40th Anniversary Spectacular
Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only wrestling reviews that challenge your mind, and irritate your pancreas, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we review a show a full 40 years in the making. See, after the resounding success of the All Together dream shows, and with he 40th anniversary of both companies going on, All Japan and New Japan decided to team up again to bring the house down in a major way. So once again we’ll have the best of All Japan going up against the best of our friends in New Japan in all kinds of fancy dream matches of the sort that make fantasy bookers quiver the world over. We’ll have two World title matches, all kinds of matches featuring the best young talent in Japan and some of the greatest legends in wrestling history, and even Lance Hoyt. Tremendous draw that he is. And to cap it all off, we will be visited once again by the golden abed god of wrestling himself, Hiroshi Tanahashi, as he attempts to extend his record as the only wrestler in the history of Cewsh Reviews to get a Seal of Approval on every match we’ve reviewed. Can he continue his incredible streak? Will this show top the feel goodness of All Together? Only one way to find out.
Before we begin, let me tell you that if you want to own this show for your very own after reading this, or simply want to get it to follow along as we guide you through it, then head on over to Rudo Reels, the official sponsor of our international reviews. If you want to get your hands on those near impossible to find Japanese and Mexican shows, you head on over there for genuinely ridiculous deals on both downloads and DVDs and tell them we sent you.
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Defrost: March 6th 1972. The date of the first ever show by New Japan Pro Wrestling headlined by Antonio Inoki in a singles match against Karl Gotch. October 21st 1972. The date of the first ever show by All Japan Pro Wrestling headlined by Giant Baba and Thunder Sugiyama in a 2 out of 3 falls match against Bruno Sammartino and Terry Funk.
40 years later after many ups and downs and new management these two companies still exist. New Japan finds itself in a slow, but steady upswing. All Japan is not in as good a place. As a matter of fact All Japan owner Keiji Muto was the one who came to New Japan suggesting this joint venture after All Japan’s last show in the same building bombed despite running their best possible main event. This show did well at the gate doing the best attendance either company has done in Sumo Hall. At least, outside of the finals of the G1 Climax where New Japan totally sells the building out every year, and has since the Masahiro Chono 25th anniversary show 3 years ago.
Cewsh: We kick things off with a video running back through some of the most significant moments in history of both New Japan and All Japan, leading inexorably to their meeting here, 40 years later. It would be totally impossible to actually show every huge moment in the past 4 decades, but they do a good job of really giving you the sense of the enormous history involved here, and even make it seem like both companies are on the same footing these days (which, yeah, isn’t the case). New Japan tends to absolutely hit the ball out of the park when it comes to videos, and this was no exception. They can condense 40 years of history into a 3 minute video, have it be entirely in Japanese, and still reach you no matter who you are. I don’t know who the hell the people making these are, but they all need gigantic raises.
Cewsh: To start things off, I need to make a few things clear about these participants. Firstly, you see KENSO there? Yeah, that’s none other than Kenso Suzuki, formerly of a WWE gimmick where he was super into white chicks. He has a reputation in Japan for basically being the worst wrestler of all time and in recent times he’s played that up for humorous effect. It’s obviously working because he is outlandishly popular here. Also important to know is that Fuchi is an old guy who comes out to Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins and Captain New Japan is basically an exact parody of Captain America played by a fat guy. Because Japan is awesome.
Up against them are 3 members of New Japan’s CHAOS stable, including Jado and Gedo, who are the bookers of New Japan, and are also it’s most prolific jobbers.
Jado decides to set the tone for this match by opening things up with a series of Flair Chops, followed by loud “WOOs”, only to be smacked in the face 30 times by KENSO and take a Flair Flop. That this was literally the first thing to take place in this match should sort of give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Everybody gets up to various antics, until finally old man Fuchi says “fuck it” and just spends 5 minutes bodyslamming people while the crowd loses its mind. Then KENSO gets bored and starts doing convoluted moves all over the place, like running all the way down the entrance ramp, jumping up on the apron, running all the way across the apron and falling over on some guys, presumably out of exhaustion.
Then, when things can’t get any wackier, Captain New Japan suddenly just starts violently choking Gedo, which the ref is apparently totally cool with because it’s a “nerve hold”. THEY CHEATIN’ But they also winnin’ so the ends and the means, you get the idea.
In all my time watching Japanese wrestling, I’ve seen very few really effective opening matches. In Japan these matches are generally just used like dark matches are in America. A bunch of people who had nothing better to go just go out and fuck around for 10 minutes. That’s not to say it’s bad, in this case it gave me a solid chuckle before this show inevitably gets more serious, but it’s an adjustment for the American philosophy of trying to set the people on fire in the opener. And hell, if you wants the people excited, the last damn thing you want to do is give KENSO a microphone after a wacky match and let him talk for 5 minutes. Sheesh.
68 out of 100
Defrost: A KENSO chant. Well, I knew this one was going to be wacky. KENSO does not know what to make of Captain New Japan. Fuchi is nonplussed. Then the bodyslams. Oh the bodyslams. KENSO for being really terrible is really over. This was wacky harmless fun. Good opener. Hahaha, Fuchi just took right the fuck off at the end of this one. I wouldn’t want to deal with the other two either.
Here comes a KENSO promo. Starting to understand how this show ended up 5 hours long.
Defrost: Shirts vs Skins. Well Masks vs Maskless anyway. By the by Shiryu is Kaz Hayashi under a hood doing his old Michinoku Pro gimmick. This match seems to be setting up a feud between the current IWGP Jr Tag Champs Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV and the former champions Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi).
Cewsh: Considering the fact that this match has much of the greatest Jr. Heavyweight talent on the planet Earth, you might expect it to be a hectic, fast paced spotfest with guys flying all over the place and spending more time in the air than your mother’s legs, (ZING). At least that’s what I was expecting when this match got started. Instead what resulted was some very serious men doing comedy totally straight faced, and a whole lot of me rewinding to watch things again and laughing like a madman. From Devitt and Taguchi abusing dojo boy Takahashi by accident again and again, to the fat green Curry Man (Sushi) repeatedly trolling Taguchi, only to get dragged around by his tiny hat.
Then there was the deal with a whole bunch of guys taking time in the middle of the match to do a little jumping dance together. I mean, good lord this match was both unexpected and delightful.
Now that’s not to say there’s nothing serious or meaningful going on here. Much is made of a potential feud between Apollo 55 (Devitt and Taguchi) and the team of Liger and Tiger Mask, which would be excellent. And a surprising amount of attention and time is paid to singling out Takahashi in this match, meaning that he might be nearly to the point where they’ll let him become something other than the generic black trunk dojo boy. His career will be interesting to watch going forward.
But overall, on a show with this much significance, to start with two comedy matches is both entirely charming and entirely alien as a concept and in execution. I’m confused, i’m happy, it works.
74 out of 100
Defrost: The opening segment with Devitt and Liger was awesome, but then gave way to Hiroshi Yamato running around the ring screaming while Kaz Hayashi stood there in a mask and Marty Jannetty pants. Then things got wacky. Wacky to the point I thought an Okinawa Pro show had broken out. Like two people are going to understand that reference. Not a long match. Fun for what it was. Hiromu Takahashi got abused because he is a black trunks wearing young lion. Nothing epic. No where near the 10 man Jr. match from last year’s All Together.
Defrost: Suzuki-Gun is the stable led by Minoru Suzuki. Takao Omori and Manabu Soya are All Japan Tag Team Champions and their team is known as Get Wild. They dress like Captain Caveman, tiny foreign indy wrestling promotions and 1970s cartoons. What references could possibly be more relevant than that?
Cewsh: Here are my series of disjointed thoughts upon watching this match. I would have worked them into a coherent paragraph, but every time I looked at Lance Archer’s stupid hat, my brain rebelled against me and I found myself in another room playing Skyrim. The mind works in mysterious ways.
– What a team of oddities Suzuki-Gun is.
– Suzuki has a date with Tanhashi a few weeks after this, which will be a review for another time.
– Where the hell did Lance Archer get a career from?
– Suzuki is mad over.
– Why are Omori and his partner wearing bear costumes?
– Poor Goto. He always looks so sad when he’s doing midcard stuff like this. Suzuki looks like he’s on vacation.
– There are two Suzukis. Suzuki1 is a lazy bastard who just fucks about and enjoys getting a paycheck to kick people and get cheered wildly by people who love his lack of shit giving. Suzuki2 is a motivated MMA wrecking machine who carries the “big fight feel” around on his back and legitimacy in his pocket. This…this is Suzuki1.
– This is a big year for Gaijin in New Japan. Anderson, Archer, etc.
– Taichi is an awesomely creepy dickbag heel.
– Ahaha, TAKA and Taichi completely fuck over everyone by being jerks.
– Oddly, being in the ring with Anderson really makes Suzuki come alive. Great exchange.
– Taichi’s version of Hulking up involves taking his pants off. That is inexpressibly lovely.
– Anderson gets the win with an RKO that isn’t particularly impressive.
This was a fine match, and the fans really got invested in a few of the guys, (Goto, Suzuki, and Omori specifically,) and it really continued to put Anderson over big time. It seems truly odd that a 6 foot pasty American without any real distinguishing feature is getting such a mega push in New Japan, but it’s more than a little refreshing in its own way.
72 out of 100
Defrost: Ah Lance Archer Hoyt Vance or whatever and his tramp stamp. God does he suck. If you love you some 1980s southern rasslin from a UHF TV studio somewhere this is your match. Everyone else’s milage may vary. My milage varied even though I tend to like TAICHI’s Larry Zbyszko schtick. Maybe it was Omori’s fault. Or Archer-Hoyt. Did I mention he sucks? This match felt long when it really wasn’t. Never a good sign. Yeah I didn’t like this at all. Just bored by the end.
Defrost: Nagata legit broke Funaki’s face at Wrestle Kindom VI earlier in the year and had recently returned. In the meantime Nagata had been an awesome heel in All Japan feuding with Funaki’s stablemate Kono winning a Cage Death Match in the blow off of that portion of the feud. This would be the first Nagata/Funaki interaction since Wrestle Kingdom VI.
Cewsh: One of those team names up there in the header is the actual stable name of that group. Guess which one is the actual one. Go on, no Wikipedia peeking. Give up?
STACK OF ARMS.
As for this match, and more importantly this feud, there is a fuckton to discuss here. First of all, Yuji Nagata has long been one of New Japan’s shining stars, and was really the only thing that bridged the miserable gap between the Three Muskateers (Mutoh, Chono and Hashimoto) and the New Three Muskateers (Tanahashi, Nakamura, Shibata). Aside from that, he’s also known for his huge, year spanning blood feuds, unlike anyone in major companies really has these days, and he is right smack in the middle of one with Funaki, (and no, it’s not WWE’s Funaki, so stop asking.) Now, Funaki may well be one of the few people in Japanese wrestling capable of beating Nagata as his own game of kicking and submissions, so these two guys are already due for some crazy battles, but things have really stepped up about a hundred levels in the months leading up to this as Nagata has shredded all of Funaki’s friends and followers and taunted Funaki at every turn. So now Funaki is finally in the ring with Nagata, and is backed by the two followers that Nagata firmly and messily defeated not long ago. Meanwhile Nagata is backed up by his permanant sidekick Inoue and…KUSHIDA? Wait, you mean Tajiri’s protege? The spunky, fun loving Jr. with a heart of gold? Plopped down in the middle of a blood feud between angry, dangerous killers even though he has nothing to do with this at all?
Defrost: Funaki and Nagata start and there is not the hate filled brawl right off the bat one might expect. They feel each other out. Sorta makes sense in context actually. In the feud Kono and Tanaka kept flying off the handle wanting to kill Nagata and Funaki played the voice of reason role trying to calm them down. Things slowly start heating up and when that happens Nagata eats a bunch of kicks and slaps, but is able to suplex Funaki and get the hell out of there. There is a real feeling watching this that KUSHIDA is going to die. Nagata just antagonizes Funaki who is fuming especially after Nagata does the running corner knee that broke Funaki’s face to Kono and stares Funaki down. This is so going to get taken out on KUSHIDA. And right on his head. Funaki’s new finisher is the Crossface Chicken Wing into the Tombstone Piledriver. KUSHIDA took it and then all hell breaks loose in Ryogoku when Funaki mocks Nagata’s salute. This is just the start of this feud.
Cewsh: I think the biggest achievement of this match, and this feud, is that it really goes about convincing you that these two hate each other the right way. In the opening minutes, as Nagata and Funaki feel each other out, you can just see Nagata smiling at Funaki and taunting him subtly, and you can see Funaki clearly trying to ignore it and keep his head in the match, because he knows getting into a wild brawl is playing right into Nagata’s hands.
There’s just so much communicated every time they lock eyes that if I wasn’t absolutely certain it wasn’t true, I would be utterly convinced that these two men truly hated one another and wanted to beat the other just to stick it to them. And they accomplish this without any yelling, rabid promos, without any dinner forks in the eye. They do it just eye body language and storytelling. Brilliant.
All of this is only reinforced as the match goes on. Nagata decides to start trolling and starts slapping Funaki and grabbing him by the throat. Funaki cooly responds to this by hitting Nagata with a slap that leaves him loopy and them dropping him with a heavy roundhouse, before standing over the incapacitated Nagata and just looking down at him like “look at you now, you piece of shit.”
The match isn’t even 5 minutes old and it’s already so much more emotional and intense than anything I’ve seen in America in years. And we’re just getting started.
Nagata gets absolutely wrecked by Funaki for several minutes, before he grabs a desperation bearhug and turns into into an Exploder Suplex to buy himself some time to let the birdies stop flying around his head. And then, after judging himself too vulnerable to continue at the moment, he tags in KUSHIDA. Poor, poor KUSHIDA. GENEROUSLY Funaki tags in Tanaka, who is also a Jr, so it’s a fair fight, and the two go at it, providing a much faster paced affair. Now nobody in this match actually hates KUSHIDA, so when he’s in, in the beginning, it becomes much more of a competitive contest and its a ton of fun to watch. I am unabashedly behind the fauhawked firecracker, and that doesn’t bode well for me in what is inevitably to come. But for now they both tag in their other partners and Kono and Inoue mix it up, blah blah blah, nobody cares when two sidekicks fight each other.
Things get juicy again when Nagata comes tearing back in to tear Kono’s ass to shreds as a near defenseless Kono just stands there taking shot after shot like an oversized dart board. And when Nagata gives Kono the big running knee in the corner that broke Funaki’s face months ago, Nagata trots on over and stares him down to rub salt in the wound. After that shit is on big time, and the match starts to break down, with emotions boiling over into a big clusterfuck. Ultimately this results in KUSHIDA getting tagged in against Funaki and deciding that he’s going to make his name by winning one for his team and getting in good with Nagata. Oh poor, naive KUSHIDA.
KUSHIDA does great for awhile. Knocking everyone down and putting the hurt on Funaki as best as he can, but everyone in the arena but KUSHIDA himself knows that he is way, way, way out of his depth on this one, and he’s aggravating an enraged killing machine waiting to happen. After a missed kick from the big guy, KUSHIDA alllllllmost gets the pin with a shock roll up that Funaki never saw coming, but when Funaki kicks out, he makes goddamn sure that the next heavy roundhouse connects straight to KUSHIDA’s temple, and the little guy collapses to the mat like he suddenly developed a horrible case of Jello bones. But Funaki isn’t done. After all, he has a message to send to Nagata, and it just so happens he’s found the perfect little messenger boy.
Funaki chokes him out with a Crossface Chicken Wing and, just to add insult to injury, drops KUSHIDA with a Tombstone right in front of a restrained Nagata. And then he stands up, dusts himself off, and gives Nagata’s trademark pose with a big nasty grin on his face.
And suddenly Superbrawl 2012 is on, with everyone struggling mightily to keep these two separated as they try to do horrible things to one another. And a furious Nagata looks on as his mortal enemy walks away with a smile on his face, having thoroughly shown him who was boss today.
A lot of Americans fans watching Puro for the first time complain that they have trouble understanding the stories in and behind the matches due to the language barrier. Often this is a fair point and one of the issues with trying to enjoy a product made by people who don’t speak your language. But matches like this prove that no matter what, when a story is great and told by great storytellers, you don’t need to know what they’re saying or what the history is. In matches like this it just fucking works. Fuck me, but that singles match is going to be nuts. Whew.
Now everyone plant a flower for poor KUSHIDA today. We hardly knew him.
83 out of 100
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval
Defrost: All Japan had lost all of their titles. Jun Akiyama of NOAH had won the Triple Crown. Kenny Omega of DDT had won the World Jr Title. Dark Ozz and Dark Cuervo of AAA won the World Tag Team Titles. Sekimoto and Okabayashi of Big Japan won the All Asia Tag Titles. Since then All Japan had regained the Jr and World Tag Titles. The other two All Japan titles were defended on this show starting with this match.
Cewsh: If I told you that this match would give you an opportunity to see muscular dudes hit fat dudes in the middle of a ring for 10 minutes without much of a result in any particular way, would that appeal to you? What if I told you the fat guys were like SO TOTALLY FAT.
Anything? If you’re anything like me, the idea of fat dudes being there isn’t enough to carry an entire match concept by itself, but this is Japan. And in Japan, when fat dudes totter about and fall on top of guys to win their titles, that big entertainment and worthy of uproarious cheers. And while I’ve seen this many, many times before, I never quite get used to the idea.
This is my convoluted way of saying that this match was worse than walking barefoot through a Lego factory, but that the crowd absolutely ate it up. So this one of those rare matches that I just have to chalk up to difference of opinion, shake my head, and sadly trudge on.
60 out of 100
Defrost: Hama and Akebono are large men. Sekimoto looks like a character from Duckman. Okabayashi looks like Manabu Nakanishi and Taiyo Kea had a love child. I have a had time getting past that. Hama’s legs look like they will snap at any second. Love the Ribera advertisement on Hama and Akebono’s gear. The champions are power guys and the challengers weigh about 13 tons so that is an interesting dynamic. I wasn’t really into this match. Honestly, Predators was on tv and I got distracted half way through this. Hama took all the bumps for his team I noticed. Ending was abrupt. Meh. All Japan has 3 of their 4 titles back with the Triple Crown yet to be contested.
Defrost: Naito seems to be getting groomed for taking the title off Tanahashi. Except he keeps losing matches, which outside of WWE makes no sense. Makes no sense in WWE either, but that’s WWE’s problem. Speaking of WWE I greatly fear Tonga is going there. He has gotten really good and being the son of Haku he seems like someone they’d sign. I’d miss watching him if that happened. Staying on the WWE kick, Joe Doering is a big white guy they like so much in Japan and he was in WWE and FCW for awhile. Have no memory of it. Maybe his name was Pete Collins or something. His main attribute is being a big white guy. Sanada is technically good but a charisma black hole.
Cewsh: I don’t think WWE has any idea who Tama Tonga is. The reason I suspect this to be the case is because if they DID know who he was, there is absolutely no way that he wouldn’t be under contract to them right now.
We’re talking about a shredded wildman who is so reminiscent of a young Jimmy Snuka that it defies belief, and who saves this rather dull match from the doldrums running around like his giant afro is on fire and assaulting everyone he can get his hands on. I mean, I came into this match assuming that it would basically be an exhibition match for Tetsuya Naito, as he’s the golden child of New Japan. But i’ll be damned if Tonga didn’t completely steal the match out from under him.
Not that it was overly hard to do that. A big problem with wrestling in Japan is that right up until that switch flips and the guy really gets what he’s doing and steps his game up to the highest level, there tends to be a lot of playing it safe. Guys will do moves, even awesome ones, but they’ll follow very familiar avenues to get to the end of the matches, and they save actual emotion for feuds. So when a match like this comes along and everyone is just kind of reading their match off of a list and there’s no sign of anyone really having any opinions about anything, (except for Tonga, who is of the opinion that civilization peaked at leopard print underwear,) the whole thing has a tendency to fall flat. As happens here. This isn’t a bad match. At some points it was quite pleasant. But that’s all. And that’s not nearly enough.
62 out of 100
Defrost: This is the first of two NJPW vs. AJPW tag matches. Politics say there will be a split, and since Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada are totally not losing it stands to reason Tonga is getting pinned here. Like I said, Sanada is bland and Doering is basically All Japan’s Lance Archer; so as great as Naito is and as fun as Tonga is they didn’t have a lot to work with here. This was kinda boring. Nothing on this show has made a real impression so far.
Defrost: This is the goods. There is quality here. Since returning to New Japan, Okada has arguably become the #2 guy behind Tanahashi after his shockingly great run as IWGP Champ. After a shaky start he has really gotten over with his attitude and with Gedo working as his mouthpiece. Not talking has actually added to an aura about him. Since returning from his tour in Mexico, Shinsuke Nakamura has taken on a personality more akin to his artistic tendencies than his grrr strong style Inoki K1 fights grrr personality and is far more interesting because of it. He was an Art major in college and has had galleries of wrestling related art. His character feels at the same time as performance art and completely genuine. It works. SUWAMA is All Japan’s #1 guy. He’s good, but missing something. Kondo is amazing, but he’s a Jr. Heavyweight and thus the designated job guy here.
Cewsh: Every time we meet like this, I feel like I spend 8 pages gushing about Shinsuke Nakamura and his “I aint care” persona, which is brilliant and amazing. But i’m not going to do that this time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much true, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to talk about the rise of Okada in New Japan since it began earlier this year, and god dammit, I’m taking that chance.
See, once upon a time there was a young guy named Okada who New Japan had high hopes for. He did his time as a Young Lion and got sent off to foreign lands to get his out of country training. He actually got a great opportunity when it was revealed that he would be doing his tour in TNA, but unfortunately that wound up being a blatant rip off of the sidekick from the Green Hornet and jobbing mercilessly in meaningless dark matches. This was a gigantic flop, but not really his fault, so when Okada come back to New Japan they were all ready to push him to the moon. One problem. He suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
Yes, Okada blew harder than a thirsty whale, and after May of 2010 he pretty much disappeared. So come December when it was announced that he was making a comeback, it was met with a chorus of “meh”. Then he came out and shocked the wrestling world by unseating Hiroshi Tanahashi as the IWGP Champion and holding it for months, in one of the best title reigns in years. Nobody had any idea where this newly bleach blonde, in control and charismatic guy came from, and how it could possibly be that same wonky shithead who ruined multiman matches for years and years. But where ever he came from, here he is now. And the Rainmaker is all kinds of awesome.
So okay, long story short, Okada and Nakamura are great. And much to the shock of all, their team is great as well. As a result, this match is easily better than almost everything on this show so far. The characters here all mesh together great, (though like Frosty says, SUWAMA really needs something to his character because it’s not quite all there,) and the action is fast and fun. Okada and Nakamura vs. KENTA and Marufuji is fast becoming an absolute dream match for me. GIMME GIMME NOW NOW NOW
79 out of 100
Defrost: SUWAMA does not like Okada. Kondo does not like Okada. There is some juicy hate going on. It is startling how over Okada has gotten. There was a massive reaction when he was tagged in. Okada does have the best Elbow Drop in the business, just ask Jushin Liger. Damn was he impressed.
This match continued the theme of getting Okada’s finisher over. The Rainmaker is a move where Okada straightjackets the arms and then twirls his opponent around into a short arm lariat. The bumps guys have been taking off of it have been amazing and Kondo was no different doing like a 720 in the air afterward. Best match of the show up to this point. Post match was awesome with Okada not even caring about SUWAMA coming for him and Nakamura running interference. I want Okada and Nakamura to win the tag titles so bad.
Segment 9 – NJPW and AJPW 40th Anniversary Main Event I – Bros With Trick Elbows (Keiji Mutoh, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) vs. The Beaten Brigade (Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii)
Defrost: nWo Japan reunites! The revenge of Shinpei Nogami! Jushin Liger cursing in English! So much going on in this one. Tons of nWo shirts in the crowd for TenKoji reuniting with Keiji Muto. Oh they attack and steal the flowers and beat them with flowers and Liger is furious and not even in the match. It has broken loose in Sumo Hall. TenKoji had lost the tag titles to Yano and Iizuka, but the match on the previous PPV went to so many DQs followed by an attack on President Sugabayashi so the titles are held up. Muto comes in to even the odds here.
Iizuka does his ritual attacking of announcer Shinpei Nogami that he had been doing for years now. Yuji Nagata and Jushin Liger, who were on commentary, come to his defense including Liger screaming, “Oh shit!” into his headset. This will be important later. The match was fun. Muto being Muto and the heels being heelish and all that. After the match was the best when Muto called Nogami into the ring. I am just going to scream Nogami Justice at people now. For years now Iizuka has attacked Nogami before every match and ripped off his shirt. For years. Here he gets his revenge. He gets Nogami Justice. With the worst looking lariat of all time.
Cewsh: Iizuka is a wrestling character that could only exist in Japan. He’s an out of his mind whirlwind of crazypants with a beard, who loses virtually every match he competes in and yet is as over as any heel in the promotion. That’s because he does things like casually deciding to take a detour through the crowd during his entrance, throwing anybody in the chairs he wants to walk on the fuck out of his way. And when he finally gets to the ringside area to do what he may or may not understand to be his job, he abruptly attacks the announcer just like always, dragging him over the table, beating him repeatedly and ripping his shirt off just for the hell of it while Jushin Liger and Yuji Nagata scramble to run him off.
This is like 5 minutes of spectacle before the fucking match ever begins, and involves the wrestler assaulting at least 3 fans and one staff member. With the CM Punk incident clear in your mind, this should illustrate a pretty clear difference in culture here.
Riding to the rescue is the good guy team of 90s legends, made up of Mutoh, Kojima and Tenzan, and they’re here to party like it’s 1999. As they all come out, they’re presented with ceremonial flowers by some attractive women, because they’re just good like that, but they don’t get a chance to enjoy the flowers or the women, as the three evil doers rush in and beat them down, even going so far as to grab the flowers and use them to beat up our heroes. Dastardly! This kicks off a fun game of “How many times can the bad guys cheat before the good eyes beat them half to death?” Apparently they were going for the high score, because this match is a pretty great example of how fun a match can be when the heels are just completely over the top at being evil, almost to the point of parody.
Ultimately, of course, the bad guys get their comeuppance, and everybody hits their finishers while the crowd goes crazy, especially for Mutoh’s moonsault, which a goddamn miracle of nature at this point. But we’re not done yet. Our heroes hoist up a battered Iizuka and call our poor announcer friend into the ring to finally get his revenge for months and years of torment. Mutoh whispers some instructions in the guy’s ear, as he stands there without a shirt on, looking nervous as hell, and then after everyone charges in and nails Iizuka in the corner, the announcer comes tearing ass across the ring and nails Iizuka with the very best Lariat he can while being damn near in tears the whole time.
It’s a great cathartic moment, and a great cap to a match that was more fun than it had any right to be.
80 out of 100
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval
Cewsh: See this?
No! No, that’s a bad, bad All Japan! I’ve told you not to drag that in the house. Don’t make me rub your nose in it.
62 out of 100
Defrost: Jun Akiyama of Pro Wrestling NOAH began his career in All Japan Pro Wrestling. He was pegged to be the future Ace of the company, but he left during the All Japan/NOAH split. Many many years later Akiyama won All Japan’s top title the Triple Crown on the show where All Japan lost all their titles. Since Akebono and Hama won the All Asia Tag titles this is the only title left that had not returned to All Japan. Taiyo Kea won the annual Champion’s Carnival tournament to gain his second shot at Akiyama.
No crowd heat for this one in front of a pretty hot crowd. Not going to lie, I wasn’t into this match at all. I was pretty bored, then they did some big moves. Whatever. Didn’t like this one at all.
Defrost: Between these two are 7 reigns as IWGP Heavyweight Champion yet they have never faced for this title. This is the V1 defense of Tanahashi’s record tying 6th title reign, having beaten Kazuchika Okada two weeks earlier in Osaka. On that same show, Togi Makabe defeated Minoru Suzuki and after the main event challenged the new champion. Thus the first ever IWGP Heavyweight Championship clash between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Togi Makabe.
Cewsh: Awwwwwwww yeah.
Defrost: This match is very similar to a match in the same building in November of 2007. In that match the fans in Sumo Hall got heavily behind the challenger, Hirooki Goto, in his first attempt at the title against then champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi has a real history of being booed in Tokyo for whatever reason. I wouldn’t compare it to Cena because Tanahashi only gets booed in Tokyo. He is loved everywhere else. Easily the most over guy in the company. Maybe it is comparable to Mexico where Mexico City always cheers Rudos or something. So the fans are heavily behind Makabe here.
By far the best match on the show. Which when one compares it to the other Tanahashi IWGP Title matches of the last year and a half it might be the worst of the bunch yet it is match of the night and damn good. The run he has been on has been incredible. He truly is the best wrestler in the world. Tanahashi’s ability to work multiple types of matches, here he is in the role Bret Hart would take when wrestling other babyfaces such as Diesel or Shawn Michaels, is on display here. Makabe is a very good brawler who can break out some big bombs. This gets a recommendation.
Cewsh: Hiroshi Tanahashi is the best main event wrestler of our generation. Frankly, I don’t know what is more impressive; the sheer number of great main events he’s been a part of or the percentage of great ones out of the ones he’s in. More than any other wrestler on the planet, Tanahashi can be counted upon for a great match absolutely every time you see him, and while the same can be said of the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and occasionally Kurt Angle, none of those guys can work a main event like Tanahashi.
But perhaps the greatest thing working for Tanahashi, and the most important that comes up here, is his adaptability. Here he faces a big bull of a man who doesn’t know pain and who the crowd is firmly behind, so he just casually shifts gears from the babyface sell machine to the tweener game planner, using his athleticism and smarts to stay ahead of Makabe and frustrate him again and again.
By the end of of the match what you have is another example of the greatness of not only Tanahashi or Makabe, (who has been damn good himself since he went singles,) but of the newly formed New Japan main event style. It’s an interesting mish mash of King’s Road, WWE style sports entertainment and the classic New Japan style, and it’s working like a charm on a monthly basis. This isn’t the best match by either of these guys that you could see, but it beats the hell out of NOT seeing it.
Cewsh’s Download Seal of Approval
Now enjoy your IWGP champion tuning his invisible guitar.
Cewsh: If there’s anything to take away from this show, it’s that New Japan Pro Wrestling is a ball of fire right now in terms of momentum and quality, while All Japan Pro Wrestling is simply struggling to stand out. Despite this being a cobranded show, I don’t think this left a lot of people thinking that these two companies were on anything resembling even ground, despite attempts to make it seem that way. As such, the show is pretty uneven, and the middle of the show definitely gets bogged down by a bunch of matches that just aren’t very good or interesting. But there’s a lot here to be interested in, and if all of it happens to center around New Japan, well that just makes it easier for us to focus on the good stuff, now doesn’t it?
Defrost: So in conclusion while this was not what I’d call a bad show it was probably the worst show I ever reviewed here on Cewsh Reviews. I wouldn’t tell anyone to go out of their way to see it, but if say the main event or the nWo Japan six man pop up for you on Youtube I’d say check those out.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed getting some international culture in your life in between milking goats or trading stocks or whatever it was that you were doing immediately before reading this, (I suspect “eating Cheetos in my underwear: would be a common answer.) Next week we’ll be catching up with WWE as we review WWE Night of Champions 2012. Will CM Punk finally get his definitive victory over John Cena? Will Sheamus finally dispose of Alberto Del Rio? Will titles change hands on the night where all championships must be defended? It’s almost certain that you already know the answers to these questions, but come on back anyway to see what parts of the show we can make dick jokes about. Until then, be sure to keep reading and be good to one another!