review by Jason Manning
Date: December 6th, 2002
Location: Tokyo Nippon Budokan
The climax to All Japan’s annual “REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2002” tour was aired live on PPV on December 6th, 2002. A bunch of notable things here. On the undercard, Mr. Problem returns to All Japan. He doesn’t continue his feud with Kashin though, as Kashin will defend his AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Title against ZERO-ONE outsider, Tatsuhito Takaiwa. And then, the two big tag league matches. First, there’s the ultimate garbage. Keiji Muto teams with Road Warrior Animal and Genichiro Tenryu teams with Earthquake in tag “action.” And then, there’s the ultimate greatness. Kojima & Kea face ZERO-ONE outsiders, Otani & Tanaka. Hopefully that’ll save this show, as the undercard doesn’t look like anything special and the feature matches include the Varsity Slugs and the aforementioned Animal and Earthquake. The really notable news here is that this show drew a HORRIBLE number to Tokyo Nippon Budokan, with only 9,800 fans showing up. All Japan claimed a sell out, but this is the same building that sold out with 16,300 fans in February and August. This number’s a great message to Muto, who’s been wanting to change All Japan forever and finally started to do so with the tag league.
All Japan’s got a new “flashy” entrance for Budokan now, with a video screen to the right of the entrance and a plain black entryway rather than the Baba-decorated one. There’s also lights and a stage. Yippie.
Triple Threat Match
Nobukazu Hirai vs. Gran Hamada vs. Gran Naniwa
Comedy, triple holds, double teaming, a couple dives, all ‘dat junk. Hirai wins with a Rock Bottom on Naniwa (6:11). OK, this was a *TAD* better than the usual triple threat. A TAD.
Masanobu Fuchi & Taichi Ishikari vs. Nobutaka Araya & Hideki Hosaka
Ishikari needs to learn how to wrestle basic first before he starts having good matches, so this was... BASIC~! I’m starting to like this Ishikari kid though, and he throws a mean dropkick to boot. Araya and Hosaka control him for most of the match and Fuchi comes in at times, trying to help his little buddy that he’ll probably be stretching the fuck out of next week. Big Araya nearly murders little Ishikari near the end with a corner charge avalanche. The crowd gets all heated ‘n’ shiznit when Ishikari kicks of a senton from Hosaka, but Hosaka simply drops him with a running powerslam for the win (8:51). Man, that COULD’VE used the finish it was hinting at. But Ishikari is a rookie and rookie’s thou shalt not participate in good matches until they’re ready. Hosaka gets all PUNK-LIKE post-match, putting his foot over Ishikari’s head a few times before Fuchi pushes him away.
Kaz Hayashi & Jimmy Yang vs. Mr. Problem & Extreme Blade
Problem is still Daijiro Matsui in Kashin gear. And he’s still a crappy wrestler. This is a REALLY low-grade junior match that nobody wants to see. It just goes back-and-forth with some sloppy execution in places and a lot of randomness. Kaz really needs to get out of All Japan because he’s going nowhere and is seemingly regressing by the minute. Kaz & Yang deliver a union WA4 to Blade for the win (10:32).
Shigeo Okumura & Ryuji Hijikata vs. Mike Awesome & PJ Friedman
WHY MUST OKUMURA (and Hijikata to an extent) BE WASTED LIKE THIS? WHY!? I mean, at least this wasn’t 15 minutes of Awesome & Friedman beating up Hijikata, but this was a SQUASH. Okumura and Hijikata manage SOME offense on Friedman, but fuck, it’s SO obvious who’s winning. Awesome drops Hijikata with a motherfucking Awesome bomb from the top for the 3 count (6:13).
AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title
Kendo Kashin [c] vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Takaiwa must be setting some kind of junior record here, wrestling in all four of the major promotions and being big a player in each junior division. HOWEVER, this wasn’t that great. It COULD’VE and SHOULD’VE been a heated war between two popular juniors from rival promotions (see: NJ vs. NOAH), but was the exact opposite. The first half is just dead, directionless matwork with Takaiwa trying to save it at times, but Kashin dragging him into the usual suck. A couple Z1 wrestlers are in the crowd and Wataru Sakata (decked out in a badass trenchcoat and bandana) gets into a little scuffle with Kashin near the end, prompting Wada and some of the ring boys to back him off as he really wants to KILL Kashin. Yeah, that’s how you do it! YEAH~! Things DO pick up for the finish a bit, with Takaiwa getting out of an avalanche-style cross armbreaker and delivering the DVB for a nice near fall. He then delivers his endless powerbombs, an enzuilariat and lariat for some other nice near falls. However, Kashin refuses a running powerbomb and applies his reverse Tarantula. And then, out of nowhere, he turns it into a high-angle front cradle for the win (10:56). SO disappointing. The finish was OK, but a few decent near falls aren’t going to save a match like this. It was just like Kashin said, “OK.. let’s work the mat and then you run through your big moves and I kick out of everything and get the flash pin.”
Kashin gets on the mic, prompting Kazuhiko Ogasawara to get into the ring and KICK HIS ASS. Kaz gets in, but Ogasawara kills him too. Mr. Problem’s also in and beats up Kaz! Everyone brawls a bit and then Kashin’s music plays. OK... that could’ve been better.
A feature is ran to hype KeaKoji vs. Otani & Tanaka. Moving along...
Yoji Anjo & Kazushi Miyamoto vs. Steve Williams & Mike Rotundo
This was SUPPOSED to be a tag league match (that wouldn’t decide anything since both teams didn’t have enough points to win), but Nagai got injured late in the tour and Miyamoto replaces him in this now regular match. This unfortunately follows the tired tale of the gaijin beating on the smaller native (Miyamoto) for a while and the bigger native (Anjo) involving himself once in a while. The Varsity Slugs on offense isn’t as horrible as it used to be, but it still isn’t good at all. Williams is pretty sloppy here actually, throwing some of the WORST LARIATS EVER among other things. Miyamoto brings out the MOVES~! near the end with a springboard dropkick and a senton atomico, but Williams soon drops him with the dangerousbackdropahdrivah for the win (13:19). Williams goes for a handshake from Miyamoto post-match, but Miyamoto pushes him away. Oooooooh yeah.
Real World Tag League
Keiji Muto & Animal Warrior  vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Big John Tenta 
Muto & Animal win the tournament if they win and Tenryu & Tenta can win the tournament if they win and KeaKoji loses in the main event. It’s WWF early 90s all over again, as Earthquake squares off against Animal in the opening sequence. How the FUCK am I watching this shit? This was just horrible and I really don’t want to talk about much more than that. Tenta hints some dives or something, but doesn’t deliver. Motherfucker. Animal HORRIBLY botches the Doomsday Device later on as he CANNOT LIFT TENRYU and drops him in THE MSOT AWKWARD WAY POSSIBLE *TWO TIMES*. They TRY to put together a decent finish but they fail. Tenryu drops Animal with a brainbuster and Tenta drops an elbow on the fallen Animal for the win (13:31). So, so bad.
Real World Tag League
Satoshi Kojima & Taiyo Kea  vs. Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka 
Otani & Tanaka have no chance of winning the tournament here even with a win, since a win would tie them with Muto & Animal and Tenryu & Tenta, but they already lost to both teams earlier in the tournament. KeaKoji can win the tournament with a win here, though. Kea’s got flashy new blue long tights that he shouldn’t wear ever again. AND HERE WE GO! OK, nevermind. This sucked. Kea injures his leg REALLY early in the match off of either a leapfrog or dropkick, and that handicaps everything. Kea tries to work through it but EVERYTHING he does is horrible. It’d be wrong to criticize this because you can just SEE the look of disappointment on Kea’s face. Five minutes in, everyone knows they have to change the match around, but it’s kind of hard to change your gameplan while in the ring. They TRY, but there are much better ways of changing the gameplan around. The build is off, too, because they start busting out a bunch of big moves really early on. Otani & Tanaka seem to play up that they’re taking advantage of the partnerless Kojima at times, but not really. Kea tries to involve himself a couple times but things just get messier. Everyone looks really confused and I cry. They work in a couple near falls for the finish, and Kojima hits Tanaka with a lariat for the win (14:39). And KeaKoji are the tag champions. This was just a complete mess from the start, but everything was working against them. This had the potential to be epic, but ended up sucking. I feel really bad for Kea. He seemed READY to produce greatness, but an injury took him down and out. Really sad to watch. You don’t want this.
Final Analysis: Shit. That’s the word to describe this show. Shit. If I was still doing star ratings, nothing would reach even two of ‘em. The undercard was nothing much, Kashin vs. Takaiwa sucked, the Varsity Slugs vs. Anjo/Miyamoto sucked, the semi-main SUCKED, and the main event sucked. Yeah, a bunch of suck. Congratulations Muto, you’re really getting a hang of this whole management thing. If you’re really rich, then get this show to see Animal try to lift Tenryu. If not, Stay-Away.
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