Kings Road EXCITE on 2/28/06
review by Mike Campbell
The fun continues! First they stole the classic ring mat, and now they’ve plagiarized the longtime name of All Japan’s February tour.
Manabu Hara . . . shows that all wrestlers with his first name don’t suck, and that BattlArts lives on!
SHOTA TAKANISHI vs. HISAKATSU OYA
Although it’s not in the same manner as his debut match with Ishikawa, this is still the Takanishi show. The big story in the Ishikawa match was that Takanishi surprised everyone by his ability to actually put up a fight against Ishikawa and even get some bits of offense in on him. This time around it’s more of a standard rookie vs. veteran style of a match. Oya brings the whoopin’ and Shota supplies the ass. Oya makes a nice surly veteran to torture Takanishi for six and a half minutes, his offense isn’t very interesting beyond the jumping neckbreaker drop (which was cool for obvious reasons), but he makes up for it a bit by magnifying what he does, to seem that much more brutal. Takanishi steals the show again though, because he’s so good at putting over the torture he’s going through. He knows that it’s only his second match and his chances of winning are zero, but he’s determined to not be a cakewalk opponent this time. And although he doesn’t succeed the same way he did in his first match, he still does succeed in a sense. He simply refuses to stay down, at one point Oya was leveling him with clubbing forearms to his back, and he’d go down like a safe, but would get right back up. Oya finally does finish him off with a Boston Crab, but it’s only after Takanishi nearly makes the ropes, and Oya pulls him back, that he finally taps out. After only seeing their first two shows, I’m going to predict it right now. Barring any unforeseen incident like a freak injury, or the promotion having to close, this kid, and not Miyamoto, is going to wind up being their big star.
MANABU HARA/TOMOHIKO HASHIMOTO vs. JUNJI INAZUMA/DAISUKE IKEDA
Looks like I’ll be adding Manabu Hara to the list of guys who’s work I need to see more of. Although the BattlArts affiliation should have clued me in already. Like the lone tag match from the first show, Hashimoto is made out to be the weak link, it’s almost sad, he’s the biggest guy in the match by a decent margin, and he’s made to look almost worthless. The saddest part comes after Hara puts Ikeda in the corner and lays a couple of kicks in, he tags in Hashimoto, who charges with a big avalanche. Ikeda completely no-sells it, and drop Hashimoto with a leg lariat. It was a tad disappointing to not see Ikeda and Hara go full out BattlArts on one another, other than their early exchange with the kick trade off. I’ve never seen INAZUMA before, and he didn’t show much of anything to warrant going out of my way to change that. Hara was easily the best one here, bringing most of the good offense (including a Minoru Special, done better than the man it’s named after), and taking a couple of nasty bumps. His counter to INZUAMA’s suplex was strange, with him just shifting his weight to fall on top, rather than using the more common knee strike to the head. The Chickenwing arm lock that gets the win isn’t the most exciting submission, but it’s a good enough hold to catch INAZUMA off guard with to score the win.
TATSUTOSHI GOTO vs. YUTO AIJIMA
I guess this is supposed to be the equivalent of an Abdullah vs. Brody match. Brawl into the crowd, weapon coming into play, almost a complete lack of actual wrestling. Once they get back into the ring, it’s mostly punch-kick stuff, except for a couple of nice lariats, and of course Goto’s backdrop. If they were going to work this style, I can see why it only went for five or so minutes, but the point of actually working this style escapes me. If they wanted to do an ode to Brody vs. Abby, that’s fine, but at least go all the way with it. There’s nothing wrong with a little chaos in between wrestling. It did wonders for the first show with the Goto/Ka Shin “confrontation.”
TAICHI ISHIKARI/MITSUYA NAGAI vs. RICKY FUJI/Mr. GANNOSUKE
Good God, Ricky Fuji looks old. There are some fun bits here, but for the most part this is really pedestrian. Gannosuke always struck me as one of the few FMW guys who could actually bring some decent work (which is more than can be said for his partner), and he supplies a couple of nice moments, but the bulk of this is dull with lots of chinlocks and perfunctory holds. The basic premise is that the FMW guys beat on Ishikari, and Nagai tags in and runs them off, only to tag back out, and then Ishikari gets himself back into trouble. It’s fairly simple, but not overly interesting. Gannosuke does bring some fun though with a couple of sick lariats, and a Fire Thunder Driver. There is also a bit of continuity from the previous show when Blue Justice Naniwa runs in and does the Crab walk, and then Oya returns the favor by planting Ishikari with a nasty backdrop. But aside from the couple of good things Gannosuke did, and Nagai’s Stretch Plum, nothing else sticks out at all. Ishikari is made to look as worthless as can be, and aside from Irish whipping Gannosuke into the guardrail, while Nagai finishes off Fuji with the Makai Driver, he doesn’t do a single thing to contribute to his team’s victory.
TARZAN GOTO/SHIRO KOSHINAKA vs. GEORGE HINES/STEVE CORINO
At first this just looks like an excuse to cart out the old guys so they can do their signature stuff and get the nostalgia pop. Koshinaka doesn’t do much more than his hip strikes, and Goto’s size doesn’t allow him to do a whole lot, although he does actually out wrestle Hines on the mat, in a pretty funny moment. Goto also makes sure to get the weapons involved. Corino bleeds like a stuck pig from a broken bottle, and the native are total punks about working over his cut any way that they can, while Corino tries desperately to tag in Hines, only for him to keep getting cut off constantly. Koshinaka still doesn’t do much more than the hip strikes, but at least they serve a purpose this time, other than popping the crowd. Corino getting all fired up is funny enough, but then he starts mimicking Jumbo and Hansen, including dropping Koshinaka with the Western Lariat! Hines finally gets tagged in and he reels off a nice dropkick and bicycle kick, before Goto levels him with a chair and Koshinaka diving hip attacks him to win the match. Considering this looked like the most random tag match ever booked, it’s a shockingly fun and watchable encounter. Between this and the debacle at the first show, Goto is really looking like the MVP of this promotion.
TAKAO OMORI vs. KAZUSHI MIYAMOTO
Thankfully this is less frustrating than the Miyamoto/Tenryu match from the first show, but it’s still disappointing largely because neither Omori nor Miyamoto has the offense to carry the match. There are fun parts to this, especially the early portion when Miyamoto tries to bust up Omori’s arm to take away the Axe Bomber, but all it amounts to is filler and Omori can’t even be bothered to sell the arm after the fact. Given Miyamoto’s lack of just about any meaningful offense, and Omori’s lack of offense other than his big moves (Axe Bomber, Axe Guillotine Driver, Full Nelson slam) the middle portion of this tends to drag. They try to cover up the fact that there isn’t much for them to do by going to the floor and having a little brawl into the crowd, and getting a couple of chairs involved, but just like the fun arm work, it doesn’t lead the match anywhere.
One thing that Miyamoto was a lot better about here was his usage of Kawada’s moves. Rather than doing them just to get them done, he was doing them in his attempts to mount a comeback against Omori. The really nice one was the Stretch Plum which he used as a counter to Omori’s attempted lariat, and Miyamoto even tried to wrench the shoulder a bit to put the arm work back into focus. The match isn’t totally bereft of any frustration though, and toward the end they do the same stupid no-selling sequence that Miyamoto and Tenryu did with the brainbuster, thankfully it didn’t go as long though. Omori does a decent job of killing off the Axe Guillotine Driver as a finisher. He plants Miyamoto with one on the floor to turn the tide of the match, and from there the match went into the crowd for the weak brawl. After failing to keep him down with one on the floor, how is a regular one expected to keep Miyamoto down? It isn’t, and it doesn’t. It’s only after an Axe Bomber that Miyamoto is finished off. Call me crazy, but you’d think somebody getting dropped onto their head would be more likely to finish off someone than a lariat variation. While it’s better than Miyamoto/Tenryu, it still falls short of being a real “Kings Road” sort of match, other than the fact that both wrestlers got their start in All Japan.
Conclusion: It’s got a better main event than the first show, although the undercard isn’t as much fun. It’s got some nice stuff from Hara, the gaijin tag, and of course Takanishi. Granted the federation is still a work in progress so to speak, but I’m going to call a spade a spade, and a weak show is a weak show. Recommendation to avoid, this time around.
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