Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
Loss

[2002-08-29-NJPW-Cross Road] Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Recommended Posts

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions New Japan (Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka) vs. NOAH (Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - New Japan 8/29/02


A big brawl erupts and looks like NOAH has smartened up to New Japan's tactics and meets them at the pass. A really good early spot sees Kikuchi having a figure-4 on Minoru's head so Liger bodyslams Kanemaru on Kikuchi three times before he releases the hold. NOAH beats the piss out of Minoru early as Kanemaru drops a boot on Minoru as he hands over the edge of the apron. Kanemaru is even puts his feet on the ropes during a pin. NOAH heeling it up that's what I like to see. Minoru is selling all the suplexes and splashes so well. How did this guy not become a junior's superstar on the level of Liger, but KENTA and Marufuji got all this press? Kikuchi taunts Liger by holding out Minoru's hand to have him tag in and when Liger gets chippy he boots him off the apron. This is some good stuff so far.


Minoru grabs his flash cross armbreaker. WAHOO~! Kikuchi gets thrown to the outside and eats a Ligerbomb on exposed concrete. He is just deadweight now. I love the puro deadweight sell on the outside. Liger applies camel clutch on Kikcuhi and Minoru puts his foot on Kikuchi's face for more leverage and the crowd pops. So do I! Minoru covers Kikuchi with one foot. This is glorious! Kikuchi catches the Liger palm strike and tags in Kanemaru. Kanemaru does some flippy shit so Liger kappo kicks him. Sit down, bitch! Minoru and Kanemaru trade ballshots in a funny exchange, which is sold for comedy. Liger and Kikuchi in and guess who wins that strike exchange. Ligerbomb is broken up by Kanemaru. Liger goes to town on Kikuchi with palm strikes and brainbusters, but Kanemaru keeps saving. Kikuchi is sucking air, dude. Somehow he catches the Liger palm strike and reverses into a German for two. He keeps hitting Germans, but Minoru saves. Kanemaru hits a brainbuster on Minoru and tells Kikuchi to finish him. Kikuchi with a modified Protobomb wins the match. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This match was more heated than the Osaka match and was about at the level of the earlier NOAH/NJ match. I liked Wataru's performance for the stiffness and Minoru's for the cockiness. I did not think either NOAH/NJ matches transcended into all-time classic status mostly because I did not think the NOAH guys were on the same level as the NJ wrestlers in offense, selling or bumping. NOAH was pretty good at heeling it up early, but then lost that feel towards the end. It is a very good match, but not a classic. ***1/2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually had this #3 for 2002, though a lot of that is because I think 2002's top cohort was pretty weak compared to 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005. The crowd is fun, the Liger vs NOAH dynamic works, and it ends when it should. Note that Kikuchi's finisher is in fact the Fireball Bomb... we just don't get to see it much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm an outlier here but I watched this yesterday for the first time and thought it was a real classic. Liger and Kikuchi both give career-level performances, Liger as a sadistic heel and Kikuchi as the scrappy but sympathetic face. Love the layout, cool opening stuff with Kikuchi taunting Liger, on to a fantastic FIP on Kikuchi, on to the junior scrubs mixing it up a bit and finishing off with the big Kikuchi/Liger clash and a very satisfying ending. Tons of cool stuff and dramatic moments and a great crowd. I have this in my top 10 for the decade right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm an outlier here but I watched this yesterday for the first time and thought it was a real classic. Liger and Kikuchi both give career-level performances, Liger as a sadistic heel and Kikuchi as the scrappy but sympathetic face. Love the layout, cool opening stuff with Kikuchi taunting Liger, on to a fantastic FIP on Kikuchi, on to the junior scrubs mixing it up a bit and finishing off with the big Kikuchi/Liger clash and a very satisfying ending. Tons of cool stuff and dramatic moments and a great crowd. I have this in my top 10 for the decade right now.

This and the 4/7 version of this match are among my favorite matches from NJPW and NOAH respectively. I could easily see both in my overall top 20 so you aren't alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is weird I feel that the April match is a level above the February and August NJPW vs NOAH matches, but it seems that I am the one who has them flipped flopped. I have the April match as my MOTY for 2002, but 2002 was a very weak year in my opinion for puroresu.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man, this match was all sorts of incredible. Minoru in peril from the outset rocks. Kanemaru's offense when he's a dick is great. When he gets all flippy floppy it's not. Kikuchi brings the never say die attitude to everything, including holding on to a submission while Liger bodyslams Kanemaru right on top of him! Liger puts on the best camel clutch I've ever seen and Minoru decides a boot to the face is needed to make it better. Minoru aping Kanemaru's mule kick to the groin spot then getting it right back is soooooo fucking great. the Liger vs. Kikuchi finishing run is great in front of a super hot crowd. This will probably be top 10 or 20 for me. Only thing to knock it out of that range is Kanemaru's incessant going to the top.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am just not seeing it guys. Gave it a second go around and I definitely underrated it, but I do not think this matches the level of heat of the first two matches, which I think are the classics of the series. The NJPW crowd was not as hot throughout and I think that has to do with the fact they basically switched babyfaces and heels mid-way through the match. I would have liked to see Tanaka and Liger get a chance to play the babyfaces in the match and from the beginning portion you think that will get to happen. Liger was by far the best wrestler in this match and he is a great heel, but it would be nice to see him play face one more time. Liger has been the best wrestler in each of these matches, but this was probably his best performance as he knew he could not rely on an inherently hostile crowd so he really ratcheted it up. I liked how the Tanaka heat segment played into that. Kikuchi and Kanemaru were dicks to him and Tanaka. So he gets outright violent to Kikuchi and actually heels himself. That's dedication! I loved the crazy stomps while he was down. The problem I had was that the rest of them were just wrestling this as a really good match not as a violent brawl. Tanaka is a great championship wrestler, but would have liked so more violence out of him. Kikuchi is a great hard working rough around the edges babyfaces. I loved his palm strike catch. The finish run was the longest of the series and finally gives us Liger/Kikuchi, but I just did not think it had the same energy as the other finish runs. It is a great match, no doubt, but not on the level of the first two matches even though this is the best individual Liger performance. ****

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NOAH vs. NJPW! Everyone acts like a heel! Liger is a disdainful prick! Kikuchi gives a top level performance! Tanaka and Kanemaru actually add to the match! I dunno, this was very enjoyable. Liger pummels the hell out of the NOAH guys and acts like a bastard, while Kikuchi is equally fired up and takes some murderous bumps and hits. The most amazing thing about the match is probably that it works while Minoru Tanaka and Kanemaru are in it. Those guy tend to be lousy, but they are effective here. Don't be fooled Kanemaru is still Kanemaru and has no presence whatsoever, while Tanaka falls into get-this-shit in territory at times, but Kanemaru hits his moves well and Tanaka heels it up nicely, so their stuff comes across as less dull than usual. The heel moves and chippiness aswell as some really fun, borderline Monterrey-like sequences keep it entertaining the whole way and they end the thing at the right time. I dunno if all that is merriting of all-time classic status but it's one of the better 2 vs. 2 junior tags I've seen in japanese wrestling that's for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seiji Sakaguchi's out there. Hey! Why don't you whisper into the mic some more? I kid! Liger comes out in some red long johns like he's my grandpa. Of course Liger doesn't have a set of false teeth like gramps has or maybe he does??what do I know? The costume change must be meaningful because he's full of the piss and vinegar I keep hearing about. What he didn't count on was Kikuchi and Kanemaru drank jugs of old apple cider too! They bring the business to the NJ Jr. belt holders. Who's tough now Liger? Hahaha! It doesn't stop Minoru from being smug and I love it. But, the story of this match stems from the man with the Rising Sun on his pants. To address this, I present a series of questions. What words does Kikuchi croak out of that cigarette and sake scarred gullet? Is it "Kill me?"Or "Maim me?" I ask this because if these are his wishes, Liger is the genie of the lamp! Oh, tag out man! We get it! You're tough!! I love it though. These men deserve a round of applause; this is the match you wanted all along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Different dynamics as this one is held in NJPW. Well, Tanaka is still an arrogant prick and Liger is still heelish as hell. This is the one Kikuchi looks kinda rough at times, especially selling some of the shots like he's Kevin Sullivan or something. Still, it's really really good but not on the level of their previous one (the NJPW early 00's jinx effect ?). It was time to shake things up a bit. Still, a more than welcomed addition, with a whole lot of Liger vs Kikuchi goodness, while Kanemaru & Tanaka compete for who can be the biggest asshole. Tanaka was smooth as hell. No wonder he got Yumi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably the most overrated feud of 2002. I can understand the appeal, and Kikuchi vs. Liger is fun at times, but people make out like this is Memphis meets juniors wrestling, or NJPW vs. WAR. It's not. Japanese wrestling was in a deep, deep rut in 2002, but just because this has some heat doesn't mean it's a golden nugget. And Minoru Tanaka is still the worst. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×