a review by Kevin Wilson
Date: June 27th, 2015
Location: Kanagawa Bayside Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan
Announced Attendance: Unknown
My first Hard Hit review! I want to try to have a fair representation of all the different styles of wrestling and Hard Hit has its own unique style. This is the first Hard Hit event after they stopped being produced by DDT. Hikaru Sato is the producer of Hard Hit now, but they still use DDT's staff so it was a friendly transition. Let’s go over the rules.
- Like shoot-style of yesteryear, Hard Hit uses a points system.
- For ten minute matches, wrestlers start with three points and lose one point every time they are knocked down, use a rope escape, or get a penalty. For fifteen minute matches the wrestlers start with five points.
- No pinfalls but matches can end at any time by KO or submission.
- Banned moves that can lead to a penalty include closed fists to the face, shins, or knees. Also no headbutts.
- No leaving the ring or of course using weapons.
- Only strikes allowed on the ground are open palm strikes.
That is a good starter, if I missed anything I will point it out in the match review itself. Here is the card for the event being reviewed:
- Jun Ando vs. Ryuichi Sekine
- Hiroshi Kobayashi and Kenta Hattori vs. Manabu Hara and Ryota Nakatsu
- Nobuhiro Tsurumaki vs. Shigehiro Irie
- Hoshitango vs. Super Tiger
- KEI Yamamiya vs. Takafumi Ito
- Atsushi Aoki vs. Takuya Wada
- Shuichiro Katsumura and Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Shunichi Shimizu and Shunpei Ota
- Koji Iwamoto vs. Ryo Kawamura
- Hikaru Sato vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara
I have no idea how in-depth this play by play will be since it is mostly about positioning but we’ll see how it goes. Lots of matches, let’s get to it!
Jun Ando vs. Ryuichi Sekine
This match has a 10 minute time limit. Sekine attacks Ando with palm strikes to start, Ando gets Sekine’s back but Sekine gets away. Ando pushes Sekine into the ropes but Sekine hits palm strikes to get some space. They grapple to the mat with Sekine on top but he lets Ando back up. Side choke by Ando and he throws Sekine to the mat, he goes for a submission but Sekine gets in the mount. Sekine lets Ando up, palm strikes by Ando and he knocks Sekine to the mat, leading to a count by the referee. Sekine losses a point and has two left. Sekine gets back up and quickly returns the favor, knocking Ando to the mat. Ando losses a point and has two left. Ando recovers before the count expires but Sekine quickly takes him to the mat. Palm strikes by Sekine and he applies a rear naked choke, forcing Ando to submit! This was a good simple introduction to the style. It was a short match, under four minutes but it was face paced and to the point.
Hiroshi Kobayashi and Kenta Hattori vs. Manabu Hara and Ryota Nakatsu
This match has a 15 minute time limit. Hattori and Nakatsu start off and they jockey on the mat with neither getting a clear advantage. Hara and Kobayashi tag in and they trade kick attempts, Kobayashi gets Hara down and gets in side control and then into the full mount, but Hara gets away. Guillotine by Kobayashi but Hara gets out of it, he goes for Hara’s arm but Hara spins out. Kobayashi tags in Hattori so Hara tags in Nakatsu so we get the same pairing as we started with, Nakatsu gets in the mount and goes for the arm breaker, but Hattori quickly rolls out of it. Nakatsu crawls back to his corner and tags in Hara, Hara kicks Hattori and stuffs a takedown as he eventually gets into the mount. Hattori gets out of it and Hara tags in Nakatsu, Nakatsu strikes Hattori in the back of the head on the mat and he tags in Hara. Hara kicks Hattori but Hattori manages to suplex Hara and tags in Kobayashi. Kobayashi and Hara trade strikes, high kick by Kobayashi and Hara is knocked to the mat. Hara and Nakatsu lose one point. Hara recovers and comes back with his own kicks, and he tags in Nakatsu.
Palm strikes by Nakatsu to Kobayashi, he gets Kobayashi around the waist and plants him with a German suplex, leaving Kobayashi on the mat. Kobayashi and Hattori lose a point. Kobayashi gets back to his feet, he gets Nakatsu in a cross armbreaker and Nakatsu has to use the ropes to get a break. Nakatsu and Hara lose a point. Kobayashi tags in Hattori, Hattori goes for a dropkick but Nakatsu mostly avoids it. Hattori applies a kneelock but Nakatsu strikes his way out of it, Nakatsu hits a belly to belly suplex and he tags in Hara, Hattori gets up fast enough no point is lost. Kicks to the leg by Hara and he hits a knee, Hara gets Hattori’s back and he drops him with a German suplex. The referee determines that Hattori is too hurt to continue, and he calls for the bell. Hara and Nakatsu are your winners! Up to the end I wasn’t really loving this match. The shoot-style did not feel natural here a lot of the time, a wrestler would get into full mount and just slide out of it without even doing anything. I watch a lot of MMA which may not help here, as if that is the style they are going for seeing them willingly give up good positions takes me out of it a bit. The strikes looked good though and I loved the suplexes, I just couldn’t get into the ground game.
Nobuhiro Tsurumaki vs. Shigehiro Irie
This match has a 10 minute time limit. They jockey around to start with little luck, kicks to the leg by Tsurumaki and he takes Irie to the mat. Kneelock by Tsurumaki but Irie has to grab the ropes to break the hold. Irie loses a point. Back up they tie-up, Irie picks up Tsurumaki and he hits a swinging side slam. Tsurumaki stays down and he loses a point. He makes the count, kicks by Tsurumaki but Irie levels him with a lariat. Tsurumaki loses a second point. Tsurumaki kicks Irie in the leg until Irie falls to the mat, and Tsurumaki gets another point. Both wrestlers are now on their last point. Irie hits a piledriver but Tsurumaki struggles to stay on his knees so it doesn’t count as a down. Irie is undeterred, he applies a double underhook and drills Tsurumaki with a package piledriver. Tsurumaki is out of points and Irie wins by TKO! He was out anyway. This was more pro-wres which was fine with me, what I liked is that it was very to the point. Two striker/power wrestlers who shouldn’t have ten minutes of ground grappling, they were both going for knockdowns or knockouts, no need to waste time. Piledrivers may seem out of place on this card but it worked ok here, I enjoyed it as much as one can enjoy a match that is under five minutes. Mildly Recommended
Hoshitango vs. Super Tiger
This match has a 10 minute time limit. Leg kicks by Super Tiger but Hoshitango drives him into the corner. Hoshitango tosses Super Tiger to the mat and jumps on top of him but with a lack of action the referee stands them up. Kicks to the leg by Super Tiger but Hoshitango grabs the ropes. Palm strikes by Super Tiger and he knocks Hoshitango off his feet with a leg kick. The referee starts a count, Hoshitango doesn’t get up in time and the referee calls for the bell. Super Tiger is your winner! I would have thought Hoshitango would have lost a point when he grabbed the ropes but the results I found didn’t say he did. Either way, very short and a huge mismatch as there is no way that Super Tiger is ever losing to Hoshitango, let alone in a shoot-style type of setting. Probably just done more to give Super Tiger an easy win on the card more than anything else.
KEI Yamamiya vs. Takafumi Ito
This match has a 10 minute time limit. The first part of the match wasn’t overly eventful as they felt each other out. Yamamiya has the first longer control segment on the mat, he gets Ito’s leg and Ito has to grab the bottom rope to force a break. Ito loses one point. Back up, Ito takes Yamamiya to the mat, and this time it is Yamamiya that has to use a rope break. Yamamiya loses one point. They circle again, Ito gets Yamamiya down and goes for the leg but Yamamiya blocks it and applies a kneelock in the middle of the ring. Ito gets out of the hold and applies his own kneelock but Yamamiya rolls away. Ito goes back to the leg, Yamamiya’s back hits the ropes but he doesn’t use it for a break. They trade kneelocks back and forth until Ito gets a guillotine locked in but Yamamiya squeezes out of it. Back to the kneelock, Yamamiya slaps at Ito but the bell rings signifying time has expired. Since both wrestlers have two points remaining, the match is a draw! A bit too dry for me. I like shoot-style that either has a variety or is based on strikes, this one was repetitive and was based on trading kneelocks for the bulk of the match. Maybe fundamentally sound but not entertaining to watch.
Atsushi Aoki vs. Takuya Wada
This match has a 10 minute time limit. They go to the mat pretty soon after the match starts but soon they return to their feet. Kicks by Wada and he goes for a takedown, but Aoki stuffs it. Aoki grabs Wada’s leg and cranks on it but Wada gets away and they return to their feet. Wada picks up Aoki but Aoki applies a guillotine choke. Wada gets out of it and goes for the cross armbreaker but Aoki blocks it, back up Wada hits a few knees before a high kick floors Aoki. Aoki is down for a count, and he loses a point. Aoki makes it back up, headscissors by Wada but Aoki gets out of it and goes for a cross armbreaker. Wada blocks it and they get back up, and Aoki drops Wada with a backdrop suplex. Wada loses a point. Wada returns to his feet, Wada goes for a choke but Aoki blocks it and he applies a modified crab hold. Wada grabs the ropes to force a break, and he loses a point. Wada throws Aoki to the mat and they trade attempts at a submission, Wada gets in the mount and goes for a cross armbreaker but Aoki blocks it. Palm strikes by Wada but the bell rings as time expires. Aoki is declared the winner 2 points to 1 point. This was a touch better than the last match as there was a bit more mixing up of moves. It was still a bit too uneventful for my tastes but an occasional suplex did perk me up a bit. A pretty average match overall but definitely watchable.
Shuichiro Katsumura and Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Shunichi Shimizu and Shunpei Ota
This is a Grappling Tag Match. Katsumura and Ota kick things off and quickly go to the mat. Neither can get an advantage as they return to their feet, waistlock by Ota but Katsumura rolls away. Shimizu and Sunabe are tagged in, Shimizu chases Sunabe around with no luck, Sunabe gets Shimizu’s arm on the mat but Shimizu gets out of it and they return to their feet. Takedown by Shimizu but Sunabe gets up, heel hook by Shimizu but Sunabe gets out of the hold and both wrestlers tag out. Ota grabs Katsumura and he hits a Karelin Lift, Katsumura fights to his feet and he goes for an armbreaker. Ota blocks it, he pushes Katsumura in the corner and Katsumura tags in Sunabe. Shimizu tags in two as we continue the same pairs, Sunabe gets Shimizu’s arm and then his heel but Shimizu gets out of it. Sunabe tags in Katsumura, Shimizu goes for Katsumura’s arm but he has no luck. Katsumura slams Shimizu to the mat but Shimizu returns to his feet and tags in Ota. Katsumura tags in Sunabe, Sunabe and Ota trade move attempts, Ota throws Sunabe to the mat but Sunabe tags in Katsumura. Katsumura applies a choke but Ota slams him, and Katsumura tags in Sunabe. Shimizu also tags in, Shimizu applies a headlock but Sunabe goes for an armbreaker. Shimizu tags Ota back in, Ota throws Sunabe to the mat but Sunabe tags in Katsumura. This match isn’t any more fun to watch than my play by play is to read, for whatever that matters. Suplex by Katsumura and he puts Ota in the Ninje Choke, forcing Ota to tap out! This was just way too dull for me. Maybe it was decent grappling, I have no idea, but it sure wasn’t entertaining. There was just a lot of tagging in and out with no real feeling that anyone was actually hurting their opponent. Skip this one.
Koji Iwamoto vs. Ryo Kawamura
This match has a 15 minute time limit. They circle to start and trade strikes, high kick by Kawamura and Iwamoto falls to the mat for a quick one point loss. He gets back up and they grapple, Kawamura lands a kick to Iwamoto’s ribs and Iwamoto is knocked down again. Iwamoto loses a second point. He recovers, palm strikes by Kawamura but Iwamoto takes him down to the mat. Kawamura gets in the mount but Iwamoto rolls out of it. Kawamura gets in the mount again and hits palm strikes, but after a moment the referee stands them up. Kawamura promptly gets Iwamoto again, Kawamura goes for a shoulder lock but Iwamoto grabs the bottom rope to get a break. Iwamoto loses his third point. Back up Kawamura hits palm strikes, Iwamoto takes down Kawamura and gets cinches in a shoulder lock, and before he can get to the ropes he has to submit! Iwamoto is the winner. What I liked about this is they worked the points system well to add some drama. Iwamoto was down 3-0 in points but won with a submission, and the people at ringside really sold it as an upset so I am assuming that it was. So I liked the story of it and they kept the pace up, overall a pretty good match. Mildly Recommended
Hikaru Sato vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara
This match has a 15 minute time limit. Sato goes for a takedown but Kanehara stuffs it, Sato pushes Kanehara into the ropes but Kanehara blocks the takedown. Kanehara gets Sato to the mat and gets in the mount as Sato fails to roll out of it but they return to their feet. Kanehara kicks Sato into the corner, he catches Sato's leg and pushes him to the mat. Kanehara gets behind Sato but Sato reverses positions with him. Kanehara gets a kimura applied from the bottom but Sato slides out of it and goes for Kanehara's ankle. Kanehara gets out of it and applies a heel hook, and Sato has to grab the ropes to force a break. Sato losses one point. Back up Kanehara goes for kicks but Sato catches one and takes him down. Kanehara rolls over and goes for a cross armbreaker but Sato gets out of it and hits a few palm strikes. The referee stands them up due to nothing much happening, Kanehara kicks Sato in the leg and they trade palm strikes. Kanehara connects with one solidly which sends Sato falling to the mat. Sato loses a point.
Sato makes it up before the count, Kanehara gets Sato to the mat and goes for the kimura, Sato gets out of it but Kanehara puts his head in a headscissors. Sato slides out and applies a cross kneelock, and Kanehara has to use the ropes to get a break. Kanehara loses a point. Kanehara goes for kicks but Sato grabs him around the waist and they fall to the mat together. Kanehara ends up on top and strikes Sato but Sato gets back to his feet and hits a palm strike. Kanehara fires back with his own open punch and Sato crashes to the mat. Sato loses a point, his third. Sato makes it back up, kicks by Kanehara but Sato takes him down. Sato goes for a shoulderlock and gets it applied but Sato reverses it into a cross kneelock. Kanehara crawls to the ropes to get a break. Kanehara loses a point. During the last scuffle, Sato legitimately and noticeably dislocated his finger. The referee sees it and after a quick discussion it is decided to end the match. Kanehara is your winner! First let me say the ending was not a work, as Sato's finger was clearly dislocated. Just a freak accident while he was getting out of the hold. Up to that point I was enjoying this one, Sato and Kanehara are a step above the others and they put together a well structured match. In ten minutes a total of five points were lost so things were happening, and they mixed in striking and submission well so there is something for everyone. It is a shame the match ended prematurely, but it was still a good match. Recommended
As I mentioned at the top, this is the first Hard Hit show that was not produced by DDT, as they have 'turned over' the rights to Hikaru Sato. So for a first show, I thought this had a few good matches but most were a bit lacking in excitement. It is not a style I prefer, to me it takes really high-end wrestlers to pull of the style well as otherwise it can just look like two wrestlers taking turns trading holds without a lot of structure to it. Many of the matches fell flat for me, they were just dull. The last two matches were good though, they had a good pace to them and stayed interesting. If you miss shoot-style wrestling give this one a try but if you are lukewarm on it, I'd just go for the last two matches to see if Hard Hit is for you.
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review completed on 7/17/15