Event: New Japan Strong Style Symphony 1999
Date: April 10th, 1999
Location: Tokyo, Japan
This is a really unique New Japan card, which is why I picked it up. First, you have Chono in a no rope explosive barbed wire death match. Then you have two BattlARTS matches as they go against New Japan wrestlers. The dream team of Liger and Great Sasuke got together to go for a championship, and Mutoh defended New Japan against the ultra heel from MMA – Don Frye. All and all this event has just about everything. Here is the full card:
– No Rope Explosive Barbed Wire Death Match: Atsushi Onita vs. Masahiro Chono
– Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata
– New Japan vs. BattlARTS: Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Minoru Tanaka
– IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Kendo Kashin and Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Great Sasuke
– IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Koji Kanemoto vs. Shinjiro Otani
– New Japan vs. BattlARTS: Kazuo Yamazaki and Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Ishikawa and Alexander Otsuka
– IWGP Tag Team Championship: Kensuke Sasaki and Koshinaka vs. Fujinami and Genichiro Tenryu
– IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs. Don Frye
Might as well open up with the strangest match of them all. Just to explain, Onita had come to New Japan in late 1998 because he wanted to fight Riki Choshu. Choshu first threw Sasaki at Onita for the January Dome Show, and here he made him wrestle Masahiro Chono. So Onita was far from a New Japan regular, but he did have a small storyline going at the time. The (wise) decision was made to have this match first instead of last, and it should be noted that this was Chono’s first ever barbed wire death match. In case you were wondering, Onita would finally get to wrestle Choshu the following year.
Atsushi Onita vs. Masahiro Chono
This is a no rope explosive barbed wire death match. Tie-up to start, and Chono clubs Onita into the back. Irish whip attempt by Chono, reversed, but Chono slides down before he reaches the ropes. Tie-up again, kick to the stomach by Chono and he applies a butterfly lock on the mat. He releases the hold after a second and allows Onita to his feet, punches by Onita and he tries to throw Chono into the ropes again, but again Chono slams on the breaks. Kick to the stomach by Onita and he hits a jumping DDT. Thunder Fire powerbomb by Onita, but Chono kicks out at one. Kicks to the back by Onita, he picks up Chono and gets a chair, but Chono kicks him as he approaches. Chono then gets the chair and hits Onita with it in the back and head. STF by Chono, but after a moment he releases the hold. Chono grabs the chair again and throws it at Onita, but Onita ducks and the chair goes into the ropes, setting off an explosion which knocks both wrestlers down. Onita is up first with the chair and hits Chono repeatedly in the back with it. Shot to the head by Onita, he picks up Chono and hits a running face crusher into the chair. Onita grabs the chair again and hits Chono in the back with it, but Chono fights back with an elbow. Onita hits Chono in the face again with the chair and throws him into the barbed wire ropes, setting off an explosion. Onita grabs Chono and throws him into the chair again, cover, but it only gets a two count. Leg sweep by Onita and he goes for the Scorpion Deathlock, but Chono blocks it and applies an ankle lock on the mat. After a moment he releases the hold and gets to his feet, but Onita is up first and kicks him in the midsection.
Punches by Onita and he tries to headbutt Chono into the ropes, but Chono slaps him. They trade slaps, Onita gets a running start, but can’t push Chono into the ropes. He goes for a running start again, but this time Chono moves and Onita takes his classic pose as he flies into the barbed wire ropes, setting off an explosion. Onita is gashed pretty good in the arm, so Chono begins to work it over. Punches to the arm by Chono, but he backs off after a moment and lets Onita get to his feet. Punches to the head by Chono, and Onita falls back down to the mat. Onita fights back with a low blow though, but Chono returns with a low blow of his own. Kick to the stomach by Onita, he grabs the chair and throws it at Chono’s head. Onita picks up Chono, hits another Fire Thunder powerbomb, cover, but it gets a two count. Both men go head to head while they are on the mat, they get up at the same time, Chono kicks Onita back into the barbed wire, but that side had already been triggered. Yakuza Kick by Chono, Onita grabs the referee to keep standing, but Chono kicks him back down. Chono then kicks Onita again, but Onita grabs Chono while still holding the referee and all three of them go into the explosive barbed wire. We get a new referee (Tiger Hattori) as Chono covers Onita, but it takes the new referee a moment to notice and Onita kicks out. Yakuza Kick by Chono, cover, but again he gets a two count. Another Yakuza Kick by Chono, but again the cover only gets a two. Onita gets up quickly and applies a side headlock, but Chono gets out of it with a backdrop suplex. Onita maintains the hold though, gets back to his feet, and drives Chono into the barbed wire so that both wrestlers eat the explosion. The referee starts the 10 count, Onita almost gets up, but he collapses back down and the match ends in a Double Knock Out.
Match Thoughts: Aside from the novelty of watching Chono in a explosive barbed wire death match, this match was not good at all. Besides the bad ending (Chono can’t beat Onita? Come on now.), Chono fought completely illogically. Why would he release submission holds like the STF knowing that Onita had no way to really break it up? The middle portion was slow, and the end was strange as after taking three Yakuza Kicks, Onita still managed to drive Chono into the barbed wire. Course the double knock out was disappointing, which is why I said earlier that it was good that the match went first instead of last. It is fun to watch wrestlers out of their element in matches, but I think that this match could have been laid out a lot better. Score: 3.3
Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata
Nakanishi wants to start, so Nagata throws him out of the ring so that he can pair off with Kojima. Nagata knocks Tenzan off the apron, tie-up with Kojima, Kojima applies a wristlock, reverses by Nagata, but Kojima reverses it back and applies an armlock on the mat. Back up, the two trade elbow strikes, with Kojima getting the better of it. Irish whip by Kojima, but Nagata rolls him up for a two count. Nagata applies the cross armbreaker, but Tenzan quickly breaks it up. They double team Nagata, but Nagata gets the better of them and rolls up Kojima again for a two count. Nagata tags in Nakanishi, but Kojima greets him with a punch and calls in Tenzan. Tenzan comes in, but Nakanishi clotheslines them both down. Scoop slam by Nakanishi on Kojima and he suplexes Tenzan to the mat. Nakanishi applies the Argentine Backbreaker to Tenzan, but when Kojima comes over to help, Nakanishi throws Tenzan at him and both Tenzan and Kojima fall out of the ring. Kojima eventually gets back in, tie-up, and Kojima tags in Tenzan. Kick to the stomach by Tenzan and he chops Nakanishi into the ropes. Clothesline by Tenzan and he hits a headbutt. A Mongolian Chop knocks Nakanishi off his feet, and Tenzan gets him another one. Snapmare by Tenzan and he chops Nakanishi in the throat. Tenzan throws Nakanishi into his corner and punches him, but Nakanishi returns fire. Eye rake by Tenzan and he tags in Kojima.
Stomps in the corner by Kojima, snapmare, and he hits a running senton for a one count cover. Kojima applies a reverse chinlock, but Nakanishi hits a backbreaker to get out of it. Chops by Nakanishi, but Kojima chops him back and the two trade strikes. Eye rake by Kojima and he tags in Tenzan. Headbutt by Tenzan, but Nakanishi punches him back and tags in Nagata. Arm breaker by Nagata to Tenzan, and he gives him another one before kicking him repeatedly in the chest. Nagata goes for an armbar, Tenzan tries to roll out of it, but Nagata eventually applies it anyway. Tenzan reverses it into a leg lock, but Nagata reverses it back and after a moment releases the hold. Back up, the two trade strikes, with Tenzan getting the better of it with a Mongolian Chop. Snapmare by Tenzan and he tags in Kojima. Kojima knees Nagata low before stomping him repeatedly in the chest. The two trade strikes, but Kojima rakes Nagata in the eyes. Nagata eventually catches a kick though and hits a dragon screw leg whip, allowing him to tag in Nakanishi as Kojima makes the tag to Tenzan. Nakanishi and Tenzan clothesline each other with little result, Tenzan goes off the ropes and knocks down Nakanishi with a spinning heel kick for a two count cover. Tenzan applies a reverse chinlock, but Nakanishi gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Mongolian Chop by Tenzan, but Nakanishi blocks the second and forearms Tenzan to the mat. Nakanishi goes after Kojima, but Tenzan attacks him from behind and throws him out of the ring. Kojima Irish whips Nakanishi into the guardrail and then throws him into the ring post before sliding him back into the ring. Tenzan tags in Kojima, and he clubs Nakanishi in the back. Irish whip by Kojima to the corner and he hits a jumping forearm strike. He then goes up to the top turnbuckle and connects with the diving elbow drop. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Irish whip by Kojima, he hits a drop toehold, and Tenzan follows that with a falling headbutt. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Kojima picks up Nakanishi, Tenzan goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a Mongolian Chop. Kojima and Tenzan go for a double vertical suplex, but Nakanishi reverses it and then tags in Nagata.
Nagata kicks Kojima repeatedly in the chest, Tenzan charges him, but Nagata plants him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Nagata and Kojima trade full nelson holds before Kojima hits the Koji Cutter. Lariat to the back by Kojima, he goes for one from the front, but Nagata ducks it and drops him with a release German suplex. Nagata then applies the Nagata Lock II, but Tenzan quickly breaks it up. Kojima holds Nagata for Tenzan, Tenzan hits Mongolian Chop and then goes off the ropes, but Nakanishi grabs his legs from the outside and Nagata re-applies the Nagata Lock II while Nakanishi puts Tenzan in the Argentine Backbreaker on the outside. Tenzan gets out of it though and runs back in the ring to break up the submission. Nagata tags in Nakanishi, Nakanishi hits Kojima with a spear and then delivers a jumping knee to Tenzan. Nakanishi gives Tenzan a backbreaker, picks him up, but Kojima is back in the ring. Nakanishi drops Tenzan and charges Kojima, but Kojima catches him with a Rydeen Bomb. Nakanishi tags in Nagata, but Tenzan immediately drops him with a Mountain Bomb. Irish whip by Tenzan on Nagata from the corner and he hits him with a running strike. Spinebuster by Kojima, Tenzan goes to the top turnbuckle, and he hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but Nakanishi breaks it up. Kojima runs over and hits Nakanishi with a lariat, and then he delivers an avalanche-style Koji Cutter while Tenzan hits Nagata with a TTD. Cover by Tenzan on Nagata, but it gets a two count. Tenzan positions Nagata in the middle of the ring, goes to the top turnbuckle, and nails the moonsault. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima
Match Thoughts: To help put this in perspective, all four of these wrestlers were no longer “young lions” and were part of accomplished tag teams, but none of them would win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for another 3 years after this. So they were all respectable heavyweights, but hadn’t reached the highest tier yet. Anyway, this was a perfectly fine match, although unspectacular. Neither team got along too great, although Tenzan and Kojima had their act together by the end of the match. Nakanishi and Nagata both get a lot of hate from wrestling fans, but I still don’t know why as they were both solid in this match. While the match was void of any notable moments, it did establish Kojima and Tenzan as the top dogs of their generation as they won in convincing fashion. Score: 6.5
Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Minoru Tanaka
This is a New Japan vs. BattlARTS match. They shake hands before the match starts. Tie-up, Tanaka goes for the cross armbreaker, but Takaiwa picks him up to get out of it. Dropkick by Tanaka, Takaiwa rolls out of the ring, Tanaka gets a running start and sails out of the ring with a pescado. After a moment Takaiwa gets back into the ring, waistlock by Tanaka, but Takaiwa reverses it with a wristlock. Chop by Takaiwa, Irish whip, and he hits a running elbow strike. Snapmare by Takaiwa and he applies a reverse chinlock. Tanaka struggles to his feet and manages to apply a chinlock of his own. Tanaka goes for the cross armbreaker again, but Takaiwa muscles out of it and goes for a crab hold. Tanaka blocks it and applies an ankle lock, but Takaiwa makes it to the ropes and Tanaka breaks the hold. Back up, Irish whip by Tanaka and he delivers a dropkick. Tanaka again goes for the cross armbreaker, but Takaiwa gets into the ropes. Both men get back to their feet, waistlock by Tanaka and he applies another grounded ankle lock. Takaiwa gets back to his feet though and lariats Tanaka to the mat. Takaiwa picks up Tanaka, scoop slam, and he connects with a running knee drop. Takaiwa picks up Tanaka again, but Tanaka kicks him in the stomach and hits a snap suplex. Knee drop by Tanaka, cover, but it only gets a one count.
In the middle of the ring, Tanaka goes for the armbreaker, but Takaiwa gets on top of him and forearms him in the face. Takaiwa throws Tanaka into the corner and kicks him repeatedly in the midsection. Irish whip, and Takaiwa lariats Tanaka in the corner. Takaiwa goes for a suplex, but Tanaka rolls him up for a two count. Spinning heel kick by Tanaka, he goes to the top turnbuckle and connects with a missile dropkick to the back of Takaiwa’s head. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Tanaka finally manages to apply the cross armbreaker, but Takaiwa is too close to the ropes and gets a foot on the bottom one. Tanaka kicks Takaiwa in the arm when he gets back up and applies an ankle lock, but Takaiwa makes it to the bottom rope. Takaiwa throws Tanaka into the corner, puts his leg over the middle rope and kicks him repeatedly in it. Tanaka gets a running start, but Takaiwa catches him with a powerslam. Brainbuster by Takaiwa, he picks up Tanaka and levels him with a forearm smash. He picks up Tanaka again and this time chops him back down to the mat. Back up, knees to the head by Takaiwa, he gets Tanaka up again and throws him into the corner. Irish whip by Takaiwa, reversed, Takaiwa goes for a lariat, but Tanaka ducks it and nails a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Cross armbreaker by Tanaka, but Takaiwa lifts him in the air and drops him with a Death Valley Bomb! Takaiwa waits for Tanaka to get up, goes off the ropes, and nails a lariat for a two count cover. Powerbomb by Takaiwa, he holds on and goes for a second one, but Tanaka reverses it with an ankle lock. Tanaka pulls Takaiwa back to the middle of the ring when he is close to making it to the ropes, but Takaiwa crawls back and this time gets a hold of the bottom rope. Tanaka picks up Takaiwa and goes for another dragon suplex, but Takaiwa blocks it and lariats Tanaka first from the back and then from the front. Takaiwa then delivers a pair of powerbombs before nailing the Death Valley Bomb for the three count pinfall! Your winner: Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Match Thoughts: A very solid match. Minoru Tanaka now wrestles as just Minoru in New Japan and was formally known as Heat. This was obviously pretty early in his career, but already he was showing a lot of promise. I think he goes for the cross armbreaker too often, but I have always thought that of him. It would seem to make more sense to do like Nagata does and throw in a few arm breakers and other arm submissions before going for the finisher. I don’t think at any point here Takaiwa was in any real danger of losing, as he handled the cross armbreakers very well and that is about all that Tanaka had. Takaiwa’s offense looked very good however and his Death Valley Bombs are some of the best in the world. Overall an entertaining match and one that shows that BattlARTS wrestlers were more then able to hang with New Japan wrestlers. Score: 7.0
(c) Kendo Kashin and Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Great Sasuke
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Wagner and Liger start things off. Tie-up, wristlock by Wagner, reversed by Liger, but Wagner rolls out of it and hits a monkey flip. Tie-up again, Wagner gets Liger into the corner, but he gives a clean break. Wagner does a little flip, but Liger charges in and hits a shotei. This sends Wagner to the apron, but Great Sasuke comes in the ring and connects with a cartwheel elbow strike, knocking Wagner to the floor. Liger and Great Sasuke then both hit baseball slides on Wagner before posing in the ring. Wagner eventually gets back in, but both he and Liger tag in their partners. Tie-up, wristlock by Kashin, but Great Sasuke flips out of it and snapmares Kashin to the mat. Kashin quickly gets back up, Great Sasuke snapmares him again, but again Kashin gets back to his feet. Kashin asks for a handshake, but he kicks Great Sasuke instead and sends him to the mat. Kashin then puts Great Sasuke’s head over the apron to hit an uppercut before getting Great Sasuke to the floor so that Wagner could deliver a cannonball off the apron. Back in the ring, Kashin goes for the cross armbreaker but Great Sasuke gets a foot on the ropes.
Kashin tags in Wagner, Irish whip by Wagner, and he delivers a dropkick. Wagner applies a submission hold on the mat, but Great Sasuke gets back to his feet. Wagner tags in Kashin, and Kashin applies a stretch hold before slapping on the camel clutch. Wagner runs in, goes off the ropes (presumably to dropkick Great Sasuke in the face), but Liger trips him up from the outside. Meanwhile, Great Sasuke reverses the hold on Kashin and it is Liger that dropkicks Kashin in the face. Great Sasuke picks up Kashin, snapmare, and he tags in Liger. Irish whip by Liger and he hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Romero Special by Liger, but Wagner breaks it up with a leg drop. Liger applies another stretch hold and tags in Great Sasuke. Double Irish whip to Kashin and they hit a double chop to the chest. Cover, but it gets a two count. Great Sasuke applies a reverse chinlock on the mat, but Wagner runs in to break it up. A single leg crab hold is applied by Great Sasuke, but Kashin makes it to the bottom rope. Scoop slam by Great Sasuke and he hits a leg drop for a two count cover. Liger is tagged back in, and he clubs Kashin in the arm. Irish whip by Liger and he applies an abdominal stretch. Great Sasuke then comes in the ring and kicks Kashin in the ribs while he is in the hold. Stomps to the back by Liger and he tags in Great Sasuke. Kashin fights back though and hits a series of uppercuts before tagging in Wagner. They set up Great Sasuke in the corner, dropkick by Wagner, and Kashin kicks Great Sasuke low. Wagner pulls down Great Sasuke and hits a DDT, cover, but it gets a two count.
Wagner applies a stretch hold, but after a moment releases the hold. The two trade chops, but Wagner headbutts Great Sasuke to the mat. Irish whip by Wagner, but Great Sasuke ducks the clothesline and hits a spinning heel kick. Cover, but it gets a two count pinfall. Scoop slam by Great Sasuke, he goes to the top turnbuckle but he misses the senton attempt. Double underhook powerbomb by Wagner, cover, but it gets a two count. Wagner picks up Great Sasuke and goes for a powerbomb, but Great Sasuke hurricanranas out of it and hits a moonsault off the second rope for a two count cover. Great Sasuke picks up Wagner and rolls him up, but Wagner barely kicks out. Again Great Sasuke gets Wagner to his feet and goes for a powerbomb, but Wagner slides down his back and lariats him in the back of the head. Wagner goes for a slam, but Great Sasuke reverses it with a hurricanrana for a two count pinfall. Waistlock by Great Sasuke, but Wagner hits a low blow to get out of it and lariats Great Sasuke to the mat. Wagner tags in Kashin, who hits a lariat of his own. Irish whip, reversed, but Kashin connects with the neckbreaker. Kashin picks up Great Sasuke, he goes off the ropes, but Great Sasuke catches him with a hurricanrana for a two count cover. Great Sasuke tags in Liger, double Irish whip from the corner, and Great Sasuke hits a diving clothesline off of Liger’s back.
Irish whip again, but Kashin ducks the shotei and slaps on the cross armbreaker while Wagner throws Great Sasuke out of the ring. Liger gets a foot on the bottom ropes though and Kashin breaks the hold. Kashin puts Liger on the top turnbuckle and goes for it again, but Liger pushes him off. Wagner comes in the ring though and nails the superplex on Liger. Great Sasuke comes in as well, but Kashin applies the cross armbreaker on him before letting it go so that he could tag in Wagner. Wagner comes in the ring with a body press off the top turnbuckle, cover, but it gets a two count. Wagner slaps Liger back into the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a lariat. Another Irish whip and lariat by Wagner and he nails a death valley driver for a two count cover. Back up, Wagner nails a Niagara Driver, cover, but Liger barely kicks out. Wagner calls for the end of the match, he picks up Liger to hit the Wagner Driver, but Great Sasuke comes in the ring with a missile dropkick on Wagner and then hits a moonsault off the top turnbuckle. Liger throws Kashin out of the ring, and Great Sasuke sails out after him with a brutal (for both) somersault tope suicida. Inside the ring, Liger hits the running Liger Bomb on Wagner, but it only gets a two count. Wagner slowly gets up, Liger goes off the ropes and delivers the shotei. Cover, but again it gets a two count pinfall. Liger picks up Wagner, puts him up on the top turnbuckle, and nails the avalanche-style brainbuster for the three count pinfall! Your winners and new champions: Jushin Thunder Liger and Great Sasuke
Match Thoughts: A really fun match, even if the crowd didn’t get into it until the final minute (which is normal at Tokyo Dome shows in response to Jr. Heavyweight matches). Liger and Great Sasuke were a dream team of sorts and having them win the title seemed like the natural thing to do. That is not a knock on Wagner and Kashin (even though I am not a big Kashin fan), but the fans obviously wanted (judging from the times they were vocal) to see new champions. This match was mostly about Wagner, oddly enough, as he controlled much of the action. Great Sasuke had his usual “I am trying to kill myself” spot but for the most part he wrestled a New Japan style match and wasn’t flying all over the ring. Of course, Liger looked good, and between Liger and Wagner the pacing in the match seemed just about perfect. It is also nice to see “new” talent at New Japan shows such as Wagner and Great Sasuke who were clearly not New Japan regulars. Besides the crowd not really reacting and Great Sasuke being restrained I have no real complaints, it was an entertaining match all around. Score: 7.5
(c) Koji Kanemoto vs. Shinjiro Otani
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, Kanemoto gets Otani into the ropes and goes for a slap, but Otani ducks it and headbutts Kanemoto. Irish whip by Otani, reversed, but Kanemoto hits an overhead suplex. Kicks to the chest by Kanemoto and he knocks down Otani in the corner. Snapmare by Kanemoto and he kicks Otani twice in the back. Back up, Kanemoto throws Otani in the corner and kicks him to the mat. Kanemoto picks up Otani and chops him back into the corner. Kanemoto goes off the ropes, but Otani dropkicks him in the knee. Otani begins working over Kanemoto’s knee and applies and pulls down his knee pad so he can apply additional pressure. Kanemoto makes it to the ropes, but Otani keeps hold of the leg and jumps down on it while it is against the bottom rope. Otani applies a leg submission hold before releasing it so he can kick Kanemoto in the leg. Kanemoto fires back with slaps and kicks, he picks up Otani and applies a reverse chinlock.
Elbow to the back of the head by Kanemoto and he goes for another kick, but Otani catches his leg and applies a modified single leg crab hold. After a moment Kanemoto makes it to the bottom rope, but Otani continues kicking on the leg. Otani twists Kanemoto’s leg across the bottom rope and yanks back on it until the referee forces him to break. Snapmare by Otani and he kicks Kanemoto in the back. On their feet again, Otani wraps Kanemoto’s leg in the top rope and kicks him repeatedly in the knee. Chops by Otani in the corner, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Kanemoto muscles to his feet though and hits a backdrop suplex, regaining control in the match. Kanemoto picks up Otani and hits an uppercut. Side headlock by Kanemoto, Otani tries to Irish whip out of it, but Kanemoto slams on the breaks. Otani succeeds the second time and the two collide with no result. Otani goes off the ropes, but they both go for back kicks and dropkicks with neither man hitting. Dropkick to the knee by Otani and he applies a leg lock on the mat. After a minute Kanemoto gets a hand on the ropes and he rolls out of the ring. Otani follows him up and kicks him over the guard rail. Otani goes out to get him, goes for a dragon suplex, but Kanemoto blocks it and gets back to ringside. Otani gets Kanemoto on to the apron and goes for a dragon suplex, but Kanemoto hangs onto the ropes. Headbutt to the back of the head by Otani, he goes to the adjacent apron and hits a springboard dropkick to Kanemoto, knocking Kanemoto to ringside. Otani slides Kanemoto back into the ring, goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick.
Kanemoto fires back with stomps however, scoop slam, he goes to the top turnbuckle, but Otani side steps the missile dropkick attempt. Kick to the head by Otani, scoop slam, but he waits for Kanemoto to get up. Otani goes out to the apron and goes for a springboard dropkick, but Kanemoto moves out of the way. Irish whip by Kanemoto and he kicks Otani in the knee. Kick to the arm by Kanemoto, he picks up Otani, Irish whip, and he kicks Otani in the knee again. Kanemoto applies a leg submission hold, but Otani makes it to the ropes. Kanemoto immediately pulls Otani back to the middle of the ring however and re-applies the hold, but again Otani reaches the ropes. Kick to the back of the head by Kanemoto and he pulls back on Otani’s leg. After releasing, Kanemoto goes for a kick, but Otani catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Otani puts Kanemoto into the corner, kicks him to the mat and nails the bootscrapes followed by the running kick. Otani puts him back in the corner and goes for another running kick, but Kanemoto catches his leg this time and suplexes him to the mat. Kanemoto picks up Otani, Irish whip, and he connects with an overhead suplex. Stomps to the chest by Kanemoto, but Otani catches one and headbutts him in the leg before hitting a running kick to it. Back up, Otani delivers a back kick and a running boot to the face. Otani then goes out to the apron and goes for a missile dropkick, but Kanemoto side steps it and applies a leg submission hold. After a moment Otani makes it to the ropes though and Kanemoto has to break the hold. Kanemoto chops Otani into the corner, puts him onto the top turnbuckle and delivers a Frankensteiner. Otani rolls through though and picks up a two count pinfall attempt. Moonsault by Kanemoto to a standing Otani, cover, but it gets a two count. Scoop slam by Kanemoto, but he misses the corkscrew senton. Missile dropkick from the apron for Otani, he goes for the dragon suplex, Otani blocks it, so he hits a tiger suplex hold instead for a two count. Otani goes up top, but Kanemoto is up in time and suplexes him back down to the mat. Dragon suplex hold by Kanemoto, but it only gets a two count as well. Both men go off the ropes and slap each other, with both wrestlers falling to the mat. Otani is up first, he goes for the dragon suplex, but Kanemoto wiggles out of it and applies a leg lock. Otani makes it to the ropes yet again and rolls into the corner, but Kanemoto gives Otani some bootscrapes. He goes for the running kick, but Otani is up and catches him with a dropkick followed by the Spiral Bomb. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Otani goes for another Spiral Bomb, but Kanemoto hurricanranas his way out of it. Ankle lock by Kanemoto, but Otani kicks his way out of it. Otani goes out to the apron and hits a springboard kneel kick followed by the dragon suplex hold, but it only gets a two count. Back up, they trade reversals, but Kanemoto delivers a kick to the chest of Otani. Tiger suplex hold by Kanemoto, but Otani barely kicks out in time. Kanemoto picks up Otani, scoop slam, he goes to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault! Cover, and Kanemoto picks up the three count victory. Your winner and still champion: Koji Kanemoto
Match Thoughts: A very good match, even though the wrestlers did nothing to sell their injured legs unless a move was being applied to it. I was also hoping that the leg work would mean something in the end of the match in some way, but it didn’t. It was still a fun match, it just irks me a little when such a large percentage of the match is mat work but the mat work is never sold and not a deciding factor in the match. It was stiff where it needed to be, but it wasn’t excessively. I was wondering what else Otani had up his sleeve, considering he had used his finishers without picking up the win, but I guess we will never know. Both wrestlers did well here and the match was very fluid from start to finish. Score: 7.2
Kazuo Yamazaki and Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Ishikawa and Alexander Otsuka
This is a New Japan vs. BattlARTS match. Fujita and Ishikawa start things off. Tie-up, Ishikawa goes for the crossface chickenwing, but Yamazaki quickly breaks it up. Otsuka runs in and takes care of Yamazaki with a German suplex though, Fujita gets a waistlock on Ishikawa and goes for the cross armbreaker, but Ishikawa fights out of it. Both men get back to their feet, tie-up, Fujita goes for a takedown but Ishikawa applies a front facelock. They jockey for position, but Fujita lifts up Ishikawa and drops him right on his head. Ishikawa gets back up fairly quickly and connects with an enzigieri. He goes for the cross armbreaker, but Fujita is too close to the ropes. Both men tag out, as Otsuka and Yamazaki face off. Tie-up, snapmare by Yamazaki, reversed into a hammerlock by Otsuka, but Yamazaki applies a reverse chinlock. Drop toehold into an ankle lock by Yamazaki, but Otsuka reverses it and Yamazaki gets a hand on the ropes. Back on their feet, tie-up, waistlock by Otsuka and he goes for a crab hold, but instead applies an ankle lock until Yamazaki gets to the ropes.
Otsuka tags in Ishikawa, arm drag by Ishikawa, but Yamazaki takes him down and applies a leg submission. Yamazaki tags in Fujita, who stomps Ishikawa on the mat. Scoop slam by Fujita, cover, but it only gets a two count. Tie-up, Fujita gets Ishikawa into the ropes, but Ishikawa gets the tag to Otsuka. Knee to the stomach by Otsuka, he goes for a vertical suplex which is blocked, so he applies an armbar until Fujita makes it to the bottom rope. Wristlock by Otsuka and he takes Fujita to the mat. Fujita goes for a cross armbreaker, but Otsuka makes it to the ropes. Fujita is slow to break, so Ishikawa runs over to stomp on him until he does. Fujita picks up Otsuka, goes off the ropes, and delivers a shoulderblock. He picks Otsuka back up, but Otsuka fights back with forearms and a dropkick. Fujita falls out of the ring, Otsuka contemplates doing a dive, but flips back in the ring instead. Fujita gets back up on the apron and Otsuka helps him back into the ring with a vertical suplex over the top rope. Otsuka applies the crab hold to Fujita, but Fujita muscles out of it. Otsuka goes for a dragon suplex, Fujita blocks it, but Otsuka applies a cross armbreaker instead. Otsuka tries to keep the move applied, but Fujita powerbombs his way out of it. Backdrop suplex by Fujita, he picks up Otsuka, but Otsuka gets out of the suplex attempt and applies a sleeper. Fujita tosses Otsuka down to the out of the sleeper, Otsuka tags in Ishikawa, but Fujita spears him to the mat. Ishikawa and Fujita trade blows, but Fujita tags in Yamazaki.
Yamazaki kicks Ishikawa repeatedly in the chest, but Ishikawa applies an ankle lock. Yamazaki makes it to the ropes, but Ishikawa pulls him to the middle of the ring and puts the submission hold back on. Again Yamazaki fights back, but again Ishikawa gets the hold applied again. Back up, Irish whip by Ishikawa, and Yamazaki gets the cross armbreaker applied. Fujita and Otsuka run in, but Fujita drops Otsuka on his head and Ishikawa has no choice but to tap out! Your winners: Kazuo Yamazaki and Kazuyuki Fujita
Match Thoughts: Two things stuck out about this match: the sudden ending and the fact that Fujita has no problem dropping people on their head. The ending literally came out of nowhere, there was virtually no build up for Yamazaki making Ishikawa tap out. I really like Otsuka, always have, and I would have loved to have seen him drop Fujita on his head just one time. Oh well. A pretty brutal match, but there really wasn’t much to it. Score: 5.8
(c) Kensuke Sasaki and Koshinaka vs. Fujinami and Genichiro Tenryu
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Koshinaka and Tenryu are in to start and they immediately charge each other. They trade strikes, with Tenryu getting the better of it. Headlock by Tenryu, Koshinaka Irish whips out of it, but Tenryu knocks him to the mat. Sasaki runs in to lariat Tenryu, and Koshinaka hits a series of hip attacks. Sasaki comes back in and they hit a double dropkick on Tenryu. Sasaki stays in the ring, he picks up Tenryu and delivers a vertical suplex. Koshinaka is tagged in, he slaps Tenryu, but Tenryu fires back with slaps of his own. Tenryu tags in Fujinami, tie-up, Fujinami gets Koshinaka into the corner and slaps him in the face. Back in the middle of the ring, tie-up, and Koshinaka takes Fujinami to the mat. Side headlock by Koshinaka and he tags in Sasaki. Fujinami slaps a side headlock on Sasaki and takes him down with it. Sasaki tries to Irish whip out of it, but Fujinami hangs on. Sasaki finally throws Fujinami to the mat to get out of the hold, Sasaki gets Fujinami into the ropes and he gives a clean break.
Waistlock by Fujinami, reversed by Sasaki and he goes for a sleeper into an armbreaker. Fujinami again gets out of it and takes Sasaki to the mat, applying a leg submission hold. Snapmare by Sasaki, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Sasaki tags in Koshinaka, but Fujinami drags Koshinaka into the ring and tags in Tenryu. Koshinaka goes off the ropes, but Tenryu catches him with an enzigieri when he goes for the hip attack. Another enzigieri by Tenryu, he picks up Koshinaka and throws him out to the ramp. He tries to suplex Koshinaka back into the ring, and eventually succeeds in doing so. Elbow drop by Tenryu and he tags in Fujinami. Scoop slam by Tenryu and ff comes off the top turnbuckle with a knee drop. Fujinami picks up Koshinaka, scoop slam, and he applies a scissors hold. Koshinaka gets a foot on the rope, Fujinami picks up Koshinaka and cranks his neck before tagging in Tenryu. Chops by Tenryu and he applies a stretch hold, but Sasaki breaks it up. Irish whip by Tenryu, and he nails a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Tenryu tags in Fujinami, he slaps Koshinaka, Koshinaka fights back, but Fujinami strikes him to the mat. Fujinami goes back to the submission holds and the two trade strikes on the mat.
Fujinami throws Koshinaka into the corner and tags in Koshinaka. Chops by Tenryu, he picks up Koshinaka and gives him a series of guh punches. Scoop slam by Tenryu, he goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Sasaki runs in and suplexes him off. Dropkick by Koshinaka, and he tags in Sasaki. Dropkick by Sasaki and Tenryu tags in Fujinami. Sasaki catches Fujinami with a powerslam as he runs in and he lariats Tenryu off the apron just for fun. Scorpion Deathlock by Sasaki, but Fujinami makes it to the ropes. Sasaki chops Fujinami into the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a running face crusher. Sasaki goes off the ropes, but Tenryu kicks him from the apron. Fujinami hits a backdrop on Sasaki and he makes the tag to Tenryu. Tenryu picks up Sasaki and hits a backdrop suplex of his own, cover, but it gets a two count. Scoop slam by Tenryu, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a jumping back elbow drop. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Tenryu picks up Sasaki, throws him in the corner and tags in Fujinami. Scoop slam by Fujinami, cover, but Sasaki gets a foot on the bottom rope. Fujinami picks up Sasaki and kicks him down in the corner before tagging in Tenryu. Chops by Tenryu along with guh punches, but Sasaki absorbs the chops and fires back with his own. Sasaki wins the chop battle and tags in Koshinaka. Koshinaka gives Tenryu a few slaps and elbows, but Tenryu makes the tag to Fujinami. Irish whip by Koshinaka, but Fujinami avoids the dropkick and hits own of his own.
Koshinaka falls out of the ring, Sasaki lariats Fujinami from behind and then Koshinaka hits a diving hip attack on Tenryu from the apron. Koshinaka then goes to the top turnbuckle and goes for a hip attack on Fujinami, Fujinami catches him, but Koshinaka hits a jawbreaker. Irish whip by Koshinaka to the corner, but Fujinami rolls him up for a two count. Enzigieri by Fujinami and he makes the tag to Tenryu. Tenryu lariats Koshinaka to the mat, picks him up, and hits an ugly powerbomb. Sasaki runs in though and gives Tenryu a Northern Lights Bomb before going back to his corner. Both men tag out, but Fujinami catches Sasaki with a dragon screw leg whip. Another dragon screw leg whip by Fujinami, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving knee drop to Sasaki’s leg. Koshinaka runs in to give Fujinami a hip attack, but Fujinami is still up first. He grabs Sasaki, but Sasaki delivers the ipponzei. Tenryu tries to give Sasaki an enzigieri, but Sasaki ducks and Fujinami gets hit. Sasaki slams Fujinami to the mat, cover, but it gets a two count. Sasaki tags in Koshinaka, who gives Fujinami a pair of hip attacks. Fujinami avoids the third and rolls him up, but it gets a two count. Koshinaka hits a powerbomb on Fujinami, cover, but it gets a two count. Koshinaka picks up Fujinami again, gives him another one, and he picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners and still champions: Kensuke Sasaki and Koshinaka
Match Thoughts: A decent match, but it was surprisingly sloppy and disjointed considering who was in the ring. The powerbombs ranged from weak looking to botched altogether, a Tenryu dive was missed by the camera and not sold anyway, the ipponzei was botched, and just in general they didn’t appear to be on the same page. The crowd was into it and the ending was logical, but the action itself was lacking. It didn’t really come across as a title match since none of the wrestlers in the ring came across as championship material by their performances here. Score: 4.6
(c) Keiji Mutoh vs. Don Frye
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Mutoh attacks Frye quickly when the bell rings with a dropkick, another dropkick by Mutoh, he hits a scoop slam and delivers a moonsault! Knee lock by Mutoh, but Frye makes it to the ropes and rolls out of the ring. He eventually gets back in, takedown by Frye and he slams Mutoh to the mat. Frye applies an arm submission hold, lifts Mutoh to his feet and delivers a suplex. Mutoh is up quickly though and takes Frye back to the mat, eventually applying an ankle lock. Frye reverses it into an ankle lock of his own as the two men jockey for position on the mat. Punches to the midsection by Frye and he applies a front facelock. Mutoh struggles to his feet though and hits a dragon screw leg whip, he goes for another one, but Frye connects with a punch to the face. Frye kicks and punches Mutoh in the leg and applies a knee lock. Mutoh makes it to the ropes though and Frye eventually lets go. Frye grabs Mutoh’s leg as he gets up and punches his ankle before picking him back up and kneeing him in the midsection. Mutoh catches him with a dragon screw leg whip though and then gives him another one. A third dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh and he applies the figure four leg lock. After struggling, Frye makes it to the ropes.
Back up, Mutoh kicks Frye in the leg and then dropkicks it. Dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh, he goes for the figure four again, but Frye punches him in the face. Forearms by Frye, and he applies the sleeper hold with a body scissors! Eventually Mutoh makes it to the ropes, but again Frye is slow to let go of the hold. Frye picks up Mutoh and hits a series of punches before re-applying the sleeper hold, but Mutoh delivers an ipponzei to get out of it. Headbutts by Mutoh, Frye punches him back, and the two trade strikes. Mutoh suddenly hits another dragon screw leg whip and goes for the submission hold again, but Frye gets on top and hits a series of punches. Frye pulls Mutoh in the middle of the ring and delivers more mounted punches, but Mutoh catches one of his punches and slaps on the cross armbreaker! Frye has no choice but to tap out! Your winner and still champion: Keiji Mutoh
Match Thoughts: All this match had going for it was the great crowd reaction, for the action itself was average at best. To say the crowd was going nuts would be an understatement, rarely have I seen a wrestler in Japan get such a negative reaction as Frye got and the heat stayed for the entire match. The match itself was very mat based, but dull at times as it seemed like they weren’t really putting a lot of effort into making the moves look real. The ending came out of no where, but it did make some sense in the mat-based style that they were wrestling. If the crowd had been dead this match would have been pretty unwatchable, but as it was it was an acceptable match. Score: 5.2
Oddly enough, the “big” matches weren’t very good but the matches inbetween make this event worth watching. The Onita match was an interesting spectacle but overall disappointing. The last two matches weren’t very good either, even though the crowd was into both matches. But the two Jr. Championship matches were both very good, as was the first BattlARTS match. Since I rarely give one event three matches with a rating over 7 I am going to have to give this a solid recommendation, but I can’t give it my highest since the last few matches were a bit lacking.
If you read this far, you get a cookie: Here is a clip of Great Sasuke’s dive to the outside of the ring: Great Sasuke’s Dive
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks.