Big Japan Wrestling
Death Vegas 2015
December 20, 2015
Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium – Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Allow me to introduce myself. My name’s Dylan Justin, some may recognize me from my work at the now defunct Phoenix Plex Review, or maybe from whatever social media platforms you may use as I’m more than likely on all of them (@dylanjstx). I’ve been a wrestling fan for the better part of my life. I watch everything, from WWE, to New Japan, to DDT to BJW to EVOLVE. I got into puro a few years back and have been following as closely as humanly possible since, for better or for worse.
The Voices of Wrestling folks have opened up a spot for me to do puro reviews for them. I intend to review BJW, NOAH, All Japan and a multitude of other promotions, depending on what becomes available to view.
I, now, present to you, BJW Death Vegas 2015. Light tubes and lariats galore. (Quick note on the attendance. They drew 2,030 people, which is about 100 people less than they drew last year, and about 700 more than they drew two years ago.)
Daichi Hashimoto, Kazuki Hashimoto & Tatsuhiko Yoshino vs. Kazumi Kikuta, Naoya Nomura & Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Daichi and Kazuki Hashimoto have proven that they’re able to deliver on a big stage many a time, and yet they’re in the opener here. Yoshino works mainly for GUTS World but has done some BJW shots over the years. He was by far the most believable character in this match, and not to mention the best in-ring performer. Not to take anything away from the other guys, but everything Yoshino did was totally believable and looked great. Aside from that and Kazuki Hashimoto kicking these other geeks (and Takaiwa) around, there wasn’t much to this match. A nice opener, no more, no less. **¾
Arisa Nakajima, Kagetsu & Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Misaki Ohata, Yumi Ohka & Yuuka
Matches like these really make me appreciate Cagematch.net, because I don’t watch as much joshi as I probably should, and didn’t recognize any of these girls. Regardless of my prior knowledge, all six of them looked great. Misaki Ohata is actually Yapper Man 3 in Michinoku Pro as I found out during my in-depth study of their respective careers. Yuuka is only 17 years old and is exceptional for her age. **½
Great Kojika, Kankuro Hoshino, Masato Inaba & Risa Sera vs. Masaya Takahashi, Mayumi Ozaki, Shinobu & Yuichi Taniguchi
You can’t run a BJW show and not have a grimy multi-man that makes you want to take a shower immediately after watching. That was this match in a nutshell. I will say, Kojika can still go, even in his 70s. He isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but for 73? Come on, the guy isn’t that bad, he’s in better shape than a lot of guys younger than him.
Shinobu is a fine worker when he wants to be, but I’m not too fond of these silly ass gimmicks that he did during the match. I’m not fond of any silly literal ass gimmicks. Keep your tights on, please. It’s not that hard. *½
Brahman Kei, Brahman Shu & Takayuki Ueki vs. Hercules Senga, Tsutomu Oosugi & Toshiyuki Sakuda
The Brahmans have the exact same match every time out, no matter the opponent. They did their shtick here and the match was fine, I guess. Bleh. *¾
Fluorescent Light Tubes Death Match
Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Minoru Fujita
Kobayashi is a guy that’s always, always, always going to be booked as a prominent figure on these big time shows as he’s a top guy in Big Japan. His matches mostly suck, but, hey, the fans love him. This was an 18 minute death match and just isn’t my cup of tea. The light tubes were cool a decade ago but I don’t really need to see them anymore. *
This Is Death Match Awakening Death Match
Isami Kodaka, Yuko Miyamoto & Ryuji Ito vs. Jaki Numazawa, Masashi Takeda & Takumi Tsukamoto
Isami Kodaka is another case of a guy that can put on a great match but is only booked in these matches he’s unable to do anything in. It’s been that way for years though, let’s hope it changes. You could say the same for Miyamoto, but at least he’s a good death match guy. Wish I could say more about this match but it was your run-of-the-mill deathmatch in many ways. *
Atsushi Maruyama & Ryota Hama vs. Hideki Suzuki & Yoshihisa Uto
A much-needed palate cleanser after the two death matches. Hideki Suzuki gets a lot of hype from certain circles but I’ve always found him very dull. In fact, my goldfish may have more charisma than him. Suzuki and Hama had a title match month ago in Wrestle-1 so I have to imagine that was the influence for this booking. The other two guys (if you’ve never seen them), Maruyama and Uto, are solid hands and did their thing here. **¼
Daisuke Sekimoto & Suwama vs. Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa
This was in a similar vein as other strong tag matches this year. This is only Suwama’s second match in BJW which is so weird to me, because he’d do wonders for this strong division. Suwama and Sekimoto make great partners as do the Twin Towers, of course, who are one of my top picks for Tag Team of the Year. Ishikawa (and Sato to a lesser extent) has had incredible year on his own.
Something about this match felt completely off in the sense that they were working lighter than they normally would and the pacing was what I can best explain as awkward. Not only that, the crowd wasn’t fully invested, or at least that’s the vibe I got. I don’t know what happened, but this did not live up to the hype for me. Don’t get me wrong, the match was good, but not one I’d ever go back and watch. I expected something better than good. It sucks, but that’s just the floor for these matches, you expect them to be amazing and when they aren’t, you’re let down. ***½
BJW Strong Championship
Yuji Okabayashi (c) vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani
The first few minutes were super awkward as they spent a lot of time just feeling each other out. The beginning featured a ton of mat wrestling with the occasional chop thrown in. Once they managed to break loose, they went balls to the wall and started beating the living hell out of one another. Though not as good as other Strong Championship matches this year, this still delivered and was one of the better matches this month. Highlights included lots of lariats, lots of shoulder tackles, lots of throat chops and everything of the like. If you like watching big, grumpy, sweaty men beat each other up, you’ll enjoy this. ****
Now, something I wanted to talk about outside of the actual match: the need for new strong division guys in BJW. The few guys they have done a great job, but how long can they continue to do what they’re doing and not have much depth? Where is the line drawn? Who is next in line for a shot at Okabayashi? BJW is going to have to push the guys they have, either that or bring in a new crop. Suwama isn’t going to be under All Japan contract for long, why not bring him in? Why not push Kohei Sato as a singles guy as well as a tag team guy? Same goes for Kazuki Hashimoto. They have Hideki Suzuki now too, is he the one that’ll get the next shot? Who’s to stay. It’s speculation, an interesting discussion point.
Final Thoughts: Comparing this show to the Sumo Hall show earlier this year would be like comparing night and day. This show felt everything but important. The two strong division matches were good, the tag didn’t fully deliver but the main event did. Overall, there was just a lot of crap on the show, so I can’t recommend watching the whole thing.