Metalhead’s Riff: Column subject to Changes (Wrestling Dontaku, WWE (little bit), Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada)

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Ok, yes, I know, I promised to do a Wrestling Dontaku review sooner, AND i promised to do a full Global Wars/War of the Worlds preview today, but, since at work my boss has decided I need a diploma to justify administratively that I can do what I’ve been doing all along, I’m now stuck with an almost impossible schedule of working full time AND studying for and passing twelve exams all in the course of two months (and at the age of 43, it’s been 25 years since I’ve even seen a cursus about anything). So you’re getting a Wrestling Dontaku review today, and you’ll be getting reviews about the ROH/NJPW super-shows next week-end instead of a preview this week AND YOU’LL BE HAPPY ABOUT IT!!! Or I’ll trow my math books at you. You’ve been warned.

On a more serious note, as much as I would like to participate in the various round-tables and write more about WWE developments for example, it simply isn’t possible right now, unless someone knows a way to make time stop. So, I’m just gonna say that I  have liked the developments of WWE’s tag team scene for the moment (even if the main reason they’re getting more attention is probably just due to the fact that DB and his IC title are absent for the moment), have enjoyed heel Naomi until now (even if this means the Bella’s are really turning face, this is gonna be bad) and refuse to see Ambrose apparent elevation to the Main Event scene as a positive sign until WWE proves to me this is not just another  obvious ply to have Ambrose take the pin so they can protect all others so they can continue to maintain the status quo until Lesnar returns and destroys all cause he IS the real and undisputed Main Eventer in McMahon’s eyes. And yes Sami Zayn introduction was fun, and it’s always a good idea to wheel out Bret Hart in Montreal, but, in the end, SuperCena won again so I don’t know why everyone is exited about Zayn’s first match. I mean what’s the point, Cena is supposed to be a Star Maker now? Think again.

In a quick news section, NJPW has announced the participants in their annual Best of Super Juniors Tournament:

In block A: Barbaro Cavernario, Baretta, Chase Owens, Gedo, Jushin Thunder Liger, Kyle O’Reilley, Ryusuke Tagushi, and Komatsu

In Block B: Alex Shelley, Bobby Fish, David Finlay (son of), Kushida, Mascara Dorada, Nick Jackson, Rocky Romero and Tiger Mask IV.

More on this later.

 

In the meantime let’s look back at Wrestling Dontaku and see how well the boys (and girls in this case) from new Japan did:

 

Captain New Japan, KUSHIDA, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Máscara Dorada, Tiger Mask, Yuji Nagata:

A fine opener, everybody had their working boots on and we even got treated to a Nakanashi dive. Well, attempt at, poor Manabu is virtually immobile these days and  really shouldn’t go for such moves. Still it got the desired effect. KUSHIDA was again booked strongly which surely has to lead to a strong showing during the Best of Super Juniors Tournament. This match ended with a Nagata pin over Captain New Japan.

Strong and fun opener.

Kota Ibushi and Yohei Komatsu vs. Sho Tanaka and Tetsuya Naito:

The slow elevation of the Young Lions, Komatsu and Tanaka seems to continue here. Good action, they managed to get the crowd behind them and were even allowed some strong spots against the stars. My only complaint would be that we’ve seen Komatsu vs Tanaka in tag teams for so long now that NJPW should perhaps take a chance and finally elevate them by now. They both seem ready for it. Komatsu got a submission win over Tanaka to take this one. Post-match, Ibushi refused to shake Naito’s hand in a rather aggressive manner. Mmmmmh…

Good match, certainly watchable.

Bad Luck Fale, Cody Hall, Tama Tonga vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma:

A notch or two below the first two matches, this was kept short. On the Bullet Club side, Fale seems lost now he hasn’t Okada anymore to make him look like a genuine threat and Hall is still green as hell while Tonga is like a Human Selling Machine by now. Fortunately Honma was his usual entertaining self and ended the match on a high note with a Koketsu on Hall to win this for his team. When will Honma finally receive a by now much-deserved push? I do realize a big part of his popularity lies in his Heroic Looser persona, but it still seems much more could be done with him.

Skip-able except for the ending.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Roppongi Vice (c) vs. reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks:

I usually like the Junior heavyweight Tag Team scene. All involved are always good for spirited matches with amazing spots, but, after awhile, when the same teams keep clashing in 3 or 4 way matches, there is always the risk these matches will have the seen it all before feel. They’re not quite there yet but they do need to find other combinations quickly. I also question the decision to put the belts back on the Young Bucks, unless they really go for a full on Chaos vs bullet Club War. But even then RPG Vice could have done with more time with the belts.

Good, very good even, but…

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tile – Kenny Omega (c) vs. Alex Shelley:

This was a rather strange one. Don’t get me wrong, very good, but you can’t help but have the feeling this could have been even better. The outside interference by the Young Bucks and KUSHIDA was more distracting than enhancing and Omega still seems stuck between wresting a good match and concentrating on shenanigans. This is frustrating to me sometimes as I KNOW Kenny CAN wrestle up a storm inside that ring when he chooses to. Shelley was fine and some good spots, Omega took it in the end with the One Winged Angel after Shelley was cheated out of the win a couple of times. This might not been over, but I expect KUSHIDA to take the lead of the chasing pack soon.

Certainly watchable.

Amber Gallows, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson vs Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven, Michael Bennett:

Ah yes, The Bullet Club vs Maria’s ass… I mean The Kingdom. Everybody was expecting a dud here and that’s exactly what we got. Not much to write about, unless for the fact that the audience was actually laughing with the supposedly shocking post-match angle in which the Bullet Club destroyed maria with the magic killer. Says it all about this feud, really. Maria small-packaged Amber for the win, not that anyone cares.

Yawn.

Kazushi Sakuraba, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata, Togi Makabe:

Ok this is really getting the seen it all before feel. It’s time for them to finally fro something with Sakuraba/Shibata and Tanahashi/ Yano already because this has gone on for long enough. Ishii and Makabe, on their side had a more than satisfactory climax to their feud a few days before (at Wrestling Hinokuni) so their parings seems a bit redundant by now. The ending was fun though, after having wins stolen from him via Yano roll-ups all over Japan, Tanahashi defeated the Master Thief with a roll-up of his own. Still fun, but it’s time to go forward on the various feuds I think.

Fun, nothing more.

A.J. Styles & Yujiro Takahashi vs Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI:

The much anticipated confrontation between Styles and Okada certainly delivered. Kudos to Tanahashi and especially YOSHI-HASHI also who worked their asses off to make this a good one. Okada delivered a fine and crisp performance who was clearly designed to up the ante for his match against AJ. And it worked. The fact that Styles ended up Pinning YOSHI-HASHI for the win was another slap in the face of an already infuriated Okada. Good stuff all around.

Watch.

IWGP Intercontinental Title – Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Hirooki Goto:

Main Events in NJPW are expected to deliver big matches each and every time. So there were some concern about the viability of Goto as Nakamura’s opponent in order to deliver that top-notch, seat-edging match, not from a wrestling point of view but in light of the fact that EVERYBODY expected Nakamura to win. So, in a very smart booking decision, that’s exactly the story those two told. Nakamura refused to take Goto seriously at the start, treating the whole thing as something of a joke and Goto as being beneath him. And then, slowly, the audience started to realize that Shinsuke had made a grave mistake. Indeed Goto entered a strong performance specifically designed to turn the crowd’s mind around and gained in strength has Nakamura started showing signs of frustration and doubt. The ending sequence was amazing and was the perfect set-up for the surprising but much deserved Goto win. Great stuff and captivating story in this one so…

WATCH!!!

Wrestling Dontaku was another fine offering from New Japan. While not all was good (Yes, I’m looking at you Maria and friends), most matches delivered more than enough entertainment to satisfy any wrestling fan. But, some feuds really need to get serious and they need to freshen up their Junior Tag Team scene otherwise the next events might get more negative critics. On the bright side, the Okada and Styles interaction was great, the main event delivered a very good match with a very surprising result and, as so often, most wrestlers really worked their asses off to please the audience. So all in all this get another big thumbs up.

Also interesting to note, the Chaos guys have lost all of their matches ( and titles even if the Ishii loss occurred a few days before that) which is an interesting development. except Chaos to come back with a vengeance in future events. Nakamura’s loss also opens up interesting perspectives. The IC title chase, for one, will be the theater of new and interesting feuds with Goto now firmly established as a Champ. Nakamura himself can now concentrate on other things and be more involved in the on-going feud against the Bullet Club. As for his future, the expected evolution seems to be an Okada win against Styles at Dominion, a Nakamura win at the G1 tournament, giving us a very intriguing Okada/ Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10.

Elsewhere Ibushi and Naito seem to be on collision course, but Ibushi is also expected to challenge Goto for the IC title at some point.

Finally whispers suggest that Nakamura is set to be the one to put Ibushi over for Kota’s first IWGP Heavyweight Title win.

Of course all this is nothing more than rumors and speculations at this point, but that’s the point. NJPW has once again done a good job of opening up their main event scene and keep fans guessing at what can happen next, and isn’t that the point of being a wrestling fan?

 

Finally, my match of the week:

This week I’ve decided to take a look back At All Japan Woman and present you with a match from that promotion’s golden age: Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada on August 15th 1992. Did I say A match? perhaps I should say THE match. Indeed, often regarded as one of the best wrestling matches ever (you will notice I omitted “female” here, because, yes, it’s that good), this one has it all. let me take you back here, Toyota and Yamada have had a strong link throughout their careers. Both started at AJW the same day, have been friends, partners and rivals and everything in between and all that came to an head on that fateful day. Toyota agreed to put her hair on the line for one more Shot at Yamada’s title. Not to be outdone Yamada agreed to the same stipulation, meaning there was so much at stake here, so much history between those two that it produced one of the most intense and emotional matches I ever saw. The ending, with the victor crying over the fate of the defeated and even going so far as cutting some of her own hair out of solidarity is still one of the most heart-wrenching moments in wrestling history.

On a side note, it’s because of such matches that I’m always annoyed by “Top TEN Best Female Wrestlers” list that include Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Lita and Chyna and not names such as Manami Toyota, Toshiyo Yamada, Bull Nakano and Aja Kong (and I could go on). Manami Toyota is arguably the best female wrestler ever and probably one of the best wrestlers ever period. When the American galls can produce something like this match I will review my opinion, but, until then most of them don’t even belong on the same list. Anyway, enough rantings, enjoy!

 

 

That’s all from me this week, see you all later and have fun!

 

 

 

 

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