1. Shito Ueda & Yuzuru Saito vs. Yuji Okabayashi & Takumi Tsukamoto – 3
2. Yusaku Obata & Mio Shirai vs. Shinsuke Jet Wakataka & Io Shirai – 3
3. FUNAKI & Kenta Kakinuma vs. KAMIKAZE & Rikiya Fudo – 3
4. Takuya Sugawara & Kaijin Habu Otoko vs. Hikaru Sato & Munenori Sawa – 5
5. Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Ikuto Hidaka – 7
6. Masato Tanaka, Kohei Sato & Ryouji Sai vs. Shinjiro Otani, Yoshihiro Takayama & Akebono – 5
I haven’t watched any Japanese wrestling on a regular basis in over a year now so I may be a bit fuzzy on some of the smaller names and some of the moves so just bear with me. First bout was ZERO1 vs. Big Japan. I saw Okabayashi on last year’s King of Trios tournament and enjoyed his work. His forearms in the first exchange of the bout with Ueda were very hard and made Ueda’s look weak in comparison. However, the person who's work I enjoyed most in the match was Saito. He had some really hard kicks, including one to Tsukamoto that sounded like a shotgun blast. He hit a nice belly-to-belly suplex and a backbreaking sit-out powerbomb on Tsukamoto. I didn’t find much I liked in Tsukamoto’s offense but I did enjoy like the fact that he was very vocal in the ring.
Next bout was advertised as a mixed tag match but ended up being an intergender match where guys and girls and fight each other. Jet Wakataka seemed like a waste of space in the match to me. He kept the same goofy, cheesy smile on his face for the majority of the bout and just simply refused to fight Mio Shirai when he was in the ring with her. Just as well, and she routinely kicked the shit out of him and anyone else she was in the ring with. Crowd was laughing early on with a few comedy bits between the two but I wasn’t. Obata’s best move of the bout was a dropkick to the back of Io Shirai’s head that damn near gave her whiplash.
Glad to see Funaki getting work after being let go from Smackdown. I was digging his bumping but other than that he seemed stuck in a rut. His partner, Kenta Kakinuma, had a nice diving senton to the outside as the highlight of his day but other than that, he didn’t really impress me. I really liked Fudo. He worked really stiff and seemed to be the only one in the match who was not on cruise control. He delivered one clothesline that almost decapitated poor Funaki. With a name like Kamikaze, you’d expect some crazy shit out of him but that didn’t happen and he didn’t provide anything in the way of memorable offense.
Fourth bout was for the NWA International Jr. Tag Team Titles and I’ll be honest here, I had a hell of a time trying to figure out who was who. Otoko in a character that looks like he came from the lucha world. He’s got a mask reminiscent of TNA relic Rellik with a long tail on the back of it that seemed like more harm than help at times. The beginning where Otoko and Sato slapped each other so damn hard was fun to watch. Sawa tried the cartwheel elbow move on the outside but ended up catching the ringpost. Only memorable things Sugawara brought to the table were when he posted his elbow in Sawa’s ribs on and abdominal stretch and when he started whacking the opposition with some sort of plastic storage container. Otoko caught Sato coming off the top rope and turned it into a half card. Later, he got some good air on a suicide dive. The match itself had some pretty good nearfalls but nothing to really wet your shorts about.
I remember Hidaka from the long forgotten MLW back in 02-03. He had a war here with regining ZERO-1 champ Daisuke Sekimoto (who by the way is sporting the old AWA World Title belt). The match started off slow with some mat work, the highlight of which was them exchaning necktie chokes. Sekimoto’s facials in the first half left a lot to be desired and his face was just sort of blank in comparison to Hidaka’s facials which were fantastic throughout. Judging by the crowd reaction, I’m guessing that Sekimoto is working heel here. The middle part of the bout was Hidaka working over Sekimoto’s knee, which he convieniently forgot to sell on offense until Hidaka locked him in a figure four, which he sold with deep, guttural screams like a bear caught in a trap in the woods. The match really kicked into high gear beginning with an awesome sequence that saw them trade standing switches to begin with and culminated in Sekimoto getting the upper hand and laying out Hidaka with a spine-breaking sit out powerbomb for a nearfall that had the crowd on the edge of their seat. This was followed up by a frog splash from Sekimoto and a high kick from Hidaka. Hidaka got really close to a submission with the ankle lock (which he added to by trying to knot up his oppoent’s hamstrings) and Sekimoto got two really close nearfalls with a lariat and a German suplex. The finish was wild. Sekimoto had Hidaka up on his shoulders, tossed him in the air, and the caught him and executed an ill German suplex. Best thing on the show by far.
Time for the main event and Tanaka has slimmed down a hell of a lot from the last time I saw him. Action spilled out of the ring with a crowd brawl, something not seen a lot in Japanese main events. I really liked watching Akebono’s in ring work. He really used his size well and completely no sold everything. Everything he does is really high impact, especially late in the bout when he came out of nowhere and just killed Sato with a pounce. Everyone else in the match though seemed like they were taking the night off. Takayama didn’t sell a lot during his ring time. Otani showed some vigor and ate some hard kicks from Sato and Sai which he returned later on by face washing Sato. The nearfalls here didn’t have anywhere the heat that you would expect. Maybe it was because the crowd was a bit burnt on all the nearfalls in the previous bout. A German suplex from Takayama closed the book on this bout and the show as a whole.