All Japan GAORA TV on 10/26/02
This show aired under a 1-hour format for GAORA TV on October 26, 2002. Clips are shown of Satoshi Kojima and Taiyo Kea in New York. They were in New York to compete at an MLW event on September 26, 2002. Kea took on Sabu in a competitive match. Kea pulled off the big win with the H50. The main event was for the vacant MLW Heavyweight Title as Satoshi Kojima took on Jerry Lynn. Kojima won the title with a lariat. Then clips are shown of a party All Japan held to celebrate their 30th Anniversary. Every wrestler was there in suits. At the party, it was made official that Keiji Muto would become the president of All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Stan Hansen enters the ring. He talks about the hundreds of matches held at Korakuen Hall, and how he was proud to be in many of them. He thanks the fans for supporting him, and All Japan throughout the years. He wants the fans to continue their support of All Japan. Then, Keiji Muto comes out and says a few words.
Kendo Kashin vs. Jimmy Yang
Only 3 minutes long, and was all action. The purpose of this short match was to set up a challenger for Kashin's AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Title later on the tour, and showed that Yang could beat him in a singles match. Kashin goes for a La Magistral cradle, but Yang blocks the cradle with his own cradle for the surprising pinfall. Kashin attacks Yang after match, and Kaz Hayashi runs in to save his Yung Dragons partner.
Steve Williams & Mike Barton vs. Mitsuya Nagai & Shigeo Okamura
It is good to know that Dr. Death and Barton never had any resentment towards each other from their infamous Brawl for All fight in the summer of 1998, which killed any chance of Dr. Death getting a main event push with the WWF. I was not looking forward to the match. In All Japan 2002, tag matches involved Dr. Death or Barton would last 15 to 20 minutes in which the first 10 to 12 are them giving a beat down to their opponents in an unexciting fashion. The last few minutes would be a comeback before Doc or Barton's respective teams finished the match. So I was pleasantly surprised that they took out the dull beat down, as only the last 5 minutes were shown. It made the match looked decent in this form. From that format I just described, it was the end of the beatdown with Nagai and Okamura making the comeback. However, it was not enough as Dr. Death got the pin on Okamura after using a dangerous backdrop driver.
Satoshi Kojima & Kaz Hayashi vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Nobukazu Hirai
This was a very good TV main event. Tenryu and Hirai were great in the roles of the grumpy WAR wrestlers who wear black trunks and want to beat someone up. Kojima and Kaz were also great in their roles of the colorful babyfaces struggling to make a comeback. Hirai was wrestling like a mini-Tenryu, which is always a good thing. I think he really stood out the most of this match since Hirai has always been a very solid, but unspectacular wrestler for most of his career. Kaz was very fun as the fiery babyface who gets beat up a lot, but will never give up. The Tenryu-Kaz exchanges were great. Whenever Kaz would comeback, Tenryu would stop his momentum and almost kill him with one strike. Tenryu seemed extra grumpy when facing off with Kaz. Kojima was good in the role of "Once I make this tag, I am going to mowing through Team WAR." The Korakuen fans were as hot as they have been known to be. Here is the play-by-play:
Kaz and Hirai start the match. They tie up, and Hirai gets the advantage with a side headlock. Kaz bounces Hirai off the ropes, and Hirai takes him down with a shoulderblock. Kaz do a nip up, and Hirai runs off the ropes again. This time Kaz takes him down with an armdrag. They tie up with Hirai positioning himself into a waistlock. They tussle on the mat, but neither man can gain an advantage. They stand up and trade chops. Hirai Irish whips Kaz off the ropes. Hirai misses the back elbow, and Kaz takes Hirai down with a headscissors. Another armdrag by Kaz, and then slows the match down with an armbar. Hirai stands up, and takes Kaz down by the leg. Hirai uses an arm twist. Kaz flips out from that predicament and dropkicks Hirai. Both men tag out.
Kojima and Tenryu charge at each other with lariats, but neither man budges. They trade chops for a bit, and then Kojima gains the advantage by using Tenryu's own Guh Punches on him. Kojima tries an Ace Crusher, but Tenryu blocks and throws Kojima off the ropes. Tenryu catches Kojima bouncing off with a lariat. Tenryu chops Kojima, and tags in Hirai. Hirai attacks Kojima, but Kojima shrugs off Hirai as he is not finished with Tenryu. Tenryu knocks Kojima out of the ring with a Guh Punch. Hirai attacks Kojima on the floor, and Irish whips him into the guardrail. Hirai tries to Irish whip Kojima into a Tenryu chair attack, but Kojima gets the first shot on Tenryu. Tenryu uses one of his trademark chops to knock Kojima down, and rolls him back into the ring. Kojima fights off Hirai, and tags in Kaz.
Kojima takes Hirai down. Then, Kojima and Kaz do a wishbone on Hirai. Hirai fights back with a knee to Kaz. He picks up Kaz, and uses a backdrop suplex. Hirai tags in Tenryu. Despite getting some resistance from Kaz, he just toys around with Kaz using various strikes. Tenryu tags Hirai back in. Hirai fires off a few chops. Hirai Irish whips Kaz off the ropes, and tries a backdrop. However, Kaz fires off a kick. Kaz tags in Kojima. Now, he and Hirai trade chops. Hirai bounces off the ropes, and Kojima catches him with a Rydeen Bomb. Kojima picks up Hirai, and plants him with a vertical suplex. Kojima bodyslams Hirai, and tags in Kaz. Kaz slingshots into the ring, and connects with a somersault senton on Hirai.
Kaz attacks Tenryu on the apron, but it was a foolish mistake as Tenryu nearly KO's Kaz with a slap and Guh Punch. Hirai Irish whips Kaz into the corner. Tenryu grabs a chair from the floor, and throws it at Kaz. However, Tenryu missed so settled for another chop. Hirai uses a release German suplex on Kaz, and tags in Tenryu. Tenryu uses a soccer kick on Kaz, and Irish whips him off the ropes. Kaz handsprings off (like Tajiri) and tries an elbow smash. Tenryu gets out of the way, and takes Kaz down with a chop. Tenryu Irish whips Kaz again, but Kaz takes Tenryu down with a dropkick. Kaz then does the "Pro-Wres Love" symbol, and does the SHINING WIZARD! Hirai runs-in to attack Kaz, and cuts off any momentum Kaz was building to the jeers of the crowd. Tenryu tags in Hirai.
Hirai uses a piledriver, and then a WAR Special for a near submission. Hirai tags in Tenryu, and throws Kaz to the floor. Tenryu is just aggressive here with chair shots and chops. Tenryu grabs a water bottle, and pours it on Kaz for insult. Tenryu throws Kaz back into the ring. Kaz tries to fight back, but Tenryu just knocks him down with a Guh Punch. Tenryu tags in Hirai. Hirai Irish whips Kaz into the corner, and charges with an elbow smash. Hirai brings the mockery as he screams out Kojima's catchphrase "Ichuzo Bakayaro!", then continues the mockery by climbing the top rope and using an elbow drop. Kaz kicks out at 2.75. Hirai Irish whips Kaz off the ropes, but Kaz succeeds this time with the handspring into an elbow smash. Kaz makes the hot tag to Kojima.
Kojima makes Hirai pay for his mockery earlier by charging at him in the corner with an elbow smash. He yells out "Ichuzo Bakayaro!", climbs the top rope and connects with an elbow drop. Kojima uses a neckbreaker. Kojima bounces off the ropes, and tries a lariat. However, Hirai catches him and uses a tiger driver. Hirai tags in Tenryu. Tenryu Irish whips Kojima in the corner, and charges with a lariat. Tenryu then fires off a mix of chops and Guh Punches. Tenryu uses a DDT, and goes for a cover. Kaz makes the save, and Tenryu takes him out with a chop. Tenryu goes for a brainbuster, but Kojima flips out in mid-air and plants Tenryu with an Ace Crusher. Kojima is calling the lariat, and bounces off the ropes. However, Tenryu kicks the arm and nails the brainbuster. Tenryu goes for the pin, but Kaz again makes the last second save. Tenryu is calling for a lariat of his own. He bounces off the ropes, but Kojima catches "Mr. Puroresu" with his own lariat. Both men are feeling the effects as they stay down for a few seconds, and tag out.
Kaz catches Hirai with a spin kick. Kaz runs off the ropes, but Hirai catches him with a powerslam. Hirai lifts Kaz to the top turnbuckle, and uses a superplex. Hirai goes for another release German suplex, but Kaz gets out by flipping in mid air and landing on his feel. Kaz uses a Shuriani into a Final Cut, and tags in Kojima. Kojima bounces off the ropes, and Hirai catches him with a powerslam. Hirai uses a Rock Bottom, and goes for a pin. Kaz breaks up the pin at 2. Tenryu knocks Kaz to the floor. He tries to follow Kaz out, but Kaz is too quick as he rolls back in the ring and catches Tenryu with a tope suicida. Hirai runs off the ropes, and catches Kojima with a lariat for a near fall. Hirai tries again, but Kojima just flattens him with a lariat of his own. 1! 2! 3! It's over!
Final Thoughts: Good hour of TV here. No match of the year candidates, but enjoyable. Yang and Kashin had a fine match for only 3 minutes. Doc/Barton vs. Okamura/Nagai looked alright in a join-in-progress format, but I have no desire to entire match. The main event of Kojima/Kaz vs. Tenryu/Hirai was really fun, and worth checking out just on its own.
Ryan Mancuso can be reached at email@example.com