Mushiking Terry VS Atsushi Aoki
I was rather surprised at the amount of offense Aoki got in the match, working over Terry’s arm to set up for his arm-bar finishers. The rookie in blue even showed a bit of cockiness and also tried to steal the win by hitting Terry with a low blow followed by his cradle backdrop-hold for a near fall! He still needs a bit of work on his Mysterio-rana into an armbar, and he did slip up his timing on one corner Irish whip, but was able to cover up for it nicely. He also showed his fighting spirit by kicking out of a death valley bomb (which I don’t think I’ve ever seen Terry do before!), and a 619 before the hero of NOAH finally put him away with the Mist Crash.
Match Rating: **
Akitoshi Saito, Masao Inoue & Kishin Kawabata VS Scorpio, Joe Legend & Ace Steel
This match was better than it had any right to be! Everyone was working on full cylinders here and didn’t slow things down for a minute! I was actually rather surprised at Ace Steel playing up the insane maniac role as he was constantly biting all the Dark Agents and drew the ire of Inoue who he bit him back when he had the chance! Legend even surprised me with his agility for a big man as he was able to turn himself in mid-air out of a diving body press into a diving leg drop! Legend ultimately scored the win over Kawabata with a high-angle Complete Shot to end a darn entertaining match.
Match Rating: ***
Tamon Honda & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi VS Takuma Sano & SUWA
What the heck is up with Kikuchi’s new entrance music? It’s sounds something like him singing it repeating the words “I am Kikuchi” over and over! He was also going for the wild man entrance, taunting the audience and headbutting a soccer ball into the crowd! The match itself also mostly centered around him as he goes iron-head again, blasting SUWA with a big headbutt twice outside the ring with the microphone held up to it to enhance the effect! After seeing what happened to SUWA, even Sano did all he could to avoid getting hit by Kikuchi’s cranium!
SUWA even tried to steal a page from the old Dragon Gate Florida Brothers playbook when he brought in a Halliburton briefcase and tossed to Kikuchi before faking being hit by it behind referee Mighty Inoue’s back, prompting Inoue to accuse Kikuchi of hitting him with it! Unlike in Dratgon Gate, Kikuchi wasn’t disqualified though, and the match continued, with Sano and SUWA getting the win after SUWA hit the John Woo followed by the FFF on Kikuchi. Honda barely had any time in the match, and the only thing of significance he did was lifting SUWA off his feet in a chancery while he sat on the top rope! That was before Sano knocked him off and hit the diving foot stomp leading up to the finish.
Match Rating: **1/2
Mohammed Yone & Ippei Ota VS Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga
Another match that was just a ton of fun! After the confrontation here, I can only imagine the kind of singles match Yone and Shiga could have since both men targeted each other’s trademark hairdo! There was even a very fun camera view of Yone and Shiga dragging each other out on the rampway and getting the crowd to mess-up each other’s hair while Ota put Kanemaru through a 30+ rotation airplane spin! Kanemaru also did a fun job of selling the airplane spin as he stumbled to his feet and dropkicked thin air cause he still dizzy! You got to give Ota credit also, as he was able to kick out of the superstar press and the moonsault before Kanemaru put him away with the brainbuster.
I seriously hope we get to see Shiga defend the Hardcore Crown against Yone sometime down the road.
Match Rating: **1/2
Akira Taue & Go Shiozaki VS KENTA & Katsuyori Shibata
This one was all kinds of awesomeness, and seemed to almost have the same heat level as Kobashi/Shiozaki VS Sasaki/Nakajima from 2005! Shibata and KENTA irritated Taue a lot during the match, constantly kicking him off the apron while they abused Go, and Shibata even did Taue’s coconut crush move to annoy the big man! So needless to say the crowd was hot and exploded when Taue got the hot tag and went it beating down the two disrespectful punks! Team TAKEOVER managed to battle back though, and Shibata took out Taue with the PK, giving them the opening to hit a springboard doomsday device on Go to get the win. Awesome match!
Match Rating: ****
Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa VS Bison Smith & Keith Walker
As far as fun factor goes, this was probably the least fun, but still good none the less, with Smith and Walker playing the badass big power gaijin team. I also liked the little heelish touch they added by having Joe Legend and Ace Steel as their cornermen and cheating behind the referee’s back when they had the chance! Ogawa had his problems due to his size, and it was up to Misawa to match power and technique with them even if he did have his share of difficulties. The gaijins almost scored the win with an awesome powerbomb/top-rope iron-claw bomb combination on Misawa, but the two time GHC tag champions were able to battle back and score the win pinning Walker after an impressive combination Emerald Frosion/brainbuster move.
Match Rating: *1/2
Takeshi Rikioh & Takeshi Morishima VS Yoshihiro Takayama & Takashi Sugiura
I thought the tag match with Shibata earlier would be the best of the night, but than this match comes along! The crowd was heavily behind Sugiura and went nuts every time he was able power up the two super heavyweights who comprise WILD II! Sugiura was able to dead-lift Rikioh off the mat, and hit the Olympic Slam on Morishima, as well as delivering several German suplexes to the bigger men! He even almost made Rikioh tap out to the grapevine ankle-hold! The crowd really wanted Sugiura to win here, and he gave it all he got up to the very end when Rikioh finally put him away with the Muso. Heck, the look on Rikioh’s face by the end of it clearly shows what a war they were just put out Sugiura!
I really hope Sugiura gets a heavyweight push much like Marufuji and KENTA have been getting lately.
Match Rating: ****
GHC Heavyweight Title: Jun Akiyama [C] VS Naomichi Marufuji
Let’s face it, NO ONE expected Marufuji to win this one, but that all changed late in the match when Marufuji kicked out of a big head-drop Exploder as well as the Sterness Dust Alpha (so much for Akiyama having a move that could beat Kobashi?). It was there that the big Marufuji chants started and things turned in his favor after hitting a big top rope Shiranui, quickly followed by a sequence of counters leading to Marufuji trapping Akiyama in the Perfect Inside Cradle, which looked like a wrist-clutch small package hold, to pull off the upset of the year and win the GHC heavyweight title!
Once again, as per Marufuji’s MO, there was leg-work at the beginning that really didn’t play much of a factor in the ending if you ask me. But he did do a rather sick looking Shiranui on to the guard rail, trying to break Akiyama’s back! He also gave him a Shiranui on the floor and a dropkick knocking off the apron landing hard on his back too. Akiyama also spent a period working over Marufuji’s back, slamming him off the rampway to the floor and locking on the old Scorpion Death Lock!
But the night of course was Marufuji’s, and the crowd erupted in shock and surprise that he actually pulled it off, but gave the man big cheers and chants of his name as his theme played. Nice touch by Marufuji to go out and thank Misawa at ringside who was doing guest commentary for the match.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Overall: Top to bottom, this was a great show! Highly recommended!
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