Friday, August 4, 2017

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Thirteen Review

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Thirteen Review
August 4th, 2017 | Ehime ITEM in Ehime, Japan | Attendance: 2,130

After a night off, the G1 Climax returns with A Block action. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a show in this venue, which should be interesting. Though I’ve preferred the A Block so far, this card doesn’t have me excited other than Ibushi/Nagata and Naito/Sabre. Still, with the tournament winding down and the A Block still more open than the B Block, it’ll be interesting to see where people end up.

Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi def. Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka in 6:23
El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki and Taichi def. Hirai Kawato, Michael Elgin and Tiger Mask IV in 5:52
TenKoji def. BUSHI and SANADA in 7:15
David Finlay and Juice Robinson def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 6:19
Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano def. EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi in 5:21

A Block: Kota Ibushi [6] vs. Yuji Nagata [0]
They met almost three years ago to the date in the G1 23 in a very good match (***¾). Nagata looked to keep things slow at the start, knowing Ibushi has a huge quickness advantage. He worked the arm, cutting off Ibushi at several points. Kota fired up and delivered the Golden Triangle Moonsault, only to eat an exploder inside. It eventually broke down into a battle of strikes, which Ibushi won by nailing the Pele kick. Nagata swiftly caught him in his signature armbar. Ibushi survived, but Nagata took it to him for not giving up. Ibushi looked out of it. He also survived a Backdrop Driver, but Nagata kicked out of the Golden Star Bomb. That must be the new thing to do. Ibushi ended him with a killer knee at 15:54. Nagata is on quite the roll in terms of performances, as is Ibushi. Nagata was the veteran giving his all, despite being eliminated. Ibushi was just too much for him, winning a hard fought, hard hitting battle. [***½]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [6] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [8]
I like this matchup. They had good matches in both the G1 24 (***) and G1 26 (***½). The size difference was clear and came right into play. Ishii couldn’t knock Fale down and got put on his ass. Fale worked the DREADED NERVE HOLD for a bit to wear him down. Ishii kept trying for suplexes and failing. When he finally got one to work, they crowd popped big. I liked the little things he did, like running the ropes a few times to gain enough momentum to knock Fale down. Fale blocked the sliding lariat by grabbing Ishii for the Grenade, but Ishii countered into a triangle and then armbar. Fale had to get the ropes to escape. Ishii slapped it on again, but this time Fale powered out with a powerbomb. Ishii won a strike exchange, but got cut off with a spear. The Bad Luck Fall finished him in 11:58. Another highly enjoyable match. I’d say it was the second best Fale match this year (in between the Shibata and Okada ones). It wasn’t the typical big man/little man outing, because Ishii isn’t a typical little guy. He brought the fight to Fale, while still selling like a boss for him. There’s a reason Ishii’s the second or third best wrestler in the world, folks. [***½]

A Block: Hirooki Goto [6] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [4]
CHAOS buddies do battle. I typically enjoy YOSHI-HASHI, but something about his matches in this tournament haven’t clicked. Same goes for Goto, to be honest. Goto held serve early, bullying HASHI, who had to cut him off. They went back and forth, with Goto surviving the Butterfly Lock and HASHI getting put in the sleeper. Goto did his best Shibata, delivering a PK, but that and USHIGOROSHI weren’t enough. HASHI fired up but Goto escaped Karma and hit two GTRs for the win in an uneventful 11:26. Again, something just didn’t connect with me. I appreciated that HASHI fought hard, but I just wasn’t feeling it as much as other stuff in the tournament. [**½]

A Block: Tetsuya Naito [8] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [8]
This is one of the most interesting matchups in the whole tournament. It could be great or a bad matchup of styles. This started with the usual tranquilo Naito pose after he sent Sabre outside. It was clear early that Sabre had him scouted, countering his signature dropkick in the corner and wrenching him into submissions and putting focus on the neck. Sabre had counters for everything, from key stuff like Destino, to little things like rollups. He dominated, forcing Naito to get serious and not play his usual games. Sabre got a near fall on the European Clutch pin that everyone seemed to bite on. Even when Naito gained momentum, like after a desperation German, Sabre would catch him in a submission or something, right after. Naito finally managed to avoid the PK and hit Destino for the win at 14:20. I loved how this was laid out. Naito wasn’t in control like usual, so he had to change things up. Sabre continues to look great in this tournament. He dominated Tanahashi and Naito, but left one opening against Naito, and it cost him. After a string of mostly lackluster matches, Naito seems ready for a hot finish. [****]

A Block: IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi [8] vs. Togi Makabe [6]
I feel like these two meet in every G1. I was almost right as they met in 2013 (***½), 2015 (***½) and 2016 (***). They started with some basic back and forth, nothing to get too interested in. Makabe took control for a bit, but got stopped by the dragon screw. We got some of heel Tanahashi here, less than recently, with him flipping Makabe the double bird. Togi leveled him with a big lariat for stealing his shit. Makabe missed the King Kong Knee Drop, to the dismay of Honma on commentary. Tanahashi was next to miss on the High Fly Flow, evening things up. They both tried for Germans, with Tanahashi slipping and hitting one off the ropes. He followed with his usual finishing stretch, winning via High Fly Flow in 13:34. Tanahashi’s working hard, but with his busted arm, some of the results just aren’t quite there. This reminded me of his matches with Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, in that they’re not bad, they just aren’t very good either. Especially in the main event slot. Never fear though, as Tanahashi has Ishii and Naito on the final two A Block shows if I’m right. [**¾] 

Overall: 6/10. About what I’ve come to expect as the G1 winds down. A lot of the guys take it easy at this point, gearing up for a big final few shows in Sumo Hall. Three out of the five matches here are high quality. Ibushi/Nagata, Fale/Ishii and Naito/Sabre are all worth checking you. You can avoid Goto/HASHI and Makabe/Tanahashi.

Tetsuya Naito10 (5-2)Kazuchika Okada12 (6-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi10 (5-2)Kenny Omega10 (5-1)
Hirooki Goto8 (4-3)Minoru Suzuki8 (4-2)
Zack Sabre Jr.8 (4-3)SANADA8 (4-2)
Bad Luck Fale8 (4-3)EVIL8 (4-2)
Tomohiro Ishii8 (4-3)Toru Yano4 (2-4)
Kota Ibushi8 (4-3)Tama Tonga4 (2-4)
Togi Makabe6 (3-4)Michael Elgin4 (2-4)
YOSHI-HASHI4 (2-5)Juice Robinson2 (1-5)
Yuji Nagata0 (0-7)Satoshi Kojima0 (0-6)

PROGRESS Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless Review

PROGRESS Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless
July 30th, 2017 | Electric Ballroom in Camden, Greater London, England

PROGRESS is back for their third show in July and the first two were bangers. They’re back home in the Electric Ballroom and have brought in one of the bigger names on the indies right now, Keith Lee. I had something from this show spoiled but I’m still excited because it’s one of the my most anticipated moments in recent memory.

Jim Smallman had his usual fun with the crowd. Particularly with a woman who was due to give birth THREE DAYS AGO!

Number One Contender’s Match: #CCK vs. Extra Talent-ed
This stemmed from Chapter 52, where #CCK won a three-way tag in odd fashion and challenged Extra Talent-ed. Solow used his relationship with Bayley for some extra heat in a pre-match promo. #CCK started hot, including a hilariously gross wet willy spot by Brookes. Kid Lykos came in and took the heat segment. We got a great chant of “Bayley’s too good for you.” Brookes got the hot tag and did his thing, capped with a sweet somersault to the outside. Things got physical late, with Brookes and Starks just firing off slaps. The final stretch saw all four men trade some of their biggest offense. Brookes picked up the win with a Praying Mantis Bomb at 12:44. This was a lot of fun. Like the triple threat tag at the last chapter, it was filled with action. Tag formula was solid early and the closing stretch was bonkers. [***¼]

Jim Smallman pointed out their new ring crew member, Spud. It’s Rockstar Spud, who is apparently playing a gimmick where he took a bump on the head and thinks he’s a ring crew rookie.

Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Chuck Mambo
These guys were part of a four-way on Chapter 52. Mambo likes to have fun, while Dunne is firmly against it. That was the theme of this match. Mambo kept popping with the crowd with entertaining stuff, like his own version of the People’s Elbow. That didn’t sit well with Dunne. Mambo picked up several near falls down the stretch, but couldn’t keep Dunne down. Dunne used a handful of tights for a good near fall and got frustrated because now he couldn’t put Mambo away. However, the rope hung Fun’s Over DDT did the job in 8:17. Both men played to their characters well and made for some good fun early in the card. Nothing special, but it accomplished what it needed to. [**¼]

James Drake and Zack Gibson vs. Never Say Die
Never Say Die are PROGRESS school grads making their debuts. Gibson announced that the Origin was dead because Nathan Cruz took his ball and went home, and he has joined up with Drake. His promo got a ton of heat, but wasn’t great. They were excited to bully the new guys and did just that. Never Say Die got in a few hope spots, but Gibson and Drake just murdered them. They won in 5:02 after a sick Ticket to Mayhem. Just what it needed to be. [**]

Number One Contender’s Match: James Davis vs. Rob Lynch
The London Riots wanted a new challenge, so PROGRESS put them against each other, with the winner getting an ATLAS Title shot. BIG BOY BATTLE! Though they’re partners, they held nothing back. They slapped each other and traded German suplexes within the opening minutes. Davis busted out some high flying stuff, including a moonsault to the outside. He tried a suicide dive, but Lynch caught him and delivered an awesome belly to belly into a bunch of chairs. That would’ve led to a countout (rightfully since it was a brutal move) but Lynch stopped the referee’s count, not wanting to win that way. That led to a war in the ring, with both racking up the near falls. Lynch missed a wild Spiral Tap and seemed to injure himself. His mom and sister were in the crowd and watched with concerned looks. James wanted to stop the match, but Lynch egged him on and brought the fight. Davis slapped on a cobra clutch style submission on the bad shoulder and got the win at 15:44. Better than I expected. They brought the fight to one another and told a great story using their friendship and the sympathy of Rob’s family at ringside. [***¾]

After the match, Rob Lynch grabbed a microphone. He talked about loving the fans, before announcing his retirement to get his health and life situated. Both men cried and got a standing ovation. As Lynch knelt to kiss the ring, Davis whacked him in the back with a cricket bat! HEEL TURN! He put the submission back on before cutting a scathing promo about Lynch being a loser. Like Lynch’s fiancĂ©e and father, Davis is also leaving him. Goodness. That was masterfully done. Davis will be a HATED villain coming out of this.

Non-Title Match: Jack Sexsmith vs. PROGRESS World Champion Pete Dunne
Again, if Dunne loses, he must give Sexsmith a title shot. Because Dunne’s a bastard, he jumped Sexsmith during his ring introduction and threw chairs at him outside. Dunne also beat up crew members until Sexsmith took them all out with a dive. They moved inside, where things officials started, and Sexsmith applied the Crippler Cockface. The fans totally bought that as a finish, but it wasn’t. That was the story here, as the fans love Sexsmith so much, they believed in every hope spot and close call. Sexsmith took a Pedigree on the floor, but beat the count back in to a pop. The fans bit on a small package near fall from a Bitter End counter. Dunne cut his rally short with a German into the buckle and the Bitter End, winning at 7:46. Awesome sprint. Sexsmith survived a lot and was a great resilient babyface. Dunne was the total asshole he should be and the crowd ate everything up. [***½]

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Toni Storm (c) vs. Candice LeRae
Two Mae Young Classic competitors. This was Candice’s PROGRESS debut. They wrestled to a stalemate early, until Candice quickened the pace with a rana and tope suicida. Toni swung the momentum by using her power, from forearms to ass attacks. Candice kept using speed and submissions (including the Gargano Escape), while Toni combated it with higher impact offense. Toni hit the Strong Zero piledriver, but Candice kicked out at one! That move has been lights out for Toni’s opponents. Toni survived a few Candice close calls, including one on a second rope balllpex (though I guess it’s not called that against women). She then hit a bit suplex of her own and not one, not two, but THREE Strong Zero piledrivers to retain at 10:42. I originally said Jinny should’ve been the first PROGRESS Women’s Champion, but Toni’s been fantastic as champ so far. This was another strong match and I appreciated how it differed from the Di Matteo outing at Chapter 52. There, Toni was in control against the underdog, but this was more evenly matched, with both women playing to their strengths. [***½]

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: British Strong Style (c) vs. Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins
Haskins and Havoc have had some issues recently, but are still two of top PROGRESS guys in history. Like against War Machine, the champs did the Triple H water spit at their opponents and got their asses handed to them for it. That led to a big brawl all over the Electric Ballroom. When things moved inside, the challengers nearly won with a superkick/Acid Rainmaker combo. There was a segment where everyone hit clotheslines, from the Acid Rainmaker to the Seven Star Lariat. Bate and Seven showed off some new tandem offense, which was cool. As the challengers worked dual submissions, Pete Dunne arrived, holding Mark Haskins’ wife. Mark went out to save her, allowing Seven to hit Havoc with a low blow and win it at 9:27. A lot of brawling and great action. It made for a great sprint and furthered the angles it needed to. [***]

Post-match, Jimmy Havoc got in Mark Haskins face and blamed him for the loss. They came to blows and brawled, despite Vicky’s (Mark’s wife) protests. The locker emptied to try and separate them. Flash Morgan Webster finally got them to somewhat stop, saying British Strong Style is making them fight each other instead of them.

Keith Lee vs. Travis Banks
Two of the hottest stars in wrestling collide for the first time. Pete Dunne provided guest commentary for this. The crowd were quite split, despite this being Lee’s PROGRESS debut. He brought them to their feet on a rana within the opening minutes. The size difference came into play a lot. Even when Banks got Lee down with a dropkick, Lee caught his suicide dive like he was a baby and powerbombed him on the apron. Lee dominated, hitting brutal chops and throwing Banks around. Banks rallied by chopping him down to size and eventually hit the coast to coast dropkick for two. He also came close with the Kiwi Krusher and Slice of Heaven, before kicking out of a Lee moonsault at one! Banks fired up for a final rally, but Pete Dunne got up from commentary with a sledgehammer. The distraction allowed Lee to counter Slice of Heaven into a powerbomb and DVD slam for the win at 19:18. Very good main event. It told the story it had to, as Lee was a beast and Banks once again showed resiliency and fire. He may have won if not for Pete Dunne. [***¾]

Pete Dunne said he defeated Banks, not Lee. After Lee left, Seven and Bate arrived to jump Banks, prompting “CCK” chants. They ran in, but Dunne followed and they were taken out with the sledgehammer. The tag champs held Banks in place for what would’ve been a brutal sledgehammer shot from Dunne. BUT THEN IT HAPPENED! “Keep It 100” hit as TK COOPER AND DAHLIA BLACK RETURNED! THE SOUTH PACIFIC POWER COUPLE! That got one of the loudest pops I’ve ever heard. Anywhere. They came out with chairs and BSS bailed. Banks was left in the ring in between them and his other team, #CCK. #CCK left the ring, sending their buddy to reunite with Cooper and Black.

Overall: 8/10. PROGRESS delivered the goods, yet again. Granted, there were no MOTYC on this card, but the show was consistent from top to bottom. Everything was good and even the two worst matches accomplished something (fun spots in Mambo/Dunne and establishing Drake & Gibson). Lee/Banks and Lynch/Davis were the standout matches, with Dunne/Sexsmith and Storm/LeRae being high quality. The opener was fun, too. The main thing this show succeeded at were the angles. The brawl between Haskins and Havoc was a nice way to advance their story, but the London Riots split was masterfully done. Of course, the SPPT return was awesome and I’m still not over the pop they got.