An Enhanced Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: January 4th, 2008
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Welcome to the Tokyo Dome! Like 2007, in 2008 New Japan had a war with a different promotion. This time the war was against Total Nonstop Action, the second largest promotion in America. To make things more interesting, for the first time in seven years Great Muta makes his return to New Japan as he battles young Hirooki Goto! Both IWGP Heavyweight Championships are defended as well as the Tag Team Championship and Jr. Heavyweight Championship, so nothing is being held back. Here is the full card:
- Christian Cage, AJ Styles, and Petey Williams vs. Milano Collection AT, Minoru, and Prince Devitt
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Wataru Inoue vs. Christopher Daniels
- Abyss vs. Manabu Nakanishi
- NEW JAPAN vs. Zero-One MAX: Masato Tanaka, Takaiwa, Yutaka Yoshie, and Takemura vs. Iizuka, Kanemoto, Tiger Mask, and Taguchi
- Team 3D vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
- LEGEND vs. VBH: Fujinami, Riki Choshu, Chono, Liger, and AKIRA vs. Jado, Gedo, TARU, Shuji Kondo, and "brother" YASSHI
- Great Muta vs. Hirooki Goto
- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko vs. The Steiner Brothers
- IWGP 3rd Belt: Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
It is always fun to watch Americans I enjoy traveling to Japan, so I fully anticipate enjoying this show. Lets get straight to it.
Christian, Styles, and Williams (TNA) vs. Milano Collection AT, Minoru, and Prince Devitt (New Japan)
Williams and Minoru start things off. Williams immediately tags in Styles, tie-up, waistlock by Styles, Minoru applies a wristlock but Styles reverses it. Minoru flips out of the hold, kick by Minoru and a reverse chinlock, Styles Irish whips out of it and the two collide with no result. Styles goes off the ropes but he can't knock Minoru down, but Styles rakes him in the eyes. Minoru returns the favor with his own eye rake but Styles connects with a dropkick. Styles picks up Minoru, Irish whip, reversed, but Minoru avoids the dropkick and delivers one of his own. Styles rolls out of the ring, Minoru goes up to the top turnbuckle and tries to moonsault himself back into the ring, but he slips and doesn't land right. He rolls back to his feet however as Styles comes back into the ring and tags in Williams. Minoru tags in Milano, jawbreaker by Williams and he connects with a heel kick. Irish whip by Williams onto Milano, reversed, and Milano dropkicks him in the knee. Milano ties up Williams in the bottom rope, gets a running start in the ring and dropkicks him in the leg. Milano picks up Williams and makes the tag to Devitt, Minoru comes in the ring as well, double Irish whip and Minoru hits a snap suplex followed by a Devitt dropkick and a Milano senton. Cover by Devitt but it gets a two count. Williams gets away and tags in Cage, who chops Devitt in the corner. Irish whip by Cage from the corner but Devitt flips over him and delivers a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Side headlock by Devitt, Cage Irish whips out of it but Devitt hits the Pele Kick. Devitt goes for a suplex but Cage lands on his feet. Cage goes for the Unprettier, Devitt gets out of it however and hits the Airplane Spin.
Elbow by Devitt and he tags in Minoru, Minoru delivers a dropkick to Cage and tags Devitt back in. Chop by Devitt, Irish whip, but Cage slides through his legs and hits a DDT. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Cage tags in Styles, scoop slam by Styles and he hits a knee drop. Cover, but Devitt kicks out. Styles tags in Williams, Williams picks up Devitt and puts him over the second rope before delivering a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Williams tags in Cage, who kicks Devitt in the ribs. Devitt tries to fight out of the corner and does so, he then catapults Cage into Styles and rolls him up for a two. Cage and Devitt lariat each other. Devitt goes to make the tag but his team mates had been knocked off the apron, and Devitt is triple teamed by Cage and company. Cage tags in Williams but Devitt hits him with the Prince's Throne. Devitt tags in Minoru while Cage tags in Styles, dropkick by Minoru onto Styles but Cage runs in the ring and hits Minoru from behind. Minoru tags in Milano and they both dropkick Cage, Styles comes back in but they hit him with a double flapjack. Williams runs in and throws out Milano, then Williams sails out onto him with a slingshot hurricanrana. Back in the ring, Cage knocks Minoru to the floor and then hits a plancha suicida off the side ropes. Devitt then gets in the ring and flies out of the ring with a Tope Con Hilo. Not to be outdone Styles gets in the ring and finishes them off with a Fosbury Flop. Styles slides Milano back into the ring but Milano avoids his lariat and hits an enzigieri. Styles hits Milano with a Pele Kick but Minoru comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick. Cage enters the ring and goes for a German suplex onto Minoru but Minoru lands on his feet. Unprettier by Cage onto Minoru but Milano knocks him out of the ring. Devitt and Williams come in the ring and Williams nails the Canadian Destroyer. Milano runs at Williams, Williams grabs him for Styles to hit, but Milano moves and Styles accidentally hits Williams. Sunset flip attempt by Milano on Styles but Styles rolls through and delivers the Styles Clash. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Christian Cage, AJ Styles, and Petey Williams
Match Thoughts: This match is what an opening match should be - fast paced but simple. All the wrestlers got to hit their moves and there really wasn't any down time, but at the same time they didn't make it complicated or try to do too much. The only problem with this type of match is that no one could a chance to stand out... at the end of the match they had all blended together and I couldn't remember any one instance of a wrestler shining since each time a wrestler hit a good move they were normally taken care of. Of course the biggest pop was for the Canadian Destroyer and they were pretty quiet otherwise, but they were still filing into the stadium. No substance but a fun little match to get things rolling. Score: 6.0
(c) Wataru Inoue (New Japan) vs. Christopher Daniels (TNA)
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, Daniels gets Inoue back into the corner and stomps him down to the mat. More stomps by Daniels, he picks up Inoue and delivers a headbutt. Irish whip by Daniels, reversed, and Inoue connects with a gutbuster. Spear in the corner by Inoue and he throws Daniels back into the corner. Inoue goes up the corner to punch Daniels in the face, he then jumps down and kicks him against the ropes. Irish whip by Inoue and he hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Daniels rolls out of the ring and Inoue immediately sails out after him with a pescado. Chops by Inoue on the outside but Daniels rakes him in the eyes and rams him into the ring post. Daniels slides Inoue back in and elbows him in the midsection. Daniels picks up Inoue and hits a vertical suplex into a gutbuster. Back up, Daniels picks up Inoue in a gutwrench and again hits a gutbuster for a two count cover. Daniels tells Inoue to get up, which he does, chops by Inoue, he goes off the ropes but Daniels catches him with a knee to the stomach. Daniels picks up Inoue, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. Cover by Daniels but it gets a two count. Daniels gets Inoue up and scoop slams him, and then he stands on Inoue's head before hitting a split-legged moonsault for a two count cover. Daniels picks up Inoue and applies an abdominal stretch, using the top rope for extra leverage. Finally the referee catches him and forces a break, elbow by Daniels in the corner but Inoue elbows him back. They trade blows but Daniels pokes Inoue in the eyes. Irish whip by Daniels from the corner, reversed, Daniels tries to flip over him but Inoue catches him and slams Daniels to the mat. Chops by Inoue in the corner, Irish whip, and he connects with a jumping elbow strike. Irish whip again, reversed, but Inoue kicks Daniels when he charges in and hits a missile dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Backdrop suplex by Inoue, another cover, but again it gets two. Irish whip by Inoue, but Daniels knees him in the stomach and hits a side slam. Best Moonsault Ever by Daniels, cover, but Inoue gets a shoulder up. Daniels quickly applies the Koji Clutch, but he lets go after a moment and hits an STO. Daniels picks up Inoue, Irish whip, but Inoue elbows him when he charges in and applies the Triangle Lancer. Daniels reverses it with a roll-up but it only gets a two count. Daniels rolls up Inoue again and it gets a two count, step-up enzigieri by Daniels, and he calls for the Angel's Wings. Daniels picks up Inoue but Inoue reversed the Angel's Wings with a back bodydrop. Back up they trade blows which Inoue gets the better of, he picks up Daniels and nails the Staggerin' Blow. Cover, but Daniels gets a shoulder up. Daniels avoids an Inoue charges in the corner but Inoue ducks his lariat attempt and delivers a spear to Daniels. Inoue picks up Daniels and debuts the Oracion Flame, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner and still champion: Wataru Inoue
Match Thoughts: A decent match but too emotionless and bland to be special. Daniels working over the stomach was working well but Inoue didn't really sell it unless Daniels was doing a move to it, and Inoue's offense had no focus. I'll give Inoue a few extra brownie points for debuting a new move to put Daniels away, but even though it was a title match it came across as unimportant as Inoue wasn't fired up and Daniels wasn't acting with the urgency that one would expect from a title challenge. It wasn't bad, but it lacked that intangible element that would have made it a meaningful match. Score: 5.5
Abyss (TNA) vs. Manabu Nakanishi (New Japan)
They charge each other to start the match, Nakanishi gets Abyss into the corner and connects with a series of chops. Irish whip by Nakanishi but Abyss grabs him by the throat. Nakanishi elbows out of the chokeslam attempt and lariats Abyss over the top rope to the floor. Abyss pulls out Nakanishi however and throws him into the ring post. Clubs to the back by Abyss and he slams Nakanishi into the ring post. Abyss throws Nakanishi into the railing and connects with a series of punches before taking Nakanishi up the ramp. On the ramp they trade blows, but Abyss picks up Nakanishi and delivers a scoop slam. Abyss goes back to get his bag of thumb tacks and dumps them onto the ramp near to Nakanishi. Abyss goes back to Nakanishi and picks him up, but Nakanishi slides down his back and hits a face crusher onto Abyss into the thumb tacks. Nakanishi picks up Abyss and leads him back to ringside as Abyss picks tacks out of his hand, and he throws him into the ring. Kick to the back by Nakanishi, he gets Abyss up in the Argentine Backbreaker but Abyss gets out of it and delivers a chokeslam. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakanishi gets up in the corner, Abyss waits for him and connects with a running body splash. Punches in the corner by Abyss, Irish whip, but Nakanishi spears him as Abyss charges in. Nakanishi picks up Abyss and slams him to the mat. He waits for Abyss to get up, Irish whip, and he nails a release German suplex. Nakanishi picks up Abyss and hits the Dai*Nakanishi German, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Manabu Nakanishi
Match Thoughts: Well this match was crap, instead of Nakanishi trying to bring Abyss to his level to put on a great big man vs. big man match, instead Abyss dragged Nakanishi to his level as we got no story, an absolutely pointless thumb tack spot and a blown ending. The only positive in the match was Nakanishi's first German suplex, which was hit very well. Other then that it was sloppy and poorly laid out. The ending was sudden and done poorly as Abyss had his shoulders up, but I didn't mind as I was just happy it was over. Very disappointing. Score: 3.0
Tanaka, Takaiwa, Yoshie, and Takemura vs. Iizuka, Kanemoto, Tiger Mask, and Taguchi
They brawl to start the match, with Tiger Mask and Takemura ending up in the ring. Takemura goes for a suplex but Tiger Mask gets out of it and connects with an overhead kick. Kicks to the chest by Tiger Mask and he makes the tag to Taguchi. Dropkick by Taguchi, snapmare, and he applies a headscissors. Taguchi tags in Kanemoto, and after knocking their other opponents off the apron Kanemoto and company give Takemura an Irish whip and a quadruple dropkick. Kicks to the chest by Kanemoto, he picks up Takemura and slams him in front of the corner. Corkscrew senton by Kanemoto and he makes the tag to Iizuka. Iizuka stomps on Takemura and he delivers a scoop slam for a two count cover. Irish whip by Iizuka and he connects with an elbow strike. Irish whip again by Iizuka and he hits a jumping elbow in the corner. He then puts Takemura onto the top turnbuckle and joins him, hitting a superplex. Cover, but Takemura gets a shoulder up. Iizuka goes for a Blizzard Suplex but Takemura elbows out of it. Iizuka goes off the ropes but Takemura hits a lariat and tags in Takaiwa. Takaiwa and his partners all run in to knock their opponents off the apron and then they stomp on Iizuka. Takaiwa picks up Iizuka and throws him into the corner, Irish whip and all four wrestlers hit running strikes in the corner with Yoshie going last. Yoshie stays in the ring and slams Iizuka, and then Takaiwa comes off the top turnbuckle with an elbow drop for a two count cover. Takaiwa goes off the ropes but Iizuka catches him and hits a Blizzard Suplex. This gives him time to tag in Kanemoto as Tanaka is tagged in as well. Kanemoto punches Tanaka down in the corner and then gives him the bootscrapes followed by the running kick. A second one by Kanemoto, he picks up Tanaka but Tanaka fights back and they trade elbows and chops. Kanemoto goes off the ropes but Tanaka catches him with a lariat followed by a brainbuster. Cover, but Kanemoto kicks out. Tanaka tags in Takaiwa, Takaiwa goes off the ropes but Kanemoto catches him with an overhead belly to belly suplex and tags in Taguchi. Irish whip by Takaiwa to the corner but Taguchi connects with a dropkick followed by a missile dropkick for a two count cover. Takaiwa recovers and hits the Takaiwa Driver, giving him time to tag in Yoshie. Body splash by Yoshie, he slams Taguchi to the mat but Iizuka grabs him from the apron and the all eight wrestlers come in the ring. They exit again and Tiger Mask sails out onto his opponents with a tope suicida. In the ring, Taguchi tries to hit a German suplex on Yoshie, he can't get him over, but Tiger Mask hits a missile dropkick to help him and Taguchi gets a two count. Tanaka hits Taguchi with a lariat, Yoshie slams him to the mat and hits a diving body press off the top turnbuckle. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Tanaka, Takaiwa, Yoshie and Takemura
Match Thoughts: One of my Tokyo Dome Pet Peeves is matches with lots of wrestlers that get no time. Under 10 minutes for eight wrestlers to do anything of any real significance is impossible. Why not make it a standard tag match? The wrestlers hit their spots well but there were a few minor miscommunications and the selling was suspect as they had to go on to the next spot regardless of the previous move done to them. I like the majority of these wrestlers so it isn't a knock on them, I just have trouble getting into matches that are random chaos until they suddenly end. Score: 5.5
Team 3D (TNA) vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano (New Japan)
Makabe and Yano attack Bubba and Devon to start the match, they throw them into separate corners and stomp then to the mat. Eye rake by Makabe onto Devon, Yano and Makabe go off the ropes and they both hit lariats. Bubba and Devon get up quickly however and hit simultaneous vertical suplexes onto Makabe and Yano. Irish whip by Bubba to Yano in the corner (where Makabe already is), and both Devon and Bubba hit running splashes. Double vertical suplex onto Yano, and Devon stays in the ring with Makabe. Devon goes off the ropes but Makabe shoulderblocks him down. Punches by Devon, Irish whip to the corner, and he hits a running splash in the corner followed by a lariat and falling headbutt for a two count cover. Devon tags in Bubba and Bubba tells Makabe to tag in Yano. Yano and Bubba tie-up, kicks by Yano but he can't shoulderblock Bubba down. Spear by Yano, cover, but it gets a two count. Stomps by Yano but Bubba powers up and hits a side slam. Cover, but Makabe breaks it up. Irish whip by Makabe onto Bubba, reversed, and with Devon they hit a double flapjack. They then hit a reverse neck drop onto Makabe, cover, but Yano comes in with a trash can and hits both of them with it. Yano chokes Bubba against the ropes and rakes him in the eyes, while Honma smacks Devon with a kendo stick at ringside. Makabe grabs Devon and hits a spike piledriver onto the exposed floor. Bubba gets enough of Honma and roughs him up a bit, but Yano attacks him from behind with the bell hammer. Makabe and Devon return and Makabe chokes Devon against the ropes.
Makabe throws Devon into the corner as they take off the turnbuckle pad. Makabe throws Devon into the exposed corner and makes the tag to Yano. Yano chokes Devon with tape and hits him in the head with a trash can lid. Cover, but it gets a two count. Yano tags in Makabe, Devon fights back but Makabe rakes him in the eyes. Makabe hits Devon in the back with the kendo stick, double Irish whip to Devon but Devon clotheslines Yano and Makabe. Devon makes the tag to Bubba, lariats by Bubba onto Yano and Makabe and he hits a release German suplex onto Makabe and then Yano. Bubba gets a chair and hits them both with it while Devon gets a ladder from under the ring. Bubba puts the ladder on his head and does the old airplane spin, knocking down both Yano and Makabe before throwing the ladder at them. Cover on Yano but it gets a two count. Punches by Bubba and he hits a series of elbows. Bubba puts the lid onto Yano's groin area and then throws a chair at it. Devon and Bubba give Makabe the WASSUP, and then Bubba tells Devon to get the table. Devon slides the table into the ring and they set it up near the ropes. Yano and Makabe have recovered however and they hit a lariat/spear on both their opponents. Running strikes to Bubba and Devon in the corner and Makabe hits a lariat onto Devon. Cover, but Bubba breaks it up. Makabe gets his chain and wraps it on his arm, hitting a lariat onto Bubba. Yano puts Bubba against the table as Makabe goes up top, but Devon pushes him off. Devon knocks down Yano and then feeds him Yano who is on the top turnbuckle, allowing Bubba to powerbomb him through the table. 3D onto Makabe, cover by Devon, and they pick up the three count! Your winners: Team 3D
Match Thoughts: This match had too many hardcore spots to function as a normal match but wasn't hardcore enough to qualify as a hardcore match. We should be past the trash can lids by now and since all Team 3D matches involve a table I was hoping for a little more to help give the card some variety. Bubba Ray is a terrible seller which really showed in this match, an obvious example is him being hit 10 times with the bell hammer and then casually rolling to the apron and walking back to his corner like nothing happened. Like with Nakanishi/Abyss I was hoping for something beyond the standard Team 3D match, but sadly that is what we got. Both teams functioned very well together and it made for a better match, but overall it came off flat and so far this Americans in Japan thing isn't working as I had hoped. Score: 5.0
Fujinami, Choshu, Chono, Liger, and AKIRA vs. Jado, Gedo, TARU, Kondo, and "brother" YASSHI
Legends attack VBH to start the match with Jado being isolated, eating a Shining Yakuza Kick, but when Fujinami holds Jado for Choshu, Jado ducks and Choshu accidentally lariats Fujinami. Kondo comes in the ring but Choshu knocks him down with a lariat before tagging in Liger. Liger throws Kondo out of the ring and hits a baseball slide, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a plancha suicida down onto Kondo. AKIRA gets in the ring, goes off the far ropes and hits a tope suicida onto Kondo. They slide Kondo back into the ring, snapmare by Liger and he hits a rolling senton for a two count cover. Liger tags in AKIRA and all four of them pound Kondo to the mat. Fujinami then comes off the top turnbuckle with a diving knee, AKIRA picks up Kondo, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. AKIRA picks up Kondo, Irish whip, reversed, and AKIRA hits a diving elbow strike. AKIRA goes off the ropes again but this time Kondo hits him with The Original. His team mates rush in to knock their opponents off the apron, he then gives AKIRA a double shoulderblock with Gedo. TARU and Chono battle up the ramp while back in the ring YASSHI is tagged in. YASSHI picks up AKIRA and delivers a series of uppercuts. Again Kondo and company clear the ring while apparently Chono is getting the better of TARU at the top of the ramp. YASSHI stomps on AKIRA in the ring. AKIRA almost gets back to his corner but he is dragged back and YASSHI tags in Jado. TARU lariats Chono on the ramp as in the ring AKIRA is thrown into the corner and all five men connect with running strikes with TARU's lariat coming in last. Jado and Gedo then hold AKIRA so that TARU can hit an axe kick to the groin. Babylon by YASSHI and Kondo, cover by YASSHI but AKIRA kicks out at two. Irish whip by YASSHI but AKIRA dropkicks him and makes the tag to Fujinami. Fujinami hits a dragon screw leg whip onto Jado and Kondo before slamming TARU and Gedo. Dragon screw leg whip to YASSHI and Fujinami tags in Chono. Dragon Sleeper by Fujinami on YASSHI and Chono delivers a Shining Yakuza Kick. Liger runs in and with Choshu hits a spike piledriver onto YASSHI. Choshu picks up YASSHI and delivers a vertical suplex, and he applies the Scorpion Deathlock. It is quickly broken up however as all eight men brawl again, Shotei by Liger onto YASSHI and AKIRA delivers the Musasabi Press. Lariat by Choshu onto YASSHI, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger and AKIRA
Match Thoughts: Same as my thoughts last time, but this time we had 10 wrestlers in a match that got SEVEN minutes. Is it really necessary? Just too much randomness for my liking, I insist on some sort of structure. Love the wrestlers, hate the match set-up. Chono and Liger vs. Kondo and TARU would have been awesome though. Score: 4.5
Great Muta (All Japan) vs. Hirooki Goto (New Japan)
Goto attacks Muta as he makes his entrance, hitting him repeatedly with a stick. Goto clubs Muta in the back and throws him into the ring post. Choke by Goto outside the ring, he gets up to the apron to try another attack but Muta spits the Green Mist in his face when he jumps off! Muta gets a ladder out from under the ring and rams Goto in the head with it. Muta then gets Goto's stick and chokes Goto with it before getting in the ring. Muta gets tired of waiting and goes back outside the ring to choke Goto again. Finally Muta rolls Goto into the ring, he picks him up, snapmare, and he delivers the Flash Elbow. Eye rake by Muta and he applies an STF, but Goto makes it to the ropes. Muta picks up Goto and throws him back outside the ring, Muta grabs a chair and hits Goto in the side with it. Muta slides Goto back in, stomp by Muta, Irish whip, and he applies the Sleeper Hold. After a moment Muta releases the hold and elbows Goto in the back of the head, but Goto elbows him low and delivers a Shining Wizard! Back up they trade blows, and Goto punches Muta back into the corner. Mounted punches by Goto in the corner, he goes for the catapult spin kick but Muta moves out of the way. Muta then hits a catapult Shining Wizard in the corner, Muta picks up Goto and punches him back into the corner again. Muta puts Goto up onto the top turnbuckle and joins him, but Goto retains the advantage and hits the Avalanche Yoshi Tonic for a two count cover. Goto goes for the Shouten but Muta blocks it and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Figure Four by Muta but Goto makes it to the ropes. Dropkick to the knee by Muta, he picks up Goto and hits another dragon screw leg whip. Muta goes off the ropes but so does Goto and he hits a lariat from behind followed by a lariat from the front. Irish whip by Goto to the corner and he delivers a running lariat. He then goes up to the top turnbuckle and connects with a diving elbow drop, cover, but it gets a two count. Goto picks up Muta and hits a backdrop suplex and he calls for the Shouten. Goto gets him up but Muta knees him in the head and connects with a Shining Wizard. Irish whip by Muta, Goto tries to run past him again but Muta spits Green Mist in his face! Shining Wizard by Muta, cover, but it only gets a two count. Muta picks up Goto, backbreaker, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: Great Muta
Match Thoughts: An entertaining match and a nice change of pace compared to the rest of the card. Muta has such an aura to him that just him being in a match can make it seem better. As in most Muta matches not a lot happened, there were a lot of attacks outside the ring and general stalling. But the last few minutes were hot and it gave Goto an opportunity against one of the true legends in Puroresu. Muta won prettily handily, but he didn't kick out of the Shouten so there was always that chance that Goto could quickly get back into the match. Also, Goto was controlling the action at times but twice Muta reversed things with the Green Mist, which is obviously a tactic that Goto isn't used to defending against. Overall it wasn't an epic match and won't be remembered for years to come, but it was great to see the Great Muta in New Japan again. Score: 6.0
(c) Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko (New Japan) vs. The Steiner Brothers (TNA)
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Tomko and Scott start things off. Scott gets Tomko down and elbows him in the back of the head, but Tomko gets back up. Irish whip by Scott and he goes for a lariat, but Tomko doesn't go down. Irish whip to the corner by Scott but Tomko boots him in the face. Mounted punches by Tomko, he picks up Scott and chops him into the corner. Tomko goes off the ropes but Scott catches him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Tomko tags in Bernard and Scott makes the tag to Rick. Tie-up, Bernard gets Rick back into the corner but he gives a clean break. Scoop slam by Bernard, they tie-up again, side headlock by Rick, Irish whip attempt by Bernard to get out of it but Rick hangs on. Finally Bernard gets out of it and he shoulderblocks Rick to the mat. Rick rolls out of the ring to re-group but after a moment he gets back in. Kick to the stomach by Bernard, he goes off the ropes but Rick catches him with a powerslam. Cover, but Tomko breaks it up. Scott takes care of Tomko and then Rick back bodydrops Bernard out of the ring, allowing time for The Steiner Brothers to pose. Scott gets back out of the ring as does Bernard, tie-up, Bernard gets Rick into the corner but this time punches him in the face. Bernard tags in Tomko, kick to the ribs by Tomko, he goes off the ropes but Scott pulls the rope down, sending Tomko to the floor. Scott throws Tomko into the guard rail and the ring post before Tomko finally gets back into the ring, Irish whip by Rick and he nails the Steinerline. Cover by Rick but it barely gets a two count. Rick tags in Scott, who kicks Tomko in the corner. Scott puts Tomko onto the top turnbuckle and joins him, hitting an avalanche belly to belly suplex. Cover, but Bernard breaks it up. Scott tags in Rick, takedown by Rick and he applies a crossface. Tomko makes it to the ropes after a moment and the referee forces the break. Rick tags in Scott, kick to the ribs by Scott and he hits a lariat followed by an elbow drop. Tomko tries to fight back but Scott makes the tag to Rick.
Backbreaker by Rick, he waits for Tomko to get up but Tomko catches him with a powerslam and makes the tag to Bernard. Elbows by Bernard, Irish whip, and he hits a body attack followed by a body press for a two count. Bernard hits a running body attack in the corner before delivers a Reverse Splash, cover, but Scott breaks it up. Irish whip by Bernard into the corner to Scott and he send him down to the mat. Tomko comes in the ring and with Bernard they hit a side drop slam/elbow drop combination onto Rick, cover by Bernard but it gets a two count when Scott breaks it up. Tomko comes back in and picks up Scott, he charges at him with Bernard but Scott hits a lariat on both of them. Scott puts Tomko onto the top turnbuckle and joins him, nailing the Avalanche Frankensteiner. Cover by Scott, but Bernard breaks it up. Bernard gets Scott into the corner, Irish whip, but Scott kicks him when he charges in and drops Bernard on the front of his face with a suplex attempt. Scott waits for Bernard to get up and lariats him out of the ring, he then goes to Tomko and puts Tomko on his shoulders. Rick goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the avalanche bulldog, cover by Scott but the referee was accidentally knocked over. Bernard is over at ringside arguing with Jarrett, while in the ring Rick puts Tomko onto his shoulders to go for an avalanche DDT, but Bernard breaks it up. Lariat by Scott onto Bernard as Scott calls for Jarrett to come in with his guitar. Yano grabs him from the apron but Jarrett hits Yano in the head with it. Back in the ring, Rick goes up onto the top turnbuckle but Makabe knocks him off and Tomko levels him with a lariat. Bernard comes back in and they hit the Magic Killer onto Rick, cover by Bernard and they pick up the three count! Your winners and still champions: Travis Tomko and Giant Bernard
Match Thoughts: I can't believe it, but this match was such an awesome throwback to the heyday of New Japan. Even Jarrett interfering didn't bother me, as it didn't work and Makabe was more help then Jarrett was. The Steiners brought their A game, and Bernard and Tomko have improved so much in the last year that I got flashbacks to back in the day when the big gaijins would slug it out in the ring. The match had big moves and was a fast-paced slugfest with little down time. A few of the moves weren't hit perfectly but it wasn't lack of effort. The only real thing missing was the crowd as they were a little quieter then I expected. They popped for a few of The Steiner's moves and the guitar shot, but beyond that they were pretty quiet. But what a fun match, better then I could have expected. If you enjoyed Steiners/Bigelow/Vader/Warriors/Jurassic Powers back in the day then don't sleep on this. Score: 7.5
The next match deserves a quick explanation. In the summer of 2006, Brock Lesnar was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He quit New Japan but still had possession of the title, so New Japan created a new belt and crowned a new IWGP Heavyweight Champion. In the summer of 2007, Lesnar lost to Kurt Angle in IGF for the IWGP Heavyweight 3rd Belt, which is what it was now called since it wasn't recognized by New Japan. So here we have Kurt Angle defending the IWGP Heavyweight 3rd Belt in New Japan, while Tanahashi has the IWGP Heavyweight Championship that is recognized by New Japan. Got it?
(c) Kurt Angle (TNA) vs. Yuji Nagata (New Japan)
This match is for the IWGP Third Belt. Angle charges Nagata to start the match, knocking him back into the corner. Stomps by Angle but Nagata fights back, Irish whip by Nagata, reversed, and Angle hits an overhead belly to belly suplex. Angle applies a waistlock but Nagata gets out of it and hits an overhead belly to belly suplex of his own. Angle quickly rolls out of the ring to re-group. After a moment Angle gets back in, wristlock by Angle and he hits a side headlock takedown but Nagata reverses it into a headscissors. Side headlock by Nagata, Angle struggles back to his feet, Irish whip by Angle but Nagata shoulderblocks him down. Nagata goes off the ropes, drop toehold an he applies the Nagata Lock III, but Angle gets to the ropes and again bails to ringside to catch his breath. Angle gets back in, tie-up, waistlock by Nagata, reversed, elbows by Angle but Nagata comes back with kicks. Irish whip by Nagata, reversed, but Nagata avoids the lariat attempt. Angle ducks a Nagata kick and hits a belly to belly suplex, cover, but it gets a one count. Angle picks up Nagata, Irish whip, reversed, and Nagata delivers a back elbow. Reverse chinlock by Nagata, Irish whip, but Angle avoids the lariat and hits a double leg takedown, knocking out Nagata's right knee. Nagata rolls out of the ring but Angle comes out after him, kicking him in the leg. Angle rolls him back into the ring and stomps him in the knee before applying a knee submission hold. Nagata kicks Angle off but Angle goes back to the leg and applies a Figure Four. Nagata tries a few times to reverse it without any success, but finally Nagata makes it to the ropes.
Back to the leg by Angle but Nagata kicks him off and applies the Seated Armbar. Angle manages to get a foot on the ropes however to break the hold, Nagata gets up and hits Angle in the arm before delivering an armbreaker. Kick to the arm by Nagata and he delivers a second one. Another armbreaker by Nagata and he kicks Angle in the arm a few more times. Nagata gets Angle into the corner, Irish whip, but Angle avoids his charge and hits a trio of German suplexes. Angle goes for the Angle Slam but Nagata gets out of it and hits an exploder for a two count cover. Nagata picks up Angle and hits a pair of brainbusters, Angle takes him down but Nagata rolls through and applies the Nagata Lock III. Angle grabs Nagata's ankle while in the hold however and reverses it with an ankle lock but Nagata reverses it back into the Nagata Lock III. After a moment Angle tries to reverse it back but Nagata kicks him off and reapplies the Nagata Lock III. Angle rolls through and gets back to his feet however, delivering the Angle Slam. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Angle goes up to the top turnbuckle but Nagata rolls out of the way of the moonsault attempt. Jumping knee in the corner by Nagata, he puts Angle up on the top turnbuckle and hits an avalanche belly to belly suplex. Cover by Nagata but Angle gets a shoulder up. Nagata goes back to the Nagata Lock III and Angle almost taps, so he reverts it to the Nagata Lock II. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nagata goes for the backdrop suplex, Angle pushes him down but Nagata kicks him back On their feet again they trade blows, Nagata goes off the ropes and hits a boot but Angle comes back with a lariat and both men are on the mat. Nagata is barely up first and hits a backdrop suplex, cover, but it only gets a two count. Nagata goes for a kick to the chest but Angle catches his foot and applies the Ankle Lock! Angle sits down on the hold before reverting to a grapevine, and Nagata has no choice but to submit! Your winner and still champion: Kurt Angle
Match Thoughts: Now we are cooking, this was a great match. The crowd was pumped as hell, which helped, and both wrestlers worked so well together. The trading submissions and Angle's reversal to hit the Angle Slam were so fluid, they really did pair off perfectly like many had thought for years they would. The arm vs. leg dynamic was well done and was sold appropriately most of the time. The figure four section was slow but the crowd was eating out of the palms of their hands so its hard to criticize it. Great match between two great wrestlers, Angle getting out of the TNA box every now and then is always a good thing. He can still can go and the match was everything I was hoping it would be in terms of execution and the crowd being solidly behind their wrestler against the invader with the stolen belt. Score: 8.5
(c) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Tie-up to start, Tanahashi gets Nakamura into the ropes and slaps him before backing off. Waistlock by Nakamura, reversed by Tanahashi but Nakamura reversed it back as they jockey for position until they end up in the ropes. Tanahashi kicks Nakamura in the back before backing off and dives into the ropes so that Nakamura can't hit him. They circle each other, tie-up, kick to the stomach by Nakamura but Tanahashi applies a waistlock. Tanahashi gets Nakamura towards the ropes but Nakamura flips out of the hold and they trade moves until both men are back on their feet again. They struggle for position, Tanahashi gets Nakamura into the ropes and elbows him in the head. Nakamura walks out of the ropes and pushes him, and they finally trade elbows. Nakamura picks up Tanahashi, Tanahashi applies a Dragon Sleeper, Nakamura reverses it, but Tanahashi reverses it back! Nakamura reverses it into a cross armbreaker but Tanahashi quickly gets to the ropes and rolls out of the ring. Tanahashi gets back in after a moment and gives him a few elbows, jawbreaker by Tanahashi and he lariats Nakamura out of the ring before skinning the cat and landing back in the ring himself. Nakamura gets back on the apron but Tanahashi kicks him as he does so and hits a dragon screw leg whip through the ropes. Irish whip by Tanahashi and he dropkicks Nakamura in the knee. Kicks to the knee by Tanahashi and he corks back onto Nakamura's leg. Body press by Tanahashi onto Nakamura's injured leg, he goes up to the second turnbuckle but Nakamura avoids the somersault senton. Kicks to the knee by Tanahashi, he goes off the ropes but Nakamura knees him in the stomach. More knees by Nakamura, Irish whip, and he delivers a powerslam. Scoop slam by Nakamura and he delivers a moonsault from the top turnbuckle. Nakamura goes up top again and goes for a second one, Tanahashi rolls out of the way but Nakamura lands on his feet.
Dropkick to the knee by Tanahashi and he elbows Nakamura in the corner. Nakamura pushes him back, slaps by Tanahashi but Nakamura returns fire. Rolling German suplexes by Tanahashi but Nakamura elbows out of the third and hits a series of German suplexes of his own. Nakamura goes for the Dragon Sleeper but Tanahashi elbows out of it and hits a German suplex. He goes for a second but Nakamura gets out of it and hits a German suplex of his own. Another German suplex by Tanahashi but Nakamura elbows out of the second attempt and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Nakamura waits for Tanahashi to get up but when he charges him Tanahashi hits the Sling Blade. Both wrestlers slowly get up, Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Nakamura catches him with a lariat. Nakamura picks up Tanahashi and nails a double armed piledriver, cover, but Tanahashi gets a shoulder up. Nakamura knocks Tanahashi back into the corner, Irish whip, reversed, Tanahashi ducks a lariat and blocks another, but the blow stuns Tanahashi as well. Tanahashi is up first and clubs Nakamura in his shoulder, Tanahashi picks him up but the referee checks on Nakamura's shoulder. Tanahashi puts Nakamura onto the top turnbuckle and goes for an exploder, but Nakamura knocks him off. Tanahashi charges right back and climbs up again, and this time he hits the avalanche Exploder. Dragon screw arm whip by Tanahashi and he hits a second one. Cross armbreaker by Tanahashi but Nakamura quickly gets a foot on the ropes to break the hold. The doctor checks on Nakamura's arm while Tanahashi comes up and stomps on it.
Tanahashi picks up Nakamura and applies an arm wringer, Nakamura tries to elbow out of it but Tanahashi hits a trapped German suplex hold for a two count. Full nelson slam by Tanahashi, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the High Fly Flow. Cover, but Nakamura gets a shoulder up. Tanahashi goes up top again but this time Nakamura gets he knees up, knocking the breath out of Tanahashi. Both wrestlers slowly get up, Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Nakamura hits a cross armbreaker takedown and keeps the hold applied on the mat. Tanahashi tries to get out of it but Nakamura reverts it into a neck lock. Tanahashi stands back up with the move still applied and he stomps Nakamura on the head until he releases it. Inverted Powerslam by Nakamura and he hits the Landslide, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakamura picks up Tanahashi but Tanahashi quickly hits him a standing Sling Blade. Tanahashi goes off the ropes and hits another Sling Blade, cover, but it only gets a two count. Tanahashi picks up Nakamura and goes for a dragon suplex, but Nakamura reverses it and hits a dragon suplex of his own for a two count. Nakamura picks up Tanahashi to hit the Landslide but Nakamura rolls him up for a two count. Tiger suplex hold by Tanahashi, but Nakamura gets a shoulder up in time. Stomps to the back by Tanahashi, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Nakamura is up and joins him. They trade elbows, lariat by Nakamura (while still on top), and he nails an Avalanche Landslide! Nakamura drags Tanahashi to his feet and hits another Landslide, cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner and new champion: Shinsuke Nakamura
Match Thoughts: Another very good match as New Japan really went on a roll towards the end of this event. These two have worked together so many times that they are so fluid and seamless with their submissions and reversals. The middle German suplex section seemed off and didn't fit in with the rest of the match, but beyond that they told a pretty logical story as Nakamura mixes his arm submission/power move offense while Tanahashi attacked Nakamura's already injured shoulder. The last five minutes were hot and fast paced, as they shifted focus from submission moves to trying to knock each other out. It wasn't quite as good as the last match sense they seemed to flip the style of the match periodically and some of the transitions seemed force, but it was still very entertaining and a fitting IWGP Heavyweight Championship match. Score: 7.5
Even though it started a little slow, the last four matches made this event. Great Muta was Great Muta, the American tag match was a great throwback and The Steiners were the best I have seen from them in years, Angle/Nagata was a near-classic, and Tanahashi/Nakamura was very entertaining. The event won't go down as the best event of the year because the bottom half was too hit and miss though. Abyss and Team 3D did nothing to enhance the card and I don't like big multi-man matches, which are a Tokyo Dome staple and something you just have to put up with. But I still highly recommend it, the good far outweighed the bad and overall it was a very entertaining event.
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review completed on 4/30/08