All Japan's big Sumo Hall show featuring several big outsider names, including the return of Mitsuharu Misawa to All Japan! This review is based on the televised version of the show, not the live PPV, so only the key matches were shown in full with everything else clipped.
All Japan Jr. Title
Katsushi Takemura (NJPW) VS Kazu Hayashi
Jado, Gedo & Jushin Thunder Liger accompany Takemura to the ring, along with MAZADA. This was pretty good, save for the outside interference by the CTU members. They eventually get ejected from ringside, but MAZADA sticks around to try to whack Hayashi with a snowboard (take that Dragon Gate's blue/red box!). Overall, this was just a good match, though nothing really spectacular.
Match Rating: ***1/4
Osamu Nishimura (NJPW) VS Keiji Mutoh
This was a great old-school mat based match, as only Nishimura could do! You pretty much know what to expect if you've ever seen Nishimura in action, but Mutoh is himself a student of Muga, so he knows how to work with Nishimura here. This match features one of the coolest spots ever as Mutoh floats over Nishimura's backslide attempt and connects immediately with a Shining Wizard! It also includes the biggest excuse of a rest-hold ever when Mutoh locks Nishimura in a figure-four, and both men start meditating to the point that the referee has to break the hold since both men were basically on another mental plane!
Match Rating: ***1/2
Next up, highlights from the preliminary matches are shown. I would have loved to have watched Taichi Ishikari VS Ryuji Hijikata in full. Even the big six-man tag with Road Warrior Animal was chopped down to just the ending. I would liked to have seen how Animal matched up with Jamal here.
Nobutaka Araya & Arashi VS Masanobu Fuchi & Genichiro Tenryu
I tell ya right now, if their is one thing I'm bored with in puroresu, it's Tenryu not selling for guys half his age! Seriously, you could almost see Araya having to hold back his lariats just so Tenryu wouldn't get knocked down! Also didn't like that this match barely went 7 minutes. Definately could have been better if they Tenryu's ex-WAR buddies get a bit more offense in.
Match Rating: **
Mitsuharu Misawa (NOAH) VS Satoshi Kojima
This was definately the big money match of the show, and the best match of the night! All the praise this match got was rightfully deserved! They worked the classic Oudou match style, starting out slow with the ground holds and slowly built to the big spots, including one insanely crazy bump that has only been done one other time if I'm not mistaken, but won't spoil here. Misawa definately made Kojima shine in this one, proving he still has the big match magic in him when required. Kojima himself was no slouch either and definately earned his spot here.
Match Rating: ****1/2
All Japan Triple Crown Championship
Takao Omori VS Toshiaki Kawada
Omori has been with All Japan for a number of years before the NOAH split, but never received a Triple Crown Title match. The Closest he came I believe was the 1999 Champion Carnival Finals where he lost to Kobashi. A victory there would have earned him a title shot.
Anyways, I'll admit I didn't expect much going in, since Omori is a great wrestler, but he is limited in the moves he does. Luckilly the match was paced so he wouldn't run his arsenal dry too quickly. Alot of fun spots here, including teasing an apron to floor backdrop and a Guillotine Axe Driver to the floor!
Kawada of course was his brilliant self to watch here, though I would agree that him selling the bad leg is gettng redundant. Heck, Omori didn't even work his leg here, more like Kawada blew it out while throwing kicks! But this was still a great match to cap off the night at the Sumo Hall.
Match Rating: ***3/4
All Japan have slowly been turning the page this year, and this is another fine example of the right direction the company needs to be going in. I definately recommend this show, whether you can find this version, or the full unclipped version.