Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cubed Circle Newsletter Issue #21: All Together 2, WWE Kayfabe T-shirts, Recommendations for February and much more!

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The Cubed Circle Newsletter

In this week’s issue we cover the All Together show from All Japan, New Japan and NOAH, RAW, WWE Kayfabe t-shirts and we have a new segment in the recommendations column in the Bits and Pieces section. As always your feedback is welcome, either through the comments section, e-mail or the many social networks available in the contact section.

NJPW/AJPW/NOAH “All Together 2”, 2012/02/19 Sendai Sun Plaza Hall, 3,500 Full House Super No Vacancy, Review

Overall Show Thoughts

Overall this show was like the first All Together show, it was a show meant to instill unity and patriotism and I assume that’s what it did. This was a feel good show just like the first, but it capped off with two very good matches. It was \an easy show to sit through and most of the matches didn’t go all that long, it was not a must see show, but it was still very fun and there was some great wrestling on the show.
The opening of the All Together show, at a packed Sendai Sun Plaza 

1. Gedo, Jado, Kenou & Taro Nohashi vs. Great Sasuke, Ryusuke Taguchi, Taiji Ishimori & Tiger Mask

This was a good opener that the crowd was into, especially during the brief portion where Gedo and Jado got the heat on Taguchi. Other than that, everyone got their spots in, but nothing about the match was all that memorable. Sasuke pinned Nohashi in 11:12 with the Sasuke Special 10.

2. Captain All Japan (Ryota Hama), Captain New Japan & Captain NOAH (Mohammed Yone) vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Kentaro Shiga

I must say the team of captain All Japan, New Japan and NOAH looked amazingly great together. TenKoji did their best, but they couldn’t help or subsidize the wackiness and subpar workrate of the other team. Although it was fun, the match was far from a wrestling clinic, but luckily it didn’t go all that long. Tenzan submitted Captain New Japan with an anaconda vice in 10:27. 
** ¼

3. Jushin Thunder Liger, KAI, Kotaro Suzuki & Minoru Tanaka vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kaz Hayashi, Shuji Kondo & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

This match was full of good to great workers, which really made for a good match, besides some botched spots and pacing issues. You obviously had great workers in the match like Hayashi, Suzuki, Nakajima and Kondo who really carried the bulk of the match. Tanaka botched a moonsault off of the turnbuckle and a few other spots, but it didn’t detract from the match all too much. Kondo pinned KAI in 14:38 with a King Kong Lariat. 
*** ½

4. Manabu Soya & Togi Makabe vs. Takashi Sugiura & Yujiro Takahashi

I don’t know if Sugiura was hurt, or if he was just beaten down, but my God was he slow. I get that it was a heavyweight style matchup, but compared to Makabe and even Soya who wasn’t all that quick (Although while running from post to post he took two very hard turnbuckles). It was a decent match, although it was slow and pretty uninteresting until the finish. Sugiura pinned Soya in 11:46 with an Olympic slam. 
** ½

5. Akebono, Kensuke Sasaki, Naomichi Marufuji & Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshihiro Takayama & Masayuki Kono

I have seen way too many Taichi, Takayama, Nagata and Suzuki tags for my liking as of late. Nagata and Suzuki are great, but I would really like to see them more outside of tag matches, especially in New Japan. The heel team got the heat on Marufuji for a while and everyone hit their spots, although Taichi and Akebono got a bit too much time. Akebono pinned Taichi with a lariat big splash combo in 13:58.

6. Akitoshi Saito, Hirooki Goto & Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano

This was a very fun match, jut for Saito and Shinzaki alone the match was worth it, not even counting Goto and Nakumura. The match was worked in a very fun manner and Goto pinned Iizuka in 13:30 with the Shoten Kai.
*** ¼

7. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs. Keiji Muto & Kenta Kobashi

Muto and Kobashi’s selling in this match was absolutely incredible, from their facials to their vocals. They didn’t do a million flips or flops, but they didn’t need to do that to get over. Both of them are pretty beaten down at this point, although Kobashi seems to be more broken down than Mutoh. But, they never took any crazy or harmful bumps in the match, besides an inverted tombstone piledriver that Muto took, which makes it difficult to protect the head and neck. Akiyama and Omori got the heat on Muto then it was switched to Kobashi and so on, but the match was compelling all the way through. Muto pinned Akiyama in 20:20 with a moonsault, building up their Triple Crown match further.
*** ¾

8. Go Shiozaki, Seiya Sanada & Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Suwama & Takeshi Morishima

I was happy to see that Akiyama was kept in the Muto match, just because I don’t think that he would have fitted in here. However what I thought was strange was that there was no Okada to be seen, in fact Tanahashi was practically treated like the champion. What I was glad to see was that Tanahashi is just as over as he was before he lost the championship, although time will tell if the change is going to work or not. Regardless the match was great with everyone in the match being great workers what else would you expect. Morishima pinned Shiozaki in 23:14 with a back drop driver.

WWE RAW 2012/02/27

Overall this week marked the next in a string of good RAWs that have been taking place for a couple of weeks now. The show was pretty much made by the opening and closing segments, there was no Triple H Undertaker build this week, other than a good hype video.

The show opened with Punk coming out for a match with Daniel Bryan, but Punk was interrupted by Jericho, which I was happy about at the time thinking that the match wouldn’t take place and we would get the match again on free TV, when it could be a big mainevent down the line.

Punk and Jericho performed in the best segment of the night in my opinion, although the Cena/Rock segment was good, this segment leaned more towards the age old tale that has worked for so long, “I think I am better than you, you think you are better than me, lets settle it in the ring.”. That’s it and the segment didn’t need to be convoluted like the Cena/ Rock segment.

I was a big fan of the way that Jericho started the segment, saying that Punk was one of his favorites but he was a step above him, instead of going the other way and burying the guy. He said that he was the last of a dying breed, a group of wrestlers that toured the world having great matches and not caring about politics. He said that Punk was like him in a way, because he became something that everyone thought he couldn’t. Punk responded by saying that they knew just how good Jericho was. He carried on with his promo saying that he didn’t plagiarize anything and that Bret Hart called himself the best in the world. Jericho then said that he was on a completely different level and that it was not a gimmick, he had stayed at a higher level than anyone in history.

Then we got to the real meat of the segment, where Punk basically said the same thing that Cena has been saying, you left to write books, dance and sing, I am really getting tired of this whining. Jericho then said that while he was becoming a bigger star than Punk ever will be, all he could think about was how he had been ripped off because Punk was calling himself the best in the world. He said that the vignettes and jackets were all frosting on the cake. Punk said that they don’t need pyro or jackets, he said all they need is a ring to put on one of the greatest Mania matches of all time.

Out came Daniel Bryan for the match, at this point I realized the match was staking place, but it didn’t go all that long in fact is was a match, which damages the drawing power of this match in the future. The match was just a vessel for the progression of the on going Long Laurinaitis feud which isn’t all that engaging. 

Both Sheamus and Jericho interfered in the match, with Sheamus inferring so that Punk could hit the GTS on Bryan. Jericho ambushed Punk after the match, locking in the Walls of Jericho on the ramp. The match featured good progression of the Sheamus Bryan program, but I can’t help thinking that it wasn’t really needed, as specially when a match of this caliber had to be degraded and given away free again.

They showed a video package of last year’s WrestleMania match between Triple H and the Undertaker with commentary and thoughts from Rock, Austin, Edge, Cena, Punk and Big Show.

Miz cut a promo on how he should be in the mainevent of WrestleMania, it was fine, but boy oh boy am I sick of hearing people wine about Rock and the top spot. This is the WWE’s problem, they have something, but then they just oversaturated it. Why have Cena come out and say something the week before, then have Punk say something and now Miz who isn’t even a top guy anymore, it makes no sense. After the match he had a pretty one sided dull match with Cena, he submitted Miz, the poor guy.

There was a tag team gauntlet match, I was fine with it since Primo and Epico retained, but after the match Kane made his big return (one week my god!) and killed everyone in the division, it was stupid. Sheamus was in a tag match, I had no problem with the match itself, but I wish there was more emphasis on him being the Rumble winner, I mean at least hype the match up as a bigger deal.

The Rock came out to a pretty big ovation, he cut a great promo on “a guy” in the back, which I presume in storyline was Cena, but in reality was Punk, but I am not sure. He talked about the “babyfaces” of the past such as Austin, Piper, himself etc. Cena interrupted and mentioned the notes on the Rock’s hand, which I never took much notice of at first, but after seeing how much of a big deal people made out the line to be I rewatched the segment. People were saying it was a shoot and I doubt it. First of all why would Cena double-cross Rock before their match, it makes absolutely no sense. Apparently Rock flipped out backstage, but why wouldn’t he retaliate right then and there, plus why would Vince want to kill his relationship with such a big draw. It being a shoot just wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

They bickered back and forth, until Cena basically said “you may be looking at the guy who doesn’t have any balls, but I am going to kick your ass.”. It was a good segment and I see where they are going, I believe that they are trying to make Cena into the person defending wrestling, to get the smart fans behind him. Which I doubt will work, but still it’s producing some great segments.

Overall this was another good show, with a good beginning and end, there was some stupid stuff in-between, but I still think that the show did more good than bad. As for the ratings, the show did worse than expected with the over run segment loosing quite a lot of viewers, which is very disappointing, given the fact that Rock was advertised and he seems to be the only major needle mover at the moment. 

Bits & Pieces

WWE Kayfabe T-shirts

I understand the fact that we can’t go back to a time where kayfabe was fully embraced, respected and protected. But, the WWE has done something quite remarkable with their new kayfabe range, they have managed to simultaneously undermine their product along with their merchandise and content.

If you haven’t seen the shirts they are quit astounding, they are for sale on in the “kayfabe” section, they have shirts with such terms as “jobber”, “heel”, “I’m so over” and “what’s your finish?”. Now one could make a case for the shirts by saying that the term “jobber” and “heel” have been used in the context of the show in the past, but to put them on a shirt seems absolutely ludicrous.

The shirts actually don’t intrigue me as much as the fact that they were actually authorized by someone. I mean it took a couple of days or even hours before the infamous Sin Cara t-shirts were pulled, why should this be any different? I guess the WWE just don’t care about the fact that these terms have been acknowledged, after all Ziggler has “#heel” on the back of his tights which is a completely different matter entirely.

Another thing that absolutely astonishes me is the fact that people are actually buying these t-shirts. Besides the fact they are badly made and pretty ugly, what so called “smart fan” would actually buy one of these? Surely if you are smart you wouldn’t by one of these and if you are not then why would these interest you in the first place?

These shirts aren’t a tremendous insult to the business, although I don’t feel that they should have been released because I do find them stupid. It’s fine to break kayfabe in share holders meetings or radio shows, but to openly acknowledge it in the merchandise sector, a market that is theoretically based around the suspension of disbelieve is profoundly strange and idiotic.

Recommendations for February 2012


In terms of in ring performance, the WWE in month of February wasn’t the best. Yes we had the chamber which almost always produces great matches, but this year the Elimination Chamber pay-per view didn’t deliver the stellar mainevent caliber chamber matches it is known for. But, it hasn’t been all bad this month in terms of WWE produced content, Raw has been delivering at a consistently higher level than has been doing the past few months.

February produced some great promos from all the participants in this year’s WrestleMania matches, from Jericho to Cena most of the content has been good. Granted the content of the programming at the beginning of the month was far from stellar, partly due to the Kane vs. Cena angle. The main problems were mostly focused on the build to the Chamber, but the build to Mania has been consistent the whole way through, producing some enjoyable and memorable content. 


New Japan

The most notable match from New Japan this month was by far the IWGP heavyweight championship match, between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. The match was great and will probably be one of the best matches from the first quarter of this year, but most people who follow the product view the change as questionable.

New Japan made the announcement that they were purchased by anime and card game company Bushi Road this month, although for a small amount. But, the choice to change the title was apparently made before the sale.

All Japan

In terms of pure ring work, All Japan has been one of the best promotions of the year so far. They have produced great show after great show, with amazing triple crown title defenses from Jun Akiyama (age 42) as well as the Junior Heavyweights.

Akiyama put on what will probably be one of the best All Japan matches of the year together with Takao Ōmori also age 42 on the February 3rd All Japan show from Korakuen Hall. Although both men may not be in their prime they put on a great match, the show also featured a good junior heavyweight championship match between Kenny Omega and Kaz Hayashi.

The trend of great All Japan shows and matches continued throughout the month with great banquet shows and it looks like it is going to continue into March.


All Together

I am not going to touch too much on All Together, since it was already addressed earlier in the newsletter. The show was easy to sit through and was really just a genuine feel good show with a great mainevent. The show isn’t a must see, however the main and semi mainevents were both really good matches.

Kensuke Office Renamed Diamond Ring

The Japanese promotion Kensuke Office has been rechristened Diamond Ring and to commemorate this change they put on a special “renaming” show of sorts. This show ran for around two hours and featured some great matches. The mainevent between Nakajima and Shingo was great and would have been even better if Shingo continued to sell the injured arm throughout the match. The semi-main event was also great, a tag match between the team of Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama taking of the team of Kensuke Sasaki and Mitsuhiro Kitanomiya. The tag match arguably featured greater psychology and storytelling, with Kitanomiya getting worked on and partially bloodied by Kobashi and Akiyama. He was pinned, but he got over in a big way, because of the way he show cased his fighting spirit.

 Diamond Ring “Kensuke Office Changes”  2012/02/11

1. Kikutaro & Numazu Man vs. Masao Inoue & "Hollywood" Stalker Ichikawa
* ½

2. Ultimo Dragon, Taiji Ishimori & Satoshi Kajiwara vs Kazunari Murakami, NOSAWA
Rongai & Takeshi Minamino
** ¾

3. Fujita "Jr." Hayato vs. Kento Miyahara
*** ¼

4. Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Mitsuhiro Kitanomiya

5. Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Shingo Takagi
**** ¼

Next Week’s Issue

In next week’s issue we cover the Ring of Honor 10th Anniversary Event, RAW, the continued build to WrestleMania, all the news from the week and more! For more on next week’s issue visit


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