I really liked the cute way they opened the show with a shot of a snowman on the balcony of the Budokan before we go to the action inside.Haruka Eigen & Kishin Kawabata VS Mitsuo Momota & Kentaro Shiga
The fun from this match mostly came from Eigen & Momota, I just never get bored of them and it’s always good for a pop when Eigen gets in some big offense like countering a suplex from Shiga into a wakigatame arm bar, or hitting a backslide for a near fall and hitting a good DDT on Shiga! And of course there are the spit spots.
I’m guessing Shiga has to be wondering when the heck he’ll get his push back instead of jobbing all the time like he’s a greenhorn.Match Rating: 1/2*Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Tsutomu Hirayanagi VS Takuma Sano, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Dakota
Hirayanagi is a small little guy, but looks like he can still grow and bulk up. But he definitely made an impressive showing for his Budokan debut. Much like Go Shiozaki, Hirayanagi was given a strong showing where he did more than just take punishment from his seniors, but was able to show his potential as he was able to counter Kanemaru’s brainbuster into a snap suplex of his own, countering an Irish whip on the outside sending Kanemaru into the guard rail, hitting a nice fisherman’s suplex for a near fall and hitting a good, but slow, missile dropkick. He even managed a few near fall kick outs on his own.
Dakota is the American who “won” a shot to train in Japan when Kobashi was in America back in October 2005. His gimmick is that of a barefoot hillbilly. I expected him to be an active loudmouth comedic worker, but he turned out to be a pretty good technical wrestler in the opening moments and pulled out some good moves like a twisting missile dropkick, a big diving crossbody where he screamed “whoohoo!” as he dove, and a big frogsplash where he screamed “yeehaw!” or something like that. Kind of what I expect from him, to be more vocal on offense. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but he also hit a brutal DDT out of a Diamond Dust corner flip. This kid could probably be challenging for the junior title in a year or two.
Other than the rookies given good time to show their stuff, there were some really good and heated exchanges between Sano & Saito. A singles match between the two would be fun. GHC Jr. tag champ Kanemaru was in there primarily to be the man to stiff Hirayanagi throughout the match and didn’t really do much other than bossing the youngster around.
So overall it was a good match that did what it was supposed to do, and that’s get the rookies some big time exposure. I have no doubt Hirayanagi will turn out great in a year or two like Shiozaki has, and I’m definitely interested to see more of Dakota.Match Rating: 1/2*Daisuke Ikeda & Tamon Honda VS Yoshinari Ogawa & Shiro Koshinaka
I thought this one ended on a rather anti-climatic note since it was actually getting rather entertaining towards the end. There was actually quite a bit of fun comedy bits in this one, like Ikeda typing up Koshinaka in a Paradise Lock and then punching away at his iron ass! There was also a fun bit where Ogawa caught Ikeda’s kick and then tossed his leg to the referee, leaving Ikeda open while the referee was holding his leg! They also did a funny spot where Ogawa kicked Honda in the head and hurt his leg instead. Why do they only bring up Honda’s hard head for comedy spots now anyway?
Ikeda looks sure don’t age well, but at least he can still go, and the same goes for Koshinaka when he’s fired up. I really would have liked for this match to go a little longer.Match Rating: 1/2*Minoru Suzuki, Scorpio & SUWA VS Takeshi Morishima, Mohammed Yone & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
Now this one was really short, but it was fun seeing SUWA & Suzuki butt heads since they couldn’t get along, chopping each other as tags and trying to one up each other by beating down Yone. But they did manage to get it together a bit at the end when SUWA hit the John Woo into Suzuki’s Gotch-style piledriver into Scorpio’s 450’ Splash.
The only other fun bit in the match was the battle of kicks between Yone & Scorpio at the beginning. Kikuchi got some good offense in including a nice German suplex and the Fireball-bomb, but Morishima did NOTHING in the match other than a lariat. Definitely wasted potential in this match, but I’d like to see SUWA & MiSuzuki team again as it I like watching the tension between them.Match Rating: *Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Mushiking Joker VS Mitsuharu Misawa, Takashi Sugiura & Mushiking Terry
I thought it was weird that Mushiking Terry came out by himself first, followed by Team Kensuke and than Misawa & Sugiura. And we got Yoshihiro Takayama doing guest commentary!
Now this was a fun match from start to finish, starting off with a fun elbow-chop battle between Misawa & Sasaki. Misawa for the most part didn’t do much, but he did more than usual by selling Sasaki & Nakajima’s offense well. Compared with Terry, I’m also more impressed by Mushiking Joker/Ricky Marvin since everything he does is speedy and high impact. Funny also how Sasaki wouldn’t pair off with Terry since he’s a fan of Terry!
I think the only drawback is we didn’t get to see more of Sugiura in the match, even if he had some good exchanges with Joker & Nakajima, I would have liked to see him square off with Sasaki a bit, and not just counted as a junior heavyweight.Match Rating: **1/2Akebono & Takeshi Rikioh VS Kenta Kobashi & Junji Izumuda
First off, Akebono is HUGE compared to Kobashi! And after a few chops which ‘Bono shrugged off, Kobashi tried unsuccessfully to half-nelson him! ‘Bono was no selling the chops earlier, but later on Kobashi would chop him to the point that he couldn’t even stand up! No doubt the highpoints of this match was the Kobashi/’Bono exchanges, which left me a bit disappointed we didn’t get any kind of a sumo challenge between ‘Bono & IZU since the match was based partially on IZU’s sumo background. I liked it that Izumuda got one highpoint in the match where he Mongolian chopped and head butted ‘Bono to the point that he managed to down the big man, and they actually had a short “Izumuda” chant going after Izu hit a tope suicida on ‘Bono! The ending of the match even made sense the way the bigger team knocked the wind out of both Kobashi & Izumuda, leading to Kobashi being unable to make the save during the closing pin. The combined splash finisher of Rikioh & Akebono was really cool to watch too, and they even did a fun spot earlier in the match where ‘Bono stood on both Kobashi & Izumuda at the same time, than Rikioh mounted Akebono to add to the weight pressuring down on their 2 opponents!
Fun match, and the ending lead to the potential of a future singles battle between Kobashi & Akebono later down the line.Match Rating: **1/2GHC Junior Heavyweight Title: Naomichi Marufuji VS KENTA (C)
Except for one blown spot, this was an EXCELLENT match and a prime example of how to do a title match with two of your best talents. These two hit each other with just about everything and neither didn’t back down for anything. There were probably a hundred kicks thrown between the two, and Marufuji even hit KENTA with a Busaiku Knee Kick! Other fun spots were KENTA’s amazing top rope Falcon Arrow where he leapt up to the turnbuckle to catch Marufuji and deliver the move PERFECTLY, Marufuji’s SICK apron-to-floor Shiranui, and KENTA’s top rope fisherman’s buster!
Early reports said this match was everything from awesome to overated, and I’d honestly have to go with the former on this one! Definitely an early Match of the Year contender!Match Rating: ****1/4GHC Heavyweight Title: Jun Akiyama VS Akira Taue (C)
The main story of the match was Akiyama constantly attacking Taue’s head with running knee attacks throughout the match, but Taue put up a spirited fight and the fans were still heavily behind him. The pace started off slow, but picked up towards the end as they unloaded with the big moves, including Taue giving Akiyama a nadoa otoshi off the rampway to the floor, and almost dropping Akiyama on his head with a dangerous powerbomb for a near fall. I thought it was a strong match, I only was too big on the ending as it felt a little anti-climatic.Match Rating: ***1/2Overall:
I thought this was a strong show overall. Nothing really memorable in the undercard, but was still enjoyable. The two special attraction tag matches were really good and the two title matches closed off the show on a high note. Definitely recommended viewing here.