October Round Up Part III
My time has been somewhat short this month so I’ve opted to chuck everything I’ve not seen into one big old round up column. Various recommended matches that have slipped by me in the past 30 days or so.
By the way, I’m aware it’s now November but I’ve been busy.
We start with Peter Pan, DDT’s biggest (and longest) show of the year. I saw some of this live but got up too late to catch a couple of matches I was really eager to see so we’re heading back to capture those.
October 21 2018
Meiko Satomura & Cassandra Miyagi vs. Maki Ito & Saki Aki
If you’re on the fence about Saki, just look at Cassandra Miyagi. Two/three years ago she was a weird uncoordinated beanpole of a wrestler and now she’s fucking great. Hope is there. Of course Saki is now in her thirties and has been wrestling pretty regularly for five years. The big story here is Maki getting all fired up opposite Meiko after comments made before the show. Meiko stating that Ito may not be technically great but she has the personality to be a star. Maki getting very emotional on hearing this. Now she’s in the ring with Meiko getting the fuck kicked out of her.
The crux of the match is Maki firing up but continually eating more strikes until an STF puts her away. This was a beautiful little story of an up and coming wrestler trying to hang with Satomura and being put in her place. Maki is a big prospect and Meiko recognises that. Their interactions before and after the match were lovely.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Super Sasadango Machine vs. Andreza Giant Panda
Andreza is a wrestling phenomenon. An actual giant live panda, famous for devastating shoot headbutts. SSM has a few bright ideas tactically. First is bailing out of the ring, seeing as Andreza cannot get through the ropes. Next is attacking the enormous opponent with a crutch. Surely that’s illegal! With SSM defeated we’re introduced to Super Giant Panda Machine! Even by DDT’s standards this is a fucking weird match. Andreza wins with shoot headbutt.
Final Rating: Wrestling!
MAO vs. Sanshiro Takagi
While training for this show MAO was hitting the pads with Mike Bailey and accidentally threw it into the distance. Which resulted in him gaining a big bag of fans and three legendary powered hammers.
Takagi, the boss, is 48 years old. MAO is only 21. MAO is also one of the best prospects in DDT and has been for a couple of years. This was the match I was most mad about missing live. Oversleeping by a few hours.
This match is a weapon rumble so you get the Royal Rumble timer but when the time expires a new weapon is brought to the ring! The first weapon is a chest of drawers. That sets the tone. This is DDT after all. After MAO’s big bag of cans is introduced the entire mat is covered in crap.
And then Shinsuke Nakamura’s music kicks in and it’s Chinsuke! MAO does a good job of integrating himself into a chaotic DDT match. It’s not easy to fit in with all the goofy shit but he comes across as more important to the company for doing so. We get a run of weird and wonderful shit including Andreza, who reappears to support Takagi but as a wild animal shoot headbutts both men. Andreza collapses leading to this emotional display of support from the boss.
After the death of a beloved character there’s only one way to conclude matters; a 450 Splash onto the chest of draws with added storage boxes. The ring is a mess but MAO stands tall. Victorious in typical DDT fashion! He couldn’t celebrate much because one of the weapons used during the match was Takagi putting MAO’s phone number up on the big screen!
Final Rating: Wrestling!
I was going to watch Cody vs. Aldis from the NWA 70 show but honestly the first match sucked and my need to watch an NWA show in 2018 is practically zero. I’m looking at the card and how did they get so many bad wrestlers on the same show in 2018? It should be practically impossible.
October 14 2018
Off to Sendai Girls, Meiko Satomura’s promotion, to check out their “Big Show in Sendai”. Two British wrestlers were out on this card so I’m interested to see how they did.
Millie McKenzie & Rhia O’Reilly vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto & DASH Chisako
This is Millie’s first time in Japan and they enjoyed her antics out there so I’m sure she’ll be back. Unless I missed something this is Rhia’s first time in Japan too. She’s more of a surprise although the good relationship between EVE and joshi promotions has helped her reputation. Sendai scooped the likes of Stardom to get their hands on Millie but I don’t think promotions were queuing up to book Rhia. She wrestles monster heel here and picks on DASH, who’s under five feet tall. The match leans on heat a little too much for my liking but I’m sure Millie will get another chance to show off. Her back and forth stuff with DASH is really good but she didn’t get a chance to work Hiroyo at all. Millie, being the junior, takes the pin and we get out of here in ten minutes.
Final Rating: ***
Meiko Satomura & Aja Kong vs. Mika Iwata & Hana Kimura
I was going to skip over this but I kinda love everyone in the match so I’m here. Especially Aja, who I basically had written off only for her to have an absolute banger with Shida a month ago. If you’re quite casual in following joshi you might not be familiar with Mika Iwata and that’s a shame because she’s fucking great. The opening exchanges with Meiko show this. Dreadlocks Hana plays mega-face here and gets mangled by Aja for it. Iwata pops me by doing Satomura sell spots on Aja’s offence. Obviously not as well because she doesn’t have abs of steel but to a decent degree. The Iwata/Kimura team do a fine job of fighting from underneath and I keep seeing Aja used effectively as a monster recently. Like she’s had her fire reignited by plucky young girls looking to show off their selling. The match dynamic has a pleasant hungry youngsters versus established stars vibe to it. Iwata takes it to Meiko but gets planted with the Death Valley Driver and we get to hear Meiko’s music again. Great little match.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Sendai Girls World Championship
Chihiro Hashimoto (c) vs. Cassandra Miyagi
This title has been through some rough times thanks to the Ayako Hamada drug debacle. Chi-Hash is rebuilding it with her fourth reign.
Miyagi makes a lot of sense as a challenger as she’s one of the best products of the Sendai school and she’s never won the title. It’s a Big Strong Girl versus an absolute nutcase. The match has a tidy set up with powerhouse Chi-Hash against nutter Miyagi. Cassandra even takes insane bumps to match her insane character. The bump she takes on the apron in this is sick. Even her gear is crazy. It has one leg and straps in weird places. After she’s used poison mist she looks even more insane. Red drool dripping from her lips. Hashimoto gets all fired up by Cassandra’s tactics and they do a good job of convincing me of a genuine clash of personalities. Miyagi’s off-the-wall Jokerette versus Hashimoto’s meat and potatoes. Two very different approaches to pro wrestling. Miyagi’s dropkicks are great in this match. A major highlight and a contrast to Hashimoto purer suplex based offence. Cassandra spends large chunks dominating the match before Chihiro fights from underneath and levels her with big power moves. The German suplex finishes. This was a lovely clash of styles. Hashimoto the pure as driven snow babyface champ defending against Cassandra’s wicked witch. Good stuff.
Final Rating: ****
October 23 2018
World of Stardom Championship
Kagetsu (c) vs. Hana Kimura
Hana left Oedo Tai, turning her back on Kagetsu in the process because she wants this title and the only way to get it is over Kagetsu’s body.
This match is no DQ, no count out and interference is allowed. These were Hana’s requested stipulations. “You blocked me on Facebook, now you are going to die” is a mood. It’s a little weird seeing Hana in Stardom wearing bright colours given her history in Oedo Tai. We knew it was coming but seeing it is odd. She’s not wearing the white Wrestle-1 gear either, instead opting for rainbow fur boots and green and yellow gear. I appreciate Hana switching her gear to suit a new character. The no DQ rule doesn’t benefit her though and Oedo Tai have a numbers advantage.
The match has a hanging and unprotected chair shots like they prepped for it by watching ECW matches from 1993. As I type that they chuck a load of chairs into the ring. The match is totally weird. The outside interference is all over the place and changes to suit the match rather than applying any logic to it. The match is far better off when it relies on Hana kicking Kagetsu in the face to show her frustration at their relationship over the past few years. Or trying to remove her shoulder from the socket. Kagetsu ends up choking Hana out and the ref has to stop it because Kimura isn’t responding. This whole thing felt flat and I don’t like matches with a mass of interference. I’d rather they’d had a straight up match first, even if it had a screwy ending, to get to a no DQ/loads of interference match.
Final Rating: **3/4
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Momo Watanabe (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani
Mayu is in danger of overlooking Momo here, focusing in on the red belt before she’s even entered the ring to face Momo for the white belt. Increasingly Mayu is Stardom’s ‘go-to’ when things go wrong but nothing is wrong with Momo and she’s done a fine job of establishing herself as the best this company has to offer. Momo is extremely aggressive, jumping on Mayu whenever she’s given an inch and treating the challenger with the kind of contempt Mayu treated her with in the pre-show promos.
Chat shit, get banged.
The atmosphere rapidly becomes tetchy with both laying in irritable strikes. This could be a blood feud given time to build. Mayu clearly doesn’t respect Momo despite her running around with the big belt. Then she pulls out the Tanahashi approach of dismantling the leg to show technical superiority. Momo responds by hitting a move on the apron. Mayu assuming the role of veteran against the new wave of apron spots. I’d rather the match stayed tetchy as that’s when it really shines. Instead they head into a bunch of Indie high spots when the character driven match is right there.
Anyway, they then segue into a third stage which is between the two. Lots of surly strikes but in the guise of an Indie superfight. The best of both worlds. Given how harsh some of them look it’s probably the best part of the match. I think both of are guilty of overselling a bit but it allows the crowd to breathe in the spectacle. The kickouts get increasingly tired looking, as part of the selling, but Momo persists with a wrist-clutch half and half suplex, rolling out of one kick out into another for the pin. Now Momo has bested Shirai and Iwatani in the same year and retains the belt in the process. Plus she won the Cinderella tournament. She’s Stardom’s number one right now.
Final Rating: ****1/4
October 30 2018
Takashi Sugiura vs. Go Shiozaki
These two had a banger earlier in the year. This hasn’t got so much on the line as it’s not for Sugiura’s GHC title but rather the night one main event of the Global League. The first match was stiff as fuck. This wastes no time in following in those brutal footsteps. Less than a minute into the match Sugiura’s chest is beet red from chops. They quickly calm down but for a moment there I thought we were getting an all-out war. It helps that this is Global League rather than a GHC title defence so instead of grinding away at the match for 15 minutes before anything happens the entire thing is 16 minutes long. It doesn’t have that epic intensity that you get with GHC title matches but instead it’s a fun sprint with less violent versions of moves being broken out. But also a match where Sugiura hits a gutwrench suplex off the apron to the floor. Sugiura is magnificent here, at one point pummelling Go to death in the corner with forearms. Effectively putting Shiozaki in his place; never going to beat him, never going to be the GHC champion while he still breathes. There’s no attempted pins. He just beats the shit out Go with forearm after forearm, leaving him in a vegetative state. If it was boxing it would be over but it’s not and Shiozaki has one big lariat in the tank! Sugiura counts lights and Go has finally managed to beat Sugiura…when it didn’t matter. This was like a condensed GHC title match and I have to say, it was very refreshing.
Final Rating: ****
Kohei Sato vs. Kenoh
This is from earlier in the same show and came recommended. These are two guys who love to kick. There are a few wrestlers who have a reputation for kicking a lot (Ridgeway, Speedball) but these two have kicks as their primary weapons so naturally the match starts with a lot of kicks. Until they come up even and switch to another strike; the big forearms and this is where Kenoh comes unstuck because he’s a Rottweiler and Sato is a Dire Wolf. He is literally the Big Dog.
We see this sight quite often! Kenoh is a scrapper and keeps coming back for more. He doesn’t know when he’s beaten and outclassed and Sato just dismantles the poor bastard. They give Kenoh a control period and I’d rather they didn’t. I find that a murderous victory in a big match is better than going 50-50 because it’s more interesting and creates more possibilities for a re-match. Plus this is all strike duels and I can’t get past the size difference. Something that has hurt my appreciate of Kenoh matches in NOAH since he turned heavy. Kenoh is better positioned as a survivor, taking moves and coming back all fired up. This is what they go for at the finish until the German suplex puts him down and Sato wins. The shoot headbutt right before the finish leaves Kenoh a bloody mess and I was a bit uncomfortable about that but the entire match was a war. You should definitely see this.
Final Rating: ****1/4
October 25 2018
Saikyo Tag League Final
Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani) vs. Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue
Nakanoue has to be in the running for Most Improved this year. Hama is ideal in tags where his lack of cardio isn’t exposed. He can come in, do his shit and get out. He can leave the bulk of the in-ring to Nakanoue who can go and had a terrific couple of matches with Daichi earlier in the year so they pick up where they left off. Hama is a fantastic hot tag in this. The way he smashes Daichi off the apron is great. Just charging over and sending the former champ flying into the rail. Okami get nicely creative on double teams to take the big man down. The lariat/legsweep is really well done. The overall pacing is a touch sluggish but it picks up when the match breaks down. Hama busting out the Thesz Press among his usual splashes is a major highlight. For him it’s a finisher!
The actual finish is Hama, being ridden by Nakanoue, coming off the ropes onto Daichi. He’s squished and Team Hama picks up the tag titles.
Final Rating: ***1/2
October 7 2018
David Starr vs. MK McKinnan
This is from the Rev Pro Cockpit #33 show. MK has gone full time and Rev Pro, eager for talent, have started booking him regularly.
This match starts out strangely old fashioned. From Starr arguing with fans to their choice of spots to Andy Q insisting that Rev Pro pay a refereeing committee who provide them with referees. It feels like World of Sport. Like the actual World of Sport from the 70s. Then it suddenly kicks up a gear with MK throwing strikes and them teasing dives before MK hits a big cannonball through the ropes. The Cockpit is a weird building because you can hear people speak in the crowd but the atmosphere doesn’t seem to involve the usual chanting because the venue is so tiny. They have a terrific stretch too with tremendous near falls. Starr basically delivering a series of kill shots only for MK to kick-out and come back with a sneaky roll up. It’s probably the best singles match for MK since he came back from injury. It might go on a bit long, especially when they’re both down striking at each other, but the pacing has been so good it’s not a problem. I’m not entirely convinced they should go into the no selling either, given their size but I suppose that’s relative as they’re both cruisers.
It gets fucking epic towards the finish with MK again kicking out when it seems completely over and Starr finishes with the Tomorrow Driver. This wasn’t perfect by any means but a great contest. MK’s best since coming back from injury and Starr continues to have an excellent 2018.
Final Rating: ****
October 27 2018
Calamari Thatch Kings vs. WALTER & Ilja Dragunov
This match is happening because WALTER is a gigantic baby and doesn’t want Tim to have other friends. But hey, I applaud wXw for putting these four gentlemen in the ring in any capacity so I’m here for it. When you’ve got a tag match and the worst wrestler in it is Chris fucking Brookes, arguably the best tag wrestler in the world, you’re onto a winner. Given the new alliances it feels genuinely fresh too, although there’s an issue with them not having established sequences to play off and instead having to tread fresh tracks. WALTER vs. Tim is a prime example and it immediately reminds me of the Progress match from January. Ilja vs. Tim is something wXw could explore at length if they wanted to. WALTER and Brookes was a tremendous match in Rev Pro so you’re onto a winner across the board here. The match is odd though as Brookes and Ilja almost take a back seat because Ringkampf vs. Ringkampf is that much more interesting. WALTER and Thatcher having a friendly rivalry is the best. I don’t want them to turn on each other but I do want that big burly brawl. The match breaks down towards the end but the contest is clearly at its best when Tim is standing up to WALTER.
The finish is out of nowhere with Brookes walking into Torpedo Moscow with WALTER subduing Tim. He beat Thatcher…sort of. Another wonderful tag involving the Ringkampf boys. They’re great together, they’re great across the ring from each other. I love them dearly.
Final Rating: ****1/4
That’s all I have time for as I’m off to London for the weekend to watch Rev Pro Uprising and EVE’s SHE-1 tournament in Bethnal Green. Three nights in residence at the Dundee Arms.
If you’re short of stuff to watch this weekend I hope this gives you a few ideas. Wrestling is excellent at the moment and I find it hard to get through all my recommended matches. I have a backlog of stuff that I’m going to attempt to look over before the year is out. Lots of catch-up columns to come.