review by Kevin Wilson
The Date: November 3rd, 2008
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 9,500, Super No Vacancy
I sure do love me some All Japan. In 2008, they have been the most entertaining promotion to me, which says a lot as New Japan has been great as well. Quick summary: Hirai is a bad guy now, Marufuji is the All Japan Jr. Heavyweight Champion, and best of all Great Muta is the Triple Crown Champion! YAY! Here we also get the debut of former sumo wrestler Ryota Hama, and the invasion of Tenzan and NO LIMIT. This is All Japan's second visit to Sumo Hall in 2008, showing All Japan's growth thus far this year. Here is the full card:
- Kikutaro vs. Masanobu Fuchi vs. Nobutaka Araya
- Manabu Soya vs. Seiya Sanada
- Osamu Nishimura, Elvis Sharpe, and Shane Chung vs. Taiyo Kea, NOSAWA Rongai, and MAZADA
- Ryota Hama Debut: Akebono vs. Ryota Hama
- Suwama, Kaz Hayashi, and Ryuji Hijikata vs. TARU, Nobukazu Hirai, and “brother” YASSHI
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yujiro, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Satoshi Kojima, KAI, and Hiroshi Yamato
- AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Shuji Kondo
- Triple Crown Championship: Great Muta vs. Minoru Suzuki
Let's get started.
Kikutaro vs. Masanobu Fuchi vs. Nobutaka Araya
Kikutaro is back! Kikutaro and Fuchi tie-up, Fuchi pushes Kikutaro into the ropes and gives a clean break. Araya watches. Fuchi pushes Kikutaro into the ropes again, Kikutaro reverses positions with him but he gives a clean break as well before hitting Araya in the face. Fuchi and Kikutaro trade chops, Araya comes over but they hit him away. Irish whip by Fuchi, Fuchi drops down by Kikutaro kicks him. Snapmare by Kikutaro and he delivers the Flashing Elbow. Cover, but he keeps getting back up before the referee can count. The referee gets tired of this and hits a jumping kick onto Kikutaro before stomping him in the back. Back up, Irish whip by Kikutaro but Fuchi shoulder blocks him down. Another shoulder block by Fuchi, Araya tries to charge in but he misses and bounces off the ropes. Fuchi twists on Kikutaro's ankle as Araya gets onto the top turnbuckle, but Fuchi moves Kikutaro away from the corner before Araya can jump. Araya gets back down as Fuchi scoop slams Kikutaro to the mat. Araya goes up top again but Kikutaro rolls out of the way of the moonsault attempt. Abdominal stretch by Fuchi onto Kikutaro but Kikutaro reaches the ropes to force a break. Oil Check by Kikutaro onto Fuchi, and Fuchi falls out of the ring. Kikutaro kicks Araya in the leg and tell him to go outside the ring, but as Araya does so Kikutaro kicks the ropes into Araya's groin, and he accidentally gets the referee as well. Front facelock by Kikutaro, he takes too long talking, but Araya doesn't get out of the hold and Kikutaro pushes him down for a two count. Waistlock by Kikutaro, reversed, but Kikutaro kicks Araya low before hitting a running Oil Check. Fuchi gets back into the ring and kicks Kikutaro, inside cradle, but it gets a two count. He tries a second and gets the same result, he picks up Kikutaro but now Kikutaro applies an inside cradle for a two count. Araya runs in but Fuchi puts him in the inside cradle and picks up the three count! Your winner: Masanobu Fuchi
Match Thoughts: I actually prefer my comedy matches to be mostly comedy, so this was fine as it was never serious in the least. Good to see Kikutaro again, he took a bit of a break from All Japan but appears to be back on at least a semi-regular basis. These three have worked together dozens of times and know their routines, although the three-way match aspect made it a little different. I liked that Araya literally did no offensive moves in the match and then got pinned, and his goofiness helped make the match. Nothing awesome but a solid comedy opener to kick the show off. Score: 5.5
Manabu Soya vs. Seiya Sanada
The young guys get a chance on the big stage. Soya comes out to Green Day, which is a little odd. They circle each other, they trade waistlocks, wristlock by Sanada into a hammerlock but Soya reverses it. Sanada reverses it back, side headlock takedown by Sanada but Soya gets out of it and both men are back on their feet. They go into a Test of Strength, Soya gets the better of it but Sanada flips Soya to the mat. They keep their knuckles locked as Soya gets back to his feet, Soya forces Sanada down but Sanada keeps a bridge. Soya finally pushes him all the way down but Sanada bridges up when he goes for a pin. Sanada struggles to get up and eventually rolls out of it, applying a cross armed submission. Sanada kicks Soya away when Soya gets out of the hold and both men are back up again. Tie-up, Sanada pushes Soya into the ropes but Soya changes positions with him. Soya gives a clean break but Sanada slaps him, leading to Soya beating him down to the mat. Soya goes off the ropes but Sanada hits a drop toehold and gives him a modified Oklahoma Stampede for a two count. Dropkick by Sanada, snapmare, and he goes for a single leg crab hold, but Soya makes it to the ropes. Sanada picks up Soya, scoop slam, cover, but it gets a two count. Modified reverse chinlock by Sanada and he switches it to the Camel Clutch. Soya gets out of it and hits a few elbows, Irish whip, but Sanada hangs onto the ropes when he goes for the dropkick. Sanada applies a crab hold, but Soya makes it to the ropes. Sanada kicks Soya as he gets up, Irish whip by Sanada, reversed, and they collide with neither man going down. They both go off the ropes but the collision leads to no winner, a second time also had no result, but when Sanada goes off a third time Soya hits a back bodydrop. Soya picks up Sanada, Irish whip, and he delivers a jumping lariat. Soya picks up Sanada and goes for a vertical suplex, but Sanada blocks it. Elbows by Sanada, he goes off the ropes but Soya hits a very quick hiptoss. Soya picks up Sanada and hits a delayed vertical suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Soya goes off the ropes and delivers another lariat, cover, but again it gets a two count. Soya picks up Sanada and clubs him in the back, Irish whip from the corner but Sanada flips out to the apron and elbows Soya as he comes towards him. Swan dive dropkick by Sanada, cover, but it gets a two count. Sanada picks up Soya, Irish whip, reversed, but Sanada avoids the boot and hits a dropkick. He goes for a standing moonsault, Soya sits up to avoid it, but Sanada lands on his feet and dropkicks Soya in the back. Sanada applies the crab hold again to Soya, but Soya crawls to the ropes and forces a break. Sanada picks up Soya and applies a waistlock, it is reversed, but Sanada reverses it back and rolls him up for a two count. Backdrop suplex into a backbreaker by Sanada and he applies the crab hold again, and then into a single leg crab hold, but again Soya reaches the ropes. Sanada picks up Soya and goes for the dragon suplex, but Soya gets out of it. Elbow by Sanada but Soya returns fire and they trade blows. Sanada goes off the ropes and hits another elbow, he goes off again but this time Soya elbows him back. Rolling elbow by Sanada but Soya hits him back, sending Sanada down to the mat. Soya picks up Sanada and hits a German suplex hold, but Sanada gets a shoulder up. Soya picks up Sanada again and nails the Power Booster, cover, and he gets the three count! Your winner: Manabu Soya
Match Thoughts: I hope these two are feuding for years to come. They debuted about a month apart in 2007 and are pretty much equals in terms of experience, and its unusual for two young wrestlers like this to get so much time in a singles match on a major event so it was a special occasion. Both looked very solid, there were no noticeable miscues and they work very well together. Sanada was very focused on the crab hold, which is typically a move used to win matches against new wrestlers, but here Soya showed he was too strong for that to work and won with two power moves. Nice match between two rising stars. Score: 6.0
Osamu Nishimura, Elvis Sharpe, and Shane Chung vs. Taiyo Kea, NOSAWA Rongai, and MAZADA
Nishimura and Kea start things off. Tie-up, Nishimura pushes Kea into the ropes but he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, Kea pushes Nishimura into the corner and he chops Nishimura in the chest. Snapmare by Kea, they trade positions and Kea applies a headscissors. Nishimura gets out of it with a handstand and he gives Kea a clean break. Nishimura tags in Chung so Kea makes the tag to NOSAWA. Snapmare by Chung and he applies a reverse chinlock, but MAZADA breaks it up. MAZADA and NOSAWA hit Chung with a quick double team, cover by NOSAWA but the referee is slow to make the count. Snapmare by NOSAWA and he kicks Chung in the back of the head, cover, but it gets a two. NOSAWA throws Chung into his corner and stomps him down, Irish whip, but Chung kicks NOSAWA when he puts his head down and tags in Sharpe. Sharpe picks up NOSAWA and hits a double armed suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Sharpe picks up NOSAWA, scoop slam, he goes off the ropes but MAZADA kicks him from the apron. NOSAWA tags in Kea, and Kea chops Sharpe in the corner. Irish whip by Kea and he delivers a back elbow, cover, but it gets a two count. Side Russian leg sweep by Kea and NOSAWA runs in with a dropkick, cover by Kea but it gets another two. Kea tags in MAZADA as Kea kicks Sharpe in the corner, snapmare by MAZADA and he elbows Sharpe in the back of the head. MAZADA throws Sharpe out of the ring, and Kea throws him in the railing before chopping him in the chest. Sharpe didn't like the chops. Kea slides him back in the ring, Irish whip to the corner and MAZADA delivers a lariat. Irish whip again by MAZADA but this time Sharpe hits a back elbow followed by a lariat. Sharpe tags in Nishimura, uppercuts by Nishimura, Irish whip from the corner and he hits another uppercut. Irish whip by Nishimura and he applies a sleeper hold to MAZADA, but MAZADA gets to the ropes. Scoop slam by Nishimura, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but NOSAWA shakes the ropes and Nishimura ends up missing. Dropkick by MAZADA to Nishimura and he tags in Kea. Irish whip by Kea to the corner and he hits a jumping elbow onto Nishimura followed by a lariat. Cover by Kea but Nishimura kicks out. Kea picks up Nishimura, Irish whip, he goes for a back bodydrop but Nishimura hits a sunset flip for a two count. Kea rolls up Nishimura in return but also gets a two, Nishimura bridges up and applies the backslide but Kea kicks out. Back up they trade strikes but Nishimura hits an enzigieri and tags in Chung. Chung and Sharpe knock NOSAWA and MAZADA off the apron, they then hit Kea with double elbows. Olympic Slam by Chung, cover, but it is broken up. MAZADA and NOSAWA give Chung a double flapjack, then Kea hits a reverse DDT. Cover by Kea but Sharpe breaks it up. MAZADA throws Sharpe out of the ring as Kea picks up Chung and goes for a brainbuster. Chung goes down Kea's back and goes off the ropes, but Kea catches him with the TKO! Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Taiyo Kea, NOSAWA Rongai, and MAZADA
Match Thoughts: Not sure who Sharpe and Chung are, they didn't get a lot of time but neither looked very impressive. This was a really insignificant match to have Nishimura and Kea in, as both had Triple Crown title shots this year and normally have a better position on the card. This was basically a throw away match, with a tag team that is entertaining but low on the totem pole and a pair that no one in the crowd knew. It was also only eight minutes, and the match ended suddenly with no real warning with a move that normally just gets a solid two count. Nothing much here. Score: 3.5
Akebono vs. Ryota Hama
This is Ryota Hama's debut match. Hama is a big motherfucker, more girthy then even Akebono. Hama gets down into a sumo stance and charges Akebono, pushing back into the corner. Hama pushes onto Akebono but the referee forces a break. Hama smacks Akebono in the face before backing off, but now it is Akebono that pushes Hama into the corner and hits a running splash. Akebono picks up Hama and rolls him down to the mat, Hama gets back up but Akebono throws him to the mat again. Irish whip by Akebono from the corner but Hama moves when Akebono charges in and Hama hits a running splash to the back. Waistlock by Hama and he goes for a suplex, but Akebono hangs onto the top rope to block it. Club to the back by Akebono and he tosses Hama to the mat again. Elbow drop by Akebono, cover, but it gets a two count. Akebono picks up Hama, Hama hits a few elbows but Akebono returns fire. Headbutts by Hama and he throws Akebono down to the mat. Elbow drop by Hama, cover, but it only gets a one count. Hama is up first and he hits a headbutt, Irish whip, reversed, and Akebono hits a splash in the corner. Akebono positions under the corner and goes up to the second turnbuckle, but Hama recovers and powerbombs Akebono to the mat! Cover by Hama, but it gets a two count. Hama goes off the ropes and nails a body press, cover, but Akebono quickly kicks out as he is not amused. Fat man offense doesn't work as well on other fat men. Back up, elbows by Hama but Akebono hits him hard and delivers the 64! Cover, but Hama gets a shoulder up. Akebono goes off the ropes and hits a body press, cover, and this time he picks up the three count. Your winner: Akebono
Match Thoughts: You know. If I watched this match with no background knowledge, I would have been amused, but it wouldn't have seemed special. But I have read about Hama's interviews and he is just so excited to be in professional wrestling. And you could tell when he wrestled. The crowd was pretty into him as well and his offense, and it was about as good a first showing as one could hope for. Akebono has surprisingly turned into a capable wrestler, and the match was structured well as it gave Hama some key offense but Akebono won pretty easily and they kept it short. A good debut for Hama, I hope that he lasts, he is certainly an injury risk but he has the passion which is at times the most important thing. Score: 6.5
Suwama, Kaz Hayashi, and Ryuji Hijikata vs. TARU, Nobukazu Hirai, and “brother” YASSHI
All Japan vs. Voodoo Murderers. All Japan attacks the Voodoo Murderers to start the match, with Hayashi and Hirai battling in the ring with the other pairs battling outside. Elbows by Hayashi, Irish whip to Hirai and he delivers a dropkick. Hayashi goes off the ropes, Hirai back bodydrops him over the top rope but Hayashi lands on the apron and guillotines Hirai's neck on the top rope. Moonsault off the side ropes by Hayashi onto Hirai and he tags in Suwama. Kick to the stomach by Suwama but Hirai chops him back. Suwama pushes Hirai against the ropes but Hirai pushes him back, so Suwama takes him down to the mat. Hirai gets in the mount position but they roll into the ropes, causing the referee to force a break. Back up, double chop by Suwama but Hirai returns fire. Suwama punches Hirai against the ropes and hits a side headlock takedown followed by a series of mounted punches. Hirai rolls out of it and Suwama tags in Hijikata, double Irish whip to Hirai and they deliver a double shoulderblock. Hijikata picks up Hirai, Irish whip from the corner and he delivers a high kick. Butterfly suplex by Hijikata, cover, but it gets a two count. Hijikata goes for a high kick but Hirai catches his leg and kicks him low. Hirai tags in TARU, TARU picks up Hijikata and applies a blatant choke hold. The referee forces him to break it, TARU picks up Hijikata and throws him into the corner. TARU tags in YASSHI who stomps Hijikata down while Hirai chokes him from the apron. Elbows by YASSHI to Hijikata, Irish whip, and he hits an atomic drop. YASSHI goes off the ropes but Hijikata catches him with a big boot and kicks him to the mat. Hijikata picks up YASSHI, Irish whip, and he knees him in the stomach before kicking him in the back and the chest. Hirai runs in and knocks Hijikata to the mat however and throws him out of the ring, where TARU works him over. TARU slides Hijikata back in the ring, YASSHI picks him up and delivers an uppercut. Two more uppercuts by YASSHI, cover, but it gets a two count. YASSHI pushes Hijikata back into his corner so that Hirai can choke him, Hirai then bites Hijikata in the head until the referee finally notices. YASSHI throws Hijikata into the exposed turnbuckle before stomping him while he is on the mat, YASSHI picks up Hijikata and throws his head into the exposed steel again.
YASSHI tags in Hirai, Hirai picks up Hijikata and slams him to the mat for a two count cover. Another cover, but really he is just choking him and the referee has to force him off. Hirai picks up Hijikata and throws him into the exposed turnbuckle again before tagging in TARU. TARU chokes Hijikata against the ropes and takes his eyes until the referee calls for a break. Snapmare by TARU and he rakes on Hijikata's face again. TARU picks up Hijikata, Irish whip, and TARU kicks Hijikata before delivering a scissors kick. High kick by TARU, cover, but Hijikata gets a shoulder up. Another kick by TARU, TARU charges Hijikata in the corner but Hijikata kicks him as he charges in and tags in Suwama. Suwama lariats TARU and goes for the Last Ride, but it is broken up. Suwama beats down all three Voodoo Murderers with roaring lariats on all three, he picks up TARU and applies the ankle lock. Hirai breaks it up so Suwama tags in Hayashi, Hayashi then hits a missile dropkick followed by a running strike in the corner. Hayashi tries to pick up TARU but he can't get him up. Hayashi goes to run off the ropes but he gets tripped from the outside, YASSHI and Hirai both come in the ring and all three hit strikes on Hayashi in the corner. YASSHI and TARU then hold Hayashi with his legs apart so that Hirai could hit a diving elbow drop. Cover, but Suwama breaks it up. The ring is cleared of all except Hirai and Hayashi, Hirai picks up Hayashi and slams him to the mat. Hirai then goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving elbow drop, cocky cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hirai but Hayashi hits a handstand springboard enzigieri. Hijikata then comes in the ring and kicks Hirai in the chest, and Suwama follows with a backdrop suplex. WA4 by Hayashi onto Hirai, but TARU pulls the referee out of the ring. Suwama goes out after him as does Hijikata, as in the ring Hayashi goes for the Final Cut. YASSHI breaks it up however, and Hirai grabs a fire extinguisher. Hirai sprays Hayashi with the fire extinguisher before hitting him with it, cover, and the returning referee counts the three count. Your winners: TARU, Nobukazu Hirai, and “brother” YASSHI
Match Thoughts: Typical Voodoo Murderer match. I like Hirai joining as it mixes things up, but I am beginning to tire of the Voodoo Murderer's formula to be honest. TARU isn't a very good wrestler anymore and YASSHI in All Japan is more about cheating then actually wrestling. Hijikata didn't make an attempt to make a tag before managing to do so, which took out some of the possible suspense, and he never seemed in real serious danger. I liked the end of the match as it showed Hirai improvising in his new heel role, but overall the match dragged too much for me and I wish that the Voodoo Murderers would mix it up a bit more during their long beatdowns. Score: 4.5
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yujiro, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Satoshi Kojima, KAI, and Hiroshi Yamato
Tenzan and NO LIMIT vs. F4. Tenzan and Kojima are still friends, they are just leading their young wrestlers to battle. Tenzan and Kojima start things off. Tie-up, but they break cleanly. They trade chops, Mongolian Chops by Tenzan but Kojima blocks one and hits a running elbow. Tenzan returns the favor and the two back off. Tie-up, Tenzan pushes Kojima back into his corner and tags in Yujiro. Yujiro and Kojima circle each other, tie-up, and Kojima tags in Yamato. Yamato and Yujiro trade elbows, Irish whip by Yujiro, reversed by Yamato but Yujiro shoulderblocks him down. Yujiro picks up Yamato but Yamato slides down his back and hits a hard slap. Irish whip by Yamato and he delivers a jumping heel kick, cover, but it gets a two count. Yamato tags in KAI, and he tells Yujiro to tag in Naito. He does, tie-up, side headlock by KAI onto Naito, Naito Irish whips out of it but KAI shoulderblocks him down. KAI goes off the ropes, he avoids Naito's attack and delivers a dropkick. Naito rolls out of the ring but KAI goes out after him before sliding him back into the ring. KAI picks up Naito and makes the tag to Kojima. Club to the back by Kojima onto Naito and he delivers a DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kojima picks up Naito and chops in the chest, but Naito returns fire. Kojima gets the better of it, he picks up Naito and knees him in the stomach before stomping him in the back. Kojima tags in Yamato, stomps to the chest by Yamato and he hits a series of elbows. Scoop slam by Yamato, cover, but it gets a one count. Yamato picks up Naito, snapmare, and he hits a running senton. Yamato picks Naito up around the waist and hits a gutwrench suplex. Back up, Yamato picks up Naito and makes the tag to KAI. KAI kicks Naito in the chest and clubs him in the back, Irish whip by KAI but Naito hits a jumping elbow strike. Yujiro comes in the ring to help his partner, Irish whip to KAI and they hit a hiptoss/dropkick/leg drop/senton combination. Cover by Naito but it gets a two count. Naito picks up KAI and makes the tag to Tenzan, and Tenzan rakes KAI in the face before elbowing him in the head. Punches by Tenzan and he thrusts KAI in the throat before tagging in Yujiro. Yujiro picks up KAI and hits a spinebuster before applying a crab hold, but KAI makes it to the ropes. Yujiro picks up KAI and tags in Naito, KAI fights back but Naito knocks him back with a slap and hits a side slam. Single leg crab hold by Naito but he breaks it up when Yamato runs into the ring. Naito tags in Tenzan, chops by Tenzan in the corner to KAI and he hits a Mongolian Chop. Irish whip by Tenzan but KAI ducks a lariat and hits an enzigieri. This gives him time to tag in Kojima, Kojima clears out Yujiro and Naito before chopping Tenzan in the corner. Irish whip by Kojima, jumping elbow strike, snapmare, and he goes for a diving elbow drop but Tenzan joins him on the top turnbuckle. Superplex by Tenzan but Kojima pops back to his feet. Headbutt by Tenzan and he hits a lariat, but Kojima stays on his feet.
Elbows by Kojima and he delivers a Koji Cutter. He knocks NO LIMIT off the apron before taking off his elbow pad, but Tenzan deflects the lariat attempt and nails the TTD. Tenzan applies the Anaconda Vice, but Yamato manages to get free and breaks it up. Tenzan picks up Kojima but Kojima levels him with a lariat. Kojima goes off the ropes but Tenzan catches him with a heel kick and tags in Yujiro. Yujiro pushes Kojima into the corner, and he along with his partners hit running strikes in the corner. Tenzan goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for a diving headbutt, he slips and misses, but Yujiro covers Kojima anyway for a two count. Crowd chuckles. I think he hurt his face, and he won't be around for awhile. He is back up though, double Irish whip to Kojima but Kojima hits a lariat on both of them. Kojima tags in KAI, Irish whip by KAI to Yujiro to the corner and he hits a step-up kick. Irish whip again, reversed, but KAI moves when Yujiro charges in and hits a superkick. KAI goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a double stomp, cover, but it only gets a two count. KAI picks up Yujiro and applies a waistlock before hitting a pump-handle slam, cover, but it gets two. Yujiro goes off the ropes but KAI hits a lungblower. KAI goes off the ropes, Yujiro catches him, but KAI falls back and both wrestlers are slow to recover. KAI makes the tag to Yamato while Yujiro tags in Naito, and Yamato hits an elevated side slam. Spear by Yamato in the corner and he hits a Northern Lights Suplex, but it gets a two count. Waistlock by Yamato, KAI hits a missile dropkick onto Naito and Yamato delivers the German suplex hold for a two count. KAI and Yujiro come in the ring, Yamato grabs Naito and gives him the Giant Swing, then KAI dropkicks Naito while he is in mid-swing. Cover by Yamato, but Yujiro breaks it up. Yujiro is beat down, then dropkicked by all three members of F4. KAI slams Naito to the mat, then they suplex Yujiro onto Naito. Kojima and Yamato then suplex KAI onto Naito, followed by Kojima (unwillingly) being suplexed onto Naito as well. Tenzan walks in and kicks Yamato, Yamato grabs Naito and goes off the ropes but Yujiro runs in and he helps Naito slam Yamato to the mat. Cover, but Kojima breaks it up. Kojima hits Tenzan with a lariat, but Naito dropkicks him in the knee and Yujiro delivers a lariat. German suplex hold by Naito onto Yamato, but it gets a two count. Naito scoop slams Yamato in front of the corner, hits the Stardust Press, and picks up the three count! Your winners: Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yujiro, and Tetsuya Naito
Match Thoughts: One of the reasons I am cautiously optimistic for puroresu is that all three major promotions have at least one wrestler who looks like they could be a star in the future. Naito, Yujiro, KAI, and Yamato have all been very entertaining this year, and while obviously they have a ways to go to be major draws it is good to see young and talented wrestlers ready to take the throne. This match had an interesting story as it was two friends leading their promotion's young stars, and I wasn't surprised with who won as NO LIMIT has been doing well in the last few months. The Kojima vs. Tenzan sections were well spaced out, the only knock on the match was the random no-sell of the superplex, it didn't lead to anything and just seemed out of place. But the young wrestlers all got a chance to shine and that was the point, and it was an entertaining match. Score: 6.5
(c) Naomichi Marufuji vs. Shuji Kondo
This match is for the All Japan Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, but they break cleanly. Kondo goes for Marufuji's leg but Marufuji spins out of it. Tie-up, Kondo pushes Marufuji into the ropes but after threatening to strike him he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, Kondo pushes Marufuji into the ropes, Marufuji switches positions with him, he goes for a superkick but Kondo ducks out of the way. Waistlock by Marufuji, reversed by Kondo and they struggle for position. Wristlock by Marufuji but Kondo rolls out of it. Hammerlock by Marufuji and he gets Kondo down to the mat. Marufuji switches to a side headlock, Kondo struggles to his feet and Irish whips out of it, but they collide with no result. Kondo goes off the ropes, Marufuji catches him with a dropkick but Kondo doesn't go down. Elbow by Marufuji and he goes off the ropes, Kondo throws him in the air but Marufuji kicks him out of the ring. Marufuji goes off the far ropes, Kondo quickly slides back in the ring and also goes off the far ropes, but Marufuji goes off the far ropes again and hits a lariat. Kondo rolls out of the ring again, when he gets back on the apron Marufuji charges him, Kondo ducks, but Marufuji goes over his back to the floor and attempts a sunset flip powerbomb. Kondo hangs on however and kicks out of it, Kondo then grabs Marufuji and brings him up to the apron. Superkick by Marufuji, but Kondo knocks him back and then press slams him down to the floor. Marufuji eventually gets back into the ring on his own power, Kondo picks him up and hits a swinging neckbreaker. Reverse chinlock by Kondo and he cranks on Marufuji's neck. Kondo picks up Marufuji in a press slam position and drops him neck-first onto the top rope. Stomps to the back of the head by Kondo and he elbows Marufuji in the back of the neck. Kondo goes back to the neck crank, cover, but it gets a two count. From a standing position Kondo pulls on Marufuji's neck but Marufuji gets into the corner. Kicks to the stomach by Kondo and he elbows Marufuji in the face. Kondo picks up Marufuji, Irish whip, Marufuji tries to kick Kondo as he runs in but Kondo catches it and delivers a lariat. Kondo picks up Marufuji and puts him up onto the top turnbuckle, but when he grabs him Marufuji hits a quick vertical suplex. Marufuji twists Kondo's head with his feet and delivers a dropkick to his downed opponent, cover, but it gets a two count. Marufuji throws Kondo out of the ring before joining him, and he throws Kondo into the railing. Marufuji then puts Kondo's head into the railing door and slams it into him. Marufuji rolls back into the ring, and Kondo gets back in at 9. Marufuji picks up Kondo, puts his head over the bottom rope and then goes onto the apron so he can stand on Kondo's head. Marufuji gets back into the ring and kicks Kondo in the chest, he picks him up, snapmare, and he drives Kondo's head to the mat with his foot. Cover, but it gets a two count.
Marufuji applies a headscissors, and drives Kondo into the mat while he keeps the hold applied until Kondo gets a foot on the bottom rope. Kondo rolls out of the ring but Marufuji quickly follows, he tries to Irish whip Kondo into the railing but Kondo reverses it and Marufuji goes into the steel. Kondo gets back up onto the apron but Marufuji comes flying in with a dropkick to his knee, knocking Kondo back down to the floor. Marufuji goes back outside and kicks Kondo's leg while it is twisted in the guard rail. Marufuji returns to the ring and Kondo eventually follows, but Marufuji grabs his leg and twists on his ankle. Marufuji applies a kneelock but Kondo quickly gets a hand on the bottom rope. Kicks to the leg by Marufuji, Kondo struggles back up but a kick to the leg grounds him again. Marufuji picks up Kondo, Irish whip, reversed, but Marufuji kicks Kondo hard in the leg and applies the Figure Four. After fighting for a moment Kondo gets to the ropes to force a break, Marufuji picks up Kondo, he puts his leg over the second rope in the corner and kicks it as the referee tries to get him back. Marufuji finally backs up so that the referee can free Kondo, but Marufuji then delivers a jumping elbow. Irish whip by Marufuji to the other corner, but Kondo knocks him back when he charges in and delivers the Lanzarse. Kondo picks up Marufuji and hits a dragon screw leg whip followed by a Shining Wizard. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Kondo, reversed, Marufuji charges Kondo but Kondo back bodydrops him over the top rope. Marufuji lands on the apron however but Kondo levels him with a lariat and Marufuji falls to the floor. Marufuji makes it onto the apron at 8, Kondo tries to suplex him back in the ring but Marufuji lands on his feet. Marufuji goes off the far ropes but Kondo catches him and nails a spinning Argentine Backbreaker Slam. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kondo waits for Marufuji to get up and goes for the spear, Marufuji leapfrogs it and jumps off the top turnbuckle, but Kondo catches him and applies a bearhug. Marufuji gets out of it however, delivers a kick, and drops Kondo in the corner. He then hits a leg lariat, he goes for a powerbomb but Kondo gets out of it with a back bodydrop. Kondo picks up Marufuji and goes for a powerbomb, but Marufuji gets out of it and drives Kondo's head to the mat with his foot. Marufuji waits for Kondo to get to his knee and delivers a superkick, cover, but it gets a two count. Marufuji picks up Kondo and applies a standing crossface, he then hits the Shiranui for a two count cover. Marufuji taunts Kondo with kicks and goes off the ropes, he goes for his misdirection lariat but Kondo ducks it and applies a waistlock.
Marufuji lands on his feet when Kondo goes for a German suplex, but Kondo avoids the superkick and hits a backdrop suplex. Marufuji quickly follows with a backdrop suplex of his own, then Kondo hits one, Marufuji hits another, superkick by Marufuji but Kondo floors him with a lariat and both wrestlers are on the mat. Marufuji is up first (barely), and they trade tired elbows. Marufuji goes off the ropes but Kondo hits The Original (almost missed because he threw Marufuji so high and to the right), cover, but it gets a two count. Kondo picks up Marufuji and hits a crucifix powerbomb, cover, but Marufuji gets a shoulder up. Kondo picks up Marufuji and goes for another powerbomb, Marufuji gets out of it and goes for the Shiranui, but Kondo blocks it and puts Marufuji onto the top turnbuckle. He goes for the inverted superplex, Marufuji blocks it, so instead he jumps back with Kondo's head against his knee, driving Marufuji's head into it as they fall to the mat. Crucifix Piledriver by Kondo, cover, but it gets a two count. Kondo calls for the lariat, he picks up Marufuji and goes off the ropes, but Marufuji ducks it. Marufuji goes for a triangle choke and gets it locked in, but Kondo doesn't go out. Marufuji picks up Kondo and hits a... Trapped Wrist-Clutch Leg Hook Backdrop Suplex Hold (yea, I just made that up) for a two count. Marufuji goes to the far apron while Kondo is getting up and delivers a swan dive dropkick to the head. Marufuji puts Kondo up onto the top turnbuckle and joins him, and he nails the Avalanche Shiranui. Cover, but Kondo gets a shoulder up. Marufuji picks up Kondo and goes for another Shiranui, but Kondo catches him and hits a modified neckbreaker. Both wrestlers get up slowly, Marufuji applies a waistlock to Kondo but Kondo grabs his head and hits the The Original #2 into the turnbuckles. Kondo goes off the ropes and goes for a lariat, Marufuji blocks it, Marufuji kicks the second one, but a third lariat hits the mark. Kondo picks up Marufuji, goes off the ropes and nails a hard lariat, cover, but Marufuji barely gets a shoulder up. Kondo picks up Marufuji and puts him onto the top turnbuckle, he then joins him and goes for a crucifix powerbomb, but Marufuji gets out of it and jumps down to the mat. Superkick by Marufuji, he then climbs back up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the Shiranui Kai! Cover, but Kondo won't stay down for the three count. Marufuji calls for the end, he picks up Kondo and goes for the Pole Shift, but Kondo gets out of it and takes off Marufuji's head with a lariat. Both wrestlers are slow to get up, Kondo goes for another lariat, Marufuji gets out of it but Kondo rolls him up for a two count. Back up, front flip slam by Marufuji but it gets a two as well. Marufuji superkicks Kondo back into the corner and hits him square in the face with a second and third. Cover but Marufuji, but it gets a two. Kondo comes at Marufuji, but Marufuji stuns him with a superkick and plants him with the Pole Shift! Cover, and Marufuji picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Naomichi Marufuji
Match Thoughts: I... hadn't seen some of these moves before so I didn't know what to call them all. A great match, I love both of these guys and its always been a bit of a dream match for me, and they did not disappoint. I liked Kondo focusing on the neck at first, as that is more creative then picking a limb, and the leg work Marufuji did while not critical wasn't completely forgotten. I liked the elbows towards the end, when after half an hour both were too tired to to really connect but they weren't ready to quit. The new or rarely used moves were worked in well, they weren't contrived at all as they were usually hit as part of a reversal or out of desperation. Marufuji gave Kondo a lot and let him kick out of a few of his big moves, showing a lot of respect for the All Japan star. Kondo doing a Shining Wizard was a cute reference to the fact that he just joined Mutoh and the All Japan Army. On the entertainment scale, Marufuji is easily top five in Japan as he is so fluid and precise which his unorthodox and fast paced offense. A really entertaining, crisp, and smartly worked match that had the crowd extremely vocal for the bulk of the match. Score: 8.5
(c) Great Muta vs. Minoru Suzuki
This match is for the Triple Crown Championship. Muta spits mist in the air after the bell rings and the wrestlers circle each other. Muta rolls out of the ring so Suzuki rolls out as well on the opposite side. Muta looks under the ring, they both roll back in the ring but Muta rolls right back out and looks under the ring again. Muta rolls back in, but now it is Suzuki that rolls out of the ring. Suzuki returns and does a quick kick to Muta's leg. He goes for another but Muta catches it, waistlock by Muta and he goes for Suzuki's leg. They struggle for position with Muta staying on top, and he applies a kneelock. Suzuki reverses it into a leg lock of his own but Muta gets out of it and rolls out of the ring. Suzuki quickly rolls out after him and they both return to the ring, with Suzuki kicking Muta in the legs. Leg lock by Suzuki but Muta makes it to the ropes. Dragon screw leg whip by Suzuki, he goes like he is going to do a Shining Wizard but he slaps Muta instead. Muta gets mad and throws Suzuki out of the ring, he throws Suzuki into the ring post but Suzuki fights back. Suzuki grabs a chair but Muta hits a Shining Wizard, knocking the chair back into Suzuki. Muta jabs a spike into Suzuki's head, busting him open.Muta then grabs the ring bell and hits Suzuki in the head with it before returning to the ring. Suzuki gets back in as well but Muta stomps Suzuki in the head. Irish whip by Muta and he applies the sleeper hold. He bites Suzuki in the head while keeping the hold applied and the referee forces him to break. STF by Muta but Suzuki eventually makes it to the ropes and Muta bites him in the head again. Flashing Elbow by Muta, he goes off the ropes but Suzuki is up and knees him in the stomach. Kicks by Suzuki and he slaps Muta repeatedly in the face. Mounted punches by Suzuki, but Muta quickly rolls out of the ring. Suzuki goes out after him and slides him back in, he goes for a kick, Muta catches it and goes for a dragon screw leg whip, but Suzuki blocks it and applies the cross armbreaker until Muta reaches the ropes to break the hold. Which he eventually does. After the referee keeps hitting him.
Muta rolls out of the ring, but Suzuki goes out as well and looks for him. Suzuki grabs a chair and takes it with him until he finds Muta. Suzuki hits Muta repeatedly with the chair until the referee breaks it up, and Suzuki gets back in the ring. Muta follows, but when he gets on the apron Suzuki applies a hanging triangle choke over the top rope. He finally releases Muta, who falls back out of the ring. Muta grabs a chair and brings it back in the ring with him, but Suzuki kicks it into him and grabs it himself. With Suzuki holding the chair Muta kicks it into Suzuki, he then sets it up and delivers a Shining Wizard off the chair onto Suzuki. Muta grabs the chair again but Suzuki avoids the swing and applies a choke sleeper. Muta still has the chair but drops it, and Suzuki hits a Gotch-style piledriver right onto the chair. Suzuki waits for Muta to get up and re-applies the choke sleeper, but Muta gets out of it. Muta goes for the mist but Suzuki blocks it with his hand and puts the choke sleeper back on. Cover by Suzuki but Muta kicks out. Suzuki applies the sleeper again, Muta struggles to his feet and pushes Suzuki back into the corner. Shining Wizard by Muta, and he dropkicks Suzuki in the knee. Dragon screw leg whip by Muta and he hits a Shining Wizard, then another one from behind, but when he goes for a third Suzuki grabs his leg and applies the cross kneelock. Muta tries to blow mist into Suzuki's face but Suzuki ducks it, Suzuki goes off the ropes and goes for a PK but Muta catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Shining Wizard by Muta, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Suzuki is up and applies the sleeper. Sleeper Takedown by Suzuki, but Muta struggles back to his feet. Suzuki releases the hold, he goes to make a cover but he gets the mist in the face (Muta finally got him). Shining Wizard by Muta, backbreaker, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault. Cover, but Suzuki kicks out at two. Suzuki walks around the ring but goes back to his knees, Muta hits a Shining Wizard and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Great Muta
Post match: Takayama comes out, and apparently he will be a challenger for the Triple Crown in the future.
Match Thoughts: Disappointing all the way around. Minoru Suzuki, the vast majority of the time, just isn't good in big singles matches. He is a great heel, great at getting storylines over and a very good tag team wrestler, but most of his singles matches over 15 minutes or so just drag on as his offense is just not that interesting. He needs more moves then just the sleeper. The match still wasn't bad, with the general storyline that Suzuki just snaps when he notices he is bleeding and beats the hell out of Muta. But it took it awhile to pick up, as the first half of the match was really uneventful and slow and the last five minutes seemed to take an eternity as they kept doing the same spots over and over. Unfortunately the crowd was so burned out by the last match they weren't vocal at all, and they didn't even make much of a noise when Muta picked up the (somewhat sudden/bizarre) win. They actually got quieter as the match went on, the opposite of what a match is supposed to do. If they had finished the match in around half the time and upped the tempo with the same general story, it would have helped, but as it was just too slow to get rolling. I love Great Muta, as everyone knows, but this match wasn't one of his best and hopefully Takayama will be a better fit. Score: 5.5
Overall a very solid card. The only thing missing, really, was a great main event. The debut of Hama went very well, a lot of the young stars got a chance to shine and Marufuji/Kondo was fantastic. If the Great Muta/Suzuki match had delivered then it would have been a high recommendation, but unfortunately it lacked and hurt the event as a whole. I'd still recommend the event for Marufuji/Kondo if nothing else, but it also gives you a great look at the stars of the future in Japan.
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review completed 11/5/08