Guess who’s back? Back again? GUTS is back, tell your indie-loving friends. In all seriousness, it’s good to be back and watching more GUTS. This show from February seems more geared regarding buildup to the big Korakuen Hall show in May, but there could be some surprises. There are two big title matches. The first is the tag title rematch of the new champs IWA Army defending against Shota and Kenichiro Arai who want their titles back. The second is Daisuke defending his GWC title against Masao Orihara in the main event, a match made when Orihara pinned Daisuke in a multi-man tag match. Can Daisuke fend off the ring leader of the Tonpachi Machine Guns?
Well, this is a pleasant surprise! Nakatsu makes his way over from BASARA/DDT/DNA and shows up to face GUTS young boy Otani. I think very highly of Nakatsu and his MMA background. What a HELL of an opener these guys worked, this was legit an awesome sub 10-minute match. Nakatsu came out like a dangerous predator, absolutely destroying Otani’s arm after some really good grappling on the mat to start. Furious kicks peppered Otani’s arm, and he had to go into wounded animal mode. Otani raged back with one arm, using his stiff forearms and chops to buckle Nakatsu. Otani has gotten MILES better since I last saw him. He was so much fun to watch here, especially facing a fellow guy with not many years in the business. Two young guys looking to stand out and steal the show and they did. Nakatsu felled off a ton of flash pins from Otani after Otani reversed an arm bar into a roll up attempt. Finally, Nakatsu pulled off this crazy sequence at the end that he somehow turned into armbar that he pulled back on Pentagon Jr style for the win. Highly recommended opener.
Papakemi Beppin. Yes, you read that correctly. What an interesting looking person. I say, person, as I am completely unaware of the gender. Wearing some weird crop top and tights combo with a mask and blonde wig combo. It seems like it would be Masked Mystery’s significant other in the kayfabe world. Or sibling. I don’t know what’s happening anymore. All I know is that this was one of the worst matches I’ve seen in some time. It was a poor attempt at a comedy match. Beppin clearly would end up sounding more and more manly, and Drake worked over the bra straps at one point. Beppin’s awful sounding attempts at feminine yelps throughout this were grating and intelligence insulting. There was barely wrestling happening, usually holds that went nowhere with Beppin being a fool, getting kicked in the lower regions further exposing the real gender, and Drake just tossing them into the Shinkiba chairs and using the patented baseball bat. Drake mercifully ended this close to FIFTEEN minute trainwreck with the Drake Driver. Not only was this not good, this nonsense dragged on for 15 minutes, and there is no excuse for something that bad to be stretched out that much. Just not good stuff, GUTS, not good at all. Drake deserves better than some sideshow act as an opponent.
The story of Tonpachi Machine Guns being like jaded ex-lovers towards Masked Mystery who went off and made a better situation for himself continues. This was a pretty decent tag match and was ramping up in the final minutes, leading to some unfortunate messiness in the final segments of it. The match started with some brawling in the bleachers of Shinkiba, the Machine Guns muddying it up to gain an advantage like they do best. They worked Mystery over for awhile until Matsuzaki got a hot tag and started cleaning house. Enjoyed a lot of Upin and Amigo’s double team offense, they were smooth and in sync and Upin can fly around the ring. Unfortunately, things got messy when Masked Mystery tried a SPRINGBOARD move and completely lost balance and fell, looking very dumb in the process. Bless that big masked idiot. Leave the flying stuff to the junior geeks man. He hit a pretty terrible looking elbow drop from the top rope to “make up” for that, and then even Amigo couldn’t do the spot to try and send Matsuzaki out of the ring correctly. One of those situations where one error compounds and becomes contagious I guess. The finish was, at least, impactful with Mystery hitting Upin with a 96 era Big Show chokeslam that Upin sold as he died on impact. Would rate higher but the work at the end just got all muddled up unfortunately, it happens.
Back to something enjoyable, Michio’s Gannosuke tribute act has reached peak levels and is now lads with GUTS and Ganno. They go against a very fun, skilled team in Yoshino, Yamada, and Shin Suzuki. Yoshino quickly jumped Gannosuke and his team, lead into their upcoming match to determine who faces Daisuke for the title at Korakuen in May! This was so good. The match being centered around Yoshino/Gannosuke obviously makes sense seeing as their big stakes match in March is fast approaching. Ganno squad worked Yoshino over big after Yoshino’s initial burst of offense. It was a well-executed heat segment that wasn’t boring or tedious to sit through, Kageyama teeing off with his brutal kicks on Yoshino was great. Shin Suzuki getting the hot tag and finally knocking Guts down after not being able to chop the big man down at the start of the match was very cool continuity. But he ended up getting turned inside out by a lariat for his brief moment of success. The closing few minutes were great as usual for these GUTS six-man matches; they always break down into some amazing sequences of moves, double/triple teams, and pure chaos. Yamada hit one of the craziest springboard corkscrew moves I have ever seen, something I have never seen done before actually. He was facing towards the outside on the second rope and pretty much corkscrew moonsaulted inside into an elbow drop of some sorts. Gannosuke and his surrogate son along with Guts hit a top rope triple powerbomb on Shin, and the cover got broken up! Kageyama finally made his father proud by finishing Shin with a roundhouse kick. Another great tag match in GUTS that breaks down into madness and very good to see Kageyama getting the push to coincide with the tribute act gimmick.
Revenge. Revenge is what the light-hearted, silly, not afraid to playfully bend the rules a bit former champs Shota and Arai are looking for. If they want their belts back from the IWA intruders, they’re going to have to play even dirtier than usual. Conflicting IWA and Shota chants at the start, this one is already intense! And this certainly was dirty for dirty. Back and forth, both of these teams used every possible cheating trope in the book to try and gain the upper hand. It was in many ways similar to their first match, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I just don’t think I’m a big fan of these very overbooked, cheating vs. cheating types of deals. It just got a little too silly for me, and way too much of it as opposed to the good wrestling these guys can do. The ending was, at least, a good call back. Shota was trying to prevent Arai from using a weapon again like last time, which led to Shota getting rolled up in that last match. It happened again here, but Shota kicked out this time! Arai would throw Shota’s foot on the ropes after a brutal uranage from Matsuda floored him. Like I said, I’ll match your heel trope with another. Finally, Shota’s use of the title belt shot to the head did IWA in, and the titles are back to the GUTS boys. Nothing special at all, I just prefer a little more intensity in my title matches, and this had more of a comedy aura to it with how both teams like to bend the rules.
Daisuke has defended his belt five times successfully up to this point. But some doubt was placed into viewers when Orihara got the upper hand on Daisuke in the most recent multi-man tag they were involved in. Can the ring leader of the Tonpachi Machine Guns bring the title to them? Really solid main event title match, completely different structure than they usually do and it was a welcome change of pace! This was a more aggressive Daisuke, no patented #Grapplefuck on the mat from him here. He took it to Orihara, throwing him into chairs, hitting him hard, etc. The Machine Guns would intervene during this assault and help Orihara gain control. Orihara was solid in this match, does his best with limited athletic ability and even was going for moonsaults and standing flip sentons in this. He was made out to be a tough out, taking 3 Sliding D’s before he was pinned by Daisuke. Loved the callback late in the match where he hit Daisuke with the Spider German Suplex like in that tag match he beat Daisuke in, and went for the kill with a moonsault, missed and was hit with the final 2 Sliding Ds to end his chances at unseating Daisuke. This was a shorter match for their main event slots, usually going over 20 mins while this one went to a shade under 15 minutes. Interesting. Daisuke rolls on and looks strong in doing so.
The next two big matches for the 3/22 show upcoming are the IWA Army (with Buffalo as their third) vs. the tag champs Shota/Arai and Daisuke, and the #1 contenders match Mr. Gannosuke vs. Tatsuhiko Yoshino, winner faces Daisuke for the title at Korakuen Hall on 5/8. Exciting stuff, and a ton will be on the line in that match. It’s not often these dudes get a shot to headline a show in Korakuen Hall, so you bet Yoshino and Gannosuke will be giving it their all for that opportunity. Well, to be fair, Gannosuke has had his share of Korakuen hall showings in his illustrious career but you bet he wants to be back in the main slot. This February show was fine; a decent lead up show with three very fun matches. Nakatsu/Otani was a heck of an opener, awesome to see a DNA guy like Nakatsu work GUTS. The 6 man tag with Gannosuke and his bastard son with Guts Ishijima against Yoshino/Yamada/Shin Suzuki turned into a hell of a tag team sprint, and Orihara/Daisuke was a pretty solid, if not quick filler defense for Daisuke before his big one at Korakuen.