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Strong Style: Block B there (or B square)!

Jun 25 // Soul Tsukino
We start off our first hour going right to the action! Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Goto Yuji hasn't had a great showing either, only beating Honma and Kojima. Goto's run has been much better, with losses from Nakamura and Anderson. Unfortunately, that means that he too is eliminated as in the best case, he would tie against one or both of the guys who beat him. Yuji enters the ring  as Josh talks about how Yuji got him into pro wrestling. Goto comes out once again like the wrestling samurai. Bell rings and the crowd is solidly behind Yuji here. They trade waistlocks to starts into a side headlock down to the mat. Knuckle lock They grapple some more before going into a facelock by Yuji that is countered by Goto into a hammerlock. They pop right back up and go into grappling into the corner where Yuji slaps Goto in the face! Show me what you got Junior! Screw that they start in with the forearms and kicks. Goto blocks a Yuji kick and drives an elbow into the knee. Yuji grabs his ribs from the previous injury and rolls outside where Goto follows him and starts in with some kicks. Goto tosses him into the barrier before bringing him in the ring. Goto gets some more shots in before Yuji lands some elbows to Goto's mouth. Goto just tags him in the ribs to send him down. Goto goes for the cover but doesn't get it. He locks in an armlock and then delivers another shot to the ribs. Yuji tries to get up, but a kick to the ribs ends that. Yuji tries to get back up but more kicks stop that. Goto sends Yuji into the corner and Yuji comes out with a kick! He is trying to fight back but Goto isn't taking it. Back from the commercial. Yuji is landing some forearms now and a running kick into the corner. After two HARD kicks, Goto goes down.  Yuji tries for a suplex but Goto slips out. Yuji dodges an attack but Goto runs him over with a clothesline. He lands a rolling kick into the corner and a bulldog. Attempt only gets two. Yuji tries for the armbar but a shot to the ribs ends that. Goto whips him into the corner but Yuji catches him and suplexes him into the buckle. Yuji then hits a running knee to Goto's face, but Goto hits a suplex and sends Yuji down. Goto runs over Yuji again with a clothesline and then the Ushigoroshi but YUJI KICKS OUT! Goto tries for a suplex but Yuji elbows out, but Goto flattens him again. Goto goes for a suplex but Yuji gets the armbar on! Goto tries for the ropes but Yuji pulls him back in the ring. Goto slowly crawls over and gets a foot on the rope. Yuji gets up and just starts kicking Goto's sore arm. He goes for a waistlock but Goto elbows out. Goto goes for the clothesline but Yuji catches him into the Saito suplex. He goes for another one but Goto knees him in the face and then kicks the ribs again. They trade elbows back and forth. Yuji tries the enziguri but Goto blocks. Goto goes for the clothesline but Yuji blocks. Another Saito suplex and gets the pin! the 47-year old just beat the IC Champion! Satoshi Kojima vs. Karl Anderson Kojima's had a bad run in this tournament with only wins over Honma and Elgin under his belt. Although Anderson is at 12 points, he is mathematically eliminated since at best he would tie with Okada, a man who beat him in an earlier match. Karl comes out first and he has Tama Tonga and Luke Gallows with him. Kojima comes out alone. Bell rings and Karl gets a flying dropkick right off the bat. Anderson goes for the gun stun but Kojima gets out. The action goes outside as Kojima gets in a bunch of rapid shots and tosses Karl back in the ring. He gets a variation of the gun stun on the ropes to Kojima. Kojima sent to the outside. Ref distracted as the outside Club guys start in on Kojima. Kojima rolls in the ring but Anderson slides to the apron and snaps his arm on the top rope. He steps on Kojima's arm in the ring and locks in an armlock as JR mentions Karl was trained by Les Thatcher. Anderson snaps the arm on the top rope and then for some reason tosses a chair in the ring. He pulls Kojima up and delivers some forearm shots and Kojima crumples down to the mat again. Out of the break, Karl locks in a facelock into a suplex, but Kojima slides out. Karl sends him into the corner but Karl misses the charge. Satoshi then goes into his rapid-fire chops with the bad arm. He whips him to the other corner.  Satoshi nails an axe bomber and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. Back on their feet, they exchange chops and forearms. Kojima goes for the discus clothesline but Karl lands an uppercut and a boot to the head. He gets in a running powerbomb but only gets 2! They go to the apron where Karl lands some forearms but gets met with a strike to the head and then a DDT to the apron.  They fight on the outside and then scramble in the ring at 18.  Kojima goes for his cutter but Karl blocks it lands a reverse gun stun. He lands a neckbreaker but doesn't get the count. Karl lands another reverse gun stun but again Kojima kicks out of the pin. He tries for another one but Kojima blocks it with a clothesline and lands his Koji Cutter. Karl stumbles up and Kojima lands a clothesline but doesn't get the pin either. Kojima goes for the clothesline but Karl blocks it. Karl goes for the gun stun but Kojima blocks it and then lands another clothesline and gets the pin! Karl is now officially out of the tournament. We get some words from Ishii. He says Elgin fights with heart and any of his moves can be finishers. He is not like other non-Japanese wrestlers. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin This would the textbook definition of a slobber knocker. Elgin's run in the tournament is a little underwhelming as he beat Nagata, Honma, and Takahashi, and got a forfeit win over Nakamura. Ishii on the other hand, beat Kojima, Nagata, Anderson, and Takahashi... and lost to Honma. Both guys are out so this is just to see who is the toughest. Elgin comes out first as the crowd gives him good applause for a foreign guy. Ishii comes out ready to go. Bell rings and they run right into each other and start trading forearm strikes right away. Shoulderblock goes nowhere and they smack into each other. Elgin is the first to go down but a pin doesn't go anywhere. Elgin lands a boot to Ishii's face. He picks the pitbull and MUSCLES him up for a suplex and holds him there with one hand before dropping him. Pinfall doesn't get it. STRAIGHT punch to Ishii's face. Slam near the ropes and Elgin goes out for a springboard splash! "Like a flying refrigerator." - JR. Ishii fights back and Elgin begs him for a fight. Elgin flattens him with a strike but doesn't get the pinfall. Whip into the buckle and then a charge misses with Elgin then landing a buckle bomb and then a top rope senton. Splat. Pinfall gets 2. Elgin goes for the piledriver but Ishii blocks it. He body drops Elgin over and then gets a belly to back suplex. Ishii lands some chops in the corner and then gets a powerslam, only gets 1. Ishii gets Elgin up and hits a big suplex. Ishii hits a massive running clothesline. The both go for another but smack into each other. Ishii blocks a clothesline but Elgin flattens him and lands a strike of his own into a pin attempt. Back from commercial with Elgin on his feet. Throws an elbow to the head and gets Ishii backed into the rope. He swats Ishii in the head and Ishii stands right up. They trade elbows back and forth and Elgin screams "HIT ME!". They trade hits back and forth. Elgin lands a discus forearm and gets Ishii down. He lifts him from a prone position and suplexes him. That dude is a freak of nature. He holds on but Ishii gets the elbow shot in, but Elgin gets in another suplex. Ishii rolls to the apron and Elgin follows him. Elgin goes for a powerbomb but Ishii blocks it. Elgin lands the dvd on the apron! He grabs Ishii on the outside and gives him the buckle bomb to the steel barrier! Elgin picks him up and drags the dead weight into the ring. He climbs to the second rope and pulls Ishii from the outside apron into a falcon arrow! Ishii kicks out of the pin! Elgin hits a buckle bomb but Ishii lands on his feet. He scoops Elgin onto his shoulders and drops him straight down on his head! Both guys get up and exchange elbows right to the face. Ishii lands the enziguri and then picks Elgin up and puts him on the top turnbuckle and lands the avalanche brainbuster but Elgin is right back up! Ishii lands a clothesline and then lands the low clothesline but only gets two! Ishii goes for the suplex but Elgin scoops him into a powerbomb. He tries for another but Ishii elbows out. Ishii lands a headbutt and then a clothesline but Elgin kicks out. Ishii lands the brainbuster and he scores the win! That was a damn fine match! In the locker room, Ishii actually talks about not living up to expectations?!? Elgin gives Ishii credit for being a bad ass but says they will fight again. In the studio, Ishii says he can't remember large parts of the match. After his loss to Nakamura, the tournament went south and that this year's tournament was a disappointment. Despite the fact that these matches didn't mean anything in the tournament, this show was a lot of fun. The action was good in all three matches and the main event was just as good as I had hoped.  I think Elgin makes an even better opponent for Ishii than say Togi Makabe does. While Togi is a straight up brawler, Elgin can actually wrestle and I think that brings out a better match than just a brawling fight. Good show! And here we go with show 2 as we are welcomed by The Champ, Kazuchika Okada! Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma We already went over Honma's one win in this tournament, finally breaking his losing streak in G1 tournaments at 17 losses. Takahashi didn't do much better with wins over the two old farts, Nagata and Kojima. Needless to say, neither guy is a threat for the tournament. Yujiro comes out with Mao Chan, whomever that is. Here comes Honma! They completely ignore Honma's win over Ishii in talking about his run in the G1. The crowd is chanting for Honma as the bell rings and they are exchanging chops. Honma wins that duel but misses the headbutt. Yujiro tries for a suplex but Honma reverses it and gets the suplex instead. Honma lands some chops and whips Yujiro into the corner and then delivers a bulldog and the headbutt on the canvas. Cover only gets 2. Honma charges in and gets dropped on the ring rope. Yujiro scoops him up  on the top rope and scores the belly to belly suplex. Honma kicks out of the pin. Back from the break as Yujiro goes for another suplex, but Honma tries a counter only to get a clothesline. They finally mention Honma has won a match as he is taken over in a body drop. Honma lands a forearm shot and tries for a clothesline but Yujiro picks him up for the Miami shine but Honma squirms out. He hits the headbutt and then a brainbuster but can't get the pin. He tries for the top-rope kokeshi headbutt and misses, of course. Honma is up first but Yujiro rakes the eyes. He whips Honma in but Honma tries for the torpedo headbutt and misses. Yujiro lands the fisherman's buster but doesn't get the pin. He hits a clothesline but Honma gets up. He tries for a powerslam but Yujiro pushes him nearly into the ref and hits the low blow before scoring the Miami shine and the pin. We come back with some studio words from Okada. He was in great shape heading into this match. He has no qualms about fighting his CHAOS teammate but wondered what Nakamura would do after his elbow injury. Winner goes to the finals: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada Block B boils down to this match. Okada's only loss came to Goto. Nakamura entered this tournament with an injured elbow and lost against Anderson and had to forfeit against Elgin. Even though if Nakamura wins he would tie Okada, he would go on since he would have actually beaten him. Okada is also the IWGP champion, but the belt is not on the line. Nakamura  comes out first in black leather for this one. Okada makes his entrance with Gedo. These two have met before in G1's past and are split 1 and 1. We come back from the break and the bell rings. They stay in the corner and look each other over before we get into it. Knuckle lock goes nowhere. A Greco-Roman lock as Nakamura shoots for the single leg but Okada ends up getting the open guard on Nakamura. They both are back up and circle around. Okada with a wasitlock into a Nakamura armbar. Okada reverses it and Nakamura flips and cartwheels out of it. He gets a side headlock and they get up and into the ropes. Okada feigns going for a chop but just gives some pats on the chest for a clean break. Nakamura runs out and they miss kicking each other and Okada nearly gets the rainmaker but misses that. Nakamura throws a kick and we are back to the takedown as Nakamura ties up with an ankle lock into a headlock. Nakamura  gets a waistlock and then transitions into a near sleeper choke. They go outside as Nakamura sends Okada into the barrier but Okada reverses and sends Nakamura into the barrier and Okada lands a dropkick to Nakamura's head sending him over the barrier. Okada then lands the hanging DDT as we are cooking now. Nakamura rolls in and Okada is right on top of him. He hits a neckbreaker and gets a 2 count. He ties Nakamura up with a heavenly lock. Nakamura gets to the ropes with his foot. We come back from the break. Okada sends Nakamura into the corner and Rainmaker lands a number of elbows before kicking Nakamura down and giving him the good vibrations! The crowd boos that. Nakamura fights out with some elbows but Okada gets the shot in before landing a springboard senton. Okada lands a sliding dropkick right into Nakamura's head. Nakamura rolls to the apron and smacks Okada with a kick and sends him out. He drapes Okada on the barrier and hits a running knee. Okada rolls in and Nakamura lands some kicks before he goes for good vibrations. He rolls Okada out and lands several nasty knees to the ribs and head before a shotgun kick to the face. Nakamura only gets two. They get up into a double facelock and Nakamura goes for something but Okada lands a flapjack. He lands a few elbows and then a DDT. Okada hits a slam and then heads up but Nakamura is up. Okada jumps over Nakamura and then he gets hit. Nakamura lifts him laying on the turnbuckle and lands a knee lift. He lands a head kick but Okada lands the reverse neckbreaker. He picks him up and suplexes Nakamura down. Count only gets 2. Okada goes for the tombstone but Nakamura rolls through and lands a lung blower and a scoop slam. Nakamura tries for the booma ye but misses, only to hop on the middle buckle and lands it! The count is two. He goes for another but Okada trips him into a pin attempt only gets two. Nakamura tries to go up but Okada lands his sweet dropkick to send Nakamura to the floor. We come back from the break with Nakamura on the outside. Okada goes after him and tombstone's him on the floor! Okada rolls in first but rolls right back out and brings Nakamura into the ring. He might pay for that one. Slam to the mat as Okada goes up and lands the Randy Savage elbow. Rainmaker pose but Nakamura counters with a kick. Okada counters but Nakamura hits a knee right to Okada's jaw knocking him flat! Both guys are slow to get up. Nakamura hits a forearm first, Okada counters and we go back and forth. Nakamura goes rapid fire and sends Okada down. Okada goes for the uppercuts but Nakamura lands a knee to the gut and a kick to the back of the head. He hits the running knee strike but the pin only gets two. Nakamura picks Okada up and gives him a dvd. Pin only gets two and Nakamura lines up for the booma ye, but Okada hits the dropkick! Okada goes for the Rainmaker, but Nakamura counters right into a backside but he nails Okada. Okada tries for the rainmaker again but Nakamura gets a wristlock. Okada counters into the tombstone but Nakamura counters into an armlock and into a triangle choke! Okada gets on his feet but sinks back down and Okada submits to the armbar! Shinsuke Nakamura wins! Nakamura  stands up and actually bowed to Okada before Okada rolls out of the ring. The crowd cheers as he is announced as the block B winner. He grabs the mic and says that he has one more match to win. YEAH-OH! Backstage Okada says it is frustrating he lost by a tap out. He wants Nakamura to win and they will wrestle again. Nakamura says bring it on. he gave it his all. In the studio, Okada says it was a memorable match and one of the greatest of all time, even if he lost. He was grateful to take part n the tournament. We get our first mention of Nakamura  leaving as Okada says he will miss him. It won't be the same without him, but he wishes him the best (spoilers: He is doing great).   Both shows this week were fun. While the Honma/Takahashi match was...there, the main event was very good, even with the slow start. A fun two hours that got me ready for the final next week! Next week, another double dose as we look at the Finale of the G1 25!
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Who is going to the finals?
Welcome everyone to Strong Style, Japanator's coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have two shows as we decide who goes into the finals of the G1 25 tournament to face Hiroshi Tanahashi next week. Both ...

Strong Style: Kicking some (block) A!

Jun 18 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hiroyoshi Tenzan who has a little fun with his intro. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Doc Gallows Shibata did all right in this tournament, getting 4 wins (beating Makabe, Naito, Ibushi, and Fale). Gallows, not so much as he only beat Yano and Naito. Not like Gallows was going to win this thing anyway. Gallows enters the arena by himself, which is always a good sign in a Bullet Club match. Shibata comes out in his usual no-frills style of marching to the ring like no one is around him. Bell rings and Shibata drops right to his back in a guard. Gallows goes for him a bit but backs off. Unintentional tribute to the Inoki vs. Ali fight right there. Shibata gets up and grabs Doc's leg and goes right for the figure four! Doc reverses it and Shibata brings it right around. Doc reverses again and they go into the ropes. Shibata lays in with the kicks and goes right into the face washes in the corner. Doc grabs the foot, stands up and tosses Shibata aside like nothing. Doc throws him from the ring and tosses him into the barrier. The count is on as Doc gets back in the ring. Shibata gets to the apron and then gets kicked right in the face! Doc grabs him and chokeslams right onto the apron with all his body weight! Shibata rolls in at 18. Gallows face washes him for some payback Shibata pops up and glares at Doc as they start exchanging strikes. Shibata gets a half hatch suplex and then a chin lock but Doc backs into the corner for the break. Shibata gets the hold right back on. Doc kicks him in the gut and Doc gets a gutwrench suplex. Gallows goes for the suplex but Shibata gets the chinlock. Shibata releases and gets a kick to Docs knee. He doesn't get the pin. Doc gets up and grabs Shibata and lands a powerbomb. 2 count only. Doc goes for something and Shibata gets a surprise triangle choke! Shibata releases and lands a quick kick for a 2 count. Shibata goes for something and Doc clobbers him for it with a kick. Shibata charges again and gets a kick. Shibata charges for the third time and gets kicked! Gallows latches on and gets a double handed Chokeslam for the pinfall! Wow, surprised with that one. Togi Makabe vs. Kota Ibushi Talk about a clash of styles!  Makabe comes in having beaten Naito, Tenzan, Gallows, and Yano but he also comes into this match with a heavily bandaged right thigh. Ibushi comes into this one having beat Styles, Tenzan, and Gallows. We skip the intros for this one. Staredown right at the bell. Jim Ross makes the mistake of keep calling Togi and Toji. Figure that one out. Togi with some hits to the head right to start. Kota counters with FAST kicks. That dude is like lightening. Togi just clubs him and then throws him into the buckle and runs him over with a shoulderblock. Kota starts in with kicks to Togi's thigh. Kota gets a leglock in on the bad wheel and Togi pulls himself to the ropes to break. He stomps on Toki's leg as it looks like Togi's just getting mad now. He gets up and dares Kota to keep kicking. Kota tries a running move and Togi just clotheslines him into oblivion. Right hands by Togi into a northern lights suplex into a pin attempt. He tries a German suplex but Kota counters. Togi tosses Kota into the corner and begins punching him from the middle buckle. Kota slips out and does a Pele kick that knocks Makabe to the apron. Ibushi doesn't let up as he hits the ropes and nails a sweet dropkick sending Togi to the floor. He then runs up and does the Golden triangle moonsault! Back from break, We get a replay of the moonsault. Ibushi tosses Togi back in the ring and lays in with some karate kicks. Togi once again gets up and dares him again. Togi gets some hits in but Kota counters with a kick and a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Kota tries for a German but no go. Togi reverses it but can't get it either. They exchange some swings but Togi finally lands with a clothesline. Togi lands a powerbomb but Kota kicks out. Kota is whipped into the corner and clotheslines. Togi sets up for the spider suplex but Kota has a death grip on the turnbuckle. Togi gets clubbed in the back and Togi gets the suplex but Kota lands on his feet and dives right in on the hurt leg. With his hurt thigh, he is in agony hanging there before Ibushi lets him flop to the canvas. Kota lands a kick and goes up for the phoenix splash and gets it! This match was alright, but not great. I don't know if it was from Makabe's injury or just being too diverse in style but this could have been better. In the studio with Tenzan now. He felt uneasy about entering the G1 this year, but Naito had said he was old and his career was over so he felt more determined to enter. He wants to crush Naito. He thinks Naito has wasted chances with his new attitude. He thinks Naito is still a good wrestler, though, and actually doesn't like facing him. Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan Naito has had a good run in the tournament. He defeated Tanahashi, Styles, Ibushi, Yano, and Fale. That is nothing to sneeze at. Tenzan only managed to get wins over Shibata and Gallows, disappointing for a former winner, even if he is up there in years at 44. Naito comes out first and takes his time coming out in his Skeletor business attire. It should be noted that JR is actually explaining the concept of the G1 DURING THE SECOND TO LAST DAY!  Naito is really taking his time and actually makes for a nice break for me. Tenzan comes out and JR notes that Tenzan has a nasty cut over his right eye thanks to a headbutt from Yano. Tenzan is the reigning NWA Champion here but the belt is not up for grabs. Another point here is made as Naito was once Tenzan's "young boy" or apprentice back in the day so this is personal. Both men are in the ring and we are ready to go but Naito just stands there not moving an inch. Tenzan is getting miffed. You do not want to get Tenzan miffed. We actually go the break and when we come back and the bell rings and Naito is still in his suit. He takes off his jacket and waves it like a matador cape. Tenzan has had enough and just starts clobbering Naito. Naito tries to bail out of the ring but Tenzan follows him out and tosses him into the ring post. Told you. You don't want to get Tenzan miffed. Naito rolls into the ring but rolls right out the other side. Tenzan goes right after him but gets caught with an eye rake and a kick to the gut. Naito then sends him right into the barrier. Naito finally gets in the ring and gets his gear off. Tenzan is pissed. Naito drives Tenzan back out of the ring and runs the ropes only to lay down in the ring. He gets Tenzan in and attacks the big guy's knee. He gets a headlock into a leg scissors and smacks Tenzan in the head! Tenzan gets to the ropes  Naito breaks the hold and then spits on Tenzan. Naito stands on Tenzan's head and poses a bit. He chokes Tenzan on the ropes and when the ref gives him static, Naito threatens the ref. JR and Josh get into a weird conversation about not being able to pronounce "Los Ingobernables" that ends with JR saying Josh was cool. I wonder if these two taped this one at the end of a long day. Naito with a cravat and Tenzan starts punching away and Naito just asks for more. He then uses Tenzan's own Mongolian chops that he is known for against him. Tenzan whips Naito but holds on and drives a headbutt to Naito that flattens him. DAMN.  Tenzan lays in the Mongolian chops and a series of headbutts. Naito SMILES and asks for more! Kicks by Tenzan now and Naito just kinda stares. Tenzan lands another headbutt and a clothesline. Naito reverses and drops Tenzan spits on him then hits a flying dropkick. Tenzan goes to the corner but Naito is right on him as he lands a kick, another kick, and then a dropkick from the apron that leave Tenzan a heap in the corner. He gets a lame pin and then Naito chases red shoes right out of the ring for not counting three. Red Shoes stands outside looking mad now. Naito goes for a German suplex but Naito gets out of it. Naito hits the ropes but Tenzan catches him and brings him over in a slam. RED SHOES KICKS NAITO! He signals for Tenzan to keep beating him up! Red Shoes finally grew a pair. We come back from break as Tenzan hits more of the Mongolian chops and then a spinning kick right to Naito's mush! He locks in an anaconda vice and cranks on it hard! Naito somehow gets up to his feet and escapes. He gets an enziguri and tries for a German suplex. Naito with the atomic drop and then into the code de blanca submission.  Tenzan grabs Naito's hair and delivers a couple of headbutts to the face. Great counter! They both get up and exchange hits and Naito kicks him in the leg before he spits on Tenzan again! Naito goes for the dragon suplex but Tenzan gets out. He misses one clothesline before hitting from the right side into a 2 count. Tenzan with the cobra clutch. Naito struggles and Tenzan falls into the ropes, breaking the hold. Tenzan gets up and delivers a couple of headbutts and then locks in the clutch again but this time, it's the cobra max! Naito struggles hard but passes out! Tenzan schools his boy by spitting on Naito a few times before kicking him right out of the ring. Backstage Tenzan says Naito has no right to insult him anymore. He calls Naito a fool Naito responds saying Tenzan did a good job. In the studio, Tenzan said he was determined not to lose to Naito. He says it was physically tough to do all the tournament matches. He was determined to make it through the whole tournament, even if he didn't win. Not a bad show. The first match was quick but there just wasn't a lot to work with. The second match tired, but it just didn't click with those two. The Main event was really good, especially with the story and the heat magnet that Naito has become. Really entertaining! Let's jump into show 2! We are greeted by Tanahashi, saying this is the 200th episode of "Pro Wrestling Returns" the source of this show. Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano Oh holy merciful gods, please make this one short. Anyone surprised this match wasn't advertised? Anyway. Fale somehow comes into this match with victories over Tanahashi ,Tenzan, Makabe, Ibushi and Doc Gallows. That's kinda scary. Yano, on the other hand, has wins over Tenzan (low blow), Ibushi (hair pull in less than 1 minute), and Shibata (leg lock into a flash pin). We have to watch this match while Yoshi-Hashi sits out on the sidelines? Fale comes out with Tama Tonga. Yano comes out with his entrance video being a commercial for the CHAOS soundtrack CD. He immediately sprays Fale with water and as Fale climbs through the ropes, Yano kicks them to make for a low blow to Fale. The big guy recovers and grabs hold of Yano and just starts wailing on him. Fale picks him up in a big slam and Yano rolls out of the ring. Fale follows him out and clubs him in the back. He takes the DVD Yano was shilling and smacks him with it before Tonga takes it and destroys the damn thing. Fale strolls back into the ring and Yano barely gets back in at 19. Fale picks him up and kicks him to the gut before whipping him from one corner to the other. Yano actually gets hold of the turnbuckle pad and pulls it off. Fale goes for a splash but lands right into the bare buckle. Of course, he just shakes it off. He clubs on Yano some more and tosses him from the ring where Tonga starts in on him. Fale comes out and whips him into the barricade. He then goes for the bad luck fall, but Yano slides out and punches both Club members in the gut. He low blows both guys and ducks back into the ring as the ref gets to 20 and Fale is counted out! Fale gets PISSED but Yano runs for his life! Well, it was there and it was short! In the studio with Tanahashi as he talks about being real beat up coming into this match. His neck is messed up so he can't bridge very well. The winner goes to the finals as he s determined not to lose. To Determine the A Block winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles Both guys are top of the bracket obviously. Styles only losses were to Naito and Ibushi while Tanahashi's losses came to Naito and Fale (SHAME). There must be a winner and whoever does goes into the finals. Styles enters first and by himself thankfully. Jim Ross talks about this being a 28-day series, which is wrong, it was only 19 days. Tanahashi enters with the crowd behind him and air guitars! We come back from the break as the bell rings. Circling around before the lock up and they both are pushing around. They hit the ropes and circle around into the corner. Styles backs off clean but with a taunt. Lockup into a side headlock Styles reverses with a headlock into his own. He gets him down and works more on the headlock. Hiroshi powers out but right back down to the headlock. he powers back up into a test of strength now and Hiroshi gets the headlock. They run the ropes and leap frog a few times before both catching the ropes. They start jawing again. Styles charges and gets taken down with an armdrag into an armbar with Hiroshi's knee on Style's face. They whip each other into the ropes with Hiroshi getting a backdrop on Styles. He whips AJ hard into the buckle. Hiroshi charges right into an elbow but Hiroshi goes out of the ring. He trips AJ from the outside and pulls him to the post where he wraps both knees around the steel to for good measure. Hiroshi climbs in and starts kicking the thighs. Back from commercial as Hiroshi stands on Style's injured knee and then drops an elbow on it. He just lays into Styles with kicks to the knee. Styles gets up and chops Hiroshi. Styles throw Hiroshi into the ropes and Hiroshi tries to skin the cat but Styles chucks him to the floor.  He drops Hiroshi on the metal barrier. Hiroshi climbs in and Styles is right on top of him. He puts Hiroshi in the corner and hits his running forearm. Slam on Hiroshi and lands a leaping knee on the face. Hiroshi gets up and lands some punches. Hiroshi goes to the ropes but Styles nails a high dropkick on him. Hiroshi gets up on the ropes and Styles goes for a running charge. Hiroshi gets a leg up and Styles catches it and drives it down to the mat. Styles immediately starts working on Hiroshi's knee now on the ropes. Hiroshi is in pain as he stands up in the corner but he catches Styles with some hits. Styles backs up and goes for a charge but Hiroshi dives and Styles crashes in the corner. Hiroshi lands an elbow on Styles on the mat. To the corner now as Tanahashi drops Styles with a hit. He tries the flip senton but Styles rolls out of the way. He rolls to the apron and goes for his slingshot forearm but Hiroshi pushes him right off the rope. He climbs the buckle and hits a flying crossbody on Styles outside the ring! Back from the break as both guys are in pain. Hiroshi is up first and climbs into the ring. Styles struggles but rolls in at 19. Hiroshi catches him on the apron but Styles gives a snap on the top rope for that. Styles gets his springboard death drop. Styles rolls out to the apron again and goes for the forearm but Hiroshi catches him. Styles gets out and goes for a clothesline but Hiroshi catches him again and hooks him for an arm trap German suplex. Tanahashi goes for the pin but Styles just makes it out before the 3. Styles hits a jawbreaker. He tries for a kick but Hiroshi hits the dragon screw leg whip. Styles tries to get up in the corner and Hiroshi comes flying in with a splash and takes out Styles and the ref! Styles gets in a low blow and then goes for the Styles clash and Hiroshi hits him low! Payback. It hurts! "It's good AJ has three sons, because the rest of the story is he will have no more"- Jim Ross. The ref gets back up as both men exchange forearms. Styles with some kicks to the knees. Both go down to their knees and start hitting each other. They will themselves up and just keep going. Styles goes rapid fire but Hiroshi slaps him in the face to stop that cold. Styles goes to the corner and Hiroshi goes for him but Styles grabs hold and gets the calf killer! Hiroshi is screaming now but won't give up! Hiroshi scrambles and gets to the ropes but he is hurt! Styles keeps trying to get Hiroshi from the ropes and Styles throws the ref around. Hiroshi gets a kick in and then a neckbreaker. Hiroshi goes for a clothesline but Styles counters into a facebuster and nearly gets the pin with it. Styles goes out to the apron again and hits the springboard forearm. He can't get the pin, though.  Styles struggles to get Hiroshi in the clash but Hiroshi blocks it and counters with a knee. He gets the slingblade in and goes for the styles clash?! Dude, that's cold. Styles counters into an ankle lock to break that up. Hiroshi counters that and drives Styles into the buckle. Hiroshi goes for the clash again and hits it! Cover only gets two! Hiroshi goes for the high fly flow but lands on the knees. Styles rolls out to the apron and to the top where he gets the high fly flow of his own! Near fall and hits the Bloody Sunday DDT. Styles picks him up and Hiroshi hits Styles in the knee. Both guys are down now but struggle back up. Hiroshi hits some strikes and AJ goes for the Pele but Hiroshi catches it and whips him down. Hiroshi goes up and hits the high fly flow. He then hits another one before he gets the pin! Hiroshi is going to the finals! Tanahashi gets announced as the winner of the block and the crowd goes wild.  They get to their knees and go for the handshake but Hiroshi flips him off. Well then! We come back with Hiroshi in the ring soaking up the crowd chants. He says he has one more match to win. He wants to win the G1 with the fans and gives them a hearty I love you! We go to the studio where Tanahashi says that this match is his new best match ever. He says that they both had similar visions for the match. He thinks 2015 was an astonishing year for NJPW and that he thinks Styles is a great wrestler. He wants to do it again sometime. A good episode to finish the bracketing stuff off. The matches that needed to be quick were and the spotlight was put on the right matches in both these eps. Jim Ross seemed a little off in both these episodes and I wonder if these were the last eps he had to dub that day. Anyway, decent shows. Next week we finish off Block B with two big episodes! See you then!  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Wrapping up the A Block
Hello again and welcome of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. We have another double shot of action tonight from the G1 Climax 25 tournament as we wrap up Block A action tonight. We have skip...

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...

Strong Style: Champion vs. Champion

Jun 11 // Soul Tsukino
We are welcomed by Goto, who is wearing a suit! Satoshi Kojima vs. Yujiro Takahashi Both guys are sitting on 2 points so a win is a must need if either guy have a chance. We haven't seen a whole lot of Kojima outside of a tag match or two. He is a veteran who held the IWGP Title twice as was the first person to hold the IWGP and the Triple Crown title at the same time in 2005. Nowadays he  wrestles mostly legends and opening matches with the young boys. Takahashi is the "turncoat" Japanese member of the Bullet Club. He is largely a mid card guy who mostly fills a role when the Bullet Club needs someone to take the fall. We kick things off with Yujiro coming to the ring with a hot blond that looks less organic than a body pillow. Let's just say she really must like lip injections. This large mouth bass in a thong. Also, Cody Hall is with him. Kojima makes his arrival as JR runs down his accomplishments. Ross reminds me that Kojima was an NWA champion at one point. Bell rings and Yujiro asks for a handshake and it's a clean one!?!? That's a surprise. Lock up into a waistlock into an arm-ringer to start. Kojima gets taken down in a headlock leading to a leg scissors. Back up into another lock up and Yujiro gives him a clean break on the ropes. Headlock goes into a shoulder block, and on the second try, Kojima runs him over. He then does it again leading to a chinlock, Kojima lands a shot right to Yujiro's head and throws in a kick for good measure.  Kojima picks Yujiro up and Yujiro gets in an eye rake. Kojima rolls out of the ring and almost immediately Cody Hall gets involved. Really?!? We've gone all these Bullet Club matches thus far with no interference and he jumps in now? Anyway, Yujiro comes out and slams him into the barrier before rolling back in the ring. Yujiro snap mares him over and then gets on top of him with several straight punches. Not cool. Kojima gets up against the ropes and Yujiro gives him a yakuza kick to the face. Pin attempt gets 2. He delivers a running drop kick to Kojima's head. Yujiro goes for another cover and gets nothing. Kojima sent to the corner and Yujiro slaps him a number of times. Oh damn, he is asking for it now. Yujiro goes in for a strike but Kojima moves out of the way and then gives him the patented rapid fire chops in the corner. He runs him over and delivers a top rope elbow for two. Back from the break as they both get up and trade forearms back and forth. Kojima gets the better of this one. Yujiro goes for a kick but misses and then gets knocked on his butt. Kojima picks him up and goes for a suplex but Yujiro blocks and then he gets Kojima over. They both roll to the apron  and Yujiro goes for a cradle suplex on the apron, but Kojima blocks out and gets a DDT on the apron! Yujiro is down! Kojima says the hell with it and gets Yujiro back in the ring. He puts Yujiro on the top turnbuckle and delivers the Kojima Cutter. He goes for the big one but Yujiro grabs him and gets him in a German suplex. A kick to the face and a clothesline but only gets a two. He picks Kojima up in a fireman's carry, but Kojima gets out only to get blasted for it. Yujiro picks him up and tosses Kojima into the corner with a buckle bomb. Ouch!  Yujiro goes for a running clothesline but Kojima counters it with a clothesline to the arm and then gets in a brainbuster, but only gets two! Kojima runs him over with a big clothesline but Cody Hall pulls the ref out of the ring. He then climbs into the ring and starts wailing on Kojima Kojima counters and sends Hall down to the floor. Kojima goes for a clothesline but Yujiro counters into a waistlock that is reversed. Yujiro kicks up for the low blow. He gets him in the Miami shine and scores the win! Backstage, Kojima is not happy but he will not give up and fight until the end! Back from commercial as we have Goto in the studio. He says the tournament was long for him this year, but the schedule had lots of breaks (with blocks alternating days). He wanted to be seen as different this year and he was motivated by facing the champion in this match.   IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto Now THIS is a main event! Okada has 6 points while Goto has 4. The Rainmaker wins and he pulls into the sole lead in Block B, Goto wins and he ties for the lead with Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, and Karl Anderson. We get Goto's awesome entrance. It's like the end of a samurai movie when this guy enters the arena. "The Fierce Warrior" indeed. Here comes the champ! Okada comes out in his usual style and with Gedo with him. JR points out these two have met before in 2013 in the finals of the New Japan Cup tournament. Back from the break as the bell rings. Stare down to begin as we get a shot of both titles on the table. Knuckle lock to start but both back off quickly. Lock up to a waistlock by Okada and goes right into an armbar by Goto. Okada gets a leg lock and a takedown but Goto gets a chinlock. Both scrambling in a grapple on the mat before they pop back up. The crowd seems to favor Okada here. Goto with a headlock and Okada shoots him off but Goto runs him over. Tries it again and they trade hiplock attempts before Goto gets it and a clothesline. Goto gets a neckbreaker and a pin attempt gets 1. Goto locks in a chinlock and delivers an elbow to the top of the head. Another elbow by Goto and a snapmare into a leg scissor on the neck. He gets it up on his hands to crank it. Josh talks about how he used to call this move the "Jitsu Screamer" since BJJ guys usually aren't allowed to do neck holds, so he would use this hold and guys would be in a submission before they knew it.  Okada gets to the ropes before the break. Okada rolls out and Goto follows him and smacks him on the back. He throws Okada into the barrier but Okada ducks a charge. Okada then leaps over the barrier and hits a cross body into the front row! Okada drapes Goto on the barrier and then pulls him out for a hanging DDT! We come back from break with Okada getting back in the ring and Goto in pain. He gets back in the ring as 18. Okada with sliding dropkick and right into a cover to get 2. He gets the heavenly lock (taking both arms and grabbing them over the opposite shoulders) and Goto gets a foot on the rope. Okada picks up Goto but Goto pops up with some slaps to the chest. Okada has none of it and sends Goto down with a thud.  He whips Goto in the corner but misses. Okada goes for a kick, but Goto catches, then Goto has his kick caught and Okada gets a mean clothesline. Both guys struggle up and Goto lands a MEAN Jitsu kick. He whips Okada into the corner and lands a spinning kick before getting a bulldog on the champ. He picks Okada up and nails him with a suplex, but only gets two. Goto goes for the waistlock but Okada counters. He sends Okada in the ropes and delivers the flapjack. Okada gets up and counters with a kick and then another DDT. As Goto gets up Okada gives him a flying uppercut and gets two. Okada slams Goto down and climbs up to the top. Goto pops up and charges but Okada leaps off and summersaults through it. He runs the ropes but Goto follows him and NAILS the clothesline. Goto picks Okada up on his shoulders but Okada squirms out for a rollup. They exchanged pins 6 or 7 times and Goto comes within an inch of getting the three count. Back from the break with Okada picking Goto up and trying to get the tombstone but Goto gets out. They run the ropes and Okada nails Goto with a dropkick. Okada goes up and delivers the randy Savage elbow and then the rainmaker pose. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Goto counters into the ushigoroshi. Goto picks him up and gets a spinning facebuster on Okada. He goes for a suplex but Okada counters out into the corner and meets a charging Goto with a kick. Goto gets a tired Okada up on the top buckle. He puts Okada up for a super ushigoroshi but Okada counters with some elbows and gets out of that. He grabs on a waistlock and gives Goto a suplex! He holds on to the waistlock and goes for the rainmaker. Goto counters with a headbutt! Goto goes for a suplex but Okada slides out. They trade blows but Goto blocks the rainmaker with a clothesline and a headbutt. Goto counters and hits the Shotenkai and gets the pin! Holy Crap! Goto grabs the mic and says he is going to win the G1 and gets the crowd to cheer! Backstage Gedo says that Okada will win the rest of the g1. Goto says he wants Okada's belt. Studio words from Goto. He talks about beating the man who holds the belt he wants but was disappointed that he couldn't get a champion vs. champion title match in 2015. This was a fair show. The opener certainly wasn't horrible but it wasn't a home run either. The main event was a great match though and proves interesting for the immediate future of NJPW. So with that here is how Block B shapes up coming out of this show: Goto, Okada, Ishii,Anderson: 6 points Nakamura,Elgin, Takahashi: 4 points Kojima,Nagata: 2 points Honma: 0 Points See you all next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
G1 Climax 25 continues!
Hello, and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at new Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we look at the two matches not shown last week from day 8 of the G1 Climax 25 tournament. Since this is a continuation of la...


Otakon '16 photo
Otakon '16

Rejoice: LeSean Thomas is heading to Otakon '16


Could this lead to a huge announcement?
Jun 05
// Salvador GRodiles
If you missed out on meeting LeSean Thomas (Batman Brave and the Bold's Storyboard Artist, The Boondocks Season 1's Designer) at last year's Anime Expo, the gang at Otakon are having him as a guest this year; thus giving peop...

Strong Style: Double stuffed full of action!

Jun 04 // Soul Tsukino
For our first show, we look at Block A action from the Fifth day of the tournament (day three for the A Block). This takes place at the Hiroshima Green Arena on July 26, 2015. Since we skipped over day three here are the updated point standings going into this card: Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4 points A.J. Styles: 4 points Makabe, Shibata, Naito, Tenzan, Ibushi, Fale: 2 Points Yano, Gallows: 0 points So, with that settled we start off this show with a greeting from Naito. Togi Makabe vs. Katsuyori Shibata: Ooooooh Yeeeaaaaahhh. The expert MMA fighter taking on the expert brawler. Both these guys know how to throw and can take a lot of tough hits, so this is going to be a good one. Start with both guys already in the ring. The bell rings and both guys go for a clothesline but Togi gets the better of that. Shibata goes to the apron and Togi immediately gets a running headbutt that sends Shibata right to the floor. Togi rolls him right back in the ring but when he gets to the apron Shibata jumps right up and hits a forearm to the face. Shibata then charges and gets a running kick right to Togi's face! Shibata returns the favor and rolls Togi back into the ring. We jump ahead as Shibata has Togi in the corner and he goes to town on him with Elbow strikes. Togi pops right up nd asks for more as Shibata gives it to him with kicks to the gut. He kicks Togi down and keeps going before he starts in on the face washes before standing on Togi's shoulder and keeps kicks him in the head. He then hits his running facewash. Shibata then goes for his hanging dropkick but Togi leaps right up again and clotheslines Shibata to stop that quick. Makabe picks Shibata up and hits a fallaway slam and gets a two count, all while Josh Barnett alludes to Makabe being into S&M. Thanks for that mental image. Makabe goes up the top rope but Shibata leaps up and kicks Togi in the face to bring him back down to the mat. They scramble up and start exchanging strikes right to the neck. Togi wants more from Shibata so Shibata gives him a running kick to the face. No effect. He gives him another one to no effect as Togi comes back with a clothesline. They do this  a few times before Shibata goes down from a clothesline right into a pin attempt. Only gets two. Josh makes a point about how Makabe would use a kid in the audience to try a get his opponent down. This is only less disturbing than the image of Togi being a kink freak. Both guys get up and Togi strikes first with a clothesline to the chest, then a clothesline to the back of Shibata's head, and ten another clothesline to the chest to get him down. Pin only gets two. Togi picks him up and gets a powerbomb, but again, only gets two. Togi gets him up in a fallaway slam but Shibata counters with some elbows and locks in the sleeperhold! Togi fights it but he sinks down to the canvas before Shibata leaps up and nails the penalty kick for the win! Kota Ibushi vs. A.J. Styles: The exact opposite of the first match as these guys are both quick high flying guys. This makes for a lot of hang time in the air and some hard hits. These two have met before when Styles was champion and Ibushi pushed him to the limit. Back with both guys in the ring. We skip ahead as both guys exchange strikes and Styles goes into the ropes and right into a back suplex from Kota. Kicks now and he shoots Styles into the ropes and Styles runs right into a kick. More kicks into a moonsault only gets two. Waistlock by Ibushi. Styles reverses but is backed into the corner. Styles onto the apron and hits Kota with a clothesline into a springboard forearm. Styles goes for a pump-handle slam and drops Kota gut first onto the knee. A good way to lose your lunch. Cover only gets two count. Styles goes for the clash but Kota counters. Styles onto the apron again, but Kota with a spin kick to stop anything he had planned. Kota then goes for his over-the-ropes apron suplex but Styles somehow counters into a tombstone position but Kota reverses it into a headscissors to the floor! Kota on the apron and hits a springboard moonsault onto the floor. Ibushi rolls Styles in the ring and Kota goes up, but Styles pushes him and he falls to the apron. Styles climbs up top and grabs Kota, pulling him up to the top. Kota counters out and goes for the headscissors but misses. Styles gets the headscissors but hangs onto the legs and gets Ibushi into the stylesclash position but Ibushi counters with kicks to Styles's head. Kota goes for a kick but A.J. counters with a clothesline and gets him into a piledriver onto the knees! Styles goes up for a 360 splash but lands right onto Kota's knees. Kota nearly gets the pin. Both up as Kota goes insane with strikes. Styles counters and he goes insane with strikes before grabbing Ibushi and taking him up for a suplex but Kota rolls out and whiff the Pele kick. Styles grabs him for a suplex and Kota rolls though but Styles nails the Pele kick and then the bloody Sunday DDT! Pinfall only gets a two count! Styles goes up and takes Kota up with him. Styles goes for a superbomb, but Kota reverses into a headscissors. Kota gets two but immediately gets up, nails a powerbomb on Styles and then the phoenix splash and gets the win!  Kota gets two points! In the studio with Naito as he talks about Mexico and how he was jealous of the guys he saw there. He liked how they didn't confine themselves to one style and he learned to do the same. He has a special place for Tanahashi and while some say this block is a one man show with Tanahashi, he doesn't think that way. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito: This match may prove interesting, especially for Naito. Naito, as we saw last week, is doing his "Tranquillo" attitude thing, but we'll see if his goofing off works against the Ace of new Japan. These two fought in the finals of the 2013 G1 Climax where Naito scored the win of his life, but that was a much different Naito. Naito out first with his black suit and metal skull mask outfit. Jim Ross spells it out that while Naito beat Fale last time, he lost to Shibata in his second match of the Climax. Tanahashi meanwhile beat both his last two opponents and is sitting in the drivers seat as one of the leaders. Naito takes his time getting his gear off, Tanahashi taps on his wrist. We get a Rick Rude mention and Josh cracks out the famous line Rick used to say about fat sweathogs. The bell finally rings and the crowd is right behind Tanahashi. Lock up and Tanahashi brings him down with a side headlock. Hiroshi shot into the ropes but runs over Naito with a shoulderblock and an uppercut. Naito gets him in the corner and they start smacking the crap out of each other! Rapid fire from both guys! Tanahashi whipped into the corner but jumps up and gets a crossbody off the second rope. Naito gets hit and rolls outside, and Tanahashi jumps up for a dive, but Naito moves back and lays down on the floor. He stays out on the floor to a count of 16, but breaks the count and walks back out. He screams at a cameraman and the crowd boos the hell out of him for stalling outside. He rolls back in and Tanahashi stomps right on him. Naito finally jumps up with a few forearms but Tanahashi strikes him for that. Naito to the ropes and gets a headscissors on Tanahashi and pulls him right out of the ring and Tanahashi lands right into the barricade. Naito clears the broadcast tables and Naito brings Tanahashi up on it and gives him a rude awakening neckbreaker on the table! Back from break with Naito taking a break in the ring while Tanahashi struggles to get up. He gets in at 19. Naito stands up with a smile he grabs onto Tanahashi with a chancery (neck crank or cravate as it is called) and Tanahashi gets to the ropes. He is hurt. He talked about hurting his neck last week so this is not good. Naito stands on the fallen Tanahashi and poses as he snaps Tanahashi down and hits a running dropkick right to the head. Cover gets a two count and Naito goes right into a headscissors. Tanahashi is SCREAMING in pain. Tanahashi gets to the ropes to break it, but Naito waits it out. Naito lands another dropkick to the head. He picks Tanahashi up and Tanahashi starts some chops but Naito shuts that down. He gets another neckbreaker but only gets two. Naito shoves the referee right out to the floor and then gets a chinlock on Hiroshi. Referee Red Shoes climbs back in the ring and acts like nothing happened. And you guys thought American refs were bad! Both guys get up and Tanahashi elbows out of the headlock. Naito spits on Tanahashi and Tanahashi hits a spinning forearm. He keeps going with strikes to the head and a slam. Tanahashi climbs up and gets a middle rope flipping senton, but only gets two. Naito spits right into Tanahashi's face and Tanahashi SLAPS him right in the face. This is getting dirty. Tanahashi whips Naito to the other corner and gets a low dropkick sending Naito down and outside the ring. He goes up top and gets a crossbody outside the ring. Tanahashi goes over the barrier and grab Naito's leg and legwhips him over the guard rail. Tanahashi rolls him into the ring and goes for the cloverleaf but Naito gets into the ropes. Tanahashi goes for more attacks on the leg, but Naito counters with a strike and a rolling kick top the head. Back from the break now as Naito runs into the corner charge but Tanahashi gets his feet up, only to counter that into a neckbreaker. Naito grabs Tanahashi and drives him face first into the mat and ties him up with a neckvice with the leg up pressing on Tanahashi's face! Tanahashi is fighting it and finally gets his foot on the rope. Both guys slow to get up as Naito drives Tanahashi down in the corner and goes for a hanging kick but Tanahashi catches his foot and screw attacks the leg again. He then goes again but he tries for the cloverleaf Naito struggles with Tanahashi going HIGH with it, driving things right down on Naito's face. Naito gets to the ropes and Hiroshi gets another dragon screw legwghip. Tanahashi goes up but Naito catches him and goes up as well. Tanahashi smacks him off the ropes but Naito smacks him back. Naito climbs up again and nails the top rope hurricanrana. Naito scrambles to the apron. He jumps to the top and lands the missile dropkick right into the back of Tanahashi's head. He grabs a waistlock into a German suplex but only gets two. Naito goes for some move but Tanahashi counters out. Naito turns around and whiffs a roundhouse punch. Naito goes for the whip but Tanahashi counters into the slingblade! He goes up for the flow, but Naito stands up and Tanahashi hits the crossbody. Tanahashi goes for the flow again and dives right into the knees Both guys on their knees exchanging forearms and strike away on their faces. Standing up, Tanahashi spits at Naito and throws a few strikes. Tanahashi whips into the ropes and Naito tries to avoid it but gets caught right into a German suplex.  Tanahashi goes in for the kill but Naito grabs him and lands the Destino finisher. He gets the three count! Naito then goes insane and clobbers the ref (who needs it) and a young boy, before grabbing the mic saying he is unstoppable and no one can beat him. Backstage Tanahashi is disappointed., Studio words from Naito as he said that match was like his finisher and it was destino. He feels that standing in the ring, he feels more supported than he ever has before. He wants Los Ingobernables to gain more strength, mentioning BUSHI and Death, whom we haven't seen yet on this show. Also in tournament matches not seen on this show: Bad Luck Fale defeated Doc Gallows (good heavens glad that was skipped) and Toru Yano defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Now on to hour 2! Our second hour of action this week takes us to the Bodymaker Collesium. as we once again go Waka Laka for Osaka on August 1, 2015. This show covers the B block and Day 8 from the tournament (Day 4 for the B Block). Since we've skipped all of B block's action up until now, here is how the points lay out going into this show: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii: 6 Points Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson: 4 Points Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Shinsuke Nakamura, Michael Elgin, Yujiro Takahashi: 2 Points Tomoaki Honma: 0 points (surprised?). It should be noted that Shinsuke Nakamura had to forfeit his match against Michael Elgin on day 6 due to an elbow injury. He is back in action, but let's see how that plays into it. So we start things off with a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura in an ugly grey sweater. Karl Anderson vs. Yuji Nagata: This is an interesting one with the Machine Gun taking on Blue Justice. Yuji is a bit long on years, having been wrestling for 20 years or so, but he can still have good matches against anyone. Anderson is, of course, a member of the Bullet Club. Karl is out first with Tama Tonga.  Out comes Yuji and Josh mentions that he faced Yuji in Josh's first match when Nagata was the IWGP champion. Bell rings and a knuckle lock to start into a Yuji waistlock an Karl reveres it. They go for the arm and Yuji quickly goes right for the armlock. Karl scrambles to the ropes for the break and gets right out of the ring. He climbs back in where Yuji lands some kicks to the thigh and Karl counters with a kick to the gut and tosses Yuji outside the ring. As Karl goes out Yuji jumps right back in. With both guys in the ring Yuji starts going to work with more kicks and a arm ringer. Yuji goes for another kick but Anderson catches it, lands a chop right to yuji's neck and then just clobbers him with a shot to the chest to take Nagata down. Instead of covering, he just drives elbows into Yuji's side right in the ribs. He tosses Yuji out and drives him into the barrier. he goes into the ring and mocks Yuji's salute pose. We skip ahead with both guys up top. Karl is in the sitting position cluns away on Yuji but Nagata keeps getting back up. Yuji scoops Karl up and comes down with an exploder, but Karl kicks out of the pin. Both guys up and start exchanging hard shots. Karl keeps going for the ribs but Yuji grabs Karl and takes him down for his dead-eye armbar. Karl gets his foot on the rope. Karl whips Yuji in and gets the Arn Anderson spinebuster!. Karl goes for the gun stun, but Yuji reverses and gets a waist lock and then nails Karl with his spin kick. Cover only gets two. They get up and Karl hits the gun stun out of a suplex attempt and gets the pin! 2 points for Karl! Backstage Karl said that Yuji is done. He said Yuji should be making his f***ing sumo stew and doing his laundry. Damn man that is harsh! We see Yuji who just grunts in disappointment    Michael Elgin vs. Tomoaki Honma: Dear God, Honma is going to DIE! Njpw's loveable loser is matched up with Ring of Honor's version of a semi-truck. Even though these two have actually teamed up a few times, I don't see this ending well. Nice knowing you Honma. Big Mike comes out first. Honma comes out to the cheers of the crowd. He's at a 13 match losing streak here. Bell rings and Elgin runs right over him. Lock up and Elgin throws him right into the corner but runs right into the elbow. Elgin dares him for a shoulderblock and Honma doesn't have a chance as he hits the canvas. Elgin throws him around but Honma gets an elbow to get him down. Honma goes for a headbutt early and of course misses. Elgin gets his delayed suplex. This guy is as strong as an OX on steroids. Elgin punches Honma right in the mouth! Mike picks him up and Honma gets some hits but Elgin gets in a knee for two. Elgin with the Oklahoma Stampede! He goes down and drives his arm into Honma's face but only gets two. Honma with some chops and then scores a DDT! Honma goes for a headbutt and misses AGAIN. Honma tries for the suplex and muscles big Mike over on that one. That's quite a feat actually. Elgin to the corner where Honma nails him with a running clothesline into a bulldog and FINALLY nails the headbutt! He goes for the cover but only gets two. Back from the break with Honma up and gets Mike up standing. He hits a headbutt and tries for a gutwrech. Mike just shoves him off and smacks a kick into Honma's face before hitting a diving one knee code breaker off the ropes. Elgin hits Honma and Honma goes to the apron where Elgin grabs him and picks him up from the second rope and hits the falcon arrow from the middle rope! Elgin goes for the powerbomb but Honma counters out, only to get a spinning back fist from the big guy. Mike throws Honma to the corner but Honma dives out with the headbutt. He hits a second one and a scoop slam as he for the kokeshi. He of course misses. Up to their knees as they exchange forearms. They rise to their feet as they blast each other back and forth with elbows before Honma hits a palm strike and Mike answers with a clothesline. Honma goes for something off the ropes but Elgin blasts him with a clothesline. Mike goes for the buckle bomb again but Honma escapes. He tries for a running strike but Mike counters and tries for the German suplex. Honma flips right out, but Elgin catches him and slams him with a buckle bomb and then into the powerbomb and the win for two much-needed points. Backstage Mike is glad he is back on track with this win. Honma is obviously disappointed but says the next match will see him smile as the winner. Studio words from Shinsuke. He talks about facing his CHAOS partner and how he needs to be prepared for a long tournament. His elbow is really messed up but he'd get pain shots for it but missed 3 days worth of matches. This was his chance to return. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii: Strong Style rules the ring in this one. Both men are part of CHAOS, but that isn't going to stop them from beating the bloody hell out of each other. With Nakamura's shoulder injury, Ishii has a real shot at winning this one. Ishii comes out first with his knee wrapped. Interesting. "He's a Rubbermaid trashcan of wrestling."- Josh Barnett. Nakamura comes out with a faded red leather general's coat. The crowd cheers for him. Nakamura's elbow is wrapped up as well. Back from the break as the bell rings Nakamura throws some kicks but both guys start throwing kicks,  Waistlock but Ishii as they get into the ropes. Nakamura goes for his belly thing and Ishii doesn't care for it. Ishii gets a knee for his trouble as Nakamura throws some strong kicks but it just makes Ishii mad. Ishii grabs Nakamura's leg and drives an elbow into it before locking in a headlock. Nakamura shoots him off but Ishii runs right over him. Chops by Ishii.  He gets Nakamura into the corner and gets him down with mock kicks to the head. Ishii picks him up and nails with a headbutt. Nakamura gets a chop in but Ishii just clubs him with a forearm. Ishii kicks him in the head and Nakamura jumps right up in his face as they smack each other around. Ishii tries for a whip but Nakamura counters and nails some kicks in to get Ishii down He gets Ishii in the corner and gets the good vibrations face wash. He gets Ishii up and whips him into the ropes landing a high kick. Count only gets two. Shin gets a headlock but Ishii counters and lands a suplex. Ishii gets Nakamura into the corner and lands some chops and a running clothesline. He picks Nakamura up into a suplex and Ishii nearly gets a pin off that.  Ishii goes for the piledriver but Nakamura blocks it and lifts Ishii up over the top. Nose to nose yelling at each other before more elbows traded. Ishii comes running in and runs right into Nakamura's knee. He gets the big guy up on the turnbuckles and lands a kick to the stomach. Nakamura gets Ishii down and nearly gets a pin before going right for knee strikes. He picks Ishii up into a facebuster and goes for a strike but Ishii gets the fallaway slam. Ishii gets up and hits a powerbomb on Nakamura but the pin is only a two count. Ishii picks Nakamura up onto the top turnbuckle and lands a superplex! Ishii goes for the pin but Nakamura kicks out! Ishii goes for a running strike but Shinsuke nails a kick to the face and then a kick to the back of the head! Only gets 2. Back from the break now as they are up and again exchanging elbows and strikes. Nakamura gets a reverse powerslam. He gets a sliding knee strike that gets a two count. Nakamura goes for the Booma ye but Ishii lands a strike to the gut and then gets an enziguri (Wow!) and then a clothesline. The count is two. He lands a sliding clothesline but again only gets two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Shinsuke slides out and hits a strike and then a booma ye to the back of the head. Count gets two. Shin goes up and hits a second rope booma ye but the pin only gets two! Nakamura goes for another one but Ishii blocks it and Shin gets a spin kick. Ishii goes for something but Shin counters into the armbar. Ishii gets out with a punch to the head.  Nakamura gets a strike in and gets Ishii in a version of the one-winged-angel. Ishii kicks out but Shin hits the booma ye and gets the pinfall! Nakamura crawls over to check on Ishii before he gets his hand raised to check on his teammate and friend. Backstage Nakamura says Ishii is the real thing and he had to give his all. He feels grateful to wrestle today In the studio as he says Ishii was a special opponent. He didn't go for the elbow because Ishii goes straight-up with you. He had to concentrate in this match to give his all and it was a tough match for him. Oddly enough the two tournament matches not shown on this show will actually be seen next week with Yujiro Takahashi taking on Satoshi Kojima and a Champion vs. Champion match with Hirooki Goto taking on Kazuchika Okada! Tonight's action was very good. The first match of the night was clipped pretty well, but nothing terrible. Tonight though showed the weakness of this show's format. There is no graphics to keep people updated on points and not all the matches are even mentioned, let alone shown. We are being shown day 8 of the tournament and this is the first time the B block matches are being shown. Hell, just to keep up I have 3 different resource websites and a damn excel spreadsheet to keep up!  However, the stuff that is shown is great and an entertaining time! So with that in mind here is the point standings after this week: Block A: Tanahashi, Shibata, Naito, Ibushi, Styles, Fale: 4 Points Makabe, Tenzan, Yano: 2 points Gallows: 0 points Block B: Okada*, Ishii, Anderson: 6 Points Goto*, Nakamura, Elgin: 4 Points Kojima*, Nagata, Takahashi*: 2 Points Honma: 0 Points * have their 4rth matches next week See you next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Twice the action this week!
Hello, gang and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have 2 scoops of fun as we have two hours of wrestling this week looking at the 25th G1 Climax tournament. We g...

Storming the Sunshine State: A look at MegaCon 2016

Jun 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Even though MegaCon’s big anime related events were mostly related to FUNimation’s voice actors, each panel had its hosts express their points in a way that brought inspiration and joy to the audience. Since the convention’s main content seems to focus on mainstream stuff, this choice benefited the con’s themes nicely. One new thing that the convention did this year was that they got Ryo Horikawa (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger’s Akumaro) to attend the con. During the first Horikawa panel, I got to ask him about his challenges that he faces in voice acting and acting, along with the differences between voice acting in anime, voice acting in tokusatsu, and acting in live-action shows. “Acting and voice acting require the same type of motivation,” said Horikawa. “Having the same level of expectation for myself is the challenge I face in voice acting and acting.” One of the most entertaining things about the panel was when he said Vegeta’s line from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods when Beerus slaps Bulma as a request to one of his fans. Overall, it was priceless to hear him shout “What the fuck are you doing to my Bulma” in his Vegeta voice in English. Unfortunately, the folks at MegaCon couldn’t afford to have Horikawa do a concert at the event; however, they’re hoping to make that happen if they get him to come back. Either way, it was nice to sit through his panel while he answered his fan’s questions, along with talking about some of his future plans. Among these plans is his goal to open branches of his voice acting school in America and other parts of the world. He also promoted the third season of the Rainy Cocoa anime, which they’re hoping to release this fall. To top it off, Horikawa talked about a Rainy Cocoa café that’ll open in Hawaii, and some of the title’s voice actors will appear at the place when it opens. I may’ve not watched Rainy Cocoa or read the digital manga, but it was neat to see the folks behind the series doing their best to do neat things with the brand for folks overseas. Aside from Horikawa’s panel, there was a Dragon Ball Z Mega Panel and a segment called “Viva Vegeta.” The DBZ segment had Horikawa alongside Sean Schemmel (Dragon Ball Z’s Goku and King Kai), Eric Vale (Dragon Ball Z’s Trunks) and Monica Rial (Dragon Ball Z’s Bulma) of FUNimation, which mostly focused on them answering a couple fan questions. A neat part of this panel was hearing Schemmel talk about his transition from Americanizing anime to creating a localization that does justice to the show’s original Japanese track. “American kids don’t get anime— I don’t believe in that,” said Schemmel. Another neat moment from the panel included everyone admitting that Goku is a terrible father, with the best parent award going to Piccolo and Vegeta. Then the Viva Vegeta segment had Horikawa hosting a segment with Chris Sabat (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, YuYu Hakusho’s Kuwabara), which resulted in such neat exchanges, such as Horikawa being impressed at Sabat for voicing four or more characters since Ryo mentioned that he could barely do two roles at once in one title. The other interesting part was when Horikawa talked about how it takes four hours to record a 30-minute anime, which lead to Sabat telling the audience that in the U.S. the recording time is 25 hours. This part gave the audience an idea on some of the differences between the Japanese and English voice acting process in anime. Just like the previous panels, it was interesting to hear about the various stories and experience that the voice actors went through in life. As a person who finds these kinds of things interesting, I ended up having a blast with the con’s segments with Horikawa and FUNi’s folks. While MegaCon ’16 didn’t that many performance-themed events like Metrocon, I was able to see a show that was done by Noise Complaint, a tap dancing group that does performances themed around anime and video games while cosplaying the characters that correspond with the motif. Instead of dancing to the entire soundtrack from the medium their show is based on, they actually take the time to find well-known songs that’ll match the topic’s theme. For example, their Sailor Moon-themed show featured tunes that went well with the concept of girl power. Overall, the group did a great job with matching their footsteps to each song that was playing during the show. The most impressive part about Noise Complaint's performance was when the group's Lead Dancer Jenne was changing her dancing stances while maintaining the rhythm that the rest of the performers were holding. Even though I didn’t get to explore a lot of the dealer’s room at the con, the three places I got to check out resulted in some great times. One of my encounters was when I came across a booth for Ranger Stop, a Power Rangers-themed convention that’s usually held in the fall in Orlando, Fla. The person who was at the booth happens to be Jon, who’s also part of the group Toy Bounty Hunters, which had a segment about Marvel’s connection to the Super Sentai franchise. As a person who kept up with his videos, it was amazing to get to talk to him about tokusatsu and the con, such as the benefits of MegaCon's growth on the sellers. I also got to meet Careless of the Video Game Music Group Careless Juja and former member of the Video Game Music Band Random Encounter. He talked about Liberty Deception, an indie comic book that takes place in a colony that was the result of a terraforming project gone wrong, along with how he got to go to Europe with the Video Games Live group, a video game music-themed concert that occurs in various parts of the world. Since I got to see Careless perform at Video Games Live, in Miami with Random Encounters, it was a joyous moment seeing the guy in person. The last place I got to drop by was Illustrator Travis Earls’ booth. While he wasn’t at his booth, I got to see his manager known as Donut talk about the guy’s latest comic book, Power. Based on what he told me about its first issue, Earls’ book is a horror take on the elements found in the Power Rangers and Super Sentai franchise. Seeing that Earls is one of Ranger Stop’s featured artists, his armored suit designs for his heroes work well with the dark tone of his story. In terms of the cosplays encountered throughout the con, it was neat to see a few folks who went as characters from the Danganronpa series. Among these cosplayers was a group that went as Yashuhiro, Nagito, Chiaki and Ibuki. On top of that, I came across a person that was wearing a Monokuma suit. Let’s just say that we made a deal to bring everyone on Japanator into a state of despair. Surprisingly, I found some people who wore the Rathalos and Zinogre armors from the Monster Hunter series, along with a cosplayer who went as Haseo from the .hack//G.U. trilogy. Hell, I was even able to find someone going as Kamen Rider Stronger and Power Pool, a fusion between Deadpool and the Green Ranger; thus fulfilling my usual convention-related goal to find folks who’re cosplaying characters from tokusatsu titles. Last but not least, I found a group that went as Captain Gundam and Shute from SD Gundam Force. This lead to me obtaining a meal called Captain Punch, which is the process of pouring Hawaiian Punch into a bowl of Captain Crunch. Overall, the combination gives the cereal a sweet fruity flavor that puts Crunch Berry to shame. Of course, it packed quite a punch. As fun as my fourth MegaCon trip was, the event was far from perfect. Just like Former Japanator Editor in Chief Tim Sheehy’s experience with Sakura-Con ’14, the convention’s format hindered the folks of the press. Since the staff didn’t let the folks with the Press Passes enter the events before everyone else, this made it difficult for me to properly cover MegaCon ’16’s offering since I had to head to the panels before the lines got too big. While the badge did allow me to sit in the areas where folks with VIP tickets could sit, this only worked for me in one panel, as the con’s staff didn’t grant me this privilege in the other events. Another problem was that there were panels that were happening at MegaCon that weren’t even listed on the schedule pamphlet that attendees pick up at the door. Sure, their time and locations were listed in the con’s Website, but it’s still inconvenient that these things aren’t listed in the event’s program book. For example, there was a panel about the growth of Florida’s anime community that was happening on Thursday; however, I couldn’t find it in the booklet for the con. Seeing that this is the first time that MegaCon was a four-day event, I’m going to guess that this likely one of the sources of the convention's problems. That, and Fan Expo HQ, the current owners of MegaCon, were still trying to get used to the Orange County Conventions layout. While it’s understandable that most events could face some issues when the management changes, it’s unfortunate when they hinder the folks with press passes who’re trying to cover the event as much as they can, so they can provide coverage to their readers who couldn’t go to it. Despite MegaCon ’16’s problems with how they managed the Press Pass holders’ privileges, I still had a blast with the convention’s panels and offerings. With Fan Expo HQ having a few conventions under their belt, they were able to bring in some solid guests (such as Ryo Horikawa, Stan Lee, Joe Madureira and David Hayter). To an extent, these segments warranted the $90 to $100 price tag for the events tickets— as long as you’re going for the full con experience. Also, it was neat to see Cosplayer PikaBelleChu's Pikachu Bug at the convention. Even though my time with the con’s anime panels was mostly with the FUNimation ones, there is also a good chunk of events that covered other topics, such as the panel about How Watching Anime Might Lead To Better Grades and one that introduces folks to healing anime titles. Due to MegaCon’s large size, I wasn’t able to catch the other panels that focused on different aspects of the anime community. However, judging from their synopsis, they all seemed fun and intriguing. At the end of the day, my fourth time with MegaCon ended up being better than I expected. While the con didn’t have that many performance-related events like Metrocon, the panels made up for it. Since the anime stuff was mostly catered to the mainstream audience and folks looking to expand their horizon what titles to check out, MegaCon’s anime offerings might not appeal to people who’re very familiar with the medium— unless if they’re a fan of FUNi’s voice actors and are interested in the anime panels that feature analysis on certain things. However, the convention’s large focus on Western films, TV shows and comic books might act as an extra layer to improve the experience.
MegaCon '16 photo
Fourth time is definitely a charm
Before I started my journey to this year's MegaCon, my previous visits to the event in Orlando, Florida. were alright. However, this was due to my friends and me spending most of our time inside of the event's dealer’s ...

Strong Style: G1 is here!

May 28 // Soul Tsukino
We start off with a greeting from Hiroshi Tanahashi! Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale: Fale's expression in that picture matches mines perfectly when I saw this on AXS TV's schedule. At least this year they didn't hot shot a belt on him to make him look like a bigger threat than he really is. Naito is in a weird "Tranquilo" phase here where he is a lazy, unmotivated tweener who only does anything if he decides he wants to. He is already talking about Los Ingobernobles here, but so far it's just him. Fale comes down the aisle alone surprisingly. I guess with all the other Bullet Club heavyweights involved in the tournament as well  this would make sense. Naito comes out in a black suit and a silver skull mask. Jim and Josh talk about Naito's attitude change. In short he was getting booed in places like Tokyo and Osaka, so he went for a short excursion in Mexico and when he came back he labeled himself as one of the Ungovernables and talked about "tranquilo" and would stall and walk out of matches if the going got tough. Naito takes his time getting his gear off and the bell rings. Lock up into the ropes and Naito ducks Fale's strike and starts chopping the crap out of Fale. Fale just runs him over. Naito bails and starts strolling around the ring before Fale goes after him and tosses him around the ringside seats for a while. We skip ahead, thankfully. Both men are back in the ring as Fale goes for Naito, but Naito lands a dropkick right to the big man's knee. As Fale is on one knee, Naito comes up and slaps him on the head. He goes back for another attack but Fale catches him and dumps him in a Samoan drop and a two-count. Both get up and Fale goes for the charge but Naito hits a dropkick. With the big guy teetering, Naito grabs onto a toehold to send him down and work on the leg more. Fale has enough and kicks him off before blasting him right to the mat. Fale hits the big splash and gets a two-count. Big guy picks Naito up and goes for the bad luck fall (razor's edge). Naito smartly wiggles out, only for Fale to clobber him with a clothesline. Fale sets him up for the fall again, but Naito again wiggles out into a roll-up and the pin. Wait really? The official time was nearly 11 minutes. Not even half of that was shown here. Guess this one really sucked! Naito backstage gives the press crap making sure they can pronounce tranquillo. Katsuyori Shibata vs. A.J. Styles: *drooool* These two have never met before so this is one of those matches fans are really looking forward to. No real storyline here and there really doesn't need to be. Styles is the leader of The Bullet Club but that doesn't play into things much. This will hopefully be better. Styles comes out first alone. Yay! Instantly this match got a whole lot better. Shibata enters with his usual no-frills power walk. Bell rings with both men circling ready to go. Shibata goes for a high kick, but Styles back out. Shibata with a side headlock as Josh notices Shibata's right elbow is taped up. Shibata holds on the headlock despite several whip attempts before Styles sends him to the ropes that lead to a few kick attempts from both guys but no hits. Knuckle lock leads to Styles getting a lock on Shibata's other arm. Styles with a surfboard now. Shibata rolls through and back around right into an abdominal stretch! Awesome work there! Shibata gets a waist lock and Styles scrambles to the ropes but Shibata gives a clean break. "Shibata looks like a deadly human being"- Jim Ross. Truer words have never been spoken. Both guys start open slaps to each other before Styles goes down in the corner. Shibata darts across the ring to set up his hanging low dropkick but Styles leaps right up and follows him and hits a clothesline. Shibata goes to the outside and Styles follows him. Shibata gets the edge and high kicks him right over the metal barrier. Shibata goes back to the ring and Styles follows him but rolls right out. Shibata follows him out and Styles gets to the ringpost. Shibata goes for the kick and Styles ducks! The CLINK of his foot hitting the post is sickeningly loud. Back from the commercial with Styles over Shibata in the corner with some elbows. Shibata wills himself to stand up and hits Styles down into the corner. Shibata runs across and nails the hanging dropkick, kinda forgetting that he JUST KICKED A RINGPOST. He suplexes Styles down for a two-count. Styles hits a strike but it doesn't do anything as Shibata grabs on for another suplex attempt, however, it is Styles who gets him over. Styles goes for the stylesclash but Shibata scrambles out of it. Shibata stands up right into an enziguri. He tries for the stylesclash again but Shibata again escapes, only to end up in the calf killer leglock. Shibata gets to the ropes to break the hold. When Shibata gets up Styles hits some strikes on him but Shibata grabs him and dumps him with a death valley driver! Shibata then locks him in a sleeper and Styles keeps trying for the ropes but Shibata pulls him back. Styles goes for the injured arm with some elbows and momentarily releases the hold. However, Shibata locks in a chinlock with his good arm and bites his own hand to hold on! Styles breaks the contact and then hits the Pele kick. Bloody Sunday DDT! Styles gets the pinfall and 2 points! Studio words from Tanahashi. He has put away his issue with Yano from last year's tournament and is ready for his comeback. He respects Ibushi and remembers Kota taking Okada to the limit when they met not too long ago. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi: This was supposed to be one of the dream matches from last year's tournament but Ibushi ended up with an injury and had to withdraw from the tournament. So this is another dream match. Both guys get good reactions coming to the ring. We come back with the ring of the bell and we get this one underway. Circling around leads into a lock up and a clean break in the ropes. Knuckle lock leads into a grapple into the ropes and Tanahashi gives a small shove. Waistock by Tanahashi but Kota reverses into a knuckle lock and then into an armbar. Hiroshi gets the headlock into a takeover and a quick attempt at a pin before getting up. Hiroshi gets a crowd chant. They circle around again tentatively. Hiroshi gets a headlock and grinds down before Ibushi shoots him off and Hiroshi runs him over. Kota gets up and shoots the ropes, leapfrogs over Hiroshi then dropkicks him. Kota lays in with some hard kicks. He strikes Hiroshi down and tries for a kick but Hiroshi ducks, and rolls away from a moonsault. Kota's got some knee issues from hitting the mat and Hiroshi goes right for it. Hiroshi keeps up with kicks to Ibushi's knee and quad muscles. Hiroshi gets a leg lock on Kota's injured knee. Kota is SCREAMING but he gets to the ropes. Kota gets up and surprises Hiroshi with a stiff kick. He tries another but Hiroshi blocks it and drives the elbow into the injured leg. Kota sends Hiroshi into the buckle but gets an elbow for his effort. Hiroshi goes to the ropes, but Kota catches him with a dropkick and ends the ace outside the ring. Kota lines things up and executes his golden triangle moonsault to the outside! Kota is up and shakes out the injured knee as he rolls Tanahashi into the ring. Kota climbs to the ring apron and when Hiroshi looks up he gets hit with a HIGH springboard dropkick from Ibushi. Serious airtime for that! Both guys get up and start in with the duel of elbows and palm strikes. Kota lands some sidekicks before launching a standing dropkick. Kota gets back up and Hiroshi just nails him in the knee. Kota turns in pain and Tanahashi chop blocks him! Damn dude, you are the good guy! Kota rolls out of the ring but Tanahashi goes up and lands a cross body outside the ring! Hiroshi gets in and as Kota gets caught in the ropes, Hiroshi whips his bad leg three times on the ropes in a row! Hiroshi lands another dropkick to Kota's bad leg but when Hiroshi bounces off the ropes for a strike he runs right into an Ibushi side kick! Out of commercial both guys are slow to get up. Trading strikes now. Not quite the hits someone like Ishii or Makabe would throw, but they are going for it. Tanahashi ends that duel with a kick to the bad knee  Kota counters with a bunch of kicks before Hiroshi hits another screw leg whip. He then locks in a cloverleaf leglock. Kota gets into the ropes and stands up right into a waistlock and German suplex from Hiroshi. Hiroshi goes for the slingblade but gets a kick for his trouble. Undeterred he tries again and actually hits the slingblade into a two count. He tries for the high fly flow, but Kota gets up and gets a cross body for that. Hiroshi goes up again and flys right into  Ibushi's two knees. Both up as Kota hits rapid fire strikes and kicks into a frankenstiener and then Kota launches him right into the corner face first. That couldn't have felt good. Hiroshi rolls to the apron. Kota comes over and grabs Tanahashi over the top rope for a suplex attempt and actually gets him up and over! Wow, that was impressive. Kota goes for the pin but only gets two! Kota tries for a powerbomb but Hiroshi counters. He goes for a punch but Hiroshi ducks it but Kota hits another strike sending Tanahashi to the mat. Kota goes up and tries for a phoenix splash but Hiroshi moves and Kota lands right on his knees. Hiroshi goes up for the flow but Kota jumps up with a kick. Kota nails the frankensteiner off the top rope but Hiroshi kicks out! Kota drags Hiroshi up for the powerbomb again but Hiroshi flips out and nails the neckbreaker. Kota tries for a kick but Hiroshi catches his leg into another leg whip. They exchange strikes back and forth before Hiroshi hits the dragon suplex for two. Hiroshi scrambles up top and hits the high fly flow and gets the pin and 2 points! Kota struggles up and bows to Tanahashi out of respect before rolling out of the ring. Hiroshi grabs the mic. He thanks the crowd and says he's going to win the G1 climax. Backstage Kota says it was an unforgettable match and he accepts the loss. Hiroshi says that as long as Ibushi is there, the future of wrestling is bright. Studio Tanahashi words now and he admits that the header into the turnbuckle still gives him problems in his neck but that he would fight Ibushi again. Opening match aside, this was a fun way to kick off the tournament. The latter two matches were really good and set things up well for the rest of the tournament to come. In Block A matches we didn't see from this show: Hiroshi Tenzan beat Luke Gallows and Togi Makabe beat Toru Yano. So our points standing in block A have Tanahashi,Naito, Styles, Tenzan, and Makabe at 2 points with the others goose egg. But this is only the first day.  Next week we have two episodes of tournament coverage for you! We will see you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The tournament kicks off!
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Welp, after a month-long break we are back with the big G1 Climax tournament. If you read my primer last week then you know what i...

MegaCon '16 photo
MegaCon '16

Japanator is going to MegaCon '16


Fourth time's a charm
May 25
// Salvador GRodiles
As a quick heads-up, Japanator is heading to MegaCon 2016, which is located in Orlando, Fla. One thing that makes the event special is that it's one of Florida's largest conventions. Even though MegaCon is mostly themed ...

Strong Style: Things to come

May 21 // Soul Tsukino
The 25th G1 Climax Tournament took place between July 20 - August 16, 2015, over the course of 19 shows held across Japan. 20 of NJPW's best were named to the tournament and then split into two block, A and B blocks. This tournament featured a new wrinkle in scheduling as the two blocks wrestled on their own shows. So each episode will cover the A block or the B block. The rules for this competition are that of a round-robin style tournament. Each competitor will face the other nine men in his particular block for points (2 points for a win, 1 points for a draw, 0 for a loss). The top point earners of each block will face each other in the final, which will be shown July 1rst. The winner will receive a shot at the IWGP title (if he isn't already the champion).  [embed]35033:5628:0[/embed] AXS TV will cover highlights from 9 of those shows including two shows dedicated to the final show held in the famous Sumo Hall in Ryogoku, Tokyo. We here at Strong Style will keep you updated on the point totals for the shows that won't be covered so everyone is up to speed.  [embed]35033:5629:0[/embed] The wrestlers you will see in the coming weeks are (from left to right): Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner), Togi Makabe (2009 winner), Katsuyori Shibata, Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner), Hiroshi Tenzan (winner in 2003, 2004, and 2006), Kota Ibushi, Toru Yano, A.J. Styles, Doc Gallows, and Bad Luck Fale.   Block B:  Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner), Yuji Nagata (2001 winner), Hirooki Goto (2008 winner), Tomoaki Honma (if he wins a match is this it will be a miracle), Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner), Kazuchika Okada (2012 and 2014 winner), Tomohiro Ishii, Michael Elgin, Karl Anderson, and Yujiro Takahashi That is your line up! All the factions of NJPW are represented with CHAOS, Global Bash Heel, The Bullet Club, and Los Ingobernables all having men in this one. With so many groups, partners WILL face partners as the competition goes on. Every match is important and wins and losses matter more here. So if you are a fan of puroresu, hold on, strap in, and hang in there for 6 weeks of the best of NJPW! See you all next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The 25th G1 Climax tournament is coming!
With AXS TV covering concert festivals the last month, Strong Style has taken a bit of a break. Next week, however, we kick things into high gear with 10 shows in 6 weeks covering the 25th G1 Climax tournament.  With so much action crammed into a month and a half,  Japanator gives you a little preview of what to expect from Strong Style and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Check out the trailer for Shout! Factory's Dairanger streaming event


Can we expect a special surprise?
May 19
// Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to companies that decide to people a taste of one of their titles since it exposes more folks to said property. As we get close to the weekend, Shout! Factory has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming Gosei...
Anime Expo photo
Anime Expo

Uh-oh: Anime Expo could be harmed by sudden regulations


Why now?
May 16
// Josh Tolentino
I think we can all agree that youths need protection from creeps and other predators, but what's happening at this year's Anime Expo in the name of protecting the children seems to be a bit...undesirable. Last week, the ...
Otakon Matsuri photo
Otakon Matsuri

Mass Destruction: Two Persona singers are performing at Otakon Matsuri


Otakon: Dancing all Day
May 06
// Salvador GRodiles
I'm not gonna lie. When Atlus showed off their newest trailer for Persona 5, my excitement levels have gone up to a new height. While we're still on the topic of Persona, Otakon is getting Lotus Juice (Persona 3's battle them...
AnimeNEXT '16 photo
AnimeNEXT '16

Aw, snap: Rei Hiroe and ZAQ are heading to AnimeNEXT


Bullets and delusions make a great combo
Apr 28
// Salvador GRodiles
With almost a month left until June, it turns out that the man behind the original Black Lagoon manga, Rei Hiroe, and the singer of Love, Chunibiyo & Other Delusions' opening, ZAQ, are making an appearance at AnimeNE...

Strong Style: One match, One belt!

Apr 23 // Soul Tsukino
We start the show greeted by Okada and after the credits roll, we see him in the studio. He is the reason NJPW has returned to Osaka-Jo Hall and he is the reason the building is sold out. My my, That's heel talk. He says Styles stole the belt from him and he is looking to get it back. Styles is a great wrestler and he keeps you on your toes. You have to have a great mind as well as the body when you fight Styles. IWGP Title: "The Phenomenal One" A.J. Styles vs. "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada The Bullet Club vs. CHAOS with the big belt on the line. No love lost here as Styles beat Okada for the title one year before this and Okada hasn't forgotten.  Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Barnett puts over Gedo's importance to Okada's success. Styles enters next ad JR brings up the Georgia Mountain Center in Gainesville and the shows from his WCW days. I remember hearing about that place and "Georgia Power Safety Night". Crap does that bring me back. The ENTIRE Bullet Club comes out. Really? The ref is going to allow this? Barnett brings up a neat point that Okada's look is a reference to Asian good luck charms to bring in lots of money. Neat bit of info there. The crowd is already chanting for Okada while the Bullet Club go too sweet. We come back from the commercial break as we get this match underway. Some circling around leads into a lock up that rolls into the corner. Okada goes for a hit, but just pats Styles on the chest instead. Armbar by Styles into a wristlock, Okada rolls out of it into the reversal then AJ counters right into a side headlock. Okada rolls into getting a side headlock on the mat. Okada shot into the ropes and Styles leapfrogs into a roll up and into a series of arm drags before a standoff. Styles rolls out of the ring after that. Great chain wrestling to start. Styles gets back in the ring and we restart into in a knuckle lock but Styles kicks and then hammers on Okada's back. Styles goes into the ropes and runs right into a HIGH Backdrop. With Styles retreating into the corner, Okada hits some strikes and gets Styles down and hits a running low dropkick into the praying headlock. One of the derp club members jumps up briefly to break the lock but Okada goes right back to Styles but then starts in with the Club. Styles tries to attack but Okada counters and hits the ropes when Amber Gallows grabs the foot and Styles hits a spinning kick. Okada goes down as Styles hits a high knee drop as we go to break. After the billionth commercial for David Hasselhoff's new stupid show, we are back in the action. Styles brings Okada to his feet and pays for it as Okada hits some strikes, but rebounds off the ropes right into a Bret Hart backbreaker and then snaps Okada's throat right under the bottom rope. Okada to the floor as the Club beat up on him and the Ref just stands there with his finger up his nose. Okada back in as Styles hits a snap suplex. Okada gets up and hits the forearms but once again rebounds off the ropes right into a dropkick. Okada goes outside and ONCE AGAIN, the club beats on him. Red Shoes the ref finally sends them out and act like babies the whole time as Karl Anderson calls the ref a son of a bitch. Nothing is happening in the ring before Red Shoes comes back. Styles grabs a takedown on Okada and grinds down on him in a chinlock then into a headlock. Okada elbows out and hits some forearms to Styles, but AGAIN, goes to the rope where he is met with a strike. Okada returns and gets a running start into a big hit as they both go down. We come out of a break of all the same AXS commercials they've played too many damn times and we aren't even halfway done. Both guys struggle to get up and Okada lands a forearm strike and hits a DDT with a kip up. He gets Styles up on the ropes for a dropkick but Styles kicks away from that but gets met with a strike anyway.  Into the corner and Styles hits Bloody Sunday DDT! He whips Okada into the corner but Okada sends Styles over the rope onto the apron. Styles goes for the over the rope forearm but Okada gets him on the ropes. Okada NAILS his high dropkick to send AJ out of the ring to the floor. Styles against the barricade but Styles reverse and nails Okada sending the both into the ringside seats. He drags Okada back into the ring and goes inside. Okada tries a strike but Styles hits a flapjack and goes for the pin, only to get two. Styles puts Okada in the corner and goes for a dive but Okada moves and Styles goes into the corner. Styles goes to the apron for his flying forearm but Okada nails the dropkick again right to the gut. Okada hits a knee and gets Styles up into a suplex position but Styles elbows out. Styles hits his own suplex and then rolls out of the ring and gets his slingshot forearm. Styles tries for a styles clash but Okada reverses it into a ushigoroshi neckbreaker! Back from another break as both guys get up and Okada goes for the tombstone but Styles blocks it. Okada with a forearm and Styles hits back. Exchange now as they just going back and forth and then nose to nose before Okada hits the Dory Funk Jr. uppercuts. Styles with a big hit and floors Okada. Styles with a chop and then goes for the ropes to run right into a Dropkick. Okada gets him up in the tombstone, Styles counters, Okada counters, Styles counters and finally hits it. He goes to the apron and hits the springboard 540 splash. He goes for the pin but Okada kicks out. The crowd goes wild as Styles tries to pick Okada back up but he's no go. A.J. goes outside and climbs the buckle taking Okada up with him. Okada hits a few palm strikes and gets Styles up in the fireman's carry, but DROPS HIM. Oh wow, Styles tumbles down to the apron and the floor. That's not good. Styles climbs right back up(!) to the apron and goes for another springboard and Okada nails him with another dropkick. Both guys got hurt on that one. Okada gets Styles up and hits the tombstone! He picks Styles up and goes for the Rainmaker but Style hit's the Pele kick. The crowd goes "oooooh." Styles goes for the Styles clash Okada counters out, Styles counters into a roll up, and they reverse it before Okada drills Styles with a clothesline. Styles back up and Okada goes for the Rainmaker, Styles ducks it and goes for a suplex, but Okada reverses that. Okada NAILS a back suplex and then hits the Rainmaker and gets the win! Holy crap what a finish! We come back from break as both guys are still down and I don't blame them. Okada gets up and leans on the ropes before he is presented with the belt. He gives the rainmaker pose and the crowd goes wild for it. Gedo has the mic. Rainmaker's property has returned to his waist. He will win G1, Tokyo Dome, and be unopposed from now on. Okada has some words for the crowd. He will win the G1 tournament. He will show us all a bright future and take ALL of Pro Wrestling to the next level, and then the money will reign Backstage Styles falls on his face on the floor. Okada has some words saying he couldn't wish for more being in a sold-out building and winning the belt.  He wants to come to the Osaka-Jo every year. They drink beer to celebrate as Gedo DOWNS this beer. Gedo says it's a good beer but Okada's never had it before. That must be some damn good beer. In the studio, Okada says he was nervous but it felt great to beat the guy who beat him for the title. Styles is a great wrestler and he raised Okada's caliber.  This is just one of those matches where my words do not do it justice. This was a great main event and both guys brought everything. I'm not a fan of the Bullet Club crap in the beginning, but I guess you'd have to establish why the club wasn't running down to help Styles later and allow the Okada win to take place. A great way to end these matches from this show! See you all next time!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Dominion's main event!
Hello, Japanator readers and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Ths week we conclude our look at the 2015 Dominion card with the main event of that show. We've had some incredible action so far from this show so this is expected to be a real barn burner. So let us go back one last time to the Osaka-Jo Hall and July 5, 2015, for the action!

Strong Style: Osaka ass-kicking time!

Apr 16 // Soul Tsukino
We start things off with a greeting from Hirooki Goto   IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA Omega took himself out of the Super Jr.'s tournament and challenged whoever won the tournament. Makes sense. Kushida won with a stellar victory over kyle O'Reilly so the Time Splitter gets the shot. The men have met before and there is no love lost here so this should be good. Kushida comes out first carrying the trophy for winning the BOTSJ tournament. The Cleaner comes out with the Bucks with him, of course, and sweeping a broom down the ramp in an oddly cartoony kind of way. The ref holds up the belt and we get started with some staring but Omega smacks Kushida right in the mouth with a slap. Kushida doesn't take kindly to that and start throwing some strikes of his own. H picks Kenny up into a reverse atomic drop and then nails him with a dropkick. Kenny quickly stops this onslaught by grabbing Kushida right b the belt and launching him outside. Kenny goes out after him but Kushida meets him and sends him into the metal barrier. He grabs a trashcan that the buck brought out and puts it on Omega before landing a dropkick sending the cleaner out into the front row. Omega stumbles back into ringside but Kushida grabs his arm and bashes it on the metal barrier. Kushida gets back in the ring and Kenny rolls in. Omega somehow fires off a dropkick sending Kushida back outside and Kenny gets a running start and does a big swan dive over the top rope! We cut ahead now as both guys are back in the ring. Kenny gets the full nelson for the dragon suplex but Kushida squirms out. Kushida gets out of another lock attempt that ends out with Omega going flying outside. The bucks try to help him up but Kushida jumps on the turnbuckle and does his own swan dive on all three men! Back from commercial as Kushida rolls back in the ring. Omega stumbles in but Kushida hits the running dropkick and then leaps up top for a moonsault that only gets two. Running kick to the face! Kushida goes for the arm lock but Kenny scoops Kushida up into a stampede into the corner and a clothesline. Kushida gets up and goes for the baseball punch but Omega counters into the full nelson and a suplex. Both get up and trade a few kicks before Kenny gets caught and sent right into the middle buckle face first. Kushida lands a kick to Kenny's arm as he gets up and then locks in the hoverboard lock! Omega is struggling but finally gets to the ropes! Kushida goes after the arm again with an arm wrench and then lands a standing enziguri. He seems to have tweaked his knee landing for the enziguri, but he tries for a springboard back elbow, only to get kicked right in the knees. Omega slaps Kushida few times before he grabs him and sends him on the top turnbuckle. Kushida fights him off but Kenny jumps right back up. Kushida sends Omega down but Kenny gets up and goes back up and gets a leg locked suplex. Kenny goes for the pin but pulls the tights too much as Kushida squirms out. Kenny goes for the gutwrench but can't get it because of his arm Somehow Kenny gets up and gets Kushida up with a powerbomb with one arm. Pin gets 2. Omega goes for the one-winged-angel but Kushida counters out into a Pele kick. Kenny gets hit with a suplex and nearly loses but Kushida's leg gives out and he can't get the pinfall. Kushida goes up and tries for a corkscrew but misses. Omega nailed him with a high knee to the face and then goes for the one-winged-angel but Kushida gets the hoverboard lock in for the counter. Omega nearly gets to the ropes but Kushida brings him back in and the cleaner submits! We have a new champion! Hell of a match! Backstage Omega says the title is now garbage because Kushida holds it and he has to clean him out. Kushida said he had to win for all those he beat in the tournament. He takes pride in the match and that New Japan can count on him. We get some words from Goto. He talks about only being in the arena for concerts before and how it is a great crowd. He doesn't really want to talk about the match but he wished it was the main event. He was angry at Nakamura after all he did and had to beat him in their last match for it.   IWGP Intercontinental Title Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Shinsuke mocked Goto leading up to their previous match by6 saying that he couldn't see Goto as a challenger for his title, even making mocking binnocular motions at him during a tag match. When they met one on one goto took Nakamura to the limit and beat him for the belt. I bet Nakamura sees him now!  Nakamura comes out in a red sequence ninja gear. complete with face mask and headband. A sight to behold. JR compares Nakamura to Shawn Michaels and Goto to Bret Hart. Good comparison t make when you think about the two guys and their approach to things. Back from Commercial and we get started. Nakamura  gets off a few stray kicks but they do nothing. Cautious knuckle lock starts into a Goto waist lock counter into a Nakamura  wristlock. Trading an arm lock as Josh talks about training with Goto. Nakamura  counters out of a lock into a cartwheel into a reverse into a headlock. Nice chain! Goto sucks Nakamura  in and gets a headlock Into the ropes and Nakamura  does his belly thing again. Goto goes for him but Nakamura  spins right around and nearly nails Goto but Goto reverses and sends Nakamura  down for a pin that gets 2. He applies a chinlock and drives an elbow into the head. Goto then cranks onto a headlock and then into the leg scissors. Nakamura  gets into the ropes but Goto squeezes a bit more before the break. Elbow to the neck as the story is being told of Goto going for Nakamura's neck now. Goto gets Nakamura  into the corner and gets a few strikes. Whip into the corner but Nakamura reverses and goes for the high knee but misses. Goto strikes sending Nakamura out. Nakamura  lands the apron kick and then a knee lift before dragging Goto around and sending him into the barrier. Nakamura then lands a knee right to Goto's back sending him outside the barrier. Returning from the break as Nakamura is back in the ring. Goto gets back in and is a met with a kick by Nakamura. Snapmare into another knee into a chinlock. Goto gets in the ropes and Nakamura  breaks. Arrogant kicks by Nakamura  and it's pissing Goto off. Nakamura  then shuts it down with a kick to the chest. Nakamura  starts messing with him again and Goto strikes back. Nakamura  tries a running strike but gets an elbow to the mouth for his trouble. Both guys trade forearm shots. Nakamura tries to run the ropes, but Goto does the same, going for a clothesline. Nakamura catches him and gives him a suplex! Nakamura sends him into the ropes but Goto bounces off and counters into the clothesline. He lands some tough kicks and sends him into the corner and into a perfect bulldog! There is a move you don't see much of in Japan! Pin only gets two and Goto goes for another suplex. but Nakamura is in the ropes.  Knee by Nakamura  into a spin kick that takes Goto down. Nakamura  goes for a kick but Goto catches him. Nakamura lands and a knee and sends him into the corner for Good vibrations. He goes for the big face wash but Goto moves out of the way. Nakamura catches him though and gets him up on the buckle for the running kick. Nakamura tries for a pin but doesn't get it Both guys struggle up and Goto fires off the ropes but runs right into a kick to the mush. Shinsuke tries for a pin but is unsuccessful. He starts in with the MMA knees to the head and then goes for the booma ye but Goto dodges it. Both guys get back to their feet. Goto tries for a clothesline but Nakamura a counters right into an armlock then into a triangle choke! Goto gets into the ropes to break it. Nakamura  gets a standing front facelock before sliding into a sleeper with a body scissors. Goto fights out of nearly passing out and they stand up before Nakamura  hits a lung blower and then a reverse powerslam. Nakamura  hypes himself up and goes for the Boomaye and gets NAILED with a clothesline! We are back as both men struggle up. Goto goes for the Saito suplex and Nakamura  tries to counter but Goto gets it anyway and nearly gets the pin off it. Nakamura  sent into the corner and hit with a clothesline to the back of the head. Goto picks him up and sits him on the top buckle before dropping him with a hanging neckbreaker. Goto lands some strikes but Nakamura struggles up into the corner. He picks Nakamura  up on the buckle again and tries for the ushigoroshi but Nakamura slides out and NAILS a superbomb on Goto and then hits the boomaye! Nakamura's in pain now with his neck and can't make the cover.  Both up now as Nakamura  hits an elbow and they start exchanging strikes right to the head before Nakamura  hits a scissors kick and Hits the boomaye again and goes for the pin but Goto kicks out! Goto dodges two more boomaye kicks and catches Nakamura  and hits the ushigoroshi! He hits the shotenkai and goes for the pin but Nakamura  kicks out! Goto hits some headbutts and gets in the shotenkai again for the pinball and the win! Goto beats him again! Backstage Nakamura  is in a stairwell. He wonders why there is so much press back there. He says there is some magic in that belt insinuating a rematch Back in the ring, Goto gives a BANZAI! to the crowd. He leads a cheer from the ramp. Backstage he says that losing here wouldn't change anything so he had to win. His next goal is the G1. Studio words as Goto talks about breaking the pattern of Nakamura  beating guys in rematches and once again says that he is focused o the G1 tournament. With that, we end the show. These were both great matches. This shows that Kenny Omega can have really good matches when he and the Bucks aren't dicking around on the outside. The IC title match was even across the board and both guys brought a lot into the match. great show tonight! Next week is the main event as we see A.J. Styles defend his title against the Rainmaker! See you then! /ul/34951-/match 2-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Another helping from Osaka
Welcome back puro fans to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Before we begin I'd like to send my thoughts to those in the Kyushu area of Japan right now as they've been hit with a couple of s...

Manga and Recovery: Reopening a comic museum in Kamen Rider's hometown

Apr 12 // Yussif Osman
The people of Tohoku are unique in all of Japan, they have their own dialect, their own food and attitude, they're louder, more themselves than the rest of what is quite a conservative country. I found the people very brave and very proud, heroically living through and beyond what befell them in 2011, and so it doesn't surprise me that many of the most iconic and heroic manga characters originate from this amazing part of Japan. As I get off the bus at Ishinomaki, a town in Tohoku's Miyagi prefecture, severely affected by the tsunami, I have certain expectations, I basically expect devastation. But that's not what I find. Instead, I'm confronted by statues of Kamen Rider and his contemporaries. The members of Cyborg 009 are striking poses and Astroboy is with them. This way, people who arrive at Ishinomaki station by Robocon covered train or bus, get a flavour of the true character of this place instead of just associating it with tragedy, the way much of the world has. Instead, travellers are met with colour and hope. Among the heroes which adorn the city, there's also Robocon and Sea Jetter, plentiful in murals and wall art alongside posing statues. Amazingly, many of these statues actually survived the tsunami, defying tragedy itself and becoming symbols of hope. And there is sincerely something super heroic about this place, the way people continue to live and who they are. People laugh and gather, eat heartily and celebrate what they share at every opportunity, they work through dark hours, from 2am onwards, harvesting catches from the sea and come to one another's aid, to pull their lives out of the rubble and build something new. Miyagi is home to the world's largest temporary housing camp for displaced people in the world, in the form of the kasetsu units, but many of these kasetsu have been converted into entrepreneurial hubs, restaurants and bakeries; people make more than the most of what they have, in fact they redefined their entire situation. In the town of Funakoshi, a fisherman named Nakasato (in the absence of the town's traditional leadership) brings his community together to rebuild and aspire, they gather in the local school and celebrate their harvests of seaweed and fish whilst putting together plans to move their town uphill, away from the waters. In Ishinomaki, an amazing woman named Hashimoto cooks nightly a feast for volunteers and community members, bringing immense warmth to the oceanic cold. The town holds children's festivals and local organisations like It's Not Just Mud whom I worked with, build amazing playgrounds and return to the sea to swim and reclaim the community's heritage. Throughout my time there, I found people speak little about what befell them, instead they speak of the present and the future, making plans and moving forward. For some, that's opening a sake store or reopening a community antique shop, others are focused on their next harvest of clams or their next shipment of crafts, others are planning the reconstruction of their town and others looking forward to the next gathering, to the next community meal. I found the manga characters which adorn the city allegorical (and I believe the community does as well) to the state of the community itself. Sea Jetter defies the calamities of the sea themselves, Cyborg 009 are a family and team who through working together can achieve anything, Robocon and Astroboy are both gentle and mighty and Takeshi Hongo, the Kamen Rider, all in all represents every act of tenacity and heroism. So though as a manga fan, I may have been looking forward to the reopening of the UFO-shaped Ishinomaki Mangattan, or Manga Museum, I couldn't imagine how much it meant to the people who actually lived there and their children. The days following the re-opening ceremony are immensely moving, costumed characters await at the doors to greet children and they're all there, from the members of Cyborg 009 to Kamen Rider. The community has been making steps towards recovery gradually, but this is a milestone, this is to celebrate all that. Artwork adorns the second floor above the gift shop, including concept art and original manga pages, as well as a movie theatre where never before shown short adaptations of manga are seen. And on the third floor is something out of a dream, a manga library containing a boundless collection of ongoing and completed series from Dragonball to Sailor Moon and Prince of Tennis. Among the celebrated creators in town is Osamu Tezuka, manga pioneer and arguably the father of modern manga. But here, I'd like to place particular emphasis on Shotaro Ishinomori, creator of both one of the first superhero teams in Japan in the form of Cyborg 009 and the iconic tokusatsu series Kamen Rider. Ishinomori was a native of Tohoku's own Miyagi prefecture, making the region home of Kamen Rider, the Cyborg team and Ganbare!! Robocon, which Ishinomori also created. The result was that the Mangattan's official name would actually be the Ishinomori Manga Museum. In fact, Ishinomaki itself is often considered the home town of Kamen Rider. In my time in Ishinomaki, I would also be confronted with a high density of promotional art for the upcoming film 009 Re: Cyborg, a continuation of the Cyborg 009 series, based on an Ishinomori story, entrenching the characters' presence in Miyagi and presenting the community's children and people with yet something more to look forward to as they continue to pull their lives back together. Ishinomori's work may have brought joy to people across Japan for decades, but I believe most vitally it has helped lift the hearts of local people and augment the sentiment that there are things to look forward to, that life is worth living and that we should never give up. Remember every cheesy yet cool moment from a manga? Well in Ishinomaki they mattered, they and their characters still do. I once had a disagreement with a friend of mine shortly after the tsunami, he said that the last thing people would care about after the disaster was manga or anime, but after going there myself, I found that that was very, very far from the truth. I hope that in time, Tohoku will be known for what it's culture and what its people celebrate and have achieved, rather than for what befell them, for hope, pride and the Tohoku way.
Ishinomaki Manga Museum photo
The role of manga in post-tsunami Tohoku
Everyone knows what happened in March 2011, everyone has heard about the tsunami and the earthquake and Fukushima, that's why I went, but what I discovered when I arrived is something the world hasn't paid the same level of a...

Strong Style: Back for more!

Apr 09 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted this week by "Mr. Charisma" Katsuyori Shibata! Tetsuya Naito/Tomoaki Honma vs. The Bullet Club (Back Luck Fale/Yujiro Takahashi) This is an odd one. The Bullet Club enters with a cute girl on Takahashi's arm. Jim Ross makes a Rick Rude and Ric Flair reference with these two guys in the ring. I swear I can hear the spinning from Rude's grave as he says that. Honma comes out for his team. "Honma is a unique guy"- Jim Ross. As he gets in the ring The Club attack as Naito just kinda hangs back and lets it happen. Yep, Naito heel turn coming. The bell rings with Yujiro beating on Honma, who hasn't even got his coat off. Naito doesn't seem to really care as he dicks around at ringside. Yujiro tries for a suplex but Honma gets him over instead and takes off the jacket. He tries for a tag and Naito again doesn't care. Honma tries for the headbutt and Fale runs him over like a truck. Yujiro takes back over with some punches and the crowd starts in with the Honma chant. Whip into the corner as Fale comes in and kicks and punches  before going for the corner charge but misses. Honma goes for the tag and gets nothing. Fale slams Honma hard but the pin only gets two. Fale goes for the bad luck fall but Honma wiggles out and lands some clotheslines to Fale and it takes three shots off the ropes to take him down. Naito finally tags in and lands a low dropkick and takes both guys down before he just sits in the ring a bit before decided to hop up top and hits a diving moonsault on the Club outside the ring. Back from break, as Naito is sitting in the ring, looking bored. Fale climbs back in and Naito hit Fale with a dropkick and then a low dropkick to the knee. Naito then locks in the figure-four and the crowd in booing. Fale gets into the ropes and breaks. Fale gets up and flattens Naito with a clothesline before tagging in Takahashi. Naito comes off the ropes and hits a flying forearm. Honma wants the tag and Naito doesn't do it so he tags himself in and gets some running shots in before being taken down. He ends up fighting off both guys as Naito is outside the ring looking bored again. Fale lands a massive clothesline and Yujiro tries a pin but fails. Yujiro gets a gut wrench up but topples over with Honma landing on Yujiro's head. Honma hits a running headbutt but only gets two . Yujiro and Honma exchange hits before Honma hits a headbutt and then a slam before climbing up for the kokeshi headbutt and he LANDS IT! Honma gets the win! Naito just walks away. Honma wants him back in the ring but Naito gets in and walks right back out again. Backstage Naito rambles a bit before if the reporter remembers the name of his "team" of Los Ingobernables (we'll see more of that soon enough).  Honma wonders what was he thinking. NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii Here we go again! These guys have a long history going back 6 or 7 years when Ishii turned on Makabe when Global Bash Heel broke up to form CHAOS. Recently they've been feuding over the title and damn near killing each other every time. By the way, before this one starts, as I was putting this  together I found this picture: I don't know the context or where this picture is from, but I can't stop laughing and also I'm now hungry for pastry and fruit. Togi seems the same. Can we make this a meme? ANYWAY "Are you in the mood for a slobberknocker?" - Jim Ross. If there ever was an appropriate time for THAT question, this would be it. Ishii comes out and we get a "Killer" Karl Kox reference out of JR. Stare down right at the start. Hard lock up now. Ishii has the lock up before running off the ropes and running OVER Makabe with a clothesline. Screw that "feeling out process" garbage! Togi rolls right out of the ring as Ishii climbs up the rope?!? He JUMPS OFF THE TOP ROPE with a cannonball and clips Makabe right in the shoulder! DAMN! Togi rolls into the ring but he's in pain. Ishii starts with chops and headbutts as he puts Togi down, But Makabe is back up but Ishii lands more chops to send him down again. Ishii gets Togi over with a suplex. Ishii lands a few headbutts but Togi gets up again and lands a forearm. He rebounds back and Togi gets a powerslam. Ishii tossed into the corner where Togi lands the punches to the head and a northern lights suplex for 2. Makabe pops him right in the head. Ishii lands a forearm and then goes to works with chops and strikes right to the center of the chest. Ishii then gets a powerslam in but again only gets 2. Togi is asking for a strike now and it's only pissing him off. Togi strikes right to Ishii's head and now they are swinging strikes at each other. Right to head! Ishii lands a hit to the jaw but goes off the ropes and runs right into a clothesline. Double strike and both guys go down. Ishii gets up and lands the running low clothesline on a sitting Togi. Ishii strikes him again but BARELY gets only two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Makabe knees him in the head to counter. Togi picks him up and snake eyes right to the face. He locks in the full nelson and gets the dragon suplex but only gets 2 again. Togi gets another clothesline and then hits another to the back of Ishii's head. That will shorten your career. Togi runs him over a third time but Ishii throws a strike to Togi's neck. They trade strikes to the neck and Makabe ends up the better and Ishii is hurt now. Togi picks him up and hits a series of clotheslines and Ishii is out. The doctor is checking on him but Togi yells at the old fart and then Togi picks Ishii up on the ropes and hits the spider German suplex as he climbs the ropes with the King Kong knee drop and gets the win! We get words from Shibata now. Sakuraba was the one who brought him there and how they started as a team but began to focus on himself more. He started to like pro wrestling more and feels Sakuraba wasn't expecting that. Osaka Jo is where he had his first match after training with Sakuraba so it is only fair that the match happens here. He got motivated after Sakuraba defeated him last time they met. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: The story here is that Sakuraba trained Shibata in MMA and they had a match against each other in PRIDE back in 2007. They were partners when Shibata returned to NJPW but Shibata has gone on his own way. Sakuraba comes out wearing that weird mask of his. It's like a kabuki mask with horns on it. I liked his EVA entrance better. Josh talks about their MMA match in 2007 in PRIDE fighting. Shibata oddly takes him time coming out but pops up and deadpan walks his way to the ring. He walks right up to Sakuraba and glares at him. Back from break, as the match begins. Circling to begin before going into the wristlock, Double body hug into the ropes. Shibata with a smack in the back on the break. With a trade of some kicks before they go down to the mat and Sakuraba goes for the armlock. Shibata counters out and we go back up. Shibata goes for the full nelson and then for a penalty kick but Sakuraba escapes that. Both go out but Sakuraba right gets in and attacks with kicks on Shibata. Shibata gets him in the corner and goes for the running knee but Sakuraba follows him in with a strike and then a choke, Shibata throws Sakuraba down and growls at him before landing a running kick. Strikes sends Sakuraba down before Shibata gets a hanging dropkick to the face and then another one! Shibata lands a knee strike and then does some goofy kicks to Sakuraba's head. He kicks Sakuraba in the chest and then stomps on the heads in the ropes. Sakuraba leaps right up and gets into Shibata's face before landing some knee strikes and then kneeing him into the corner! He strips the pad off his foot and lands some strong kicks right into the chest and Shibata BEGS him to give him more! Finally, he gets enough and falls over. Sakuraba lands a strong knee strike and Shibata is outside the ring. Sakuraba LAUNCHES himself over the top to Shibata on the outside! Talk about uncharacteristic. He didn't learn that from PRIDE. Back from break, as both are outside the ring. Sakuraba rolls back in and Shibata crawls into the ring . He jumps up and nails Sakuraba with a running knee and sends Sakuraba down. He goes for a leg lock but Sakuraba grabs and ankle lock before transitioning to a rear chinlock and into a sleeper. Sakuraba goes and wrenches back on BOTH arms and Shibata had to get the rope break with his teeth. Sakuraba breaks and then gets hit with a clothesline for his trouble. Sakuraba scrambles and gets a rolling pin for two but he grabs and armlock while using his own shinbone to choke Shibata. That's neat! Shibata gets to the rope Sakuraba gets up and lands some kicks on Shibata and then goes for a wristlock again. They get up and into the ropes where Shibata shoos him off but he goes right back to it. Shibata lands a suplex and a big kick He picks Sakuraba up for something but Sakuraba gets a rear choke into the sleeper and Katsuyori fights out of it! Sakuraba goes for the kick and Shibata slaps him in the face before locking into his own sleeper. Sakuraba counters with an armlock but Shibata lands some knees and locks in the rear sleeper again. Shibata shoots off the ropes and DRILLS a penalty kick onto Sakuraba and gets the win! As Sakuraba is nearly unconcious in the ring, Shibata calmly walks out of the ring, up the ramp and turns, making a small bow. Backstage Shibata says that Sakuraba is as tough as he always was and that this was a big day for him in Osaka. He says the bow after the match means he respects Sakuraba for all he has done. He hopes Sakuraba gets a better taste of today's wrestling. Studio words as Shibata thinks Sakuraba was having fun during the match and even used a plancha during the match to show how much he got into it. I can't imagine getting your face kicked as being fun but whatever, right? We get some wrap-up and end it for the week. This was a fun one with three big matches and they were all good. Even with the storyline of Naito turning heelish in the tag match it still was a good showing and kinda cool that Honma bassically won the thing on his own. Next week we have Shibata's buddy Hirooki goto and Shinsuke Nakamura in what is sure to be a rip-snortah (to quote Michael Chavello) and more! See you then! /ul/34929-strong-style-back-for-more-/Match 1-noscale.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Makabe and Ishii have more fun
Hello Hello, fans and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at new Japan Pro wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are back at the Osaka-Jo Hall looking at the Dominion card from 2015. This week's matches are a bit of a ...

Strong Style: No Foolin'

Apr 02 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Jr. Tag Title: Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Reddragon These three teams lock horns again for these belts because they are pretty much the entire Jr. Tag team division.  JR makes note this is the first time NJPW has been in this arena in 21 years. We have truncated entrances. The Bucks have Cody Hall with them and are the champions coming into this match. We start with Matt Jackson and Beretta and JR mentions both guys are wearing headbands and how that would have driven Bill Watts bonkers back in the day. Listening to the story of Ol' Cowboy Bill and biscuits, that doesn't surprise me. Kyle tags in and gets a headlock on Baretta and the Bucks interfere but the men in the ring send them out to the floor. Rocky tags in and get some kicks on Kyle before landing a senton for a 2 count. Fish comes in but Matt Jackson tags him out quick. Matt tries something on Rocky, but Rocky pops him right in the mouth. Matt tries to tag out but Reddragon leaves him inside. Rocky then goes ballistic with his corner clotheslines. The Bucks bail and try to leave, but Reddragon stops them at ringside, only to have Vice dive over the ropes and nail them. The Jackson go back out and superkick both men of Vice on the ramp abut Rocky makes it before 20. The Jackson's then land double kicks from the ring and a dive from Matt takes out all four opponents. Back from break as Barretta is going to town on everyone. He takes out both Jacksons and then hits a swinging DDT on Fish. The Jacksons hit each other on the ring apron and the Vice hits a double team on one of the Jacksons. Back in the ring, Rocky goes off with his clotheslines again on both Reddragon. Rocky hits a diving dropkick on Nick Jackson who is hanging on the ropes and nearly gets a pin. Bobby Fish gets hit by both Vice members before Kyle comes in and takes them both out. Rocky up top but Reddragon takes him down with double kick. Fish hits a top rope falcon arrow and tries for the pin but it's broken up. Fish tries a heel hook on Romero, but both Jacksons dive in from the top to break things up. Nick hits the running cannonball and a senton but only gets two count. They go for the buckle bomb kick combo. The Bucks set Romero up for a top rope suplex but Beretta throws one of the Bucks into a suplex but he rolls threw it. O' Reilly goes for the tombstone and the Bucks land kicks on Romero who is then dropped on his head, then kick Kyle too. The Bucks land the More bang for your buck to win the match to retain the titles. Backstage the Bucks toot their own horn and say they are the main event no matter what match on the card they are on. They bring prestige to the titles or so they say. IWGP Tag Titles: The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club Revenge match time as Anderson and Gallows look to get their titles back. The last time we saw these two team Karl Anderson said he was DONE with Maria. We will see about that loverboy. The Club comes out first with Amber in their corner. "Hi Maria!"- Karl Anderson. Oh lord Kingdom comes out and the hentai camera guy is already at it again. We jump in with all four men go right at it. Karl goes out and Kingdom goes to work on Doc. Punches and dropkicks before a clothesline sends Doc out and then a Kingdom dive sends them both down. We go with Taven and Doc in the ring with Taven landing the springboard kick to the mush. Gallows saves the pin but that only leads to the Kingdom working over Anderson more. They work over Doc before going back to Karl who is looking at Maria and gets his ass kicked for it. The Club then work over Taven with kicks and punches but doesn't get the pin. Anderson hits an F5 and nearly gets the pin but he is looking at Maria. Count gets two. Maria climbs up on the apron and screams at Anderson but he is still drooling. Doc comes in and what he says he is going to do to Maria is not repeatable. Maria jumps down as Karl starts after her and she runs right into Amber who drops her. She climbs into the ring where the Bullet Club is waiting for her. She then proceeds to kick both of them in the balls. Back to Anderson and Taven before Bennett comes on and nearly gets the pin. We skip ahead now as Kingdom goes for a spike piledriver but Amber stops with a trip. Maria jumps up to protest but Doc KICKS HER IN THE HEAD. Bennett is PISSED but Doc and Anderson double up on him before hitting the magic killer for the pin as the Bullet Club win back the titles! We see another look at Doc kicking Maria right in the side of the head and then showing her laid out on the floor. In the studio now as Tanahashi said it was excited to be in the Osaka-Jo Hall. He is mad that because of Yano he is not in the main event at this arena and Okada is. Yano is a strong guy and has a strong grip in his matches Hiroshi admits. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano As we saw here a number of weeks back, this stems from the first round of the New Japan cup where Yano scored a major upset and pinned Tanahashi. Since then they've met in some tag matches and Tanahashi scored a win over Yano the last time we saw them face each other. Yano comes out with a handful of DVDS a chair and a bottle of water. Fitting this guy is in the main event of the April Fool's episode.  Josh pretty much said Yano was a pain in the ass during his training days and followed comics as much as wrestlers. Hiroshi comes out playing air guitar. He also has a bandage on the side of his head. That probably hurt. We are back as action starts. Yano avoids the lock up and hangs on the ropes screaming at the ref. Hiroshi misses a clothesline and Yano tries to get into the ropes to protect himself but Hiroshi slides out of the ring and grabs Yano's feet, straggling Yano in the ropes. Hiroshi then opens up with elbows and forearms. Yano goes for the hair pull pin again but Tanahashi kicks out. Yano gets whipped into the ropes but holds on. He goes right for the buckle pad but we see Tanahashi doing the same thing in the opposite corner! Hiroshi grabs hold of Yano and tries to send him into the buckle but Toru stops short. Tanahashi charges and he runs right into the buckle. Yano hits a leg sweep and sends Hiroshi outside the ring and into the barricade. Hiroshi reveres a whip sending Yano into the barrier, but in the follow-up charge, Hiroshi goes over the barrier and slams his head on the floor. Yano grabs Tanahashi and drags him into the audience and starts beating on him. Yano bolts back into the ring as Hiroshi struggles to get up as the count is going. He just makes it in the ring right before the 20 count. He gets met with a kick to the head. Tanahashi gets up and is met with an eye rake before Yano sends him into the bare buckle again. Tanahashi goes to the apron and Yano strangles him on the ropes before putting his fingers up Tanahashi's nose. Yano tries another whip into the buckle but Tanahashi reverses it. He hits a flying forearm on Yano but only gets two. Tanahashi hits a sweet elbow strike combo but Yano kicks him in the guts to stop that. Tanahashi grabs Yano by the hair and goes for the cradle pin but it only gets two. Yano back up tries to throw Tanahashi over the top rope but he skins the cat Steamboat style and gets a full nelson on Yano who tries for the rope. Hiroshi switches to a waistlock and then lands a German suplex. Hiroshi goes up top but Yano shoves the ref into the ropes sending Tanahashi down on the buckle. Yano grabs Hiro and lands a powerbomb into a cover. We return from commercial with both guys are just getting up. Hiroshi goes for the charge but Yano pulls the ref in and he gets squashed. Yano somehow gets a chair and waffles Hiroshi with it. Hiro recovers and hits the slingblade before heading up. He hits the high fly flow but Yano covers himself with the chair and Tanahashi rolls off in pain. Tanahashi gets up and goes for a dropkick but Yano catches him and slingshots him into the bare buckle AGAIN. He then hits a powerbomb right onto the CHAIR. Can't feel good. Pin only gets two though. Yano tries for a cradle but Tanahashi blocks it. Tanahashi is sent into the metal buckle AGAIN before Yano grabs a handful of tights for a 2 count. Yano kicks low for another failed pin attempt. Hiroshi had enough of this and kicks Yano right in the balls but can't get the pin either! Back up, Tanahashi hits a rolling neckbreaker. He then hits the slingblade clothesline before he heads up and hits the high fly flow! He gets the pin and Revenge is sweet!  Tanahashi is holding his balls but he is celebrating while Yano is rolled out of the ring. Backstage Tanahashi he gives credit to Yano. He says that Yano is talented in strange ways. Tanahashi is disappointed he's not in the main event. In the studio, he talks about being revived by this match and being ready for the G1 climax with this win and we head out for the week!   A mixed bag this week. Honestly, the 3-way tag match didn't feature anything that these teams don't already do in EVERY MATCH they do. It was alright if a bit predictable. The Tag match was better than that god awful mixed match they had. The Main event was good so the show isn't bad, but not out of the park either. Next week we take another look at Dominion with Sakuraba taking on Shibata! See you all then! IWGP Tag Titles: The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club Revenge match time as Anderson and Gallows look to get their titles back. The last time we saw these two team Karl Anderson said he was DONE with Maria. We will see about that loverboy.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Starring Toru Yano of course!
Hello again you motley crew of April fools and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. While most wrestling fans have their eyes to Texas this weekend for Wrestlemania, we turn our eyes...

Strong Style: It doesn't get better than this!

Mar 26 // Soul Tsukino
We start the show with a greeting from Kushida. We start with some words from Kushida and he talks about being the favorite. He felt he had to keep up his game to be in that spot. He knows Kyle was popular in ROH but is a bit of an unknown as a singles guy in Japan. He wondered if the crowd would really get into Kyle as a wrestler but they seems to grasp it. He had faced Kyle in 3 way matches with Chris Sabin in the tour leading to the tournament, so he has some experience fighting him. Best of the Super Jr.s XXII Tournament Final: Kushida vs. Kyle O'Reilly Kyle comes out first as Josh Barnett talks about Kyle's MMA training. Kushida comes out to a neat video package showing movies of him as a kid and training to be a wrestler. JR mentions Kushida going to Canada and Mexico to train to be a wrestler, having to borrow money from his mom to do it. We get a Chris Benoit mention, still not quite used to that. We get the introductions before heading for a break. Bell rings and here we go! We start with some Greco-roman lock up attempts before Kyle takes Kushida down with a leg take down as Kyle start going for some soft lockup holds. Kushida reverses it and gets up and he starts in some soft locks as well. This is playing out more like an MMA fight as both guys trade mat work. Kyle gets Kushida in a knuckle lock and takes him down for the cover and a bridge. Kushida tricks Kyle on the canvas and goes for a leg lock but doesn't quite get it. We get a traditional lock up now as Kyle gets a headlock and into a shoot off the ropes as Kyle walks up Kushida's spine and then goes for a backslide. Kyle goes down from a low kick and then a dropkick to his head! Kushida locks in an armlock before Kyle rolls into the ropes. Kyle backs into the corner where he is met with some hard chops. Kushida whips Kyle into the corner but gets a boot to the face for his trouble. Kyle starts kicking away before going for a pin. Kyle takes Kushida and drops him in a backbreaker and then goes for another pin. Both guys get up and trade some strikes until Kyle wraps up Kushida's arm and drops him, making Kushida scream in pain. Kyle keeps working the arm with a bunch of strikes as Kushida's left arm is tied behind him. Kyle wraps up Kushida for a tie- up pin but transitions right into an octopus hold on the mat. Kushida in the ropes and breaks it up. Kushida gets some chops in but Kyle hits the arm and then locks in a butterfly on Kushida before suplexing him 3 times from that position! Back from break as O'Reilly tries for a suplex but Kushida fights out. He scrambles to the apron and grabs Kyle's arm and snaps it over the rope and then hits a springboard chop. He lands some kicks before hitting a springboard back elbow. Both guys avoid each other before getting into an arm lock chain of reversals before Kyle lands a kick and then locks in the front choke! Kushida grabs his arm and gets a wristlock to counter! Never seen that counter before. Kushida works the arm but Kyle counters out and goes up to the top. Kushida goes after him and they trade armlocks sitting on the ropes. Kyle, still holding the armlock, leaps off the ropes with Kushida and comes down right on Kushida's head! OUCH! Kyle locks in another armbar but the time Splitter gets out. They both get up but Kushida hits a German suplex and Kyle hits the ropes and gets hit with another! Kushida hits an armlock, but goes for a second and Kyle locks in the sleeper! Kushida counters out and gets nailed with a knee. Kyle goes to the ropes but Kushida hits a double heel kick sending Kyle outside. Kushida goes up top and hits a swan dive off the top outside. Kyle struggles into the ring and Kushida hits a dropkick. He goes up for a moonsault but Kyle catches him into an armlock. Kushida struggles and gets his foot under the ropes. Kyle sets up Kushida on the top rope and goes for the back suplex but Kushida elbows out and snaps Kyle's arm to send him off the ropes. Kushida tries to stand but Kyle hits him into pain, crotching the turnbuckle. He climbs up and lands the back suplex. Kyle goes for the pin but Kushida kicks out! Back from break, both guys are in pain on the mat. Kyle wills himself up first and lands a kick to Kushida's chest. He hits two more but Kushida catches his foot and launches into some strikes and kicks before Kyle catches Kushida and suplexes him. He goes for the pin but Kushida kicks out. They get up and Kyle lands a kick and then a strike right to the head, Kushida winds up and lands his baseball punch right to Kyle's face, drawing the attention of JR for using a clenched fist. Kushida hits a Pele kick and Kyle comes right back with a clothesline and a big suplex. Pin only gets 2 but Kyle goes right for the armlock and then into a reverse armbar that Kushida breaks on the ropes. Damn! The crowd is going crazy now as both guys are on the apron.  Kyle lands a kick and then tries for the arm but Kushida pushes him off. Kyle then gets the front Choke on before Kushida grabs him and hits a brainbuster right on the ring apron! Both guys barely make it back on the count of 19. Back from break now as both guys look like they've been through a war!  They have trouble getting up and only get to their knees before exchanging elbows and strikes. They finally get to their feet and Kushida hits some hard elbows right to the face! Kyle stays standing as they just grab each other and start whaling each other n the head before Kyle hits the discus punch and flattens Kushida! Replay shows it lands right in the side of the head and Kushida's hurt. Both guys get up in opposite corners and Kyle goes for the change but Kushida catches him and sends him face first into the corner. Kushida drives Kyle down and goes for the cover. Kushida climbs up the buckle and goes for corkscrew dive but he whiffs it, landing just off Kyle's head. Kushida goes for the pin anyway but Kyle kicks out. Kyle whips Kushida in but Kushida gets in the hoverboard lock! He tries to counter out but Kushida locks in a double wristlock and gets the submission! Hot damn was that a good match! Kushida celebrates but collapses. Both guys give each other the stare down and then they go to shake hands but Kyle bows to the canvas, Kushida reciprocates and Kyle raises the winner's arm. In the back, Kyle admits Kushida was the better man but vows that he will win the tournament the next year. Back in the ring Kushida receives the trophy and thanks the crowd for cheering for him. He asks the crowd to support the tournament next year. It's not about where you are from, it's where you are going, it's not about what you've done, it's what you are going to do. Words to live by. The other Japanese Jr.s come in and show their respect as well. Studio words as Kushida said that both men shared the passion for winning the tournament. He wishes to take the tournament to a bigger stadium and this match went in that favor. He says there are a few people he hasn't faced yet like Ricochet, Matt Sydel, and even his partner Alex Shelley. This match was amazing! This was totally different than what you would expect from these two. Even Josh and JR mentioned that this wasn't some foolhardy flip and fly contests, but a mostly mat wrestling game with both guys busting ass in there. This is one of the best matches I've seen on this show and probably the best Junior heavyweight match this show has produced.  I don't usually do this, but if you are a fan of good wrestling, Track down this match on Youtube or Dailymotion or NJPW world, whatever works for you, this one gets my highest recomendation. See you all next time! We start with some words from Kushida and he talks about being the favorite. He felt he had to keep up his game to be in that spot. He knows Kyle was popular in ROH but is a bit of an unknown as a singles guy in Japan. He wondered if the crowd would really get into Kyle as a wrestler but they seems to grasp it. He had faced Kyle in 3 way matches with Chris Sabin in the tour leading to the tournament, so he has some experience fighting him.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The Finals of the Super Jr.s
Greetings Puro fans and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Last week we took a look at the first day of competition from the 2015 Best of the Super Jr.s tournament. The competition...

Strong Style: Junior Tournament time!

Mar 19 // Soul Tsukino
The two blocks stack up like this: Block A: Jushin Liger, Ryuskue Taguchi, Yohei Komatsu, Baretta, Gedo, Barbaro Cavernario, Kyle O'Reily, Chase Owens Block B: Tiger Mask IV, Kushida, Alex Shelley, Mascara Dorada, David Finlay, Rocky Romero, Bobby Fish, Nick Jackson. Tonight we kick off things from the first night of the tournament. We are at the famed Sumo Hall on May 22, 2015 We are greeted by Gedo! BOTSJ Block A Tournament Bout: Jushin Liger vs. Yohei Komatsu Aw yeah, it's Liger bitches! Jushin is a LONG time veteran who may have lost a step and adjusted his style for his age, but he can still put on good matches. We've not seen any of the young lion in Yohei. Komatsu has only been wrestling for 3 years at this point and was largely an opening match trainee type. Basically, this is Liger teaching one of his students in front of a live crowd. Yohei comes out and he is fired up. Liger comes out and the crowd loves it. Yohei attacks before the bell and takes out the camera guy! Liger rolls to the outside and Yohei throws him back in and gets a top rope cannonball before getting some forearms in. Liger counters with a palm strike to end that. Liger lands a powerbomb. He gets some air and tosses Yohei outside the ring before going out and landing a brainbuster on the floor! Damn, these guys are fired up for this! Josh Barnett makes an interesting point that the weight limit for the Jr. Heavyweights is 220 pounds, which in regular terms is still a big guy. Might sound large today, but back in the day, 220 was considered "light" by wrestling standards. Thank Vince largely for that notion. Back from a break as Yohei isn't getting up from the floor. He finally crawls to the ring apron and collides with the apron before stumbling back in at 19. Liger hooks on the surfboard and stretches the poor kid. Komatsu punches his way out but Liger picks him up for a Ligerbomb, but only gets two. Liger hooks in the camel clutch and Yohei fights out, but only to get hooks into a half crab. Yohei reaches the rope and stands up as Liger starts in with some chops. He whips Yohei into the buckle but misses the charge. Yohei lands some forearms and a fine looking dropkick. He gets a bridge suplex but Liger kicks out. Yohei hooks in his half crab but Liger gets to the rope. Yohei goes for a suplex but Liger blocks it. Yohei rolls through it but runs right into a backbreaker. Liger tries for a powerbomb but Yohei rolls trough it and then gets a falcon arrow for a close two count. Yohei goes up top but Liger catches him and hits a suplex but Yohei pops right back up, only to hit with a clothesline. Liger lands a running palm strike and another one strike but Yohei won't die! Brainbuster by Liger finally puts it away. Liger actually gives the young guy credit backstage saying he has some nice moves, but he needs experience and he is too straightforward. He expects big things from Yohei in the future.   BOTSJ Block B Tournament Bout: KUSHIDA vs. Mascara Dorada We've seen both these men in recent weeks taking on Kenny Omega. Kushida is one-half of the Time Splitters but as a former Jr. champion, he is hardly pegged as a tag team guy, while Dorada took Omega to the distance and has Lucha Libre going for him. Dorada comes out in a sparkling gold and white outfit (insert outdated internet joke about a dress here). Shake of hands to begin. Dorada with a facelock which is reversed and reversed back. Both guys in mat grappling with the leg takedowns. Dorada is the first to the ropes and a bunch of flips and dives lands Dorada right into an armlock by Kushida. Kushida holds the arm as he goes to the apron and cranks the arm over the ropes. He then does it again. Kushida lands an atomic drop and a low dropkick before then a regular dropkick before he goes back to the arm scissors into a gogoplata (a judo form of a key lock). More arm work by Kushida. Kushida lands a few chops on Dorada but runs into a boot on the charge and Dorada lands a dropkick to the knee. Back from the break as both guys are in pain. Back up as Dorada leaps up to the second rope and dances around before landing a dropkick that sends Kushida outside. Dorada goes up top and does an amazing moonsault outside onto Kushida outside the ring. Dorada gets some kicks in before he rolls Kushida in. Dorada tries the pin but gets two. He goes up for a moonsault but lands right up into Kushida's fully extended legs. Dorada rolls out and Kushida jumps up and launches a swan dive plancha on Dorada! Kushida gets in a running dropkick that was perfectly timed. Kushida launches him in the ropes but Dorada rolls into a pin attempt. Dorada slams Kushida in the ring and lands a senton from the middle of the top rope. Kushida tries for a kick but gets caught right into an elbow into the knee. He counters and kicks Dorada's arm before he gets in the hoverboard lock and gets the win! Backstage Kushida talks about 10 long years and he finally had Lucha Libre eating out of the palm of his hand. He wants to make the Super Jr.'s beyond the G1 climax tournament. We get some studio words from Gedo. He hasn't been in this tourney in 5 years and is a last minute replacement for Omega. He talks about working his own pace and keeping control in his matches. He was surprised his match was the main event of the first night, not only that but Okada is at ringside doing commentary. BOTSJ Block A Tournament Bout: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Gedo The Funky Weapon returns! Taguchi is the class clown of NJPW and a former Jr. Champion while Gedo is the long time vet. He's been around since the early 90's in the WAR and FMW promotions along with his partner Jado. It this point he is 46 years old and largely been acting as a manager for Kazuchika Okada. Gedo enters first before Taguchi comes out mimicking Gedo with the bandana pulled low and sunglasses. Dude, Gedo was a member of Team No Respect. He will kill your goofball ass. Gedo does what was expected and superkicks Taguchi right in the chest. Taguchi though surprises Gedo with a roll up and gets two count! Gedo goes to work with a hanging DDT from the apron to the floor. Taguchi barely makes it in the ring for the count but Gedo grabs him and tosses him right back out of the ring. Gedo grabs the bell mallet and whacks him a few times with it. He rolls into the ring and as the ref is counting, he undoes the corner pad to expose the buckle. Taguchi rolls in and Gedo rips his t-shirt off before Gedo whips Taguchi into the exposed corner. Gedo starts jaw-jacking Taguchi and the crowd cheers for it! Guess the crowd likes the veteran bad boy. Gedo kicks right to the back of the neck and then slams Taguchi into the exposed buckle. Gedo leans on Taguchi with a knee. He then gets him down and gets a facelock in with a knee to the back. Snapmare into the chinlock now as Gedo is cranking down on him. Taguchi finally starts getting to his feet and breaks the lock before going into the ropes and Gedo pops him right in the face. Gedo cheers from the crowd again! Gedo snaps him over and lands a side kick to the face. Gedo goes for the pin and Taguchi kicks out.  Gedo is just MEAN tonight. Gedo goes to whip into the turnbuckle, but Taguchi blocks it, Gedo blocks it, and Taguchi tries for the butt bump but misses, then he lands it a couple of times before both guys go flying outside the ring. Taguchi is up first and throws Gedo in the ring. He drives his hip into Gedo's head a few times before sitting Gedo in the ropes and then running the ropes and landing his hp attacks 3 times. Gedo wills himself up and gets a facelock on Taguchi before getting a double wing lock before transitioning to the Gedo clutch (crossface). Taguchi reverses into an ankle lock before he switches legs on Gedo. Gedo reveres the lock into a roll up but only gets two. Taguchi lands the hip attack and then a reverse suplex before going up top and lands a flying hip attack. The pin only gets two as the crowd chants for Gedo again. Taguchi goes for the Dodan, but Gedo fights out. Taguchi lands a low dropkick for a pin attempt before locking in a toehold. The crowd is screaming for Gedo now. They get up and Taguchi lands the dodan but only gets two! Man, they love Gedo! Taguchi goes for a torture rack but Gedo rolls out and goes outside. Taguchi goes after him as Gedo grabs the mallet again. Taguchi misses a strike but Taguchi brings the mallet into the ring. The ref goes to throw it away and Gedo low blows Taguchi and gets the pin! Balls to the wall offense! Gedo has a big smile on his face s Gedo waves goodbye to Taguchi. Backstage Taguchi "Oh It's the ultimate oh my and Garfunkel." Gedo takes a seat at the broadcast table as Okada asks to interview Gedo for the crowd. Gedo looks at him and asks if it was Okada who said he couldn't win. Okada laughs and said that he didn't think Gedo could win the whole thing, but now says that he'll will this tournament AND the next one too. Gedo says he gained a lot of confidence in this match because Taguchi was the favorite of their block and he just beat him. His goal is to be a double main event for the July show with him and Omega fight for the title and Okada and Styles fighting for the IWGP heavyweight title. They jump into the ring and pose for the cheering crowd. In the studio he says that he didn't want to have Taguchi get into a rhythm so that's why he attacked, He says the NJPW junior division is the best there is and that the best stage of Junior heavyweights might be in NJPW.   MAN this show was good! Usually, Jr.s are known for the high-speed gymnast offense of guys like the Young Bucks or Reddragon, but these weren't quite that fast, and that's a good thing. All three matches told great stories in the ring with the vet vs. young lion in the first match, the arm and leg work in the second, and the returning vet taking on the current favorite in the third. I enjoyed this show quite a lot! Next week we get some more from the Jr.s and the tournament continues! BOTSJ Block A Tournament Bout: Jushin Liger vs. Yohei Komatsu   Aw yeah, it's Liger bitches! Jushin is a LONG time veteran who may have lost a step and adjusted his style for his age, but he can still put on good matches. We've not seen any of the young lion in Yohei. Komatsu has only been wrestling for 3 years at this point and was largely an opening match trainee type. Basically, this is Liger teaching one of his students in front of a live crowd.   Yohei comes out and he is fired up. Liger comes out and the crowd loves it. Yohei attacks before the bell and takes out the camera guy! Liger rolls to the outside and Yohei throws him back in and gets a top rope cannonball before getting some forearms in. Liger counters with a palm strike to end that. Liger lands a powerbomb. He gets some air and tosses Yohei outside the ring before going out and landing a brainbuster on the floor! Damn, these guys are fired up for this!   Back from the break as Yohei isn't getting up from the floor. He finally crawls to the ring apron and collides with the apron before stumbling back in at 19. Liger hooks on the surfboard and stretches the poor kid. Komatsu punches his way out but Liger picks him up for a Ligerbomb, but only gets two. Liger hooks in the camel clutch and Yohei fights out, but only to get hooks into a half crab.   Yohei reaches the rope and stands up as Liger starts in with some chops. He whips Yohei into the buckle but misses the charge. Yohei lands some forearms and a fine looking dropkick. He gets a bridge suplex but Liger kicks out. Yohei hooks in his half crab but Liger gets to the rope. Yohei goes for a suplex but Liger blocks it. Yohei rolls through it but runs right into a backbreaker. Liger tries for a powerbomb but Yohei rolls trough it and then gets a falcon arrow for a close two count.   Yohei goes up top but Liger catches him and hits a suplex but Yohei pops right back up, only to hit with a clothesline. Liger lands a running palm strike and another one strike but Yohei won't die! Brainbuster by Liger finally puts it away.   Liger actually gives the young guy credit backstage saying he has some nice moves, but he needs experience and he is too straightforward. He expects big things from Yohei in the future.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Best of the Super Jr.s begins!
Hey hey gang we are back with Strong Style as Japanator looks at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we start a look at the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. This tournamnt is much like the G1 tournament where yo...

Strong Style: Belts and Beauties

Mar 12 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Karl Anderson, obviously sitting in a hotel room   IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tile: Kenny OPmega vs. Alex Shelley This match was set up a number of weeks back when after defeating Mascara Dorada, he challenged Shelley, who was at ringside, to a match. The Cleaner and one of the Time Splitters go at it! I'm a little surprised that this match opens the show this week. Alex Shelley comes out wearing a Jagi helmet from Fist of the North Star. Omega comes out with The Young Bucks. jeez, what will happen there?  JR asks why Omega is the cleaner and Josh tells him he doesn't know for sure. Bell rings as Omega offers a shake and Shelley give him the finger. Lock up into an Omega armbar. Omega gets a drop toe hold into a facelock that Shelly counters out into a wristlock of his own. Omega counters into his own wristlock Shelley spins and dances around before getting Omega down to the mat. Omega tries for the counter a few times before kicking Shelley off and they have a standoff. Knuckle lock and Omega gets in some kicks and punches to gain the advantage. Omega SINGS the Attack on Titan theme and does the pose!! Alex makes him pay and with a few elbows to the mush before getting an atomic drop in off the ropes. They trade a few strikes and start running the ropes before Shelly lands a low dropkick to the seated Omega's face. Shelley sends him outside with a clothesline and goes for a tope but matt Jackson grabs Alex's leg. Alex turns around and stomps on his hand as Omega grabs a trashcan, but Shelley baseball slides into it and sends Omega into the barricade. Back from break as Omega and the ref fight over the trash can lids. While the ref is distracted Omega drives the can into Shelley and then hits a suplex, but pin only gets two. Both roll outside and Omega smacks Shelley on the apron. He puts the can over Shelley and beats on it. Omega sets the can on a chair and tries for a powerbomb, but Shelley reverses it and Omega gets smacks on the can. After all this the ref starts actually counting. Omega crawls onto the apron but Shelley runs up, dives over the top rope and drives Omega down to the floor with a DDT outside the ring! Skipping ahead as Shelley lands an attitude adjustment and nearly gets 3 but the Bucks pull the ref out. Kushida gets into the ring but is tossed out by the Bucks. Kushida dives out and takes care of the Bucks while Shelley gets in sliced bread 2 and a near fall. Crowd is chanting for Alex now. Omega lands a knee and then a running knee before One winged Angel puts this match away. Omega grabs the mic and says he has given the best match of the night, night after night. He has beaten the "last Gaijin hero". He says he is not entering the Best of the Jrs tournament since he is the champion. And wishes the best pieces of trash luck.  We get some words from Karl Anderson in his hotel room. He talks about losing the belts to the Kingdom last time, and he didn't care for the belts, only about Maria. He then gushes about her, saying she is kawaii. He was actually sad that Amber was coming to beat up Maria. Oh lord. "He's been away from home too long"- Jim Ross explaining this. Mixed tag match: Bullet Club (Doc Gallows/Karl Anderson/Amber Gallows) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven/Mike Bennet/Maria) The issue here is that Anderson is infatuated with Maria and that cost the Bullet Club the titles in a match shown a few weeks back. to counter Maria's interference, Doc Gallows got his wife, Amber "The Bullet Babe" Gallows to be their partner tonight. Jim ross points out this is NOT an integender match and that the rules are men vs. men and women vs. women only. Jim ross points out that history is being made here as the last woman to compete in an NJPW ring was Chyna "back during the Inoki days". History shows that women wrestlers were in their own companies instead of sharing a stage with the guys (FMW being the exception). Also as Josh points out, two married couples facing each other with Maria and Bennett on one side and the Gallows couple on the other. Gallows keeps reminding Anderson to pay attention. Anderson doesn't even do his typical machine gun entrance. The Kingdom come out and the camera immediately goes for her butt and breasts. Cameraman seems to be a "little H" for this one. Naughty boy. Karl waves from the apron, "Hi Maria!" Back from break as Bennett starts with Doc. Lockup into the corner and Bennett starts in with punches. Taven comes in and they hit a double dropkick. Taven tries a whip but doesn't go anywhere and Taven gets thumped. Anderson comes in but immediately bails out of the ring and starts chasing Maria around. Bennett then clobbers Karl with a punch to the mouth. Kinda deserves it. Karl gets rolled into the ring and right into a Taven neckbreaker. Anderson lands a punch and regains the advantage, but Amber then tags in, meaning Maria has to come in as well. Maria gets to close to the wrong corner and Doc grabs her by the hair while Anderson protests. Amber goes to work on Maria with some strikes but Maria counters with a superkick and runs over to tag. Gallows and Taven come in and lands a damn fine kick to Taven before dropping the elbow and getting a near fall. The Club goes for the double team but Anderson keeps going for Maria. Gallows whips Taven HARD in the corner and then lands a backbreaker before a two count and the camera shoots right to Maria's boobs. Karl and Doc argue about Maria and she tells them to both shut up. Maria gets tagged in but Anderson wants to wrestle her. Amber comes in and gets hit with a clothesline and Maria gets a takedown. Maria goes outside and starts to climb the turnbuckle as the hentai camera guy gets a close up of her... lady bits... before she lands the crossbody. Anderson comes in and lands some moves on Taven, but the camera guy is focused on Maria the whole time. When did Kevin Dunn start directing New Japan television? Taven hits a flying splash outside the ring as the women are still legal. Anderson tries grabbing Maria but Bennett comes in, only to get hit with the gun stun. Taven then gets hit with one as well. Maria and Anderson meet in the ring and Karl starts dancing for her. She kicks him in the nuts for it and sends him down. Amber comes in and tries something but Maria rolls her up in a cradle for the win! Backstage Karl says that the Club is together. Big talk from the losing team. In his hotel room, Karl talks about Maria and the match. He doesn't even remember Taven and Bennett, just Maria. He still thinks of Maria. He talks about wanting to win singles gold in the future. Tomohiro Ishii/Toru Yano/Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Togi Makabe/Katsuyori Shibata Some backstory here. Ishii and Makabe were feuding over the NEVER title and as you saw a few weeks ago they beat the snot out of each other the last time they met. Tanahashi and Yano were at odds over Yano's fluke victory during the first round of the New Japan Cup. Yano had picked Sakuraba as a partner recently so Tanahashi picked Shibata to counter the MMA legend.  We don't have a lot of time left so this will be quick. We start with everyone in the ring with Makabe and Ishii is starting! Lock up, shoot into ropes and shoulder blocks right off the bat. Elbow duel now and they start giving each other some smack talk. Shots to the head by Makabe. They hit each other and tumble into the corners as Sakuraba and Shibata come in and lock up MMA style. They trade waistlocks before Sakuraba gets a double wristlock. They go for armlocks and tumble around for a bit before the ref breaks it up. Sakuraba with a jumping guard but Shibata shoots out of it and barely misses a soccer kick. Lockup into the corner and Yano tags but hesitates to come in. Tanahashi comes in  and they lock up to crowd cheers. They go into the ropes and then trade armlocks into the ropes. Yano ties himself in the ropes and screams at the ref, Tanahashi goes in and starts hitting him immediately. Hiroshi starts in on Yano when Sakuraba locks in a choke, but then Shibata locks in a choke from the apron on Yano. Yano and Sakuraba double team on Tanahashi outside the ring and then into the crowd! Back from the last break as things are falling apart Makabe and Ishii beating on each other now as they trade clotheslines. Both men down. Makabe tags in Shibata and lands a kick to the face as Sakuraba comes back in and Shibata wails on him with elbows driving him in the corner before hitting the running dropkick. Shibata lands a suplex and an armlock but Sakuraba counters and gets his own wristlock attempt before getting up and laying in the kicks. Shibata counters and gets Sakuraba up for a death valley bomb. Yano tags in and Shibata kills him dead before tagging in Tanahashi. Hiroshi hits elbows on Yano before hitting a splash from the second rope that is rolled through by Yano. Yano pulls off the turnbuckle and throws Tanahashi into it before a roll up for a near fall. Yano keeps going to the hair pull but Tanahashi hits a atomic drop and then the slingblade twice. Everybody is fighting now as Tanahashi goes to the top and goes for the high fly flow right into Yano's knees. He blocks the impact though and takes over on Yano. He hits him a few times before grabbing the hair into the roll up and the win! Backstage Tanahashi is glad he got one over on Yano now, but they aren't finished. We get a wrap up from Jim Ross as we close out the show. This was a strange one. NJPW has been known to copt the WWE sometimes and the first two matches showed that. Jim Ross harping how a title can change hands on a DQ when I've rarely seen a DQ finish on this show (if at all) kinda looked foolish. The mixed tag match seemed like such a waste with a goofy attitude era storyline with four guys who have shwon they can go, and the 6 man match wasn't given any time (on this show anyway) to really do anything. This felt more like a Monday night RAW than NJPW. Hopefully it will just be a one time deal. So, with that, we will see you next week!   IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tile: Kenny OPmega vs. Alex Shelley This match was set up a number of weeks back when after defeating Mascara Dorada, he challenged Shelley, who was at ringside, to a match. The Cleaner and one of the Time Splitters go at it!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
6 person matches!
Happy Weekend to you all and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we go back to Wrestling Dontaku 2015, held in Fukuoka on May 3rd. In our second part of looking at the event, we have two big title matches and an all-star 6 man match waiting for us. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett join us in the booth once again.

Cosplay photo
Cosplay

Party hard with Beat Down Boogie's MAGFest '16 video


There's no despair around these parts
Mar 10
// Salvador GRodiles
If you missed out on this year's MAGFest, the festival where you get to party with other people while partaking in events related to video games and video game music, the gang at Beat Down Boogie have covered their favorite ...

Strong Style: Don'taku go away!

Mar 05 // Soul Tsukino
We open the show greeted by Hirooki Goto Kazuchika Okada/YOSHI-HASHI vs. A.J. Styles/Yujiro Takahashi CHAOS vs. Bullet Club here and a bit of a strange pairing on the Bullet Club side. Takahashi hasn't popped up a whole lot on this show, and here is is teamed up with the current IWGP champion. However, Takahashi was the one who turned on CHAOS to join the Club. Okada and Styles faced off at this event the year before, so there is some history here. Jim does into a Monday night RAW mode where he tells everyone what matches we will see and where we are. Some things never die. YOSHI and Okada comes out first and Jim puts over Okada as the future of the business. There is some high praise there. Takahashi comes out and looks like a total jobber. He is wearing a Bullet Club muscle shirt with a horrible A.J. Styles entrance video. Styles then comes out by himself. The match starts instantly in chaos (no pun intended) as all four men go at it. Okada and Styles are left in the ring going back and forth before Okada hits a BIG body drop on Styles. Both go out as YOSHI and Takahashi come in briefly before it's right back to Okada and Styles. We skip ahead as Okada lands a dropkick and a DDT on Styles. Yuji tags in and Okada lands the flapjack and a near fall. He gets a flying butt bump in the corner before heading up to the top. Yuji gets up as Okada jumps but rolls through. Okada tries for a kick but Yuji counters by grabbing the foot and tossing Okada down. Styles in as he goes for the clash but Okada catches him and drops him with his neck right on the knee. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but AJ Counters into the Pele kick and Okada nails a clothesline. We come back from break as they both try to get up. YOSHI gets in first and hits a SWEET neckbreaker on Styles. HASHI hangs him on the ropes and nails him for a 2 count broken up by Yuji. CHAOS doubles up on Styles with a splash in the corner and a blockbuster but only gets 2. Things break down again with Styles and HASHI in the ring with Styles hitting a reverse bomb and pulling the tights but only gets two. Yuji hits a high knee and then the Club hits the double suplex. Yuji misses a running splash on Okada.  Styles and YOSHI try to go up, but Styles is sent back down. YOSHI wants to go for something but Yujiro grabs the ankle. Styles gets up and hits a slam off the ropes. He dives off and nails the bloody Sunday DDT and then the stylesclash for the win. The action does stop though as Okada tries to get in the ring but Styles grabs him and tries for the clash onto the belt, but Okada counters and nearly hits the Rainmaker before Styles scrambles out of the ring and the two have a stare down. Styles has some words backstage saying that Okada has to beat him for the belt and lays down the challenge. Okada counters that Styles is a great champion, but he is the one who will take the belt when they meet in July. Studio words from Goto. He says his desire for the belt isn't as strong as his desire to beat Nakamura up after all the taunting in their last meeting in the tag match (he refers to the IC belt as looking like a 10 yen coin). It's been 3 years since Nakamura beat Goto for this belt and Goto is looking to even the score. IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto Oh, this will be good! There is history here as well. 3 years before in a much different time, Goto lost the belt to Nakamura. Shinsuke went on the make the IC title into something big, comparable to the IWGP title in popularity. Then, in a recent tag match shown a few weeks ago, Nakamura insulted goto by making binocular gestures when he face Goto saying that he didn't see Goto on the horizon as a serious challenger to the title. Time to see if Nakamura was right. Have I mentioned how awesome Hirooki Goto's entrance video and music are? The Samurai indeed. Nakamura then comes out and is awesome. Jim Ross goes over NJPW rules for new fans and we get the full introductions here. This as the main event of this show and it gets treated like it. Bell rings and we get a stare down to begin before the match starts with some amateur grappling. The crowd gives applause for respect. Knuckle lock gets into the waistlock leads to an early sleeper hold. Nakamura lets go. Goto gets the waistlock into a wristlock that Goto rolls through into a wristlock of his own. Nakamura reverses and Goto reverses that into a headlock.  Into the ropes with the headlock and Nakamura does not do the belly rub thing. Hoping he would so Goto would knock his block off for it. JR and Josh talk about Danny Hodge and "Strangler" Lewis as guys who could knock guys out with a simple headlock. The conversation is cut short as Goto hauls off and smacks Nakamura right in the face! Nakamura makes the charge but Goto is too quick and dodges out of the way before he starts landing some kicks on Shinsuke and runs Nakamura right out of the ring. Nakamura tries to screw with Goto by making the binoculars motion again. Goto goes out and Nakamura tries to roll in at the same time but Goto catches him, drags him out and slams him right into the ringpost. A few more kicks to wake Nakamura up before Nakamura sends Goto into the steel barrier. He lays Goto on the broadcaster's table before jumping and hitting a knee right to Goto's head before he hits another knee to the head. Goto rolls in at 19 and Nakamura kicks him before locking in a chinlock into a headlock.  Goto makes it to the ropes and Shinsuke throws some paltry insult kicks. Asshole. Goto gets up and lands some slaps before Naka sends him down with a knee to the chest. He hits a falling knee but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura knees Goto into the corner before hitting the Good Vibrations but missing the running kick. Goto gets up but Nakamura gets in a waistlock and covers Goto's eyes in the corner. You Can't See Me? Goto gets pissed and goes for a hit but Nakamura lands a clothesline, Goto recovers and nails Nakamura and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. They trade elbows now and it's a standoff. Nakamura counters a whip attempt and goes for the kick but Goto ducks just to get hit with a spin kick himself! Back from the break, Nakamura gets up first and hits a drastic kick to Goto but Goto's getting mad. Shinsuke hits another kick and then drives in the MMA knees to the head. He floats into a rear choke. They get to their feet in the hold and Nakamura turns it into a Front suplex. Nakamura misses a knee but Goto misses the counter and hangs up on the top rope where he gets a running kick. The pin is only two. Nakamura goes to the second rope but Goto hits a rolling kick to send Nakamura to the floor. Shinsuke climbs in where Goto catches him on the apron where they try to suplex each other. Nakamura goes up but lands back on his feet. He locks in a sleeperhold only for Goto to counter with an Angle slam! Pin attempt gets two. He picks Shinsuke up and hits a knee to the neck. He looks to go for an F-5, but Nakamura tries to wiggle out. Goto hits him with the reverse ushigoroshi (Thanks Mauro for the spelling on this). Somehow Shinsuke gets up and surprises Goto with a big clothesline and then a lung blower. Shinsuke tries for another running kick but Goto moves and lands a BRUTAL clothesline. We come back from the break with a replay of that hard clothesline we saw. Both get to their knee and start through forearms at each other. They get to their feet still trading shots to the face before Goto goes for the ropes. Nakamura runs the same ropes and hits Goto with a diving kick to the face. Goto rolls to the apron. Nakamura goes to kick him off but misses and gets his leg caught in the rope. Goto drills him and do to the way he twisted, Nakamura's legs gets caught awkwardly in the ropes.  There's a good way to destroy your knee. Goto doesn't go for the pin but decides to go up to the top rope. Nakamura gets up and climbs up after him. The try to counter out of the superplex position but Goto lands some straight headbutts and gets Nakamura in the superbomb position. Nakamura raises up and sends Goto to the canvas before flying off and hitting the super booma ye! He then runs up and hits a second booma ye! Goto kicks out at two somehow. Both get up as Nakamura goes for a third booma ye knee but Goto counters with a combo of headbutts and another clothesline. He really seems to like those clotheslines. He gathers Nakamura up and gets him on the turnbuckles before climbing up himself. he then hits a SUPER ushigoroshi! Goto goes for the cover but only gets two. Goto ain't done yet as he picks Nakamura up and hits the shotenkai before covering and getting the pin! Nakamura is carried out. in the back he has nothing to say. He says no one expects anything from Goto. He then, in his own way, challenges for the rematch. Back in the ring the crowd is chanting for Goto and he thanks them. Good results come to those who don't give up. He thanks Shibata and then leads crowd in a 3 cheers. Backstage it kenpai time as a bunch of guys cheer and drink to Goto. He is asked about the color of the belt (the belt used to be a bronze color and now is gold with a white strap) and says he won't change it back. That is the past and his focus is to hold the belt for even longer than Nakamura held it. In the studio He feels like he got a whole new belt since Nakamura made it his own. He says Nakamura is the number 1 guy he doesn't want to lose to. He caught up to Nakamura as a wrestler and went past him.   What a pick from this show. Two really good ones here. The tag match was a fast paced show and the main event was just that. Jim did a great job in his own style nd if anything got Josh Barnett to speak more on these shows. I think JR will do fine at this job. Before I go this week. I have to do part of being a wrestling fan doesn't want to do and say goodbye to one of our heroes. Last night I found out through Mauro Ranallo that Eiji "Hayabusa" Ezaki had passed away at the age of 47 from a hemorrhage on his brain.  I became aware of Hayabusa in the mid-1990's through the old wrestling magazines of the day. I was reading about the high flying masked guy who was the top star of this small promotion in Japan that blew each other up with  explosives, barbed wire and time bombs. Oddly my first experience of seeing him wrestle was as "Hannibal" in the WCW V/S NWO video game and then from his one high profile match in the U.S. when he and Jinsei Shinseki took on Sabu and RVD at an ECW pay per view back in the day. It wasn't until the Tokyo Pop FMW DVDs were released that I got to see a lot more of him and FMW as well cementing my respect for what he did and love of the character. [embed]34826:5465:0[/embed] Tragically Eiji's career ended when he broke his neck and was paralyzed on a live FMW pay-per-view. Sine FMW lived and died with Hayabusa, the company did the later without it's top hero. Eiji help launch his own promotion, Wrestling's Marvelous Future (see what they did there?) as well as a career as a singer. All from a wheelchair. Last year he was part of an FMW relaunch and held a touching ceremony where he stepped foot inside a wrestling ring, with the help of a cane, for the first time since the accident. His wrestling career only lasted 10 years, and was a star for less than 6, but he had a big impact on a lot of fans, wrestlers, and anyone who was familiar with him. It seems, for now, that the phoenix has burned out, hopefully, to be reborn again. Thank you Eiji. And thank you to all of you. I'll see you next time! [embed]34826:5465:0[/embed]
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
IC Title on the line!
Hello, again gang. After a week off we are back with Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we start a new era of the show as Jim Ross becomes the new play by play man for our weekly lo...

Strong Style: Man up!

Feb 20 // Soul Tsukino
We start off with a greeting from Togi Makabe. NWA World Title Hiroshi Tenzan vs. Big Daddy Yum Yum Oh, good heavens it's Yum Yum. For those unfamiliar, Big Daddy Yum Yum is a former WWE developmental wrestler. He is a big guy at about 6'6" and pops up inNew Japan every so often. He is also not known for his great wrestling work. Tenzan is a long time veteran that has held the IWGP title in his day and had beaten Rob Conway to get the NWA title he is defending here. As Tenzan comes to the ring Mauro lists off a bunch of the old NWA champions such as Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and so forth. When Tenzan gets in the ring we are greeted with current NWA President Bruce Tharpe who looks like he cleaned out the closet of the Rod Roddy estate sale. The bell rings and they lock up with Yum powering Tenzan back into the corner. Tenzan escapes with a kick to the gut. A few shoulder blocks go nowhere. Yum chops him down and hammers him with punches before he runs him over with a shoulderblock. Tenzan counters with a straight punch before throwing some of the Mongolian Chops he is known for. We aren't very far in this match and it's already not looking good. Mauro calls a spade a spade and says this match is not even close to the level of matches the NWA Title used to have back in the day. Yum gets in a few kicks and then tosses Tenzan outside the ring. He follows him out but doesn't do much. We thankfully jump ahead with both men back in the ring. They trade some shots back and forth but this match is in the sewer already. Yum goes for a spinning clothesline but Tenzan blocks. Tenzan runs him into the corner and hits a clothesline and then a brainbuster but only gets two.  Tenzan hits a Samoan drop but the cover only gets two. Josh and Mauro are not talking about this match by the way. Both guys try covers but don't get it. Yum lands a HORRIBLE mafia kick and then a crappy looking AA. I can see why the WWE dropped him from developmental. Yum hits a standing moonsault to my surprise but gets a two count. Yum hits a few slaps but runs right into a spin kick by Tenzan. Tenzan goes up but Tharpe interferes and gets headbutted a bunch of times. Tenzan lands a hit but doesn't get the pin. He then locks in the anaconda vice into the buster. Yum kicks out but Tenzan locks the vice back in and Yum submits. THANK THE GODS! We go to the studio where Togi Makabe talks about how he got the flu from his "old lady" 3 days before the big match he was supposed to have with Ishii. He was surprised when after winning the vacant belt, Ishii wouldn't recognize himself as champion until he beat Makabe and no one else. NEVER Openweight Title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe The match Ishii has wanted for a while. These two go back a few years when Ishii was one of the men to turn on Makabe and leave the Global Bash Heel group to form CHAOS. Makabe defeat Ishii back in January for the title, and they were supposed to have a rematch, but as explained earlier, Makabe got the flu. He was stripped of the title and Ishii defeated Togi's buddy Tomoaki Honma to win the belt. Togi is healthy now, so we have our match. Ishii comes in glaring at Makabe. Makabe glares right back. The bell rings and Ishii gets the side headlock. Togi whips in and shoulderblock goes nowhere. They butt into each other like mountain goats but no backing down. Ishii is first to go down when Togi throws some forearms and Ishii counters but gets sent into the corner. Togi gets him down and gives him a knee in the corner. Ishii gets up but gets met with some chops for his trouble. Ishii lands a chop right to Togi's throat, picks him up, and does it again!  The shots to the Adam's apple take their tolls as Makabe goes down in the corner. Ishii slaps him in the head and throws some petty insulting kicks but Makabe looks right up at him and asks if that's all he had. He throws some forearm shots but Ishii throws some more of his own to send Makabe down again. Togi asks for more and Ishii answers. Ishii hits a headbutt to send Togi down. Ishii tries for a suplex but neither guy wants to lose before Togi picks up Ishii and lands the suplex. He picks him up into the corner and lands some means clotheslines before Ishii runs out and tosses Makabe down. He then straight hits him right in the head. Togi asks for more and Ishii gives him strikes and chops but Makabe ain't feeling it. Ishii runs into with full body force but not affecting Togi. Togi catches Ishii and slams him, before setting him up in the corner and hitting the northern lights suplex. Makabe hits a powerslam but the pin is only 2. Back from break as Togi picks up Ishii and goes for a piledriver but Ishii reverses it sending Togi down. Makabe pops right up and hits Ishii with an uppercut to send him down. Ishii struggles to get up as Togi talks smack. Togi slaps him a few times and then hits a forearm and Ishii is hurt. Ishii tries to fight back but it isn't working. Ishii slaps the mat in frustration but he gets to his feet and glares at Togi, countering each of Togi's forearms with his head before sending Togi down and then hitting another shoulderblock. Jackknife cover only gets two before He locks in the shoulder lock on Togi. Togi stands up and Ishii hits the tiger suplex. Ishii goes for the clothesline but misses and Togi locks in a waist lock but gets backed into the corner where Ishii hits the clothesline. Ishii sets Togi on the ropes for a superplex and sends him crashing down to the mat, pin only gets two. Both guys get up and counter each others clotheslines. Togi locks in a waist lock but gets hit for his trouble. Ishii hits some headbutts before he gets the clothesline to the back of the head. Ishii's hurt his shoulder but that doesn't stop these two clotheslining each other a bunch of times. Both are sucking wind now before Ishii hits a clothesline, but Togi hits a clothesline as well sending both down to the mat. Togi hits the powerbomb but Ishii kicks out!  Togi tries for a waist lock, gets an elbow, but Togi smacks him. They exchange hits and palm strikes before Ishii hits him with a clothesline to send him down. They go for the clothesline but counter each other before they exchange hits. Makabe clasps his hands together and hits the double axe handle right to the face to send Ishii down. Hit right on the top of the head to Ishii leads to Togi landing a German suplex into a pin attempt that doesn't get it. Back from break as Makabe gets up and lands a clothesline to the back of Ishii's head and set him up for the spider suplex. Ishii tries to fight it, but Togi slams his head into the post and then dumps him backwards right on the bad shoulder. Togi goes for the King Kong kneedrop but Ishii moves out of the way. Both are slow to get up. Togi comes running into the foot, but counters into a clothesline. Togi hits the ropes and Ishii dropkicks him! The crowd of 2,900ish are cheering for Makabe at this point. Strikes traded back and forth now. Both guys are just screaming at each other now to bring it. Ishii hits a suplex and then hits the enzigri and finally a hard headbutt to get Makabe down, but can't score the pin! He tries for the brainbuster but Togi squirms out of it Togi hits the rabbit clothesline and tries for a suplex but Ishii counters. Chops to the neck for Togi but Togi hits the tiger suplex and dumps Ishii right on the top of his head. Both get up as Togi hits some clotheslines but Ishii won't go down. They trade clotheslines before Makabe hits the running clothesline to send Ishii to the mat. Makabe tries for the pin, but only gets two again. Ishii jumps right up and lands some chops and headbutts to Makabe. Togi counters with a clothesline and then hits another one but Ishii kicks out of the pinfall. Togi ax handles him several times and climbs to the top. He hits the kneedrop and that is it as Ishii is pinned for a three count. Togi Makabe regains his title! Back from break as Togi addresses the crowd. He says THIS is pro wrestling and no matter how many times they got knocked down, they got back up. He gives the crowd some thanks and says he wants to appreciate the crowds. Backstage, he talks about how great NJPW is and gives credit to Ishii, something he doesn't usually do. He then challenges all the other champions of the company for their belts. Studio words as Togi talks about the match and hoping it appealed to the crowd and how the match was about heart, not just getting hit. He really puts things into perspective and shows the attitude differences with puroresu and American wrestling. This match wasn't just two guys clobbering each other, it was about the spirit of the match and getting back up when they got knocked down. You don't see that in WWE or much of anywhere else in this country. Mauro has some words of thanks to the show's fans as we sign off. Talk about night and day with this show. The first match was the drizzling shits. Even Josh and Mauro couldn't hide how awful Big Daddy Yum Yum is. I have found someone on this show I hate more than Bad Luck Fale! Let's hope we don't see much of him on this show ever again. Luckily this match was short and they had a strong main event to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. Meanwhile, once again Togi Makabe and Tomohiro Ishii tore the house down. I love watching these two wrestle and if you want to know what Strong Style is, watch one of their matches. Next week we get to hear Jim Ross return to announcing a weekly show and let's see how he fairs with Japanese action and no out of touch billionaires screaming in his ear. Later!   We start off with a greeting from Togi Makabe.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The NEVER title is up for grabs!
Welcome back everyone to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have two title matches from the April 29th, 2015 show at the Grand Masse Kummamoto in Kyushu. The title...

Strong Style: Cash-in time!

Feb 13 // Soul Tsukino
We get a greeting from Kota Ibushi to start off. We start in the studio as we look at clips of the Japan Cup Final match. We replay Kota issuing the challenge for the IWGP belt to the roar of the crowd. He mentions that he can't be the only one to think he has a chance at this. He isn't focused so much on the belt as he is in facing Styles.   IWGP Title: A.J. Styles vs. Kota Ibushi As we saw on this show a few weeks ago, Ibushi came out the winner of the 2015 New Japan Cup tournament. As a result, he is able to pick any title he wants to go for. Not surprisingly, he picked the big one and Styles for the opponent. Styles, of course, is the leader of the Bullet Club so we will see if any of them play a part in this match. Kota comes to the ring carrying the New Japan Cup, which is a really nice piece of hardware. Barnett breaks things down, pointing out that Styles has the experience edge while Kota had his martial arts striking ability. Styles is out with Kenny Omega in his corner. Here's hoping that doesn't turn into anything, especially since Omega and Ibushi used to be partners. We come back from break as the bell rings. They stare off and Ibushi's hand is all taped up something fierce. They posture a bit before finally locking up. They get to the corner and break cleanly. We lock up again Aj sends Kota out but he jumps right back in and go for another lock up. They get to the ropes before Styles gets in an arm drag. He jaws a bit and then they lock up again. Kota gets in an arm drag, and another, and then the frakensteiner to send Styles out. Styles climbs back with the take over into a leg scissors, Kota gets a non-count on a backslide and then a small package leading to a roll up leading into Kota being set up for the Styles clash but he gets out of it, leading to Kota getting a NEAR 3 count on a rollup before Styles kicks out! Test of strength and Styles tries to get the kick in, but Kota catches his foot. They whip into the ropes and Kota kicks Styles right in the gut. Styles tries to whip him but Kota reverses and low dropkicks him outside. Kota tries for the golden triangle moonault on the floor but AJ catches him. He tries for a suplex but Kota flips out of it. Styles catches Kota and suplexes him on the floor right on his face. Back from break as Kota is hurt on the floor.  Kota struggles and gets in at the count of 19. AJ with a big slam and hits a high kneedrop. Kota whipped into the corner where Styles hits a flying clothesline. He follows up with several punches and a backbreaker. Kota fights out of a suplex and comes off the ropes, but gets nailed with a dropkick to the mouth for his trouble. Kota rolls out to the floor again. Styles climbs out and drops Kota across the barricade right in front of the time keeper's table and the belt. Styles rolls Kota back into the ring and locks in the Muta lock! Haven't seen that one in a long time. Styles locks in a chinlock. Kota tries to fight out but no go. He wiggles out and they get to their feet only for Styles to land a forearm. They go into the corner where Styles tries to hit the springboard clothesline but gets clubbed in the gut to send him back out to the apron. Out of commercial. Kota hits two roundhouse kicks and a moonsault to get a two count. Kota tries another kick but Styles catches it and drives an elbow in his knee. Styles gets a low dropkick right to the same knee. and then grinds out a lock on the knee. Kota counters out with some elbows to break the hold.  Kota gets a facelock but Styles lands a kick to the knee. Kota gets a leg whip sending Styles outside. He leaps up and just BARELY lands in the golden triangle moonsault. He takes AJ back in the ring and hits the springboard dropkick. Styles in the corner but Kota comes running into Styles' feet. Kota counters back to land a lionsault combo on the fallen Styles for two. He hits a snapdragon suplex but only gets two again. Kota picks Styles up in the corner. Styles spins around and hits the brainbuster right onto the turnbuckle. Styles gets up and hits Kota into a lionsault into a scorpion deathdrop! Cover only gets two. Styles goes for the clash but Kota counters out as they then trade kicks and strikes back and forth. Styles hits the Pele kick but Kota hits one of his own! Back from commercial as Styles escapes to the apron but Kota comes over and gets on the top rope and wraps up Styles in an awkward looking lock as he is trying to suplex hm back in the ring. Styles counters sending Kota flying backwards. Styles then dives in with the springboard clothesline and adds to it with the bloody Sunday DDT. He doesn't go for the pin and tries for the Styles clash but Kota wiggles out. Styles then locks in the Calf Killer. Kota tries to reverse it into a pin but Styles rolls right through. AJ grabs Kota's knee to pick him up but Kota lands strikes with the other knee! Styles then flattens Kota with a clothesline. AJ gets up and then sets up Kota for a SUPER Styles clash of the top. Kota counters and tries for the Frankenstiener on the ropes but Kota gets out thankfully. Kota jumps up and lands the frankenstiener but only gets two. Kota goes for the powerbomb but when Styles is up with full weight on Kota's shoulders, Kota stumbles backwards awkwardly and drops Styles. That looked painful with all of Styles's bodyweight on Kota's neck like that. Kota recovers and picks Styles up again for the powerbomb but Styles counters out and hits a clothesline. Kota shakes it off and goes for the powerbomb again and nails it for 2. Kota stomps on AJ's face and Kota goes up, but Omega jumps up. The distraction was enough that Ibushi goes for the phoenix splash and AJ CATCHES him into the Styles clash and gets the win! That was really an impressive counter. AJ celebrates as Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi celebrate. Omega seems subdued and just claps a few times. Kota is then carried out of the ring. Back from break as the Club celebrates in the ring, but Kenny has the boohoos. OKADA jumps in the ring and clubs everyone before nailing the rainmaker on Styles! Gedo says that it's payback for what Styles did to them in the same building the year before. Gedo lays down the challenge for the belt. Okada poses for a bit over the flattened Styles before leaving. Backstage Okada says he is back for his belt and man is that welt on his face not getting any better. Kota is not taking things well as he says this is the last big match for him. He gave it all he had and didn't get it. He says he'll get another chance with his own hands. You don't get these kinds of emotions in the stats. In the studio, Kota says that AJ fooled him a few times during the match where he thought he had control but really didn't. When Kenny interfered, he felt like time stopped. Oddly, he says that it didn't effect the outcome of the match and hopes that Kenny will leave the Bullet Club and they could team again.  This was a good one, even if it felt like it should have been twice as quick as it was. It seemed almost like a WWE style match, much like the Jericho/Styles matches we've been seeing lately. The knee psychology didn't really go anywhere but that finish was amazing. Maybe not the best match of the year but it was very enjoyable, the crowd got into it, and I had fun. That's all for thiss week. Next week we are off to a new location! See you then! We get a greeting from Kota Ibushi to start off.   We start in the studio as we look at clips of the Japan Cup Final match. We replay Kota issuing the challenge for the IWGP belt to the roar of the crowd. He mentions that he can't be the only one to think he has a chance at this. He isn't focused so much on the belt as he is in facing Styles.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The Main Event of Invasion Attack!
It's that time of week again! Japanator's look at NJPW on AXS TV takes us back one more time to the Sumo Hall on April 5, 2015. This week we take a look at the main event of Invasion Attack 2015 in what should be a good one.

Strong Style: The attack is back!

Feb 06 // Soul Tsukino
We are given a greeting by Kazuchika Okada.   IWGP Tag Team Titles: Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven/Mike Bennett) This match is a result of the New Japan/Ring of Honor deal. The deal here was that in a few prior meetings, Anderson is totally infatuated with Maria (Bennett's wife) and ends up costing him matches. Bell rings and Karl is waving and blowing kisses to Maria. He then locks up with Taven but it doesn't last long as Taven hits 5th gear  and speeds his way into avoiding Anderson's moves until there is a stalemate. They lock up and Taven gets the tag to Bennett who goes right for a wristlock. Anderson, however, makes the tag and Gallows comes in. Bennett tries for the running cross body on Gallows, but the big guy catches him and puts him down with a slam. He turns around and clubs Taven before going in for the pin on Bennett. ANDERSON breaks up the pin because he wants to bring Maria in the ring. They drag her in and Gallows wants to deck her in the mush while Anderson wants to ogle over her. This is soooo wrong. The Kingdom run in and Maria bails as the fight starts. We jump ahead as the club is working over the Kingdom members in the corner. Anderson takes Bennett up into his own version of the neckbreaker slam and the two club members go to finish things off with the magic killer but Taven comes in to break it up. Taven sends Gallows out of the ring with a clothesline leaving Anderson and Bennett in the ring. Anderson is going in for the kill but Maria pops up on the apron smiling and waving, Karl's head goes to mush as he starts blowing kisses and dancing for Maria. Gallows gets sick of this shit and pulls Maria from the apron and threatens to club her in the face again. The kingdom run in and Taven takes out Gallows with a dive. They then score the hail Mary on Anderson and score the pinfall. The Kingdom are the new tag team champions! Backstage Anderson complains about being so close to Maria, Gallows goes insane and threatens to take out Maria, and hints at bringing his wife in the rematch. Kingdom gloats and says they overcame the odds to win the titles. As the Kingdom talks, you can hear Anderson and Gallows yelling at each other in the background. Quick and edited some, but they got a lot of storytelling in so it wasn't bad. Hirooki Goto/Tetsuya Naito/Togi Makabe vs. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura/Tomohiro Ishii/YOSHI-HASHI) Well, this is a bit of a mish-mash isn't it? Goto is usually teamed with Shibata and YOSHI is usually teamed with Okada. The stories here are that Ishii and Makabe hate each other's guts meanwhile Goto has been eyeballing a shot against Nakamura and the Intercontinental title. Goto points the finger right at Nakamura and Shinsuke abides him by starting the match for his team. They lock up and Goto muscles Shinsuke into the corner but breaks clean. They lock up again and Nakamura thankfully doesn't go for that face in the belly but nails Goto and gets him down in the corner. Shinsuke immediately goes for the good vibrations kick and mocks Goto by makes glasses signs over his own eyes as if to say he can't see Goto (Hmmm... where have I heard that before?) Goto is not happy about this and pops up, landing a few forearm shots to Nakamura before landing a big shoulder block. He brings Nakamura to his corner and tags in Togi Makabe. Makabe works over Nakamura some before Shinsuke can get to his corner and tag in The Stone Pitbull, Ishii. Business picks up  (get used to that saying folks.. he's on the way!) as the two rivals start beating the tar out of each other with chops and forearms. Makabe gets a shoulder block in and tags off to Naito. Naito jumps and lands a low sliding dropkick on Ishii before he lands a senton on the big guy. Ishii is sent into the corner where he eats some more forearms. Naito whips him into the ropes but Ishii turns around and nails Makabe. Everyone gets in on the actions now as Makabe and Ishii fight on the floor where Ishii starts choking out Makabe with his own chain! We then skip ahead and Makabe and Ishii are fighting in the ring and Makabe lands a powerbomb on Ishii, but can only get a two count. We come back from a break as Ishii is hurt and has a hard time getting up. He retreats to the corner where Makabe starts landing in some heavy forearm shots. This seems to wake Ishii up and they start trading shot again. Makabe whips Ishii into the ropes but Ishii counters with a big clothesline. Nakamura gets the tag and starts throwing some knees into Makabe, but the unchained gorilla lands a clothesline on Nakamura to stop that idea. Makabe tags in Goto and goes to work on Nakamura. YOSHI runs in for the distractions and things fall apart again with everyone coming in. Goto and Nakamura keep fighting as Goto lands a backdrop suplex. Everyone is still fighting but Goto tries for an attack. Shinsuke ducks and lands the booma ye! He tries for a second one but Goto catches him and hits the ushi-karoshi and then hits a suplex! The pin is then broken up. Goto is still on Nakamura and looks to finish him off. YOSHI runs in and gets hits back out again. Goto lines up and hits Nakamura for the shotenhai suplex and the win for his team! Backstage Goto deems himself the next contender for the Intercontinental title. Nakamura says that Goto is not a real challenger for the title and that he's not a big deal. Okada speaks to us from the studio now. He thought his cardio was up when he entered the last match, but it still ended very quickly. He talks about how Fale is so big, that's what makes him difficult to wrestle. He focused on hitting the tombstone piledriver and talks about how old footage shows how slamming Andre the Giant was still a spectacle in the sport. Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale Oh boy. If you have read this article at all, you know my dislike for Fale.The backstory here is that Fale defeated Okada in a huge upset in the first round of the New Japan Cup tournament and then beat him in a tag match as well. If history proves true, I don't like Fale's chances here. Tama Tonga comes out to the ring with Fale and Gedo is with Okada. Mauro and Josh speculate that Okada's run of losses is a mental breakdown after his emotional loss to Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom 9. We come back from break as Okada goes flying into the big guy and starts whaling away before the bell even rings. Fale counters with a strike that sends Okada down. Okada with the drop toe hold into a sliding dropkick and the crowd is firmly behind Okada. Okada hits the ropes and then gets run over by Fale. and rolls outside. Fale follows him out and runs him over again and then sends him to the barrier. Fale sends him into the barricade again. He then grabs the announcer's tie and yanks Okada around with it around Okada's neck. Tama Tonga then attacks Gedo outside as well for no reason. Fale rolls into the ring as the ref  finally starts counting. Okada just makes it in but Fale grabs him into a nerve pinch and leans on him. Okada makes a futile attempt to fight out but Fale goes right back to the nerve hold.  He positions himself on Okada's back before just grabbing him by the hair and leaning back. Fale's not breaking any speed records as he just kind of stands around as Okada tries to get up. THIS is one of the reasons why I don't like Fale. He literally just got over giving a guy what amounts to a rest hold and then just STANDS THERE like he's waiting for the bus. Not that he's posing or playing to the crowd, just standing there. Mauro mentions that Fale may have stolen Okada's fighting spirit, with Josh saying he say that episode of the Brady Bunch where they stole the tiki idol. Love it. Anyway, Okada fires off some forearms but Fale stops that with one mighty club to the back. He goes for the pin (Hey Stupid, you should have tried that when you were waiting for Godot back there!). He tries for the big splash and misses. He staggers to his feet and Okada hits a clothesline to send Fale over the top rope. Okada attacks sending Fale over the barricade and goes for the running body block but Fale catches him. Fale goes to drop him on the barrier but Okada scoots out and Fale goes over the barrier back into the ringside. Both roll into the ring before Okada hits a running elbow into the corner and then a DDT. Okada goes to tombstone Fale but the big guy won't go.  Fale counters the attempt to lift Okada up and hit the Samoan drop. Okada tries to get up but is hit with a splash in the corner. Fale attempts the pin but only gets two. Fale gets up and goes for the Grenade combination but Okada gets out with an uppercut. He tries for the Tombstone again and that backfires but Okada counters and SLAMS Fale! He then goes up and nails the flying elbow  He goes for the Rainmaker and Fale tries for the grenade but it doesn't work., Fale gets a double handed  choke into the corner. Okada counters back and then picks him up for a neck breaker slam! Damn that's a load! Okada  tries AGAIN for the Tombstone but Fale falls on top of Okada and squishes him. Fale goes for the spear, but Okada leapfrogs and then lands a kick, but Fale nails the spear anyway. the count only gets two. He picks Okada up and drives Okada into the corner. He slams Okada down and then climbs to the top and nails the splash! Okada kicks out! Fale goes for the Bad luck fall, but Okada falls out and nails a dropkick on the big guy's back! Fale goes for the grenade again but Okada dropkicks out. Okada goes for the rainmaker but Fale escapes only to get suplexed for the trouble. Okada tries again for the rainmaker and Fale hits some back elbows to get out. Fale turns around and Okada LIFTS HIM UP! HE HITS THE TOMBSTONE! He then drags Fale back to his feet and hits the rainmaker and scores the pin! In the back, Okada has some words about getting the win. He has a huge welt on the left side of his face to show for it. We end this week with some studio words from Okada as he says this match really made him realize how heavy Fale is really is. He says that it could have been real easy for him to go down the loser's road, but he didn't.   Well, I'm impressed. Okada and Fale did put on a decent match, even with Fale's shortcomings. The first two matches were all right but the edits didn't help them. I wouldn't ut this as one of the best shows of this series, but it wasn't terrible either. Next week we take a look at the main event as Kota Ibushi goes for the big one as he takes on A.J. Styles! See you then! Bell rings and Karl is waving and blowing kisses to Maria. He then locks up with Taven but it doesn't last long as Taven hits 5th gear  and speeds his way into avoiding Anderson's moves until there is a stalemate. They lock up and Taven gets the tag to Bennett who goes right for a wristlock. Anderson however makes the tag and Gallows comes in. Bennett tries for the running cross body on Gallows, but the big guy catches him and puts him down with a slam. He turns around and clubs Taven before going in for the pin on Bennett.   ANDERSON breaks up the pin because he wants to bring Maria in the ring. They drag her in and Gallows wants to deck her in the mush while Anderson wants to ogle over her. This is soooo wrong. The Kingdom run in and Maria bails as the fight starts.   We jump ahead as the club is working over the Kingdom members in the corner. Anderson takes Bennett up into his own version of the neckbreaker slam and the two club members go to finish things off with the magic killer but Taven comes in to break it up. Taven sends Gallows out of the ring with a clothesline leaving Anderson and Bennett in the ring.    Anderson is going in for the kill but Maria pops up on the apron smiling and waving, Karl's head goes to mush as he starts blowing kisses and dancing for Maria. Gallows gets sick of this shit and pulls Maria from the apron and threatens to club her in the face again. The kingdom run in and Taven takes out Gallows with a dive. They then score the hail Mary on Anderson and score the pinfall. The Kingdom are the new tag team champions!   Backstage Anderson complains about being so close to Maria, Gallows goes insane and threatens to take out Maria, and hints at bringing his wife in the rematch. Kingdom gloats and says they overcame the odds to win the titles. As the Kingdom talks, you can hear Anderson and Gallows yelling at each other in the background.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Back to the Sumo Hall!
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we go back to the Sumo Hall in Tokyo for a look at more of the "Invasion Attack" show from April 5, 2015. This week we have a big title match and a return grudge match. Let's get to the action!

Strong Style: The invasion begins!

Jan 30 // Soul Tsukino
The show opens with a greeting from Kazushi Sakuraba. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) vs. Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta/Rocky Romero) Got to be honest, I kinda pull for the Vice tag team, since my first novel is set in a futuristic Roppongi Hills. The bucks, of course, are representing the Bullet Club while Vice is part of CHAOS, although I've only seen them do anything together with any of the other members once, and that was a match for Ring of Honor here in the states. Josh comes right out and says he is cheering for the Vice since he helped train Rocky Romero and they are very good friends. We start with Baretta and Nick Jackson as Nick acts like a twit and Baretta makes him pay for it with a punch to the mouth. He gets an early suplex on Nick and nearly gets a pin. Rocky is tagged in as they double team Nick with a clothesline. Matt tags in and gets hit for his troubles. Standing moonsault by Baretta nearly gets two. Both Matt and Nick bail outside the ring and decide it's over by grabbing the belts and starting back down the aisle. Vice goes after them only to get superkicked in the aisleway. The Jackson's run back to the ring while the Vice struggle to get back and Baretta shoves Romero back in the ring to beat that count at 19. We jump ahead with Matt Jackson having the advantage over Baretta. Matt teases Rocky on the apron by crotch-chopping using Baretta's hand and Rocky has had enough as he steps in and slugs Matt right in the face, Nick runs in and superkicks Rocky right off the apron in return. Baretta goes for the tag, but no partner so Matt hits an enziguri right to the back of Baretta's head and then gets in a few kicks on the fallen Baretta. Back from break as Nick goes to the top for a swanton and gets met with two knees of Baretta right to the back. Baretta gets the tornado DDT off the ropes and gets the tag to Rocky! He takes down both Jacksons and hits rapid fire clotheslines before he gets a rana on both men! He lands a blockbuster on Nick Jackson but only gets two. Vice double team on Nick hitting a guillotine legdrop on the ropes and a double knee but the pin is broken up. Matt mocks Rocky with the corner clotheslines of his own but Rocky returns the favor in force before Matt nails the superkick and Rocky hits a clothesline to send both men down. Matt takes out both Vice with a neckbreaker and then a dive to the outside. Rocky gets hit with a hangman dive from ropes and then Bucks go for the indytaker (spiked tombstone piledriver), only for Rocky to counter out. Rocky leaps up to meet Nick on the top and tries from the super rana off the top, but Nick blocks it and shoots him off the buckle into Matt's arms. Bucks hit the indytaker! The count is broken up as all four men are in the ring. The ref goes down and Baretta is hit with the double superkick. The Bucks go for their finisher, more bang for your buck combo, but Rocky counters out and Baretta runs back in and jumps up to send Matt down to the mat with a slam. He scoops up Matt and Baretta hits the Omori driver to score the pin and win the titles! Vice celebrate in the ring by grabbing the mic. Rocky states that they are going to have a naughty naughty party tonight! Backstage Rocky says his partner belongs in Japan and that he overcame injury to win this match. Baretta doesn't know what to say but Rocky says it's his partner's birthday and it is time to party! Good fast paced match from these guys. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega vs. Mascara Dorada It's The Cleaner! The bad boy of the Jr.s division steps up to defend his title against the masked man from Mexico by way of the CMLL. We saw these two have a bit of a standoff here in a previous episode, now it's time to get it on. Dorada is actually smart as he comes out with the Time Splitters, Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger, and Capt. New Japan in his corner. Omega has Tama Tonga and Cody Hall with him. Omega goes for the tie-up but the masked man slips right by him and bounces off the ropes for some lucha flips and Dorada goes for a diving attack but Omega moves sending Dorada on his face with a splat. Omega takes him into the corner and starts working him over early. Alex Shelley jumps on the apron and Kenny spits right on him for that. Dorada recovers and starts his offence with an armlock. He climbs the ropes like nothing and flips, sending Omega to the outside. Dorada then launches himself into the air and crashes right into Omega who bends backwards over the barrier. Damn!  However, Omega recovers first and tries to send his foe into the barrier. He goes for the running strike but misses. Dorada leaps up for the headscissors but Kenny catches him and slams him down with a powerbomb on the ring apron! We skip ahead as Omega hits the Regal roll but misses the standing shooting star press. Dorada leaps up to his feet and hits a DDT on Omega.  He grabs the armlock again and walks right up the ropes and then walks ON the rope with no effort before blasting Omega with a dropkick. Coming back from break as Dorada gets whipped into the corner. Omega goes for something and ends up on the apron. Dorada launches over the rope and hits a rana on Omega off the apron sending him to the floor. Dorada gets a running start in the ring and belly flops on the canvas as he slides out and hits a splash on Omega on the floor. He is safe on third base with that slide! We skip ahead again as Dorada gets a pin attempt but doesn't get it. He tries to get another but doesn't get it either. Omega to the apron and Dorada tries a suplex but it doesn't go. Omega climbs to the middle of the second rope and gets caught. Dorada leaps up to the top, walks the ropes with no trouble and gets a rana on Omega! He then adds to that bit of awesome when he leaps up, walks the ropes AGAIN, facing the crowd and does a moonsault into the ring. THAT is balance. Dorada makes the mistake of no going for the pin and Omega leaps up and Omega hits the snapdragon suplex on him that nearly scores the pin. He sets Dorada up on his shoulders for the electric chair, but the luchador rolls through with a victory roll. Omega counters out and gets Dorada up and hits the one winged angel slam for the pinfall and the win to retain the title! Being the Bullet Club, Omega grabs the mic and says that he's taken out the Japanese trash, the Mexican trash, now it's time to take out the American trash nd calls out Alex Shelley. Shelley isn't to impressed and gets in Omegas face. Omega points the gun to Shelley's chest, but Alex grabs it and I swear he makes the salute motion from Attack on Titan, fist over heart and everything. That was odd. Backstage Shelley tells the Cleaner that he'll have to clean up his parts after he leaves Omega in pieces in the ring. We get some words from Sakuraba as he talks about wanting to tag with Yano since they are different styles. He loves to watch Yano from the apron since he never knows with Yano will do next. He doesn't think much of Shibata so he doesn't have much to say, think it wasn't very special that he was matched up with him. Gotta love the Japanese logic of not caring about your matches.   Katsuyori Shibata/Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazushi Sakuraba/Toru Yano Talk about strange bedfellows. This is like Vince Russo booking puroreu. The story here is that Tanahashi wants revenge on Yano after the trickster pinned the ace of NJPW in less than 3 minutes during the New Japan Cup we saw two weeks ago. Sakuraba is teaming with Yano because he thinks Yano is funny I guess (Kazushi doesn't seem to have much of a grasp of kayfabe). Shibata used to be partners with Sakuraba when they came back to NJPW as Laughter-7 in 2012 but drifted apart when Shibata was fighting people like Nakamura and Tanahashi for abandoning the company nearly a decade ago. Got all that?  Mauro wonders how Tanahashi and Shibata will work out since they feuded recently. Josh, god bless him, describes Tanahashi as if "Motley Crue and Godzilla had a baby." I'm almost salivating at the idea of his descriptions when matched up with Jim Ross. We come back from break as Tanahashi starts with Yano. Yano goes immediately for the ropes and doesn't want to lock up. He then bails out of the ring. We have less than tem minutes left of the show as Yano is dicking around. Yano goes for the lock up and ducks right through it as he runs over and tags Sakuraba, to which Shibata is tagged in. They go for some grappling with waistlocks and counters that ends up with Shibata going for a heel hook but Sakuraba scoots right out. They both go for anklelocks on each other and that stalemate ends in the ropes. They stand back up as Josh mentions the time Sakuraba went into a big fight wearing an adult diaper (hopefully under his gear) in case he had to take care of business during the fight. Mauro adds that other fighters should probably do the same. No, I do NOT want to hear stories of MMA guys crapping themselves. Sakuraba then tries to play some Yano type games with Shibata by bailing out of the ring and just as Shibata goes for him, he gets right back in again. That goes nowhere. They go right back into the fight as Shibata gets hold of Sakuraba and brings him right back into the corner where he tags in Tanahashi. Hiroshi actually does well against Kazushi and gets him over with a snap mare and unloads a fine European uppercut. Mauro is surprised as he says that while Sakuraba, Shibata, and even Yano have amateur backgrounds, Tanahashi got into wrestling through college (IE backyard) shows. Yano breaks this up as he grabs Tanahashi's ankles and yanks him out of the ring where he blasts him into the barrier. Tanahashi is thrown back into the ring where Sakuraba kicks him a few times before hitting a running double stomp right to Tanahashi's face! Yano tags in and picks Tanahashi up before sending him into the turnbuckles where he had removed the protective pad. Shibata comes in and he gets whipped into the exposed buckles. They spill to the outside where Yano and Kazushi send their opponents into the barrier outside. Tanahashi rolls back in where Yano tries for the yakikiri again but only gets two. He tries for a roll up but again doesn't get it. He tries a running attack but Tanahashi rolls out of the way and Yano crashes into the exposed buckles. Tanahashi tries to get something in, but Yano just pulls the hair again sending Hiroshi down. Shibata gets the tag and so does Sakuraba. Shibata opens up on him with forearms in the corner and then nails him with a series of hard forearms to the face. Kazushi stands up and Shibata hits a quick suplex. He then pulls Sakuraba's jersey over his head and then locks in the figure four. They get to the ropes and break the hold. Kazushi pulls his jersey off and grabs Shibata and starts drilling in some Thai knee strikes. Sakuraba smells blood and locks in the rear naked choke on Shibata. He has it in tight but Shibata is fighting it, all while his eyes roll back in his head. He finally gets to the ropes and the hold is broken. Sakuraba hits a kick and then locks in a tight double wrist lock. Shibata fights it but out of nowhere SHIBATA SUBMITS! In the back, Yano talks about how he is the ace of the company now. Sakuraba says that Shibata should be fighting Tanahashi but if he wants to go, he doesn't mind. In the studio Kazushi says that he was given the chance to tag up, so he went for it. Simply put. He says that he wasn't targeting Shibata, but that's how things worked out. He doesn't know if he and Shibata will fight in a singles match ("It's none of my business") but he still doesn't think Shibata is very special. I don't say this often, but this show underperformed. While the first two matches were entertaining, there were a lot of edits and cuts. The main event wasn't a good match at all with so much goofy shit going on and its small run time. It wasn't a terrible experience by any means, but this show has done better. Next week we see more from this show, hopefully including Kota Ibushi cashing in his New Japan Cup title shot. We will see you then! We start with Baretta and Nick Jackson as Nick acts like a twit and Baretta makes him pay for it with a punch to the mouth.. He gets an early suplex on Nick and nearly gets a pin. Rocky is tagged in as they double team Nick with a clothesline. Matt tags in and gets hit for his troubles. Standing moonsault by Baretta nearly gets two. Both Matt and Nick bail outside the ring and decide it's over by grabbing the belts and starting back down the aisle. Vice goes after them only to get superkicked in the aisleway. The Jackson's run back to the ring while the Vice struggle to get back and Baretta shoves Romero back in the ring to beat that count at 19.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
I don't know why it's called that either
Welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we stop by the Sumo Hall in Tokyo for the first part of coverage of the "Invasion Attack" show from April 5th, 2015. Why is it called that when no one is invading? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, let's get to the action!

Strong Style: The Final Four

Jan 23 // Soul Tsukino
With that out of the way, we come to this week's show looking at the semifinals and final for the 2015 New Japan Cup. Last week, we looked at the first half of the first round. AXS has decided to skip way ahead of things so here are the matches that you missed. First Round: Togi Makabe defeated Tomoaki Honma Yujiro Takahashi defeated YOSHI-HASHI Katsuyori Shibata defeated Satoshi Kojima Hirooki Goto defeated Yuji Nagata Second Round: Togi Makabe defeated Yujiro Takahashi Hirooki Goto defeated Katsuyori Shibata Tetsuya Naito defeated Bad Luck Fale Kota Ibushi defeated Toru Yano So, now that we are up to speed on things, let's get to the action! We start off this week's show with a greeting from Kota Ibushi as we are at the Hiroshima Sun Plaza on March 15, 2015 New Japan Cup Semifinal: Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto Not exactly a beauty contest is it? Call the hospital, 'cuz this one is gonna hurt. Two hard hitting guys meeting head on and there must be a winner. Goto won three of these tournaments already ('08,'09,'12), can he win a fourth? Mauro mentions who each guy beat to get here as they enter the ring. Lock up to start but goes nowhere. Goto gets the headlock. A few shoulder blocks as Mauro tells us about Makabe's sweet tooth. They go right outside the ring and start bashing each other into the barricade and exchange hits. We jump ahead as we are back in the ring again. Goto gets Togi up and hits the ushi-karoshi! He doesn't go for the pin but instead lifts Togi up awkwardly for something but loses his grip. Togi regains his footing and runs off the ropes, hitting a double axhandle and then a clothesline to the back of Goto's head! Ouch! Togi grabs Goto and lifts him onto the turnbuckle for the spider suplex but as Makabe heads up, Goto throws a few elbows to his opponent's face. He gets turned around on the turnbuckle and hits Togi again, sending him hanging in the tree of woe. Goto comes down and gets Togi in a hanging neckbreaker. He tries for a pin but gets only two. Goto tries to get a suplex on the big guy, but Togi hits a few chops to escape. He follows up with a German suplex but Goto gets out of it and ties Togi's legs up for the gotoshiki and gets the three count! Not entirely what I was expecting there, but still fun to watch! New Japan Cup semifinal: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi This is a very even matchup and a complete opposite of the first match. Both these guys are the quickest in the heavyweight division (both being former Juniors who moved up in weight class) and this is going to be a fast-paced collision. Looking forward to this and the crowd is fired up for this one too. Lock up into an armbar for Ibushi goes right into counters back and forth for both guys. They run the ropes leading to both guys throwing dropkicks at the same time. We jump ahead and things have picked up as Kota hits the springboard dropkick. Kota lands a standing corkscrew moonsault (Damn!) but doesn't get the pin. Ibushi gets a kick to the face and a neckbreaker from Naito. We skip ahead again (really?) as Naito hits a sweet suplex but he holds on and tries for a dragon suplex that Kota flips right through. They trade strikes as Ibushi catches Naito off the ropes and hits the dragon suplex he was gong for originally. We come back from break with both guys down. Kota up first and gets the slam on Naito before heading up top. Naito catches him twice and climbs up before getting the reverse Frankensteiner on Ibushi from the top! The pin doesn't get it. Naito hits a forearm and Ibushi hits right back. Exchange starts and they are swinging for the fences with these forearms. Naito goes for the home run off the ropes but Kota clotheslines him and Naito spins in the air and down right on his head! Naito hits the rana but the pin is only two. Dragon suplex still only gets two! Naito goes for what looks like a pump handle slam but Kota elbows out. Kota into the ropes and Naito goes for a roll up but Kota catches him halfway and drops him straight down on his head! GANZO BOMB! Damn, how does that not kill guys deader than hell? Naito's injured his shoulder. Kota goes for Naito and Naito SLAPS Kota right in the face. Ibushi lands the high kick to Naito twice. Ibushi hits a HIGH sit out powerbomb and gets the pinfall! Backstage Kota says he can't lose now and he needs to win. Studio words from Ibushi as he talks about how the single elimination tournament style suits him and that he put a lot of his energy into the fight with Ibushi. He says that he thought of Goto as clumsy and straightforward, but they had never met in the ring before. 2015 New Japan Cup Final: Kota Ibushi vs. Hirooki Goto Who's got anything left in the tank to go one more round? Goto seems fine but Ibushi is sucking a little wind on their entrances. Barnett mentions that Goto has less in ring time tonight than Ibushi and that Kota needs to be quick and strike hard. Both men get good crowd response in the intro. Bell rings and they circle before the lock up. They go into the corner and Ibushi breaks with only a pat on the chest, Goto responds with a smack. They exchange strikes and Goto hits the shoulder. Goto gets a headlock and his grinding on it.  Shoot-off ends with Kota hitting a dropkick. Goto goes outside and Kota tries for the golden triangle but Goto gets in the ring and slams Ibushi with a clothesline on the apron that puts Kota down with a flip. Outside Goto kicks the fallen Kota before slamming him into the post. Goto rolls Kota into the ring and climbs up top for a big elbow. Pin gets two and grabs a chinlock before hitting and straight elbow. Goto gets the headscissors and cranks on it. Kota gets a foot on the rope for the break. Kota surprises me as he pops up and lands an elbow to Goto's face, but Goto hits him right back. Kota slides out of a suplex attempt for a dragon suplex, but Goto counters and goes to the ropes only to get a headscissors for his trouble. Goto rolls out of the ring and gets met with the golden triangle moonsualt. Ibushi got BIG air on that one. Both men are tired and  Kota rolls him into the ring and hit another springboard dropkick but doesn't get the pin. Kota lands strikes, slaps, kicks, and finalizes with a standing moonsault onto Goto. The pin doesn't get it, though. Kota tries for the dragon suplex but Goto reverses, only for Kota to reverse but get met with a running Goto clothesline. Goto lands some kicks and lands a flying kick in the corner and a suplex, but only gets two again. Kota gets out of the ushikoroshi and trades some hits before Goto hits a strike before hitting a backflip kick. Kota hits the mafia kick and picks Goto up to the top turnbuckle. Kota follows him with elbows, but Goto hits back and Goto goes for the powerbomb but Kota wiggles out, only to get a clothesline to send him to the apron. Kota jumps up top and hits the super rana off the top rope! Nice! Back from break, as Kota wills himself up and gets Goto up for a powerbomb but Goto gets out and hits the ushikaroshi! He doesn't get it quite right and both guys are hurt and stunned. They start trading elbows while on their knees and soon it picks up into a rapid fire back and forth. Goto wins that exchange and Ibushi collapses. Goto gets up and drags Ibushi to his feet. Goto hits a clothesline but it doesn't work as Kota clotheslines him back. The duel goes for Goto as he hits a spinning clothesline to send Kota down, but only gets two on the pin attempt. Goto picks Ibushi up and gives him a spinning faceplant right to the mat, but again, it only gets two. Hirooki lifts Kota up, possibly for another ushikaroshi, but Ibushi lands the knee to the head, drops out of the suplex and comes off the ropes with a clothesline that sends Goto for a flip in the air. Ibushi tires for his high powerbomb but Goto sits out the lift and wiggles out. He tries for a clothesline but Kota smacks him right in the face. Goto then drops Kota with a strike and picks Ibushi up for a powerbomb but Kota flies out of the counter for the strike. Kota Ibushi lands a kick right to the head. Kota hits his powerbomb he won the last match with but only gets two. Ibushi exhaustedly climbs up and gets the phoenix splash and gets the pin! Kota Ibushi wins the tournament! Kota Ibushi gets a big check and a HUGE trophy. He announces that he wants A.J. Styles and the IWGP title! He stops as the crowd chants his name and he says he will win the belt at the next show on April 5th. Backstage he is grateful to his fans for supporting him as he wins his first title as a heavyweight with this win. He hopes they cheer him on when he goes for the big one. Studio words as he says he is happy he has won and says that both were good matches that night, but that Goto was not like he imagined he would be. He doesn't really elaborate on how he thought Goto would be, though (clumsy and straightforward maybe?) and we end this week on that note. Due to some of the time constraints, this show was a bit on the disappointing side. The main event was great but the editing in the first two matches left things to be desired. Once again Mauro and Josh did their jobs well, especially in covering the ground no shown on TV. It was a fair episode of the show, but I bet next week will be better. See you next week! /ul/34711-/match 3-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
We wrap up the 2015 New Japan Cup!
Hey hey! The providers of Puroresu are back again this week as Strong Style takes a look at NJPW on AXS TV. We've got a lot to cover before we even get to the action so before we begin let's cover a few things. First, the big...

Strong Style: It's Season 4 baby!

Jan 16 // Soul Tsukino
We get a greeting from Toru Yano! He keeps asking why are they filming him as he stands against the a wall. That is Yano for you. Round 1 match:  Kota Ibushi vs. Doc Gallows Speed vs. strength in this one. Ibushi had a great showing against Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 9 while Gallows is one-half of the IWGP Tag Champions here. Gallows comes to the ring with Cody Hall and Tama Tonga. If you have been keeping up with Strong Style, you notice Cody hasn't wrestled on here yet. Although he is in the Bullet Club, he is still considered a "young boy" in NJPW and only really wrestles in curtain jerkers since he hasn't earned a bigger spot yet. Since this show doesn't waste time with scrub matches, his stuff doesn't get shown. Anyway, back to the match. They circle around and Gallows muscles him a bit in the corner but backs off for the clean break. Doc then just grabs Kota by the throat and throws him around. Gallows runs right into Ibushi with a clothesline right to the throat sending him into the corner. Tama Tonga then clocks Ibushi right in the face from the outside. Doc hits a big suplex and goes for the pin. Doesn't get it. Kota starts whirlwind strikes but gets clobbered to send him down. Doc leans on him with a headlock while clubbing him in the chest. Doc goes for a big splash but misses. Crowd chants for Ibushi and they exchange shots before Kota nails the big guy with a dropkick and hits the golden triangle moonsault out to the floor to wipe out the Club. Ibushi rolls the big guy in the ring and jumps right to the top, hitting a dropkick. Gallows staggers to his feet with Kota trying for the German suplex, but the big guy doesn't budge. Gallows runs off the ropes for a clothesline but Ibushi slides in behind him and lands the German suplex. Gallows recovers and catches Ibushi with his old "12 steps" finisher but doesn't go for the pin. Doc is looking to finish him off with the Hangman's noose but Ibushi reverses it into a roll-up and a 3 count! That was a quick one. But they told the story they wanted in that short amount of time. Good match.   Round 1 match: Tetsuya Naito vs. "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson This is a pretty even match. Although known as a tag team wrestler, Anderson has shown he does well in singles action. And although he is a graduated guy from the Juniors division, Naito can go with the heavys. Once again Tama Tonga and Cody Hall come out for the Club. Josh mentions that these two have met each other a bunch of times so there isn't a lot they haven't seen out of each other in a match. Karl Attacks before the bell and takes things outside on Naito. Naito gets the ring apron powerbomb right off the bat! Damn. Naito struggles up and drags himself up to the apron where Karl rams his head right into the post and sending Naito back out for the count. Naito barely makes it to the apron where Anderson ties him up in the ropes and lands a kick to Naito's face before laying in some shots. Anderson lands another straight kick to the face and Naito is on the floor again. Naito makes it back in at the count of 19 and Karl meets him by trying to pin him 3 times in a row with no dice. Anderson is just killing Naito now with hits and elbows right to the face before getting Naito in a reverse facelock. Tetsuya fights out of it, only to land in a bodyslam to the mat. Anderson goes for a senton but Naito rolls out of the way. At this point, Mauro talks about that weird eye pose that Naito does. Evidently while he was on his excursion in Mexico, racist fans would make that gesture to him to make fun of him being Asian. Naito ended up adopting it as his own to take the sting out of it. Naito has also described it as he is opening eyes around the world. Kind of a cool empowerment story right there. Back to the action as Naito gets Karl in the corner with a fast stiff strikes. Naito goes for a rana but Karl catches him and starts for a running powerbomb, but Naito goes for it and gets the rana off anyway. We come back from a break as Naito is back up to his feet. He and Karl trade wristlocks before Anderson sends him into the ropes and hits a sweet spinebuster (that's a different Anderson) before landing a straight kick right to Naito's face. Naito gets back up but Karl hits a running kick to the face sending Naito for a loop and down on his face. Seeing his moment, Anderson sets Naito up on his shoulders for the gun stun, but Naito wiggles out. He tries for a diving something but overshoots Anderson, who grabs Naito and hits the gun stun! Pin attempts only gets two. Anderson tries for another guns stun, but Naito wiggles out of that and hits and enziguri kick to Anderson before hitting a flying forearm. Naito picks Anderson up and puts him on the top rope for the super rana, but Anderson counters and drops him with a super powerbomb! Anderson goes for the cover as Naito kicks out. Tetsuya will not quit! Trade of forearms  goes nowhere for either man before Karl starts throwing European forearms. Karl goes for the exploder suplex and lands Naito right on his neck on the knee! No pin here. He goes for the gun stun again but Naito gets a backslide for two, goes for another pin and still only gets two. Naito hits the German suplex but still can't win. He goes for broke now as he climbs to the top rope and hits the stardust press and gets the three count! Damn that was a fun one! Backstage Naito says it doesn't matter who he faces in the next round he wants to be the best! Round 1 match: "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale Aw, crap. If you saw my round-up of the last season you know that Fale doesn't exactly set my world on fire. Okada will have to go extra hard to make this on par with the other matches. Fale though really only sees success when NJPW needs him too,  He won the IC title from Nakamura to create the image he could actually win the G1 tournament and then dropped it right back when it was over. He got to the finals of this tournament last year, losing to Tanahashi. The rest of the time he competes in mid to lower card tag matches with the Bullet Club if he even competes at all on a show. Fale comes to the ring with who else but Cody Hall and Tama Tonga (who is criminally underused, especially against Fale's appearances). Okada comes to the ring with Gedo as always. After leaving WrestleKingdom in tears, he wants a win. Lock up as Fale muscles Okada into the corner and goes for the hit as Okada ducks out of that. Okada gets some hits on the big guy and gets a sunset flip. Fale tries to drop on him but Okada moves quick. Okada gets aggressive and kicks Fale right out of the ring. Fale gets on the apron and grabs Okada right by the throat and chucks Okada right out over the top and to the floor! We jump ahead as Fale has the advantage with a slam. He goes for the splash but misses as the crowd is behind Okada here. Okada ducks out of the corner charge and slams the big guy! He hits a few running forearms and then a DDT before a kip-up and hits a flying dive into the corner and then hits a clothesline send Fale to the floor. Fale gets smacked with a kick to the face sending him over the barricade but when Okada goes for the splash, Fale catches him and splats him right n the floor. Back in the ring as we jump ahead as they are trading shots.  Okada hits a kick and a dropkick to send Fale down. He climbs to the top and hits a flying elbow into the Rainmaker pose! He goes for something but Fale counters getting Okada up into a Samoan drop and nearly gets the pin. Fale hits the spear but again only gets two! Okada looks like hell now as Fale goes for a piledriver but Okada counters into the exploder neckbreaker (THAT is Impressive!). Okada goes for the tombstone but Fale is just too big for that. Fale goes for the bad luck fall (razor's edge) but Okada counters. He goes for the Rainmaker but Fale goes for the grenade, Okada counters with a dropkick but Fale gets him up again. Fale detonates the grenade! He goes for the pin but Okada kicks out again! Fale climbs to the top and hits a splash! OKADA KICKS OUT!  Fale can tell he's close though as he gets Okada up for the bad luck fall and with that gets the three count. Wow...really? Of all the Bullet Club members to get to the next round it's Bad Luck Fale... OVER OKADA no less. We get some words from Yano. He talks about running in the Tokyo Marathon (!) but that while he was in shape, he couldn't just wrestle for hours and hours. He talks about how different he and Tanahashi are in that Tanahashi is old-fashioned and trains in old-fashioned ways while he goes out and sells DVDs. Round 1 match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano This is a strange one. You have the CHAOS goofball member taking on the ace of New Japan in Tanahashi. Seems a bit of a lopsided contest and a forgone conclusion, but NJPW can surprise people sometimes. Tanahashi is coming off the quick loss of the IWGP title back to A.J. Styles after having the belt for only a month and a half. With Okada eliminated, Tanahashi looks to be the favorite. Yano comes out with a chair, a bottle of water, and a DVD of what looks like a best of CHAOS DVD collection. Josh and Mauro call him deceptively evil and he is trained in MMA and amateur wrestling so he is no joke. Josh mentions being in Yano's corner for his one and only Pancreas fight. Tanahashi comes out air guitaring it. Both men trade waistlocks as Yano seems to have drunk some coffee before the match and is moving at a million miles an hour. Yano gets a very quick wristlock and Tanahashi gets out of it. Yano then bolts right to the corner and pulls off the big turnbuckle pad but Tanahashi grabs him. Mauro elaborates more on Yano's marathon, saying he ran the event and finished in about 6.5 hours and then wrestled a match for Pro Wrestling NOAH THAT NIGHT. That is like Bob Backlund-like crazy training, and Yano has man boobs! They trade some shots before Yano nearly sends Tanahashi into the ref who cowers in the corner. Meanwhile, Yano hits the low blow and then goes for the yorikiri (hair pull into a roll-up) but gets only two. He quickly goes for more roll-up pins but can't get the pin. Tanahashi's had enough and clobbers Yano with a forearm to slow it down. He then SMACKS Yano in the face with a slap, but Yano quickly grabs the hair and into another Yorikiri and gets the three count. Wait what? *reads that back* Toru Yano beat Hiroshi Tanahashi with the yorikiri IN LESS THAN THREE MINUTES?!?!? Wow. Backstage Yano declares himself the new face of NJPW and tells everyone to buy his merch. Tanahashi is PISSED. Studio words from Yano as e says it was his plan for a long time to do this. He said people would say he beat Tanahashi like they were surprised, but Yano is like "Of course I beat him." When asked about the future, he plugs his DVD and album coming out! Well, that was an episode full of surprises! The only real cuts here were during the Okada/Fale match and I suspect it wasn't just for time reasons, but probably helped things along with that one. Mauro and Josh were spot on with their call of the actions, especially with the ending of that last match. A great way to kick off the new season! Speed vs. strength in this one. Ibushi had a great showing against Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 9 while Gallows is one half of the IWGP Tag Champions here. Gallows comes to the ring with Cody Hall and Tama Tonga. If you have been keeping up with Strong Style, you notice Cody hasn't wrestled on here yet. Although he is in the Bullet Club, he is still considered a "young boy" in NJPW and only really wrestles in curtain jerkers since he hasn't earned a bigger spot yet. Since this show doesn't waste time with scrub matches, his stuff doesn't get shown.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
We look at the 2015 New Japan Cup
Strong Style is back! Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV returns tonight as we kick off the new season. This week we dive right into the 2015 New Japan Cup Tournament. The New Japan Cup is a single eliminat...


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