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puroresu

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 23-25

Apr 03 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 23 It's time for War Games! Well, not the war games long time wrestling fans think of when you use that name. This isn't two rings wrapped in a cage. This is something different. So different that everyone who is entering doesn't know what it actually is other than some sort of tournament where the winner challenges for the GWM World Title and gets a $1 million prize. The Third will be participating at his insistence and the challenge is open to anyone. Everyone else is hatching out their plans. Nagata gathers together a bunch of the New Japan guys saying they needed to work together. Wakamatsu wants to join, but Yuji says that only previous champions who have been in a GWM ring qualify. Not only do we see Gedo for the first time this series, but Naito does another one of his mysterious appearances and says he will be there, but he has no interest in working with the others. Meanwhile, Tiger is left scrambling a bit. Since he is freelance, he really doesn't have anyone else to team up with in this thing, that is until he remembers one other person. Fukuwara Mask. Fukuwara is still back in the village he helped last time and agrees to enter if he gets a cut of the money.   We then see what these guys are up against. Oh boy... we are entering Kinnikuman territory again. The rules are this. All the fighters start on the floor and fight each other. If someone scores a pinfall (being counted by Drones of all things. How Vanguard of them) they get to move up to the first ring. If you beat someone there, you move up a level. The fight goes on until there are two people in the top ring who will then fight for the money and the title. The third announces he is putting the belt on the line against anyone who beats him. Bonus! Besides the NJPW guys, Tiger, and Fukuwara, and The Third, we have Tiger The Dark and Kevin Andersen, Yellow Devil, The Metal Brothers, and a bazillion other guys.   The bell rings and we are off as everyone starts plotting and squaring off. The Third scores the first victory and walks right up to the next level. He's the guy to beat! The set up is bizarre and once again stretches the suspension of disbelief, but it does make for a good set up. With so many characters all gunning for the same thing, it makes me want to watch more. It gives us a clear path now that we are winding up season 2 and it gives us something to look forward too! Episode 24 We are still at war as everyone is still fighting it out for a shot at the GWM title and a million bucks at the Max Dome and GWM's War Game. There is a lot going on! Tiger the Dark's main goal is Yellow Devil. After a brief skirmish where Kevin saves Dark's ass, Dark finds him and start beating on him, even though Yellow Devil is not fighting back. We find out in a conversation with Miss X and her assistant Lady, that The Third was the one who ordered Yellow Devil be used in this match. That Tiger the Dark gets worked up when he sees Yellow Devil. I'm not the only one who suspects who The Third really is and that is a major plot reveal in that direction isn't it? Dark finally pins Yellow Devil and pulls off his mask.   Poor Mikasa once again. Poor guy just gets in way over his head. Speaking of, Dragon Young sneaks into the battle and scores a victory to ascend up to the next level of the fight and The Third. Feisty as Wakamatsu is, it doesn't go well.   The Third stays one step ahead as he goes on as the others fight to get to the second level. We don't see every individual advance but with The Third at the third level, Tiger, Tiger the Dark, Fukuwara, Kevin, Tanahashi, Okada, Naito are amongst those that get to the next level. Tiger and Fukuwara then get pins but as they are going to the next level, Tiger goes to save Tanahashi and Fukuwara fights The Third alone.  \ And they recognize each other?!? This is another of those plot points I really hope they expand on. Did they train together? Fight each other? Why does it seem like there is way more to Fukuwara mask than just comedy relief? The fight boils down to the Third and Naito and Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark. Naito does a decent job and gets some offense in, but one brainbuster later and The Third goes on. Tiger gets part of his finisher in on Tiger The Dark, but Dark counters. With some help from Kevin, Dark gets the Dark Driver on Tiger Mask and ends his run to the surprise of EVERYONE. We get a break as Tiger the Dark recovers in the locker room as a lifeless Tiger Mask is carted away. Well, this certainly had action! A lot going on here but if you kept up with who was in what ring and level you did alright.  Sure, the concept is a far fetched one, but within its realm, this episode carried things out very well. I did not expect that ending and makes me want to see where this goes in the next episode. Like I've said before when this show is on track it is really good with the action and story, but it can go off the rails so easily. If they stay on point this could make for a fun season 2 finale. Episode 25 Wow. That's the best I can say about this episode. In the locker room as Tiger Mask regains consciousness. Fukuwara Mask and Haruna are there with him. During the conversation, Fukuwara Mask tells Tiger that The Third is Yellow Devil and Tiger reveals to him why he is after Yellow Devil. Tiger is pissed and goes to fight Yellow Devil but Fukuwara sternly tells him to sit down and Tiger the Dark won the right for this fight. In the other locker room Takuma is getting looked over and after a brief press conference, the Reporter tells him that the Yellow Devil of 3 years ago disappeared but that is when The Third arrived and that they are the same person. The match begins as Tiger asks The Third straight out if he was Yellow Devil. He challenges the Third for his Mask and the Third goes for it. Loser loses his Mask. Miss X doesn't want it to happen but The Third demands it. The match itself is about as you'd expect. Dark beats him for a while but it turns cut to be part of Third's plan. He uses Yellow Devil's moves on Dark and when he goes for the Devil driver (that injured Daisuke 3 years ago), Dark counters. However, it doesn't last long as the Third starts using different moves until he puts Dark's legs in a figure four and then picks him up and drives him down, breaking his legs and knocking him out. The Third rips Dark's mask off and he is revealed as Takuma to both Daisuke at home, and Tiger Mask in the stands. As he walks away The Third tells Miss X that he is actually the grandson of the original Tiger The Great from the original series and that when two tigers meet, the power is made clear of the winner. Meanwhile, as Takuma is being stretchered out, Tiger Mask runs up to him and tells him he is Naoto. Kevin then goes ballistic telling tiger Mask it was his fault that Tiger the Dark was hurt and he could have won if it wasn't for him. Takuma is whisked away in an ambulance as a crestfallen Tiger Mask stands alone.   This was an amazing show. It got to the point and didn't screw around. No more mystery and running around not knowing what is going on anymore. This is a great set up for a third season hopefully built around making Tiger Mask stronger in revenge against the Third for all he's done. Hopefully, it means the episodes fro here on in won't waste our time anymore.  
Tiger Mask W photo
The War Game!
We are nearing the end of the second season and it looks like The Third has emerged as the new power player for the GWM. Tiger the Dark is back on the active GWM roster and despite the ongoing goofiness of the relationship with Ruriko, Tiger Mask is still chugging along. As we get to another crucial point in the series, let's see where things go.

Strong Style: Wrapping up G1 26!

Apr 02 // Soul Tsukino
Before we jump into the action for this final Block B show. Here is how things stand. Naito has 12 points, Elgin/Omega/Shibata have 10 points, Yano/Nakajima have 8 points, Evil/Nagata/Hashi have 6 points, and Honma has 4 points. So here is how this works out for the 4 guys still in the running. For Tetsuya Naito to win: A win OR A tie For Michael Elgin to win: Win and Kenny Omega beats Naito For Katsuyori Shibata to win: Win and Omega beats Naito and Elgin loss. For Kenny Omega to win: Win and both Shibata and Elgin loss Got all that? Let's start with our first hour as we are greeted by Naito Block B: EVIL (6 points) vs. Katsuyori Shibata (10 points) As explained earlier Shibata needs a lot to happen to win this, and the already eliminated Evil can be the spoiler here. Again as the matches have shown before, these guys are on their own so no help for Evil here. We start with both already in the ring and the bell rings. Shibata immediately goes for a sleeper and then a backdrop suplex. He tries for the PK but Evil bails outside. Shibata comes out and throws him back in but gets clotheslined. Shibata gets whipped into the barrier and Evil ties his arm up in the barrier and kicks it. Evil then nails it with a chair! Bandaged arm is now a problem. Back in the ring Evil attacks Shibata in the corner but Shibata kicks Evil off of him. Evil goes for the STO but Shibata reverses it into his own version. Shibata goes for the pin and gets two. Kick by Shibata right to the chest. He goes for another but Evil catches it. Evil tries for a hit but Shibata hits him a few times before locking in the sleeper again. Evil goes for the bad arm and gets out with some elbows to the gut. Evil then grabs the arm and gets Shibata in the backdrop suplex. Evil tries a running clothesline and it does nothing. Another one and Shibata brings the boot up. Shibata lands a headbutt but Evil counters with headbutts to the bad arm. He then gets a chicken wing on the bad arm into a suplex. The ref checks on Shibata and Evil tosses him aside. Evil lands the powerslam and then lands another to get the surprise three count! Shibata is out in less than 10 minutes! Studio words from Naito now.  Everyone is looking to be the last guy standing in the tournament. He looked forward to this match at the start of the tournament, regardless of points. He didn't see any weaknesses when Kenny was a junior so he always wanted this match, but says when Kenny joined the Bullet Club, he became boring and not interesting anymore. In Block B action not shown: Honma beat Nagata, Yano beat Hashi, Nakajima beat Elgin, so Elgin is out of the running now too. Block B: Tetsuya Naito (12 points) vs. Kenny Omega (10 points) This match decides it! With Shibata and Elgin now out, it's one of these two guys. Kenny has to win here with Naito scooting by in a tie. All down to this. The Cleaner is the first one to make his entrance. He is alone. No coat or sunglasses or broom. Good sign for a great match. Naito is out next and the whole Hall is lit right up for this entrance. Nice! White suit and near kabuki skull style mask for tonight. We get full introductions here for both guys. Naito takes his time getting his gear off. Back from the break and we are finally ready to start. Bell rings and both just look at each other. No rush here with these guys. Naito avoids the lock up. He does it again and Kenny just attacks him. Whip reversed and they avoid kicks and contact before posing. Kenny has a big bandage on his back. Kenny spits on Naito! Naito gets up and returns the favor. Kenny spits on him again but Naito just attacks with some forearms and kicks. They bounce off the ropes back and forth before Naito lands a dropkick on the knee. Kenny down on the corner and Naito lands another dropkick on it. Naito lifts the knee and slams it on the canvas. He does it again! He takes Kenny down and slams the knee into the mat a third time. Kenny counters with feeble punches but Naito drives the elbow into the knee. Shot to the head as Kenny is into the ropes. He pokes Naito in the eyes and tosses him outside. He goes for the Terminator dive over the rope but Naito moves and Kenny goes splat on the floor. Another dropkick to the knee before Kenny is tossed into the barrier. Naito sets him up but Kenny drives him into the barrier a couple of times. Kenny picks him up and slams him right on the ring apron! Naito now has a weakness. The count starts but Naito gets back in. Kenny picks him up for a suplex but brings Naito down right on his bad knee! Cover gets two. Kenny with a head crank now as you don't see that move enough anymore. Kenny brings elbows down on the shoulder and goes for another cover but only two. Forearm to the back now. Chop to Naito's chest as Kenny chokes him in the corner with a foot. Kenny does the Rude Awakening! Complete with the hip swivel. How fitting considering as I type this "Ravishing" Rick Rude is being inducted into the WWE hall of fame. Cover gets a two count. Naito gets in an elbow to the neck but Kenny chops him to put him down and chops him again and goes for the pin. Finlay roll but when he goes for the second rope moonsault his knee buckles. He gets it anyway but can't make the cover. Back from the break as they stumble up standing. Naito whips him in and lands an elbow but Kenny lands a neckbreaker. Kenny in the corner and Naito lands his trip/dropkick combo and tries for the pin but gets two. Both guys up and exchange chops. Kenny goes for the inverted atomic drop but Naito lands the low dropkick to the knee. Naito locks in a weird version of the figure four where he puts the hold on but uses his wrong leg so it just looks awkward. It still works though as Kenny keeps fighting it but finally gets to the rope to break. The bandage comes off and we see the cut on Kenny's shoulder blade. Wonder where he got that from. Kenny gets the leapfrog leg drop and sends Naito to the apron. Kenny dropkicks him off and launches Naito right into the barrier. Kenny then picks Naito up into the powerbomb and drops him through the announcer's table!  Kenny rolls in as the count starts He launches onto the top and springboards outside and hits Naito on the floor outside the barrier! Kenny in the ring at 10 as Naito makes it in at 18. Kenny grabs him on the apron and hits the dragon suplex on the apron! That has to hurt. They roll in and Kenny lands another dragon suplex into the bridge! His knee buckles so he only gets two. Kenny goes for the doctor bomb but Naito counters into a DDT! Both guys struggle up and Kenny strikes first but they go back and forth with forearm strikes. Hard hits for both guys. Naito hits the ropes but Kenny gets the jumping knee Naito spins around and catches Kenny and gets a spinning DDT off the ropes. Kenny in the corner and Naito catches him. He sets Kenny on the top turnbuckle and goes up himself. He goes for the rana and Kenny counters into a sunset flip but Naito rolls out and gets the low dropkick. He gets up and hits Gloria! Only gets two. We are back from break as Naito gets to his feet. He goes for the arm but Kenny counters with chops. 10 minutes left for the time. Naito goes for the suplex and rolls onto his feet so injures the knee more. Kenny runs Naito over with a clothesline and hits a knee strike. He goes for the angel but Naito counters out into the knee lock.  Kenny is screaming and trying to get to the rope. He slowly pulls himself over and tries for the ropes. He finally gets it to break. Naito stands up and slams the bad knee down for the kneebreaker. Naito goes for it again but Kenny lands a knee to the jaw and gets a suplex and the doctor bomb! Kenny gets two. 6 minutes left in the match. Kenny gets the running knee and goes for the one-winged angel but Naito counters with a weird destino! Naito up first and sets Omega up on the buckle and goes up top and lands the reverse rana! Kenny lands right on his head! Naito goes for the cover but Kenny kicks out! He tries for Destino but Kenny counters into the tombstone as we have 4 minutes left! Kenny uses the ref to stand back up. Kenny lands some short knee and goes for the angel again but he can't pick him up! 3 minutes left! Naito lands a chop. Kenny palm strikes the face. Enziguri by Naito. Kenny gets a knee to the head. Kenny goes for the angel but switches to a German suplex. Kenny goes for the pin again but Naito kicks out! 2 minutes left. Kenny finally gets in the angel and scores the pin! Kenny is going to the finals! Backstage Naito is loopy as hell as he is carried to his locker room. Back from a break as Kenny addresses the crowd. As the match went on. He noticed that the crowd was cheering and how he felt about them. They were cheering for Naito and only chanted for him when he won. He felt like Japan was his him but what kind of home cheers for Naito? He's the MYP of the tournament! Tomorrow when he beats Goto, they can cheer for him, he doesn't care. If he was a betting man, he'd bet on Kenny Omega. Studio words from Naito. He thought Kenny had become boring but Kenny was interesting in this match and it was fun to wrestle him. If he had escaped more to the floor, he would have won in the draw. The members of Los Ingobernables didn't win the tournament but each one of them gained skills and experience. They were able to show their world so it was a good tournament. He was surprised he didn't win, though. Onto hour two! We are at the Sumo hall on August 14, 2016, and we are going to decide a winner! We are greeted by Kenny Omega Studio words from Kenny for the big one tonight. He says he needed a gamelan because he knee was a mess and had to go back to wrestle in 12 hours. He wanted to win so he will win is the mindset he had. Goto is a strange man where if he's not motivated, he's not a threat. He could be a main eventer if he wanted to be. Kenny scouted the match Goto had with Marufuji and Goto was at his best there, but he hasn't had a good match all year and Goto sucks. G1 Climax 26 Finals: Hirooki Goto v/s Kenny Omega Goro is still looking for the big win in his career while Kenny has been saying for months that his plan was to with the G1 and get the title shot at Wrestlekingdom 11 at the Tokyo dome. CHAOS vs. Bullet Club here. With the amazing match Kenny had the day before, Goto got the extra rest day and now has a big advantage. Kenny out first with again, no coat or any of that garbage. No bandage on the shoulder blade tonight. They talk about Masa Chono a bit as he was actually born in Seattle. I did not know that. Goto the warrior is next and looks great as always. He's been here before. Full intros of course as we are going the full hour. We look at the trophy and it is awesome as well. We come back from break as the bell rings. Kenny poses. No time limit for this match. Lock up and waistlock by Kenny. Goto gets the arm but Kenny pushes him back into the ropes. Kenny backs off. Lock up again and Kenny gets the arm. Goto takes the leg and Kenny reverses into a pin. They get back up into a knuckle lock up but Goto gets the hammerlock into a headlock. Kenny pulls hair. Whip off and Goto gets the shoulderblock. They counter each other and avoid contact but Kenny gets the rana and sends Goto to the outside. Kenny goes for the dive but Goto gets in the ring and hits the low kick and the crowd boos him! Even Goto is surprised by that reaction. Goto gets him down and locks in the leg lock. Goto locks in the figure four and Kenny tries to fight. Kenny gets into the ropes and gets into the corner and Goto lands some forearms as the crowd boos again! They exchange strikes but Goto kicks the leg. Kenny goes for the clothesline but Goto follows him and clotheslines him over the top rope. Goto goes out and attacks and tosses him into the barrier but Kenny counters the charge with a boot. Kenny leaps onto the barrier and gets a moonsault! He then picks up Goto and slams him on the ring apron. Kenny goes back in but goes right back out and lands the powerbomb onto the apron! Goto's back has got to be toast. Kenny stretches out the leg before he rolls back in. Goto rolls in at 16. Kenny with the cravat and hits the Rude Awakening! Perfect tribute. Pin gets two. Back from the commercial as Kenny locks in a one arm camel clutch.  He is cranking back on it big time. Goto in the ropes to break. Kenny gets up and lays in the stomps. Kenny lands a chop and goes for the cover but gets two. He then locks in a neck vice before Goto is in the ropes. Goto into the buckle and hits with a chop and another. Whip into opposite buckle but misses the charge. Goto gets the whip and charge but gets the boots for it. Kenny lands the bulldog and goes for the cover but gets two. As they get up Goto gets in a chop they chop back and forth before Kenny hits some elbows to the head. Kenny whips it in but they dodge back and forth before Goto hits a strong clothesline. Kenny in the corner and Goto lands the running side kick and a side suplex. Kenny back in the corner and Goto lands another clothesline. Goto goes up top and lands the elbow drop but Kenny kicks out of the pin attempt. Fireman's carry but Kenny slides off and spits. Kenny lands the Regal roll and the second rope moonsault but doesn't get the pin. Forearm to Goto's head. Kenny with strikes and kicks but Goto is getting mad. He tells Kenny to hit him. Goto goes to the ropes but Kenny counters and gets the dragon suplex. Goto rolls outside and Kenny gets the flying cannonball over the top rope! Back from another commercial as Kenny is on the apron stretching his knee again. He goes outside and tosses Goto back in. Kenny on the apron and goes up top! He hits the dropkick and lands right into Goto's back. He goes for a dragon suplex but Goto counters. Goto scoops him up and lands the ushigoroshi! Both guys are hurt now. Kenny to the apron and Goto runs him over with a clothesline. He picks Kenny up and suplexes him to the top turnbuckle and goes up after him. Goto puts him on the shoulders and lands the ushigoroshi off the top! He goes for the pin but Kenny kicks out. Goto locks in the sleeper now. Kenny's in trouble! Goto goes for the GTR and escapes it but Goto goes for another attack but Kenny tries to turn it into a sleeper and Goto locks in the sleeper. Kenny slips out and lands the knee strikes. Kenny hits a neckbreaker but he is in pain. Kenny lands a running knee and sets Goto for the angel but Goto slips into another sleeper hold. Kenny punches him but Goto keeps the hold. Kenny climbs up the turnbuckle and fall backwards in a splat! Both guys hit the mat hard on the head. Kenny first to get up but barely. Elbow by Kenny but Goto fires right back. More elbow strikes Kenny gets the kick to the face and blocks Goto's strike and gets Goto up into the powerbomb and down with a crash! Back from the break as Kenny is getting up. The crowd is chanting for him! He goes up to the top and goes for the corkscrew dive but pool's empty on this one and thump. Goto gets up and lands a middle kick to the chest. Pin attempt gets two count. Headbutts by Goto. Goto picks him up into a spinning facesplat. Cover gets two. Goto goes for GTR and Kenny counters out into a bunch of strikes and a dragon suplex. Kenny gets a cover but a two count.  Kenny goes for the knee but Goto blocks it. Kenny hits with the other knee, but Goto runs over him with a clothesline. He hits the DDT and goes for the cover but Kenny kicks out. He goes for the GTR again but Kenny reverses again into the bloody Sunday DDT. Channeling Prince Devitt now. Kenny lands the Styles Clash and goes for the pin but Goto kicks out! Talk about pulling ghosts from the past. He picks him up for the One-winged angel and hits it! He gets the three count and Kenny Omega wins the tournament! Young boys and the docs scramble in the ring as both guys are spent. The rest of Bullet Club come out for the celebration as Goto is rolled out of the ring. As Goto is carried out Omega is put on Fale's shoulders and paraded around the ring. Back from the break as the celebration continues. Kenny is presented the big trophy by a former member of Japan's national soccer team. He is given the big flag as is tradition, but throws it down and waves the Bullet Club flag instead. He takes the mic and talks about how people said the Club should disband. The Elite is not ending and it makes wrestling interesting. Days like this happen only once in a lifetime. Don't be afraid to dream. But as soon as you get there, someone like him swoops in and takes it from you. He says that all the other wrestlers just got a G1s worth of study material so get going. He issues the challenge for Okada since they have never met. He speaks in Japanese to wow the crowd. He didn't want to speak Japanese because he is the bad guy. He's really good in speaking Japanese BTW. If you don't cheer for him, he hates you too. The crowd goes wild for him. NJPW is his home and he isn't going to the other side. Backstage as Kenny says that training and fighting for all these years have finally paid off and the dream has come true. Everyone in Club has made the sacrifice to come to Japan (though I imagine Takahashi didn't sacrifice as much). He says that he was lucky in that Goto wrestled Marufuji which is a lot like him. It sucks he had to wrestle for 9ver an hour in the last two days but he did it. This is for the Club members who weren't there and the "lost brothers" before lots of Coors Beer. In the studio, Kenny said he had to call upon his Bullet club brothers and his demons. He is happy that he brought something special to the table. He wants to be the only Canadian to win the title. It is a career highlight and he wanted to be happy for it.  Holy Crap! While the first match was criminally short (my guess is that Shibata really injured his shoulder and had to keep it short), the two Omega matches were incredible! Without the Jacksons and all his bullshit, Kenny Omega can really go and these two matches showed it. This was an amazing night of action! As I mentioned, as I am writing this, they are holding the WWE Hall of Fame in Orlando. As part of the ceremony is the "Legacy" Hall of fame for those who were pioneers of wrestling. One of those names being inducted this year is Rikidozan. This man is the reason we have Japanese pro wrestling (Puroresu) today. He started the JWA, Japan's first wrestling company and it is because of him we get the great action from all over Japan today. He is truly a pioneer and I am proud that he finally gets the recognition as a star and promoter. Hail to you Rikidozan for bringing us something incredible for many generations to come. Before we go, an update on Tomoaki Honma's condition after the scary injury earlier this month, Honma's condition stabilized enough that he was able to be transferred from Okinawa to a hospital in Osaka. From there he underwent surgery on his spine. He released another statement: “Surgery was a success and now I’m starting the rehabilitation process (right now I’m raising and lowering my knees, etc). From here on out, I’m going for it! Thanks everyone!” Fight on you brave warrior! Let's make kokeshi happy! Enjoy the big weekend folks and see you next time!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Who is going to win?
Hello fans and Welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. For wrestling fans it is a VERY big weekend with Wrestlemania and all the other wrestling events happening in Orlando this weekend...

Strong Style: A Block beatdown

Mar 25 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35623:6147:0[/embed] But first, let's see where we are in the points total. Tanahashi/Fale/Marafuji/Goto/Okada: 10 points, Makabe: 8 points, Tonga/Sanada/Ishii: 6 points, Tenzan: 4 points. So this is how it works out with the matches tonight For Tanahashi to win the Block: A win For Okada to win the Block: A win, Fale loss (or tie), Goto win (or tie) For Fale to win the Block: A win, Marufuji win (or Tie), Okada win (or tie) For Goto to win the Block: A win, Tanahashi/Goto tie For Marufuji to win the Block: A win, Fale loss, Okada win (or tie) Hour 1: We are greeted by Hirooki Goto! A Block: Sanada (6 points) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4 points) Both men have been eliminated already so this is just for pride, mostly on Tenzan's part. Both got big victories early but dropped off in the tournament and so here we are. Sanada wanders out by himself in his cold skull mask and baseball bat, looking like something from those old cyberpunk biker gangs from anime of long ago. Tenzan comes out next with Satoshi Kojima in his corner. We are pressed for time so we cut right to the bell ringing and the lock up. It goes nowhere. Seconds lock up and Tenzan gets him to the ropes. He feigns for a clean break but instead goes for his Mongolian chops! Sanada ducks out of those and lands a kick and some shots to the back. He locks in a headlock but Tenzan shoots him off. Shoulderblock does nothing. Tenzan tells the youngin' to try it again and Sanada obliges. Stalemate again. Sanada stomps his foot and tries to shoot him off the ropes but Tenzan reverses it and runs over Sanada with a shoulderblock. He then lays in those Mongolian Chops that drive Sanada outside. Tenzan goes outside but Sanada slips inside. Tenzan tries to come back in but Sanada smacks the ropes giving Tenzan a low blow. Tenzan rolls outside where Sanada runs him into the barrier and then drives the ball bat into him! Back from the break as we skip ahead a little with both guys back in the ring. Sanada goes to whip Tenzan into the buckle but Tenzan reverses it. Sanada leaps over the ropes in the corner and then springboards back in with a dropkick. Sanada lands the standing moonsault for a cover of two. Sanada picks him up and lands a side suplex for another two count. Sanada immediately locks in the dragon sleeper to try and finish it, but Tenzan hits a jawbreaker to get out of the hold. Both get up and Sanada hits an enziguri but Tenzan just shakes it off. Sanada scoops him up in a fireman's carry and into a cutter! Pin attempt gets two as Kojima is going ballistic at ringside for his buddy. Sanada scoops up Tenzan and slams him down before going up the buckle and trying for the moonsault. Tenzan moves and Sanada lands awkwardly on his feet before falling over. Tenzan whiffs a clothesline and Sanada gets a waistlock and a suplex into a bridge, but only gets two. Sanada locks in the dragon sleeper again but Tenzan rotates out of it and turns it into a scoop slam. He drives Sanada down in a tombstone!  Tenzan tries for a cover but only gets one.  Tenzan slams Sanada down and goes up as he tries the moonsault! Tenzan misses though and splats on the mat. They get up and Sanada lands a dropkick but Tenzan just yells at him! He gives Sanada and headbutt and a Mongolian chop. Sanada tries to fire back but he just grabs his own shoulder as Tenzan keeps working in him. He hits four headbutts before clotheslining Sanada to the back of the head. He points to Kojima and lands a running clothesline to the front before going in for the pin. Two count only. Tenzan locks in the anaconda vice lock. He picks Sanada up and lands the buster but the pin only gets two. Tenzan goes for the slam but Sanada stands out of it. Tenzan gets him up anyway but Sanada floats through it and locks in the dragon sleeper!  Tenzan struggles and gets his foot on the rope to break. Sanada slams him down and goes for the moonsault. He lands with both knees to the torso! Pin attempt gets two. Sanada goes right back to the dragon sleeper again as Tenzan is in the middle of the ring now. He finally taps out. We cut to a little later as the crowd is chanting for Tenzan and he takes a bow and shakes Kojima's hand. Backstage he sad it just wasn't his G1, but it was both he and Kojima than made him fight on. Kojima thanks him for showing his spirit today and Tenzan tells him that he gets dependant when Kojima says that. Kojima was the only one who listened to him. he says he is the worst, but Kojima is the best partner he could have and thanks him as both are fighting tears now. A Block: Tomohiro Ishii (6 points) vs. Togi Makabe (8 points) Again, both guys are eliminated. These two have hated each other for years after the breakup of G.B.H. and have met plenty of times in some real beat downs. Ishii is out first and he is looking to do damage as always. Togi is out next and he is in the same mood as always. We quick cut as they get their gear off. Bell rings and they go right into the bull of a lock up. Ishii lands a chop and soon they are exchanging hard chops back and forth, back and forth. Ishii goes down but he comes back with a chop right to the throat. Wonder how none of these guys have killed anyone doing that. Seriously, I damaged my voice box as a kid going throat first into a metal bar (watch those drawstrings on your coats kids!) and that took a week to recover from. Ishii throws a shot right to Togi's head and here we go back and forth with the chops and strikes now. They beat each other senseless for a while before Makabe is down first. Ishii picks him up and sends him down in the corner as he is chopping him right in the throat! Togi is down on the mat face first as now Ishii just paws at him with a few kicks and tell him to get up. Togi pulls himself up and begs Ishii to keep hitting him. The Stone Pitbull does just that and keeps hitting him. Togi finally counters with a strike of his own and pops up and runs over Ishii with a shoulderblock. Makabe runs him over with a big clothesline and then hits him with a forearm but Ishii just tells Togi to hit him harder! Togi hits him harder but Ishii just hits him right back and now they are both down. We come back from the break as both guys scrape themselves from the mat. Ishii scoops Togi up onto the top rope and nails the avalanche brainbuster for a two count. He picks Togi up and goes for a big clothesline but Togi ducks it. Ishii grabs a waistlock and lands a big suplex and holds on to get a second one! Togi is stumbling around and Ishii nails him with a standing enziguri! Ishii rams into him with a big clothesline but that just makes Togi mad as he comes back with a big strike and now they are going back and forth again with hard chops and axhandle strikes. Makabe hits him in the gut and gets in a big powerbomb but can't make the cover. Both guys are hurting but Ishii drags him up and gets a rear waistlock but Togi headbutts him to get out and hits a bunch of clotheslines right in a row. Ishii remarkably stands back up after all this. Togi hits another clothesline and a German suplex with a bridge but can't get the pinfall. Togi scoops him up backward on the top turnbuckle and delivers the spider suplex! He climbs up to deliver the king Kong knee drop but Ishii moves! As they get up Togi charges but gets met with some kicks for that. They meet with running clotheslines that go nowhere before they just start headbutting each other Ishii gets in a running clothesline for a two count. He hits the sliding low clothesline and still only gets a two count. He finally nails the brainbuster and scores the victory! We are back from commercial with some studio words from Goto. He knew he had to win here, even if it would take some work to move on. He says the smaller the opponent is, the better for him and his power moves so thinks works out well for him. A Block: Hirooki Goto (10 points) vs. Naomichi Marufuji (10 points) Both guys have a good chance of taking this thing but they have to get by each other first. As we've seen, both men will tear you up and not stop until the match is over so I am looking forward to this one! Marufuji comes out first wearing the GHC title that is once again, pretty much ignored. For him to win the block he has to win here, Bad Luck Fale has to lose, and Okada has to win in the second hour to win by competition tie breaker. Goto the warrior is out next as he marches to the ring. For him to go to the finals he has to win and the main event would have to go to a tie since both guys beat him in earlier matches. Tie breakers are a bitch sometimes. The bell rings and the crowd is chanting for something but I'm not sure what. They lock up and Goto immediately pushes Marufuji back in the ropes. he gives a clean break up Marufuji lands a high kick right to Goto's mouth. Goto retaliates with a headlock and gets shot into the ropes, but runs over Marufuji with his shoulder. Marufuji gets up as Goto hits the ropes and gets a leapfrog but doesn't get the armdrag. Goto rebounds off and hits Marufuji with a clothesline to send him outside the ring. Goto goes out after him and delivers an elbow to the back of Marufuji's neck and a kick. He tries to whip Marufuji into the barrier but Marufuji reverses is. Goto stops short but Marufuji comes flying over and drives Goto's head into the barrier! Marufuji tosses him into the ring and goes for a cover but only gets an one count. Marufuji locks in a chinlock now. Goto gets his foot on the rope and breaks it. Marufuji stands him up and lays in a shot right to the chest. They exchange big chops back and forth before Goto goes down. Marufuji lands some weak kicks to Goto's head before locking in a chinlock. Goto once again gets to the ropes for the break and Mary goes right back to the chops. He pulls Goto out of the corner and locks in a standing chinlock with an arm trap on Goto. Goto gets to the ropes for a break. Marufuji lands a chop but Goto fires back with more chops and is getting angry. Marufuji lands more chops but Goto just wants him to hit harder!  Marufuji lands more chops before a running hip attack. He tries for a suplex but Goto blocks it. Goto gets him up but Marufuji slides out and lands a chop to the chest. He hits the ropes but Goto delivers a strong side kick to knock him down.  Goto lays in some forearm shots before whipping Marufuji into the buckle and lands a spin side kick in the corner and right into a side suplex. Goto lands a running clothesline in the corner and then goes up! He lands a big elbow and gets a two count on the pin attempt. He scoops Marufuji up for a fireman's carry but Marufuji escapes that. Goto elbows him and sends him into the ropes but Mary counters with a dropkick leading Goto to roll outside the ring. Mary gets a running start and launched over the top rope to splash onto Goto! We come back from break as both guys are on the floor. Marufuji picks him up and lays in some chops. Goto grabs hold and whips him into the barrier but Marufuji blocks himself and sneaks up on the ring apron as Goto rolls back into the ring. Marufuji springboards in with a big dropkick to get a two count. They are back on their feet as they exchange strikes now. Marufuji with his chops and Goto with his forearms. Goto gets the better of it but he goes to the ropes and Marufuji counters it. He goes to the ropes again and Mar counters it again. He tries a waistlock but it is broken by Marufuji who lands a kick right to the mouth! Marufuji goes for a big spin kick but Goto catches him by the back of the head and drives Marufuji down onto the knee backward. They both struggle to get up and Goto goes for the running strike but Marufuji moves and lands a bicycle knee to the jaw. Mary goes for sliced bread but Goto pushes him into the corner. Marufuji comes back with kicks right to Goto's head. Marufuji goes for sliced bread again but Goto grabs a waistlock and tries for a suplex but Marufuji elbows out. He lands some kicks but goes for a bicycle knee and Goto just headbutts him out of the air! Goto hits the ushigoroshi and goes for the cover but only gets two!  Hew picks Marufuji up for the GTR but Marufuji counters out and lands a kick to the jaw.  Marufuji lands another kick and then a bicycle knee for the cover but only gets two. He goes for sliced bread but Goto counters it into a sleeper hold! Marufuji tries a shoulder roll but Goto hangs on! Goto picks him up and lands the GTR and scores the pin! Backstage Marufuji is disappointed for not winning but still made a good showing for the NOAH fans. Goto says we will have to wait and see what happens now. Studio words as he said he just had to wait and see. He felt a lot more at ease with things after joining CHAOS and for the G1 so he was in a good position. In action we did not see, Bad Luck Fale lost to Tama Tonga so Fale is eliminated from winning block A. We get a graphic for Jan Ross, Jim Ross's dear wife who passed away this past week from injuries from an auto accident. We are greeted by Tanahashi. Studio words as Tanahashi talks about tearing the muscle in his arm and making the comeback. He had a slow start to this tournament but bounced back. He like Nagata now as he is 40 and Okada is only 29. A Block: Kazuchika Okada (10 points) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (10 points) And it all comes down to this. The two biggest names in New japan right now fighting it out in the final match of block A. With Marufuji and Fale out, a winner here gets the block. A tie and Goto takes it. Okada comes out first with Gedo in his corner as we are going the full hour for this one. Okada is the champion here but the belt is not on the line.  Tanahashi comes out next and unlike last time, he actually looks awake this time around.  Gear comes off and we go to break. Back as the bell rings. Lock up. Okada gets the armlock but reversed into a headlock and takeover. Okada breaks and the crowd chants for both. Lock up again and Okada gets him into the ropes for the chest pat break, but Tanahashi reverses and goes for the same, but Tanahashi slaps him in the face! Okada gets a shoulder tackle and a leapfrog. Okada goes into a roll up and gets a neckbreaker and a missile dropkick! He lands the big elbow and calls for the rainmaker early! He goes for it but Tanahashi gets the small package! Two count. Dropkick right to the knee by Tanahashi. He bumps his head landing though and rolls outside. Okada goes out and just rolls him back in, though. He slams Tanahashi down and gets in a slingshot senton. Cover only gets one. Okada sits down and hooks Tanahashi's legs and picks him up in a pendulum pin attempt and Tanahashi keeps having to fight to keep his shoulders off the mat. Okada makes a traditional cover and gets a one count. As they get up Tanahashi lays in some shots but Okada shoots him into the ropes. He tries the big boot but Tanahashi catches the foot. Okada punches out. Tanahashi tries a big boot but Okada catches it. Tanahashi hits again and Okada tries the foot and Tanahashi dropkicks him right in the knee. Tanahashi goes to work on the leg with kicks and stomps on the thigh before locking in a shinlock before Okada gets to the ropes. We come back from break Tanahashi working the leg more and locks in an Indian deathlock. Okada lands some chops. JR asks why America doesn't do Tournaments this way, sadly he knows the answers to that. JR helped book Starrcade 1989 and he even couldn't keep track as he was broadcasting it at the time. Both guys get up and Tanahashi gets Okada in the corner. Tanahashi comes running out and gets a body dropped by Okada. Running forearm by Okada as he lands a back elbow. Okada gets a corner whip and lands a back elbow into a DDT. He gets the rolling forearm but only gets two. Okada locks in red ink! Okada is screaming for Tanahashi to submit but Tanahashi crawls over to the ropes and breaks the hold. Kick to the knees but Okada gets in the forearm. Okada goes for the elbow but Tanahashi moves. Both guys down. Back up as they fire forearms back and forth. Kick by Okada. Whip by Tanahashi but charge misses. Okada sets him up and lands the big dropkick to send Tanahashi to the floor! Tanahashi into the barrier and Okada goes for the running boot but Tanahashi catches it and ties him up on the barrier and gives him the dragon screw! Now both legs are hurting. Tanahashi rolls back into the ring and goes up top and lands the high fly flow to Okada on the floor! Back from break with both on the floor. Tanahashi rolls in first as Okada is in bad shape but Tanahashi goes out and breaks the count. Okada catches him and gets the tombstone! Tanahashi is out! Count goes on but Okada rolls in at 17. Tanahashi gets in at 19.  Okada on the apron and goes for the big dropkick but Tanahashi moves and gets in the screw leg whip on the right leg, then gets another on the left leg! Tanahashi tries for the cloverleaf but Okada gets to the ropes before the hold is on. Tanahashi gets some kicks and goes for the ropes but Okada catches him and goes for the tombstone but Tanahashi kicks out of it. Okada gets him up for heavy Rain but Tanahashi counters! Tanahashi locks in a suplex and a bridge but Okada kicks out. Tanahashi goes up but Okada hits him with a forearm. Okada goes up. Okada tries for something but Tanahashi keeps fighting. Tanahashi hammers the forearm and Okada falls off. Okada counters the high fly flow attempt and lands a couple of dropkicks to the face. He goes for the rainmaker but Tanahashi lands the slingblade! Back from the break as we are told we only have less than 8 minutes in this match left. Tanahashi goes for a charge but Okada scoops him onto the apron. They exchange forearms back and forth Okada goes for the boot but Tanahashi catches the boot and gets the dragon screw on him. Tanahashi hits it again! Tanahashi comes back in and locks in the cloverleaf. Tanahashi keeps pulling him away from the ropes but Okada powers out. Okada and Tanahashi exchange strikes Okada whips in but misses the dropkick. Tanahashi whiffs the slingblade. Tanahashi goes up and hits the flow onto the back! He goes up for a second one but Okada gets his knees up! Both guys get up and Tanahashi tries for a dragon suplex but Okada counters into a tombstone but Tanahashi counters and lands the tombstone! Tanahashi gets in a neckbreaker and goes for the flow again but Okada counters with the dropkick! Okada misses the rainmaker and Tanahashi lands a slap but Okada lands the suplex. Okada tries the rainmaker but Tanahashi counters with the slap. Rainmaker hits it but Tanahashi counters into a suplex as time is running out! Okada gets in the tombstone but can't get the pin! Tanahashi counters the rainmaker into a slingblade as he goes up and lands the body press and he goes up again as we are less than 10 seconds! He lands the hit and goes for the cover as the time runs out! 1 point each as Goto wins the block! Both guys and the ref are exhausted! Wow, what a final for the block. We come back from break with both guys still scraping each other off the mat. They both need help getting out of the ring and the crowd applauds both men. Backstage Okada is disappointed. He knows he still has to defend the belt and the next step is the Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi is on the floor. He thinks he didn't recover fast enough and that cost him the tournament. The truth is he just returned from the injury and was going to celebrate by taking the block. Goto asks if anyone thought he'd take the block He will show everyone the world of Goto. In the studio, Tanahashi talks about the match being a great deal of pressure. He wanted to set things clearer. He wanted to show every move hand meaning and could connect. He was disappointed in losing even if it wasn't injury free. He still got his confidence back. A big time 2-hour block here with 4 great matches. I don't blame them for not showing the Fale/Tonga match as not only would it have made things more confusing, but doesn't sound like it was very good anyway. They got the point across and did a decent job explaining it. Next week we find out who faces Goto in the final! Before we split there are a few more things I'd like to touch on. First a shout out to Mauro Ranallo who has been under doctors orders this week at home. Hope to hear back from you soon boss. Smackdown isn't as fun without you! And also in an update to our friend Tomoaki Honma who was injured very scarily in a match earlier this month. We finally got to hear from the big guy himself when he released this statement from the hospital:   Hi everyone, it’s Kokeshi.  First of all, I want to apologize for causing everyone so much worry after what happened at the match in Okinawa.    Jado’s DDT that match was definitely the hardest one I’ve ever felt. After it hit, I noticed I couldn’t feel anything below my neck. I could hear everyone rush to my side, but I couldn’t hear my own voice. I tried to speak, but nothing…Then little by little, things went black. “Ahhh, guess this is what it’s like, crossing the river Styx,” I thought. That’s when I heard a voice calling me. It was an enlightening experience to say the least.    I’ve been able move my feet and hands quite a bit since then, but currently I’m still paralyzed from the neck down. So the staff is kindly typing this journal entry for me. While my body may be what it is now, I’m getting better day by day. I’ll focus on my rehabilitation and be back in the NJPW ring for sure. Nothing can quell this burning desire I have to get back in there.  Pro wrestling is not broken or at fault here. This was simply an accident between two professionals.    To Jado,  I don’t know if you read these journals, and I don’t know if I should say this or not… but I’ll say it anyway: I’m coming back stronger than before, tanner than before, more oiled up than before! You’ll see me standing before you Jado, so just you wait!    I won’t lose, ever! I’ll be back in the ring to tell you all, “Kokeshi is happy! All together now, let’s be happy!”   Tomoaki Honma     May the gods bless the Kokeshi with a speedy and full recovery!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Wrapping up one side of the bracket
Hello and welcome to another edition of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Tonight we once again have two big hours as we wrap up the A block in the G1 26 tournament. We are at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo on August 13, 2016 and Day 17 for tonight's night of action!

Strong Style: This will be good!

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


Tiger Mask W photo
Tiger Mask W

Tiger Mask W comes to life again!


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

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 20-22

Mar 12 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 20  We are back to Hell in the Hole as the GWM willfully has their wrestlers kill each other to the delight of a bunch of rich people in a posh house. We pick up where we left off as Takuma (Tiger The Dark without his gear) and Kevin Anderson have teamed up against the veterans of Odin and Billy The Kidman. We are interrupted with more bullcrap concerning Naoto and Ruriko. Naoto visited Fuji in the hospital and Fuji tells Naito that not everyone in the hospital was thrilled with her as a nurse. Turns out her father is the hospital's director and while she wanted to help people, she is so well off she doesn't need to work at all. Naoto doesn't take it well for some reason as the thought of her being so well off makes him feel bad. Yeah, I don't entirely get it either. Anyway back to the real plot here as the four guys are squared off. Things are at a standstill when Red Death Mask shows up. He makes an interesting offer that whoever of the four to turn on their friend and join him would be spared and get te table while the other three would not. Odin freaks out and asks to join the masked man (whispering to Billy to trust him) and that... doesn't go well. Red Death Mask doesn't last much longer thanks to the other three, but neither does Billy the Kidman.  They are rewarded with bottled water and Protein powder to rest up for the final push that leads them to the house with all the rich people in it and The Gatekeeper, a 7-foot tall monster named Blackout. They retrieve the key from him, they get to escape the mountain. They learned very quickly that Blackout isn't entirely what he seems. Takuma and Billy try their best but Blackout just tosses them around like nothing. Odin comes back and he actually does some damage with part of the table Red Death Mask had and actually gets the key. Blackout then has him. Odin fights back with the prize he won earlier, a lighter and... Blackout goes full Terminator! He crashes into the house and immediately goes after EVERYONE! Serves them right. Odin signals for Takuma and Billy to follow him, but not before Takuma watches big mysterious tiger guy stop Blackout with a suplex. We finish things off with Takuma and Billy on a plane heading for Madison Square Garden (how specific) and we see and injured Odin return to his grain fields and his Catherine. This was a great way to conclude this story! I really enjoyed it. And while the Odin storyline was a little last minute, seeing the payoff was nice and I teared up a bit for the poor guy. It played out well and dare I say it was the best payoff to a story yet in the series. I'm not sure if it's the end for all the other GWM guys involved, but if it is, at least it ended well. Episode 21 After last week's episode where we had some storyline progression and an ending to "Hell in the Hole," I think things are off the rails again, especially bad since we are closing in on the end of the second season. We start out with a comparison to what the two kitties are up to. Tiger Mask W is in the main event of a New Japan show teaming with Tanahashi against Okada and Yoshi-Hashi. Tiger and Tanahashi win to the roar of the crowd. Meanwhile elsewhere Tiger The Dark and Kevin Anderson are in an opening match against the Metal Brothers. Wow, do those guys looks familiar! Dark and Kevin win to an anemic response and apathetic crowd. However, the real info to be gathered here is that the mysterious new Tiger guy is named "The Third" and he is the GWM World Champion. He wrestles in the main event again Bigfoot. Uninspired name aside, he looks like a discolored Kinnikuman villain. I can tell right now that NJPW will dressed some gaijin up in that getup and have him wrestle Kota Ibushi in the next live action tiger Mask W match. Mr. X then notifies Tiger the Dark and Kevin they will be going to Japan for the next tour and after Mr. X tells Miss X to make sure the Japanese takeover actually happens this time, The Third says he's going to Japan too. Once at the Max Dome, Dark accidently gets tagged in the face by Kevin during a sparring session and goes to see the doctor. The doc tells him to take off his mask so he can treat Takuma, and when he does Ruriko walks in and recognizes him as "The pudding guy" from when he visited Fujii. She swears not to spill the beans on Tiger the Dark's identity. Meanwhile, Haruna has a meeting with Miss X. X wants a full participation in the next tour, and in a funny bit Haruna jokes about it being for herself. Haruna asks for a raise for tiger and Miss X just gives it to her. Yeah, That's not how it works! We get more whining from Naoto about Ruriko before we get to the night's matches when Tiger the Dark is facing Mike Rodriguez. Miss X tells Kevin Anderson that Tiger the Dark needs to connect with the fans more or else he won't get any higher than where he is. That never stops Roman Reigns! *ba dum pish*. Takuma says the hell with that, if he beats Tiger Mask the fans will just follow him and that is that. Tiger Mask, on the other hand, is facing El Caracas, a GWM Luchador that was one of the guys the GWM snatched from The mother of Saboten from a few episodes back. Tiger wins the match, but just barely and with a Chicken Wing submission oddly. After the match tiger confronts Caracas in the locker room and tells him he needs to go back to Mexico and his home wrestling company. This gathers a crowd in the hallway, including Tiger the Dark who tells him off by saying the strong takes all and the weak lose. Tiger Mask comes back with that the man hiding under that tiger mask couldn't beat him. You kinda asked for that one Naoto. They of course fight, but it is broken up. We end with Miss X saying that this will help hype up their match in the next tour. Ugh. this one was all over the place with all kinds of storylines. It tried to establish way too much in a single episode and was like a hyperactive ferret that someone gave a ring of cars keys to. And worse of all is, even with all that, we still don't know half of what is going on. The one thing this episode did accomplish as if we didn't already figure out, is that Naoto is kind of a little bitch. He mopes and complains because his kinda girlfriend is way richer than he is, and then gets all preachy to a guy he has never even met. Considering Caracas's response, he is probably getting paid a lot more money than he would from that insane woman and he probably needs to money for a damn good reason. I'm going to give this stuff some time to see it play out since we've still got some episodes left to make things clearer.   Episode 22 This episode shows what seems to be the big trade off that shows itself in this series. We have a single clear story to be told. It is a nice story that plays itself out from beginning to end. The trade off? It's a filler episode that has jack all to do with the overall plot. It is a nice story don't get me wrong, but it is completely forgettable in the long run. This episode centers around Fukuwara Mask. The big guy is talking with the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for a little town he likes to visit during his tours, but the town has fallen on hard times with all the shops closing and people leaving. So he comes up with the idea of holding a wrestling event called "The Fukuwara Wrestling Mishmash" and put up all kinds of posters for it. Too bad he hasn't actually asked anyone on those posters to be on the show. He basically cons Haruna by saying he knows about her being Spring Tiger and sweetens the deal with the fans voting for the MVP of the night getting 10 Million. So both Tiger Mask and Spring Tiger will be there. He then begs Yuji Nagata into getting some NJPW guys to go by promising to appear on the next tour for them. Later we see the few other wrestlers he has gathered along with them like The Candy Pair and Wakamatsu, along with a few other nameless shlubs. The guys hauling the ring are stuck in traffic, so Yuji calls up and has the IWGP ring rushed over instead. And you won't believe who is actually driving the truck! Tetsuya Naito and Evil?!? They have a weird thing with Naito as he shows up in the most random of times in this series, but this takes the cake. He is asked to be o the show, but he will only do so if he is in the main event. No problems there! We see some of the matches from the show. The Candy Pair (with Milk returning from her appendicitis from a few episodes back), take on Spring Tiger and some woman named Viper. Yuji Nagata and Wakamatsu taking on two unknown guys, and the main event of Tiger Mask and Fukuwara Mask taking on Naito and Evil. The match literally goes all over the place, but the good guys win out in the end. We wrap up with Haruna in a hot spring with the Candy Pair as she complains about Fukuwara winning the MVP of the night and the money by stuffing the ballot. Mint actually comes onto Haruna by saying she has a great body and should be a wrestler and little Haruna takes that with as much embarrassment that a comment like that would. Between that and feeling her up before Spring Tiger's debut, I'd say Mint has a thing for Haruna. Sure, this episode is pure filler. This won't lead to anything down the road. But damn if this was a fun little episode. This beat the Saboten luchador episode by a mile as it doesn't get too out there and keeps things believable. It's not trying to be something it's not. So while this is unimportant and filler, it is a nice episode to watch. The shows were enjoyable, but it showed the big weakness of the show. you either have clear stories being told, but completely useless, or you have muddled stuff where they cram in as much plot as they can into 20 something minutes. There really doesn't seem to be an end goal this season so we will have to see where all the meandering goes.
Tiger Mask W photo
We go to Hell and then a hot spring!
We are back as Tiger Mask W rolls on. The second season has been all over the place and doesn't seem to have much direction. Even though the plot advances in baby steps, we still get some storyline development. Naoto and Ruri...

Strong Style: G1 26 is here!

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

Strong Style: Makin' it Rain

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

Strong Style: Aerial Assassin vs Time Splitter

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

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 17-19

Feb 20 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 17 Togi Makabe has a sweet tooth. That's it! Okay okay. I suppose I'll keep going. So it's fairly common knowledge to New Japan fans that Togi Makabe has a huge sweet tooth. This episode is devoted to that. As NJPW come into another town for their rural tour, everyone is running away from Makabe for some reason. Tiger and Haruna have no idea what is going on as Makabe shows up dragging Honma with him. Turns out he likes to go to the local sweet shops in the town's they are in and he blogs about it. Haruna likes the idea of stuffing her face so the four of them go into town looking for the town's local sweets. This is the whole episode folks. So it turns out that each place they go to, the restaurants are sold out of the thing Makabe blogged about. This goes on and on a bunch of times before one of the owners tells them that bunch of beefy foreigners bought all their desserts. Miss X's assistant randomly shows up, but the GWM aren't the ones buying up the desserts. At this point, I will mention this is the first real showing for Honma and it's actually hilarious. They animated him so it seems like in every scene he just looks completely lost and not knowing what is going on. His voice, though.. It is not accurate so much as you can actually understand what he is saying! It's close, don't get me wrong, but NOTHING compares to the sandpaper-scraped across a gravel road tones that come out of that man's mouth.   So after about 15 restaurants, we find out the culprits are: Yup. The Bullet Club has been eating all these sweets just to mess with him. This leads to a six-man match that turns out is being sponsored by a food company. The idea of getting a tableful of all the food he missed out on sends Makabe in a rage, meanwhile, The Bullet Club are all slow and fatigued from eating all these desserts all day. Things go about as you'd expect. I'm just surprised poor Kenny didn't just hurl all over himself after the match was over. And with Bad Luck Fale, how can you tell the difference?   Yeah, this was a filler episode that was more of an in-joke for Makabe than anything. The sheer goofiness of the episode and Honma's constant look of "huh?" redeems it a bit, but you aren't missing anything here. Episode 18 We finally get some payoff! Of course, it's one of the side plots but it's still some progress none the less. So Haruna has been working out in the gym behind everyone's backs because evidently in the Takaoka residence, no one tells each other anything. Haruna gets a call from her old friends, the Candy Pair: Mint and Milk. It seems the match where they were murdered against Queen and Payne, the American divas, got a lot of people talking and the fans want a rematch. I guess the Candy Pair are gluttons for punishment. Haruna goes to the arena to cheer on her friends when Milk is suddenly struck down with appendicitis and goes to the hospital. Mint can't find anyone to tag with and Miss X says there will be a penalty. Haruna then volunteers to be the partner. Despite the fact that she has never had a match or any formal wrestling training. When even Mint is worried about Haruna getting slaughtered she whips out a big surprise. THE HELL?!? How in the heck did bumbling little Haruna who couldn't even lift the weights or do anything without killing herself get SHREDDED that quickly? Again, stretching that suspension of disbelief like a rubber band holding a piano from an overpass.   So Haruna figures out that if old man Takaoka finds out, she dead meat. She actually has a handmade mask that she was going to market to female wrestling fans on her. She borrows Milk's outfit and calls herself "Spring Tiger".  I guess bringing up the "Tiger Dream" disaster wasn't going to happen huh? Anyway, Spring Tiger and Mint come to the ring to face Queen and Miss X?! Yup. Miss X decides to jump into this because she wanted to make things even (and also wants to kick Haruna's ass). So now we have two pros and two amateurs teaming up. This match should be a real stinker.   What the hell? Despite the fact that Haruna doesn't actually have any real wrestling training she starts cracking out a bunch of leg locks and holds on Miss X. At ringside Fukuwara Mask says that Spring tiger has an "old style" offense of going after the legs and then the arms. So did Takaoka actually train her at some point or not? Anyway the match isn't as terrible and sure enough, Haruna actually gets the first real victory over the GWM by whooping Miss X's butt. Afterward, we get a shower scene of Haruna and we see all the bruises she acquired in the match. How the heck is she going to cover that up? So while this had pretty much nothing to do with Tiger Mask (Tiger and Tiger The Dark were only briefly shown), it actually forwarded a plotline in the series. It's a really bizarre episode in the timeline of things, but I wonder if this story of Haruna becoming a wrestler will continue or not. Episode 19 Hell in the Hole time! So after talking about the subject for weeks, we finally start "Hell in the Hole" that the GWM trainers have been threatening all this time. The episode cuts in some other stuff to break things up, though. We find out that Takaoka expressly promised Haruna's mother he would never let her be a wrestler when he finds the article about Spring Tiger. We get several looks at a lunch date between Naoto and Ririko that really only shows the Max Done has a big shopping mall and a bunch of restaurants in it. I guess that explains why the building looks so much bigger than the 20,000 seat arena we were told about earlier. We go down to the base of the GWM mountain to find Takuma, Odin, and others in jail cells getting mail. We actually get a touching scene with Odin (who we find out is really named Henry) where he gets a letter from back home saying his family is worried that he hasn't had any matches on TV in a while. You feel bad for the guy.   But the real point of this episode is Hell in the Hole. The concept is actually fairly simple. GWM takes it failures and rejects and lets them loose on the side of the mountain. If they bump into each other and fight, the winner of the fight gets granted a weapon. If someone dies, so be it. They are racing up the mountain to meet a mysterious gatekeeper and to challenge them. Cameras are also following them so back at the base a bunch of rich people can make bets on who is going to survive and who is going out. We are introduced to the "party" and.... What the hell? Who is that? Is that Tiger King from the original show? What in the world is going on with this? Whoever he is, he seems to be in control of the whole thing, despite Mr. X being right there. I dunno. Anyway, we get introduced to the nine competitors: Black Python, Red Death Mask, Takuma (not wearing his Tiger the Dark gear), Kevin Anderson, Ricardo (The guy Takuma threw off the mountain in episode 1), Billy the Kidman, Odin, and two other shlubs named Cox and Phantom. A funny moment as they are introduced as Black Python and Red Death Mask are given big applause while Odin barely gets anything. Poor guy just can't get a break. This is the part where the series enters that violent and unnerving area again. Much like the match with Red Death Mask a number of episodes back, the show doesn't really pull any punches here either. They don't expressly say that guys are killed, but they come pretty damn close. It gets bloody in some parts as well. The episode finishes with four of the wrestlers left face off, much to the enjoyment of the rich bastards watching the whole thing.   This episode is much needed. After weeks of goofy filler episodes, we finally get down to some real plot and moving the story forward. We haven't seen much from the GWM side of things and Takuma has been overlooked in this series for a while. Hopefully, things start getting back on track.  But wait! We have real world Tiger Mask news as well! New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that on March 6, in Ota-ku, Tokyo (get it?) IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada will face Tiger Mask W in the main event of the NJPW 45th anniversary show! Okada laid down the challenge after the Feb. 5 show. The match will be nontitle. And as an added bonus,there will be a"preview" on March 1, Okada will team up with his manager Gedo to face Tiger Mask W and Tiger Mask IV. For the first time, old school and new will team up in a real life ring!
Tiger Mask W photo
More filler than a three-hour RAW
Tiger Mask W seems to have an ongoing struggle with itself. It seems to keep coming off the rails more times than the mine cart in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It sometimes looks like the animators are entertaining t...

Strong Style: Super Juniors Finals!

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

Strong Style: Bring on the Juniors!

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

Strong Style: Wrapping up WrestleKingdom 11

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

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 14-16 and more!

Jan 29 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 14 So here we are after the big reveal that Yellow Devil was not who everyone hoped he was. You would think this episode would be a big step into where things go next and in a way it is, just not in the direction I was expecting. On the GWM side of things, Takuma confronts Billy the Kidman on the plane about Yellow Devil. Billy is in rough shape in a hard neck collar, but Takuma roughs him up anyway. Turns out the Yellow Mask from 3 years before is a mystery and no one knows who he is or where he is now. Kevin has to pull Takuma off of Kidman. Later when Takuma and Kevin are going back to the Tiger's Den, Takuma explains the whole thing to Kevin. Once in the bottom of the mountain, Odin is overjoyed that the "great hope of the Tiger's Den" has failed and will be the tackling dummy for rookies now. Takuma decides to enter "Hell in the Hole" instead of rotting away down here. Kevin also signs up, and Odin finally does as well. Meanwhile, Miss X is having problems of her own. It seems that the GWM can't draw flies in their new arena and they are losing money FAST. In a conference with Mr. X. he tells her that she was only allowed to live after Tiger Mask won the tournament, but that it was time to exploit him to fill the arena. Later Miss X tells Tiger that he has to appear on the GWM cards or else he will have to pay a huge penalty. Sucks to be you, dude. Now, if this was all to the episode it would actually be interesting. Instead, that is only the first ten minutes. THE REST of the episode of is Naoto running around to go on a totally-not-a-date date with Ruriko, Daisuke's nurse at the hospital who wants to go see the matches at the Sumo Hall. So a majority of the episode is Naoto running around trying to avoid Haruna and wrestle (against Bad Luck Fale of all people) as well as be with Ruriko. This has 80s sitcom humor all over it and is just a waste of time. Why can't Naoto tell Haruna or even Takaoka that he is doing this is beyond me? Anyway, this all leads to Ruriko saying at the end of the night that she is leaving her job at the hospital, since it was a job her Father got her, and becoming a ringside nurse for the GWM at the Max Dome. So they spent almost an entire episode of bad romantic comedy just to set up that Ruriko and Naoto will be at the Max Dome together, but that Ruriko doesn't know that Naoto is Tiger Mask. Ummm okay. This episode did provide some good story points coming off the last episode. You at least know what both sides are up to, but the romantic stuff between Naoto and Ruriko really doesn't do anything for me. I'm hoping this isn't the main storyline for the rest of the season, but it looks like it will be a major one. Episode 15 Oh boy. This episode. This will stretch your suspension of Disbelief like a high tension rubber band. So the GWM has Tiger Mask bound to appear at the Max Dome, and it works to increase profits as having him on the bill sells out the arena in advance. Miss X holds a press conference to announce Tiger Mask's opponent and it is Bigfoot. Yeah. I think the animators got a little too fanciful with this one. He appears to be over 9 feet tall and demonstrates how awesome he is by cutting down a tree with only his grip. I'm sorry but this is stupid. Yeah, it's a cartoon I know, but up until now it has kept things largely very realistic (mostly) and didn't stretch things beyond the realm of the plausible. This crap pretty much kills it. They try to justify it by having a flashback later from the Original tiger Mask show by talking about Gorilla Man, but that doesn't really help. However, another announcement is made that plays into one of the other subplots. Remember the Divas match from the Masked World Tournament? Well, it seems those two women, Queen and Payne are now teaming up! They will compete for the first ever GWM Diva tag team title. Their opponents are The Candy Pair: Mint and Milk.   The differences are noticeable. What is also interesting here is that they actually say "divas" here instead of Joshi. After the conference is over, our favorite reporter asked Miss X about Tiger the dark and Miss X says he joined the "farm team" and goes on a spiel about how sometimes you lose everything after only one loss and how it makes you better building yourself back up. Back at the garage, Haruna is in awe of the women and tries to train by lifting weights. Of course, she puts to much weight on the bar and can't lift it.   At the arena, the show begins with Fukuwara Mask against Tiger the Dark's other running buddy Mike Rodriguez. Backstage Tiger Mask goes to check on Ruriko in the medical office, under the guess of wanting a roll of medical tape. She secretly tells Tiger she is rooting for him. I should also mention Mike hit on her right out of the medical office earlier, so she must be loving her new job. Haruna goes out and happens to come across the dressing room for the Candy Pair. She is amazed that they are fighting Americans on the GWM stage and they are only 20 years old. She might be impressed, but most Japanese women get into wrestling much younger than that so it's not THAT big of a deal.   Things don't go well for the Candy Pair. They pretty much get massacred. Haruna goes by their dressing room and they are crying. Ruriko and the doctor come by and eventually are let in. Makes you just want to dive in there and fight doesn't it Haruna? Tiger's match goes as you'd expect. You can only win by a knock out 10 count or "forfeit". I think they mean submission here as I've never heard of a match where you expressly have to win by not having the other guy show up. He does the smart thing by going for speed and technique against the big guy. But it turns out that Bigfoot has better stamina and can mat wrestle way more than anyone thought. Tiger overcomes the odds and Bigfoot well... you can make your own "A giant wrestler walks into a bar" joke here. This episode kept the subplots going that's for sure. I'm really not a fan of them stretching reality here with Bigfoot, but that's just me. The Haruna wanting to be a wrestler storyline has me wondering how it will pay off. At first, it just seems like a silly thing so we can get bits of Haruna trying to train and failing, but seeing the Candy Pair crushed like that makes me wonder if things are going to get more serious with that. The Ruriko storyline was there as well, but not nearly as dominant as last week's show. So if anything this episode had me wondering more than anything.  Episode 16 What the hell is this? Did I accidently get an episode of Ranma 1/2 or something? This episode may be funny but it is completely useless! The plot of this episode is that the New Japan guys are holding a show in some village in the middle of nowhere to a bunch of old people. Along for the ride is this woman who is a big shot Mexican promoter. She is trying to get Nagata to let her have Tiger Mask to go to Mexico. Evidently, GWM bought up all the big Mexican stars and Lucha Libre is suffering for it. Nagata explains that Tiger is freelance and that he has a manager. She literally kicks him in the junk for that. So promoter woman calls Haruna and works out a deal where he would go to Mexico for a one time match for 5,000. You can already guess where this is going since she doesn't exactly say 5,000 of what she is offering. Haruna thinks it's dollars and thinks they are getting $50,000 for one match. Haruna hops in her car and bolts right to the village only to find out it was 5,000 pesos or only 278 bucks. They then hatch out a wager that if Tiger loses the match tonight against the promoter's son, The Saboten, Tiger will have to do it but if Tiger wins, they get a vacation in Acapulco. While the other wrestlers are directed to the villages secret hot spring, Tiger and Haruna go explore the villages old school. Lucha manager directs her son to go follow Tiger and hurt him before the fight, but he is so stupid he hurts himself more than anything including falling out of a second-story window. Meanwhile, at the spring, We have peepers! It's the village's old ladies taking pictures! Nagata and the boys are about to have them arrested when the mayor of the village says they are taking pictures of the guys so that the ladies send them to women in other villages in the area so that they bring their husbands to the show. With that, every is willing to pose for pics. And if the idea of a septuagenarian taking a cell phone pic of Bad Luck Fale in nothing but a towel makes you vomit in your mouth a bit, you aren't alone. As if I'm expecting anything other than lunacy at this point, Tiger and Saboten have their match. It's as insane as you should expect at this point as Tiger is attacked before the bell but quickly regains control. Mexican promoter lady then attacks Tiger and gives her son a cactus (WTF?!?) to use. He sticks his own mother in the ass with it and she flips out and chases him out the door. Saboten is counted out and Tiger wins as all the old people throw money and seating pads in the ring like a sumo match. Even Tiger Mask himself wonders why we have this episode. Yeah, this episode is complete filler and has absolutely no effect on the story at all. That being said it was funny in a slapstick kind of way. This feels like a typical anime troupe type of episode for yuks than anything else. Completely passable. Well, this batch of episodes was completely all over the place. They may be setting up things for down the road but that hot spring episode really makes me think they are killing time and stumped on ideas. If this kind of inconsistency keeps going, it's going to be a long road for the rest of the 39 episodes. Bonus Match! We go to the real life Tokyo Dome for this match from WrestleKingdom 11 on January 4, 2017. Since this match won't be shown on AXS TV, We are covering it here instead. This match kicked off the big show and we have ROH's Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino calling the action for us. TV Animation Special Match: Tiger Mask W vs. Tiger the Dark Tiger the Dark makes his way out first. We get a Crunchyroll plug from Kevin Kelly as he tries to explain how good the show is, even explaining Tiger the Dark's backstory accurately. The man under the mask is no big secret here as it is former Ring of Honor star ACH, who not only is a huge anime fan but also used to dress like Goku and Luffy for some of his matches. While to us fans this might not look like the best spot in the world, he is kicking off the biggest show of the year and gets to cosplay from a show he probably watches. So he is probably in hog heaven right now. Tiger Mask W comes to the ring first and he is accompanied by Suzuko Mimori, the voice of Haruna on the show. She is cosplaying Haruna here. Steve Corino talks about him and his 3-year-old son watching this show. Steve also puts in that the two men under the Masks will give it their all, even if the moves aren't the same from the show. I've heard that Kota complained about the Mask he wore when he wrestled as Tiger Mask last time and it does appear the mask has been redone slightly. The Bell rings and we are off! Tiger with a headlock and he gets shot off into the ropes and gets a shoulderblock. He hits the ropes again, Dark with a leapfrog and gets in and armdrag to take Tiger down. Tiger gets in an armdrag of his own and then both guys go for dropkicks at the same time. They both kip up and we have a staredown to the applause of the Tokyo fans. As they circle around Kevin explains how Haruna calls herself Tiger's manager and that Steve Corino should check out Miss X on the show. "Why is that? I'm a married man?". Dark gets Tiger in the corner and hits a strike before trying to whip Tiger. Tiger tries the reverse but Dark comes out with a backflip into a dropkick. Tiger slides outside to ringside and Dark crisscrosses the ring before launching himself into a backflip and clears the top rope before crashing down on Tiger! Dark throws Tiger back in the ring and tries for a cover but only gets two. Kevin makes a quick plug for Tiger Mask W's second season as Dark picks Tiger up and hits a chop. Corino mentions that both these guys are trained professionals ("Maybe even well known, we don't know.") and still want to win. Dark lands a spinning forearm and goes for a clothesline, but tiger ducks and lands another sweet dropkick. Dark goes stumbling out of the ring. Not a good place to be in this match!  Tiger points to the heavens before launching off a moonsault from the middle turnbuckle to Dark on the floor! Big applause for that! Tiger rolls dark back in the ring at the count of 14 and goes right for the pin. He gets 2. As they stand up Tiger launches into a lightning quick palm thrust and kick combination that literally wows the crowd. With Dark seated Tiger goes for a swinging kick and a standing moonsault, but Dark gets the knees up. Dark tries to get Tiger in the Dark driver but Tiger resists. He instead locks tiger into the Dark lock instead. Both Kevin and Steve mention both moves as favorites of Tiger the Dark in the show. Tiger tries to power out of it, but Dark gives a shot to the ribs before releasing the hold. Dark runs in and Tiger counters quickly by scooping Dark up for the tombstone, but Dark reverses it and nails the dark driver! He goes for the pin but only gets 2. Tiger is the dark is SHOCKED! As Kevin Kelly goes over all the cameos you will see in the series, Dark is left scrambling before he snatches Tiger up for a double underhook suplex but Tiger counters out and gets Dark into a waistlock. Dark wiggles out and goes for a clothesline but Tiger ducks it and locks in a full nelson before switching into a waistlock again and nails the German suplex! Dark gets up and Tiger grabs him in a double chicken with for the tiger Suplex! pin attempt only gets two. Tiger picks him up again in the double underhook and lifts him up. He then picks Dark up real high and hits the Tiger bomb and gets the 3 count! Tiger Mask W wins! "So the light shines bright here in Tokyo dome."- Kevin Kelly. These guys were in a bit of a tough spot here. They were the opener for this huge show and essentially went out there to promote a cartoon more than anything. they didn't get a huge amount of time, but in the end, both guys made the most of it. NJPW really put an effort into this as not only did the wrestlers themselves know how to go with the moves from the show, but the broadcasters genuinely sounded like they knew what they were talking about. I think it was a great job on all parts, and better than anything the WWE would have done in a similar situation. This was no comedy match or crapfest with fans booing it to death. This was fun and entertaining while still doing its job. Good match from everyone.
Tiger Mask W photo
Real life Tiger Mask as well!
We are back with the second season of Tiger Mask W. The big match between Tiger Mask and Yellow Devil ended with disappointment for Naoto as well as Takuma as their quest for revenge hits a roadblock. Where do we go from here? Let's see!

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Strong Style: Off to NEVERland


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

Strong Style: Thy WrestleKingdom come!


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

Strong Style: Best Match Ever

Jan 15 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35489:6017:0[/embed] The Tokyo Dome is ready for some action and the setup is amazing! We get a much different opening with an announcer telling us what to expect tonight and a different opening sequence telling us that this is WrestleKingdom 11. So if I were to guess, this is an American exclusive, instead of a re-edit of the Japanese clip show this is based from. Sweet IWGP Title: "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada vs. "The Cleaner" Kenny Omega The set up here really starts one year ago. After losing the Jr. heavyweight title at WK10, Kenny turned on A.J. Styles and took over the Bullet Club, declaring he was moving up to heavyweight. He had runs with the IC Title and the NEVER 6 man belts but his eyes were on the prize. He declared he was going to win the G1 tournament MONTHS in advance and win the belt at Tokyo Dome, since, as he said, New Japan was protecting their guys and that would be the only way to have a chance to fight for the belt. Lo, and behold he wins the damn thing earning the shot. Right before this show Omega and the Club got to Okada by driving him through a table with the One-winged-angel to bang up the champ a bit but really just pissed him off. We start right off with Kenny coming to the ring with his Terminator entrance. A video plays of him reenacting the "clothes" scene from Terminator1, only with him speaking Japanese. No trash cans or brooms, he comes out in a leather jacket, half mask, and a prop shotgun. Won't see that in WWE. Okada comes out with belt and Gedo. Okadabucks galore! JR mentions Omega was the first foreigner to win the G1 Climax tournament and first Canadian to headline in the Tokyo Dome. Back from commercial as Omega crumples a fake Okadabuck. Bell rings and there is a stare down before they tepidly circle. Lock up and Okada gets the headlock and Omega turns it into a waistlock that is turned into a series of armlocks. Okada goes for the leg for an anklelock. He slides up into a headlock. Omega goes for the pin but it doesn't even get one. They get up and Omega gets in an elbow to break the hold. Kenny gets in some forearms and kicks but as he gets to their feet Okada counters. Kenny then turns around and gets the headlock back on and really grinds it in. Okada counters into the back suplex but Kenny holds on to the headlock. They get back up and Okada starts elbowing out of the headlock. Okada whips Kenny into the corner and goes for the elbow but Kenny counters and gets a sunset flip into a pin attempt that Okada breaks out of. Kenny goes for another pin but Okada gets out. They get back up and go for a lock up where Okada pushes him back to the ropes and gives a nice little pat to Kenny for the clean break. They whip and reverse back at forth before Okada gets Kenny on the top rope and goes for the dropkick but Kenny kicks him. Okada goes in but Kenny slides over him and tries for the one-winged- angel but Okada slips out. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Kenny counters and then spits in Okada's face. He poses for a bit before rolling outside the ring. He walks around and kills time. he teases coming into the ring but Okada keeps going forward and the ref stops hm. Finally, Okada's had enough and goes out after him. He chases Kenny right back in the ring and Kenny goes for the ropes but that only serves him to run right into Okada's boot. That's what you get for stalling jerk. Okada sets him up and lands the short dropkick right to Kenny's face! Kenny rolls to the floor in a splat. Okada sends Kenny right into the barricade right in front of Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly. Okada goes for the boot but Kenny catches it. Kenny goes for the suplex but Okada counters it and drapes on the barrier and hits the DDT. Okada grabs a table for revenge from last month but Omega gets a cheap shot to end that. Okada pushes Omega over the barrier again and comes FLYING over the barrier with a body splash to the ground. They get back inside with Okada on the advantage with a slam and a reverse chinlock.  Omega elbows out and tries the offense but Okada gets a neckbreaker into a pin attempt for two. Kenny gets up only to get whipped in, but Kenny ducks the big boot and gets in a low dropkick on Okada's leg. He rakes Okada's eyes with the boots and gets in knife-edge chop on Okada. JR mentions that Japan is the only place someone can fire off a knife-edge and the crowd doesn't go "Woo!". Kenny fires off a forearm into the back that sends Okada down. Omega tries a few elbows but they all miss. Kenny hits another strike to send Okada back down. Kenny goes for the pin and Okada kicks out. Okada gets whipped in but counters with strikes, only to get kneed in the gut. Okada gets a shoot in on the pick up, but Kenny comes off the ropes with a rana to send Okada outside. Kenny gets his Terminator on and does an AMAZING swan dive over the top rope! Flying Canuck! Back from commercial with Kenny driving Okada's back against the apron. He chucks Okada back into the ring and climbs up and hits a flying dropkick to the back of Okada's head! Kenny goes for the pin but Okada gets to the ropes. How is he conscious? Whiplash that bad should have put him in a wheelchair. Kenny locks in an Arabian clutch but Okada gets to the ropes again. Kenny goes to finish it off with a powerbomb position but Okada's blocking. Kenny hits a forearm and an elbow to the back of the head again. Okada counters as he scoops Kenny up and hits a fireman's carry drop. Both guys are hurt but getting up as Okada gets in some solid and quick elbow strikes and finally a double stomp and a DDT. Okada tries the pin but only gets two. Kenny counters the pick up with some elbows but when Kenny goes to the ropes Okada counters into a flapjack. Okada locks in his deep in debt submission hold and Kenny looks about to pass out but he gets to the ropes. Okada gets up and drags Omega over. He goes for the elbow but Kenny kips up and Okada goes right over him. They tussle in the corner but Okada picks up Kenny into the Alabama slam position and drops Omega into the neckbreaker. Okada goes up and nails the elbow to the stomach but Kenny gets outside. As Okada goes for the change, Kenny ducks and Okada goes over the barrier. The Bucks start yelling at the broadcasters to move their tables back as Okada can barely get up and Omega flies with a HIGH altitude flying moonsault over the ropes and over the barrier to nail Okada! Serious air! Just as Okada gets back at ringside Kenny nails him, drops a table on him, and hits a double stomp from the apron! Kenny tosses Okada back in the ring. He picks Okada up and hits a powerbomb but Okada kicks out! Kenny picks him up and hits a doctor bomb! Okada kicks out again! The Bucks have set a table up at ringside. That can't be good. Kenny goes to the apron and drags Okada on out. The ref pulls Kenny back and Okada rolls back in the ring to save himself. Kenny just starts drilling elbows and strikes into Okada's back. Okada whipped into the buckle. Kenny goes for the shot but runs right into a boot, and then a double boot. Kenny counters and picks Okada up for a Finlay roll into a moonsault. Kenny goes for a full nelson but Okada strikes out. Kenny goes for the charge but Okada reverses to set Omega on the top buckle and hits his high dropkick to send Kenny over the ropes to the floor. Okada goes to pick Kenny up on the apron and they fight over the ringside table on the apron. Kenny goes for the One-winged-angel through the table but Okada slides back into the ring. They exchange shots and Okada is knocked into the ropes. Kenny charges but Okada tosses him over the top rope and through the table! We come back from commercial as the Bucks and the ringside doctors are looking over Kenny. Okada says the hell with it and throws Omega back in. Okada scales the ropes and nails an amazing dropkick with Kenny in his knees. Okada goes for the pin but only gets two. He scales the ropes again and nails the elbow drop! He calls for the rainmaker but he can't Omega to stand. Okada nearly gets it but Kenny gets into the ropes. Okada lands a kick to the back. Okada goes for a DDT but Kenny pushes forward into a tackle in the buckle. Okada answers with an elbow but Omega counters with a heel strike. He sits Okada on the top and goes up but Okada elbows him off. Kenny goes back up again with a full nelson and hits the dragon suplex with Okada landing right on his head! Kenny goes for the pin but Okada kicks out! Kenny scoops him up and drives Okada down neck first on his knee! Kenny goes for a running knee but misses and Okada gets the German suplex! Okada goes for the rainmaker but Kenny ducks and lands the knee. He then hits the step up knee! He goes for a third but Okada hits the dropkick! Okada goes for the rainmaker but Kenny counters, he tries the high knee but Okada counters. Kenny then nails the reverse rana! Kenny goes for the angel but Okada counters out! Okada blocks the strike and when Kenny goes for a rana Okada gets him into the tombstone and drops him on his head! He hits the rainmaker but Omega kicks out! DAMN!  Okada goes to pick Kenny up but Omega keeps elbowing Okada in the gut. Okada backs up and hits a low dropkick that makes Kenny shoot back like a chicken from an air cannon. Okada picks Kenny up for another tombstone but Kenny counters into a package piledriver! Okada somehow kicks out! JR announces at this point this is the longest match in the Tokyo Dome's history as we are over 40 something minutes in. They stagger back up and exchange forearms back and forth faster and faster before Omega gets the quick dragon suplex and a knee but when he goes for the pin Okada kicks out! Kenny hits another knee! He goes for the angel but Okada blocks it and turns it around into the rainmaker! Okada can't make the cover! He gets up and goes for it again but Omega nails him in the face with knees and boots but Okada nails the rainmaker anyway.  Okada goes for another rainmaker but Kenny counters and tries one for his own but Okada slips under into the ropes but is met with a dropkick. Kenny nails a knee strike! He goes for the angel but Okada slips out into a tombstone! He hits the 4rth rainmaker! Okada goes for the pin and gets the three count! He defended the title! Holy crap! Spoiler warnings for the 2017 awards, this is match of the year. As Kenny is carried away by the Bucks, Okada gets on the mic. He actually praises Kenny as the strongest foreigner he ever faced. He mentions that there is a lot of new faces for this year's event and thanks the fans for coming out to see the show. It is a heavy burden to carry NJPW on his shoulders but he is doing it. As long as he is carrying NJPW, he will make it rain. As the show ends, they run a memorial graphic to AXS TV executive Darrell Ewalt, who amongst many other jobs, was the executive producer of NJPW on AXS TV. Without him, this kind of action wouldn't have happened on American airwaves. So cheers to you Mr. Ewalt and thank you.   THIS match is one of, if not the best match I've seen on this show EVER. There is a reason both hardcore and casual wrestling fans are talking about this match. It went damn close to an hour and stands over anything in a country known for its amazing wrestling. If you are reading this, FIND THIS MATCH!!! While I'd prefer the Kelly/Corino commentary version, this one was just fine. JR didn't really have time for his usual follies and was right into it as we were. It was the perfect match, and this presentation didn't hold it back. Be sure to check out next week as we take a look at some more of this amazing show! See ya!  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
WrestleKingdom 11 time!
Hello Japan wrestling fans and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV! We are back after a break and we start off the first show of the year with WrestleKingdom 11's MAIN EVENT! It...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 11-13

Jan 09 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 If you love training videos then this is the episode for you! This episode takes place just after last week's show has ended. Tiger has a week until his next round match against Tiger the Dark and he needs to come up with a new killer move. Wakamatsu and Tanahashi invite him to train at the NJPW dojo, which Tiger agrees too. This pisses off Takaoka who is so old school he talks about a bodyslam or keylock being a killer move once. Anyway, most of the episode is literally a commercial for New Japan as both Tanahashi and Okada (where has he been this whole time?) take turns beating the crap out of Tiger Mask at the New Japan Dojo. I have to admit the animators must have made a trip to the Tokyo building because they get the inside of the training hall scary accurate! Kudos to them for that. Another interesting point in all this is a random appearance of Tetsuya Naito. He doesn't play a part in the story and is only on for a few minutes, telling Tiger Mask to chill out and Tranquillo and that's it. That was... useless. What the hell was the point of that? Unless Los Ingobernalbes show up to help Tiger Mask beat Tiger the Dark there was no point to this cameo at all. It literally would have made more sense to have Nagata, Fukuwara Mask or hell, even Gorilla Jeet Sign show up here more than that! After his time at the gym, Tanahashi and Wakamatsu take Tiger to a waterfall to stand under, with Tanahashi saying it was something Hirooki Goto did to find his finisher, to which Wakamatsu said that it was to collect himself when he lost to Okada. Either way, Hirooki Goto hasn't even appeared on this show so unless you are a fan of New Japan wrestling, it will just fly over your head. Outside of watching Tiger get his clock cleaned a number of times and pointless mentions and cameos, We see what the GWM guys are doing with their training! It's all atmosphere and pressure chamber space age technology with them as it's just like the training montage from Rocky IV. Tiger the Dark wants to be just as strong as Yellow Devil. We also see Takuma go to the hospital where his father is, but he still can't face him so he leaves some pudding with the nurse and leaves. His father figures out where the pudding from his hometown came from and tries to go after Takuma but he is still wheelchair bound. This episode flat out was not very good. It seemed more like an advertisement from NJPW and its top wrestlers more than anything that really advanced the plot. Nothing here couldn't have been accomplished in a 2-minute flashback and didn't need to be played out like this. Total skippable episode. Episode 12 It's time for the next match as the semifinals of the masked world tournament are tonight. However Tiger is still training with Tanahashi to try and get his new finishing move down at the NJPW gym. I can't say this is a good idea, but this is anime and that changes things. We even get a little bit of Haruna training at the home gym a little bit as she is toying with the idea of becoming a wrestler. The training bag ends up hitting her and knocking her down to the floor. The big show starts promptly at 3 pm and Tiger Mask, Dragon Young, and It's-The-Ace are not there. Tonight's matches are an opener of a couple of jobbers, Ken Anderson and Mike take on Poseidon and Dragon Young, and the two semifinals. Tiger and his buddies don't show up until the opening match is just ending so poor Poseidon is standing there just as his partner shows up (in a cab no less) and they run to the ring and promptly lose because they keep hitting each other. They then start fighting. Umm, okay. Yellow Devil and It's-The-Ace are up next and no surprise that Tanahashi does more damage to Yellow Devil than anyone else. Were you expecting any different? But since NJPW is producing this, Tanahashi loses without actually being pinned or submitted because screw you that's why! When your main villain of the season can't be bothered to pin a dude, that doesn't really look all that great when the final happens does it? Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark finally go at it. It is actually really disappointing as the match really isn't much to talk about. Tiger the Dark unveils his own new special move, a modified Octopus hold, and Tiger nearly passes out. But Haruna had invited Daisuke and the nurse to watch the show! They arrive just in time and not only does this revive Tiger, but Tiger the Dark freaks out, as you could imagine. It doesn't help that Daisuke is cheering for Tiger Mask and not him. Well, stupid, if you'd actually face you father and tell him what you are doing this wouldn't have happened now would it? Anyway, Tiger Mask unveils his new move, which is a flying knee to the face. Seriously, he got his ass kicked by NJPW's guys, stood in a waterfall, and got jabbed at with sticks on fire just to come up with a flying cartwheel knee to the face. This doesn't put Tiger the Dark down, it just splits open his old scar from Yellow Devil and pisses him off. Dark goes to retaliate but just passes out from the blood loss and Tiger Mask wins. This episode was disappointing. It still was able to hit some plot points but man it was like the match with the two tigers was just an afterthought. That match should have taken WAY more of the episode instead of messing around with all the extra crap. This episode wasn't a total disaster, but I would have done this one a whole lot differently. Episode 13 It's now time for the finals of the Masked World Tournament. But first, it's time for a women's match for no particular reason! Yup. GWM puts on a women's match right before the finals, proving that even in an anime, women matches get the death spot on a card. It's kind of weird as the subtitles refer to it as a "divas" match while you clearly hear them say "Joshi". Both describe a women's wrestling match but have much different connotations. Divas was the term the WWE used for women wrestlers but did away with at Wrestlemania last year as many of the women found it demeaning. Joshi conjures up images of the AJPW women's dojo and beating the tar out of 15-year-old girls before throwing them in the ring. Seriously, look up some vids online of that place. Scary. The only point for this is that originally they were supposed to go 30 minutes, letting Yellow Devil and Tiger Mask rest before the fight, but Miss X shortens it to 10 minutes. They don't actually explain it, but the idea is that Tiger Mask just got done a fight while Yellow Devil is sitting back relaxing. As this match is going on Tiger Mask is PISSED. He yells at Hikari going to his dressing room when she tries to get some questions. Turns out that in the match with Tiger the Dark, he actually screwed up his new big move and that kneeing him in the skull was an accident. Botchamania time for Tiger Mask! Meanwhile, Yellow Devil brings up a good point to Miss X, saying a fighter's top fear is the unknown. He then shows that he is not known for his headbutt but will use it against Tiger. The women's match ends with both unconscious on the mat, with them only going 5 minutes meaning not only does Tiger have to turn around and go back out there, but that the GWM needs to stick their women fighters to some endurance training. Tiger Mask and Yellow Devil start the match and Tiger is ready to kill right out of the bell. He tries for big moves like a tombstone but nothing is working. Yellow Devil is just tossing Tiger around before tossing him out of the ring. Tiger gets so furious he dents the metal barrier outside. Daisuke, Takaoka, Haruna, and Fukuwara Mask all notice Tiger is mad and tells him to calm down (THIS would have been a good Naito reference with Tranquillo). Tiger finally calms down and gets back in. It's around this point that Tiger The Dark wakes up and staggers out to watch the fight too. The match sequence is actually pretty good. Much better than the Tiger the Dark fight. Tiger counters Devil's moves but Devil has had enough of that and strangles Tiger with a choke and then headbutts him so hard Tiger starts bleeding. Daisuke freaks out saying that this isn't the Yellow Devil he knows. Everyone else freaks out as Yellow Mask damn near killed Tiger. Devil picks Tiger back up and goes for the choke and headbutt again but Tiger has a mental episode and counters it. He gets Devil back in the corner and finally hits his move correctly to knock Devil out and win the match. It's a corner cartwheel into a lung blower and monkey flip. I'd stick to the knee to the face. He grabs Yellow Devil and we find out that the masked man wasn't who everyone thought it was, pissing tiger off immensely. As he walks to the back in disgust, Tiger the Dark realizes that Tiger Mask is after Yellow Devil as well. After a couple of duds, this was a good episode. The women's match part of it wasn't the greatest, but they delivered in the actual meat of the episode. Since this was the finale of Season 1 (of 3) I wondered what this show would do. They had a climax with plenty of reason to keep watching (as good wrestling should). Not only does Tiger keep fighting, but a seed has been planted between Tiger and Tiger the dark now that they have a common goal.
Tiger Mask W photo
The climax of the tournament
We are back at it with the further adventures of Tiger Mask W after a holiday break. We are at the end of the first season and the GWM's Masked World tournament is in it's second round so let's get started with the action!

Japanator Awards 2016: Soul's picks for the best of the year

Jan 02 // Soul Tsukino
ANIME:   4) Haruchika: Haruta and Chika A series based on light novels, this series was like the scent coming from an air freshener. It wasn't heavy handed, over the top, but it still made you think. The adventures of two old childhood friends who are in a school's band club while solving puzzles is an interesting pitch and it worked well for the few episodes that it had. The series lacked any time to be able to expand on a lot of the characters, but the ones that were shown were funny and made the series really enjoyable. 3) Attack on Titan: Junior High I loved these little toe rags! Since the series finished in January I can include it here. A parody of Attack on titan, this series took what was VERY heavy and made it hilarious. The hardcore fans thought it was a waste of time but I thought it was a fun way to lighten up. A silly series that made me giggle and have a good time. 2) Sailor Moon Crystal I'm sorry but I loved this series! I waded through all the bitching and moaning people did complaining it's not the original series and really liked what was done here. Sure, the art had some issues, but I got into the story just as much with this series as I did when I first saw the original. I'll admit it had its faults but I took a lot more positive out of it than negative. It was a great series to watch and as an old school Sailor Moon fan I got into it. 1) Keijo!!!!!!!! This series should not have been good. This series should have been skewered to death and destroyed. But you know what? I enjoyed it. Other people enjoyed it. This show had me laughing literally every episode with just how insane it really was. This show took fan service and made it an art form with its creativity and not being afraid to be as silly as it could with a concept like this. Under any other circumstances, you'd think this show was have been buried and loathed, but I'll be damned if people aren't enjoying it for what it is. This not only was the biggest surprise for me but the most fun I've had with an anime series in a long time, so damn right I'm making it my top pick! WRESTLING: Match of the Year: Hiroshi Tanahashi v/s Kazuchika Okada WrestleKingdom 10 These guys had a major hill to climb. Not only did they have to the main event the biggest event of the year, but this was a rematch from the year before so they had to do something new. They delivered. The story of Okada never winning in the Tokyo Dome and facing the guy who not only beat him the year before but ALWAYS won in the Tokyo Dome made for a great stage for this contest. They gave it their all and made the match really exciting. Okada finally getting his big win made the story that much sweeter. Junior of the Year: Will Ospreay No one, and I mean NO ONE has made the splash in wrestling this year like Ospreay has. This 23-year-old Englishman shot to superstardom this year and is wanted around the world. He not only became an instant smash in New Japan but also in WCPW in England and Ring of Honor in the United States. Barring injury, this kid will only get bigger and better in 2017. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Dud of the Year: Yoshitatsu Poor Yoshi. Spent a year and a half on the sidelines with a broken neck and finally gets to make his comeback to see it go over like a fart in church. He went from teaming with Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi to teaming with Captain New Japan and cosplaying as Triple H in record time. If there is someone in desperate need of a change in career trajectory, it's this guy. Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks/Jacksons I didn't want to do it. I REALLY wanted to find someone better. I hate these guys with a passion. But there just wasn't anyone else that had the year these guys have had. Multiple tag title reigns in New Japan with the Jr. tag titles as well as runs with the ROH tag belts here in the U.S., these annoying little snots put on some great matches with teams over the last 12 months. So, having to bite down and bear it, these guys are my top team this year. Wrestler of the Year: Tetsuya Naito I thought over this one a lot, with Kenny Omega and Shinsuke Nakamura being possible other choices, but Kenny's got a bigger 2017 ahead of him and Nakamura is in the U.S. full time. Naito was the guy who was never over like Tanahashi, Okada, or Nakamura as a face. He was just an over glorified junior who got main event shots when the champ needed someone to beat. He would get booed out of buildings and while he had great matches, he just couldn't get over that hump with the fans. A radical change in personality and approach later and he has the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands. As the leader of Los Ingobernables, he has become a real threat in New Japan having won both the IWGP World and Intercontinental belts in the last 12 months and while The Bullet Club is teetering on being a bloated parody of itself, Los Ingobernables is primed to take their place. With great matches, big wins, and a style on his own, I give the master of Tranquillo the top spot for the year. OTHER STUFF WTF story of the year: Parents leave kid alone on a mountain Seriously, was there a more f'ed up story than this during the year? Yamato Tanooka's parents try to teach their misbehaving child a lesson by kicking him out of a car on a lonely mountain road, only to find out when they went back for him that the kid has vanished into the bear-infested, cold forest at the base of a volcano? Yamato seemed to be a tough little guy surviving for five days alone before wondering onto a Self Defense Force training base just as it looked like he wouldn't make it. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all the parents out there to NOT DO THIS. Pop Culture fad of the year: PikoTaro I don't think anyone has made so much out of a blend of writing utensils and produce. Dressed like either a pimp or a used car salesman and with dance movies of a drunk uncle at a wedding, this guy arrived out of nowhere to show use what to do with pens and fruit. Now he's on TV,  has many spoofs, and even has a restraint in tribute to his ode to pineapples, apples, and pens.  Gotta love it.   So with that, I bid adeu to 2016. I hope everyone had a happy holiday and may we all find health and good fortune and luck in the next year. See you all in 2017!
Japanator awards photo
Anime,Wrestling, and other stuff
Hey, Gang! It's that time of the year where we look back at the last twelve months and decide what was the best of the best. Since I like to cover more than just animated adventures, I'm putting my stamp on other things Japan related I've been encountered in the last year. So hope on and here is what I think was the best of the best in 2016.

Strong Style: Becoming a Dontaku Otaku!

Dec 18 // Soul Tsukino
We start our first hour with a greeting from Kushida. Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL The first of our CHAOS vs. Los Ingobernables matches stemming from last week's show and Naito winning the title with lots of help from his buddies. Goto has had run-ins with the goobers before so he knows what to expect. EVIL comes out in a cloak, carries a big scythe, and has a glove that had a green laser coming out of the finger. JR asks if Goto has any allegiances making him even less on the ball about Goto joining CHAOS than I was about it. As Goto comes out they meet in the aisle and start fighting at ringside. EVIL eats ring post immediately. Bell rings and EVIL goes into the barrier and then another one. Goto is about to send him to a third but EVIL turns that around and Goto eats the steel. We see Tanahashi at the broadcast table oddly. The ref takes a hard hit and goes down. EVIL grabs a chair and horse collars Goto with it. He grabs another chair and whacks Goto and the first chair. Ouch. We skip ahead with both guys now actually in the ring. EVIL scoops up Goto but Goto counters out with an elbow. He goes to the ropes but EVIL is right there with a clothesline to stop that. EVIL then goes to the ropes but Goto is right there with a clothesline to stop that! Evil tries the ropes again and runs right into a Goto sidekick. Goto goes for another one but EVIL catches him. He goes for the fisherman buster but Goto blocks it and delivers another big side kick and another. They run the ropes but keep countering each other until Goto gets EVIL on his shoulders, but he escapes. Goto goes for a strike but EVIL counters and tries an STO, but Goto counters that by bringing EVIL's head right down on his own knee. Goto hits the ushigoroshi but a pin attempt only gets two. Jim Ross goes off about guys naming their own moves and marketing for some reason while Goto goes for a dragon sleeper, but EVIL reverses it into a fisherman's buster. Both guys struggle to get up and EVIL hits a running clothesline, but Goto is like "Nope." EVIL tries again and the same result. Goto then throws a clothesline to little effect. Goto then tries a tornado clothesline but EVIL just flattens him with a clothesline of his own. Goto is dizzy and EVIL giving him a forearm to the face doesn't help. EVIL presses Goto up and drops him in a powerbomb for two. He senses the end and hits the STO on Goto and scores the pin!  Surprisingly clean win for old bug eyes. Kuazuchika Okada vs. Sanada Okada gets his revenge against Sanada, whose interference directly cost him the title. What a way for Sanada to make his debut for NJPW huh? Welcome to the big leagues kid. Sanada comes out with "coldskull" on his leather jacket and tights. Okay. That explains the skull mask then. Okada comes out with Gedo and Will Ospreay! Bell rings and the lock up. Sanada gets a waistlock, reversed into a wristlock back into the waistlock again. That time under Great Muta wasn't a waste then. Okada goes for his usual mocking on the rope break and Sanada beats him to the punch. Sanada goes for the ropes and gets an elbow for his trouble. He goes down and gets a low dropkick as well. Okada slams him down and gets and over the top senton from the apron. He goes for the cover and gets a two count. Okada runs the ropes, and Sanada gets two leapfrogs before landing an awesome dropkick. Wow, that is impressive! Okada rolls outside and Sanada follows him out. Sanada hits a piledriver on Okada! Sanada rolls in but Okada is having trouble. He finally makes it in at the count of 18. He rolls in and is met with a springboard dropkick that sends Rainmaker right back out again. Sanada then hits a flying suicida! Wow, he wasn't this good when he was in TNA, but then again he wouldn't be the first to have that said about them (Okato anyone?). They roll in and Sanada hits a backdrop suplex for a two count. We come back from the commercial as Sanada goes for a dragon suplex but Okada counters into an armdrag. Okada goes on the offense with a few forearms, but Sanada counters with a few of his own. They go in the corner and Okada with a DDT. He lands the flying elbow but gets a two count. He hits a low dropkick and hits another and a third one, but only gets two on the cover. Okada picks him up and slams him. He hits the Macho Man elbow and signals for the rainmaker. Sanada counters and they go back and forth three times before Sanada gets the dragon sleeper with a body scissors. Okada barely survives it and gets to the ropes. Sanada bitches to the ref but hooks the tiger suplex and barely misses a three count. He gets the swinging TKO on Okada but can't get the pin. He hits a weak backbreaker and tries for the Muta moonsault but Sanada misses. Okada gets to the corner and Sanada charges but Okada gets the foot up. Okada goes for the tombstone but is countered into the dragon sleeper back into a tombstone into another counter. Okada gets some distance and hits his sweet dropkick. Okada goes the tombstone and gets it. He hits the rainmaker and scores the pinfall and revenge! We are now in the studio with Kushida. We see the clip of the challenge Liger made. Kushida says he has respect for Liger so he gladly took the challenge. Liger is a star all over the world and had an amazing career so Kushida wants to be at that point. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Kushida vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger The challenge from Liger was laid down after Kushida beat Will Ospreay. Being in "the last chapter" of his career, Liger wants to challenge for the belt one more time. Kushida, being a life long wrestling fan, didn't hesitate to face off against one of his idols. It is also a fandom moment for me as well. I love Jushin Liger's work and have been following him since 1991. He has always been a favorite of mine even when he was a bad guy. So anytime he appears on this show, it's a treat for me! Liger comes out first. He is wearing a red and white outfit and mask with a cape. Thankfully he stopped wearing those masks with the fake yellow hair on them like he used to in Mexico. As the Time Splitter comes out, JR reminds us that Liger is 51 and that he might not do all the flippy diving stuff he used to, but he has brought in a stronger grappling game now. Liger's son is in the audience as we are in Liger's hometown. The son is actually a big Kushida fan. Kids today, eh Liger-san? We come back from commercial for the bell to ring Handshake to start. Lock up and Liger sends him down but Kushida rolls through it. Kushida goes for a guard but no go there. Liger grabs onto Kushida and rolls him into a pendulum lock. Kushida tries to escape but Liger pulls him back into the stretch into a surfboard. He's going to work early in this one. He locks in a headlock on the champ but is shot off and Kushida lands an inverted atomic drop. The champ then hits a dropkick right on the arm and it's his time to get to work. Kushida puts the stomp and grind on the arm and then locks in the armlock. He short arm scissors the arm for a bit and then stomps on the arm again. Liger is whipped into the corner but Kushida misses the charge. Kushida goes for the ropes but Liger catches him n a tilter whirl and Kushida comes down bad on his knee. Liger then kicks the leg and drives him outside. Liger goes right out after him. Liger uncharacteristically rams Kushida into the ring post twice! Liger then brainbusters him on the floor!  Grizzled Liger can be a mean sonuvagun! Liger rolls back in and waits for the count. Kushida struggles to get in the ring and falters a bit on 18, but the ref goofs the count, and Kushida makes it back in. Liger gives the ref some static for that. Liger then hits the shotei palm strike and then scoops Kushida up for a Ligerbomb for two. Kushida is set up on the top rope for the Liger rana, but Kushida rolls through it for a two count. Kushida pops up and kicks the arm a few times to regain control. Kushida lands the springboard reverse elbow and a standing moonsault but doesn't get the pin. Champ goes up and tries for a top rope splash, but Liger gets his knees up. Liger thinks quickly and locks in a double wristlock on Kushida! Kushida struggles a bit but is able to counter with his own wristlock and then bars the arm. Liger rolls to get out but Kushida just puts the hold back on. Hold is broken when Liger gets to the ropes. We return from the commercial as both guys lift themselves up. Kushida dropkicks the arm again. He wrenches the arm but Liger wrenches it back Forearms to the mask countered with a low dropkick. Liger gets the dragon screw leg whip and into a leg lock, into a Kurt Angle anklelock. Liger sinks it in. Kushida turns it back around and SCREAMS and Liger before getting into the ropes. Funny bit here as Kushida is in the ropes and accidently kicks the camera, knocking out the picture for a few seconds. Kushida goes for the baseball punch but Liger hits the rolling Ligerkick and hits a Thesz press for a two count. Kushida recovers and kicks the damaged arm. Liger turns around and hits the palm strike again. Liger hits the brainbuster but Kushida kicks out!  Liger goes for another palm strike but Kushida counters and turns it into the double wristlock. Liger tries for the ropes but Kushida counters to roll it back in the ring and Liger taps! Kushida wins! Both guys are down and hurt. Kushida pulls off his boot and kneepad. The champ gets his belt and then kneels down and bows to Liger, and Liger bows back. Kushida takes the mic. He says he stopped Liger's last chapter and says to keep being you for five, 10, 20 years more. Liger takes the mic says he may keep going and the next times he challenges for the title, he will have the belt around his waist. Kushida mentions the cards that were canceled because of the Kyushu earthquakes and promises they will be back o those places soon. In the studio, Kushida talks about being in Liger's hometown and the shows being canceled. He says he had to be committed to break Liger's bones or he would lose the title. His goal was also to one up the heavyweight title match and he felt he did that. As a fan, he wants to see Liger keep going and it was an asset for them to fight while both were in good condition. That's it for show one. Time for the second hour of Dontaku coverage! We are greeted by Yuji Nagata! NEVER Openweight 6 man titles: Yoshi Tatsu/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Michael Elgin vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega/Jacksons) The big rematch for the belts with these two teams. Yoshi is in his "Hunter" mod here which is literally just copying Triple H right down to the DX colors and spitting of water during his entrance. Pretty much as everyone would have gathered, Yoshi isn't over with the crowd. The Club comes out first. Kenny is carrying mops with him while the Jacksons mug for the camera and have a ladder with them. I never noticed this but their outfits they are wearing are covered in pictures of themselves. I kinda wish I could unsee that. I love seeing the Bucks get their asses kicked. The Champions come out together. Yoshi and Elgin march to the ring while Tanahashi takes his time mingling with the fans. Yup, Yoshi has the fake Triple H look down as he is wearing short Green and black tights and sprays a bottle of water from the ring apron. JR and Josh ignore it. Everybody is in the ring facing off. Kenny starts swearing at Tanahashi and we just break into a fight. The Club all get sent into the corner where Yoshi delivers a clothesline, Tanahashi a body splash, and then get squashed by Big Mike. The Champs all get suplexes on the club at the same time. Yoshi vaults over the top rope onto Omega while Mike presses Tanahashi over his head and brings him down on the Bucks. Yoshi rolls Omega in the ring and hits a blue thunder bomb on him before Elgin scoops him up in a waistlock. He drops him with a German suplex. Tanahashi goes for the high fly flow, but the Jacksons trip him up. The champs all et sent outside the ring and the Club set up for the triple suicide dives! We return from the break with everyone on the floor. Yoshi is rolled in and Kenny starts stomping and clubbing away on him before making the tag to Nick Jackson. They whip Yoshi into the corner and hit the triple kick on him. For some reason, Omega makes the cover even though he isn't legal but the ref counts it anyway. Elgin comes in to break that up but gets sent right back out and Nick Jackson hits a moonsault from the apron on him that the camera misses. Matt tags in and stomps on Yoshi in the corner while screaming "MATT-O!". Nick gets the tag while Yoshi is in the corner and the Bucks go for a double kick, but Yoshi ducks leading Matt to kick nick right in the face. Nick is still able to come in and yell "Suck it!" as high pitched as he can before Yoshi nails him with a dropkick. JR seems to finally understand that the Jacksons and Bullet Club are just rip offs of the NWO at this point. Meanwhile, Elgin gets the tag and flattens Nick in the corner. Nick reverses a whip but charges right into an Elgin clothesline. Elgin tries for a suplex but Nick wiggles out of it. Mike gets close to the ropes and Matt tries a clothesline but Elgin ducks and Clotheslines him right off the apron.  a "suck it!" from Elgin to Matt as Nick comes running up and he goes over the top rope and gets a "suck it!" from Elgin as well. Big Mike looks to go for a dive but Omega jumps up and stops that. Kenny tries to slingshot in but mike catches him into a powerslam! Nick tries to launch in but Mike catches him in a suplex position and nails him! Count only gets two before Matt comes in. Now Yoshi and Tanahashi come in and we got chaos again. The champs have Matt now and sandwiches him in the corner before setting him up for a super powerslam from big Mike on the middle rope. Count only gets two. Tanahashi tags in and they set up for the double team splat but Kenny comes in with a step up knee right to Elgin's face to stop that. Tanahashi is grabbed off of Elgin's shoulders and into a tombstone position as they are setting up for the Meltzer driver. Yoshi blocks Kenny from hitting the move and Tanahashi gets out of the grip to hit a dragon screw on one of the Bucks. Kenney comes in and gets one of his own and Tanahashi sets him up in the cloverleaf. Nick comes in and hammers on Tanahashi but Tanahashi just shakes it off and keep on the hold! Nick tries a superkick and Tanahashi just grabs his leg and lets go of Kenny but locks in the cloverleaf on Nick! Matt distracts the ref as Kenny grabs a can of coldspray and sprays Tanahashi with it. He picks up Tanahashi and chucks him over the top rope but Tanahashi skins the cat back in and nails Kenny with some forearms. Kenny tries to counter and in the scramble his blasts the ref with the coldspray! Poor Tiger Hatori probably doesn't have much vision left and Kenny goes and does that. With the ref down Tanahashi gets a low blow, and Elgin gets a low blow. The Bucks help the ref up and HE gets a low blow-- damn dude, he's an old man, leave him alone! After the break, we come back to the Club going outside and setting up ladders in the ring and a table on the outside. The Bucks get in Kazuo Yamasaki's face at the broadcast table which I do not recommend boys as that guy with kill you deader than Elvis. In the ring, Omega starts hitting people with the big ladder. Kenny makes the mistake of trying to buckle bomb el\gin but he can't pick him up. Elgin flips Kenny over and when the Bucks try to attack, he blocks Matt's kick and hits Nick with it. Yes, Elgin got so mad he hit a dude with another dude-- love that meme. He suplexes Nick with a German suplex and then buckle bombs him right into the ladder! Elgin positions the table at ringside and goes up on the apron. He grabs Matt and looks to try and suplex him from the ring to the table but Kenny blocks it by spraying Elgin with the coldspray. He tries a sunset flip on Elgin into the table but Matt has to hold him for Nick's superkick and crash! Elgin went through the table. Tanahashi comes in and takes the ladder and he takes the club down. Yoshi comes in and he takes everyone out with high knees and a spinebustter (Hmmm). He then goes for the pedigree(?!) but the Bucks come in and stop then. All three hit the triple superkick and Kenny hits the one winged angel and that is it. The Club get the belts back. The Bucks set up the ladder and Omega sets him up for the Meltzer driver, but Tanahashi comes in and topples the ladder over. Tanahashi then slams Omega right on the ladder and goes for the high fly flow but Omega rolls out. Tanahashi grabs the mic and challenges Omega. Kenny says no. He says if he wants a ladder match. However, he says yes. The pose on the ladder and even shake hands over it. Back from break with words from Nagata. They mention the "third generation uprising". It was a match that took place in February where Nagata and Nakanishi took on TenKoji is a sort of legends tag match and beat the snot out of each other. Yuji then proclaimed that the "third generation" could still heat up a ring. I'm guessing Inoki was first gen and guys like Shinya Hashimoto and Masa Chono were the second. We then see Shibata's words calling Yuji an immature old man. Shibata then beat Kojima and then Tenzan. It was after the Tenzan fight that Yuji came in the ring. He didn't expect the bow from Shibata nor the kick to the face. Yuji feels Shibata may have wanted him all along and that's why he kicked him.  NEVER Openweight Title: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata Yuji pretty much explained the backstory here so I don't need to go over it. This is an even match as both guys are strong grapplers and can get a submission pretty much whenever they want to. Nagata comes out with Nakanishi in his corner. Josh mentions how he wrestled and lost to Nagata in his debut at a Tokyo Dome show years ago.  Shibata comes out in his straightforward way. They have a staredown. "Shibata looks like a bond villain"- JR. We return from break with the start of the match They circle and the crowd is behind Yuji in this one. They do some amateur scrambling before Shibata goes for an armbar but Nagata counters out. They try for leg locks but they are countering each other out. They break and get back up standing as that was going nowhere. They trade Greco Roman locks and Shibata backs him into the ropes and SMACKS Yuji. Damn! Shibata smacks him again! Yuji gets in a kick though. Yuji nearly gets another one but Shibata ducks. Shibata locks in a knee lock but Yuji gets to the ropes. Shibata pulls him center ring and locks in the figure four leg lock but on the other leg. Yuji tries to roll it over but Shibata is fighting it. Yuji gets the reverse but they get into the ropes. Shibata pops up and lays in some heavy kicks. He tries to shoot the ropes but Yuji counters with a kick. He drills Shibata with a deep kick. Yuji gets Shibata into the corner and goes for an exploder but Shibata counters and gets Yuji down with some forearm shots. Shibata lands some hard kicks and a running kick to the ribs before he hits the hanging dropkick. Shibata tries for a cover but doesn't get it. We see Kota Ibushi doing color at ringside. This would be right before he would come to the states for the Cruiserweight Classic and then turn down the WWE when they pushed him. Shibata goes for a pickup but Yuji counters into an armbar. Shibata counters it to a sleeper hold and Yuji fights and gets to the ropes, only to gets a stiff kick for his trouble. You are never safe around either of these guys. Shibata tries to shoot off the ropes but Yuji catches him in the exploder suplex! Back from Break. as both guys start trading forearms on their knees as they stand up. Shibata tries for the ropes but gets a kick, Shibata counters with a kick, but Yuji lands the exploder suplex only for Shibata lands a suplex of his own. Shibata lays in some kicks but that just pisses Yuji off as he drops Shibata in one hit. Knee right to the chin and kicks to the face. he drives the knee in the cover and drops Shibata. Shibata is lifted up and Yuji hits a step knee to the face. Yuji with a brainbuster but only gets two! He tries for the Nagata lock but Shibata gets to the ropes. Shibata stands up and Yuji lands a dropkick! Cover gets two. Shibata gets behind Yuji and locks in the sleeper. Shibata hits a Saito suplex! He gets Yuji down and goes for the PK but Yuji catches it and hits a palm strike and a suplex for a near fall. Yuji lands some more kicks and an enziguri! He hits Shibata with a knee and a backdrop suplex and Yuji gets the pin! Yuji Nagata wins the title! Score one for the old farts! 49 years old telling the young fella to get off his lawn! Backstage Yuji is congratulated by the commentator who is his biggest fan. Yuji says that Shibata's hits were more powerful than usual but he fought back. In the studio, Yuji said Shibata's hits were the real deal but he fought back hard. He was surprised so many people congratulated him. These types of matches are the true Japanese fights. Two down and one more show to go as we are now ready for the main event of the evening! We start the hour with a greeting from Tetsuya Naito in the studio with Naito. He says no one does not want the belt, so he was there to win the title against Okada. He had beaten Ishii in a fair match during the New Japan Cup so why did he have to defend against him he ponders. He did think the belt should not be that accessible. Even if he turned it down he would have had to fight Ishii since it was NJPW making the matches. IWGP Heavyweight title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito If you have been following along, Naito won the title by defeating Okada and not by fair means. Fellow CHAOS member Ishii steps up to make the challenge after Naito was screwing around. Ishii isn't usually a top title contender, usually fighting for the NEVER belt instead. Stone pitbull makes his way out first. JR actually gets his full name right. Okada and Gedo come out with him. Ishii is the ROH TV champion at this point and he carries the belt with him. Los Ingobernables de Japon come out with Naito leading the way in his white suit.  He takes his time getting into the ring and tosses the belt to the mat. Red Shoes picks it up and polishes it. We get full introductions as we are going full-hour on this. JR froths over Ishii's short boots as always. Naito actually gets some boos as opposed to when he won the belt. We must be really stretching for time as we get Naito getting out of his suit just before we go to a commercial. We come back as Naito is getting out of his pants. Bell finally rings and Ishii is ready to go. They circle around and Naito starts screwing around and avoids the lock up. The finally lock up and Ishii powers him back to the ropes but Naito reverses it, but Ishii reverses back and Naito reverses. Naito backs up but spits on Ishii and pitbull runs him over and starts whaling away before running over Naito with a shoulderblock. He did ask for that whooping. Naito bails right out of the ring. Naito rolls in and right back out. Naito rolls in again and Ishii just starts in again with stomps. He picks Naito up and lands chops in Naito and forearms to the face. Ishii seems annoyed. Wonder why? Bushi trips Ishii from the outside and Naito lands a low dropkick to send Ishii outside. Naito follows him out and sends him into the metal barrier. EVIL does the horse collar with the chair and sends Ishii into the ringpost. Ishii rolls in and Naito gets the cravat. Back elbows to the face to get him down and starts stomping Ishii on the mat. Ishii into the ropes and into a back elbow and the low dropkick. Cover gets two and Naito locks in the vice leg scissors. Ishii gets to the ropes and the hold is broken. Naito stomps on Ishii's face. He can't pick the big guy up so he gets mad and lays in more stomps. Naito lays in hits to the back as Ishii gets up but goes back to his knees. Naito begins screwing with Ishii with weak kicks and it doesn't end well as Ishii slams him down for that. Back from commercial, as Ishii picks Naito up and chucks him into the corner and flattens him with a clothesline followed by another one. Ishii lands a suplex but only gets two. Chops on Naito's chest now. Ishii goes for a Saito suplex but Naito blocks it. Naito goes in the ropes and hits the back of the neck on his knee! Ishii goes to the corner and Naito lands a neckbreaker but only gets one on that. Naito swats at the ref because he can. Naito sends him into the ropes but Ishii blocks and hits a low dropkick on Naito's leg. Ishii smells blood and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Stomps by Ishii on the knee. Naito hits a forearm to the face but Ishii gets a victor (side) roll and locks in a kneebar! Naito screams in pain but gets to the ropes. Ishii picks him up and sets him on the top turnbuckle. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Naito counters with an eye rake and a headbutt. Naito hits a missile dropkick but Ishii rolls right through it and pops up. Naito gets a waistlock and Naito drives Ishii right into the ref. EVIL waffles Ishii with a chair! Ishii goes to the corner and Naito hits his trip and dropkick combo. Naito lands the reverse atomic drop to drop Ishii and lock in the Koji clutch. Gedo is SCREAMING to Ishii. Ishii fights and struggles and gets into the ropes. Back from commercial, as Naito picks Ishii up and gets a high German suplex into a bridge but only gets two. Naito picks him up and goes for Gloria but Ishii gets out. Naito whips him into the ropes but Ishii counters with a strike to the knee. He hits the knee again. Naito is on one foot as they are trading shots back and forth. Naito SLAPS Ishii right in the head and Ishii is PISSED and smacks the crap out of Naito. Ishii grabs the leg to go for an attack but Naito lands several hits but Ishii lands an enziguri. Ishii hits Naito with a big power bomb and nearly gets a pin but Naito counters into a lock only for Ishii to counter into the kneebar. Naito gets to the ropes but Ishii pulls him right back to center and locks in a leg and knee bar. CHAOS is holding Ingobernables back. Naito grabs the ref and drives his head into the mat. Los Goobers come in and attack Ishii. Okada comes in and nails EVIL with a dropkick. Okada and EVIL fight to the back as Bushi, Sanada, and Gedo are gone too. All three men in the ring get up. Naito blocks a clothesline but gets a headbutt for that. Ishii hits a running clothesline but only gets two. He hits the sliding low clothesline but only gets two. Ishii signals for the end and goes for the brainbuster but Naito lands a knee. Ishii picks him back up for the brainbuster but Naito counters with a DDT. Back from break, as both guys stagger up. Naito goes up top and lands a missile dropkick to the back of the head! Naito lifts Ishii up and hits the super rana and he gets a two count. Naito hits the gloria drop but only gets two again. Naito picks Ishii up but Ishii counters out but runs right into a spinebuster by Naito. Naito tries for destino but Ishii blocks it and drops Naito STRAIGHT ON HIS HEAD. HE'S DEAD! BY GAWD HE'S DEAD! Ishii goes for the cover but Naito kicks out! Naito hits Ishii straight on his head! Ishii is bleeding from the mouth!. They get up and Naito hits the headbutt and a rolling kick to the head. Naito hits the dragon suplex but only gets two. Naito tries for destino but Ishii hits the back elbow. He starts some hard strikes but Naito hits a palm strike and an enziguri but only gets two. He hits a clothesline and Naito hits destino! He gets the three count-- damn, that was the main event! Gedo and Okada come back out and help Ishii from the ring and he is spent. Okada is on the apron and the crowd is chanting for him. He gets right in Naito's face and Naito gives him the stink eye. Okada leaves and helps his friend to the back. We come back from break with Okada backstage saying CHAOS can't end like this. In the ring, Red Shoes presents the belt to Naito and Naito decks him. He calls out the NJPW president for not being at the show. For his next defense, he wants the prez to be in the building to see and hear the response he gets. He says Okada made the challenge but tells Okada to be tranquilo and not to rush it. Backstage, Naito calls this a throwaway match for him-- dude, after that drop on your head and neck, you are lucky to be alive. In the studio, Naito says he didn't think Ishii wanted the belt since he never mentioned it before the fight. He says his presence is more than that of the belt itself. Riiight. What a showing! The first two matches were quick but kept up the story of CHAOS and Ingobernables feuding. The Kushida/Liger match was amazing and glad Liger can still keep up with these guys. The six-man match was the usually from Kenny and the Jacksons, but Yoshi's gimmick just flat out sucks. I don't know where he got the idea from but I never want to go there. NJPW pretty much gave up on him right after this anyway. The Yuji and Shibata match wasn't very long but that is to be expected. Good grappling action there. The main event was very enjoyable and a change of pace from watching Ishii kill himself against guys like Shibata or Togi Makabe. He does very well with a smaller opponent, despite nearly killing Naito by dropping him on his head and neck. This was a fun and awesome show! And remember folks, Wrestlekingdom 11 is coming up on January 4, shown both in English and Japanese on New Japan World. However, Strong Style will be covering it starting on January 11!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Three big shows in one!
Hello, puroresu fans, and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Tonight we got a big night as we have three shows. The date is May 3, 2016, and we are at the International Center at Fukuoka. So hold on and here we go!

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Feast your eyes on WrestleKingdom 11's full card


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

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 8-10

Dec 12 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 8 This episode really was a mixed bag of a few things. Each of its points actually had a purpose, but it just put a lot of them to you as a viewer for a single episode. Think of it like one of the episodes of wrestling either right before or right after a big show where it has lots of storylines to give you. The first part of this episode is delving into Naoto's past before he became a wrestler. Naoto and Haruna visit Daisuke in the hospital and then on the way to the matches he shows Haruna that he had been living in a temporary relief shelter when he lost his home and family in an earthquake. We then see flashbacks of a younger Naoto begging Daisuke to train as a wrestler. We get to see him getting the rough treatment and meeting Takuma for the first time. It's a nice bit of background, but at this point do we need it? The next part of the episode shows us what Naoto and Takuma are both up to. Akuma and his two friends as training in a ring  (inside a cage, inside a CAVE) beating on poor Odin. Seems this is where he ended up, as a sparring partner. Miss X tells them they will be part of the big tournament in Japan. Odin begs her for mercy. She tells him she will relent only until after he competes in "Hell in the Hole" whatever that means. Sounds kinda dirty. Odin freaks out about "the Hole".  Meanwhile, Tiger Mask is competing in a NJPW show. He and Tanahashi are teaming up against... aw crap... Yup. Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale. The match is short and the good guys win, earning a tag title shot at the next big show.  Not much else to report here really. We see what both Tigers have been up to and setting the stage for the tag title shot. We then finally get to the main point. the GWM announces their new Japanese arena, the Max Dome, and the GWM Masked World Tournament. Tiger the Dark will be there, so will European champion Wagner, and Yellow Devil. Miss X opens it up to any masked wrestler to take part. Naoto wants to compete, but GWM schedules it at the same time as NJPW's show. The NJPW guys aren't happy about this either. Nagata, Okada, Wakamatsu. and Tanahashi, see this and want no part of it. There is actually a really funny line as Nagata tells the other wrestlers to tell "Liger" (referring to NJPW legend Jushin "Thunder" Liger) they are not participating. Someone then asks about "Captain" (The wrestler formally known as Captain New Japan now as Bone Soldier) and Nagata answers "He wouldn't go even if I told him too." BURN! As soon as that's agreed on Tiger Mask shows up and says he can't make the Tag Title match because he will be in the tournament instead. The NJPW guys aren't happy but Tiger has made up his mind. They all silently understand so they don't bust his chops too badly. The episode seems to bounce around a bit but we have a clear goal in sight. The Masked World Tournament seems to be the finale of the first part of this series (it was announced this show has 39 episodes). So while it touched on a lot of things, they all seemed to be gearing towards that in some way. So it didn't focus on the action, but it did serve the purpose of setting things up. Episode 9 It's tournament time! This episode, unlike many of the ones from this series, focuses on the single point of the big World Masked Tournament the GWM is putting on in their new Max Dome. We see the announcement of the eight participants. Tiger Mask is entered, along with Fukuwara Mask. Yuji isn't pleased to hear that, but it turns out Yuji didn't bother to make him an offer not to enter. Yellow Devil, Tiger the Dark, and Wagner are also entered. Rounding out the field are a wrestler named Poseidon, and two goofballs named "Oriental Magic" Dragon Young and  "The Japanese Trump Card" It's-The-Ace. Ya know, I've been accused of being a cynical wrestling fan but those guys look REALLY familiar. Leading up to the afternoon show, We see some minor stuff like Tiger Mask and Fukuwara Mask chumming together at the arena, Fukuwara, and Haruna not being allowed to sell their merch because they aren't GWM talent, and we find out the European Champion is just Tiger The Dark's running buddy Kevin Andersen and Wagner is just made up. Miss X comments it happens all the time.  The big show kicks off with a fan making the "random" draw for the tournament. Tiger the Dark vs. Fukuwara Mask,  Tiger Mask vs. Wagner, Poseidon vs.  It's-the-Ace,  Dragon Young vs. Yellow Devil. If you don't see how this bracket will work out on the next few episodes, then I suggest you go back to the recap of the first episode and start this over again. We get to the action and the first match between Tiger the Dark and Fukuwara Mask doesn't last very long. Tiger Mask makes his entrance for his match and Wagner... isn't there? That doesn't make much sense. Someone ELSE arrives and lays down the challenge to Tiger Mask instead.   Evidently, he is Mister Question, a character from the original show who wants to see if this new Tiger Mask is up to snuff. Okay, kind of random. Wagner finally shows up and he is pissed, but Mister Question quells that argument rather quickly.   Finally, we have a straightforward path in this series, maybe a little too straightforward, but at least we know where we are going and hopefully there won't be a lot of filler anymore. Even though you kinda know how this will play out, I still feel compelled to watch and see how they get there.  Episode 10 The tournament continues! We pick up where we left off with the last episode. Tiger Mask is staring down his new opponent in the tournament, Mister Question. As the match begins we see that Mister Question is no ordinary guy, and I don't mean the white bell-bottomed suit with a turban as part of his mask. It appears he is super flexible.   Like REALLY flexible. Did a Kinnikuman villain walk onto the wrong show? Fukuwara Mask jumps in on commentary and explains that Mister Question is from India, and India is known for Yoga. Anyway as the match progresses, Tiger seems at a loss. Miss X then tells Mister Question that he would be rewarded for taking out Tiger Mask, but he turns that down flat. He's not in this for the money and glory. Miss X is not amused. Tiger is about to get beat when he sees something that fires him up.   After the match ends Mister Question says he will tell Tiger who he is later. Meanwhile, we get the next match of Poseidon vs. It's-the-Ace. There is no question who It's-The-Ace is and the show doesn't even try to hide it. The match ends predictably and in the locker room we find out that Poseidon was actually Mikasa, The former Jinpang wrestler who was Odin's original opponent in episode 1. During the match though we get a meeting backstage between Tiger Mask and Mister Question. The gist of the meeting is that Tiger can't beat the GWM the way he is now, and the man from India tells Tiger he needs to develop a new killer finisher, just like the original Tiger Mask did after the original Mister Question broke Tiger's original finisher. Guess that's Tiger's next goal.  We get to the final match of the first round as Dragon Young faces Yellow Devil. This goes about as well as you'd expect. Poor Wakamatsu doesn't stand a chance and it's over quick. We get an announcement that the next round is next week and that is pretty much it. The second round has Yellow Devil facing It's-The-Ace and Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark in the other match. This episode was clear and straightforward, a lot less meandering around as some of the episodes been this season. The big reveal of Mister Question isn't exactly anything worth noting but it does play into the storyline. I don't see this as the most noteworthy or best episode so far, but at least you could see where they were going with the story. So with these episodes, we are seeing the climax of the first season starting to take shape. We have a goal and a path to get there. We've seen the villain and he is a rough dude. The next few episodes should be a lot of fun!
Tiger Mask W photo
We finally have some direction
The adventures of Tiger Mask W continues here as we look at the next batch of episodes from the series. So far we've had some ups and downs as far as episodes go but so far I've been enjoying it. Where do we go now? Let's find out!

Strong Style: Fale of fish

Dec 11 // Soul Tsukino
Our first hour opens with Naito giving us a greeting. We start with Naito in the studio. He talks about seeing Okada return from the U.S. back in 2012 with all this flash and attention but wonders what happened. He admits to being jealous but now Okada's presence is so small and wonders what happened to the guy who made him up his own game. Ouch. IWGP Title: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito Naito won the New Japan Cup tournament, as seen a few weeks ago. He didn't really want to cash it in on this show, but Okada challenged him to it so here we go. We get full entrances for this one since we are going the full hour. Naito enters first with EVIL and Bushi with him. He takes his time getting into the ring as usual. Okada time! JR makes reference to someone on Twitter saying Okada reminded them of a young Rock. I can see that comparison. Gedo in the corner as always. We get the introductions and surprisingly Naito gets a loud response from the crowd. Some BOOS for the champion. There is a surprise. Guess Philly isn't the only crowd in the world who will cheer a heel. We come back from break and we get things underway. The crowd is into this! Neither guy does anything at first. Lock up as Okada gets Naito into the ropes and gives him a clean break. Lock up again and Okada gets an armlock that is reversed into a full nelson. Okada reverses into a hammerlock. Naito into the ropes to break but Naito reverses and gives him the clean break. Naito then smacks him. Naito lifts Okada to the apron and a forearm to the floor. Naito poses in the ring. Okada enters as Naito leaves the ring. Naito walks around and rolls in to break the count before rolling right back out. Mind games. Naito rolls in and Okada charges but Naito kicks him. They run the ropes and Okada gets in an elbow. He hits a snapmare and then gets a running dropkick to Naito's head. Okada keeps on him with a straight jacket hold before Naito gets to the rope. Okada whips him in and lands another elbow and then a senton before going for a cover that gets two. Okada scoops him up and slams him. He looks to go for the senton over the rope but Naito is right back up.  Okada hits the ropes but Bushi trips him and Naito lands the dropkick. Okada rolls outside and is sent right into the barricade by Bushi and EVIL. Naito then attacks Gedo! Gedo gets into the ring as Bushi and Naito beat him up and distracting the ref, EVIL horse collars Okada outside the ring with a chair and then hits him with another chair! We come back from break with Okada down outside the ring. He rolls in and Naito lays in some boots before hanging him in the tree of woe. Naito lands some stomps and backs off as Bushi chokes out Okada from the floor. Naito lands a low dropkick and Okada falls off the buckle. Naito locks in a leg scissors and really puts the crank on it. Gedo is back up on the outside as Okada gets a foot on the rope. Naito lands some more stomps in the corner before picking up the champ. He lays in forearms on Okada but backs off. Naito goes for a charge but Okada catches him. Okada goes for the dropkick but Naito counters. Okada spins out and lands a dropkick right to the shoulders but Naito counters into a cravat.  Okada tries for a whip but Naito breaks it. He tries for something but Okada reverses it into a neckbreaker. They get up and Okada lands some clotheslines before landing a boot to Naito's face. Okada sets Naito up on the buckle and lands his sweet dropkick and Naito falls to the outside. Okada follows him out and tosses him into the barrier. Okada then boots him over the barriers into the crowd. EVIL tries a charge but goes flying over the barrier as well. Bushi tries and he gets flung into the crowd as well. Okada then charges and splats all three of them. Okada drags Naito out of the crowd and tosses him back in the ring. He gets in a bodyslam and then goes up, but Naito is up so Okada dives over Naito and rolls out of it. Naito is in the corner and Okada tries a charge but Naito gets the boot up to send him down to the mat. Naito picks him up and pokes his eyes. He then charges in and gets a big DDT. Naito tries a suplex but Okada counters and shoots him in the ropes and into a flapjack. Back from commercial  as Naito is up first. but Okada gets up too and they trade forearms back and forth. Kick to the gut and Okada lands a DDT. Naito flees to the corner. Okada goes for the charge and misses. Okada goes for the Alabama slam but Naito wiggles out and then counter until Okada ends up with the red ink submission on the mat. EVIL jumps up to interfere and so does Bushi, but Gedo takes care of them. However, the distraction had Okada break the hold. Naito lands a low blow and locks in a Koji clutch submission. Okada struggles  and nearly passes out but he gets a foot on the rope for the break. Naito takes his time as Okada gets up into the corner. Naito gets a heel trip in and then sets up Okada on the top buckle and gets the top rope rana. He tries for the pin but gets two. Naito tries for gloria and the pinfall but Okada kicks out. Okada gets into a chinlock but Okada elbows out. Okada goes to the ropes but Naito hits a sweet spinebuster! Both struggle to stand up and Okada hits the cannonball dropkick sending Naito flying back into the buckle HARD. Think of a movie stuntman getting shot for a scene. Okada hits the low dropkick and then hits a second one, but only gets two on the cover. Okada gets up on the top rope and hits another cannonball dropkick! He goes for the cover but again only gets two. After all that I wonder how Naito doesn't have whiplash! Back from another break as we look at the awesome dropkick again. Okada picks Naito up and slams him down. He goes to the top rope again and lands the big flying elbow. He calls for the rainmaker and Okada sets him up but Naito grabs the ref and Okada hits him with the rainmaker instead! Bushi and EVIL come in and Okada gets both of them out of the ring. Naito tries to attack but Okada hits the dropkick and a tombstone but there is no ref. Some guy enters the ring behind Okada. He is wearing leather, an Ingobernables shirt, and a kicking face mask. He hits a neckbreaker on Okada! He takes the mask off and the crowd goes...silent. It's Sanada, a former trainee under the Great Muta who had worked for Muta in TNA, All Japan, and most recently Muta's company Wrestle-1. It is a big shock seeing him jump ship (and a ton of muscle too), but I don't think the crowd knows who he is. Sanada jumps up to the top rope and hits a moonsault. Gedo is in shock! Ingobernables has a new member! Naito gets up and is smiling! He hits the forearm on Okada and tries for destino but Okada counters and tries for the tombstone but Naito squirms out. Okada goes for the rainmaker but Naito reverses that into destino and scores the win! Naito is the new champion! As Gedo is looking over a fallen Okada, Bushi attacks him and blows mist right in his face. They then set up Okada and mists him before Sanada locks in the dragon sleeper. Ishii and Goto come out to break things up and Los goobers clear the ring. They have a staredown between Naito and Ishii as Goto and Gedo pull Okada out of the ring. Ishii isn't backing down. That is an interesting match right there. Back from the break as Naito is screwing with Ishii  but Ishii leaves so Naito can be presented with the belt. Naito then attacks Red Shoes! He takes the mic. He acknowledges the cheers and wonders if the NJPW president hears them. He mocks NJPW for spending so much money making Okada a star. He doesn't need that. The crowd is chanting Naito! A heel Japanese crowd. They want to show the fans a new scenery in NJPW. Naito takes the belt and just tosses it in the air like nothing. In the back, Naito says that NJPW is itself now after him. Studio words as he says it's been nearly 20 years for him, but he had never felt that level of excitement from the fans. He says Sanada's interference wasn't against the rules (guess what, it was) and his way of doing things included stuff like that. Once he had the belt in his hands, he said it looked different to him because he had surpassed the belt itself. Onto hour two with a greeting from Kenny Omega! And if the Hakata Star Lanes doesn't ring a bell, it is because it is a luxury hotel. This show is taking place in a ballroom. It has a really low ceiling and crappy lighting. Not only that but there can't be more than 100 people for this show. It makes me think this is more sponsorship deal since this is basically a house show under the "Road to Dontaku 2016" name. And yes, from what I could gather this hotel has a hell of a bowling alley in it. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale Awww, crap. It's Fale. Welp gotta do what I gotta do. Anyway, this is a grudge match as after the big 6 man match shown here last week when Fale came out of nowhere and attacked Tanahashi because... he's part of the Bullet Club? As good as reason as any for NJPW to pretend like Fale is a real threat to anyone.This isn't exactly a fresh match up either. These two have fought each other before on AXS TV.  Fale lumbers out first. This building makes for a strange setting like this show is taking place at a convention or something. Fale throws the timekeeper down for some reason. Tanahashi enters with the 6 man title. We get some more background as Fale beat Tanahashi in the first round of the New Japan Cup, but Tanahashi was, and still is, suffering from a shoulder injury. Since almost all of Fale's feuds start that exact same way, why did we need Fale attacking Tanahashi at the last show? Bell rings and Tanahashi immediately goes for a slam and pays for it with a bunch of clubbing hits to the back. Tanahashi goes for another slam and Fale falls on top of him. Fale tosses Hiroshi outside and starts beating on him as Tanahashi's hurt his shoulder again. Fale goes to whip Hiroshi, but Tanahashi reverses it sending Fale into the barrier. Tanahashi tries a bodyblock but Fale catches and slams him. Back inside Tanahashi is in the corner and Fale goes for a splat, but misses. Tanahashi leaps up to his feet and lands some forearms before finally slams Fale. Out of the commercial Tanahashi goes for a clothesline but Fale tosses him over the rope, Tanahashi skins the cat and catches Fale, dragging him outside. Tanahashi goes up and hits the top rope splash outside the ring. We jump ahead as Fale is down on the mat and Tanahashi hits a dragon screw leg whip. He then locks in the cloverleaf but Fale muscles out. Fale whips Tanahashi in but Tanahashi goes for a sunset flip but Fale just sits on him. Count nearly gets three on that. The big guy goes up to the top rope but Tanahashi catches him and gets in a big superplex! Tanahashi goes to the top but Fale catches him and gets in his own superplex! Well there! Fale gets in a running spear and goes for the cover but Tanahashi kicks out. Fale gets him up for the bad luck fall but Tanahashi counters into a headscissors. he tries for the pin but doesn't get it. Tanahashi gets to the corner and Fale splashes him and goes for the cover but doesn't get it either. Fale goes for the bad luck fall again but Tanahashi turns it into a weird version of the slingblade and gets the big guy down. Tanahashi gets in the belly to back suplex! That's a load to throw over! He hits the slingblade and goes up to the top, he lands the high fly flow and gets the pin! Backstage Tanahashi says the damage is not good. He says there is a change within him that he feels building up. Studio words from Omega as he says he did what no one else could do. He knows Elgin from Canada and ROH but he doesn't have the fire for New Japan like Omega does. First Gaijin against Gaijin for the IC belt. He says its power vs. power as he has an athlete's body vs. Elgin's fat body.     IWGP Intercontinental Title: Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin This match also came about from the big six-man match up last week as after his team defeated Omega and the Bucks, Elgin gave a staredown to the champion and made the challenge.  JR mentions this is the first time any NJPW belt is being put up in a match with two Canadians. Talk about a good one eh? Elgin comes out first ready to kill and we get another Steve Williams reference from JR as normal. Omega comes out alone but with a ladder and a trashcan with a mop out of it. Togi Makabe is at ringside as a broadcaster and Omega starts taunting him. Bad idea chief. You got enough on your plate. We get full intros here. JR mentions his podcast for the third time since this match started and the bell hasn't even rung yet. Back from the break and we get this underway. Omega plays to the crowd but Elgin wants to fight. They lock up and Elgin practically chucks Omega down across the ring. Another lock up and Elgin takes him right to the corner but Omega reverses and lands a bunch of forearms. Elgin hits him once. Guess who wins that tussle? Elgin sets him up for a suplex but Kenny slides out and tries for a jumping move and Elgin just catches him and slams him down. Elgin grabs him and suplexes him up and holds him there before dropping him down. Omega bails and goes right for the garbage can but Elgin just doesn't care. Omega throws the mop and tries for the cold spray but nothing works and Big Mike is gunning for him. Elgin throws him over the barrier. Elgin throws him into another barrier and Omega tries for a moonsault from the barrier but Elgin just catches him and drops him down. Omega tries for the ladder and they fight over it, with Omega getting the strike and sending Elgin down. Omega then piledrives Mike on the trashcan before getting in the ring. Elgin gets in at 19 as Omega comes over and gets a Samoan drop on Mike and then a middle rope moonsault for a two count. Kenny then rakes Mike's face before raking Elgin's eyes on the top rope. There is some good ol' heel cheatin' right there. He throws some kicks and strikes in the corner. He tries to drive Elgin's head in the buckle but Mike blocks in and pokes the eyes. Mike whips Kenny in and Kenny dodges a strike and lands a low dropkick to the knee and then a sliding kick to send Elgin outside. Omega goes for a tope but Mike partially dodges it and Kenny smashes his knee on the barrier. Kenny struggles up but grabs a table from under the ring. He sets up the table as Mike tries to get up. Kenny goes for a back suplex but Elgin punches out. Kenny gets in the ring as Elgin gets to the apron Elgin keeps from falling back on the table. Kenny shoots the ropes but Mike comes flying in with a wild shoulderblock. Kenny tries to whip Elgin in but Mike stops that. He tries for a suplex but Kenny blocks it. He tries a few chops to the chest but Elgin picks him up for a gorilla press and slams him down right into a cover for a two count. Kenny grabs beard and rakes the eyes. He goes to the apron and tries to slingshot in but Mike lifts a legs and kicks Omega. Kenny rolls to the apron and Mike goes for his middle buckle falcon arrow but Kenny shakes the legs and gets out as Mike goes down. Kenny then tries to suplex Mike out of the ring onto the table but Mike blocks it. Kenny counters to send Mike down and Kenny runs to the top buckle. He makes the leap of faith but Mike catches him and sends him down. We come back from break with both guys struggling to get up. Mike up first. He sets Kenny up for the piledriver but Kenny slips out. Mike tries for something but Kenny hits the superkick. He tries for a gutwrench but doesn't get it. Kenny and Mike exchange blows, and Mike hits the scissors kick but Kenny hits the jumping knee and a snapdragon suplex. Kenny then gets big Mike in the Doctor-bomb! That's impressive. He gets two out of it, though. Kenny gets a running uppercut but Elgin begs for another. Mike counters into a suplex but Kenny flips right through it and lands a kick. Kenny goes to the apron and Mike goes for his middle rope falcon arrow. Mike gets it but only gets a two count. Mike sets Kenny up for the piledriver position but Kenny sits out. Kenny backs into the corner but Elgin charges but Kenny flips over it. Kenny tries for a dropkick but Mike catches him and then just dumps him right through the table at ringside! The ref starts counting, but Mike stops the count! He goes outside and chucks Kenny back in. Cover gets two. Mike tries to walk over Kenny but Kenny grabs the ankle and Mike stomps the crap out of him. Mike goes up but Omega catches him and goes for the one winged angel but Mike kicks him away. Kenny climbs the ropes but Mike swats him down. He goes for the moonsault but Kenny moves out of the way and big Mike crashes down. Kenny goes for a headscissors but Mike catches him and hits the buckle bomb. He tries for a second one but Kenny puts him into the buckle face fist. Kenny tries the one winged angel, but can't get it. Elgin gets out but Kenny hits the jumping knee. Kenny goes for a clothesline but Elgin catches him again and slams him with a hard powerbomb. Cover gets two. Mike's up first and lands a buckle bomb but no, Omega counters. He lands the Nakamura booma ye! Elgin gets knocked senseless, Kenny actually get Mike up in the one winged angle and scores the win! He earned that win! We come back from the last break as Kenny celebrates in the ring. Tanahashi comes out and enters the ring. Kenny grabs the mic but gives it to Tanahashi who immediately lays down the challenge. Kenny figures it was about that. He says he will think about it and immediately gives Tanahashi a kick to the balls and tells him no. Omega then grabs the ladder and drops it on Hiroshi. He sets up the ladder on top of Tanahashi and poses on it. He tells Tanahashi he doesn't feel like wrestling him again. In the studio, Kenny says that it was for the belt so they went for it all. Two Canadian boys. He is ushering in the new era of New Japan. Tanahashi is called a selfish MF'er and wears his hair like a girl and that someone had to put their foot down. He says that the IWGP title is protected by NJPW and no one can touch it unless you win the G1, but the IC belt is a reward for hard work and good matches. As he has done before, he vows to win the G1 and win the IWGP title. Two good hours and two really good matches. Fale and Tanahashi did what they could but the match was clipped and what was shown wasn't very good. Naito and Okada was a little slower pace than some of the others might put on, but I think that's a good thing. And call me very impressed but Kenny Omega shined here, by himself, against a monster like Elgin. Great showing for the new champion! Next week I can kiss any Friday plans goodbye as AXS TV brings you THREE big hours of action. I'll see you then!.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Another double shot of action
Welcome back to another week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling action on AXS TV. This week we have two big episodes! The first is the third episode covering Invasion Attack 2016 held at the famed Sumo Hall in Tokyo on April 10, 2016. The second episode takes place on April 27, 2016, from the Hakata Star Lanes in Fukuoka.

Strong Style: Gold on the line!

Dec 04 // Soul Tsukino
We start off hour one with Yoshi Tatsu welcoming us to the first show. IWGP Tag Tea titles: Global Bash Heel (Makabe/Honma) vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga/Tanga Loa) If you remember last time GBH had just defended the titles against Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson as they were headed for WWE. Tama Tonga made the challenge that he would find a partner and they would be the newest member of The Bullet Club. That partner was his brother Tanga Loa, who had wrestled in WWE as Camacho and TNA as Micah. Both are the sons of the legendary Haku who is just about the scariest dude you could meet after hearing the stories about that guy. We see the entrance of The Guerrillas but skip right over the champs' entrance. We start with Togi Makabe and Roa in the ring. They lock up and Roa muscles Togi down. Togi nods and gets up and they lock up again. He starts muscling Roa down and Tama runs in with a shot to the back. Honma then comes in and we got a fight! They pair off in the corners and they try the whip into each other but Honma reverses so Togi can run him over with a clothesline. Roa then gets clotheslined out of the ring for his trouble. GBH pose for a bit then leave the ring to bring the fight to the floor. Honma eats metal barricade. We see a shot of the broadcast table at ringside where Masa Chono and Kazuo Yamazaki are sitting. JR takes a quick shot against people on Twitter for some reason. Roa and Togi roll into the ring  Roa slams Togi down hard and hits him with a leg drop before going for the cover and only gets two. JR actually pronounces Togi's name right for once as Roa tags in his brother who drops a big elbow and also tries for a cover to only get two. He drops another elbow and tries a cover again but no luck. He turns and tags Roa back into the match now. Roa hits a headbutt and a stomp before whipping Togi into the corner. They take turns tagging in and out while stomping Togi into the ground. Tama tries a cover but the ref refuses to count it for some reason and Tama curses at him. Kinda deserved that Red Shoes. Roa tags in and hits a stomp before going for the cover and doesn't get it. He tags Tama back in and they hit a double headbutt on Togi before going for the pin again. These guys are breaking the record for near falls in a match it seems. Makabe tries to crawl to the corner. He gets mid ring, sees his partner isn't there and stops. He then challenges Tama to hit him and when he does, he just smiles. Tama hits him again. Togi smiles. Tama then hits a series of forearm shots and a headbutt and Togi just shakes his head like a nothing happened. Togi then starts hitting Tama with clubs to the top of the head. Tama runs the ropes but Togi misses the clothesline, just to DRILL Tama with the second attempt. Togi then rolls over and makes the tag. Honma comes in and takes out Tama with a hit and knocks Roa off the apron. He gets a slam on Tama.  Tama goes to the corner where Honma whips him across the ring and delivers a forearm shot followed up by the bulldog. Honma goes for the falling headbutt and of course misses. Tama goes to the ropes but Honma pops up and starts running the ropes. They start going in weird angles and even Honma is confused about where they are going. They get straightened out as Tama goes for a charge and Honma leapfrogs him and then catches Tama with a big clothesline on the rebound. As he celebrates, Tama spears the crap out of Honma! Roa tags in and drives an elbow to Honma's head. He does more stomping and delivers another legdrop before trying for another pin and not getting it. After we come back from the break  Roa goes for a suplex but Honma tries to counter it. Roa plants his feet and gets Honma up, but he slides out of it. Roa kicks him in the gut and whips him into the corner. He tries the charge but Honma moves. Roa stumbles out of the corner into a hiptoss and Honma hits the headbutt!  Togi tags in and he and Roa have a clothesline duel that puts Togi down to a knee, but he gets up and hits a clothesline of his own. He splats Roa in the corner and then gives him ten strikes to the head from the second buckle before hitting a northern lights suplex. josh and JR talk about Hiroshi Hase inventing the move while in Stampede Wrestling in the 80's with JR butchering HIS name. Togi gets a waistlock on Roa but Roa counters out and goes to the ropes but Togi hits a clothesline. Tama sneaks into the ring and tries to hit a Stunner but Togi holds firm, grabs on, and gives Tama a German suplex. He goes to give Roa one but Roa hangs on. Togi spins him around and shoot him right into a Honma forearm from the apron and then gets the German suplex with a bridge and gets two. Makabe goes up for the King Kong kneedrop but misses it!  Both guys get the tag and Honma is a house of fire. Tama whips him in and again confuses Honma by bouncing off different rapes before getting the dropkick. Tama hits a flapjack and goes for the cover but gets two. He goes or a double underhook suplex but lets it go as Togi comes in the ring and bowls over Tama with a clothesline. Togi grabs Honma and SLAPS him across the face to wake him up. GBH hits the double clothesline on Tama and Togi picks him up with a sort of twisting Samoan drop before Honma hits the headbutt again. He tries for a pin but Tama kicks out. Tama is whipped into the buckle and hits with clotheslines from both before they go for the doomsday device, but Roa yanks Honma's leg and he crotches himself on the turnbuckle. Tama gets off from Togi's shoulders and hits a neckbreaker. Tama grabs Honma and whips him into the corner where both guys hit flying splashes on him before Tama hits a great looking spine buster. Cover only gets two as Togi interrupts the count. The brothers try to double team him but Togi hits a double clothesline on both. Honma and Tama back in the ring now as they trade some blows back and forth before Honma hits a back elbow in the corner. Tama hits a suplex where Honma takes it a little high on the neck but he rolls over and pops right back up. Honma hits missile headbutt and then hits another one from the middle buckle. He presses his luck and heads up top, but of course, blows it.  Tama picks him up and hits a few forearms and a headbutt. Tama launches back with his own headbutt to put Tama down. Honma picks Tama up for a powerslam but Roa grabs Tama's feet and pushes off, turning it into a Tama neckbreaker. Tama goes for the pin but Togi runs in and breaks it up. Roa comes in now too and goes for a double clothesline but Makabe breaks it, only for Togi to get caught in a fireman's carry into a neckbreaker. Honma is next as Tama picks him up for a powerbomb and have Roa grab the head into a reverse DDT. The pin only gets two, though. They pick him up for what appears to be the magic killer but just drop Honma straight down. Tama makes the cover and gets the pinfall. We have new Tag Champions! We get some studio words from Yoshi Tatsu. He talks about how this came along at the right time since he had regained his confidence that he could wrestle again. He wanted to be able to enjoy his return to the ring, but his first opponents were the Bullet club that he kept his eyes on. He admits he thought about quitting before the show. He was nervous about many things and knew the Club wouldn't care about his neck. He had a lot of help to get back in the ring and what would he tell people if it happened again?  NEVER Openweight 6 man Titles: Yoshi Tatsu, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin vs. The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt and Nick Jackson) Omega is the Intercontinental champion and he and the Bucks won these titles from the Briscoes and Toru Yano back in February. These three call themselves the Elite as they were toying with the idea of replacing the Bullet Club name (it didn't stick). On the other team, Yoshi Tatsu is making his in-ring return about being out well over a year after Tatsu didn't know how to take a Styles clash properly and had his neck broken. Since A.J. Styles isn't around anymore, he just wants to fight the Bullet Club instead. Yoshi comes out first and kind of gets a lukewarm reaction from the crowd. Tanahashi and Elgin come out and get a much better response. Since it's Michael Elgin, JR pimps his podcast and talks a lot about Steve Williams. The Jackasses... err.. Jacksons then make their entrance with Kenny Omega and Cody Hall in tow. On his way to the ring Omega mugs for the camera and goes on about how some fans took part in a "waste of time and money last week" referring to Wrestlemania 32 and then says something about The New Day in some goofy twitter feud that never went anywhere. We come back from the break as the ref is checking all six guys over and The Club says the heck with it and starts the fight. Tanahashi gets tossed from the ring and then Elgin. Omega immediately goes for the Styles clash on Yoshi but Elgin and Tanahashi make the save. Elgin military presses one of the Jacksons and tosses him out on top of Cody outside the ring. Tanahashi and Yoshi suplex the other Jackson and Omega and then Elgin grabs both of them and suplexes them by himself. Total hoss. The good guys then give the DX "suck it" to the club and they decide they are done and start walking to the back. All three of the other team go out and chase them on the floor and we got another fight! They fight towards an entrance way and somehow Nick Jackson goes up above the doorway and Jumps off with a swan dive. He literally comes down right on top of Cody's head and you can see him immediate turn to Cody and ask if he's okay. Everyone starts fighting back towards the ring except Cody who is sprawled out on the floor motionless. That's not good.  Omega is still at the doorway somehow gets a flatbed cart and a trashcan. He puts Elgin on it and puts the can over his head. He then pushes the cart right into a superkick by one of the Bucks. The club gets back in the ring as again Omega tries for a styles clash on Yoshi, but Tanahashi breaks it up. Tanahashi takes out all three guys with legwhips and misdirection before omega stops that quick with a jumping knee to the face. Yoshi gets sent back to the floor with a kick from one of the Jacksons, It is about here that JR makes a steroid joke that leads to him plugging his BBQ sauce and then tries to say Los Ingobernables and REALLY mush-mouthes that all in the span of about ten seconds. Anyway,  All three Club members go sailing over the rope in a swan dive. Tanahashi is shoved in the ring and Omega tries for the pin. It gets only 2. He delivers a backbreaker and then the Bucks deliver a neck/backbreaker combo. Matt comes in and tries for a pin but doesn't get it. We then go back and see Cody being put on a stretcher in a neck brace. Wouldn't surprise me if he didn't get a stinger from having one of the Jackson's come down full force right on the top of Cody's head. Back from the break, The Club have Tanahashi trapped in their corner and rake his back.  Kenny tags in and puts Tanahashi back in the corner and rakes the back again. JR then goes off about Bill Watts not allowing that in Mid-South Wrestling. Jim, WHO CARES?!? Matt locks in a headlock but Tanahashi fights out of it. He takes down the two Club guys off the apron but Matt hits a kick. He whips Tanahashi into the corner but runs right into an elbow. Tanahashi goes for the tag but his partners are yanked off the apron but the Club and he can't get it. Matt has Tanahashi back in the ring but Hiroshi nails him with a jawbreaker and rakes his nails down Matt's back before tagging in Yoshi. Yoshi goes up top but doesn't do anything as he leaps over Matt Jackson. He proceeds to take out all three guys with strikes before he launches into several kicks on Matt. He chops him down and hits a middle kick before getting a two count. He gets whipped in the buckle but rolls right onto the apron to deliver a springboard dropkick to Matt, but again, only gets a two count. Both guys get up and Matt holds Tatsu after a missed sidekick. Nick comes in with the superkick but nails his own brother by mistake. Elgin comes in now and scoops up both guys and flings them across the ring. Yoshi hooks on some kind of spinning leglock on Matt but Omega rolls in with Cold spray and sprays Yoshi's eyes and then gets Elgin and Tanahashi with it too. Omega goofs around in the ring for a while before he actually gets tagged in the ring. Nick Jackson nails Yoshi with a shoulderblock on the apron and then moonsaults out onto Elgin before giving him a twisting DDT. Yoshi gets sent into the corner where all three Club members hit him with a triple kick. They hold Tatsu on the ropes for a senton attack but Kenny only gets a two count. Tanahashi comes in but gets sent right back out as Omega goes for the Styles clash again, but this time Elgin and Tanahashi come in and spray the cold spray in Omega's face! The Bucks get up as well. Yoshi tries a roll up on Omega but he kicks out. Kenny tries for a jumping knee but misses. He walks right into a slingshot elbow from Elgin who comes in and tears into both Jacksons. He suplexes Matt and tries it again but Matt holds onto Nick. Elgin doesn't care as he grabs both Jacksons and suplexes them down. They set up Nick in the corner and all three guys give him splashes in the corner. Elgin and Tanahashi set up a splat attack but Nick gets his knees up. Matt comes in and they double superkick Elgin down. They go to put the Meltzer driver on Yoshi, but Elgin catches Nick Jackson and powerbombs him down onto Omega outside the ring. Yoshi delivers a high knee to Matt Jackson to send him down and Elgin grabs Nick from the apron and delivers the corner Falcon Arrow but Omega breaks up the pin attempt. Tanahashi and Yoshi pick nick up and feed him to Elgin who powerbombs him from the middle rope and pins him. We have new Champions! We come back from break as the new champions receive their belts. Elgin and Tanahashi lift Yoshi on their shoulders and keep trying to put him over as the crowd does actually cheers for him. Elgin goes over and stares down omega in the ring as Omega bows up as Elgin wants the IC title now. As they leave the ring Bad Luck Fale comes out of the crowd and attacks Tanahashi! He hits the grenade before Elgin and Yoshi run back into the ring. Backstage, Yoshi tries to have Tanahashi and Elgin join his Bullet club hunters group, and they both shrug him off! They leave and Capt, New Japan shows up saying HE wants to be a Bullet Club hunter, and Yoshi brushes HIM off. In the studio now Yoshi talks about not wanting to brag about being a champion, he just wanted to be back in the ring. He clarifies that Capt. New Japan has nothing to do with the Bullet Club Hunters and that no one in the locker room wants anything to do with him (ouch!) even if the fans wanted him in there. We kick off the second hour of action with Kushida giving us a greeting.   NEVER Openweight title: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan The backstory here is that Tenzan and his older wrestling buddies Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, and Marofuji Nakanishi made some comments about Shibata not being a good champion. Like any good wrestling company, you say stuff like that you settle it in the ring. Tenzan comes out first to a big reaction from the crowd. He has certainly earned it with all he's done. You see Nagata, Kojima, and Nakanishi in his corner. Shibata comes out with the belt in hand. They go nose to nose right off. We skip ahead just slightly as the bell rings and they go for a knuckle lock and Shibata takes him right to the ropes but Tenzan reverses the hold. Shibata comes out with some elbows and Tenzan gets a shoulder block. He misses the headbutt, but Shibata goes for a kick and misses. Shibata gets Tenzan into an anklelock.  He goes right into the figure four leg lock  Tenzan struggles but pulls him to the ropes and breaks the hold. Shibata lands the elbow in the corner and starts in with the kicks and stomps. The ref tries to break it up and Shibata tosses the ref halfway across the ring! Ref lets it go and Shibata lands two of his hanging dropkicks. Shibata pulls Tenzan out of the corner but Tenzan launches a headbutt and sends Shibata down. Tenzan gets the mount and lands a bunch of headbutts and Mongolian chops! Shibata gets back up but more chops sends Shibata back down. He lands some punches in the corner but Shibata pops up and yells at him. Tenzan lands another bad headbutt and sends him back down. Tenzan keeps up the offense with a clothesline and adds some kicks in for good measure. He lands a suplex but the cover attempt gets two. Tenzan locks in the anaconda vice lock. Shibata fights hard to get out and gets up to his feet, but Tenzan smartly uses a trip and turns it into an STO. We return from another break as Shibata is slow to get up. Tenzan lays in more headbutts and chops. One chop too many as Shibata catches the arm and turns it into an armlock. Tenzan scrambles and barely makes it to the ropes. Shibata begins to lay in some kicks now. He goes for a big kick but Tenzan lands a kick of his own. He tries for a cover but only gets two, but takes the position to lock in the cobra clutch! He gets Shibata up to his feet and then turns it into and drop on Shibata. He lets go and goes for the cover, getting a two. Tenzan then goes for the ropes to try a moonsault, but Shibata catches him on the buckle and hits a powerbomb! Shibata tries to grab Tenzan but Tenzan BLASTS him with a uppercut headbutt. Shibata's is loopy now on the canvas. Tenzan slides in and gets his side anaconda vice hold. Shibata struggles with it but is able to get a foot on the ropes. Tenzan goes for a suplex but Shibata counters and brings him over. He kind of messes up and nearly drops Tenzan on his head. He gets a two count on the pin attempt. Shibata locks in the rear choke and Tenzan struggles to get to the rope and gets the break but Shibata lands a kick right to Tenzan's head. Shibata locks in another choke and Tenzan is toast. Shibata gets him down on the canvas and hits the PK to get the pin and retain the title. The old guys come in to help Tenzan as Shibata stands over them. He surprises the crowd by bowing to them in respect, only to clobber Nagata! Yuji gets back as the young boys have to hold him back! He's pissed now! Backstage Tenzan says he will be back. Shibata says he looks down at immature old men who don't realize their inability. It's not their time anymore. He held the belt but was treated like the challenger and that motivated him. In the studio with Kushida now. We see the video of Okada announcing Ospreay being the newest member of CHAOS. He mentions Okada making the challenge and wonders if he had the right to do that. Ospreay is special, but he has no Japan experience. He was excited about the match. When asked about Will fighting for the title in his debut, Kushida says that having to defeat a bunch of contenders for a title shot is boring so he wants to put the belt up. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title: Kushida vs. Will Ospreay The build up was already explain but here is a little something about Ospreay. The Englishman was getting a lot of word of mouth out of the British/Scottish wrestling scene and got a big jump when he won the "Best of the Super Juniors" tournament. The rumor was he was sought after by the WWE for their Cruiserweight Classic tournament this past summer but he turned it down saying he had a lot he wanted to accomplish first before going to WWE. He was replaced by Zach Sabre jr. who did the very same thing and turned the WWE down. Commence to drooling folks. Ospreay comes out in bright pink tights and carrying the Union Jack.  Kushida comes out next wearing the belt and his usual Time Splitter gear. They mention the title goes back to 1986 and mention Will could be the first British wrestler to win the title. We come back from break and we are ready to go! Bell rings and both guys stare each other down. Waistlock by Kushida, Will reverses into an armlock, but Kushida reverses into a wristlock. Will bounces his way out of that into a wristlock and a Breakin 2: Electric Bugaloo reference from Josh. Kushida gets the trip and gets into a headlock. Will shoots him off and they counter and cartwheel each other over before Kushida lands the head scissors and have a staredown to the crowd's approval. Kushida tries for a back guard, but Will doesn't go for it. He lands in some strikes but Kushida lands the inverted atomic drop and a dropkick to the knee! Will goes for the cover but only gets two. He lays in some chops and a European uppercut. He tries to whip Kushida, but Kushida hangs on and gets a chop for his trouble. Kushida snaps the arm sending Will outside. Kushida jumps up and does a top rope dive bomb to Ospreay at ringside. Will gets back in and Kushida works on the arm with a finger lock and a stomp. He locks in an armlock but Will tries to counter out but Kushida ain't going for it. Will tries a headscissors but Kushida gets right back into the armlock. He ties up Will's arms in a knot while stretching the arm at the same time. Will counters with a jawbreaker but Kushida strikes the arm. Kushida takes the arm and wrenches it down. He tries to go for Will's arm again but Ospreay counters with a jumping kick to the head! Out of the break, Will is in pain but gets up. Kushida immediately snaps the arm again and then lands a strong kick to the arm. Kushida goes for his reverse springboard elbow but Will ducks and lands a hit of his own. Will lands a springboard dropkick and sends Kushida outside. Will dives over the rope in a cannonball and lands on his feet. They both get in the ring and Will hits a reverse lungblower. He hits the corkscrew splash but only gets two. With Kushida down Will gets a gleam in his eye and picks Kushida up. He winds up the arm and goes for the rainmaker clothesline! Kushida counters it into a wristlock! Ospreay scrambles for the ropes and as Kushida breaks the lock he lands in some kicks to the arm. Will counters with a high knee strike and gets a reverse splash off the ropes, but only gets a two count. Will goes out for the buckle again but Kushida gets the reverse heel kick. Kushida goes up and comes down with Kushida landing the armbar!  Will gets to the ropes and Kushida breaks, but he then drills Will with a dropkick. They start exchanging elbows and palm strikes back and forth. Kushida lands some short kicks but that just pisses Will off. Kushida hits the baseball punch that has Will down in a split on the mat. Will somehow counters into a pin attempt but doesn't get it. We come back from break as Will goes for the ropes again but Kushida jumps up and catches him. Will slides out and ties Kushida in the buckles and strikes him in the butt. Will goes up and lands the splash but Kushida hooks up for a pin attempt. Kushida lands a kick to the arm. Kushida goes for the hoverboard lock but Will just launches him. Kushida  locks in the triangle lock but Will lifts him up on his shoulders. He goes for a slam but Kushida gets the hoverboard lock and Will taps. Kushida retains! DAMN! That was a good one! As Kushida celebrates, Jushin Liger comes into the ring. Liger congratulates him. Liger says he is in his "last phase" but is curious to see if he can do it one more time and lays down the challenge. Kushida says he will not accept any objections and Liger is the new challenger. Backstage Kushida says that wrestling isn't all jumping and flying. He is amazed by Ospreay, especially for only 22 years old. In the studio, Kushida was surprised by Will's strength and he has a stable core strength. He says that for now it' about how many supporters Ospreay can get so that the two of them can main event in the Tokyo dome. He wants it to happen as his dream. He thinks it should be a fan vote and that they would win a fan poll. A good pair of shows. No bad matches per say. You see a noticeable difference in skill level between Tanga Roa and his brother. Despite all the work he has done with WWE and TNA, Roa just doesn't seem to have a whole lot to offer beyond kicks and basic power guy stuff. Hopefully, time in HJPW will improve on that. And I gotta admit, I'm not sold on Yoshi Tatsu either. He just screams mid carder to me. maybe all his worthless effort in WWE has ruined me, but he just doesn't seem like a star to me. The second hour was a lot of fun with both matches. The NEVER match was fun as it had something different that many of Shibata's matches do not have. And the Juniors match was great! Ospreay is every bit as good as his hype would say and will love to see more from him in japan in the future. Next week we get two more episodes as we will see Naito and Okada for the World title and Elgin and Omega fighting for the IC belt. See you then!    
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Will Ospreay arrives!
Hey, Gang! Welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are taking a look at Invasion Attack from April 10, 2016. We have two episodes tonight as the action is coming from the famed Sumo Hall in Tokyo. Let's get to the action!

Strong Style: Fight for the cup!

Nov 20 // Soul Tsukino
We start off with a greeting from Naito! New Japan Cup semifinals: Toru Yano v/s Tetsuya Naito Naito defeated Yoshi Hashi and Tomohiro Ishii while Yano defeated Yujiro Takahashi and Satoshi Kojima to get to this point. An odd match with the Trickster in Yano and Mr. Tranquilo Naito. Naito comes out first in his white suit and fuzzy mask. He is taking his time on this one as always. Yano jogs right to the ring and starts whacking away with a chair!  He cracks Naito a few times as the bell rings. He gets in a couple of clubbing shots and whips Naito into the ropes but Naito hangs on. He tries for a clothesline but Yano slips around and gets the roll up for two. Naito is wide -eyed and surprised now! He pops up looking to attack but Yano slips between the ropes and the ref stops Naito. Naito pushes the ref out of the way and does a roll to just lay down in front of Yano and glare at him. Yano says the heck with it and walks across the ring and pulls off the turnbuckle pad in full view of Naito and the ref. He turns around and kicks a standing Naito but Naito rakes his eyes and hits an atomic drop. He spits on Yano for good measure. Naito tries to run in for something and Yano catches him in an atomic drop. Naito comes charging in and lands right into the exposed second buckle. Yano tries for a quick pin but doesn't get it. Naito is all out of sorts as Naito tries his hair pull pin but doesn't get it. Naito goes for the waistlock but Yano reverses it and pushes Naito into the ref. Yano then goes low and delivers the low blow and tries to roll Naito up, but hee's got a hold of the ref so when Naito goes over, the ref goes flying over as well. Yano yelled at the ref to get up but Naito comes over. Yano tries another low kick but Naito catches the foot and kicks low himself before getting the roll up and the pin. The match was two minutes long, but with these two that is not unexpected. New Japan Cup semifinals: Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Elgin Elgin beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Bad Luck Fale while Goto defeated Yuji Nagata and Tama Tonga to get to this match. Also worth mentioning is that Goto has won the NJ Cup three times, but has never been able to cash it in for a belt. Yeah, this should be a much better match. Goto is in white but no paint this time. Bell rings and they circle around with the crowd going nuts for Elgin. Japan loves a hoss evidently. They lock up and Big Mike just shoves him down. Goto gets up and tries for a waistlock but Elgin reverses. Goto elbows out but stupidly tries a shoulderblock and Mike just stands there like a breeze hit him. Goto tries another one and Elgin bounces off the ropes and runs over Goto with a block of his own. Elgin gets in some clubs and drives Goto back into the corner. Mike tries the whip but Goto reverses it. Mike stumbles out and Goto meets him with some of his hard kicks. Elgin catches one of the kicks and Does an ENZIGURI! Goto goes outside the ring but Mike follows him onto the apron. he then comes off with a rolling cannonball onto Goto on the floor! We move ahead slightly as both men are on the apron slugging it out now. Elgin hits the bicycle kick to put Goto down. Mike gets back in the ring and goes up to the middle rope. and grabs onto Goto for a suplex and lifts him up from the apron. He brings him down in a falcon arrow in the ring but only gets a two count. Elgin gets Goto up and delivers the bucklebomb. He goes for a second one but Goto slips out. Elgin goes for his spinning back fist but Goto just headbutts him down. CRACK!  Goto goes for a sleeper but Elgin just shoves him off. Mike calls for a clothesline but Goto hooks it and turns it around into a roll up and the pin! Words from Naito He wasn't worried who faced him in the finals. He has never won against Goto and was excited to see a changed Goto in this match. New Japan Cup Finals: Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito A rematch from WrestleKingdom and a grudge match. The winner here gets to choose which singles title he wants a shot at. No time limit. Neither guy had a very long semi match as you just saw. Naito comes out first with Bushi and is in his regular sweatshirt and hat entering the ring. Goto comes out without his jacket and looks ready to go even though he had the tougher match. Goto stares down Naito entering the ring but backs off for the introductions. We also get a look at the actual trophy and DAMN! Bell rings and the crowd seems to be for Goto. They circle slowly as Naito seems disinterested. They go to lock up and Naito pulls back so Goto just start throwing strikes and gets some armdrags on Naito. He lays in some kicks before a chinlock. Naito gets a foot on the ropes but Goto lays in some boots. Naito starts to fight back but Goto lays in some kicks. Naito shoots Goto in the ropes and Bushi trips him. Naito then hits a low dropkick to send Goto to the floor.  Naito whips him into the barrier and Bushi comes over and starts in on Goto, whipping him into the barrier as well. Bushi chucks Goto into the ring. Naito lays in a good strike before tying Goto up in the tree of woe. Naito lays in some kicks and Bushi comes around and starts choking Goto as well. Meanwhile, Naito has shoved the ref down for little reason. Goto falls to the mat. Naito picks him up to whip him into the corner but meets a kick for the charge.  Goto runs out but Naito catches him with an atomic drop and then a neckbreaker. Naito poses a bit before pulling Goto up and slinging him into the ropes. Naito hits an elbow and then a low dropkick. Naito gets a cover but Goto kicks out. Naito lock in a chinlock, Goto gets out with a few elbows and goes for the ropes but Naito meets him with a kick. Naito goes for the ropes but Goto follows him in and folds him in half with a big clothesline! Goto whacks away with the forearm. Naito comes back with a few of his own and sends Goto into the corner. Naito misses the charge but goes to the ropes but Goto runs him over AGAIN with a clothesline. Goto gets him in the corner and gets a spin kick on Naito and then a Saito suplex. Goto goes for a German suplex but Naito escapes. Goto charges the buckle but misses and Naito gets him over the rope hanging low dropkick. He leaps to the top and lands a missile dropkick. Naito lands the German suplex but Goto kicks out. Naito sets Goto on the buckle but Goto escapes and hits a strike on Naito. He jumps up and goes for the superplex but Naito blocks. Goto keeps fighting but Naito still hanging on. Goto goes to the top rope and finally gets the superplex. Both guys splat on the canvas in a heap. We return from break with both guys down. Goto hits a corner clothesline and he goes right up to the top and lands a big elbow. He tries for the pin but Naito kicks out. He picks Naito up but Naito squirms out. Goto meets him with some forearms, though. He shoots Naito into the ropes and Naito tries a flying forearm but Goto steps out of the way. He then grabs Naito's hair and snaps him back down right on the knee! Damn, that's how you hurt someone permanently. Goto then hits the ushigoroshi! He's not going for the pin though as he sets up for the shotenkai, but Naito lands a knee and gets out. Naito delivers a tornado DDT and now both guys are down. They struggle up and exchange some forearm shots before Naito hits an enziguri and a flying forearm. He drags Goto over and puts him n the top rope for a super hurrancanarana but the pin only gets two. He picks Goto up and Naito tries for gloria (reverse wristlock lift into a suplex) but Goto blocks it. Naito hits a rolling Liger kick and hits gloria but the pin again gets two. Naito tries destino but Goto blocks it and gets a ushigoroshi!  They struggle up and Goto puts Naito in the top rope and gets him up for the super ushigoroshi and hits it! The cover is REALLY close to three. Naito scrambles to get up and lands a few forearms. Goto tries a kick but Naito catches his leg. He drops it and just elbows Goto in the face. Goto responds with a string headbutt and a kick to the guts. He gets Naito up and drills him with a shotenkai but can't get the pin! Goto sets up for a suplex but EVIL shows up. Goto gets him and delivers an ushigoroshi. Bushi goes down. Goto gets Naito with a corner clothesline and sets up for another ushigoroshi but Naito counters into a DDT!  Both guys get to their knees and trade forearms. Goto seems to get the better of it. They are up to their feet and more forearms. Naito lands a palm strike right to Goto's head and then another one. Goto lands a headbutt but Naito hits a dragon suplex. Naito hits Destino and gets the pin! Wow, what a match! Bushi and EVIL beat down Goto and lick him out of the ring. They go out and keep beating on him and takes a few shots at the young boys. Naito struggles to get up as he is presented the trophy.  He calls for a fist bump from the presenter. Who climbs out of the ring and then comes back in to give him the fist bump. That...was odd. Back from break with Naito in the ring. He says he challenges Okada but he will decide WHEN that match happens. Bushi and EVIL toss Goto back in the ring as Naito runs him down saying that only the costume has changed and nothing else. Maybe he should wear a mask Naito asks. They then start laying into him but Okada, Gedo, and Ishii run in to break it up. Okada extends a hand to Goto and Goto shakes it! Okada asks if Naito will challenge him in Ryogoku, and not be scared. He will finish Naito off at Invasion Attack. Naito gets up on the apron and they have a staredown, but Okada backs off and leaves. Naito grabs the mic and says if Okada wants to fight at Ryogoku that bad, he will. he tells Okada not to rush and tranquilo. In the back, Goto says this has to stop before he gets up and leaves. Okada says Goto is a CHAOS member and Naito should be scared. Naito says he is not to subordinate to Okada. He buries the concept of the tournament, saying he shouldn't have to fight right off the bat after winning, but says since the champ challenged him he will do it Studio words now as Naito says Goto was struggling and was quite easy for him in this fight. Again he buries the idea that the tournament cup winner has to fight at Ryogoku. He says Goto is a good wrestler and he respected him, but in this match, Goto disappointed him. The first two matches were a complete wash, no doubt about it. However, the final match was really good so in a tournament format, it can be excused. With Goto, they are going somewhere with this "change" storyline with him but I have no idea where. Great show tonight! We are off next week but after that, we got another double shot of wrestling including the first match on this show featuring the amazing Will Ospreay! See you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Cup time!
Hello! Welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.  With WrestleKingdom in the rearview mirror, it's now time to determine the next top contender with the New Japan Cup tournament...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 5-7

Nov 16 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 5 This seems like a tale of two kitties. The big thing about this episode is that despite the complete BLOODBATH that occurred in the last episode. It's completely ignored. Wakamatsu getting his skull crushed and then ran into the ring post? He's perfectly fine! Tiger Mask bleeding worse than the infamous Muta scale match with Hiroshi Hase (look it up on YouTube if you aren't squeamish)? Nope, he's all good. I know Japan is known for wrestlers not selling big moves but C'mon! Anyway, the big story point here is that Tiger Mask has joined New Japan Pro Wrestling officially. Before his first match, he runs into Fukuawara Mask. An odd trickster type character who bares a striking resemblance to real life wrestler Ebbasan from about ten years ago. We see Fukuwara mask wrestle Wakamatsu in a match and totally trick Wakamatsu in getting carted out. Tiger Mask ends up fighting Tomoaki Honma.. and of course, pins him after Honma misses the Kokeshi headbutt. Well, give the producers points for accuracy there! At a different arena, the GWM is having a show. Tiger the Dark crushes some guy and it turns out things are not united with the GWM wrestlers. Seems the vets don't like how a newcomer like Tiger the Dark is dominating his opponents, especially the main guy Bosman. It is now apparent that Tiger The Dark (Takuma), Kevin Andersen, and Mike are an island unto themselves in the GWM. This leads to both Tigers being in different battles royal (the proper way to plural battle royal according to Gordon Solie). Tiger the Dark draws number one in a royal rumble style where a new man enters the ring every few minutes (facing 18 nobodies and Bosman) and Tiger Mask is in a regular battle royal where we see Okada, Wakamatsu, Honma, Ishii, Fukuwara Mask, Makabe, and Nagata as an in-ring competitor. They are fighting it out for...rice. Seriously, the biggest wrestling names in Japan are fighting over rice. This episode is short on story. Other than having Tiger Mask join NJPW, there isn't a lot of exposition here. It is a much lighter episode than the last one, but they pretty much ignore everything that happened in that episode too. No healing, no revenge, no nothing. Really detracts from the flow of the series.  Hopefully, this branches into something bigger. Episode 6 Straight up, this episode makes little sense and is so not important to the story it seems to be spoofing itself. So now that he has joined NJPW Tiger Mask's next opponent is Gorilla Jeet Singh. A scimitar wielding psychopath that barely speaks any decipherable language and grunts a groans a lot. Of course, this is a spoof of Tiger Jeet Singh, a wrestler originally from the Punjab (later living in Canada) who was recruit by Antonio Inoki to play a foreign bad guy against him in the '70s, despite not having a whole lot of actual wrestling skill. He would run to the ring carrying a fencing saber and attack fans in the crowd. He wrestled (brawled would be more accurate) for over 30 years, most of it in Japan. Anyway in the lead up to the fight, NJPW is going to have "the next generation of Idol singers" sing a song before the fight. These two little brats are Nama Ham and Yaki Udon, you know their names because they say it constantly and speak in the third person. They hate wrestling and even send out a message on their website about how they were tricked into doing the show. They arrive in the ring for the show and the women wrestling fans damn near boo them out of the building and throw trash at them in the ring. What does any of this have to do with the plot of the series? Red Shoes, got any ideas? Yup. That sums up my feelings on this one. Tiger Mask fights the guy, and the only good thing out of this episode is Gorilla signs voice acting. It is hilarious. One the other hand, the idol singers look and sound awful. I still can't figure out if they just act that way to get attention, they are trying to "play heel", or if they really are as big of brats as they sound. They also both sound, and are animated to look like they are 30 years old. Short and sweet, you can skip this episode completely and you won't lose a thing. Episode 7 This episode was titled "Naoto and Naoto" and promised to be something more about the original Tiger Mask anime. Did it live up to its promise? This episode thankfully has way more purpose than the last episode did. It does have a lot going on with more than one storyline at work in this episode. There is a lot of mention of the past, but it isn't the sole story being told here. Tiger Mask and Haruna are in Okinawa for a New Japan wrestling show. The Main Event is Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata facing Okada and his CHAOS buddy Yoshi Hashi. But before any of that, we see the reporter  Hikari digging around in some archive and then asking a distracted Haruna for an interview with Tiger Mask. The interview is very brief. Hikari tells the story of the original Tiger Mask to him and asks if he is from the Tiger's Den, if he is related to Tiger Mask, and why use the name. He answers he is not from the Den, not related to Naoto Date, and he answers that she should be able to find out why he took the Tiger Mask name on his own. This episode also gave us some background on the bad guy side of things as well. In a follow-up from two episodes ago, Tiger the Dark gets his shot at the GWM US title, thanks to winning the battle royal. He is facing off against Bosman (in the "Kow Bell" arena in Texas) and beats him for the belt. His rookie buddies Kevin and Mike congratulate him backstage \and soon the other wrestlers do too. Bosman is demoted to indy shows and Miss X is called to Mr. X's office. He then explains the story of the original Tiger Mask from their side of things. Original Tiger Mask beat the then top executive of the company Tiger The Great, and nearly sank the organization, leading to the original Mr. X to die is despair. He doesn't say how he became Mr. X or how Miss X got to where she is, but between this and the earlier scene, it does get us up to speed a bit on what has happened since the original show. The other ongoing plot here follows an old street vendor and his granddaughter. The old guy is banged up after a drunken argument over wrestlers being stronger than karate guys. This leads to him seeing an ad about the new Tiger Mask wrestling and he thinks it's the original. His granddaughter follows him to the show, and it's her first wrestling event. She's enthralled but the old guy is skeptical of anyone using the Tiger Mask name. He watches the main event and starts having flashbacks when he sees Tiger Mask use the back suplex just like the original did. Like I said earlier, this episode had a clear purpose of linking the shows together, and it worked. However, it didn't take the clear path to do it, and that's good in this case. An episode like this in most other shows would literally be two characters talking with a mountain of flashbacks and not much else going on, but this show not only breaks things up with stuff going on like Tiger the Dark winning the title and The tag match, but we even got to see the events of the original from both perspectives of the story. And look who also shows up? Speaking of the flashbacks, I give credit because they did these scenes perfectly. The flashback scenes were animated to look as close to anime in the early '70s as possible. The animators here did an amazing job with the retro style in these scenes and I believe having that distinction really made the flashback scenes work. Big Kudos for doing that. So this was easily a much better and more productive to the story episodes than the last one. It had a purpose and fulfilled that, and didn't take the easiest road to do it either. Hopefully, this means we are back on track after going off the rails a bit. Overall These eps were a mixed back. Episode 5 was alright, but a let down after the bloodfest of the previous episode. Episode 6 is a totally skippable wash, but Episode 7 gets it right. Fight On Tiger Mask! [Catch Tiger Mask W on Crunchyroll.]
Tiger Mask W photo
The good, the bad, and the kitty
Heya Japanator readers! Welcome to our look at the Tiger Mask W anime with episodes 5-7. When we last saw our hero, Naoto, under the mask of Tiger Mask, he got the crap beaten out of him but was able to defeat Red Death Mask in the end. Meanwhile, Tiger the Dark is being overlooked. Ley's see what happens next!

Strong Style: Double the action from Niigata!

Nov 15 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted in the first hour by Bushi. Someone new to open up our action. IWGP Tag titles: Global Bash Heel (Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma) vs. Bullet Club (Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows) A rematch from WrestleKingdom 10. No big secret here that Anderson and Gallows are on their way out for the WWE at this point, even if they stuck around longer than Styles and Nakamura who had already left. Josh Barnett starts us off as JR doesn't say anything for a few minutes. Club comes out with Tama Tonga and Fale. GBH come out and Honma's got a smile. We immediately jump ahead in the match as all four are in the ring. GBH sends the club out and poses before Makabe goes outside to fight with Gallows while Honma and Anderson stay in the ring to fight. The camera stays on the fight on the outside WAY too long and misses Honma and Anderson trading clotheslines. Honma finally puts Anderson down with a running clothesline. He scoops Anderson up into a slam and then misses a falling headbutt. As this is going on Gallows and Makabe as still fighting outside. Honma rolls out of the ring and Anderson follows him. Togi has his head placed on the barrier and Gallows kicks the metal to jar Togi while Anderson brings Honma all the way up the entrance ramp. Anderson and Honma trade blows until Gallows runs up and clobbers Honma down. They set him up and give him a decapitator on the ramp and THEN the ref starts to count. Anderson holds Honma's arm off the side of the ramp and Gallows just drops on it. Ouch. Honma scrambles and barely gets back in the ring where Anderson is waiting for him. Anderson starts in with a wristlock and then a hammerlock on the arm. He quickly tags on Gallows who then attacks the wrong arm! He hits some good headbutts but he looks kinda stupid now, so he tags Anderson back in who wraps Honma's correct arm around the top rope and works it over with an arm wrench and then a few kicks on it for good measure. Anderson just throws him down to the mat and tries three times in a row to get the pin but Honma keeps kicking out. He tags in Gallows now who lands some kicks (in the correct arm) before tossing Honma outside where Anderson wraps Honma's arm around the barrier and wrenches back on it. Meanwhile, Togi just gets back up on the apron just for Gallows to nail him down. Anderson goes back outside and kicks Honma and then Gallows slams a chair right on the sore arm. Against Honma scrambles back in the ring, but again he does it really awkwardly like "I'm hurt! Now I'm perfectly fine! Now I'm hurt again" looks kind of hokey doing that. The Club work over Honma some more and they send him to the corner where Gallows goes for a charge but Honma moves. He is almost to the corner when Anderson comes in and kicks Togi off the apron. The ref chases him out as Gallows is pounding on Honma. Gallows goes for a big suplex but Honma blocks it and just muscles the bigger Gallows over for a suplex. Makabe finally gets the tag!  He comes in and clubs both guys down. Gallows tries an attack but Makabe just flattens him with a clothesline. He throws Anderson into the barrier and clotheslines him before running across the ring and clotheslining Gallows. Togi climbs the ropes and beats on Gallows. Togi runs him over with a BIG clothesline and goes for the pin but Anderson breaks it up. Honma comes in and throws Anderson out and both he and Togi do a double clothesline on Gallows, putting the big guy to his knees. Honma goes to the ropes but Anderson trips him and pulls Honma outside while Gallows lands a big bicycle kick to put Togi on the mat. We return from the break with Togi and Gallows making the tag so Honma and Anderson are in the ring now. They exchange some fists before Honma gets the upper hand and gets Karl into the corner when Honma catches him and sends him down with a bulldog. Honma's feeling it now and the crowd is right with him. He nails the falling headbutt and then gets in a middle rope blockbuster! He tries for a pin but doesn't get it. Karl gets up and both starts throwing forearms away back and forth. Again Karl misses a corner charge and Honma sends him down with a clothesline. Togi comes in and takes Gallows down in the corner. GBH try for the doomsday headbutt but Gallows comes in and hits Honma in the top turnbuckle to stop that. Anderson punches out off from Togi's shoulders and sends Makabe right out of the ring. Both Club guys send Honma into the corner where Anderson hits a jumping kick and Gallows hits a clothesline and body press. Honma stumbles out of the corner right into a reverse neckbreaker by Anderson. He tries for a pin but Makabe runs in to break it up., Gallows grabs hold of Togi and sends him out and then goes after him. In the ring Anderson hits a version of his gun stun move He tries for a pin but Honma kicks out. They exchange strikes before Honma just hits the headbutt on Anderson and flattens him. He tries with Gallows but Gallows counters with a kick to Honma's head. He then gets the sit-down powerbomb and yells at Anderson to get him since Karl is the legal guy. Karl uses a bloody Sunday DDT. The Club goes for the magic killer but Togi comes to interrupt it, but Gallows NAILS him in the throat with an uppercut. The club goes for a double clothesline but Honma headbutts the grip to break it and Togi runs down Anderson. Makabe then grabs HONMA and starts chopping him in the corner. He's waking up his buddy. Makabe signals for the big finish as GBH get Anderson up and hit the doomsday headbutt. Togi clothesline's Gallows outside and Honma slams Anderson in the ring. Makabe goes up and hits the king Kong knee drop and then Honma hits the kokeshi headbutt and scores the win! After posing a bit, Tama Tonga grabs the mic and makes the challenge for the title belts. He says his partner will be the new bullet club member and that they will destroy them and become the champions. Togi replies (in English), "Anytime, Anywhere, no problem" . The champs leave and The Club have a huddle and group hug in the ring before Gallows and Anderson bow to the crowd. Oddly JR doesn't mention that this is their last match in Japan as until this point. Backstage Anderson puts over New Japan and even Makabe and Honma before saying that Tama Tonga and the new member of the club will win the belts. He says the club started with these guys and Prince Devitt (Finn Baylor) and that the Bullet Club will go down as the best group in history because they were real and friends. Watch out Okada, watch out Makabe and Honma. Anderson and Gallows may be leaving, but they aren't gone. Studio words from Bushi now. He was just coming off an injury and got a chance to talk to Naito, saying he couldn't keep going like he was (as a curtain jerker). However, he is still his own person and not just a follower of Naito. He doesn't mind what Kushida wants to do with the Juniors division, but the idea that Kushida is what makes the belt shine is a misunderstanding IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Kushida vs. Bushi This match was set up the day after WrestleKingdom when Bushi attacked Kushida at a show and blinded him with mist in the eyes, saying he was the next of the juniors in line for the belt. As Bushi comes to the ring JR and Josh talk about the set up for this match and that Bushi said he was sick of the Juniors in New Japan being a foreigners playground. They also point out that Los Ingobernables is based off Naito and others excursion to Mexico. We return from the commercial as the bell rings. Instead of a lock up, Kushida slides down to the mat for a guard position which is a strange position to start a match. Doesn't go anywhere as he gets right back up again. Bushi goes in and Kushida goes for a single leg takedown but the masked man catches him and goes into a waist lock but slides into and armlock. Kushida slides into a reverse and then into a headlock. He flows into a single leg takedown and into a front face lock. Bushi keeps trying to counter but Kushida counters that and keeps the headlock going. Kushida keeps a float on Bushi but the masked man gets out. Kushida whiffs a big spinning kick that the audience appreciates and he reminds Bushi he just nearly knocked his block off. Bushi is able to grab and headlock and they run the ropes avoiding each other's attempts at a move before they both throw a dropkick at the same time and back off for the stare down, much to the applause of the audience. Bushi's no slouch at the mat game either it seems. Bushi complains since Kushida won't shake his hand. Bushi shakes the ref's hand for some reason and when Kushida goes to shake the hand Bushi just gouges right at his eyes. Bushi clubs Kushida but Kushida recovers to get a reverse atomic drop on Bushi and put him down on the mat face first before a cartwheel and then dropkicks Bushi right on the side of the head! Naito and EVIL show up at ringside as Kushida whips Bushi into the buckle but Bushi counters the charge with a kick using the middle ropes for leverage.  Bushi lands a dropkick from the top rope and then does a spinnerooni (the hell?!?) before spitting on Kushida. Bushi grabs Kushida from the apron and pulls him part way through the ropes and then dives down snapping Kushida on the ropes and falling to the floor. With the ref distracted Naito and EVIL go to work. Naito clobbers one of the young boys when EVIL horse collars Kushida with a chair and then smacks it with another chair! Kushida just gets in the ring at 18 and is immediately caught by Bushi who snap mares him over. Bushi locks in a stocks position and gets him up before dropping him down in a DDT. Pin only gets two.  Bushi locks in an STF hold and then starts fish hooking Kushida. Bushi releases the hold and gets up with Kushida trying a feeble chop  He lands some stronger shots to the stomach but Bushi shoots Kushida off and quickly strips off his t-shirt and starts strangling Kushida with it! Bushi releases the shirt and as the ref is warming him, EVIL comes over and slugs Kushida who is near the ropes. Bushi goes to the apron to claw at Kushida's face, but Kushida catches his arm and cranks it on the ropes. Kushida leaps into the ring and puts the masked man down with a clothesline. he starts throwing his karate style kicks to Bushi's arm and Bushi tries to counter by whipping Kushida in the ropes, but instead Kushida hits the rebound elbow. Bushi goes outside but Kushida comes over the top rope and nearly misses Bushi completely. Kushida gets back in the ring as Naito jumps on the apron, and doesn't do anything. Bushi tries to get in the ring, but Kushida nails his running dropkick. He goes up and tries for a moonsault but misses, trying to land on his feet but stumbles backward. Bushi runs up and tries for a code breaker, only for Kushida to grab the wrist and lock in a wristlock! He transitions into a cross armbreaker! Naito gets up on the apron and the ref starts screaming at him. Kushida gets up and tries for a heel kick on Naito but gets both he and the ref. EVIL tries to jump in the ring but Kushida takes him down with one shot and he goes out. Kushida kicks Bushi on the ropes and rolls right to the apron. Kushida jumps in for a slingshot clothesline but Bushi sprays the green mist!  Kushida rolls out of the ring and Bushi hits him with a suicida! Bushi attacks a young boy outside before rolling Kushida in the ring. He lay him on the top rope and hits him with a flying dropkick right to the base of the neck. We come back from commercial as Bushi heads up to the top rope. Kushida counters by running into the corner as Bushi leaps off and rolls through it. Bushi tries a kick but Kushida catches the leg, only for Bushi to kick him in the head with the other foot. Kushida is stunned but counters another Bushi kick and winds up with the baseball punch and crack, right in the jaw. He mounts on Bushi and starts palm striking him right in the face before hooking onto the mask and tries to rip the damn thing off! Bushi doesn't take to kindly and starts yelling before he starts smacking Kushida in the head with palm strikes. This breaks down into a fight before Kushida smacks Bushi with a strike, and Bushi just SLAPS Kushida in the face. Kushida doesn't like that either so he starts through heavy kicks right into Bushi's arm. Kushida takes the arm and wrenches it over his shoulder. He tries it again but Bushi reaches up and hooks Kushida into a backslide attempt. Then get all turned around before Bushi lands a low blow kick. Bushi then tries to put the REF in a backslide and uses that to spray red mist in Kushida's face. Bushi hits the code breaker and goes for the p\in but Kushida kicks out! Bushi scales the top rope and goes for a dive but Kushida catches HIM in the code breaker! Bushi is hurt now as e goes to the corner, Kushida is up and nails a dropkick to the sore arm. He goes for another attack but EVIL grabs the leg from outside the ring. Ryusuke Taguchi comes running over and clobbers him. In the ring, Kushida goes for the Hoverboard lock but can't get it in all the way. Naito gets on the apron and Kushida kicks off him to get Bushi down in the submission. The young boys and Taguchi at ringside block Naito and EVIL from getting in ad Kushida rolls Bushi over in the lock and gets the submission! Backstage Bushi says that he will make Kushida feel the humiliation he feels right now. If Kushida wants to elevate the juniors, go it on your own time. Back in the ring, Kushida says he couldn't see because of the mist, but he could hear the fans cheering. He will make the juniors the best ever. In the studio, Bushi says that the location really elevated the match. It wasn't so much the fans were booing him but will cheer him when he actually wins the title. He wants the junior singles belt and wins the Junior tag title, but he would have to find a partner for that. He says it's Naito's show since they all have individual abilities. He says it's different from teaming with EVIL than it is with Naito. He will keep on fighting! Hour Two! We are greeted by Kenny Omega, who goes pew pew pew. No kidding here folks. We get Studio words from Omega as he talks about throwing A.J. Styles out of the Bullet Club. He said you can't have a leader catering to the fans and that someone needed to take the reigns, there was no one else, it had to be him. He is there to make The Bullet Club the number one heel group in wrestling. He goes on to talk about wanting to face Nakamura, but that Shinsuke was scared and didn't want to lose. He says Tanahashi is no ace, and that on a worldwide scale he means nothing. He wants to take NJPW and lead it to new heights, to make it worldwide. IWGP Intercontinental Title: "The Cleaner" Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi As already hinted this was supposed to be Omega facing Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura either didn't want to drop the belt or wasn't allowed to so the belt was vacated and Tanahashi was put into this match. This is also Omega's singles debut in the heavyweight division after being the top heel Junior for so long. Omega comes out with Takahashi and Cody Hall in his sweet long black tights. Since we got this for the full hour, we get full introductions for both guys. Tanahashi comes out alone and as Josh says, probably with the useless Captain new Japan outside for support. His shoulder is taped up heavily as well. We come back from break as the bell rings. Both guys circle around and immediately Cody Hall sticks his arms in but doesn't do much. They lock up and trade back waist locks back and forth until they get into the ropes. Clean break from both men as Omega seems proud of it for some reason. Tanahashi locks in a headlock and Kenny tries to get out but can't. Kenny keeps trying, but Tanahashi switches to the other arm on the lock before switching into a waistlock  and then back into the headlock. Omega shoots him off but Tanahashi just runs over him with a shoulderblock. Yujiro Takahashi gets on the apron and grabs Tan, but Omega actually tells them to stop. Josh and JR aren't buying it. "Smart Marks are going to hate you for doing that. I can do this on my own."- Kenny Omega. Cody says something about "No, that's the jabroni way" before he and Takahashi leave. Omega hops in the ring and we get going. They trade wristlocks back and forth until they get into the corner. Tanahashi whips omega in but gets met with a kick when he charges. He comes in again and Omega moves but Tanahashi counters with a strike. Tanahashi goes on the middle rope but Kenny gets underneath him and immediately goes for the one winged angel! Tanahashi scurries out of that real quick and when Kenny goes for a strike Tanahashi kicks him and ducks another Kenny attack before whipping him into the corner. Kenny rebounds right into a back body drop. Omega scrambles over to the corner and Tanahashi is right on top of him with some kicks. he then does Good Vibrations (!?!) on Omega making the crowd cheer. He sets Omega on the top turnbuckle and goes for Nakamura's knee strike but Omega moves and he hits the buckle. Tanahashi tries to strike Omega, but Kenny catches it and drops the arm over the top rope. He comes back in and starts hammering on Tanahashi's arm now, but Tanahashi counters back with some liver punches and a forearm strike to the face. He runs the ropes but Omega tosses him over the top. Tanahashi tries to skin the cat but Omega is waiting for him and catches him into a shoulder breaker on the bad arm. We come back from break with Tanahashi on the floor and Omega goes after him. He starts stomping away on Tanahashi and throws him into the steel barricade. He yanks Tanahashi's arm through the bars and pulls for all his worth. He chokes Tanahashi out with a television wire as well. He whips Tanahashi into the barrier again but when Omega goes charging in, Tanahashi raises the feet and kicks Kenny in the face. However,  Kenny turns around and slugs Tanahashi and then throws him into the barrier again. He gets the ringside area to clean out as he tries a suplex over the barrier but can't get it. He wrings the arm over the barrier and tries it again, slamming Tanahashi down right in a section of metal chairs. He picks Tanahashi up, but also finds a Naito mask and puts it on. He hops on the barrier and does a perfect moonsault onto the standing Tanahashi. Nice! Kenny rolls into the ring as the ref begins to count. Tanahashi struggles and drags himself in at 19. Omega immediately goes for the tape on the shoulder and rips it off. He then gets in an armbar but then switches into a key lock on the good arm. He reaches down and grabs Tan's bad arm and pulls back on it. Ouch! He gets even worse as he bends the arm WAY back and actually leans back it with full body weight. MEGAOUCH! He lets go and then starts pounding on the bad shoulder with elbows before putting the arm in an armlock. Tanahashi counters out with some punches and gets to his feet but when he tries to run the ropes, Omega gets a sleeperhold on!  Tanahashi struggles and Omega turns it into a crossface chicken wing. He hops on Tanahashi's back for more leverage. Tanahashi falls back and squashes Omega down. They both struggle to get up. Omega charges the corner but Tanahashi moves. He strikes Omega a few times but Omega whips him into the ropes. Tanahashi comes off with a flying forearm  He sets Omega up for the middle rope senton, but Kenny pops right up. He scoops up Tanahashi for a shoulder breaker but Tanahashi wiggles out of that. Tanahashi goes for a kick but Kenny catches it and goes for a kick of his own that Tanahashi catches and gets Kenny in a dragon screw leg whip! Back from the break, as Tanahashi goes for the cloverleaf but Omega gets to the rope quickly. Omega gets up and gets a shot in. Tanahashi goes for the slingblade clothesline but Kenny dodges it and gets in a full nelson. he tries for a suplex but Tanahashi won't budge. Tanahashi then gets in a LOUD chop to Kenny's chest. Kenny rebounds off the ropes over Tan's head into the facebuster that he turns into an armbar. He cranks on it with all his might but Tanahashi is able to get to the ropes and break the hold, but Kenny keeps hold of the arm as they get up. He pulls on the arm as hard as he can. Kenny picks up Tanahashi in a foreman's carry and goes for the Finlay rolls but when he kips up, he wobbles the knee badly. He makes it up the corner on one leg and gets the moonsault but can't get the pin. Kenny tries for a gutwrench but can't get it and falls backward with Tanahashi falling right on the bad knee. He gets up and tries to walk it off but tries to get Tanahashi up in a Doctor-bomb but just can't get it. Kenny charges Tanahashi on the ropes but Tanahashi just lifts him up and dumps him over the ropes to the floor. Tanahashi sees this goes right to the corner and up to the top in one motion. He comes off with the body splash on the floor be regrets it as he is grabbing his arm. Tanahashi is the first in the ring and eventually omega hops to the apron. Tanahashi grabs the leg and lays in a nasty looking dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi goes for the cloverleaf again but Kenny kicks off and gingerly gets to his feet. Kenny tries a kick with the good leg but Tanahashi catches it and turns it into a leg whip just as Kenny was trying and enziguri. Tanahashi snaps the leg a few times before locking in the cloverleaf. Kenny nearly gets to the ropes but Tanahashi pulls it back and then really leans back on it. Cody Hall then runs to the ring and drags the ref outside. Suddenly the Young Bucks come out from under the ring and double superkick Tanahashi right in the head. They then spike him with the indy taker and duck out of the ring. The ref returns and Omega hits the Styles clash but can only get two out of it. He tries to get a jumping knee but Tanahashi dodges it and locks in a full nelson into a dragon suplex! Back from the break, and both guys are hurting. They get up to their feet and Omega starts smashing Tanahashi with forearms strikes but then Tanahashi counters back with strikes of his own. Kenny strikes back and Tanahashi gets spun around where Kenny hops up and gets the reverse hurrancanrana that drives Tanahashi right on his head! He goes for the one winged angel but Tanahashi reverses it into his own reverse hurrancanrana! Tanahashi hits a straight jacket suplex. He can't get the pin! Tanahashi tries to go up but then Nick Jackson gets on the apron. Cody tosses Omega a trashcan. he throws it at Tan, but Tanahashi ducks and it clobbers the ref in the back, sending him down. The Jacksons come in and start kicking away. The Jackson's place Tanahashi's arm on the trashcan as Omega goes up top, but Michael Elgin comes running out and kills both Bucks dead and makes Omega crotch himself on the buckle.  Tanahashi gets up and slams Omega right on the trashcan as outside Elgin picks up both Jackson's and walks away with them.  In the ring, Omega tries for a brainbuster but Tanahashi turns it into a spinning neckbreaker before he hits the slingblade clothesline but can only get two. Tanahashi goes up top and hits the high fly flow. He goes up for the second one but it misses Omega. Omega then pulls out a variant of the bomma ye and then nails another running knee of Tan, but he pulls back to much on the cover and Tanahashi rolls through it. Omega hits the third running knee and then scoops Tanahashi up in one winged angel to score the win and the title! We come back as the new champ speaks to us. He goes on about Valentine's Day and mangles some Japanese in the process. He runs down the audience, but then thanks them for coming to the show in perfect Japanese! Backstage Tanahashi is in rough shape. He apologizes to Nakamura for losing and that is it. Kenny, the Bucks, and Cody celebrate backstage  Kenny says that Tanahashi is good, beating the crap out of him with an injured shoulder. But he is 97 kilos now and when he hits 100 kilos he will be unstoppable. In the studio, Kenny says having the crowd cheering for Tanahashi is annoying considering he is busting his ass to make the match look good. His goal is to win the G1 climax tournament and then win the belt at the Tokyo Dome next year! What a show! Even though it was only three matches, all of them were good over the two hours. Even Jim ross was tolerable this week and did a decent job! A lot of fun and a real new beginning for the company!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Double the action!
Hi, gang! Welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. I'm fresh off spending the weekend at my home Convention, AniMaine with coverage of that coming soon so keep an eye out for that. ...

Strong Style: New Beginings

Nov 05 // Soul Tsukino
We are welcomed by Okada! NEVER Openweight title: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii A WK10 rematch! Not much else to say about these guys I haven't mentioned before. This should be a fight! Ishii enters first. Right out of the gate Jim Ross screws up and calls it the NEVER Overweight title. He then proceeds to forget Ishii's nickname of "The Stone pitbull". It's gonna be a long night if that keeps up. Shibata enters carrying the belt in his hand. Josh Barnett points out something interesting here as Shibata believes a champion has to earn the right to wear the belt to the ring by defending it once. The man has principles. They glare at each other and then go nose to nose. Bell rings and they go right into a lock up. Shibata goes for a punch but Ishii reverses. Shibata lands a shot and keeps asking Ishii to hit him as he keeps smacking him with forearm shots. They go right into exchanging forearms back and forth. Figured as much. They KEEP going back and forth for like 2 minutes before Ishii stumbles back stunned. Shibata snaps him over and lands a kick. We move ahead a bit as Shibata is landing running boots to Ishii's head. He asks for more and gets it! Ishii stumbles back but throws a clothesline. Shibata no sells it. Shibata lands some more kicks but Ishii hits a clothesline to send Shibata down. Ishii put him on the top turnbuckle and lands the avalanche brainbuster! Cover gets two. Ishii hits a powerbomb but only gets two. Shibata locks in a triangle lock on Ishii out of the pin attempt! Ishii gets his foot on the ropes to break the hold. They get back up and more forearms by Shibata. He picks the big guy up and hits the DVD but Ishii pops right up. He hits a suplex but Shibata is up and lands a kick to put Ishii back down. Only gets a 2 count. Shibata locks in a rear choke. but Ishii powers out and reaches the ropes again.  Shibata lands a kick to send them both down. they struggle back up and MORE forearms now. Shibata goes down first. Ishii runs him over with the clothesline and hits a suplex, but Shibata gets up. Ishii hits two headbutts and a low clothesline, but only gets two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Shibata wiggles out and locks in the armbreaker! He turns it into a triangle and then turns it back into the arm breaker. Ishii gets to the ropes but the damage is done. Shibata gets up and lands some kicks but Ishii gets up. and throws an elbow right to the throat! Shibata lands the back fist!  Shibata tries for the PK but Ishii catches him! Ishii hits a headbutt that stuns Shibata. Ishii with a dropkick! Ishii counters out of a choke attempt. Shibata throws the headbutt but Ishii with the hard smacks. Shibata gets the sleeper. Ishii is down. PK! Shibata gets the win and retains the belt! What a match!  We go to commercial and holy crap a commercial for New Japan World! Cool! In the studio with Okada. He doesn't know the story going on with Goto, but he does remember Goto calling him out in the middle of the ring. Okada teases him by saying he was going to make it title vs. title but that Goto had lost his belt. IWGP Title: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto Goto got a big win over Naito at WK10 while Okada defended the belt a shook the monkey off his back by beating Tanahashi. However, on our last show in a big tag team match, Goto was booed severely when facing up against Okada. Let's see if that plays into the match at all. I'll point out that I saw the original entrance from New Japan and they did a quick montage of ALL the previous IWGP champions before this match. Wish that had been shown here. Goto comes out and he looks incredible. He is wearing all white, including tabi boots. He has on a red oni mask and is painted in white with lots of kanji written on him in black. The subject of former WWFer Jinsei Shinzaki and JR mentions the WWE network.  Jim, YOU DON'T WORK THERE ANYMORE! Barnett says the writing on Goto's face is "fierce warrior". Full introductions for this one. JR mentions Goto has challenged for the belt 8 times and never won it. Bell rings and they do... nothing. They both finally leave the corners and go for a Greco-roman lock up, but back away. Lock up and waist lock by Goto. Okada gets a wristlock but Goto reverses into a full nelson and snaps him over in a chinlock. Okada gets out of it, but Goto goes right into a headlock. Goto up still with the headlock, but takes him down again. for a one count. They go into the ropes and Goto gets a kick in and starts striking Okada down and Okada rolls out of the ring. Goto slides out, but Okada slides in and when Goto enters the ring Okada hits him with a dropkick. Goto comes back in as Okada takes over with strikes and slam before hitting a senton. The cover goes nowhere. Okada grabs a heavenly lock in but Goto gets a rope break. Snapmare but Goto pops up and lands a clothesline. He RAMS Okada's head in the buckle and tosses him outside. Goto runs Okada around the barriers before tossing him inside. All this time JR is going on a rant about how TNA had Okada for months and used him as a Kato like character. "If I were to build a company, I'd do it around Okada." "That's kinda what New Japan is doing." - Josh's reply. Goto leads in with some kicks as Okada gets up but Goto strikes him and tosses him into the corner. He works over the champ with kicks and strikes. Forearms right into the face now. Ref breaks it up as Okada gets up and tosses Goto into the ropes but misses the kick and is clotheslined. Goto gets a reverse chinlock and tags Okada on the head with a chop. Okada gets up and strikes Goto but Goto just hits him back. he goes for a cover and gets two. Meanwhile, JR is bitching about wrestlers playing video games in the locker rooms instead of watching the matches. Josh counters that if the wrestlers are playing video games, they aren't interfering in the matches. Back from the break as Goto gets a suplex, but only two on the count. Okada gets the turnbuckle again and a series of elbows in the face. Okada reverses but hits the buckle again, however, when Goto goes to the ropes, Okada gets in a flapjack. Okada hits some forearms and then a kick to send Goto down. Whip in the buckle and Okada gets the side hit into a DDT and a kip up. He goes for the pin but only two. He slams Goto down and climbs up but Goto pops up, Okada dives over him and Goto clotheslines him in the back of the head. He lands some brutal side kicks and then a spinning kick into the corner. He lands a suplex on Okada and goes for a pin but again, doesn't get it. Okada tries to throw a clothesline but Goto turns it into a spinning neckbreaker. Okada gets into the corner and Goto tries to run in but he hits Goto with a kick. Goto tries the corner again and is lifted to the apron but Okada blocks an attack to send them both down. They get up and start exchanging forearms back and forth. Okada tries a headbutt but Okada hits the clothesline but Okada counters with heavy rain! Cover gets two. Okada hits two low dropkicks but doesn't get the pin. Okada climbs up and hits the missile dropkick. Pin gets a 2 count. Okada hits the slam and climbs up and hits the flying elbow! rainmaker pose! He goes for the rainmaker but Goto spins around and locks in an armlock! Goto tries to wrench back but Okada rolls it over for a pin attempt. Okada breaks and hits the ushigoroshi. He then goes back to the arm breaker. He is stretching the champ now! Okada gets to the ropes and the hold is broken. Back from break with Goto up. He lands a kick to the back a few times. More kicks. Goto picks him up and hits a reverse ushigoroshi. Goto goes for the suplex but Okada snakes out to escape, but Goto comes right over and strikes him. He lifts Okada on the buckle and gets a few forearms. Goto picks him up on his shoulders and hits the avalanche ushigoroshi! Count only gets two. Goto picks him up in the suplex but Okada reverses it into a small package. Goto rolls through it and picks him up and hits the shotenkai! Goto goes for the pin but Okada gets his hand on the rope. They get up and Okada hits the rainmaker! Both men down now. They pick themselves up and throw some forearms on their knees. Okada up first and throws some uppercuts. Okada lands a kick and a shot to the face before going into the waistlock. Okada goes for a kick, Goto counters, but Okada counters into the suplex. They struggle for it but Okada hits the dropkick. Okada tries for the Rainmaker, but Goto hits the headbutt. Okada tries it again and gets a headbutt again. Goto tries for a suplex but Okada grabs onto the arm and hits the rainmaker. He then hits it again! He hits it a third and Goto's out. Okada pins him to put it away. We come back from break and the champ has something to say. With all the happenings in NJPW, don't worry. I'm here. Mr. Goto, your revolution ends here. But if you want to keep changing things, join CHAOS. He has no third point. Someone who left said pro wrestling is the greatest, but it's New Japan that is the greatest. Backstage Okada says Goto didn't really change other than his costume. he wasn't so much inviting Goto to CHAOS but extending him a hand to help him change as he wants to. Studio words saying the same thing about Goto. He said Nakamura left to find the best wrestling in the world, but he doesn't agree and thinks New Japan is the best in what they do. The action was amazing. Both matches were fun, even if they were a little slower paced than say stuff from someone Kenny Omega or Nakamura. You could see the intensity in Goto as he looked to kill Okada to get the belt. Jim Ross's commentary through was grating. His rants about wrestlers playing video games, Ishii not wearing socks, Constant WWE mentions, bashing TNA about something that happened 10 years ago, harping that this was Goto's eighth shot at the title he's never won, and mentions of Bill Watts over and over are wearing thin. He is on autopilot and desperately needs new material and less bitching about these dang kids today. He's becoming more like Abe Simpson than anything. Anyway, just giving you all a heads up as next week's article will be a bit delayed as I will be covering the AniMaine Convention again this year with a full report. The big match next time though is Tanahashi and Omega for the vacant Intercontinental title so you will not want to miss that!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Okada defends the belt!
Hi Gang! Welcome to another Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro wrestling on AXS TV. This week it is a New Begining! We are traveling to Osaka fresh off the heels of WrestleKingdom 10 with some big matches from February 11, 2016! Let's get to the matches!

Strong Style: Moving on

Oct 29 // Soul Tsukino
Since this is a special show. No greetings from anyone.  The Bullet Club (A.J. Styles/ Kenny Omega) vs. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura/ YOSHI-HASHI) An all-star tag match. This takes place the night after WrestleKingdom where Nakamura beat Styles, Omega lost the Jr. Heavyweight Title to Kushida and Yoshi was part of the pre-show rumble. Okay, 3 out of 4 ain't bad. We are at the Sumo Hall as all four men are already in the ring. Styles and Nakamura start off Lock up and they reverse waist locks before Nakamura gets the advantage and Styles gets the sit out. Lock up and they go into the ropes and Nakamura goes for the belly rub. Styles drills Nakamura in the back of the head for that and goes right into a wristlock. Nakamura counters with a cartwheel and gets in a wristlock of his own before sliding into a headlock, but Styles whips him into the ropes and a leapfrog but Nakamura hangs onto the ropes. Styles tries for something and misses while Nakamura goes for a knee strike and miss. Styles challenges Shinsuke to come on. Nakamura charges but Styles gets the deep arm drag but Nakamura counters with a leg scissors, but Styles slips out of that and we have a standoff. We jump ahead (probably editing out the Yoshi-Hashi stuff) to a point where Nakamura is landing some kicks to the gut of Styles. Nakamura lands an enziguri to send Styles into the corner. Nakamura gets in the good vibrations and goes for a knee strike but Styles moves. Styles charges in but Nakamura lands a knee to the gut anyway and sets up AJ on the top rope, cartwheels backward and lands the knee strike to the stomach. Nakamura goes for the pin but doesn't get it. He picks up Styles who jumps up and launches into a strike and kick combo but Nakamura ducks the last strike and fires off a combo of his own. Styles goes down and crawls over to the corner for as tag. Kenny comes in and lands a few punches on Nakamura. Shinsuke lands one back but Omega turns around and hits him. Kenny goes to the ropes but Nakamura lands a knee to the gut and then hits an enziguri kick. Shinsuke goes for a side suplex but Omega blocks it and hammers in a few elbows. He spins around and gets Nakamura in a facelock but Yoshi runs in and lands a blockbuster on Omega and holds him so that Nakamura lands the low knee. Pin attempt only gets two as Styles breaks it up. Yoshi tosses Styles from the ring and gets out. Nakamura tries for the booma ye but Kenny catches him and put him down with a Finlay roll, but when he goes up for a moonsault, Nakamura brings the knees up. Nakamura goes for the booma ye again but Kenny lands a clothesline to send Shinsuke in a flip. Kenny dead lifts him from a prone position on the mat and picks him up into a powerbomb position before hitting a doctor bomb on him. He nearly gets the pin but Yoshi comes in and breaks it up. Omega goes for the one winged angel but Nakamura slips out. He holds Omega as Yoshi comes in but Omega ducks and Yoshi clotheslines Nakamura!  Styles comes in and hits the bloody Sunday DDT on Yoshi to take him out. Omega hits a running knee to Nakamura's head and then a second one! Omega tries to pick him up but Nakamura springs to life. Nakamura lands the reverse power slam but when he goes for another move Styles comes flying in with a springboard clothesline. He turns around to attack Nakamura and lands the Pele kick on him before Omega leaps up and hits the reverse hurrancanrana and drives him down. He lifts Nakamura up and hits the one winged angel for the pinfall! Styles and Omega congratulate each other as Nakamura is helped out from ringside. We come back from break with both guys still in the ring. As styles climbs the turnbuckle to congrat the fans, Omega comes up and gives Styles the one winged angel! Omega lays in the boots as the Bucks, Cody, Gallows and Anderson come in to split things up. as Doc, Karl and Cody Hall lift Styles up, the Bucks and Omega land the triple superkick! Anderson and Gallows seemed confused at first, but they join in as the entire group kicks the crap out of Styles. We have a new leader of the Bullet Club. Omega grabs the mic and asks if anyone was surprised. Styles, you have been fired! He renounces being a junior and says he is challenging Nakamura for the IC title! They begin to leave but jump back in the ring and attack the young boys before going after Styles again. Omega then hits the styles clash on AJ. The Club leaves and Styles climbs up to his feet as the crowd cheering for him. He bows to the fans for his final exit. Backstage Styles says he respects NJPW and all it offered him. He will never forget what happened in the ring. But as the saying goes about the best-laid plans. Things did go as New Japan quite wanted. See Styles had been competing for them withgout a contract for a while before this, so they knew he would leave. Having Kenny Omega was the plan. But the original idea was to have Omega defeat Nakamura and win the IC title from him to put him over. But Nakamura put in his notice too, and both he and NJPW thouyght he would hang around for the next big show to drop the belt and put Omega over. Be it either NJPW, The WWE, or Nakamura himself, that was nixed and Nakamura was going to leave for the U.S. earlier than they wanted. Nakamura vacated the belt and it was announced that he would face someone else, but didn't say who. That brings us to January 30th, again at the Sumo hall, and Nakamura's final appeaerence. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Meiyu vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii) Now THIS is an all-star match! The crowd is all for Shinsuke with a chant and red banners everywhere now. Everyone is in the ring as Nakamura makes his entrance.  His partners even hold the ropes open for him. The match starts with Okada and Goto. The crowd starts a big Okada chant surprisingly. Jim Ross surprises me a bit by bringing up the "New 3 Musketeers" that were Nakamura, Tanahashi, and Shibata when they came out of training, and mentions the original 3 musketeers of Great Muta, Masa Chono, and Shinya Hashimoto (Rest in Peace big man). Anyway, Goto and Okada lock up and go right into the ropes where Goto gives the champ a shot and then another. Okada backs them both to the middle of the ring and lands a few forearm shots before running the ropes only to get hit with a shoulderblock by Goto.  Goto lands a low kick and Okada rolls outside. Goto doesn't do that crap and goes outside and throws Okada right back in, but Okada is sneaky as he leaps up and runs across the ring to come back and land a speeding dropkick to send Goto down. Goto looks pissed, but just calmly walks around before slowly entering the ring. Okada turns around and tags Ishii. Shibata (who is wearing a huge bandage around his leg) begs to come in and Goto obliges.  Shibata comes in and they circle a bit before Shibata goes for a waistlock that has them both on the ropes. Clean break. They tie up in a greco-roman style lock up and back into the ropes again. Ishii decides to not go for the clean break instead chopping Shibata right in the chest. Shibata literally brushes that off and begs for more. Ishii lands a few more shots before aiming these suckers right to the throat! Shibata just asks for more. Finally Shibata lands a forearm shot to Ishii's chest and HE asks for more. After three forearm shots he starts firing off forearms and we got a duel. Back and forth for what seems like forever before Ishii goes to the ropes. Shibata goes for a kick but Ishii sidesteps in and lands another forearm. Ishii goes back to the ropes and Shibata lands the boot this time but Ishii just yells at him. He goes for a third time and finally Shibata drops him. Ishii seems to be holding his wrist, but Shibata goes for the legs and locks in his version of the Figure four leg lock. Ishii just yells at him more before Shibata torques the ankle. Ishii reveres the hold, but it's turned right back. Shibata lets go of the hold and Tanahashi tags in. Ishii goes over and tags Nakamura. The crowd is right into this match up as they start cheering. The two old rivals lock up aggressively and right into the ropes. Nakamura gets the belly rub thing in one last time and backs off, challenging Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes for it and Nakamura lands a knee to the stomach. Shinsuke goes for a kick and a knee but misses them both as Tanahashi gets up and dares Nakamura to come get some. He goes for it and Tanahashi lands a sweet armdrag. He locks in a textbook armlock on Nakamura before he tags in Shibata. They both whip Nakamura in and land a double shoulderblock. They give each other a look before they go for an MMA style lock up. They back into the ropes and for the love of chud SHIBATA does the belly face rub to Nakamura! Shinsuke has this look of "you got to be kidding me" before he goes for a strike that Shibata block and Shibata lands a slap to the face. they back off a bit and start over with Shibata trying for a waistlock but Nakamura rolls through it. Shibata then tries for a chinlock but they keep out maneuvering each other. This finally ends up with Nakamura getting a chinlock but Shibata flips him over to the mat and then lands the kick to the back. As he is trying to get up, Shibata keeps land kicks to Nakamura. Shinsuke counters with a block and tries to throw a kick but it misses, only for him to hit the rebound with a spin kick to Shibata's head. Okada and Ishii suddenly come in and send the opposing corner to the floor. As the fight is going on Nakamura sends Shibata down in the corner and lands good vibrations followed up by a jumping knee into a 2 count. Ishii tags in and both he and Okada come in. They both whip Shibata into the ropes and he runs right into THREE BOOTS. Shibata goes down but Nakamura and Okada PICK UP ISHII. The drop him onto Shibata with a sit-down splash and he gets a 2 count. He lands some weak kicks to Shibata to fire him up and then some chops. Shibata just gets mad and stand up as he fires off some forearm shots. He puts down Ishii but then runs over and lands a low dropkick to Nakamura to send him to the floor. Ishii runs up and lands a low kick to Shibata. We come back from the break with Okada legal now as he slams Shibata near the ropes and goes to the apron. He lands the slingshot press. He tries the cover and only gets two before tagging Nakamura back in. Nakamura lands a kick and then gets in a front choke. He brings it back to his corner where Okada tag back in and lands a shot to the back. He tries to whip Shibata in the corner but when he goes running in, he is met with a kick. Okada hits the ropes but he is met with a strike to the face. Shibata rolls over and tags Goto. Goto gets booed big time. Man, the crowd just does not like him. Wonder why (no, I am clueless why they hate him all of a sudden)?  He takes out the two guys in the corner and then lands some stuff kicks to Okada before whipping him to the buckle and lands a twisting kick and streams right into a back suplex. He goes for a pin and nearly gets it, but Okada kicks out. He then gets right on Okada by beating his brains in with elbow strikes. He charges the corner but Okada moves. and lands a DDT into a nip up. He hits a rolling uppercut and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. He slams Okada down and goes up top, but Goto gets up and meets him. Okada jumps over him and when Goto turns around Okada hits him with a forearm. He whips Goto in and lands the flapjack before tagging in Nakamura. Shinsuke lands a bunch of deep kicks to Goto who catches one, just t get the enziguri kick to the side of the head. Nakamura hits the ropes but Goto leaps up and hits the ropes too and runs over Nakamura with a clothesline. He tags in Tanahashi who just strolls into the ring. Nakamura gets up and they have  a stare down before Tanahashi SLAPS Nakamura. Shinsuke answers with a forearm and now they are dueling with forearm shots to the jaw. Tanahashi springs off the ropes and hits Nakamura with a flying forearm to the chest. He slams Shinsuke down and hits the senton off the middle rope but can't put him away. Nakamura tries the full nelson but Hiroshi breaks it, then breaks the waistlock before Nakamura tries for a kick but Tanahashi catches that and hits the dragon screw leg whip. He sends Nakamura into the corner but Nakamura dodges the charge setting Tanahashi perfectly on the top rope and a knee strike. He gets caught by Nakamura who lands the reverse suplex  Nakamura shimmies a bit and signals for the booma ye but as he goes for it Shibata comes in and lands a dropkick. Goto comes in and hits the ushigoroshi and Tanahashi goes up for the high fly flow. Shinsuke brings the knees up and down goes Hiroshi. Nakamura goes to whip Tanahashi but Hiroshi reverses it into the slingblade.  Ishii and Shibata tag in now and Ishii runs right over Shibata and starts laying in forearm shots. Shibata answers back with a head to head glare before he starts throwing forearm shots. He unveils a new move as he whips Ishii into the corner and is right behind him with a flying kick. He does it again before throwing more forearm strikes. He hits his sweet hanging dropkick before dragging Ishii up and hitting a half hatch suplex and goes for the cover for two. Shibata looks for a suplex but turns in into a front facelock. Ishii says the hell with that and turns it into a brainbuster suplex. Ishii whips Shibata into the corner and squashes him before gong for the cover but not getting it. Ishii goes for a piledriver but Goto comes in and lands the clothesline. He then runs over and nails Okada. Shibata picks him up and Goto goes for the clothesline but Ishii ducks and Goto clothesline Shibata. Okada comes running in to boot Goto in the face.  All three of CHAOS come in and Nakamura lands a step kick and Okada hits a senton and then Ishii hits the elbow, but can't get the pin. Nakamura and Okada go outside but Goto comes back in. Shibata holds him and they get the move off but Okada comes back in the ring and boots Goto. He tries to boot Tanahashi but Hiroshi catches his leg and gets the leg whip. Nakamura comes in and lands a flying knee but Shibata comes in and lands a big dropkick on Nakamura!  Everyone except Shibata and Ishii rolls to the floor. Ishii comes running across the ring and flattens Shibata with a clothesline. He picks Shibata up, but Shibata lands a spinning back fist! Shibata scurries over and locks in a triangle but Nakamura comes in and kicks Shibata right in the ear. Tanahashi comes in and they start fighting outside the ring. Shibata locks in the reverse choke and Ishii struggles to the ropes. Shibata BLASTS him with a kick to put him down but he goes to the ropes where Okada meets him with his awesome dropkick. Nakamura then hits the booma ye. He tries and pick Ishii up and slaps him around to wake him up. Ishii feels better and lands the brainbuster on Shibata to score the pinfall!  We come back from commercial with Kenny Omega now at ringside. He says that it's Nakamura's last match, but we shouldn't be sad. It's his graduation to go take on the world! He wants Nakamura to admit that he is a chicken and is scared to fight him. Tanahashi appears, grabs a mic and tells Omega that HE will be facing Omega for the IC title and that he is the ACE. Omega backs down from that. Tanahashi leaves as the ref brings Okada and Gedo in and raises the hands of the winners of the match. Nakamura takes the mic. He bows to the fans and asks if he should say something He is grateful to all those he fought and the fans who supported him. He will show the world what he has. He will not say goodbye, just Thank You. Yeahoh! He tries to leave but the other CHAOS guys come out (even Jado!) and he hugs all of them. Okada's even in tears. They give a big pose for the cameras and the crowd is chanting for him. He declares that Pro Wrestling is the greatest. As they leave Okada carries him out on his shoulders. The announcers say this is a celebration for Nakamura, not a mourning of him leaving. Backstage he says it's been a long time and some of the guys are like family. He says he is sure Okada will protect this place. Someone ask about fans waiting for him to come back to wrestling in NJPW and he kinda just doges the question as we end things this week. Well, the first match was nothing to speak of. They hacked a lot out just to skip to the ending. The second match though was great! A fitting way to end a run for Nakamura than that. Skip the first ten minutes and the show is wonderful!  See you all next time!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
2 stars say goodbye
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.  This week we deal with the immediate fallout of WrestleKingdom 10. Okada is still the IWGP Champion, GBH are the new tag cha...

Strong Style: Main Event time!

Oct 22 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Okada! IWGP Title: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi A rematch from last year's show where Tanahashi left Okada fleeing the ring in tears. Okada is out to not only keep his belt but also avenge such a devastating loss. Tanahashi worked his way up to become a contender again by winning the G1 classic and earning the briefcase. These guys have met before, but this match brings with it a lot more intensity than ever before. Okada in the studio talks about his not so great history in the dome. He was booed out of the building his first year, was voted out f the main event in favor of the IC Title match one year, and had last year's nightmare loss. His determination to end this streak added some emotion to this year's match. Tanahashi comes out first and JR mentions he hasn't lost in the dome since 2008. When he is called NJPW's Cena they aren't kidding. Tanahashi poses for a bit in the ring. JR mentions that while Okada is the champion, he is an underdog and doesn't get the same respect and that he needs to beat Tanahashi to get it. Okada makes his way out with Gedo following behind. Red Shoes holds the belt high. We come back with the bell ringing and we are underway.  They both just take in the crowd noise before we circle in and go for a knuckle lock before backing off. They lock up and bull each other into the ropes with Okada getting the advantage. Okada gives a clean break, but screw it Tanahashi takes a swing and they trade some punches before backing off. Okada lands a strike that sends Tanahashi down but we get back to where we started. Okada lands a knee to send Tanahashi down but he responds with a strike to the mouth of Okada. They back off but just walk up and stare each other down. Tanahashi swoops Okada in but rainmaker counters with a kick to the head. Okada puts on a cravat into a snapmare. He tries to get a chinlock but Tanahashi gets the hammerlock and Tanahashi ends up getting a waistlock into a headscissor. Okada slips out and gets a headlock on Tanahashi. Tanahashi brings things back up and steps on Okada's knee to escape and goes into a headlock. Okada tries a whip but doesn't get it. Okada gets a wristlock and switches it over so he gets a headlock. Tanahashi lifts him up and dropped on Hiroshi's legs. Tanahashi chopblocks him on the other knee. Okada is already hurt as Tanahashi goes to work on one of the knees with elbow drops. Tanahashi gets down and torques onto the ankle before Okada gets to the ropes. Tanahashi lays on some kicks on the right leg and stomps on the hamstring. Okada pushes Tanahashi off and goes after him in the corner and they get lost for a second before Okada gets pushed off and Tanahashi goes up to the middle rope and lands a body press but doesn't go for the pin. Tanahashi scoots out to the apron but Okada launches a dropkick to send Tanahashi to the floor. We come back from the break as Okada takes a break in the ring before slowly going out and whipping Tanahashi into the barrier. He follows it up with a kick to send Tanahashi over the barrier. He then gets a running start and flies over the barrier and takes out Tanahashi in the crowd. Tanahashi crawls to the ring, but Okada helps him back in. He slams him close to the ropes and lands a senton over the ropes. He goes for the cover but Tanahashi kicks out. Okada then locks in a chin lock and grinds on it. Tanahashi struggles back up and uses a few elbows and uppercut to break. They go into the corner where Okada tries for a dropkick and misses. Tanahashi then goes to the second rope and misses the senton. Okada whips Tanahashi into the other corner and lands a running elbow and a diving uppercut to get a two count. Okada then crosses the arm for a heavenly lock!  Okada lets go and locks in a weird looking chinlock, like his hands, are positioned all wrong. Tanahashi counters with some low punches and Okada breaks the hold. Tanahashi tries a low dropkick to the knee but Okada dodges. Tanahashi lands a flapjack and then a strike before he lands the low dropkick on the knee! They get up and Okada lands some punches but when he goes for a high kick, Tanahashi catches him and gives him a dragon screw leg whip.  Okada rolls onto the apron and Tanahashi climbs for an attack but Okada springs up and punches him. He tries to pick Tanahashi up on his shoulders but drops him. They both end up on the apron. Okada goes for a kick and Tanahashi moves so Okada gets his leg caught in the buckle where Tanahashi gets the screw legwhip again. Okada tries to get in the ring but Tanahashi hits the leg whip again! Okada is still stuck on the apron and Tanahashi hits the slingblade on the apron to send Okada to the floor with a flop. He tries to get up but Tanahashi goes up and lands the high fly flow outside the ring. Tanahashi rolls into the ring with Okada barely moving. He rolls into the ring at 16. Tanahashi with a slam and goes to the second rope and gets a splash on the knees! He grabs Okada's legs and struggles to get the cloverleaf  but Okada is blocking it before getting to the ropes. Tanahashi lays in some kicks. He locks the leg in the ropes and throws a dropkick right into the inside of the knee. Okada gets up and Tanahashi tries for an Alabama slam but Okada reveres it, the reverse and reverse again ending with Okada getting a Tanahashi drop across the knee. They get up and just start trading forearms back and forth. Tanahashi gets and uppercut and goes to bounce off the ropes but Okada lands a dropkick. He gets Tanahashi down and lands four low dropkicks right in the row. He goes for the pin but doesn't get it.  He climbs up the rope and lands a sweet dropkick. He tries for the pin but doesn't get it. Okada with a slam. He goes for the ropes again and lands the Randy Savage elbow! He gives the rainmaker pose as we go to commercial. He picks up Tanahashi and shoots him into the ropes but Okada catches him into a tombstone but Tanahashi rolls it into a pin attempt for two. Tanahashi then grabs Okada's other leg and hits the leg whip! Tanahashi goes into the rope but Okada tosses up a dropkick but Tanahashi catches him and locks in the cloverleaf! Okada's in deep trouble! He keeps going for the rope but can't quite get it. He struggles and gets his hand on the rope to break. Both men are exhausted. He goes into the ropes but Okada shoulders him in a weird spot. Okada tres to pick him up but can't get it. Tanahashi hits the sling blade! Tanahashi climbs up for the high fly flow but he misses! Okada drags him up and scoops him into a tombstone but can't get it. Tanahashi locks in a suplex and gets him over. He goes for a second but Okada turns it into a tombstone! Okada gets the rainmaker and goes for the cover, it's only two! Even Gedo is surprised. We pan out to this awesome crowd as Okada launches up to the top rope and lands the high fly flow! Hw tires to get a pin but no Tanahashi picks Okada up and locks in the arm and lands a rainmaker clothesline of his own! Count only gets two! Okada up first. He takes Tanahashi's head but Tanahashi kicks him right in the leg. He does it again! Tanahashi kicks the leg again! Okada gets him up for the tombstone but Tanahashi counters out the back and lands the slingblade and gets a dragon suplex but Okada gets out of the pin. Tanahashi climbs up and lands the high fly flow. He goes up again and hits another one but Okada kicks out of the pin! Both slow to get up and Tanahashi goes outside and climbs the ropes again. He goes for a flying splash but Okada throws a dropkick. He lands right in the gut! Okada drags him up and tries for a suplex but can't get it. He fights it with elbows and gets out, but lands a HARD slap to the face. Tanahashi goes for something but Okada lands the dropkick to the jaw! He tries for the rainmaker but misses, he gets a waistlock and nails Tanahashi in the jaw. He picks up Tanahashi and nails the rainmaker, twice, three times! Tanahashi is out. Okada goes for the pin and he gets it! Okada has finally won! He's killed the demon of the Tokyo dome! The ref and Gedo peel Okada off the mat. He is spent. In the back, Tanahashi is passed out at the table. He says he doesn't know if his dream has been fulfilled or if it has passed on. He then gets up and walks away with Captain New Japan following him. Back in the ring, Okada addresses the crowd. He has three points to make. He says Tanahashi is strong and they should do it again. He will raise NJPW to a new level. His third point is nothing and says that people should keep their eyes on him in 2016. He poses on each ring post in front of the crowd. He goes all the way up the ramp before saying that he will make it rain money in 2016. Backstage he promises to keep working hard for the fans approval. In the studio, he says he is simply glad he win. The crowd loves it when they fight and it was great to finally win over Tanahashi in that atmosphere. He wants to create a better atmosphere in wrestling. This match lived up to everything it was said to be. It was just as incredible watching it on the original show as it was here. While I wish they showed to other two matches, the coverage of WrestleKingdom has been amazing. Lots of fun! Next week we say goodbye to Nakamura with his last match in NJPW! See ya then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Battle for the belt!
Ladies and Gentlemen. It is now time for our Maaaaaaain Event of the evening!  Welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Tonight is our last look WrestleKingdom 10 with the main even...


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