The Great Muta in New Japan Vol. 5
review by Ryan Mancuso
Hello once again, I am back with my final review of the Muta Anthology. This is the fifth volume of this anthology. This is a bonus matches set of the anthology. This volume was released much later than the earlier volumes because there was a bonus match featuring Kokushi, Keiji Muto's alter ego that he debuted in 2001, was on this volume. This was released either right before Muto left New Japan or after he left the company for All Japan. The reason I say this was released later was because I had gotten the fourth volume of the anthology back in 1999. The review starts now:
The Great Muta & Hiroshi Hase vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
This is from April 7, 1994 at Kumamoto City Gym. This was a short match, but it moved at a very fast pace with everyone looking good. The crowd was responding to everything in this match. The past rivalry between Muta and Hase was not easily forgotten because Muta turned on his partner about 5 minutes into the match. Muta got his team disqualified when he sprayed Choshu & Fujiwara with the mist. After the match, Muta just attacked anyone who was in his sight. Too bad they decided to go with the quick betrayal and DQ because I thought the match was becoming quite good.
The Great Muta vs. Antonio Inoki
This is from May 1, 1994 at the Fukuoka Dome. This was the first match of Antonio Inoki’s lengthy retirement countdown. It was a basic Inoki formula where he would take a beating from his opponent, but make the heroic comeback at the end. Muta used all the tricks in his book to beat down Inoki including using the mist attack, piledriving him through a table and busting Inoki open by ramming his head into the ring post. The formula worked because the crowd was going insane for the nearfalls at the end with Inoki kicking out of the moonsault and dragon suplex hold. There were a couple of times in the match where the lights would go out and just a spotlight would be shown in the ring. It made a cool visual for this match, especially when Inoki had Muta locked in a sleeper, and I wished they had kept the lighting like that.
Two things I didn't like in this match was the lengthy stalling in the beginning of the match and the finish. The finish was Inoki locking Muta in a sleeper for a few seconds and then quickly taking him down to score the pinfall. It made the match feel like it ended abruptly. Maybe I like the Inoki sleeper on Muta with just the spotlight on too much, but I thought that would have been an awesome way to end the match. Despite those negatives, it was still an entertaining match.
The Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono
This is from April 12, 1997 at the Tokyo Dome. The match came as a result of Chono trying to recruit Muta into nWo Japan after Muta's match with Shiro Koshinaka, which was shown on Volume 4 of the Muta Anthology. This was a pretty good match. Muta’s early stalling on the floor was quickly halted when Hiroyoshi Tenzan attacked and threw him back into the ring. Chono tried to spray paint Muta, but Muta got the spray paint from him. Muta sprayed nWo on Chono’s back and sprayed the mist on his handiwork. To show how much both men knew each other, they countered each other ramp sprint attacks. Muta countered Chono’s with a hurricanrana, and Chono countered Muta's with a Yakuza Kick. Considering his history of neck problems, Chono took a pretty big bump when Muta used a piledriver to put Chono through a table. They kept up the good pace of action when they went back into the ring. Muta got the victory when he used the moonsault. After the match, Muta and Chono shook hands out of respect for each other.
The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs. Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto
This is from July 6, 1997 at the Sapporo Ice Arena. This was a part of Choshu's 1997 retirement tour, and one of his last matches in the Sapporo region. Along with the fact that New Japan's four biggest stars were involved, the fans in Sapporo were extra hot for the match because they thought this would be their last chance to see Choshu wrestle in their area. There was plenty of chaotic action to go with the crowd heat. The crowd booed the nWo for using illegal tactics and cheered on Choshu & Hashimoto. The turning point came when Chono held Choshu so that Muta could come off the top rope and nail Choshu with the bat. However, Choshu moved out of the way and Muta nailed Chono with the bat. This gave Choshu the opportunity to nail Chono with two consecutive Riki Lariat's for the victory. After the match, there was some dissension between Muta and Chono. Muta turned his back to Chono and dared Chono to hit him with the baseball bat. Chono almost did it, but decided not to. As a result, nWo Japan posed for photos in the ring and peace was kept between them.
G1 Climax First Round: The Great Muta vs. Manabu Nakanishi
This is from August 1, 1997 at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. This was not too good with it being just a little over 10 minutes and Muta stalling for nearly the first half of the match. The story was simple with Muta using every dirty trick in the book and Nakanishi is using his strength to throw Muta around with suplexes. Muta won the match when he put Nakanishi on the turnbuckles, sprayed mist into his eyes and took him down with a top-rope hurricanrana.
G1 Climax Special Tag Tournament Finals: The Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki
This is from September 20, 1997 at the Aichi Prefectural Gym in Nagoya. This was a good match with Yamazaki looking the best. It was a fast paced tag match with both teams making quick tags and saves for partners in trouble. It also made huge progress in the angle where Muta and nWo Japan had dissension throughout this tour. This match was nearly blew things up when Muta intentionally nailed Tenzan with the mist. Here is my play-by-play:
Before the bell rang, Yamazaki and Kensuke attacked their opponents. They threw them to the floor and there was a brawl at ringside. Muta & Tenzan gained control on the floor and threw their opponents back into the ring. Kensuke caught Tenzan off the ropes with a powerslam. He locked Tenzan in Strangle Hold Alpha and Yamazaki locks in a Fujiwara armbar on Muta. nWo Japan jumps on the apron. Kensuke and Yamazaki let go to knock them off. It gives Muta and Tenzan enough time leave the ring, and come up with a new strategy.
Tenzan and Kensuke are in the ring. Kensuke uses a side headlock and Tenzan throws him off the ropes. They trade shoulderblocks, but neither man budges. They do the same thing with Tenzan running off the ropes, but the result is the same. Tenzan knocks Kensuke down with Mongolian chops. He starts stomping and choking Kensuke on the mat. nWo Sting gets a few cheap shots while the referee’s back is turned. Kensuke falls to the floor. Yamazaki blocks off any nWo Japan attack and gets Kensuke closer to his side. Tenzan quickly pounces when Kensuke is back in the ring. He tags in Muta. Muta snapmares Kensuke down and chokes him with a piece of cloth. Yamazaki breaks it up, grabs the cloth and chokes Muta with it. Kensuke drops Muta with a backdrop suplex and tags in Yamazaki.
Yamazaki locks in a sleeper, but Muta immediately gets to the ropes. Yamazaki is showing a more aggressive streak because he refuses to let go immediately. He finally does release the hold. Yamazaki bodyslams Muta and puts him in a chokehold. Muta rakes Yamazaki's eyes and tags in Tenzan. They spread his legs and use them as a wishbone. Tenzan and Yamazaki trade headbutts. Yamazaki surprisingly wins that exchange. Yamazaki goes for a cross armbreaker, but Tenzan reaches the ropes. Yamazaki tags in Kensuke.
Kensuke puts Tenzan on the turnbuckles and takes him down with a superplex. Kensuke runs off the ropes and knocks him down with a lariat. Kensuke uses a page from the book his mentor, Riki Choshu, when he locks Tenzan in a scorpion deathlock. The referee gets distracted and Muta sneaks into the ring to nail Kensuke with a baseball bat. Tenzan tags in Muta. Muta snapmares Kensuke down and drops his flash elbowdrop. Muta starts choking Kensuke with a piece of rope. Yamazaki breaks it up. Tenzan is tagged back in and starts chopping away at Kensuke. He starts throwing Mongolian chops, but Kensuke fires back with Mongolian chops of his own. Kensuke tags in Yamazaki. He whips Tenzan off the ropes and Yamazaki catches him with a kick to the midsection. Yamazaki catches Tenzan in a crossface chickenwing. After being in the hold for a few seconds, Tenzan finds a unique way to escape it when he bites at Yamazaki's fingers. Tenzan sends Yamazaki into an exposed corner and tags in Muta.
Muta sends Yamazaki to the floor and whips him into the guardrail. Muta attacks Yamazaki with various weapons like a part of the guardrail and a chair. Tenzan jumps off the apron with a double axehandle. Yamazaki is thrown back into the ring and Tenzan is tagged in. Tenzan bodyslams Yamazaki and drops a headbutt. Tenzan covers, but Yamazaki is out at 2. Tenzan tags in Muta. Muta picks up Yamazaki and uses a vertical suplex. Muta goes for a backdrop suplex, but Yamazaki turns his body to land on Muta. Yamazaki runs off the ropes to nail Muta with a spin kick. He tags in Kensuke.
Kensuke chops at Muta’s chest, sends him into the corner and takes him down with a face crusher. Tenzan enters the ring and gives Kensuke some Mongolian chops. Kensuke fires back with chops of his own. He whips Tenzan off the ropes and takes him down with a powerslam. Kensuke locks in the Strangle Hold Gamma, but Muta is quick to break it up. Muta whips Kensuke into the corner and charges in with a handspring elbow. He takes Kensuke down with a facecrusher. Tenzan comes off the top turnbuckle and executes a diving headbutt.
Muta holds Kensuke for a diving Mongolian chop by Tenzan. However, Kensuke gets out of the way and Muta is nailed. Muta is not happy, shoves Tenzan and threatens to leave. Kensuke dropkicks Tenzan and tags in Yamazaki. Yamazaki kicks Tenzan in the chest and goes for a German suplex. However, Tenzan counters with a low blow and lariats Yamazaki down for a near fall. Tenzan connects with a Mountain Bomb and covers. Kensuke quickly breaks it up, and Muta throws Kensuke to the floor. Tenzan powerbombs Yamazaki and gets a near fall after a diving headbutt. Tenzan goes for another diving headbutt, but Muta intentionally sprays the mist in Tenzan's eyes. Chono runs-in and gives Muta a Yakuza Kick. Kensuke nails Chono with a lariat. He runs off the ropes and nails Tenzan with a lariat to the back of his head. Yamazaki locks in a cross armbreaker, and Tenzan taps out. Chono is busy yelling at Muta on the floor.
Kokushi & Hakushi vs. Masahiro Chono & Mike Barton
This is from September 16, 2001 at the Nagoya Rainbow Hall. This was a decent tag match, but nothing really done to fill the novelty part of Muto and Shinzaki dressing up. Some highlights were Kokushi and Hakushi using a double praying ropewalk chop and double praying powerbombs. There was some comedy where Kokushi thought about hitting Chono with a chair. However, he put the chair down, prayed to it and Chono catches him with a Yakuza kick. Kokushi won the match for his team when he sprayed white mist into Chono's eyes and nailed him with the Shining Wizard.
After that match, a music video aired of highlights from Muta’s matches on all volumes of the Anthology. They also aired highlights of matches not on the anthology like his 1997 G1 Climax match with Scott Norton and his deathmatch in 1999 with Atsushi Onita’s alter ego known as The Great Nita.
Final Score: 6.0 [Average]
Ryan Mancuso can be reached at email@example.com