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2014 Yes/No: All Japan Pro Wrestling and WRESTLE-1

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Match nominations must be accompanied by an explanation as to why the match is worth nominating. Above all: DISCUSS WRESTLING.

 

ALL JAPAN

Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki vs. Shigehiro Irie &  Keisuke Ishii, January 3rd - Yes 2, No 2

Suwama & Joe Doering vs Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori, February 8th - Yes 1, No 0

Akebono vs. Shiozaki, February 23rd - Yes 4, No 2

Kotaro/Miyahara vs. Ishii/Irie -  August 16 - Yes 2, No 0

 

WRESTLE-1

Austin Aries vs. Seiya Sanada, March 2nd - Yes 1, No 0

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NOMINATE: Team Dream Futures (Ishii & Irie) vs Xceed (Aoki & Suzuki) (01/03)

I have gone back and forth on whether to nominate this match. I have decided to do so because the non finish does not hinder the great action contained in this match. I got behind Team Dream Futures and they had me cheering for them to win the match. It was quite apparent about a fourth of the way into the match they were going for more than your pedestrian All Japan opener. We get a match built in DG fashion of slow first third then chaos thereafter. This match has forearms and suplexes and a GTS INTO A MOHAWK. An opener worth your time.

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NO to Ishii/Irei vs. Aoki/Suzuki

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YES on Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki vs. Shigehiro Irie &  Keisuke Ishii, January 3rd.  Like Brisco, I went back and forth on this one.  The ending did take the match down a bit for me.  I understand that there are times that a draw makes sense, but an opener with wrestlers that getting pinned won't hurt isn't one of those times.  I prefer matches to have an ending that fits with the feud and since there was really no long term feud here I don't think a draw was very satisfying.  That being said, I thought the match was the best I have seen on the two All Japan events that took place.  it was an exciting fast paced match that gave all four wrestlers a chance to shine, and got the crowd into it (as much as that crowd was getting into anything).  I'd much rather see four young wrestlers go all out during an opener, then watch a bunch of old timers/rookies just go through the motions.  So I definitely think it is worth a watch.

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Nominating:

 

Suwama/Joe Doering vs Jun Akiyama/Takao Omori-AJPW 2/8/14.  I really couldn't get into the first part of the match but the second half was incredible.  Great chemistry between Suwama & Omori.

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finally got around to watching the Akebono/Go title match and boy oh boy was that ever great! I am so completely digging this Bono title reign. This match was executed perfectly. I think the best thing about it, and the best thing about Akebono in general is the timing and placement of his cutoffs. Go had him rocking and reeling a couple of times were you think he's got him and then BAM!!!! Bono will hit a huge slap or something which just floors Shiozaki. Probably my favourite AJPW match of the year so far, and they've had some very good matches. 'Bono vs. Miyahara at Korakuen could be magic. I can't wait.

 

so yeah, NOMINATE: Akebono vs. Shiozaki - AJPW 2/23

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Voting:

Akebono vs Go Shiozaki-YES. I like this match. The crowd really got into the match especially for the slapfest. I like Akebono's big man moves. Because of his size his power moves are reallyover.

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I guess I will have to be the first NO to Akebono vs. Shoizaki.  I really don't see what you guys see, I wanted to like it since Shoizaki is one of my favorites but the structure just took me out of it.  I mean Shiozaki attacks Akebono's leg for five minutes, and Akebono never even pretends like it matters after that.  Not even a limp, which negated 1/3 of the match.  Plus that was working, keeping Akebono off the mat, but Shiozaki then forgets about that altogether and decides that suplexing Akebono is a good idea.  And waiting for him to get up instead of attacking him on the ground, honestly if Shiozaki's entire strategy was keeping Akebono on the mat at all times like he was doing at first I would have probably dug the match.  I realize his finisher is the Go Flasher but this is when you use things like leg submission holds and lariats, just common sense stuff made worse by the fact he was doing it at first and then completely abandoned it.

 

I did like the strike battles as well as Akebono's timing, and this was the best Akebono singles match I have seen in awhile (maybe ever) so he had that going for him.  And the crowd enjoyed it.  I just couldn't get into it.

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Shiozaki's failings as a strategist actually enhance the match a little if you think about it. He goes for strikes and leg work and succeeds. Then he's decides he's mister Big Shit and goes for a suplex and gets squashed for a bit. Then he make a comes back with the lariats and chops, which work just like before. Then he actually gets suplex off, but barely and this emboldens him to try for something bigger - thus leading to his downfall. It's his ego to be the guy who drops the big bomb on Godzilla that is his weakness. 

 

However, you're right about Akebono no-selling the leg. It was annoying, but really a lot of the second half of the match was Go Shiozaki coming to him, so it wasn't so egregious. It's not like he did a spring board 450 or anything. I also don't care for how Go sold the piledriver. I get that it put him on dream street but if that move is going to be insta-death he should just sell it like that. I'm not evne sure on how to vote. 

 

Ishii/Irie vs. Aoki/Suzuki is also problematic. It's really fun in spots, but it goes to long and has a couple moments of aimlessness. It usually happened when Aoki got in the ring, which was surprising for me. I haven't watched much of him in a while but I pegged him as a high potential guy a couple years back and he was the weakest guy in this. Suzuki of all people was aces, my favorite part being when he settled on killing Ishii's abs. That stuff was great and it's too bad nothing more came of it later, which is less of a problem in tag matches I suppose, since you have a partner to give you a rest. This was fun, and people should watch it, but I guess I'm trying to up the bar on what gets a yes from me.

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Shiozaki's failings as a strategist actually enhance the match a little if you think about it. He goes for strikes and leg work and succeeds. Then he's decides he's mister Big Shit and goes for a suplex and gets squashed for a bit. Then he make a comes back with the lariats and chops, which work just like before. Then he actually gets suplex off, but barely and this emboldens him to try for something bigger - thus leading to his downfall. It's his ego to be the guy who drops the big bomb on Godzilla that is his weakness. 

 

However, you're right about Akebono no-selling the leg. It was annoying, but really a lot of the second half of the match was Go Shiozaki coming to him, so it wasn't so egregious. It's not like he did a spring board 450 or anything. I also don't care for how Go sold the piledriver. I get that it put him on dream street but if that move is going to be insta-death he should just sell it like that. I'm not evne sure on how to vote. 

 

I think part of it for me, and when I rolled my eyes is that literally two seconds after all the leg work, Akebono was charging full steam at Shiozaki.  You'd think a big man like Akebono would love having an excuse to not run around.  I try not to be that super anal guy about limb work and if its just during the beginning 'feeling out process' it doesn't bother me a bit, but when it is such a big focus I just wish it was remembered for at least a few seconds afterwards.  I do agree that Shiozaki had a bit of an ego trip, and since he pinned Akebono with the Go Flasher earlier on the tour he probably thought that was the only way he could win.

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Yeah, I'm totally with you on that. I'm not sure why sometimes I get uptight about limb selling and why sometimes I shrug it off. This match did bother me, and it was something that even if he just paid slight attention to it, it would have created even more doubt as to whether he could defend the title. When he shrugged it off and started running I knew pretty much right there it wasn't going to come up again, and Shiozaki was fucked.

 

It's a fun match, and Akebono slapping Shiozaki and the first half feels like the first half to really good match. Akebono responding to the no handshake by slapping Shiozaki in the face a couple of times, and Shiozaki's leg work was creative. I just wanted something more satisfying in that last half besides Akebono cuttinf off Shiozaki's strikes. Better than expected doesn't make it great.

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YES to Akebono/Shiozaki.

 

I don't think Akebono no sold the knee work at all. He was moving around noticeably slower post-knee work, and him charging to do a move is no different than any other sort of fighting spirit we've been seeing forever in puro. The abuse sumos take to their joints and the constant pain they endure through training is nothing compared to Shiozaki doing some listless leg work. If anybody makes sense as a guy working through knee pain it's Akebono. I don't need to see him comically limping and making "owwwww my kneeeee" faces.

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Nominate

AUSTIN ARIES vs. SEIYA SANADA 03/02/2014

This was a pretty clean match, it's not high end, but a pretty good bout. Sanada is pretty fired up and works the crowd a little with his pecs. Gotta love that. I thought these two move really fluidly together and Sanada never looked out of place with a particularly better wrestler. Sanada had some really nice babyface selling to get sympathy and I love the finish with him just killing Aries with moonsaults for the win. 

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NOMINATE: Kotaro/Miyahara vs. Ishii/Irie - AJPW August 16

The hottest All Japan match this year. This was a little rough around the edges at times, but the effort is monumental. Irie and Kotaro are the stars of the match and their exchanges towards the end blow the roof off Korakuen. I've never seen Kotaro Suzuki take punishment like he does here. You could tell it means the world to him to get a spark going with this product, and I think they might just be getting there with two excellent Korakuen shows back to back. Irie continues to show that he's one of the brightest young talents in wrestling and I hope he keeps getting opportunities like this to display it.

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YES to Kotaro/Miyahara vs. Ishii/Irie

 

Like Alan mentioned, there were some rough patches in this match, mainly due to Ishii and Miyahara, and after I watched it the first time, that clouded my final opinion somewhat.  Luckily, Alan's nomination led me to give it another try, and I'm so glad I did!  

 

The crowd is great here:  very anxious and yelling out names randomly and consistently, the polite applause seems genuine, they're really into it.  While it's clear that Kotaro and Irie are on a vastly different level than their respective partners, it's fine because the majority of the big moments fall into their hands, and they absolutely produce the goods.  Suzuki's precision just stuns me at times.  The chemistry between him and Irie is really something special.  All Japan should jump on that and at least put these two in a singles match at some point, as they've kind of struck gold here, to an extent.  

 

Not a perfect match, but the effort put forth here is pretty much off the charts.  

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