Togi Makabe & Toru Yano VS Yutaka Yoshie & Osamu Nishimura
You get three of the best of New Japan’s mid card and one of the company hopefuls on the card and book the match as a total squash on Nishimura?!? Not to mention a pretty lackluster finish where Yano pulled off the worst looking brainbuster ever, and Nishimura had to sell it and stay down for the count. I just found this match rather pathetic the way the talent was handled.Match Rating: ½*
Alexander Otsuka VS Minoru Suzuki
And the reason for this match was? To get Suzuki, an OUTSIDER, onto the show cause they had to have him on the show. Nevermind they had a whole locker room of talent to put in with him, instead they choose another OUTSIDER to be on the show to put him over. Funny enough, Otsuka was more entertaining and showed more skill than Suzuki has for ALL the times I’ve seen him in New Japan or anywhere. Otsuka played a very good heel when he was in Zero-One, and it’s good to see he still remembers how to work well and carried Suzuki here. Suzuki of course was his old no-selling, over cocky self. Match Rating: ½*
IWGP Jr. Tag Titles: Minoru & Hirooki Goto VS Koji Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue
Wow was this match a mess. Somebody tell me what Goto is doing here again? All he did was get his ass kicked by Kanemoto for the most part before scoring a rather lame looking fluke of a pinfall on the veteran. Why they couldn’t let Wataru drop the fall is beyond me. It’s not like they need to protect the kid from being pinned by the even greener Goto. And the structure and timing of some of the spots in the match were also questionable, like Kanemoto landing on his feet from a moonsault and just waiting there for Minoru to put him in a backslide. It just looked to planned out and not natural in some spots. Match Rating: **
IWGP Jr. Title: Black Tiger IV VS Tiger Mask IV
I can’t remember a darn thing from this one.Match Rating: *
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka VS Yuji Nagata
These two actually put on a good watchable heavyweight singles match once you get past the shoot influenced bits of the match. I liked how Nagata showed some ring smarts like catching Kohsaka quickly off guard with a spinning heel kick when he blocked an Irish whip, and Nagata’s aggression was a good counter to Kohsaka’s shooter tactics to keep the match grounded with submissions. Of course if it was a real shoot, Nagata would be out like a light a lot faster when Kohsaka clinched in his sleeper lock. But not taking away anything from either man, this was fun and watchable.Match Rating: **1/2
Ron Waterman VS Keiji Mutoh
The match hadn’t even started and I’m getting sick of the commentator making this out to be the second coming of Christ or something. Mutoh’s back for one night, we get it already! Maybe they should concentrate on trying to put their own talent over even if Mutoh is a NJPW true born.
Like MiSuzuki/Otsuka earlier, what we have here are two outsiders on a New Japan Dome show to establish Waterman as a threat to New Japan. Yeah, don’t bother trying to follow the logic here either as I don’t think Waterman was even used after this show.
The match itself was just ok, not too sluggish and not too bad. Waterman pulled off probably the most protective gorilla press I’ve ever seen when he more or less just put Mutoh down instead of slamming him down. Waterman’s tiger driver could use some work too, and I didn’t think Mutoh would be the one to blow the timing on some of the spots in the match. “Genius” indeed, he even busted Waterman’s nose with a standing Shining Wizard.Match Rating: *1/2
IWGP Tag Team Titles: Manabu Nakanishi & Kendo KaShin VS Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroshi Tanahashi
I went into this one expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised that they actually put out an entertaining tag bout. I guess the whole point of this match was to show that Nakanishi & KaShin could work together despite their past rivalries with each other. The champs actually looked second fiddle to them, but that’s not saying much considering Nakanishi was still a bit sloppy and missed a few spots. But it was fun watching Nakanishi pull off the biggest jumping cross-armbreaker ever.
The champs rebounded nicely, eventhough it was pretty obvious they were going to retain since the challengers dominated most of it. I’m still impressed with Nakamura’s intensity in his matches as he knows how to use his mannerisms to get the crowd into it. Tanahashi was good too, but Nakanishi is not the best person for him to be working with as you can see he has trouble getting the big lug around.Match Rating: ***1/2
Super Dream Tag Match: Jushin Thunder Liger & Masahiro Chono VS Tatsumi Fujinami & Mitsuharu Misawa
Well I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a bit disappointed in this one. The big selling point of this match was to show that Fujinami could still hang with the younger guys as he showed his ability moving really well. Fujinami definitely has that sentimental favorite quality about him now. I could probably see NJPW using him in a Ric Flair type role where he can help put over the younger talent.
Misawa was fun to watch for the most part, when he let Liger get in some good offense, including a running Liger-bomb! Than Misawa switched his game mode on and unleashed the elbow shots of doom, and his work went a bit down from there as he didn’t do much else for he rest of the match save for a dive out of the ring and takin a crap load of Yakuza kicks from Chono.
Liger was in Battle Liger mode, and he did really well here. But it just seemed that him and Chono were overwhelmed in this one from the start. Chono go some good offense in on Misawa, eventhough the crowd wasn’t as hot as they were the last time these two faced off in 2002. Chono did his standard Yakuza kick offense, and did a wild tope to the outside where he hit his own head on the barrier! Another OK match overall.Match Rating: ***
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Satoshi Kojima
When you take a look at the build-up video for Tenzan, you’d think they actually gave a damn about the guy if you didn’t know what they had planned for him later down the line.
If anything, this match once again shows that Kojima was the better of the two as he controlled most of the match and was able to break and counter most of Tenzan’s offense. They even played up the spot once again where it looked like Tenzan’s stamina had given out on him which gave the match some much needed crowd heat. If anything, Tenzan’s saving grace was those new punches he learned, as he managed to catch Kojima off guard everytime he used them. And the ganso-TTD at the end truly was a sick spot, too bad the commentator didn’t give a damn when he hit it and reacted more surprised when he pinned Kojima with it.Match Rating: ***Overall:
I guess to sum it up, the theme for the whole show would be “anti-climatic”, cause that’s how all the matches ended, rather suddenly without a proper build. A guy hits a move and that’s it. They didn’t really give ANY of the matches that “big match” feel eventhough this was the TOKYO DOME for crying out loud. And eventhough he’s been with the company a long time, I thought the commentator did a rather horrible job, main point being the finish of the main event as he didn’t put over the sick looking ganso-TTD and was so surprised when it actually pinned Kojima with it. And don’t get me started on the dumb angle they pulled after the main event where after they built up Tenzan with a great video, they have him win the big title match and then he calls out Fujita from the audience only to get punked out by him!