Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Best Wrestling Matches of 2016 (15-1)

Continuing from yesterday's post, read on as I count down my favorite wrestling matches of the year.

15. Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Naomichi Marufuji
IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW, King of Pro Wrestling, 10/10

Pro Wrestling NOAH was in bad need of a shake-up when it was sold this fall, but the unfortunate side effect of their transfer of ownership was the sudden termination of a buddying invasion storyline with NJPW that had all the potential to boost both companies. As is, this match, a rematch of the pair’s great outing in the G1 tournament, stands as the final word on the aborted crossover. But if that is the case, at least the match itself is great, with Marufuji absolutely demolishing Okada and forcing New Japan’s ace to work as underdog the entire time. Okada takes wild bumps from his opponent, including a piledriver on the apron and a return to the ring to eat a dropkick, that make Marufuji look better in a single match than he has years in NOAH. The energy of this match never flags, even when Okada takes control and slows it down to recover, and in some respects his willingness to bump wildly for another promotion’s talent is a better show of ace-like qualities than his matches with Tanahashi.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Best Wrestling Matches of 2016 (30-16)

When I posted a list of my favorite wrestling matches of the year last December, I had only just gotten into wrestling, converted rapidly by the excellence of NXT’s women’s division and my introduction to New Japan Pro Wrestling. That budding interest exploded in 2016, which was a horrible year in nearly every respect save one: the worldwide quality of wrestling seemed to skyrocket. Even those who’d followed it all their lives said 2016 was special, and new avenues of access to smaller promotions made it easier than ever to keep track of wrestlers all over the globe. Even limiting myself to hyped matches from indies and smaller international companies, I still managed to watch more than 350 matches this year, an outlandish number of which were so good that when I thought about my favorite matches of the year I could rattle off about 70.

But since I do have some sort of life, I decided to write only about my 30 favorite matches. In an attempt to prevent any one performer from dominating the list (looking at you, Chris Hero; be on the lookout for a separate list of his jaw-dropping work this year), I’ve limited the amount of times that a wrestler might appear, especially for matches between the same opponents that may have resulting in multiple year-end contenders. Despite this selective editing, though, everything on this list was as thrilling, innovative, and impactful as what was cut, and the result is that in a list of 30 matches, 15 promotions are showcased. Read on for what can only be a brief overview of one of the greatest years for in-ring action ever.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Unlikely Autobiography of Prince’s ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ and ‘Graffiti Bridge’

Hello all,

I don't use this blog much anymore, if that wasn't obvious, but I keep meaning to perma-post links to my published bylines and will do that soon. In the meantime, though, I am excited to share a link to a piece I had posted at Musings on Prince's neglected films Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge, both of which are goofy, indulgent, but also revealing of aspects of Prince's personality and artistry. Now more than ever, they are crucial pieces to his puzzle. You may read my full article here:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wrestle Kingdom 10

New Japan Pro Wrestling yet again throws down the gauntlet for the year with a top flight PPV that boasts a great card and even better work. No use beating around the bush, here are breakdowns and ratings for the event. (WARNING: contains spoilers. I would highly recommend you track down this event, or at least the final three matches, immediately if you have yet to watch them.)