Haruka Eigen Last Budokan Match: Haruke Eigen, Junji Izumuda & Takuma Sano VS Mitsuo Momota, Tamon Honda & Kentaro Shiga
Eigen comes out on his own after all the other competitors have entered the ring, and strips off 4 layers of t-shirts before throwing them into the audience.
Not a workrate masterpiece in any sense, but entertaining as usual as far as Eigen’s work goes. It was the usual fun comedy bits from the old-timer, including the spit spots and a 18-rotation giant swing on Momota! Shiga even dragged Eigen all the way up the entrance ramp so he could get his spit spot out further into the audience, and his spit spots were shown in super slow mo on the post match replays!
Arigato and sayonara Eigen-san!Match Rating: *SUWA, Low Ki & Mushiking Joker VS Mohammed Yone, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Dakota
This was a rockin’ six-man tag!
You really gotta love the little things SUWA does to get himself over as a bad ass heel without resorting to gang tactics everyone else does to get over. Small things like taking advantage of Dakota not wearing any shoes by stomping on his toes! SUWA is just a natural heel leader. His mini feud with Kikuchi could be gold if they ever give them a singles match down the line.
I’m also impressed by Dakota and his country boy gimmick. He’s a good prospect and I definitely expect some good things from the kid in NOAH in the future. He did the whole opening sequence of the match (brawl, dropkick and plancha to the floor) and his hat didn’t even come off!
I haven’t seen Low Ki in a while, but he was aces to watch here as well. He’s got that natural mean streak and fits well with SUWA as a team. I’d really like to see them team more often, and Ki did one of the sickest Ki Krusher’s I’ve seen in a while.
Despite being a heavyweight, Yone fit in well to this match with the high-speed, high-impact style of everyone else. Yone is definitely one of the future aces of the company.Match Rating: ***Bison Smith, Doug Williams & Nigel McGuiness VS Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata
Another fun and interesting six-man tag match.
McGuiness brought the ROH Pure Title with him, though no mention of it was given by the announce team. I haven’t seen much of his work, but he looked good here and works well with Williams. Nigel even shook hands with the Dark Agents team before the match started, and he showed some interesting and unique offense, like repeatedly slamming Inoue’s head into the mat from a head-scissors position.
I haven’t seen much of Williams’ work either, but he works a similar style to McGuiness and the two really mesh well as a team. It’s too bad he f’d up his GHC tag title reign with Scorpio last year.
It really is a crime that Bison Smith has next to no recognition in his home country of America as he’s got tons of potential. He’s the kind of monster player that you can only get an advantage over by outsmarting him, but man-to-man, he can match power with anyone.
There wasn’t much offense from the Dark Agents team, which might not be a bad thing depending on your view. Saito hit quick and hard, and had a few heated exchanges with Bison. I think these two would put on an interesting singles match if it ever happened.
I thought Inoue was rather entertaining here as well with the bursts of offense he got in. But I really enjoyed watching Kawabata. The man is a guilty pleasure of mine to watch, and didn’t disappoint again this time. He has a nice Axe Bomber lariat and even did the Matrix! Just a shame he’ll never get higher than mid-card and playing job boy in main events.Match Rating: ***Takeshi Rikioh VS Yoshinari Ogawa
Ogawa attacked Rikioh from behind during his entrance to try and get an early advantage, but Rikioh came back and scored a phantom pinfall as the referee counted 3, than noticed Ogawa had a foot on the ropes! The match continues and Ogawa tries for a count out win, but when he dashes back into the ring, he accidentally knocks down the referee, breaking the count! Ogawa tried every trick in the book to get the quick win, but Rikioh battled back with his size and power and hit a big time Muso for the win.
Rikioh may not have had as much offense as you’d expect, but it was good for him the way he took everything Ogawa threw at him and was still able to get up each time and press on for the win.Match Rating: **Naomichi Marufuji VS Akira Taue
Despite a mesh in styles, these two put on a great fun match with Marufuji using his speed to avoid Taue’s power, and to try and keep the former GHC champion off his feet.
They did some fun spots like Taue giving Marufuji a nadoa otoshi into the ring post, as well as Marufuji’s many counters to avoid Taue’s big moves like flipping out of a nadoa-otoshi, stopping the I AM TAUE by catching Taue’s hand in mid-air to prevent the chokeslam, and flipping out of a top rope nadoa otoshi! Taue himself even did a cool counter of a roll-up into a triangle choke!
Despite all those fanciful counters, and Marufuji winning with a modified wrist-clutch small package hold, you really gotta believe that Taue should have won this considering Marufuji is still a junior heavyweight, but the little guy managed to kick out of all the big moves Taue hit him with!Match Rating: ***1/2Takeshi Morishima VS Mitsuharu Misawa
Unlike the Marufuji/Taue match, this was definitely the match that should have had the big upset of Morishima beating Misawa, as Morishima showed a lot of aggression and traded strikes with Misawa by using Vader Hammers! He threw them every bit as stiff as the Mastodon and Misawa was forced to battle back with some stiff elbow strikes of his own! Misawa really brought his A-game tonight as he sold big time for Morishima’s offense, taking some stiff-ass lariats and killer backdrops!
You have to give Morishima A LOT of credit too for working his ass off and showing that potential everyone says he has, as moved unlike that of a 300-pounder and hit a huge diving shoulder tackle off the top rope to the outside on Misawa! Morishima wasn’t even afraid to take a few big bumps, especially the tiger driver off the apron to the floor where his ankle clipped the guardrail!
The way Misawa beat Morishima was even nicely booked, as Morishima kicked out of several big elbow attacks to the point that Misawa actually got PISSED OFF and unleashed barrage after barrage of elbow shots, even shoving off the referee at one point! One of those matches where Misawa looked like he actually had to earn the win instead of being the lazy no-selling veteran of the match, which helped put Morishima over in a big way with the fans cheering him on. Morishima’s time is definitely coming.Match Rating: ****KENTA VS Kenta Kobashi
KENTA was really vocal in this match and brought his little bastard attitude with him against his former mentor. The match was a big back and forth battle with both men hitting all their spots, but Kobashi was given a lot of trouble by KENTA in this one.
However, unlike the other previous matches, this one just felt like it was there and didn’t really add up to much for some reason. They didn’t really do anything new we hadn’t seen before, and Kobashi suddenly bring out the wrist-clutch Burning Hammer out of nowhere with no resistance from KENTA really took the crowd by surprise. Even I was expecting KENTA to escape, but it just didn’t happen. The finish felt rather anti-climatic and the rest of the match also seemed to lack direction. It wasn’t a bad match, it just wasn’t anything special either.Match Rating: ***GHC Jr. Tag Team Titles: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura VS Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita
Take two of the best guys from the indy scene and put them on a grand stage, and they’ll give you your money’s worth!
I haven’t really seen much of Hidaka & Fujita’s tag work, but they put on one heck of a performance here. At first I thought they were going with the overworked finish where one guy absorbs everything the opponent had to give only to come back and take the win, but that wasn’t the case here as both sides gave as much as they took. Hidaka was definitely the MVP of the match as he showed exactly how junior heavyweights should work.
The ending of the match was a bit questionable as it was a referee stop and not a submission that actually ended the match, which of course scored protests from the NOAH side, and not just the junior heavyweights, but even Masao Inoue & Akitoshi Saito got in the referee’s face about the decision. It is a rare thing for a big title match to end on a submission though.
It was still a really strong and solid match, and it’ll be interesting to see what the Skull & Crossbones team can do with the GHC tag titles in the coming months as they were already one of the most decorated tandems in Japan. Heck, the Z1M president at ring side was in tears that his team won.Match Rating: ****GHC Heavyweight Title: Jun Akiyama VS Minoru Suzuki
This match was all about psychology in the beginning, with Suzuki trying to target Akiyama’s bad ribs and Akiyama trying to avoid Suzuki’s submissions. Here’s what the play by play of the match came down to:
- Both guys being extra careful at the start.
- Akiyama gets choked out on the ropes.
- Akiyama drops Suzuki on his head with two big backdrops.
- MiSuzuki shoves the referee down and foot chokes Akiyama.
- Akiyama launches the referee over the top rope and stomps the hell out of Suzuki.
- MiSuzuki grabs Akiyama in a octopus stretch on the top rope.
- MiSuzuki continues attacking Akiyama’s ribs relentlessly with LONG octopus stretch’s in the ring.
- Akiyama hits a big Exploder.
- Akiyama clamps on the King Crab-hold for a LONG time.
- MiSuzuki hits the Gotch-style piledriver for a near fall.
- Both guys start slapping the hell out of each other.
- More slaps.
- More slaps…
- …and MORE slaps!
- Akiyama hits the mother of all wrist-clutch Exploders (Really painful head landing moment)!
- Successful V1 for Akiyama.
It doesn’t seem like much, and they do seem to drag on for a bit, but this was still a rather solid title match which I guess lived up to the hype after all these two have been through in the past. It’d be nice to see how it would have went if Akiyama didn’t have to play the role of injured champion.Match Rating: ****Overall:
Taue should have won, Morishima should have won, and Kobashi/KENTA should have went to a draw. That aside, This was a really strong and solid show, and you have to give props to the production team as they did a really good job of putting in slo-mo instant replays at just the right spots. Get this show!