Puroresu Show Reviews
Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection
Sunday, January 22, 2006
NJPW "Toukon Shidou New Chapter 1" 1/04/2006
Yutaka Yoshie & Akebono VS Black Strong Machine & Hiro Saito
The commentator almost loses his voice just putting over Akebono entering the ring. “There’s Akebono! He’s walking down the isle! I can’t believe it! OH MY GAWD IN HEAVEN! HE JUST STEPPED ON THE APRON AND IS NOW GETTING IN THE RING! THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT!” Well, maybe he didn’t say it all like that, but I can bet somewhere in that tirade of his he channeled Tony Szhivone. How about saving that energy and just calling the match?
The match itself was a ton of fun (no pun intended). I haven’t seen much of ‘Bono, but I thought he was kinda fun here as the fans popped for everything he did. I enjoyed the sumo slaps at the beginning, but I’m a bit confused at his 64 finisher as first he did the hip-toss version, than he did a Black Hole Slam version, which looked way better. He even delivered a cool looking chokeslam. I guess his only problem is his stamina since he seemed to get winded easily. Give him credit for taking a big double backdrop from the veterans too. I hope to see him team with Yoshie more regularly here as they were a fun team to watch.Match Rating: *1/2IWGP Heavyweight Title: Brock Lesner (C) VS Shinsuke Nakamura
Seriously, from the promo video, who does represent the heart of New Japan today more than Shinsuke Nakamura?
Now this was actually a good match despite its short length. I do feel they could have done more though, since we all know both men are capable of it. Heck, Nakamura lasted longer against Bob Sapp and even kicked out of a Beast-bomb. But I guess New Japan just have to have an unbeatable monster as their champion instead of someone who the fans could really rally behind to draw heat for their matches.Match Rating: **1/2Manabu Nakanishi VS Giant Bernard
I still find it funny the way Bernard and Lesnar dumb down their promos in Japan.
At first I didn’t think this was as bad as the reports made it out to be, it seemed that everytime they got some good rhythm going, one of them would screw up. There were three major missed spots here; first was when Bernard stumbled out of the way when Nakanishi was running in with a lariat, forcing Nakanishi to pull a last minute swerve to barely catch Bernard. Next was when Nakanishi rolled into Bernard’s reverse corner splash instead of rolling away from it, and finally, Bernard couldn’t get Nakanishi up in a powerbomb and led to an awkward moment which Bernard was able to cover up with a lariat followed by the finish.
This could have been really good if not for those blown spots as the crowd was into the clash of the powerhouses. Nakanishi managed to lift Bernard up in the Argentine backbreaker, and even did a cool German suplex-hold! They even gave Nakanishi a bit of a nudge by having him kick out of the Baldo-bomb. Bernard wasn’t all that bad either playing the big bad gaijin role.Match Rating: *1/2Yuji Nagata VS Kazunari Murakami
This match could have been a lot more fun if they didn’t stall so much. I was quickly reminded why Murakami was one of my favorites back in the day as he’s still really explosive despite not really knowing much other than throwing some really heavy strikes.
The match ended as your typical Murakami match though; heated start, stalled outside brawling, blade job, and the finish. I just thought it didn’t make sense for Murakami to bleed since there wasn’t really anything to cause it. If he bladed after Nagata hit him with the barrage of head butts, it would have made more sense.
You still gotta love the really stiff strikes these guys threw at each other. I thought they were both cutting it really close at the beginning of the match when both men barely avoided a really fast coming kick from each other.
Overall, the whole match came together nicely and the crowd loved it. The post match brawl was an interesting way to set up Nagata VS Enson Inoue if they ever follow up on it.Match Rating: **1/2Koji Kanemoto VS Shinjiro Ohtani
Now these two put on probably the best match of the show up to this point! A great see-saw where both guys traded heavy strikes and hard slams. I kinda enjoyed watching Kanemoto get his ass handed to him as payback for the beating he gave Yoshihito Sasaki in Zero-One MAX, but Kanemoto gave it as good as he got it. It would have been a lot better if they gave them five more minutes to see what they could have done instead of sprinting through unloading their whole arsenal on each other in ten minutes.Match Rating: ***1/2Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Katsuyori Shibata
Mr. “My career is in a slump, but I still got MY U-30 Title” VS Mr. “Leaving NJPW was the biggest mistake of my career”. All jokes aside, this was a really strong match and it really makes me wonder what the heck NJPW were thinking letting Shibata go when the kid is really damn good and reminds me of Murakami as their styles are similar, even the sick grin on their faces.
I also hate to say it, but I really felt sorry for Tanahashi here as he made Shibata look like a million bucks but barely got anything back for himself out of it. They seriously have got to stop booking Tanahashi as the underdog who gets flash wins and as the star that they make him out to be.
Tanahashi got in a few good bursts of offense, but for the most part he was just a punching bag to some really stiff kicks from Shibata.Match Rating: ***1/4
IWGP Tag Team Titles: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Shiro Koshinaka & Takao Omori
I bet Omori never thought he’d ever get into the Tokyo Dome since he quit NOAH.
See what happens when you give a match good time to work out? This was nicely done as it made Omori & Koshinaka look really credible as challengers. I found it weird the crowd were rooting for Tenzan & Chono when Omori & Koshinaka were on the offensive, but were rather quiet for most of the champions offense.
The only thing I didn’t get is why Tenzan had to take all the punishment in the match as well as kick out of all of Omori & Koshinaka’s finishers, but Chono would be the one to hog all the glory in the end? Heck, Chono’s performance here was comparable to Yoshinari Ogawa, the way he sat out most of the match, avoided taking any major punishment, but became the hero by scoring the quick pinfall hitting just a few moves total for the whole match. And you wonder why no one in New Japan takes Tenzan seriously as a main eventer.
One thing I hope comes out of all of this is a Tenzan/Omori feud, as they heated it up really well here with some good exchanges, including a fun mid-air collision when both men went for spinning heel kicks at the same time!Match Rating: ***1/2
Tatsumi Fujinami, Osamu Nishimura, Takashi Iizuka, Tohru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Hiroshi Nagao VS Riki Choshu, Takashi Uwano, Kohei Sato, Yoshihito Sasaki, Kamikaze & Daisuke Sekimoto
Fujinami’s entire team is wearing matching black rookie gear. How cute.
The problem with this match obviously was that there were too many people involved for anything to really develop or for anyone to really get in a good showing. There were quick tags and bodies going all over the place in this one.
Fujinami seemed to site out a lot of it, but couldn’t get much going when he was in there anyway, same with Nishimura and Iizuka. Yano taunted Choshu with a Scorpion Death Lock only to get it broken up, Goto had a good exchage with Sasaki and Nagao had an OK showing also, hitting a big chokeslam.
On the other side, Choshu was no-selling everything, including a six-man beat down from the beginning of the match. I haven’t seen Uwano in ages, but he reminded me of a young Kobashi here the way he dressed in orange gear. Uwano hit a nice Urinage which pissed off Iizuka since it’s one of his moves. Sato got the win for his team, but was pretty much lost in the shuffle of having so many guys in the match. Sasaki had a good showing against Goto like I mentioned earlier, Kamikaze hit a great bicycle kick and a moonsault, and all Sekimoto got in was a display of his strength when he German-suplexed both Uwano & Yano at the same time!
Overall, maybe this match would have benefited more from being made an elimination match or a team battle royal.Match Rating: *
Naofumi Yamamoto VS Ryoji Sai
I was really impressed with Yamamoto as he put on a really strong showing here. He’s got some good striking skills going for him and he might become the next Shibata if he works at his skills. He showed good intensity and breaking out from the “Young Lion” mold of just using the basics.
I’m not really big on Sai, but he looked good here as well. Really cool bit being when he stopped “being Mr. Nice Guy”, threw down his mouth piece and showed Yamamoto how to really throw some kicks, leading to a great exchange and a really sick head kick from Sai in the end!
This is the kind of matches they need to use to get the feud between the two over, as well as the inter-promotional war. It’s also good exposure for Yamamoto to see what he can really do when you put him in a heated feud with a fellow youngster, even if Sai has several years experience over him.Match Rating: **
Tiger Mask & Minoru VS Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Tomohiro Ishii
Is it supposed to be Tiger Mask or Black Tiger in this match? Cause the Tiger dude came out all in black & white, which is the colors of the heel Black Tiger ain’t it? I thought he looked kinda sloppy either way.
The match was clipped down a bit, but still looked pretty good from what was shown. There was this one really cool spot where Takaiwa did his triple-powerbomb, but on his last bomb, he lifted up Tiger and passed him to Ishii in mid-air who than drove him down with a brain buster! Tiger & Minoru showed some good teamwork as well, like Tiger hitting a missile dropkick on Ishii into a German-suplex by Minoru.
Strong match overall, and Takaiwa & Ishii make a good power-tandem I’d like to see more of.Match Rating: *1/2
Jushin Thunder Liger, Jado & Gedo VS Masato Tanaka, Kintaro Kanemura & Bad Boy Hidoh
It was a travesty that this match was clipped down to about three minutes! A lot of stuff was missing here. They showed Kanemura splashing Liger through a table, but than cut to Jado laying in a broken table but not how he was put through it. I think Liger & Tanaka had some good exchanges, as they showed Liger giving Tanaka a Liger-bomb. I think CTU got out-rudo’d since there was an army of Apache Pro guys at ringside helping out Tanaka & Co. here.
I really would have liked to see this one un-cut.Match Rating: ¼*Overall:
OK, despite a rather disappointing main event, this was a pretty good show overall and I actually dare say you should check it out. Just try to get your hands on an uncut version instead of the 3hr15minute TV version I watched for this review.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Big Japan Death Match Wars #49
Korakuen Hall 10/14/2005
MIYAWAKI & Yuichi Taniguchi VS Katsumasa Inoue & Hiroyuki Kondo
Now this was a surprisingly good booked match. It was one of those matches where the time went by, and you didn’t notice it! Didn’t hurt that both teams worked well here, and this is probably the best I’ve ever seen of MIYAWAKI in a long time. Taniguchi even kept the comedy down to show some great mat wrestling as well as team work with MIYAWAKI. Taniguchi also did a rare show of strength as he gave both Inoue & Kondo a northern lights suplex at the SAME TIME, and was able to hold them down for a near fall! I also find it interesting that Kondo played the stronger half for his team for a change, but Inoue still looked like the more skilled of the two. An Inoue VS MIYAWAKI tag match would definitely be interesting if it ever came about. Another fun note about this match was that it ended 8 SECONDS short of the time limit!Match Rating: **
Backstage interview with Kasai & Numazawa who are confident in winning the tag titles tonight. The champions are shown next shaking up some protein shakes (complete with comedy music!). Sekimoto says something along the lines of champions drink protein shakes for strength, but Kobayashi is shaking a coke which spills everywhere since he shook up the bottle before opening it! They toast and drink, and were on to the main event!Big Japan Tag Titles – 250 Light Tube Death Match: 045 Junkies (“Kokutenshi” Jaki Numazawa & Jun Kasai) VS Muscle & Heart (Daisuke Sekimoto & Abdullah Kobayashi)
This was the first time I ever saw a death match where the audience literally had nowhere to run to avoid debris from the ring! The fans were literally hit by broken glass here every time someone got whipped into the light tubes lining the ring ropes! Maybe they should have given the fans in the first few rows complimentary goggles for eye protection?!?
The match itself was all the usual insanity you’d expect from the 045 Junkies. And it still surprises me the crazy things these guys are willing to put their bodies through despite the ring mat being covered with broken glass. Kobayashi took it a step further this time when he “powered up” by taking his pants off and finishing the bout wearing a sumo mowashi! Sure I’ve seen Dansyoku Dino take his pants off in DDT before, but have you ever seen a guy in a thong towel do a piledriver on broken glass?!? Or anything that requires you to land on your ass while there’s broken glass everywhere?!?
Sekimoto once again showed a lot of heart here, despite his limited move set which I seem to bring up in every Big Japan review I do. But like I always say, he does the best with what he’s got, and still has one of the best German suplexes I’ve ever seen thanks to his brute strength.Match Rating: ***1/2
Post match, Kasai & Numazawa both strip off their pants and Kasai challenges Kobayashi to a “Sexy Pants For Sexy Pants” Death Match for their next Korakuen Hall show! Unfortunately the match would never come about since Kasai would be diagnosed with an intestinal infection and would be out of action from here on out. Get well soon Crazy Monkey!
Sunday, January 15, 2006
NJPW G-1 CLIMAX 2005 Finals 8/14/2005
Hirooki Goto VS Akiya Anzawa
I’m officially impressed by these two as this was the first Young Lion match I’ve watched that didn’t bore me to fast forward past it. For one thing, these two showed personality, something usually lacking in rookies, and they actually made it more than just a green horn match as they match to get the crowd drawn into it with some standard big moves and close near falls. The only thing I would say actually spoiled this was the lame Young Lion Boston Crab of Doom finisher. Really takes away from what was being built into a really good match.Match Rating: *1/2Takashi Iizuka VS Lizmark Jr
Lizmark put on a ton of tattoos since I last saw him in WCW.
I think the only reason NJPW brought him in is because he’s bigger and can be considered a heavyweight, cause he looked a bit sloppy here. He almost kissed the concrete big time when his feet caught the second rope while trying a suicide dive through the ropes and barely touched Iizuka.
I used to like Iizuka cause he was similar in style to Osamu Nishimura, but he kinda boring here also, not sure if it was his opponent or whatever.
The ending of the match came out of nowhere and looked really weak too.Match Rating: ½*Hiro Saito VS Hangman
Hangman’s gimmick is supposed to be that of an insane asylum escapee who hears voices, but he looks like a really poor version of Abyss, and doesn’t even work anywhere near as good as TNA’s resident monster. He has a nice pump-handle powerbomb finisher, but still seriously looks out of place here.
The match was what you’d call a styles clash as both guys looked rather out of place against each other, but still managed to put on an ok match, with Hiro hitting all his senton spots to pop the crowd.Match Rating: ½*G-1 CLIMAX 2005 Semi Final: Masahiro Chono VS Shinsuke Nakamura
I wasn’t expecting a lot from this one going into to, so I wasn’t really disappointed when it was finally over. Things just moved too slowly for my liking here, and there were a few holes like having Nakamura injure his knee missing the ill nino knee drop, only to no sell the pain minutes later by doing shining enzuguiris and German suplexes.
The ending spot would have also been better if Chono didn’t pause for so long while trying to figure out which leg to put the STF on after reversing the Shining Triangle, and Chono ended up locking it on the wrong leg! But hey, I’m sure no one else noticed.Match Rating: *G-1 CLIMAX 2005 Semi Final: Toshiaki Kawada VS Kazuyuki Fujita
Kawada always has a blank look on his face, but it so looked like he had “lamb being led to slaughter” written on his face this time.
I really hope there are a lot of zeros on that pay check Kawada is getting from this match cause he made Fujita look like a million bucks despite how really awkward all of Fujita’s knee spots were. And what was Fujita waiting for when he turned around and saw Kawada all groggy on his feet? Fujita’s knee strikes just really look weak when compared to Yoshihiro Takayama’s though. Fujita is also probably the first person I’ve seen not go down from Kawada’s desperation closed fist punch.
Kawada did look to give Fujita a lot of trouble here as he was constantly able to pop up to his feet after taking Fujita’s elbow and knee strikes (which was about all Fujita did in the match aside from a front sleeper), but the closing spot was just really weak even if Kawada did sell it like the pro he is, and got his nose busted for it.
This was anything but a dream match as there was next to nothing to live up to that build.Match Rating: *1/2Jushin Thunder Liger, Minoru, Jado & Gedo VS Koji Kanemoto, Tiger Mask, El Samurai & Masahito Kakihara
Wow. Kakihara had his hands on the ropes while the CTU had him in a Cobra Twist, but instead of breaking the hold, the referee walks over to the other side to get Kanemoto back to his corner? Despite the wealth of New Japan junior heavyweight talent in this one, I ended up fast forwarding past it as it was just full of things they’ve done a thousand times in the past already, proving that more isn’t always better.Match Rating: *Minoru Suzuki & Toru Yano VS Osamu Nishimura & Tatsutoshi Goto
So Yano has bad ribs going into this one, and no one thinks of attacking them? Guess only the heels attack weak spots on their opponents, and since Goto doesn’t have the beach blonde hair anymore, he’s not a heel anymore either.
But God bless the backslide at least, as the ending was the only good part since I thought the rest of it was downright boring.Match Rating: 1/2*Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Kendo KaShin VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yutaka Yoshie
I thought this was pretty average also, but seeing Nagata get big Yoshie up in an Exploder and a backdrop-hold was sweet. Everything else was easily forgettable.
Tanahashi is broken goods, Tenzan was boring no matter how hard he tried, and I didn’t find Nakanishi & KaShin’s bickering funny or entertaining. Only Yoshie and Nagata were worth watching here.Match Rating: *G-1 CLIMAX 2005 Finals: Kazuyuki Fujita VS Masahiro Chono
So Chono ripping his tights open to reveal his knee brace is supposed to make his kicks stronger? Maybe it added something to his lame attempt at ground knee strikes, if he didn’t MISS them. And again Chono attacked Fujita’s knee only to end up locking on the STF on the wrong knee!
I hate to say it, but I actually would have preferred Fujita winning since he actually looked more convincing here. Basically, this was your typical New Japan big match main event, which of course doesn’t add up to much. But hey, at least Chono did it for Hashimoto.Match Rating: *Overall:
What does it say about one of the biggest shows of the year for the company when the opener featuring two ROOKIES is actually the best overall match on the ENTIRE show? It just makes no sense that the biggest matches on the card would just whiz by, but the boring filler matches takes so long to sit through. All I can say is at least I didn’t PAY to watch this.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Big Japan Death Match Wars #57
Big Japan’s big year end Yokohama show. Kicks off with a video package highlighting the main event as Abdullah Kobayashi will challenge Ryuji Ito for the Big Japan Death Match Title.Katsumasa Inoue & Hiroyuki Kondo VS Hyoma & MIYAWAKI
Pretty obvious that even though both Inoue & Kondo are being pushed as the future stars of the company, but Inoue is getting the bigger push and looks to be deserving it since he shows more skill and personality, knowing how to play to the crowd. Joined in progress but still looked pretty good if not a little one sided at times. I still think Hyoma deserves a bigger push rather than just being the resident job boy of the company despite his great look. There was a really cool double team spot where Inoue gave Hyoma a tiger suplex off the top off Kondo’s shoulders while Kondo gave MIYAWAKI a piledriver at the same time! Great opener for the show overall.Match Rating: *
Team Apache Pro (Kintaro Kanemura, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Bad Boy Hido & Subaro Inematsu) VS Team Baka Gaijin (Mad Man Pondo, MASADA, Jason Ray & Mad Dog)
Pondo showed a more fun side to himself as he came out as Mad Man Santa! And he actually distributed gifts like toys and teddy bears to the kids in the crowd!
There was a lot going on in this one to keep up with, but I thought it was a crime to not have Kuroda do next to anything in this one! It’s a travesty that they didn’t give Kuroda something to do in the match other than the Tenchan-Cutter but give some one like Hidoh and even a no name hack like Inematsu more to do. Heck, they build up Inematsu to be a unstoppable superman here as he got his head carved by Pondo’s knife, superbombed by the Baka-Gaijin team, smacked in the head with various weapons, and even had Pondo senton a chair on his head, but still managed to come back and win the match with next to no help! Seriously, I wouldn’t mind if it was Hido who did all that since at least he’s more regular in Big Japan and a bigger name even overall.Match Rating: **Scramble Bunk House Death Match: “Kokutenshi” Jaki Numazawa VS Takashi Sasaki
Premise of the Scramble Bunk House Death Match is that there is a shark cage in the ring full of weapons in one corner, with the key hanging on a pole in the other corner to open the cage. Both men start off on the entrance stage and scramble to get to the ring first after a 10 count.
Numazawa doesn’t wait for the 10 count, and immediately tries to take off Sasaki’s head with a CHAINSAW! The match itself was loads of fun as can be expected when you’ve got hardcore maniac Numazawa and the very Tajiri-like Sasaki involved. Sasaki got busted open when Numazawa carved his head with a HACKSAW! Heck, Numzawa even carved Sasaki’s head with a trophy and a seat cushion!
The match also featured two insane spots, one where Numazawa gave Sasaki a hurricanrana off the top of the shark cage onto a ladder (big time OUCH! moment!), and another where Sasaki gave Numzawa a superplex off the shark cage! Numazawa even brought out a HUGE light tube structure (complete with Christmas décor) that was eventually used against him.
Not really as ultra-violent as Numazawa/Kasai or Ito/Sasaki, but still a whole lotta fun to watch.Match Rating: ***1/2
I guess the whole Inematsu push starts to make sense as he confronts Sasaki after the match, something to do with Sasaki not backing up the Apache Pro team or something. Hey, Saburo, if Sasaki was in that match, you probably wouldn’t be on the card at all, so be thankful you ungrateful SOB.Shadow WX & Mammoth Sasaki VS MEN’S Teioh & Daisuke Sekimoto
It’s not as if he’s not over enough, but they still continue to shove Sekimoto down our throats every chance they get. In this case they took Teioh out early with a busted knee so Sekimoto had to carry most of the rest of it taking a beating from his super-heavyweight tandem of Shadow and Mammoth. Sekimoto still has one of the best German-suplexes I’ve ever seen, but he can get pretty boring at times as the only other move he has is a lariat.
Sasaki is good at playing the big power monster role, but despite being the business for 6 years now, he still looks rather green and needs to be carried either by his partner or his opponent.
I really would have preferred if they didn’t go with the “Teioh busts his knee, so Sekimoto carries most of the match” route as I really would like to see more of him when he doesn’t have to put his tag partners over. With a bad knee all he could do was cobra-twists and spinning elbow shots. There wasn’t much for Shadow to do either as it was mostly about trying to get Sasaki over.Match Rating: *1/2
Post match, Sasaki issues a challenge to Sekimoto for his tag titles. Would make more sense if he actually won the match though.BJW Death Match Title – Scaffold Death Match:
Ryuji Ito © VS Abdullah Kobayashi
You had to know that when your wrestling on a scaffold structure that’s only about 3 feet wide that you’ll be very limited to what you can do. So needless to say they managed to get off the structure rather quickly (by Ito tossing Kobayashi down to the ring!) and most of it thereafter was a bloody in ring war full of broken glass and spilled blood everywhere!
Of course the scaffold played a big factor for some big spots, like Ito doing an insane dive out of the ring to put Kobayashi through a table, Kobayashi giving Ito a dangerous Samoan drop off the scaffold to the ring far below, and a wild Dragon Splash by Ito off the scaffold.
There were also a lot of broken glass due to the excessive use of light tubes, and if you ever doubt the tubes are just gimmick tubes, Ito actually brought out a bundle of them that were actually plugged in and switched on before Kobayashi broke it over his head with a head butt!
Despite all the blood and carnage, they even managed to pull off a few wrestling moves, like a chain of suplexes from Kobayashi, and Ito even doing a northern lights suplex on the scaffold. Overall, I don’t think it was as good as Ito/Sasaki or Numazawa/Kasai from earlier in the year, but still really good and brutal what these guys are willing to put their bodies through.Match Rating: ****
Big Japan end the year with a bang as pulled off a great show that sent the fans home really happy, they were even cheering the boss who was doing commentary, and the main event even moved him to tears! The only small complaint I think I would have is if they cut out the Taniguchi tag match with Benkei in it. Still, definately a show worth checking out.
Monday, January 02, 2006
NJPW “Toukon Souzou New Chapter” 10/08/2005
Right off the bat, I’m wondering why they couldn’t air the intro of the show directly instead of having a camera on the giant monitor at the entrance way. It looked really good and would have been nice to have watched it clearly.Riki Choshu & Tomohiro Ishii VS Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Nishimura
The teacher/student tag match. These Japanese fans are really weird; Nishimura comes in and cuts off a Scorpion Death Lock attempt and gets booed, but there’s no reaction for Choshu coming in to try and break up Nishimura’s figure-four attempt! Choshu has got to be loving being “site foreman”, cause he was no-selling moves again and left Ishii to take the brunt of the beating. I don’t get why Ishii, who has at least 3 years experience and some big wins in the indy scene, still works like a green young lion.
I thought this match was ok, but the ending just seem to come out of nowhere.Match Rating: ½*
Zero-One MAX VS NJPW: Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki VS Koji Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue
The Zero-1 ring announcer does the ring introductions! He was also heavily cheering on the Z-1 MAX team from ringside, now that’s the right way to push an inter-promotional war. I think it’s a crime to have Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka as ring seconds and not in an actual match on the card too.
The match itself was a fun fast paced sprint, with lots of good action in it. I just don’t get why Yoshihito Sasaki has to be regulated to be a whipping boy in this match as they just made him look so second rate compared to the New Japan guys. He should be equally on the level with Wataru Inoue since he did win the Tenkai Ichi World Jr. Tournament, and Wataru didn’t even finish the Best of Super Juniors XIII due to injury. They wouldn’t even let Sasaki put two moves together and that ain’t right.
It was still fun watching Takaiwa and Kanemoto trade some hard hits and Takaiwa tossing Inoue around like a rag doll though. I also liked Inoue chaining his Triangle Lancer into a rolling cradle. This match would have been much better if it had more crowd heat.Match Rating: **
Zero-One MAX VS NJPW: Shinjiro Ohtani, Kohei Sato, Ryoji Sai & Kamikaze VS Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Takashi Iizuka, Yutaka Yoshie & Naofumi Yamamoto
Back to the New Japan ring announcer for this one. The referee had a hard time controlling this one since you had eight big guys involved. I really didn’t see any structure to the match cause there was a lot going on with all the brawling and control of the match constantly switching between teams. But it was ok, with everyone getting their spots in. Good to see the Z1M guys were treated better here than Yoshihito Sasaki was in the previous bout.Match Rating: *
IWGP Jr. Tag Team Titles: Negro Casas & Felino VS Minoru & Hirooki Goto
This match is under lucha rules, meaning you don’t have to tag. Ryusuke Taguchi is also seconding the CMLL team since he had been training there recently.
I thought this match was pretty much forgettable with nothing really holding my interest. It didn’t even have that big title match feel to it. I can see the obvious improvements in Goto, like his reverse DVD finisher. Now if only they changed his look so that he actually looked like a champion instead of a rookie (which he is).Match Rating: *
Ex-WWE VS Team Japan: Mark Jindrak & Charlie Haas VS Manabu Nakanishi & Kendo KaShin
Jindrak looks really different, sorta like a bigger Christian Cage, or a bit like Val Venis even. Haas on the other hand looks like James Gibson.
What’s up with the referee backing off and acting like all “don’t look at me, dude!” when Haas tried to complain to him about KaShin twisting his thumb?
This whole match looked like a clusterf*ck. Didn’t find anything interesting here and KaShin is still a d*ck. Why weren’t the ex-WWE guys given any serious offense other than punches and kicks? They looked more like indy-green horns than big time ex-WWE stars that NJPW were pushing them as.Match Rating: DUD.
Ex-WWE VS Team Japan: Matt Morgan VS Yuji Nagata
I found it funny they would compare this confrontation to classics like Inoki-Hogan and Fujinami-Andre. Nagata might be a former IWGP champion, but Morgan is nowhere near the big names Hogan & Andre were back in the day.
I thought the match was OK. Nagata did all he could to carry Morgan to a good match. The match was actually more enjoyable when Nagata was in charge as Morgan was moving rather slowly when on offense. Nagata manage to hit a sloppy Exploder, with Morgan landing on his shoulder due to his size. Morgan did a pretty good version of the Black Hole Slam, and his Mount Morgan Drop finisher is really cool.Match Rating: *1/2
Highlights of IWGP tag team champions Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shinsuke Nakamura training in CMLL, in Mexico. We then get a quick look at their opponents tonight, Toshiaki Kawada and Yoji Anjoh of HUSTLE.
They then play a video to hype the triple-threat main event. They can show a nice video like this to hype the main events, but use a crappy camera angle on the titantron to kick off the show?IWGP Jr. Title & NWA Jr. Title: Black Tiger VS Tiger Mask
This was easily the best match on the show up to this point, and give these two major props for making the match at lest feel important since both their titles were on the line. The crowd was more into this match than anything else so far as they really took it to each other and not holding back, except for that dumb ass referee stopping Tiger Mask from hitting a tombstone off the apron to the floor. New Japan really do need to learn how to do more matches like this where they actually build up something and get the crowd excited with big moves and near falls towards the end.Match Rating: **1/2Yoji Anjoh & Toshiaki Kawada VS Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shinsuke Nakamura
At this point I officially HATE the NJPW commentator, as he seems more excited about the wrestlers walking down the isle than their actual ring work. Pay attention to the actual match, dumb-ass!
Ok, THIS was the best match of the show up to this point. It was interesting seeing Anjoh in a serious match for a change, and you know there’s guaranteed goodness when Kawada is in a match. The match had some good crowd heat going for it thanks to Anjoh’s heel tactics. The only complaint I guess is that Tanahashi worked most of the match and took all the glory too.
What I don’t get is why Tanahashi & Nakamura dragged Kawada back to the center of the ring and started laying into him after the match. Kawada also seemed genuinely confused by this.Match Rating: ***
The only pro-wrestling promoter with an ego that could match Vince McMahon, Antonio Inoki comes out to give his annual speech. Something gets botched on his intro when they were supposed to do something with this monk in the sky box, but his mic wasn’t working, so Inoki had to step out early. I’m not sure, but I think he may have been making fun of the late Giant Baba here, as he mentioned something about him that was followed by a round of laughs.IWGP Heavyweight Title: Masahiro Chono VS Brock Lesner VS Kazuyuki Fujita
I’d already seen this match before, and seeing it again now, I’m still not impressed. Sure it was a good fast sprint match, but it just looked too planned out. It was just redundant the way they kept 2 guys in the ring by having the guy that got knocked out come in and knock out one of the other 2 just to keep it like that. Just too formulatic for my taste. I can understand wanting Lesner to make a big impact on his debut, but world title matches should be competitive and longer than 8 minutes, especially if it’s 3 guys involved.
And of course Fujita now leaves the company having NEVER PUT ANYONE OVER.Match Rating: **
I really hope New Japan can improve things in 2006, and if Brock is going to work full time, that he’s booked like an actual wrestler and not the “squash everyone one in 5 minutes time monster” Fujita was. Brock can WRESTLE, so please let him if you guys are serious about pushing him as champion and not a cheap gimmick to draw a crowd.
As for the overall show, there was good and bad, and a lot of room for improvement. I seriously can’t recommend it though. And for Gods sakes, get a better commentator that actually pays attention to the matches.