Back with more of Muto era AJPW! This time I'm going over 2005-2010. Well I'm actually going to sneak in a '03 & a '04 match that I found as well. This post I thought I'd change it up a bit and focus more on the Junior Heavyweight side of things.. or at least matches that included them. AJPW was never really known for their Junior division so I thought I'd check that out since there was a concerted effort by many companies to feature these guys in the 21st century. Just a guess but NOAH seemed to kick that off a little by having Kanemaru and Marufuji right out of the gate. Kendo Kashin seemed to fill that role early on but Muto probably knew he couldn't build the division on him. Kaz Hayashi will become that guy as you'll see. Anyhow, just wanted to take a different approach to this post. Let's get going!
Toshiaki Kawada & Kendo Kashin vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Wataru Sakata (12/05/03): Kendo Kashin seemed to be the face of the AJ Junior division before they started pushing Kaz Hayashi and getting some of the Dragon Gate guys. I'm not going to seek Kashin out on his own but this will suffice. So the big draw is Kawada vs Hashimoto of course and it delivers on that... you know as a teaser for their 2004 singles match. But what you want to see this for is Kawada vs Wataru Sakata. Kawada whiffs on his arm hold back heel kick. He goes over Sakata's head and falls. It works a little as Kawada had been taking stiff ass leg kicks from Hash earlier. But Sakata kinda mocks Kawada for the whiff by throwing his hands up like "ha! that's what you got? it missed." But then starts nailing K with elbows and Kawada hits back (and although Kawada missed he's still in control). Sakata should start selling after like 2-3 pretty stiff elbows. Wataru Sakata decides he's Misawa and not a Zero One junior (although with some shoot background) and wants to go toe to toe. Kawada makes sure not to miss again with Sakata and if he's going to pretend his Misawa, Kawada will hit him like Misawa. It almost goes off the rails and Sakata may have tried to go into business for himself a couple times including near the finish. Kawada ends the match with a very snug looking face lock and then a rear naked choke. Very interesting stuff for sure. Kawada was a professional though and kept it on track, kept the drama on he and Hashimoto. But man he just lays into Sakata.
Katsuhiko Nakajima, Genichiro Tenryu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kaz Hayashi, Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima (10/22/04): Found this one by accident but man I'm glad I did! What a line up! I always felt Kensuke Office was more NOAH oriented but they were pretty much a part of AJPW during this era. This is a real showcase for Kaz as he takes a ton of punishment from his opponents. He even makes the teenage Nakajima look fantastic. Muto and Kojima have tons of history with Tenryu and Sasaki so they are more than game to get at them. Kensuke and Muto never really in any danger whatsoever but are very good in being "Kensuke" and "Muto" which works in this setting. I'm not asking for any depth from them. You could have had just as awesome a match with Tenryu & Nakajima vs Kojima & Hayashi frankly. But I think Muto and Kensuke were a cherry on top. You can find this on your "day-to-day movement" YouTube alternative. I thought it was great!
TARU/Shuji Kondo VS Satoshi Kojima/Taiji Ishimori (09/23/05): Good little tag match and a sample of the Voodoo Murders stable. Not my cup of tea but it's OK here. I wanted to give it a chance but this type of heeling is a little too American style for me. The strength in numbers, too many short cuts etc. it's too obvious and heavy handed. I got my share of it during the NWO/Corporation/Ministry era of WCW & WWF but I bet there's some quality stuff. This has some nice moments... very good TNA Impact main event for 2005
Satoshi Kojima / Kaz Hayashi VS Keiji Muto / AKIRA (06/03/05): From highs and now to some lows.This has some good moments but overall it's terribly one sided and boring. The match pretty much neutralizes Hayashi who is your explosive junior and has him in the ring to long getting his leg attacked for Kojima, your explosive heavy to really do anything too awesome. The match has no real arc either. There's a hot tag to get Kojima in and get revenge but after taking a little bit of damage he tags Kaz back in. Now we see that kind of nonsense wrestling to brush it off as "he wants to get payback too soon" but that's pretty much how the match ends up. There's no 3rd act...Muto & AKIRA are never in danger. Kojima never gets another tag to clean house for a hot final third. It's OK but you don't need to see this. Or maybe you do...???
RO&D - TAKA Michinoku/Taiyo Kea/Jamal VS Kensuke Sasaki/Akira Raijin/Katsuhiko Nakajima (12/05/05) :So just found out that Akira Raijin was Kiyoshi back in TNA and is Sushi! That's badass! This was a ton of fun. Everyone was playing their roles to perfection. Not a barn burner but surprisingly very stiff. From Jamal's tears after the match, I think it was his last match in AJPW and RO&D and he was heading to the WWE to become Umaga. This match makes me want to see more Jamal. He's got a really good energy and is booked go toe to toe with the big guys like Kensuke. This was a really fun 18 minutes. I think RO&D might be more my speed the Voodoo Murders should I revisit this time period.
Katsuhiko Nakajima & Taiji Ishimori vs. AKIRA & Kaz Hayashi - (01/03/06) : Really fun tag match with just a bunch of non stop action. AKIRA who is sorta the least exciting did a good job bringing his best moves. Nakajima vs Kaz is the highlight or focus of the match. There's one little hiccup during a spot that was more confusing than anything but it can be overlooked especially since this is just meant for fun than a world title defense type thing.
Satoshi Kojima vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (04/07/06): Including this one as I remembered watching a long time ago on a comp I bought. Watched it again now and it is still pretty awesome! I thought it was great (****) at the time but I think that was on stiffness alone. This is stiff as a starched shirt. Kojima isn't known for his chops like Sasaki but he should be and that one lariat!! Holy Shit! Under 10 minute Champion Carnival match...watch it if you can find it.
Shuji Kondo vs Kaz Hayashi (08/27/06): This is Kaz Hayashi in top form! He and Kondo had a fireworks show for the ages here. All kinds of crazy moves, reversals and such. Great striking too! Its a great match and one I've wanted to see for years. So psyched that Gaora posted it! Highly recommend this to Jr. wrestling fans
Shuji Kondo VS Chris Sabin (07/01/07): Really good match and a blast to see Sabin in AJPW. It's something I wanted to see for awhile also. Of course it's mainly spots but they've picked some good ones. Its a little rough around the edges a couple moments but they do well in either recovering or moving on. I never felt taken out of the action. In all honesty, it's all you can ask for and more considering Sabin was not an AJ regular. At about 15 minutes, this is a blast! MCMG fans need to see this.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Silver King (03/01/08): Fast paced, hard hitting bomb fest! This was a blast and a half to watch! If anything though it's a bit too fast and doesn't necessarily develop but it's like match you'd see on like a TNA or ECW pay per view and be really hyped on the next few days. It's only around 12 minutes if you see what I mean. Search this one out!
brother"YASSHI vs Shuji Kondo (02/06/09): History here is both guys are Dragon Gate alumni, kicked out, joined TARU and helped form Voodoo Murders, tag partners and probably way more but now squaring off for the last time. Saw something that he retired in February 09 so perhaps this is his retirement match (temporarily)? It's a wonderful under 10 minute match where they basically beat the crap out of each other. It's a great way to end their story if only for a few years.
Kaz Hayashi vs Shuji Kondo (08/30/09): Well that was insane...a classic junior match for sure. I think it went beyond their fantastic 2006 match. I've heard others like the 2006 match more and I can see that. But really you need to see both! An absolute war with all kinds of moves, counters etc. like I expected. They easily could have rehashed their '06 fight but they pushed themselves to the limit. In fact, the reason this is superior is that it was full of surprises with many moves being counter strikes or reversals or things you rarely see from the wrestlers. I really like that kind of thing especially as we get into 2010's- present wrestling. This is out there for you to find. The video quality isn't amazing but it gets the job done & thanks go out to the uploader!
Kaz Hayashi VS Keiji Muto (10/24/10): This is for the Junior belt. Kinda reminds me of when Kurt Angle wanted to win every title in TNA. To Muto's credit he looks in great shape and slimmed down from '05 and maybe that's the kayfabe reason? Anyhow we get some of the cool moments from the '05 tag match here in perhaps a call back. In any case this is a great match! Of course Muto does his same 2-3 moves over and over (dragon screw, shining wizard, low drop kicks) but Kaz has them scouted and that's what makes this exciting. Kaz might just have a chance to topple the living legend. Obviously this isn't as crazy a match as Kaz vs Kondo but it was a surprise. Certainly a late stage great match for Muto.
If you noticed a few comparisons to TNA throughout, then you'll get a good impression of what AJPW feels like during the Muto era. It really does feel like Japanese TNA. Just from the few matches here, there was talent exchanged (Sabin and Akira Raijin) and I recall seeing the fake Muta for a little while. Afterwards as Wrestle-One I know they worked together as well. So for better and worse, that's probably the best way to describe Muto's AJPW to someone unfamiliar. I have a soft spot for old TNA and I'm forming one for this period of AJ as well. I'll definitely be checking out more.
I hope you've enjoyed reading and watching some of the vids. Again, that's awesome that Gaora has been doing this. Hopefully I have helped spread the good word a little. This era of All Japan certainly is worth your time. Thanks for reading! Stay safe!