Tokyo, Japan Tokyo Dome Attendance: near 50,000
1 Haruka Eigen v. Mitsuo Momota- 2- The seniors tour kicked off this huge extravaganza for NOAH, which has slowly over the years become one of my favorite promotions. The high spots in this match consisted over which geezer could make the other geezer spit the farthest into the crowd with a chop. Yeah. And the fans bring umbrellas. Now, that's crowd participation.
2 Tamon Honda/ Jun Izumida/ Tsuyoshi Kikuchi v. Masao Inoue/ Kishin Kawabata/ Masaji Aoyagi- 4- This match was a slow paced one that never really got started before it ended. There were some nice submissions and a few double teams attempted, but other than that it was kind of a dud. The crowd seemed like they were patiently waiting for the rest of the show.
3 Michael Modest/ Donovan Morgan v. Kotaro Suzuki/ Ricky Marvin- 5- This match could've been a show stealer except for the complete confusion during the last five or six minutes. Modest and Morgan were doing some really innovative moves and getting stiff, and Marvin, who's a sensational high flyer, was also showing his rough side, but the match fell apart. It looked like really bad regional indy shit and it was almost painful to watch. Modest and Morgan went over and hightailed it out immediately to try and outrun the stink.
4 2 Cold Scorpio/ Richard Slinger v. Akitoshi Saito/ Makoto Hashi- 5- Another really hard fought tag match. All four guys were punching, and kicking like they were trapped inside an Octagon. Scorpio was the vet here and did a good job leading these guys to a very exciting encounter. 2 Cold was also looking real funky with some awesome top rope splashes.
5 Akira Taue/ Naoki Sano v. Daisuke Ikeda/ Mohammed Yone- 4- I guess the seniors get another round. I wondered if Arnold Palmer was in attendance, but actually it was Harley Race. He wears a sport coat like nobody's business. I know Taue is a legend, and I do like his work, but he just hasn't been at par with some of the others in the Japanese scene. Maybe that's why he's trapped in the undercard.
6 Naomichi Marufuji/ KENTA v. Kendo Kashin/ Takashi Saguira- 8- Unbelievable! This was a great tag match. The first few minutes they were all testing the waters and seeing what each other had, but they soon went all out. Kashin and Saguira were doing the "we don't like each other, but we could win gold" gimmick and did it extremely well. Marufuji and KENTA are going to be huge stars in NOAH if they groom them for it. They could main event with the big boys if given the chance. This match had depth and more near falls than Courtney Love with death.
7 Jushin Liger v. Yoshinobu Kanemaru- 7- Another awesome encounter. Kanemaru doesn't look like a wrestler, he looks like a pizza delivery guy, but he can swing. Liger was throwing palm heels like Randy Johnson throws a fastball. There was some great stuff from the top rope and the finish worked wonders. Kanemaru upsets Liger and takes back NOAH's junior title from the outsider
8 Yoshihiro Takayama/ Minoru Suzuki v. Takesihi Rikio/ Takeshi Morishima- 5- These big boys did not look ready to throw down. Not one of them was in really good shape. But, they were on a prime spot on the card and had to perform. So, what did they do? The only thing they could do and that was get stiff with each other. So many pins were broken in this match with brutal kicks and errant slaps. If these guys didn't like each other, it showed. And if they did, I wouldn't want to be their enemies. The finish came off well, too.
9 Taiyo Kea/ Keiji Muto v. Mitsuharu Misawa/ Yoshinari Ogawa- 9- The first meeting ever between arguably the two biggest stars from their former rival promotions, Muto of New Japan and Misawa of All Japan. The crowd was buzzing like a fucking colony of bees amassed inside the Empire State Building. They tagged in against each other pretty quickly and both traded their signature moves right off and then tagged out again. Great psych! God, they should be professors. Muto and Kea were great heels and pretty much dominated Ogawa, but when he finally made the hot tag, Misawa came in on fire and just beat their faces in. The match ended after all four men were just knocking each other out of the ring and traded finishing moves. A legendary match for not just Japanese fans, but all Wrestling appreciators.
10 Kenta Kobashi v. Jun Akiyama- 10- Here, it is. A 10. The first 10 in Never Hand Over history. The Holy Grail of scores. Why should this match of all matches watched and reviewed by not only me, but two other wrestling saavy enthusiasts receive this epic grade? Why should this match of all matches garner the otherwise thought of as unattainable score of 10 when so many before them have tried and failed? The answer is simple and yet it is not. First and foremost, I believe it important to put my stamp on these scores and show my range. I have given many ones and even more zeros, but now I've given a 10 and this match is my golden god.
The history of this match was epic in it's own right and had a great video package to go along with it. This would only be their third encounter, with both men winning one match apiece. Add to the fact that they were a super power tag team in All Japan for many years called Burning and they had the lethal combination of maybe the two most dangerous finishers in all of wrestling: the Exploder and the Orange Crush( which Kobashi no longer uses) Then, add the fact that NOAH's version of the World Title was on the line and it couldn't get any bigger than that. Now, the match itself. I want to go on record and say that this was probably the most physical match I have ever seen and I have seen a lot! Every chop, every forearm, every freakin' shoulderblock for that matter was given with 100% stiffness and it showed. These guys were sweating after only five minutes and then went another thirty onto that. Both men took a earth shattering, bone crunching, heart pounding, ground shaking superplex from the top corner buckle to the outside cement floor. I think there have been plane crashes with nicer landings. Then, towards the end of the match, both men trade finishers and get right back up and give another one. Both of their chests were beaten raw and I didn't even know how either could stand up. Kobashi,the Iron Man, in the end got the duke and I applauded. I was in my room at 3:30 in the morning but I applauded and thanked God and Highspots for providing this wonderful cassette to me. So, there you have it. I have reached for that silver lining in the sky, and it brings me the utmost pleasure to have given the first 10 for the site and the utmost pleasure to have seen that match. It makes me proud to be a wrestling fan. So, everyone out there, do yourself a favor and seek this show out at any cost.
(Editor's Note: This is Jessie's 50th wrestling review and I wanted to take a second to thank him for his contributions to my website. Jessie, you and I have been watching wrestling together since we were kids. We were such fans, we'd stay up all night creating games and recording audio shows about it. One way to look at it is that wrestling helped bring us together... and for that I am forever grateful. I look forward to watching many more bad Austin brawls with you in the future.)