BJW draws 3,216 fans to Sumo Hall for Ryogokutan 2019. The death, strong and junior titles are all on the line along with a special appearance from WWE UK Champion, WALTER. He will tag alongside Daisuke Sekimoto to take on the team of Yuji Okabayashi & Yuji Hino. Let’s get started!
Kazuki Hashimoto, Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue def. Akira Hyodo, Takuho Kato & Yuki Ishikawa @ 8:53 – **1/4
The standard young BJ versus veterans opener. Hyodo debuted new gear; a shiny singlet with a flame design. I’ll need some time to adjust to that look. Aside from the forever solid Nakanoue, the match stealing performance came from Kato. He hit a nice fallaway slam and bridging suplex before eating a series of lariats that would end up finishing him. Big ups to Kato for lifting his leg like he was about to kick out on the finish. That’s such an underrated spot and it always adds to the disappointment of watching your guy fall.
Abdullah Kobayashi, Drew Parker, Hideki Suzuki, Orca Uto & Shinobu def. Great Kojika, Kankuro Hoshino, Brahman Kei, Brahman Shu & The Great Sasuke @ 6:26 – *3/4
The standard goofy BJW comedy match. Everyone did their thing. Hoshino was dogpiled, Parker and Shinobu hit a simultaneous dives, Kobayashi picked up the win to set up for his title challenge and Kojika stomped off upset.
Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura def. Kazumi Kikuta & Ryuichi Kawakami @ 11:30 – **1/4
The AJPW representation of the night comes from Lee and Nomura, continuing the Lee and Kikuta rivalry from the summer that saw the two feuding over the All Asia tag titles. Kikuta and Kawakami are a team I always wrongfully write off due to their look. Visually, the two look like dorks together but they never have a bad performance. They were the highlights of the match with their stiff and precise strikes while Lee sucked all life out of the match and Nomura wasn’t in the ring long enough to matter. If they added more Nomura and got rid of Lee the match would’ve been better. Kikuta and Kawakami tried but there’s only so much they could do.
El Lindaman, Shigehiro Irie & T-Hawk def. Fuminori Abe, Hideyoshi Kamitani & Takuya Nomura @ 9:16 – ***1/2
All six of these guys have the magic in them. Strong Hearts are such a well oiled machine. Irie was a great addition to what was already a killer group. On the BJW side you’d be hard-pressed to find a better class of guys. Lindaman’s ability to be the smallest man yet find a way to make you hate him in special. Big explosive moves, huge strikes and at a breakneck speed. Kamitani getting hoisted for a nasty German suplex from Lindaman was just one of the sprint’s many highlights.
Irie’s explosion in the final stretch, Abe kicking out at one to fire everyone up, the match worked on several levels. Strong Hearts have brought an excitement for multi-man wrestling you normally only see in Dragon Gate and have been a benefit for every card they’ve been on since they split.
Tack Strip Death Match
Masashi Takeda & Takumi Tsukamoto def. Masaya Takahashi & Rickey Shane Page @ 11:37 – ***
The first death match of the night found the secret of the style: have wrestlers who can actually wrestle and your weapon of choice won’t matter. They decided on putting two dozen tacks into a bunch of strips of wood and attached them to the ropes like they would light tubes. All four of these guys are really solid in standard wrestling matches so the added weapon only enhanced rather than covered up a lack of ability.
Very few are more over than Takeda in BJW. The guy’s reign as BJW Death Match Heavyweight Champion helped put the style back on the map in 2017. I think everyone wants to see him have another reign but a body can only take so much of the main event style. In any case, these guys were able to put together a respectable match despite the so-so weapon.
BJW Junior Heavyweight Championship Four Way Elimination Match
Yuya Aoki (c) def. Kota Sekifuda and TAJIRI and Tatsuhiko Yoshino @ 11:44 – **
The juniors deserved better than to be wrapped up in a story with TAJIRI. The story goes he’s been outsmarting the guy guys into picking up wins. The match started innocent enough with TAJIRI bailing to the outside to let the young guys do their thing while he can pick his spots. He ends up misting the wrong person and gets eliminated via roll up. Completely fine booking to this point.
And then the match goes off the rails.
All of a sudden Sekifuda is breaking up pins despite it being an elimination match. TAJIRI stays at ring side and mists Yoshino right in front of the referee who still counts Sekifuda’s pin. Again, TAJIRI sticks around to mist Aoki but Aoki kicks out. Hashimoto runs in to keep TAJIRI away from the ring and allows Aoki to pick up the win.
This was great any time TAJIRI wasn’t involved the match. The juniors used that time to clearly show they don’t need TAJIRI involved in the title scene. Last year we saw Aoki and Hashimoto steal the show in a straight up wrestling match without the hokey booking. These three can go out there and steal the show on their own. This was just as disappointing as it was expected to be when it was announced.
Daisuke Sekimoto & WALTER def. Yuji Hino & Yuji Okabayashi @ 17:25 – *****
The four best and most charismatic big men in wrestling today. That’s not up for debate. These dudes get it. They’re the physical embodiment of what it means to be professional wrestlers. You see it on full display when Okabayashi goes for a simple chop down of WALTER on the apron but WALTER stays up and enters the ring for an exchange. A moment that small where you go against the grain adds a lot to a match. Everybody had their chance to shine and they each took advantage of their opportunity.
If I had to pick a favorite performance I’d say Okabayashi. Even since making his return at this event last year the guy has been making the most out of every match. You never see a phoned in performance from Okabayashi. He’s pulled out Daichi Hashimoto’s best match of his career, Takuya Nomura’s and Dylan James. That’s just this year. Hino too had a really strong showing. Both he and Okabyashi made the most of their time in the ring with WALTER who was extremely in his element wrestling these fellow behemoths. Th match is an absolute all time classic. Write it in pen, this is the tag match of the year. Now cross out the tag.
Blood & Death History Death Match
Ryuji Ito & Takashi Sasaki def. Jun Kasai & Toshiyuki Sakuda @ 22:16 – ****
A celebration of death match wrestling. Sasaki founded a rival death match promotion called FREEDOMS in 2009 and left for his promotion full time in 2013. Kasai left shortly thereafter to join Sasaki. At last year’s Ryogokutan we saw Kasai return to BJW for the first time in four years. Sasaki reappeared earlier this year and here we are now. Ito has been with BJW since the beginning and Sakuda is an up and comer who had his biggest showcase to date.
Even though he was the main event of the Yokohama show, this was undoubtedly Sakuda’s big showcase. He looked like he may have blown it early on by missing a balcony dive that looked to have really messed him up but these guys refused to have anything less than a stellar celebration of their style. Everything from syringes to metal skewers through the mouth, wooden skewers in the head and piledrivers onto cinderblocks.
Like the strong match before it, these are the most charismatic guys in their division. They are the apex of what the division has to offer. You have guys like Takeda, Kodaka and Miyamoto who you can make a case for but Ito, Sasaki and Kasai are unquestionable legends of the genre and they went the extra mile to give the fans something memorable.
BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship
Daichi Hashimoto def. Kohei Sato (c) @ 19:40 – NR
I won’t lie, I zoned out during the match. I started thinking about how great the BJW Strong division was earlier in the year and used the time to make tweets about Yuji Okabayashi. Daichi coming out to his father’s theme was a touching moment and him beating a man who his father trained is a very cool addition to the story. In execution, I couldn’t be bothered to give the match my attention. I feel bad for Daichi but he just can’t put it all together and is never engaging to watch. Sure, they did Daichi no favors by putting him against Sato but everything good about the match started and ended with the entrance.
BJW Death Match Heavyweight Championship 4 Board Giga Ladder Death Match
Isami Kodaka (c) def. Yuko Miyamoto @ 21:03 – ***3/4
Yankee Two Kenju collide for the BJW death match title for the first time in over five years. Being one of the most popular tag teams in Japan, it’s very rare to see these two face off in singles. This being in Sumo Hall, no light tubes or glass was allowed for the match which forced them to get creative. Luckily, these are two guys who can go in the ring, they just happen to enjoy the death match style. I can understand a complaint that the match lacked blood. This felt more like a hardcore match than a death match but that was fine.
These two can really go in the ring. They brought out the heavy strikes, took to the sky with vertical suplxes, moonsaults and knee drops off a fifteen foot ladder. The match went hard and a point was proved that these guys are much more than the style. Them celebrating afterwards by kicking Kobayashi to the curb was a fun way to close out the show.
There was plenty of good on the card but it was scattered throughout. The first being the Strong Hearts match. Those guys have their act down and they were up against some of BJW’s most exciting young talent so it was a fun combination to watch. The Sekimoto tag was an absolute show stealer. Four charismatic big men who left it all out there and produced a classic in the process.
I thought the missed dive by Sakuda would kill the match but nothing could stop the legends from making the statement they set out to make. A very gross match in all the ways you want out of a BJW show. Despite being the main event, Kodaka versus Miyamoto wasn’t gross at all. They took a lot of high risks but didn’t feel like a traditional blood and guts death match. That was fine as it helped the other death match stand out.
The show being inconsistent is what I’ve grown to expect from BJW. The matches that were bad I expected to be bad and the matches I thought would be good were and in some cases overdelivered. Two good matches from each style the promotion offers results in a thumbs up show as far as I’m concerned.
Sekimoto & WALTER vs Okabayashi & Hino
Ito & Sasaki vs Kasai & Sakuda
Isami Kodaka vs Yuko Miyamoto
Irie, Lindaman & T-Hawk vs Nomura, Kamitani & Abe
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