Puroresu Show Reviews
Reviews of puroresu shows in my collection
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
NOAH “Navigate for Evolution – Haruka Eigen Sayonara Tour” 3/05/2006
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!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
NJPW “New Year’s Gold Series” 1/26/2005
I guess it really shows my devotion to NJPW when it takes me this long to get around to watching one of the first shows of 2005?Yujiro VS Akiya Anzawa
Quick match, started with a lot of amateur mat grappling before some stand-up, and Yujiro wins with a bizarre spinning Reality Check-like slam. What the heck is up with Yujiro’s porn type entrance music?Match Rating: ½*Hiroshi Nagao VS Hirooki Goto
Clipped down. Nagao dominates with his size and power, but Goto sneaks in a quick Minoru Special for the submission win.Match Rating: ½*Naofumi Yamamoto VS Tatsutoshi Goto
This was before Yamamoto became a Shibata wannabe, but the attitude was definitely there as he took it straight to Goto, and paid the price when Goto showed his “original heel style” and brutalized the kid with chair attacks outside the ring before ending it with a sweet backdrop for the win..Match Rating: ½*Taiji Ishimori & Ryusuke Taguchi VS Tiger Mask & El Samurai
Fun Jr. tag match with a good quick pace to it. The fans were way into the underdog rookie team, and their support paid off when Taguchi scored a big upset pinning Samurai with a hurricanrana. Gotta give NJPW credit for booking Taguchi to get over more than the already established Ishimori, but it’s kind of sad they don’t book Ishimori anymore since he’s a great talent also.Match Rating: **Jushin Thunder Liger VS Katsushi Takemura
A lot of animosity between these two, and rightfully so since Liger stole Takemura’s role as leader of CTU and kicked him out of the faction he started! Despite some bursts of offense from Takemura, this was a really one-sided match as he got brutalized by Liger with a piledriver out on the floor that busted him open, taking a Liger-bomb, a top-rope fisherman’s buster, and a standard brainbuster before Liger finally put him away with his new Crash Thunder Buster finisher, which is a atomic-drop facebuster. Give Takemura credit for the strong showing, but it really degrades him back to young-lion status when the only offensive move he got in the match was a Dragon-sleeper.Match Rating: *1/2Jado & Gedo VS Koji Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue
A good junior tag title match, though I don’t think it was as good as the one earlier in the show. Inoue pulled off the upset making Gedo tap to the Triangle Lancer, and this set up the Jr. tag title match later down the line where Kanemoto & Inoue won the titles.Match Rating: *1/2New Japan VS Black New Japan 5X5 Elimination Single Match Series:
Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Osamu Nishimura & Togi Makabe VS Masahiro Chono, Manabu Nakanishi, Mitsuya Nagai, Minoru & Harry SmithMatch #1: Harry “Bulldog” Smith VS Hiroshi Tanahashi
The match was heavily clipped down, and rightfully so from what I saw. The thing that bothers me with the booking for these single match series challenges is why the heck the wrestlers would want to take their time to wear down their opponent when they know if they win they have another match coming up next? They should be looking to end the match as soon as possible and not drag it out like they did here. They only decided to pick up the pace in the last 3 minutes, but even then Tanahashi just seemed like he couldn’t be bothered to put the effort in. Smith was ok, but obviously green.Match Rating: ½*Match #2: Minoru VS Shinsuke Nakamura
Minoru had the right idea at the beginning going right after Nakamura, and attacking his arm constantly throughout the match hoping to make the former IWGP champion tap to the Minoru Special. But Nakamura was able to fight through the pain and get the win with the Shining Triangle.Match Rating: *Match #3: Shinsuke Nakamura VS Mitsuya Nagai
The last time they had one of these Series, these two had the best match of the night. And it seemed to be heading in that direction again here as Nagai went straight at it with Nakamura again. Unfortunately after some good exchanges, they decided to battle it out on the outside, leading to Nagai winning by count out. Match Rating: ½*Match #4: Mitsuya Nagai VS Togi Makabe
You gotta give it to these two here, as the two most under-rated guys in the company put on the best match of the night to this point. After a quick brawl out into the audience, they brought it back in the ring where they laid into each other with heavy stiff strikes and tried to wear each other out. Makabe was able to survive a Stretch Plum from Nagai and rallied back with a big King Bomber lariat for the win.Match Rating: **Match #5: Togi Makabe VS Masahiro Chono
Smart move by Makabe to go after Chono right at the start before Chono could even disrobe! Makabe battered Chono for a good portion of the match, attacking his back and shoulder, unfortunately it only took Chono FOUR MOVES to beat Makabe! An atomic drop, a Yakuza Kick, a Shining Yakuza kick, and the UGLIEST small-package hold ever!Match Rating: ½*Match #6: Masahiro Chono VS Osamu Nishimura
This was also rather entertaining as Nishimura was running circles around Chono for the most part, hitting hard with European uppercuts and submission locks like the cobra twist. They even did an old-school criss-cross ropes run where Nishimura caught Chono with the cobra twist the first time, but the second time Chono was able to shoulder block down Nishimura. They than brawl to the outside where Nishimura locks on a figure four and both men get counted out!Match Rating: **
Nishimura asks for a restart, and the fans agree. The referee says no, but for some reason gives a 2 count when Chono & Nishimura brawl, and Chono gets a backslide on Nishimura! They finally clear the ring and we’re down to our last match in the series.Match #7: Manabu Nakanishi VS Yuji Nagata
Two guys who know each other very well, which is lucky for us since they put on the best match of the show to close it out! Great back and forth action first with Nakanishi in control, hitting a huge lariat off the top followed by a big spear and a lariat for a near fall. Nagata battled back with strikes and an Exploder, before scoring the flash pin with a reverse-Nagata-Lock III to win one for NJPW and send the fans home happy.Match Rating: ***1/2Overall:
Not really anything outstanding, but still a lot of good wrestling to watch in this one. Now I’m going to go take a nap.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Big Japan Death Match Wars #43
Korakuen Hall 8/28/2005 – Part 1
We begin this episode with a press conference from earlier in the week at the Big Japan dojo and the announcement of the 3-way tag death match. We get comments from the 3 teams involved and are then treated with a look at how the BJW tag champions are training for the match. First we see Abdullah Kobayashi pulling a mini-car, with Sekimoto in the driver’s seat, than we see both tag champions pulling the huge BJW equipment truck, all with the comedy music in the background! “Macho Man” by the Village People than starts playing as the tag champs flex and pose for the press! I love this stuff!Katsumasa Inoue & Hiroyuki Kondo VS Mammoth Sasaki & MIYAWAKI
What I thought would just another standard Team Wakagumi (Inoue & Kondo) tag match turned out to be a really, REALY strong match! Inoue & Kondo continue to show their growth, with Inoue starting off with a really heated elbow strike battle with MIYAWAKI, where he seemed to channel Misawa as he launched a barrage of stiff elbows before slamming MIYAWAKI with a half-hatch suplex. Surprisingly we got to see more of Kondo this time around, and he definitely looked good matching speed with MIYAWAKI and bumping for Sasaki. Kondo even got to show some power for a change when he manage to bodyslam the much bigger Sasaki, and hit a good, if rather hesistant looking, swanton bomb. Surprisingly, Inoue & Kondo even managed to get that cool superplex/piledriver combo on their opponents here, with the huge Sasaki being the guy getting superplexed!
It was good to see Sasaki actually work more here, being the big power guy that both Inoue & Kondo had trouble with. He surprisingly worked well with MIYAWAKI too, as they had some good team work, including a cool neckbreaker-powerbomb combo which almost won the match for them. I was really impressed by MIYAWAKI here actually. He did this cool move where he hit Kondo with a low dropkick while he gave Inoue a Samoan drop!
Like I said at the beginning, this was a really strong back and forth tag match with both teams not holding back. And even better still, it ended in a time limit draw!Match Rating: ***3-Way Tag Death Match: Ryuji Ito & Takashi Sasaki VS 045 Junkies (Jaki Numazawa & Jun Kasai) VS Muscle & Fat (Abdullah Kobayashi & Daisuke Sekimoto)
I just watched one of these this morning, and this one was surprisingly better! Maybe because this was when Kasai was still around? Or maybe cause after the initial brawl into the audience bit, everyone worked on all cylinders to make this a really fun broken glass brawl! But I still think it’s rather dangerous to do a broken glass death match when the ring is in such close proximity to the audience.
Ito & Sasaki again worked well despite being ex-rivals, finding all sorts of ways to break light tubes onto their opponents by kicking them, as well as Ito doing his ever impressive Dragon Splash onto light tubes! Sasaki was even able to hit an Emerald Frosion onto light tubes.
In the middle of all this broken glass mayhem, Kasai & Numazawa saw fit to power up by stripping down to their sexy pants! And they had things going their way for a while, hitting a stereo senton bomb/Pearl Harbour splash! But the sexy pants would backfire on them as Ito & Sasaki would stuff light tubes down their pants before breaking them with a chair shot! Broken glass in your skivvies can’t be good!
The tag champions again were heavily targeted by the other teams, but held their own pretty well as they threw out some fun tandem offense, like dual throat jabs and elbow drops. They even did the wild double sky-high slam out of the corner to Ito & Sasaki, who superplexed Numazawa off the top and the 3 of them all crashed onto several bundles of light tubes! The champions even did a good job of watching each other’s back like good tag champions should, especially during the finish when Sekimoto spreared Ito, Kasai & Numazawa off the mat as they tried to stop Kobayashi from doing a diving elbow drop off the top rope!
A really great match overall with six of the best in Big Japan!Match Rating: ***1/2Overall:
Only two matches on this episode, but both matches rocked Korakuen Hall big time! Highly recommended!
Big Japan Death Match Wars #51
10/27/2005Katsumasa Inoue VS Saburo Inematsu
A good competitive match to kick off the show. Inematsu is an Apache Pro guy who’s currently getting a push as more of a hardcore style worker compared to the mat work he does here. He’s not a bad worker, but I just don’t dig his look as he looks like someone’s uncle rather than a pro-wrestler. Another comparison would be he looks like a smaller version of Bad Boy Hidoh. He looked ok here but nothing really outstanding save for a running double-sledge attack.
Inoue continues to shine and I like seeing him in this singles match environment as he gets to show more. He still needs to work on his moveset, but he’s still young with plenty of chances to pick up and learn new stuff. I’d really like to know how he does those loud thumping head butts though.Match Rating: *Hardcore Match: Shadow WX & Mammoth Sasaki VS Bad Boy Hidoh & Jason Ray
Seriously, what is up with Hidoh always attacking and abusing one of the commentators? Did the guy knock up Megumi Kudo or something? I just don’t get the purpose of it. Is it supposed to show what a bad ass Hidoh is for picking on a guy that can’t fight back? That’s one of the reasons right there why I’m not big on Hidoh. Seems like he likes to hype himself too much. He smeared Shadow’s blood over the guy’s face this time, and chased him off with a barb-wire bat after the match. Maybe he’d be a better wrestler if he put as much effort into his ring work?!?
US indy worker Jason Ray really didn’t do anything special here, other than putting on a leopard print bandana and emulating a Jimmy Snuka chop followed by a Jake Roberts DDT, which was acknowledged by the commentary team. He ended up dropping the fall to a nasty Shadow WX brainbuster.
WX & Sasaki continue to work well together it seems as they build to their tag title challenge, but wasn’t really much of note here. I really would like to see Sasaki do his airplane spin into a powerbomb finisher he used to do back in FMW though.Match Rating: *
Backstage for comments from Ryuji Ito & Takashi Sasaki regarding the 3-way tag main event. Both of them seem ready and confident.
Next up it’s Kobayashi & Sekimoto at the announcers table from earlier in the day, complete with comedy music! Sekimoto asks Kobayashi about the main event tonight, Kobayashi replies something that gets Sekimoto laughing, Kobayashi walks off and Sekimoto does his muscle pose before leaving the announce table.
Backstage again and Dark Angel Numazawa introduces us to his new partner replacing Jun Kasai: MEN’S Teioh! Teioh tries imitating Kasai, and the segment ends with both men laughing like psychotic killers!3-Way Tag Death Match: Ryuji Ito & Takashi Sasaki VS Abdullah Kobayashi & Daisuke Sekimoto VS MEN’S Teioh & Jaki Numazawa
Two sections of the ring ropes are lined up with light tubes, and Kobayashi & Sekimoto’s tag titles are not on the line here.
I’m guessing Teioh hasn’t done a death match in a while since he was the only guy in the match still wearing a shirt. But Teioh was easily the MVP of the match as he gave the standout performance here. You even forget that he’s teaming with Numazawa since I’m used to seeing Numazawa with Jun Kasai. Teioh had this cool variation of the VanDaminator where he tossed light tubes at his opponents, followed by a roaring elbow smash! He even did a rolling cradle to Ito on the ring mat covered in broken glass, and one of the coolest spots of the match was when he did a Miracle Ecstasy chokeslam to Ito onto Sekimoto with a batch of light tubes between them!
Kobayashi & Sekimoto seemed to have a big bulls eye on them since they were the tag champions, even if their titles weren’t on the line here. Sekimoto did this cool spot where he used his strength to dead lift Teioh out of a pin into a German suplex! The biggest spot of the night I guess would have to be when Kobayashi & Sekimoto did a double sky-high chokeslam to Ito & Sasaki, who double super-plexed Numazawa off the top at the same time!
There wasn’t much from Ito and Sasaki here, even if Ito did do some mad Dragon Splashes and Sasaki has a tendency to kick light tubes into his opponents. For the most part it just seemed like they were there to fill in the gaps I guess.
Numazawa was the bump machine as usual, but he worked well with Teioh, and in fitting tribute to his good friend Jun Kasai, scored the win for his team with a Pearl Harbour senton splash, complete with goggles, onto Sekimoto with a batch of light tubes on him!
This was a fun match overall, and really a tribute to Jun Kasai who is currently out of action due to an intestinal infection.Match Rating: ***1/2
Post match, again in tribute to Kasai, Numazawa & Teioh strip down to their sexy pants!Overall:
Great main event to an ok show.
Monday, March 06, 2006
NJPW “Circuit 2006 cceleration 2/19/2006
Koji Kanemoto VS GENTARO
Wow. I’m officially convinced that the only reason Kanemoto re-news his contract every year after a lot of teasing is because he knows if he goes to other promotions after leaving NJPW that a lot of people out there would like beat the crap out of him like he likes to do to outsiders. It’s no big secret he tends to stiff outsiders harder than usual, and this was just another squash for Kanemoto. Poor GENTARO. Young lions get in more offense than he did here, and he took one nasty kick right in the face even, where as Kanemoto sold NOTHING, not even an eye-rake! Pointless match, unless it was NJPW’s way of saying, “please stick with us, and we’ll feed you more indy workers you can kick around to show what a tough guy you are.”Match Rating: DUDJushin Thunder Liger, Jado & Gedo VS Kintaro Kanemura, Bad Boy Hidoh & Tetsuhiro Kuroda
Kudos to the production team for actually keeping a camera on Kanemura & Jado as Kanemura was sticking a screwdriver or something in Jado’s head to cut him open!
Interesting to see CTU get out-rudo’d by a team who’ve been doing it for over a decade already. And Liger almost had his masked ripped off, but we still got a good glimpse of his face underneath.
Match basically started off as a big brawl, then the Apache Pro team work on Gedo’s injured ribs a bit in the middle, than a high sprint with both teams trying to get the win, with some good exchanges and near falls before “injured” Gedo scored the win with his Superfly splash.Match Rating: *Togi Makabe & Toru Yano VS Takashi Iizuka & Naofumi Yamamoto
The match was a see-saw battle. When Yamamoto was in, the heels were in charge, when Iizuka was in, the faces were in charge. Nothing really outstanding on the teamwork side as they mostly worked as individuals, with only a few tandem moves from Makabe & Yano, which cost them the match at one point when Yamamoto ducked a lariat from Makabe and Yano got clobbered, leading to the two arguing, Makabe giving Yano a German suplex and then walking out on him, leaving an opening for Yamamoto to hit a big backdrop for the win.
I like that Yamamoto is getting a push and is moving along quite nicely in his development. It’s always better to give the young lions a persona instead of just throw them in at each other and trade basics.
Iizuka was more fired up than usual and he threw a few good looking Exploders.
I like seeing Makabe back in action, he’s under rated, like Tomoaki Honma is in AJPW. Despite a bandaged ankle, he still moved well and delivered his signature power moves like the lariat and the brainbuster.
I thought Yano wearing the rookie black tights at the Tokyo Dome on 1/04/06 was a one time deal since he was part of Fujinami’s team and everyone on that team were wearing the same gear. So Yano goes from being a don’t-give-a-damn cheater, to a bad ass, to a rookie with an attitude? At least he didn’t work like a young lion and showed some strength when he powered up Iizuka from a standing position into a powerbomb.
The match was ok overall, a good showing to push Yamamoto, and build somekind of feud between Makabe & Yano.Match Rating: *IWGP Jr. Tag Team Titles: Minoru & Hirooki Goto VS El Samurai & Ryusuke Taguchi
Now this was a pleasant surprise. It started off a bit slow with Minoru & Goto cheating to get an advantage, and I like the way Minoru removed the corner pad when the referee wasn’t looking and set down in the corner with a little pat. I don’t think most of the live crowd caught it either.
Anyway, things got really good when the paced picked up. Goto & Taguchi got to show their growth, but one thing that bugs me is why hasn’t Goto been given a makeover yet? He won a title before Taguchi, but still looks like a rookie, whereas Taguchi is given a great look thanks to his excursion to Mexico. Taguchi looks a bit like Mohammed Yone almost. But the good thing here was that both worked well together and got the crowd behind them.
Minoru played the over-arrogant heel here, and I liked how he underestimated his opponents which came back to haunt him many times later. His kicking looked like total crap tonight though.
And kudos to NJPW for giving El Samurai the Akira Taue treatment of having one last big run. It got to the point where the crowd got a small Samurai chant going, and Samurai was aces for selling a bad arm, but still worked hard giving numerous reverse DDTs throughout the match. I just think maybe they pushed it just a little too much as Samurai survived multiple arm-locking attacks on a bad-arm, but only locked on one chicken wing arm lock on a fresh arm to get a quick win.
Still, this was probably the best IWGP Jr. Tag Title bout I’ve seen in a LONG time.Match Rating: ****IWGP Jr. Heavyweight and NWA Jr. Heavyweight Double Title Match: Black Tiger VS Tiger Mask
The last time these two faced each other for their junior titles at the Tokyo Dome last year, they put on one of the best matches on the show, so I was a bit disappointed in this one when they decided to speed through this one with next to no build, but an all out spotfest with things going see-saw in the opening minutes, to Tiger Mask kicking out of all of Black Tiger’s moves including his tombstone which won him the titles last time, to Tiger having his way with Black Tiger hitting him with a tombstone of his own followed by a Tiger Suplex for the quick and rather disappointing win.
I guess this is another one of those “serves NJPW right for putting their title on a guy that can’t tour regularly, so they take it off him in a flash to make their guy suddenly better than him” things.Match Rating: **1/2Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Yuji Nagata
Wow. The way they promoted this match, you’d think it was Tanahashi VS Brock Lesner next for the IWGP title. And not once did they even mention Nagata here, other than being one of Lesner’s victims.
With that said, the match was actually a really good competitive match. It almost seemed similar to the Shibata/Tanahashi match from 1/04/06 where Nagata stiffed the heck out of Tanahashi, even giving him a sick brainbuster out on the concrete floor! But than this match begins to suffer from a common trait of New Japan’s booking. Tanahashi, who’s been on a losing streak for a while, takes an insane amount of punishment and is able to battle back, suddenly getting a huge second wind and being able to put Nagata away in short order. I can appreciate giving Tanahashi a rub to get his heat back, but much like I’ve mentioned about Ryo Saito’s King of Gate win, this was a bit rushed.
The match finish was also one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen, where Tanahashi hits Nagata with a Dragon Suplex (which Nagata just let him put on), but couldn’t hold the pin and tries to float over into a pinning combination, but can’t get it right and it looks all wrong and f’d up.Match Rating: ***1/2 Brock Lesner & Shinsuke Nakamura VS Akebono & Riki Choshu
Well it was a good change to actually see Choshu sell for a change. Say what you want about Akebono’s in ring ability, but I actually enjoy watching the big guy in action. With that said, I was a bit disappointed that he sat out most of the match and Choshu did most of the work. The crowd was really eager to see Brock VS ‘Bono, and NJPW only gave them a taste of it today.
Overall, I thought this match was fun, but over too quickly. It wouldn’t hurt to show more of Brock against Akebono to really build something between them instead of have one confrontation and then throw them into an IWGP title match.Match Rating: ***IWGP Tag Team Titles: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Manabu Nakanishi & Giant Bernard
So after all the build up of both team training hard and learning new tandem moves, the actual match turned out to be pretty average. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel like a big main event match to me for some reason.
I didn’t really think there was much to this match as it was pretty much back and forth for the most part, with nothing much really developing other than Nakanishi & Bernard not being able to work all that well together and blowing up on each other for simple mistakes.
You gotta feel bad for Tenzan having to play the weak link for his team after clearly being made to be stronger than Chono a few years back. At least Chono worked the match more unlike their last title defense at the Tokyo Dome. It wouldn’t really hurt him to give Tenzan a rub by letting him make the pin either.Match Rating: ***Overall:
I thought the show was ok. You had one really good match, one really bad match, and a lot of strong matches scattered throughout. Passable, but I think they could have done better.