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Found 12 results

  1. The last time we will see Muta in Japan until late December. This really has an epic feel with the entrances and Hokuto escorting Sasaki. Muta is limping around on a crutch but that was all a ruse and he attacks Sasaki with the crutch before the bell. He then mists Hokuto. Muta is certainly limited and hurting here but the pageantry and mobility is just enough to make this entertaining. Sasaki did good on his power moves and displaying his Power Warrior persona throughout this match. The finish was neat as Muta has misted Sasaki once and goes for the evil red mist. Sasaki blocks that and then mists Muta. One lariat later and he retains. ***1/4
  2. Probably my favorite Kojima match ever and Sasaki is really having a great start to the year. This featured some great limb work from Kojima in the early going where he looked aggressive and like a shark going after his prey. I really appreciated the factions hanging on the outside and threatening to intervene but never fully doing so. The back end of the match was a bomb fest but a highly dramatic one and I was in pure elation when Sasaki secured the victory. A great match that I would love for New Japan World to put in full. ****1/4
  3. Another mundane tag and this tag league overall hasn’t been a high point for NJPW. That is par the course as usual in modern times but you see the effects here. Sasaki vs Chono is the clear highlight pairing here and they milk the interaction there for as long as they possibly could. Norton still has some strong power moves but I was more impressed by Dr. Deaths resurgence in the early portion of the year than what I have seen from Flash in the Tag League. The finish here completely shocked me as Norton ends up getting a pin on Sasaki after a lariat. **1/2
  4. We cut right to the action and Sasaki is getting worked over. The tag is made to Nishimura and the fight is on. This is structured like a combo between Jumbo vs Misawa 6 mans and the sprinty, more hate filled multi man matches of NJPW of yore. The match doesn’t reach the peaks of either of those templates but was pretty fun with T 2000 doing everything to gain the advantage and working well as a cohesive unit. Hot tag is made to Nakanishi and he predictably gets the sub on Saito with his torture rack into a variation. Fun match. *** (6.1)
  5. Sasaki can’t get to his feet as both factions are still all in the ring jawing at each other. The match starts and Sasaki goes for broke rushing over with a dropkick. Chono tries to retreat to the outside but Sasaki musters up a suplex back in the ring and then looks for the same submission that put Chono away in the first match. Chono gathers his bearings and cheats his way through to gain more of an advantage. Sasaki again pulls off the one armed powerbomb and goes towards the submission but his legs give out. Chono regains and is able to lock in the STF. Sasaki puts up a fight but Chono syncs in the hold and adjusts putting more torque on the injured leg. The camera pans to Helen Hashimoto who could throw in the towel for Sasaki. After a few more seconds, Hashimoto throws in the towel and that is it giving Chono the win. The final moments were dramatic and it could have set up a lot of interesting stuff between Hash/Sasaki/Chono if politics wouldn’t have intervened. *** (6)
  6. This is the finale match of a NJ vs T2000 battle throughout the show. We clip to Chono gaining control and things getting tense on the outside with the surrounding members of each faction lingering around. Chono looks for the STF and then runs through a variety of leg submissions weakening those limbs so he can properly apply the hold. Sasaki is selling the leg damage well hobbling around even when he locks on a quick STF of his own for a second. Sasaki muscles him up for the brainbuster but has to recover a bit. He then locks on the submission and gains the victory ending the series in a tie. We got less than half of this but it looked fun in full and sets up the playoff match well. NR
  7. Nagata is a strong worker at mixing up the mat work. This felt varied and different from the opening of the Ilzuka match which is no small feat. Here it felt more like Nagata gaining the dominant advantage and the leg lock he cranks in the early moments looks brutal. Nagata is also good at logical progressions. If Sasaki reaches back with his arm, why not grab that and work it over a bit? Sasaki chops himself out of the submission and it shows Nagata takes the bait by going into a strike exchange. Nagata is a good enough striker to hold his own but now he is in Sasaki’s domain and Sasaki takes over with strikes, bulldog and powerslam combo. Nagata quickly realizes his error and goes back to the leg with a trip and dragon screw. A really neat counter is Nagata spinning out of the Scorpion right into a modified figure four. Sasaki is hurting but still has all the strength left in his arms and is able to maintain position with a lariat and kicks with his good leg. Nagata goes right back to the well and takes the bad limb down again with another submission. What a great honed in attack. They really tease Sasaki almost tapping out here and the crowd is getting frantic. Great struggle showing him inching his way to the ropes. Great show of strength with Sasaki swinging for the fences and hitting a one armed powerbomb. Running clotheslines but Nagata isn’t done yet with an STO and German going right into another leg submission that has another great bit of struggle. When Nagata goes for two spinning back kicks, Sasaki catches him and hits two straight strength powerbombs. A running clothesline gives him a nearfall but Nagata isn’t done yet. Sasaki pounces right on him though with the brainbuster to put him out and advance to the finals. Nagata made one mistake and Sasaki put together the flurry he needed to win. This was a great fucking match. ****1/4 (8.3)
  8. This match opened up in a slow methodical way. It wasn’t the most compelling mat work we have seen tonight but for two hoss power guys, the stuff like the test of strength made sense. The chop battle that happens around five minutes in ramps things up a good bit with Nakanishi bringing it down with a chin lock and neck crank. I wish Nakanishi would go after the leg that Nagata worked over so well and Sasaki was still limping on when he entered the ring. Daddy Choshu is watching over his flock from the tunnel. Now Nakanishi goes after the leg after we see Nagata at ringside and I’m delighted as can be. Nakanishi cranks in the crab like submission with the leg wrapped around his head and the crowd picks up on that and responds to Sasaki being in trouble. The next big spot happens when Sasaki goes through a small flurry and hits his bulldog. Those type of power moves worked against Nagata but Nakanishi is stronger and bigger so he shrugs off the bulldog, hits a spear and keeps on rocking Sasaki with a barrage of strikes and clotheslines. Sasaki is forced to reach down deep now and knows that he has to prove he has more bravado than Nakanishi. The clothesline exchanges made a lot of sense in that moment and felt like a seminal turning point of the match. The knee Sasaki hits right to the gut looked great and Nakanishi really sells it well of the wind going out of his sails. I can see some critique here that Nakanishi should have went more after the leg but that is more Nagata’s game and not Nakanishi so I did appreciate that while he gave a nod to a vulnerable position of Sasaki, he was going to win this thing his way through shear brute strength and power. Another clothesline exchange with the sweat flying off of both men and the crowd going nuts. A nice sequence with Nakanishi getting the rack, Sasaki getting a tight choke and Nakanishi using that to hit a good looking backdrop suplex. Sasaki really fights out of the rack using joint manipulation and again Nakanishi is able to counter the counter by dropping Sasaki onto his stomach. Nakanishi seizes up Sasaki and spears him again in the midsection that has been worked over some. Another spear and now Nakanishi is looking for the kill shot. He goes for one final spear and Sasaki does the same knee to gut counter. Nakanishi shakes that off, hits a spear and gets Sasaki up in the rack. This really feels like it should be the end of the match. Sasaki fights through and the exhaustion of wrestling three matches gets to Nakanishi as he collapses. Not the best counter but it does make some sense. Sasaki then runs through his full offensive arsenal with the monster Nakanishi trying to shrug it off before Sasaki hits the brainbuster and then locks in the crab with Nakanishi submitting quickly. Anticlimatic end as the crab by Sasaki hadn’t been used but didn’t make sense and Nakanishi should have passed out again since the narrative was him fighting through everything. Still a great match for this style and I don’t think they did too much at all. Overall, one of the better top to bottom shows of the year. **** (7.8)
  9. A lot of hate here and the ending to a very enjoyable show overall. Sasaki felt like a man with something to prove after the embarrassing Kawada loss and he brings the hate against the top faction he has been feuding against in 2000. His trusty lieutenants are more than willing to lend a hand with especially Ilzuka mixing it up and going after Tenzan. Chono looked crisp here and picked his spots and he has been enjoyable for the most part in 2000 and not over reaching where his athleticism can betray him leading to dry matches. Tenzan picks up the big win for his team. ***1/2 (7)
  10. All of Liger’s run through the juniors has led to this. Sasaki has been on a role in 2000 but this was probably my least favorite performance of him as I didn’t think he did much of anything to make Liger feel like a threat. The booking on this show overall was really atrocious. Much like Fully Loaded 3 months later, they are trying a 3 match series of the young guys/ juniors going against the established guard. Much like Fully Loaded, the younger group goes 0-3 and it stunts a lot of their momentum. Thinking back to the Chono vs Sasaki interactions, I wish they just would have ran that match here and hey Liger vs Muta isn’t a bad matchup on paper either for the undercard. Sasaki kicks out at 1 of the brainbuster and then Sasaki runs through his finisher combos and finishes Liger off with a brainbuster buster with little reaction. Really disappointing. ***
  11. New Japan has always done these 10-man elimination matches well and this is no exception. On TV, they showed 19 minutes of a 34 minute match, in highlight form instead of JIP so we were able to see a good chunk of what led to every elimination. The big things that stood out were: - Chono still had it when I think going into 2000, I didn't expect him to have it anymore - People really want to see Sasaki vs Chono. Really, really, really ... - Obviously the bookers didn't want Liger to win this and they didn't want him beating a heavyweight either, but they also wanted to protect him and make him look good, so they were stuck in neutral - Nakanishi was being pushed really hard, just as he has been in every match, but he just doesn't have the goods Taken on its own terms, this was a terrific match. The booking issues are really the only issue with it, as the match itself is super heated and action-packed, with pairings you don't often see, just as the 10-mans usually are. Each elimination was built to in a way that made sense and with each guy pinned going down fighting. There's lots to love here. I just wish they'd decide for sure where they want Liger instead of trying to have it both ways, and that they'd face the truth with Nakanishi. ***3/4
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