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  1. Cool to see Frye vs Nagata grapple a bit but besides that, this was long even though it was clipped down. Super J is really bad and Iizuka becomes more limited with every appearance. A vanilla match that hopefully will set up more interesting stuff for Frye down the road. **
  2. This was my favorite match from the 1/31 show and Sasaki was the best wrestler overall especially his exchanges with Kojima. Nishimura wasn’t too far behind as he forfeited his technical ability to dish it out with Team 2000. Ohara just seems like someone there to take a pin so that was disappointing. Overall, a good main event. ***1/4 (6.6)
  3. A good match but one that felt lifeless. I watched these three NJPW matches in one sitting and then fell asleep and the next morning am struggling to bring up any coherent or interesting thoughts. The effort wasn’t bad but it certainly was a house show style performance as well. That is forgivable given the circumstances but can be a detriment when you start thinking about the top of your WOTY list. All three major puro promotions have had a bit of a weird start in 2001. NOAH is probably the best but still has had some tags that felt aimless and with Kobashi gone, there is a lot of uncertainty. ***1/4 (6.3)
  4. The best Nitro match is lord knows how long. Lance honestly looks like one of the best US wrestlers here. He hits a great dropkick, is stiff and is in position for everything. The counter of the rana into the Maple Leaf was also a great finish. Daffney continues to be atrocious screaming on the outside. Crowbar looked good and cleaner than he does at other points when given non hardcore showcases. A very enjoyable match that came after a great Rhodes Family vs Flair/Animal segment. ***1/4 (6.4)
  5. Holy shit was this awesome. 13 minutes of pure action with everyone flying around and only SAITO looking like hes not up to speed. Tiger Mask and Tokyo continue to outperform their reputation and both were super strong here. Tokyo had no moments of clumsiness and Tiger Mask continues to be swift with the strikes. Crazy Max works so well as a team and compliments each other. The best aspects of Toryumon are personified in this match. Great action and characters. **** (8.2)
  6. A decent match between two that are never my favorite. This was the final of the Welterweight Title tournament and Arai had already beating Saito and Susumu Mochizuki prior to this match. Arai has the hard head gimmick and Kanda keeps injuring himself trying to attack it with clotheslines and punches. The finish plays into this as Arai hits a top rope jaw breaker that Kanda sells as death. My favorite moment was the aftermath with the faction warfare with M2k, Arai’s crew and Crazy Max joining the fray. **3/4
  7. A good match but with this being the semi main and how well executed Liger vs Fuchi did in the other singles NJPW vs APW match, you would hope for more. This should have sent alarm bells off for Kea and his capabilities at being a top start going forward. Muto starts with some ground work and then when things go outside, Muto becomes more heelish kicking at Wada and using a ladder. Back inside, the legs are the focal point. Kea sells it well enough there just isn’t anything that Kea does that feels spectacular. He is very bland overall. Muto ends up winning with the figure four and NJPW goes 2-0 and practically buries AJPW at their own dome show. ***1/4 (6.4)
  8. I dug this for the first few minutes but it got stretched out too long and Barton is limited as hell as a worker. Williams looked fine and not too far off from 2000 where he was still a good worker that needed to be in their with a great one to provide entertainment. Barton isn’t that person. It also felt kind of sad that this came off the heels of the Hansen retirement and kind of was presented as a passing of the torch to the new top gain in the promotion. William’s best days are far behind him but he looks like still the best of the class overall. **3/4
  9. This show really needed a shot in the arm and these grumpy bastards delivered. A brutal but calculating match where Fuchi was shown to look really strong. He does little things throughout this match that just make you delight in the misery he is inflicting on Liger. Stretching his leg out into a full split position and standing on Liger in the corner and posing were both the high water marks. This show cements APW status currently. There are certain wrestlers that I enjoy but the whole show is a nostalgia or variety show vibe. Almost everything up to that point doesn’t land, but this is two veterans but also wrapped around a great story and the finish of Liger catching him with the La Magistral felt appropriate and probably best case scenario for what AJPW was going to show matching up vs. NJJPW in the feud by this point. **** (8.2)
  10. I found this to be pretty disappointing. Otsuka has been in some good stuff this year but he was someone that really popped off the screen in the late 90’s and 2000 and that hasn’t happened so far. Still, him vs. Kakihara carried this for me. Yone is still one of the worst shoot guys that are involved and Nagai didn’t seem too interested overall. For the lucha tag previously, I felt like we got the touring style match but the highlights of that style. This felt more like dumbing down aspects of shoot style for the big audience. **3/4
  11. Sekimoto’s most high profile match to date with Teioh pulling double duty. I liked the way that this match started out hot and then settled down with Abdullah and Kamikaze settling the match down with the arm work against Seikmoto. I also enjoyed that once Teioh got the tag he got overzealous on the outside and elbowed the post. Overall, a very solid match that had a lot of doubt of who was going to win but resulted in a feel good moment of the upstart Sekimoto getting a title. ***1/4 (6.5)
  12. This ended up being ranked as a good match by me, but just barely and through the work of Teioh. Winger was just a warm body. Again the restraint was nice as we have a few boards of barbed wire but they are maximized and not used gratuitously. The best spot involving that for me was the finish with the bow and arrow utilizing the barbed wire board. The down points of this match involve a long crowd brawl and Winger on offense was really boring. Interested to see how it plays into the tag match Teioh is in. *** (5.8)
  13. A really good death match. The match revolves around three huge spots and all three are built up to well and deliver in their brutality when carried out. Shadow WX continues to be a guy that will sneakily show up and have really good matches within a year. I don’t think he is as revered as people like Necro but so far he is better than almost any other death match wrestlers in 2001 we have seen. Yamakawa keeps losing his pants and that provides a few comedic moments that didn’t detract from the match. Overall, this is a loaded day in Japan and this would have been a great capper to the early show before going to the AJPW dome. ***3/4 (7.4)
  14. A weaker main event in a Raw that was really anchored by the Austin vs HHH contract signing. HHH lays an attack and then they add the stipulation that they aren’t to touch until No Way Out so we will see how that goes for the next 4 weeks. The action here was ok but rushed and Jericho taking the pin felt out of place but I guess they want to keep heat on Big Show. I don’t remember what happens with the match between Angle and Rock at SmackDown Extreme but I guess we will see.. **1/2
  15. Decent opener for a grouping of guys that besides Knoble have some shaky moments. Most of the spots were hit cleanly and this didn’t overstay its welcome. WCW continues to do a good job in displaying most of these cruiser guys and they are becoming recognizable and distinctive amongst themselves. Another surprise finish with Moore winning. **1/4