Puroresu Review: New Japan Toukon Festival 2004

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The Event: New Japan Toukon Festival 2004
The Date: November 13th, 2004
Location: Osaka Dome
Attendance: 28,000 (claimed)

Coming into this show, New Japan was going insane. This was a special show put on by Antonio Inoki (back when he still had influence) which is why some of the matches look so… weird. For example, Tenzan was supposed to have a one on one fight against Kawada but at the last minute Ogawa was announced and the entire card was shuffled around. That is also why Fujita is main eventing along with Kashin, since Fujita was one of Inoki’s head fighters and Kashin (a light heavyweight) has a legitimate amateur background. This is also an example of why many wanted Inoki to lose power… whenever he got control of a card the promotion was stricken with odd booking decisions, last minute changes, and low attendance due to the inconsistency. Still, the card was pretty solid once it was all put together, so all is well that ends well. Here is the full card:

– Young Lion Toukon Tournament – Final: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs.
– Blue Wolf and Masahito Kakihara vs. Yutaka Yoshie and El Samurai
– Mitsuya Nagai and Masayuki Naruse vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
– Jushin Thunder Liger, Jado, and Gedo vs. Tiger Mask, Wataru Inoue, and Taiji Ishimori
– IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Heat vs. Koji Kanemoto
– Genichiro Tenryu vs. Katsuyori Shibata
– Elimination Match: Masahiro Chono and Riki Choshu vs. Yuji Nagata and Osamu Nishimura
– IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Minoru Suzuki
– Toukon Festival Special Match: Tenzan and Tanahashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Naoya Ogawa
– Toukon Festival Special Match: Kazuyuki Fujita and Kendo Kashin vs. Nakanishi and Nakamura

Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
This is the finals in the Young Lion Toukon Tournament. They jockey for position to start the match, Taguchi gets Nakajima into the ropes and he gives a clean break. Single-leg takedown by Taguchi into a side headlock, Nakajima Irish whips out of it, but Taguchi shoulderblocks him down. Stomps by Taguchi, but Nakajima fights back. Snapmare by Taguchi and he applies a headscissors. Nakajima eventually gets out of it and applies a side headlock, but Taguchi takes him back down. Taguchi goes for the cross armbreaker, but Nakajima blocks it and reverses positions with Taguchi. They struggle on the mat, but Nakajima ends up on top and goes for the cross armbreaker. Taguchi quickly gets to the ropes though and both men get back to their feet. Tie-up, Taguchi pushes Nakajima into the ropes and chops him in the chest before backing off. Nakajima returns fire, and the two trade strikes. Nakajima gets the better of it as he kicks Taguchi down, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakajima picks up Taguchi, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Taguchi manages to reverse it into a hammerlock, he goes for the cross armbreaker again, but Nakajima blocks it and rolls him up for a two count cover. Mounted slaps by Nakajima, with Taguchi slapping him back from the underneath position. Cross armbreaker by Nakajima, but Taguchi quickly gets to the ropes. Nakajima connects with a series of kicks to Taguchi’s chest and then applies a grounded leg lock. Again Taguchi makes it to the bottom rope, and Nakajima stomps him more in the leg. Back up, slap by Nakajima, but Taguchi punches him back and hits a scoop slam. Taguchi goes to the top turnbuckle, but Nakajima side steps the missile dropkick. Irish whip by Nakajima and he nails a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakajima picks up Taguchi and kicks him against the ropes, Irish whip from the corner, reversed, and Taguchi hits a dropkick of his own. Vertical suplex by Taguchi, cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi then applies a single-leg crab hold, but Nakajima makes it to the bottom rope. Stomps by Taguchi, he picks up Nakajima, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi goes to the top turnbuckle again, slips off, and hits an enzigieri. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Taguchi goes to the top turnbuckle again, this time delivers the missile dropkick, cover, but again Nakajima kicks out. A crab hold is applied by Taguchi, Nakajima almost makes it to the ropes, but Taguchi pulls him back twice and Nakajima has no choice but to submit!. Your winner: Ryusuke Taguchi

Match Thoughts: It should be noted that Nakajima was only 16 when this match took place. A nice little opening match, and aside from Taguchi’s little slip it was solid all-around. Both of them had already had a match prior to this one, but neither showed any signs of being tired. Probably the benefit of being young and having been through a rigorous dojo routine. Since Taguchi was Nakajima’s senior, it made logical sense that he won, and overall it was a perfectly fine young lions match. Score: 5.5

Blue Wolf and Masahito Kakihara vs. Yutaka Yoshie and El Samurai
Kakihara and El Samurai start things off. Single-leg takedown by Kakihara, but El Samurai spins out of it and both men get back to their feet. Kicks to the chest by El Samurai, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Kakihara reverses it with a hammerlock, but El Samurai makes it to the ropes and Kakihara has to break the hold. Waistlock by Kakihara, El Samurai reverses it with a wristlock, but Kakihara rolls out of it and trips El Samurai. El Samurai quickly gets up, kicks by Kakihara to the chest of El Samurai and he throws him into the corner. Irish whip, reversed, but Kakihara catches El Samurai when he charges and applies the Tarantula. Eventually he releases it, and El Samurai tags in Yoshie while Kakihara tags in Blue Wolf. Tie-up, but they break cleanly. Another tie-up, waistlock by Blue Wolf, but Yoshie breaks it fairly easily. Tie-up once again, kick to the stomach by Blue Wolf and he chops Yoshie, but Yoshie absorbs the blows and punches him back. Clubs to the back by Blue Wolf, he goes for a scoop slam, but he can’t get Yoshie up. He goes for another one, but Yoshie falls on top of him for a two count cover. Raiden Drops by Yoshie, cover, but again it gets a two count. Snapmare by Yoshie and he splashes down on Blue Wolf’s leg. Yoshie pulls Blue Wolf to the middle of the ring and goes for a crab hold, but Blue Wolf reaches the ropes so Yoshie tags in El Samurai. El Samurai stomps Blue Wolf in the leg and elbows him repeatedly in the back of the head. Blue Wolf fights back with kicks and chops though and makes the tag to Kakihara. Snap suplex by Kakihara on El Samurai, cover, but El Samurai easily kicks out. Kicks to the leg by El Samurai and he applies a single-leg crab hold. Kakihara eventually makes it to the ropes and El Samurai breaks the hold.

Stomp to the leg by El Samurai and he drops a leg on it. El Samurai applies a leg submission hold, but Kakihara makes it to the ropes and El Samurai tags in Yoshie. Yoshie jumps down on Kakihara’s leg while it is against the bottom rope, he then pulls him towards the middle of the ring and applies a single-leg crab hold. Blue Wolf casually walks in the ring and breaks it up, but Yoshie clubs him from behind as he goes to leave. Yoshie throws Kakihara into the corner, kicks him to a slumped position, and then hits an avalanche attack. Snapmare by Yoshie, cover, but it gets a two count. Yoshie picks up Kakihara, scoop slam, he goes for a running body splash, but Kakihara rolls out of the way and tags in Blue Wolf. Shoulderblock by Blue Wolf on Yoshie and he knocks El Samurai off the apron. Exploder by Blue Wolf on Yoshie, cover, but it only gets a two count pinfall. Back up, Blue Wolf goes for a vertical suplex, but he can’t get Yoshie over and Yoshie reverses it into a suplex of his own. Body press by Yoshie, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Yoshie from the corner and he hits a running splash followed by the butt bump and the running butt smash. Yoshie throws Blue Wolf to the mat, cover, but Blue Wolf kicks out. Yoshie tags in El Samurai, who comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. El Samurai picks up Blue Wolf and goes for the reverse DDT, but Blue Wolf pushes him off. Roll-up by El Samurai, but it gets two. El Samurai goes off the ropes, but Blue Wolf catches him with a lariat. Blue Wolf goes to make the tag, but Yoshie comes in the ring and knocks him to the mat. Blue Wolf tags in Kakihara anyway, Irish whip by Kakihara on El Samurai, but El Samurai catches him with a DDT. El Samurai goes for a lariat, Kakihara ducks it, but El Samurai connects with the reverse DDT. Diving headbutt by El Samurai, cover, but Kakihara kicks out. The chickenwing is applied by El Samurai, but Blue Wolf runs in to break it up. Yoshie takes care of Blue Wolf, and then splashes Kakihara in the corner. El Samurai goes to the top turnbuckle, but Kakihara is back up and joins him. Kakihara pulls El Samurai off the turnbuckle with a side headlock, but Yoshie comes over and frees El Samurai from the hold. Kick to the face by Kakihara on Yoshie, and Blue Wolf clotheslines Yoshie to the mat. Shining kick by Kakihara on El Samurai, cover, but it gets a two count. Drop toehold by El Samurai on Kakihara, he rolls him up, but it gets a two count. Kaki Cutter by Kakihara, he picks up El Samurai and delivers another Kaki Cutter. Cover, and he gets the three count! Your winners: Blue Wolf and Masahito Kakihara

Match Thoughts: Not a lot of rhyme or reason, although the wrestlers all looked good. I tend to sour on matches that have transitions that are too insulting for my intelligence (for example, Kakihara is splashed by Yoshie but literally five seconds later is on his feet pulling El Samurai off the top turnbuckle), and the wrestlers never even bothered sell the early mat work. It is a shame that Kakihara had to retire recently, as he is a very solid wrestler. Yoshie seemed it be legitimately bothered by his leg even before the match started, but he toughed it out. Overall the match wasn’t bad, it just lacked any flow or substance and was more of an exhibition match then anything else. Score: 5.0

Mitsuya Nagai and Masayuki Naruse vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
Naruse and Makabe start things off. Wristlock by Makabe, reversed by Naruse, but Makabe hits a snapmare and applies a reverse chinlock. Naruse reverses it with a hammerlock, but Makabe makes it to the ropes. Club to the chest by Makabe, scoop slam, he hits a forearm, but Naruse returns the blow and the two trade strikes. Tie-up, Makabe gets Naruse into the ropes, but Naruse switches positions with him and knees Makabe in the head. Makabe catches a kick though and pushes Naruse to the mat before tagging in Yano. Nagai tags in as well, Yano has a weapon, but Makabe takes it from him as they argue. Waistlock by Yano, but Nagai reverses it with a keylock and takes Yano to the mat. Nagai picks up Yano and applies a hammerlock, but Yano takes him to the mat and slaps on a leg lock submission hold. Stomps to the leg by Yano and he goes back to the leg submission hold. Nagai reverses it, but Yano makes it to the ropes. Nagai tags in Naruse, but Yano rakes him in the eyes. Yano tags in Makabe, and he clubs Naruse in the corner. Scoop slam by Makabe, cover, but it gets a two count. Forearm shot by Makabe and he throws Naruse into the corner. Makabe then clubs Naruse to the mat, but Naruse kicks him back. Snapmare by Naruse and he tags in Nagai. Forearm shot by Nagai, but Makabe hits him back and the two trade strikes. Nagai goes off the ropes and boots Makabe in the head, but Makabe comes back with a forearm and Nagai goes to the mat. Makabe goes off the ropes, but Nagai catches him with a knee to the stomach.

Nagai tags in Naruse, double Irish whip, and they hit a double knee to the stomach. Naruse then connects with a running kick to the chest, cover, but it gets a two count. Knees to the chest by Naruse, cover, but it gets another two count. Naruse forearms Makabe in the head, but Makabe gets back up and throws Naruse into the corner. Makabe tags in Yano, hiptoss by Yano, but Naruse kicks him in the chest in retaliation. Yano ducks a kick though and starts choking Naruse with his wrist tape. More choking by Yano, he picks up Naruse, but Naruse connects with a back kick and Yano falls out of the ring. Yano eventually gets back in, but immediately rolls back out. Naruse finally comes out after him, but Yano rolls back into the ring. Naruse follows, but Yano rolls out. Naruse goes out as well, but Makabe is out there and he throws his own partner back into the ring. Low blow by Yano on Naruse and he chokes him again with his wrist tape. Irish whip by Yano, and he wraps the tape around Naruse’s neck. Naruse makes it to the ropes though and Yano lets go. Scoop slam by Yano, cover, but it only gets a two count. Yano tags in Makabe, body slam by Makabe and he gets a two count cover. Makabe punches Naruse against the ropes, Irish whip to the corner, and he hits a running elbow strike. Cover by Makabe, but Naruse kicks out at two. Snapmare by Makabe and he applies a single-leg crab hold. Nagai breaks it up though, but Makabe stomps Naruse again and tags in Yano. Again Yano chokes Naruse with his tape and throws Naruse out of the ring. Outside the ring, Yano gets his sandal and hits Naruse in the chest with it repeatedly. Makabe tries to stop him, but Yano pushes him back. Yano gets some sake, spits some at Makabe and pours the rest on Naruse. Yano rolls Nagai into the ring and hits him in the head with his umbrella. Irish whip by Yano, but Naruse ducks the umbrella and hits a leg sweep. This gives him time to tag in Nagai as Makabe gets tagged as well, high kicks by Nagai, Irish whip, and he hits the high knee in the corner followed by a suplex for a two count.

Back up, the two trade strikes, but Nagai again suplexes Makabe over his head. Cover by Nagai, but it gets a two count. A stretch plum is applied by Nagai, but Yano breaks it up. Nagai tags in Naruse, who connects with a pair of high strikes. Irish whip by Naruse, he goes for a high kick, but Makabe catches his leg and hits a lariat. Makabe tags in Yano, and Yano hits a pair of belly to belly suplexes for a two count cover. Makabe comes in the ring, he lariats Naruse in the corner and Yano follows with a spear for another two count. Yano holds Naruse for Makabe, but Nagai hits a springboard knee strike from the apron on Yano, this allows Naruse to move, and then Makabe accidentally lariats Yano. Nagai throws Makabe out of the ring, while in the ring Naruse ducks an attempted powder attack by Yano and nails a pair of Crazy Cyclone attacks. Cover by Naruse and he picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners: Mitsuya Nagai and Masayuki Naruse

Match Thoughts: Better then the last match, although still not great. I have no idea why Makabe and Yano tagged up so much, they never got along. I always thought that this time period was a waste of Yano… he is a solid wrestler with an amateur background, but most of his offense in this match was choking Naruse with his wrist tape. I was shocked how much time this match got, although I don’t think they used the time very well as the vast majority of the match did nothing to build to the ending. Still, the wrestlers did a solid job and Naruse/Nagai were a fun team to watch as they didn’t mess around when it came to strikes. Score: 6.0

Jushin Thunder Liger, Jado, and Gedo vs. Tiger Mask, Wataru Inoue, and Taiji Ishimori
Jado and Inoue start things off. Tie-up, Inoue gets Jado into the ropes and gives him a chop before backing up. Tie-up again, Jado gets Inoue into the ropes this time and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, waistlock by Jado, reversed into a wristlock by Inoue, but Jado reverses it back. Takedown by Inoue, but Jado is in the ropes and Inoue has to break the hold. Back up, they exchange chops, and Jado tags in Liger. Chops by Liger in the corner, Irish whip, and Liger hits an elbow strike. Inoue drives Liger back into his corner and makes the tag to Ishimori. Wristlock by Ishimori, but Liger flings him to the mat. Liger throws Ishimori into Gedo’s boot, scoop slam by Liger and he elbows him in the back. Scoop slam again by Liger and he kicks Ishimori around the ring before tagging in Gedo. Punches by Gedo, but Ishimori fights back and chops Gedo to the mat. Snapmare by Ishimori and he applies a reverse chinlock. Leg drop by Ishimori, cover, but Gedo quickly kicks out. Ishimori tags in Tiger Mask, who kicks Gedo in the legs. Gedo fights back with an eye rake and applies a wristlock, but Tiger Mask snapmares out of it and monkey flips Tiger Mask to the mat. Gedo connects with a dropkick however and Tiger Mask rolls out of the ring to regroup. After a moment he gets back on the apron, Gedo charges him, but Tiger Mask flips over his head and kicks Gedo out of the ring. Tiger Mask then runs to the ropes, goes to the top turnbuckle, and hits a plancha down to the floor. In the ring, Inoue knocks Liger to the floor and connects on a running knee off the apron. Finally, Ishimori comes in, tosses Jado out of the ring and delivers a springboard moonsault off the side second rope down to the floor.

Tiger Mask slides Gedo back into the ring, picks him up, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. He picks him up again and hits a butterfly suplex before tagging in Inoue. Inoue drags Gedo up, applies a wristlock, and elbows him in the arm before applying an armbar. Jado comes in to break it up, wristlock again by Inoue into a hammerlock, and he tags in Ishimori. Wristlock by Ishimori and he elbows Gedo again in the arm. Ishimori applies an armbar/headscissors combination, reverts it into a hammerlock, but Gedo makes it to the ropes. Irish whip by Ishimori, Gedo goes for a sunset flip, but Ishimori rolls through and dropkicks him in the head. Ishimori goes off the ropes, but Gedo throws him in the air and kicks him low, allowing Gedo time to tag in Jado. Jado begins working on Ishimori’s arm and throws him back into his corner. Chops by Jado, he picks up Ishimori and throws him out of the ring. Liger greets him out there, takes him up the ramp and nails a powerbomb. After a moment he drags Ishimori to his feet and slides him back into the ring for Jado. Cover by Jado, but it gets a two count. Jado tags in Liger, who stomps Ishimori while he is on the mat. Armbreaker by Liger and he tags in Gedo. Armbar takedown by Gedo on Ishimori, Liger then picks up Ishimori, Irish whip to the corner, and Ishimori collapses upon impact. Gedo picks up Ishimori and throws him into the corner before tagging in Jado. Chops by Jado in the corner, Irish whip, but Ishimori ducks the lariat and hits a hurricanrana, allowing him to make the tag to Inoue. Inoue knocks down all of CTU, he gets a running start to attack Jado, but Liger trips him up from the outside. Jado throws Tiger Mask out of the ring as Gedo attacks Inoue on the outside before sliding him back in the ring for Jado. Jado puts Inoue into the corner and Liger chokes him with the tag rope.

Liger stays in as the legal man, he drags Inoue towards the middle of the ring and knees him low. Liger picks up Inoue and throws him into the exposed corner (their corner of course) before tagging in Gedo. Gedo punches Inoue in the head, Inoue responds with slaps to the chest, but Gedo applies a front facelock. Gedo tags in Jado, double Irish whip, and they hit a double shoulderblock. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Jado to the corner and he tags in Liger. Chop by Liger, Irish whip, but Inoue kicks him and hits a spear. Inoue tags in Tiger Mask, who comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick. Liger tags in Gedo, Irish whip by Tiger Mask, reversed, but Tiger Mask fights off Jado and Gedo before throwing Liger out of the ring. Tiger Mask hits a tombstone piledriver on Gedo, goes for the diving headbutt, but Gedo rolls out of the way. DDT by Gedo, he goes to the top turnbuckle, but Tiger Mask knocks him off. Tiger Mask joins him up top and hits a double underhook suplex, cover, but it only gets a two count. Tiger Mask goes for a kick, Gedo ducks it, but Tiger Mask connects with an overhead kick for a two count cover. Tiger Driver by Tiger Mask, Ishimori is tagged in, and he delivers the Superstar Elbow for a two count cover. Ishimori picks up Gedo, but Gedo rakes him in the eyes and tags in Liger. Liger picks up Ishimori and chops him into the corner. Irish whip, reversed, but Liger kicks him when he charges. Liger goes to the top turnbuckle, but Ishimori hurricanranas him back off for a two count cover. Back up, Liger goes for a suplex, but Ishimori lands on his feet. Liger then goes for a lariat, but Ishimori ducks it and sneaks in a victory roll for a two count. Ishimori goes off the ropes, but Liger catches him with a kick and hits a quick brainbuster before tagging in Jado. Irish whip by Jado, reversed, Jado gets Ishimori out to the apron, but Ishimori comes back in with a springboard hurricanrana and tags in Inoue.

Spinning heel kick by Inoue, cover, but it only gets a two count. Inoue goes for a spear, but Jado avoids it and applies the Crossface of JADO, with CTU protecting him. Inoue eventually makes it to the ropes though and Jado has to break the hold. Jado picks up Inoue and hits a series of German suplexes. Cover, but Tiger Mask breaks it up. Jado picks up Inoue, but Inoue kicks him in the stomach and applies the Triangle Lancer. Tiger Mask and Ishimori take care of Liger and Gedo, but the bell rings before Jado can submit and the match is declared a draw! Inoue yells angrily into the microphone (probably wants the match restarted), both sides agree and we back on. Inoue grabs Jado, punches him against the ropes, but Gedo kicks him from the outside. Inoue takes care of him, but by now Jado has recovered and he locks in the crossface of JADO. Inoue makes it to the ropes though, all three members of CTU get in the ring and they all hit running strikes on Inoue ending with a shotei by Liger. Cover, but it gets a two count. Liger picks up Inoue and nails the Liger Bomb. Cover, but Inoue barely kicks out in time. Liger picks up Inoue again, but Tiger Mask runs in the ring and dropkicks him. Ishimori then hits a springboard missile dropkick and then he and Tiger Mask hit double 619s on Liger. Tiger Mask sails out onto Gedo outside the ring while in the ring Inoue hits a German suplex hold on Liger for a two count. Inoue picks up Liger, goes for the Staggerin’ Blow, but Liger blocks it. Inoue applies the Triangle Lancer, Jado tries to break it up, but Ishimori pushes him back. Still locked in the hold, Liger has no choice but to submit! Your winners: Tiger Mask, Wataru Inoue, and Taiji Ishimori

Match Thoughts: This was a fun six man tag. At the time, Inoue getting the victory over Liger was a big deal which is evident by the pop it got from the crowd. Some parts in the middle were slow, but CTU really work well together and it is great to see a “real” tag team and not just a pair thrown together for the hell of it. Inoue was really fired up the last few minutes, and Ishimori wasn’t in the ring enough to mess up anything (even though his Superstar Elbow was suspect as usual). Overall it was entertaining even though I think it dragged in parts. Score: 7.0

(c) Heat vs. Koji Kanemoto
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Kanemoto kicks Heat to start the match, but Heat returns the blows. Kanemoto sends Heat out of the ring, but Heat quickly rolls back in when Kanemoto rolls out. Back in the ring, Irish whip by Heat, reversed, they avoid each others strikes, Heat goes for the Minoru Special, but Kanemoto quickly makes it to the ropes. Kanemoto rolls outside, but Heat follows him out and elbows him in the arm. Snapmare by Heat onto the floor, he puts Kanemoto’s arm into the railing and kicks the railing. He then takes Kanemoto’s arm to the ring post and twists it around it before sliding Kanemoto back onto the apron. Heat gets on the other side of the apron and snaps Kanemoto’s arm into the turnbuckle. He does the same thing again before getting back into the ring. Snap suplex by Heat and he drops a knee onto Kanemoto’s arm. Hammerlock by Heat and he releases the hold so he can stomp on Kanemoto’s arm. More stomps by Heat and he hits a vertical suplex. Kneeling armbar by Heat and again he releases the hold to kick Kanemoto in the arm. Kanemoto gets back to his feet and goes for a kick, but Heat catches it and tosses him out of the ring. Heat goes out after him, Irish whip attempt, reversed, and Kanemoto sends Heat into the ring post. High kick by Kanemoto and he hits a series of mounted punches on the outside. The referee comes out to stop him, and finally manages to do so. Kanemoto kicks Liger for getting too close and then kicks Gedo before going back to Heat. Kanemoto throws Heat head-first into the ring post before sliding him back into the ring.

Kanemoto pulls Heat to his feet, Irish whip, but Heat collapses as we see that he is bleeding from the head. Stomps to the back of the head by Kanemoto and he kicks Heat into the corner. Kanemoto knocks down the referee for getting in the way and hits his bootscrapes on Heat. Kanemoto bites the top of Heat’s head, picks him up out of the corner and stomps him more in the back of the head. Reverse chinlock by Kanemoto and after a moment he releases the hold. Back up, scoop slam by Kanemoto, and he hits his somersault senton for a two count cover. Mounted punches by Kanemoto and he applies an elevated crab hold. Stomps to the head by Kanemoto and he argues more with the referee. Punches by Kanemoto and a kick to the chest, but Heat starts absorbing the blows and gets to his feet. Heat finally catches a kick and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Kanemoto is back up quickly though and the two trade forearm strikes. Dropkick by Heat, and Kanemoto falls outside the ring. Pescado attempt by Heat, but Kanemoto side steps it and throws Heat into the ring post. Kanemoto then takes Heat up the ramp and goes for a Falcon Arrow, Heat blocks it and hits a string of punches, but Kanemoto catches him when he charges and hits an overhead suplex. Kanemoto walks back to the ring, but Heat is back up and pulls him off the apron at 16. They struggle by the apron, but at 19 they both slide back in. Stomps to the head by Kanemoto and he hits a few knee strikes to Heat’s head. Kanemoto picks up Heat and punches him into the corner. Irish whip, but Heat gets a foot up when he charges. Heat goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Kanemoto joins him up there and hits a Frankensteiner. Cover, but Heat barely kicks out in time. Back up, Irish whip by Kanemoto, and he hits an overhead suplex. Kicks by Kanemoto while Heat is on the mat, he picks him up and goes for a tiger suplex, but Heat blocks it. Bite to the head by Kanemoto and he kicks Heat right in the face. Kanemoto picks up Heat, puts him up the top turnbuckle and goes for a tiger suplex, but Heat elbows him off. Heat turns around, but Kanemoto catches him with a kick and suplexes Heat off the top turnbuckle. Heat quickly gets back up, but Kanemoto kicks him twice and Heat goes back to the mat. Falcon Arrow by Kanemoto, cover, but again it gets a two count cover. Kanemoto picks up Heat and goes for the tiger suplex, Heat gets out of it, but Kanemoto kicks him to the mat again. Cover, but Heat kicks out at one.

Kanemoto charges Heat, but Heat catches him with a suplex and kicks him in the head. Fisherman Brainbuster by Heat, he picks up Kanemoto and delivers another one. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Heat quickly applies the cross armbreaker however, but Kanemoto fights out of it and applies the ankle lock. Kanemoto slaps on the grapevine, but Heat manages to make it to the bottom rope. Back up, Falcon Arrow by Kanemoto, but it only gets a two count. Another Falcon Arrow by Kanemoto, but once again Heat kicks out. Kanemoto drags Heat to his feet, scoop slam, he goes towards the ropes, but Heat rolls him up for a two count. Backslide by Heat, but that also gets a two. Heat applies the cross armbreaker, but Kanemoto makes it to the ropes with his foot after Heat blocks his arm. Kicks to the arm by Heat, but Kanemoto blocks one and re-applies the ankle lock. Heat hits an enzigieri to get out of it, Kanemoto charges him, but he slaps on the Minoru Special and picks up the three count pinfall! Your winner and still champion: Heat

Match Thoughts: This was the re-match from the last big show I reviewed, which ended in a double KO. I’ll give them credit for doing something different, but this match was really bizarre. Kanemoto focused on the head, including kicking it about 36,709 times during the match, but at the end he seemed to have given up on hitting the tiger suplex and kept going for ankle locks even though he hadn’t worked on Minoru’s legs at all. The problem with this is it made the entire middle portion of the match really boring (lots and lots of stomps to the back of the head) but it wasn’t really used well after that. Minoru started on the arm, then went 15 minutes without touching it, and ended up going back to it at the end. But at least it wasn’t too sudden, as he did apply a few cross armbreakers prior to the final one that got the tap out. Besides the first two minutes, last two minutes, and random little spurts in the middle, this match was pretty dull all around. I know these two can wrestle, which probably added to my disappointment. It wasn’t bad, since these two are very crisp and the ending made sense with Minoru focusing on the arm, it just wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. Score: 6.3

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Tenryu greets Shibata on the ramp as he comes down and throws him over the rail into the crowd. Tenryu then comes down to the ring and gets inside to wait for Shibata. Shibata slowly makes his way to ringside and gets in the ring, immediately hitting Tenryu with a jumping knee. Shibata kicks Tenryu out to the ramp and follows him out. Snapmare by Shibata and he kicks Tenryu hard in the back. Shibata then gets a running start and nails a FK onto Tenryu’s chest. Shibata picks up Tenryu and slides him back into the ring. Kicks to the head by Shibata and he connects with another kick to the chest. Tenryu gets back to his feet though, picks up Shibata and delivers the 53 Year Old. Shibata is back up though, kicks Tenryu in the leg and hits another FK, but Tenryu retorts with another 53 Year Old. Again Shibata is back on his feet quickly though, hits another FK, but once again he is caught by a 53 Year Old. Shibata retorts with another FK, but this time he falls back down afterwards. Shibata charges Tenryu, but Tenryu moves and hits his punch/chop combination in the corner. Tenryu then puts Shibata on the other side of the ropes and DDTs him back into the ring. Elbow drop by Tenryu, he picks him up and goes out to the apron. With Tenryu on the apron on the other side of the ropes and Shibata in the ring, Tenryu drags Shibata over the top rope and DDTs him down to the floor!

Both men are slow to get up, but Tenryu is up first and he slides Shibata into the ring. Tenryu gets back in as well and connects with a chop in the corner. Lariat by Tenryu, cover, but it only gets a two count. Enzigieri by Tenryu and he lariats Shibata to the mat. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Tenryu picks up Shibata and delivers a vertical suplex. Cover, but Shibata kicks out. Tenryu then hits a backdrop suplex and drops an elbow while Shibata is on the mat. Another elbow drop by Tenryu, cover, but it gets two. Another backdrop suplex by Tenryu, but Shibata gets up quickly and hits a strike combination. Kick to the chest by Shibata and he applies a front facelock. Shibata knees Tenryu in the chest and then connects with his running kick. Shibata picks up Tenryu and boots him in the head, but Tenryu grabs him around the neck and applies a grounded front facelock. Tenryu releases it when Shibata appears to be out, cover, but Shibata quickly kicks out. Guh punches by Tenryu, Shibata falls to the mat, cover, and Tenryu picks up the three count pinfall! Your winner: Genichiro Tenryu

Match Thoughts: What an absolutely bizarre match. First of all, forget selling. Just forget it, this match was designed as a sprint and they sprung up from more moves then I can count. I am not saying that is a good thing, but obviously it was an intentional aspect of the match… which makes it all the more ironic that Shibata was pinned after a punch. Of course, Shibata had no chance in this match whatsoever. But he gave it a good effort and survived the simply hellacious DDT from inside the ring to out of it. I don’t think I have ever seen that spot before, but it certainly didn’t look like fun. So I’d say the match was entertaining, but it sure didn’t come across as a normal wrestling match. Score: 5.7

Masahiro Chono and Riki Choshu vs. Yuji Nagata and Osamu Nishimura
This is an elimination tag team match. Nishimura dropkicks Choshu to start the match and punches him back into the corner. Choke by Nishimura and he headbutts Choshu repeatedly. Irish whip, but Choshu kicks him when he charges in and boots him in the back of the head. Choshu applies the Scorpion Deathlock, but Nishimura reverses it into a leg lock of his own. Choshu makes it to the ropes though, Nishimura doesn’t break the hold, so Chono comes in to help. Nagata comes in to throw Chono out of the ring as another official comes in to help get Nishimura off of Choshu. Finally Nishimura releases the hold, Irish whip, but Choshu avoids the dropkick. Lariat by Choshu, which busts Nishimura’s lip open. Another lariat by Choshu and he stomps Nishimura in the chest. Another kick by Choshu, Nishimura gets to his feet, but Choshu kicks him back down. Snapmare by Choshu, the referee starts a count on Nishimura, but Choshu kicks him before the referee can reach 10. Nishimura gets to his feet, but he eats another lariat from Choshu. Nishimura appears to be out, the referee starts a count, and Nishimura can not answer it! Nishimura is eliminated.

As Nagata gets in the ring, doctors attend to Nishimura and get a stretcher for him. With Nishimura out of the way, Nagata charges Choshu and hits him back into the corner. Choshu fires back, but Nagata kicks Choshu into the corner. Choshu tags in Chono, Chono goes for a single-leg takedown, but Nagata blocks it and hits a series of kicks. Chono catches one, but Nagata hits an enzigieri and punches Chono back into his corner so that he can tag in Choshu. He does, and Nagata peppers Choshu with kicks. Chono comes back in to help however and Choshu applies the Scorpion Deathlock. Choshu tags in Chono, and Chono slaps on the STF. Punches to the head by Chono, but Nagata gets back to his feet. Chono rakes Nagata in the eyes though and punches him back to the mat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Chono applies a reverse chinlock and hits a neckbreaker. Chono tags in Choshu and together they deliver a spike piledriver. Scorpion Deathlock by Choshu, but he releases it when Nagata gets close to the ropes. Choshu holds Nagata for Chono, but Nagata ducks and Chono gives Choshu a Yakuza Kick. Chono goes off the ropes, but Nagata catches him with a spinning heel kick. Choshu is back up, he goes off the ropes, but Nagata kicks his arm when he goes for a lariat. Brainbuster by Nagata, cover, and he picks up the three count! Riki Choshu is eliminated. Chono and Nagata immediately begin battling it out, Irish whip by Chono from the corner and he hits a Shining Yazuka Kick in the corner. Choshu is still mad about being kicked earlier though and runs in to give Chono a lariat. This gives Nagata time to recover, he goes over to Chono and hits a brainbuster. Nagata then picks Chono back up, delivers the Thunder Death Driver, and picks up the three count victory! Your winners: Yuji Nagata and Osamu Nishimura

Match Thoughts: To explain, Nishimura and Choshu hate each other (mostly just in storyline), and Chono and Nagata had a brief feud going. So Chono and Choshu were not friends per se, which is why he gave him a lariat after the match. Sometimes quick knockout victories can be lame, but not when blood is pouring out of the wrestler’s mouth, so kudos to Nishimura for… well, getting hurt. Nagata was made to look great here, as he fought off two very respected wrestlers even if he did get a little help from Choshu to beat Chono. The match was surprisingly short (only around 10 minutes), but was action packed and a fun to watch. Score: 6.5

(c) Kensuke Sasaki vs. Minoru Suzuki
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, Sasaki gets Suzuki into the ropes and gives a clean break. Suzuki fires back with a slap, but Sasaki chops him down to the mat. Suzuki gets back up, tie-up, Sasaki gets Suzuki to his knees, but Suzuki struggles back up to a standing position. Take down by Sasaki, Suzuki applies a waistlock though and manages to keep behind Sasaki. Sasaki goes for Suzuki’s leg, but Suzuki reverses it into an attempted cross armbreaker. Side headlock by Suzuki, Sasaki gets back to a vertical base and manages to get out of the hold. Suzuki wiggles free though and both men are back up again. Sasaki goes for a singe-leg takedown, Suzuki tries to reverse it, but Sasaki dumps him over the top rope as Suzuki hangs on to pull out Sasaki as well. Both men get back into the ring, waistlock by Sasaki and he applies a rear choke. Suzuki spins Sasaki around and gets in the mount position, but instead of punching him he goes for his arm. Sasaki frees himself long enough to get onto Suzuki’s back, but Suzuki makes it to the ropes and Sasaki breaks the hold cleanly. Chop by Sasaki, and Suzuki kicks him in the chest in return. The two trade blows, but Suzuki knocks down Sasaki with a dropkick. Sasaki then goes for one, but Suzuki side steps him and knees Sasaki in the head. Suzuki goes for the arm, but Sasaki shoves him off. Sasaki stomps Suzuki while he is on the mat, picks him up and goes for a suplex, but Suzuki blocks it. Sasaki hits a vertical suplex anyway, cover, but Suzuki immediately kicks out.

Knee to the head by Sasaki and he applies a reverse chinlock. Sasaki picks up Suzuki and knees him against the ropes before giving him a chop. Sasaki then puts Suzuki in the corner and alternates chops and lariats until Suzuki slumps down to the mat. Headbutt by Sasaki, but Suzuki comes back with his own headbutt. Another headbutt by Sasaki, he goes off the ropes, but Suzuki knees his arm when he goes for a lariat. Armbar by Suzuki, and he then applies a stretch hold to Sasaki. Suzuki picks up Sasaki and elbows him in the arm. Knee to the chest by Suzuki, and he kicks Sasaki back down to the mat. Suzuki begins twisting on the arm again and applies a hammerlock. Kick to the arm by Suzuki and he knees Sasaki in the chest when he goes to get up. Suzuki goes for another submission, but Sasaki fights it off. Kick to the arm by Suzuki, he goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, but Sasaki didn’t go down. Suzuki goes off the ropes, but Sasaki ducks the lariat attempt and hits own of his own. Both men stumble back, but they get back up and exchange slaps. Enzigieri by Suzuki and he applies the Octopus Hold. Sasaki gets out of it, Suzuki tries to apply it again, but Sasaki blocks it and lariats him to the mat. Scorpion Deathlock by Sasaki, but Suzuki is close to the ropes and gets the rope break. Back up, Irish whip by Sasaki and he delivers the ipponzei.

Sasaki picks up Suzuki, he goes for the Northern Lights Bomb, but Suzuki reverses it with the sleeper hold. With the move still applied, Suzuki applies a body scissors, but after a moment he releases the hold. Suzuki picks up Sasaki and nails the Gotch-style piledriver, cover, but Sasaki kicks out and gets to his feet. Northern Lights Bomb by Sasaki, but Suzuki is up quickly and hits a cross-armed piledriver. Again, Sasaki is up quickly and he gives Suzuki another Northern Lights Bomb. Suzuki is up first, he slaps Sasaki a few times, he ducks one lariat by Sasaki, but Sasaki nails the second one. Cover, but it gets a one count. Suzuki gets to his feet quickly, but he falls back over and Sasaki covers him for a three count pinfall! Your winner and still champion: Kensuke Sasaki

Match Thoughts: A bizarre match, as seems to be the theme today. I don’t even know what to say about the no-selling at the end of the match, it was one of the damndest (and perhaps a bit silly for a title fight) things I have ever seen. I also didn’t like that Suzuki pulled out the cross-armed piledriver, something he rarely uses, and Sasaki chose not to sell it. It was odd because 15 minutes of the match was mat-work, which is ok, but they transitioned straight from that into random no-selling that had nothing to do with the mat work and then they had a sudden ending. One of the weirder match structures I have seen, and the crowd was quiet as I don’t think they knew quite how to react. With it being a title match, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more rhyme or reason even if it did make the match interesting to watch. Score: 6.0

Tenzan and Tanahashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada and Naoya Ogawa
Tenzan and Tanahashi rush the ring to start the match, attacking Kawada and Ogawa. Tenzan throws Ogawa out of the ring while in the ring Tanahashi hits a jumping forearm on Ogawa. Tanahashi gets back in the ring and Ogawa eventually follows him. Tanahashi throws Ogawa into the corner and tags in Tenzan. Headbutt by Tenzan in the corner and he hits his Mongolian Chops until Kawada comes in to help. Kawada throws Tanahashi out of the ring, while Tenzan headbutts Ogawa in the corner. Chops by Tenzan and he delivers another headbutt. Irish whip, but Ogawa rolls out of the way and tags in Kawada. Tie-up, side headlock by Kawada, Tenzan Irish whips out of it and the two collide with no result. Kawada goes off the ropes, but again the collision has no winner. They then begin exchanging strikes, with Kawada knocking Tenzan off his feet with a back kick. Knees by Kawada, but Tenzan punches him back and hits a series of Mongolian Chops. Tenzan goes off the ropes, but Kawada catches him with a boot. Kawada then blocks the lariat, charges Tenzan, but both men lariat each other and tag out.

Tanahashi catches Ogawa with a dropkick and hits a double leg takedown. Mounted forearms by Tanahashi, but Ogawa reverses positions with him. Ogawa gets Tanahashi into the corner and hits a number of chops. Leg sweep by Ogawa and he begins doing the Hustle dance. Tanahashi is back up, Ogawa sweeps his legs out from under him again and again does the Hustle pose. Enzigieri by Tanahashi and he gets a small package for a two count. Tanahashi goes off the ropes and goes for a sunset flip, he can’t get Ogawa over, but Tenzan runs in and hits a lariat on him. Tanahashi picks up Ogawa and applies a crab hold, but Kawada comes in to break it up. Tanahashi and Kawada trade strikes, but Ogawa kicks Tanahashi from behind. Monkey flip by Ogawa and he kicks Tanahashi hard in the back. Ogawa tags in Kawada, who kicks Tanahashi repeatedly in the head. Kicks to the best by Kawada, Tanahashi fights back, but Kawada boots him in the head and Tanahashi falls back into the corner. Kawada picks up Tanahashi and goes for a suplex, but Tanahashi blocks it and hits a vertical suplex of his own. Kawada is up quick though and kicks Tanahashi in the back before running over to kick Tenzan as well. Back up, Tanahashi fights back with forearms but Kawada kicks Tanahashi back to the mat.

Kawada tags in Ogawa, and Ogawa kicks Tanahashi in the leg until he loses his balance. Chop by Ogawa and he hits a takedown. Ogawa picks up Tanahashi, Irish whip, and he forearms Tanahashi in the head. Chops by Ogawa and he tags in Kawada. Kawada kicks Tanahashi in the chest, but Tanahashi fires back with forearm shots. Tanahashi gets Kawada into the corner, but Kawada reverses positions with him and connects on a series of chops. Trip by Kawada and he kicks Tanahashi in the head before applying a single-leg crab hold. Tenzan breaks it up with Mongolian Chops however, Kawada covers Tanahashi, but it gets a two count. Kick to the back by Kawada, he goes for a front kick, but Tanahashi catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi makes the hot tag to Tenzan, and Tenzan cleans house. Spinning heel kick by Tenzan on Kawada, cover, but it gets a two count. Tenzan picks up Kawada, Kawada goes off the ropes, but Tenzan hits the Rydeen Bomb. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Tanahashi comes in the ring as well, Irish whip to the corner, and Tenzan hits a splash followed by a Tanahashi elbow strike. 3-D by Tenzan and Tanahashi, cover, but Ogawa breaks it up. Tenzan gets Kawada up, snapmare, and he applies the Anaconda Vice. Ogawa breaks it up however, and Tanahashi comes in to throw him out of the ring. Tenzan picks up Ogawa and delivers the TTD. Tenzan then goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but it gets a two count. Stomp to be back by Tenzan, scoop slam, Tenzan goes to the top turnbuckle, but Kawada rolls out of the way of the moonsault.

Kawada tags in Ogawa, who takes Tenzan down to the mat. Another takedown by Ogawa, but Tenzan fights back. Tenzan goes for a clothesline, but Ogawa ducks it and hits an STO for a two count. Stomps by Tanahashi to Ogawa, and Tenzan tags in Tanahashi. Tanahashi goes to the top turnbuckle and comes in the ring with a missile dropkick on Ogawa. Tanahashi picks up Ogawa, Irish whip to the corner, and he hits another dropkick. Another dropkick by Tanahashi and he delivers a release German suplex. Tanahashi applies the Dragon Sleeper, but Kawada breaks it up with a high kick. Ogawa makes the tag to Kawada, who promptly boots Tanahashi in the head. The two trade strikes, but a high kick by Kawada sends Tanahashi to the mat. Kawada gets a running start and connects with a running boot in the corner on Tanahashi. Kawada goes for the backdrop suplex, but Tanahashi hits an enzigieri. Kawada isn’t bothered though and nails a jumping kick to Tanahashi’s dome. Both men slowly get up, enzigieri by Tanahashi, then Tanahashi blocks Kawada’s kick. Shining Wizard by Tanahashi on Kawada and then also on Ogawa. German suplex hold by Tanahashi, but it only gets a two count. Tanahashi goes for the dragon suplex, but Kawada gets out of it and hits an enzigieri. Ogawa comes in and hits an STO on Tenzan, as Kawada and Tanahashi continue trading strikes. Backdrop suplex by Kawada on Tanahashi, Tanahashi gets up, but Kawada quickly hits an enzigieri and gets a two count pinfall. Kawada picks up Tanahashi, with Ogawa’s help they hit the Oregotokarire, Ogawa puts Kawada on Tanahashi and he picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners: Toshiaki Kawada and Naoya Ogawa

Match Thoughts: When the most normal match on the card is one that involves Hustle wrestlers, you know something is wrong. Actually, once the match started it was rather “normal,” as Kawada and Ogawa wrestled as they normally would and any extra antics were kept primarily to before and after the match. The action here was great, and Tanahashi showed a lot of fire as it seemed like most the time he was battling both men by himself. I am not a big Ogawa fan, but here he was fine, and the Kawada/Tenzan interaction was fun to watch. The best match of the card, for what it’s worth, and its a shame that the storyline never really continued after this. Score: 7.6

Kazuyuki Fujita and Kendo Kashin vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Shinsuke Nakamura
Fujita and Nakanishi start things off when Kashin bails out of the ring. They circle each other, Nakanishi goes for a takedown, but Fujita blocks it and applies a waistlock. They exchange waistlock holds, side headlock by Nakanishi, Fujita Irish whips out of it and the two collide with no result. Fujita goes off the ropes, but they have the same result. Again they go off the ropes, Nakanishi goes for a spear, but Fujita catches him and applies a front facelock. Nakanishi gets out of it with a suplex though and then floors Fujita with a lariat. Cover, but Kashin breaks it up. Nakanishi tags in Nakamura, and Fujita tags in Kashin. Tie-up, Nakamura gets Kashin to the mat and goes for an armbar, but Kashin reverses it into a wristlock. Nakamura gets out of that, but Kashin kicks him away and both men are back on their feet again. Tie-up, takedown by Kashin and he applies the camel clutch. Side headlock by Kashin, Nakamura gets out of it and gets Kashin to the mat, but Kashin rolls him up for a two count. Takedown attempt by Nakamura, but Kashin rolls him up again for another two count. Back up, now Nakamura rolls up Kashin, but Kashin kicks out and both men are back up again. Kashin asks for a handshake, and Nakamura shakes it.

Kashin tags in Fujita, tie-up, Fujita applies a waistlock, but Nakamura gets out of it and goes for Fujita’s leg. Fujita blocks it and re-applies the waistlock, but Nakamura gets free and both men are back on their feet. Nakamura drives Fujita back into his corner, allowing Fujita to tag in Kashin. Kashin uppercuts Nakamura, but Nakamura returns with strikes if his own. Kashin punches Nakamura to the mat, but Nakamura dropkicks him down and tags in Nakanishi. Kashin and Nakanishi circle each other, but Kashin tags in Fujita. Fujita drives Nakanishi back into the corner and hits a series of knee strikes to Nakanishi’s chest with Kashin helping from the outside. Knee to the chest by Fujita, but Nakanishi hits him back and delivers a headbutt. Nakanishi clubs Fujita down to the mat, then hits Kashin off the apron. Nakanishi picks up Fujita, body slam, and he tags in Nakamura. Knee drop by Nakamura, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakamura gets behind Fujita and applies a rear chinlock, but Fujita pulls his arms off and knees Nakamura in the stomach. Scoop slam by Fujita and he tags in Kashin. Kashin applies a stretch hold to Nakamura, but Nakanishi breaks it up. Nakamura gets Kashin into the corner and he tags in Nakanishi. Nakanishi chops Kashin repeatedly, Kashin tries to fight back, but Nakanishi slaps him back into the corner. Nakanishi picks up Kashin and delivers a stiff forearm. Kashin gets out of the corner with a series of kicks however and he tags in Fujita. Nakamura is tagged in also, tie-up, and Fujita applies a front facelock. Sleeper hold by Nakamura and he hits a side Russian leg sweep. Nakamura applies a modified armbar, but Fujita makes it to the ropes. Tie-up, knee to the stomach by Nakamura, but Fujita spears him back.

Nakamura tags in Nakanishi, and Nakanishi exchanges blows with Fujita. Nakanishi connects with a dropkick and goes for the Argentine Backbreaker, Kashin comes in, so Nakanishi throws Fujita at Kashin. Nakanishi goes for the spear, but Fujita kicks him in the head as he charges in and tags in Kashin. Knees by Kashin to Nakanishi, he applies a side headlock, but Nakanishi throws him off. Running knee strike by Nakanishi, but Fujita kicks him from behind. This allows Kashin to get the advantage, Irish whip, reversed, and Nakanishi hits a spear. Nakamura dropkicks Fujita off the apron, Nakamura helps up Kashin, and Nakanishi lariats him for a two count cover. Fujita lays the kicks on Nakanishi, but Nakanishi is up and applies the Argentine Backbreaker to Kashin. Hercules Cutter by Nakanishi, cover, but Fujita quickly breaks it up. Nakanishi goes after Fujita, but Kashin gets him from behind. Kashin goes to pick up Nakanishi, but Nakamura dropkicks him in the process. Nakanishi tags in Nakamura, who hits a shining enzigieri. German suplex hold by Nakamura, but it only gets a two count. Nakamura puts Kashin in front of the corner and hits a series of knee drops. He goes for El Nino, but Kashin rolls out of the way and hits a jumping lariat. Kashin pushes Nakamura back into the corner and charges him, but Nakamura kicks him back. Fujita runs in, but Nakanishi takes him out of the ring. Kashin then charges in and applies the cross armbreaker on Nakamura, but Nakanishi breaks it up.

Kashin tags in Fujita, he applies a capture side headlock to Nakamura, cover, but Nakamura kicks out at two. Fujita picks up Nakamura and delivers an Alabama slam. Fujita picks him up again and hits another Alabama slam. Back up, Fujita goes for a third, but Nakamura grabs hold of his head and applies the sleeper hold. Nakamura goes for the cross armbreaker, but Fujita blocks it and powerbombs his way out of it. Nakamura manages to get it re-applied, but Kashin comes in and applies the same hold to Nakamura. Nakanishi runs in and chokes Kashin in the corner while Fujita hits a series of knee strikes on Nakamura. Kashin applies the guillotine choke on Nakanishi before taking him out of the ring, while in the ring Fujita nails a powerbomb on Nakamura. Cover, but Nakamura kicks out at one. Running knee strike by Fujita, he waits for Nakamura to get up and he kicks him in the ribs. Running soccer kick by Fujita, he walks around the ring for a bit pointing at Nakamura, but he finally covers him and picks up the three count! Your winners: Kazuyuki Fujita and Kendo Kashin

Match Thoughts: A perfectly fine match, even though it didn’t really seem like a dome main event with Nakanishi and especially Kashin in there. Fujita was made to look beast here, especially since he waited over five seconds after kicking Nakamura in the head before making the casual cover. Really, Nakanishi and Kashin’s interactions with each other were the best parts of the match, as Kashin did everything he could to stay out of the guy’s way. The wrestling in the match was fine, but the ending seemed anti-climatic and since a feud didn’t really develop out of this (Fujita and Nakamura wouldn’t wrestle again until the following August) it makes you wonder what the point was of having a non-regular making a regular look so weak. Score: 6.2

Final Thoughts:

If this had been a normal show, it would have been more then acceptable. As a show in the Osaka Dome, however, it came across flat. The endings were bizarre, the main two matches meant nothing in the grand scheme of things, and the card changed in the days leading up to the event. I guess it was everything Inoki envisioned, but what did it do for New Japan? The match quality was definitely above average, I am not doubting the skill level of the New Japan wrestlers. But the whole show had this strange vibe to it as it didn’t come across as a New Japan show in many aspects. I’d still recommend it since the in-ring quality was there for the most part, but it was still a bit too bizarre to fully recommend. Look at the two shows I have reviewed around this one for a more “normal” New Japan show.

Mildly Recommended

Selected clips from the event can be seen at www.puroresucentral.com within the review of the event itself. Feel free to email me at purocentral@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks.

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