Rising Sun Soliloquy Newsletter #37
August 27, 2009
By: Hunter Golden of WrestleView.com

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Tanahashi Injury Update

From the looks of things, former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi might be back in the ring as early as late October, so long as he heals on schedule. New Japan is booking through December, just in case. There was a rumor going around about the injury occurring during Nakamura’s Boma Ye knee strike finisher, and New Japan went with that and has said it publicly. In reality though, the injury really occurred when Tanahashi was looking for a German Suplex. Nakamura, trying to escape the move, thrusted his head backward and apparently cracked the orbital bone. If you watch the tape, you see Tanahshi crumpled back a bit, with a bloody nose. His eye is swollen shortly thereafter. According to New Japan officials, Tanahashi only had one crack at the bottom part of his eye, which is pretty good news. Its still quite painful, but FEELS worse than it actually IS. With New Japan looking to run the Tokyo Dome again in January, they’ll need Tanahashi on the show.

G1 Round-Up

There was some confusion among fans (especially here in the US) about what exactly determined the tie-breaker in Block A. After all the matches were finished, Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Masato Tanaka were all tied with seven points a piece. There was a rumor swirling around about there being some sort of coin toss to determine who’d advance and that is not true. The tie was decided via head-to-head match ups. Makabe and Tanahashi both defeated Tanaka and drew each other. Because they had wins over Tanaka, they both advanced. However, on the day of the semi finals and finals, there was a coin toss to determine who would face Block-B winner Shinsuke Nakamura in the Semi Finals. Makabe ‘won’ the toss, and thus was awarded first place and a match up with Block-B runner-up Takashi Sugiura while Tanahashi was deemed ‘second place’ and was pitted against Nakamura.

Liger to make US appearance

Jushin ?Thunder? Liger is scheduled to make some US wrestling appearances in the very near future. He’s scheduled to show at the WrestleReunion 4 show in Los Angeles as part of the ?Superticket Experience?. He is also slated to work ROH on January 29th and PWG on January 30th.

Chono On Getting in Shape, Role In New Japan

New Japan legend Masahiro Chono popped up on DDT’s hugely-successful Sumo Hall Event over the weekend as he faced NJPW dojo trainee Poison Sawada Julie. Sawada pushed Chono pretty far before getting Knocked Out. Chono gave a super candid interview after the show, discussing his role in New Japan and his wrestling future.

?My main motivation is to main event one more big show? Chono said. ?I’d love to work against Tanahashi, but with his eye injury, that might be on hold for a little while. That’s OK though, because I’ve got to get back into main-event shape. Its been a little while as I’ve been doing mostly six-man’s. It’ll be cool to give the big show one more go though before calling it a career, at least as a main event guy.?

Chono continued on and talked about his role in the industry; ?I’m just an older guy now. I do what I do, I try to entertain the fans. I’m not Chono ’94 anymore, but I’ve still got some fun left in the cannister. I’d love to have New Japan keep me around to do special appearances here and there, and I’ll always be there if they need him to do something important. But right now, their priority are the younger guys, and that’s who I want to help, if I can. Helping younger talent is something I really enjoy. But right now, they’re fine without me.?

DDT, 8/23/09
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
8,865 Fans?- Super No Vacancy Full House

-?Special Singles Match: Masahiro Chono??beat Poison Sawada JULIE?(17:13)?by KO.

New Generation Tour Main Events Announced

Match ups are beginning to trickle out regarding many of the ?New Generation 09? tour shows. Here’s what we’ve been sent so far.

NJPW ?NAGATA PRODUCE – BLUE JUSTICE! 2009″, 9/12/09 (Samurai! TV)
Togane Arena
1.Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano

NJPW, 9/13/09 (SXW)
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1.Yuji Nagata vs. Wataru Inoue
2. Togi Makabe, Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka
3.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt (c) vs. Alex Shelley??& Chris Sabin?

NJPW, 9/14/09
Chichibu Cultural Sports Center
1.Wataru Inoue vs. Takao Omori
2. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Giant Bernard

NJPW, 9/16/09 (SXW)
Chikuma City Togura Gymnasium
1.Wataru Inoue vs. Toru Yano
2. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Takashi Iizuka

NJPW, 9/17/09
Iwaki City Gymnasium #2
1.Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano & Giant Bernard

NJPW, 9/19/09 (SXW)
Okayama Orange Hall
1.Wataru Inoue vs. Giant Bernard
2. Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii

NJPW, 9/20/09
Matsuyama City Community Center
1.Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Jado & Gedo

NJPW, 9/21/09
Wel Sunpia Kochi
1.Togi Makabe, Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Jado & Gedo

NJPW, 9/22/09 (Samurai! TV)
Gifu Industrial Hall
1.Wataru Inoue vs. Takashi Iizuka
2. Togi Makabe & Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano

NJPW, 9/26/09
Himeji Minato Dome
1.Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Wataru Inoue & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka & Tomohiro Ishii

NJPW, 9/27/09 (WPW)
Kobe World Hall
Manabu Nakanishi & AKIRA vs. CIMA??& Don Fujii?
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (decision match)

Yuji Nagata & Akebono to Headline ?Blue Justice? Show in September

In perhaps one of the more odd pairings in recent memory, Yuji Nagata and Akebono will be teaming up to wrestle on Nagata’s own show on September 12th. New Japan is allowing Nagata to book and promote this show, so its all him here. The show will be called ?BLUE JUSTICE? and will kick off the New Generation Tour. At the press conference for the show, Nagata said there’s a strong possibility they may continue to team after the show is over.

NJPW ?NAGATA PRODUCE – BLUE JUSTICE! 2009″, 9/12/09 (Samurai! TV)
Togane Arena

1. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano
2. Yuji Nagata & Akebono vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson


ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

All Japan Pro Wrestling has kicked off their big Summer Impact Tour. Results have been slow getting to us, so bear with us. The big Sumo Hall Show is scheduled for the 30th and should be interesting to say the least. Of course, its centered around Keiji Mutoh’s 25th anniversary as a pro wrestler. The Triple Crown will be defended as well as Suwama will challenge Champion Yoshihiro Takayama for the belts.

AJPW, 8/16/09 (GAORA TV)
Kasumigaura Bunka Gymnasium
850 Fans

1. Seiya Sanada beat Toshizo?(12:03)?by disqualification.
2. Suwama beat Hate?(9:12)?with the Last Ride.
3. Osamu Nishimura, Masayuki Kono & Manabu Soya beat Minoru Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA(16:38)?when Nishimura used a backslide on MAZADA.
4. Yoshihiro Takayama beat Joe Doering?(10:58)?with the Everest German.
5. Keiji Muto & Kaz Hayashi beat Shuji Kondo & Ryota Hama?(17:52)?when Muto used the Shining Wizard on Hama.
6. Satoshi Kojima, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato beat TARU, Minoru & ZODIAC?(17:10)?when Kojima used a lariat on ZODIAC.

AJPW, 8/19/09
Noboribetsu City Gymnasium

KAI vs. NOSAWA Rongai vs. Toshizo
2. Joe Doering vs. Seiya Sanada
3. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soya vs. TARU & Hate
4. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Yamato vs. Ryota Hama & Tomoya
5. Suwama & Shuji Kondo vs. Minoru & ZODIAC
6. Keiji Muto, Kaz Hayashi & Masayuki Kono vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, Minoru Suzuki & MAZADA

AJPW, 8/21/09
Asahikawa Local Industry Promotion Center

KAI vs. Seiya Sanada
2. Ryota Hama vs. Hate
3. Masayuki Kono & Shuji Kondo vs. Minoru & ZODIAC
4. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soya vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & MAZADA
5. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Yamato vs. Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA Rongai
6. Keiji Muto, Suwama & Kaz Hayashi vs. TARU, Joe Doering & Toshizo

AJPW, 8/22/09 (Samurai! TV)
Sapporo Teisen Hall

Minoru vs. Tomoya
2. Kaz Hayashi & KAI vs. Shuji Kondo & Seiya Sanada
3. Suwama & Hiroshi Yamato vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & MAZADA
4. Satoshi Kojima vs. ZODIAC
5. Keiji Muto, Masayuki Kono & Ryota Hama vs. TARU, Joe Doering & Hate
6.?All Asia Tag Team Title: Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA Rongai (c) vs. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soya

AJPW, 8/23/09
Hamanaka Town Gymnasium

1. ZODIAC vs. Manabu Soya
2. Osamu Nishimura vs. Hate
3. Suwama & Masayuki Kono vs. TARU & Toshizo
4. Shuji Kondo & Ryota Hama vs. Yoshihiro Takayama & NOSAWA Rongai
5. Minoru Suzuki & MAZADA vs. Minoru & Joe Doering
6. Keiji Muto, Kaz Hayashi & Seiya Sanada vs. Satoshi Kojima, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato

AJPW, 8/26/09
Hakodate Citizen Gymnasium

Masayuki Kono vs. Ryota Hama
2. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soya vs. Minoru & ZODIAC
3. Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi Yamato
4. Satoshi Kojima & KAI vs. TARU & Hate
5. Suwama, Shuji Kondo & Seiya Sanada vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA
6. Keiji Muto & Kaz Hayashi vs. Joe Doering & Toshizo

AJPW, 8/27/09
Odate Citizen Gymnasium

MAZADA vs. Hiroshi Yamato
2. Masayuki Kono vs. Seiya Sanada
3. Shuji Kondo & Ryota Hama vs. Minoru & Hate
4. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soy vs. Joe Doering & Toshizo
5. Satoshi Kojima & KAI vs. TARU & ZODIAC
6. Keiji Muto, Suwama & Kaz Hayahsi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA Rongai

AJPW ?PRO-WREST LOVE in RYOGOKU vol. 8″, 8/30/09 (PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Seiya Sanada vs. Hate
2. NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA vs. Minoru & Toshizo
3. Akebono, Masayuki Kono & Ryota Hama vs. TARU, ZODIAC & Joe Doering
4. Osamu Nishimura & Manabu Soya vs. Riki Choshu & Shiro Koshinaka
5.?AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kaz Hayashi (c) vs. Shuji Kondo
6. Satoshi Kojima, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato vs. Kenta Kobashi?, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi??& Akihiko Ito?
7.?Triple Crown: Yoshihiro Takayama (c) vs. Suwama
8.?Keiji Muto 25th Anniversary Special: Keiji Muto & Masakatsu Funaki vs. Masahiro Chono??& Minoru Suzuki


INDEPENDENTS

BattlARTS

Results and announcements of results from the B1 Tournament Are HERE:

BattlARTS 26/07/09
Kitasenju Theatre 1010
108 fans

1. Block B: Super Tiger [6] (5:36 Buzzsaw Kick -> TKO) Baisen TAGAI [0]
2. Block A: Ryuji Walter [4] (7:02 Rolling Punch -> TKO) Keita Yano [0]
3. Block B: Katsumi Usuda [6] (12:03 Hammerlock) Yujiro Yamamoto [3]
4. Block A: Yuki Ishikawa [4] (11:19 Ground Octopus Hold) Tiger Shark [0]
5. Munenori Sawa & Yuta Yoshikawa (16:00 Right High Kick -> KO) Alexander Otsuka & Kyosuke Sasaki

Block A:
1. Yuki Ishikawa [4]
-. Ryuji Walter [4]?
3. Yuta Yoshikawa [3]
4. Keita Yano [0]
5. Tiger Shark [0]

Block B:
1. Katsumi Usuda [6]
-. Super Tiger [6]
3. Yujiro Yamamoto [3]
4. Munenori Sawa [0]
-. Baisen TAGAI [0]

BattlARTS 30/08/09 (Day)
Kitasenju Theatre 1010

1. Yuki Ishikawa & Baisen TAGAI vs Alexander Otsuka & Satoshi Kajiwara
2. Block A: Ryuji Walter vs Tiger Shark
3. Block B: Katsumi Usuda vs Super Tiger
2. Block A: Yuta Yoshikawa vs Keita Yano
4. Block B: Munenori Sawa vs Yujiro Yamamoto

BattlARTS 30/08/09 (Night)
Kitasenju Theatre 1010

1. Ryuji Walter & Satoshi Kajiwara vs Alexander Otsuka & Baisen TAGAI
1. Block A: Keita Yano vs Tiger Shark
2. Block B: Super Tiger vs Yujiro Yamamoto
3. Block A: Yuki Ishikawa vs Yuta Yoshikawa
4. Block B: Munenori Sawa vs Katsumi Usuda

W*ING
The Tokyo reunion show held over the weekend was said to be a huge disaster. The show only drew 150 fans, and apparently many of the expenses still haven’t been covered. Mr. Pogo defeated W*ng Kanemura in the main event, hitting a brainbuster through a pane of glass.


MATCH REVIEWS

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. Heck, maybe even a top 20~. Just so you guys know, I hate star ratings. I just do. I used to love them, had great affection and maybe even got caught by my wife with them i n the past, but hey, I just don’t think ******** is a replacement for actually knowing what you’re talking about and wish to communicate. Take them with a grain of salt, but anything that pops up on THIS list, you should probably check out.

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.) Alexander Otsuka vs. Yujiro Yamamoto, BattlARTS 2/15 ***3/4
4.) Minoru Suzuki & Taiyo Kea v. SUWAMA & Shuji Kondo, World Tag Team Championship, All Japan 3/15 ***1/2
5.) Takashi Suguira & Go Shiozaki v. Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T., NOAH 3/1 ***1/2
6.) Jun Akiyama v. KENTA, NOAH 5/17 ***1/2
7.) Takashi Sugiura vs. Hirooki Gotoh, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/15
8.) Go Shiozaki & Kenta vs Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiku Nakajima, NOAH 6/22 ***1/2
9.) Katsumi Usuda vs. Yuta Yoshikawa ? BattlARTS 2/15 ***1/2
10.)Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. Takashi Sugiura & Atsushi Aoki, New Japan 5/5 ***1/4
11.) Hirooki Gotoh v. Giant Bernard, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22 ***1/4
12.) KENTA v. Ricky Marvin, NOAH 6/5 ***1/4
13.) Mammoth Sasaki & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shinya Ishikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Big Japan ? ***1/4
14.) Ricky Marvin v. Taiji Ishimori, SEM 5/18 ***
15.) Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15 ***
16.) Giant Bernard v. Yutaka Yoshie, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22 ***
17.) Yuki Ishikawa vs. Alexander Otsuka, B-Rules, BattlARTS 1/10 ***
18.) Milano Collection A.T. vs. Prince Devitt, New Japan 5/30 ***
19.) Yuji Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi, G1 Climax, New Japan 8/11 ***
20.) Takashi Iizuka v. Yuji Nagata, Chain Match, New Japan 4/5 ***

Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Gotoh, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/8

Probably the best match of the tournament I’ve seen UP to this. The thing I really hate about almost all of Gotoh’s matches is the fact that we’ve always got some sort of really long control segment where Gotoh is on the sell, only to completely ignore it later on in the match. That problem gets compounded in matches where he’s matched up against strikers who target body parts. Nagata and Gotoh work pretty well together for the simple reason that Nagata doesn’t let Gotoh get caught up in anything lengthy. They have big strikes, frequent shifts in momentum, and as a result, don’t have to worry about Gotoh’s selling quite as much. The strike exchanges in this are pretty good and I really like the pacing here as things get increasingly intense the further along we get. Gotoh whips out a sick headbutt, but kind of fails to keep the heat after the move. Nagata’s wanting to break Gotoh in half really plays well though, and we get mostly good back and forth the rest of the way though. **3/4

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Takashi Sugiura, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/8

I really liked Nakamura here and absolutely couldn’t stand Sugiura. Nakamura brings the goods: A Strut, submissions, targeted work, and throws in a hopelessly dirty punch. His selling is pretty good heel selling. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten to see a lot of heel Nakamura, but I like what i’ve seen so far. Sugiura absolutely kills this match though. The entire first five-six minutes of this are based on leg work. In exactly 35 seconds once they’ve done the transition, he’s sprinting across the ring, hitting Nakamura with the limb, etc. If you want to do that say, five minutes later… I’m fine with that. He doesn’t have to limp the whole match. But sell SOMETHING. Don’t take a third of the match and completely disregard it. There’s a reason NOAH f-ing blows these days, and the no-selling stuff is a big part of it. It murders an otherwise entertaining Nakamura performance. *3/4

Hiroshi Tanahshi vs. Giant Bernard, G1 Climax Block-A, New Japan 8/8

I really liked this a lot until the end, where it more or less fell apart. Bernard’s offense is pretty top notch and his selling’s probably even better. I dunno if that’s because he does it well or its that he’s in a place where no one else does it well. Who knows. Either way, these two are almost always money, and this was pretty good. The back work from Bernard is pretty good, and Tanahshi is fun as well, trying to keep things moving and employing the old stick and move part. I liked the early Anderson interference, just because I think it does a good job of emphasizing the fact that Bernard is vulnerable and needs to cheat without Bernard actually having to give up anything. The issues in this match come down the finishing stretch, where this just gets silly. The Anderson interference seems totally out of place this time, and the fact that Bernard blows off a High Fly Flow like its someone hit him with a pillow is a bit much. The roll up attempt is kind of botched, and while I LIKE the idea of a roll up finish to protect Bernard in this case, the KIND of roll-through they used wasn’t the wisest choice. Either way, another good match with a lousy finish. **1/2

Yuji Nagata vs. Takashi Sugiura, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/9

Quite honestly, this is the biggest disappointment of the tournament thus far. In fact, I thought it sucked. The crowd’s 100% asleep for most of this, but I can’t really blame them. This moves along really slowly, the two never settle in on anything and even the important stuff (Nagata’s big running kick to the knee) are glossed over shortly thereafter and forgotten about. We get a bad version of Gotoh-Nagata where we get a lack of energy in the back and forth and zero build. Sugiura no selling leg damage and Nagata not really being dazed after getting killed by two kicks doesn’t do much for me either. *

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/9

In terms of a six minute match, I liked this a lot. Nakamura’s heel character continues to grow on me. This is kind of that ‘turning point’ match in the tournament, because its an important statement more than anything. Tenzan has won about 3,000,000 G1 Tournaments in the past, but looks broken down and weak here. Nakamura not only beats him, he completely carves him up like a hot knife through butter. The work a cute Tenzan comeback in the middle section, but Nakamura outclasses him on the mat, through the strikes, the big holds and then WASTES him with the Bomba-Ye knee. Great finish to an extended squash. Pretty cool stuff. **1/4

Giant Bernard vs. Togi Makabe, G1 Climax Block-A, New Japan 8/9

On paper, this was probably the most important match of Block-A. I was pretty sure whomever won this would probably end up going on to the next round. Turns out I was wrong. Oh well. So Makabe is a huge fan of the F-word in English and Bernard is more than happy to help him with his pronunciation throughout the match. Makabe, the baby face, tells the crowd ‘f-you’ probably close to 70 times during the match. He’s a total poor-man’s Austin, and I kinda like it. At least he’s trying to engage the crowd. This had considerably more heat and was easier to get through than some of the other ones to date, almost on that alone. This wasn’t nearly as good as their Block Match up last year, but its a fun little match, especially if you like antics. I’m probably overrating this a tad, but it was fun. **3/4

Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hirooki Gotoh, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/9

This is another fun little match, but I’ve still YET to see a real, stand out match in this tournament. This at least has a pretty solid plot to it. Nakanishi is a clobbering bully. Goto has to stand up to the bully. Manboo has all sorts of ways to make Gotoh go splat. I’ve gotta admit, while I wouldn’t say I’ve been ‘impressed’ by Gotoh, his matches sure as shit have been a lot smarter than usual thus far in this tournament. All of them have been fairly entertaining. All he does is basically get shot by Nakanishi’s slugs here before making a nice visual presentation of the story, where Nakanishi is perched on the top rope and Gotoh has to repeatedly fight his way up, and then back up, and then back up again. Finally, he gets somewhere with the superplex and even though the spurt doesn’t last long, he gains confidence. The stretch run is a bit all over the place, and I’ve gotta say I wasn’t a big fan of the arm bar submission. This thing was put over as a killer four months ago and now he’s just using it as a spot in his matches. Still though, this has pretty good structure to it. I’ve gotta say Gotoh looks a heck of a lot better in matches that don’t involve long control segments focused on leg work. **3/4

Hiroshi Tanahshi vs. Togi Makabe, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/10

I’m on the fence with this one. I’m kind of interested to hear what other people have to say. I’m really not a fan of Tanahshi repeatedly working the leg and having it not work. Makabe is very off and on with the selling and it gets distracting. The rest of this is pretty good. New Japan’s onto something with Togi. Of anyone on the roster, he’s easily getting the biggest reactions right now. I like the brawling sections of this and Tanahashi’s antics and cut off spots. They build to a finish where Tanahshi get serious and tries to desperately escape with a win, but can’t pull it off. I feel like the roles should have been reversed here, as Makabe NEEDED at LEAST a point to stay alive in the tournament. He’s a little TOO give-a-sh!t. Some goofy selling and wrongly-placed roles hurt this a lot, but at the same time, both are are really fun and I don’t have much of a problem with anything else they did. Decent match, certainly one of the better matches to this point, but still, I’m just having a hard time going over the top with this and getting people to go out of their way to see it. **3/4

The Giant Bernard vs. Masato Tanaka, G1 Climax Block-A, New Japan 8/11

This is basically a better version of the Tajiri-Bernard match from earlier in the tournament, but with a really goofy finish. Tanaka is a guy I generally hate, but in New Japan he’s been a lot of fun. He’s great here bringing the fire and urgency, something Tajiri wasn’t as good at projecting in his go-round with Bernard. Bernard is… well… Bernard. He lays out a freaking ridiculous shoulder block and hit baldo-bomb is awesome. He has a fun counter to Tanaka’s Sliding-D and as per the usual, brings the goods on offense. This has a better ebb and flow to it than the Tajiri match as there’s more Tanaka comeback spots to better space out the Bernard control spots. The end bump with Bernard jumping off the second rope to the outside is fun and well built to, but the two things its sandwiched around (the Anderson interference and the Honma run-in) are really odd. I just don’t like the finish here. Take this match and give it the Tajiri-Bernard finish and you’ve got a great match, but both are lacking. **1/2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/10

Nothing really great here. The story in a nutshell is that Tenzan’s too old and banged up to beat Nagata, but still hard to keep down. Nagata mostly controls the proceedings here with his usual batch of strikes and suplexes. Tenzan gets in a nice early flurry, but once Nagata focuses in on Tenzan’s injured shoulder and neck, its only a matter of time. Tenzan figures out ways to keep from getting pinned though. He survives Nagata lock II and even wiggles out of a few backdrop hold attempts. Still though, he’s so banged up and blown to pieces, that even though he’s able to get in one last flurry, its almost kind of fleeting. Nice story, OK match. **

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Takashi Iizuka, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/10

This was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. Iizuka is the #3 in Nakamura’s CHAOS faction but he’s not going to take this one lying down. He doesn’t bring much to the table, but he’s going to give it a go. He surprises his leader in the entrance way and then takes it to him through the crowd. He hits with some chairs and then sets of chairs… then introduces him to the ring railing before taking a break to go throw some barricade pieces ‘just because’. Once Shinsuke gets control though, you know its a matter of time. He lets loose with some VICIOUS kicks in the corner before a big belly to back suplex and two bomba-ye’s to the face. Fun-ish squash I’d recommend checking out. **1/4

Manabu Nakanishi vs. Takashi Sugiura, G1 Climax, Block-B, New Japan 8/10

Of Sugiura’s first round matches that’s I’ve seen thus far, this is easily his best. No extended leg work segments, no stupid near fall crap, no extended ankle lock spots… just heavyweight clubbering. They use this standing elbow exchange as a transition to bigger and better things. Each time, its a little nastier. In between, Nakanishi kills Sugiura. I suppose that’s why I wasn’t wild about the finish to this. At first it kind of seemed like this was a heavyweight vs. a junior heavyweight match, and after not paying too much heed to Sugiura’s stuff early on, its apparently killer. Nakanishi kicking out at one, only to get wasted with an Olympic slam not 30 seconds later was just weird. I dunno. I liked a lot of this, didn’t like the finish. I feel as if my reviews are getting redundant. **1/2

Yuji Nagata vs. Maanabu Nakanishi, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/11

Thank god. Finally, something I can get excited about. This is as close to a comedy match without really being one as they come, but its kind of everything you’d want in a first round G1 match: rare match up, interesting dynamic, good crowd, fun. These two are buddies and hugged each other when Nakanishi finally won the IWGP title back in early May. They’re buddies for sure, both the only two guys to both win and lose the IWGP title to Hiroshi Tanahashi in the last two years, both guys who came into New Japan around the same time. So lots of parallel histories but they’ve never really crossed paths (to my recollection) in the ring. The back and forth its lots of fun here, as they work in Nakanishi’s clubbering against Nagata’s targeted striking. This is far from perfect, but Nakanishi’s overselling and goofy facials actually made this pretty darn entertaining. They both bring the heat on the strikes for sure. This seems to move a lot faster than a lot of the other matches in the tournament, and that’s because there’s little downtime. I’m not a fan of the lack of leg selling (yes again), but its not to a point where its distracting or overwhelming. For example, they work a fun Nagata lock where Manabu grabs the good old brain claw and then decides not to sell.. still not GOOD, but heck.. at least they used a brain claw. So the flaws this has are masked pretty well. I don’t expect this to set anyone’s world on fire, but its a good match and easily the best of this tournament so far. ***

Togi Makabe vs. Tajiri, G1 Climax Block-A, New Japan 8/11

Ya know, Tajiri was kind of a big disappointment in this tournament for me, but this was the match of his I really enjoyed. Sure, there’s some goofy over-selling and whatnot, and Togi isn’t the BEST baby face in the world yet, but overall, this really is another super-fun match from what turned out to be a really good Korakuen Hall show for this G1 tournament. Tajiri is just out to be a slasher-douche right from the get-go. He mocks the high-pitched chicks in the crowd, easily side-steps most of Togi’s stuff and in general, dominates the crowd and Makabe in the early part of the match. Once he gets a little too full of himself and tries to finish Makabe off with some mist, something at that point that was entirely unnecessary in order for him to win… Makabe, not known for having the cleanest record, either, knows its coming a mile away and blocks the mist. He hits a power slam and you instantly feel the momentum of the match change. Togi does well with his control segment for the most part, but gets stuck with no idea what to do right after the big chain-lariat shot, and the moment feels kind of awkward as he tries to urge on a crowd that is probably saying the same thing I am, which is ‘uh, aren’t you supposed to be doing something?’ Togi hits another big lariat and goes for the cover, but Tajiri, ever the trickster and not to be out-a$$holed, spits mist in his eyes to avoid taking a pin fall. Funny, ironic.. but again, just what you’d want in a first round G1 match. **3/4

Takashi Sugiura vs. Hirooki Gotoh, G1 Climax Block-B, New Japan 8/15

This one surprised me. I wasn’t a big fan of their match in July and definitely not a fan of Gotoh much at all, but wouldn’t ya know.. this was an awesome match. Heading into this, Gotoh is the defending champion at this tournament. He needs a win to advance. Standing in his way is Sugiura, who has been the center of this big New Japan-NOAH war that’s been going on since January. As its progressed, Sugiura and Gotoh grew to hate each other just a little bit more every time and wouldn’t ya know, it resulted in a match at last month’s pay per view. Gotoh had been on a role since winning last year’s G1 and then the New Japan Cup this past spring. He stumbled, losing his title shot against Tanahashi, and needed a win to get back into the mix over Sugiura. Things didn’t work out that way though and not only did Sug beat him, he more or less mopped the floor with him. Sugiura took the momentum from that match to challenge Tanahshi himself, and he got beat pretty convincingly.?

So both are more or less using this tournament to get back on track. Both didn’t get off to a great start. Gotoh dropped decisions to both Nagata and Nakamura before going on a tear and beating Iizuka, Tenzan and Nakanishi all in succession. Sugiura stumbled out of the gate himself, losing to Tenzan and Nakamura. He drew Nagata and defeated Nakanishi and Iizuka. Thanks to Nagata slipping up earlier in the night and getting DQ’d, this is essentially a playoff with the winner advancing with Nakamura to the semi-finals. So a lot is on the line here.?

Gotoh just can’t seem to get his feet under him from the outset. He charges Sugiura and loses a strike battle that results in him getting tossed to the outside and more or less manhandled. From there on out, any offense he mounts not only gets a response, but a big one. Gotoh gets in a nice flurry about six minutes in but then gets cut in half by a Sugiura spear. Sug controls the pace before Gotoh’s able to get a nifty counter in, but as soon as it gets broken, Sugs plants his head into the mat with a German than decapitates him with a running knee for good measure. Sug never lets up.. he hits a huge running powerbomb into the corner pad, before punting Gotoh’s head into row 6. Gotoh’s able to use his strong counter ability to stick around and bust out some cool near falls in order to keep things interesting, but this is a gun fight, and Sugiura brought a fvcking howitzer. For today at least, Gotoh doesn’t have a shot. Sugiura plants him with an Olympic slam from the top rope and makes sure we don’t get a repeat winner this year, and also punches a ticket to the semi-finals in the process. Easily the match of the tournament so far. Easily. ***1/2

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Manabu Nakanishi, G1 Climax Block-B, 8/15

This was pretty uninspiring stuff. Nakamura puts the capper on his perfect run through Block-B, beating Nakanishi here, but this was kind of just run-through. This was around 8 minutes long, but they didn’t really go for anything. Nakamura let him hit his signature spots and he sort of did his stuff and they went home with it. Nakanishi is a lot of fun, but holy smokes can the dude over-sell stuff at times. His goofiness is a catch-22 with him, because its what keeps a lot of his matches from being really top-notch, but also part of his allure and charm. Very run of the mill match though, not really worth seeing. *

Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano, G1 Climax Block-A, 8/15

Wow, I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten a little more press amongst Puro-dorks. I really enjoyed this. I usually hate strong babyface-heel matches from Japan post-2000, but this was really fun. The start was especially fun with a good brawl to the outside and Makabe’s second eating a chairshot. I really liked that because its a good re-enforcement of stacking the odds. Yano’s offense largely blows and that hurts this match to be sure, but he keeps the shticky stuff fun and things work out in the end. Its just so weird seeing two Japanese dudes in the OMGITASPORT~ era in wrestling working something (albeit not as well) that would feel more in place in Dallas circa 1982 than it would in Japan in 2009. The other interesting thing here is the crowd. At first they kind of don’t know how to react. Most Japanese crowds are deader than a door nail these days, but they really get into the near falls at the end of this and are all about Makabe. Its been so long since they had someone to REALLY get behind, its almost like they forgot. Fun, fun, fun match. Everything in this match pretty much convinces me New Japan made the right call in terms of who won this thing. *** because I’m in a giving mood.

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