NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIII: Day 1

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May 21st, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

Welcome to the first day of 2016’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Today’s show is headlined by KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O’Reilly – a repeat of last year’s final – and also features Sydal vs. Taguchi, BUSHI vs. Gedo and Finlay vs. Romero, as well as an undercard of tag matches with most of New Japan’s top stars involved.

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NJPW Lion’s Gate: Project 2

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May 19th, 19:00 from Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo

As with Project 1, this card is primarily a showcase for the Young Lions of New Japan and youngish wrestlers of NOAH, with a couple of veterans from both companies making an appearance. Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jay White, Yoshinari Ogawa vs. David Finlay, and Go Shiozaki vs. Juice Robinson are among the matches on what looks like being a solid show.

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NJPW Wrestling Dontaku

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May 3rd, 17:00 from the Fukuoka Kokusai Centre, Fukuoka

New Japan follows up last month’s excellent Invasion Attack with Wrestling Dontaku. Due to the recent earthquakes in Kyushu, Dontaku’s sister show –  Wrestling Hinokuni – was cancelled and its matches rescheduled. The Junior Tag and NEVER title matches were added to today’s show, which means that all but one of the company’s titles are being defended. The show is headlined by Naito vs. Ishii for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

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NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku

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April 27th, 19:00 from Hakata Sutaren, Fukuoka

Wrestling Hinokuno was due to take place on April 29th in Kumamoto. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there were earthquakes in the region a few weeks ago and as a result the show was cancelled. The matches set for that card were rescheduled, so the Junior Tag and NEVER title matches have been added to Wrestling Dontaku on May 3rd, while the CHAOS vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón eight-man tag, Tanahashi vs. Fale, and Omega vs. Elgin for the Intercontinental title were added to today’s show.

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NJPW Invasion Attack 2016

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April 10th, 16:00 from the Ryōgoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), Tokyo

Big show today headlined by Okada vs. Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight title, with all but one of New Japan’s titles also being defended. Will Ospreay makes his debut against KUSHIDA in a much-anticipated bout, CHAOS vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón continues, Shibata battles another of The Old Bastards* (*not actual stable name), and Yoshi Tatsu returns after a broken neck and disastrous attempt at English-language commentary (which today is provided by Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino).

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Njpw dominion 2015

Hey Scott- I noticed that NJPW hasnt been getting much run lately…people are calling okada vs aj 5 stars from today’s show…any thoughts?

I thought that last minute or so that led to the finish was one of the greatest pieces of wrestling I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think the match itself was even the best AJ-Okada match I’ve seen or anything. I’d go a solid ****1/2 on it. Haven’t watched the rest of the show because I ain’t got time for those four hour shows on NJ World. Might check out some of the G1 and I’m pulling for Nakamura hardcore this year.

The SmarK Rant for NJPW on AXS – 05.22.15

The SmarK Rant for New Japan on AXS – 05.22.15
My DVR found two episodes of the show on AXS tonight, so we’ll start with last week’s show and proceed from there. And yeah, I can watch it on NJPW World with the original commentary, but not on my TV and not with Mauro Ranallo.
Taped from YOYOGI NATIONAL GYM, June 2014. This would be the Best of the Super Junior 2014 finals.

Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo & Josh Barnett, who are clearly by leaps and bounds the best wrestling commentary team in the world right now. Like, 5 minutes of them and you’ll wonder how you put up with Michael Cole or the rotating geeks of NXT.
Semi-Final: Taichi v. Kushida
Taichi, apparently a very poor sport as part of those wacky Suzuki-Gun hooligans, attacks Kushida with a chair and runs him into the post, then does the old “breakaway chair over the head” gimmick in the ring. Japanese fans love that shit. Taichai and TAKA beat on Alex Shelley on the floor as well, which has Mauro questioning whether “WWF referee Danny Davis” is the official tonight. The match finally starts for real and Taichi gets two, then he follows with a clothesline in the corner, but Kushida fights back with a pair of kicks from the apron and a SPRINGBOARD CHOP. Taka cuts off a dive like a dick, so Kushida hits both heels with a super dive instead. Back in, Taichi with a high kick into a sitout powerbomb for two and the LEATHER PANTS ARE OFF. Now shit is about to get real. Kushida comes back with an enzuigiri , but a moonsault hits knees and both guys are messed up from that one. Taichi grabs a microphone and throws it into Kushida’s hands, then does the old Eddie Guerrero sell to try for a DQ. No dice from the ref, and Kushida comes back before the ref gets wiped out now. Finally Shelley has had enough and superkicks both heels, allowing Kushida to roll into a kimura and finish at 5:18. Some good stuff, but this was way too much nonsense and interference. **1/2
Semi-Final: Ricochet v. Ryusuke Taguchi
I still don’t get how WWE could seriously pass on Ricochet. Just goes to show that not every decision from HHH’s brain is gold. Ricochet flips into a headscissors, but Taguchi dumps him and flattens him with a somersault dive. Back in and they trade forearms, and then trade dropkicks into the corner before Taguchi gets the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Taguchi with a pair of rolling suplexes, but Ricochet fights out, so Taguchi hits a front suplex for two. Ricochet with a front rollup for two and he lands on his feet out of a Tiger Suplex, then hits a superman punch and Benydriller kick to finish at 3:40. Well that was brisk. ** They edited about 3:00 out of the match, but damned if I can see where.
Best of Super Junior Finals: Ricochet v. Kushida
Kudos to Kushida for the Marty McFly entrance gear, by the way. Test of strength to start and Ricochet gets to flip around out of that, but Kushida holds him down with an armbar. We take a break and return (with no edit) with Ricochet backflipping into a headscissors as my wife is busy cracking jokes until she actually watches the match and suddenly decides she loves Ricochet and never wants him to get hit in his beautiful, beautiful face. And again, WWE PASSED on this guy. Kushida tosses him (not the face!) and works on the arm back in the ring while the tournament losers all watch at ringside. Barnett has a nice touch, saying that they need to be out there wondering why they’re not in the ring right now and what they have to do to make sure they are next year. Because wins and losses DO matter. Kushida throws kicks at the arm, but Ricochet puts him on the floor with a high kick and follows with the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP. If I was ever going to start a band, that’s what we’d call ourselves. Back in, Ricochet throws some stiff kicks and gets a low kick for two, into a springboard senton and flying forearm for two. Spinning forearm off the middle rope gets two. Ricochet tries a handspring elbow, but Kushida dropkicks him in the face in mid-move, and then puts him on the floor for a swanton bomb off the top to the floor. Well that was crazy. Kushida dropkicks him on the way in and follows with a moonsault for two as we take a break. Back with Kushida hitting a kick, but Ricochet counters with a GTS variation for two. That was more like a gutbuster followup, which actually looked more impressive than Punk’s usual version. Springboard SSP misses, however, and Kushida rolls him up for two. They slug it out and Kushida kicks the hell out of the arm and follows with a handspring elbow into the Hoverboard Lock (kimura), which has Ricochet frantically making the ropes. Kushida kicks him in the face for two. Dragon Suplex gets two. Kushida misses a corkscrew moonsault (“No water in the pool!” declares Mauro because he’s AWESOME) and they slug it out from their knees, which leads to Ricochet hitting a superman punch into a northern lights suplex for two. To the top and they fight over a suplex until Kushida goes down, but he fights back with a handstand kick. Ricochet catches him with a GTS from the middle rope, however, and gets a 630 (!!!!!!!!) splash for TWO. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. We take another break and return with Ricochet probably wondering what more he has to do to win this thing, but now Kushida gets an enzuigiri as Mauro is just losing his shit and it’s great. Kushida handsprinngs right into an electric chair, but reverses into the Hoverboard Lock from there somehow. Ricochet rolls him into the Benydriller, however, and wins the tournament at 23:16. The commentary made this into an epic. ****1/2
Afterwards, Kushida is pretty bummed, but he’ll get back to the top next year.
Ricochet cuts his victory promo in the ring, and lays out the challenge to Junior champion Kota Ibushi, which will be the featured match on next week’s show. So much beautiful in one ring!
The Pulse
Yeah, you know I’m all over this show now.

NJPW 2014 almanac

Scott- Not sure if you've seen this:
https://payhip.com/b/pLRE It's an almanac for NJPW from 2014…it's pretty through and well written (a bit generous ratings wise). It's also free and a good primer on NJPW today. Check it out… More importantly, how good was that first episode of NJPW on AXS?  Mauro Renallo is a BEAST and that was exactly what people wanted out of a New Japan show on US TV, with someone to explain all the backstories and call it like a sport.  

How to Order Wrestle Kingdom 9 on NJPW World

Less than 10 hours away from the biggest show of the year. The Tokyo Dome is apparently sold out, which means over 60,000 in attendance, their biggest crowd in a decade. The main event, IC title match, and NEVER Openweight title match in particular look incredibly strong. Lots of North American talent all over the card including AJ Styles, Shelton Benjamin, Young Bucks, reDRagon, Alex Shelley, Davey Boy Smith Jr, Jeff Jarrett, Karl Anderson, and more. The best part? It’s only 999 yen, which is only about 8 DOLLARS~!

The homeboy, puro historian and tape trader Roy Lucier has put together a video on how to order the NJPW network. It only took me about 3 or 4 minutes, following the video. Not only do you get tonight’s gigantic PPV, also this week you would get the Kōrakuen Hall show, and two NJPW/CMLL shows later this month… for only 8 dollars and some change. Tonight’s show is a CAN’T MISS. Enjoy…

NJPW Dontaku 2014 PPV Review


NJPW Dontaku PPV Review



Date: 5/3/2014

Venue:  Fukuoka Kokusai Center


IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Matt Jackson
& Nick Jackson (c) vs. Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov:
I feel like the Young Bucks would be money in WWE. They
are incredibly athletic and can do some flat out crazy acrobatic things in the
ring. They just need to learn the psychology behind when, where, and why to do
something. It would make their matches feel more structured rather than at times disjointed. They have all the tools; they
just need to read the manual, kind of like Tyler Black before he came to WWE. Nick hops off the corner, attempting to kick
Romero. Romero ducks out of the way, making Nick accidentally kick partner in the
face. Koslov fights off both Nick and Matt after he receives a hot-tag. He does his trademark dance /kicking spot.  Koslov
lifts picks up Romero and he catches both the Young Buck’s with a
knee. Nick comes back with a shining wizard that gets a two-count. The Bucks
hits their Spiked Tombstone on Romero, but Koslov breaks up the pin. The Spike
Tombstone looks extremely lethal but loses so much significance as just a near-fall
move. A move like that should not only finish a match, but also put someone out
of action. They send Koslov to the corner, setting up the More Bang for Your
Buck. They hit it and it ends this @ 15:09. A little over the top and goofy, but it had solid action and got the crowd into the
show. It would have been better if it had some letup, but it’s worth noting that Romero and Koslov felt at home as rah-rah babyfaces.** 3/4
Special Tag Match: Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka vs. Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin:
I’ve heard terrible things about this. Some have actually called it the worst match of the year. This starts off with them all fighting on the floor. Suzuki hits Yank with a chair and then Suzuki and Iizuka exchange in a horribly contrived chair
dueling spot. Shelton hits Iizuka with a superkick as Yano exposes the steel
turnbuckle. Suzuki enters the ring and tries to put Yano into a rare-naked
choke. Iizuka sneaks behind him to choke him with a chain. After more lethargic
brawling, this borefest finally ends when Iizuka and Shelton brawl into the
crowd  and Suzuki pushes down the referee to draw a DQ @ 9:04. They handcuff Suzuki to the ropes, but he breaks out and hits Komatsu repeatedly with a chair until it breaks. It wasn’t the worst match of the year so far, but it was pretty close. Poorly booked and called in the ring. There were too many moments where the wrestlers didn’t know what to do and way too much unenthusiastic brawling. Everything was very discombobulated, and the finish was straight out of WCW or TNA.  DUD
NWA World Heavyweight Title: Satoshi Kojima (c ) Wes Briscoe:

Briscoe is living proof that you can get by on your family’s merits. Wes works over the knee of Kojima. He does not break a five
count after having in a leg lock, which gets some jeers from the crowd. I don’t know why he wasn’t DQ’ed. Anyways, Kojima fights back with chops and that Brisco to close his eyes due to the pain. Kojima hits the Koji cutter but only gets a two count out of it and then hits a lariat to pick up the win @ 9:52. After the match, Stan Hansen presents
the title to Kojima. Please, no more Briscoe. He’s green in every facet of wrestling and shouldn’t be wrestling in front of camera until he dramatically improves. Kojima tried, but he would have been better off working with a broomstick.
Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata &
Manabu Nakanishi:
Both Shiata and Nagata brawl on the floor. Shibata hits a running boot, forcing Nagata to hit
the mat hard. Back in the ring, they go back and forth with slaps and boots to
the face, ending with Shibata hitting a running knee into Nagata’s gut.
Nakanishi goes to the top-rope and hits a drop kick right into Goto’s chest. That would have received a “Holy Shit” chant in America. Nakanishi locks in the
torture rack on Gota as Nagata locks in a Fujiwara arm bar on Shibata.
Goto tosses Nakanishi up for the Shouten Kai, but he botches by not catching
him on the way down. Thus, he locks in a sharpshooter, forcing Nakanishi
to tap @ 11:00. Besides the botched ending, this was better than it had any right to be. It was a
rock-solid tag match with action and memorable moments. ***

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Ryusuke
Taguchi: 
Taguchi retired Prince Devitt at Invasion Attack and that earned him a title
shot for the championship. Ibushi hits a moonsault onto Taguchi. He then hits a
Death Valley Driver and follows it up with a moonsault. Ibushi counters a
german suplex by landing on his feet. Ibushi executes a snapping german suxplex
and follows it up with a standing corkscrew. Ibushi misses a 450 splash,
allowing Taguchi to mount a comeback. Ibuishi delivers a powerbomb but only
gets two. He hits Taguchi with a Phoenix, and that ends it @ 14:04, allowing
him to retain the JHT. They came up with some clever spots and did not sacrifice logic or psychology for them. The intensity and urgency to win was what made me emotionally invest into this, though.  *** ¼
Tomohiro Ishii © vs. Tomoaki Honma for the Never Title:

This was the most anticipated match on the card, as its two wrestlers that leave it all on the line and then some when they wrestle. They start with some stiff dueling chops. Back and forth they go. Honma delivers a
sick looking DDT and follows it up with a running superman punch. He delivers a
face buster and then a diving headbutt. Ishii fights back with a delayed
vertical suplex and hits a last ride powerbomb, resulting in a close
near-fall. Homna fights back by hitting a brainbuster and getting a close
near-fall as well.  The crowd was pretty dead before this. Now they are totally into this PPV. They start hitting each other back and forth with forearems
and headbutts. Ishii hits the Sliding D, but it is only good for a two count.
He follows it up with a brainbuster that ends the contest @ 14:44. The fans really wanted to see Honma win here. He is almost in the same situation as Ishii was a few years ago. Both were extremely over, worked hard, and the fans wanted to see them win the Never Title. Anyways, this was an awesome display of strong-style. Super hard-hitting and extremely stiff. Honma also played a great courageous daredevil that did everything to overcome the uber brute strength
of Ishii. But he used his cranium as
a weapon one too many times, and it made his head a vulnerable target. His courageousness ultimately led to his downfall. Some clever psychology and storytelling on display there. **** ¼
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito & Togi Makabe
& Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga
& Bad Luck Fale:
Eliminations only can happen via pinfall, submission or throwing
someone over the top rope. The Bullet Club gang up on Naito.
Fale hits an Avalanche in the corner, but Liger breaks up the pin. Fale goes for a Samoan Spike, but Naito rolls him up and eliminates
him. Tonga runs in and tosses Naito over the top rope. Liger hits a Thesz Press
on Tonga, good enough to get a pin fall. Anderson hit Liger with a Stun Gun and it eliminates Liger. Gallows and Anderson
eventually get the heat on Makabe. He fights back and clotheslines Anderson
over the top. Gallows tries to toss Tanasashi over the top, but he skins the cat.
He tries to choke slam both, but they block it. Tanashi hits the slingblade,
Makabe deliver the King Kong Dee drop, and Tanasashi finishes it off with the
High Fly Flow, picking up the win @ 15:40. This suffered from being rushed and having rapid-fire eliminations, but it was still enjoyable. The babyfaces were put in a peril situation, as they had to overcome
the odds, and it was booked in a manner where no one was sure if they would
overcome the odds or not. ***
Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Daniel &
Rolles Gracie:
 Nakamura hits Daniel with some knees in the corner. Daniel goes
for a submission maneuver, but it is reversed with a kimura. Nakamura goes for
an armbar, but Daniel manages to tag Rolles in. Sakuraba receives a tag, and he
hits a jumping stomp onto Rolles. Rolles, however, gets the back of Sakuraba,
allowing him to choke him out @ 8:20. It was just a buffer match, but I do not
want to see faux MMA in pro-wrestling. If someone wanted to watch MMA, he or she would watch the real
thing. Not some choreographed imitation of it. I think I speak for everyone when I
say enough with the Gracies. O
Kazuchika Okada vs.
A.J. Styles for the IWGP Title: 
Styles dropkicks Okada to the floor. He
distracts the referee, allowing The Bullet Club to beat up Okada. They toss him back in the ring. Okada manages to hit a somersault
dive on all of The Bullet Club’s members. However,  AJ takes over the match by
sending Okada back to the outside. The Bullet Club put another beatdown Okada, but the referee catches them in the act and kicks them out. Back in, Okada hits a
flapjack and a DDT. That gets a two-count. He follows that up by hitting a top rope elbow and then calls for the Rainmaker. AJ counters it and then locks in calf
slicer. Okada to make it to the ropes, though. Styles hits Pele kick and atomic
slam, but it is only good for a two-count. AJ stays on offense with an inverted
DDT. He goes to the top, but misses a spiral tap. Okada hits the tombstone
pile driver and signals for the Rainmaker again. The Bullet Club
distract him by getting on the apron. That allows the man in a hoodie to
clothesline Okada. It ends up being Yujiro!? That is, without a doubt, a huge swerve. He is one of the top Japanese babyfaces and he joined an American-themed stable. Anyways, he hits the Tokyo Pimps and then Styles hits a brainbuster on Okada. He finishes it with a Styles
Clash at 24:40. AJ Styles is your new IWGP champion. This was a well-structured, dramatic rollercoaster ride that had peaks and valleys, transitioned to higher magnitudes, and had a story that escalated to the crescendo. NJPW prides itself on shenanigans free competition, so a finish like that is a total slap in the face to the fans (in a good way). That’s what the people who criticized it didn’t understand. It’s not an overdone finish in Japan. See how less can be so much more. **** for the match and an additional ¼* for the memorable heel turn. **** ¼
Final Thoughts: It was not as good as their 2012-13 shows,
but it was still a good show. There were two ****+ matches
and a several of ***+ ones too. That is enough for a recommendation. But just be prepared to
fast-forward through the second and Gracie’s match, though.

NJPW House Show 5/5/14


The Beer & Coffee Rant for NJPW’s Alive (House Show Tour) Day 1

Live from Okayama Orange Hall in Okayama, Japan –5/5/14

Crazy concept here, and by crazy I mean something that makes complete sense and should have been done long ago. Maybe TNA already does this, but if you think I follow TNA you’re reading the wrong blog. This is a 20 minute video package of an NJPW house show from earlier this week, courtesy of the NJPW YouTube page. First half covers the undercard, second half gives us a pretty good look at what seems to be an awesome main event.

We begin with STAN HANSEN~! I know some people still can’t follow the product because of the language barrier, but this product gets more American by the day. The World Champ, the World Tag Champs, and the World Jr. Tag Champs are all cocky white heels representing Bullet Club at the moment. Point being, we start the show with an English in-ring promo. “Thank you, thank you. Now, let’s get ready to start New Japan Pro Wrestling matches. Let’s start!” Everybody putting their horns in the air with Hansen
was pretty awesome.

Kushida taking on the fiery youngster Sho Tanaka is the kind of athletic, well-received singles match that would make these PPV undercards easier to watch than the 8-man tags with the old guys that they trot out month after month. The next two matches were standard fare, but Kojima chopping the piss out of Captain New Japan didn’t bother me in the least. After a Yuji Nagata segment announcing the location of their September PPV, we get a Suzuki Gun 6-man match. This actually looked more lively than their typical TV matches with Suzuki doing a clever little bit with the referee for laughs. That
old lady in the front row when Jado did the Flair Flop.. Not only did
she love it, she clearly paid to see it. Yano-isms lead to a pin via roll up. The Yano/Suzuki feud in a nutshell, basically.

Then we got Naito & Desperado vs. Gedo & Yoshi-Hashi. Naito looked like one of the 10 best wrestlers walking the Earth, what’s new though? And finally, that Main Event. Representing the squad of Chaos, we have Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii. You could make a strong case all three belong on the short list of Best in the World; definitely one of the factors contributing to the rise of New Japan. Taking them on is the team of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (who is fresh off of one of the best matches of the year against Ishii two nights earlier). It goes without saying but Nakamura’s charisma just jumps off the screen like no other, even on the house show circuit. We actually get almost half of the full match here. It looked tremendous. We get a Nakamura promo to send the folks home happy. He even teases the “YeaOh” before delivering.

We’re not done however, as we get back stage promos from Okada, and then Nakamura, who has words for Daniel Gracie.

This was a pretty good introduction for those trying to figure out why the Japanese-born majority of this roster has captured the attention of so many from North America. It also served as an entertaining recap for fans of the product interested in an otherwise non-televised show. The great thing about these, if they continue to air them, is that the cost of one camera/cameraman can’t be much, and if the crowd sucks or the show doesn’t click that day then you don’t have to post it. All in all, a very cool video and a solid idea that I’d enjoy seeing more of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdzWaUYhk28

NJPW Road To Dontaku

The Beer & Coffee Rant for NJPW’s “Road To Dontaku” PPV Live from Kōrakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan – 4/19/14
Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask IV & BUSHI vs. Mascara Dorada, El Desperado & “The Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi

Taguchi and Tiger Mask start with a tight, crisp sequence as the announcers recap Taguchi’s defeat of Prince Devitt at Invasion Attack. Mask looking more invested than normal here. BUSHI and Dorada enter and the Lucha begins as this match leans more towards a Fantasticamania feel by the minute. Dorada tags into Desperado and they get off a mainy looking Reverse Sunset Flip into a Basement Dropkick. Liger in now, perhaps tuning up for his ROH World title match against Adam Cole in May, withsome world class showboating. BUSHI regains control and locks in the Indigenous Peoples Death Lock but Liger makes the ropes. Taguchi interferes which riles up Liger. Dorada does his pirouette-on-the-middle-rope-from-one-side-of-the-ring-to-the-other-side thingy on Tiger Mask and he’s a fuego de casa but misses a moonsault off the top. Hot tags and BUSHI sends Taguchi flying with a missile dropkick, spinaroonie and an Asai Moonsault to the floor, called a quebrada on commentary. Tope suicida from Desperado, tope suicida from Tiger Mask, and a double rotation corkscrew from Dorada. Taguchi attempts the Dodon, but BUSHI reverses for a close nearfall. Gourdbuster hits for Taguchi, followed by the Dodon @ 9:21 for the pin. *** Same guys they always throw out there for the “low card masks” match, but the addition of Dorada kept it fresh. All 6 guys raise their hands in unison after the match, and Liger wishes Taguchi luck on May 3rd challenging for the Jr. Heavyweight championship.
NWA World Tag Team Champions Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yohei Komatsu
NWA World Champ Kojima looking closer to 100% and healthier by the day, Tenzan not so much. Komatsu moving his way up the card, rightfully so. The champs attempt a double suplex early on but Nakanishi (the former Kurasawa) reverses by suplexing both at once. Yohei tags in and he’s immediately cut in half by a chop from Kojima. More double teaming from the champs until Komatsu finally hits a dropkick and tags in Nakanishi who gets his shit in. Nakanishi to the TOP ROPE for the missile dropkick. Hooks the leg for 2, and throws Tenzan in a torture rack. Kojima goes to break, but Nakanishi is the proverbial immovable object. Kojima off the ropes, and Nakanishi throws Ten onto Koji. Komatsu back in. Huge forearm from the kid. Rolling heel kick from Tenzan drills him. Kojima in with 184 chops in the corner. Icchauzo, Bakayaro! Flying elbow gets 2. Nakanishi in to break it up but he eats a 3D. Kojima rips off the elbow pad and sets up for the Cozy Lariat, but Komatsu slaps the old man right across the face and hits a bridging German for 3 but Nooooooo… Kojima kicks out. Crowd Going Banana. The incredulous look on Komatsu’s face is just awesome. The kid hits the ropes but gets murder death killed by a Cozy Lariat @ 11:05 to give the champs the win. *** ¼ Komatsu was great holding his own with three former IWGP Champs. Building almost came unglued for that German. Minoru Suzuki, Shelton X Benjamin, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi vs. Gedo, Jado, Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka No Shinpei Nogami on commentary tonight so we are deprived of Iizuka’s passionate art until the next show. This super pumped Saturday night crowd screams Kaze Ni Nare for Suzuki’s entrance. Such a different crowd than the weekday shows that didn’t sell out earlier this month. Pier Six brawl to start. X and Iizuka brawl up the stairs of the aisle in a strange combination. Back in the ring right before the 20 count as this settles into a wrestling match. Delayed butterfly suplex by X on Iizuka. Gedo in, but he gets Oklahoma Stampeded by Shelton from one side of the ring to the other. X looking way more motivated than normal, I don’t think I’d be the first to say he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since signing. Everybody in, they brawl outside again, and settle back into a wrestling match. TAKA & Taichi do the quick 3-count spot! Crowd pumped as Gedo makes the tag to Jado. Chops and Woos. Feigns a Flair Flop but stays on his feet for a big pop. Yano tags in, takes off the turnbuckle padding and fights with Suzuki for the RVD thumbs spot. They kinda fuck up the last one but the crowd still loves it. X hits a spinebuster on Yano for a close two. Suzuki grabs a chair but is foiled as Iizuka hits the Iron Fingers to the throat of Taichi allowing Yano to get the roll up @ 11:06 to give CHAOS the win. ** Fun match that kept the line moving. Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito, Tomoaki Honma & KUSHIDA
The guy in the front row who pushes Yujiro off his girl is the best. KUSHIDA tells Ishii he’s coming for the title, a program I assumed they blew off at Wrestle World ’14 already. We start with KUSHIDA & Yujiro trading athletic counters back and forth. A duck under/leapfrog/armdrag turns into a handspring heel kick knocking Ishii & YOSHI off the apron, and then he nails Ishii with a dropkick on the floor. Naito in as he and Honma hit a slingshot into a headbutt on the knees. Fishermanbuster gets two for Yujiro. KUSHIDA gets thrown to the outside where he’s met by Ishii who crushes him with a whip into the guardrail and chairshots as they brawl backstage. Back in, Ishii headbutts KUSHIDA into oblivion in the corner. Ishii is done fucking around and wants to see how hard KUSHIDA can bring the slaps. Ishii no-sells the hands of KUSHIDA and cuts him in two with a chop that floors him. HASHI in with a sleeper to bring the crowd to a unified clap and KUSHIDA comes back with a twisting DDT. Tag into Naito. Sweet ass dropkick and rolling senton for two. HASHI changes the tide with a neckbreaker. Hangman’s neckbreaker gets two. He gets a huge lariat off the ropes, tags into Ishii, and now we finally get some motherfucking ISHII vs. NAITO~! Ishii pounds him in the corner like a carpenter but Naito gets a DDT off the ropes and tags out. Already? Honma with some killer chops but Ishii just rams his head into Honma’s. Powerslam follows and Ishii sets up the superbuster from the 2nd rope and nails it for two. Powerbomb on Honma for a close two. Ishii sets up for a fatal brainbuster but gets triple teamed with a series of kicks leading to a big lariat for two, shadowed by stereo planchas. Crowd way into this. Kokeshi headbutt off the top to finish but Ishii out of the way. Ishii wins a contest of lariats and goes for the brainbuster to win but Honma kills him first with a Kokeshi Driver out of nowhere for the mega upset @ 12:26 before putting his foot on Ishii’s chest and telling him he’s coming for the title now. Crowd chants Honma! *** ¾ Not enough Ishii vs. Naito but still a killer little six-man with a finish that made the building come unglued. We hit the intermission and they pimp some stuff. Nothing like a 2CW intermission however.
Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan
GHC Champ Nagata trades kicks and lariats with Goto in a stalemate. CNJ tags in and now we get some Shibata. This can’t end up well, but a wrestling sequence is surprisingly more even than one would think. Shibata works quite the lengthy headlock, and throws him out of the ring a couple times. He drills him with some trademark Shibatas to the chest, but nothing major. Just a lot of posturing. Captain tags out and we go back to the GHC title dream matches. Shibata pounds Nagata into the corner to set up for a big stiff hesitation dropkick but Nagata pops up, trails him and nails an exploder for two. Shibata bows up and they trade blows until Nagata hits the deck. Goto in to hit the big spin kick in the corner and a back suplex gets two. CNJ bringing it to Goto now. An enziguri and a cross body set up a flying headbutt off the top that misses, but he recovers and hits a rock bottom for two on Goto. Captain sets up but Shibata just smacks him in the back of the head; think Full Force in House Party. Goto hits Captain with a lariat, but CNJ completely no sells it (hahaha) and digs in with the Caribbean Death Grip. Goto headbutts out and hits a discus clothesline. Shoten Kai (sitout hellavator) gets the three @ 10:53 ** ½ Action was good and the point was to make Goto & Shibata an established act and not a novelty, but tagging them rarely (in killer matches) worked better unless they were planning on giving them the straps, which has apparently been dropped as a plan. That’s the second time this year that Shibata’s had title programs dropped out of nowhere when it appeared he was on his way to some gold. He’s become a verb at this point.
Shinsuke Nakamura & The Forever Hooligans vs. Bad Luck Fale & The Young Bucks This marks the first time Nakamura & Fale have squared off since their instant classic bloodbath from the NJ Cup finals last month. Fale attacks from behind to start, Nakamura gains the advantage and fakes a kick to the chest to hit a kick to the face. Shinsuke chants. Matt Jackson in, gets taken down and Nakamura teases a boot to the nuts before sparing the kid and tags in Alex Koslov. This crowd hates the American Bucks so much that they chant “Russia! Russia!” for Koslov. Some fancy footwork from the Russian and he offers a handshake (w/ Jackson’s non-broken hand). Jackson tries to attack but gets flipped and a tag into Romero who gets a boot and tags back into Koslov, who gets a boot and tags into Romero, who gets a boot and tags Nakamura, who gets a boot and tags Romero back in and so on. Crowd loves it. They double team for a bit and Koslov grabs the ushanka hat and hits the kicks. Bucks to the outside and Koslov hits a corkscrew plancha. Fale attacks him and the Bucks take control back in the ring. Unfortunately it seems Matt has ditched my favorite new addition to his moveset, the “Smell My Cast” facelock. Handspring backrake from Nick, which the crowd is now in on. Corkscrew neckbreaker by Matt onto Nick’s knee. Fale comes in and drills CHAOS in the corner, he goes for Koslov in the other corner but drills the Bucks off the apron by accident. Some additional Bucks miscommunication leads to the big tag to Nakamura. Strikes to Fale in the corner. Shinsuke dances on his face in the corner and connects with the big knee. Fale back up and they brawl mid-ring. Bucks and the Hooligans back in and Romero going crazy with clotheslines from corner to corner. Too much tag team action to call and it’s all non-stop perpetual motion. Nakamura breaks up a two and Fale throws him out. Bucks go to hit more Bang for your Buck, which is broken up and followed by a Romero tope suicida. The Hooligans set up for the Contract Killer, Fale breaks it but eats a backstabber and a Boma Ye to the back of the head. Contract Killer finishes Nick Jackson @ 12:20 **** Everyone looked strong here and the Hooligans/Bucks stuff in the middle was top shelf. Romero cuts a promo after the match vowing to take the titles when they collide in Fukuoka. IWGP Heavyweight Champion “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga (non-title) The champ doesn’t even have time to hit the pose on the turnbuckle before Tonga attacks from behind. Okada gets whipped into the guardrail. Tonga goes to F5 him onto the commentary, but drops him throat first onto the guardrail instead. Back in, Tonga misses a Stinger splash at about 140 mph. Okada hits a flapjack (with the kip-up to match) and a DDT gets two. Body slam, to the top and the BEST Flying Elbow in the business. Rainmaker attempt but Tonga grabs the ref to break and hits a fireman’s carry into a flapjack; called facebuster on commentary. That gets two and Tonga does some more coiling. He connects with the splash this time. He locks on a choke but gets countered into a “neckbreaker dropu”. Okada hits the Top 3 Ever dropkick, and then straight to the Rainmaker for a quick three @ 6:16 ** ¾ Okada’s “Are you fucking kidding me?” facials are the shit. Gedo cuts the requisite killer promo.So CHAOS goes 3-1 on the night, only losing on a gigantic upset. IWGP World Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe (non-title)
Machine Gun Karl starts with Tanahashi and he gives a clean break but Gallows hangs onto to the Ace’s hair from the apron. Makabe & Gallows in now. Doc with the double bird and a big, hearty “Fuck You Japanese”. That’s a quote. Makabe gets a lariato and tags Tanahashi back in. Anderson with some heel tactics from the outside so Tanahashi drills him to the floor and now everybody’s brawling. Chairshots ensue. Gallows choking Makabe with the man’s own chain. They barely break the 20 count and spill right back to the outside. Tanahashi just barely gets in by 20 again. Some double teaming from the champs, standard stuff. Anderson back in and hooks a chinlock, as the crowd builds itself back up. Hiroshi misses a dropkick and Anderson lands a senton, but gets caught with a dragon screw while attempting a modified gun stun. Finally makes the tag to Makabe who connects with 10 fists in the corner, but Gallows lays him out with the 12th Step and tags out. Some quality shit talk from Karl leads to him eating a lariat and Tanahashi back in now with a flying forearm. Gallows obliterates Makabe into the guardrail on the outside, while Tanahashi hits knees on a High Fly Flow attempt. He catches a huge Anderson boot to the face off a Gallows fireman’s carry and they hit the 3D II for two. Magic Killer set up but Makabe breaks it up until he catches another 12th Step and Anderson impales Tanahashi with a Bernard Driver for a close two. Awesome. Crowd is rallying their hero who evades a couple gun stun attempts and gets a backslide for two but catches a boot from Gallows. Makabe gets involved and double clotheslines the champs into next week. Tanahashi hits the slingblade, Makabe hits the King Kong knee drop, and Tanahashi wraps it up with the High Fly Flow on Anderson @ 14:47 to send the crowd home happy. *** ½ Gallows just isn’t the guy to throw out there in the main event picture. Totally different crowd though, compared to the weeknight shows that led to Invasion Attack, and this weekend crowd totally ate up that main event. Tanahashi goes to leave but the crowd screams no. He teases that he’ll stay, then teases that he’ll leave and finally decides to stay in the ring to the crowd’s delight. He does the air guitar routine a half dozen times. They chant this fucker’s name seemingly forever as the crowd begs with tears in their eyes for encore after encore. They won’t even leave until they touch him on his way back to the dressing room, as he shakes hands with everybody in the crowd. It’s really the only thing you could evercompare to Hogan’s famous pose downs in the 80’s. It’s something else. So now the tag team of Makabe & Tanahashi will be further known as “King Ace”, and they want the belts. Name may take some getting used to, but a summer feud with them defending against Goto & Shibata (who Nagata says he wants another match with as well) should fill out the months leading up to the G1. Plus the AJ Styles thingand a couple months of Ishii & Honma beating the living shit out of each other. Really breezy, fast paced show with a slew of fun 10 minute matches that didn’t overstay their welcome and set up a couple feuds for the summer. No match of the year type stuff, but a definite thumbs up, recommended show. — Drunksuke Muraco

Hey, Finally An NJPW Review!

No big introduction needed, Doc Muraco, the new NJPW PPV guy. Much like Puro I’m not here to crack jokes, just facts. With that out of the way… 


The Beer & Coffee Rant for NJPW’s Wataru Inoue Retirement Memorial PPV

Live from Kōrakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan – 4/2/14 





Tonight we pay tribute to the career of Wataru Inoue, whose neck is apparently so banged up that he can’t even do a retirement match. On paper looking like a one match show. Main Event is the #1 contenders to the IWGP Tag Titles, Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata, taking on Tomoaki Honma and 3-time (and current) WON Wrestler of the Year Hiroshi Tanahashi. This is the first in a string of shows this week intended as a lead-in to the NJPW Invasion Attack PPV on April 6th. It’s also their first time back on PPV since Shinsuke Nakamura & Bad Luck Fale went epic hardway bloodbath in a surprisingly memorable main event. 


Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka & Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Tanaka has ditched the bowl cut. No Shinpei Nogami on commentary tonight, so Iizuka terrorizes the crowd instead. Tanakamatsu, both under 25, playing young-boys-in-peril here. Yano controls, but Komatsu makes the tag. All 4 spill outside and Yano tears off the turnbuckles while Iizuka chokes fuckers out with the microphone cord. Tanaka escapes with a drop kick and a hot tag to Komatsu, but Yohei falls victim to an Iizuka sleeper hold @ 6:46 ** Short little opener to give Yano & Iizuka some momentum heading into their match with the Gracies on Sunday, a match that nobody wants to see.


”The Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi & El Desperado vs. KUSHIDA & BUSHI
KUSHIDA is rocking the Marty McFly life preserver; sadly we get no Delorian down the entrance ramp this time. The other half of the Time Splitters, Alex Shelley, is replaced tonight by BUSHI. KUSHIDA begins with Desperado, who can’t roll out of a hammerlock despite numerous attempts. He makes it to the floor. KUSHIDA goes for a dive but puts on the breaks as Desperado moves out of the way. BUSHI & the Funky Weapon tag in. BUSHI gets the tope suicida on Taguchi into the guard rail hard. Back in, for 2. KUSHIDA grabs a surfboard and a cartwheel kick to Taguchi, who gets a hip toss and makes the tag to Desperado. Back to KUSHIDA & Desperado as this match picks up. If they’re looking to build Desperado back up after the Ibushi feud, a program with KUSHIDA is a good start. Desperado hits a tope suicida of his own, but KUSHIDA fires back with a variety of kicks and a springboard Thesz press. Supernova Press lands on the knees and both men tag out. BUSHI with the fast-paced offense, but Taguchi regains momentum with a tornado DDT. Taguchi going for 3 Amigos, but BUSHI reverses to a nice bridging back slide for 2. Taguchi with a wheel barrow on KUSHIDA into BUSHI. He attempts the Dodon, but BUSHI turns it into a roll up for a close 2. This time he hits the Dodon to finish @ 11:31. Another segment used to build up this Sunday for Taguchi’s “Loser Leaves New Japan” match with Prince Devitt, which most expect Devitt to lose and move on to NXT. ***1/4 Surprisingly good, KUSHIDA and Desperado in particular. 


The World Class Tag Team vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask

Jado starts by doing his Ric Flair shtick. Chops, Woos, and a delayed Flair Flop. This never fails to entertain. Gedo & Liger in. Gedo pretty over here, schools him in some mat wrestling and bows. Fast paced exchange ends in a stalemate. All four brawling on the floor. World Class working on Liger’s left arm for a bit. Liger evades a double team, and makes the tag to Tiger Mask. They regain control, but miscommunication on a double team leads to a Tiger Mask crucifix for the pin at 9:52. **1/4 Four guys in their mid-forties doing their trademark spots (Liger turns 50 this year). Nothing major as a match, but a fun 10 minutes.


We get a sitdown interview with Wataru Inoue reflecting on his career.


Yuji Nagata, Super Strong Machine & Captain New Japan vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku & Taichi 
Suzuki refuses to give the crowd the pleasure of watching him kick a young boy off the apron. Nagata comes out with the GHC Title. Awesome. Waturu Inoue is in their corner tonight, also awesome. Super Strong Machine is looking rather wellness for a 60 year old; surreal seeing him on PPV in 2014. CNJ takes a chair shot straight to the head on the floor, as the IWC screams at their monitors. Inoue prevents Nagata from taking one and gets waffled in the back for his trouble and choked with the chair. Suzuki now working over Inoue’s arm on the outside. Loud Inoue chant. Suzuki ripping the shirt off of him. Oh shit, Inoue hulking up. Taichi chairs him in the throat. CNJ in peril now. TAKA & Taichi do the quick 3-count spot for the crowd, Nagata getting pissed on the apron. Hot tag to Nagata. Kicks to Suzuki. Belly to belly to TAKA. Nagata & Suzuki trade big forearms. Suzuki with the running slap in the corner. Lariatoooo from Machine. Superkicks to Nagata, but CNJ breaks up the pin. Taichi does his patented ripping-the-pants-off bit, but this allows Nagata to hit the NOAH Killing Back Suplex to wrap it up @ 11:37 *** Crowd chants Wataru. This was exactly what it should have been, as I think we’re all happy to see Wataru out there smiling and having a great time. Hopefully they can allow Nagata to defend the World title on these shows as opposed to the multi-man tags. 


Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi

Ishii & Naito jaw jacking with each other already before the match. Nakamura makes his entrance; so ridiculously over. Big brawl to start. CHAOS in there 5-on-1 with Nakanishi, but he powers through all of them. Kojima in. 232 chops to Yujiro. Icchauzo, Bakayaro! TenCozy double team Yujiro. All ten men going at it, and the action pours to the outside. Okada, Nakamura, and Ishii back in the ring get their patented Triple Boot/Ishii Bomb on Tenzan. Okada the legal man now. Hilo, Guerrero style. Slapping Tenzan around now. Tenzan lariat. Tag to Nakamura and he does the Axl Rose in the corner, following with a knee. Naito comes in, does his shit with Ishii, does his shit with Yujiro. Back to Ishii. Crowd chanting Naito. Give him credit, it wasn’t easy, he earned that. Battle of massive forearms, back and forth. Naito goes for the Flying Burrito, Ishii moves. Naito tries again and eats a lariat. Okada with a flapjack and kips up. Makabe in. 10 punches to Okada in the corner. Okada takes the advantage, goes to the top and hits the best Flying Elbow in the business. Rainmakah Poe-zu~! Okada dropkick. CHAOS doing the Dragon Gate 5-Guys-in-the-Corner spot again (it just doesn’t feel right). We get 10 guys trading finishers, ending with a TenCozy 3-D and Makabe’s trademark double clothesline off an Irish whip. He hits Yoshi-Hashi with the King Kong kneedrop for the pin @ 14:08. ***1/2 Fun match. Naito & Ishii do their mandatory post match staredown, and their rubber match this Sunday has MOTYC written all over it. 


Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto
Tanahashi & Shibata to start. Crowd approves. Tanahashi going for throws but Shibata will have none of it. Shibata grapevines the leg, Tanahashi wrestles out of it. Headlock by Shibata, Tanahashi reverses. Stalemate. Big match feel. Slap to the face by Shibata and a big kick to the back. Goto tags in. Crowd chants for Honma. They trade shouldblocks and Honma misses the headbutt. Goto misses the kick. Goto gets a crab but Honma makes the ropes. Shibata back in slapping the piss out of Honma. This is either what you love or what you hate about these Shibata matches. Violence! He eats a spear and some punches and the crowd is going nuts. Honma bringing the slaps to Shibata now, who wrestles out of it. Shibata with a sleeper into a German. Goto with stiff kicks and attempts a brainbuster but Honma reverses and drops him. Hot tag, Tanahashi. Ducks Goto and goes straight for Shibata with a flurry of forearms. Swanton off the second rope for 2. He eats a spin kick in the corner from Goto. Shibata follows with the Big Dropkick in the Corner. Just drills Tanahashi in the face with that, you’d have to think he really wanted to. Suplex and a 2 count. The action is seemless. Keylock on Tanahashi’s left arm. Honma breaks up an Octopus, but Shibata’s such a dick that he just no-sells Honma and keeps it locked on Tanahashi. Finally breaks. Tanahashi with a tribute to Wataru Inoue, hits the Staggering Blow. Then both he and Honma sink in dueling Triangle Lancers, Inoue’s old finisher. Crowd Going Banana. Forearms back and forth from Tanahashi & Shibata. Shibata tries to finish with the PK but Tanahashi nails him with a Slingblade. Honma hits the headbutt on Goto, but he pops up and crushes Honma’s chest with a stiff kick. Double submission attempts, Shibata with an octopus on Tanahashi, Goto with a real tight sharpshooter on Honma. They appear completely fucked, but Honma makes the ropes. He ducks a laritat, hits one of his own and a big spear. To the top for the headbutt and Kōrakuen is losing its shit. Goto moves at the last possible split second. Tanahashi to the top but he eats a jumping knee from Shibata. They hit the Shibata sleeper into a PK from Goto for 3 but Nooooo… Honma kicks out. Lariato from Goto for another close 2. Fisherman’s throw from Goto into a Shibata G2S~! Goto hits the Shouten Kai on Honma for the win @ 15:59. ****1/4 Goto & Shibata go into Sunday’s title match looking like the strongest team in the company right now. 


We finish with Wataru’s retirement speech. The crowd is still completely packed. Not a person has left. They present him with pictures to hang on the wall of his greater accomplishments. Everybody comes out and shakes his hand one by one. Tanahashi loses his shit and starts balling. KUSHIDA looks genuinely appreciative. Nakanishi has a moment with him. Liger is out with the mask but without the wig. Honma looking punch-drunk and out-to-lunch, smiles and handshakes. Nagata out now, and the tears are flowing. Blue Justice Army salute to the crowd. Shinpei Nogami makes a welcomed appearance and shakes his hand. Animal Hamaguchi is here and this just became the best segment of the year. Hamaguchi bringing the CHARISMA~! Wataru gives a great, heartfelt speech as the crowd shows their love and respect for him. Women are crying. The announcers are crying. The wrestlers are all still in the ring and they’re literally throwing Wataru in the air and catching him on some Hip Hip Hooray shit. One of the greatest moments I’ve ever witnessed in pro wrestling. Every bit as good as Flair’s retirement. Go out of your way to see this.


We wrap up with a press conference, and sign off. Quick breezy undercard, strong main event and one of the all-time great, emotional send-offs in wrestling history make this an easy recommendation.