The Great Muta in New Japan Vol. 4
review by Ryan Mancuso

For those wondering about the 3 prior volumes of Muta and why I am not reviewing them in chronological order, I did have them at one time. I was a huge Great Muta fan going back to his NWA run in 1989 and these videos were a must buy for me. However, the 3 prior volumes got damaged and I had to throw them away. I'll give you one hint as to how they got damaged and it begins with the letter K. For those who know where I live, you could do the math. As you can read from the title, this tape takes place during Muta's nWo run in New Japan in 1997 and a special match in 1998. Onto the review:

Before the matches start, the tape starts off with a very well done music video with Muta in action while his theme music is playing.

The Great Muta vs. Shiro Koshinaka

This was from February 16, 1997 at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. Muta battles the leader of Heisei Ishingun in Shiro Koshinaka. Muta attacks early and spays the mist onto the flag of Heisei Ishingun. Despite Muta trying to slow the match down, Koshinaka was pretty motivated here. It seemed that fire also gave Muto a chance to be a little more motivated than usual under the paint. It definitely made the work of this match better than the usual Muta match. They tried to use a table towards the end of the match. Both men tried to use it for something other than piledriving the other through it, but the execution was off and hurt the quality of the match. Muta got the win with the moonsault off the top rope. Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Scott Norton, Hiro Saito and Buff Bagwell showed up after the match to offer Muta a spot in nWo Japan. Chono took off his shirt and offered it to Muta. Muta did not accept the shirt, but he did not reject the nWo either. nWo Japan mugged Koshinaka after the match. Heisei Ishingun got into the ring to save their boss.

The Great Muta vs. Lord Steven Regal

This was from August 3, 1997 during a non-tournament match of the G1 Climax. This was also at the Sumo Hall. Muta accepted the nWo's offer to join with them in May 1997 on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Regal is not looking physically good here. His demons were taking over him. He was getting out of shape because he was hiding his upper body with the singlet. Thankfully, Regal was able to fight those demons and is one of the main reasons I watch Smackdown. This was a match that I felt ended abruptly. The match ended right when things were starting to get going. In a cool visual, Regal was nailing Muta with palm strikes on the ground when Muta caught him perfectly with the green mist. Muta wins the match with the moonsault.

Different Style Fight: The Great Muta vs. Naoya Ogawa

This was from August 10, 1997 at the Nagoya Dome. This was way before Ogawa became Captain Hustle. He was still in Judo gear and lacked any charisma at the time. I give Ogawa credit for being able to find a way to connect with pro wrestling crowds less than 18 months later. New Japan was building him up as their next big fighting figure due to him winning the Silver Medal in Judo for the 1992 Olympics. Muta got a real cool entrance with nWo ninjas doing flips on the ramp. One of them actually fell off the ramp, but was okay. They all carried torches while Muta walked to the ring. These were under special rules where the only ways to win are KO or submissions. Antonio Inoki was a special enforcer. He was there to help prevent nWo Japan from interfering.

Muta sprayed the green mist into Inoki's eyes. Inoki slapped Muta and told Ogawa to attack him. For a match that was supposed to resemble a shoot, this failed badly. Muta choked Ogawa with the belt from Ogawa's gi. Ogawa was still really green and looked like a fool, despite the company pushing him as the next hero, for letting Muta get away with his stuff. Muta escaped Ogawa's Triangle Choke by spraying the green mist and kicked Ogawa in the groin. Muta got the submission with a cross armbreaker and Tiger Mask Sayama threw in the towel.

The Great Muta vs. Tadao Yasuda

This was from September 13, 1997 at Gumma Arena. This was back when Yasuda was the lovable, goofy babyface. He rarely won matches at the time, but the crowds liked him when he fought back on offense. Yasuda was never good in the ring, but he has this charisma that makes him likable. This was a very short match with Muta using weapons and Yasuda making a fiery comeback. Muta countered Yasuda's Cobra Twist with the green mist. Muta got the win with a chop to the head off the top rope.

The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki

This was from September 23, 1997 at the famous Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. Kensuke & Yamazaki were the IWGP Tag Champions at the time, but this was a non-title match. Throughout the tour, there had been dissension between nWo Japan and Muta. There had been miscommunication between Muta and his nWo Japan teammates in tag matches a few days before this one. This was easily the best match of the entire tape. The match quality was good. Yamazaki looked great in there. Everyone else looked fine in their performance.

However, this match was more about giving a memorable angle than a memorable match. I think it succeeded because I thought the pay off was huge. Before the match, Muta wanted to have distance from his nWo Japan comrades. However, Muta and Chono were able to work as a team early in the match. They did until past the 10 minute mark when Chono accidentally hit Muta with a diving shoulderblock. This leads to Muta walking out of the match, and Chono has to fight the IWGP Tag Champions by himself. However, it was the IWGP Tag Champions that were in a disadvantage because Chono got help from his nWo Japan buddies. They would distract the referee so that Hiro Saito and Hiroyoshi Tenzan would interfere in the match. Also, Chono would get nWo Sting's baseball bat and nailed his opponents with it. With constant interference from nWo Japan during the last 5 minutes, it seemed that Chono had control of the match for good when …… well you are going to have to read my play-by-play to find out what happened:

Dissension between Muta and the rest of nWo Japan was clear even before the match because nWo Japan would walk to the ring first while Muta's music was playing. After they got to the ring, Muta would make his way to the ring. During introductions, Muta would stand in a neutral corner and not with nWo Japan. Also, Muta is not wearing the nWo letters on his face paint. Things are not looking good for Muta and Chono already.

Bell rings with Chono and Yamazaki starting things off. Chono poses to try to rally support from the crowd. Yamazaki throws a kick, but Chono catches the leg and uses an eye rake. Chono runs off the ropes and Yamazaki throws a high kick. Chono stops his momentum to make Yamazaki miss the kick. Chono bounces off the ropes to catches Yamazaki with a Yakuza Kick. Chono goes for a suplex, but Yamazaki catches him with a quick takedown into a Fujiwara armbar. Chono quickly reaches the ropes. Yamazaki has a waistlock. Chono goes for a low blow, but Yamazaki catches the leg and puts Chono in an ankle lock. Chono reaches the ropes to break the hold. Chono spits at Kensuke and demands that he enters the ring. Kensuke is tagged in and Chono tags in Muta. That is not going to help make the problems between him and Muta any better.

Muta locks in a lengthy side headlock. Kensuke escapes by throwing Muta to the ropes. Muta and Kensuke trade shoulderblocks, but neither man budges. Muta runs off the ropes. Kensuke goes for a lariat, but Muta rolls under. Muta hits a spin kick, but it barely affects Kensuke. Kensuke knocks Muta down with a lariat. Muta with an eye rake and throws Kensuke to the floor. As Muta was going to join him outside, Kensuke quickly rolls back into the ring. Muta stands on the apron, and Kensuke knocks him off with a lariat. Muta is very frustrated. He grabs an umbrella from one of the aisles, but decides the better of things by putting it back down. Muta reenters the ring. He kicks and eye rakes Kensuke. He tags in Chono.

Chono snapmare's Kensuke down and puts him in a neck vice. Chono picks up Kensuke and uses a swinging neckbreaker. Kensuke quickly recovers and puts Chono in an armwringer. He tags in Yamazaki. They put Chono in a double Fujiwara armbar. Muta quickly breaks things up. Yamazaki has Chono in an armwringer and goes for a Fujiwara armbar. Chono fights it off and rakes Yamazaki in the eyes. He takes Yamazaki to his corner and tags in Muta. Muta snapmare's Yamazaki down and uses his flash elbowdrop. Muta has a piece of small rope and chokes Yamazaki with it. To hide it from the referee, he puts on a headscissors while choking Yamazaki with the rope. Kensuke tries to break it up, but Muta still has the choke on. The referee sees what is going on and forces a break. The referee confiscates the small ropes, but Muta has another small piece to choke Yamazaki with. He does so and Chono enters the ring to use a headbutt onto Yamazaki. Kensuke breaks the choke up and the referee gets the second small rope.

Muta rams Yamazaki's head into the turnbuckles and tags in Chono. Chono stomps and chokes Yamazaki with his boot. Yamazaki rolls out of the ring. Muta whips him into the guardrail. Muta grabs an umbrella, different from the one he got earlier, and jabs Yamazaki with it. nWo Sting gets involved by choking Yamazaki with his baseball bat. Muta takes nWo Sting's bat and jabs Yamazaki with it. The nWo throws Yamazaki back into the ring and into Chono's waiting arms. Chono spikes Yamazaki with a piledriver and covers. Yamazaki escapes at 2. Muta enters the ring. They whip Yamazaki off the ropes and catch him with a double lariat. Muta knocks Kensuke down. Yamazaki gets up and catches Chono's leg. He dragon screw's Chono down. He does the same thing to Muta. Kensuke gets up and Yamazaki tags him in.

Kensuke runs off the ropes and knocks Chono down with a lariat. He does the same to Muta. Chono is thrown off the ropes and hits the Yakuza Kick. However, Kensuke is also still standing. Kensuke hits another lariat on Chono, but Chono is still standing. Chono runs off the ropes again, but Kensuke catches him a powerslam. Kensuke covers, but Muta breaks up the pin. Yamazaki enters the ring and throws Muta to the floor. Yamazaki joins him out there. Kensuke goes for a Scorpion Deathlock, but Hiroyoshi Tenzan gets on the apron. Kensuke lets go and knocks Tenzan down. Chono is still down and Kensuke locks in the Strangle Hold Alpha instead. Yamazaki goes for a high kick, but Muta ducks and Yamazaki's foot hits the ring post. Muta enters the ring to break up the hold.

Yamazaki is able to recover quickly and try a Fujiwara armbar. However, Muta counters by spraying Yamazaki in the eyes with the green mist. Muta and Chono start to double team Kensuke. Chono uses a drop toehold and Muta bounces off the ropes with another flash elbowdrop. Muta whips Kensuke into the corner and connects with a handspring elbowsmash. Muta takes Kensuke down with a face crusher. Muta holds Kensuke up and Chono climbs the top turnbuckle. Chono dives off with a diving shoulderblock, but Kensuke gets out of the way and Muta takes the full impact of that move. That miscue just made Muta snap. He shoves Chono out of the way and walks out on his partner. Chono wonders what is going on. It looks like Muta has left nWo Japan high and dry.

Kensuke whips Chono into the corner and takes him down with a face crusher. Kensuke runs off the ropes, but Hiro Saito trips him and drags him to the floor. While the referee is distracted, nWo Japan mug Kensuke on the floor. They do some damage to arm and throw him back into the ring. Chono uses an armbreaker. He goes for another, but Yamazaki breaks it up with a few kicks the body and a high kick to knock Chono down. Chono looks to his corner, but no one is there to tag. nWo Sting slips Chono his baseball bat. nWo Japan distracts the referee and Chono nails Yamazaki with it a few times. Kensuke goes for a lariat, but Chono hits Kensuke in the arm with the bat instead.

Chono distracts the referee. Hiro Saito bodyslams the referee and uses his great looking senton. Tenzan climbs the top rope and connects with a diving headbutt. Chono locks Kensuke in the STF. After doing some damage, he lets go to drop a knee to Kensuke's groin. Chono locks in the STF again. A few seconds later, there is a commotion coming from the crowd. It is KEIJI MUTO walking down to the ring to a loud reaction. This could be serious trouble because Keiji Muto wanted absolutely nothing to do with the group. It was his alter ego that joined nWo Japan. He enters the ring and fires up. Chono is begging off for mercy. Muto throws down the nWo wristband and looks like he is about to fight Chono. nWo Japan cannot believe what is happening.

Muto attacks, but it is Kensuke who gets hit. A big swerve by Muto and nWo Japan because they set everyone up. Muto catches Kensuke with a dropkick. He whips Kensuke into the opposite corner and connects with his handspring elbow smash. He whips Kensuke into a Chono Yakuza kick. Chono tags in Muto and holds off Yamazaki. Muto uses a backbreaker. He climbs the top rope and connects with the moonsault. The referee counts: 1! 2! 3! Keiji Muto has officially joined nWo Japan. They pose for photos. Muto even takes an nWo t-shirt off the back of a fan and puts it on to show his support. As they leave the ring, Muto kindly gives the shirt back to the fan. That fan was very ecstatic that it was his shirt that Muto wore.

The Great Muta & The Great Kabuki vs. Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

This was from August 8, 1998 in front of a huge crowd at the Osaka Dome. This was a part of Kabuki's retirement tour in 1998 and New Japan allowed him to have a match at their Osaka Dome show. Muta has "Son" written on his face paint because he was billed as Kabuki's son when he first did the Muta gimmick in the United States. The match was not good, but served its purpose in giving Kabuki one final chance to shine in the spotlight. The highlight of the match included Muta and Goto trading ramp spring lariats. In the end of the match, Goto climbed the top rope and jumped off for an attack. However, Muta and Kabuki used a double mist attack onto Goto. Kabuki lariats Goto and got the pin. Kabuki got on the microphone. He mixed in some Japanese and English in his speech as he said, "Thank You", "Goodbye" and "Sayonara" to the crowd. Backstage, Muta speaks in English. He says, "I miss daddy", "I am Kabuki" and "Daddy, I miss you. I love you".

Final Thoughts: The only match that really stands out from this tape is Muta & Chono vs. Kensuke & Yamazaki. Good wrestling with a great payoff to an angle. The novelty of Muta teaming up with Kabuki could also gain curiosity of viewers. Recommended only if you are a die hard Muta fan who wants to see every match he did. Otherwise, you are better off picking up one of the earlier volumes.

Final Score: 4.0 [ Poor ]

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