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[2001-10-08-NJPW] Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase vs Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata

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GHC Heavyweight Champion Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata vs.

All Japan Triple Crown Champion Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase - Tokyo Dome 10/08/01


You have three hottest commodities in puroresu in this match and Hiroshi Hase. Of course, I thought Hase was the best worker in the match. smile.gif New Japan is continuing to put over Nagata as their new pro wrestling superstar having him hang with All Japan's and NOAH's champions. NOAH followed up Akiyama's red hot 2000 by making him the second GHC champion putting him over Misawa in July. Mutoh resuscitated the crippled All Japan promotion by reinventing himself completely in the ring. Also Mutoh placed a runner-up in 2001 G-1 climax losing to rising superstar, Yuji Nagata. Mutoh is looking for some revenge and has his buddy, Hase as back-up. This match also served to hype the main event to 2002 01/04 Dome show where Nagata was going to challenger Akiyama for the GHC Championship.


They were definitely trying to deliver a big Dome main even match, but I thought they fell short of the mark. The body of the match seemed perfunctory and an obligation before they started to bust out finishers in the grand finale. Mutoh wins an early chain exchange with Akiyama by hitting a dropkick and posing which got a pretty good reaction from the crowd. The Mutoh and Hase have much better continuity as expected and this affords them an early advantage as Mutoh scores his style elbow and begins some leg work. Nagata and Hase exchanged some pretty good slapfests when they needed to and Nagata was clearly the most protected wrestler in the match. Hase had a chip on his shoulder and he was working the hardest to sell and bump for his opponents even selling on the apron. Hase is supremely smug as he re-enters and then does the giant swing to a big pop. They tease the exploder off the apron, but Mutoh does the dragon leg screw off the apron and dropkicks the knee. I love that combination so much. All of sudden it is breaking loose in the Tupelo Dome as we get the double figure-4 for Mutoh and Hase. Mutoh hits his franekensteiner and moonsault combo for two. When I watched this, I could have sworn the match was more even, but reading my notes it seems like Mutoh and Hase dominated. Hase gets a little cocky after rolling Germans and a backbreaker. He slaps Nagata. Nagata hits an overhead belly to belly. Melee ensues. The spot of the match is Mutoh stepping on Hase's back to hit a Shining Wizard on a standing Nagata. Hase follows up by head dropping Akiyama and hitting his Northern Lights Suplex on Nagata. However, Nagata and Akiyama are able to wrangle Mutoh and Hase into double submission holds. The finish is Akiyama hitting his jumping knee twice and Nagata dropping Hase with a back body driver.


Honestly, I watched this match twice once about a month ago and again two nights ago and this review does not really reflect my perception of the match. Akiyama and Nagata definitely struggled more and got in more offense, but my notes paint a picture of Mutoh & Hase domination. Neither time did I think the match was all great so I am not going to rewatch it again anytime soon, but I wanted to be honest about this review. Outside of a big Hase performance, it felt like Mutoh by the numbers with a fireworks finish. It was definitely most disappointing Akiyama match so far. ***

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I have very little good to say about this match. Hase was fun, as always. Mutoh getting pissed when Akiyama hits a dragon screw on Hase was pretty cool. Akiyama hitting a shining wizard, akward as it did look, on Mutoh was alright. The rest was...ugh. Early match was filler. More than that it was bad filler. Akiyama was pretty much made to look like he couldn't handle himself all that well on the mat, while Nagata had counters to the old guys stuff more often. And we wonder why Akiyama ended up falling flat when this is the kind of crap he had to deal with. The story, seemingly, was that the old wily vets weren't taking the young guys' shit. After a really long snoozefest of a match with a few bright spots, some chaotic stuff and a really short finishing run. How did this match make the list?

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This got a tiny amount of super-high support and nothing more, which is the case with a lot of Mutoh's work. I think this is a passable 'dream match' with a couple of nifty moments, but oh my goodness does it not belong in a best-of-the-decade conversation.

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I think I may have hated this more than dawho5. One of the worst matches nominated for this project, probably because I like Akiyama so I had higher hopes than I would have had for TenKoji vs Nagata/Iizuka. It's so sad that this is the NJPW that people supported in the Purotopia polls and not legitimately awesome shit like Hashimoto vs Ogawa. Man, I wish I hadn't been too busy to nominate stuff.

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They was trying to pull off this big epic dome dream match but this dragged. The grappling and counter grappling went on forever. It picks up a little  when every guy hit signature moves (Shining Wizards/Sambo Suplexes) but it dies down quickly. Really disappointing to me because this was Mutoh's midas touch year and expected so much more.

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