This show covers the 3 opening round matches of the CROSSOVER Tour Junior Heavyweight Single League on 6/29/2006. Starting off with the in ring introductions of the participants in the League, and the rules and scoring system to be used. YASSHI goes on a rant afterwards, but everyone ignores him and walks off.Junior Heavyweight Singles League – Block B: Katsushi Takemura VS Virus
Wow. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by Virus. He doesn’t look like much at first glance, but the man can go, and definitely gave Takemura more trouble than he expected, as well as impressing and winning over the Korakuen crowd. He took a nasty bump when his leg clipped the guardrail while giving Takemura a modified flipping armdrag off the corner post outside the ring, but didn’t show any effects from it as he was still able to execute all his spots flawlessly.
I like Takemura, and I wish he’d stick around All Japan more. Despite being on the defensive for most of the bout, but did some impressive moves like a hands-free super top rope frankensteiner and a release windmill suplex. Virus made one mistake and it gave Takemura the chance to hit the M9 (F5, Verdict) for the win.Match Rating: **Junior Heavyweight Singles League – Block A: “Strong” YASSHI VS Ryuji Hijikata
YASSHI drops his pants and officially becomes “Strong” YASSHI! Other than his crotch grab, he actually did try some actual wrestling moves, like the majigatame (octopus-hold) and the cobra twist. He definitely frustrated Hijikata a bit, but Hijikata comes back with a SICK kick to the head to KNOCK HIM OUT for the win! That was seriously one of the best head kicks I’ve ever seen and it just came out of nowhere to shock everyone, including YASSHI himself who was out for a minute or two before getting his senses back and realizing he lost the match.Match Rating: *1/2
(Hijikata’s KO kick alone gets 5-Stars!)Junior Heavyweight Singles League – Block A: TAKA Michinoku VS Kaz Hayashi
The match was clipped down a bit since they went a marathon 28-minutes, with the first 18-minutes being both men targeting body parts and trying for submissions. Kaz relentlessly attacked TAKA’s bad leg and made multiple figure-four attempts, and TAKA attacked Kaz’s neck and made multiple Just Facelock attempts. The final 10-minutes or so of the match was where things got interesting as they both just let it all hang out and went toe-to-toe trading stiff strikes and trying for their pinfall finishers. I liked the closing spot where they traded multiple counters for their finishers leading to Kaz finally hitting the Final Cut for the win. Kaz definitely came out looking the better of the two, and at least TAKA remembered to sell the leg.Match Rating: **1/2Overall:
An enjoyable edition of the battle banquet. I’d like to see more of Virus and Takemura in AJPW, and need I say more about YASSHI getting KO’d? The TAKA-Kaz match was solid and it was good that they didn’t throw it away as a quick match since both men are in the main event scene where junior heavyweights are concerned and they know each other well enough to survive as long as they did against each other.
Mitsuo Momota VS SUWA
This was just too much fun! Haruka Eigen was in SUWA’s corner, and SUWA was wearing all pink like the legend used to. This rivalry had been building up for a while and it was great to see this climax wasn’t relegated to just being a squash match as the fans were crazy for Momota, and the Budokan probably would have erupted if the he had scored the win! SUWA used his usual arsenal of heel tactics to attack Momota at the start, but Momota was able to avoid the John Woo and hit one of his signature backdrop suplexes. Momota almost stole the win with a backslide several times and was able to escape the FFF, but SUWA rallied back and hit a low blow to escape another backdrop. He followed with a STIFF right hand followed by a big lariat for the win.
Things got even better after the match as SUWA continued to beat down Momota and attacked referee Mighty Inoue when he tried to intervene, but Eigen shocked everyone when he turned on SUWA and tripped him off the ropes, leading to Momota hitting the big backdrop suplex! Mighty Inoue and Momota than double teamed SUWA and gave him a double lariat off the ropes followed by a big double suplex to send SUWA scampering from the ring, and the three legends stood in the ring victorious as the crowd was going nuts!
What can I say? I really enjoy Momota’s matches, as he’s like Ric Flair, still able to put on fun matches despite his age. It’s not often that the opening match gets the kind of fan reaction like this one got here either.Match Rating: **1/2
Mohammed Yone, El Oriental & Atsushi Aoki VS Junji Izumuda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Abismo Negro
This one was way better than I expected it to be. The luchadors were fun to watch in the ring, but their spots just look too planned out and not natural in the ring. They did have some impressive moves though, like Oriental’s head stand corner press, and Negro’s modified rolling backdrop combo and his wicked Martinez Special (Kid Kash’s Money Maker double-underhook piledriver) finisher, which he killed Oriental with to win the match!
There were some hot exchanges between the NOAH boys as well, with some great strike exchanges between Kikuchi and Yone, and Aoki had another strong showing with his exchange with Izumuda, where he was able to take down his big senior after they traded Mongolian chops and throat thrusts. A lot of unexpected goodness from this one, which the crowd was really into and cringed at the finish when Negro spiked Oriental with the Martinez Special.Match Rating: **1/2
Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata VS Tamon Honda, Takuma Sano & Kentaro Shiga
They slowed the pace down a bit with this one, but they put on a solid and entertaining effort. There was one really fun bit where Saito hit a release German suplex on Honda, and Honda popped up to hit him with an enzuguiri, followed immediately Honda hitting Saito with the Dead End, and Saito popping up to hit the Sickle of Death! I rather enjoyed the sprint near the end and Kawabata remains a guilty pleasure of mine to watch in NOAH, even if he did drop the fall to Sano’s Northern Lights Bomb.Match Rating: **
Akira Taue & Katsuhiko Nakajima VS Yoshinari Ogawa & Ippei Ota
I was expecting some hot Nakajima/Shiozaki like action when Ota got in Nakajima’s face to start off the match. But instead of speedy high impact offense, Ota used ground work to take out Nakajima’s legs. Taue and Ogawa had minimal ring time in this one, which was not really a bad thing I guess, but I do enjoy watching Taue no sell for the new bloods. The fans were again into it big time for Nakajima and Ota, and Nakajima sort of no-sold all the leg work he received when he was able to come back and hit a beautiful German suplex-hold on Ota for the win. Seriously, Nakajima probably has the best looking German suplex in the business today.Match Rating: **
Mushiking Terry Return Match: Mushiking Terry, El Angel & Taiji Ishimori VS Charly Manson, Psicosis & Mushiking Joker
Psicosis and Angel totally screwed up their timing on the opening exchange, but luckily the match got better from there. Angel looked so green in there at times that the live crowd seemed to be wary of him possibly screwing up again every time he set up for something. Luckily he managed to keep it together. Psicosis (not the original one, mind you) was ok, but looked liked one of those guys that needed to be carried and directed in the ring. Charly Manson, who was given a full single entrance do a song and dance routine to Marilyn Manson’s “Rock is Dead”, was alctualy the most solid and best of all the luchadors I’ve seen on the show so far. I won’t count Joker (Ricky Marvin) since he’s got tons of experience on them and is a NOAH regular. To Manson’s credit, he doesn’t do the speedy high-flying style of most luchadors, and is more power and ground style, which works better since his moves look more calculated and believable even if he does miss-time it a bit. He made the crowd cringe when he dropped Angel with a Vertebreaker for a near fall.
Terry & Joker know each other like the back of each other’s hands, and they always work well together. Ishimori seemed like he had the least ring time in there, but he had some good moments as well. Overall, the kids in the crowd loved seeing Terry back in action, and the live crowd enjoyed the fast paced action of the match when the luchadors weren’t screwing up their spots. I think the ending was a bit anti-climatic with Terry pinning Psicosis with his modified Tiger suplex-hold after a double 619 with Ishimori.Match Rating: ***
Minoru Suzuki VS Go Shiozaki
The usual rookie VS senior match, with Suzuki dominating most of the match stretching Shiozaki with submissions and stiffing him with hard kicks, and Shiozaki with the bursts of offense. Shiozaki sort of surprised everyone when he rocked Suzuki with a hard spinning back chop ala Kobashi, and hit a tope suicida ala Misawa! I also liked the way he used a rolling cradle to set up for the German suplex-hold for a near fall. Suzuki also had an innovative takedown where he dropped back and kicked out both of Shiozaki’s legs and spun out of it into crucifix-hold for a near fall. Shiozaki went down fighting after absorbing slaps and hitting several hard elbows, before Suzuki clamped on the sleeper-hold, flipped him over and slammed him hard on his chest and continued to apply the pressure for the submission win. The crowd was heavily behind Shiozaki as expected, and the match was nicely worked too.Match Rating: **1/2
Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima VS Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA
They knew they had one shot to steal the show before the big main event, and they just might have pulled it off here! All four future aces of the company busted their butts in this one, and KENTA & Marufuji more than smashed through the barrier that the junior heavyweights can hang with the heavyweights! They absorbed the best that each team had to offer, and Rikioh probably pulled off the best last second save of the year as he dashed into the ring shoving a reporter out of the way and barely stopping the count when he kicked the referee out of the way when he rolled into the ring! KENTA and Morishima were the MVPs of the match as well as they have been building a small rivalry for a while now and let it all hang out in the match, and KENTA showed an inhuman amount of strength as he managed to lift up Morishima off his feet several times during the match!
Great pacing, a whole lot of drama and an awesome match overall! Match Rating: ****1/2
Yoshihiro Takayama Return Match: Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama VS Kensuke Sasaki & Yoshihiro Takayama
Takayama may have been out of action for over a year, but the big man hasn’t lost a step! He looked great in there delivering his signature stiff kicks and knees, and even did a small tribute to Kobashi by doing the machinegun chops in the corner! He sold like a true pro for Akiyama & Misawa, and you seriously couldn’t tell that he was out for over a year! It might be a little too late to save his face, but he’s wearing a mouth guard now too.
Takayama worked most of the match, but Sasaki had a solid showing himself when he was in there, the biggest shocker being that Misawa actually backed out of a chop-elbow battle and tagged out after absorbing a few hard chops from Sasaki! There’s still big money in Sasaki in NOAH.
Despite throwing his ever stiff elbow strikes, and sending Takayama into the announce table over the guardrail with a tope, Misawa still seemed a bit lazy in there. Completely showing no reaction when Takayama put him in a cross-armbreaker sure doesn’t help any. Misawa giving Takayama the Emerald Frosion was impressive though.
Being the GHC champion, Akiyama had a strong showing in there and never backed down from Sasaki or Takayama. Akiyama more or less lead the charge on Takayama, attacking his head with multiple knee strikes dropped him several times with Exploders before hitting the wrist-clutch for the win after the Misawa Emerald Frosion.
The match had a good pace to it, and you hardly notice the time go by watching it. But I sort of felt something missing from it unlike the previous match. The whole focus was on Takayama and to show that he could still go in the ring.Match Rating: ****Overall:
Top to bottom, this was actually an overall really good show, and the crowd was into just about everything. WILD II VS KENTA/Marufuji definitely gets the Match of the Night honors, as well as being my pick for Puro Tag Match of the Year unless I see something better.
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Nobukazu Hirai VS Buchanan & RO’Z
This was cut down to about half the match, and mostly showed Nakajima working against Buchanan to carry the match. This is the first time I’m seeing RO’Z in AJPW, and for the short time he was in the match, he seemed to get gassed pretty quickly, though he did manage to score the win over Hirai with a cross-body block off the second turnbuckle. Match Rating: 1/2*
Brute Issei VS Suwama
Suwama of course dominated a lot of this one. And even when Issei had an advantage, he didn’t do anything but stand there and wait for Suwama to take control again! Issei kicks out of release German suplex, but gets put away by a rather weak looking standing lariat that even had the crowd confused when he got the 3 count with it. Issei still has a long way to go in his development, but than again Suwama might have gotten pushed himself a little too soon.Match Rating: 1/2*
Taiyo Kea, TAKA Michinoku & D-Lo Brown VS Minoru Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA
This match mostly teased the rivalry between Kea and Suzuki, building to their eventual Triple Crown match. Suzuki did his usual spots to annoy and agitate Kea, and thankfully he had NOSAWA & MAZADA to keep the match interesting for his team by actually wrestling instead of just mouthing off. MAZADA looks like Ricky Marvin now that he shaved his head bald. The RO&D team showed better team work since they’ve been working together longer, and Kea scored the win for his team hitting a modified TKO on NOSAWA. Suzuki scored a small measure of revenge on the RO&D team after the match by attacking Kea and taunting him though.Match Rating: 1/2*
Hiroshi Hase Retirement Commemoration Match: Hiroshi Hase, Keiji Mutoh & Satoshi Kojima VS TARU, Shuji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI
I still question why Hase’s last matches had to be against the Voodoo Murders, even if they were the top heel team of AJPW at the time. That lead to the match being mostly a big brawl going out to the crowd several times, and Akira Hokuto and Suwama even got involved. But Hase was majorly over with the crowd, getting the biggest pops of the night everytime he was on offense, and was even able to bust out 31-rotation giant swing! Hase definitely has it in him to still put on a good match, since everything he did still looked crisp and well timed, as well as his selling of the VM offense on him. He can still do rather sick looking urinages, where he dropped YASSHI on his head with one before hitting the Northern Lights Suplex-hold for the 3-count.
Keiji Mutoh sat out more of the match than Kojima did, but at one bizarre point, he was able to brawl to the back with TARU, than come back riding a forklift truck with TARU on it, hoisting TARU up high so he couldn’t get involved in the match anymore! Kojima had a solid showing for what time he had in the match, looking like the ace of the company he should be. The Voodoo Murders played up their usual heel tactics as expected, cheating every chance they got, and Suwama even manage to inject himself in the match several times to interfere. There was one fun bit where TARU and Akira Hokuto had a weapons duel between TARU’s pipe and Hokuto’s wooden sword, with Hokuto’s sword actually bending TARU’s pipe!
Obviously this was the best match of the show, but that’s not saying much considering every match involving the Voodoo Murders is almost always the same with all the same cheating tactics leading up to the face team making the comeback and getting the hard earned win.Match Rating: **Overall:
Everything up till the main event was really dull and uninspiring, but I actually found myself fast-forwarding past most of the main event, especially when the Voodoo Murders were on offense with their redundant cheating tactics. They did a good job of showing pre-recorded comments throughout the show from various wrestlers from AJPW and NJPW, but surprisingly none from NOAH even if they did mention Hase’s work with Misawa, Kobashi & Kawada during his AJPW run in the 90’s during the video package of Hase’s pro-wrestling career before the main event.