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[2nd RD] MEIKO SATOMURA vs. JOHN CENA

MEIKO SATOMURA vs. JOHN CENA  

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I disliked the AJ/Cena series a good deal, and that was basically everything worth noting about Cena's year, were as Meiko is mother fucking Meiko, and on the short list for best female wrestler ever, and I'd watch her wrestle 10 times out of 10 over indy Cena.

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10 minutes ago, El Dragon said:

Meiko is mother fucking Meiko.

This is all the logic you need.

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Chikara's been running King of Trios since 2007.

Satomura was the reason I actually cared about the tourney in 2016.

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Q: Who had matches during the voting period that I'm likely to re-watch in five years? The answer is not John Cena.

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Cena was the second best performer in that series with Styles by a fairly wide margin. Is that a knock? Not really,  he was good at times but..

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I'll take Satomura over AJ too if and when the time comes :)

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I might not actually. Still, this one is pretty cut and dry for me. 

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If people who are hugely unfamiliar with the wrestlers watch one match out of this whole thing, it's potentially that Satomura vs Shirai one. It's a stark reminder that what we have in the States with the whole Revolution is, to a good degree, heavily produced amateur hour. 

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I just wrote it up:

This was terribly good. I've seen my share of Satomura over the years but never enough to really stick. I have a general sense of her but couldn't give you too many specifics. I have less of that for Shirai, who I've heard the hype for and maybe have seen a match or two but I don't even have the general sense.

The opening matwork was tremendous, with such natural and organic progression from one hold to the next, both women really bringing it. They mixed quick strikes, blocks, and reversals in with more struggle-based holds. The bit where Shirai finally got a crab after being in one herself was very novel, as she locked in the crab, had to settle for a half crab once Satomura started struggling, and then cinched up the Texas Cloverleaf after that all in the most smooth yet believable way that you see with the best lucha maestro matwork. 

I hadn't expected Shirai to take the brunt of the match so viciously (let's face it, she's the one who came in with the cutesy mask and Satomura was all business; after the fact I figured out she was booked as a monster who had already beaten Satomura once, but coming in, I had no idea) but it really worked so well. She came in prepared for Satomura's kicks and suplexes and was able to cut both off in interesting fashion, utilizing dragon whips, and the best leg-grab-through-her own-legs-and-right-into-the-nastiest-hold counter to a German. I liked that she waited so long to target the leg too, because she was able to own that control segment, creating the impression that instead of taking the most opportunistic route, she really wanted to make a point, utilizing brutal foot choking, landing numerous knees (some of them set up in a contrived way that worked because of how quickly she managed it and how much impact she was able to hit it with. When she did something contrived, she made it seem like it would actually work better than the simple version, which is far rarer than you'd think), and stubbornly going back to her moonsault to the floor when it almost cost her in the first attempt. 

Satomura only got back into the match after a long choke, one that within the confines of the match, worked well. You had the sense, through the sharp contrast to what came before and through Shirai's selling, that she really lost her wind through it. You don't usually see that. It was great because by this point in the match, it was established that Satomura wasn't going to be able to come back with kicks and suplexes alone. Even then, once Shirai was able to shake it off, there was still the sense that she was the more dominant one in the match. Satomura really had to fight back. There were a lot of bombs towards the end but between the effort in hitting them (and the struggle and desperation to block them), the selling, physical and emotional, and just enough space being put between them, I picked up a sufficient sense of escalation and weight. 

I think ultimately that's what was most striking to me. I'm used to watching these quite good Charlotte matches where we remark on them making sure to sell in a key moment or which have a certain sharp transition, or maybe a spotlight little touch like repeated punches to the leg in a submission, something like that. You get the sense that those bits are carefully planned and choreographed. They're satisfying because they're still somewhat rare in WWE in general and in WWE's women's matches over the decades in particular, but here there seems to be something like that in every exchange, not as anything spotlight but just as the commonplace norm that comes from wrestlers having mastery of their craft. 

I am always very hesitant to judge a match when I don't have proper context. I haven't seen much Shirai. I don't remember much Satomura. I certainly didn't see their match from the previous December. So, I'm not necessarily going to say HOW good this was, but I'm quite confident in saying that it WAS good. 

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Matt, what did this match have that lauded New Japan matches lack? It's not as if this was far more intricate and nuanced than the best of New Japan or even some of the smaller indy promotions in Japan. Satomura, from what I've seen, gets the best out of Shirai because they don't go into COMPLETE overkill territory like what Io does with Mayu (see their December 2016 match... Fantastic first two-thirds but they lost me in the final-third, much like a lot of PWG matches). The timing, struggle, and establishing of moves were all prevalent in Omega/Okada but a great deal of its detractors were critical of that match because of contrarian reasons from the few bits I've seen them actually explain their disdain.

The preamble and comparisons with WWE women is so spot on though and why I kind of just gave up during last year's March Madness. What the WWE women are doing in comparison to women's wrestling in North America of the past is important and impressive but there are women in Japan that have been doing what they've done better and for longer and don't get a fraction of the hype from most because they're not on TV every week and don't have out of ring stories. There is much less contrived "LOOK AT THIS" type of psychology touches in a Japanese match than in a 4 horsewomen match that often feels like it's veering away from being a fight and towards an exhibition, plus the moves are generally executed effortlessly whereas you often see even Becky Lynch look laboured to pull off intricate chain wrestling. I feel like a lot of issues with 2004-2006 non Samoa Joe ROH matches are looming around the 4 horsewomen. They're too ostentatious with their psychology, often times becoming pantomime. This year, I've decided to save the effort in making arguments for wrestlers when only a small fraction of people are either going to engage or even bother to contemplate their votes (which is why I believe Rippa said this will be the last). Maybe if we do get Omega/Styles but my feeling is that people have already made up their minds on how this tournament is going to unfold and I'd be pissing in the wind anyway.

I'm going to watch some more Satomura tomorrow because I'm not confident in my ability to make a well informed decision yet. We're starting to get into the territory where workers are pretty close in their output and it's now up to personal preferences. I enjoy a great Satomura match more than a great Cena match but I'm not entirely convinced yet either way. 

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14 minutes ago, Oyaji said:

Matt, what did this match have that lauded New Japan matches lack? It's not as if this was far more intricate and nuanced than the best of New Japan or even some of the smaller indy promotions in Japan. Satomura, from what I've seen, gets the best out of Shirai because they don't go into COMPLETE overkill territory like what Io does with Mayu (see their December 2016 match... Fantastic first two-thirds but they lost me in the final-third, much like a lot of PWG matches). The timing, struggle, and establishing of moves were all prevalent in Omega/Okada but a great deal of its detractors were critical of that match because of contrarian reasons from the few bits I've seen them actually explain their disdain.

The preamble and comparisons with WWE women is so spot on though and why I kind of just gave up during last year's March Madness. What the WWE women are doing in comparison to women's wrestling in North America of the past is important and impressive but there are women in Japan that have been doing what they've done better and for longer and don't get a fraction of the hype from most because they're not on TV every week and don't have out of ring stories. There is much less contrived "LOOK AT THIS" type of psychology touches in a Japanese match than in a 4 horsewomen match that often feels like it's veering away from being a fight and towards an exhibition, plus the moves are generally executed effortlessly whereas you often see even Becky Lynch look laboured to pull off intricate chain wrestling. I feel like a lot of issues with 2004-2006 non Samoa Joe ROH matches are looming around the 4 horsewomen. They're too ostentatious with their psychology, often times becoming pantomime. This year, I've decided to save the effort in making arguments for wrestlers when only a small fraction of people are either going to engage or even bother to contemplate their votes (which is why I believe Rippa said this will be the last). Maybe if we do get Omega/Styles but my feeling is that people have already made up their minds on how this tournament is going to unfold and I'd be pissing in the wind anyway.

I'm going to watch some more Satomura tomorrow because I'm not confident in my ability to make a well informed decision yet. We're starting to get into the territory where workers are pretty close in their output and it's now up to personal preferences. I enjoy a great Satomura match more than a great Cena match but I'm not entirely convinced yet either way. 

This is a very valid response. I'll try to hit it as best I can. Modern joshi is a bit of a high hurdle for me, one because I'm not in a position to get the Stardom service currently and two because I don't really have the time allotted for it, but most importantly because there are massive gaps in my 80s and 90s joshi watching. I have seen a lot of the big matches and some oddities, but they're generally out of context and not with any method. There are things I know I'd like a lot and things I think would frustrate me heavily but I just haven't deep dived into that so it's hard to rationalize with the modern.

Let me tackle your first paragraph. I can't give you a write up for the Omega match. I could give you a write up for the Shibata match from the same show, of which, my takeaways were "This was good in a bubble but I really wouldn't want to see three or four matches like this, even over multiple cards." I'm going to make generalizations then, focusing primarily on the match above. There was really only one strike exchange, which was during a period where Shirai had control, was short, and was definitive. It fit very well into the story of that exact moment. The only excess was in the finish, which played to a good degree into the uneven nature of the match, how much less damage Shirai had taken, the idea that maybe Satomura couldn't hit her stuff quite as well given the damage she had taken (and frankly, maybe she could have ended the match after the first death valley driver, but she didn't even try), and the struggle was instinctual desperation. I bought it. It didn't screw with my suspension of disbelief. The match certainly didn't outstay its welcome. Shirai was in control for very logical reasons for most of the match. There were comeback attempts and cutoffs. The ultimate comeback was very logical and segued right into the finishing stretch. It's a very clear, very straight story, really without a lot of fat, bolstered by the performance, which was focused while still nuanced. 

It's possible I could watch a different match with Io and get very frustrated by the overkill. I'm usually pretty consistent with my feelings on things. I also admit that while how i feel is generally consistent (and I may decide to LOOK at a match for contrarian reasons, but I don't think I judge them for contrarian reasons. I want to like every match I start watching; I only have so much time here), the things I value can be different than the things a lot of other people value. 

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21 hours ago, Oyaji said:

what did this match have that lauded New Japan matches lack?

-actual knowledge of how to execute basic offence like low kicks, punches, bodyslams etc. that Omega, Okada, Tanahashi etc. don't execute any better than wrestlers in backyard promotions

-transitions that varied more than just "run the ropes and and get hit by a move" which is how 90% of transitions occur in New Japan

-actually good matwork

-selling that isn't limited to "moves only hurt unless you reverse them, that frees you of all damage you've taken. unless of course you've countered with a finisher, then both wrestlers must miraculously fall down because we can't do a finisher kick-out but want to get a finisher in anyway"

-not having to miss the first finisher five times before there's even a chance of it hitting in an elaborate, robotic and overly formulaic manner

and so forth

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but a great deal of its detractors were critical of that match because of contrarian reasons

What the fuck are contrarian reasons? Is this where we act like people pretend to like or dislike something for some cool on the internet points? No one who lives a remotely healthy life gives a shit about wrestling enough to argue about it for any reason other than to present their own opinion.

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Your hyperbole in the first point is so absurd that it's difficult to take anything else you say seriously. I laughed at the point about missing a finisher when Io's last big match with Iwatani was based around hitting the dragon suplex. How many times did Mayu go for it before proceeding to hit it, uh, multiple times including on the outside iirc only to still lose? 

Joshi selling is absolutely sporadic. The sins you've listed above certainly apply to most Japanese matches regardless of promotion or gender. 

I blame the rope happy transitions on Goto but to say 90% is just more hyperbole that does you no favours. I thought the first 15 minutes or so when the pace was set at such a high bar, the rope transitions worked perfectly to play into the frantic nature of the match. 

And if you haven't noticed the backlash against New Japan here since Dave went overboard with his praise the last six years, then I can't help you. You don't have to like everything in rassling but there are some who write off entire styles without giving them much of a chance. 

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I fucked up in the last round by going in for a pretty good Goto year while knowing basically nothing about Meiko.  I've spent much of the past week atoning for my sins, and I now feel comfortable putting her over a pretty sparse Cena year here (outside of the Styles series of course, which was an undeniably strong run of matches, but also hindered by how ingrained the Big Match John formula has gotten at this point).

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1 minute ago, Cyanide said:

I fucked up in the last round by going in for a pretty good Goto year while knowing basically nothing about Meiko.  I've spent much of the past week atoning for my sins, and I now feel comfortable putting her over a pretty sparse Cena year here (outside of the Styles series of course, which was an undeniably strong run of matches, but also hindered by how ingrained the Big Match John formula has gotten at this point).

I deny that, but don't have time for a big drawn out argument.

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1 minute ago, El Dragon said:

I deny that, but don't have time for a big drawn out argument.

That moment when you know you're setting yourself up with your word choice, but you press submit anyway... haha

I don't have the energy for an impassioned defense of them either, other than to say that I dug what they were going for most of the time within the context they were working, while still understanding the issues that have turned others off.

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when Io's last big match

I don't care much about Io's last big match or non-Sendai Girls joshi in general. This thread isn't Io Shirai vs John Cena.

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I blame the rope happy transitions on Goto but to say 90% is just more hyperbole that does you no favours.

Maybe slight hyperbole, I don't actually count the number of transitions to come up with exact percentages but there has absolutely been a significant number of matches where they amounted for at least half of the transitions.

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The sins you've listed above certainly apply to most Japanese matches regardless of promotion or gender. 

It sucks elsewhere too.

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And if you haven't noticed the backlash against New Japan here since Dave went overboard with his praise the last six years, then I can't help you. You don't have to like everything in rassling but there are some who write off entire styles without giving them much of a chance. 

So now we've gone from contrarians to a backlash? What does that have to do with anything? What are the tangible results of this backlash? Results in polls done by wrestling media are the same, the people who disliked Tanahashi now dislike Okada, nothing has changed.

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I was discussing with Matt his views on Io/Meiko. That's how I got to that point.

I'm watching some Meiko in Sendai and the matwork is weird. It's almost MMA level but with ridiculous pro wrestling stuff thrown in (Meiko just sits out of side mount to hit a body slam on Syuri for instance) and it's a little slow and plodding because neither traditional pro-wrestling or MMA goes through transitions at that slow pace, so I'm not sure you're going to convince me there. I totally agree that there is a lack of psychology in a lot of the chain and technical wrestling in not just New Japan but everywhere that should be playing into the rest of the match, even if wrestler A continues to frustrate and outmaneuver wrestler B, leading to wrestler B to up the violence and transition away from the technical opening. Shibata and Ospreay did a pretty good job of differentiating their mat wrestling in their RevPro title match in Osaka last month. UWF Reborn was probably the best at this outside of some of the better American wrestlers of the territory days.

How does a backlash contradict the idea of people being contrarian? Dave has gone overboard with his ratings/gushing for the company and some people resent his New Japan bias. There are comments about it on this board frequently.  People are pretty open about it. If you don't like the style, that's fine but there seems to be people that take joy in demeaning New Japan and upping whatever they're into, be it southern indies, CMLL, or Black Terry. But if I were to nitpick those matches, I could find silly flaws in them too and denigrate them. Preferences are cool but I feel like some people take them too far.

Also, big lol at using the running transitions spot to promote Satomura and attack New Japan, when in this Syuri match from last March has a majority of transitions coming from running counters from both women. Meiko also goes for the DVD a bunch with Syuri reversing it the first two times. Your argument isn't really holding up.

I'm going to watch more Meiko matches that Kevin has in his recommendations before voting.

 

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Dave has gone overboard with his ratings/gushing for the company

There's a pretty big fanbase out there that agrees with his view of New Japan.

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and some people resent his New Japan bias. There are comments about it on this board frequently.  People are pretty open about it. If you don't like the style, that's fine but there seems to be people that take joy in demeaning New Japan and upping whatever they're into, be it southern indies, CMLL, or Black Terry. But if I were to nitpick those matches, I could find silly flaws in them too and denigrate them. Preferences are cool but I feel like some people take them too far.

People like what they like. There's no huge anti-Meltzer/contrarian agenda making people check out different types of wrestling. Maybe, just maybe, people check out CMLL, Black Terry matches, Puerto Rico tags, Otto Wanz matches, French Catch and whatnot because they like wrestling and not because they need to prove to anyone there are two million styles of wrestling that are better than the style a notorious critic is proclaiming to be so good.

No one's stopping you from reviewing CMLL, Black Terry and southern indy matches and shitting on them. Maybe you find points like those I made "nitpicking", they're just my explanations of why I dislike a lot of New Japan and don't want to watch certain acclaimed wrestlers more than twice a year when a match gets MOTY/best ever hype. The reality is people shit on everything. No one gets mad when it's done to WWE because everyone gets mad whatever they do. No one gets mad when someone shits on matches from companies with less hype, or they do to the degree that's not really comparable because there simply aren't that many people discussing it. New Japan is in the place it is right now where it's the cool alternative so the people that do take shots at it are frowned upon as hipsters, contrarians, and whatever buzzwords you want to use when the reality is there's not that many of them and most of them made up their minds independently, often before Meltzer even started watching New Japan again.

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Also, big lol at using the running transitions spot to promot Satomura, who in this Syuri match from last March has a bunch of running counters from both women.

Every wrestling style ever has had running transitions. The problem with the New Japan is that it's specifically overusing them to such a ridiculous degree that you can see them from a mile away both due to their frequency, bad set-ups and the wrestlers lacking the actual *running offence* to create investment in the spot. All Japan had a bunch of irish whips and rope running in the 80s and 90s, they might as well have used them as frequently as New Japan does right now but because of the threat of actual moves that was there when transitions were done it's never been an issue like it's been with current NJ stuff.

 

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You brought that up in defense of Meiko and to criticize New Japan and it seems like every Meiko match has a bunch of them. That's hypocritical. Hashimoto used to cut guys off all the time with the counter kick to the chest. It's such a weird thing to criticize. What New Japan wrestler DOESN'T have a running strike or technique? Meiko's fun, extended squash of Kaho Kobayashi had at least three running transitions in a match that lasted less than ten minutes and only had a handful of transitions total.

As I said, people like what they like but do it without being condescending with what they don't like. Dylan is a perfect example of it and Matt is pretty grating with it too from time to time (and I know that's his gimmick). I really enjoy CMLL but I don't need to be talked down to because I also like Omega, Tanahashi and Okada. And I've been talking about the board's general feelings towards New Japan. The Japanese section is pretty much Joshi fans and a handful of people discussing New Japan. Look at where Okada and Tanahashi are eliminated in tournaments past and see the vitriol spewed by some. It is what it is but let's not pretend it doesn't exist.

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Somewhere out there is a crowd primed for this match. Not for the stars and snowflakes potential, but just so they can chant "Let's Go Meiko-Cena Sucks."

 

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You brought that up in defense of Meiko and to criticize New Japan and it seems like every Meiko match has a bunch of them. That's hypocritical.

I explained a point in a style that bothers and specifically why it bothers me. It it doesn't resonate with you I'd rather move in in the discussion than rewatch matches pointing to moments and specifically explaining why I think a transition is good or bad if it includes running, I don't think I'm ready to go that far, you'd need to respond a little more dastardly.

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What New Japan wrestler DOESN'T have a running strike or technique?

Let's put it this way. Kenny Omega has some running moves. I'm sure I could think of some, he's got the, urgh, the running knee and he's got the bulldog where he jumps over the opponent. The bulldog requieres his opponent to be turned backwards, and it's something that I don't remember seeing get countered, so it isn't really a factor. The running knee is a big move he does in the finishing stretch, and it's also not something he ever runs the ropes for. Often his opponent is downwards or hanging on to the ropes or he'll just bust it out mid-sequence. He's not going to set it up with an elaborate rope run. So if Kenny Omega runs the ropes five times a match and I know he's got no offence he can use in that situation I know he's getting countered.

I don't think Okada has any running strikes, certainly not those that require him to run the ropes while his opponent is standing. Only thing that pops up is the kick he does after he snapmares his opponent, and that never gets countered.

Someone like Elgin I don't even know or care to remember what his move-set is, I just know his move isn't going to connect because he uses that transition so many times and when he actually wants to hit a lariat, a big boot or whatever move that would require him to run those ropes, he isn't actually going to do run the ropes, he's just going to use that move in the middle of a pop-up sequence.

I haven't really deeply analyzed how that particular transition is used in every wrestling style ever, because it's not something that crossed my mind before I saw it in New Japan and modern puro and kept it seeing over and over again, and then that made me think about how someone like Jumbo Tsuruta used irish whips to base pretty much every move he'd hit, how 90s All Japan used rope running, how it evolved and so on.

To some "John Cena has five moves" is a valid criticism, to that you could provide evidence in the form of a "top 150 moves of John Cena" on youtube and emphirically prove their statement incorrect. If someone says Cena has shitty execution and his matches have been dumb PWG tributes in the last two years then you are moving in the direction of taste and it might not bother you that Cena's matches have 15 finisher kick-outs but it could bother me, I could think that Omega's facial expressions are dumb, you that they're great, it's normal. We disagree over things. There were four other points in my initial post, I'm sure I could think of many more, the notion I'm a hypocrite based on your interpretation of my interpretation of a match is a little silly.

 

 

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Doesn't Okada have a running lariat in his arsenal? Almost positive he hits a lariat. I'm pretty sure he's hit a back elbow or two, at least in the corner  I just find it mind boggling that you use that against them but it's applicable to everybody in Japan today, including Satomura. You can see where it's going to get reversed in her matches, much like you can with an Omega or Big Mike match. Your entire list is something that can be said of all Japanese (and many American/European) workers, including Meiko Satomura, of whom I'm a fan.

I watched the Aja Kong match from Sendai's April show of last year and most of my issues with the match are based around Aja and how I've always thought Aja has a poor grasp on the escalation of violence in her matches. She was hitting Meiko with unprotected chairshots to the head on the outside for long stretches, then gave her numerous brainbusters, including one on the metal placard thingy. That would've made more sense if it didn't happen in the second act of the match, but it did and it sucked. Meiko's selling was pretty good and when Aja is losing and taking the bulk of the match that means a lot. I don't see a huge difference between her mannerisms when making a big comeback to that of Okada or Tanahashi late in a match, so again, I'm not seeing your point on the whole selling issue.

Satomura & Hojo's challenge for the Goddesses of Stardom title last March against Thunder Rock was a great match. It really highlighted that Hojo's the best seller on the planet by a long stretch (she was selling her ass whoopin' throughout the drawn out post-match interviews too while everybody else was just chillin') and Satomura as a bad ass in the build-up to the singles match with Io in Sendai Girls (were they supposed to do a singles in Stardom that never materialized?). 

One thing I'll say is I was pretty disappointed in Meiko's performance at the Kyoko Kimura retirement show. She was a total afterthought and a third wheel for her team despite picking up the fall. Also, the end to the Chihiro title change in October was absurd. No sells one of the nicest German suplexes you'll see and then immediately eats the fall on the second. WTF?

So, yeah, this is Meiko vs. John Cena and I've seen enough to say I liked Meiko's year over Cena's. Cena's big match formula is pretty frustrating at this stage, his selling is not very good particularly for a top WWF/E guy, and his character drives me bonkers. Cena's capable of great promos but his rebuttals to Styles were so fucking lame that, for me at least, it overrides the good he does in that regard. He's had some good-to-great matches but I'll take Satomura's best over Cena's from this period. Neither had a long list of incredible matches from the past 12 months and I'd be surprised to see Cena or Satomura go through to the next round unless they're up against a weak opponent.

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We're arguing over rope running now.

THIS IS MADNESS *clap*clap*clapclapclap*

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