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[2000-12-14-NJPW-2nd Judgment] Toshiaki Kawada & Masa Fuchi vs Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka

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Toshiaki Kawada & Masa Fuchi vs Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka - New Japan PPV 12/14/00


New Japan vs All Japan delivers another classic in this tag match pitting the 2000 G-1 Tag League Winners against the All Japan stalwarts. Nagata & Iizuka come out with Sasaki and Liger immediately this match has a big fight feel. At first, Fuchi cowers away from the younger, Iizuka using the ropes to his advantage. I have never seen Iizuka match and just know him as the dude that the Steiners took liberties with at Wrestlewar '92. He has a predilection for the sleeper. Nagata tags in and brings the fight to Fuchi, who tags out to Kawada. Kawada and Nagata duke it out on the mat in a very gritty exchange. Kawada, cocky as ever, goes for hamstring stretches so Nagata kicks him in the face. The ref admonishes Nagata allowing Kawada to retaliate with a kick to the face of his own. We leave this exchange feeling both are equals. Fuchi mans up and hits a kneecrusher on Iizuka and transformed into the cockiest bastard ever. He lays Iizuka on the middle turnbuckles where he stands on Iizuka's neck and legs. Kawada puts him in a half-crab, which in typical Kawada fashion involves him stepping in his head and nearly breaking him in half. Fuchi gets in on the action by standing on Iizuka's head with the look that says "What the fuck are you going to do about it, Nagata?" Fuchi puts Iizuka in the half-crab so Nagata lights him up. This gives Kawada the chance to floor him with a jumping kick.


So now Kawada and Fuchi take turns beating the shit out of Nagata on the floor while the other keeps Iizuka at bay. That's fuckin bitchin' tag wrestling. The crowd is behind Iizuka and I love how you see Sasaki urging Nagata on while he is fallen in the corner. Nagata tries to interfere, but just collapses. You really get the feeling what is one the line here. It is New Japan versus All Japan and New Japan lost the first battle when Kawada beat their champion. Iizuka is able to hit a suplex on Fuchi and he grabs a sleeper on him. Kawada breaks it up, but Fuchi falls outside the ring. While Kawada is checking on Fuchi, Iizuka tags Nagata. I loved that sequence so much. Kawada knows he is in enemy territory and cant afford to lose Fuchi.


Nagata tells Kawada to bring it, don't sing it. Kawada hits a big boot and lariat for two. Kawada goes for the back drop driver, but Nagata gets some jumping high kicks to rock him. Kawada is just masterful at selling these. Nagata gets a German, but Kawada hits his spinning heel kick. Kawada hits the back drop driver, but only gets two. Liger cheers the kick out. This is such a cool atmosphere. Kawada applies the stretch plum and the crowd seems very nervous that All Japan will go over again. Kawada with a boot to Iizuka and goes for the powerbomb, but Nagata blocks and kicks Kawada's knee, an eye for an eye. Nagata applies the Nagatalock. Fuchi, remember that badass mutha, staggers in and breaks it up. However, both the All Japan boys end up in leg submissions. Kawada punches Iizuka in the head to make the ropes. When Fuchi is released, he collapses in the corner looking for a tag even though his not legal and Kawada is not there. I need to watch more Fuchi because after being the cockiest bastard ever he is selling like a million bucks. Not to be outdone, Kawada keeps collapsing on German suplex attempts before doing a jumping kick out of it.


Kawada tags the limping Fuchi. Fuchi dropkicks Iizuka's knee hoping to regain that advantage. He hits two back drop drivers on Iizuka. Fuchi grabs his own sleeper on Iizuka to give him a taste of his own medicine. Kawada stretch plum on Nagata and Fuchi switches to stretch plum. I love mirror spots! I don't know Japanese, but it sounds like the time calls are getting closer together. Iizuka and Fuchi knock heads on a criss cross exchange. One last Kawada/Nagata exchange and they rip into each other with vicious face slaps. Nagata ends up gets the better of it and applies a cross-armbreaker. Fuchi stands on Nagata's head to break it up as the time limit expires. WHAT A WAR!


First, my new dream team is Masa Fuchi and Tony Atlas. Whenever, Atlas played FIP they could have had Fuchi walk on him to revitalize him. smile.gif Seriously, this was a fantastic that used everybody to their best potential. They highlighted the Kawada/Nagata showdowns in such a way they came off as a big deal, but without feeling like we did not see any action. Fuchi's work in this was excellent and I really need to watch more of his stuff. I loved the Iizuka FIP, which actually became a double FIP where both Iizuka and Nagata were in peril. That was some really ingenious booking. It is the type of stuff you only get to see in puro tags. The finish was great with Kawada and Nagata trading stuff in a logical, violent fashion. I loved Fuchi's and Kawada's selling at the end. It really took the match to whole new level. The ending with Nagata and Kawada slapping the fuck each other in a race against the clock was so dramatic. It just had to end as a draw. ****1/2

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If this isn't on every ballot then I Just Don't Know. ****1/2 seems about right to me, because most of the match is in the **** range but they build to some *****-level quality. My #2 for 2000, a mortal lock for my top 15, and a really good chance to break the top 10. Something I think anyone can enjoy.

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This has oh so much going for it. One thing I noticed early was that Iizuka or Nagata vs. Fuchi on the mat is odd because both the NJPW guys work a faster pace than he does there. It doesn't work incredibly well, but it can be overlooked. Iizuka in peril is fucking gold. Fuchi is incredible as the Japanese Ric Flair. Only a bit more aggressively dickish. Iizuka, by some stroke of genius (not sure if it was booked this way or somebody came up with it on the fly, but it worked so very well) turns things around in a completely unexpected way. Kawada tags in, but Iizuka starts hitting elbows on both. Instead of focusing on Kawada, Iizuka puts a sleeper on Fuchi and holds onto it until Kawada knocks him out of it. Kawada has to go check on Fuchi, who is pretty essential to him winning the match. This gives Iizuka time to tag. Kawada ignoring the leg during the finishing run loses some points for me. The NJPW guys working over the leg was very good, especially the Iizuka sweet revenge on Kawada. I don't like strike exchanges involving NJPW guys. There's no variance or thought put into it, just two dudes hitting each other. Awesome match, this has to be top 20.

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This is a great match but I feel like an outlier because I don't think it's the classic that everyone makes it out to be. It is really great but it's still only my number 4 NJPW match for 2000 and would be even lower if I factored in other things. I guess that as much as I like Kawada and love Fuchi's performance that it isn't enough to compare with Hashimoto vs Ogawa, Misawa vs Akiyama, Tenryu's return to AJPW.

 

I do still think it's a top 50 match though. Just not a top 15-10 affair.

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Holy shit, this match is incredible especially on second watch. What really stood out to me this time was how great Kawada/Nagata's first exchange was. The matwresting was intense and organic. The best I have ever seen Nagata on the mat. The sense of urgency was there. Two dickish heels kicking the junior babyface's ass is one of my favorite puroresu themes, but this is taken to the next level by AJPW's full court press on Nagata and the incredible selling by everyone. Fuchi sells exhaustion and the sleeper better than anyone. Iizuka modulates his selling never to totally die, but also he is totally being pummeled. Nagata sells his frustration and his inability to help well. The sleeper and tag to Nagata is crazy awesome. It is just one of the best ten minute finish stretches in history with incredible selling and action. Perfect pro wrestling. The battle for the top spot has seven contestants, but there can only be one. I thought Misawa/Akiyama had this on lock, but at this point any of the seven could end up anywhere from 1-7. Love, love this match. *****

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If this isn't on every ballot then I Just Don't Know. ****1/2 seems about right to me, because most of the match is in the **** range but they build to some *****-level quality. My #2 for 2000, a mortal lock for my top 15, and a really good chance to break the top 10. Something I think anyone can enjoy.

 

Basically my thoughts on this as well. The bulk is right in that **** range but beginning with the extended Nagata/Kawada sequence through the finish this all out glory with hate, heeling from Fuchi and great work of submissions without ever devolving into stalling.

 

Definitely one I'll want to rewatch at the end to confirm its overall ranking.

 

****1/2

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I'm with Superstar. This got better on the rewatch.

 

This match is brimming with hatred and crowd heat. The wrestlers feed off of this brilliantly. It harkens back to the Jumbo/Misawa days. Fuchi is a sadist, Kawada is as intense as ever, Nagata is the defending hero, and Iizuka is the tough underdog. It is an awesome combination that everyone plays to perfection. Classic stuff

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Easily, one of the best tag matches of 2000, if not the best tag. It hits a lot of highs, never any lows, although there's a decent little plateau (mesa) in there at parts. Everyone had a role to play: Iizuka the tough underdog with a thing for sleepers, your asshole Uncle Fuchi, proud dad Nagata, and the man, Toshiaki Kawada. I really loved his messy mat scramble with Nagata to open their exchange before they start throwing each other at themselves with boots and elbows. Iizuka's on the rocks for much of the match, as Fuchi starts breaking him down at the knees and Kawada picks up where he left off with the stomping single leg crab. When he's got Iizuka in the bow-and-arrow, Fuchi pops in to stand on Iizuka's throat like a shithead. Iizuka gets bullied inside the ring, Nagata's bullied outside -- and some of his facials are incredible. At one point, it looks like he takes a little cat nap on the ring apron. On a whole, I think the exchanges between Nagata and Kawada could've used a little need a extra dab of Cholula, but whatever, it was fun. Really good selling from both Fuchi and Iizuka there at the end. There's stereo submissions from both teams, a dope dropkick to the knee by a stumbling Fuchi, and, and a final kick and face slap exchange between Nagata and Kawada to heat it up just before it cools down on the time limit draw. Draws are hard to pull off, especially tag draws, and I think this had it right for the most part.

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This was an excellent match but I didn't think it was a classic or a MOTYC. The to and fro between Kawada and Nagata was extremely exciting but the match stalled every time Fuchi or Iizuka were involved. With this and the RWTL Final fresh in mind, I can safely say that Kawada and Fuchi had very little chemistry together. In fact, Kawada more or less ignores him as a partner. After some standard matwork, Fuchi opted to work as a heel. It seemed like the right thing to do in foreign territory but the heel work was weak by Fuchi's own standards. Kawada worked stiff but didn't follow suit with the heel work so it felt like Fuchi was going out on a limb. He couldn't hang with the American big men and he can't deal with the New Japan workers without cheating. It makes you wonder why Kawada is tagging with him if he's such a liability. Shoddy teamwork aside, the exchanges between Kawada and Nagata were worthy of their own match. Nagata is one of those guys who is never as good as I want him to be but he was excellent in this. The crowd seemed warm to the idea of a singles match and embraced their one-on-one battles as though they were one. The finish was the best part of the bout. Time limit draws are notoriously hard to execute. This was about as good as it gets. The final minute was one of the most exciting things we've seen all year. Nagata was pissed at the end. He kept complaining about All Japan's "strange" tactics. That was on top of the commentator describing the bout as Strong Style vs. old-style pro-wrestling and, of course, Kawada's big win over Sasaki that had embarrassed the promotion. New Japan always wins these interpromotional feuds but it's nice to see Kawada getting the same type of treatment that Tenryu got several years earlier. It really has turned Kawada's year around and probably made him the #1 guy in Japan in my eyes. 

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Easily one of the best matches of the year. The opening mat work was perfect table setting but from the attack on Iizuka onward with Fuchi stepping on his face and drawing mad boos, this was outstanding. Some of the selling in the finale with Fuchi limping around, Kawada limping around and Iizuka being exhausted was tremendous. Kawada and Nagata were presented as the main guy of their respective teams but Iizuka and Fuchi played very important roles. The 30 min draw feels satisfactory. This is a match I have watched a few times now over a 15 year period and it has gotten better every time. ****3/4 (9.7)

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Gonna get this out of the way right now: no tag match since this match has even come close. It's the best match Nagata or Iizuka was ever in, and real high up there for Fuchi as well. It's so goddamn good. First off, the crowd is absolutely NUCLEAR as the All Japan team shows up to build upon Kawada's victory over New Japan's ace at the Dome two months prior. Fuchi is such an awesome grumpy bastard and it's clear at the start he doesn't take Iizuka seriously AT ALL. After all, why would he? Fuchi's stood against the likes of Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada...what can Iizuka possibly to do him? They run through some regular chain sequences and then Iizuka locks in a sleeper on Fuchi and SHIT IS ON NOW BOYS. We get our first taste of all four guys in the ring and all of a sudden, Iizuka isn't some overmatched punk that Fuchi can take lightly. Fuchi lets him look good on the mat before Iizuka tags in Nagata. Nagata quickly goes after Fuchi with leg kicks and HERE COMES KAWADA MOTHERFUCKERS. 

Early on in the Kawada vs. Nagata segment of the match we get both guys doing some matwork since both were amateur wrestlers. Nagata gets the best of the mat exchanges and tries to wear down Kawada with cheap shots in the corner but once the ref separates them, Kawada kicks Nagata RIGHT IN THE FUCKING FACE BECAUSE KAWADA IS THE MAN. Kawada begins blasting Nagata with strikes in the corner before we get a heated elbow exchange that ends with a really rad All Japan style 'I knock you down but you no sell and take me out' exchange with Kawada coming out on top. Both guys tag out and we get some more of the pretty rad Iizuka vs. Fuchi match up. This time, Fuchi fares better as he goes after the legs of Iizuka and works on him in the corner before tagging Kawada back in. Against Fuchi, Iizuka wasn't outmatched too badly. Against Kawada? Iizuka is toast. There's a really nasty double team submission done by the All Japan team that you need to see...good lord. The All Japan team keep fucking with Iizuka until Nagata tries to come in and save his buddy but Kawada's like nah buddy that's not gonna happen today.

Then, because again Kawada's the fucking man, he goes to the floor and attacks Nagata. The AJ team tags out and Fuchi goes over to attack Nagata some more on the floor. I like the idea of working over one partner in the ring while beating the shit out of the other guy on the floor. Kawada and Fuchi just keep kicking the shit out of Iizuka and keeping Nagata away and it's awesome. Iizuka, to his credit, doesn't give up. He tries to fight back before getting overwhelmed, but he keeps kicking out, keeps trying to fight to the corner to tag out. He manages to create an opening and lock Fuchi in the sleeper, leading to Kawada breaking things up and tending to his partner on the floor as Iizuka makes it to Nagata and the place goes friggin' nuts. 

Nagata gets some more of Kawada and Kawada controls the early part of this round. The crowd fucking loses it when Nagata hits three enzuigiris and puts Kawada down for a two count with a German suplex old. Nagata gets his leg taken out by a kick from Kawada and that seemingly halts his momentum after he'd waited so long to get back in and put so much energy into that one sequence for the near fall. Kawada drills Nagata with a backdrop but Nagata kicks out and again the crowd goes insane. Kawada locks in the Stretch Plum which pretty much spells the end for Nagata until GODDAMN IIZUKA RUNS IN TO BREAK IT UP AND EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS. Nagata stuffs a powerbomb attempt the first time, and Iizuka tries to break up a second. Ever since Iizuka choked Fuchi, it's a one man show from Kawada as he's successfully kicking the ass of both members of Team New Japan. Nagata flails his way out of a powerbomb attempt and kicks Kawada's leg as Kawada goes for a running attack. Nagata locks on the goddamned NAGATA LOCK. Kawada tries to fight to the ropes but can't get there without being pulled back. Fuchi, coming back from the dead, saves the day for Team All Japan. 

Nagata tags Iizuka back in and his first order of business is to run (well...stumble quickly) to the Team All Japan corner and take out Fuchi. Iizuka gets into a kick exchange with Kawada and due to the damage done by the Nagata Lock, doesn't get obliterated by Kawada. Iizuka hits an Exploder and throws on a leglock. Fuchi comes in to save but Nagata cuts him off at the pass and throws on a Nagata Lock. Team All Japan fight their way out of the holds after a pretty long period of time in them and Kawada tags Fuchi in after hitting an enzuigiri on Iizuka. Fuchi attempts to murder Iizuka with two backdrops but Iizuka says "FUCK YOU OLD MAN" and kicks out at two as the place goes nuts again. Team All Japan lock Team New Japan in duelling submissions, but Iizuka survives by getting to the ropes.  Iizuka fights out of a backdrop, knocks Fuchi down and both guys tag in their partners and both Kawada and Nagata come in and swing for the fences before the match ends as a time limit draw. Words cannot put this one into perspective. ANY wrestling fan should be able to enjoy this. Everyone has a clearly defined role, the story is easy to understand, the crowd is nuclear, there's a ton of drama. It's arguably the best match for everyone in this match but Kawada. Frankly, the only tag matches in the last 25 years---no you know what, the only tag matches EVER that beat this are the mid-90s All Japan epics. Nothing else comes close. WATCH THIS MATCH. *****+

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