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2016 Yes/No NJPW

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Strong-Ishii (2/19) - NO

 

I actually kind of liked the match up until the apron-to-floor backdrop. Ishii was doing a good job of selling the back, and Strong's chickenshit heel/cocky offense made sense when up against a stiff guy like Ishii. But after that spot, which was a good, emotionally-charged spot, the selling went bye-bye and there were too many contrived Roddy spots. The top rope suplex - End of Heartache - running knee sequence was just bad. It made the prior two moves seem ineffective, as Ishii needs to immediately stand up for the knee spot. 

 

Tanahashi-Omega (2/14) - NO

 

A mixed bag for sure. Omega is a fun heel (the masked Naito moonsault being a highlight), but his over-theatrics bleeds into his selling, which he does to death. The way he throws himself into the corner after a whip. Or takes every bump by turning himself inside out. When he was working Tanahashi's shoulder, it worked. He was great, and Tanahashi's selling was solid. Tanahashi played the outnumbered face in distress and the crowd was firmly behind him but the interference did kill it for me. The first bit worked, as it led to the dramatic comeback for Tanahashi, but just as the match was picking up momentum again, they cut it off again with the stupid trash can spot and Elgin's overly-choreographed save. 

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You guys should be voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

Eh, I'm kidding, I'm still in my fanboy phase where things seem cooler to me.

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Tanahashi-Omega (2/14)-NO

 

I thought this was fine, a perfectly solid match, I liked Omega's Knee rush at the end and thought they handled the interference much better than they usually do but there just wasn't much there for me to latch on to. The limbwork was ok but not very interesting and I'm sorry but to me them going through their big moves is as formulaic and uninteresting as the same happening in WWE matches (and really, I think folks would be able to see that if they'd followed New Japan for a little longer).

 

Not sure the fans would've bought into Omega winning clean.

Tanahashi isn't exactly the world's most protected wrestler. He drops a lot of falls. I'm not even arguing that they should've worked it clean, just putting that out there.

 

And for the record I usually go to bat for (nominate/yes) anything I really liked even if I know it's not going to be close to being in my best xx matches of the year. It's just that I like different things. Case in point:

 

Nominating:

Yuji Nagata, Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Sho Tanaka vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask,Cheeseburger & Yohei Komatsu (1/5)

 

It's hard to not love a match where you have Fujiwara teaming up with Cheeseburger. The Taguchi/Koshinaka double butt spots were the low point of the match but there was still enough fun stuff in here to throw it out there.

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I'm definitely with you, jstout.  Tanahashi vs. Omega 2/14- YES.

 

I really can't overanalyze something like this match.  The match was designed to put Omega over, and it exceeded expectations.  New Japan now has two borderline psychotic top-tier heels, Naito and Omega, and things went from rather worrisome to quite intriguing pretty quickly as we move forward this year.  

 

Look, I value everyone's opinion, but this is a completely new match-up, so what do we really have to compare it to?  It was what it was, and that just so happened to entertain the fuck out of me.    

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Late, but YES to Dragon Lee/Kamitachi from 1/24.  Very solid junior work with just enough new twists for me to love it.  That senton to the floor on a standing opponent was just like "Yeah here's what I'm doing, good luck catching me."  And it says something that even though I'd never seen either man wrestle before, when they got to the finish, I knew it was the finish.

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Nominating:

 

Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 3/4/16)

 

Easily the best Nahito match of the year. A smartly worked, entertaining match, with Naito being the great weasel dick heel he is, constantly cutting off Ishii's offense and building up to the big apron lariat spot. There's a coupl eof hiccups and it wanders a bit into overkill territory but it never gets tiresome and finishes strong. 

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Nominating:

New Japan Cup, First Round (03/03/16)

"King of Darkness" EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii

Best match of EVIL's career, wonderful exchanges between those two and the mirror spots were just beautiful!

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Nom:

KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay (4/10)
I enjoy KUSHIDA appropriating the Minoru Tanaka/Kendo Kashin "every move I do is Armbar" gimmick. I really, really don't care for Ospreay-I could do away with indy wrestlers in 2016 who have athletic ability and flips and not much other-but KUSHIDA does a very good job of constructing a match around him and grounding him so that Ospreay's weaknesses don't matter as much. KUSHIDA worked like a true junior ace here and the theme of him working as a base of high-fliers that tries to ground them could be a great formula. I wasn't that crazy over this match but at the least I think it is unique enough to deserve a nomination.

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Nominating:

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Satoshi Kojima (NJPW, 3/19)

I really enjoyed this match, more so than the Shibata/Ishii match from WK. The focused armwork, attack and ring awareness by Shibata, his mounting frustration and Kojima's exhausted determination, were all compelling pieces of the narrative. There were plenty of stiff shots, too, especially Kojima's elbows. One of Kojima's best performances in awhile.

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YES:

Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata (1/4) 
Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi (1/24)
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata (2/11)
EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii (3/3)
Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii  (3/4/)
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Satoshi Kojima (3/19)

NO:

Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (1/4) 
Honma/Makabe vs Anderson/Gallows (1/4) 
Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA (1/4) 
Yuji Nagata, Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Sho Tanaka vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask,Cheeseburger & Yohei Komatsu (1/5)
AJ Styles/Kenny Omega vs Shinsuke Nakamura/YOSHI-HASHI (1/5)
BUSHI/EVIL/Naito vs Elgin/Tanahashi/Mascara Dorada (1/5)
Dragon Lee vs Virus (1/23)
Jushin Liger vs Virus (1/24)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega (2/14)
Roderick Strong vs Tomohiro Ishii (2/19)
KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay (4/10)

 

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I'm going with a yes for the following 2 matches:

Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii 2/11/16-This I thought was little better than their January match.  The literally beat the holy hell out of each other.

Will Ospreay vs Kushida-4/10/16.  I thought this was a classic.  It wasn't a long match but it accomplished what it needed to.  Both guys did enough in the time that they had to make it spectacular.

 

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I'm just gonna chuck these 2 in here:

13th August - Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito

Yes - Ibushi vs Alexander with a lot more time and more drama and just better.

14th August - Kenny Omega vs Hirooki Goto

Yes - I watched these 2 back to back, and while I thought it wasn't as strong as the previous night, a great final. Can't think of one better off the top of my head.

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