Sunday, August 21, 2022

Random Match Review: Kazusada Higuchi (c) vs. Tetsuya Endo - KO-D Openweight Title Match - DDT: Peter Pan (August 20th, 2022)

This year, subscribing to Wrestle Universe and having access to DDT, NOAH, and TJPW shows as they happen and after they happen has been one of my best investments. Long gone are the days of scrambling for daily motion and google drive links. 

With that in mind, I’ve been able to keep up with these promotions, particularly DDT, like never before. In the process of that, Kazusada Higuchi has become one of my favorite people to watch. 

I looked back through some of my match rating archive lists and found that I had watch stuff of his several years back and gave favorable ratings, but this year and being to view DDT and his work less sporadically turned me into a full fledged fan. It was perfect timing for that to happen as well, to be honest. 

The lead in to this match was both traumatic and triumphant. On one side, you have Higuchi. A guy who’s been waiting for that moment to step up and grab the proverbial brass ring, so to speak. He capitalized on Endo getting concussed by Katsuhiko Nakajima at Cyber Fight Festival and made his way to the finals of the King of DDT tournament in July. There, he defeated his now partner, Naomi Yoshimura, to become the new KO-D champion and achieve his ultimate destiny. 

Now, a few months have passed and Endo is cleared to compete so naturally he wants the title back that he had to vacate. The story truly wrote itself. It wasn’t quite so predictable, though. This match would determine if Higuchi was just a transitional champion or if they are really going to go with him. An emotional story on both sides of the ring with both men having a lot on the line. 

They exhibit this story well. Higuchi comes out and looks like an absolute beast of a champion. He carries the DDT flag to the ring and waves it around. This guy truly has stepped into this role with both feet and has not disappointed. 

As the match begins, it becomes clear that they are going to keep Higuchi strong as Endo struggles to even get the least bit of momentum. He does string together some nice pieces of offense that stun Higuchi, but that’s all they are. They stun him. They don’t shift the momentum or turn the tide. Whether it was the sasuke special or the multiple german suplex reversals. You get glimpses of hope, but largely, Higuchi has his number and delivers an epic performance. 

The finish to the match sees Endo laying on the mat and Higuchi challenge him to stand. He tells the ref to stop counting and tries to fire Endo up, but also murder him at the same time. Some of the stiffest lariats you’ll see all year come out of this exchange and we get one last fighting spirit fire up from Endo before the former champion is finally put down with the Brain Claw.

Higuchi retains after a fantastic match. But things aren’t over here. Higuchi is handed the championship by the living legend Kenta Kobashi and is asked who he wants to defend against on September 25th. The answer is simple… Konosuke Takeshita. 

This is Takeshita’s first event back since his US excursion and he slowly walks to the ring and comes face to face with Higuchi. Takeshita’s response to this challenge? Simple. “Let’s fight.” 

September 25th, it will happen. Higuchi and Takeshita are 1-1-1 against each other in the three matches they’ve had over the past few years, but the stakes have never been this high and I can’t wait. See y’all then. 

Match rating - ****

Sunday, August 14, 2022

WCW Monday Nitro Review - June 3rd, 1996

WCW Nitro 
June 3rd, 1996 
Asheville, North Carolina

WCW World Champion: The Giant (since 4/29/96)
WCW US Champion: Konnan (since 1/29/96)
WCW Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger (since 1/22/96)
WCW TV Champion: Lex Luger (since 3/6/96)
WCW Cruserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (since 5/18/96) 

Commentators - Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko (Hour One) and Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan (Hour Two) (ugh)  

The Shark opens the show on the ramp to discuss the hair shaving he suffered last week at the hands of Big Bubba. Mean Gene Okerlund hosts the interview. Shark says he’s not a Shark.. he’s a man and his name is John Tenta and he’s gonna destroy Big Bubba and make him feel how he felt last week! AW HELL. Tenta charges the ring and we are underway. 

1) John Tenta vs. Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart)

Tenta hits a body slam and some stuff starting off on fire. Bubba flees the ring when Tenta pulls out some scissors. This leads to a countout victory for Tenta. 

Awesome backstage interview segment between The Steiners and Sting/Luger, they clash tonight and I can't wait. 

2) High Voltage (Ruckus & Chaos) vs. Faces of Fear (The Barbarian & Meng)

This is the WCW debut for High Voltage. Faces of Fear fucking destroy them. Barbarian hits Ruckus with a belly to belly off the top turnbuckle and considering size of them both, it’s nuts. Mafia Kick from Meng gets them the win. 

Match rating - **

3) Craig Pittman (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Disco Inferno 

WCW Monday Nitro Review - May 27th, 1996

WCW Monday Nitro
May 27th, 1996
Macon, Georgia

WCW World Champion: The Giant (since 4/29/96)
WCW US Champion: Konnan (since 1/29/96)
WCW Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger (since 1/22/96)
WCW TV Champion: Lex Luger (since 3/6/96)
WCW Cruserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (since 5/18/96) 

Commentators - Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko (Hour One) and Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan (Hour Two) (ugh)  

SO outside of a very few select matches (mostly cruserweight stuff), I haven't watched hardly any WCW. My dad was a WWF/Stone Cold head so as a kid, that's all that was on so I don't even have any childhood memories or knowledge of WCW. BUT with having so much time at home recently, I figured there would be no better time to start diving into the company and what better place to start than as the Monday Night Wars were picking up and as the NWO formation began to be teased?

This is the first broadcast of Nitro as a two hour program head to head with Raw's one hour program.

1) Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs. The American Males 

God, Flair & Anderson are SO GOOD. They make this match somehow seem interesting and believable. They get the win after 11 minutes which you could argue they didn't need but they worked it perfectly and it flew by. 

Match rating - *** 

2) Steve Doll vs. Mike Enos

This gets interrupted and one of the most historic moments in WCW history takes place. SCOTT HALL walks through the crowd and cuts the well renowned promo - "You want a war? You've got one..." Crowd is awkwardly quiet in complete shock and awe. WHAT IS GOIN ON. Epic epic moment that is a huge hallmark in the history of the Monday Night Wars and pro wrestling as a whole. 

3) Craig Pittman vs. Diamond Dallas Page

TEDDY LONG is ringside with Pittman. Page gets the win in a glorified squash. D D P.

Bischoff welcomes us to hour two of Nitro. Man he realllllly is so openly trying to outdo WWE with these little things as Raw was only an hour long at the time and he made a huge deal out of Nitro being 2 hours and being in it's second hour as Raw is just starting for it's one hour program. 

4) The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Shark - WCW World Heavyweight Title Match 

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - August 21st, 2003

WWE Smackdown 
August 21st, 2003
Detroit, Michigan 

WWE Champion: Kurt Angle (since 7/27/03)
WWE United States Champion: Eddie Guerrero (since 7/27/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 7/3/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio (since 6/5/03)

Commentators - Michael Cole & Tazz

The WWE Champion Kurt Angle opens the show. It’s his first appearance since two weeks ago where Brock Lesnar assaulted him in the steel cage and aligned with Mr. McMahon. Angle wants Brock Lesnar in the ring right now. Instead, he gets Mr. McMahon who says what we all could’ve guessed—- he’s not getting Brock or even Vince tonight. Vince says he does have a little warm up match for him, though… The Big Show. Angle says that’s fine, but he doesn’t want a match.. he wants a FIGHT. Angle and Show lock horns and brawl in the entrance way and referees have to pull Kurt away. 

Back from commercial, The Big Show is flipping shit.. literally and figuratively. It’s pretty fucking hilarious because Vince is yelling for him to calm down and then makes the match with Angle later a Falls Count Anywhere Street Fight SINCE YOU BOTH WAMT A FIGHT GOD DAMMIT!!!~~ 

1) Rey Mysterio (w/ Billy Kidman) vs. Matt Hardy (w/ Shannon Moore)

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw Review - August 18th, 2003

WWE Monday Night Raw 
August 18th, 2003
Grand Rapids, Michigan 

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
Intercontinental Champion: Christian (since 8/10/03)
World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance (since 6/15/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Molly Holly (since 7/28/03)

Commentators - Jim Ross & Jerry "The King" Lawler

Chris Jericho opens the show with The Highlight Reel. He talks about how he’s gonna shave Kevin Nash bald tonight then go on to win the Elimination Chamber match at SummerSlam. His guest tonight is Shawn Michaels. Once Michaels comes out, Jericho passes off hosting duties to.. Evolution. After some talking, this turns into a 3 on 1 assault on HBK by H, Flair & Orton. Kevin Nash comes out for the save and he’s followed by Goldberg who cleans house on everyone. 

Backstage, Stacy is getting ready. Test walks up and this saga IS STILL GOING ON. Test says when he wins the match tonight, he will treat Stacy “like the little slut that she is.” 

1) Molly Holly (c) vs. Trish Stratus - Women’s Championship Match