Pure-J 5/6/18 Live Thoughts

May 6, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan

Pure-J is an interesting case for me. They have a reasonably talented core roster… most of whom I personally don’t really connect with for some reason. As such I wasn’t sure I was going to attend this show (and had originally planned to attend another running at the same time than had some Ice Ribbon wrestlers appearing), but once Aoi Kizuki announced her retirement I wanted to take advantage of possibly one last chance to see her wrestle (although as it turns out I will have a few more…). Other guests including Saori Anou, Sareee, Mari (in my only chance to see her this trip), and Saki also increased my interest in this show.

 

 

As honestly expected for me I found the opening two matches of Commando Boishoi vs Mari Manji and Leon vs Kazuki  fine but unremarkable.

 

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Yako Fujigasaki is hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure how the Visual Hunter Battle Royal (which was more like a gauntlet match for Yako than a everyone-for-themselves battle royal) was going to go. It ended up being great fun.  Saki, Koharu Hinata, Aoi Kizuki, Hanako Nakamori (Pure-J champion and my favorite of their roster), Saori Anou, and Makoto got the better of Yako frequently and there were several good story beats mixed into Yako’s attitude, perseverance, and eventual win. Hanako got in her face after the match and has every ringside cracking up with whatever was said. Yako’s definitely improving and growing on me, and she was pitch perfect in her role here both when getting her comeuppance and when it was time to turn on the attitude. Aoi always amuses me greatly, Saki is a vastly underrated talent, and the more I see Saori the bigger a fan of hers I become.

 

 

Mari & Sareee kept the main event tag contest against Manami Katsu & Rydeen Hagane energetic and exciting while allowing the Pure-J regulars to flash power and control portions as appropriate without bogging down the pace. Sareee’s a superstar in the making.

 

 

I liked this more than I expected, primarily on the strength of the later two matches. The highlights continue to be from guests (and again that’s not a knock on the talent of the core roster, but more reflection of my personal tastes), but as long as the show’s enjoyable that doesn’t matter in the least. Decent way to wrap up the wrestling portion of that trip.

 

Match Review: Jumonji Sisters vs Best Friends 12/27/15 (DVD)

I’ve finally gotten the DVD containing one of the very best matches I’ve ever seen live, and am excited to revisit it and do a review of here. The entire event (JWP Climax 12/27/15) was quite good, but I’d like to focus on just the tag title match for this entry (both as a spotlight and because I intend to due full play-by-play).

 

JWP Tag Title Match: Jumonji Sisters (c) (Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko) vs Best Friends (Tsukasa Fujimoto and Arisa Nakajima) ****3/4

 

 

 

This was tied for my favorite match of the eighty-four I saw the first time I went to Japan, so as mentioned I’ve really been looking forward to rewatching it.

Handshakes all around. Arisa and Dash start. Knuckle-lock tie up, Dash kicks out of it and grabs a headlock which Arisa reverses into a waistlock, then a front facelock. Dash tries to twist out but Arisa keep hold of the arm and arm drags Dash down into a headlock on the mat, but the latter gets a headscissors. Arisa kips out and we have a stalemate. Smooth counter wrestling sequence from two pros and we’re off to a great start.

Collar and elbow this time, mutually broken after some jockeying, Dash emphatically swings at Arisa with a clothesline attempt which is ducked, and Tsukka comes in with a kick to Dash to give her team the advantage. I always find it interesting in Joshi tag matches that partners come in regularly for double teams unbothered by the ref but when actual tags happen people generally just switch and head right out to the apron. Almost the opposite of what’s expected over here.

Dash sent to the ropes and caught with a double dropkick, but she flips to counter the following double arm ringer and drags both opponents over, setting up stereo shotgun dropkicks as Sachiko comes in to help out.

Rapid fire offense from the champs on Arisa: Dash whips Arisa into the ropes and drops down, Sachiko kick off the rebound, Dash knee to the face, Sachiko faceplant, Dash basement dropkick. The Jumonis are so quick and fluid with this type of offense it’s an absolute joy to watch.

Dash nails on last kick to Arisa’s face before tagging out. Then Sachiko hits one and sends Arisa into the corner. As fast as Dash left the ring she’s back in for the double team, and is alley-ooped by Sachiko into a beautiful shotgun dropkick in the corner. Tsukka’s knocked off the apron by Dash as Sachiko hits a bridging suplex on Arisa for 2.

 

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An angry Tsukka comes in to kick away at Sachiko, but the latter ducks ducks a clothesline and Tsukka eats a Dash forearm and rolls right back out of the ring. Scoop slam on Arisa by Sachiko and Dash just stands on her for a bit. Awesome way for the confident champs to both taunt and damage the challenger at the same time.  Sachiko gets her own partner in suplex position and slams Dash down on Arisa facebuster style. Dash walks over Arisa again and then Sachiko hits a gorgeous summersault senton off the ropes for 2.

Sachiko up top with a shotgun missile dropkick for 2.  I didn’t remember Arisa taking this much of a beating so early on. Sachiko hits the ropes and Tsukka with a cheapshot kick to the back to give her partner a chance to nail a couple of kicks and tag out, which brings Tsukka in officially for the first time. She goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits her own missile dropkick, knocking Sachiko back into the far corner which allows Tsukka to follow up with her running seated dropkick. Tsukka looks for a suplex, but Dash is in to break it up and the Jumonji’s whip Tsukka into the ropes, but she catches them both with a dropkick on the rebound (nicely landing one foot on each opponent, even if the shot was glancing on Dash).

Trio of hard kicks to a seated Sachiko’s back by Tsukka, then she hits the ropes for one to the chest but Sachiko ducks and rolls her up for 2. Savate kick to Tsukka’s face then Sachiko hoists her up for a suplex, but Tsukka adjusts midair to escape, lands on her feet, returns Sachiko to a seated position with some kicks, then hits the ropes and nails the kick to the chest afterall for 2.

Tsukka back to the top, but Dash delays her from the apron and Sachiko uses the second rope for a sweet handstand headscissors to bring Tsukka back into the ring. Knucklelock Northern Lights suplex with a bridge gets 2.

Tag to Dash, who goes up and hits a missile dropkick sending Tsukka into the far corner. Sachiko whips Dash at Tsukka, but Tsukka ducks Dash’s clothesline, then ducks one by Sachiko, then turns and throws one at Sachiko (which is ducked), and ducks another by Dash. But she turns right into a double dropkick by the champs and is back in the corner. Sachiko goes outside and Dash rebounds off the far corner super quick to hit a shotgun dropkick on the seated Tsukka.  The counters and strikes are coming so fast it’s taking me a paragraph to describe ten seconds of action.

 

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Dash pulls Tsukka up and climbs to the second rope with Tsukka trapped between her and the corner and hits a rope assisted shotgun dropkick to Tsukka’s chest for 2. Back up for a double stomp but Tsukka rolls out of the way and Arisa attacks, but Dash ducks the clothesline attempt and sends Arisa crashing into Tsukka. Sachiko in and the champs each hit a running forearm on their double stacked opponents in the corner.

Arisa whipped to the far corner, but dumps a charging Sachiko to the apron as Tsukka kicks Dash to take over. Tsukka and Dash fight for a suplex as Arisa jumps down to the outside from the top rope, grabbing Sachiko in a DDT on the ring apron on the way down (ouch!!). Tsukka fights off the suplex, ducks a clothesline, hits the ropes, then hits her wheelbarrow rollup into a seated chest kick. Arisa comes in and they hit a double kick on Dash for 2. Arisa up top, now tagged in officially, and a connects with a missile shotgun dropkick.

 

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Dash fights off a waistlock with back elbows, but Arisa knees her into the corner in response to keep the challengers in full control. Whip to the far corner, charging knee strike, Dash drops to seated position and Arisa lays in more knee strikes, then breaks off to knock Sachiko down and Tsukka comes in for a running dropkick to the still seated Dash. Another running knee strike by Arisa follows, then she rolls Dash to the center of the ring and as the latter stands up Arisa and Tsukka go up in adjacent corners for a double missile dropkick. Gets 2.

Full nelson by Arisa (presumably for a dragon suplex). Dash powers out and eats a forearm for her trouble.  She throws a clothesline in response, but Arisa ducks and   finally nails a snap German and then holds on for two more. Dash tries to block the fourth so Arisa just headbutts her in the back of her head and hits a deadlift version with a bridge. Sachiko saves at 2. Arisa signals for the dragon to end it, but in a beautiful bit of teamwork Dash calls for her partner to superkick at her and ducks at the last second so Arisa eats the shot. Dash hits the ropes and lands a diamond cutter, Sachiko with a basement dropkick that sends Arisa into the ropes, Dash with one against the ropes, then drags Arisa out to the center for a 2 count. Again, all the rapid fire double teaming the champs do is just so smooth.

Dash kicks at the downed Arisa but the latter avoids it and gets up, then the two trade yakuza kicks to the face. Unreal. Arisa hits the ropes and runs into Dash basement dropkick to make her faceplant (the crowd felt that one), then another right to Arisa’s face as she tries to get up. Gets 2. Tag to Sachiko. She hits a shotgun dropkick followed by a backdrop suplex, then another of her swank summersault sentons for 2.

Dash in and whips Arisa into Sachiko (who’s seated on the turnbuckles in a corner). She catches Arisa with a boot, tornado DDT, Arisa rolls up after the hit towards the far corner and Dash is waiting with a missile dropkick, which knocks Arisa back into a Sachiko German with a bridge for 2. They knocked Arisa back and forth like a ping pong ball in that sequence, which was incredible.

 

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Dash up top with Sachiko preparing to climb the same corner for their sequential frogsplash finish, but Arisa gets the boots up as Dash comes down (man that looked brutal) and Tsukka attacks Sachiko to hang her up in the ropes. Arisa climbs and nails Sachiko with a double stomp to the midsection to bring her down hard. Arisa up again, and another double stomp to the prone Sachiko gets 2.  Arisa drags her out to the center of the ring. Sachiko tries to fight back but a hard forearm ends that and Arisa hits a release German suplex, then Tsukka joins in for another double kick for 2. Arisa up top again but Dash intercepts, goes all the way up with her and lands a diamond cutter off the top!

 

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Arisa’s in major trouble. As Sachiko hits a beautiful release German of her own, Dash is already in position in the corner and nails an immediate frog splash. Sachiko goes up for hers, also nails it, and Arisa looks dead. 1, 2, and at the very last second Tsukka DIVES from out of sight on the floor outside the ring through the ropes and gets by Dash to save the match. Phenomenal sequence from the champs (and Arisa), and flawless timing for maximum drama from Tsukka on the save.

 

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Sachiko looking for another German. Arisa claws at the ropes and reverses into a waistlock of her own when Sachiko pulls her away, but the champs counter again as this time Dash charges at her own partner and Sachiko ducks in the nick of time for Arisa to eat the kick to the face. The precision of all four competitors is unbelievable. Superkick from Sachiko to follow up but Arisa’s still standing. Sachiko hits the ropes … and runs right into a bridging Cutie Special for 2. Arisa with a series of knee strikes to the face to continue momentum as Tsukka and Dash tie each other up in the corner.

German attempt which Sachiko tries to roll forward to counter. Tsukka hits the sliding kick through Arisa legs to Sachiko’s face to seemingly set up the completion of the German (I so adore that spot), but as Arisa lifts Sachiko back up Dash comes out of nowhere to land a dropkick to Arisa’s back sending her forward and Sachiko rolls her up for 2.999. They were both struggling like mad during that cover and the audience erupted for the kickout as that was totally buyable as the finish.

Sachiko just waylays Arisa with a trio of superkicks to the face as the latter tries to stand, then follows with a German suplex with a bride for 2. Arisa’s suffering a lot at the hands of one of her own signature moves this match. Dash in and the champs go for an assisted Shiranui, but Tsukka dropkicks Sachiko as she tries to boost Dash and Arisa uses the opportunity to hit a release German on Dash that sends her rolling out of the ring. Tsukka with an enzugiri on Sachiko followed by a FLURRY of forearms by Arisa. Sachiko ducks the big one, but Arisa spins around and nails it anyway for a close 2.

Sachiko struggles to her feet and tries to create some distance between her and Arisa, but she stumbles towards the corner and Tsukka’s waiting to scramble up the ropes and hit the Venus Shoot, which knocks Sachiko back into a picture perfect bridging German by Arisa. 1, 2, 3 and new champs.

 

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Just a phenomenal match from start to finish by four masters of the craft. It kept going back and forth in glorious and captivating fashion. In addition to feeling incredibly lucky to have seen this live in general, it was privilege to see Sachiko wrestle before her retirement shortly after this match.

I wrote the following about it live, at I totally feel the same on the rewatch: “They threw everything they could at each other for fifteen action packed minutes, including a variety of innovative and impressive double teams. This was exactly the fantastically worked, logical, and wowing spectacle I wanted, ending in a huge title change to boot.”

Japan Trip 2015: Top 5 Matches (Live)

I was lucky enough to spend two and a half weeks in Tokyo to close out 2015 / start 2016, during which I saw 17 shows from 8 promotions with 84 matches featuring 144 wrestlers. The vast majority of it was extremely good, so it was VERY difficult to cull down to 5 or so matches. There are a lot of worthy wrestlers and matches that won’t be mentioned here.

Match reviews copied from my show specific blogs when possible.

Honorable mentions:

Paksa and Riho vs Emi Sakura and Masa Takanashi

This was another great main event in a series of them from Gatoh Move. What helped set this one apart is that it was at their Ichigaya location. I’m incredibly impressed with what they can accomplish wrestling-wise in such a small space with no ring. This held its own with some of the best matches I saw my entire trip.

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Miyako Matsumoto and Risa Sera vs Tsukasa Fujimoto and Maya Yuhiki

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This match was scheduled to be Miyako Matsumoto and Tsukasa Fujimoto vs Azure Revolution (Risa Sera and Maya Yukihi). I was looking forward to seeing two of my favorites team against an established duo, but it wasn’t to be (and I have no complaints about how things turned out). As the match started Miyako got the mic and apparently had some complaints about teaming with Tsukka. She grabbed Risa and rebooked the match herself through force of will and it became Miyako Matsumoto and Risa Sera vs Tsukasa Fujimoto and Maya Yukihi. Classic Miyako and it led to a ton of amusing moments. Tsukasa’s face when Miyako offered her the traditional pre-match handshake after ditching her was priceless. Tsukka’s incredible in every aspect of pro-wrestling and it was a treat to see her so many times during my trip.

There was an ongoing stipulation where the ring announcer would state a letter, and pinfalls could only be attempted after a move starting with it. One of the highlights of it was Tsukasa and Maya pulling out Miyako’s own Mama Mia on her, then an irate Miyako retaliating with Super Mama Mia once the letter changed. Miyako was easily one of the most entertaining parts of my trip, as she knows exactly how to work her gimmick for maximum effect and amusement. Her running laps around the ring in excitement as a victory celebration (with Tsukasa trying to trip her on each pass until successful) was magnificent.

 

Top 5:

 

5. Stardom Title: Meiko Satomura (c) vs Io Shirai

This was fantastic, with highlights that included Io performing an INSANE moonsault off of a staircase overhang, and of course the end which saw Stardom’s biggest star capturing their main title from an outsider.

 

4. REINA World Women’s Title Match between Tsukasa Fujimoto (c) and Maki Narumiya

This was originally advertised as the main event of its show, and honestly should have been. Even the ring announcer seemed to be going off old notes, as it was announced as the main instead of the semi-final. Tsukasa Fujimoto is incredible, and easily one of my favorite wrestlers in the world. She can do comedy, but is at her best when going all out in no-nonsense competitive wrestling.

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Thankfully that’s what we got here, as she and Maki went to war for the REINA title (after some early mind game attempts by the challenger). This was my first (and likely only) time seeing Narumiya, who definitely impressed. She kept up with Fujimoto brilliantly and it’s a shame she’ll be retiring soon.

 

3. Arisa Nakajima vs Kayoko Haruyama

Simply phenomenal. They beat the high holy hell out of each other, with forearm shots that thundered through the crowd. Haruyama’s guillotine leg drop from the top rope with Arisa standing on the second is one of the most brutal looking moves I’ve seen, and I was totally marking out for every German suplex variation they threw at each other. Was extremely lucky to have seen a few of Haruyama’s last matches, and Arisa was everything I’d heard and more.

 

 

1 (tie). JWP Tag Title Match: Jumonji Sisters (c) (Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko) vs Best Friends (Tsukasa Fujimoto and Arisa Nakajima)

This was perhaps the most anticipated match of my trip, and it did not disappoint.

I’d only seen the Jumonjis and Arisa once before, but that was enough to know how good they are and what they’re capable of. As I’ve mentioned incessantly, Tsukasa Fujimoto is one of the most consistently incredible wrestlers on the planet. Put the four of them together and you get magic.

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They threw everything they could at each other for fifteen action packed minutes, including a variety of innovative and impressive double teams. This was exactly the fantastically worked, logical, and wowing spectacle I wanted, ending in a huge title change to boot. Would have easily been alone on top as my favorite match of the trip, if not for Best Friends tearing it up in another title match on a later show.

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1 (tie). Ice Ribbon Tag Title Match: Best Friends (c) (Tsukasa Fujimoto and Arisa Nakajima) vs Avid Rival (Misaki Ohata and Ryo Mizunami)

In addition to my adoration of Best Friends I am likewise a huge fan of Misaki Ohata, so was VERY excited for this tag title match at Ribbonmania.  It was as excellent as expected, and is neck and neck with Best Friends vs Jumonji Sisters as my favorite match of my trip.

 

 

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I  was blessed to have such a great opportunity to visit Japan and see so much phenomenal wrestling. I hope you’ve enjoyed my look at the best of the best.

Gatoh Move 12/30/15 and 1/1/16 Live Thoughts

December 30, 2015 and January 1, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan

Gatoh Move’s Ichigaya shows are unlike anything I’ve seen before, and a lot of fun. I highly recommend taking advantage of any chance you get to attend one.

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The Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring. The crowd is effectively the out of bounds marker and the wrestlers will often use the windowsill to jump off of. It’s a unique format and a great atmosphere. The quality of matches they are able to perform in this environment speaks volumes on the talent of all involved.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken during the roundtable discussion afterward (during which they hand out tea for everyone).

I was outside the venue looking in through one of the large windows for both shows I attended here, but it was still a good view and a lot of fun.

The 12/30 show opened with Daichi Kazato vs Paksa. It was a solid contest that served as a good example of how the matches were worked with no ring. Hard strikes and careful counter-grappling were the focus.

Next up was a 3-way match featuring “Kokutenshi” Jaki Numazawa vs Antonio Honda vs Sayaka Obihiro. This was a comedy match with specific rule and theme, which was explained ahead of time and helpful translated for us by Honda. There was a box of props off to the side. After every 2-count the winner got to make a joke using the props. Those that the audience applauded received a point. Most points after 15 minutes won. This was extremely absurd and silly, but done well and still entertaining.

The main event was Emi Sakura and Masa Takanashi vs. Kotori and Riho. Great match. They made excellent use of the venue, with whips into the wall between the windows, splashes from the windowsill, etc.

 

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They had some fun recognizing foreigners in the crowd and had Kotori practiced her English with a speech to us at the end of the roundtable portion.

To both open and close the show there’s a song (with dancing) performed by Emi, Riho, Kotori, and Obi. It’s a nice touch that adds to the fun feel of Gatoh Move.

 

SAKI vs Kotori opened the 1/1 show. This is pretty much as good a 7 minute match as you’ll ever see. I was unfamiliar with both wrestlers before my trip but thankfully saw each several times during and they’re both fantastic. They did an amazing job within the constraints of time and venue.

The second match was again comedy based and again involved Antonio Honda and Sayaka Obihiro. This time after a 2-count the winner would essentially play charades to try to get guest judge SAKI to guess a phrase/person/etc from a pre-written batch of them. Honda was once again incredibly kind and helpful to us foreign fans by quickly writing an English translation for us before each attempt. I liked this a little more than the other one. Amusing stuff. This isn’t the type of match I want to see all over cards, but used sparingly and done well (like it was here) comedy matches can be a lot of fun and provide a nice change of pace.

Paksa and Riho vs Emi Sakura and Masa Takanashi was another great main event. I’ll say again how impressed I am with what can be accomplished wrestling-wise in such a small space with no ring. This held its own with some of the best matches I saw my entire trip.

After both shows was an opportunity to buy merchandise and polaroids with the core roster. There was also a special surprise mini-celebration for Antonio Honda’s birthday after the 1/1 show.

To cap things off, for New Year’s there was a signboard passed around during the roundtable that the whole roster signed, then it was given away to the winner of an audience-wide game of rock, paper, scissors. I was lucky enough to win this awesome souvenir (which Emi Sakura added my name to afterwards). 🙂

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I can’t say enough about how unique and fun Gatoh Move’s shows at this venue were. Definitely a highlight of my time in Japan.

JWP 12/27/15 Live Thoughts

December 27, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan

My second (and final) JWP show of the trip was their annual year end show Climax. It was at Korakuen Hall (still surreal to me to actually be there) and seemed to draw a crowd similar in size to the Stardom event. The big lures of the card were Kayoko Haruyama’s retirement and a huge tag title match between the Jumonji Sisters (c) and Best Friends.

 

Ray came out at the beginning to announce she would not be competing on the show due to injury. Shame. She’s a great wrestler, and I hope she recovers soon. The show opened with a pair of decent matches in KAZUKI, Leon and Megumi Yabushita vs Rabbit Miyu, Raideen Hagane and Yako Fujigasaki and Hanako Nakamori vs Kyoko Kimura.

The matches relating to Kayoko Haruyama‘s retirement began as she and Tsubasa Kuragaki faced Command Bolshoi and Kaori Yoneyama. This was an intense, competitive tag match and a suitable penultimate appearance for Haruyama. I was extremely lucky to catch the last four matches of her career during my trip.

The Haruyama Battle Royal was a perfect balance of tribute, competetion, and comedy. All the competitors were dressed as Haruyama, and she’s had enough different looks over time that there was a lot of variety in the costumes. My favorite was worn by someone who is also one of my favorite wrestlers, Aoi Kizuki.

Everyone was clearly having a lot of fun and there were numerous clever spots that took advantage of both the format and the wrestler they were paying tribute to. Several dogpile pins and Misaki Ohata taking out a towel to make a soft landing for her attempt at Haruyama’s trademark legdrop were among the highlights. Rabbit Miu won with a fantastic counter or an attempted slingshot into the ring from the apron by Leon where Rabbit simply shoved Leon mid-move to send her flying to the floor. This was tremendously fun.

The most anticipated match of  my trip was next, and the tag title match between the Jumonji Sisters (DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko) (c) and Best Friends (Arisa Nakajima and Tsukasa Fujimoto) did not disappoint.

I’d only seen the Jumonjis and Arisa once before, but that was enough to know how good they are and what they’re capable of. As I’ve mentioned several times in recent blogs, Tsukasa Fujimoto is one of the most consistently incredible wrestlers on the planet. Put the four of them together and you get magic.

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They threw everything they could at each other for fifteen action packed minutes, including a variety of innovative and impressive double teams. This was exactly the fantastically worked, logical, and wowing spectacle I wanted, ending in a huge title change to boot. Easily one of the top five matches I saw, if not the best.

Earlier partners faced off in the main event of Kayoko Haruyama vs Tsubasa Kuragaki. Hard hitting contest that was a suitable send off for Haruyama and a great way to end the show.

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JWP Climax 2015 was one of the best shows of my trip, with a great undercard that made made good use of the Haruyama tribute matches and a pair of fantastic matches on top.

 

Gatoh Move 12/22/15 and JWP 12/23/15 Live Thoughts

December 22 and 23, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan

I continued to have a nice variety of wrestling shows during my Japan trip as I checked out two more promotions I hadn’t previously seen (with more to come).

Gatoh Move is the first promotion I’ve been to with some emphasis on other entertainment as part of the wrestling show. It opened with three song and dance numbers. Two were performed by a foursome of various wrestlers consisting of founder Emi Sakura and three of the younger member of the roster. The last was by the tag-team Buribato (SAKI and MIZUKI), who would face Emi Sakura and Nanae Takahashi in the main event. It was interesting way to start out, and was reasonably entertaining.

The opening match was a mixed tag pitting Hiroyo Matsumoto and Cho-un Shiryu vs Sayaka Obihiro and Antonio Honda. This was as well worked a mixed tag as I’ve ever seen. When a story is being told and they play to the strengths of the format these can be excellent. Having four wrestlers in there with distinct personalities and including a great powerhouse like Matsumoto also helps. Fun start.

The midcard men’s matches were a good mix of styles, from a MMA type contest to a comedy match to a straight up sprint (which was excellent outside of some annoying ignoring of leg work). Most of it wasn’t quite on par with the women’s matches, but was a decent way to fill out the show. I will note that Brother YASSHI has incredible charisma. He was amazing on the mic even without me understanding a word of it.

Makoto and Riho vs Hirkaru Shida and Kotori was a solid tag team contest with a lot of interesting and impressive exchanges. It was great to see Shida wrestle again after a couple of years. Was my first time seeing the younger wrestlers in this match. Both showed a lot, particularly Riho.

The IWA Triple Crown title match between DJ Nira and Kaori Yoneyama was VERY strange, but highly amusing somehow. After appearing normal in the last match, Riho came out bound in the title belts as Nira’s second, acting subservient and getting up on the apron and repeating phrases in monotone to distract Yoneyama whenever she gained control. Nira’s offense consisted of lunging double punches, which missed as often as they worked. Somehow the comedy did come together and Yoneyama’s perseverence and eventual victory made this odd spectacle entertaining.

The main event featured Emi Sakura and Nanae Takahashi vs Buribato (SAKI and MIZUKI). Looked like a mismatch initially, but the younger duo quickly established themselves as a viable threat and this was a spectacular main event. Nearly twenty full minutes of excellent back and forth tag team wrestling.

The show ended with more singing and dancing from the same group that started the show, and the wrestlers made their way around the crowd shaking hands and thanking us for coming. Nice touch and this was a great, fun show overall.

 

 

The next day I saw JWP in the same venue. It’s a perfect place for wrestling shows with good lighting and a decent setup for seating.

After a press conference type intro that hyped the huge upcoming tag title match at JWP’s Korakuen show, Commando Boishoi faced KAZUKI. I was honestly expecting comedy from Boishoi given her attire, but in fact she’s a fantastic no-nonsense wrestler (and did an amazing mini-demo with nun-chucks as part of her entrance). Strong opener.

Leon and Meiko Tanaka vs Hanako Nakamori and Makoto was a great little tag match. Nice chemistry from both teams. I’ve seen Meiko a couple of times now and she’s very impressive for her age and experience.I have a feeling she’s just going to keep getting better and better. Her offense was a perfect fit with that of veteran Leon. I liked the pairing of Hanako and Makoto, and hope they team again.

I’d heard a lot about the Jumonji Sisters (DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko), and they certainly didn’t disappoint against Raideen Hagane and Yako Fujigasaki. JWP’s tag champs are incredible, and I am beyond excited to see them against two of my favorites in team Best Friends at JWP Climax. Their opponents here looked good too, playing to their strengths and making the most of Raideen’s size for fun spots.

Rabbit Miu vs Tsukasa Fujimoto was next. Miu is one of the favorites of a friend of mine, so even though she was yet another wrestler I hadn’t seen previously to this I knew a fair bit about her. She looked extremely good here and totally kept up with (as I’ve mentioned a time or ten) one of the best in the world. Miu has great instincts and is able to much more in the ring than you’d guess by her size. Excellent semi-main.

The main event of Arisa Nakajima vs Kayoko Haruyama was phenomenal, and the best match I’d seen on my trip so far. They beat the high holy hell out of each other, with forearm shots that thundered through the crowd. Haruyama’s guillotine leg drop from the top rope with Arisa standing on the second is one of the most brutal looking moves I’ve seen, and I was totally marking out for every German suplex variation they threw at each other. Lucky to be seeing a couple of Haruyama’s last matches, and Arisa is everything I’ve heard and more.

So these were two more awesome shows on my trip. 🙂 The JWP was the best yet, with five top notch matches on a card that just got better and better as it went. It’s been really cool that my first several shows have been all different promotions, as the contrast is really interesting.