Live from Korakuen Hall on the road to Naomichi Marufuji challenging Jun Akiyama for the GHC heavyweight title at the Nippon Budokan on 9/09/2006.
Ippei Ota VS Kotaro Suzuki After watching so many Mushiking Terry matches, it was good to see plan old Kotaro Suzuki back in the ring again. It was different seeing him in the dominant senior role stiffing and punishing his opponent, and I love his backdrop where he flips his opponent over and slams them on their stomach, one of those “no room for error” looking moves that could be ugly if not pulled out right. And I love his Blue Destiny finisher too. Another strong showing from Ota as well. He only got 22 rotations on the airplane spin, but made up for it with some near falls, especially when he was able to counter a La Majistral from Suzuki into a cradle of his own for a really close near fall! I just wonder what they plan to actually give him for a finisher since he already has a pretty good Blockbuster and swinging bulldog headlock. Match Rating: *1/2 Takuma Sano & Atsushi Aoki VS Mohammed Yone & KENTA Sano and Aoki make a good team since they wearing matching blue gear. Good showing for Aoki who took more than his fair share of stiff kicks from Yone and KENTA. I’m not sure if it was on purpose, but it looked like he blew a Mysterio-rana, but was able to change it to a cross-armbreaker at the last minute. Aoki is going to be gold in the junior division in a few years.Sano and KENTA had some fun kick exchanges, and KENTA even tried to challenge Sano to a sobat kick exchange, which he came up short in. KENTA also took a rather nasty looking sobat kick right in the face when Sano broke up a Boston crab he had Aoki in. At one point KENTA looked like he was trying for a Northern Lights Bomb to egg Sano on even more, but Aoki escaped the move. Not sure who’s fault it was, but KENTA’s finishing Go2Sleep on Aoki didn’t look very good, but Aoki sold it well to make it look killer.Match Rating: *1/2Taiji Ishimori VS Takashi SugiuraThis was a really one sided match as Sugiura totally out-sized and out-muscled Ishimori. Ishimori almost killed himself when his legs caught the ropes a bit during a dive out of the ring, but luckily Sugiura stopped his momentum when he hit him. Ishimori didn’t get a whole lot of offense in, and Sugiura almost totally choked him out with a triangle-choke, but Ishimori shocked everyone when he was able to pull his shoulder up at 2.9, but Sugiura instantly followed it up with the Olympic Slam to finish him. Match Rating: *1/2
Akira Taue & Mitsuo Momota VS Akitoshi Saito & Kishin Kawabata This seemed like a rather high profile match for Momota to be in, and it was a lot of fun watching the old veteran in there locking it up with Kawabata, another guilty pleasure favorite of mine. He even had a good showing against Saito and even delivered his trademark backdrop finisher to him for a near fall. Momota and Taue also make a fun geriatric team if you will. It probably wouldn’t be a match one would take seriously, but Taue and Momota challenging for the tag titles sounds like a fun gig. Heck, Momota challenged for both junior titles before, so why not?The one thing I didn’t like about the match was the way Saito was a little too rough at times, specifically when he brawled with Momota and Taue on the floor and both times tossed his opponents right into the audience without giving the fans time to move out of the way. Cheap heat like that is something he doesn’t need.Kawabata picked up the win with an axe-bomber on Momota, though I expected Momota to grab the ropes or something since he was so close to them and the fans also seemed a little under-whelmed at the ending. Match Rating: *1/2
Scorpio & Joe Legend VS Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima Legend looks huge compared to when he was I last remember him, and he did this really cool looking foot stomp move on Morishima that sort of resembled a Fame-Asser. Morishima was the MVP of this match I’d say, as he wowed the crowd a bit with his cartwheel corner splash and running hip-attacks, and he even almost went at Rikioh with a hip-attack at one point! He also scored the win with a sweet backdrop suplex on Legend. Match Rating: *1/2
Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa The referee actually gave Kikuchi a yellow card for attacking Misawa before the bell! This was actually a rather fun match with Kikuchi constantly trying to irritate Misawa with elbow challenges and using headbutts and low kicks when those don’t work. Kikuchi is one of those guys that seriously shouldn’t be doing comedy stuff as he’s a great worker and the fans are still into him. Honda moved a bit faster than usual in this one, and did some fun double-team headbutts with Kikuchi. I’d like to see the two BURNING members get a tag title shot as it would definitely freshen things up from the norm.The ending was really anti-climatic as all four men were in the ring trading shots left and right and Misawa hits Kikuchi with a big elbow before Ogawa rolls him up for the pin without struggle. They could have done a lot more for this one since it was also Misawa’s 25th anniversary match in the business and Kanemaru presented him with a bouquet of flowers after the match. I’m all for Misawa not having a big head and not making a big deal out of his 25th anniversary, but you’d think he’d at least turn it up a notch to make the match better? Match Rating: **
Naomichi Marufuji VS Masao Inoue I thought the highlight moment of this match, and the of the whole show up to this point, was when Inoue spiked Marufuji on his head with a cobra-clutch suplex! I was wondering why he never used one before since he does the leg sweep version of it. Other than that, we got a lot of eye gauging from Inoue using his wrist bands, boot laces, the ring apron and the ring ropes! He even managed to outfox Marufuji a few times stealing near falls with cradles of his own and tried to steal a count out win like in his title match with Akiyama.There wasn’t much of a size difference between Marufuji and Inoue, so Marufuji wasn’t at a total size and power disadvantage here. He actually managed to powerbomb Inoue at one point as about the only power move he could get on the guy. He spent a lot of time working Inoue’s leg before they hit the high sprint and managing to out-cradle Inoue for the win. I would have preferred if Marufuji actually finished the match instead of steal a win to help his build up.The ending run of the match was fun, but the opening bits were rather boring due to all the leg work from Marufuji and eye-gouging from Inoue, neither of which played a part in the finish of the match. Match Rating: **
Bison Smith, Keith Walker & Ricky Marvin VS Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga The story of this match was definitely Kanemaru trying to pick a fight with Bison all through out the match. He outsmarted the big gaijin a few times, but was ultimately out-powered in the end by the big man, hitting a nice combination powerbomb into the Bison-tenial. Bison is a big man who is definitely overlooked as he always seems to have good exchanges with the native heavyweights, and despite his serious demeanor, isn’t above doing a comedy spot or two and giving the smaller guy a good showing. Walker is a big muscle-head and sort of resembles Batista a bit with the tattoos and all. He had some good powermoves like the chokeslam into a backbreaker he did to Kanemaru, but he doesn’t look like he can carry a match well. Marvin and Shiga rouded out the match and I wouldn’t mind seeing Marvin challenge Shiga for the Hardcore title. Match Rating: *1/2
Show ends with an interview with Misawa regarding the formation of the Global Pro-Wrestling Association (GPWA), which would probably explain why he wasn’t in the main event or something bigger to celebrate his 25th anniversary in the business.