. I concluded I needed to add a little more 2015 US indies to my plate but not much is out yet from the paid sources. Clicking around YouTube revealed a lot of typical US indie looking stuff, none of which I could really get through. So I compromised by watching some US lucha indies instead.
This is the opener from a UIPW-LA show and given its place on the card, it succeeded. Truth be told, I decided to watch this particular match because Asgard was chubby in a Super Boy sort of way and Rhyno was fat in like a Nino Hamburgesa sort of way. I was hoping for some fat guy dives, but sadly there were none to be had. All four guys did work a rather smooth 10 minute match with some comedy mixed in for good measure. This wasn’t high end stuff or even good stuff, but they could slip into an IWRG card and not look totally out of place. Really enjoyed the comedy spots with the referee. Wrestling needs more referee comedy spots and Ted Tanabes.
Mr. Niebla, Shamu Jr. & Acero Dorado vs. Juventud Guerrera, Sin Limite & Dr. Maldad
The main event of the UIPW-LA show. This takes forever and a day to actually start. The entrances eat up a solid chunk of time. Niebla then decides to talk on the house mic for a while which of course gets Juvi to do the same. It was well over 10 minutes into the video before the match actually begins and even then it was sort of sluggish to get going.
The first fall was good enough that I started to think that maybe there was something here. The guys I didn’t know – particularly Sin Limite – looked very smooth. Sin Limite did several arm drags in the 1st and gave off the appearance of a seasoned pro. Niebla constantly avoided Juvi to the point where I got psyched for the eventual veteran showdown. Of course, it turned out to be a bit of a mirage. I have a tendency to get hyped during the 1st fall of a lucha trios involving young or inexperienced guys, only to quickly discover that the 1st fall was good simply because they ran out all of their good spots right away. That was the case here. Sin Limite looked far less polished the deeper he grabbed into his back. There were some rough patches where every got tangled up in the final two falls as well. One of the guy’s masks accidentally came off at one point. Mr. Niebla and Juvi sort of held it together but it was nothing special after the first.
The crowd was decidedly pro-rudo to start but Juvi and Niebla worked the crowd over to the point that they were largely able to turn them. I thought Juvi looked good last year when I watches his matches from Preston City Wrestling and I thought he still looked good here. He’s not the Juvi of old, but in the right environment, he probably has something to offer. Liked the finish where Mr. Niebla pulled off his own mask and sold the referee on the idea that one of the tecnicos did it. Fun but not worth going out of your way to see.
Carlito (c) vs. The Might Ursus
Ring of Fire match for the WWC Universal championship
Taped on January 3rd, this is not exactly an inferno match. The ropes were lit on fire for this one which certainly makes for a better spectacle than your WWE style inferno match. One of those matches where they worked it as they should given the gimmick, but it did not necessarily make for the most interesting match. Essentially the match consisted of Carlito and Ursus trying to shove each other into the fire. Carlito scores first getting Ursus hand to touch the fire. Then it is the arm and finally, he pushes his masked face into the flames. That’s enough to disorient Ursus or Carlito puts down with one of the few wrestling moves of the match to retain the title. They it kept short which it needed to be and as said, it was worked in the logical manner. Logical does not always = entertaining.
Eddie Kingston vs. Kevin Condron
The set up was that at Chikara’s 2014 season finale show from December, rookie Kid Cyclone voluntarily unmasked and went heel, targeting Eddie Kingston. That led to this match where Condron (the former Kid Cyclone) is not much attempting to defeat Kingston as is trying to make him lose. Kingston has 3 points towards a Chikara Grand Championship match and a loss would wipe those out. They work around the premise in a basic manner. Kingston beats up Condron a ton while Condron tries things like getting a double countout. He doesn’t care if he beats Kingston, as long as Kingston loses. The end is Condron faking a low blow which referee Jonathan Barber (I still love the fact that he is a referee now) buys on conjecture along. Good for what they were going for and they kept it short. Nothing worth seeing, though.
The Throwbacks, Shynron, Jervis Cottonbelly & Princess Kimberlee vs. Blaster McMassive, Max Smashmaster, Flex Rumblecrunch, Jaka & Oleg the Usurper
I am a Devastation Corporation fan. I like their gimmick and they have improved a ton in the ring over the past two years. Their 2 out of 3 falls title match versus the Throwbacks last December was an upper level 2014 tag match. Smashmaster has developed into a decent power wrestler and is at the point where I could see him making a singles push work. He and McMassive looked the best of anyone on the heel side. Dasher was fun as usual. The payoff of baseball slide gang up from the good guys was Shynron doing a dropkick from the top turnbuckle of one corner to the other onto all five guys. It looked good and he got more height than RVD ever tended to on the Van Terminator. Personally, I would have liked to seen this cut a few minutes short but it wasn’t overly wrong. A bit of a time filler match, but a reasonably okay one.
The Colony (Worker Ant, Silver Ant & Fire Ant) vs. Jakob Hammermeier, Pinkie Sanchez & Soldier Ant
Not very good, which was disappointing because I do think the Colony have a solid act. Pinke Sanchez is just awful, however, and neither Hammermeier or Worker Ant had good outings. The match was continued the story line of Fire Ant being hesitant to physically attack old partner Solider Ant, although Solider has no such no qualms about wrestling Fire Ant. As a result, the Colony struggles to get any momentum going. At one point, Fire Ant salutes Solider Ant, which seems to get through to Solider, but only momentarily until his other teammates intervened. Soldier also spent much of the match bickering with Jakob and Sanchez, presumably with the idea that Solider Ant is not really on their side, he simply has a bone to pick with the Colony. Best part of the match was Dasher Hatfield on commentary explaining why he picked the guys he picked for his team in the show opening 1o-man tag. He was going for the “Billy Beane strategy” he explained, picking wrestlers with a skill or two with the idea that together, the team would be more than the sum of their parts. Dasher understands Moneyball much more than many baseball analysts do.