review by Kevin Wilson
The Date: July 18th, 2004
Location: Tokyo, Japan
This week, I will be reviewing All Japan's July 18th, 2004 show. Here was the complete line-up, and the matches in bold are those shown in their entirety on Gaora TV and what I will be reviewing. While the tape has highlights from the other matches, I will not review the highlights.
- Ryuji Hijikata vs. Taichi Ishikari
- Nobukazu Hirai vs. Shiro Koshinaka
- TAKA Michinoku, Jamal, and Buchanan vs. Animal Warrior, Robert Gibson, and Gran Hamada
- Taiyo Kea vs. Tomoaki Honma
- Genichiro Tenryu and Masanobu Fuchi vs. Arashi and Nobutaka Araya
- AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kaz Hayashi (c) vs. Katsushi Takemura
- Keiji Mutoh vs. Osamu Nishimura
- Satoshi Kojima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa
- Triple Crown: Toshiaki Kawada (c) vs. Takao Omori
The show begins with a highlights package from past shows. It should be noted that the matches were shown out of order, which I am sure you would have noticed on your own. Just clarifying.....
Recap is shown from past cards leading up to the next match.
Kaz Hayashi (c) vs. Katsushi Takemura
This match is for the All Japan World Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Liger, Jado, and Gedo all come out with Takemura, and all four are part of the heel group Control Terrorism Unit in New Japan. Match begins quickly with Takemura charging across the ring and kicking Hayashi when he wasn't looking. Takemura tosses Hayashi out of the ring and follows him out, tossing him into the guardrail. While Hayashi is down, Takemura removes part of the blue mat outside the ring. Takemura scoop slams Hayashi on the concrete and goes back into the ring. Tired of waiting for Hayashi, after a minute Takemura goes back outside the ring to throw Hayashi back in. Kicks by Takemura to the downed Hayashi and he applies a side headlock. Hayashi Irish whips out of it, but Takemura shoulder blocks him down. Takemura bounces off the ropes, Hayashi ducks down, but Takemura snaps off a belly to belly overhead suplex. Takemura bounces off the ropes again, but this time Hayashi drop toeholds him right into the second rope. Hayashi runs up and gives Takemura a 619, sending Takemura to the outside. Hayashi follows him out with a plancha and then kicks him while he is down on the floor. Irish whip attempt by Hayashi, but it is reversed and he gets sent flying into the guardrail. Vertical suplex by Takemura on the outside and he tosses Hayashi back into the ring. Hayashi rolls back outside though, so Takemura goes back out as well. The two trade chops and punches, but Takemura regains the advantage with an eye rake and slams Hayashi into the ring post. After Hayashi rolled back into the ring, Takemura goes up to the apron and does a senton onto Hayashi over the top rope, driving his elbow into Hayashi's back. Kick to the gut by Takemura, but Hayashi fires back with a forearm shot. The two trade shots, with Takemura winning the duel with a powerslam. Cover, but only a two count. Irish whip by Takemura, reversed, and Hayashi gets a spinebuster. Lionsault by Hayashi, he picks Takemura up, Irish whip attempted, reversed, Hayashi rebounds off the ropes with a handstand (ala Tajiri), goes for a spinning kick, but Takemura blocks it. Takemura charges Hayashi, but Hayashi trips him up and applies an ankle lock. Jado jumps up on the apron, so Hayashi breaks the hold to go forearm him back to the mat. This allows Takemura time to get up and he clotheslines Hayashi over the top rope. Jado holds Hayashi for Takemura to do a plancha suicida on, but Hayashi moves and Jado takes the blow.
Hayashi then comes over the top rope with a tope suicida, (barely) bringing down Takemura. CTU has seen enough and starts kicking on Hayashi, but they are sent to the back by an official and a handful of All Japan wrestlers. Meanwhile, Hayashi manages to get back into the ring, where Takemura greets him with a kick to the head. Takemura goes for a suplex, but Hayashi blocks it. He finally gets him with a suplex over the top rope, Hayashi lands on the apron, but Takemura quickly guillotines him over the top rope and kicks him to the floor. Hayashi slowly makes his way back into the ring, but Takemura knocks him back onto the apron. Takemura then joins him on the apron and hits an overhead kick, sending Hayashi landing hard on the unprotected part of the floor (Takemura had removed the mat earlier). Hayashi slowly makes his way back into the ring, Takemura goes for a powerbomb, but Hayashi tosses him off. Takemura goes for a clothesline, Hayashi ducks it, Hayashi goes for a hurricanrana, but Takemura catches him and powerbombs him to the mat. Cover, it gets a two count, so Takemura turns the pin into a Boston crab. Hayashi makes it to the ropes however, Takemura goes for a belly to back suplex, but Hayashi lands on his feet. Hayashi then goes for a suplex, Takemura reverses it though and sends Hayashi into the referee, knocking him out. Spinning heel kick by Hayashi, MASADA runs in to interfere, but Hayashi kicks him back out of the ring. Hayashi hits an Air Raid Crash on Takemura, and then delivers the Final Cut. Cover (the referee wakes up), but it only gets a two count. Hayashi goes to pick up Takemura, but the referee goes for a ten count. Takemura gets up in time, Hayashi misses with an elbow, Takemura nails the spinning vertebreaker, cover, but it gets two. Powerbomb attempt by Takemura, but Hayashi reverses it into a face plant. Hayashi hits another Final Cut, but Takemura kicks out of the pin attempt. Hayashi goes for a dragon suplex, but Takemura reverses it into a roll-up for a two count. At this point MASADA runs in and hits Hayashi with a board. MASADA picks Hayashi up as Takemura goes to the top rope, but Hayashi Irish whips MASADA into the corner, knocking off Takemura. Hayashi then hits MASADA with the board, sending him out of the ring. Hayashi then nails the Air Raid Crash on Takemura from the top rope, cover, and the three count. Your winner and still champion: Kaz Hayashi
Post match: Hayashi gets a beat down from the CTU, including a triple powerbomb off the top rope.
Match Thoughts: A very nice opening junior heavyweight match. Ordinarily I am not a big fan of interference, but since Hayashi fought them off and persevered in the end it just made him look stronger. The match also got just under 15 minutes, which as you probably know by now I like matches to get at least 10 minutes so the wrestlers have the time to tell a story in the ring. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but Hayashi's bump on the concrete was pretty sick for a match that (in theory) should not have had any sick bumps. While I enjoyed the match, there really wasn't much in the way of ring psychology, and the interference did hurt the flow of the match. Solid opener though, no major complaints. Score: 6.5
Takemura seems upset backstage, and the CTU leave together.
A recap from the past tour cards show the lead up for the next match.
Keiji Mutoh vs. Osamu Nishimura
The two shake hands to start. They circle each other, tie-up, side headlock by Mutoh, Nishimura pushes him into the ropes, and gives a clean break (while lightly tapping him on the chest). Another tie-up, side headlock by Nishimura, Mutoh pushes him into the ropes, clean break, and Mutoh lightly taps him on the chest, obviously mocking Nishimura. Nishimura works his way to Mutoh's back and applies a reverse chinlock, then reverts it into a headscissors. Mutoh rolls out of it however and applies an ankle lock on Nishimura. Nishimura quickly reaches the ropes however, and both men are back on their feet. Test of Strength, Mutoh gets the advantage, but Nishimura bridges back up and flips Mutoh over his head. Tie-up, kick by Mutoh, and a side headlock takedown. Mutoh works the submission on the mat, Nishimura struggles back to his feet, Irish whip, and Mutoh shoulder blocks Nishimura down. Snapmare by Mutoh and he slaps on the head scissors. Nishimura eventually manages to get his foot on the ropes however and Mutoh breaks the hold. Both men back up again, kick by Mutoh, snapmare, and a quick elbow drop. The headscissors is re-applied by Mutoh, Nishimura manages to get out of it, but he lightly taps Mutoh on the leg and stands back up instead of attacking him. Mutoh rolls out of the ring to think things over before re-entering. Uppercut by Nishimura, and then two more. Nishimura applies the abdominal stretch, but Mutoh gets to the ropes and tosses Nishimura out of the ring. Nishimura gets back up on the apron, gets the sunset flip, but Mutoh rolls through and delivers the Shining Wizard. Dropkick by Mutoh to Nishimura's knee as he tries to get up, and then another one when he tries to get up again. Mutoh then snaps off a dragon screw leg whip and applies the figure four leg lock. After several painful minutes for Nishimura, he goes into a mantra of some sort to ease the pain. Mutoh then does the same thing, so both wrestlers are on their backs, not moving, while the move is still applied. The referee (confused) untangles them so that the match can continue. Mutoh spins up quickly and delivers another dropkick to Nishimura's knee. Mutoh goes for another Shining Wizard, but Nishimura blocks it and gives Mutoh an enzigieri. Nishimura then goes to the top rope and hits a knee drop to the back of Mutoh's leg. Nishimura positions Mutoh near the turnbuckle and drops another knee on his leg. Mutoh rolls to the outside, so Nishimura goes out to the apron and hits another knee drop to Mutoh's leg. Not done yet, Nishimura comes off the guardrail to knee drop Mutoh in the leg once again. Still not satisfied, he goes up to the apron and delivers a fifth knee drop to the leg of Mutoh. Mutoh gets back in the ring, and Nishimura applies an ankle lock to Mutoh's injured leg. Mutoh gets out of it however, gets to his feet, and the two trade punches. Mutoh goes for a dropkick, but Nishimura catches one of his legs and applies the spinning toe hold. Mutoh gets to the ropes though, so Nishimura backdrops Mutoh down to the mat. Nishimura goes up to the top rope once again, goes for the knee drop, but Mutoh rolls out of the way. Mutoh gets up quickly and hits the Shining Wizard. Mutoh is up first and he gives Nishimura another dragon screw leg whip. He goes for the figure four, but Nishimura reverses it into a roll-up pin for a two count. Mutoh goes for a dragon screw leg whip, but Nishimura reverses it into another pinning situation for a two count. This time Nishimura is up first, Irish whip, he goes for the backslide, but Mutoh flips over and nails the Shining Wizard. One final Shining Wizard, and this time it is over. Your winner: Keiji Mutoh
Match Thoughts: Well anytime you have Mutoh, you are assured that the ring psychology will be solid. While the match seemed to drag at times, there really wasn't anything wrong with it. Mutoh can put on a decent match without even trying, and while this match wasn't ground breaking in any way, it was a solid encounter. Anything that is not punch-kick-punch-kick (which was never done at all in this match) is always appreciated. Score: 6.5
Highlights are shown of Ryuji Hijikata vs. Taichi Ishikari, and then of Nobukazu Hirai vs. Shiro Koshinaka. In one minute of the match Koshinaka does the hip attack three times..... so it's probably a good thing I didn't review it.
The Six Way Tag Match is shown next in highlight form, with Buchanan getting the pin on Gran Hamada after the scissors kick.
Finally, we see the end of the Taiyo Kea vs. Tomoaki Honma match, with Kea winning via the Hawaiian Smasher.
Genichiro Tenryu and Masanobu Fuchi vs. Arashi and Nobutaka Araya
These guys are old. Arashi and Fuchi start things off. Tie-up, and a scoop slam by Arashi. Punch by Fuchi, he bounces off the ropes, but his shoulder block doesn't budge Arashi (which makes sense, since Arashi is double the size of Fuchi). Fuchi goes for another shoulder block, but again it doesn't work. So Fuchi dropkicks him, but Arashi isn't hurt by that either and dropkicks Fuchi down to the mat. Irish whip by Arashi and he hits a running clothesline in the corner. Another Irish whip, and another running clothesline. Arashi driller comes next, cover, but it only gets a two count. Arashi tags in Araya, who kicks on the still downed Fuchi. Vertical suplex by Araya, scoop slam, and he runs over to clothesline down Tenryu. Araya goes back to Fuchi and delivers a brainbuster. Cover, but Tenryu breaks it up. Araya tries to attack Tenryu, but Tenryu knocks him out with one punch. Fuchi covers, but only gets two. Araya gets up quickly and knocks Tenryu off the apron, but Fuchi comes up behind and gets a back suplex. Another back suplex by Fuchi, cover, but Araya kicks out at two. Irish whip by Fuchi into the corner, and Tenryu runs up and gives Araya a enzigieri from the apron. Fuchi follows up with a back suplex, cover, but another two count. Fuchi tags in the superior Tenryu, who goes to town on Araya with chops. Araya fights back with headbutts, but can't knock down Tenryu with a pair of lariats. Arashi then comes in to try, but he can't knock down Tenryu either. Tenryu clotheslines down Araya and gives Arashi a quick DDT. Tenryu hits a release German suplex on Araya, but Araya fires back with a clothesline that knocks down Tenryu. Fuchi comes back into the ring and gives Araya a back suplex. Chops and kicks by Tenryu, he snaps off a quick brainbuster, cover, but Arashi breaks it up. Double enzigieri on Arashi, and then a double enzigieri on Araya as well. Stiff clothesline by Tenryu follows, Fuchi runs over to hold down Arashi, cover by Tenryu on Araya, but Araya manages to kick out. Tenryu gives Araya some jabs and a kick to the face, nails the 53 year old (that's the name of the move, I don't mean he hit Fuchi), cover, and he gets the three count. Your winners: Tenryu and Fuchi
Match Thoughts: Tenryu single handedly saved this short tag match from being a disaster. From his facial expressions to his dominating control in the ring, he made the match better then it had any right to be. That is not saying it was a good match. Fuchi doesn't do anything for me, and Arashi is just your basic big man. The match was kept pretty short (around seven minutes), but I guess even Tenryu has his limitations. Score: 4.5
Recap dating back to May is shown for the next match.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa
Tie-up to start, Kojima gets Misawa into the ropes, and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, a series of chops by Kojima, but with one blow Misawa knocks Kojima down to the mat. Kojima rolls out of the ring for a moment before eventually coming back in. Tie-up, wristlock by Misawa, reversed by Kojima as they continue to struggle for position. Kojima gains the advantage and applies an arm lock submission. Misawa tries to get out of it, but Kojima slaps on a side headlock. Misawa manages to get to this feet, but Kojima takes him back down. Again Misawa gets to his feet, they struggle for a moment, but Misawa finally pushes Kojima into the ropes. Misawa does not give a clean break and forearms Kojima in the face. Kojima returns the forearms, as they trade shots in the middle of the ring. Irish whip by Misawa, and a flying clothesline knocks Kojima down. Cover, but it only gets one. Reverse chinlock applied by Misawa, but Kojima uses a jawbreaker to get out of it. Scoop slam by Kojima and he hits a running senton splash. Cover, but a two count. Reverse wristlock applied by Kojima, and then he nails a DDT. Reverse chinlock applied now, Misawa edges to the ropes, but just as he gets there Kojima lays back and keeps on the hold. Finally Misawa does manage to get to the ropes, Kojima breaks the hold and lays on the chops. Irish whip, and he hits the running elbow. Forearm to the head by Kojima and more chops. Irish whip again, Misawa slams on the breaks and turns around fast, but Kojima gets a release German suplex. Misawa gets up quickly and goes for a clothesline, but Kojima snaps off another release German suplex, just about killing Misawa. Kojima picks up Misawa and hits a Tiger Driver for a two count. Misawa rolls out onto the apron, gets up, but Kojima forearms him down to the mat. Kojima follows him over with a plancha, climbs back on the apron, and hits a cannonball. Kojima tosses Misawa back up onto the apron, goes for a Koji Cutter, Misawa blocks it at first, but Kojima still manages to get it and they both go down to the floor. Kojima goes for a powerbomb on the (still) unprotected part of the floor, but Misawa reverses it and hurricanranas Kojima into the guardrail. Misawa rolls back into the ring and Kojima follow him. Kicks and punches by Misawa and he hits the back suplex. Cover, but it barely gets two. Misawa goes for another kick, Kojima catches his leg, but Misawa connects with an enzigieri. Up to the top rope goes Misawa and he hits a missile dropkick.
Again he goes up top and this time he gets a frog splash for a two count. Misawa goes for a Tiger Driver, but Kojima blocks it. The two trade forearm shots, but Kojima sneaks in a Koji Cutter. Misawa doesn't really sell it though and gets a release German suplex. Kojima seems unphased and gives Misawa another Koji Cutter. Not to be outdone, Misawa is up first and gives Kojima a release tiger suplex. Kojima does not get up. Tiger Driver attempt again by Misawa, Kojima blocks it, so he hits a rolling kick instead. Finally Misawa gets off the Tiger Driver, cover, but Kojima kicks out at two. Misawa applies a reverse chinlock, cover, but a two count. Kojima rolls outside, Misawa fakes a dive, goes on the apron, but Kojima clotheslines him in the legs which sends him down to the floor. Kojima slams Misawa into the apron a few times and rolls back into the ring. With Misawa on the apron and himself in the ring, Kojima goes for a suplex, but Misawa lands on his feet and forearms Kojima down. Cover, but a two count. Kojima regains the advantage with a clothesline to the back of the head, puts Misawa up on the top rope and hits a Koji Cutter from the top. Cover, but another two count. Kojima delivers a brain buster, cover, but Misawa kicks out, quickly gets to his feet, and forearms Kojima down to the mat. Both men back up, Kojima goes for a clothesline, but Misawa blocks it and clotheslines Kojima down. Arm lock submission applied by Misawa, but Kojima makes it to the ropes. Kojima rolls outside, and Misawa follows him out with a dive through the ropes. Both men are on the apron now, and Misawa gives Kojima a Tiger Driver from the apron down to the floor. Misawa of course is up first, since Kojima looks knocked out. The referee comes out to check on him, but Kojima manages to get up and rolls back into the ring. Cover but Misawa, but he only gets two. Forearm shots by Kojima, but Kojima blocks one and gets in a lariat. Irish whip by Kojima and he hits another lariat. Cover, but another two count. Kojima forearms Misawa in the head, but Misawa returns the favor and hits the Emerald Frosion for a two count. Kojima suddenly gets up quickly and lariats Misawa to the mat. Cover, but he only gets a two count. Kojima removes his elbow pad and nails a running lariat, cover, but somehow Misawa kicks out. Misawa responds with a forearm shot, gives Kojima the always vicious Tiger Driver '91, and he gets the three count. Your winner: Mitsuharu Misawa
Post match: Misawa waits for Kojima to make it to his feet (which takes a few minutes) and the two shake hands.
Match Thoughts: This was a great match. I knew that Misawa could put on great matches, but I had yet to see Kojima in one. While I think that Misawa was the stronger wrestler, Kojima more then held his own and took some rough bumps in the process. The match was over 26 minutes, and Kojima actually sold his arm injury for most the match. The crowd was very into the match, especially during the last five minutes or so. Misawa is hands down one of the top three wrestlers in Japan right now (along with Kobashi and Kawada), and he really elevated Kojima to his level in this match. Kojima still uses the headlock as a stall move more then I would like, which is the only thing critical I can say about either of their performances. One of the best matches I have seen in some time. Score: 8.0
A recap setting up the next match is shown. Included is a clip of when Kawada broke his right pinky throwing a punch. You know that hurt.
Triple Crown: Toshiaki Kawada (c) vs. Takao Omori
Tie-up to begin the match, Omori gets Kawada into the ropes and gives a clean break. Waistlock by Kawada, Omori reverses it into a wristlock and then into a headlock, but Kawada gets on a wristlock of his own. Omori reverses that into an armbar, but Kawada muscles out of it and slaps Omori from the mounted position. Omori tries to return fire, Kawada sneaks in a kick, and the two trade forearms. Running kick by Kawada finds it's mark, but Omori blocks the attempted high kick. Dropkick to the knee by Omori and a dragon screw leg whip. Omori backs off of Kawada, and the two trade chops. Omori goes for the arm, but Kawada nails a back kick, sending Omori reeling into the corner. The referee goes to check on Omori, but Kawada comes over and drops a knee on this throat. Kicks to the chest by Kawada and a kick to the back of the head. Kawada sells that he hurt his leg though, and the referee signals for a doctor to come look at it. Omori does not appreciate Kawada getting a break and runs over to stomp on him. The referee tries to stop Omori, but Omori just tosses him away. The referee does manage to get him back for a moment, but Omori comes rushing back and begins to work on Kawada's injured leg. Dragon screw leg whip by Omori and he applies an ankle lock. Kawada makes it to the ropes, so Omori stomps on Kawada's leg as it is draped across the bottom rope. Kawada tries to stand up, but he falls back down. Omori continues stomping on Kawada's leg and then applies a single leg Boston crab. Kawada does manage to make it to the ropes though and rolls out of the ring. The doctor now finally gets to him, but Omori comes around and the two trade slaps and chops. Omori tries to Irish whip Kawada into the guardrail, but Kawada reverses it and follows up with a running kick to the face, sending Omori over the guardrail. Omori gets back up to the apron, but Kawada kicks him back off. After a few elbows to the back of the head, Kawada tries to suplex Omori back into the ring. Omori tries to reverse it, so Kawada releases the hold and goes out on the apron as well. He tries to give Omori a Tiger Driver off the apron (like Misawa did to Kojima in the last match), but Omori blocks it. The two trade forearms on the apron, Omori goes for some type of body drop, but Kawada blocks it.
Kick by Kawada (note that they are still on the apron), he goes for a back suplex, but Omori blocks that as well. Kawada nails the jumping high kick however, and Omori rolls down to the floor. The referee begins to count him out, but Kawada goes back outside to bring him back in. Cover, but a two count. Back drop suplex by Kawada, then he drags Omori to his feet and nails another one. Cover, but only a two count. Dragon sleeper applied by Kawada, but Omori makes it to the ropes. Kawada goes for another back drop suplex, but Omori elbows out of it. A pair of kicks by Kawada hits the target, but Omori fires back with a European uppercut. The two trade forearms, Omori gets a kick, Kawada goes for a kick, but Omori catches his leg and hammer down on it with this forearm. Full nelson slam by Omori, he goes out to the apron as if to go to the top rope, but Kawada is up and forearms him before he can begin climbing. Omori forearms him back and re-enters the ring. Piledriver attempt by Omori, Kawada blocks it at first, but after a forearm to the back Omori is able to finish the move. Omori now goes to the top rope and drops a knee to Kawada's back. Cover, but Kawada kicks out at two. Kawada gets up as Omori does, gets a kick to the face in, both men go for a lariat, but their arms hit each other. Kawada nails a jumping high kick, but Omori fires back with an Axe Bomber. Kawada doesn't sell it and gets up quickly to hit another jumping high kick, but Omori is not effected and hits another Axe Bomber. Again Kawada is up quickly, Omori nails another one, cover, but only gets a two count. Omori picks up Kawada and goes for his Axe Guillotine Driver, but Kawada knees his way out of it. Knees to the gut by Kawada and he hits the brainbuster. Kawada then delivers a powerbomb, cover, but another two count. Omori fights back with a slap as the two trade blows, but Kawada regains the advantage with a jumping high kick. Cover, but Omori kicks out. Kawada goes for another powerbomb, but Omori reverses it into his Axe Guillotine Driver. Cover, but somehow Kawada barely kicks out. The two both hit kicks to the head, but Kawada is up first and hits a running lariat. Cover, but a two count. Back drop suplex by Kawada, another cover, but again a two count. This time Kawada goes for a running soccer kick, nails it, and gets the three count. Your winner and still champion: Toshiaki Kawada
Post match: Kawada celebrates in the ring, and then gets a mic and makes some very insightful comments.
Match Thoughts: A very good match between these two. Kawada sold the leg well the entire match, which you rarely see these days. I had never gotten the chance to see Omori's Axe Guillotine Driver, but its a pretty good move that gets him the win 95% of the time. While this match was entertaining, it had the rough job of following the Misawa/Kojima match and it is hard not to compare them. It was a nice touch though with Kawada going for the Tiger Driver off the apron, since he and Misawa have had a long rivalry that has lasted for over a decade and it made sense that he would try to show him up. Solid match in just about every dimension and a good way to close out the show. Score: 7.5
It is difficult to give a full recommendation for a show with only five matches, but it was still a very solid event. Nothing was bad, and the Misawa/Kojima match was fantastic. Mutoh is starting to show his age, but he still puts on a good match. In the tag match I would have to call Tenryu a miracle worker for getting a decent match out of that group. All around a good effort put forth by all the wrestlers, as All Japan continues to regain its greatness it had in the mid-90s.
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