Thursday, March 30, 2017

Check out my contributions to The Wrestling Blog's TWB 100

Every Wrestlemania season The Wrestling Blog counts down the Top 100 wrestlers in the United States. I've participated for three years with my selection of top talents in my viewpoint and this year is no different.

While I had a few picks in the bottom 40, my first pick with words from yours truly comes at #57, as the man I ranked as the second best wrestler of the year makes his appearance. So check out numbers 60 through 41 as the list continues to tick down.

I have a feeling you will find it... delightful.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The monumental importance of Manami Toyota

Manami Toyota is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, even if she barely gets any attention in the internet wrestling community. Even at 46, she is still one of the most accomplished tacticians in the business. When she announced her plan to retire last weekend, the news sadly came to the world with little fanfare, even if those in the know about joshi wrestling know how monumental that announcement truly is. She innovated several moves and her Ocean Cyclone Suplex is still one of the meanest looking moves in professional wrestling, whether it came from her, Al Snow, Rey Mysterio or Elix Skipper.

And of course, she's recognized as the purveyor of more five star matches than any other female wrestler, all despite making her United States wrestling debut in 2010, nearly twenty-four years into her career. She made that debut in Chikara, where she wrestled off and on for two years, putting on matches that perhaps weren't as great as her classic All Japan Women's battles, but were still impressive for a forty year old talent. As far as this writer knows, Chikara remains the only United States promotion where Toyota plied her trade. It seems likely it will remain the only one as well, as it seems unlikely she will make any US appearances elsewhere between now and her retirement on November 3rd.

If you have never watched her wrestle before, you're in luck because many of her five star matches are available on Youtube. Here are a pair of her best to get you started. I'll give the complete list from Meltzer at the bottom of the page.

The list:

  • (1991) with Etsuko Mita vs Aja Kong and Bison Kimura on January 5
  • (1992) with Toshiyo Yamada vs Yumiko Hotta and Suzuka Minami on March 7
  • (1992) vs Kyoko Inoue on April 25
  • (1992) vs Toshiyo Yamada on June 21
  • (1992) vs Toshiyo Yamada (IWA, Hair vs Hair Match) on August 15
  • (1992) with Toshiyo Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai and Mayumi Ozaki on November 26
  • (1993) with Toshiyo Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai and Mayumi Ozaki on April 2
  • (1993) with Toshiyo Yamada vs Dynamite Kansai and Mayumi Ozaki on December 6
  • (1993) with Akira Hokuto vs Toshiyo Yamada and Kyoko Inoue (Tag League, Round Robin) on December 10
  • (1993) with Akira Hokuto vs Toshiyo Yamada and Kyoko Inoue (Tag League, Final) on December 10
  • (1994) with Toshiyo Yamada vs Takako Inoue and Kyoko Inoue on September 10
  • (1994) vs Aja Kong on November 20
  • (1995) vs Kyoko Inoue on May 7
  • (1995) vs Aja Kong on June 27
  • (1995) vs Mima Shimoda on July 23
  • (1995) with Sakie Hasegawa vs. Kyoko Inoue and Takako Inoue on August 30
  • (1995) vs. Akira Hokuto on September 2

Monday, March 13, 2017

How many reboots is this for Impact Wrestling?

Thursday night TNA Impact Wrestling went through yet another of the company's many many reboots. Now firmly under the Anthem regime, they've bled several of their bigger talents due to late contracts, losing Drew Galloway, Mike Bennett, Maria and the Broken Hardys, five individuals that drove much of the storytelling for Impact for the last two years. This left The Wolves, EC3 and Lashley as the credible main eventers in the promotion, although Cody could easily be moved into that role if he was willing to commit to more television time.

This would of course be a great spot to build on existing talent. So the company of course brought in a former WWE star, and one that's damaged goods at best. While Alberto El Patron is certainly capable of great matches, he's not a guy to build a company around. Impact has two men for that role already: the World Champion Lashley and the leader of The DCC and criminally under-utilized talent James Storm. Hope springs a bit with Storm as The DCC seem to be at odds after losing a lackluster tag match to the debuting (and equally lackluster) Reno Scum.

But with a show dominated by arguments between lead announcer Josh Matthews and new third man on commentary Jeremy Borash distracted from the entire program. They do much to ruin a rather pointless X Division match and do more to hurt Rachael Ellering's debut than help her.

The most pushed storyline on the first episode of the new Impact.
Image credit: Impact Wrestling Twitter.
Prolonged chat sessions from Bruce Pritchard and Dutch Mantell don't really help the program get far either, but they did encourage yet more references to WWE programming. I've seen the words WWE mentioned less on episodes of NXT and 205 Live than on this episode of Impact Wrestling.

Dutch has to be the one that thinks Make Impact Great as a slogan is good as well, right? Because only someone that portrayed a racist right winger on television for over a year could think a reference to the current divisive President's campaign slogan is a way to bring in viewers. I can see a good section of the potential audience automatically turned off just by that phrase, never to give the new Impact another chance.

But the women's match was solid as was the main event between the debuting Patron and Lashley, at least up until yet another Dusty finish from a company absolutely obsessed with them. Cody's search for Moose (supposedly in Japan for NOAH despite not having that NOAH match until after the tapings) were superb promo segments, but they were devoted to a part time star prioritizing New Japan over the company.

And the brawl between Richards and Edwards as well as Decay's magic theft of the Broken Hardys' titles were both pure agony.

There's hope in the new Impact Wrestling, but is it an improvement over the last year, where TNA had actually started to solidify a decent project? I'm not so sure. Only the coming weeks will show us for sure.