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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:55 pm
6th February 1999- NJPW Fighting Spirit 1999 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Kendo Kashin vs. Koji Kanemoto
Here's something that is sadly lacking in today's New Japan product, a Junior singles match that isn't part of Best of the Super Juniors or for the Junior belt. Saying that New Japan have just announced a pair of them for the upcoming Dontaku shows, so hopefully that's a trend that will continue.
As for this match, Kanemoto and Kashin put together a pretty good 10 minute match, with the only criticism being that it started off a tad slow with some mat based grappling that failed to grab the crowd.
Once they got past the obligatory feeling out process and picked up the pace they got the crowd into it and managed to get across a concise story with Kanemoto generally being the better man but Kashin having a chance to nab victory through desperate measures (not being afraid to use chairs as an equalizer) and Kashin's Cross Armbreaker, which had managed to get over as a dangerous move that could literally snatch victory at any given moment.
Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Kido vs. Tatsutoshi Goto & Kengo Kimura
A fairly basic formula tag match, with the Heisei Ishingun pair heeling it up by doing things like removing the turnbuckle bad. Kido was once again very over here, with the crowd coming alive whenever it looked like he would apply his signature armbar and booing in disgust whenever one of the Heisei duo broke it up or perhaps in Goto's case they were just booing the fact he was getting into the ring. I know I would have done, because he stunk. I honestly can't recall any match, where Tatsutoshi Goto brought something truly positive to a match and wasn't dragging it down with his poor quality generic heel wrestler ring work.
El Samurai & Gran Hamada vs.Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani
This was a relatively unremarkable tag match, save for a decent closing stretch that played off Hamada's status as a veteran underdog. Samurai did the heavy lifting for his team as much as possible but eventually had to relent and throw Hamada to the wolves, despite that there were several moments during the closing stretch where it looks like despite being overmatched Hamada might just be able to steal the victory.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki
Yamazaki took the fight right to Tenzan from the opening bell, lighting up the nWo Japan representative with his trademark kicks, and then pulling out a plancha of all things to the surprise of the crowd.
Tenzan soon seized back the momentum though and pretty much dominated the rest of the match but he was never quite able to completely stamp his authority over Yamazaki whose precision kicks ,dangerous submission game and veteran wiles always kept in the match.
This was a solid match that had the potential to become really good but never quite getting there. Had they been given about five extra minutes and worked in a hotter closing stretch, they may have been able to do so.
Brian Johnston & Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Dave Beneteau & Don Frye
Whilst this still wasn't terrible, it was a case of diminishing returns for these shooter tags. This was much shorter than the one from Night 1 and lacked the chaotic air that at least made that one an entertaining if rather messy affair. The best thing that could be said about this one is that it was inoffensive and still nowhere near as a painful to sit through as the Inoki stroking his ego, faux MMA contests.
nWo Japan (Michael Wallstreet, nWo Sting & Scott Norton) vs. Junji Hirata, Tadao Yasuda & Tatsumi Fujinami
This match was as dull as it sounds on paper, but in order to give an honest opinion on every match available from the NJPW World archives (pre Bushiroad era) then I have to sit through filler like this. All this match did was have me contemplating which 90's New Japan midcarder was worse, Tatutoshi Goto or Tadao Yasuda.
Very basic stuff with the nWo team dominating for most of the match before Fujinami (who had not taken a bump all match) got the hot tag and ran through his signature spots.
Genichiro Tenryu, Michiyoshi Ohara & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Kensuke Sasaki, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Though this still wasn't exactly something you should go out of your way to see, this was considerably better than the previous six man tag. The pattern of the match saw the Third Gen babyface team dominate in spurts but unable to take complete control of the match against their devious rule bending opponents, with Nakanishi being the one to have the spotlight shone on him for much of the match.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Dr. Wagner Jr.
The match begins with some slow paced mat wrestling that ends up being more to Wagner's favour, as he takes control of the match and subjects Liger to a variety of submission holds. There's a false hope spot around the ten minute mark as Liger tries to rally up some offence but the comeback is soon extinguished, as Wagner further cements control, with his submission based strategy becomes more focused, guiding the torture towards Liger's legs.
With the crowd rallying behind him, Liger refuses to give in; leading to Wagner changing plans and moving away from the submission based strategy. That lack of focus allows for Liger to gradually get a foothold back into the match but just as it looked like Liger has turned the momentum his way completely by battling his way to a Brainbuster on Wagner, his rally is cut short yet again when a rana attempt is countered into a powerbomb off the second rope.
Wagner then proceeded to unleash the proverbial kitchen sink at Liger, including a Michinoku Driver on the entrance ramp but Liger showed great heart once again in the face of being dominated, refusing to give in and rallying once again. That leads to the closing stretch, question is can Liger gather enough momentum to turn the match round completely or will Wagner find one last burst and get the job done?
The story they went for here was Liger showing that he had the heart of a champion, despite being dominated for the majority of the match. It's a story they executed well enough but it cannot be ignored that the match was a little bit laboured during the first third. Shave five to ten minutes of mat based meandering off and this could have been a great match, as opposed to just a good one.
nWo Japan (Keiji Mutoh & Satoshi Kojima) vs. TEAM2000 (Masahiro Chono & AKIRA)
Mutoh and Kojima took the fight to Chono and AKIRA straight away, by cutting their opponents off on the entrance ramp. The newly christened Team 2000 eventually turned things around in their favour during a wild opening, with Mutoh being busted open (not unusual for him) before the match began to settle down.
Kojima found himself isolated for a bit but defiantly fought his way out of trouble, whilst exchanging plenty of trash talk with Chono before getting the hot-tag to Mutoh. Mutoh rallied for a bit but Team 2000 seemed to be one step ahead, keeping Kojima on the outside for the majority of the closing stretch.
The main event was a decent 'brawl' that got across this was a grudge match, rather than a wrestling contest. However despite having really good energy for the majority, it had to be said that the match did end with a rather disappointing whimper.
Chono really had pretty much become all gimmick and very little in the way of work-rate by this point and was by far the weakest worker in the match. Kojima and Mutoh were what you expected them to be but the real star of the match was AKIRA who was flying and buzzing around the ring, as though he had a point to prove. But it's often the case, that midcarders will work the hardest in these kind of contests.
Just as with Night one, Night Two of the 1999 Sapporo Double Header, was a rather average show.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:06 pm
This update sees the remaining matches posted up for 1999. Curiously the main focus seems to be on guest star Atsushi Onita and his gimmick matches. In all honesty it's probably not all that representative of what was happening during that year but you do get a key IWGP Heavyweight title defence for Keiji Mutoh, that year's G-1 Climax Final and a young lion appearance of a future legend.
10th April 1999- NJPW Strong Style Symphony (Tokyo Dome)
No Rope Explosive Barb Wire Death Match: Atsushi Onita vs Masahiro Chono
Onita's back and this time he's bringing a bit of old school FMW with him, by taking on Chono in a match that might have had the Japanese equivalent of Jim Cornette fuming with incandescent rage.
Referee Red Shoes Unno, is wearing safety goggles, that's how precarious this match is and Tiger Hattori's also on standpoint in case something happens to Uno (which pretty much gives away that the first ref, is taking a bump at some point).
Basically a charge is sent to the barbed wire ropes whenever someone is sent into them, causing a mini explosion. Much of the early part of the match is built around teasing the competitors being sent into the ropes, as the match wears and both Chono and Onita come more weary, that is when we get the rope explosion spots. There's the inevitable ref bump towards the conclusion, and a great spot where Chono tries to throw a chair at Onita, but ends up accidentally setting off an explosion.
As a wrestling match it wasn't that great but was anyone expecting it to be? To be fair Chono does look to apply the STF at one point and Onita to his credit does get a few nearfalls off some powerbombs, so at least it wasn't all kick, punch and irish whip into the rope attempts.
As a unique spectacle though it was quite entertaining for what it was but whilst on one hand they did a good job of selling the danger of the situation they found themselves in, once they did hit the exploding barbed wire they could have done a better job of selling the damage.
Post match there was an in-ring microphone exchange angle, where it appears as though Onita has won Chono's respect.
* There are probably better worked examples of this kind of match elsewhere, but it earns a lower end recommendation on the fact that it was a unique match within the confines of New Japan.
3rd May 1999- NJPW Strong Energy 1999 (Fukuoka International Center)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Genichiro Tenryu
After defeating fellow nWo Japan member Scott Norton for the IWGP Heavyweight title at the Tokyo Dome, Mutoh made successful defences against Kensuke Sasaki and then Don Frye. A former Triple Crown champion in All Japan, Genichiro Tenryu was looking to add New Japan's IWGP Heavyweight Championship to his list of accomplishments, in what had already shaped up to be a legendary career.
They had the typical slow build opening exchanges, with the largely aimless mat wrestling but things gradually started to heat up around the ten minute mark when Tenryu started to lay some stiff shots into Mutoh, leading into brawling exchanges between the two, that the hard hitting Tenryu was generally on top of. There's a great spot where it looks like Mutoh is seizing back momentum, he goes for the Space Rolling Elbow only for Tenryu to counter it with a simple but effective chop.
That looked to put Tenryu in control but a low dropkick to Tenryu's right knee, swings the momentum back Mutoh's way, with the champion continuing to target the weakened knee with a consistent and focused barrage of attacks.
Tenryu manages to halt the barrage to his knees, when he blocks a Dragon Screw and counters with a Powerbomb. Maintaining control the challenger gets some near falls off a Brainbuster and an Enziguri before applying the WAR Special (Seated Double Chickenwing).
Mutoh battles his way out of the hold and then gets a nearfall of a tope rope Frankensteiner, but Tenryu blocks a Moonsault attempt and counters into a Spider German off the top rope for a nearfall of his own.
Tenryu's weakened knee continues to be a problem for him as the match moves towards the business end, and it's something Mutoh never loses focus on but the former WAR head's strength and power consistently gives him a fighting chance during a great closing stretch that even includes Tenryu pulling out a top rope Frankensteiner of his own.
The story here was that Mutoh had the more focused gameplan and was generally in control of the match but Tenryu's strength and power worked as an equalizer that Mutoh had to overcome.
I'll get the negatives out of the way first and say that the match suffers slightly from 'Epic Match Syndrome' in the fact that it goes long for the sake of going long, because it's in the main event slot, with the first third being typically aimless fare that adds absolutely nothing to the match. Honestly they could have shaved about five minutes off and got to Mutoh's gameplan of targetting Tenryu's right knee alot earlier and it would have been all the better for it.
Despite those criticism's however this still ended up being a great match, as once it did get going this was worked brilliantly by both men. Mutoh's work stayed focused on weakening Tenryu's knee (only going for his big signature stuff when he thought he had Tenryu weakend enough), whilst Tenryu was equally good in selling that his 'wheels' were in a weakened state.
21st July 1999- NJPW Summer Struggle 1999 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Atsushi Onita & (Team 2000 Masahiro Chono & AKIRA) vs nWo Japan (Keiji Mutoh, Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
If you were expecting this six man tag to constantly be on the edge of chaos and referee Tiger Hattori being largely ineffective, then you would be spot on, as to what to expect from this match.
nWo Japan all had their working boots on to a relative degree but AKIRA once again did the heavy lifting for the Team 2000 side, as Chono pretty much just spammed Kenka Kicks for the entire match and Onita largely avoided wrestling and just looked to cream people with chairshots.
Four of the six worked hard enough to ensure that at the very least it's a passable match, but it's not exactly the most obvious choice to pluck from the archives. It's purpose though is to mostly preview The Great Muta vs Onita match that would happen a month later (and is also posted up to the archives). We get some set up here with Onita blowing mist into Mutoh's face during the closing stretch and some post match backstage stuff, where Onita appears to be issuing a challenge to Mutoh/Muta.
15th August 1999- G1 Climax 1999 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G1 Climax Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Manabu Nakanishi
1999 G1 Climax: The 1999 G1 Climax saw a return to the Two Block Round Robin format, after being a single elimination knockout tournament for the 1997 and 1998 editions.
12 men entered the field: In the A-Block were Reigning IWGP Champion and 1995 G1 Winner Keiji Mutoh, 1993 Winner Tatsumi Fujinami and 1997 Winner Kensuke Sasaki, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima and Tadao Yasuda. The B-Block consisted of Three Time G-1 Winner Masahiro Chono, 1998 G-1 champion Shinya Hashimoto, 1998 Finalist Kazuo Yamazaki, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Shiro Koshinaka.
Nakanishi ended up being the surprise winner of the B-Block, whilst in the A-Block Keiji Mutoh and Yuji Nagata ended up tied at the top of the Block, with Mutoh winning a decision match between the two to advance of the Finals. Would Mutoh cement his dominance by winning the G-1 as the reigning IWGP champion or would the tournament prove to be Nakanishi's break out party?
The Match: This was worked very much like a condensed version of the match Mutoh had with Genichiro Tenryu earlier in the year. It had pretty much the same formula, with Mutoh looking to weaken the bigger/stronger man by taking away their base and the bigger man using their strength to overpower Mutoh at points. We even get a repeat of the Space Rolling Elbow being countered spot, with Nakanishi this time catching Mutoh and placing him in the Backbreaker Rack.
The closing stretch largely comes down to a tale of two submissions with Mutoh looking to submit Nakanishi to the Figure Four and Nakanishi looking to force Mutoh to tap out to the Backbreaker Rack.
The work here was good, though it helps that the crowd seem to be invested in Nakanishi's breakthrough run to the Finals but it seemed a bit rushed and lacked the epic feel of most G-1 Finals. Where as the Tenryu match could have done with five minutes being shaved off, this probably needed an extra five minutes for the wear and tear on either man to be more convincing. It's far from a bad match but as G-1 Finals go, it's definitely amongst the weaker ones.
In all honesty Tenzan, Kojima or even Nagata were probably more ready for breaking out than Nakanishi at this point but his Olympic credentials and size probably helped the New Japan office to see star potential that they probably felt they needed to capitalize on at that moment in time.
28th August 1999- NJPW Jingu Climax (Meiji Jingu Stadium, Tokyo)
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Mad Dogs (Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto) vs Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
After winning the IWGP Tag Team championships at the Tokyo Dome, TenKoji made one successful defence against Nakanishi & Nagata before losing the belts to Kensuke Sasaki and Shiro Koshinaka.
Koshinaka & Sasuke managed two successful title defences against Tenryu & Fujinami and then Yuji Nagata and Kazuo Yamazaki, before losing the titles to Goto and Ohara. Koshinaka then failed to win the titles back when he teamed with Kengo Kimura. Nagata was now pairing up with Nakanishi again to try and see if they could do better than they did in their challenge in February against TenKoji.
Oh joy it's my favourite 90's New Japan Tag Team the 'Mad Dogs' and for some boneheaded reason the New Japan office at the time, decided to put the belts on them. It would be like Gedo deciding today, that Taichi and Iizuka should be the Tag Team champions.
The Mad Dogs controlled the early going, before the Nagata/Nakanishi team seized control, following an amusing spot where it looked as though they were going to turn on each other following a miscommunication but it ended up being a ruse to lure the Dogs into a false sense of security.
From there the challengers controlled for a bit, until Goto turned things round with a Backdrop suplex on Nakanishi, before the champs combined to powerbomb Nakanishi out on the floor, leaving Nagata to fend for himself. Nagata then ends up enduring a spike piledriver out on the floor himself and then a Backdrop Suplex in the ring but to the champions frustration, he has the fortitude to kick out and carrying on the fight. That leads to a recovered and fired up Nakanishi cleaning house, before officially taking the hot-tag from Nagata.
Nakanishi's rally seems to be cut off but he then pulls off the double suplex spot, before the challengers each apply submission holds, only for Ohara to break through and break it up. That leads to a hot closing stretch, where it looked as though either team could come away with the victory.
I'll take it back, this actually ended up being pretty good. Being the 'hot tag' guy in a tag team was far and away a better use of Nakanishi, than as a singles performer. It's a role where he could very much accentuate his positives and hide his weaknesses.
And whilst the lay out of the match helped in keeping the Mad Dog's control segments down to a palatable level, the champions also to their credit worked hard this time and didn't just rely on the sort of generic heel tactics and lazy brawling that usually plague's their matches.
No Rope Explosive Barbed Wire Barricade Explosive Land Mine Double Hell Death Match-Great Muta vs Great Nita
Great Nita, is as you can probably guess Atushi Onita sporting Great Muta style face paint. Once again Red Shoes lost at Kerplunk during the New Japan office party and has to referee one of these ridiculous matches.
This time round there are no ropes and two barb wire nets (rigged with explosives) at two ends of the ring and exploding barbed wire boards on the outside. Also the use of a pick axe type weapon on the end of a chain also seems to be legal throughout the entire match.
The Onita vs Chono Barb Wire match just about worked as a one off spectacle and actually included some degree of wrestling. This was just mindless brawling and weapon shots most of the way, which was really just there to kill time before someone was going to be sent onto the rigged up boards gimmick. When it finally does happen, it's all about anti-climatic and somehow the match doesn't even end there.
In all honesty this 'match' belonged more on one of those weird sadistic Japanese game shows than in a New Japan ring.
1st November 1999- NJPW Fall In Black 1999 (Hiroshima Sun Plaza)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinya Makabe
Makabe is a two year young lion 'veteran', where as Tanahashi is only a month into his career. One will go on to have a very successful career with New Japan, whilst the other will go on to have a legendary career and become arguably the greatest wrestler in NJPW history.
As far as the match goes it was short and your typically basic young lion fare. What I will say is that if I was watching at the time, I would feel that just after a month of experience that this Tanahashi guy has potential.
It's mainly there to see as a curiosity for those who want to check out the strange sight of a slimmer Makabe with non dyed hair and the even stranger sight of a Black Trunks sporting Tanahashi with short hair.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:58 pm
Updated recommended match-list. Next update after 2005.
Jan 1990- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Aug 1991- G1 Climax 1991 Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Masahiro Chono
Feb 1994- Shinya Hashimoto vs Genichiro Tenryu
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Semi Final: Jushin Thunder Liger vs The Great Sasuke
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Final: The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus
Jul 1995- Best of the Super Juniors II- Semi Final Match: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II
Feb 1997- J-Crown Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Shinjiro Otani
Jun 1997- Best of the Super Juniors Final: El Samurai vs Koji Kanemoto
Dec 1975- 2/3 Falls Match NWF World Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Billy Robinson
Sep 1981- Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1983- Decision match for the vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Jun 1983- (Vacant) NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask
Aug 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Dec 1985- IWGP Tag Team League Finals / IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura
Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda
Feb 1987- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shiro Koshinaka (c) vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1987- (Vacant) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka
Mar 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada
Jan 1988- Top of the Junior Tournament Match: Shiro Kosinaka vs Keiichi Yamada
Sep 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Liger
Aug 1990- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Riki Choshu
Sep 1990- The Great Muta vs Hiroshi Hase
Nov 1990- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki
Mar 1991- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs AKIRA
Apr 1991- Top Of The Super Juniors Finals/(Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Norio Honaga
May 1991- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1992- The Great Muta & Sting vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
May 1992- Different Style Fight: Shiro Koshinaka vs Masahi Aoyagi
May 1992- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase
Jun 1992- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Aug 1992- G1 Climax 1992 Finals/NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono vs Rick Rude
Oct 1992- Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura
Jan 1993- IWGP Heavyweight Championship/ NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono
Jan 1993- IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1993- Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Feb 1993- Best Two Out Of Three Falls Ten Man Tag Team Match: WAR (Ashura Hara, Genichiro Tenryu, Hiromichi Fuyuki, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa) vs. NJPW (Hiroshi Hase, Osamu Kido, Riki Choshu, Takayuki Iizuka & Tatsumi Fujinami)
Sep 1993- Genichiro Tenryu vs Hiroshi Hase
Jan 1994- Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono
Feb 1994- Shinya Hashimoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Hayabusa
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: El Samurai vs The Great Sasuke
Jun 1994- Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Super Delfin
Oct 1994- Super Grade Jr. Heavyweight Tag League Final Match: Black Tiger II & The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus & Shinjiro Otani
Feb 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match: Keiji Mutoh vs Scott Norton
Aug 1995- G1 Climax A-Block: Keiji Mutoh vs Ric Flair
Aug 1995- G1 Climax Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Shinya Hashimoto
Oct 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Nobuhiko Takada
Jan 1996- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Koji Kanemoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1996- Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
Jan 1996- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Nobuhiko Takada
Apr 1996- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Nobuhiko Takada vs Shinya Hashimoto
Jan 1997- J-Crown Championship: Ultimo Dragon vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1997- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Riki Choshu
Feb 1997- El Samurai & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1997- J-Crown # 1 Contenders: Koji Kanemoto vs TAKA Michinoku
Aug 1997- G-1 Climax Finals: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Kensuke Sasaki
Jan 1998- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shinjiro Otani vs Ultimo Dragon
Feb 1998- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shinjiro Otani vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Feb 1998- Jushin Thunder Liger vs Koji Kanemoto
Aug 1998- G-1 Climax Quarter Final: Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Aug 1998- G-1 Climax Final: Kazuo Yamazaki vs Shinya Hashimoto
Jan 1999- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Koji Kanemoto
May 1999- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Genichiro Tenryu
Jul 1978- WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ryuma Go
Jun 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs El Canek
Dec 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura
Feb 1980- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1980- NWF World Heavyweight Championship: Stan Hansen vs Antonio Inoki
Sep 1980- NWF Heavyweight Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen
Nov 1981- Gran Hamada vs Tiger Mask
Jan 1982- WWF Championship: Bob Backlund vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger
May 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Black Tiger vs Tiger Mask
Jun 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Ultraman
Jul 1982- Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Aug 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Oct 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Nov 1982- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Jan 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Jul 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Isamu Teranishi
Jul 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Tatsumi Fujimami
Aug 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Isamu Teranishi
Jan 1984- Ishin Gundan (Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu) vs. Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami
Feb 1984- Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Ishin Gundan (Animal Hamaguchi, Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu)
Apr 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu *
* This was the end of a Gauntlet match between NJPW Sekigun and Ishin Gundan.
May 1984- Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ishin Gundan (Masa Saito & Riki Choshu)
Aug 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1985- Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody
Jan 1986- Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1986- 5vs5 Elimination Match: 'NJPW'- Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, Kantaro Hoshino & Umanosuke Ueda vs 'UWF' Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido
May 1986- Keiichi Yamada vs Nobuhiko Takada*
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda
* Part of a 10 Man Gauntlet series of singles matchese between NJPW and the UWF
Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986 Final: Antonio Inoki vs Dick Murdoch
Aug 1986- IWGP Junior Championship: Nobuhiko Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka
Nov 1986- Antonio Inoki & Kevin Von Erich vs Keiji Mutoh and Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Japan Cup Tag League Grand Final: Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido vs. Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Apr 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
May 1987- IWGP League 1987 Match: Akira Maeda vs Masa Saito
Jun 1987- IWGP League 1987 Final/IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito *
* Match itself is pretty average, but it's an important part of New Japan's history and the post match mic work was entertaining.
Aug 1987- Antonio Inoki & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami
Sep 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Dec 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader *
* Another one where the recommendation isn't really for the match itself, but rather the fact it was a notable event in NJPW history.
Jun 1988- (Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Jun 1988- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Jul 1988- Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto & Masahiro Chono vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
Oct 1988- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Feb 1989- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final : Shinya Hashimoto vs Big Van Vader
Apr 1989- George Takano & Super Strong Machine vs Hiroshi Hase & Shiro Koshinaka
Apr 1989- Jushin Liger vs Kuniaki Kobayashi *
* Far from his best, but it's Yamada's debut under the Liger gimmick- which would go on to be the most enduring and iconic masked gimmick in NJPW history.
May 1989- Hiro Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Naoki Sano & Shiro Koshinaka
May 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Hase vs Jushin Liger
Jul 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano
Sep 1989- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Riki Choshu & Takayuki Iizuka vs Masa Saito & Shinya Hasimoto
Feb 1990- Akira Nogami & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid
Feb 1990- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen
Apr 1990- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Saito vs Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh
May 1990- Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Sep 1990- Antonio Inoki & Tiger Jeet Singh vs Big Van Vader & Animal Hamaguchi *
* This was Inoki's 30th Anniversary match, in terms of ring work it was mediocre at best but it ended up being an entertaining 'spectacle' in front of a fervant crowd.
Mar 1991- Brian Pillman, Tim Horner & Z-Man vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi, Shiro Koshinaka & Takayuki Iizuka
Mar 1991- IWGP Tag Team Championship/WCW World Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) (c)
Mar 1991- IWGP Heavyweight Championship / NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ric Flair
May 1991- Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & TNT vs Keiji Mutoh & Riki Choshu
Sep 1991- Different Style Fight: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tony Halme
Feb 1992- Akitoshi Saito vs Michoyoshi Ohara *
* More for the heated post match angle than the match itself.
Mar 1992- Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka
Apr 1992- Different Style Fight: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Akitoshi Saito
May 1992- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs El Samurai
May 1992- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Keiji Mutoh
Jul 1992- Masahiro Chono vs Shiro Koshinaka
Nov 1992- 'WAR' Genichiro Tenryu, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa vs. 'Heisei Ishingun' Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka)
Dec 1992- Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shiro Koshinaka
Jan 1993- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Ultimo Dragon vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1993- Hiroshi Hase vs Sting
Jan 1993- Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Takashi Ishikawa
Feb 1993- Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) vs. Keiji Mutoh, Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto
May 1993- The Great Muta vs Hulk Hogan
Aug 1993- G1 Climax Final Match: Hiroshi Hase vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Dec 1993- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh
Jan 1994- Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III
Jan 1994- Hulk Hogan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1994- Antonio Inoki vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Feb 1994- Hiroshi Hase vs Tadao Yasuda
Mar 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Championship- Shinya Hashimoto vs Scott Norton
Mar 1994- Young Lion Cup Final- Satoshi Kojima vs Manabu Nakanishi
Apr 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Shinjiro Otani vs Super Delfin
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Black Tiger II vs TAKA Michinoku
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Ricky Fuji
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Semi Final: Wild Pegasus vs Gedo
May 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Shinya Hashimoto
Oct 1994- Super Grade Tag League IV Final Match: Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Masahiro Chono & Super Strong Machine
Jan 1995- Koji Kanemoto vs Yuji Nagata
Jan 1995- IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Feb 1995- El Samurai & Shinjiro Otani vs. Gran Hamada & Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1995- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Dean Malenko
Feb 1995- Kensuke Sasaki & Manabu Nakanishi vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Feb 1995- Hiroshi Hase & Shinjiro Otani vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1995- Mike Enos & Scott Norton vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Feb 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Apr 1995- Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Keiji Mutoh
Apr 1995- Akira Hokuto vs Bull Nakano
May 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh
Jul 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Hawk Warrior
Sep 1995- Riki Choshu & Yuji Nagata vs Yoji Anjo & Tatsuo Nakano
Sep 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Junji Hirata
Oct 1995- Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano
Oct 1995- Kensuke Sasaki vs Yoji Anjo
Jan 1996- Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Satoshi Kojima
Jan 1996- Hiroshi Hase vs Kensuke Sasaki
Jan 1996- Kazuo Yamazaki vs Shinya Hashimoto
Feb 1996- Hair vs Hair: Akira Nogami vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Feb 1996- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Black Tiger II
Feb 1996- Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara
Feb 1996- 2/3 Falls Match: UWF ( Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kenichi Yamamoto & Masahito Kakihara) vs NJPW ( Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata)
Feb 1996- Gedo & Hiromichi Fuyuki vs Golden Cups (Yoshihiro Takayama & Yoji Anjo)
Feb 1996- Ookami Gundan (Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima
Feb 1996- UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship: El Samurai vs Dean Malenko
Feb 1996- Heisei Ishingun (Shiro Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akitoshi Saito) vs Shinya Hashimoto, Junji Hirata & Akira Nogami
Feb 1996- 2/3 Falls Match: NJPW (Koji Kanemoto, Takashi Iizuka, Yuji Nagata & Black Cat) vs UWF (Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kenichi Yamamoto & Masahito Kakihara)
Feb 1996- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Golden Cups ( Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama)
Apr 1996- Great Muta vs Jinsei Shinzaki
Apr 1996- Genichiro Tenryu vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Jun 1996- UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Title: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinjiro Otani
Aug 1996- J-Crown Title Tournament Finals: The Great Sasuke vs Ultimo Dragon
Aug 1996- G-1 Climax Finals: Mashiro Chono vs Riki Choshu
Jan 1997- Shinjiro Otani vs Yoshihiro Tajiri
Jan 1997- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Ookami Gundam (Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura
Jan 1997- The Great Muta vs Power Warrior
Feb 1997- Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton vs Manabu Nakanishi & Shinya Hashimoto
Feb 1997- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs Keiji Mutoh & Junji Hirata
Feb 1997- Keiji Mutoh, Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima vs nWo Japan (Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton)
Mar 1997- 10 Man Elimination Match: nWo Japan (Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Marcus Bagwell, Masahiro Chono, nWo Sting & Scott Norton vs Keiji Mutoh, Kensuke Sasaki, Lord Steven Regal, Manabu Nakanishi & Shinya Hashimoto
Jul 1997- The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto
Dec 1997- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shinjiro Otani vs Kendo Kashin
Jan 1998- Kendo Kashin vs. Koji Kanemoto
Jan 1998- Bull Powers (Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima) vs Osamu Nishimura & Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1998- Riki Road Final Message 5 (Riki Choshu Gauntlet vs: Kazuyuki Fujita, Yutaka Yoshie, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Takashi Iizuka & Jushin Thunder Liger)
Jan 1998- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kensuke Sasaki vs Keiji Mutoh
Feb 1998- El Samurai & Kendo Kashin vs Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Taikawa
Feb 1998- Akira Nogami & Shiro Koshinaka vs Osamu Kido & Tatsumi Fujinami
Feb 1998- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono vs Bull Powers (Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima)
Feb 1998- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kensuke Sasaki vs Osamu Nishimura
Feb 1998- Hayato Nanjyo vs Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Feb 1998- Kendo Kashin vs Shinjiro Otani
Feb 1998- 2/3 Falls Twelve Man Tag: Kensuke Sasaki, Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kojima, Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda vs nWo Japan (Big Titan, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Keiji Muto, Masahiro Chono, nWo Sting & Scott Norton)
Aug 1998- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Masahiro Chono
Sep 1998- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Taikawa vs Chris Jericho & Black Tiger
Jan 1999- Kazuyuki Fujita vs Manabu Nakanishi
Jan 1999- Brian Johnston vs Don Frye
Jan 1999- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shiro Koshinaka & Genichiro Tenryu vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Jan 1999- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Scott Norton vs Keiji Mutoh
Feb 1999- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Feb 1999- Kendo Kashin vs. Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1999- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Dr. Wagner Jr.
Apr 1999- No Rope Explosive Barb Wire Death Match: Atsushi Onita vs Masahiro Chono
Aug 1999- G1 Climax Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Manabu Nakanishi
Aug 1999- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Mad Dogs (Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto) vs Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:02 pm
We are finally into the 2000's with New Japan's first show of the new millennium.
4th Jan 2000- NJPW Wrestling World (Tokyo Dome) -Part One
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship: Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Kendo Kashin & Minoru Tanaka
Shinjiro Otani: Alongside Tatsuhito Taikawa, Shinjiro Otani was one half of the inaugural IWGP Junior Tag Team champions, but lost the belts at the previous year's Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show to Dr Wagner Jr. & Kendo Kashin. They would regain the belts for a second timehowever in July, winning them from the team of Jushin Thunder Liger and The Great Sasuke. Before making successful defences against Liger and El Samurai and then Koji Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka.
In singles competion Otani would unsuccessfully challenge Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Junior belt in April, before once again take part in the Best of the Super Juniors, finishing second in his Block behind eventual winner Kendo Kashin.
Tatsuhito Taikawa: Taikawa would also fail in an IWGP Junior title challenge against Kanemoto in May and also take part in the Best of the Super Juniors but would feature in the lower reaches of his Block with just a 2-3, 4 points record.
Kendo Kashin: 1999 would prove to be a break out year for Kendo Kashin, first he would win the IWGP Junior Tag belts alongside Dr Wagner Jr. before the pair lost the belts in April, after two successful defences.
However that was topped by Kashin going on to win the Best of the Super Juniors, beating Koji Kanemoto in the finals and then going one better by defeating Kanemoto again for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Kashin's reign would prove to be a short one, only making one successful defence against Tatsuhito Taikawa, before losing the belt to Jushin Thunder Liger in October.
Minoru Tanaka: Originally a Shootboxer, Minoru Tanaka made his Pro Wrestling debut in 1994 with Yoshiaki Fujiwara's Fujiwara Gumi promotion. Two years later however, Tanaka was one of many wrestlers to abandon Fujiwara and defect to the Fighting Investigation Team Battlarts promotion. Battlarts would be Tanaka's home promotion for the next four years but he would make appearances for several other independent groups such as Michinoku Pro Wrestling. In 1997 Tanaka would claim his first significant singles title the UWA Middleweight Championship on a Battlarts promoted show. He would then go on to win the FMW World Junior Heavyweight title in 1999.
1999 would be the year Tanaka would begin his transition to the big leagues, making his debut for New Japan in April and taking part in his first Best of the Super Juniors before going on to unsuccesfully chalenge Koji Kanemoto for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title.
The Match: The opening match for the Junior Tag belts was very much a back and forth affair, as neither team were able to maintain the advantage for any long. Just when it looked like one team would take control, their opponents would find a way to counter and swing the match back in their favour. Otani got his usual spots in (Facewash, Springboard Dropkick), whilst his partner Taikawa got over his 'power junior' spots (Lariat, successive powerbombs, DVD) whilst their opponents relied more on their submission chops, with Tanaka and Kashin even at one point catching the champions in stereo cross armbreakers.
This was a decent action packed contest, once they got past the usual inconsequential feeling out period (which wisely wasn't too long) but the match lacked a structured story to take it to that next level.
Satoshi Kojima vs Shiro Koshinaka
Satoshi Kojima: Kojima would win the IWGP Tag Team alongside Hiroyoshi Tenzan at the previous years Tokyo Dome show, but they would lose the belts just two months later to the team of Koshinaka and Kensuke Sasaki.
Kojima would then make an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title against nWo Japan stablemate Keiji Mutoh. He would then take part in the G-1 Climax, but would finish with a disappointing 1-4 record.
Tenkoji would then enter the newly renamed G-1 Tag Leagyue, finishing joint second in the Round Robin but falling short at the 'semi-Final' stage,against the pair they ended up tied on points with, Nagata & Nakanishi. In December Nagata & Nakanishi would once again the better of their generational peers, when Tenkoji fell short in their attempts to reclaim the IWGP Tag Team titles.
Shiro Koshinaka: After seven years together Koshinaka's Heisei Ishingun stable would quietly disband during the early part of 1999. After losing the IWGP Tag team titles in January, Koshinaka would regain them with a new partner Kensuke Sasaki, going on to make two successful title defences before losing the belts to Koshinaka's former Heisei Ishingun stable-mates Tatsutoshi Goto and Michiyoshi Ohara.
Koshinaka would enter the 1999 G-1 Climax, finishing with a respectable 3-2 record (though one of those victories did come by the way of forfeit against Kazuo Yamazaki). Before going on to compete in the G-1 Tag League alongside Junji Hirata, finishing the middle of the pack of the Round Robin with 8 points.
The Match: The match began with a super hot opening that saw Kojima level Koshinaka with a Lariat and then follow that up with a tope out to the floor but then it went off the rails and descended into a meandering precession of rest holds. Thankfully they picked it up again during the closing stretch, following Kojima dropping a diving elbow on Koshinaka but it wasn't enough to stave off the feeling of wasted potential. Not a bad match by the end, but one that certainly could have ended up better.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Wild Pegasus
Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Tenzan would fair better than his partner Kojima in the 1999 G-1 Climax, finishing with a respectable 3-2, 6 point record.
Wild Pegasus (Christopher Benwah): Now an established part of the WCW roster (3 time Television, 2 Time United States, 2 World Tag Team Champion during 1998 and 1999), Chris would still make occasional appearances for NJPW, through the working agreement between New Japan and WCW under the Wild Pegasus name.
The Match: Despite making the jump to the Heavyweight's in WCW, Wild Pegasus would continue to be promoted as a Junior during his sporadic appearances for NJPW in 1999. However New Japan must have finally recognised him as having bulked up enough to compete as a Heavyweight by the time this match came around.
As much as you try to seperate the wrestler from the man, it's always a conflicted experience watching matches featuring 'He Who Should Not Be Mentioned'...on the one hand it is easy to admire the in-ring work of one of the best of all time, and once again he's excellent here, having a very good back and forth match with a willing dance partner but on the other hand you can't help but think of what he did.
Ultimately in the end, the match came down to being a battle of the flying headbutts, with one of them being the key to victory. It also ended up being a little bit hamstrung by being a ten minute undercard match, but they were able to put together a fine contest within the contraints they had to work with.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto
Jushin Thunder Liger: Liger would lose the IWGP Junior belt in March to Koji Kanemeto, before having a short reign with the IWGP Junior Tag belts alongside The Great Sasuke, before going on to compete in the Best of the Super Juniors, where he would finish with a 3-2 record.
Later in the year Liger would go on to dethrone Kendo Kashin for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, winning the belt for the 11th time in his storied career.
Koji Kanemoto: After coming up short against Liger at the Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show, Kanemoto would get the better of Liger two months later, to begin his third reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. He would go on to make three successful defences against Otani, Taikawa and Tanaka before going on to make the Finals of the Best of the Super Juniors for the third successive year.
However Kendo Kashin would prove to be Kanemoto's achiles heel over the summer of 1999, with the masked man besting Kanemoto during the BOSJ Final and then going on to dethrone Kanemoto for the Junior belt two months later.
The Match: A repeat of the previous year's Tokyo Dome match with Liger putting the IWGP Junior belt on the line against Kanemoto. Along with Otani, these two were very much the leaders of the NJPW Junior Division in the late 90's.
Liger is wearing All Black and it seems to have had a change on his personality, as he comes out even more aggressive than usual. If you were expecting these two to go back and forth for about twenty minutes, you aren't getting it here, this ended up being a one sided mugging.
Like the Hiromu vs KUSHIDA squash from Sakura Genesis 2017, this one is hard to rate but like that match it was shocking and effective. You can argue that such a one sided match was not a good look for the man on the end of the squash and consequentally the entire division was made to look beneath one man but if you take those thoughts out of the process, it was effective in delivering the unexpected.
Kenzo Suzuki vs. Manabu Nakanishi
Kenzo Suzuki: A former Rugby Union player, representing the Japan National Team, Suzuki was making his pro wrestling debut on the biggest stage of all, the Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show.
Manabu Nakanishi: 1999 would prove to be a breakout year for Manabu Nakanishi, crowned by him winning that year's G-1 Climax, though he would prove to be unsuccesful in his IWGP Heavyweight title challenge against the man he beat in the Final, Keiji Mutoh later in the year.
He would also have great success alongside Yuji Nagata in the Tag Team ranks, winning the IWGP Tag Team titles in August and reaching the Finals of the G-1 Tag League.
The Match: Kenzo was being thrown in at the deep end here alright. Originally the match was supposed to be between Nakanishi and Bill Goldberg but for some reason that never happened, so Kenzo was brought in as a last minute replacement. Though it did seem a rather odd move to replace the biggest star in WCW at the time, with a rookie who had yet to have one professional match.
Kenzo gets a bad rap (mostly due to his terrible WWE run) but he actually put a decent performance here in his debut match. They laid out a short, effective match that played to both guys strengths as burly powerhouse types. It's clear to see that Kenzo was going to get a stronger push out of the gate than most young lions as he gets to go 50/50 with Nakanishi for a good portion of the match, nailing the 1999 G-1 champion several times with a spear and even drilling Nakanishi with a Brainbuster at one point. The closing portion of the match does see Nakanishi assert his dominance but a game Kenzo ended up giving a decent account of himself.
This probably isn't worth going out of your way to see but as short midcard filler, it was fine for what it was.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Yuji Nagata
Kazuo Yamazaki: Yamazaki would compete in what would be his final G-1, finishing with an 0-5 record. Yamazaki's involvement in the tournament would be his last before announcing his retirement from in-ring competition.
Yuji Nagata: As well as finding Tag Team success alongside Manabu Nakanishi, Nagata also had a very good G-1 Climax, finishing joint top of his Block but ultimately losing the decision match to reach the Final against Keiji Mutoh.
The Match: This would be Yamazaki's final match in all of wrestling, not just in NJPW. He was only 38 when he decided to hang up the boots, so I'm guessing that his retirement would have been an injury enforced one. He's a truly rare breed in a wrestler that retired and actually stayed retired.
Another short match, and one that had a very similar layout to the one proceeding it, in that after a 50/50 opening, once one guy was able to assert their dominance, the end was going to come rather quickly for their opponent.
This pretty much just ended up being a nice showcase for their signature stuff, such as Nagata's Backdrop Hold and Yamazaki's Cross Armbreaker but it was lifted by the emotion of the occassion.
Post match Nagata and his sensei Yamazaki show respect by bowing to each other, before Yamazaki is then given a retirement ceremony. Yamazaki's send off ends up being longer than the match, as he receives a tonne of presents and have a nice retirement cards along with his old UWF peers Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada turning up to give him a bunch of flowers. He even gets to stand int the ring with the spotlight on just him, as a ten count is rung out on the bell to his honour. I guess after a big emotional send off like this, Yamazaki felt as though he couldn't come back, otherwise it would make a mockery of this retirement ceremony.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:13 am
4th Jan 2000- NJPW Wrestling World (Tokyo Dome) -Part Two
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Kimo
Kazuyuki Fujita: Forgoing the usual excursion, Fujita would begin to transition out of Young Lion status during 1999, taking part in the World Tag League, where he partnered with Kensuke Sasaki (albeit finishing bottom of the League with just 4 points) and picking up wins over midcarders such as Tatsutoshi Goto and Junji Hirata by the end of the year.
Kimo Leopoldo: A German born American MMA fighter Kimo Leopoldo made his UFC debut at the UFC3 event is a losing effort against Royce Gracie. He would go on to face the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and even Scott 'Bam Bam' Bigelow in MMA bout over the next few years to mixed success before taking a break from MMA.
The Match: Yet another 'shooter' that Inoki decided to bring in, Kimo didn't stick around, as he believe this to be his one and only match in NJPW.
Up to this point, this was the first Tokyo Dome show, where I can honestly say that there had being nothing bad on the show. But then this prime cut of 'Inokiism' happened. They did a worked shoot match with lots of ground and pound, before the match suddenly came to an abrubt end with some BS cop out finish involving a low blow.
If I want to watch MMA, I'll watch MMA- I do not need to see two guys having an MMA exhibition, but for some reason Inoki thought this was the future of pro-wrestling.
Don Frye vs. Scott Norton
Don Frye: Frye would unsuccesfully challenge Keiji Mutoh for the IWGP Heavyweight title in April, before joining Masahiro Chono's nWo Japan splinter faction Team 2000. He would team with Chono in the G-1 Tag League, but the pair would finish with a disappointing 6 points, to finish near the bottom of the standings.
Scott Norton: Norton would continue to split his time between NJPW and WCW, where he would still be pushed as one of the top gaijin stars in the former and as a midcarder in the latter.
After losing the IWGP Heavyweight title to nWo Japan stable-mate Keiji Mutoh, Norton would stay loyal to the nWo side, and not defect over to Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 stable. His split schedule would see him blend into the background for a good chunk of the year, missing that year's G-1 climax; but he would return to prominence alongside Keiji Mutoh in the G-1 Tag League, where the pair would win the tournament defeating the reigning IWGP Tag Team champions Nakanishi and Nagata in the Finals.
Over in WCW Norton would receive shots at both the United States and Television belts, but would fail in his quest to win either title.
The Match: If you like pedestrian brawls then you will like this match. Norton was exactly what you would expect from Norton, lariats at walking pace and powerbombs. Frye was OK, he once again showed he had a better grasp of pro-wrestling (he played a decent heel and didn't rely entirely on MMA techniques) than a lot of the other 'shooter' types that Inoki brought into New Japan but if the match wasn't hurt enough by being a plodding brawl it gets hurt further by a blown ending, where the loser kicked out before the three count.
Against the right opponent, both guys despite their limitations were capable of being carried to a decent match, against each other though they were always going to struggle to make lemonade from lemons.
Randy Savage vs. Rick Steiner
Randy Savage: As this is a thread about NJPW's history, I won't go into great detail about Savage's storied career with the WWF and then WCW. Savage's previous experiences of wrestling in Japan would be at a NJPW/AJPW/WWF co-promoted event at the Tokyo Dome in 1990, a couple of tours for Genichiro Tenryu's short lived Super World of Sports promotion in 1991 (through their working relationship with WWF) and a couple of matches in 1996 through New Japan's working relationship with WCW.
Rick Steiner: Though his opponent had a more storied career back home in America (though Steiner's achievements were nothing to be sniffed at), having done more regular tours as part of the Steiner Brother's Tag Team, Rick Steiner was the more recognized name in Japan. This would be his first match back in Japan though for nearly two years, having made his last appearance alongside younger brother Scott in May 1997.
During that time the Steiner Brother's would split up in 1998, when Scott turned heel and joined the nWo. A six time WCW World Tag Team champion with his brother, Rick would add another Tag title, teaming with Kenny Kaos before finding a degree of success as a single performer the next year with two reigns as the WCW Television champion.
The Match: For reason's unknown, other than he was being a massive dick, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage wanted to get into it with the recently retired Masa Saito, who was at the commentary table for the match.
This match was pretty bad, but weirdly entertaining in a wrestlecrap sense, mostly for the epic fail off the top turnbuckle Steiner had towards the end of the match, what makes it even worse, is that they just try to pretend as if it didn't happen and just go right back to the same finish, instead of working with it and calling an audible.
For the most part this was a dull 'American style' match with lots of generic brawling and Savage running through the handbook of stereotypical heel tactics (low blow, using a folding steel chair, manhandling the ref). The Tokyo Dome Crowd did pop a little for the Macho Man's Elbow Drop but for most of the match they were appeared deeply bored by what they were seeing and then cringing at the finish.
After a solid first half, this show has gone off the rails with a trio of poor matches, hopefully the final three matches (which admittedly do look much better on paper than the run of matches we've just had) give the 2000 Tokyo Dome show a strong finish.
Kazunari Murakami & Naoya Ogawa vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Takashi Iizuka (Not on NJPW World)
Kazunari Murakami: Trained as a Judoka and a wrestler in high school, Murakami entered the world of Mixed Martial Arts in 1995 and can be noted as having fought in and won the very first match in the history of PRIDE FC (the only MMA promotion to truly rival UFC in importance at the height of it's popularity).
Murakami would transition to the world of Pro Wrestling in 1998, debuting for Inoki's Worked Shoot off-shoot project Universal Fighting-Arts Organization. The following year Murakami would also work matches for another worked-shoot style promotion Fighting Investigation Team Battlarts.
Naoya Ogawa: After his controversial match with Shinya Hashimoto at the 1999 Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show. Ogawa would travel to America, where he would defeat Gary Steele for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Ogawa would only make one more appearance for New Japan in 1999, putting the NWA belt on the line against Hashimoto in a re-match in October and once again besting his rival.
Shinya Hashimoto: Following the infamous match against Ogawa, Hashimoto would not return to the ring until June. He would enter the G-1 Climax, but the defending champion would finish a disappointing 2-3 to finish near the bottom of his Block. He would then team with Meng (Haku) in the G-1 Tag League, finishing in the middle of the pack with 8 Points.
Continuing his feud with Ogawa, Hashimoto would following his rival to America, attacking the newly crowned NWA Heavyweight Champion at a Press Conference, but he would fail to defeat Ogawa yet again, when the two faced off once more for the NWA belt in October.
Takashi Iizuka: Firmly stuck in New Japan's midcard, Iizuka would do little of note in 1999 other than compete in the G-1 Tag League, where he would partner with Brian Johnston and finish in the lower reaches of the standings with just six points.
The Match: Once again, as with any other Ogawa match this isn't on NJPW World. Who know's why all Ogawa's matches are pulled from NJPW World, but it what it is. Unfortunately no HD version of the match can be found on the internet, but a low quality version of the match can be found on a well known video website.
The Shooter Dicks, come out super aggressive before Murakami (who is blessed with a villainous face, that makes him even more hateable) starts to talk some trash. A pissed Hashimoto tries to fire back, but then things get out of hand with tracksuited NJPW wrestlers entering the ring to try and restore order.
The match gets thrown out as a no-contest, but the fans aren't happy about this (we even see a roll of toilet paper being chucked down from the nosebleeds) and Inoki isn't having it either, as he enters the ring to demand that the match be re-started.
The match re-starts and Murakami and Iizuka, go at it but instead of being completely out-classed, Iizuka is able to hold his own against the invading shooter. Hashimoto gets tagged in and kicks the stuffing out of Murakami, who is then forced to tag Ogawa back in.
We then get some super heated exchanges between Ogawa and Hashimoto, with Hashimoto generally getting the better of them. However it looks as though Ogawa would have things turned around with a series of STO's on Hashimoto and Iizuka only for Iizuka to rise from the ashes and drop-kick Ogawa off Hashimoto and to the floor.
Hashimoto is now laser focused on Ogawa and goes out to the floor, to wail on his rival. Leaving Iizuka in the ring with Murakami for the finish, will dependable midcarder Iizuka be able to rise to the occassion or did Hashimoto's obsession for revenge against Ogawa, left his tag partner with too much to do?
Let's get things straight, this wasn't a wrestling match, this was an all out brutal fight. It was messy and chaotic throughout but the heat from the crowd was on nuclear levels and everytime one of the heroic babyfaces would get the better of one of the hated shoot wrestler invaders, the roof would be proverbially be blown of the Tokyo Dome.
As well as continuing to build on the already molten hot Hashimoto-Ogawa rivarly, this should have been a breakthrough star making performance for Iizuka but they failed to really capitalize on him holding his own against some of the meanest, legit tough fighters in the business.
I know I (as well as plenty of others) shit on present day Iizuka (and rightfully so, he's arguably the worst worker on the current NJPW roster) but before his transformation into a cartoonish heel, he was a decent worker.
'Recommended' : As in the match is worth seeking out if you can find it.
Keiji Mutoh vs. Masahiro Chono
Keiji Mutoh: Mutoh would win the IWGP Heavyweight title from Scott Norton at the January 4th Tokyo Dome show, before going on to hold the title for almost the entire year, putting up successful title defences against Kensuke Sasaki, Don Frye, Genichiro Tenryu, Satoshi Kojima and Manabu Nakanishi before losing the belt to Tenryu in December.
In a banner year for Mutoh, he would also have notable success in the tournament's, reaching the Finals of the G-1 Climax and winning the Tag League with Scott Norton. On top of that he was also front and center for one of NJPW's key storyline feuds of the year, with Mutoh leading nWo Japan against Masahiro Chono's splinter faction Team 2000.
Masahiro Chono: Chono's year was defined by him forming Team 2000, a splinter group from nWo Japan (who he felt had begun to turn too much into a face group under Mutoh's leadership during his absence through injury), leading to the two factions feuding with one another.
In the tournament's Chono had a middling record, finishing with 3-2 (6 Points) record in the G-1 Climax and then teaming with Don Frye in the G-1 Tag League, once again posting up 6 points with a 3-5 record.
The Match: Mutoh and Chono's year long feud had been building to this match, whoever would emerge victorious would get control of both nWo Japan and Team 2000. So whoever lost the losing unit would be forceably merged into the other unit, with the former leader of said unit being kicked out all together.
Members of nWo Japan and Team 2000 are at ringside, were they just there to observe or would one (or more) stick their noses in to swing the outcome?
After a slow, cagey start- the match starts to heat up around the 10 minute mark, at least it does for Chono, as anything Mutoh does just isn't coming off for him. Chono manages to dodge the cartwheel elbow into the corner and blocks both a pop up rana attempt and a Dragon Screw. Meanwhile Mutoh ends up on the receiving end of a couple of piledrivers, is worn down further by being placed in the butterfly lock and then bowled over with a flying shoulder tackle from Chono, whilst trying to regroup on the outside. Chono was clearly looking to weaken Mutoh's neck, as both the STF and his newly established secondary submission hold placed the strain on that area.
Chono becomes too confident however that he has the match in the bag. Looking to finish Mutoh off, he tries for a piledriver through one of the announce tables, only for Mutoh to counter with a Dragon Screw.
That provides Mutoh with the opening he needed to get back into the match. He builds up momentum, culminating in him scoring with a top rope Frankensteiner before placing Chono in the Figure Four. Mutoh's gameplan as so often the case is to go after the legs of his opponent, on this occassion it also takes away one of Chono's weapon's the Kenka Kick.
Chono manages to fight his way to the ropes but Mutoh continues to keep control by honing in on Chono's weakened legs. However Mutoh's focus this time, backfires as Chono manages to block an attempt from Mutoh to reapply the Figure Four, before reversing into a Butterfly Lock.
That leads into the closing stretch, where Mutoh tries to score the victory with the Moonsault, whilst Chono looked to put Mutoh away with the STF. The real surprise though, is that despite their stablemates looking on from ringside, it does come down to two men in the middle of the ring- the feud coming to an end by one of them literally being better than the other on that occasion.
For a year long feud, the match was in all honesty a little anti-climatic. The work once they match got going was good with solid in-ring psychology but considering the match was over a personal issue I would have expected a bit more fire from both men. As it was, what you got was your usual match between Mutoh and Chono, which isn't a bad thing, I was just expecting the work to be a lot more heated.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Genichiro Tenryu: Tenryu was continuing to split his time between New Japan and his WAR promotion throughout 1999, though WAR's schedule had been greatly reduced and the writing was on the wall that another one of Tenryu's projects was about to come to and end (To be fair it did endure longer than Super World of Sports).
In New Japan Tenryu would lose the IWGP Tag Team titles at the January 4th Tokyo Dome show and then make an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title in May. However Tenryu would get a second shot at trying to dethrone Keiji Mutoh in December. This time round Tenryu would prove to be successful and in the process become the first Japanese wrestler to win both the IWGP Heavyweight title in New Japan and the Triple-Crown in All Japan.
Kensuke Sasaki: Sasaki would find Tag Team success alongside Shiro Koshinaka, when the pair dethroned TenKoji for the IWGP Tag Team titles in May, however their run as champions would be brought to an end three months later by Koshinaka's former stable mates 'The Mad Dogs'.
Sasaki would enter the G-1 Climax, finishing with a 3-2 (6 Points) record and in the G-1 Tag League, partnering with Kazuyuki Fujita.
The Match: Here you had the spirited powerhouse in Sasaki going up against the surly old bruiser Tenryu, if this wasn't going to be two stubborn ass bulls stiffing each other and no selling, then anyone watching this match would have been left sorely disappointed.
Thankfully they deliver just that and more! The match starts hot right away with them laying into each other with stiff-ass chops. Sasaki no-sells a backdrop suplex and they brawl on the floor for a bit, before bringing it back into the ring and continuing with the festival of strikes, it leads to them trading closed fist punches to the face, which Tiger Hattori pointlessly admonishes them for (it takes more than that for a ref to call for a DQ in an NJPW ring).
They fight over a suplex which Sasaki wins and then looks to wear down Tenryu with the Strangle Hold before locking on the Scorpion Deathlock. Tenryu gets to the ropes and then appears to have become even stronger, as he wins out in another brawling exchange before going close with a Spider German followed by the top-rope back elbow. A powerbomb gets another 2, before Tenryu then nails Sasaki with his own Northern Lights Bomb but Sasaki has just enough left in the tank to kick out.
Tenryu places a now weary Sasaki on to the top turnbuckle and tries for a super-rana but Sasaki blocks and counters into a Powerbomb. Sasaki then follows up with a lariat in the corner and then a super-rana of his own. That leads into the closing stretch, where the two have another stiff exchange of strikes and fight over be able to deliver a Northern Lights Bomb.
This was non stop action from bell to bell, a physical contest with both men pulling out all the stops. Great performance from Sasaki, who was starting to show that he was turning into a great wrestler, not just a pushed one but even more impressive was Tenryu, who put in a performance that belied the fact that he was already 50 years old at this stage of his career.
Overall: If it wasn't for a rough middle section, then the 2000 Tokyo Dome show could have been an all time great show. As it it is it's one of the better Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show's up to the point, but the fact remains that if you trim away 2, possibly 3 poor matches from this show, it could have been a great one, as opposed to just a good one.
The first half is decent, without having anything that particularly stands out (though the squash for the IWGP Junior belt was impactful). It then hits that rough patch (Fujita faux MMA crap, the plodding Frye/Norton match and then the laughably bad Savage/Steiner match), thankfully the show does turn things around again with a strong closing stretch, even if Mutoh/Chono was a little disappointing.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:14 pm
So here's the rest of the content for the Year 2000, which isn't a lot. The focus is on the Young Lion days of the 4th Generation and Kensuke Sasaki's run as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
It hardly gives a true reflection of the direction the promotion was starting to head in that year but I can only give my opinion on what they've decided to dig out of the archives.
1st February 2000- NJPW Fighting Spirit 2000 (Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo)
Makakazu Fukuda & Wataru Inoue vs Katsuyori Shibata & Shinya Makabe
Inoue and Shibata both made their debuts the previous year, whilst Makabe was the more senior Young Lion with a couple of years experience on either of them. Fukuda made his debut in 1996 as a Young Lion for Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion, when WAR closed down he continued his education with NJPW. Tragicially two month's later Fukuda would pass away, following a match in the Young Lion cup with Katsuyori Shibata.
Seeing as this was a Young Lion tag, the work here throughout was pretty basic, though all four Lion's showed plenty of competitive spirit and a clear will to shine above their dojo peers. Despite their efforts, unfortunately the crowd was pretty dead throughout much of the contest, which did take away a little from the match. An invested crowd, can make all the difference to these Young Lion matches.
All in all this wasn't bad, but it's not really worth going out of your way to see unless you're really clamouring to see Katsuyori Shibata as a Young Lion.
5th February 2000- NJPW Fighting Spirit 2000 (Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo)
Koji Kanemoto & Shinya Makabe vs Shinjiro Otani & Black Cat
What an utterly random match to dig out of the New Japan archives. There are probably hundreds of better and/or more important matches that took place in New Japan's rich history but for some reason they decide to add this lower midcard tag featuring two Juniors, a Young Lion and a career midcard veteran. What they choose and not choose to show from the New Japan archives truly baffles me sometimes.
This actually turned out to be a pretty decent tag match. Naturally the best exchanges were between Kanemoto and Otani, but Makabe put in a decent fiery young lion performance and even Black Cat (sporting a bleach blonde dye job) was solid in his role.
With Otani and Kanemoto taking each other, the closing stretch came down to Makabe and Black Cat, with them doing good work to convince the crowd that the Young Lion might just be able to pull off the upset against the veteran performer.
19th March 2000- NJPW Hyper Battle 2000 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)
Shinya Makabe vs Wataru Inoue
It's hard to say why this match has been chosen either, other than the purpose of giving people another look at a couple of 4th Generation wrestlers as Young Lions. As you might expect this was fairly basic but solidly worked. The more inexperienced Inoue, actually seemed to be the one with more of an actual gameplan, targetting Makabe's legs by regularly applying the heel hook. However Makabe was able to withstand Inoue's gameplan and his superior physicality gradually saw him impose himself on the match more.
5th May 2000- NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2000: Epilogue of Dragon 1st (Fukuoka Dome)
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Power Warrior vs The Great Muta
Following Mutoh's loss to Masahiro Chono at the January 4th Tokyo Dome show that lead to nWo Japan being swallowed up into Team 2000, Mutoh disappeared and then returned to face Chono again in April, this time dusting off The Great Muta character. In truth years of doing the moonsault had taken a toll on Mutoh's knee's and he was forced to work a reduced schedule.
After winning the IWGP Heavyweight title against Genichiro Tenryu, Kensuke Sasaki made successful defences against Don Frye and Satoshi Kojima. Facing a challenge from The Great Muta, he would don the facepaint once again himself and summon the Power Warrior character.
Muta came limping to the ring on a crutch, whilst Power Warrior was decked out in Gold and was accompanied to the ring by his waifu Akira Hokuto. Muta of course didn't really have any need for the crutch other than to lose it as a weapon, which he does as soon as the bell rings.
Hokuto does not like that one bit and gets involved, halting Muta's assault to the point that Muta ends up being drilled with a Northern Lights Bomb. Unfortunately for Hokuto, Muta shakes it off and she ends up paying with a face full of mist.
Sadly that opening segment was more interesting than the majority of the match, which was a sluggish, lethargic affair until they did pick it up a little down the closing stretch, where Muta got to play some of his greatest hits (including going for the Moonsault despite his dodgy knees) and some clever creativity involving the dreaded mist.
Kensuke Sasaki had improved immeasurably over the past couple of years at the turn of the millenium but he was always going to struggle to get a good match out of a half-speed Keiji Mutoh. Some may well be taken in a little more by the pageantry and spectacle of the contest but strip that away and it's a contest that is mediocre at best.
30th July 2000- NJPW Riki Choshu Revival (Yokohama Arena)
No Rope Explosive Barbed Wire Deathmatch: Atsushi Onita vs Riki Choshu
Onita goaded Choshu into facing him, which meant that Choshu's 'retirement' lasted all of approximately 18 months.
This match was basically a murder, as Choshu dominated Onita from start to finish. Onita probably talked a good game but he was no match for the more powerful Choshu, who overwhelmed Onita right away. Onita tried to desperately rally with some cheap shots to the groin,but to no avail and in the end the situation got so desperate, that he was prepared to suffer another shock from the barbed wire ropes just to try and get out of a Scorpion Death Lock.
As a wrestling contest, this wasn't much to write home about but it worked as a spectacle, both as a triumphant return to the ring for Choshu and as the 'Death' of Onita in New Japan. In the right context, extended squashes such as this can work and on this occassion doing an extended squash here ended up being the right call.
13th August 2000- NJPW G-1 Climax 2000 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G-1 Climax Finals: Kensuke Sasaki vs Manabu Nakanishi
2000 G-1 Climax: The Finals of the 2000 G-1 Climax came down to the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion in Kensuke Sasaki and the defending G-1 Climax champion in Manabu Nakanishi.
Instead of being a two block tournament, the 2000 G-1 Climax was divided into two Blocks of 5. Block A featured: Yuji Nagata, Tatsumi Fujinami, Takashi Iizuka, Tatsutoshi Goto and Jushin Thunder Liger. Block B featured: Kensuke Sasaki, Satoshi Kojima, Brian Johnston, Osamu Kido and Hiro Saito. Block C featured: Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tadao Yasuda, Osamu Nishimura and Kenzo Suzuki, while Block D featured: Masahiro Chono, Junji Hirata, Shiro Koshinaka, Yutaka Yoshie and Tatsuhito Taikawa (the reigning IWGP Junior Champion and winner of the 2000 Best of the Super Juniors).
With the inclusion of Liger and Taikawa, it was the first time the tournament featured two Junior Heavyweights. Notable by their absence were Keiji Mutoh (who went off to tour with WCW) and Shinya Hashimoto (who 'retired' after another loss to his nemesis Naoya Ogawa).
In Blocks B and Block D Sasaki and Chono won their Blocks outright. However over in Block A Nagata was tied with Iizuka, whilst Nakanishi was tied with Tenzan in Block C. Nagata and Nakanishi emerged victorious in their decision matches, with Nagata facing Sasaki and Nakanishi up against Chono in the semi-Finals.
The Match: The two hosses size each other up with a test of strength before transitioning into a slow methodical starting sequence, thankfully they don't spend too long trying to convince people they can also do technical wrestling and ramp it up with a chop exchange. We then get a shot of Riki Choshu watching on from the Gorilla Position, which is kind of fitting seeing as these pair of bulls are very much in the Choshu mould.
Nakanishi then targets Sasaki's leg but that plan is short lived as the champion rallies but see's his own momentum cut off by a spear from Nakanishi. Both men very much are now in the mindset of trying to hit harder/tough it out more than the other, resulting in a lariat exchange where both of them tried desperately to stay on their feet.
Nakanishi then tried for another spear but gets the wind taken out of him with a knee to the gut from Sasaki. That does not prove to be a turning point though for Sasaki, as Nakanishi wins out from another lariat battle and puts the IWGP Champion in the Backbreaker Rack. Sasaki countered with a choke but then got dumped with a Backdrop Suplex.
The momentum seems to be on Nakanishi's side as he takes out Sasaki with another spear, he goes for yet another spear only for Sasaki to once again counter with a knee to the gut. Only this time Nakanishi shakes it off and gets Sasaki back up into the backbreaker rack. Would Nakanishi be able to get Sasaki to tap out or will the exhaustion of working three matches that night take it's toll on Nakanishi and allow the IWGP Champ to get back into the match?
Between this and last year's G-1 Final, Nakanishi showed that he was a solid but not great powerhouse type of worker, as he stepped into the prime period of his career. Some will feel looking at both this and the 1999 G-1 Final against Mutoh, that he was a little overpushed but it's not hard to see the potential that New Japan saw in him either.
I'd say this one was a little bit better than the Mutoh match, as Nakanishi matched up better against a fellow hard hitting Bull in Sasaki. They told a simple but effective story here, that was just hampered by a somewhat anti-climatic finish but even then you have to understand that the match was also the culmination of the tournament as a whole.
9th October 2000- NJPW Do Judge!! (Tokyo Dome)
Kensuke Sasaki vs Toshiaki Kawada
After seeing off the challenge of The Great Muta, Sasaki made two more successful title defences against Manabu Nakanishi and Takashi Iizuka.
A near twenty year veteran at this point in his career, Toshiaki Kawada was a long time servant of All Japan Pro Wrestling, and could count three reigns as the All Japan Triple Crown Champion and six reigns as the AJPW World Tag Team Champion amongst his achievements.
Possibly due to the politics of the match being a cross promotional match, Sasaki's IWGP Heavyweight title was not in the line on this occassion.
The first five minutes for the video are from an event in August, showing you how New Japan and All Japan started working together during this period. Following the Misawa lead exodus from AJPW, that saw the birth of the Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion, All Japan were in a bit of a desperate state and obviously thought that working with New Japan would inject some excitement into their product. New Japan weren't yet on their downturn at this point (it would be a few years yet until the effects of Inokiism would begin to hit hard) but given their history up to this point, they were never one to back away from an interpromotional feud and take advantage of a rival promotion's desperation to work with them.
To set this up AJPW mainstay Masanobu Fuchi entered the New Japan ring and declared that he wanted to 'break down the walls between New Japan and All Japan'. Riki Choshu the New Japan booker at the time, came to the ring and shook Fuchi's hand, confirming that the two rival promotions would be working together. Masahiro Chono then came out and seem to object to this occurence but was told to put his toys back in the pram, so to speak.
In September of 2000, Toshiaki Kawada (the only of All Japan's Four Pillars to stay loyal and not join the NOAH exodus) entered New Japan, vowing to crush Kensuke Sasaki, the IWGP Champion, to set up a huge cross promotional Ace vs Ace match.
It doesn't take long for them to set the tone of this match, with some stiff strike exchanges that includes them chopping the crap and even going as far as laying in some closed fist punches. Eventually this battle of manly pride, culminates in Kawada decking Sasaski with a haymaker of a closed fist punch before laying a beating to Sasaki in the corner.
Kawada then looked to wear Sasaki down with the Stretch Plum and then tried for a Powerbomb, only to get back dropped out of that. Sasaki comes back with a Lariat but he's too worn down from the beating he's been on the end of to take advantage of the momentum change immediately.
Sasaki does seize control however following that and puts Kawada in the Scorpion Deathlock, but he's unable to apply the hold long enough to force Kawada into a tapout. They go back to puffing out their chests against one another and engage in one of those 'I'll take your best shot, and I'll prove I can hit harder' kind of exchanges, when they try to lariat one another out of their boots. Sasaki eventually puts Kawada down only for Kawada to pridefully bounce right back up and nail Sasaki with a big boot before collapsing out of sheer exhaustion for a second time.
That leads into a closing sequence where it simply comes down to one man out-lasting the other, as they try to just knock the other one down just long enough that they'll fail to get up before referee Tiger Hattori can slap the mat three times. There's nothing fancy at all about this match, it's almost entirely two proud warriors unloading on each other with the hardest strikes they can muster and seeing who can stand the longest. There's no working of the body-part and there's hardly any devastating head-drops.
In the wrong hands this could have been a bland slugfest, but they do a really good job of selling this war of attrition, getting across the fact that they weren't only carrying their own stubborn pride into the ring with them, but also the pride of carrying their respective promotion's on their backs and showing that their 'home' was stronger.
If one criticism can be levelled is that the finish itself does feel a little abrupt and anti-climatic. It's easy to see what they were shooting for but the move that ultimately decides the match does feel a little weak all the same. Saying that despite the slightly weak finish, this was still an excellent match and another example that during this title reign Sasaki really figured out the sort of wrestler he excelled at being at.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:57 pm
If anyone still sort of cares or are still wondering, this isn't completely dead despite me not posting an update since April. I am determined to finish this even if it takes me until 2025
A combination of reason's pumped the brakes on this project and they may well do again (in fact they probably will) but expect a flurry of activity in the next week or two.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:40 am
Good news! Happy I am.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:04 am
It's 2001, no actually it's 2019 but it's 2001 in this trip down New Japan memory lane. Would have got this up about a week early but some bugs decided to pay my body a visit.
4th January 2001- NJPW Wrestling World 2001
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round: Kensuke Sasaki vs Satoshi Kojima
Kensuke Sasaki: Following his loss to All Japan outsider Toshiaki Kawada in a non title match in October, Kensuke Sasaki vacated the IWGP Heavyweight title he had held since last January. Here he would be one of six men vying to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
In late 2000 Sasaki would also once again take part in the G-1 Tag League, this time tagging alongside Shiro Koshinaka but as with the previous year Sasaki's team struggled in the tournament, as they finished near the bottom of the standings with just four points.
Satoshi Kojima: As a singles performer Kojima continued his progression towards the main event ranks, with an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title and a fairly strong showing in the G-1 Climax, where the finished second in his Block.
It was in the Tag Team ranks though, where alongside Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kojima was able to impress even more. In July 2000 Ten-Koji (now representing Team 2000) were able to defeat the team of Nagata & Nakanishi (now representing the G-EGGS stable) to begin their second reign as the IWGP Tag Team champions. They would then go on to make successful defences against Nagata and Nakanishi in a rematch and then their Team2000 stablemates Masahiro Chono and Hiro Saito.
They once again had a strong showing in the G-1 Tag League, one of four teams to finish tied with 8 Points, they defeated the G-EGGS tandem of Nakanishi and Yutaka Yoshie in the Semi-Finals but were bettered in the Final by another G-EGGS pairing in the form of Nagata and Takashi Iizuka.
The Match: This one started hot straight away, with Sasaki dumping Kojima with a Backdrop Suplex early on. Kojima however avoids getting levelled with a Lariat and then sends Sasaki to the floor, before nailing Sasaki with a tope suicida. However Kojima ended up paying a price, as he ended up colliding with the railings and ends up being busted hardway over the eye.
You can tell it's an unfortunate accident as it never really becomes the focus of the match. Instead the match is built around Kojima targetting Sasaki's right arm. Everything Kojima does for the bulk of the match is in order to leave Sasaki a one armed man, from something as basic as delivering a drop-kick to the arm to applying a Cross Armbreaker. Sasaki stubbornly continues to use his weakened arm throughout but does a great job of selling the wear and tear each time he does so. There's an absolutely fantastic sequence where Kojima goes for a spin-kick, only for Sasaki to catch the leg and deliver a one armed powerbomb only for Kojima to hold onto the arm and apply a cross armbreaker.
Despite Kojima's gameplan however, Sasaki stubbornly refuses to tap out, so Kojima starts to throw the kitchen sink at the recently former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but a Michinoku Driver and a Kojima Cutter are only good for two, as Sasaki stubbornly refues to give in.
Eventually Sasaki manages to rally at the end, and a quick flurry of a pair of Lariats, a Northern Lights Bomb and then a Boston Crab for good measure, ensures that Sasaki manages to just about sneak past Kojima in his quest to regain the title he vacated three months earlier but at what cost to his arm?
Minor criticims's about Sasaki's superman comeback after Kojima dominated the match aside, this was a really hot opener, that was well worked for the most part. Kojima had a gameplan and stuck with it for the most part until he felt he had to bring out his big guns to try and put Sasaki down, whilst Sasaki did a good job of getting across his stubborn toughness whilst also showing just enough vunerability that Kojima's gameplan was chipping away at him. In kayfabe terms you get the feeling had Kojima stuck at it, he may well have been the one to advance.
It certainly made a change for a Tokyo Dome show to start with a match that the crowd were really into, as opposed to opening with something meaningless or a match involving the Juniors (That's not a criticism of the Juniors, just the realities that they aren't as over with a lot of what one might describe as a 'casual' fan).
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament First Round: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata
Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Tenzan had an even stronger G-1 than his tag partner Kojima, finishing joint top of the Block but losing to Manabu Nakanishi in a decision match to halt his progress in the tournament.
Yuji Nagata: Following a successful defence of the IWGP Tag Team titles against the Mad Dogs (Ohara & Goto) in February 2000, Nagata alongside his tag team championship partner Nakanishi would form the Fighting Club G-EGGS stable.
Nagata and Nakanishi would make successful defences against the Team 2000 pair of Tenzan and Chono and then the 'MMA' invaders of Ogawa and Murakami before succumbing to another Team 2000 pairing in Tenkoji.
In singles competition Nagata would reach the semi final stage of the 2000 G-1 Climax, before pairing up with Takashi Iizuka to win the G-1 Tag League.
The Match: In contrast to the opening match this one starts out slow and methodical with Nagata edging the early portion of the match by grinding down Tenzan with kicks and working over his wheels. Tenzan gradually edges his way back into the match but a chance to really seize control is cut short when a diving headbutt attempt is cutoff by an overhead belly to belly suplex from Nagata.
Nagata retakes control, as he continues to target Tenzan's legs-leading to an application of the Nagata Lock. Tenzan manages to rally however, turning the tide with a Mountain Bomb, before drilling Nagata with a Tenzan Tombstone Driver and then connecting with the Flying Headbutt this time round for a two count.
Despite this Nagata manages to seize back control again, once again applying the Nagata Lock-so at this point it only seems to be a matter of time before his gameplan of working over Tenzan's legs come to fruition.
But Tenzan just won't quit and in the end Nagata is absolutely murdered with another Tenzan Tombstone Driver before a Moonsault secures Tenzan a passage into the semi final stage.
The story of this match was that Nagata had a sound gameplan but one Tenzan was able to overcome through dogged determination and being able to hit some big moves at key moments.
Though this wasn't what I would call a bad match, it lacked the frenzied excitement of the opening contest. Despite a decent closing sequence, the match began sluggishly, I can forgive a slow methodical start if they are looking to deliver an epic but in a match that only went about 15 minutes, it seemed like half the match was wasted with perfunctory slow build. Perhaps I would have liked it more if Nagata's legwork gameplan actually worked, instead of Tenzan shaking it off and then miraculously pulling off a moonsault. In fact I'd go as far to say that the Moonsault served absolutely no purpose as the TTD that preceded it was so damn nasty looking that could have been the finish right there.
Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs. Shinya Makabe & Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Koji Kanemoto: After suffering a demoralising sub four minute loss to Jushin Thunder Liger in a failed IWGP Junior title challenge at the previous year's Tokyo Dome show, Kanemoto took a month off before competing in undercard tags until the Best of the Super Juniors, where he would fall short of making the Final by finishing joint second in his Block with six points.
It was in the Junior tag team ranks where Kanemoto would get things back on track, alongside Minoru Tanaka he would end the near long reign of Shinjiro Otani and Tatsuhito Taikawa. Successul defences against the pairings of Jushin Thunder Liger & Shinya Makabe, then Taikawa and Kendo Kashin then followed.
Minoru Tanaka: Tanaka would enter his second Best of the Super Juniors, finishing joint second in his Block with six points. He would then win the IWGP Tag Team Title's alongside Koji Kanemoto before completing a breakthrough year in NJPW by defeating Tatsuhito Taikawa for the IWGP Junior singles belt, becoming a double champion in the process. Tanaka then closed out the year with a succesful title defence against Team 2000's AKIRA.
Shinya Makabe: The year 2000 would prove to be the year that Makabe would start to make the climb out of Young Lion status. He would enter the Young Lion Cup in April, reaching the Final but being bested by Heavyweight prospect Kenzo Suzuki.
In May Makabe would enter the Best of the Super Juniors, though he predictably finished bottom of his Block, he did score an upset victory over Dr Wagner Jr. in the process. Further signs of Makabe's rise away from the Young Lion ranks included receiving an IWGP Junior tag team title shot and an invitation to compete in the 2000 Super J-Cup (hosted by Michinoku Pro).
Tatsuhito Takaiwa: 2000 would prove to be a career best year for Taikawa, who was able to step out of the shadow of his peers. Takaiwa would win the Best of the Super Juniors, defeating his co IWGP Junior tag team champion Shinjiro Otani in the process . Taikawa and Otani would see their reign as the Junior Tag champs come to an end but Taikawa would bounce back when he ended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship reign of Jushin Thunder Liger.
Taikawa would then put up succesful title defences against Kendo Kashin and Koji Kanemoto but saw his reign as the IWGP Junior champion come to and end at the hands of Kanemoto's tag partner Minoru Tanaka.
The Match: Who knows why this match is on a Tokyo Dome show card, when it's not even for the Junior Tag belts, which the Junior Stars (Kanemoto & Tanaka) were actually holding at the time.
As for the match itself, it feels very much like a vehicle to show that Makabe now has what it takes to go toe to toe with established members of the roster and that he's graduated from the Young Lion class.
The first half of the match is very much about Makabe surviving what is dished out to him, unfortunately for those watching this portion of the match is quite dull and drags on for far too long. Fortunately the match does pick up as it goes along and Makabe does go close to pulling off an upset a few times, most notably with a German Suplex on Kanemoto for a two count. The more well oiled team of the Junior stars always feel a step ahead though, with Makabe caught in Kanemoto's ankle-lock on several occasions.
In the end this was OK, fine, inoffensive- whatever term for a rather middling affair you choose to use. It could have been a good match though, if they came out with a bit more urgency right from the gate and trimmed the match of 'slow build' fat.
Kendo Kashin vs. Takashi Iizuka
Kendo Kashin: Kashin took part in his third Best of the Super Juniors, where he finished joint second in his Block, before unsuccessfully challenging for the IWGP Junior belt in September.
Takashi Iizuka: 2000 was a marquee year for Iizuka, who finally seemed to be getting something of a push after spending years in a largely aimless midcard wilderness. The year kicked off with Iizuka scoring something of an upset fall over Kazunari Murakami, in the NJPW vs Shooters tag at the Tokyo Dome that also involved bitter rivals Hashimoto and Ogawa.
He then competed in his first G-1 since 1993 (and the first in the Round Robin Block format), finishing joint top of his Block but coming short of making the semi-finals after falling to Yuji Nagata in a decision match.
Iizuka would then team up with the man who ended his G-1 run, to win the G-1 Tag League alongside Nagata beating the IWGP Tag Team champions TenKoji in the Final.
The Match: I need to stump up the cash and buy that Chris Charlton book to possibly clue me into why this match exists. I honestly have no idea why these two were in match together at the Tokyo Dome, as Kashi was a Junior and Iizuka a Heavyweight.
Anyway this match is pretty short, and apart from Kashin trying to short cut his way to victory by delving into the heels book of cheap tricks from time to time- the match isn't all that heated, so I wasn't getting any vibe that these two really hated each other.
Most of the approx 7 minutes of match time is taken up with grappling on the mat and finishes in rather abrupt, anti-climatic fashion with a submission finish that see's the loser put up very little in the way of fight. If one had to define 'skippable' in the dictionary, I might just show them this match.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Masahiro Chono
Masahiro Chono: The leader of Team 2000, beat Keiji Mutoh at the 2000 Tokyo Dome show to be in charge of both of the Team 2000 and nWo Japan rosters. That actually ended up being the highlight of Chono's year, as he failed to get back into the IWGP Heavyweight title picture.
His year was ultimately defined by a couple of failed tag team title shots and strong but not good enough showings in the tournaments, where he reached the Semi-Finals of both the G-1 and the G-1 Tag League.
The Match: After something completely inconsequential, we are back to the serious business of the IWGP title tournament, with the two 'Quarter Final' winners each facing off against one of the priviliged men that managed to snag themselves a bye. Sasaki's reward for battling his way past a bloody Satoshi Kojima was to face off against Team 2000's head honcho Masahiro Chono.
Chono's gameplan quickly becomes clear, and that is to grind down Sasaki by keeping the pace of the match slow and methodical, with his primary focus on Sasaki's already weakened right arm. Sasaki's raw power allows him to rally a few times but he's unable to sustain any real momentum, even a top-rope suplex from Sasaki following a brief error of judgement from Chono deciding to go for his trademark top-rope shoulder tackle isn't enough to truly turn the tide of his match in his favour.
But the 'Power Warrior' is made of determined stuff and he manages to survive two attempts by Chono to get him to tap out to the STF and when he does finally manage to string some significant momentum together it proves fatal for Chono, a nasty looking short piledriver is immediately followed up with the Stranglehold, leaving Chono with no choice but to give up and his wave away his chance of adding to his one and only IWGP Heavyweight title reign.
This continued the narrative of Sasaki being strong of body and stubborn of mind- fighting spirit! This was a solid match with a simple but well executed narrative, but it was never going to be as engaging as Sasaki's battle with Kojima; simply because Chono for his all his charisma and star quality, was no longer an elite level in-ring worker, something he hadn't been a for a while in all honesty.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Toshiaki Kawada
The Match: So with Chono out of the equation, there was no chance of there being an all Team 2000 final, would Tenzan continue to fly the Team 2000 flag or would Kawada set up a re-match with Sasaki?
Despite busting himself open with his own headbutt, it's 90% Tenzan during the early going, with Kawada barely hanging on from a relentless barrage of offence from the Team 2000 representative. However just as it looks like Kawada has nothing left in the tank, he nails Tenzan with a haymaker of a closed fist punch, it draws a few boos from the crowd and a telling off from Red Shoes but desperate times call for desperate measures.
The momentum now in Kawada's favour he peppers Tenzan with a barrage of kicks and big boots, only to go for one running boot too many and for Tenzan to counter into a Dragon Screw.
Kawada then survives being placed into a leg-lock submission, before we get the usual back and forth tussle, culminating in Tenzan trying but ultimating failing to fend off being Powerbombed by Kawada. Despite Kawada not having it all his own way during the closing stretch the close fist punch was the definitive turning point as Tenzan was the stronger one out of the blocks up until that point.
Not a classic by any means but another solid match in what was proving to be an enjoyable one night tournament for New Japan's most coveted prize. Despite Kawada being the fresher man, I guess the story here was that Tenzan riding on a wave of momentum from his first round victory caught Kawada cold until Kawada was able to get away with just a warning for his morally questionable 'equalizer'.
Keiji Mutoh & Shinjiro Otani vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Manabu Nakanishi
Keiji Mutoh: After losing to Masahiro Chono to the Tokyo Dome, Mutoh pretty much disappeared from New Japan for the year , only appearing for the promotion on two occasions during the spring as his Great Muta alter-ego, firstly taking on Chono and then in an IWGP Heavyweight title match as Kensuke Sasaki (as his own Power Warrior alter-ego).
In reality Mutoh's knees were shot, and he needed to work a considerably lighter schedule. In the late summer between July and September he returned to WCW, once again as his alter-ego The Great Muta but despite briefly holding the WCW World Tag Team title alongside Vampiro, he failed to have the same impact as he did during his first run over a decade earlier.
Shinjiro Otani: Otani held the IWGP Junior Tag Title's for almost an entire year alongside Tatsuhito Taikawa and would reach the Finals of the Best of the Super Juniors against Taikawa but would fall short against his tag team partner.
Otani however was growing frustrated at how the Juniors had been demphasized over the past year, so the latter part of the year was spent out on excursion in Europe in preparation to return as a Heavyweight.
Jushin Thunder Liger: Liger would see his 11th and (somewhat surprisingly -given that he's still wrestling nearly two decades later) final run with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship ended by Tatsuhito Taikawa in July 2000.
Following that loss Liger primarily competed in the Heavyweight Division for the rest of the year. He took part in the G-1 Climax but struggled in his Block, with a sole victory coming against Tatsutoshi Goto.
He briefly went back to the Junior Division, unsuccessfully challenging for the Junior Tag belts alongside Shinya Makabe, before teaming up with Super Strong Machine in the G-1 Tag League, once again Liger would find the competition much stronger in the Heavyweight Division, as Liger and Super Strong Machine struggled to to a 2-4 (4 Pts) record.
Manabu Nakanishi: After the G-1 Climax Final, Nakanishi would make an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside Yuji Nagata, as the pair flying the flag for the G-EGG's stable came up short against the Team 2000 pairing of TenKoji.
The G-1 Tag league would see Nakanishi pair up with a different partner, as he competed alongside another G-Eggs representative in Yutaka Yoshie. The pair would be part of a 4-way tie on 8 Points but once again Tenzan and Kojima would prove to be Nakanishi's kryptonite with this run alongside Yoshie in the tournament halted at the Semi Final stage.
The Match: Mutoh obviously wasn't prepared to pay out for the indignity of his hair transplant, so after time away nursing his bad knee, he was back with a new fully bald look. Otani was also back, and it was clear he was graduating to the Heavyweight class as evidenced by the fact that he managed to powerbomb Nakanishi during the contest. Another thing of note, was Liger wearing an all black outfit (a sign of things to come) rather than his usual all red attire.
As for the match itself, it was a relatively short affair that whilst it wasn't a complete one sided annihilation, one pair was firmly put over by the other and given that one pair was being re-established to the fans after time away, I don't think it takes much guess work as to which pair of wrestlers ended up being put over strong by the other.
Riki Choshu vs. Shinya Hashimoto
The Match: After 'retiring' following yet another crushing defeat to Naoya Ogawa, Hashimoto returned to New Japan in October, where he would defeat Tatsumi Fujinami. However Hashimoto was then fired from New Japan and set up his own promotion Pro Wresting Zero-1. For the first time in his career, instead of defending 'New Japan' from an invader, Hashimoto was the invader.
Hashimoto does a lot of stalling by just standing in the corner, much to Choshu's frustration- who can't get at him because going by the rules, Hashimoto has a rope break. Hashimoto is eventually coaxed away from the corner, but that doesn't play to Choshu's advantage as Hashimoto peppers the veteran with a barrage of kicks. The ref suddenly think it's a wise idea to stop the mauling in the corner that Hashimoto is about to give Choshu, only for Hashimoto to floor the ref with an overhead chop, to the shock of the fans in the Tokyo Dome.
What then followed was a slow moving brawl, with little more than kick and punches. Whilst that sounds pretty dull on paper, you could feel the anger and resentment of each strike as Hashimoto and Choshu wailed against one another.
Eventually Fujinami who is doing commentary, has seen enough and decides that he needs to put a stop to the match before one man ends up sending the other one to a long term stint in one of Tokyo's hospitals.
They could have been on to a real winner of an angle here with Hashimoto as the shunned one time 'ace' of New Japan but sadly Hashimoto would only end up wrestling two more times for NJPW after this match.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final Match: Kensuke Sasaki vs Toshiaki Kawada
The Match: So approx three months after the non title defeat to Kawada that forced Sasaki to vacate the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the Power Warrior has the chance to regain the title or would Kawada once again prove too strong and take New Japan's most coveted prize to All Japan?
With both having wrestled earlier in the night, it looked like neither man was prepared to play the long game, with them engaging in heated strike battle as soon as the bell rang. Though Sasaki would have the odd flurry where he seemed to be turning the momentum in his favour for the most part Kawada seemed to be in control and looked to have the match won after he wore down Sasaki with the Stretch Plum and then followed up with a Powerbomb.
Unfortunately for Kawada, Sasaki found the fortitude to kick out of that, something that seemed to be the spark for the 'Power Warrior' to plant a firmer foot hold in the match, as he denied Kawada another Powerbomb attempt, before stretching the All Japan man with a high angle Boston Crab.
From then on it was Sasaki who took control, delivering a snap German as Kawada desperately tried to hold on to the ropes and then sending Kawada flying out of his boots with a Lariat. Kawada managed to just about survive that but would he find a way to survive the Northern Lights Bomb?
This wasn't the 30 minute plus epic main event we have been conditioned to expect during the current era of New Japan, not that that this was necessarily a bad thing and it may be good for New Japan to throw us the occasional heated sprint in the money slot.
All in all a satisfying end to what proved to be a well put together title tournament, featuring six worthy candidates for the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Overall Verdict: The much maligned Inokiism era may have started to take effect but the 2001 Tokyo Dome show, was surprisingly, rather pleasantly so free from the faux MMA obsessions that would become an unfortunate drag on the product.
Book ended by the two strongest matches on the show, the tournament opener between Kojima and Sasaki and the IWGP Heavyweight title match, it perhaps lacks more truly great matches in between to place it amongst the upper echelon of Tokyo Dome cards with the 7 matches in between ranging from inoffensively OK to quite good. There have certainly been much weaker and inconsistent Tokyo Dome shows that this one though, with the weakest thing on the card the filler between Iizuka and Kenshin, simply being 'meh' than toe curlingly bad.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:45 pm
The remainder of 2001 is so poorly represented that I've managed to fit in on one entry. Kind of gives off the impression that New Japan aren't too proud of this era of their history.
3rd February 2001- NJPW Fighting Spirit 2001 (Hokkaido Prefectural Gymnasium, Sapporo)
Kendo Kashin, Dr Wagner Jr. & Silver King vs Tatushito Taikawa, Shinya Makabe & Minoru Tanaka
As a year 2001 is already poorly represented enough by the utter lack of matches dug out from the archive and posted up to New Japan World. Perhaps it could be forgiven if they were simply cherry picking the most important stuff but they decide that one of the matches to represent the year should be this rather random and inconsequential Junior Six Man Tag.
The match itself isn't at all bad, it's a pleasantly serviceable showcase for most of the men involved but there is nothing here that would make you think that some long forgotten hidden classic has has been dusted off. I said most rather than all, as Makabe (still going by his real name of Shinya rather than Togi seems like a complete afterthought throughout the match. If anything this seems to primarily be a showcase for the lucha guests Wagner Jr and Silver King who both get plenty of chances to shine during the match. The rather portly Wagner is always a pleasure to watch but it's absolutely baffling how he ever qualified as a Junior, prime proof that the division's are more about 'style' than an actual real weight limit.
3rd March 2001- NJPW Hyper Battle 2001 (Niigata City Gymnasium)
Black Cat & Shinya Makabe vs Katsuyori Shibata & Wataru Inoue
Black Cat: Black Cat's 'storied' career was coming to a close, as he would retire later in the year. The amount of representation he has in the New Japan World archives would make you think he was an all time great but in truth he was a career lower mid-card guy, who did not win a single title during his two decade long career with New Japan, he was the YOSHI-HASHI of his time. In truth his abundance of matches are all down to the fact that he would sadly pass away just five years later. Further evidence of Black Cat's posthumous elevation to wrestling saint hood, can be seen by the fact that they run an annual tribute match to him on every Fantasticamania tour. Maybe I'm missing something with New Japan's nostalgic reverence for Black Cat.
Katsuyori Shibata: The son of former wrestler turned referee Katsuhisa Shibata, Katsuyori made his debut for New Japan in late 1999. The following year he would compete in the Young Lion Cup, finishing in 3rd place during the six man round robin portion of that year's tournament.
The Match: A solid but unremarkable affair between a pair of Young Lions and two lower card guys (one a veteran nearing the end of his career, one in Makabe who was clearly in that strange place where he's no longer a Young Lion but not really a pushed wrestler either-kind of where Henare is now, if you want to make a modern day comparison). The only real point of interest is watching Shibata during his Young Lion phase.
6th June 2001- NJPW Super Force Group Declaration 2001 (Nippon Budokan, Tokyo)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuyuki Fujita vs Yuji Nagata
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Following his win at the Tokyo Dome, Kensuke Sasaki's third run with the belt was relatively short lived, enjoying only one successful title defence against Shinjiro Otani in February before being handed defeat by Scott Norton the following month. Norton's reign would prove to be even more short lived however....
Kazuyuki Fujita: Fujita spent almost the entire previous year competing in MMA, primarily for Pride FC, managing to put together a 6-1 record over the year. With Inoki increasingly obsessed with legit fighters carrying the torch for his vision of pro wrestling, Fujita got the proverbial rocket immediately strapped to his back, challenging for and winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Scott Norton (who failed to retain his first title defense), in his first match back in April.
Yuji Nagata: Nagata would earn his shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back in April, when he bested his G-EGG's tag partner Manabu Nakanishi in a #1 Contenders match.
The Match: They actually did a pretty decent job here of showcasing the worked shoot style without going overboard, there was still enough traditional pro wrestling (more on Nagata's side) mixed in to make it work in a pro wrestling setting.
The main thing is that the crowd are very much into the match and solidly behind Nagata. Nagata does a great job of fighting from underneath as Fujita looked to keep control by keeping the contest on the mat with his ground and pound game and use of choke style submissions.
Despite Fujita controlling a good portion of the contest, Nagata gets in enough hope spots to make the fans believe that he has a chance, including one very early on where he shocks Fujita with a Backdrop suplex that almost leads to victory.
Fujita himself isn't bad here, Inoki fan boys aside he probably would be seen in a better retropsective light by many wrestling fans had he competed in the New Japan ring on a more regular basis. The fact that he was seen as Inoki's 'pet project' probably doesn't help with the perception either that he would become representative of all that is wrong with the Inokiism era. The reality is that he was no Fujinami, Mutoh, Hashimoto (before him) or Tanahashi, Nakamura, Okada (After him) but he wasn't flat out terrible either.
12th August 2001- G1 Climax (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G-1 Climax Final: Yuji Nagata vs Keiji Mutoh
G-1 Climax: After the experiment of the 4 Block format the previous year, the G-1 returned to the more familiar two Block format in 2001. 12 Men would make up this years field....
Block A included Kazunari Murakami, Manabu Nakanishi, Tadao Yasuda, Tatsumi Fujinami, Yuji Nagata and Minoru Tanaka. Block B featured Keiji Mutoh, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Masashiro Chono, Satoshi Kojima, Osamu Nishimur and Jushin Thunder Liger.
The A-Block would be topped by Nagata, with Yasuda taking the 2nd spot to reach the semi-Finals ahead of Nakanishi by head to head tie-breaker. Keiji Mutoh would top the more star-studded B-Block, with Chono edging out Tenzan for the runners up spot. The two Block winners would then confirm their superiority over that year's field by winning their respective Semi Final matches.
The Match: The match started slowly with the obligatory feeling out process, before they jockied for supremacy on the mat with some relatively basic grappling. Nagata started to edge the exchanges with Mutoh going for a powder after scrambling to rope break safety after being placed in a Front Facelock.
After Mutoh's brief break on the outside, they started to pick up the pace. Mutoh looked to pick up some momentum and went for his signature Back corner elbow only for Nagata to catch him and then take Mutoh down to the mat and apply a crossface.
Mutoh gets to the ropes but Nagata starts laying in some kicks only for Mutoh to counter with a Dragon Screw. Mutoh then looks to apply a Figure Four but Nagata blocks and counters into a another Front Choke. Yet again Mutoh scrambles to safety before seizing control with a series of low drop-kicks and Dragon Screws before finally sinking in the Figure Four on Nagata.
This time it's Nagata who gets to the ropes for safety but Mutoh stays in control continuing to apply his gameplan of taking away Nagata's base and with that 'Blue Justice' soon finds himself placed into the Figure Four yet again.
Nagata battles his way out of the predicament as Mutoh goes for yet another Dragon Screw only for Nagata to block and counter into a Leglock of his own. Mutoh survives that and looks to get a flash pin with a pop up rana only for Nagata to block and apply the Nagata Lock.
Mutoh barely survives and scrambles to the corner so Nagata goes for a Back spin kick but fails to connect as Mutoh barely manages to get out of the way. Mutoh then placed Nagata on the top turnbuckle and pulls out the Frankensteiner for a nearfall.
It's at this point where they begin to take it home, with Mutoh in particular bringing out the big guns in his arsenal, the Moonsault Press and his new finisher the Shining Wizard. But would they be enough to put away a resilient Nagata?
After a slightly sluggish start, this got really good and worked in elevating Nagata to that next level, win or lose Nagata's stock would have risen here. It wasn't so much Nagata out-pacing Mutoh physically (it wasn't worked as that kind of match) it was Nagata showing he could match Mutoh mentally, with the match worked primarily around counter-grappling.
8th October 2001- NJPW Indicate of Next
Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata
Keiji Mutoh: Following his return from injury at the Tokyo Dome show, Mutoh would play a key part in the cross-promotional angle between New Japan and All Japan, competing for both companies throughout the year, as Japan's traditional Big Two looked to work together in the face of new competition from Mitsuharu Misawa's All Japan splinter promotion NOAH.
Mutoh would come to lead the BATT (Bad Ass Translate Trading) stable that would come to include Shinjiro Otani but also Taiyo Kea from All Japan, Michinoku Pro's Jinsei Shinzaki and Hiroshi Hase.
It was in All Japan where Mutoh would find his biggest success during the year, when he won the Triple Crown Championship from Genichiro Tenryu, becoming just the third man at the time to have won both the IWGP Heavyweight and Triple Crown title's (the other's being Vader and the man Mutoh had just dethroned Tenryu).
Back in New Japan Mutoh would once again compete in the G-1 Climax,where he would reach the final for a 4th time.
Jun Akiyama: Making his debut in 1992 for All Japan, Akiyama would first find success in the Tag ranks, enjoying a monsterous three year reign with the All Asia Tag Team belts alongside Takao Omori. Whilst the All Asia Tag belts weren't all that prestigious, the run helped to establish Akiyama as a future star in All Japan's midcard.
Further confirmation that All Japan saw big things in Akiyama, was the addition of second tag title reign alongside Mitsuharu Misawa in 1996 with the more prestigious AJPW World Tag Team Championship. He would further establish his credentials as a force in the Tag ranks, when alongside Misawa he would reach make consecutive Finals appearances at the Strongest Determination Tag League in 1996 and 1997.
In September 1997 Akiyama would get his first shot at the Triple Crown Championship against Misawa, as Akiyama started to make the step up from Tag Division mainstay to singles star. However despite being granted various shots at the Triple-Crown over the next few years, Akiyama was never quite able to make the ultimate breakthrough and get the better of the more experienced star that happened to be holding the title at the time, be it Misawa, Kobashi or Vader, with his nearly man status further established by defeat in the Finals to Misawa (again) at the 1998 Champions Carnival.
In Mid 2000 Akiyama would join Misawa's exodus from All Japan to Pro Wrestling Noah. It was in NOAH, where Akiyama was finally able to shake off his nearly man tag, winning NOAH's top prize the GHC Heavyweight Championship from Misawa in July 2001.
The Match: A real star studded affair with the then Triple Crown Champion (Mutoh), GHC Heavyweight (Akiyama) and G-1 Climax Winner (Nagata) in the same match. Despite being the odd man out in terms of championship success, Hase is no slouch either and is well respected by the fans in attendance.
That being said, whilst this match did end up showcasing all the competitors talents well by the end of the match, the first half is incredibly dull. The match ends up going about a 30 minutes, but it feels like they've gone for that length of match for the sake of going for an 'epic' main event contest, as the first 15 minutes or so are meandering time wasting that is simply four singles guys feeling each other out.
Thankfully they really turn it up a few notches and then some, when they do finally decide that it's time to give the fans the action they were hoping to see. The fans are particularly electrified by the exchanges between Mutoh and Akiyama. There's a moment of immense tension where it looks like Mutoh is about to receive an Exploder out on the apron but he manages to fight it off and counters with a Dragon Screw. Not to be seen as the weak links, Nagata and Hase also really stepped it up and contributed to an exciting closing stretch, the most eye-catching spot being when Mutoh used Hase's own back as a Launch Pad to nail Nagata with a Shining Wizard.
The second half of the match is absolutely fantastic but I can't ignore the fact that the 'slow build' portion of the contest is at least 10 minutes too long.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:40 pm
It's 2002 and we're starting to head towards peak Inokiism.
4th January 2002- NJPW Wrestling World 2002 (Tokyo Dome)- Part 1
Katsuyori Shibata & Wataru Inoue vs. Masahito Kakihara & Masayuki Naruse
Katsuyori Shibata & Wataru Inoue : Both Shibata and Inoue would compete in their first Best of the Super Juniors, but the Young Lion pair would both fail to score a single point in their respective Blocks.
In the latter half of 2001 NJPW held a Junior Tag league, with Shibata teaming up alongside fellow Young Lion Inoue. The pair would only score one win, but the fact it came against established veteran's Liger & El Samurai showed that they were making progress. Shibata in particular showed he was on the rise at the end of the year with a breakthrough singles win over Samurai in Korakuen Hall at the end of the year.
Masahito Kakihara: The former UWF man, joined All Japan in 1998 and stayed for around two years before briefly joining the Mitsuharu Misawa lead exodus to NOAH. However he only had one match in NOAH, apparently expressing an interest to enter the MMA world and compete for PRIDE FC. That never ended up materializing though as Kakihara returned to All Japan later that year- probably realising that his opportunities to be placed in a more prominent position would be more likely in the now depleted All Japan.
In 2001 he would win his first title in All Japan alongside Mitsuya Nagai, when the pair won the All Asia Tag Team Championships, when they won the vacant belts from New Japan invaders Yuji Nagata and Shinya Makabe.
As part of the cross-promotion between NJPW and AJPW would begin to compete for both companies throughout the year before making a more permament return to New Japan late in the year, teaming up with Gran Naniwa in the Junior Tag League.
Masayuki Naruse: Naruse would debut for Akira Maeda's Fighting Network RINGS promotion in 1992. The promotion started out as a 'worked shoot' style promotion- similar to the UWF but made the transition to being a real MMA promotion in 1995.
By 2001 however RINGS was struggling and Naruse accepted the offer to return to Pro Wrestling with New Japan. With his legit shoot background, Naruse got an immediate push capturing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Minoru Tanaka in July. Naruse would go on to make a succesful defence against El Samurai, but would lose to Kendo Kashin in under 30 seconds in his second defence. Naruse would then team up with Tanaka in the Junior Tag League, with the pair finishing second following defeat to eventual winners Liger & Samurai in their final match.
The Match: Solid opener in-ring wise but one that received a pretty tepid reaction from the Tokyo Dome show, but I suppose the equivalent in today's New Japan would be deciding to kick off Wrestle Kingdom with a match between Umino & Ayada against a pair of Lower Mid-carders (something like Yujiro & Chase).
At times this felt like a UWF tribute, and given the backgrounds of two of the men and Shibata going down the shoot style route, this came as no real surprise. Your enjoyment of this match may well come down to how much you really enjoy men kicking other men.
El Samurai & Minoru Tanaka vs. AKIRA & Koji Kanemoto
El Samurai: Samurai would capture the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship alongside Jushin Thunder Liger in March from Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto. They would go on to successfully defend the title's against Dr Wagner Jr. & Silver King but would be defeated by Gedo & Jado in their second defence.
Samurai would compete in the Best of the Super Juniors once again, where he posted up a respectable 3-2 record to claim second place in the Block but a considerable distance from eventual tournament winner Liger.
He would then fail in a shot for the IWGP Junior Championship against Masayuki Naruse before having further tag team success alongside Liger by winning the Junior Tag League.
Minoru Tanaka: A double champion at the start of the year, Tanaka would succesfully hold on to the IWGP Junior Tag belts alongside Koji Kanemoto until March and the Junior singles belt until July, when he was defeated by Masayuki Naruse.
Tanaka would also compete in his third successive Best of the Super Juniors, winning his Block with a 4-1 record but coming up short against Jushin Thunder Liger in the Finals. He would then briefly test himself against the Heavyweights when he entered the 2001 G-1 Climax but struggled against the bigger competition, picking up just a sole victory against Kazunari Murakami.
As the year came to a close Tanaka would team up with the man who dethroned him for the IWGP Junior title, Masayuki Naruse in the Junior Tag league.
AKIRA: At the end of 2000, AKIRA would make an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title against Minoru Tanaka. He would then enter the Best of the Super Juniors tournament for the first time in 2001, his first run as a Junior coming prior to the tournament being established as an annual affair. He put himself in the running to make it to the finals with a 3-2 record but was ultimately edged out of winning his block by Minoru Tanaka.
Koji Kanemoto: After losing the IWGP Junior Tag belts in May, Kanemoto was forced to miss the 2001 Best of the Super Juniors through injury. When he returned from injury later in the year he shockingly turned his back on his partnership with Tanaka and joined Masahiro Chono's TEAM 2000.
The Match: Minoru Tanaka wants to avenge his former tag partner's betrayal, so naturally he calls out Kanemoto. However Kanemoto cheap shots Tanaka during the feeling out process, leading to Tanaka being worked over in the Team 2000 corner with Kanemoto really healing it up by getting in plenty of cheap shots when he can.
Just as it looks like Tanaka and Samurai might be able to get a foot hold back in the match, any chance of building momentum keeps being snuffed out, with Kanemoto reversing an ankle-lock attempt by Tanaka into one of his own and then Samurai causing a bit of 'friendly fire' when his tope suicida ends up off target.
Tanaka survives a moonsault from Kanemoto, before a low drop-kick finally gets a proper hot-tag to Samurai (whose only involvement thus far were some desperate interventions), from then on the match was a more back and forth affair, with AKIRA barely surviving a Minoru Special during the closing stretch.
After a slightly anti-climatic finish (something that also slightly hamstrung the opener) there was some afters between Kanemto and Tanaka, as the bitterness between the two former tag partners started to heat up.
This was the essence of match that I would 'Mildly Recommend', good action built around a solid story but just lacking that something extra to make it a more solid recommendation. Kanemoto was particularly good value here as a dickish heel but every one played their part in a match that may well as served as a better opener than the opener itself.
Kazunari Murakami & Yuki Ishikawa vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kenzo Suzuki
Kazunari Murakami: Split his time working for New Japan, Fighting Investigation Team Battlarts and Hashimoto's new Pro Wrestling Zero-1 promotion throughout 2001. In New Japan he took part in the G-1 Climax, finishing in the middle of his Block with a 2-2-1, 5 Pts record.
Yuki Ishikawa: A journeyman competitor since his debut in 1992 for Yoshiaki Fujiwara's promotion Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, competed for various promotions including Michinoku Pro, Battlarts, Frontier Martial Arts, All Japan and New Japan without gaining any level of championship success.
In late 2001 he would compete for Pro Wrestling Zero 1 and for the first time in his near decade long career would finally get his hands on a title winning the NWA International Tag Team Championship with Shinjiro Otani.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kenzo Suzuki : Suzuki won the 2000 edition of the Young Lion Cup, finishing in second place in the Round Robin phase of the tournament but defeating Shinya Makabe in the Final.
Tanahashi would also compete in the 2000 Young Lion Cup, before forming the 'King of the Hills' tag team with Suzuki the following year. The pair would go on to compete in the G1 Tag League, where given their inexperience and status they predictably finished bottom of the standings. To their credit however they did not come away from the tournament completely empty handed in terms of points, picking up victories over the teams of Osamu Nishimura & Jushin Thunder Liger and Scott Norton and Super J (the former nWo Sting, Jeff Farmer).
The Match: Much of this match isn't really worth talking about, it's a bland but largely inoffensive affair, save for a hot finishing segment that saw Tanahashi foolishly decide to engage in a slap exchange with thug faced shooter Murakami.
Tanahashi himself was obviously evolving out of the young lion phase, he now had his own gear and had discovered hair dye but he didn't look like a star yet, if anything Kenzo looked like he might be more of the break out star of the team (not that he looked a particularly good in-ring talent, but with his size he had more raw tools to work with).
Dick Togo, Gedo & Jado vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask
Dick Togo: Having trained under Gran Hamada, Dick Togo made his pro wrestling debut in 1991, as a member of the Kai-En-Tai stable he would primarily call Michinoku Pro Wrestling throughout much of the rest of the 90's but he would compete for several other promotions across the globe, including Battlarts, WAR and NJPW in Japan, UWA and CMLL in Mexico and ECW in America.
in 1998 Togo, with the rest of Kai-En-Tai would enter the WWF but the faction never rose above low card status with victories only coming against jobbers, with Togo leaving the WWF in less than a year.
Togo would then primarily compete for Super Delfin's Osaka Pro Wrestling for the next two years, before returning 'home' to Michinoku Pro in 2001. He would form a team with Gedo in Michinoku Pro, with the pair finding success by capturing the UWA Intercontinental Tag Team titles.
Gedo: After WAR folded in 1996, Gedo would primarily compete for Frontier Martial Arts, whilst also making appearances for Big Japan, AJPW and Michinoku Pro plus WCW and ECW in America.
Proving himself to be adept as a Tag Team specialist, Gedo found title success with a variety of partners most frequently with Jado but also alongside Koji Nagakawa, Kodo Fuyuki, Masato Tanaka and Dick Togo. In total between 1996 and 2002- Gedo was a 10 time Tag Team champion and a 6 time Six Man Tag champion, with the bulk of those championships coming in FMW.
In the summer of 2001 Gedo would re-enter NJPW for the first time in five years, where he would join Team 2000 alongside regular tag partner Jado. They would continue their tag team success by capturing the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship from Jushin Thunder Liger and El Samurai in July. They would hold on to the titles for the rest of the year, making four successful title defences.
Jado: Shoji Akiyoshi began his wrestling career in 1989 for FMW and then joined NJPW for the ill-fated Takeshi Puroresu Gundan stable. From 1991 to 1993 Akiyoshi would tour Mexico, work primarily for UWA- it was there that he would cement a tag team with fellow former TPG member Keiji Takayama, winning the UWA Tag Team titles twice under the gimmick names of Punish and Crush.
They would of course go on to be better known as Jado & Gedo, winning a plethora of Tag Team Championships together for the likes of FMW, WAR and BJW. In the summer of 2001, Gedo and Jado would return to New Japan (though both had made sporadic in between as outsiders from WAR or in Gedo's case as participant in the Super J-Cup) joining Team 2000 and translating their success on the 'Indys' to championship success in New Japan.
Jushin Thunder Liger: In March 2001, partnering El Samurai Liger would win the IWGP Junior Tag Championship from Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka in March, before losing the belts to Team 2000's Gedo & Jado, making one succesful defence in between against Dr Wagner Jr & Silver King.
After skipping the previous years Best of the Super Juniors, Liger made his return to the annual tournament and once again showed he was a class above by going through the entire tournament unbeaten, winning every match in his Block and defeating the then current IWGP Junior Champion Minoru Tanaka in the Finals. Strangely Liger didn't receive a title shot for not only winning the BOSJ but also scoring a direct victory over the Champion, as even the Junior Division could not escape Inoki's obsession for putting shoot fighters over.
Liger would then go on to compete in his second G-1 Climax, though he still found himself joint bottom of his Block, he did make an improved showing mixing it up with the Heavyweights, picking up a victory over Satoshi Kojima and wrestling to a 30 minute draw with Osamu Nishimura.
He would then make an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside Keiji Mutoh in October, before returning to the Junior Division to once again team up with El Samurai in the Junior Tag League, with the pair winning the tournament by avenging their loss to Gedo and Jado earlier in the year in the Final.
Liger's busy year straddling the Junior/Heavyweight divide concluded with him teaming up with Nishimura in the G1 Tag League. They would score an eye-catching win over Tenzan & Kojima but would ultimately finish in the bottom half of the standing with a record of 3-4 (6 Pts).
The Great Sasuke: Since holding the J-Crown in 1996, Sasuke would continue to balance working for his home promotion Michinoku Pro with making guest appearances for various other promotions around the world. In 1999 he would have a brief reign as IWGP Junior Tag Champion alongside Jushin Thunder Liger.
The same year he would win the NWA World Middleweight title from future NJPW Junior Division standout Minoru Tanaka whilst competing for Fighting Battlarts, a title he was still holding at the time of his appearance on the show, having held the title to that point for near on three years.
Tiger Mask IV: Trained by the original Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) and The Great Sasuke, the fourth incarnation of the Tiger Mask gimmick make his debut in 1995. Over the next six years he would compete primarily for Sasuke's Michinoku Pro but his rise to a relatively prominent position in the promotion was slow, despite being handed a legendary gimmick and it wasn't really until 2001 with a year long run with the MPW British Commonwealth Junior Championship that he truly established himself. The prior year he took part in the third Super J-Cup, losing in the first round to Jushin Thunder Liger.
The Match: This ended up being a mixed bag of a match, that is just about worth giving a mild recommendation for, due to a hot closing stretch. Whilst the conclusion of the match was absolutely great stuff, we had to sit through an overlong heel heat segment to get to there. The latest incarnation of Tiger Mask found himself 'playing Ricky Morton' for the bulk of the match, including having to endure the cliched heels trying to remove his mask spot.
Once Tiger Mask was able to get the hot tag to Liger though, the match really picked up. There were some really convincing near-falls for both sides with Sasuke falling victim to a Super Power Bomb and battling to survive being placed in the Cross Face of Jado and Gedo pulling out the Gedo clutch on Liger for the heel trio. On the babyface side, Tiger Mask looked to gain victory with a Tiger Suplex whilst Liger pulled out the Liger Bomb and Brainbuster from his repertoire. Great action all round, once it got going.
Giant Silva vs. Manabu Nakanishi
Giant Silva: After a pro Basketball career that saw him represent his native Brazil at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, 7 ft 2 Paulo Cesar da Silva turned to pro wrestling under the gimmick name of Giant Silva. Making his debut in late 1997, he was signed by the WWF the next year, where he was placed in the Oddities stable. However they quickly realised they did not have the next Andre The Giant on their hands and he was released in February 1999.
He did however manage to land a spot with Mexican promotion CMLL later in the year. Still maintaining his spot as a 'special attraction' in CMLL, New Japan also thought Silva had some star potential in the same role, joining Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 stable, where he was often paired up with fellow behemoth Giant Singh.
He would partner up with Masahiro Chono in the G1 Tag League, but the team would miss out on making it to the knockout phase of the tournament, with a 3-4 (6 Pts) record.
Manabu Nakanishi: Made an unsuccesful challenge alongside Osamu Nishimura for the IWGP Tag Team titles held by TenKoji in February 2001, before losing to regular tag partner Yuji Nagata in an IWGP Heavyweight #1 Contenders match in April. He would then have another crack at the Tag titles, this time with Yutaka Yoshie but was once again unable to get the better of TenKoji.
Nakanishi would then enter his 5th G-1 Climax, where he was just edged out of a spot in the Semi-Finals due to a head to head loss against Tadao Yasuda (both finished with the same 3-2 record).
Nakanishi then entered the G-1 Tag League alongside Yuji Nagata. One of three teams to end up on 8 points. Nagata and Nakanishi won a 'decision match' against Dan Devine and Kensuke Sasaki to face off against TenKoji in the semi-Finals but as was previously the case in the year Nakanishi was unable to get the better of a team that had proven to be a thorn in his side throughout the year.
The Match: I was ready to completely shit on this, and in the end it actually ended up being not that bad, or maybe it was just a case of setting my expectations so low,anything other than the match being total garbage was going to leave me pleasantly surprised.
Silva as expected lumbers around the ring, like any typical giant with next to no wrestling ability but Nakanishi does a decent job of selling the monsters leaden offence. Naturally though the match was more entertaining when Nakanishi got on offence himself, with his attempts to get the massive Silva upon his shoulders for his signature Argentine Backbreaker Rack quite amusing. In the end though Nakanishi worked out the best way of keeping the big man down, was to put his body on the line and turn himself into a human missile.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:46 pm
4th January 2002- NJPW Wrestling World 2002 (Tokyo Dome)- Part 2.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kendo Kashin (c) vs. Daijiro Matsui
Kendo Kashin: In August 2000 under his real name of Tokimitsu Ishizawa and without his mask, Kashin competed in MMA for PRIDE but lost against Ryan Gracie in little more than two minutes. The next year Kashin would miss the Best of the Super Juniors to prepare for a rematch against Gracie, this time he managed to avenge his loss which obviously did wonders for his standing in the eyes of Inoki, who was getting increasingly obsessed with pushing those with legit fighting credentials.
On his return to New Japan competion after a four month absence, Kashin defeated former champion Minoru Tanaka in just over a minute, before going on to defeat Masayuki Naruse for the IWGP Junior Championship in less than 30 seconds. Kashin would then succesfully defend the title against Katsuyori Shibata in another relatively short affair that clocked in at just over 3 minutes.
Kashin then teamed up with the third incarnation of Black Tiger (Silver King), with the pairing competing in the Junior Tag League and making an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Junior Tag titles held by Gedo & Jado.
Daijiro Matsui: Matsui trained under Nobuhiko Takada and made his pro wrestling debut for UWFi in 1997, when UWFi folded he followed Takada and several other UWFi talents to the continuation promotion Kingdom. Kingdom did not last long however, go out of business itself in March 1998, probably due to the rise of real MMA promotions such as PRIDE.
Matsui made the transition to MMA later that year, making his debut for PRIDE in June 1998. He would return to pro wrestling two years later but would continue to also compete in MMA.
The Match: You know what is garbage though, the fact that this was the match for the IWGP Junior Championship in the Tokyo Dome of all places. The tag matches earlier on, showcased that there was still some good talent in the Junior Division, even if the talent pool wasn't quite up to the standard of it's mid 90's peak. Instead of continuing to focus on the likes of Liger, Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka, the division sadly fell victim to a bad case of Inokiism during 2001, with matches that are an awkward blend of MMA and pro wrestling, most of which barely last five minutes.
So this will come as no surprise, that this match continued this worrying trend. What would have been a surprise is if Matsui was surprisingly competent at pro wrestling, but he's not. He's your typical MMA fighter who has no business being in a pro wrestling ring. To his (dis)credit, he does try a pro-wrestling move at one point, when he goes for a slingshot plancha to the floor but he lands so awkwardly-he probably shouldn't have tried it. It completely exposed that he shouldn't have been put in this position.
Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs Osamu Nishimura & Tatsumi Fujinami
Hiroshi Hase: As part of the cross-promotional relationship set up between NJPW and AJPW, Hase returned to a New Japan ring for the first time in 5 years, since he 'retired' from wrestling.
Keiji Mutoh: In the latter part of 2001, Keiji Mutoh added the AJPW World Tag Team title to the Triple-Crown Championship he was already hold, winning the belts with fellow BATT member Taiyo Kea from Genichiro Tenryu & Yoji Anjo. Mutoh's team with Kea would have further success when they won All Japan's Real World Tag League, defeating the pairing of Toshiaki Kawada and Mitsuya Nagai in the Finals. They would then face off against IWGP Tag Team champions Osamu Nishimura & Tatsumi Fujinami in a champion vs champion match in NJPW, with both teams putting their belts on their line and it was Mutoh and Kea who would continue their success and hold both sets of tag team titles.
Mutoh would also make a succesful defence of the Triple Crown against Masahiro Chono at an All Japan promoted event, which must have felt a little strange as these were two icon's of New Japan from the previous decade. Mutoh then ended the year with another successful defence of the Triple-Crown this time at a New Japan promoted show against Fujinami.
Osamu Nishimura: Nishimura won the biggest fight of his life, when he fought off cancer. He was out of action for around two years, between the summer of 1998 and the summer of 2000.
On his return he competed in the G-1 Climax, scoring a respectable 2-2 record in his Block. Nishimura once again entered the G-1 the following year but finished joint bottom of his Block, scoring a solitary victory over Satoshi Kojima and going to a time limit draw with Jushin Thunder Liger.
The next month however alongside veteran Tatsumi Fujinami, Nishimura would win the IWGP Tag Team Championship, ending the dominant 430 day reign of TenKoji. They would go on to make a succesful defence against Mutoh & Liger but would lose the belts to Mutoh & Taiyo Keia, that saw the AJPW World Tag titles also put on the line. Nishimura then closed out the year by pairing up with Liger in the G-1 Tag League.
Tatsumi Fujinami: After working more of a reduced schedule in 2000 (despite that he still competed in that year's G-1 Climax), Fujinami returned to working more of a full time schedule in 2001. Fujinami once again competed in the G-1 but finished near the bottom of his Block.
He did however win his first championship in three years the following month having a brief reign with the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside Osamu Nishimura. Fujinami then closed out the year by unsuccessfuly challenging Keiji Mutoh for the All Japan Triple Crown.
The Match: Yet another match, where you have to slog through a whole load of nothing, to get to the good stuff right at the end. The bulk of the match was a sluggish affair between four veterans, who clearly wanted to take it easy, rather than go all out. The closing stretch built around the Shining Wizard was a a lot of fun though. At one point Fujinami nails Mutoh with his own move, but the real highlight was Mutoh launching himself off Hase's abs, whilst Hase had just given Nishimura a Northern Lights Suplex.
Kensuke Sasaki vs Naoya Ogawa*
Kensuke Sasaki: Sasaki's third reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion was disappointingly short, lasting only two months with just one successful title defence.
After losing the IWGP title to Scott Norton, Sasaki's disappointing year continued as he lost a No Rules match to Shinya Hashimoto, before missing the 2001 G-1 Climax.
Slight redemption came at the end of the year when partnering Dan Devine (a product of the WCW Power Plant) in the G-1 Tag League, with the pairing surprisingly competitive,reaching the knockout phase of the tournament.
Naoya Ogawa: In a surprising twist Ogawa joined Shinya Hashimoto's Pro Wrestling Zero-1 and by the end of the year had even formed a tag team with his former rival.
* The Match: As with any Ogawa match it's on NJPW World, and I would like to give my own opinion on it but I can't find it on the internet at all. However from reading stuff on the internet, it appeared to be yet another controversial Ogawa match that ended up in a no-contest, with other wrestler's intervening. I imagine for a good chunk of the New Japan fanbase at the time this shit was starting to get old, real fast.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs Masahiro Chono & Giant Singh
TenKoji: Tenzan and Kojima's dominant 430 day reign with the IWGP Tag Team Championship that lasted between July 2000 and September 2001 helped to cement their position as the premier tag team in NJPW at the time, and their triumph in the G-1 Tag League at the end of the year (beating Mike Barton and Jim Steele in the Finals) re-affirmed that very fact.
Individually Tenzan was pushed as the stronger of the two partners during the G-1 Climax. They competed in the same Block, with Tenzan finishing ahead of Kojima in the standings and winning the head to head match between them.
Masahiro Chono: Chono had a strong G-1 Climax, reaching the semi-Finals before making an unsuccessful challenge for Keiji Mutoh's Triple Crown in All Japan, before closing out the year by teaming up with Giant Silva in the G-1 Tag League.
Giant Singh: Indian born giant Dalip Singh Rana started his pro wrestling career with California based Indy promotion All Pro Wrestling in 2000. He was then signed up by New Japan in late 2001, joining Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 faction and often being paired up with fellow monster Giant Silva.
The Match: There must have been some sort of internal dissension in Team 2000 at the time for this match to be taking place, and it's observed by every other Team 2000 member at ringside, including most significantly Giant Silva.
Giant Singh would of course go on to be better known as The Great Khali in WWE, whatever name he goes under, he's an abysmal pro wrestler. They do their best to try and hide Singh's limitations throughout the match but you can't polish a turd. There's some eye-catching spots such as TenKoji giving Singh a double team back drop but there's only so much they could do to hide Singh's weaknesses.
Giant Silva's presence at ringside proved to be important as he ended up 'botching' up some ringside assistance to his fellow monster- naturally this lead to some tensions between Singh and Silva post match.
GHC Heavyweight Championship: Jun Akiyama vs Yuji Nagata
The Match: So the annual January 4th Tokyo Dome show for 2002, ended up being headlined not by New Japan's top championship but a title from a rival promotion. Whilst I would not think it strange that this would headline any other New Japan show during the year, surely their biggest show of the year should be headlined by their very own top dog and not another promotion's.
Nagata is on fire at the start as he lays in a flurry of kicks to Akiyama, who quickly scrambles to safety and takes a powder. Once Akiyama gets back in, the match settles down with Akiyama perhaps just edging it during the 'calmer' portion of the contest. Things heat up again when they exchange Exploders. Nagata started to seize back control with a Front Choke before Akiyama found himself in survival mode following a pair of piledrivers.
Nagata then crashed and burned on back spin kick attempt into the corner, before Akiyama seized back momentum with a DDT on the entrance ramp. Akiyama follows that up with a Tombstone Piledriver out on the floor.
Akiyama dominates the next few minutes, as Nagata survives yet another piledriver and a crossface, until the GHC champ makes an error by deciding to for something flashy off the top-rope. Nagata catches Akiyama with a kick to the mid-section before Akiyama finds himself trying to survive a crossface from Nagata. Akiyama manages to will himself to the ropes, before a slap exchange ensues between the two weary competitors.
That was pretty much the signal that we were heading into the closing stretch. The match concludes with an action packed last few minutes with several momentum swings that sawNagata locking in a cross armbreaker and scoring with a Backdrop suplex and Akiyama pulling out an Emerald Flowsion and looking to end Nagata's challenge by going for his killer move, the Wrist Clutch Exploder.
Putting wrestling politics aside, this was a great main event and a strong end to what was up to that point a mixed bag of a show.
Overall Show Verdict: The 2002 Tokyo Dome show, wasn't terrible (for the most part), it was just kind of strange for a Dome show. The bulk of the show was inoffensive to fairly enjoyable but none of the match-up's were hardly what you would call worthy of taking place in the Tokyo Dome and then there's the blight of Inokiism with the IWGP Junior title match and another Ogawa no-contest, and whilst the main event delivered in terms of quality, I still stand by my opinion that a NOAH title match should not have been headlining New Japan's biggest show.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 10:17 pm
1st February 2002- NJPW Fighting Spirit 2002 (Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo)
Chris Candido vs Giant Singh
Chris Candido: Having trained under Larry Sharpe, Candido made his pro wrestling debut in 1990. In 1993 he would primarily start working for Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling and Eastern Championship Wrestling. In ECW (prior to it becoming Extreme), Candido became one third of the Suicide Blondes stable, winning the ECW Tag Team Championship's.
In SMW, Candido was accompanied by real life girlfriend Tammy Lynn Sytch and during his time he found championship success winning the SMW United States Junior Heavyweight Championship three times, the SMW Tag Team titles twice and the SMW Beat The Champ Television title twice.
In late 1994 he won a tournament to be crowned NWA World Heavyweight Champion, after Shane Douglas infamously threw the belt away at an ECW event. His reign would be short lived, losing the belt to Dan Severn, early the next year.
After leaving SMW, Candido and Sytch were signed by the WWF, with Candido (renamed Skip) and forming the Bodydonna's tag team with Tom Pritchard (Zip) with Sytch (now called Sunny as their manager). They would have a brief reign as WWF Tag Team champions in the spring of 1996 but it was Sunny (Sytch) who was the breakout star of the trio, as their vampish valet.
Whilst Sytch stuck around in the WWF for a few more years afterwards, Candido returned to ECW (now Extreme Championship Wrestling). He would go on to have a solid three year run with the promotion, joining Shane Douglas Triple Threat stable and winning the ECW Tag Team Championship for a third time alongside Lance Storm.
After leaving ECW, Candido had a brief run with WCW that included as short reign as WCW Cruiserweight Champion. In 2001 Candido would begin touring with New Japan Pro Wrestling, making his NJPW debut as an entrant in the annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
The Match: In all honesty this could have been over in less than a minute, but they decided to have Singh toy with the much smaller Candido instead. For what it was though (an extended squash) and given Singh's limitations, this wasn't that bad due to Candido bumping like a madman to put over being man handled by his gigantic opponent. Singh was supposed to be a monster and this was a fairly decent exection of the 'accentuate the positives, hide the negatives' mantra.
Blue Wolf vs Yutaka Yoshie
Blue Wolf: Dolgorsürengiin Serjbüdee was part of a family with ties to combat sports, with his brothers Dolgorsürengiin Sumyaabazar a highly regarded traditional Mongolian wrestler and Asashōryū Akinori (Dolgorsürengiin Dagvadorj) a sumo yokozuna.
Serbudjee would make his debut in the summer of 2001, in the new year he would be given a new gimmick name of Blue Wolf.
Yutaka Yoshie: After approx four years of working as a Young Lion, Yoshie went on excursion to Europe in the latter part of 1999, working for German promotions CWA and VDB.
On his return the next year Yoshie joined the Nagata lead G-EGGS stable and competed in his first G-1 Climax. In an experimental four block format, Yoshie went 2-2 picking up wins over veteran Junji Hirata and Junior Division invitee Tatsuhito Taikawa, before reaching the semi-finals of the G-1 Tag League partnering Manabu Nakanishi.
The following year however felt like a step back for Yoshie, though he did challenge for the IWGP Tag Team championship alongside Nakanishi in June, he did not compete in either the G-1 Climax or Tag League.
The Match: Pretty basic match, Blue Wolf pretty much stuck to the standard Young Lion formula move-set, whilst Yoshie got to show a little more but he was a lower midcarder with not much in the way of flash either. Got better towards the end, as they notched up the intensity with a slap battle but then all of it sudden it ended rather abruptly.
El Samurai & Wataru Inoue vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Masahito Kakihara
Solid but unremarkable undercard tag, so a match that probably lived up (or down) to it's expectations. The most interesting exchanges were between Shibata and Samurai, with Shibata actually edging the exchanges against the then 15 year veteran- in one sequence he blocks a rana attempt from Samurai and then counters with a Tornado DDT, following that he was able to block Samurai's reverse DDT (basically a scorpion deathdrop but usually delivered with more snap than Sting's version of the move). Shibata isn't yet the Shibata that we all sadly miss as an in-ring competitor but you can certainly see the seeds of his development within his performance during this match.
King Of The Hills (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kenzo Suzuki) vs. Dan Devine & Osamu Nishimura
Dan Devine: Having trained at the WCW Power Plant and under Don Frye, Dan Devine made his debut for New Japan in the spring of 2000. In late 2001 Devine began tagging with Kensuke Sasaki, with the team entering the G-1 Tag League, with the pair finishing 4th in the round robin and making it to the knock out phase of the tournament.
The Match: I doubt anyone truly remembers Dan Devine, he was a non descript wrestler that wore MMA gloves. As for the others in this match, Nishimura wrestles like a throwback from the 1980's, Kenzo Suzuki has the look of a star but is a mediocre wrestler and though Tanahashi has grown out his hair and discovered the bottle of hair dye, he's nowhere near the Tanahashi that would go on to be the saviour of New Japan.
This tag team affair was far from terrible but was the very definition of four men entered the ring and had ' a Match', as unremarkable as you can get. The only real point of interest is seeing a pre stardom Tanahashi, who at this stage of his career was transitioning out of the young lion phase (he's allowed to have his own gear, grown out his hair and had discovered hair dye) but his moveset feels very generic and he's a far cry from the Tanahashi that would blaze a trail in resurrecting New Japan.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Masayuki Naruse, Minoru Tanaka & Tiger Mask vs. Gedo, GOKU-DO, Jado & Koji Kanemoto
GOKU-DO: Hawaiian born Pat Tanaka trained at the New Japan dojo and began his wrestling career in 1984, as a Young Lion for NJPW, before spending a year working for NWA affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions as a jobber.
Tanaka then moved on to the Continental Wrestling Associaton in 1986, it was there he started to receive more of a push, winning the CWA International Tag Team Championship with Jeff Jarrett, before forming a more permanent team with Paul Diamond as Badd Company, winning the CWA International Tag belts a further four times (though none of the reigns lasted barely more than month).
In 1988 Badd Company moved on to the AWA, gaining further success by winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Tanaka was then signed up by the WWF in 1990, where he was put in the Orient Express Tag Team with Akio Sato. The team were supposed to be Japanese, but Sato was the only genuine Japanese wrestler, with both Tanaka and their manager Mr Fuji actually natives of Hawaii. Sato left the team later in the year, only to be replaced by Tanaka's old tag partner Paul Diamond, who worked under a mask with the gimmick name of Kato.
Tanaka lasted with the WWF until 1993, first as part of the Orient Express and then as a singles wrestler but he was booked as a jobber to the stars for much of his run.
In late 1993 Tanaka and Diamond joined ECW to reform Badd Company, before moving the team on to WCW in 1994. Tanaka's WCW run ended up being eerily similar to his WWF run, with Tanaka and Diamond working as a low card tag team, before Diamond left and Tanaka ended up being a singles jobber for the next couple of years.
After leaving WCW in 1998, Tanaka split his time working the international indy circuit, most notably for FMW in Japan. In late 2001 he would return to where his career began, re-joining NJPW for the first in 15 years. Working under the new gimmick name of GOKU-DO he would became a member of Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 stable.
The Match: Jump starts by scumbag heels aren't anything new in NJPW, as proven here in this match, with the Team 2000 taking early control by utilising such nefarious tactics. Liger is the first to get isolated but he manages to battle his way out of trouble, which leads to series of false hope hot-tags for the babyfaces who are never quite able to turn the momentum completely in the favour. Team 2000 are eventually able to take complete control when they overwhelm Masayuki Naruse with their rule bending ways.
Eventually through a combination of sheer will power and Gedo taking his eye off the ball when it came to cutting off the ring, Naruse does manage to tag out to Liger. After a flurry of Shotei's that looked to be another false dawn as Team 2000 appeared to shut down the rally but another error allows for Liger to hit a double drop-kick and really begin to build up some momentum for the babyfaces.
As one should expect that babyfaces don't have things completely their own way from there on, as the action heats up into a frenzied flurry of back and forth action with everyone hitting their signature spots. The most heated exchanges are between former tag partners Koji Kanemoto and Minoru Tanaka. Ultimately though with the babyfaces clearing out the rest of Team 2000 with simultaneous planchas to the floor, the finish comes down to a battle tested Masayuki Naruse and Goku-Do.
This ended up being a pretty entertaining 8 Man Tag and a solid showcase for the Junior Division at the time. Whilst the closing stretch was naturally the most exciting portion of the match, more credit must be given to the Team 2000 heat segment, that whilst quite long, never got to the point of being tedious.
Riki Choshu, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. TEAM2000 (Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Masahiro Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto)
Riki Choshu: After coming out of retirement to face off against Atsushi Onita, Choshu returned to a more active schedule in 2001, though one where he limited himself to appearing mostly in low profile undercard tags, the only acception being an unsuccesful challenge for the IWGP Tag Team titles held by TenKoji alongside Shinya Makabe.
Shiro Koshinaka: 2001 felt like a year where Koshinaka was being phased down to the role of veteran midcarder, finding himself working low profile undercard tags all year and not taking part in either the G-1 or Tag League.
Tatsutoshi Goto: A low ranked member of Chono's Team 2000, veteran midcarder Goto did get to take part in the 2000 edition of the G-1 Climax, but was only able to score one victory in his block (albeit an upset over rising star Yuji Nagata), he then took part in that years Tag League alongside Michiyoshi Ohara under the gimmick name of T-2000 Machine #1, before making a challenge for the IWGP Tag titles alongside Masahiro Chono.
The next year though Goto found himself being pushed even further down the pecking order, reduced to working undercard tags or facing off against Young Lions.
The Match: The most surprising thing about this match was that the trio of Hontai veterans were in control for most of the match with Team 2000 weak-link Tatsutoshi Goto enduring most of the abuse. Like the Tanahashi tag from earlier, this wasn't bad but was functional at best, with the only real positive difference being the fact that the crowd was more invested in the action here due to the combined star power of those involved.
One additonal observation I will make, is that for most of their in wrestling together, Fujinami was the considerably better in-ring worker than generational peer/rival Choshu, but I would have to say at this stage Choshu with his economical style was holding up better, whilst Fujinami was starting to look a sad shadow of his considerably more dynamic former self.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Rick Steiner
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Champion Kazuyuki Fujita had to vacate the title due to an achilles injury, so a tournament was put together. So a 7 man tournament was made for the vacant belt, six of the competitors would compete in first round matches, whilst Masahiro Chono was given a bye to the semi-finals.
Rick Steiner: After WWE bought out WCW the previous year, Rick Steiner was one of the WCW workers whose contract was not picked up, leading to him making a fully fledged return to New Japan.
The Match: Kensuke Sasaki is sporting a new look, the mullet has gone and in it's place is a Grade 1 all over. It appears to have had the affect of Samson losing his hair, because Sasaki was mauled from start to finish by the re-debuting Rick Steiner. Given that Sasaki was IWGP Heavyweight champion less than a year prior to this match taking place, it's shocking just how little he is given in this match, just so that the lesser Steiner can be presented as some sort of unstoppable gaijin beast.
The match as literally all Steiner, as he tossed Sasaki around with lots of Suplexes and heeled it up by flipping off the crowd. To be fair Steiner (minus star power) was fine here and executed what he had to do pretty well, it would have just been a better match if Sasaki wasn't made to look like a jobber.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Giant Silva vs Tadao Yasuda
The finish saw one of them being choked out, that's really the only thing to say about a match that was mercifully short. Neither of them had any business being a pushed commodity in New Japan but this was about the time Inoki was really starting to lose the plot.
IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Yuji Nagata vs Manabu Nakanishi
We have the worst kind of basic grappling and rolling around on the mat for about five minutes (the sort that looks like they are just killing time) until the first chop is thrown in anger from Nakanishi. They transtioned into the fighting spirit strike exchange part of the match, which Nakanishi eventually gets the better of, building up momentum with a spear and a lariat for two counts before placing Nagata in the backbreaker rack.
Nagata managed to escape that time but Nakanishi was not going to give up in trying to put Nagata away with his signature hold. The closing stretch was very much built around Nagata surviving/escaping from the rack and finding a way to wear down Nakanishi with his more precise striking (in particular his kicks).
A curate's egg of a match, as the closing stretch was well worked around a simple concept that accentuated Nakanishi's strengths, but the opening portion was aimless and dull.
Overall: If you want a distillation of where New Japan was starting to go wrong in this period of their history, then look no further than this Sapporo show from February 2002. The best match is the 8 man Junior tag, whilst the closing stretch of the Nagata vs Nakanishi aside, the IWGP Heavyweight tournament matches weren't anything to get excited about. It would be harsh to call the remainder of the card garbage but it wouldn't be harsh to call it 'meh'.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed May 01, 2019 10:29 pm
Will try to keep up this rolling as much as I can, between keeping up with New Japan's increasingly busy present day schedule. Had to put this on hold for a bit, as busy with real life work stuff, so much so that I was generally a week or two behind with current New Japan, which is why I weren't really active in terms of posting at all for the last few months, yet alone keeping this project up to date. I question my sanity for taking this on but I'm determined to finish it, whenever that happens to be (cut off point is 2012- which is the start of the Bushiroad backed version of New Japan).
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 4:19 pm
So here we are with the remainder of the 2002 matches available to see on New Japan World. It's a real shame that representation of this era, is so sparse. From the volume of content available, you certainly get a sense that New Japan are invariably prouder of their history from the 80's and 90's.
May 2nd 2002: NJPW Toukon Memorial Day Anniversary (Tokyo Dome)
Defenders of the Inokiism era may well point out that New Japan were still running multiple dome shows at it's height and that is indeed fact, as evidenced by this event right here, but New Japan still may of been benefitting from some brand loyalty at this point plus who knows how many tickets for these big shows weren't papered (given away). Truth is fan's don't just abandon a product overnight, it takes months, sometime's even years to drive some of the most loyal one's away and it can also take years to rebuild their trust. Business wise that era where New Japan was trying to recover from the damage of Inokiism did worse numbers, but that's because much of the fanbase had been gradually driven away by bad booking and an increasingly lack lustre in-ring product.
NJPW vs NOAH: Masahiro Chono vs Mitsuharu Misawa
Masahiro Chono: The Team 2000 leader competed in the tournament for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight title but was defeated in the semi-finals by eventual surpise winner Tadao Yasuda. Chono then turned his attention to another set of vacant titles, entering a tournament for the IWGP Tag Team championship alongside Hiroyoshi Tenzan, this time round Chono was more succesful with the Team 2000 pair defeating Nagata and Nakanishi to the claim the belts for the fourth time together as a team.
Mitsuharu Misawa: A successful amateur wrestler, Misawa made his debut for All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1981. In 1984 he became the second man to take on the Tiger Mask persona (after AJPW acquired the rights to the character). Unlike the first Tiger Mask, Misawa graduated to the Heavyweight Division but it wasn't until he unmasked in 1990 that he truly began to rise out from the midcard.
For the rest of the decade Misawa established himself as one of All Japan's leading lights, winning the AJPW Triple Crown five times, the AJPW World Tag Team Championships six times and building legendary rivarlries with the likes of Kenta Kobashi and Toshiaki Kawada.
The death of AJPW founder Giant Baba, brought about political turmoil. Disagreements with Baba's widow Motoko, lead to Misawa leading a mass exodus from All Japan to form a new promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH. In April 2001 Misawa became the inaugural GHC (NOAH's governing body) Heavyweight champion.
The Match: Here's something you don't see in today's New Japan- the big time interpromotional match-up, where one of NJPW's biggest stars (in this case Chono) would go up against a big star from one of their competitors (in this case Misawa from NOAH). They were certainly the type of match that could help sell tickets to fill a venue as big as the Tokyo Dome.
There's certainly plenty of fervour from Tokyo Dome crowd for this match, but the opening portion of this match was deathly dull. Things start of pick up when Misawa, wipes out Chono with a dive to the floor but he fails to capitalise and Chono nails Misawa with his flying shoulder block when they bring the action back inside.
Chono then decided to tamper with the ring-ropes, making them slack before really taking control with a piledriver on the entrance ramp- well at least he thought he just did, as Misawa just popped right back up and laid out Chono with an Emerald Flowsion on the same ramp.
They both make it back inside and do the obligatory forearm exchange but Chono is the one obviously worse for wear and Misawa almost picks up a knockout win, when he sends Chono sprawling into the corner with a firm elbow strike.
Chono manages to get back into the match and slow the pace down again when Misawa gets caught in a Figure Four. The match then went through a period where they seemed to exchange exactly the same moves, such as one applying an octopus stretch and then moments later the other applying the exact same hold.
Misawa starts to take control again, getting two counts with a Tiger Driver and a Frog Splash before trying to submit Chono with a facelock. Chono does not give in however and fires back with some Kenka Kicks before locking in the STF.
By this point they were heading towards the 30 minute time limit, would Misawa survive the STF and if he did would either of them land the vital blow that would secure them victory. Given the cross-promotional politics, I think you can all take a good guess at how this one turns out.
There was a husk of a decent match in their somewhere, as when they did decide to pick up the pace, the action was pretty good and they got an invested crowd into a frenzy, it's just a shame that so much of the match (especially during the opening 10 minutes) is filled with so much padding in the form of meandering rest-holds and stalling in order to drag out to 30 minutes.
Despite the intrigue of seeing Misawa in a New Japan ring, I can't really give it enough backing to recommend that anyone seek this one out.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Yuji Nagata vs Yoshihiro Takayama
Yuji Nagata: Nagata reached the finals of the tournament for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight title but fell short against Tadao Yasuda, before suffering further final hurdle heartbreak when alongside Nakanishi he was beaten in the finals of a tournament for the vacant IWGP Tag Team championships.
However Nagata's fortunes would turn in April, defeating Yasuda in a re-match for the IWGP Heavyweight title for his first reign as champion.
Yoshihiro Takayama: Takayama last appeared in a New Japan ring in 1996, since then he competed for All Japan, before joining the Misawa lead to NOAH in 2000, alongside competing in MMA for the Pride FC promotion.
During his time with AJPW, Takayama formed a succesful tag team with Takao Omori (No Fear) winning the AJPW All Asia and World Tag Team titles, with their success continuing as they transitioned to NOAH with a reign as GHC Tag Team champions.
The Match: Things kick off in intense, scrappy fashion with some MMA inspired ground and pound. Nagata lands the first big move of the match with a backdrop hold but Takayama shakes it off and moments later seizes control with an Everest German and High Kick to Nagata's head, that sends the defending champion scrambling to the floor to try and regroup.
Nagata then withstands a barrage of kicks from Takayama's tree-trunk like legs but is then able to reverse a German Suplex attempt into an ankle lock. It's not enough to put Takayama away, who uses his sheer brute force to once again tip the balance back in his favour, going close once again with a jumping knee strike into the corner followed by a double arm suplex.
Blue Justice guts his way through another barrage from Takayama and eventually finds an opening to snare Takayama in the Nagata Lock. Takayama manages to survive another submission predicament before they literally unload a kitchen sinks worth of strikes upon one another down the closing stretch.
There was a brief worry that this would end up being a messy worked shoot style match but they thankfully just did the ground and pound right at the start and in all honesty it actually helped to set the tone of the match. The story of the match was all about whether or not Nagata would have the guts to withstand the barrage of heavy strikes from the beast of a man before him and the exchange of strikes between the two in the end was intense and enthralling.
This match clocked in at less than twenty minutes, and is solid proof that you can create main event worthy magic with an intense sprint. As much as I enjoy the kind of epic's Okada, Tanahashi, Naito etc craft in the main events of present day New Japan, there is a place to mix things up a bit with the sort of hard hitting, to the point contest put together by Nagata and Takayama in this match right here.
August 11th 2002: G1 Climax (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)[/b
G1 Climax Finals: Mashiro Chono vs Yoshihiro Takayama
2002 G1 Climax: The 2002 edition of the G-1 Climax, saw 12 entrants divided into two Blocks. The A-Block featured Freelancer Yoshihiro Takayama, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kensuke Sasaki, Shiro Koshinaka, Yutaka Yoshie and tournament debutant Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The B-Block featured Masashiro Chono, Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Nishimura, Kenzo Suzuki, Tadao Yasuda and Yuji Nagata.
Takayama and Chono ended up winning their respective blocks and earned a spot in the semi-Finals along with A-Block Runner up Hiroyoshi Tenzan, however Osamu Nishimura and Manabu Nakinishi needed to meet in a tie-breaker to decide the B-Block runner up, which Nishimura won. Both Block winners however continued to assert themselves as the dominate forces in the tournament, winning their respective semi-Finals.
The Match: Chono explodes out of the blocks with a Kenka Kick, but Takayama just brushes it off and fires back with a high kick of it's own. After that hot start the match settles into a more tentatively paced affair, with Takayama looking to use his brute strength to rough-house Chono to victory, and Chono looking to take it to the mat and grind the big man down with submission holds.
Things start to heat up when Takayama goes close with an Everest German, before nailing Chono with a jumping knee strike, the momentum of which sends both tumbling over the top-rope to the floor.
Back in the ring, a simultaneous Kenka Kick exchange almost leads to a double knock out, Takayama looks the stronger getting back to his feet and a pair of knee strikes to the gut of Chono almost bring victory. Takayama then rolls down the knee pads and absolutely brutalizes with Chono with a barrage of knee strikes in the corner, to the disdain of the New Japan fans (remember Takayama was an invader).
Chono has the bloody minded guts to pull himself back up and then manages to apply the STF. Would a combination of Chono's signature submission hold and a barrage of Kenka Kicks be enough to wear the Blond haired monster down or would Takayama be able to land one more brutal knee strike or an Everest German to claim victory.
A match that was good in parts, they told a solid story here with Chono putting in a gutsy effort against the invading monster heel. Chono effectively turned back to being a babyface during this tournament and having him fight from underneath against the monsterous Takayama would have helped to complete the turn.
Chono however by this point in his career was becoming more phyiscally limited and had pretty much turned into a two move wrestler (STF/Kenka Kick), whilst Takayama isn't exactly what you would call varied in his offence either (man of a thousand knee strikes), that being said it wasn't the work down the final stretch that was the problem, and every Kenka Kick or Knee Strike felt meaningful and positive proof that a wrestler doesn't need an encyclopedia's worth of wrestling moves to create an exciting match. Where the match does lose marks, as is so often the case is with a relatively aimless opening portion. Once again this was what could have been a excellent 10-15 minute war, stretched out at least 5 minutes longer than it really needed to be.
October 14th 2002: NJPW The Spiral (Tokyo Dome)
Manabu Nakanishi vs Bob Sapp
Manabu Nakanishi: Nakanishi was unsuccesful in two shots for the IWGP Tag Team Championship, firstly with Nagata and then with Osamu Nishimura. Before competing in the G-1 Climax where he was defeated by Nishimura in a tie-breaker match.
Bob Sapp: Sapp's first foray into pro-sports was a rather undistinguished NFL career that saw him play just one game in two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings and serve a suspension for steroid abuse.
He then switched to pro-wrestling in 2001, starting out with NWA Wildside before being spotted by WCW who signed him to a developmental contract but his pro-wrestling would be put on hold when WWF bought out WCW and he was of many deemed to be surplus to requirements.
In 2002 he would switch to MMA and Kickboxing, competing for Pride FC and K-1 respectively, with his wild fighting style and persona, proving popular with the Japanese fans. With Inoki constantly wanting to blur the lines between the world's of MMA and Pro Wrestling, he of course saw a potential headlining star in this pop culture overnight sensation.
The Match: This was hardly a wrestling clinic but it did not need to be. As much of a punchline Bob Sapp seems to be these days for the failings of the Inokiism era, it's easy to see with this match alone why he was a big star in Japan at the time in the world of MMA and on his debut here set to be one in pro-wrestling.
From the huge powerbomb that almost earned Sapp immediate victory, to the sight of a clutch of referees trying to pull Sapp off Nakanishi, the Beast was presented as an absolute, well erm Beast here. Nakanishi meanwhile was not made to look weak either, getting in some significant hope spots such as managing to lift Sapp up into his signifcant backbreaker rack.
If I was going to level a criticism at the match, it's that the finish itself is somewhat weak. Whilst it does the job of protecting both men, it does end up being rather anticlimatic.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Yuji Nagata vs Kazuyuki Fujita
Yuji Nagata: After winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in April, Nagata would make successful title defences against Yoshihiro Takayama, Kensuke Sasaki and Bas Rutten.
Kazuyuki Fujita: Fujita would return from the injury that forced him to vacate the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the beginning of the year in July, after squashing Masahito Kakihara, he would enter a tournament for the revived NWF Heavyweight title but came up short against Yoshihiro Takayama.
The Match: It takes until the very end to come alive, by the end of this title match, thanks to a hot closing stretch you had a match that could at least be called half decent.
That closing stretch sees Fujita unleash a vicious barrage of strikes onto Nagata in the corner, so much so that he has to be pulled off. Thinking he has the match won and that Nagata isn't going to be answer a ten count, Fujita starts gloating but Nagata pulls himself back up and then stuns a somewhat unprepared Fujita with a flurry of strikes of his own before sending the part-timer to backdrop suplex city.
I just loved the whole way Fujita's cockiness lit this raging fire under Nagata at the very end of the match. But it can't be ignored that a large chunk of the match, was the very definition of 'meh'. The biggest problem is that there didn't seem to be any real narrative to the match until the very end and the fact it didn't quite seem sure as to what it wanted to be- a more tradtional style wrestling match or more of a worked shoot style contest. There's elements of both throughout but nothing seems to stick and there's absolutely no flow until the final two minutes where it all manages to click in place.