Ohtani & Takaiwa vs Tanaka & Kashin, junior tag titles, NJ 1/4/00. I enjoy the style difference, as the champs rely on impact moves while the challengers rely on submissions.
Liger vs Kanemoto, junior title, NJ 1/4/00. Poor Koji.
Tenryu vs Sasaki, IWGP title, NJ 1/4/00. People talk a lot about the matches these two had against Kawada in October. And with good reason; both of those matches are great and MOTYCs. This match is a step back from the epicness of the October bouts, but I think it's still high-end and well worth viewing to add context to what came later. For starters, this is easily Sasaki's career singles match to date. A textbook "Tokyo Dome" style bout: lots of stiffness, not much downtime because they don't have a bunch of time to fill, and a solid home stretch that ends when it should. First standout of the 2000s!
Ohtani & Takaiwa vs Wagner & Kanemoto, NJ 2/1/00. Normally with a 'lead-in' tag, there's a weak link on the team going against the champs. Not so here, which means either the junior tag champs lose or a big-name opponent does.
Hiro Saito vs AKIRA, NJ 2/4/00, JIP. AKIRA is able to get an actively good effort out of Hiro!
Tenryu & Koshinaka vs Sasaki & Kenzo Suzuki, NJ 2/4/00. Can Tenryu beat a good match out of baby Kenzo? Yes. Yes he can.
Ohtani & Takaiwa vs Wagner & Kashin, NJ 2/4/00, JIP. The masked duo ended Ohtani/Takaiwa's first reign, and now they're back for another round. Despite being non-title and mid-tour, they use a lot of bombs and keep the action coming right to the end. The show takes place in chilly Sapporo during the winter and sadly the crowd is similarly cold, but even they get drawn in down the stretch. The finish is almost botched, but all things considered the fact that it's pulled off is a real accomplishment when you consider the physics involved.
AKIRA vs Kanemoto, NJ 2/20/00. I think at this point AKIRA was considered a heavyweight, meaning he had an edge over Kanemoto despite having considerably fewer accomplishments. Thankfully this would be just the start of AKIRA taking on junior technicians.
Tiger Mask 4 vs Minoru Fujita, MPro 3/4/00. Fujita, a big underdog, does more than give TM4 all he can handle. 138 MB.
Minoru Tanaka vs Ikuto Hidaka, BattlArts 3/25/00. These two match up pretty darn well, what with the slick moves and the grappling and the submissions and so forth.
Tomoaki Honma vs Jun Kasai, Big Japan 3/26/00. Honma is a deathmatch icon, whereas Kasai has done jack-all. Honma has an extra year of experience. Kasai fights a good fight and gets some nice 'young lion' nearfalls, but then keeps going on, until you wonder if maybe he has a chance after all. Honma does a great job here. 73 MB.
CIMA vs Ricky Marvin, J Cup 2000. Now that's a sprint.
Teioh vs Usuda, J Cup 2000. Some swank counters, mostly thanks to Men's.
Great Sasuke vs Naoki Sano, J Cup 2000. To reiterate: Sano will kill you. The fact that you are Great Sasuke, and the fact that you have a history of skull fractures, does not change this.
Hiro Saito, Tatsutoshi Goto & Ohara vs Ohtani, Kanemoto & Takaiwa, NJ 4/25/00, 2/3 falls. The crowd gets behind the talented juniors over the heavyweight slugs, and this gets pretty good as a result.
Liger & Tanaka vs Ohtani & Kanemoto, NJ 4/30/00, JIP. The four top juniors go at it, though sadly we only get the final minutes. Liger had been on a tear, dropping just one fall to a junior so far in the year. Does Ohtani have what it takes to put him away, or will Liger's black suit powers net him another win?
Ohtani vs Tanaka, NJ BOSJ '00, slight clipping. It's a mid-tour show at a non-major area that isn't taped for TV. Yet these two put on a good effort and get the crowd rocking by the end. I especially like how they escalated from feeling-out to finishing run in the middle.
Kanemoto vs Takaiwa, NJ BOSJ '00. If only it was complete, this looks like a heck of a match. Kanemoto takes it to Takaiwa and has control most of the way, but nobody is better than Takaiwa when it comes to hitting big moves in the clutch.
Tanaka vs Fujita, NJ BOSJ '00. Scrawny MPro product Fujita does a fine job of hanging with the more accomplished Tanaka.
Ohtani & Takaiwa vs Kanemoto & Tanaka, junior tag titles, NJ 6/25/00. This is perhaps THE 'hidden gem' match of the 2000s, to the extent that a full version didn't hit the English-speaking world for about ten years. The JIP version on TV made it seem fine but not special. The whole thing reveals that it's one of the best junior matches of the decade (by my reckoning at least), with a hate-filled first act, a strong home stretch, and (for the billionth time) an appreciative Korakuen crowd. These teams produced a doozy in October '99, and here they deliver what ended up as Ohtani's last great juniors match. I wouldn't put it on par with the ultra-great top few bouts of 2000, but it's up there, and I expect most anyone will enjoy it.
Kawada vs Fuchi, All Japan 7/1/00. The two veteran loyalists do battle in the wake of the split. Fuchi takes quite a beating but shows that he's ready for the responsibility waiting for him in the coming months. Differ Ariake once again brings the non-heat.
Liger, Samurai & Kashin vs Ohtani, Kanemoto & Takaiwa, NJ 7/11/00. This six-man is a reliable matchup. This match is an especially good version of it, with Samurai's hometown fans bringing a ton of heat.
Kawada & Tenryu vs Hansen & Kea, All Japan 7/23/00. Tenryu's return! The best match of Kea's career by far! All Japan's attempt to keep its fans loyal in the first post-split Budokan show, and it's a heck of a main event. Boatloads of punishment, big bumps, and a breakthrough for Kea.
SUWA vs Dragon Kid, hair vs mask, Toryumon 8/24/00. The #2 man in Crazy Max and the #2 man in Toryumon's babyface group were natural feud material. Add in SUWA's attitude and bullying style, contrasted against Kid's small build and fan-friendly moves, and this really was an ideal matchup. SUWA controls most of the way and lays out by far the best singles match in Toryumon to this point. They run an angle halfway through to add to the drama, and that gives the second part a could-end-any-time feel. Not an epic for the ages, but something that most any wrestling fan can easily enjoy.
Chono vs Fuchi, All Japan 9/2/00. New Japan's top heel invades! Nippon Budokan backs Fuchi to the hilt! Fuchi has added a deadly facelock to his arsenal, but is it enough for him to get what would be by far the biggest win of his life?
Kanemoto & Tanaka vs Liger & Makabe, IWGP junior tag titles, NJ 9/12/00. Main event on the first taping of the SXW program, and it just might be the best match that show has ever had. Makabe is a shockingly effective underdog, clearly out-gunned against the champs but yet having enough power and energy to surprise them at key moments. Liger is still in black but had finally ended his superhuman gimmick, and he makes for a great hot tag. One of the better matches of 2000!
Hashimoto vs Fujinami, 10/9/00. This match is weird. Hashimoto was 'retired' a few months earlier, then was supposed to come back in humiliating Young Lion garb. Instead he wears the usual and they start to wrestle an incredibly dry match. I've clipped through that to the meat: they get incredibly pissed off and start stiffing the daylights out of each other. And a few months later Hash was gone from the company. Wrestling can be funny sometimes.
Sasaki vs Kawada, NJ 10/9/00. This match is the definition of 'dream match'. Kawada comes in as the representation of all things All Japan, while Sasaki has dominated New Japan in winning the IWGP title and G-1 Climax this year. Sasaki's entire career changes HERE, as he takes part in his first great singles match in ages and learns how to work all over again. Kawada once again shows what he's made of in guiding the normally pedestrian Sasaki to a picture-perfect dome war. Stiff as hell, paced nicely, incredibly important. What more can you ask for? 262 MB.
Manami Toyota & Kayo Noumi vs Kaoru Ito & Miho Wakizawa, AJW 10/15/00. Evenly matched, with a headliner and a midcarder apiece. A mix of comedy, action and their respective roles makes this good clean fun. Waki takes a rude bump near the end that I think the crowd misses, and she also misses a splash in extra-painful fashion.
Kong vs Yoshida, Arsion 10/17/00. See here's why Aja Kong is Aja Kong. She can go at Yoshida with strikes, with power moves, and Yoshida's submission advantage isn't even much of an advantage because Kong's got skill there too. Yoshida has to rely on punches with her gloved hands in order to faze the joshi juggernaut and get in significant offense. But are punches enough to set up the Spider Twist, or will she fall as countless others have before her?
Kawada, Koshinaka & Fuchi vs Chono, Tenzan & Saito, AJ 10/21/00. Team 2000 invades! Koshinaka, All Japan dojo grad and Chono nemesis, follows! A fun follow-up to Chono vs Fuchi.
Tenryu vs Kawada, Triple Crown decision match, All Japan 10/28/00. This was Tenryu's best singles match in years, is possibly the best post-split Triple Crown match, and it's an absolute grade-A demonstration of how to base a full-length title match around striking. What a slugfest.
Hoshikawa, Yakushiji & Tsubasa vs Togo, Buffalo & QUALLT, Osaka Pro 11/6/00. Dick leads his LOV stable into battle. He's so thick that it stretches the video! Okay maybe not. After all these years the agility of tubby Togo is still impressive. Yakushiji busts out the Bruce Lee outfit for some reason, and even more surprisingly he utilizes a shoulder hold. Not on the same level as high-end MPro but there's still too much talent for it to fall below 'good'.
Kaoru Ito, Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi vs Mima Shimoda, Etsuko Mita & Kumiko Maekawa, AJW 11/23/00, cage match. Whole team must escape to win. Good match with a craaaaaazy finish.
CIMA, SUWA & Fuji vs Magnum Tokyo, Dragon Kid & Genki Horiguchi, Toryumon 11/30/00. Generally fun with an unfortunately murky finish. Fuji and Horiguchi make this with their personalities.
Tenzan & Kojima vs Nagata & Iizuka, NJ 11/30/00. Finals of the tag league. TenKoji won the round-robin matchup with a TTD on Nagata. Both wrestled previously, and not in short matches or at the start of the card, so they really show their stamina. Why there wasn't a rematch is beyond me.
Kawada & Fuchi vs Tenryu & Araya, AJ Tag League 2000. It takes a while for things to get going, and the crowd is kinda bad, which doesn't help. I mean, how is Fuchi measuring and delivering punches to Araya's face NOT the sort of thing you react to? Having Tenryu barely in for the first 2/3rds of the match isn't a good idea, and there isn't much urgency to how Araya gets worked over. However there is some payoff in the last third as Tenryu tells Araya to man up. The finishing run is hot (or else I wouldn't have liked it enough to host). Araya eats a *mean* backdrop driver.
Liger & Samurai vs Takaiwa & Makabe, NJ 12/10/00, JIP. Exciting final minutes as Makabe Miracle Run 2000 continues.
Tanaka vs AKIRA, junior title, NJ 12/10/00, JIP. AKIRA's first title shot in years and years. Really a breakout performance from him with all sorts of brilliant technical spots, something that became his specialty. Tanaka can get down on the mat too. Real shame this is missing the start because it looks like one of the best matches of 2000.
Kawada & Fuchi vs Barton & Steele, AJ Tag League 2000 semi-final, JIP. The crowd reaction is night-and-day better than it was three nights earlier. Fuchi has such good selling and mannerisms, like flailing while on the verge of taking a suplex. It really is something to see how much better Barton and Steele were as a team than before (and there wasn't really an 'after'). They have ring sense; notice how Barton reacts when Kawada shows some vulnerability. Dig that finish! Shame it got clipped by a third.
Liger, Minoru Tanaka & Makabe vs Delfin, Murahama & Tsubasa, NJ 12/14/00. Osaka Pro invades! Shoot-stylists Tanaka and Murahama collide! Makabe tries not to mess everything up! Plenty of heat and hate to warm you up.
Kawada & Fuchi vs Nagata & Iizuka, NJ 12/14/00. Oh this match. How can I praise it? The best match Iizuka has ever been in. The best match Fuchi has been in since '93 and maybe '91. Likely the best match Nagata has ever been in. It's got so much going for it, and if you're any kind of puro fan you owe it to yourself to watch this.
Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Takaiwa & Makabe, NJ 1/4/01, JIP. This is in the same vein as the junior tag title match with Liger in Takaiwa's place. Makabe is in for the most time and gets put over quite a bit once again. Even though Makabe's moveset doesn't fit in with how one thinks of New Japan juniors, Kanemoto and Tanaka adapt just fine to a focus on striking over highspots. Not that there aren't highspots...
Sasaki vs Kojima, IWGP title tournament round 1, NJ 1/4/01. Kojima comes in with a good gameplan and keeps finding ways to go back to it. Problem is, at this point he isn't someone with the kind of firepower to hang with Sasaki as things escalate. Can strategy overcome their gap in brute force? 140 MB.
Mutoh & Ohtani vs Nakanishi & Liger, NJ 1/4/01. Mutoh is in the midst of crafting his current persona, but lacks a few key elements. Liger is in the midst of de-powering from his 2000 no-sell-a-thon. Ah, but the real story here is Ohtani, returning from an excursion with newfound bulk. Some big ol' bumps are taken for the Tokyo Dome crowd.
Nagata vs Tenzan, IWGP tournament round 1, NJ 1/4/01. Sasaki vacated the title after his match with Kawada, so there's a 1-night tournament to crown the new champ. Winner of this match gets Kawada. Hmmm, well they built Kawada vs Nagata up in the tag in December, and Nagata/Iizuka beat TenKoji in the tag league final, so the winner is fairly obvious. Right?
Kawada vs Tenzan, IWGP tournament round 2, NJ 1/4/01. Kawada had a bye, Tenzan went through the roughest first round match. Yet as this bout progresses one gets the odd sense that Tenzan is the fresh one, Tenzan is the one with energy to spare, Tenzan is the one destined to win. Kawada senses this too and gets desperate down the stretch.
Kawada vs Sasaki, IWGP tournament final, NJ 1/4/01. Not on the same tier as their first match, but in the context of both having wrestled earlier that's to be expected. While the October 2000 battle had the feel of a typical drawn-out heavyweight match, this one has more urgency and a sense that it could end at any time. Plenty of heat throughout as a result, and HUGE heat in the final minutes.
Ebessan vs Kamen, Osaka Pro 1/7/01. An early iteration of the comedy matchup. Lots of themes and gags that would either become staples or get played off of down the line, be it for their matches together or Ebessan/Kikutaro by himself. About 2/3rds of the way through they settle down and get serious.
Murahama, Tsubasa & Arkangel vs Black Buffalo, Gamma & Daio QUALLT, Osaka Pro 1/7/01. Not overpowering greatness by any means, especially the middle. But what seems like a run-of-the-mill midcard 6-man does manage to build to a good finish. I really like how the ending uses 'angles' in a way you almost never see.
Liger & El Samurai vs Delfin & Monster Zeta Mandora, Osaka Pro 1/7/01. Zeta would become Big Boss MAGMA, and then Magnitude Kishiwada. Anyway, this match is all about HATRED and INVADING and MORE HATRED.
Tenzan & Kojima vs Sasaki & Liger, NJ 2/3/01. The match starts with the most interesting pairings. Tenzan/Liger is a battle of long-time backstage friends, and Sasaki/Kojima is a battle of Choshu disciples. The former leads to Liger getting chippy, and Liger adds the most to the match (no shock there). TenKoji lost three times in the year-end tour and lost their first non-title match as champs, so a loss here is hardly out of the question when they're facing the heavyweight and junior heavyweight aces.
Kanemoto & Tanaka vs Dr. Wagner Jr & Silver King, junior tag titles, NJ 2/3/01. Wagner and King, real-life brothers, have appropriately good teamwork. Kanemoto & Tanaka are a quality team, but the challengers are on another level entirely. Huge finishing run.
Nagata, Iizuka & Nakanishi vs Kawada, Fuchi & Araya, NJ 2/3/01. More NJ vs AJ battling!
Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka & Takaiwa vs Dr. Wagner Jr, Silver King & El Samurai, NJ 2/18/01. Samurai's theme is so BOSS compared to what Kanemoto's team uses. We get the junior tag from two weeks earlier with Takaiwa and Sammy added; I have to give the advantage to Team No Mask given that this is 2001 rather than the mid-90s. But this being New Japan, anyone can beat anyone! And indeed Samurai does NOT end up being the loss post here. Fairly standard action most of the way, and 'fairly standard' with this level of talent means it's very solid. Last quarter delivers the excitement that YOU want from junior heavies.
Marufuji vs Hoshikawa, Zero-One 3/2/01. Not only the first match for the promotion, but also a huge coming-out party for Marufuji.
Hashimoto & Nagata vs Misawa & Akiyama, Zero-One 3/2/01. Main event of the Z-1 debut. A dream match that delivers, with tons of hate and stiffness and then some more hate.
Kawada vs Nagai, All Japan 3/3/01. A match that can be summed up thusly: stiff. Ungodly stiff.
Tenzan & Kojima vs Steve Williams & George Hines, All Japan 4/14/01. Here's an interesting match: the gaijins are huge babyfaces because they're taking on a New Japan team. TenKoji was reliably good and the crowd heat really seems to give everyone a boost.
Kawada vs Mutoh, All Japan 4/14/01. Not only is it a dream match, but it's also the breakout match for Mutoh's "Shining Wizard" persona. Kawada sells great to put over Mutoh's strategery.
Otsuka vs Sugiura, Zero-One 4/18/01. Two guys with a ton of legit ability go at it in a short bout with a super-intense finish. Sugiura looks awesome for a 4 month pro.
Takaiwa vs Marufuji, Zero-One 4/18/01. Ah, Takaiwa butchering Marufuji. A timeless classic.
Misawa & Rikio vs Naoya Ogawa & Murakami, Zero-One 4/18/01. Super-hot, lots of interpromotional hate, Murakami takes huge bumps, this isn't one to skip either.
Chono & Hall vs Nakanishi & Yoshie, New Japan 4/20/01. This bogs down at times, but Hall does enough entertaining things for me to link this. Also I have a soft spot because this was one of the first puro matches online.
Sumo Fuji vs Ryo Saito, Toryumon 5/12/01. Nicely done big-versus-little matchup.
CIMA & TOKYO vs Mochizuki & Kanda, Toryumon 5/12/01. Toryumon's top stars team up, but can they be half as good a TEAM as the nefarious M2K-ers?
Fujiwara & Fuchi vs Nagai & Kakihara, All Japan 5/20/01, some clipping. Fujiwara and Fuchi rule SO HARD that I'm actually happy they clipped out most of the younger team's offense. So much ruling.
Tanaka vs Shibata, NJ BOSJ '01. Nifty little bout as young Shibata shows his shooty side.
AKIRA vs Wagner, NJ BOSJ '01. Wagner will NOT stand for having his Super Juniors eligibility questioned! He starts lobbing bombs straightaway and also manages to do the most damage on the mat. AKIRA only remains competitive by use of some dastardly tactics, and he does get some big shots in whenever he's able to halt Wagner's momentum. Will trickery or brute force win the day?
Tanaka vs AKIRA, NJ BOSJ '01, JIP by 1 minute. In the same vein as their 2000 match, so if you liked that you should like this. And if you haven't seen their 2000 match, how come? Huh? You too GOOD for it? With your popped collar and your gelled hair and your spray-on tan and your tight abs and your Axe™ body spray and your Coors Light™ and your text messaging and your Nintendo Wii™ and your Facebook™ page and your "hooking up" and your lawyer daddy who'll make sure you don't go to jail if your fake ID/pot-selling business gets exposed. You sicken me. And give back my chocolate milk.
Black Buffalo & Tsubasa vs Gamma & Daio QUALLT, Osaka Pro 5/29/01. Tsubasa & Buffalo, aka. Infinity, started teaming two months earlier. These teams met in April during the company's tag tournament with Infinity coming out on top (Tsubasa over QuallT with a 'rana). However, Gamma & QuallT won the tournament and in the process became the first Osaka Pro tag champions. The match struggles to get momentum in the middle but do they pull off a hot finish.
Liger & Samurai vs Delfin & Murahama, Osaka 5/29/01. Murahama has done quite well for himself in adapting to pro-style, but he did just fall short in an IWGP junior title challenge. Can he redeem himself against a very tough New Japan tandem, or is he still beneath the likes of Liger?
AKIRA vs Makabe, NJ BOSJ 2001. Shinya Makabe: master of arm locks! And no, I'm not kidding, YOU will be yelling at AKIRA to tap out to Makabe arm submissions. New Japan's 'anyone can beat anyone else in a tournament' booking style really helps add drama; ten years earlier AKIRA benefitted from it, and now as a veteran he's vulnerable to it.
Liger vs Silver King, NJ BOSJ '01. Silver King, who nobody thought would make an impact on the tournament, can go to the finals with a win here. He demonstrates a grasp of Japanese taunts and English profanity, which I think is good enough to qualify as tri-lingual. He nails top-rope backflips and moonsaults entirely too well for a man with his build. He's in there with Liger, but this is the Silver King show all the way.
Dr. Wagner Jr. vs Minoru Tanaka, NJ BOSJ '01. Hardly any junior heavyweight can pull off being dominant as thoroughly as Wagner. He's got a balanced, diverse attack. He can more than hang with Tanaka from a technical aspect, he's a better flyer, and he's far stronger. The winner moves on to the finals; can Tanaka find a way to beat the odds?
Tenzan vs Nakanishi, NJ 6/4/01. Nakanishi has been ahead of Tenzan for years now, including making him tap to the rack in a playoff during the previous G-1. Tenzan hasn't had a title shot in almost three years and is looking to show he's more than just a tag wrestler, while Nakanishi will fight to the last to keep what he's earned. 128 MB.
Fuchi vs El Samurai, NJ 6/6/01. Fuchi has been a veritable punching bag in the interpromotional war to this point. However he's mostly been up against heavyweights. How does the symbol of All Japan's junior division fare against one of the New Japan junior mainstays? More importantly, why couldn't they have gotten like ten more minutes to rock the mat?
Kawada vs Kojima, NJ 6/6/01. After eight months of carrying New Japan's heavyweight division, *Kawada* is the lesser man in a match. Kojima's charisma and energy shine through, and this is a top 5 career match for Koji. One of the last .wmv files I don't plan on replacing!
Nagai & Kakihara vs Nagata & Makabe, AJ 6/8/01. For the vacant All Asia tag titles, this is during the 'Makabe in good matches is a shock' days and the 'Nagai, Kakihara and Nagata in the same match equals good' days.
Kawada vs Tenzan, AJ 6/8/01. Kawada's all, "sell my offense dammit" and Tenzan's all "I don't wanna" and Kawada's all "fine" and he dumps Tenzan directly onto his neck. I love Kawada.
Tenryu vs Mutoh, All Japan 6/8/01, Triple Crown. The two of them had locked horns three times in the last three years, with Tenryu winning two and taking the IWGP title in the last iteration. This is much more important than the others. Not only is it at the largest venue (a sold out Nippon Budokan), but it's one of the highlights of the New Japan vs All Japan feud. 'Shining Wizard' Mutoh and 'grumpy old man' Tenryu were both peaking, and the end result is a bout that has plenty of charm and a big-match feel. One of the best matches of 2001.
CIMA vs Magnum Tokyo, Toryumon 6/10/01. Last ten minutes of a long match, thus this is the portion where they're throwing everything they have at each other.
Kawada & Araya vs Tenryu & Fuchi, AJ 6/30/01. I'm an Araya mark, I'm not ashamed to admit it. He's not the greatest athlete, he's fat, he's dumpy, but he TRIES HARD and he'll take a beating like a man. Speaking of man-sized beatings, Tenryu/Fuchi is a pairing of magnificent bastards who will beat the snot out of you from bell-to-bell. Kawada delivers the stiffness and selling that make him an all-time great. Korakuen Hall delivers the heat that makes it my favorite venue. An '01 hidden gem.
Arai & Apache vs Horiguchi & SAITO, Toryumon 7/1/01. After years of listening to Japanese announcers, I find myself picking up on a lot more of the little phrases that get slipped in. For instance, Apache acknowledging the crowd is called "fan service". I will not get into how that term could apply to other Dragon System matches. Apache/SAITO is a wonderful lucha-tastic pairing, and Apache's punches are wonderful in a completely different way. It's weird, I don't like lucha from Mexico, but I much prefer when Ultimo's trainees used more of the lucha influence, and I have no problem with luchadors in Japan. The highlight of the match is a spectacular dive by stocky Apache.
Susumu, Kanda & Darkness Dragon vs Dragon Kid, Ricky Marvin & Ryo Saito, Toryumon 7/1/01. Marvin, having shown his stuff in MPro, moves on to another stop before landing his extended gig at NOAH. Kid and Darkness build towards their climactic battle the following year. And Susumu uses a move that is dangerous to begin with, let alone a running variant...
Hoshikawa vs Hidaka, Zero-One 7/12/01. It's appropriate that these two mesh, since they both went through MPro and Battlarts. Hoshikawa has over 3 years more experience (almost twice as much at this point), but he took longer to really get going so they're similarly ranked. They had two rematches that go along similar lines to this: Hoshikawa has kick-based offense and Hidaka is good at doing damage to the legs. There's a specific way Hoshikawa sells the leg that's my favorite thing he does.
Ohtani vs Masato Tanaka, Zero-One 7/13/01. Tanaka's first big match in Z-1, while Ohtani is still looking for his first pinfall in Z-1. They went at it several other times over the years but this is my favorite.
Kea & Smith vs Tenryu & Anjoh, tag titles, All Japan 7/14/01, JIP. Tenryu and Anjoh are both tremendous PRICKS and TREMENDOUS pricks. Any match where the legality of repeated punches to the face comes up is a good one, in my book. Please excuse the finish.
Mutoh vs Williams, Triple Crown, All Japan 7/14/01, some clipping. Williams' last big match. Fun in some unexpected ways.
Kamikaze vs Masato Tanaka, Big Japan title, BJPW 7/27/01, JIP. Tanaka is by far the biggest name to go after the title, and Kamikaze has never beaten anyone of his stature. Something has to give.
Tenzan vs Liger, NJ G-1 Climax 2001. Does BOSJ winner Liger have what it takes to hang with the big boys? Will Tenzan's power overcome the experience and grit of one of his teachers? Hot hot finish! 155 MB.
Tenzan vs Nishimura, NJ G-1 Climax 2001. Technique against brute force.
Chono vs Tenzan, NJ G-1 Climax 2001. They shake hands before the bell, signifying a clean fight between long-time partners. However that isn't to be, as one blindsides the other to start. The attackee eventually gets dirty to come back. These two aren't particularly stiff, spectacular, or good on the mat; but they have enough charisma, trademarks and ring sense to piece together a good match with a big big finish. Loser is all but dead in the tournament.
Kojima vs Liger, NJ G-1 Climax 2001. Crowd wants Liger to win! You want Liger to win! Most importantly, Liger wants Liger to win! Kojima can't afford to let that happen!
Tenzan vs Kojima, NJ G-1 Climax 2001. Final round-robin match of the tournament. Kojima makes the semifinals with a win, while Tenzan needs to win to show he's still the leader of their team. These partners hold nothing back. 225 MB.
Han vs Fujiwara, exhibition, RING 8/11/01. Yes, this needed to happen in the mid-90s rather than here. Yes, this needed to be a full match. And yet it's still HAN AND FUJIWARA DOING STUFF.
Magnum Tokyo, Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito vs CIMA, SUWA & Fuji vs Mochizuki, Kanda & Darkness Dragon, trios titles, Toryumon 8/14/01. If you are any kind of fan of the Toryumon/Dragon Gate/lucharesu style, you must see this match. Absolutely stellar sprint.
Jado & Gedo vs Sasuke & Tiger Mask 4, IWGP junior tag titles, MPro 8/19/01. It's weird, Jado & Gedo swing between utterly dull and world-class. Here we get the "world-class" level, against top-notch opposition. Big big finish.
Tenryu, Arashi & Kitahara vs Araya, Okumura & Miyamoto, All Japan 8/26/01. Lopsided teams, but there's enough HATE to go around and make it interesting.
Takaiwa vs Hoshikawa, Zero-One 9/1/01. These two were the first juniors under Zero-One contract, and other featured juniors over the first couple years of the company tended to be from other promotions or countries. Takaiwa was a considerably bigger star, having won the IWGP junior singles and tag titles, along with the last year's Best of Super Juniors. Hoshikawa did okay for himself on the indies but still just that, *on the indies*. His ability to go toe-to-toe with rough-and-ready Takaiwa both in strikes and finishers showed that he was capable of helping to establish the Z-1 juniors division.
Ohtani vs Daisuke Sekimoto, Zero-One Fire Festival '01. This was a HUGE opportunity for two year pro Sekimoto, who didn't get back in the tournament for five years after this. This is a fascinating snapshot in time. Ohtani, who eventually became the face of the company, gets a mixed reaction and still has his heelish aura. Sekimoto has standard musculature instead of the incredible mass he was later known for. Ohtani is so so good as a cocky veteran, and Sekimoto is so so good as an up-and-comer. Hard-hitting, plenty of heart, and (as usual) Korakuen reacts as it should.
Takaiwa vs Hoshikawa, Zero-One 9/8/01, JIP. Rematch that builds on the previous finish. It started a bit slow with a lot of limbwork that didn't go anywhere, so I clipped that part out per my recent M.O. Hoshikawa shows even more toughness than the first match, which is saying something.
Takaiwa & Hoshikawa vs Shiga & Kanemaru, Zero-One 9/15/01. NOAH invades! Hard to go wrong with interpromotional hate. Now, I know what you might be thinking: Takaiwa does the same stuff every match, Shiga and Kanemaru aren't hate-y, everyone is a junior. But you need to trust in the power of HATRED. I peg this as a top ten match from Japan for 2001. While I'm alone in that assessment, I didn't come to that come opinion without good reasons.
Hashimoto & Fujiwara vs Ikeda & Sugiura, Zero-One 9/15/01. NOAH invades parte dos! Certainly Ikeda can handle himself with the veteran stiff-meisers. But Sugiura? He's a friggin' rookie! He has no business in the ring with the likes of Hash and Fujiwara. Well, maybe I speak too soon...
Tenzan & Kojima vs Kawada & Nagai, New Japan 9/16/01, JIP. Big second half of a big tag at a big venue. BIG!
Kaz Fujita vs Sasaki, NJ 10/8/01. Fujita, who beat Ken Shamrock in a shootfight a year earlier, is IWGP champ. Sasaki wants to restore his pride after losing the title to Scott Norton in March. Short, intense, and stiff- especially the punches.
Mutoh & Hase vs Akiyama & Nagata, NJ 10/8/01. Triple Crown champ & Japanese congressman vs GHC champ and G-1 winner. Quite the assortment of talent here. Plenty of nifty stuff in this one.
Tenryu vs Kea, All Japan 10/27/01. Their 4th meeting of the year, and the best Kea managed was a draw. He's really fired up and for the first time has a real shot of winning.
SAITO vs Kondo, Toryumon 10/28/01. Retirement match for SAITO, though he then just took on the Super Shisa gimmick. Short match with lotsa nifty grappling. I miss this Kondo.
Mochizuki, Yokosuka & Darkness Dragon vs Magnum Tokyo, Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito, trios titles, Toryumon 10/28/01. Another good 6-man. Clipped a little, doesn't feel like it's missing much.
Owashi vs Ogawauchi, T2P 11/13/01. Slight clipping. We start off with the thing Owashi is most known for: his use of "Sandstorm" by Darude as entrance music. Owashi was one of the few non-tiny Ultimo trainees, and even though he had a lot of chances I have to say I consider him a big disappointment. This is the only "complete" Owashi match I'm hosting and that's largely because of the T2P llave content and his opponent. Speaking of which, Ogawauchi is also somewhat of a disappointment, but that's because of injury derailing his career rather than a lack of talent. He takes a HUGE bump on the outside, busts out some cool moves, and makes use of the hexagonal ring.
Kondo vs Yagi, T2P 11/13/01. An introduction to the tricked-out T2P style.
TARU vs Kinya Oyanagei, T2P 11/13/01. The T2P debut show is one of those must-see events. Here we meet Oyanagei, who has a very unique approach to things. TARU, a veteran of both life and the ring, struggles to adapt.
Yoshino & Tsujimoto (Yasshi) vs Mori & Iwasa, T2P 11/13/01. Some mind-blowing exchanges and general non-stop inventiveness here. The definitive "holy crap these guys are going to rule the world" early T2P match.
Milano Collection AT vs Ryo Saito, 2/3 falls, T2P 11/13/01. Milano rips Ryo apart on the mat, just dominating him in a way I can't recall seeing before or after.
Tanaka & Naruse vs Kakihara & Naniwa, NJ junior tag league 11/23/01. I can imagine Kakihara's reaction when they announced pairings for the junior tag league. Liger? No. Any of the last three champions? No. El Samurai? No. Um... Wataru Inoue? Sorry Kaki, you've got the crab. Yet somehow, some way, Naniwa makes it work.
Liger & Samurai vs Shibata & Inoue, NJ junior tag league 11/23/01. Superb veteran vs young lion battle, and as usual Korakuen is the place to do such a match in a main event!
Liger & Samurai vs Tanaka & Naruse, NJ junior tag league 11/24/01. Pro-style practitioners versus shoot-style specialists. Who gets a PHD in junior tagology?
Manami Toyota vs Mariko Yoshida, ARSION 11/25/01. It's the mistress of the suplexes against the hybrid shootiness of Yoshida.
Nagata & Nakanishi vs Nishimura & Liger, NJ tag league 11/30/01. Strength versus technique.
Tenzan & Kojima vs Barton & Steele, NJ tag league 11/30/01. The first bit of the match you wonder if these teams are going to gel, especially Steele. By the end you want more and thankfully that's exactly what we'd get!
Ohtani vs Sekimoto, Big Japan 12/2/01. Ohtani lowers himself to filthy Big Japan to take on their young punk heavyweight. Ohtani ain't taking no crap from a deathmatch greenhorn. Ohtani ain't taking no crap from deathmatch fans. Ohtani pretty much rules.
Tenzan & Kojima vs Barton & Steele, New Japan 12/11/01. Finals of New Japan's tag league. TenKoji lost in last years' final and already had a match before. Barton and Steele are All Japan powerhouses who come in fresh. This is a wonderful mix of basic tag formula and Japanese heavyweight-style action, and is certainly the highlight of the famed TenKoji team.
Aja Kong vs Meiko Satomura, GAEA 12/15/01. Kong has been one of the top joshi names for a decade. Satomura has tried and tried to topple her, but always comes up short (there's a video package at the start with this). Now they go at it one more time to determine who the top woman really is.
Ohtani & Sekimoto vs Tanaka & Sato, Samurai TV 12/28/01, slight clipping. This is the main event of a show with a lot of promotions, done to promote Samurai's offerings. These four deliver a lot of fire and hate. It doesn't take that much to make for a happy Ditch and they cleared the bar.
Akiyama vs Nagata, GHC title, New Japan 1/4/02. Nagata was supposed to face Fujita for the IWGP title, but Fujita hurt himself. Then on 12/31/01, Nagata got mauled by Cro Cop in a shootfight. Thus, a match that wasn't planned and is brought down by circumstances - but they do go for the gusto. 232 MB.
Kikuchi vs Hoshikawa, Zero-One 1/6/02. An odd match as Kikuchi is 1000% grumpy and sells almost nothing while demanding that Hoshikawa hit harder. Hoshikawa isn't someone you normally want to tell that to, and indeed he obliges Kikuchi with some nasty shots. No lead-in or follow-up despite the amount of tension they show.
Yokosuka, Horiguchi & Darkness Dragon vs Super Shisa, Ken Arai & Ryo Saito, Rainbow Pro 1/20/02. Really slick Toryumon 6-man. Shisa absolutely steals the show.
Shiji Kondo vs Jun Ogawauchi, T2P 1/23/02. Hugely enjoyable hybrid match, with cool exchanges and cool submissions and good nearfalls and a steady pace. Aw yeah.
Milano, Yoshino & Tsujimoto vs Ryo Saito, Mori & Yagi, T2P 1/23/02. Last of the early 'llave exhibition' matches. Can Ryo make good after getting schooled so badly by Milano in their singles matches? (Not really...) Can the 6-sided ring finally get put to full use? (Yes!) Will Milano's faction finally drop a fall after not losing any in the 2001 T2P tour? (Download to find out!)
Tenryu vs Kojima, All Japan 2/24/02. Kojima's first big match after jumping ship. It's hard to express how important this was. Kojima was solidly in the midcard on the deeper All Japan roster and needed to come across as being on Tenryu's level. Not only does Kojima hang with Tenryu in terms of offense, he also matches Tenryu in the clash of big personalities. Good heavyweight action throughout and a fine 'Budokan semi-main' level finishing run.
Mutoh vs Kawada, Triple Crown, All Japan 2/24/02, JIP. Kawada must no-sell Mutoh's cheap knee dropkicks and sloppy shining wizards... for Baba! Also, gansobomb #2.
Takaiwa vs KENTA, Zero-One 3/2/02. Takaiwa makes young KENTA learn his place the hard way. The hard way happens to be the fun way, for us.
Marufuji vs Hoshikawa, Zero-One 3/2/02. A year earlier Marufuji had his big breakout match, at Hoshikawa's expense. Now Marufuji is NOAH's junior champ and Hoshikawa can redeem himself big-time with a win.
Hashimoto vs Masato Tanaka, Zero-One 3/2/02. When I first watched this, it was on a file that was of low audio quality. This file has much better video and the audio is clear enough for you to hear the ultra-stiff beating Hashimoto lays on Tanaka. Oh so very stiff. 123 MB.
Nagata vs Scott Norton, NJ 3/21/02. Winner gets an IWGP shot. Norton beat Nagata in '98 to fill a title vacancy, and he won the title a year ago. Nagata is looking for redemption after several bad losses, and he really tees off on the big man when he gets the chance. 102 MB.
Chono & Tenzan vs Nagata & Nakanishi, NJ 3/24/02. Winner gets the vacant tag titles. They do a really good job of mixing up the trademark moves and maintaining the pace.
Tenryu vs Araya, All Japan Champions Carnival 2002. Someone needs to come up with a formula that deals with how, up to a certain point, more fat on a Japanese wrestler equals more stiffness. Some sort of puroresu Laffer curve.
Tenryu vs Mutoh, All Japan Champions Carnival 2002. A big start leads to a match with sustained intensity, certainly more than usual for Mutoh. In fact I would put this ahead of every Mutoh singles match after their 2001 battle.
Arashi & Araya vs Nagai & Okamura, All Asia tag titles, All Japan 4/13/02. Four midcarders go all-out, leading to some really choice nearfalls down the stretch.
Ohtani vs Ishikawa, Zero-One 4/27/02. When I decided to start doing reposts this is one of the matches that first came to mind. My "they're doin' stuff" description could not be less helpful. What does "stuff" consist of? One might expect them to be pricks to one another, but this feels like a blood feud. That despite there being absolutely no history between them as far as I can tell. They hit hard, do a couple hard suplexes, and afterwards Ohtani wants to decapitate Mr. Battlarts for reasons we will never know. NO OHTANI! MURDER IS PROHIBITED!
My Three Mutohs vs Kojima, Honma & Yang, All Japan 4/27/02. It's baldness and shining wizards as far as the eye can see.
Tenryu & Araya vs Kea & Miyamoto, All Japan 4/27/02. This one rocks right here. Tenryu and Kea stiff each other, Tenryu and Araya absolutely MAUL young Miyamoto, hardway blood, hatred... get on it.
Manami Toyota & Hotta vs Ito & Momoe Nakanishi, NJ 5/2/02. New Japan gave a couple promotions a small spot on the Tokyo Dome card, so AJW sent its top stars... and the ring announcer! Momoe is SO EXCITED about the opportunity. The fast pace and effort are enough for the crowd to be responsive despite joshi having fallen from favor. Rather spotty but they sprint enough to mask that.
Hashimoto & Ogawa vs Tenzan & Norton, NJ 5/2/02. Hashimoto's final match in New Japan, and thankfully it's one that exceeds expectations. Fun exchanges with Hash and Norton, Tenzan is fired up, some big bumps, this one is worth your while.
Steiner Brothers vs Sasaki & Tanahashi, NJ 5/2/02. I don't know why they have Chyna as the ref, but she does fit in with the freakish Big Poppa Pump. Suplexing occurs!
Nagata vs Takayama, IWGP title, NJ 5/2/02. The match that, to me, kicked off Takayama's world-class two year run. A match showing both men are capable of a Tokyo Dome-caliber title bout, something that wasn't clear going in.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Kazuya Yuasa, Michinoku Pro 5/6/02. Ishii is a brick house, Yuasa is a fiery young lion. This is worked in more of a 'light heavyweight' style than MPro's usual lucharesu style. Steady escalation leads to some good nearfalls.
Tiger Mask 4 vs Ikuto Hidaka, Michinoku Pro 5/6/02. Tiger Mask won this when they faced off the year before, but Hidaka has done some growing up. They use a lot of the basic structure from that match and raise it up a notch. Two good athletes with lucha libre and shoot-style in their training give it their all!
Kojima vs Araya, All Japan 5/10/02, JIP. Given what happens in the first thirty seconds after the cut, one might think that Araya has nothing left and that Kojima will be able to casually move on from there to win. WRONG. Araya has more than enough in the tank to put Kojima down, and the crowd senses it as well because they get ALLLLL kinds of hot.
Fujiwara vs Y. Sasaki, Zero-One 5/23/02. This isn't a long match to begin with, and they even decided to clip THAT. What we do get is good, but man, c'mon Z-1!
Hoshikawa vs Hidaka, Zero-One 5/23/02. A good reason for me to re-watch matches after a long time is to pick up on forgotten details. Yes, Hosh and Hidaka are skilled and put together a technically sound match that builds on themes introduced in their 2001 battle. If you liked that one you'll certainly like this! But we also get Korakuen Hall hilariously reacting to the white ref for reasons that are beyond my ken. K-Hall is still number one forever.
Liger vs Curry Man, NJ BOSJ '02, 5/30/02. Ummmmm it's Liger vs Christopher Daniels.
Takayama vs Nakanishi, NJ 6/7/02. Clash of the titans. German vs German! Chop vs knee! Possibly Nakanishi's best singles match to that point. 164 MB.
Nagata vs Sasaki, IWGP title, NJ 6/7/02. This is probably the second best IWGP match Sasaki was in. Paced very nicely, well put-together, and considering that Nagata is something like 1-10 versus Sasaki there's no small amount of doubt over the winner. Crappy crowd, unfortunately. 200+ MB.
Kayo Noumi vs Rie Tamada, Grand Prix 2002, All Japan Women 6/16/02. Noumi is an 'idol' type of joshi wrestler; she's not 100% there as an athlete, but she's got the look and can be carried. Tamada rather clearly does said carrying in the bout, which builds to a darn good conclusion for a midcard bout. And if you compare it to women's matches on US TV, it looks like friggin' Misawa/Kawada in terms of epicness.
Takayama vs Don Frye, shootfight, 6/23/02. Takayama would be a huge underdog in most circumstances. Here, he's a replacement and hasn't had much time to train, making him a MASSIVE underdog against a man who previously destroyed Ken Shamrock among others. Yet Takayama gives one of the most harrowing performances you'll see in any sport, refusing to die and going right after Frye long after most men would be spent. An absolute must-see.
Ohtani & Tanaka vs Kanemura & Kuroda, Int'l tag titles, Zero-One 6/29/02. I'd say this was a really good 'big match' FMW tag, but after watching a lot of those it's clear that this is BETTER.
Hoshikawa vs Hidaka, Zero-One 7/7/02. Rubber match in their trilogy. We get the same general theme as the first two: Hidaka's submissions against Hoshikawa's strikes and German suplex. The crowd tends to be quiet, but they do react to the big moments. Both finishes of the first two matches come into play, and in the end it comes down to just how effective Hidaka's leg work has been.
Crazy MAX vs Do Fixer vs M2K, Toryumon 7/7/02. The company's biggest event of the year is capped off by the return of the 3 vs 3 vs 3 tag!
SUWA vs Arai, Toryumon 7/14/02. These two have a lot of history with each other, including Arai beating SUWA in a title match two years previous. Considering the location (Differ Ariake) and one of the participants being Arai, this has a TON of heat. Arai holds up his end with some big bumps. SUWA does his thang. This is a fine use of 8 minutes.
Crazy MAX vs M2K vs Do Fixer, Toryumon 7/14/02. This is as good as it gets for fast-paced Toryumon fun.
Tenryu vs Kojima, Triple Crown, All Japan 7/17/02. One of 2002's most highly-touted matches, and still well-regarded. Kojima earned the shot by beating Kea in a rare (for All Japan) #1 contenders match. This bout has some impressive heat for a non-Tokyo All Japan match, and it's substantially "bigger" than the first bout these two had in February. It's famous for the number of bombs and nearfalls, but my favorite thing is the way they keep going back to strike exchanges as things wear on. Tenryu's striking is much more established and effective... but Kojima has youth, heart, and energy on his side. Kojima was spunky but over his head in February. Has he elevated his game to the point of being a champion, or is Tenryu just too much?
Takayama & Tenzan vs Chono & Nishimura, NJ 7/20/02. A 'G-1 Special Tag' with irregular partners. Everyone's hatin' on everyone else, making things interesting.
Kokushi Mutoh vs Kaz Hayashi, All Japan 7/20/02. Kaz does a very nice tribute to the Mutoh of yesteryear, and thus carries the Mutoh of today.
Tenryu vs Kea, All Japan 7/20/02. In the same vein as Tenryu vs Kojima, only more compact. Coming into this match Tenryu is 3-0 vs Kea, but Kea has yet to unleash his big gun against the old man.
Samoa Joe vs Kanemura, Zero-One Fire Festival '02. Short, and for one of them none too sweet.
Ohtani vs Taka Michinoku, Zero-One Fire Festival '02. A few years ago, this would have been a juniors dream match. Now it's speed versus power.
Ohtani & Sekimoto vs Sato & Sai, Zero-One 7/30/02. Sato and Sai take a beating but show a lot of guts in coming back. Sekimoto looks really good for a younger wrestler as he helps Ohtani control things. This one really took me by surprise, give it a shot!
Tanaka vs Kanemura, Zero-One Fire Festival '02. An FMW-style match, and I actually like it more than their FMW battles.
Ohtani vs Masato Tanaka, Zero-One Fire Festival '02. I recall getting excited as a young puro fan when this was announced. They go all-out from bell to bell.
Tenzan vs Yoshie, New Japan G-1 '02. Long-time nobody jobber Yoshie went overseas and came back in 2000 as someone to be taken seriously. He used his reverse figure-four to beat Tenzan, but that wasn't enough to get into the '01 G-1. Now that Mutoh and Kojima have jumped there's some room for Yoshie, and he aims to make an impression on opening day. Tenzan isn't interested in an 'impression', he wants to win the whole thing, and he debuts a new hold here for that purpose. 153 MB.
Takayama vs Sasaki, G-1 '02. This match is ridiculously stiff. I would gladly take all the chops from Sasaki vs Kobashi over the strikes served up here.
Masato Tanaka vs Taka Michinoku, Zero-One Fire Festival '02. On the short side but with enough action to make up for it.
Takayama vs Tenzan, New Japan G-1 '02. New Japan's style doesn't lend itself as well to 25 minute-plus epics the way old All Japan did. However, in 10-15 minute matches it works out very nicely, which is why the G-1 produces such a huge percentage of their best heavyweight bouts. Case in point: this. 112 MB.
Takayama vs Yoshie, New Japan G-1 '02. You've got three sub-plots going for the match. One, a headliner against a low-ranked guy with nothing to lose. Two, an invader against a loyalist. Three, one chunky heavyweight and another chunky heavyweight pounding on each other. I'm especially fond of the last one. 101 MB.
Takayama vs Nishimura, New Japan G-1 Climax '02 semis. There's a lot to love. Great style contrast, great underdog story, Takayama working the mat rocks, some nice drama down the stretch, etc.
Chono vs Takayama, New Japan G-1 Climax '02 final. Best Chono singles match of the '00s. Great heat, steady action, well-executed finish, it really feels like a worthy final.
Murahama & Kamen vs Ebessan & Miracle Man, Osaka Pro 8/25/02. Happy times in Osaka!
Togo vs Tiger Mask 4, Tohoku Junior Title Tournament Final, MPro 8/25/02. During the round-robin portion they went to a 20 minute draw. This definitely feels important, and Togo actually gets some fire out of TM4. Heck, more than just the usual 'babyface comeback' fire. Very good finish as well.
KENTA vs Wataru Inoue, NJ 8/29/02. As with the February tag in NOAH we get Motivated Wataru, and I don't think there was any reason to doubt that KENTA would bring the goods for an interpromotional match at Budokan Hall. Fast-paced and intense!
Kanemoto vs Hashi, New Japan 8/29/02. This one is a personal favorite. Hashi, coming in from NOAH, plays the sympathetic underdog and gets face heat. I think this is his breakout performance. Kanemoto is really focused. The result is a heated match that could just as easily have been a throwaway squash. 135 MB.
Liger & Minoru Tanaka vs Kikuchi & Kanemaru, IWGP junior tag titles New Japan 8/29/02. This one rocks as well. Playing off the two Liger-in-NOAH tags (available you-know-where), NOAH's juniors strike back. Crowd acts like they're NOAH partisans, which is unexpected but fits with how the match is worked. Plenty of hate for you to sink your teeth into. 211 MB.
Kong & Toyota vs Satomura & Ayako Hamada, GAEA 8/30/02. Kong, having finally fallen to Satomura the year before, gets Manami Toyota to jump from AJW and form a superteam to combat the younger stars of GAEA. Intergenerational tag warfare!
Mochizuki, Yang & Dragon Kid vs Magnum TOKYO, Yokosuka & K-ness, All Japan 8/31/02. Toryumon shows their stuff at Nippon Budokan, and Yang meshes quite well.
Kojima vs Araya, All Japan 8/31/02. Araya was in numerous good tags in the early '00s, but in singles he was either given too little or too much time. This one is just right and I think it's by far his best singles match from the period: good energy and pace, a 'big match' level finish, and hardly any downtime. Kojima in 2002 was no slouch, either.
Yokosuka & Horiguchi vs Doi & Iwasa, Toryumon 9/8/02. A good opener for Toryumon's biggest show.
Dragon Kid vs Darkness Dragon, 2/3 falls, mask vs mask, Toryumon 9/8/02. Some nice wrestling and very well-executed US-style booking. 200 MB.
Don Arakawa vs Fugofugo Yumeji, Zero-One 9/12/02. FUGO MF FUGO. DON MF ARAKAWA.
Kanemura & Kuroda vs Togo & Hidaka, Zero-One 9/12/02. Kanemura and Kuroda have the big edge in size and power, but they excel in hardcore matches. Can they topple the more-skilled FEC team in a straight match?
Spanky & Hoshikawa vs Low Ki & Y. Sasaki, Zero-One 9/12/02. Low Ki's debut in Japan, and he's insta-over in a way hardly any gaijins manage.
Hashimoto & Ogawa vs Jones & Corino, Zero-One 9/12/02. OH-Gun versus the Aussie powerhouse and the tricky King of Old School.
Anjoh & Nagai vs Kea & Fuchi, All Japan 9/16/02. A match which, thankfully, is centered on the charisma of Anjoh and Fuchi.
Mutoh, Kojima, Hase & Shinzaki vs Tenryu, Arashi, Araya & Hirai, All Japan 9/16/02. Team WAR has more weak links but also is a more coherent unit... except that Mutoh's quartet has been together twice on the tour already and beat WAR both times. Neither of those WAR squads had Tenryu, and without Tenryu it's hardly WAR at all. So... um... either team can win. Also, breaking news: Tenryu > you.
Kanemoto vs Tiger Mask 4, IWGP junior title, NJ 9/22/02. After TM4's big match with Hidaka in MPro, both moved on to bigger and better things. Kanemoto's goal is to make sure that 'bigger and better' stops just short of winning the top juniors belt in Japan.
Tenryu & Hirai vs Kojima & Kaz Hayashi, AJ 10/6/02. Oh the hate. The sweet, sweet hate. And the action! But mostly hate.
Kojima & Kea vs Tenryu & Araya, All Japan 10/12/02. Hard-hitting heavyweights, homeboy.
Bob Sapp vs Nakanishi, NJ 10/14/02. The pre-match stuff absolutely rules. The match is fun. The post-match also absolutely rules.
Ran YuYu vs Carlos Amano, GAEA 10/20/02. I can't fully put a finger on why I enjoy so little joshi from '96 on, yet a singles match between midcarders is something I find effective. They string together some good sequences, have much better transitions than usual from the ladies, and keep things flowing throughout. There are also some remarkably well-executed spots. The way they mix strikes, holds, impact moves and cradles helps to keep you guessing.
Kanemoto vs Rutten, junior title, NJPW 10/26/02. Rutten is great considering how few matches he'd had at this point. Even though he'd beaten Nakanishi and had a heavyweight title shot earlier in the year, Rutten treats Kanemoto with respect. Because of Rutten's MMA success he's very much a threat, and Kanemoto has to work hard on the mat or he's sure to get submitted!
Sapp vs Muta, Wrestle-One 11/17/02. More 'interesting' than anything else.
Masato Tanaka & Takaiwa vs Low Ki & Frankie Kazarian, Zero-One 12/15/02. For an undercard match, Tanaka lets the indy gaijin look real good. Some huge nearfalls.
Do Fixer vs Sekigun, 10-man elimination, Toryumon 12/20/02. Very fast given the numbers involved. The story to keep an eye on is Ryo Saito, who just turned heel, interacting with former comrade Mori, who he never fully turned on.
Arashi & Araya vs Tenryu & Fuchi, All Asia tag titles, AJ 1/3/03. Fuchi has never held the All Asia belts! So naturally he's the focus of the bout. It goes a bit long considering the participants, but if you like most of them you'll like the match. Araya sure wasn't afraid to get dumped by a backdrop, no sir.
Dick Togo & Hidaka vs Paul London & CW Anderson, Zero-One 1/5/03. London makes for a great Ricky Morton and the crowd gets behind him. Classic tag formula works every time! Also I have a feeling this is the best thing CW was ever in.
Low Ki vs AJ Styles, Zero-One 1/5/03. If the prospect of this matchup excites you, you'll love it. If the words 'AJ Styles' send you into fits, don't watch. If you're in-between, give it a shot.
Hashimoto & Ogasawara vs Kojima & Kashin, All Japan 1/13/03. The Hash vs Kojima sections make up for how awful the other two are. 170 MB.
Milano, Yossino & Yasshi vs Ryo Saito, Mori & Doi, T2P 1/27/03. Main event of the final T2P show, and also continues from the Saito/Mori incident in December.
Ebessan vs Kamen, 2/3 falls, Osaka Pro 2/1/03. They bust out some new stuff for the company's biggest show ever and it's comedy gold. 144 MB.
Low Ki & KENTA vs Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Zero-One 2/2/03. Almost but not quite a dream match. KENTA had lost twice in semi-recent singles action to Takaiwa, and is still in the 'proving himself' stage of his career. Y. Sasaki has even more to prove; we don't get the kind of hellish strike exchanges one might expect had he been matched up with Ki or KENTA ten years later. Interesting to see KENTA get some booing at NOAH's home base of Differ Ariake, and the crowd is really heated at times by Differ standards. Drags a fair amount in the middle before picking up at the end. Repost.
Tenryu vs Araya, All Japan 2/8/03. First match in a Tenryu vs Young Lions series that was part of Tenryu's farewell to being full-time All Japan. Yeah, going to World Japan was a great move there Tenryu. Anyway they keep it short and it's chunky WAR spirit. I'd like to know how Araya can take so many Tenryu chops without even flinching.
Tenryu vs Miyamoto, All Japan 2/16/03. You should know what to expect here.
Kojima, Arashi, Araya & Kashin vs Ohtani, Tanaka, Sai & Ogasawara, All Japan 2/23/03. Just a ridiculous amount of interpromotional hate here. Hate, hate and more hate. Haaaaaaate.
Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka vs Jinsei Shinzaki, Curry Man & Jody Fleisch, MPro 3/2/03. One of the better Michinoku matches of the decade. Plenty of talent, plenty of personality, and a furious sprint at the end.
Liger & Kanemoto vs AKIRA & Heat, junior tag titles, NJ 3/9/03. Ten years later and the Heat gimmick still makes no sense. It's one thing to give a rising star a new mask gimmick, but Minoru Tanaka was a very established and very *serious* wrestler. Then he kept the mask on for years! As for this match, we see that Tanaka is still quite talented but clearly doesn't bring as much as AKIRA. The first half of the bout is fine but we all know that the second half of a juniors match is what the peoples really care about, and these four deliver a dandy of a finish.
Mutoh & Hayashi vs Kojima & Yang, AJ 3/22/03. Kojima gets picked apart. I'm someone who's rather cynical about Mutoh but he does a brilliant job here.
Kanemoto vs AKIRA, junior title, NJ 3/23/03. AKIRA really makes this, pulling out a lot of tricks. I tend not to like many junior singles matches because I feel like they're going through the motions, but AKIRA really mixes it up well. New complete version!
Teioh vs Sekimoto, Big Japan title (non-deathmatch), BJPW 3/30/03. Teioh is great, putting together a well-structured match to complement Sekimoto's explosive power. Really nifty despite the maddeningly silent crowd. 228 MB.
Tenryu, Arashi & Araya vs Kojima, Hines & Hayashi, AJ 4/4/03. Not quite as much Tenryu content as one would like, but they make up for it with plasma. Arashi just lost to Kojima in the Carnival final, but he's still going to get a Triple Crown match at the end of the tour, so he's looking for revenge and momentum.
Tamura vs Mishima, U-Style 4/6/03. Mishima was a good enough shooter to make it into the UFC in 2006, and at this point he had a 10-2-2 record. Having debuted in Sayama's Shooto promotion, this is Mishima's first "shoot-style" match, and he holds up his end. It's rare for Tamura to have a marked size advantage but Mishima fought at featherweight so he's got his work cut out for him. Plenty of nifty matwork and tricky submissions as per the norm for a situation involving Tamura. Of note: Mishima typically won fights by submission, and Tamura won at the previous U-Style event with a guillotine.
Ohtani & Tanaka vs Hosaka & Okumura, All Japan 4/12/03. Emblem in All Japan is such goodness, and the match is compact and fun.
MA-G-MA & QuallT vs Buffalo & Tigers, tag league, Osaka Pro 4/13/03, some clipping. Osaka's top heels take on two of its top babyfaces. Fun times.
Chono & Tenzan vs Liger & Kanemoto, NJ 4/18/03. Heavyweight tag champs versus junior tag champs. The juniors take no guff and more than hold their own, making for a very interesting contest.
Magnum Tokyo vs Horiguchi, El Numero Uno quarterfinal, Toryumon 4/22/03. I love that Horiguchi is pressed into being part of Magnum's dance routine before the match.
CIMA vs Yokosuka, El Numero Uno quarterfinal, Toryumon 4/22/03. They cram a lot of action into a couple minutes.
Mochizuki vs Horiguchi, El Numero Uno semifinal, Toryumon 4/22/03. Genki already survived a battle royal and a match with his stable leader. Now he's got Mr. Kicky Pants. In other words: totally screwed.
CIMA vs Yossino, El Numero Uno semifinal, Toryumon 4/22/03. Yossino comes off beating SUWA, and is on the roll of a lifetime. And CIMA, well, he's CIMA. Match is just as silky smooth as they are. Wait maybe I should rephrase tha
CIMA vs Genki Horiguchi, El Numero Uno '03 Final, Toryumon 4/22/03. Genki's breakout match, and one of the highlights of the original Toryumon promotion.
Tanahashi vs Makabe, Under-30 tournament final, NJ 4/23/03. Makabe, having graduated from being a 'big junior', is starting to climb the heavyweight ranks. Tanahashi has returned after being stabbed in the back by a psycho ex-girlfriend, and is getting the first serious push of his career. Winner gets the new U-30 title. Basic but very good match. Makabe beat Tanahashi earlier in the tournament with a fisherman's buster.
Low Ki vs Takaiwa, junior title, Zero-One 5/2/03. I generally can't stand Takaiwa in singles matches during the 2000s, and I generally can't stand a juniors match with leg work, but somehow I enjoy a match with both. I'm guessing it's because of how much I enjoy Ki.
Tenzan vs Tanahashi, IWGP title #1 contenders match, NJ 5/2/03. Time to see if Tanahashi has progressed enough to hang with the big boys.
Kobashi vs Chono, GHC title, NJ 5/2/03. Chono comes off winning the G-1 and taking IWGP champ Nagata to a 60 minute draw. However, does he have the firepower to put down Kobashi?
Ohtani & Tanaka vs Kanemura & Kuroda, Fuyuki Army 5/3/03. Rematch from the previous June, only this time Emblem plays the visiting team.
Kawada & Fuchi vs Kojima & Kashin, AJ 5/25/03. Oh look, Kawada and Fuchi in a tag match and it's good. The shock is overwhelming.
Danshoku Dino vs Invisible Mysterio, CROWN 5/25/03. Dino isn't doing his crotch-based gimmick at this point. Mysterio for some reason doesn't give him much offense, and it's really no wonder he never made it out of the D-level indies. Dino does what I can best describe as a flip screwdriver, it's a miracle Mysterio wasn't paralyzed.
Kawada, Araya & Fuchi vs Mutoh, Kojima & Yang, AJ 6/1/03. There's a lot of talent in this, but I think it's the crowd that makes it. Yup, good ol' fired-up... Kobe Sambo Hall?! Will wonders never cease? I'll add that the guy who on paper is the fall guy DOESN'T take the loss.
Tenryu vs Ishikari, AJ 6/8/03. I don't know for a fact that Tenryu has kids. That said, the only explanation I can think of for this match is that he has a daughter and caught Ishikari with her. Because... ow.
Liger & Kanemoto vs Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki, IWGP junior tag titles, NJ 6/10/03. The agile NOAH youths take on New Japan's sturdy junior aces. Distinct from the tags with Kikuchi in that there isn't any hatred, but they do a good job with the contrasting styles and building to a dramatic last third. VERY hot Osaka crowd helps as well.
Takayama vs Tenzan, IWGP title, NJ 6/10/03. Takayama's first defense, and Tenzan's *sixth* title shot. The crowd heat carries over nicely from the junior tag, adding quite a bit to even the most standard action (let alone when things get good). Don't worry about having to follow deep psychology here; both of them are bruisers with no problem taking punishment in order to dish it out. Takayama's middle kicks are so nasty and I wish he used them this effectively in other matches. Tenzan does a beta version of the Anaconda Vice. Since the Vice 0.1 certainly isn't going to do the trick in a title match, he'd better hope he can land one of his big bombs if he's going to avoid getting obliterated by the big man.
Hashimoto, Sato & Yokoi vs Kojima, Araya & Okumura, AJ 6/11/03. The teams are rather lopsided, meaning that if Kojima wants to win and get momentum heading into his title bout with Hashimoto, he needs to take the champ out of the picture. And he does a darn good job of that! Plus: Araya sells a punch to the face like it's a punch to the face. Araya <3
Tenryu vs Kono, AJ 6/13/03. Ho-hum, Tenryu beats up a young lion. Couple chops, some trademark moves, and... Kono kicks out? Well that was generous, but that's all he has in the tank and... Kono kicks out AGAIN?! Yup, Kono was a big-time prospect and Tenryu makes him look like a million yen. Make that a hundred million yen.
Kawada, Araya & Okumura vs Ohtani, Tanaka & Hosaka, All Japan 6/13/03. Emblem in All Japan, plus Kawada and Araya. Yeah there was really no way I wouldn't like this. Hopefully you'll like it too! Like iiiiiiitttttt *shakes fist*
Takayama vs Nakamura, NWF title, NJ 6/13/03. Takayama beats the phenom into a pulp.
Yokosuka, K-ness & Ryo Saito vs Milano, Yossino & Yassini, Toryumon 6/19/03. You like the 6-man? Here is good 6-man. You watch.
Yossino vs K-Ness, NWA Welterweight title, Toryumon 6/29/03. Both of them have bad shoulders, and both are effective at targeting the shoulder. There's some storyline stuff that wraps up before the home stretch, leaving them to focus on slick counters and survival from there on.
Mochizuki, Arai & Dragon Kid vs Horiguchi, Yokosuka & Ryo Saito, trios titles, Toryumon 6/29/03. Heck of a 6-man, with a good pace, a unique strategy by Do Fixer, and some great false finishes.
Kawada & Hijikata vs Kojima & Hayashi, All Japan 7/6/03. Hijikata has a junior title shot upcoming, and Kawada is en route to a #1 contenders match. However, Koji-Kaz has more experience as a unit, and Hayashi is an 'uncrowned champ' in the juniors division due to a baffling lack of title shots. Korakuen Hall: still the best.
Kawada, Araya & Fuchi vs Mutoh, Arashi & Hayashi, All Japan 7/10/03. I wasn't sure if I could enjoy a 2000s AJ 6-man without Kojima or Tenryu in it, but hey, this works out nicely. And it even sets up...
Arashi vs Araya, All Japan 7/13/03. Heated and short. I can't imagine a more enjoyable Arashi match.
Kawada & Kojima vs Sasaki & Hase, All Japan 7/27/03. Most of a very long dream match. ADD viewers be warned!
Kojima vs Ohtani, Fire Festival '03 final, Zero-One 8/1/03. Kojima won the Champions Carnival; can Ohtani stand up to him and win for the third year in a row?
Nagata vs Yoshie, New Japan G-1 Climax '03. Yoshie has been a life-long undercarder, but he's finally coming into his own as the resident fat-man of puro. Nagata's main tactic of kicking his opponent into oblivion runs into a wall... of fat. This is probably Yoshie's career match to this point.
Akiyama vs Tenzan, NJ G-1 Climax '03. The muscle he added during a recent overseas trip was intended to put him over the top in the tournament, but he's going up against an opponent used to dealing with the likes of Kobashi so that won't be enough by itself. Quite the hot crowd.
Akiyama vs Nishimura, G-1 '03. You've got two different stories here: the invading NOAH guy, and the invading NOAH guy who's used to brushing off anything Nishimura can throw at him. A power vs technique match that, thanks to the 'outsider' element, has tons o' heat.
Liger & Murahama vs Black Buffalo & Tsubasa, Osaka Pro tag titles, Osaka Pro 8/13/03, some clipping. When a juniors match goes long and has a ton of nearfalls, I'm either going to really love it or really hate it. This is the rare "don't hate" instance.
Akiyama vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax '03. Young Tanahashi faces perhaps the biggest test of his career to date. Akiyama already has one loss in the tournament and can't afford another. Current phenom versus former phenom in a fight to the finish!
Nishimura vs Tanahashi, New Japan G-1 '03. A fine technical match. You expect Nishimura to dominate on the mat, but Tanahashi more than holds up his end.
Takayama vs Shibata, New Japan G-1 '03. This is Shibata's first G-1, and amazingly enough if he wins this match then he wins the block. Even a draw is enough to put him in the semis. Sadly for him, he matches up very poorly with Takayama. Thankfully for us he doesn't seem to care, going all-out. Result is a very fast-paced, hard-hitting affair.
Akiyama vs Chono, New Japan G-1 '03. If Akiyama wins or draws, he advances and Chono doesn't. If Chono wins it causes a 3-way tie in their block. I was concerned about this match coming in because Chono can be problematic in long bouts and Akiyama isn't much for carrying, but both really bring the goods and the crowd helps plenty.
Akiyama vs Nagata, New Japan G-1 '03 semifinals. Nagata destroyed Akiyama a month before in NOAH, now Akiyama has a chance at revenge. Much more satisfying than their first singles match.
Takayama vs Tenzan, New Japan G-1 Climax '03 semifinals. Takayama comes in as IWGP champ and having defended the title against Tenzan. Tenzan, on the other hand, is on a win streak thanks to his recently-created anaconda vice. Heck of a match.
Akiyama vs Tenzan, New Japan G-1 '03 Final. Tenzan has failed to win the IWGP or G-1 crowns, year after year. Now he has enough of an arsenal to get the job done against most wrestlers, but Akiyama is more accustomed to epic battles and is certainly more skilled. Tenzan's only hope is that he has enough fighting spirit to survive.
Kawada & Hijikata vs Kojima & Honma, All Japan 8/19/03. Kawada and Kojima, you know what to expect from them. Honma's fire is what puts this over the top.
House Deathmatch show, Big Japan 8/21/03. Part 1. They build a house in Korakuen, fight in it, and destroy it. Only in Japan.
House Deathmatch show, Big Japan 8/21/03. Part 2.
Italian Connection vs Crazy MAX vs M2K vs Do Fixer, trios titles, Toryumon 8/30/03. The absolure peak of Toryumon's sprinting lucharesu style. Metric tonnes of action, but also some well-placed comedy spots and several callbacks to the past years' multi-man tags. Plus it's capped off with a really dramatic battle at the end. Oh yeah, and they're at Korakuen, so absolutely everything gets a reaction. One of the top matches Toryumon/Dragon Gate ever produced, so you should definitely watch it.
Kojima vs Ohtani, AJ 9/6/03. Winner goes to the main event for a chance to become Triple Crown champion. They took each other to the limit a month earlier in the Fire Festival final, and now the rematch has more at stake in a bigger venue.
Kawada vs Ohtani, Triple Crown decision match, All Japan 9/6/03. Hashimoto vacated the title due to injury, leading to a tournament. Kawada beat Mike Awesome and Ohtani beat Kojima to get here. Not a flawless match, but at the same time it's still Kawada vs Ohtani. 175 MB.
Ohtani vs Hido, hardcore match, Fuyuki Army 9/22/03. Ohtani has the edge in skill and power. Hido has the edge in working with barbed wire. Will Hido look good in front of his wife, deathmatch icon Megumi Kudo? No really, she married him. No REALLY. Korakuen helps this as it is prone to.
Danshoku Dino & OK Revolution vs Kyosuke Sasaki & Dai Moriyama, DDT 9/28/03. And now for one of the more unique matches you'll ever see. It's shoot-style versus shoot-gay-style. 132 MB.
Toryumon TV, 10/15/03. Show clipped down to 45 minutes. Thankfully we get plenty of the main event, which is the dream team of Magnum Tokyo & Milano Collection AT vs CIMA & JUN (Ogawauchi). JUN is determined to prove himself as a top-flight player in the company, and the result is a match much more based around dramatics than speed. You'll want to grab this.
Hashimoto vs Masato Tanaka, Zero-One 11/7/03. Not *as* stiff as their first bout, but still quite the war.
Kawada & Kashin vs Hashimoto & Sakata, AJ 12/5/03. It might have been bad business to have this as a Budokan main event, but it's still quality stuff whenever Kawada is in. Kawada/Hashimoto couldn't not be good, and Kawada/Sakata is the best I've seen from Sakata.
Nakanishi & Tiger Mask 4 vs Norton & American Dragon, NJ 12/14/03. Really fun, everyone plays their role to a T. Big guys who throw beefy chops, juniors willing to stand up to them, and so on. Well worth your while.
Tanahashi & Yoshie vs Tenzan & Nishimura, tag titles, New Japan 12/14/03. TanaYoshie toppled Tenzan & Chono earlier in the year, as Yoshie pinned Tenzan with his top rope splash. Nishimura isn't quite the tag expert Chono is, but he can do something to tilt the scales against a team with Yoshie on it: make the match go longer. Solid, very technical-oriented outing.
Kawada vs Naoya Ogawa, Zero-One 12/14/03. The career match for Ogawa, and it really feels gigantic. Part of that is the concept of 'Ogawa versus Triple Crown champion Kawada', but more importantly is the way things are paced and sold. Small moves become a big deal with the right layout and execution. The biggest problem is the finish, but even that is at least very memorable.
Hashimoto vs Ohtani, Zero-One 12/24/03. Two audio tracks for some reason; be sure to select 'left' or 'right' channel to avoid overlap. Hashimoto's last big singles match in the company he founded. This is also the only Zero-One match between its initial top star and his eventual replacement. The concept of Ohtani being competitive with Hashimoto would have been laughable three years previous, so his ability to hang is impressive. Hashimoto dishes out loads of punishment as he is prone to do, and Ohtani works as stiff as possible in response. Sadly the finishing run is cut short, but it's good leading up to that. Also, the finish plays a big role in the classic Kawada/Hashimoto bout two months later.
Ryuji Ito vs Abdullah Jr. Kobayashi, deathmatch title, Big Japan 12/24/03. Ito took the standard garbage brawl and turned it into a faster-paced, highspot-filled gorefest. Kobayashi, despite his girth, has a knack for bringing structure and build to his deathmatches. Immensely enjoyable carnage right here.
Takaiwa & Hoshikawa vs Togo & Hidaka, junior tag title tournament final, Zero-One 12/26/03. The company saw how well-received NOAH's junior tag titles were and said "us too!". And it's a good thing because we got a couple very good matches as a result, starting with this. The psychology of the match is a nice follow-through on the Hoshikawa vs Hidaka singles rivalry, with Togo helping Hidaka's strategy. Takaiwa is effective as a wrecking ball and takes the nastiest bump of his life. Very strong finishing run. Go for it!
Nishimura vs Minoru Suzuki, New Japan 1/4/04. Good clash of styles and characters, good mat wrestling, and they accomplish a lot without using a ton of time. This is maybe my favorite Suzuki match of the decade because it doesn't drag.
Milano & Yossino vs Shisa & Doi, Toryumon 1/31/04. ItaCon is a big favorite. Doesn't matter, because Shisa can out-wrestle anyone at any given time.
American Dragon vs Tiger Mask 4, New Japan 2/1/04. A perfect demonstration of Danielson's versatility as he has a solid, smart undercard match that leaves plenty on the table both for a rematch and for matches to follow on the card.
Tenryu & Sasaki vs Nagata & Nakanishi, NJ 2/1/04. Bad blood between the teams means hard striking! Bad blood within the teams means it's impossible to predict!
Dokonjonosuke Mishima vs Manabu Hara, U-Style 2/4/04. Slick shoot-style grappling. 77 MB.
Tamura vs Kosaka, U-Style 2/4/04. Worthy follow-up to their '98 bout, and widely thought to be the best match U-Style produced. 146 MB.
Tamura vs Kohsaka, U-Style 2/4/04. Match-only bitrate upgrade.
Kanemoto, American Dragon & Curry Man vs Heat, Tiger Mask 4 & Naruse, NJ 2/15/04. All-star juniors match at Sumo Hall. They keep the pace up and bring plenty of action, capped off with plenty of excitement in the final minutes.
Liger vs Momota, GHC junior title, NJ 2/15/04. Momota, the aging son of Rikidozan who hasn't had a title shot in over a decade, is sent to bring NOAH's junior title back home. A stern task, but Momota goes all-out and gets the New Japan crowd totally behind him for his efforts.
Liger vs Momota, GHC junior title, NJ 2/15/04. VQ upgrade.
Tenzan vs Tenryu, IWGP title decision match, NJ 2/15/04. Some blood, some hard bumps, and some very good strike exchanges. Nagata was supposed to win the tournament but Tenzan legit KOed him with a moonsault, so the winner here was very much up in the air.
Takaiwa, Yoshihito Sasaki & Osamu Namiguchi vs Ishii, Uwano & Nakajima, Zero-One 2/19/04. Choshu's short-lived promotion World Japan invades Z-1 and boy-oh-boy does everyone HATE each other with the fire of a thousand suns. Namiguchi and Nakajima are rookies but they know how to mix it up just fine. Real 'hidden gem' right here.
Marufuji vs Kasai, J Cup 2004. Needless to say, Kasai is an overwhelming underdog. His forte is garbage wrestling, and against indy wrestlers. That's why his performance here is such a pleasant surprise.
Wataru Inoue vs Kazuya Yuasa, J Cup 2004. Good match from a disappointing tournament.
Billy Ken Kid & Tigers Mask vs Taka Michinoku & Shiryu, Osaka Pro tag titles, J Cup 2004. Taka and Hayashi aren't just lucharesu vets, they're now big-league stars with global experience. Couple of Osaka Pro youngins? Pfffffft. Done deal, the belts are as good as gone.
Liger, Delfin & Shinzaki vs KENTA, CIMA & HEAT, J Cup 2004. '90s vs '00s dream tag!
Kawada vs Hashimoto, Triple Crown, AJ 2/22/04. Hashimoto vacated the title the previous summer due to injury, so this will prove who the rightful champ is. This is the main event of All Japan's (so far) final show at Nippon Budokan. And, despite what you might expect, it's Hashimoto who makes this worthwhile. Hashimoto's last big match features one of his most compelling performances.
Takayama vs Shibata, NJ 3/12/04. Very short, very intense.
Tenzan vs Nakamura, NJ 3/28/04. Their last match was a short, unsatisfying upset win for Nakamura, ending Tenzan's long-awaited first IWGP reign. Now both are aiming for a title shot, and a more decisive conclusion to the first battle. Strength versus technique! 147 MB.
Takayama & Suzuki vs Tenryu & Nakanishi, tag titles, NJ 3/28/04. Lots of style-clashing, stiffness, and a really funny ending.
Sasaki vs Sapp, IWGP title, NJ 3/28/04. Way too fun. There's a lot going on to try and cover Sapp's awkwardness, but it works. This one only takes a couple minutes of your time, give 'er a try.
Milano, YOSSINO, Yokosuka & Horiguchi vs Ultimo, Arai, Shisa & Doi, Toryumon 4/28/04. 'Random teams' 8-man fun!
Florida Brothers vs Okamura & TARU, Toryumon 4/28/04. Fun with walls.
Mochizuki vs Dragon Kid, Toryumon 4/28/04. Mochizuki really rips into Kid with some of these kicks.
Liger vs Nakajima, NJ 5/3/04. Liger knows how to put a 'rookie phenom' in his place.
Kanemoto, Ultimo Dragon & American Dragon vs Marufuji, Heat & Tiger Mask IV, NJ 5/3/04. Danielson is the best guy in the match (shocking, I know) but it's not like he has to carry it given the raw talent involved here. I don't like dream matches by default, this is actively good. 116 MB.
Ohtani & Takaiwa vs Masato Tanaka & Yoshihito Sasaki, Fuyuki Army 5/5/04. Lots of pride and a good pace. NJ dojo versus FMW dojo!
Kojima vs Kuroda, Fuyuki Army 5/5/04. These two could just go brain-dead and do lariats and no-sell spots the entire time, but instead we get a STORY~ with Kojima as the heel outsider against a hopelessly outmatched Kuroda. Crowd responds perfectly.
Kawada vs Foley, Triple Crown, HUSTLE 5/8/04. Kawada doesn't do hardcore and Foley doesn't do Kings Road. They meet in the middle: Kawada kicking Foley really hard in the head. 87 MB.
Kawada vs Foley, Triple Crown, HUSTLE 5/8/04. VQ upgrade.
Kanemoto, El Samurai & Rocky Romero vs Heat, Kakihara & Naruse, NJ 6/5/04. Fine juniors action! FEAR THE HEADLOCK.
Sasaki & Liger vs Minoru Suzuki & Tiger Mask 4, NJ 6/5/04. Tons of fun. Suzuki pisses off Sasaki! Liger pisses of Suzuki! TM4 snipes at Sasaki!
Fujita vs Tanahashi, IWGP title decision match, NJ 6/5/04. Sapp had been champ but Fujita crushed him in a shoot so Sapp vacated the belt and Fujita popped into place. Both of them stick to their roles (MMA monster and pro-wrestling underdog), resulting in a match that far surpassed expectations. Monstrous file size but it's crystal clear.
Kawada vs Jamal, Triple Crown, AJ 6/12/04. The future Umaga is very game here, taking some big bumps and walking the fine line between being a monster and giving Kawada his shots.
Kanemoto vs American Dragon, NJ BOSJ 2004 semi-final, slight clipping. Danielson never got an IWGP junior title match in Japan, so this tournament was his biggest accomplishment as a singles wrestler in the promotion. Very responsive crowd at Korakuen to watch a battle of well-rounded technicians. I'd love to see what they could have done with more time in a final.
Nakamura & Taguchi vs Minoru Suzuki & Rocky Romero, NJ 6/13/04. Very much a 'strong style' matchup, with traditional wrestling and shoot-style woven together. Plus things heat up a bit as they go along.
Nakajima & Kimura vs Dino & Kenshin, DDT 7/1/04. Poor Nakajima...
Sasaki & 'Agira Hokuto' vs T. Hashimoto & Morohashi, DDT 7/1/04. This one's... unique.
Milano, Mori & Shisa vs Saito, Horiguchi & Tanisaki, Toryumon 7/4/04. Opener of the final Toryumon show. The Milano/Tanisaki exchange in the opening minutes is rather impressive. Fast pace and fun spots, which is pretty much the name of the game for a Dragon System opener.
Kondo vs Dragon Kid, Toryumon 7/4/04. Rockin' power vs speed battle, and Dragon Kid uses the latter to make some interference attempts backfire.
CIMA vs YOSSINO, Toryumon 7/4/04. The wrestling in this match is even prettier than they are.
Florida Brothers vs X & X, Toryumon 7/4/04. The world of Florida will never be the same.
Mochizuki, Yokosuka, Arai & Doi vs Owashi, Sugawara, YASSHI & Shogo Takagi, Toryumon 7/4/04. JIP. 8-man lucharesu battle from the final Toryumon show.
Nishimura vs Yoshie, NJ 7/6/04. Blubber versus technique!
Danielson vs Yamamoto, New Japan 7/19/04. Most young lion undercard matches are dull. This, for some reason, is good. Hmmmmmmm.
Jado & Gedo vs Kanemoto & Wataru Inoue, junior tag titles, New Japan 7/19/04. Good start, really good finish that leaves you wanting to see a rematch. Thankfully we got it!
Fujita vs Shibata, IWGP title, NJ 7/19/04. Well this is kinda, sorta on the stiff side. A wee bit. Just a tad though.
Tanahashi vs Honma, All Japan 7/22/04. Ohhhh boy, this match. Tanahashi is New Japan's top young gun, and is a huge favorite. Honma at this point has become an All Japan loyalist and the crowd is solidly behind him, leading to a ton of heat. Tanahashi takes it a step further by heeling it up. Hugely enjoyable. 188 MB.
Ironman title challenge, DDT 7/31/04. Shoichi Ichimiya takes on audience members.
Ito & Takagi vs T. Sasaki & GENTARO vs Dino & Spectre, DDT tag titles, DDT 7/31/04. The Gay Machine Guns are a sight to behold.
Milano, Yoshino & Mori vs TOKYO, Dragon Kid & Horiguchi, Dragon Gate 8/1/04. Dragon Gate's first match in Tokyo, and they start with a good one. The Genki/Yoshino pairing to start is just the balance of character and athleticism that DG strives for. Horiguchi ends up as the focal point of the middle, leading to a sprint home in the last third.
Kojima vs Yokoi, Zero-One Fire Festival '04. Final day, both need to win to have any chance of advancing. Yokoi recently had his first shoot loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but in doing so he learned a deadly 'spinning' guillotine choke. Z-1 crowd is behind him all the way, especially since he can eliminate last year's winner. 142 MB.
Nakamura vs Yoshie, NJ G-1 Climax 8/7/04. I really enjoy the '04 tournament because there was such a diversity of styles, leading to lots of very fresh matchups. Here we have a power versus 'technique' battle, and also a 'new color tights' battle.
Nishimura vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax 8/7/04. Two wrestlers who have never made a final look to start off on the right foot. Some similarities to their '03 match, but I think this one is a little more intense.
Takayama vs Nakanishi, NJ G-1 Climax 8/7/04. Big ol' slobberknocker.
Minoru Suzuki vs Blue Wolf, G-1 Climax, New Japan 8/8/04. Wolf was a decent worker but never really 'high-end'. His best stuff came in this tournament, as his power style clashed with those of others in his block. For instance, the more technical shoot-style of Suzuki. The execution of the finish is a thing of beauty.
Nakanishi vs Makabe, NJ G-1 Climax 8/8/04. I was all ready for this to suck but it DOESN'T. In fact it's GOOD. Nothing fancy, but they manage to keep things interesting.
Nishimura vs Kanemoto, NJ G-1 Climax 8/8/04. Kanemoto got in by winning the Super Juniors tournament, but even against a mid-ranked heavyweight he's still a big underdog. Especially a heavyweight who's as skilled as Nishimura. However, not only does Kanemoto hold his own, he out-and-out dominates Mr. Muga. Really good technical bout here.
Tenzan vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax 8/8/04. Tanahashi beat Tenzan in last year's tournament with a dragon suplex, and comes off a strong showing on night one. He's also ready for Tenzan's usual stuff. That said, Tenzan is still the favorite based on his experience.
Sasaki vs Takayama, NJ G-1 Climax 8/8/04. Another war between these titans. In '02 it was more based on striking, where this is more about bomb-throwing.
Shibata vs Nakamura, NJ G-1 Climax 8/8/04. Two of the company's young guns collide in a matchup that's high-end and cutting-edge in a very New Japan way.
Nagata vs Yoshie, NJ G-1 Climax 8/11/04. Builds off their match from a year earlier.
Sasaki vs Nakanishi, NJ G-1 Climax 8/13/04. No-nonsense power battle, and for my money quite a lot better than their G-1 final in 2000.
Nagata vs Nakamura, NJ G-1 Climax 8/13/04. Former company ace versus 'supernova'. Last year Nakamura was decisively below Nagata, but now he's proven he can beat anyone.
Shibata vs Yoshie, NJ G-1 Climax 8/14/04. Stiffness versus blubber: the eternal battle.
Sasaki vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax 8/14/04. Two years ago Tanahashi pinned Sasaki with a fluke cradle. One month ago Sasaki got a decisive win. Tanahashi is 5-1 so far in the tournament, meaning he's on the roll of his career, but Sasaki is as good as he's ever been.
Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki, NJ G-1 Climax 8/14/04. Nagata advances to the playoff with a win, Suzuki is out of the running but can get to a winning record for the sake of pride. Their match a year ago ended with Nagata's 'demon' armbar, and neither of them has forgotten that.
Ohtani, Omori & Kanemura vs Choshu, Takaiwa & Ishii, Z1 8/15/04. Kanemura and Ishii HATE each other, and I'm not sure why but I will never say no to good hatred. Kanemura delivers the nastiest senton of his career, and while it probably wasn't intentional, I also will never say no to a nasty fat-boy senton.
Sasaki vs Tenryu, NJ G-1 Climax 8/15/04. Spoiler: more than one chop is thrown.
Tenzan vs Nakamura, NJ G-1 Climax 8/15/04. Nakamura caused an abrupt end to Tenzan's first IWGP reign, then won again in convincing fashion in March. Nakamura was one of the favorites to win the tournament as well. However, Tenzan has looked better in the tournament so far and is coming off winning the tournament the year before.
Tenryu vs Tanahashi, G-1 Climax semi-final, New Japan 8/15/04. This match primarily consists of Tenryu smacking around a prettyboy. So you know I like it.
Tenzan vs Tanahashi, NJ G-1 Climax 2004 Final. Tenzan has fended off two of the 'new three musketeers' today and now has to deal with the third, while Tanahashi only had one match. Will Tanahashi reach a new level in his career? Does Tenzan have enough in the tank?
Tamura vs Hiroyuki Ito, U-Style 8/18/04. Easily my favorite U-Style match, and widely seen as one of the best in the company's history. Ito is a huge underdog and he refuses to quit, leading to a very dramatic closing stretch as it becomes clear that as long as he's still alive he's a threat to Tamura. 86 MB.
Tamura vs Ito, U-Style 8/18/04. Match-only bitrate upgrade.
Sasaki & The Florida Brothers vs Do Fixer, Dragon Gate 9/17/04. Ah, such big entrances. Techno & dancers vs JAMES MF BROWN. Lots of lead-in material before the actual match begins. There's a mix of standard spots done with Sasaki, standard spots made more interesting with Sasaki, and new spots for Sasaki. The pace and creativity put this above the average comedy match. There's even about two minutes of good action before the finish!
Dragon Gate's animated intro.
Ohtani & Omori vs Tanaka & Sakata, Zero-One 10/3/04. Good match that leads to one of the more unique finishes ever. No, really, it's worth watching just for the end.
Sasaki & Nakajima vs Kawada & Ishikari, All Japan 10/11/04. The 'stiff veteran teams with fiery young lion against a similar team' formula is tried-and-true in puroresu. Sasaki and Kawada both excel in the former role, and Nakajima in the latter. The question-mark is Ishikari, who just couldn't bring the heat the way one would expect from a Kawada trainee. In the case of this match, Ishikari is passable. What makes this worth watching is the AWESOME Kawada/Nakajima interplay. As with Kawada/KENTA, it's a pity we didn't get more of it.
Sasaki vs Nagata, NJ 10/17/04, clipped. A bloody slugfest that tragically has never been shown in full outside their pass-protected website. Their 1/4/04 Tokyo Dome match is more famous, but I prefer this one despite the non-finish.
Milano Collection AT, YOSSINO & Mori vs Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito & Horiguchi, Dragon Gate 10/24/04. DG 6-man goodness. 128 MB.
Aagan Issou vs Mochizuki, Yokosuka, K-Ness, TARU & Shingo Takagi, Dragon Gate 10/24/04. Impromptu main event 10-man tag as a result of the actions of the uber-heel stable. 96 MB.
Kawada vs Shibata, NJ 11/3/04. Ultra-stuff, non-stop sprint.
Big Boss MA-G-MA vs Billy Ken Kid, Tennozan finals, Osaka Pro 11/3/04, clipped. Size versus skill, and a finals-quality finish!
Yokosuka, K-Ness & Ken Arai vs Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito & Horiguchi, Dragon Gate 11/16/04. Nice opening match sprint. 110 MB.
DDT 11/18/04. The highlight is a long-distance series of title matches for the 24/7 title, mostly involving members of the general public. 115 MB.
Kawada vs Tenzan 12/5/04 pre-match.
Kawada vs Tenzan, Triple Crown, All Japan 12/5/04. Kawada won their first two matches and is on the biggest roll of his career. Tenzan is coming off his win in the G-1 and is far ahead of where he was three years ago, and even then he came close to pulling off a win over Dangerous K.
Sasaki & Suzuki vs Tanahashi & Nakamura, tag title decision match, NJ 12/11/04. The belts were vacated when Takayama got hurt. Sasaki isn't exactly a downgrade, and Takayama/Suzuki was nigh invulnerable. Can New Japan's young guns avoid the beating of their lives? Well... no. But can they take said beating and still win? Well...
Florida Express vs Do Fixer, all masks & hair on the line, Dragon Gate 12/16/04. An "epic" rematch of their classic from September, this is 4 vs 4. With deluxe extrances and post-match fallout. 241 MB.
Italian Connection vs Aagan Issou, trios titles, Dragon Gate 12/16/04. Good lucharesu action, good face vs heel dynamic, good match. 131 MB.