Date: January 4th, 1992
Location: Tokyo Dome, Japan
Announced Attendance: 60,000
The start of a tradition: The January 4th New Japan Tokyo Dome event. This wasn't their first time in the Tokyo Dome, as they had events in 1989, 1990, and 1991 there, but it was the first on January 4th and there has been an event that date every year since. As in previous years, New Japan had a little help from another promotion to help attract the fans, in this case WCW. 10 wrestlers from WCW were on the card, including Sting and Lex Luger amongst many others. The main event was an all New Japan affair however, as it was title against title with Riki Choshu taking on Tatsumi Fujinami. Also, little Tenzan! Here is the full card:
- Black Cat vs. Hiroyoshi Yamamoto
- Kengo Kimura and Kantaro Hoshino vs. Osamu Kido and Kuniaki Kobayashi
- Jushin Thunder Liger, Aoyagi, and AKIRA vs. Super Strong Machine, Hiro Saito, and Honaga
- Arn Anderson and Larry Zbysko vs. Shiro Koshinaka and Michiyoshi Ohara
- Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes vs. Masa Saito and Kim Duk
- Scott Norton vs. Tony Halme
- Bill Kazmaier vs. Shinya Hashimoto
- Big Van Vader vs. El Gigante
- Antonio Inoki vs. Hiroshi Hase
- Great Muta and Sting vs. Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner
- WCW Heavyweight Championship: (c) Lex Luger vs. Masahiro Chono
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship and Greatest 18 Club Championship: (c) Tatsumi Fujinami vs. (c) Riki Choshu
Let's get started!
Black Cat vs. Hiroyoshi Yamamoto
They circle each other to start, tie-up, Tenzan pushes Black Cat into the ropes and gives him a slap before backing off. They trade slaps, side headlock takedown by Black Cat and he keeps the hold locked on, Tenzan struggles to his feet and Irish whips out of it, but Black Cat shoulderblocks him down. Tenzan comes back with an elbow and punches Black Cat into the corner, Irish whip, and Tenzan delivers a monkey flip. He goes for a second one but Black Cat puts him on the top turnbuckle. Tenzan pushes him back and hits a missile dropkick followed by a regular dropkick, knocking Black Cat out of the ring. Tenzan immediately goes over to the ropes and sails out onto Black Cat with a pescado. Tenzan returns to the ring with Black Cat eventually following, takedown by Black Cat and he applies a reverse chinlock. Tenzan reverses it into a hammerlock and clubs Black Cat in the back, headbutts by Tenzan and he hits a Mongolian Chop. Tenzan picks up Black Cat and delivers a scoop slam, cover, but it gets a two count. Tenzan applies a reverse chinlock, but Black Cat gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Cover by Black Cat but it gets a two count. Black Cat goes back to the reverse chinlock and kicks Tenzan in the back. Back up they trade blows, Irish whip by Black Cat and he nails a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Black Cat into the corner but Tenzan avoids the lariat attempt and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Tenzan picks up Black Cat, scoop slam, and he hits a pair of falling headbutts. Cover, but again he only gets a two. Reverse chinlock by Tenzan and he applies a headscissors, but Black Cat gets a foot on the ropes. Chops by Tenzan and he hits a heel kick. Black Cat catches Tenzan with a DDT however, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Black Cat and he drops Tenzan with a flapjack. Black Cat picks up Tenzan and rams him into the turnbuckle, he then grabs him and hits a powerslam followed by a running senton. Cover, but Tenzan gets a foot on the bottom rope. Black Cat twists Tenzan's legs in a standing figure four of sorts, but Tenzan reverses it into a bow and arrow hold. Tenzan reverts it into a side headlock, Black Cat gets back up however and drops him with a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Black Cat picks up Tenzan and hits a scoop slam but Tenzan rolls out of the way of the running senton. Tenzan goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving headbutt, cover, but it gets a two. Inside cradle by Black Cat, but Tenzan kicks out. Irish whip by Black Cat but Tenzan catches him with a backslide for a two count. Tenzan picks up Black Cat, Irish whip from the corner but Black Cat kicks Tenzan as he charges in. Scoop slam by Black Cat, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and delivers a senton. Cover, but it gets a two count. Black Cat picks up Tenzan and hits another DDT, cover, but Tenzan barely gets a shoulder up. Annoyed, Black Cat puts Tenzan onto the top turnbuckle, joins him, and plants him with an avalanche-style DDT. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Black Cat
Match Thoughts: I'll be honest, this match surprised the hell out of me. I was expecting a simple little veteran vs. rookie match (Tenzan debuted in January of 1991), but instead it was very competitive with Tenzan hitting a lot of big moves on the much more experienced Black Cat. I thought they both went to the reverse chinlock too much, but since openers are generally low key in New Japan it seemed like it was heading towards a simple mat based "learning experience" for Tenzan until Tenzan started hitting the suplexes and top rope moves. Even the crowd was much more vocal then you'd expect from an opening match, usually the fans are still arriving as the show starts. A very solid opener, and it shows how much they saw in Tenzan to let him have such a good showing at the Tokyo Dome. Score: 6.5
Kengo Kimura and Kantaro Hoshino vs. Osamu Kido and Kuniaki Kobayashi
Hoshino and Kido start things off. Tie-up, side headlock takedown by Hoshino and they jockey for position on the mat with neither getting a clear advantage. Tie-up, takedown by Hoshino and he goes for the arm, but Kido hits a headscissors takedown. Kido keeps the hold applied but Hoshino eventually gets out of it. They lock knuckles, and Hoshino hits a monkey flip which the crowd loves for whatever reason. Kimura and Kobayashi tag in, tie-up, Kobayashi pushes Kimura into the ropes and gives him a chop before throwing him out of the ring. Baseball slide by Kobayashi, but Kimura gets back into the ring. Kobayashi hits a DDT but the cover only gets a one count. Back up they go into a Test of Strength, Kimura gets the better of it and he pushes Kobayashi back into the corner. They trade slaps and Kimura clubs Kobayashi in the back before tagging in Hoshino. Irish whip by Kobayashi to Hoshino but Hoshino shoulderblocks him down. Side headlock by Hoshino and he connects with a series of punches, but Kobayashi manages to tag in Kido. Tie-up, Hoshino goes for Kido's arm and applies an armbar on the mat. Hoshino tags in Kimura, kicks to the chest by Kimura but Kido applies a leg lock. Kimura makes it to the ropes to force a break, tie-up, Kido puts Kimura's leg over the middle rope and delivers a series of strikes. Kido tags in Kobayashi, chop by Kobayashi in the corner to Kimura and he hits a running kick to the face. Irish whip by Kobayashi but Kimura gives him a hard knee to the head before tagging in Hoshino. Hoshino comes in the ring with a diving knee to Kobayashi, snapmare near the corner and he puts Kobayashi in the crucifix, but Kobayashi is too close to the ropes. Back up, snapmare by Hoshino and he applies a headscissors. Hoshino tags in Kimura, Kobayashi and Kimura trade blows with Kobayashi getting the better of it. Kobayashi picks up Kimura and tags in Kido, and Kido delivers a swinging neckbreaker for a two count cover. Sleeper hold by Kido and he kicks Kimura in the back. Kido re-applies the sleeper hold but Kimura pushes him back. Kido tags in Kobayashi, Irish whip by Kimura to Kobayashi and he hits the Inazuma Leg Lariat. Irish whip by Kimura to the corner but Kobayashi catches him with a back kick and kicks Kimura in the chest. Back up, Irish whip again but Kimura reverses it and drops Kobayashi with a powerbomb. Cover, but it is broken up. Kobayashi tags in Kido, Kido applies the Fujiwara Armbar but it is broken up by Hoshino. Kido picks up Kimura but Kimura slaps on the school boy for a two count. Kimura goes off the ropes and hits another Inazuma Leg Lariat, and he tags in Hoshino. Hoshino comes in the ring with a missile dropkick to Kido, Hoshino picks up Kido but Kido rolls him up for a two count. Kido applies the Fujiwara Armbar but it is broken up by Kimura. Hoshino and Kido slowly get up, and Kido drops Hoshino with a backdrop suplex. Cover, but Hoshino barely kicks out in time. Kido goes off the ropes, does a cradle cutback on Hoshino, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Osamu Kido and Kuniaki Kobayashi
Match Thoughts: Decent veteran non-offensive wrestling. This is card filler and a way to get some of the older stars on the show, there was no way this match was going to give anything more or less then you'd expect from it. Personally, I could do without it, but I understand its purpose, although I do prefer when they have a young star in the match as well to either be put over or just to help keep the action moving. The crowd enjoyed it which is always a plus, but it is definitely a match I would have skipped if I didn't feel obligated to review each match on a card. Score: 4.0
Jushin Thunder Liger, Aoyagi, and AKIRA vs. Super Strong Machine, Hiro Saito, and Honaga
They brawl to start the match,
with the bad guys getting the advantage as some spill to ringside. Saito hits a backbreaker onto Aoyagi in the ring, snapmare, and he tags in Honaga. Honaga kicks Aoyagi in the corner but Aoyagi fights back. Honaga catches an Aoyagi kick and tags in Machine, Irish whip by Machine and he applies a sleeper hold. Aoyagi kicks out of it and deliver a mid-kick before tagging in AKIRA. Elbows by AKIRA but Machine catches him with a backdrop suplex. Machine rams AKIRA into the exposed corner before tagging in Honaga, who kicks AKIRA in the mid-section. Honaga hits a front suplex onto the top rope before making the tag to Saito. Saito stomps on AKIRA but AKIRA hits an eye rake and tags in Liger. Liger goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a double stomp, but Saito punches him in the midsection and hits a jawbreaker. Another jawbreaker by Saito, Irish whip, and he delivers a back bodydrop. Saito tags in Machine, and Machine punches Liger in the face. Military Press by Machine into a gutbuster, he picks up Liger and goes for a suplex, but Liger lands on his feet and nails a Liger Kick before tagging in Aoyagi. Aoyagi kicks Machine back into his corner, and Machine tags in Honaga. Aoyagi and Honaga circle each other, Honaga rakes Aoyagi in the eyes, Irish whip, reversed, and Aoyagi delivers a knee in the corner. Stomp by Aoyagi, Irish whip, but Honaga ducks the kick. Aoyagi catches him with a kick anyway and tags in AKIRA, and with Aoyagi they hit a double chop onto Honaga. Leg drop by AKIRA and he applies a single leg crab hold, but Saito comes in the ring and breaks it up. Honaga tags in Machine, Machine trips AKIRA and drops him with a scoop slam. Irish whip by Machine and he hits a lariat for a two count. Irish whip to the corner by Machine and both he and Saito deliver strikes in the corner to AKIRA. Saito is tagged in, Irish whip to the corner by Saito, reversed, and AKIRA nails a dropkick. AKIRA tags in Liger, and they all beat down Saito in the corner. Liger goes off the ropes and hits a rolling senton, cover, but it gets a two count. Liger picks up Saito, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and delivers a moonsault for a two count. Liger tags in Aoyagi, knee strikes by Aoyagi and he kicks Saito until he falls to the mat. Aoyagi applies a crab hold, but Saito reaches the ropes. Snapmare by Aoyagi and he tags in AKIRA, AKIRA goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving elbow drop.
AKIRA picks up Saito and applies an abdominal stretch, but Saito gets out of it. AKIRA grabs him before he can tag out and applies a single leg crab hold, but Machine breaks it up. AKIRA tags in Liger, Liger picks up Saito, Irish whip, reversed, and Saito delivers a spinebuster. Saito tags in Machine, Machine picks up Liger and hits a delayed vertical suplex. Elbow drop by Machine, cover, but it gets two. Machine tags in Honaga, Saito comes in too, double Irish whip to Liger and they toss him up into the air. Honaga goes up to the top turnbuckle but Liger is up and joins him. Saito runs in and knocks Liger off the top turnbuckle, allowing Honaga to deliver a diving lariat for a two count. Honaga picks up Liger, Irish whip, reversed, and Liger nails the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Liger puts Honaga onto the top turnbuckle and hits an avalanche double armed suplex. Liger tags in AKIRA, but Honaga kicks AKIRA low. Honaga tags in Machine, who rakes AKIRA's eyes from the apron. Punches by Machine, and with Honaga he nails a spike piledriver. Cover, but it gets a two count. AKIRA regains the advantage and tags in Aoyagi, elbows by Aoyagi in the corner to Machine and he hits a series of knees and kicks. Aoyagi tags in Liger, and with AKIRA he hits a spike piledriver onto Machine. Liger picks up Machine, he goes for a slam but Machine reverses it and tags in Saito. Vertical suplex by Saito to Liger, cover, but it gets a two. Honaga comes in the ring, double Irish whip to Liger but Liger hits a double dropkick and tags in Aoyagi. Aoyagi kicks Saito in the chest, and Saito tags in Machine. Aoyagi gives him a few kicks as well but Machine catches one and delivers a lariat. Machine picks up Aoyagi, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but missing the diving headbutt. Liger comes out of nowhere with a diving body press onto Machine, as Aoyagi tags in AKIRA. Missile dropkick by AKIRA to Machine, but Machine manages to tag in Saito. Honaga comes in as well and they hit a double powerbomb onto AKIRA, cover, but it gets a two count. Senton by Saito, cover, but again he gets a two. Saito picks up AKIRA, scoop slam, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and nails the diving senton. Cover, but AKIRA gets a shoulder up. Saito goes for a suplex but AKIRA reverses it and nails a dragon suplex hold for the three count! Your winners: Jushin Thunder Liger, Aoyagi, and AKIRA
Match Thoughts: Better then I was expecting, I have low hopes for New Japan six man tags but they put some effort into making this one interesting. First of all the crowd loves them some Liger, and reacted well to just about anything he did. Also the action stayed fast pace throughout as there wasn't a dull moment, which is always a plus. Per usual in these matches the selling was suspect at best, with the first spike piledriver being sold for less time then a slap to the face usually is, but they kept it to a minimum. AKIRA getting the win came across as significant, I have no idea if it was or not, but the reaction by AKIRA and the crowd made it seem like an upset. Very watchable filler match. Score: 6.0
Arn Anderson and Larry Zbysko vs. Shiro Koshinaka and Michiyoshi Ohara
Anderson and Zbysko represent WCW. Zbysko and Ohara start things off, tie-up, Ohara pushes Zbysko against the ropes and gives a relatively clean break. Tie-up again, Zbysko locks Ohara's arm but Ohara armdrags him to the mat. Back up, side headlock by Ohara, Zbysko Irish whips out of it but Ohara shoulderblocks him down. Ohara avoids a Zbysko dropkick and hits another armdrag, but Zbysko manages to tag in Anderson. Side headlock by Anderson and he applies a wristlock, but Ohara reverses it. Ohara tags in Koshinaka, and both of them headbutt Anderson. Clubs to the back by Koshinaka but Anderson hits a snapmare and a jump-over neckbreaker. Anderson grabs the arm of Koshinaka and tags in Zbysko, with Zbysko hitting the grounded cobra twist for a two count. Back up, hip toss by Koshinaka but Zbysko returns to his feet. Single leg takedown by Zbysko and he applies a leg lock. Koshinaka gets out of it, Zbysko grabs Koshinaka by the arm and tags in Anderson. Punches by Anderson, Irish whip, reversed, and Koshinaka hits a back bodydrop followed by a pair of dropkicks. Tie-up, Anderson pushes Koshinaka back into the corner and Koshinaka tags in Ohara. Anderson and Ohara lock knuckles with Anderson getting the better of it, but Ohara pushes Anderson to the mat. Anderson applies a standing armbar, Ohara tries to body slam his way out of it but Anderson keeps the hold locked on. Ohara gets out of it, side headlock by Ohara but Anderson tags in Zbysko. Side headlock takedown by Zbysko but Ohara reverses it into a headscissors. Zbysko gets out of the headscissors and goes back to the side headlock, but Ohara hits a side Russian leg sweep and makes the tag to Koshinaka. Vertical suplex by Koshinaka to Zbysko, Ohara comes back in and they hit a double lariat onto Zbysko. Hip attack by Koshinaka, snapmare, he picks up Zbysko and they trade kicks. Zbysko pushes Koshinaka into his corner and tags in Anderson, backbreaker by Anderson and he hits a leg drop. Anderson picks up Koshinaka and drops him with a neckbreaker before tagging in Zbysko. Stomp to the stomach by Zbysko and he delivers a vertical suplex. Zbysko picks up Koshinaka and rams him into the corner before applying a crab hold. Ohara breaks it up and Zbysko tags in Anderson, and Anderson applies the crab hold as well. Anderson tags Zbysko back in, and they both throw Koshinaka into the corner. Zbysko applies the abdominal stretch to Koshinaka with Anderson helping from the apron. Anderson is tagged in, Irish whip by Anderson but Koshinaka knocks him back and tags in Ohara. Scoop slam by Ohara onto Anderson and he hits an elbow drop for a two count. Side Russian leg sweep by Ohara, cover, but it gets another two. Ohara applies a crab hold but Zbysko breaks it up. Ohara picks up Anderson, scoop slam, and he delivers two more running elbow drops. Back up, scoop slam by Ohara in front of the corner, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving elbow drop for a two count. Ohara tags in Koshinaka, Irish whip by Koshinaka and he delivers the jumping hip attack. Zbysko gets one two, Koshinaka then covers Anderson but it gets a two count. Koshinaka tags Ohara back in, and he slams both Anderson and Zbysko. Anderson recovers however, he Irish whips Ohara and Zbysko hits Ohara from the apron. Spinebuster by Anderson, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Arn Anderson and Larry Zbysko
Match Thoughts: People love Arn Anderson, which is great, but I have always hated his formulaic tag team matches from the early 90s. The pointless submissions that have nothing to do with his finishers, winning matches suddenly even though his team took more damage, and just the slow pace in general make me want to fast forward. Ohara and Koshinaka did bring some speed and interest however, which I appreciated, and Ohara in particular was doing all he could to impress in his first Tokyo Dome appearance. Still though, soon as I saw Anderson/Zbysko were a team on the card I knew what I was in store for and they did not disappoint. Not that great, but not useless due to Ohara's effort. Score: 4.5
Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes vs. Masa Saito and Kim Duk
The father and son duo represent WCW. Dustin and
Duk start things off. Duk has no interest in the feeling out process and hits an armdrag on Dustin. Tie-up, and this time Dustin hits the arm drag. Criss cross, sketchy leap frog by Dustin and he hits a body slam. Headscissors by Dustin and he hits an armdrag before working over the arm on the mat. Duk gets back to his feet, Irish whip by Duk but Dusty shoulderblocks him down. Dustin dropkicks Duk out of the ring onto the ramp but slingshots him back into the ring and hits another armdrag. Knees by Duk and he applies a side headlock before giving Dustin a punch to the face. Dustin punches him back and applies a side headlock of his own, but Duk gets him to the mat. Duk asks Saito for the tag but Saito says he isn't ready yet, wristlock by Duk to Dustin and Dustin manages to tag in Dusty. Dusty throws Duk into the corner and tells Saito to tag in. Saito does, tie-up, and the two trade chops. Elbow by Dusty and he throws Saito out of the ring onto the ramp. Scoop slam by Dusty on the ramp and he drops an elbow onto Saito. Back in the ring, Saito asks for a handshake and then kicks Dusty in the stomach. Stomps by Saito and he punches him in the throat. Dusty rolls out to the apron, but Saito goes out to the apron as well. Stomp by Saito as they get back into the ring, and Saito applies an armbar. Headbutt by Dusty but it doesn't work, as he makes Dusty woozy. Irish whip by Dusty and he knocks down Saito with a back elbow. Dusty picks up Saito and gives him a chop before delivering another bionic elbow. Vertical suplex by Dusty, cover, but Duk quickly breaks it up. Saito tags in Duk, punches to the throat by Duk and he applies the neck grip. Duk tags in Saito, stomps to the stomach by Saito but Dusty moves when he goes for a lariat and Saito accidentally hits Duk. This gives Dusty time to tag in Dustin, lariat by Dustin to Saito and he covers for a two count. Dustin rams Duk and Saito's heads together but the pair eventually get the best of him in the corner. Chops by Saito to Dustin and he tags in Duk. Double vertical suplex to Dustin which somehow looks botched, cover, but it gets a one count. Duk picks up Dustin and hits a piledriver, cover, but it gets a two count. Reverse chinlock by Duk, back up, Dustin goes for a cross body but Duk moves and Dustin sails out of the ring onto the ramp. Back in the ring, vertical suplex by Duk to Dustin for a two count cover. Duk applies the neck grip again, he picks up Dustin, scoop slam in front of the corner and he goes up top, but Dustin recovers and tosses him off. Cover, but it barely gets a two count. Snapmare by Dustin and he hits an elbow drop for a two count. Dustin tags in Dusty as Duk tags in Saito, tie-up, wristlock by Dusty and he applies a standing armbar. Dustin is tagged back in and he goes for the arm as well, but Saito grabs him and hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but Dustin gets a shoulder up. Another backdrop suplex by Saito, cover, but Dusty breaks it up. Irish whip by Dustin and the two collide in the middle of the ring, each collapsing to the mat. Saito tags in Duk but Dustin punches Duk as he charges in. Irish whip by Dustin and he delivers a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Duk regains the advantage, Irish whip, reversed, and Dustin hits the bulldog. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes
Match Thoughts: Saito and Dusty tried, unfortunately Dustin and Duk have no chemistry and were off, and they were in most of the match. I don't know if Duk is just old, doesn't care, or just didn't click with Dustin but their pairings were just full of miscommunication and poor execution. It was almost hard to watch at times when they were in there together. Dusty and Saito tried and showed some fire, but Duk's laziness and Dustin's inexperience really dominated this match. Not worthy of the Dome, they just weren't on the same page here. Score: 3.5
Scott Norton vs. Tony Halme
Crowd seems excited for the power man match. Tie-up, Norton pushes Halme back into the corner and he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, this time Halme gets Norton into the corner and he connects with a series of body blows. Norton returns with chops, Irish whip, and he hits a running lariat in the corner. Side headlock by Norton, which he works for a full minute, Halme finally punches out of it, Irish whip by Halme and he delivers a body slam. Now it is Halme that applies the side headlock and he gives Norton a punch, Irish whip by Norton and Norton delivers the shoulderblock. Norton waits for Halme to get up and hits a second one, Irish whip by Norton and he hits a back elbow followed by a lariat. Norton pushes Halme against the ropes and hits a second lariat, Halme slowly gets up, snapmare by Norton and he applies a reverse chinlock. Neck crank by Norton, he picks up Halme and hits a neckbreaker. Back up, Halme fights back with punches to the body, he picks up Norton in the fireman's carry and delivers a Samoan drop. Elbows to the kidney by Halme as he punches Norton into the corner, Irish whip, and Halme hits a cross body in the corner. Straight right punch by Halme, cover, but Norton pushes him off. Body slam by Halme, he goes off the ropes and hits an elbow drop for another two count. Halme goes for a lariat but Norton ducks it and hits a lariat of his own. Norton picks up Halme, Irish whip, and Norton hits a back bodydrop. Cover, but Halme kicks out. Norton picks up Halme again, Irish whip and Norton drops Halme with a spinebuster for a two count cover. Back up, lariat by Norton, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Halme shakes the rope, which forces Norton to crotch himself. Halme punches Norton while he is still on the top turnbuckle and throws him off to the mat. Now it is Halme that goes up top and he nails a diving lariat. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Tony Halme
Match Thoughts: This wasn't... bad, or anything. It helped that the crowd was really into it in their dislike of Halme, they lost them briefly a few times but the top rope moves at the end got them back into it. Halme was a big time bad guy because when he first came to New Japan he defeated Hashimoto, and then in the year after that when he came into New Japan he had a good deal of success. Norton wasn't normally a "good guy" but he was against the invading Halme as he was still one of New Japan's own. Anyway, even though they were overly dependant on some moves (headlocks and lariats in particular) the match wasn't long enough to be offensive and there weren't any obvious miscommunications which was a pleasant surprise. Probably a case of going in with low expectations and the match not being as bad as suspected, but it was a fine mid-card power match. Score: 5.0
Bill Kazmaier vs. Shinya Hashimoto
Bill Kazmaier represents WCW.
Tie-up to start, and Kazmaier pushes Hashimoto to the mat. Back up, tie-up again, Kazmaier picks up Hashimoto and body slams him to the mat. Kicks to the leg by Hashimoto and he kicks Kazmaier in the chest, but Kazmaier absorbs the blows. A right hand punch by Kazmaier floors Hashimoto, and Hashimoto rolls out of the ring onto the ramp. Hashimoto returns after a moment, Kazmaier drives Hashimoto back into the corner and connects with a series of punches. Irish whip by Kazmaier and he throws Hashimoto into the corner before elbowing him repeatedly in the kidney area. Kazmaier twists Hashimoto's arm around the top rope and pulls on it before clubbing him in the chest. Hashimoto fights back unsuccessfully, and Kazmaier kicks Hashimoto in the back. Sasaki is on commentary, laughing at Hashimoto. Irish whip by Kazmaier and he delivers a back bodydrop. Kazmaier picks up Hashimoto, scoop slam in front of the corner, Irish whip, and Kazmaier hits a lariat. Back up, Irish whip by Kazmaier and he delivers a powerslam for a two count cover. Kazmaier picks up Hashimoto and puts him in a bearhug before dropping him back to the mat. Torture Rack by Kazmaier but Hashimoto punches his way out of it. Kazmaier picks up Hashimoto and goes for it a second time, but Hashimoto gets out of it and hits a leg sweep. Another leg sweep by Hashimoto, kicks to the chest by Hashimoto and he deliver a judo throw. Kazmaier gets back up, headbutts by Hashimoto, he goes off the ropes and delivers the rolling heel kick. A second heel kick by Hashimoto, cover, but it gets a two count. Hashimoto grabs Kazmaier and plants him with a DDT, cover, but again Kazmaier kicks out. Hashimoto charges Kazmaier and nails the jumping DDT, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Shinya Hashimoto
Match Thoughts: This is just your usual New Japan trueborn vs. big gaijin invader match that was very popular back in the day. Course wrestlers like Vader, Bigelow, and Norton were better wrestlers and were more entertaining, but Kazmaier did his power moves ok here and looked fine for what was asked of him. Really really simple match with Kazmaier dominating for six minutes, then Hashimoto dominating the next two and picking up the win. No back and forth, no real drama, just "you beat up me for a few minutes, then I beat up you for a few minutes and win." Little too simplistic for me, I like some drama in my wrestling, but possibly all they thought they were capable of. So not a good match but not unwatchable like it could have been, which is always a plus. Score: 4.0
Big Van Vader vs. El Gigante
El Gigante represents WCW.
Tie-up to start, but they break cleanly. Tie-up again, but El Gigante pushes Vader back. Another tie-up, El Gigante goes for a slam but Vader punches him in the ribs. Vader runs into El Gigante with no result, tie-up, El Gigante pushes Vader into the corner and delivers a series of punches. Vader fights back however, he pushes El Gigante into the corner and punches him repeatedly in the chest and head. Running body splash by Vader, he applies a waistlock but El Gigante blocks the suplex and Vader pushes him to the mat. Kicks to the ribs by Vader and he delivers an elbow drop. Running body press by Vader, cover, but El Gigante gets a shoulder up. Vader picks up El Gigante and gives him a headbutt, he pushes El Gigante into the corner and clubs him in the chest. Vader charges El Gigante but El Gigante gets his boot up. Chops by El Gigante, Irish whip, and he applies The Claw. Vader (with the crowd's support) grabs the ropes to get out of it, and the referee forces the break. Lariat by El Gigante and he shoulder blocks Vader out of the ring to the ramp. El Gigante joins him, headbutts by El Gigante on the ramp but Vader comes back with punches. Body press by Vader against the ropes, and he hits a second one. The count is getting high, but Vader punches El Gigante down on the ramp as the bell sounds. The match is declared a double countout.
Post match: The crowd boos, but El Gigante puts El Gigante's face over his mask and sets off the smoke into it, making the crowd a little happier.
Match Thoughts: They kinda booked themselves into a corner in this one. El Gigante was very very protected in WCW, I don't even know if he was ever pinned cleanly. Vader on the other hand was New Japan's monster gaijin, and El Gigante was so awkward and unskilled that the crowd would have not been amused if he won. So what we got was a 5 minute double count out, which might have worked but as mentioned El Gigante is so bad that even that five minutes was tough to watch at times. I wish Vader could have just squashed him, which is probably what the crowd wanted to, but no way WCW was going to let that happen. They should have made this into a tag or something, as a singles match it was pretty useless. Score: 3.0
Antonio Inoki vs. Hiroshi Hase
They circle each other to start,
and Hase gives Inoki a slap. Single leg takedown by Hase but Inoki returns to his feet. He goes for another one but Inoki blocks it and the two slide into the ropes, forcing a break. Back in the middle of the ring, takedown by Hase and he goes for the arm, but Inoki rolls through it and returns to his feet. Belly to belly suplex by Hase, and he waits for Inoki to return to his feet. Hase grabs Inoki but Inoki twists out of it and stomps Hase in the back. Back up they jockey for position, Inoki applies a sleeper hold but the referee deems it a choke and makes Inoki release the hold. Hase is out like a light as the referee tries to revive him, and he finally wakes back up with the help of his corner and some water. Inoki immediately hits an Abisegeri followed by a back bodydrop, then a double armed suplex for a two count cover. Inoki applies a reverse chinlock but Hase gets a foot on the ropes to break the hold. Inoki waits for Hase to get up and connects with a series of punches, but Hase headbutts Inoki to the mat. Back up, they trade blows, but Hase gets the advantage and applies the Muta Lock. Inoki reverses it however and they return to their feet, and Hase drops Inoki with a uranage. Another uranage by Hase, he picks up Inoki and delivers a third one, cover, but it gets a two count. Hase grabs Inoki and just kills Inoki with another uranage, right on the back of his head. Inoki slowly gets back up, Hase grabs him but Inoki blocks the fifth uranage and hits an armbreaker. Enzigieri by Inoki and he applies the sleeper hold. Again the referee thinks it is a choke, so Inoki lets it go and hits an enzigieri. Inoki applies the Octopus Hold but Hase collapses into the ropes to break the hold. Enzigieri by Inoki and he re-applies the Octopus Hold, and this time Hase has to submit! Your winner: Antonio Inoki
Match Thoughts: Hase defeated Tiger Jeet Singh the previous year to give him the privilege of fighting Inoki. Inoki likes these "oops I cheated and knocked you out" storylines, the more of his matches I watch the more I see that happen. The match was fine for the most part, Inoki gave Hase a lot, I don't know if Hase was being considered for a serious heavyweight run but he never got it if that was the plan even though he did find success in the tag team division. I liked that the uranages increasingly got more and more stiff as he gave them, but I would have liked for him to have had a different move to try to get the win like the Northern Lights Suplex. A solid match with the New Japan legend, but nothing to get excited about, at this stage of his career Inoki was still very good but was a bit limited. Score: 6.5
Great Muta and Sting vs. Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner
Muta and Scott start things off.
Tie-up, wristlock by Scott and he sends Muta to the mat. Muta is back up quickly and kicks Scott in the head, stunning him. Spinebuster by Scott, he picks up Muta, Irish whip, Muta ducks an Scott lariat and connects with a back kick. Dropkick by Muta, but when he goes for the second one, Scott avoids it. Scott tags in Rick while Muta tags in Sting, Rick pushes Sting back into the corner and he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, punches by Rick, Irish whip, and he hits a hiptoss. Sting gets back up but Rick delivers a lariat. Rick then goes up on the top turnbuckle and nails a diving bulldog as Sting gets up. Cover, but Sting kicks out at one. Irish whip by Rick from the corner but Sting fires out of the corner with a lariat. Face crusher by Sting, he picks up Rick and rams him gut-first into the turnbuckle. Sting picks up Rick, Irish whip from the corner but Rick avoids the Stinger Splash and tags in Scott. Scott grabs Sting and hits a Tiger Driver, Irish whip by Scott and he drops Sting with an Around the World. Cover, but it gets two. Irish whip again by Scott, reversed, but Scott clubs Sting in the back. Scott goes for a tombstone piledriver but Sting reverses it and hits one of his own. Elbow drop by Sting, cover, but Rick breaks it up. Sting tags in Muta, who comes in the ring with an elbow strike to Scott. Snapmare by Muta and he nails the Flash Elbow. Muta applies an armbar but Scott quickly gets out of it and delivers a capture suplex. Scott tags in Rick, Rick puts Muta onto the top turnbuckle and hits an avalanche belly to belly suplex. Rick picks up Muta and delivers a German suplex, cover, but it gets two. Rick tags in Scott, and Scott hits a pump-handle slam. Scott picks up Muta, he puts Muta onto the top turnbuckle and joins him before hitting an avalanche Japanese Drop. Scott applies a Dragon Sleeper, he picks up Scott and with Rick they hit a Canadian Backbreaker into a diving elbow strike for a two count. Rick stays in the ring as legal, reverse chinlock by Rick but Muta makes it to the ropes. Rick picks up Muta and rams him gut-first into the turnbuckle before kicking him in the back. Cover, but Muta kicks out. Reverse chinlock by Rick and he tags in Scott. Belly to belly suplex by Scott and he drops a quick elbow. Scott throws Muta out of the ring, Rick goes outside and hits a belly to belly suplex to Muta on the floor. Muta rolls back in, Scott grabs him, Irish whip, but Muta ducks the lariat and hits a backdrop suplex. Muta tags in Sting, Sting picks up Scott but Rick tags himself in. Kicks by Sting, Irish whip from the corner and he nails the Stinger Splash. Muta is tagged in, he goes for his cartwheel elbow strike but Rick catches him and hits a German suplex. Cover, but Sting breaks it up. Rick tags in Scott while Rick walks over to Sting to trade blows with him and all four men battle in the ring. Muta and Sting get the better of it and they hit a double face crusher onto Scott. Scott rolls out of the ring, Sting picks up Muta in a press slam and throws him at Rick, sending Rick and Muta out to the floor. Sting then gets on the top turnbuckle and sails out of the ring onto Rick. Scott runs over and hits Sting, but Muta flies out onto Scott with a pescado. Sting and Muta get back in looking happy, but behind them Scott and Rick both get on the same top turnbuckle and hit a shoulderblock on both wrestlers. While Rick hits a suplex onto Muta and covers afterwards, Sting rolls up Scott and since Sting and Scott are the legal men, the referee counts to three. Your winners: Great Muta and Sting
Match Thoughts: Should be noted that really, Muta and Scott were the legal men, but ah well. What do you expect from Bill Alfonso. I enjoyed the match, these are four of my favorite wrestlers from the early 90s so I wasn't going to not like it. Muta was the ragdoll here which I guess of these four was the natural choice, since Sting/Muta were the crowd favorites. I forget sometimes how awesome the Steiners were, from their agility on the top turnbuckle to the killer suplexes they are to me one of the most entertaining tag teams in wrestling history as I generally always enjoy their matches. The double team moves were fun and well done, the crowd loved it, and overall it was really fun to watch. Score: 7.5
(c) Lex Luger vs. Masahiro Chono
This match is for the WCW Heavyweight Championship.
They circle each other to start, tie-up, but they break cleanly. Tie-up again, side headlock by Luger, Chono Irish whips out of it but Luger shoulderblocks him down. Chono goes off the ropes but Luger hits a military press slam. Luger goes for a lariat but Chono ducks it and delivers a drop toehold. He goes for the STF but Luger quickly gets to the ropes to force a break. Back up they go into a Test of Strength which Luger gets the better of, but Chono kicks him back and tosses Luger to the mat. Tie-up, wristlock by Chono but Luger reverses it with a hammerlock. Takedown by Chono and he applies an armbar, but Luger elbows out of it. Irish whip by Luger, reversed, and Luger shoulderblocks him down. Luger goes off the ropes but Chono hits an armdrag. Chono goes for the arm again and elbows it before applying a wristlock. Luger pushes Chono back into the corner and headbutts him, he picks up Chono, Irish whip from the corner, reversed, and Luger knocks Chono to the mat. Elbow drop by Luger, cover, but it gets a two count. Single leg takedown by Chono and he applies a leg submission hold. Back up, Irish whip by Chono and he hits a back bodydrop. Armdrag by Chono and he applies an arm submission. Luger eventually gets out of it, Irish whip to the corner, but Chono avoids Luger's charge and armdrags him again to the mat. Armbar by Chono, but Luger rakes him in the eyes. Luger picks up Chono and elbows him in the back of the head. Luger pushes Chono into the corner, Irish whip, reversed, but Luger comes out with a lariat. Luger picks up Chono and drops him throat-first onto the top rope. Irish whip by Luger and he hits another lariat. Forearm drop by Luger, cover, but it gets a two count. Luger picks up Chono and delivers a vertical suplex, cover, but it gets another two. Chono fights back with punches and hits an enzigieri followed by a backdrop suplex. Chono goes off the ropes but Luger catches him with a powerslam. Luger picks up Chono and hits a DDT, he picks him up again and goes for the Torture Rack, but Chono reverses it with a backslide for a two count. Chono goes off the ropes and nails the Yakuza Kick, and he applies the STF. Luger crawls towards the ropes and eventually makes it, forcing a break. Chono goes off the ropes and hits a jumping forearm strike, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving shoulderblock. Chono charges Luger but Luger ducks and Chono goes flying out of the ring. Chono quickly rolls back in however and cradles Luger for a two count. Chono argues with the referee and Luger returns the favor, also getting a two count. Small package by Chono, but Luger gets a shoulder up. Headbutt by Chono, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but this time Luger avoids the diving shoulderblock. Luger picks up Chono and applies a Torture Rack, but Chono gets close to the ropes and dumps Luger tot he floor. Chono falls out as well, and Luger throws him into the guard rail. Luger picks up Chono and applies the Torture Rack on the floor, as the referee does the count from the apron. Luger gets back in the ring and Chono slowly follows him, Luger picks him up and goes for a suplex, but Chono lands on his feet. Luger quickly hits a low blow when the referee isn't looking, he then goes up to the second turnbuckle and drops a double forearm to the back of Chono's head. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Lex Luger
Match Thoughts: In official results the final move was called a "Double Punch," I find that to be silly so I didn't call it that. This was rough, this was Chono back when he was still pretty injury free and a very good wrestler, but Luger was not and since they weren't familiar with each other, they had to keep it as a very very simple match. Course it didn't help that since it was a title match we all knew the result, Luger was in the middle of a push in WCW and wasn't about to drop the title to someone that WCW fans didn't know. But yea, there wasn't a whole lot of substance here, and it was odd seeing a low blow lead to an ending in a title match in New Japan. I wouldn't call the match "bad," the crowd enjoyed it and I like seeing odd pairings face off which this would count as, but it was pretty run of the mill and never felt like an important championship bout. Score: 5.0
(c) Tatsumi Fujinami vs. (c) Riki Choshu
This match is for Fujinami's IWGP Heavyweight Championship and Choshu's
Greatest 18 Club Championship. Tie-up to start, Fujinami pushes Choshu into the ropes and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, side headlock by Fujinami, Choshu gets out of it but Fujinami armdrags him to the mat and applies a reverse chinlock. Fireman's carry takedown by Choshu, and both wrestlers are back up. They go into a Test of Strength, drop toehold by Choshu and he applies a reverse chinlock. Fujinami gets back to his feet but Choshu shoulderblocks him down. Snapmare by Choshu and he re-applies the reverse chinlock. Choshu pushes Fujinami into the ropes, Fujinami gets Choshu into the corner and he gives Choshu a slap to the chest before backing off. Side headlock by Fujinami, Choshu Irish whips out of it but Fujinami shoulderblocks him down and delivers a body slam. Fujinami picks up Choshu, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Choshu gets out of it with a backdrop suplex, Irish whip by Choshu and he knees Fujinami in the stomach. Choshu applies the Scorpion Deathlock but Fujinami is too close to the ropes and gets the break. Kicks by Choshu but Fujinami catches one and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Now it is Fujinami that applies the Scorpion Deathlock but Choshu gets to the ropes. Back up, kicks by Fujinami, Irish whip, and Fujinami delivers a dropkick. Choshu goes for a backdrop suplex but Fujinami lands on top of him. Fujinami goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving knee drop. Fujinami picks up Choshu and nails a piledriver, he picks up Choshu, snapmare, and he applies the Dragon Sleeper. Choshu inches to the ropes and makes it to force a break. Fujinami picks up Choshu and applies a sleeper hold back into the Dragon Sleeper, back up he applies a chinlock but Choshu kicks his way out of it. Fujinami applies the Octopus Hold, but Choshu gets out of it. Scoop slam by Fujinami, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Choshu recovers and joins him, delivering a superplex. Choshu goes off the ropes but Fujinami catches him with a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, waistlock by Fujinami and he rolls up Choshu for a two count. Fujinami grabs Choshu but Choshu snaps off a backdrop suplex. Choshu picks up Fujinami and hits another backdrop suplex, he waits for Fujinami to get up and hits a lariat. Fujinami stays up, but Choshu hits a lariat from behind. Fujinami is still woozy on his feet, Choshu goes off the ropes one last time and delivers a third lariat. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new IWGP Heavyweight Champion: Riki Choshu
Match Thoughts: One of the last of the old school main events... not that it was literally the last one but the next wave of stars (Mutoh, Chono, and Hashimoto) would soon take their place. Anyway this was a classic strong style match, with two wrestlers that are a bit long in the tooth but still able to wrestler their style. It just made the match a little shorter with more rest holds then one would hope for in a 12 minute match. The lariat wasn't overdone which is always a plus, as it lead to a quick ending at the end when Choshu connected with a few. The only real knock I have on the structure is just that Fujinami was made to look a bit weak as he did the moves that usually score him wins (diving knee drop, octopus hold, and a few Dragon Sleepers) but weren't particularly effective so it became clear Choshu was winning. But it wasn't bad and what you'd expect, but not as exciting as some of the other matches on the card. Score: 6.0
Best Match: Great Muta and Sting vs. Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner. To be honest, it didn't have a lot of competition, and it was just your typical entertaining Steiners in Japan match. Four great performers like these guys are bound to have a fun match, and there were a fair share of big moves, monster suplexes, and overall goodness. Not on the highest level in terms of overall caliber, but definitely worth watching for any fans of The Steiners.
MVP: Hiroyoshi Yamamoto. It is sad that the match I gave one of the best ratings to was the opener, but it really was a very solid opener. Usually in New Japan the young wrestlers just get beat down, allowed a few moves, then lose to a crab hold, but the future Hiroyoshi Tenzan was given a lot and the crowd really reacted. It was clear from this match that Tenzan was more then just your average dojo graduate, and he went on to have a great career in New Japan.
Overall: Not a good offering from New Japan. I generally like promotion vs. promotion matches, but these pairings were just awful. Hashimoto/Kazmaier? Chono/Luger? Vader/El Gigante? Norton/Halme? These were set up to not be good matches, and some were even worse then I feared. There are good wrestlers in these matches, but the way they were put together was setting them up for disaster. The main event is what you'd expect when you see Fujinami/Choshu in the 90s, and it wasn't a bad match, but nothing you need to go out of your way to see. Same with Inoki/Hase, perfectly fine wrestling, but not a match I'd recommend someone seek out. Disappointing outing from New Japan.
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review completed 3/17/10