Weekend show feedback

Bellator 98
Thumbs WAY UP
Best Fight: Shlemenko vs Cooper
Worst Fight: None 
Bellator kicked off their season 9 with a bang.  Alexander Shlemenko defended his Middleweight Championship against Brett Cooper in a classic title fight.  Probably one of the best fights of the year.   Back and forth this fight went  and it was all action.  It rarely slowed down and the five rounds just flew by.   Cooper was a replacement for Doug Marshall who was injured and he nearly took the belt home with him.  If you like striking,  Shlemenko is a guy you should watch.  Great fight. 
The Season 9 middleweight tournament was also very good.  Mikkel Parlo, Jason Butcher, Brennan Ward, and Perry Filkins all advance.  Ward was a late sub for Andreas Spang and he made the best of his opportunity.  This kid is all raw power and if he ever puts everything together, he will be a beast.  His fight against Justin Torrey was a pure brawl.  Ward closed up Torrey's left eye and then popped it with short shots on the ground.  Blood was covering Torrey's face.  It was nasty. 
Parlo and Cooper was another wild fight.  Both men connected with some big shots, but Parlo who was the better conditioned athlete and capitalized on very exhausted Cooper.  
Butcher vs Giva Santana was a fun fight as well.  Santana dominated Butcher on the ground, but Butcher had great submission defense.  Butcher in Round 2 decided it is best to play standup game against the BJJ master.  This worked as Butcher stopped Santana by TKO.   After the fight, in a very emotional moment,  Santana retired in the cage.  I am picking Butcher to win the entire thing.  This guy is very good and he also has certain star quality about him.  Great promo guy. 
Filkins vs Jeremy Kimball wasn't pretty technically, but it was a fun wild brawl.   Kimball seemed to have this fight in hand, but Filkins ended up turning it on and getting the tap with a rear naked neck crank.  
The Patricky Pitbull vs Derek Anderson fight was a fun opener.  Anderson has tons of potential and you can see he has the ability to be really good.  Pitbull looked great in Round 1 connecting with some big hard shots, but Anderson took Rounds 2 and 3.  The Pitbull camp was not like the decision, but it was the right one.  Looking forward to seeing more of Anderson in Bellator. 
John LaRocca

Best Match: Minoru Tanaka/Koji Kanemoto vs Fujita Jr Hayato/Masaaki Mochizuki
Worst Match: Main Event

I've never seen a show with so many mystery wrestlers and as a novelty it was really fun.  Probably helped that the majority of the reveals were great wrestlers. The main event left a bit to desired but between the Jr Heavyweight tag match, the Sekimoto match, and the Sakuraba and Shibata against Funaki and Kono match this is an easy thumbs up

John Mull

Thumbs up
Best Match: BUSHI, Tomoaki Honma, Tetsuya Naito & Satoshi Kojima vs. Gedo, Yujiro Takahashi, Masato Tanaka & Kazuchika Okada
Worst Match: Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA vs. Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka
For the price, this was an excellent show. It certainly wasn't anything amazing or must-see, but it was highly entertaining.
Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA vs. Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka: With the early extensive mat-work, I expected a longer match. When the pace did quicken, it failed to get out of second gear. Enjoyable nonetheless.
Takashi Iizuka & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata & Takaaki Watanabe: I really liked this one. The work-rate was intense. Nagata was on fire, Watanabe looked good, and even YOSHI played his part. His exchange with Watanabe that culminated in a sweet lariat was some superb working. As for Iizuka attacking Tenzan before the match, I'm not clamoring to see a future contest.
Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga & Rey Bucanero: Like the previous match, this was all action. The only let down was Manabu's offence, even the impressive double suplex looked bad.
Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe & Captain New Japan: Another high tempo match. I liked Devitt jaw-jacking the masks on the way to ringside. Fale wasn't too bad, barring one botch late on. I'm glad they toned down the cheating. Although, I hate the way the ref always conveniently recovers just in time to make the count.
My eyes lit up when I heard Bruce Tharpe. Him and Rob Conway's promo wasn't anything special.
Minoru Suzuki, Shelton Benjamin, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado: This felt like a mess. The eliminations seemed rushed, TAKA and Taichi's comedy act shouldn't be so high up on the card, and there wasn't enough Ishii. Thankfully, Nakamura and Benjamin saved it to a degree.
BUSHI, Tomoaki Honma, Tetsuya Naito & Satoshi Kojima vs. Gedo, Yujiro Takahashi, Masato Tanaka & Kazuchika Okada: The heat was great. The pacing of the falls was much better. In the end, a really fun contest. These last two matches made the show feel like a Survivor Series show from the eighties.

Johnhy Clare

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