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Ultraman Gaia photo
Ultraman Gaia

Rejoice: Ultraman Gaia unites with Crunchyroll


Tsuburaya is on an amazing roll
Feb 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Man. I need to cross my fingers more often now. Why's that? It turns out that Crunchyroll has added Ultraman Gaia to its streaming library. In other words, the Website is now becoming the perfect go-to place to watc...
Ultraman Nexus photo
Ultraman Nexus

Over Ray Storm: Ultraman Nexus finally lands on Crunchyroll


The Space Monsters are doomed
Feb 11
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Tsuburaya temporarily added Ultraman Nexus' first four episodes on YouTube, it felt that the show's debut on Crunchyroll was going to happen within that timeframe. While this never occurred, the series has finally ...

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!

RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away


An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

What's that? Kakuranger pre-orders have revealed their location


Insert cheesy sound effects
Feb 04
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I've learned in my life, it's that you never underestimate a ninja's ability to strike from the shadows. As I was rejoicing over Shout! Factory's plans to release Kakuranger this year, the group caug...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Zyuohger's full trailer shows off its blocky gimmicks


How to use a Rubik's Cube as a weapon
Feb 01
// Salvador GRodiles
Whenever I get to see Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger in action, my interest in the show starts to rise slowly. With Toei uploading a three-minute trailer of the program on their YouTube channel, they manage to hit us...

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!

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

Evil gets slashed: Kakuranger heads to North America


Kakuranger, Ninja Ninja!
Jan 24
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that Shout! Factory's Super Sentai releases are doing fine when they throw a big surprise announcement at our faces. During their special Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger streaming event on Saturday, Jan. 23, t...

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...

Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Watch indie toku studio Garage Hero train in the ways of wire action


Keep it up, GPTV!
Jan 17
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something awesome about seeing a production team honing their own techniques on their own time, Seeing their regimen gives people the chance to see the hard work they put into mastering their skills, and it work...

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...

Final Impressions: Ultraman X

Jan 12 // Salvador GRodiles
From day one, it was obvious that Ultraman X was going to go down a full circle, as the return of the villain that X knocked into Earth’s Sun ended up being a huge thing. Despite, the final villain Greeza resembling a random tokusatsu grunt character, the gang at Tsuburaya made sure to turn this guy into a menacing entity. From the moment it stepped foot on our planet, we were treated to a hopeless scenario where many defense facilities fell to this powerful entity. Like with many giant monster shows and movies, all we heard was a creepy screech that when an area was about to go bye bye. Throw in a major loss for the home team, and we’re taken back to the most of the franchise’s intense finales (such as the original Ultraman series). Going back to Daichi’s character, I was surprised by how much is defeat affected me during the show’s last moments. Yes, his character comes off as a bit of an avatar for the viewers to witness the situations around them, but his will to see his dreams come true shined through the image that his presence gave off. Despite my slight issues with how they didn't give Daichi’s personal dilemmas the spotlight too much, this didn’t stop me from being affected from his defeat. That being said, this shows that Tsuburaya added enough spices to make us feel this way. Going back to a thing I said in a previous post, the thing that made Daichi’s character great for me was his ideals and the way how he bonded with the entire cast. For a guy to gain the trust of a giant dinosaur monster deserves a huge freaking medal. Through his role as a scientist at Xio, we grew to love Gourman and Rui’s antics. In combat, we saw him bring out the best out of Asuna, Hayato, and Wataru. On top of all that, his pact with X helped the giant learn more about Earth customs and mannerism, which is something that a bland character could never achieve. While the series mostly centered on the random monster attacks caused by the Ultra Flares, the amount of screen time that each character was given gave us that wonderful sense of family and teamwork that XiO uses during each big crisis. The science division gave us Rui’s huge obsession with nonhuman lifeforms and the amazing timing behind Dr. Gourman’s random appearances, which made them one of the great representations of the show’s concept of being able to live alongside other creatures. With segments like Tachibana's dilemmas as a parent and Wataru having to accept that he might not get to date his childhood friend, the show’s brief character-focused episodes brought life to the cast, as we see them deal with other issues outside of protecting the city from danger. Everyone’s working towards the same goal and the contributions of each member play a role in saving the day— regardless of the size of their task. Aside from the gang’s teamwork skills and dilemmas, X’s segments where humans bonded with the franchise’s monsters were some of the most heartwarming segments of the series. The Houlinga and the Pigmon episodes were two moments where one can’t rely on stereotypes to judge the world around you. In this case, the common misconception was that almost all creatures want to obstruct everyone’s way of life. This also goes back to the franchise’s idea that most of the show’s giant monsters are like animals. You have your vicious territorial creatures and you have those who tend to be peaceful around others. In the end, I found these segments to be the ones that express the show’s coexistence theme the most. Despite Tsuburaya’s tendency to cut corners on certain segments (such as reusing older monsters from the franchise), Ultraman X’s new angle shined well through in through, as the potential shown from day one continued to go higher each week. The Mons Armors allowed for the crew to experiment with different action scenes and attacks, an element that helps many of the Heisei Kamen Rider shows in promoting their toys. This also allowed for X to use a variety of moves outside of the Ultra Warriors' usual beams and wrestling moves that they're known for. Since each form had a cool gimmick, I’m hoping that this could evolve into a new trend for future Ultra titles— as long the gang continues to show the same passion that went into X’s different transformations. With the few original designs that entered the show’s realm, the team didn’t hold back with these arcs. These segments mostly gave off a ridiculous finale type of feeling, as they ended up being played during the key points in the series. Overall, Gargorgan, the Gua Army’s updated look, and Greeza’s final form all had some neat designs that gave off that menacing feeling that many major adversaries from giant monster titles exhibit. Other than the powerful bad guys, Demaaga, Rudian, and Houlinga were some other great examples of some nice costume work that was put into the franchise’s new characters. as a guy who loves great-looking monster suits, the costume team deserves some praise for their work on the X-exclusive creatures. When I first decided to watch Ultraman X, I came for the fierce giant warrior on monster action. However, I ended up staying with a fun tale about a group of people who fight to protect the peace while doing their best to turn the world into a place where all types of life forms can live together. Sure, the story with Daichi’s parents was never resolved, but we can only hope that the show's upcoming film will give our hero the ending that he deserves. With Tsuburaya doing some interesting things with the series, let’s hope that this is a sign that they’ll keep this rainbow strong with their later installments. In the meantime, X got me more interested in the Ultra franchise, so I plan to dive further into it in the future. Thanks to its fun run, I guess you could say that it’s one of my favorite tokusatsu shows from last year. [You can unite with Ultraman X one last time at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Somewhere over the rainbow
This might just be me, but 2015 felt like an average year for tokusatsu. The usual stuff ranged from average to enjoyable, and only one of them was consistently fun. However, things weren’t too bad, as I discovered the ...

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...

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...

Strong Style: Ichi-barnburner!

Dec 05 // Soul Tsukino
Tonight's matches come to us from the February 14th, 2015 show at the Sendai Sunplaza Hall. We get no greeting and just jump right into things. Kota Ibushi/Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano/Kazushi Sakuraba Well, this is a nice bonus match. Not a whole lot of backstory here. Both Naito and Ibushi compete as heavyweights but are on the lighter side. Their opponents are a mish-mash team with MMA legend Sakuraba and the walking foreign object that is Yano. Sakuraba starts the match with Kota as Sakuraba tries some small stuff to start, but Kota lands a right. Really odd seeing Ibushi tries to mix it up with Sakuraba, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Kota tries some slaps but gets nothing. They get into the corner with a clean break. Kota tries some kicks, but they are blocked. Waistlock by Kota only gets an armlock from the submission expert. Crowd applauding the good grappling. Yano gets the tag and Naito comes in on the other side. Naito gets armlock, but Yano gets to the ropes. Yano gets a wristlock, but it instantly gets reversed and into the rope where Yano SCREAMS for the break. Naito lands an elbow and then a dropkick sending Yano down. He grabs a wristlock again and Yano screams that it hurts. Yano pulls Naito's hair to get him down and then chucks him out of the ring He grabs the ring pad off the nearest turnbuckle and a chair and goes to work on Naito with it. Ref, of course, sees nothing. Jumping ahead with Naito getting a neckbreaker on Yano as both guys tag in. Sakuraba avoids the missile dropkick and goes for kicks on Kota, Kota fights back with strikes and then hits the springboard kick. Round kick to the gut. Kota goes for something but gets caught in a triangle choke. Kota picks him up but Sakuraba gets in the armbar, but it is broken in the ropes. Kicks to the arm now has Kota in pain. Kota tries for something, is blocked, but Ibushi gets the suplex! Yano and Naito tag back in where Naito hits the exposed buckle. Naito, however, hits a dropkick and a senton. He climbs to the top for a missile dropkick, but Sakuraba breaks it up. Yano then tags in. Naito trades waistlocks with Yano, hits the enziguri and a slam before he heads up again but doesn't get there as Sakuraba stops him, but Ibushi sends him out. Yano catapults Naito into the exposed buckle. Yabo tries for the lock, but Naito gets out, nearly running into the ref, Yano gets the low blow, He goes for his finisher but Naito reverses and gets the pin! Kind of an odd match here. Not terrible, just very odd. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Meiyu vs. The Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows/Tonga) Jeez, Meiyu and Anderson and Gallows have wrestled each other a lot huh? I think this is the fourth time they've faced each other this season. At least this time around we have Tanahashi and Tonga to spice things up a bit. Meiyu comes out first, then Tanahashi.  Tanahashi has a bandage on his face from the nasty gash he got fighting A.J. Styles with stitches. The Bullet Club comes out with the KISS makeup from the above picture. The OCD in me wishes they had a fourth guy to be made up as Ace. Also, Tama Tonga's "Catman" makeup is weak. Gallows and Shibata start this off with Gallows going right after Shibata and pounding him. Shibata counters with some slick mat work and goes right for the figure four! Gallows rolls right into the ropes to break. Shibata tries it again but gets kicks for his trouble. Goto and Anderson tag in now as Karl gets the early advantage but misses a senton and Goto his the shoulder before Tanahashi tags in. Tama Tonga interferes from the apron as Anderson climbs up the buckle and bites Hiro right in the stitches! Quick jump as Hiroshi is in the corner and gets hit by everyone. The Club goes for the pin, but Goto breaks it up. Tama hits the Tonga twist but still can't get the pin. He goes for the charge, but Goto jumps in and hits the ushi-karoshi! All three work on Tama but all six men get in the ring. Shibata hits the running dropkick on all three men of the Club! Hiroshi hits the slingblade on Tama and hits the high fly flow and scores the pin! That was quick! With three matches, some things had to get cut, so I'm guessing some was taken out of this match for it. We get some studio words from Ishii for a change. He says that Honma means nothing to him. He wanted to beat Togi Makabe for the title and no one else so this match is meaningless to him. NEVER Openweight title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma The NEVER belt doesn't get the coverage on this show that the other titles do so we missed the belt changing hands this season. These two do have a bit of a history as both were members of Togi Makabe's Global Bash Heel group a few years back. When Toru Yano and Shinsuke Nakamura turned on Makabe to form CHAOS, Ishii followed right behind while Honma stayed loyal to Makabe, even to this day. Speaking of Togi Makabe, he was the champion coming into this show but as Mauro explains, he came down with a case of severe flu and New Japan stripped him of the belt. His buddy Honma stepped in to take his place in this match. Honma has the height advantage and the crowd solidly behind him. Lock-up to start and it's an aggressive one. Gets to the ropes with a clean break. They lock up again and back to the ropes where a shoving match erupts into an elbow to the face duel! Damn! Honma hits a shoulder block and then misses the kokashi headbutt... twice. Ishii hits some teasing kicks before hitting a chop. Ishii kicks him in the heads and rakes his boots over Honma's face! Honma back up hits some chops on Ishii, but gets a nasty chop right back! Honma is back in the corner and Ishii with chops and strikes. The announcers bring up Ishii trained by Genchiro Tenryu, who just recently retired from wrestling. Mauro tells of how Tenryu is the only man to hold pinfall victories over Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. Tenryu could have been a big star, but horrible timing and wanting to do his own thing got in the way of that.   Honma hits a shoulder and sends Ishii down, but he pops right up. Honma hits the bulldog and goes for the headbutt and misses again! Both men up and start a chopping duel! Holy crap they are just going back and forth the crowd is loving this! They chop back and forth for what seems like forever before Honma breaks down the Stone Pitbull. He then HITS THE HEADBUTT! An attack on Ishii as Honma goes for the suplex but can't get him up, Ishii can't get it either, Ishii finally gets the suplex off. Back from break with both guys down. Ishii up first as he whips Honma into the corner and then clotheslines the stuffing out of him! Honma being set up on the top and Ishii climbs to the second rope. Honma blocks the brainbuster attempt. He grabs Ishii and drops down, snapping his neck on the rope! Reminds me of Tetsuhiro Kuroda from the old FMW promotion. Honma hits the blockbuster and then a slam. He climbs up for the headbutt, but Ishii catches him. Honma gets the sunset flip, but Ishii grabs the turnbuckle. Honma gets the powerbomb lift, but Ishii counters out. Ishii aims a chop right in Honma's throat and then does it again and then gets a powerbomb. Pin attempt only gets two.  Ishii then locks in the double chicken wing on the canvas. Honma gets to the rope for the break out of the hold. Ishii sets Honma up on the buckle again and gets a delayed suplex down to the mat. Ishii tries for the pin, but only gets two as the crowd is roaring for Honma now. Clothesline by Ishii but Honma gets the DDT and STICKS Ishii into the mat like feet straight up in the air. Ishii's seemingly always injured shoulder is out now. Both hit double clotheslines, but Ishii hits a shot to the jaw and both guys clobber each other with clotheslines. Honma up first as Ishii is on the apron and nearly gets Honma up for a suplex to the floor, but Honma blocks and they exchange strikes. Honma hits a running clothesline on the back of Ishii's neck sending him right into the post and on the floor. OUCH! He then climbs the buckle to hit the kokashi to the outside and he HITS IT! "One of the dumbest moves I've ever seen" Josh Barnett proclaims. Seriously that was insane. Back from break as Honma is up first and gets Ishii in the ring. Clothesline blocked, gets hit with a forearm but Honma slams him with a clothesline that rattles Ishii's teeth. Honma only gets two for the pin. Honma goes for something, but it is blocked. Ishii hits the back suplex as both guys are hurting now. Honma up first and starts kicking Ishii in the head a few times before hitting some forearms but Ishii isn't going for it! He's mad now. Ishii clobbers Honma with a clothesline and then sets him up again to the top rope and hits the avalanche brainbuster, pin attempt only gets two. Holy crap is this amazing! Ishii hits the clothesline and then runs him over with another one.  Two count. Ishii goes for the suplex but counters, Honma hits an elbow and then hits a running forearm. Another suplex attempt blocked and Honma MUSCLES Ishii up and hits a brainbuster of his own but Honma still only gets two. Ishii nearly gets Honma up on the shoulder, but Honma hits a kick and then hits the running headbutt into Ishii's spine, then hits a DDT, but only gets two, That is a scary spot for both guys and a hell of a chiropractic adjustment! Honma goes for the top rope kokashi headbutt but misses! Neither guy is quick getting up Ishii hits a German suplex, but Honma pops right up. He hits him again and Honma kicks out at one! Honma hits a clothesline but only gets one! Elbows traded now as Ishii hits multiple strikes but Honma counters with palm strikes. Ishii hits a clothesline, but the pin attempt only gets two! Suplex attempt but Honma gets a headbutt. Ishii counters with one of his own as they trade headbutts. Ishii hits the low clothesline but doesn't get the pin. Ishii hits the headbutt and finally gets the win and the title! This match is the DEFINITION of strong style. The fighting spirit in this was so strong you'd need a temple priest to keep it from cursing your dojo. Backstage Honma growls as he is on the floor that he can't seem to win the big one. However, he will not give up and will keep fighting. Ishii, on the other hand, says that this match meant nothing (are you kidding me?!?) and that he is only holding a temporary belt until he can't fight Makabe for it. He tells Makabe to get better so they can fight. Studio words as Ishii says that he strives to make the NEVER belt awesome. Not only does Makabe fire him up, but everyone does, as they should be fired up when they fight him. Oh man. That main event was incredible. Especially from two guys you would not expect to pull off a match of the year candidate like that. Once again we have a case of a good opener, a forgettable middle match, and a hell of a main event. This episode was worth every bit of it on just that match alone! Next week it looks like we will be returning to Sendai for more wrestling action. I will see you then! /ul/34552-/match 1-noscale.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The NEVER Openweight belt headlines!
Here we are once again with Strong Style, Japanator's coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. After taking the holiday off while AXS covered college basketball, we are back with what is supposed to be the season finale...

Strong Style: Rematch for the big one!

Nov 21 // Soul Tsukino
We have a greeting from Tanahashi to get things under way. Ever muscle cell in his body is ready. We get some studio words from Tanahashi as he talks about how good Styles is and will answer his challenge as many times as Styles wants. It is a great rivalry and it was meant to be. IWGP Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles As I said before, Tanahashi is the champion here, having beaten Styles a few months prior. Tanahashi had gotten by Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, so it seems only natural for the rematch with the guy he beat for the title to be the next match for him. They the full entrance of both guys, as Styles comes out with the entire Bullet Club behind him. That's a sign of bad things to come I expect. Hiroshi comes out to a really impressive rock opera laser show as the air guitar is playing. As an aside, despite not being the top arena (that would be the Tokyo Dome) this arena in Osaka is a pretty impressive looking place in itself. We get the full introductions of both guys and they get loud responses. We come back from break as things get underway. Bell rings and both guys pose fro the crowd. Lock up gets into the corner and a clean break. They circle around with reversing waist locks before Tanahashi gets an armbar. Styles reverses and he starts jaw-jacking. Hiroshi goes for a counter and Styles drags himself out of the ring. Styles slowly gets in the ring and goes right for a headlock. He grinds on Hiroshi, but powers out into a struggle over an armlock before Hiroshi gets him down on the mat with an armbar. Styles gets up and goes for the hair, but Tanahashi whips him right back to the mat before driving the knees to Stylus's face. Styles tries dragging Hiroshi over, but Hiroshi rolls right through it right back to the arm. Styles whip Tanahashi into the ropes, gets off and impressive leap frog, and goes for a dropkick, but Tanahashi holds the rope and Styles hits the mat. Back from break as Hiroshi is hitting uppercuts before going for the straitjacket hold. Styles counters out and hits a kick to regain the advantage. He locks in a keylock before they go to the ropes. Hiroshi fights out, but Styles hits a dropkick to send Tanahashi out. Styles goes for the over the ropes splash but misses. Hiro hits a dropkick to Styles and then goes for the cannonball but misses that. The Bullet Club mobs on him and then kicks Capt. New Japan's ass for trying to break it up. Hiroshi is rolled into the ring like nothing happened. Styles comes in and hits a backbreaker on Hiro and then hits another one. Styles keeps things going by hitting a snap suplex and then power whips the champ into the corner. Tanahashi starts hitting some elbow shots but Styles whips Tanahashi into the corner and hits the flying forearm. Hiroshi avoids the hit but gets hit with a suplex for his trouble. Styles goes for the cover but only gets two. Styles then hooks in a surfboard as the story here is Styles going for the back. Hiroshi tries to power out, but Styles keeps holding on. Hiroshi breaks the hold and Styles goes for a forearm. Hiro blocks it and they trade punches before Hiro hits a back body drop to send Styles down to the mat. Out of commercial and Hiroshi has the advantage. He gets in a slam and goes to the top rope and gets in a somersault senton for a two count. Styles throws him over the top rope, but Tanahashi tries to skin the cat. The Bucks interfere, but he kicks them off and then drags Styles over the top rope with a head scissors. He then climbs the top and hits the high fly flow onto the entire Bullet Club! But uh-oh, They replay that to show Tanahashi legit conked heads with matt Jackson on the way down. Hiroshi is bleeding and the gash is not pretty. That's hardway and if both guys don't have a concussion from that, I'd be surprised. Both guys in the ring now as they hit a clothesline on each other. Styles is up first and hits a suplex into the corner buckle. Styles hits a flying forearm off the top rope and we See Matt Jackson isn't looking good either from that collision. He's got a nasty welt on his noggin. Styles goes for the bloody Sunday DDT, but Hiroshi reverses it into a trapped arm suplex for two. Tanahashi keeps the waist lock and hits another suplex! Styles grabs the ref and gets a low kick to the balls to send Hiroshi down. Yujiro Takahashi jumps up to distract the ref, but Tanahashi is the one to take advantage with a hit to Styles's yam bag as payback. Both guys get to their feet and exchange forearms back and forth and then  open palm strikes. Styles gets Tanahashi into the piledriver position, but Hiroshi counters into a sunset flip that is rolled through. Hiroshi then gets a surprise dragon screw leg whip to send Styles down. Back from the break as things are getting good now. Hiroshi gets up first and hits the slingblade! Holy crap that head wound is bad. He gets to the top rope and goes for the high fly flow, but Styles gets his knees up. Styles is exhausted now as he goes to the apron and tries to springboard in with a 450 splash, but Tanahashi gets the knees up. Hiroshi crawls out to the apron and climbs the ropes, but Styles hits the ropes sending Hiroshi down on the corner. Styles goes up and goes all the way up for the brainbuster, but Tanahashi fights out. Styles goes for the frankenstiener, but Hiroshi catches him! He tries for the styles clash, but Styles fight out of it. Styles hits the Pele kick that sets up into the Clash, but Hiro fights out of it. Styles just drops down on his head anyway in a ganzo bomb and then hits a bloody Sunday DDT! He gets the Styles clash and gets the win! Styles is the champion once again! We see Tanahashi being taken in the back, he is in bad shape. He seriously has to have a concussion after conking heads, let alone that cut. I commend him for keeping things going after that. Back from the break as the Club is in the ring celebrating. Karl Anderson gets on the mic and jaws with the crowd. He feels the need to go through and introduce every member of the Club individually. We get a shot of the lump on Matt Jackson's head. He can't be feeling good either with that one. I'm wondering if Karl isn't just stalling for time and the match cut a bit short from the concussion hit. Styles finally sounds off with the usual knock-off NWO stuff. Backstage the Club gloats about how cool they are and say nothing of note. Karl actually brakes kayfabe by wondering who was booking and getting color during the match.  In the studio, Hiro talks about trying to take all the Club by himself and failing. He mentions the hit to the head saying the blood got under his contact lenses and screwed up his sight (That must REALLY suck. He then says that while he is down for losing the belt, he feels he can win it back and that will lead him to the New Japan Cup. We end with some words from Mauro as we are done for this week. A great match and Mauro and Josh made a great presentation with it. This was a very enjoyable show and gave the main event match the time it deserved. I have to wonder about the actual booking as it sends the message of not wanting Styles, as a gaijin, to be in the main event of their biggest show of the year, but either way these guys once again had a great match! Since they moved some show around, I'm not entirly sure what will air next week, but I will be here to bring it to you no matter what it is! Saiyoooooonara! We get some words from Tanahashi as he talks about how good Styles is and will answer his challenge as many times as Styles wants. It is a great rivalry and it was meant to be.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Tanahashi and Styles go at it again
The magical express that is Strong style is back once again as Japanator looks at New Japan Pro wrestling on AXS TV. This week we return to the Bodymaker Collesium in Osaka for the main event of the New Beginnings show from F...

Strong Style: Rematch time!

Nov 17 // Soul Tsukino
We open with a greeting from Mr. Oh My and Garfunkel himself, Ryusuke Taguchi. IWGP Tag Titles: Meiyu (Goto/Shibata) vs. Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows): This is the third time we've seen this match on this show, so hopefully these two teams can make it good. Meiyu are the champions after defeating the Club at Wrestle Kingdom 9. The club is also being seconded by Scott Hall's son Cody Hall, who is just starting to get a name for himself. As the champs enter the ring, Shibata gets right in Anderson's face but just stares at him. Goto largely ignores The Club as he gets in the ring. We start the match with Goto and Anderson as there is an aggressive  lock up. Goto pushes Anderson to the rope and gives a clean break, but Anderson reverses things and puts Goto into the ropes. Goto pushes him off and lands some shoulder blocks as he gets the advantage before tagging in Shibata before Meiyu land a double shoulder block. Shibata tries to get in a strike, but Anderson pops right up and rakes Shibata's eyes before landing a strike of his own in the corner. He tags in Gallows who lands a kick in the corner and tries for another with Shibata nailing him. However when Shibata goes for a running strike Gallows kicks his head off!  Gallows picks Shibata up and whips him into the ropes, trying for the clothesline. Shibata ducks rebounds and lands a soccer kick right to Gallows's kneecap. He immediately goes for his no-frills figure four leg lock. Both men roll and counter before getting to the ropes and breaking the hold. Back on their feet as Shibata asks for the knuckle lock, but then kicks him right in the knee! Tag to Goto as Meiyu split Gallows legs. Gallows is back on his feet and regains control as he strikes Goto and sends him flying out of the ring. Anderson sneaks over and pulls Shibata off the apron and then sends him over the barrier and attacks him in the crowd. The Club get in the ring as Goto beats the count. However, he rolls right into the clutches of Gallows who brings him down to the canvas and starts drilling in elbows before getting a chinlock. Goto gets them up to their feet and gets out of it, but when he tries for a move off the ropes Anderson trips him, drags him out of the ring and then powerbombs him onto the ring apron! Anderson is now the legal man as Goto barely rolls into the ring at the count of 18. "The Machine Gun" starts stomping a mudhole on Goto and is just kicking and punching Goto to keep him down. Anderson goes for the cover 3 times in succession, but Goto just won't give up. Anderson tags in Gallows who tosses Goto right into the corner and starts clubbing away. He is well in control before he tries for a suplex. Goto blocks it as both men struggle to get the move before Goto takes the big man over, getting a reaction from the crowd. Both get their tags in as Anderson and Shibata get into the ring. Shibata gets the quick advantage with his forearm uppercuts, sending Anderson down to the corner where Shibata just wears his ass OUT with HARD forearm shots to the head before landing his sweet hanging dropkick in the corner. He pulls Anderson up and goes for the reverse choke when Gallows sneaks in and breaks up the hold leading to Anderson getting in a strike of his own on Shibata. He goes for something off the rope but Shibata ducks and tags in Goto. Goto goes to work on Anderson and sends him into the corner, nailing him with a sweet spin kick. He tries for an attack off the ropes, but Gallows kicks him from the apron. Anderson goes for a move, but Shibata catches him in a choke from the apron. Goto goes for the strike but nails Shibata instead and walks right into a spinebuster! We come back from break with The Club double teaming on Goto. Gallows picks Goto up and Anderson comes off with a gun stun from the top rope, but the cover only gets two. The Club go for the magic killer, but Shibata runs in to break it up. Goto and Gallows then get into a clothesline contest before Goto lands a running clothesline sending the big man down. He tags in Shibata who just starts wearing Gallows out in the corner with forearms. Anderson sticks his nose in but pays for it as Shibata starts giving him forearms. Goto gets back in the ring as Meiyu is working over the guys in opposite corners before switching and hitting their opponents with running kicks. Anderson goes out of the ring while Gallows gets drilled with a clothesline from Shibata. Shibata holds Gallows for Goto, but the big man gets a foot up and breaks Shibata's hold.  Anderson comes in and while Shibata gets nailed, Goto and Anderson have a quick exchange of trying to hit each others moves with Goto trying to land the ushi-karoshi on Anderson and Karl trying to nail the gun stun, with neither getting it. Gallows plows into Goto, but Shibata then comes in. Gallows hits a HIGH powerbomb that knocks Shibata loopy. Shibata gets up and is nailed with an Anderson gun stun to send him down. Goto comes in and he gets a gun stun for his trouble. The Club grabs Shibata and gets him up for the magic killer, but he kicks Anderson off and nails Gallows to get out of the move!  Shibata takes on both men with forearms but can only keep it up for so long before Gallows nails him. Anderson goes for the gun stun again, but Shibata counters out, only to get hit with it again. Shibata is out and the Bullet Club hits the magic Killer for the pinfall to become the new tag team champions for the second time! Backstage Gallows and Anderson say that they are the best heavyweight tag team in New Japan. Kinda hard to argue with them as they have been the top dogs for over a year at this point. We come back from break wth some words from Taguchi about this big rematch. He had asked for this rematch saying that he felt he shouldn't have lost that match. He feels Omega lacks professionalism still and he only added more tricks to win the title the month before.   IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ryuske Taguchi vs. Kenny Omega As we saw a few weeks back, Omega had turned his back on NJPW and joined the Bullet Club to secure a permanent place on the roster. At WK 9, he had the help of the Young Bucks and a whole lot of cheating to take the title off Taguchi. Taguchi enters the ring wearing his own t-shirt and a pair of heart-shaped glasses while Omega comes out with the Bucks in his corner again. Wonderful. Kenny sure takes his time taking off his gear, giving this really cartoony sneer the entire time. Aggressive lock-up to start as Omega goes right for the arm lock. He smacks Ryusuke a few times in the head just to be an ass. Ryusuke reverses it and they trade the armlocks back and forth before Omega gets a headlock. Back up to their feet Omega goes into the ropes and nearly gets a funky weapon to the face, but Kenny catches Ryusuke in a waist lock and hits an atomic drop. Kenny poses for a bit and lands a few feeble kicks, but Ryusuke jumps up and gets Omega running off the ropes and hits the funky weapon! Taguchi lands some ass strikes before sending Omega into the turnbuckle. Ryusuke tries for a move off the ropes, but Nick Jackson grabs the leg and gets the ref and Taguchi distracted. Omega does an AMAZING over the back fameasser to send Taguchi down as Matt Jackson hands Omega the Bullet Club flag. He then proceeds to stick the flag pole right up Taguchi's ass! The ref turns around and sees Omega with the flag, but Omega just shoves him down. Taguchi hits an enziguri kick that gets Kenny stumbling around. Ryusuke grabs the flag and then pokes the end up Kenny's ass. He then uses it to take a whack at both the Jackson's and when Omega turns around, he tries to grab the flag but ends up flying right through the ropes outside the ring. I can't believe I just wrote that. And no, I don't know the proper Japanese term for trying to shove a flagpole up someone's ass.  Anyway, Taguchi hits the funky weapon off the apron to Omega on the outside but decides to bring him back into the ring where he hits the fallen Omega twice with the butt before going for a third. Omega grabs Taguchi's tights but the ref kicks Omega's hand off. They start arguing meanwhile Ryusuke goes for something off the ropes but one of the Bucks low bridges the rope and Ryusuke ends up on the outside. Omega hits dive over the rope right onto Taguchi as Mauro and Josh talk about stains on these guy's tights after the flagpoling. Josh then goes into a spiel about how awesome Japanese toilets are as Mauro can't help but laugh. Omega is working over Taguchi's back on the outside by ramming him into the barricade and the ring apron. He rolls the challenger into the ring and goes for a crap cover and not surprisingly it didn't get the job done. Kenny sends Taguchi from corner to corner before hitting a flying back elbow sending Ryusuke down. He goes for the legit cover but doesn't get it either. He gets Ryusuke up in a suplex, but Ryusuke counters to only the halfway point before Omega dead lifts him BACK up and gets the suplex. Damn! Omega goes for the pin but doesn't get it and... oh here we go! He's pulling the starter, he's getting the motor running. Kenny gives Taguchi THE CHAINSAW. Rubbing that gnarly forearm bristles right into Taguchi's eyes. Omega goes for the atomic drop, but Taguchi is mad. Omega hits another drop and Taguchi is getting madder. Omega goes to the ropes but gets hit with another funky weapon right to the face. Ryusuke clothesline's Omega out of the ring and then nails the summersault placha over the top rope onto Omega. Taguchi hits a slingshot dropkick back into the ring, but a follow-up pin only gets two. Taguchi goes for the dodan slam, but Omega wiggles out, only to get planted with a DDT. Pin only gets two. Back from break as Taguchi goes for a suplex but Omega slips out the back and goes for the full nelson. Taguchi hits a back elbow and goes for the ropes, but Omega grabs his tights and sets him up for the one-winged-angel, but Taguchi slips out of that. Taguchi gets a hard chop to the chest for his trouble and Omega tries to set him up for something, but Ryusuke slips through into a victory roll that he floats into getting the ankle lock. Omega tries to counter but fails and ends up getting a german suplex for his trouble. Somehow Omega is able to recover and land a doctor bomb on Ryusuke and then hits a running knee to Taguchi. Hits sets up Taguchi in his shoulders for one-winged-angel, but Taguchi does a reverse frankenstiener that has Omega land right on the top of his head! Taguchi smells blood now. He grabs Omega in the double chicken wing to set up the dodan, but Omega tries to roll through in a victory roll. Taguchi stops him halfway through the move and just drops down, hitting the top of Omega's head right into the mat. Pinfall only gets two. He hits a running funky weapon. He gets Omega up in the torture rack position, but Omega escapes, leading to an exchange of punches. Taguchi gets run into the corner, but Omega misses the charge. Taguchi goes up the ropes, but Omega catches him and then hits the one-winged-angel! Kenny gets the pin and retains the title! The Bucks get in the ring now as they start in on Taguchi. The refs get thrown out and so do the young boys at ringside. The Bucks both climb the rope and Omega holds him over a chair as they hit the spike tombstone on the chair on Taguchi. Mascara Dorada and the Time Splitters come out to solve things as Omega and the luchador get into a staredown. Backstage Omega and the Bucks gloat about how good they are. Omega says he's beaten everyone and that he is all for fighting a luchador and Dorada. Ryusuke meanwhile is having to be helped back and says Oh my and Gabanna. Don't even want to know. We get studio words from Taguchi as he talks about not wanting to get hit with the one-winged-angel but that he got surprised with the last one. He likes being a former champion better since he doesn't have the expectations that a champion carries. He briefly mentions he might go for the heavyweight tag titles, but that none of the heavyweights on the roster want anything to do with him as we end the show. This was an enjoyable show. The tag match was good even if it dragged in a lot of places. The Jr. Heavyweight match was a lot of fun as well. Not the best episode of this show, but not terrible either. Before we wrap this up, I'd like to make mention of the passing of longtime wrestler Nick Bockwinkel. The veteran heel for the AWA during the 70's and 80's he held the AWA title and was the top dog for a majority of 30 years. While Ric Flair may have gotten the spotlight, the more intellectual Bockwinkel was every bit as good as Flair and really belong in the Hall of Fame, where his name is proudly displayed. He had a lot of great matches, even in his later years, including a 1-hour time limit draw with Curt Henning in 1987. That match was included on the Mr. Perfect DVD released a few years back by the WWE. I highly recommend looking up Nick's matches online as he was a real treat to watch if you like old style wrestling. Cheers to you, Nick. You were one of the greatest! /ul/34497-strong-style-rematch-time-/Match 2ish-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Return matches from WK 9
Welcome back to another edition of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. A bit late on this one since I was at the AniMaine convention last weekend, but here we are! Got thrown for another loop ...

Strong Style: The Big Match!

Nov 07 // Soul Tsukino
We start this episode off with a greeting from Tanahashi. We return from the opening credits with Tanahashi in the studio talking about Okada's return from the States (where TNA made him into a knockoff of Kato from Green Hornet) and how he had grown so much since he had left. He then talks about having to follow the unbelievable Ibushi/Nakamura match that we saw last week. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika "Rainmaker" Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi Tanahashi is the champion here after defeating A.J. Styles while Okada won the G1 Climax tournament to earn the title shot here at the biggest show of the year. These guys have met each other many MANY times before, so let's see if they can rise to the occasion on that biggest stage in the land of the rising sun. We go to ringside as Okada makes his entrance first. His entrance on this big stage is incredible. Tanahashi comes out playing air guitar of course. Mauro tells us Tanahashi has main evented this show 5 times in a row at this point and that these two have wrestled 7 times before this match. To say this is comparable to Orton vs. Cena is not that far off, both good and bad points taken. The bell rings and we get things started. The crowd is hot for this one. Tentative lock up to start leads to a go behind and basic stuff to start. They go down to the canvas with Tanahashi getting a headlock. Mauro and Josh talk about Tanahashi's height advantage and what Okada has to do to win. Tanahashi sent into the ropes and plays some tricks as he drops down next to Okada and gets the headlock on him. They speed things up a bit with some chain wrestling, but it ends in a stalemate. They grapple to the ropes and keep things clean until Okada fakes a clean break and hits a chop. Tanahashi doesn't take to kindly to that and comes out swinging with forearms. We got a slugfest early on. Hiroshi goes to the top rope and Okada NAILS him with an uppercut to send him to the floor. Things go outside as Hiroshi eats barricade and then gets a clothesline before he gets hit with a draping DDT on the floor. Okada breaks the count but goes right back out, dragging Hiro to the ramp. Each guy tries for the tombstone piledriver but end up clubbing on each other. Tanahashi backs up for a running charge but gets hit with Epic Rain! Back right to the ramp with a splat! Back from break as Okada picks Hiroshi up and drops an elbow on the champ's neck before rolling him into the ring. Okada hits a sliding shining wizard before going for the one-foot pin. Okada is taking his time now as he lands a few elbows. Okada misses a charge but recovers quickly, but then misses a senton and Hiro is back up! He lands a running forearm and hits a second rope senton, but only gets two. Okada gets the flapjack off of Hiroshi's rebound. He goes for the elbow in the corner and gets hit. Hiro goes for something but gets hooked into a 2/3s facelock that Okada calls Deep N Debt. Hiroshi gets to the rope to escape getting applause from the crowd. Okada to the apron and hits the over the top rope senton, but goes for a crap cover and doesn't even come close to a pinfall. Both men back up as Okada SCREAMS and Tanahashi as they exchange strikes and forearms. "HIT ME HARDER!" Okada screams. Tanahashi catches Okada's foot and drives and elbow right to the knee. Okada comes back and hits the power dropkick, sending the champ flying backwards. Okada picks Tanahashi up and goes for the heavy reign again, but Tanahashi counters into the slingblade clothesline! Okada somehow recovers and gets Hiro sitting on the top rope, but gets kicked in the head before he can hit the dropkick. Okada nails him and goes for the heavy rain again but Hiro counters and pushes him off. He goes for the high fly flow but misses. Okada goes for the serious pin but still only gets two. Okada heads up top and lands the Randy Savage elbow before going for the rainmaker pose. Okada goes for the rainmaker to finish it, but Hiroshi rolls through for a pin attempt. Tanahashi hits a leg whip on Okada sending them both down. Tanahashi goes for the legs now and after a whip lands a dropkick to Okada's knee. They end up outside where Hiro goes for the whip into the barricade, but Okada reverses it and sends Okada over the barrier outside. Tanahashi gets into the ring and goes up top?!? He hits the high fly flow from the top rope, over the barrier, and lands on Okada! Back from break as Hiroshi brings Okada back in the ring and tries for another high fly flow. Okada pops up and tries to go for the rainmaker, but Hiroshi hits the slingblade again. Tanahashi goes up again and hits the bodysplash, but Okada rolls through and gets Hiro in the tombstone position, but Tanahashi reverse it. He heads up and hits the flow off the top onto Okada's back. he then goes up and hits another one! He goes for the pin, but OKADA KICKS OUT! Hiroshi tries for the cloverleaf but can't get it. Tanahashi wanders around staring into the crowd for some reason now, but Okada pops up and hits a uppercut. Tanahashi hits the slingblade again. He then does the rainmaker pose and then goes for the rainmaker, but Okada reverses it and hits the rainmaker himself. he tries for the cover but doesn't get it. Okada is the first to stir, but soon both are trying to get up. Okada hits a forum first, but neither guy is able to do much. more Okada forearms. before Tanahashi hits some of his own. Okada scoops him up for the tombstone, but Hiroshi rolls through and gets a two count before striking the leg again. SLAP to the face now as Okada will not go down. Hiroshi goes for a punch, but Okada gets a roll through. Hiroshi traps him in a dragon suplex but only gets two, he hits another suplex and then another! Okada gets out and hits a dropkick to Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes for the roll up but Okada blocks, only to get a screw legwhip for his trouble. As the challenger is tangled in the ropes, Hiro lands a top rope splash on Okada. He then climbs up and hits the high fly flow and then goes for it again and GETS THE PIN!! Neither man can move after that match. Gedo comes in to check on his man as Hiro looks down on him. Okada rolls to the outside and after that many body splashes his insides must feel like Jello. Tanahashi celebrates and gets his belt strapped around him. We see Okada is in tears as he leaves the ring area with Gedo helping him. However, a bunch of people in the crowd are chanting his name. Tanahashi grabs the mic and tells him "IWGP is far from here." the same thing Okada told Hiroshi when he returned from the states. Backstage Okada is distraught saying if he can't liven up NJPW, who can make the money rain. Gedo gets in some forceful words saying his man is still awesome. Back in the ring, Tanahashi gives the crowd some final words before we see him on the stage playing air guitar. He tells the crowd the he loves them. In the studio, Hiroshi gives compliments to Okada saying he will overtake the older guys soon and that the fans were talking about Okada after the match as much as him. He says that he isn't evaluated as highly as he wants and that the Undertaker has many records in the WWE, and he wants to break more records. That certainly lived up to the title of main event. These guys know how to get a performance out of each other! The crowd was hot for the whole match and it was great to watch, even at this point. Great show all around as they really gave as much as they could in covering this important match. A lot of fun to watch! Next week things are going to be delayed a bit as I will be at the AniMaine convention next weekend. I will be hosting my Damn Write! writing panel Saturday afternoon and getting lots of good pictures and stuff to bring to you on Japanator. If you are in the area, check it out, and for those of you who aren't, I'll be reporting back here with all the details! So stay tuned as I will have lots of stuff to present not only here on Strong Style, but on Japanator as well! See you all then! We start with Tanahashi in the studio talking about Okada's return from the States (Where TNA made him into a knockoff of Kato from Green Hornet) and how he had grown so much since he had left. He then talks about having to follow the unbeleivable Ibushi/Nakamura match that we saw last week.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
WrestleKingdom Goeth
Greetings and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have the big match here as we take a last look at the WrestleKingdom 9 show from January 4th of this year. We end the five weeks of coverage from the Tokyo Dome with the main event getting the full hour it deserves. So let's get right into it.

Strong Style: 8-Man Mayhem

Oct 31 // Soul Tsukino
We open the show with a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura.   Suzuki Army (Takeshi Iizuka, Shelton X Benjamin, Killer Elite Squad) vs. Taru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji, Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste  The story here is that Yano and Iizuka were members of CHAOS together, but Iizuka turned on Yano and joined the Suzuki Army. Iizuka picked his fellow army members Benjamin, Smith and Archer (jumping back and forth with NOAH) and challenged Yano to find partners of his own. He also picked three NOAH guys in Marafuji and the team known as TDMK as his partners and here we are. We start things off with Iizuka coming through the crowd while the other three guys walk down the ramp normally. Taka Michinoku is in their corner. the NOAH logo appears on the massive video wall and Yano comes out first followed by TMDK (The Mighty Don't Kneel) followed by  Marafuji. Marufuji is the NOAH GHC champion and for some reason decked out in gear that looks like a mix of Hayabusa and a sentai trooper. The brawl starts before the bell with all eight guys brawling. We get down to Iizuka and Yano. Iizuka immediately goes for his Iron gantlet but misses. He then takes a rope out from his tights, but Yano grabs him right by the beard and sends him down. Yano removes one of the big pads on the far corner, but when he tries to send Iizuka into it, it is reversed and he hits it instead. Benjamin comes in now and takes over on Yano briefly before tagging in Archer. The KES worked together and deliver the old Hart foundation Hart Attack clothesline on Yano. We come back from commercial as Archer is in against Yano. Yano pulls the hair that just pisses off Archer. Lance makes the charge but goes flying into the exposed corner. Yano makes the tag and Haste comes in. He hits Archer with a dropkick, sending him over to tag Smith Jr. into the ring. Haste meets him by getting him up in a running powerslam (insult to injury as of course that was the finisher of Smith's father). TMDK Lifts Archer up for a double slam, but Smith breaks that up. Archer turns around and DRILLS Haste with a very high chokeslam. Archer tags Iizuka in as Haste tags Marufuji. Marafuji kicks the crap out of the bearded one several times over. He goes for a cover and doesn't get it. Marafuji gets set on top with Shelton LAUNCHING Marafuji with a suplex that sends him across the ring. Iizuka comes in and uses a rope on Marufuji, but Haste comes in with a kick. TMDK double team on Iizuka sending him into a knee uppercut from Marafuji and gets the pin! Well, that was quick! Backstage words from the Killer Elite Squad as they are FURIOUS. They destroy the table and scream and yell about TMDK and how they are the better team and will crush the Aussies next time they meet. TMDK counters by saying they are glad the KES is angry. TMDK is the dominant and better team and invite the Squad to come and get it. We get some studio words from Nakamura. He talks about how he expected New Japan would have a worthy competitor prepared for this show, but he got a Joker, we then cut to the footage of Nakamura standing in the ring ASKING for a Joker. They had wrestled a really good match before in 2013, but the rematch for the G1 is 2014 was canceled with Ibushi's injury. Nakamura is going in with big expectations for this match. IWGP Intercontinental Title: Kota Ibushi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura We saw the set up here a few weeks ago where Nakamura regained the IC Title and then challenged someone to fight for this show. Ibushi snuck out and suplexed him on the back of his head. Challenge accepted. We are starting this match fairly early tonight so this one isn't going to be a quick no-nothing match. Ibushi comes out looking ready and getting a good reaction from the fans. The champion comes out dressed as the King FROM GO LION! Crown, cape, the whole bit. Good on Josh Barnett for pointing this out. Voltron represent! A night like this was made for this guy, no doubt about it. We come back from break as we get started. Crowd is geared for this one. They circle slowly as Ibushi lands a low kick. Nakamura goes in low but gets caught in a face lock. Push against the ropes and Nakamura tries for the belly rub thing, Kota smacks him in the face for that. Not fooling around tonight. The trade some light knee strikes on each other but neither get anyway. Nakamura extends a hand and Ibushi shakes it, only to get a knee from Nakamura! He lands a few more strikes before going for a big knee strike, but Ibushi avoids it. Kota gets Nakamura down in the corner with a hit. Ibushi goes for the good vibrations kick! Shinsuke is pissed, leaps up, knees Kota and hits the move on Ibushi. Shinsuke hits more knees and strikes, eventually hitting a guillotine knee of the apron to the outside. Nakamura goes back in the ring, but Ibushi really struggles to get in the ring after that. Shinsuke catches him in a cravat headlock. Kota sends him into the ropes, but Nakamura hits a knee to take Kota down. Shinsuke doesn't get a 3 count but locks in a rear choke, before transitioning into a half crab on the arm. Kota reaches the rope to break the hold. Kota bows up and hits Nakamura with some hits to the chest where Shinsuke returns the favor. Kota goes down and Shin goes for a SWEET spin kick but misses. Kota slaps him and then slaps him again. Nakamura gets a suplex on Kota, but he lands on his feet and hits a hurrancanrana sending Nakamura outside the ring. Kota leaps off the top to hit a triangle asai moonsault! Awesome! Kota rolls Shin in the ring and hits a springboard dropkick. He hits a few strikes and finally a spin kick to send Shinsuke down. A standing moonsault only gets two. Into the corner now as Kota tries for something, but Nakamura counters it. Kota on the outside where Shinsuke tries to suplex in the ring but Kota lands a knee to the head to end that. Kota tries another springboard dropkick, but Shinsuke hits a superkick and flattens Kota dead on the mat. Back from a break with both guys down. Nakamura first up and hits a spin kick and front suplex before hitting the MMA knees to Kota's head. He goes for the Booma ye, but Kota ducks. They struggle up to the top rope and Kota hits the frankenstiener from the top rope! He doesn't get the count, though. Kota with the full nelson and hits the snapdragon suplex that looks brutal. A head kick and then a moonsault! He still only gets two. Kota tries for the piledriver, but Shinsuke counters it by grabbing the leg. He tries it again but rolls through it into a sunset flip. Only gets two, but Ibushi hits the kick right into Shinsuke's face. He hits the powerbomb but kicks out. Ibushi goes up to the top and misses the phoenix splash. Shin hits the booma ye to the back of the head. Nakamura gets up and lands some stomps on Ibushi's head. Shinsuke is PISSED! Ref backs Nakamura off and Ibushi just stands up. He smacks Nakamura with some HARD palm strikes before just hitting him with straight fists. IT IS ON! Ibushi gets hit with a knee strike so Nakamura goes for the armlock submission. Kota stands up and starts stomping Shinsuke in the head to get out of the hold. Kota hits the reverse powerslam and MOCKS Nakamura with his poses before hits the booma ye! Pin only gets too as he punches Nakamura in the head. Shinsuke hits some angry elbows and then a soccer kick to the head. He then drives the toe of his boot into Kota's mouth! Damn, there is a nasty move right now. They trade strikes before Shin tries for the booma ye off the ropes and Ibushi counters and hits a double stomp to the stomach! Ibushi up first and the crowd is going crazy for this. Nakamura goes to the apron, but Ibushi climbs to the second rope and deadlifts Nakamura up with a german suplex over the ropes! Holy Crap dude, you are a junior heavyweight. You aren't supposed to be able to do that! He gets Shinsuke up for a powerbomb, but Shin counters out of this and pounds the hell out of Kota before he hits the booma Ye. Kota SMILES AT HIM! DAMN! He hits a knee, but Nakamura lands another booma ya and finally pins him! Both guys are down as the crowd rightly gives them both a standing ovation. Nakamura gets to his knees and gets his belt. He checks on Kota and says something to him as they exchange a fist bump of respect. Shin grabs the mic and talks about how close he was to losing. He gives props to Ibushi and then a Yeaoh! before leaving. Post match words from Ibushi. He says he gave it his all but still lost. Despite that, he thinks the match showed that he had potential as a heavyweight (fairly safe to assume there) and that he wants to fight Nakamura again as well as other heavyweights down the road. Nakamura gives comments backstage saying that during the match, he felt overwhelmed. That is something that rarely happens and made Ibushi a special opponent for him. We get some studio words now from Nakamura who agrees with me that this was the perfect match that he has been trying to achieve in all his years of wrestling. It was a very tough battle and he reiterates that Ibushi was a special opponent. This was a lot of fun! The 8 man match was blindingly quick but still had a lot of action in it and Marufuji looked great in it. The main event, however, was every bit of the 5-star Match of the year candidate that it was being hyped as. No matter how you do it  (hopefully nice and legally) track down this match and watch it if you want a perfect Puroresu match of the modern age. Next week we have THE main event of Wrestlekingdom 9 when IWGP champion Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on challenger Kazuchika Okada that takes up the full hour.  See you next week! Naomichi Marufuji & Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
It's a gang fight tonight!
It's Strong Style time again kiddies as Japanator looks at NJPW on AXS TV. This week is week 4 of 5 looking at the WrestleKingdom 9 show from January of this year. We are back at the Tokyo Dome with two big matches tonight so let's get to the action!

Strong Style: Tokyo Dome Domination

Oct 24 // Soul Tsukino
We open with a greeting from Katsuyori Shibata this week. The Bullet Club (Jeff Jarrett, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale) vs. Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima So it's the dregs of the Bullet Club taking on two veterans and the lovable loser of NJPW. I don't think there is any specific feud between these teams, this was more an excuse to get the Bullet Club B-team on the card and give Jeff Jarrett his time since he had the rights for the English language broadcast of this event to help promote his Global Force Wrestling venture. Jarrett comes out first, of course, accompanied by his wife Karen (whom I hate even more than Jeff) and Canadian promoter Scott D'amore, followed by Fale and Yujiro. The opposing team comes out together. Once in the ring, Karen starts pushing Honma leading to all six men going at it in the ring. Fale and Takahashi are run together as TenKoji double suplex Fale. We boil down to Tenzan and Yujiro before Kojima comes in and machine gun chops Yujiro. Fale interferes sending Kojima down as Jarrett comes in legally. Fale comes back in and goes after everyone. Kojima gets whooped on as Yujiro comes into the ring and rakes Kojima's eyes. Kojima hits the Kojima cutter (stone cold stunner) and gets the tag into Honma who goes wild on Yujiro. Honma goes for a diving headbutt and misses.  Yujiro hits a suplex. Yujiro then tries for a move, but Honma blocks before landing a sweet flying headbutt. Karen distracts the ref so Jarrett gets his guitar but accidently hits Yujiro (wouldn't be a Jarrett match with smashing a guitar). TenKoji hits a few double team moves before Honma climbs the ropes for the Kokashi headbutt from the top rope and HITS IT! HONMA GETS THE PIN! Crowd goes wild! Mauro goes wild! "Charlie Brown finally kicked the football!"- Mauro Ranallo The match was quick paced and short. This wasn't about having a back and forth, this was more about getting Jarrett on the card, since he was sponsoring the English language version of this event in America, and also about having Honma getting the feel good moment as he actually hit his big move and won the match for his team. They did that very well so I'm not faulting them for it. UWF Rules: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba UWF Rules refers not to Bill Watts, but Universal World of Fighting, a "worked shoot" promotion in Japan in the 80's and early 90s that was like a worked MMA company. In this case, it just means there are no pins and that the match is won with a submission or a knockout. This match was supposed to be shown last week but was bumped for some reason. These are two old veterans of MMA and they do not like each other. Suzuki is here on loan from NOAH and the leader of the Suzuki Army. As has been said before, is a bit off kilter and a reputation of not being the nicest guy in the ring. Sakuraba is an MMA legend known as The Gracie Killer for his defeats of several members of the famed Brazilian Ju-jitsu family, and also known as a huge otaku, especially for EVA. These two have locked horns before, but now they are fighting one-on-one. Suzuki comes out wearing all white, even bleaching his oddly cut hair and even his eyebrows. He looks even more ominous now looking like this. As Sakuraba comes out Mauro rattles off his MMA credentials, including the four Gracie members he has defeated.  Sakuraba gets a waist lock before reversing. Suzuki gets him down on a brief mount, but Sakuraba gets out. The work to the mat then Sakuraba stands up and gets a kick on Suzuki's thigh and then goes for the scorpion deathlock, but ends up getting a heel hook instead. Suzuki crawls to the ropes and pulls out of the hold, getting under the bottom rope. Suzuki ends up on the apron as they trade strikes and kicks. Suzuki gets the armbar on the ropes, but it is broken up by the ref. Outside the ring now as they go up the ramp. They trade strikes and kicks on the ramp and Sakuraba goes for the kimura. The ref goes ballistic on Sakuraba before finally getting Sakuraba back in the ring. He stands there patiently waiting as Suzuki is in pain already. Back from a break now with Suzuki struggling to crawl back to the ring. His arm is injured now from the kimura. Suzuki gets to the floor before  Sakuraba says the hell with it and rolls Suzuki into the ring and starts striking and kicking the arm now. Suzuki is down and the ref starts counting. Suzuki stands up and then pops Sakuraba right in the face with a palm strike. OUCH! He gets Sakuraba down, but Sakuraba gets right back up. Suzuki goes strong style telling Sakuraba to hit him harder. Sakuraba then gets an armbar on Suzuki as Suzuki fights through it and gets to the rope. Sakuraba kicks and kicks onto Suzuki, but the crazy man won't give up. Suzuki just beats the count as his arm is useless. Suzuki toughens up and hits slaps on Sakuraba's face. These guys are screaming at each other as they trade strikes. Suzuki gets the sleeper choke, slams him with the hold still on. Sakuraba is fading. Sakuraba is OUT! Suzuki won the match with one arm! They look each other over and they shake hands. Respect for these two for each other for the beating.  Backstage Suzuki talks about waiting for this match for years and says that despite what the media and the fans had said about Sakuraba not doing much in Puro, he doesn't look down on Sakuraba one bit. A media member asks what Suzuki said to Sakuraba when they hugged, and Suzuki tells the guy if he wants to know, get in the ring and find out before calling the guy a loser. Studio words from Shibata talking about fighting Goto and then teaming with him. He then compliments Gallows and Anderson saying they are powerful guys. He then goes on to talk about wanting a belt and that the Tag League wasn't enough for him since it was just a record thing and that belts are what matters.   IWGP Tag Titles: Meiyu (Shibata/Goto) vs. The Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows) The build-up to this was shown a few weeks ago when Meiyu defeated the champs in the finals of the World League tag team tournament a few months before this show. Meiyu comes out to videos of them together and pictures of them together in high school to angelic style music. I will say Goto wears the coolest ring jackets that would go great with a convention cosplay. Shibata is all business. It's like the ass kicking Mythbusters of Puro. The Club has The Bullet Babe Amber Gallows and Tama Tonga with them. We start the match with Karl and Goto. Headlock to head scissors trade ends in a stalemate. Karl hits a few strikes, but Goto hits some of his own before getting kneed by Gallows. Karl gets to close to the corner as Shibata grabs him, but when Goto goes to strike he hits his own partner, sending Shibata to the floor. Gallows comes in and lands a superkick to Goto. Club double teams on Goto but doesn't get the pin. Karl hits the leg lariat on Goto, but Goto fights on out of a pin. He goes over and knocks Shibata off the apron again. Gallows comes in and chokes Goto on the ropes before Amber slaps him and Gallows clubs the crap out of Goto in the corner. We come back from break with Goto still getting beaten up. Goto gets Gallows with a kick before he gets Gallows down and tags in Shibata. Shibata gets Gallows down with a bunch of forearms. He goes for the running kick but is met with a clothesline. He hits a dropkick on Gallows and then goes for his octopus, but Karl comes in to break it up. Goto comes in and Meiyu scores stereo corner kicks on the Club. Shibata holds Gallows for a Goto kick, but Karl gets interference.  The Club double team on Shibata as they hit the decapitator on Shibata as Goto saves the pin. They get the reverse 3D on Shibata, but he kicks out. The Bullet Club go for the magic killer but Goto sends Gallows out. Goto blocks the Gun Stun twice from Karl Anderson as Goto hits the ushi-karoshi into the penalty kick from Shibata. Gallows comes in and ends that by steamrolling over both guys. Gallows goes up to the top rope but gets caught into a double Ushi-Karoshi. Meiyu double team Gallows with a kick into a sleeper, but it's broken up. Finally, Gallows goes down as Shibata hits the penalty kick and gets the pin! We have new tag champions! The one year reign of the champions is over! Meiyu strap the belts onto each other and celebrate in the ring Backstage the new champs talk about starting in a little wrestling club in high school and they are now the champions. Shibata talks about leaving NJPW but coming back feeling that a belt held power and that he was glad they won. In the studio, Shibata talks about having the fans cheering him on. He says his body just seemed to know what to do next in the ring leading to the victory.  He ends this week's show by saying he really likes the design of the tag belts. This was a very quick paced show, but these were also very quick-paced matches. The six-man tag match was more about the moment than the action, but it wasn't offensive. I happened to be really into the singles match, even when watching it the first time. It wasn't a marathon match by any means but with two guys in their 40's, it wasn't expected to be. The final tag match maybe was a little too short for its own good. I could have seen this going longer, but for what it was it wasn't terrible. It was a fun hour! Next week we will have the big 8-man tag team match as well as Kota Ibushi and Shinsuke Nakamura locking horns for the IWGP intercontinental title. See you then! The Bullet Club (Jeff Jarrett, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale) vs. Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Tag action from WrestleKingdom 9
Welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week at on show number three in our coverage of WrestleKingdom 9. So we are back at the big Tokyo Dome from January of this year. This ...

Strong Style: Ooooh, that's gotta hurt!

Oct 17 // Soul Tsukino
Things get even weirder as we don't get a greeting and start with a cold opening. I'm wondering if there has been some last minute editing to this week's show outside of what was shown in Japan on the World Pro Wrestling Returns shows that these episodes are taken from. Oh well. Tetsuya Naito vs. A.J. Styles These guys had some bitchin' matches during the G1 tournament so let's see what they can do here. Interesting as Styles comes out alone without the Bullet Club. Styles jumps Naito right as he gets in the ring and goes for the Styles Clash early, but Naito counters out of it. Naito gets sent  outside and Styles tries for the moonsault but Naito misses, but Styles lands on his feet. Naito gets a dropkick off the apron to send Styles down on the floor. Both men get back into the ring as Naito hits another dropkick. Styles goes into the corner but counters Naito and goes for the previously injured leg with a rack attack. Back from commercial with Styles hitting the shinbuster. Naito tries to fight back, but Styles kicks the knee again. Indian deathlock on the knee as Styles has slowed things down. Naito gets to the rope to break the hold Naito gets to his feet as they exchange elbows. Styles keeps going for the knee, but Naito gets the spinning DDT to turn things back his way. They exchange before Naito hits a hiptoss right into a dropkick on Styles and then hitting the senton. Naito hits a neckbreaker and then goes for the pin to get two. Styles gets set on the top rope, but Naito jumps up to block him. Styles hits a headbutt to knock him off, but both men go down before Styles hits a springboard forearm shot on Naito. Styles goes for the suplex, but both guys fight it before Styles gets him up but gets him in a neckbreaker! They fight over a german suplex with Styles getting it, he tries for another, but Naito gets the roll up. Naito gets a suplex for the bridge, but Styles kicks out. Styles and Naito exchange strikes before Styles hits another forearm. Naito goes to the top rope, but Styles hits his leg and sending Naito down. Styles tries for the suplex but Naito rolls through it. Styles gets in the calf killer submission! Naito fights and fights it! He struggles but finally gets to the rope to break the hold. Back again from break  as Naito is hurting now. Styles goes for the leg, but Naito fights him off. Naito hits a kick and then a side suplex. Styles hits the dragon suplex into a pin attempt, but Styles kicks out. Naito goes for an odd octopus hold, but Styles hits the Pele kick and then the bloody Sunday DDT. Styles for the Clash but Naito picks him up and dumps him over the rope to the floor. Styles just barely beats the count as now both guys are hurting. Naito hits a dropkick to the mouth and gets Styles on the top rope. NMaito steps up and tries for the hurrancanrana, but Styles BLOCKS. He gets the Stylesclash on Naito and gets the pin! Backstage, we get some words from Styles. He says he used Naito as a stepping stone to get another shot at the IWGP title. He mentions hurting Yoshi Tatsu with the Styles Clash. He states that The Bullet Club has no leaders and that he has to get his back iced cause he's a Warrior! We get some words from Makabe who SPOILS THE ENDING OF THE NEXT MATCH by talking while sitting next to the NEVER belt. He speaks about establishing the belt's identity. He talks about how similar he and Ishii are. NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii Ishii is the defending champion here. There is a history between these two as back in 2009 Makabe lead a group called Global Bash Heel which Ishii was a member. However most of the members of the group started turning on Makabe starting with Toru Yano and Shinsuke Nakamura to form team CHAOS, Ishii soon did the same. The Stone Pitbull taking on the Unchained Gorilla. I expect these guys will throw a lot of punches and clotheslines. Call it a hunch. Josh mentions Togi was the one to teach him how to curse in Japanese. Always a good skill to have.  We come back from break and they run right into clotheslines as it's a stalemate. Punches and then shoulder blocks before Ishii hits a powerslam, only for Makabe to hit one of his own. Mexican stand-off now before they go back and forth with punches and hits. Punch to the throat sends Makabe down (damn dude). Headbutt on Makabe puts down again. Makabe then stands up GLARING at Ishii and they are back at the punches going back and forth. Makabe gets the corner mount and punches down on Ishii's head. Clubbing Vader punches now as they are whaling on each other.  Makabe hits a suplex that gets Ishii down. Makabe hits some punches before Ishii screams at him. Ishii hits some punches and then a clothesline to send Makabe down! Makabe sent to the top with Ishii picking him up and hitting the delayed superplex! Ishii hits a powerbomb for a two count. Ishii tries for a clothesline, but Makabe hits one of his own before hitting a powerbomb! These guys just do not quit! Togi goes for a german suplex, Ishii blocks it, but Togi gets it anyway! Ishi hits the corner and Togi hits a clothesline before setting him up on the rope for the spider suplex, but Ishii blocks it. Makabe gets knocked over with his leg caught in the ropes but lifts himself back up and hits a Death valley bomb from the top rope! Count only gets two. Both stagger up as Togi hits a clothesline and then a kick before BLASTING Ishii with a clothesline that literally knocks the slobber from his mouth!  Ishii struggles to get up and lands a german suplex of his own, but Togi rolls through it, only to get clobbered with a clothesline. Another two count as they start hammering in each other with clotheslines. Togi hits a Mongolian chop to the head, but Ishii rams a headbutt to send Togi down. Ishii hits a low dropkick but only gets two. Enziguri on Togi sends him down for a two count. Togi hits with clothesline and another before he gets a dragon suplex on Ishii for a two count. Damn!  Forearms from their knees as they get up and yell each other to hit them HARDER! Headbutts knock both men stupid before Togi hits the Polish power double axhandle hit and then a clothesline to send Ishii down before Togi tries a cover. Makabe goes up and hits the King kong kneedrop and not so surprisingly (from the clip earlier) wins the title! Togi rolls over and hits a few more punches on Ishii, but he just collapses from the battle. Say what you want about pro wrestling, but those guys have to be sore as hell from a match like that. Ishii stumbles as he tries to leave the ring and has to be helped back to his feet.  Backstage, Makabe gives us some words saying that the NEVER matches are different from the other titles and he is tough. When asked what kind of champion he would be, he replies that his words would never change and that he will show us what real wrestling is. He rambles on and on for a bit, finishing every sentence with an exhausted grunt, making for a weird interview. He mentions that Rikki Choshu trained both of them, but he is the better man. He also says that Ishii will probably be back since he is the type to not lay down since the belt was taken from him. Studio words now as Makabe talks about going after the Intercontinental belt. He talks about his flower blooming earlier than Ishii's did as a wrestler even though they debuted in the same year. He states that Ishii's time will come soon though for his flower to bloom. We finish with some closing words from Mauro and Josh as we head out for the week. Well, this show was a bit off. I still wonder if something was changed last minute with the switching of matches and there not being the usual greeting at the beginning. However, this show was still enjoyable. Styles and Naito had a good match that wasn't what you'd expect from the two, but it had a great telling of Styles working on Naito's leg the whole match. The Makabe/Ishii fight was a slugfest and was nothing less than what you would expect from two stand up sluggers to give you. Good stuff! Next week we have a couple of tag matches, and maybe the match with Suzuki and Sakuraba. we will have to tune in to find out! Interesting as Styles comes out alone without the Bullet Club. Styles jumps Naito right as he gets in the ring and goes for the Styles Clash early, but Naito counters out of it. Naito gets sent  outside and Styles tries for the moonsault but Naito misses, but Styles lands on his feet. Naito gets a dropkick off the apron to send Styles down on the floor. Both men get back into the ring as Naito hits another dropkick. Styles goes into the corner but counters Naito and goes for the previously injured leg with a rack attack.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
More action from WrestleKingdom 9
Welcome back to Strong Style's coverage of NJPW on AXS TV. This week we go back to the Tokyo Dome for more matches from WrestleKingdom 9 from January of 2015.This week things seems to have been switched up on me, We were supp...

Strong Style: WrestleKingdom 9 in HERE!

Oct 10 // Soul Tsukino
This week we are greeted by Kenny Omega. Did not expect that. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles: The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) vs. The Time Splitters (Kushida/Alex Shelley) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov/Rocky Romero) vs. ReDRagon (Kyle O'Reily/Bobby Fish)  This is gong to be a tough one to cover!  ReDRagon are the champs going into this one, along with being the ROH tag champions. We get a look at the setup for the arena and it is incredible with a MASSIVE three level entrance ramp with a video wall and a very long ramp to the ring. As the teams come to the ring Mauro talks about the history of the Jr. tag titles and the people who have held the belts. We start the match off with Kushida and Bobby Fish. Wristlock to get this going into a leg takedown into a headlock by Kushida.  Chain wrestling leads to both men throwing dropkicks that miss, only for Kushida to hits a second one.  Kyle O'Reilly and Alex Shelley come in before the Bucks come in and get sent out by the Time Splitters. The Splitters work on Fish before Fish sends a knee to Kushida. Kozlov tags himself in  and gets a head scissors before he does his cossack kicks on Fish. Fish fights back sending Kozlov down as Kyle and Rocky come in for a brief exchange, but it goes back to Kozlov and Fish. Josh reminds us this is a one fall match so people will be breaking up pin attempts to save the match for their team. The Bucks come in and work over Shelley before going after Kozlov. Nick sets up Kozlov for Matt to hit the running apron kick, but the Russian moves out of the way and Matt takes out his own brother. Kozlov then takes out Nick in the ring with a really cool spinning kick and then tags in Rocky. Rocky takes out both Bucks after they try to double team and then sets up both Bucks and ReDRagon in all the corners before going ballistic with clotheslines on all of them, missing Fish and getting hit by the Bucks. The Bucks try to work on Romero, but Kushida gets the blind tag in the ring.  Kushida gets in a DDT and ends up sending everyone outside. One of the Bucks gets caught in the ring with the Splitters, but ReDRagon come in and takes out both Splitters. This is wild! Things spill outside the ring as Romero dives over the rope with a tope`, only for Kozlov to hit the over the top rope dive. Nick Jackson does a dive as well as bodies are piling up on the floor with Kushida going to the top rope and diving on everyone at ringside. Back from a commercial break as it's Shelley on Matt Jackson. Kushida gets the moonsault into a pin but only gets two. The Splitters get a double kick combo in the corner and go for another move, but the Hooligans break it up. The Bucks come out firing with SUPERKICK PARTY! Rocky hits a double doomsday device on both the Bucks, but somehow the Bucks are able to recover enough to pop back up with more superkicks before hitting the Meltzer driver. Kushida comes in to face off with ReDRagon, but the Bucks come in as well and hits the double superkick on the Time Splitter. The Bucks then go for their finisher, More Bang for your Buck, but that gets interrupted by Fish and O'Reilly. They hit a swift kick and then a kneedrop on Kushida sending him out. One of the Bucks comes in but ends up getting hit with a Super Falcon Arrow of the top rope by Bobby Fish. Kozlov comes in and is met with ReDRagon's finisher, the Chasing the Dragon suplex/kick combo and ReDRagon pick up the win and retain the titles! Holy crap was that match good. It was a match that was really fast paced and always had something going on. My description doesn't do it justice and is a great way to kick off this show! Backstage ReDRagon talk about how they are the number one Jr. team after winning that match.  We come back from break with words from Omega. He talks about wanting to be part of NJPW, but only getting to be in the Super juniors tournament each year, so he joined the Bullet Club to be part of the show. He talks about Taguchi being funny and goofing around, but he is serious. He mentions how they were the less popular members of different tag teams, but that is in the past and tonight it's about them and the title. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. "The Cleaner" Kenny Omega Omega made his return to NJPW a few months before this match, revealing not only had he joined the Bullet Club, but undergoing a makeover as well. Gone were his days as the goofy blond Canadian, now stood a bad all clad in black. Taguchi, of course, accepted the challenge with a hearty "Oh my and Garfunkel" and here we are. Omega comes out with the Bucks and a SWEET duster jacket. Taguchi comes out as Mauro relates the Funky Weapon of Taguchi to the butt-butt of Iceman Parsons from WCCW. Nice callback there. "Let's break Eddie Guerrero's neck huh"- Matt Jackson, ever so gracefully taking about Taguchi's intentional resemblance to Latino Heat.   The two men lock up as Omega uses his size advantage to get Taguchi to the ropes, where he mocks the champ with a light slap. They lock up again with Omega getting pushed to the ropes, where Taguchi mocks him and then getting spit on the face for his trouble. They turn it into high gear with both men hitting the ropes and diving out of moves before Omega gets met with the Funky Weapon right to the face! Omega gets sent to the corner but escapes with a sweet cartwheel. He tries for a move, but Taguchi catches him in an anklelock, leading to Omega to get to the outside. The Bucks jump up to distract the ref as Omega grabs a can of something and sprays it in Taguchi's face, damn near coating him. We get a close up of the can and Josh says it's basically spray liniment. Think about getting sprayed on with Icey Hot. That makes my skin crawl thinking about what happens when that stuff goes in the wrong place. With Taguchi not being able to see, Omega gets him in the corner where he lands a back elbow. He tries for a pin, but it only gets two. Taguchi lands some soft punches but with an eye rake and a front kick, Omega puts him down. Kenny tries for a suplex, but Taguchi blocks it. Kenny, however, muscles Taguchi's dead weight up and lands a suplex anyway. Then comes one of the coolest things I've ever seen. The Chainsaw Face attack. As it was explained to me, one of Kenny's rituals was to leg the hair on his forearms grow out for a big match, then like a day before the fight he would shave them, leaving stubble. Kenny makes the motion of pulling the cord before he takes Taguchi's face and RAKES his forearm with it. Taguchi gets up to his feet and gets Omega down, hitting a charging kick. He goes to the ropes, but the Jacksons trip him and hold him to the ropes. Omega comes in for the hit, but Ryusuke dives out of the way and all three men end up on the floor. Taguchi then dives over the ropes and hits the plancha on the Bullet Club. With Omega rolling back in the ring, Taguchi hits a springboard dropkick but count only gets 2. Taguchi hits the 3 amigos suplexes, but Omega blocks the third with a bunch of slaps to the back. Omega hits a low dropkick on Ryusuke's leg and then a famasser for a two count. Back from the break as Omega gets the nelson into a waist lock. Omega sends him down and gets the some kicks before picking him up for a buckle bomb, only to have it turned into a rana sending Omega into the corner. Omega rolls back towards the center of the ring as Taguchi climbs the ropes. omega meets him and tries for a superplex, only to get shoved off the ropes. Kenny tries it again, only to get pushed off again. Taguchi then launches into a dropkick but Omega DROPKICKS HIM OUT OF THE SKY.  Kenny gets up and hits the Dr. bomb, but only gets two for the pin attempt. Kenny tries another move, but Taguchi counters into the Dodan but can't hit it as Omega rolls through for another pin attempt for two. Taguchi then hits the Dodan proper and goes for the anklelock. Here Josh Barnett gets some game cred for breaking out the Konami code, saying that Omega has to find the cheat code to win at this point. The Jackson's jump onto the apron again and Omega gets sent into them again. Taguchi hits another Dodan but again only gets two! Taguchi tries for the torture rack, but Omega fights out. Taguchi goes for the Funky Weapon only to get caught in a dragon suplex, Taguchi staggers up and gets picked up in the air where he is brought down on his back and neck in the One Winged Angel bomb. Omega covers and gets the pinfall! We have a new champion! Backstage Omega says he is HERE. He calls Taguchi a CHUMPion. He pays tribute to the founder of the Bullet Club, Prince Devitt (NXT's Finn Baylor), saying he was the greatest Jr. heavyweight of all time. But that he is part of the New Bullet Club and that he will be the greatest of all time. Taguchi gives an Oh My and Garfunkel and says he will take things more seriously and that he wants his rematch, Saying for now only he'll seriously fool around. Studio words from Omega talking about how he knows Taguchi will be back and better, but he will still beat him. He's here to clean out all the sucky wrestlers like the Japanese guys, the young boys, and especially the NWA guys, who really suck. His words, not mine.  This was a fun show! I'll say that my words here probably don't do it justice because I had a hard time keeping up with either of these matches. While the first match wasn't about "telling a story" (I.E. WWE's way of doing things) it was hard on the action with little moment's rest. The singles match was a good match as well with some really impressive stuff. Great way to kick off our coverage here! Next week we have Ishii vs. Makabe for the NEVER openweight title and the grudge match with Minoru Suzuki vs. Sakuraba in a show that will make everyone feel sore! /ul/34355-/Match 1-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The biggest NJPW show of the year!
Welcome to Strong style, our coverage of NJPW on AXS TV. This week is a big one as we kick off FIVE weeks over coverage of the WrestleKingdom 9 show from the Tokyo Dome. WrestleKingdom is New Japan's big show, their WrestleMa...

Strong Style: Eight-Man Scramble!

Oct 03 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hirooki Goto as we start this week's show. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Kota Ibushi, La Sombra vs. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura. Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada) This is a big time preview of the WrestleKingdom show as three of the big matches are previewed here, and for some reason YOSHI and CMLL star La Sombra are included as well. All 3 singles champions in one match. We skip the ring introductions and open with all eight men in the ring. Okada and Tanahashi start off quick as Okada goes for the rainmaker nearly from the start. Ibushi comes in and so does Nakamura. They trade some standing kicks  but ends in a stalemate. They go for a lock up that leads into the Nakamura armbar that Ibushi reveres. Nakamura gets him to the ropes but skips the belly rub thing. He gets Ibushi into the corner, but Kota escapes the knee, Tanahashi's team come in for a 4 man drop kick! La Sombra gets a plancha in as we skip ahead to Makabe and Ishii smash mouthing each other with elbows. These guys are strong style no doubt about it! Makabe hits a clothesline and gets Ishii down. Makabe gets the headbutt, but Ishii lands a clothesline. Ishii goes for the superplex and hits it. Pin only gets two. Both men stagger up and get into a clothesline duel that sends them both down to the mat. Back from break now as Tanahashi comes in and fights Okada as they go back at it. Forearms and elbows fly as Okada gets a leg whip, but Tanahashi gets a flapjack. After a back and forth in the corner, Okada gets the neck driver on the knee and then goes for the tombstone, but Tanahashi reverses it. Okada hits a dropkick, but Tana hits the Slingblade.  YOSHI comes in and goes to work and gets a blockbuster. CHAOS gets Tanahashi alone as they land a bunch of moves on the corner before YOSHI gets the diving blockbuster. Things are breaking down with fights outside the ring with Tanahashi and YOSHI still in the ring. YOSHI lands an axe-bomber clothesline, but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin. Yoshi gets the bridging powerbomb, but Tanahashi kicks out AGAIN. Everyone comes in and starts beating each other. Ibushi flies out of the ring onto Nakamura, and Sombra does the same on the other side of the ring. We are back to YOSHI and Tanahashi in the ring as Tanahashi hits the Slingblade and then the High-Fly-Flow to get the pin for his team The bell rings as Okada and Tana stare down while refs are trying to separate Makabe and Ishii. Nice way to set up the big show in one match. Lots of action! Some words from Goto talking about struggling as a team with Shibata right when the World Tag League tournament began because they needed to win.  They knew how good Anderson and Gallows were and figured they would meet them in the tournament final. World Tag league Tournament Final: Meiyu (Hirooki Goto/Katsuyori Shibata) vs. The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows/Karl Anderson) This is the finals of the World Tag League Tournament. It's pretty much like the G1 Climax tournament, only for teams. 16 teams were split into 2 blocks in a round robin tournament for points. Gallows and Anderson are the defending tournament champions and had won Block A, while Meiyu had won Block B. The IWGP tag titles are on the line, but if Meiyu wins, they not only win the tournament but get the title shot at WrestleKingdom. The Bullet Club comes out with just about the entire group. That doesn't bode well. Meiyu comes out ready to go and Shibata looks like he's gonna kill a bitch as usual. Mauro runs down how each team got to this match, basically saying that Gallows and Anderson snuck into the finals in a really convoluted way. We come back from break as the match begins. Anderson starts with Goto, former partners here as they won the tournament in 2012. Lock up and puts them into the ropes with a clean break. Headlock by Goto leads to a head scissors that repeats itself 3 times, ending in a stalemate. Mauro takes a moment to mention recent NJPW returnee Yoshi Tatsu, who after the first match in the tournament pulled out because of injury. I turned out he had broken two bones in his neck in a previous match after taking a Styles Clash from A.J. Styles. Exchange again has Meiyu double teaming on Anderson as Shibata takes over. Karl rakes the eyes and hits elbows on Shibata, but Shibata don't care before leveling Anderson.  Wristlock by Shibata as Gallows come in and hammers fists into Shibata. Shibata hits some low kicks and gets the figure four on the big man. Doc reverses it, but he rolls it back over. Doc gets to the rope and breaks it as Shibata drags the big man over as Meiyu double team him. Gallows hits a clothesline on both Meiyu members to send them outside into the clutches of the rest of the Bullet Club. Karl sneaks out and blasts Goto with a powerbomb on the ring apron. Nearly getting counted out, Shibata runs over and helps Goto back in the ring. Goto fights up to the apron but Gallows throws him into the barricade outside. Goto climbs in at a count of 16 with Gallows going in for the kill. He lands a bunch of elbows onto the weakened Goto, but can't get the pin. Doc torques him into the corner with a whip before Karl comes in and lays down a bunch of knees, but the pin attempt don't get it. Back from break as Karl is just messing with Goto now, giving him some light kicks to the head. Goto gets up and lands some elbows, but when he hits the ropes he is tripped from the outside. Karl hits a legdrop from the apron. The ref Red Shoes nearly throws out the Club, but doesn't, serving some of the hate he gets from Mauro and Josh.  Seeing his partner in trouble outside the ring, Shibata runs over and starts swinging on the entire Bullet club to get Goto and get him in the ring. Shibata climbs up to the apron where he is hit by Gallows. Doc turns around and starts hammering on Goto before dropping a leg on him.  Karl comes in with a chinlock, but Goto fights out of it. Karl hits a leg strike but the pin only gets two. The crowd is chanting for Goto as he has been the guy getting the ass beating for a while now.  Karl goes for a suplex, but Goto blocks it and reveres it. He gets the tag! Shibata and Anderson get in a back and forth, but Shibata gets him down in the corner and hits with a sweet  hanging dropkick. Shibata gets a suplex but only gets 2 with it. Shibata struggles but gets Anderson in that nasty Surfboard/Octopus combo he uses. Gallows comes in and saves his partner, only to get sent out by Shibata.  Anderson hits a kick and then a strike. Both Club members attack but Shibata fights out and hits a sweet dropkick on Doc. Goto tags in and takes Doc down, but gets hit from Karl. All four men in now and its a fight! Goto and Doc meet with clotheslines and finally sends Gallows down. Goto lands some elbows, but Doc sends him down with a kick. Karl tags in and again he toys with Goto, as he hits a forearm on Goto.  and then another. He goes for the charge but runs right into a choke from Shibata, leading the Meiyu to collide on the ropes when Anderson ducks an attack. Goto gets hit with the Gun Stun. Doc hits the splash. Doc and Karl hurt Goto with work in the corner. Pin gets broken up by Shibata. Anderson hits the Gun Stun but Goto kicks out! Club his the decapitation, but Goto just won't quit!  Shibata comes in and breaks things up, but he gets double teamed for his trouble. Karl goes for the Stun Gun, but counters and they go back and forth before Goto hits the Ushi-karoshi. Shibata gets Karl before Goto hits a clothesline and a choke before Shibata hits the PK on Karl and Goto hits the Shoten Kai and gets the pin! Damn that was a hell of a match! The Club bitch in the back, cussing away, saying the didn't need to win tonight since they won the tournament last year. they are the champs and that is more important, but when it comes time to face Meiyu again they will come back with more firepower. Back in the ring Meiyu celebrate with a big-ass cheque and some nice winner's trophies. Shibata gets the mic saying this was his first big achievement in wrestling. He says it's time to wear a belt. Goto says the time is right and their next target is a belt. We have some words from Meiyu in the back wth Shibata saying he believes in his partner. Goto says they haven't changed since high school and that he can rely on his partner. Studio words from Hirooki Goto as he says he is happy to achieve something with his partner Shibata and that it is natural for them to work together. he says they are not going to rest and are gunning for the belts. This was like the NJPW equivalent of the go-home RAW before Wrestlemania. It served the purpose of giving a taste of what was to come with WrestleKingdom. The two matches were both really good, even if the 8 man was cut down for time. The broadcast team did well in giving the background, especially in the Tag tournament match whereas we never saw any of the other matches. Good show! Now with that out of the way we start FIVE weeks of coverage of the matches from WrestleKingdom 9. Here is the lineup: IWGP Jr. Tag Titles: ReDRagon vs. Forever Hooligans vs. Young Bucks vs. Time Splitters IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kenny Omega Never Openweight Title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe Grudge match: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba IWGP Tag Titles: Anderson/Gallows vs. Meiyu A.J. Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito TenKoji, Tomoaki Honma vs. Bad Luck Fale, Jeff Jarrett, Yuji Takahashi Toru Yano and 3 mystery Partners vs. Takashi Iizuka, Killer Elite Squad, Shelton Benjamin IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi IWGP Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada   See you all next week! /ul/34332-/match 1-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Last stop before WrestleKingdom 9!
It's Friday night and it's time for a fight. Welcome back to Strong Style as we take a look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are taking a look at a couple of matches from the December 7th, 2014 show from Nag...

Review: Attack on Titan Part II: End of the World

Sep 29 // Josh Tolentino
[Spoiler Warning: This review will discuss some plot points from Attack on Titan: Part I, including the ending. Some of these points will be well-known to anyone familiar with the manga or anime, though.] Attack on Titan: End of the WorldDirected By: Shinji HiguchiProduced By: TOHO PicturesPremiere Date: September 19, 2015 (Japan), September 23, 2015 (Philippines), September 30, 2015 (US), October 20, 2015 (Canada)Licensed By FUNimation (NA) Attack on Titan: Part I ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, with the cast now dumbfounded at having discovered that Eren (Haruma Miura) can turn into a Titan himself. End of the World picks up at this point, choosing the opening quarter of the movie to deliver all the exposition and world-building missing from Part I in big, heaping helpings. The truth of the world's history, as well as the nature of the Titans, is revealed in a series of lengthy monologues worthy of a Metal Gear Solid 2 cutscene. Building out a setting as complex as Attack on Titan's isn't an easy task even under ideal circumstances, but the lengthy interlude serves to both ground the movie and act as an albatross around its neck.  For what it's worth, those stretches do include stylistic flourishes that produce some of the film's most interesting visuals, including effective use of Skeeter Davis' "The End of the World", and some great bits of real-world footage edited to have Titans in them. Director Shinji Higuchi's decision to ground the film in the real world's future, in an actual place, starts to make sense at this point. All the more unfortunate, then, that the plot these interludes serve devolves into a traditional, anime-like "teens versus ideologues" setup. It does take stabs at cautioning against both the static control of fascists and the chaos of revolution, but all in all, it's a downer compared to the more primal, gory thrills of the first half. Not to mention that End of the World frequently flashes back footage of Part I, making it all the more evident that there wasn't enough material to fill even a 90-minute movie. I wonder if the whole thing wouldn't be better off edited into single two-hour production, rather than being staggered out in this manner*. If nothing else I wouldn't have had to buy a ticket for it twice. End of the World even fails to adequately capitalize on its own strengths in visuals. Whereas the scenes of creepy-faced Titans eating people and making it rain blood and limbs in Part I gave off a visceral, classic-horror thrill, End of the World is more of a straight action movie, with even the Titans behaving more like pro wrestlers or MMA fighters than the mindless monsters of the last release. This is justified by the plot (and the source), but the shift is definitely less exciting and novel, not to mention that the original Titans barely make an appearance here. Hopes for the cast getting further character growth are also dashed. While the cast manages to shine more thanks to being separated from Eren early on, not much happens to give either the new characters more than one dimension or the older ones like Armin (Kanata Hongo) time to grow into the ones fans know and love. It seems as if Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara)'s victimization at the hands of the film's writers is permanent. Hans (Satomi Ishihara) once again steals every scene she's in by sheer force of personality, but unfortunately there are fewer of those, so even that bright light is diminished. Early in this review I noted that elementally speaking Attack on Titan: End of the World is more of the film the fans demanded, initially. In light of seeing the end product, though, that notion is shown to be as hollow as it is. Given the revelations in End of the World about the true nature of all the things, it feels fitting to end this piece with a quote from The Matrix, as delivered by an Attack on Titan fan who actually enjoyed Part I: "Not like this." [This review is based on a general screening of the film viewed by the reviewer.] *It's worth noting that FUNimation's release of the films in North America will allow viewers to see both Part I and End of the World in quick succession. Whether or not being able to view both movies as a single release (of sorts) will improve the experience remains to be seen.
Attack on Titan 2 Review photo
Why do the birds go on singing?
Broken down, point by point, Attack on Titan: End of the World is far closer to what Attack on Titan fans claimed to want from a live-action adaptation of their beloved manga. It delves deeper into the mysteries beh...

Strong Style: Kickin' it in Osaka

Sep 26 // Soul Tsukino
We open the show with a quick greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura. Never Openweight Title: Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii Ishii is the champion here and sporting tape on his shoulder.  Shoulder blocks start early and no one backs down. Here we go with the elbows back and forth and the crowd is LOVING IT. Goto finally gets Ishii down before a slam. Each man blocks clothesline attempts as they are smacking each other but damn no one is going down. Goto lands a kick to the guts before hitting a clothesline sending Ishii down, but he pops back up and lands a couple of clotheslines before both go down. Josh says it's like watching two kaiju fighting. I agree. These guys are throwing clotheslines like they were trying to chop down a tree! Ishii goes for a headbutt but Goto counters. Ishii lands the ushi-karoshi, which is Goto's specialty. We skip ahead and elbows are flying again! Goto lands a blow to send Ishii down again as Ishii is bleeding from the mouth. Ishii lands a head kick, but Goto recovers quickly as they kill each other with more clotheslines. These guys are stiffing the hell out of each other and just will not go down! Goto goes for the reverse ushi-karoshi, then hits the normal version with a knee to the back of the head. Clothesline sends Ishii down, but he kicks out! Goto goes for the suplex, but Ishii gets the counter and then a headbutt and a clothesline on Goto. Both men down again. Ishii hits a low clothesline, but Goto kicks out. Ishii hits the brainbuster and gets the pin! Holy crap that was intense. THAT is strong style wrestling right there. Tough guy Togi Makabe comes in the ring to check on Goto. Ishii makes it a point to stand over Goto and get right in Makabe's face. Backstage Makabe is a not happy about the disrespect and lays out a challenge for the belt. In his own backstage comments, Ishii says "Let's do it."   Kazuchika Okada/YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kota Ibushi CHAOS vs. Team New Japan in a preview of what will take place at WrestleKingdom. Taking a cue from American wrestling, they two the two main eventers of the big show and gave them partners for a tag match to wet the appetite a bit. Have a bad feeling Kota's gonna take the pin on this one, let's see if I'm right. Each guy gets their own separate entrance here. They bring out the two lower card guys out first and then the two headliners. Interesting. Okada and Tanahashi face off and both want to start and they do, making to crowd gasp. Josh mentions how hot the Osaka crowds are as compared to other areas. Good observation as Japanese crowds are known to be reserved, but not here! Think of a Philly wrestling crowd but with less swearing. Basic start with Okada getting the headlock in. Okada gets the early lead sending Tanahashi down. A miss with a big charge we get an exchange with Funk forearms, but Tanahashi gets a leg whip. We jump again as Ibushi is in now. He goes for a moonsault on Okada but gets to feel Okada's knees for his trouble. Okada gets the flying elbow in and the Rainmaker pose! Tanahashi comes in and gets a tombstone!  Jumping ahead as YOSHI is working over Ibushi as he gets a couple of neckbreakers on Kota. Skipping ahead again as both Okada and YOSHI double teaming Tanahashi with a catapult clothesline. Things break down as Ibushi comes in and gets a hurricanrana and a two count. He kicks Yoshi and hits a sit out powerbomb, but Yoshi kicks out. Ibushi hits the flying twisting press and scores the win!  Well, that shut me up. These kinds of matches usually don't end that way. It was a good match for what was shown but clipped to crap like this mid show tag matches usually do. Some words from Nakamura looking back at the challenge he made to Shibata after the tag match we saw three weeks ago on this show. He mentions that while Shibata makes a desirable opponent, Shinsuke says that Shibata is a different person now since he buried the hatchet with Tanahashi and is seemingly on team NJPW now, and doesn't have to prove himself in every match anymore like an outsider.   Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata Talk about night and day huh? It's like Freddie Mercury fighting Dan Severn in terms of personality and presentation. But, looks aside both guys can hang and we've seen these two face each other before. I'm hoping for good things in this one. Josh and Mauro point out that Nakamura has the better MMA record and although he is different and strange, he can still kick butt. Both basically ignore the introductions and just GLARE at each other. Back from break as we get started. Exchange of kicks doesn't go anywhere to start.  Some grappling on the mat into an MMA guard position. Both guys going for heel locks sends them both to the ropes. Shibata goes for the stomp and Nakamura dodges out of the ring. Back inside and into another knucklelock. Shinsuke gets an armbar and sends it down on the mat. Shinsuke works the arm before going into a surfboard. Shibata rolls out of it and gets a cobra twist lock, but Nakamura gets into the rope. Into an exchange of swift kicks leads to a stalemate. Nakamura goes for that goofy belly face rub thing and Mauro gives him hell for it. Shibata does the smart thing and locks in a guillotine choke. That'll teach him. Nakamura gets kicked sending him outside with Shibata following him out. Nakamura gets sent over the barricade right into the broadcast desk. Back in, Shibata locks in a figure-four leglock. Shinsuke tries to counter but fails, but he gets to the rope to break. Shibata slides out of the hold and gets a standing heel hook and kicks Shin in the head while he does it. Dude is badass. Both guys exchange elbows with Shibata getting the advantage. Shibata goes for a running kick, but Nakamura gets the knee! Shinsuke gets his good vibrations kick, but Shibata catches the foot and stands right up. Shibata goes for something but gets hung up on the top turnbuckle, leading to Nakamura landing a kick. Pin attempt only gets two. Shinsuke tries for a suplex, but Shibata gets some elbows in. Both men go down. Back up each man goes for a sleeper before Shinsuke sinks it in. Shibata reverses it and transfers into an octopus hold and bends Shin's arms backward so much they actually touch! Ouch! That has to hurt no matter who you are. They get into the ropes and Shinsuke is in pain. Shibata works him over in the corner with strikes. At this point, Mauro wonders if a "certain MMA promoter" (Dana White) thinks this is fake. Ooooh, burn. Both men get hits in as they are down. Back from break. as Shibata gets a suplex. Nakamura is down and Shibata goes for the penalty kick, missing and Nakamura lands his own kick. They struggle to their knees and exchange strikes. Jeez. Nakamura gets a powerslam, but Shibata pops right back up to land a german suplex.  Shibata gets in a sleeper hold. Shinsuke gets in a knee to the gut and  tries for the Booma ya, but gets dropkick in the mouth for that idea. Exchange of kicks and Shibata ends that with a SLAP and a kick. Shinsuke gets out of a fireman's carry into an elbow, but Shibata hits the GTS. Shin kicks out of the pin attempt. Shibata goes for the penalty kick, but Shinsuke catches him. He lands the Booma ya, and then another to the back of the head to get the pin! In the ring, Shinsuke talks about going to the Tokyo Dome for Wrestlekingdom and is all out of cards to play with. He says that he is looking for a joker to play. Behind him, Kota Ibushi scampers out, slides into the ring, and nails Nakamura with a german suplex! Nakamura gives out his Yeaoh yell and gets up smiling. He likes what he sees and accepts the challenge. Guess we know why Ibushi got the pin in the tag match now. Backstage Nakamura says that the rivalry with Shibata is over. He is looking forward to Wrestlekingdom and wanted someone crazy for the big show and Ibushi is perfect. We finish with some studio words from Nakamura. He talks about how Shibata was not the same wrestler he faced over a decade before, but after wrestling him a few times since he had returned, he was used to Shibata's moves. He then talks about the challenge from Ibushi and how he is a good opponent that got his blood flowing. That was a fun show if you like guys just beating the bloody hell out of each other. The opener was one of those matches where you just cringe at how hard these guys were hitting each other while the main event was a great match in a technical MMA style. The tag match really suffered from its editing as it just seemed to lose control and go everywhere. But it's not like the middle match on this show getting the hack job is anything new. Lots of fun to watch! Next week is the last stop before Wrestlekingdom 9. We will see a big 8-man tag match that will probably make my hands explode trying to cover. See you next week! /ul/34306-/match 1-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
These guys will be sore in the morning!
Konnichiwa to this week's strong style! This week NJPW on AXS TV once again takes us back to the Bodymaker Coliseum in Osaka for our second week. We have two big title matches on tap sandwiched around a tag team match. This s...

Strong Style: High Speed Special

Sep 19 // Soul Tsukino
We start off on the right foot when Jushin "thunder" Liger is ere to greet us! IWGP Jr. Tag Titles: ReDRagon vs Time Splitters RedDRagon (Kyle O'Reily and Bobby Fish) are here as part of the New Japan/Ring of Honor talent agreement. They are the reigning ROH Tag champs at this point. And as an interesting point, as I am watching this, they are in the top two matches for a big Ring of Honor show, against the same person. The Time Splitters are the defending champions here. Kushida and Kyle start off with some good chain wrestling. Kushida goes for an armlock Shoulderblock and boot to the face sends Kushida down and Kyle hit with a forearm. Double team and Alex Shelly in now. Double team clears both men out of the  ring. Kushida goes for the outside dive but is hit in the back by Fish. Kyle accidently nails his own partner  but Fish gets an arm breaker over the rope. This match is going about twice as fast as I can type it. ReDRagon gets the advantage and Kyle keeps trying to hit a top rope dive, but Kushida keeps rolling out of the way. Both ReDRagon goes for the dive but hit the canvas for their trouble. Back from our first break as Shelly clotheslines both opponents before tagging in Kushida who takes over on both men. He goes for a dive but is tripped. Shelly sent into the barricade, followed by Fish with a kick and then Kushida hits a dive on everyone. We skip ahead as Kushida hits a Pele kick before getting hit with a brainbuster into an armbar from O'Reily. Shelley hits a double stomp to break it up. Skip ahead as Kyle nearly gets a pin but it's broken up. Shelly NAILS Kyle with a kick to the head. Fish comes  in and both men work over Kushida before Fish hits a falcon arrow from the top rope. They hit the Chase the Dragon and win the titles! The Young Bucks and the Forever Hooligans come out for reasons  and we get a shoving match with all the teams as Fish is cussing up a storm (not edited by the way)! Even though it had its cuts, this was still a fun match to watch. Both teams were game and it made for a quick and fast paced one. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Taichi This match stems from when Taichi was part of the Suzuki army guys who attacked Ryusuke after he won the belt and then Taichi attacked the champ again after Ryusuke beat El Desperado in a match shown a few weeks ago. Taichi, Desperado, and Taka come out trying to look like they are playing music.. or something. Desperado is faking playing a guitar while Taichi pretends t sing into a Freddy Mercury mic with the stand attached. Clean shake of hands and crowd is surprised. Taka and Desperado both want to shake as well and Taichi hits Ryusuke from behind sending him outside. They smack his injured ankle against the barricade. Skip ahead as Ryusuke gets a funky weapon butt bump attacks. Flying butt attack nearly gets two. Taguchi hits a dive over the top to the outside. Skipping ahead again as Desperado hits him with a table! Table is set up, but Ryuske nearly gives a Dodan through the table, but Taichi counters and piledrives him through the table!  And this is one of those infamous Japanese tables that are hard as stone as well. We skip ahead and Ryusuke has the anklelock on Taichi and gets shot off by the multicolored haired one, there goes the ref. Desperado and Taka both come in and get knocked right back out. Taichi nearly gets a pin after a low blow. Back from another break as Taichi sends the ref down again and he gets his mic stand but Taguchi hits and enziguri and a Dodan to nearly get a 3 count. Taichi goes for his own Dodan, but Ryusuke rolls through it and gets a suplex in. Taguchi gets a rack bomb but goes for another Dodan. It hits and Taguchi gets the win! The Bullet Club comes out with a mysterious masked man in the middle. I know where this is going. Karl Anderson speaks and unveils the newest member of the Bullet Club. It's KENNY OMEGA! Taguchi's former tag partner! The Cleaner is born! Omega lays down the challenge and says he wants money and the belt Taguchi answers with Oh My and Garfunkel. Yup. Them's fightin' words. It's main event time as we get some words from Liger. He puts over the NWA of the past, They show Owens and his goofy manager, Bruce Tharpe challenging Liger and Liger responding that he wants to win a belt one more time. Liger talks about winding down his career and being in the final chapter of Liger.   NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title: Chase Owens vs. Jushin Liger Not going to lie, but this match sounds more impressive to Japanese fans than it does for the American ones. The NWA name still has some prestige in Japan, while in the US its now viewed as kind of a joke with a bunch of indy guys trying to sound more impressive when they only draw a couple of hundred people at some high school gym. I'm not familiar with Chase Owens, or his "manager" NWA president Bruce Tharpe, but I certainly know who Liger is! Jushin Liger goes with his old school red and white colored suit for the match tonight. Owens immediately gives off an "indy wrestler" vibe as his looks exactly like A.J. Styles, circa 2002. Tharpe looks even worse as he is wearing one of those shiny Rod Roddy style coats. He talks like one of those guys you see at an indy show who act like someone trying to be a wrestling manager instead of actually being one. Remember what I said about the NWA kind of being a joke? THIS is the guy running the NWA nowadays. Crowd is chanting for Liger, Liger gets the takedown and right into a surfboard into a chin lock before letting go. Liger with an Indian death lock and then goes into a wristlock. Owens gets a leg lock, but Liger goes for an armlock but Chase gets to the rope. Shoulderblock sends Liger down. Liger  gets a hip toss and then sends Owens to the floor before hitting the Senton from the apron. Chase begs off and then hits the knee leading to the dropkick. Back from break as Owens poses. Liger into the buckles hard. Knees drove right into Liger's face! Owens go for the lionsault but misses. Double clothesline sends both men down. Liger misses the clothesline but gets the palm strike and hits the top rope frankenstiener. Liger goes up for the splash and lands on the knees. Owens lifts Liger up for a fireman's carry into the double knee gut buster. Liger gets hit with a forearm and Ligers DEMANDS Chase hit him, and he does! Liger hits the kapo kick, but Owens reverses into a suplex. Owens hits a slingshot backbreaker and tries for the package piledriver, but Liger gets out of it. Liger hits the Thesz press before Liger hits the brainbuster and a second one and gets the win! Liger speaks and tells the crowd to keep cheering for him in his last chapter. Backstage Liger says he will defend the belt against anyone and that he won't leave Wrestling until he is satisfied. He says he is 80 percent satisfied and that he still has more to go. Studio words as he talks about no being able to keep up with the new generation of Jr.s like the Splitters, but that he can still go nearly the age of 50. That was fun. Sure the cuts made the first two matches suffer a bit, but 3 good fast-paced contests none the less. I wasn't really sold on Chase Owens, but his match with Liger was a good one as he did keep up with Liger. Although getting up there in years, Jushin liger is still able to put on a show! See you next week! /ul/34283-/NJPW header-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Throwdown at the Colosseum
Hello again and welcome back to Strong Style. This week on New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV we go to Osaka and the Bodymaker Colosseum for the first of two shows from November 8th, 2014. Tonight we have three matches from the junior heavyweight division, so things are going to be quick and high energy tonight!

Strong Style: THE Main Event

Sep 12 // Soul Tsukino
We kick off with Tanahashi greeting us before we get to the big fight! We get some words with Tanahashi before we begin talking about he needed to stop respecting Styles and go for the belt that he has held 6 times before. IWGP Title: A.J. Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi Fight Time! Tanahashi is getting this shot after beating Styles in the G1 in the 3rd place match. Oh, gods, Styles is coming to the ring with Jeff Jarrett. Jeez, what will happen here with that? Jeff wouldn't just sit back and not try to get any attention for himself would he? Referee Red Shoes holds up the title as they have the ring announcements. Both guys get good responses from the crowd. Red Shoes nearly tosses Jarrett out, but he stays at ringside. WHY? Back from break as we start the match. Lock up as Mauro reminds us this is the first sell out of the Sumo Hall since 2009 that didn't involve the G1 Climax. They trade back and forth wrist locks before Hiroshi gets Styles down on the mat for a headlock. They get back up and to the ropes for a clean break. Styles on the headlock now as they are starting basic for the big match. Tanahashi gets the headlock now. Styles gets a wristlock, countered into an arm drag. Tanahashi hits the crossbody and goes back to the headlock. Make your own Randy Orton jokes at this point if you want. Knucklelock leads right to Tanahashi landing a knee and getting a wristlock now, going into an armbar. They go into the ropes with Tanahashi putting his head through the ropes and Styles just yanks him and clotheslines him with the rope. That's a neat spot, never seen it before. Now with the advantage Styles starts putting the boots to Tanahashi as we go to commercial. Styles hits a backbreaker, but Tanahashi fights back. They end up outside as Style goes into the barricade. Styles vaults off the barricade but Hiroshi CATCHES him and suplexes him right onto the floor. They get back in the ring, but Styles bails right back out and slams Hiroshi into the apron and then the guard rail. Styles hits the dropping knee and then goes for the rear chin lock. Josh is gold here ripping into Jeff Jarrett, Capt. New Japan (who is also at ringside) and the Young Bucks. Both men up as Tanahashi goes for the ropes only to get met with a high Styles dropkick. Styles gets Tanahashi in the corner for some shoulder blocks, but Tanahashi gets in a few kicks. Styles hits the jumping clothesline into the corner. Back from break with Styles on the advantage. Styles goes for another splash but misses, Tanahashi gets in a double axhandle and then a flying forearm to get the advantage back. He hits a few forearms and then hits the senton off the second rope. Styles gets in a chop to the throat and then a kick right to the back of the head. Styles goes to the top, but Hiroshi pushes him off to the floor! Tanahashi hits the High fly Flow off the top to the floor! Both men get back in the ring as Hiroshi goes up, but Styles hits his leg and crotches him. Styles goes for the Clash but doesn't get it, only to land a snap suplex right into the buckle! Hiroshi gets up only to get hit with a flying clothesline but only gets a two count off of it. Styles goes for the clash again, but Tanahashi gets the Jumbo roll through suplex (named after Jumbo Tsuruta). Tanahashi misses the running clothesline and Style goes bonkers with chops and strikes, only for Hiroshi to get a back suplex! We are back from another break. Tanahashi hits the Sling Blade! He goes for the second but Styles hits the german suplex, rolls through with it, and hits a facebuster. He tries for the pin, but Hiroshi kicks out. Styles gets a face lock, but Tanahashi slides into a dragon suplex. Hiroshi goes up and hits the high fly flow TWICE, but Jarrett pulls the ref out! For the love of... Tanahashi gets up and goes for Jarrett, and Styles hits the Pele kick and the Bloody Sunday DDT, ref is thrown back in the ring but only counts two. Styles goes for the clash, but Tanahashi hits and palm strike. Styles tosses him right into the ref and Jarrett gets in the ring again with his guitar. YOSHI TATSU (?!?) shows up and takes out Jarrett and chases him out of the ring and to the back. Well, that's a hell of a way to come back to Japan! Both men trade forearms now Tanahashi gets a momentary advantage, but Styles kicks him low, then hits him with a Styles Driver Talk about a dangerous move)! Styles tries for the springboard 450 splash but lands on the knees. Hiroshi goes for another High Fly Flow, only to land on the knees too! Styles gets up first and sets up Tanahashi for a second rope Styles clash but Hiroshi counters and hits a slap and launches him in the ring. Cross body sends Styles down and he hits the High Fly Flow and WINS! Hiroshi Tanahashi is the 7th time champion!  Back from break as we get word from Tatsu say he was back for his own reasons, not to help Tanahashi. Hiroshi is presented with the belt as he just looks around the crowd. Okada and Gedo enter the ring now as Gedo says he didn't think he would win. He tells Hiroshi that what he did tonight won't work against the Rainmaker. Okada gives him props for winning the match but calls him a "dim sun" that can't light up NJPW. It's time to go down Tanahashi. Tanahashi retorts that he's not tired and that Okada can't become the sun since he is still around. They pose and Tanahashi gets the better response. Backstage celebration as Tanahashi saying he will do his best. Studio words as he talks about staying focused after the tournament and winning the 2014 MVP award. We head out for the week. This was a good one. It started off kind of slow and having Jeff Jarrett there really didn't add to anything, but once they got into a groove it was great. The crowd was into it, no one was slacking off and the action was incredible. Wonderful show!   We kick off with Tanahashi greeting us before we get to the big fight! We get some words with Tanahashi before we begin talking about he needed to stop respecting Styles and go for the belt that he has held 6 times before. Fight Time! Tanahashi is getting this shot after beating Styles in the G1 in the 3rd place match. Oh, gods, Styles is coming to the ring with Jeff Jarrett. Jeez, what will happen here with that? Jeff wouldn't just sit back and not try to get any attention for himself would he? Referee Red Shoes holds up the title as they have the ring announcements. Both guys get good responses from the crowd. Red Shoes nearly tosses Jarrett out, but he stays at ringside. WHY? Back from break as we start the match. Lock up as Mauro reminds us this is the first sell out of the Sumo Hall since 2009 that didn't involve the G1 Climax. They trade back and forth wrist locks before Hiroshi gets Styles down on the mat for a headlock. They get back up and to the ropes for a clean break. Styles on the headlock now as they are starting basic for the big match. Tanahashi gets the headlock now. Styles gets a wristlock, countered into an armdrag. Tanahashi hits the crossbody and goes back to the headlock. Make your own Randy Orton jokes at this point if you want.  Knucklelock leads right to Tanahashi landing a knee and getting a wristlock now, going into an armbar. They go into the ropes with Tanahashi putting his head through the ropes and Styles just yanks him and clotheslines him with the rope. That's a neat spot, never seen it before. Now with the advantage Styles starts putting the boots to Tanahashi as we go to commercial. Styles hits a backbreaker but Tanahashi fights back. They end up outside as Style goes into the barricade. Styles vaults off the barricade but Hiroshi CATCHES him and suplexes him right onto the floor. They get back in the ring, but Styles bails right back out and slams Hiroshi into the apron and then the guard rail. Styles hits the dropping knee and then goes for the rear chin lock. Josh is gold here ripping into Jeff Jarrett, Capt. New Japan (who is also at ringside) and the Young Bucks. Both men up as Tanahashi goes for the ropes only to get met with a high Styles dropkick. Styles gets Tanahashi in the corner for some shoulder blocks but Tanahashi gets in a few kicks. Styles hits the jumping clothesline into the corner. Back from break with Styles on the advantage. Styles goes for another splash but misses, Tanahashi gets in a double axhandle and then a flying forearm to get the advantage back. He hits a few forearms and then hits the senton off the second rope. Styles gets in a chop to the throat and then a kick right to the back of the head. Styles goes to the top, but Hiroshi pushes him off to the floor! Tanahashi hits the High fly Flow off the top to the floor! Both men get back in the ring as Hiroshi goes up, but Styles hits his leg and crotches him. Styles goes for the Clash but doesn't get it, only to land a snap suplex right into the buckle! Hiroshi gets up only to get hit with a flying clothesline but only gets a two count off of it. Styles goes for the clash again but Tanahashi gets the Jumbo roll through suplex (named after Jumbo Tsuruta). Tanahashi misses the running clothesline and Style goes bonkers with chops and strikes, only for Hiroshi to get a back suplex! We are back from another break. Tanahashi hits the Sling Blade! He goes for the second but Styles hits the german suplex, rolls through with it, and hits a facebuster. He tries for the pin, but Hiroshi kicks out. Styles gets a face lock but Tanahashi slides into a dragon suplex. Hiroshi goes up and hits the high fly flow TWICE, but Jarrett pulls the ref out! For the love of... Tanahashi gets up and goes for Jarrett, and Styles hits the Pele kick and the Bloody Sunday DDT, ref is thrown back in the ring but only counts two. Styles goes for the clash, but Tanahashi hits and palm strike. Styles tosses him right into the ref and Jarrett gets in the ring again with his guitar. YOSHI TATSU (?!?) shows up and takes out Jarrett and chases him out of the ring and to the back. Well that's a hell of a way to come back to Japan! Both men trade forearms now Tanahashi gets a momentary advantage, but Styles kicks him low, then hits him with a Styles Driver Talk about a dangerous move)! Styles tries for the springboard 450 splash but lands on the knees. Hiroshi goes for another High Fly Flow, only to land on the knees too! Styles gets up first and sets up Tanahashi for a second rope Styles clash but Hiroshi counters and hits a slap and launches him in the ring. Cross body sends Styles down and he hits the High Fly Flow and WINS! Hiroshi Tanahashi is the 7th time champion!  Back from break as we get word from Tatsu say he was back for his own reasons, not to help Tanahashi. Hiroshi is presented with the belt as he just looks around the crowd. Okada and Gedo enter the ring now as Gedo says he didn't think he would win. He tells Hiroshi that what he did tonight won't work against the Rainmaker. Okada gives him props for winning the match but calls him a "dim sun" that can't light up NJPW. It's time to go down Tanahashi. Tanahashi retorts that he's not tired and that Okada can't become the sun since he is still around. They pose and Tanahashi gets the better response. Backstage celebration as Tanahashi saying he will do his best. Studio words as he talks about staying focused after the tournament and winning the 2014 MVP award. We head out for the week.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Styles and Tanahashi for THE belt
It's that time of the week again as Strong Style brings you the latest episode of NJPW on AXS TV. This week is dedicated to a single match. This is the main event match of the October 13th, 2014 show from the famed Sumo Hall....

Strong Style: Title Shot Shoot Out

Sep 05 // Soul Tsukino
The show opens with a greeting from Okada to begin things this week. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado This stems from El Desperado, Taka Michinoku, and Taichi attacking Taguchi after he had won the belt from Kushida, shown here a few weeks ago. The masked man is representing the Suzuki Army. Never seen El Desperado wrestle before so let's see what he's got. El Desperado comes out dressed like a mariachi band member, complete with a guitar. Taguchi gets in the masked man's face, only for ANOTHER Desperado to pop up. Mariachi Desperado is Taichi! Jumping ahead Desperado has Taguchi on the ropes and literally kicking him is his ass. Taguchi gets back in this match with The Funky Weapon butt attacks. He goes for an ankle lock on the masked man, but Desperado gets out. Desperado ends up outside the ring and Taguchi flies over the top rope right down on his opponent. Taguchi gets in a mix of an indian deathlock and a surfboard. Desperado gets to the ropes and they untangle the two. Desperado goes for the suplex with the champ countering into the three amigos but is blocked at two, only to hit a blue thunder. We come back from break with both guys hurting. Taguchi gets sent into the buckle and gets hit with a senton. Desperado goes for the Gory special and they keep countering each other into getting into an ankle lock. Taguchi goes for the Dodan, but Desperado gets the roll out. Taichi up on the apron and hits him with the chair! Desperado hits the Gory bomb but doesn't get the pin. Taguchi  gets the kick to the head and then hits the Dodan. Taguchi sends Taka and Taichi out and goes for the ankle lock. Interference again but Taguchi lands the Dodan bomb and then the anklelock to get the submission!  After the match, Taka and Taichi attack and leave Taguchi laying in the ring and posing with the belt. This wasn't a bad little match. Both guys did bring their game and despite the edit and the interference this match was enjoyable. Katsuyori Shibata/Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/YOSHI-HASHI The high school buddies taking on a team from CHAOS. Nakamura does some posing in front of Shibata, Shibata doesn't care. Shibata starts with Nakamura as we kick off the match. Tentative lock up as each threatens kicks as we go into the ropes and clean break. Have a feeling Shinsuke goes for that weird belly face rub thing. Yup and nearly gets his head taken off with a kick before getting hit in the gut with another. We jump ahead as Shibata and Nakamura exchange forearms and beating the slobber out of each other. Shinsuke gets the advantage and goes for the good vibrations and hits the running knee strike. Another jump as Yoshi is in the ring now and tries for a pin on Shibata. Goto comes in as they send Yoshi off the top and right with two knees right to the neck. Yoshi hits the axe bomber but doesn't get the pin. Shibata lands the dropkick. Yoshi gets up but lands right into the sleeper and Shibata lands the Penalty kick and gets the pin? Really? What the heck just happened here? Nakamura and Shibata face off after the bell Shibata leave said Nakamura and actually challenges Shibata!  Well, this match was a disappointment. How much did they clip? Goto was barely even involved in this match at all. Not liking this one. We are back with Okada in the studio. He talks about Naito and Anderson beating him in the Climax tournament and he wants payback on both. For the IWGP Heavyweight title shot: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada. Josh talks about Naito having top level talent, but being inconsistent and not being able to win the big one. As Okada comes out with Gedo carrying the gold briefcase, Mauro explains the deal here. Okada won the right to challenge for the IWGP title at the big WrestleKingdom show in January at the Tokyo Dome. However the trade off is all singles matches between now and then he has to defend the shot. he loses and there goes everything. We come back from commercial as the bell rings. Crowd is hot for this one! Lock up as Okada gets the wristlock but countered, and countered back. On the ropes as Naito SMACKS Okada and swaggers away. Okada gives him a clean break off the ropes and Naito starts hammering on Okada. Okada hits the big kick on Naito and does the pose. Naito slaps Okada and sends him down Okada is still down and the ref is checking on him. Damn looks like he got his bell rung on that bitchslap.  Naito kicks Okada as the doctor is looking in now, but Naito don't care Naito is getting mean as he gets some more kicks in and sends Okada to the outside. Naito goes outside the ring and brings Okada in and hits a neck whip and a senton, but the pin only gets two. Naito puts a head scissor on Okada and squeezes down.  Naito nearly gets the pin, but Okada still kicks out. Okada gets up, but Naito kicks him. Okada lands a few hits, but Naito shuts him down Okada is whipped into the corner and tries to counter Naito's charge, but gets the hangman neck breaker for his trouble. Naito goes for the rear chinlock. Okada gets up and starts to get some steam, but gets sent down. Naito gets hit with a surprise flapjack  and Okada gets the offence with a bunch of elbows. He gets Naito up on the top rope and nails the high dropkick, sending him flying down to the floor. Naito slams into the barrier and then getting hits with a kick sending him into the crowd. Naito gets dragged over the barrier and hit with a hangman DDT! Okada tosses Naito back in but is slow to follow up. He tries for the slam, but Naito reverses into a tornado DDT. We return from break as Naito goes to the top and hits Okada with a missile dropkick and then hits another dropkick. Okada goes for his own dropkick but misses. Naito hits another dropkick to the head. Naito goes to the top, but Okada catches him and sends him down on the knee, right to the back of the neck! Okada hits the dropkick and sends Naito to the other side of the ring. Okada hits the heavy rain slam. Okada goes for the tombstone, but Naito reverses but Okada hits him anyway.  Okada hits the diving elbow and hits the rainmaker pose. Naito fights out of the grip. Okada whips him in for a dropkick, but Naito hits the Tito Santana flying forearm instead. Both men on the turnbuckle for the frankensteiner on Okada and then hits the german suplex but doesn't get the pin. Okada hits the enziguri and goes for the Rainmaker but Naito ducks and gets the kick to the head. Naito gets a urinagi but doesn't get the pin. Naito tries for the stardust press but misses. Both men struggle to get up before Okada nearly gets a surprise tombstone. They struggle with it when Naito breaks it. Naito hits the Liger kick and a suplex but doesn't get the pin!  Naito tries for something, but Okada hits a dropkick to the head of Naito! Okada hits the tombstone! Okada goes for the rainmaker, but it's countered and then countered again. Okada gets the counter to the electric chair into a german suplex. Naito gets up and Okada hits the rainmaker and gets the win! Backstage Naito says that it's great Okada won and NJPW will be safe with him. He smiles talking about the people cheering for him during the match and hopes people will cheer for him more in the future. Okada gets some words saying he wants to see who wins the next match on the card (Styles vs. Tanahashi, being shown next week) to see who he will face at the Tokyo Dome. Studio words from Okada talking about using new moves and the high level of competition of the match as we close out for the week. This week was an interesting one. The opener and the marquee match were really good, but that tag match was terrible. Either from bad editing or bad booking it was a huge flop considering the four men involved. The Naito/Okada match started off kinda crappy but picked up. It was a great bit of storytelling with Okada getting his lights dimmed and even when he had the advantage it still was being told during the match. Good job on both men's parts on that. Good show overall, and we will see more of the show next week! See you then! /ul/34241-/match 1-620x.jpg
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Okada vs. Naito for a shot at the title!
Hello again to Strong Style. This week New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV takes us to the famed Sumo hall for the first of two weeks of action from October 13, 2014. On tonight's show we have an IWGP Jr. heavyweight title match, A bruiser of a tag team match, and the 2014 G1 Climax tournament winner Okada will face Naito for the IWGP world title shot at the Tokyo Dome!

Strong Style: Two Title match Terror!

Aug 29 // Soul Tsukino
  IWGP Tag title: Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows) vs. CHAOS (Okada/YOSHI-HASHI) We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match. Backstage words from Okada and Gedo saying they will win with YOSHI when they fight the champs again. Some words from Nakamura feeling frustrated that Fale had beaten him, and he only got to the finals of the G1 (ONLY?!?). He talks about Fale improving as a wrestler and being a very big guy with explosive power from the Tongan's time in rugby.   IWGP Intercontinental Title: Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura This is a big rematch for the title from a match shown last season. Nakamura beat Fale to win the new Japan Cup and then beat the big guy again during the G1. Fale has the Young Bucks with him, that's never good. They stare each other down during the introduction. Bell rings and we get this puppy going. Fale shoves Shinsuke around, but Nakamura gets some knees to the gut and getting a front face lock. Fale just lifts him into the corner, but backs away. Shinsuke gets Fale to the ropes and does that weird belly face rub thing (and I'm surprised Fale doesn't just clobber him right there). He gets Fale down in a leg lock, but Fale gets a headlock. Fale gets a tight looking headlock before being shot in the ropes, but it goes nowhere. Fale goes in the ropes again and bulldozes Nakamura down. Mauro makes quick mention here of his old broadcast partner in Stampede Wrestling, "Bad News" Allen Coage. Tough guy right there. Nakamura gets back in it with some knees and a dropkick to the big guy. Nakamura smiles to the crowd and gets in the good vibrations kick. Fale, however, dodges the big kick and gets Nakamura outside the ring. Into the guardrail for Nakamura before Fale sends him to the post. Nakamura just barely gets back in the ring but ends up right in the hands of Fale. Fale goes for the pin but only gets two. He then gets Nakamura into an abdominal stretch and stretches Shinsuke out. Fale then STANDS on Nakamura's back and tries for another pin. Back from a break, Nakamura rebounds with some punches, but a face rake and he is back down. BIG slam by Fale and goes for the splash, missing. Nakamura moves again for a corner splash and kicks Fale in the face a few times. Nakamura drives his knee in Fale but doesn't get a pin. Nakamura gets a knee to Fale's face and a face lock, but Fale muscles out of it with a throw and then a splash followed by the old avalanche in the corner and a Samoan drop. Nakamura gets a spin kick and then the backstabber but then tries to get Fale up in a back suplex, not a good idea with a bad back. Fale gets the suplex and then goes for the over the shoulder backbreaker before just dumping Nakamura to the mat. Fale goes for the Bar Luck Fall, but stalls for some reason and Nakamura escapes. Fale gets on him for a Boston crab the looks more like a walls of Jericho hold since Fale is so tall. Nakamura gets the advantage with a rear choke and the Booma ye kick to the back but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura goes for the Booma ye but gets speared for his trouble (more like run over by a truck). Fale tries to grab onto Nakamura but Shinsuke goes for an armlock, one punch ends that quick. Fale goes for the Grenade, but Shinsuke gets out and lands some flying kicks and a Booma Ye from the ropes, but only two. Shinsuke knees him in the head and goes for the finish, but Fale grabs him in a side suplex. Back from break as Fale is climbing the ropes?!? He goes for the 747 splash and finds the pool empty. Nakamura gets in some elbows, but Fale is fighting back. Duel now wth forearms. Nakamura is getting freaky, but Fale gets the torture rack into a high backbreaker. Fale hits the Grenade, but Nakamura kicks out! He goes for the Bad Luck Fall, but Shinsuke slips out, gets Fale down and hits the Booma Ye. He goes for it again by Fale dodges but walks right into it again, and then gets hit AGAIN. Fale is out as Nakamura gets the pin and wins back the title! Nakamura is presented the title before giving us some words. He asks the crowd what he should do next. YEAOH! Some words backstage from the champ and still asking what he should do with the belt, he says that the belt is more than just a belt but represents a fighter's will. Studio words from the champ as he says that Fale was at his heaviest and that as the match went on, he knew Fale was running out of gas. He talks about he only uses the belt as a toy, but that it brings interesting wrestlers with it and he likes that. The show closes with a few words from Mauro as we head out for the week. I gotta admit, the main event didn't seem to do much for me. It was alright for being a big guy vs. smaller guy match, but really Fale was just way to slow and plodding to make the match as exciting as the action on this show has been. The crowd seemed kind of dead during the whole thing and didn't respond to very much of anything either. I wonder if they felt the same way that Nakamura was probably going to win the belt back, making Fale's title reign largely to make him look like more of a contender during the G1 Climax tournament. Never the less, I thought the tag match was good. Sure the ending was a little predictable but the wrestling was straight on and both teams worked well together. The heavyweight division of the tag teams seems to get overshadowed by the Jr. tag team division, but those guys can put on some good matches as well. In all, not a terrible show, but probably not the highlight of action from this season either. Next week we go back to the Sumo Hall for two weeks of exciting action! We haven't seen a lot from Yoshi on this show so this will be a nice change. CHAOS has Gedo with them in the corner while Bullet Club has no one. Things kick off with the Club attacking and going after Okada but fail as Okada gets the better of both of them. YOSHI tags in and gets Anderson over with a head scissors and then a neck breaker. YOSHI goes for an attack, but Gallows trips him and gets him outside the ring. Things break down with everyone outside the ring before Gallows gets YOSHI in the ring for a headlock. Dropkick by Yoshi to the sitting Gallows before tagging Okada. Okada is a house on fire as he takes out both men. Okada gets Gallows up for a slam.  Okada goes up the rope, but Anderson trips him up leading to Gallows launching him off the rope to the mat. Anderson comes in and mocks Okada by making the rainmaker pose. Anderson gets him up for a powerbomb, but Okada gets out and hits the falling neckbreaker. Okada then wows me and the live crowd with a LONG range flying elbow. Anderson tries for the Gun Stun but doesn't get it. YOSHI tags in and gets a basement kick on the ropes leading to Okada to kick Anderson on the rebound in a nice bit of double team. Anderson regains control as the Club double up and splat YOSHI in the corner with a double splash. Gallows nearly gets the pin twice, but can't get it. Okaka saves. YOSHI gets a slingshot clothesline and a blockbuster as things are breaking down  YOSHI nearly gets the pin on Gallows, but the big guy kicks out. YOSHI hits the Swanton, but Yujiro Takahashi interferes and ditches the ref. Gallows and Anderson get the legends killer and the pinfall to retain their titles. The outcome may not have been a surprise, but it was still a good tag match.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
IWGP IC and Tag Titles on the line
NJPW on AXS TV finishes out our look of the Destruction of Kobe event from September 21, 2014. Tonight we have two big title matches with the IWCP Tag titles and the IWGP Intercontinental title up from grabs. Both matches tonight also featured Bullet Club vs. CHAOS fights so they both should be good. So let's go back one more time to the Kobe World Hall!

Review: Attack on Titan: Part I

Aug 22 // Josh Tolentino
Attack on Titan: Part I Directed By: Shinji Higuchi Produced By: TOHO Pictures Premiere Date: August 1, 2015 (Japan), August 17, 2015 (Philippines), September 30, 2015 (US), October 20, 2015 (Canada) Licensed By FUNimation (NA) It's worth pointing out that in making the film, TOHO and Higuchi were given effective carte blanche by Isayama himself create their own thing, with only the barest guidance on how best to respect the world of the manga. That in mind, just how close they came in the final product will largely depend on what Attack on Titan means to each individual viewer. Fans of the manga's intricate world-building and the layers of mystery and culture surrounding the history of the world and the nature of the Titans themselves will find the movie sorely wanting in that respect. Gone is the vaguely German setting of the original, replaced by the Japan of some indeterminate future. Ruined Japanese tower blocks dot the pastoral landscape, hemmed in by walls constructed by human artifice, littered with wrecked helicopters and other modern contrivances. Little is said about the Titans' mysterious nature, the strange rules regarding how to fight them and why they do what they do (eat people) are waved away with the narrative equivalent of a disinterested shrug. The plot is also kept simple in this first part: The Titans breach the wall, and a year later, Eren, Armin, Sasha, Jean, and a handful of new characters join the Scouting Corps on a mission to recover Japan's last explosives, in order to use them to seal the wall and reclaim precious farmlands.  Against this straightforward narrative backdrop, Higuchi opts to have the Titans speak through their actions, and such action it is. The film takes the implacable violence already in the source and ramps it up to a grotesque extreme. Showers of gore and streams of blood accompany every Titan kill, the camera only cutting away at the bare minimum needed to keep the movie from being banned outright. By that virtue, and thanks to the fact that few scenes linger long enough for it things to get truly uncomfortable, it's not quite at the level of gratuitousness in true shock-horror, or, say, the finale of Blood-C, but it definitely goes farther than the original. The squeamish should consider themselves advised. The creepy resemblance Titans have to regular people is also emphasized, as most of the Titans are represented by TOHO's venerable specialty: People in suits. As a result, the sight of a horrific people-eating giant monster that looks exactly like the kind of old biddy one might imagine running a vegetable stand in some rural Japanese shopping arcade lends the film, yet still unsettling, tone. In its way, Attack on Titan is an alternative take, not just on TOHO's classic kaiju filmography (and a genre in which Higuchi is a celebrated veteran), but also on the days when a giant creature flick was considered a "horror" film. Attack on Titan takes more modern conventions of horror and scales them up to make once again contemporary the style of movies like Them! and The Day The World Ended. It's an impressive achievement considering that these days most viewers aren't scared by monsters they can see. Attack on Titan also succeeds on the action front as well. Though the scenes featuring the  Omnidirectional Maneuver Gear look a bit cheap to eyes that have seen five mega-budget Spider-Man movies, the action is at its best towards the back quarter, when the Titan suit actors really get to cut loose against a few more sizeable targets.  Unfortunately, other, less welcome traits of classical horror films also manifest in Attack on Titan, like paper-thin characterization and hoary old "sex-is-death" tropes. The original manga's cast was heavy on stereotype in the beginning, as well, but Eren and company at least had space to grow and develop as the chapters went on. 98 minutes simply isn't enough to do anything more than draw in the broadest of strokes. Worse still, some of the more substantial changes from the source are unproductive, and in the case of Mikasa, practically amount to character assassination. Attack on Titan was always unusually strong for its field when it came to having compelling female characters, and Mikasa was one of the best. To see her reduced so in the film is disappointing, to say the least. On the other hand, Satomi Ishihara gives a standout performance as Hans (aka Hanji), who's so close to her manga and anime counterpart she almost feels out-of-place. Of course, there's always the chance that the next scheduled film, Attack on Titan: End of the World, will pay off more, now that the setup has been properly delivered here. That's the hope, at least, for fans who still believe the movie can hew closer to the source in time. At the same time, though, Higuchi's effort does a passable job as its own thing. I guess the issue at this point is wondering how much better it could be if it weren't.
Attack on Titan Movie photo
Giant-sized
Attack on Titan is not much like Attack on Titan. Less confusingly, Shinji Higuchi's live-action adaptation of Hajime Isayama's smash hit manga is not a very faithful one. Though there are superficial similarities,  in m...


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