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Thursday, April 28, 2016

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

8. Kazushi Sakuraba v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 7/5

ER: Awesome little fight, my favorite Saku pro wrestling match. Not only was Sak unrelenting, but found nice ways to incorporate his history and story into a jam packed 12 minutes. I loved him throwing out the double stomp the second Shibata ends up on his back, and from there we get tons of knees, great chokes, and ultimately a man who is older than his 46 years, getting outlasted by a younger, fresher opponent. Old man dying on his sword is maybe my favorite match story in pro wrestling, and Sak played it to a T here. He took some ungodly punishment from Shibata, who blasted him with all kinds of kicks. Those corner dropkicks to a slumped Sak were vicious. But Sakuraba would fight back, and him finagling his way into a choke was epic, with Shibata making a bunch of really good dead eye gasps while going out. Sakuraba was great at using his more dated skillset, still breaking out some cool throws and going for older MMA subs, and Shibata just came strong with strikes. The match ended when it should have, with a devastating kick, followed by a respectful bow to a mentor and friend after his win.

PAS: This was really, really good. Sakuraba brings such a legacy into a pro-wrestling match, and is great at telling the story of his life with wrestling as the medium. I loved how he would mix in stuff from Pride into a Shibata style potato fest, Sakuraba isn't going to stand in from of Shibata anymore then he would stand in front of Wanderlei Silva, so when Shibata starts to crack him, he moves right into a choke or a thai clinch or anything besides an exchange. Sakuraba's chokes were so cool, I loved the choke with the ankles and how he would scramble on Shibata's back counter ever attempt to throw him off. I didn't love the finish I have seen the kind of soccer kicks it takes to finish Sakuraba and that shot was no Ricardo Arona.

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Blogger discotortoise said...

This match was outstanding, of course. Only AJ's title defense against Ibushi & the first Honma-Ishii NEVER match felt like better offerings from NJ.

Do you guys have thoughts on the Bryan/Reigns-Usos match from a February SmackDown (2/10)? Shockingly, those four guys know how to work a tag match and have no apprehension about beating the shit out of each other. Never would have guessed, right?

I assume that Ambrose-Wyatt (1/5) & Cena-Cesaro (7/6) were considered but you two didn't feel them. If you want an exceptional low consequence TV match, Cesaro-Sin Cara (2/10) for Main Event was superb. Worth it just to see Hunico actually break out his really nice matwork.

Also, Akebono's TC defense over Miyahara (6/21) feels like a perfect mid-end MOTYC SC match.

2:58 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

I love getting recommendations, thank you!! Now to answer to the matches you brought up:

I'm sure I watched it but I don't honestly recall the Bryan/Reigns tag, and it sounds even more appealing now that we realize that we'll be getting next to know Bryan for the rest of our lives. I'll go back and revisit that one.

I believe the Ambrose/Wyatt match was the Ambulance match? If so that was one I had high hopes for, wanted to like as it was happening, but just did not like it. Felt like faux violence with artificial build. Tons of Shield/Wyatt matches landed on our list, including top spots, but this was a miss for me. Cena/Cesaro is definitely one for the list, just neither of us have written it yet. I need to do a Superstars/Main Event watch as I feel there may be some gems there (or just a bunch of lousy Ryder matches), but I've always loved syndicated TV.

All Akebono recommendations are welcome. All fatty recommendations send my way. I'll check that one out soonly.

3:34 AM  
Blogger discotortoise said...

Yeah, Bryman-Usos was a total hidden gem. Part of a "tag team turmoil" that was really just a gauntlet (nobody gained anything for winning except PRESTIGE, it was just to fuck with the top two). The rest are jobber squashes and a Big Snow/Kane finish that didn't do much for anyone involved. But those four get over 25 minutes to just play every role that they have. Usos as psycho evil twins with perfect short-tag stuff & Uso-in-Peril. Bryan as FIP and total dick just going Fu-Ten on the brothers. Reigns as FIP, and showing some humanity since it's now kayfabe that he'a a Samoan and then just hitting the "fuck it" switch and wrecking fools. Dives. Lots of headbutts and strikes of all kinds. And an absurdly perfectly timed home stretch set even by their standards. Only "bad" thing would be that it's a feuding partners match, but they play it well and the match is EPIC enough for it to play itself out way better than those matches usually ever do.

The ambulance match is a triumphant Ambrose selling performance, and the end sequence is pretty brutal for modern WWE. There's also a ton of spots that I liked around the ambulance that were just the weirdest version ever of an Ambrose-Wyatt match, like Ambrose trying to hit a rebound off of a gurney. Maybe it gets bonus points from me for being by far the best ambulance match ever.

Oh, and for Shield-Wyatts related matches, there's a pretty awesome fancam match from the Middle East tour in Ambrose/Cena-Harper/Rusev (2/13). Worth it if only to see how great the heels work as a team. It made me want them to give Harper a Rasputin gimmick for like six months after seeing it.

3:06 PM  
Blogger discotortoise said...

Non-WWE: Since Yehi's EVOLVE run has been beloved here, he had an OUTSTANDING match with fuckin' SLIM J last year (and Slim is also pretty damned good at this point). The supershow 2/3 falls blowoff for their "best of 5" feud in NWA Anarchy at HARDCORE HELL (3/28). Ton of great matwork. The first five were TV sprints and stuff, and are good, but I watched those after this and can say that it's safe to just watch this, because it's excellent.

To move just north in GA, Scenic City was a great tournament with a bunch of awesome folk (fucking TANK, fucking KONGO KONG, Moose, Caprice, Corey Hollis, Shaun Tempers) but Jimmy Rave was agreed to be its MVP as part of the agreed-upon megarenaissance of his in '14-'16, and his first-round match with Anthony Henry (8/6) seems to get credit as the MOTT. Henry is also very good but Rave is just a kingpin right now.

...Do you guys want to watch that first Hojo-Meiko match in Stardom (6/14)? My favorite match from Japan last year. Not a standard "modern joshi" match by any means, more like an inverted touring champ match with Meiko as the super-cagey vet against the world's most adorable champ trying her best to survive in Hojo. That involves some Dailymotion shenanigans to get. But it's a hell of a match.

I'll suggest 2016 stuff in the Briscoes/Burger-Moose Machine match because I want to talk some Cheeseburger.

3:33 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

Great! I'll throw those all in my "stuff to watch" pile. Although funny note about the Yehi/Slim match, Phil wrote that up as a MOTY nominee about 8 months ago, and it's been waiting for me to finish it. Yesterday morning I started it - completely independently of seeing you mention it here. So that's some odd timing.

Also, the 2015 Meiko/Kojo match appears to be disappeared. I can find a 2014 one and a 2016 one, but that 2015 one is of course removed.

7:07 PM  
Blogger discotortoise said...

I figured that it'd be trapped to being one where you need the URL.

12:11 AM  

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