Hey guys, Lawrence back here once again reviewing your puro needs. This time we take on BJW’s latest bigger scale show, Death Vegas 2015. Two big matches headline this one: Twin Towers (Sato and Ishikawa) teaming up against Sekimoto and Suwama, in his 2nd ever BJW appearance and Okabayashi defending the Strong title against young up and coming Strong ace Hideyoshi Kamitani.
What a cool looking opener. BJW young boy Kikuta teams up with AJPW young boy Nomura (who got this spot to shine when Koji Kanemoto had to pull out of this after an injury at Zero-1) with grumpy vet Takaiwa against the Hashi boys and one of my favorites in GUTS World Tatsuhiko Yoshino. Nomura is a good talent, but like our recently passed AJPW expert Andy Doran said, what the hell are you doing with the hair dye son? He must have got ribbed by the boys in that “it’ll make you stand out more” or something. This match was a fine opener, but man did it feel way longer than it should have been. Just a lot of work over segments at the start that dragged on and easily 5 minutes could have been shaved off the match and it would have had the same or even better effect. Really picked up the pace near the end, seeing Yoshino absolutely screw up a dive to the outside where he went too short landed straight onto his back and then K-Hash and Kikuta kicking each others’ ass in the ring. Kikuta got one of his deadly kicks reversed into a kneebar by K-Hash and he had no choice but to tap. Was hoping for more from this one to be honest, but worth a watch for the action that picks up near the tail end.
This is certainly a change of pace in BJW. All Joshi wrestlers in this one, really cool. Forgive me on pinpointing out specific people as my joshi scene knowledge is nearly not up to par as my counterpart here Dan or a Kevin from Purocentral. What a fun, lengthy match this was for the slot it was in on the card. The ladies got time and they delivered and got me invested with everyone giving effort all over the place. The standouts to me were Ice Ribbon’s International tag champs Fujimoto and Nakajima though. They work incredibly well together, one of those teams where everything they do feels so connected and part of a team, instead of individuals trying to do moves together. Yuuka having a try as she might battle with those two to the very end was great, and even reversed Fujimoto’s straight jacket electric chair drop into a victory roll which was awesome. A hectic final few minutes came to a close by Fujimoto hitting that Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex on Yuuka finally after some destructive penalty kicks softened her up. Definitely check this one out, everyone in this match came to play and shine.
Always gotta have the Kojika match. I never really mind it as Kojika usually outclasses people in these matches even at age 73. Hoshino and Inaba are good fun as his two muscle men as well. Really like the amount of women brought in for this show by Kojika; Ozaki is one of the best joshi wrestlers to ever do it and Risa Sera is an up and comer in Ice Ribbon. You know what you’re getting with something like this; a light hearted affair with Kojika getting his ass beat for awhile and then going off on the youngsters while Shinobu goes pantsless and does insane acrobatics throughout the match. Add in Ozaki just beating people up, including choking out Kojika with her chain and you had a match with some semi interesting, mildly entertaining moments. Sera was quite impressive with the limited ability she got to show, more of her and Ozaki as an old gen/new gen matchup would have been neat. Inaba ended up winning with an odd rollup on Takahashi to cap off a fan friendly undercard match.
There’s really no escape from the Brahmans in modern day puroresu, huh? I don’t really despise them, more that they just seem to be EVERYWHERE and they pretty much give you the same shtick every match. And I really enjoy Speed of Sounds (Osugi/Senga) but they are unfortunately forever stuck in this spot like Shinobu as undercard daredevil acts that play to comedy guys like Brahmans and Ueki. Meanwhile, Sakuda attempted to shine through all the water bucket use, fan jackets being used as water shields, bowling balls, etc. Your usual Brahman affair. Ueki brought out the shotgun for the big event and held everyone up, including the audience. Probably the best part of all of this wacky stuff. Osugi ended up winning with a brutal spike DDT to Ueki. Let me clarify this though, I do think the Brahmans are one of those “you have to be there in person to really enjoy the experience and feel involved” sort of deals because they sure do the fan participation thing great. It just doesn’t translate well to TV for me when there’s a million camera cuts to all the different things they’re doing all over the venue. Just too much for me and the act can get old quickly. I’m no fun I guess.
Oh boy, time for my least favorite part of the show. I have utmost respect for the lads who put themselves through deathmatches but it just isn’t for me whatsoever. I tried very hard to look at this match objectively but God was it a stinker. It’s matches like this that make me reconsider this whole reviewing full shows gig sometimes because there’s just some things as a fan you won’t ever like at all, and these light tube matches are certainly one of them for me. Especially when you add a chain to each guy’s arm, restricting their movement (even more restricted than just Abdullah being himself). So many pointless light tube spots with ZERO, and I mean ZILCH heat. The crowd gave no shits, and neither did I. And I actually like both of these guys oddly enough. Abby is a genuinely funny dude and at least makes these garbage matches he wrestles in a bit entertaining with his copycat NJPW theatrics and the like. FUJITA ain’t terrible either. But put them in this completely restrictive environment, and you have just another run of the mill, ho hum formulaic deathmatch that sucks air out of the show. Abby ended up winning with a Boston Crab, really all you need to know.
As if one of these isn’t enough. Genuinely have little hope that even Yankee Two Kenju and Tsukamoto/Takeda can save this one. Believe it or not, this was more than watchable though. This is because they centered the match around the four men I mentioned who made this into a fun, fast paced creative tag team match that didn’t go incredibly overboard with the deathmatch violence. They actually used light tubes in creative ways in conjunction with chairs, a bedazzled ladder made an appearance and Tsukamoto’s tin mallet came into play as per usual. Meanwhile, we didn’t have to sit through a ton of Ito and Numazawa crap which is the cherry on top of the sundae. Of course, Ito ended up winning after not only superplexing Tsukamoto onto 3 sideways folded chairs, but then frog splashing said chairs into his sternum. Yankee Two Kenju can have a good match in any environment they are placed in. Isami is an absolute firecracker and Yuko is one of the most underrated and flexible performers out there today. Takeda and Tsukamoto were also very good here and it’s good to hear that Tsukamoto joined up with Isami’s new BASARA promotion where hopefully he’s utilized in a much better fashion.
My man Hideki seems to have taken to BJW rookie Uto and has been his partner in many of his affairs in BJW since Suzuki joined on with Dai Nihon a few months ago. Hama and Hideki had a halfway decent title match in W-1 so the interactions between them should be fun. A very fun match. Hama continues to grow on me with every match, he’s just too lovable and has natural charisma. Plus he pulled out a running flying crossbody out of nowhere on Hideki, what a God. Uto looked impressive, he’s certainly improving and his lanky body certainly makes him stand out a bit. Hideki stretching people out is always a good time as well. Maruyama looked actually motivated and turned in a solid performance, the journeyman has a history of underperforming/disappearing in these tag scenarios but came out firing kicks and pulled out a nice dive. Hama ended up squashing poor Uto with a Banzai Drop and that was that.
Suwama makes good on his positive words for BJW at the Tenryu retirement show and comes in for his second ever appearance in the promotion, going right in there with the big boys of BJW. Unsurprisingly, Sekimoto shouldered the load in this one. Suwama was good for coming in hot with his crazy array of suplexes on the big fellas and some chops, but he definitely was kept away from a ton of action. Understandable as they probably want to ease him in if they plan on bringing him back for more appearances soon. Because of that though, this match was kinda sucked dry of any real intensity even though Sekimoto was basically wrestling a glorified handicap match and doing well. The match was very good, don’t get me wrong but it just wasn’t filled with a whole lot of emotion or rhyme or reason. It felt more like “Oh wow, Suwama is here in BJW, that’s neat!” and then nothing else was really going for the match. Twin Towers did their usual great mugging their opponents act with Sekimoto taking the punishment great as usual. The finish seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere as the match was really starting to build up to something better; Sekimoto stormed back against Ishikawa with some lariats…and then hit the deadlift German to end it. Very anti-climactic and the crowd sure felt it too.
Here we go. 23 year old rising Strong star Kamitani has gotten some pins over champion Okabayashi in the recent months in tag affairs. Great way to make the kid look strong coming into this one and this has the makings of an intense title affair. Kamitani had his previous crack at the title when he faced former champ Sekimoto earlier this year, but came up short so he’s bound to be hungry. Okabayashi has helped train him in the process (as with some of the other strong division talent) which adds yet another layer to this one. Very interesting how they started this one off as a Wrestling 101, fundamentally based match that was going back and forth, setting both guys on a level playing field. Kamitani controlled a bunch with a side headlock in the beginning, which is something to remember for later on. This kinda dragged on a bit longer than it should have probably, but it’s a title match on a big show so I get the length and the structure. Eventually, Kamitani made the big mistake of slapping his mentor a few times which sent this one into second gear and they were off to the races with a damn fine title match that got the crowd back into the show. Here’s a great thing they did: Okabayashi puts Kamitani in a torture rack, and what does Kamitani counter it with? The side headlock he was grounding Okabayashi with early on in the match. God bless these gentlemen for making a simple side headlock resthold a callback spot that had continuity and meaning. Just incredibly fascinating to me. It was the “SO CLOSE” moments for Kamitani that really made this one good. After Okabayashi missed the Golem Splash, Kamitani went right for a few rollup attempts and enziguiris because he saw the opening. He hit that brutal backdrop suplex that took down Okabayashi twice before in tag affairs, but Okabayashi powered out of the pin at two. Kamitani went for it again, but Okabayashi somehow kept himself grounded while the captive audience was enthralled with the possibility. Kamitani AGAIN went for it, and Yuji pulled out a remarkable mid-air crossbody to reverse the backdrop suplex. The final stretch of the match was absolutely money. Okabayashi nailed his protege with an absolutely overpowering lariat and Kamitani fired out of the pin at one, then took another lariat for a two count. The kid was going to go down fighting, and he did as he was finally put to rest with the Golem Bomb. This may not have been the best BJW Strong title match this year, but it was great. It was great more in the sense of being the match that truly put Kamitani on the same playing field as guys like Sekimoto and Okabayashi. The young star has grown into his own this year and turned up his angry side because in reality, he’s a very charming looking kid and having an edge helps him a ton in this division filled with brutes and badasses. ****1/4
Unfortunately as a whole show, this was not one of BJW’s finest efforts. A lot of middling matches that really did not have much crowd investment or intensity. Suwama’s appearance was neat, but you’re left wanting more from it. That could be a good or bad thing depending how much they have him come back. The joshi feature match was an incredibly pleasant surprise and may just have been my second favorite match of the show. Of course, the main event was awesome to no surprise and was a star making performance for Hideyoshi Kamitani even in a loss.