Note: A lot of the information in this article is based on a 2018 interview with Ikari Sadako. The video of the interview can be found here, and the translated transcript can be found here. The translation is a little rough, but if someone wants to read it, I recommend reading it side by side with the video playing so that you can get the context of the slides.
Minoru Suzuki in the Paradise Lock
SANADA is one half of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions along with EVIL. Minoru Suzuki is challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships soon after this match with Zack Saber Jr.
This match was a tale of two parts.
Jamie working over Momo's leg
Momo Watanabe is the ace of Stardom and the Wonder Of Stardom champion. Going into the match, she sits at 8 defenses. Io Shirai holds the record with 11 defenses. Jamie Hayter is Oedo Tai's newest member. She's ruthless and hungry to make a statement by knocking down Stardom's True Heart.
Going going gone!
"The Gatekeeper" Kelly Klein is the current Women Of Honor World champion. She is defending the title in every match. Her opponent is a newcomer, "Wild Thing" Rockelle Vaughn. She is a trainee of Booker T's Reality Of Wrestling in Texas, and she has an affinity for baseball.
Rey Mysterio Jr hitting the 619
This move makes no sense. It obviously makes no sense. One of the basic milestones of smart-fan-ness is pointing out how the 619 makes no sense. It's has a convoluted setup that takes a while to execute. It's not particularly impactful. It's illogical and non-organic. I don't know what Rip Rogers thinks of the 619, but I'm guessing that he hates it.
Objectively speaking, The 619 is one of the greatest moves in professional wrestling, and I absolutely love it.
Natsuko Tora hitting a knee on Utami Hayashishita
Queens Quest, Momo Watanabe, and Utami Hayashishita, are the young guns of Stardom. They've dominated the competition through much of the second half of 2018. Jungle Assault Nation, Jungle Kyona and Natsuko Tora, are the former champions. They dropped the titles to Queens Quest. After settling some internal turmoil, JAN are now on the same page and aiming for revenge.
All talks of the history of wrestling in Japan have to begin with Sumo. Sumo is the national sport of Japan. A millennium-old wrestling variant with roots in Shinto religion. Women and Sumo have had a contentious relationship throughout history. Until 1873, women were officially banned from watching Sumo. To this day women are not officially allowed to practice Sumo professionally. Although that should not be taken to mean that women do not practice Sumo. Women's Sumo Wrestling, Onnazumo, has been practiced for centuries. With it achieving various periods of popularity.
Old Sketch of Women's Sumo.
Outside of Japan, modern Women's Professional Wrestling has its roots in the mid-1800's sideshow entertainment. In America and in Europe grappling was seen as a masculine activity. On occasion, a woman made headlines when she defended herself via grappling, but in general, it was highly frowned upon by society for Women to grapple.
Bianca leaves a mark on Shayna
Shayna Baszler is a ruthless champion ruling NXT for most of 2018 with an iron fist. Using her superior technical ability and sadistic tactics to dominate the division. Bianca Belair is a hot shot new challenger. She's the fastEST, the strongEST, the boldEST. But above all else, she's undefeated. Can the champion solve the toughEST puzzle that is Bianca Belair?
The GOAT Vs a pervert
Welcome to the mad mad mad world of YMZ.
Jaguar Yokota might be the greatest Women's Wrestler of all time. She's very famous and important. Hikaru Sato is a pervert. Coming off a very strange year in 2018, his goal for 2019 is to become famous. Sato's plan to gain 15 minutes of fame is to get on the cover of Japanese gossip magazines by getting a famous MILF (Jaguar) in a compromising position while wrestling her. He makes it clear that he's going to do this with a fair and legal maneuver. He's a pervert, but he's has limits.
A human wrecking ball.
The Undisputed Era are tools that happen to be really great wrestlers, and The War Raiders are literally modern day Vikings that want to dominate NXT. These are two of the best tag teams, not just in WWE, but in the world today.
Grown men grabbing grown men and throwing them at other grown men is always awesome. It's a time tested formula that will never get old.
One year ago, Tam Nakano was forced to leave the Oedo Tai stable after losing a stipulation match to the Queens Quest stable, specifically dropping the final fall to Momo Watanabe. During that year Momo Watanabe rose up the ranks to become the leader of the current generation of Stardom and the standard of excellence for the company. Momo won and defended the Wonder Of Stardom title and Goddesses Of Stardom tag team titles while putting together one of the most impressive resumes of main event matches in all of 2018. Tam Nakano was not so lucky. She was adopted by the Stars stable and had a very chaotic year with many highs and many lows. Now that the health of Stars' leader, Mayu Iwatani is in question, Tam must prove that the Stars stable is more than just Mayu, and Tam herself is a force to be taken seriously.
A WWE crowd that was very into this match
Drew is awesome. Seth is awesome. They clash while on the road to the Royal Rumble. That's all great and all, but sometimes a match doesn't quite live up to its potential for a variety of reasons.
El Idolo about to fly
Mysterio and Andrade clashed the previous week in a tag team match that also featured Samoa Joe and Mustafa Ali. Andrade and Joe picked that the victory in that one. We are currently 2 weeks away from the Royal Rumble.
Sareee mid stomping marathon
Chihiro Hashimoto is the human tank prodigy of Sendai Girls. She's powerful, she's explosive, and she likes suplexing people to the center of the earth. Sareee comes from the Diana promotion. She's an all-offense warrior whose mission is to give her opponents hell.
Shuji Kondo working over Masaaki Mochizuki's legs
Shuji Kondo was an early Dragon Gate star that made his debut in Toryumon Japan in 2001. He was fired for undisclosed reasons in early 2005. He went on to have a great career in All Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestle-1. This is his first match in Dragon Gate in about 14 years. Masaaki Mochizuki is one of the leaders of Dragon Gate. He's been with the promotion since day one and has done it all.
The Assualt Commander taking Kid's head off
Hazuki is a badass reluctant champion trying to restore a once prestigious title back to its former glory. Starlight Kid is a promising prospect trying to prove that she isn't just the future of the company, but that she's a threat right now.
This was very good match that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of both wrestlers.
The beautiful KBS Hall
Kai and Yamato are pretty boy babyfaces, and Pac and Yasushi are bad bad men with a numbers advantage. This is a mid show tag team match on a smaller Dragon Gate show. My main reasons for checking it out are to jump in on Dragon Gate early in 2019, I'll take any excuse to watch a KBS Hall show, and because I really like Yamato and Pac.
Kaito and Kenou locked an epic battle
I'm very hard pressed to think of "what could they have done better?" for this review. This was a very high level main event match by two highly skilled wrestlers at the top of their game.
The champion has the challenger down
Rhea defeated Toni to become the inaugural NXT UK Women's champion back in August. This is their second title match.
Few things in wrestling today appear to be as polarizing as Toni Storm's selling. If you ask Dave Meltzer about Toni's selling, he'll tell you that he loves it. To him, it's one of her best qualities. If you ask certain fans that are highly critical of Toni's work, they will tell you that her selling sucks. That she's not believable enough. Personally, I'm a lot closer to Meltzer in this case. I' not sure that I would go as far as him, but I've always liked the way that Toni sells. It's not too over the top while projecting pain well. She's also improved over time when it comes to projecting frustration while showing that she's in pain. I wouldn't call her one of the best in the world at selling, but her selling is very solid. I felt this match was a good showcase for that. They played off the story of the first title match with Toni's back pain. And generally, I felt like Toni's selling really kept the fans invested in the match.
A girl group performing
ActWres Girl Z has used the initials "AgZ" in the past, and a lot of people still use that, but I will be using AWG instead because it's what the company is currently applying for itself.
The AWG dancing
The show kicks off with a girl group musical performance. I'm not sure who the group is, but the song is enjoyable. It's a pop-rock tune. The only words I can make out in English are "S.O.S." . That is followed by a dance routine by the actual wrestlers. AWG has a rep for being a very musical wrestling promotion, and with good reason. Both opening numbers are kept relatively short and don't overstay their welcome. They last maybe 3 minutes each.
Cheerleader Melissa in TNA
Sometimes it's just as important to study the failures, not only the successes that a company has. TNA's mid to late 2000's Women's Division is often pointed to as a shining beacon in the sea of terrible women's wrestling in his American Professional Wrestling history, and rightfully so. The Gail Kim Vs. Awesome Kong feud is probably one of the best feuds in American Professional Wrestling of the past 15 years. With that being said, there was more to TNA's Knockouts's division than just that and the good times did not last forever.
Just Plain Nasty!
The Hart Foundation was absolutely beloved by this crowd. The crowd lived and died by everything The Hart Foundation did in this match. Bret was basically fully formed as an in-ring wrestler by this point. He had all his signature moves down, the crowd knew them, and he was about five months away from his first IC title reign. Based on his pre-match promo, Bret still needed a little bit of work on those. He would get a lot better on the mic. Anvil was Anvil. He didn't evolve much during the years. He did what he did, and it mostly worked for him.
Welcome to the Tokyo Dome.
Cobb suplexing two men...because he can.
A fun match to kick off the day. Nagata and Suzuki looked good in the match. I would love to see them go one on one again. Cobb is a monster. The Best Friends looked good early on. Killer Elite Squad are formidable powerhouses. Yano is the one true ball-shot Ace. Overall, a lot of people got to show off due to the relatively long length. You could probably put together an entertaining card just with people from this match. Yano nails a pair of low blows and schoolboys Smith for the win.
Ray in White. Silueta in green.
This match is for the CMLL-Reina International Junior Title. The match is taking place at Arena Mexico. Ray is the champion going into the match. Silueta debuted in 2006 and has wrestled primarily for CMLL. Ray debuted in 2003, and she wrestled as a freelancer across various companies in Japan.
The match starts with Ray gaining the advantage by using her agility to execute a nice looking armdrag. Silueta uses her grappling skills to take down Ray, and they exchange holds on the ground before they both stand and Silueta hits a big armdrag on Ray. Things start getting heated. Silueta and Ray grab each other's hair. The commentary mentions that one of Silueta's teachers was El Satanico, who was one of the top heels in Mexico in the 1980s. Ray tries a couple of kicks, but Silueta catches Ray's leg, she spins Ray around and hits a big clothesline. Silueta goes for the pin, but only gets a one count. Ray gets back to her feet and quickens the pace. She comes off the ropes for a lucha armdrag. Silueta gets back on her feet. She takes down Ray with a flying head scissors. Silueta submits Ray with a reverse crab. Silueta wins the first fall.
Welcome to family friendly wrestling.
This is OVW's first TV episode. At this point in time, the promotion is called "Ohio Valley Championship Wrestling." It was previously founded in 1993 as NWA-Ohio.
Announcer Dean Hill welcomes us to the show. He promises good clean family friendly wrestling. Call back to USWA as an example of what we can expect. This was the height of controversial, risky professional wrestling in WWF, ECW, and WCW. So OVW is presenting itself as an alternative to that.
Dean establishes that Rip Rogers is the Heavyweight Champion. Ring announcer Faye Davis introduces the competitors in the first match.
Titanes Del Ring. A product that dares you to review it fairly.
I find review scoring systems to be a necessary evil. When I was planning this blog, I went back and forth on whether I was going to use an official scoring system, and which scoring system to use. Ultimately I settled on yes. I will use a scoring system.
The main thing that gave me pause about using a scoring system is that I view professional wrestling as an art form above all else, and I don't think you can quantify an art form pass a certain level. Let's take the standard Professional Wrestling scoring model, which I believe was created by Jim Cornette and popularized by the Wrestling Observer. "5 Star Match". I hate it - a lot. I find it silly that anyone thinks they can quantify match types across promotions and styles to the point that there is a meaningful difference between a 4 1/4-star match and a 4 1/2-star match. What exactly is the difference between those two? Especially when you are using the same scale to rate matches that can be as wildly different as UWFi and Kaiju Big Battel. Then there are negative stars, and above 5-star matches, etc. The more value that one places on the standard scoring system and more hardcore one gets about it the more the scoring system starts to break down, which is a shame because it's one of the few universally accepted analytical tools in today's wrestling fandom.
Fans today may not realize that AJW was doing major annual shows on January 4th years before NJPW. In the case of AJW, these January 4th shows served the purpose of setting the stage for the rest of the year. Often featuring future main event talents in important matches, and a main-event match headlined by the biggest stars.
AJW yearly opening ceremony for 1983.
The show kicked off with a ceremony for the roster. The heels entered one side of the arena and the babyfaces from the other. AJW always kicked off their first show of the year with some sort of ceremony. The video cut off in the middle of the ceremony. What we saw looked fine.
Mayu Iwatani, Hazuki, and Tam Nakano. Three of my favorites.
OK, manifesto might be a bit exaggerated, but this is an introduction to my professional wrestling blog, Top Rope Chronicles. Its launch is on January 1st, 2019. The general goal of the blog is to post-show reviews, match reviews, and occasional opinion articles written by me.
Who am I? Well, my real world name is Juan. I'm a 33 years old professional wrestling fan. I've gone by several names online, but my main handles have been "Xalazi", "Fadedendless", and just "Endless". I've been a fan for as long as I can remember. My interests as a professional wrestling fan vary and shift from time to time, but I have a little bit of experience with most of the various styles and major companies out there.