PRO WRESTLING FREEDOMS
YOKOHAMA RUSH 2023
AUGUST 11, 2023
YOKOHAMA BUDOKAN
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW WORLD

FREEDOMS’ biggest show of the year was broadcasted live on NJPW World as a pay-per-view and boy, the show had amazing video quality. I’m super happy for the company that they got so many eyeballs on the product due to being on New Japan’s streaming service, let’s see what they presented to the world.

GENTARO, MAMMOTH SASAKI & REKKA DEF. E.R.E (KYU MOGAMI, TOSHIYUKI SAKUDA & VIOLENTO JACK)

I love this E.R.E trio, man. You’ve got Jack as a steamroller, Sakuda for funny small guy/big guy moments, and Mogami with his “I don’t give a f–” attitude with his hands in his pants. They created a couple of funny moments in this match such as when they tried to attack Mammoth, when he sat on the turnbuckle, with a trios attack. When Sakuda attacked Mammoth with a chair behind the back of the ref, the latter turned the momentum around and hit Sakuda with a chair and pinned him after a big lariat and the 29-Years-Old. Fun little opener. ***

YUYA SUSUMU DEF. DOBUNEZUMI FUKKI 

This was some sort of a weird matchup when two heels squared off. Fukki came out with a Hanshin Tigers-related mask and jersey, but this was the only real highlight of him. Susumu, who returned in February after a short span with NOAH, attacked Fukki with some young boys outside. Back inside it became a little hardcore-ish match when Fukki’s shopping venture, some beer cans, a PlayStation 1, and a doll came into play. When Fukki wanted to hit a keyboard on Susumu, the ref intervened and Susumu used this opening to kick Fukki in the nuts to pin him after a DDT. **3/4

BAREFOOT TOY BLOCK DEATHMATCH
TAKAYUKI UEKI DEF. MINORU FUJITA 

The two maniacs had some mat wrestling on the toy blocks and cry out in pain with every step they took. Absolute two pros who teased every bump on the blocks as they got killed. Typical for them they had also funny moments like when Ueki came to a gunfight with a knife, or should I say with a small “Lego” shovel while Fujita took out a Singapore Cane. Ueki won this “brutal” fight after he put down with a Taiho Jutsu Hold for three. ***1/4

KOHEI KEIKO SHIPPUDOTO DEATHMATCH
DAIJU WAKAMATSU, KAZUMI KIKUTA & YUKI ISHIKAWA DEF. DAISUKE MASAOKA, TAKASHI SASAKI & YUSAKU ITO

This has been BJW’s New Generation versus FREEDOMS written all over it, although Wakamatsu on the Big Japan and Ito on the FREEDOMS side aren’t full-time wrestlers for the respective promotion. And I have to say I loved the energy between all six of them, though! When Wakamatsu ate these unprotected chairshots by Masaoka I shrugged on my chair, jesus this was insane stuff. In every corner of the ring something happened which was very cool. Team Big Japan was on the edge to end the match pretty fast, but FREEDOMS came back with a restless Takashi Sasaki, who was super motivated. Yusaku Ito and BJW Deathmatch Champ Yuki Ishikawa fought in the finishing sequence where Ito kicked out at one just to be beaten by Ishikawa seconds later. ***3/4

HIROMU TAKAHASHI & TATSUHITO TAKAIWA DEF. DRAGON LIBRE & TAKAHIRO KATORI

It was time for New Japan’s big junior star Hiromu Takashi to step in the ring alongside former NJPW junior Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Libre and Hiromu started the match with some strikes and a chop battle, Katori tried to interfere twice, but Takahashi fought him off and focussed again on Libre. This was fun to watch, Hiromu as the big outside star with more power, with more… everything while Libre got the support from the crowd and even Takashi Sasaki came to the ring to push Dragon Libre even more. Libre was nearly down, his chop got weaker but Takahashi wanted even more. Hiromu wanted to tag in Takaiwa and it happened with an applause of the crowd, this was cool. Hiromu was so desperated to show that Shin-Nihon and himself are so superior than FREEDMONS and Libre. And, of course, the conclusion of the match needed to be between Libre and Hiromu with an Katori involvement, Takaiwa fought both opponents off with a death valley driver while Hiromu finally pinned Dragon Libre. ***3/4

KING OF FREEDOM WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
JUN MASAOKA (c) DEF. KENGO (16:50)

The story of the match is something very common in pro-wrestling: The “former” champion (although it was the old Jr. Title) got injured, had to vacate the title and the new champ is a young punk who doesn’t give a damn about anyone. I hate to say it, but this was …. a match. This was solid work of two junior heavyweights, but nothing really stood out, and it was given a time of sixteen minutes, so they had some time to show something more interesting. ***

THUMBTACK BOARD & RAZER CROSS BOARD ALPHA DEATHMATCH
EL DESPERADO & JUN KASAI DEF. MASASHI TAKEDA & RINA YAMASHITA

The dream team of El Desperado and Jun Kasai teamed together again after their fight with Moxley and Homicide, this time they took on Takeda and GCW Ultraviolent Champ Rina Yamashita. The crowd went nuts for nearly everything these four did and it’s insane how good Despy and Kasai are as a team. Despy was the first one to get thrown into something, here it were thumbtacks, and the over 1,000 people at the Yokohama Budokan celebrated each and every deathmatch-ish stuff happening.

There were Takeda’s typical scissors, they were thumbtacks, skewers and many more. The energy between all combatants were crisp and made the match insanely good and fun to watch. It was a back and forth fight, the interactions Desperado had with Masashi Takeda were so intensive that someone who only knew Despy from New Japan could be shocked as hell about his performance. The finishing sequence were breathtaking when Rina and Takeda almost pinned Kasai after a jumb from the buckle with a barbed wire chair, just seconds later Takeda kicked Kasai to the chest while a board with opened cans stand next to him. Kasai came back with a Pearl Harbor Splash on Takeda, but Yamashita rescued her partner. Takeda kicked out of a Tiger Destroyer at one and two and finally got pinned after the Cross-Arm Stimulation on an empty can board. ****1/4

KING OF FREEDOM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
TORU SUGIURA DEF. TOMOYA HIRATA (c) 

Oh man, this match was the perfect story of the two former tag champs, breaking up and the younger and least experienced guy won the title. So what could possibly go wrong? It had all the tools of the strong style festival but it ended in a disaster for Tomoya Hirata. The champ was outside of the ring, Sugiura jumped from the turnbuckle to the outside and Hirata felt and you could only see him holding his ankle. It seemed like he broke his ankle, what a shame, what a shame ending to this show.

Sugiura was handed the title, he became champion again and the worst thing was that you could Hirata scream in pain in the background. Sugiura spoke to the crowd that he not rightfully won the title but he will defend and keep it until Hirata is coming back. NR

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is such a shame. The show was pretty good, what a fun show with good matches and then you had an ending like this. It could have been one of the best shows in the history of the promotion, with a bigger crowd than last year’s Yokohama Budokan show as well. I hope Hirata will come back and that his injury will heal as soon as possible.

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