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Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, Japan – Friday, January 4, 2008
MATCH #1: Christian Cage, AJ Styles & Petey Williams vs. Milano Collection AT, Minoru & Prince Devitt
Styles is currently one half of the TNA World Tag Team Champions. He and Minoru start the match. They go back and forth a bit and Styles strikes first with The Dropkick. Minoru comes back with a dropkick of his own that sends Styles to the floor. Back in the ring tags are made to Williams and AT. The pace stays quick and AT is able to take control. The NJPW team isolates Williams in their half of the ring. Cage and Devitt tag in, and Devitt shows off his incredible agility. Momentum continues to shift back and forth between these two evenly mached teams. Cage catches Devitt with an Implant DDT for a two-count. Styles tags in and goes to work. Team TNA isolates Devitt from his partners and they heel it up a bit. Monoru gets a tag and the NJPW team regains control. The referee loses control and bodies are flying all over the place. Back in the ring the offense continues to come from all over at a rapid rate. Williams hits Devitt with the Canadian Destroyer but cannot go for a cover. AT goes after Petey and Styles tries to help out but accidentally hits his partner. Even with the miscommunication, Styles is able to catch AT in the Styles Clash to get the pin at 10:30. That was an ideal opener, with six guys capable of pulling out big moves and getting the crowd into it, at least as into it as a Japanese crowd would be.
MATCH #2: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match – “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels vs. Wataru Inoue
Inoue has been the Champion since 12.8.07, and this is his first defense. Daniels takes the early advantage and goes to work on the Champion. Inoue quickly fights back and dominates Daniels with an offensive flurry. He sends Daniels to the floor and wipes him out with a house show dive. Inoue goes for a chop but Daniels ducks and he connects with the ring post. Daniels pounces and rams the Champ into the ring post. Back in the ring Daniels keeps Inoue on the mat, working over his midsection. Inoue won’t stop fighting though, unleashing on Daniels with chops and then a dropkick from the second rope for two. He follows with a Back Drop Driver for another near-fall. Daniels hits a uranage slam and the Best Moonsault Ever for two, and he rolls that into a Koji Clutch. Inoue slips out and into a cradle for two. Daniels takes him right back down but Inoue puts on a stepover armbar. A series of reversals ends with Daniels landing an enziguiri. Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings but Inoue back body drops his way out of it. Both men rise and trade strikes, and Inoue hits the 2K1 Bomb for a near-fall. Inoue misses a charge in the corner but connects with a Spear. He hits a sitout 2K1 Bomb to get the pin and retain at 10:17. This was a solid back and forth contest, but after Daniels’ early midsection work it pretty much dropped any pretense of an internal story and just turned into moves. Well executed moves of course, but just moves.
MATCH #3: Abyss vs. Manabu Nakanishi
These two brawlers charge at each other right away and it’s a brawl from the get-go. Nakanishi knocks Abyss to the floor, but Abyss pulls him out and throws him into the post a couple of times. They brawl around ringside and make their way up the ramp, where Abyss hits a bodyslam. Abyss finds a bag of thumbtacks and spreads them across the ramp. Of course it backfires when Nakanishi is able to bulldog Abyss right into his own tacks. They make it back to the ring and Abyss is bleeding from the arm and hand. Even so, Abyss hits a Chokeslam for two. Abyss crushes Nakanishi in the corner. Nakanishi pops out of the corner with a Spear, and then hits a bodyslam. He follows with a release German Suplex, and then a traditional German Suplex to get the pin at 5:58, even though Abyss’ shoulders weren’t down at all. At least Tenay mentions that the shoulder was up. There wasn’t much going on here outside of the usual Abyss stuff, and the finish was hella lame to boot.
MATCH #4: Hardcore Match – Team 3D vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
Makabe and Yano attack Brother Ray and Brother Devon before the bell and here we go. Team 3D fights back with suplexes and such. The match settles into one man from each team in the ring, and it’s Devon working on Makabe. Ray tags in and he wants Yano. That proves costly for Ray, as he takes a Spear. Makabe and Yano introduce weapons into the match, and even hit Devon with a spiked piledriver out on the floor. I love how they just throw that in this early in th ematch, like it shouldn’t be a death spot. Makabe and Yano continue to control the action, wearing Devon down. Eventually Devon fights back with a simultaneous clothesline on both of his opponents and he makes the hot tag. Ray is a house afire, using a ladder as an effective weapon. Team 3D brings in a table but Makabe and Yano avoid it. More hardcore brawling ensues, and Team 3D hits the 3D to get the win at 13:18. In case you can’t tell, I really lost interest in that, as it was just the usual repetetive hardcore nonsense from Ray and Devon.
MATCH #5: IWGP Tag Team Title Match – The Steiner Brothers vs. Tomko & Giant Bernard
Bernard and Tomko have been the Champions since 3.11.07, and this is their fifth defense. Tomko is also one half of the TNA World Tag Team Champions along with AJ Styles. Scott and Tomko start the match. Things quickly get heated between these former TNA tag team partners, as the heavy strikes come early and often. Scott hits a belly-to-belly suplex and then tags are made. Rick uses a headlockto try and wear Bernard down. Bernard is so big and intimidating, it blows my mind how badly WWE blew his comeback in 2012. Rick hits an exploder suplex for two. Scott knocks Tomko off the apron and Rick sends Bernard to the floor, and the Steiners do their signature pose. Tomko comes back in and unloads on Rick, but Scott pulls the top rope down and Tomko crashes to the floor. Scott throws Tomko into the barricade and the ring post before tossing him back in the ring. The Steiners work Tomko over, keeping him away from Bernard. Scott hits Tomko with a super belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. After several minutes of abuse Tomko is able to catch Rick with a snap powerslam. Bernard gets the tag and he is a house afire. The referee loses control and all four men are in the ring. Scott hits Tomko with a super Frankensteiner for two. He then almost kills Bernard on a suplex attempt. Scott clotheslines Bernard to the floor. The Steiners hit the Doomsday Bulldog, but Rick actually takes out the referee just by standing up. That’s new. For some reason Bernard gets in Jeff Jarrett’s face at ringside. Back in the ring things are just getting messy and falling apart. Jarrett tries to hit Bernard with a guitar but Toru Yano stops him and ends up taking the guitar shot instead. The Champs hit Rick with the Magic Killer to get the pin at 12:49. That started off okay but it just got sloppy about halfway through and they couldn’t recover.
MATCH #6: IWGP Championship Match – Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata
Angle has been the Champion since 6.29.07, and this is his third defense. Angle attacks before the bell and we’re off and running. He quickly unleashes a belly-to-belly suplex, and Nagata fires back with one of his own. Angle takes a powder as Nagata is fired up. Back in the ring Naga takes it down to the mat and dominates, so Angle bails again. This time Angle is able to absorb and avoid Nagata’s attacks and he hits another belly-to-belly suplex. Nagata fires back with a hard back elbow. Angle goes after the leg and Nagata immediately rolls to the floor to break the momentum. Unfortunately for him, Angle follows him to the floor and continues to attack the leg. Back in the ring Angle smells blood and really goes after Nagata’s injured limb. Angle puts on a Figure-Four Leglock and Nagata turns it over twice, but Angle is able to turn it right back around. Finally Nagata reaches the ropes to break the hold. Angle goes right back to the leg, but Nagata is able to counter into a vicious armbar. They take a commercial break, and when they come back Angle is hitting rolling German Suplexes. Nagata avoids an Angle Slam and hits an exploder for two. He follows with a vertical suplex and then a brainbuster. Angle tries to sweep the leg but Nagata counters him and puts on a Crossface. They both counter each other again and we’re back to the Crossface, with Angle struggling to escape. Eventually Angle rolls out of it and right into the Angle Slam for a two-count. Angle goes up top and misses the moonsault. Nagata hits a running knee to the face and then a super belly-to-belly suplex for two. He goes right back to the Crossface and turns it into a cradle for a two-count. Both men rise and exchange strikes. Angle wins that battle with a hard clothesline and both men are down. Back to their feet Nagata hits a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Nagata tries a superkick but Angle catches it and puts on a vicious Ankle Lock, forcing Nagata to tap out at 16:11 (shown). That was tremendous stuff, intense brawling, intricate counters, a hot crowd. They kept up an impressive pace throughout, and really made it feel like a big match. I wish they had shown the uncut version of the match, but such is life.
Tags: AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, TNA, Yuji Nagata