InsidePulse Review of NOAH Dome Show – 7/18/05

NOAH Dome Show 7/18/05
The Date: July 18th, 2005
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 62,000

After reading the match line-up, I got this event as fast as I could. Not only did this show include the regular NOAH goodness, but it also had three “dream” matches. First, we have Tenryu against Ogawa. Tenryu is one of the most popular wrestlers in Japan and rarely wrestles in NOAH. Second, for the first time ever, Sasaki faced off against Kobashi in a match fans have been clamoring for since Sasaki turned into a freelancer. And finally, for the first time in five years, Misawa battled Kawada. Misawa vs. Kawada is perhaps the greatest feud in professional wrestling history, and I have no doubt they will not disappoint. If you want to purchase this event in unbelievable DVD quality, I would highly recommend www.IVPvideos.com. You can purchase the disks by clicking here. Anyway, here is the full card:


Takashi Sugiura, SUWA, and Masashi Aoyagi vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Mitsuo Momota, and Katsuhiko Nakajima
Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima vs. Tamon Honda and Go Shiosaki
Akira Taue, Sano, Jun Izumida, and Haruka Eigen vs. Akitoshi Saito, Koshinaka, Inoue, and Kawabata
Black Mask vs. Mushiking Terry
GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. KENTA
GHC Tag Team Title: Minoru Suzuki and Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama and Makoto Hashi
GHC Heavyweight Title: Takeshi Rikio vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kenta Kobashi
Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada

Oh, I forgot to mention that this is the debut of Mushiking Terry as well, so referring to this as a “stacked card” would be an understatement. I just hope the matches can live up to my expectations.

Takashi Sugiura, SUWA, and Masashi Aoyagi vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Mitsuo Momota, and Katsuhiko Nakajima
SUWA and Nakajima start things off. Nakajima starts the match fast as he goes for a spinning heel kick, but SUWA ducks it and kicks Nakajima in the stomach. Side headlock by SUWA is applied, Nakajima Irish whips out of it, but SUWA shoulderblocks him down. SUWA bounces off the ropes, Nakajima goes for a hiptoss, but SUWA reverses it into a hiptoss of his own. SUWA goes off the ropes again, but this time he is caught by a trio of kicks from Nakajima. Nakajima tags in Kikuchi, and the old guys (Momota and Kikuchi) go and knock Sugiura and Aoyagi off the apron while Nakajima continues kicking on SUWA. SUWA is thrown in the corner and gets triple teamed, ending with a backdrop by Momota and a diving elbow by Kikuchi. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Kikuchi hits a delayed side suplex on SUWA, cover, but SUWA kicks out. SUWA puts Kikuchi up on his shoulders and tosses him to the mat, giving him time to tag in Sugiura. The two trade forearm shots, Kikuchi gets the advantage and eventually knocks Sugiura down. Kikuchi tags in Momota, who kicks Sugiura in the corner. Chops by Momota in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, but Momota avoids the charge and gets a roll-up for two. DDT by Momota and he tags in Nakajima. Nakajima hits a series of stiff kicks, Sugiura takes the barrage for a moment, but a kick to the back of the head sends him to the mat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, Sugiura gets a shot in, but he gets taken down with a German suplex. Aoyagi breaks up the pin attempt though, and Sugiura makes the tag to him once he regains his composure. Kick to the chest by Aoyagi to Nakajima, cover, but it only gets a two count. More kicks by Aoyagi to a kneeling Nakajima and he tags in SUWA. Punches in the corner by SUWA, Irish whip, and he hits a flying shoulderblock. Fist drop by SUWA, he picks Nakajima up and gives him a scoop slam. SUWA tags in Sugiura and he wins a striking battle with Nakajima by using a boot to the head. Sugiura holds Nakajima for SUWA, who hits an elbow drop to the lower midsection. Sugiura holds Nakajima again, and this time it is Aoyagi who hits a kick to the midsection of Nakajima. Sugiura tags in Aoyagi, Irish whip, and he hits a series of stiff kicks to Nakajima’s chest. Cover, but Nakajima kicks out at two. Aoyagi goes for a spinning heel kick, but Nakajima ducks it and hits a spinning kick of his own. He tags in Momota, who hits a backdrop suplex on Aoyagi. Cover, but it gets two. Momota goes for a powerbomb, but Aoyagi reverses it and kicks him in the head. Momota tags in Kikuchi, Aoyagi goes to tag in someone, but no one will tag him so he goes after Kikuchi. Forearm shots by Kikuchi, but Aoyagi goes low and tags in SUWA. Kikuchi hits a quick German suplex on SUWA, but Sugiura breaks it up. Melee ensues, and in the ring Kikuchi gives SUWA the Fireball Bomb. Cover, but SUWA somehow kicks out. Aoyagi comes in to help, knocking Kikuchi down, but Momota comes in and gives Aoyagi a back suplex. This brings in Sugiura, who spears Momota, but Nakajima comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Irish whip by Nakajima on SUWA, and he hits a dropkick in the corner. Nakajima Irish whips SUWA over to Kikuchi, but SUWA hits a dropkick on Kikuchi. Nakajima charges SUWA next, but SUWA takes him down with a faceplant. SUWA goes back to Kikuchi and goes for the FFF, but Kikuchi back bodydrops out of it. Punches by Kikuchi, he bounces off the ropes, but SUWA floors him with a clothesline. SUWA picks up Kikuchi, nails the FFF, and gets the three count. Your winners: Takashi Sugiura, SUWA, and Masashi Aoyagi

Match Thoughts: Solid opening match. If you skimmed the play by play you will notice the high number of kicks, Nakajima and Aoyagi both have a background in martial arts, so even though it might seem like there were an excessive amount of strikes that is simply the style they wrestle in. This type of match is a smart way to open, for there is constantly something going on as to not bore the crowd early, but it isn’t “exciting” enough to steal heat from future matches. None of the wrestlers looked bad, even though I personally feel that it might be time for Momota to hang up his boots. Although as long as he is in matches like this, he never looks exposed. My biggest complaint is simply that I really like Sugiura and would have liked to see him in a match that he could have wrestled more. Naturally pyschology wasn’t an issue, but in six man tags it rarely is. A nice way to open up the event. Score: 5.8

Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima vs. Tamon Honda and Go Shiosaki
Yone has a ‘fro, which looks hilarious. Shiosaki attacks immediately with a dropkick on both his opponents, Irish whip on Morishima and he dropkicks him down. Morishima rolls out of the ring, and Shiosaki follows him out with a pescado. While Shiosaki throws Morishima back in the ring, Yone hits a vertical suplex on Honda on the outside. Back in, Shiosaki comes off the top with an attempted dropkick, but Morishima sees him coming and hits a clothesline as he is coming off the top. Irish whip by Morishima and he takes down Shiosaki. Cover, but it gets two. Kick to the chest by Morishima and he applies an abdominal stretch with a crossface. Morishima eventually tosses Shiosaki down and tags in Yone. After running over and knocking Honda off the apron, Yone picks up Shiosaki and hits a scoop slam. Honda by now is back on the apron, but Yone runs off the ropes and gives him a boot to the face, knocking him back off. Yone then drops a leg on Shiosaki, cover, but it only gets two. Neck crank by Yone and he applies a headscissors. Shiosaki rolls over and reaches the ropes however, and Yone tags in Morishima. Irish whip by Morishima and he hits a knee to the gut. Morishima then goes off the ropes and hits a rough clothesline, while Yone runs over and knocks Honda off the apron again. Morishima tosses Shiosaki into the corner and Yone charges him, but Shiosaki avoids Yone and then hits a backdrop suplex on Morishima. Shiosaki tags in Honda, Honda tries to lock in the Rolling Olympic Hell 0 on both his opponents, but they toss him off. Undeterred, Honda fires back with a variety of strikes and hits a high backdrop suplex on Morishima. Yone then gets one as well, and Honda applies the Rolling Olympic Hell V on Morishima. Yone recovers in time to save Morishima, but Honda tosses him from the ring. Honda goes for the Dead End on Morishima, but Morishima quickly grabs the top rope. This doesn’t work however, as Honda shakes him off and hits the Dead End anyway. Honda tags in Shiosaki, who comes off the top with a missile dropkick on Morishima. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Shiosaki picks up Morishima, Irish whip, and he hits a flying forearm shot. Shiosaki goes for a German suplex, but Morishima shakes him off. Determined to hit the move, Shiosaki hits Morishima with another flying forearm shot followed by a stiff savate kick. Now, he is able to deliver a beast German suplex, but Morishima manages to kick out. Shiosaki gives Morishima a quick scoop slam, goes up top, but Morishima rolls out of the way of the moonsault. This gives Morishima time to tag in Yone, who immediately dropkicks Honda off the apron and hits a running boot to Shiosaki in the corner. Irish whip by Yone, and he hits a running jumping knee strike in the opposite corner. Scoop slam by Yone and he hits a leg drop from the second rope. Cover, but it gets a two count. Shiosaki tries to fight back and gets Yone in the Oklahoma Roll for a two count. Shiosaki gives Yone a scoop slam, goes up top again, and nails the moonsault. Cover, but Morishima breaks it up. Honda runs in, but Morishima gets him down with a backdrop suplex. Shiosaki tries to attack Morishima as well, but gets a Scrap Buster for his trouble. Yone delivers a stiff clothesline to Shiosaki, cover, but it only gets a two count. Morishima comes back in and puts Shiosaki on his shoulders, and Yone comes off the top with a spinning heel kick. Cover, but Honda breaks it up. Morishima takes care of Honda, giving Yone time to nail the Muscle Buster. Cover, and he gets the three count pinfall. Your winners: Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima

Match Thoughts: I am not sure why exactly, but I thoroughly enjoyed this match. The fourth time that Yone kicked Honda off the apron I couldn’t help but laugh, as he seemed more focused on getting cheap shots on Honda then anything else. All four of these men are talented wrestlers, and Shiosaki is a great young talent. The wrestlers hit most of their big moves in the match and worked very well together, with a variety of creative spots throughout the match. Again, no real ring psychology to speak of and too short to be a must-see, but a good match nonetheless. Score: 6.7

Akira Taue, Sano, Jun Izumida, and Eigen vs. Akitoshi Saito, Koshinaka, Masao Inoue, and Kawabata
Taue and Koshinaka start things off. Tie-up, but they break cleanly. Side headlock by Koshinaka, Taue Irish whips out of it, and the two collide with neither budging. Koshinaka goes off the ropes, but Taue catches him with a boot to the head. Irish whip by Taue, and he hits a butt smash in the corner. Taue tries to slam Koshinaka into the turnbuckle, but Koshinaka blocks it and hits a hip attack. Another hip attack by Koshinaka and he tags in Saito. Saito hits a hip attack of his own and tags in Inoue. Hip attack by Inoue and he tags in Kawabata, but Taue moves when Kawabata tries to hit him with a hip attack. Knee to the head by Taue and he tags in Eigen. Kick to the chest by Eigen and he works over Kawabata in the corner. Izumida is tagged in, and he chokes Kawabata in the corner. Irish whip by Izumida and he hits a running boot. Cover, but Kawabata kicks out. Izumida tags in Sano, but Kawabata knocks Sano back into his own corner and tags in Saito. Irish whip by Saito, but a shoulderblock doesn’t effect Sano. Another shoulderblock has the same effect, then Sano tries one, but Saito doesn’t budge. Elbow strikes by Saito, Sano punches back, Irish whip by Saito and he kicks Sano in the stomach. Delayed vertical suplex by Saito, cover, but Sano kicks out. Irish whip by Saito from the corner, and Koshinaka (who has entered the ring) meets Sano with a hip attack. Cover by Saito, but the referee is too busy to make the count. Saito tags in Inoue, he picks Sano up, but Sano fights back and tags in Eigen. Headbutt by Eigen, and he chops Inoue while he lays against the ropes. Eye rake by Inoue, but Eigen tags in Izumida. Izumida goes for an arm wrench, but Inoue reverses it and tags in Kawabata. Kicks in the corner by Kawabata, upper cut, but Izumida regains the advantage and tags in Taue. Taue hits a windmill chop in the corner, followed by a DDT. Cover, but it only gets two. Taue tags in Sano, who knocks down Kawabata with a variety of kicks. Sano applies a leg submission, but Kawabata reaches the ropes. More kicks by Sano, cover, but it only gets a two count. Sano tags in Eigen, chops by Eigen in the corner, Irish whip, but Kawabata avoids the charge and rolls him up for two. Eigen tags in Taue, who clubs Kawabata in the back. Big boot by Taue and he clotheslines Kawabata to the mat. Cover, but Kawabata kicks out. Irish whip by Taue from the corner, but Kawabata blocks his charge and hits a clothesline. This gives him time to tag in Saito, he covers, but Taue kicks out. Irish whip by Saito and Inoue, and they set-up Taue so that Koshinaka can hit a hip attack. Kawabata hits a senton, cover by Saito, but Sano breaks it up. Izumida comes in as well and Irish whips Saito into the corner. He eventually follows with a clothesline, Taue goes for the chokeslam, but Saito elbows him in the head to get out of it. Eigen runs over, Saito gives him a chop, but Eigen spits in his eye (long story). Big boot by Taue on Saito, and Sano comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Cover, but Saito kicks out. Irish whip by Sano to the corner, Saito kicks him when he charges, but Sano snapmares him down and hits a double stomp off the second rope. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Back up, the two trade blows, but Saito knocks Sano down with a spinning heel kick. Saito tags in Koshinaka, but Sano hits him with a thrust kick. Irish whip by Sano, but Koshinaka grabs the ropes and hits a…. hip attack. Sano counters with a backdrop suplex and tags in Izumida. Clothesline by Izumida in the corner and he hits a headbutt. Cover, but Koshinaka quickly kicks out. More headbutts by Izumida, he bounces off the ropes, but Koshinaka greets him with, of course, a hip attack. Koshinaka tags in Inoue, Irish whip from the corner, and he hits a running clothesline. Inoue goes for a side Russian leg sweep, but Izumida reverses it and throws him down. Cover, but Kawabata breaks it up. Melee ensues, with Taue hitting a chokeslam on Inoue. Sano then hits a double stomp from the top, Izumida covers him, but it gets broken up. Izumida Irish whips Kawabata into the corner and follows up with a clothesline. Inoue has recovered by now, so Izumida goes back to him, but Kawabata catches him in the back with a clothesline. This sends Izumida into Inoue, who rolls him up for the three count victory. Your winners: Akitoshi Saito, Shiro Koshinaka, Masao Inoue, and Kishin Kawabata

Match Thoughts: Not every match can be a winner. I can’t remember the last time I saw a high quality non-elimination eight man match, since they tend to be disjointed clusters, but this one was pretty rough even by eight man match standards. There really was zero rhyme or reason to anything that happened, they would just switch out every 30 seconds until it was time to go to the finish. And I realize that somehow Koshinaka is popular, but his hip attack-only arsenal really gets on my nerves. Score: 4.0

Black Mask vs. Mushiking Terry
This is Mushiking Terry’s debut match in NOAH. A fop does Terry’s introduction for him and accompanies him to ringside, and Black Mask has an evil sorcerer looking guy as his escort. Classic good versus evil. Kids look happy. Tie-up to start things, Black Mask delivers a series of forearm shots, but Terry absorbs the blows and tosses Black Mask down with a spinning headscissors. Terry goes off the ropes again and this time rolls over Black Mask’s back and hits an armdrag. Terry charges again, but Black Mask sees him coming and flips him out to the apron. Black Mask goes off the far ropes towards Terry, but Terry ducks and Black Mask goes sailing out of the ring. Re-entering the ring, Terry jumps up to the top turnbuckle and jumps down outside the ring onto Black Mask. Terry gets back in the ring first, but Black Mask soon follows him. Snapmare by Terry, cover, but it doesn’t even get one. Terry applies a reverse chinlock, Black Mask gets out of it, Irish whip by Terry from the corner, reversed, Terry flips himself out to the apron and goes for a shoulder tackle through the ropes, but Black Mask bounces off the side rope and hits a guillotine legdrop. Cover by Black Mask, but Terry kicks out. Irish whip by Black Mask and he delivers a drop toehold. Elbow drop by Black Mask, cover, but it gets a two count. Up again, Irish whip by Black Mask, reversed, but Terry misses a crossbody. Black Mask flips himself out to the apron and comes back in the ring with a springboard senton. Cover, but it only gets a two count. A chinlock by Black Mask is applied, cover, but Terry kicks out at two. Black Mask then applies an Octopus Hold, and reverts it into a submission on the ground. Cover by Black Mask, but again it only gets two. Irish whip by Black Mask, but Terry grabs a hold of the top rope and hits a headscissors on Black Mask. Lucha moveset 6 follows, ending with a spinning thrust kick by Terry to the chest of Black Mask. Irish whip by Terry in the corner, Black Mask avoids the charge, but Terry rolls over his back and armdrags him to the mat. Terry goes off the ropes and hits a hurricanrana, but Black Mask kicks out. Terry goes off the ropes, but Black Mask catches him in a Crippler Crossface. Terry slowly edges to the ropes and finally makes it. Black Mask picks Terry up and goes for a suplex, Terry reverses it into an attempted suplex of his own, but Black Mask lands on his feet and hits a spinning heel kick. Terry rolls out of the ring, Black Mask goes to the top turnbuckle, but Terry gets back up to the apron in time and joins Black Mask up top. Terry tries to push Black Mask off, but Black Mask grabs him and hits a swinging neckbreaker down into the ring. Black Mask goes up top again and hits a tope, cover, but Terry barely kicks out. Michinoku Driver by Black Mask, cover, but again Terry barely kicks out. Black Mask goes for another one, but Terry reverses it into a roll-up for a two count. Back up, Terry ducks a clothesline and dropkicks Black Mask to the mat. Terry bounces off the far ropes as Black Mask gets up and hits a 619 to Black Mask’s stomach. Victory roll by Terry to get back in the ring from the apron, he picks Black Mask up, and hits the Tiger Suplex ’04 for the three count fall. Your winner: Mushiking Terry

Match Thoughts: A fun and flippy little match. Mushiking Terry is Tiger Emperor, aka Kotaro Suzuki. I have heard rumblings that Black Mask was Ricky Marvin, but I can not confirm that. Some might think of this as poor man’s lucha libre, and while I can see where they are coming from, it wasn’t too bad in that regard. They did use a good number of unnecessary flips, but since the match seemed more like an exhibition then a match it came off fine. And the children were happy that the good guy won, and what is more important then making children happy? Score: 6.3

(c) Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. KENTA
This match is for the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Bell rings, and KENTA immediately gives Kanemaru a boot to the face. Kanemaru fires back with forearm shots, and KENTA replies to that with a series of stiff slaps. Kanemaru goes off the ropes, ducks a boot to the face, and knocks down KENTA with a boot of his own. Irish whip by Kanemaru, but KENTA kicks him in the face and both men roll to their neutral corner to recover. Now that is how you start a match. Both men slowly get back to their feet, tie-up, KENTA gets Kanemaru into the ropes, goes for a spinning kick instead of a clean break, but Kanemaru side steps it. Tie-up again, arm wrench by Kanemaru, KENTA reverses it, hammerlock by Kanemaru, KENTA gets out of it with a drop toehold, Kanemaru tries to roll out of it but KENTA locks in a headscissors, but Kanemaru finally gets free and both men are back to their feet. Single leg takedown by Kanemaru and he applies a leg submission. KENTA applies a chinlock, Kanemaru releases the leg in order to get out of it, he pushes KENTA in to the corner and knees him in the stomach. Irish whip, reversed, Kanemaru springboards off the second ropes with an attempted crossbody but KENTA moves out of the way. Kanemaru begins selling the arm that he landed on, and KENTA capitalizes by stomping on it repeatedly. Kick to the back by KENTA, he picks Kanemaru up and tosses him from the ring. KENTA joins him outside and throws him shoulder-first into the ring post. More stomps by KENTA and he tosses Kanemaru back in the ring. Cover, but it only gets a two count. An arm submission is applied by KENTA, but Kanemaru pushes him into the corner. Irish whip by KENTA from the corner, reversed, but KENTA elbows Kanemaru in the head when he charges and hits a hurricanrana from the second rope. Armdrag takedown by KENTA and he applies a key lock. Back up, kick to the shoulder by KENTA, Irish whip, but Kanemaru clutches his arm and collapses before he reaches the far ropes. The referee tries to check on Kanemaru, but KENTA continues kicking him in the arm. KENTA kicks Kanemaru into the corner and hits a series of kicks to the chest, but Kanemaru absorbs the blows and fires back with a forearm shot. Kanemaru bounces off the ropes, but KENTA catches him with an armdrag and re-applies the key lock. KENTA goes for a suplex, but when Kanemaru blocks it he applies an armbar instead. Kanemaru gets to the ropes, KENTA releases the hold and tosses Kanemaru into the corner. KENTA puts Kanemaru up on the top turnbuckle and goes for a superplex, Kanemaru knocks him off, but KENTA quickly gets back up and goes back up top. Kanemaru manages to block the superplex attempt again, however, and DDTs KENTA from the top turnbuckle down to the mat. KENTA rolls out of the ring, while Kanemaru stays in the ring holding his arm. Kanemaru eventually goes after him and hits a diving DDT from the apron to the standing KENTA. Kanemaru rolls back in the ring, and KENTA eventually recovers enough to follow him back in. Snapmare by Kanemaru and he applies a headscissors. KENTA rolls to the ropes and then out of the ring. Kanemaru goes out as well and hits a leg drop while KENTA is draped over the guardrail. Kanemaru slides back in the ring as KENTA slowly crawls back in the ring. Kanemaru grabs him as soon as he does, Irish whip, and he applies a sleeperhold. KENTA eventually gets his foot to the ropes, Kanemaru puts him in the tree of woe and hits a running dropkick to his face. Cover by Kanemaru, but it only gets a two count. The camel clutch is applied by Kanemaru, KENTA slowly gets to his feet and hits a back suplex. KENTA charges Kanemaru, Kanemaru kicks him away and goes to the second turnbuckle, but when he jumps off he is kicked in the arm by KENTA. Again KENTA charges, Kanemaru knocks him back with a kick, but KENTA delivers a powerslam when Kanemaru comes at him. On their feet, KENTA hits a flurry of kicks and then a big boot in the corner. KENTA slingshots himself to the apron and comes flying back into the ring with a springboard missile dropkick. Cover, but Kanemaru kicks out. More kicks by KENTA, Kanemaru tries acting badass by not selling them, but KENTA knocks him to the mat with a boot to the face. KENTA picks Kanemaru up, Kanemaru tries to sneak in a suplex, but KENTA lands on his feet. Back kick by KENTA, he goes up top and goes for a hurricanrana, but Kanemaru catches him with a powerbomb for two. Now it is Kanemaru that goes up top, frog splash, cover, but KENTA kicks out. Kanemaru goes back up top as KENTA struggles to his feet, hits his Deep Impact (diving DDT off the top rope), cover, but it only gets two. Kanemaru goes up a third time and goes for a moonsault, but KENTA rolls out of the way. KENTA gets up first and hits a quick Fisherman’s Buster. Both men are slow to get up, but KENTA recovers first and hits a German suplex for two. Scoop slam by KENTA and he knees Kanemaru in the head. KENTA goes to the top turnbuckle and jumps off, but Kanemaru gets a boot up. Kanemaru goes to the top rope, but when he dives off, KENTA catches him on his shoulders and goes for the Go 2 Sleep. Kanemaru slides off his shoulders, but KENTA still manages to nail a Tiger Suplex for a two count. Strike combination by KENTA, but when he bounces off the ropes he is dropkicked in the knee. Brainbuster by Kanemaru, but KENTA jumps right back up and nails a Busaiku Knee Kick. Both men are now laid out, but KENTA is up first. KENTA picks up Kanemaru, the two trade shots, KENTA goes for a suplex twice, but Kanemaru reverses it into a brainbuster. Cover, but KENTA barely kicks out. Scoop slam by Kanemaru, he nails a moonsault, cover, but again it gets two. Another brainbuster by Kanemaru, cover, but KENTA won’t stay down. Kanemaru puts KENTA up on the top turnbuckle and goes for a superplex, but KENTA reverses it with a spinning avalanche-style Fisherman’s Buster. Cover by KENTA, but Kanemaru kicks out. Powerbomb by KENTA into the corner turnbuckle, he tosses Kanemaru over his shoulder, he picks up Kanemaru and hits a sit-down powerbomb, cover, but it gets a two count. KENTA begins his strike combination, but Kanemaru avoids him when he charges for the knee kick and rolls him up for two. Both men get back to their feet, KENTA bounces off the far ropes and hits a Busaiku Knee Kick. Kanemaru gets right back up however, KENTA hits him with a jumping high kick, cover, but Kanemaru kicks out. KENTA picks up Kanemaru, puts him on his shoulders, and hits Kanemaru with the Go 2 Sleeeeeeeeep! Cover, but Kanemaru refuses to be pinned. KENTA gets Kanemaru back on his feet, hits a back chop/high kick combination, bounces off the side ropes, and delivers one final Busaiku Knee Kick. Cover, and KENTA gets the much deserved three count fall! Your winner and new champion: KENTA

Match Thoughts: That was one of the best junior heavyweight matches I have seen in a long time. From the opening bell to the hot three minutes to end the match, these two put on an amazing show that had the crowd roaring throughout. Both wrestlers had you convinced that they were going to win the match by showing tons of emotion and intensity. The arm work by KENTA to begin the match was very well done, and the DDTs on the outside and from the top rope by Kanemaru were just sick. While they had stopped selling their arm and neck respectively by the last three minutes of the match, it would be nitpicking to hold that against them. Similar to the famous Pegasus/Sasuke encounter, emotion, intensity, and nearly flawless execution can overcome minor flaws in any match. Just an awesome match, and a must see for fans of the puroresu junior heavyweight wrestling style. Score: 8.6

(c) Minoru Suzuki and Naomichi Marufuji vs. Jun Akiyama and Makoto Hashi
This match is for the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Marufuji and Hashi start things off. As soon as the bell rings, Hashi charges Marufuji and clotheslines him to the mat. Hashi hits Suzuki as well, but when he turns around he is caught in an Irish whip by Marufuji. Hashi reverses the Irish whip though and immediately goes for his Goriman’s Driver, but Marufuji gets out of it and dropkicks him in the knee. Dropkick to the head by Marufuji, Hashi fires back and goes for a German suplex, but Marufuji lands on his feet and hits a dropkick. Marufuji charges Hashi, but Hashi back bodydrops him out to the apron. Marufuji lands on his feet though, but Hashi hits a vicious clothesline and knocks Marufuji to the outside. Hashi then ascends the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt all the way down to the floor. After tossing Marufuji back in the ring, cover by Hashi, but it only gets two. Hashi tags in Akiyama, and he tells Marufuji to tag in Suzuki. They tease a tie-up, Akiyama goes for a single-leg, Suzuki grabs him, Akiyama gets Suzuki into the ropes and gives a clean break. Kick to the stomach by Suzuki, he gets Akiyama into the ropes and slaps him in the face. Back in the center of the ring, punches by Akiyama, he gets Suzuki against the ropes and knees him in the stomach. Akiyama goes for an Irish whip, but Suzuki grabs a hold of the ropes and switches positions with Akiyama. Chops to the chest by Suzuki, now he goes for an Irish whip, but Akiyama grabs the ropes and Suzuki releases his hold. Tie-up, kick by Suzuki and he applies a hammerlock. Suzuki tags in Marufuji, who kicks Akiyama in the corner. Chops by Marufuji, but Akiyama slowly comes out of the corner, showing that the chops have no effect on him. Marufuji tries forearm shots as well, but when he bounces off the ropes he gets a boot to the face. Akiyama tags Hashi back in, Irish whip by Hashi and he hits a rough chop. Cover, but Marufuji kicks out. Chop by Hashi and he gets Marufuji in the corner. After a series of Mongolian chops and stomps, Hashi picks up Marufuji and chops him again. Marufuji returns with a spinning heel kick and goes to tag in his partner Suzuki, but Hashi goes after Suzuki and they fight outside the ring. Hashi knocks Suzuki down with a pair of headbutts, but when he gets back on the apron, Marufuji jumps over him from inside the ring and attempts to powerbomb him down to the floor. Hashi hangs onto the top rope momentarily, but Suzuki gets back in the ring and kicks his hands loose, sending Hashi hard to the floor. Marufuji and Suzuki then go after Akiyama, dragging him to halfway up the ramp. Akiyama fights back against both men, but Suzuki hits a DDT on the ramp. Marufuji return to the ring (leaving Akiyama behind), and Hashi slowly crawls back in as he recovers from the powerbomb. Marufuji covers him, but Hashi kicks out. Elbow to the head by Marufuji and he tags in Suzuki. Knee to the stomach by Suzuki and he kicks Hashi hard in the back. Cocky cover, and Hashi kicks out. Suzuki rips on the bandages on Hashi’s head and applies a camel clutch. Marufuji then enters the ring, bounces off the ropes, and dropkicks Hashi in the face. Kicks by Suzuki on the downed Hashi, Hashi hits a series of slaps to Suzuki’s face, but Suzuki returns with vicious slaps of his own which knocks Hashi back down. Hashi doesn’t stay down however, strikes by Suzuki and he knees Hashi in the stomach. Suzuki tags in Marufuji, and they kick Hashi in the chest while he is draped over the second rope. Hashi is kicked back into the ring, cover, but it only gets a two count. Marufuji goes for a modified sleeper and locks it in. Hashi rakes Marufuji’s eyes to get out of it, cover but Marufuji, but it gets two. Hashi punches both Marufuji and Suzuki in an attempt to get back to his corner, but he is knocked back down and Marufuji tags in Suzuki. Kicks by Suzuki in the corner and he tosses Hashi in the middle of the ring. The two trade slaps again, but Suzuki gets the better of it and slaps down in the corner. Dropkick by Suzuki and he puts Hashi in the tree of woe in his corner and tags in Marufuji. Marufuji enters the ring with a double springboard dropkick to Hashi. Marufuji takes Hashi off the corner and scoop slams him in the middle of the ring. Marufuji goes up top and nails a frog splash, cover, but it only gets a two count. Suplex attempt by Marufuji, but Hashi blocks it and hits a brainbuster. Hashi fights off Marufuji and tags in Akiyama. Irish whip by Akiyama, Suzuki hits Akiyama from the apron, but Akiyama turns around and knocks him to the floor. Marufuji charges Akiyama, but Akiyama back bodydrops Marufuji over the top rope down onto Suzuki. Marufuji gets back up on the apron, Akiyama tries to suplex him back in, but Marufuji lands on his feet. A spinning kick attempt by Marufuji is avoided, Akiyama goes for a back suplex, but again Marufuji lands on his feet and dropkicks Akiyama in the knee. Another dropkick, and Marufuji tags in Suzuki. Knee strike by Akiyama, and the two engage in perhaps the stiffest slap contest I have ever seen. Knee to the stomach by Akiyama and he goes for an exploder, but Suzuki gets out of it. Another slap by Akiyama, Suzuki returns fire, but Akiyama tags in Hashi. Headbutt by Hashi to Suzuki and he hits a series of chops. Suzuki roars back with a straight punch to the stomach and kicks Hashi hard in the chest. Hashi eventually catches Suzuki’s leg and goes for a suplex, but Suzuki reverses it into an Octopus Hold. Akiyama eventually breaks it up, and Hashi hits an enzigieri. Hashi tags in Akiyama as Suzuki tags in Marufuji, and Marufuji greets Akiyama with a dropkick. Elbow strike by Marufuji in the corner, but Akiyama comes back with a big back bodydrop. Powerbomb by Akiyama, cover, but Marufuji kicks out. Akiyama applies a grounded front facelock, but Suzuki runs in and breaks it up. Hashi comes in to headbutt Suzuki, tosses him through the ropes, and hits a reverse DDT on the apron. In the ring, Marufuji puts Akiyama on the top turnbuckle and goes for a hurricanrana, Akiyama tosses him off, but when he comes off the top he is caught with a dropkick. Marufuji goes for his Shiranui, Akiyama throws Marufuji off, Marufuji goes for a roll-up, but Akiyama rolls through and hits a running knee to the face. Exploder by Akiyama, Hashi comes off the top with a diving headbutt, cover, but Hashi is not legal man. Akiyama comes back in, grabs Marufuji, and tags in Hashi. Scoop slam by Akiyama on Marufuji, Hashi hits another diving headbutt, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hashi to the corner and he hits a corner kneel kick. Gory Thunder by Hashi, cover, but Suzuki breaks it up. Hashi gets pumped, hits a clothesline, and nails a sit-down fisherman’s brainbuster. Cover, but Marufuji barely kicks out. Hashi picks Marufuji back up and puts him on the top turnbuckle. Back suplex attempt by Hashi from the top, but Marufuji lands on his feet and hits an overhead kick. Shiranui by Marufuji, but he is too hurt to cover. Marufuji finally gets back up, puts Hashi on the top turnbuckle and joins him up there but Akiyama comes back in and back suplexes Marufuji from the top turnbuckle to the mat. Hashi then comes off the top with a diving headbutt, cover, but Suzuki breaks it up. Akiyama and Suzuki trade slaps, Suzuki applies a sleeperhold to Akiyama, but Hashi frees him. Akiyama kicks Marufuji in the head, but Marufuji hits a savate kick and nails a Shiranui by running up Suzuki’s body. Hashi tries to fight off both men, but he is overwhelmed. Simultaneous slap/savate kick by Marufuji and Suzuki, and Suzuki hits a cradle piledriver. Marufuji comes off the top with a dropkick to the head, cover, but Akiyama barely breaks it up. They get rid of Akiyama, and Suzuki puts Hashi up on the top turnbuckle. Marufuji then climbs up top, and while Suzuki holds back Akiyama, Marufuji hits an avalanche-style Shiranui. Cover by Marufuji, and he gets the three count. Your winners and still champions: Minoru Suzuki and Naomichi Marufuji

Match Thoughts: A great tag team match, with a lot of hard hitting and exciting action. Hashi was the man in this match, taking a king-sized beating but still fighting back and making the match extremely competitive. Again, as has been the theme, the wrestling was very crisp and fluid. There were a few minor miscommunications spread throughout the match, but nothing terrible or too noticeable. The only problem with the match is there was virtually no focusing on a body part by the dominating team, although I guess a general beating is about the same thing. Overall a very entertaining encounter. Score: 7.7

(c) Takeshi Rikio vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match is for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, waistlock by Tanahashi, reversed into an arm wrench by Rikio, Tanahashi reverses that, but Rikio applies a hammerlock. Tanahashi gets out of it however and the two men face off again. Tie-up, arm wrench by Tanahashi, reversed by Rikio, Rikio pushes Tanahashi into the corner, Tanahashi reverses positions with Rikio though and slaps him in the face. Tie-up again, kick by Rikio and he pounds Tanahashi in the face. Tanahashi fires back, Irish whip by Rikio, and he shoulderblocks Tanahashi to the mat. Irish whip by Rikio, Tanahashi goes for a flying crossbody, Rikio catches him, but Tanahashi falls on him and both men get back up quickly. Tie-up, Rikio pushes Tanahashi into the ropes, Tanahashi reverses positions with him and kicks him in the stomach. Forearms shots by Tanahashi, Rikio punches back, Irish whip, and Rikio hits a spinning elbow. Cover, but it gets a two count. Side headlock by Rikio is applied, Tanahashi struggles to his feet, he reverses it into a hammerlock, he then puts on a side headlock, but Rikio gets Tanahashi into the corner and kicks him in the chest. Punches by Rikio in the corner, Irish whip, but Tanahashi kicks him when he charges. Tanahashi runs at Rikio, but Rikio applies a bearhug. Quick roll-up by Tanahashi, but Rikio kicks out of it and clotheslines him down. Rikio tosses Tanahashi from the ring, follows him out, but Tanahashi greets him with punches. Tanahashi knocks back Rikio and rolls back in the ring, Rikio gets on the apron, but Tanahashi dropkicks him out. Rikio rolls back in anyway, Irish whip by Tanahashi, reversed, but Tanahashi hits a flying forearm shot. Elbow drop by Tanahashi followed by a senton, cover, but it gets a two count. Tanahashi picks Rikio up and applies a full nelson, then puts on a sleeper. He goes for the Dragon Sleeper, but Rikio quickly grabs the ropes. Irish whip by Tanahashi, he goes for a sleeper again, but Rikio reverses it with a back bodydrop. Tanahashi bounces right back up, but Rikio shoulderblocks him down. Slap by Rikio, and he applies a sleeper of his own. Rikio then applies Tanahashi’s Dragon Sleeper. Tanahashi edges to the ropes and grabs them, breaking the hold. Irish whip by Rikio from the corner and he hits a running clothesline. Another Irish whip, and again he hits a clothesline. Rikio goes up top and hits a flying crossbody, cover, but it only gets two. Vertical suplex by Rikio, cover, but Tanahashi kicks out. Rikio goes for a powerbomb, but Tanahashi goes to his knees to block it. After a club to the back, Rikio manages to get Tanahashi up and powerbombs him in the corner. The referee checks on Tanahashi, but Rikio gets tired of waiting and picks him up. Rikio puts Tanahashi on the top turnbuckle and goes for a suplex, Tanahashi fights him off, and Tanahashi hits a twisting bodypress from the top. Dropkick by Tanahashi, Rikio goes out of the ring, and Tanahashi follows him out with an ugly tope suicida (and by ugly, I mean it looks like he killed himself). Not happy with the first one, Tanahashi goes for a second tope, but his leg hits the ropes and he barely reaches Rikio. Tanahashi goes in the ring and goes a third tope suicida, and this one is more like the first in that he overshot Rikio, landing mostly on the guardrail. Tanahashi gets up first and tosses Rikio back in the ring. Tanahashi goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, picks Rikio up and delivers three rolling German suplexes, the third of which gets a two count. Tanahashi goes for the Dragon Suplex, Rikio elbows out of it, but Tanahashi applies the Dragon Sleeper instead. Rikio eventually squirms to the ropes and Tanahashi breaks the hold. The two trade shots back on their feet, Tanahashi misses a high kick, but rolls up Rikio for a two count. Tanahashi goes off the ropes, but Rikio catches him. They struggle for position, Rikio gets Tanahashi up on his shoulders, but Tanahashi goes down his back. Slaps by Tanahashi and he nails the Sling Blade. Cover, but Rikio kicks out. Tanahashi goes off the ropes, but Rikio takes his head off with a clothesline. Back up the two trade strikes, but Rikio gets the better of it with a series of stiff slaps. Powerbomb by Rikio, cover, but it only gets a two count. Rikio goes for the Muso, but Tanahashi reverses it into a roll-up for two. Rikio hits a charging headbutt on Tanahashi and slaps him more in the corner. Clothesline by Rikio back in the middle of the ring, cover, but Tanahashi kicks out. Rikio picks Tanahashi back up, nails the Muso, and gets the three count pinfall. Your winner and still champion: Takeshi Rikio

Match Thoughts: Certainly not a bad match, although it will be overshadowed by a few matches to come. Tanahashi is one of my favorite young Japanese wrestlers, but even I don’t see the sense of doing three straight tope suicidas when there obviously was either not enough room to do the move or he was having difficulty hitting it right. I am surprised he was still able to walk. Rikio hit the Muso a lot better then I have seen him hit it in the past, making it look like a much more legitimate finish. I know slapping has been the theme today, but it would seem that someone the size of Rikio wouldn’t be bitch slapping the hell out of Tanahashi constantly, but rather punching him in the face. Course, you shouldn’t use logic with wrestling, I know that. A fine match that wasn’t without its problems, but was entertaining nonetheless. Score: 6.3

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoshinari Ogawa
Ogawa asks for a handshake, but Tenryu will have none of it. Kick to the gut by Ogawa, Tenryu returns with chops, Ogawa tries to fight back, but is no match for Tenryu. Irish whip by Tenryu, and he chops Ogawa down hard. Irish whip by Tenryu and he hits a clothesline. Ogawa rolls out of the ring, while Tenryu waits on the inside. Tenryu gets tired of waiting and comes out, and Ogawa quickly slides back in. Tenryu joins him, arm wrench by Ogawa, reversed by Tenryu, Ogawa flips around for a bit and reverses it into an armbar. Tenryu pokes Ogawa in the eyes , hits a chop, slaps on a side headlock, Ogawa Irish whips out of it, but Tenryu shoulderblocks him down. Ogawa quickly dropkicks Tenryu in the knee and slams his leg into the ring post. Ogawa applies a modified figure four around the goal post, but has to release it due to the referee yelling at him. Ogawa grabs the steps and puts them against the ring so he can walk up into the ring instead of sliding between the ropes. Classy. Punches by Ogawa to the down Tenryu and he works his leg over in the corner. Tenryu rakes his face to get Ogawa to release the hold, but Ogawa continues striking him in his injured leg. Ogawa charges, but Tenryu hits him with a chop and works him over in the corner. Irish whip, Tenryu goes for a clothesline, but Ogawa kicks him as he is charging in. After another kick to the head, Ogawa rams Tenryu’s head into the turnbuckle and then charges him across the ring to the other turnbuckle. Ogawa ducks a chop attempt by Tenryu and nails a DDT. Ogawa applies a submission hold, but Tenryu reaches the ropes. Tenryu chops Ogawa once he gets up and hits an enzigieri. Now it is Tenryu that stretches Ogawa, but Ogawa reaches the ropes. Tenryu doesn’t release it though and pulls him back in the middle of the ring. Ogawa makes it to the ropes a second time, but again he is pulled back. Finally Tenryu releases the hold and kicks Ogawa in the head. Another kick to the head by Tenryu and he re-applies the stretch submission. Ogawa gets to the ropes and Tenryu kicks him out to the apron. Ogawa slowly gets up, pokes Tenryu in the eyes and headscissors him over the top rope down to the floor. Tenryu tumbles all the way over the guardrail while Ogawa goes to get a table. Ogawa places the table against the apron and drags over Tenryu for a back suplex, but Tenryu doesn’t budge and throws Ogawa into the table. Tenryu tosses Ogawa back in the ring and kicks him around some more. Irish whip by Tenryu, he hits a clothesline, cover, but Ogawa kicks out at two. Tenryu suplexes Ogawa, another cover, but another two. Tenryu goes for a powerbomb, but Ogawa reverses it and hits an enzigieri. After slamming Tenryu into the turnbuckle, Ogawa hits a backdrop suplex. Ogawa kicks Tenryu in the head the same way that Tenryu had done to him, hits a backdrop suplex hold, but Tenryu kicks out. Tenryu hits a chop, Ogawa tries to hit back, but Tenryu levels him with a short range lariat. Tenryu picks Ogawa up, Irish whip, he hits a lariat, but Ogawa kicks out again. Frustrated, Tenryu hits his 53 Year Old, cover, but it gets another two. Irish whip by Tenryu, he hits another lariat, and this time Ogawa is not able to kick out. Your winner: Genichiro Tenryu

Match Thoughts: A pretty simple match that acted more as a breather before the big matches then anything else. Ogawa got a little leg work in and used dirty tactics to sneak in a few moves, but this match was all about Tenryu. The ending seemed extremely sudden, since a lariat is not Tenryu’s typical finisher and one would have thought that his 53 Year Old would have picked him up the victory. Ogawa does nothing for me at all, although he plays the part of sneaky heel pretty well. While I still enjoy watching Tenryu, he is a bit past his prime and his in-ring work is not up to what it once was. Still, not a bad match, but it came off looking worse considering the great matches that are around it. Score: 5.5

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kenta Kobashi
First time ever in-ring encounter. Tie-up to start, and Sasaki quickly hits a backdrop suplex. Sasaki kicks Kobashi while he is on the mat, but Kobashi gets back to his feet anyway. The two trade chops, side headlock by Sasaki, but Kobashi hits a backdrop suplex of his own. Sasaki fires back with a lariat, and both men roll out of the ring on opposite sides. After glaring at each other from across the ring, both men get back in to face off. Sasaki asks for a Test of Strength, they struggle for the advantage, and Sasaki flips Kobashi to the mat. Tie-up, Kobashi gets Sasaki into the ropes and knees Sasaki in the stomach. Chop by Kobashi, Irish whip, and he knees Sasaki again on the other side. Kobashi holds Sasaki so he can chop him the chest, hits two chops on Sasaki while he is down, cover, but it gets two. Reverse chinlock by Kobashi is applied, he drags Sasaki’s head so that it is over the apron and hits a diving chop to the chest. Kobashi then pulls Sasaki out of the ring and hits a quick DDT. Kobashi goes back in the ring, but soon comes flying back out with a pescado down on Sasaki. After rolling Sasaki back in the ring, Kobashi hits a chop and applies a front facelock. Sasaki gets Kobashi into the corner and gives Kobashi a headbutt and a series of strikes. Sasaki puts Kobashi on the top turnbuckle and hits a Frankensteiner. Sasaki goes up top and hits a flying clothesline, cover, but it only gets a two count. Kobashi rolls out of the ring, while Sasaki goes up top once again and dives down onto Kobashi. Sasaki tosses Kobashi back into the ring, cover, but it gets a two count. Chop by Sasaki once Kobashi stands back up, Irish whip, and he hits a bulldog. Cover, but Kobashi immediately kicks out. Kick by Sasaki, but Kobashi responds with chops. Sasaki dares him to keep chopping him, Kobashi obliges, and then Kobashi asks Sasaki to chop him. Now this chop battle literally lasts for a good four minutes, and I don’t feel like typing “chop, chop, chop, chop.” By the end of it, both their chests are a disgusting shade of purple and both of their arms are very tired. The crowd eats it up, as the two strongest men in Puroresu battle to see who can stand the most pain. In the end, it is Kobashi that knocks Sasaki down first. Both men stay down for a moment, Kobashi gets back up first, but Sasaki powerslams him when he charges. Sasaki walks around the ring holding his chest before going to the top rope, but Kobashi joins him and nails a superplex. Sasaki doesn’t sell it though and charges Kobashi, but Kobashi nails a head-droppingly wonderful half nelson suplex. Kobashi hits another deadly half nelson suplex after that. Sasaki rolls out to the apron, Sasaki tries to give him a Northern Lights Bomb from the apron to the floor, but Kobashi chops him off the apron to the floor. Kobashi gets on the apron and chops down on Sasaki, but Sasaki reaches up, grabs him, and proceeds to hit a Northern Lights Bomb to the floor. Sasaki gets back in first, and Kobashi barely makes it back in before the 20 count. Sasaki picks Kobashi up and goes for the Tiger Suplex, Kobashi tries to grab the top rope, but he is unable to get a grasp on it and Sasaki hits the move for a two count. Sasaki bounces off the ropes and hits a lariat, cover, but again it gets a two count. Sasaki picks up Kobashi and tries to slam him to the mat, but Kobashi reverses it, bounces up, and nails a lariat. Both men are back up, and Sasaki judo throws Kobashi down. The Strangle Hold Gamma is applied by Sasaki, but he releases the hold and stands Kobashi up. Sasaki bounces off the ropes and goes for a lariat, but Kobashi gets his arm up to block it. Sasaki goes for a Northern Lights Bomb, but Kobashi reverses it into one of his own. Sasaki pops up though and hits the Northern Lights Bomb, but Kobashi doesn’t sell it and the two hit each other with lariats at the same time, knocking them both down. Sasaki clotheslines Kobashi in the back, but Kobashi grabs him and hits a sleeper suplex. Short lariat for Kobashi, cover, but Sasaki kicks out. Kobashi picks up Sasaki, scoop slam, he hits the moonsault, but again he gets two. Up first, Kobashi picks up Sasaki, Sasaki tries to hit a lariat, but Kobashi blocks it and hits a series of rolling back chops. With Sasaki reeling, Kobashi bounces off the ropes and delivers one last killer lariat. Cover, and he gets the three count pinfall. Your winner: Kenta Kobashi

Match Thoughts: Off the charts. Finally, we get to see square off the two strongest wrestlers from the 90s in New Japan and All Japan, and they did not disappoint. Nearly everything worked, and both wrestlers pulled out all the stops. The Northern Lights Bomb on the floor was brutal, as were the lariats and chops. Some fans might not understand the chop battle in the middle, but it was simply a story of two of the strongest wrestlers in the Japan being determined to knock the other one down first. While I don’t like no-selling if it is used in excess, I think it was used well here as it was only in quick bursts and used very sparingly. The crowd as well was stoked, which really helped the atmosphere. A classic encounter, I couldn’t have asked for a more entertaining match between these two. Score: 9.1

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada
Tie-up to start, Kawada gets Misawa in to the ropes and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, Kawada again gets Misawa into the ropes, Misawa switches positions with him though and he also gives a clean break. Kick to the stomach by Kawada, Misawa goes to punch Kawada, but Kawada jumps back. A third tie-up, Kawada pushes Misawa into the ropes, but this time hits a chop. Misawa fires back with an elbow and the two trade strikes. They go head to head, as their strike battle continues. Kawada hits a running boot to the head, Misawa replies with a running elbow smash, but Kawada grabs Misawa’s arm and connects squarely with a heel kick. Kawada applies a half Boston crab and then releases it in order to apply a modified surfboard. Kick to the chest by Kawada, Misawa hits a series of forearms, Kawada hits a boot to the face, but Misawa floors him with a running elbow shot. Misawa picks Kawada up, Tiger Driver, but it only gets a two count. Misawa goes up top and hits a Tiger Body Press, cover, but again it gets two. A reverse chinlock is applied by Misawa, but Kawada gets a foot on the ropes. Elbow to the back of the head by Misawa, Kawada fires back with slaps, scoop slam, and he kicks Misawa repeatedly in the head. Misawa rolls to the outside, and Kawada goes out as well. Kawada moves one of the protective mats and goes to powerbomb Misawa on the concrete, but Misawa hits him with a series of forearms and nails a Tiger Driver on the concrete. Misawa gets back in first (naturally), Kawada eventually follows, cover by Misawa, but it gets a two count. Misawa goes up to the second rope and hits a dropkick to Kawada’s head. Cover, but Kawada kicks out. Misawa goes for a Tiger Suplex, Kawada grabs the ropes, so Misawa applies a sleeperhold. Kawada reaches the ropes, Misawa picks him back up, Irish whip to the corner, but Kawada collapses before he gets there. Misawa charges Kawada when he gets up, but Kawada boots him in the face. Misawa charges again, again he tastes boot, Kawada bounces off the ropes, and one last big boot knocks Misawa to the mat. Misawa bounces back up, but Kawada knocks him back down with a Gamengiri. Kawada hits a running boot in the corner and knees Misawa repeatedly in the head. Knees to the chest by Kawada and he kicks Misawa again in the head. Misawa rolls out to the apron and Kawada follows. Slap by Kawada on the apron, Misawa fires back with elbow shots and goes for a Tiger Driver, but Kawada blocks it, so Misawa hits another elbow smash instead. Misawa dives down on Kawada from the apron, but Kawada forearms in the face as he is falling. Kawada drags Misawa most the way up the large rampway and scoop slams him onto it. Up a little farther, Kawada goes for a powerbomb, Misawa tries to fight out of it, but Kawada hits an enzigieri. Kawada picks Misawa up and this time delivers the powerbomb on the ramp. Kawada goes back to the ring, but when the count gets to around 10 he runs back out and grabs Misawa (who is still laying on the ramp), bringing him back to the ring with him. Knee drop by Kawada, cover, but Misawa kicks out. Kawada kicks Misawa in the legs and finishes with a spinning heel kick. Clothesline by Kawada, cover, but it gets two. Kawada goes for a powerbomb, Misawa blocks it, Kawada kicks Misawa in the head, but Misawa comes back with his own elbow strikes. The two trade stiff strikes, but Kawada knocks Misawa back down with a kick to the chest. Kawada picks Misawa up and goes for a suplex and finally hits it after Misawa tries to fight it off. Stretch Plum by Kawada, cover, but it only gets a two count. Kawada hits a release German suplex, Misawa jumps back up, Kawada hits another release German suplex, again Misawa doesn’t sell it and charges Kawada with elbows, but Kawada knocks Misawa to the mat for good with a rolling front kick. Kawada goes for a vertical suplex (or brainbuster), Misawa won’t go over, but Kawada hits another Gamengiri. Cover by Kawada, but Misawa barely kicks out. Brainbuster by Kawada, cover, but again Misawa kicks out. Kawada picks Misawa up, hits a powerbomb, cover, but it only gets a two count. Kawada sits Misawa up and bounces off the ropes, Misawa ducks the front kick, but Kawada kicks him in the back. Kawada then picks Misawa up and hits the Gansobomb! Cover, but Misawa still won’t stay down. Kawada grabs Misawa again and goes for another powerbomb, but Misawa hurricanranas out off it. The two trade shots, but Misawa ducks the Gamengiri. Forearm shot by Misawa and he knocks Kawada down with a running elbow smash. Cover, but it only gets two. Misawa goes for the Emerald Frosion, Kawada slides down his back, but Misawa elbows him back down. Misawa goes for it again, again Kawada goes down his back. Another forearm by Misawa, he goes for it a third time, and finally he hits the Emerald Frosion. Cover, but Kawada kicks out. Misawa goes for a Tiger Driver, Kawada goes to his knees, but Misawa hits a rolling kick. Release Tiger Suplex by Misawa, he grabs Kawada and hits a (somewhat sloppy) Tiger Driver ’91. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Misawa picks Kawada up, Kawada hits a forearm shot, but Misawa knocks him back down with an elbow smash. Kawada breaks up the pinfall attempt at one and the two exchange strikes (Misawa’s elbows and Kawada’s kicks). Misawa wins the dual and elbows Kawada down, cover, but again it gets two. Kawada slowly gets to his feet and Misawa elbows him again. After a series of elbow strikes that leaves Kawada reeling, Misawa hits another running elbow smash and quickly covers for the three count pinfall. Your winner: Mitsuharu Misawa

Match Thoughts: If you enjoy strike-oriented matches with limited long term selling, then this is the match for you. Personally, I have no problem with strike-oriented wrestling, but I did have a small problem with both wrestlers seeming to not act hurt longer from big moves (until the last three minutes or so, which Kawada acted perfectly during). An example of this would be Misawa being back on his feet trading shots a mere moment after taking the Gansobomb. I am not referring to pure no-selling, such as the German suplexes, but the occasional lack of flow that saw very little in the way of transitional moves from one wrestler dominating to the other. Besides that, the match was very hard-hitting and it was fun seeing the Gansobomb again. While I don’t think it holds up to the previous match or some of their earlier encounters, it was a good old school slugfest designed to show which was stronger: Misawa’s elbows or Kawada’s kicks. Misawa comes out on top, but I assure you that this will not be the last time that these two battle. Score: 7.2

Final Thoughts:

From top to bottom, this is arguably one of the best wrestling cards I have personally ever seen. It had a fantastic junior heavyweight match, a classic heavyweight battle, and a very entertaining tag team title match. While I probably enjoyed the Super J Cup tournaments more, they did not have the variety that you can see on this card. Even the undercard was enjoyable, which isn’t always the case with NOAH. If you are a fan of puroresu or want to see what all the fuss is about if you have never watched Japanese wrestling, I couldn’t recommend picking this up more.

Highly Recommended

Select moves from this event can be seen at www.wrestlingencyclopedia.com. Feel free to email me at wrestlingencyclopedia@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks.

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