All Japan Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku
review by Kevin Wilson

Date: August 27th, 2006
Attendance: 12,000
Location: Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

What a supershow this was for All Japan. As most people that follow the promotion know, in the last six years All Japan has lost their high status in Japan and are no longer viewed as one of the top two promotions (New Japan and NOAH clearly are). At times American fans make the mistake of thinking that All Japan isn't third in overall popularity until they do a show like this one and draw around 10,000 fans, something that Dragon Gate and Big Japan are not able to do. So even though the promotion has lost some of its luster, it is still All Japan and even though the promotion has morphed into something that is very different then Baba's All Japan, it is still very entertaining. This show has a number of big matches, including Hase's retirement match, GREAT MUTA against Tajiri, and Kea defending the Triple Crown Championship against Kawada. This will be the biggest All Japan show of the year and I assure you that they will pull out all the stops to make it entertaining. Here is the full card:

- AHII vs. Voodoo Mask
- Masanobu Fuchi, AKIRA, and Ryuji Hijikata vs. Nobutaka Araya, Nobukazu Hirai, and Kikutaro
- Akira Raijin vs. RO'Z
- D-Lo Brown, Buchanan, and TAKA Michinoku vs. Minoru Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai, and MAZADA
- All Japan World Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Shuji Kondo vs. Kaz Hayashi
- All Japan Triple Crown Championship: Taiyo Kea vs. Toshiaki Kawada
- Hiroshi Hase Retirement: Hiroshi Hase, Satoshi Kojima, and Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. TARU, Suwama, and "brother" YASSHI

Before the first match starts, just to let you know that these two are Yoshitsune and Kagetora, they are just wrestling under masks.

AHII vs. Voodoo Mask
AHII comes out first and dances with his spicy ladies until Voodoo Mask finally makes his entrance. Voodoo Mask charges AHII to start the match and punches him back into the corner. Irish whip by Voodoo Mask, reversed, AHII charges Voodoo Mask, but Voodoo Mask back bodydrops him out onto the apron. AHII kicks Voodoo Mask from the apron and flips his way back into the ring. Leapfrog by AHII, he then does a backflip to avoid Voodoo Mask and headscissors him out of the ring. AHII then gets out onto the apron and hits a corkscrew Asai Moonsault, with him landing on the table on the other side of the railing. AHII gets back into the ring and Voodoo Mask eventually follows. Irish whip by AHII, reversed, and Voodoo Mask kicks AHII low. Stomps to the back by Voodoo Mask and he applies a stretch hold on the mat. AHII kicks his way out of it, but Voodoo Mask catches him as he comes off the ropes and applies an abdominal stretch. Lariat by Voodoo Mask, he picks up AHII and hits a vertical suplex. Voodoo Mask goes up to the second turnbuckle, but AHII springs up and hits a Frankensteiner. AHII goes up to the top turnbuckle, flips off when Voodoo Mask charges, hits a superkick, and then nails the satellite DDT. Cover, but Voodoo Mask kicks out at two. AHII goes off the ropes, but Voodoo Mask catches his hurricanrana attempt and powerbombs him to the mat. Cover, but AHII kicks out. Kick to the stomach by Voodoo Mask and he delivers the John Woo. Voodoo Mask picks up AHII, Irish whip, but AHII rebounds off the ropes and hits a hurricanrana. 619 by AHII over the top rope, he stays out on the apron, and just about kills Voodoo Mask with an ultra hurricanrana! Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: AHII

Match Thoughts: A really fun way to open the show. Yes, it was way too short and I would have loved to have seen them go longer, but the card was already stacked and they just wanted an opening match to get the crowd excited. I love AHII/Yoshitsune, as everyone probably knows by now, and it was great seeing him be so crisp and fluid on the big stage. The finish was sick, which at least gave the match a logical reason to go so short. I wouldn't have minded another five minutes, but they accomplished their goal. Score: 6.0

Masanobu Fuchi, AKIRA, and Ryuji Hijikata vs. Nobutaka Araya, Nobukazu Hirai, and Kikutaro
AKIRA and Hirai start things off. Tie-up, waistlock by Hirai, reversed into a wristlock by AKIRA, but Hirai reverses it back. AKIRA flips out of the hold, side headlock by Hirai, AKIRA Irish whips out of it but Hirai shoulderblocks him down. Hirai goes off the ropes but AKIRA catches him with a dropkick. Irish whip by AKIRA, reversed, and Hirai delivers a powerslam. Hirai tags in Kikutaro while AKIRA tags in Hijikata. Tie-up, side headlock by Kikutaro, Hijikata Irish whips out of it but a shoulderblock doesn't budge Kikutaro. Kikutaro goes off the ropes and tries a shoulderblock, but Hijikata doesn't move. Mid-kicks by Hijikata and he knocks Kikutaro to the mat. Kikutaro gets back up, but Hijikata manages to knock him back down again. Hijikata tags in Fuchi, Fuchi grabs Kikutaro and twists on his ankle. Kikutaro eventually gets to the ropes, Fuchi kicks him into the corner and then straddles his legs across the ropes. Fuchi shakes the ropes until Kikutaro falls off, kick to the stomach by Fuchi, but Kikutaro grabs his nose and twists it. Side headlock by Kikutaro, Fuchi Irish whips out of it, but Kikutaro kicks Fuchi when he pancakes and tags in Araya. Araya goes off the ropes but Fuchi catches him with a big boot. Araya goes off the ropes again with the same result, and a third time Fuchi kicks Araya back. Stomps in the corner by Fuchi and he straddles Araya along the top ropes before bouncing off the ropes to get Araya back off. Fuchi tags in AKIRA, AKIRA goes for a German suplex, Araya gets out of it, but AKIRA plants him with a DDT. Cover, but it is broken up by Kikutaro. Kikutaro then drags Araya back to his corner so that he could tag himself into the match.

Snapmare by Kikutaro on AKIRA, he goes off the ropes and delivers the Flash Elbow. Kikutaro throws AKIRA into the corner, Araya goes to the top turnbuckle to jump off, but Kikutaro applies a reverse chinlock instead. Araya comes in to bop Kikutaro in the head, so Kikutaro tags in Hirai. Running lariat by Hirai in the corner, Kikutaro hits one as well, but when Araya tries AKIRA kicks him back. Again Hijikata clotheslines AKIRA in the corner, Kikutaro is successful as well, but once again AKIRA boots Araya's attempt. Kikutaro and Hijikata help Araya back to the opposite corner, Irish whip him towards AKIRA so he can try again, but again he eats AKIRA's foot. Araya bops Kikutaro on the head again, but AKIRA catches Araya with a dropkick. Kikutaro kicks Araya out of the ring, while Hijikata goes to the top turnbuckle and drops an elbow onto AKIRA. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hirai, but AKIRA avoids his attack and connects with a spinning heel kick. This gives AKIRA time to tag in Hijikata, and Hijikata pelts Hirai with a series of kicks to the chest. High kick by Hijikata in the corner, snapmare, and he kicks Hirai in the chest. Cover, but it gets a two count. More kicks by Hijikata, he goes off the ropes, but Hirai catches him with an exploder. Hijikata tags in Fuchi while Hirai tags in Kikutaro, kicks by Fuchi an he goes for the backdrop suplex, but Kikutaro elbows out of it. Chops by Kikutaro, he goes off the ropes, but Fuchi catches him with a boot. Kikutaro goes off the ropes again, hesitates to avoid the big boot, but ends up getting hit with it anyway. Backdrop suplex by Fuchi, cover, but it is broken up. Fuchi boots Araya off the apron (he wasn't the one that broke it up), inside cradle by Fuchi, but it gets a two count. Then Kikutaro tries one, but Hijikata breaks it up. Vertical suplex by Hijikata and AKIRA delivers the Musasabi Press. Fuchi picks up Kikutaro, applies the inside cradle, and picks up the three count! Your winners: Masanobu Fuchi, AKIRA, and Ryuji Hijikata

Match Thoughts: This is one of those odd hybrid comedy/serious matches that are pretty common in the All Japan undercard as Kikutaro frequently makes his home there. When Kikutaro wasn't involved it was a straight match, but between his interactions with Fuchi and Araya a good percentage of the match was going for a chuckle. Which is ok with me, the parts with Araya were pretty entertaining and its good use of Fuchi at this stage of his career. I feel a bit sorry for those in the match that could have real matches but are stuck doing comedy instead, but when are you in a match with Kikutaro you know what you are going to get. Not bad, I wish they had just gone ahead and made it a full-fledged comedy match for those were the highlights of the match. Score: 5.5

Akira Raijin vs. RO'Z
Raijin charges RO'Z to start the match and punches him back into the corner. RO'Z pushes him to the mat to get him off, but Raijin ducks the lariat attempt. Raijin runs into RO'Z with no result and tries a series of chops, but again RO'Z isn't phased. Headbutts by Raijin, but RO'Z chops him to the mat. RO'Z picks up Raijin, Irish whip, and he delivers a back elbow. Again RO'Z gets Raijin to his feet and clubs him in the back. Scoop slam by RO'Z, he goes off the ropes and hits a leg drop. Cover, but it only gets a two count. RO'Z throws Raijin into the corner, Irish whip, but Raijin gets his foot up when RO'Z charges. Another kick by Raijin, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, but RO'Z just bounces back with a diving headbutt. RO'Z puts Raijin into the corner again, Irish whip, and he delivers a chokeslam. Arabian Press by RO'Z, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: RO'Z

Match Thoughts: A decent squash for a future Triple Crown challenger and we all know that Raijin isn't worth anything, but what concerned me here was that RO'Z was noticeably out of breath three minutes into the match. Now there have been plenty of great "big" wrestlers over the years, but with RO'Z is seems that he isn't just big but out of shape. A wrestler shouldn't look blown up in such a short match, I hope he gets some conditioning in before his title match. Besides that, it got the point across that RO'Z is a force to be reckoned with. Score: 4.0

D-Lo Brown, Buchanan, and TAKA Michinoku vs. Minoru Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai, and MAZADA
Michinoku and Suzuki start things off. Suzuki runs over to knock Buchanan and Brown off the apron and then tags in MAZADA. Tie-up, waistlock by MAZADA and he twists on Michinoku's ankle. MAZADA keeps the ankle hold applied and sits down on it, but Michinoku rolls out of it and applies a waistlock. They trade holds, side headlock takedown by MAZADA, but Michinoku gets out of it and both men are back on their feet. MAZADA and Michinoku trade chops, but Michinoku pokes MAZADA in the eyes. Irish whip by Michinoku, but MAZADA avoids the clothesline and dropkicks Michinoku in the knee. Shining Wizard by MAZADA, but Michinoku fires back with a jumping heel kick. MAZADA tags in Rongai while Michinoku tag in Buchanan. Rongai tries for a tie-up, but Buchanan is too tall, so Rongai goes to the top rope so he can match Buchanan's height. Buchanan replies by giving Rongai the claw and flinging him down to the mat. Buchanan tags in Brown and Brown hits a running splash to the corner. Snapmare by Brown and he delivers a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Slap to the face by Brown and he chops Rongai in the chest. Rongai gives Brown a chop of his own, but Brown wins the battle. Brown picks up Rongai and tags in Michinoku, but Rongai makes it back to his corner and tags in Suzuki. Tie-up, waistlock by Michinoku, but Suzuki reverses it into a wristlock and kicks Michinoku in the back. Stomp to the face by Suzuki and he tags in Rongai. Punches to the midsection by Rongai, MAZADA runs in the ring and they hit a quick series of double team moves. Suzuki then comes in, goes off the ropes multiple times and slaps Michinoku in the face. MAZADA stays in, but he quickly tags in Rongai.

Chops to the chest by Rongai in the corner and Suzuki applies an armbar through the ropes while Michinoku is being choked. MAZADA applies one on the other side as well, but the referee eventually gets them off. Headbutt by Rongai and he rakes Michinoku in the eyes. Irish whip by Rongai and he hits a running lariat in the corner. MAZADA then hits one as well, and Suzuki follows with a slap. Rongai picks up Michinoku and chops him in the corner. Double Irish whip to Michinoku and he is kicked to the mat. MAZADA and Rongai continue to double team him, cover by Rongai, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Rongai to the corner, but Michinoku avoids the charge and hits a trio of high kicks. This gives him time to tag in Buchanan, who drops a series of elbows on Rongai. Knee drop by Buchanan, cover, but Suzuki breaks it up. Knees to the midsection by Buchanan and he does the top rope walking claw into an STO. Cover, but again Suzuki breaks it up. Buchanan tags in Brown, Brown goes for a Tombstone, but Rongai headscissors his way out of it and makes the tag to MAZADA. Irish whip by MAZADA, reversed, and Brown hits a swinging sidewalk slam. Cover, but Suzuki breaks it up. Buchanan runs in to take care of Suzuki, Brown slams MAZADA in front of the corner and goes for a moonsault, but MAZADA rolls out of the way. By now Suzuki has broken free and he applies a sleeper on Brown. MAZADA hits a Shining Wizard while Brown is still in the hold, cover, but Michinoku breaks it up. Suzuki kicks Michinoku and slaps him in the face, but Michinoku ducks the running slap and Suzuki hits MAZADA. Brown then hits a cutter on Rongai, Michinoku Driver II by Michinoku on MAZADA, and Brown finishes him with the Low Down for the three count! Your winners: D-Lo Brown, Buchanan, and TAKA Michinoku

Match Thoughts: A fun match, its matches like this that you generally don't see in NOAH and New Japan that make All Japan special. It's not about "work rate" here, per se, but about the good guys overcoming the cheating and evil bad guys to pick up the win. MAZADA and Rongai are clearly the weak links of their team, but they are a good team in that they work together to overcome the fact that they aren't very good. Suzuki mostly slapped people here and was generally an asshole, but that is what Suzuki does. Oddly the RO&D team didn't do a lot of team work, but once they got rid of Suzuki they had little trouble winning the match. This type of match won't change the world, but it is perfect for an undercard feud as it keeps the show interesting leading up to the big matches. Score: 6.5

(c) Shuji Kondo vs. Kaz Hayashi
This match is for the All Japan Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, Kondo pushes Hayashi back into the corner and gives a clean break. Tie-up again, wristlock by Kondo, but Hayashi reverses it and takes Kondo to the mat. Wristlock by Hayashi, Kondo reverses it though and both men get back to their feet. They tie-up, Kondo pushes Hayashi to the mat and holds his arms down for a one count cover. He does it again, but Hayashi bridges up. Hayashi gets back to his feet with a quick headscissors and a second one sends Kondo out of the ring. After getting a running start, Hayashi sails out onto Kondo with a somersault tope suicida. Hayashi slides Kondo back into the ring, Irish whip by Hayashi and he drops Kondo onto the bottom rope before connecting with a quick moonsault from the turnbuckle. Snapmare by Hayashi and he applies a reverse chinlock. Hayashi then slaps on a crossface submission, but Kondo makes it to the ropes. Elbow to the back of the head by Hayashi, he charges Kondo, flips out of the ring, but skins the cat to get himself up to the second rope. Hayashi goes for a tornado DDT, but Kondo pushes him off. Hayashi then tries a big boot on the corner, but Kondo moves out of the way and kicks him in the leg. Kondo yanks Hayashi's leg to the outside and slams it into the ring post. After returning to the ring, Kondo twists Hayashi's leg around the bottom rope and stomps it repeatedly. Kondo continues working over Hayashi's right leg, he puts it over the second rope and twists on it until the referee gets him to break the hold. Irish whip by Kondo, but Hayashi kicks him when he charges in. Hayashi goes for a hurricanrana off the turnbuckle, but Kondo catches him and applies a crab hold. Hayashi eventually makes it to the ropes, Kondo waits for him to get up and kicks him repeatedly in the leg. Hayashi chops him back though and they trade strikes until Kondo kicks Hayashi in the leg again. Irish whip by Kondo and he dropkicks Hayashi in the leg. Cover, but it only gets a two count. More kicks to the leg by Kondo, Irish whip, but Hayashi hits his handstand springboard enzigieri. Irish whip by Hayashi, he slams Kondo to the mat and delivers a quebrada. His knee prevents him from making the cover, however he is still up first.

Snapmare by Hayashi, he goes out to the apron and goes for a slingshot senton, but Kondo rolls out of the ring. Hayashi sees him roll out however, kicks him under the ropes and then delivers a slingshot hurricanrana down to the floor. Hayashi gets on the apron, pulls Kondo up with him and applies a waistlock, but Kondo elbows out of it. Kondo tries to slam Hayashi down to the floor, Hayashi blocks it, Kondo goes for the spear, but Hayashi reverses it with a DDT. Still on the apron, Hayashi picks up Kondo and elbows him in the back of the head. Hayashi charges Kondo, but Kondo catches him with The Original, slamming him down to the floor. Both wrestlers slowly get back into the ring, Kondo goes for a vertical suplex, but Hayashi blocks it. Punch to the head by Kondo, he gets Hayashi up, but Hayashi slides down his back. Hayashi goes for a German suplex, but Kondo blocks it and slams Hayashi up and over his head to the mat. Cover by Kondo but Hayashi kicks out at two. Kondo waits for Hayashi to get up, nails the Hurricane Mixer, cover, but it only gets a two count. Gorilla Hold by Kondo, but Hayashi is too close to the ropes and grabs the bottom one to get a rope break. Kondo grabs Hayashi, but Hayashi kicks himself free and hits a back kick. Hayashi jumps on Kondo's shoulders and delivers a Misteriorana, but it only gets a two count even though Kondo was dropped right on his head. Forearm shot by Hayashi, but Kondo comes back with one of his own. The two trade blows, Hayashi goes off the ropes, Kondo catches him with The Original, but Hayashi springs back to his feet and delivers a super kick. Both wrestlers are slow to get up, Hayashi goes for the WA4, but Kondo clubs his way out of it. Kondo goes for a powerbomb, Hayashi blocks it at first, Kondo finally gets him up, but Hayashi rolls down his back for a two count roll up. WA4 by Hayashi, cover, but Kondo barely kicks out!

Hayashi goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Kondo gets his knees up when he goes for the body press. Kondo goes off the ropes, but Hayashi reverses the lariat attempt with an Asai DDT. Final Cut by Hayashi, cover, but again Kondo barely gets his shoulder up. Hayashi picks up Kondo and goes for another Final Cut, but Kondo gets out of it and delivers a reverse suplex. Kondo waits for Hayashi to get up and goes off the ropes, Hayashi blocks the first two King Kong Lariats, but the third one connects. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kondo calls for another one, Hayashi ducks it, but Kondo fires back with a second. Again Kondo goes for a lariat, but Hayashi ducks it and hits a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Hayashi nails a head-drop WA4, cover, but it only gets two. Hayashi puts Kondo up on the top turnbuckle, he joins him, but Kondo pushes him off. Hayashi comes charging back though, he goes for an avalanche-style WA4, but Kondo reverses it with a front flip DDT! Slow cover by Kondo and it gets a two count. Kondo positions Hayashi, goes to the top turnbuckle, and nails a moonsault. Cover, but again it only gets two. Kondo waits for Hayashi to get up and goes for a lariat, but Hayashi blocks it. Blocking the shot hurts Hayashi's arms however, and when Kondo bounces off the ropes with another King Kong Lariat Hayashi is dropped to the mat. Cover, and Kondo picks up the three count pinfall! Your winner and still champion: Shuji Kondo

Match Thoughts: Let me preface this by saying that I am fully aware of the problems in this match. Yes, Hayashi stopped selling the leg the last 10 minutes of the match. Yes, their selling in general was suspect at times and they were just throwing bombs at the end of the match. Now that you know I actually did notice the things that might need some work, allow me to say that I loved this match. Kondo has single-handedly saved the All Japan Jr. Heavyweight division, as he is so much fun to watch and can put on a good match with just about anybody. Their execution here was flawless, which is saying something since they did quite a few high-risk moves. Hayashi threw everything at Kondo, going through his entire moveset, but couldn't pick up the win. The WA4 from the top would have done the trick, but when that was reversed by a wicked flipping DDT that was it. Lots of near-falls is in general the puroresu style for big matches, if I didn't enjoy it then I wouldn't be watching it. The match was fun and exciting, and the crowd was really into it. Really entertaining match. Score: 8.0

Tie-up to start, waistlock by Muta, reversed into a wristlock by Tajiri, but Muta reverses it with a leg lock. Tajiri rolls out of the hold however and both wrestlers slither out of the ring. They eventually both get back in, tie-up, and Muta chops Tajiri in the head. Side headlock takedown by Muta and he keeps the hold applied on the mat. Tajiri struggles to his feet, Irish whip by Tajiri, but Muta shoulderblocks him down. Muta goes off the ropes and this time Tajiri hits a hip toss followed by a heel kick, sending Muta out of the ring. Muta rolls under the ring before Tajiri can sail out, but Tajiri puts his ear to the mat so that he can follow his progress. Muta finally pops back out where he started, then goes back under as Tajiri gets out of the ring and goes under as well. Muta come out again, but not seeing where Tajiri is he quickly slides back under. Muta comes back out with a chair as he waits for Tajiri, but Tajiri comes out the far side and kicks the chair into Muta through the ropes. Stomps to the head on the outside by Tajiri, he goes to Irish whip Muta into the railing but it is reversed. Muta picks up something metal from the table and hits Tajiri in the head with it. He finally throws Tajiri back into the ring and gets back in himself, but Tajiri rolls back out to recuperate. Muta follows him and kicks Tajiri in the arm. Muta then throws Tajiri into the ring post before getting back into the ring with him. Snapmare by Muta and he nails the Flash Elbow. Muta then grabs Tajiri by the leg and applies the STF, but Tajiri makes it to the ropes. Dragon screw leg whip by Muta and he applies the figure four leg lock. Tajiri struggles but eventually he makes it to the ropes and Muta has to break the hold. Tajiri rolls out of the ring, but Muta follows him out and starts beating up some dojo boys. Tajiri tries to crawl away, but Muta follows him and chokes him with the camera cable. He finally slides Tajiri back into the ring, Irish whip to the corner and Tajiri collapses upon impact. Irish whip again by Muta to the corner and again Tajiri falls to the mat when he hits the turnbuckles.

Back up, vertical suplex by Muta, but Tajiri rolls him up for a quick two count. Kick to the gut by Muta, Irish whip, but Tajiri kicks him in the head and hits a hurricanrana. They both land in a sitting position, and both wrestlers simultaneously blow mist in each others faces. High kicks by Tajiri, Irish whip, and he hits his handstand springboard elbow. Kick to the had by Tajiri, he tries to roll up Muta, Muta sits down, but Tajiri nails a back kick to the head. Cover, but it gets a two count. Tajiri measures Muta, but Muta catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Muta charges Tajiri, but Tajiri moves out of the way and applies the Tarantula. The referee gets him to let go after a moment and both wrestlers fall to the outside. Muta grabs a chair and he hits Tajiri in the arm with it. Tajiri rolls back in the ring, but Muta follows him still with the chair. The referee tries to take it from him but Muta pushes the referee down and hits Tajiri in the arm with it again. The referee tries to help, but Muta hits him in the stomach. Kick by Muta, he picks up Tajiri and sets up the chair before delivering a Shining Wizard off of it. Muta goes for another Shining Wizard, but Tajiri blocks it with the chair. Muta tries to blow mist into Tajiri's face, but Tajiri puts the chair up to block it and then blows mist into Muta's face. Roll-up by Tajiri, but it only gets a two count. Buzzsaw Kick by Tajiri, cover, but Muta blows mist into his face as he makes the cover. Shining Wizard by Muta, backbreaker, he goes to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault! Cover, and Muta picks up the three count pinfall. Your winner: Great Muta

Match Thoughts: It is hard to "rate" a match like this one. Most of it was pretty dull, to be honest, but the small things they did during the beginning/middle of the match helped and the last five minutes or so they really got the crowd into it. Tajiri listening to Muta crawling under the mat to outsmart him was cute, even if the segment seemed to last too long. It makes sense that Tajiri was out-misted by the misting master, although Tajiri certainly held his own. The match came across more as an entertainment spectacle then an actual wrestling match, but that is what they were going for. As a Muta fan I really enjoyed it, but I can understand that people that don't like Muta wouldn't like this match. To me it was perfectly fine as they didn't push the match as the main event but more of a dream match freak show before the real main events begun. Score: 6.5

(c) Taiyo Kea vs. Toshiaki Kawada
This match is for the All Japan Triple Crown Championship. Tie-up to start, Kea pushes Kawada into the ropes but he gives a clean break. Kea goes for a double leg takedown, Kawada blocks it, but they get tangled in the ropes again and the referee has them break. Kawada goes for a takedown, Kea blocks it, waistlock by Kea and he goes for the cross armbreaker, but Kawada gets out of it. A side headlock is applied by Kawada on the mat, Kea struggles to his feet but Kawada keeps the hold applied. Kea eventually gets out of it and applies a hammerlock into a side headlock of his own, but Kawada knees his way out of it. Chop by Kawada, but Kea chops him back. Takedown by Kea, but Kawada applies a head scissors and begins twisting on Kea's arm. Kea gets a hand on the ropes however, Kawada releases the hold and stomps Kea in the back, but Kea is up quickly. Chops by Kea, but Kawada chops him back. Kawada levels Kea with a back kick however and Kea rolls out of the ring. Kawada follows him out and throws him into the railing at ringside before booting him to the other side of the floor. Kawada gets back in first, and Kea eventually follows him after regrouping at ringside. Kick to the stomach by Kawada and he applies a single leg crab hold while stomping Kea in the head. After a moment Kea makes it to the ropes, but Kawada drags him back to the middle of the ring and applies the Mexican surfboard. Kea manages to roll his way out of it, but Kawada controls the action with more kicks and elbows to the back of the head. Kicks in the corner by Kawada as Kea tries to fight back. Kawada chops Kea in the corner, but Kea reverses positions with him and delivers kicks and chops of his own. Short kicks to the head by Kawada and the two continue trading blows. After taking turns giving each other big boots, Kea plants Kawada with a DDT. Knee crusher by Kea and he gives Kawada a second one.

Achilles hold by Kea but he eventually releases it so he can kick Kawada in the leg. Leg drop onto the leg by Kea, Kawada gets up, but Kea kicks him in the leg again until the falls back down to the mat. Kea goes for another knee crusher, but Kawada punches out of it so Kea chop blocks him from behind. Again Kea goes for a knee crusher, but Kawada kicks his way out of it. Kawada charges Kea, his knee stops him, but when Kea charges him back Kawada delivers the Gamengiri. Kawada picks up Kea, goes off the ropes, and delivers a lariat. He then hits a killer brainbuster, cover, but it only gets a two count. Stretch Plum by Kawada, but Kea makes his way to the ropes and Kawada breaks the hold. Backdrop suplex by Kawada, he picks up Kea and delivers a second one. A third backdrop suplex by Kawada, cover, but Kea kicks out at two. Kawada goes back to the Stretch Plum, cover, but again it gets a two. Kawada picks up Kea and goes for the powerbomb, but Kea will have none of that and backdrops his way out of it. Running boot to the face by Kawada, he lariats Kea in the head and follows with a Gamengiri. Cover, but Kea barely kicks out. Again Kawada goes for the powerbomb, this time he hits it, but it only gets a two count. Back up, Kea begins to fight back, Kawada gets him down, Kea ducks a kick but doesn't avoid the knee to the midsection. Kicks to the chest by Kawada, but Kea catches one and delivers a dragon screw leg whip. Sleeperhold by Kea, but he releases it to hit a series of kicks ending with a jumping heel kick. Kawada charges Kea with a lariat, but Kea ducks it and proceeds to compress Kawada's neck even more then it already is with a Surfing Suplex. Kea is naturally up first, he chops Kawada when he gets up, but Kawada comes back with kicks. They trade shots, but Kea gets the better of it and hits another Surfing Suplex. Cover, but Kawada quickly kicks out. Forearms by Kawada, Kea gives Kawada some forearms of his own, but Kea hits a jumping lariat for a two count cover. Kea goes for a German suplex, but Kawada blocks it and delivers a jumping high kick. Kea comes back with a super kick and hits the TKO34th. Cover, but again Kawada kicks out. Back up, forearms by Kea and he hits the jumping heel kick, but Kawada doesn't go down. Kea goes off the ropes and they both clothesline each other, but Kea hits a second clothesline that gets Kawada to the mat. Kea picks up Kawada and delivers another TKO34th, cover, but again it only gets a two count. Chop by Kea, Kawada comes back with kicks. More kicks by Kawada and a jumping high kick has Kea reeling. Kea comes back with a jumping kick to the face however, he picks up Kawada and hits a third TKO34th. Another cover, but Kawada quickly kicks out. Killer powerbomb by Kea, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner and still champion: Taiyo Kea

Match Thoughts: What an odd little match. For the most part it was worked in your normal "Royal Road" style, that being the constant strike battles, early submission section, and the late near falls. Beyond that though I was a bit puzzled, as oddly enough Kawada never seemed to be in a position to win this match. He only had one realistic near fall (the powerbomb) and besides that Kea completely controlled the last portion of the match. But Kea didn't do any of his normal trademark moves for the win (Hawaiian Smasher, H50, or TKO), but instead used his "new" TKO34th on three different occasions with little success. He also never went back to the injured leg, in fact at the end of the match it was Kawada kicking Kea's leg, not the other way around. Kawada looked very good here, however, perhaps getting off regular tours gave him time to heal up as he looked stronger then I have seen him in years. His selling, as always, was top notch and you can't blame him for no longer selling the leg since Kea stopped going after it. The match was entertaining and it did a good job of putting Kea over (until he lost the belt a week later anyway), and even though it won't be remembered as a classic it was a big moment in Kea's career. Score: 7.5

Hiroshi Hase, Satoshi Kojima, and Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. TARU, Suwama, and "brother" YASSHI
This is Hiroshi Hase's retirement match. Originally his old partner Kensuke Sasaki was supposed to be in the match, but had to miss it due to an injury. Sasaki was at ringside however to watch Hase's last match and to make sure that the Voodoo Murderers stayed in line. The Voodoo Murderers take the action outside immediately, jumping Hase and company as the bell rang. TARU bashes Hase into the ringside table and takes him up into the stands. YASSHI punches Nakajima at ringside, but Nakajima kicks him back. Hase has made it back to ringside as well and he hits TARU with a chair. YASSHI and Nakajima finally get in the ring, YASSHI applies a front facelock, but Nakajima gets out of it and the two trade forearm shots. Irish whip by YASSHI, reversed, but YASSHI avoids three of Nakajima's kicks. Forearms by YASSHI, he goes off the ropes, but Nakajima moves and connects with a high kick. Snapmare by Nakajima and he kicks YASSHI in the back. Kojima is tagged in and he flings YASSHI to the mat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Stomp to the back by Kojima, he picks up YASSHI and delivers a backdrop suplex. Kojima pulls on YASSHI's hair before picking him up and kneeing him into the corner. Irish whip by Kojima and he knees YASSHI in the midsection. Kojima tags in Hase, Hase picks up Kojima and hits a gutbuster. Scoop slam by Hase, he goes off the ropes and hits a somersault senton. Cover, but YASSHI kicks out at two. Hase throws YASSHI into his corner and tells Suwama to tag in. Suwama does so, double leg takedown by Suwama and he applies a side headlock to Hase.

Hase gets to his feet, Irish whips out of it, but Suwama shoulderblocks him down. Drop toehold by Hase and he applies the Muta Lock. TARU breaks it up by spitting water into Hase's face, and Hase tags in Nakajima. Irish whip by Nakajima and he delivers a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakajima applies a reverse chinlock, but TARU comes in and breaks it up. Nakajima goes after TARU, but YASSHI grabs him and he is double teamed in the corner. Nakajima drives Suwama back, but Suwama hits a powerbomb. Suwama tags in YASSHI, who stomps Nakajima in the head. Club to the back by YASSHI, but Nakajima fires back with high kicks, knocking YASSHI to the mat. Nakajima tags in Kojima, double Irish whip to YASSHI and they hit a double shoulderblock. Kojima applies a single leg crab hold to YASSHI but Suwama comes in and breaks it up. Kojima tags in Hase, Hase grabs YASSHI and twists on his ankle. Elbow drop to the leg by Hase and he applies a leg lock. Hase tags in Nakajima, who kicks YASSHI repeatedly in the leg. A leg submission hold is applied by Nakajima, but YASSHI is too close to the ropes. Nakajima brings him back to the middle of the ring and applies a single leg crab hold, but YASSHI fights his way to the ropes. He tries to slide out of the ring, but Hase steps on his back until Nakajima can retrieve him. Nakajima tags in Kojima, who kicks YASSHI in his injured leg. Knee crusher by Kojima and he applies an STF. Again Suwama breaks it up, and Kojima tags in Hase. Hase applies a choke hold, but after a moment he releases it and tags in Nakajima. Nakajima picks up YASSHI, Irish whip, and he hits a jumping forearm in the corner. Vertical suplex hold by Nakajima, but it gets a two count. Nakajima picks up YASSHI, but YASSHI grabs Nakajima in the groin. Kojima comes in, but YASSHI grabs him low as well. Hase tries to help, but YASSHI kicks him (while still holding Kojima and Nakajima), and bites him in the lower midsection. A pretty picture indeed.

YASSHI tags in TARU, who kicks Nakajima in the head and chest. Snapmare by TARU and he kicks Nakajima in the back before raking Nakajima in the eyes. TARU throws Nakajima out of the ring, where Suwama throws him into the guard rail. YASSHI hands Suwama a cable so that Suwama can choke Nakajima with it. Suwama slides Nakajima back into the ring where TARU and YASSHI are waiting for him. Double Irish whip to Nakajima and they hit a double back elbow. Nakajima suddenly kicks both wrestlers and hits TARU with an enzigieri, he crawls to his corner, but they grab his legs before he can get there and drag him back. Suwama is tagged in, Irish whip by Suwama and he elbows Nakajima to the mat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Suwama picks up Nakajima and he delivers a running powerslam. Cover, but Kojima breaks up the pin attempt. Suwama tags in YASSHI, YASSHI picks up Nakajima, double leg takedown, and he goes for a giant swing, but Nakajima rolls out of it and dropkicks YASSHI. This gives him time to tag in Hase, and Hase clubs YASSHI to the mat. Back up, chop by Hase, he grabs YASSHI by the legs and gives him a 45 rotation giant swing! Hase's age, in case you were curious why he did 45. Hase gets sneak attacked by TARU and Suwama while he celebrates, cover by Suwama, but he only gets a two count. Single leg crab hold by Suwama, but meanwhile outside the ring TARU gets his metal stick. TARU hits Sasaki with it a number of times, but then Akira Hokuto cuts him off with her stick and the two have a duel, but TARU gets the better of it. He then hits Hokuto with his metal stick, and he is immediately pounced on by Nakajima and Kojima. Back in the ring Hase has managed to get to the ropes and Suwama breaks the hold. Irish whip by Suwama, but Hase kicks him and connects with a chop. Another chop by Hase, Irish whip, reversed, and Suwama hits a powerslam. Cover, but Hase kicks out at two. Back up, the two trade blows, Suwama goes off the ropes, but Hase catches him and nails a uranage. Suwama comes back with a backdrop suplex, but again Hase hits an uranage. They trade uranages and backdrop suplexes few mores times until both wrestlers collapse to the mat.

Suwama gets up first and tags in YASSHI, then TARU comes in. YASSHI and Suwama hold Hase so that TARU can kick him in the groin. TARU stays in, Irish whip by TARU, but Hase avoids the clothesline and hits a dropkick. Another dropkick by Hase and he tags in Kojima. Forearms by Kojima and he hits a rolling elbow. Kojima chops TARU in the corner, Irish whip, and he hits the jumping forearm followed by a snapmare and a top rope elbow drop. Cover, but TARU barely kicks out in time. Kojima goes off the ropes, but TARU kicks him and delivers a scissors kick. Double handed sit-down chokeslam by TARU and he makes the tag to Suwama. Irish whip by Suwama in to the corner and he delivers a lariat followed by a belly to belly suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, the two trade slaps, Kojima goes off the ropes but Suwama catches him with a knee to the stomach. Half nelson suplex by Suwama, but Kojima springs up and goes for a lariat, but Suwama ducks it and hits a backdrop suplex hold for a two count. Suwama goes off the ropes, but Kojima hits his arm when he goes for a lariat and delivers a brainbuster. Kojima waits for Suwama to get up, goes off the ropes, but TARU kicks him in the back and Suwama hits a lariat. Cover, but both Nakajima and Hase break it up. A melee starts as all six men are in the ring, and Suwama nails the Last Ride onto Nakajima. Suwama and TARU grab Hase, double Irish whip and they shoulderblock him to the mat. Deadweight German suplex by Suwama on Hase, and Sasaki checks on him. Irish whip by TARU on Kojima, reversed, but when Kojima goes for a lariat TARU moves and the referee is accidentally hit. Kojima grabs TARU and delivers the Koji Cutter, but YASSHI runs in to help. YASSHI gets a Koji Cutter as well, and then Kojima hits a vertical suplex on Suwama. Cover, but the referee is still out. Kojima calls for the end, goes off the ropes, but Suwama blocks the lariat and nails a Complete Shot. Ankle lock by Suwama, but Kojima makes it to the bottom rope. There is no referee though, so Suwama pulls him back. Sasaki has seen enough and gets on the apron, and Suwama breaks the hold. YASSHI runs over and kicks Sasaki, he then goes off the ropes, but Sasaki clotheslines him from the apron. TARU pulls Sasaki into the ring and he along with Suwama club him to the mat. Double Irish whip by TARU and Suwama, but Sasaki bursts through the double clothesline attempt and lariats them both to the mat. Hase comes in the ring, they give Suwama an Irish whip and nail a double lariat. Sasaki grabs TARU while Hase goes to the top turnbuckle, Sasaki holds TARU up and Hase delivers a top rope elbow drop. Hase then tells Sasaki to be careful because of his eye and to let him handle it, chops by Hase on YASSHI and he hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Nakajima and Kojima run in to take care of TARU and Suwama respectively, Hase picks up YASSHI and connects with an uranage. He picks up YASSHI again, nails the Northern Lights Suplex hold, and both the referee and Sasaki deliver the three count! Your winners: Hiroshi Hase, Satoshi Kojima, and Katsuhiko Nakajima

Match Thoughts: A fitting retirement party, I would have preferred a tag match or a singles match, but the signing of Tajiri and Sasaki's injury shuffled things a bit and they did the best they could under the circumstances. YASSHI taking the pin was known as soon as the match was announced, but the match wasn't just him getting thrown around as all six men were allowed to do their key spots. Kojima was hurt the least, but he is on a different level then the other wrestlers in the match so that is understandable. For a 30 minute match, time just flew by as I just sat back and enjoyed Hase for the last time. Hase is one of the most under-rated wrestlers in Japan as he never won a singles championship but he put on quality matches with a wide spectrum of wrestlers.

As for the match, it was a lot of fun. Hokuto and Sasaki both got involved which made the whole thing seem more like a festive occasion and TARU was viciously booed by the crowd for his tactics, a reaction you don't always see in Japan. Like I said the ending was predictable, but it was pretty much the only way to end the match. They kept Suwama and TARU looking strong even though they lost since they had the upperhand most the time they were in and since Nakajima is still young he doesn't lose anything by getting thrown around. Hase still looks very good, as since he wrestles less he isn't worn down like other wrestlers from his generation. The fact he can still do the Muta Lock and Northern Lights Suplex (never mind the 45 rotation giant swing) is a testament to how well he still takes care of himself. Overall it was a fun match and one that I think Hase can be proud of for his last match as it represented everything that All Japan is today. Score: 7.5

Final Thoughts:

From top to bottom this is the best show that I have watched in 2006 from any promotion. It had the dream match with Muta/Tajiri, a very good Triple Crown Championship match, an excellent Jr. Heavyweight Championship match, and an entertaining retirement match for the great Hiroshi Hase. There was nothing really wrong with this show, some people might say "but its not as good as mid-90s All Japan" but that is not what All Japan is now. This show is the perfect example of what All Japan is in 2006 under Mutoh, and to be honest if you don't like this show then you probably shouldn't be watching current All Japan at all. A must-see show, pick this up.

Highly Recommended

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review completed 9/27/06