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Found 17 results

  1. Really interesting structure for the New Year Giant Series this year as they loaded up two cards in 1/7 and this 1/17 show relatively big but all of the huge stuff in planning was saved for the Excite Series in February. Big contrast to what they have done the past few years. We have also seen TC matches reduced in length with the Vader run but now it floats over to tags. This was a 14 minute match that had a brisk pace and never really could wear out its welcome due to the length. It was also the semi-main of a card that is fairly perplexing with No Fear in a throwaway six man. I was glad to see Taue have a spirited performance here after giving close to nothing in the 1/2 tag. The writing is one the wall with the hierarchy though as he takes the pinfall pretty easily here. I would have liked to have seen a bit more dissension in the Akiyama and Misawa team leading to their match next month. It also looked clear here that a big Vader vs. Akiyama match was being teased. Stuff seems to be a little all over the place a the moment All Japan booking wise and knowing the internal struggle, that makes a lot of sense. This was a good but ultimately inconsequential tag match that is good to see in retrospect for the tinkering of the overall structure and what a semi main tag match in AJ can contain. ***1/4
  2. Burning continues to feud against each other and get a bit chippy as they have lost the title. I look forward to the NOAH debut and like how the main event on the first show was used as a catalyst for their devlopment as team mates because it feels like an engaging story arc to follow. Kobashi gets worked over on the leg a good bit here and Mossman impressed me with his power. Shiga is always undersized but he defends his mentors and really puts up a fight in the name of Kobashi. An overall really good semi-main tag where Kobashi and Akiyama showed some strong glimpses of hate against each other. ***1/2 ( 7)
  3. Holy cow, this was great. And not just great by 2000 Vader standards, either. I thought this was legitimately on par with his WCW classics. Vader is just as brutal as you want him to be (the chokeslam onto the table and the powerbomb onto the floor is quite the 1-2 punch), but he also bumps and sells huge to make Akiyama look like a legitimate threat. And there's no sluggish moments, unlike most post-WCW Vader matches. Some spotty selling takes it down a bit, but this is still well worth going out of your way to see.
  4. These two are strongholds with NOAH in a lot of ways but I can’t recall that many singles encounters with them over the years. Takayama starts off dismantling Akiyama but Akiyama isn’t going to stand for that. He grabs Takayama’s leg and starts working it over in a huge way on the guardrail. I loved the way Akiyama goes into the ring and runs through a sharpshooter, figure four, and STF in quick succession to really crank on the leg. Takayama isn’t someone that is going down with a fight though as the “Hound” character in All Japan. He starts retailiating and really clobbers Jun including cranking his arm over the top rope in effectively painful fashion. Exceptional resourcefulness shown by Akiyama as with him really reeling, he goes back to the leg well and then throws in an Exploder to get a nearfall. He attempts a second one but then gets two crafty rollups and the second one is enough to put Takayama away. This was a load of fun to watch. ***3/4
  5. Funny to see AJPW embracing the late 90’s attitude with the all black faction shirts. Kanemaru is someone will we get a healthy dose of throughout the decade but he is just starting out here as Burning’s underling. Akiyama and Omori start off by taking it to the mat. This I think is a throwaway segment but actually one that feels fresh against the big talking point that late 90’s All Japan and up to the split was all about head drops. This was as 1970’s feeling out process as you could get. Kanemaru mixes in some comedy right from the beginning when he headbutts Omori in the dick. Omori doesn’t take kindly to that and they start teeing off naturally on the junior member of the match. Good to see Asako show some fire here as someone who feel off from the latter half of 1990’s footage we watched. I know I am referencing the 90’s a lot here but I do think the gradual step into the 2000’s that we know when we think of pro wrestling is gradual over the calendar year 2000. This is why we can watch this footage so I can try to hash out that theory. Asako actually gains the advantage over Kobashi for a moment and tags in Takayama. Those two have a nice mano y mano exchange and bring the crowd to life. Akiyama gets tagged in and he starts throwing forearms with Takayama but this time Taka is able to gain the advantage. Nice triple team boot attack by No Fear. We get our first bit of true control in the match at the ten minute mark on Kanemaru. Asako sends him to the outside, posts him and hits a front senton. Takayama’s kicks and forearms look on point and he seems poised to be a big force in All Japan in the new decade. Really nice hope spot for Kanemaru where he fires off multiple elbow shots but gets pulled by his shirt from Takayama before he can make the tag. Kanemaru is able to make the tag and the leg of Asako is honed in on with the Burning unit. Akiyama does a great job of ratcheting up the intensity level as he tees off on the leg of Asako. A nice flash knee with the good knee and DDT allows Asako to make the tag and we enter the final stanza of the match with some No Fear double team moves. Nearfall happens on Kobashi from an Omori missile dropkick. This makes Kenta stop screwing around and he reels off a nice combo of offense before tagging out. Kanemaru hits some more offense and mixes in some comedy bits including a big Rick Rude hip swivel after a baseball slide. Match breaks down with Taka and Kento firing away and the two junior members in the ring. Omori sends Jun into the railing and then keeps things at bay as Asako hits a Fisherman Buster and Michinoku Driver to pick up the win. A real good way to ease us into the decade. The structure was predictable as Kanemaru > Asako > Omori > Akiyama > Takayama (those two are close) > Kobashi (1b of promotion) but it is fun to see the little tinges of offense that is made by anyone below the depth chart. I rag on NJ for their young boy treatment but that usually involves the up and comers jobbing to relics like Nakanishi and Tenzan. Everyone here still felt fresh and in the peak of their career. ***
  6. Burning and No Fear are all exploding in one match. Akiyama and Kobashi start off and Jun backdrops Kobashi 10 seconds in. The young punk has learned from his mistakes the night before. They stare each other down and get violent as the crowd erupts again. No Fear then gets a go and while it is a step down from the previous encounter, it is still pretty damn great with Omori winding up with his uppercuts and Takayama not holding back at all on his kicks. After an extended feeling out process from there with a nasty test of strength and Takayama and Kobashi having a go, Sterness takes over and goes to work on Kenta. Running knees for both members in the corner and sending Kobashi into the guardrails. Kobashi is able to reverse the guardrail attempts and hits chops to show he is pissed off. Omori is also worked over for an extended amount of time. This wasn’t at the tip top level of the tags we saw in AJPW in the 90’s but to me it was only a step behind and is actually comparable to something like the Burning vs Ogawa/Misawa tag from October 1999. Ending run is really heated and this is where some people may be divisive. Omori pleads with Kobashi to go for the Burning Lariat and then he takes it out on Kobashi. One Takayama German later and Takayama has pinned Kenta and No Fear is reunited. We get a backstage promo hopefully explaining Omori’s reasoning but it was pretty suspect. Either way, this leads to a great scene of a pissed off Taue coming out and having to be restrained from taking Omori’s head off. Backstage, Taue throws a trashcan at Omori and Kobashi is stomping around all pissed too. This aint ya mommys Kings Road. **** (7.8)
  7. The announcer losing his mind when Kobashi debuts the black/purple gear is glorious. This was a match where the mold is broken again. Akiyama seizes an opening at the start and gives an Exploder and assisted piledriver to Kobashi on the ramp. Why not as his tactics have worked this time. However, Kobashi has had enough of this shit. He gets some time to recover while Rikio gets worked over, gets tagged in and then unleashes a fury of two lariats that knock both Akiyama and Kanemaru out. The shock when the count happens for Akiyama is excellent. I am loving this feud and I am loving NOAH's booking so far. *** (6.1)
  8. I am loving this pairing right now and this match didn't disappoint for me. I think in watching all of the 2000 stuff all together they have been able to connect with me on a stiffness level while also integrating some layered storytelling that is the net result of these guys facing each other many times before. Williams and Akiyama is the most unfamiliar pairing and they start the match off well with some neat mat work with Akiyama's arm getting targeted. The match also had some extended work on Vader's leg which I thought he sold like a champ. The finishing run was dramatic as it looked like Williams was about to get Lariat'd by Kobashi and defeated when Vader on the outside holds Kenta's feet long enough for Doc to reverse the charge into a spinebuster. This sets up the finishing run culminating in Doc getting a feel good tag title run as Vader chokeslams Kobashi into oblivion for the win. Doc being seen as having to get bailed out by Vader really hit home for me in how well Vader is being presented in AJPW right now. ****
  9. Kobashi vs Akiyama rivalry is freaking sweet so far. Jun jumps Kenta on the ramp to start things off heavy here and the fight is on as a carryover from the night before. This match was worked with a lot of urgency and overall it was extremely enjoyable even if it didn’t reach the absolute peaks of the six man the night before. With Kikuchi securing the big win the previous night, the come down was bound to happen but he puts forth a valiant effort getting bloodied up in the mouth and dishing it back out at Kobashi and Akiyama. Kobashi and Akiyama in the finishing stretch are again fantastic and they are making a big push for feud of the year from August onward. Both of them are also making a push to be in consideration for my WOTY. ***1/2 (7.1)
  10. Kikuchi starts this off cheapshotting everyone and gaining the early advantage with others giving a WTF reaction. That gets the crowd lit and was an awesome moment. Rikio also has some pep in his step going toe to toe with Takayama and holding his own. Akiyama gets the tag and throws Rikio to the corner begging for Kobashi to tag in. What a prick. Kobashi gets the tag in and him and Jun tee off on each other. Big chop on the outside sends Akiyama over the rail. Back inside, Takayama tries to bully Kikuchi and he again has none of that. Kenta and Taka now fire up and Kenta gets the best of a chop exchange. I love seeing the face team not backing down an inch here. Really impressive long vertical suplex by Kobashi onto Takayama. Match settles in a bit now but it isn’t awful work between Kanemaru and Kikuchi/Rikio, just less than the fever pitch the match was at before. Kikuchi becomes the FIP and they work him over with some vicious and prickish work. Kobashi gets the tag and is a complete house of fire. In a great bit of resourcefulness, Akiyama is able to go after the leg of Kobashi and they regain the advantage with Takayama kicking away. Rikio helps out by stomping away and having a fun offensive flurry at the 20 minute mark. Finishing run happens now and it looks like Kikuchi is in deep shit against both Taka and Jun but he ducks and Taka hits Jun. Kikuchi takes out Taka and then hits two Germans and a powerbomb on Kanemaru to gain the win to a huge pop. Great match. **** (8.1)
  11. A kind of by the numbers AJPW tag but still some good stuff to bite into. Mainly seeing Kobashi and Hansen revive their rivalry and go after each other with a ton of vigor. This match also provided a good look into Johnny Smith. He seems like a good mechanic but also someone that doesn't really move the needle for me one way or another. Akiyama is made to look strong as he was heading into the big Misawa singles match and overall this was mostly used as a Burning showcase. ***1/4
  12. I love matches like this and when you are thinking about someone like Akiyama as a WOTY contender, this works as a resume builder. We have seen him so far this year being a courageous underdog vs. Vader, telling Misawa it is his time and now being a bully to a spunky Shiga that took the most of his Korakuen signature opportunity by going after Akiyama from the start of the match. Akiyama even throws in those dismissive short kicks that are so prickish. Kobashi is looking on like a master watching his apprentice do wonders. Shiga gets some flashes with a submission and gets slapped straight down for his troubles. A Gotch style tombstone and Exploder put Jun in a position to win with a vicious side headlock. This was a hoot as the kids say. ***1/4
  13. I could see this being ****+ unclipped, but even the 9 minutes we get are pretty great. Kobashi tends to work with Vader like he's a typical big man while Akiyama better understands what makes him unique and takes advantage of his ability to play pinball and cut a harder pace. I liked how they did more to get Johnny Smith over here. Fans weren't really buying a lot of what he did as credible, but they were giving him offensive flurries that would at least get fans in the micro, and I thought his kickout from Akiyama's first exploder at the end was well done in that regard. Everyone looked really good here, and I'd love to see this in full sometime. ***3/4
  14. Good match but one I was expecting more given the talent involved. Holy Demon Army just really don’t have a lot of steam or momentum after the No Fear loss. Everything they did here was fine but the highlight and energy mostly came from Akiyama as he entered in the closing stages of the match. Taue predictable puts Mossman away. Mossman looked good again and hit a floatover DDT that looked smooth. ***
  15. Mossman will be very interesting to track throughout the decade. I really enjoyed this match. Ogawa/Misawa got overwhelmed in the early going and had to play catchup for most of the match. The arm work done to Ogawa was especially inspiring with frequent tags between Akiyama and Mossman. Eventurally the finishing run occurs and it is also exciting with nearfalls and Ogawa having to result to some of his nefarious tactics out of necessity instead of just for the hell of it. ***1/2
  16. A lot to unpack here with this special Baba memorial six man. Taue comes out wearing a Baba esque robe, Omori gets a big marquee spot, we get a rare appearance of Hansen at this point, and Misawa is teaming with Burning! After a little table setting with Omori in there, he tags out to Hansen and Hansen and Kobashi going after each other and it is great. Kobashi isn’t really the young punk that Hansen loved bullying around for so long so it was refreshing to see this strike exchange with Kobashi now being easily higher on the overall hierarchy in the promotion. Omori continues to be the person that is toughest to figure out in the promotion. They clearly have big plans for him and he doesn’t look awful when is without Takayama but in this match he did stick out to me as pretty obviously having the least amount of heat. I did like him taking the aggression to Jun on the outside to really hone in the focus on Akiyama for his squad. Omori gets worked over for a while and nothing much of note happens until Kobashi takes him to the outside and there is a spirited exchange with Hansen coming over for the save. This leads to the ending run with everything being ramped up a bit and Taue and Akiyama having a good closing sequence vs. each other. Misawa in January is an interesting figure as he has been kind of an overload that is prominent but hasn’t really made his move yet for the year. This match exemplifies that as Burning does the vast majority of the work. Omori looks good in closing stretch with his missile dropkick and dragon suplex. Kobashi catches him in a great half suplex and the Exploder, Tiger Mask and Burning lariat combo put Omori away. Fun for a novelty aspect but the action here was pretty pedestrian for All Japan standards. ***
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