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Rising Sun Soliloquy Newsletter #17 - Wrestleview.com

Rising Sun Soliloquy Newsletter #17

Rising Sun Soliloquy Newsletter #17
March 26, 2009
By: Hunter Golden of WrestleView.com


New Japan Pro Wrestling

Hirooki Gotoh Wins New Japan Cup Tournament

Hirooki Gotoh won the New Japan Cup tournament this past Sunday in Amagasaki, defeating the Giant Bernard in the finals, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,300 fans. The win means that Gotoh will face the winner of the April 5th Championship match at the Sumo Hall between Kurt Angle and Hiroshi Tanahashi on May 3rd in Fukuoka. Gotoh defeated recent rival Yuji Nagata in the semi finals while Bernard bested Yutaka Yoshie. In both matches, Gotoh won with an armlock submission, so be on the look out for that in the Fukuoka match. Tanahashi defeated Val Venis on the show in a non-title match with a high fly flow.

The Cup win is Goto's second big tournament victory within the last year. In August of last year, he surprised many by winning the G1 Climax Tournament, and continued his momentum here, defeating Shinsuke Nakamura, Yuji Nagata and the Giant Bernard all in succession. The wins were all of special significance to Goto. Nakamura is the #1 in the RISE faction, of which Gotoh is the #2. Nagata has dominated Gotoh recently and Gotoh had never defeated Bernard, ever. All three wins were certainly representative of the growth Gotoh has undertaken in the last year.

The win has sent speculation soaring that Gotoh may win in his second shot at the title, as its not considered the usual for a star to get pushed this strongly within such a short period of time. It certainly sets up for an interesting match in Fukuoka regardless of whom he's slated to face.

Amagasaki Memorial Park Gymnasium
5,300 Fans - No Vacancy

0. Kazuchika Okada beat Nobuo Yoshihashi (5:50) with a crab hold.
1. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt beat Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari (9:00) when Devitt pinned Ishikari after a Dodon & Prince's Throne combination.
2. Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger beat Karl Anderson, Black Tiger & Jado (10:01) when Nakanishi used an Argentine backbreaker on Jado.
3. New Japan Cup - Semi Final: Giant Bernard beat Yutaka Yoshie (8:56) with a horizontal cradle.
4. New Japan Cup - Semi Final: Hirooki Goto beat Yuji Nagata (14:51) with a modified armlock.
5. Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono & Super Strong Machine beat Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka & Tomoaki Honma (12:21) when Choon used a Shining Yakuza kick on Honma.
6. New Japan Cup Special Tag Match ~ Soul of AMAGASAKI: Shinsuke Nakamura & Wataru Inoue vs. Togi Makabe & Tomohiro Ishii went to a draw (13:22) when Nakamura & Makabe were counted out.
7. New Japan Cup Special Singles Match ~ Soul of AMAGASAKI: Hiroshi Tanahashi beat Val Venis (12:50) with the High Fly Flow.
8. New Japan Cup - Final: Hirooki Goto beat Giant Bernard (18:18) with a modified armlock.

Team 3D To Defend IWGP Belts

TNA Wrestling will be holding a title v. title match at the upcoming Lockdown Pay Per View on April 19th at the Liracouras Center in Philadelphia. Beer Money Inc (Robert Roode & James Storm) will put their TNA World Tag Team titles on the line, taking on IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Team 3D, who are slated to put their titles on the line as well. The match will be in a steel cage match. However, as of this publication, New Japan has yet to officially 'sanction' the match as an official IWGP match.

Resolution '09 Sumo Hall Card Finally Released!

New Japan Pro Wrestling revealed the remaining pieces of the ?Resolution '09? card which will take place at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo on April 4th. The main event as reported here will feature IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defending his title against former WWE and TNA champion Kurt Angle.

The under card looks pretty interesting. The biggest singles match on the card will most definitely be between Shinsuke Nakamura and GHB leader Togi Makabe. Nakamura has been on somewhat of a losing streak of late, and will try to turn things around. Makabe on the other hand, has still been searching for that big breakout win after inching his way into the G1 Climax tournament finals last year where he lost to Hirooki Gotoh. Speaking of Gotoh, he's in one of the more interesting bookings on the entire show, as he'll be paired with Yuji Nagata. Gotoh and Nagata have had an interesting rivalry develop over the past two months.

Nagata injured Gotoh's leg in the final Korakuen Hall show in January before going on to convincingly defeat Gotoh at the Sumo Hall on February 15th. Gotoh would have his revenge however, as he defeated Nagata in the semi-finals of this past weekend's New Japan Cup. It will be interesting to see these two paired together and what it may lead to. They are scheduled to face GBH mainstays Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka.

The IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship will also be defended as Tiger Mask will take on Black Tiger, whom attacked him after his successful defense over Jushin Liger a month ago. A special 'blast f romthe past' six man tag has also been slated for the show as well. Break out your walkers, there's some oldies (but goodies!) here. Riki Chosu is teaming with Super Strong Machine and El Samurai to take on the team of Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA.

Other matches include the IWGP Jr. Hvt Championships being on the line, as Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt will take on the winner of the Motor City Machine Gune/NO LIMIT match that will be taking place in TNA. Wataru Inoue, Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari will take on the team of Tomohiro Ishii, Jado & Tamoaki Honma. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson are scheduled to face the ?Wild Child? team Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori. The match will mark Omori's return to pro wrestling. Koji Kanemoto will face Kazuchika Okada in the opener.

NJPW ?RESOLUTION ?09″, 4/5/09 (WPW/PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
1. Koji Kanemoto vs. Kazuchika Okada
2. Wataru Inoue, Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Jado & Tomoaki Honma
3. Resolution ?09 Special 6 Man Tag Match - NJPW Greatest Heritage: Riki Choshu, Super Strong Machine & El Samurai vs. Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
4. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Winner of Motor City Machine Guns/NO LIMIT (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt
5. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Belt Contra Mascara: Tiger Mask (c) vs. Black Tiger
6. Resolution ?09 Special Tag Match - Big Comeback WILD HEART: Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
7. Yuji Nagata & Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka
8. Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match - The end of discord: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe
9. IWGP Heavyweight Title - WHICH IS GENIUS: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kurt Angle


Pro Wrestling NOAH

Global Tag League Schedule Announced

The Global Tag League tour schedule has been announced. The tour will kick off at the Korakuen in Tokyo on Apirl 11th and continue on until May 6th, when the tour will conclude at the Tokyo Nippon Budokan. The tour will feature a GHC Heavyweight Championship match on April 19th, in Tsukisamu in Sapporo between Champion Jun Akiyama and new #1 contender Go Shiozaki. The Nippon Budokan show is to be headlined by the finals of the Tag League.

~ GLOBAL TAG LEAGUE ~

NOAH 11/04/09
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1. KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Genba Hirayanagi
2. Kenta Kobashi, Takashi Sugiura & Tamon Honda vs Keith Walker, Makoto Hashi & Ricky Marvin
3. Global Tag League: Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan
4. Global Tag League: Akira Taue & Masao Inoue vs Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima
5. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki

NOAH 13/04/09
Niigata City Gymnasium
1. Mitsuharu Misawa, Go Shiozaki & Tamon Honda vs D-Lo Brown, Buchanan & Keith Walker
2. Kenta Kobashi, KENTA & Ippei Ota vs Kensuke Sasaki, Takeshi Morishima & Kento Miyahara
3. Global Tag League: Akira Taue & Masao Inoue vs Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone
4. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura

NOAH 16/04/09
Kushiro Tottori Dome
1. KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs Kotaro Suzuki & Genba Hirayanagi
2. Bison Smith, Akitoshi Saito & Keith Walker vs Kenta Kobashi, Takashi Sugiura & Takuma Sano
3. Takeshi Rikio, Mohammed Yone & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Takashi Okita
4. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Akira Taue & Masao Inoue
5. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan

NOAH 19/04/09
Tsukisamu Alpha Court Dome
1. Mitsuharu Misawa, Takashi Sugiura & Akihiko Ito vs Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue & Shuhei Taniguchi
2. KENTA vs Genba Hirayanagi
3. Kotaro Suzuki vs Ricky Marvin
4. Global Tag League: Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito vs Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima
5. GHC Heavyweight Title: Jun Akiyama (c) vs Go Shiozaki

NOAH 21/04/09
Aomori Industrial Hall
1. Kenta Kobashi & Akihiko Ito vs Bison Smith & Keith Walker
2. KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & Ippei Ota vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki & Genba Hirayanagi
3. Jun Akiyama, Junji Izumida & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Go Shiozaki & Ricky Marvin
4. Global Tag League: Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura vs Akira Taue & Masao Inoue
5. Global Tag League: Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan

NOAH 22/04/09
Zepp Sendai
1. KENTA & Ippei Ota vs Atsushi Aoki & Akihiko Ito
2. Bison Smith, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue vs Takashi Sugiura, Takuma Sano & Ricky Marvin
3. Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs D-Lo Brown, Buchanan & Keith Walker
4. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima
5. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone

NOAH 25/04/09
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1. KENTA vs Kento Miyahara
2. Takashi Sugiura & Genba Hirayanagi vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Takashi Okita
3. Jun Akiyama, Kenta Kobashi & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Go Shiozaki & Ricky Marvin
4. Global Tag League: Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito vs Akira Taue & Masao Inoue
5. Global Tag League: Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima vs Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone

NOAH 27/04/09
Zepp Nagoya
1. KENTA & Ippei Ota vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kento Miyahara
2. Mitsuharu Misawa & Taiji Ishimori vs D-Lo Brown & Keith Walker
3. Jun Akiyama, Shuhei Taniguchi & Atsushi Aoki vs Kenta Kobashi, Go Shiozaki & Akihiko Ito
4. Global Tag League: Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura
5. Global Tag League: Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito vs Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone

NOAH 29/04/09
Yonago Convention Center Big Ship
1. Akira Taue, Masao Inoue & Takuma Sano vs Kensuke Sasaki, Takeshi Morishima & Kento Miyahara
2. Jun Akiyama, Shuhei Taniguchi & Atsushi Aoki vs Kenta Kobashi, KENTA & Ippei Ota
3. Global Tag League: Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan
4. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito

NOAH 30/04/09
Kochi Resident Gymnasium
1. Jun Akiyama, Shuhei Taniguchi & Atsushi Aoki vs Bison Smith, Keith Walker & Ricky Marvin
2. Kenta Kobashi, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori vs Kensuke Sasaki, Takeshi Morishima & Kento Miyahara
3. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs Akira Taue & Masao Inoue
4. Global Tag League: Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan

NOAH 02/05/09
Okayama Orange Hall
1. Bison Smith, Akitoshi Saito & Keith Walker vs Kensuke Sasaki, Takeshi Morishima & Kento Miyahara
2. Mitsuharu Misawa, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Aoki vs Kenta Kobashi, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori
3. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan
4. Global Tag League: Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura

NOAH 03/05/09
Kyoto KBS Hall
1. Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Atsushi Aoki
2. Kensuke Sasaki, Takeshi Morishima & Kento Miyahara vs D-Lo Brown, Buchanan & Keith Walker
3. Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue & KENTA vs Takeshi Rikio, Mohammed Yone & Genba Hirayanagi
4. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito
5. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura

NOAH 06/05/09
Tokyo Nippon Budokan
1. Global Tag League: Akira Taue & Masao Inoue vs D-Lo Brown & Buchanan
2. Global Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi vs Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone
3. Global Tag League: Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura
4. Global Tag League: Mitsuharu Misawa & Go Shiozaki vs Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima


All Japan Pro Wrestling

Junior Tag League Schedule Announced

This year's Junior Tag League participants have been announced. NOAH's Naomichi Marufuji was originally slated to be on the show, but thanks to his knee injury last week, plans were of course scrapped. Marufuji was scheduled to partner with Kaz Hayashi, but that's on the outs and Hayashi will be teaming with Shuji Kondo instead.

There will also be some notable returns in this year's league. Msanobu Fuchi and El Samurai will be teaming together to be the proverbial experienced vets. Additionally, recently released TNA talent Petey Williams will be part of this year's festivities, as he'll be teaming with Phil Atlas.

?GROWIN? UP 2009″ Junior Tag League
- Kaz Hayashi & Shuji Kondo
- KAI & Hiroshi Yamato
- NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA
- Masanobu Fuchi & El Samurai
- Minoru & Toshizo
- Petey Williams & Phil Atlas

TV Markets Expanding

All Japan has a local television series named ?All Japan Pro-Wrestling Mother? with airs primarily in the Tokyo market. We received news this week however, that that coverage has been expanded and they'll now be airing on Television Kanagawa and the Kyoto Broadcasting System, specifically KBS out of Kyoto.


Independents

Dragon Gate

Dragon Gate Pay Per View Sells Out Sumo Hall

The Dragon Gate promotion ran the biggest show in the history of the promotion on Sunday at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. It was somewhat considered a risk to run the large Japanese wrestling hot spot, but it proves to have been a very smart move, as the show was a legit sell out of 9,500 the largest drawing show at the Sumo Hall this year.

The show had a virtual taster's choice of title matches, with Kensuke Office also making an appearance on the show. Naruki Doi retained his ?Open the Dream Gate? Championship in the main event by pinning New Japan's Koji Kanemoto in what was said to be one of the more physical matches of the year thus far. Doi was apparently legit knocked out at one point and suffered some blood loss as well. The under card has received high marks thus far, particularly the Brave Gate match.

Dragon Gate PPV
3/22/2009
Sumo Hall, Tokyo
11,500 Fans

0.Shisa BOY, Super Shisa{W} def. K-ness, Super Shenlong{L}at 6:29 with Yoshitonic
1. KAGETORA{W}, RYOMA def. Akira Tozawa, Kenshin Chikano{L}at 6:31 with Ikkitousen
2. Masaaki Mochizuki{W}, Don Fujii, Magnitude Kishiwada def. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kento Miyahara, Takashi Okita{L} (Kensuke Office) at 10:23 with Kakato Otoshi
2b. Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa Bosou 10 Match Series #8: Kensuke Sasaki def. Hollywood Stalker Ichikawa at 1:30 with a Northern Lights Bomb
3. Open the Twin Gate: Susumu Yokosuka, Gamma def. Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi at 12:37 by DQ
*First defense for Gammasucka
4. Open the Brave Gate: CIMA def. Masato Yoshino to WIN the title
*CIMA becomes the 13th Champion
5. Open the Triangle Gate: Taku Iwasa, Shingo Takagi, Dragon Kid vs. BxB Hulk, PAC, Naoki Tanisaki vs. YAMATO, Yasushi Kanda, Kenichiro Arai
-Araken eliminated Hulk 12:30 with a beer bottle attack
-Shingo def Kanda 18:25 with a pumping bomb
*Second title defense for KAMIKAZE
6. Mascara contra Caballera: Cyber Kong def. Anthony W. Mori at 9:03 went to a No Contest
6b. Mascara contra Caballera: Cyber Kong def. Anthony W. Mori at 3:59 with the Cyber Bomb
7. Open the Dream Gate: Naruki Doi def. Koji Kanemoto at 27:41 with the Muscular Bomb
*Second defense for Doi

Akebono Coming To Dragon Gate

Akebono will be appearing on both 4/3 and 4/4 in Nagoya Telepia Hall.

battlARTS

4th Anniversary Show Card Announced

Futen, the company that owns and operates the battlARTS promotion, has finalized their full card for the big 4th Anniversary Show. It has a fun sponsorship added to it from "Car Bell", which is a rental car company in Japan. Apparently anyone who mentions their favorite battlARTS fighter will get a discount on the rental.

The show has already sold out.

Futen 26/04/09
"Bati Bati 26 - 4th Anniverary"
Kawasaki Plaza Sol


1. TAKA Michinoku vs Shoichi Uchida
2. Kengo Mashimo vs Shinjitsu Nohashi
3. Mitsuya Nagai & White Moriyama vs Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei
4. Fujita Jr Hayato vs Koichiro Kimura
5. Daisuke Ikeda & Takeshi Ono vs Manabu Hara & Takahiro Ohba

battlARTS Has Run in With Taiwanese Government

In an interesting news post, that is indeed news to myself aswell, Yuki Ishikawa stated that the BattlARTS show that was scheduled to take place in the near future, in Taiwan has been cancelled as a result of the Taiwanese government stepping in.

According to the government, the show would have been too bloody and anti-social for the Taiwanese people.
I, personally, didn't even know this show was occurring, as if I did, I would have made plans to go to it, as it is a LOT cheaper then Japan. Secondly, seems like an odd reason, given that Taiwan has the only sole Puroresu TV channel outside of Japan.

A Tour Through the Indies

The following is a trip through the indies. I've been consistently reviewing stuff f romthe big three major promotions (New Japan, All Japan & NOAH) but its high time we catch up and see whats going on elsewhere that's worth your time to go and check out. Enjoy!

Ryouji Sai & Daisuke Sekimoto Vs Kohei Sato & Shingo Takagi, Zero1 2/27

Kind of a weird match here. Sekimoto is one of my favorite younger wrestlers out there right now. Kid can do it all. Fly, power spots, brawl, mat work.. he does it all well. Problem is he hasn't really had a whole heck of a lot of talent to work with yet that can really help him realize his potential. IMO, he's got star written all over him if he can get his bearings. Shingo Takagi should ring a bell with folks, as he's one of the many Dragon Gate stars whose made their way across the puddle to the US, wrestling frequently in Ring of Honor.

Either way, i'm watching this for those two, and in all honesty, this is pretty flat stuff. The only time it really picks up at any level are the parts where Sekimoto and Takagi go toe to toe. They seem to have a pretty good read on when to go after each other, as its usually when the crowd starts to go to sleep. Sato and Sai really don't do a whole heck of a lot for me in any of their one on one parts, and neither guy are really compelling 'in peril'. So this looked good on the surface, and I'd LOVE to see Sekimoto and Takagi go one on one, but this is pretty much a 'miss'. *1/2

Shiniro Ohtani v. Yuji Nagata, World Heavyweight Championship, Zero1 2/27

When they began teasing this at the Tokyo Dome back in January, I was pretty excited. Ohtani's one of those guys who can be hit and miss, but was mostly hit in 2008, especially in the G1 Tournament, so I had hopes for this. While Nagata is an absolute machine here, Ohtani's a mess. Unfortunately. Nagata's great at milking the crowd heat, staying not so carried away (which is becoming more of a habbit of his thankfully) with his offense, and generally speaking, being pretty awesome here. He totally holds this together and in general, makes it worth watching.

Ohtani however, is really, really, really selective in his leg selling almost to an annoying degree. He never really 'forgets' to sell the leg. He just chooses not to sell it when he's got the urge to hammer Nagata with a boot. He'll rub it a little right after the move or fall back grimacing, but only to go right to the outside and use a springboard move. Or kick him with his injured leg. Then he'll rub it some more. Its just flat aggravating, especially considering the fact that Nagata really brought the goods here, selling all of Ohtani's offense like it was really big time.

So its worth a check out, if for anything, just to see Nagata work the Korakuen/Pro Zero1 crowd really well. That and a title switch. But other than that, not really. **

Daisuke Sekimoto v. Jushin ?Thunder? Liger, Big Japan 1/22

Big Japan is known mostly for its garbage brawls, light tube matches and other sadistic sh!t, but it has some pretty great wrestling in it, too. Of all the Indy feds in Japan, it might be my favorite and I really don't know why other than the fact that to me, it just feels a lot like ECW, which was another Indy with a real smattering of styles. The back story is super simple. Basically, Liger and Akira challenge Sekimoto for the BJPW Tag titles and lose. Liger and Sekimoto have it out and before you know it, Liger's showing up in Big Japan and challenges Sekimoto to a match there.

Liger's working HEEL here, which is odd in and of itself, but fun none the less. He does a great job of working this like your basic young up and comer v. established star match. He doesn't give Sekimoto a whole heck of a lot, which is kind of what makes the match. What offense Sekimoto does manage to get in however, Liger sells like a shotgun blast. He lets Daisuke show off his back breaker variations, his GLORIOUS German suplex (seriously, its amazing), and even pings around for some lariats.

There are some issues here. For one, the opening leg work is AWESOME here but then Sekimoto just forgets it. He sells it really well in the beginning, even doing the whole delayed thing, where you get hit with something and the pain takes a couple of minutes to sink in. Its not like he had to sell the stuff the whole match, but more than three seconds into a comeback would've been nice. These two work the crowd reasonably well, but the crowd just doesn't seem interested or responsive, which is weird, because all of this is pretty good, and for Big Japan, this is a, uh, Big Match. Add in an abrupt ending and you've got some great stuff, some not so great stuff, and a match that in the end, is really borderline stuff. I think these two have a much better match in them, but this is perfectly fine stuff. **1/4

Atsushi Sawada v. The Necro Butcher, IGF 3/15

Perfectly fun match here, where Butcher really brings the goods. IGF is super hit and miss and totally random, but the one thing that seems to entertain every time out is Necro Butcher. The way the crowd reacts to him and his antics is far more genuine then the Bruiser Brody knockdown stuff Sylvester Terkay is doing with his new ?Predator? gimmick..

Butcher's really the star of the show here, cutting Sawada open, busting a chair over his own head, heating parts of Sawada's head off the forehead and spitting it into the air. He's a nut here. Sawada seems pretty darn green, hulking up at weird points.. that and his offense isn't particularly interesting, although he DOES have some nasty kicks. For the most part, its a fun match, but mostly your standard fare Necro Butcher brawl made more fun because of the new-ness of the shtick to the Japanese crowd. **1/4

Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15>

I really adored the mat work here. This wasn't as tied to the mat as a BattlARTS match, but not as free flowing as a regular Puro match. Nice, happy medium. Otsuka is a total stud here, controlling the match, controlling the arm, looking for submissions. The cool thing is that it isn't 'arm work' per sae, so it allows Daisuke to hit his big lariats and some incredible power lifts, especially a dead lift overhead slam while stuck in a key lock. That kid's got so many tools, its scary, he just needs more matches with dudes like Otsuka and he'll do well. The draw finish got a little obvious, and they never really got to bust this thing out into fourth gear, but its a fantastic 'set-up' match for something down the line. I get really annoyed with the whole 'well obviously, this is a lead-in, so it can't be awesome', but if the point of the match was to really get you amped for the rematch, then this worked. Which I did. So eat my @ss. ***

Naoya Ogawa & The Predator v. Yoshihiro Takayama & Montanha Silva, IGF 3/15

Holy smokes. This was pretty incredible in its bad-ness. Maybe a candidate for one of the worst matches I've seen this year. Ogawa and Takayama's exchanges are perfectly fine and at times even some fun. Outside of that though, this is a disaster. Silva's nowhere looking ready to be in a wrestling ring, with some of the most un-intense, fake looking strike exchanges I've seen in a while. The Predator isn't quite as bad, but he's not ahead of Silva by too much here. He's whipping out wheel kicks and other non-sense that not a single one of the guys in this match should be busting out. He can't figure out if he wants to be a wild man or if he wants to cheer his partner on or..... ugh, who knows. This is pretty awful. *

Dick Togo, Yoshitsune & Rasse vs The Satos & Maguro Ooma, Michinoku Pro 3/1

Probably the best lucharesu match I've seen this year. Sure, that's not exactly saying a lot but this is as structurally sound as these types of matches come.

For one, they break this down a little differently going for some hot brawling to start before settling into a quick, but super effective beat-down on baby-face Togo. Togo's easily the star of the show here, bleeding and really getting you behind the baby-face team. My one complaint about six-man's now is they're often just thrown together and they wrestle them 'thrown together, in the sense that everyone shows off, so some flashy spots and go home. Here, they actually lay out a purpose for you to care and root for the face team. So good work on Togo's part.

The one thing I really like about the heels is how they really made sure to NOT base this match around Yoshitune. I like Yoshitune, but really, his offense is so flashy, that you might as well save it to the end, rather than bust it out during comeback spots. Its usually the smaller and 'less impressive' Togo or Rasse in the ring getting beaten up. What ends up killing this match though, is that the heels don't really build off of that smart structure. As sound as this is structurally, the heels really don't do enough to make you think they've got a chance to win, which is just as important as the baby-face getting you to root for his team by using sympathy selling. Because of this, they resort to some pretty campy triple team moves, including a 'team' power bomb that just looks bad and gets practically zero reaction. The Yoshitune big, flashy run is a good way to cap this off, but again, the heels fall short here. Worth checking out for sure, though. **1/2

Fujita Jr. Hayato & Takeshi Minamito vs Masahiro Chono & Jinsei Shinzaki, Michinoku Pro 3/1

A lot of folks kind of crapped on this and I thought that was a little unfair. This isn't exactly the kind of match that's going to be even remotely pushing anyone's 'best of' lists, but holy crap, this is a lot of fun. Old timers teaching upstart punks their place is always fun in Japan, and this is really no different.

You might remember Shinzaki. This is his big return match. 'Round these parts, he's better known as 'Hakushi' f romthis WWF run. He left the WWF in late '95 though and took the same act back home and got over pretty darn well. He worked a very memorable match against the Great Muta at the '96 Tokyo Dome show and mostly free lanced the rest of the decade. He eventually settled down in Michinoku Pro where he'd eventually become President. He runs the show. However, Shinzaki also took an interest in politics and ran for the equivalent of State Representative over there and won, thus effectively ending his in ring career just because of time constraints. Here, he's back for the fun of it and brought in Masahiro Chono, king of the grumpy old men, to help him.

Hayato is the champion here, and has Minamito around as his henchman. They're doing battle with the big boss and his grumpy wing man. Chono's really the highlight of the match here, or at least for me, as he uses copius levels of old man aggression to put these whipper snappers in their place. His outside the ring, garbage brawl segments are unusually fun as far as garbage brawls go. The match essentially disintegrates into Shinzaki v. Hayato and Chono v. Everyone else.

While Chono's certainly the strength, it is really obvious that Minamito is far and away the worst worker here. He's entirely dependent on the cheap heat to really get any kind of momentum. Shinzaki gives him WAY too much offense and even at that, it doesn't do much for the kid. They're into Hayato, whose a poor-man's KENTA, and he brings the kicky to this, but for the most part doesn't do much other than that all too well. Even his kicks start getting really lazy and careless about 2/3 through the match. Of course, we have a little too much in terms of the heely non-sense, that inexplicably involves itself a little TOO frequently.

That being said, all this is meant to be is a fun exhibition that's there to get the crowd amped to see Shinzaki back in the ring. Cool for sure, and this has some bright points, but only really worth checking out if you want to see Shinzaki again. **

Hunter's Mindless, Ongoing, Who-Cares-what-he-thinks!? Best Puro Matches of 2009

I'm hoping by that at the end of this nonsense, I'll have a nice 10-15 match list for you guys to check out at the end of the year. Right now I haven't seen enough good stuff to warrant a top 10, but we're getting there.

1.) Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Shinsuke Nakamura, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, New Japan 2/15 ****
2.)Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Gotoh v. Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Suguira, New Japan 1/4 ***3/4
3.) Takashi Suguira & Go Shiozaki v. Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T., NOAH 3/1 ***1/2
4.) Minoru Suzuki & Taiyo Kea v. SUWAMA & Shuji Kondo, World Tag Team Championship, All Japan 3/15 ***1/4
5.) Hirooki Gotoh & Jushin ?Thunder? Liger v. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask, New Japan 1/31 ***
6.) Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15 ***
7.) Yuji Nagata v. Hirooki Gotoh, New Japan 2/15 ***
8.) Yuji Nagata v. Masato Tanaka, Zero1 World Championship, New Japan, ? ***