3. Semi-Finals: Hirooki Goto vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
4. Semi-Finals: Kazuchika Okada vs. Toru Yano
5. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer & TAKA Michinoku)
6. Time Splitters (KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley), Hiroshi Tanahashi & Cpt. New Japan vs. Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi), Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga
7. Finals: Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada
Great finale, I appreciated the opening and middle parts, although nothing special was happening there, but it’s always nice to see Okada working his opponent’s neck as a base for the Rainmaker. But the last chapter of the match was amazing, very exciting and dramatic. Not to mention I really thought Goto winning the tournament (again) was lock, so Okada’s victory was such a pleasant surprise, didn’t see that coming, tbh.
Although not as great as Day 2, this was still a damn enjoyable show, with solid to good matches in the undercard, and with excellent main event.
Re: Official Puro Match/DVD Discussion Thread (NO SPOILERS)
Spoiler for New Japan Cup Final:
NJPW New Japan Cup 2013 Finals
Super Strong Machine, Yuji Nagata & BUSHI vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask
I got some enjoyment out of the Nagata/Nakanishi strike exchanges; even though they were barely touching other and there was little to no selling shown. It just goes to show how well a boatload of charisma can do a pretty decent job of masking any flaws you may have as a worker. But overall, this was a total mess.
Takashi Iizuka, YOSHI-HASHI & Yujiro Takahashi vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Togi Makabe
Poor brawling and a completely naff control segment on Tenzan; A totally empty match up until the Makabe hot tag. Things do pick up when Makabe gets tagged in. Makabe is a pretty poor worker most of time, but he's great at playing the fresh babyface that gets tagged in after a hot tag.
New Japan Cup Semi-Final:
Hirooki Goto vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Smith Jr. had yet another very good performance here. He was on fire during this year's cup. This time he's playing a heel again, and he's still adding subtle little things into his matches like kicking off the ropes when he had Goto in a headlock to bring them both down to the mat. It's stuff like this that's made Smith Jr. a treat to watch recently. Goto felt like he was just following the lead though here.
New Japan Cup Semi-Final:
Kazuhiko Okada vs Toru Yano
This match started out very fun, light-hearted and didn't take itself too seriously but it manages to knock it up a gear during the finishing stretch and manages to create some pretty dramatic near-falls from Yano. This did however felt like a bit of a Yano carryjob though; Okada still looks awkward as a babyface and his new submission is pretty poor.
Jado, Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii vs Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku
Everyone in this match bar Nakamura/Archer had great interactions with each other. Jado was great playing the babyface and added a new dimension to his 'Jado Flair' character. Very funny stuff. Ishii was also fantastic as always. I really hope he gets a singles match with either Suzuki or Archer some when because of what we saw here.
Prince Devitt, Ryusuke Taguchi, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga vs Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA, Captain New Japan & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Similar to the other Tanahashi vs Devitt tag matches from this current tour but with the added antics of one Captain New Japan. Is it weird that he's really growing on me as of late?
New Japan Cup Final:
Kazuchika Okada vs Hirooki Goto
I felt this delivered in a satisfactory fashion. Both guys were pretty decent in this even though I had to watch the first 10-15 minutes at 2x speed. It's just a thing I have with current NJPW main events; I find them some what boring and draggy in the beginning parts of the match. Oh well. This was pretty good in the finishing stretch though. Fun back and forth match with some great bumping from Okada.
Skip the first two matches and you're looking at yet another good New Japan show.
Re: Official Puro Match/DVD Discussion Thread (NO SPOILERS)
My humble review of: Genichiro Tenryu vs Satoshi Kojima-AJPW 17.7.2002.
I'm not a Kojima guy. I never was and I never will be. I like his shtick but I roll my eyes every time someone brings him up as a great worker. This is his career performance and I'm still not sure I'd call him the better worker. Daniel says Tenryu was never much for constructing matches, and he sure fooled me here. He was so good at making every single detail matter and by the end of the match both me, Stan Hansen and Budokan wanted Kojima to win so badly. Tenryu knows he is no Jumbo when it comes to Jumbo-selling for his opponent, but he sure knows how to adjust. This is match-related, so I'll put it in the spoiler tag, it doesn't contain the result of the match but it does contain its content and I advise you to read it after you've watched it(my whole analysis pretty much ended up in it but oh well):
Spoiler for spoiler:
First, they use legwork as a transition into a Kojima control segment. Tenryu is aware of his overness, and he doesn't run away from it. The fans chant for Tenryu to get to the ropes as he desperately crawls towards them. What makes this segment work is Tenryu's BRILLIANT selling, even when Kojima wasn't directly attacking his leg he'd go back to it every now and then without it getting cartoonish for the sake of it. Subtle is the way I like it. Also, I must commend these men for their awesome facial expressions which I will showcase in as pictures in my next spoiler tag. Facials are a very important part of selling the drama, and probably the crucial one when it comes the "resthold limbhold". Even though a Kojima Sasori Gatame isn't likely to end a match, if sold right it can achieve the drama of a Bret Hart holding a bloody Austin in a Sharpshooter, and it was here. The crowd is now red hot, and Kojima had his fair share of supporters going into the match, so what transition will they choose that will make the crowd cheer Kojima like he is their saviour? A low blow straight away? It might seem like a good idea, but it feels cheap and forced. It's american, not japanese. So, instead of that, Tenryu hit a low blow on Kojima in the middle of the legwork segment. Because japanese fans remember. So, when they transitioned from the legwork into the WARRIOR STRIKE EXCHANGES~! and Kojima started winning them, the fans were pleased. The finishing stretch is breath taking. One could argue it was too much, but exhaustion and weak covers are a good enough excuse for me, and the finisher hitting actually had a purpose behind it, not to mention a move that was "below" the Brainbuster ended the match because it was followed by a quick and effective cover. TENRYU GENIUS.
There's a really cool mini-narrative with Kojima stealing Tenryu's move(s), and it serves as his revenge for Tenryu mocking his tag team partner in their previous encouter. However, if I hadn't been able to "connect" the two I'd doubt my rating would change by more than 1-2%. It served as a really cool visual pun, not as great storytelling. I came into this match expecting stifness and big spots, and I got so much more....but you needn't worry, it's ungodly stiff too!
Spoiler for something finishing stretch related:
Someone once described this as nothing more than a bunch of Brainbusters. I will find and Guh Punch that individual.
Spoiler for Epic facials:
A true bond of trust between a master and a pet must be deeper than the Sea of Japan and longer than Choshu's mullet
Fuck, this was only 7 minutes long, and yet they clipped it. It was not bad, from what I’ve checked. Fuchi’s old man schtick never fails to entertain me. And fuck me, but I’m really enjoying KENSO’s matches this year, he’s a perfect lowcard act.
Good match, Kanemaru looks much better in All Japan, and it reflects on his work. This was really good, but the finishing stretch had one or two nearfalls too much, the overkill mode.
5. LAST REVOLUTION (Masahiro Chono, Joe Doering & Shuji Kondo) vs. SMOP (Akebono & Ryota Hama) & Yasufumi Nakanoueno
Poor Nakanoueno got his ass kicked all around the ring here, this is how you pay your dues. Chono looked really good.
6. Keiji Mutoh & Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & Masayuki Kono
Bad match, they were way too soft and disconnected. Big Tak and Frye trying to recreate their Pride fight, though, was cool, and Kono’s appearance reeks of Okada too much.
7. Seiya Sanada vs. KAI
Not bad, but still underwhelming return match for KAI, mainly because Sanada’s workovers were really dull. KAI didn’t exactly set the world on fire either, but he was watchable. Hopefully he does well in the heavyweight division. Champion’s Carnival will be the real test for both guys.
Yep, this was great, and I mean REALLY great. Having watched and followed their almost 2-month feud, I appreciated this even more. This match was pure badassery, manliness and power struggle. Survival of the fittest, intensity, perseverance. Soya went on hiatus with style, he got his ass and head kicked silly. The match was a really long and exhausting battle, full of strategic workovers and face-in-peril segments, highlighted by awesome climax.
Pure brilliance, but as others said, this match is not for everyone. I loved it, they wrestled a smart, tactical match where every transition and comeback were hard earned and persistent. The selling was absolutely top notch, particularly from Suwama. They made nice callbacks on their 9/23 title match. Funaki’s strikes were vicious, particularly in the finishing stretch, loved the KO attempts. This was human chess game, old school war, the best All Japan match since Suwama/Akiyama from 2011.
Finally, a big All Japan show that is on par with New Japan’s big shows. Two title tags and the main event are highly recommended.
Semi-Finals: Hirooki Goto vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.: ***
Semi-Finals: Kazuchika Okada vs. Toru Yano: ****
CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer & TAKA Michinoku): ***1/2
Time Splitters (KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley), Hiroshi Tanahashi & Cpt. New Japan vs. Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi), Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga: ***1/4
Finals: Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada: ****1/4
- First two matches were throwaways but other than that this was essentially another really good event by NJPW.
- Unsurprisingly, Okada had the two best matches but what was surprising to me at least was how great and damn entertaining his match with Yano was. I've given Yano a lot of shit for his two other garbage performances against Nakanishi and Suzuki but I got to admit he was fantastic in his match with Okada and added a lot to the story of the match. Really funny and entertaining throughout and I legitimately thought he could win at certain points. I'm glad he's proven me wrong at least this time.
- The NJ cup final was an excellent excellent match. Built up fantastically well throughout and the finishing 5 mins were outstanding. Really exciting dramatic stuff. They really teased the hell out of Goto potentially winning who threw everything at Okada. Okada was over as fuck in this match too and the crowd were behind him for the majority of the match.
- I've really enjoyed this years NJ cup overall. There were some questionable booking decisions here and there but for the most part the tournament was great. Having said that, Okada winning only makes sense if he beats Tanahashi for the title at Invasion Attack. So he's got to win in my book.
Junior Stars (Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka) (c) vs. Burning (Atsushi Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki): ****+
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs. Kaz Hayashi: *** 1/4
Last Revolution (Joe Doering, Masahiro Chono & Shuji Kondo) vs. SMOP (Akebono & Ryota Hama)
& Yasufumi Nakanoue: ** 1/2
Don Frye & Keiji Muto vs. Masayuki Kono & Yoshihiro Takayama: *3/4
KAI vs. Seiya Sanada: **1/2
Get Wild (Manabu Soya & Takao Omori) (c) vs. Burning (Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama): ****1/2
Masakatsu Funaki (c) vs. Suwama: ****1/4
- The Junior tag title match and the last two matches made this a great show. Burning have been fantastic since arriving to AJPW. They've really been adding to the product and it shows. Especially that epic heavyweight tag war with Get Wild which is one of my matches of the year so far.
- If AJPW produce quality shows like this on a more regular basis then I will definitely have to follow them a lot more closely from now on.
Re: Official Puro Match/DVD Discussion Thread (NO SPOILERS)
Manami Toyota vs Akira Hokuto (AJW Destiny 02/09/1995)
★★★ 3/4 LINK
Yeah, Toyota bumps off the ropes like a 5th day trainee but everything else was relatively great comparably to what you're to find on WWE or TNA programming. Hell, it even showed veteran mastership at times. The last time I saw botches being transitioned, mid-flow, into a different move in covering it up was one of the Casas' matches. One of. One. It's hardly ever done, and something I mark really hard for because it adds a realism to the product and my respect to their expertise. An expertise, too, that (in this match) reminded me so much of the Generico/Steen match-up from PWG's Steen Wolf. It, of course, wasn't as good but boy are people wrong in calling either match a spotfest. It's all about HATE.
Both women showed that they'd rather drastically shorten not only their careers but their lives, as well, in ensuring they wouldn't lose. I absolutely adored how they told a story both within their physical movements and their facial reactions. It really adds depth to the feud that they're portraying - an art lost on many wrestlers, sadly. While losing was a big priority in avoiding, victory was also not the aim of either wrestler. The victory was secondary to beating their opponent to an inch of their life in proving who was the alpha female. Hokuto could have left Toyota in a heap after the second table bomb but the sight of Toyota still clinging to hope was one she couldn't stand. Should they have mixed up their offence and not relied solely on the same table spot? Perhaps, but it was effective in portraying its brutality each time. The same goes for Toyota, too, in levelling Hokuto with two of her finishers instead of a more than sufficient single execution. Forget the rules, because these types of matches are your notable exceptions.
Hey, Chris Brown, what do you think of women being stiffed?