I'm not sure what kind of interest level we have in Japanese wrestling here at the W, but I thought I would share this here in the interest of spreading word about good wrestling out there.
I came across Mike Campbell's review of NJPW's 40th Anniversary Show (from March 4, 2012), and he waxed eloquent about the main event, so I decided to check it out. I'd never heard of Okada or Naito, so I was intrigued as to why these guys were closing the show in the IWGP title match when you also had names like Nakamura, Tanahashi, Lyger, etc. on the show. But boy was this match good!
To me, it was just the perfect blend of WWE main event style and NJPW strong style. Hard srikes, head bumps, AND selling. They tell you a solid story and don't forget to sell when they're in control (well, Okada doesn't, for the most part; Naito forgets to every once in a while). Okada looks like an arrogant, smiling douche Champion, and Naito seems to be the babyface (though he is spectacularly ugly). There is a snap in their moves, the movement is crisp, and even though I cannot understand a single word of commentary, I cannot help but be drawn into their story. Also, the crowd is absolutely IN LOVE with Naito. I've never seen a Japanese crowd react to a wrestler this way.
Out of curiosity, I also checked out Nakamura's match from the same show, and I can't help but be impressed by him. For the uninitiated, Nakamura looks, acts, and moves like a dangerously unhinged bum. But when he's in, he makes you watch. And he puts new meaning into "can finish from anywhere at any time." Karl Anderson is also impressive.
Actually, the show was in 2012 not 2013. Naito got hurt that October and was on the shelf only until about a week or so ago.
I was at the show when he came out to announce he was coming back and the crowd was pumped.
Okada was someone I had to warm up to. He doesn't have a wide moveset but the Rainmaker (short-arm clothesline) is really over as a finisher. Plus, he makes it rain every time he comes to the ring.
If you're not in the mood for it, watching Shinsuke Nakamura do his weird shimmying and whatnot can be annoying but then he'll follow it up with some brutal knee to the head and all is right in the world.
I still think Anderson should have come over with Tensai but then Anderson got a brief mini-push as a face (almost all the foreigners including Anderson are now in a heel faction led by Prince Devitt) and Tensai bombed so maybe it was for the best.
Originally posted by LostInUbe I was at the show when he came out to announce he was coming back and the crowd was pumped.
Is Naito getting these kind of reactions regularly? I haven't watched a whole lot of Puro, but Naito was getting some uncharacteristically huge babyface reactions throughout that match.
Originally posted by LostInUbeOkada was someone I had to warm up to. He doesn't have a wide moveset but the Rainmaker (short-arm clothesline) is really over as a finisher.
The Rainmaker was impressive, as was that piledriver into the knee. That move looked BRUTAL. I kept thinking, someone in America needs to be doing that on a regular basis.
Originally posted by LostInUbeIf you're not in the mood for it, watching Shinsuke Nakamura do his weird shimmying and whatnot can be annoying but then he'll follow it up with some brutal knee to the head and all is right in the world.
Nakamura's an old favorite of mine, and I've been pleasantly surprised with how he's evolved into this chaotic, unhinged, arrogant douchebag. I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me the Boma Ye makes up for everything else.
Well, I don't really follow as much as I used to but I think Naito is one of the top faces after Tanahashi and maybe Hirooki Goto.
Of course, this being Japan face/heel is not an obstacle to being cheered so Okada and Nakamura are also quite over with the fans (I remember seeing at least two fans with the same Shinsuke perm at the show).
I've heard good things about NJPW Dominion iPPV from 6.22.13, including a resounding endorsement by Scott Keith. And as bitter as he is about the state of WWE wrestling, the man does seem to know his Puro, so I'll be checking out that show next. That also seems to be the show where Naito made his in-ring return, so maybe LostInUbe has already seen it.
The card is highlighted by Okada v Makabe, so it'll be interesting to see how Okada looks in that defense. Apparently, Okada caught a bit of flak for having essentially the same match against Naito that he had against Takahashi. I don't necessarily agree with that criticism, though - if you're producing four-star matches with that formula, why change?
Plus, there is the obligatory Nakamura tag match. There are appearances by a lot of familiar faces, including TAKA, Jushin Liger, Alex Shelley, David Hart Smith (now Davey Boy Smith Jr), Lance Hoyt (now Archer), Shelton Benjamin, and Rob Conway of all people.
I believe they've been doing Coach & Todd Grisham. I'm you can figure out how well THAT team did. They're either in the process of trying to find somebody else for the role or Grisham just had the night off for some reason.