Friday, June 24, 2022

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door Preview & Predictions

Are you ready to open the Forbidden Door?  Well get ready....


Yes, this Sunday it's the long-awaited AEW/NJPW crossover PPV, Forbidden Door, featuring a who's who of both companies, minus a few badly timed injuries.  Goddammit Bryan....

Despite the one match I was most looking forward to no longer being on the show, this is still a fine lineup and should provide some excellent in-ring action.  A few too many multi-man bouts for my taste but a) that's not unlike your average NJPW PPV and b) that's to be expected on a cross-promotion event for political reasons.  Don't wanna have too many of your guys lose one-on-one matches to the other company.  That said, I'd tweak the lineup in a few places, but I'm not gonna complain too much about it.

The build for this show has been very mixed, some of it exciting, some of it sloppy, and I'm not sure how many new fans either company will make with this show - it's more of a gift to the core audience like me, salivating at the chance to see both companies in one place.  It has felt weird to see so many of the important AEW talents de-emphasized during this build, so next week's Dynamite will sorta feel like getting back on the clock.  But I'm looking forward to this show.

Let's take a gander....




Pre-Show: Max Caster & Gunn Club vs. Yuya Uemura, Alex Coughlin, The DKC & Kevin Knight


This Buy-In match is pure filler but should be mildly amusing.  I'm not familiar with any of the NJPW side, but I think they probably win here, as the Gunn Club can afford a loss.

Pick: Team NJPW




Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston, Wheeler Yuta & Shota Umino


This should be a fun schmozz that furthers the Jericho-Kingston feud while also spotlighting Suzuki and introducing the AEW audience to Shota Umino, who is absolutely loaded with potential.  This kid has it.  Sammy will do some nutty things and Yuta will look like a badass.  Should be fun.

Pick: I think Umino probably eats the loss and then Team Eddie will get their revenge at Blood & Guts




AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Malakai Black vs. PAC vs. Miro vs. Clark Connors


Another fucking injury.  What the hell is going on with this show??  I was really looking forward to seeing Ishii and Miro mix it up but I guess that's another one we'll have to see another day.  Christ.  Anyway, I'm not crazy about the idea of this new title unless they do something special with it so it stands out.  Either have it defended weekly or have it defended on non-AEW shows on a regular basis.  And it should really be renamed since Japan and China aren't on the Atlantic.  Should be a helluva match though, even with the substitution.  I think either Black or Miro probably wins here.  Eh, I guess I'll go with Miro.

Pick: Miro



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Top Ten Things: Quentin Tarantino Films

Welcome to another edition of Enuffa.com's Top Ten Things, where I compile a list of ten of something and then demonstrate the arrogance to imply my opinion of them is undisputed fact.  Buuut who are we kiddin', it is....


Today I'll be discussing the films of one of my favorite writer/directors, Quentin Tarantino.  Exploding on the scene in 1992, Tarantino brought a "film geek" sensibility to Hollywood, having absorbed decades of movies while working as a video store clerk and using his natural stylistic ability to create a new genre of films.  He sold his first two screenplays to the studios before making his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, and then became a household name with his second film Pulp Fiction.  Since then Tarantino has created pastiches of crime dramas, samurai films, Westerns, and even horror movies with unabashed glee and incredible attention to memorable characters and quirky dialogue.  When you sit down to watch a Tarantino film you know you're getting an unforgettable (and likely very uncomfortable) cinematic experience.

Note: I'm including three films Tarantino wrote but didn't direct, as I felt they all warranted inclusion.  





12. From Dusk Till Dawn


One of two horror homages on this list that's split into two distinct halves, From Dusk Till Dawn is a skillfully-made roller coaster of a vampire film starring an exceedingly compelling George Clooney and Tarantino himself as Seth and Richard Gecko, two escaped criminals attempting to reach the Mexican border before the authorities catch them.  On the way they take a family of three hostage and hijack their mobile home before stopping off at a Mexican strip club to await an associate.  The first half of the film plays out in typical Tarantino fashion, with playfully vulgar dialogue and high-tension standoffs, with director Robert Rodriguez lending his own visual style to the proceedings.  In the second half though the film takes a 90-degree turn when it's revealed the strip club is a lair for the undead, and our protagonists must fight for their lives against a gaggle of bloodsuckers to make it till morning.  Structurally this plays out like a Romero zombie film but with a much more sardonic tone and a ton of uncomfortable laughs.  Clooney demonstrated in his first major Hollywood role what a strong leading man he was - Seth is an eminently likable bastard - and his chemistry with Tarantino is undeniable.  The two leads and scores of snappy lines of dialogue really carry this film past being a crappy horror film and into the realm of a loving tribute.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Top Ten Things: Fawlty Towers Episodes

Welcome to yet another edition of Top Ten Things, where I pick my ten favorite of somethingorother....

Today what's on my mind is the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers, one of my all-time favorite comedy series.  Created by John Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers takes place in a shoddy English hotel run by an eminently rude, impatient man and his rather domineering wife.  Supported by a clever, quick-thinking waitress and a bumbling Spanish waiter, the hotel and its staff get into various misadventures and hilarity ensues by the truckload.


Cleese's inspiration for Towers was a hotel called The Gleneagles, where he once stayed with the Monty Python cast.  Flabbergasted by the rudeness of its owner Donald Sinclair, Cleese mined this character for all the comedic material he was worth, and in the process created an incredibly funny, highly influential series.  As with most British sitcoms each season consisted of only six episodes, and Cleese and Booth only made twelve total, with a four-year lag between seasons.  This means of course that only two episodes failed to make this list of ten - "The Builders" and "The Kipper and the Corpse."  Don't get me wrong, there's nary a bad episode of this show, but for one reason or another these two episodes rank at the bottom for me, mostly because they both veer too far into slapstick for my taste.

But here are the top ten in my estimation.....



10. Basil the Rat


The final episode of the series deals with the hotel being given a health code citation for numerous violations.  While the staff scrambles to rectify these issues and avoid closure, Manuel's pet rat gets loose, triggering a whole new set of problems.  This felt like a good way to end the show, as certain recurring jokes had reached the end of their shelf life.  But it was good for one last hurrah, culminating in the trademark zany Fawlty humor.

Favorite Moment: The health inspector reads a laundry list of health violations and Basil responds with "....Otherwise okay?"




9. The Anniversary


Probably the wackiest episode (Polly even mentions the Marx Brothers in this one), is #11, wherein Basil plans a surprise anniversary party for Sybil but pretends like he's forgotten their anniversary altogether.  This of course backfires as Sybil leaves in a huff just before their friends arrive, and Basil decides to pretend Sybil is upstairs sick in bed.  One of my favorite aspects of this episode one of Basil's friends, Roger, only half-heartedly going along with the ruse despite clearly knowing something's up, and repeatedly toying with Basil.  This episode is probably the most "sitcom-ish" but still has a ton of laughs.

Favorite Moment: Another of Basil's friends mentions she saw Sybil driving around in the town and Basil covers it up by claiming that's another woman who looks like Sybil.  When the real Sybil comes back, Basil pretends she's the fictitious lookalike and locks her in the kitchen while he says goodbye to his friends.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Jurassic Park

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I dissect a beloved classic and explain why it doesn't quite hold up for me the way it does for everyone else, while also demonstrating why most of my friends don't like me.


Today it's Steven Spielberg's 1993 megahit Jurassic Park.  Based on Michael Crichton's 1990 novel (also called Jurassic Park), Jurassic Park tells the story of an eccentric billionaire who gets the bright idea to open an ecological preserve on a remote island near Costa Rica.  The rub is that this preserve is populated with DINOSAURS!  That's right, a team of scientists has recovered fossilized mosquitoes containing dinosaur blood, from which DNA has been extracted and complemented with genetic material from frogs to create a whole new race of giant lizards (ahem, bird ancestors)!  The billionaire flies in a team of scientists and a lawyer, plus his grandchildren, to evaluate the park so they can get the go-ahead from their investors to open the place to the public.  Of course all the dinosaurs get out and all hell breaks loose, and what ensues is one of the most successful blockbusters of all time, which spawned five sequels and counting.

So why can't I just sit back and enjoy the goddamn dinosaur movie you ask?  Well, read on and I'll lay it all out for ya.  Here we go....



The Awesome


Fucking Dinosaurs!

Jurassic Park was the first movie in a long time to portray dinosaurs in a realistic way, and it's light years ahead of every film before it in that respect.  The dinosaurs in this film look and sound amazing.  They're scary, they're awesome, they're occasionally funny, and they have little behavioral quirks like real animals do.  The blend of state-of-the-art animatronics and early CG almost totally holds up to this day, and represents one of a long list of spectacular achievements by ILM.  When we sat in that theater in 1993, we were plunged into a world of goddamn fucking dinosaurs and it was incredible.

My god, just LOOK AT IT.




Jeff Goldblum

The one actor who steals the show from the dinos, if such a thing is possible, is Jeff Goldblum as the peculiar, sardonic mathematician (chaotician, chaotician) Ian Malcolm.  Malcolm provides most of the film's humor but also has several great lines and speeches about how dangerous the idea of a dinosaur park is, both in the immediate sense and in the long-term.  From a comedic standpoint he's basically the Han Solo of Jurassic Park, and his character was so popular they made him the lead in the sequel, despite Malcolm having been killed off in the original novel.  Yes, Michael Crichton had to resurrect Malcolm via retcon in the The Lost World so Goldbum could be in that film.  Of course in the second movie he's a total wet blanket and nowhere near as cool as in the first.  Goldblum would essentially reprise this role in Independence Day as well.

You might be cool, but you'll never be
Ian Malcolm backlit by a projector, wearing sunglasses indoors cool.


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2019)

Welp, Dominion 2019 was definitely not on the level of 2018, or 2017, or 2015.  But then those three editions are three of the best PPVs I've ever seen.  Still I have to consider this show, very good though it may have been, as a mild disappointment.  I've come to expect Dominion to automatically be a Show of the Year contender, and this wasn't that.  Fortunately it was a sellout and set up some cool stuff for the future, but I was expecting a grand slam and they only hit a triple.


The show kicked off with a Jon Moxley showcase, as he made short work of Shota Umino.  I get why this went under four minutes but I would've liked to see more from these two.  That said, this was a very good four-minute squash, with Moxley taunting Umino during a series of Umino forearms; the veteran toying with the rookie.  Moxley finished Umino with his double-arm DDT and then helped him up post-match, giving Umino his endorsement before announcing his intention to enter the G1.  Between his excellent US Title win over Juice Robinson and this match, the stage was already set for Moxley to prove how much better he was outside WWE.  This was fine for what it was.  **3/4


From Moxley's first appearance as US Champion we moved onto Shingo Takagi's first as a division crossover star, as he and Satoshi Kojima beat the tar out of each other.  As a Junior, Shingo had been able to bully and overpower every opponent, but heavyweight Kojima wasn't standing for it and gave it all right back.  These guys had some sick forearm and lariat exchanges and built to a strong finish, with Shingo hitting a Pumping Bomber and Last of the Dragon to get his first heavyweight singles win.  Shingo's run as a company MVP heavyweight was underway.  This was an excellent little fight, particularly for its place on the card.  ***3/4


The first of two mongrel tag matches was next, as Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre faced Yoshi-Hashi and Jushin Thunder Liger.  These four paired off for most of the bout, Suzuki building to a future match with Liger and Yoshi proving himself as a British Heavyweight Championship challenger for Zack.  Suzuki and Liger's exchanges were fun, while Yoshi wasn't the most credible opponent for Sabre.  But he stole a win here with a magistral cradle.  This was a garden variety undercard tag match.  **1/2

The weakest match on the card was the six-man tag pitting Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jay White, Chase Owens and Taiji Ishimori.  Usually Tanahashi is able to hide his physical limitations in a singles match, but he wasn't able to do so here.  Tana looked so beat up and tired, his offense wasn't nearly as crisp as usual.  Taguchi's story during this match was his inability to hit the Funky Weapon hip attack.  Ishimori didn't do much here, leaving Owens, Juice and White to carry most of it.  Not much to this.  **

Things picked up with the NEVER Openweight Championship, as Taichi had one of his best matches to date against Tomohiro Ishii, who had what was for him a middling encounter.  This was very solid stuff, with Taichi actually fighting for a change, begging the question, both from the announcers and myself, "Why aren't all of his matches like this?"  After some early stalling and usual Taichi antics, the second half of this match became a more typical Ishii fight, with traded strikes, suplexes and some Taichi submission attempts.  Ishii eventually won with a sliding lariat (after multiple missed attempts) and a brainbuster to recapture the NEVER Title.  This match was very good, a step below Shingo-Kojima.  ***1/2


The Tag Titles were next as GOD faced Evil & Sanada in a pretty standard tag match.  There was some good action but nothing terribly noteworthy.  Jado interfered liberally, hitting Evil with a kendo stick from the outside, and later pulling the referee out of the ring to stop him from seeing Tama Tonga tapping to Evil's Scorpion Deathlock.  After a ref bump Jado came in with the stick again but Bushi appeared, spraying black mist into his face and knocking him out with a tope.  Evil & Sanada went for the Magic Killer but Tama broke it up and rolled up Evil, hooking the tights for the cheap win.  This was fine but not much else.  ***

The real meat of the show, as expected, was the final three bouts, starting with an incredible Dragon Lee-Will Opsreay match.  Ospreay stated a few days ago he and Lee intended to steal the show here, and they did just that, with an epic 20-minute Juniors match.  After several minutes of thrilling back-and-forth, Lee propped Ospreay on the outside railing and hit a stunning tope, knocking both guys over the railing and the Japanese announce table.  Absolutely wild spot that was actually safer than it looked.  Ospreay later hit a gorgeous corkscrew moonsault to the floor.  One of my favorite spots, incredibly simple though it was, involved Dragon Lee attempting to run away from Ospreay but getting cut off by a hook kick.  Such a basic but brilliant moment.  Another great exchange saw Ospreay take a reverse rana but counter a Lee running charge with a Spanish Fly out of nowhere.  And of course they did the spot where Ospreay appears to take a top rope rana but lands on his feet and both guys sell the magnitude of that reversal.  Ospreay repeated his finish from his Shingo match a few days earlier, putting away Dragon with a top rope OsCutter/Stormbreaker sequence to once again capture the Jr. Title.  Just a spectacular performance by both men.  ****3/4


The semi-main event was one of those matches I have to reluctantly give a very high rating to.  At this point I was convinced Ibushi and Naito had a suicide pact, considering how many times they've dropped each other on their heads over the years.  This match was slower paced than their previous ones but the second half featured so many piledrivers, reverse ranas, and other spiking moves it became really uncomfortable to watch.  And don't get me started on that apron German suplex spot.  Like, obviously the plan was for Naito to flip Ibushi all the way over so he landed on the floor on his stomach (ridiculously dangerous as it is), but Ibushi didn't clear the apron and the side of his head caught the edge on the way down, which looked like it folded his head into his shoulder at a 45-degree angle.  Jeezus fucking Christ.  I spent the rest of this match saying "What the fuck are you doing??"  That Ibushi was even able to get up after that, let alone finish a match full of crazy high spots is baffling.  And from a workrate standpoint this match was pretty great.  But after this I didn't want to see them wrestle each other ever again (Fortunately their WrestleKingdom 15 main event was much safer).  Naito kicked out of a Last Ride and countered the Kamigoye with a DDT that Ibushi took like Rob Van Dam.  Naito finished him with Destino to recapture the I-C Title.   ****1/4 for the mechanics of the match, but zero stars for the common sense displayed in getting there.


The main event, following two spectacular matches, left me feeling a little underwhelmed truth be told, but there was plenty of good stuff here.  Okada and Jericho worked a very unusual style for New Japan, with Jericho playing the Terry Funk-type heel and Okada altering his usual main event style to match.  Jericho subverted several of Okada's usual spots, such as the clean rope break at the beginning, where Jericho answered Okada's pat on the chest with an eye poke.  Then later Okada tossed Jericho over the barricade and went for his high cross body but Jericho countered with a Codebreaker.   Late in the match Jericho attempted to steal the Rainmaker but Okada ducked and hit the Codebreaker for a nearfall.  Okada avoided Jericho's new Judas Effect and countered another Codebreaker by throwing Jericho over his head.  Jericho went for a sunset flip but Okada sat on top and got a quick pin, echoing the first fall with Kenny Omega last year.  Jericho was pissed and attacked Okada after the bell, using a chair and hitting the Judas Effect.  Guest commentator Tanahashi came to Okada's rescue, setting up a dream match with Jericho, at WrestleKingdom 14.  The story of this match really seemed to be Jericho robbing the fans of a typical Okada main event, with multiple signature spots broken up, a slower-than-usual pace, and an out-of-nowhere finish.  Okada never even hit the Rainmaker and certainly didn't get a post-match promo.  For what they were going for this was very well-done, it just left me slightly vexxed because it wasn't the match I expected.  On balance I'll give it **** because it was well-worked and accomplished what it set out to accomplish.  Arch-villain Chris Jericho pissed off the New Japan faithful and was protected in a loss.


So yeah, Dominion 2019 was certainly not the instant classic show we've come to expect from the annual June PPV, but it was very far from a bad show too.  On the contrary, a show like this on WWE's calendar would be considered one of their best of the year.  For New Japan though it was just good.  

Best Match: Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay
Worst Match: The six-man
What I'd Change: Tell Ibushi and Naito to stop trying to die.  
Most Disappointing Match: As good as it was, Ibushi-Naito was really difficult to watch.
Most Pleasant Surprise: That Taichi can actually deliver a good NEVER match when he wants to.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10


Alright, bring on the G1 Climax!  Thanks for reading - follow us on TwitterMeWeFacebook and YouTube!


2018
2020


 

Monday, June 13, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2018)

Okada-Omega IV.  The new wrestling yardstick.  The 60+-minute epic that made everything else feel obsolete.  The culmination of an 18-month rivalry that ranks among the greatest in the history of the business.  Oh, plus a bunch of other good stuff.....


2018's PPV of the Year may primarily be remembered for its main event, but it was anything but a one-match show.  In addition to the 6-star classic (or 7, or 8, however many snowflakes you wanna give it), this show boasted three other ****+ matches by my count, and while it took a few matches to really get going, this edition of Dominion ranks among the finest.

The opener was a short but entertaining Jr. Tag Title match, with Roppongi 3K challenging El Desperado & Kanemaru, hoping to regain the straps.  The heels took advantage of a slight ref bump and Kanemaru used a whiskey bottle on SHO for the win.  It's a shame these guys only got nine minutes for a title opener and even stranger that RPG3K didn't win.  Nothing spectacular in this opener, it was fine.  **

Next up was Jay White & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay in another short bout.  This was all about setting up White vs. Robinson, which it did nicely.  Robinson got the pin on White with Pulp Friction, and these two would deliver a fantastic US Title match at the G1 Special in San Francisco a month later.  This however was just a quick 7-minute match.  **

A third undercard tag match pitted Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano against Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.  This was the best of the three openers, mostly due to the Ishii-Suzuki interaction (Who doesn't love watching these two maniacs pummel each other?).  Sabre got the win for his team by tapping out Yano, but after the match Ishii and Suzuki brawled into the back.  Another fun little match.  **1/4

The first really noteworthy bout was the NEVER Openweight triple threat.  Hirooki Goto and Michael Elgin carried most of the weight here while Taichi played the chickenshit heel who picked his spots and tried to stay out of danger.  After some nice three-way spots and some good powerbrokering from Goto and Elgin, Elgin won by buckle bombing Taichi into Goto and then Elgin-bombing Taichi for the pin.  This match wasn't your usual NEVER slugfest, and leaving Taichi out of it would've been a major improvement, but it had some clever spots and was well worked.  ***1/2

Here's where the show really started to take off.  The Young Bucks, freshly moved up to the heavyweight tag division, challenged Evil & Sanada in an energetic, dramatic bout where both Bucks sold injuries - Matt's back became an issue again, and Nick missed a kick on the apron and whacked his foot on the post.  Both injuries played into multiple spots and the Bucks were in peril for much of the bout.  This can be considered the match where Matt and Nick Jackson successfully transitioned from spotfest wrestlers to really great storytellers, and it felt markedly different than their Jr. division stuff.  After multiple exciting false finishes, the Bucks took the match and the straps with More Bang for Your Buck.  One of the best heavyweight tag title matches I've seen in NJPW.  Seven months later the Bucks would drop the titles back to Evil & Sanada and make their New Japan exit, but this bout served as an historic template for their work in AEW.  ****1/2


Friday, June 10, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2017)

NJPW follows up the superb WrestleKingdom 11 with a similarly structured Dominion, complete with four rematches from that show....


In a year when the company, especially its top champion, was churning out classics like a five-star match assembly line, NJPW Dominion 2017 was yet another homerun for the world's greatest current wrestling promotion.  Its nine-match lineup included nary a misstep; the matches ranged from "entertaining opening match fluff" to "pretty good" to "goddamn awesome" to "transcendent."  By my calculations the show included four ****+ matches, the last of which served as an in-ring Godfather 2 to its predecessor.  Five months after Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega lit the wrestling world ablaze with their epic Tokyo Dome main event for the ages, they did it a second time.

First though, let's look at the undercard.

The opening 8-man tag was quick, energetic and inoffensive.  Nothing much at stake but everyone got a little time to warm up the crowd, and team Tiger Mask won after Togi Makabe landed the King Kong Knee Drop on Nakanishi.  I believe this was Kota Ibushi's final Tiger Mask W appearance, thank god.  **1/4

Next up was the 6-Man Title gauntlet match, which was slightly better than its WK counterpart but ultimately entertaining without being terribly memorable.  The first and last segments were probably the strongest, but I find gauntlet six-man tags kind of a slog to sit through.  I'd have preferred a simple six-man tag for the titles.  Team Chaos won the first fall after Toru Yano hit a low blow on Yujiro Takahashi.  He tried to do the same in the second fall to Taichi and Kanemaru but Zack Sabre Jr. rolled him up in a bridging cradle to make short work of Chaos.  Taguchi, Juice and Ricochet were next and had a bit of baseball-themed fun, where Taguchi trapped Taichi in the corner and acted as a catcher, Ricochet wound up and threw an air pitch, and Juice acted as a ball, cannonballing Taichi.  Juice ended up pinning Taichi with Pulp Friction after Kanemaru accidentally whiskey-sprayed him.  Zack Sabre then trapped Juice in an Octopus Hold after the bell, until Evil, Sanada and Bushi entered.   Los Ingobernables retained in the end after Bushi hit a second-rope codebreaker on Taguchi.  Like I said, this was fine but too long for its spot and importance.  **

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2016)

NJPW rebuilds their roster and sets the stage for a record-shattering IWGP Title reign.....

Osaka-Jo Hall - 6.19.16

The 2016 edition came at a strange transitional period for New Japan, when they were still recovering from the loss of four major players a few months earlier.  While AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Anderson and Gallows were making waves in WWE, NJPW was hard at work to fill the void.  Kenny Omega had emerged as the new top gaijin, winning the vacant Intercontinental Title (I'm still baffled they didn't have Nakamura drop the belt to him on his way out the door), while Tetsuya Naito skyrocketed to the main event scene, winning the New Japan Cup tournament on his way to a shocking IWGP Title victory over Okada at Invasion Attack.  Replacing Anderson & Gallows as the tag team division centerpiece was another pair of Bullet Club guys, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, who got off to a rocky start but quickly grew into the role.  And yet another emerging new star was Jr. Heavyweight sensation Will Ospreay, who defeated Ryusuke Taguchi in the Best of the Super Juniors final to earn a shot at division champion Kushida.  So in spite of the talent loss, New Japan was making the best of things and then some (as we'd see over the next year).

Dominion opened with the Bullet Club B-Team of Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi facing the Hunter Club of Captain New Japan, Yoshitatsu and Togi Makabe.  The heels attacked at the bell and worked over Yoshi momentarily, but things broke down quickly and spilled to the outside.  Fale attacked Makabe with the railing, while Page hit CNJ with a shooting star press off the apron (This spot was terrifying, as Page underrotated and was lucky not to land on his head).  Yoshi finally made the hot tag to Makabe, who worked with CNJ to dominate the heels, but Page hit Last Rites on CNJ to win the match, and hung him over the ropes after the bell.  Not much to write home about here, just a proper showcase for Page more than anything else.  *1/2

Up next was a the first of three Chaos vs. Los Ingobernables matches on the show, as the two newest LIJ members Sanada and Bushi faced Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi.  Bushi started right in with heel tactics, choking Yoshi with his T-shirt and opening the door for the heels to work him over for a few minutes, before Yoshi hit a neckbreaker and tagged Ishii.  Ishii ran wild on both LIJ members.  With all four men in the ring Yoshi and Sanada had some good exchanges, with Sanada hitting a top rope dropkick, lariat, and a TKO.  He went for Skull End but met an Ishii lariat.  Yoshi then countered a second Skull End attempt with his Butterfly Lock, which Bushi tried to break up but found himself snared in an Ishii choke.  Sanada tapped to give Chaos the win.  This was a decent match but pretty skippable.  **1/4

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

NJPW Dominion 2022 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's NJPW Dominion 2022, boasting one of the more loaded cards in recent memory, though still not the kind of can't-miss lineup we saw from 2015-2018.


It's a weird time in NJPW, with numerous injuries and illnesses derailing plans and title reigns (and NJPW isn't alone in this regard), and a normally huge show like Dominion kinda taking a backseat to Forbidden Door in terms of buzz.  Many of the matches on this show are there to help set up bouts two weeks later, which may be a first for Dominion.  Nonetheless, this show actually kinda feels like a Dominion card, the top half anyway.  Let's take a look.....




Six or Nine & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. United Empire


Before we get to the good stuff we have to talk about the throwaway undercard matches, starting with Ryusuke Taguchi and friends against United Empire's B-team.  This will be short and sweet, and I imagine United Empire goes over.  Not much more to say.

Pick: United Empire




LIJ vs. Bullet Club


It's weird to see Naito and Takahashi this early on a major show.  Kinda seems wrong.  Bullet Club just introduced Ace Austin as their newest member so I think they probably win here, likely pinning Bushi.  Lotta talent in this match though, so it should be fun.

Pick: Bullet Club

The History of NJPW Dominion (2015)

The next four Dominion shows were really something, starting with this masterpiece.....

Osaka-Jo Hall - 7.5.15

The 2015 Dominion PPV was the first NJPW show I truly anticipated as a fan, after initially diving into the product with WrestleKingdom 9.  Between January and July 2015 I perused their back catalogue and watched the big matches from New Beginning, Invasion Attack and Wrestling Dontaku.  But Dominion was the first stacked New Japan show after WK9, and I made it a point to sit down and view it from start to finish, on the day it aired.  Another bit of trivia for you, Dominion 2015 was the first NJPW show I wrote a predictions column for (I went 8 for 9).  If WrestleKingdom 9 converted me into a New Japan fan, Dominion 2015 vaulted New Japan ahead of WWE on my list of wrestling priorities, and I haven't looked back.

This show was the culmination of a year-long arc for the company's rising Ace, Kazuchika Okada, who'd been unseated for the IWGP Title by AJ Styles (partly due to Bullet Club shenanigans), and spent the intervening months trying to climb back up the mountain (with a heartbreaking loss to Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom 9).  Okada's road to Dominion had been a troubled one, with a couple losses to Bad Luck Fale before a big win at Invasion Attack that ended that feud and set the stage for a rematch with AJ at the second-biggest show of the year.  Such was the central story of Dominion 2015.

But first the undercard...

The show opened with a wild, fast-paced offering from the Jr. Heavyweight Tag division, as The Young Bucks defended their Titles against reDRagon and RPG Vice.  The Bucks took a lot of abuse early in the match from both teams but managed to outmaneuver Fish and O'Reilly on the outside, leaving Romero and Beretta to flatten reDRagon with planchas meant for Matt and Nick.  From there the Bucks staged a walkout which prompted RPG Vice to give chase, and Matt and Nick superkicked them both on the ramp before running back into the ring.  RPG Vice nearly got counted out but just made it back in.  After lots of wild exchanges, Kyle O'Reilly took out both RPG Vice members with a rebound lariat, and Fish hit a top rope Falcon Arrow on Romero for a nearfall.  But the Bucks came back, knocking reDRagon out of the match with twin superkicks, Matt superkicked Beretta out of the ring, and the Bucks hit More Bang for Your Buck on Romero to retain the belts.  A super fun opener with the type of Jr. action you'd expect from these three teams.  ***3/4  


Next up was one of only two "forgettable" matches of the night; Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma and Tetsuya Naito.  This match was historically significant, as it marked more or less the beginning of Tetsuya Naito becoming the Ingobernable we all know and love today.  Honma was ambushed by the heels at the opening bell, and Naito sauntered down to the ring, in no hurry to help out his partner.  The opening few minutes consisted of Fale and Takahashi pounding Honma, and every time Honma escaped to his corner Naito refused to tag in.  Finally Naito agreed to do some work, leveling both heels with a dive to the outside and offering his signature pose back in the ring.  Naito locked Fale in a Figure Four but ran into some trouble and tagged Honma back in, taking a powder on the outside.  Honma flattened Takahashi with a running headbutt, and Naito detained Fale long enough for Honma to hit a top rope headbutt for the win; this was during a time when Honma lost basically always, so the crowd was jubilant at his success here.  Naito bailed after the bell and left Honma to his celebration.  The rest of course is history; Naito would soon become one of the company's top draws thanks to his transformation into an anti-hero.  A decent match with nice character development, but not a standout on a show like this.  **1/2

The really stacked portion of the card began next with the Katsuyori Shibata-Kazushi Sakuraba fight.  And I mean FIGHT.  This was one of the best simulated MMA bouts I've ever seen and I'd rank it right up there with Sakuraba-Nakamura from WK7.  The grappling looked totally convincing and snug, and Shibata's strikes were brutal.  Sakuraba mostly relied on submission holds, repeatedly locking in guillotine chokes and armbars, while Shibata fought back with sickening forearms, palm strikes, and a pair of stiff-as-hell corner dropkicks.  The most memorable moment came when Sakuraba locked a rear naked choke on a standing Shibata.  Shibata inched toward the ropes with Sakuraba on his back like a spider monkey, but as he reached out, Sakuraba converted the hold into a double butterfly lock to trap both Shibata's arms; Shibata had to resort to reaching the ropes with his teeth to break the hold.  Shibata spun Sakuraba around with a lariat but got caught in another choke that nearly passed him out.  Shibata escaped and locked in his own choke, which he released just long enough to score a match-ending Penalty Kick.  This was fantastically brutal and different from anything else on the show.  ***3/4 


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2014)

The Bullet Club has taken over, folks.  It's New Japan, 2014....

BodyMaker Colosseum - 6.21.14

By June 2014 the Bullet Club had gone through a major shift, as founder Prince Devitt left New Japan for TitanLand (following a Loser Leaves NJPW match at Invasion Attack), and was replaced as leader by the industry's hottest free agent AJ Styles.  AJ made a major statement from the start, capturing the IWGP Championship in his New Japan in-ring debut.  Also by this point buzzworthy indy tag team The Young Bucks had been added to the mix, making the Bullet Club a diverse, powerful stable.  The 2014 Dominion show was fairly strange compared to the others; with no IWGP Title match on the card it would instead by headlined by an Intercontinental Championship match (the third of five such NJPW PPVs that year), while IWGP Champion Styles was in a tag match third from the top.  What's weirder about this show is that by my count three of the five pre-intermission bouts scored **** or better, while none of the final four matches did.  What is this, a WWE show??  But Dominion 2014 was still a solid, easy to watch outing with some fine wrestling.

The show opened gorgeously with The Young Bucks vs. Time Splitters for the IWGP Jr. Tag belts.  This began with lots of innovative, fast-paced action, the Splitters mostly frustrating the Bucks.  Matt and Nick eventually took control after their patented head scissor/flying kick combo, and kept outmaneuvering Alex Shelley to keep him from escaping as they worked him over.  The Bucks broke out a slew of tandem moves over several minutes, and finally Shelley evaded them and got the hot tag.  Kushida ran wild, taking out both Bucks, but fell victim to a Doomsday Device dropkick for a two-count.  Time Splitters recovered and hit a tandem Sliced Bread for a nearfall.  Kushida went for the Hoverboard Lock but Matt countered with a tombstone setup for the IndyTaker.  The pin was broken up and the Bucks hit their tandem 450 splash for another two-count.  Finally they went for More Bang for Your Buck, but it was broken up, and Kushida snared a Hoverboard lock on Nick for the tapout finish.  Just an awesome, prototypical Bucks-Splitters match to kick off the show; exactly the kind of match you'd want from these teams.  ****1/2


The shortest match of the night, and the only one under ten minutes, pitted Tetsuya Naito against Tama Tonga in a crisp, energetic match.  Tonga attacked before the bell and controlled most of the early moments, taking the action outside and hitting a TKO-type move to drop Naito throat-first on the railing, which looked brutal.  Naito beat the 20-count and took over the match with a neckbreaker, and the remaining minutes featured quick back-and-forth action.  Tonga got the advantage with a backdrop suplex and the finishing sequence was full of reversals until Naito found a break and hit the Stardust Press for the win.  This was fun.  ***

Maybe the unexpected hit of the night for me (and I'm not sure why I was surprised by this) was Goto and Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata and Tomoaki Honma.  These four guys beat the shit out of each other for eleven minutes and it was glorious.  Honma attacked before the bell, pummeling Shibata with chops and stomps, but Shibata wasn't having it and engaged both guys with traded forearms.  Later in the match Shibata and Honma had an incredible striking battle, trading rapid-fire palm strikes until Honma leveled him with a lariat and tagged Nagata.  Shibata and Nagata then had a sick striking war of their own and traded backdrop suplexes.  Shibata and Nagata eventually spilled out of the ring as Goto and Honma fought inside.  Honma hit a blockbuster but missed his diving headbutt.  Goto landed a yushi guroshi but Honma countered the Shouten with a small package for a nearfall.  Goto then hit a Dominator-type move for the win.  Shibata and Nagata continued brawling all the way to the dressing room.  This was like a NEVER Openweight tag match, stiff as fuck and full of nonstop action.  ****

Friday, June 3, 2022

WWE Hell in a Cell 2022 Preview & Predictions

It's June and for WWE that means a half-assed attempt at a Hell in a Cell PPV!


Seriously, they've announced six matches for this show, all of them from the RAW side of things.  Refreshingly though, only one is a HIAC match and it's the blowoff to a two-month feud.  Also on the bright side, Finn Balor and Mustafa Ali actually get to be on a PPV.  Throw in Nakamura and Ricochet and you'd have something.  To be fair, this lineup is pretty solid.  Once again it's about two-thirds of a good show on paper.  Let's take a look....



Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel


What a fucking pointless feud this is.  Imagine taking a guy who main evented Night 1 of WrestleMania against a returning megastar like Steve Austin, and following that up by feuding him with Elias pretending to be Elias's brother.  Jesus H. Christ.  And stupidly, Owens likely has to job to this toolbag.  Elias was never very good in the ring so I don't see this match being much at all.  It's a shame, because they could book the match to last exactly 25 minutes and 17 seconds.  Ya know, Ezekiel 25:17?  Anyone?

Pick: Ezekiel




Bobby Lashley vs. Omos & MVP


I cannot believe this feud has gotten three goddamn PPV matches.  Stop trying to make fetch happen with Omos.  Just stop.  Mercifully this should be the end of the feud and Lashley should win, but Jesus, what a nothing feud.

Pick: Lashley

Thursday, June 2, 2022

The History of NJPW Dominion (2013)

We've entered the Bullet Club era!

BodyMaker Colosseum - 6.22.13

New Japan was firing on all cylinders in 2013, with an incredible slew of big PPVs plus an awesome G1 tournament, and Dominion was no exception.  The company had found its second Ace in Kazuchika Okada, who now enjoyed a lengthy second IWGP Title reign, but a brand new stable was creating a huge buzz and would take the puroresu world by storm.  Jr. Heavyweight babyface Prince Devitt had turned on his Apollo 55 partner Taguchi and formed Bullet Club, a foursome consisting of gaijin wrestlers that also included Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Karl Anderson (by year's end The Young Bucks and Doc Gallows would be added to the group).  Bullet Club usurped Chaos as the most notorious heel stable and would assert their dominance over the next several years.  But the first top for Devitt was NJPW's Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi!

But first the undercard...

The opener featured the burgeoning Jr. Tag division, as Forever Hooligans defended the championship against Time Splitters.  Alex Kozlov began the proceedings by singing the Russian anthem, and all I have to say is Kozlov is no Nikolai Volkoff.  The match started with Alex Shelley putting on a grappling clinic against Kozlov, making use of European style wrestling to control the action.  Soon Kushida and Romero tagged in and provided the wild, fast-paced Jr. moves.  After a skirmish on the outside involving the railing, the heels took over and worked Shelley while Kushida was down, repeatedly cutting off the tag attempts.  Finally Kushida got the hot tag in and cleaned house.  Romero blocked a Time Splitter attempt and nearly won with a small package, then Kozlov came back in and the Hooligans hit their Demolition-style finisher on Kushida for a nearfall.  Time Splitters hit their signature sequence of chain moves, but the Hooligans nailed Kushida with a Torture Rack/flying knee combination to retain the belts.  This was a very fun Jr. tag bout that would soon become the standard match type for New Japan PPV openers.  ***1/2

The next available match on NJPW World (they're missing the Bullet Club-Nagata/Honma/Captin NJ six-man for some reason) is a triple threat IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title match, with champions Tencozy vs. Toru Yano & Iizuka vs. Killer Elite Squad.  KES attacked Tencozy at the bell and dominated both teams during the opening stretch, but Chaos took the fight outside, taping Archer and Davey to the railing and going to work on Tencozy.  After a few minutes KES broke free and had back and forth exchanges with Tencozy.  KES hit their double powerbomb on Yano but the referee had been bumped and there was no pin.  Tencozy hit their Tencozy Cutter on Archer for a nearfall before Kojima lariated the crap out of him to get the pin.  This was mildly fun and chaotic, but a bit tedious at times.  **1/2

Next up was the NWA Championship, with Manabu Nakanishi challenging Rob Conway.  This match was fun after a few minutes when Nakanishi made a comeback, but pretty dull when Conway was in control.  After hitting a dive to the outside, Nakanishi leveled Conway with a lariat and a spear, and slapped on the Torture Rack, but Conway escaped.  Nakanishi went to the top rope but Bruce Tharpe distracted him, allowing Conway to use his Ego Trip neckbreaker for the win.  This was mediocre.  **

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Review: Another Triumph

Well that was a doozy of a PPV.  Four hours and forty minutes of a loaded 12-match main card.  It's not a sustainable length on a regular basis, but a company can get away with it once in a while, and AEW certainly did here - just ask the live crowd.


AEW Double or Nothing 2022 is in the books and it was yet another excellent show from a promotion always striving to deliver one's money's worth.  Once again the card had a wide variety of match types, almost all of them good or better, and things ended in historic fashion with the crowning of a brand new AEW Champion.  On balance I'd place this in the top four AEW PPVs to date.  Let's look at the evening that was....

In the opening slot we were at long last (and after a tumultuous 24 hours) treated to Wardlow getting his hands on MJF, in a bout that could hardly be called an in-ring classic due to how it was booked, but one that delivered exactly what the fans wanted to see.  Over the first four minutes, MJF did everything he could to avoid Wardlow's crushing finisher, but finally after being caught trying to use his diamond ring, the Long Island snob offered to quadruple Wardlow's pay, Wardlow shook his hand and pulled him into the first of ten powerbombs.  Halfway through the barrage Wardlow teased a pin by putting his foot on MJF's chest, but stepped away after a two-count and hit five more, then got his well-deserved dominant victory over his former boss.  The crowd ate up this match with a spoon and Wardlow came off like a megastar, becoming emotional when Tony Schiavone announced he was now officially under contract to AEW.  MJF was stretchered out of the arena, presumably writing him off television until he and Tony Khan work out whatever their contract dispute is.  This was more of an angle than a match, but it was executed to perfection - a brilliantly laid-out, emotionally satisfying conclusion (for now anyway) to the MJF-Wardlow saga.  ***


Next up was the Hardys-Young Bucks dream match, in which Matt and Nick Jackson (sporting Elvis-style mutton chops) worked their asses off to cover up Matt and Jeff Hardy's very visible ring wear.  There was lots of back and forth action with the Bucks playing the brash heel roles to the hilt, and the Hardys struggling to keep up with their faster counterparts.  Late in the match Jeff avoided a BTE Trigger but the Bucks laid in multiple superkicks to both Hardys, who withstood the blows and kicked out of a pin attempt.  Jeff hit a swanton on Matt Jackson across the steel steps, while Matt Hardy hit Nick with a Twist of Fate and Jeff came off with a swanton for the win.  This was a step below the usual Bucks PPV match but still very good.  The Hardys look reeeeally tired out there and should adjust their style to be lower impact.  ***3/4