CROSSOVER TOUR 7/03/2006Keiji Mutoh, AKIRA & Ryuji Hijikata VS Minoru Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai & Katsushi Takemura
The focus of the match was the on-going feud between Mutoh and Suzuki, so of course you don’t get the exciting confrontation you’d expect when two guys want at each other so badly. Instead they take it slow and do the basic mat work grappling for an advantage and leave the speedy stuff to the junior heavyweights in the match. Suzuki’s team did some heel stuff and it climax of the match was rather underwhelming, with Mutoh no-selling a Shining Wizard from NOSAWA after being put in Suzuki’s sleeper hold and hitting NOSAWA with a Shining Wizard of his own for the instant win.Match Rating: *
We get a quick recap video of Kojima’s epic Triple Crown reign and all of his defenses, and Kea’s rise to challenge for the title as well as the past history between both men who were once also tag team champions together.AJPW Triple Crown: Satoshi Kojima [C] VS Taiyo Kea
I was rather disappointed in this match cause the structure of it was all over the place. Nothing really seemed to stick and it was almost like they were just throwing random big moves at each other here and there.
First you had the usual feeling out process between the two, then Kea hits the Hurricane Spike and Kojima instantly recovers with a big backdrop suplex. That leads to some out of ring brawling before they get back in and Kojima totally no sells a superplex and tries for the lariat, but Kea ducks it and gives him a side Russian legsweep, shades of Giant Baba. Kea hits another for a near fall and follows with a big jumping overhead chop, but it’s not long before Kojima is back up and both men are exchanging strikes. Kea gets a near fall with a Blue Thunder-bomb after they exchange counters, but Kojima rebounds with a spinebuster-bomb off the ropes on Kea for a near fall.
They struggle to their feet and that leads to Kojima giving Kea a top rope frankensteiner. Kojima tries for the lariat, but Kea catches him off the ropes with a frankensteiner of his own for a near fall. Kea clamps on the cobra clutch and then spikes Kojima on his head THREE TIMES with consecutive cobra-clutch suplexes, but all that’s not enough to put the champion down! Kojima than has it in him to counter a lariat into a Koji-koji cutter, followed almost instantly by another. They struggle to their feet again and Kojima tosses the elbow pad and hits the lariat, but only gets a 2. Kea tries for the Kea Rush, but Kojima lariats his leg in mid air and applies an STF, making Kea struggle to reach the ropes to break the hold. Kojima hits a dragon screw leg whip and applies a figure four, again forcing Kea to struggle to get to the ropes to break the hold.
Kojima then hits a DDT, a brainbuster and a lariat in succession, but it doesn’t keep the challenger down. Kojima tries for another lariat, and Kea catches him with a Giant Baba Giant Neckbreaker Drop for a near fall. Kea hits the TKO and gets a near fall! Kea hits the Hawaiian Smasher and gets a near fall! Kea hits the Hawaii 5-0 and gets the win!
Yeah, I was rather surprised it ended just like that myself. All that in just about 19 minutes and it actually felt a bit underwhelming, even if it was good for Kea to finally win the gold.Match Rating: ***Overall:
Hated the six-man tag, and wasn’t really impressed with the title change.
Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Tsutomu Hirayanagi VS Mitsuo Momota & Atsushi Aoki
I rather enjoyed watching the two old veterans go at it, as Momota wasn’t afraid to take some sick looking elbow strikes from Kikuchi and Kikuchi took several loud slaps from Momota. They really flubbed their timing during the ending moments of the match though, and the final 3-count was a bit questionable whether Momota kicked out of Kikuchi’s backslide in time or not since Aoki was right there to break the count but didn’t. Of the two rookies in the match, Aoki got to show more than Hirayanagi, who’s still very far down the food chain compared to the boy in blue.Match Rating: *
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & SUWA VS Ricky Marvin & Taiji Ishimori
Now this is the kind of match that comes to mind when you think of junior heavyweight tag team action! You had the exciting speedy team of Marvin and Ishimori up against the two heel brawlers in Kanemaru & SUWA, and what you get out of it is a great match. I love the opening sequence where Marvin avoided everything that was thrown at him and managed to take down the heels with a bit of help from Ishimori. Than the heels took over with their dirty tactics, distracting the referee so SUWA could hit a big low blow on Marvin, take him out of the match for a bit so they could work over Ishimori. SUWA even dropped a submission hold to threaten to go out after a fan sitting in the audience!
Marvin finally gets the hot tag and it’s more high-speed offense all over the place, hitting a big 619 and a sweet Shining Wizard for a near fall. Ishimori joins in the fray and hits a big Swanton-bomb and a standing shooting star press for a near fall Ishimori tries for the Superstar Elbow, but SUWA recovers and catches him in mid-air with a big back suplex! SUWA hits a big time lariat, but only gets a near fall. SUWA than hits a big John Woo, than finally finishes Ishimori with a big running FFF 3-quarters across the ring for the win!Match Rating: ***
Tamon Honda & Shuhei Taniguchi VS Scorpio & Murat Bosporus
Like I’ve said before, I really enjoy watching Bosporus in NOAH, and there were even a few Bosporus fans chanting “Murat” for him in the front row here! His major disadvantage for him as once again demonstrated here was his size, as there were a few spots that just didn’t come out right because of it and even cause a few unintentional funny moments, like the bizarre cross-face chicken wing he attempted which ended up looking like a really ugly Tazmission. Still, he did manage to hit that great frog splash of his, and managed to belly-to-belly suplex the much larger Tamon Honda.
Taniguchi was also given a good showing here, as he hit some big suplexes of his own on Scorpio, and played a part in the finish where he and Honda gave their opponents stereo Germans and pinfalls, with Taniguchi getting a 2 count on Scorpio, but Murat couldn’t kick out of the Dead End, giving the home team the win.Match Rating: *1/2
Masao Inoue, Kishin Kawabata & Ippei Ota VS Doug Williams, Nigel McGuinness & Ares
Well, Ares finally made himself useful for a change. He did some of his usual comedy at the beginning with his neckties, but came out looking strong at the end of the match when he hit a great looking cannonball on Ota, followed by a nice brainbuster and finishing with a tiger driver for the win. There was also a really nice spot where Williams and McGuinness battered Ota back and forth with non-stop European uppercuts! Other than all that, the one other fun spot was Inoue and Kawabata helping Ota get more spin on his aeroplane spin and Ares doing a great job of selling the move while he was going round and round.Match Rating: *1/2
Akira Taue & Kentaro Shiga VS Akitoshi Saito & Go Shiozaki
This was another really fun tag match! Saito and Shiozaki tried to steal this one early by attacking Taue and Shiga, then hitting a big doomsday missile dropkick on Shiga, but Taue recovered in time to make the save. But the best part of the match was when Taue tried to charge in on Saito with his trademark running corner face kick, and Saito ducked and Taue a big jab in the nuts! It was funny watching Taue hop around selling the shot, but than Saito sets up Taue for a Dynamic-Bomb, and Taue responds by giving a head butt in the gonads! So we get a really funny sight of two veterans selling their aching genitals on the mat! This match will forever be immortalized for that spot alone! Add to that, we also get a good showing from Shiga and Shiozaki, including a very Kobashi-like short lariat from Shiozaki, and Shiga steals the win from Go with a ground cobra-twist.Match Rating: **
Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone VS Jun Akiyama & Makoto Hashi
There was one really awesome spot in this match where Morishima and Yone were going to give Akiyama a Doomsday Device type move, but Akiyama escaped it by giving Yone a super Exploder off Morishima’s shoulders! We than get the usual underdog Hashi booking, as he comes close to winning the match several times and fighting for all he’s worth to survive the onslaught of the former GHC tag team champions. They may have goofed up the ending a bit when Yone hit the Muscle Buster on Hashi, but he actually let Hashi up before pinning him again and Hashi kicked out the second time on his own. Yone would than hit a huge diving guillotine leg drop on Hashi for the win.
Great match aside, what the heck happened to Hashi? If he teamed with Morishima, you could probably call them Team Man-Boobs!Match Rating: **
Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki VS Yoshihiro Takayama, Takuma Sano & Takashi Sugiura
Seriously, I thought this one dragged on longer than necessary. There was a lot of goodness with Suzuki in there playing the little guy taking on a gang of bigger guys, and he even managed to hit the Blue Destiny on Sano for a near fall! There was even a few fun exchanges between Ogawa and Takayama. The only thing that seemed to kill the momentum of the match was Misawa, who as usual looked really un-motivated here. Sano takes the win for his team with a big Northern Lights Bomb on Suzuki.Match Rating: *
GHC Heavyweight Title: Naomichi Marufuji [C] VS KENTA
To say that these two gave it their all in this one is definitely an understatement, as both men threw caution to the wind on more than one occasion to risk it all for the gold, the way a world title match should be! They did some really insane stuff in this one, but the biggest near miss that could have been disastrous was the moonsault out to the floor Marufuji gave KENTA early on, but didn’t quite clear the guardrail and could have broken his neck! KENTA was busted open the hard way from spot, but you could still see him asking the referee and the seconds to check on Marufuji.
Things just got more extreme from there, as KENTA would counter a Shiranui from Marufuji by tossing him right out onto the floor, crashing into the guardrail! They tried to re-enact the Misawa/Kobashi tiger suplex to the floor spot from 2003, but Marufuji was able to flip out of the German suplex KENTA tried and land on his feet. Marufuji wasn’t so lucky moments later when KENTA would give him a big time falcon arrow off the apron to the floor, and follow that with a big springboard diving double foot stomp onto the champion’s already aching chest on the floor! They then did the classic “no-sell chain sequence”, where Marufuji escaped a Go2Sleep attempt and hit a dangerous backdrop, KENTA pops up with a dangerous backdrop of his own, Marufuji pops up with a release German, KENTA pops up with a German of his own but almost loses him due to the momentum and Marufuji almost crashes on him, Marufuji pops up again with a release German but KENTA lands on his feet and gives Marufuji a discuss lariat, and Marufuji answers with a superkick before both men finally collapse!
Marufuji also managed to match kicks with KENTA as he added the spinning sobat kick to his arsenal and scored a near fall after a barrage of spin kicks to KENTA’s head. Marufuji also innovated a wrist-clutch Shiranui for a near fall and was smart enough to position himself near the ropes after taking a Go2Sleep so he could get a foot on the ropes to break the count. The biggest “WTF” moment for Marufuji was when he hit the super Shiranui (one-man Spanish Fly) and KENTA actually managed to kick out at 2.9! Marufuji was shocked as heck, so he picked up KENTA and drove him on his head with his new wrist-clutch fisherman’s driver finisher, which reminded me more of Hiroyoshi Tenzan’s sit-out ganso-TTD, to finally put KENTA away and successfully defend his title after 30-minutes of action!
Overall, the match was what you’d expect from these two next generation aces of the company. It was a great world title match if you don’t look between the lines that you basically had two junior heavyweights fighting it out for the company’s top prize. And like I said at the beginning, they gave it their all and sacrificed their bodies to entertain the 10,000+ fans at the Budokan who were really in to it from the get go.Match Rating: ****3/4
OK, it’s no secret the card was put together deliberately just to see how well Marufuji VS KENTA could draw on their own without anything else major on the undercard. But despite how poor on paper the card looked, the actual matches were all quite entertaining and made for a good show overall. On a final note, I hope they bring back Murat Bosporus sometime in the future ^_^ .
Kentaro Shiga, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Tsutomu Hirayanagi VS Tamon Honda, Makoto Hashi & Shuhei Taniguchi
Rookie Hirayanagi takes a beating getting slammed out on the floor several times, but he did manage to get in some stand-out offense like a missile dropkick, fisherman’s suplex-hold and a swinging DDT. Kanemaru showed a lot of animosity towards his ex-Sterness partner Hashi, and I think they botched a spot where Hashi tried to front suplex Kanemaru off the top and I think Kanemaru was supposed to counter it into Deep Impact, but they just fell awkwardly and Hashi had to sell the spot. Honda went wild with Dead Ends near the end and Hashi scored the win over Hirayanagi with the Gori-Thunder (Blue Thunder). Good opener.Match Rating: *
Masao Inoue, Kishin Kawabata & Masahi Aoyagi VS Scorpio, Ares & Murat Bosporus
I find myself really enjoying watching Murat Bosporus. He looks like a midget in there, but he makes up for it with his explosiveness and Taz-like arsenal of suplexes, as well as a great frog-splash. Murat plays the serious guy off Ares’ more comical persona and the two mesh well. I don’t get why Scorpio is wearing the lucha-mask though. He won it for his team with a big 450’ splash on Aoyagi.Match Rating: *
Yoshinari Ogawa, Kotaro Suzuki & Ippei Ota VS Takashi Sugiura, Ricky Marvin & Atsushi Aoki
Great junior six-man tag action (Ogawa is a free-weight, remember?), and I like the short exchange between Ogawa and Sugiura. Marvin and Suzuki never fail to entertain when they are in there against each other, and the rookies looked good too. I think this is the first time Aoki did his Mysterio-rana into an arm-breaker perfectly. Suzuki spiked Aoki with a tombstone piledriver for the win.Match Rating: **
A quick look back to earlier in the day where Tamon Honda had to surrender the GHC tag titles, followed by the contract signing and Q&A session for the GHC heavyweight title match on 10/29/2006 at the Budokan between the champion Naomichi Marufuji and challenger KENTA.Jun Akiyama VS Tsuyoshi Kikuchi
One of those rare moments where Kikuchi shows the potential for greatness in him instead of just being the comedic grumpy veteran who keeps getting pinned in tag matches. Kikuchi started off strong with a barrage of elbow strikes and triple-rolling Germans, but Blue Thunder Akiyama bounced back and pummeled Kikuchi with a big Exploder out on the floor and a barrage of running knee strikes, but the old veteran wouldn’t go down easily. Akiyama had to drop him on his head with a big Exploder to finally put him out, but Kikuchi still fired him up with an elbow-strike to the face when Akiyama offered him a handshake after the match!Match Rating: ***
Takeshi Morishima & Mohammed Yone VS Naomichi Marufuji & Go Shiozaki
Morishima and Yone really had to work hard to earn this one! Despite his size, GHC heavyweight champion Marufuji used his quickness to counter the size and power advantage of his opponents, and Shiozaki is still as exciting and explosive to watch as ever. I don’t know what it is about Shiozaki that he can make a move like a German suplex so exciting to watch, and it’s a scary thought that he almost pinned Yone with it if Morishima hadn’t made the save! The rookie showed a lot of fight before finally being put down by Yone’s Muscle Buster.Match Rating: ***
Mitsuharu Misawa VS Kazunari Murakami
Well this was a big disappointment! It’s bad enough Murakami had to hold his punches back, but Misawa just didn’t really sell anything for the guy! Even when Murakami was trying to hit him right in the face, Misawa didn’t flinch! The only thing of note was Misawa’s lousy attempt at a pair of rolling Germans, and finally getting stiff with his elbow shots before finishing off Murakami (who did a small blade job) with his trademark (and anti-climatic) running elbow bunt.Match Rating: *
GHC Tag Titles Decision Tournament – Round 1: Akira Taue & SUWA VS Doug Williams & Nigel McGuinness
A standard tag match which I didn’t feel built up to much. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but McGuinness needs to lay off the comedy since this was a big match to go for the tag titles. Williams played up the senior role for his team so we at least got to see him doing something in there and not clown around. The odd pairing of SUWA and Taue advance in the tournament after Taue pins the ROH Pure Champion with the I AM TAUE.Match Rating: *1/2
GHC Tag Titles Decision Tournament – Round 1: Yoshihiro Takayama & Takuma Sano VS Akitoshi Saito & KENTA
Now this was just an all out tag war! Takayama may have been the biggest man in the match, but I’m surprised at how much punishment he took in there, especially some stiff shots to the head. He made KENTA look like a million bucks too, and it was good of KENTA to return the favor when Takayama was in charge. The only minor complaint I had was probably that the match was mostly just KENTA and Takayama in there, with Sano and Saito playing supporting roles even if they did get some spots in like Saito’s near falls on Takayama with some of his big moves. Saito appealed to be KENTA’s partner in this tournament, but KENTA came out looking a whole lot stronger since when it came down to it, it didn’t take much for Takayama to do away with Saito, using the Everest German suplex-hold to advance in the tournament.Match Rating: ****Overall:
I like the ramp set up they had for this show in a rather big looking Osaka arena, but overall a lot of the matches just felt by the numbers, with only the big tag main event really standing out from everything else.
It Works Hard Now Here 5/31/2006
Hirotaka Yokoi VS Mitsuya Nagai
A short match with a whole lot of submission attempts from both guys, that is until Taichi Ishikari and Kazushi Miyamoto got involved and attacked Yokoi behind the referee’s back giving Nagai the chance to hit the Hyper Knee Kuga for the win. This was supposed to be part of the ongoing rivalry with King’s Road, but there really wasn’t much of interest here either.Match Rating: DUD
Takuya Sugawara VS Yoshihito Sasaki
Talk about getting a raw deal. Sasaki pinned Sugawara in a six-man tag and earned a shot at Sugawara’s international junior title, but Ikuto Hidaka would score a win over Sugawara with his Shawn’s Capture submission hold, which “injured” Sugawara (he tapped out rather quickly too) and because he hadn’t healed up yet, this was declared a non-title match!
Sasaki of course attacks Sugawara’s knee and Sugawara is playing up the cowardly heel bit for all he’s worth. Than comes the kicker, Sugawara tries to make a run for it out into the audience and Sasaki gives chase and catches him. He tries to carry him back to the ring with an Argentine Backbreaker, but Sugawara slips out and gives him multiple low blows before dashing back to the ring and getting Sasaki counted out at just over 5 minutes into the match! Sugawara obviously faked the knee injury and taunted Sasaki after the match.
You could already tell a screw job was coming, and I’m surprised one of the officials with authority in Z1M didn’t do anything since he was sitting right at ringside and made the announcement that it was a non-title match due to Sugawara’s “injury”! Just a waste of Sasaki’s talent.Match Rating: DUD
NWA United National Heavyweight Title: Kohei Sato [C] VS Daisuke Sekimoto
This was a welcomed relief after the two disappointments so far! This was billed as a battle of the German suplexes, as both men have really awesome German suplexes for their finishers. Sekimoto started off strong with his strength advantage, and even hit a big suicide dive through the ropes onto the Sato on the floor. Sekimoto tried to cheat a bit by removing a corner pad and whacked Sato over the head with it. Both men spiked each other homicidal German suplexes where they dropped each other on their heads, and Sakimoto scored a near-fall on the champion with a stiff lariat and his German suplex-hold! Sekimoto removing the corner pad earlier would come back to punish him, as he missed a corner charge on Sato and rammed his shoulder all the way into the exposed corner post, and Sato scored a near-fall on him with a big tiger suplex-hold! That was it for Sekimoto though, as Sato quickly went for and scored his high-angle German suplex-hold for the 3 count to retain his title. I think the only complaint I have was the match was a bit short.Match Rating: **1/2
Manabu Nakanishi, Takashi Iizuka & Naofumi Yamamoto VS Takao Omori, Shiro Koshinaka & Ryouji Sai
This one was a bit sluggish in places, but still a solid match that furthered the NJPW / Z1M feud. It mostly focused on Omori/Nakanishi, as well as the Yamamoto/Sai feud. A lot of back and forth action with Nakanishi scoring the win for the New Japan team pinning Sai with the Mana Bauer German suplex-hold. Koshinaka was pissed off at Sai for the loss, and the respect between Nakanishi and Omori started from here as well.Match Rating: **
Labels: NJPW, Zero-1 MAX