Scout Report Directory

Scout Report by Wrestlingscout

All Japan 2/24/02 PPV

Nobukazu Hirai vs. Ryuji Hijikata
My first opportunity to see Hijikata (who Stuart speaks highly of) and I already know Hirai (sound, but generic wrestler) in what hopefully will be a nice lil' opener. Hijikata has good BattlARTS-style, which puts him high in my book. His kicks are especially crisp for his age, though I'd say his matwork is somewhat lacking, all and all the kid has some real potential at 23. Hirai is okay, but no one you'll ever care about seeing. Fine match, look out for Hiji in the next decade.
Rating: **

Hi69 vs. Yaz Urano vs. Gran Naniwa
Another first, make it two, here with Hi69 (Hiroki) and Yaz Urano out of the TAKA's Dojo in Puerto Rico. Some comedy opens up things and they quickly get the highspots in, which really weren't worth putting in. The three-way typical hold sequence is fine, but again nothing special. Naniwa may be the veteran here and brings something, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. Urano and Hiroki show off some very good highflying, Hi69 hitting a springing moonsault (TAKA taught him well) for the win. Again a sound mtch, but lacking on a few levels.
Rating: *1/2

Masato Tanaka & Hideki Hosaka vs. Shawn Hernandez & Kasey Geyer
I've actually seen more of the Shieks than I have of Hosaka, which seems very strange. I think everyone and their mother knows of Tanaka's excellence and that All Japan made a great folly in not pushing him. Hernandez and Geyer are a good team because one has the moves and one is bigger. Neither is bad in my opinion, but both need some polishing for sure. Hosaka makes me totally think of Johnny Smith with his look and some of his in-ring style, he seems like a solid hand, but little more than that from this one viewing. Tanaka did what he could here, but didn't seem like he was up to carrying to green baldies. Really disappointing match with everyone falling short.
Rating: *1/4

Steve Williams & Mike Rotundo vs. Tomoaki Honma & Shigeo Okumura
Two oldsters against two youngsters, sort of like the last match only the youngsters are quite good and the oldsters are quite over-the-hill by five or six years. I think Rotundo has really turned things around since becoming just terrible in New Japan. I've sadly never seen the great Honma that I always here of, but I will. The early work is okay, nothing outstanding, but solid. Honma gets the beatdown, which at least shows me he'll bump and sell very well for the Varsity Club's mediocre offense. Okumura's babyface save is really lacking because he just doesn't have that flair. Honma's return is much better and you can see the restrained talent (similar to Fit Finlay in WCW) as he's pulling his elbows, but is crisp otherwise. Honma finally gets caught alone with Doc and put away. Williams looks so washed up in matches like this and points to the sky (where his talent must have gone when it died a few years back). A pretty sad match with the youngster hardly given a bone, in fact you'd think Okumura really stunk if you'd never seen him prior. Glorified squash with very good jobbers.
Rating: *1/2

Kendo Ka Shin vs. Kazushi Miyamoto
Ka Shin gets a big pop, which he hardly deserves, but at least Miyamoto is received well. The youngster gets the early offense, which is quite good and definitely has the crowd going. Ka Shin makes his comeback though with his usual stuff, which is good, but underwhelming (a lot like him). Then Miyamoto starts no-selling, which is stopped by a low blow and a Cross Armbreaker for a quick Ka Shin win -er- squash. This was not too good for numerous reasons, the fans were into things, but the ending stunk. Ka Shin refused to break his hold and in comes Fuchi (who I'm a weirdly a mark for) and he takes the over-pushed Ka Shin down with his still excellent Back Suplexes! Then Kaz Hayashi (who I'm an even bigger mark for) make the save. Ka Shin pushes him away though and walks out. I guess the post-match was more important than the match itself, a very un-All Japan way.
Rating: 3/4*

Mike Barton, Jim Steele, George Hines vs. Yoji Anjo, Arashi, Nobutaka Araya
If the line-up doesn't tell you something about this one...I'm sorry. Hines and Araya the best of the six start things off reasonably well. Steele no longer looks like Chuck Palumbo, now it's like Super J with red hair, I think J's better though. Everyone has some time in, no one looking to good. Araya and Hines are finely back in with Georgie doing his best Rayo de Jalisco impression with the headbutts and Arashi tries to steal it by being a worthless fat guy. Things are pretty downhill, except for I don't think they ever went up hill. Then we have a cool held-up Hines getting hit with a Araya moonsault, which is definitely the highlight of the match. Unfortunately things go on for almost five more minutes before Barton hits his powerbomb for the win. Not that the end was bad, but I didn't care by that point. Really dull match with no carriers persay and too many people who just drag things down. Araya and Hines did all they could and kept this from a DUD.
Rating: *

Taiyo Kea vs. Mitsuya Nagai
Nagai is fast becoming one of my favorite wrestlers to watch, while Kea has not blossomed as well as I would have liked. These two are contending for the fifth spot here and will go after the fourth in the near future. They start with basic stuff, which doesn't get much heat. They pick things up with matwork, still no heat. Then they go to the stiff strikes, things are still pretty cool in the Budokan. After a toe-to-toe exchange the crowd gets going and I'm turned off by the fact Kea looks strikingly like Pedro Morales. The crowd gets into the ever-spunky Kea and Nagai's selling which has looked very sharp as of late. Things pick up well after this point with Nagai hitting a faux-Shining Wizard. They exhange submissions, before Nagai goes for his Hyper Knee, which is countered with a picture-perfect dropkick. Kea gets in a vicious Cobra Clutch Suplex and a mean-looking Hawaiian Smasher for the win. Hard match to rate because while the beginning was kind of mediocre, it wasn't bad, but the ending was just excellent. I expect more of these two in the future and while this wasn't bad it was below what I expected.
Rating: **3/4

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Satoshi Kojima
Koji is always awesome and Tenryu is smart in that he won't be shown up most of the time he's in the ring. Well, he'd better have his work boots on! They pick things up quickly with strikes, including Tenryu using Tenzan's Mongolian Chops, which gets a good reaction. Koji shuts him up with a well-placed suicide dive and we've got a hot crowd for a heated match. Tenryu gets some more digs in using more Tenzan and even some Koji, which the smart fans react to well. Tenryu really pounds on the youngster with endless stiff shots and nice helping of big moves. Koji took all the old man had like a man and sold as well as anyone, but knowing he's in Kawada's domain adds a little weirdness to it to make it distinct. Koji got over with his youth energy and toughness, while Tenryu is always over and they kind of gave each other the rub in the heat department. Excellent match that served it's purpose to a tee. I'm always stunned by Tenryu's ability to pull out another great match, it's Flair-esque for sure. Koji deserves credit to because unlike Ka Shin he wasn't coming into All Japan with all the fanfare and not delivering, he did and is getting his payoff sooner than later.
Rating: ****

Toshiaki Kawada vs. Keiji Muto
I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, I was dissappointed by their first battle (***1/2), mainly because the the first half was slow and relatively uninteresting. I'm not a big Muto fan, but he (like Tenryu) can turn it on at the right times. Kawada is one of my favs and why shouldn't he be? This match was to be his final return to the top. We saw a lazy Muto drag him down, despite going over, how would this turn out? After Stan Hansen sanctions things the bell rings and, of course, they open with matwork. While not bad at all, it isn't overly creative and wisely move on before it kills all their heat. Their striking finishers are respective blocked, but Muto gets a knee dropkick and will apparently get his offense in first. I've gotten bored with Muto's same old, same old, but Kawada's selling draws me in and the knee attack is well done and keeps the crowd up. Kawada finally says enough of this and starts blasting Muto with his stiff kicks! It starts to really pick up when Muto's comebacks are met with malicious kicks of all sorts. Muto finally gets going though and continues on the leg, which Kawada sells as only he can. Kawada shows his tremendous fighting spirit as continuous dropkicks to his "damaged" knee and several Shining Wizards can't keep him down. The last leg of this is spot-sell-spot-sell, but the selling is more exaustion selling than anything else. The crowd loves it though because it is exciting and very back-and-fourth. Finally Kawada goes for a powerbomb, but it turns into a GANSO BOMB! The camera angle sort of takes the edge off, but Muto sells it like death (because it practically is), but he kicks out! Muto is hit with a Jump High sell...and is powerbombed for a hot three count. Sorry to go into PBP there, but you have to hear it to understand the faults. The selling here was...interesting. The match came across as a long-running war of attrition, kind of like a joshi match on drugs. The heat was excellent though and I guess the crowd largely got what they wanted. The spots were good (except for half of Muto's Wizards), but the transitions were poor, unless you like the style they did. The abundancy of no-selling got really bad and largely hurt the match. I enjoyed this much more than their 4/14/01 match, but it was still a letdown in my view.
Rating: ***3/4

I'm not sure why everyone raves about this show, it seemed largely mediocre. The undercard was not much better than Wrestlemania X-8's though the top card matches were definitely better than the heated Rock-Hogan match and the heatless Helmsley-Jericho match. This show's undercard seemed almost as thrown together as that show's and the matches themselves were nothing special. WWF showed their inability to properly use all the talent they have and All Japan showed their lack of talent period. On both shows too many people showed up without their best games and had directionless matches. Funny how a oldster-youngster match stole the show, the difference being the WWF had larger-than-life superstars and All Japan had two unbelievable talents. The latter three matches on this show are at least worth seeing, though I'd say only Tenryu-Kojima is a classic.

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