TV and Film

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 10

Aug 01 // Soul Tsukino
But First! Since this is the final night of the round robin part I'll break it down for you a little clearer. And I will admit up front I was wrong. I believed this would lead to a four-man final with the first AND second place from each block move onto the finals (as with a lot of New Japan's tournaments), but that is not the case. The top men from each block will meet for the final match with the two second place guys wrestling in a 3rd place match. Yes, I am baka for getting wrong the rules of a tournament held last year. Anyway, this is how we break it down: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14 points): A win tonight would eliminate Fale and Shibata. Holds the Tie breaker over Tanahashi (if both he and Tanahashi won).  Hiroshi Tanahashi (14 points): A win and a Nakamura loss would put him in the final. Katsuyori Shibata (12 points): A win and both Tanahashi and Nakamura loss would have him win the Tiebreaker over both as well as Fale. Bad Luck Fale (12 points) A win and a Tanahashi and Shibata loss would have him win the tie breaker. Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points): A win and he goes in no matter what since he'd win the tie with Styles AJ Styles (14 points): A win and Okada loss puts him in the final There, with that settled we are greeted with Okada to begin this episode. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura VS. Bad Luck Fale: If Fale wins than he is in the tie for at least the second place spot. Anything else and he's out. Also a revenge match for Nakamura as Fale beat him to win the Intercontinental title. Mauro and Josh bringing us the call tonight with a stuffed episode.  We start with a stare down. Fale goes for the avalanche and misses. We jump to Nakamura has the advantage, but Fale counters and hits the Grenade early. Fale goes to the top rope, but Nakamura jumps up with a kick and gives him a brainbuster off the ropes! Nakamura goes for a running kick and Fale spears him and goes for the Bad Luck Fall. Nakamura escapes and gets the big guy down with a sleeper. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma ya on the back of Fale's head before hitting a booma ya on the mat but only gets 2. Another booma ya and Fale is out for the 3.  Well, that was quick. I guess with 4 matches it had to be. Tanahashi gets to go to the finals.   Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Togi Makabe: Pretty much a formality as Togi is way out of the lead and A.J. Style is so far ahead no matter what, he's going to the finals. Styles made a hell of a comeback as he didn't start out very well in this with some big losses. A.J. bails as soon as the bell rings. Styles gets in and Togi gets an armlock before Styles bails again. Styles goes for some shoulder blocks and gets nowhere before he tries for a leapfrog and gets slammed for it. Makabe hits Styles in the corner but Styles counters and gets Togi out of the ring. Whip to the barricade and Styles jumps right over it and then hits Makabe. Cut ahead as Makabe hits a powerbomb on Styles. Styles seated on top and Makabe hits a german suplex right on Styles's NECK. Makabe climbs the top rope but decided against it before slamming Styles again. He goes up top again but misses. Cut ahead as Styles regains the advantage and put Makabe on top. Makabe gets a headbutt and Styles counters with a Pele kick. Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win. Again, cut down quite a bit, but not bad. Styles did his part to move on, let's see what happens. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.: This match pretty much means nothing now since Nakamura won.  Smith comes out with Taka Michinoku representing the Suzuki Army. Barnett brings up that Hiroshi may be underestimating Smith. Clip to chopping between the two. Hiroshi gets a few low dropkicks to get Smith down. Tanahashi with a leg whip sending the big guy down. Smith chucks Hiroshi over the top, but he skins the cat back in and drags Smith out. Hiroshi hits sliding kick before going over the rope to hit a plancha on Smith. "Gravity is a bitch."- Josh Barnett. Smith breaks the count and keeps on the attack before he hits the powerslam on the floor. Clip ahead as Smith gets Hiroshi down for 2. Smith hits a tiger suplex and NEARLY gets the three. Smith goes the bulldog roll, but Hiroshi gets the sunset flip and nearly gets it. Tanahashi gets a victory roll and another 2 count. Smith hits the bulldog bomb and GETS THE PIN? Wow. Did NOT expect that! Tanahashi is broken up in the back on the floor yelling in frustration. Kinda sucks knowing he got beat in a match that wouldn't have helped even if he did win. We get some words from Okada about this big match for him. He talks about the long tournament and losing to Karl Anderson and Naito, knowing he had to win tonight.   Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki: Same deal for Okada as it was for Styles. Okada will go to the finals and Suzuki has nothing to lose. That's... scary when you say it out loud. Suzuki comes out with Taka and glares at one of the photogs at ringside so scary I nearly pissed my pants. Okada comes out with Gedo as always. Back from the break as we get the bell. The crowd is hot for this one. Tentative knuckle lock up at first. Okada tries to mess with Suzuki on the ropes and Suzuki gets a quick armbar and then a knee to Okada and goes for the armbar on the ropes and KICKS Okada to the floor. That's what you get for trying to be funny with Suzuki. Armlock over the barricade as Suzuki is just being MEAN. Suzuki stares down Gedo but goes for another armbar on Okada. Kicks on the arm by Suzuki but Okada mans up and tells him to kick his arm. I should mention that Suzuki is stone-faced during all this. Suzuki ties up Okada in a knot before being broken from the ropes. Okada counters a charge with a kick and then hits a DDT, Okada gets a boot on Suzuki and finally gets the advantage. Suzuki suckers Okada in and punches him in the gut, but Okada gets Suzuki out into the crowd and gets a Randy Orton hanging DDT on the floor! Back in the ring with Okada going to the top and lands the flying elbow. Rainmaker pose cut short as Suzuki kicks the devil out of Okada. Kick right to Okada's injured arm. Armbar broken on the ropes again. Exchange of forearms leads to Suzuki getting the armlock again. At this point, I'm waiting for Suzuki to rip Okada's arm off and beat him with it. It's sound strategy, though. Take out his biggest weapon in the rainmaker. Also, Suzuki gets to hurt somebody. LONG armlock but Okada is not giving up! Crowd gets behind Okada now as he finally gets a foot on the ropes. Suzuki gets some strikes on the arm, but Okada gets the leg lock for his Red Ink submission finisher. Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes, but Okada gets his Heavy Rain slam (an F-5) Okada tries to whip Suzuki in but his collapses. He then turns around and hits a SWEET dropkick flattening Okada. Devilish bastard. Suzuki gets a rear naked choke as the crowd chants for Okada. Suzuki tries for the Gotch piledriver Okada sits out. He gets and knee and goes for the piledriver again but Okada gets the reverse into a falling neckbreaker. Both men are on their knees smacking each other with forearms. Back up for more forearms Suzuki ASKS to be hit and LAUGHS at Okada. I'm pretty sure the police in Japan have a special numbered code for when Suzuki is happy. Okada hits a pinpoint dropkick right on the back of Suzuki's neck. Okada tries for the tombstone, but Suzuki says no. Suzuki counters out of another suplex with an armbar but Okada counters with a Gotch version of the Tombstone. Suzuki gets up and gets out of the rainmaker with a straight punch to the face. Okada finally gets the rainmaker and scores the win! DAMN! Okada earned that one. He goes to the finals and will meet Nakamura for the tornament. Suzuki gives a scary rambling promo to the press. in the ring Okada talks about his next match again Nakamura. A few words from Gedo to finish it off. We get some words from Nakamura about the finals. Okada gives us some studio words about how tough the match was and looking forward to fighting Nakamura in the finals. The first 3 matches were clipped badly but were still enjoyable, but man that main event was a good one. Suzuki is just a wonder to watch and Okada made a really good opponent for him. Another entertaining show! Next week we get the 2 episodes as we look at the final show of the tournament in the season 2 finale of NJPW on AXS. I can't wait! Before we conclude tonight, I'd like to make mention the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper earlier tonight. Piper was THE villain of the WWF back in the mid-1980's. There wouldn't have been a Wrestlemania without him. I first saw Piper as a kid when he made his WWE comeback at Wrestlemania 5 but have since been able to see his whole body of work. His interviews are classic and hope that however the means that fans still get to enjoy his work. Been a fan of his style since I was a kid during all his runs with WWF/E and WCW. He was a man who was clear about his past and his issues, even to his own detriment, but he was someone who genuinely did not want to see the rest of the business make the same mistakes he did. He was and still is a treat to watch. Thanks, Roddy. I'll be damned if I didn't think of you showing up to the pearly gates and say these words: [embed]34105:4962:0[/embed]     See you next week for the season finale.   But First! Since we've skipped ahead let's look at the point totals in each block heading into tonight's action! Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (14), Hiroshi Tanahashi (14), Katsuyori Shibata (12),  Bad Luck Fale (12), Satoshi Kojima (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points),Tomohiro Ishii (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (8) Yuji Nagata (8) Doc Gallows (6), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Kazuchika Okada (14 points), AJ Styles (14), Tetsuya Naito (10), Minoru Suzuki (10), Hirooki Goto (8), Toru Yano (8), Togi Makabe (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8), Karl Anderson (8), Lance Archer (6), Yujiro Takahashi (6). Block B looks pretty locked up while Block A is stillvery competitive! August 8th, 2014
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On the doorstep of the finals!
Konnichi wa and welcome to Strong Style! The G1 Climax 24 tournament is almost over and the action is heating up. This week we skip ahead to day 11 of the tournament and the last day before the finals. Ton...

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

Do New Japan pro wrestlers kick out in their sleep?


Jushin Liger looks to find out!
Jul 29
// Soul Tsukino
A television show in Japan recently tackled a question of just how much fighting spirit runs through the being of your average New Japan pro wrestlers.

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 9

Jul 28 // Soul Tsukino
  BUT FIRST: Let's take a look where we are in the tournament point standings: Block A:  Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Block A is being led by Nakamura with a lot of guys nipping at his heels while Block B is once again a crap shoot. Things are getting down to the wire and both blocks are wide open. So with that in mind let's get to the fighting! Tanahashi gives us a greeting before we head to the arena. Block A: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomoaki Honma:  Oh dear. New Japan's loveable loser taking on the man who beat both of NJPW's top guys. Honma will give you a fight but well... I don't like his chances here. This feel like Honma's being sent to the gallows. Mauro runs down the records in the tournament for both guys. Bell rings and they jump right into bashing each other with forearms. This is intense!  The crowd responds to the fast action and are cheering for Honma!  We skip ahead a bit Shibata lands his running kick but is met with a running elbow. Honma goes for the running headbutt but misses. before he goes for it again and hits it this time. Honma is fired up as he whips Shibata in but gets met with a foot to the face, only to hit a clothesline anyway. Shibata regains the advantage and hits the hanging dropkick. Back from commercial with Shibata looming over a fallen Honma. Shibata gets a suplex, and Honma fights back. Shibata whips his opponent in but met with a headbutt!  Honma tries for a pin and doesn't get it. Honma goes for a Bernard driver as Shibata counters and gets a sleeper out of it.  Honma forces the break and Shibata goes for the penalty kick, which Honma catches. Shibata gives a bunch of rapid-fire slaps, Honma drops him with one mighty bitchslap to the face. Honma gets the Bernard driver and goes for the top rope diving headbutt, and misses. Both men are slow getting up. Shibata goes for the pin a few times before Honma hits a clothesline but doesn't get the pin either. Shibata gets a spinning chop that drops Honma. Shibata hits the GTS and the penalty kick before landing the pin and 2 more points. Shibata leaves as once again the crowd gives Honma an applause as he leaves. Some words from Honma post match where he admits he's not going to be the champion, but he will make sure people know he competed in the G1 Climax. Clipped, of course, but a fight none the less. Sure the outcome probably wasn't in doubt, but Honma manned up and took the fight to Shibata. Fun match! Block B: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada:   Mr. R rating vs. The Rainmaker. Takahashi is the NEVER Openweight champion here, but the belt is not on the line. A grudge match here as it was Yujiro who turned on Okada and CHAOS, costing Okada the IWGP Title. Yujiro attacks before Okada even gets to the ring. We get a couple of cuts as Okada gets the advantage with dropkicking Yujiro off the top turnbuckle. We cut again as Okada tries to suplex Yujiro, but he grabs the ref. With the ref distracted Yujiro hits the low blow. Takahashi hits a slam off the shoulder but doesn't get the pin. Yujiro goes for the buckle bomb, but Okada reverses into a 'rana and then dropkicks Takahashi in the back. Forearms are traded in the center of the ring. Good ol rake to the eyes to Okada but gets met with another Okada dropkick. Okada finally kills Takahashi with the Rainmaker clothesline and gets the pin. Post match words from Gedo and Okada. A reporter asks Okada if he feels better for beating Takahashi, and he simply answers "nope" before walking away. This match had some brutal clipping, but honestly seemed kind of tame with the build up. I expected a little more Crush, Kill, Destroy, Swag but then again, flatly crushing Takahashi had Okada making a statement as well. We get some words from Hiroshi Tanahashi about lingering injuries in his neck from the match with Bad Luck Fale before this match and that the matches with Shibata, him, and Nakamura were always exciting and tying with Nakamura in the match from last year weighed on him. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:  This is New Japan's version of Cena vs. Orton. These guys have met a bunch of times before and always put on a show. Mauro runs down the accomplishments of both men, even the fact that these two won a tag title together. The King of Strong Style vs. The King of the Air Guitar. The bell rings and things start slowly with some posturing. Arm works by both men and some basic headlocks and takeovers. Tanahashi goes for the arm, but Nakamura gets the leg scissors counter twice. Tanahashi  breaks up the basics with a kick to the gut,  Nakamura counters. This is pretty even. Tanahashi lands a dropkick to get the lead but Nakamura counters with a kick into a judo kick. Things go to the outside where Frank and Mauro talk more about Hiroshi's neck. Nakamura gets in some knees and goes to work on his rival. Nakamura focusing on the neck with kicks and knee strikes, but Tanahashi goes for the rebound. Nakamura goes for his favorite corner kick but Tanahashi counters. Hiroshi gets the advantage with some elbows before landing a senton for the top turnbuckle, only gets a two count. Tanahashi actually does the good vibration kick, but Shinsuke grabs a the foot and counters, before getting the good vibration kick into Tanahashi and landing some knees, getting a two count. Tanahashi gets a dragon screw leg whip on Nakamura. Back up both men trade elbows before Tanahashi kicks him in the knee. Nakamura gets a triangle choke that Tanahashi fights up from but goes back down.  Tanahashi stands up and kicks Shinsuke in the head before countering into a sweet cloverleaf leglock! Shinsuke gets to the ropes, but he is hurt. Tanahashi hits another leg whip as the crowd is getting into it. Nakamura hits a backstabber. He gets in a suplex and sets up for the Booma ya, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline. Hiroshi goes to the top but misses before Shinsuke hits TWO Booma ya knees Back from break with both men out. Both men drenched with sweat, forearm each other back and forth. This degenerates to just plain old slaps. Tanahashi hits the sling blade to the back of Nakamura's head before he hits the splash, he goes for another one, but Nakamura gets the knees up. Nakamura hits a top rope Booma Ya kick to the back of Hiroshi's head but doesn't get the pin. Ouch! Nakamura hits another Booma ya but again only gets two. The crowd is just waiting for the finish now. Nakamura goes for another kick, but Tanahashi gets a trip and goes for a surprise rolling bridge cradle (A move I seldom have seen since the 80s) and gets the win! Backstage words from Nakamura saying that while he lost, he is still in the hunt. We get some in-ring words from Tanahashi as he fires up the crowd and plays guitar. Backstage Tanahashi says he can't lost at this point in the tournament. In the studio, Tanahashi talks about using the rolling cradle on the anniversary of Karl Gotch's death. He mentions how much the crowds have been watchiing the G1 matches and wanting to win the tournament. We close with some words from Frank Shamrock before Josh Barnett comes back next week. This show was a big improvement in the way Mauro and Frank brought the importance of winning matches means now and puts more perspective on the whole thing. Shamrock's commentary was very good and brought a lot to the table, especially in talking about what it felt like to get hit with some of these moves. The second match suffered from some clipping but the matches were strong. Once again this episode shows me why this is the strongest hour of wrestling on American TV. To finish things off here are the matches not shown from day 8, and the update of points Block A:   Ishii beat Smith, Nagata beat Benjamin, Kojima beat Gallows Hiroshi Tanahashi (10), Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Katsuyori Shibata (10),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (8), Yuji Nagata (8), Satoshi Kojima (8), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6), Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B:  Tenzan beat Yano, Goto beat Naito, Styles beat Archer, Suzuki beat Makabe Kazuchika Okada (10 points), AJ Styles (10), Tetsuya Naito (8),  Hirooki Goto (8), Minoru Suzuki (8), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (8),  Toru Yano (6), Togi Makabe (6), Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). See you next week! Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).
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Clash of the Titans
Strong Style is here again with your coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Looks like my Friday nights are going to be busy for a while as yesterday it was announced that more episodes of New Japan wrestling have bee...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 8

Jul 18 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a loss gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:   Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead. We get a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura as we head into this week's action. Block B: Minoru Suzuki vs. A.J. Styles: OH HOLY PURO GOD THANK YOU! *ahem* sorry. Like I said above, both guys had bad starts to this tournament but have picked up some wins to be back in the hunt to win this block. Suzuki has the rep of just being a mean son of a bitch while IWGP Champion Styles can go in epic ways. To say this was a match I am looking forward to seeing is an understatement. We are joined by Mauro and Frank Shamrock this week. Shamrock talks about meeting Suzuki when he was younger and how Suzuki used to just beat the crap out of him. Epic staredown to start. Suzuki with a hard chop as they aren't screwing around. Styles hits a dropkick and they are on the outside. We jump ahead with Styles kicking Suzuki in the corner. Styles goes for a flying hit, but Suzuki pulls the ref in. Suzuki Army member Taka Michinoku jumps in to start on Styles which brings out the Bullet Club and the Elite Squad out for a brawl that clears out of the ring quickly. Good.  Both guys wail on each other with strikes and knock each other down. We comeback from a break as both guys struggle to get up. Suzuki gets the lead here, but Styles kicks his way out of that. Styles holds the gun sign to Suzuki, but Suzuki grabs his hands and damn near breaks Styles's fingers. Styles goes for a spring board strike, but Suzuki gets a Fujiwara armbar while pulling back on his pointer finger! Told you Suzuki was mean. Suzuki gets him in a sleeper hold and goes for a Gotch piledriver. Styles fights out of it. Styles gets Suzuki into the Styles clash position, but Suzuki counters with an ankle lock! Styles reverses with an ankle lock of his own! Suzuki reveres into an armbar while pulling back the fingers. Damn dude, have a heart. Styles gets Suzuki up and hits the Styles clash! Styles is hurting as both men are up and exchanging strikes. These smacks sound like a rifle range. Styles hits the Pele kick before landing the Styles clash again and gets the win! Holy crap was that good! Considering this was called the 2014 match of the year I wasn't the only one to think so. I think I need a break. We get some words from both men after the match basically saying that their groups aren't finished yet. Block B: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Hirooki Goto: We haven't seen much of either of these guys on AXS's coverage of this tournament. While Goto started strong, both he and Tenzan have lost their last 3 matches so this battle is a must win for both guys.  Mauro points out that Tenzan is in his 19th tournament. He's been around a while but still keeps kicking butt. Strong lock up to start as Tenzan gets a headlock. These two are just bulling each other around. Tenzan levels Goto with Mongolian chops Tenzan goes for a suplex, but Goto blocks it. Tenzan gets hit with a knee to the head, but Goto can't get the pin. Goto forearms the crap out of Tenzan before they both start wailing with elbows to each other. Goto hits a headbutt to slow Tenzan down. Tenzan has the crowd behind him and he levels Goto with a few more headbutts. Tenzan hits the Tenzan driver but only gets two. Tenzan gets the Anaconda lock on Goto and hits the slam before Goto taps out! Wow. What a fight! That many headbutts in a wrestling match would have any American promotion wetting themselves in fear, but this is Puroresu. A fairly quick one, but full of action. We get some words from Nakamura. The story here is that these guys are both members of CHAOS. Shinsuke bings up the point Ishii is a tough person who faces guys bigger than him, but they have different styles so he will win. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii: Okay, call me surprised that this match is the featured main event. Nakamura, I get, but Ishii doesn't exactly light the world on fire. This is a battle of Strong Style as I expect these guys to swing for the fences in their moves. Lock up to start. Ishii doesn't seem phased by Nakamura's antics at all. Waist lock on Ishii but is reversed. They trade armlocks and after giving Ishii his trademark belly blow (not kidding here) Nakamura extends a hand but Ishii SLAPS Nakamura in response. Out of a break,  we have a stand off.  Ishii hits a stiff elbow, but Shinsuke responds. He gets Ishii in the corner for his kicks and Ishii grabs the leg. The story is here that both guys know each other well and counter each other before Nakamura hits a hanging DDT and gets in his Good Vibrations kick. Nakamura smacks Ishii around. The big guy ain't going for that and smacks Shinsuke right back. Nakamura gets a pin attempt but doesn't get the win. Shinsuke goes for kicks but misses all of them. Ishii counters and gets a SWEET superplex. Pin attempt only gets two. Ishii lands a powerbomb but still only gets two. Nakamura gets a sleeperhold, but Ishii gets right out of it. Shinsuke gets Ishii with a  falling powerslam! Didn't think he had that in him. Nakamura gets in the corner as Ishii hits a low dropkick!  Back to slugging it out until Nakamura hits a dropkick from the top rope, but the advantage vanishes with a MASSIVE clothesline from Ishii. Ishii hits a clothesline to the back of the head and gets a powerslam of his own. Ishii goes for a clothesline that Nakamura rolls through it into an armbar! After a valiant effort, Ishii gets to the ropes but his arm is gone. Nakamura hits a number of kicks, but Ishii runs him over with a clothesline! Ishii goes for a cover and only gets two! Back from a break as Ishii tries for a suplex,  Shinsuke counters. Shinsuke goes for the Booma ya but Ishii counters with a headbutt knocking Shinsuke stupid. Ishii goes for a corner charge, just to have Nakamura hit a kick to the head and hits the booma ya to the back of the head. Both guys are down now. Nakamura is first with a mafia kick to Ishii's face Exchange of elbows as Ishii tells him to bring it on and Nakamura does. Nakamura hits another Booma ya and a flying kick but Ishii kicks out! Ishii grabs a kick and counters with a headbutt, but Nakamura hits another boomya ya and wins the match! Damn! That was a good one. Ishii's shining fight, even if he lost. They shake hands and Nakamura raises Ishii's hand in a sign of respect. Crowd is chanting Ishii as he is on his hands and knees crawling back to the locker room. We get some in ring words from Nakamura and gives his trademark YEAOH! to the crowd. We get some backstage words from Ishii talking how special the match as. Nakamura gives his praise saying he was  a tough opponent. Back in the studio, Nakamura talks about it being strange fighting his teammate in the beginning but that it was a good match. He talks abnout saying he understands Ishii better now. This was a damn fine show. I have to wonder about the match order as I found it strange. All three matches were tough hard-fought battles and made for a real entertaining night. Now that Mauro brings up records of these guys and point totals, it makes each man's fight mean even more. Great Stuff! Before we head out for another week. Here is the action not shown from day 7 and the point totals  Block A: Kojima beat Benjamin, Smith beat Gallows, Fale beat Honma, Nagata beat Shibata. Shinsuke Nakamura (10), Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8),  Bad Luck Fale (8), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (6), Davey Boy Smith Jr (6) Yuji Nagata (6) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). Block B: Archer beat Yano, Anderson beat Takahashi, Makabe beat Naito Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), AJ Styles (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), Togi Makabe (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (6),  Lance Archer (6), Karl Anderson (6),  Yujiro Takahashi (4). Nakamura takes the lead in A Block while we have a 3 way tie at the top of Block B. This is making these matches really important now and anyone can win this. See you next week! BUT FIRST:  Since we are skipping day 6, here is a points update. Remember that a win  is 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and a lose gets you nothing.   BLOCK A:     Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8), Katsuyori Shibata (8), Shinsuke Nakamura (8), Bad Luck Fale (6), Tomohiro Ishii (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4) Yuji Nagata (4) Doc Gallows (4), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B:   Kazuchika Okada (8 points), Tetsuya Naito (8), Hirooki Goto (6), Toru Yano (6), Minoru Suzuki (6), AJ Styles (6), Togi Makabe (4), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4),  Lance Archer (4), Karl Anderson (4),  Yujiro Takahashi (4).   As you can see we have a bit of a log jam in Block A. Should be interesting getting into the second half of this thing. In Block B Okada and Naito are on top, but both Minoru Suzuki and A.J. Styles have caught up and are now sitting with Yano and Goto just off the lead.
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Day 7 and things are close!
This week Strong Style and AXS TV take us to the famed Korakuen Hall in for day 7 of the G1 24 tournament. Tonight's matches were held on August 1, 2014, and I'm looking forward to it! Before any of that though I'm riding hig...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 7

Jul 11 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Let's do an update on the points. Tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. Luckily since AXS covered day four last week, you haven't missed anything. Here is how the points stand. BLOCK A:   Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (4), Shinsuke Nakamura (4), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Tetsuya Naito (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (2),  Minoru Suzuki (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2). We start with a greeting from Tetsuya Naito before we get to the action. In a surprise, we get Frank Shamrock on commentary this week with Mauro. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale: Would have probably said this was going to be a one-sided match, but with Fale doing well in past tournaments, and his win of the Intercontinental title over Nakamura, This is more evenly matched than would meet the eye. A bit of a slow start as Fale just bulls around Tanahashi. Tanahashi counters a test of strength with an armbar and a headlock.  Fale yanks Tanahashi out of the ring and just tosses him around. We skip ahead as Fale goes for the Granade finisher, but Tanahashi counters. Both men end up outside the ring and Hiroshi hits a top rope dive outside the ring to the big guy, but Fale quickly recovers and smacks Hiroshi. Back in the ring Tanahashi gets the sling blade clothesline and then the frog splash, but Fale grabs him by the neck and gets off the Grenade finisher (Chokeslam/Asian spike combo), but Tanahashi kicks out. Fale goes for the Bad Luck Fall drop but is countered before he goes for the move and nails it and pins Tanahashi! Clipped, but what was shown it seemed like a typical WWE match more than anything. Fale isn't the greatest of technical wrestlers, but Tanahashi worked well with what he had.     Block A: Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:  Oh boy. Do not like Honma's chances here. Japan 's favorite underdog has no wins going for him so far in the tournament and  he's up against one of New Japan's top guys. Mauro points out that Honma is winless. Mauro actually for the first time mentions Nakamura's part in the tournament, including matches we didn't see. Shinsuke goes for his usual antics, but Honma isn't going for it. He gets Nakamura down and goes for the headbutt but misses. Nakamura gets a couple of harsh knees on Honma hanging off the ring apron. We jump ahead with Nakamura kneeing the hell out of Honma. Shinsuke goes for his favorite corner knee strike, but Honma jumps up and lands a clothesline. Honma gains the advantages and Honma lands his headbutt! Nakamura lands a kick to the side of Honma's head to regain the advantage and lands more knee strikes on Honma. We come back from a break where Nakamura has a face lock over Honma but Honma counters with a DDT. He hits Nakamura with a piledriver and juuust comes up short on the three counts. Nakamura regains the lead but runs right into a Honma headbutt and Mauro is going crazy for this one. Honma goes for the diving headbutt and misses (as usual), but gets back up for an exchange with Shinsuke but gets a knee to the jaw. Nakamura looks to finish things off, but Honma gets a roll up and nearly gets it! Nakamura lands 2 Booma ya knees to finally finish Honma off. However, the crowd starts a massive chant for Honma as he is carried from the ring! We get some words from both men as Nakamura tells everyone he is on a roll while Honma asks why he can't win a match. He makes some comments about winning the Intercontinental title and changing it to yellow. Well, the crowd loves him anyway so he has that going for him! Coming back from a break we get a few more words from Naito. He talks about not having pressure on him after winning the 23rd G1 Climax and that Okada and Styles were the ones he was looking for. He mentions that is the place he badly injured his knee so it has memories for him, but they are bitter.       Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada: Now this should be good. You have the 2013 and 2012 G1 Climax champions facing off. Okada is the leader of the B block, but after pinning the IWGP Champion last week, I'm convinced Naito can beat anyone in the block. We get both men's entrances as we are in main event territory now.  Naito is still sporting the bandage on his head. Shamrock gives some insight on what it's like to suffer an injury like Naito's knee injury and how it stays in your mind, especially going to back to the place where it happened. We come back from a break as the match begins. The crowd is loud for this one. Mauro tells that these men only have met six times, but they have split their matches. Naito starts in with an armlock, but Okada reverses it. They get to the ropes where Okada teases smacking Naito, but doesn't. Quick exchange ends up with Naito landing a dropkick to Okada's  face. Naito lands a bunch of elbows on Okada and then ASKS OKADA TO HIT HIM. Okada obliges. Naito Bushido to the max. Naito ends up outside the ring and Okada chokes him on the barricade before rolling Naito into the ring. Okada keeps the edge over his opponent with a kick to the face!    Ouch! Okada hits the DDT but only gets 2 on the pin attempt. Okada's approach seems to be methodical, even cocky. The crowd is just waiting for Naito to counter and he does with a dodge of a corner elbow and a hanging neck breaker on Okada. Naito gets BIG air with a missile dropkick. Okada counters Naito's corner attack and hits a knee to Naito's neck. Okada gets the flying elbow and goes for the Rainmaker pose and the finishing clothesline, but Naito counters with a spinning DDT. Naito hits the corner hanging dropkick and then a top rope frankensteiener on Okada. Naito nearly gets it with a nice german suplex. Okada tries to counter but is met with a Naito SLAP. Okada, however, grabs Naito for a tombstone and gets it, but when he goes for the Rainmaker clothesline, Naito counters, and counters again before landing a kick to Okada's head. Back from the break with both men down on the mat. they stumble up as these two just exchange smacks and elbows. Okada whips Naito into the ropes, but Naito hits a shoulder block and goes for the top rope, but Okada hits a sweet dropkick. Okada goes for the rainmaker again, but Naito hits another counter before hitting the stardust press and the win! Wow! We get some post-match words from Okada who is disappointed he won't win EVERY match in the tournament before being helped away by Gedo. In the ring Naito thanks the crowd for cheering for him. Mauro tells a quick funny story on how Naito is still an active member of the NJPW fan club since he was a kid Quick backstage words from Naito promising to win the tournament again this year We get some studio words from him about the match saying this match was to remind people that he too was capable of winning the tournament, not just Okada or A.J. Styles. The shows closes out with a nice tribute to The God of Japanese Wrestling, Karl Gotch, saying he would have enjoyed the match we just saw.     This was a decent showing in this episode. Frank took a little time it seemed to get warmed up but his commentary was good, sharing what he could in a field he probably doesn't have a lot of knowledge in (Ken Shamrock on the other hand...). Mauro finally making mention of other matches is a start, but think about this, Shelton Benjamin is the leader of the Block A group and hasn't even been mentioned yet on the show. The first two match were clipped but not nearly as bad as the Anderson match from last week. The main event was amazing and showed just how good NJPW can be.   Before we go, here is the action from each block you didn't see and the points at the end of the night. BLOCK A: Gallows beat Ishii, Smith beat Kojima, Shibata beat Benjamin Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (6), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (6), Shinsuke Nakamura (6), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (4), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Archer beat Tenzan, Suzuki beat Takahashi, Yano beat Anderson, Styles beat goto Tetsuya Naito (8), Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (4), AJ Styles (4),  Minoru Suzuki (4), Karl Anderson (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2).   See you all next week! BUT FIRST:  Let's do a little catching up heading into day 4. Once again I will point out in this tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. I won't bother with the specific results of days 2 and 3 but here are the point totals heading into this episode. BLOCK A:   Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points), Shelton X Benjamin (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Katsuyori Shibata (2), Shinsuke Nakamura (2), Tomohiro Ishii (2), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Tetsuya Naito (4), Yujiro Takahashi (2), Togi Makabe (2),  Toru Yano (2),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (0),  Minoru Suzuki (0). Seriously, The reigning IWGP Champion has only one win, and Suzuki doesn't have any? Still early, but that is really surprising. Now with that settled we will get to the action! We are welcomed by Shibata for the second week in a row as we kick things off   Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura V/S Yuji Nagata: "King of Strong Style" vs. "Blue Justice". Nagata comes out wearing an "Anti-Aging Hero" shirt. Love it.  As both men are trained in amateur wrestling as well as MMA, it leads to Mauro talking about a conversation he had with Samoa Joe about the influence of MMA in pro wrestling. The start off is slow, but we skip ahead where things are heating up. This match is not fast but hold and counter hold. Lots of kicks and strikes and blocks and dodges. Josh Barnett adds something here because he not only wrestled Nagata before, he had his debut against Nagata. The match ends with Nakamura hitting 2 Booma yae knees to the head and scoring the pin. We get some post-match words from Nakamura before going to break. Probably had a lot clipped, but you still got the general feel of how the match played out. Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. A.J. Styles: Naito may be smaller than most in this tournament, but he has shown on this program before that he can hang with the big guys. Doesn't get any bigger than the IWGP Champion. The story here is that Naito won last year's G1 and looking to repeat, while Styles wants to become the first gaijin winner of the G1. The match starts off with trading arm locks and headlocks to gain an advantage. Mauro mentions that Naito already has a bandaged cut on his head from Tora Yano. Naito gains an advantage and then messes with Styles by doing A.J.'s pose. Sure enough Naito's cut starts trickling blood. Both men get furies of offense, but Styles shuts Naito down with a poke in the eye. We skip ahead as now Naito is gushing blood, but still holding the advantage. Mauro gets bonus points from me for making a point to reference someone I admire, Gordon Solie. Styles nearly gets the Styles Clash on Naito, but Naito counters. Naito hits his Gloria suplex and then hits the top rope corkscrew for the WIN! Post-match comments from Naito saying that he respects Styles, but just beating him wasn't enough. He wants a title shot. Again, edited a lot but this match was still very entertaining to watch and a big surprise for Naito to pick up the win. Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson:  To say that "The Machine Gun" from the Bullet Club has an uphill climb here is an understatement. Block B top point holder taking on the bottom of Block B. Anderson attacks before Okada even finishes his entrance. We skip ahead as both men are outside the ring. We skip ahead again as Anderson is just mauling Okada. A lot of clipping here. Okada gets in a DDT to stop Anderson's offense.  We clip again as Okada lands the top rope elbow and goes into his Rainmaker Pose. He goes for the Rainmaker clothesline but gets caught in a Liger bomb. Anderson gets a top rope neck breaker (A cool move I've not seen before) and a Bernard Driver but can't put Okada away. Clipped again as Anderson goes for his finisher, the gun stun (Stone Cold Stunner) but is countered, countered again, and countered AGAIN before Anderson actually hits the move and gets the win! Wow, that easily is the most clipped match I've seen on this show ever. Anderson talks some smack in the post match. Okada and Gedo have nothing to say as they go straight past the press for the locker room. We get some in studio comments from Shibata before our main event. He talks about how this is an important match and we get some clips of Shibata and Tanahashi feuding when Shibata returned to New Japan in 2012. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata: Main event time! We got a good look at Shibata last week with the oddly emotionless way he destroys people with his MMA influenced style. Here he's taking on NJPW's golden boy. These two were once part of New Japan's "Three Musketeers" in 1999 along with Nakamura. We've got about 25 minutes left in the show, so hopefully this match wouldn't be the hatchet job the last one was. Tentative start once again and oddly Shibata is already sweating. Shibata SLAPS Tanahashi, like totally bitch slaps him. Tanahashi returns the favor. Yup, these guys do not like each other. The action picks up quick with each man dodging big strikes and kicks before Tanahashi leaves the ring. Shibata hurts his knee from a dive and now Tanahashi has something to target. Despite the injury, Shibata takes Tanahashi outside the ring and beats on Tanahashi including a running kick to the face. We come back from a commercial break with Shibata standing over Tanahashi. Tanahashi makes his comeback with an elbow before hitting a senton on Shibata. Shibata gets a knee to Tanahashi to regain the lead here. Shibata shrugs off a drop kick while in the corner before beating Tanahashi's head in with several elbows before hitting his sweet hanging drop kick. Tanahashi gets a forearm and then a german suplex, but Shibata pops right up and grabs a suplex of his own. Shibata goes for a kick, but Tanahashi catches it and goes for a few leg whips before putting on a cloverleaf leg lock. Josh mentions the lock is actually putting pressure on Shibata's good leg, not the injured one. Nice touch there from Josh Barnett. Small comments like that make this commentary more legit than anything else out there. After releasing the hold, Tanahashi just kind of stands there awkwardly, looking for a crowd reaction that isn't there and gets booed heavily for it. He lands the sling blade clothesline on Shibata before Tanahashi lands a frog splash. He goes for a second but Shibata gets his knees up. The crowd is chanting for Shibata loudly now. Both men trade forearms as it's a standoff.  Shibata lands a NASTY spinning backhand that literally smacks the sweat off Tanahashi's face. Shibata goes for the Go-To-sleep knee to the head, but it's countered, only for him to hit it again. he nails Tanahashi with a running penalty kick and scores the pin. The two men begrudgingly shake hands before Shibata calmly leaves the ring and walks to the back in his typical style. Post match Tanahashi is on the floor in pain as he questions the last 10 years of his career. Shibata pretty much agrees. In the studio, Shibata talks about how much the match was important to him before we close out the show for the week. That main event was incredible, no denying that. Even more than last week though, the weakness of having a one-hour show covering this big of a tournament shown through. The Anderson/Okada match was clipped to death. Also, I get the idea is to focus more on the action, but they make little if any mention of the points each man holds going into these matches which may not be a huge deal, but kind of leaves out part of the story. Saying that,Mauro and Josh were spot on tonight and made the show that much more enjoyable to watch. In keeping track of things,  here is the action from each block you didn't see and the points at the end of the night. BLOCK A: Kojima beat Fale, Benjamin beat Smith Jr., Ishii beat Honma. Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (4), Shinsuke Nakamura (4), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Suzuki beat Tenzan, Yano beat Goto, Makabe beat Archer. Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Tetsuya Naito (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (2),  Minoru Suzuki (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2). And with that, I hope all of you American readers have a great July 4th weekend. And those of you looking to just have fun, take a lesson from the Florida Brothers. You don't have to be born American to enjoy the holiday, just American at heart.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Day 5 from G1 Climax 24
Back again this week as Strong Style takes a look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV's coverage of the G1 Climax 24 tournament. So far we've seen some great matches selected from the tournament's action. Tonight we look at ...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 6

Jul 04 // Soul Tsukino
BUT FIRST:  Let's do a little catching up heading into day 4. Once again I will point out in this tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. I won't bother with the specific results of days 2 and 3 but here are the point totals heading into this episode. BLOCK A:   Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points), Shelton X Benjamin (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Katsuyori Shibata (2), Shinsuke Nakamura (2), Tomohiro Ishii (2), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Tetsuya Naito (4), Yujiro Takahashi (2), Togi Makabe (2),  Toru Yano (2),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (0),  Minoru Suzuki (0). Seriously, The reigning IWGP Champion has only one win, and Suzuki doesn't have any? Still early, but that is really surprising. Now with that settled we will get to the action! We are welcomed by Shibata for the second week in a row as we kick things off   Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura V/S Yuji Nagata: "King of Strong Style" vs. "Blue Justice". Nagata comes out wearing an "Anti-Aging Hero" shirt. Love it.  As both men are trained in amateur wrestling as well as MMA, it leads to Mauro talking about a conversation he had with Samoa Joe about the influence of MMA in pro wrestling. The start off is slow, but we skip ahead where things are heating up. This match is not fast but hold and counter hold. Lots of kicks and strikes and blocks and dodges. Josh Barnett adds something here because he not only wrestled Nagata before, he had his debut against Nagata. The match ends with Nakamura hitting 2 Booma yae knees to the head and scoring the pin. We get some post-match words from Nakamura before going to break. Probably had a lot clipped, but you still got the general feel of how the match played out. Block B: Tetsuya Naito vs. A.J. Styles: Naito may be smaller than most in this tournament, but he has shown on this program before that he can hang with the big guys. Doesn't get any bigger than the IWGP Champion. The story here is that Naito won last year's G1 and looking to repeat, while Styles wants to become the first gaijin winner of the G1. The match starts off with trading arm locks and headlocks to gain an advantage. Mauro mentions that Naito already has a bandaged cut on his head from Tora Yano. Naito gains an advantage and then messes with Styles by doing A.J.'s pose. Sure enough Naito's cut starts trickling blood. Both men get furies of offense, but Styles shuts Naito down with a poke in the eye. We skip ahead as now Naito is gushing blood, but still holding the advantage. Mauro gets bonus points from me for making a point to reference someone I admire, Gordon Solie. Styles nearly gets the Styles Clash on Naito, but Naito counters. Naito hits his Gloria suplex and then hits the top rope corkscrew for the WIN! Post-match comments from Naito saying that he respects Styles, but just beating him wasn't enough. He wants a title shot. Again, edited a lot but this match was still very entertaining to watch and a big surprise for Naito to pick up the win. Block B: Kazuchika Okada vs. Karl Anderson:  To say that "The Machine Gun" from the Bullet Club has an uphill climb here is an understatement. Block B top point holder taking on the bottom of Block B. Anderson attacks before Okada even finishes his entrance. We skip ahead as both men are outside the ring. We skip ahead again as Anderson is just mauling Okada. A lot of clipping here. Okada gets in a DDT to stop Anderson's offense.  We clip again as Okada lands the top rope elbow and goes into his Rainmaker Pose. He goes for the Rainmaker clothesline but gets caught in a Liger bomb. Anderson gets a top rope neck breaker (A cool move I've not seen before) and a Bernard Driver but can't put Okada away. Clipped again as Anderson goes for his finisher, the gun stun (Stone Cold Stunner) but is countered, countered again, and countered AGAIN before Anderson actually hits the move and gets the win! Wow, that easily is the most clipped match I've seen on this show ever. Anderson talks some smack in the post match. Okada and Gedo have nothing to say as they go straight past the press for the locker room. We get some in studio comments from Shibata before our main event. He talks about how this is an important match and we get some clips of Shibata and Tanahashi feuding when Shibata returned to New Japan in 2012. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata: Main event time! We got a good look at Shibata last week with the oddly emotionless way he destroys people with his MMA influenced style. Here he's taking on NJPW's golden boy. These two were once part of New Japan's "Three Musketeers" in 1999 along with Nakamura. We've got about 25 minutes left in the show, so hopefully this match wouldn't be the hatchet job the last one was. Tentative start once again and oddly Shibata is already sweating. Shibata SLAPS Tanahashi, like totally bitch slaps him. Tanahashi returns the favor. Yup, these guys do not like each other. The action picks up quick with each man dodging big strikes and kicks before Tanahashi leaves the ring. Shibata hurts his knee from a dive and now Tanahashi has something to target. Despite the injury, Shibata takes Tanahashi outside the ring and beats on Tanahashi including a running kick to the face. We come back from a commercial break with Shibata standing over Tanahashi. Tanahashi makes his comeback with an elbow before hitting a senton on Shibata. Shibata gets a knee to Tanahashi to regain the lead here. Shibata shrugs off a drop kick while in the corner before beating Tanahashi's head in with several elbows before hitting his sweet hanging drop kick. Tanahashi gets a forearm and then a german suplex, but Shibata pops right up and grabs a suplex of his own. Shibata goes for a kick, but Tanahashi catches it and goes for a few leg whips before putting on a cloverleaf leg lock. Josh mentions the lock is actually putting pressure on Shibata's good leg, not the injured one. Nice touch there from Josh Barnett. Small comments like that make this commentary more legit than anything else out there. After releasing the hold, Tanahashi just kind of stands there awkwardly, looking for a crowd reaction that isn't there and gets booed heavily for it. He lands the sling blade clothesline on Shibata before Tanahashi lands a frog splash. He goes for a second but Shibata gets his knees up. The crowd is chanting for Shibata loudly now. Both men trade forearms as it's a standoff.  Shibata lands a NASTY spinning backhand that literally smacks the sweat off Tanahashi's face. Shibata goes for the Go-To-sleep knee to the head, but it's countered, only for him to hit it again. he nails Tanahashi with a running penalty kick and scores the pin. The two men begrudgingly shake hands before Shibata calmly leaves the ring and walks to the back in his typical style. Post match Tanahashi is on the floor in pain as he questions the last 10 years of his career. Shibata pretty much agrees. In the studio, Shibata talks about how much the match was important to him before we close out the show for the week. That main event was incredible, no denying that. Even more than last week though, the weakness of having a one-hour show covering this big of a tournament shown through. The Anderson/Okada match was clipped to death. Also, I get the idea is to focus more on the action, but they make little if any mention of the points each man holds going into these matches which may not be a huge deal, but kind of leaves out part of the story. Saying that, Mauro and Josh were spot on tonight and made the show that much more enjoyable to watch. In keeping track of things,  here is the action from each block you didn't see and the points at the end of the night. BLOCK A: Kojima beat Fale, Benjamin beat Smith Jr., Ishii beat Honma. Shelton X Benjamin (8 points), Hiroshi Tanahashi (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (4), Katsuyori Shibata (4), Shinsuke Nakamura (4), Tomohiro Ishii (4), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0). BLOCK B: Suzuki beat Tenzan, Yano beat Goto, Makabe beat Archer. Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Tetsuya Naito (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Togi Makabe (4),  Toru Yano (4),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (2),  Minoru Suzuki (2), Yujiro Takahashi (2). And with that, I hope all of you American readers have a great July 4th weekend. And those of you looking to just have fun, take a lesson from the Florida Brothers. You don't have to be born American to enjoy the holiday, just American at heart.   BUT FIRST:  Let's do a little catching up heading into day 4. Once again I will point out in this tournament wins are worth 2 points, a draw is 1 point, and losses are worth nothing. I won't bother with the specific results of days 2 and 3 but here are the point totals heading into this episode.   BLOCK A:  Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 points), Shelton X Benjamin (6), Bad Luck Fale (4), Satoshi Kojima (2), Yuji Nagata (2), Katsuyori Shibata (2), Shinsuke Nakamura (2), Tomohiro Ishii (2), Davey Boy Smith Jr (2), Doc Gallows (2), Tomoaki Honma (0).  BLOCK B: Kazuchika Okada (6 points), Hirooki Goto (6), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4), Tetsuya Naito (4), Yujiro Takahashi (2), Togi Makabe (2),  Toru Yano (2),  Lance Archer (2), AJ Styles (2), Karl Anderson (0),  Minoru Suzuki (0). Seriously, The reigning IWGP Champion has only one win, and Suzuki doesn't have any? Still early, but that is really surprising.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The G1 Climax heats up!
Hello, welcome back to Strong Style. Happy 4th of July to our American readers as we once again take a look at the G1 Climax 24 tournament. Last week we took a look at three matches from the opening day of the tour, and this ...

New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
New Japan Pro Wrestling

PSA: New Japan Pro Wrestling's data gets breached


18,000 customers' data on the ropes!
Jul 03
// Soul Tsukino
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced at a press conference today that the personal information of 18,000 customers has been leaked online by an unknown hacker. The data leaked includes customers' names, addresses, credit card in...
Ayakashi Zamurai photo
Ayakashi Zamurai

Garage Hero's Ayakashi Zamurai series unsheathes a new trailer


There's plenty of comedy to go around
Jul 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As Garage Hero continues to work hard on their upcoming projects, the group has taken the time to upload a new Ayakashi Zamurai trailer. This time around, we get to see more of the fantasy samurai show's comed...
Death Note photo
What, huh?
After the revelation of a Death Note TV series, pictures and actors being released, fans have been disgruntled by the faithfulness to the source material. Death Note is a manga turned anime and subsequently live action movies...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS S2 episode 5

Jun 27 // Soul Tsukino
With that, here are the participants: [embed]34001:4875:0[/embed] A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner) Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner) Yuji Nagata (2001 winner) Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi) Katsuyori Shibata Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner) Tomohiro Ishii Shelton X Benjamin Davey Boy Smith Jr Doc Gallows Bad Luck Fale B Block: Togi Makabe (2009 winner) Hirooki Goto (2008 winner) Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner) Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner) Toru Yano Minoru Suzuki Lance Archer AJ Styles Yujiro Takahashi  Karl Anderson So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center on July 21 2014. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma: Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog. The announcers point out that Honma is replacing Ibushi who is out of the competition with a concussion. Honma gets a great reaction from the crowd. The picture being painted is that Honma may be the underdog, but he is hanging every step with Tanahashi. Honma actually dominates and sets up for his falling headbutt finisher, but as usual, he misses. Tanahashi hits a dragon suplex, but Honma kicks out. Honma nearly gets a pin with a roll up. Honma hangs tough, but Tanahashi hits the sling blade clothesline and a diving splash to get the win and two points. Brief, especially with the edits, but it got the point across. Block B: A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada: Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well, having beaten Okada. The crowd is FIRMLY behind Okada in this one. Styles is out here by himself while Okada has Gedo in his corner. Okada starts thing off with an awesome dropkick with Styles sitting on the top turnbuckle. They do an amazing spot where Styles is whipped into the ringside barricade, but leaps right over it into ringside, only to have Okada leap over and hit Styles. Further along in the match the ref is down. Okada goes for the win when Takahashi comes in as expected but gets dropkicked in the mouth for his troubles. They exchange moves including Okada hitting a tombstone out of a styles clash position before Okada decrapitates Styles with the rainmaker clothesline for the win and 2 big points. We get some words from Okada in the ring where he promises to beat Styles of the IWGP title and he will win the whole tournament. Gedo says pretty much the same thing. We get a few words from Shibata about his mindset going into this match. He talks about how he wondered what the fans would think of their match, and also how much Nakamura had changed since they were together 10 years ago. Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata: The announcers do a great job of explaining how Shibata had left NJPW for over 7 years to go to MMA and various paces while his dojo classmates Nakamura and Tanahashi stayed. The difference in these two is night and day. Shibata  comes out in black tights and no flash. Very much like Dan Severn while Nakamura comes out with his usual flash and posing. The match starts tentatively as both men go for a classic style lock up.  Nakamura does some clowning, but Shibata makes him pay for it with some kicks. Seeing Shibata going for sit outs and lock ups shows he's had amateur wrestling training up the wazoo. Shibata puts Nakamura in a sleeper and then powers him over the top rope. Shibata's emotionless approach to calmly throwing Nakamura into the barricade and the ring posts is scary. Things slow down as Shibata goes for an early figure four leg lock. They break the hold and we go into Shibata smacking Nakamura around before Shinsuke gets fired up and takes over. The match is showing that while Shibata is the emotionless badass, Nakamura is every bit his equal and can fight as well. Shibata hits a sweet kick that knocks Shinsuke flat before Shibata hits a hanging dropkick (!). Nakamura goes for his finisher, but his met with a dropkick laying out both men as we go to a break. We come back as both men exchange forearms again and neither is going down. Nakamura hits two Boom-mae-yae knees to the skull, but Shibata gets up from the pin and then counters Shinsuke's charge with another dropkick. Shibata NAILS Shinsuke with a hell of a kick and gets the pin! Wow, not the result I would have guessed. Okay, now I see why this was made the feature! Nakamura gives us some words that his loss was a result of bad luck while Shibata doesn't really say much of anything. Badass? Yup. Promo man? Not even close. We get some studio words from Shibata saying he feels the match got a mixed reaction from fans (Huh? really?) but he's ready for more. As good a show is this is, watching it you can see the flaw of covering such a big tournament with just a 1-hour show. Each night is going to have 10 or 11 matches (and was 4 1/2 hours long), but really they could only show one full match and only clips of just two others. You miss some of the context here, but since it was only the first day of the tournament, Mauro and Josh didn't have to tell you about how many points each person had or what they had to do to stay in the race. Next week we shall see just how much of the rest of the tournament the announcers explain. I, on the other hand, don't have to worry about such things. Here is the quick results of the rest of night 1 and the points update. Block A: Fale beat Ishii, Benjamin beat Gallows, Kojima beat Nagata,  (Tanahashi/Shibata/Fale/Benjamin/Kojima all get 2 points) Block B: Tenzan beat Anderson, Yano beat Suzuki, Takahashi beat Naito, Goto beat Makabe (Okada/Tenzan/Yano/Takahashi/Goto all get 2 points) And there you have it. See you next week with more from the G1 Climax 24! With that here are the participants https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=101&v=EGCsYr4a-3Y A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2007 winner) Satoshi Kojima (2010 winner) Yuji Nagata (2001 winner) Tomoaki Honma (Replacing an injured Kota Ibushi) Katsuyori Shibata Shinsuke Nakamura (2011 winner) Tomohiro Ishii Shelton X Benjamin Davey Boy Smith Jr Doc Gallows Bad Luck Fale B Block: Togi Makabe (2009 winner) Hirooki Goto (2008 winner) Tetsuya Naito (2013 winner) Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2006 2004 2003 winner) Kazuchika Okada (2012 winner) Toru Yano Minoru Suzuki Lance Archer AJ Styles Yujiro Takahashi  Karl Anderson So we begin on the first night of the tour at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma Interesting match with NJPW's big star taking on the perennial underdog. A.J. Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada Really surprised this wasn't the feature match. Both "The Rainmaker" and "The Phenomenal One" have been featured on this show before so there isn't much new that I'll explain. Styles is the reigning IWGP Champion in this match as well. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata /ul/34001-/match2-620x.jpg [embed]34001:4864:0[/embed]
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The G1 Climax Begins!
Welcome back to Strong Style! This week we begin something very cool as NJPW on AXS TV begins its coverage of the 24th annual G1 Climax Tournament! The coverage of the tournament will take us all the way into August with high...

Love Live!! photo
Love Live!!

Love Live!! Movie US theater listings are here!


Your waifu idols hit the big screen
Jun 26
// Red Veron
Your favorite pop idol waifus from the anime Love Live!! μ's (pronounced 'Muse') arrive at theaters across the US this September and we now have dates for the showings. So what is Love Live!!? Love Live!! is mixed media fr...
Texas Toku Taisen photo
Texas Toku Taisen

Here's the Texas Toku Taisen '15's screening schedule for San Japan


Texas is about to get its Henshin on
Jun 24
// Salvador GRodiles
As we get ready to finish off the month of June, the screening schedule for this year's Texas Toku Taisen has hit the Web. This time around, they're showing their stuff at San Japan 8 on July 31 through Aug. 2, whic...
Cyborg 009 vs Devilman photo
Cyborg 009 vs Devilman

Aw snap: Cyborg 009 and Devilman collide in a new OVA


Sounds like a match made in heaven
Jun 19
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh wow, now this is what I call an unexpected turn of events. It turns out that the new Cyborg 009 anime is a three-episode crossover OVA with Devilman. Actas (Kotesushin Jeeg and MazinKaiser SKL's Animation P...

Strong Style: The Landscape of Japanese Pro Wrestling

Jun 19 // Soul Tsukino
  Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA):  Puroresu starts here. While many tours of pro wrestling were held in the post-war era, this is the first pro wrestling company to establish itself in Japan, starting in 1953. The JWA was the creation of a former sumo wrestler named Rikidozan (pictured above), who started wrestling a few years earlier.  The promotion was an instant hit as it became the first program shown live on Japanese TV with 3 days of wrestling shown on NHK and NTV. Later in the year Rikidozan became its first champion after shooting (going off the planned outcome) on judoka Masahiko Kimura and legitimately knocking him out. The JWA established many of the traditions of puro that are seen today such as multiple singles and tag team titles, holding annual tournaments, and bringing in foreign (Gaijin) talent to use on their shows. Sadly Rikidozan died in 1963 after being stabbed by a yakuza. After his death, the promotion had several internal struggles, mostly focused on who should replace Rikidozan as the company's top star. The JWA wanted to promote former baseball player, the 6'10" Shohei "Giant" Baba while some thought the top spot belonged to the faster and more technically sound Kanji "Antonio" Inoki. The two coexisted in the late 60s, but in 1972 the politics got so bad that both men left the JWA to start their own companies. The JWA struggled but ended up closing down in 1973 with all of its remaining talent going to either Baba's or Inoki's companies.   New Pro Wrestling (NJPW):  Started by Antonio Inoki in 1972, with him being the top star of the company. NJPW is the second biggest wrestling company in the world, behind WWE. Originally recognized the American NWF title as its top championship, they switched to the International Wrestling Gran Prix as its governing body in the 80's for all its titles. The company, along with Puroresu as a whole, hit a downturn in popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000's thanks to the rise of mixed martial arts, something Inoki was a trailblazer for with his shoot fights with Muhammad Ali, Willie Williams, and others in the 70's and 80's. Inoki didn't help puro's cause as he routinely sent wrestlers into one sided shoot fights against MMA stars and putting the IWGP title on people like Bob Sapp, Brock Lesnar, and Akebono. Inoki eventually stepped aside as head of the company to let his son-in-law Simon take over. Inoki sold the promotion to video game company Yukes before they sold it to current owner Bushiroad in 2012. Spearheaded by young new talent like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Okada, and Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW was able to reverse its fortunes in the mid-2000's and grew to bigger heights. It has dominated the landscape in Japan ever since.   All Pro Wrestling (AJPW):  The company "Giant" Baba created in 1972. Was seen as more traditional of the post JWA companies and inherited all of the JWA's titles and a good number of its wrestlers, along with its membership in the American National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) when the JWA closed. With the NWA backing, AJPW held several world title matches with champions like Jack Brisco, Harley Race, and Ric Flair routinely stopping by, adding to the prestige of the company. Baba himself held the NWA World title 3 times, although his title reigns were usually very short, due to scheduling of the NWA title defenses. When the NWA dried up, Baba unified the companies singles titles (The PWF title, the NWA International Title, and the NWA United National title) to form the Triple Crown Championship in 1989. After Baba's death in 1999 from cancer, the company has had a major fall from prominence. Thanks to major talent defections in 2000 (led by top star and president Mitsuharu Misawa), and in 2012 (led by former president Kenji Mutoh), AJPW is a shell of its former self with only about 12 regularly contracted wrestlers. Though it still holds shows, the crowds are much smaller than NJPW's and rely heavily on freelance wrestlers.   Pro Wrestling NOAH:  The result of AJPW's second massive migration of talent in 2000 when president Mitsuharu Misawa quit, leading all but two native Japanese wrestlers away from All Japan to form a new company. The name is a reference to Noah's Ark. After taking big name wrestlers and securing All Japan's tv deal with Nippon TV, shot up to become a top player in overnight. It recognized the Global Honor Championship (GHC) as its main title. Sadly Misawa died in a tragic in-ring accident in 2009, and after some rough patches here and there, the company is still going strong. Although they could be considered the number 2 in right now, they don't mind lending out their talent either as NJPW's Minoru Suzuki and his group, Suzuki's Army, are actually based out of NOAH, including the Killer Elite Squad. Wrestle-1 (W1):  The result of top star and former company president Kenji Mutoh leading the third migration of talent from All Japan in 2012.  Although this promotion has done some promotional work with TNA/Impact Wrestling (resulting in the disastrous Bound For Glory show in 2014), it is still a smaller company that doesn't draw nearly the big crowds that New Japan does and is filled with wrestlers loyal to Mutoh, or students he is training.   Dramatic Dream Team (DDT):  Founded in 1997, DDT is an independent promotion that produces some wild antics that are a parody of WWE storylines. The most (in)famous aspect of this company is its Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, a joke hardcore title that has been won by such title holders as two different dogs, a blow-up love doll, 3 different ladders and even the belt itself have been crowned champion. Outside the over the top stuff, it has produced some fine wrestlers including NJPW's Kota Ibushi.   Dragon Gate:  Originally this company started as Toryumon, based off Ultimo Dragon's training gym, but he left in 2003 for the WWE and took the name with him. Although they feature some heavyweights and some comedy characters, Dragon Gate's main bread and butter are smaller and faster style wrestlers, based off Ultimo Dragon's training in Mexico in the country's Lucha libre style. Several wrestlers from this group have wrestled in the United States for such companies as TNA, ROH, and Chikara and even has an American leg of the promotion, Dragon Gate, the uses top unsigned American talent. They also at one time had just about the coolest television opening in the world.   Freelance:  A concept that has grown in Japan, more so than in the Unites States, is freelance wrestlers. These are guys who are not signed to long-term deals with any one promotion in Japan and are able to go to any company they want. These folks are often used on big shows for companies, especially tournaments, or used to fill out shorthanded rosters. Even big promotions like New Japan use freelancers on their shows from time to time. There are other promotions in Japan, both past and present, but these are the major ones, especially in dealing with coverage of New Japan here on Japanator. The puroresu landscape is a large one with many different styles and approaches. There is something for every wrestling fan in Japan, so it's worth checking out. http://www.japanator.com/ul/33952-strong-style-the-landscape-of-japanese-pro-wrestling/NOAH-noscale.jpg
Strong Style photo
A broader look of Japanese Wrestling
Through the Strong Style coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV, Japanator has given  a glimpse into the world of Japanese pro wrestling, or "puroresu", to its readers. Through the article, we've taken a look at s...

Strong Style: NJPW on AXS season 2 Episode 4

Jun 13 // Soul Tsukino
First and foremost though, I want to take this opportunity to pass along my thoughts and condolences of the passing of wrestling legend "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. I grew up on Dusty, getting into wrestling just before he would appear in the WWF in his polka dots. I had read about him in the wrestling magazines of the day and that was when I got to see him in action. In 1990 I was ringside in the Augusta, Maine Civic Center to see him and Sapphire with Miss Elizabeth in their corner take on "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Queen Sherri Martel with Brother Love in their corner. Dusty was a big part of me enjoying wrestling since then, whether I realized it or not. He was a man unto himself not only in the ring or behind the mic, but backstage as well. Someone pointed out how ironic it was that the last big WWE show before he passed ended with a "Dusty Finish". It may not always garner the best reaction from fans, but it served as a great element to a story.  He was a great influence to the business and his legacy will live on with all of the young talent he influenced in NXT over the years.  So in tribute and to tie things together, here are some Dusty Rhodes classics with a bit of Nippon flare. Dusty V/S WWF Champion Bob Backlund from 1980 [embed]33945:4813:0[/embed] Dusty V/S Abdullah The Butcher from 1983 (WARNING: This is Bloody!) [embed]33945:4811:0[/embed] Dusty Rhodes: Cosplayer [embed]33945:4812:0[/embed] Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata V/S  Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata: Little surprised they didn't show the Styles/Takahashi V/S Okada/Ishii match instead of this one, but that's how it goes. Nagata has been around since the 90's. WCW fans may remember his lower mid-card feud with Ultimo Dragon in the late 90s. He's a former IWGP champion and while he is still considered a top card wrestler, his best days are behind him, even if he holds Pro Wrestling Noah's top belt, the GHC Title. His partner Honma was mostly a hardcore death match style wrestler when he first started, but developed into a more well rounded wrestler in the late 2000's. He's popular with fans as an underdog hero. Goto is a wrestler who started in New Japan as a jr. heavyweight competitor who moved up to the heavyweight division. He is a midcard wrestler who has had brief brushes with main events, but never stayed there. His partner Shibata is actually a high school classmate of Goto's and also a second generation wrestler (His father was New Japan's Katsuhisa Shibata). He is also a trained MMA fighter with a 6 year run in K1 fighting.  Mauro and Josh welcome us again and Barnett points out that Goto and Shibata are the young guns in this match while their opponents are vets of the ring. Honma kicks things off literally as he and Shibata go back and forth. No feeling out process, strait to the heavy hits. Nagata and Honma take the early lead with stiff as hell strikes and kicks. Shibata BLASTS Honma in the face and pretty much knocks him motionless, but doesn't go for the pin and just brings in Goto instead. They switch back and forth on Honma and man Shibata is just MEAN. Did Honma owe him money or something? He's just punking Honma out here with kicks and strikes, but Honma fights back! Nagata finally geets the tag and HAULS OFF on Shibata with kicks. They get into a stand off with forearms with Nagata getting the advatage with a mafia kick. Nagata lands a exploder suplex but Shibata runs right up and counters with a olympic suplex. Goto tags in and gets right into an armbreaker before Yuji tags in Honma. Honma goes for his finsher, a falling top rope headbutt, but misses. Goto goes for the kill but Honma keeps fighting. All four start going at it.  Nagata and Shibata fight in the crowd as Goto scores the pin in the ring. However Nagata and Shibata just keep fighting into the back. Damn that match was wild! Bet all these guys were sore after that one. We get some words from Fale, in English no less! He talks about wanting to set himself as a big player in NJPW and wanting to destroy Nakamura over winning the belt.   Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura V/S Bad Luck Fale: The challenger Bad Luck Fale (prounced Fah-Lay) Is the heavy of The Bullet Club. He tends to be more of a bodyguard than a wrestler, but here he is getting a title shot after nearly beating Nakamura in the New Japan Cup Tournament final. Coming from Tonga by way of New Zealand, he is a former rugby player who debuted in 2010. Nakamura is one of my favorites and someone who is a star for New Japan. He is an interesting sort. He has an artist-like way he wrestles his matches with weird movements and always seemingly looking at his opponent like a blank canvas to create art on. However, this man is a former MMA fighter and three time IWGP champion, so he's no pushover. When he won the IC title, he elevated the title to a main event status in New Japan so that shows just how good he is in the ring. Fale comes to the ring with Tama Tonga so expect cheating.  Nakamura comes to the ring dancing to his own beat as always. Josh and Mauro go into the hate that MMA got from fans going back into the late 90's when NJPW founder Antonio Inoki was having the pro wrestlers enter shoot fights and getting slaughtered. The bell rings and there is a lot of posturing before they lock up. Quickly the tale of this match is Fale being the much stronger of the two. Nakamura gets the edge by stomping on Fale's foot and kneeing him in the corner. Fale runs over Nakamura with a clothesline. This sends him out of the ring where Tama Tonga starts punching away. Fale takes Nakamura over the metal barrier. Mauro starts in on how the NJPW wrestlers are the best in the world, but the refs aren't so much. No respect for poor Red Shoes. He does have a point though. Nkamura gets in the ring as Fale dominates. After a mauling, Nakamura decides enough of that crap and mans up. Coming back from a break as both men are reeling.  Nakamura takes over with forearms and kicks. He misses a knee giving Fale an advantage but loses it just as quickly. Nakamura goes for a neckchoke but Fale counters with a suplex. Fale squashes Nakamura in the corner but doesn't get a pin. Fale goes for a Chokeslam/Asian spike combo (A move he calls The Grenade) but Nakamura kicks out of it and takes over. He gets Fale on the top rope and knees the heck out of him but Runs over Shinsuke with a clothesline. he goes for the Grenade but Shinsuke kicks out again. Fale goes to the top (!) but Nakamura gets him in a BIG superplex. Nakamura gets him in an over the shoulder suplex (good lord!) before Nakamura hits two Boom ba ye knees but gets speared when he goes for a third. Fale goes for a double chokeslam, but Nakamura counters with a head scissors, only to get dropped in a powerbomb. Fale then goes up and lands a huge splash, but Shinsuke kicks out! Fale hits the outsider edge and scores the pin! The Bullet Club celebrate in the ring as Nakamura is hauled out on a stretcher. We get some Bullet Club yammering before Fale closes us out with how important the match was to his career. That main event match was way better than it should have been. You'd think with a big inexperienced lug like Fale, they would have had a ton of outside interference and a ref bump, but nope, outside of one flurry of punches, the match was one on one. While Fale may not be a top card kind of guy, he showed me something here. Good show all around!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Intercontinental Title on the line!
Welcome back to Strong Style! This week's show has AXS TV going back for our third episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Dominion 2014 event from Bodymaker Coliseum in Osaka. This week's show includes a heavy hitting tag match and an Intercontinental Title match.

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS season 2 episode 3

Jun 06 // Soul Tsukino
We start off this week's episode with a few words from Togi Makabe before we get to our first match. NWA Tag Team Title: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr./Lance Archer) V/S Ten-koji (Hiroshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima):  Smith and Archer both had mediocre runs in the WWE with Smith Jr. being a patsy for their wellness policy while Archer was a pick up from  TNA who had a minor push in the WWE's version of ECW. They both found much better success in Japan as part of the Suzuki Army, lead by Minoru Suzuki who we saw last week. Kojima and Tenzan have on and off teamed since 1999 when they were part of NWO Typhoon and later Team 2000. They are both former world champions and actually met in a match where both the IWGP title and Triple Crown Titles (the main title for competing wrestling company All Japan Pro Wrestling) were defended, making the winner, Kojima, the only man to hold both belts simultaneously. Also adding to this match is the title itself. The NWA (National Wrestling Alliace) was once the biggest organization in pro wrestling starting in 1948, So much so that the U.S.government nearly took them to court for operating as a monopoly. However, their clout pretty much died in 1986 when the territories it covered either were bought out or went broke. The name has been revived a few times, including WCW and New Japan in the early 90s and TNA in the first half of the 2000s, but after TNA gave up the name it really didn't mean anything anymore. In the last few years both NWA World and Tag titles are almost exclusively defended in Japan now as secondary titles. Mauro gives us some background on the NWA tag titles, pointing out the NWA didn't officially recognize tag titles until 1992 and the Miracle Violence Connection of Terry Gordy and Steve Williams. Chaos breaks out as all four men go at it. No feeling out process here as Tenzan and Smith smash each other. Kojima goes for his rapid fire corner chops and lays about 20 in on Archer. This is a no finesse match as  the hits just keep on coming. We come back from a break as Smith has the advantage over Kojima but Kojima fights his way back. Smith gets a chinlock in  as Mauro reminds us that Smith debuted as a wrestler at 10 years old (!) while Smith rips Kojima's breathe-right strip off. Tenzan comes in and swings the match for his team but Archer gets him down and goes up top for a MOONSAULT?! That is an impressive sight. Tenzan gets up from that though and keeps the match going. Kojima gives Smith the rapid chops and a diving elbow, but Smith gets up. Jeez, these hits are stiffer than a bottle of grain alcohol. The Squad hit the old Hart Attack move but Kojima kicks out again. Ten-koji goes for the Ten-koji cutter (the 3D) but Archer breaks up the pin. The Squad go for the Killer bomb (full nelson into powerbomb) but the count is broken again. Smith goes for a clothesline on Kojima, but Kojima ducks and smashes Smith was a Stan Hansen style clothesline and scores the win!   We get more words from Makabe as he explains that he is teaming with Tanahashi to represent NJPW against The Bullet Club. He also talks about wrestling with a broken jaw that he had suffered the month before. That's Japanese wrestling, just short of breaking your arm or leg like a twig, or your heads flies off in the second row, you wrestle! IWGP Tag Titles: Ace to King (Togi Makabe/Hiroshi Tanahashi) V/S The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows): Well this is an interesting match. Gallows and Anderson are the defending Champions. Gallows had roles in the WWE (Festus, Fake Kane, Luke Gallows) and TNA wrestling in the past. Anderson wrestled for mostly small indy feds before finding much better success in NJPW. They are also founding members of The Bullet Club along with Fergal Devitt (NXT's Finn Baylor). Tanahashi is basically New Japan's John Cena. He pretty much was the guy who helped resurrect NJPW in the early 2000's when pro wrestling's popularity was down thanks to MMA. He won the IWGP title several times and was a main feature of this show last season. His partner Makabe is known as "The Unchained Gorilla" and takes after the famed Bruiser Body in his wrestling, in other words he is a brawler who uses chairs and weapons a lot. Makabe isn't known for being a top card hero, so him teaming with Tanahashi does make for an odd combination. Hiroshi and Karl start things out as Hiroshi gets an edge and breaks out the air guitar. This match starts out more scientific than the opening match did. However, Gallows get his his shots from the outside early as well. Makabe comes in as the crowd cheers for him and the Club wants little to do with him. They have a stand off and Gallows hit him right in the JAW! Hiroshi comes in as Makabe decides to take a time out. Things break down with Makebe and Gallows on the outside and Karl and Hiroshi on the inside. Yeah, the landing didn't feel good for Tanahashi. The Club take advantage as both members of Ace to King as not in good shape. Hiroshi is getting beat on in the ring and while this is going on The club attacks Makabe at ringside. This has become a handicapped match as The Bullet Club have their way with Hiroshi. Hiroshi puts up a fight with forearms but isn't getting much in. Makabe gets back on the apron, mouth bleeding, before he comes in and goes to town on the Club. Crowd is solidly behind Makabe in this one. Makabe and Gallows face off with Togi getting the upper hand. The story of this match seems that whenever the challengers get the upper hand, the Club just shuts them down. Anderson hits an F-5 on Hiroshi but Tanahashi kicked out. Tanahashi nearly scores the win with a frog splash, but Anderson brings his knees up. We come back from break as Anderson gets the advantage. Makabe in but he gets kicked right to the jaw. He gets a powerbomb on Anderson but only gets a 2 count. Tanahashi scores a frog splash and Makabe goes for something of the top rope before Gallows whacks him with a chair. Makabe still kicks out. Tanahashi eats a Magic Killer from the Bullet Club and then they hit Makabe with the same move and keep Makabe down for a 3 count. Makabe gives us some final words about the fight as he talks about wrestling with a broken Jaw and teaming with Tanahashi as we are out. A nice change of pace from the high flying juniors we've seen the last few weeks, this was good ol' smash mouth tag team wrasslin'. All 4 teams manned up and didn't goof around n there. Ten-koji in the first match showed that they hadn't slowed down a bit over the years and in the second match I just kept cringing seeing all those hits to Togi's broken jaw. Once again a great presentation. Next week we get the third and final look at Dominion 2014!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Tag Team Tussle!
New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS brings us back to Bodymaker Stadium in Osaka for the second of three episodes looking at the Dominion card for June 21, 2014. This week we look at some tag team action from the heavyweight division. Two Titles are on the line and none of these teams are pushovers.

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS season 2 episode 2

May 30 // Soul Tsukino
We are at the Bodymaker Coliseum in Osaka for what is the first of 3 shows that are matches from the Dominion card from June 21, 2014. IWGP Jr. Tag Team Title: Time Splitters V/S Young Bucks: As was pointed out last week, the Time Splitters are Kushida and American Alex Shelley with a Back to the Future gimmick. The Young Bucks are brothers Matt and Nick Jackson, an American team that has been around the horn with runs in Ring of Honor as well as TNA. They have a bit of a reputation for thinking way to much of themselves and being dicks, but I think a lot of that is just hype. Here they are part of The Bullet Club, a bad guy stable that was started by Fergal Devitt (NXT'S Finn Baylor), before being lead by TNA and ROH stalwart A.J. Styles. Think the NWO with a little DX mixed in and that describes the Bullet Club, and no I don't say that as a compliment. The Bucks are the IWGP Jr. Tag team champions. The cocky champions come walking in with big smiles and threats of superkicks. This continues in the match with lots of crotch chops and "suck it" taunts. The story of his match is that the Splitters keep trying to keep the speed up while the Jacksons want to slow things down. The fun thing about Japanese wrestling is that you can hear what's going on in the ring and after a double chop to the chest, Nick Jackson screams "Oh my god!". The match is edited a bit for time but it's not taking too much away from the match. The team moves of the Spillters is a thing of beauty as they go on the attack but The Bucks counter with double moves of their own, especially the move they call "The Indytaker" where one man holds his opponent upside down while the other man dives off the rope, driving the opponent straight down on his head. The crowd is bonkers for this one as both teams go for finishers but the Splitters get the win when Kushida uses the "Hoverboard Lock" to get the submission and the titles. We get some words from the Splitters, actually Kushida does all the talking, in the post match press conference.   Takashi Iizuka & Minoru Suzuki V/S Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: The people in this match kinda scare me. On one side you have Suzuki (left bottom), an amateur wrestling champion and MMA pioneer who one of the founders of the Pancrase MMA promotion in 1993. He also is known as a an off kilter man who can basically destroy anyone, even as he has gotten older. His partner Iizuka (Top Left) is a grizzled veteran on NJPW (debuting in 1986) who isn't a walk in the park to wrestle either. On the other side you have Sakuraba (Bottom Right), an MMA master known as "The Gracie Killer" after having beaten 4 members of the famed Jujitsu master family. He is also a huge Otaku and known for his anime themed entrances to fights. He is partnered up with Yano (Top Right), a lot younger than the others in this match. He is a former amateur champion as well although like Iizuka, he is a brawler and heavy hitter. This match came about as Yano and Iizuka were partners in Team Chaos going against Suzuki's group of the Suzuki Army. Iizuka turned on Yano (a match shown last season on AXS). Sakuraba comes in as just a big name of MMA that could stand up to Suzuki. 3 of the 4 guys are around 50 years old, showing off another trait of Japanese wrestling where when guys get older, they start appearing in mid-card tag matches most often instead of main events and title matches (Wish companies in the States did that). Also, no beauty queens here for this one! Iizuka does the Bruiser Brody entrance through the crowd while Suzuki comes out with the towel over his head as a bad ass. Broadcaster Josh Barnett, it turns out, has had a hand in either training, or training with the people in this match, even teaming with Iizuka. Suzuki and Sakaraba, the MMA fighters start off in a classic grappling match before they just glare at each other and tag out to their partners. Things break down in a fight as a weird dynamic on the Yano/Sakuraba team develops with the wrestler Yano screaming orders as the MMA fighter Sakuraba, not always with success. This is a grudge match so lots of foreign objects are used like chairs, a hammer that rings the bell, a mic cord, and the tag rope are used, with the referee not disqualifying anyone. Sakuraba at one point tops Iizuka with palm strikes to the eye (ouch!) before Iizuka counters with a choke with a mic cord. After a spot where Yano and Suzuki fight over an exposed turnbuckle Yano gets clobbered with both a chair shot and and the "Iron Fist" of Iizuka (refer to the pic abovee of Iizuka), Suzuki hits a cradle piledriver on Yano to win the match for his team. The Army keep up the attack going after Sakuraba with the glove and piledriver as well. Suzuki gives us some words of how awesome he is to the press before we get to the main event of this show. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kota Ibushi V/S Ricochet: As we saw last week Ricochet won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament to earn this title shot against Ibuchi. Kota Ibuchi is a long time Jr. Heavyweight with a Karate background. He hasn't had that big of an impact in the U.S. but had been featured on this show a few times in the first season. He also not only wrestles for New Japan, but also for the smaller Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) promotion as well. Ricochet's background was largely covered last week if you want to know more about him. We get some words from Ibushi before we get into the match as he talks about how much of an opponent Ricochet is after watching him in the BotSJ tournament. Both guys are "good guys" and for being under 220 pounds, neither are stick figures with muscles to spare. As the match starts the fans are solidly behind Ricochet surprisingly.  Both guys trade kicks to get things going but start up the action with a quick run of attempts for moves and the other guy flipping out of the way with cartwheels, moonsaults, and flips. No plodding here!  Ricochet gets an advantage with a move known as the Zig Zag (used by Dolph Ziggler) and goes to work over Ibushi with a mix of strikes and submission holds. Ibushi finally gets the advantage with a missile dropkick. He then dives outside the ring with a spring off the ropes and does a flip onto Ricochet nearly on the other side of the ring!  Richochet counters with his own missile drop kick that is a marvelous thing. Both men are back and forth on each other with the attacks getting bigger, turning the match into a game of 'Can you top this?'. Ibushi nearly kills himself when he falls off the top turnbuckle and hits himself in the face with the metal buckle. Ricochet gets him back up for a flying rana but Ricochet counters by doing a complete flip and landing on his feet! I'm loving this! Ibushi goes for a spinning phoenix splash (tribute to one of my favorites, Hayabusa) but misses, however Ricochet still can't get the pin. Ricochet goes for the Benedryller twice but Ibushi counters it. He hits a kick before going for the Phoenix Plex, a move I have never seen before in my life. He sets Ricochet for a powerbomb but when he gets him onto his shoulders, Ibushi grabs Ricochet's head and pulls in tight, before going backwards, looking like a tightly held version of the Kinnikuman Muscle Buster. Ibushi scores the pin with this one to retain the title to the roar of the crowd. Ricochet honors the winner by handing him the belt and the winner's trophy in the ring. We get words from both men after the match and then words from Ibushi praising Ricochet's resilience and power to end the show.  Holy crap, I had been told the main event match was incredible, and it was! My words aren't doing that match justice. The Middle tag match did provide a nice breather between the to Jr. Heavyweight matches and even that was kind of enjoyable in a kooky kind of way. The announcers were ON tonight as not only were they into the matches as much as the fans were, but Josh Barnett gets some credit with his experience with the men in the middle tag team match. This week once again, this show proves why it is a must watch for people who like really good wrestling instead of 25 minute promos and sketches involving fake Russians macking out on a guy like a horny school girl. See you all next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Ibushi V/S Ricochet
[Welcome to Strong Style, Soul's new regular column covering the high-flying antics of Professional Wrestling in Glorious Nippon and beyond! - Josh] This week on New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV we pick up from last wee...

Death Note photo
Death Note

Death Note TV series announced and characters revealed


More deaths than Game of Thrones
May 25
// Anthony Redgrave
Tsugumi Ohba's writing combined with Takeshi Obata's art produced a heart pounding, page turning manga called Death Note that was later adapted into a widely popular TV anime, a ho-hum movie adaptation, and some more side sto...

Strong Style: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS season 2 episode 1

May 24 // Soul Tsukino
We start the second season of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV the same way we left off, Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett are back with the play by play of the best action going on in Japan. As I have mentioned here before, This show is not a "first run" show like a Monday Night RAW or Smackdown. Instead it is a show that looks back at key matches and shows from recent NJPW history. This episode takes us to June 8th, 2014 and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium for the semi-finals and finals of the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. BotSJ is a tournament that was first held in 1988 and is a big spotlight on the lighter weight class in NJPW. Unlike "one and your done" style tournaments (IE: NCAA Basketball tournament), this competition is stet up much like Olympic Ice hockey where the 16 competitors are split into 2 groups. Each man fights all the other men in his bracket for points, the two top point-getters in each bracket face each other on this show with the winners of the semi-finals fighting for the trophy in the final. The show starts with one of our competitors tonight in Kushida. He shares his thoughts on competing that night before we get to our first match. Kushida vs. Taichi:  This is a very interesting match. Both men were trained in some part by 90's Japanese wrestling superstar "Dangerous K" Toshiaki Kawada. These two are also familiar to me from their runs 10 years ago in a promotion called HUSTLE that was so over the top it referred to itself as a "Fighting Opera" instead of wrestling. Taichi is a member of Team Chaos, a rule breaking stable in NJPW, and as Ranallo points out, a bit of an underdog to have gotten this far. Kushida is one half of a tag team called The Time Splitters.   A tag team who's gimmick is based off Back to the Future. Bless you Japan. Kushida also as noted is in this match as a replacement for his partner Alex Shelley who was injured. The match is a chaotic mess as Taichi attacked Shelly during his entrance with a chair and started a fight before the bell rings. This is like a fast paced cheating heel V/S good guy style match as both men have partners interfering on their behave and getting the referee to miss all of it. Taichi even pulls out a classic Eddie Geurrero spot where he tosses Kushida a cane, only to collapse in fake pain, making the ref think Kushida nailed him with it. The match comes to an end when Kushida unveils his new finisher, The "Hoverboard Lock", A flying kimura armlock. I'd have called it the McFlying armlock myself. The move gets the quick submission and sends Kushida to the finals.     Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Ricochet: Taguchi has popped up on this show before as one of NJPW's top Juniors,  He is the favorite of the tournament as he won the 2012 BotSJ and would have made the semifinals of the 2013 tournament but had to withdraw because of injury. Rochochet is an American wrestler with a large independent following, and here is representing the Dragon Gate promotion. Many will also know of his as Prince Puma, champion on the American Lucha Underground show. This match plays out with an opposite dynamic from the last match as both men are fan favorites and they play the match that way. It is very fast paced and it's a show of who can top who. There is a bit of a skip in the match, but it's not very big and you don't seem to miss much. Ricochet scores the win with his finisher, the Benedryller kick, to score the win. Both semis were kept short, under 8 minutes, as both winners would be coming back. These matches weren't hacked to death and were shown for the most part. As with last season Ranallo and Barnett do a great job of explaining to context of each guy as well as the tournament itself We get some more words from Kushida about his new finisher and about that night as well. Final: Kushida V/S Ricochet:  This match is amazing and feel like 3 different matches in one. The first part of the match is a slower paced mat wrestling match with hold, counter hold, escape, to get things kicked off. It switches to a million-miles-an-hour face-paced match where both men are keeping the pace up and landing several moves at once. Finally the match becomes a battle of attrition as each man is throwing out their biggest moves joined together with some hard kicks and elbows. The match is close to 40 minutes long, which to some American fans is unthinkable for Junior heavyweights. The story that is told during the entire match is Kushida keeps going for Ricochet's arm to set him up for the Hoverboard Lock, while Ricochet is wearing down Kushida for the Benedryller. To say they throw everything at each other is not an overstatement. These guys used every one of their biggest moves, and even some moves from other people to try to get the victory. The battle finally ends when Ricochet nails Kushida with a kick right to the head and then the Bendryller that folds Kushida in half before being pinned. During the entire match not only is the crowd very into the battle, but so are the announcers. No old timey vaudeville jokes, no bickering, no talks about women's underwear or whatever they pulled from the headlines to be topical for the week. Not only to both announcers put over the importance and history of the tournament, they put over the moves and action in the ring with more legitimacy than anything else going on in wrestling on TV. We get some post match words from Kushida who is sweating buckets and on the locker room floor before we get some in ring words from Ricochet, who challenges NJPW Junior Heavyweight Champion, Kota Ibushi, to a match (Ibushi accepts). We then get some in studio comments from Kushida where he talks about how the crowd was cheering for Ricochet in the finals and that putting on a good showing not only for himself, but Junior Heavyweights as a whole, was the goal of the match. Once again this show is my favorite. Josh Barnett and Marro Ranallo have not lost a thing since the first season  of shows and the producers put together a great 1 hour look at the show that night. The editing wasn't a hatchet job and a lot of the action was shown, while still having some comments from Kushida to get some insight into what one of the competitors was thinking during the course of the night. I encourage more people to watch this show and see what a wrestling show that takes itself more seriously can be like. Next Week we will see the match between Ricochet and Ibuchi for the title and feature the Time Splitters together in action going after the Jr. Heavyweight tag titles against the Young Bucks.
New Japan Pro Wrestling  photo
The best of Japan for American fans
Welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look into Japanese wrestling! This time out we look at my favorite wrestling show on American TV as it returns for a second season. Can AXS keep up everything that made this show amazing during its first season? What does the producers pick to highlight from New Japan wrestling action? Take a read and find out!  

Bakuman photo
Bakuman

Live action screens from Bakuman movie


Manga on the big screen
May 18
// Anthony Redgrave
Movies based off anime/manga have faired much better than their geeky partner video games. The Death Note movie may have faltered a little due to the massive change in story but all the characters looked great and i...
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger photo
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger

It's Judgement Time: Dekaranger to return as a V-Cinema


Chu Chu Chu Deka Deka!
May 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh my. Right when it felt that Hurricanger was going to be the only Sentai show to get the 10 Years After treatment, a new beacon of hope has surfaced for toku fans. Seeing that it's been ten years since Tokusou Sentai Dekar...
Blow off photo
Blow off

AKB48 find out who is the best at blowing


Mmmmm cicada
May 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
Oshima Ryoka and Mogi Shinobu of AKB48  faced off during a new episode of AKBINGO! This time, it was their cheeks, lungs and taste for insects that was put to the test! Which gal was better at blowing! Who enjoys the crunch of flying protein?

Is New Japan Pro Wrestling the new WWE?

May 12 // Soul Tsukino
Since the closure of both Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling and Paul Heyman's Extreme Championship Wrestling 15 years ago, TNA was viewed as the number 2 company, the "alternative" to the WWE. Started by Jeff Jarrett and his father Jerry in 2002 and having been run by Dixie Carter and her family for nearly as long, TNA strived to set itself apart from the WWE for years. Notable concepts like the 6 sided ring, the X division, and the various concept matches they have created over the years were an attempt to set themselves apart from what Vince was producing. But, try as they might, TNA never really made a dent. The company struggled to turn a profit since the beginning. They had some high profile departures within the last few years with long time cornerstone A.J. Styles leaving after TNA failed to agree to a new contract, along with stars like Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian, and Christopher Daniels. They lost their long time business partner in Spike TV and have settled on being aired on the much less carried Destination America channel, a move that has cost them up to 2/3rds of their regular audience they had beforehand. And although they have done some of their "special" events on Impact, their weekly show, they haven't aired a "live" pay per view show since last October (and that event itself was pre recorded from Japan). Impact Wrestling has lost a lot of its visibility among wrestling fans since the beginning of the year. In my mind it's no longer the number 2 company in the United States, and it's not really as big an alternative anymore. If this is the case, then someone would need to step up and becoming the true alternative to the WWE's megalith. And New Japan Pro Wrestling is fast on its way to becoming it. Granted, NJPW isn't there yet. However, They have many of the stones in place to build themselves to be. They've had their stars appear on shows for Ring of Honor. Sure, that isn't exactly headlining Wrestlemania, but it is a big start. Having Jeff Jarrett help bring over their biggest event of the year, WrestleKingdom, to American pay per view with Jim Ross doing English commentary was another huge step. If you are going to show off your wares, then show them the absolute best show you produce. Jim Ross, along with Matt Striker, explained the context of every match, the importance of every title, and the magnitude of the event for English speaking fans in a way that made for a great introduction to the product. Soon after NJPW made a big step in getting a weekly show on the AXS cable network. Although this wasn't a first run show like a Monday night RAW, it was a very well produced show highlighting the biggest matches of New Japan in the last few years. Host Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett blew me away with their commentary of these matches. They made the matches not only seem important, but they brought a level of credibility to the action more than anyone in the WWE or Impact have done in decades. The show did so well in its first season it has already been picked up for a second (That premieres at the end of May) But the biggest thing going for NJPW that makes it a big alternative to the WWE is that it too has an online archive that rivals the WWE Network. This past January when #CancelWWEnetwork was trending on Twitter after the disaster that was their Royal Rumble event, who was the first to step up and tell people to spend their money on their service? NJPW.  NJPW World obviously isn't for everyone, but there is a sizable portion of wrestling fans that are increasingly cynical and resentful of what the WWE has done in their corporate atmosphere. With American exposure, a weekly TV show to gives a informed spotlight to the action and its stars, and a 24/7 archive streaming service that isn't beaten over your head every two seconds, what's left for NJPW to become a true alternative? A first run show, even if it is on a slight delay, would probably ideal, but that might be a while off. Having AXS carry entire  NJPW special events might be closer to achievable.   AXS does very well with its live MMA coverage and bringing that to NJPW wouldn't be that much of a transition. Also, carrying events on tape delay would bring in a sizable audience as well. Some well-placed ads on the USA network during RAW or other similar types of programming and you have a bigger audience than what currently follows the product.  Unlike Impact or Ring of Honor, NJPW has the funds and the influence to make things like this happen. So with NJPW, the sky's the limit as to what else they can bring to American shores. They already have a great foundation, now is the time to build on it and give the WWE something to think about. WWE has grown complacent since there is no real threat to them here. Vince, and by extension the WWE, thrive better in a competitive atmosphere.  Any kind of challenge a big player like NJPW can bring would make the WWE stand up, take attention, and bring out the best in them as well. The past has shown us that when the WWE is on their game, the entire industry benefits. And right now, it sure could use it. NJPW brought back popularity of pro wrestling in Japan a decade ago, it's time for them to bring it to new heights in the U.S. and give the WWE a run for its money.  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
NJPW's presence in the U.S. grows
Being a fan of professional wrestling in the United States, you've got choices. Of course there is the biggest game in town in Vince McMahon's WWE, who have dominated the market practically  unopposed since 2001. Behind ...

Fan Expo Dallas photo
Fan Expo Dallas

Heading to Fan Expo Dallas? Come have dinner with Godzilla's staff


Be sure to have a roaring appetite
May 10
// Salvador GRodiles
You know. Meeting your favorite industry people at a convention may be cool and all, but nothing beats the idea of having a meal with the folks you admire. Speaking of which, Fan Expo Dallas' giving people the chance to ...
Anime Expo '15 photo
Anime Expo '15

Sweet: LeSean Thomas and Thomas Romain to appear at AX '15


Double Thomas Xtreme!
May 09
// Salvador GRodiles
As LeSean Thomas (Black Dynamite: The Animated Series Season 1 and 2's Supervising Director, Legend of Korra Book 1's Production Artist) and his team continue to work hard on Cannon Busters' pilot, the guy's appearing at...
Digimon photo
Digimon

Digimon Adventure tri.'s latest trailer will please your nostalgic heart


The Crest of Hope shines strong
May 07
// Salvador GRodiles
This might sound strange, but I have yet to watch Digimon Adventure in its original language. Nonetheless, the series is still one of those titles that I still adore to this day. Anyway, Toei's uploaded a new trail...
Ayakashi Zamurai photo
Ayakashi Zamurai

Check out Garage Hero's Ayakashi Zamurai teaser


Sounds like a sword-clashing good time
Apr 27
// Salvador GRodiles
Garage Hero's Hayate web series may have been put on hold, but their latest project, Ayakashi Zamurai, has received its first teaser. Based on the trailer's content, it looks like the group's hitting us with another fun proj...
Love Live! photo
Love Live!

Love Live Movie goes international in new trailer


From the East coast to every coast!
Apr 24
// Red Veron
We finally get a new trailer for the upcoming Love Live! School Idol MOVIE, which is a feature length film featuring the next (and final) adventure of the franchise's lead idol group, μ's. Love Live! is this crazy multimedia franchise that has garnered quite a following around the world with the music, anime, merchandise, and that really fun music rhythm game on mobile devices.
Cannon Busters photo
Cannon Busters

Rejoice: Cannon Busters' production has begun


It's time to get excited
Apr 07
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; LeSean Thomas and his crew are ready to start working on Cannon Busters, the adventure series with a teen and older audience in mind. After going through a process of planning the production, the team is ...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Aw snap, Garage Hero share their thoughts on the Ultraman Ginga S movie


Brought to you by Whey Body Protein
Mar 27
// Salvador GRodiles
If you've been interested in checking out Ultraman Ginga S the Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors, Bueno (Gun Caliber's Director, Producer, and Hero), Michael (Gun Caliber's Blue), Max (Hayate's Co-Producer) an...

Review: Naruto: The Last

Mar 21 // Red Veron
Naruto: The LastStudio: Studio PierrotLicensed by: Eleven ArtsReleased: February 20, 2015 (North American Theatrical)Naruto: The Last offers up a chance to see a little bit of what happens in the penultimate chapter of the Naruto manga. It’s been two years since the end of the war and peace reigns throughout the ninja nations until the world notices that the moon is coming dangerously closer to the earth with moon rocks breaking off as meteorites fall to earth. Things get worse when a mysterious figure who claims to be responsible for the lunar lunacy kidnaps Hinata Hyuga’s little sister, Hanabi. Now Hinata and Naruto along with Sakura, Shikamaru, and Sai go off to save Hanabi and the world. If you’ve been paying attention to all the trailers and the last chapter of Naruto, you may know that this movie features Naruto and Hinata finally getting together as a couple.  Don’t go expecting full love story with a style similar to that of a shoujo romance. It gets the job done; it’s the catalyst that finally gets Naruto and Hinata together though we don’t get to see them as an “official” couple. It’s similar to how shounen action handles romance though instead of being a thing that breaks up the action, but here it’s part of what gets the plot going in Naruto: The Last. The movie does get a chance to show a little bit of Naruto and Hinata’s budding romance. It is very refreshing to see characters from something so focused on action like the shounen genre in a different light, I’ve always loved seeing art of characters being in a different setting. For a few minutes in the movie, Hinata gets to be a normal teen girl dealing with love problems and Naruto gets to be a clueless harem protagonist that just doesn’t get it. I have to admit I enjoyed that part and it helped my enjoyment of the movie so much more. If you’ve been keeping up with the Naruto manga, you may have seen that Naruto is super powerful towards the end of the manga and would probably crush anyone who starts up trouble. The new baddie in this movie is a crafty one, and a 114 minute movie doesn’t have the same luxury of the anime and manga that can show off that the bad guy is more capable than the protagonists in multiple chapters or episodes. This power difference scale thing can be a bit distracting when you see someone skilled in fighting like Hinata Hyuga be somewhat relegated to a damsel-in-distress role. I can forgive that since there are reasons for such a thing and that it actually gets Naruto to think of her as more than a ninja buddy. There has to be some sense of urgency and a challenge for our protagonists to get the movie going. As for how the movie looks, it looks great. Fluid and clean animation pumps up the action in the fight scenes. It’s great to see the Naruto cast in action showing off their special moves and techniques in a much better  looking quality than the anime, especially that this is “The Last” one.  It’s not just the action that looks great, there are very visually pleasing sequences in the movie. I liked the intro sequence that gives a brief look into Naruto history; it’s well done though a bit weird when you realize the choice for the background song. There’s another sequence in the movie that gets a bit surreal that is a nice treat for those that have seen all of the Naruto anime. Those ending credits are just so pretty. If you’ve seen the trailer then a lot of you may be excited that certain characters that you love will show up again. Some of you may be disappointed that not everyone is going get much screen time, if at all. We do get a chance to see a few of other characters dealing with the impending threat of the moon crashing to Earth while Naruto and company are on their rescue mission, which is a nice treat for longtime fans. So should you go see Naruto: the Last? It’s a must-see for diehard Naruto fans that need to see more of the character Naruto before he grows up into an adult in that last manga chapter. It shows off a different side of Naruto and Hinata and how they grow beyond more than just being fighters. If you like Hinata and Naruto, you’ll like this movie and you’re going to get to see a lot of them here since this movie is about them after all. I loved how this movie shows a protagonist that finally gets romantically together with another character, since you hardly see that in the shounen action genre. I have to admit that I got something in my eye as I watched the ending credits that had beautiful art of the characters with that very sweet accompanying song just got to me. This movie is a great farewell for Naruto, to his action packed adventures as a teenager and a great beginning to his path to adulthood achieving his dream to becoming the Hokage. 7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.
Naruto: The Last photo
Going off with a blast
Naruto is a name known throughout the anime and manga world that stands alongside shounen action staples such as Dragon Ball and Bleach. Masashi Kishimoto’s orange-clad ninja has been around since 1999 and has grown ...

Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan live action movie footage is here


In the flesh
Mar 19
// Red Veron
The good stuff starts at the 0:57 second mark. Get hyped.
Gun Caliber photo
Gun Caliber

Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition shoots its way back to YouTube


Spring is about to get filled with bullets
Mar 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Spring may be known as that the Season of Allergies, but Bueno and Garage Hero have decided to overcome this issue with their fourth YouTube stream of Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition. This time around, people can watch...
Beyond The Boundary photo
Beyond The Boundary

Check out the new Beyond the Boundary movie trailers and premiere bonus items


Revisit the Past, See the Future
Mar 07
// Red Veron
Back in 2013, Beyond the Boundary proved that Kyoto Animation can do still do action anime since it's been a while since their last attempt with Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid. I loved it and wanted much more of this actio...
Gundam: The Origin photo
Gundam: The Origin

Watch 7 minutes of the Red Comet in Gundam: The Origin


Watch the veritable Red Comet in action!
Feb 17
// Red Veron
Fans of the Red Comet, rejoice! We finally get to see Char Aznable in action in this new trailer for the upcoming first part of the OVA adaptation of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. The trailer features Char Aznable laying wa...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Toys, Choreography, and Toku's current state

Feb 16 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: If you were given the chance to work on any existing tokusatsu franchise, which one would you do, and how would you make it different? Bueno: I'd make Mirai Ninja, because Keita Amemiya has been talking about making that, ever since he made the first one-- and he hasn't done it. Because all that Pachinko money is funding the Garo shows, so he's stuck in this endless loop where he has to make Garo shows, because the Pachinko games are making the money to fund them. Japanator: Oh! So that's why there's been so many Garo projects lately. Bueno: Yeah. Nobody really understands that. Have you heard my podcast with Mecha Gorilla? Japanator: Yes! Bueno: We talked about the same thing-- I think it was with Mecha Gorilla or Christafurion and Friends. The Pachinko games pretty much fund the series. That's why they have so much series of Garo. Then, it's an endless loop of, "Okay, Garo had a Pachinko game that did well, so it funds the new Garo series." Then the new Garo series gets a Pachinko game based on it, and that one funds the next one. So he's kind of stuck in that rut, and I want to be able to work with Keita Amemiya on Mirai Ninja 2. But I don't know, that brings me to another discussion of if I would want to work on a Japanese production. From my experiences here in Japan, working on somebody else's projects --especially the Japanese ones-- could be really really really tough work, because there's a certain way of doing things. Also, because of the fact that you are a foreigner, working in this industry over here, you're gonna deal with a lot of racism. Bueno with Mark Musashi (Sh15uya's Piece, Garo's Kodama) at Machigaine Hot Dogs in Akihabara Japanator: Based on your experience with tokusatsu and film making, what are your current thoughts on the tokusatsu industry? Bueno: More than the industry, the "fandom" is kind of in a rut right now. The four major franchises in tokusatsu right now are Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Ultraman, and Garo-- as far as like henshin hero stuff goes. People would say Godzilla and kaiju stuff, but when people say "tokusatsu," they're going to talk about Kamen Rider more-- you just gotta face the facts. That's partially the reason why SciFi Japan TV closed down, they had some great content, but nobody gave a shit. They wanted to cover Ultraman and kaiju stuff, and not the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai stuff , because that's what Tokusatsu Network and HJU cover. They wanted to break from the mold. The problem with that is that the fans like to talk about Kamen Rider and Super Sentai more than Ultraman and kaiju, so they don't know who their audience is. The fandom of Ultraman and Godzilla is very small, compared to Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. That leads me to the gripe that I have with tokusatsu right now: The "fandom" consists of consumers, and not enough creators. When I say this, I'm talking about the "fandom," and the fact that they like to talk tokusatsu, rather than try to create it. There's a number of reasons of why this is: "Fans" see it as intimidating, they think it cost too much, they don't have the know-how, or they don't have the time. There's tons of excuses, and sometimes they are good excuses, like it really does cost money. There are "some toku fans" out there who basically say, "Yeah, I could do that, I could do this." I don't know if you remember Carey Martell, but he's a guy who was so full of himself, and he wanted to make an American tokusatsu called Deathfist Ninja GKaiser. He made the effort, but nobody wanted to help him fund the movie. Bueno with Japanese comedian Kaori Takamura at YouTube Space Tokyo Me on the other hand, I just decided to go out there, and stop waiting. I got off my ass, and worked at my job to raise the money to make a tokusatsu. That's pretty much what it is, you gotta to raise the funds til you have the suit. The first step is getting the suit, but "certain toku fans" don't realize that, because they're thinking, "Oh, it cost too much money." That's why a lot of people don't have the resources to make tokusatsu, and that's probably why they only relegate themselves to reviewing or gossiping about tokusatsu, rather than making it. It's sad, because the fandom consists of that, and only that right now. To me, the people out there who're struggling to make their own tokusatsu are the super die-hard fans, because they're inspired by tokusatsu to make tokusatsu that they feel is the kind of tokusatsu that they want to watch. Then there are "certain toku fans" out there who just bicker about that and talk about like, "Oh, well I could make a better tokusatsu." I ask them "Then why don't you?" They go like, "Oh, well I don't have the money, or I don't have the time." It's excuses after excuses after excuses, and that's what really pisses me off about the "fandom." They'll talk about Kamen Rider and all that stuff, but when somebody makes more effort to make something different, it doesn't get recognized. That's why whenever I see somebody making an independent production, I'm like, "Okay, I'm gonna bookmark this video." It's gonna be the same thing every year: There's gonna be a new Rider, a new Sentai, a new Ultraman, and a new Garo. That's it, it's only those four. In the '80s and '90s, there was an explosion of tokusatsu where there were lots of different ones. With the way the economy is right now, there's not enough money being put into entertainment, so there's only a few brands. Japanator: A few years ago, you and most of Garage Hero's members reviewed the Super Hero Wars movies. That said, how bad do you think Super Hero Wars GP is going to be? Bueno: Yonemura's writing it, so I don't think it's going to be all that good. Again, this is one of the things that I was talking about right here. Rather than talking about original tokusatsu, here we are talking about Kamen Rider and Toei. This is what the "fandom" has gone down to-- they have to talk about how good or bad something is, rather than doing something about it. That's what's kind of bothering me about the whole thing with tokusatsu and "tokusatsu fandom." That's why I want to do something about it-- that's why I'm making original content and that's why I'm making the kind of toku that I want to make. Because Super Hero Taisen was shitty, that made me even more motivated to make my own tokusatsu, and that's the kind of mindset that people got to get into. Rather than bitching about something at home in front of a computer, they got to get out of the house; buy some tools, buy all the resources they need, and start making their own tokusatsu. They don't have to, but if there's a lot of people saying, "I could do a better job," they should really step up to the plate and prove it. This is for all the "fanboys:" Shirakura, who is originally the Producer of Agito and Ryuki, is the owner of Toei now. He runs the company, and officially does not give a shit about anything the fans think about Kamen Rider-- that's how jaded he is. That's why Super Hero Taisen was made. He had this brainchild of, "Oh, if I slap Kamen Rider and Super Sentai on it, then people are going to like it-- even if it's a shitty movie." So he hired Yonemura to write this really shitty script, and what happened? It was a shitty movie, but the fans ate it up. All of the interviews that they have went like, "Aw, it was great to see all of the heroes on screen," but they're not going to talk about how shitty the movie is, because that's how Japanese culture is. They do not talk straight like that; they want to be polite. I remember watching Super Hero Taisen Z with Fernando, Daryl, and all them in the movie theater. Then there was this kid right beside me, and I was like, "Hey, you like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai?" He was like, "Yeah." The mom's all like, "We actually got tickets from the Producer, Shirakura." I thought to myself, "Well, it's too bad they're not refundable." They watched the movie, and then the kid was bored out of his mind. He was twisting and turning in his seat, and the mom was like, "For God's sake, sit straight." Then he yawned like five times during some scenes, and I watched carefully. When the movie was over, guess what the kid said. Japanator: He hated the movie? Bueno: No, he said, "That was awesome!" Japanator: WHAT?! Bueno: See, this is what I'm talking about. It's fucking brainwashing, man. All these kids are being brainwashed into thinking, "because there's all these superheroes on screen, it's gonna be good," and it's not. Even though they subconsciously know, and their body tells them, "This movie is shit," they're brainwashed into saying, "That was awesome." This is why tokusatsu sucks right now. Shirakura only cares about two things: Selling toys, so he can get his Bandai check, and selling tickets, so he can get his Toei check. That's his way of thinking in a business. Japanator: So when did Shirakura become Toei's owner? Bueno: I don't know; I don't care. Bueno with Koichi Sakamoto at an Aka x Pink promotional event Okay, here's the two ways of thinking in tokusatsu business: You have Shirakura who's like, "If I put Kamen Rider on it, I could sell toys. If I put Sentai on it, I could sell toys and make money." Then you have the Sakamoto way of thinking where it's like, "I can shoot some cool action utilizing the toys in a way that'll get people to want to buy it, and that'll sell toys." Guess what? That works! With W, OOO, Fourze, and Wizard even, he uses the toys, and it sells. Plus, it has a cool action scene, so it sells the DVDs and tickets. I watched the Fourze movie three times, and it works. At the end of it all, Sakamoto is like a big kid, so he understands what the kids like. The Twelve Horoscopes fight scene from the Fourze movie is probably the best tokusatsu fight scene to date, because a.) it sells the toy, b.) it's a cool fight scene, and c.) each time he uses the toy, it has meaning. I highly recommended movie for anybody who wants to know how to shoot a good tokusatsu fight scene or movie. There's that certain group of tokusatsu fans who're like, "It's all about the toys; I don't like it! It should be about the suits and the story." Little do they know, if you don't have the toys, how are you supposed to make tokusatsu? They'll be like, "Well, there's Godzilla." Godzilla's fandom is fairly big because of the fact it was the first one. But if you want something like Kamen Rider, how are you going to make a decent fight scene without any toys? Basically, if people want Kamen Rider to not be based on the toys, that means that you gotta take away the henshin belt and the suit. If you take away the belt, you have no suit and no Rider, so all of these fans are contradicting themselves. When you take a look at the action in Gun Caliber, what do you see? Japanator: I see that he has a henshin device that's a phone, a pair of guns, and a suit. Bueno: What's the main thing about the guns? Japanator: They can switch through different types of bullets. Bueno: Exactly! Why do you think that they have all of these accessories with Kamen Rider belts? Japanator: Merchandising. Bueno: It's not only merchandising, but it also helps with the action. When you have Gaia Memories that are able to have different attributes to both sides of Double, that switches the action. In the fight scene in the Fourze movie when he uses all 40 Switches, he uses them to counterattack each of the Horoscopes. Now you take a look at the Wizard movie, he failed to do all this. Sakamoto wasn't part of it, it was Ishigaki, he's an Action Director at Toei-- he's been doing stuff ever since Exceedraft. Visually, he's a good Action Director, but as far as concepts go, he's not a good Action Choreographer. He tried to do the Sakamoto thing with the Wizard movie, but it didn't work out. Most likely because you need time to choreograph something like that, and it was something he probably didn't have. To be able to choreograph a good fight scene, it's not just filming the suits and action anymore, it's being able to utilize the props and the character itself. That's the key to making a good tokusatsu fight scene. Japanator: Do you think that your work could inspire others to create their own toku projects? Bueno: Yeah, I hope so. I'm not saying that Gun Caliber is some sort of game changer, but Gun Caliber is the first independently funded tokusatsu film to be shot entirely in Tokyo, Japan; starring, directed, and produced by foreigner. If there's any other movies that could say "they've done that," go ahead. Show me who's done that, and I'll shut up. As far as I know, nobody's done that here. Nobody's had the balls to do it, and I have the balls! Japanator: Aside from tokusatsu and over-the-top productions like Gun Caliber, Hayate, and Yakuzambie, what other types of mediums does Garage Hero plan to tackle in the future? Bueno: We wanna do more stuff like tutorials, because the tokusatsu community right now consists of a lot of people talking about tokusatsu, and not making tokusatsu, You have a lot of people who write fanfics, short stories, or they'll create their own manga. The fact of the matter is that they really really want to make a tokusatsu, like a henshin hero and stuff like that. When they're faced with the dilemma of "Oh, I don't know how," "It cost too much money," or "There's no tutorial," that's where we hope to come in. We're going to make a tutorial series that's going to give people the basic know-how to make to make tokusatsu-- just like how we did. We didn't know what the hell we were doing, but we went on and did it. Then it worked, people like it. It took a long time, and a lot of resources and self study to be able shoot that thing. It took two years to shoot it, but the fact of the matter is that it all boils down to having the guts to do it. For a lot of people, they seem to lack the courage to shoot something like this-- even if it's just a short, because they have to worry about scheduling, paying for people's transportation, and food. That's the kind of things that people don't see behind the scenes-- you gotta do all that stuff. I think when people learn, "Okay, you need to do this and this, but you can add a little bit of you own flavor to it," that's when it becomes a little more interactive, and people want to give it a try. They won't be so intimidated. Right now, if you take a look at YouTube videos of learning how to sculpt a clay head or helmet, it's really intimidating, because the guy's really good. With our video series, we hope to be able to explain techniques, and how to make tokusatsu in the span of a five-minute video that gets straight to the point of what tools you need, what you should do, what to do afterwards, and some shorts to go with that. For example, I have a two/one-minute Gun Caliber action short, and then we focus on his mask or helmet, and then we'll have a tutorial video explaining"Okay, this is how the helmet is made."  I'm planning to produce another series with a person named Max Ellis, so we're hoping to produce more stuff this year for Garage Hero, and more web series. Since everybody automatically thinks that if you say "Bueno," it equals action, I'm planning this series that's in the style of a fighting game. It's gonna be a one-minute, or two-minute fight scene maybe at the most-- even just 30 seconds of two people duking it out fighting game style. It'll just be a bunch of zany stereotypical fighting game characters, and they'll have finishers. It'll be a fun series that'll help us get those creative juices flowing-- aside from just shooting tokusatsu. It'll be a little different, but still in familiar grounds.  Japanator: Speaking of tokusatsu tutorials, do you plan to cover any other aspects outside of making costumes and props? Bueno: Of course. With tokusatsu, there's a lot of areas to cover. For example, cinematography (like how to shoot a tokusatsu fight scene), there's certain techniques that they used from all the way back in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. During those times, they had a bunch of shooting techniques to make people look like they are jumping higher than they are, to make people look like they're kicking high in the air when they're really just a few feet off the ground, and to make monsters look bigger. They didn't have CG, but they made them look huge, and the people look small. It's a matter of being able to how to use your camera, your lens, and how to edit-- also cinematography. We're gonna cover a lot of those aspects as well.  A lot of people are just all like, "Oh. Are you going to teach fight choreography?" Everybody's going to choreograph differently, but we could teach the basics. I'm not making their heroes, so only they're going to know how to choreograph the action for their hero. More than choreography, we're going to focus on the cinematography, and how to Action Direct, and not how to Action Choreograph. We plan to teach CG as well, and the different types of tokusatsu shoots. You have the kaiju shoot, the hero action, and all that stuff, so we'll definitely cover all that.  Bueno with Freddy Wong at YouTube Space Tokyo Japanator: Could you tell us about your process in how you improved in creating tokusatsu hero and monster suits? Bueno: Well, you got to remember Gun Caliber was my first attempt, and I'm still in the learning process. I'm still learning stuff from people, and trying stuff out while buying new materials-- and see what works for decent prices. It's all a lot trial and error. In terms of getting better, you just gotta do it. With tokusatsu, you just have to jump into it-- that's the best way. Do a little bit of research, but jump into things. If you mess up, don't worry about it, because that's what helps you improve. If you mess up something, or find a different way of doing things afterwards, learn from that. Don't just be a downer on yourself, you gotta be able to learn from your mistakes. You got to fail, in order to be able to get better. You got to jump into things expecting to fail, but then figure out, "If I fail, how can I get out of that?" That's one of the key things that making tokusatsu is all about, and that's one of the things that I did. Japanator: So what can you tell us about Garage Hero's future? Bueno: Garage Hero's still an infant, and we only have 1,470 something subscribers. We need to shoot that up to at least 5,000 to get the views in, and more support from YouTube. In order to do that, we need to make more content that's gonna get people to come back, and want to subscribe.  We got a lot of content planned for this year, and we hope to update our channel a bit more frequently with this next G-Rated series coming up, Hayate, and that's gonna be a local hero for Asakusa. It's probably going to be like six episodes, and I think each episode'll be to be two to ten minutes long, or somewhere around that range-- it depends on how much action we have in each episode. I'm currently producing a tokusatsu tutorial series, and it's going to give people the basic fundamentals that they need to learn how to create, shoot, and produce tokusatsu-- all within the span of five minutes each. The least I'll have is five minutes to certain each step, we'll probably have longer episodes, depending on certain topics. It'll cover everything from creating the suit, certain camera angles that you should use for shooting tokusatsu, the kind of camera lenses you should use, how to pitch your idea, choreographing a fight scene, and all that stuff. Then we plan to shoot a Web series of action shorts that are done in the style of a fighting game, so I definitely need more suggestions on what to shoot for those. From left to right: Akiba Idol Mao Makabe, Bueno, and AV Idol Fuzuki If somebody likes certain videos, subscribes to our channel, and shares our content, that means that the more Garage Hero goes viral, the more content we're able to make, because YouTube pushes our stuff out there as recommended features. Sharing our videos, liking our videos, and pushing our channel out there is key to helping us make more original tokusatsu. Support from the fandom is very important to us, and we're also open to stuff that the fans want to see. When I say, "be sure to comment, share, and like our videos," I'm not saying it each time for the sake of saying it, because that's what helps us make more content. When people say, "We want to see more Gun Caliber, I will respond to that. If people want to say, "We want to see more of what Hayate can do," of course, I'm going to read that. I read the comments, and take the time. About the YouTube thing, anybody that can interact with our channel more, and can share our channel and content will help make it viral. That helps us, because it'll let us make more original tokusatsu for you guys to enjoy. Bueno with Kenneth Duria (Kamen Rider 555's Mr. J/Crocodile Orphnoch) Japanator: Once you hit 5,000 subscribers, do you plan to utilize any funding sites like Indiegogo? Bueno: Yeah, we hope to get enough people to fund us through Indiegogo to help fund the release of Gun Caliber on DVD, plus help future projects as well. I have a couple projects that I want to pitch out there, and hopefully, people'll catch wind of them and support our work. Japanator: When you release Gun Caliber on DVD, will it be available worldwide? Bueno: Definitely, I want to show this to the whole world. Garage Hero wants to be able to pride itself as the premier independent tokusatsu resource in Tokyo run by foreigners. Anybody who comes here can come to us for any questions they might have about making tokusatsu or anything like that, and we could fill them in. We want to be able to make that claim. Japanator: Do you have any plans to release Gun Caliber-related merchandise (such as a figure or his guns)? Bueno: Probably nothing on that level, but at least something like t-shirts, travel mugs, and basically stuff that you find on Redbubble. I'm designing some stuff for Redbubble right now, so hopefully some people'll buy that merchandise. Do you remember Vector, the company in Gun Caliber? Japanator: Yes. Bueno: Basically, it's going to be like Vector merchandise, because they're kinda like Smart Brain, Yggdrasill, and Zect. I'm gonna have a lot of merchandise that'll be like character merch, roleplay kind of merch that you could buy, and kind of roleplay in the world of Gun Caliber without having the toys; although I know a lot of people who want the toys. Japanator: What about Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero? Bueno: We'll need to establish a bit of a fandom first on that. Since that's for kids, we'll most likely have to make more merchandise that's for kids. If I could get funded by Bandai, then by all means, I'll have them make some SofuBi. You know SofuBi? Japanator: What's SofuBi? Bueno: SofuBi is like those plastic figurines. Look up SofuBi on YouTube, and you'll see the figurines that people make. Bandai makes SofuBi figures, short term for soft vinyl figures, and those are famous among the kaiju figures, the collectibles Ultraman figures, and stuff like that. For example, the Ultraman Ginga Spark Dolls are all SofuBi. If somebody was willing to make a Gun Caliber SofuBi figure, I would totally be all for that. It's mostly going to be stuff like stickers for now, like a Hayate stickers, iPhone cases, and pillows. Again, this stuff you could buy off of Redbubble, so that's probably going to be the stuff that Hayate'll come of it. Japanator: Can you give us an estimate date on when Hayate's first episode'll be released? Bueno: It'll probably be released somewhere around either the end of March, the beginning of April, or maybe mid April. Again, that's just an estimate, but hopefully we can get it to you at that time, so be sure to like, subscribe, share our channel, and stay tune for Hayate. People can see a teaser on our channel right now. Bueno at The ABCs of Tetsudon screening party Japanator: Do you have any final words that you'd like to say to the readers? Bueno: Making tokusatsu can be very intimidating, because it requires time, money, effort, and resources, but you don't know that until you try it. The best way to do it is to do your research, and get into it. I feel that a lot of people are always intimidated by it. They'll be like, "Wow, tokusatsu looks expensive; I don't know if I could do that." Don't get me wrong, I've seen a lot of indie tokusatsu productions that have that problem where it's shot well, but it looks like crap. The suit will look good, but the show will suck, or the show will look good, but the suit will suck. It's either one of those two. You gotta be able to balance it out by having a good suit with good action, a good story to keep it interesting, and you got to know who your audience is-- that's very important. We have a lot of content coming out this year, and we're gonna have a tokusatsu tutorial series later on in the year. We're shooting Hayate, a local hero for Asakusa. We're going to be having a fighting game style kind of Web series, so be sure to rate, link, subscribe, and share all of our videos and channel with all of your friends. Our goal is to get our subs up to 5,000 this year, so we hope to achieve that, and hopefully, everyone can help us with that.
Bueno Part 3 photo
Bueno reveals the tokusatsu industry's dark secrets
After a long and perilous journey, we've reached the end of our long interview with Bueno. To close things off, the man shares with us his plans for the future, along with his own thoughts on the tokusatsu industry and a cert...

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Cannon Busters

Cannon Busters' Website now has a Pledge option


LeSean Thomas and his crew are loading up the cannon once again
Feb 13
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a good while since Cannon Busters met its goal, and LeSean Thomas and his team are have updated the show's Website with a new option. If you missed out on backing the project during its Kickstarter phase, Cannon Bus...
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Love Live!

Love Live! School Idol Movie teaser trailer is a tease


Love Live! ...from New York?
Feb 06
// Red Veron
If you haven't been paying attention lately, Love Live! School Idol Project is another one of those multimedia franchises combining high school girls, idols, music, anime, and live action voice actress promotions into one bra...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Ninjas, Zombies, and Hardships

Feb 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: When Gun Caliber made his debut on YouTube, he appeared in a documentary called Stray Bullet: A True Superhero Story. That said, was Gun Caliber originally going to be documentary-like film, or was Stray Bullet meant to promote the true film that you would eventually make? Bueno: Gun Caliber was originally the movie that I wanted to make. The only reason why Stray Bullet came out first was because at that time, there weren't any stuntmen that would be able to help out with any of the action. I never done a movie before, so tackling Gun Caliber head-on would probably result in a crappy film. I was glad that I did Stray Bullet first, because of the fact that it got me a little bit more familiar with the equipment, and how to edit. Since it was a documentary, there's leeway for being able to shoot the way I did. Stray Bullet was very experimental-- not that Gun Caliber wasn't, since it was experimental as well. Stray Bullet was supposed to be Gun Caliber, but we didn't have enough resources at the time, I decided to make it a documentary. Japanator: Seeing that Gun Caliber had a few tokusatsu references (such as Dr. Death being a reference to Professor Shinigami from Kamen Rider), what other mediums inspired you to create the movie? Bueno: There's a lot of bases that inspired me to make this movie. Two of the major bases are obviously Kamen Rider and this one comedian called Ken Shimura. I don't know if you're familiar with him. Japanator: First time I've heard of him. Bueno: Ken Shimura is probably Japan's King of Comedy. He's basically like Japan's Benny Hill. Back in the 80s, he was Japan's most popular comedian. A lot of foreigners won't know really much about him-- especially those who don't live in Japan. Hell, sometimes the people who live in Japan'll know his face but won't know his name. He's one of the really really big inspirations for Gun Caliber, because his comedy is a lot of stupid sex jokes, kiddie humor, all of that stuff. If you look him up on YouTube, you'll find a lot of his clips. if you take a look at some of his work, you'll see the inspiration that went into Gun Caliber there. Mystery Men inspired Gun Caliber's world, and also this comic called The Boys-- everybody should read it, it's a great comic. The Boys is about a group of people who regulate superhero activity. Also, Watchmen is another thing that inspired Gun Caliber as well. There's so many things. Also, there's this show that I watched a while back called No Heroics, it's a British comedy about superheroes who hang out in a superhero bar. That was another show that inspired Gun Caliber. Japanator: I find it very impressive that you're both Gun Caliber's Director and main character, Bueno. So what were some of the challenges that you encountered during the making of the film? Bueno: The challenges was the scheduling-- everyone underestimates that fact when they say they want to shoot a movie or anything like that. Even if you weren't on a budget but still had money, you probably shoot earlier so that you can get a lot done quicker in a day. And that's what I did, I would say, "Okay, we're starting at seven." Everybody would say, "Oh my god, why are you going to start at seven?" Because we're shooting action-- action takes a lot longer than shooting drama. Scheduling was one of the really tough parts about it. For every person who couldn't make it to set, I would have to try and call five other people to replace that one person. If person number two can't come, then I got to call person number three. If person number three can't come, then I got to call person number four, and so on and so on. Sometimes I would have to make 80 calls in one day just to replace three people. It works, because it's part of that drive. People who usually hear, "I can't make it," they'll automatically give up. They'll be like: "Oh this person shoot today, because this person can't come." You got to be persistent, you got to stick with your guns on stuff-- you can't give in so easily. That's what I did, I would just keep calling and calling. If somebody couldn't make it to a shoot, I would call and then replace them. Scheduling is really really important, and you got to have a backup plan each time too. If you can't go to a certain location, if you don't have somebody who can't make it to set, you got to have a contingency plan each time. One time there was a point where someone couldn't make it to set, and I had to call ten people the day before-- just to find one actress to replace her. You got to be able to go with the flow sometimes, and be able to know what to do-- always have a back up. That's one of the big hurdles you have to get over when you're shooting something like this. Japanator: Back in October 2011, Gun Caliber made a cameo appearance in an indie tokusatsu series called Battle Hero Absolute. So how did you meet the show's team? Bueno: I met up with Fernando, and then he said that "Jay's coming to Japan."  I was like, "Yeah, I'll meet him." Then I met him, and he didn't understand the whole deal with waking up at 5:00 a.m. to take the first train to location, and shoot until sundown. It was basically having to put up with a lot of whining, but we shot it, and finished it. I guess I can't complain. Japanator: When you were shooting Yakuzambie, what was it like to work with the YouTube Space's Guillermo del Toro-like set? Bueno: It's very small and was a pain in the ass. The level of Japanese YouTubers is very very low. If you take a look at Japanese YouTubers' channels, all you'll notice is that it's people eating food or playing cellphone games. A lot of the people who run the Space work used to work in the film industry, so they're relegated to shoot that kind of stuff. When I walked in, and they saw Gun Caliber, they were like, "Oh my god! This is one of the best things ever!" They asked me, "Can you shoot something like that at the Space?" I said, "I can't shoot nude girls or anything like that, but I could shoot action." They were like, "Yeah! Yeah! Shoot Action!"  They had this set, and they told me, "Please use the set, Bueno, because all people are gonna do with the set is eat stuff and play games." That's exactly what they did with the set and so we're all like, "Okay. We gotta put this thing to use!" I came up with this idea about a cursed house, and people who died there get brought back to life-- Yakuzambie! It's a Yakuza boss' house inherited to his only daughter. She's a sex maniac who wants to make Sakuma, Kimura's character, into her sex slave. Then zombies appear! Okay there. That's the story! The set was really really small, because it was a small space. I wish it was more customizable, but it had a good aesthetic. It was a cool-looking set. Japanator: Do you ever plan to go back to Yakuzambie's story? Bueno: Perhaps. There's actually somebody who's shown interest in making a feature film of Yakuzambie, but I don't know if I could make a 70 minute film of that. I could try, but only time will tell. Japanator: During The Making of Yakuzambie, you mentioned that Gun Caliber was improvised. So what techniques did you use to prevent the production from falling apart? Bueno: You just got to keep it fun, you know. With these movies, because of the fact that they aren't epic movies at all, you just got to have fun with it. In the end, you're just making a fun movie. If you don't have fun, then the people watching it don't have fun either. That's probably why Gaion Sigma flopped. Japanator: Can you tell us about your experience with Gaion Sigma? Bueno: Basically, somebody who saw Gun Caliber and some of my other shorts on YouTube got in contact with me. That's when the boss of  Zen Pictures Yatsurugi Company invited me to be the Director for Gaion Sigma, and I was like, "holy shit." I think that Gaion is an awesome-looking suit, but I thought that it was a waste that it was shot really really crappy with the spin-off that it had before. I want do something about it is, so I jumped at the chance. How many chances will a foreigner get to be a Director of a tokusatsu movie? Honestly, can you name any? Japanator: Nope. Bueno: Yup. That's why I jumped at the chance. When the film started, there's a lot of Directors in the company that gave me the aura of "I've been working in this company for ten years, and all of a sudden, some gaijin kid who could barely talk Japanese or can't even read the script took my job?! Fuck that!" These guys were in the production solely for the sake of messing up my shoot. They basically sabotaged the movie and got me fired three times. They got me fired, and then afterwards, I showed them the edited footage, and they were like, "We need Bueno back. The action is going to be terrible if he isn't here." Then they brought me back on, and I shot the best scene in the movie. The scene that I really really wanted to do was the Kaijin Matsuri. If anyone watches the movie, they'll all be like, "Oh my god. That is the only good scene in the movie." The reason why is because nobody stood in my way that day. On that day, I told everybody to shut up and let me shoot the way that I wanted to shoot. It worked. Afterwards, we ran out of time because there's a lot of people who would waste time on the shoot. We had to extend it to one day, but the boss had a stipulation: "We're not going to shoot it in Asakusa, we're going to shoot in Chiba." And that's why the ending makes no sense, because the boss shot it that way. He's the Producer, so what ever he says is absolute. If he says,"We got to shoot in Chiba," all of the sudden, even though we shot the movie all in Asakusa (which is two hours away from Chiba), we got to shoot it in Chiba, because he said so. I must say that he's not really the brightest of people, but he's the guy who calls the shots. There's nothing you can do about that. Japanator: Speaking of Yatsurugi Company, what's the true story behind Raidenmaru's creation? Bueno: A long long time ago, I wanted to make an Asakusa superhero, because a lot of the people who watched Gun Caliber really really liked it (there's even some kids who like it), but the parents would be like, "It's a very funny movie, but could you make something for the kids?" And I'm like, "I'll give it a shot, but I don't know if I could do it." I decided to make a superhero for the kids, and I met up with a guy in Asakusa-- let's call him Mr. Y, because his name starts with a "Y."  Anyway, Mr. Y wanted to make a superhero as well, so we were going to make a superhero called Raijin, which is based on the God of Thunder who stands in the gate of Kaminarimon in Asakusa. He basically took my idea and made it his, but I didn't care, because my idea was different. I heard a lot of rumors about this guy, and I felt that I couldn't trust him. I decided to let him be, and do my own thing instead. He really wasn't happy about this at all. He was so pissed that he went to the Yatsurugi Company behind my back, and pitched the idea of Raijin to the company. This was a bad idea, because the boss of Yatsurugi Company is all about ripping off ideas. Basically, Mr. Y pitched to the company, "So I got this idea, since it's my idea, could I have all the rights to this?" Then the boss of Yatsurugi Company is all like, "Wait, so you want us to make, shoot, and produce this, but you get to keep the rights?" Mr. Y is like, "Yeah, cuz it's my idea!" Then the Yatsurugi Company's like, "Are you a fucking ass? We're just going to make this ourselves." Mr. Y was like, "Okay. Okay, I understand." Then Mr. Y goes home, and then I get called up to the boss' office. Then they said, "Yeah, we don't need that Mr. Y. Fuck Mr. Y! Bueno, would you like to work on this Asakusa hero?" Then I said, "but I wanted to work on an Asakusa hero a long time ago." The boss said, "In that case, you're fired. We can't have two people making the same Asakusa hero in the same company." I said, "It's a little abrupt though. You didn't even give me some time to think about it." The boss said, "Then take some time to think about it." Then he sent me on my way, and I get a call from my Director and says, "Yeah, Bueno, sorry but you're fired." I said, "But they told me to think about it though! The Director said, Yeah, but you're fired." And that's what happen. Next thing you know, two months later, Raidenmaru comes out.  Japanator: Did your concepts from Raijin carry over to Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero?  Bueno: Not really, because I released my first teaser of Hayate before Raidenmaru had its first stage show. Japanator: If Hayate does well with the kids, would you do another season down the road? Bueno: Most definitely. I wanna kind of be like James Gunn. He did Tromeo and Juliet, which is an adult b-flick. Then he did something for the kids like Guardians of the Galaxy. I want to be able to do both, so I could have a good range of stuff. Robert Rodriguez is the same; he made Desperado, one of the coolest action films of all time. He did Machete, Planet Terror, and Sin City; but he also did Spy Kids and Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Again, to be a good Director, you got to have range, and I want to be able to have that. So if people want more Hayate, I'm going to give it to them. Bueno with Saki Otsuka Japanator: Did you work as an Action Director in the AV industry before you formed Garage Hero? Bueno: No. This was actually while I was editing Gun Caliber. A lot of my work in the AV industry actually helped me push things along with Gun Caliber as well. Being an adult erotic tokusatsu action comedy, you kind of need those connections. It's kind of cool that you can push it out to a big adult crowd-- even to a few junior high school students that caught wind of the movie. I guess Gun Caliber's crowd is mostly aimed at junior high school students than adults-- but adults get a kick out of it too. Being able to shoot action and make an AV idol look like an action star is definitely a plus. It gives the actresses a lot more confidence, and the managers are happy too, because it adds an extra skill onto their girl's resume. Working in the AV industry as an Action Director is definitely a good thing. I get to be surrounded by lots of beautiful women too, so that's also a plus. I met some really really nice girls like Amami Tsubasa, Saki Otsuka, and Mai Miori-- oh my god, she's super awesome. Japanator: Earlier in the interview, you mentioned that Japan's economy is still in the pits. That being said, did Japan's current economical state influence Gun Caliber's premise?  Bueno: Yes. Gun Caliber is like my views on Japanese society in the guise of tokusatsu. All the stuff from the drugs, prostitution, and the scandals were all things that I've seen over here-- and in Canada as well. It's stuff that I know, and I mixed it with tokusatsu. And that's how Gun Caliber turned out. Japanator: So does that mean that you're actually like Soma Kusanagi in real life? Bueno: No. I'm not like Soma Kusanagi in real life. A lot of people think that Bueno equals Soma Kusanagi, and that's not the case. Contrary to popular belief, even though people have seen me with lots of women, even though people have seen me do lots of comedy, and have seen way I speak, I'm not Soma Kusanagi. I think it's going to be the same thing as Bruce Campbell being told that he's Ash all the time. He hates it when people call him Ash! I think that people are going to walk up to me and say, "Hey Gun Caliber," from now on, and it's going to stick. I'm not Soma Kusanagi, I'm not Gun Caliber, I'm Bueno, If anything, Soma Kusanagi is based off of my brother. My brother Anthony is one of the people who the movie is dedicated to in the beginning-- the other is my aunt. My brother was the kind of guy who worked at a porno video rental store, and after work, he would do rock concerts, or work at a bar where they had rock concerts-- it was a very dingy dirty bar. He would have to deal with customers, he would get into fights, and all that stuff. He would come home with cuts and bruises on his hand or face. And I would be like "What the fuck happened to you?" He was like, "Ugh, a day at work." So that's who Soma Kusanagi is. He's basically the working man. He's the guy who would come home all beaten up, but it would just be another day on the job-- much like Hellboy. That's who Kusanagi is based off of. More like he's based off of my brother, Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down, and Ricky from Trailer Park Boys. But yeah, me and Soma are two different people.  Tetsudon and Garage Hero's members at a private screeing of Gun Caliber in Asakusa-Bashi Well, folks; we've reached the end of this post, which means that it's time for a quick heads-up on what's to come. For the third and final part of this segment, Bueno'll talk about Garage Hero's future plans, along with his views on the tokusatsu industry. Things are going to get even more real, as Bueno's story hits us with the cold hard truth about the medium's current state. Who knows, you might come across some motivating words as well.
Bueno Part 2 photo
Bueno's story is about to get real
Welcome to the second part of our interview with the one and only Bueno. In this installment, the man talks about his experience with creating tokusatsu and shooting porn. On top of that, we get to learn the dark secrets behi...

We Chat With Gun Caliber's Bueno: Wushu, Porn Stars, and making it in Japan

Jan 27 // Salvador GRodiles
Japanator: Greetings, Bueno. Thank you for taking the time to let us interview you. So to start things off: When you first decided to get into making films, what made you move to Japan? Bueno: I wanted to go to Japan because I've liked Japan ever since I was a little kid. And I think that a lot of people talk about Japan being being harsh, and I remember when I first came here, all I had was $700.00. It was harsh, and the economy in Japan is still in the pits, but I knew that I still wanted to be here. In Canada at that time, I wasn't really having a good relationship with my family, so I decided to go all the way to Japan. I wanted a change of scenery. I just wanted a little bit of a change in my life, and I decided that moving to Japan was a big step. I needed to try to do things on my own for a change. It was a really really big step. It was a big decision to do that-- to move from one country to another. I'm thankful for all of the friends like the Wushu team I used to be on-- they were so supportive of me. Japanator: Since you studied Wushu, did your experience with it help you with your stunt work? Bueno: At first I thought it would, but they're worlds apart. There's a visceral difference between Wushu and action. It helps a little. It gives you the basic idea, but doing action and Wushu are two totally different things. Japanator: What's the difference between learning a fighting style and learning to do action scenes? Bueno: In a sense, they are both the same. But at the same time, they're different. When you learn a fighting style, you learn your basic punches, kicks, and stuff like that, and transcends into action. The thing is though, there is no camera when you're actually fighting, and there is a certain way to sell the action when you're shooting a fighting scene. It also depends on what kind of lenses you use, and what angles you shoot it from. That will determine if the punch looks like it's connecting or not, and sometimes you have to do it again. Japanator: How did you end up forming Garage Hero? Bueno: To be honest, it's basically me gathering a bunch of people I know and say, "Hey, let's shoot this!" At first, they were really skeptical, because I never shot a feature before. And when I told them it was a feature, they would always ask the same thing: "When are you going to finish this?" And I said: "Honestly, I don't know." Each time I edited something, I show them the results afterwards and they're all like, "Oh my god. This is really really good!" And they've been followed me ever since. Japanator: When you were first working on Yakuzambie, how did you meet Keisaku Kimura and Aimi Sekiguchi? Bueno: I met Aimi through the YouTube Space, because I use the YouTube Space from time to time. They have these get-together at the end of each month called YouTube Happy Hour. And I met her at YouTube Happy Hour one time and asked her, "Would you like to do some action some time?" She was like, "Yeah, I'll give it a try." She turned out to be really good at it. I trained her for three hours before shooting Yakuzambie and she did an awesome job. I was really impressed. She needs more training obviously, but she has her character down, and she could do the action. All she does before was gravure and idol stuff on her YouTube channel. Everyone who would just shoot her as cute, but she ends up being in my movie and turns into an action star. And that's why I would like to work with her again. For Kimura, he basically messaged me on Facebook one time, because I'm part of this group called Tetsudon, and he's also a member of Tetsudon. He saw Gun Caliber and thought, "Oh my god! This movie is amazing!" Then we had lunch and we talked over about things we could do, and I mentioned Yakuzambie to him, and he was super interested in it. He's a seasoned actor. Aimi did a bit stage acting but he's seasoned , so he was able to teach her certain stuff and techniques. They kind of learned from each other. That's why there's a good chemistry between those two on set and off set. They're a good team, and I'm really happy to be working with the both of them. Bueno with Uta Kohaku Japanator: Seeing that Gun Caliber featured a few AV idols, what lead to you making connections with them? Bueno: I met the girls in Gun Caliber through Takao Nakano, who's the owner of Daikaiju Salon. He's also the Writer of Ultraman Ginga S, and he's the pachinko guy (the fat guy with glasses) at the beginning of my movie. He introduced me to Miho and Naomi. I met Uta Kohaku, who sings the theme song "Shining" for Gun Caliber, though an AV company that I worked for one time-- I was an Action Director for that AV company. There's this one group called Milky Pop Generation, a music label that hire AV idols to sing. They have singles, music videos, and all that stuff. That's when I heard "Shining" off of Uta Kohaku's single. I was like, "Okay, I got to use this song!" I contacted her manager, and her manager told me to contact Milky Pop. I talked to Milky Pop and I bought the song. We did a hero show at one of the Milky Pop events with Gun Caliber and she sang "Shining" while Gun Caliber dances. It was a fun show, and I made a lot of connections through that. I made connections with the managers from other agencies like At Hunnies, Hustler, Aloha Pro, and Dino. Those are the agencies that I talk with the manages to see if I could use their girls in future productions. And that's how I got my connection with the AV industry. It's basically meeting a lot of managers, productions and showing them what I shoot. It works out nicely, and a lot of people love my work, and that's how I got a job in shooting the AV industry. Japanator: Back in October 2012, you announced that Koichi Terasawa/Rider Chips' Bassist was composing Gun Caliber's soundtrack. That being said, what's the story behind you meeting him? Bueno: A long time ago when I first came to Japan, I saw him at Double Hero Festival in Tokyo Dome with a Goranger shirt on. I went, "Excuse me, are you a part of Rider Chips?" He's all like, "Yeah man. How'd you know that?" I was like, "I saw your DVDs!" Terasawa said, "Aw man, that's crazy. What are you doing here?" I then said, "I'm checking out the event." Tersawa asked, "Are you Japanese?" I replied, "Naw, I'm Canadian!" We talked and talked from that time on. A few years later, I found him on Facebook, and I'm like, "Okay. I made this movie, do you think you could take a look at what I made so far?" Terasawa said, "Okay. Let's meet up!" So I showed him the movie, and he's all like, "Bueno! I can't believe you did this. This is nuts! This is crazy! How'd you do this?!" I told him, "It's a long long story." I was all like, "Do you think you could make some music for this movie?" Terasawa answered, "It's not gonna to be cheap. I could do it for free, but the other members are not going to do it for free." I then asked, "How much is it going to cost?" Terasawa said, "One song would cost $1,000.00." I was like, Maybe I could raise some money." Terasawa followed up with, "Dude, I'll help you any way I can." He's going to do the music for the movie, but it'll probably only be one song. I'll probably find somebody else to compose along side him. But still, having Rider Chips make music for your movie is just amazing. Whether it's one song or five, it's Rider Chips! Since Rider Chips is a property of Avex, they won't be able to say, "Yeah, we're Rider Chips, and we're working on Gun Caliber!" Terasawa is actually one of the head teachers of this music school, so they'll be doing the song for Gun Caliber as part of the music school-- but it's essentially Rider Chips. Satoshi Imai (Sazer-X and Hayate's Writer) and Hayate's main hero Japanator: Back in December, you mentioned that  Satoshi Imai was writing Hayate: Asakusa's Ninja Hero, so how did you recruit him? Bueno: I met him through Tetsudon. We talked for a bit, and I told him that I wanted to do something for the kids. Since he wrote Sazer-X, I figured that he'd be the perfect person for the job. Japanator: What were some of your favorite moments that you experienced in Japan? Bueno: Some of my favorites moments from when I was living in Japan was definitely my arrival here. It's an entirely new world, and everybody goes through that. Meeting so many influential people in so many industries-- like I met Shimomura Yuji, he's the Action Director for Versus. Meeting all of the action people was fun, and I learned a lot from there. Becoming a Worm and a Kamen Rider on stage was pretty cool-- I got to be Kick Hopper for a hero show for Kabuto. My first hero show was actually Lion-Maru G. I did a night show, and that was pretty fun-- I was one of the Shadow Ninjas. That was a fun time. Also, meeting Koichi Sakamoto was pretty cool as well, I learned a lot from him. He taught me that it's not just about shooting action or anything like that either, it's about the industry itself and how to do it as a business. Gun Caliber gets the Koichi Sakamoto Seal of Approval! Japanator: Is Sakamoto one of the key influences that got you to make tokusatsu and form Garage Hero? Bueno: Well, I formed Garage Hero before I met Sakamoto. I'll say that I will treasure his advice that he's given me about the industry forever. He taught me things about the-behind the-scenes and on-set, since I talked with him both on set and off set-- he's this plethora of knowledge that has experience in Japan and abroad. He's taught me a lot, and I'm definitely looking forward to learning more from him. Hideki Oka is also another person that's influenced me over here-- he's the Director of Ultraman Saga, Ultra Zero Fight, Bima Satria Garuda. He also did Rescue Force, Rescue Fire, and Ryukendo. There was one time when I was working on Gaion Sigma, and he called me up and said, "how's directing Gaion Sigma," and I was crying. Then he was like, "Why don't you be a man?! Come over here! What are you doing after work? Come out here! Come to Shinjuku and bring your script!" I couldn't read kanji so he helped me translate the kanji in the script to furigana, and told me, "Bueno, you got to realize what's going to happen, you got to be a director and grow a pair, or else no one will follow you." Then I was crying man tears and he was hugging me and I went, "Thank you so much!" And Oka was like, "No worries. Don't worry about it, we're all in this together." God, this guy is so awesome! Hideki Oka is definitely one of the people who's been such a good mentor to me. When he saw Gun Caliber-- he came to a screening and everyone asked him: "What did you think of the movie?" He looked at me and said, "You know, I worked on Ryukendo, Ultraman, and Rescue Force, but what you've done, I don't think I could ever do in my life." The Director of Ultraman told me this crazy compliment, and those words gave me so much strength. I'm thankful to Hideki Oka. Him and Sakamoto also hang out sometimes too. From left to right: AV idol Fuzuki, Bueno, and Hideki Oka Japanator: Speaking of which, how did you establish your connections with the people in the tokusatsu industry? Bueno: Introductions through introductions, and because of Gun Caliber. That's one of the reasons why I'm glad that I did Gun Caliber, since I met so many people because of it. Through Gun Caliber, this one actress introduced me to her boyfriend, who introduced me to Tetsudon, which is this group of film makers. Not only is Oka in there, but Takuchi Kyotaka, the Director of Patlabor: The Next Generation-- I think he did a few episodes of Neo Ultra Q, is in Tetsudon. My camera man got invited into the set of Kyoryuger as an extra, and he introduced me to Sakamoto. Again, it all comes back to Gun Caliber. All of the introductions that I've had until now is because I made the first indie tokusatsu shot by a foreigner. Whenever somebody hears that, they go: "Oh my god, that's you!" Japanator: So what is it like to be the first foreigner to make an indie tokusatsu film in Japan? Bueno: Better than sex. I mean, it's just as good as sex with a hot girl.  And that's it for the first part of our interview with Bueno. The next feature'll focus on his projects, and the mediums that inspired him. Let's just say that Bueno will talk about his tough times (such his involvement with Gaion Sigma). Last but not least, I promise that you'll get more bullets, babes, and beer-- subtitle credit goes to Bueno. Until then, stay tune for the next episode of the Story of Bueno!
Bueno Part 1 photo
Bullets, Babes, Beer: The story of Bueno
Gun Caliber: Bootleg Edition's stream may have left the scene, but Japanator was able to ask Bueno, the film's Director and main hero, some questions. I guess you could say that he's the Stephen Chow of tokusatsu. Also, his n...


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