Riki Choshu Power Hall: Battle of Another Dimension
July 10 2018
RIKI CHOSHU…IS OLD!
TOKYO GURENTAI…STILL SUCK!
TAKESHI MORISHIMA…IS BACK!
SHOTARO ASHINO…IS A BIG STRONG BOI!
KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA…IS THE BEST HEEL IN WRESTLING!
JUN AKIYAMA…DOESN’T LIKE ANYONE!
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is the second Power Hall show this year with Choshu winding down his career. The other big news coming out of this show was the return of Takeshi Morishima after three years in retirement. Here’s the 411 from Tokyo Sports:
Takeshi Morishima returns to the ring! Morishima himself revealed in the news article that the reason he had to resign some 3 years ago was both physical and mental issues. So he was completely burned out and therefore could not compete at his retirement ceremony. After his contract with Pro Wrestling NOAH Expired at the end of 2015, Morishima worked in various professions, including bartending and security guard at concerts. Only last summer, when a promoter of a local wrestling promotion asked him if he wanted to start as a coach, his love for wrestling was rekindled. When he attended a show by All Japan Pro Wrestling a little later, he realized that he also wanted to return to the ring. He will celebrate his return on October 15, 2018, in a show he produced called “GENESIS – The Return Of Takeshi Morishima”, which will be held at the Korakuen Hall. Whether he joins Pro Wrestling NOAH after his return or will work as a freelancer is not yet known.
I’m running out of time ahead of G1 to clear the decks. Some shows are going to be swept aside no doubt. I just don’t have enough hours in the day to watch everything. Until its G1.
Before this show starts Tatsumi Fujinami comes out here to pay tribute to Vader following his death. Vader did his best work in Japan, bar the first few months in WCW.
Gota Ihashi vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Ihashi is back trying to prove himself after tagging with Choshu himself on the first Power Hall and being given a sound thrashing by his own partner. Now he’s been busted back to the opening match to fight veteran Fujiwara. The term “veteran” gets thrown around a lot but Fujiwara, age 69 (nice), definitely deserves it. The idea here is that Gota has to prove himself. I can only hope this is a long term angle where Gota gets progressively better until he’s Choshu’s go-to guy for booking. It’s clearly off to a slow start as Fujiwara tortures the poor bastard here.
Gota taps to the famous armbar and Fujiwara is gracious in victory, putting over Ihashi’s resilience. Although basically all he did was not submit for 7 minutes and then tapped out.
Final Rating: **
Minoru Tanaka, Mitsuhiro Yoshida & LEONA vs. RATEL’s (YO-HEY, HAYATA & Tadasuke)
Could Riki not afford Harada? Tadasuke has at least bleached his hair so he’s On Brand with the other two. I don’t know Yoshida at all. He has 22 matches on Cagematch over eight years and he’s apparently 39 years old. He’s not an MMA guy either. Minoru Tanaka is fascinating as always, keeping up with guys twenty years younger than him with ease. LEONA is Fujinami’s son, in case you didn’t know, and until last year was one of the biggest pieces of trash in wrestling. An embarrassment and beneficiary of nepotism in ways Erik Watts could only dream of. The good news is LEONA started to take wrestling seriously in 2017 and now he doesn’t stink. He’s not good or anything but at least he’s not an embarrassment to the Biz. His conditioning is poor, his bumps are mediocre, but his timing is far better and his technique is downright decent. Tanaka outwits Tadasuke for the pin and this was perfectly fine.
Final Rating: **3/4
Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto vs. Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi
Nothing says “I disagree with All Japan’s booking” more than booking four guys from AJPW in a tag and having it go against All Japan booking. But then Akiyama was also on this show so maybe it’s a cunning attempt from him to have Nomura get one over on Jake Lee in an outside setting. They were buddies in NEXTSTREAM until Jake Lee decided to leave and go after that group. Obviously Nomura is a little hot about that and he should be because while Lee was out injured Nomura was building a reputation as one of AJPW’s best up and coming wrestlers. Jake may be older but he’s not got the track record to point to, in order to say he’s better than Naoya. If you were feeling particularly feisty you could even argue that Aoyagi is better than Jake Lee. And he’s also in NEXTSTREAM so you know he’s miffed too. Then there’s Iwamoto, formally of DDT and HEAT-UP, who’s clearly a career junior while the others are destined for more important things. I kinda hope Lee/Nomura/Aoyagi are the backbone of AJPW storytelling for years to come and I hope they can all improve in the process. Anyway, this is really good although the lack of experience shows. Iwamoto tries to put Nomura away, which is plucky, but he’s overpowered by Nomura who gets the win. All Japan has a few guys worth watching but Nomura’s growth is among by favourite things in the promotion, behind whatever Kento is doing.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Tokyo Gurentai (FUJITA, MAZADA & NOSAWA Rongai) vs. Heisei Ishingun (Shiro Koshinaka, AKIRA & Akitoshi Saito)
There’s a nu-age punks vs. tradition mentality to this, although Tokyo Gurentai are all in their 40s now. This is how Choshu looks at the world!
They brawl all over the building to hide the fact that most of the wrestlers suck. When they make it into the ring the match is a mess of tropes that I don’t care for. Tokyo Gurentai are just awful. NOSAWA is actually the good one and I can’t stand him. The only good parts of the match are the crowd getting nostalgic for Koshinaka hip attacking bitches. That’s how it finishes too. I probably should have skipped this.
Final Rating: *1/4
There are definitely pros and cons to this. Morishima wasn’t good toward the end of his career. He was burned out, carrying a lot of injuries and was a shadow of his former self. This is the guy who worked some of the best matches in ROH history. He was NOAH’s ace, briefly. If he can find that fire again we’re in for a treat. If he comes back as the guy he was in his latter years there’s nothing to get excited about. If he’s truly found his love of pro wrestling again then this could be one of the biggest announcements of the year. His comeback match is on October 15. There’s another Power Hall taking place on December 28 this year. Is it Choshu’s retirement show?
Hideyoshi Kamitani & Takuya Nomura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya
Big Japan vs. NOAH. Nomura is emerging as one of the finest young wrestlers in a generation. Nakajima is finally realising his potential since a recent heel turn.
On paper this is the best match on the show as it’s not been polluted by nostalgia and is just four talented young men from two different promotions going head to head. Nakajima is a complete prick here, patting Nomura on the head and showing no respect at all. When he faces Kamitani it’s a different story as Kamitani comes after him and they run a strike duel but Nakajima ends it, red chested, by sneaking in a kick. It’s a beefy contest with Kamitani looking to put a marker on Nakajima and Katsuhiko refusing to back down.
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) July 13, 2018
Nakajima is so vicious and so good that you almost want to see him go somewhere bigger so he can showcase himself as this young boy killing asshole globally. Kamitani opens a few eyes here. The 26 year old has struggled to replicate the form that took him to the BJW summit in mid-2016 but he looks energised again here. He beats the fuck out of Kitamiya. Masa knows his role in this team. He’s the guy who gives the likes of Kamitani hope until Nakajima kicks them into oblivion.
Nakajima does this to Kamitani but then Nomura fucking slaps him right in the mush and starts laying in his own kicks. AAAAAARGH! I’m so fired up right now. If I had a den I’d be pacing in it. Doing a strike duel with stiff as fuck kicks is tough but they do it. Nakajima looks all fired up at the prospect of a youngster stepping up to him and Nomura looks every inch the fucking MAN in stepping up.
I LOVE THIS FUCKING MATCH SO MUCH
Look at that prick Nakajima asking if that's all Nomura has got pic.twitter.com/Em231xU7PS
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) July 13, 2018
HE FUCKING SUZUKI'D HIM!
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) July 13, 2018
This is naturally the finish as Nomura has been knocked out. Nakajima finds this amusing and smirks at Kamitani, who’s clearly annoyed with Nakajima. This is the Aggression.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Tatsumi Fujinami, Naomichi Marufuji & Shotaro Ashino vs. Shingo Takagi, Kaito Kiyomiya & Koji Doi
This match has a tough job to follow Nakajima but they give it a shot with NOAH vs. Wrestle-1 undertones. Like Doi stepping up to Marufuji and looking like a big hungry tank in the process. Doi was always my big prospect in Wrestle-1 so it’s nice to see him getting to that level finally. Kiyomiya is a big prospect for NOAH but spends most of this match getting his ass kicked. I like Marufuji and Shingo having a Big Boys chop battle. That was a potential final in Champion Carnival this year and I was sad it didn’t happen so it’s nice to get a flash of what could have been. The big surprise in this match is that Ashino is virtually anonymous. It isn’t until Doi lets the W-1 Ace chuck him around that Ashino does anything at all and even then Doi overshadows him. Another odd element is that Fujinami doesn’t slow the match down very often. They keep a quick pace and the aim is clearly to put on a big entertaining multi-man with Fujinami fitting in as and when he can. Ashino gets a measure of revenge for a relatively low key performance by submitting Doi at the finish. This was good but it needed more tension between Shingo and his teammates, which only happened at the finish and taking that Marufuji-Shingo war to either a higher level or doing a slight return later in the match.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Riki Choshu, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yoshitatsu vs. Jun Akiyama, Daichi Hashimoto & Jiro Kuroshio
This is certainly an interesting mix for the main event.
Each team has a veteran, a tough guy and a dandy. I’m frankly irritated at how over Ikemen is but there’s a lot to be said for taking risks in wrestling and he’s certainly doing something different. The match could be won in several areas. Obviously Akiyama is wrestling at a far higher level than Choshu, who’s close to retirement. Akiyama main evented for AJPW this year and the match was great. Sekimoto is a lot tougher than Hashimoto. So the match could be won and lost by the dandies. Ikemen is more over but Tatsu has an experience edge.
Choshu’s reaction to Kuroshio’s crowd reactions is notable. His face says it all. Is this what wrestling is now? Fuck this, I’m retiring. Ikemen’s continual taunting of Choshu in this match makes me want to see him get punched in the face. He’s so annoying. But then you’ve also got Akiyama, in a surly mood, wanting to get into a burly brawl with Sekimoto and he’s also not in the mood for any of Kuroshio’s bullshit. Another fun aspect is Choshu getting to wrestle Shinya Hashimoto’s son, given the storied past of Choshu vs. Hashimoto. Akiyama’s no nonsense approach is the best part of the match though. When Kuroshio is mucking around to distract the ref Akiyama strolls in and headbutts Choshu to break up the Sharpshooter. Akiyama is so surly. Sekimoto also does excellent work, especially when he’s making Ikemen look legit. It’s tough to make much smaller opponents look legit but Sekimoto does a bang up job of it. Everyone plays their role well and the mixture of talent comes off well. They don’t pair off, everyone mixes it up.
Akiyama ends up battering Choshu with a running knee, albeit in the ropes, and gets the pin.
Unfortunately this is a super flat finish and the crowd don’t respond well to it. Especially as Choshu appeared to kick out.
Final Rating: ***3/4
This show didn’t have the consistency of the first Power Hall but it certainly had higher highs. Especially the fucking great NOAH vs. BJW tag. Wonderful stuff. You must see it. The weird mixed tags that closed the show were interesting combos of talent and are probably worth a nose. The rest of the show you can probably skip, which cuts the show in half.