Interlude - KENTA’s return

I know this match is 2 months old but I just saw it today.  NOAH needs KENTA.  Wrestling needs KENTA.




Enjoy.

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"Shoot Style" Pro Wrestling (The greatest workers of all?) Part 1 - a rambling discussion

I haven’t posted for nine days.  Not really the best way to “resurrect” my blog, but I’m trying.

A couple days ago I got my WXW Ambition 1 DVD in the mail (all the way from Deutchland) and I’ve yet to watch it, but the dvd has inspired me to finally do this post.  First off, Ambition 1 is a pro-wrestling show put on by Germany’s WXW (featuring Bryan Danielson) where all the wrestlers compete in a one night tournament.  The catch is that the wrestlers involved all have legit martial arts backgrounds or training and work a more legit style that doesn’t involve top rope maneuvers, running the ropes or flashy moves.  Basically, from what I can gather, the wrestlers are performing what has become known as the somewhat oxy-moronic “shoot style” pro-wrestling.

Shoot style pro-wrestling (at least the versions I am going to discuss) is still a complete work.  In this sense, a work meaning predetermined outcomes and matches where both wrestlers work together to build excitement and tell a story.  But shoot style tries to maintain a very strong sense of believability and places emphasis on legit grappling techniques taken from Greco-Roman wrestling, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Amateur wrestling and strikes taken from various other martial arts.  There are strict rules, no closed fists, rope breaks are heavily enforced etc. (again this can vary from federation to federation, some like the UWFi even adopted points systems).  But I don’t want to get caught up in rules or differences of styles or any of that stuff, however interesting in may be,  what really fascinates me is how incredible these workers are and how dramatic the matches can be given that they feature a way less flashy style of wrestling seen in almost any other pro-wrestling federation.  This is why in my opinion, I think some of the great “Shoot style” pro-wrestlers, are some of the greatest workers of all time.


Now I’ve got a Battlarts set coming in the mail (from IVP Videos) and I haven’t really watched too much previously, so most of my “shoot style” watching comes from the UWF and its successor the UWFi.  The UWF was the first “shoot style” pro wrestling federation.  It was fairly popular in the 1980’s and feuded with Inoki’s NJPW.  Most influential “shoot” wrestlers started here such as Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda.  After the fall of the UWF in 1988 it was reborn as the UWFi and eventually led to other rival “shoot style” federations in Japan. These included the defunct Fujiwara-Gumi (which basically evolved into Battlarts) and Akria Maeda’s federation RINGS (which eventually became legit and featured early fights of Fedor Emelianenko).

Again, I don’t want to get too bogged down in the history of these federations because everyone has wikipedia and I’m probably not doing the best job anyways.  What I really wanted this post to be about is how sometimes in wrestling, less can be so much more.  In “shoot style” you won’t see piledrivers, or aerial moves, or even a ton of suplexes or any playmakers (imagine if that shit was tried), but what I find great, and this may be an acquired taste, is how much the little things mean and how the crowd reacts.  A german suplex is basically the most devastating throw.  Submission attempts get huge reactions.  Strikes to the head make women scream and this is all because the crowd either thought it was legit, or just appreciated the illusion the wrestlers created.  

I’m a fan of all wrestling.  I like lucha elements, big powerful moves and all the other complete fantastic maneuvers pulled off by wrestlers.  But, in the right mood, “shoot style” is definitely one of my favourites.  It may seem silly or irrelevant given that we have MMA now which is completely legit (I think) but “shoot style” was basically the precursor to MMA (in fact Kazushi Sakuraba started in the UWFi before becoming perhaps the biggest MMA star in Japan.)  Thats what I find so interesting about it.  These companies were basically calling other pro-wrestling companies fake, and then convincing fans that they were real.  THAT IS WORKING.  And trust me, if you’ve watched some of the matches, you know how convincing it can be (and think of that in a pre-MMA being super popular, world)

Shit, this post is spiraling out of control and not really maintaining the structure I wanted it to have.  Also it is getting a bit rambling and long.  I think I will end this as Part 1 of my incoherent discussion of “Shoot Style” pro wrestling. 

Part 2 I want to talk about the Man They Call Vader again (a big force in the UWFi) and the conundrum of UWFi’s biggest money making feud with the “fake” NJPW in 1995 and 1996.  Crazy stuff. 

Now I’ll post a match to illustrate the 1980’s UWF “Shoot Style”.  Enjoy.  (Again… think of WWF or NWA or anything else in the 1980’s and then think about this)

This is one of my favourites and it is by 2 greats.  Nobuhiko Takada (who went on to fight somewhat unsuccessfully in Pride, more on that in part 2) and his rival Akira Maeda (who left the UWF to form RINGS)


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I’m not dead/VADER TIME!/Wrestling Book Club

Wow.  I haven’t posted since May which is really lame because I was really excited about keeping this blog active and not failing.  Fucking Red Dead Redemption and touring.  BUT I’m not dead, I’m alive and I’m inspired to get the blog back going.

Maybe its the few beers I’ve slammed (Stone Cold style) or maybe its the fact that I froze my computer up more solid than Steve Rogers in the 50’s trying to load up my Dingoo with Super Fire Pro Wrestling Premium X (nerdiest sentence ever written) and I was blowing off frustration to the max, but I have to first off rave about a match and a wrestler and then suggest an idea.

So first the raving. Fucking VADER VS. INOKI the final countdown tour towards Inoki’s retirement.  Why have I not watched this before you may ask? Answer: because I am stupid.  

This match is incredible (i’ll post it after the writing).  It just has all the drama you could want in an retirement match and cements the fact to me that Vader (yes I know may not be the intention of the match) is one of the best wrestlers of all time and definitely the top super-heavyweight.  Who in that weight class is better than Vader?  I’m not sure I can name one.  He can wrestle any style (my next post will speak to that) and he is athletic, can work, can sell, can promo (have you seen the White Castle of Fear?) goddamn he can do it all.  

This brings me to my idea..in a strange roundabout way.  I’m not good with timelines or scheduling so lets keep this nice and casual but I propose Oprah’s Wrestling Book Club, except instead of books, we recommend matches to one another and then talk about them.  Not in a douche-bag “oh he didn’t sell the leg and it took the match down 1/2*’s” sort of way but in a “OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT GERMAN FUCKING SUPLEX” sort of way (see terrifying suplex below).

I know I don’t have too many readers, but Mr. Manager (Mitch) over at PIZZABODYSLAM is quite popular so maybe just maybe he will reblog my post and my idea (mainly to jumpstart my lifeless blog again) and then his readers can join in. 

I don’t really have rules to my book(match) club..its just something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Somebody post a match with a youtube or vimeo or direct download link (or if it is a match you don’t have a link to, post the details and I’ll do my best to track it down because that stuff is fun to me), post it in my comments section or if PIZZABODYSLAM does a post, put it in his comment section and then we can all chat about it.  Who knows, maybe if it takes off really well we can start a message board and have one of the only wiener-free, wrestling message boards on the internet.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Anyways, so here is my first match I guess, because goddamn it blew my mind.  Antonio Inoki at age 53 (I think) has a classic with the man they call Vader.  Vader is truly the man.  

(*next post, Vader in UWFi and the worked “shoot”..stay tuned) 


Also I should point out that Youku.com (the Chinese version of YouTube) is the GREATEST for finding stuff.

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DGUSA

Just came back from my second night of back to back Dragon Gate USA.  If you ever get the chance to see Dragon Gate USA in your city, I definitely recommend going.  Top to bottom great matches with amazing tag team matches each night.  It also firmly cemented that Masaaki Mochizuki is potentially my favourite wrestler in the company.  He had great matches each night against Akira Tozawa (an awesome young wrestler) and Naruki Doi.

Here is some stiff Mochizuki awesomeness.  I love that he is a veteran but can still go shot for shot with the young guys.

Sorry this is the clipped version of the match. But it is badass none the less.

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Pro-Wrestling NOAH gets EXTREME!

Haven’t posted in a while but just saw this and had to do a quick post.  Okay they don’t really get extreme but they definitely have one of the most legit, crazy, out of control brawls I’ve ever seen (watch out for the ladies in the crowd who get annihilated) .  It feels so intense and chaotic I bought it hook line and sinker.  I wish I could understand what was going on as I’m sure it would be even better.  It definitely felt like somebody crossed the line.  

I’m not normally a fan of Rikio and Yone (or DisObey) but after seeing the ass kicking Yone was taking from either Kazunari Murakami or Katsumi Usada (sorry I’m unfamiliar with both these guys, apparently they are from the Big Mouth Loud promotion) I was cheering for his comeback all the way. 

What a great introduction to these two outsiders.  I hope there is another match in the future.

Check it out



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I’ve noticed a lot of times during puro discussions on the internet, words get tossed around like selling and psychology or lack thereof by guys like KENTA and Marufuji and I once saw this specific match as a specific reference point.  This was a 1-hour time limit draw and in my opinion it was a classic, but in other’s opinions it seemed to “lack psychology”, was terrible and had no selling or story. Sometimes I think guys just toss around the word “psychology” without a real understanding of what it means (I have absolutely no clear understanding of what it means in terms of wrestling.  I have ideas about it from watching shoot interviews and reading books and watching a shitload of matches, but I could never, ever give a clear definition).  In my opinion it really revolves around how the wrestlers get you emotionally invested in the match and the devices they use to do so (like selling or not-selling and just registering etc)  Anyways, I don’t want to start breaking down wrestling into a mathematical equation or anything because it is supposed to be a performance.  This video, in my opinion, is a good depiction of that performance.  Here is the KENTA vs. Marufuji 1 hour draw, reduced to mere-minutes without one single move.  NO MOVES, just facial expressions, selling and emotion.  If this video doesn’t evoke emotion and tell you a story (without moves which is what these guys are often accused of relying on, especially KENTA) then maybe you have no heart.  I loved this match and I love this video.

All the credit goes to KENTA, Marufuji and LighteningLad for editing their masterpiece into this short video.  Also credit to Galaxy 500 for the tunes. 

Enjoy.  Would love to know people’s opinions. 

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I watch this practically once a week

Can’t get enough of it.  Much respect to the person who created this.






I got another video coming soon made by my bro. Its a really cool concept. Hopefully I can get it online tonight or tomorrow.

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1990’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling

I’ve been working my way through a best of Michinoku Pro dvd set that I procured off the internet from IVPvideos and I have to say, 1990’s Michinoku Pro is definitely some of my favourite wrestling ever produced.  I’m a big fan of the mix of lucha-libre, martial-arts strikes, American wrestling, Japanese wrestling and comedy. 

Maybe I’m biased because the first taste of high-flying, Japanese wrestlers I ever got was Taka Michinoku and Great Sasuke in the WWF in 1997.  I remember their match at Calgary Stampede (which I rented on VHS) blowing my mind.  

Michinoku Pro was started in 1993 by the Great Sasuke as North Eastern Wrestling.  It was one of the first region specific indie federations in Japan and was an offshoot of the Gran Hamada’s UWF (which was an off-shoot of the Mexican promotion UWA).  Sasuke and others started in the UWF (along with Yoshihiro Asai, a young unmasked Ultimo Dragon) and then eventually branched out to form their own promotion.  Ultimo Dragon did not go to Michinoku Pro but later wrestled for WAR and then went on to form Toryumon which was the pre-cursor to Dragon Gate.  

You can see the similarities in the styles of all these promotions and trace them all back to Hamada’s UWF (a great promotion as well).  

This style of wrestling (or variations of it) is also becoming popular in North America with DGUSA and Chikara (which may have more lucha libre influence than others).

Perhaps the most stand out match in Michinoku Pro history is from their anniversary show on October 10th 1996.  It was a five on five tag team match featuring

Kaientai DX (TAKA Michinoku/Shiryu/Dick Togo/Men’s Teioh/Shoichi Funaki) vs. Super Delphin/Gran Hamada/Gran Naniwa/Tiger Mask IV/Masato Yakushiji

Kaientai has also appeared in the WWF/E mostly as comedy jobbers.  Here you can see them at their full greatness.  







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Super J Tag Tournament

Just found out (via ROH’s website and then a little research) that they are holding the first ever (actually second Jr. Tag Tournament in NJPW but first of this name) SUPER J TAG TOURNAMENT.  Considering my intense love for the Super J Cup tournaments (2009’s was really great and I think perhaps on the level of the mid-nineties tournaments)  I am extremely excited to check out this tag tournament.  It happens May 8, 2010 and has a really interesting looking line-up. 

Sometimes I wish that the American Indies would hold some sort of J-Cup tournament.

Anyway, here is the first round:

1. SUPER J TAG TOURNAMENT - Round 1: Gedo & KUSHIDA vs. Kota Ibushi Dramatic Dream Team & Austin Creed
2. SUPER J TAG TOURNAMENT - Round 1: Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Mascara Dorada & Valiente
3. SUPER J TAG TOURNAMENT - Round 1: Koji Kanemoto & El Samurai vs. Tiger Mask & Davey Richards
4. SUPER J TAG TOURNAMENT - Round 1: Jushin Thunder Liger & Nobuo Yoshihashi vs. Fujita “Jr.” Hayato Michinoku Pro & Taro Nohashi Michinoku Pro

Also it looks like in late June NJPW is holding a 3-day openweight 6-man tag team tournament.  I’m excited to see who pops up in that one.

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The Fujita “Jr” Hayato love continues

Sorry to sound like a broken record over here.  Just one more quick post about Fujita Jr. Hayato.

Just thought I should link to the first ever Fujita match I saw because it is fantastic.  I promise a post on a new subject coming soon. 

For now enjoy this:




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