SMASH Debut
review by Kevin Wilson

Date: March 26th, 2010 
Location:  Shinjuku FACE
Announced Attendance: 600

Just what we needed, another promotion. Once Hustle closed down, a few popped up in its place, with SMASH being one of them. TAJIRI is the booker of the promotion and one of the stars, as you can see he is in two of the five matches on the card. I am not complaining though, any event with Leatherface is ok in my book, plus we get Tommy Dreamer's first match in Japan after he was released by WWE. Here is the full card:

- World Tryout Match: TAJIRI vs. Mentallo
- Meiko Satomura vs. Shuri
- Akira Shoji vs. Leatherface
- Hardcore Match: TAJIRI vs. Tommy Dreamer
- Hajime Ohara vs. KUSHIDA

Let's get it started.

TAJIRI vs. Mentallo
This is a try-out match for Mentallo. Tie-up to start, waistlock by Mentallo, reversed into a wristlock by TAJIRI but Mentallo armdrags out of it. Tie-up again, waistlock by TAJIRI, armdrag by Mentallo but TAJIRI applies a headscissors. Mentallo gets out of it with a handstand, tie-up, side headlock by Mentallo, TAJIRI Irish whips out of it but Mentallo shoulderblocks him down. They go into a Test of Strength, Mentallo goes off the ropes in the corner and armdrags TAJIRI to the mat. TAJIRI falls out of the ring, baseball slide by Mentallo and he delivers an Asai Moonsault to the floor. Back in the ring, Irish whip by Mentallo from the corner, Mentallo kicks TAJIRI from the apron and hits a diving crossbody from the top turnbuckle. TAJIRI comes back with a thrust kick, cover by TAJIRI but it gets a two count. TAJIRI picks up Mentallo, chops by TAJIRI in the corner and he delivers a high kick. Mentallo falls out of the ring but eventually gets back in and TAJIRI hits a backdrop suplex for a two count. Reverse chinlock by TAJIRI and he hits a neckbreaker, cover, but again he gets two. Crab hold by TAJIRI but Mentallo makes it to the ropes. TAJIRI picks up Mentallo, chops by Mentallo but TAJIRI hits a snapmare and kicks Mentallo in the back. Cover, but Mentallo kicks out. TAJIRI applies a reverse chinlock, Mentallo gets back to his feet and gets out of the hold but TAJIRI floors him with a high kick. The referee starts a 10 count but Mentallo gets up at 9. They trade slaps and elbows, Irish whip by Mentallo but TAJIRI blocks it and delivers a headbutt. Mentallo comes back with his own headbutt, Irish whip by Mentallo but TAJIRI reverses it. Dropkick by Mentallo followed by a back elbow and a lariat. Mentallo picks up TAJIRI, Irish whip from the corner and he hits a jumping knee followed by a Northern Lights Suplex with a headstand for a two count. Mentallo picks up TAJIRI, fireman's carry roll and he hits a moonsault from the second turnbuckle. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Irish whip by Mentallo but TAJIRI delivers his handspring handstand elbow strike. Mentallo ducks the Buzzsaw Kick and delivers a German suplex hold for a two count. Mentallo positions TAJIRI, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but TAJIRI rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Spinning heel kick by TAJIRI and he nails Mentallo with the Buzzsaw Kick, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: TAJIRI

Match Thoughts: At first I found it odd that Mentallo has wrestled for 13 years and I have never heard of him, but it seems like the vast majority of that time was spent in Canada which kinda explains it. But me not knowing who he was probably helped the match as I was expecting some rookie but instead got a seasoned veteran whose selling and timing was very crisp. So it was actually a pretty entertaining match, Mentallo got lots of offense in so it was far from a squash and TAJIRI came out looking good for his match later. There were a few transition issues but nothing major, and for an opening match it was perfectly acceptable wrestling. Score: 6.5

Meiko Satomura vs. Shuri
They circle each other to start, Satomura puts her hand up by Shuri kicks it away. Tie-up, Satomura pushes Shuri into the corner and applies a side headlock. Takedown by Satomura but Shuri gets out of it and applies a headscissors. Satomura gets out of it and re-applies the side headlock, drop toehold by Satomura and she applies a modified STF. Shuri makes it to the ropes to force the break, Satomura grabs Shuri by the leg and applies a leg submission. Shuri gets to the ropes but Satomura kicks her in the legs. Back up, elbow by Satomura, Irish whip from the corner and she delivers a jumping elbow. Scoop slam by Satomura and she hits a series of elbow drops. Cover by Satomura but it gets a two count. Satomura picks up Shuri and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Shuri blocks it. Knees by Shuri and she delivers a scissors kick for a two count. Mounted punches by Shuri and she goes for a cross armbreaker. Satomura gets out of it, Irish whip by Satomura but Shuri grabs Satomura and throws her to the mat. They jockey for position but Shuri grabs the ropes, back up Shuri connects with a pair of kicks but Satomura blocks a third. They trade strikes, and Satomura hits a series of uppercuts. Cover, but it gets a two count. Satomura picks up Shuri and slams her to the mat, cover, but again it gets two. They slowly get up, uppercut by Satomura and Shuri is knocked into the corner. Shuri catches Satomura with a boot and delivers a hurricanrana for a two count. Back up, mid-kicks by Shuri into the corner and she nails a double knee. Shuri knocks Satomura out of the ring and followed her out, mid-kicks by Shuri but Satomura regains the advantage. Satomura throws Shuri to the floor and kicks her in the chest. Shuri rolls back in the ring and Satomura enters with a slingshot double stomp. Satomura goes off the ropes and delivers a cartwheel double leg drop followed by kicks to the leg. Backdrop suplex by Satomura, cover, but Shuri barely gets a shoulder up. Shuri slowly gets up and the two trade kicks, uppercut by Satomura and a high kick sends Shuri to the mat. Cover, but again Shuri kicks out. Satomura goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving body press, cover, but she can't get the three. Satomura picks up Shuri but Shuri rolls her up for a two count. Cradle by Shuri but again it gets two. Irish whip by Satomura, reversed, and Shuri hits a cross armbreaker takedown. They are in the middle of the ring but Satomura manages to get to the ropes to force a break. Shuri picks up Satomura but Satomura blocks her punches and punches her back. They trade blows, Satomura ducks a Shuri high kick and delivers one of her own. Satomura applies a sleeper hold, Shuri tries to get to the ropes but she can't, and the referee is forced to stop the match after Shuri goes unconscious. Your winner: Meiko Satomura

Match Thoughts: Shuri used to be known as "KG" in Hustle and this was her first true Joshi match (she had a few matches against \(^o^)/ Chie in Hustle but I dunno if I count those). Another good match, they had a solid story with the upstart MMA-style wrestler against the seasoned pro wrestler and kept it throughout the match. Satomura dominated with body presses, double stomps, and striking, but Shuri was always a threat if she was able to slap on a cross armbreaker or knock out Satomura with a high kick. The time seemed about right and I didn't notice any mishaps or miscommunications during the match. It was somewhat simple, but done very well. Shuri seems to be improving in her pro-wrestling abilities (selling, timing, things like that) and overall I enjoyed it. Score: 7.0

Akira Shoji vs. Leatherface
Leatherface chases people with his chainsaw but eventually puts it down when he gets into the ring, knees by Shoji and he chokes Leatherface against the mat. Leatherface reverses positions with him and the two take turns choking each other. Shoji pushes Leatherface out of the ring, but Leatherface grabs his leg and pulls Shoji out with him. Leatherface gets a metal spike and drives it into Shoji's head. Leatherface returns to the ring with a bleeding Shoji slowly following him, but Leatherface knocks him back out with a baseball slide. Outside the ring, Leatherface throws Shoji into the ring post, he then picks up a steel chair and hits Shoji in the stomach and back with it. Shoji regains the advantage and hits Leatherface with the chair, but Leatherface throws him into the bleachers. Leatherface hits Shoji with a chair and slides him into the ring, Leatherface picks up Shoji and chops him in the chest. Leatherface kicks down Shoji, Shoji tries to get up but Leatherface kicks him down again. Another kick by Leatherface but Shoji absorbs the blows, waistlock by Shoji but Leatherface elbows out of it. Sumo takedown by Shoji, Irish whip from the corner and Shoji delivers a lariat. A second lariat by Shoji and he hits a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Another takedown by Shoji and he goes for a cross armbreaker, but Leatherface throws the referee at Shoji to get out of it. Choke by Leatherface and he goes for a lariat, but Shoji drops it and hits a crucifix pin for a two count. Shoji applies a modified crossface but Leatherface makes it to the ropes to force a break. Shoji pushes back the referee, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Leatherface recovers and tosses Shoji off. Cover by Leatherface but it gets a two count. Leatherface picks up Shoji and drops him hard with a powerbomb, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the diving forearm drop. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Leatherface

Match Thoughts: Ok, so I understand this match isn't actively good. Leatherface was out of wrestling for awhile and is in his 50s, not to mention it is a limiting gimmick. I have never seen Shoji in a straight match before so I can't really comment, but a seven minute match against Leatherface wasn't really a great chance to show his skills anyway. Even though it was hokey, plodding, and somewhat pointless I still couldn't help but smile, I still love those old W*ING and IWA gimmicks like Leatherface, Crypt Keeper, etc. as it automatically means you aren't going to be watching your average match. They kept it short so that it didn't get real old, and Leatherface's powerbomb was killer. So no, it wasn't really "good" from a workrate perspective, but it was entertaining for what it was going for. Score: 5.0

TAJIRI vs. Tommy Dreamer
This is a Hardcore Match. They shake hands to start the match, tie-up, Dreamer pushes TAJIRI into the corner but he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, TAJIRI applies a hammerlock, reversed by Dreamer and Dreamer applies a side headlock. TAJIRI Irish whips out of it but Dreamer shoulderblocks him down, they trade strike attempts but neither can connect. Kick by TAJIRI, Irish whip from the corner but Dreamer kicks him back as he charges in. Dreamer then goes for the Tarantula but TAJIRI blocks it and pushes Dreamer to the apron. TAJIRI then does a handstand off the ropes, knocking Dreamer from the apron to the floor. TAJIRI joins Dreamer outside and throws him into the bleachers. TAJIRI goes for a vertical suplex but Dreamer blocks it and throws TAJIRI into the ring post. They battle around the bleachers for a bit, and Dreamer hits TAJIRI with a crutch and trash cans while he also throws the plunder into the ring. TAJIRI regains the advantage and gets up onto the bleacher to hit Dreamer with a trash can lid. Back at ringside, TAJIRI throws Dreamer into the ring post. TAJIRI gets a kendo stick and hits Dreamer in the head and back with it. TAJIRI picks up Dreamer on a table but Dreamer throws him off the table into a wall. Dreamer brings TAJIRI back to ringside and slides him into the ring. Dreamer joins him, he puts a trash can lid onto TAJIRI's groin and hits it with a guitar. Dreamer picks up TAJIRI, snapmare, Dreamer goes up to the second rope but TAJIRI rolls out of the way of the elbow drop. TAJIRI hits Dreamer with a trash can lid, cover, but it gets a two count. TAJIRI stomps a cookie sheet into Dreamer's abdomen, and Dreamer rolls out of the ring. TAJIRI throws a table into the ring and kicks it into Dreamer's chest. Cover by TAJIRI, but it gets two.

TAJIRI puts the trash can over Dreamer's head and kicks it off, but Dreamer gets a crutch and hits TAJIRI with it. TAJIRI regains the advantage by choking him with a mop, TAJIRI picks up Dreamer and goes for his handstand attack but Dreamer hits him in the back with the mop stick. Dreamer grabs a cookie sheet and bends it around TAJIRI's head. Dreamer picks up TAJIRI, Irish whip, and he hits TAJIRI in the head with it. Dreamer connects with more cookie sheet shots to the head but TAJIRI kicks it back into his face. TAJIRI puts Dreamer into the Tree of Woe, he puts a trash can in front of his head and delivers a baseball slide. Cover by TAJIRI, but it gets a two count. Scoop slam by TAJIRI, and he delivers a moonsault off the second turnbuckle. Cover, but again it gets two. TAJIRI grabs a crutch and goes up top again, but Dreamer recovers and knocks TAJIRI into a seated position on the top turnbuckle. Dreamer then puts TAJIRI into the Tree of Woe with a trash can on his head and delivers a baseball slide of his own. Dreamer lets TAJIRI down, kick by TAJIRI but Dreamer hits him low and nails a piledriver. Cover, but it gets a two count. Dreamer sets up the table and puts TAJIRI on it, but the table leg is broken so TAJIRI slides off. Dreamer picks up the table instead and throws it at TAJIRI. Dreamer sets up the table again and puts TAJIRI on it, and with the help of the referee and a random person from ringside, they get the table to stay. Dreamer then goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails a diving body press through the table, cover, but TAJIRI gets a shoulder up. Dreamer picks up TAJIRI and delivers a DDT, cover, but it gets a two count. Dreamer sets up a trash can on the mat, he picks up TAJIRI and hits a death valley driver onto the trash can. Dreamer grabs the broken table and puts it in the middle of the ring, he then hits a DDT on TAJIRI into it. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Tommy Dreamer

Match Thoughts: This match was odd, because really TAJIRI was beaten without much of a fight. Not that TAJIRI didn't get any offense but he didn't get any meaningful offense... he never was really in a position to win the match. Since both wrestlers are on about the same level I don't understand why it was structured like that, unless they were putting over on commentary that TARIJI wrestled earlier in the night and was tired. As for the match I am kinda over the plunder that doesn't really do much like trash can lids, but I was amused that they needed lots of help to keep the table standing. The ECW-style brawl really should be phased out, but if anyone can get away with it in today's age it is Dreamer since he was such a big part of that 15 years ago (time flies, huh?). A decent match, but a little too "been there, done that" and I didn't like the one sidedness of the end. Score: 5.5

Hajime Ohara vs. KUSHIDA
They circle each other to start, tie-up, KUSHIDA gets Ohara into the ropes but he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, this time Ohara gets KUSHIDA into the ropes but he delivers an elbow strike. They trade blows, side headlock by KUSHIDA, Ohara tries to Irish whip out of it but KUSHIDA slams on the breaks and drops to the mat. Ohara gets back up but KUSHIDA springboards off the ropes and takes the hold back to the mat. Ohara gets up again, Ohara finally Irish whips out of it and the two collide with no result. They trade elbows again, KUSHIDA goes off the ropes but Ohara elbows him to the mat. Scoop slam by Ohara and he chokes KUSHIDA with his robe. Punches by Ohara in the corner and he stomps KUSHIDA to a seated position. KUSHIDA catches an Ohara kick and pushes him away, armdrag by KUSHIDA and he delivers a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Ohara falls out of the ring, but KUSHIDA joins him and they battle in the bleachers. KUSHIDA slides Ohara back into the ring, stomps by KUSHIDA and he chops Ohara against the ropes. Snapmare by KUSHIDA and he delivers a cartwheel into a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Reverse chinlock by KUSHIDA, Ohara elbows out of it but KUSHIDA clubs him in the back. KUSHIDA picks up Ohara and throws him into the corner, Irish whip by KUSHIDA and he delivers a double knee. Irish whip by KUSHIDA, reversed, and Ohara hits an arm drag. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA and punches him repeatedly in the head. Back up, Ohara chokes KUSHIDA into the corner and kicks KUSHIDA down in to a seated position, Ohara picks up KUSHIDA and applies a choke hold while twisting KUSHIDA in the ropes. Ohara then goes off the far ropes and dropkicks KUSHIDA in the back while he is still tied up. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA, knees by Ohara and he hits a vertical suplex. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA and he stretches KUSHIDA against his knee. KUSHIDA punches out of it, Ohara picks up KUSHIDA, Irish whip, but KUSHIDA kicks Ohara when he charges in.

KUSHIDA goes up to the top turnbuckle but Ohara punches him in the stomach when he jumps off. KUSHIDA still manages to dropkick Ohara out of the ring, he goes out to the apron and delivers a somersault senton over the ring post to the floor. KUSHIDA slides Ohara back into the ring, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails a diving crossbody for a two count. Back up, chops by KUSHIDA, Irish whip and he hits an elbow followed by a standing moonsault for a two count. Backbreaker by KUSHIDA, he goes up top but Ohara recovers and and powerbombs KUSHIDA down to the mat. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA, but KUSHIDA gets out of his grasp and slams Ohara to the mat. Moonsault by KUSHIDA, cover, but it gets a two count. KUSHIDA goes off the ropes but Ohara catches him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA and nails a fisherman buster, cover, but he only gets a two count. Ohara picks up KUSHIDA and goes for the Canadian Backbreaker, but KUSHIDA pushes him off. Headbutt by KUSHIDA, he goes for a springboard attack but Ohara moves out of the way. They trade strikes, release German suplex by Ohara but KUSHIDA dropkicks Ohara in the back of the head. Both wrestlers slowly get up and they trade strikes while on their knees, but Ohara gets the better of it and hits a modified Canadian Backbreaker. Ohara applies a submission hold but KUSHIDA kicks out of it. Kick to the back by Ohara but KUSHIDA delivers a buzzsaw kick. Cover, but Ohara kicks out. KUSHIDA picks up Ohara but Ohara elbows him off, Ohara goes off the ropes but KUSHIDA catches him with a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Hurricanrana by KUSHIDA, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the Midnight Express. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: KUSHIDA

Post match: KUSHIDA talks on the mic for a bit, but is interrupted by Leatherface. Leatherface punches on KUSHIDA, but TAJIRI makes the save and spits green mist into Leatherface. Dreamer then runs in, hits Leatherface with a kendo stick and delivers a DDT.

Match Thoughts: These two had a long feud in Hustle, and was one of the few real feuds that the promotion had that wasn't oozing with silliness. This did not feel main event worthy, at all, even though it was a very solid match. But it lacked the interest or star power you expect from a main event of a show. I respect they wanted to give the young stars the spotlight but in terms of being on the top of the card I think that Dreamer vs. TAJIRI would have been more fitting. But it was a good match and if it was in the upper mid-card I probably wouldn't have been disappointed. I have liked KUSHIDA for awhile now, he hits his moves very cleanly and Ohara plays a good foil to him even though I find Ohara generally only slightly above average as a wrestler. They worked well together and it was clear they had wrestled before as they had all their counters set up and made it look effortless, which is a big plus. So it was a perfectly fine match, it just didn't seem like it was on the right place on the card. Score: 6.5

Final Thoughts:

The thing about this event that struck me is that from top to bottom the match structures never changed. There was really no ebb and flow, the opener and main event felt about the same. It isn't that this is bad, but it is unusual and not the way that most promoters set up their cards, the main event didn't "feel" any different then the opener or TAJIRI/Dreamer as bombs were being thrown in all matches equally. Once I got over that puzzlement it was a pretty good card, I thought all the matches had something worth watching for. Dreamer/TAJIRI had a real "already seen this" vibe and I didn't like how one-sided the ending was, but it wasn't unwatchable. For a debut card I think they did a good job, they have a few kinks to work out but overall a solid first effort.

Mildly Recommended


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review completed 4/21/10