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.