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Scout Report by Wrestlingscout
New Japan TV (6/4/01)
An excellent New Japan television show, better than any you'll see in the US in ten years, where teams dominate, except for three singles matches, two being MOTY candidates. From up-and-comers and luchadors to team wars and the best juniors in the world, New Japan seems to have it all. Though the undercard matches are mediocre, the top two are as good as it gets.
Kenzo Suzuki & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Wataru Inoue & Katsuyori Shibata - All these guys are talented youngsters, who are just trying their hardest to look good on the biggest show of the tour. They use a lot of basic stuff along with some good tag wrestling. I've seen veterans do much worse high-profile matches. The big lack here is the crowd is not into the match at all, unless there is something surprising. Four guys just show their wares and that's all.
Shocker, Silver King, and Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. El Samurai, Gran Naniwa, Chris Candido - As a fan of lucha libre, this match is a real treat for me. Dr. Wagner Jr. is the premier luchador and though he is not half of what he is in Mexico, he is still pretty good. El Samurai and Gran Naniwa can both work a lucha style and Candido's a comedian, so this match is pretty good. Wagner and Silver King work together so well, probably because they're brothers, but they really make this match, but everyone seems energetic and the match has good, lucha-like flow.
Rating: ** 3/4
Shiro Koshinaka, Robbie Rage, Shinya Makabe vs. Michiyoshi Ohara, Hiro Saito, Super J - Nice mix of veterans and youngsters in this one, which always makes things interesting. The two gaijin powerhouses do their thing. Makabe & Ohara do their's. It is Koshinaka though, who is a sworn enemy of Team 2000 who has to perform in this one. The crowd does not seem very into it, even though the Team 2000 boys are doing all the heel tactics. Makabe definitely was the MVP of this one, though Koshi had the crowd.
Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka vs. Yutaka Yoshie & Osamu Nishimua - Clearly this one is grappling and striking with a few tosses in there. Iizuka is my favorite of the bunch, but he didn't seem to flow well with Yoshie, but he and Nishimura had some good exchanges. Though the finish came out of nowhere, it was surprising and pretty cool.
Tatsumi Fujinami & Super Strong Machine vs. Masahiro Chono & AKIRA - This match was disappointing for me. SSM always seems boring, but I thought the other three could overcome him. AKIRA seems like the fall-boy for Team 2000's opponents way to often, I always want to see him do his thing. Even though he's in his twilight years, Chono is still good at selling, drawing heat, and he still takes some big bumps. Once SSM is out and Team 2000-Fujinami take over the match gets better, but not exceptionally good. Fujinami goes over AKIRA with the Dragon Sleeper big surprise.
Yuji Nagata vs. Tadao Yasuda - I just can't stand Yasuda, he's everything that's wrong with an "Inoki relationship." He is a bad NHB fighter, worse pro wrestler, and the fact he gets pushed at all is disgusting. Nagata on the other hand is the man, he is my favorite in New Japan and has been since his WCW days. He is good at carrying Pride stars, but a Pride reject? Yasuda's sluggish attacks are answered with a slap (which I marked out for). Finally Nagata kicks the hell out of him and slaps on an Achilles' Hold for the tap out victory.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi - Here's just your second tier stars going head-to-head. I like Tenzan, but only when he's with an opponent I like and I'm not a big fan of Nakanishi. The match is pretty basic, but has the crowd into it for sure. It looked like the WWF with lots of weak brawling that the crowd was really popping for every time. Then they go to holds, but end up brawling again. Finally the match picked up when Nakanishi hit a big Overhead Belly-to-Belly. Then the momentum shifts back and fourth as they exchange some nice counters, which really make this match stand out. Finally, Tenzan grabs a dazed Nakanishi, hits the TTD, and gets the win.
Keiji Muto vs. Satoshi Kojima - Two of New Japan's most awesome wrestlers, Muto and Kojima continued the BATT-Team 2000 war in this exceptional match. The slow start was fitting with some nice standup and mat work with Muto getting the nod. Kojima finally transitioned into brawling and back to the mat, which meant Muto's knee became public enemy #1. Muto answered right back and attacked the young star's knee. Then the match became a toss up with either man getting choice shots in on the other's hurt leg. Kojima had a huge burst with a powerbomb followed up by a lariat and then an Ace Crusher from the second rope. Muto answered right back with one-legged chops and then a Scissored Sleeper. Back and fourth it continued, but neither man was willing to give an inch. Kojima hit a Lariat as a last ditch effort, but was frankensteinered over and caught with the Shining Wizard for a Keiji Muto victory. Former teacher and student put on a tremendous show, though it was cut kind of short. Interesting post-match angle, where Kojima protects Muto from Team 2000 and storms out of the ring.
Jushin Lyger vs. Minoru Tanaka - The finals of the Best of the Super Juniors VIII features two contrasting juniors, but they show why they are in this final slot. Tanaka, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, comes out first and looks ready to rock. Lyger, the veteran and legend, follows and goes nose-to-nose with his junior opponent. Obviously the bringing is relatively slow, but builds the drama. Lyger grabs a hold, Tanaka counters it, Lyger escapes. Then Tanaka catches him with a Cross Armbreaker Takedown, which does its damage. The young technician goes after the arm and shoulder with stomps, kicks, and a Fujiwara Armbar. The veteran answers back by directing his offense towards Tanaka's knee with knee dropkicks and a Figure-Four. Youthful exuberance takes over and Tanaka picks it up and really works over the arm. Lyger courageously fights back with an explosion of moves, but Tanaka bounces back and it's an even battle again. Then he catches Lyger in another Cross Armbreaker, which breaks down the junior heavyweight great's left arm. He is still a game competitor and fights back with his shotey, kappu kick, Lyger Bomb, and Brainbuster. Minoru Tanaka's selling is really good here and suddenly applies a Cross Armbreaker out of left field. Lyger's continues to sell the arm like death as he drags himself to the ropes. Tanaka decides to hook his leg with a Reverse Leg Lace that Lyger struggles to escape. Tanaka, who is clearly tired, looks to put on yet another submission, but Lyger catches him with two consecutive Brainbusters for a miraculous victory. He is given his check and trophy and the other members of the tournament congratulate him in the ring.
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