- Hair vs Hair, Elimination: #STRONGHEARTS vs BULK Orchestra ****1/4
- Sendai World Title: Chihiro(c) vs Mio ****
- Sendai World Title: Chihiro(c) vs Iroha ****
- BJW Strong World Heavyweight Title: Nomura(c) vs Okabayashi ****1/2
- GCW Ultraviolent Title, Halloween From Hell Death Match: Takeda(c) vs Parker ****1/4
- KO-D Openweight Title: Takeshita(c) vs Okabayashi ****3/4
- Cara Noir vs WALTER ****1/4
- Hermanos Lee vs Laredo Kid, Mack ***1/2
- AAA Tag Titles, Ladder: FTR(c) vs Lucha Bros **1/2
- AAA Mega Title: Hijo del Vikingo vs Lethal vs Samuray del Sol vs Fish vs Bandido ***1/2
- King of FREEDOMS World Title, Four Danger Corner: Violento(c) vs Takeda ****1/4
- King of FREEDOMS World Title, Alpha Death: Violento(c) vs Kasai ****1/2
- Pencil Army vs BestBros, Egg Tarts ****
- Iron Man: Brookes vs Pencil ****
- SHINGO vs Ishii ****1/2
- SHINGO vs Sabre Jr ****1/4
- Kota vs Ishii ****1/4
- SHINGO vs KENTA ****
- Ishii vs Sabre Jr ****1/4
- SHINGO vs Kota ****3/4
- UWF Exhibition: Sabre Jr vs Shibata ***1/4
- G1 Finals: Okada vs Kota ***1/2
- IWGP World Heavyweight Title Title: SHINGO(c) vs Sabre Jr ****1/4
- Ospreay vs Narita ***3/4
- Moose vs Juice ***1/2
- Ospreay vs Buddy ***3/4
- NEVER Openweight Title: White(c) vs Ishii ****1/4
- Hiromu vs El Desperado ****1/4
- Hiromu vs Ishimori ****1/4
- BOSJ Finals: Hiromu vs YOH ****
Up first this week, I fixed an issue. I've been needing to watch more GLEAT and this one caught my eye as a must-see. I think I've only had time for one other so far. I was right to pick this one. Outside of the awful name the company has chosen (google it), they clearly are building up something special. I'll try to do a special post of just GLEAT content if I can find time to do so. The biggest reason I am intrigued is the OWE/#SH relationship and the use of UWF rules on cards.
Anyway, the match was an epic spotfest that built up and kept a strong pace for nearly an hour and honestly I would say it works well as an introduction piece. Fantastic stuff and strongly recommended to lucharesu fans.
Next, two Sendai pulls. Chihiro is always such a joy to watch and Sendai tends to be a very fun fed each time I check in.
The first saw Mio test the champ before eventually falling to a bridging german suplex. Fantastic stuff with CH working nicely as the bruising technical beast and the challenger bringing a nice spark for her to snuff out.
Next, Iroha, one of the best workers in the world, got a shot against Chihiro. Two titans of joshi in battle. What's not the like!? The only previous singles match between the two was in 2017 when both were very different workers. That one was a 15 minute bout that ended in a time limit draw. They went for an epic here, with a large feeling out process and a slow burn pace. Some bigger spots sprinkled throughout before a last battle of wills style endstretch. In the end, we had a 30-minute draw to conclude the action. While this didn't hit my expectations, it was admittedly still high quality content regardless and I do strongly recommend it. Their next one will hopefully hit MOTYC like this one should have.
Moving along, we have two last pulls from Big Japan.
First, Yuji and Nomura in singles action. Okabayashi doesn't get nearly enough credit from fans for his impressive catalog, but I personally love this big mountain of meat. Nomura has also grown a lot as a worker and is in a big position right now. The Strong side of the company was well represented in this one. If you only watch one Big Japan match from 2021, make it this one for sure. It was one hell of a performance.
Next, the Death side with GCW gold on the line. Parker has really done well to make a name for himself and Takeda is already god-level for death fans, so I was very excited to see this one. It fucking rocked. This one is simple, too. If you like death stuff, it's a must-see. If you don't, stay the hell away from it. It's the best death match of the year I've seen so far (I have a few more to watch to confirm), but it's truly awesome either way.
Next, one last DDT match from 2021. If I felt that I had more time, I would watch the entire show this one came from. Alas, I feel I am always battling with that awful thing called time, but a rematch between my favorite roster member, Takeshita, and my favorite muscle man, Yuji, was a must-see for me. The big man came in here bruised to hell, for the record. The contest itself was a beautiful display of fighting spirit. It's one of those epic, near hour-long experiences that feel grand in scope and execution. They delivered big and I strongly recommend this MOTYC!
I noticed wXw's 21st Anniversary show had popped up on my Office app and checked out the WALTER versus Cara Noir match. Fantastic shit. It's super easy to make WALTER matches worth seeing, to be fair. Just use the David/Goliath theme and run wild with it. They did so. Cara remains one of the most charismatic dudes in the game and played his role well, too. Hit up Peacock if you want.
Moving on, I'm ready to kill off my AAA pulls. I have a strong love/hate relationship with the company, but it tends to lean more to love.
Up first, Dragon Lee and Dralistico took on Mack and Laredo. Mack was over nicely, which was a nice sight. He really should just full time there. This was borderline great stuff and a very good spotfest tag overall.
Next, I made the mistake of watching FTR versus Penta and Fenix's ladder match. Their rivalry was largely disappointing and this one was a perfect showcase of that take. It was a disjointed affair that felt clunky as fuck and only barely came close to even being "good".
I finished AAA with Vikingo's Mega victory. I wanted to enjoy it more, but for a clusterfuck spotfest it was still very good and seeing HdV win here was a nice sight. Hopefully we get him versus Omega as soon as humanly possible, though. 2022 should be fun for the fed.
In the 11 spot, we have two violent fuckers beating the shit out of each other. A cactus gets involved. It's really fucking insane and highly recommended for those that enjoy such things. Bloody, brutal, fun. Arguably the best death match of the year if I was forced to pick, but the Big Japan battle deserved to be seen just as much.
There's only one death match left on my list so lets see if this one can top the last two.
Speaking of sick bastards, my last death match from 2021 saw Crazy Monkey win FREEDOMS' top prize after he tried to murder Violento Jack. Also, it was so highly entertaining that it actually deserves praise as being the actual DMOTY. Watch the other two, but make this a priority. If you are torn on the genre go ahead and watch it, too. If you don't enjoy this, you probably really need to just ignore death content.
A disgusting car crash!
Now, who wants some chocolate?
Wrestling in this format shouldn't be so damn fun, but the Gatoh crew are excellent workers and they make it work. Just some hard working people and a mat in the middle of a small room.
The atomico was fantastic and overcame the surroundings. It felt epic yet minimalistic. The action and storytelling exceeded expectations as this contradictory encounter saw eight step up to deliver big. I don't watch this show often enough, but this was certainly one of the best things I've seen put out by them so far.
Check out my review of NXT WarGames HERE.
Back to the cocoa.
Did you know that Danielson originally had an idea for a promotion similar to what Gatoh is, but with less comedy? It eventually turned into EVOLVE with shit-stain Gabe at the helm and, of course, it was nothing like the original idea. It had some good shit, regardless.
Brookes and Lulu had one heck of a wrestling match in the next pull. Comedy, action, drama. Some will absolutely hate this. I loved it. The spirit of pro wrestling is meant to be entertainment and fun and that's exactly what this was. Fantastic stuff. If you watched and enjoyed the atomico, watch this immediately after.
New Japan time. I know I am far behind. The damn G1 is so packed that it always drags me down and takes me forever. The brand is also emotionally exhausting at times. Like, the content can be amazing but the fact that almost everything worth seeing is long and the entire thing feels like a film can take a toll at times. Maybe that's stupid.
Ishii and SHINGO was just as awesome as I had hoped it would be. Two fighting spirit titans went to war once again and fucking killed it with a MOTYC. Not much more to say, but it represented that previous paragraph well.
Next, another chapter in arguably the best feud wrestling has ever had.
Tanahashi and Okada have had classic after classic and you know that anytime they meet, regardless of what is going on with them at the time otherwise, it's going to be awesome. This was indeed awesome and a MOTYC. You should never expect less. While the company is past their golden era, this was excellent evidence of their worth and a reminder that these two workers are still aces no matter what.
Next, SHINGO and TechWizard Sabre. A style clash for sure, but a well worked, well paced one with a strong layout. Sabre winning felt big but everyone came off looking awesome, which is how things should be done.
Hopefully I will complete those pulls by the end of the week, though. I hope to finish 2021 soon and have my awards posts done before February hits.
Kota and Ishii's G1 outing was, of course, worth seeing, too. The issue though is I don't think it hit the heights it could and should have and that the pacing and intensity were just a touch below expectations, too. It'll still make the list of must-see matches of the year. That's just how good they are.
Moving along, we have KENTA and SHINGO in singles action. These two are two of my all-time favorites, for the record. I loved K being a dick here. The limb work and pacing worked well for the tone of the match and the layout provided for a nice throwaway G1 challenge for the 5x world champ. It's getting repetitive I am sure, but this was yet another fantastic contest from the pile. The uphill climb was very enjoyable.
Next, Pitbull versus TechWizard. I have to give Sabre credit, because the dude is so consistently awesome but, like Ishii, he'll likely never hold the top prize of New Japan. Anyway, this was basically a better version of the KENTA/SHINGO match, in my opinion. The calculated limb work was superior, for one. As good as that was, this was better so, if you're also this late to the G1, prioritize this one.
My fat ass gets exhausted by the G1. I'm glad I am finally plowing through, though.
SHINGO and Kota was one of my favorite matches of the year. They both brought their A games, stepping up big for a battle that burned bright. They kept it tight and made the 20 minutes feel like ten. It wasn't overly bloated and I give high praise across the board here. I'll be back to watch this one again at some point, for sure.
Next, we have something special. Shibata's situation was tragic and, as a big fan of his work, I can't help but to be excited to finally be watching this. Ran under "grappling rules", this was a surprise addition to the finals event of this year's G1. Just seeing Shibata back in the ring felt special and the rules worked well for the situation. KS has been working hard with the LA Dojo crew, but admittedly you can tell he has lost a step here. That's expected though and not a knock, because even with that he still looked great and his conditioning and physique remain peak. Sabre was the right dude for the situation, just like the ruleset, and I, again, am just beyond thankful to get the chance to even see this. Despite the rating, I urge fans that missed this to give it a click.
The finals this time around saw Okada and Kota's sixth singles match together. It went just under 25. Sadly, it was their worst encounter due to Ibushi suffering an injury after a botched phoenix splash. They were aiming for an epic, likely with a runtime that came close to 50, but things snuffed out while they were still in the build phase. As a result, this feels very incomplete. Pretty good, borderline at least, but incomplete. Shit happens and I am glad KI is okay and I look forward to his return.
Moving past the G1 now and finishing up New Japan, we start with SHINGO defending against ZSJ from Power Struggle.
Takagi getting a run with the belt is something I am still surprised by and I am hopeful that Gedo pulls the trigger again sooner than later. Gedo might increasingly suck in his role, which he'll have as long as he wants regardless, but the roster is so fucking awesome that there will always be something worth seeing in NJPW. I'm just happy SHINGO didn't get Ishii'd.
Anyway, here the champ (at the time) put away a dude I am pretty sure is already Ishii'd.
This one was a strong sequel to the G1 battle. It was their second match together and another awesome display, though not without some nitpicks. This would be Takagai's final successful defense of the big strap, for those keeping track, and they kept that uphill battle theme going nicely enough!
Next up, I'll dig into some content from the Valley gig. It might be in a bit or it might be tomorrow depending on what times allows.
Hey, it looks like it was a next day thing.
Ospreay versus RN was essentially an unsanctioned IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match. It had an added story hook of Shibata's student versus Will, the Royal Cunt. In all, it was great stuff and a nice throwaway for Will to get back on track. Ren is pretty dang good.
Moose, who is bit better than he gets credit for (as far as US workers go), is up next. Most wrestlers are idiots, to be fair, and the booking choices aren't his, either. Juice is pretty solid, too. For a random match on the card, this worked well and was honestly very good. Borderline great, even. Most will remember the Jonah moment after more than anything else. I should have watched this stuff before that IMPACT event when he attacked Alexander, but oh well.
Next, one of my favorite dudes against one of the best ever. I feel in love with Buddy during his 205Live run. There was a time when that show was truly great, folks. When he was freed from his restrictions, I was super excited to see what he'd do. Apparently getting a match against Okada was one of the things. Fuck. Admittedly the contest was far from what either man is capable of, but it was a great one for the circumstances. I sincerely hope Buddy gets more chances to show off on big stages soon. Jump on the train now. Trust me.
It looks like I'll be stopping for today. I'll be back tomorrow.
White and Ishii was fantastic. My kids even got into it pretty hard. White didn't lean into his normal shit-heel tactics which was perfect and they both stepped up nicely for a pretty badass main event. It'll be on my must-see list of 2021 content that I'm finishing off.
From the BOSJ gigs, Hiromu proved he's a god of the division again.
Against El Desperado, he had a fantastic battle full of excitement and some good throwbacks. I appreciated the time limit draw usage here.
Against Ishimori, they stepped up for a big one. A touch of fat could've been trimmed off, but I really enjoyed the spots throughout and think they did super well throughout.
Last up, from the King of Sports, we have the BOSJ finals, which could have been amazing. Could have. Somehow, they still made it worthwhile, but the deflating attack from SHO killed all momentum and forced the quality down considerably. The opening half was good, the attack spot and minutes of recovery sucked, and the ending rocked.
That's it for the week. I'll be back to finish of 2021 next week. Also, dWo posts resume soon.
Pull List (2021)
- ROH Final Battle
- PWG's Threemendous VI & It's a Long Way to the Top