Saturday, August 12, 2017

Random Match Review: 8/12/17

Prince Devitt vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – PROGRESS Chapter 13: Unbelievable Jeff; 5/18/14; Electric Ballroom in Camden, Greater London

PROGRESS has been a company since 2012. They run their shows as chapters, which is a cool concept. This was Chapter 13 and there were production issues. The good people of PROGRESS didn’t feel right charging viewers due to that, so it’s available for free on YouTube. The match starts around 1:33:15. As of 2017, they are my favorite wrestling company in the world.

In April 2014, Prince Devitt said goodbye to NJPW on his way to the WWE. Along that road, he made a stop in PROGRESS for a battle with European wrestling standout, Zack Sabre Jr. Devitt did a ton as a junior in NJPW, while Sabre was one half of the Jr. Tag Champions in NOAH.

Instantly, it stood out that Devitt came out with Dark Knight Joker paint, adding a card and Joker’s coat for full effect. He came out with a dropkick and the double stomp, getting a near fall early. It’s the kind of finisher kickout I don’t mind, because Devitt tried for the surprise win and Sabre wasn’t worn down enough to make kicking out seem like a bad move. Sabre stalled his momentum by attacking the left arm in that Sabre way we’re used to. Devitt continued to be aggressive, bringing a chair into play for a vicious dropkick outside. Sabre was aggressive in his own way, transitioning from one painful hold to the next, keeping the focus on the battered arm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of Sabre kicking out of another double stomp. Devitt won shortly after, via Bloody Sunday in 12:51.

Very good work from both men. Two highly entertaining wrestlers working to their strengths in front of a great crowd. Though I enjoyed Devitt’s style in this, it did feel like he might’ve been holding something back to preserve himself for his WWE run. I also wasn’t a big fan of Sabre kicking out of two double stomps, though now that I think about it, it might not have been his official finish at this point. Devitt sold the arm well, but Sabre’s selling left something to be desired. Since it’s free, this is certainly worth checking out. [***¾]

Voting is now open for tomorrow’s match at

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Eighteen Review

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night Eighteen
August 12th, 2017 | Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 7,591 

After the A Block closed with a great main event yesterday (won by Tetsuya Naito in an A Block Sumo Hall sellout that AJ Styles or Kazuchika Okada couldn’t get against Tanahashi the last two years), it’s time to see how the B Block plays out. Like the A Block, only one match matters and it’s between Okada and Omega. You know, the guys who have wrestled for 107 minutes in two matches this year and racked up 12.75 stars from a certain reviewer.

El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Hirai Kawato, Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA and Tiger Mask IV in 7:04
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. Chase Owens, Tanga Loa and Yujiro Takahashi in 7:20
Takashi Iizuka and Zack Sabre Jr. def. Togi Makabe and Yuji Nagata in 6:16
Cody, Hangman Page and The Young Bucks def. Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi and War Machine in 8:41
David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi def. BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito in 6:57 [***¼]

B Block: Juice Robinson [6] vs. Michael Elgin [8]
The two guys who beat Kenny Omega so far, so both are technically in line for a shot at the US Title. The Taguchi Japan brothers shook hands before the bell. Elgin’s power and size was too much for the battered Juice early. He used big strikes and a cannonball off the apron to his advantage. Juice is the “never say die” babyface though, so he kept going right at Elgin. There was a great spot where Elgin caught Juice’s corner cannonball into a Buckle Bomb, only for Juice to counter the Elgin Bomb with a cradle for two. It played off Elgin’s power and Juice’s resiliency well. Elgin wanted Burning Hammer, but Juice got free. Elgin blocked Pulp Friction twice and ate big left hands for it. Juice then connected on Pulp Friction to win at 11:48. Very good match. Though both were eliminated, there was an added element of this meaning something with a look towards the US Title and Juice ending with three straight wins. I hope we get Juice/Omega at a Destruction show, while Elgin goes for the NEVER Title since he pinned Suzuki. With less interference, their match could rule. [***½]

Post-match, Elgin raised Juice’s hand. Juice went to commentary and said, “It’s time to drink some Sapporo and go balls deep in some Japanese women.” HE’S AN ABSOLUTE WILDMAN!

B Block: SANADA [8] vs. Tama Tonga [6]
They met in Osaka during last year’s G1 (***¼). I know it isn’t Fale or Hiromu, but SANADA better get some revenge for Daryl. Unfortunately, he didn’t go for that. They worked some fast paced crisscross stuff, before shaking hands and both getting in cheap shots. Hilariously, Tonga tried to put SANADA in the Paradise Lock but couldn’t figure it out. SANADA showed him how it was done, nearly getting a countout, but Bullet Club guys came out to unlock him. The rest of the match saw some quality back and forth, with a finishing stretch that featured lots of counters and even SANADA hitting a Gun Stung. Tonga’s Gun Stun won out, giving him the win at 11:59. Good match, but like a lot of Tonga’s stuff, it never got to the next level. SANADA shined at times in this tournament (against EVIL and Minoru for sure), while Tonga disappointed for the most part again. [***]

Side note, it was hilarious to hear Kevin Kelly say that finishers in NJPW are one and done and put people away. The only moves protected are the Rainmaker, Bad Luck Fall and One Winged Angel.

B Block: NEVER Openweight Championship Minoru Suzuki [9] vs. Toru Yano [6]
No. Not this again. They had a feud that lasted WAY too long a few years ago. They met at KOPW 2013 (**), the G1 24 (*¼), the G1 23 (***) and more than a few other shows. Yano has won most, which irks Suzuki. Minoru jumped him before the bell and Taichi got in a ton of cheap shots. Rocky complained that Yano had no CHAOS members out to help him. Yano got his feet tied together and Minoru looked to be enjoying himself. He knew he couldn’t win the block, so he was at least out to get revenge on a consistent thorn in his side. Taichi got in with a chair, so Rocky left the booth and kicked his ass to send him packing. He exchanged shots with Minoru (how is that not a DQ but the Elgin/Yano stuff was?) before Yano hit Minoru with a chair. He tied him up with duct tape and stole the win in 6:56. Typical Yano stuff, though I liked Rocky getting involved. Minoru’s desire to be a sadist cost him. [**]

B Block: EVIL [10] vs. Satoshi Kojima [2]
Don Callis called this a “trap” match that could ruin a hot finish for EVIL. It would feel like more of a trap if it could cost EVIL something. They fought outside for a bit, where EVIL used chairs. He jawed with Hiroyoshi Tenzan outside, opening the door for Kojima to turn the tide. That led to some great back and forth and big spots. Kojima hit a big DDT on the apron and Brainbuster, playing off EVIL nearly being knocked out a few matches ago. EVIL survived a bunch, but Kojima caught him with a lariat to the back of the head. Kojima went for another, but EVIL used a headbutt to block and planted him with the STO for the victory at 14:23. Lots of good action, with Kojima using a smart strategy and putting up one hell of a fight. I just wasn’t emotionally invested enough to put it over the top. I hope they do something with EVIL going forward. [***½]

B Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada [13] vs. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega [12]
Kenny must win, but Okada can let time expire and win the block. They both went for bombs early, looking for their finishers. Guardrail cross body, elbow and Rainmaker pose within the opening minutes. I liked how Omega didn’t waste time on his tope with the Terminator taunt. He knew time was valuable. He worked the neck and back, which Okada had taped up. There was a great moment where Okada hit a DDT and tried his usual kip up, but he physically couldn’t. With Omega in control, he got too cocky with the Terminator dive and Okada cut him off. Omega’s reverse rana on the outside had extra “oomph” on it because of Okada’s neck, who sold it like death. Kenny stopped the doctor from checking on him and hit a snapdragon suplex on the apron, followed by Aoi Shoudou for a great near fall. Okada countered the One Winged Angel into a tombstone, but instantly fell out. Okada started the comeback, but unlike the Minoru match in February, it felt like it was out of desperation. He couldn’t sustain anything or fully capitalize. He delivered three Rainmakers as we got close to the time limit. The next one got countered (as always) and Okada kept blocking the One Winged Angel. Okada kicked out of a few more big blows, until Omega finally hit the One Winged Angel to win in 24:40. Their best match so far. Unlike the others, this didn’t feel like it was going long for the sake of it. Everything mattered. The pace was wild and Kenny’s focus on the neck was awesome. Okada finally sold at an incredible level. He didn’t wave it off to get his stuff in, it hurt him throughout. There was a bit of V-Trigger spam, but not too much and some of the near falls late were a bit much. I like that Okada’s style has finally caught up to him with a loss, draw and loss to close the G1. [****¾]

Overall: 7.5/10. Like the A Block show yesterday, this was a very good event with one stellar match. Again, I must say that if the other matches mattered, it would’ve been better. Still, they managed to get me invested in Juice/Elgin and EVIL/Kojima. Yano/Suzuki was their usual nonsense, while SANADA/Tonga was solid. I loved Okada/Omega and felt it was the best match of their series by a wide margin. Finally, something deserving of the praise and hype they’ve been getting. Omega/Naito has potential to be even better than last year if Naito’s shoulder holds up.

Tetsuya Naito14 (7-2)Kenny Omega14 (7-2)
Hiroshi Tanahashi12 (6-3)Kazuchika Okada13 (6-2-1)
Bad Luck Fale12 (6-3)EVIL12 (6-3)
Hirooki Goto10 (5-4)Minoru Suzuki9 (4-4-1)
Kota Ibushi10 (5-4)SANADA8 (4-5)
Zack Sabre Jr.10 (5-4)Juice Robinson8 (4-5)
Tomohiro Ishii8 (4-5)Tama Tonga8 (4-5)
Togi Makabe8 (4-5)Toru Yano8 (4-5)
YOSHI-HASHI4 (2-7)Michael Elgin8 (4-5)
Yuji Nagata2 (1-8)Satoshi Kojima2 (1-8)