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.