AJPW Battle Banquet 2004
review by Suicidal Youth

Kaz Hayashi vs. Katsushi Takemura
A good Jr. Heavyweight Title bout to begin the show. Kaz has to worry about the CTU at ringside, as well as his opponent in the ring. He gets Pearl Harbored early on, and Takemura takes the advantage. To the outside they go, with Hayashi getting tossed around, and Body Slammed onto the concrete floor. Back in the ring, it's obvious that Kaz is the better of the two, but he still falters, and gets Belly to Belly Suplexed, and back to the outside they go. Takemura gets a Vertical Suplex onto the exposed concrete. Hayashi fires up eventually and lands a Quebrada. CTU has enough of just standing around, and lays the boots to Hayashi on the floor. The ref has enough, and sends them packing. Takemura is still in control, and nails two Koppu Kicks, with the second sending Kaz off the apron onto the exposed concrete again. The final stage of the match is excellent, with both men countering each other at every point. The ref gets bumped just as Hayashi nails the WA4 and the Final Cut. Takemura won't go down easily, nailing a Spinning Vertabreaker for a two count. MASADA comes in with a board shot to Hayashi as Takemura goes up top, and Kaz sends MASADA into the ropes, knocking Takemura down, and allowing Hayashi to take the win with an Avalanche WA4. ***1/4

Osamu Nishimura vs. Keiji Mutoh
This was quite interesting. I haven't seen Nishimura before, so I don't know his story, but these two seemed very respectful to one another. Some nice matwork to open up, with Mutoh laying on a nice Headscissors Hold, in which Osamu escapes in a very cool way. Osamu catches Keiji in an Abdominal Stretch, which is escaped when Mutoh practically carries him to the ropes, and sends him to the apron. Nishimura comes back in with a Sunset Flip, and Mutoh uses that opportunity to fire off the first Shining Wizard of the match. Mutoh then Dropkicks the knee, and works on a Figure Four Leglock, which was rather awkward after awhile. After that's broken up, Mutoh goes for another Wizard, but it's blocked, and it's Osamu's turn to work over the knee, which included the Funk Spinning Toe Hold. A Knee Drop misses, and Mutoh nails another Shining Wizard. He goes back to the Figure Four, but it's countered twice, and Mutoh eventually gets the message. Backslide by Osamu is rolled out of, and Mutoh nails Shining Wizard #3. One more Shining Wizard is enough to secure the three count for Mutoh. **3/4

Genichiro Tenryu and Masanobu Fuchi vs. Arashi and Nobutaka Araya
This might seem like a throwaway match, so to speak, but it's worth watching just to see Tenryu and Fuchi kill these guys. Fuchi is worked over in the early stages of the match, and Araya makes the mistake of taking a cheapshot at Tenryu on the apron. You know he's going to die for that. Sheerdrop Brainbuster that should have killed Fuchi by Araya, and Tenryu breaks up the cover with a kick to the face. I TOLD YOU!!!! Araya fires at Tenryu, and is subsequently punched for his trouble. Fuchi then goes apeshit with Backdrop Suplexes before tagging in Tenryu. Both Arashi and Araya try to Lariat Tenryu down, but Tenryu won't budge, and takes it to both men. Araya takes a SICK German Suplex, but fires back with a Lariat that sends Tenryu to the mat. 53 Year Old gets a two count, as Arashi breaks it up. Fuchi is back, and he and Tenryu destroy their opponents, giving both a Ganmengiri/Enzugiri double team move, before Araya gets his head sent into the second row with a Lariat. Tenryu ends the brutality with another 53 Year Old. **1/4

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Satoshi Kojima
For someone who left All Japan to die four years prior to this event, the fans sure gave Misawa a hero's welcome. They get into an exchange of Elbow Strikes, which Misawa wins with ease. Kojima gives Misawa a clean break in the ropes, but Misawa doesn't return the favor. They battle for control in the ring, and Kojima strikes with a DDT. Misawa takes two brutal German Suplexes, and Kojima nails Misawa with his own Tiger Driver. To the outside they go, where Kojima nails a Plancha. They climb to the apron, where Misawa teases a Tiger Driver, but Kojima escapes, and nails the Koji Cutter off the apron to the floor!!!! Koji goes for a Powerbomb, but Misawa counters, and sends Koji flying into the guardrail with a Hurricanrana. Back in the ring, Misawa dominates the match for the most part. Koji fights back with a Koji Cutter, but Misawa nails a German Suplex to put him back down. However, Koji isn't deterred, and nails another Koji Cutter. He's finally shut down with a Release Tiger Suplex. Misawa horridly botches his Rope Flip, and Koji covers it nicely with a Lariat to Misawa's legs, resulting in a nasty bump to the floor!! Back inside, Kojima fires off a Top Rope Koji Cutter, and a nasty Sheerdrop Brainbuster for a two. Misawa recovers, and puts Koji in an Armbar to weaken his Lariat arm. Misawa nails his Tope Elbow Strike, and then proceeds to destroy Koji with a SICK Tiger Driver off the apron!!!! Back inside, Koji starts firing off the Lariats, but they can't keep Misawa on the mat for long. Misawa nails the Emerald Flowsion, but it only gets two!!!! The Lariat can't get the job done for Kojima. Misawa dusts off the Tiger Driver '91 to put the match away. ***1/2

Toshiaki Kawada vs. Takao Omori
Another great match to end the event, although the fans were pretty burnt out after the previous match. Judging from the clips of what led up to this match, these two have a great deal of animosity toward each other, so this should be nice and stiff. Kawada eventually tires of working on the mat for the moment, and simply kicks the hell out of Omori. Kawada's leg seems to be hurt, and Omori goes to town, even pushing the referee back to pound on Kawada, and Kawada sells it like a god damn king, even unable to stand back up for some time. The doctor is called to look at Kawada's knee, but the match continues, with Kawada fighting off the pain momentarily to kick Omori's face (and the rest of him) over the guardrail. They tease several moves from the apron, such as the Tiger Driver and the Axe Guillotine Driver. Kawada tires of this, and knocks Omori silly with a Ganmengiri. A pair on Dangerous Backdrops by Kawada get two, and Kawada works the Stretch Plum. Omori comes back with a vicious Piledriver that looked like it killed Kawada. Takao goes after the neck to set up for the Axe Bomber or the Axe Guillotine Driver. They exchange Axe Bombers and Ganmengiris before Omori gets a two count. The AGD is avoided, and Kawada spikes Takao with the Dangerous DDT for a two, and a Folding Powerbomb Pin gets two. A second Powerbomb is countered into the Axe Guillotine Driver, which almost got the three. Kawada won't be denied, and nails another Dangerous Backdrop, and puts it away with a Running Kick to the Face. ***1/2

Overall: A fantastic show. This is my first exposure to post-split All Japan, and it delivered. I'm glad to see these guys have gotten AJPW back on its feet after being left for dead. Highly recommended show.

Back to All Japan Event Reviews