review by Kevin Wilson
The Date: May 3rd, 2004
Location: Tokyo Dome
2004 is now officially over-represented on this site as far as reviews go, but I had to do this show. First, we have four K-1 vs. New Japan matches that should be interesting (all four were worked). Also, in the main event Nakamura gets his first chance to re-gain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship as he goes up against Bob Sapp. And finally, freaking MENG makes a rare Japanese appearance. I have no idea if this event will be good or not, but it should still be fun to watch. Here is the full card:
- Heat, Tiger Mask, and Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon, and American Dragon
- Giant Machine, Super Strong Machine, and New Strong Machine vs. Tenzan, Nishimura, and Makabe
- Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
- Grudge Match: Josh Barnett vs. Ken Shamrock
- Dolgorsuren Sumiyabazar and Dolgorsuren Serjbudee vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Meng
- Manabu Nakanishi and Kensuke Sasaki vs. Yuji Nagata and Kendo Kashin
- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Takayama and Minoru Suzuki vs. Masahiro Chono and Murakami
- New Japan vs. K-1: Yutaka Yoshie vs. Jan Nortje
- New Japan vs. K-1: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sean O'Haire
- New Japan vs. K-1: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Musashi
- New Japan vs. K-1 and IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Bob Sapp vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This first match is the pinnacle of randomness. Tenryu must have booked it.
Heat, Tiger Mask, and Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon, and American Dragon
Tiger Mask and Ultimo Dragon start things off. Tie-up, Tiger Mask pushes Ultimo Dragon into the ropes, Ultimo Dragon reverses positions with him but he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, wrist lock by Ultimo Dragon and he drives his elbow into Tiger Mask's arm. Tiger Mask flips out of it however and reverses it, but Ultimo Dragon quickly gets out of it. Tiger Mask goes off the ropes, leapfrog by Ultimo Dragon and he shoulderblocks Tiger Mask to the mat. Tiger Mask gets back to his feet and goes off the ropes again but Ultimo Dragon avoids the spinning heel kick. Back kick by Tiger Mask, Irish whip, reversed, Ultimo Dragon goes for a back bodydrop but Tiger Mask lands on his feet. Ultimo Dragon goes off the ropes, Tiger Mask now goes for the back bodydrop but Ultimo Dragon lands on his feet as well. Both wrestlers go for back kicks but they only graze each other. Tiger Mask tags in Heat while Ultimo Dragon tags in Kanemoto. Kanemoto and Heat circle each other, waistlock by Heat but Kanemoto reverses it with a drop toehold. Waistlock by Kanemoto, but Heat rolls out of the hold and gets back to his feet. Kanemoto goes for a drop toehold, but Heat maintains his balance and kicks Kanemoto in the leg. Back up, back kick by Heat and he tags in Marufuji. Kicks by Marufuji in the corner and he chokes Kanemoto with his boot. Marufuji picks up Kanemoto, Irish whip, and he nails the jumping elbow strike. He goes to pick up Kanemoto, but Kanemoto slaps on an ankle lock. Marufuji quickly gets to the ropes, Kanemoto gets Marufuji into the corner, snapmare, and after a kick in the back he tags in American Dragon.
Uppercut by American Dragon, Marufuji returns with forearms, Irish whip by American Dragon and he delivers a lariat. Cover, but Marufuji kicks out at two. American Dragon picks up Marufuji, drop toehold by Marufuji and he applies a side headlock. American Dragon reverses it with a wristlock and applies a cross face hold. Stretch hold by American Dragon but Marufuji flips his way out of it. Marufuji goes for a dropkick, but American Dragon dodges it. Tie-up, Marufuji pushes American Dragon back into the corner and tags in Heat. Heat throws American Dragon into his corner and tells Ultimo Dragon to tag in. Ultimo Dragon does so, Ultimo Dragon throws Heat into the corner and chops him repeatedly. Irish whip by Ultimo Dragon, reversed, Ultimo Dragon goes for a headscissors but Heat drops him to the mat. Heat straddles Ultimo Dragon in the corner and dropkicks him twice before kicking him low. Heat tags in Tiger Mask, Irish whip by Tiger Mask and he delivers a dropkick. Back up, double armed suplex by Tiger Mask and he drops a knee onto Ultimo Dragon. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Kick to the back by Tiger Mask and he tags in Heat. Kick to the midsection by Heat and he hits a snap suplex. Single leg crab hold by Heat but he releases it and tags in Marufuji. Double Irish whip to Ultimo Dragon and they hit a double dropkick. Cover, but Ultimo Dragon gets a foot on the ropes. Marufuji picks up Ultimo Dragon, scoop slam in front of the corner and he goes out to the apron. Slingshot elbow drop by Marufuji, cover, but it gets a two count. Marufuji drops an elbow onto Ultimo Dragon's leg and applies a leg lock, but Ultimo Dragon grabs the bottom rope. Irish whip by Marufuji, but Ultimo Dragon rolls under the lariat attempt and hits a flying headscissors. Marufuji dropkicks Ultimo Dragon in the head before he can make the tag however and he tags in Heat.
Chops in the corner by Heat and he chokes Ultimo Dragon with his knee. Heat throws Ultimo Dragon into a different corner, Irish whip, but Ultimo Dragon jumps onto the ropes and hits a rebound body press. Ultimo Dragon goes for the Dragon Sleeper, Heat kicks his way out of it, but Ultimo Dragon kicks Heat in the back. Again he goes for the Dragon Sleeper, but again Heat kicks out of it before he can get it locked in. Heat stomps Ultimo Dragon in the back and delivers a back kick. Heat tags in Tiger Mask, who comes in the ring with a top rope missile dropkick. High kick by Tiger Mask in the corner, he puts Ultimo Dragon up onto the top turnbuckle and hits the avalanche-style double underhook suplex. Cover, but Ultimo Dragon barely kicks out. Backflip kneedrop by Tiger Mask, cover, but again it gets a two. Tiger Mask picks up Ultimo Dragon, goes off the ropes but Ultimo Dragon catches him with a backbreaker. Kicking combination by Ultimo Dragon and he hits a quebrada off the second rope. Tiger Mask tags in Marufuji, but Ultimo Dragon makes the tag to Kanemoto. Marufuji rolls up Kanemoto, but it gets a two count. Marufuji goes off the ropes but Kanemoto catches him with a high kick. Kanemoto picks up Marufuji and pushes him back into the corner. High knee by Kanemoto and he delivers the bootscrapes followed by the running kick to the face. Kanemoto goes off the ropes, Marufuji had slide out to the apron and goes for a swan dive move but Kanemoto dropkicks him in the stomach. Dropkick to the head by Kanemoto while Marufuji is slumped in the corner, he picks up Marufuji and applies a waistlock, but Marufuji gets out of it. Superkick by Marufuji and he nails the Shiranui, cover, but Kanemoto barely kicks out. Marufuji puts Kanemoto into the Tree of Woe, goes out to the opposite apron and delivers a springboard dropkick. Knees by Marufuji, he goes off the ropes, but Kanemoto catches him with an overhead suplex. Falcon Arrow by Kanemoto, cover, but as the count gets to two he applies an ankle lock. Tiger Mask runs in to break it up, and Kanemoto makes the tag to American Dragon.
American Dragon picks up Marufuji and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Marufuji delivers an enzigieri however and tags in Heat. Kick to the stomach by American Dragon, Irish whip, reversed, American Dragon avoids the first dropkick but is hit by the second one. Irish whip by Heat from the corner, reversed, Heat flips over American Dragon when he charges in but American Dragon connects with a dropkick anyway. American Dragon picks up Heat, Irish whip from the corner but Heat kicks him when he charges in. Another kick by Heat, and a third, but American Dragon finally connects with an elbow. American Dragon puts Heat onto the top turnbuckle, joins him, and nails the superplex. Cover, but Tiger Mask breaks it up. While their team mates brawl out side, Heat and American Dragon trade strikes in the ring. American Dragon goes off the ropes but Heat dropkicks him in the knee. Kick by Heat, but American Dragon catches the second one and hits a rolling fireman's carry. American Dragon goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for a diving headbutt, but Heat rolls out of the way. Dropkick to the head by Heat, but Ultimo Dragon runs in the ring and delivers an Asai DDT to Heat. Marufuji suddenly flies in the ring with a springboard dropkick onto Ultimo Dragon, but Kanemoto kicks Marufuji out of the ring. Tiger Mask then comes in and delivers a dropkick to Kanemoto, knocking him out of the ring as well. American Dragon gives Tiger Mask a lariat however, clearing the ring of illegal men. Roll-up by Heat on American Dragon, but he kicks out at two. Savate kick by Heat on American Dragon and Marufuji gives American Dragon a superkick. Minoru Special by Heat but Kanemoto breaks it up. Marufuji and Tiger Mask throw Kanemoto and Ultimo Dragon out of the ring, and while Tiger Mask hits his tope suicida on Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon avoids Marufuji's pescado. Ultimo Dragon then gets back in the ring, goes to where Tiger Mask is on the outside and delivers an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring with the legal men, American Dragon blocks an attempted Fishermans Buster by Heat, Heat goes for the Minoru Special again but this time American Dragon slithers out of it. Release Regal-Plex by American Dragon, he quickly picks Heat back up and delivers a Regal-Plex Hold for the three count! Your winners: Koji Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon, and American Dragon
Match Thoughts: This was Ultimo Dragon's first match back in New Japan after leaving WWE. Also, Heat is known today as Minoru, in case anyone didn't know. This match was all kinds of fun. Yes, there were definitely "selling" issues (shame on you Ultimo Dragon, you know better) and there were a few disjointed parts, but overall I think it was a strong opener. They had to tone down the high spots since they were so early on the card, but with different wrestlers coming in and out they kept it interesting and the time flew by. Since six man tags are hard to do with any psychology, I almost prefer the wrestlers to not even bother try and just put on a good show. This was a big win for Danielson, as Minoru was still above him in the peaking order. Good way to open the show. Score: 6.5
Giant Machine, Super Strong Machine, and New Strong Machine vs. Tenzan, Nishimura, and Makabe
Giant Machine and Makabe start things off. Giant Machine immediately pushes Makabe into the ropes and gives him a headbutt. Tenzan and Nishimura both run in, but Giant Machine holds them both back and gives them a headbutt. Giant Machine tags in Strong Machine, Irish whip by Strong Machine from the corner on Makabe and he hits a lariat. Another lariat by Strong Machine and he suplexes Makabe to the mat. Strong Machine goes off the ropes, but Makabe catches him with a spear. Makabe picks up Strong Machine, throws him into the corner, and hits a series of strikes. Makabe tags in Nishimura, who gives Strong Machine an uppercut. Backslide by Strong Machine but it gets two, Nishimura sneaks in a backslide of his own but he only gets a two count as well. Strong Machine tags in New Machine, Nishimura clubs New Machine but New Machine doesn't feel it. Side headlock by New Machine, Nishimura Irish whips out of it but New Machine shoulderblocks him down. Scoop slam by New Machine and he clubs Nishimura in the back. New Machine applies a bear hug and drives Nishimura back into the corner. Irish whip by New Machine and he applies a sleeperhold, but Nishimura elbows out of it and applies the Cobra Twist. New Machine easily hiptosses out of it, Tenzan comes in to help, double Irish whip to New Machine but New Machine knocks them both down with a double clothesline. New Machine picks up Nishimura and makes the tag to Strong Machine. Punches in the corner by Strong Machine, snapmare, and he hits a senton for a two count. Nishimura manages to tag in Tenzan, chops by Tenzan against the ropes, Irish whip, and Tenzan hits a lariat. Chop to the throat by Tenzan, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but New Machine breaks it up. Tenzan goes off the ropes and goes for a heel kick, but Strong Machine blocks it. Strong Machine grabs Tenzan, but Makabe runs in and delivers a lariat to him before he can do a move. Makabe stays in as Strong Machine tags in New Machine, Makabe tries to lariat New Machine but New Machine doesn't go down. Makabe goes off the ropes but New Machine catches him with a big boot. Lariat by Strong Machine on Makabe, Irish whip to the corner, Strong Machine hits a lariat followed by a Giant Machine splash and a New Machine running elbow. New Machine picks up Makabe and slams him to the mat. Cover, but Makabe barely kicks out. Double chokeslam by New Machine and Giant Machine followed by an elbow drop by New Machine, cover, and New Machine picks up the three count. Your winners: Giant Machine, Super Strong Machine, and New Strong Machine
Match Thoughts: Typical New Japan booking... bring in a few foreigners to squash your stars and then never let your stars get the win back. New Machine at least was watchable, but Giant Machine was pretty bad which is why he did very little in the match. I don't think that Giant or New Machine were even hurt in this match as Strong Machine was the only one that Tenzan and company had any luck against. The crowd wasn't into it at all, as they realized that it was insulting and not entertaining. I'll never understand why New Japan sacrifices their home-grown stars so often, there was really no point to it here. And if you have to do it, at least get real wrestlers and not big men that don't seem to know what they are doing. Score: 2.5
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
This is Nakajima's "true" debut. More on that in a minute. Tie-up, Liger pushes Nakajima against the ropes but Nakajima pushes him back. Dropkick by Nakajima and Liger rolls out of the ring. Nakajima goes to do a dive, Liger moves, so Nakajima swings himself back in the ring. Liger returns, takedown by Liger and he applies a stretch hold. Camel clutch by Liger, he releases the hold and applies the Romero Special. Eventually he lets Nakajima go, Liger then picks Nakajima back up and elbows him in the back. Elbow by Liger, Nakajima fires back, but Liger slaps him back into the corner. Irish whip by Liger and he delivers a back elbow strike. Powerbomb by Liger and he waits for Nakajima to get back to his feet. Liger goes off the ropes, but Nakajima catches him with a pair of high kicks. Liger is knocked out cold, but manages to get up right at the Nine Count. Kick combination by Nakajima, Irish whip, and he nails a dropkick. Cover, but Liger barely kicks out. The crowd is suddenly behind Nakajima, Nakajima nails a German suplex hold but Liger gets a shoulder up. Forearms by Nakajima, but Liger ducks a heel kick and hits a shotei. Cover, but it gets a two count. Liger applies a crab hold, but Nakajima inches to the ropes and makes it to force a break. Liger picks up Nakajima and hits a Liger Kick in the corner. Sasaki and Hokuto suddenly appear at ringside cheering Nakajima on, but Liger picks up Nakajima and delivers an open hand slap. Cover, but it gets a two count. Liger re-applies the crab hold and really locks it in, and this time Nakajima has no choice but to submit. Your winner: Jushin Thunder Liger
Post match: Sasaki gets in the ring to take care of Nakajima while Liger looks on. Sasaki helps Nakajima to his feet, Liger offers a handshake to Nakajima and gives him a hug before raising his arm for the crowd.
Match Thoughts: As far as trial-esque matches go, Liger gave Nakajima a good bit of offense before putting him away, certainly a lot more then Sasaki gave Suwama during his trial match last year. This wasn't really Nakajima's debut as he had wrestled in World Japan, but New Japan was just pretending like that didn't happen. The fact that Liger actually allowed Nakajima to get near-falls on him shows how highly he thought of Nakajima as a future talent, and it was fun hearing the crowd get behind the young phenom (Nakajima was only 16). Course the outcome was never in doubt, but it wasn't a squash and it was better then a lot of other "debut" matches I have seen. Score: 6.0
Josh Barnett vs. Ken Shamrock
This is a Grudge Match. They trade strike attempts to start the match with neither connecting, but Shamrock takes Barnett down to the mat. They struggle for position but get back to their feet, takedown by Barnett, Shamrock goes for the ankle but Barnett gets a leg lock applied first. They trade holds on the mat for several minutes with no real success and both men end up back on their feet. Shamrock goes for punches by Barnett goes for knees, but neither can land a clean hit. Barnett grabs Shamrock around the waist and suplexes him to the mat, he tries to get into the mount position but Shamrock reverses it. Back up, knees by Shamrock and he lands a punch, but Barnett takes him back down. Shamrock gets back up, Barnett knees him into the corner and back out of it, but Shamrock applies a leg lock. Barnett grabs the rope however and Shamrock eventually breaks the hold. Barnett gets back up and goes for a series of kicks, but Shamrock blocks them and delivers a kick of his own. Shamrock waits for Barnett to get up and connects with more kicks, but Barnett catches one and delivers a capture suplex. Leg lock by Barnett but Shamrock rolls to the ropes, forcing a break. Back up, they trade strike attempts, Barnett takes Shamrock down and applies a front facelock into a waistlock before going back to the leg. They both try to get to the other one's leg but neither are able to lock on a solid hold. They end up in the ropes and the referee forces them to break. Shamrock goes for a takedown but Barnett maintains his balance. Fujiwara armbar by Shamrock, but Barnett quickly gets a toe on the ropes to force the break. Back up, kicks to the arm by Shamrock and Barnett crumbles to the mat. The referee begins the 10 count but Barnett is up at 8. Punches by Shamrock while Barnett is against the ropes, but Barnett pushes him back and hiptosses him to the mat. To their feet again, knees by Barnett and he lands a high kick to the head of Shamrock. The referee starts the 10 count for Shamrock but Shamrock is up at 9. They circle each other, Shamrock hits a flurry of punches and a knee drops Barnett onto his back. The referee administers the count, but Barnett is up at 9. Knee by Shamrock, but Barnett blocks it and connects with a knee of his own. Suplex by Barnett and he applies a front facelock but Barnett is distracted Nagai getting up on the apron and releases the hold. Shamrock tries to attack Barnett from behind, Barnett goes for a high kick, but Shamrock catches his foot and applies an ankle lock. Barnett reaches the ropes, but Shamrock won't break and pulls him back to the middle of the ring. Again Barnett reaches the ropes, but Shamrock still won't break it. A third time Barnett reaches the ropes, the referee tells Shamrock to break, but Shamrock shoves the referee back. Shamrock puts the ankle lock back on, the referee gets him off again, but again Shamrock shoves the referee to the mat. As Barnett hits a high kick the referee calls for the bell and disqualifies Shamrock. Your winner by DQ: Josh Barnett
Post match: Shamrock challenges Barnett to a match that didn't have ropes and a referee. He wants Barnett in a no-rules match, and Barnett accepts.
Match Thoughts: For a grudge match they sure were laid back. This was an odd match was they tried to structure it like a UWF-I match but unfortunately most of it was extremely dull and the crowd only got into it during the big strikes. Some of the strikes looked really good, but others were obviously pulled which hurt the effect a little. Yes, I know it was a worked match, but since they were wrestling in a shoot-style I am a little more particular with how the moves look. The minutes they spent on the mat doing absolutely nothing hurt it though, as did Barnett releasing a hold that was working just because Nagai got on the apron. Him doing so really worked against the general structure of the match. But it wasn't terrible and I appreciate what they were trying to do, I just don't think it came across as well as they were probably hoping. Score: 4.5
Dolgorsuren Sumiyabazar and Dolgorsuren Serjbudee vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Meng
Say those names ten times fast. Blue Wolf and Meng start things off. Tie-up, and they go into a Test of Strength. Knee to the stomach by Blue Wolf and he applies a wristlock. Takedown by Blue Wolf and he goes for a single leg crab hold, Meng blocks it, but Blue Wolf applies a leg lock until Meng gets to the ropes and he releases the hold. Stomps by Blue Wolf, but Meng gets back to his feet. Tie-up, Meng pushes Blue Wolf into the corner but he tags in Sumiyabazar. Sumiyabazar tells Tenryu to tag in, so he does so. Sumiyabazar drives Tenryu back into the corner and hits a combination of chops. Tenryu comes back with palm strikes however, sending Sumiyabazar reeling into the opposite corner. Chops by Tenryu, but Sumiyabazar reverses positions with him and hits a series of slaps of his own. Enzigieri by Tenryu, but Sumiyabazar shakes it off. Another enzigieri, but Sumiyabazar is up first. Sumiyabazar goes outside the ring and paces around, then goes over the railing and grabs a chair. He brings the chair to ringside, but Tenryu dives off the apron and tackles Sumiyabazar to the mat. Tenryu is up first, he picks up Sumiyabazar and slides him into the ring. Blue Wolf runs in and lariats Tenryu, then Sumiyabazar comes to the corner and tags him in. Clubs to the back by Blue Wolf, but Meng tags himself in and punches Blue Wolf in the back. The two trade chops, punches by Blue Wolf, he goes off the ropes but Tenryu kicks him from the apron and Meng hits a DDT. Meng picks up Blue Wolf and delivers a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Meng picks up Blue Wolf again and hits a vertical suplex, cover, but again it only gets a two. Meng tags in Tenryu, Tenryu grabs Blue Wolf, Irish whip, and he nails a lariat. Snap brainbuster by Tenryu, cover, but it gets a two count. Tenryu picks up Blue Wolf, but Blue Wolf punches him back. Tenryu tags in Meng, who kicks Blue Wolf in the head. Elbow to the head by Meng and he clubs Blue Wolf to the mat. Irish whip to the corner by Meng, Tenryu hits an enzigieri from the apron and Meng follows with a lariat. Meng goes for a piledriver, but Blue Wolf reverses it with a back bodydrop. Meng goes off the ropes and both men clothesline each other, dazing both wrestlers. Luckily for Blue Wolf he stumbles back into his own corner and is able to tag in Sumiyabazar. Spear by Sumiyabazar, Tenryu comes in the ring, but he is thrown to the mat. Short arm lariats by Sumiyabazar on Meng and he nails the Mongol Slam. Sumiyabazar tags in Blue Wolf, Blue Wolf picks up Meng and hits the Mongol Hammer, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners: Dolgorsuren Sumiyabazar and Dolgorsuren Serjbudee
Match Thoughts: Serjbudee is normally known as Blue Wolf (which I used in the play by play so it was easier to read), he just went under his real name here since he was teaming with his brother. This would be the first time they ever teamed up in New Japan. Meng had officially retired at this point (he was over 50!), but still made some appearances here and there. Why he is on this card I have no idea, but that is the magic of puroresu.... you never know who will show up. Anyway, this match was interesting as Sumiyabazar obviously didn't know how to sell Tenryu's offense.... I know his enzigieris look weak, but everyone else acts like they hurt so he probably should have too. He looked pretty lost even though he hit his own moves crisply, so its probably a good thing that Blue Wolf was in the ring more. I also have no idea why he went to get a chair, all that did was make the match even more bizarre. Even though Meng was retired at this point he looked pretty good in the ring and did what was asked of him (again, not much). I can't say it wasn't entertaining as watching Sumiyabazar interact with Tenryu had me chuckling and it was nice to see Meng again, but overall I wouldn't call it a very "good" match. Score: 5.5
Manabu Nakanishi and Kensuke Sasaki vs. Yuji Nagata and Kendo Kashin
Nakanishi and Kashin start off, but Kashin immediately tags in Nagata. Hokuto was at ringside of course to make sure no one cheated. Tie-up, and they trade forearm strikes. After a minute Nakanishi hits a series of chops, he charges Kashin but Kashin jumps off the apron. Kick to the face by Nakanishi to Nagata and he connects with a series of knee strikes. Again Nakanishi is distracted by Kashin, then he engages Nagata in a slap battle. Irish whip by Nakanishi to the corner and he hits a lariat. Another Irish whip, but this time Nagata kicks him as he charges in. Backbreaker by Nakanishi, he picks up Nagata, scoop slam, and he hits a series of mounted punches. Kashin runs in to break it up, so Nakanishi tags in Sasaki. Sasaki picks up Nagata and chops him in the chest. Nagata returns with a slap and the two begin trading blows. Kicks to the leg by Nagata i and Sasaki falls to the mat. Nagata picks up Sasaki and hits a belly to belly suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Nagata tags in Kashin, Kashin throws Sasaki into the corner and signals for Nakanishi to tag in. Nakanishi does so, Kashin charges Nakanishi but Nakanishi knocks him back. Kashin fires back with his own punches and they trade blows, with Nakanishi getting the better of it. Mounted punches by Nakanishi but Nagata comes in and kicks him off. Kicks to the head by Kashin but Nakanishi gets up and kicks him back. Chops by Nakanishi and Kashin falls to the mat. Nakanishi stomps Kashin in the head but Kashin hits a double legged takedown as we can see that Nakanishi's nose is bleeding. Kashin tags in Nagata, who kicks Nakanishi in the chest. Nakanishi catches one of his kick however and knocks Nagata to the mat before tagging in Sasaki. Lariat by Sasaki, he picks up Nagata and delivers a vertical suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Sasaki and he knees Nagata in the ribs before hitting an Ipponzei. Cover, but it gets another two count. Sasaki tags in Nakanishi, who chops Nagata against the ropes. Kashin comes in to help, but Nakanishi punches him to the mat. Sasaki and Nakanishi both club on Kashin and Nakanishi throws Kashin out of the ring. Nakanishi tags in Sasaki, Sasaki picks up Nagata as we see Kashin walking up the ramp. Kicks by Sasaki, Irish whip to the corner and he hits a lariat. Cover, but Nagata kicks out. Nakanishi is tagged in, Irish whip by Nakanishi from the corner and he delivers a running boot to the face. Exploder by Nakanishi and he applies a Nagata Lock II just to be insulting. Kashin has made it back to ringside by now as Nakanishi picks up Nagata and tags in Sasaki. Sasaki headbutts Nagata and nails the Tornado Bomb, cover, but it only gets a two count. Sasaki goes off the ropes but Nagata catches him with an exploder. Nakanishi runs in, but he eats a heel kick from Nagata. Nagata goes to tag in Kashin, but Kashin has walked away again and isn't in the corner for a tag. Sasaki grabs Nagata from behind and hits a German suplex, he picks him back up and hits another release German suplex . Sasaki tags in Nakanishi, Irish whip by Sasaki to the corner and he hits a lariat. Nakanishi follows with a spear, Irish whip by Nakanishi and he delivers a jumping knee. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakanishi charges up, he goes off the ropes and hits a lariat. Cover, but Nagata barely gets a shoulder up. Nakanishi puts Nagata in the Argentine Backbreaker and then drops him to the mat. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Waistlock by Nakanishi and he goes for a suplex, Nagata won't go over, Sasaki comes in and bounces off the ropes to hit a lariat but Kashin trips him from the outside. Kashin comes in the ring but Nakanishi slams him to the mat and he is stomped by both wrestlers. Kashin and Nagata manage to his simultaneous low blows on their opponents and then argue for a minute, but when their opponents get back up, Kashin hits a lariat on Sasaki while Nagata delivers a big boot to Nakanishi. On the same page again, Irish whip by Nagata to the corner on Nakanishi and he hits a running boot. Kashin follows with a low blow to Nakanishi, exploder by Nagata, cover, but it gets a two count. Nagata applies the Nagata Lock III while Kashin applies the cross armbreaker to Sasaki, but Sasaki powerbombs out of the cross armbreaker and saves Nakanishi. Nakanishi picks up Nagata and hits a vertical suplex, while Sasaki beats up Kashin on the outside. Argentine Backbreaker by Nakanishi, but Kashin gets away from Sasaki and breaks it up. Nakanishi picks up Nagata, but Kashin throws salt into Nakanishi's eyes. Kashin applies a choke on Sasaki in the corner while Nagata hits Nakanishi with an enzigieri. Backdrop suplex hold by Nagata, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Yuji Nagata and Kendo Kashin
Match Thoughts: There is a long back story to this match that I don't really feel like getting into, but the bare basics is that Nagata kept having team mates turn on him (including Nakanishi), so he picked Kashin of all people (a former traitor to New Japan) to help him get his revenge. Kashin is well-known for turning on partners, but here he proves to be a strong ally and helps Nagata pick up the victory. The match itself wasn't bad, although it was more storyline-driven then anything else. Without Kashin, Nagata was screwed but when Kashin decided to help it didn't take long for them to pick up the win. Not bad, any match with Kashin will probably not be a technical masterpiece but they kept the crowd into it and it was entertaining. Score: 6.0
(c) Takayama and Minoru Suzuki vs. Masahiro Chono and Murakami
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Suzuki and Murakami start things off. They trade slap attempts but neither man can connect a clean shot. Slap by Suzuki but he ducks Murakami's attempt. Murakami lets Suzuki slap him again, and Murakami punches Suzuki against the ropes. Takedown by Murakami and he goes for the sleeper, but Murakami wiggles his way out of it and gets in a mount position. Mounted punches by Suzuki but Murakami switches positions with him and goes for a cross armbreaker. Suzuki gets out of the hold but Murakami kicks him to the mat. Octopus hold by Murakami as Chono cuts off Takayama, but Suzuki hiptosses his way out of it. Stomps by Suzuki, he picks up Murakami and applies a ground octopus hold. Suzuki eventually releases it, snapmare and he kicks Murakami in the back. Suzuki picks up Murakami and re-applies the octopus hold, but Chono breaks it up. Takayama comes in and throws Chono out of the ring, and Suzuki tags him into the match. Stomp by Takayama on Murakami but he makes the tag to Chono. Chono and Takayama tie-up, Takayama pushes Chono into the ropes and clubs him in the chest before backing off. Takayama applies a sleeper in the corner but breaks the hold at the referee's request. Again Takayama gets Chono into the ropes, but this time he breaks cleanly. Waistlock by Takayama, reversed into a wristlock by Chono, but Takayama scoop slams him to the mat. Takayama and Chono trade forearms, Takayama goes off the ropes and delivers a big boot before tagging in Suzuki. Knees in the corner by Suzuki and he applies a leg lock into a single leg crab hold, but Murakami runs in and breaks it up. Chono manages to tag in Murakami, who kicks Suzuki in the ribs. Mounted punches by Murakami, Suzuki tries to get out of it but Murakami applies the sleeper. Suzuki gets tied up in the ropes so Murakami releases the hold, but Chono pulls Suzuki outside the ring and connects with a series of punches and headbutts. Chono then rams Suzuki back-first into the apron before sliding him back into the ring. Kicks in the corner by Murakami and he tags in Chono.
Chono kicks Suzuki repeatedly in the leg and goes for a leg lock, but Suzuki pushes him off. Chono tags in Murakami, Murakami picks up Suzuki, double Irish whip, and they both knee Suzuki in the stomach. Yakuza Kick by Chono and he applies the STF, but Takayama comes in and breaks it up. Chono picks up Murakami and goes for a vertical suplex, Suzuki reverses it with a front facelock, but Murakami breaks it up. This gives Suzuki time to tag in Takayama however, kicks by Takayama and he delivers a jumping knee in the corner followed by a butterfly suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Cross armbreaker by Takayama, but Murakami runs in to break it up. Snapmare by Takayama and he connects with a running kick to the chest. Cocky cover by Takayama but it only gets a two. Takayama tags in Suzuki, snapmare by Suzuki and he applies a head scissors. Suzuki taunts Murakami, but Takayama blocks him from interfering. Stretch hold by Suzuki, but he releases the hold and stomps Chono in the back. Back up, slaps by Suzuki but Chono slaps him back. The two trade blows, but Suzuki slaps Chono to the mat. Suzuki tags in Takayama, who kicks Chono in the leg. Backdrop suplex by Takayama and he kicks Chono in the chest while Takayama kicks him in the back. Sleeperhold by Suzuki, but Chono gets out of it and then catches Takayama with a forearm when he charges in. Shining Yakuza Kick by Chono on Takayama and he tags in Murakami. Murakami punches Takayama back into the corner and stands on his back, but Suzuki is tagged in and pulls him off. Takayama runs in and kicks Murakami, and Suzuki applies a chicken wing hold while Takayama kicks him again. Suzuki picks up Murakami, but Murakami catches him with a punch to the face. Takayama kicks him in the back of the head however, but Murakami hiptosses him to the mat. Punches by Murakami on Suzuki and he kicks him repeatedly in the chest. Suzuki ducks a punch however and applies the sleeper, and takes Murakami to the mat while maintaining the hold. Chono breaks it up however, but Takayama kicks him back out of the ring. Suzuki picks up Murakami, nails a (very sloppy) Gotch-style piledriver and picks up the three count! Your winners and still champions: Takayama and Minoru Suzuki
Match Thoughts: Besides the botched ending (Murakami never take a piledriver before?), the match wasn't bad but Murakami looked out of place at times. When Chono and Takayama were in the ring the match was entertaining, but when it was Suzuki/Murakami they seemed to be going in circles. Suzuki's style is to embarrass his opponents and not let them do much, which is fine except that Murakami is a very limited worker as it is and it took him out of his element. So it wasn't unwatchable, Chono really helped, but between the awkward moments and botched ending it overall wasn't particularly good. Score: 4.5
Yutaka Yoshie vs. Jan Nortje
This is a New Japan vs. K-1 Match. Yoshie and Nortje circle each other to start, Yoshie gets Nortje into the corner, but Nortje reverses positions with him and punches him down into the corner. The referee finally gets him back, but Nortje continues kicking him until Yoshie falls out of the ring. Yoshie eventually rolls back in, punch to the stomach by Nortje, but Yoshie eventually catches one and pushes Nortje to the mat. Butt smash by Yoshie and he applies a single leg crab hold, but Nortje gets to the ropes. Stomps to the back by Yoshie, he picks up Nortje but Nortje elbows him in the stomach. Punches by Nortje, and a high kick sends Yoshie to the mat. The referee starts the count, but Yoshie is up at 8. Back fists by Yoshie and he hits a backdrop suplex. Yoshie goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a body press, he applies a camel clutch and Nortje taps! Your winner: Yutaka Yoshie
Match Thoughts: Clearly a worked match... you don't see body presses in shoots very often. It was worked like a shoot match (unlike the next match), but the punches looked so... well, worked, that it took some of the effect away. Plus, if they were going to work it like a shoot match then Yoshie probably shouldn't have done a body press off the top turnbuckle. Everything else he did fit into the match but that though and the spinning back fists were a nice touch. Nortje by this time was past his prime (if he ever had a prime), and the only real positive from the match is that the crowd really got behind Yoshie, which I guess is worth something. Score: 4.0
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sean O'Haire
This is a New Japan vs. K-1 Match. They circle each other to start, tie-up, O'Haire pushes Tanahashi into the corner and delivers a series of punches before flinging Tanahashi back to the middle of the ring. Tie-up, side headlock by O'Haire, Tanahashi muscles out of it and arm drags O'Haire to the mat. An armbar by Tanahashi is applied into a hammerlock, side headlock by Tanahashi but O'Haire pushes Tanahashi off. Shoulder block Tanahashi, he goes off the ropes but O'Haire picks him up and flings him into the air. Spinning heel kick by O'Haire, and Tanahashi rolls out to the apron to regain his composure. O'Haire dropkicks Tanahashi out of the ring and rams him into the ring post. He then gets back in the ring as he waits for Tanahashi to return. Tanahashi does so, but O'Haire greets him with a series of punches and a kick to the chest. Cover, but it gets a two count. Lariat by O'Haire, cover, but it barely gets a two count. O'Haire picks up Tanahashi, Irish whip, but Tanahashi connects with a flying forearm. Both men are slow to get up, but O'Haire catches Tanahashi with a big kick. Cover, but Tanahashi kicks out. O'Haire applies an armbar, he then releases it and kicks Tanahashi in the back. Cover, but it only gets a two count. O'Haire goes back to the arm, but Tanahashi gets a foot on the ropes and O'Haire releases the hold. Snapmare by O'Haire and he re-applies the hold, Tanahashi struggles to his feet, he ducks a high kick and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi kicks O'Haire into the corner, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick followed by a half-hatch suplex. Cover, but it only gets two. Tanahashi goes for a German suplex, but O'Haire elbows out of it. Tanahashi ducks another high kick attempt however and nails the German suplex hold for a two count. He then goes for the dragon suplex, but O'Haire drives him back into the corner and hits an elbow. Irish whip to the corner by O'Haire but Tanahashi kicks him when he charges in. Another kick by Tanahashi, but when he charges O'Haire, O'Haire gets him up on his shoulders and delivers The Prophecy. O'Haire goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Tanahashi rolls out of the way of the Seanton Bomb. Kick to the stomach by O'Haire and he goes for a Crucifix Bomb, but Tanahashi slides down his back. Tanahashi and O'Haire trade forearms, but O'Haire ducks the high kick. Side headlock by Tanahashi, O'Haire pushes him off but Tanahashi delivers a dropkick. Waistlock by Tanahashi, O'Haire tries to push him off but Tanahashi rolls him up and slaps on the Dragon Sleeper. After only a few seconds O'Haire taps out! Your winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Match Thoughts: This was a pro-wrestling match all the way. It was fairly watchable, this was soon after O'Haire had left WWE so he was still in wrestling shape. They had a few little miscommunications that you'd expect when an American wrestler first travels to Japan, but they overcame it well enough. The ending was very sudden, Tanahashi had not weakened O'Haire much when he tapped to the Dragon Sleeper, usually that finisher only works for him after he already has the opponent knocked out anyway. The only real knock on the match is that during the first portion O'Haire kept going back to the same submission hold that not only seemed like filler but didn't look even like a move that would hurt at all since O'Haire didn't give the impression that he was applying pressure. So overall it was a pretty average match but the crowd loved seeing Tanahashi win which is what the entire point was anyway. Score: 5.0
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Musashi
This is a New Japan vs. K-1 Match. The match will have three minute rounds. There were a list of complicated rules for this match, but I will only mention them if necessary. This match is a set up to appear to be a shoot, not a work like the last two matches.
First Round: Musashi ducks a Shibata high kick to start and they both trade low kicks. Double leg takedown by Shibata and he gets in the mount position, he goes for the cross armbreaker but Musashi keeps his arms locked. One of the rules is you can only keep submissions applied for 20 seconds, so Shibata is forced to break the hold. Back up, Musashi goes for a kick but Shibata grabs his leg and they go to the mat again. Shibata pushes Musashi too close to the ropes and the referee forces a break. On their feet again, Shibata goes for the leg again and gets Musashi on the mat and he applies a leg lock. Musashi kicks Shibata in the head to try to free himself, but 20 seconds passes and Shibata is forced to break the hold. Kick to the leg by Musashi and he knees Shibata in the corner until Shibata falls to the mat. The referee starts a 10 count, but Shibata gets up at 7 and that is the end of round one.
Second Round: Shibata immediately goes for another takedown, but Musashi grabs the ropes. Shibata won't let go however, and a second referee has to come in the ring to help break them up. Musashi complains about a headbutt (which were illegal), but a doctor checks him and he appears to be fine. The headbutt appeared to be on purpose, for what it matters. They decide he can still compete, and a high kick sends Shibata reeling. Knees in the corner by Musashi and he drops Shibata to the mat before kicking him again before backing up. Shibata is up at 8, but Musashi kicks him in the legs until he is against the ropes. More kicks by Musashi and a high kick sends Shibata crumbling to the mat. The referee starts the count, but Shibata is unable to respond. Your winner by KO: Musashi
Match Thoughts: Even though this match was done incredibly well and appeared at times to be a shoot, it wasn't one and with that in mind it was an incredibly good match. The crowd heat was off the charts and even though Shibata lost he looked good in doing so. The strikes looked great for the most part and it was ten times better then the other New Japan vs. K-1 matches. I must say this was a very entertaining match and probably got the best reception of any match on the show and also accomplished the goal of the match perfectly. Score: 7.5
Bob Sapp vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Nakamura avoids Sapp's charges to start the match and delivers a single leg takedown. Nakamura applies a sleeper, but Sapp drives him back into the corner. Knee by Sapp and he hiptosses Nakamura back to the middle of the ring. Another hiptoss by Sapp, he picks up Nakamura and delivers a body slam. Sapp hits an elbow drop and Nakamura rolls out of the ring. After a moment Nakamura returns, waistlock by Nakamura but Sapp applies a wristlock. Nakamura rolls out of it and applies a leg lock, but Sapp gets in the mount position and delivers a punch. Nakamura reverses positions with him and goes back to the leg, but again Sapp muscles out of it and both wrestlers are back to their feet. Nakamura ducks an Sapp charge and pushes Sapp to the mat, he goes for the cross armbreaker but Sapp gets out of it. Knees by Nakamura, he goes off the ropes and hits the Shining Triangle, but Sapp powerbombs his way out of it. Dropkick by Sapp and Nakamura falls out of the ring. Nakamura barely makes it back in before the 20 count, but Sapp clotheslines him over the top rope back down to the floor. Sapp goes out after him and Sapp throws Nakamura up the rampway. Body slam by Sapp, he picks up Nakamura and he goes for the powerbomb, but Nakamura reverses it with the Shining Triangle. The referee finally gets Nakamura to break and Nakamura returns to the ring while Sapp lays hurt on the ramp. The referee starts a 20 count, but Sapp makes it back in the ring at 18. Slaps by Nakamura when Sapp gets back in and he slaps on a cross armbreaker. Sapp gets out of it, but Nakamura hits a side Russian leg sweep and gets it re-applied. Sapp muscles out of the hold, Nakamura crawls to Sapp but Sapp headbutts him away. Back up, forearm by Sapp, slaps by Nakamura, but Sapp nails him with a lariat. Sapp applies a reverse chinlock, but Nakamura struggles to his feet and bites Sapp in the head. Knee to the midsection by Sapp and he spikes him with a piledriver. Irish whip by Sapp from the corner and he delivers a running lariat. Another Irish whip by Sapp and he hits another one. A third Irish whip and this time he hits a shoulder tackle. Nakamura applies a front facelock when he hits the move however and he plants him with a DDT. Mounted headbutts by Nakamura, but Sapp reverses positions with him and hits a headbutt of his own. Side headlock by Sapp, but Nakamura gets out of it and applies a cross armbreaker. Again Sapp slams Nakamura to the mat to get out of it, he picks him up and delivers the Beast Bomb. Cover, but Nakamura kicks out at one. Forearms by Nakamura, but Sapp sends him reeling with a hard shot. Another Beast Bomb by Sapp, cover, and this time he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Bob Sapp
Match Thoughts: For a Bob Sapp match this is about as good as it is going to get as Nakamura wrestled him perfectly. Sapp is a unique wrestler in that he is huge and has a lot of power, but he gets fatigued very easily. That was only exposed here towards the end when Sapp made the odd decision to hit a series of running lariats which saw him lumber awkwardly across the ring obviously winded. I also question Nakamura's decision to take a piledriver. Other then that though the match was executed well, the long counts outside the ring gave Sapp time to regain his energy and he hit his power moves very effectively. This would be the end of the Sapp Experiment, as he would forfeit the title after losing to Fujita in an MMA match and would never wrestle in New Japan again. Score: 6.5
Well, this show was interesting as I predicted, but not particularly good. No normal pro-wrestling match got over a "7" which for an 11 match card isn't a good sign. The big matches ranged from average to very solid, but when you order an event you expect a little more then that. The K-1 vs. New Japan matches were not very good except for the worked shoot fight, and when the best regular pro-wrestling match on the card is the opener then there is a serious problem. If you are a diehard New Japan fan there might be enough here to make it worth a purchase, but otherwise there are better shows that you can buy then this one.
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Review completed on 10/19/06