Fortune Dream 3
June 14, 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
After taking 2015 complete off, the Kenta Kobashi-produced spectacle, Fortune Dream, has returned for the third time in Korakuen Hall. Prior events have seen representatives for Big Japan, All Japan, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and STARDOM, among other promotions. This show has just as much variety with the added bonus of representatives from Michinoku Pro, BASARA, and DDT as well.
Jun Akiyama def. LEONA
LEONA is the son of WWE Hall of Famer, New Japan Pro Wrestling legend, and in my opinion, the third greatest wrestler of all-time, Tatsumi Fujinami. Having Fujinami in his bloodstream is about the only thing LEONA has going for him. At the age of 22, he’s developing a sweet dad-bod and with the exception of this match, he’s never shown me anything that makes me have any desire to watch him. I wish I could give him more credit, but he worked an idiot-proof match with Akiyama, who in his own right, is one of the best wrestlers to ever step foot in the squared circle. LEONA jumped him before the bell and although he put up a nice, scrappy fight, it was all for not as Akiyama stretched, slammed, and eventually flattened LEONA at nearly every turn. A career highlight for LEONA, which is terribly embarrassing considering his output for this match, and yet is was just another day at the office for Akiyama. ***
Hiroyo Matsumoto vs Kairi Hojo
The generous Byrn Gunn (@Bryn_Gunn), our resident STARDOM reviewer, graciously offered to review this match since he is much more familiar with the competitors than I am.
Last year at Fortune Dream 2, we saw an amazing confrontation between Kairi Hojo and Meiko Satomura. Hojo had Stardom’s world title at the time, and would go on to just barely survive via a forty minute time limit draw in what I believe to be a five star match.
Things are different this year. Hojo is now the Wonder of Stardom champion, a midcard belt that she wishes to bring more prestige as she defends it. Up against her is Hiroyo Matsumoto, an absolute powerhouse that has spent much of her time in Stardom this year talking shit about Hojo, and now we finally get to see the two clash for the first time ever in a singles match. Hojo jumps on ‘Lady Godzilla’ during her entrance and lays into her with chops and elbows. Uncharacteristic perhaps, but this shows just how far Matsumoto has got under her skin. It sets the theme of her offence too, it’s very much fueled by desperation, to prove herself not only as a competitor but as a newly crowned champion. Fighting spirit will get you far, but it’s not a whole lot of use against overwhelming brute strength. Matsumoto quite literally throws Hojo around, tossing her right over the top rope on onto a couple of ringside rookies. She then places Hojo against the ring post and takes an unnecessarily long rung up to crush her against the steel. Hojo’s signature passion kicks in and she fights back, landing a spear, her first big move of the match, but follows with a nasty trip as she attempts to springboard dive onto Matsumoto, who rolled out after the move. Luckily she isn’t injured and seamlessly picks up where she left off. Matsumoto dodges the best damn elbow drop in pro wrestling and regains momentum. The match is all go from there on out. Hojo struggles out of a powerbomb and tries to fire back with a spear but Matsumoto holds on and lifts her into the torture rack position before dropping her limp body into a backbreaker. Hiroyo follows up with another backdrop driver but the time limit bell sounds as she goes into a cover. She had this won, but Hojo endured the full fifteen minutes.
This finish did a lot of things. It was a nice throwback to Hojo’s match vs Satomura last year, it represented Matsumoto as the beast she deserves to be, and it keeps a rematch in Stardom relatively fresh and interesting. Fantastic match from two fantastic workers, can’t wait to see them top this in the future. ****
Shinjiro Otani, Minoru Tanaka, & Ultimo Dragon def. Fujita “Jr” Hayato, Isami Kodaka, & Shiori Asahi
Very fun six-man between six incredibly respected junior heavyweights. The legends team, Otani, Tanaka, and Dragon brought their working shoes and that made for a match that was more than just a greatest hits collection. Even Ultimo, who I’m a huge critic of, at least tried to bust his ass. The star of this match, however, was Michinoku Pro representative Fujita “Jr” Hayato. A few minutes into the match, he and Otani met foot-to-chest, as Hayato delivered a series of brutal kicks to the chest of one of the ultimate junior heavyweight babyfaces, only for Otani to walk through those kicks. The crowd popped, as did I. Otani’s chest took a beating and it was a thing of beauty. This match probably could’ve had a few minutes cut off of it, but Otani, Tanaka, and Hayato were in the match enough to keep things worthwhile. This was a ton of fun, and a fun concept with three junior legends wrestling three grimy juniors. I wish Hayato popped up more. If you want to check him out, this is the perfect match to kick off your viewing. Recommended. ***3/4
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Shuji Ishikawa def. Maybach Taniguchi & Kohei Sato
Much like the match prior, this is an “only in Fortune Dream” match as tag team partners explode here. Sato and Ishikawa, also known as the Twin Towers, the current Big Japan tag team champions, adopted different partners for the day as they did battle with two of NOAH’s top heavyweights, Nakajima and Taniguchi. This match was built around Nakajima and him looking good, which featured a couple of cool moments as the camera panned towards the curtain to show his mentor, Kensuke Sasaki, watching on from backstage. Nakajima certainly brought the entertainment in this one, both on offense and while selling. His underdog selling eventually led to a Shuji Ishikawa hot tag which I was all about. Ishikawa is a tremendous wrestler. He has his act down and he’s one of the more enjoyable guys to watch in Japan. I think very highly of him and here, he continued to impress. Since removing the mask, Taniguchi has even been enjoyable, teaming with Go Shiozaki in NOAH and now here, tagging alongside Sato.
Only real complaint with this match is that the finish came out of nowhere, as Nakajima countered a Powerbomb from his fellow NOAH wrestler and rolled him up for the three count. After a match that featured Nakajima getting beat down for so long, I wanted him to have a dominant pinfall victory, but much like the rest of Nakajima’s career, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. Regardless, very fun match, worth seeking out. ***1/2
Yuji Okabayashi & Go Shiozaki def. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Hino
This is a TEW-quality main event. It’s like something that would be thought of on the DKP Christmas Special with our very own Joe Gagne. On paper, the match seemed like it would deliver, as the Big Japan Heavyweight Champion, Okabayashi, teamed up with GHC Heavyweight Champion Shiozaki to battle two of the toughest lads in Japan. This was the zenith of STRONK~ action. In honor of Kenta Kobashi, the producer of this show, all four men proceeded to chop the life out of each other. Okabayashi and Hino squared off in a duel that rivaled the one Kobashi and Kensuke Sasaki had in the Tokyo Dome 11 years ago.
These four beautiful, beefy men battled to a 30-minute time limit draw. They were exhausted by the time the time limit draw was reached. I had never seen four men hit each other as hard as they did for as long as they did. That wasn’t enough, however, as Kenta Kobashi got on the house mic and declared that these four deserved five more minutes after a plea from Yuji Hino. After the restart, Sekimoto was met with a lariat by his protegee, one that knocked him out for the count. The champions, Okabayashi and Shiozaki, stood tall in the very end. ****3/4
The show closed with a touching tribute to Mitsuharu Misawa, who passed away on June 13th, 2009. Spartan X, the infamous theme song of Misawa, filled Korakuen Hall as the show came to a close.
A true Show of the Year Contender. In the same vein as Genichiro Tenryu’s Retirement Show from last year, you will be hard pressed to find a more diverse show in wrestling this year. This had Joshi action, a hot juniors six-man, and STRONK~ action that will finish in my Top 10 matches this year. Amazing show. Highly recommended.