2015 saw BJW become one of my favorite promotions to watch thanks to a group I like to call the BJW Big Four in the form of Daisuke Sekimoto, Yuji Okabayashi, Kohei Sato, & Shuj Ishikawa. Throughout the year, they put on a number of amazing, top tier matches as they dominated the championship scene in Big Japan. So, when 2016 rolled around, I made it a point to keep up with BJW on the regular and while I'm a month behind, I'm keeping my promise starting here with BJW's January 24th show in Korakuen Hall.
On this show, Yuji Okabayashi has his first big title defense of the year as he defends against Ryota Hama in the main event. It's an interesting match that has garnered quite the buzz so I'm excited to see it for myself. Also on the card is a loaded six man tag and several death match oriented contests. But to start things off, we get quite the comedic opening match.
1) Speed of Sounds (Hercules Senga & Tsutomu Oosugi) & Jaki Numazawa vs. Brahman Kei, Brahman Shu & Takayuki Ueki
Match rating - **1/2
2) Isami Kodaka, Yuko Miyamoto, & Takumi Tsukamoto vs. Kankuro Hoshino, Masato Inaba, & Masaya Takahashi - G Shock Death Match
Ladders and cement blocks filled the ring for this trios match. It ended up not being as brutal as you may expect, though. They did spots with both of the aforementioned weapons however they kept it pretty tamed considering this was an undercard match. So, with all things into consideration, this was fine for what it was, but it never really picked up steam or fully pulled me into it so it came across as a sub-par contest for me.
Match rating - **1/4
3) Abdullah Kobayashi & Masashi Takeda vs. Ryuichi Sekine & Ryuji Ito - Barbed Wire Board Death Match
Match rating - ***
4) Daisuke Sekimoto & Atsushi Aoki vs. Daichi Hashimoto & Kazuki Hashimoto
The strong style fun begins here with the mighty Daisuke Sekimoto in tag action with Atsushi Aoki against the Hashimotos. Kazuki & Aoki were a dream pairing here that I didn't know existed because they were the highlight of this match. Their exchange early on and their finishing sequence was absolutely great. Not to mention the opening exchange Kazuki had with Sekimoto. Really enjoyable tag match here.
Match rating - ***1/4
5) Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa) & Hideyoshi Kamitani vs. Hideki Suzuki, Seiya Sanada, & Yoshihisa Uto
Match rating - ***3/4
6) Yuji Okabayashi vs. Hama - BJW Strong World Championship Match
On paper, this is a match that could be hit or miss. And despite being a huge fan of Okabayashi, I didn't really have high expectations for this due to Hama's size. That's not me downing Hama, it's just an honest observation anyone would make. He's VERY big and that clearly restricts what he can do in the ring plus it slows him down. I mean, no one ever expected Rikishi to have an amazing match in WWE and in a way, that's kind of what Hama is in BJW except he's much bigger than Rikishi. None the less, these two worked this match in a brilliant manner and it ended up being one of my favorite matches of the year thus far. The crowd got more hyped than they had been all night and rightfully so because this was truthfully the only match of the night that had my complete attention from bell to bell. The match was pretty much based around the conflict of whether or not Okabayashi would be lift or move Hama. It got heated just seconds in as Yuji hit the ropes repeatedly going for his vicious shoulder tackles only for Hama not to budge. The champion couldn't even get much of a reaction out of him with his signature hard hitting chops. As a result, Hama gains control. Okabayashi fights back and tries to lift Hama up, but fails as Hama just falls back on him into a pinning predicament. Hama hit all his signature stuff which brought the audience into it for several near falls because they thought it was about to be over. Okabayashi fires up and makes a fucking awesome comeback that sees him powerbomb Hama off the second rope. He goes back to the shoulder tackles, Hama won't go down, he keeps trying and LARIATTOOOOO FROM HELL KNOCKS HAMA TO THE MAT! That felt like a triumphant moment which is exactly how it should've felt. This was fantastic stuff that definitely deserves a watch. I enjoyed it just as much or more than anything NJPW has done this year.
Match rating - ****1/4