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[2001-12-11-NJPW-G1 Tag League] Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs Mike Barton & Jim Steele

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I pegged this as the best of 2001. Classic tag structure done right, a career match for Barton and Steele, and a hot finish with much better nearfalls than one would have expected coming in. Almost certainly not in my top 10 for the decade, though.

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This here was way, way, way, way better than any of those 4 names could ever make you think it would be. Early match is tepid and not a lot going on. Then the gaijin start to take apart Kojima and the fans are just waiting for the tag to Tenzan. Tenzan comes in looking like he's gonna clean this mess up, but wait. Double heat and the Tenzan segment lasts longer. Kojima takes the tag and IS a house on fire, but he ends up running into trouble again. The gaijin are worn down enough that Kojima can get a tag in to Tenzan, who is not near as good at the fiery babyface comeback as Kojima. They work around that and put together a really good ending. Barton/Steele play the role of dominating gaijin superbly here and Kojima, while not great as a singles wrestler, is really, really good as the guy taking the hot tag. In that situation his fired-up, spotty offense really works. Top 30 more than likely.

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This match isn't even on my radar for 2001, let alone my ballot. I have to say I am surprised at all the praise this is getting. Steele/Barton is such an unconvincing, underwhelming tag team that I just can't get into their so-called "domination" at the early point in the match. Technically, this is in the okay range.

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This match isn't even on my radar for 2001, let alone my ballot. I have to say I am surprised at all the praise this is getting. Steele/Barton is such an unconvincing, underwhelming tag team that I just can't get into their so-called "domination" at the early point in the match. Technically, this is in the okay range.

Same here. The FIP at least gives this more structure than the previous year's G-1 tag league final but the offense and selling are similarly flat.

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Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Mike Barton & Jim Steele - G-1 Tag Climax Finals '01


Boy, did this remind me of 80s WWF Tag Wrestling so much. The layout was perfectly fine, but it did not grip me in anyway. All four knew what they should be doing and they did it, but it was cold and mechanical. Unlike the WWF they did tack on a big All Japan-style finish run, which popped the crowd huge because 2001 New Japan very rarely used these types of finish runs. However, having watched so much NOAH, this run felt really passe. I think that's actually what is most interesting about this match. If I was in January of 2002, I may put this very high on my 2001 match of the year list because it was so different for the time period: a New Japan tag match with a double heat segment and a big finish run combined. It was pretty unique, but it ages poorly because its hook based on what is happening around the match rather than in the match. So that in 2014 I have seen so many matches done better than this that it does not stand out at all.


I didn't think this was Mike Barton (Bart Gunn) or Jim Steele's career performance at all. Unless you deem one big bump over the top rope to the floor and a left hand punch to the gut career performance worthy. I will say Jim Steele looks like an oversized version of Sean Waltman, but with none of their charisma. However, he was trying to win me over with the orange zubaz tights. Yes, this was probably Barton's best match and maybe Steele's, but he was in All Japan so it is possible he has had better matches.


Tenzan and Kojima clearly carried this match. In fact, Kojima and Tenzan have the capability to be a pretty good team. Tenzan is actually pretty good at selling and for all the shit I give Kojima he was a pretty solid hot tag because his offense was all done in short bursts. The problem is they were heels their entire tenure and I would dread Tenzan and Kojima trying to work on top. Tenzan and Kojima strike me as two wrestlers that could pushed beyond their capabilities because there was no one left and they were over.


Barton and Steele worked such a boring heat segment and it was only Tenzan's selling that kept it alive. The finish run was fun with Kojima getting killed only for a 3-D to take out Barton and Tenzan with a piledriver/moonsault combo to win. It is not a bad match. It is average work paired with a great layout and an exciting finish run that pushes it a bit above average. ***

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