ALL JAPAN TV on 8/22/08
review by Mike Campbell
I was in the midst of reviewing the All Japan 8/30/08 PPV when clips from this TV block started airing and it dawned on me that I owned this particular block. I thought about finishing the PPV review and then doing this afterwards, but I feel like I should probably keep things in chronological order.
SATOSHI KOJIMA vs. TARU
This is the first Kojima match in forever that hasn’t annoyed me. Kojima knows that there isn’t a whole lot that TARU can do, so Kojima just lets him do his thing. YASSHI distracts Kojima so that TARU can attack him from behind and bloody him up. All Kojima does is just sit there and bleed, while TARU finds various ways to work the cut, and lets YASSHI, ZODIAC, and Kondo join in on the fun, there’s a couple times that Kojima looks like he’ll take control, but the VM put the kibosh on it. It’d have helped if Kojima did a bit more than sit there and bleed, seeing how the blood loss affected him would have been a nice touch. Kojima hitting the lariat and being too out of it to climb to the top, thanks to the blood loss, works a lot better than Kojima hitting the lariat and Kondo grabbing his leg to prevent the elbow.
Kojima finally gets his chance to get some revenge when TARU kicks the ring post, but, sadly, it’s just an excuse to put TARU in trouble, and the spot itself doesn’t really mean anything. They’d have been just as well to have TARU hold Kojima for a boot from ZODIAC that Kojima ducks, or something like that. Then they don’t open the door for Kojima to work the leg (or for TARU to sell it) and then not follow up. Kojima’s offensive run isn’t anything mind-blowing. The only real notable thing he does is ape Kobashi’s chop flurry in the corner. There’s a nice moment when TARU catches him with a spinebuster, but TARU isn’t able to parlay that back into an advantage. TARU’s aping of Kojima’s lariat is actually pretty funny, as is Kojima’s no-sell of it. Kojima shows TARU how it’s done and the VM runs in for the DQ. VM beats up Kojima and Tenzan makes the save, which is quite fitting, not only given their history together, but also considering that Tenzan is also having an issue with a heel stable.
KEIJI MUTOH/AKIRA RAIJIN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA/HIROOKI GOTO
Forget Mutoh vs. Goto, give me Nakamura vs. Raijin! Raijin may be the token fall guy, but Nakamura makes him look great before beating him. It seems weird to see Nakamura in a grumpy vet sort of role, but that’s more or less what he is here. Raijin doesn’t take the beating and act all helpless and sympathetic about it, he takes his lumps and does his dead level best to hand it back. The best moment of the match was their heated forearm exchange, which ended with Raijin headbutting Nakamura in the face and forcing him to tag. Raijin also counters a Landslide to a Crucifix and plants Nakamura with his Lightning Flash and moonsault for a pair of good near falls. Nakamura has to scramble his brains with a roundhouse to the head so he can hit the Landslide to give the New Japan team the win. The match looks very similar to the Mutoh/Doering tags, with Mutoh staying out of things, only Raijin pulled his own weight much more than Doering.
The Mutoh/Goto interaction is kept to a minimum, which makes sense with their IWGP Title match on 8/30. But if the exchanges that they do have are any indication, that might have been for the best. They start with some mediocre mat work and then tag out. When they go at it again, it’s primarily Goto throwing out bombs, and a stupid spot where Goto no-sells the Shining Wizard, hits a charging lariat, and then collapses in a heap afterwards. The only worthwhile thing that come out of anything that Mutoh/Goto do is when Goto hits the Shouten and leaves Mutoh laying. The token fall guy shouldn’t be the standout performer in a match involving the IWGP Champion, the former IWGP Champion, and the G1 Climax winner, but it happened, and instead of being the usual disappointing affair, it ruled. ***1/4
Conclusion: An easy winner this time around. The Kojima/TARU match wasn’t very good, but it did its job of building to the 8/30 PPV show with the Tenkoji reunion. The tag match didn’t do much to create excitement for Mutoh/Goto (at least to me) but it was still a damn fine tag match.
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