All Japan New Year Shining Series 2009
review by JaeDMC

January 3rd, 2009
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,950 Fans - No Vacancy

It's night two of AJPW's All Asia Tag Team Title Tournament. Night one was a little under whelming, so hopefully they're saving up to go out with a bang.

Kikutaro vs. Nobutaka Araya

Araya had a good night the night before, winning the opening bout against Hiroshi Yamato and making it to the final two in the Heavyweight Battle Royal in the Main Event. Kikutaro is pretty funny here, and Araya plays it straight for the most part. The funniest part was when everyone, ref included gets kicked in the nether regions. Araya and Kikutaro start having a strike battle while still selling the injury. Pretty funny stuff. Araya gets tired of the fun and games and finishes off the clown with a lariat and a moonsault. It should be noted that for a guy who looks like he doesn't take good care of himself, Araya has a gorgeous moonsault. The match was fun a for a good seven minute comedy opener and didn't wear out its welcome.

Taiyo Kea, MAZADA & TAKEMURA vs. Hiroshi Yamato, Seiya Sanada & Manabu Soya

TAKEMURA didn't compete the night before but everyone else in this match are losers from the night before. The match wasn't amazing but they kept it nice and intense. The opening exchanges between everyone made everyone look pretty nice. At one point the match kind of lost direction as Yamato was attempting to put away MAZADA and his teammates kept attacking GURENTAI. The weird thing was that GURENTAI didn't look to interested in trying to help out. So it was like Soya and Sanada were telling them to stay put and GURENTAI were like, "Sure what ever we're not going anywhere." Awkward. Kea makes a blind tag and over powers Yamato hits the TKO34th for the win. Not a good weekend for Yamato. Really intense interactions in the first half make you think it's worth sticking with, but the finish was just kind of there.

81st Generation All Asia Tag Team Title Determination Tournament Semi Final:
Satoshi Kojima & KAI vs. Osamu Nishimura & Masanobu Fuchi

Nishimura has these short little European Upper cuts that are solid gold. He hits a couple on Kojima in the early moments of the bout and you can't help but think Kojima might get knocked out. They look that good. KAI and Fuchi's opening exchange was nice. KAI called the old man out and for a second you thought Fuchi was going to teach the kid a lesson. But KAI went for speed and dropped kicked him about five times in a minute. Fuchi gets some respect for running with the kid but he just couldn't handle it. Eventually the situation got comedic as Nishimura would wear down KAI and tag in Fuchi. But Fuchi would lose control and have to tag out. Realizing his tag partner was out of his league against even the lesser of their opponents, Nishimura's mean streak showed up taking KAI outside and doing a shin breaker to him on a table. Lovely. Without a reliable partner it's basically the “Nishimura Show” as he survives against his opponent by just being smarter. Anytime he sees an opening he slips on a back slide or an Octopus Hold and it works. He's not over powering them, he's just out witting them. Of course, when Fuchi does come in the team falls apart and after a lariat from Kojima, Fuchi is served on a platter to KAI to finish him off. SURPRISE! Fuchi nails the dreaded inside cradle for a quick three.

That type of finish was fine on night one against MAZADA but here it felt fake. Fuchi was pretty much passed out even, after the cradle, making it look even more ridiculous that KAI didn't kick out. I'm fine with who won, and how the match was worked, but that last bit kind of took the match down a step. Still this night is shaping up to be much better than the first.

81st Generation All Asia Tag Team Title Determination Tournament Semi Final:
Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA RONGAI vs. Keiji Mutoh & Kaz Hayashi

The opening exchanges between Mutoh and Suzuki were nice and tight with Minoru trying to get an armbar. The match settled down when Rongai apparently tweaked his knee coming out of a tilt-a-whirl. It looked like it may have been legit but Kaz Hayashi doesn't care and starts to twist it up. Mutoh is of course salivating at this because that's his favorite body part to pick at. Rongai is tremendous at selling it, so much so that you're kind of begging for Suzuki to get the tag and avenge his GURENTAI buddy. He eventually does and comes in on fire tearing up everything site. That kind of attitude was refreshing, watching Suzuki get revenge on the guys beating up his partner. It almost seems uncharacteristic. Unfortunately, Mutoh catches up to him and starts working his knee too. Kaz Hayashi does a great job of keeping the gimpy Rongai immobile while Mutoh does his thing. When Suzuki finally gets to tag out, poor Rongai has got little left and does little to help his team's plight. Seriously, I can't stress how good Rongai is at selling this leg. Even when he counters out of a bad situation he can't capitalize. You'd think his career was in jeopardy. The finish comes out of no where with a flash La Magistral. I'm okay with Rongai scoring the win off of it because it's more about leverage than leg power thus not undermining his “injuries”and Suzuki set it up nicely by drop kicking Kaz's legs out from under him. Between Rongai's selling and Kaz trying to twist his leg off there's a lot to like about this one.

Joe Doering vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

Takayama destroyed Zodiac the night before in about two minutes. In the battle royal it was the combined efforts of Joe Doering and Zodiac that eliminated Takayama. I hope it was worth it because Joe made himself the next stop on Takayama's pain train to the Triple Crown.

I have to say, Joe Doering is so much more interesting since joining the Voodoo Murders. Him out powering Takayama in the test of strength and saying "Voooodoooo POWAH" is pretty much gold. Doering dominates for the first 5 minutes until Takayama catches him pretty flush with a knee to the chest. It's so bad that Doering rolls out to catch his breath.. Takayama's offense was pretty nice here, he looks like the kind of guy who's trying to prove he can be champion, not just challenge for a title. A motivated Takayama is definitely worth looking for. Despite powering out of some of Takayama's stuff, Joe can't survive the Everest Suplex and loses in a little under nine minutes. Both guys looked great. Joe losing to Takayama is not a big deal, but him tossing around Takayama really did a lot for his image. For the most part, he's tossed around smaller guys like Sanada, but Takayama is bigger than him, and Joe still had no problem showing his strength. Not a great match by any means but the booking and layout were spot on for the participants.

TARU, Hate, Zodiac & "brother" YASSHI vs. Suwama, Shuji Kondo, Ryuji Hijikata & Ryota Hama

Hama gets beat up on for the majority of this one. The Voodoo Murders, for my money are better at cheating than GBH in New Japan. GBH doesn't try to conceal it and you mostly just hate the ref for being a dolt. Here, you just want to see Suwama beat the snot out of these guys for being cheaters. And when he does get in there boy does he clean house. Some nights Suwama is a star. Not every night, but some nights he walks out to the ring and just carries himself like he's a total ace. The bad news is that it's usually on nights where nothing is on the line. Like this 8-man tag. There's not much to this one as it eventually breaks down into a brawl and not a long one as HATE eventually blinds Hijikata with a fire extinguisher long enough to hit a fisherman buster for the win.

After the match TARU tells Hijikata that Mutoh has made some disparaging remarks about him and that he should joining up with VM. Of course Hijikata answers with a boot, but it'll be interesting to see where this goes. Hijikata blows off Suwama and Kondo for the post match interview.

81st Generation All Asia Tag Team Title Determination Tournament Final:
Minoru Suzuki & NOSAWA RONGAI vs. Osamu Nishimura & Masanobu Fuchi

Rongai is still selling the knee before the match starts and Fuchi is still selling the fact that he's old so at first it appears the team evened out. Rongai spends a good chunk having his leg picked apart by both Fuchi and Nishimura. He sells it brilliantly to where you think that win, lose, or draw he's going to need a break. Suzuki is a totally snot through out, which is the best Suzuki you can get. At one point Fuchi loses it and just starts slapping Suzuki's chest big time. After quite a few, at least 10, Suzuki just laughs in his face and proceeds to pepper the old man's chest with some palm licked slaps. Fuchi's pectorals are shredded by the time this one is over. By the way, if a wrestler ever uses a head lock he needs to watch Fuchi wrench it in on Suzuki. At his age, Fuchi doesn't have a huge arsenal, so he makes everything count, including his headlocks. It makes any other wrestler who uses one look like a bum. The story here is that both teams have a liability, Fuchi's age and Rongai's leg, so you wonder which one is going to give out first. The good thing about Fuchi winning his team's matches with a flash cradle is that it trains the audience to believe the match could end when he slips it on Suzuki. With Nishimura and Rongai glued together in a figure four, Suzuki proves to be too much for the older Fuchi and hits the cradle pile driver for the win.
Fuchi should get a lot of respect for being an old wrestler who is willing to look old. There's too many wrestlers who are approaching his age who just don't want to look their age. Even when competing against much younger opponents. Pretty good match, nothing revolutionary but I was entertained.

The post match interview is worth looking at just to look at Fuchi's chest. I MEAN SHREDDED.

11 Man Jr. Heavyweight Battle Royal:
Participants: Kikutaro, Kaz Hayashi, Shuji Kondo, Hiroshi Yamato, KAI, Ryuji Hijikata, Masanobu Fuchi, MAZADA, TAKEMURA, NOSAWA Rongai & "brother" YASSHI

Like Hama the night before, Fuchi came out for the battle royal despite just losing a big match. Rongai was also competing and I felt sorry for him. Can't even celebrate a title win. The opening moments is everyone body slamming Fuchi. After about four Fuchi starts showing some Fighting Spirit. After about seven everyone piles on and he's eliminated. Good for him. Hijikata is out next after being accidentally clotheslined by Kondo. Several people piled on him as well. Kondo and Kaz go out next after a stereo sunset flip by F4 buddies KAI and Yamato. MAZADA gets tossed out after a failed charge on KAI in the corner and TAKEMURA follows suit when F4 and Kikutaro pile on him. Why was TAKEMURA even there? He didn't do anything the whole night. Rongai tried to take on everyone but that failed and everyone piled on him for his elimination. The kid has spunk though. This leaves "brother" YASSHI, Kikutaro, Yamato, and KAI. Kikutaro is smart to stand back while the two guys from F4 beat up on the meanie from Voodoo Murders. Yamato gets a very extended giant swing on YASSHI and while he kneels down from dizziness, Kikutaro hits a shining wizard and KAI actually goes for the pin on his partner, with a big grin on his face. Yamato is out. Kikutaro then makes a deal with KAI to help him take out YASSHI who liked like he just rode every coaster in a Six Flags theme park with out stopping. Kikutaro of course turns on KAI but doesn't eliminate him. KAI and YASSHI make a new alliance. This of course fails and KAI gets rolled up by YASSHI and with some added weight from Kikutaro is unable to kick out. It's down to Kikutaro and YASSHI. Kikutaro starts going for flash cradles and YASSHI keeps kicking out. In the heat of the moment Kikutaro accidentally cradled the ref. He doesn't get it all the way and his shoulders are on the mat, YASSHI keeps the ref down on him and another comes in to make the three count. "brother" YASSHI wins it with a pretty funny finish.

After the match YASSHI announced that he'll be leaving wrestling soon. BUMMER.

The show was much better than night one. Nearly the whole card was entertaining, with the 4 on 4 tag being the weakest moment on the card. However that match seemed to be more about the post match angle with Hijikata. Really the good thing about All Japan is that their booking makes you care about the product and their wrestlers are competent enough to not suck. The matches may not be the best in Japan, but I certainly care more about why these people step in the ring than most other promotions. This show is a good example of that idea. It also, like a good wrestling card should, set up interest for what happens in the future.

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