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Thread: Puroresu introduction and match recommendations

  1. #1
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    Puroresu introduction and match recommendations

    Japanese wrestling can be a reasonably intimidating thing for people outside of Japan to try and get into. The culture is very different from the English and American styles and there is usually a language barrier to factor in. But even though I am nearly twenty years out of date, I know how rewarding the effort is.

    So this is a thread for the newcomer who wants to learn more, and for the more experienced people willing to act as guides. I also thought it might be a decent space to share any videos of matches that people should check out if they want to widen their knowledge base.

    I will get this started: as I say, my knowledge of Japanese wrestling really ends around the millennium. Where do you recommend you'd start with trying to correct that?

  2. #2
    A Professional Macho Mourn's Avatar
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    Oh! I've got a set of matches for you then.

    Mitsuharu Misawa VS Toshiaki Kawada 1990-2005 History 1/2:



    part 2 here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5kmWcxph5o&t=24634s

    Not just singles matches either. The whole thing is 16 hours, but worth every minute.



  3. #3
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    Cool, great start. Looking at the dates I think I might know some of this but will work my way through.

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    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    I will definitely come back here and do some more thinking and posting about it when I'm near a laptop in a week or so. But Misawa/Kawada is as good a starting point as any.

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    The Brain
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    Pete, was all set to start looking stuff but I realized I'm not sure if you mean your wrestling knowledge goes from 2000 to the present, or you're only familiar with earlier stuff like the 4 AJPW Pillars, New Japan juniors and 3 Musketeers, joshi, and so on. Which direction you looking to go? I keep thinking it's probably obvious if I think about it but I know you've been a fan for a long time so I keep second guessing myself.

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    Up to 2000. As in I saw a bit of stuff when it required getting tapes and then the Internet was a bit of a revelation and I was quite into it from 2001-2006, but even then I generally watched older stuff. So I am reasonably well versed in the 1980s and 1990s but yeah, far less convincing once you get into the 21st century. Have seen some matches but the coverage becomes very sparse.

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    Are you interested in all puro or NJPW? because if its the latter, people can just point you to the Tanahashi era in NJPW and just go from there. Noah, All Japan takes a pretty big hit by the mid 2000s and so really NJPW has become the WWE of Japan and they have a streaming service so its pretty accesible besides the Youtube and Dailymotion links

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    I'm not specifically interested in one promotion. Generally speaking a low jargon, beginner-friendly introduction to the landscape as a whole might be a good thing for the thread in general. Who the major players are, what their gap in the market is, all that jazz.

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    okay. I would say that New Japan Pro Wrestling is your top dog, as mentioned in my previous post, after Inoki left the promotion in the early 2000s (he was the booker) they slowly changed into what they became now, with a more WWE friendly feel, discarding the more mma feel that Inoki was bringing the promotion (and slowly killing it) By 2004, you had Young Stars Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura taking off and becoming important fixtures in the company. Eventually, that grew into a rivalry and Tanahashi became the ace (top wrestler of the company) and Nakamura was often the second big star, but people tended to draw to him more charismatically with his style and that style you see today in WWE...

    Over time, the company has grown back up to its early 90s levels, doing great business with now Kazuchicka Okada as the new ace and Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, Tanahashi several others as the backbone of current day New Japan

    New Japan now is most like WWE in that while they still cling to old puro wrestling ideals, and the feuds still set up the usual way of calling someone out after a match, its less of a strong style, fighting spirit type wrestling and more of athletic display until the better man wins. Typically, NJPW main events go over 30 mins and are workrate heavy. One thing i love about NJPW though is finishers are usually protected to a high degree, sure, there's kickouts, but if NJPW is buiiding someone up, their finish is NEVER kicked out of for a long time

    I don't have the numbers in front of me but NJPW are doing really good business lately and control the market share in Japan as i know of it. All Japan used to be number 2 there but have really fallen off.. NOAH that formed in 2000 when Misawa and Kobashi left All Japan has all but crumbled after Misawa's death in 2009.

    I'd say Dragon Gate is probably number 2 there, more known for their lucha style fast paced action, You could probably call it an alternative to all puro out there.

    I'm not best person for this, especially when i'm tired but that's the general jist of things.

    These recap videos of Tanahashi/Okada are great overview



    Part 2



    Then a video about Naito

    Last edited by Lazyking; 11-07-2017 at 01:52 PM.

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    The Brain
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    Awesome post, LK. The only thing I would quibble with is the finisher thing, for every finisher they do an awesome job protecting, like the One Winged Angel, there are 2 others that don't mean much anymore. I'm amazed at how many Rainmakers Okada has to hit to get a win these days, for example. But yeah, when they want to protect something they do a great job.

    I'll try to add any detail that I'm aware of, starting with New Japan which is indeed massively the top dog right now. After Misawa absconded with most of the All Japan roster to form NOAH (more on both of those later) at the beginning of the millennium, New Japan was quick to take advantage and form an unexpected relationship with what remained of AJPW, at least for a while. The ultimate success of this is debatable but it did provide a short term boost for both, and gave out some dream matches that fans had been hoping for all through the 90s, particularly with the only Pillar who didn't leave for NOAH, the great Toshiaki Kawada. My favorite of those matches is when he took on Kensuke Sasaki on the 10/9/00 show, a real classic you may want to check out. Speaking of Sasaki, he's got a real classic with Yuji Nagata on the 1/4/04 show, which I discovered thanks to Imp earlier this year.

    But yeah, by and large the 00s didn't go great for New Japan. Things really started to pick back up in about 2012 with the inception of the highly successful Okada/Tanahashi rivalry, where the newly rechristened Rainmaker came back to try to take the company away from longtime ace Tanahashi. The popularity of Nakamura in this era is indeed another big factor, as he arguably became the biggest star of the three, and between those three New Japan rebuilt it's main event scene into something very hot. The loss of Nakamura has been neatly filled by Tetsuya Naito, who for years struggled to fulfill his seeming destiny as a top babyface before turning heel to massive acclaim and heading the massively popular Los Ingobernables de Japon, a disrespectful and nearly nihilistic stable that has made a big impact. The major factor of the Bullet Club also plays into things of course, first becoming popular worldwide with Prince Devitt (now Finn Balor, of course) and then moving into the main event scene with AJ Styles at the helm, adding another flavor to the matches. The junior scene has also been strong during this time, with guys like Kota Ibushi and Ricochet setting a high bar and then passing a spotlight to guys like KUSHIDA and Hiromu Takahashi. They've also aggressively looked for more gaijin stars to work around, with Kenny Omega being the obvious current example but also guys like Michael Elgin and Will Ospreay making a big contribution, among many others.

    There's a LOT more than could be said, but I'll leave off with five of my personal favorite matches from the modern era, if anyone wants to check some out:

    Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet, IWGP Jr Championship 6/21/14 NJPW Dominion
    Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada, G1 Climax Final 8/10/14 NJPW G1 Climax Day 12
    Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi, IWGP Intercontinental Championship 1/4/15 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IX
    Tetsuya Naito vs. Katsuyori Shibata 7/30/16 NJPW G1 Climax Day 8
    Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega 8/13/16 NJPW G1 Climax Day 18

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    Okada's rainmaker reminds me of Nakamura's boma ye. it gets the job done, especially against lesser opponents but they have to hit it like 3 times on bigger opponents lol. That's why i said its more protected in the build up of a guy, than it is when they're on top and you could say, everyone knows how to scout (there's alot of counters to the finish after awhile) and how to absorb the punishment.

  12. #12
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    Oh for sure, funny enough I remember when the Rainmaker itself was super protected. Kind of goes away over time I guess. I think the Destino used to be stronger too, now it's kind of in the same boat.

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    I remember when the sling blade is protected lol. I also think Tanahashi doesn't get enough credit for New Japan's rise.. I mean i like your timeline but Tanahashi put New Japan on his back with Nakamura way before Okada got there. Without Tanahashi and Nakamura as the backbone to grow off, Okada is nothing.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SirSam's Avatar
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    Love those videos LK.

    Survivor Series Biggest Winners and Losers

    Follow me on Twitter - Sir_Samuel

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    Oh 100%, Nak and Tana did a lot of work in the 00s to keep things running and slowly rebuild, no question. It's funny how everything finally clicked all at once though, with Nak finally morphing into his ultra-popular weirdo character and Tana finding his life partner in Okada.

    Didn't even touch on all the drama with Shibata, how he was supposed to be the third musketeer of the 00s but quit to do MMA for a bunch of years just when the company needed him. That slowed things down too but his return is one more thing that happened at just the right time to be super hot.

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    The Shibata arc really shows Japanese wrestling at its best. The guy left wrestling to pursue mma and i believe it was for real heat for it and he had to earn the respect of his peers again, his friend Goto... its too bad he can't wrestle anymore.

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    It really does suck when one of the best wrestlers in the world decides to cripple himself shoot-headbutting people. It's not like you couldn't see it coming, just look at a guy like Honma for another example. One of things that made it really tough for me to enjoy those Ishii/Shibata matches everyone loved is all the goddam unsafe headbutts. STOP DOING HEADBUTTS PEOPLE!!!

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    A Professional Macho Mourn's Avatar
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    yo:




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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    It really does suck when one of the best wrestlers in the world decides to cripple himself shoot-headbutting people. It's not like you couldn't see it coming, just look at a guy like Honma for another example. One of things that made it really tough for me to enjoy those Ishii/Shibata matches everyone loved is all the goddam unsafe headbutts. STOP DOING HEADBUTTS PEOPLE!!!
    I haven't kept up on New Japan as much of late but i haven't seen many if any sick headbutts since the sick Shibata headbutt.. The thing about Japan is in that culture, they don't want to be seen as weak... so they push themselves beyond normal limits. Even Shibata in blog posts sounds apologetic as if its fault that he's not strong enough... Not in the actual move that put him in this spot.

  20. #20
    The Brain
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    Yeah, it's honestly kind of a toxic culture. I agree I don't see many headbutts THAT bad but just last night I watched an Ishii match where he was throwing his head around like there was no tomorrow, just a few months after Shibata. Ishii is another guy I really worry about, dude tends to work hurt to a ridiculous degree. I'm afraid he's just gonna fall apart at some point.

    So let's continue this Puro journey and talk about AJPW post millennium. As I mentioned, in 2000 top star Mitsuharu Misawa departed All Japan Pro Wrestling after being unable to resolve differences with Motoko Baba, widow of longtime owner and legend in his own right Giant Baba. When Misawa left, intending to start his own promotion, virtually the entire native roster followed him, as his star power and the loyalty he inspired was much stronger than what Motoko could claim, as she was not too popular with most of the roster. So a lot of wrestlers ran off to form NOAH, which I'll talk more about later, and AJPW was left in a very bad state. To keep the damage under control, the company made some bold moves, cross-promoting with New Japan and bringing back the legendary Genichiro Tenryu, who was previously banned from the promotion by Giant Baba after abruptly departing the company 10 years earlier and leaving the promotion in the lurch. The rebuild effort continued with the transfer of power to Keiji Mutoh, better known in the US as the Great Muta, longtime New Japan star who fully took charge of AJPW in the early 00s. Probably my favorite match of this era would be the two legends who showed up to help save the company met in the ring, Mutoh vs. Tenryu in 2001.

    These steps helped AJPW retain some of their former glory, but after being a true contender for top promotion through the 90s they struggled badly to compete through this era, with NOAH taking most of the critical acclaim and NJPW slowly rebuilding their own audience to eventually get back on top. Early in the 10s, Mutoh sold off the promotion and took a chunk of the roster to form Wrestle-1, which was another blow to the company. They struggled more than ever and essentially fell to the level of an indy promotion, but since Jun Akiyama took power in 2014 they have been trying to once again rebuild their reputation and roster. The main player in this rebuild is the current ace of the promotion, Kento Miyahara, who became the youngest ever Triple Crown champion at the start of last year and has been on top pretty much ever since. Matches I would recommend from the modern era include Kento taking on Jun Akiyama himself last year, or his series with Shuji Ishikawa this year. AJPW is still far from their peak in terms of audience attention, but they tend to put on strong matches among their top guys and are worth checking out from time to time.

    Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kento Miyahara, AJPW Triple Crown Championship 8/27/17 AJPW 45th Anniversary

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    I really need to get more into All Japan and the other puros.. even New japan i been slacking cause i been watching WWE network for my ppv project.... but i love how in Japan and in 2017 its so accesabile and i love the system of like young lions and how its setup to make tournaments.. Just love it haha..

  22. #22
    The Brain
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    Oh for sure, I complain about some promotions not distributing well but all in all I love how accessible everything is in 2017. There's very little you can't find by one avenue or another.

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    Thanks to everyone for the way this has taken off. I think this is a real asset to this bit of the board and having a welcoming place where people can come in and feel comfortable to ask questions, for recommendations, or whatever, can only be a good thing.

    Must say, those videos make the Tanahashi/Okada thing look awesome. I know that's probably the point of the video and all, but damn. I could be on board.

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    With Japanese wrestling, you have read between the lines in the storytelling of the match especially since there's no English translation to promos... Those videos do that effectively but i def wouldn't recommend watching a random match without knowing what came before it. Its one of New Japan's great strengths. Being able to tell different match stories over a series of matches.

    I mean i want it to be accessible as possible so not scare any one off, i just think knowing the backstory really helps.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    I'd not seen those Tana/Okada videos before now. Will give them a look when in front of something better than a phone with shaky WiFi. But I was certainly going to suggest that was one of the best, and most easily accessible, feuds of recent years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazyking View Post
    With Japanese wrestling, you have read between the lines in the storytelling of the match especially since there's no English translation to promos...
    What's the commentary situation like with regard to the English NJPW World? I heard that JR did a few shows for them, and I presume that having an English track must make things a bit easier in the matches even if the promos themselves aren't then translated?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    What's the commentary situation like with regard to the English NJPW World? I heard that JR did a few shows for them, and I presume that having an English track must make things a bit easier in the matches even if the promos themselves aren't then translated?
    most big shows have English commentary. Last i knew it was Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. They do a decent job i guess. JR isn't actually that good anymore so i'm glad he doesnt' do many live shows... he did their long beach shows and it was really bad.

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    Oh, that's odd. He was still a country mile better than pretty much any other WWE announcer when he did the Mae Young Classic. Not up to his old standards of course, but you have to go back a long way to get to them. He's still a wrestling announcer which the others aren't - not really. I'm surprised to hear that didn't go well. Maybe he was a bad fit for the product?

  29. #29
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    I would gladly take Jim Ross over the Kelly/Callis team, which I find insanely obnoxious. Not a major match goes by that they are not referencing "six stars" and attempting to throw in insider terms. Frankly I thought JR's performances in New Japan were just fine, not his best work ever but he's still appealing to me in terms of style. You're not the first I've heard take shots at his work with Japan though, so I guess it's a case of mileage varying.

    Agree that New Japan does a good job of building up stories over multiple matches when they want to do so. Tana/Okada is probably the best example of that but the Omega/Okada series has had elements of that as well. I seriously can't believe NJPW doesn't provide translations for all their promos, it's nice to have English commentary but it only gets you so far, especially since their team really isn't that good (my opinion, of course). I do think you can watch the best New Japan matches without a ton of back story and still love them, but it always helps to know who's who, especially for certain matches/feuds.

    Looking again off the New Japan track, time to talk about Pro Wrestling NOAH. When Misawa left AJPW and took almost the whole roster with him, he was able to set up a new promotion in short order and before long they become the most critically acclaimed promotion in Japan, able to compete on the top level with the gathered star power. While Misawa remained a significant roster member until his death (more on that later), he used his power to finally elevate his colleague Kenta Kobashi to the top spot. Kenta (not to be confused with KENTA, AKA Hideo Itami) had long been a major star in AJPW but Giant Baba had always held back on pushing him as the face of the company, preferring to stick with Misawa in that role come hell or high water. Kobashi and Misawa met many times in AJPW, but Kobashi was never able to defeat Misawa when a title was on the line. The shift in top babyface finally became permanent in 2003 when Kobashi defeated Misawa for the top title, a match which some consider to be the greatest of all time. I don't go quite that far but it really is a spectacular match:



    The only real flaw it has is some of the spots look so dangerous. There was a tendency among the 90s AJPW crowd to push their bodies to unsafe limits, a practice that gained them enormous critical acclaim at the time but would prove tragic in the long term, as I'll cover shortly. But in the immediate aftermath, Kobashi was cemented as the top star and led NOAH to some of their most successful years, having great defenses against the likes of fresh names like Yoshihiro Takayama and Akitoshi Saito, and in 2005 a spectacular match with Kensuke Sasaki which features one of the most incredible strike exchanges in wrestling history:



    The promotion also managed to produce significant stars for the next generation, like KENTA (yes, this one is Hideo Itami), Naomichi Marufuji, and Go Shiozaki, among others. However, as the 00s wore on the promotion would start to experience some major issues. Kobashi missed 18 months in 06-07 due to cancer, and though he made a full recover and returned successfully he would start to miss large chunks of time more and more due to various injuries. The dangerous style was taking it's toll.

    Among other factors, Kobashi's absence led Misawa to continue to book himself regularly, though his body was broken down as badly as Kobashi's. On June 13 of 2009, this led to the ultimate tragedy. After taking a simple belly to back suplex, Misawa lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital, where he died the same night. There was no botch or unsafe move, it was simply one bump too many for a man who had punished his body over the years in ways no one should. It is speculated that pre-existing severe spinal injuries were the cause, but Japanese law prevented the official cause of death from being released.

    Between this terrible tragedy and mounting issues with TV distribution, NOAH quietly fell off the map and dropped to the level of a indy, much like All Japan did over time. NOAH held on to a spot of some relevance but continued to suffer setbacks, including a scandal with connections to the yakuza and the loss of top stars like KENTA and Go Shiozaki, one to WWE and the other to different Japanese promotions. The promotion experienced a small resurgence when they partnered with New Japan in the mid 10s, which was spearheaded in the ring by the legendary Minoru Suzuki, who invaded the promotion with his Suzuki-gun stable and engaged in many acclaimed matches with their remaining top stars. My favorite matches of this era are between Suzuki and Naomichi Marufuji, with this one being my favorite:



    NOAH and NJPW ended their partnership due to change of ownership on NOAH's part, and they settled back into playing a relatively small role. I haven't checked them out much this year but I know they've created a bit of buzz by using some unique American wrestlers, most notably (to me) Brian Cage, but also guys like Eddie Edwards and others in partnership with Impact Wrestling. I think even through their down periods NOAH has some stuff worth checking out, but their road has been really rough. They've been rumored to be on the brink of going out of business a few times this decade, but as always with wrestling promotions it's anyone's guess if or when it will actually happen.

  30. #30
    Remember me? Degenerate's Avatar
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    The main issue that people had with Jim Ross calling some of the New Japan shows, particularly the first day of the Long Beach shows, is that he didn't seem to be very familiar with a lot of the wrestlers nor a lot of their moveset. It looks like he was ill-prepared from my point of view since he improved on Day 2, although I also think it was way blown out of proportion with people saying he just didn't care for the product.

    I also wanted to add that the recent post-show interviews from this past weekend's Power Struggle show were released by New Japan with subtitles in English, so hopefully they're making a concerted effort for the non-Japanese speaking crowd.

    I haven't contributed much to this thread because I started getting into Japanese wrestling barely over a year ago. One thing I've done is go back slowly, because when I started getting into it, I got overwhelmed pretty quickly. Unless you have a crazy amount of free time, there's just way too much to get into. So I just pick and choose depending on what I think would help fill in some blanks for something I want to know now. For example, in preparation of the main event at Wrestle Kingdom 12, I've been catching up to Naito's first G1 Climax win in 2013 and his subsequent match against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 8. It's been interesting to see arguably the two top guys in Japanese wrestling in a completely different light.

    Just wanted to bring that up in case someone feels overwhelmed. There's already a sizeable amount of info already in this thread and it's barely scratched the surface.

  31. #31
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    I did hear he had some trouble on the special US shows, but I'm also pretty sure that was right after his wife died so it might be understandable if he was a little off his game.

    And it's true, we're only on the surface so let's dig a little bit deeper still!

    As AJPW and NOAH have fallen to a lower tier, the current #2 promotion in Dragon Gate. I've already discussed this promotion a little in it's own thread, but wanted to bring some additional info and recommendations into this thread. Dragon Gate originally springs out of a promotion known as Toryumon, which also has a branch in Mexico (which is no longer directly affiliated with DG). Founded by Ultimo Dragon in 1997 under the Toryumon name, it was specifically to be a hybrid style of lucha libre and purosesu (known as "lucharesu"). Ultimo Dragon departed in 2004 and the promotion morphed into Dragon Gate and started to climb to it's current position, where to this day it stands out quite a bit compared to other Japanese promotions, which is arguably why it remains a strong #2 promotion as a legitimate alternative to stuff like NJPW. The core elements of the Japanese style are still present in the style, with fighting spirit, strike exchanges, and hard hitting offense all being present, but you also get the fluidity of lucha, with more emphasis on flying and on big stipulations, such as mask and hair matches.

    Another thing that makes Dragon Gate unique is that it operates almost entirely around stable warfare. Almost everyone in the company is involved in a stable at all times, and while it's still very possible to purse a singles career, you always know who is allied with whom at any given time. It can be a bit tricky to figure out who is with who coming in, but most of the groups are helpfully color coordinated, and there are great resources out there like iheartdg.com for new fans to catch up easily in English with the characters and stories. Usually there is one "big bad" group, currently VerserK and formerly MAD BLANKEY, with the rest of the stables ranging from comedic to heroic to arrogant and cocky. There's usually a fair bit of movement and turnover but generally they do a good job giving each group a distinct personality and meaning within the company.

    This stable set up often gives rise to my favorite DG styles matches, which are big multi-man bouts with lots of different stables and factors at play, often with unique rules that make every match that much more differently. From time to time stables are forced to face each other with their very existence on the line, with the losing stable being forced to split apart and join other factions, or reform in a different configuration somewhere down the line. These matches are often my favorite, as the regular singles match are more like traditional puro, with long run times and a emphasis on big offense, which can be fun but can also be a bit repetitive (I feel the same about New Japan, so I think it's just an issue between me and puro in general).

    They also of working in unique characters and comedic spots into their shows in order to keep things fresh and fun, some of which can be quite entertaining. I'm a particular fan of Punch Tominaga, who essentially plays an eccentric young punk and does bizarre things like fight with his hands in his pockets. He's a bit hard to fully explain, but he's got a certain charisma and timing that makes him a real favorite of mine. You've also got people like Yosuke Santa Maria, a refreshingly positive transgender character who is quite popular in the undercard. They even have a rarely defended title called "Open the Owarai Gate" (all DG title are "open the something gate"), which is won and lost not by wins and losses but by polling the audience after the match to determine which wrestler was more entertaining. Unique stuff like this mixed in with more serious and straightforward storylines creates a nice balance for any fan who wants to take the time to check it out.

    I've mainly followed the promotion in the last few years, and for anyone looking for a place to start I'd recommend these matches as good ones to check out:



    A title match from 2015 between reigning champion BxB Hulk, another of my favorite guys in the promotion, and Uhaa Nation, now known as Apollo Crews in WWE. I ALWAYS recommend this match, and everyone I've persuaded to watch it says the same thing, "wow, maybe Crews does have something more to him". It's well worth a watch. It's also got Uhaa's departure ceremony after the match as he was just being signed by WWE, and even though it's largely in Japanese it's pretty genuinely emotional. Dragon Gate has a great and super loyal community internally, which is another reason they have maintained their position as #2 as very few guys defect to places like New Japan. Puro rosters are often loyal in general, but DG is a particularly strong example of a tight knit community.

    https://rutube.ru/video/fd224042e36a...d16cf5bafe9a1/

    A midcard tag match from 2016, pitting the VerserK team of Cyber Kong (yet another favorite!) and relative rookie Kotoka against Yosuke Santa Maria and grizzled veteran Don Fuji. This is a good example of some of the comedic character stuff DG can do and is well worth a watch for the taste of the style.

    https://rutube.ru/video/80e204af1a3b...&pl_id=1067514

    One of the biggest matches of this year, a no holds barred elimination style 5 on 5 losing stable must disband match between VerserK and longtime beloved face stable, The Jimmyz. It's a great example of both the stable warfare and the big crazy multi-man matches I've been talking about.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    1,351
    I think most of the above has hit the notes I would go to. Nice to see Mizfan pluck Ibushi vs Nakamura in there, which I was wondering whether or not would get any love. There's a great story in there with Ibushi looking to prove himself, and I think that probably topped their G1 2013 match which I also consider a must see.

    Tana vs Okada was possibly never better than at WK9, either. Eternally grateful that that was my jumping on point for NJPW.

    I always shy away a bit from mentioning him when trying to introduce someone to NJPW because of the style he works, which I think can be a bit of a love/hate kind of thing (especially as he's got that stiff-as-shit thing going on more often than not) but I honestly think my favourite NJPW guy right now is Tomohiro Ishii, and he's racked up so many quality matches over the years that I think it's high time they gave him a run at the main event level properly, preferably with the IC or HW title.

    I mean, in the last couple of years alone you've got matches with Okada, Tanahashi (can't find it, but I'm thinking of their 2016 G1 match), Omega (three times), and Naito that have been top draw. He can clearly work with the guys NJPW want to have at the top of the company, so why not have him in the mix more regularly?

    If you want to change pace a bit from the wrestling classic style, Ishii's your guy - Honma, Shibata, and Goto matches are all killer, too.

    Also good - Tanahashi vs Suzuki from 2012. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3olmc2

  33. #33
    The Brain
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    3,168
    Ishii is a guy I love, but I have issues with him at the same time. I love how much of a tough badass he is, but I'm also afraid he's just asking to fall apart at any moment, like Shibata and Honma did. I love his fighting spirit, but it crosses a line for me when he sits down and asks guys to kick him. I'm like, I know it's all BUSHIDO~!!! style, but try to win the damn match! I don't know if New Japan will ever really pull the trigger on the guy, they are so strict with who gets the nod as a true main eventers, and at 41 I think he's probably going to be stuck in the role he's in pretty much permanently, which kind of sucks but as you mentioned he still gets to have top notch matches with top guys so there's always that!

    Let’s talk about the laides! Women’s wrestling in Japan (known as “Joshi”) was extremely popular in the 80s and 90s thanks to the efforts of the likes of Dump Matsumoto, Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Bull Nakano, and many more, but towards the end of the 90s that part of the fandom diminished, due to a variety of reasons. Joshi continues to exist in Japan through a network of small-ish promotions, which includes OZ Academy, Sendai Girls, Ice Ribbon, SEAdLINNNG, and more, but the chief among is Stardom.

    Founded in 2011, the promotion quickly built its reputation as one of the premiere women’s promotions in the world. After suffering a severe scandal in early 2015 due to the incident between Act Yasukawa and Yoshiko, a grisly scene where Yoshiko seemingly decided to shoot on Act and injured her to the point where she was legitimately forced to retire, the company seemed to be on rocky ground, but by distancing themselves from the incident and rebuilding around the core of the crafty Io Shirai, the fiercely spirited Kairi Hojo, and the sympathetic underdog Mayu Iwatani, they re-established themselves as a top name in the world of women’s wrestling. The promotion also makes prominent use of foreign talent, such as Viper (Piper Niven), Toni Storm, Jessicka Havok, and until recently Shayna Baszler, as well as many others to keep their promotion strong. With the departure of Kairi the promotion is looking to once again reinforce their ranks, but I suspect Stardom will remain a significant name for quite some time.

    One thing I love about Stardom is they are SUPER accessible, arguably more so than any other Japanese promotion. Their site is extremely easy to navigate, and all non-English promos are completely translated, and any special rules or stipulations are spelled out as well. Most matches have a pre-match promo from both competitors to give a bit of context so it’s easy to jump around and not get feel lost, and some matches, particularly main events, have post match promos in the ring which advance the major storylines of the promotion. It’s been by far one of the easiest foreign promotions for me to pick up, and the matches are generally both high quality and have enough variety to keep them fresh.

    It's a little hard to find the matches for free, but there are a few great ones out there. One of my favorites is Kairi Hojo vs. Meiko Satomura from 6/14/15, which was my jumping on point with the company and an absolutely amazing bout. Meiko Satomura is genuinely one of the best in the world I would say, so if you're not familiar now is the time to check her out:



    If you're looking for stuff this year I recommend basically checking out the historic reign of Io Shira with the top belt. My favorite matches have been with Viper (1/15), Shayna Bazler (2/23), Kairi Hojo (3/20), and Mayu Iwatani (6/21). They all rank really highly for me this year and are well worth checking out!

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