Sunday, April 14, 2019

Jimbo's Quarterly Rasslin' Round-Up (Q1 2019 EDITION!)

Are you ready for a whirlwind recap of the best, the worst and the most random pro wrestling matches of the last three months? Hold on to your Hulkamania t-shirts, folks — it's time to rumble.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com

It's truly another golden age for the pro rasslin,' and with so many promotions out there puttin' on so many matches on a nigh daily basis, it can get a little confusing differentiating the cream from the crap. Thus, we here at The Internet Is In America has decided to help many a brother out by publishing our own quarterly, DVDVR-inspired rundown of random matches from across the full spectrum of professional wrestling, be it the bigs like the WWE and New Japan or the indies established and developing in the U.S., Japan and Mexico.

Throughout the year we're going to review eight matches in-depth from every month across four quarterly installments. As far as the match selections are concerned, we'll be taking a good, long gander at all sorts of bouts, including the critically praised, snowflake showered New Japan super main events, the best the WWE has to offer, CMLL and AAA's marquee offerings, whatever the fuck All Japan, NOAH and the rest of the Nippon B-leaguers are up to and the most noteworthy (and bizarre) indie outings from the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada and wherever they hell else the masses have a penchant for men in their underwear pretending to kill one another for five dollars a ticket.

(Oh, and a reminder — unlike that weeb jabroni Dave Meltzer, we here at The Internet Is In America actually has a scientific rubric to explain our star ratings, which you can evaluate anytime you want right here.)

But enough jibber-jabber ... let's head down to the ring and get this shit started proper, why don't we?

Anyway, that's how they feel about LGBTQI rights in Suplex City...

JANUARY 2019 MATCHES

Jan. 04, 2019
Taiji Ishimori vs. KUSHIDA (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13)

This is for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. In one of the scariest things you'll ever see, this one little kid comes out wearing a shockingly realistic mask of Kushida's face. Then this Japanese dude dressed like Doc Brown comes out, hits a button on a switch and a whole buncha' fog sprays out near the stage and the REAL Kushida emerges, albeit while still wearing a comically undersized replica championship belt. Man, that is the most Japanese shit to ever happen right there. Not that it's really a surprise, but both of these guys look like K-Pop boy band singers, which means they look like lesbians. Competing hammer locks to begin. Taiji does a whole bunch of flips and Kushida says "fuck that" and just kicks him. Kushida with a cartwheel and a missile dropkick to the face. And another one. He goes for a tilt-a-whirl armbreaker and Taiji converts it into a Yes Lock variation. Then he turns it into a Crippler Crossface and the announcers try REAL hard to say you-kn0w-who's name. Kushida gets a rope break. They take turns slapping each other with these really pussy-looking slaps and Taiji connects on a flying ballsack to the face off the top rope. Taiji hits Kushida with a sliding German suplex, which means Kushida just kind of falls backward off the ropes. Taiji goes for a 450 splash and Kushida counters it with an ankle lock and a modified crossface. Then he starts working a triangle, with some REALLY shitty looking elbows from the bottom. Kushida looks for a keylock and Taiji spins around the champ a full three or four rotations and then he tries to tombstone him but Kushida breaks the laws of physics and reverses it by jumping backwards and Taiji lands on the ref and Kushida takes the opportunity to kick his foe while he's all racked up. Taiji goes for that shitty flipping piledriver into a knee-to-the-face and he lands it but it's so absurd looking nobody in the audience reacts to it. Kushida looks for another keylock. I don't know who the British guy doing commentary is, but fuck him. Taiji rolls out of it and hits a Death Valley Driver. Then he hits Kushida with a running knee to the face and from there it's counters galore, with Kushida fucking popping Taiji right in the face and then Ishimori just no sells out and hits his "Bloody Cross" finisher for the 1, 2 and 3.

My Score: *** 1/4

The Verdict: A fun match that thankfully kept the usually junior heavyweight flippy-dippy diving bullshit to a minimum. Still, it really didn't feel like anything truly special ... indeed, it felt like a pretty basic, paint-by-numbers house show bout instead of what SHOULD have been a paint-the-walls-red-and-break-all-the-furniture soiree, considering it's the biggest show of the year and all. Again, for what it was worth it was good, but it was nowhere close to being anything even remotely great 'rasslin, I'm afraid.

Jan. 04, 2019
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13)

Cyrus the Virus says Gedo looks like a middle-aged rapper. Meanwhile, I had no idea Gedo turned on Okada and became Jay White's manager. Anyway, Jay White is literally the least-wrestler-looking wrestler of all-time ... he looks more like some community college dork who does YouTube reviews of New Japan shows than anyone who has any business in an actual 'rasslin ring. Oh well ... at least Okada is blond again. All of the fans are Japanese, so of course they're cheering for Okada to win. The announcers remind us this is the only non-title fight on the card, which Cyrus says demonstrates just how "personal" this feud really is. Gedo tries to trip Okada when he's bouncing off the ropes and then Jay Saito suplexes Okada over the top rope. White whips Okada into the ringside barrier, then he starts pinballing him against the guardrail and the edge of the canvas. White works a neck wrench back in the ring. You know, Jay White kinda' looks like Trent Reznor a little bit, which makes me dislike him even more. Then they have the WORST slap fight in the history of wrestling and White drops Okada with a snapmare. Okada shifts the momentum with a spinning elbow off the ropes and a DDT. Cyrus says Okada is like Bret Hart because his move set is very predictable. No, he actually did, on the company's biggest show of the year. Okada drop kicks White off the top rope and he punts "Switch Blade" over the guard rail. Then Okada slings his former manager over the the guard rail and he wipes both of those motherfuckers out with a flying body press. Okada with a scoop slam and a Macho Man Randy Savage elbow drop off the top rope. ~RAINMAKUH POSE CAMERA PAN OUT TIME~ White hits a reverse STO and a German suplex. White hits a uranage but Okada kicks out at two. White lands a clothesline and Gedo distracts the ref so White can grab a chair and try to thwack Okada with it. Of course, there's a hilarious miscue and Okada tries to land the Rainmaker, but White counters it into a T-bone suplex. He lands the "Kiwi Krusher" but Okada kicks out. White goes for the Blade Runner and Okada counters it into a Tombstone piledriver. White goes for the Blade Runner again, but Okada converts it into a backslide leading to a dropkick. There's ANOTHER Rainmaker reversal into a Blade Runner into a piledriver, into ANOTHER Blade Runner into a spinning rainmaker, but White manages to reverse the subsequent Rainmaker into the Blade Runner for the three-count.

My Rating: ***

The Verdict: This really felt like something you would see at WrestleMania, and that's both a positive and a negative. There was WAY more sports-entertainment tomfoolery going on in this one than your average Tokyo Dome contest, and that in-ring minimalism actually helped the match in some regards. The ending was pretty good, but guys, I'm just not buying the hype on this Jay White jabroni; it's clear that NJPW *thinks* they've got another breakout gaijin star on their hands to pander to American audiences, but this guy just doesn't have that "it factor" whatsoever ... that is, unless you put an "sh" in front of that aforementioned "it factor," naturally.

Jan. 04, 2019
Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13)

A rematch for the IWGP Intercontinental title. Hey, wasn't Naito wrestling for the "real" championship at last year's show? Man, the Japanese wrestling industry is brutal. Naito comes out wearing a werewolf mask (I don't even know) and Jericho — now calling himself "The Alpha," for whatever reason — comes out wearing a leather jacket with spikes on it, black lipstick and a fedora. So, yeah, if he would've come to the ring literally sucking another dude's dick, he wouldn't look as gay as he looks right now. Anyway, Naito Pearl Harbors Jericho before the bell because, as we all know, that's what the Japanese do and then Naito starts strangling Jericho with his own shirt and slamming his head into one of those skinny-ass buffet tables at ringside. Oh, by the way, this is a no disqualification match, in case you didn't know such. Naito piledrives Jericho on the ramp and stomps his American, more circular-eyed foe while he's down. Then he takes one of the turnbuckle pads off and whacks Jericho with it. Yeah, eat foam padding you American asshole that's actually from Canada. Naito with a headscissors takedown and he clotheslines Jericho over the top rope and then Jericho whacks him with a Kendo stick while he's bouncing off the ropes like a retard. Except on the replay, you can see Jericho missing Naito's head completely. Whoops. Back in the ring Jericho plays that schoolyard favorite "let's pretend Naito's a recaptured slave" and canes that Japaheeno real good. Jericho is not fit at all these days — his chest looks like a beige sack filled with door knobs. Jericho grabs a camera and we have FIRST PERSON obscene gestures, ya'll. Then he suplexes Naito on the floor and DDTs him on a table and Naito sells the fuck out of it ... no lie, that THUD when his head connected with wood was downright sickening. Back in the ring and Jericho hits a body splash off the top rope. Naito kicks out. Jericho hits a lionsault off the ropes, but Naito kicks out of that, too. Then Naito lands a couple of dropkicks and Naito spits on Jericho (but misses his face by about two feet) and connects on a neckbreaker. What do you know, Jericho kicks out of that, as well. Naito goes for another dropkick and, oops, Jericho counters it with the Walls of Jericho. Naito makes it the ropes and hits a tornado DDT off the ropes. Naito with a pumphandle suplex and Jericho kicks out. Jericho locks in the WOJ again and Naito struggles to make it to the ropes. Naito manages to grab hold of a Kendo stick and smacks Jericho good with it so he'll break the hold. Holy fuck, Naito don't know how to swing worth a shit. Jericho hits the Codebreaker, but Naito kicks out at two. Jericho rolls to the outside and throws a couple of chairs into the ring. Jericho threatens to powerbomb Naito on the pile of furniture but Naito counters it into a DDT, and then he hits Jericho with a Codebreaker of his own. Jericho kicks out and Naito German suplexes him on some chairs. Jericho gets a low blow and lands another Codebreaker, but Naito kicks out of that, too. You know, knowing the chairs are made out of plastic instead of steel really kind of breaks the illusion, man. Naito hits a DESTINO out of nowhere but Jericho kicks out. Naito tries to pull his eyeball out, grabs the IWGP belt and clocks Jericho with it. He lands one more DESTINO and yep, that's what gets him the three count.

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: An alright brawl, but it was NOWHERE near as good as their first encounter, nor was it as good as the match Jericho had with Omega at last year's show. Watching Naito kinda turn the tables on Jericho and take the offensive first was kinda' cool, but there really wasn't a lot here that we haven't already seen before. The DDT on the table was cool, but all of the bullshit with the Kendo stick and chairs was pretty lame — considering this is supposed to be New Japan's biggest show of the year, this can't be considered anything BUT a disappointing co-main.

Jan. 04, 2019
Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13)

This is it, folks, the one for all the marbles. We start off slow and we all LOL when Kevin Kelly says Kenny Omega is "the most physically dominant" champion in pro wrestling today. Nigga, you do know the WWE has a former UFC champion as their title-holder, right? Anyway, Tanahashi works an ankle lock early, while Omega tries to make the challenger smell his balls. Then they exchange girly-ass slaps and the commentary team has to pretend like they're actually dangerous. "You're ideology should be winning and making money," Cyrus comments. Well, that's good advice. Omega kicks Tanahashi while he's belly up on the mat. Omega with a running backbreaker and Tanahashi kicks out at two. Then Omega starts punching Tanahashi's spine, because he's cold-blooded. Omega with another high-angle back suplex. Then he does it again, this time on the edge of the mat. Cyrus compares this match to Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, because apparently, that nigga is blind. Omega bodyslams Tanahashi over the guardrail onto the Japanese announce table. Hey, has anybody else noticed how much Togi Makabe looks like Guy Fieri? Omega hits a moonsault off the guardrail and wipes out Tanahashi and a couple of other Japanese fellas while he's at it. Omega sets up a table at ringside and both men re-enter the ring. Tanahashi with a dragon screw leg whip. He follows suite with a dropkick, body slam and somersault senton. Omega kicks out. Omega with the Kitaro Crusher. That's how you spell it, right? Eh, I don't give a fuck. Tanahashi lands a cheap dropkick and Omega ripostes with a hurricanrana. Omega with the Terminator senton dive to the outside, complete with the Young Cucks drumming on the apron. Omega goes up top and dropkicks Tanahashi on the shoulder. Omega lands the snap dragon suplex and there's our first of what will undoubtedly be MANY V-Triggers in this bout. Omega "tweaks" his knee on that gay-ass "You Can't Escape" roll thing and Tanahashi dragon screws Omega off the top rope. Tanahashi lands a "Twist and Shout" and works on a Texas ... err, Japan Cloverleaf? Oh shit, nigga be going for a Styles Clash and he LANDS IT. Tanahashi goes for the frog splash, but Omega gets his knees up. There's V-Trigger number two. Tanahashi lands the Sling Blade OFF the side of the apron. Hey, there's Chekov's table, still just sitting there all by its lonesome. Anybody else really dig how these New Japan cameramen are conveniently numbered and shit so we can easily recognize them? So Hiroshi goes up top to frog splash Omega through the table, but what do you know, Omega rolls out of the way and Tanahashi crashes through it. Wait, did that Limey cocksucker on commentary just refer to it as "Chekov's table?" Motherfucker, *I* am the one who coined that term ... you New Japan fucks better be ready to pay me some royalties. Rather than take the countout win, Omega rolls Tanahashi back into the ring at 19. Omega with a double stomp to Tanahashi's back while he's dangling off the ropes and he follows suit with a powerbomb. Three of them, actually, but Tanahashi kicks out of all of 'em. Now Omega is choking Hiroshi with his bare hands and Tanahashi gets up and hits him with a Sling Blade. Now they're taking turns tradin' fist burgers. This is like the opposite of that epic Kobashi/Kensuke chop-a-thon from 2005. Omega with a German suplex, but Tanahashi no sells it. Omega hits Tanahashi with his own version of a Sling Blade and a High Fly Flow frog splash that Tanahashi kicks out of at one. V-Trigger number three, ya'll. And there's V-Triggers, uh, four through nine, I wanna' say. Tanahashi dropkicks Omega's knee out from underneath him and Omega does the Reverse-Rana. V-Trigger No. 10. Omega goes for the One Winged Angel and Tanahashi reverse it with his own Reverse-Rana. Tanahashi with a high-bridge German suplex and Omega kicks out at two. Tanahashi lands Aces High and the High Fly Flow (or whatever the fuck you call it) and Omega still kicks out. Hiroshi climbs the top rope again and Omega hits V-Trigger #11. Omega threatens to dragon suplex Tanahashi off the top rope and he lands it. Thankfully, Tanahashi didn't land on the top of the head like Okada did that one time. V-Trigger, what is that, number 12? Omega sets up the OWA, but Tanahashi counters it with a flapjack and a Sling Blade. He goes up one more time and he connects on the frog splash ... and this time, it nets him the three-count and the IWGP title for an eighth time.

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: It took some time to develop, but ultimately, that was a pretty good little main event. Of course, it was nowhere near as good as the last five or six Jan. 04 mains, but it served its purpose well enough. You nerds on the Internet can bicker back and forth whether going the jingoistic route and giving the belt back to Hiroshi was the right call for business, but as far as I'm concerned? Getting the strap off Omega couldn't happen soon enough ... here's to hoping we're going to be getting some IWGP title bout through 2019 that are a lot more Japan than they are New (as in "nu-male") with the Ace as the company's main man again.

Jan. 26, 2019
Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT TakeOver: Phoenix)

You ever notice how much Ricochet looks like former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson? Well, that's fitting, because they also appear to draw the same number of dimes ... which is few. I think Gargano is supposed to be a heel, but the fans still cheer for him anyway. Gargano with a headlock takedown. Gargano with a shoulder takedown and ricochet does some flippy shit before Gargano starts hitting him with a whole bunch of hurrancarans, but Ricochet being 99 percent soy, he's able to just safely land on his feet, regardless. Gargano work and arm wrench in the corner and Ricochet lands a hurricanrana and a dropkick, then he sticks an Asai moonsault off the edge of the mat. Ricochet slaps Gargano's "whiskers," per Mauro, and then Gargano pulls Ricochet face down on the top turnbuckle. Gargano with a dropkick to the back of Ricochet's skull. Now he has a modified abdominal stretch locked in. Ricochet goes for a standing moonsault but Gargano gets his knees up. Now Garganois working this weird-looking armbar that still looks 20 times more impressive than any of Zach Sabre's fake-ass Battlarts wannabe submission bullshit. Hey, I just noticed, Gargano's ring attire is Cleveland Cavaliers' themed. Gargano goes for a slingshot spear and Ricochet hits Gargano with a standing moonsault on his back. Ricochet drops Gargano with a lariat, a flying headscissors and a series of elbows in the corner. There's the springboard European uppercut and the rolling Northern Lights Suplex into a brainbuster. Just a two count, though. Gargano connects on a powerbomb on a failed Ricochet hurricanrana attempt and locks in a CRIPPLER CROSSFACE. But he can't lock in the Gargano Escape, though. Gargano goes for a slingshot DDT but Ricochet just grabs him by the neck and throughs his honky ass over the top rope. Ricochet hits a running Fosbury Flop to the outside and Ricochet lands a standing shooting star press followed by a top rope moonsault. Yep, Gargano kicks out at two. Gargano goes for a top rope Frankensteiner, but Ricochet lands on his feet. Gargano with a superkick, Ricochet ripostes with a Pele kick. Ricochet goes for a springboard elbow and Gargano counters it into the Gargano Escape. Ricochet deadlifts Gargano and slings him into the corner. Oh fuck, Kingdom Hearts III is coming out and none of you motherfuckers told me about it? Ricochet goes up top and Gargano starts rolling to the outside. Of course, Ricochet doesn't give a fuck, so he lands a running cannonball to the outside and a springboard 450 when he's back in the ring. Ricochet goes up top once more. He goes for a shooting star press but Gargano gets his knees up. Gargano super kicks Ricochet out of the ring. He goes for a suicide dive but Ricochet catches him, but Gargano is able to reverse it into a reverse Frankensteiner. He hits the slingshot DDT but Ricochet kicks out at two. Gargano pulls the foam padding off the ringside mat and threatens to DDT Ricochet on the concrete. Gargano "comes to his senses," though, and foregoes the maneuver. Ricochet goes up top, but he misses on the Phoenix Splash, allowing Gargano to connect on a superkick ... only for Ricochet to lock in the Gargano Escape. Well, I didn't see that coming, for one. Gargano struggles to get to the ropes to break the hold. Gargano shoves Ricochet into the ring post and he hits Ricochet with a brainbuster on the concrete floor. Gargano rolls Ricochet's carcass back into the ring and he LANDS the slingshot DDT. 1,2, and 3 ... you're NEW NXT CHAMPION, Johnny Gargano!

My Rating: **** 1/4

The Verdict: That was a fuckin' excellent match right there. Yeah, you could complain about the spamming of the finishers and everybody going Super Saiyan at the tail end of it and not selling nothing, but on the whole? From start to finish, it was just a fun, frenetic and lightning fast match, which even managed to incorporate a little bit of character psychology towards the end. Unless you absolutely can’t stomach the occasional flippy bullshit, it’s hard to find much of anything to complain about in this one.

Jan. 26, 2019
Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa (NXT TakeOver: Phoenix)

Black has this entrance where he rises up from a cloudy grave like Dracula, only you can see the hydraulic equipment lifting him up. LOL, OOPS. Is it just me, or does anybody else think Ciampa looks suspiciously like Keegan-Michael Key? An early collar-and-elbow tie-up leads to a tumble to the outside. Black, who is actually white, with a waistlock takedown, but Ciampa is right back up. Ciampa works an armwrench and Black goes for a quick pin attempt for a one count. Now Black is working a side headlock. Ciampa gets back body dropped and Black locks in another side headlock. Black kicks Ciampa out of the ring and Ciampa basically pulls guard to avoid the roundhouse kick. Ciampa kicks Black while he's sitting Indian style in the middle of the ring and Black lands a rolling senton to the outside. Black with elbow strikes and a couple of knees to the noggin. Black with a quebrada, but Ciampa kicks out at two. Ciampa slings Black's knee into the metal steps at ringside, then the tosses him shoulder first into the adjacent set of steps. Then Ciampa suplexes that Dutch nigga' knee first on the metal steps, cause he's COOOOLD-BLOOOODED. Now Ciampa is yanking on Black's knee in the middle of he ring. I guess you'd call that move a modified Indian deathlock, maybe? Ciampa with a jumping knee breaker in the corner, and yep, that looked hurty. Ciampa continues to punish Black's injured leg, calling him "a one trick pony" as he pounds away on the challenger. Ciampa slams Black's knee on the Spanish announce table, and then he mocks his foe by sitting Indian style on top of the royally messed up table. Black kicks Ciampa right in the face with his good leg as Ciampa tries to take a sip of bottled water. Black hobbles his way back into the ring and Ciampa cuts him out at the knees with a basement-low dropkick. Black sets Ciampa up in the tree of woe, but the Dutch Destroyer manages to escape and hit the champ with a flying kick that sends Ciampa crumbling off the top rope. Black kicks the taste of Ciampa's mouth and staggers him with a series of clotheslines. Ciampa kicks out at two. Ciampa goes for the Fairy Tale Ending, but Black escapes and Black goes for a cheap pin attempt. No dice there. Black with more kicks and a German suplex. Ciampa with a dragon screw leg whip and a single leg crab. Black escapes and he locks Ciampa in a single leg crab of his own. Ciampa breaks the hold and hits Black with a DEADLY looking jawjacker off the top rope. That really should've been a three-count right there, but Black nonetheless kicks out. Black hits Ciampa with a jumping knee, and then Ciampa returns the favor. We've got an exchanging of forearm shots with Ciampa almost picking up the ace on a cheap roll-up attempt. Ciampa takes Black off his feet with a clothesline and Black double stomps the champ. He goes for the Black Mass but Ciampa escapes. He hits a modified brainbuster on the rebound, but Ciampa kicks out of that, too. Black hits a moonsault to the outside and tosses Ciampa back into the ring. Ciampa hits the Fairy Tale Ending, but Black kicks out at two. Ciampa says "fuck this" and starts peeling off the foam padding on top of the concrete floor. Huh ... haven't we seen this somewhere before? Black hits Ciampa with a flying knee while the champ bickers with the ref. Black lands a spinning kick in the ring, but he's too injured to make the pin attempt. Ciampa hits the draping DDT and the Fairy Tale Ending, but yep, Black kicks out of that, too. Ciampa goes for a third Fairy Tale Ending, but he doesn't go for the automatic pin. Black goes for a spinning kick, but his knee gives out ... thus, allowing Ciampa to connect with his FOURTH Fairy Tale Ending of the but to FINALLY give him the W.

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: Another solid NXT Championship bout, although not one without some notable flaws. Thankfully, although the match took some time to get rolling, once it kicked into high gear it was plum fantastic, complete with a final ten-minute ending sequence which embodies pretty much everything the E is getting right with the NXT brand … and, conversely, exposing EVERYTHING wrong they’re doing with their mainline in-ring product.

Jan. 27, 2019
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Royal Rumble 2019)

One of the ways Bryan tried to get heat for this match was by cutting anti-consumption promos criticizing Chase Field for selling a Royal Rumble-themed hamburger with a whole bunch of chicken nuggets and shit in it. By the way, this match is brought to you by CRISPITY CRUNCHITY Golden Crisp cereal. MMM-mmm, that's some good shit right there. We've got your classical collar-and-elbow tie-up to begin, with AJ getting the better of Bryan in the corner. As a side note, AJ appears to be wearing wardrobe on loan from Hurricane Helms for tonight's festivities. Styles works a headlock takedown and AJ takes Daniel out with a flippin armdrag. Bryan rolls to the outside for a breather. Back in the ring and these two are exchanging chops. Styles battles back with punches galore and a back body drop. Styles with a punt to the back and a chinlock. Daniel ripostes with European uppercuts and dead-ends himself in the corner. AJ gets launched into the ring post sternum first and rolls to the outside. Daniel pursues and slams AJ headfirst into the ringpost. Back in the squared circle, Daniel drops AJ with a kick and starts working the arm. AJ makes it to the bottom rope to break up the hammerlock. Styles with a sunset flip, but it only gets a two. Bryan turns a double underhook driver into an attempted straight armbar. OK, that was pretty cool. AJ gets to the ropes again. Bryan socks AJ in the face while screaming "is your nose bleeding?" Styles drops Daniel with a dropkick and follows suit with an elbow in the corner, a pumphandle backbreaker and a neckbreaker, but all of that only nets him a two-count. Styles goes for a Styles Clash, but Daniel counters it and we get a series of nearfalls resulting in ... well, nothing of note, really. Daniel drop toe holds AJ into the corner and Daniel starts kicking away. Bryan lands a dragon suplex, but AJ kicks out. Daniel goes for a top rope hurricanrana, but Styles tries to counter it into a SUPER Styles Clash, but Daniel just kicks him off the top rope. Holy shit, this crowd is absolutely DEAD tonight. Styles hits Daniel with a running knee on the apron and connects on the moonsault DDT off the ringside barrier. Styles goes for the springboard 450 but Daniel gets his knees up. Now Bryan is locking for the Yes Lock. He's got it applied in the middle of the ring. Styles counters with a pin attempt, which he then converts into a calf crusher. Daniel gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Daniel with an enzuigiri and both men are splayed out in the middle of the ring. Bryan starts breaking out the head kicks, but he can only net a two-count. Daniel with more stomps and he goes up top. Styles climbs up top and hits Daniel with some headbutts. Bryan crotches AJ and Daniel lands a belly to back suplex off the top rope but AJ somehow lands on his feet. AJ goes for the calf crusher again. Daniel makes it to the ropes, so there goes that submission attempt. Daniel goes for a backslide and AJ tries to counter and he finally lands a snap suplex. Both men are just kinda laying on the mat, being all winded and shit. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Daniel kicks him off the ropes. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm again, only this time Daniel kicks him, but then AJ gets back up and hits Daniel with the Pele kick. Hey, wait a minute, what's Erick Rowan's Dr. Robotnik-looking ass doing at ringside? Daniel "accidentally" enuigiris the ref and AJ hits the Styles Clash, but here comes Erick to palm AJ's face like a basketball for the chokeslam ... or, I guess more accurately, forehead slam? Anyway, the ref magically comes back to life, Daniel makes the cover, and that's our match, fellas.

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: This started off pretty good, but the last 10 minutes were an absolute drag, with a downright terrible screw-job finish completely sapping whatever GOOD momentum the match had in its *way* too long final frame. These two have had some real entertaining bouts in the past, but for some reason, they just couldn’t get their shit together tonight; unfortunately, I’d have to say this one is an easy skip, unless you REALLY like your elevated indie shit.

Jan. 27, 2019
Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor (WWE Royal Rumble 2019)

Brock is only a foot taller than Balor and outweighs him by a good 150 pounds, so yeah ... this one shouldn't be too long, kids. Balor comes flying out the gates with rapid fire kicks and shoulder charges, but no matter how many times he dropkicks him or elbows him, Brock doesn't go down. Eventually, Lesnar catches him and belly to belly suplexes that twink out of the ring. On the outside, Brock lands another belly to belly and threatens to powerslam Finn through an announce table. Balor escapes, though, and slams Brock gut first into the edge of the table, which is actually pretty good storytellin’ considering Brock has diverticulitis or whatever the fuck that intestinal ailment is called. Lesnar struggles to get back into the ring and Finn continues to assail the champ with knees, then Brock just grabs him like a sack of flour and ragdolls him into the corner. Lesnar with another belly to belly suplex that damn near sends Finn into the front row. Brock with another shoulder charge and another belly to belly. Finn lands a sling blade, but Brock is right back up and he clotheslines the LGBTQI-ness right outta' Balor. Brock goes for a German suplex, but he's too hurt to go for the throw. Brock goes for the F5 and Finn counters with a DDT. Just a two-count. Finn stomps all over Brock's stomach  and Lesnar rolls to the outside, where he's immediately greeted by a Finn dropkick and back-to-back-to-back flying sentons. Balor with a dropkick in the corner, and Finn goes up top for the double stomp. Brock kicks out at two and he LOCKS IN THE KIMURA. Finn starts squealing like JGL while he was getting raped in Mysterious Skin and yep, there's the tapout.

My Rating: *** 1/4

The Verdict: An entertaining TV match, but probably not something worthy of a PPV broadcast. It more or less followed the same format as Brock’s match against Daniel at Survivor Series 2018, which really, followed the same format as Brock’s match against AJ at Survivor Series 2017. So yeah, at this point, it’s a pretty half-hearted rehash, although I will NEVER complain about watching Prince Devitt get the shit beat out of him. Ever.

For the first time in history, when the fans chanted "Please don't die," they ACTUALLY meant it.

FEBRUARY 2019 MATCHES

February 02, 209
Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Hino (ZERO1 Dream Series: Overwintering Team)

Yeah, don't even ask me what they're trying to say when they use the term "Overwintering." Anyhoo, this is for both the Big Japan Strong title and the Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship, so expect both of these Japaniggas to bring their A-plus games to this one. Interestingly, both competitors get the same colored streamers when their names are announced. I guess the pickings were pretty slim at the nearest Party City, then. Hino is the most muscular fat person in history, as well as the owner of the most pronounced outie bellybutton in recorded history. We get your standard collar and elbow tie-up to begin, but it ends in a stalemate. Hino playfully slaps Sekimoto on his titties on an otherwise "clean" break. Hino with a headlock, and he ain't letting go of that sumbitch, neither. It takes some time, but Sekimoto finally manages to reverse the hold and lock in a mean headwrench of his own. And he's just as determined to hold on to that fucker as Hino. So Yuji counters that with an arm wrench while Sekimoto makes those really awesome, manly-as-fuck Sekimoto grunts. I want to congratulate the cameraman on making it look like for all the tea in China that Hino is trying to suck Sekimoto's dick into submission. Hino lands the first chop of the match and Daisuke is more than happy to rattle back with a nipple bruiser of his own. Now these two are just whalin' on each other and it's glorious. Then Daisuke takes Yuji off his feet with a shoulder block, followed by a standing elbow drop. Just a two-count. Now he's working the headlock again, but Hino keeps slapping him while he does it. Camel Clutch time, fuckers. Sekimoto counters that into a quasi-rear naked choke, but Hino is able to get to the ropes. Sekimoto with some stomps and he goes for a suplex. He lands it, but Hino kicks out at two. Now Sekimoto has a Boston Crab applied and Hino slowly crawls his way to a rope break. Sekimoto does some more titty-slapping and Hino just absorbs them like a fat Japanese man with a tennis-ball sized outie ... which, yeah, is exactly what Hino is, honestly. Whew, these chop exchanges are just plain BROOTAL. Maybe not Kobashi/Sasaki levels, but definitely some shit that'll make you wince a time or two, for sure. Hino looks for a standing sleeperhold and he succeeds in taking Sekimoto down to the canvas. The ref administers the old "arm drop" test and Sekimoto beats the pivotal third drop test ... only for Hino to get angry and land a FAT AS FUCK senton off the ropes in riposte. Hino with a clothesline in the corner and a fucking STIFF looking belly to back suplex. Sekimoto catches him off the ropes and lands a backbreaker. Yeah, these are all nominally basic-ass moves, but these two convey them with such force that they actually LOOK damaging for the first time since 1988. Sekimoto gores the SHIT out of Hino in the corner and goes for a Torture Rack submission, only for Hino to break free and FLOOR him with a nasty lariat. Now Hino is going up top. Sekimoto follows suit and goes for a superplex, only for Hino to headbutt him off. This allows Hino to hit the FATTEST five star frog splash of all time, and even though it would kill 99 percent of mos mortals, Sekimoto still manages to kick out at two. Hino goes for a powerbomb, but Sekimoto flips him over his back. Then they take each other out with a simultaneous lariat. Of course, they didn't learn nothing from it and immediately go back to lariating each other again, resulting in yet another double knockdown. Hino gets back to his feet at the eight count and immediately chops Sekimoto like a sonofabitch. Now they're exchanging standing lariats, and I weep for their respective clavicles. Now they're just punching each other in the jugulars and I goddamn love it. And Sekimoto FINALLY drops Hino's blubbery ass with a clothesline. Sekimoto goes for a powerbomb and he fucking sticks it. The whole fucking ring shakes when Hino lands and it's such a great visual. Alas, Yuji still kicks out at two. Hino literally PEELS Sekimoto off the ropes so he can give him a stalling German suplex. Sekimoto, of course, kicks out at two. Hino gives the crowd the double bird and tries to suplex Sekimoto, who rolls out of the way and Germans that sumbitch REAL good. Still, Hino kicks out. Hino sets Sekimoto up for a powerbomb, but Sekimoto flips out again and lands a lariat-o, which Hino kicks-o out of-o. Hino then hoists Sekimoto by his hamhocks for a FLATTENING powerbomb. Sekimoto kicks out. We get another double knockdown clothesline, then they take turns clotheslining each other on their knees. No, for real. Then Sekimoto hits a lariat on his knees and the ref chalks it up as a three-count, even though I SWEAR Hino kicked out at two. Huh ... what a weak-ass ending to an otherwise MANLY as fuck match-up, eh?

My Score: ****

The Verdict: Man, this thing was shaping up to be a legit MOTY contender up until that out-of-the-blue finish. Still, you had plenty of stuff to love in this one, especially if you like your ‘rasslin decidedly old-school and masculine. And also, fat and Japanese, but that kind of goes without saying, doesn’t it?

February 08, 2019
Ortiz and Santana vs. Fenix and Pentagon Jr. (Impact! Mexico)

So, uh, do Ortiz and Santana have first names or anything like that? I mean, you have to figure only having a surname would be the first red flag on an eVerify application, but whatever. So we have double cultural appropriation going on as some Japanese dude bangs a gong while a buncha dragon puppets roam around onstage to introduce the Lucha Bros. It's kinda' weird how LAX is literally the ONLY gimmick from the old days of TNA that survived the carryover into the Impact! rebranding, isn't it? I mean, not as weird as a wrestling promotion going from a primetime deal on national cable to having to stream their shit on Twitch, but hey, who am I to judge? Well, this thing is just pure bedlam from the get-go, with Ortiz and his Colin Kaepernick-looking 'fro getting double stomped early. There's dueling superkicks and it comes down to Scorpion ... I mean, Pentagon, and Santana. Pentagon kicks the fuck out of everybody until Santana gores him over the top rope, then Ortiz and Pentagon get into a chop-off. Santana lands a crossbody and Santana connects on a senton. Just in time for Fenix to knock 'em both down with a double dropkick. Ortiz eats a somersault uppercut and Fenix double stomps his back off the top rope. Ortiz with a cool looking jawjacker but Pentagon doesn't bother selling it. But he does sell the follow-up spinebuster, at least. Cyrus calls this a "match of the decade" candidate, proving once and for all that he's smoking the crack cocaine. Santana and Pentagon get into a chop-off and Santana super kicks him. Then Pentagon super kicks him back before Santana hits him with a spinning uranage. Pentagon kicks out at two. Santana kicks out of the Pentagon Driver and Konnan just gawps at them, looking like a cancer survivor in a Boston Red Sox cap. Fenix gets the tag but they whiff on "the Fear Factor." Santanna lands a double cutter and Ortiz lands a flying codebreaker. This shit is just mucho autism. LAX lands the "Street Sweeper," but Pentagon breaks up the pin attempt. Then LAX kicks him in tandem only for Pentagon to hit a Sling Blade on Ortiz. THEN the Lucha Bros. land the Fear Factor, but Santana kicks out. Pentagon lands another Pentagon Driver but Santana kicks out of that, too. I think the crowd is chanting "fight forever" in Spanish, which proves Aspergers truly is an international affliction. the Lucha Bros. land ANOTHER Fear Factor and Pentagon topes the fuck out of Ortiz and, yep, that's what facilitates the three count and the tag title change.

My Rating: ** 3/4

The Verdict: Woo boy, that was just Full Spectrum Wrestling right there. All action, no psychology, all flash, no substance, all sizzle and no steak. If you have a short attention span you might dig it, but if you like your pro ‘rasslin to seem at least partially non-autistic, don’t even bother with this ‘un.

February 11, 2019
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White (NJPW New Beginning In Osaka)

Oh great, we've got the English language commentary on this one, so you KNOW it's going to be all kinds of cringey. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship Hiroshi won last month at the Tokyo Dome is on the line here, in case you weren't aware of such. As soon as the bell rings, Jay rolls to the outside so he can jaw with the fans. God, he looks like such a pussy. Tanahashi's pants, of course, look like something a unicorn shat out. We get your customary collar and elbow tie-up to begin and Hiroshi locks in a headlock. White bullies Tanahashi into the corner and stomps him good. Hiroshi fires back with some knuckle sammiches and then Jay tries to slam Hiroshi's ankles against the metal turnpost but Tanahashi kicks him off. White gets launched back first into the metal guardrail and Tanahashi chases after Gedo. Of course, that allows White to Pearl Harbor Hiroshi and Saito suplex that sumbitch over the top rope. White continues to pinball Hiroshi against the guardrail and the edge of the ring apron. Back in the ring and White takes Hiroshi down with a chop block. You know, because his knee is all hurt and shit. White flings Tanahashi into the turnbuckle with a low dragon suplex, then he starts slamming dat ankle against the turnpost. The action rolls to the outside, where White front suplexes the champ ankle first on one of the ringside announce tables. And the 20-count doth begin, with Hiroshi re-entering the ring at 17. White slaps Hiroshi on the back of the head and Tanahashi drops him with a spinning elbow off the ropes. Hiroshi with a scoop slam and he goes up top for the somersault senton. Just a two-count. Hiroshi looking to apply the cloverleaf, only for White to kick him off. White with an STO and a stalling German, followed by a twisting suplex. Just a two-count. Oh, by the way, he calls that aforementioned twisting suplex "The Blade Buster," because apparently, he's REALLY bad at naming things. White locks Hiroshi's arms around the top rope and starts to chopping. Then Hiroshi lands a dragon screw leg whip while White's trying to exit the ring. Hiroshi climbs the top rope and lands a beautiful flying cross body splash to the outside. Gedo tries to interfere again, allowing White to grab a steel chair. Hiroshi pushes White into Gedo and there's like ten or 12 different counter-reversal spots and Hiroshi FINALLY lands the "Twist and Shout." Actually, three of them in a row. White collapses in the corner and Hiroshi dragon screws him repeatedly. Hiroshi with a wrist-clutch German suplex, but White kicks out. Gedo eats a back elbow smash and Hiroshi climbs the top turnbuckle. He lands the High Fly Flow on White's back, and then he climbs again to land another splash, except this time, White rolls out of harm's way at the last second. White starts kicking the shit outta' Hiroshi's knee and he starts inverted dragon screwin' like crazy. And there's the TTO, basically an inverted figure four leglock. In case you were wondering, the TTO stands for "Tanahashi Tap Out," which reminds me, I have no idea what the hell "DDT" is supposed to stand for and I've only been watching this shit for a quarter century. Alas, Hiroshi makes it to the ropes and breaks the hold. White lands back-to-back snap Saito suplexes and a Death Valley Driver into a reverse DDT combo. White goes for the Kiwi Krusher, and he lands it. Hiroshi, however, kicks out. White goes for the Blade Runner, but Hiroshi counters. Then White counters with a German suplex; Hiroshi goes for a roll-up, but he only gets a two-count. White looking for a choke and Hiroshi slaps the taste out of his mouth. Hiroshi with a low dropkick and a reverse dragon screw. Hiroshi goes for a cloverleaf and he's bending Jay like Gumby. White, eventually makes it to the ropes, but Hiroshi locks the hold back in as soon as he lets go. STYLES CLASH, YOU BITCH. Now both men are splayed out in the middle of the ring. Hiroshi goes for a dragon suplex and winds up hitting two Sling Blades in succession, but White still kicks out. Hiroshi lands the bridging dragon suplex, but White kicks out once more. Tanahashi goes up top and he goes for Aces High, only for Jay to catch him, hit the Blade Runner and WIN THE IWGP TITLE. And yeah, needless to say, the Japanese fans react by doing the finest impersonation of an oil painting I've ever seen.

My Rating: *** 1/2

The Verdict: A pretty good match from start to finish, and certainly one of the better matches White has had in New Japan, but it still didn't feel like it was quite worthy of being a "transitional" moment for the company. That, and Tanahashi just didn’t look all that interested — the end product was still pretty good, but it’s certainly one of the weaker IWGP Championship bouts NJPW has put on in quite some time.

February 18, 2019
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Elimination Chamber)

It's the defending champ Bryan and Joe to begin, so things are feeling ROH-tastic right from the get-go. Daniel scurries around for a bit and lands some "exploratory kicks." Then Joe starts kicking the shit out of Bryan and goes for a kneebar early. Daniel bullies Joe into the corner and slaps his titties hard, then he starts running around the cage. Time for Joe to chop, and chop some more. Daniel goes for a hurricanrana and Joe counters with a powerbomb, an elevated crab, an STF, a crossface and an arm wrench, only for DB to hit Joe with a dropkick to the knee. DB launches Joe into the edge of the pod and starts showboating to the crowd. Joe drops DB with another series of chops, a headbutt and kicks galore. Joe (whose chest looks the same color as ketchup from all those chops) gets drop-toe-held into the corner and it's time for entrant No. 3 — Kofi Kingston — to enter the fray. He does a whole bunch of flippy stuff and takes out Joe with a flying legdrop. DB drapes him over the ropes and hits him with a knee drop of his own, but Kofi kicks out at two. DB climbs atop his penalty box cage-containment unit and watches Kofi and Joe go at it. Kofi leaps on top of DB's "evacuated pod" and they start chasing one another on the cage crossbeams. Bryan gets yanked down and Kofi does a flying ass splash to wipe out both DB and Joe. Kofi covers Joe, but the Samoan kicks out. Kofi hits DB with a twisting elbow off the ropes, but he kicks out at two. Then Joe hits Kofi with a senton and a snap suplex. Alas, Kofi, kicks out at two. Joe chops DB like a motherfucker as the fourth entrant — AJ Styles — gets in the mix. He makes Joe eat clothesline and he and DB have a slap fight in the corner. Styles hits a double DDT on Kofi and DB, but they kick out. Styles hits Joe with a forearm smash and DB starts climbing up the cage again. Styles launches himself off the ropes and brings Bryan down with a Phenomenal Forearm. Styles goes for the Styles Clash on Kofi, but Kingston escapes. Styles hits a modified knee-to-the-neckbreaker, but Kofi kicks out. Joe mauls AJ against the cage and Kofi starts hitting Joe with  flurry of strikes. Oh, now Joe has that nigga in a sleeperhold. Kofi gets out with a jaw-jacker and Styles eliminates him from the contest with a flying elbow smash off the top rope. Entrant No. 5 is Jeff Hardy, who, hopefully, isn't high on methamphetamine for this match. He hits AJ with that old double legdrop to the balls move and the ass first jaw-jacker. Then Kofi gets a face buster and DB get wiped out with a splash over the top rope from Senor Hardy. Styles hits Hardy with the Pele while DB and Kofi brawl on the outside. Hardy and Styles tumble off one of the "evacuated pods" and then Hardy makes Styles eat a Swanton OFF the pod to his back. But DB fuckin' lands a running knee to the face, and that allows him to make the pinfall on Jeff and eliminate him. So Styles is caught in the tree of woe and DB makes him eat a low dropkick. Then he stacks Kofi on top of AJ in the corner and we have one of the cheesiest "tower of doom" spots you'll ever see in your life. And with everybody splayed out on the canvas, it's time for the last entrant, Randy Orton, to get into the action. He stomps AJ in the corner and staggers Kofi with a hard right. Orton launches Kofi into Styles and Orton suplexes DB onto the top rope. Kofi lands a running kick on Randy and AJ DESTROYS Kingston with a sick looking backbreaker. Styles signals for the Phenomenal Forearm, only for Randy to catch him before he leaps off the turnbuckle and hit his ass with a SUPER RKO to eliminate him. Kofi goes up top, but Randy crotches him and drops him with a draping DDT off the ropes. DB eats a powerslam and Kofi hits Orton with the Trouble in Paradise to officially eliminate Randy from the match. So that makes it a showdown between Daniel and Kofi for the title. The fans, probably because of affirmative action, are solidly behind Kofi tonight. The two exchange kicks and slaps, but Kofi whiffs on the Trouble in Paradise. BD clips his knee and starts kicking the shit out of Kofi's head. Kofi lands the S.O.S. on the rebound, but Bryan kicks out at two. Kofi eats turnbuckle on an avalanche splash attempt and DB pops him a couple of times in the corner. "You don't deserve to be here with me!" Bryan yells, because he's probably racist or something. Bryan with more kicks and a ton of flying knees into the corner. Kofi lands a flying knee of his own, but Daniel kicks out of that, too. Kofi waits in the corner for DB to get to his feet, and Bryan deftly rolls out of the ring. Kofi slams DB's face into the cage over and over, only for DB to say "Black Lives DON'T Matter" and slam Kofi head first into the "evacuated pod." Now DB is the one waiting in the corner. He hits Kofi with a running knee, but Kingston kicks out at two. DB has this great look on his face like "ain't no way I'm letting this colored one beat me" and then he starts stompin' Kofi like Emmett Till and then Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere, but Daniel kicks out of it and locks in the LeBell Lock and Kofi starts screaming like Trayvon Martin in George Zimmerman's backyard, but unlike most lynching victims, Kingston is actually SAVED by the rope. So Kofi gets the break and DB goes up top and Kofi hits him with a spinning kick and then they start scrappin' on top of the "evacuated pod" and Kofi keeps slamming the back of Daniel's head against the plexiglass like it was the Rodney King riots and it looks like Kofi is looking for a super-duper-plex. But Bryan reverses it and starts slamming Kofi's head against the plexiglass. Kofi eventually boots DB off the pod and he goes for the super-mega-hyper leg drop, but DB rolls out of the way. He loads up for the knee to the face and he GETS ALL OF IT for the three-count.

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: A very, very fun match, albeit one with some pretty notable flaws here and there. Still, the final stretch with Kofi and Daniel was just plain fantastic, and gives me hope that their inevitable WrestleMania match will be the show highlight (Post-WM postscript: yeah, I was right about that shit, wasn’t I?)

February 19, 2019
Kaz Hayashi and NOSAWA vs. Dos Caras and Mil Mascaras (NJPW AJPW NOAH All Star Battle Giant Baba Memorial Show)

LOL at NOSAWA coming out in a WCW Monday Nitro shirt, of all possible fucking things. Meanwhile, the luchadores come out to Sky High by Jigsaw, this straight up PIMPING spy movie music-sounding shit and Mascaras is so goddamn old he needs like three or four people to help him into the ring. No, I'm not making that up. Even better, he's wearing a queen-sized leopard print bedsheet for a costume, and it's easily the most absurd thing I've ever seen in a Japanese wrestling ring ... in the last 20 minutes, at least. Literally one dude throws a streamer when Kaz's name is read and it's hilarious. The Great Muta is at ringside and even he is like "Oh shit, are we really going to let this 76-year-old motherfucker do this?" Apparently, wrongful death suits are a lot harder to file in Japan than in America, I suppose. Dos Caras and Kaz lock-up to begin. Dos Caras' uniform is like a color-reversed Spider-Man outfit, and admittedly, it is pretty groovy looking. Dos Caras momentarily has an omoplata variation locked in (of all things) and then he leg trips Kaz, leading to a rolling camel clutch. OK, that was pretty fuckin' boss. Mil Mascaras literally looks like something out of an H.R. Giger portrait at this point. Dos Caras locks in the bow and arrow submission and the crowd goes bonkers. Of course, Kaz just floats on out of it and Dos Caras starts arm-dragging him like a motherfucker across the ring. Dos Caras locks in this funky leg lock submission where it looks like he's forcing Kaz to suck his dick hard. Kaz bails to the outside and Dos Caras threatens to do a plancha, then NOSAWA and Mascaras get tagged in. Mascaras stomps on NOSAWA's fingers and we have another test of strength spot, complete with Mascaras comically twisting NOSAWA around the ring with headscissors. Mascaras with a headlock and the world's slowest shoulder charge off the ropes. Then he hits NOSAWA with the slowest crossbody in history. Like, the dude barely leaves his feet while doing it. A double clothesline sends Kaz and NOSAWA reeling to the outside and then Kaz gets tagged in. He and NOSAWA lock in a double hammerlock on Mil, but he double conks them and hits them with a double clothesline that is so slow it defies an accurate way of describing just how slow it actually is. Dos Caras gets tagged in and he kicks the shit out of Caras leg and then he superkicks DA FUQ out that lucha-nigga. Kaz gets tossed over the top rope and NOSAWA accidentally conks his own tag team partner. Dos Caras throws NOSAWA back into the ring and he and Mascaras give him a double atomic drop and a flying crossbody (except Mascaras doesn't leave his feet.) Kaz gets a double atomic drop and the heels eat double clotheslines in the corner. Then we have a rhombular-shaped leg twist cluster fuck submission spot and the heels stomp Mascaras to the outside. HOLY SHIT, THEY'RE ACTUALLY LETTING MIL MASCARAS FLY OFF THE TOP ROPE. Dos Caras hops on the dog pile after Mascaras lands the flying crossbody, and of course, that's all she wrote, considering this is a comedy match and all.

My Rating: **

The Verdict: Well, considering this was meant to be a joke on purpose, it's kinda' hard to give it a fair rating. That said, even as a larf, it’s hard to find too much worth going out of your way to see in this one; honestly, if you’ve seen the animated GIF of Mil Mascaras just kinda’ falling off the top rope, you’ve seen everything of note contained in this match.

February 19, 2019
Daisuke Sekimoto and Kento Miyahari vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu (NJPW AJPW NOAH All Star Battle Giant Baba Memorial Show)

It's the aces of New Japan, All Japan, Pro Wrestling Noah and Big Japan all coming together for a tag team all star super spectacle. There's no way this one can mathematically suck, is there? Miyahara and Sekimoto come out first, and between them they've got like, eight championship belts. Meanwhile Tanahashi comes out to the ring all gingerly, like this shit is so beneath him (and let's face it ... coming off a co-main event featuring a 76-year-old fucking Mil Mascaras, it probably IS beneath him.) Well, I guess it goes without saying that Yoshitatsu is the weak link in this one, and there's this great moment where Kento waves the AJPW belt in Tanahashi's face and Hiroshi's all like "IDGAF." Trust me, it's a great visual. Looks like it's going to be Hiroshi and Kento to begin. By the way, both of their pants are just the gaudiest, tackiest looking shit you've ever seen in your life. Collar and elbow tie-up to begin, with both men exchanging headlock takedowns. Then there's this plum absurd moment where the   four men play hot potato with an invisible air guitar and Sekimoto and Yoshitatsu get tagged in. Yoshitatsu gives Sekimoto a clean break off the ropes and Daisuke automatically locks in a nasty looking headlock, and he ain't letting go of that sumbitch. Yoshitatsu rattles off some knees and locks Sekimoto in a headlock of his own. Then Sekimoto gets tired of his bullshit and shoulder charges him, allowing Kento to get the tag. And as soon as he gets in the ring, he fucking punts Tanahashi right in the fucking face and we all LOL. Sekimoto and Tanahashi brawl on the outside and Kento conks the fuck out of Yoshitatsu's head and squeezes his noggin up against the metal ring post. Shit, I don't think I've ever seen that spot before. Tanahashi makes the save and Yoshitatsu hits Miyahara with a running knee off the apron. Sekimoto eats the edge of the canvas and Yoshitatsu continues to stomp Kento on the outside. Hiroshi is tagged back in and he locks Miyahara in an abdominal stretch. Yoshitatsu gets tagged back in for a few kicks and then Hiroshi is once again the legal man. He taunts Sekimoto and Yoshitatsu is tagged in again so he can drive his knee into Miyahara's back. Yoshitatsu with a side Russian leg sweep, but Kento kicks out. He hits a stalling suplex on Yoshitatsu and Tanahashi boots Miyahara before he can tag his partner. Kento lands a double dropkick and Sekimoto FINALLY enters the fray. ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS ARE GETTING CLOTHESLINED NOW. Sekimoto powerslams the SHIT out of Tanahashi and hits a vertical suplex on Yoshitatsu, but it's only good enough for a two-count. Sekimoto goes for what looks like a torture-rack like maneuver and then Hiroshi breaks it up so Sekimoto's gotta' drop kick that motherfucker, too. Yoshitatsu hits Daisuke with a backcracker and Tanahashi is tagged in. Hiroshi with elbows galore in the corner, only for Sekimoto to lariat him good on the  rebound. Tanahashi hits a dragon screw leg whip and then it's time for Sekimoto to chop Hiroshi like the mother of all fuckers. And there's the LARIATO. Miyahara is tagged in and he dropkicks Hiroshi right in the face and Tanahashi responds with a low dropkick of his own. Miyahara lands a stalling suplex, but Tanahashi kicks out at two. Miyahara hits a SICK running knee in the corner and the slugfest, it is ON. Alas, a double clothesline takes out both men, and now it's a foot race to see who can get the hot tag first. And it's Yoshitatsu. He kicks the living health out of Miyahara and goes for a springboard dropkick. He sticks it, and he follows suit with a springboard DDT. Tanahashi hits Miyahara with a sling blade, but Sekimoto breaks up the pin attempt. Tanahashi tries to plancha Sekimoto on the outside, but Daisuke catches him at the last minute and just slams his ass on the show floor. That was great. Back in the ring, Miyahara hits a vertical suplex on Yoshitatsu, but he kicks out at two. He's looking for a German suplex, but Tanahashi sling blades him before he can land it. That's our cue for Sekimoto to run in and lariat Tanahashi one more time and assist with the TRIPLE GERMAN SUPLEX SPOT OF RIDICULOUSNESS. Now all four men are splayed out in the middle of the ring. Kento looks to superplex Yoshitatsu off the top rope, and he does so. But Yoshitatsu no sells it and hits Kento with an STO and a faux omoplatta, of all things. Yeah, that' right, make that Japanigga smell your balls until he passes out from the stink. Yoshitatsu lets go of the hold and Kento slowly gets back to his feet and we have knees to the noggin en masse. And THERE is the stalling German suplex. Alas, Yoshitatsu kicks out. Kento goes for another suplex and Yoshitatsu fights it off like his butthole virginity is at stake. Nonetheless, Miyahara is able to stick the German (just like Stalin did back in '45) and that's what gives us our three-count, folks.

My Score: *** 1/2

The Verdict: A fun match-up that felt more like a teaser of a "real" all-star clash than the all-star clash itself. Watching Miyahara and Tanahashi go out at gives me hope that we’ll get a REAL one-on-one encounter between the two at some point down the road, and really, who could ever complain about watching Sekimoto beat the living FUCK out of Yoshitatsu?

February 24, 2019
Kento Miyahara vs. Suwama (AJPW Excite Series - Tag 10)

Man, Miyahara has some great PS1-sounding theme music. So, naturally, that means Suwama's music has to sound like something out of a Sega CD racing game. The ring crew takes about three minutes to clear out all of the streamers, but after that? It's go time, fellas. We get your standard collar and elbow tie-up to begin and Kento gives Suwama a clean break off the ropes. Then Suwama punches the fuck out of of Kento on the ropes, so so much for good sportsmanship, I suppose. Suwama locks in a headlock and after a series of takedowns we have a quick standoff so the crowd can cheer 'em both. Man, All Japan's production values are WAY better in this one than most of their shows. The two exchange chops and forearms and Suwama goes for a sleeperhold. Kento breaks free, only for Suwama to take him off his feet again with a flying shoulder charge. Now we've get some scufflin' on the outside, with Suwama stompin' the champ every whicha' way. Then Kento grabs that beefy sumbitch and racks him over the metal ringside barrier — that oughta' teach him. Now Kento is headbutting THE SHIT out of Suwama and those thuds sound like coconuts getting tossed out of a moving car. Now they're punching each other up the entrance ramp, culminating with Kento dropping his foe with a DDT. The ref tells Kento to get his ass back in the ring and he obeys his marching orders ... albeit, begrudgingly. Suwama starts stumbling back to the ring and Miyahara goes for an opportunistic running knee of the apron and he crashes and burns against the guardrail. Irony and shit. Now Suwama climbs back into the ring and takes a breather while Kento pretends to puke on the front row. Hey, All Japan numbers their cameramen, too — what a nice touch. Anyhoo, back of these mofos are back in the ring and Suwama is clotheslining Kento like, uh, wet clothes? He hits a DDT but Suwama kicks out at two. Suwama works a chinlock and Miyahara gets to the ropes. The two exchange forearm shots and Suwama folds Kento up like an accordion with a stalling German suplex. Kento gets racked up in the tree of woe and now he's trying to chinlock Miyahara on the OUTSIDE portion of the ring. Well, that certainly looked hurty. Suwama hits a clothesline and a back body suplex. The champ kicks out of that shit, too. Suwama with a Boston Crab, even though he's doing it in Japan, not Massachusetts. Shit, Suwama has a better looking Liontamer than Chris Jericho these days. Kento makes it to the ropes, though, so Suwama's gotta' break the hold. Suwama chops Kento silly in the corner and rag dolls his ass with a wild belly to back 'plex. Kento, however, kicks out. Kento hits Suwama with back-to-back dropkicks, but Suwama don't really go down. Kento lands a running knee to the face out of nowhere and Suwama locks in a rear naked choke with Kento's carcass hanging over the top rope like a lynching victim. Miyahara's lifeless body falls to the arena floor below, while Suwama just waits patiently for this opponent to get counted out. But wait, wouldn't that mean he WOULDN'T win the championship? Man, Suwama needs to think this shit through a little better. Regardless, Kento beats the 20-count and back in the ring, Suwama is more than happy to kick him hard and give him more belly-to-back slams. Suwama looks for a powerbomb, but Kento counters with a DDT that he botches like a sonofabitch. So Suwama eats knees and a German suplex, but it still ain't enough to afford Kento the three-count. Kento looks for another German, only for Suwama to hit him with a German of his own. And he's got the sleeperhold locked in again. Suwama unwisely breaks the hold to go for a pin attempt, and Kento, of course, kicks out at two. Give Kento some credit, the dude can act like he's half unconscious like a motherfucker. Suwama goes for another powerbomb, only for Kento to reverse it with a hurricanrana. Kento goes buck wild, hitting Suwama with a German suplex and a knee strike, only for Suwama to end his putsch with a slam outta' fuckin' nowhere. Both men take awhile getting to their feet and then we have a good, old-fashioned woobly-kneed striking exchange. Huh, why do you think Suwama's underwear reads "evolution," by the way? So Kento drops Suwama after about 43 forearm shots, but then Suwama gets back up and starts choppin' like he was George Washington and Kento was a cherry tree. Kento with a running knee to the back of the head and a stalling German, but Suwama kicks out. Kento points to the sky and tries to lock Suwama up for another suplex. Suwama breaks free and grabs Kento's knee on a running strike and POWERBOMBS HIS ASSHOLE OUT and it's just fantastic. Now Suwama is giving a "Black Power" fist and threatening to back body drop Kento to his demise. Kento escapes, but Suwama catches him with a super-duper elevated wheelbarrow German suplex that's basically a reverse powerbomb. Still, Kento kicks out. Suwama turns Kento inside out with a clothesline, but the champ kicks out at two. Suwama lands another back body drop, but yeah, Kento kicks out of that, too. Suwama goes for The Last Ride, only for Kento to sneak out, hit him with a knee and land a stalling German. Suwama of course, kicks out. Kento goes for ANOTHER stalling German and Suwama fights like hell to get out of it. Kento manages to land it, but Suwama kicks out at, like, 2.999998. Kento goes for the stalling German yet again and Suwama once more fights to get out of it like it was a form of prison rape. Kento keeps Suwama in the air for, like, 20 seconds, then he lands it and yep, this match is over, folks.

My Rating: ****

The Verdict: A very good, old-school All Japan championship bout right there, even if I did think both competitors went to the well WAY too often on some spots. Still, this was a rock solid little championship tilt, and definitely one worth checking out if you miss the heyday of AJPW — although I can certainly see how it could be a little too slow-paced for some viewers.

February 22, 2019
Barbaro Cavernario vs. Titan (CMLL Super Viernes)

Oh, how I love me those dancing Arena Mexico skanks.And oh shit, Barbaro comes out with his OWN MIDGET, which is dressed like a chicken pimp. No, seriously. Also, I like how the announcer pronounces his name like "TEE-TON" instead of Titan. You know, sometimes, the Mexicans are actually kinda' awesome. Titan with leg kicks early, and Barbaro is more than happy to respond with leg kicks of his own. Titan with a headlock and a shoulder charge. Cavernario has so many shitty markings on his chest, he looks like a white Soundcloud rapper. Barbaro with an arm drag, and Titan ripostes with a fancy arm drag of his own. Meanwhile, that midget chicken pimp just keeps wandering across the ring and it's the most goddamn hilarious thing I've ever seen ever. Barbaro with a single leg crab and and a modified chinlock. Shit, who'd thunk CMLL would have more realistic-looking submission wrestling than New Japan these days? They exchange blows for a bit and Barbaro finally drops Titan with a superkick. Then he crucifix bombs that fucker into the turnbuckle, hits him with a body splash and that gives him an easy first fall pin. LOL at that fat drunk woman in the crowd swinging around the plastic bone. Barbaro begins the second fall by swinging Titan over the top rope and letting his chicken pimp midget hit Titan with a 619. Then he gives him another body splash and chops him good in the corner. Then Barbaro starts playing with his own spit in the corner and it is fucking gross. Barbaro hits Titan with a really shitty looking kick to the back of the head and, of course, Titan kicks out at two. Time for some outside brawling. The caveman throws Titan over the ringside barrier and then he busts his ballsack with an atomic drop on the guardrail. Shit, you just know that had to hurt for realz. Titan rolls back into the ring and Barbaro whups his ass in the corner some more. Barbaro tries to yank off Titan's mask and the ref admonishes him for his assholery. Time for some more chops in the corner. Titan dropkicks Barbaro out of fucking nowhere and locks in this super funky pin attempt also out of nowhere to earn the second fall victory. Isn't it funny how these things ALWAYS go to a third fall, like, every single time? Already, el third-o caida is startin'. Titan stands on his head and lands a spinning headscissors with about seven full rotations, then he tilt-a-whirl headscissors that neanderthal-nigga' one more time on the outside. Back in the ring, Titan climbs the top rope. He goes for a body splash but Barbaro says "nah, fuck that noise" and dropkicks him instead. I love how the camera keeps panning on random hot bitches in the crowd. Good luck being able to do that in AEW, folks. Barbaro does "The Worm" for no real reason whatsoever and he dropkicks Titan off the apron. Time for a plancha, because, uh, it's plancha time, I guess? Barbaro with more clubbing blows in the corner and a monkey flip he royally botches. That referee is so fat I'm beginning to wonder if it's La Parka without his costume. Titan with a dropkick off the ropes, but Barbaro kicks out. Titan with a shitty running knee to the back of the head, only for Barbaro to wrap him up for this funky looking fisherman's suplex. Titan, though, kicks out. Or, as they say in Spanish, "TEE TON, el kicked out." Barbaro is working the old Mexican surfboard submission but Titan escapes and turns it into his own Mexican surfboard. Titan flips Barbaro over the top rope and wipes him out with a BEAUTIFUL moonsault to the show floor. Barbaro gets crotched on the top rope and Titan whacks him with a Pele. He goes for a Frankensteiner, Barbaro tries to counter it and Titan lands the super-hurricanrana any damn way. Alas, it only nets Titan a two-count. Barbaro connects on a backcracker, but Titan kicks out of that shit, too. Barbaro with more kicks to the spine and chops to the neck. He goes for another splash and Titan *almost* gets him with a flash rollup. Titan slaps Barbaro to the mat and then Barbaro starts slapping him and then Titan goes for another moonsault but Barbaro yanks him off the apron before he can do any real damage. Then Barbaro grabs Titan like a sack of potatoes and starts banging his head on the ringside barrier. He climbs the top rope and lands a SICK body splash to the outside, and he gets ALL of it on Titan. Barbaro goes for the old Gory Special (I think that's what that submission is called), only for Titan to counter it with this weird ass headscissors triangle that he THEN converts into a pinfall. And apparently, this Titan fella is quite popular down there in Mexico-land — motherfucker got a downright THUNDEROUS reaction when the ref registered the three count.

My Score: *** 3/4

The Verdict: It's not as good as some nerds on the Internet are saying, but yeah, this is still an outstanding little TV lucha match. Death-defying dives, reversals like a motherfucker, and for once, a CLEAN finish in a lucha libre match … unless you really hate Mexicans (and let’s face it, that entails a LOT of people), there’s something here for everybody.

MARCH 2019 MATCHES

Seriously, why would anyone want this over Jay White?

March 02, 2019
Mance Warner vs. L.A. Park (MLW Fusion Episode 50)

I've never heard of Mance Warner before, but apparently his gimmick is that's he's Natty Lite drinking white trash from a fictitious city in Tennessee. Well, thank goodness we're still allowed to make fun of, belittle and viciously appropriate the culture of at least one socioeconomically marginalized and disadvantaged peoples in these United States these days. Wait, Bucksnort, Tennessee is a real place? Well, fuck me. This being MLW, of course they're holding the show in a community college gymnasium somewhere. Also, he gets booed for waving around the American flag, because yes, everything decent and wholesome about rasslin' HAS been subverted and co-opted by goddamn liberals. LA Park, of course, gets a huge pop, because he's FUCKING LA Park, that's why. Oh, I should probably tell you that Jim Cornette is doing commentary on this one, and that the ringside timekeeper is literally fat enough to have his own TLC series. LA Park waves the Mexican flag around, while the Illinois crowd cheers their own ethnic displacement. Mance, by the way, is dressed up just like Bunkhouse Buck, which makes this feel twenty times more surreal than a match about a hillbilly prospector fighting the Mexican grim reaper already is. LA Park does the Fargo strut to begin, and then Mance does the same maneuver. Then he pokes him in the eyes and throws him to the floor below. We've got ringside chops and LA Park takes a back-first guardrail bump. Park eats a flying chair (even without enchilada sauce on it) and now they're brawling through the crowd. Warner drags a chair ringside and he tells a fan "to clean up that shit," apparently referring to a discarded Pepsi can by the ring. Mance uses a steel chair for a spinning DDT, by Park kicks out. Mance lands two molasses-slow running knees, and holy shit, do they make Omega's V-Triggers look like shoot Muay Thai strikes from Wanderlei Silva in his prime. Mance grabs a Singapore Cane and starts whacking LA Park like a pinata. Mance with a side Russian leg sweep, but LA Park kicks out at two. Mance places Park in a chair and headbutts him so many times it gives him a migraine. Park grabs him and says "I tire of your tomfoolery" and fucking atomic drops him on the chair. Then Park grabs another chair and just fuckin' conks that motherfucker with it. Mance's fat ass makes the ringside table snap as soon as he's placed on it, but Park says "fuck it" and hits Mance with a running leg drop off the apron through the furniture wreckage anyway. And that's our cue for Park to powerslam Mance through another table, this one situated by the guardrail. For some reason, the fans chant "ECW," even though that promotion was too ghetto EVEN FOR LA PARK. Warner WANTS Park to hit him with his belt, then Mance takes off his belt and then they take turns slapping each other upside the head with their pants-holding apparatuses. Now we've got a chest slap-off going on. Park pulls a big piece of balsa wood out from under the ring and smacks Warner on the ass with a chair. Looks like Park is trying to make an improvised table. Park goes up top and he literally goomba stomps Warner through the wood with his gargantuan Hispanic ass. But Warner kicks out, despite having his sternum turned into unflavored gelatin. Then Park grabs the rest of the wood and fucking DISINTEGRATES it over Warner's head. Which, naturally, means it's time for Park's patented suicide dive to the outside. Warner gets crushed in the corner by Park's flab, and then they royally botch a bulldog spot. Mance hits a draping DDT, but Park grabs hold of the rope to break up the pin. Even though it's a death match. Warner pokes Park in the eyes again and Park swallows a projectile chair. Mance goes up top, only for Park to goddamn BLAST him with the chair, but even better it flies out into the crowd and you can hear a woman scream for her life for real. Of course, this being MLW, they completely MISS half of the finish, as Park hits a spear out of goddamn nowhere for the W.

My Score: ***

The Verdict: LA Park has had some outstanding brawls over the last few years in MLW, but this one was definitely one of the weaker ones he's had in the promotion. This Mance Warner prick has about as much in-ring ability as the northernmost left turnbuckle pad and nowhere near as much charisma. I mean, shit, when you’re entire shtick revolves around eye pokes, just how far do you expect to make it in the business, anyway?

March 08, 2019
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata (NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 Night 1)

Two old-ass Japaheeno powerhouses that work stiff as mothefuckers going at it in front of a capacity crowd of, like, 500 people — is there anything more idiosyncratically PURO than that? Anyhoo, Yuji comes out rocking a T-shirt reading "The Blue Justice" that has his face on the inside of it, and he pulls it up over his head like the Great Cornholio and everybody cheers. We get your customary collar and elbow lock-up to begin but neither man can get a clear-cut advantage. So Nagata slaps the shit out of Ishii on a not-so-clean break, and the head punching and head booting, it is ON. Of course, since Yuji is approximately 80 years old, he's sucking wind pretty hard already. Now Yuji is working a seated armwrench. Ishii won't tap so Yuji stomps on him and kicks him in the back. This makes Ishii rather irate, and then he drops Yuji with the SHITTIEST looking headbutts of all-time. Alright, time for some chops. Yuji gets backed into a corner and Ishii elbows and chops him like a motherfucker. Then Yuji gets his second wind and starts kicking Ishii fuckin' HARD all over the place. He hits an exploder suplex and goes for another armwrench submission, but Ishii rolls out of harm's way. Then they start feeding each other forearm smashes and Ishii just goddamn belly to back suplexes that Japanigga, but Yuji no sells it only to get floored by a clothesline on the rebound. Now it's Ishii's turn to kick and chop the fuck out of Yuji. But then Nagata starts outkicking Ishii, and Ishii gets tired of that bullshit and just drops the muddafukka with a single forearm smash. Yuji hits a spinning brainbuster but doesn't even bother going for a pin. He sets Ishii up for a super exploder, but Ishii keeps fighting out of it while Yuji goes "AEGGHYHHH" over and over again. Ultimately, Ishii reverses it into a sunset powerbomb, lands on his feet and THEN he gives Yuji a PHAT Last Ride powerbomb. Of course, he doesn't try to pin him, because this shit is about PRIDE, or something else stupid the Japanese believe in over pragmatism. Ishii with a lariat in the corner and a superplex of his own. Nagata, however, kicks out. Yuji hits a couple of clotheslines and Nagata counters with an arm wrench out of nowhere. He rolls his eyes back Undertaker style, which either means he's really looking forward to breaking Ishii's wrist or he's having a seizure. Ishii gets a rope break and Nagata's all like "I don't give a fuck" and starts kicking his sternum again. Yuji lands a Shining Wizard and crotches Ishii on the top rope. Looks like he's going for the super exploder again, and he lands it. Alas, Ishii kicks out. Yuji lands another brainbuster, but yep, Nagata kicks out of that, too. Ishii with a clothesline and a German suplex, and Nagata replies with a suplex and a cartwheel kick, then Ishii gets up and clotheslines that motherfucker again except this time, he starts flopping around the canvas and falls flat on his face like he was Glass Joe getting knocked out in Punch-Out!! Time for another slap-off, which culminates with Yuji dropping Ishii with a HYUGE elbow blast. Nagata's stomach is pulsating like the end-boss in Contra and Ishii drops him with back to back lariats. Nagata, however, kicks out. Yuji lands a belly to back suplex, and Ishii kicks out. Yuji hits a German suplex and a fucking knee strike to the clavicle, but Ishii kicks out of that, too. They exchange slaps for a while and Yuji hits Ishii with another knee, only for Ishii to clothesline the fuck out of him. Nagata, however, no sells it, but Ishii nonetheless manages to drop his foe with a clothesline. Nagata kicks out of the diving lariat, but that stalling brainbuster on the follow through KILLS YUJI DEAD for the one, two AND three.

My Score: ****

The Verdict: A really entertaining bout between two veterans who STILL manage to bring the old-school, hyper-tough guy goods in this, the Hot Topics era of pro 'rasslin. Both Ishii and Nagata may be closer to the grave than they are another championship reign, but as long as they keep putting on entertaining little outings like this one, they’re pretty much guaranteed a slot on the New Japan roster … that is, until they break apart in the middle of the ring, which I think is pretty much a foregone conclusion concerning BOTH of these motherfuckers.

March 10, 2019
Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH Great Voyage in Yokohama)

Kaito is pretty much the Mr. Pibb to Okada's Dr. Pepper, with Marufuji playing the grizzled, dick-heel veteran dream-spoiler. I'm digging Marufuji's Michael Jackson-esque britches. Marufuji afford Kaito a clean break on the ropes then he kicks Kaito right in the face. We get some leap frogs and headlock takedowns galore, with each men hip-tossing the fuck out of one another until the inevitable crowd-pleasing standstill. There's a Greco-Roman knucklelock and Marufuji starts headbutting his foe. Marufuji starts kneeing him in the pubic hair and Kaito lands a graceful as fuck belly to back suplex. Marufuji kicks Kaito hard in the corner and tries to break Kaito's wrist on the top turnbuckle. Marufuji keeps bending the wrist on the outside and Kaito takes a couple of sternum-first bumps into the guardrail. Marufuji slams the guardrail door on Kaito's "injured" hand and he sells it like a gunshot wound. Back in the ring and Marufuji continues to work the wrist on the ropes. Kaito uses his uninjured arm to land a series of forearm shots, and then he levels Marufuji with a dropkick. Kaito goes for a tope to the outside, only for Marufuji to kick his knee out from under him at the last second. Time for some more brawling on the outside, with Marufuji focusing on adding more damage to Kaito's knee. Back in the ring and Marufuji locks in a modified figure four. LOL at Marufuji kicking Kaito in the balls in the corner. Chops are on the menu, and so are rushing elbow smashes in the corner. Kaito lands a couple of weak headbutts and finally manages to hit Naomichi with a vertical suplex. Kaito with a spinning elbow off the ropes and a HARD shotgun dropkick off the top rope. Alas, it's only good enough for a two. Marufuji runs Kaito sternum first into the turnbuckle and keeps wrenching his bad arm. Now Marufuji is working on a kimura of sorts. Kaito, of course, gets to the ropes to break up the hold. Marufuji does that awesome step-over Yakuza kick, only for Kaito to catch him on the rebound and powerslam da fuq outta him. Marufuji with some leg kicks and then he dropkicks Kaito's knee while he's going for a dropkick of his own. Yeah, I know, meta as fuck. Marufuji threatens a piledriver on the edge of the ring apron, only for Kaito to back body drop his ass to the padded arena floor below. Kaito with a flippy baseball slide and a cannonball off the apron. Kaito lands a stalling German suplex in the ring for a 2.9999 count. Marufuji drops Kaito with some fancy footwork in the corner, then Kaito hits a SWEET inverted DDT off the top rope for a two-count. Kaito with a dropkick off the ropes and Marufuji hits an awesome flipping neckbreaker thingy. Of course, it only nets him a two-count. Marufuji rocks Kaito with a superkick and he sticks the Sliced Bread No. 2. Kaito kicks out. Kaito with a brainbuster on a reversal and then it's time for a chop exchange. Marufuji goddamn ROCKS Kaito with a kick, only for Kaito to respond with a dropkick and a bridging German. Marufuji, however, lands on his feet and after a countered Sliced Bread No. 2 attempt, Kaito locks in a single-wing facelock. Kaito sticks back to back German suplexes, but Marufuji kicks out. Marufuji with a cobra clutch/triangle submission (yes, it looks as awesome as it sounds) and Kaito scrambles like mad to get out of it. It takes a while, but Kaito does make it to the ropes to break up the hold. Marufuji with knees and kicks galore, but Kaito catches him with a flapjack slam for two. Kaito with another dropkick  and a rolling senton guillotine kick. Just a two. Kaito with another Tiger suplex, and rather anticlimactically, that's what give us the three-count.

My Score: ****

The Verdict: A very good, solid all-around match, albeit it one that was perhaps a bit too long — and certainly marred by a boring finish. Marufuji was fantastic, as usual, and he went a long ways in making Kaito look like a legit title wearer; still, it’s apparent to me this kid needs another year and two under his belt before All Japan should even think about making him “their man.”

March 19, 2019
Kento Miyahara vs. Naoya Nomura (AJPW Dream Power Series Tag 6)

For the Triple Crown, obviously. It takes about three minutes to dig all of the red and gold streamers out of the ring following the introductions. Nomura has that classical All Japan build, which means he's muscular as fuck from his nipples up but chunky as fuck below his pecs. Not going to lie, both of these guys look like they could probably work at a vape shop in Osaka. We get your standard collar and elbow tie-up to begin and Kento gives Nomura a clean break. There's another tie-up, and it's manly as fuck because they keep screaming at each other while they're locked up. Nomura bullies Kento up against the ropes and socks him on the otherwise "clean" break. Kento chases Nomura around the ring a little bit before the challenger rolls back inside. Kento, however, takes his sweet time re-entering the ring. Kento works an arm-wrench and Nomura counters it. LOL at the ref's shirt literally reading "official referee," you know, just in case there was any confusion. Nomura drops Kento with a running shoulder  charge, then Kento drags Nomura over the top rope and throws him into a couple of chairs at ringside. Then Nomura grabs that Japanigga and drops him sternum first on the ringside metal barrier. Nomura goes back into the ring and waits for Kento to get counted out. Then he gets tired, I guess, and drags him back to the ring, only for Kento to kick him RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE on a suicide dive to the outside. Then they start headbutting the shit out of each other, and it makes this really great, ultra-satisfying coconuts-clanking sound when they do. Man, I have an unnatural affinity for that particular sound effect. Now Kento is trying to crossface Nomura's head THROUGH the metal ringpost and it's a great visual. Kento poses in the middle of the ring and everybody boos. Nomura locks in an STF, but Kento slowly makes his way to the ropes. Nomura punches THE FUCK out of Kento in the corner, only for Kento to boot him in the snout and launch him noggin first into the turnbuckle pad. Kento suplexes Nomura over the ropes and hits him with a missile dropkick. Nomura feeds Kento some elbow sandwiches, but Kento is like "fuck that shit" and dropkicks him, but then Naoya is all like "no, fuck YOUR shit" and he drops Kento with a running shoulder charge. Nomura fucking ROCKS Kento with a running superman elbow shot in the corner, and then he threatens to death valley drive that fucker off the apron, only for Kento to wiggle his way out and KNEE THAT ASSHOLE DEAD IN THE FACE. Nomura finally gets back into the ring and Kento KILLS HIM DEAD again with another running knee to the face that makes the "V-Trigger" look like a fucking love tap. Nomura threatens to German Kento off the top rope, at one point slamming his head HARD into the metal turnbuckle. Yep, he lands the super German ... or should that be uber German? Nomura follows suit with a spear, but it only nets him a two-count. Nomura goes up top for a frog splash, but Kento gets his knees up. Kento with a running knee, a German and then another running knee — let's call it "the sandwich of pain" — but Nomura kicks out. Kento tries to lock up Nomura's arms for a stalling German, but Nomura escapes, Superman punches him and he drops him with a brainbuster. And there's another spear. So basically, Nomura is the All Japan equivalent of Roman Reigns, except he doesn't have to pretend to have cancer to get people to cheer for him. There's this great close-up shot of Nomura's fat face drooling all over the canvas, and it's pro wrestling PERSONIFIED. Both men struggle to get back to their feet. The two exchange forearm shots (with Kento clinging onto the "official referee" at one point) and now it's a full on elbow shot jubilee. Kento FINALLY falls down, and Nomura heads to the corner where he screams like a lunatic and gets ready to spear Miyahara out of his boots. Of course, when he does, Kento greets him with warm and hearty patella to the skull. Kento lands another knee to the back of the skull and a stalling German, but Nomura just BARELY kicks out before the three count. Kento tries to lock up Nomura's arms for another German, nut Naoya escapes and hits him with a BRAINBUSTAHHH. Instead of going for the pin, though, Nomura goes up top for a frog splash. He sticks it, but Kento kicks out. So Nomura goes up top for another one. He lands that one, too, and once again, Kento kicks out. Nomura tries to pick up Kento's carcass, but he can't lift him so he just elbows his face off instead. Nomura folds Kento up like an accordion with a spear and an avalanche driver, but Kento kicks out of both "finishers." Nomura is all like "what do I have to do to kill this motherfucker," so he tries to lift him up, fireman's carry style, one more time. Kento escapes, Nomura goes for a spear, and Kento grabs his head and proceeds to knee the top of his skull off. They take turns no-selling knee shots, and then Kento hits another stalling German. Of course, Nomura kicks out. LOL at this one fat woman at ringside. Kento goes for the stalling, arms-locked German and he sticks it for the finish.

My Score: **** 1/4

The Verdict: Man, that felt like a really great WCW PPV match from 1992 — just two big, burly aces beating the fuck out of each other in a war of attrition that actually felt more sports than entertainment. Miyahara is oh-so-slowly morphing into the world class champion All Japan desperately, direly needs him to be — keep close tabs on this kid, ‘cause he’s bound to have one hell of a 2019, dear readers.

March 23, 2019
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 Night 11)

This is a semi-final bout, in case you were wonderin'. A slow pace to begin, and we start off with your standard collar and elbow tie-up.  Okada clobbers Ishii with a forearm smash on the not-so-clean break, then he locks Ishii in a side headlock. Okada drops Ishii with a shoulder charge off the ropes and he follows suit with elbow smashes to the back of the neck. Snapmare and a cocky boot to the noggin from Okada. Ishii begs Okada to forearm smash him good and Ishii drops Okada with a shoulder charge. Time for some outside brawling, as Ishii power slams DA FUQ outta' Okada on the (padded) arena floor. Back in the ring and Ishii is chopping like crazy in the corner. As in, Okada eats about 20 or 30 shots over the course of a minute here. Okada eventually goes down after a karate chop to the sternum. Okada lands a DDT and clobbers Ishii with a series of spinning elbows. Okada with a plancha to the outside and he rolls Ishii back into the ring. Ishii with a boot to the face and Okada responds with a roaring elbow in the corner. Ishii hocks a loogie in Okada's face and, yeah, Ishii is easily a foot smaller than Okada. He's like Danny Devito, if Danny Devito was a member of the Yakuza.  Now Ishii is lobbing some mean elbow strikes and after a great series of reversals Okada ultimately lands that knee-to-the-noggin-neckbreaker thingy. Shit, we really need a formal name for that thing. Okada goes up top and lands the Macho Man Randy Savage elbow. RAINMAKUH POSE PAN-OUT TIME THAT THE CAMERAMAN TOTALLY FORGETS TO DO TIME!~ Okada goes up top again for the shotgun dropkick, and it's a beaut. Alas, Ishii kicks out at two. Ishii with a power bomb on a neckbreaker reversal, and he follows suit with a release German suplex and a NASTY lariat. Okada floors Ishii with a defensive dropkick and we have ourselves a series of Tombstone reversals until Okada finally lands one. He goes for a Rainmaker, only for Ishii to headbutt him and clobber him with his OWN lariat. Ishii with a NASTY clothesline in the corner and he sets Okada up on the top rope. And there's the Avalanche Brainbuster ... which Okada kicks out of. Ishii connects on a sliding lariat, but Okada kicks out of that, too. Ishii goes for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster and Okada counters with a sudden knee to skull and a dropkick off the ropes. Okada with a backslide as a transition for the Rainmaker, and it is BEAUTIFUL. Okada remains wrist control but Ishii NO SELLS the clothesline. Ishii gets a few headbutts in, but Okada says "fuck that" and just high angle German suplezes that Japanigga. Okada goes for another clothesline, only Ishii ripostes with a hiptoss into a straight armbar. Okada just barely makes it to the ropes to break up the submission. Ishii continues to work the arm and Okada lands back to back dropkicks. Ishii with a lariat on defense, but Okada kicks out at one. Ishii connects on ANOTHER lariat, and this time Okada kicks out at two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster and Okada lands another dropkick. It's clotheslines and headbutts galore before Okada reverses the brainbuster with a twisting brainbuster. And we've got one more Rainmaker on the rebound to officially give the ace to Okada.

My Score: **** 1/2

The Verdict: This is about as good as you can make a sub-20 minute match right there. It may not have been as good as their 2016 match, but this was still a goddamn EXCELLENT match that kept the drama high and never really hit any doldrums at any point in the bout. It’s very early in 2019, of course, but I have a hard time NOT seeing this one in the MOTY discussion when it’s all said and done, fellas.

March 24, 2019
Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA (NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 Finals)

So SANADA's gimmick is that he's skeleton demon rhinoceros with anime hair? Those wacky Japs, I tell 'ya damn what. And is that beard o' his glued on? Because I've seen mall Santa's with more believable looking face fur. Okada, of course, comes out looking like a K pop singer wearing Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, because that's what happens to your fashion sense 70 years after an atom bomb kills your great grandparents. I'm kinda' digging Okada's new Young Republican haircut, not gonna' lie. The two exchange arm wrenches to begin while the commentators talk about how Okada is 4-0 against SANADA all-time. Well, that's a great way to bury your talent. Now SANADA is working a modified heel hook, but he's doing it all wrong. Okada with a hip toss, SANADA counters with headscissors and we've got ourselves a stalemate. The crowd, obviously, is solidly behind SANADA, which is ... really confusing, to be honest, fam. Okada gets back to work on the hammerlock, but SANADA counters with a headlock. SANADA has a bow and arrow locked in for like, a second, before Okada shucks him off. Time for another stalemate. We resume the action, sorta', when the two pair up for a Greco-Roman knuckle-lock. Okada with another side headlock applied. SANADA goes for the Paradise Lock, which is literally the most kayfabe-killing move in the history of pro wrestling. But hey, at least it does end with SANADA literally dropkicking Okada's rectum in, I guess. SANADA gets dumped to the outside, and Okada flies to the outside with a plancha. Okada hits a neckbreaker and SANADA kicks out at one. Okada with a single leg dropkick and an extended chin lock sequence. Holy fuck, Rocky Romero is sheer shit on commentary duties. Okada with a sleeperhold, which deteriorates into another chinlock spot. SANADA dropkicks Okada's knees out from underneath him. SANADA with a flurry of elbow shots and another dropkick to the back of Okada's skull. This, after missing a moonsault, kinda' sorta. Okada starts firing back, then SANADA drops Okada with another dropkick. SANADA with a rolling senton to the outside. Back in the ring, and Okada hits SANADA with a discus elbow of his own. Okada with a DDT, but SANADA kicks out at two. We have a billion reversals and Okada finally lands that over-the-knee neckbreaker thingy. Just a two-count. Okada goes up top and lands the elbow smash. RAINMAKUH POSE PAN OUT~! SANADA counters with a missile dropkick off the ropes, but he's too winded to go for a pin. Both men are back to their feet and tradin' blows (but not in a homosexual way, naturally.) The best part is watching Red Shoes nod his head in approval every time a punch lands. Okada kicks SANADA off the top rope and now it's time for some outside brawling. Okada uses the guardrail to land a draping DDT on the (padded) arena floor. Okada re-enters the ring and gingerly waits for his foe to get counted out. SANADA gets back in around the 18-count. Okada with a BEAUTIFUL dropkick off the top rope, but SANADA kicks out at two. Okada goes for a Tombstone, but SANADA reverses it into a piledriver of his own. SANADA goes for his SKULL END finisher (basically, it's just a modified reverse dragon sleeper), but that don't work so SANADA goes for a tiger suplex instead. He lands it, but Okada kicks out at two. SANADA with a backbreaker, but Okada gets his knees up on the ensuing moonsault attempt. Okada lands the Rainmaker out of nowhere and he maintains wrist control. SANADA ducks the next one, but Okada connects on a dropkick and a Tombstone. SANADA goes for the Skull End again, but Okada reverses it into his OWN Skull End. But SANADA rolls through and reverses the hold, so now he has the Skull End re-applied. Now he's swinging Okada around. SANADA plops down on his back, he's got the pelvis grapevined, and the sleeperhold is fully applied. OK, it's a dumb move in theory, but at least it makes for a cool visual on the close-up. SANADA goes for an opportunistic pin, but Okada kicks out at two. SANADA goes for a moonsault, but Okada rolls out of the way. SANADA no-sells the shotgun dropkick and he LANDS the TKO on Okada ... but Okada, of course, kicks out. SANADA with another backbreaker, but Okada holds onto his leg. SANADA goes up top and Okada chases him. SANADA goes for a moonsault twists it into a Skull End at the very last second. Okada uses the turnbuckle to counter it into a Tombstone and there are a million trillion reversals and Okada finally hits the 360 rainmaker to end it all.

My Score: **** 1/4

The Verdict: Another rock-solid outing from Okada, and one that actually made SANADA look like a formidable opponent for once. I’ve been saying it for years, but by this point, it’s pretty much the gospel: Okada is the new Ric Flair, right down to the sequin robes, the blond coif, and the ability to have outstanding matches with seemingly EVERYBODY, despite only having like, eight, moves in his repertoire. May his next IWGP reign be a long and glorious one, indeed.

March 25, 2019
L.A. Park, Volador, Jr. and El Hijo De L.A. Park vs. Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia and Gran Guerrero (CMLL, Aren Puebla)

This shit feels just like a 1995 ECW show, right down to the shitty production values. La Familia Real wastes no time at all Pearl Harboring (err, Fast and Furiousing?) their blue bedecked rivals, and even better, L.A. Park is wearing his snazzy red costume, so he looks like a really fat Lord Zedd from Power Rangers. Volador super kicks the shit out of Ultima Guerrero's mouth, but than Gran sneak attacks him from behind. Volador Jr. double dropkicks the Guerreros, then he and El Hijo do stereo planchas to the outside. PARK spears Euforia and that gives us our first pin fall. Alright, time for Segunda Caida, and that means crowd brawling galore. Volador beats the shit out of the Guerreros and L.A. Park grabs this red metal triangle thing and tries to strangle Ultimo with it, then he takes his belt off and starts cosplaying as a slave owner. Meanwhile, Volador cracks one of those glow in the dark sword toys over Euforia's noggin and Volador grabs some electrical cables and starts lashing Gran like he was the lucha libre equivalent of Kunte Kinte. El Hijo smashes a cup of cerveza in Euforia's face and then the Guerreros ge their revenge, complete with Gran doing a handstand testicle smasher to Volador's face in the corner. Ultimo bodyslams Park onto some plastic chairs on the outside and the Guerreros triple team Volador for this twisty Camel Clutch/figure four/abdominal stretch submission combo, and yep, that gives us our second fall. The third caida awaits us, and it gets off to a rousing start with Ultimo getting launched by his teammates right into Park's big, fat guy on the rampway. Volador gets flapjacked off the top rope, then El Hijo eats a BRUTAL double gorilla press slam that folds that Mexinigga up like an accordian. There's Gran with a handstand ball-smeller on Park, then Volador and Hijo hit tandem hurricanrana and planchas to the outside. Gran does a flying leg drop to the outside, then Park climbs the top rope and kills EVERYBODY with a flying crossbody to the arena floor. Volador locks Ultimo into an octopus hold while Park and Gran chp the shit out of each other on the apron. This is like watching an animated GIF at this point. Gran finally enters the fray and Volador just kicks him in the balls. Volador tries to dropkick Ultimo, but he accidentally hits the referee and the fucking official rings the bell to give the Guerreros and Company the victory. What the — a shitty ending, in a lucha libre match? Get out of here!

My Score: ****

The Verdict: It's scientifically impossible to hate super-violent, scumfucky Arena Puebla lucha libre, and this bout — despite the flukey outcome — was nonetheless an entertaining little match. Of course, that god awful finish hurt it quite a bit, but at this point, it’s kinda’ expected — I mean, shit, when was the last time you saw a Super Viernes main event with a legit clean final fall, anyway?

March 30, 2019
A-Kid vs. Will Ospreay (Triple W Total Rumble 9)

The announcer is speaking in Spanish, but the arena looks like something out of a Hello Kitty poster. And yes, A-Kid is indeed named after the Radiohead album, because the Brits REALLY want us to kick their asses again. So Will is in the black pants and A-Kid is in the purple banana hammock. We get your basic indie-pseudo-shootstyle-amateur-wrestling beginning from two guys who assuredly have never actually been on an actual wrestling mat before and the fans are cheering everything, especially when Will thrusts his penis into A's ribs, because apparently, that's a thing they do in wrestling now. They exchange headlock takedowns and scissorlocks at a mile a minute and Will whiffs on a headkick. They do some more gymnastics tumbling and the Spaniards start banging on the canvas and chanting "Ole," because fuck them. Will lands a chop an then A hits him with the pussiest slap in the history of anything ever. A lands a dropkick and a snapmare, now he's working a modified reverse dragon sleeper. Will wrenches the arm and A connects on another dropkick. "Theez es awe-sum," the crowd chants, and it's hilarious. A with more boots in the corner and Will hits a running kick on the rebound. On the plus side, the referee looks just like the dos Equis man, so the match has that going for it, at least. Will with a running shotgun dropkick in the corner and a Curtain Call. Of course, A kicks out. A with a bridging belly to back plex, but Will kicks out. Will jacks A's jaw as he's going for a springboard and then Will does a back handspring moonsault into the crowd, wiping out a cameraman in the process. Thank goodness Will only weighs 120 pounds, or else the guy could've REALLY experienced some light bruising. Will does the RAINMAKUH PAN OUT POSE but this promotion is too ghetto to have cameras with lenses that wide so the camera just kinda freezes on him for a few seconds. "FITE FUR-EVAH" the Spaniards chant. Funny, because they sure as hell didn't do that when Franco was calling the shots. Will with another chop and A-Kid goes for a rolling crossface. Will escapes and hits some forearm shots, then A-Kid's legs gives out and Will hits even more forearm shots. A-Kid hits a German suplex off the ropes (as a springboard moonsault counter, of all things) and a diving shotgun dropkick. Will counters with a snap Geman suplex and a twisty guillotine kick. A-Kid whiffs on a backslide so he locks in another crossface. Will escapes by grabbing A-Kid by his testicles and flipping him over his head. The fans chant "pleaze duhnt dye," because the Spaniards obviously don't see a lot of Japanese wrestling over there. Will kicks A's head a couple of times while he's draped over the top rope, then he lands a flippy Michinoku Driver off the top rope for a two-count. Are the fans chanting "we want a Red Bull?" Because that's totally what it sounds like. A-Kid lands a tornado DDT and follows suit with a guillotine. Will goes for a powerbomb, but A-Kid counters it at the last second. We've got a million billion reversals and A-Kid locks in an armbar. He switches toa triangle, Will goes for a powerbomb and A reverses that into a Canadian (err, British?) Destroyer. No dice, so he hits a flipping reverse Rock Bottom off the top rope, which is also only good enough for a two-count. A goes up top again, only for Will to hit him with two back to back stunners. A reverses a Tiger Driver into a hurricanrana, then Will hits a Styles Clash and a short-armed clotheslines. He hits a twisty Tiger Driver, and yep, that's the match, senores and senoritas.

My Score: *** 1/4

The Verdict: You know, some people are hailing this is a legit MOTY candidate. Clearly, those people are homosexuals with twink fetishes who masturbated to said match, because there's NO WAY I'd consider this anything even remotely approaching true rasslin' greatness. Structurally, it's put together rather well, and for the most part it was entertaining. But it just didn't have that visceral, athletic feel that the best 'rasslin matches convey, you dig?

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