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2016 Yes/No BJW/All Japan/ZERO-1

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Big Japan nominations:
Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryota Hama (1/24) || 6 yes || 0 no ||  = 6

Hideyoshi Kamitani & Ryota Hama vs. Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa (2/18) || 2 yes || 1 no ||  = 1

Daichi Hashimoto & Shinobu vs. Atsushi Maruyama & Yuji Okabayashi (2/18) || 1 yes || 2 no ||  = -1

Daisuke Sekimoto & Seiya Sanada vs. Hideki Suzuki & Yoshihisa Uto (2/18) || 2 yes || 1 no ||  = 1

Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani (4/10) || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

Yuji Okabayashi vs. Shuji Ishikawa (BJW, 5/5) || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

Yuji Okabayashi & Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani & Daichi Hashimoto (D-RIZE, 7/5) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

Yuji Okabayashi vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW, 7/24) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

 

All Japan nominations:

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Atsushi Aoki (1/3) || 1 yes || 2 no ||  = -1

Jun Akiyama vs. Jake Lee (1/3) || 2 yes || 1 no ||  = 1

Atsushi Maruyama vs. Hikaru Sato (2/12) || 2 yes || 1 no ||  = 1

Kento Miyahara vs Zeus (2/12) || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

Atsushi Aoki vs. Hikaru Sato (2/21) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

Jun Akiyama vs Yuma Aoyagi AJPW (2/21)  || 2 yes || 0 no ||  = 2

Jun Akiyama vs. Kento Miyahara (AJPW, 7/23) || 1 yes || 0 no ||  = 1

 

 

ZERO-1 nominations:

Hideki Suzuki vs. Masato Tanaka (1/1) || 4 yes || 0 no ||  = 4

Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato vs Yuji Okabayashi & Ryoji Sai (1/1) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato (3/6) || 1 yes || 1 no ||  = 0

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Nominating:

Hideki Suzuki vs. Masato Tanaka - ZERO-1 - 1/1

This wasn't an epic, but it was a really fun clash of styles with the Tanaka being his usual fiery self and Suzuki's professional attitude serving as a nice foil. I got a big smile out of Tanaka going for the Tornado DDT and Suzuki just placing him back in the on the top rope in that context, for example.

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Nominating:

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Atsushi Aoki-AJPW (1/3)

This was wrestled under "HARD HIT Graplling Rules". I enjoyed the opening, I think it established well that Aoki coud be a threat to Fujiwara despite him not matching him in matwork skill due to his advantage in speed and just generally not being 66 years old. Then Fujiwara starts trolling Aoki and the match completely disintegrates (in the sense of them following the rules) and they just start headbutting the shit out of each other. Then they decide that wasn't ridiculous enough and start shoot headbutting the ringpost and just doing whatever the hell comes to their minds. Once they've filled enough time with bizarre stuff to ensure Fujiwara wouldn't get blown up they go back to doing neat matwork and the match with a really well set up submission. Not something that I'd recommend to someone not familiar with either for them but it's great fanservice if you're a fan already.

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Hideki Suzuki vs. Masato Tanaka - 1/1 - YES

 

Fun strong champ vs. fiery veteran match-up. Some cool suplex throws and good matwork by Suzuki. Suzuki never really seemed like he was in danger of losing and the finish was a tad lackluster, but overall, a decent title match. 

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Hideki Suzuki vs. Masato Tanaka (1/1)-YES

 

Great match, easily one of my favourite this year has produced so far. I liked the matwork a lot as well as all the strike exchanges, loved how Suzuki made Tanaka fight for every transition instead of just getting all his spots in. Suzuki's matches being meaningfully suppressed added a lot to the nearfalls and they didn't go overboard with them. Suzuki's Billy Robinson throwback gimmick rules.

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Nominating:

Jun Akiyama vs Jake Lee-AJPW (1/3)

Akiyama beating on a rookie is always fun and that's what we get here. Akiyama carried the match nicely, giving Lee enough shine and spotlight to make him look good (which Lee took advantage of with some pretty offence, his kicks looked very good) but viciously cutting him off before he could get lost in a control segment. Finishing stretch is really interesting in that it doesn't feature many big moves but a lot of them are believable nearfalls because of the difference in the pecking order. Bonus points for Akiyama busting out a vicious strike I don't remember him ever doing before.

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yes to jake lee v akiyama - realy into jake think hes gonna do well, took a lot of evil lookin knees from the old man. good stuff if abit short.

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Nominating:

Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato vs Yuji Okabayashi & Ryoji Sai-ZERO-1 (1/1)
You know what you're forgetting from this line up. Fairly standard and formulaic STRONGHT tag but it is a formula I like a lot and whatever faults you might usually find in these types of matches (no-selling, getting stuff in for its own sake) were absent here.

Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryota Hama-BJW (1/24)
There are certain expectations I have of you, Death Valley Driver Video Review Message Board poster. Like enjoying a good hoss fight. And a good old fashioned FAT wrestler. This match combines both. Let's face it-Hama isn't going to do much, but there are efficient ways to work around that. They chose the right one-having long, meaningful control segments that both established Hama's dominance and size. Hama's weight was so impressive the audience left out a collective OOOOOOOH when it was announced, and it makes the simplest moves look like killer. Okabayashi's gradual comeback was very well done, played off of what they had established and hit the sweet spot in its duration.

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A giant hell yes to Okabayashi vs. Hama. That was fucking glorious and Okabayashi was on fire during the final stretch. He sold his desperation at the end perfectly. I couldn't see that match going better than what they did.

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Nominating:

Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryota Hama-BJW (1/24)

There are certain expectations I have of you, Death Valley Driver Video Review Message Board poster. Like enjoying a good hoss fight. And a good old fashioned FAT wrestler. This match combines both. Let's face it-Hama isn't going to do much, but there are efficient ways to work around that. They chose the right one-having long, meaningful control segments that both established Hama's dominance and size. Hama's weight was so impressive the audience left out a collective OOOOOOOH when it was announced, and it makes the simplest moves look like killer. Okabayashi's gradual comeback was very well done, played off of what they had established and hit the sweet spot in its duration.

YES. This is the preeminent fatso/lumpy dude match of our generation. Perhaps any generation. I mean, I've only watched one televised wrestling match this year, and it's definitely the best televised wrestling match I watched in 2016.

 

Hama should be in the WWE. There is no one who can't get behind a giant fat dude working it like that. He is like the best possible version of Rikishi. They might we concerned that his heart would explode in the ring, though. That'd probably be bad publicity.

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Easy yes to Hama/Okabayashi. Butt lariat was great. The look of Okabayashi's last lariat (both in how he delivered it and how Hama took it) was even better.

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Some Big Japan fun:

 

Hideyoshi Kamitani & Ryota Hama vs. Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa (2/18)

This is kind of like your classic All Japan tag in that you have a tag of made of a guy higher on the pecking order (hama) and lower on it(Kamitani) and they work that into the match. Twin Towers squaring off is super fun, but watching them absolutely wreck Kamitani is even more so. They work this like you'd want them to with Hama saving Kamitani, cuttinf Twin Towers off when it seems like they're gonna finish him etc. but that can only last for so long before they eventually finish Kamitani.

 

Daichi Hashimoto & Shinobu vs. Atsushi Maruyama & Yuji Okabayashi (2/18)

You know what's also classic All Japan? Injury/KO angles. I guess this wasn't a big enough tag for Okabayashi to pull a Jumbo and stretch it out but man I hope they do eventually do something like that. Hierarchy comes into play once again-skinny boy Shinobu can't match Okabayashi in strike exchanges, Maruyama-holy shit I thought he was like a young boy or something but it appears he used to be Tigers Mask. Not that it matters much. He's here to eat D-Hash kicks and YOU will enjoy it. Speaking of.......Shinya's son has grown and is now a solid threat to the biggest dog in BigJapan. Fun fun fun fun fun.

 

Daisuke Sekimoto & Seiya Sanada vs. Hideki Suzuki & Yoshihisa Uto (2/18)

Hideki brings a unique flair to each of his matches, usually matwork and chain wrestling in Sekimoto matches serve no purpose other than to fill time but here Hideki makes everything spectacular, from a Headscissors to a Hammerlock, and the struggle over holds which he brings feels novel in the modern puro. Yuto is an actual young boy and him going after Sekimoto in strike exchanges is a lot more interesting than a regular Sekimoto strike exchange due to the difference in their status forcing Uto to sell every one of Sekimoto's blow like death and also making every time Sekimoto sells for Uto mean more. Sanada looks solid here, and he displayed some nice chain wrestling in the beginning. I could've done with one fighting spirit no sell exchange less but it didn't even particularly bother me honestly.

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Yes to Sekimoto/Sanada vs. Suzuki/Uto. Enjoyed the power vs. technique dynamic between Sekimoto and Suzuki. Kind of felt like an 'epic' style tag match condensed into 12 minutes. I agree, the final bomb sprint didn't hurt this match. Good stuff! 

 

No to Kamitani/Hama vs. Sato Ishikawa. Nothing outright bad here, but nothing memorable (aside from Ishikawa's Rainmaker-style headbutt). Hama was just kind of there so he didn't really add much to this match. Kamitani's struggle against Twin Towers was fun to watch though. 

 

Borderline no to Hashimoto/Shinobu vs. Okabayshi/Maruyama. I liked parts of this match but man, once Okabayashi got legit KO'd by Hashimoto's kick to the head, it was hard to watch him get pelted with more kicks to the head. The finish was great though. 

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Kento Miyahara vs Zeus for the Triple Crown, realy exciting stuff. Zeus throws everything but the kitchen sink at Kento but he just wlill not stay down. Crowd eat it up. Zeus realy brings it and Kento is great as the never say die underdog. Loved it.

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Two lower end nominations but two of the better junior matches I've enjoyed this year:

 

- Atsushi Maruyama vs. Hikaru Sato (AJPW, 2/12/16) 

 

A fun little cat-and-mouse match, with Maruyama doing a wonderful job of swerving everyone with the fake injury bit. I liked his endurance during the cross armbreaker sections and the finish with the low-angle Delfin Special transition into the modified armlock was great. 

 

- Atsushi Aoki vs. Hikaru Sato (AJPW, 2/21/16)

 

First half was your standard juniors fare but the limb work was solid and played an important role throughout the match. Sato was the standout here. His kicks were stiff, his sells were compelling and his counterwork was really fun to watch. Aoki was hit or miss, especially in the latter part of the match, but he came out looking strong. I loved the ankle hold - cross armbreaker counter-for-counter sequence, and when Sato catches the headbutt with a front necklock and Aoki coutners with the Northern Lights suplex. A dramatic submission finish with Aoki's desperation showing through as he wrenches the arm and shifts to find the most deadly angle. Not perfect but pretty darn good. 

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Nominating:

 

Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato (Z1, 3/6/16)

 

The dog-eared veteran Ohtani was great in this, showing his never day die attitude in the face of stiff opposition. There was a fun balance of old school flair with hard-hitting offense and just enough bombs to give this the main event feel. 

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Nom:

Jun Akiyama, Zeus & The Bodyguard vs Daich Hashimoto, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (AJPW 3/12)
Strong BJ vs The Big Guns brings you the HOSSFIGHTING OF JAPAN PRO WRESTLING. Akiyama vs anyone from the Big Japan team sounds great, and here he focuses on destroying Daichi, and as you might know Akiyama vs young punk has been the best match in puro for the last 10 years and it delivers once again.

Jun Akiyama vs Yuma Aoyagi AJPW (2/21)

This is a glorified squash and Akiyama is a perfect cast for the role of the rookie executioner as he his attacks are as vicious as anyone's, his knees looked as brutal as ever but he also busted some unusual front kicks that also looked really great. It was a very interesting match to observe, as Akiyama was both working a compelling match while teaching the kid how the work, which was best exemplified when he would just flat out refuse to sell for Aoyagi's weak offence until he hit him with something worthwhile. I had about as much fun watching this as I did any match from 2016 and we don't have the shorties thread anymore so.....please watch this? It's good fun I promise.

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Nomination:

Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW, 4/10)

Kamitani's uphill battle against the wall of pain Ishikawa was compelling and fun to get behind, and there were quite a few surprising moments (having gone into it spoiler-free). Nothing super high end, but definitely the best match of the Strong Climb tournament. 

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Nominating:

Yuji Okabayashi vs. Shuji Ishikawa (BJW, 5/5)

I think this is my favorite match in Japan since January; there's nothing here that, looking at this matchup on paper, is a huge surprise, but both the execution and emotion is top notch as these two big lumps just lay into each other. Yuji is so much fun to root for against people that are even bigger (or taller, as the case may be) than he is.

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YES
BJW
Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryota Hama (1/24)
Hideyoshi Kamitani & Ryota Hama vs. Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa (2/18)
Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani (4/10)
Yuji Okabayashi vs. Shuji Ishikawa (BJW, 5/5)

AJ
Kento Miyahara vs Zeus (2/12)
Atsushi Aoki vs. Hikaru Sato (2/21)
Jun Akiyama vs Yuma Aoyagi (2/21)

Z1
Hideki Suzuki vs. Masato Tanaka (1/1)

NO

BJW
Daichi Hashimoto & Shinobu vs. Atsushi Maruyama & Yuji Okabayashi (2/18)
Daisuke Sekimoto & Seiya Sanada vs. Hideki Suzuki & Yoshihisa Uto (2/18)

AJ 
Atsushi Maruyama vs. Hikaru Sato (2/12)
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Atsushi Aoki (1/3)
Jun Akiyama vs. Jake Lee (1/3)

Z1
Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato vs Yuji Okabayashi & Ryoji Sai (1/1)
Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Kohei Sato (3/6)

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Nominating:

Yuji Okabayashi & Yasufumi Nakanoue vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani & Daichi Hashimoto (D-RIZE, 7/5)

Kamitani looked super comfortable in the ring, sold well for Okabayashi's offense (including the dreaded Argentine backbreaker), and really dialed up the intensity, especially with those open hand shots. This was all about these two going at it on and off for twenty minutes with Hash playing the enforcer roll well. Lots of heat and drama going into both time limit draws, which is rare. Fun stuff. 

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