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Found 6 results

  1. With this and the previous six man, we essentially have all of the big focal points of AJ coming into 2000 besides Vader and Kawada. Kikuchi and Kakihara have a more shooty opening than the matwork in the previous six man. Action seems to start earlier in this one with Kakihara busting a suplex onto the floor and a kick right to the face of a wounded Kikuchi. After some meandering, Misawa comes in vs. Smith. Smith is a weird trajectory as he was doing pretty well in the gaijin role in 98-2000, then the NOAH split happens and his relevance falls off. He gets in some pretty good arm work on Misawa. Misawa does a nice diving headbutt off the second rope to Taue and then rolls through. Misawa looks good in the early portions of this match not taking the night off at all. Smith continues to do some arm work this time on Ogawa when he gets tagged in. Match takes more of a structure when Kikuchi starts to get worked over. Kakihara is taking the lion’s work for his team with Misawa being a nice compliment. Misawa and Taue have their hottest exchange of the match as the match nears its conclusion. Kakihara also is able to hit a nice flurry on Taue. Ogawa and Smith gives way to Ogawa and Kikuchi with Misawa chipping in again for his team. A nice spot does happen where Kikuchi rolls through the first drop toe hold attempt of Ogawa before he hits the second. Misawa also hasn’t thrown out hardly any of his big time offense showing restraint. He pins Kikuchi with a frog splash and running elbow smash. This match had some nice moments but also felt meandering for much of the time. I also thought both Taue and Ogawa were essentially non factors and those are two guys that I really like. **1/2
  2. Once again, a melancholy match to watch knowing what is directly looming. Putting aside those emotions, this was another fun encounter. This was probably the most seemless and best Ikeda has looked in an AJ ring and him and Kawada especially have a lot of beef in this match. Check out the lariat that Kawada gives him in the latter stages that is absolutely brutal. Misawa and Kawada have a good bit of interaction and it is always fun to watch these two mix it up between the wrestling, strikes and some of their signature bombs. Taue also takes it Misawa quite a bit and is really grumpy in this one. Final even ends up with Inoue and Ogawa which is two junior members but it felt like they had mixed it up well enough that a pin could be costly. Ogawa ends up putting him away with a back suplex. ***1/2
  3. 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. ***
  4. 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
  5. Shiga is all of sudden becoming an interesting figure right at the split of AJ as him and Hashi go after each other to start things off and it is really entertaining and not that far off from the fired up Kikuchi segments you would see in early 90’s AJ tags. Kobashi and Taue come in like the older brothers that tell the younglings that it is time for serious business. They have a good exchange with each other and Taue gains the advantage by sending Kobashi into a headbutt with Hashi. Hashi takes over on Shiga for a long time here. Hashi is an interesting performer with much more of a wrestling base. He almost seems like he should be mixing it up with Otsuka in BattlARTS. Build to finale has Shiga slapping Taue around in a nice bit of assertiveness before Taue puts a quick end to that shit. Hashi and Shiga were the focal points and are appropriately in there at the tail end with Hashi hitting a fisherman buster and his diving headbutt for some nearfalls. Actual finish is Shiga locking on an armbar and securing the submission. ***
  6. Life comes at you fast. A good but typical six man from these guys that will be raised when you think about the fact that this is the second to last time ever that Kobashi and Kawada stepped into the ring against one another. Even Misawa and Kawada only have a handful of these on tape. That is what made me cherish every interaction here a little more. Beyond that, Fuchi was really game and as someone that was forced to step into a more prominent role with the wake of the exodus that is looming, it was really nice to see him already bringing his working boots pre split. Goodbye 1990's All Japan. ***1/2
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