InsidePulse Puroresu Review: New Japan G1 Climax, Day 7

The Event: New Japan G1 Climax Day 7, 2005
The Date: August 13th, 2005
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 8,000

The G1 Climax is a round-robin points tournament that has been a staple of New Japan since 1991. In the old days the winner of the tournament was usually a younger wrestler ready for a push, but recently it has more open and many veterans have won it as well. Tenzan won it last year, and many thought that this would be Tanahashi’s year until he came into the Climax with so many injuries. The event I am reviewing is Day 7, which is the final day that all wrestlers participate. On Day 8, the semi-finals and finals are held to crown the winner of the G1 Climax. I got this event from www.IVPvideos.com, where it can be bought for only 6.99. After Day 7, the points for the wrestlers were:

Block A:
1. Hiroyoshi Tenzan [8]
2. Masahiro Chono [8]
3. Toshiaki Kawada [8]
4. Yuji Nagata [6]
5. Osamu Nishimura [5]
6. Minoru Suzuki [5]
7. Tatsumi Fujinami [4]
8. Kendo Kashin [4]

Block B:
1. Kazuyuki Fujita [12]
2. Shinsuke Nakamura [11]
3. Manabu Nakanishi [8]
4. Hiroshi Tanahashi [7]
5. Yutaka Yoshie [4]
6. Tatsutoshi Goto [4]
7. Toru Yano [2]
8. Togi Makabe [0]

– To summarize, the winner of the final match today (Nakamura/Fujita) would win Block B, but both were already a lock for the semi-final. Block A was more open, with three wrestlers going for the two spots. Here is the card for Day 7:

– Hirooki Goto and Akiya Anzawa vs. Naofumi Yamamoto and Hiroshi Nagao
– G1 Climax – Block B: Toru Yano vs. Togi Makabe
– G1 Climax – Block B: Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Yutaka Yoshie
– G1 Climax – Block A: Kendo Kashin vs. Minoru Suzuki
– G1 Climax – Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi
– G1 Climax – Block A: Osamu Nishimura vs. Toshiaki Kawada
– G1 Climax – Block A: Masahiro Chono vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
– G1 Climax – Block A: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata
– G1 Climax – Block B: Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Togi Makabe was injured during the tournament, so Yano will automatically be awarded two points. One thing to remember is that since this is the last day that all the wrestlers participate, they have had a lot of singles matches over the last week and many are tired or at least slightly injured. While this might affect match quality, that is also the point, to see who can withstand the week’s worth of punishment by having rapid fire singles matches when most wrestlers do tag matches during tours and singles matches only at the end of a tour or for a special event.

Hirooki Goto and Akiya Anzawa vs. Naofumi Yamamoto and Hiroshi Nagao
Anzawa and Nagao start things off. Anzawa charges Nagao, gets him into the ropes, and slaps him in the chest. Nagao returns the favor, they tie-up, waistlock by Anzawa, reversed by Nagao, Anzawa slaps on an arm wrench, but Nagao takes Anzawa to the mat and applies a leg submission. Anzawa quickly gets out of it and both men are back to their feet. Tie-up, Anzawa goes for a single-leg takedown, but Nagao clubs him in the back. Nagao picks Anzawa up, snapmare, but Anzawa quickly applies a hammerlock. Nagao struggles to his feet and hits a drop toehold followed quickly by a side headlock. Anzawa slowly gets up, Irish whips out of it, but Nagao shoulderblocks him down. Nagao tags in Yamamoto, who clubs Anzawa in the back. Anzawa manages to get Yamamoto down however, goes for a crab, but Yamamoto makes it to the ropes. Back up, tie-up, and Yamamoto kicks Anzawa in the stomach. Side headlock by Yamamoto, but Anzawa pushes them back to his own corner and tags in Goto. Goto kicks Yamamoto in the corner, snapmare, and he kicks Yamamoto in the back. Tie-up, single leg takedown by Goto and he applies a single leg crab hold. Yamamoto quickly makes it to the ropes, Goto stomps him while he is down, but Yamamoto grabs his leg and sends him to the mat. Goto gets to the ropes before Yamamoto can lock on a submission and he gets back to his feet. Arm wrench by Goto, Yamamoto reverses it into his own arm submission, Goto tries to hiptoss out of it, but Yamamoto uses Goto’s momentum to land on top and keep the submission applied. Goto gets back to his feet, flips out of the hold and flings Yamamoto to the mat. Yamamoto lands near the ropes though, Goto has to break and Yamamoto tags in Nagao. They circle each other, kick by Goto and the two trade slaps. Nagao gets the better of it and clubs Goto in the back. Goto fires back with an eye rake though and tags in Anzawa. Anzawa and Goto both choke Nagao in the corner, Nagao tries to kick Anzawa back, but Anzawa clubs him down with the help of Goto. Hiptoss by Anzawa, but Nagao hits him with a forearm. Anzawa regains control, Irish whip, and he nails Nagao with a dropkick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Snapmare by Anzawa and he applies a reverse chinlock. Nagao gets his foot on the bottom rope, and Anzawa tags in Goto. Kick by Goto while Nagao is in the corner and Nagao punches back to no avail. Goto brings Nagao back towards the middle of the ring, goes off the ropes, but Nagao catches him with a boot to the face. Neckbreaker by Nagao and he tags in Yamamoto. Yamamoto comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick, Irish whip, and he hits another dropkick. Cover, but Goto kicks out. Yamamoto picks up Goto, goes for the backdrop suplex, but Anzawa comes in and breaks it up before he can hit the move. Goto holds Yamamoto for Anzawa, but Yamamoto moves and Goto gets hit instead. Goto and Anzawa argue about it, allowing Nagao to come up from behind. Goto gets sent into the corner and is hit with forearm shots by both Nagao and Yamamoto. While he is still in the corner, Anzawa comes flying in and “accidentally” hits Goto with a flying forearm smash. Yamamoto then delivers his backdrop suplex on Goto and he gets the three count pinfall. Your winners: Naofumi Yamamoto and Hiroshi Nagao

Match Thoughts: It was nice that we even got a bit of a storyline here (Goto/Anzawa not agreeing) since in opening Young Lion matches you rarely see that. The next night Goto and Anzawa had a singles match against each other, so it wasn’t a meaningless storyline inserted for no reason. They also got plenty of time, clocking in at right around 10 minutes. All four of these wrestlers are solid, and while they didn’t perform any “flashy” moves here, they did not make any mistakes, which is the most important thing at this stage of their careers. If I had to personally rank them I’d still have Goto as the farthest along of the group (which is not an original assessment), but here none of them did much to set them apart from the others. A perfectly fine opening match, within the next couple years you will see at least a few of these wrestlers in the G1 instead of wrestling before it. Score: 5.5

Toru Yano vs. Togi Makabe
As I mentioned, Makabe got hurt during the tournament, so Yano is awarded the two points.

Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Yutaka Yoshie
They start with a Test of Strength, Yoshie gets Goto to his knees, Goto powers back up, but Yoshie gets him down again. Kick to the gut by Goto, Yoshie hits him with a forearm shot, but Goto rakes his eyes and punches him back into the corner. Chops by Goto, but Yoshie absorbs the blows and knocks down Goto with a clothesline. Single leg takedown by Yoshie and he hits a splash on Goto’s knee. Yoshie applies a leg submission on the mat and then releases it so that he can apply a single leg crab hold. Yoshie eventually releases the hold and hips Goto twice in the head. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Elbow to the back of the head by Yoshie, but Goto fights back with punches and kicks. A high kick sends Yoshie into the corner and Goto throws him out of the ring. Goto follows him out and gets a chair, hitting Yoshie in the shoulder and back with it repeatedly. The referee takes that chair, so Goto grabs another one and hits Yoshie again. Another chair shot to the back by Goto and he throws Yoshie into the ring post. Goto goes for a backdrop suplex on the outside, but Yoshie hangs onto the apron, so Goto slides Yoshie back in the ring. Kick to the back of the head by Goto and he kicks Yoshie hard in the chest. Goto picks up Yoshie, headbutts him, goes off the ropes, but Yoshie catches him with a spinebuster. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Irish whip by Yoshie into the corner and he hits a running splash. Another Irish whip, and again he hits a running splash in the corner. Yoshie sends Goto to the mat, hits a splash, cover, but it only gets two. Another splash by Yoshie, but again he only gets a two count. Yoshie goes to the top turnbuckle, but Goto rolls out of the way of the diving body press. Lariat by Goto, he goes for the backdrop suplex, but Yoshie lands on top of him and gets a two count. Goto goes for another one, but the same thing happens. Splash by Yoshie, cover, but again Goto kicks out. Yoshie picks up Goto, Goto goes for the suplex again, but Yoshie blocks it and hits a Lou Thesz Press for a two count. Yoshie picks up Goto, scoop slam, he goes up top, and this time nails the diving body press. Cover, and Yoshie gets the three count pinfall. Your winner: Yutaka Yoshie

Match Thoughts: While I like Yoshie normally, there were a lot of things wrong or confusing about this match. The most glaring thing was all the chair shots by Goto, which apparently didn’t bother Yoshie too much since 20 seconds later he was winning the match again and not selling his back or shoulder in any way. Then you have Yoshie working on the leg the first few minutes of the match, which again the effects of which were not seen the rest of the match. Finally, Yoshie hit six splashes (and missed another) in the last few minutes of the match, which seems excessive, especially considering that I know he has other moves. I realize that storyline-wise he was exhausted from the tournament and was trying to put Goto away quickly, but to me it makes the match less entertaining to see the same move hit repeatedly (unless you are Mutoh, then it is ok). With all that said, obviously I can’t say I thought the match was great, but at least they looked good and didn’t mess up anything. That is always a plus, right? Score: 3.5

Kendo Kashin vs. Minoru Suzuki
Kashin rolls out of the ring before the match even starts, then rolls back in. Suzuki rolls out when Kashin rolls in, but gets back in after a moment. Finally ready to start, side headlock takedown by Suzuki, reversed into a headscissors by Kashin, and both men are back up. Waistlock by Suzuki, reversed into an arm wrench by Kashin, single leg takedown by Kashin, but Suzuki quickly gets to the ropes and both men roll out of the ring. They agree to slide back in the ring together, Kashin asks for a handshake, and Suzuki shakes his hand. Tie-up, single leg takedown by Kashin and he applies a stretch submission. Camel clutch by Kashin and he rakes Suzuki in the face. Kashin clubs Suzuki in the back, but Suzuki gets back to his feet and gets Kashin into the corner. Snapmare by Suzuki, and he kicks Kashin in the back of the head before raking at his face as Kashin had done to him a moment ago. Kashin bites his fingers though, and Suzuki has to retreat. Suzuki appeals to the referee, but with no luck. Tie-up, knees to the stomach by Suzuki and he throws Kashin out of the ring. Club to the back by Suzuki, but Kashin retorts with an uppercut. They trade uppercuts back and forth, but as the count gets high they both slide in right at 19. Tie-up, drop toehold by Kashin, but Suzuki applies a choke submission. Kashin gets a foot on the ropes, stomps by Suzuki, he applies a side headlock, Kashin tries to Irish whip out of it with no luck, and both men spill out of the ring again. Kashin clubs Suzuki in the back and they go back to trading uppercuts. Again they slide in together right at 19 to avoid being counted out. Tie-up, kick by Suzuki and he knees Kashin in the gut. Suzuki slaps Kashin against the ropes, gets a running start and dropkicks Kashin down. Suzuki goes for the sleeper, but Kashin rolls him up for two. Another two count roll up by Kashin, and a third, but Suzuki won’t stay down for the three count. Suzuki kicks Kashin into the corner and hits a backdrop suplex. Suzuki goes for the Gotch-style piledriver, but Kashin pushes off the ropes and lands on Suzuki for a two count. Kashin goes off the ropes, but Suzuki catches him in the sleeper. Kashin gets to the ropes though and dives through them, and both men tumble out. Suzuki chops Kashin against the guardrail, both men stop the other from rolling back in, and right as the referee gets to 19, Kashin and Suzuki grab his legs and pull him out of the ring before sliding back in themselves. The crowd enjoys this, and the referee gets up and rolls back in the ring as well, fussing at Kashin. Kashin kicks down the referee and stomps him out of the ring. Suzuki kicks him as well, and they won’t let him back in the ring. Suzuki and Kashin go outside to get him, and Kashin throws the referee into the guardrail. The referee eventually recovers, Suzuki gets back in the ring, and we get started again. Suzuki kicks the referee again, but Kashin clubs him in the back and they exchange uppercuts. Backslide by Suzuki, but it only gets a one count as the referee continues yelling at them. Uppercut by Suzuki, and Kashin falls outside the ring. Suzuki follows him out and takes him up the aisle way to the backstage area. They try to make a run back to the ring before the referee reaches 20, but they fail to do so. The match is declared a double countout.

Post match: After slapping him, Kashin asks for a handshake and Suzuki gives him one.

Match Thoughts: A very different match then your normal puroresu, for it was more about putting on a comical match then a hard fought encounter. Suzuki and Kashin are both arrogant heels, and because of that they respect each other in their own twisted way. Black Cat (the referee) took a lot of punishment in this match as Suzuki and Kashin were more focused at times with messing with him then fighting each other. The crowd enjoyed the break from the norm, and while I thought the ending was a little silly, it didn’t matter for the tournament at this point and it saved both from getting pinned for future storylines. I have always enjoyed Suzuki’s work, and Kashin is starting to grow on me with his antics. Entertaining match. Score: 6.2

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi
Tie-up to start, waistlock by Nakanishi and he throws Tanahashi to the mat. Tanahashi manages to get on top and applies a waistlock, but Nakanishi gets to his feet and the two break clean. Tanahashi applies an arm wrench, but Nakanishi monkey flips Tanahashi to get out of it. The two lock up again and go into a Test of Strength. Nakanishi better win this. Good, he did. Tanahashi rolls through the hold though and applies a standing key lock, forcing Nakanishi to his knees. Tanahashi reverts the hold into a hammerlock, but Nakanishi pushes Tanahashi into the corner and gives him a headbutt. Snapmare by Nakanishi and he applies a reverse chinlock. After struggling to his feet, Tanahashi slams Nakanishi back into the corner, hits a flip kick, and follow it with a dropkick. Snapmare by Tanahashi and he drops a knee on Nakanishi’s head. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Side headlock by Tanahashi, Nakanishi slowly gets to his feet and squeezes Tanahashi in his injured ribs. Now we have a full fledged bearhug by Nakanishi before he drops Tanahashi to the mat. Nakanishi picks up Tanahashi, applies a side headlock, Tanahashi manages to get to his feet, Irish whips out of it, but Nakanishi shoulderblocks him down. Nakanishi goes off the ropes, Tanahashi goes for a crossbody, but Nakanishi catches him and hits a backbreaker. Nakanishi holds onto Tanahashi after the backbreaker and delivers a fallaway slam. Tanahashi rolls out of the ring, and Nakanishi comes off the apron with a punch to the back of Tanahashi’s head. Chops by Nakanishi outside the ring and he slams Tanahashi shoulder-first into the ring post. Nakanishi picks up Tanahashi, slams his back into the post, and slams him to the mat. Tanahashi barely gets back in before the 20 count, and Nakanishi greets him with a kick to the back. Slaps by Nakanishi, and the referee gives Tanahashi a ten count to get up. Tanahashi does, and Nakanishi knocks him back down with a series of chops. Chop to the throat by Nakanishi, but Tanahashi fires back with chops to the chest. Nakanishi absorbs the blows and knocks Tanahashi down, but Tanahashi quickly gets back up and takes some more punishment from Nakanishi. Forearm shots by Tanahashi, Irish whip, reversed, and Tanahashi hits a jumping forearm smash. Elbow drop by Tanahashi, senton, cover, but he only gets a two count. Tanahashi goes to the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick. Tanahashi goes up top again and hits another missile dropkick. Cover, but Nakanishi kicks out at two. Waistlock by Tanahashi and he goes for a German suplex, Nakanishi elbows out of it and goes off the ropes, but Tanahashi catches him with a release German suplex. Cover by Tanahashi, but it only gets two. Tanahashi goes for the Dragon Suplex, but Nakanishi grabs the top rope. Clubs to the back by Tanahashi, Irish whip, reversed, Tanahashi goes for a sunset flip, but Nakanishi gives him the old Iron Claw. Nakanishi picks Tanahashi up and gives him an STO. Nakanishi picks up Tanahashi again, punches him to the ropes, Irish whip, Tanahashi tries to reverse it, but Nakanishi hits a lariat. Nakanishi picks up Tanahashi by his throat and throws him into the corner. Chops by Nakanishi, Irish whip, and he hits a jumping knee. Lariat by Nakanishi, cover, but Tanahashi barely kicks out. Nakanishi picks up Tanahashi and goes for the Argentine Backbreaker, but Tanahashi slides down his back. Nakanishi goes for a punch, but Tanahashi ducks it and gets a backslide for a two count. Enzigieri by Tanahashi, he bounces off the ropes, but Nakanishi catches him with a lariat. Feeling pumped, Nakanishi applies the Argentine Backbreaker to Tanahashi and nails the Hercules Cutter. Cover, and Nakanishi gets the three count pinfall! Your winner: Manabu Nakanishi

Match Thoughts: I really liked this match, but that is probably because I like Nakanishi (while a good number of people don’t) and I am still not that impressed with Tanahashi in singles matches (while a good number of people are). Nakanishi looked like a real monster here, while Tanahashi did have his flurries and hit a nice release German suplex. Nakanishi did not concentrate on Tanahashi’s injured ribs as much as I would have liked, but it was a solid contest and I hope that Nakanishi starts getting some of the respect that he deserves as a convincing power man that can toss around little people like Tanahashi. Score: 7.1

Osamu Nishimura vs. Toshiaki Kawada
Nishimura quickly rolls up Kawada to start the match, but Kawada kicks out. Nishimura punches Kawada into the corner, and after a flurry of strikes he tosses Kawada out of the ring. Kawada gets up on the apron, but Nishimura dropkicks him off. Kawada gets on the apron again, Nishimura hits a forearm shot and the two trade blows. Nishimura turns Kawada around with an uppercut and chokes Kawada while he is still on the other side of the ropes. Nishimura then applies a Dragon Sleeper through the ropes, but Kawada catches him with a high kick. Kawada gets back in the ring and kicks Nishimura into the corner, but Nishimura applies an abdominal stretch when Kawada charges him. Kawada hiptosses Nishimura to get out of it, Kawada rolls up Nishimura, but it only gets a two count. Both wrestlers slowly get up, waistlock by Kawada, but Nishimura gets Kawada to the mat with a hammerlock takedown. A headscissors by Nishimura is applied, but Kawada does a handstand to get out of it. Kawada slaps Nishimura in the face, Nishimura slaps him back, but Kawada slaps him again. Kawada goes off the ropes, but Nishimura catches his kick attempt and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Kawada bounces back to his feet, but Nishimura gives him another dragon screw. Nishimura goes for a leg submission, but Kawada kicks him off. Back up, Kawada gets Nishimura into the corner and hits a chop. Another chop, but Nishimura fires back with an uppercut. They trade strikes, but Nishimura hits a drop toehold and applies a leg submission to Kawada. Nishimura applies the Muta Lock, but Kawada gets a hand on the bottom rope. Nishimura re-applies a leg submission hold, but Kawada squeezes Nishimura’s head at the same time and Nishimura releases the hold. With Kawada’s leg lying on the bottom rope, Nishimura kicks it, goes up top, but Kawada moves it and time and Nishimura’s diving knee misses it’s mark. Boot to the face by Kawada and he hits a running boot in the corner. Kawada goes for a brainbuster, but Nishimura reverses it with a backslide for a two count. Kawada goes for a kick, but Nishimura catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Figure four by Nishimura, but Kawada turns it over and reverses it. Nishimura turns it again though, and Nishimura edges his way back to the middle of the ring. Nishimura meditates for a bit while still applying the hold, but Kawada manages to reach the bottom rope. In the corner, Nishimura puts Kawada’s leg over the second rope and hits a series of strikes. Nishimura pulls Kawada towards the middle of the ring, but Kawada hits a backdrop suplex. Kawada goes off the ropes and knocks Nishimura flat with a lariat. Another backdrop suplex by Kawada and he kicks Nishimura in the legs and chest. High kick by Kawada and he boots Nishimura while he is propped in the corner. Snapmare by Kawada and he kicks Nishimura hard in the back while also chopping him in the chest. Kawada applies the Stretch Plum, but Nishimura gets a leg under the ropes and Kawada breaks the hold. Kawada goes for a powerbomb, Nishimura blocks it, Kawada kicks him in the head and goes off the ropes, but Nishimura catches Kawada with a victory roll for a near three count. Back up, Kawada goes off the ropes and hits Nishimura with a boot to the face. Brainbuster by Kawada, cover, but it only gets a two count. Kawada applies the Stretch Plum again, but Nishimura won’t submit so Kawada covers him for another two count. Forearm shot by Kawada, Nishimura hits him back with an uppercut, and they exchange strikes. Kawada goes off the ropes, but Nishimura catches him in a cradle for a two count. Kawada delivers a boot to the face of Nishimura and knocks him silly with a hard kick to the head. Cover, but Nishimura somehow kicks out. Kawada applies the Stretch Plum once again on Nishimura, and this time he has no choice but to submit! Your winner: Toshiaki Kawada

Match Thoughts: A solid match, although a step down from most Kawada matches I have seen, probably due to the fact that this was Day 7 of the tournament. I have never known what to think of Nishimura… he has an odd style of wrestling. By about ten minutes in it was very clear that the only way Kawada was losing was from a quick pin, which almost worked for Nishimura on two occasions. The leg work was done well, and Kawada sold it for most of the match. Nothing exciting, but fundamentally sound and the crowd was really into Nishimura’s near falls. Score: 6.5

Masahiro Chono vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
After circling each other for a moment, they tie-up, side headlock by Chono, Fujinami Irish whips out of it, he catches Chono’s kick and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Chono falls out of the ring, Fujinami follows him out and dragon screw leg whips Chono into the guardrail. Fujinami rolls back in and Chono eventually follows. Fujinami continues attacking Chono’s leg and applies a leg submission hold. Chono makes it to the ropes, and Fujinami slowly releases it. Kick to the leg by Fujinami and he re-applies the submission on Chono’s left leg. Chono manages to roll over Fujinami for a one count pinfall, but Fujinami keeps the submission hold locked on. Fujinami releases the hold, kicks Chono in the leg and kicks it again while it is against the bottom rope. Fujinami snaps back Chono’s leg, and Chono rolls out of the ring. After stalling, Chono eventually gets back into the ring. Tie-up, Fujinami forces Chono to his knees and slaps him in the face. Side headlock by Fujinami, Irish whip by Fujinami and he applies the sleeper hold. Chono gets out of it with a side Russian leg sweep however, and after getting up he kicks Fujinami another one. Cover, but it only gets a one count. Chono delivers a third leg sweep, cover, but again Fujinami easily kicks out. Chono applies a single leg crab hold and goes for the STF, but Fujinami is too close to the ropes so Chono applies a Dragon Sleeper. Fujinami knees Chono in the head to get out of it, Chono goes to the top turnbuckle, but Fujinami catches him up there and hits a dragon screw leg whip while Chono is sitting on the top turnbuckle. Fujinami applies a figure four to Chono, but releases it after a minute. Scoop slam by Fujinami, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving knee to the chest of Chono. Both wrestlers slowly get up, and Chono charges Fujinami, pushing him out of the ring. Chono rolls out as well and hits a dragon screw leg whip on the outside. Chono hits another one (for the record, they didn’t look very good) and rolls back in the ring, with Fujinami getting back in with the count at 18. Chono kicks Fujinami in the head as he gets in the ring, goes to the top turnbuckle, but Fujinami catches him up there and delivers a superplex. Fujinami goes off the ropes, but Chono catches him with an abdominal stretch roll-up for two. Fujinami goes for a scoop slam, can’t really get him over, he bounces off the ropes, and Chono hits a Shining Yakuza Kick. Fujinami half sits-up after the move, Chono finally gets over there to cover him, and he gets the three count pinfall. Your winner: Masahiro Chono

Match Thoughts:  While both of these men are legends in Japan, this was a plodding match with little action and even less in the way of smart ring psychology. As everyone knows that reads my reviews, I love me some good matwork, but only when it means something. Fujinami worked over Chono’s leg for seven minutes, and for what? Chono didn’t even attempt to sell that he had an injured leg and finished Fujinami off with a kick to the head. I have never been a fan of the half sit-up before a cover, which is old school, but at least Chono locked his hands and Fujinami was trying to kick out. But the sequence right before the finish was odd and disjointed, and I am inclined to think from that ending that they decided to go to the finish early. I realize both men were probably sore, and it was nice seeing Fujinami again, but this was not a good match. Score: 3.8

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata
Tie-up to start, waistlock by Nagata, Tenzan fails to reverse it but he gets in the ropes for the break. Nagata again applies a waistlock, Tenzan reverses it with an arm wrench, but Nagata reverses it back and kicks Tenzan in the leg. Nagata pushes Tenzan into the corner and again he gives a clean break. Tie-up, side headlock by Tenzan, Nagata Irish whips out of it, and the two collide with neither budging. Slaps by Nagata, Tenzan returns with forearms and then headbutts Nagata to the mat. Chops to the throat by Tenzan and he kicks Nagata in the chest. Tenzan hits a series of Mongolian Chops and throws Nagata out of the ring. Tenzan follows him out, but Nagata quickly slides back in the ring and when Tenzan gets on the apron he is met with a boot to the face from Nagata. Tenzan gets back in the ring at the 10 count, tie-up, and they go into a Test of Strength. Tenzan gets Nagata to his knees and kicks him repeatedly in the stomach. Chops by Tenzan, and Nagata falls to the mat. Tenzan applies a reverse chinlock and knees Nagata in the throat. Forearm shots by Tenzan, scoop slam, and he headbutts Nagata while he lays on the mat. Cover, but Nagata easily kicks out. Tenzan re-applies the side headlock, but Nagata gets to his feet and reverses it into a cross armbreaker. Tenzan manages to keep his hands linked however and gets a hand on the ropes for the break. With both men back up, Nagata applies a standing armbar and torques back Tenzan’s left arm. Nagata sits on Tenzan’s back for more leverage and then applies the cross armbreaker, but again Tenzan quickly gets to the ropes. Kicks to the chest by Nagata, cover, but Tenzan kicks out at two. Nagata applies a reverse chinlock, but Tenzan judo throws Nagata to get out of it. Nagata goes for a kick, but Tenzan catches his foot and hits a series of Mongolian Chops. Irish whip by Tenzan and he hits a Mountain Bomb. Tenzan goes off the ropes, but Nagata catches him with an Exploder. The Nagata Lock II is applied by Nagata, he releases the hold and kicks Tenzan in the chest to knock him back down. Nagata hits another kick, goes for an exploder, but Tenzan elbows out of it and delivers a neck-grip side slam. Cover by Tenzan, but it only gets a two count. Tenzan goes off the ropes and nails a spinning heel kick. Cover, but again it only gets a two count. Scoop slam by Tenzan, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but Nagata kicks out. The Anaconda Vice is applied by Tenzan, but Nagata gets a foot on the ropes. Tenzan slowly picks up Nagata and nails the TTD. Cover, but it gets a two count. Tenzan re-applies the Anaconda Vice, but Nagata reverses it into a reverse Nagata Lock III for a near three count fall. Kick to the chest by Nagata, Irish whip from the corner, and he hits a running boot to the face. Nagata puts Tenzan on the top turnbuckle, climbs up himself, he goes for an exploder, but Tenzan headbutts him off. Tenzan drives Nagata’s head into the mat from the top with his knee, cover, but it only gets a two count. Tenzan goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, cover, but Nagata kicks out. Tenzan picks up Nagata, backbreaker, he goes to the top turnbuckle, but Nagata rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Both men slowly get up, and Nagata hits a rolling back kick. Nagata pushes Tenzan back in the corner and hits two jumping knee strikes to Tenzan’s head. Nagata picks up Nagata and nails the brainbuster. Cover, but Tenzan kicks out at one. Again Nagata picks up Tenzan and knees him in the chest. He goes for another brainbuster, but Tenzan punches out of it and delivers another TTD. Cover, but Nagata kicks out at one. As they slowly get up, Nagata and Tenzan trade strikes while they are on their knees. Headbutt by Tenzan, they get to their feet and continue to exchange shots. Nagata goes off the ropes and hits a boot, but Tenzan fires back with a clothesline. Nagata returns with a enzigieri (we can now see that Tenzan is bleeding from the mouth, probably from one of the shots in the last exchange) and knocks Tenzan to the mat with a heel kick to the back. Nagata picks up Tenzan, nails the backdrop suplex hold, but Tenzan barely kicks out. Nagata hits a high kick to Tenzan’s head, hits another backdrop suplex hold, and this time he gets the three count! Your winner: Yuji Nagata

Match Thoughts: A very entertaining match, which is no surprise with these two. Both of them were going all out, since for Tenzan if he won the match he was moving on in the tournament while Nagata was anxious to play the role of the spoiler. The match started slow, but by around the mid-point it had picked up and the last four minutes or so contained a lot of different hot exchanges between the two. Since both wrestlers were pulling out all the stops (Nagata going for an exploder off the top and Tenzan trying for the moonsault), it gave the feel that this was an important match. I admit I have always liked the ending sequence used here (first time the finisher doesn’t work, so you knock him loopy with something else before trying the finisher again), and I felt it fit the match very well. Best match of the night. Score: 7.4

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
They tie-up to start, waistlock by Fujita, reversed by Nakamura, but Fujita reverses it back. Fujita applies an arm wrench, but Nakamura rolls through it and applies an arm wrench of his own. Nakamura gets Fujita to the mat, but Fujita quickly gets out of it and both men are back to their feet. Knee to the chest by Fujita and they exchange forearm shots. Side headlock by Nakamura, Fujita Irish whips out of it and shoulderblocks Nakamura down. Fujita goes for a soccer kick, but Nakamura wisely ducks it and rolls out of the ring. Nakamura is back in by the 10 count, Fujita knees Nakamura in the chest again, but Nakamura fires back. They trade slaps, but a right hook by Fujita gives him the upperhand. Scoop slam by Fujita, Irish whip, but Nakamura reverses it into a Shining Triangle. Fujita quickly grabs the ropes, Nakamura picks up Fujita, but Fujita hits a series of punches to the head. Nakamura ducks one of the punches and applies a cross armbreaker, but again Fujita is too close to the ropes and Nakamura has to break the hold. The sleeperhold is applied by Nakamura, but Fujita gets out of it with a backdrop suplex. Fujita hits a running knee to the chest of Nakamura and knees Nakamura repeatedly in the head while he lays on the mat. Fujita picks up Nakamura and applies the front sleeper hold, he releases it when Nakamura seems to be out, but Nakamura answers the 10 count. Fujita picks up Nakamura, but Nakamura manages to hit an elevated DDT and follows it up with a badass release German suplex. Nakamura picks up Fujita and goes for the dragon suplex, Fujita pushes his arms away, but Nakamura locks them back and delivers a tiger suplex hold for a two count fall. Nakamura charges Fujita and goes for the Shining Triangle, but Fujita reverses it with a powerbomb. Nakamura is up quickly, but Fujita hits a knee to the chest and follows it with an Alabama Slam. Reverse powerbomb by Fujita, he hits another knee to the chest, cover, and he gets the three count pinfall! Your winner: Kazuyuki Fujita

Match Thoughts: I was really enjoying the match until the (in my view) botched ending, but I will get to that in a minute. The length of the match was understandable, since there was a chance that these two might face off the next day in the finals and they didn’t want to go all out today and have to follow it up the next day. The action was fast paced, which was great, and Nakamura hit a few killer moves on Fujita to make you believe that he really had a chance. Unfortunately, during the pinfall at the end, Nakamura’s shoulder was clearly up before the three count. When something like that happens lower on a card, I tend to not care much, but for the main event it just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth to end the event. It is similar to how the end of the New Japan Cup ended, which made that entire tournament seem less important. Luckily, this match did not impact the tournament since both of these wrestlers were in the semi-finals anyway, but it still didn’t look very good. So I enjoyed the match as a whole and was impressed by both men’s offenses, I just wish the ending was more conclusive. Score: 5.0

Final Thoughts:

A real mixed bag from New Japan this time, as there were some very entertaining matches (Tenzan/Nagata and Tanahashi/Nakanishi) some poor matches (Chono/Fujinami and Goto/Yoshie), and a main event that was the ultimate mixed bag as it was a good match with a bad ending. The better matches of the card are definitely worth watching, I just wish that they had a better supporting cast. If I gave +/- I would probably give this one a C+, as it did have more good then bad and was over three hours of action. Don’t hesitate to watch this event if you get the chance to, but if you are not a fan of New Japan and want to start somewhere, this is probably not the best place to begin your collection.

Mildly Recommended

Moves in italics can be seen at www.wrestlingencyclopedia.com, under the “puroresu wrestling clips” section. Feel free to email me at wrestlingencyclopedia@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks.

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