|Scout Report Directory
Scout Report by Wrestlingscout
Puroresu 2001 Review
Yuji Nagata vs.
This is what I think a TV main event should be. Doesn't
have to be a MOTYC, but should be an above average match
at the least with none of the swerves, run-ins, unless it
is a must. Now I understand this is Dome match, but it's
also a quarterfinal and Savage-Valentine at Wrestlemania
IV wasn't near this (even for its time). This match was
just a lil' goodie with two guys not dogging even though
neither's making it past the next round. The work is
better than solid and there's a really nice slugfest
before transitioning into the finish.
Toshiaki Kawada vs.
As much as their second match is All Japan style with the
head-dropping at the end, this one is with strikes. The
work is really good throughout with Kawada giving Tenzan
a lot of offense and putting him over with his awesome
selling. Things have some nastiness to them: Tenzan busts
himself open with a headbutt, Kawada stiffs him with a
punch (maybe the best I've ever seen), then kicks the
holy hell out of him. For me I give big points on
stiffness because it makes me mark out, but then I'd rate
BattlARTS with mostly 4-stars and up. Outside of that
this was good, but their second was better, I think the
stiffness really makes this thing rock though.
Kensuke Sasaki vs.
I knew this match couldn't be as good as the first, just
because it couldn't have that unreal atmosphere and the
fact both had already been in there already doesn't help
either. Their first match was IMO puroresu MOTY,
unfortunately I haven't seen Atlantis-Villano III.
Anyways on to the match...very good, sound match. Maybe a
better wrestling match than the first, but it lacked a
lot of the stiffness, heat and novelty that made it what
it was. A clairvoyent booker would've given it to Kawada
and not taken the power out of the NJ-AJ feud. But it
didn't work and Kawada just went onto to have excellent
non-title matches with Kojima and Tenzan. The ideal
would've been to have Nagata take it off him that summer,
but nope Fujita had to have it and the angle was killed
for the most part. Sasaki winning and in the manner he
did made this so anti-climatic, though their was
definitely a big pop in the Dome. Very good match,
despite questionable booking.
Taiyo Kea &
Johnny Smith vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Masa Fuchi
Funny how the year shaped up for these for as all four
seemed to be on the verge of career peaks, but only Taiyo
Kea really got much done. Fuchi, who'd rose from the
dead, returned to his grave. Smith, never really looked
like the world class worker in anything I saw. Then
Kawada was simply booked out of top spots. Nice lil'
finish after a really solid match, which showed 2001
would be a huge year of growth for young Taiyo Kea.
Silver King, Dr.
Wagner, El Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Koji Kanemoto,
Lots of junior excellence here, if you had Otani and
Lyger in there you'd have 4 of the best junior
tags...hell best tag teams period. I don't know if there
are two better brothers in wrestling than Dr. Wagner
& Silver King. This is just balls to the wall
purolucha trios action at its best. Hmmm who was the
best? 1. Silver King was the most the dynamic and got the
most heat on his stuff. 2. The abominable Dr. Wagner
looked just awesome, even if you hate the no-selling, you
gotta love the tongue sticking out of the hood. 3.
Kanemoto was in really good form here and I never
understand why he's not more well-received. 4. El Samurai
can't have a bad match only less good ones and this was
very good. 5. Tanaka never looks that great in six-mans
if you ask me, but he was his usually very good self. 6.
Takaiwa kind of disappointed me as he seems to bring a
good powerhouse junior role, but was under-used here.
Excellent match overall.
Shinjiro Otani vs.
Excellent match with more traditional psychology and
strong heat then I'd expect from a Sasaki match. Though
Sasaki had proven to be capable when he won the title,
this was the only title defense really worth anything.
Otani, the junior turned heavy, works over Sasaki's
lariatin' arm really well and does it like a heel. Sasaki
fights him off and fights back to retain. The finish
build was very good, but the actual finish seemed kind of
mild. In spite of that this thing gave Otani a lot of
creditability that he took elsewhere and gave Sasaki his
last very good traditional match of the year.
Naohiro Hoshikawa vs.
Hoshikawa proved to me here that he's the type of junior
that can make anyone with a shread of talent look better
than they are. Marufuji, though still a lil' green, has a
beautiful moveset and is able to look like a million
bucks here. The pacing is perfect, the moves used are
dead-on and the finish is excellent. Marufuji's break
through match was something else and Hoshikawa proved his
awesomeness as well.
Jun Akiyama &
Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Yuji Nagata & Shinya Hashimoto
Very cool main event in what was a year of dream tag
matches like this one. Zero-One and NOAH could have had a
better union with things like this, but it crumpled and
we only got a few awesome junior matches out of the deal.
Misawa-Hashimoto is the draw here as two giants of the
90s from AJ and NJ respectively meet in a tag match,
since both have moved on with their own new companies.
Nagata and Akiyama hold down the fort with an excellent
match between them with Hashi and Misawa thrown in, but
never together. They meet a few times, but without the
real face-to-face encounter we really want. This is more
to build a future singles blow-off between the two that
never happened. Misawa pins Hashi in the end...a win
Hashimoto has yet to mend. A solid main event and a dream
tag match for sure. Work was good, but largely
underwhelming, mostly because of unfamiliarities. These
dream tags will draw and be good, but the top four guys
in a promotion (i.e. Misawa/Kobashi-Kawada/Taue) should
be able to have the better match.
Taiyo Kea vs.
Genichiro Tenryu (Clipped)
Bald, energetic Kea and grizzled, not-yet-grumpy Tenryu
have a dandy of a young/old battle. I liked this feud,
but it was sort of third rate with the wrong booking a
lot of the time. It is hard not to compare this to
Tsurata-Misawa (maybe my all-time favorite feud) as
neither of these guys ever were or ever will be IMO on
the level with those two. Tenryu is slow, yet methodical,
which can be a bore much of the time he's in the ring,
some opponents make it work well though. Kea is spunky
and hustles a lot, but still limited in his young age.
This was a good match with the right outcome, just
without a strong finish.
Taiyo Kea vs.
Genichiro Tenryu (Clipped)
Better than the last match, mostly because things are
worked smarter. Tenryu isn't going to be bumping around
much, so you've got to use better psychology. They did so
with Kea attacking Tenryu's knees. Not as well done as it
could've been, but sound. The booking killed this though
with the same outcome and not for the sake of surprising
us because Kea never got his big win.
Keiji Muto vs.
Slow match with some matwork and headlock stuff before
Kawada drops Muto with an ugly-looking back suplex. My
brother always thinks it's funny how Kawada always sells
stuff well even if his stuff is stiffer and the other
stuff is sort of weak. He'd sure put the Rock over...or
not. And I've said it before and I'll say it again - I
hate Muto's selling, it seems nonchalant and too much
like EVERYTHING dazes him. Kawada totally seemed like the
man here, doing everything much better than Muto, who got
put over in the end. Muto may have been WOTY, but Kawada
just seems to be in another league talent-wise. After
Muto targets the knee (over halfway through) this match
really gets good, like MOTY good, but the first half was
so mediocre and the finish is kind of weak, that it's
hard to give it MOTY standing.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs.
A totally weird and predictable final that really
should've been Misawa-Akiyama. I really dug how much
Takayama stepped it up and I can't believe he wasn't
elevated more afterwards as a result. And it's matches
like this that show me just why I sometimes think Misawa
is selfish, but it's more he's "that damn
good." Unfortunately NOAH's stuff just seems so
sub-All Japan, even though it is often very good to
excellent, it just never hits that next echelon that so
many AJPW matches are on. The matwork is the best I've
ever seen out of Misawa, though I think if he and
Takayama had gone a more UWFI route this thing would've
been unique and probably just as good, if not better. The
finish is very good and the heat is good then, when it
Naomichi Marufuji vs.
Though they dont compliment each other as well as
Marufuji and Hoshikawa did, these two top juniors show
why they were chosen to set the tempo of the show. I'm a
huge Marufuji mark and his look and style really draw me
into his matches. As for Takaiwa, Ive always had a
soft spot for Shinjiri Otani, so liking his balding
partner came naturally. The two definite play the game of
give and take as they successfully get the others
style over as well as their own. Marufuji's Springboard
Moonsault Suicida maybe the most exciting highspot of the
night and Takaiwa gets all his heavyweight-style moves
in. Despite the stylistic differences, they have an
awesome pace that seems full-tilt for the whole match. It
seems short, but its like a Benoit-Guerraro Nitro
match - you know you wont be disappointed in spite
of the length of it.
& Takeshi Rikio vs. Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari
With the storied past between Hashimoto and Ogawa, it
just made sense that he and UFO protégé Murakami get
involved with Zero-One. The end of the first PPV ended
with a pull-apart that involved Misawa, Hashimoto, and
both UFOers. While Hash was not involved this time,
Misawa brought in NOAH wrestler, Rikio, to team with him.
Misawa-Hashimoto seemed to be somewhere down the line,
but that is a dead issue now. Murakami, who looked like
the bad ass heel he is, pounded the crap out of Rikio.
Misawa played the hero and his stiff elbows worked to
level the playing field. This had a similar ending to
Hash/Iizuka-Ogawa/Murakami with Ogawa distracted on the
floor as his partner is finished off. This had a tinge of
the Ogawa-Hashimoto charm, but Misawa's star made it
shine differently. Another pull-apart ends a Zero-One PPV
with Misawa and company facing off against Hashimoto and
Ogawa, who are shoulder-to-shoulder!? The heat was
through the roof throughout the match and even though it
was kind of short and Ogawa-Misawa was never really
fulfilled, it was an exceptional match and an intense
Minoru Tanaka vs.
This gets my vote for junior match of the year. I've only
ever seen Murahama in a wrestling ring once and I was
kind of underwhelmed, while Tanaka is my favorite junior.
After hearing all the hype and not knowing if it'd live
up to it. This ended up being my personal favorite of the
year. This was one of the few pro-wrestling meets MMA
matches that clicked so well and should be an archetype
of the style. It had stiff strikes (including hardway
blood), realistic submissions, great matwork, a hot crowd
and a strong finish. This is one of the most complete
matches I've ever seen. The only flaw, in my opinion, was
the underdone story (could've been a huge deal with
Murahama's DEEP background). Otherwise this was gold and
I'd contend one of the greatest junior and/or shoot-style
matches to date.
Akira Hokuto vs.
It's matches like this that make me wish I had the time
and money to follow joshi. This is so good and without
question a MOTYC. After only seeing ARISON's
mediocre-to-very good stuff, this blew me away. Hokuto is
still a crazy lady, whose still awesome and Satomura is
pretty great in her own right. The stiffness of this is
what gets me, good gawd someone should been Iizuka'd
here. This thing has a great finish and should make
non-believers of joshi open their eyes to its supremecy.
If I knew and was into the backstory I may give this
Momoe Nakanishi vs.
Another awesome joshi battle with a cool highflyer versus
shooter gimmick that I really dug. Nakanishi is like a
modern day Hokuto with all her craziness. Maekawa has
that shooter appeal that I get into when done by someone
this talented. This is cool little match that had me get
my first taste of Maekawa and continued my adoration of
Nakanishi. I liked her more in the Ito match (a few
matches down), but prefer Maekawa as a bully-type.
Kauro Ito vs. Yumiko
A very good street fight by all accounts. I prefer mine
shorter, but this has joshi appeal in that it's
ass-kickin' and garbage appeal in that it's violent.
These two gals fight all over the building and it's
almost like an ECW Falls Count Anywhere match minus some
of the usual flaws. There's a fair amount of protection,
but they still beat the crap out of one another with
ladders, tables, chairs and stiff strikes! I tend to feel
joshi matches go about an extra 15 minutes, but this one
seemed beyond that, the brutality just keeps going and
going for over 50 minutes! I wish I was fully into the
story, but it does stand well by itself.
Hayabusa & The
Great Sasuke vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Mr. Gannosuke
Unlikely a handful of the matches here I get to see
(luckily I usually have a good memory) the backstory. I
really like music videoes, but as I've realized with a
lot of my late 90s WWF, I can't always remember things
and that makes video packages much better. This way you
can see Masked Sumo turning, bicycle attacks, doll
explosions and Mr. Gannosuke in street clothes. On to the
death match, which is like an octogon cage with land mine
barrels...I'm not a big death match fan, sorry. Most of
the match is Hayabusa/Gannosuke, which is quite good and
Sasuke/Kuroda, who don't click half as well. The
beginning was this was kind of plodding as death matches
often are, but the middle picked up really well and the
last big explosion was tense and cool (though I preferred
Sasuke's top con hilo sending himself and Kuroda into the
cage). The last leg is quite good as well, though
one-sided. I liked this match and I'm sure it was one of
FMW's best of the year, I just don't think that's saying
a lot though.
Tetsuhiro Kuroda (176 Bomb Deathmatch with Guest Referee
The saga continues into a blow-off death match, which may
be recognized as Hayabusa's last very good match (not
that I'd actually know). Fuyuki is the guest ref in his
unique striped shirt and the ring is wired for death.
They do the early explosion teases, which gets the crowd
into a slow start. Then it turns into a nice wrestling
match before the well-done first explosion. The second is
very smartly done as well, logically evening up the
damage. Then the third one is the the ref bump from hell
(guess that explains why to have a guest referee).
Finally we have them face an explosion together and it's
still even. The last portion of the match really makes
this match since it is exceptional good. Kuroda kind of
hurts it with his damn no-selling, but that's just his
thing. One of the better explosion death matches I've
seen with a *** wrestling match and some excellent
psychology and uniqueness to it.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs.
Yoshihiro Takayama (Shootfight)
An cool shootfight for pro wrestling fans, which Pride
loves catering to a lot of the time. Takayama was
obviously overmatched from the beginning and looks
out-of-shape, but was game throughout. This was Fujita's
big Pride main event and his last match from them for the
rest of the year!? Takayama proved to be more interested
in looking good than winning, which is often all it takes
in Pride. He takes a beating though.
Keiji Muto vs.
One of the overlooked gems of 2001 that was quite good.
The Muto-Kojima relationship is well known and Muto made
his boy look really good here. I forget the storyline
around it other than it is BATT-Team 2000, but that
doesn't matter as much. This was my first experience of
seeing Koji look just awesome as a single and this was
just one of Muto's classics of the year that was all his.
Jushin Lyger vs.
Minoru Tanaka (Best of the Super Juniors VIII Finals)
The early 90s versus the early 00s, too bad other
promotions can't have matches of this caliber with that
theme. Lyger, who was voted #1 by the DVDVR boys, showed
why in an outstanding BOTSJ and this was the crowning
moment. I'd argue Tanaka looked better though with a
perfect offense and the best arm attack psychology I've
seen out of him. This blew me away when I saw it and
every time I rewatch it I get wondering about the best
junior match of the year.
Minoru Tanaka vs.
A very good match as I expected it would be. I knew the
submission stuff was going to be excellent and this was
the first Tanaka match one of my friends saw and he was
really into it. Tanaka showed that he can work any style
very well and this was a cool shooting junior meets UWF-I
hybrid that clicked, despite the briefness of it.
Toshiaki Kawada vs.
The match that made me a big Kojima fan as I hadn't seen
him as single since like `99. Yes, I know Kawada could
wrestle a broom, but Kojima really showed he was more
than half of TenKoji. Personally I preferred
Kawada-Tenzan II, since it was more AJ-style. This seemed
more NJ-style to me, which isn't bad, but doesn't play to
Kawada as well. An excellent match and I'm postive 2002
will give us and even better battle, probably for the
Triple Crown and I can't wait.
Keiji Muto vs.
The legendary Muta-Hase bloodbath is one of my favorite
New Japan matches and I was intrigued in a rematch nearly
a decade later. Instead of lots of color, this match has
lots of matwork and it is as awesome as the the first one
was bloody. Hase really looks like a million bucks and it
his age that's really saying something. It was just
another stellar match for Muto in an excellent year. The
fact that this match went as long as it did is a true
credit to both men and it was really the best pure
wrestling match on an outstanding show.
Kazayuki Fujita vs.
Yuji Nagata (IWGP Championship)
In my opinion this match could have totally changed the
direction of New Japan and headed away from Inokiism and
back to the wrestling we all love. Instead, Fujita won,
fell to Crocop, got injured and was replaced by Yasuda.
Nagata's loss dropped him down, but faith was put back in
him by giving him the G-1 Climax win (over Muto
nonetheless), then gambled away all that by throwing him
a shoot with Crocop and he lost, now he must be rebuilt
again. All those facts aside, this is IMO the best
shoot-style match New Japan has done. Nagata shows he can
carry people in even that style, which should have made
him a top star and protected one as well.
Yuji Nagata &
Shinya Makabe vs. Masahito Kakihara & Mitsuya Nagai
(All Asian Tag Title Tournament Finals)
A really weird, but good match. Seems funny to see Nagata
in All Japan and it not being a bigger deal and even
stranger is that he was on a losing team. Perhaps even
more bizarre is Kakihara (now a top NJ junior), not Nagai
(a rising AJ heavyweight) challenging Nagata. The few
Nagata-Nagai exchanges were good, I think they could tear
the house down in a singles match. I do however like Team
Strongs though and I don't know if anyone has a catchier
theme then they do. Young Lion Makabe makes a good
showing, but being the weakest link costs his team.
Toshiaki Kawada vs.
After having a very good match in the IWGP Title
Tournament, these two met in a much better rematch in
front of an All Japan crowd. I think these two match up
wonderfully as they have similar body types are
reasonably close on talent, but clash well in image,
style and level. Though it was shorter than what I
thought it would be, Tenzan looked very good, even taking
those scary Dangerous Back Suplexes of Kawada. I think
New Japan losing Tenzan would have been a huge coup for
All Japan as I think he showed here that he can work the
style very well and bring a little modern flavor to it in
Keiji Muto vs.
Genichiro Tenryu (Triple Crown Championship)
Perhaps no match this year had a better story behind it
than this one. Tenryu seemed to be getting by on savvy
and Muto was a hot commodity. I dont think anyone
was surprised by this title change and it proved to
elevate the Triple Crown and the promotion behind it
some. This match's place in history will be quite
prevalent, so it is fitting the match itself was of this
high-caliber. My only drawbacks were Mutos selling,
which Ive never been too keen on and I think the
finish could have been better. Not to say it was a bad
match because it is was widely voted as MOTY, which it is
deserving of for sure. These two veterans worked hard and
showed people why experience can make up for a youthful
Dragon Kid, Ryo
Saito, Ricky Marvin vs. Susumu Mochizuki, Yasushi Kanda,
I liked the lucha-isms in this match as I'm a big fan of
the setup of the matches with the three-falls, which this
didn't have but used the psychology. The early work was
pretty typical with a break-neck speed that boggles the
mind. I preferred the later fast work, but it was all
good. Saito seemed underused, but did an excellent job
selling the rudos' second advantage. Luckily Marvin's
weaknesses were well-hidden as he did little more than
his exciting spots, which is fine. All in all this was a
pretty basic lucharesu six-man with awesome hieghts and
one brief low. This was my favorite match in what was an
awesome Toryumon PPV top-to-bottom.
Magnum TOKYO vs.
Masaaki Mochizuki (British Commonwealth Junior
The main event of Toryumon's awesome July PPV. Though it
was kind of short for a main event, but action-packed, so
it didn't matter much. A few imperfections, but nothing
so bad you'd really remember them, so again they take
little away from things overall. The ref-bump, weapon
use, and interference are the real big detractors in this
one. At least the bump was cool with Magnum ducking an
enzugiri. The weapon was the stupid plastic blue box,
which no one can take seriously. Lastly the M2K boys got
involved and so did Okumura, but in defense they didn't
cost anyone the match like so much WWF. Faults aside,
this was a well-done match and fitting of the top spot on
this big show.
Keiji Muto vs. Steve
Williams (Triple Crown Championship)
Seeing I didn't see Muto's Chono or Hall matches, this is
probably the second worst TC match I've ever seen.
Williams' limitations are dealt with quite well and he
really brought his "A" game. Despite his broken
down clumsiness and overconfidence, Dr. Death knows at
one point he was one of the best big man going. I'd still
rate him ahead of Norton because he seems more carriable
and I am always surprised by Doc's selling. This match
had a nice little ending and fans of Williams will see
what I imagine is his last good match.
Yoshinari Ogawa vs.
Michael Modest (GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship)
Unfortunatly I haven't seen Modest's best matches, but I
know what he can do for certain. Ogawa has long been one
of my pet peeves of puroresu as I think he's totally
overpushed and undeniable underwelming. This was just
dynamite though with Modest displaying the bulk of skill
and Ogawa picking his game up significantly (probably so
he wouldn't get showed up by a new gaijin, even though he
was). Modest has that deep indy moveset, though his is
much more polished, while Ogawa is an All Japan vet, so
he can sell a beating. This was just a fun match, in
which Modest's years of hardwork paid off.
Mitsuharu Misawa vs.
Jun Akiyama (GHC Heavyweight Championship) I had
mixed expectations for this one and gladly was able to
see a Top Ten MOTY for certain. I thought Misawa worked
his tired ass off and Akiyama did his part, but let
Misawa have his day. I dont recall their 2000 match
as well as their 1998 one, which I thought this was
superior to for sure. Complaints first: bad heat for a
match of this magnitude, too many elbows for my liking
(Im estimating in the high twenties), and that
Super Tiger Driver was enough to burn half a flake off my
rating. The psychology was there and so were two of my
favs: Kobashi and Nagata. I think anyone who knows these
two know **** is not asking too much. I hate to dock
points for not living up to potential, but when its
of this caliber it must done. In comparison to
Muto-Tenryu, who were working above their level, these
two were slightly below.
Satoshi Kojima vs.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (G1 Climax)
I always get a kick out of mocking tag team partner
matches by saying "Team So-and-So Explode" to
mock WWF's Wrestlemania V's "The Mega Powers
Explode" line. Well when TenKoji explode they do it
in the form of a classic match and to add coolness to it,
it's all in competitive spirit and in fact these two went
on to have their tag best match in December. This had
that dynamic, them both being heels and two of the
company's best workers to make this one of the year's
best natural angle matches. The early work is overly
clean for these too, but it quickly picks up and turns
into textbook New Japan strong style. These guys really
work on each other and sell beautifully before finishing
this baby off with hot nearfalls as part of an excellent
Yuji Nagata vs. Keiji
Muto (G1 Climax Finals)
In a year of exceptional matches, this one stands out as
the only significant one Muto lost, but it was after his
bout with Tenryu his best. I actually enjoyed it more
because the story involved my favorite heavyweight
getting a huge career win and it was so long due. The
early work was the puro-shoot stuff I really enjoy and
these two knew how to do it right. Then it progressed
into typical Muto with Nagata getting his moves in there
and a hot contest being built in the process. The finish
is good and the crowd loves it, Nagata was the man here
and showed he's ready for the top spot in New Japan.
Great Sasuke &
Tiger Mask IV vs. Jado & Gedo (IWGP Junior
Heavyweight Tag Championship)
One of the few MPro matches I saw for last year and it
was not a letdown at the least. Everyone in there looked
super and worked the kind of match one would expect from
these three. Tiger Mask showed why he can be considered
the best junior in the world, Gedo and Jado showed why
they're junior rudo extrordinaires and Sasuke showed he's
still something awesome to watch. This was put together
very well with classic Southern tag matched wrapped in
& Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru &
Zero-One versus NOAH...sounds good to me. Hoshikawa is
absolutely awesome, Takaiwa is a great powerhouse junior
and this was my first good taste of these NOAH juniors'
capabilities. I wasn't surprised that this was good, but
I have to admit I didn't think it'd be quite so good.
Hoshikawa's shooter/junior style and Takaiwa's Van
Halen-esque music have always made me like them, but
Kanemaru and Shiga made me a believer in them as well.
This is what Zero-One's undercard should be like and
NOAH's too for that matter, perhaps the best junior tag
match of the year.
Momoe Nakanishi vs.
Kaoru Ito (WWWA Championship)
In all her awesomeness, Nakanishi can be hard to watch
because she is so reckless with her body who knows what
state she'll be in in a few years. Ito plays the big
bully here and though I'm unfamiliar with her, she seemed
quite good at that role. Momoe is just busting with
talent though and her big bumps, screaming selljobs and
perfect highflying make her the typical joshi face,
though she does everything twice as good as many of the
girls. This match has viciousness to it, you only see in
joshi and makes you want to watch more and more!
Yuji Nagata vs. Osamu
A fun match that some liked a lot, namely my buddy
Brandon Thurston, but one others didn't really enjoy as
much, me and Dave Meltzer. I've had a hard time taking to
Nishimura's retro-style and I think it blended oddly with
Nagata's shoot-style. This had very good matwork though
and had me marking out for it. Few workers in the world
could do a match this scientific and keep a crowd
interested, but these two are top of the line grapplers.
Satoshi Kojima &
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Mitsuya Nagai
My favorite tag match of the year not surprisingly had
TenKoji, New Japan's super-team. The set up here is
similar to NOAH's stable tag matches with the #1 & #4
taking on the #2 & #3. Kawada played the unbeatable
veteran while Nagai was supposed to be the weakest link,
a role he filled that role well as he is really the
lowest star here. Tenzan played #2 and Koji played #3 and
it all meshed beautifully. Kawada acted as a big
brother-type for Nagai, who would do good, but not good
enough. I loved the psychology here, tag match psychology
is often underdone, here it was dead-on and made for a
Satoshi Kojima &
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu
Nishimura (IWGP Tag Team Championship)
Another very good TenKoji match, only here their record
tag title reign came to an unlikely end. After beating
numerous great teams, they fell to the underdog due of
oldman Fujinami and unestablished Nishimura. It was a
well-done match with the underdogs using fast tags early
to work on Tenzan, then Nishimura got caught and became
TenKoji's prey for what seemed like just another win,
until Koji's lariat is ducked and the retro-wrestler wins
with a rollup! Fuji was kept out most of the time, which
was smart, while the three rising stars did their thing.
Cool psychology and big match for Nishimura.
Susumu Mochizuki vs.
Ryo Saito (NWA Welterweight Championship)
As much as you've got to be disimpressed by Toryumon's
turn towards a "sports entertainment" style,
they still have great stuff. Here two of their best
up-and-comers really steal the show in classic injured
face versus ruthless heel battle. Susumu takes Saito's
knee apart like Bret Hart with an inflated moveset. The
psychology is so basic, but works very well and they bust
out purolucha creativity to give us a dandy of a match
(minus the interference).
Darkness Dragon vs.
Dragon Kid vs. CIMA vs. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Magnum
TOKYO (Five-Way Gold Net Cage Match)
A cool lucha adaptation by Ultimo here, since I've saw
many cage matches on AAA last year, but more often than
not they were total messes (as in once the referee
Tirantes lost the match?) anyway this is not one of
those. The use of 3 teams with 2 men each is cool and
makes for interesting psychology. Inevitably you have to
leave 2 technicos and 1 rudo or vice-versa, then one
escapes and you've got something interesting:
technico-rudo, technico-technico, rudo-rudo, I've seen
all three and think it's usually you have to balance best
story and adequate talent above all. It continued the
TOKYO-Maasaki feud, but I think Dragon Kid (with his mask
on the line would mean more). This had interference as
these matches tend to have (at least it wasn't Vatos
Locos using torches), which probably annoyed some, I
think it has a place here. I dug the finish and the
revenge match will have to attract the girlies hehe.
Seriously, this is the best multi-way cage match I've
ever seen because these guys can work one better than
straight luchadors and that made the difference.
Kensuke Sasaki vs.
Intense. Exciting. Ogawa-free. You can say a lot of good
things about this match, which was Kensuke Sasaki's big
return after a pretty long hiatus. This is a very good
shoot-style match, despite the strange and I'd say
incorrect booking. Fujita's reputation was gambled and
they lost, in which case you have to push someone else
and Sasaki should've been that very person. He showed he
was excellent at working Inokiism and if he had become
the champion a short while later, imagine how good a
shoot-style match between he and Nagata could be. It
would have perhaps stopped Inoki's "mediocre shooter
over very good wrestler" garbage. Nevertheless it
was stiff and fun, which makes for a classic in this
often poorly executed style.
Jun Akiyama &
Yuji Nagata vs. Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase
This seemed like quite the dream match, except we all
knew who the fallboy was unfortunately. Kind of cool to
have 2/3 of the major champions and the G-1 Climax
winner, not to mention a senator! I was kind of
underwhelmed by this though, while no one looked bad,
this coulda/shoulda been a top notch battle like Kawada
& Taue vs. Misawa & Kobashi/Akiyama or Kawada
& Fuchi vs. Nagata & Iizuka. The end sequence was
excellent though and makes up for a lot of it's
mediocrity. First Nagata hooks the Nagata Lock on Hase,
bringing in Muto, who makes the save, but is quickly
kicked into next week by the G-1 winner. Hase ducks one
of Nagata's kicks and Muto springs off his back hitting
the Shining Wizard, then Akiyama catches him with one,
but Hase catches him with a Uranage from hell. Hase hits
a Northern Lights Suplex on for a nearfall on Nagata, who
comes right back with a Suplex of his own and Nagata Lock
II, then Muto is caught in Aki's Scissored Guillotine.
Then the two youngsters attacks the old man with a series
of suplexes for the win. Great finish with the youngsters
going over by just beating down the veterans with
strikes, submissions and suplexes!
Heath Herring vs.
Antonio Noguiera (Pride Heavyweight Championship Fight)
Perhaps Pride's best fight of 2001 and arguably the best
MMA fight of the year as well, though I'd personally say
Couture-Rizzo was better due to its drama. This one
displays more skill and is more important in shaping the
company. Though these two were not the biggest stars,
they offered up an outstanding battle that stole the show
in what was supposed to be Sakuraba-Silva's.
analyist at http://www.wrestlingscout.com/