1. Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono, and Mitsuhide Hirasawa vs. Jado, Gedo, and Tomoaki Honma - (NJPW 9/21/08) - 2
This is really a nothing match, barely goes eight minutes, but I feel compelled to mention a couple things. When most people think of hardcore wrestling the names that come to mind are luminaries like Pogo, Goto, Onita, WX, Hayabusa, Funk, Matsunsaga, Nakamaki, etc. But I fell in love with Tomoaki Honma after a single viewing of a death match tournament he took part in for BJPW, this young, sick kid was taking a plethora of grotesque bumps wearing nothing but a generic pair of boots and tiny trunks. While other guys wore jeans, t-shirts, etc. to help protect their flesh from broken glass, barbed wire, and so on, Honma went into the shit with reckless abandon and I stained many blankets in his honor.
Now, working for NJPW, he's had little success, but teams here with perennial mid-card team Jado and Gedo against two certified legends and a douchebag named Hirasawa, whose on the meager list of only 16% of the active NJPW roster not to have a Wikipedia profile. Out of all the '90's Japanese stars, Chono has probably aged the worst physically, a graying, arthritic caricature of his former self, Chono's face is now stretched to Giant Baba-esque porportions. Gedo's vocal selling is the only memorable performance nuance here, as this short match will be even quicker forgotten.
2. TAJIRI vs. Booker T - (IGF 2/16/08) - 4
On the way to the ring there's a long line of "legends" at ringside, so you have to walk down the line, shaking their hands, sucking their wrinkled, decrepit cocks as you make your way to your match. This was Booker post-WWE, but pre-TNA I believe, and he just seemed to be relieved to be doing something, especially since this was his first recorded match in Japan in over ten years. The match is simple, possibly the opener, so it definitely has an exhibition feel to it that prevents it from being scored higher. However, Booker and Tajiri are both really great at ridiculous facial selling, one of my favorite kinds, and both display all kinds of wacky facials that made this so much more fun to watch than I'd expected. Booker also bumps well for little things, like fast armdrags by Tajiri, that give the much smaller guy credibility against the larger, more accomplished, former multiple-time champion. Booker even takes some green mist to the face later, but is man enough after the match to give Tajiri a hug, and presumably, invite him out later for sake, sushi, and Sharmell's anus.
3. Drew Fickett vs. Josh Koscheck - (UFC Fight Night 2) - 2
Man, Koscheck has came a long way since this fight, and while now I still don't like the guy personally, I at least respect that he's added to his game and become a better well-rounded fighter. Here, he was 7-0, and ever so content to just lay on top of bland Fickett and control him on the ground. The first two rounds were nothing more than Josh riding Drew on the canvas, with little to no strikes or submission attempts. I actually love the psychology and technic of good grappling, but this was just Koscheck using his superior, nationally recognized amateur wrestling to hold Fickett down. The finish comes very late in the third round, less than a minute left, when after being stood up Josh runs directly into an awkward kick to the body that sends him crumpling to the mat, Drew hops on his back and chokes him out with under thirty seconds remaining which would have undoubtedly led to a decision victory for Koscheck. Severely boring and disappointing, avoid this like you would running into a girl at the grocery that you face-fucked at a drunken pool party in high school.
4. Takeshi Morishima and Mohammed Yone vs. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli - (NOAH 1/25/09) - 4
Its great being able to get such recent Japanese matches, literally days after they happen, via this crazy Internet confrontation. This isn’t much of a match, though, mid-card filler at best. Hero is rocking a new, grotesque beard, looking like a backwoods militia member with a snack cake addiction. Here, however, I believe (if just momentarily) him as the “Young Knock-Out Kid” as he and Yone go toe-to-toe with stiff strikes and actually get my attention. Claudio is serviceable, but doesn’t do much, although one particular double-team by the ROH guys reeked of Chikara and did get some gasps by the usually quiet Japanese crowd. Morishima gets the win, then afterward, there’s some angle advancement as Mohammed and another guy turn on Takeshi and leave him lying but that development left me pretty indifferent.