“Hope rises like a Phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams.”- S.A. Sachs
This quote can be relevant to many things about this show. It could be said of Masked Mystery’s defiance of the Tonpachi Machineguns, running through the shattered past of his darker days one member at a time until he extinguishes those fiery demons. It can be said of Michio Kageyama, abandoning his normal character for a Mr. Gannosuke clone that has gotten him much success so far and possibly in the hunt for a title. But most importantly, this quote really takes on a double meaning for the one Mr. Gannosuke himself on this show. See, this was one of the first shows Gannosuke had done after the terribly untimely death of not just one of his co-workers, not just one of the greatest Japanese wrestlers of all time, but his dear friend since college and the FMW dojo in the early 90s Hayabusa. Hayabusa was the Phoenix. He defied all that was possible, living for 15 years after the horrific in-ring accident that left him unable to walk for years, until he finally managed to walk to the ring unassisted in front of many tearful, emotional fans including Gannosuke himself. Gannosuke’s match on this show with Tatsuhiko Yoshino became not just simply who will headline Korakuen against champion Daisuke, but will Gannosuke rise from the ashes in this tough period of time to win for his fallen friend? Wrestling is incredible because you truly can’t write the best stuff that happens in it sometimes. This is one of those times.
Great to see the trend of DNA/young DDT guys working the young boys of GUTS is continuing, this time with DDT 6 man tag champ Kouki Iwasaki coming over for some fun. For awhile, this was the CUT HIM OFF-fest hosted by Iwasaki. Enjoyed the structure of Otani getting in bursts of offense only to be slowed right down by Iwasaki. One thing in this match that bugged me a bit was how long Otani took to hit a missile dropkick from the top rope. Iwasaki was just standing there, looking at him for a good 5 seconds while he set his feet to do it. That always looks so unrealistic to me, why would you just stand there and not move if you’ve gotten up already? My one negative with this as the rest was super fun albeit short; Otani does these flash pin segments so well and making people believe he could score the upset at any given time. These two had a brutal chop/kick trade off that Iwasaki got the better of, and he blasted the young boy with a PK and then locked the Liontamer in for the submission. Pretty much everything here was rock solid, not quite the opener Otani had with Nakatsu on the previous show but still nothing to be ashamed of.
So I have a sort of beef with GUTS. Drake has definitely become their circus act wrestler. What I mean is that she is put in there with ridiculous gimmick characters with not much emphasis on good wrestling as of late, and it’s disappointing in a way as I think Drake is a very talented lady and this is almost a slap in the face of sorts. Regardless, I can’t help but laugh at ASUKAMA. Asuka is over in America making a heck of a living as NXT Women’s champion at Full Sail University. ASUKAMA on the other hand, is male wrestler Taro Yamada dressed in Asuka gear in front of 150 fans in Shinkiba. Fun fact, Yamada actually tagged with/wrestled Asuka/Kana in this gimmick in indies such as 666 so it definitely has her seal of approval in case anyone thought this was disrespectful in any way. This was actually hilarious. I’m not properly rating this but damn it I laughed and I laughed hard. Taro…I mean ASUKAMA had Asuka’s mannerisms down so well it was honestly scary. From the way she moves, to the kicks, leg lock, the flying hip attack, the rolling arm bar, Asuka Lock, etc. it was all perfect. Drake was a good foil to the ridiculous tribute act, as she tortured ASUKAMA by ripping off her wig, smacking her in the butt with a chair to take away the hip attack and finally finished ASUKAMA with a Drake Driver. Yamada trying to do moves while the wig was falling off all over the place had me in stitches, if you’re a big Asuka/Kana fan I highly recommend this if you want a good laugh and have a sense of humor at all.
Kageyama looks to keep the winning streak going as the Gannosuke clone, and he’s now teaming with Guts himself. The Tonpachi squad may have some problems here. They know this so in typical Tonpachi fashion, they jump Guts and Kageyama at the bell. This devolved into a messy outside brawl but then turned into a crazy tag team sprint. Upin and Orihara worked super well together, doling out a lot of their punishment in cohesive double team maneuvers while Guts and Kageyama acted more like two individuals. Upin makes up for his lack of size with a big heart and nasty kicks and I thought he might have been the best worker in this fast paced environment that suited him well. Guts provided a lot of power offense as a hot tag and Kageyama is as hard hitting as it gets, nailing Upin with a kick to break up a pin that made a loud cracking sound off of Upin’s head. Upin felled one attempt at a sit out bomb from Guts with a roll up pin reversal, but Ryan was not as lucky the second time. This was super short but very quickly paced and exciting for the time. Lots of fun double team stuff from the Tonpachi squad and impressive showing from Kageyama again. Only gripe I have with this is Kageyama should have scored the pin if they want him to keep looking strong, but it isn’t too big a deal. Orihara was noticeably protected as the leader of the stable. Kageyama and GUTS will be involved in the 3 way tag title match at Korakuen Hall!
Mystery can start crossing off the second to last name on his Tonpachi Machineguns hit list. He’s expelling all those past demons, and Amigo Suzuki is next in line. This was below average, just not worked at an exciting pace and not too long and not too short. I did like how Amigo had the chokeslam of Mystery scouted multiple times, one time even reversing it into an armbar, to show he knew how Mystery took out Upin with it on the last show. Amigo controlled for a bit after suplexing Mystery on the outside, but the Masked one finally gained that caboose-like momentum he’s become known for and was at least much smoother in this match than the one in February where he was botching a ton. He finally hit that chokeslam to cross Amigo’s name off his list after a Rainmaker pull-back motion. Skippable match. The post match saw Orihara and Upin jump Mystery with a chair, it’s on! Mystery officially calls out the leader of the Machineguns Orihara and the grudge match happens in Korakuen in May!
The GWC champ Daisuke and the GWC tag team champs Shota and Arai are getting a night off in terms of title defenses, but not in terms of a hefty challenge. The tag champs lost, and then regained their titles from Keizo and Kito. But this time, the IWA fellas came with some legit backup in Buffalo. Buffalo literally started talking trash into the mic to Daisuke before this even started, setting up what looks to be a title match for April 24th! The main story of the match was Daisuke trying to get at Buffalo, but Buffalo just kept on avoiding him, bantering him and hiding behind the IWA guys. He wanted Daisuke to be #GottenTo and he was doing a damn fine job of it. The tag teams here were mostly backdrop for the rising issue between Daisuke and Buffalo and it was wonderful. The fans went nuts when Daisuke finally was able to tussle with Buffalo and boy were these two fired up. They put on a hell of a showing together and Buffalo was made to look like a legitimate threat, often countering Daisuke and just knowing what Daisuke was thinking at every turn. He even kicked out at one on a Daisuke splash, and ducked an initial Sliding D, but the incredibly crafty Daisuke spun back out and hit the rising Buffalo with another Sliding D that connected. They’re going to have a killer title match on the 24th, I tell ya. The finish was super smart too, Shota was dominating Keizo, and went to shoot him off the ropes and went for a rollup, but what he didn’t realize was KITO got the blind tag and therefore rolled up Shota out of the rollup attempt on KITO’s partner and the IWA Army were victorious! This means they are going to be part of that 3 way tag title match in Korakuen which will see Shota/Arai defend against the IWA Army and Kageyama/Guts Ishijima. Should be chaotic. This was a great story setup match and did its job setting up two programs, one for a pre Korakuen bridge defense for Daisuke and one for Korakuen itself.
This has huge ramifications. GUTS World guys don’t often get the opportunity to showcase their stuff in a place like Korakuen Hall. Indie darling Yoshino indeed has that chance to headline Korakuen and challenge for the title once again…IF he can beat a man who has been to Korakuen many times in his career, Mr. Gannosuke. Yoshino knows the stakes; he jumps Ganno before he even gets his jacket off, and even hit a tope con hilo within the first minute! These boys are FIRED UP. A great touch to this was Daisuke was on commentary, to see who he possibly would face at Korakuen (that is if he gets past Buffalo on 4/24). Yoshino was absolutely dominating Gannosuke at the onset. This early dominance just infuriated Ganno though, and he started getting the upper hand and brutalizing Yoshino (especially when he finally got his ring jacket off like 5 minutes in). A good focus of Gannosuke’s attack was Yoshino’s back, using multiple submissions, power slams and soccer ball kicks to soften him up. Yoshino opened it back up with his famed missile dropkick and then gave Gannosuke some of his own grapplefuck medicine! Gannosuke though fought his way back into control, and then did a Falcon Arrow whilst screaming “Hayabusa!” in tribute to his friend. So awesome. Gannosuke kicking out of two German suplexes was astonishing and made him look like a beast. He’s such a genius as a worker too. He tried to to Dragon suplex Yoshino who was having none of it, so to weaken him, he just turns it into a seated full nelson, then gets back up and Dragon suplxes him. Brilliant. The ending was very well done. Yoshino missed a 450 splash, and Gannosuke took advantage and hit the powerbomb on Yoshino, and I for sure thought that was the finish until Yoshino powered out at one. When the one count kickout is done right, it’s so good. Ganno finally finished off the amazing challenger with a fire thunder driver and your new #1 contender and main eventing Korakuen Hall, Mr. Gannosuke. A damn good main event, both guys were on fire and at the top of their game with a ton on the line, and they made it feel that way. Hayabusa is smiling up there.
Hey guess what! Guts World is being SUPER cool and put this match on their official YouTube in high quality video, check it out HERE! Hopefully this is a continuing trend for them!
Gannosuke delivered an emotional speech after his successful win. Gannosuke called Daisuke into the ring and basically told him he’s gunning for the belt, all signs point to Daisuke (obviously) retaining against Buffalo. But, the best part here was Ganno calling Guts and Kageyama in the ring, and a Hayabusa t-shirt and an 8×10 of him was brought in as well. Gannosuke gave what seemed to be a beautiful tribute to his passed friend and even said he wished he was there to see Gannosuke beat Yoshino. Those aren’t tears in my eyes, it’s just allergies, I swear. Seriously though, what a fitting tribute to a guy that defined a whole new era of wrestler and and even better person.
A solid show, albeit you could probably skip undercard stuff if you really don’t care for the stories in GUTS. Although if you enjoy DDT/DNA I’m sure you would like to see Iwasaki in the opener. What you should be here for are the final two matches; the 6 man tag setup a ton of stuff for Korakuen/before Korakuen and showcased how good Daisuke and Buffalo will be. The main event rocked, with an emotional Gannosuke fittingly coming out on top. The 4/24 Shinjuku Face show looks pretty damn awesome itself; the main event as discussed is Daisuke/Buffalo for the title but we are also getting Minoru Tanaka vs. Tatsuhiko Yoshino, and even KAI is showing up to tag with Shota and Arai against Gannosuke/Guts/Kageyama. And 5/8 Korakuen now has some big matches: Masked Mystery vs. Masao Orihara in a big grudge match, Yoshino vs. HUB in a really cool special singles match, Kageyama/Guts vs. KITO/Matsuda vs. Shota/Arai for the tag belts, and finally Gannosuke vs. either Daisuke or Buffalo in the main event for the GWC title! GUTS is gaining a lot of momentum, you should hop right on the bandwagon.