Kikutaro, Nobukazu Hirai & Nobutaka Araya VS Tomoaki Honma, Akira Raijin & Ryuji Hijikata
Kikutaro seems to be advertising video game magazine, Famitsu, since he had the logo on his back. He was also accompanied by several cosplayers dressed as maids from some anime. Small bit of comedy at the beginning from Kikutaro which even cracked Hijikata up a bit. Akira Raijin is coming along nicely in his development. They seem to be building him up as a guy with a hard head. This was really too short for anything to come out of it, other than Honma picking up a rare pinfall.Match Rating: ½*
Buchanan VS Arashi
Another short match with mostly Buchanan locking on the iron claw on Arashi for most of the match and trying to get the iron claw bomb on him. He had the claw on so tight that Arashi even bled! Unfortunately for Buchanan it wasn’t his night as Arashi made a comeback and finished him in short order. I think Arashi only used like 3 moves in total to win this one!Match Rating: ½*
Taiji Ishimori VS Kaz Hayashi
This was the true stand out match of the show! It started off a bit slow with the standard mat work, but ended up as an incredible full speed one-upsmanship contest! It was interesting seeing Kaz play the role of the grumpy senior to young Ishimori, who holds a pinfall victory over him in a tag match. I’ve only seen Ishimori about 2-3 times prior to this, and those were nothing to shout home about, but this was a really outstanding showing by the little guy. A lot of great chained move sequences and near falls to fool you into thinking the match was about to end. This is the best singles Jr. match I’ve seen since KENTA/Kanemaru from DESTINY, and I’d rank it right up there on the same level!Match Rating: ****1/2
Kazushi Miyamoto VS Toshiaki Kawada
Not really a complete squash as everyone says. Kawada was being his usual hard-ass self, but Miyamoto got some good offense in, including a sweet Shining Wizard out on the floor and another in the ring. Miyamoto even got some stiff elbow strikes in, but it’s not good enough as Kawada beats the snot out of him with some stiff strikes suplexes to take the match. Miyamoto asked for Dangerous K, and he got him.Match Rating: ½*All Asian Tag Titles: Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima VS “brother” YASSHI & Shuji Kondo
I loved this match! Even though Sasaki was involved, they still played up his team as the underdogs. Huge pop for head referee Kyohei Wada at the beginning when he came out and had TARU ejected from ringside for attacking Akira Hokuto and than helping Kondo & YASSHI beat down Sasaki & Nakajima.
The crowd was wild for this one, which really helped me get into the match. Nakajima has shown a lot of improvement and the fans are just so behind the young kid. One fun spot had both YASSHI & Kondo exchanging chops with Sasaki, and taking out Nakajima when he tried to get involved so they could continue their chop exchange. Kondo looked very protected in this match as YASSHI bumped his ass off for the team, but it was cool watching Kondo try for his spear only to get picked off the ground by Sasaki and driven into the corner himself! Nakajima did blow a spot near the end, but they actually played up to it as him being exhausted from the beating he took. Not the best worked match ever, but I’d definitely rank it as one of my favorites of the year.Match Rating: ***1/2Voodoo Murders VS RO&D: TARU, Giant Bernard, Chuck Palumbo & Johnny Stamboli VS Masahiro Chono, TAKA Michinoku, Jamal & Taiyo Kea
Now, I’m not big fan of Chono’s work, but he was just awesome here! Gotta give TARU some credit as well for not being intimidated and going toe-to-toe with New Japan’s Black Charisma. This was another fun tag match with everyone getting their spots in. I had no idea Jamal added middle kicks to his arsenal, and he matches up nicely against Bernard as two big unstoppable gaijin monsters! It was good to see Chono even put Bernard over as a threatening gaijin. For RO&D, it really paid to have friends in high places like Chono, and personally, he looks a lot better surrounded by RO@D than he does with Black New Japan for some reason.Match Rating: ***1/2
All Japan Triple Crown: Satoshi Kojima VS Keiji Mutoh
I heard this was a solid match and Mutoh had brought his working boots, and while the match was indeed good, it just seemed to lack something that Kojima/Kawada had. A lot of back and forth action, as well as a good number of Shining Wizards thrown throughout. The crowd was actually backing Mutoh by the end of it, and the ending could have been done a lot better as we once again got to see Kojima in “hit the lariat until the damn thing works” mode. I don’t think it helped that Mutoh didn’t sell the lariat that pinned him either as he got up almost immediately after the pinfall with a “ok, it’s over” look on his face. I liked how they pushed this as the company ace VS the company champion, but eventhough he won, the champion didn’t quite look like an ace. Hopefully the Triple Crown defense against Jamal will be a lot better.Match Rating: ***Overall:
Dare I say this could be the best overall show of the new All Japan I’ve ever seen? The two openers weren’t much, but everything after that was loads of fun! Big fat recommendation from me to watch this one!