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[1991-08-11-NJPW-G1 Climax] Masa Chono vs Keiji Muto


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  • 3 months later...

Chono takes the G-1 in what is probably pretty easily the highlight of his career. This was a wonderful match, probably the best 1990s New Japan heavyweight match I've seen on any yearbook, with both Muto and Chono looking like they have arrived. In fact, the notion in 1991 that either guy would reach the same peaks as Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi based on this match wouldn't seem ill-advised at all, because this was a career-defining performance from both guys. The nearfalls at the end were of course dramatic and I expected that. What I didn't expect was for the early matwork to be so engaging. Muto using the cattle mutilation was fantastic. I also think this match is helped tremendously by seeing their other matches in the G-1 that led to this one. After watching the path Muto and Chono took to get to this match, then watching them here, something is added to the whole experience. It's a near perfect combination of great wrestling and great booking that is worthy of the performances taking place. Chono comes out of this looking like a world beater, and Muto gained just as much from the tournament, showing he could beat a respected veteran, a monster and that on the right night, he could take Chono too. This is my Match of the Year right now.

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I like the G-1 Final from 1995 and Choshu/Hashimoto from the 1996 G-1 a little better, but this a tremendous match that has more heated nearfalls than almost any other NJPW match of the 90's. I completely agree with Loss about watching this against the best All Japan singles matches of 1991 and thinking how Muto and Chono would be right with Misawa/Kobashi/Kawada in terms of work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yeah, they did a masterful job of building these guys up as the two rising stars you wanted to see in the final. It's hard to watch this and not make comparisons to the All-Japan peer group. It would take another year for the All-Japan guys to hit this level in a singles match that didn't involve Hansen or Jumbo. But this was the best Chono or Muto ever got. They delivered a ton of action without blowing past the moments that called for selling or kicking out of finishers. I loved the spot where Chono rose to counter Muto's moonsault only for Muto to vault over the counter and retain the advantage. I also liked that Chono, after pulling out so many matches with the STF, had to dig deeper in his bag to win this one. They deserved every bit of applause the crowd poured on them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The flying cushions, to be replayed year after year. The 3 Muskateers together in the ring, ready to lead NJ through the 1990's. It was the glory days.

 

And before then a classic match that established the greatest wrestling tournament of them all. With the entrances and the opening this felt huge. Chono had already wrestled that night but this was going long. He actually had even more of the crowd support which was quite something given how popular Mutoh was throughout his career. I loved how they slowly built it up. Low damage moves to mid damage to high damage. This is how you construct a fundamentally sound match. Perfect pacing too and changes in momentum. It just kept getting better before plateauing at the finish. They could have gone even higher without a couple of ill advised moves toward the end. I liked how they didn't finish with the Moonsault or STF. The powerbomb worked out perfectly. Both men delivered fabulous performances, maybe Chono shaded it. A strong MOTYC.

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Seeing the growth of Chono in this tournament has been an experience, from his heatless, underwhelming match against Choshu to a guy who looks ready to carry the company on his back. The work in the AJPW 6-man may have been a bit stronger overall, but that match simply didn't have the stakes that this one had--it was a routine 6-man that happened to be longer and better than the others. This, more than anything in 1990, seemed to signal the arrival of a new era in New Japan. Choshu and Fujinami have their place but they're shunted to the background here and throughout the tournament as a whole. At this point I'm actually digging New Japan more than AJPW for the year, which I never would have expected a year ago. Sadly I don't think New Japan heavies will quite reach this high again on a consistent basis while there's still more All-Japan greatness to come. Close call but I have to put this as the #1 MOTY.

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NJPW, and Choshu specifically, balanced things well:

 

The Dome was a spotlight for the Old Guard: Fujinami over Flair, Choshu vs Tiger Jeet

G1 was a spotlight for the Young Guard: it built towards Chono-Hash and then Chono-Mutoh, with the Old Guard putting them over

 

Yet...

 

Fujinami still held the belt

Choshu won it from him in January

Fujinami & Choshu effectively "ran the table" to get their revenge

 

Which set up...

 

Mutoh's title reign

Chono's NWA Title reign

Hash's title reign

 

Build up the old guard, build up the young guard, rebuild the old guard to make the young guard getting the belt more significant.

 

Problem in there?

 

The choice to make Muta the champ rather than Mutoh. It was a pretty subpar title reign after the expectations of them finally getting the belt. It really took Hash to rebuild things, which he did far beyond what anyone (other than perhaps Choshu) expected.

 

Anyway... the way Choshu laid things out was a pretty logical way to get from 1990 to 1993/94, with one blip on the road (Muta's reign) and possibly a second (Chono's injury).

 

John

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  • 2 weeks later...

Big stare down to start. What I liked from Muto was some of those fancy looking submissions that guys put on for a couple seconds and then move on to other holds, well Muto was cranking them in for extended time. As good as I’ve seen either guy in a match. Near falls towards the end were great with a very intense crowd. Love the seat cushion tossing by fans. I don’t think it will be my MOTY but probably the best NJPW one so far as great emotion from everyone. Cool moment with Chono, Muto and Hash all in the ring together at end.

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  • 5 months later...

Superb match between these two. I agree with Loss that the mat work is what really made this match reach that extra level for me. The nearfalls were really dramatic and the switch in dynamic for the match after the piledriver to Chono on the floor are fantastic. Crowd heat is something that has been discussed recently and this would be great with a dead crowd, but this is one of the best crowds of all time and they really elevated the match and made it feel that much more special. I was glad that the first STF didn't end the match as it felt like they had more in the tank. The finish was appropriate and a sublime ending. The visual of the 3 Muskateers raising each other's arms does feel just as significant as Misawa beating Jumbo a year earlier. This is neck and neck with Warrior vs. Savage as my MOTY so far.

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  • 1 year later...

Really good match but not as good as the hype promises, I thought. Opening technical work was solid but not really next-level stuff. For example, I thought Chono could've done more to struggle against Mutoh's holds. Mutoh appears to work on the arm a little which makes sense considering it's taped and Chono uses moves like a powerbomb and an STF, but it's not really a factor afterwards. It wasn't blatantly no sold but I thought they could've done more. The finishing stretch was big and well done, Mutoh evading the counter dropkick was really cool, but I think I prefer the more intense, uncooperative NJPW matches, like Liger/Aoyagi. Maybe I'm just jaded and fed up with japanese matches that have a lot of nearfalls. Top 20 match for 1991.

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  • 8 months later...

I'm not really enough of a puroresu expert to compare All-Japan and New Japan, but this felt more like an All-Japan match to me, which isn't a knock at all. There was the same level of intensity that you'd expect from a big Hansen or Jumbo bout. It's a little more respectful, which is appropriate given the high stakes and also the fact that both men are faces.

 

Some other posters have mentioned the build, and that's very noticeable here. The matwork in the open builds to the middle which builds to the nearfalls at the end. It's all predictable in a way, but Muto and Chono execute it so well that the audience still eats it up. Each man gets his own piece of the pie down the stretch, as first Chono tries the STF twice but can't beat Mutoh, then Mutoh has numerous chances but can't beat Chono. His second try for the moonsault proves to be his undoing, as Chono raises his knees to knock the wind out of Mutoh, then powerbombs him for the win. The postmatch celebration with the flying seat cushions was awesome in the literal sense of the word.

 

I'm too partial to WarGames, Warrior/Savage, and Hogan/Slaughter Desert Storm to call this my Match of the Year, but it's certainly in my Top Five, and it's definitely my Japanese singles bout of the year to date (I've watched through late October).

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  • 1 year later...

http://placetobenation.com/countdown-top-500-matches-of-the-90s-50-1/

 

#41

 

I'm with Jetlag on this one. I thought the opening 10 minutes or so was fine, but I didn't see or feel any struggle. I see others found it very engaging, so maybe there was disconnect of some kind. Maybe out of context it's harder to connect, so it will be interesting when I return through the 91 YB to see if my opinion changes. I do like the matches garretta mentioned better, but I did think this really picked up after the opening. This is definitely a great match, but it just didn't hit me in the face as an all-time classic. I'll be back.

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  • 3 months later...

What a difference context can make, because today I was super hyped to watch this again. This tournament has been incredible, and my fandom for Chono has grown exponentially because of it. That, coupled with the Muto performances recently, I was already more invested than watching it through the Top 500 matches of the 90's. I was definitely more engaged during the matwork, and I was higher on it coming out of it. But, I'll have to watch the Hash draw again, because I still think I liked that one the best! Either way, what a tournament. I think I'd put this right under the Hash draw and the Vader/Muto match as my top three matches of the month at this point. I did like this match more than Atlantis vs. Blue Panther, which was fantastic. August has been amazing.

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I'm not really enough of a puroresu expert to compare All-Japan and New Japan, but this felt more like an All-Japan match to me, which isn't a knock at all. There was the same level of intensity that you'd expect from a big Hansen or Jumbo bout. It's a little more respectful, which is appropriate given the high stakes and also the fact that both men are faces.

This match is a clear instance where the talking point of NJPW guys working at the same level as AJPW guys during the very early 90s is true.

 

Want to see more of the tournament especially the bits with Chono based off JKWebb's comments. Chono fans are few and far between :)

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  • 5 months later...

I would agree that this entire tournament puts the 3 Musketeers right where their All Japan peers are. This match was incredible. I was engaged by the matwork despite the lack of struggle. I thought there was a certain intensity to it that worked very well. I think the thing that made it more of an All Japan match was the piledriver on the floor. It struck me as out of place in this setting (NJPW) but it works for this match and what is up for grabs. Chono looks like the most resilient guy on the planet with the 2 Hash matches and this one coming the same night as the second. He also looks like a smart wrestler who knows his opponents' moves well enough to use that against them. Although I will admit the spot that made me pop biggest was Muto jumping over Chono's dropkick as Muto came off the turnbuckle. Never seen that before and it was in a heavyweight match. I had never seen Chono's highly regarded work before the injury and now I get it. The guy had a future in front of him that we'd still be arguing about where it sat in relation to Misawa. Oh yeah, and that crowd was like Puerto-Rico-fans-for-Carlos-Colon rabid for both of these guys. Amazing stuff.

 

I will say though that this tournament being over is a happy thing. It's been pretty draining with all of these emotionally charged matches one after another.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm sure there are other early examples but this match felt like the blueprint for the epic NJPW G1 Climax style that still persists today, full of nearfalls and one-upmanship. They work through the early minutes of the match trying to establish dominance, with Mutoh going after the leg and Chono controlling the arm. It's slow, it's methodical, it doesn't really pay off in the end but there is some cool moments, especially from Mutoh. I loved him dragging Chono back to the middle of the ring in the Indian deathlock to set up the sickle hold. He works that awhile before transitioning into a dope Cattle Mutilation -- is this the earliest example of this? After Mutoh piledrives Chono on the concrete, the match shifts into the next gear, with both guys working in some bigger offense before it escalates into the big back-and-forth. Loved Chono trying to sneak in the final STF attempt but Mutoh gets to the ropes. Normally, I'm not a big fan of this layout but the build was great, both guys worked their asses off, and the crowd was buying into almost everything down the stretch. Plus, the flying seat cushions raining down on a victorious Chono.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1991-08-11-NJPW-G1 Climax] Masa Chono vs Keiji Muto
  • 6 months later...

Masahiro Chono vs Keiji Mutoh - NJPW G-1 Climax Finals 8/11/91

It is funny, I was watching this match and thinking to myself why did I like this so much a couple years ago and then it kicked me in the teeth. This match is all about build & escalation. 

First 20 Minutes: The opening matwork was perfectly solid NWA Championship style chain wrestling, but it did eventually become more important as time progressed. Chono took an early lead with a short arm scissors that made Mutoh powder. Mutoh had to go after the left arm which had a bandage around the left bicep. Mutoh did not press this instead he hit his power elbow drop for the first high spot. He could not complete his back handspring elbow and as he ricocheted off the turnbuckles, he was met with a back drop driver. Good spot that reset the match. Big strike exchange. You dont think of these two as preeminent strikers, but this came off well. Mutoh goes for the leg to set up his deathlock spot, which seems weird with the arm injury but Mutoh loves his deathlock spot. The match gets really good once Mutoh busts out Cattle Mutilation. Mutoh was bridging for whole minutes in both the deathlock and cattle mutilation, which is INSANE! Mutoh was in amazing shape. Mutoh goes for the cross-armbreaker on the bad arm. Chono boot rakes the eyes. Now it is on! Chono goes for the Yakuza kicks to the head and kicks him straight off the apron as Mutoh was trying to powder. This time Chono presses his advantage with not one, but two dives. I love this mentality. Chono was losing his grip on the match. Mutoh was dominating him on the mat and could have won the match with the cross-armbreaker. So Chono has that go for broke mentality and wants to dig himself out of a hole. He goes too far though as he hits two piledrivers, but instead of covering he goes for the STF and Mutoh scrambles out of the ring. Chono looks to put a nail in the coffin with the piledriver on the floor, but Mutoh backdrops out. It is Mutoh dragging him over into the stands that hits the piledriver on the exposed concrete. High risk leads to mistakes and now Mutoh is in control of the match. Great transition, Mutoh hits a missile dropkick in the ring and goes for the cover. Mutoh hits two more suplexes and gets a nearfall after each. Mutoh is thinking about winning. Was the opening matwork a little tedious and lacking struggle, yes, but it was NOT perfunctory. It did matter. Mutoh had to go to the arm, but he abandoned that strategy and paid for it. Then he went back to the arm and it freaked Chono out. This triggered the bombfest. Strong transitions right now and everything matters. I am really interested to see the back end. 

Last Portion: Mutoh sold really well here. Great sells of the missed moonsaults and especially the first STF. Where we left off Mutoh was in total control, the Dragon Suplex is too close to the ropes. Mutoh calls for the finish and wants the moonsault, but Chono moves causing Mutoh to crash & burn. Chono wastes no time...Yakuza Kick...STF!!! Mutoh makes the ropes and he sold this really well. Chono is now in the driver's seat. Suplexes and an Octopus Stretch as he is trying to pour it on. This is commonly reviewed as something that is done in the style 90s All Japan and nothing rings more true than Mutoh winning suplex struggle to transition back to his offense. Mutoh tries his own Octopus Stretch. Mutoh leapfrogs over Chono's counterdropkick, but they both dropkick each other on Mutoh's springboard dropkick. Chono looks for the STF, but cant apply it fully before Mutoh makes the ropes. I love that drama was in the application of the hold rather than in the hold. They do a very All Japan spot of Chono kicking Mutoh who ricochets off the ropes with a flying forearm. Mutoh hits his backbreaker...MOONSAULT...EATS KNEE! Epic sell by Mutoh, great job! Chono powerbombs him for the win!

I loved the finish...Mutoh goes for his finish...is injured...then Chono hits his for the win. Efficient and powerful. I love how every transition meant something and they did a great job building this organically from matwork to bombs to the big bombs (STF, Moonsault). I think whats keeping this from ***** is the lack of struggle, some segments were just let me hit my moves, but there was still great drama down the stretch. Chono's best match by a wide margin. I think Mutoh had better matches against Tenryu. Hashimoto vs Tenryu is better in regards to New Japan heavyweights, but this is definitely still one of the best and a real feather in the cap of both men. The future seemed very bright for New Japan in 1991. ****3/4 

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  • 1 year later...

This was good in places, but I'm overall quite disappointed by the rep that this match has. The first twenty minutes are dominated by matwork that is solid yet unspectacular. Chono is dominated by Muto. Chono landing his big boot triggers the finishing stretch to start. They end up milking way too many nearfalls and losing my attention. The crowd are HOT for this and they are the best part of the match, the pop that Chono gets when he gets the win was nuclear. This was long for the sake of being long, but the crowd ate it up at least. 

★★★

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