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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...

Sword Art Online VR photo
Sword Art Online VR

Virtual Reality Sword Art Online actually works, it turns out


Well...sort of.
Mar 19
// Josh Tolentino
When IBM announced its intention to Make Anime Real™ by producing a Sword Art Online-based virtual reality experience, I was a tad skeptical. After all, even the most advanced VR tech in the world can just barely convi...

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.

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...

Tiger Mask photo
Tiger Mask

New Tiger Mask anime series announced


Classic wrestling anime to be rebooted
Mar 04
// Soul Tsukino
During an announcement made on Thursday, New Japan Pro Wrestling Chief Owner Takaaki Kidani announced that the company would be producing a revival of the classic Tiger Mask anime series. The original series was based on &nbs...
Cat Island photo
Cat Island

Japan's Cat Island gets lots of love to fight food shortage


A Purr-ty big response!
Feb 29
// Soul Tsukino
Aoshima is a small island in a remote part of the Ehime prefecture of Japan. It's the kind of small island you mind find a martial arts master residing, or the kind of place you'd take a high school class for a trip (don't forget the commemorative metal collars!). The whole island is only about 8 miles around and is occupied by about 16 people- -and oh yeah... Aoshima
Sword Art Online photo
Sword Art Online

Finally, an actual Sword Art Online Virtual Reality game


As the gods intended
Feb 22
// Josh Tolentino
File this one under "It's happening!", because it really is: Sword Art Online is getting a game adaptation in the medium that it helped make famous: Virtual Reality. IBM have announced a new online VR game project title...

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...

Annotated Anime: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu episodes 4-6

Feb 17 // Josh Tolentino
In case you've forgotten, episode three ended on what seemed to be a dramatic cliffhanger, with the Yakumo the 7th's mistress Miyokichi showing up, seeking the master. In a different story, she'd be like a live grenade tossed into the cast, exploding the old, comfortable dynamic and setting the plot in writhing motion. Except she's absent for most of the fourth episode, which devotes its eye solely to the relationship between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku (née Bon and Shin), living together in an apartment following their promotion to futatsume. It's at this time that some of the subtle subtexts lurking in Shouwa Rakugo bubble up to the fore, clear to see even for folks who aren't into close reading or other film studies piddle-paddling.  It's hard not to see Kikuhiko's longing for his best friend, even as he only slowly comes to realize it himself over the course of the next few installments. But for us viewers, it's plainly evident in the married-couple banter the pair exchange, Kikuhiko's apparent indifference to the opposite sex (including a bond with Miyokichi that seems more maternal than romantic), and even the way the camera and framing of the scenes treat Sukeroku. Of course, this cat isn't out of the bag (or closet) just yet. The show's historical context virtually ensures that Kikuhiko's path of self-discovery would be an ambivalent one. Hell, we already know what he's like in the future, and "out and proud" isn't one of those things. At this point, we're on the hook to find out just how he, Sukeroku, and Miyokichi are involved in leading to the present state of Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th.  If nothing else, the journey to finding out remains riveting as ever. Ably voiced by Megumi "Rei" Hayashibara, Miyokichi is less a plot grenade than a fire pot of character work, playing a grounded, perceptive, utterly attractive woman for whom a term like "temptress" feels both accurate and unforgivably reductive. Her role in catalyzing the events that lead to Kikuhiko discovering his own style of Rakugo also can't be overstated.  It's not all happy, though. As good as one feels for the characters and their journey so far, the shinjuu in the title still looms. In fact, Kikuhiko discovering how to make his mark on Rakugo brings him one step closer to the sly, sinister, troubled old man we met in the first episode, and to whatever tragedies made him that way. [Watch more of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu on Crunchyroll!] née
Shouwa Rakugo photo
The plot thickens
The last time we checked in on Shouwa Rakugo, it was shaping up to be one of the best (or at least, most grown-up) anime series to air in years. Anime fans looking for more mature, grounded plotting and complex character work...

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!

WTF photo
WTF

WTF Fridays: Kabe-don & don'ts


A little sekuhara with your blouse?
Feb 05
// Hiroko Yamamura
Girl, that dress would look better on my bedroom floor

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!

Ys VIII photo
Ys VIII

Get shipwrecked with some new Ys VIII screenshots


When sailing goes wrong
Jan 29
// Salvador GRodiles
It almost feels like it was yesterday when Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana's key details were revealed to the public, as my experience with the series has changed from then. Right now, I was able to go through a majority of the ca...
Sumo photo
Sumo

Japanese-born sumo wrestler wins first tournament in ten years


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

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...

'Lucky Man' race photo
'Lucky Man' race

Check out Japan's recent 'Lucky Man' race event


May the winner have an amazing new year
Jan 10
// Salvador GRodiles
When it comes to receiving good luck, most of the requirements for this blessing usually require a prayer or a special type of offering. However, there are some cases where you'll have to compete against a large group of peo...
Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' opening will turn the world into your stage


Gotta Break Those Chains!
Jan 07
// Salvador GRodiles
After hearing Kamen Rider Girls in the first two Kamen Rider Battride War titles, it feels a bit strange that the group didn't return to sing Battride War Genesis' theme. My guess is that it might have to do with their album...
Look at this jerk photo
Look at this jerk

Try to ignore the d-bag marketing for this neat translator gizmo


Cool device, uncool dude
Jan 07
// Josh Tolentino
Here's a new one to file under "Why We Can't Have Nice Things": Tone-deaf marketing stunts. Like this one, for a neat little thing called the "ili" Wearable Translator. It's a little white slab about a bit smaller than an Ap...
Japanese New Year photo
Japanese New Year

Take a look at Japanese New Year Celebrations!


I want the fooooood
Jan 01
// Red Veron
Happy New Year! We had a great one here at Japanator and enjoyed many things this past year. I hope everyone had a great year and enjoyed their New Year's celebration! The whole world celebrated the New Year and since yo...
Jump Festa Cosplay photo
Naruto, One Piece, and more besides
Jump Festa, Shueisha's yearly celebration of all things Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and whatever else it publishes, happened last week, and our pal Lindo Korchi was on hand to observe the proceedings. You can ch...

Cosplay Excellence at Jump Festa 2016, Part 1

Dec 24 // Josh Tolentino
/ul/34618-cosplay-excellence-at-jump-festa-2015-part-1/Jump Festa 2016 Cosplay Photos Part 1 (12)-noscale.jpg
Jump Festa Cosplay photo
Snaps and shots from the show floor
Jump Festa, Shueisha's yearly celebration of all things Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and whatever else it publishes, happened last week, and our pal Lindo Korchi was on hand to observe the proceedings. You can check out hi...

2020 Summer Olympics photo
2020 Summer Olympics

2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo sees major changes


New Stadium announced
Dec 23
// Soul Tsukino
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games have garnered a lot of controversy even before Tokyo won the bid to host the games in 2013. Ballooning costs, allegations that the official logo was a stolen trademark, and social media's c...

Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

Dec 23 // Josh Tolentino
Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016 As my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, I'm abruptly taken away from the dream I was in; attending one of the biggest anime expositions in Japan: Jump Festa. “Today's the first day of Jump Festa! I need to grab the train to Chiba now or I'll be late!” I exclaimed. And so, my journey began. But before I continue, I'll briefly go over what Jump Festa is. Since 1999, Shueisha, the creators of the famous Jump magazines, sponsored the event Jump Festa to focus solely on anime, manga, games, merchandise, and alike. In addition, many manga artists also attend the event and have panels along with Q&A sessions. It's difficult to find data revealing the number of attendees for each year of Jump Festa, however, the latest one reported by Mantan-web revealed attendance figures of 145,000 for 2014 – 11,000 more than in 2013 and a bigger attendance size than AnimeJapan. Assuming the trend continued this year, this year's event could have up to 167,000 fans through the doors. Jump Festa having an admission price of just $0.00 (yes, free), definitely adds to those rapid growth prospects. Now that the introduction is out of the way, we can now move on to Jump Festa 2016. As I sprint out the kitchen with a piece of toast in my mouth (I'm in Japan; I had to!), I catch the JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station to Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. After a two-hour journey (which includes the delays I had on the train), I finally arrive at Makuhari Messe, the venue where Jump Festa has been held for over a decade. [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed] “You've got to be kidding me.” I thought as I looked at the excessive lines (yes, that's plural!) leading to the entrance. A little over an hour later, and somehow being able to guide myself towards the front, I was finally in – but then, there were more lines, and it didn't look like an exhibition hall at all. That's when I realized I actually entered the Jump Festa sale zone, where they sell original goods and limited edition items. The area was huge and attendees were separated by groups. Each group was set for a specific anime or manga series, which included the limited edition goods. However, those groups also had lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a glimpse of them due to the overwhelming amount of people. Interestingly enough, none of the items were on display, instead, attendees were given a piece of paper which noted what was offered (photos of the items weren't on the page; some booths in the exhibition hall displayed photos towards the front or back of the line, though). I attempted to tell staff that I simply wanted to see what they offered, and snap a few photos, but they weren't keen on such. Plus, how would I be able to shoot photos? Unless they were going to bring me to where they actually had the inventory. That wasn't going to happen. Nonetheless, I ventured to find the exhibition hall. Thankfully, I saw Naruto Uzumaki & Sakura Haruno roaming the convention; they were kind enough to lead me to the exhibit hall, where we parted off with a “Dattebayo!” Due to the overwhelming volume of people who lined up for special events, panels, and screenings, I wasn't able to attend any of them. However, it wasn't a problem. My favorite part about any convention is the exhibit hall, I believe it's the heart of it all and either makes or breaks the experience. Most of my time was spent in the exhibit hall, booths, and cosplay corners. Attending an anime convention that's 100% Japanese, 0% English is quite the challenge. But it's the challenge that makes the overall experience an adventure. Jump Festa held an atmosphere that no other convention in America, at least, the ones I've been to, have been able to achieve. As you walk pass the Jump gallery and witness the artworks of recognizable manga artists, such as Tite Kubo, Kazue Kato, and Shun Saek, it becomes surreal. As you look around, you hear the Japanese language flowing in every direction, every piece of content written in hiragana and kanji; you realize that the amazing cosplay you've always thought were semi-fake on Facebook are actually legit as you witness great cosplayers roam the halls. At some point, it finally hits you that you're at the heart of all the original stories, artworks, manga and anime that has captivated you from an early age – that's a special experience and not one that can easily be replicated. Wandering around, I found myself in a new area and was thrilled. “Is that Kakashi-sensei? No way, is that Super Saiyan 4 Goku?! I must've entered the anime zone!” I thought, in excitement. To be frank, it was the dedicated cosplay area. While it's true that I've been to quite a few conventions and am used to cosplay, I'm not exactly accustomed to seeing a lot of high-quality ones, nonetheless gathered in one area. The cosplayers did not only resemble the characters but captured their personality as well. For those who didn't exactly resemble said character, it was just as good because the detail put into their cosplay was clearly shown. The highlight my time there - and my personal favorite cosplay -moment was witnessing a senior in a wheelchair. I noticed that he had some sort of outfit and questioned if he was cosplaying. As I approached him, it was clear that he was cosplaying Akainu of One Piece. It was a special thing to see. Even though he's a senior and must use a wheelchair to get around, he didn't allow his circumstances to limit him from having fun, enjoying life, and preparing his cosplay outfit as the days led to Jump Festa. “Sumimasen. Shashin desu ka?” (Excuse me. May I take a photo?) I asked. The young man who was helping the senior looked surprised, as if no one had asked to take a photo. The senior smiled and nodded his head. As he slowly got up from his wheelchair, he adjusted his cosplay jacket and looked straight into the camera, full of character. After the shot, he was all smiles. He definitely has my respect; it's my favorite shot of the entire event because there's a story behind it. As I walked away, it became clear that it wasn't always about taking photos of the “best cosplayers”, but creating memories of the event and showing all the cosplayers who participated that they're appreciated, just as the senior. It can make all the difference. Just a few of those "unrecognized" cosplayers are in the gallery below. One of the main focus points for Jump Festa was the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! along with the movie, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions. But it wasn't just a promotion, it was actually fun. Booths were set up for attendees to have their photo taken and be placed on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with either Yugi or Kaiba (free of charge). Some areas were dedicated to one-on-one dueling while others pit two teams of five against each other using huge cards as props (similar to the giant chess set). Attendees were also able to get their picture taken, sign their names, and have it displayed in the theatrical version of the movie's ending credits. Large showcases of cards were up for display, along with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card cosplay. Another cool setup was the special play area for attendees, which included a mini trampoline, a slide, and small ball pool. Many of the booths interacted with the attendees and provided activities, such as Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and PlayStation that let attendees play demo versions of upcoming games, including One Piece: Burning Blood, Dragon Quest Builders, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Toho animation held an informative booth, explaining the artwork and how they process the animation. Bandai also held a small musical performance. And, of course, a dedicated area was made for all things Street Fighter. However, I must admit, I was surprised by the lack of non-Japanese fans at Jump Festa. The majority were Japanese, with hardly any westerners in sight. Given that Jump Festa is also a free event, I was baffled. Perhaps it's because Jump Festa isn't really promoted overseas, or at least not to the English-speaking audience. Last year when I was in Japan around the same time, I didn't even hear about Jump Festa. I only discovered it because I was actively searching for anime conventions in Japan for the winter season. I appreciated the fact that throughout the event, the same atmosphere, energy, and hype was still felt, all the way to its final hours. As the event came to a close, I smiled, filled with joy, and looked through the photos I took to recapture the moments. As I took the JR back to Ueno Station, I saw dozens of people on the train with Jump bags. Even though we all didn't know each other, it was our common interest in Jump that brought us together to have a great experience, and that was special. Despite the long lines and lack of English, Jump Festa was an incredible event. They really delivered; the exhibition hall and cosplay area was definitely the heart of the event and were great. The atmosphere, energy, appreciation, and the vibe of being in the home country of Japanese pop culture is a unique experience that cannot be experienced elsewhere. If you ever have the chance to make it to Jump Festa, I'd definitely recommend it. If not, see if you can make it to AnimeJapan, which is held annually in March at Tokyo Big Sight. I'm sure it'll be great as well. What are your thoughts on Jump Festa? Did you attend this year's show, or would you like to see it come to your country? Let us know in the comments, along with your own thoughts on Shonen Jump. For my part, even after the event I found myself learning new things: A number of cosplayers there fans of Tokyo Ghoul, and now I've just got to check out what they were jazzed up enough to dress up for! P.S.: Finally, if there are any Japanator readers in the Tokyo area who's interested in some Jump Festa merchandise, let us know, as well. I came upon quite a bit of swag that I'd love to give away, including manga, stickers, cards, buttons, and other promotional items. Here's a photo of it all:   [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed]
Jump Festa 2015 photo
An event for the best of Shonen Jump
Editor's Note: If you're in Japan and a manga fan, Christmas comes early each year, as Jump Festa, Shueisha's celebration of all things Shonen JUMP, takes place shortly before the big day, promoting manga, anime, video g...

Strong Style: A look back at season 3

Dec 19 // Soul Tsukino
  Scariest dude of season 3 Minoru Suzuki/Katsuyori Shibata (tie) Both these men are not ones I'd ever want to see standing in the opposite corner. Both these guys are bad dudes for sure. Shibata is an emotionless ass kicking machine. He is no frills, no smiles, no showboat. He literally marches to the ring, destroys anyone who opposes him, and then leaves. It didn't matter if you were rival Tanahashi or his own high school friend Hirooki Goto, he would kick your ass just the same. This season we saw him win his first title with Meiyu partner Goto and take guys like Tanahashi, Nakamura, and Guns and Gallows to their limits. He may not win all of them, but he'll make you remember him. MMA pioneer Minoru Suzuki, on the other hand, is just as scary because he likes torturing people. He takes delight in finding new ways to hurt his opponents and make them squeal. He'll bite your fingers, twist your ankles, and stretch you like a rubber band. The leader of the Suzuki Army made his final NJPW appearance (for now) at WrestleKingdom this season, but he left a mark of just being a scary torture master who didn't care what anyone thought.   Most fighting spirit of the season Tomoaki Honma Despite recent headlines concerning his personal life, New Japan told the perfect story with Honma. A former Big Japan hardcore wrestler who comes up short in most of his matches, but will still put everything he has into every match. This season we saw him in the losing effort against Ishii, but his best moment was when he scored the winning pinfall against the Bullet Club at WrestleKingdom. Mauro Ranallo described the moment best when he said "Charlie Brown finally kicked the football!"   Worst performance of the season Bad Luck Fale I almost went with Bruce Tharpe on this one, but at least the guy is valiantly trying to keep the NWA name alive when it should have been killed off years ago. "The Underboss" of the Bullet Club's match with Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Title was easily the most disappointing match of the season, let alone a featured match. Fale's plodding bag-man style may work well in the States (well, to Vince McMahon anyway) but was not what I've come to expect in the action on this show. Combine with him losing the title so soon after he had won it last season, it made him look so out of place being in the spot he was.   Biggest Derp of the season Spoiling the main event of Togi Makabe vs. Tomoshiro Ishii. Yup, that one. The Stone Pitbull and the Unchained Gorilla were going to lock horns for Ishii's NEVER Openweight title. It was a lesson in smashmouth hard-nosed wrestling. However the producers of the show in Japan (and AXS TV for leaving it in) decided to air an interview with Makabe with the belt he WON IN THE MATCH THEY WERE GOING TO SHOW! Thanks for the tip off guys.   Best visual of the season All the gold on the table.  The big 8 man match right before Wrestlekingdom with Tanahashi/Makabe/La Sombra/Ibushi vs. Okada/Nakamura/Ishii/YOSHI-HASHI was big enough considering what was on the landscape at the time, but the shot of all 3 men's heavyweight titles plus the WK title shot briefcase on the table showed just how big the match was. That image really drives the point home that this was the all-star match of the year. Nothing drove the point home of how top level this match was than seeing that much heavy metal together.   "WTF is going on here?" of the season The "lost" episode: At the beginning of the season, AXS TV released a list of the episodes that were going to air for season 3. AXS kind of fell off the wagon near the end of the season when the November 13th episode was pre-empted for basketball coverage. Not only did the episode not air, but the two part coverage of the matches from Sendai were moved up a week. This missing show was to have covered matches from the January 19th, 2015 card and feature 3 matches with stars from Mexico, including a big 8 man tag match. I've asked around, but no one seems to know if this unseen show was even made let alone if it will ever air.   Best line of the season Ryusuke Taguchi: "Oh my and Garfunkel" Was there any doubt? Junior heavyweight Taguchi cracked out this gem in the first show of the season after winning the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title from Kushida. It's random, goofy, and no one is quite sure where he came up with it, but it became a line that Mauro and Josh loved to repeat for the rest of the season. It became a mantra of just how different Taguchi really is. Fun to say, a mystery to know, and an expression of individualism.   Coolest move of the season Kenny Omega's Chainsaw With his makeover in becoming "The Cleaner" for The Bullet Club, Canadian Jr. heavyweight Kenny Omega cracked out this gem at WrestleKingdom against Taguchi. With the over the top set up of pulling an imaginary starter cord, his goofy facial expressions, and the thought of someone's arm hair stubble raking across your eyeballs, this move was just flat out creative. We got to see Omega use this again in the rematch with Taguchi (the one where the flagpole went up people's butts) and it was just as fun the second time around.   Best finisher of the season Hirooki Goto's ushi-karoshi.  Had to go with this one as it looks like one of those moves that there is no way people don't feel something afterward. Goto picks you up in a fireman's carry and launches you up in the air, but instead of just landing on your back on the mat (I.E. John Cena's AA), Goto brings his knee up and connects right to the base of your NECK. This is the type of move you will never see come to the WWE and with one wrong move, someone could end up paralyzed or dead. Thankfully Mr. Goto is a professional and mastered the timing of the move so no one has ended up permanently hurt from it. A great visual and one the people believe can really hurt you.   Tag team of the season Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson This pick was a no-brainer. Guns and Gallows of the Bullet Club are the dominant tag team in New Japan right now and it was reflected on this show. They spent much of the season in matches with Meiyu, but also beat the team of Okada and YOSHI- HASHI as were in a six-man tag team match as well. Although their matches often had interference, they were perfectly capable of winning on their own.   Match of the season Tanahashi vs. Okada (WrestleKingdom 9)  This was a tough one for me as there were probably 4 other contenders for this, showing just how good the action was this season. Ultimately I had to go with this match. It was the biggest match pin the biggest stage with the two biggest guys for the biggest prize. This wasn't filled with a ton of interference like a lot of the Bullet Club matches, nor was it cut to ribbons in the editing room. This was built up perfectly and this show did the match justice in showing how important it was with giving it its own episode. Although outside of this show there may have been better matches that NJPW presented, in the confines of this show, this match takes top honors.   Wrestler of the season Shinsuke Nakamura  This guy is the star of this show, no question about it. While Tanahashi may be the ace of the company, Nakamura is the one that this show centers around. Mauro and Josh love this guy and his antics, he puts on great matches (Bad Luck Fale aside) and the way he conducts himself in the ring and on the mic really sets him apart as someone different and not cut from the same cloth. While Tanahashi, Styles, and Okada were hovering around the IWGP title, Nakamura was making the Intercontinental Title the belt to watch with all the different opponents he had. Even in tag matches, he was able to shine in a large group of top notch competitors and when he got on the mic you were never sure what he was going to say. While Puroresu values athletic ability more so that the major league here in the states, it's still a form of entertainment and Shinsuke Nakamura has the art down to a T. Season 3 covered some great action this year. With Wrestlekingdom hovering over everyone's head this season, it really brought out the best in an already amazing show. Luckily we won't have to wait long to get things going again as a new season is coming up shortly. However, it is an end of an era of sorts for NJPW on AXS TV. During the past week it was announced that our favorite announcer, Mauro Ranallo will be joining the WWE as the lead announcer for Smackdown starting in early January. I've asked around and no replacement has been named for the next season of this show, so we will have to wait and see who gets to fill the role. Meanwhile, I congratulate Mauro for getting the role. I've said that Mauro is one of the best wrestling announcers going today and if anyone can help improve the announcing quality of WWE programming, it will be him. I'll say it here like I tweeted to him, I hope that they let him be HIM, and not be what an out of touch billionaire wants him to be. If the WWE is serious about upping the show's game for their start on the USA network, they certainly got the best start they can by hiring him. And with that, we bring season 3 to a close here at Strong Style. We will be picking up soon with season four soon enough so stay glued to Japanator for more wrestling action!  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Ending the year with a look back
Hello again Japanator wrestling fans to this special edition of Strong Style. This week we are taking a look back at the awesomeness that was season 3 of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.  This season covered the months...

Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Awaken your inner beast with two minutes of Tales of Berseria


What a horrible night to have a curse!
Dec 17
// Salvador GRodiles
From day one, I was on board with Tales of Berseria's idea of letting the players sail through the game's world on a pirate ship. However, I didn't expect to see the game's latest trailer hitting us with werewolf-like creatu...
Ys VIII photo
Ys VIII

Land Ho: Ys VIII sails to Japan next Summer


Expect to get shipwrecked again
Dec 16
// Salvador GRodiles
For a long time, the two main colors used in Christmas are red and green. Of course, white happens to be another one that's used during this occasion. Speaking of holiday colors, it turns out that Falcom has revealed new deta...
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Recycling

Japan's Zero Waste Town sorts their garbage into 34 different types


There's how many types of garbage?
Dec 12
// Red Veron
If you've ever watched anime, you may have seen a character stress over sorting their garbage or even forgetting which day they pick up certain types of garbage, whether it is burnable or non-burnable, recyclable, your waifu...

Strong Style: 'Tis the end of the season of Strong Style beatings!

Dec 12 // Soul Tsukino
We kick things off with a greeting from Blue Justice himself, Yuji Nagata! NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title: Chase Owens vs. Jushin Liger Rematch here for the belt as Liger is the champion coming into this one. He is wearing a cool alt version of his mask that is white with red trim. On the other side, we have Strong Style's favorite dollar store A.J. Styles, Chase Owens. Owens has now even started wearing long black tights and grown his bread out, wonder where he got that idea from. Owens, of course, is seconded by Bruce "I took third place in a Buddy Holly lookalike contest" Tharpe, president of the NWA. Mauro actually says that outside of the ring, Tharpe is actually a nice soft spoken person and a lawyer. Jokes on that contradiction begin now. Chase gets the waistlock and Liger takes him down with a leg scissors. Owens tries to get out but goes for the ropes. We jump ahead a little bit as both men chopping each other in the center of the ring. Tackle sends Owens out to the floor and then Liger hits a sliding dropkick. Liger goes for the dive off the top, but Tharpe gets in the way. Chase gets the advantage off the distraction and goes for the pin but gets two. Owens gets some punches in but then stops and poses. Owens go for the running start and is stopped with a palm strike. Liger sets Owens on the top and hits the top rope hurancanrana! Vintage Liger! He goes up again and goes for the dive only to meet the knees. Chase hits the gutbuster and gets a two count, only to go for it again. Owens gets the slingshot backbreaker and then hits another one. Owes goes for the package piledriver twice (ironic because I know another guy named Owens who used that move) only to get blocked but gets a sunset flip for two. Owens gets up and gets a waistlock, that is reversed, reversed again and Liger gets the pin! Backstage Owens grumbles about losing and vows to get the belt the next time.   NWA Title: Rob Conway vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan It's the Con-man! Rob Conway comes out wearing the title and with Tharpe as Mauro gives a brief rundown of how important the NWA Title used to be. Sadly it isn't the case anymore. Rob has let his hair and beard grow out now, so he looks a lot like Hercules Hernandez here. Rob's career never really got off the ground as he was a big developmental stand out for the WWE, but then got shoe-horned into las resistance and spent more of the next few years having Jim  Ross explain that he wasn't a french guy, even though he was dressed like it and waived a french flag. Tenzan, on the other hand, has held just about every title there is in Japan, including being the winner of all three major single's tournaments in Japan. Bell rings as Tenzan is the crowd favorite. Conway attacks off the Tharpe distraction and unloads on Tenzan in the corner with chops and punches. Conway hits a clubbing clothesline. We get a small jump ahead as  Tenzan goes Strong Style on Conway and then lands the rolling thunder kick and hits a bunch of Mongolian chops and then a running axe bomber in the corner. Tenzan goes up and hits a knee to the back down to the mat. Only gets two, though. Tenzan comes off the ropes and gets a kick to the gut by Conway, Tenzan then reverses into a thunder bomb. He goes up and hits a diving headbutt before going for the anaconda vice! They are up to their feet only for Tenzan to hit the anaconda buster! Tharpe up on the apron just as Conway taps. Conway grabs the belt and nails Tenzan with it, but Tenzan kicks out of the pin! Back from break as Conway hits a spear for two. Conman hits a swinging neckbreaker but can't land the three count. Conway tries for the hanging neckbreaker on the ropes, but Tenzan reverses it and hits Conway's finisher on him! Tenzan slams Conway on the mat and goes up. Tharpe runs up, but Tenzan blasts him with three headbutts, splitting the lawyer open across the nose. He then hits a MOONSAULT and wins the title! Tenzan thanks the crowd for cheering him and asks for their continued support. Clipped and a quick one, but man Tenzan can still lay down the hurt. Backstage Rob bitches about he was cheated, not defeated. Tharpe gets in a threat in Japanese. We get some studio words from Yuji. He talks about being after revenge from the G1 and how Nakamura creates his own world of wrestling instead of being just about a belt. IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yugi Nagata: I am ready to be amazed. Nakamura has been featured on this show several times with his Freddie Mercury appearance and style while also being a devastating wrestler. Yuji Nagata on the other hand really only had a couple of matches in this show's run. Yuji is the wily veteran as he got started in the early 90's, including a run in WCW here in the States in 1997. Both men had brief MMA careers, but in losing efforts against some very big names. As Nagata makes his entrance, Mauro heaps weel deserved praise on both men, saying that Nakamura is Daniel Bryan's favorite. Josh Barnett mentions training with both men and facing Nagata for the IWGP title during his record ten defense run. Yuji has his friends with him as TenKoji and Nakanishi are supporting him. Josh mentions how both men have great amateur wrestling backgrounds, with the difference being Shinsuke was freestyle while Nagata was trained in Greco-roman wrestling and thus favors suplexes more. Bell rings and they square of going for the knuckle lock and grappling. Nagata has the advantage but Shin counters out. Yuji goes for the armbar early. Shin gets out and Yuji pops to his knees. Crowd is LOUD but split right down the middle. Shinsuke gets him down with a waistlock and Nagata goes for the armbar again. Shinsuke cartwheels out of it. They start trading kicks and Nakamura grabs hold and pushes back to the ropes and then goes for the belly rub and gets nailed with a knee and some stiff kicks for his troubles. He just never learns. Yuji gets the armlock again, but Nakamura gets his foot on the rope. Shinsuke rolls to the outside, but Yuji follows and starts kicking the crap kicked out of him. Nakamura grabs on and slams Yuji to the barrier lands a knee to the back. Shinsuke lands some kicks before rolling Yuji in the ring with his head exposed over the apron. Nakamura hits the running knee and climbs on the apron and hits another knee of Yuji's head. Both men up and starts trading elbows. Nagata hits Shinsuke's knees and gets a kick to the chest. We keep getting shots of the NJPW announcer at ringside. The story is is that this guy kept getting attacked by Iizuka and getting his shirt ripped off until Nagata came out and saved him, so the announcer calls Yuji his guardian angel and is pulling for him to win. Back in the ring, Shinsuke lands some hard kicks, but goes for the cocky pin, only getting a two count. Yuji gets to the corner where Nakamura gives him the good vibrations face wash. Shinsuke goes for the corner kick, but Yuji gets a well times knee in to send Nakamura down. Nagata lands some big time kicks in the corner. Nakamura gets up and they are exchanging STIFF elbows to the face!  Nagata lands the exploder suplex and gets a two. More forearms and Shinsuke gets the whip for the kick, but Nagata rolls through and hits a low dropkick. More elbows! Nagata's elbows are lightning quick by the way, faster than Nakamura's and like a shot. This guy's amazing, especially for 46 years old. Nakamura gets him in the corner and lands some kicks before landing a suplex and driving his knee into the back of Nagata's head. Shinsuke goes for the Booma Ye but Nagata gets off a sweet belly to belly suplex. Yuji hits the roundhouse kick and then slaps Nakamura in the face. Slap exchange now and Yuji floors Shinsuke with a smack. Nagata yells at Shinsuke and seems pissed at Shinsuke's weaker slaps. Yuji bleeding from the ear now, that's a scary thing to happen. Mauro speculates that Yuji's suffered a ruptured eardrum. We are back from commercial as Yuji hits a running clothesline. He sits Shinsuke on the top rope and goes for the superplex, but Nakamura counters with elbows and a headbutt but Yuji keeps holding on, finally falling down after the third headbutt. Yuji hits a high kick right to Nakamura to counter, though. He goes up and gets the over the head belly to belly from the top rope! Yuji gets him up and hits an enziguri, then goes for the Saito suplex. Shinsuke counters with a German suplex and then strikes with a knee right to the back! Nakamura hits the flapjack and gets all fired up. Yuji gets in a knee for his trouble and then set up with knees to the gut on the top rope. Shotgun knee and Shinsuke then hits the Booma Ye, but gets a crap cover and Yuji kicks out. Nagata gets the backdrop suplex as we see Yuji's wife and son. Nagata goes for the Saito suplex again. Shin counters but gets stuck in the cross armbreaker and Yuji's eyes roll back as he is going to rip Shinsuke's arm off. Shinsuke gets the rope, but Nagata kicks him right in the arm before hitting some kicks. Yuji tries the suplex again, but Nakamura gets a facelock to c counter. Yuji tries for a suplex as Shinsuke hits an enziguri and Yuji stands right up, he gets another one and Yuji stands up, Booma Ye hits and finishes off Nagata for the three count. Wow! We get a shot of the announcer and he is in tears. Nakamura grabs the mic. He gives praise to Nagata saying he reached a new level. Shinsuke gives respect to the crowd and a YEAH-OH! Backstage Yuji said he did not go easy, and that tonight Nakamura was the better man. The announcer arrives and Yuji looks at him and asks "Do you think that's it for me?" and, of course, the announcer says no. Yuji says he's just getting started and it is not over. He gets up and hugs the announcer telling him to stop crying. Tenzan and Nakanishi both congratulate Nagata for a hell of a match. Studio words as Yuji says he should have kept the match more grounded in the beginning He was surprised how much support he got from the fans of Sendai. After the match, he says his young son told him better luck next time, and that he was glad that his son was able to see how strong of a fighter his dad was. Nice way to end things for the week.   Like I mentioned before, this show had an old vs. young feel going for it and the older stars showed they still had it. Although the first two matches were cut for time, they were still enjoyable, if brief. Yuji showed just how dangerous he was and hats off to Mauro and Josh, especially for the main event with how much insight they had.  Well, that's is it for new episodes until January. I'm not going anywhere of course, and neither is Strong Style as we will have a whole new round of action from Japan for the new year. Until next time, Fight-o!     /ul/34577-strong-style-tis-the-end-of-the-season-/Match 3-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
We finish off the season with a fight!
Hello again everybody to this week's Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we take a trip back to Sendai for the "New Begining" show from February 14th, 2015. It's odd that we are endi...


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