Tokyo Korakuen Hall
2,100 Fans - Super No Vacancy
1.) Akira Taue vs. Takashi Okita - G: 2 B: 2
G: This was stupid. Taue can hardly move anymore so they're resorted to shitty comedy that has a real homoerotic feel to it. This was absolutely skippable in every sense of the word.
Brian: Having Taue opening a show in '10 is about as good an idea as a vampire opening curtains on a sunny day. Taue hitting multiple chokeslams on Okita to finish felt symbolically like a pet owner punishing their dog for eating their shoe.
2.) Taiji Ishimori, Ricky Marvin, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Satoshi Kajiwara vs. Yasu Urano, Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada & Kenbai - G: 4 B: 5
G: Ishimori is nuts! Dude busted out a sick moonsault off the top of the ropes backwards into the audience and awaiting men from the other team. My favorite thing about this match was the nice mix of lucha and puro infused into one. It's like a sampler plate at a sushi restaurant -- you get sashimi and negiri, or in this case, highspots and fuck-yeah striking games. Harada, the Osaka pro native, really impressed me. His striking game really made the match and everything he hit looked sweet. As in usual fashion with these multi-men tags, the break-ups of pins got to be annoying as every guy would rush the ring at once like obese women pouncing on cheesecake. Kenbai stunk worse than a fresh pile of dogshit, hitting a magistral cradle that looked about as well executed as a horny male Golden Retriever trying to mount a horse.
Brian: I'm a sucker for inter-promotional matches and this fit the bill. Nakajima was a great face in peril, lending credibility to the underdog Osaka Pro squad, and Ishimori was the spark this match needed bringing some huge aerial displays. After all the spots and double-teams and whatnot I liked that it ended with a simple kick to the face by Katsuhiko on Kenbai.
3.) Extreme Tiger/Jack Evans vs. KENTA/Atsushi Aoki - G: 4 B: 4
G: Evans really, really, REALLY needs to work on his striking. For real. A wet noodle is stiffer than his forearm. Luckily, we had KENTA to bust his face in with stiff kicks and forearms. Tiger is fucking ballsy. He busted out that nice 450 splash to the floor!~ Aoki's ferocity and energy is always welcome in my book -- it makes the match that much better. KENTA hit a particularly nice GTS, and before I knew it, the match was over. Evans definitely dragged this match down as he looks so out of place. I dug Tiger's ballsy performance, as well as the always awesome KENTA/AOKI tandem.
Brian: So it's the semi-finals and the stakes are higher than Teddy Hart holding his Blackberry waiting for Evans' text on how the match went. Jack's breakdancing display would look at home on an LA street but less so when you're getting ready to fight a guy that wants to kick your head off. That 450° splash (which he calls the Sabertooth Splash by the way Geo) from the top to the floor was ill. Evans was "running around like a Puerto Rican on the fifteenth of the month!" to borrow a line from Made (2001). When most people think of KENTA the series with Marufuji pops to mine but for me I always recall his four-match series with Danielson the traversed two continents. He's dependable as always here bringing some welcomed physicality to the proceedings. At times this was much better than its score represents but I agree with Geo that Evans' horse shit brought it down i.e. didn't buy any of his flippy stuff damaging or having either of the NOAH guys in any real trouble.
4.) Eddie Edwards/Roderick Strong vs. Yoshinari Ogawa/Kotaro Suzuki - G: 5 B: 5
G: Edwards and Suzuki are the epitome of "evenly matched" opponents. Things got a bit choppy and awkward when Ogawa got in as the match started to bulge a bit at the seams. As quickly as it came, the choppiness left and we got to see Edwards' selling ability as he sold the arm vocally and sustained (he kept going back to the arm and cradling it as if in pain). Roddy looked right in his own environment. He fit right in. Ogawa hit a nasty ass DDT on Roddy, who sold it on his head like a horrible break dancer from the 90s. Kotaro has these really great upper-cut slaps that make such great sound. It's really great to see such two young strong style guys that are Kotaro and Roddy in the same match. Overall, I enjoyed it.
Brian: This hit my sweet spot but sometimes as a reviewer you've got to distance yourself from how you felt while watching something and examining what actually transpired in the footage itself. Case in point, it's a Sunday morning, I'm eating a giant slab of the tiramisu cake my wife got me for my birthday the day previous, my cat's on my lap purring like a '67 Dodge Charger, and NOAH is on display on my gigantic plasma HD flat-screen TV. But, stripping away the outside elements, this was still a good bout and just slightly south of our famed recommendable status. The arm work on Edwards was key and felt focused, both teams seemed keyed up and on edge aware of the stakes, and the flash finish with Eddie countering an attempted submission and using leverage to hold Ogawa down was satisfying and didn't devalue the NOAH team.
5.) Kensuke Sasaki vs. Shuhei Taniguchi - G: 6 B: 4
G: This was a battle of the brick shithouses. We got some always welcomed arm psyched on Kensuke to start, which works really well considering he throws lariats and chops like it's nobody's business. Kensuke battled through the pain of the arm work by Taniguchi and still managed to hit his lariats, however. I've only seen a handful of Taniguchi matches, but I really loved how he turned up the intensity and ferocity of his performance as the match progressed. This was truly evident by Taniguchi's forearms to the chin of Kensuke in the corner. We got a really great 90s AJPW sprint near the end that featured some nasty ass head drops. A fun match that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Brian: My NOAH watching has been spotty the last year or two and whenever I've seen Taniguchi featured I haven't seen him utilized as a credible or legit threat yet. Here, he's still summarily decimated, but at least in the opening stages looked strong. I like how he just sidestepped a Sasaki chop, grabbed Kensuke's arm, and then kneed the shit out of his elbow joint. Shuhei, albeit debuting over six years ago, is still being brought up the ranks slowly but is definitely physically capable and I look forward to continuing watching his career blossom.
6.) Dick Togo/The Great Sasuke vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Genba Hirayanagi - G: 5 B: 5
G: Togo is great. He is just a natural showman and worker. He throws some really choice right hands that always seem to look great. I've never been huge into Genba, but his performance here was solid. Granted, he wasn't the standout in this match, as that title belongs to Togo. Kanemaru is someone I'm not familiar with. I'm sure if I saw more of his matches he'd grow on me, as he seems to have some good energy explosions, especially after receiving tags. There was one glaring spot that unfortunately was carried out by Togo: in an attempt at a superkick, he absolutely whiffed and got nothing but air as he tried to kick Genba in the face. It's not normally something I'd draw attention to, but it was really damn obvious. Sasuke still held his own in the match really beefing up his selling of the elbow he received right to the crotch. Pretty sure you could hear his selling in the Osaka Prefecture. To top it off, he hit that great swanton over the post to the outside that looked delicious.
Brian: More inter-promotional clashing and apparently Kanemaru now uses Afro Sheen. I get the impression Yoshinobu kills time on subway commutes on goldfishfun.com. Don't we all. There's been a revival of interest in Togo online and it's clear here he's the star. Props to Kanemaru for actually making a flying crossbody spot an exciting highspot with his fluidity, air-time, and mid-air scream. I dig Genba as this sniveling baddie a real-life Bebop. When did Sasuke start doing a "Buff Blockbuster" and why'd it rule so hard? He must be on a late-'90's WCW kick -- next thing you know he'll be dusting off Sean O'Haire and Kwee Wee spots. What an awesome combination of moves: Togo hits the "Pedigree" on Hirayanagi, Sasuke does a "Swanton" off the top onto Kanemaru on the floor, back in the ring Togo comes off the top with a diving senton on Genba, then lastly, Sasuke comes off the top with a pointed dropkick to Genba's arm (he used it like a flying headbutt) for the finish. A neat little finishing stretch tacked onto a fun bout.
7.) Yoshihiro Takayama/Naoki Sano/Masao Inoue vs. Mohommed Yone/Takashi Sugiura/Go Shiozaki - G: 5 B: 4
G: Sugi and Sano really made their presence known in this match by executing a great strike exchange. Talk about laying your shit in. Inoue struck me as a bit odd in this match as he kept smiling and nodding his head in an affirmative manner throughout the match. What's going on here? Go and Takayama had this really sweet sequence in the ring that I wish would've went longer. I could watch those two battle all day. It's almost like seeing a young Kobashi beat up the aging horse that is Takayama. Sano really had me wishing he would've sold Go's chops and Go was selling everything Sano did. I was on the fence with this match, but Go's performance was really good and in all honesty, saved the match.
Brian: This should be beefy. It's not too often you see a rumble between five tough guys and a jaundiced horse with a bleached mullet. I like Sano and his chipmunk face and he got to showoff early. Takashi and Yoshihiro trading throws brought to mind two caveman tossing each other into the dirt. I wonder if Go doesn't yearn for the days of working Seth Daley and Chasyn Rance in FIP occasionally when getting his brains splattered in Japan. They probably don't have Chik-fil-A over there either and he was a big fan. Agreed with Geo on Inoue's facials as the guy's always struck me as goofy meathead. Sugiura goes after Masao with bad intentions and calls to mind a line from Stab in House Party: "Yo, I'l put my foot so far up yo ass you be shittin' sneaker for a month". Yone hitting the Kinniku Buster mercifully ended this, it definitely started to drag in the later stages, and with Inoue being in predominately you never got a sense his squad stood a fighting chance. When you get this restless watching a match you start wondering what other stuff you could be doing i.e. checking video game junkie/comic book nerd/pornstar April O'Neil's delicious blog for updates, etc.
8.) Roderick Strong/Eddie Edwards vs. KENTA/Atsushi Aoik - G: 8 B: 7
G: This. Was. Incredible. To start, we got two sets of really great forearm trades by Edwards/Aoki and a second by Roderick/KENTA. This set the pace for the rest of the match as shit started to get intense. Aoki hit this sick dive on Edwards' arm that Edwards sold like his arm was ripped off. After working the arm over for a bit, Edwards found himself back on top in the match and hit a sickening double stomp on Aoki, who was laying on the ring apron. The native team kept going back to Edwards' arm, which added a really nice touch of psych to the overall match. KENTA was stiff as ever, too, really beating the shit out of Roderick's face throughout with kicks. As the match progressed, it became more like two singles matches with Edwards facing Aoki and Roderick facing KENTA. No complaints here. The breakdown and sprint of this match was textbook. Roderick and Edwards fit together like a puzzle with their double-teaming and great offense. Roddy hit that great flipping backbreaker on KENTA for a delicious nearfall that had me fooled. Combine that with more great nearfalls that kept me on the edge of my seat and some really awesome strikes... damn, you've got a recipe for something great. If you ask me, they carried out the recipe to damn near perfection. Loved this match.
Brian: This was pretty good, some of the opening and mid-section felt a bit shiftless, but the last act had that great Japanese thrill ride feel and just like Geo I was biting on all of the false finishes and enjoying the journey. Edwards was solid throughout, little did he or we know he'd be ROH World champion in less than a year. I'm a sucker for an action-packed finishing stretch, and while Geo thinks they carried it out to near-perfection, there's such a great lineage and tradition of that style in Japan that alongside so many luminaries this loses its bite. Still, an enjoyable way to finish off the 2010 Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League.