Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, May 11, 2018

NJPW Sakura Genesis 4/1/18

ER: I saw AXS was showing much of this show, and I really dug the Sabre/Tanahashi match from a week or two before, and was excited to see what he could drag out of Okada. Rest of the card looks okay, but the guys I actually like are sprinkled throughout the card so it could be a nice sleeper show, or a show that will put me to sleep.

Minoru Suzuki/Davey Boy Smith Jr./Lance Archer vs. SANADA/Tetsuya Naito/EVIL

ER: Not bad, but really only notable for SANADA taking a bunch of big bumps off DBS/Archer throws. DBS is bland as hell, although his white mouth guard gives him a hateful quality as it makes him look like he has shitty veneers like trump jr. SANADA eats a big northern lights, bigger deadlift German, gets whipped hard into the mat off a sitout powerbomb, really makes KES look good. There were potentially interesting moments that never went anywhere due to cluelessness, like Naito and EVIL both dropkicking Archer in the knee a minute apart, first to get him to drop SANADA and later with a low Casas dropkick, but Archer sells dropkicks to the knee about like he'd sell a punch exchange, so we don't get any kind of vulnerability, and therefore not much interest.

El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. SHO/YOH vs. Hiromu Takahashi/BUSHI

ER: This could be fun, and El Desperado is easily one of my favorite guys in NJPW. I really liked him as Namajague in CMLL, and he's even better now. He and Kanemaru is a good team, and while Kanemaru wasn't usually one of my top 10 NOAH guys on a given tour, now he's grumpy and learned a more interesting base style than New Japan guys, coming up under Kings Road. He really rattles YOH's spine with a vertical suplex, and throws hard back elbows. All of these guys are really good foes for SHO and YOH, all 4 are good at setting up their offense without making it look dancy. SHO and YOH don't always hit hard or land hard or have follow through, but BUSHI and Takahashi made their offense shine. They're a little too generous at times, as a lot of this match was controlled by SHO/YOH, and I wasn't quite buying it. Desperado commits to making a silly triple German suplex work, taking the point position meaning he had to jump backwards and blind over 3 other bumping dudes, and BUSHI can plaster a guy into the guardrail with a tope. Kanemaru is officially awesome as he breaks up a pin by dragging the ref out of the ring by his foot and throwing him into the railing and looking at the ref like "why did you make me do that?" Ref deserves full WoW ref point for the bump too. I really need to seek out any Desperado/Kanemaru tag matches.

Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay

ER: I have been on a real positive Ospreay run, he's been almost exclusively a part of stuff I've liked in 2018, but daaaaaaaamn this will be the real test right here. If this turns out to be anywhere close to as good as the hype, Ospreay will probably end up in my top 25 at the end of the year. But man Scurll sucks in so many ways. He's verbal in a way that's more cornball than Barry Darsow, saying lame shit like "You Suck!" before a chop, stopping in between moves to taunt and pose more than the worst of RVD, and this one specific thing that really bugs me: He's got terrible aim. You watch old World of Sport and guys have these precision movements, all of them are practically ace sleight of hand artists, able to yank a foot or hand or be immediately right in the position they need to be. Scurll reaches. We know he's the worst of the fake World of Sport style guys, but he always fumbles for anything intricate. Even grabbing a knucklelock he's fumbling his hand around trying to find where to grip, he'll go to rip nostrils and be feeling around his opponent's face like he was Helen Keller, making his opponent have to just hold still until butterfingers can do his spot. He's no different here. But Ospreay is really good, and pays a lot more attention to little things than other swing dance instructor wrestlers. He swings low and fast on missed clotheslines, works rope running sequences fast and snug like Finlay used to do against Power Plant muscleheads, throws some hard strikes, and he can make opponents' offense look good and make bumps look painful, not just easy. He gets superkicked from the apron and crumples up and almost spikes his head into the floor, and he sells injuries so well that I've been tricked into thinking he's suffered mid-match injuries. His neck selling here is really good, really turning himself visually into a man who is now a dangerous driver because he can't turn his head to make sure he's merging safely. And giving credit where it's due, Scurll's neck work was good, and I liked that once Ospreay started selling the neck, Scurll went almost exclusively for neck impact moves. There's a dueling chant that...have I ever heard a dueling chant in Japan before? It sure doesn't sound familiar. But even then he's still way shittier than most. Guy can't just drop a guy on his head, he has to set up a fully implausible skin the cat tombstone spot. But Ospreay's snaps himself in half on a neckbreaker and gets me back into this. Ospreay is yelling so much that he sounds like the final 5 minutes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Every time he's touched he's grunting and shrieking in anguish. We get a real lousy punch exchange, and more Scurll making Ospreay freeze in time so he can get in a catchphrase, but Ospreay hits a couple cool kicks and then takes a throw over the top rope neck first on the edge of the apron. This guy is crazy and is really saving a shitty Scurll match. But as much as I love Ospreay's selling, it's really stupid how much dangerous stuff he still does with an injured neck. Like you think you'd change up your offense to avoid doing a Spanish Fly off the apron to the floor that smashes your own face on the apron on the way down (though it does bust him open and give him some good color). Scurll just can't help doing something shitty when he does something cool, which is more frustrating that just being shitty. He hits all these brutal stomps to Ospreay's neck, really pounding him, enough that I would have bought a stoppage finish. But right before that he set them up by doing a finger break spot on both of Ospreay's hands, and there's not a spot around that needs a breather like the finger break. And after all of the crazy shit that happens in this match, Ospreay wins with a cutter. Seriously? The fact that it comes moments after he had a couple fingers broken, had his neck stomped in, and got dropped on his head with a kneeling piledriver. He just kind of decides to come back and win with a cutter, even though Scurll hadn't taken much offense in the minutes before losing. An 80% great performance from Ospreay, and an 80% lousy performance from Scurll, we ended up with a match that was really good in spots, but overall frustrating.

Cody/Hangman Page vs. Kenny Omega/Kota Ibushi

ER: Cody is infinitely more interesting when Brandi is out there, gives him a whole different attitude and a better demeanor. She is not out there. However, Cody is also more interesting when standing next to Page, due to the sheer uninterestingness of Page. Page is the designated ugly friend. Cody throws nice short rights, can convincingly bully a guy into a corner, and warms my heard with a perfect Arn Anderson somersault bump after a shot to the stomach. I support his wearing of a weight belt like he was Masa Saito or something, but the whole "Nightmare" thing is pretty goofus. Ibushi and Omega can bump, obviously, and I liked them getting bodyslammed by Page on a table, but jamming in a Young Bucks conversation into the middle of the match was a really stupid idea. Just having them come out when Cody is about to leap off the top, and have everybody stop and stare at them so Matt can go "Come on. Come on, Cody. Com on," for a couple minutes effectively made this pretty uninteresting pretty quick. Ibushi has a real nice hot tag but I hate that they only went back in control because of that Young Bucks intervention. Now Cody is bleeding, lost momentum due to his buds trying to get him to dye his hair back, and he's somehow looking like the sympathetic figure in the match. That shouldn't be what they're going for. We hit a fun trainwreck spot of one guy running into to do a big move to someone who just did a big move, Ibushi really got planted on a Cody DDT, and Page gets planted himself on a snap dragon suplex. Setting up apron spots with Omega is always questionable, and we get a overly complicated dance involving all four guys, but the table that had been set up for this apron move does come nicely into play a few minutes later with Omega bumping back through it. But Cody cheating to set up a roll up win was pretty lame and didn't really go with the rest of the match.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada

ER: Jim Ross mentions Negro Navarro early, as Sabre's MMA trainer, and I have to rewind to make sure I heard that right. It's weird to me to think that JR might have watched a Negro Navarro match at some recent point. And I really liked this match, it was a brisk 35 minutes with a super strong Sabre showing, and Okada stepping it up nicely for their first singles together. I don't know if this was as good as any of the Tanahashi/Sabre series, but this was real good. Okada is a guy with usually bad execution on simple strikes and transitions, a guy who is mentally focused on the "big move" of a sequence so glosses over the stomach kicks and offense that's meant to missed, going on autopilot at times. Here he's really present, really facially sells that Sabre is tearing him apart, and really laces in some strikes like isn't always guaranteed. And I really liked the build to this, with them stressing that Okada had only tapped once (to Nakamura) and here you have Sabre who's been a submission spider monkey for the last 6 months. It's a classic, simple story: X is tough to beat a certain way, Y is the best at doing that certain way. And Sabre was awesome, really vicious with leg submissions. At one point he had his weight leaned so far back on a half crab that it looked like he was trying to rip Okada's leg out from the hip joint. I love when he works these nasty leg grapevines and we got some cool ones, and in one of the more vicious things I've ever seen him do, he does a standing twist with Okada's leg wedged between his legs. It looked really swift and violent. He even turned a dropkick into an STF in a pretty cool moment. Okada worked meaner than usual, throwing his forearms like he was Laettner coming down from a layup. They had a good brawl on the floor, with Sabre taking a couple great hard bumps on his hip, really making Okada's offense seem more dangerous than it felt, falling hard into the front row, really feigning a good asskicking. I still can't decide how I feel about the back half of the fight. Sabre wisely switched up his attack to Okada's arm, which is some more classic "weaken the champ's biggest weapon" stuff, but by the end it felt like he did so much nasty stuff to the arm, and it didn't once stop Okada from attempting to still use that arm. If Okada wins every match with the Rainmaker, and a submission guy who has been tapping everyone works on that Rainmaker arm for 10 minutes, and it doesn't weaken it one bit? That essentially makes Okada out to be the Terminator, which makes things a lot less fun. Okada hasn't lost in 2 years, and I think Sabre would have been an awful mega asshole to break that streak. I thought the arm submissions were awesome, some arm scissors, armbar caught from an elbow drop, dodging that Rainmaker into more armbars, and a tight triangle that really felt like the finish. But then Okada started dropping clotheslines anyway and it felt like it didn't matter. I did think Sabre kicking out of them felt big, and the tombstone dropped Sabre right on his dome, so I can't deny the brutality of that finish...But I also kind of resented that finish. This match review has taken me all evening to finish because I can't decide whether this was really damn good or really good but flawed.

I'm gonna go watch that I Hate Christian Laettner documentary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based Trump Jr. working this soyboy into a shoot.

1:59 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

Jokes on you, I own shares in Worthington and Morningstar Farms.

10:04 PM  

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