Rising Sun Soliloquy #13
February 25, 2009
Reported By: Hunter Golden of WrestleView.com

New Japan

Former Star Suffers Stroke
Former New Japan star Kantaro Hoshino, 65, suffered a stroke on Wednesday, February 4th. Apparently he was up all night playing Mahjong with friends when the incident occurred. His situation became critical two days later when he contracted pneumonia as a result. Thus far, Hoshino has regained consciousness and is able to communicate via writing, but can’t speak as of yet. Hoshino was probably best known f rom his work managing the Makai Club. Hoshino was a full time wrestler f rom 1961 all the way to 1995

New Tour Cards Announced, 27th Anniversary Show

New Japan will be running its 27th anniversary show on Friday, March 6th at the Korakuen Hall. The main event will be a ‘champions of today v. Champions of yesteryear’ tag match that will pit IWGP Heavyweight & Junior Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tiger Mask against former IWGP champions Masahiro Chono & Jushin ?Thunder? Liger. Also on the card, Shinsuke Nakamura will team with Hirooki Gotoh to take on the Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson.

Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1. Super Strong Machine 25th Anniversary Match: Riki Choshu, Super Strong Machine & Hiro Saito vs. Shiro Koshinaka, AKIRA & Masashi Aoyagi
2. Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Takashi Iizuka, Jado & Gedo
3. Manabu Nakanishi, Yutaka Yoshie , Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto vs. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma
4. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Goto vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
5. 37th Anniversary Special Tag Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tiger Mask vs. Masahiro Chono & Jushin Thunder Liger

Plans for Val Venis, Giant Bernard
Thus far, with Giant Bernard’s push being set somewhat on the back burner, the plan is to bring Val Venis in and pair the two up and make them a major tag team. The feeling is that Gotoh and Makabe are more priorities as singles pushes thus far because they fill more necessary, specific roles in the top part of the card that Bernard does not. With the continued focus on the Makabe singles push, they will need a top tag team to take over and its felt that Bernard & Venis would make a strong anchor for the division.

Upcoming Cards
NJPW, 3/8/09 (WPW)
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
1. Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, Prince Devitt & Kazuchika Okada vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Koji Kanemoto, Taichi Ishikari & Nobuo Yoshihashi
2. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Winner of Hirasawa/Honma vs. Takashi Iizuka
3. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Wataru Inoue vs. Tomohiro Ishii
4. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Milano Collection AT vs. Toru Yano
5. Riki Choshu & Masahiro Chono vs. Jado & Gedo
6. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Hirooki Goto vs. Karl Anderson
7. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Manabu Nakanishi vs. Yutaka Yoshie
8. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe
9. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata vs. Giant Bernard & Val Venis
NJPW, 3/14/09
Kuki City Gymnasium
1. Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Black Tiger, Jado & Gedo
2. Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto & Milano Collection AT vs. Giant Bernard, Val Venis & Karl Anderson
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto vs. Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma
NJPW, 3/15/09 (SXW)
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1. New Japan Cup – Round 2:
2. New Japan Cup – Round 2:
3. New Japan Cup – Round 2:
4. New Japan Cup – Round 2:
NJPW, 3/16/09
Tsubame Citizen Gymnasium
1. Manabu Nakanishi & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Hirooki Goto & Taichi Ishikari
2. Shinsuke Nakamura, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Togi Makabe, Jado & Gedo
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask vs. Giant Bernard, Karl Anderson & Black Tiger
NJPW, 3/17/09
Kumagaya Citizen Gymnasium
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Togi Makabe, Jado & Gedo
2. Yuji Nagata & Kazuchika Okada vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Goto
3. Manabu Nakanishi, Yutaka Yoshie , Tiger Mask & Koji Kanemoto vs. Giant Bernard, Val Venis, Karl Anderson & Black Tiger
NJPW, 3/20/09
Takamatsu City Gymnasium
1. Tiger Mask, Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari vs. Black Tiger, Jado & Gedo
2. Masahiro Chono & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Goto
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Giant Bernard, Val Venis & Karl Anderson
NJPW, 3/21/09
Fukuyama Big Rose
1. Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Black Tiger, Jado & Gedo
2. Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto & Wataru Inoue vs. Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Giant Bernard, Val Venis & Karl Anderson
NJPW, 3/22/09 (Samurai! TV)
Amagasaki Memorial Park Gymnasium
1. New Japan Cup – Semi Final:
2. New Japan Cup – Semi Final:
3. New Japan Cup – Final:
Okinawa Prefectural Budokan
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Karl Anderson
2. Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto & Milano Collection AT vs. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka
3. Riki Choshu & Kazuchika Okada vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

Pro Wrestling NOAH

Pro Wrestling Format Change Made Official
On Monday NTV President Shintaro Kubo held a press conference to mostly run down the various cost-cutting measures his network would be undergoing in the coming months. Of course as reported in ‘Rising Sun’ the past few weeks, one of those cuts included the television show ‘Pro Wrestling’, which is the longest running program in the history of television, starting back in 1954. While being a prime time staple for many years, it was moved to a 2am time slot, in a move that many people was an absolute burial for the show, but somehow, the show consistently drew between a 1.0 & 2.0 rating. While the show is not being canceled entirely, its format has been overhauled completely, and will only feature classic All Japan and NOAH matches. It will not be featuring any of the current NOAH product. The good news is that G+, the NTV satellite network responsible for broadcasting NOAH’s big shows, will continue to do so. The bigger house shows/Saturday Night’s Main Event-type shows will air on the network in addition to the four, four-hour Budokan Hall Television specials.

However, the problem remains that few people receive NTV’s satellite network. So in all reality, it moves NOAH to the level of an independent. With no TV money, which is a huge part of the budget, the company will have to undergo a dramatic restructuring if its to survive.

Misc. NOAH Rumblings
As reported a few weeks ago, Takeshi Rikio & Mohommed Yone have recently started a new Kekigun heel faction. The group has also added Kotaro Suzuki and the plans are to push the group quite heavily in the coming months. Rikio and Yone defeated GHC Tag Team Champions Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito in a non title match last Thursday in Osaka and have been moved into a position to take the belts. Yone has changed his look up, shaving his trademark Afro and going with shorter hair.

Go Shiozaki continued his momentum by defeating Bison Smith on Sunday in Nagoya. The working plans as of now are that Shiozaki will challenge the winner of the Sasaki-Akayama match in May at the Budokan.

Budokan Hall Preview

This Sunday’s Budokan show looks to be an interesting one, as it will likely be one of the last heavily advertised NOAH shows for the foreseeable future. The main event pits GHC Heavyweight Champion Kensuke Sasaki against Jun Akiyama. The storyline heading in is that Akiyama has vowed that if he does not win the belt, he’ll never challenge for the title again. Akiyama has been an interesting case over the past few years. When the company broke off f rom All Japan in 2000, Akiyama seemed on the cusp of truly breaking out as a go-to singles star. The NOAH split didn’t seem to indicate that plans for him had changed, either, as he was immediately thrown into a big feud with Kenta Kobashi where he was able to score a pin fall on the All Japan and soon-to-be NOAH legend in a tag team match before becoming the second GHC Champion, defeating Mitsuharu Misawa. Despite strong defenses against New Japan’s Yuji Nagata and Hiroshi Tanahashi, carrying both to strong matches, the lack of top contenders caused NOAH to abandon his push and transition the title to Misawa by using Yoshinari Ogawa.

After mulling about in the upper mid card, they began pushing Akiyama hard yet again and in June/July of 2004, he looked primed to finally take the throne, and derail Kenta Kobashi’s year long run as GHC Champion at the Tokyo Dome. However, it wasn’t to be as Kobashi defeated Akiyama and would go on to hold the belt well into 2005. Many consider Akiyama’s loss at the Dome to be a big mistake on the part on NOAH, a mistake they felt would effect the company long-term.

In 2006, Akiyama was able to unseat Akira Taue as champion and finally get another run with the belt. However, Akiyama controlled his own bookings and saught more to elevate stars rather than draw strong business. While putting on a strong match with career mid carder Masao Inoue, the match drew terribly and was only topped by his d ropping the belt in his second defense to Junior Heavyweight Naomichi Marifuji. This will likely be the last real go round with Jun as Champion, and even at that, there’s a strong chance the push may again fail.

Kensuke Sasaki, the champion, defeated Takeshi Morishima last September for the championship and has made two successful defenses since then. He defeated Mohommed Yone in late September and then Akitoshi Saito in December. Sasaki came up through New Japan before going independent around 2004. He made a big splash in NOAH, wrestling one of the more memorable matches in some years with Kenta Kobashi at the 2005 Tokyo Dome show. After a successful stint in All Japan, where he won the Triple Crown, Sasaki signed an affiliate aggreement with NOAH to wrestle in their promotion. In September, he won the title f rom Takeshi Morishima, however his drawing power has been questionable. That being said, he hasn’t been given any high-profile defenses.

The GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship will also be on the line Sunday, as champion Katsuhiko Nakajima defends his newly won championship against former champion KENTA, in a rematch of their 2/11 Kensuke office match where Nakajima was able to rest the title away f rom the NOAH superstar. These two have developed a big history over the last year or so, and this should probably considered the blow-off affair between the two. Expect a lot of kicks.

The third major match pits New Japan against NOAH as Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T. Invade NOAH to take on the team of Takashi Sugiura & Go Shiozaki in a match where almost everyone seems to have a lot to prove. Segiura impressed greatly with his performance at the Tokyo Dome while Go Shiozaki is in line for a GHC title shot. Nakamura on the other hand, is fresh coming off his unsuccessful challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi at the Sumo Hall. The loss was the third straight title match loss for Nakamura, whose vowed to show us all again, why he’s the man. Milano Collection A.T., in a recent promo, also said he’s got a lot to prove, even though we all don’t know what that is exactly. According to him, he says he has the sexiest clothes you’ve never seen. Crazy Japanese folks.

Also, Kenta Kobashi will be making his big return, taking on Masao Inoue in the opening match of the night. The plan is to push Kobashi up the card one rung at a time. There was even talk of putting him in the dark match to add to the whole work, but instead they opted to put him on Television, for obvious reasons.

NOAH 01/03/09
Tokyo Nippon Budokan
1. Kenta Kobashi Return Match: Kenta Kobashi vs Masao Inoue
2. Taiji Ishimori & Ippei Ota vs Takashi Okita & Kento Miyahara
3. Akira Taue, Naomichi Marufuji & Atsushi Aoki vs Buchanan, Roderick Strong & Davey Richards
4. Takeshi Riko & Kotaro Suzuki vs Yoshihiro Takayama & Ricky Marvin
5. Takeshi Morishima, Makoto Hashi & Akihito Ito vs Mohammed Yone, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Genba Hirayanagi
6. Bison Smith, Akitoshi Saito & Doug Williams vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Shuhei Taniguchi
7. Takashi Sugiura & Go Shiozaki vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T.
8. GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs KENTA
9. GHC Heavyweight Title: Kensuke Sasaki (c) vs Jun Akiyama


NOAH 19/02/09
Osaka Prefectural Gym #2
1700 fans (Super No-Vacancy)
1. Masashi Aoyagi & Masao Inoue?d. Shuhei Taniguchi & Mitsuo Momota (10:20) when Aoyagi used?a Schoolboy Cutback on Momota.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki?d. Taiji Ishimori & Ippei Ota (15:24) when Suzuki used the Blue Destiny on Ota.
3. Takeshi Morishima, Takashi Sugiura & Akihito Ito d. Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Genba Hirayanagi (11:54) when Sugiura used an Ankle Hold on Hirayanagi.
4. Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Go Shiozaki?d. Buchanan, Doug Williams & Ricky Marvin (19:31) when Shiozaki used the Go Flash on Marvin.
5. KENTA?d. Roderick Strong (11:59) with the Go2Sleep.
6. Naomichi Marufuji?d. Davey Richards (11:53) with a Shiranui.
7. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima?d. Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki (19:35) when Sasaki used a Strangle Hold Z on Aoki.
8. Special Tag Match: Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone d. Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito (18:11) when Rikio used a Muso on Saito

NOAH 21/02/09
Takamatsu Symbol Tower Exhibition Hall
950 fans (Super No-Vacancy)
1. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki & Genba Hirayanagi d. KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & Ippei Ota (16:07) when Hirayanagi used the Shoryu Genba on Ota.
2. Naomichi Marufuji & Atsushi Aoki d. Doug Williams & Ricky Steamboat Jr. (14:46) with a High Angle Jujigatame.
3. Bison Smith, Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue d. Akira Taue, Takuma sano & Akihito Ito (13:52) when Smith used the Bisontennial on Ito.
4. Takeshi Morishima & Takashi Sugiura d. Buchanan & Davey Richards (11:48) when Sugiura used an Ankle Hold on Richards.
5. Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone d. Jun Akiyama & Shuhei Taniguchi (13:18) when Rikio used the Muso on Taniguchi.
6. Go Shiozaki?d. Roderick Strong (14:10) with a Lariat.
7. Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin d. Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Takashi Okita (21:13) when Marvin used a Diving Body Press on Okita.

NOAH 22/02/09
Zepp Nagoya
1100 fans (No-Vacancy)
1. Masao Inoue d. Mitsuo Momota (7:40) with a Schoolboy Cutback.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki d. Ippei Ota & Ricky Steamboat Jr. (11:32) when Kanemaru used a Vertical d rop Brainbuster on Steamboat.
3. Buchanan, Doug Williams & Roderick Strong d. Akira Taue, Takuma Sano & Masashi Aoyagi (15:37) when Strong used the Stronghold on Aoyagi.
4. KENTA & Taiji Ishimori?d. Naomichi Marufuji & Akihito Ito (13:43) when KENTA used the Go2Sleep on Ito.
5. Takeshi Morishima & Takashi Sugiura d. Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki (13:07) when Sugiura used an Ankle Hold on Aoki.
6. Akitoshi Saito & Shuhei Taniguchi d. Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Okita (12:33) when Taniguchi used a German Suplex Hold on Okita.
7. Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin d. Takeshi Rikio, Mohammed Yone & Genba Hirayanagi (15:10) when Marvin used a Rotating Cradle on Hirayanagi.
8. Katsuhiko Nakajima?d. Davey Richards (13:13) with a German Suplex Hold.
9. Go Shiozaki?d. Bison Smith (21:35) with a Schoolboy.

All Japan Pro Wrestling

The third tour of the year will be coming up for All Japan. The big news is that all the shows will be headlined by the Great Muta. He’ll be facing most of the top young stars in the company, in preperation for his triple crown defense on March 14th against Yosihiro Takayama.

AJPW, 3/1/09
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
– Great Muta vs. MAZADA
AJPW, 3/4/09
Shirakawa Central Gymnasium

– Great Muta vs. Manabu Soya
AJPW, 3/6/09
Tochigi City Center Sub Arena
– Great Muta vs. Seiya Sanada
AJPW, 3/8/09
Tatebayashi Citizen Gymnasium
– Great Muta vs. KAI
AJPW, 3/10/09
Kesen-numa City Gymnasium
– Great Muta vs. Hiroshi Yamato
AJPW, 3/11/09
Hachinohe City Gymnasium
– Great Muta vs. NOSAWA Rongai
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
– Triple Crown: Great Muta (c) vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

Osamu Nishimura defends his New Korean Pro Wrestling championship against Tatsuhito Takaiwa (not as Black Tiger) on the 3/1 show at Korakuen Hall.
Kaz Hayashi vs. Minoru for the All Japan jr. title was announced for 3/14 at Sumo Hall.

AJPW, 3/1/09
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
– Hiroshi Yamato vs. Ryota Hama
– Champion Carnival Participation Determination: Seiya Sanada vs. Manabu Soya
– Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Hate
– Great Muta vs. MAZADA
– Kaz Hayashi & Ryuji Hijikata vs. TARU & Minoru
– NKPWA World Heavyweight Title: Osamu Nishimura (c) vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
– AJPW World Tag Team Title #1 Contendership: Suwama & Shuji Kondo vs. Joe Doering & ZODIAC
– All Asia Tag Team Title: Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA Rongai (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima & KAI
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
1. AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kaz Hayashi (c) vs. Minoru
2. AJPW World Tag Team Title: Taiyo Kea & Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Winner of 3/1 #1 Contendership
3. Triple Crown: Great Muta (c) vs. Yoshihiro Takayama


Former WWE superstar Lance Cade debuted on Sunday with the HUSTLE promotion, defeating Bono-kun in five minutes. He’s got a new manager names Francois. Also on the same card, Toshiaki Kawada defeated Shiro Koshinaka and Tajiri wrestled twice. He’s got a gimmick called Kikkoman that he debuted later in the night.

Sasuke Has Run-In with the Law

Great Sasuke, the former famous New Japan juniors wrestler and member of the Iwate Prefecture’s diet (equivalent to state senate) made headlines this past week after a run in with a fan on a train that resulted his being arrested. Sasuke was on the train when a pedestrian began taking pictures of him. Sasuke still wears his mask and apparently the person just thought it’d be funny to take pictures of the weirdo on the train wearing a mask. When Sasuke finally blew his stack, the person thought it was funny and laughed at him. Although Sasuke is a house hold name in his home in the northeastern part of Japan, he’s not super well known in Tokyo. The person kept on taking pictures with his cell phone and Sasuke had enough, took the man’s cell phone and smashed it before taking him by the collar, ripping his shirt off and throwing him into the train door. Someone who was watching the whole ordeal unfold called the cops and they showed up at the next station and arrested Sasuke.

The man who took the photos didn’t give his name and said he was fine. Sasuke was held in jail for 40 and then released. Apparently, Sasuke has a ‘super attorney’ who came in and worked out a deal that in exchange for an apology and some pictures with the man, the charges were d ropped.

Inoki’s Birthday

Antonio Inoki celebrated his 66th birthday on the 20th. Apparently during his birthday party itself, Yoshihiro Takayama took the time to challenge Naoya Ogawa, and its being billed as IGF’s next big program. Only at Inoki’s birthday party.

Random Match Musings

Jushin “Thunder” Liger v. Daisuke Sekimoto, Big Japan Pro Wrestling, 1/22

Liger’s pretty much Liger. Class worker, knows how to get us to give a sh!t about a centipede, so you almost always know what to expect. Sekimoto is a guy whose largely over because of his super human strength. This guy, no joke, has the prettiest looking suplexes you’ll ever see and some of the nastiest lariats to go along with ’em. He’s kind of an up and comer on the Indy circuit, and is mostly known for his stuff with Masato Tanaka in Zero-1, and his tag work in Big Japan. He’s also been featured on New Japan’s new sub-brand ‘Premium’ and has thus far impressed.

Back story here is real simple: 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 get, 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 moments 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 what it is depending on what bugs ya. Its at least worth seeing if for nothing more than watching Liger as a heel carry the crap out of a talented youngster. **1/2

KENTA v. Kotaro Suzuki, GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship, NOAH 1/25

My first run through, I really enjoyed this, but I think in the end its one of those things where its just something that you’re so NOT used to seeing in NOAH, that you sort of reflexively consider it ‘good’. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a lot of fun, but another long KENTA match that doesn’t need to be long, and Kotaro Suzuki, whose never been a heel before, just trying ‘too hard’ to be a good heel by whipping through Eddie Guererro antics and expecting us all to just take it on its face.

There’s some awesome stuff here though, including some fun stuff into the bleachers, some good brawling, etc. The problem here is that they start so ‘hatefully’, but the heel tactics f rom Suzuki kind of boarder on corny and just aren’t well placed. It comes off more as a guy trying to play the part of a bad guy. Especially with the comedic Eddie spots thrown in there. I can’t imagine Eddie whipping out the chair shot spot in his matches with JBL in 2005, matches that were pretty intense. The stuff just doesn’t fit.

The finishing run is ok, but the counter-mania REALLY has to stop. People wonder why people don’t watch wrestling that much anymore.. I’ll tell ya, one of the reasons is because they don’t know what’s important these days and what isn’t. If you’re bursting through finishers, then they’re not finishers. They’re just another move. If the finish to every match is ‘epic’, than none of the matches are ‘epic’. People have no clue what to watch. When every thing’s ‘important’, than nothing is. Thus the constant counters make you wonder why the two keep going back to the same moves that keep getting countered, over and over.

This isn’t a bad match. But it isn’t anywhere close to what SUWA was able to get out of Kenta a couple of years ago. This.. is just a guy trying to act like a heel and Kenta kicking him. A lot. **1/2

Hirooki Gotoh & Jushin ?Thunder? Liger v. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask, New Japan 1/31

This is a pretty good tag match here, well worth going out of your way to see. This occurred over the bi-polar Korakuen weekend New Japan threw at the end of January where they had an alarmingly sparse crowd the first night only to sell the place out the second night. Just odd. Anyways, this is a match up between four guys who would all face each other on the Sumo Hall show a few weeks later. Of course Liger would challenge Tiger Mask and Nagata and Goto would face off in a meeting between the heart and soul of company and the next big thing.

The opening seven-eight minutes of this are really top notch stuff. Liger REALLY takes it to Tiger Mask, really establishing himself as dominant and a very real threat to Mask’s belt in two weeks. Everything’s got mustard on it, f rom the simple stomps to the rough way Liger releases his bow and arrow. The exchange by Gotoh and Nagata was particularly good though, as Gotoh blows his knee out before they can even get going. Nagata ruthlessly goes after the banged up wing working some fun submissions and booting the crap out of it. Eventually, Liger and Tiger tag in.

Tiger Mask is as boring a worker as you’re going to find out there, and everyone sort of seems to acknowledge that here, as his incredibly boring control segments is distracted by Nagata and Gotoh brawling on the outside to keep us never focusing in on one thing for too long, and thus coming to the conclusion we reluctantly know, which is the fact that Tiger Mask is a pretty sh!tty wrestler.

After the demolition job on the outside, We get a good dose of Liger beat down, which with Gotoh on the outside injured, really does a good job of stacking the chips against Liger and his partner. Nagata’s stuff is pretty good, Tiger Masks’ stuff, not so much. Finally, Gotoh manages to crawl onto the ring apron, only for Nagata to send him off HARD~.

The finish is pretty darn awesome here, too, as eventually, Gotoh gets back up on the apron and is able to grab Nagata in a sleeper to keep him at bay. Nagata’s struggles compel Tiger Mask to try to help his partner, only for Gotoh to throw Nagata to the outside and deck Tiger Mask, dazing him long enough for Liger to snare a cool roll up attempt. Tiger kicks out, but Liger’s able to counter with a lariat shortly there after for a near fall. Tiger nips up, dazed but not out of it and goes for a go behind, only for Liger to d rop down and roll him up for the three count. Nagata and Gotoh are on the outside brawling and Liger jumps down to shield his partner. Great, tight tag match, probably better than either of the matches these four had on the Sumo Hall card. ***1/4

Kensuke Sasaki & Kota Ibushi v. Jun Akiyama & Taiji Ishimiori, Kensuke Office, 2/11

I love the ‘big heavyweight star paired with a skilled junior’ thing, especially in build up matches. And Ibushi BRINGS it to this match. IMO, far and away the best thing in this match. He’s great as the center piece of the match. He’s obviously outmatched by Akiyama and their exchanges are awesome. He works some really intricate sequences with Ishimori, and they do a great job together for the most part, of toning the silliness down. They keep the focus on the shoulder and arm, with Ishimori coming up with all sorts of nifty ways as to how to rip it apart, while Ibushi comes up with some really cool ways with how to sell it.

Anytime I see Ishimori’s name in a match, I get a little nervous, just because of all the overkill demons in the world… well, let’s put it this way: if Teddy Hart is King, then Ishimori might be Prince. And that pops up here, as I really hate the finishing run. Now the matrix like sequence in this match is WAY better placed as it really helps up the crowd for the stretch run, but I really thought that stretch run was awful. We get some head dumpy/pop up stuff f rom Sasaki and Akiyama and in all honesty, Akiyama taking this fall doesn’t really help the build up for their match all that much, especially considering Akiyama didn’t take a whole heck of a lot of abuse in the match, sans the big strike battle of course. Ishimori and Ibushi on the other hand, after doing such a good job of staying focused and cool, just lose their bearings and start doing the crazy stuff I tend to just not be cool with. And Kensuke Sasaki going to the top rope, which in and of itself is a little dumb and misplaced, just so they can set up a top rope exploder, one of Akiyama’s signature moves off the top rope, only for Kensuke to pop up all no-selly, makes me a sad panda.

This is really, really good except for the last five minutes, which fall off the wagon pretty bad. **1/2

KENTA vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship, Kensuke Office, 2/11

The first thing that strikes me as ‘weird’ in this, is that we see one guy use his opponent’s finisher used in the first two minutes. Yikes. The fact that it doesn’t really go anywhere either, is a problem. A problem that is capped off by the fact this is a 40-minute match.

At least Nakajima looks good in the opening back and forth of the brawly-part of this match with KENTA coming back with some surliness of his own. The tombstone part is awesome and could have probably been a great transition spot if, well, this hadn’t needlessly gone for another 20 minutes or so. The mat work is pretty average, as that’s not either guy’s real fortay, but what really just kills this match is the usual ‘epic’ NOAH finish they go with, where people are blowing out of finishers. Its made worse by the fact that it last 10 freaking minutes. Whose the dil-weed that thinks its a good idea to have KENTA work 40 minute matches, anyways? Just strikes me as weird because he looked better than he has in years in ’08, working primarily SHORTER matches. Its entertaining enough for the end where Nakajima gets the big pat on the back f rom Kensuke, but other than that, you’ve seen this match a million times. **

Takeshi Morishima & Makoto Hashi v. Mohommed Yone & Takeshi Rikioh, NOAH, 2/15

]This is supposed to be a hot feud and in all honesty, I like the idea of a new heel faction in NOAH, as NOAH booking is as exciting as watching grass grow. Imagine, like… TWO of your ex girlfriends finding each other and becoming best friends. Then they decide to take their menstrual rage out on your overweight, unassuming self. For no apparent reason. This is Takeshi Morishima’s world these days as former tag parters Mohommed Yone and Takeshi Rikioh have declared ‘war’ on him.

So Morishima enlists some help, but it’s not much. Its Makoto Hashi, whose the best jobber in wrestling today. Hashi basically was Jun Akiyama’s b!tch in the Sterness faction. He was this pathetic character, who always tried to prove his metal to the boss, but never managed to do so.. Akiyama was never afraid to tell Makoto how bad he thought he was, either in segments or in the ring. Hashi was really a guy who never panned out largely due to injuries, but there’s not questioning his talent when he’s healthy. In perhaps his best performance, he ‘promised’ Jun Akiyama they’d win the tag belts at the NOAH dome show and man, does he go all out. In the end, he comes up short, and in tears, Akiyama gave him a simple pat on the back, and it made for one of the best moments in NOAH’s history. Since then though, it sort of took away f rom Hashi’s shtick a bit, and he’s been back to fighting injury and more or less floating in the bottom part of the card.

But of course, Hashi being Hashi, he’s here to help Morishima, even though he probably isn’t much of a help. Of course, the heels jump Hashi and easily dispatch of him to the outside, before focusing their wrath on the glorious glob of fat that is Morishima. Mori fires back with a pretty casual double clothesline. f rom there on out, a brawl ensues, and Morishima is making women scream with Rikioh in the stands while Hashi’s doing enough damage to keep Yone at bay, but obviously isn’t going to do enough to beat him.

f rom here on out though, this just goes totally flat with some really uninteresting exchanges between Morishima and Rikioh, even more uninteresting exchanges between Morishima and Yone before Hashi tags in to help Mori finish the job. Everything goes ok for about 20 seconds before Kotaro Suzuki shows up, pulls Morishima out of the ring, boinks him with a chair and Yone hits some really awful looking kicks on Hashi to end this whole thing. This is disappointing. Usually anything Hashi’s in is usually a lot of fun. You’d FIGURE with Morishima in there, this’d be a LOT of fun. Just goes to show how undeniably horrible both Yone and Rikioh are. *3/4

Beer Money v. Masahiro Chono & AKIRA, New Japan, 2/15

I’m not a huge fan of TNA, but I watch it regularly to keep on the up and up for the purposes of this silly site. So I know a lot about Storm and Roode’s shtick, and to be honest, of anyone heading to Japan on the latest TNA go-round, Beer Money was the one that intrigued me the most, just because its something that strikes me as so gloriously out of place that its worth it to go out of your way to check out, not because it’ll be a good match, but just to see how this sh!t is going to actually work.

And its pretty ok stuff. Its not barn storming exactly, but its a fun match. The good thing is, that Masahiro Chono’s in this and Chono brings with him a very American-like heat to his matches far more so than a lot of other acts. Last month at the Tokyo Dome, we saw Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin find themselves at a loss as to what to do in front of a crowd that wouldn’t pop on cue for their set spots, and as a result, they just kept whipping out more of them, and wouldn’t ya know, no one reacted to it.

Storm and Roode do a better job here because they work the crowd a little bit, bully AKIRA plenty and whenever they seem like they’re losing the crowd, Chono’s there to cover their backside. Not a knock on Roode or Storm, but when you’re working that kind of a crowd for the first time, its always good to have a dude that can help you whip them up, get a reaction and generally speaking, have your back.

The AKIRA beat down spots are fun, but they DO drag at times, and when they do, Chono’s there, and his exchanges with the two Americans and him are particularly fun. This isn’t a blow you away kind of match and it wasn’t meant to be, but Beer Money should be thanking their stars for having a guy like Chono to work with in this kind of introductory match. **1/4

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

1.) Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Shinsuke Nakamura, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, New Japan 2.15.09
2.) Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Gotoh v. Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Suguira, New Japan 1.4.09
3.) Yuji Nagata v. Masato Tanaka, Zero-ONE World Championship, New Japan, 1.4.09
4.) Kurt Angle v. Giant Bernard, New Japan 2.15.09
4.) Yuji Nagata v. Hirooki Gotoh, New Japan 2.15.09