review by Jason Manning
Date: August 30th, 2002
Location: Tokyo Nippon Budokan
All Japan ran just two shows in August, both part of their “ROYAL ROAD 30 GIANT BATTLE” series. This was the 2nd and the first half of the end-of-August double-header, and was “booked” by Keiji Muto. A bunch of notable matches here. First, friends Kaz Hayashi and Jimmy Yang square off to determine who challenges Kendo Kashin next for the AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title. Also, the WORST AJPW TAG CHAMPIONS EVER, Kronik, face fellow gaijin Mike Barton & Jim Steele, for the belts. Next up, Bill Goldberg debuts in Japan against rising star Satoshi Kojima. Oh boy. Finally, Keiji Muto battles his protégé Taiyo Kea, who is trying to continue his rise to the top after beating Genichiro Tenryu.
Long hype for Goldberg vs. Kojima. Goldberg turns up the ego, saying he doesn’t consider the WWE as an option anymore since it’s purely entertainment. Dude, YOU GOT YOUR PUSH DUE TO ENTERTAINMENT. Gaaahhh.
Keiji Muto is here! OPENING PROMO~! Now, let’s get it on...
Tomoaki Honma vs. Kazushi Miyamoto
This was going along as a fine little opener with Honma schooling young Miyamoto and looking good doing so (even busting out a diving headbutt FAAAARRR across the ring), but Miyamoto manages a Japanese leg roll clutch out of nowhere for the win (2:26). Moving along...
Triple Threat Match
Nobukazu Hirai vs. Hideki Hosaka vs. Ryuji Hijikata
Blahh, usual triple threat stuff here, although it manages to drag despite going only 4 minutes. Hijikata’s pretty fun, but Hirai and Hosaka are really dull (at least here they are), so the whole point of the match (some lighthearted comedy) is thrown OUTTA THE WINDOW. The clever finish came when Hirai caught Hosaka with a hurricanrana cradle, but Hijikata saved with a kick, leading to Hosaka’s counter of the cradle for the 3 count (4:10). Hijikata helped Hosaka with the cradle though, so he CLAIMS VICTORY. But the decision is FINAL. Alright.
Yoji Anjo, Mitsuya Nagai & Shigeo Okumura vs. Arashi, Nobutaka Araya & Yuto Aijima
This was passable enough as an undercard 6-man, with Anjo adding a comedy element as he’s the disrespectful shooter guy and Okumura wants nothing to do with him. Araya continues his “DIE EVERY MATCH” streak somewhere within this with a BRUTAL release German suplex by Okumura. The finish came when, after a bunch of striking between Nagai and Aijima, Nagai *NAILED* Aijima with a high kick. He went to pick him up but... hey, Aijima may really be knocked out. 1, 2, 3 (10:36). Anjo jumps up and down for us post-match. This was an OK little batch of wrestling between six fairly capable guys, although probably nothing I’d check out again.
Steve Williams, Mike Rotundo & Gran Naniwa vs. Johnny Smith, George Hines & Gran Hamada
Blegh. To be honest, this was better than I thought it would be, but that’s not saying much. The Varsity Slugs seemed better than I’ve seen them recently, but that’s not saying much, either. Basically, this was the gaijin doing some random, watchable at best, stuff, all while everyone waits for Hamada and Naniwa to get in there and TEAR IT UP~! Hines and Naniwa put a nice little sequence together for the finish, and Hines finishes it off with the Hines Driver for the 3 count (14:36). Better than it had any right to be, but still, like the last match, nothing I’d want to watch again.
Masanobu Fuchi & Mr. Problem vs. Abdullah The Butcher & Kendo Kashin
NO! NO, NO, NO! A couple amusing comedy antics, but that’s it. The wrestling aspect was just... GAHHHHH. When old Fuchi’s BY FAR the best worker in the match, you’ve got problems. Abby takes the WORST MONKEY EVER from Fuchi later on. Abby drops an elbow on Fuchi for the 3 count (8:12).
AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title #1 Contender Match
Kaz Hayashi vs. Jimmy Yang
Funny how Kashin, the Jr. Heavyweight Champion, is a comedy wrestler, while these two are actually keeping the JUNIOR VIBE ALIVE. Unfortunately, this was really disappointing. When I first reviewed this I wasn’t that hard on it because I like both guys, but I’m finally man enough to admit that this sucked. It started out fine enough with some nice chain wrestling, but fell apart soon enough. Yang really stinks in a singles environment, and was totally exposed here as even Kaz couldn’t carry him, although Kaz was FAR from his best tonight, either. Yang was worse though, as he manages to blow a bunch of moves, SUCH AS...
- A bad armdrag early on
- A cradle reversal screw-up
- Slipping on a turnbuckle figure-four annd resorting to a simple headscissors<br>
- The first Yang Time, which he completely overshot
- The final Yang Time, where he nailed Hayashi’s head and only that
They hit some nice spots here like some plancha suicida’s and what not, but there was just no structure and nothing to keep you involved. Despite the nice moves, this was just pretty boring overall, too. Just lots of random moves from two guys who I would think are above that. The sequences also seemed really awkward, with Yang looking really confused and Kaz not being able to keep things together. The finish was fine with some near falls, but the previously mentioned crappy Yang Times hurt the flow they had going. Hayashi eventually delivered an avalanche-style W4 for a nice near fall and finally the Final Cut for the 3 count (13:58). Sloppy match and just pretty crappy overall. I’M DISAPPOINTED.
Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hiroshi Hase
Like the last match, I really didn’t want to knock on this in my first review because I like both of these guys. But this wasn’t that good, either. Ack. Tenryu totally mailed it in, just striking a lot and not giving a shit about where the match went. Hase was fine, but is so far from where he was years ago it isn’t funny. They did a couple FUN spots, like Hase applying a side headlock and REFUSING! to let go, even after a big backdrop suplex. Hase also busted out a 12X GIANT SWING~! on GENICHIRO TENRYU, which rocks. After that Tenryu started controlling things, but Hase busted out TWENTY-THREE MOTHERFUCKING HEADBUTTS, trying to manage a comeback. The crowd ate up Hase’s comeback big time and he headed up top, but Tenryu simply brought him down with an avalanche-style brainbuster for the 3 count (14:32). So, the match seems like it may finally get decent for once, and Tenryu ends that as quickly as he can. Suckage.
Bill Goldberg vs. Satoshi Kojima
I’m sure you all know the backstory here, but here’s a brief summary. Goldberg kept his contract with WCW/Turner after WCW went out of business (meaning he didn’t sign with WWE or any other promotion), and he made lots and lots of money. During his money-making, he was training. After the contract expired, he decided to head to Japan with Kazuyoshi Ishii as his agent. Ishii made a deal with AJPW to bring in Goldberg for just a handful of matches through 2002 and 2003. His contract is a huge money one and non-exclusive, so it’s a nice contract for him. Goldberg’s big in Japan, but of course fans over here are going to hate it because, fuck, it’s GOLDBERG. But, who cares what we think. We’re not giving them money, are we? No, seriously, we aren’t. ANYWAYS, onto the match. The whole WCW shtick was performed right off the bat, security guards and all. Goldberg’s got cute new shooter tights. Goldberg even gets his own shiny little separate entrance. Now, this match, it was 4 minutes and filled with a bunch of Goldberg no-selling. Yeah, Goldberg no-selling sucks, especially when it’s a guy like Satoshi Kojima. However, for a 4 minute match, it still managed to be kinda’ fun (yeah, you kill me for saying it, but I found it fun so fuck you) The heat was off the charts, even at the start as the fans were chanting “Goldberg” but the true All Japan fans BLEW THAT AWAY with huge “Kojima” chants. The story at the start was that Kojima went for a regular match with an attempted tie-up, but realized just how strong Goldberg was, so quickly brought out some bigger offense. Throughout the match, Kojima sells like a motherfucker and puts Goldberg over as the worst thing to hit All Japan since Keiji Muto. Kojima eventually goes for his elbow drop, but Goldberg gets right back up and grabbed Kojima in a Jackhammer setup. Kojima refuses it, so Goldberg quickly surprises him with a rapid swinging neckbreaker for the 3 count (4:02). And that’s that. Bad booking, since Kojima just took All Japan’s Triple Crown champion, legend Genichiro Tenryu, NEARLY 30 MINUTES around a month ago. Fun squash despite the awful circumstances surrounding it.
The crappy gaijin come down and cut some crappy promos. Why the Americans cut promos in Japan and the natives are silent is beyond me.
AJPW World Tag Team Title
Brian Adams & Bryan Clark [c] vs. Mike Barton & Jim Steele
I liked Barton and Steele for about a week after watching their awesome G1 Tag League final with TenKoji, but despise them now just because their job is to beat up a bunch of talented natives and suck while doing it. Kronik are even WORSE, though. This told the typical AJ gaijin vs. AJ gaijin story of one team bringing the SUCK but the other throwing it RIGHT BACK AT THEM. It dragged on for ages while the crowd died and died harder. They gave the occasional “oooh” for the power moves, and that was it as far as heat went. Really, this just SUCKED. At least WWE, they don’t give their crappy power wrestlers this much time and if they do, the crappy power wrestlers actually step up. They tried putting together in a decent finish with some near falls, but the crowd was long gone by that, and well, these teams CAN’T put together a decent finish. Kronik delivered the High Times on Steele to end this mess (17:25). Kronik’s reign of crap continues. This was fucking terrible. Negative stars for everyone!
Keiji Muto vs. Taiyo Kea
Here’s a little backstory. On 7/17/02, Kronik defeated Keiji Muto & Taiyo Kea to win the AJPW World Tag Team Title, Clark pinning Muto. After the match, Kea said that Kronik were too strong, but it was soon revealed that he was angry at Muto. Muto apologized, but it wasn’t enough, as Kea was ready to become a star. Three days later, he defeated Triple Crown Champion Genichiro Tenryu in a nontitle match. Now, Kea faces his former mentor, Muto. Kea’s head is now shaved, continuing his change. As for the match... blah. It was technically fine, but was lacking EMOTION, man. Muto was his usual self with a bunch of idle/lazy matwork, and it’s really sad that he didn’t step up to put his disciple over. The story of Kea breaking out as a superstar wasn’t played up at all, which sucks. Muto was the only reason for this being just kind of decent, since Kea was trying hard, selling well and looking good and fired up on offense. Muto was the opposite, hardly selling for Kea and pulling out his usual crappy offense. Muto was busted open hardway after the feeling out process when Kea dropped him on the guardrail with a Hawaiian Smasher. I don’t see the point of busting out a finisher on the outside so early in the match, but whatever. Muto worked the arm, but that didn’t really go anywhere. Kea got a decent pop for applying the Nagata Lock II near the end, but that was the only true heat he got as unlike Tenryu, Muto didn’t a thing to put Kea over. They got desperate for crowd heat near the end, doing the DREADED NO-SELLING OF DOOM. Kea gained control near the end and there was a rise in the crowd, but Muto soon avoided a Hawaiian Smasher and hit a few Shining Wizards for the win (19:47). Pft. This COULD’VE been good and would’ve continued Kea’s nice push, but Muto gave Kea next to nothing. His selling was bad, his offense was lame, and he just didn’t seem to care about the match at all. Kea tried and looked very good, but wasn’t working with anything. “Solid” match, I guess, but that’s it.
Final Analysis: Some bad stuff (the Goldberg squash, the tag title match), some decent stuff (the early 6-mans), and some disappointments (Hayashi vs. Yang, Tenryu vs. Hase, Muto vs. Kea). Not one match that was even good, so no, Not Recommended, although you may want to check out for, uh, “historical purposes” (Goldberg’s Japanese debut, JUNG DRAGONS COLLIDE~!, Tenryu vs. Hase, Muto vs. Kea - they all stunk, but you MAYYY want them).
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