Big Japan Pro Wrestling
Ryōgokutan 2019
November 4, 2019
Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: Samurai TV or BJW Core at some undisclosed time when they feel like putting the show up.

Meet Our Reviewer:

Thomas Fischbeck: Check out the DDT Ultimate Party review Thomas wrote yesterday with VOW’s Ewan Cameron. he’ll also be on the next episode of Wrestling Omakase with VOW contributors John Carroll, Taylor Maimbourg, Jack Beckmann to discuss the big week in wrestling and you can follow him on Twitter @rasslinratings.

Under Match
Yuichi Taniguchi & Masaki Morihiro def. Kikutaro & Kosuke Sato

The Big Japan young boys are some of the best in the business though, so I really enjoyed what I saw from Sato and Morihiro. They traded strikes and suplexes, and despite the fairly basic match structure, I enjoyed this mix of comedy and seriousness. A really fun under match to kick off the show. **3/4

Ryota Hama, Yasufumi Nakanoue & Kazuki Hashimoto def. Akira Hyodo, Takuho Kato & Yuki Ishikawa

The BJW vets vs young boys kicked off the main portion of the show. Like I said in the under match, I think that the young guys in Big Japan are severely underrated, or at least don’t get enough shine. Hyodo, Kato, and Ishikawa are the stars of the class, and they all have potential in their own right, although my personal favorite is probably Hyodo. The chop exchanges with young boys trying to hold their own against Hama were really fun, and Nakanoue picked up the win for his team. This was nothing groundbreaking but a fun little opener with the young guys getting some shine against the seasoned vets. ***1/4

Kobayashi-Gundam (Abdullah Kobayashi, Orca Uto, Hideki Suzuki, Drew Parker & Shinobu) vs. Mu No Taiyo (The Great Sasuke, Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei), Kankuro Hoshino & The Great Koshika

I mean, the Brahman Brothers are just not for me so I’m probably not the right person to rate this match. We got a mix of a hardcore tag and your standard Brahman comedy here. It’s a shame guys I really like such as Hideki and Drew Parker were used in this spot rather than higher on the card but oh well. Kobayashi got the pin for his team. If you like the Brahmans, watch this, if you’re not a fan like me, it was just more of the same. *1/2

Big Japan Pro Wrestling vs All Japan Pro Wrestling
Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura def. Ryuichi Kawakami & Kazumi Kikuta

A version of these two teams had some pretty good matches earlier this year over the All Asia tag straps (with Koji Iwamoto in for Nomura), so I came in really excited about this one. It’s unfortunate Kawakami was used this low on the card, he’s a guy I identified as someone with a ton of potential a few years back, but it is what it is I guess.

As I mentioned, three of the four have some significant experience working with each other, so the chemistry was great. Kazumi Kizuta takes some shit, but he’s had a legit good year in this tag team role, similar to KAZMA SAKAMOTO, another previously shat on wrestler who has picked up hype for tags this year.

The partisan crowd was squarely behind the BJW team here, making for a great atmosphere, but Nomura hit a Lancer on Kikuta and then a Maximum on Kawakami before the backdrop suplex from Lee fell Kikuta. Lee and Kawakami got into it after the match, I’d love to see a singles match between those two. A fun match helped by the crowd, good but not quite must-watch territory. ***1/2

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STRONGHEARTS (Shigehiro Irie, T-Hawk & El Lindaman) def. Hideyoshi Kamitani & The Astronauts (Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe)

When the card was announced this was a match everyone circled to keep an eye on. Takuya Nomura has been the story of Big Japan the past two years, his slow ascent up the card culminating in his title match where he took Yuji Okabayashi to the limit early this year has been great to watch. It would’ve perhaps been nice if they gave him the title match on this show over Daichi fucking Hashimoto, but what can you do.

STRONGHEARTS in Big Japan hasn’t gotten much hype, mainly because not a ton has made tape, but they’ve been good. Lindaman and T-Hawk are always a fun team and they were one of the highlights of the recent Saikyou Tag League. The Astronauts team of Abe and Nomura is another one of my favorites in all of Japan. The two are both so young and both have such incredible chemistry, and I was just giddy throughout this one. The six exchanged strikes and high angle suplexes back and forth, this was just great. A lariat from Irie turned Abe inside out to pick up the win for STRONGHEARTS. A fun, exciting, quick-paced clash, and one well worth going out of your way to see, a great display of Strong BJ. ****

Tack Strip Deathmatch
Crazy Lovers (Masashi Takeda & Takumi Tsukamoto) def. Rickey Shane Page & Masaya Takahashi 

This match was a preview for the upcoming Saikyo Tag League Deathmatch Block Final, which will see the two teams clash but with Ryuji Ito subbed in for Masaya Takahashi. Takeda hasn’t gotten the hype this year that he got last year. You could expect that since he isn’t in many main events being away from the BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Title. He’s made the most of his opportunities though, shining in GCW as well as being the MVP of BJW’s semiannual deathmatch block tournament, the Ikkitousen Deathmatch Survivor.

This was a tack strip deathmatch, which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of the light tubes that would normally grace the ring during a big BJW deathmatch, the wrestlers used strips of wood covered in tacks and worked their spots around those. I don’t think they looked as good as the light tubes, which are banned in Ryōgoku, but they looked pretty dangerous and got some good reactions from the crowd with the big teases. The wrestlers crashing through the wood after a suplex or toss was a great visual every time. Tsukamoto picked up the win for his team in a match that was good for the most part but probably missed its peak by a tiny bit. ***1/4

BJW Junior Heavyweight Championship 4 Way Survival Match
Yuya Aoki (c) def. TAJIRI, Tatsuhiko Yoshino, Kota Sekifuda

Yuya Aoki is a 23-year-old up and comer who I think has a ton of potential in the BJW junior division if the company decides to put some shine on him. He recently won his first-ever title in the promotion after beating TAJIRI but was forced to defend his newly won crown in a four-way here on the big stage against the previous champ, TAJIRI, veteran Tatsuhiko Yoshino, and fellow youngster, 24-year-old Kota Sekifuda.

This match was also the point which I realized that the show was flying by, being 1:30 AM local time for me (the show started at midnight) and the card already being halfway complete. TAJIRI has go away heat with me unfortunately so it was difficult to get into this. Seemingly every time the match picked up some momentum, TAJIRI was there to ruin it. A rollup eliminated TAJIRI and for a minute we were left with the match we should’ve gotten from the start, a singles between Aoki and Sekifuda, which was really good.

TAJIRI would not go away though, getting on the apron and leading to the elimination of Sekifuda before departing, leaving us with Aoki and Yoshino… for about two minutes before he came right back. TAJIRI tried to interfere again but was staved off. My stream died for a minute right at the finish of course. Aoki won but I can safely say to skip this, it was really bad! *1/4

After the match, Kazuki Hashimoto challenged Yuya Aoki for the title. They had a great match at Ryōgokutan 2018, so I expect that to be worth checking out assuming it makes tape.

Daisuke Sekimoto 20th Anniversary Match
Daisuke Sekimoto & WALTER def. Yuji Okabayashi & Yuji Hino

On a weekend with big shows from five of the six biggest promotions in Japan, this was probably the match I was most hyped for, maybe bar Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kenoh from NOAH. We knew what this was going to be coming in; four beefy boys slapping the everliving shit out of each other, and it was exactly that!

We started things off with WALTER and Yuji Okabayashi, a dream match if I’ve ever seen one. Technically they have had a match together before, back in 2012 over seven years ago, but it was in front of 125 at Nagoya Diamond Hall so I’m not going to count that. Anyways, you have to go see this match.

If you like big boy wrestling, and I love it, this was no questions asked must-watch stuff. Every guy in the match had some great interactions. My favorite of those came with Yuji Hino taunting WALTER by willingly placing his hands behind his back and just letting WALTER get his offense in to show his power. The Strong BJ exchanges were great too, really this whole match was great. The spot of the match came as Sekimoto suplexed WALTER who suplexed Hino. Eventually, a high angle German from Sekimoto fell Okabayashi. Jesus christ this was great. This is my favorite style of wrestling, and these four did it to perfection. *****

Sekimoto raised WALTER’s hand post-match. Then Okabayashi points at the NXT UK title… oh no. This is happening, isn’t it?

Ryuji Ito 20th Anniversary BLOOD & DEATH HISTORY Deathmatch
Ryuji Ito & Takashi Sasaki def. Jun Kasai & Toshiyuki Sakuda

I mean it’s a tough task to follow that, but if anyone could do it it would be these four. These are three deathmatch legends along with my favorite up and comer in the style today, Toshiyuki Sakuda. Let’s also all take a moment to appreciate how awesome Jun Kasai is by the way. At 45 years old, he’s still the King of FREEDOMS champion and a top three deathmatch wrestler in the world.

Sakuda did some absolutely stupid Sakuda things and we got some crazy spots throughout this one as we celebrated the career of Ryuji Ito. Following that incredible previous match and it being 3 AM local time for me probably didn’t help, but I did feel this match went a little long, I think by trimming some of the fat they could have done a much better job holding my attention, but the crowd seemed into it at least. This probably deserves a rewatch when I’m not tired and burnt out, but I did really get into it by the end. They worked this one with every weapon possible, including the nastiest to me, syringes! The wrestlers even worked an exchange in this match during which one team had syringes through their mouths and others had skewers. Cool.

The top rope splash from Ito to Sakuda won him his anniversary match. This was wild stuff throughout. Like I said, maybe a little long in the tooth at some points but still great. ****

BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship
Daichi Hashimoto def. Kohei Sato (c)

Hey Thomas from the past, it’s Thomas from the future! I fell asleep watching this match in real-time, unfortunately, but watching it after the fact, boy do I not blame myself! VOW’s own John Carroll put it best, saying it was “lots of Daichi shrieking in front of a dead crowd and just not very good at all.”

I had been on the #DaichiDefender bandwagon up through most of 2018, his Strong title run was severely underrated, there were some great matches there, with Yasufumi Nakanoue especially. Daichi started to lose me, though, after his poor run in the Carnival though, and after this one, I think he officially lost me. The shrieking was just unbearable. If you think Will Ospreay’s shrieking is bad (and it is sometimes!) you won’t be able to make it through a Daichi match. Aside from that, this just wasn’t good, shame they wasted Kohei Sato, an absolute legend, in this spot. This should have been Takuya winning the belt off of the invader on the big stage in Ryōgoku, but oh well. **

BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Championship 4 Board Giga Ladder Deathmatch
Isami Kodaka (c) def. Yuko Miyamoto

Yankee Two Kenju exploded in the main event of Ryōgoku here. I do wish Takeda, my personal favorite, or Sakuda, my favorite rising star, got the main event spot here over the 37-year-old Miyamoto, but Yuko is a deathmatch legend and frankly, these two deserved the spot in Ryōgoku together given their history. It should be noted that in Ryōgoku, certain weapons are banned like light tubes, so these matches never seem to quite live up to what they could be, although I thought this was pretty great.

They played into the fact that these two are tag partners without beating you over the head with it, and just went out and had a killer match. Isami Kodaka is one of the best wrestlers of the past decade deathmatch or not, and they in some ways these two just went out and had a great match that happened to be a deathmatch. Isami retained in a somewhat surprising result here given he will be off to run an entire promotion by himself next year in BASARA, but him retaining essentially confirms he and the rest of the BASARA roster that shows up in Big Japan (Fuminori Abe, Takumi Tsukamoto, etc.) will likely continue their relationships with the company post-BASARA going independent. This was really good and a nice cap to an up-and-down show. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

This was a rollercoaster of a show, there was some good, some bad, some really good and some really bad. Make sure you check out the NXT Japan offer match, sorry, Daisuke Sekimoto’s 20th-anniversary match, it’s must-watch stuff. The main event was also great along with a couple of other tags, so it’s impossible to call this a bad show even if much of the undercard was suspect and the semi-main was dull.

Big Japan drew around 3,200 fans to the show, about in line with their 2016 and 2017 numbers, and just below their 2018 number, which came at the end of Masashi Takeda’s red hot title reign that won him the Wrestling Omakase Wrestler of the Year award in 2018. This show probably wasn’t as good top to bottom as that 2018 version of Ryōgokytan, but with a MOTYC and a great main event, its certainly worth checking out, at least in parts.