The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

My Top 10 Favorite Puroresu Matches of 2012

Posted by invizweb on April 1, 2013

In the past few weeks, I had great joy catching up and watching the great Puroresu (Japanese Pro-Wrestling) matches of the past year. Here are brief reviews of my favorite 10 and 3 honorable mentions:

10) 11-10-12 Hayato Jr Fujita vs The Great Sasuke (Michinoku Pro Wrestling; Tohoku Jr Heavyweight Title Match)
A lot of people contend that Fujita’s match on 06/03 with Ken-Ou was MOTY, I disagree and select this match as a closer candidate instead. Whereas that match focused on two kickboxers kicking each other tit for tat, this one told the story of savvy veteran (in Sasuke) vs the new face of the generation (in Hayato). Sasuke’s work on the arm was also not too shabby in this multiple * match.

9) 11-13-12 Daisuke Sekimoto vs Yuji Hino (KAIENTAI Dojo; CLUB-K SUPER in KORAKUEN HALL; Champion of the Strongest-K Title Match)
A rematch where the big boys played, the Japanese indies’ top heavyweight took on K-DOJO’s top heavyweight in Yuji Hino. Both guys are known for their power moves. Both guys are also masters of the German Suplex (one of my favorite techniques to watch; seriously I don’t think i could ever hit one though I wish I can). So who would beat the other guy with this hold? The cockier Hino, with his middle finger wagging, or the Strong BJ (yeah that does not sound right) monster?

8) 02-12-12 Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada (New Japan Pro Wrestling; The New Beginning; International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Title Match)
See the note below and you will know why you MUST watch this match and its sequel.

7) 04-29-12 Go Shiozaki/ Tamon Honda vs Kensuke Sasaki/ Kento Miyahara (Pro Wrestling NOAH; Global Tag League 2012)
I love it when relatively underutilized or otherwise unknown talents take it upon themselves to show it. Take the example of Kento Miyahara in this match going right after NOAH ace Shiozaki. This boy was on fire. The focus of this match on that pairing gave it a much deeper story (and better heat) than any of these other League matches. Miyahara’s performance alone warrants you to watch it, but add Shiozaki’s violent reaction and Kensuke’s trademark tenacity, and you have one of the best tag team matches of the year. I would like to add that Tamon staying out most of it was another + (he was a great worker but age has caught up to him).

6) 02-02-12 Daisuke Sekimoto/ Yuji Okabayashi/ Kazuki Hashimoto vs Akebono/ Ryota Hama/ Yasufumi Nakanoe (Big Japan Pro Wrestling; Big Japan vs All Japan)
I really enjoy the feud between BJW and AJPW, especially matches with Sekimoto and Okabayashi against Akebono and Hama. The always violent Kaz Hashimoto was an especially great bonus (like the cherry on a sundae). Despite his injuries and limited mobility, Akebono is a pretty decent worker given all the factors, especially when he needs to play MONSTER heel. Its too bad the WWE never signed him (or Bas Rutten, or Takayama, who deserve regular WWE level pay). Sekimoto and Okabayashi’s power offense is always welcome with their sometimes incredible feats. Hama is a good prick. And K-Hash deserves credit as one of the best rookies out there right now (Big Japan sure knows how to find and develop them though). For under 16 minutes, you get a great trios match that translates in any language.

5) 02-03-12 Jun Akiyama vs Takao Omori (All Japan Pro Wrestling; 40th Anniversary Year Excite Series 2012; Triple Crown Title Match)
Korauken Hall is a great venue for heat and that’s what this match had. And this match can help dispel myths that Japanese crowds are always subdued. This battle was almost like the 90s Triple Crown matches except it took place in 2012 with two post-NOAH formation returnees in Akiyama and Omori. These guys worked a hard hitting match with excellent pacing, made even better by the aforementioned crowd.

4) 02-11-12 Kensuke Sasaki/ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya vs Kenta Kobashi/ Jun Akiyama (Diamond Ring; Kensuke Office Changes)
On the first show of the rechristened Diamond Ring, we get the top tag match of the year. Kitamiya, who started only 5 months earlier, is given the chance to be in the ring with the legendary Kenta Kobashi and then Triple Crown Champ Jun Akiyama. And boy does the kid take the opportunity to shine as he tries to grapple with Akiyama and the champ brutalizes him in the process. The kid shows so much spunk though, and its no wonder he is given this match (the other three in this match must see something special in Kitamiya, which can someday equal cash). And anyone who works tag matches must watch Kensuke in his corner as he reacts to his young protege getting pummeled.

3) 06-16-12 Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan Pro Wrestling; DOMINION 06.16; International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Title Match)
To be honest you cannot have this match without the previous; they are like chapters in a novel. Although their roles were reversed for each match, the story of cocky Okada and his unbeatable Rainmaker technique taking on Tanahashi, the beloved ace who stands for “(Puroresu) LOVE,” remained the same. In both, we had near-perfect masterpieces with excellent technique and great psychology. If you are a fan of Pro-Wrestling at all, seek this series out and wonder no more why it was the Wrestling Observer Newsletter 2012 Feud of the Year.

2) 03-04-12 Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito (New Japan Pro Wrestling; 40th Anniversary Show; International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Title Match)
New Japan had a lot of trust in these two to have them headline Korakuen for what was labelled their 40th Anniversary show. And it paid off because these two came across like headline draws to the crowd there. I love matches where new guys are elevated and this was one of those. Naito came across as the upstart whereas Okada was the reigning heel champion. And there were mad pops for this match heard across the great hall. I don’t know what else to day. Okada and Naito worked their asses off for this one and this would have been my favorite match of the year if not for…

1) 10-08-12 Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki (New Japan Pro Wrestling; 40th Anniversary ~ King of Pro Wrestling; International Wrestling Grand Prix World Heavyweight Title Match)
…the Wrestling Observer Newsletter 2012 Match of the Year, and 5* match. Although I did not think it should be that highly rated, it was none the less at least **** 1/2 and my favorite match this year. Tanahashi worked his usual excellent technique once again (you are probably tired reading about this by now). What stood apart from the Suzuki/Tanahashi match from earlier this year was Suzuki’s heel mannerisms and his personality really shining (from his tearing of bandages with his teeth to his banging on his knees to get himself moving again). The best Minoru Suzuki ever, so far (though the match with Mecha Mummy in 2006 came so close). Suzuki and Tanahashi both deserve to be in the Observer Hall of Fame NOW.

Honorable Mentions:
* 08-19-12 Emi Sakura/ Kaori Yoneyama vs Arisa Nakajima/ Commando Bolshoi (Japanese Women Pro-Wrestling Project; PURE-SLAM 2012 ~ JWP 20th; JWP Tag Team Title & Daily Sports Women’s Tag Team Title)
Talk about total non-stop action; these ladies work a match harkening back to the 90s “workrate style.” Bolshoi’s matwork transitions with Emi and Yoneyama’s speed are the highlights of this sprint. And Nakajima is a mean-ass stomper. A-Naka Stomper should be her gimmick if she ever comes to the States.

* 03-26-12 Daisuke Sekimoto vs Yoshihito Sasaki (Big Japan Pro Wrestling; Ikkitousen: The Stongest Climb Tournament – Final)
Its 15:29 only~! How does this match rank so high? Its because its Daisuke Sekimoto vs Yoshihito Sasaki, two guys who project auras in spite of their size (differences). It was a very hard hitting match for two guys who worked already earlier in the night. There was also the back story of these two former partners being the very best in their subdivision of the promotion. Still this match was only 15 minutes and change, and I think they could have an epic given the time…

* 02-19-12 Kana vs Shuri (SMASH; 25; SMASH Diva Title Match)
This match is even shorter than the above match coming in just under 13 minutes. However, the match still had an epic feel to it because the ladies showed the HATE during the match (despite hugging afterwards). The match was a high-impact and high-emotion sprint which did not feel rushed nor overstay its welcome. It reminded me of Koji Kanemoto vs the aforementioned Hayato Jr Fujita match from the 2009 Super J-Cup. Even though Finlay vs TAJIRI later in the show has been lauded by the Internet Wrestling Fanbase, I felt this match has comparably way more HEAT.

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