Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only wrestling review blog that brings everyone together uncomfortably close, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, and we really, truly mean it this time. See, a few months ago there was this series of disasters in Japan. You may have heard of it, it was kind of a big deal. Nuclear power plants melted down, whole stretches of the nation flooded and earthquakes shook up everything in between as if the apocalypse was just doing some warm up stretching off the coast of Japan. After the storm had cleared, the Japanese people were left with the daunting task of resuming life as usual with spirits as low as could possibly be. So wrestling answered the call. All Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling NOAH and New Japan Pro Wrestling joined together for the first time in a generation to do one supershow under one roof to raise money for the charity organizations that were scrambling to put their nation back together. For one night, wrestlers laced up their boots, walked out in front of thousands of eager fans, and brought a little sunshine into the hearts of people who needed it. It’s a proud moment in wrestling history, and that show is the very one we are reviewing for you here today.
Now such a special occasion couldn’t be handled by just myself, nor by just one co reviewer. For this All Together review, we brought together all 4 of our puro reviewers to converge on this show and give it the attention it deserves. We have Defrost, the scholarly curmudgeon, DDT, the enthusiastic historian, Vice, the incredulous chronicler, and of course, yours truly. We’ll join our power rings together and go all Captain Planet on this fucker.
Defrost: On August 26, 1978 Tokyo Sports, a sports newspaper in Japan, brought together the three major promotions in Japan, New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and International Pro Wrestling for a blow out show in Budokan Hall. The main event, brought about by political pressures, saw Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba team up against their respective rivals Abdullah the Butcher and Tiger Jeet Singh. Following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan it was announced that Tokyo Sports would again bring the three major promotions of Japan together, now New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling NOAH, to have a blow out show in Budokan Hall that would take place almost 23 years to the day as the first one.
Cewsh: And DDT, you had something you wanted to say?
DDT: This might be one of the most important shows ever, as it is so unique. Sure, there have been cross-overs, invasions, invites and roster jumping, but this is one of the few times, if not the first time, that three promotions came together and jointly constructed, booked, and promoted a card. The ever awesome Budokan Hall was chosen as the location, and we have a sell-out crowd on our hands here tonight. I doubt that we’ll have any barn-burners tonight, but this card will be good ole’ fashioned wrestling fun, and I can’t wait.
So what are we waiting for, amigos? Let’s do a mother-fuck…
Cewsh: HEY, HEY, HEY, settle down there, junior. Nobody steals my catchphrase twice in the same month. Now step back and let the master work his magic. Ahem, Mi mi mi mi miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Alright, let’s do this.
So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!
Cewsh: We begin what may be the most significant wrestling show of the decade, by showing the usual videos hyping the event and showing the companies united, and that’s all well and good and respectful and such. But then my favorite wrestler in the world, Naomichi Marufuji, comes wandering down to the ring and really this show may as well have baked me a cake for how pleased I am at this development.
Now Marufuji is currently out injured, which is why he isn’t wrestling here, but is instead here in his capacity as the Vice President of Pro Wrestling NOAH, to be the MC of the show to kick it off. He calls out the three champions of NJPW, NOAH and AJPW (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Go Shiozaki and SUWAMA respectively) and they each speak to the crowd about what it means for them to be here and represent their promotion while I try not to hyperventilate about having Tanahashi and Marufuji in the same ring at the same time. Then they thank everyone and head to the back, the first part of their mammoth workload tonight over, and signal the beginning of one fuckuva night.
Defrost: This match pits new school junior heavyweights against their elders from a generation back. Tiger Mask IV, Hayashi, and Marvin started in the 1990s, Kondo in 2001, and their young opponents from the new millennium. Bushi, Yamato, Hayashi, and Kondo represent All Japan Pro Wrestling, Ishimori and Marvin represent Pro Wrestling NOAH, Tiger Mask IV represents New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Ibushi represents DDT Pro Wrestling but at the time held a New Japan title the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship.
Vice: Within 5 seconds of this show starting, it already feels like a massive, tremendous deal to not only wrestling, but in general. Like with Wrestlemania, and how that very first shot of the crowd and arena/stadium come into view with the sets, the pyro, and all that, you just know you’re in for an epic night. The great thing about this was the fact that all of this was accomplished by just having 3 guys standing there. One of which I don’t think I’ve even ever seen before. I also love how they show off the entire card at the beginning of the show. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it really is.
The first match is full of high flyers and people that have grown up with the disbelief in this thing called “gravity”, going throughout life wondering why everyone else walks around like they weigh a lot. Because that’s not nearly as fun as being able to fly.
So this is just all kinds of craziness with everyone all over the place, wrestling faster than the speed of sound. Yeah it was very spotty and sometimes even a little confusing, but it was fun as hell to watch. One of the fun things about me and watching people I haven’t seen before (though I’ve seen most of these), is that I never really know exactly which moves are finishers. And since a lot of the non-finisher power moves in Japan are much nastier than a lot of the finishers in America, I’m always on my toes thinking “ok, I can see his spine coming out of his shin.. this HAS to be it!”, making me that more excited when the guy kicks out.
This was a good way to kick off the show.
Cewsh: In case we haven’t gushed about the man enough, Kota Ibushi is the kind of talent you find once in a…well actually just once generally. He’s incredibly fluid in the ring, innovative and high flying, good looking and charismatic, and he is rocketing up the ladder to sit himself atop his generation of Jr. Heavyweights, which is nothing at all to sneeze at. What may very well be to sneeze at, however, is pretty much everyone else in this match at this point in their career, so its pretty much the Ibushi show.
Proving me right, Ibushi is pretty much responsible for just about every memorable moment in the this match, from his spectacular moves to his crazy stiff showdown with Kondo which its truly impressive either man walked out of with intact bones. The rest was flashy, fun and forgettable. Just the way an opening match ought to be.
76 out of 100.
DDT: Here you have team Underdogs captained by Indy Superstar Kota Ibushi vs. Team Established, comprised of four juniors who have at one time or another been an ace or cornerstone of their company’s junior division. That said, Ibushi is the NJPW Jr. Champ, and acts like it, pissing off the established crew to no end, taking charge of his boys. Started hot, ended hot, 10 minutes isn’t long enough for a middle to drag; my only complaint about the match was that the only ones who seemed to shine were Ibushi, BUSHI, and Hayashi, and Marvin, who was especially on point tonight. Still, this was in many ways the perfect opener.
Three Pretty Dives Out Of Five.
Defrost: This was a great fast paced Jr Heavyweight opening match. It was more of a showcase of how awesome everyone other that Tiger Mask is. The only overarching gimmick going on in this was between Kota Ibushi and Shuji Kondo. Very heated exchanges playing off their El Dorado history I guess. El Dorado, in simplest terms, is an tiny indy that’s an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of Toryumon. So obviously all 17,000 people in Budokan Hall on this night should be expected to know all about it. The other interesting note is that the finish was NOAH on NOAH. With the three promotions coming together there are some very sticky political machinations that have to go on so the finishes are something to take particular note of. All that aside this was a perfect fast paced opening match on a show that is supposed to be fun and upbeat.
Defrost: Obviously the title of the match gives away the premise. Yone being in it says a lot about NOAH since a guy who debuted 16 years ago is not exactly fighting for the future. Soya and Sanada are from All Japan and at the time of the show were the All Asia Tag Team Champions. Speaking of Tag Team Champions Naito and Yujiro are the former IWGP Tag Champs and were in their break up feud. Last Naito was seen was in the Final of the G1 main eventing in front of 11,500 fans in Sumo Hall.
DDT: If the previous match featured the hopefuls of the junior division, then this featured the hopefuls of the heavyweight division. As a match it wasn’t too much worse than the opener, but for a match featuring a suplex machine in Yujiro, a beefy powerhouse in Soya, a man with brief flashes of brilliance in Yone, a Lou Thez-style technician in Seiya, and the high-flying star Naito, the only one who seems to be in this to prove a point was Taniguchi. He came here to impress, and whether it was his efforts or everyone else’s lack of, he did it. Note that no one was actively bad, just that Taniguchi felt like the only one trying to break out.
Two And One Half German Suplexes Out Of Five.
Cewsh: I sincerely hope that the people represented here aren’t actually seen as the future of these companies in the near future, because aside from Naito they look like the most generic bunch of goofs they could have possibly picked out of a dojo. Aside from Yone, of course, who looks like their grandfather. Either the definition of “up and coming star” means something different in Japan (it doesn’t), or that guy lied about his age on the application.
As for the match itself, well they wrestle pretty much the way that they look, generic. Naito causes a lot of excitement, and the crowd is clearly interested in everything he does, and Takahashi is clearly several step ahead of his compatriots when it comes to being a convincing heel, so maybe it just should have been a singles match between the two of them. They certainly do represent the only future I see in any of this lot.
64 out of 100.
Vice: This didn’t really do much for me. I didn’t think it was terrible, but nothing really excited me. Very run of the mill, ending with a pretty standard moonsault. So, I’m a bit let down coming off the previous match, but it’s whatever. I’ve seen a lot worse.
Defrost: Wasn’t feeling this match. Honestly of these guys the only one I really seeing as having potential as a main eventer anyone actually cares about is Naito. He has been put in several high profile spots, and other than that time Jeff Hardy made him look bad, he has come through and the crowds are with him. Sadly Naito was not in enough to save this. Keeping up with the finish watch All Japan’s Seiya Sanada pinned New Japan’s Yujiro Takahashi.
Defrost: Yeah, these are random teams and I have no idea what Over the Border is supposed to mean.
Cewsh: I guess Hawaii is over a border. Though not enough of them to keep the dreaded Taiyo Kea menace out, clearly.
Look, I really like Goto and Makabe. They’re great brawlers, top stars in New Japan and do their best here, and even Saito carries his own (considerable) weight. But COME ON. What kind of unjust god would make me review two Taiyo Kea matches in one month? The man is a living monument to the kind of success you can realize by sucking worse than anyone has ever sucked before and only dealing with people too blind to see it.
Taiyo Kea didn’t just drag this match down. He also drags down Japanese wrestling, the entire proud lineage of Hawaii and he’s responsible for at least three Nickelback songs per album. Oh yeah. YEAH.
73 out of 100.
Defrost: I know how horrible this is going to sound with Misawa dead and Kobashi, Akiyama, Kawada et all physical wrecks, but I miss the days they’d tease a powerbomb off the apron and then actually do it. This match is a lot better when Goto is in there as opposed to Kea. Makabe, Goto, and Saito have come up in previous Cewsh Reviews. As for Kea, he is Hawaiian. He stayed in All Japan after the NOAH split. He won the IWGP Tag and AJPW Tag titles with Keiji Mutoh. His most high profile matches were semi main eventing the last All Japan Tokyo Dome Show against Mutoh and semi main eventing the 1/4/07 New Japan Tokyo Dome Show against Hiroshi Tanahashi. He is also the worst Triple Crown Champion ever. Although I will say I enjoyed the hell out of it when Makabe and Saito double teamed Kea at the finish. Good match here. Finish watch continues as New Japan’s Togi Makabe pinned All Japan’s Taiyo Kea. So NJPW and AJPW have wins on each other and NOAH has a win on itself.
DDT: Makabe is a man with passable skills and buckets of charisma; Saito is a hard-hitter with good skills but not much charisma or ability to carry interest in a match. Goto is the combination of the best of both, and is perhaps better than either. Kea is the combination of the worst of both, and perhaps worse than either. Goto is great at hot runs and so-so to really bad at playing face in peril. So of course they build the match around Goto making a hot tag to Kea to run through his horrible offense, but as we have seen previously, asking Kea to even sell would probably be asking too much. Again, not bad, but there was not much clicking, and it seems that, for a strike-filled match, the strikes were kind of weak.
Two Half-hearted Elbows Out Of Five.
Vice: I can’t ever look at Saito and not think about Misawa. I don’t really blame the guy for Misawa’s death though, since he basically had terrible luck in the whole game of hot potato that was going on in Japan, but it’s still weird seeing him wrestle. And you know that he’s haunted by what happened.
Kea is shit. Goto is fucking great. More people need to be like him.
I thought this match was better than the last one, but it still didn’t really hook me in any way. Makabe flipping the bird and yelling FUCK YOU was pretty alright though. Plus GOTO. I don’t really have a lot else to say about this match.
Defrost: KENTA, Kanemaru, and Genba are in a heel stable called No Mercy that never gets booed because the crowd likes KENTA too much. Kanemoto and Minoru were the top New Japan Junior tag team early in the 2000s. Minoru has since moved to All Japan. This is their first time teaming in many a moon. The other team consists of Apollo 55 the then IWGP Jr Tag Champs, KAI the then All Japan Jr Champ, Kotaro Suzuki of NOAH the then GHC Jr Champ, and Nakajima of Kensuke Office which is affiliated with NOAH. They are the babyfaces here.
KAI looks petrified on his way to the ring. Need to point out here that Genba is a comedy heel. That plays a role in this particular encounter. Amazing match with some great matchups. KENTA vs Suzuki and KENTA vs Nakajima is always the goods. Devitt vs Minoru is amazing. A battle of former IWGP Jr Tag Champs there. Kanemoto is amazing against everyone. Taguchi getting stuck in the corner being kicked by Koji and KENTA was awesome. Taguchi has been awesome in general the past few months. KENTA and Koji Kanemoto kicking ass together is the greatest thing ever in the history of ever. Great comeback by the babyfaces. Goofy Genba loses. KAI of All Japan pinned him giving All Japan a win on NOAH if we are keeping track of finishes. Loved this match. Best match so far. Go out of your way to see it.
Vice: Aaaand now we’re back to goodness. Throw in some big names like Devitt and KENTA, and it is expected to be a treat. What we’re given is a really fun, high energy match like the opener of this show. But this one has a bit more story and isn’t quite as high flying. Everything is just worked in and blended a bit more smoothly. Has more flow.
Devitt impresses as always.
Also I have to say that I really miss KENTA rocking the brown and yellow attire. HE JUST ISN’T THE SAME ANYMORE, DAMMIT.
Loved this shit.
DDT: This is one of those matches that are a good idea on paper, but in execution there are just too many guys with too many conflicting, and in some cases similar, personalities. Each was focused on doing their own thing and building their own feuds rather than focusing on the task at hand. Everyone tried to stand out, so really only Genba stood out, but that had more to do with the fact that he was so out of place on his team and even in the match itself that you couldn’t help but notice him. Still, there was too much sheer talent for this match to be bad (Prince Devitt was there, too), and there were some good exchanges, but this had potential to be so much more than “good”. All you can say is “Genba so silly” and “Kanemoto’s the man.”
Three Hard Kicks to the Skull Out Of Five.
Defrost: Minoru Suzuki, Sano, Funaki, and Liger all graduated from New Japan’s Dojo at roughly the same time. Hence the reunion tag. Suzuki, Sano, and Funaki went on to shoot style or just straight shoot wrestling and Liger stuck around to become the greatest Junior Heavyweight of all time. Well Liger was in a shoot that one time against Minoru Suzuki, but the less said there the better. Suzuki currently works in New Japan and Taichi is in his stable. I have no idea how Aoki got hooked up with them. Then again I never understood the Minoru Suzuki/Naomichi Marufuji tag team and they were the tag team champions.
DDT: The reunion of Team Liger, as all three graduated from the New Japan Dojo at roughly the same time. Suzuki is the uber heel, and Taichi is his little dick companion. Aoki…is with them because he likes armbars, I guess, but I didn’t care as Aoki was awesome. So you can imagine my disappointment when he really didn’t do much in the match itself. Now, there was the trade-off that Takuma Sano didn’t do much either, as he has devolved into this fat mess that can only do a spinning kick to the gut, but still, I wanted my Aoki head-butts, damnit! A-hem, compensating for this lack of Aoki was the two founders of Pancrase, Funaki and Suzuki, hating on each other like only they can. Then for a little extra slice of awesome, Liger kicked it into high gear with his being amazing, while Taichi just heel-ed it up like nobody’s business, and it was awesome.
All in all, a very good match; could have used less gut kicks and more head-butts though.
Three Roundhouses To The Gut Out Of Five.
Cewsh: Jushin Liger is better than you at everything. Let’s just go ahead and get that out of the way right off the top.
However, while I thought this would be yet another match where I just natter on about Jushin Liger and ignore his dreadfully dull teammates, I instead have to mention their opponents, two of whom are heels on a completely different level from anyone on this show (aside from Shinsuke Nakamura, who we’ll see later). First is Minoru Suzuki, who was a legit MMA fighting badass and knew it implicitly, using this knowledge to effectively brand himself as the single smarmiest man who ever lived. His entire character is basically built along the lines of what would happen if Terrell Owens were an impressively dangerous MMA fighter. After years of hating him for it, he’s basically become beloved for his antics, and is in full on Suzuki Mania mode here tonight, just being an atrocious jerk to anything with a pulse. But hey, we expect Suzuki to be on his game when it comes to tomfoolery. What I most assuredly was not expecting is for Liger, Suzuki and everyone else to have the carpet ripped right out from under them by young master Taichi, whose every action was devoted fully to pissing off the entire other team. From openly mocking them and taunting them, to the little touches like giving an extra push to a frog splash from his teammate on the way down, and making sure to kick Liger in the head after breaking up a pin just one EXTRA time for fun, he was the very spirit of mischief here, and it was practically a star making performance in my eyes.
I’ll keep an eye on that gentleman in the future. But for tonight, I’ll just leave you with this.
78 out of 100.
Defrost: Liger is wearing a mask that is half his famous mask and half his old school just starting the gimmick mask. Kooky. Haha Suzuki just threw Liger’s chest plate/cape thing into the crowd. Match starts off with Suzuki and Funaki who founded Pancrase together. Pancrase matches were shoots. And Suzuki immediately tag Taichi. Awesome. Taichi has really found his niche this year as an annoying little prick heel. So the match consisted of Suzuki, Taichi, and Aoki being evil heels which is odd given Aoki is a babyface feuding with the heels No Mercy who get cheered in NOAH. Liger gets worked over as they try to rip the mask off so everyone can see his face that everyone has already seen. Taichi makes the mistake of ripping his pants off which is the universal sign for the hot tag. At the end of a decent little match All Japan picks up its second straight fall on NOAH when Aoki taps to Funaki. So far NOAH can only beat themselves.
Vice: I could talk about many parts of this match, but really, all I want to say is that Jushin Liger is not human. How he’s still wrestling, and how he is still better than the majority of wrestlers out there, is completely beyond the limits of God, the universe and yes, even science. Every born child should be injected with Liger DNA upon birth.
Though we’d also have to inject DNA from Brock Lesnar, as to avoid everyone on the planet having the body of an Ewok.
Defrost: The Destroyer is a very old man. He wrestled Rikidozan in 1963 in a match that was the most watched TV show in Japanese history. He comes out and cuts a promo to start the match for the Destroyer Cup named after him obviously.
DDT: This was a battle royal to honor Destroyer. If you don’t know who Destroyer is, you are a very bad person, and should seek to rectify this mistake immediately. Anyway, battle royals in Japan are giant, comedic messes by design, so don’t go into this expecting to do much besides chuckle. The last joke was the winner, as only two people were over to any extent in this match and neither one was victorious.
Cewsh: The last 5 minutes of this match is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen in wrestling. It’s down to 4 heels and a rookie. The heels all pretend to work together while constantly fucking each other over again and again, alliances springing up and being betrayed every second, and whenever anyone went for a pin the entire group all piled on to make sure he was eliminated. Then, finally, the rookie outsmarts all the veterans, cheats to win and is given respect by some of the biggest bastards wrestling has ever seen for his skills. Just brilliant.
This was short, and the front part was really, really pointless. But the ending was so classic that I can’t help but feel fondly about the match as a whole. Its was just a fun intermission match. Nothing wrong with that.
75 out of 100.
Defrost: I have never seen a battle royal where so many guys just hang out in a corner doing nothing before. This is the worst battle royal I have ever seen. It is so bad I am laughing. What a wacky fucking match.
Vice: I thought this was a fun battle royal.
Cewsh: Post match, the Destroyer manages to get himself in the ring to present Shiga with the Destroyer Cup and then, in a genuinely touching moment, gives the kid a Destroyer mask of his very own to wear as they take pictures together. I mean seriously, considering his respect and notoriety in Japan, this is a huge goddamn rub for Shiga right here. I have no idea what the scrawny, tall dude will do with it, but he’s got himself a headstart on every other wrestler of his generation. Whew.
Defrost: Akebono, Hama, Yoshie, and Morishima are teaming because they are all giant fat men. Morishima is the skinniest man on his team. Inoue replaced Satoshi Kojima because Kojima broke his orbital bone in a match with Tenzan on the final night of the G1. Nagata, Tenzan, and Nishimura are another group of guys coming out of the New Japan dojo at the same time.
DDT: This match was billed as the reunion of TenKoji, the team of Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. But Kojima was hurt, and replaced with the charisma void that is Wataru Inoue. Nishimura is, like Sanada earlier, a Lou Thez-style catch wrestler (in fact, he was Sanada’s trainer); Tenzan and Nagata are both long-time vets and huge stars in New Japan who are looking for that last run. They’re opponents are Morishima and the Lard Warriors. Morishima is the smallest man on your team you know you have some serious ham and beef in that ring. Anyway, I loved this match, because it has Hama. He clearly has so much fun in professional wrestling that only a soulless bastard could hate him. To be completely honest, if you didn’t know the histories of any of these men and not the actively great effort by Nishimura, you would swear that all the talent was on Team Fat in this match, as they were the ones doing everything to make this match fun, while their opponents went through the motions. God bless, Hama, Yoshie, Morishima, and yes, even you Akebono.
Two Quarter Pound Cheeseburgers Out Of Five.
Cewsh: Good lord these are some fat motherfuckers right here.
With a combined weight of something in between 1,000 pounds and infinity, the big half of this team are a collection of humanity unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Up against them are the legendary Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Yuji Nagata, the ULTRA legend Osamu Nishimura and Nagata’s flunky Wataru Inoue. To say that they have little chance of winning this match regardless of their legend status is altogether correct, though its important to note that a decade this match would never have taken place, as the fans would never have accepted the smaller team as a threat against such odds. That reflects a changing attitude throughout Japanese wrestling towards the more athletic warriors, and away from the sumo wrestler archetypes of old. But again, with that said, the husky hombres take this one handily because come on, how are you supposed to hurt a guy like Hama?
His upper body consists entirely of fat so thick it could double as a bean bag chair.
I mean that can’t be allowable in the rule book, can it?
72 out of 100.
Vice: This was a tremendous freak show match, and I loved the concept of it. I didn’t necessarily have a ton of fun watching it, but the amount of fat on a single team was absolutely staggering. It was absurd. Absolutely absurd. Watching them, I felt so good about myself. I felt healthy. I felt skinny. And if you know me, I’m neither of those things. It was great.
Also YUJI NAGATA. Love him.
Also NOAH gets the pin over a member of the Diet. So NOAH gets wins over other NOAH wrestlers and government officials.
Defrost: Takao Omori and Yoshiro Takayama comprise No Fear. No Fear was one of the top tag teams of All Japan right before the split. They held both the AJPW World Tag Team and All Asia Tag Team Titles at the same time and were feuding with Burning(Kenta Kobashi/Jun Akiyama) and the Untouchables(Mitsuharu Misawa/Yoshinari Ogawa). Takayama was the last pre NOAH split Triple Crown Challenger and Omori made it to the final of the last pre NOAH split Champion’s Carnival. Both were beaten by Kenta Kobashi. They went to NOAH and were the third ever GHC Tag Team Champions. They broke up when Omori left NOAH and this is their first time tagging in a long long time. Omori went on to have success in a tag team with Manabu Nakanishi winning the IWGP Tag Titles and the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team titles together. Meanwhile Takayama had huge singles success following his famous fight with Don Frye in Pride becoming one of only two men to hold the IWGP Heavyweight Title, Triple Crown, and GHC Heavyweight Title. The other is one of his opponents Kensuke Sasaki. It should also be mention that after an incredibly stiff match with Sasaki that Takayama suffered a stroke.
Vice: Despite enjoying 3/4 of the people in this match, I really didn’t have that fun of a time with it for some reason. In fact, I can’t even remember much about it. And I couldn’t remember much about it the second it was over.
Instead, you should watch Sasaki’s insanely epic chop battle with Kobashi. That is a better use of 5 minutes. Or check out Takayama’s MMA fight with Don Frye, which is one of the craziest MMA fights you will ever watch. Period.
Cewsh: This match was stiff.
No really, try to, for reference, think of the hardest you’ve ever hit anything in your life, be it a heavy bag, a baseball or a telemarketer. Just think back and consider that for a moment. Now consider that these four men all set about doing that to each other TO TRANSITION FROM MOVE TO MOVE, and you’ll get some semblance of an idea of just how completely out of their minds these assholes are. Unfortunately, this style doesn’t generally lead well to ready exciting match beginnings and middles because when a match is set up this way, its all about the finish and the total amount of damage incurred throughout the match. What that leaves us with is 10 dull minutes, and then a 5 minute roller coaster ride of awesome to close it out. I never know what to make of a match that is this schizophrenic, really, but the impression it left me with was distinctly positive as these guys went nuts of each to close out their night, in a most satisfactory fashion.
This is the rare puro show where you only get one or two of these sorts of matches, so on this card it felt like a breath of hard hitting fresh air.
78 out of 100.
DDT: This match was awesome, hard-hitting, heavyweight fun, and the person who made it so was the one who had achieved the least in their career. That’s not to say that our three known quantities weren’t their usual dependable and capable selves, but Omori was so actively good in this I’m tempted to get behind him for a main event run. Anyway, while not a world-beating classic, this was very good, and given the names you should know what to expect: stiff strikes and huge bombs.
Four Axe-Bombers Out Of Five.
Defrost: This match ran hot and cold. There were some real down spots and there was some real fun stuff. Last five minutes of the match were great. Most of the stuff leading up minus a few No Fear tandem spots were nothing to right home about. Kensuke of Kensuke Office which is affiliated with NOAH got the pin on Omori. Omori who is basically out of wrestling and owns a country inn. So to recap NOAH can beat other NOAH wrestlers, government officials, and a guy who runs a bed and breakfast.
Defrost: Kobashi and Mutoh are two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. They are living legends and mega draws beloved for years. In earlier reviews I have sung the praises of both of these men. At this point in time both are physical disasters. Neither man has anything resembling a knee anymore. Kobashi also is missing a kidney, has shot elbows, and I’m pretty certain he’s punch drunk. They are up against stereotypical asshole heel Yano and crazy wild man heel Iizuka in this matchup.
Cewsh: This is utter fan service. And as fan service, it is beyond serviceable.
If you’ve never seen a Japanese wrestling show before, or at least haven’t seen enough to really know who the stars are and how the fans feel about them, this match may not carry the same special qualities that it did when we were watching it, but the emotion and significance of it happening at all may be lost. But all you really need to understand here is that Kenta Kobashi is beloved in Japan like perhaps no wrestler in the modern era has ever been loved. From the day he walked into wrestling he was booked masterfully as the ultimate hero who would never stop fighting and never surrender no matter how close to death you got him. After years of incredible performances, he went ahead and beat cancer just because, and now when he walks into a building you can FEEL it. To put it in context, Keiji Mutoh is one of the biggest stars in Japanese wrestling history, is beloved by fans worldwide and is as charismatic as it is possible to be without springing a leak. Yet his pop compares to Kobashi’s about as well as Billy Gunn’s does to Hulk Hogan. Kobashi is simply special, and the one time partnership between him and Mutoh is a dream match treat the likes of which many fans never thought they’d get to see.
Now, if that’s ALL this match was, then it would still be loads of fun. And, after all, as Frosty says, they’re both about crippled, and the two guys their facing and so destined to job here that they could have petitioned Al Snow for entry into the J.O.B. Squad. But this becomes so much more than a simple appearance when the dastardly heels start cheating in every conceivable way ever devised by man, raising the stakes hugely by making the fans go nuts in defense of their heroes. Yano does a fine job as a cocky prick, but Iizuka puts on such a performance as an incredibly evil, soulless bastard that he actually pulls attention away from the stars to himself, without ever deviating from his 3 move moveset (Those moves are, in order: Kick, choke, cheat in any way possible).
Ultimately, Mutobashi make the dramatic comeback and triumphantly both deliver their physics defying moonsault to the delight of all in attendance, giving everyone their happy ending, on top of a match that was incredibly better than it had any right to be. The old dogs have a few tricks left in them, it seems. May they never run out.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Defrost: This is Kobashi’s third match back since his latest round of surgeries. In everyone of them there is this guy in the crowd with the most annoying voice screaming his name over and over again and I want to fly to Japan just to shut the guy up. I think they utilized Yano and Iizuka’s gimmicks well to get past the limitations of mainly Kobashi. Kobashi plays the babyface in peril most of the match getting low blowed, and illegally choked behind the refs back, or thrown into the exposed turnbuckles. Meanwhile Mutoh keeps trying to save him by grabbing a weapon and running in which just distracts the referee. Then there is the double moonsault finish. It is amazing considering these guys conditions. Going into the show I had read a joke about Kobashi’s legs flying off and going into the 4th row if he tried to do a moonsault. But damned if he didn’t do it. Plus NOAH finally got a pin over a wrestler in a different company. NOAH get the pin over New Japan.
DDT: Look elsewhere for objectivity, because you won’t find it here. I refuse to judge this as anything other than two of the most beloved wrestlers of all time, Mutoh and Kobashi, facing two dastardly heels and giving them their comeuppance. Sure, their opponents are midcarders, only one of whom has a possible shot at making it big and even then it is a small window. Sure, the ending was never in any doubt. Sure, both men have lost significant steps to the point of where you can’t really say “especially Mutoh” or vice-a-versa and it showed. But you know what? Fuck that, I got to see back-to-back moonsaults and it was awesome.
Ten-Million Moonsaults Out Of Five.
Vice: If an asteroid is to ever threaten this planet, the proper course of action to save mankind is to send Kobashi into space to chop it to pieces.
Defrost: A few stories here. This is the first time the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Triple Crown Champion, and GHC Champion have ever teamed up. Hell first time that all three are on the same show to my knowledge. They are up against generation rivals. Tanahashi and Nakamura have wrestled many many times in the main event. They are billed as eternal rivals by New Japan. Go Shiozaki and Takashi Sugiura have traded the GHC Title back and forth. SUWAMA and Kenso nee Kenzo Suzuki had a WMOTYC that would probably win if Jeff Hardy didn’t exist. Kenso is here to drop the fall to be honest. They tried to push the fact that back in 2002 he was tagging with Tanahashi. Then WWE signed him. That’s right WWE signed Kenzo Suzuki instead of Hiroshi Tanahashi.
DDT: This is the champions of Japan’s Big Three taking on their promotions greatest challengers. You have Tanahashi squaring off against his generational rival Nakamura, you have Shiozaki taking on the one person who doesn’t think that he should be NOAH’s golden boy, Sugiura, and you have SUWAMA, the last graduate of All Japan’s dojo before the roster split, taking on…the man who got him laughed at in this very building.
I apologize for calling Genba out of place; he’s at least in a stable with Kanemaru and KENTA. But fucking KENSO?! Not only is he NOT a main eventer (despite All Japan’s desperate attempts to make him so) but he is so terrible, so awful, that his one main event run had people laughing at his title match and embarrassed the champion so much that he promised to do better.
Ugh, anyway, I was excited for this match because of the SUWAMA/Sugiura and SUWAMA/Nakamura match-ups, and while those were all too brief, I got the enjoyment I wanted out of them. The champions jelled really well, but KENSO was so out of place and so annoying that he was actively hurting the match until I realized towards the end that was the point, and sure enough it factored into the match. All-in-all, a fun little romp that probably could have been epic had KENSO not been here, but that’s not what this match was about.
Three And One Half High Fly Flows Out Of Five.
Cewsh: There is truly nothing not to like here. From the constant references back to previous feuds and matches (Shiozaki/Nakamura, Nakamura/Tanahashi, Tanahashi/KENSO) to the incredible skill of 5 out of 6 of these competitors, to the risky decision to interject some comedy in a main event of this caliber that paid off hugely, this match ran the gamut from serious, to funny and back again. As is their way, Nakamura and Tanahashi completely pilfered the show from everyone else whenever they were in the ring, especially Nakamura who, after years of being a bland emotionless nothing, has fully blossomed into maybe the single coolest and funnest to watch wrestler in the world. The degree to which he does not give a fuck cannot be measured by of our human Fuck Giving measurement devices, and it’s a delight to watch.
Ultimately it is KENSO and his intentionally bad wrestling who decides the match, as he finally antagonizes his teammates so badly that they go right ahead and hit him with the finishing moves, before being ejected so that the champions can all land THEIR finishing moves. Its academic after 5 consecutive finishers, and I think KENSO may be in Japan somewhere trying to pick his teeth up off the floor after all of them.
This was the perfect cap to a fun night, with these guys all turning in great performances, while keeping the tone mostly light and cheerful throughout. The champions showed surprising chemistry working together, and there was enough here to enjoy, even if they stopped short of trying to produce anything particularly epic (which is probably just as well at the end of a 4 hour show).
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval.
Defrost: Kenso is a terrible wrestler. His time in WWE and really to be fair AAA have given him this really funky way of moving around the ring. There were times where you can tell his opponents are for real annoyed with him. His insanely long Triple Crown match against SUWAMA months back comes to mind. Here he even manages to annoy his partners and they are not working him. At one point of the match I thought Nakamura might just run in and shoot on him. Basically what I am saying is that this is not a good match and I place all the blame on Kenso.
Vice: This was a fantastic main event. I loved it, and had a blast watching it. Fantastic way of ending the show.
Post-match stuff was fantastic, too. That’s one of the things I love about these Japanese shows– you end on a masterfully high note, and you don’t remember all the shit that took place earlier in the night until Cewsh sends me an email saying “hey, uh, where’s your review?” and then it all comes back to me.
Cewsh: Now then, since Frosty has been so fastidiously keeping an eye on who is pinning who, let’s get an accurate representation of who the big dog in Japan really is these days. 1 point for your promotion getting the pin, 1 point for it getting the loss. And the winner is…
All Japan: 2
New Japan: 0
So your winner for the most influential company with the most political power is…All Japan? Wait, that can’t be right. If anything their invitation here was strictly ceremonial, not backed up by any kind of drawing or star power whatsoever, and yet somehow here they are, with the only positive score on the board. Crazy, crazy, crazy. Seems like someone at New Japan is being modest.
NOW EVERYBODY GET YOUR DANCE ON!
If you watched that video and didn’t come to the conclusion that Hiroshi Tanahashi is the greatest man to ever live then I’m afraid there’s no helping you.
Cewsh: It’s been a few months now since the disasters in Japan. Those months have removed some of the horror and sadness from the events as we’re able to live each day without seeing their effects on the world as we knew it. For that we are incredibly fortunate. But for the Japanese people who lived through the utter devastation of those harrowing days, getting back to a semblance of the lives they lived before has proven to be a difficult and emotional process. When things like that happen, it’s the congregate spirit of the people of the nation that takes perhaps the greatest hit of all, as farmers try to recover spoiled harvests, families try to adapt to homelessness and people struggle to adapt to the new realities of life. So it is in such times that things that we may take for granted can make the most difference, and in this case professional wrestling gave some peace and some hope where it had previously been hard to come by.
The quality of this show and its matches was good, and I’d recommend it, but moreover, I recommend it because of what it represents in the history of this strange sport/hobby/fixation we all share. Wrestling achieved something good here and that is more than worth any price of admission.
Defrost: All in all this was very good for what it was which was an All Star show. Not designed to be a super heated hate filled affair between rival organizations, but it still produced a great match, a very good match, and a couple of matches that were good or at least interesting with a few clunkers thrown in. It is not a stretch to call this the biggest non WWE wrestling show of the year. Just for that the show is of importance, but the quality of it means that if you are at all interested in outside WWE wrestling you should check it out.
DDT: This was a very good show. There were no MOTYC on this card, but that’s not what the night was about. It was about unity and perseverance, and showing hope for the future. In a country that is notorious for never pushing younger stars, they managed to achieve that brilliantly. Not a bad match on the card to be found, something for everyone, get on it and enjoy.
Vice: Overall this show had its ups and downs. By show’s end, you’ve forgotten most of the downs (and even some of the earlier ups) and overall have a smile on your face, pumped to watch more. Even the clunky stuff wasn’t that bad. Just not exciting.
This was a huge show and it felt like one. Well done, all.
…most of you. Not all of you. Yeah, YOU KNOW WHO.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed this celebration of life, charity and fat guys. Next week we’ll have not one but TWO reviews for you as we cover TNA’s Turning Point 2011 review (sad face) and much more importantly, we review our very first Chikara show, as this Sunday they put on their very first PPV special in their history Chikara High Noon 2011. We’re terribly excited to review this bad boy, and if you’d like to share in the grand event with all of us, please consider buying the show (its wicked cheap, yo) and supporting good independent wrestling. You can find all of the information including the card, the lovely Jessie McKay explaining why should order and the link to order it here:
So keep an eye on the horizon, and in the meantime be sure to keep reading and be good to one another.