Before the show started we get footage of Jumbo coming out for a show, meet and greet with fans and then hitting 3 moves in a geezer 6 man tag that more resembled a Monty Python stage play than a pro wrestling match.
1) Jun Akiyama v. Doug Furnas- 4
This was going to be a fun match, Akiyama has shown a lot of fire in this tourney so far, thing that dragged this match down was Furnas on offense, he wasn't his usual dynamic self, lots of boring grinding submissions and no power moves to wear Jun down with. Akiyama's comeback and flash pin was slightly inspired but not enough to pull this from the near dregs.
2) Toshiaki Kawada/ Akira Taue/ Yoshinari Ogawa v. Takao Omori/ Stan Hansen/ Giant Baba- 4
This was also a very underwhelming tag bout, with Kawada and Hansen working the majority of it. Ogawa didn't impress here, very weak on his spots and had no sense of direction in the ring, like he was wandering through a garden hedge maze. Baba was Baba, no getting around that, but the other parts of the teams didn't hold up much on their end. And this went way too long, like it was thrown together for a spot on the card.
3) Mitsuharu Misawa v. Kenta Kobashi- 8
This match showcased why these two are so great, I marked out with all the awesome counters they had to each other, and not just "you duck this clothesline, i'll duck yours" stuff, i mean intricate moves that were countered to the next, setting up the match as two serious rivals that knew, truly dug and feared the other's work. Misawa's elbows and Kobashi's chops.....does it even need to be said how murderous they were? One neat thing here is there werent a lot of covers, which wouldn't seem to make sense, but here it was clearly laid out as if they were only wasting time on a cover after a big move and they stuck with it the whole time. Misawa's vocal yelling every time his chest was blistered with one of Kenta's limbs resonated with me and Kobashi's "O-face" sell let me look away from his 80's glam-rock hair at the time. And the dude was wearing orange, what kind of shit was he into at this time, Velvet Underground and Pixie dust parties? It doesn't matter because this was a war and made me seriously want to see their other work together.
4) Doug Furnas/ Dan Kroffat v. Kenta Kobashi/ Tsyoshi Kikuchi- 4
We get the first lockup and the last 10 minutes of this match, giving you no context at all about what happened here. All we know is there's a long extremely hot finishing sequence that happens. Kikuchi is one tough bastard, if more charisma could have been a player possibly. Reverse superplex that beats him could have had him eating through a straw if not more careful, Kobashi not as prevalent here as usual.
5) Dan Spivey v. Stan Hansen- 3
Former partners and I like how Spivey takes it right to Hansen. He just looks like an old wounded dog, getting punched in the eye repeatedly, with no answer. Spivey looked good here in his short spurts but it didn't take long for him to fall to a lariat, would have fit perfectly on a Raw as a fun short tv match, anything to take 3 minutes from a DX promo.
6) Mitsuharu Misawa v. Jun Akiyama- 5
This had the feeling of a New Japan match. Akiyama was all Achilles right from the start, just blowing through Misawa with big moves. Misawa always ducks outside if in trouble but here Jun followed him and never let up. Really good back and forth and hot near falls with Jun looking every bit as if he belonged in the ring. Not sure what the submission aspect of Misawa's tourney performance is, it had no real build to it and left me feeling unsatisfied, like a salami sandwhich or a Elmore Leonard novel.
7) Akira Taue v. Toshiaki Kawada- 5
This was main event with the fans buzzing to see these two lock up, the results were mixed. Kawada ate a nasty shot right from the get go that made the knees weak and put him down. They weren't holding back on the kicks and punches, really reving up the fans and the action. Long rest hold spots felt very strange though, as if they had nothing else to do or didn't want to do it, outside brawl was kind of tame too, like the 3rd season of Animaniacs, when it was only on during Sat. mornings. Finish happened with no fanfare and I feel like we hadn't seen the best of what they had to offer.