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Strong Style: This will be good!

Mar 18 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35623:6147:0[/embed] Hour 1:  July 22, 2016, Koruken Hall, Tokyo. G1 night 2.  Since this is the first night of Block B. No one has any points. We are greeted by Yoshi-Hashi Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Yuji Nagata Naito is the leader of Los Ingobernables and the winner of the G1 in 2013 while Yuji represents the older generation guys, having won this tournament in 2001. Naito can bring the explosive and quick offense, but his "tranquilo" often means he wastes time, while Yuji has the experience and has a style that will stretch Naito to the limit. Since we are at the Sumo Hall, the entrances are real short. Naito comes out in his white suit and Skeletor Mask while Yuji marches right to the ring. Bell rings and while Yuji is ready to fight, Naito, of course, hangs around the ropes and dicks around. JR mentions that Yuji is 48 years old at this point. We finally have a lock up. Naito gets the waistlock but Yuji counters right around into and armbar then into a full nelson back into a wristlock. Naito flips out of it and reverses but Yuji counters out with a kick. Naito gives Yuji the Nagata salute, but Yuji just gives it back to him. They square off and Yuji gets a Greco-Roman lock but Naito backs into the ropes. Yuji gives him a clean break and Naito smirks at him. as they come into the center, Yuji lands a few kicks to Naito's knees, but Naito kicks him in the guts, hammers on him, and then rakes the eyes. As this is going on JR is rambling on about their haircuts. Naito whips Yuji in and goes for a clothesline but Yuji ducks it. Nagata fakes a leap and spooks Naito but Yuji lands a low kick to the leg. Nice. Yuji shoots the ropes but Naito nails him with a dropkick to the leg. Naito slips out to the floor and grabs Nagata's leg, snapping it on the apron of the ring. Naito then sends Yuji to the metal barrier. Naito hooks the leg on the barrier and goes to work on it as honest to god JR is rambling on about going to school with Abe Lincoln and Steve Douglas. I swear he just doesn't care anymore. Naito lands a dropkick right to the side of Yuji's knee. We skip ahead as both guys are back in the ring. They are exchanging forearm shots before Naito scoops him up and drops Yuji down to his knees. Naito bounces off the ropes but Nagata catches him in a big suplex throw! They get up and Yuji just lays in the sidekicks, driving Naito into the corner. Yuji lands some stuff forearm shots before sending Naito to the opposite corner and a high boot to the face. Yuji catches him with an exploder suplex and goes for the cover, only to get two. Yuji tries for a suplex but Naito dead weights him. Yuji tries for a kick but Naito kicks him in the leg first. Naito starts slapping Yuji in the head for some stupid reason. He rebounds off the ropes but Yuji tries for a kick only to get caught. Naito lays in some forearm shots of his own. Yuji just answers back with a bunch of teeth rattlers of his own but Naito counters with the shot to the knee and then a neckbreaker. Naito goes out to the apron and climbs up top and lands the missile dropkick and goes for the cover, but only gets a two count. Back from commercial, as Naito gets some weak head kicks just to be a dick. Nagata whipped into the corner and Naito gets in his trip dropkick combo and actually lands Gloria but Nagata kicks out. Nagata counters and gets the white-eyes armlock. He then rolls Naito over and locks in the armbar but Naito gets to the ropes. Hard kick by Nagata. Another kick. Nagata wrenches the arm again but Naito just spits on Yuji. You don't do a vet like that! Yuji tosses him into the corner and just kicks the hell out of him. Naito catches the legs into a victor roll into a kneebar! Yuji is fighting it but he gets to the ropes! Naito is almost smiling now. He kicks the knee a bunch of times but Yuji keeps fighting. Naito lands an enziguri and a high forearm. he goes for destino but Yuji counters it. Nagata gets in a suplex. He goes for the cover but Naito kicks out. Yuji tries the side suplex but Naito counters. They exchange forearm shots and palm strikes but Yuji gets the side suplex and cradle but Naito kicks out! Yuji goes for the big kick but misses. Naito goes for a big kick but misses! Yuji locks in the side suplex and gets the win for 2 big points! Block B: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma Shibata is the NEVER Champion here and is known for being an ass kicker. Honma is, of course, the lovable loser who lives and dies by his kokeshi headbutt. However spotty his record is, especially in the G1 tournaments, Honma will give you a fight and never give up. We get the quick intros as Honma is out first. Shibata is the NEVER champion but doesn't even come out with the belt. Bell rings and the run right into each other and starts launching bombs! Forearms and uppercuts flying away. Honma goes for the headbutt and misses. Shibata launches a kick but misses. Shibata with a snapmare and into a chinlock. Shibata locks in a leg scissors. Honma gets to the ropes and breaks, but Shibata lays in some stomps. Honma crawls to the corner. Shibata lays in some slaps and that just fires Honma up!  He grabs Shibata and starts laying in forearms but then starts stomping a mudhole in him in the corner. Shibata bails out of the ring. Honma follows him out and throws him right into the metal barrier. He throws him into it again and then lands a running clothesline to send him over the top. Honma goes back in the ring as the count starts, but decides better and goes back out to bring Shibata back in the ring. he wants to win! Honma lands some chops on the seated Shibata but he just brushes them off like nothing. Another chop and Shibata actually dares Honma to hit him harder. Honma actually aims some strikes right to the throat now but Shibata just decks him and sends Honma down. He whips Honma into the buckle and starts throwing forearm strikes. Shibata tries the whip but Honma reverses it and hits a clothesline. Honma tries the whip but Shibata reverses it and follows up with a running boot to the head. Honma shakes it off quickly and hits Shibata with a straight headbutt. Shibata stumbles back and Honma hits a running headbutt. We return from commercial to have both guys get to their knee and start a forearm duel. They get up and standing but keep going back and forth until Shibata gains the advantage. Shibata gets an underarm choke and latches on with a body scissors. Crowd cheers for Honma as he gets up and muscles Shibata into a tombstone piledriver! Wow! Both guys need to ropes to get up as Honma charges first right into a knee to the gut. Shibata tries the cover but gets two. Shibata gets in a suplex but Honma is right back up and lands a big clothesline! Honma lands the headbutt off the ropes but cover gets two. Tombstone piledriver by Honma, but Shibata gets right back up. Honma lands a neck breaker. He goes up top for the big one and lands the kokeshi! He makes the cover and gets the three count! Two points for Honma! Shibata rolls out of the ring clutching his shoulder in pain. Honma actually goes out and brings him back in the ring for a handshake but Shibata isn't having any of that and gives Honma a glare. Honma just tosses him right back out again. Honma grabs the mic. He tells Shibata to clean out his ears and listen. Just because he won once, this isn't the end. He wants a title match. He says there is nothing wrong with a lucky guy winning the G1. Kokeshi is happy! Studio words from Yoshi as he is my favorite guy in NJPW right now actually. Hope to see big things from him someday. He was surprised that he got in as he was not told until the announcement for the participants. We see some clips of him from the press conference. Kenny is his kind of opponent. Powerful and explosive. Block B: YOSHI-HASHI vs.  Kenny Omega Yoshi is considered a junior member of CHAOS, being that he came into the group as Okada's tag team partner and still learning his craft. He will put on a good show, even if he really hasn't broken through to be a big star of his own yet. Omega is the leader of the Bullet Club and recently held the Intercontinental Title. Yoshi has a big hill to climb here, no doubt about it. Kenny comes out first and he has a broom in hand because he's "The Cleaner". Josh makes a reference to Perry Saturn's WWF run when he carried a mop. It gets even more bizarre when JR goes on to say the difference was, Saturn's mop had a name (Moppy) and Omega's does not, so Omega can't sell any T-shirts or gimmicks about it. I am not making this up. However, it is also noted that Kenny is out here alone. JR speculates that it's because Kenny thinks Yoshi isn't worth it, but as I have said before, the guys in the G1 typically don't have flunkies outside to interfere for them to make the matches better. Yoshi makes his entrance and JR and Josh talk abut how much Yoshi is the underdog here. The bell rings and a Kenny chant starts up almost immediately. Kenny himself even seems surprised. Once the chant dies down we have the lock up. Ken gets the wristlock and a few slaps right away. Omega gets another wristlock but Yoshi counters with a few forearms but Ken gets in a shot. Headlock by Kenny. Omega sent into the ropes and they criss-cross with leapfrogs and cartwheels before Yoshi gets in the big armdrag. Kenny slides outside to the floor but Yoshi hits him with a sliding kick that sends him into the barrier. Yoshi whips him into the guardrail hard. He tries it a second time but Kenny blocks it and sends him into the ring apron a few times before driving him into the metal barrier. Kenny then pulls up the floor mat and dumps it on Yoshi before scrambling up to the top rope and diving off with the double stomp! Yoshi gets the mat off himself but doesn't roll into the ring until the count of 18. Omega is right on top of Yoshi with a cover but only gets a two count. He picks Yoshi up and slams him to the mat and hops up to the middle turnbuckle and gets a moonsault for another two count. Kenny lands a takeover and a middle rope moonsault for a two count. He pulls Yoshi into the corner and chokes him with the boot. Chop to the neck and then an elbow by Omega. Kenny whips him into the buckle hard. Kenny tries to charge but Yoshi counters with a kick. He tries to get something going but Kenny stops that with a few forearms. Kenny tries for the piledriver but Yoshi counters that and tries again to launch offense but Kenny ends that with some chops. Kenny whips him into the ropes and tries for a clothesline, but Yoshi ducks it and lands his running blockbuster! We come back from the commercial as Yoshi lands an elbow and then a running elbow in the corner. Yoshi gets a neckbreaker on Kenny and goes for the cover, but only gets two. Yoshi tries for a slam but Kenny gets out of it and they both hit the ropes but Kenny gets in a superkick to stun Yoshi. Kenny gets in a snapdragon suplex and then hits another one!  He deadlifts Yoshi up on his shoulders and gets in the big powerbomb! Yoshi kicks out of the pin, though. Omega is ready to finish him off but Yoshi escapes his grasp and hits a clothesline. Yoshi scoops him up and gets in a big powerbomb into a cradle, but again only gets two. Yoshi slams Omega down and goes up the ropes. He tries for a Swanton but Kenny gets his knees up to counter. Kenny throws a few knee strikes and goes for the one-winged angel again but Yoshi slides out from a roll up to get a two count. Kenny scrambles to get the angel in again but this time Yoshi counters it into a DDT! Yoshi scrambles back up the ropes and nails the senton this time and gets a close two count. Yoshi locks in a neck lock of sorts and Omega has to scramble to get to the ropes. As they get up Yoshi locks in the waist and tries for a suplex but Kenny counters out with some back elbow strikes. The grip is freed and Kenny lands a stepping knee strike right to Yoshi's jaw. Kenny whips him into the ropes but misses the clothesline. Yoshi comes out and hits the axe bomber! He tries for a sleeper hold on The Cleaner and tries for a pin but Kenny kicks out again. Yoshi then picks the cleaner up and looks to get a pump handle slam but instead drops him on his head in a new move called "karma"! He covers and gets the three count! Two big points for Yoshi-Hashi!! He gives a small Nakamura pose as he has his hand raised. Backstage Yoshi says that no one expected him to win over Kenny Omega. People now know he can fight and is not just there to make everyone else look good. Things will change now for him. He's had his new finisher stored up for a while but used it as a surprise for Omega. Studio words from Yoshi as he says that everyone though Omega would win but things turned out differently. He learned his new move in training with the other CHAOS guys and that Okada and Ishii thought the move would serve him well. He did the Nakamura tribute because Kenny beat Shinsuke in his last match and he thought it fitting. He says that New Japan was like a big swamp full of talent. If you didn't fight you would be sunk. He fought hard to get this spot in the G1, and he would keep fighting. In other G1 matches, we didn't see Katsuhiko Nakajima beat Toru Yano and Evil pinned Michael Elgin. So on this first day for Block B, Evil/Nakajima/Honma/Nagata/Yoshi get two big points while Yano/Elgin/Naito/Shibata/Omega have zip. We are onto hour two!  We jump WAY ahead as we are at day 13 (day seven for the Block A guys) of the G1 taking place on August 6, 2016, at the Osaka Prefecture Gymnasium in Osaka! Since we've jumped so far ahead in Block A, here is how the points stand up. Okada: 10, Marafuji/Makabe: 8, Tanahashi/Fale/Goto: 6,  Tonga/Sanada/Tenzan/Ishii: 4 We are greeted by Ishii who pulls up a chair. sits down, and says nothing because he is a bad ass and you know what you're watching. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points) vs. Naomichi Marafuji (8 points) The "ace" of New Japan takes on the GHC Champion of NOAH. Tanahashi has the G1 edge as he has won it in 2007 and 2015. Tanahashi has been having shoulder issues while we saw last week Marafuji dominated Okada. After Hiroshi lost his opener, he lost twice more before pulling out 3 wins in a row to get back in the race. Marufuji enters this with a record of 4-2 so he is still in it as well. Marufuji enters first still with his GHC belt. He is ready to go. They actually acknowledge it this time. Tanahashi comes out next again with no bandage on the shoulder. He honestly looks like he hasn't slept as he seems to just go through the motions and doesn't put as much effort into his entrance. Bell rings and there is a stare down. Lock up and backed into the ropes. Tanahashi gives him a clean break but Marufuji tries for some kicks but Tanahashi blocks them.  Lock up again as Tanahashi gets a waistlock. Marufuji gets inside for the leg takedown and goes for an ankle lock but Tanahashi rolls onto him and gets a leg scissors. He nearly gets a triangle but they break cleanly. Lock up again as Tanahashi gets the headlock. Marufuji shoots him off and gets hit with a shoulderblock. Tanahashi gets a waistlock but Marufuji counters but Tanahashi gets the leg trip and pulls him into the corner and snaps the leg on the post. That escalated quickly. Hiroshi locks in a leglock and cranks on it before letting go. He lands some kicks to the leg a few times. Ace isn't messing around tonight! Back from the break as Tanahashi is standing tall. He slams Marufuji's knee down onto his own leg before going into an Indian deathlock. Marufuji lands a few chops to the chest but Tanahashi isn't breaking the hold. Marufuji gets to the ropes to break. Tanahashi to the apron and goes for the legs whip but Marufuji lands the knee! Marufuji to the apron and piledrives him right on the apron! We skip ahead with both guys back in the ring as Marufuji chops Tanahashi. Whip in but Tanahashi gets the forearm! He lands some elbows and strikes. He gets the big slam and hits the middle rope senton. Cover gets two. Tanahashi goes to whip Marufuji in but Marufuji counters and lands a dropkick. Tanahashi to the apron again and tries to leg whip Marufuji again but Marufuji counters into a dropkick! Marufuji lines up for a dive but it lands awkwardly for both guys as he looked to be avoiding the metal barrier. Tanahashi throws him into the barrier but Marufuji blocks and slips in the ring and catches Tanahashi with a dropkick back in the ring. Marufuji for the cover but gets two. They exchange chops back and forth and both guys' chests are beet red!  Marufuji gets the advantage and begs Tanahashi to chop him some more! Tanahashi gets in the forearms. Marufuji tries a spin kick but Tanahashi catches it and lands the leg whip! Back from the commercial, both guys struggle to get up. Tanahashi misses a knee in the corner and Marufuji lands a step-up knee strike. Marufuji lands a superkick but only gets two.  He tries for sliced bread but Tanahashi counters. He lands a few kicks but Marufuji goes for it again but Tanahashi drives him down with a downward clothesline. Never seen that counter before. Tanahashi gets the german suplex but only gets two on the bridge. Tanahashi lands the slingblade clothesline as he goes up for the body splash but Marufuji lands the mid-air dropkick to the stomach!  Marufuji lands a spin kick right to the face but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin attempt. Marufuji locks up a fisherman's buster but Tanahashi counters into a neckbreaker! Marufuji lands the kick to the face but Tanahashi lands the slingblade! Back and forth action! He goes up and lands the body splash to put him down. He goes right back up and lands the high fly flow to get the three count! THAT was a match!   Tanahashi grabs the mic and says he is finally back in Osaka. He's had a slow start in the tournament but is right back in the thick of it. Studio words from Ishii. He had a reputation of losing and things hadn't gone well. He wants to see how good Okada has become. He had to win though and was willing to knock him out on the outside to win any way he can. Block A: Tomohiro Ishii (4 points) vs. Kazuchika Okada (10 points) CHAOS explodes as it's big bruiser takes on the kingpin and IWGP world Champion. Okada has the edge here as he has won the G1 in 2012 and 2014. Ishii needs a win as he is only 2-4 at this point and a loss here would pretty much eliminate him. After losing to Marufuji on the first day, Okada went on to beat his next five opponents to take the lead in block A. Ishii comes out first and looking to do some damage.  Okada is out next as we get an update on the points of these two. Gedo is out with him. Okada won five in a row leading to this match as if Ishii was behind the 8-ball already. Barnett makes a point that while Okada is on a winning streak, he could be really beaten up and trying to hide it. Bell rings and Ishii stands strong. Lock up as Okada gets him right to the ropes, chest pat but Ishii glares at him. Teammates or not, don't mess around with Ishii. Okada gets a headlock but Ishii hits a tackle and goes for the cover. He lands the short clothesline and goes for the brainbuster early but Okada gets out and goes for the rainmaker. Ishii ducks that and scoops Okada up and hits a shoulder breaker. Okada rolls outside. Ishii rolls out on the other side but walks around. Ishii takes hold but tosses him right back in. Surprise. Headbutt right to the ear. Not a surprise. Chop by Ishii and another big chop. A third big shop! Okada comes out with forearms. he tries to go to the ropes but Ishii gets the scoop slam! Back from the break, Okada is down. Ishii gives some petty kicks to the head. He kicks Okada and lands a chop just to wake the champ up for more fighting. Okada dares Ishii to hit him again!  Okada gets floored by more chops but gets up with some forearms, but Ishii gets in the headbutt and lands chop after chop on Okada. More headbutt to the ear. Okada comes back with forearms but Ishii stops him. Whip in the ropes and Okada gets the boot and then the flapjack. Forearms by Okada. Ishii tries to whip but Okada ducks and gets another forearm. He gets the shotgun kick and goes for the cover but doesn't get it. Okada sends him to the corner and gets a kick and a DDT. Okada gets in an elbow and goes for the cover and gets two. Slam on Ishii and he goes up for the Randy Savage elbow but Ishii gets up and goes for him. Okada leaps over but Ishii grabs him into a backdrop suplex. Ishii drags him to the corner and chops the chest a bunch of times. Okada counters with some forearms and then sets Ishii up on the top turnbuckle. Okada is able to launch his high dropkick and catches Ishii in the chest. Ishii falls off the buckle but something catches and he is hung there for a few seconds before falling to the floor. Okada sends Ishii into the barrier and then lands a running kick to send Ishii out on the bare floor. If that wasn't enough Okada grabs hold of him and drags him over the barrier for a hanging DDT. Okada however, returns the favor from earlier and makes sure to toss Ishii back in the ring at the count of 16. Okada gets the slam and goes up for the elbow and lands it! Rainmaker pose and Ishii jumps up with a chop right to Okada's throat!  Told you, don't mess with Ishii!  He hits the neck again with a chop and a release German suplex. Ishii gets the running clothesline in the corner and gets a powerbomb! Cover but Okada kicks out! Ishii goes for a running clothesline but Okada gets the foot up. Ishii goes for another clothesline but Okada scoops him up and hits the F-5! We come back from an ill-timed commercial as both guys are trying to get up. Boot by Okada and Ishii doesn't care. He lands the headbutt. Okada tries to go for the tombstone piledriver but Ishii isn't going to budge. Okada whips him and tries for the dropkick but Ishii holds on to the ropes with Okada crashing to the mat. Ishii lands his own standing dropkick! He sets Okada up on the buckle. He goes up top and lands the superplex! Cover only gets two! Ishii lands the sliding lariat and cover only gets two!  Ishii gets up and goes for the brainbuster but Okada counters with the knee. Okada tries a strike but Ishii counters but Okada hits the dropkick to the back! Cannonball dropkick sends Ishii down. Okada lands the sliding dropkick. Another and another. A fourth one, cover only gets two as Ishii kicks out! Okada scoops up for the tombstone again but Ishii blocks it by grabbing the knee pad and stomps the foot. He lands some forearms and whips Okada in, but Okada lands the big dropkick! Rainmaker misses and Ishii gets in the enziguri! Ishii tries the clothesline but Okada ducks. He goes for the rainmaker but Ishii tries his own. Okada ducks and Ishii lands the headbutt. He tries again for the Tombstone but Ishii can't be picked up. Ishii scoops him up and lands the tombstone of his own (and damn near kills Okada doing it). He lands the clothesline. Cover only gets two! Ishii lands the brainbuster and scores the win! Two big points for Ishii! Backstage Okada says he got beat. He thought adding Goto to CHAOS would add strength but looks like it wasn't needed. Ishii says that this win keeps the dream alive and that is all he has to say. Studio words as Ishii says that during the match it didn't matter if it was Okada or not. He felt how strong Okada had become as champion. He had barely hung on but got the win. He has to be aggressive in the matches he has left if he hopes to win. In Block A tournament action from this night we didn't see: Tama Tonga beat Sanada, Bad Luck Fale beat Togi Makabe, and Hirooki Goto beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan. So Block A points are: Okada: 10 points, Tanahashi/Makabe/Fale/Marufuji/Goto: 8 points, Ishii/Tonga: 6 points, Tenzan/Sanada: 4 points. Some great action from both shows. While the first hour seemed rushed, the matches were still good. The second hour was unbelievable as both matches delivered. But once again, as I say every year, the G1 shows the weakness of these shows as while the action is good, trying to follow these long points driven tournaments are insane. The announcers do an admirable job keep up with the scoring, but to big of leaps just don't make this format work for it, especially with Jim Ross rambling on about mops and t-shirts. See you next week for more action!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
More action from the G1 26
Hello everyone and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we got a double shot of action as we continue our look at the G1 tournament 26. Last week we took a look at the first night of action from Block A. This week we get our first look at Block B and our second hour looks at some BIG matches from Block A. So let's get things started!

Tiger Mask W photo
Tiger Mask W

Tiger Mask W comes to life again!


Fans treated to two matches
Mar 13
// Soul Tsukino
As Tiger Mask W rolls along in its second season, giving us a lot of animated wrestling action, New Japan Pro Wrestling (Co-Producer of the series) once again featured live action tiger Mask W on two of its cards earlier this month. After two previous shows in October and at Wrestle Kingdom 11, let's see what Tiger Mask W can do this time around.

Strong Style: G1 26 is here!

Mar 11 // Soul Tsukino
Have a look at who made the cut this year: [embed]35623:6147:0[/embed] We start things off with two hours of action from the first night of the tournament and Block A's action from July 16, 2016, along with the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center. So with that, let's get to the action! We are greeted for the first show by Tenzan! Block A: Sanada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi Sanada is Los Ingobernables's killer. He was a dojo trainee at one time who left and trained under The Great Muta instead. He's made a big impact for the group but has an uphill battle here against Tanahashi who has won this tournament in 2007 and 2015. Being the "Ace" of New Japan Tanahashi is probably the man to beat in this tournament. I'm surprised they went with this one first. Cold Skull enters first, by himself. It's uncharacteristic of LIJ but one of the things about the G1 is that New Japan tends to keep these tournament matches to one on one so I'm not surprised here. JR explains the rules real quick during the entrance. Tanahashi is out next with his usual cheers. JR mentions Hiroshi's been out with a left shoulder injury and even missed last month's show because of it. The bell rings to start the match and Barnett mentions that both guys had trained under the Great Muta to some degree. Wonder how that will play out? Despite the injured shoulder, Tanahashi doesn't have it wrapped or bandaged at all. Tanahashi gets a waistlock, Sanada reverses into a headlock. Then he reverses into a full nelson into a hammerlock, and he reverses again-- no slouches here. Sanada goes for the dragon sleeper early and Tanahashi counters out real quick into a drop toe hold. Tanahashi uses a headlock. Shoot off gets nowhere for Sanada as Hiroshi hangs on. Shoot off again but Tanahashi gets the headlock right back on again. Another shoot off the ropes and Tanahashi wins a shoulder tackle. Sanada tries the hiptoss but Tanahashi gets it instead, and Tanahashi goes right back to the headlock on the mat. There's a turnover into a cover try by Sanada but Tanahashi counters. Into the corner, Sanada gets a kick. He whips Tanahashi into the opposite corner but when Sanada charges Hiroshi leaps over the top rope to the apron. When he tries to get back in Sanada gives him a straight kick right to the face! Tanahashi goes outside and Sanada tries to whip into the barrier but Tanahashi reverses. Tanahashi makes the charge but Sanada gives him a drop toe hold right into the barrier and Sanada goes right for the bad arm as he wraps it around the barrier and yanks on it. Back from a break, as Sanada rolls into the ring. Tanahashi gets in at 18 as Sanada gets in some shots on the arm as he kicks and stomps on it. Armbar as Tanahashi gets to his feet and gets some shots in. Tanahashi shoots off the ropes and Sanada wows the fans with two HIGH leapfrogs before delivering a high dropkick. Very nice! With Tanahashi down Sanada locks in a short arm scissors with his legs, but Hiroshi gets to the ropes. Sanada breaks the hold but lays in some kicks on the bad arm. Tanahashi tries to get up but an elbow to the bad shoulder puts him back down. Sanada lays in more strikes as Tanahashi gets up. Sanada whips him into the ropes but Tanahashi comes back with a flying forearm. He drives Sanada down with a slam and goes up to the second rope before landing the senton. A cover only gets a two count. Tanahashi tries the whip but it's reversed. He tries a low dropkick and misses, Sanada tries a standing moonsault but misses. Tanahashi gets in the dragon screw legwhip and then lands the low dropkick to send Sanada outside. He climbs up and delivers the high fly flow on the outside! Don't know who got the worst of that one. Tanahashi rolls right back in the ring and the count is on. Sanada gets on the apron and Tanahashi grabs the leg and gets the dragon screw again! He hits a dropkick to the leg and then another leg whip! Tanahashi goes right into the Texas cloverleaf and locks it in! He leans back hard on it but Sanada nearly gets to the rope but Tanahashi pulls him out. Sanada looks about to tap but he jerks forward and gets to the rope! Tanahashi whips Sanada into the corner but he counters into a springboard dropkick! Back from commercial, and both guys are down. They slowly get up and Sanada lands some forearms but Tanahashi kicks the leg. Sanada strikes the arm again but they go back and forth with forearm shots. They then switch to uppercuts. Hard thrown ones too. Sanada scoops him up and gets a cutter out of nowhere for a two count. He goes for the dragon sleeper but Tanahashi counters the move but Sanada counters that back into the sleeper and locks it in! Tanahashi nearly passes out and scrambles for the rope. He makes it and breaks the hold! Sanada goes up and nearly gets a moonsault but Tanahashi brings his knees up, but Sanada lands on his feet! He tries for a clothesline but Hiroshi ducks it. Tanahashi tries for one and Sanada ducks it. Tanahashi lands a slingblade and then another but only gets a two count. Tanahashi goes for a German suplex and he gets the bridge for two! He goes to the top rope and goes for the high fly flow but Sanada catches him into another cutter! Cover gets only two. Sanada slams him down and lands the snapping moonsault but it only gets a two count. Sanada lands another moonsault and locks in the dragon sleeper again! Tanahashi is screaming and Taps out! Sanada gets two points! What an upset! Backstage Tanahashi is on the floor. He's come back before and says it's all right. He hasn't lost sight of his goals. Sanada says this is just a checkpoint He won against the face of pro wrestling but there is more to go. Studio words from Tenzan. Good pick of host here has he is the more interesting story. He was surprised he identically wasn't in the tournament He tried to appeal to NJPW with all he's done in G1's past but no dice. He was happy his buddy Kojima gave up his spot, but with him initially being left out and him getting on in years, this might be his last go at it. He saw the comments people had online about why he was in and Kojima out so now he has to refute those fans who undercut him. Block A: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan Well, this will be a fight. Ishii is CHAOS's big bruiser. But in these tournaments, he sometimes ends up losing to some guys who are underneath him. Tenzan, on the other hand, is a three-time winner if the G1 (2003, 2004, 2006) but is a last minute replacement after his partner Satoshi Kojima stepped aside (and a hellish public workout) so that his friend could go on into the tournament. He's no spring chicken but he will give you a fight. No beauty contest here! Ishii comes out first as JR mentions Tenzan has been in more G1 tournaments than anyone this year and first appeared in the G1 10 years ago. Barnett mentions that Ishii is a tough draw because if you win or not, he's going to hurt you. Truth to that. Tenzan comes out with Kojima in his corner but I don't expect him to interfere. JR mentions Tenzan's 45 years old. He may be older, but he can still whoop your ass. Back from break, and the bell rings. Both look ready to go as they go right into the lock up. Push into the ropes as they reverse on the other as Ishii gets the chop. They just hit each other a few times as Tenzan gets the advantage with Ishii going down. They start whaling away at each other as Tenzan does his Mongolian chops and Ishii hits forearm shots, but Ishii goes down. A few kicks to the heads as Ishii is into the corner. Big forearm by Tenzan. Whip into the opposing corner but Ishii runs right over him with a shoulder block. he chops right to the throat and a few to the chest and another one right in the throat. Man, Ishii is not messing around tonight. Ishii goes for a suplex but Tenzan tries the block it. Ishii gets it anyway and goes for the cover but only gets one. Ishii kicks him softly a few times to get his attention while yelling at him to get up and fight some more. Tenzan is up and here we go again with the chops back and forth before Tenzan gets a rolling kick! Ishii gets up and more chops for him. Back and front with Mongolian chops. JR jokes that Mongolian chops sound like something he'd have with BBQ sauce. Lariat that knocks Ishii back in the corner. Marty the ref tries to get them out of the corner and Tenzan yells at him before he shoves the ref back. He gets Ishii back down and gets a two count. Headbutt and more chops by Tenzan but Ishii gets in a powerslam. Tenzan pops right back up and delivers a mountain bomb but Ishii is back up. He gets Tenzan in the corner and smacks him around. Big clothesline with more chops and elbows. Jesus these guys are gonna hurt in the morning. Ishii gets the post to post clothesline and tries for the cover but only gets two. Back from break, and Ishii is in control. He lifts Tenzan on the buckle and goes for the big brainbuster. Tenzan's fighting for it and Ishii gets in some elbows before Tenzan gets him down, and he jumps off with his knee to Ishii's head! Cripes! He goes up and lands the diving headbutt to the shoulder and gets a two! Tenzan locks in the anaconda vice! Ishii gets up but Tenzan hits the anaconda buster but Tenzan only gets a two count! The crowd is roaring for Tenzan now. Tenzan goes up the ropes but Ishii catches him and gets a running powerbomb! Both guys are down as the crowd really cheers for Tenzan. They both get up and are trading chops and elbows. Ishii lands a strong headbutt and then run him over with a clothesline-- close two-count. Ishii gets up and hits the running low lariat into a cover but Tenzan kicks out! Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Tenzan escapes. He chops now, and they are exchanging headbutts! You can hear the brain cells dying in this ring during this exchange. Ishii then launches up and gets a swinging kick that connects right to 'Tenzan's forehead! THAT is impressive. Tenzan counters with a strike and sends Ishii down. Tenzan scoops him up and gets a tombstone! Only gets a two count! Tenzan hits the lariat Tenzan hits the scoop slam and he's going up. The big guy lands the moonsault! Cover and Tenzan gets the win and earns himself two points! WOW, that was good! The crowd is cheering for him, and he thanks Kojima at the ringside. Backstage, he says he got his first win of the tournament, and he thanks Kojima. Studio words from Tenzan and he surprises me with how soft spoken he really is. He had imagined a lot of outcomes for him in this match and was happy that people cheered for him. The cheers gave him power. Having Kojima give up his spot so he could enter made him feel like he now represented both of them in the ring. He mentions the summer was a happy time for him and says that team TenCozy will make a run for the World Tag League tournament later in the year. Onto hour two as we are greeted by Marufuji. We are still at Night One of the tournament. Block A: Bad Luck Fale vs. Hirooki Goto *Deep breath* Welp, in life a little rain must Fale. Fale is representing the Bullet Club. He plays mostly a spoiler in these tournaments and is the only time of year anyone really cares about him. Goto, who won this tournament in 2008, representing CHAOS and is determined to win the big one. Fale makes his entrance first and looks about as thrilled as I am for a Fale match. He attacks the ring announcer for some reason as JR mentions his podcast again for the third time in an hour. Goto comes out in CHAOS colors. They mention Goto winning the tournament years ago but hasn't won it since. He's also been in a bit of a slump as well. Bell rings and nothing happens. Size mismatch for this one. Goto goes right for strikes on the big guy but tries for a running shoulderblock. That doesn't work as everyone in the world would expect. Goto pops right back up and goes for the lock up. Fale turns it around and gets a waistlock and a takedown. Goto slips into a reversal and gets a hammerlock and cranks on it. Fale gets to the ropes but Goto goes right back to the arm and gets him down again as Goto locks in an armbar. Again, Fale gets to the ropes. Goto keeps the lock on and hammers the arm a few times. Goto tries for the whip but Fale reverses it into the corner. Goto stumbles out and Fale then just runs him over with a big clothesline and sends him outside. We return from commercial, and Goto is on the outside. Fale tosses him into the barrier.  Again to the barrier hard. A Jim Cornette mention from Barnett as he and JR joke about the metal barrier getting its own t-shirt and gimmick. Fale rolls into the ring as Goto barely gets in at 18. Fale just steps on top of him on the back and then again on his chest. Fale chases the ref onto the apron for nagging him. Big slam from Fale and tries a one-foot cover that gets two. He grabs Goto by the hair but Goto counters with some shots, but a knee to the gut ends that. Goto whipped into the corner and Fale tries for the splash but misses and Goto hits a few clotheslines to get Fale down. Goto gets the rolling heel kick into the corner and then goes up for a top rope elbow. He tries for the cover but only gets two. Goto tries for a fireman's carry but Fale just conks him on the head and down goes Goto. Fale lands the splash and nearly gets a pin. Fale picks Goto up and lands the grenade! Cover only gets two. Fale gets Goto up for the outside edge but Goto squirts out. Fale tries a clothesline but it misses and Goto lands a headbutt. He gets the kick right to the heart. Goto gets the big guy up momentarily but he can't get anything out of it and switches to the sleeper instead! He gets the big guy down. Goto gets him into a dragon sleeper position and drops him with the GTR for the win for two points! Backstage Goto says it doesn't matter who it is or how big they are, he has to beat them all. We come back to studio words from Marufuji. After being on the outside for four years, he felt fans had changed since he last was in a G1. This made him look forward to the audience reaction to him. We see footage from the press conference where Okada says it's just Marufuji so he will have some fun. Marufuji counters that he is no pushover. Since Okada won the belt, he felt the fans had high expectations for him. Okada is one of the best in the world, no matter the organization. He feels Okada is younger but had a lot that he was jealous of. Interesting comment. Block A: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kazuchika Okada DREAM MATCH! For those that don't know, Marafuji is the top dog for Pro Wrestling NOAH and I believe the GHC champion at this point. Okada just regained the IWGP title from Naito as we saw last week. While it makes this match all the more awesome, it seems kind of silly that the sitting IWGP champion is competing for a title shot against himself. Ah well. Okada would have the historical edge here, having won the tournament in 2012 and 2014, but let's see what Marufuji can do. My suspicions are confirmed as Marufuji comes out with the Global Honor Crown title belt. What is noticeable is that JR and Josh refuse to even mention it. I've heard that the relationship between New Japan and NOAH had soured since this match took place, so I wonder if they were told not to mention it. Probably a case more of JR not knowing what the belt meant. Marufuji's outfit reminds me of Ernest Miller's get up during his brief run with the WWE a decade ago. Rainmaker Okada comes out in his usual pomp with Gedo in tow, but again, I don't expect him to interfere in this match. We are back from a break and the bell rings. There is a big stare off to start. JR mentions that with Marufuji we need to watch out for his bicycle knees, his slice bread from the corner, and something called an emerald flosion. They go for a tentative Greco-roman lock up a few times but then just lock up. Okada goes behind but Marufuji counters. Okada gets the arm but Marufuji rolls out into a reversal. Okada counters back but Marufuji gets the headlock. Okada gets shot off and hits Marufuji with a shoulder strike. Okada gets a waistlock and immediately goes for the rainmaker clothesline but Marufuji ducks it. Marufuji tries for his bicycle knees but Okada avoids that. They give each other a look as the crowd cheers. They go back to a basic lock up into the ropes and Okada just gives him a pat on the chest but then lay right into him with a couple of strikes. He lands a snapmare and gets in the sliding dropkick. Marufuji gets up but right into a neckbreaker and a two count. Chinlock by Okada. Marufuji gets to the ropes for the break. Elbow to the neck by Okada and into the buckle. Marufuji gets the reverse on the whip. He comes in but Okada scoops him up on the buckle for the high dropkick, but Marufuji grabs the arm and snaps it over the top rope! Okada yells in pain and rolls right to the outside. Marufuji is like a shark that senses blood and goes right after the arm. He wraps it around the barricade a few times and then takes Okada's hand and sandwiches it inside the metal gate and squeezes on it with his foot. Hey, this guy isn't an angel. Marufuji rolls into the ring as the count gets going and Okada makes it to the apron. Marufuji strikes him a few times and drags Okada in the ring. He locks in an armbar but Okada gets his feet on the ropes for a break. Back from the break as Marufuji gets an elbow to the face! Marufuji replays him with a strike. Marufuji lands another chop to the chest and Okada goes down in the corner. Okada is really hurt. Marufuji wrenches the arm on the rope and lands a few elbows. Okada stands up but Marufuji gets the jumping elbow in the corner. Marufuji goes for something else but Okada gets the backdrop. Okada with a few clotheslines and gets a back elbow. Lands another into the corner and then a DDT on Fuji. Cover gets two. Okada slams him and goes up or the Randy savage elbow. Marufuji is right up and makes the charge but Okada just jumps over the top of him. He turns right into a massive clothesline that shotguns Okada right out of the ring. Marufuji leaps over the rope and lands right on the hurt arm. He snaps the arm on the apron and gives him a straight jacket around the ringpost. Marufuji tosses Okada back in the ring and locks in a wristlock before he just stomps on the arm. Marufuji lands another kick to the arm before locks in the Fujiwara armbar. Okada crawls and gets a foot on the ropes. Marafuji lands an uppercut to the elbow. Marufuji uses some chops and tries a whip in but Okada reverses and gets the flapjack. He gets an elbow to the face by Okada. Then Marufuji uses a chop. They get in each other's face as Marufuji is chopping the hell out of Okada's chest-- elbow to the gut and another chop. Marufuji hits a dropkick and Okada tumbles to the floor. Marufuji launches over the ropes and to the floor again! Back from the break, as we are getting down to the wire. Marufuji goes to whip him into the barrier but Okada reverses it. However, Okada turns around and doesn't see Marufuji blocked himself from hitting the barricade and snuck back onto the apron. Okada gets back in the ring and doesn't see Marufuji come in with a huge slingshot launch into a dropkick! Marufuji covers but only gets a two. Marufuji gets a neckbreaker in but Okada counters. He goes up for the elbow but he uses the bad elbow. He is in pain. Okada gets him up and tries for the rainmaker but Marufuji hits a superkick! He hits another one and then goes for Sliced bread in the corner but Okada counters it. Marufuji is stuck backward on the top turnbuckle as Okada hits the high dropkick. He gets Marufuji down from the ropes and goes for the tombstone but Marufuji counters with a superkick. Marufuji goes for something but Okada lands the dropkick and flattens Fuji. Marufuji lands the bicycle knee and flattens Okada! He hooks him up and lands the Emerald Flosion and gets the pin! WOW! That is unexpected! Talk about a dominant performance. Okada has to be carried out as he was pretty much whipped like a dog in this one. Marufuji talks to the crowd now and says it's been a while since he's seen them at a G1. He thinks Okada is a wonderful wrestler He is the one to conquer this summer. Backstage Okada is disappointed. He will get him back for this. Marufuji says the reason he won was that he kept it his own style. It was a wonderful atmosphere. It's only the first match though so there is a lot more to do. Studio words as he says Okada was a better wrestler than he imagined but he wasn't able to give 100 percent after the arm injury. He sent a message to all the other wrestlers in New Japan that he won't be forgotten. He thanks the fans for cheering him on and taking the pressure off him. The first hit is the most important. He will spread his name all over Japan. Not a bad showing. In the first hour Sanada showed his inexperience a bit I think but him getting the big win over Tanahashi was something. I thought the Tenzan and Ishii match was great! The perfect story and opponent for Tenzan here, In the second hour the Goto match with Fale is about as I expected. I don't think anyone thinks Fale will even contend for this title. The Okada/Marufuji match was the real surprise of the night. I figured it would move much faster but not only was it a slower pace but Okada just got his ass whipped in this match. Even Barnett commented that Marufuji was never n any real trouble. Good shows tonight. In a match from night one we didn't see, Togi Makabe won over Tama tonga so that means that after night one Makabe, Sanada, Tenzan, Goto, and Marufuji all have two points while Tanahashi, Ishii, Fale, Okada, and Tonga all are zip. But we have a lot more action to go. And before I take off for this week I'd like to give an update to the news last week with Tamaoki Honma getting injured after a hangman DDT from Jado. Since then we have been given an update saying that Honma suffered an injury of some sort between his C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck. He has since recovered movement in his arms and legs and his breathing has been stabilized. He isn't being moved quite yet but it will take quite some time for him to fully heal. Best of luck to you big guy and let's make the kokeshi happy again! See you all with two more hours of action next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The best of the best starts here
Hello everyone and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we start off the ultra important G1 Climax Tournament 26. We will see the best of the best in NJPW face off and...

Strong Style: Makin' it Rain

Mar 04 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35609:6135:0[/embed] We are greeted by Okada! Before we get to the action we get highlights of the IC Title Ladder match between champion Kenny Omega and Michael Elgin (subbing for the injured Hiroshi Tanahashi). Seriously, we just get some highlights of these guys falling off the ladder on the mat or the floor. We see Omega bounce off a couple of tables and then we see Elgin climb the ladder and win. WHO thought reducing a 40-minute ladder match to a short highlight package should be drug out in the street and shot. Multiple times. That match could have been made into its own episode. We get some studio words from Okada as he says that the crowd had an effect in the last match as they cheered for Naito despite his rampant cheating. He hated the way Naito would disrespect the IWGP belt, but since he wasn't the champion he couldn't do anything about it. IWGP Title: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada This is the big rematch. A few months before Naito won the Title from Okada with help from the other members of Los Ingobernables, especially the debuting Sanada. The match touched off a war between the goobers and CHAOS and we finally get the rematch. Okada makes his entrance first in his usual fashion with him making it rain.  I'm not seeing Gedo walking around, odd. The champion comes out next. JR likens Naito to Steve Austin because slobber knocker. He is wearing a skull mask and a white suit. Kinda looks like Skeletor going to a disco. The other members of Los Ingobernables are with him. Naito goes right up to NJPW owner Kidani sitting at ringside and surprisingly shakes his hand. That was odd. For Naito anyway. We come back from break and both guys are still in their gear. We get the full introductions of both men. Naito gets booed here really badly. Okada solidly has the crowd behind him. Both take their time here, especially Naito. Okada gives Naito flack for having all the other guys at ringside. Naito goes for it and sends the others to the back. Let's see if they stay away. Bell rings and they stand there letting the crowd chant. Naito slowly walks around and Okada is ready to go. Lock up with Okada pushing into the ropes. Naito reverses and gives Okada the pat on the chest. Lock up again as Naito gets the advantage but Okada turns that around into a wristlock, Naito turns it into a hammerlock and Okada reverses it and they get into the ropes. Okada goes for the chest pat but just whips Naito into the ropes through a few leapfrogs and reversals that ends with Naito in a relaxed pose on the mat. We take another commercial as they are stretching for time. We come back as Naito is hanging around outside the ring as Okada just waiting in the ring with his hands on his hips. Naito comes in with a few kicks to the gut and a few punches. Naito gets a snap mare but Okada turns around and lands a low dropkick. Naito in the corner and Okada reverses and sets him up on the buckle and lands his high dropkick to send Naito crashing to the floor. Naito gets up and starts walking away, so Okada follows him. Naito rakes Okada's eyes and then slams him on the rampway. Naito walks back further and then lands a running dropkick! Okada rolls down the entrance as Naito strolls into the ring. Okada gets in at 16. Naito tosses him right back outside and whips him into the metal barrier. Okada gets whipped again into the barrier right in front of Kidani. Naito tosses him back in the ring and lands a stomp before locking in a cravat. Okada gets into the ropes. Naito lands an elbow on the side of the head a few times on Okada. Snapmare and Naito locks in a chinlock.  Okada gets up and counters with a few elbows but Naito breaks him down and hits a dropkick and then a second low dropkick. Lax cover gets two. Stomp on Okada. Okada pops up and lands a few elbows but both guys elbow each other. Okada gets a straight jacket neckbreaker. Clotheslines by Naito gets Okada in the corner but Okada with a boot. Okada counters by just running over Naito and Naito rolls outside. Okada follows him out with some punches but Naito counters and Naito walks back up the ramp again. He looks to be leaving. Naito turns around and Okada dropkicks him!  Okada drags Naito back down the ring and lands some shots for good measure. Naito bleeding from the mouth a bit. Okada tries Red Ink, but Naito counters and lands a neckbreaker. Naito tries the charge into the corner but Okada gets the feet up. Naito catches the feet and turns it into a neckbreaker. Naito goes up and lands a dropkick but gives a crap cover and gets a two count. Naito tries the German suplex but Okada counters into a flapjack. We are back from break. Both guys down. They struggle to get up and Okada lands the back elbow into a DDT. Okada lands an elbow right to the face. Cover gets two. Okada goes for Red Ink but lands some elbows for the fun of it before locking in the hold. Naito struggles and eventually gets to the ropes and Naito breaks. Okada gets a slam and lands the Randy Savage elbow. He signals for the Rainmaker but Naito counters into the urinagi. Hiroshi Hase mentioned as JR remembers the match with Hase and "A partner" against the Steiners in 1991 and Barnett tries to say the partner was Kensuki Sasaki without sounding like a dick. Naito gets his corner trip and dropkick combo and he is booed! Naito gets and inverted atomic drop into an STO and tries for the submission but Okada rolls it into a pin attempt and Naito lets go. Naito spins around and gets Okada in the Koji clutch but Okada gets to the ropes for the break. Naito picks him up and puts Okada on the top buckle and lands the rana off the top! Naito goes for Gloria but Okada blocks it. Naito gets in an uppercut and spits on Okada and Okada slaps him for that and Naito lands the spinebuster. He goes for Gloria again but Okada blocks it and turns it into driving Naito right on his head into the mat. We come back from ANOTHER break. Both guys down again. They start hammering each other on their knees with elbows and forearms. Naito is SMILING. They stand up but keep going back and forth with these stuff forearm shots. Okada falls down first and into the corner. Naito tries the charge but catches him and slings him to the mat. Okada lands 4 low dropkicks.  Okada scoops him up and Naito slips out and hits a slap and then an enziguri. Naito tries for Destino but Okada counters. He hits a rolling kick and then gets in another high dropkick that nails Naito and he lands on his head! Okada tries the tombstone but Naito counters. Okada tries it again but Naito has a hold of the waist. Naito lands a reverse DDT and Naito goes for Destino but Naito reverses it into a tombstone! Okada hits a Rainmaker. Cover attempt and it only gets two! Wow! Okada recovers first and pulls Naito up and lands a German suplex and tries for a rainmaker but Naito counters with an attempt for Destino but Okada counters into a Rainmaker. He hits it again. And for a fourth time! Naito is out and Okada covers and gets the three count. we have a new champion! As Naito is helped from the ring Okada gets the belt strapped around his waist once again. We take our last commercial and come back as Okada has the mic. He goes into his "3 things" shtick as he gives Naito his props and says that is what fighting for the title in New Japan is like. Nest he says he will win the G1 tournament coming up. He doesn't have a third thing to say but he is on another level  Now that he's champion he wants to take the company global. He poses around the ring for a bit as JR and Josh talk about what lays ahead for the new champion. Backstage Okada says it was tough. He again gives credit to Naito for doing it by himself and having a great match. Naito says that everyone must be happy he lost, but it is all his plan. Studio words as Okada says Naito has grown as a wrestler and that the crowd reaction didn't affect him. He says that even though they weren't there, that with this victory, CHAOS stopped Los Ingobernables' momentum. The main event match was very good but taking the ladder match and reducing it to clips is bullshit. That match was actually long than the one shown here and easily could have been an episode of its own. Boo on the producers for doing that and hope it doesn't happen again. So, with the ladder match they've been building up to not really being shown, the hell with it. Here it is for YOU to watch HERE. Next week we come back with TWO hours of action! See you then!   
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
IWGP Title on the line
Welcome once again to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are back in Osaka and the Osaka-Jo hall for Dominion 2016. We cap off our look of this big show with the IWGP title on th...


Strong Style: Aerial Assassin vs Time Splitter

Feb 25 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35591:6105:0[/embed] We start off with a greeting from Kushida! IWGP Tag Titles: Guerrillas of Destiny vs. The Briscoe Brothers The Guerrillas are brothers Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga from the Bullet Club. The Briscoes are Mark and Jay from Ring of Honor. Dem Boys are pretty much getting the title shot because they are ROH's best team and copromotion and all that. The entrances of both teams are cut down as we get everyone in the ring. It's camo night as the Briscoes have on hunting camo and the sons of Haku have on red urban commando gear. Mark and Tama start as Mark goes for a clothesline and Tama just knees him in the guts and pounds on him. Tama backs him in the corner with a headbutt and kicks him some more. Welp, didn't expect a technical showcase in this one.  Tama tries to whip Mark into the other corner but Mark leaps over Tama and meets him with a big chop. Mark keeps chopping away sending Tama into the corner and Mark tags Jay. Jay comes in and lays in some boots before standing on Tama's throat. Jay6 gets him up and lays in some European uppercuts as JR talks about the Briscoes being Chicken farmers in Delaware. Barnett has chickens so he respects that. Jay hits Tama a few more times before Mark comes back in and gives us a little Redneck Kung-fu with a crane kick to a fallen Tama. He puts Tama on the middle ropes and launches some crossface forearm shots before he straight up punches Tama on the nose. Mark whips Tama in but Tama turns right around and does his weird running around avoidance counter as he tags Tanga Roa while nobody notices. Roa comes in and plants Mark with a huge clothesline. Roa picks up mark and shoulder blocks him right in the corner before laying in some punches and yells at the ref. "This is a striking contest"-JR. YA THINK?! Tama tags back in and lays in some more shots on Mark. He whips Mark into the ropes but Mark makes a tag before ducking Tama's clothesline and answering with a jawbreaker. Jay comes in and runs over Tama with a big clothesline. Jay makes the cover but only gets a one count. Jay delivers a headbutt and an elbow as JR and Josh get bored and talk about the upcoming matches. Seriously, guys, this is a one-hour recap show, not a pay-per-view. Knock it off. Jay chucks Tama outside and then pulls off a suicide dive through the ropes!  Roa goes to the floor to go after Jay but Mark runs and delivers a dropkick to him through the ropes! We jump ahead a little bit as both Briscoes are in the ring with Tama and they go for the Doomsday device but Roa trips up Mark on the buckle. Tama slips behind and delivers a reverse spinning neckbreaker on Jay. Tama rolls over and tags Roa who scoops Mark off the top turnbuckle into a fireman's carry. Tama comes in and hit the combo neckbreaker Samoan drop. Roa goes for the cover but only gets two. He gets up and sets up Mark in the powerbomb position as Tama comes off for a super blockbuster! He goes for the cover and Jay saves it at two! Tama goes outside and Jay soon follows. Roa turns right into a missile dropkick by mark and sends Roa flying back into the buckle. Mark hits a fisherman's bomb but the cover only gets two. Mark rolls over and tags Jay who comes in and delivers the jay driller! Cover only gets two. Jay sets up Roa for the Doomsday again but Tama pops up to stop Mark. Mark pushed Tama to the floor and goes up. He hits it! Jay makes the cover and gets the three count! We have new champions! As the Briscoes celebrate in the ring, Yujiro Takahashi and Hangman Page come running out and attack them. Jay gets tossed out to the floor and Page puts a noose around Mark's neck and tosses him over the top rope. They hand Mark there for a bit before letting go and he flops to the floor. Page makes sure to go out and get his noose back and JR bitches about saving his gimmick or something. NEVER Openweight Title: Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuyori Shibata This feud started months back when Shibata got into a war of words with Nagata, Nakanishi, TenKoji. Shibata then took it in the ring and beat the other 3 guys of the previous generation and after one of the matches kicked Nagata down. They had a match and Yuji beat Shibata for the belt, bringing us to this rematch. Shibata enters first and he has his business face on as he marches to the ring. Nagata comes out with TenKoji and Nakanishi in his corner as he represents the 3rd generation. We skip some stuff and cut right to the bell ringing. Nagata gets a big chant and they stand off in an MMA style stance. Both guys launch kicks but they don't land. Greco-roman lock up goes nowhere with Shibata getting out. Lock up again as Shibata tries a low kick. Lock up again and they get into the ropes Nagata backs off and Shibata drills him! Nagata with a kick to the head, Shibata answers back with the same! Shibata with a high knee and a snapmare into a chinlock. Shibata already tries for an arm breaker but Nagaya turns him over and tries for a toehold. Shibata reverses into a cross armbreaker into a triangle choke. They get into the ropes for the break but Shibata gets him in the corner and nails him. Shibata gets a hammerlock and locks him in Nagata's own armbreaker!!  Shibata locks up the arm and snaps back with it before laying in the kicks and stomps. Nagata ain't going for it though as he stands up, but Shibata drills him in the face with a forearm. Nagata answers back with a kneelift that takes Shibata down. Nagata gets some kicks into Shibata on the canvas but Shibata is like "Hit me more!". Another kick sends Shibata down. Nagata lays in some forearms and he gets a facewash. He tries for the exploder but Shibata blocks. He reverses the whip and gets Yuji in the corner and hits the hanging dropkick. Man is that sweet to watch. Shibata with the half hatch suplex and a cover for two. Nagata gets up and now they are just laying each other with forearms. Back and forth and not holding back. Yuji with a face kick and hits the exploder but Shibata gets right back up and hits two Germans of his own! Shibata first up and kicks the arm and then the guts. He kicks Yuji down in the corner. Shibata runs across the ring and gets another kick to Yuji's arm. Shibata gets him up and tries for the Octopus but Yuji is fighting it and gets to the ropes, but Shibata gets in the rear choke. Yuji gets to the ropes and Shibata kicks him in the ribs. Shibata gets a suplex on him with a bridge but Yuji gets up. Shibata tries for the PK but misses. Yuji gets up and gets the armbreaker on Shibata and his eyes roll back. Shibata fights and gets to the ropes for the break. Yuji kicks him right in the elbow joint for that. Yuji gets him in the corner and is kneeing him right in the chest. The ref is trying to break it up as Yuji gets a high knee to the chin and a backdrop suplex but Shibata gets out of the cover! Yuji hits a brainbuster! Yuji hits a PK of his own! Shibata is knocked stupid. He tries for a side suplex but Shibata blocks. Yuji counters but Shibata grabs the rear choke. Yuji tries a shoulder throw but Shibata stays on it. Yuji tries and armbar but he can't get it! Nagata is going out! Shibata releases the hold and hits the ropes. PK lands! Shibata makes the cover and gets the belt back! They stare each other down and Shibata bows to him in genuine respect. Yuji raises the champ's hand as both generations got to feel what the other is capable of. Back from commercial now as we get some studio words from Kushida. He says Will has a lot going for him from their previous match against each other. He felt proud of the tournament final. He called Will a champion as a way to express how he felt about the competition in the tournament.  IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Kushida vs. Will Ospreay This was covered last week, but here is a quick refresher. Ospreay was recruited to CHAOS by Okada himself, with the goal of Will winning the Jr. Title for the group. He fought his way through the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament and as we saw last week, beat Taguchi in the finals. This is his payoff for the victory. Ospreay makes his entrance first as he is wearing Union Jack colors for this match. He has the BOTSJs trophy with him as well. Kushida comes out and you can hear the distain from JR about the Back to the Future thing Kushida does. I swear Jim Ross is becoming more of a parody of himself with every gripe and moan he does during these shows. Anyway, both guys have a stare down before backing into their corners. We come back from commercial as the bell rings for this one. They take their time coming out of the corner. Lock up goes right to the ropes as Will fakes a punch but pats Kushida on the chest.  They go right into a lock up and Will gets the wristlock but Kushida gets the wristlock and Will reverses out. Kushida goes for a single leg and gets an ankle lock. Oh lord, Taguchi is on commentary. Wonder how that went. Probably needed subtitles even for the Japanese audience! Will gets in a headlock and a takeover. Kushida reverses and rides him before going back to the ankle. Kushida gets the surfboard and Will counters with a barrel roll and gets pin attempt but only two. Will with a facelock but Kushida counters with a wristlock.  Kushida gets an inverted atomic drop and a dropkick before getting the snapmare into the low dropkick. Will gets up and lands the rana and goes for a second but Kushida holds on and kicks him right in the arm. Will rolls outside for a bit to walk off the pain and Kushida goes right out after him but they jump right back in the ring. Kushida goes right for the hoverboard lock! Will counters into a suplex but Kushida grabs the armbar into a bulldog! Pin attempt gets two and Kushida gets in the short arm scissors. Will gets his feet on the ropes. They get up and Kushida lands some arm kicks but Will counters into a spinkick. Kushida sends Ospreay into the corner but misses the charge as Will goes to the apron. Will lands a springboard forearm to send Kushida out and Will lands a cartwheel cannonball. Back inside Will gets a standing corkscrew that doesn't land right but gets a two count. Will lands a diving forearm and gets Kushida tied in the corner with the headtuck but he slips out and kicks Will right in the arm. He lands a round kick to the arm again. Short kicks to the face only wake Ospreay up and they start in with forearms. Will goes for some offense but Kushida sends him flying outside. Kushida goes up the buckle and lands the cannonball to Ospreay on the floor. Kushida rolls in and gets ready to strike as Ospreay rolls in at 19. Kushida strikes with his missile dropkick. Kushida tries for a moonsault but Ospreay gets the knees up. Back from commercial as both guys are trying to get up. Kushida lands kicks to the arm but Will counters with a bunch of short kicks. Will gets Kushida up and tries for a powerbomb but Kushida counters down the back into a sunset bomb. Gets a two count. Kushida cranks the arm over the should but Will counters into a moonsault and then leaps up to the buckle for another one but lands weirdly on his feet and doesn't do much. Pin attempt only gets two. Will stuffs the head in the buckle and lands the kick. Ospreay goes to the apron for the springboard but Kushida is smart and rings into it making Will miss. Will tries a punch but Kushida counters. Kushida winds up for the baseball punch but Will counters with a headbutt to the jaw. Never seen that from him before. Will tries for the C4 but Kushida counters into a triangle! He transitions to the armbreaker. Will gets to his feet and muscles him up for a fireman's carry. Kushida counters as he tries for the wristlock. Ospreay tries for a Styles clash but Kushida blocks it. Will turns it into an inverted lung blower instead. Kushida is hurt. Ospreay goes up and lands a big splash. The cover only gets two. Will lands the twist kick and goes for a second one but Kushida grabs the arm! He turns it into the double wristlock and cranks it in! Ospreay taps out! Kushida retains the belt! Both are understandably exhausted. Will is upset as he rolls out of the ring and starts to head back, but turns around and thinks about it before getting back in the ring. Kushida greets him and they shake hands before Kushida collapses from exhaustion and Will leaves. Backstage Will is really upset., He says he visioned capping off this run for the British fans with him winning the belt. Kushida says that he has been really challenged in his last few defenses but that he is taking things to a new level. Studio words as Kushida admits he was desperate to keep up with Ospreay's offense and that it kept him thinking. He was afraid of letting down on his promise to take the Juniors to the next level but that the crowd got him through it. He has never felt the help from the fans that much before. He was disappointed in not winning the tournament but he is still the champion.     Two out of three ain't bad. The tag title match just did not work for me. The Briscoes do better facing guys who can actually wrestle with them and the Guerrillas are not that team. This was not the place for that match. The other two matches though were really good! Yuji Nagata still showing he can have good matches and Shibata was the right guy for him. The juniors match was great, even with Will missing some of his moves. Good show all around. Next week we get the main event of Dominion as Naito defends the belt against Okada. See you next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Two belts on the line!
Greetings mat fans and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are traveling to Osaka (waka laka party time!) to the Osaka-Jo hall for Dominion 2016. Our first look at this BIG card has three titles on the line so let's get to the action from June 19. 2016!

Strong Style: Super Juniors Finals!

Feb 18 // Soul Tsukino
We kick things off with an intro from Will Ospreay! Satoshi Kojima/Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega/Bad Luck Fale Well, this is a bit random. The feud here is with Omega and Elgin over the Intercontinental Title. Omega and Fale are members of the Bullet Club, and Kojima is there for some reason. Elgin and Kojima come out first and are ready to go. We cut right to the Bullet Club on the outside with a trashcan, a ladder, a double ended mop, and Chase Owens. The club gets in the ring as just as they are announced the jump Elgin and Kojima from behind before the bell even rings. Kenny and Elgin go outside as Kojima and Fale are now the legal guys. Kojima tries a headlock and a shoulder block and that's a bad idea. He finally gets Fale down with three shoulder blocks, but Fale just pops right back up and runs Kojima over like a tank. Kojima rolls over and tags Elgin immediately. Big Mike goes up top and delivers a flying shoulderblock to bring the big guy down. Kenny comes diving in and Elgin catches him and gives him a suplex for that idea. Elgin gets in some forearm shots on Fale but when he goes for a running forearm, Omega trips him from the outside and Elgin falls to the mat and Fale drops a big elbow on him before trying for the cover. It gets two. Omega drags Elgin outside and climbs up on the table to drop the ladder and himself onto Elgin. Fale and Kojima start fighting on the other side of the ring and they go right into the crowd. Meanwhile, Omega is screwing around with the announcers at ringside and as he turns around Elgin fires off a scissors kick right to the face! Elgin roils right in the ring and Fale as somehow the ref gets knocked down. Fale stands on Elgin in the ropes as in the background Kojima is trying to revive the ref. Fale blocks the ref and Omega chokes Elgin out with his t-shirt. Kenny tags in and starts twirling around a double headed mop. As the Ref just kinda looks at him, Fale is choking Elgin out on the buckle in the corner. Kenny drops the mop[ and hits a sledge hammer (not literally) shot to Elgin's back. Omega hits a shot to the neck as JR once again brings up Steve Williams. I like Dr. Death too JR but GIVE IT A REST! HE'S DEAD!. Elgin gets sent into the buckle by the beard. Omega starts choking Elgin with his boot in the corner. Kenny struts around a bit and walks right into a shot by Elgin. Mike lands another one before Kenny answers back with a forearm to the chest. He then launches a loud chop to the chest but Mike answers right back with one of his own. Mike lands another one and Kenny goes right for the eyes. Kenny scoops Elgin up and gets an O'Conner roll and leaps right to he second rope. He tries a moonsault but Elgin moves and Kenny lads on his feet. Kenny charges but runs right into a boot by Elgin. Fale charges down the apron and runs over Mike with a clothesline. Fale is tagged in and he scoops up Elgin but Elgin slides out the back. Fale drills him anyway and Mike falls into the hands of Omega. Fale tries for the running splash but Elgin moves and Kenny goes flying off the apron right into the barricade. Fale turns around and gets an enziguri kick right to the head. Elgin crawls over and tags Kojima. Satoshi comes into the ring and immediately lays into Fale in the corner with his rapid fire chops. Omega comes in with the trash can lid and accidently clobbers Fale with it before Kojima lays in the rapid fire chops on Kenny! Kojima goes for the big chop but Kenny uses the lid as a shield and Kojima's hurt his hand. Kojima recovers quickly and fires Kenny into the opposite corner and lands a big forearm shit. Fale comes thundering down but Kojima sidesteps him and nails Fale with a big forearm of his own. Kojima calls for his big clothesline but he runs into Fale's death grip as he goes for the grenade. Kojima gets out and hits a Kojicutter on Fale. Crowds rallies for Kojima as he tags Elgin and Fale tags in Omega. Elgin comes in and gives a big shot to Kenny. Kenny flies back into the corner and Elgin hits him with a big clothesline. Omega tries the whip but Mike sends him right back into the corner and a clothesline to the back of the head. Elgin gears up for another hit but Kenny hits a superkick. Elgin is like "nope" and runs him over with a discus forearm. Mike goes for a running forearm but Kenny blocks it with a kick but Elgin spins around and clotheslines him. Elgin goes for a cover, but gets two. He picks Kenny up and clotheslines him in the chest, then the back of the head, then the chest, then the back of the head. He shoots the ropes for a big clothesline and Kenny gives him a step up knee to send the big guy out. Kenny gets a running start and SAILS over the top rope onto Elgin and one of the young boys at ringside. Kenny gives a few more shots to the poor young boy as we get a replay of the dive. we come back with Omega grabbing the ladder he had brought out. He sets it up in the ring and climbs it like he is going for a moonsault. The ref comes out and grabs right onto Omega's leg as Elgin slides in and punches Omega right in the guts. Elgin climbs up and Sup-lexes Omega off the ladder!  Elgin crawls over for a cover, meanwhile the ref is throwing a FIT in the ring. like jumping up and down and clenching his fist. He makes the count but Fale comes in and breaks it up. Fale grabs Elgin and goes for the grenade but Kojima comes in to break that up. He clotheslines the big guy out of the ring while Chase is after the ref on the apron . Kenny grabs the ladder and nails Elgin in the guts with it and then drops it on the big guys back. He sets the ladders on the ropes before scooping up Elgin for the One-winged- angel but Elgin slides out and nails Omega. He then scoops him up for a powerbomb and drops him right on the ladder! BY GAWD the ladder is broken in half! That ladder has a family!  The ref turns around with an "oh shit!" look on his face as Elgin grabs Omega and gives him the Elginbomb for the three count. We cut to a little later as Omega grabs the mic at ringside. He says Elgin humiliated him. The ladder match is supposed to be his specialty, so the challenge to have a ladder match for the IC title has been accepted. We get some words from Will Ospreay now. When he first saw the schedule for the tournament he thought it was insane and he was going to have to work for it. He has always dreamed of winning this tournament and when he made it to the finals he was very emotional. He is a fan of guys like Kota Ibushi and Prince Devitt and they have all won the tournament. He admits he didn't think Taguchi would be in the final and guessed it would be Kyle O'Reily. He thought Taguchi was just a joke until he saw Ryusuke's match and realized he could go. He respects Taguchi for what he can do. Best of the Super Juniors XXIII Finals: Rysuke Taguchi vs. Will Ospreay Here is what people came to see! Taguchi is "The Funky Weapon" and a bit of a comedy act. However he is a former Junior Heavyweight champion and is able to put on good match when he isn't acting like a goof. Will Ospreay is a member of CHAOS. He has become quite the international star, but also can goof around in the ring sometimes. Normally you'd think this would be a mid card comedy match, but seeing as this is the finals of the tournament, I don't think they'd goof around that match. Ospreay comes out first in black and gold and with the Union Jack. Taguchi comes out next with little fake flags of something. Tiger Mask and Liger in his corner and Roppongi Vice in Will's corner. Taguchi does the Nakamura pose in his intro. He has the crowd on his side. Bell rings and we are off. Shake of hands and stare down to begin. Kushida doing commentary at ringside. Lockup into the ropes but clean break. They lock up again and Will gets the advantage into the ropes Lock up pushed to the ropes again and Ospreay does the Okada fake punch and clean break.  The crowd starts an Ospreay chanting so even as a gaijin he has his supporters too. Lock up and Will immediately slides into giving Taguchi a hammerlock. Taguchi reaches down and scoops the leg and goes right for the headlock. They get up but Will takes it back to the mat again and gets a brief roll up that gets a one count before Taguchi rolls out but keeps the grip. Will tries to counter with a wristlock but Taguchi puts the headlock right back on. Ryusuke kicks Will's leg out from under him to bring it back down to the mat but Will rolls through for the pin attempt. Ryusuke rolls into the ropes and the hold is broken. They square off in the ring and go for a Greco-roman knuckle lock but Will springs around and gets a takedown on Taguchi. Taguchi spins around on  the mat and rolls back and forth a bit before jumping up and getting the reversal and gets Will into the wristlock. Will rolls through and does his flip-flop back and forth on the mat before jumping up and reversing the wristlock into a takedown that Taguchi counters with a head scissors and Will slips out of that. Taguchi hits the ropes and comes off with a rana. he quickly hits the hip attack to send Will outside. He gets a running start for another hip attack but Will ducks and Taguchi just hangs there. Will goes to hit him and Taguchi jumps into the center of the rings and poses with his arms between his legs and pointing with his ass. Will walks around a bit before coming back inside. Taguchi immediately locks in a headlock again. Shoot off into the ropes and Taguchi hits a shoulderblock to send Will down. Ryusuke hits the ropes again and they trade leapfrogs and dive counters before Ospreay lands a dropkick to send Taguchi outside. Will runs the ropes but cartwheels back into the ring and does his pose before he does Taguchi's pose! Ryusuke takes a bit of a walk but as he gets in the ring Will kicks him right in the face and delivers a body punch as Taguchi goes down. Will delivers some MMA knee strikes on the mat and now we are getting serious. Will delivers a kick and a few chops as he gets Taguchi in the corner. He fires off some more chops and a forearm before locking in a cravat. Will snapmares him over and delivers a low dropkick. Will covers for a two count. Will grabs the wrist and locks in an octopus hold before Taguchi is able to get to the ropes. Taguchi lands three shorts to the gut but Will responds with a shot of his own and a big kick that is caught by Taguchi. Will cartwheels over but as he lands he tweaks his knee and Taguchi immediately hits the low dropkick. Taguchi tries for the ankle lock but will gets to the ropes and the apron. Taguchi smells blood and dropkicks Will in the ankle and off the apron. Taguchi slides out after him and slams Will's ankle into the outside mat three times before he rolls the injured Ospreay into the ring. He grabs Will's leg and legdrops right on the ankle before getting up and just kicking the bejesus out of Will's ankle. Ryusuke drags Will out of the corner and puts a spinning toehold on Ospreay twice before locking in an Indian deathlock and then puts his own leg over Ospreay's head to really put some stank on it. Will is SCREAMING in pain! Taguchi makes it even WORSE by putting on a wristlock on Will's arm. Will smartly rolls and turns it into a pin so Taguchi has to release the hold. Will backs into the corner and Taguchi goes after him. Will comes out with a battering ram headbutt and a couple of shots before Taguchi hits another low dropkick to the bad leg. Taguchi gets Will back in the corner and climbs up. he then gives Will the hip attack ten tens from the middle rope. Will falls down and as Taguchi is posing Will sneaks up behind him and tucks Taguchi's head under the buckle and give Taguchi a side kick right to the butt. Taguchi gets up and spanks his iron ass a few times. guess you just can't hit the Funky Weapon. Will turns around and goes for a kick and misses but goes right into a springboard side kick and takes Taguchi down. Will is in the corner and Taguchi goes for the charge but Will slides onto the apron. Taguchi hits the buckle and Will hits him with a kick. He slingshots in and hits a big forearm shot to floor Taguchi. Will then launches a standing corkscrew and goes for the cover but doesn't get it. We come out of commercial with Will landing some sidekicks to Taguchi. He goes for a third but Taguchi blocks it. Taguchi tries to punch the leg but Will cartwheels and lands a low dropkick to Taguchi. Will actually goes for a rainmaker but Taguchi hits with his ass to counter and gets a roll up on Ospreay for two, but counters that into an anklelock! Will goes for the ropes but Taguchi drags him back in the middle. Will does something really neat as he lifts himself high with his hands and brings his other leg down on his out knee to bring Taguchi close and then drills him with a back elbow to release the hold. Nice!  Will goes for another kick but Taguchi counters it and goes for a waistlock. Will reverses it into a reverse DDT position but Taguchi slides out the back of that and tries for a suplex  but Will counters out of that for a try for a suplex but Taguchi reveres THAT into a spinning bomb! Will is on the middle rope as Taguchi comes over and gives him a stinkface. He then hits some running strikes with the funky weapon before he slides outside and gets a high kick to Ospreay. Will rolls into the ring and Taguchi launches off with a springboard hip attack that sends Will flying out of the ring!  Taguchi signals to the crowd and then comes running into a swan dive over the top rope onto Ospreay! The count starts as Taguchi gets up. both guys are having a hard time getting up. As the count nears 20, Taguchi just nails Ospreay and rolls in himself. Will barely makes it in at 19. Taguchi latches onto Will, and fires off the three amigos suplex but on the last one he gives Will a facebuster instead. Will gets up in the corner and Taguchi goes for the hip attack and Will dives out of the way. Will tries for an attack and Taguchi dodges. Taguchi then gets a reverse powerslam on Will  He does the Nakamura pose, with his own flare added in, and nails a flying hip attack on will and tries for the cover but only gets two. Taguchi goes for the dodan but Will counters into the roll up for two. Will then turns and kicks Ryusuke right in the head with a low dropkick. He then paintbrushes Taguchi in the face with his foot. He goes for a running kick but Taguchi leaps right up and lands a headkick! Ryusuke goes for the dodan again but Will is struggling. Will counters the move into a rana and sends Taguchi into the ropes. He does a cartwheel off Taguchi's chest and sends him over the top rope with a clothesline. Will gingerly runs across the ring and gets in a cartwheel corkscrew over the top rope. He doesn't land much of it and mostly hurts himself, though. Will tosses him into the ring and slowly gets up the turnbuckle. He tries for a 640 but Ryusuke moves. Will lands on his feet but his ankle buckles. Ryusuke goes for the low dropkick but Will leaps over it and comes down with a double stomp right to Taguchi's chest. Will hits a spinning kick to the head but when he goes for a diving back elbow, Taguchi catches him and goes right into the anklelock. Will struggles to get to the ropes but Taguchi keeps pulling him back in the middle. Will stands up but Taguchi hits the dodan! He goers for the pin but only gets two. Ryusuke goes for the kill as he sinks in the anklelock again. Will rolls over and lands some kicks but it doesn't work as Taguchi locks in the hold again! Will counters and gets out of the hold. just as he stands up Taguchi charges in but Will catches him in the C4! Will tries for a cover but only gets two!  Will goes up but Taguchi meets him. Will slides out and tucks the head again, this time landing a kick to Taguchi's head. He sets him up and climbs up the buckle where Will hits the 640 splash and tries for the cover but only gets two! Will hits the hopes and does a backward springboard cutter! He covers and gets the three count! Will has won the tournament! The others come in the ring to help both guys as the crowd is into it and even Kushida at ringside is heartedly applauding. Back from Commercial with Taguchi backstage. He admits he fooled around in the match and he shouldn't have. Stupid. Back in the ring, Will is presented with the trophy. He takes the mic as the crowd is cheering for him. He immediately tells Kushida to come into the ring. He tells him they aren't finished. Okada brought him into CHAOS to win the Junior Heavyweight Belt and that is what he will do. He lays down the challenge. Kushida takes the mic He accepts with a handshake. Will thanks his friends, family, the audience, and those watching on New Japan World. Studio words as Will says it was a dream come true. He says he saw his friends and those he looked up to win this, and now he did. he did it for England and he made history. He wants to win the title and also wrestling at the Tokyo dome at Wrestlekingdom. He tanks the fans as we close out for another  This was amazing! The tag match was all right for what it was, but that matches with Taguchi and Ospreay was really good! They didn't cut much, if anything, from it and it was a great showcase for Will and an example of what Taguchi can do when he isn't being a total goofball. Seak this one out online f you can. totally worth it! Before we go this week, I would be remised without mentioning the passing of George "The Animal" Steele today at the age of 79. Steele originally started in wrestling in the late 60's after he had been a teacher and a wrestling coach. He had his biggest success wrestling for Vince McMahon Sr. in the northeast. He was a top challenger for the WWF title against Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund and even Hulk Hogan, covering a span of about 20 years. He was also a star d7uring the Rock n Wrestling era and even appeared during the attitude era WWF as well. Between his green tounge, eating turnbuckle pads, and MINE, his doll mascot, he created a lot of memories for generations f wrestling fans around the world. [embed]35565:6083:0[/embed] So thank you, George, for all that you gave us over the years. May you rest in peace.  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The finals of the BOTSJs XXIII
Hello again Puroresu fans and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take off from last week as we look at the finals of the 23rd Best of The Super Juniors tournament. So let's go back to June 6th, 2016 and the Sendai SunPlaza for the action!

Strong Style: Bring on the Juniors!

Feb 11 // Soul Tsukino
We open with a greeting from Taguchi! Also, we have the new opening and theme song. Block B: Will Ospreay vs. Volador Jr. Ospreay is the British phenom who is storming around the world and quickly becoming a big star everywhere. Volador is a vet of Lucha Libre and a name south of the border having won a bunch of lighter weight division titles for CMLL. For this match, Volador Jr. is tied with Ricochet and Bobby Fish. If he wins he gets the block. Will Ospreay is just behind those guys in points, but if he wins, he will tie all of them but go to the finals since he would have beaten all three. Will enters the arena first and it is an odd setup. The floor of the arena is small with fans on all four sides of the ring, but only two of the sides have barriers. Volador Jr. enters wearing a red bodysuit (think Deadpool) and a mask, making him look like Rey Mysterio Jr. He takes off the mask when he gets in the ring. JR and Josh explain how things stack up point wise for these guys. Bell rings and as they go for the lock up Will goes low and scoops out Volador's leg. Volador leaps right back up and Will goes for a half nelson but Volador flips through it. A lot of lucha arm drags and hip tosses to start. Volador gets a double rotation on a rana to send Will outside the ring. Volador starts running for a dive but Will slides in and tries for a clothesline but Volador ducks and gets in a rana but Will cartwheels through it and lands a dropkick to send Volador outside. Will then comes off with shooting star press from the apron and lands on his feet! We skip ahead as Will is in the ring and Volador is on the apron, landing a kick to Will's head. Will stumbles back and Volador lands a slingshot body press for a two count. Will stumbles back into the ropes and Volador clotheslines him to the outside. He goes to the apron and lands an Asai moonsault to Ospreay on the floor! Back from the commercial, as both guys are outside on the floor. Will is sent in first Volador gets in a back stabber right into a pin attempt for a two count. Kicked by Volador, Will whips him into the corner but meets the luchador's boots. Volador slingshots him into the corner but Will lands on the middle rope and flies back into a flip into a reverse DDT on Volador! Will goes for the pin but only gets two. Will goes up again but gets caught. Volador goes up and gets a super rana off. That gets a two count. Volador scoops him up and sets Will on the top rope before going up. He grabs Will for the top rope Spanish fly! Will lands on his feet! He nails the cutter and scores the pin! Backstage, Will says tomorrow night his dream comes true and he will be the first Englishman to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Block A: Kushida vs. Bushi These two do not like each other. Kushida is pretty much the standard bearer for the Juniors at this point. He's been the top guy in this division more often than not. Bushi is a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon and a big challenger for the Junior Heavyweight Title. If Kushida wins, he ties for first place with Matt Sydal. Bushi is a spoiler here as he is already eliminated. Bushi comes out first with the goofiest overmask I've ever seen. He looks like a black version of Darwin, the goldfish from The Amazing World of Gumball. Thankfully he takes that crap off to his regular mask. Kushida comes out as JR goes on about the Great Kabuki and Gary Hart. The title is not on the line. Bushi dropkicks him immediately and then hits a suicide dive to the outside of the ring. He grabs Kushida and smacks him against the wall and walks back into the ring. Kushida just rolls in at 19 and Bushi catches him and throws him throat first into the ropes. Kushida outside again as Bushi strolls into the ring. Kushida is gagging and is in at 19 again. Bushi chokes with his t-shirt. Bushi sends Kushida on the top rope Kushida goes to the apron but when Bushi goes for him he nails Bushi with a kick and then a springboard dropkick. He nails Bushi with the inverted atomic drop and then the cartwheel dropkick right to the arm. More kicks to Bushi's arm. Bushi yells in pain. Whip in the corner and Bushi gets a foot up, then the second charge gets a flip kick., Bushi goes up and lands a kick. Kushida counters and hits a flying dive to the outside. Back from break with Kushida in the ring, Bushi gets in at 15 and gets a dropkick as he gets in. Kushida tries a moonsault but lands on his feet as Bushi moves. He goes for the double wristlock but Bushi gets into the ropes. Kushida gives him a kick for that. He tries the wristlock again but Bushi blocks it on the ropes. Kushida just snaps the arm on the top rope anyway. As Kushida comes back in the ring Bushi lands a lungblower! He hits Kushida with a knee to the face and then a swinging neckbreaker but only gets a two count. Bushi goes to the middle rope but Kushida avoids contact and they just start exchanging elbows in the middle of the ring. Kushida just kicks him right in the arm. Kushida goes for the baseball punch but Bushi clocks him with a punch of his own. Kushida hits the running kick to the arm and then goes for the wristlock again but he can't quite get it. Kushida rolls over for a cross armbreaker. Kushida struggles but finally locks in the hold. Bushi counters by starting to BITE Kushida in the leg! Bushi finally shoves the ref down and sprays the black mist in Kushida's face! Bushi goes up and lands the MX (super lungblower) but only gets two!  Bushi goes up top again and hits the MX again! He goes for the cover and gets it! Kushida is out of the tournament! Bushi grabs the belt and looks at it before he blows the green mist on the belt. He grabs the mic and tells Kushida that the Juniors division is not just him. He then makes the challenge for the belt. Backstage Bushi is vexed he isn't going to the finals but he is going to be the next champion. Kushida says this is a stain on his career. We get words from Taguchi. He was motivated since the finals are in his hometown. Last year Gedo bested him after Taguchi acted goofy and Gedo went to town on him. This year he hopes for something different. Block A: Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi Gedo is, of course, Kazuchika Okada's mouthpiece and a member of CHAOS. He usually puts the tights back on for this tournament since New Japan usually needs to put in a few guys to fill out the blocks. Taguchi is the comedy act known as "The Funky Weapon". He can put on some great matches but often times bogs himself down with comedy stuff and excessive use of his hip attack in lieu of actual offense. Taguchi has to win here to win the block or else Matt Sydal wins on points. Gedo is dead last and in a spoiler position here. Okada is on commentary at ringside cheering for his mentor. Gedo comes out and his beard now has become quite epic. He and Michael Elgin should have a beard match. Taguchi seems to have learned nothing as he comes out with a bandana pulled really low over his eyes to mock Gedo again. And just like last year, Gedo kicks him right in the guts again. Sorry, but damn that's stupid. And anyone who gets this reference is awesome. Gedo goes to work as he nails a DDT. Gedo then takes off Taguchi's t-shirt and chokes him with it. Outside goes Taguchi. Gedo tags him with the bell ringing mallet. DING! He hits him again as Red Shoes is looking right at him. Head to the table for Taguchi. Gedo then slingshots him right into the ring post. As the ref counts Gedo goes in and pulls off the buckle pad. Taguchi goes in and gets whipped right into the bare buckle. Gedo tells someone to shut up and whips Taguchi into the bare buckle again. Gedo is nasty tonight. Facelock into a neckbreaker by Gedo. Reverse chinlock but Taguchi gets a foot on the ropes. Gedo takes his time releasing the hold. Taguchi into the bare buckle AGAIN. He tries the whip but Taguchi reverses it. As this is going on JR makes another Bill Watts mention, this time spurred on by Gedo's shoes. Taguchi gets in the Funky weapon as Gedo goes outside. Taguchi comes off the apron with another Funky weapon! Back from commercial, Taguchi rolls into the ring. Gedo rolls in and gets another hip attack. Taguchi gets Gedo on the bottom rope and grinds his ass on him. He hits a running hip attack and another and another. He tries a pin but gets two. Taguchi locks him in and goes for the three amigos but on the third Gedo locks in the crossface. Taguchi slips out and goes for the anklelock in a great counter. Gedo goes for the ropes but Taguchi gets a pin attempt for two. He goes after Gedo but gets a superkick to the face. Gedo for the pin but gets two. Gedo does the rainmaker pose and goes for the rainmaker but gets the hip attack instead. Taguchi goes for the rainmaker (?!) but Gedo ducks and gets a punch to the face. Taguchi goes for the tiger suplex but Gedo counters into a headlock and gets a low dropkick. Taguchi goes for the anklelock but the ref goes down. Gedo gets in a low blow. Gedo goes for the Gedo clutch but Taguchi counters into a backslide and gets the pin! I'll be damned. Gedo throws a hissyfit and JR gets his weekly shot at Twitter in as well. Taguchi, with words backstage, actually apologizes for someone like him reaching the finals. He jokes about being Taguchi-prey. He is ready for Will and winning the tournament. I... have many doubts. Studio words from Taguchi, as he says that doing the parody of Gedo was intentional and was part of his plan. He admits to goofing around a lot lately but he showed newer fans that he actually can go. He also says he is really going to push the joking and see how far he can go with it. Yeah, I don't know about this. Lots of quick action tonight! Although all three matches were clipped to some degree, a lot of that was just guys stumbling back into the ring. JR and Josh even did an admirable job in informing us how things stood with the points for these matches. Fun show and we shall see how things turn out next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Best of the Super Juniors XXIII
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Now that the Wrestlekingdom coverage is over we get back to business. This week we take a look at some of the matches from the Bes...

Strong Style: Wrapping up WrestleKingdom 11

Feb 05 // Soul Tsukino
  Juice Robinson vs. "The American Nightmare" Cody No, I didn't forget Cody's last name. Basically, the WWE is screwing with Cody since he left the company on his terms. They said that even though his father Dusty Rhodes came up with the name, Cody can't use it since he didn't start using it until he came to the WWE. We all know who he is and most people call him Cody Rhodes anyway. Cody decided to turn heel and became the newest member of the Bullet Club for some reason. Maybe he is the backup in case Kenny Omega bolted for the WWE (he didn't). Juice, on the other hand, isn't a guy we see a whole lot on this show. He was a longtime WWE developmental guy as CJ Parker, angry environmentalist hippie. However, he left there because they never did anything with him and were never going to promote him to the WWE. Instead of trying to act like a bigger star than he really was, he told NJPW he wanted to train at the dojo instead. He's kind of a lower card guy who really only gets featured in matches like this when they need a body to fill. Juice is wearing these trunks and knee pads that look like 1968 kitchen decor. Then again he kind of looks like Primo and Epico's hippy cousin. JR goes over Juice's history as he comes to the ring. JR makes a statement that he was trained by Dusty Rhodes. I guess it's kinda true, but he went through the WWE's developmental system so he probably was trained by a lot of other guys too. Cody makes his entrance wearing a leather jacket instead of that odd lined flight jacket he wears usually. Juice offers up a handshake to start and Cody makes the weird gun gesture. Juice doesn't seem to care. Lock up to start as Cody immediately goes for an arm wrench. He puts it on again and then takes Juice down with a pull of the dreadlocks. Ref gives a warning. They lock up again and  Juice gets a headlock. Cody shoots him into the ropes and goes for a hiptoss. Juice counters, and Cody counters with a hiplock that sends Juice over the top rope to the floor. With Juice outside Cody signals for something. He runs and leaps to the top rope for a dive but Juice CATCHES HIM! Belly to belly suplex for Cody! Juice yells something to the crowd and holy gods he has an awful high pitched voice. He sounds like an angry Lord Littlebrook. Juice then runs and hits a cannonball right into Cody on the barrier! Juice seems to have tweaked his knee on that move but they both get back in the ring. Juice goes up top by Cody Charges him. Juice lands on his feet but stumble right into a punch from Cody followed by a Goldust uppercut from the mat. Juice answers with a punch of his own. He lands a few more shots but Cody scoops him up into an Alabama slam. Pin attempt gets two. Cody gets up and pops Juice right in the face before landing some kicks and raking his face while on the ropes. More kicks before he centers his kicks to the back on Juice's knee. Ouch. Cody lands some more kicks and punches before going up and lands a crescent kick. He poses some more as the ref (Tiger Hatori) asks Robinson if he wants to give up. Cody starts an argument with Steve Corino at ringside ad we can actually hear Corino go "C'mon now!". Cody picks juice up in the corner and slaps him right across the face.  He does it again and Juice is PISSED. Juice says something rather dirty before Cody panics and dropkicks Juice right in the knee. Cody goes for the ropes but is met with a Juice sidekick that puts him down. Juice lands some punches and chops before Cody goes to the corner. Robinson lands a clothesline and then whips Cody into the opposite buckle and hits another clothesline followed by a hooking clothesline. Juice scoops him up and drops Cody on both knees, but it is botched a bit. Juice with the cover gets two. Juice gets Cody up in a suplex but Cody floats through it and then chopblocks Juice!  Cody laughs. Juice is able to get back up in the corner and Cody makes the charge. Juice sticks out his foot but Cody catches it. Juice just straight up punches Cody in the face to counter that. "I might like Juice Robinson more if his name was Sauce Robinson. I have a sauce thing going on," said JR. Juice climbs up to the top rope (a bad idea) and goes for the splash but Cody rolls through it and locks Juice into an Indian deathlock. Juice is screaming in pain by finally gets to the ropes. The hold is broken and Juice goes to the apron but Cody is right there to meet him. He sends juice's head into the post and then hits the disaster kick. Cody drags him over the top rope for a hangman DDT and you can see Juice's head make contact. Damn. Two counts only. Cody goes for crossroads but Juice counters it into a snapmare. Cody goes to the ropes and Juice hits him with a clothesline. Attempt only gets two and Juice cusses again! Such bad language from the gaijin tonight. Juice tries to get Cody up for a powerbomb but his leg buckles and drops him. Juice tries an unprettier but Cody counters into crossroads and gets the three count to no one's surprise. IWGP Junior Tag Titles: The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice Bullet Club vs. CHAOS here. Bucks are the champion and Vice won the Best of the Super juniors Tag tournament to get this shot. Nice to see just two teams here instead of four like they do most years. These teams have met plenty of times before so let's see what they can do and still wow the audience. The challengers come out first. Josh retells how he helped train Rocky Romero in catch fights and even MMA. Rocky would be a seven-time champion with a victory here tonight. The Bucks enter next and they have all kinds of gold with them. They are defending the IWGP Jr. tag belts, but they also are ROH Tag champions, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla tag champions, and now have custom made "Superkick Party" tag team belts as well. Have I mentioned I'm not a fan of these guys? They make remarks about the Hardys into the camera because I'm sure the Japanese know what's going on with that. The Bucks get in the ring and start jawing with Vice but Vice ain't going for it and start throwing punches right away. The bell rings and we are officially underway. The bucks try to whip Vice into each other but Rocky and Barreta pull the old dose. However, they miss with clotheslines into the corner. The Bucks try the clotheslines and they miss so Vice lands clotheslines of their own. Barreta picks up Rocky and drives him knees first right into Matt. Then he turns around and clotheslines Nick right out of the ring. The Vice goes for running dives but the Bucks run away and start going up the aisle away from the ring. Vice go after them and get super kicked for their trouble. Not only have I seen this bit from the Bucks before, it was against Roppongi Vice! How original. The Bucks run back to the ring as Vice crawl and struggle, barely getting in the ring at the count of 19. The Bucks immediately toss Rocky over the top to the floor, leaving Barreta behind. Barreta fires off some elbows and kicks but when he goes to the ropes he is caught in a back body drop and LAUNCHED in the air and crashes down. Matt does a running dive feet first through the ropes and catches Rocky on the outside while Nick whips Barreta into the buckle where he goes flying over the ropes and onto the apron. Nick lands the superkick and Matt comes around and pulls Barreta right to the floor. Rocky climbs up to the corner as Matt is tagged in and the Bucks double dropkick Rocky off the apron. Barreta rolls in and Matt goes right to the cover but only gets two. He yells at the ref and then starts in with a bunch of punches. Matt tries to piss of Rocky by doing the DX "suck it" with Barreta hands and sure enough, Rocky just climbs in the ring and punches matt right in the mouth. Rocky goes back to the apron and Matt superkicks him in response. Matt then goes to the apron in Vice's corner and begs Barreta to make the tag. Barreta runs over and drives an elbow Matt's Face. Nick comes in and goes for the knee charge but misses and Barreta nails him with a swinging DDT. As Rocky is struggling to get up to the corner Matt runs in and tries the atomic drop on Barreta. Barreta slides out the back only to get Nick trying the atomic drop and Barreta slides out of that! Barreta tries for the tag but Both Bucks catch him and drive him into the corner. The Bucks go for the in/out double kick but Barreta moves and Nick kicks Matt in the face. Nick dives in to catch Barreta but the big guy slides out of the ring. Nick goes to the apron to kick Barreta but he moves and Nick is hit in the face again!  Matt comes to the floor and goes for another superkick and nails a young boy instead! Barreta gets back in the ring and makes the tag to Rocky who hits Matt with a splash and then hits a rana and then nick comes in ad Rocky misses a few kicks but nails a mule kick to send Jackson into the corner. FOREVAH CLOTHES! Both Jacksons eat clotheslines a few times. they dodge a few and try for the double atomic drop but rock slips out the back and runs them both over with clotheslines. Rocky then goes for a blockbuster but Matt catches him and sets him up for a Meltzer driver. Rocky counters with a rana sending the Bucks crashing together and Nick going down to the floor. Matt turns around as Barreta comes in and Matt gets a double knee before Rocky does a running dive to Nick outside the ring. Barreta sets Matt up for the Vice finisher drop but matt escapes, only to get locked into a torture rack position and Rocky comes off the top for a hard hit. Cover only gets two. Barreta sets him up for the drop finisher again but as Rocky dives, Nick catches him in the air and dropkicks Barreta right into a destroyer flip piledriver. Nick comes in a gets in a high corner knee on Rocky  Both bucks set him up on the top rope for a double superplex but Rocky counters as Nick falls to the floor and Matt falls in the ring. Matt tries for a superplex of his own but Barreta leaps to the top rope at tosses Jackson backward in a German suplex. The bucks get together outside and Berretta goes for the running dive over the rope, but the Bucks move and Barreta just splats on the aisle way in a sickening fashion. Replay shows he hit the aisle way right on his spine. How the hell he could move after that is beyond me. The Bucks go after the lone Rocky in the ring but he comes out swinging and tags both Bucks. They try the superkick but he holds onto the ropes. He ducks a double clothesline and gets both of them in a rana! One of the Bucks tries the superkick but rocky catches it. However, when he tries a move of his own they nail him and he goes down. They give him a low double superkick and Matt gets in a running knee. Matt tries the cover but gets two. Matt picks up Rocky and gets the buckle bomb with the added kick from the apron. Matt hangs Rocky on the ropes and nick gets in an awesome 540 splash.  Can't get the pin though and the audience gives him applause for that. Rocky gets hit with a superkick, a second superkick and a double superkick, but he just won't stay down. The Bucks go for more bang for your buck. Barreta comes out of nowhere to hold Matt on the turnbuckle and Rocky reverses the roll into a backslide and scores the three! We have new champions! IWGP Junior heavyweight Title: Kushida vs. Hiromu Takahashi Not much of a storyline here. Hiromu is a guy who has been kicking around for a while. He was a young boy for New Japan before spending a few years in Mexico and the U.S., mostly under the name of Kamaitachi. After a short run in Ring of Honor, he returned to New Japan as "The Ticking Time Bomb" and immediately hooked up with Los Ingobernales. He made the challenge by licking the belt that was around Kushida's waist and here we are. Takahashi comes out first with his creepy smile and sweet fur coat but is also carrying his regular jacket over his shoulder. I shall forever call you Hiromu "Two Coats" Takahashi. They have these red and black giant inflatable balls bouncing around in the audience that really looks odd for a bad guy's entrance. Kushida comes out with a new entrance video as he is coming to the ring the camera cuts to Takahashi with that creepy ass smile on his face. JR explains that right before this Takahashi pinned Kushida in a tag match, so he knows he can beat the champ. They have a stare down on the apron but Takahashi backs off as Kushida comes in over the top. Kushida goes up the corner to pose during his intro and Takahashi runs up and kicks him right over the top rope to the floor! Kushida scramble as Takahashi lazily goes up the ropes for a dive and Kushida smacks him with the double heel kick to send Takahashi crashing to the floor! Kushida goes up and hits the cannonball on Takahashi to lay him out. The bell finally rings with both on the floor. Kushida rolls Takahashi in the ring and hits him with a good ol' Anderson hammerlock slam. Kushida sets up the arm and stomps right on it.  Kushida shoots him in and gets a hiptoss right into a keylock on the arm. Just noticed Kushida has a heavily taped up right shoulder. Takahashi gets to the ropes for the break. They get up and Kushida lands a stiff chop to the chest. Takahashi tries a chop but Kushida answers that with a knee to the gut and a couple of elbows to the back of the head. Kushida tries to whip Takahashi into the corner but Takahashi slides right out of the ring. Kushida follows him as Takahashi gets back in and hits the ropes with Kushida on the apron. Takahashi goes over the top and NAIL Kushida with a sunset flip right to the floor! SPLAT goes the time splitter! Ref doesn't even try to count as he is outside asking if Kushida is okay. He is very slow getting up. The ringside doctor is now looking at him. Meanwhile, Takahashi is sitting cross-legged in the ring trying to get feeling back in his arm. Kushida rolls in slowly and Takahashi comes over and starts laying in the boots! Stomps and kicks now before he just swats the champ's head a few times. Kushida stands up only for Takahashi to hit him with a superkick! Lax cover only gets two. He picks up Kushida in a fireman's carry but the champ wiggles out of it near the corner. Takahashi turns around and charges but gets an elbow to the face and then Kushida flatliners him face first in the ropes. Kushida is awake now as he runs in with double chops and then a back elbow. He gets Takahashi down and hits his cartwheel dropkick. Kushida lands those nasty sidekicks of his as he gets three in on the sore arm. He tries a whip but Takahashi reverses, only to come out with the back spring elbow. He goes to the ropes again and tangles with Takahashi. He ends up going for the double wristlock but can't get it as Takahashi hits a back suplex and rolls right into a cover but keeps hold of Kushida and rolls him into another German suplex. With Kushida down, Takahashi stupidly goes over and invites Jushin Liger to step in a fight him. He runs down the apron and goes up the ropes as Kushida stands up. He goes for a rana to send Kushida over the rope but botches it and Kushida goes down to the mat while Takahashi bounces off the rope with his back. Kushida slides outside as Takahashi climbs up and comes off with a cannonball that barely hits and he SPLATS on the floor. We come back from the commercial as both guys are trying to get up. Takahashi tosses Kushida in the ring and goes up the buckles again. Kushida gets up and Takahashi comes off with both knees. He lands right into a pin attempt but only gets two. Takahashi gets him up in the fireman's carry but Kushida elbows out. Take hits a strike but Kushida nails him with the Pele kick. Kushida gets up and falls back to the ropes. Takahashi comes charging in and gets the kick as Kushida goes backward. Takahashi charges and goes for the apron sunset flip again but Kushida backflips out of that and lands a shot. Kushida goes down the ringside aisle as Takahashi goes to the apron. Takahashi flies off but Kushida lands a chest kick and rolls right into the armbar at ringside! Takahashi is tapping but it doesn't count and the ref starts counting. Kushida releases the hold and tosses Takahashi back in the ring. Kushida lays in the hard kicks right to the arm. He tries a third kick but Takahashi catches it and nyaaaahhhs at Kushida. Kushida slaps him for that. Another kick to the arm and another. Kushida finally goes for the hoverboard lock! Takahashi is trying not to quit.  Takahashi is screaming in pain. Takahashi is struggling for the ropes but Kushida pulls him back.  Takahashi gets to his feet and gets a rolls through and scoops Kushida on his shoulders. Kushida rolls through that and gets a victory roll for the pin attempt. Kick out. they get up and Kushida goes for the wrist again but Takahashi counters out only to get met with a spinning elbow to the jaw!  Kushida shoots to the ropes but Takahashi counters that. Kushida leaps up and tries the wristlock on the other arm now. Takahashi struggles but is able to get in an elbow to break the hold. Kushida tries the baseball punch but Takahashi nails him with it instead!  Kushida nails the punch and now they both crumble to the mat. Both guys slowly get up and Kushida goes for a charge but Takahashi flings him backward right into the buckle. Takahashi tries a charge but Kushida hits an elbow. Takahashi sets Kushida up on the buckle and climbs up but Kushida locks in the wristlock on the ropes! Takahashi gets in some body blows to break the grip. He then jumps and spins himself around and brings down Kushida in a victory roll to the canvas. The count gets two. Takahashi picks up Kushida in another fireman's carry but just runs right into the buckle with him. He goes with another fireman's carry and he hits the time bomb! He covers and gets the three count! We have a new champion! Backstage, Takahashi is clutching the belt like Linus clutching his blanket. He has worked hard to get a shot at this belt and it is the reason for being in New Japan. Now that he is the champion the belt will be elevated but he needs a new nemesis. He wants more. More. MORE!  Man. That was an action packed way to end the WrestleKingdom coverage. I mean, the Cody match was a no brainer on who was winning and honestly if you've seen one Young Bucks match you've seen them all, but it was still a fun show. Just to round things off. In terms of Wrestlekingdom 11 action we didn't see in Strong Style, Michael Elgin won the New Japan Rambo by eliminating Cheeseburger, Tiger Mask W defeated Tiger the Dark in a match I covered HERE, and Adam Cole defeated Kyle O'Reily to become the first ever 3-Time ROH champion. Not exactly sure where we go from here, hopefully, to back where we were in December. Whatever it may be, I'll see you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The juniors and Cody!
Hello again gang and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Tonight we take one last visit to WrestleKingdom 11 from the Tokyo Dome. We have both the Junior Heavyweight and Tag titles on the line plus we have an appearance by Cody Rhodes! So once again let's go back to January 4, 2017 for the action!

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Strong Style: Off to NEVERland


WrestleKingdom 11 Continues!
Jan 28
// Soul Tsukino
Greetings, everyone and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take a third look from action from the WrestleKingdom 11 show from the Tokyo Dome. We have the two NEVER Tit...
Sumo Wrestling photo
Sumo Wrestling

Sumo crowns new Grand Champion!


Kisenosato rules over all
Jan 27
// Soul Tsukino
Japanese sumo wrestling crowned a new Yokozuna (grand champion) on Wednesday as Kisenosato attained the highest rank in sumo after winning the Janurary tournament on Sunday.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Strong Style: Thy WrestleKingdom come!


More WrestleKingdom action!
Jan 22
// Soul Tsukino
Welcome once again to another week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are once again back at the Tokyo Dome and WrestleKingdom 11. AXS is doing a special early presentation of the big card from January 4th, 2017 and this week we look at the semi-main event as well as the tag titles are on the line! Let's jump right into it!

Final Impressions: Keijo!!!!!!!!

Jan 11 // Nick Valdez
One of the things I noted back when I first covered the series was how impressed I was by its smooth action animation. Luckily that indeed continued as the season rolled on to its end. As the girls' attacks became more ridiculous, so did the animation. Unlike other sports anime, which only bent physics, Keijo!!!!!!!! often incorporates many flashing lights and colors not unlike ones you'd see in traditionally shonen anime. In the last mini-arc, as sort of a graduation exam from their time at the Keijo Academy (which was only a year long, for some reason), the girls found themselves facing off against a rival academy from the East. This meant the series suddenly found itself in even wackier circumstances than before. This mini-arc presented the best episodes in the series as girls suddenly started using spiritual qi attacks, harnessed wind, and, of course, the absolutely nuts "Gate of Bootylon."  But ridiculous as the visuals were, I found myself not caring about any of it. As was indicated in the first episode, these girls have no character beyond what techniques they use. Nozomi had an interesting motive for joining the sport (wanting fame and fortune, which is pretty atypical for the sports genre) but that was dropped after the premiere. Even when the series slowed down for its brief training intermissions, these episodes felt like filler. Just as how it became a shonen series in animation, it took on some of the worst characteristics of shonen storytelling. The filler training episodes were more about developing certain techniques rather than use the development of those techniques for character growth. For example, Nozomi training to use her signature Vacuum Butt Cannon only resulted in her learning the move rather than have the move be a resolution to a personal problem. It wasn't to overcome any weakness, or something a bit more worthwhile character wise, it was just because. While that's characterization in itself, it's still not strong enough to warrant following this character through the series.  But as you've probably guessed, strong character work isn't exactly Keijo's top priority. That's totally fine, but it doesn't save the show from being hollow. At least it does a few different things toward season end that actually might be interesting additions if/when the show continues. Along with the flashier moves and kookier characters, a bit of characterization is introduced in the final mini-arc. The top keijo player in the rival East school is a girl named Maya. We're given a bit of her background in which she's teased for her inhuman strength until her mother introduces her to keijo (by having Maya break a hole in a bed with her butt), but her anxiety over the sport created a second, more antagonistic personality, Kaya (complete with new eyes and hair color). Her inner conflict (solved within two episodes, on par with the series' rapid pace) ends up an outer conflict against Nozomi and it's a bit interesting. Nothing to write home about, but better than the zero character work than I expected. It's just a shame Nozomi doesn't develop herself as a result. All she gets is a 'Super Saiyan' like mode which helps her win the day. I suppose there's an argument for having a blank slate main character as Keijo becomes more of a shonen-action series, but the best shonen anime give their main characters personalities, if small ones. Yu Yu Hakusho's Yusuke was a brash punk, One Piece's Luffy is blindly optimistic and selfish, and even Dragon Ball's Goku more often fights for himself than others. Then again, those series had time to flesh out their characters. Keijo's hugest flaw is how much it wants to cram into its short, 12 episode run. The series just has too many characters doing things at one time to really focus on anyone. Apparently the season took place over the course of a year, and that year was Nozomi's entire time at the Keijo Academy. That's insane. Because at the end of the season the girls start talking about their love for one another, but there's not enough evidence of this before it's all just dumped on the viewer. Much like taking a hip whip to the face, the series blindsides you with how fast it goes.  It's like butt whiplash.  I may not be interested in Keijo!!!!!!!! anymore, but I'm glad it has its fan base. There are already quite a bit of anime productions littered with fan service, so viewers might as well enjoy the competent one. If you're going to look at boobs and butts, then I fully support looking at ones used as tools and weapons.  I mean, when nipples are hardened to the point where they're used as acupuncture to achieve a "Super Saiyan" transformation, I can see the appeal.  [You can stream Keijo!!!!!!!! on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now] 
Keijo Final Impressions photo
Zoom-a zoom-zoom-zoom and a poom poom
At the start of the Fall 2016 season, as the Japanator staff chose anime to cover, Managing Editor Josh Tolentino warned me about selecting Keijo!!!!!!!!. He told me to be sure about covering this show because I'd have to kee...

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Feast your eyes on WrestleKingdom 11's full card


Japan's Wrestlemania looks awesome!
Dec 15
// Soul Tsukino
It's that time of year again as Japan's biggest wrestling show of the year takes place at the Tokyo Dome with WrestleKingdom 11. Every year New Japan Pro Wrestling brings out it's best matches to give fans all over the world ...

Annotated Anime: Keijo!!!!!!!! episodes 2-5

Nov 08 // Nick Valdez
Before I begin, I'd like to discuss a bit of the discourse I've seen surrounding that first episode. While some (rightfully) declared Keijo was an offensive work, others (also rightfully) defended its parodical content. Neither perspective is incorrect since the women (18 and over, as poignantly noted) do have agency, as they have yet to make a decision for someone other than themselves, but the fan service nature of its production rejects that agency. But as I've noticed throughout the last four episodes, the balance between the two perspectives is thrown out of whack when the girls aren't competing.  For example, episode two and three are a training episodes. As Nozomi and her friends practice to take an elite class entry exam, they train in various techniques. Like most sports anime, Keijo adheres to the training episode narrative (girls struggle before eventually succeeding when they exploit a new technique). But try as it might to take this part of the story seriously, the episode's fan service point of view negates a lot of its attempted narrative work. You see when the girls are competing, there's a sense of seriousness in the work regardless of how ridiculous its imagery gets. The girls may fight each other with their butts and boobs, but they're treated like tools or fists. There's a respect for these girls in the animation when they compete. Shots are composed at wide angles, and they usually don't linger in compromising positions. Yet, in the training episodes, there are several shots dedicated to zooming in on these same body parts with less respect. These "butt figure eights" or Nozomi's constriction suit are shown in lower POVs, emphasizing the girls' assets, instead of reflecting hard work (as you would see in sports anime). Then its a matter of breaking down Keijo's parodical take on sports anime. When does the fan service perspective outweigh the exaggerated comedy? As mentioned, the girls' Keijo battles are definite highlights. Leading to things like "Titty Hypnosis," "Shoryucans," "W-Acceleration," "Vacuum Butt Cannon," and "Cerberus," the flame dog automatic butt attack that literally bites into the other girls. With these moments, we're laughing with the series. And so far, the ratio has been on the more positive end. While the second episode (and one match in episode 4), made the imagery more titilating, the rest of the episodes have yet to do that so far. But the visuals wouldn't be as big of a deal as I'm making them if the rest of the show had anything to work with.  Since Keijo's  personality is entirely derived from its imagery, its characterization falls flat. The girls themselves are, forgive me, two dimensional. The only development each girl received so far is a new technique. and only two of those reveals are relevant to the girl's personality type (i.e. the shy girl talks when her skill is revealed to be dope, the klutz has a butt cushion which helps her accidentally steal victory). The worst part about all of this is I'm forgetting all of their names. That's the trouble with exploitation media in general. You can argue stuff like story and characterization away by simply stating "it's meant to be a joke!" But sexual exploitation is always icky when not subverted by the rest of the production. You need something to say its alright to enjoy its explicit fan service. Whether its humor or some kind of satire, it just needs to be something of importance to elevate its schlock. Otherwise, it won't last long.  The difference between Keijo!!!!!!!! and intentionally exploitative productions (such as Grindhouse or Black Dynamite) is there is still not enough done to elevate its exaggeration. It's slowly making its way toward more fun, but right now it's hollow fan service. I'll even go as far to say that if it were not my job, I most likely would not continue on with this series.  But since I've already invested the time, I will keep hoping something more concrete eventually hits the series. While I still believe Keijo!!!!!!!! indeed succeeds as a fan service delivery system, it has lost that unique sense of fun and confusion I felt after watching the premiere.  [Keijo!!!!!!!! is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now]
Annotated Keijo photo
Get it right, get it right, get it tight
The series premiere of Keijo!!!!!!!! was probably the most confusing anime I've seen this season, and most likely the year. Introducing a world in which busty girls attack each other with their butts for money, I expected the...

First Impressions: Keijo!!!!!!!!

Oct 11 // Nick Valdez
Keijo!!!!!!!! (from here on out, I'm going to refer to it without eight exclamation points) follows Nozomi, an eighteen year old girl (which the episode hilariously points out before the fan service begins in full) who dreams of being a pro Keijo player because they make a lot of money. Keijo is a sport where girls try to knock each other off of floating platforms without using their hands and feet. Which means, of course, each girl's butt is the weapon of choice in this sport. When Nozomi is accepted into an academy for budding Keijo athletes, she meets several rivals who are out of her skill level. Including her best friend, Sayaka, who has a habit of giving herself a swimsuit wedgie before she competes.  At first glance, Keijo doesn't have much to offer beyond your standard "look at these girls bounce around." Once it gets passed its abrasive opening theme and credits (as it feeds almost too much audiovisual information at once), you'll find that it's basically that. The story and characters don't really have any interesting or new characteristics that'll separate them from other offerings. That'll most likely come out the longer the show runs, but at least there are interesting quirks in the dialogue. For one, Nozomi and another main character speak with an accent and Nozomi pointing it out is a cute moment. When Nozomi says something like "Her butt muscles are incredible!" or one girl declaring "Is that a butt that looks like giant boobs?" the story's serious tone wonderfully clashes with the inanity of its visuals as the animation works with the funky dialogue. But thankfully for everyone involved, the dialogue is not the focal point of the series.  The first episode runs us through a typical Keijo match as it flashes back to the mock trial in the academy's entrance exam. And boy does it pop off. Impressively, Keijo shocks with how competently it animates its movements. If you're unaware of its production company, Xebec, just know they're pretty good when it comes to stuff like this. As seen in shows like Shaman King, Tokyo ESP, or its more fan service fare like To Love-Ru, Love Hina, and Maken-Ki!, Xebec is very good at highlighting a character's movements with stuff like squalls (basically when a character moves really fast and wind is shown flowing around them to accent it) and action lines. So as weird as it is to see these techniques utilized on peaches, it's never truly disorienting. In fact, the surprise of seeing it all in such smooth animation put a giant smile on my face. It's a matter of wondering how far the show will go or how intense these girls' techniques are.  For example, when one girl spins her hip around so fast she knocks others unconscious it's sort of the best idea ever. Then Keijo goes and tops itself when Nozomi counters that move with faceplanting right into her bottom because she realized that girl attacks jaws with her butt power. And then it tops itself once more with the booty guillotine! It's one surprise after another as the "sports" part of this anime begins to reveal itself and becomes as entertaining as say, a good match in Prince of Tennis. But the harsh matter is whether or not Keijo will be entertaining beyond these moments. Because when the dust finally settles and we go back into the story proper, it falls back into the same types of archetypes we've seen before.  In the end, I'm not sure if my ironic love has gotten quite to un-ironic level quite yet. This is one of the better first impressions I've gotten from a series this season, however. On concept alone, Keijo!!!!!!!! earns all eight of its exclamation points. But like all surprises, it's impossible to capture that feeling again once you're aware of what's going on. Whether or not Keijo!!!!!!!!! is a fleeting joy will reveal itself over the next few weeks. But at least there is a joy.  [Keijo!!!!!!!! gives new meaning to "headbutt" on Crunchyroll.]
Keijo First Impressions photo
I found you, Ms. New Booty
Keijo!!!!!!!! has both the best and worst first episode I have ever seen in anime. It's most likely one of the biggest surprises of the Fall season merely for its audacity to exist. In a wonderful maelstrom of fan service, sl...

JapanaSeven: The 7 best boys of Kuroko's Basketball

Sep 27 // Karishma Roy
Which Team Vorpal Swords member would you want to go on a date with?   The bad boy : Daiki Aomine [Image credit : deviantart.com]  THE ACE OF THE GENERATION OF MIRACLES. “The only one who can beat me, is me”. He’s cocky, rebellious and indifferent. Watching Aomine in THE ZONE, handling the ball as if it’s an extended part of his body, gave me the effing chills. Like, hell yeah he is unstoppable! The streetball he plays suits his aggressive and I-don’t-need-nobody attitude. Aomine reads a lot of porn and prefers girls with big boobs. Despite his overwhelming talent for basketball, he fits the good-looking but stupid stereotype in terms of academics and his friends call him "Ahomine". He would excel in bed but don’t expect anything more from him. However, you will probably end up catching the feels ‘cause he’s hot and will inevitably break your heart. That’s exactly why he is the bad boy. All you ladies out there, be wise!  Mr. Perfect: Seijuro Akashi [Image credit : deviantart.com] Alright, this dude is an overachiever. Top at academics, basketball, shogi, you name it… it’s his “duty to win”. He captained the Teiko basketball team – leading that bunch of prideful misfits to consecutive victories and earning them the title “Generation of Miracles” must require mad skills. He continues to be the captain in EXTRA GAME. I much prefer Akashi’s real, more level-headed personality when compared to the scary one where he orders everybody around. Although, it was pretty badass how he commanded Seirin players to get down on their knees when he was in THE ZONE. Unrealistic, but badass. And his heterochromatic eyes give him a dangerous but delicious look. Which Akashi do you guys prefer? His real self would be a caring, considerate and chill boyfriend. Bet you he would treat his girl like an empress!  The cool guy: Taiga Kagami [Image credit : picsart.com] The fiercely ambitious and stubborn deuteragonist of the show. He has a short temper and is adorably scared of dogs and ghosts. All you dog lovers out there, will you sacrifice the chance to own a puppy for Kagami? Soz, not me. But for real, this guy easily rivals the GOM players. He is indeed the “The Miracle who did not become one of the Miracles” and is currently the best in Japan after having defeated all of the GOM players. Watching him fight for his team and entering THE ZONE is so damn inspiring. He is the face of determination, the cool guy that everyone loves and looks up to. Now he may be academically atrocious - "Bakagami"- but his family is rich and he makes a mean curry. He has a huge appetite though so he might eat it all himself. Also, look at that smokin' hot bod! For all his confidence on the court, I imagine he would be petrified on a first date.  The lazy foodie : Atsushi Murasakibara He’s 6’10 and loves to snack, especially on sweet stuff!  Ladies, the way to this guy's heart is through his stomach so sharpen up on those cooking skills. If Team Vorpal Swords had an eating contest, who would win it between Atsushi and Kagami? I want to say Kagami but would Atsushi lose to him again? Not sure... He’s childish and has a mean streak. It’s like he needs someone to look up to – in middle school he obeyed Akashi and in high school, Himuro seems to be filling up that role. I think an older woman who can offer wisdom and guidance in life would suit him best. As a player, he’s better at offense than defence as we found out. I’m looking forward to seeing him play at full strength in the EXTRA GAME. How hot was he when pulled his hair back into a ponytail in the match against Seirin!? Phew, more rage please Atsushi! And let’s not forget that crying scene after Yosen was defeated. It was mostly sad but kind of funny - he goes from daddy on the court to baby off of it. The womaniser: Ryouta Kise [Image credit : tumblr.com] To quote Britney Spears, "Oh you’re a womaniser, baby". Kise’s got a pretty face and he takes advantage of it through modelling and flirting with chicks. I find his carefree personality quite charming. He’s the kind of guy who’d act all cute to make out with multiple girls in a club. But when he finds the right lady, I don't think he'll have a problem in committing and settling down with her. As a player, his “copy-cat” ability is quite interesting. The fact that he was able to copy Aomine’s moves shows that he is just as capable of being an awesome player. He can actually copy every GOM member's signature move and although he can’t sustain it for more than 2 minutes, it’s still freakin’ amazing! He’s got so much potential to tap into. The serious guy: Shintarou Midorima [Image credit : gexing.com] Okay, he’s kind of weird. He fervently believes in horoscopes and carries around lucky items from a stuffed bear to a toy frog named Mr. Ribbit. He meticulously files his nails and tapes his fingers. All of this, according to him, is to ensure he does everything within his power to win at basketball games. I guess there is something admirable about this obsession. He's also very smart and his alternate career choice to basketball would be medicine. But I can’t deal with the fact that he believes in blood type compatibility. It’s curious to note that while the blood type personality theory is not backed up by concrete scientific evidence, Japanese people are very big on it. A number of East Asian online dating websites ask for your blood type (Of course, I only know this through a friend). So ladies, if you’re type B or AB, rejoice for you are most compatible with Midorima’s B blood type. The nice but boring one: Tetsuya Kuroko [Image credit : pintrest.com] Ah, the protagonist of the show. “The Gatekeeper”. I’m sorry if some of you are offended by the boring tag but he kind of is, okay. You might miss him on the first date even though he is standing right in front of you because of his “lack of presence”. But Kuroko is a nice guy. He’ll be the one to bring you flowers, write you songs, rescue a cat stuck on a tree, try to cheer you up by being surprisingly funny… typical boyfriend material. As a player, his supernatural ability to pull off misdirection, ignite pass, vanishing drive, cyclone pass etc… is impressive to watch. Kuroko is a symbol teamwork and friendship in this anime and I admire that.  Which player is your favourite? Who would you want as your bae? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Kuroko's Basketball photo
Which player are you crushing on?
Time to face it: we all have an anime boyfriend or two that we fantasise about. Have you seen a beautiful main character eating lunch by himself at a cafeteria and thought to yourself, “Senpai, I’d have made you a...

Weekend Japanatainment - Japanese Sports Edition

Aug 27 // Red Veron
[embed]35218:5801:0[/embed] Japanese Synchronized Swimming to Frozen Synchronized swimming is popular in Japan and even male High School students engage in this sport. There have been movies and TV shows about Synchronized Swimming and it works since it is a team sport that very much emphasizes teamwork and timing. So splash (pun intended) in some drama to a story about a group of people trying to work toward a single goal, and you're gold!   [embed]35218:5802:0[/embed] Japanese Pole Vaulter's Pole gets in the way Read title.   [embed]35218:5803:0[/embed] Slam Dunk anime Opening One of the best sports anime and manga and was once rated as number one manga in the 2006 Japan Media Arts festival. The manga needs a new adaptation, I don't care if they make them all pretty boys just gimme the anime in modern day animation.   [embed]35218:5804:0[/embed] How to make a Sports anime Sports in anime/manga has been a staple genre that has been around for ages and authors have pretty much figured out the formula (or in this video, the MODERN day formula).   [embed]35218:5805:0[/embed] Japanese High School Sports Festival YouTuber SakuraKisetsu, who went to Japan as an exchange student, made a video about her Japanese school's Sports Festival and it looks very similar to what we see in anime, just no hijinks or anything supernatural or would get anyone in trouble in real life.   [embed]35218:5807:0[/embed] Great Baseball Catch Baseball is very popular in Japan for something referred to as America's pasttime.   [embed]35218:5806:0[/embed] Mario at the 2016 Rio Olympics Because NBC in the US is run by clueless executives who don't know how to maximize views and discovery for their Olympic coverage, I am unable to properly embed the Olympic handoff to Japan. Just please click the video to be linked to YouTube so you can watch the very amusing video where Japan's Prime Minister is secretly an Italian plumber who like mushrooms.   What is your favorite Japanese related Sports thing? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
SUPORTSU
The 2016 Olympics are done and the next summer Olympics are in Japan, so every weeb out there will be excited to see the next set of games taking place in the land of the Rising Sun. So this week, I thought it appropriate for...

Olympics? photo
Olympics?

Uh, Japan's Prime Minister cosplayed as Mario for the Olympics


Wait, what?
Aug 22
// Josh Tolentino
No, this is not an article from The Onion. Apparently, it really happened, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did, in fact, emerge from a giant green pipe at the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games, dressed up as ...
Sumo photo
Sumo

NHK World to cover Sumo in English!


Now us gaijin can join the fun!
Jul 09
// Soul Tsukino
NHK World has announced that they will carry English language coverage of top league sumo wrestling on their channel and online.The show, Grand Sumo Highlights will air several times a day on NHK World, and also will be available on the NHK World On Demand  Youtube channel.

Ali vs. Inoki: A look at the Greatest of All Time's crazy trip to Japan

Jun 12 // Soul Tsukino
In the life of a man known for his zany stories, this one may be the craziest. This story starts in April of 1975. Ali was at a party and happened to be introduced to the head of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association, Ichiro Yada. Ali famously said, "Isn't there any Oriental fighter who will challenge me? I'll give him one million dollars if he wins". Almost certainly meant to be another of his bragful boasts, Yada took it more seriously and brought the comment back to Japan with him and to the Japanese media. One person who happened to take notice of the quote was Antonio Inoki. Inoki was one of the biggest name wrestlers in Japan in 1975. He had been a star of the JWA promotion in the 60's and had started his own company, New Japan Pro Wrestling, 3 years earlier where he was the big star. He also had trained with Karl Gotch a famous catch wrestler and grappler. So Inoki wasn't just some goof who made himself the star, he could actually handle himself in a real fight. His combining of Gotch's grappling and martial arts style hand strikes and kicks was what invented "Strong Style" in the first place. When he read about Ali's challenge, he and his investors in New Japan put up $6 million for the fight. It took a while for things to be put together. Ali had fights with American Rob Lyle, Englishman Joe Bugner, The famous "Thrilla in Manilla" fight with joe Frazier that damn near killed him, and Belgian Jean-Pierre Coopman before the fight could be locked down by promoter Bob Arum for June 26, 1976, at the famous Budokan in Tokyo. Between March when the fight was finalized and June, Ali kept himself busy. He had two boxing matches, beating American Jimmy Young and Englishman Richard Dunn. He also got himself involved in some tune-up matches with wrestlers. See, once this mixed match was signed, wrestling promoters all over The United States were tripping over themselves to cash in. The fight would be carried via closed-circuit television (the precursor to Pay-per-view) to arenas around the country. So a number of promoters scheduled their own shows, with the advertised main event being able to see the fight on the giant screen. Vincent J. McMahon's WWWF held the second "Showdown at Shea" card that also featured Andre The Giant vs. Chuck Wepener live there in the arena, and the Georgia territory held an event with both mixed rules matches being shown after a card featuring Jack Brisco vs. Dory Funk jr..  [embed]35089:5686:0[/embed] But I'm getting ahead of myself. Ali had picked up famous wrestling manager "Classy" Freddie Blassie for his wrestling foray and made two stops in Chicago for the promoter (and top star of his own territory) Verne Gagne for two matches. First, he fought jobber wrestler "Sodbuster" Kenny Jay, and then he fought "The Hackensack Mauler" Buddy Wolfe.  [embed]35089:5687:0[/embed] [embed]35089:5688:0[/embed]  He also made a stop in Philadelphia and a taping of WWWF Championship wrestling where he ran across Gorilla Monsoon.  [embed]35089:5689:0[/embed] As you can see, these were all a work. Jay and Wolfe were actually sparring partners for Ali to prepare on how to work a fight. He was having the time of his life. Except no one told Inoki the fight was a work. This is where things get a little tricky. There are two sides of what happened in the 2 weeks or so leading up to the fight. One story has it that the match was going to be a work all along. Supposedly the planned finish was to have Ali accidently knock out the ref. Ali would stand over the ref concerned and Inoki would run up and give him his finisher, the enziguri kick to the back of the head, and knock Ali out. The ref would be revived and count Ali out, giving Inoki the win in his homeland, but having Ali save face since it was an illegal move for the fight and that the ref got knocked down. Supposedly Ali balked at this idea and the fight was made into a shoot. The other story goes that Ali thought the match was going to be a work, but Inoki did not. When Ali and his group went to see Inoki's training and saw him using his deadly kicks and strikes, Ali wanted to know when they were going to go over the finish. When Ali's camp learned the fight was going to be a shoot fight, they panicked and demanded that a bunch of rules was placed on the fight or they would pull out. And according to former world champion Bret Hart who was in Japan at the time, The Black Muslims vowed to kill Inoki if their most visible member got hurt. And although he wasn't linked to them (at the time anyway) the Japanese Yakuza probably had something to say about the fight as well. Whatever the case, Ali's camp wanted several rules to be implemented so that their fighter (and cash cow) wouldn't get killed. The rules included: No grapple/submission holds, No tackles, No kicks unless Inoki had one knee on the mat (eliminating the enziguri), and no dropkicks. No headbutts, No knees below the belt, no kicks above the belt, and no open handed attacks to the eyes. These rules were also not to be made public to protect Ali's image. Basically, they were trying to set up Inoki to stand up and trade punches (and some low kicks I guess) with the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.  Inoki is smarter than that, though. [embed]35089:5691:0[/embed]  As you can see, Inoki literally took the low road and went for the legs with kicks. Ali didn't expect this offense and spent most of the fight avoiding contact.  Ali didn't even throw his first punch until the 7th round. He only threw 6 punches the whole fight. The only bit of excitement for most fans came at the beginning of the 8th round when Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee demanded Inoki tape up his boot because one of the eyelets at the end of his shoelaces had come loose and were digging into Ali's already swollen and bleeding legs. After 15 rounds the match was called a draw. Supposedly Inoki would have won the fight on points but had 3 points deducted after he elbowed Ali in the face during the 6th round. Believe what you will. Fans across the US thought it was a joke and the Japanese fans were pissed (which is an accomplishment considering the usually mellow attitude of Japanese fans). The fallout of the fight was hard on Ali. His legs were massively swollen and he ended up having two blood clots removed from his legs and nearly had to have one amputated when an infection set in. Ali took part in a couple of exhibition boxing matches against doctor's orders and then had his big fight against Ken Norton. He could still punch but his mobility went downhill thanks to this fight and the damage it caused. Inoki on the other had just kept on going. He would have other shoot fights against guys like Willie Williams and even some match that were supposed to be worked matches but ended up going shoot like his infamous fight against The Great Antonio. He would keep on being the big star for NJPW until 1997 and would run the company up until a few years ago. He had a few rounds as an elected politician in the Japanese senate. The fight itself would have its own transformation as well. Considered largely a joke for decades, it wasn't until mixed martial arts became popular that the fight would get another look. Of course,  the details of the rules changes also helped the fight's stature as well. Nowadays MMA experts find the fight to be a huge inspiration fo the sport, and even Inoki's defensive posture during the fight is used a lot nowadays (although most MMA refs would tell the guy to get up after a while). Most importantly Ali and Inoki became friends. All these years later they kept in touch and respected the hell out of each other. Ali was ringside for both Inoki's match with Ric flair in North Korea that drew over 150,000 fans and was at Inoki's retirement match against MMA fighter Don Frye (which really was a work. Frye made a great pro wrestling heel). In the days after Ali's passing Inoki held a press conference to extend his condolences. So while many view this fight as a joke and a lowlight of Ali's magnificent legacy, I'm not completely sold on that. Sure, things came off the rails and the fight itself is hardly any good. But at the same time, he ended up making a lifelong friend and earned the respect of one of the toughest people in the world. How many of use can say that?   Farce? No. It was just another way Muhammad was way ahead of his time. We'll miss you champ.  
Muhammad Ali photo
Mess or Magnificent, you be the judge.
It's now been over a week now since the world lost Muhammad Ali. For a week I've seen all the tributes, all the video packages, and watched the procession through Louisville leading up to the wonderful service where we got to...

2020 Tokyo games photo
2020 Tokyo games

2020 Tokyo Olympics new logo search down to final four


Replacement logo on the way
Apr 09
// Soul Tsukino
At least one of the major issues that have plagued the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo will be resolved later this month as the search for a new logo has narrowed down to four. As we've posted before, The Olympic games of Tokyo h...
Dragonball Z photo
Dragonball Z

The New Day goes Super Saiyan at Wrestlemania 32


Complete with tails!
Apr 05
// Soul Tsukino
Sunday night, World Wrestling Entertainment put in it's annual biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania. The 32nd wrestling event took place from Dallas Texas's AT&T Stadium and was announced to have an attendance of 101,7...
Sumo photo
Sumo

Japanese-born sumo wrestler wins first tournament in ten years


Enter the land of the giants!
Jan 26
// Soul Tsukino
In Saturday's finale of the New Year's Grand Sumo Tournament, history was made when ozeki-ranked (second highest rank in sumo) Kotoshogiku became the first Japanese-born wrestler to win a tournament in a decade. The 31-year-o...
Tekken IRL photo
Tekken IRL

Watch this martial artist bring Tekken's Kazuya to life


Eat it, Evil Ryu!
Jan 10
// Josh Tolentino
Most fighting games may not have an especially strong connection to real-life martial arts, but that doesn't mean they're completely unrealistic or impossible to "do" in meatspace. The trick is in finding the right game to r...
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Pirate Raid: New Japan Pro Wrestling loses major stars to WWE


Big names put in their notice
Jan 08
// Soul Tsukino
In what could end up being the story of the year in Japanese wrestling, several names on the NJPW roster handed in their notices in or around the WrestleKingdom 10 event on January 4rth. During what is NJPW's version of the A...

WrestleKingdom 10 looks to be unforgettable

Dec 30 // Soul Tsukino
NJPW Rumble: Gedo, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi   IWGP Jr. Tag team title: ReDRagon (champions) vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Young Bucks vs. Matt Sydel/Ricochet [embed]34650:5301:0[/embed]   NEVER 6 man title (To crown first champions): Toru Yano & The Briscoes vs The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale/Yujiro Takahashi/Tama Tonga)   ROH Title: Jay Lethal (champion) vs. Michael Elgin   IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega (champion) vs. Kushida [embed]34650:5303:0[/embed]   IWGP Tag team title: Doc Gallows/Karl Anderson vs. Global Bash Heel (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) [embed]34650:5304:0[/embed]   Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito [embed]34650:5305:0[/embed]   NEVER Openweight Title: Tomohiro Ishii (champion) vs. Katsuyori Shibata [embed]34650:5306:0[/embed]   IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura (champion) vs. A.J. Styles [embed]34650:5307:0[/embed]   IWGP Title: Kazuchika Okada (champion) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [embed]34650:5308:0[/embed] On paper, this looks to be a killer show. The big question is can Tanahashi and Okada face each other for the third time main eventing this show (and the umpteenth time at major events) and still knock it out of the park? Chances are good there. A.J. Styles has said that despite fighting a back injury, he will be able to perform on the big stage. If he doesn't reaggravate it, he and Nakamura will have a dandy. Ishii and Shibata is making me drool already. And that the rumble looks like a fun one. So tune in on January 4 (check for differences in your time zone) on NJPW's streaming service New Japan World to see all the action in both Japanese and in English with Kevin Kelly, Matt Striker, and Yoshi Tatsu. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jado, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Japan's Wrestlemania goes down January 4
If you have been following Japanator's coverage of NJPW on AXS TV or are just a fan of Japanese pro wrestling in general, then you are probably familiar with WrestleKingdom. It has become the biggest wrestling event for New J...

Impressions: Kuroko's Basketball Extra Game

Nov 12 // Christian Chiok
A couple of months after the main series has ended, Tadatoshi Fujimaki released its continuation called Kuroko’s Basketball: Extra Game which features Kuroko and Kagami alongside the Generation of Miracles working together as Team Vorpal Swords aiming to beat Team Jabberwock, a street American Basketball team composed of  Nash Gold and Jason Silver, who have extraordinary talents that surpasses the Generation of Miracles, as well as other three nameless players who are on the same level as the former Teiko players. The arc starts off with Jabberwock playing against Team Strky, a team composed of recently graduated third years from Shutoku, Too, Rakuzan, Kaijo and Yosen. After Jabberwock defeated Strky by a landslide, Jabberwock insulted Strky and as well as the entire country of Japan by stating that they are monkeys and they have no right playing Basketball. As that kind of person that really gets involved and engaged with stories, seeing Team Strky get humiliated made me feel a bit hopeless, as if I was part of that setting. I can't say that their arrogance and their need to insult Japanese players really affected me, but it made me dislike the characters from the start. While it may sound contradicting, in cases like Kuroko's Basketball, I consider giving me a good reason to dislike the antagonist a good way to get myself engaged in a story.  Kagetora offended (as well as the rest of Japan, of course), it drove him to form Team Vorpal Swords and scheduled a game against Jabberwock for the following week. As a result, Kagetora had to pay for their expenses as well. Ever since the original series started, I always wondered how well can the Generation of Miracles fare with American players, especially a team that has beaten some professional NBA players. As soon as I read that, I was already expecting them to get crushed, of course, to a much lesser extend compared to Team Strky. Overall, this first chapter was a good introduction on the new set of antagonists. While I think addressing Japan as “monkeys” went too far, and it gave me enough reason to immediately despise the characters, it was still a good way on showing their personalities and more reason to root for Team Vorpal Swords once the game started. Whether its a battle series, sports series or any series that features competition, I consider it important that the antagonists are shown destroying the protagonists' comrades as a way to tease their abilities and power. It may be cliche, but Fujimaki pulled it off right. With Team Strky being annihilated by Jabberwock despite Strky being composed of highly skilled players, plus the insults, it made the anticipation of the main match even harder.  The best part of the chapter was the ending, where all seven players, being Kuroko, Kagami and the rest of the Generation of Miracles met up in the gymnasium to train, as it felt like it was a throwback to their former Teiko days—before they turned arrogant and showed comradery. It was definitely one my favorite arcs in the series. While Kagami wasn’t part of Teiko of course, seeing him with the Generation of Miracles was good fan service.  If you're a fan of the original series and was left with the need of more content, I would definitely recommend that you read Extra Game. The first chapter so far starts off well featuring the Dream Team we wanted to see since the series ended.  Naturally, as stated above, before reading Extra Game, it is imperative that you watch or read the original Kuroko's Basketball series. 
Kuroko photo
Make It Flashy!
Ever since emerging myself into the wonderful world of Anime and Manga, I’ve being a fan of many sports series such as Hajime no Ippo, Captain Tsubasa, Slam Dunk, and Prince of Tennis. One of my rece...

2020 Tokyo Olympics photo
2020 Tokyo Olympics

New sports may debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics


Baseball, bowling, Wushu on the list
Jun 24
// Soul Tsukino
The International Olympic committee (IOC) announced that it has narrowed down the list of proposed sports to be added to the 2020 Olympic Games, held in Tokyo. The Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel was tasked with l...
World Cup photo
Eat your way through the games
The World Cup fever is in full swing, so I figured it was about time I highlighted some of the stuff Japan has been producing to celebrate. Sure, you can head on to the mall and grab a hat, jersey, or stuffed Pikachu to show...

WTF photo
WTF

WTF Fridays: Fair fight?


Olympian vs plebeian
May 02
// Hiroko Yamamura
50 vs 3? Sounds good to me!

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