Show kicks off with Kikutaro in the ring welcoming the fans to show. He gets interrupted by TAKA & RO&D who boot him out and get on with their introductions (I love Buchanan’s wild man gimmick), but they get interrupted by YASSHI & Kondo, YASSHI yapping about his return match tonight. The Voodoo Murders Jr. team leave and RO&D finish their shtick and the show kicks off.Masanobu Fuchi & Shiori Asahi VS Nobutaka Araya & Nobukazu Hirai
Kikutaro accompanies Araya & Hirai, looking all fired up like he’s going to be in action, but is announced as their ring second! I really enjoyed watching Fuchi here, he played up the old-man bit really well as he’d do one body-slam and act like he hurt his back before tagging out, but when he got the hot tag later in the match, he put on a bodyslam clinic slamming Araya & Hirai multiple times and the live crowd loved it! He even managed to hit one of his trademark backdrops on Hirai which looked killer.
Kaientai Dojo youngster Shiori Asahi looked good for what he got in. He resembles Taiji Ishimori, but using baseball gear like Second Doi used to. He didn’t do much of note other than the basics, but he did do a cool ground enzuiguiri to a sitting Araya, the announce team called it a version of the 619.
I really wish they’d push Araya more as a heavyweight contender. It’s fun watching him muscle the little guys and do comedy style matches, but he’s definitely one of the missed opportunities of the company. I loved the part where he gave Asahi a lariat that looked like Asahi hit a brick wall, and the killer powerbomb at the end where he almost lost Asahi due the momentum he had jacking him up, but made it look all the more painful when he slammed him down.
I still can’t dig on Hirai cause the guy is never really given any opportunity to show anything critical, that or he’s another missed opportunity like Araya.
The match overall was short and did the job of being the opener, and there was a bit of a technical blunder after the match when they played Fuchi’s music instead of Araya’s.Match Rating: ½*
Kaz Hayashi & Space Lone Wolf VS Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori
Take one look at Wolf and you can tell it’s NOSAWA, if not because of the tattoos, than because you can see the goth make-up under his mask! All four guys in this match had conflicting styles, but all worked well together and the match was enjoyable, but the ending did feel a bit sudden, and painful too as Ishimori gave Hayashi a high-speed frankensteiner and Hayashi’s head hit the mat pretty hard. Hayashi looked genuinely out cold, and everyone also looked concerned as they checked on him. It was short, but still a strong match I’d say.Match Rating: *1/2
Arashi, AKIRA & Ryuji Hijikata VS TAKA Michinoku, Taiyo Kea & Buchanan
The cameraman actually fell down the entrance steps as RO&D made their entrance!
This was also a fun match and I liked the exchanges between AKIRA & Kea. The worked well together with some good exchanges and didn’t play off like a heavyweight VS light-heavyweight meeting. Kea is also back to wearing regular tights like back in his early Mossman days.
Hijikata is another really under-rated worker and he has some really fun exchanges with the much bigger Buchanan. I really would have liked to have seen Hijikata get Buchanan up in the fisherman’s buster, but it was killer watching Buchanan power out of a triangle-choke and turning it into an iron-claw bomb!Match Rating: *
Flashback to 9/18 when the Voodoo Murders attacked yet to debut rookie Brute Issei, and Kohei Suwama ran in to make the save, putting YASSHI in an ankle-lock that legitimately injures YASSHI putting him on the shelf. YASSHI gets in Fuchi’s face during another event and lobbies for a match against Suwama and gets it, leading us to the next match.“brother” YASSHI Return Match: Kohei Suwama & Akira Raijin VS Shuji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI
Kondo & Raijin were really an afterthought in this one, as the whole thing was just YASSHI & Suwama going at it! YASSHI tried to sneak attack Suwama at the beginning and was acting all cocky till Suwama caught him in a quick ankle-lock! Kondo didn’t help things when he tried to enter the ring with a chair and the referee tried to hold him back, leaving YASSHI to suffer in the hold even longer! Suwama finally released the hold, and YASSHI tried to take advantage and attack Suwama with the chair Kondo brought in, trying to Suwama’s ankle with it till the referee was able to get rid of the chair.
Suwama came back with a sick lariat and dead-lifted YASSHI off the mat with a belly-to-belly suplex! Oh yeah, Kondo and Raijin were brawling out on the entrance ramp while all this is going on. Suwama than tried to dead-lift YASSHI into a German, but the little guy managed to reverse it into an ankle lock! But Suwama is able to flip it into an ankle lock of his own again, and with Kondo out on the ramp and nobody to save him, YASSHI taps out in short order! YASSHI yells something on the mic along the lines of not taping out and this didn’t mean anything before stomping out with Kondo.
Ok, this wasn’t a technical masterpiece or anything, but it was really fun and told a good story of YASSHI having the balls to try and take on the bigger man, which the crowd loved. Suwama’s star is on the rise, so there isn’t any shame in a junior heavy like YASSHI losing to him. And it’s a given rule that the returning wrestler always loses his return match.Match Rating: *1/2
Akebono VS Giant Bernard
By no means was this a mat classic of any sort, but it was still rather fun to watch the two big lugs go at it. The match had more than it’s fair share of awkward miss-timed moments, surprisingly mostly from Bernard, but I’ve always enjoyed super-heavyweight matches. Bernard couldn’t slam or suplex Akebono, but he was able to get him up in a big backdrop suplex. The crowd was even cheering for Bernard at one point!
Akebono isn’t the greatest worker in the world by far, but I thought they used him well here, the way he mixed his sumo style with what limited pro-wrestling knowledge he has. He gave Bernard a good chokeslam, and a Banzai-Drop that the late Yokozuna would have been proud off. I still don’t think the 64 (named after the fact ‘Bono is the 64th sumo to reach the rank of Yokozuna) is a good finisher, but I guess it makes sense since he drops his 500lbs frame onto his opponent to knock the wind out of them. I kinda liked the Black Hole Slam / Scrap-Buster he did at the New Japan Tokyo Dome show as it looked a lot better, but would probably be harder for him to do on larger opponents like Bernard.Match Rating: *1/2
Jamal & D-Lo Brown VS Bubba Ray & D-Von
The meeting of four ex-WWE workers, and they have worked together before so they all still clicked here. Everyone got to do their thing, but I don’t think the ending of the match went as planned as Team 3D had a table set up in the ring, but D-Lo & Jamal had control. D-Lo set D-Von up on the top rope and re-adjusted the position of the table, this worked against D-Lo as when he tried to frankensteiner D-Von through the table, D-Von countered it into a powerbomb, only D-Lo missed the table and the back of his head barely grazed the edge of it, and you know these Japanese tables don’t break easily like they do in the States! D-Lo seemed to be legitimately hurt as he lay holding his head and medics and officials attended to him.Match Rating: *
Great Muta VS Great Ruta
I thought this would be a train wreck, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It started off interesting, with both men trading mist attacks. Then they did all the senseless out of ring brawling stuff, which lead to Muta hitting a Shining Wizard on Ruta out on the rampway which lead to Bernard coming out and beating down Muta. Back in the ring, Ruta hit a pretty good moonsault, but over does his flip a bit and lands awkwardly on Muta’s face knees first.
Muta manages a comeback, and puts Ruta in a figure-four. Ruta tries to club Muta with a pipe to break the hold, but Muta mists him! Ruta retaliates by throwing FIRE in his face! This leads to Ruta taking out the ref and the Voodoo Murders raiding the ring and trying to put Muta in a body bag when the lights go out! After awhile, we have Great Bono in the ring! He mists Bernard, taking him out and Muta clears the ring before hitting the moonsault on Ruta for the win while Bono looked on. They posed for a bit before leaving.
The match looked passable when both men were actually trying to work instead of doing “Muta spots”. TARU actually looks good in the face paint though.Match Rating: *
“The Lariat” Stan Hansen comes out as the representative for the PWF for the Triple Crown main event. Fitting since the primary finishers of both men involved are lariats! AJPW Triple Crown: Satoshi Kojima VS Kensuke Sasaki
I heard this match was a hard hitting affair, much like Kojima’s match with Kawada where he won the title. Started off with them feeling each other out, but then they start throwing chops and strikes which leads to the obligatory out of ring brawl. This is where things got interesting as Sasaki dominated Kojima here; slamming him hard on the mat with a powerslam and dropping him with a Northern Lights Bomb! I like Sasaki’s clubbing short lariats he did to Kojima, reminded me of Vader’s hammer punches. They did this one spot where Kojima countered two lariats by Sasaki into Koji-Cutters, followed by Sasaki countering two lariats by Kojima into a release German and a full nelson suplex. Kojima did this cool rolling DDT move that ended in a brainbuster. Than they did the big battle of the lariats thing, which Sasaki won at first and hit the NLB for a near fall. Kojima sprung back to life and hit three hard lariats for just a ONE count, followed by a sloppy fourth to finally pin a still struggling Sasaki. Note to Mutoh, try selling your champion’s finisher like Sasaki did here to make Kojima more credible!
Sasaki still looked superior in my opinion, and Kojima seriously needs something stronger for a finisher if he’s always going to need more than one to put his opponent away. It almost looked as if Kojima got lucky here, but it was still a very strong contest even if I did feel they should have given it about 5 more minutes.Match Rating: ***1/2
An enjoyable show from top to bottom with the only real problem being the short length of some of the matches. There’s still a lot of variety here and definitely recommended to check out.