All Japan Giant Battle 1st
review by Kevin Wilson

The Date:  July 20th, 2002
Location:  Tokyo, Japan
Attendance:  16,300

This was a very strange time for All Japan.  Mutoh had recently been brought in as booker, and when he first started many would argue that he didn't know what he was completely doing.  He had Goldberg squash two of their rising stars and had Kronik hold their Tag Team Championship.  Not only did all three do nothing for All Japan before they left to return the favor, but all three were also very expensive and All Japan took a financial hit.  While All Japan was getting good attendance at the time due to Mutoh and Kojima joining All Japan in 2002, things dropped off once the expensive foreigners faded with nothing to show for it.  Since then the promotion has turned around and is putting on better received cards, but in the summer of 2002 there were grumblings that All Japan might not make it to 2003 if they continued in the direction that it seemed like Mutoh was heading.  Here was the full card:

- Kazushi Miyamoto vs. Masanobu Fuchi
- Kaz Hayashi vs. Kokushi Muso
- Hideki Hosaka and Ryuji Hijikata vs. Shigeo Okumura and Jimmy Yang
- Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuto Aijima
- Abdullah The Butcher, Hamada, and Gran Naniwa vs. Mutoh, Mil Mascaras, and Dos Caras
- Arashi, Nobutaka Araya, and Nobukazu Hirai vs. Kendo Kashin, Yoji Anjo, and Mitsuya Nagai
- Barton and Steele vs. Williams and Rotundo vs. Johnny Smith and George Hines vs. Kronik
- Great Koji vs. Great Muta
- Genichiro Tenryu vs. Taiyo Kea

The show opens with recap video, including a cool clip of Tenryu defeating Kea by spitting red mist in his face.  There are interviews before and after matches on the entire event, but since I don't understand them there is really no point in mentioning them I don't think

Kazushi Miyamoto vs. Masanobu Fuchi
Tie-up to start, Fuchi gets Miyamoto to the mat but Miyamoto gets out of it and they both bounce back up.  Hammerlock by Fuchi, again Miyamoto rolls out of it, but Fuchi delivers a backdrop driver which keeps Miyamoto down for a moment.  Fuchi allows Miyamoto time to get back to his feet and kicks him in the head, but Miyamoto pushes him in the corner and hits a series of punches.  Irish whip by Miyamoto and he hits a jumping forearm shot in the corner.  An armbreaker is applied by Miyamoto, Fuchi twice gets a hand on the ropes, but both time the referee kicks his arm free (guess he doesn't like him) which allows Miyamoto to slap the submission on harder.  Fuchi eventually struggles back to his feet and grabs the second rope, and this time the referee forces Miyamoto to break the hold.  Tie-up, waistlock by Fuchi, he gets Miyamoto to the mat and goes for an STF.  He doesn't get it locked on, so he applies a stretch submission instead.   Miyamoto squirms to the ropes and manages to get one foot on the bottom-most one.  Back up, Fuchi applies a front facelock, but again Miyamoto grabs the ropes.  Fuchi backs up from Miyamoto, tie-up, Fuchi gets Miyamoto in to the corner, but Miyamoto slaps him in the face.  Tie-up, Fuchi gets Miyamoto into the ropes, and again Miyamoto slaps Fuchi.  Tie-up once again, again Fuchi gets Miyamoto into the corner, he goes to punch Miyamoto, but changes his mind and gives a clean break.  Back to the middle of the ring, kick to the gut by Fuchi and he hits a scoop slam.  Another scoop slam with authority by Fuchi and he applies a modified STF.  Fuchi twists Miyamoto's legs for a bit and then applies a modified Indian Deathlock.  Again Fuchi switches to a different leg submission, and he grabs Miyamoto's arms before he can reach out for the ropes.  He does eventually make it though, and Fuchi allows him up.  Tie-up, Miyamoto gets Fuchi into the corner and slaps Fuchi in the chest.  Front facelock by Miyamoto, but Fuchi pushes him into the ropes.  Uppercut by Miyamoto, another one, and a third knocks Fuchi to the mat.  Miyamoto applies a side headlock, but Fuchi hits a gutwrench suplex.  Fuchi goes for a backdrop driver, Miyamoto reverses it, but Fuchi shakes him off and delivers a boot to the face.  Quick cradle by Fuchi, but it only gets a two count.  Miyamoto hits a dropkick on Fuchi, sunset flip, but it only gets a two count.  While still on the mat, Fuchi quickly gets up and slaps on a cradle cutback for the three count pinfall!  Your winner:  Masanobu Fuchi

Match Thoughts:  Both these wrestlers are still in All Japan, although in the three years since this event Miyamoto still has not found a lot of success.  This was a very straight forward match.  Miyamoto had just debuted the year before, while Fuchi is a seasoned old veteran.  Fuchi thus was able to use his superior experience, even though he was not in as good of shape, to defeat the over-eager rookie.  Obviously not the most compelling match, but necessary in its own way and not unwatchable.  Score: 4.0

Kaz Hayashi vs. Kokushi Muso
I can already tell I will love this event.  Kokushi Muso is Keiji Mutoh (this was the first time he did the Kokushi Muso gimmick), in one of three appearances he will make tonight.  Mutoh was imitating his friend Shinzaki throughout the match, and is decked out in full "tattoos" just like Shinzaki is when he wrestles.  Hayashi does the Mutoh rope bounce, much to the crowd's pleasure.  Waistlock by Muso, reversed into an arm wrench by Hayashi, but Muso quickly rolls out of it and applies a leg lock to Hayashi.  Hayashi tries to reverse it with a headscissors, but Muso avoids it and re-applies a leg submission.  Muso breaks the hold after Hayashi reaches the ropes, and Hayashi rolls out of the ring to regain his composure.  Back in the ring, single leg takedown by Hayashi and he crosses Muso's legs to apply a submission hold.  Hayashi continues pulling back on Muso's leg, but Muso gets to his feet and hits an enzigieri.  Snapmare by Muso and he applies a side headlock on the mat.  Hayashi slowly gets to his feet, Irish whip, but Muso knocks him down.  Muso goes off the ropes again, Hayashi drops down to the mat, but instead of jumping over him Muso hits the flash elbow.  Muso grabs Hayashi by the arm and goes up to the top turnbuckle.  He goes to walk the ropes ala Shinzaki, but Hayashi kicks the top rope and Muso falls off.  Hayashi then kicks Muso in the back while he is still straddling the top rope, sending him out of the ring.  Hayashi approaches the ropes and tries to hit a pescado down on Muso, but Muso moves out of the way.  On the outside, Muso Irish whips Hayashi into the guardrail.  Muso then gets a chair and puts it on the floor near the guardrail before grabbing Hayashi's arm.  Muso then proceeds to step up onto the guardrail and walk down it, before jumping off with a club to Hayashi's arm.  Muso tosses Hayashi back into the ring and delivers a hammerlock takedown.  Muso keeps the hammerlock on, lifts Muso back up, and hits a thrust in the corner.  Irish whip by Muso to the corner, but Hayashi flips over the top turnbuckle out to the apron.  Muso tries to hit a shoulderblock through the ropes, but Hayashi grabs Muso's neck and guillotines it over the top rope.  Hayashi goes off the ropes and drops a big elbow on Muso.  Muso fires back with a punch, snapmare by Muso and he applies a side headlock.  Elbow to the back of the head by Muso and he kicks Hayashi in the gut.  Chop by Muso, Irish whip, but he misses a thrust and Hayashi nails a handstand springboard elbow.  Kick by Hayashi, Irish whip to the corner, and he hits Muta's handspring cartwheel elbow followed by a running facecrusher.  Backbreaker by Hayashi, he goes up top and nails a moonsault.  Cover, but Muso kicks out.  Hayashi goes for a kick, but Muso catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip.  Muso then goes for a kick, but his leg is caught and Hayashi hits a dragon screw leg whip.  Dropkick to the knee by Hayashi, and another one, and he hits another dragon screw leg whip.  Hayashi applies the figure four leg lock, as Muso prays and meditates.  It seems to work, as Muso makes it to the ropes.  Hayashi goes for another dragon screw, Muso hits a thrust to block it, but Hayashi knocks him down with a spinning leg lariat.  Hayashi hits a scoop slam, goes up top again and nails a corkscrew splash.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Hayashi goes for a shining wizard, but Muso blocks it and hits a shining wizard of his own.  Praying Powerbomb by Muso, cover, and he gets the three count pinfall.  Your winner:  Kokushi Muso

Match Thoughts:  Well that was surreal.  It was like Mutoh against Shinzaki, with Hayashi playing the part of Mutoh and Mutoh playing the part of Shinzaki.  Actually, the most surprising thing about this match was how much offense Hayashi got in.  Deep down you knew who would win, but Hayashi had a lot of near falls and really showed a lot of grit and emotion.  The crowd was really behind him as well, but of course not as much as they were behind Mutoh.  The "rope walk" on the guardrail was an awesome spot, and seeing Hayashi hit all of Mutoh's trademark moves was fun.  It was also interesting that while Mutoh tried to act like Shinzaki, occasionally when the match got close he would "slip" and do a Mutoh move.  A very entertaining and even match.  Score:  7.0

Hideki Hosaka and Ryuji Hijikata vs. Shigeo Okumura and Jimmy Yang
Hosaka and Okumura start things off.  Tie-up, Hosaka gets Okumura into the corner and he gives a clean break.  Tie-up again, waistlock by Hosaka, reversed by Okumura, but Hosaka gets on a side headlock and gets Okumura to the mat.  Okumura reversed the move into a headscissors, but Hosaka gets out of it and both men are back up.  Arm wrench by Hosaka and he applies a reverse chinlock on the mat.  Hosaka picks up Okumura and he tags in his partner Hijikata.  Tie-up, side headlock by Okumura into a hammerlock, and he tags in Yang.  Tie-up, they exchange reversals ending in a roll-up by Yang but he only gets a two count.  Back up, Test of Strength, Hijikata gets the better of it, but Yang applies a cross-armed submission hold.  Hijikata steps out of the hold to reverse it however and he tags in Hosaka, who takes over the hold.  Yang arm drags Hosaka to get out of it, Hosaka falls out of the ring, and Yang goes sailing out with a plancha, killing himself in the process when he hits the guardrail hard after he bounces off of Hosaka.  Yang still manages to get up first and he slides Hosaka into the ring.  Yang tags in Okumura, and he trades blows with Hosaka.  Okumura goes off the ropes, but Hosaka catches him with a German suplex.  Okumura bounces back up and hits a lariat, and both men lay on the mat.  Back up, Hosaka gets a spinning heel kick on Okumura, and then hits a tope through the ropes when Okumura slides out of the ring.  Okumura is slid back in the ring and Hosaka tags in Hijikata.  Kick to the back by Hijikata and one to the chest, but Okumura fires up and slaps him back.  They trade shots, which Okumura gets the better of.  Irish whip by Okumura and he hits a dropkick on Hijikata.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Okumura tags in Yang and he hits a side Russian leg sweep into an arm submission hold.  Hosaka comes in to break it up, snapmare by Hijikata and he kicks Yang in the back.  Kick to the chest by Hijikata and he tags in Hosaka.  Hosaka clubs Yang in the back and applies a front facelock into a DDT.  Cover by Hosaka, but it only gets a two count.  Jawbreaker by Hosaka and he tags Hijikata back in.  Hijikata kicks Yang a few times, Irish whip from the corner, but Yang elbows him when he charges and hits a leg lariat off the top turnbuckle.  This allows Yang to tag in Okumura, who comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick.  Scoop slam on Hijikata and Hosaka by Okumura, Irish whip on Hijikata, reversed, but Okumura slams Hijikata to the mat.  Cover, but it only gets two.  Okumura hits a back suplex, cover, but again it gets a two count.  Okumura picks up Hijikata, but Hijikata slaps him in the face.  Okumura goes off the ropes, but he is caught by two hard kicks to the head.  Hijikata tags in Hosaka, Irish whip, and Hosaka hits a clothesline in the corner.  Hosaka puts Okumura on the top turnbuckle and hits a Frankensteiner, followed by a running senton.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Death Valley Driver by Hosaka, cover, but again it gets a two count when Yang breaks it up.  Yang distracts Hosaka, and by the time Hosaka turns back around he is hit with an exploder from Okumura.  Okumura manages to tag in Yang, Yang knocks Hijikata off the apron and hits Hosaka with a kick.  Irish whip by Yang on Hosaka, reversed, but Yang hits a dropkick to the chest.  Cover, but Hosaka kicks out.  Kick to the back by Yang, he goes off the ropes, but he is caught with a spear.  Hosaka tags in Hijikata, who kicks Yang in the back.  Irish whip to the corner, and Hijikata hits a running forearm shot.  Hijikata goes for a brainbuster, but Yang kicks him into the corner and does a kick-flip off of him.  Hijikata charges Yang, ducks his high kick, trips him, and connects to Yang's face with a lethal side kick.  Cover, but Yang barely kicks out.  Hosaka comes in and hits a running clothesline in the corner, and then Hijikata hits a stiff kick to the head.  Cover, but again it gets two.  Hijikata picks up Yang and goes for the brainbuster, but Okumura runs in and trades shots with Hijikata.  While Hijikata is busy with Okumura, Yang comes off the top rope with a missile dropkick.  Okumura hits a delayed brainbuster on Hijikata, while Yang goes to the top turnbuckle and nails the Yang Time.  Cover, and Yang gets the three count pinfall!  Your winners:  Shigeo Okumura and Jimmy Yang

Match Thoughts:  Jimmy Yang was known as Akio in WWE, and Okumura is now a regular in CMLL.  There was certainly nothing wrong with this match.  Hijikata delivers very convincing kicks, and Yang is great at flying through the air.  That plancha he hit was even more painful looking then the ones Tanahashi missed last summer, which is saying a lot.  There really wasn't much in the terms of long-term selling or psychology, but the action was solid and all four men looked good.  It wasn't a must-see match of course, but for where it was on the card it easily met expectations.  Score:  6.0

Tomoaki Honma vs. Yuto Aijima
We get the first noticeable clip of the night (I thought that some of these matches might have a minute or two carved off of them to fit in three and a half hours, but this is the first time I have actually noticed it), as we start off with Aijima Irish whipping Honma.  Elbow to the head by Aijima, cover, but it barely gets one.  They trade kicks, Irish whip by Honma, and he hits a running forearm shot.  Aijima doesn't go down, but he does after a lariat.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Scoop slam by Honma and he applies a knee lock.  Aijima eventually makes it to the ropes and Honma breaks the hold.  Kick to the knee by Honma, and he clubs Aijima in the back.  Aijima fights back with an eye rake, but Honma kicks him back down to his knees.  Hammerlock takedown by Honma, and he applies a key lock on the mat.  Aijima again makes it to the ropes, and Honma continues kicking on his knee.  Irish whip, reversed, and Aijima hits a Samoan Drop.  Clubs to the back by Aijima and he hits a vertical suplex.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Aijima applies a crab hold, but Honma grabs the bottom rope to break it up.  Irish whip by Aijima, but Honma rolls out of the way of the clothesline and hits an enzigieri.  Honma throws Aijima in the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a crazy elbow followed by a running facecrusher.  Missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle by Honma, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Honma punches Aijima into the corner and puts him on the top turnbuckle.  Honma goes for a Frankensteiner, but Aijima grabs him and powerbombs Honma to the mat.  Cover, but he only gets two.  Aijima picks up Honma, Irish whip, and now he is the one that hits a running elbow smash.  Butterfly suplex by Aijima, cover, but Honma kicks out.  Scoop slam by Aijima, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits an elbow drop.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Aijima calls for the lariat, but Honma dropkicks him in the knee when he goes off the ropes.  Honma blocks another lariat and again kicks Aijima in the knee.  Honma applies a STF with a grapevine, but Aijima makes it to the ropes.  After he sets up Aijima against the ropes, Honma hits another crazy elbow and follows it with a killer lariat.  Cover, but Aijima somehow kicks out.  Honma goes to the top turnbuckle, he delivers the Shalimarti, and he gets the three count pinfall.  Your winner:  Tomoaki Honma

Match Thoughts:  From my estimation about three minutes were cut, which isn't really good considering the match was only eleven minutes to begin with.  Honma got his start in Big Japan (which his back is evidence of), but moved on to All Japan when it was noticed that he was a pretty good wrestler.  He is still with All Japan today, but he still has not climbed much up the ladder.  For what they showed, this match was enjoyable, although even in the condensed time there were still quite a few repeated spots.  Me being an old school guy, I liked how Honma concentrated on the knee throughout the match, and then used the injured knee to help him obtain the victory.  Fairly simple psychology and yet rarely seen.  Aijima was a good "power" wrestler, but he didn't show much more then that in this match.  Course I didn't like the clipping, but there isn't really much I can do about that, now is there?  Score:  5.5

Abdullah The Butcher, Gran Hamada, and Gran Naniwa vs. Keiji Mutoh, Mil Mascaras, and Dos Caras
Whoa.  Now I have officially seen everything... what a random mixture of (mostly old) stars.  This is Mutoh's second match of the night.  Caras and Hamada start things off.  They play with the crowd for a bit, trying to get the most cheers.  Finally they tie-up, Hamada gets Caras into the corner, Caras reverses positions with him and gives a clean break.  Tie-up, hammerlock by Caras, Hamada snapmares out of it though, Hamada misses a clothesline, Caras goes for a back bodydrop, but Hamada lands on his feet.  Kick by Caras and he hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.  Caras goes for a powerbomb, but Hamada hurricanranas out of it and Caras falls out of the ring.  Hamada follows him out with a plancha, but Caras recovers quickly and tags in Mascaras as Hamada tags in Naniwa.  Tie-up, side headlock by Mascaras and he tosses Naniwa to the mat.  Tie-up again, and Mascaras gives Naniwa a headstand headscissors takedown while keeping the head locked for a submission.  Naniwa gets to his feet, but Mascaras takes him down again.  This time Naniwa lands near the ropes and he gets the break.  Tie-up, hammerlock by Mascaras and he armdrags Naniwa to the mat.  Mascaras stretches Naniwa, Irish whip, and he hits a flying double chest chop.  Caras comes in, Irish whip, and together he and Mascaras hit a double flying chest chop.  Caras leaves, Naniwa gets a hammerlock on Mascaras, but Mascaras flings him down.  Kick by Naniwa, he tries to push down Mascaras, can't do it, Hamada comes in to help, but Mascaras bridges up and tosses them to the mat.  Mascaras then hits the double snapmare/headscissors on Naniwa and Hamada, much to the delight of the crowd.  Mascaras hits an atomic drop on Naniwa and then a slam on Hamada.  Caras comes back in the ring, they give Naniwa a double Irish whip and hit another flying double chest chop.  Caras then sails out of the ring with a tope on Naniwa.  Mascaras gets on the top turnbuckle, but he was just teasing and he comes back down.  Mascaras tags in Mutoh, while Abdullah is tagged in.  Abdullah runs the ropes and rubs his head, showing that he is ready.  Tie-up, Abdullah pushes Mutoh into the ropes, and gets a spike out of his boot which he promptly jabs into Mutoh's neck.  Abdullah stabs Mascaras in the leg a few times before giving the spike to Naniwa.  All three take turns working over Mutoh's leg, as Hamada comes in and jumps down on it while it is propped against the second rope.  Abdullah stands on top of Mutoh's leg and then chops him in the chest before tagging in Hamada.  Hamada kicks Mutoh in the leg and tags in Naniwa, who gets in his kicks as well.  A leg submission is applied by Naniwa, but Mutoh grabs the rope.  Abdullah is tagged back in, and he hits a series of neck thrusts.  Irish whip by Abdullah, and a thrust to the neck knocks Mutoh down.  Abdullah drops the big elbow on Mutoh, cover, but Mutoh kicks out.  Mutoh quickly tags in Caras, Irish whip by Abdullah, but Caras hits a dropkick.  He goes for another one, but Abdullah hits another neck thrust to block the move and then hits him repeatedly while Caras is laying on the mat.  Mutoh and Mascaras come in to help, they give Abdullah a double Irish whip, and deliver a double flying chest chop.  Caras covers Abdullah, but Hamada breaks it up.  Abdullah tags in Naniwa, Irish whip by Naniwa on Caras, reversed, and Caras hits a tilt-a-while backbreaker.  Double underhook backbreaker by Caras, cover, but Hamada breaks it up.  Caras picks up Naniwa, nails the jumping bomb, and gets the three count pinfall.  Your winners:  Keiji Mutoh, Mil Mascaras, and Dos Caras

Match Thoughts:  You can tell the pecking order of the legends:  At the top  is Mascaras (who never got hurt), Second is Abdullah the Butcher (only got knocked down once), all the way down to Mutoh who definitely took the most offense in this match.  Even though Mil Mascaras had celebrated his 60th birthday only a few days before this event, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed him in this match. He kept the crowd happy by hitting all his signature spots, but he didn't slow the match down since he could tag out when he got tired.  While obviously all these guys (except Mutoh) are way past their primes, in a six man match that was not meant to be taken too seriously it worked out ok.  I was expecting something terrible, but this was quite watchable as long as you weren't expecting high "workrate" and psychology  Score:  5.0

Stan Hansen (so happy I can understand what is going on now) comes down and talks positively for All Japan, since this show is part of the promotion's 30 Year Anniversary celebration.  Mrs. Baba comes down as well and speaks, honoring her late husband Giant Baba.

Arashi, Nobutaka Araya, and Nobukazu Hirai vs. Kendo Kashin, Yoji Anjo, and Mitsuya Nagai
Kashin and company argue for awhile on who starts, but it ends up being Kashin against Arashi.  Tie-up, side headlock by Kashin, Irish whip by Arashi, and the two collide with neither man budging.  Hiptoss by Arashi, another hiptoss, and a third on Kashin.  Kashin gets up angry, but his partners won't tag him.  Side headlock by Arashi and he tags in Araya.  Clubs to the back by Araya, but Kashin gets to his corner and tags in Anjo.  Kashin holds Araya for Anjo, but Araya ducks and Kashin clotheslines Anjo on accident.  Araya picks up Anjo and clubs him in the back before tagging in Hirai.  Double Irish whip, and they hit a double shoulderblock.  Hirai goes for a suplex, but Anjo reverses it into an armbar.  Anjo gets Hirai to his feet and tags in Nagai.  Nagai knees Hirai in the arm and chokes him against the ropes.  Dropkick to the arm by Nagai, but Hirai manages to get to his corner and tags in Arashi.  Kicks by Arashi in the corner and he chokes Nagai with his boot.  Arashi clubs Nagai in the back, scoop slam, but Nagai gets up and pushes Arashi into his own corner.  Both Kashin and Anjo ask for the tag, Nagai can't decide which one to choose, which gives Arashi time to recover and push him back towards the middle of the ring.  Nagai pushes him back, and this time Anjo tags himself in.  Kick in the corner by Anjo, but Kashin tags himself in and kicks Arashi as well.  Uppercuts by Kashin, Irish whip, reversed, and Arashi hits a dropkick.  Kashin rolls to the outside, he fakes a tope, but the referee stops him from doing it.  Kashin slowly gets back in the ring and is greeted by kicks by Arashi.  Arashi tags in Araya, who punches Kashin in the corner.  Irish whip, and Araya hits a clothesline.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Araya tags in Hirai, Irish whip by Hirai, he hits a drop toehold and Araya followed with a leg drop.  Elbow drop by Hirai, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Kashin elbows Hirai and manages to get to his corner, but Anjo holds back Nagai so that Kashin can't make the tag to his partners.  Hirai tags in Arashi, who punches Kashin in the corner.  Irish whip, and Arashi applies a reverse chinlock.  Kashin bites Arashi's thumb to get out of it however, and Anjo tags in. 

After Anjo tosses Kashin out of the way, Anjo turns his attention to Arashi.  Arashi asks for a handshake, Anjo accepts, but Arashi kicks him in the stomach and tags in Araya.  Scoop slam by Araya and he drops an elbow on Anjo.  Cover, but it gets two.  Araya tags in Hirai, he slams Anjo to the mat and applies a crab hold.  Kashin quickly breaks it up, then he kicks Anjo as well, drags Anjo to his corner, and tags himself in.  Hirai then drives Kashin back into his own corner and hits a series of shoulder tackles before tagging in Araya.  Kick by Araya, Irish whip, but Kashin gets his foot up when he charges and applies the reverse triangle choke over the top rope.  He eventually releases the hold on Araya and tags in Nagai.  Irish whip by Nagai, and he hits a spinning heel kick.  Nagai kicks Araya in the back and again in the chest, knocking him to the mat.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Irish whip by Nagai, hiptoss, and he nails a knee strike to the head.  Cover, but it is broken up.  Arm wrench by Nagai and he tags in Anjo.  Anjo hits a forearm to the chest of Araya while Nagai is holding him, but when he goes for a second one, Araya ducks and Nagai ends up getting hit instead.  Kashin comes in to yell at Anjo, while Hirai (who had tagged in) puts Nagai up on the top turnbuckle and hits a Frankensteiner.  Cover by Hirai, but it gets a two count.  Araya goes off the ropes, but Nagai him catches him with a kick and a capture suplex.  This gives him time to tag in Anjo, double Irish whip, and they deliver a double flying chest chop (ala Mil Mascaras) to Hirai.  Anjo picks up Hirai, Irish whip from the corner, and he hits a diving forearm smash. Anjo goes up top, but he accidentally falls off (presumably because Kashin shook the ropes).  Hirai tags in Araya, double Irish whip, and both wrestlers hit clotheslines as well as Arashi.  Hirai hits a powerbomb from the top turnbuckle, cover, but Nagai breaks it up.  Nagai gets taken out, Hirai nails the Hirai End, cover, but Anjo somehow kicks out.  A brawl ensues, Hirai picks up Anjo, but Anjo kicks him in the stomach, delivers a back chop, and finishes him with the Upper 200.  Cover, and he gets the three count pinfall.  Your winners:  Kendo Kashin, Yoji Anjo, and Mitsuya Nagai

Match Thoughts:  The interaction between Kashin and Anjo made this match seem much better then it really was.  If you recognize the name, Anjo was the booker for the former UWF-i during their feud with New Japan in 1996.  The in-ring action in this match was average at best (Nagai being the only one that really stood out), but Kashin and Anjo were great in playing the pair that wanted to win, but still didn't like each other.  Those two saved the match from being utterly forgettable to at least something that would make you glad you watched the match:.  Score:  4.5

Barton and Steele vs. Steve Williams and Mike Rotundo vs. Johnny Smith and George Hines vs. Kronik
This match is a Stan Hansen Cup 4 Way Tag Battle.  The match is elimination style, and when one partner is pinned, the team is out.  They start with a crazy brawl, with all eight men fighting in the ring.  Kronik is soon beat down and kicked out of the ring, while Smith yells at him from the turnbuckle.  CLIP!!  YES!!!  Now Smith/Hines are facing off against Williams and Rotundo.  Williams punches Steele against the ropes and hits a Cactus Clothesline over the top rope.  Well, except Williams collapses instead of landing on his feet.  Kronik is in the ring now, and they hit a double chokeslam on Smith.  Cover, and it gets the three count.  They are eliminated.  CLIP!  Now it is Williams fighting with Adams in the ring while Rotundo takes care of Clark outside the ring.  Williams punches Adams and nails the Dr. Bomb.  Cover, and he gets the three count pinfall.  They are eliminated.  You guessed it... CLIP!  I am starting to love All Japan more and more.  Williams Irish whips Barton to the corner and hits a running splash.  Steele runs in the ring and hits a swinging neckbreaker, but Williams comes back with a hiptoss.  Steele quickly gets to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving shoulderblock, cover, but he only gets a two count.  Steele goes for a gutwrench suplex, but Rotundo distracts him and Williams knocks down Steele with a lariat.  Williams tags in Rotundo, who knocks down Steele with a clothesline.  Irish whip by Rotundo, and he gives Steele the old Airplane Spin.  Cover by Rotundo, but it only gets a two count when Barton breaks it up.  DDT by Barton, but Williams comes in to take care of him.  Williams fights off both men at first, but they give him an Irish whip and deliver a double shoulderblock.  Steele tags in Barton, but then goes over to Rotundo and hits a scoop slam followed by a diving splash.  Barton then drops an elbow from the top turnbuckle, cover, but Rotundo kicks out.  Barton hits a pump handle slam on Rotundo, cover, but Williams breaks it up.  Williams goes for the Oklahoma Stampede, but Barton pushes him off and Steele hits a clothesline.  Barton then goes back to Rotundo, nails the Barton Cutter, and gets the three count pinfall.  Your winners:  Mike Barton and Jim Steele

Match Thoughts:  Normally, I hate clipped matches.  Here, I loved it.  Originally, this match was over 26 minutes long.  Can you imagine 26 minutes with these wrestlers?  I was actually sitting here crying the first time I sat down to watch this match, dreading it.  But as you can see, it was clipped to showing the falls and the last three minutes or so only.  What we saw was fine, but it was too butchered obviously to get a good feel of the match.  I think it is a safe assumption it sucked though, considering that they showed most (if not all) of the opening Fuchi match and yet decided to clip this one.  Score:  N/A

Great Koji vs. Great Muta
And now Mutoh makes his third and final appearance, in what was (as far as my research could tell me) the first time he wrestled as Great Muta since his transformation a year earlier.  To counter the Muta power, Kojima has come out in face paint as "Great Koji."  Koji charges Muta to start the match and chops him against the ropes.  Irish whip, Muta rolls through the clothesline and both wrestlers spray each other with the Mist at the same time!  With Muta now red and Koji now green, they come at each other again.  Tie-up, waistlock by Muta into an arm wrench, Koji reverses it into his own arm wrench, but Koji backs off when Muta sticks his fingers in his mouth (his way of threatening the mist).  Kick to the chest by Koji followed by chops, snapmare, and he hits a running senton.  Elbow drop by Koji and he drops another one.  Muta quickly rolls out of the ring, and then crawls under it.  Koji goes out to find him, crawling under as well.  Muta appears at the other side with a big broom stick, but Koji catches him from behind and hits him with the broom stick himself.  Kick by Koji, and he throws Muta up on the ramp.  Koji then runs all the way up the ramp way, charges Muta and kicks him down.  Muta rolls back into the ring and Koji soon follows him in.  Eye rake by Koji and he kicks Muta in the side of the head.  Koji takes off his belt and then begins to choke Muta with it.  After releasing him, Koji picks up Muta and hits a vertical suplex.  Again Koji picks up Muta and chops him in the chest.  Kick by Koji, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a diving club to the back.  Koji goes off the ropes, but Muta quickly dropkicks him in the knee.  Snapmare by Muta, and he hits the flash elbow.  Muta wipes Koji's face, trying to get the face paint off, and throws him out of the ring.  Muta follows Koji out, grabs the ring bell ringer and hits Koji with it before throwing him into the ring post.  Kick to the stomach by Muta, and as he is choking him we see that Koji has been busted open.  Muta jumps over the guardrail to unlock the fence, then comes back in to throw Koji into the ring post again.  After throwing a random young wrestler at Koji and throwing him into the guardrail, Muta rolls back into the ring and waits for Koji. 

The bleeding Koji eventually makes it back in, and Muta chops him in the back of the head.  Choke by Muta, Koji tries to fight back, but Muta rakes him in the eyes.  Koji hits a Koji Cutter when Muta picks him back up, but Muta recovers and hits a back kick, sending Koji out of the ring. Muta goes out as well and hits Koji in the head with the ring bell.  The referee gets the bell from Muta, but Muta finds a silver box and hits Koji with that as well.  Koji rolls back into the ring, and after posing for the camera Muta goes back in after him.  Koji struggles to his feet, but Muta punches him into the corner.  Irish whip by Muta to the corner, he goes for his cartwheel back elbow, but Koji catches him and hits a German suplex.  Chop by Koji, Muta returns fire, and Muta floors Koji with a kick to the head.  Muta goes up top and hits a missile dropkick on Koji.  Muta kicks Koji in the corner, places him on the top turnbuckle, and after biting him he delivers the Frankensteiner.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Koji goes for a kick, but Muta catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip.  Koji gets up quickly though, but Muta hits another one.  Again Koji springs to his feet and he nails a Michinoku Driver II on Muta.  Cover, but Muta kicks out.  Koji picks up Muta, Irish whip from the corner, and he hits the jumping elbow smash/snapmare/elbow drop.  Cover, but again it only gets a two count.  Koji clubs Muta in the back, goes for the lariat, it is blocked, Muta goes for the Shining Wizard, but Koji blocks that, and Koji then nails a lariat.  Muta rolls out of the ring after the move and lays on the mat outside.  Muta eventually gets to his feet and grabs a chair, but as he gets back in the ring he accidentally drops it.  He then demands a ring attendant hand it back to him, which he does, but in the meantime Koji has recovered and he hits Muta in the back.  Muta pushes down the referee, and when Koji goes for a lariat he holds the chair up so that it connects with Koji's arm.  Green mist but Muta to the face of Koji, and he nails a Shining Wizard off the chair.  Muta then applies a cross armbreaker to Koji's injured arm, and Koji has no choice but to submit!  Your winner:  Great Muta

Match Thoughts:  And Mutoh officially earns wrestler of the night as he saves himself money by booking himself to wrestle in three separate matches.  Any reader of my reviews knows that I am a Mutoh fan, but you also might know that I have never been real impressed with Kojima's moveset.  He is charismatic, no doubt, but his in-ring work to me is just not on that upper tier.  For example, he hits the Koji Cutter out of no where, and it really has no effect.  He did a lot of random chops and clubs to the back, which again served up purpose.  He also did no moves to help set up his lariat in any way.  I also did not like the random no-selling of the dragon screw leg whips, since again it really served no overall purpose to the match.  While Muta was his typical deliberate self (which irritates some people because they think he is being lazy), at least he had a sound plan by winning with a finisher that capitalized on the moves prior.  The chair to the arm damaged it, the Shining Wizard knocked Kojima loopy, and the cross armbreaker finished Kojima off.  Again, simple, but effective.  Mutoh is great as Muta, as he posed for the camera, used weapons constantly, and used dirty tactics in general to win the match.  Overall I was entertained by the intensity and the aura of seeing the match, even though the match itself I think was lacking in quite a few areas.  Score:  6.5

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Taiyo Kea
Tie-up to start, arm wrench by Kea, reversed into an arm wrench by Tenryu, Kea rolls through it though and re-applies the hold.  Tenryu rolls out of Kea's grasp, he takes him to the mat, but Kea regains his footing and both men face off on their feet again.  Kea goes for a single leg takedown, but Tenryu makes it to the ropes.  Kea hits a chop instead of giving a clean break, which Tenryu did not appreciate.  Tie-up, Tenryu gets Kea against the ropes and hits a hard chop.  Kea chops back, but Tenryu hits an enzigieri and slams Kea's head into his knee.  Kea fires back though with a chop and dropkicks Tenryu against the ropes.  Kea charges Tenryu, but Tenryu gets his boot up.  Lariat by Tenryu, but Kea stumbles away and gets back to his feet.  Tie-up, Tenryu gets Kea against the ropes and gives a clean break.  Kick by Kea followed by a chop, and he challenges Tenryu.  Tenryu responds with a slap, but Kea slaps him back.  Guh punch by Tenryu, and Kea falls to the mat.  Tenryu hits a DDT and applies a reverse choke.  Kea manages to roll to the ropes though and Tenryu breaks the hold after a moment.  Kea rolls out of the ring, but Tenryu follows him and hits a chop.  Another chop by Tenryu and he throws Kea back into the ring.  Elbow drop by Tenryu and he applies a stretch hold.  Kea eventually knees his way out of it, but Tenryu hits another punch.  Tenryu picks up Kea as if to do a piledriver, but instead simply drops him on his head (similar to a Gansobomb, actually).  Tenryu picks up Kea and nails a brainbuster.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Chops by Tenryu in the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a clothesline in the other corner.  Another Irish whip, and he alternates between punches and chops in the corner.  Tenryu hits a Guh punch and knocks down Kea with an enzigieri.  Tenryu places Kea up on the top turnbuckle, goes up, and delivers a spider suplex.  Kea bounces up though, and while Tenryu is still hanging upside-down he kicks Tenryu repeatedly in the chest as the referee tries to stop him.  Tenryu eventually falls off and Kea stomps him in the leg.  Kick to the back of the head by Kea and Tenryu falls/rolls out of the ring. 

Kea quickly joins him on the outside and chops Tenryu against the guardrail.  Kea twists Tenryu's leg around the iron of the guardrail and chops Tenryu in the chest.  More stomps by Kea and he slams Tenryu's head into the apron before sliding him back in the ring.  Leg drop by Kea to the knee of Tenryu and he applies a leg submission.  Kea lays down to apply more pressure to his submission hold, but Tenryu eventually makes it to the bottom rope.  Tenryu slowly gets to his feet and the two exchange chops.  Irish whip by Kea, reversed, but Kea hits a DDT.  Cover, but Tenryu kicks out.  Kea elbows down on Tenryu's injured leg and applies an ankle lock.  Tenryu makes it to the ropes fairly quickly though and Kea has to release the hold.  Kea picks up Tenryu, scoop slam, but when he goes for the frog splash off the top turnbuckle Tenryu gets his knees up.  This naturally hurts his injured leg, but he still gets up first and hits Kea with a chop.  Kea returns the chops and punches, and knocks down Tenryu with a jumping kick to the back of the head.  Kea picks up Tenryu, puts him on his shoulders, and nails the Hawaiian Smasher.  Cover, but Tenryu is too close to the ropes and he gets his foot under them for the break.  Kea picks up Tenryu, but Tenryu connects with a guh punch.  Kea fires back with a jumping heel kick, delivers another Hawaiian Smasher, cover, but Tenryu barely kicks out.  Kea picks Tenryu up off the mat, but Tenryu sneaks in a punch and nails the powerbomb.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Tenryu hits another brainbuster, cover, but again Kea is able to kick out.  The crowd is going crazy by now.  The two trade chops while they are standing, but Kea nails two consecutive high kicks to the head of Tenryu.  Kea then picks up Tenryu, puts him in a reverse fireman's carry, and connects with the H50.  Cover, and he gets the three count pinfall!  Your winner:  Taiyo Kea

Match Thoughts:  This was the first time that I had ever seen Kea in a single's match for the main event, and I was very impressed.  I now understand all the All Japan fans that want Kea elevated to the upper tier, because in this match he showed me that he is perfectly capable of putting on a main-event quality match.  The match wasn't as long as you'd expect, clocking in at only around 15 minutes, but what was there was done very well.  Tenryu is the man of course, and he gave a big rub to Kea that unfortunately would not have a long term effect.  Tenryu kicking out of the Hawaiian Smasher only to lose to the H50 was perfect, and even though the psychology was loose at times except for Tenryu's excellent selling of his leg, it was an excellent main event.  Score:  8.0

Final Thoughts:

Obviously the most notable aspect of this event is the fact that Keiji Mutoh wrestled in three different matches as three different characters.  To American fans this might seem unnecessary and silly, but once you have seen Mutoh and what he does in the ring it is much easier to understand.  Not any puroresu wrestler could get away with it, but Mutoh can.  Other then him though, this event was lacking in most areas and did not have not have one "great" match.  The main event was close, but in a way it was almost depressing to watch since Kea's single's push has still never really happened and he still has never won the Triple Crown.  If you are a big fan of Mutoh, I'd strongly recommend picking this up, but otherwise it is not a must-see. 

Mildly Recommended

Back to All Japan Event Reviews