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Looking forward to him crowd funding a plane ticket for his mum to visit.

I'm beginning to think 'Good in Japan' might not be about the talent being the issue.

"King's Road" is like "Strong Style", in that it's more of a marketing gimmick than a defined style, but if I were to try and define it; King's Road was AJPW's house style under Baba, in the same

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Didn't even realise that NJPW had a European distributor. I know they do sell through the US at http://www.prowrestlingtees.com/newjapan, which I believe is the official merch

Same deal as NJPW Europe. Seems like they purchase blank shirts from wherever & just print the logos (presumably under license). The NJPW collar label & other fancy bits aren't necessarily part of the deal & on one of the shirts I got, the print was so weak, you could virtually see through it.

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Have any of you guys used this site to buy NJPW merch before?

 

http://www.njpweurope.com

 

£18 inc shipping for a Bullet Club t-shirt is something I'd happily pay if the site is reliable!

 

Cheers.

Yeah, hit & miss to some extent. The quality isn't as good as the authentic Japanese product, but less expensive, particularly in view of the import duty you're likely to pay on goods from outside of the EU. Some of the shirts are little more than cheap-ass Fruit Of The Loom affairs with the NJPW logo on the front & although I haven't made a study of it, the detail on the reverse, or lack of it in some instances doesn't always seem to match the Japanese product. Others are a bit more substantial. The service though was fine for me + NJPW shop isn't particularly geared to sales outside of Japan at present...time they sorted that out.

 

This reminded me of that cunt called Sam Bramley who's address is in Guernsey, and couldn't be arsed to do the right thing on a Bullet Club shirt purchase he screwed up on. He's on ebay and probably still claiming his merch comes direct from NJPW which is absolute fantasy in his tiny brain. The label on his picture wasn't the same when it arrived here, and he conveniently scribbled out the sizes to disguise. The thing looked like a flaming windsock!!! 

Edited by undercover elephant
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Not the best pictures, but it epitomizes the sort of thing I was talking about + the print on the 'official' one is chunky & raised, whereas the other is flat:

 

953fe1378996849.jpg 2dceb0378996860.jpg

 

92c5e3378996873.jpg 11df39378996886.jpg

 

...a bit like wearing a Carter watch..but I'd still do it.

Edited by KingofSports
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Is it safe to review Wrestle Kingdom yet, or am I playing with fire assuming that all the New Japan fans on the board that haven't had chance to watch it yet might be intelligent enough NOT to go onto  a wrestling forum and read a New Japan-specific thread before they do?

 

Or shall I give it another day, just in cases?

 

The Dome attendance is credited as 36,000 (no vacancy). Never did fully understand how that's fathomed, possibly based on configuration,

 

That's exactly what it's based on. "No vacancy" means they sold every seat they made available for purchase.

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Is it safe to review Wrestle Kingdom yet, or am I playing with fire assuming that all the New Japan fans on the board that haven't had chance to watch it yet might be intelligent enough NOT to go onto  a wrestling forum and read a New Japan-specific thread before they do?

 

Or shall I give it another day, just in cases?

 

The Dome attendance is credited as 36,000 (no vacancy). Never did fully understand how that's fathomed, possibly based on configuration,

 

That's exactly what it's based on. "No vacancy" means they sold every seat they made available for purchase.

Just a little surprised that given NJPW are doing so well at the moment, the attendance wasn't higher or more seating made available. None of my f'n business of course & I'm sure they know what they're doing. Haven't seen the show yet, but I assume the upper tiers were left largely vacant. It'd be nice to see a 63,000 again like they got back in '95, or thereabouts. NOAH pulled 58,000 in 2004 didn't they. When it is near capacity, the Dome properly goes off.

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Just a little surprised that given NJPW are doing so well at the moment, the attendance wasn't higher or more seating made available. None of my f'n business of course & I'm sure they know what they're doing. Haven't seen the show yet, but I assume the upper tiers were left largely vacant. It'd be nice to see a 63,000 again like they got back in '95, or thereabouts. NOAH pulled 58,000 in 2004 didn't they. When it is near capacity, the Dome properly goes off.

 

 

Noah did (or claimed) that ballpark attendance in 2004 for Departure and claimed about 60,000 for Destiny in 2005, but they were very different times and VERY different shows. At the time, Noah was arguably king in Japan and wrestling in general in Japan was a hell of a lot healthier than it is at the moment, and given some of the deals they struck, both shows were loaded to the point where you believed that a fuckton of native fans would flock to the Dome to see them. They genuinely were both one of a kind shows. If you look at the top matches of WK9 - Ishii/Makabe, Goto & Shibata v Anderson & Gallows, Styles v Naito, Nakamura/Ibushi and Tana/Okada, as good a lineup as it is, all of the matches are matches that we've seen before, mostly within the last six months. In comparison, both Departure and Destiny were cards that stood out as "you'll never see this again, son."

 

In comparison, Departure -

* Main evented with the long-awaited GHC title defence with the 16 month reign of Kenta Kobashi in jeopardy as he defended for the first (and only) time against former partner/long-time rival, Jun Akiyama, in a match essentially that had been anticipated from the moment Kobashi won the belt, and that many felt Akiyama was destined to win, and without doubt the most anticipated title match of the year.

* Featured the FIRST EVER in ring meeting of Puro deities Mitsuharu Misawa and Keiji Muto either side of a tag title match. The place went mental just the two of them getting in the ring, never mind doing anything.

* The "nasty outsider" and junior legend Jushin "Thunder" Liger defending NOAH'S junior belt against Kanemaru.

* IWGP tag champs (and renowned hard cases) Minoru Suzuki & Yoshihiro Takayama defending on Noah soil against Noah's own (renowned hard cases) Wild II.

* Marufuji & KENTA defending their junior belts - the opponents (Sugiura & Kendo Ka Shin) could have been fucking anyone at the time, you knew it was going to the balls.

 

.... so yeah, that was mind-blowing.

 

Destiny -

* Was main evented by a long-awaited match between the eternal rivals and two of the biggest names in the history of All Japan (which Noah seceded from) - Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. This match had not happened since the Noah split of 2000 and most in the business fully expected, due to the hatred that developed between the two (mostly down to Kawada's perception of Misawa's disloyalty to the Baba family name when the split happened) that the match was never going to take place again. When it WAS announced for Destiny, every wrestling fan in Japan saw their chance to see a match that they thought had no chance of happening one more time, and KNEW that it was going to be their last chance.

* Featured the first singles match ever between two utter titans of Puro (and hard hitting bulls) - Kenta Kobashi and Kensuke Sasaki. This match was a one-time-only wet dream for fans of Japanese wrestling.

* The intrigue of jumped up rat boy Yoshinari Ogawa against 55 year old freelance legend (and grumpy bastard) Genichiro Tenryu.

* The GHC champ Takeshi Rikio against some kid from New Japan called Tanahashi.

* KENTA's long-awaited one on one match against Kanemaru for the junior singles title (KENTA's birthright, practically) which we had been fluffed for by an astonishing match the month before in which KENTA and Marufuji had dropped the junior tag belts to Kanemaru & Sugiura.

* A BLINDING tag title match with MiSu & Marufuji v Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi.

 

...... it was one of the best shows I ever saw both for spectacle and for action. Staggering.

 

As for New Japan today, it's got to be softly-softly in terms of seeing how many tickets they can sell. They only reported 18,000 for the G1 final in August in the Seibu Dome which is a baseball stadium you can get 30,000 plus inside for baseball - and you know they'll always report more than what they actually do. There's a fine line between trying to capitalize on rejuvenated popularity and opening up too many blocks and having the world see your empty seats, making you look like tits.

Edited by air_raid
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On my lunch watched Ibushi/Nagata/Makabe VS Nakamura/Ishii/YOSHI-HASSI from yesterday.

 

Ishii wants to start and naturally he wants to start with Makabe so they rough each other up for a bit. Yoshi-Hassi tags himself in and he has a little go around with Nagata before they tag in Ibushi and Nakamura. Shinsuke takes the advantage and the heels beat up on Ibushi for a bit which makes sense because he looks like a skinny little whelp you can beat up. Ibushi escapes the reverse powerslam, hits a double stomp and tags in Makabe. He and Ishii beat each other up some more. Like Okada earlier, they're both strapped up selling WK9. They each hit a lariat then lariat each other to a stalemate. Yoshi-Hassi tags in and aborbs a Makabe lariat before Nagata comes back in. Chaos triple-team Nagata for a bit before everyone hits moves culminating in a Nagata exploder on Ishii. Nakamura misses the Boma Ye and Nagata hits him with a German then Ibushi cleans him out with a dive. Makabe nails Yoshi-Hassi and Ishii with a double clothesline and clears Ishii out of the ring. They tease Yoshi-Hassi beating Nagata - that's cute - then he lamps him with a running knee in the corner and a brainbuster for 2, then hits a backdrop/back suplex and holds on for 3. Somehow Nagata thinks that winning that Rumble and pinning Yoshi-Hassi means he deserves a shot at Nakamura. I disagree, but it doesn't mean I'm not wet at the thought of seeing the match.

 

It was what it was ; fun but forgettable "house show" level fayre whose main intent was to set up a big match for a bigger show. Mission accomplished.

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Just a little surprised that given NJPW are doing so well at the moment, the attendance wasn't higher or more seating made available. None of my f'n business of course & I'm sure they know what they're doing. Haven't seen the show yet, but I assume the upper tiers were left largely vacant. It'd be nice to see a 63,000 again like they got back in '95, or thereabouts. NOAH pulled 58,000 in 2004 didn't they. When it is near capacity, the Dome properly goes off.

 

 

As for New Japan today, it's got to be softly-softly in terms of seeing how many tickets they can sell. They only reported 18,000 for the G1 final in August in the Seibu Dome which is a baseball stadium you can get 30,000 plus inside for baseball - and you know they'll always report more than what they actually do. There's a fine line between trying to capitalize on rejuvenated popularity and opening up too many blocks and having the world see your empty seats, making you look like tits.

 

My interest & later love of Puro, mostly stems from mid-late 90s onwards. Originally through NJ on Eurosport, occasionally getting to see Japanese wrestlers in WWF/ WCW / ECW & very short clips of Cactus Jack in Japan. I vaguely remembered Muta in the NWA circa 1989, so that must have aired here at some point. I didn't have the internet until late 2001 & so missed the 'internet explosion', which would've started around '97 I guess. Shaun Gold @ violentjtapes was my 'mentor', in so much as he was the first trader I came across & he got me into the death match stuff, which was still pretty novel at that point & provided the first really substantial New Japan footage I'd seen. I remember watching all 4 volumes of the classic Muta collection back-back one afternnon on one 6 - 8 hour EP tape & thinking it was the best thing since ever. I then 'discovered'  Highspots & Wrestleholics (slambamjam) & followed my own path from there. So essentially by the time I had half a clue, Puro's popularity had already started to diminish & NOAH would have probably been the one shining beacon, though to be honest my interest in All Japan / NOAH wasn't that great at the time & it's fair to say I've always been Shin Nihon at heart. I guess Mutoh & Hashimoto jumping ship might have stirred-up some interest/business at the time, or pissed people off, whichever the case, but I've never really studied 'business', in terms of numbers or followed the latest gossip/news on forums etc...too busy building-up my back catalogue, which now stands at somewhere around 1100, with pretty much all bases covered & that's been a selective & informed process. So in the period I'm referring to Puro has been on an almost permanent decline. New Japan between 2002 & 2006/07 is a largely 'missing' & somewhat moribund period for me, seemingly consisting of; has-beens, never will-be's & a couple of promising rookies (Shinsuke & Tana). Additionally, I think the company was struggling for direction, with Inoki leaning more towards a more MMA-geared product. There must be a point to this shit..ah yes, Dome figures:

 

2004 – 53,000

2005 – 46,000

2006 – 53,000

2007 – 28,000

2008 – 27,000

2009 – 40,000

2010 – 41,500

2011 – 42,000

2012 – 43,000

2013 – 29,000

2014 – 35,000

2015 – 36,000

 

Particularly surprised by the '05 & '06 numbers. 2005 was a fucking appalling event, truly dreadful, with one exception Tana vs. Shinsuke. 2006 was better but not great. I don't understand the dip in 2013, because the product was hot & the recent numbers still fall short of what I perceive to be lesser shows. That said, I'm not Japanese & as you rightly say many of the competitors have faced each other on multiple occasions, so the matches aren't 'special' in that respect, albeit that they're arguably of a higher claibre.

 

On my blog, I've listed my recommended / highly recommended shows. Despite all the nostalgia for this or that in the 1990's; the Mutoh's, Hashimoto's, Chono's, Choshu's, feuds, massive attendances & pops only two 4/1 events (2001 & 2013 - still to view this year's) have made it in there [other non-4/1 shows did however make it, just to clarify]. When push comes to shove, the actual matches of late as opposed to; hype, hysteria or selective memory still stand-up very well by comparison. I'd use SummerSlam at Wembley as an analogy - great memories, but on the whole really not very good.

 

edit - watching the daylight matches in the Seibu Dome has to be one of the most disconcerting wrestling spectacles I've ever witnessed. Very odd & just wrong.

Edited by KingofSports
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I reckon I've left it long enough so here are my thoughts on Wrestle Kingdom 9. No blow-by-blow write-up, just what I thought of each match.

 

(1) reDRagon VS Time Splitters VS Forever Hooligans VS The Young Bucks

When this was announced I was kind of dreading it because even though the Bucks are a bit better than they used to be, I still hate them, and the last time I had seen reDRagon (especially O'Reilly) they were terrible indy wank. However I had gotten to see the champs live since and they have improved quite a bit, so it wasn't going to be quite as much of a mess as I first feared. I expected a ten minute sprint that would tell no story but quicken the pulse to start the show, and I guessed that the Bucks might win to trick the viewers into thinking that Bullet Club were in for a good night, knowing full well they were going to lose one or two big ones later. I thought there was a chance that reDRagon might win if the ROH association was destined to continue, but there was zero suspension of disbelief that the Hooligans or Splitters might because there's no fresh matches with either on top and no storyline reason for either to win. In the end the match was slightly longer than I expected at about 13 minutes and while it didn't truly outstay its welcome, I don't think it achieved much either, as it was just spot spot spot with pinfalls interrupted by the other contestants. The longer the match went without the champs hitting Chasing The Dragon, I started to suspect it might be the finish, and so it came to pass. I was fairly ambivalent to the result, but at least O'Reilly and Fish haven't had numerous straight tag matches with each of the other teams. Yet.

 

(2) TenKoji & Honma VS Bullet Club

Again, I assumed this might have been a cheap win for Bullet Club to build up their eventual toppling later, similar to how the nWo won undercard matches at Starrcade '97 before losing the World and United States titles and the match for control of Nitro. It was fun and frivolous, too short to really leave an impression, with a feelgood babyface victory. Yujiro is quality entertainment and dropping the pin won't harm him at all, and taking the pin was a good moment for Honma. Onwards, upwards.

 

(3) YaNoah VS Suzuki-gun

This was the first match where I actually got the result right, as for a throwaway undercard eight man featuring some (let's be honest) dispensable guys like Suzuki's lieutenants, it was unlikely that New Japan would let their guests get beaten, and plus, happy endings at WrestleMania Wrestle Kingdom, yay! I genuinely thought that TMDK might be showcased a little stronger as I think they might make good challengers for Goto & Shibata down the road, but there's no problem Marufuji taking the win, as Noah's champion and quite a few rungs above everyone else in the match. Again, fun but forgettable. I really wish I had the finances to buy 2000 copies of Yano's DVD.

 

(4) MiSu VS Sakuraba

This was what I expected, although given that I enjoy the work of both, I was slightly underwhelmed. I got it into my head Sakuraba would win, for the idiotic reason that he "needed it more" for which I hate myself as it's such a smarky way to think. It felt a little like they never really got out of second gear, although that may have been the time constraints. Maybe I shouldn't have had such high hopes as "worked shoot" never really gives you a great match.

 

(5) NEVER title : Ishii VS Makabe

This was a splendid battle of the bulls, every bit as good as their match on the utterly amazing penultimate day of the 2013 G1, which I was fortunate enough to attend. I assumed that Ishii would win due to New Japan's usually rigid even booking, but in hindsight Makabe winning gives the feud more legs as it will be great for Ishii to take the title back, if they go that way. The sight of the two beasts lariating each other to dust was great, but as soon as Makabe hit the King Kong knee drop, you knew it was over. The NEVER title is actually perfect for guys like Makabe, it's a reward for being constantly great without sitting him top of the card with the "New Four Corners Of Heaven" because let's be fair, he's not getting another run with the big belt but neither does he benefit from another run with Nakamura. Great match, without burning us out too much for the rest.

 

(6) IWGP Junior title : Taguchi VS Kenny Omega

I won't lie, I didn't get as into this as a lot of people seem to have. It's likely because I had almost no doubt that Kenny had been brought into Bullet Club with such fanfare because he was going to go over here. Plus, it opens up some fresh title matches. I love Omega as a heel, but I wasn't into the match. As solid as Taguchi is, I let him become so overshadowed by Devitt (my favourite wrestler) in Apollo 55 that watching him with the belt is a little like if Shawn had left the WWF in the middle of '93 and you're left with Marty as the Intercontinental champion. The finishing sequence was quite hot, the One-Winged Angel (cheers, PuroLove) finish really made me sit up, and I was pleased for Kenny who has been rewarded for many years of excellent performances with the premier title available to a junior heavy/cruiserweight in the business (in my eyes). Good, but not spectacular.

 

(7) IWGP tag title : Anderson & Gallows VS Goto & Shibata

I'm not sure why this was only assigned 9 minutes but unlike the earlier Suzuki/Saku match, I actually think this really benefited from being so short. They crammed a little of everyone's stuff in, but as soon as Shibata tagged in, it went truly wild. I had called the World Tag League setting up this match way back when the groups were announced but it didn't make the Super Best Friends' inevitable victory any less satisfying. This demolition job was precisely the feelgood match that it should have been. Once "The Machine Gun" was out of the ring, I adored the series of innovative double-team moves that Goto and Shibata pasted Gallows with, and I don't think there is a more satisfying finisher than the PK when you're as big a fan of Shibata (and Goto) as I am. Even watching the match alone, I still caught myself exclaiming "Fuck yeah!" when Shibata booted Gallows to seal the win. Maybe it was the year plus of storyline that took us from their brutal rivalry to their teaming to their crowning, but the emotional investment made this match one of the true highlights. Complete victory for Super Best Friends, complete triumph for New Japan. Long may they reign.

 

(8) Tetsuya Naito VS AJ Styles

I had this down as another of the big losses that I mentioned Bullet Club having earlier, as I had a weird feeling that they might fancy trying again with Naito soon and a big win over AJ would have set him up nicely for another go around with Okada, who I equally wrongly assumed was winning. Moreover, I had a little trepidation over the match as though Styles has been in excellent form the last twelve months and Naito is usually good value, both are capable of miscues and accidents so I worried we might get a disjointed effort rather than the superb dogfight you could get out of both men at their best. Thankfully I was wrong and the action was excellent. AJ's execution of his "Flying Squirrel" springboard forearm smash in particular was breathtaking and there were some really good sequences. The only thing I felt was slightly lacking was believable nearfalls, but it was still a great match. When Naito clambered up to the top rope, there will have been quite a few of us shaking our heads thinking "Oh Naito, what are you doing..." and sure enough he ate an inevitable super Styles Clash, executed without screw up, for a decisive pinfall. I don't mind the insertion of AJ as the next challenger for Tana in terms of the calibre of the match it will deliver, but since Tanahashi has beaten AJ every time they have wrestled on New Japan soil, I do wonder why I'm supposed to give Styles a chance of beating him this time. Oh well, doesn't detract from this match, which was very good indeed.

 

(9) Intercontinental title : Shinsuke Nakamura VS Kota Ibushi

There is so much I COULD say about this match, but I'll try not to overdo it. This was the match I looked forward to most, off the back of how good their match was in Osaka in the 2013 G1, which blew me away as the match of the night on a STUNNING card and for me was a real contender for match of the year. Nakamura is one of my favourite guys to watch as both wrestler and character and in Ibushi there's a guy he can make real magic with. Truth be told between his matches with Devitt, Minoru Suzuki and all manner of other shapes and styles, Ibushi might be capable of having a great match with anyone, never mind an alchemist the calibre of the champ. Nakamura as the I titleholder is fantastic as a barometer of just how good some of the midcard talent truly is, and Ibushi absolutely sparkles in the ring with him.

 

Without going over every spot, there were some amazing moments here. Ibushi executing the Boma Ye was a wonderful display of gall, Nakamura kicking out at one was a splendid callback to their first match, and Nakamura having to pull out the Landslide on his way to victory was a great bit of storytelling as he pulled practically every rabbit out of the hat he could in order to seal the win. Forgive the cut 'n' paste from the other thread, but even though I predicted that Nakamura would retain, they suspended my disbelief to the point where I believed Ibushi could beat him - and at points that he WOULD beat him - and though Shins'kay looked the boss by winning such a tough match, Ibushi too looked stronger in defeat, and that's a tough balance at times. Nakamura is both a living example that someone truly can be a top guy for years without holding the top title, and an example that your secondary title can be made to look a big deal if the right people hold or compete for it.

 

(10) IWGP Heavyweight Title : Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Kazuchika Okada

This match was basically the very definition of "main event" in my eyes, as indisputably the top two guys in essentially the only promotion I'm still passionate about on Earth fought for the top title in the main event of their biggest show of the year. The story here is painfully obvious ; as the guy that has beat Tanahashi several times and taken the strap from him twice, what you have with Okada is a guy proven to be on Tanahashi's level, and yet unless he beats him at a Wrestle Kingdom - and this was his second attempt - you know that he will not be considered "The Man." Realistically the fan vote that determined Tana/Nakamura for last year's main event instead of Okada/Naito was a clear message to New Japan of "Okada not there yet" and that will have hurt him, no doubt. Honestly, with the step back that Tana took last year and his advancing years, I was utterly convinced that they were ready to bite the bullet and finally give the heir apparent the biggest possible coronation. I was wrong.

 

Like all the best New Japan main events, this was genuinely exciting because while I had a prediction, the result was genuinely in doubt. Tanahashi's leg work to set up a potential Cloverleaf worked its way into the finish, which I really appreciated. The timing of several spots, especially the fighting over the tombstone (so often a lethal pre-cursor to the Rainmaker) and Okada's desperation dropkick (which is a thing of beauty) was excellent. I nearly bought the first Rainmaker as the finish and was even more shocked when Okada survived the High Fly Flow to the back - regular High Fly Flow combo that has ended so many of Tanahashi's defences. Ultimately, I sensed that Tana was just too strong and at the end there couldn't have been a more decisive finish than the three different High Fly Flow variants. The match was staggering, and even though personally I thought that Nakamura/Ibushi just pipped it for match of the night honours, there's seldom (if ever) been a match more deserving of being called a Wrestle Kingdom main event. It gripped, surprised and most importantly satisfied. Also pleasing was that the show closed with a development that could easily open the door for a new storyline with Okada leaving the Dome in floods of tears. The COMPLETE antithesis of how I thought his night would end!

 

So, in final thoughts... this was a stunning success. The undercard was almost superfluous, true, but once it got rolling, it delivered in spades. In Ishii/Makabe, Styles/Naito, Nakamura/Ibushi and the main event, the card boasted four outstanding matches and a couple of very good ones. It gave satisfying results, and delivered when it mattered most. I'd put it next to Invasion Attack '13, the penultimate night of the 2013 G1 and last year's Wrestle Kingdom as one of the best New Japan shows I've ever watched, and I think that's fairly high praise. I'm admittedly biased towards said G1 show (Ishii/Makabe, Ibushi/Suzuki, Naito/Nakamura, Tana/Okada) as I was there in person, but even then, I don't think it can touch WK9 for match quality and sheer adrenaline, even watching it severely sleep-deprived as I did. Highest of recommendations for anyone that loves Japanese wrestling.

 

Incidentally, I was sleep-deprived because I was so excited in anticipation of this show, and even though my expectations were through the roof, WK9 eclipsed them. I very much look forward to the day I ever again see a show that I enjoyed as much as this one.

Edited by air_raid
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Last time I watched NJPW was on that "Ring Warriors" show on Eurosport in the late nineties, but I'm absolutely hooked on this channel. A definate must buy for anybody sitting on the fence.

Edited by bAzTNM#1
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Today at lunch I revisted Shinsuke Nakamura VS Kazuchika Okada, G1 Climax 2014 final.

 

There isn't much I can say about the match quality as it's everything you would expect from, realistically, two of New Japan's best. I especially like Okada's being cautious as fuck in the early going because he doesn't want his head kicked in, and the moments where each knows the other well and comes up with counters for some of their trademarks. Okada reacting to Nakamura's cheeky resting his head on Okada's chest up against the ropes by giving him a DDT is very "Fuck you!" The closing stretch is hot as hell, Okada shocking by kicking out of the Bome Ye then avoiding the next one by giving Shins'kay a big dropkick (BOOM!) as he's running in. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Nakamura gives him a wicked knee to the head to neutralize him. A shade desperate, Nakamura goes for the Landslide but Okada counters with a backslide for 2 and holds onto the wrist so when Nakamura gets back to his feet, Okada wallops him with a short-clothesline not-quite-the-Rainmaker, picks him up then gives him a second, poses over the weakened Nakamura, then absolutely obliterates him, turning him "inside out" as they say, with a full, proper Rainmaker, for as decisive pin as you could ask for over his boss.

 

This match was awesome, and did a superb job making Okada basically look invincible. It's no wonder he came into Wrestle Kingdom so hot - when Shinsuke Nakamura on his best day can't beat you, you know you're on form. I wish I'd re-watched this before Sunday because it would have made me even more eager to see Okada step up for his big title shot. The guy is fantastic, and at 27 there is every chance he'll get better.

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