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2016 Yes/No NJPW

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Nominations:

Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (1/4) || 7 yes || 6 no || = 1

Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles (1/4) || 10 yes || 0 no ||  = 10

Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata (1/4) || 11 yes || 1 no ||  = 10

Honma/Makabe vs Anderson/Gallows (1/4) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA (1/4) || 3 yes || 3 no ||  = 0

Yuji Nagata, Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Sho Tanaka vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask,Cheeseburger & Yohei Komatsu (1/5) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

AJ Styles/Kenny Omega vs Shinsuke Nakamura/YOSHI-HASHI (1/5) || 1 yes || 2 no ||  = -1

BUSHI/EVIL/Naito vs Elgin/Tanahashi/Mascara Dorada (1/5) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

Dragon Lee vs Virus (1/23) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

Jushin Liger vs Virus (1/24) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi (1/24) || 7 yes || 0 no ||  = 7

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata (2/11) || 5 yes || 0 no ||  = 5

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega (2/14) || 2 yes || 3 no ||  = -1

Roderick Strong vs Tomohiro Ishii (2/19) || 2 yes || 2 no ||  = 0

EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii (3/3) || 3 yes || 0 no ||  = 3

Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii  (3/4/) || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Satoshi Kojima ( 3/19) || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay (4/10) || 2 yes || 1 no ||  = 1

Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito (8/13) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

Kenny Omega vs Hirooki Goto (8/14) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

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No brainers:

 

Okada vs. Tanahashi, 1/4 - Culmination of a years long story that build wonderfully off previous matches.

Nakamura vs. Styles, 1/4 - Outstanding match, and a fitting sendoff for the top Gajin of the last two years.

Ishii vs. Shibata, 1/4 - these two beat the tar out of each other, and it worked.

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That's great GOTNW, yes/no votes are finally back here.

 

I'll say no to Okada vs Tanahashi.

The decided to focus on the moves in a 35min + match, proof of that: Okada's decision not to sell the leg to jump everywhere. To me they could have built a lot of intensity with Okada in peril because of the leg injury. Moreover, when Tanahashi went back attacking the leg, it had no impact because of the absence of selling before, I really wasn't into it at that point. It felt as if we were just suppose to enjoy that match for the moves, which wasn't that good on that level. And lastly, i didn't like the transitions from big kick outs to the stun guy coming back. It has been done with no concistency, I'm ok with Okada kicking out of 2 frog splash, but it makes no sense (and it broke intensity again for me) that he just gets up for the 3rd one and gives a standing dropkick.

Oh and when people are saying it was another episode in the big Tanahashi vs Okada, I have to say one of their biggest failure is that we can't really understand why this time Okada won.

 

As for the other two, I'll rewatch it soon, so I'll get back here then.

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Okada/Tanahashi 1/4 - Yes

It's the perfect way to end the best in ring feud for ew Japan for the last  years

 

Ishii/Shibata 1/4 - Yes, Just 2 guys beating the crud out of each toher. Reminded of that Hashimoto/Tenryu match where they chopped each other in the face for 10 minutes.

 

Nakamura/Styles 1/4 - Sweet crap yes! This felt like a major match. AJ never felt like sucha major star as he did in this match. It felt like a big fight and totally delivered on that level!

 

NOMINATION

Honma/Makabe v. Anderson/Gallows 1/4 (IWGP Tag title)

A feel good matchn as perpetual NJ underdog Honma finally captures major gold. The end stretch of this match was just exciting as hell!

 

James

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YES to:

 

Okada vs. Tanahashi, 1/4 - JUST AWESOME! Perfect ending for the year long storyline and the culmination of their feud!

Nakamura vs. Styles, 1/4 - Awesome match and I'm sad it will be the last time we see it in NJPW!

Ishii vs. Shibata, 1/4 - STIFFNESS LEVEL MAXIMUM!! FIVE STARS ALL DAY, SON!

 

Nominating:

AJ Styles/Kenny Omega vs Shinsuke Nakamura/YOSHI-HASHI - NJPW New Year DASH !! 01.05.16

Los Ingobernables (BUSHI/EVIL/Tetsuya Naito) vs Michael Elgin/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Mascara Dorada - NJPW New Year Dash !! 01.05.16

 

The first because of a strong showing from Kenny Omega and the angle that followed and the second because of the awesome RUDO work of LOS INGOBERNABLES~!

Just overpowered everyone including the former Ace of the Universe!

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Okada vs. Tanahashi, 1/4. Big Yes. Best match of the series.

Nakamura vs. Styles, 1/4. Yes. I liked Nakamura’s work on Styles' injured back. The Triangle Choke countered into a one armed Styles Clash stood out, so did the nasty Boma Ye’s

Ishii vs. Shibata, 1/4. Yes though on a first watch didn't like this to the extent others have. Both beat the piss outta each other.

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Yes to Tanahashi/Okada, Nakamura/Styles and Ishii/Shibata. I would also like to nominate Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA.

I'm not sure about the other matches. My favorite match from the 1/5 show was probably Ricochet/Sydal vs. Finlay/White, but I don't think I'm gonna nominate it.

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I should have taken better notes while watching these.

 

Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA - No - I actually like this one a bit more than their match in July; however, I just cannot get into Kenny Omega as a worker at all. This match was hindered by the early match antics, which was only amusing due to the Young Bucks beating the terminator theme on the trashcans and Omega's one-man more bang for your buck. KUSHIDA's arm work in the middle-portion was good as was Omega's selling, and you genuinely felt like this was a big moment for KUSHIDA. However, this match was at odds with itself if it merely wanted to be a good Pro Wrestling match or if it just wanted to be a fun Sports Entertainment match, and decidedly fell somewhere in the Purgatory that lies in-between.

 

Ishii vs. Shibata - Yes - I have become such a huge fan of Shibata in this last year, and this style of match is one that I very much love at times and feel is overkill at other times. In this environment, on this stage, for this title, with these two men, it felt like two men just stoically trying to figure out who was the tougher man on that night. It was stiff, cringe-worthy, and I wonder how concussed both guys were after the match was over. It's not a style you hope these two put in night in or night out, but as I read or saw elsewhere, a couple of times a year on the right stage is just fine.

 

Nakamura vs. Styles - Yes - I thought this accomplished everything it should have accomplished. It was two of the best workers in the world, having their first big singles encounter, and they worked it as two competitors who respect each other's repertoire and attacked with caution and specific calculation. In a text to two friends I said the following (forgive any redundancies), "it's about what you want out of two of the best in the world. It felt grand in scale but focused strictly on the ring work. It had enough stuff in it to make you either just scream wow at your screen in amazement, or make you stand up and pop along with the live crowd."

 

Okada vs. Tanahashi - No - In a lot of ways, I would like this to be a yes. The Japanese crowd losing their minds down the home stretch. Tanahashi's offense and the story that he was telling in the ring. The sense of finality that this battle between these two rivals gave the audience for the duration of the contest; however, Okada just kills this match by being Okada. The spotty selling of the leg and his overall offense based upon that kills this thing. Also, the predictability of "big match" Okada spots. You know he's going to back someone into the corner, tease the chest slap, and then back off and give a friendly tap. Also, the first rainmaker pose almost always leading to the opponent ducking it. These are not "fun spots" in the vein of how similar spots from Flair were but just feels lazy and formulaic to me.

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Gonna dive in here:

 

Ishii vs. Shibata 1/4 - YES

This is all very silly, obviously, but I think stretching this type of ultra-macho back and forth bullshit out to being the whole match instead of it being the middle section of a more traditional match makes it somehow more conceptually sound for me? I hope these two don't actually kill each other one day, but I can't help but watch.

 

AJ Styles vs. Nakamura 1/4 - YES

I very much enjoyed this. I think there's an interesting contrast with the Ishii/Shibata match too in that, while that match relies much more on strikes and a few suplexes and this one more on very modern pro-wrestling moves, the sense of struggle and competition was actually much stronger in Styles/Nakamura (which doesn't necessarily make it better or worse, just achieving different goals).

 

Okada vs. Tanahashi 1/4 - NO

I think I understand why this was so special for people who have enjoyed this over the feud years, but as someone who has never found these two (especially Okada) that entertaining, I just didn't have that emotional pull. So I found the opening boring (especially in retrospect after it didn't seem to affect the rest of the match very much), I didn't think the execution on a move-to-move level was particularly special (put some more effort into those tombstone struggles, dudes), and the finisher swapping wasn't for me. Plus I still can't love the Rainmaker as a move. That's not to say that none of this is exciting, but it clearly doesn't connect with me on the same level that it does with some folks. 

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Glad to see nominations back in vogue again here in 2016.  Cool, very cool.  

 

Regarding 1/4:

 

Ishii Vs. Shibata:  YES

I don't like the headbutts.  I love everything else.  

 

Styles vs. Nakamura:  YES

Did it top Ibushi vs. Nakamura?  No.  Did it come really close?  I think so.  The mind games were epic-level.  It could have easily disappointed, and you could tell by watching it that both competitors knew that, and were clearly determined to knock it out of the park.  Both these guys are truly master craftsmen.  I have to give it to AJ, he has completely won me over.  

 

Okada Vs. Tanahashi:  YES

I wasn't a huge fan of this match going in, as I've been ready for this feud to be over for a long time now.  But then again, that's exactly what this match did, and did it in spectacular fashion.  The final 1/3 was exceptional and allowed this match to vault into the YES column.  It fully delivered on its promise.  

 

I'll throw a YES to Omega vs. Kushida, too.  

Damning with faint praise, but if it weren't for the final 3 matches, this match would be getting many more compliments, I think.  In the overall context of the show, it was the match the fans finally took seriously.  It was on the verge of being a really great match, but then it ended.  Still, a great match.  

 

Random thoughts:  Omega, like Sami Zayn, is a wild card, a dark horse.  It's a true challenge for Omega to make the transition to heavyweight work.  At the very least, I look forward to seeing him achieve that goal.  That's a good story in and of itself.  

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Yes to Omega vs. Kushida. Fitting end to their feud and fun from beginning to end. I'd put it on the same level as Styles vs. Nakamura because it was consistently very good/great, whereas Styles/Swagsuke was a lot of plodding bullshit that went nowhere until they decided to have an incredible match.

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Nominating:

Dragon Lee vs Virus (1.23.)

An amazing sprint, not sure I can think of a better lightning match. Very accessible and easy to get into even for non-lucha fans due to it being all action and the nature of the match gave the nearfalls even more urgency and credibility, especially if you're familiar with both guy's offence. The chain wrestling opening bit was short but really well done, loved Virus' flash submissions and they more than delivered on the highspots.

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Nakamura vs. Styles, 1/4 - YES


Easily my favorite "AJ in NJ" match and probably my favorite AJ match of the last 5 years. 


 


Ishii vs. Shibata, 1/4 - YES 


The best kind of death match. 


 


Okada vs. Tanahashi, 1/4 - NO


The finishing stretch was pretty awesome but the sloppy, inconsistent legwork killed it for me. I wish I could copy and paste parts of their last three matches into one awesome match. 

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Nominating:

Jushin Liger vs Virus (1/24)

Really neat maestros match and a good use of your time if you're up for a couple of minutes of wacky holds and reversals.

Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi (1/24)

What is there even left to say. I'm voting Dragon Lee over everyone come March Madness and so should you. I was impressed by their ability to combine Kamaitachi's new offence he'd debuted in the Maximo match and just generally continue the theme of them constantly finding new ways to one up each other while simultaneously providing a completely accessible match. Still it is the festival of insanity you'd hope for and probably provided cubsfan with about two hundred GIFS.

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Nominating:

Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi (1/24)

What is there even left to say. I'm voting Dragon Lee over everyone come March Madness and so should you. I was impressed by their ability to combine Kamaitachi's new offence he'd debuted in the Maximo match and just generally continue the theme of them constantly finding new ways to one up each other while simultaneously providing a completely accessible match. Still it is the festival of insanity you'd hope for and probably provided cubsfan with about two hundred GIFS.

Hopefully, this leads to people going back to watch their matches from last year, uncrowned Feud of the Year.

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Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi - 1/24 - YES

Wacky innovative, can't catch your breath, stylized spot fest that was so much fun. Dragon Lee is so crisp and while the legwork was bordering the meh-zone, it still played a decent role in the match and wasn't completely ignored. Can't wait for these two to show up in the BOSJ and perhaps even a rematch in the finals.

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Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi - 1/24 - YES

 

The spots in this felt big and meaningful with both guys using their bodies for the sole intent of hurting his foe. The leg work knocks this thing down a peg for me as well, but the sheer amount of organic reactions these two earned from me proved to be enough to overcome it. I hope to go back and watch some of their matches from last year at some point as well.

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Gonna throw a quick NO on Omega/Styles vs. Nakamura/Yoshi-hashi, which was a solid way to put over Omega and a totally fine match, but not a major match in terms of what actually happened bell to bell, I thought.

 

YES to Dragon Lee/Kamaitachi. I've been delinquent enough in my lucha watching that I could see this not seeming as fresh to me if I had seen all of their stuff from last year, but these two were super fun to watch together. Word to the comment above about the way they throw their bodies around in a way that actually looks like it's meant to cause pain.

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Nominating:

 

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata (2/11)

 

I think you know what to expect here. Not as cringe-inducing as the WK match, which may be a good thing, but still the same high thresholds of pain tolerance and friendly violence. The suplex spot is silly but works, and the sleeperhold-PK finish was nice way to close it out. This felt a little more complete to me -- I think it inches out their WK bout. 

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Another YES to Ishii vs. Shibata

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I nominate Roderick Strong vs. Tomohiro Ishii. That match was everything you were hoping for with those two.

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Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (1/4)-NO

 

I've written too much about this on other places already. Too me it's pretty much a perfect example of everything wrong with modern New Japan. Cheap, unoriginal layout with nothing interesting happening in like half of the match outside of two spots and then the manical finisher countering I've grown tired of. Okada's offence looks stupid, Tanahashi's offence looks stupid, Okada "fighting through pain" isn't interesting, he just hits hits all of his spots and sometimes remembers he's supposed to be selling and there's no real drama and until they go through every single big move they have, which happens about thirty minutes in.

 

Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata (1/4)-NO

 

I have no use for this. I can tolerate a lot of bullshit in japanese wrestling but this is just too much. There comes a point where you no sell so much that when you do actually sell it comes across as comical and that's what they managed to achieve here. I think they're both very talented/capable, but working the match like this is an artistic choice I do not condone. Doesn't help I've seen way too many Futen matches to go "this is the stiffest match ever zomg!!" and ignore everything I think is wrong with it.

 

 

I'm torn on Nakamura-Styles and Shibata-Ishii II. Nakamura vs Styles was good, and easily the best match on the WK card, but also incredibly disappointing for a dream match. The triangle choke/styles clash battle had already been played up in the Styles vs Suzuki match, and the big kick-outs were obvious due to the way they were set up and how those are generally worked in New Japan. I liked the Shibata-Ishii rematch a lot and it was definitely a step in the right direction but still it's not a match up I'd be excited to see again any time soon and they might as well screamed "wrestling is fake and stupid" while doing the "let me suplex you" spot.

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Dear God, I know you guys have been watching NJ a lot longer than me, but I pray I never see the day when I'm too jaded to like Tanahashi-Okada from Wrestle Kingdom. Great match, lots of drama. I didn't notice the leg no-selling by Okada mentioned here - was too swept up in the story. There were three distinct acts: both guys shone, setting the table for the end.

 

Nakamura-Styles was good, but not as good. Mentioned this in the WK thread, but it's like they took the first half of the match easy and you can tell when they said "OK, let's go." That's OK in a way, I understand it, but it could've been better worked psychology-wise.

 

To keep this brief, some YESes and a nomination:

YES

Tanahashi-Okada WK

Nakamura-Styles WK

Ishii-Shibata WK

Omega-Kushida WK - accept the fact that Omega is now NJ's top American. He senses this and is turning up his game. It's fun to see.

Strong-Ishii ROH Night 1 - Didn't think Strong had it in him. great match.

 

A nomination (and I can't believe this isn't nominated yet):

Tanahashi-Omega from Niigata (2/14) - Too much interference? Absolutely. Probably too "American"? Yep. Still, great match. It accomplished exactly what they wanted it to. Not sure the fans would've bought into Omega winning clean. This way, it establishes that he's a chickenshit heel who needs help to win, something that goes against "honor." Between Omega and the Bucks and the Bullet Club and the Elite and all that, it all works to make Omega and the Bucks great chickenshit heels, people who audiences will want to see lose. My next fantasy booking NJ move? Turning Elgin heel and making him the fourth guy in the Horsemen-esque Elite, then dissolving the Bullet Club of Tonga/Fale, etc., to keep them from watering the factions down. Or have two, but keep the Bullet Club on the backburner. Time to move on.

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