review by Kevin Wilson
The Date: April 13th, 2002
Location: Tokyo, Japan
I guess I better explain this one. The Champion Carnival is a point system based tournament that lasts for several weeks. Keiji Mutoh won the tournament, and then on the final night of the tour (and the show on PPV), he got a shot at the prestigious Triple Crown. The Triple Crown had been held up since Kawada had forfeited the title several months earlier due to an injury. Since this was the big "go home" card on the tour, there were other titles on the line as well. This is my first review of a Japanese card, and hopefully I will be able to do more in the future. Puroresu is the only reason I am still such a huge wrestling fan today, as it has revitalized my interest in wrestling since I started watching it a few years ago. Who knows, it might do the same for you. The entire card was as follows:
- Nobukazu Hirai vs. Yasu Urano
- Kaz Hayashi, Jimmy Yang, and Hi69 vs. Kazushi Miyamoto, Gran Naniwa, and Ryuji Hijikata
- Hiroshi Hase and Hideki Hosaka vs. George Hines and Tomoaki Honma
- Masanobu Fuchi vs. Kendo Ka Shin
- Steve Williams, Rotundo, and Yoji Anjo vs. Barton, Jim Steele, and The Cedman
- Mitsuya Nagai and Shigeo Okumura vs. Arashi and Nobutaka Araya
- Taiyo Kea vs. Satoshi Kojima
- Genichiro Tenryu vs. Keiji Mutoh
Nobukazu Hirai vs. Yasu Urano
Tie-up to start, as Urano gets an armbar to take Hirai down. Hirai regains the advantage however with a armdrag takedown and holds it for a submission hold. They trade mat holds, headlock by Hirai, Urano tries to Irish whip out of it, but can't. Finally, he does manage to do so, but gets shoulder tackled down for his trouble. Scoop slam by Hirai and he kicks on Urano while he is down on the mat. More kicks, but Urano whips off a pair of armdrag takedowns. Arm submission by Urano, but Hirai reverses it with a scoop slam. Hirai throws Urano into the turnbuckle and lays on the chops. He attempts to Irish whip Urano out of the ropes, but it is reversed, and Urano performs a slow-mo tornado DDT off the ropes. Urano dropkicks Hirai out of the ring and hits the pescado over the top rope. Kicks by Urano outside the ring, he throws Hirai back inside and hits a missile dropkick off the top rope. Cover, but only a two count. Urano bounces off the ropes, but Hirai catches him with a stiff lariat. Cover, but a two count. Hirai picks Urano up, Irish whip, and a back bodydrop. Hirai applies a single leg Boston crab but Urano reaches the ropes. Side slam by Hirai, cover, but Urano kicks out. Hirai now applies a regular Boston crab, but again Urano reaches the ropes. Hirai picks Urano up and the two trade punches. Hirai gets the better of it though and knocks Urano to the mat. Hirai attempts a brain buster, but Urano slips behind him and gets a schoolboy for a two count. Drop toehold by Urano into a pin, but another two count. Urano goes for a hurricanrana, but Hirai catches him and delivers a quick powerbomb. Elevated Boston crab by Hirai, and this time Urano must tap out. Your winner: Nobukazu Hirai
Post match: Hirai offers a handshake, which Urano accepts.
Match Thoughts: A short opener, and one that the crowd didn't really seem to care about. From the looks of it Urano is a new wrestler and Hirai was sent out to work him over. Notice that Hirai pretty much didn't sell that missile dropkick at all... this is not unusual in All Japan, and you will see more instances of this as the event goes on. Nothing really wrong with it, but not spectacular or really worth watching, not to mention very short (around five minutes). Score: 4.0
Kaz Hayashi, Jimmy Yang & Hi69 vs. Kazushi Miyamoto, Gran Naniwa & Ryuji Hijikata
Ok, I only know what three of these guys look like, so this might take awhile. Hi69 and Miyamoto start things off. Waistlock by Miyamoto, reversed by Hi69, but back into a back wristlock. Hi69 gets out of it, headlock takedown by Miyamoto, reversed into headscissors by Hi69, and both men are back to their feet. Tie-up, armbreaker by Miyamoto and he tags in Hijikata. Snapmare by Hijikata into a reverse chinlock. Hi69 escapes the hold and lays on kicks to Hijikata's legs. Yang is tagged in, Irish whip, and a high dropkick. Cover, but a two count. Irish whip by Yang into the corner and a running shoulder thrust. Backbreaker by Yang, another cover, but again Hijikata kicks out. Yang slaps on a Cobra Twist, but Naniwa reaches through the ropes and calmly pokes him in the eyes. Naniwa is tagged in and he pokes Yang in the eyes again. To the top rope, crabwalk, but he misses the elbow which allows Yang to tag in Kaz. Tie-up, headlock by Kaz, Irish whip, and a shoulder block by Kaz. Kaz bounces off the ropes, headlock takedown, reversed into a head scissors by Naniwa, but Kaz quickly gets out of it. The two trade stiff slaps, but Kaz cheats by nailing a spinning heel kick. Scoop slam by Kaz followed by a slingshot swanton from the ropes. Kaz tags in Hi69 who delivers an elbow to the head for a two count. Headlock applied, but Naniwa muscles his way to his corner and tags in Miyamoto. Kicks by Miyamoto in the corner and a vertical suplex. Cover, but Hi69 kicks out at two. Cross armbar by Miyamoto, but he can't get it fully locked on before Hi69 gets to the ropes. Miyamoto continues working over Hi69's arm, scoop slam, and Naniwa is tagged back in. Naniwa grabs Hi69's arm, goes to the top, does the crab walk, and comes down on Hi69's arm. Think "Old School," but with a crabwalk instead of walking across the top rope. Armbar by Naniwa is applied, but Hi69 makes it to the ropes. Naniwa tags in Hijikata, Irish whip into the corner, and Hijikata nails the running forearm shot to the face. Modified vertical suplex by Hijikata, cover, but Hi69 kicks out at two. Cross armbar by Hijikata, but Yang breaks it up. This brings in Naniwa, who tosses Yang out of the ring in quick order. Irish whip by Hijikata, but he misses the kick with allows Hi69 to (barely) hit a dropkick. Hi69 picks up Hijikata quickly, scoop slam, moonsault, cover, but a two count. Hi69 goes for a high kick on Hijikata, but Hijikata sees it coming and sweeps Hi69's leg out from under him. Kick to the head by Hijikata and he manages to tag in Miyamoto. Miyamoto clubs on Hi69's back, Irish whip, and a running forearm. Cobra clutch/giant swing by Miyamoto, cover, but Hi69 kicks out. Waistlock by Miyamoto, reversed, but Miyamoto switches things back and applies the Argentine backbreaker (similar to the torture rack). Yang runs in, so Miyamoto swings Hi69 into him, knocking him down. Kaz then runs in, and Miyamoto kicks him in the stomach before tossing Hi69 onto him. Irish whip by Miyamoto, reversed, and Hi69 nails the jawbreaker. Kick by Hi69, then a Shiranui off the second rope (similar to Sliced Bread #2). Hi69 tags in Kaz, but Miyamoto sees him coming and delivers a rough release belly to back suplex. Miyamoto tags in Naniwa, who snaps off a tornado DDT. Kaz goes for a suplex, Naniwa lands on his feet, but the Naniwa-attempted hurricanrana is reversed by Kaz into a powerbomb. Kaz goes to the top rope, Naniwa runs over to knock him off, fails, and Kaz delivers a hurricanrana. Kaz goes for a dive on the slumped Naniwa in the corner, but Naniwa avoids the charge. Spinning tornado DDT by Naniwa off the second rope, cover, but a two count. Naniwa goes for a powerbomb but Kaz reverses it into a face buster. Naniwa tags in Hijikata as Kaz tags in Yang. Yang misses a flying heel kick, but Hijikata misses a kick of his own, so Yang maintains control. Irish whip by Yang, reversed, and Hijikata nails a stiff kick to the head. Hijikata picks Yang up, Irish whip, reversed, Yang kick flips off Hijikata in the corner, charges again, gets flipped over onto the apron, goes to the top rope, and hits a diving neckbreaker. Cover, but Miyamoto breaks it up. Kaz comes in as do Hi69 and Naniwa, Kaz and Hi69 get their opponents out of the ring, and then hit simultaneous topes over the top rope. Inside the ring, Yang delivers his Yang Time (corkscrew splash) off the top rope for the three count. Your winners: Kaz Hayashi, Jimmy Yang & Hi69
Match Thoughts: Kaz Hayashi and Jimmy Yang both wrestled for WCW right before it died, so you might have seen them before. Also, Yang was "Akio" in WWE. Gran Naniwa of course participated in the Super J Cups of yesteryear. There was nothing wrong with the match... actually, I was surprised there were not more "high spots." Even though All Japan is not known for lots of high spots in matches like New Japan is, with the wrestlers participating I was just expecting more. They attempted some form of ring psychology, it is just hard to get anything flowing in a six man match. I was impressed with Kaz's intensity, and Yang was the only one that seemed out of place. Not spectacular, but a very solid showing. Score: 6.5
Hiroshi Hase and Hideki Hosaka vs. George Hines and Tomoaki Honma
Handshake to begin. It is easy to tell that Honma is a hardcore wrestler, since he has scars and marks all over his back. Hines and Hosaka start off. Tie-up, armbar by Hines, reversed into a wristlock by Hosaka, then into a waistlock by Hines, into a waistlock for Hosaka, and finally Hines takes down Hosaka with a front face lock. Hosaka reverses that into a wristlock, and pushes Hines into the corner for the clean break. Side headlock by Hines applied, Hosaka Irish whips his way out of it, but Hines shoulders him down. Hosaka goes for a hiptoss, but Hines reverses it into one of his own. Hosaka dropkicks Hines out of the ring, and then follows him out with a tope suicida. Hosaka slams Hines into the ring post before bringing him up onto the apron. Once there though Hines nails Hosaka with a scissors kick. Hines rolls Hosaka back into the ring, cover, but a two count. Hines gives Hosaka a Russian leg sweep, cover, but another two count. Hines tags in Honma, who quickly nails a running forearm to the face. Honma bounces off the ropes, but Hosaka catches him with a hurricanrana. Stomp to the back of the head, and Hase is tagged in. Chops to the chest by Hase, side headlock, Irish whip, but Hase shoulders Honma down. Hase then gives Honma the old Giant Swing, swinging him around 30 times. Yes, 30 times, I counted. Hase goes to yell at Hines and the two taunt each other. Finally Hase feels the effects of the swing he just gave and tags in Hosaka. Kick by Hosaka (Hase is laying on the mat in his corner), cover, but only a two count. Reverse chinlock by Hosaka, but Honma suplexes out of it. Hines it tagged in, Irish whip, and a dropkick. Pair of headbutts by Hines, and then he applies the sharpshooter. Hosaka reaches the ropes however, so Hines applies an abdominal stretch. Hines tags in Honma, double suplex, cover, but only two. Chinlock by Honma is applied followed by a series of kicks to the back. Hase is tagged in, double Irish whip, and a double shoulderblock takedown. Boston crab by Hase as Hosaka decides to come in and kick on Honma. Hase breaks the hold, puts Honma up on his shoulders, and then drops him over his knee for a gutbuster.
Hase tags in Hosaka, kick and an elbow by Hosaka, cover, but a two count. Hase is tagged back in, and he suplexes Honma onto the ropes. Honma lands on the apron, so Hase and Hosaka suplex him back over the top rope. Cover by Hosaka, but a two count. Hosaka knocks Hines off the apron, delivers a knee drop to Honma, cover, but a two count. Hase is tagged in, and they together kick on Honma's midsection. Elbow to the midsection by Hase, he tags in Hosaka, and Honma takes a knee to the gut. Shoulder tackles by Hosaka in the corner, and Hase is tagged back in. Scoop slam by Hase, he bounces off the ropes, and gives Honma a stiff kick to the head. He then does it again just for good measure. The third time seemed excessive, but the fourth kick was just mean. Honma agrees with me, and goes nuts on Hase with a variety of blows to the head. Hase trades the blows, but Honma downs him with a lariat. Honma tags in Hines, who goes to work on Hase. Irish whip by Hines and a scissor kick to the face. Hosaka runs in, so Hines of course kicks him as well. Running scissor kick to Hase in the corner, cover, but a two count. Hase fights back with some chops, Irish whip, reversed, and Hines nails the full nelson sit-down powerbomb. Cover, but Hase kicks out. Hines goes for a belly to back suplex, but Hase holds him off long enough for Hosaka to run in and clothesline him down. Hines tags in Honma, who throws Hase into the corner. Chops by Honma, Irish whip, running forearm blow, and a bulldog to finish Hase off. Cover, but Hase kicks out. Series of slaps by Honma, which brings in Hosaka to help. Hines runs over to cut off Hosaka, Hase comes up from behind to get a wristlock on Honma, Honma reverses it, Hase gets it back on, and Hosaka comes out of nowhere with the spear on Honma. Hosaka knocks Hines over the top rope as Hase gets the northern lights suplex on Honma for the three count. Your winners: Hiroshi Hase and Hideki Hosaka
Match Thoughts: Hase was not a regular wrestler at this point in his career, and was spending more time with his full time job (senator). The 30 rotations on the Giant Swing was just nuts though. The match itself was a pretty standard tag team match, with the only surprises being when they did moves I don't see too often in America. At least Hase and Hosaka did focus on a body part of Honma (midsection) throughout the entire match. Once again another solid match, although not as entertaining as the last one. Score: 6.0
Masanobu Fuchi vs. Kendo Ka Shin
This match is for the vacant All Japan Junior Heavyweight Championship. For visual purposes, Fuchi appears to be over 50 years old, and Shin is a younger wrestler that wears a mask. Tie-up to start, Fuchi pushes Shin into the ropes, clean break. Shin asks for a handshake, Fuchi hesitates, so Shin grabs Fuchi's hand and shakes it. Tie-up, Shin pushes Fuchi into the ropes, but instead of a clean break delivers a pair of uppercuts. Irish whip by Fuchi and a dropkick. Another dropkick by Fuchi, he picks Shin up, goes for a suplex, but Shin grabs the ropes to block it and bails out of the ring. Shin eventually comes back into the ring, tie-up, side headlock by Fuchi reverted into a drop toehold which is held for a leg submission. Fuchi lets Shin up before bringing him back down and applying the headscissors. Shin manages to get out of it, and the two struggle for position. Fuchi wins that battle and applies a modified STF into a modified wakigatame (Crippler Crossface). Wristlock by Fuchi, then he rolls Shin over to apply a combo wristlock/headscissors. Shin again manages to get out of it after a few minutes and applies a camel clutch. Fuchi quickly gets out of it and begins to work on Shin's left leg and ankle. Shin regains control and applies a headlock, but Fuchi is quickly to the ropes. Shin clubs on Fuchi's back, but Fuchi fires back with gutwrench powerbomb. Fuchi goes for the suplex, but Shin blocks it. Fuchi instead places Shin on the top rope, joins him, goes for a superplex, but a low blow sends him back down to the mat. Shin climbs down and goes the rolling cradle for a two count. Shin kicks on Fuchi, picks him up, and tosses him out of the ring. Shin follows him out and throws him into the guardrail. Shin kicks Fuchi down and tosses him back into the ring. Shin climbs up to the top turnbuckle while having his legs around Fuchi's neck and applies a reverse triangle choke over the top rope (similar to a tarantula, but more painful and illegal looking). Shin gets back into the ring after releasing the hold and kicks on Fuchi while he was down. Blatant choke by Shin with some tape from his wrist, which the referee finally breaks up. Tree of Woe by Shin as he chokes Fuchi some more. A pair of uppercuts by Shin follow, but Fuchi fights back with his own punches. A big kick finally knocks Shin down, Fuchi picks him back up and tosses him so he straddles over the top rope. Choke by Fuchi by the ropes, snapmare, and copious punches to the head. Fuchi places Shin laying across the top turnbuckle and stretches him over it. Fuchi lays Shin against the ropes, climbs out to the apron, and stretches him again. Shin rolls out of the ring, Fuchi follows him out, Shin quickly gets back in the ring, and when Fuchi re-enters he is met with a barrage of kicks. Shin bounces off the ropes, but Fuchi manages to apply the sleeperhold. Clubs by Fuchi to the back of Shin and he nails the backdrop suplex. Fuchi picks Shin up and delivers another backdrop suplex. Cover, but Shin kicks out at two. As Fuchi goes for another one, the referee gets bumped, as Shin applies the cross armbar. The referee quickly awakes, as Fuchi is tapping with his legs wrapped around the bottom rope. The referee sees this, calls for the break, but Shin will not break the hold. So the referee stomps on Shin until he breaks it (why don't all referees do that?). This pisses off Shin, so he shoves the referee to the mat and pushes him down with his foot. Fuchi gets up though, hits a kick, and nails another backdrop suplex. Fuchi goes for a fourth backdrop suplex, but again Shin reverses it into a cross armbreaker. This time they are in the middle of the ring, the referee is awake, and Fuchi quickly taps. Your winner and new champion: Kendo Ka Shin
Match Thoughts: Well this match was much ado about nothing. While I appreciate matwork, I only appreciate it if it is done well and builds to something. Neither was the case in this match. While I can tell that Fuchi was at one point a solid wrestler, at this stage of his career perhaps he should not be in lightweight title matches. I understand that the cross armbar is Shin's finishing maneuver, but where was the buildup? At what point did he work on Fuchi's arm? It wasn't really a bad match, it just wasn't entertaining. It also really didn't resemble what one thinks of as a "junior heavyweight" match. And while I am glad it got a lot of time (17 minutes), I don't think the time was used as wisely as it could have been. Score: 4.0
Steve Williams, Mike Rotundo & Yoji Anjo vs. Mike Barton, Jim Steele & The Cedman
The American match on the card. Rotundo and Cedman start things off. Tie-up, and a fireman's carry takeover by Rotundo. Back on their feet, tie-up, and an armdrag by Cedman. Tie-up again, knee to the gut by Rotundo, Irish whip, he goes for a back bodydrop, Cedman kicks him in the face, he bounces off the ropes, but Rotundo gets the armdrag takedown. Scoop slam by Rotundo, but Cedman avoids the elbow. Hiptoss by Cedman, but Rotundo regains the advantage and tags in Anjo. Knee lift by Anjo and he works over Cedman in the corner. Snapmare by Anjo and a fist drop. Cover, but a two count. Side headlock by Anjo and Williams is tagged in. Kick to the gut by Williams but Cedman fights back. Williams hits a stiff punch though, knocking Cedman down. Chops in the corner by Williams and another jab to the face. Cedman fights back with chops, but again Williams knocks him back. Williams slams Cedman into his Cedman's corner, which allows him to tag in Steele. Waistlock by Williams into a single leg takedown, but Steele reverses it into a wristlock. Punches by Steele, snapmare, and a running neck snap from behind. Knee smash by Steele, but Williams punches him back. Punch to the back by Steele and he slams him into the turnbuckle. Williams is not affected though, tie-up, knee to the gut by Steele, Irish whip, but Williams gets his boot up when Steele charges. Williams goes for a clothesline, Steele ducks it, Steele goes for a clothesline, but Williams ducks it. Tie-up, side headlock by Steele, Williams gets Steele in the corner and delivers a series of shoulder blocks to the ribs. Kick to the head by Williams, then he slams him into the turnbuckle. Williams chops on Steele in the corner, but Steele fights back. The two trade punches, side headlock by Williams, Irish whip, the two collide in the middle of the ring, but neither man goes down. Williams bounces off the ropes but can't knock Steele down. This time Steele bounces off the ropes but he can't knock Williams down. Now they both go off the ropes, collide, and again they both stay standing. Kick to the gut by Steele, club to the back, Irish whip, reversed, ducked clothesline, and a flying shouldertackle. Steele picks Williams up, Irish whip to the corner, Steele charges, but Williams moves out of the way which sends Steele up and over the top rope.
Outside the ring Rotundo works over Steele, sending him into the guardrail and the steel post. Finally he does throw him back in, where Williams proceeds to kick him in the midsection. Barton randomly comes in and starts beating on Williams, but the referee gets him out. Williams hangs Steele in the Tree of Woe and chokes him with his boot. For at least a minute. Finally he stops and Anjo is tagged in. Chops by Anjo and a kick to the chest. Irish whip by Anjo and he nails a running kick to the head. Anjo chokes Steele in the corner, and Williams from the outside chokes him as well. Rotundo is tagged in, Irish whip, and a clothesline in the corner. Steele manages to sneak in a DDT though and tags in Cedman. Clothesline by Cedman, he knocks Williams off the ropes, spinning elbow on Rotundo, cover, but a two count. Irish whip by Cedman and a powerslam. Cover, but another two. Full nelson bomb by Cedman, another cover, but Williams breaks it up. Anjo is tagged, he delivers a reverse DDT for a two count. Anjo knocks Cedman into the corner, Irish whip, and Anjo nails the flying forearm. Another Irish whip, but this time he gets a drop toehold put on him as he charges. This allows Cedman to tag in Barton, as the crowd cheers for the first time in the match. Barton delivers a series of forearms, Irish whip, and a clothesline in the corner. Barton follows that with another clothesline in the corner, Irish whip, and a boot to the face. This does not really phase Anjo though, as he hits a series of shots to the midsection and stomps on Barton's foot. Williams is tagged in, but Barton catches him with a shot to the stomach. Cedman is tagged in, he comes off the top rope, and hits a flying clothesline. Cover, but a two count. Williams tries to fight back with a series of elbows, but Cedman hits him with a dropkick. Full nelson is applied by Williams, Irish whip, reversed, Williams charges, but Cedman kicks him in the face for his troubles. Cedman goes to the top rope, but Anjo runs over to stop him from jumping off. Williams joins him on the top rope and hits the superplex. Cover, but Cedman kicks out. Anjo comes in the ring to hit a running forearm, then Rotundo comes in to hit the airplane spin. Williams applies the STF, but Steele comes in to break it up. Anjo runs in to take care of Steele, as Cedman gets a back bodydrop on Williams. Williams quickly gets a spinebuster though, cover, but Cedman kicks out. Williams hits his stiff back suplex, cover, and he gets the three count. Your winners: Steve Williams, Mike Rotundo, and Yoji Anjo
Match Thoughts: Lots of punching and kicking. That's all I should have typed for the play by play. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but the middle was pretty brutal to watch. It was very 80s in style, and I don't mean that in a positive way. This match was a nice combination of wrestlers that are past their prime and wrestlers that will probably never be that good. Barton is Bart Gunn of WWF fame by the way, and for some reason he didn't really do anything in this match. Which is a shame, since (scarily enough) he was one of the best wrestlers present. Once again I would say this match was fundamentally sound, but just boring as all hell. Score: 3.5
Mitsuya Nagai and Shigeo Okumura vs. Arashi and Nobutaka Araya
This match is for the vacant All-Asian Tag Team Championship. Araya and Okumura start things off. A big lariat by Araya starts things off quickly, cover, but a two count. Araya picks Okumura up and clubs him on the back. The two trade punches and forearms, but Okumura gets a release German suplex and drops Araya right on his head. Araya fires back with a lariat, and both men are down. Araya is up first, but Okumura takes him down with a side headlock. Araya gets to his feet, but Okumura tags in Nagai. Tie-up and a Test of Strength, which is won by Nagai. Arm wrench applied, but Araya pushes Nagai back into the corner and tags in Arashi. Tie-up, Arashi pushes Nagai into the ropes, and a clean break. Another tie-up, side headlock by Arashi, Irish whip, and Arashi knocks Nagai down. Scoop slam by Arashi, he picks him up, and the two trade blows. Arashi gets the better of it, and he tags in Araya. Irish whip, and a double shoulderblock on Nagai. Cover by Araya, but only a two count. Clubs to the back by Araya, but Nagai manages to tag in Okumura. Snapmare by Okumura and a reverse chinlock is applied. Araya slowly gets back to his feet, but Okumura tags in Nagai. Kick to the gut by Nagai and he begins to work on Araya's left arm. Headscissors by Nagai, but Araya makes it to the ropes. Nagai goes for a kick in the corner, but Araya catches his foot and applies a single leg Boston crab. Araya tags in Arashi, who stomps away on Nagai. Arashi picks Nagai up and continues kicking him. Nagai returns with punches and tags in Okumura. Okumura and Arashi trade punches, Irish whip by Arashi and a spinning elbow. Arashi tags in Araya, Irish whip, and a dropkick. Cover, but a two count. Scoop slam by Araya and an elbow drop. Cover, but another two count. Chinlock applied by Araya, but Okumura reverses it into a reverse wristlock. Stomp to the arm by Okumura, arm wrench, and Nagai is tagged in. Nagai also works on the arm of Araya and then tags Okumura back in. Arm wrench by Okumura into an armbar. Araya reverses it into a headlock and tags in Arashi. Irish whip by Arashi and a dropkick. Arashi applies the single leg Boston crab on Okumura but releases the hold. Araya is tagged back in, Irish whip, and a clothesline. Cover, but a two count. Araya nails the piledriver, cover, but Okumura kicks out. Araya tags Arashi back in, Araya holds Okumura for Arashi, but Arashi hits Araya by mistake. Nagai runs in and assaults Arashi, and then goes back to the apron so that Okumura can tag in him. Kicks by Nagai on Arashi followed by knees in the corner.
Vertical suplex by Nagai, cover, but Arashi kicks out. Nagai goes for a suplex, but Arashi reverses it into a Diamond Cutter. Arashi tosses Nagai out of the ring, allowing Araya to throw him into the guardrail before sending him back into the ring. Araya takes over as the legal man and delivers the STO for a two count. The two trade forearms, but Nagai gets the advantage with a series of kicks and tags in Okumura. Clothesline in the corner by Okumura, then Nagai comes off the top rope with a knee to Araya's face. Swanton by Okumura, cover, but a two count. Lariat by Okumura, but Araya kicks out once again. Killer brainbuster by Okumura, cover, but Arashi breaks it up. Arashi goes ahead and hits a release German suplex on Okumura while he is in the ring anyway, then goes to the apron so Araya can tag him in. Arashi clubs on Okumura's back, Irish whip, and a clothesline in the corner. Powerbomb by Arashi, but Nagai breaks it up. Another powerbomb by Arashi, he goes to the top rope and nails the frogsplash. Cover, but somehow Okumura kicks out. Back suplex by Arashi, cover, but another two count. Arashi tags in Araya, he bounces off the ropes, but Okumura catches him with an exploder. Nagai is tagged in, and he is mad. Irish whip, and he knees him in the gut. Running knee smash by Nagai (similar to the Shining Wizard, only instead of jumping he simply slams his knee in his face), cover, but a two count. Fisherman's suplex by Nagai follows, another cover, and this time Arashi breaks it up. Okumura runs in to take care of Arashi, scoop slam by Nagai on Araya, he goes to the apron and nails the springboard knee strike. Cover, but Araya kicks out. Arashi comes over to beat on Nagai, then catches Okumura with a clothesline. Powerbomb by Arashi on Nagai, Araya makes the cover, but Nagai kicks out. Nagai punches on Araya, but Araya returns the blows. Araya hits a stiff lariat, cover, but again Nagai kicks out. Scoop slam by Araya, he goes to the top rope and nails the moonsault. Cover, but another two count. Araya bounces off the ropes to gain momentum, but Nagai catches him with a pair of kicks to the head. Nagai finally tags in Okumura, Okumura to the top rope, and he hits the missile drop kick. A release dragon suplex by Okumura drops Araya right on his neck and head, cover, but Araya barely kicks out. Wakigatame by Okumura, as Nagai runs in to apply a guillotine choke on Arashi. Arashi finally breaks free though just in time to save Araya. Enzuigiri by Nagai on Arashi, but Arashi comes back with a spinning heel kick. Clothesline by Arashi on Okumura and a spinning heel kick by Araya on Okumura. Cover by Araya, but Nagai runs over to break it up. Arashi applies a guillotine choke on Nagai, as Araya delivers a brainbuster on Okumura. Cover, but Okumura gets his shoulder up. They both slowly get up, and Araya just about kills him with a lariat. Cover, and a three count. Your winners and new champions: Arashi & Nobutaka Araya
Match Thoughts: Wow, what a hard hitting match. From the knee strikes to the slaps to the lariats, these men were not messing around. It is a wonder that no one was hurt, even though I am sure that all four men were sore the next day. This match got over 22 minutes, which is great considering it was a very entertaining match. Even the quiet crowd up to this point was getting into it. Coming into the match I wasn't expecting much since these are not exactly the main players in All Japan, but they really stepped it up. Not a lot of psychology, but there wasn't really supposed to be any... just a rough hard hitting match. One of the best tag matches I can remember, and all four men are to thank for that. Score: 8.0
Taiyo Kea vs. Satoshi Kojima
The winner of this match is the #1 Contender for the Triple Crown. Neither man is quick to make the first move, finally a tie-up, Kea gets Kojima into the turnbuckle, and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, armbar by Kojima, reversed by Kea, reverted to a wristlock, drop toehold by Kea into a front facelock, reversed by Kojima into a wristlock, and Kojima releases the hold. Tie-up again, kick to the gut by Kea and he takes Kojima down to the mat. Arm submission by Kea, snapmare, and an elbow drop. Another arm submission by Kea, Kojima slowly gets to his feet and gets a schoolboy for a two count. Side headlock by Kea, Irish whip, and Kea shoulder blocks Kojima down. Kea bounces off the ropes, dropdown, leapfrog, and a twisting DDT by Kea. Kojima rolls out of the ring and Kea follows him. Chops by Kea on the outside, he goes to Irish whip Kojima into the guardrail, but it is reversed on him. Kojima re-enters the ring and comes over the top with a pescado. Kojima slams Kea into the apron and chops him, but Kea returns with blows of his own. Finally they go back into the ring, snapmare by Kojima and a running swanton. Elbow drop by Kojima and another one. Kea fights back with a vicious chop and knocks down Kojima with a straight right. Scoop slam by Kea and a splash off the top rope for a two count. Kea picks Kojima up and delivers a snap suplex. Cover, but another two count. Irish whip by Kea and a elbow to the chest. Cover, but again Kojima kicks out. Kea goes for a kick, but Kojima catches his leg and gives him a dragon screw leg whip. Kojima begins attacking Kea's leg before applying a leg submission hold. Kea manages to get to his feet, chops Kojima, but Kojima blocks the suplex attempt and does one of his own. Chops by Kojima in the corner, Irish whip, and a lariat in the corner. Another chop by Kojima, Irish whip, and a jumping forearm in the other corner. Kojima goes to the top rope and nails the elbow drop to the midsection. Cover, but Kea kicks out at two. Kojima goes off the ropes, but Kea catches him first with a super kick and then with a dropkick. Kea is to his feet first and delivers a modified back suplex for a two count. Scoop slam by Kea, he goes to the top rope and hits the big splash. Cover, but only a two. Kea goes for a fireman takeover, Kojima blocks it, and the two trade chops. Kea gets the better of it, bounces off the ropes, but Kojima catches him with a Koji Cutter (Diamond Cutter). Kojima gets to his feet first, picks up Kea and delivers a hangman's neckbreaker for another two count. Kojima nails a Michinoku Driver 2, but Kea doesn't sell it and delivers a quick Shining Wizard. Now he sells it though and both men are out on the mat. Kojima gets to his feet first, goes off the ropes, but Kea catches him with a Frankensteiner for a two count. Kicks by Kea knocks Kojima down to the mat. Kea picks up Kojima, attempts to lock on the cobra clutch suplex, but Kojima makes it to the ropes. Kea kicks him loose though and delivers a cobra clutch Russian leg sweep. Kea maintains the hold however and just about kills him with a Surfing Suplex. Well, maybe not kill, since Kojima doesn't sell it (his payback I guess) and nails a lariat. Both men are out. Both men get to their feet, and Kea slaps on the Hawaiian Smasher for a two count. Kea bounces off the ropes, but Kojima catches him with another lariat for a two count. Kojima now bounces off the ropes, clotheslines Kea in the back of the head, goes off the ropes again, Kea goes for the Frankensteiner again, but this time Kojima catches him and powerbombs him to the mat. Cover, but only a one count. Kojima takes off his elbow pad, delivers one final lariat, and gets the three count. Your winner: Satoshi Kojima
Match Thoughts: As expected, these two put forward a hard hitting encounter that was very entertaining. Some people complain about the delayed selling of moves, but I actually like it as long as it is used in moderation. Kea did it to Kojima, and Kojima returned the favor. I have seen both of these men in better matches but the blend of power moves/mat moves was well done. A more varied moveset would have been nice though, and the mat wrestling didn't seem to have any real significance. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but still a very exciting match, especially the final four minutes or so. One thing almost every match has had is a hot final few minutes which in many ways is the most important part. Score: 7.0
Genichiro Tenryu vs. Keiji Mutoh
This match is for the vacant Triple Crown Championship. Mutoh starts the match with a single leg takedown on Tenryu, but Tenryu prevents him from capitalizing and manages to get back to his feet. Tie-up, Mutoh gets Tenryu into the ropes and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, waistlock by Mutoh, reversed into an armbar by Tenryu, Mutoh rolls out of it and gets Tenryu with a single leg takedown, Tenryu tries to get the armbar, can't, and Mutoh slaps on a leg submission. Tenryu reverses it into an ankle lock but Mutoh makes it to the ropes. Tie-up, side headlock by Tenryu and a takedown with the headlock still applied. Mutoh slowly gets back to his feet, Irish whip, and a shoulder tackle knocks Mutoh down. Shining Wizard by Tenryu and then he mimics Mutoh's kiss to the crowd. Mutoh gets up quickly, as he does not appreciate having his move and kiss to the crowd stolen. Mutoh goes out to the ramp to think things over and recuperate. Back in the ring now, Tenryu catches Mutoh with a jab and some chops, Irish whip, but Mutoh half-hits a dropkick. A much better dropkick by Mutoh sends Tenryu out of the ring, and Mutoh follows him out with a pescado. As Tenryu rests against the guardrail Mutoh hits a wicked Shining Wizard, smashing Tenryu back onto the guardrail. Mutoh applies a cross armbar on the outside, Tenryu taps, but since it is on the outside it doesn't count. Dropkick by Mutoh to Tenryu's arm, sending him into the guardrail yet again. Mutoh gets back into the ring, and as Tenryu enters Mutoh dropkicks him in the arm twice. This sends Tenryu back outside again. Tenryu gets back into the ring and immediately is dropkicked in the arm again. Dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh and he applies a wrist lock on Tenryu's injured arm. He reverts it into a cross armbar, but Tenryu makes it to the ropes. Both men are up quick, but Tenryu sidesteps the Mutoh dropkick. Chops and jabs by Tenryu, but Mutoh snaps off another dragon screw leg whip. Arm submission by Mutoh again and the cross armbar is applied, but again Tenryu quickly makes it to the ropes. Kick by Mutoh to the arm of Tenryu and he hits his quick elbow drop. Chop by Mutoh, Tenryu returns with a knee to the gut, but Mutoh regains the advantage with a rake of the eyes.
Irish whip by Mutoh out of the corner, he goes for his handspring elbow strike, but Tenryu catches him with a clothesline to the back of the head. Chops by Tenryu in the corner, Irish whip, and a clothesline by Tenryu in the opposite corner. More chops, another Irish whip, and a running chop by Tenryu. Scoop slam by Tenryu, he goes to the top and nails the elbow. Cover, but a two count. Tenryu picks up Mutoh and gets a powerbomb, cover, but Mutoh kicks out. Tenryu goes for a clothesline, but Mutoh catches him with a Frankensteiner as he charges in. Cross armbar applied by Mutoh, but Tenryu is by the ropes and easily gets out of it. Mutoh goes for the single leg takedown, but Tenryu resists it with several punches to the head. Enzuigiri by Tenryu, followed by jabs to the face and chops in the corner. Irish whip, and Tenryu hits the running chop in the opposite corner. Multiple chops in the corner by Tenryu, he hits the spider suplex from the top rope, but misses the elbow drop. Mutoh dropkicks Tenryu in the arm as he tries to get to his feet and slaps on another cross armbar. Tenryu is again by the ropes though and the referee calls for the break. Tenryu jabs on Mutoh but Mutoh catches with a dropkick to the leg. Shining Wizard by Mutoh, then another one, and then another one. Damn. Cover, but Tenryu somehow kicks out at two. Frustrated, Mutoh picks on Tenryu, backbreaker, goes to the top rope, but Tenryu rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Rolling kick by Mutoh to Tenryu's arm, but Tenryu fires back with a lariat. Tenryu charges again, but Mutoh halts him with a dropkick to the knee. Tenryu comes back quickly with a clothesline, Mutoh blocks it, but Tenryu fires back with another one. Cover, but a two count. Tenryu picks Mutoh up, goes for his brainbuster, but Mutoh knees him in the head. Mutoh connects with an overhead kick. Shining Wizard by Mutoh, he goes for another moonsault, and again Tenryu moves out of the way. Tenryu hits Mutoh with a jab, but Mutoh snaps off a back suplex. Mutoh delivers a backbreaker, goes to the top for his third try at a moonsault, but Tenryu gets his knees up. Lariat by Tenryu, cover, but a two count. Tenryu picks Mutoh up, goes for the brainbuster, Mutoh tries to knee out of it again but can't, Tenryu drops Mutoh hard, a cover, and a three count. Your winner and new champion: Genichiro Tenryu
Post match: Hansen comes in to congratulate Tenryu as he celebrates with his new championships. Interview with Mutoh is shown, he seems quite tired. He has trouble walking, but of course he always has trouble walking, that has little to do with the match itself. The commentators close out the show with some very insightful comments. They stay on the air until the arena is empty as we see the ring being taken apart.
Match Thoughts: If you ever needed to see an example of what ring psychology is, all you need to do is pop in just about any Mutoh match. The guy gets criticized a lot for a variety of things, but Mutoh brought his working boots today. Mutoh doesn't just wrestle, he tells a story in the ring. In case you didn't read all the play by play, the story went like this: Mutoh concentrates on the arm the first 10 minutes, but can't get Tenryu to tap out. When that didn't work, he hit three consecutive Shining Wizards, his finishing move. Again, Tenryu kicks out of the pin. Mutoh realizes he can only put Tenryu away with his big move, the moonsault. He tries for it three times, never nails it, and subsequently loses the match. Just brilliant. I have heard these two had better matches when they were younger and in better shape (Mutoh's knees are shot and Tenryu is over 50), but really this was a great match. Score: 8.0
With three matches scoring in the good/great range, obviously this would be a PPV I would recommend. While it is not the best, it does give a good look at the main players in the All Japan roster as well as a mix of styles. This PPV also, thankfully, doesn't include any "shoot" wrestlers that crossed over to professional wrestling (their matches tend to not be that great). I almost forgot to say, Keiji Mutoh is the Great Muta for any American fans that did not know his real name, although he has a much different look now then he did in the 90s. All in all a good showing by All Japan.
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