From the 4/13/2006 Korakuen Hall show, featuring the first defense of the GHC junior tag titles by Ikuto Hidaka and Minoru Fujita. Takuya Sugawara & Kagetora VS GENTARO & Munanori Sawa
My first look at Kagetora, and I’d hear a bit about him being one of the top heels of El Dorado, but this guy is really small! He makes GENTARO and Sugawara almost look like heavyweights! The guy knows how to throw elbow strikes though, and he has a cool finisher where he picks his opponent up in a fireman’s carry, and slams them down in an Emerald Frosion-type slam. Sugawara is being pushed as the junior heel ace of the company, though he didn’t do much of note other than hit Sawa with the black box.
Munanori Sawa is a BattlArts worker, so he naturally has a bunch of striking and submission offense. He looks a bit like Katsuhiko Nakajima actually, and he’s got a killer looking running Shining Wizard-type knee attack!
The match was just standard fare with nothing really standing out, but a good showing for Sawa and Kagetora to the Z1M fans.
Match Rating: * Kazuhiko Ogasawara VS Kensei Oh
I’m not sure if this was supposed to be serious or not, but this was probably one of the worse “matches” I’ve seen come out from Japan, rivaling some of the crap that is usually spewed by the likes of WWE and TNA in America. It’s supposed to be some kind of martial arts contest, but things get ridiculous halfway through when they break out the sake and try drunken fist fighting! Or more like Ogasawara just stood there drinking and no selling Kensei’s drunken offense, ending the match by a referee stop when Kensei locks a lame looking choke on Ogasawara.
Match Rating: DUD GHC Jr. Tag Titles: Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita [C] VS Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki
There were things to like about this match, but at the same time there were things not to like, most obviously being the blatant no-selling of Takaiwa’s finishers by Hidaka. I don’t mind doing the 2.9 kick out spot after a big move, but it’s definitely pushing it when Hidaka kicks out of Takaiwa’s powerbomb/DVD combination, and that’s just after Takaiwa gave him a super DVD off the top rope! If Fujita made the save, I wouldn’t mind, but Hidaka did it all his own, and seconds later was back up on his feet and taking it to Takaiwa before hitting ONE Misty Flip to get the win! It was almost Dragon Gate like booking here. Yoshihito Sasaki was almost guilty of the same crime, but his was early in the match and wasn’t from any actual finishers, he just popped up a little too early and didn’t show any effects from the damage. Overall, I was a bit disappointed in this one since it felt overbooked with Takaiwa dishing out DVDs all over the place and nobody really seemed to sustain any long term damage from anybody’s attacks.
Match Rating: ***
Labels: Zero-1 MAX
Starts off with a look back at the Brave Gate League matches from the 3/17 Korakuen Hall show. First with Tozawa pulling off the huge upset of pinning Naruki Doi thanks to a bag full of protein powder, then Dragon Kid stealing the win from Masato Yoshino with a quick crucifix pin. We then see highlights from the main event of that show where Yasushi Kanda lead the Original M2K to victory over Blood Generation. That’s followed by Susumu and CIMA challenging each other to a number contenders match for Ryo Saito’s Dream Gate title. Open the Brave Gate League: Super Shisa VS Masato Yoshino (3/18/2006)
This was clipped down a bit, and from what they showed of Shisa on offense, it looked like Yoshino couldn’t be bothered to sell much for the guy! They actually did a ref bump leading to Shisa hitting the Yoshi Tonic but with no one to count, and we than had one of the weirdest finishes ever where they traded cradles back and forth and ended up with the referee counting BOTH their shoulders down and the match is declared a draw! They each get a point and Yoshino leads the two since he has one point more than Shisa.Match Rating: *
We get a really quick look at Naoki Tanizaki beating Akira Tozawa with a running knee strike to the head he calls the Casanova, to tie Yoshino with 6pts leading the League. That means if Dragon Kid wins his match with Doi, there will be a 3-way tie and a 3-way dance for the finals!Open the Brave Gate League: Dragon Kid VS Naruki Doi (3/18/2006)
This was a quick back and forth battle, with Doi using the usual cheating tactics to try and steal the win from Kid. Doi managed to kick out of the Ultra Hurricanrana, and Kid managed to kick out of a top rope powerbomb! Don’t know why, but the Ultra Hurricanrana is supposed to be Kid’s finisher, but I’ve seen a lot of people kick out of it recently. It wouldn’t hurt to have Kid kick out of the Doi555 which he avoided like death during the match? Kid did manage to kick out of the Bakarate Sliding Kick though, and he also did this fun suplex counter where he flipped out into a stunner! The finish came when Yoshino tried to help Doi cheat, but Tanizaki took care of him by hitting him with a garbage can! He also hit Doi with the can, giving Kid the chance to hit a DDT followed by the Dragonrana for the win.
We now have a 3-way dance for the finals!Match Rating: *1/2
Open the Brave Gate League Finals: Masato Yoshino VS Naoki Tanizaki VS Dragon Kid (3/19/2006)
Where to begin with this? How about the fact that Tanizaki walked out of the match TWICE! First when his fellow Do-Fixer team mate and in-match opponent Dragon Kid accidentally hit him twice thanks to some nifty countering from Yoshino, but he came back after a bit with his thrash can to use as a weapon. The second time was when Ryo Saito accidentally hit him after helping to fend off interference from Blood Generation, which lead to a brawl between the two at ringside before Tanizaki walked out of the TITLE MATCH! There should never be a reason to walk out of a title match in my opinion after all the hard work he went through to get there.
The Ultra-Hurricanrana again loses credibility as Yoshino is able to kick out of it, after a top-rope Diamond Cutter no less! At least Kid kicked out of the Lightning Spiral and Another Space before a second Lightning Spiral softened him up enough for Yoshino to lock on the Sol Naciente for the submission win.
Another thing I didn’t like was the lighting of the venue, as whenever they used the ringside cameramen, the spotlights would shine right into the lens making the picture way too bright. Ever had the sun reflect off the windscreen of the car in front of you into your eyes? That’s what it felt like watching this match at times, and it was hard to catch that Kid actually gave up at the end because of it. An OK match, but just really hard to watch for me.Match Rating: **
Kenichiro Arai VS Akira Tozawa (4/12/2006)
The beginning of Tozawa-Juku! He instantly got over with the crowd, so of course Araken had to squash him just like when Tozawa’s dancing gimmick was getting him over. Tozawa didn’t have a lot of offense in, but he did a cool looking stunner out of a full-nelson. He also took a lot of punishment from Araken, but he ASKED for it mostly to show how much of a man’s man he is! He even did the old “Thank you, Sir, May I have another, Sir?!?” bit when Araken kept laying running face kicks to him! Tozawa also had this fun diving headbutt move where he did a very long pose to get to it, so of course he missed. Araken even let him hit the move a second time, but no sold it. So like I said, mostly a short squash with Araken winning with his Henshin Tiger Suplex-hold.Match Rating: *
Loser Changes Character Handicap Match: Stalker Ichikawa VS the Florida Brothers (4/12/2006)
So with his gimmick on the line, Stalker goes from being the super job-boy who gets KO’d from punches and kicks to being able to kick out of a Doomsday Device as well as Michael and Daniels’ finishers? And still have enough to pull of a BEAUTIFUL German suplex-hold I might add. Sure they threw logic out the door as far as the characters were concerned, but what the heck, it was fun to watch.
Tozawa came out after the match and draped Michael in his white jacket before walking off. K-ness informs Stalker that by winning the match, he gets a shot at a special opponent at the next pay per view on 4/23, and that opponent will be none other than Yutaka Yoshie!
Bye Bye Floridas.Match Rating: *
Another quick look back at the feel good win of Yasushi Kanda and Original M2K defeating Blood Generation with Kanda hitting the Gegokujoh Elbow drop on Don Fujii for the win, followed by Susumu and CIMA’s declarations for challenging Ryo Saito for the Dream Gate title. They also show the problems starting up between CIMA and Gamma.Open the Dream Gate No.1 Contenders Match: CIMA VS Susumu Yokosuka (3/19/2006)
I hear a lot of complaints about the no-selling of big moves in NOAH, but Dragon Gate does it a lot worse than them when it comes to the big matches. Take this match for example where Susumu hits the Jumbo no Kachi only for CIMA to pop up and hit the Schwein and Susumu pops up again to hit another Jumbo no Kachi, and this was after Susumu was hit with another Schwein previously! This bit of no-selling wouldn’t be a big deal if it was a sequence in the middle of the match with both guys collapsing after doing it, like NOAH would, but instead they like doing it near the end of the match, so both guys are taking big move after big move and just popping up for more without any real rest period in between! Sure it makes the match exciting, but it does nothing for the credibility of their finishers now does it?
I don’t think the finish did much for Susumu either since it took a miss-timed powder attack from Gamma to blind CIMA giving Susumu the chance to hit the Jumbo no Kachi-gatame for the win.
The match was clipped a lot and again suffered from the very bad lighting positions which is a real pain to the eyes.Match Rating: **
Highlights of the friction between CIMA and Gamma in Blood Generation, and how Naoki Tanizaki became the newest member when he blindsided Gamma. Don Fujii wanted to evaluate Tanizaki, and accepted him in to Blood Gen when Tanizaki pinned him in a tag match with the Casanova at Korakuen Hall on 4/12.Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi & Anthony W. Mori VS CIMA, Naruki Doi & Gamma (4/12/2006)
This was clipped down mostly just to show the problems within Blood Gen with CIMA and Gamma. But the good guys did get to show some fun offense, like Genki doing a half-nelson suplex! Dragon Kid also did this awesome super frankensteiner to Doi who was sitting on Mori’s shoulders on the TOP ROPE! And Mori hit the Elegant-ton (Swanton) for a near fall. But like I said, this match was mostly about Blood Gen, and it reached it’s peak when Gamma attacked everyone with a chair than cut Mori’s hair! Don’t know why, but CIMA actually defended Mori, leading to Doi turning on him and joining Gamma in beating him down. Yoshino also joined in and so did Tanizaki, and they beat down CIMA and Fujii. I guess they didn’t beat them down enough though, cause they still had it in them to argue over the microphone about who should get the Blood Gen name! CIMA really needs to decide if he’s selling those injured ribs or not.Match Rating: *
A look at Magnum TOKYO’s Ryuukon 10-Match Series, and how he was able to beat Tenryu on 2/05 with the AV Star Press.Ryuukon 10 Match Trial Series #5: Magnum TOKYO VS Genichiro Tenryu (3/25/2006)
This was rather surprising as Magnum had a lot more offense in than expected, and they played up a pretty good heavyweight match even if most of it was exchanging chops, strikes and kicks cause there’s only so much Tenryu can do at his age. The finish was rather surprising as Magnum won a strike exchange by chopping out Tenryu’s legs with low kicks, followed by a low dropkick to take him off his feet and a La Majistral cradle to score his second win in the series!Match Rating: *1/2
Ryo Saito & Susumu Yokosuka VS Magnum TOKYO & Masaaki Mochizuki (4/12/2006)
A lot of emphasis on Susumu and Mochizuki in this one. Mochi had his leg worked over, and Susumu had his arm worked over. Magnum and Mochi showed some good team work, and Magnum demonstrated some of the moves he’s been learning from Tenryu, like the WAR Special, and the Ryuukon Lariat. Ryo gave Magnum a fisherman’s buster on a pile of chairs out on the floor, and Susumu hit a big Jumbo no Kachi-gatame on Mochi after Ryo gave him a dragon suplex to pick up the win.
Probably would have preferred if the match wasn’t clipped down so much. Next stop: Korakuen Hall!Match Rating: **
Labels: Dragon Gate
Show kicks off with the in ring contract signing for the main event, as well as a short interview segment. Nice to see one of these things go down without one side attacking the other to build heat for the match.Ippei Ota VS Taiji Ishimori
Not a bad opener with Ishimori showing some interesting mat submission skills and Ota busting out a 38-rotation airplane spin! I get the feeling Ota could end up as the next Makoto Hashi; shows a lot of promise, but will be a LONG while before he gets anywhere. I love Ishimori’s modified package piledriver finisher too. Gotta figure out what it’s called.Match Rating: *Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Takuma Sano & Mitsuo Momota
This match felt like it went longer than it should have and the comedy spots felt too forced and not natural. Even the ending when Kikuchi counted Momota’s cradle looked really weak as Kikuchi didn’t get all his body weight down for the pin. It started off with some promise, but fizzled out by the end.Match Rating: 1/2*Takeshi Rikioh & Mohammed Yone VS Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata
Fun match. Funny bit where Rikioh tried doing Yone’s long distance running knee attack from all the way out in the audience to the ring side area! Once again I was rooting for Kawabata, my guilty pleasure in NOAH. It almost looked like he had a chance when he no sold Yone’s lariat and caught him with a surprised powerslam for a near fall. I was also surprised that Yone was able to get up Kawabata’s big frame for the muscle-buster to end the match.Match Rating: *1/2
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Mushiking Terry VS Akira Taue, Kentaro Shiga & Mushiking Joker
Because he’s the super hero, Mushiking Terry comes out by himself first. When the opposition team comes out, Shiga’s carrying a net and a bug collecting box! Taue is even wearing yakuza shades like Shiga! Shiga definitely has one of the most fun gimmicks to come out in a while, and yes, he actually managed to get the net on Terry at one point in the match! If Shiga bulked up just a bit, he could definitely make a more credible heavyweight.
I like Mushiking Joker and all, but I think sooner or later NOAH needs to introduce a new villain to feud with Terry. The two work excellently together no matter how you cut it though. Joker got a little extra in on this one as he actually took down Misawa twice in the match and even outsmarted Ogawa at one point countering his enzuguri with one of his own!
Taue is Taue, and he even managed to kick it up a gear with Misawa as the two had a speedy exchange of strikes and counters at one point. There were even a few funny moments between the two, which I guess they are practicing for when they finally move down to the comedy openers in a decade or two. It wouldn’t hurt if Misawa were a little more flexible like Taue is though.
The ending of the match sort of came out of nowhere though, as Terry used a high-angle Yoshi Tonic type cradle to get the pin. Solid showing from everyone involved at least, with more time given to the younger guys as usual.Match Rating: **1/2Takeshi Morishima VS Masao Inoue
It was a bit disappointing that the live crowd wasn’t much into this one. Even Morishima’s cartwheel corner splash got a dead reaction from the crowd. The crowd really did want to see Inoue get Morishima up in the Argentine Backbreaker though. They didn’t have any big spot moves like usual NOAH main event singles matches would, and the ending was a bit weak for my taste, with Morishima calling for an Argentine Backbreaker of his own, but turning it into a cradle which the announcer called the “Big Package-hold”, opposite of small package-hold, get it? Anyway, it looked rather weak and Inoue could have easily lifted a shoulder instead of struggling during the 3 count. I believe this is the only credible singles win Morishima would have before challenging for the GHC heavyweight title over 6 MONTHS later.Match Rating: **
Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA VS Jun Akiyama & Atsushi Aoki
First contact between Marufuji and Akiyama before their GHC heavyweight title match on 9/09/2006. Structure of the match was mostly the former GHC junior tag champions working over Aoki for most of the match, with short bursts offense between Akiyama and Marufuji in between. What little in match contact the champion and challenger had in the ring was pretty good, and I loved the spot where Marufuji used the referee to help himself get a boost to give Akiyama the Shiranui in the middle of the ring!
I like Aoki and all, and he showed something new I think in this match, a leg cradle backdrop-hold, but I think he sort of recovered a little too quickly after taking a long beating when he suddenly popped back up into the ring to help Akiyama. The kid will be awesome in the junior division in a year or two. KENTA spent most of the match stiffing Aoki around before finishing him with the Go2Sleep.
Solid match, but I’ve definitely seen better from these guys.Match Rating: **
I wonder what all the fireworks over the Tokyo skyline were about since it seemed to start just after the match and was a great visual to show.GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles: Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita [C] VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Sugiura
At first I was thinking that the defending champions had the challengers beat as far as team work goes, but they really proved me wrong as the match progressed, pulling out some great tandem offense, including a double brainbuster and Sugiura giving Kanemaru a release German suplex off the top to add more impact to his moonsault press!
The history of their first match also played a big part in the drama of this one as they almost had a similar situation where the referee was about to stop the match when Hidaka had Kanemaru in the Shawn’s Capture, but luckily Sugiura was able to make the save at the last minute. And it was thanks to Sugiura watching Kanemaru’s back that he was able to avenge his past loss and win back the tag titles from the outsider team.
Great match, and definitely on par with the first encounter. I just think the beginning bit where the champions worked over Kanemaru’s leg went a bit too long, but Kanemaru sold it well throughout the match.Match Rating: ***3/4Overall:
A mostly by the numbers show capped off by a great main event. It was interesting seeing the new champions do their interview outside with all the fireworks in the background.