Muto's 20th Anniversary Bash- let's fight and blind some fools
1) Super Love Machine/ Love Machine Arashi/ Mini Love Machine v. Masa Fuchi/ Nobutaka Araya/ Nobakazu Hirai- 2
The masked trio of Love Machines (at least Art Barr had good abs when he used that gimmick) would probably make a good living in Mexico but i'm guessing this was short lived. They actually brought a small cage with them that reminds me of carnivals from grade school where you could buy a ticket to put someone in a jail cell. Fuchi looked like he'd much rather be sitting on his porch with a cup of coffee watching the college girls across the street wash their car than dealing with this shit. Araya lays in some clotheslines but there's not much in this opener.
2) Suwama v. Akira Raijin- 4
This was a fun match, not for everyone i know. Basically two young boys, who only did what they could, but selling was there, execution a little slow and not as crisp as you'd like but they were deliberate with each action and it helped make the story a lot clearer than if they were going 100 miles a minute.
3) Taka Michinoku/ Nosawa/ Mazada v. Tomoaki Honma/ Taichi/ Hi69- 4
Taka took the brunt of punishment, which was for the best. I've never warmed up to Honma, post death match career, but he did a boss powerbomb. A few fun moments that really sang to me, my favorite was this sick kick to the back of the head Taka blasted Taichi with when he wasn't looking. Finish was weak sauce and hurt the momentum they were building.
4) Kaz Hayashi v. AKIRA (AJPW Jr. Title Match)- 5
AKIRA was treating this as a huge match, probably one of the bigger ones of his later years. Kaz is a good big match performer, knee work in the beginning was smooth but once he got cooking pulling out his top stuff, he looked on fire, ala NBA Jam. Loved the knees up on Akira's big splash, one of the best examples of that spot i've seen in some time. Ending got repetitive though and if finished stronger, i could recommend this, but instead i'll recommend Akira to install those pneumatic tubes into his arm and enjoy a nice shot of bourbon to assuage his pain.
5) Osamu Nishimura/ Jinsei Shinzaki v. Abdullah the Butcher/ Ruckus- 4
Ruckus is a far cry from doing backflips through muddy back yards in front of 20 bucktoothed teenagers as a teenager; now he's in the Land of the Rising Sun teaming with a guy who's bled 5,000 times before this kid's parents procreated behind the school bleachers. Match had a lot of fun elements, Nishimura's awesome selling, Ruckus' high flying, Abby's blood letting, but never really amounted to a fully fleshed out match.
6) Love Machine X v. Satoshi Kojima- 4
This was physical, they wasted no time as within 3 minutes Kojima totally was making a face that said "so this is what it's like...." A quick search tells me X is Jungle Jim Steele, a much ballyhooed character from our WorldWide 94 project. He hangs with Kojima move for move, there's just not much emotion behind it. They trade slams and suplexes and Steel keeps trying a tilt a whirl and nearly bungling it. 2 spots totally felt odd here; Kojima takes a nasty powerbomb on the outside to no pop whatsoever and later, he falls slow motion into a turnbuckle from a slingshot; looked more awkward than that Crystal Hefner Playboy cover.
7) Toshiaki Kawada v. Taiyo Kea (AJPW Triple Crown Championship)
Title match featured some of Kawada's typical stuff, odd, yet brutal strike exchanges, big power moves that will surely cause extra therapy sessions. Kawada's many years battling Misawa has left him with an array of suplexes that are among the most devastating ever thrown. Kea is game though, a great kicker and late round fighter, these two trade bombs until the very last one, not focusing a lot of time on submissions.
8)Keiji Muto/ Mitsuharu Misawa v. Kensuke Sasaki/ Hiroshi Hase- 7
So, muto's 20th anniversary match, sort of obvious what's going to happen in the end, the arm work that took up a good chunk of this felt way too textbook. The opening was pretty crazy though, Misawa took an Exploder that damn near turned him inside out. There was a couple double finisher sequences that were really fun, Hase seemed really game and focused as well. It was a treat watching Misawa square off with these classic new Japan fighters and he didn't hold back. Actually it was just a treat being able to watch him again. I didn't particularly see a whole lot i liked from Muto, except his version of the Emerald Frosien on Hase.
Overall this felt pretty underwhelming for a big All Japan show but the video piece on Muto's career is phenomenal.